Tag Archives: customers

The day to day reality of business start-up

5 May

Starting self-employment as a sole trader, whether it’s as a window cleaner or dog groomer is a long process but completely worth it! It can be hard to know what to expect in the early days so we have spoken to Ritchie, a self-employed car valeter to give us some tips.  


Raising funds:
Your new venture may require specific equipment or start-up essentials and you need to find a way to raise the funds. You might start off by selling unwanted personal goods (I’d recommend your games console as you’ll have less time to play it if you’re committed!) or by asking family and friends for support. There are always start-up loans and banks but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received from those around me.

Gaining new custosprayingmers: No matter what kind of day you’re having or what mood you’re in you must remain polite and presentable with customers. Those first impressions are critical to spreading news of your business and building your customer base.  Never let a customer down by arriving late and remember there are always competitor’s ready to fill your place if you don’t give good service!

Constant commitment: When I’ve finished valeting a car I can’t just make my way down to the pub. I’ve got to think about completing my paper work, meeting new customers, replacing stock and cleaning my equipment. Then there are other duties that might not have been thought of such as visiting the bank, training, buying new equipment and keeping up with industry trends. Just stay on top of your tasks and you will see great reward.

Getting support: It’s ok to not know some aspects of business start-up and there is plenty of support available out there. There are sites such as the HMRC site or organisations like Opportunity Plus (www.opsw.co.uk) that can offer advice or guidance.

It may seem like a lot of work but I LOVE working for myself. I get to meet people from all walks of life, earn my own money and see my business grow. I’m constantly learning new skills and surprising myself without dreading Monday morning!

You get what you put in, persevere through the start-up phase and you will succeed!

Check out Ritchie’s website at http://www.carcareplus.co.uk/

Getting more visitors to your website – Search Engine Optimisation

4 Feb

Tim from Weboptimists.co.uk has kindly shared his top ten tips for Search Engine Optimisation – a term that most of us have heard of, and know we need to use to increase our website traffic, but don’t know where to start to improve it!  These useful tips should help you get your website coming up on Google searches and getting more visitors to your website.

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) is essentially how you get to the top spots when people search for what you offer on the internet. A website can look amazing, it can have the best deals in the world, it can provide invaluable advice, but the people searching for these things need to be able to find it.

So, what can you do to ensure your site turns up higher on the search engines?

Here are some easy steps:

1. Think like a customer. Ask yourself what your ideal customer would type when they’re looking for what you offer. Don’t call a website ‘The Amazing Emporium’ if what you actually sell is ironmongery!

2. Check what people are actually searching for. Check the Google Keyword Tool for how many people use certain search terms. (No-one searches for ‘The Amazing Emporium’, but over 22000 people searched for ‘Ironmongers’.) If you have a well recognised brand, use it, but otherwise concentrate on informing people of what you do.

3. To do this, your website needs to reflect what you do accurately. The title of each page needs to be descriptive. Calling your home page ‘Home’ doesn’t help anyone, nor does calling inside pages ‘page 2’ or similar. Let’s say you call your site ‘Architectural Ironmongery from Dorothy Jenkins Torquay’. This gets the people searching for your company name if they know it, what you do and, especially when combined with a region, you should start to turn up on Google for a good combination of searches which are relevant to your customers.

4. Aside from the title, you also have Heading tags. These are like headlines and sub-headlines in newspapers and can be used to further describe what you offer. Your H1 tag is the most important, so maybe ‘South Devon’s Premiere Architectural Ironmongers’. An H2 tag, or sub- headline could be ‘Door handles, knobs and letterboxes from Dorothy Jenkins’. You’ve now just expanded your search terms!

5. You will also need what is known as ‘body’ text to describe exactly what you sell. Ideally this will be around 300 words or so, accurately explaining what products you sell and what services you offer. Don’t try to stuff this with keywords, but do at least mention the things that you expect people to search for in this text. Keep it natural, try to engage with customers. Remember the marketing formula of AIDA – gain Attention, grab Interest, encourage a Decision and then suggest an Action they can take.

6. People love pictures. Unfortunately search engines don’t! So, include pictures for the people but, for the search engines, you have to make sure that the code they read is also descriptive. Instead of having ‘website picture 2.jpg’ call it ‘Quality brass door handles and Ironmongery’. You also get the chance to give it an alternative text tag, or ‘alt-tag’, which is the text that shows up when you hover your mouse over the picture. This can be a touch longer than the title but, again, should be descriptive and include likely search terms, like ‘Brass door furniture from Dorothy Jenkins – Torquay’.

7. Once your site is set up, make sure that you can use it. You should be able to get to every page on the site with no more than two clicks from the homepage. Interlink pages that are relevant to each other ‘So now you’ve seen our hinges, why not also look at our <locks and escutcheons> page!’

8. If you are happy with your site, go live! Submit your site to Google, as well as ‘pinning’ yourselves on Google maps. Also submit to Bing, as many companies have this as their default search engine. Finally, find an appropriate category in Dmoz to submit yourselves to, preferably within a region you cover, as their human editors may decide you’re being overambitious with your new site!

9. Tell everyone, especially those online. Ask them to share your homepage address on Facebook and Twitter. Search engines love to see a website which is engaged with its users and online social media links are their way of scoring your site for this.

10. Finally, start to create backlinks from other sites to yours. This could be by listing your site on the website of your trade body, or by developing links with other companies, whose services complement your own. For example, Dorothy Jenkins may decide to exchange links with a local door carpentry company and a fitting service. However, these links must be relevant – don’t be tempted to swap links with a site which is completely unrelated to yours. Many people will try to sell you links but this should be avoided: often search engines will penalise your site for trying to buy your way to the top. If you want to spend money – give it directly to one of the search engines, through a scheme such as Google Adwords, but read their guidelines first – a badly designed advert could be costly and ineffective.

Once you’ve done all of this, you should be well on your way to turning up in searches that your customers use. Aim for page one, as it is rare that people look beyond this, unless it is for something incredibly specific.

There is one thing you should continue to do – blog. Google loves a website which is updated regularly and a weekly or monthly blog will show that you are constantly refreshing your site. It also gives you a chance to showcase new products, introduce new staff, or talk authoritatively on a subject your company has expertise in. Publicise this regularly through your company Facebook page and Twitter feed. If your blog is interesting, funny, or of genuine interest, people will share the link to it, or even ask you to write for their websites on your specialist subject which may provide a link back to your own. And so the whole thing evolves!

Enjoy. Don’t get obsessed (that’s our job!). Write good content and offer a good service. Everything else will fall into place in time.

Website advice from the Weboptimists.co.uk

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