Monday, April 21, 2008

Small Business Online Operations Plan

I have been working with my brother-in-law to really escalate the operations of his small business Thinwrench, which offers custom wrench and tool manufacturing. He has had the business since the 1990's and has had the site since I believe 2001.

The site gets a fair amount of traffic and it generates a small trickle of orders for him though out the year, but nothing really significant. It is impressive though considering he does next to nothing to maintain or evolve the site, it's content, and online presence.

So we are always trying to get together and breathe some life into it. He is a real smart guy who has almost zero time to put into his business outside his day job. This is definitely a common problem for aspiring entrepreneurs.

So I have launched a new BETA version of his small business web site using the same look, but hoping to give him a new set of content management (CMS) tools to assist him in making his site maintenance and syndication easier.

My goal with the new small business online operations plan is to give a simple framework to:
So I put together a basic outline that lays out the plan for:
  • Writing home page, about us, and contact us content for use on his web site as well as throughout his online marketing and social media marketing efforts.
  • Develop a list of initial products he will offer through his small business web site.
  • Develop a list of initial services his business will offer through his small business web site.
  • Establish a basic keyword marketing strategy to use as a framework when marketing his site and writing content.
Once his site is up with the new content we will start laying out:
  • Marketing Plan Outline
  • Online Marketing Plan Outline
  • Social Media Marketing Plan Outline
  • Advertising Plan Outline
We will keep each plan and strategy simple and realistic and easy to implement. My goal is for him to be successful and not get overwhelmed with strategy and execution and never get anywhere.

He probably has 4-8 hours a week maximum to spend on his web site maintenance, content creation, marketing, advertising, and overall online presence. That isn't much.

He has to execute in the 1st round so he has a deep understanding of how the site maintenance, marketing, social media marketing and advertising process works before he can delegate to anyone else. This is critical as the owner of a small business.

So keeping it simple and obtainable, and employing an agile process for executing, evaluating and planning for changes every week is crucial.

I will keep posting on his progress, challenges and successes.

Participate in Question and Answer Sites to Market Yourself

I go through spurts where I monitor and participate on Question and Answer web sites. Usually I monitor Yahoo Answers & LinkedIn Answers via RSS feeds.

I gather a lot of information and knowledge this way and keep organized using tags in Google Reader and Google Notebook.

I also participate and give my answer or feedback on questions from time to time.

I haven't been doing this for a couple months now, but I did actively participate for months at a time.

I recently got the following email off LinkedIn:

For a while now, I've been digging around for answers to a question that no one seems to be able to answer. Your name keeps coming up in my searches. If you don't mind, I would like to tap your brain.

How would you project your monthly costs in terms of storage and bandwidth if you didn't know
how much traffic to expect on your startup photo/video sharing site?

This is just one notable connection I've made via social networks, thought it showed the value of a continued presence for your business on Questions and Answer web sites.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bad Debt in America and How Bad it Really Is

I was just watching Bill Maher and was listening to their discussion on Kevin Phillips book called Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, and Cornel West said something that summed up how sad things really are:

We can see how sad this really is.
If we really want to tell the truth in a powerful way.
We have corporate greed running a muck.
We don't have enough jobs with a living wage for fellow citizens.
Unavailable health care and child care for millions.
Disgraceful school systems.
Failing infrastructure.
Then you have a political sphere where you can't have a critical debate or dialogue about these issues.
Then we have imperial occupation in Iraq.
That is the makings the collapse of an empire.

Cornel West said several things that were extremely well spoken and enlightening, but this statement really summed up my concerns at the moment during this election.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fast Track to Widgets, Facebook, and OpenSocial Apps

I have been deploying large amounts of widgets, Facebook and OpenSocial applications to various social networks and platforms lately.

Even though I am a programmer I have been able to do much of my heavy lifting using tools that are already available to me without any programming at all.

I use a combination of Youtube, Ning, Flickr and other social media content platforms. I then syndicate using their native tools and build widgets using Widgetbox. Once I have my widgets deployed on Widgetbox I can then easily deploy to Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, IGoogle, Orkut and any other platform that embraces OpenSocial.

I am putting together a series of slides based upon this process for others to use. Look for another post regarding this process.

Friday, April 4, 2008

50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth

My wife and I just finished launching a new site for a client called 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. It is the revised, updated edition of a book originally released in the 1990's and was New York Times bestseller.

We have been working hard for 3 months to design, develop and launch the site to support he book's release by Earth Day.

It is a significant site for us. It is our first major release on the Original Web Solutions Version 4.0 Architecture and if I must say is a really nice site.

We are really proud of the design and architecture. It uses the OWS Network build methodology deployed on the Mosso Hosting Cloud to support the amount of traffic. In the first 12 hours we have had 500 people.

Also this site is exciting because of its simple approach to enlightening the world about little things they can do to save the world!

Make sure and check it out.