Tag Archives: website

What startups must consider when starting their business in 2016

Startups must consider the world as it stands in 2016. Everything is integrated in ways no one could’ve foreseen. Creating a business no longer means standing by rules or ideas that worked decades ago. Instead, new ways have had to be created just as new businesses begun. What matters to people these days differs dramatically from before, meaning businesses have to had to readjust their priorities in extraordinary ways.

We should therefore consider just what startups should consider as essential in 2016.

The internet is everywhere

If we don’t have a website, we don’t exist. A digital presence is everything. Customers are searching with their phones, using them to find info on everything about shops to products being sold. People forget that the entire continent of Africa is renowned as being the mobile continent, with a large number of phones in use. As Time pointed out, “nearly 70% of Amazon’s customers shopped via mobile devices [the in 2015] holiday season.”

Existing does not just mean having a website – it means having a working, reliable and easy to use site. We need to also be on social media, since this conveys further reliability. Customers don’t like fewer ways to contact businesses and will see absence as a negative.

As part of considering how we’ll exist online, we must consider if we’re opting for Cloud or VPS hosting, the type of site we’ll build and so on.  

Mobile is everything

As we’ve noted, mobile is essential. We must create services in a way that welcomes mobile engagement. This could mean either making our site mobile friendly or developing a mobile app. From big to small, all businesses have developed apps that allow users an easy way to engage with the business. Amazon has its own app, as does the local Mr Delivery – making selections easy for the customer and encouraging follow through of sales benefitting the business. The convenience of mobile is the biggest benefit for a business – not catering to it could mean collapse.

Challenge and growth

These days, people from all walks of life are obtaining degrees and education. The barriers restricting people based on their identity have reduced (but aren’t completely gone, unfortunately). This means we’re operating in a world increasingly diverse. We should attempt to look beyond the confines of those we know and associate with, bringing in talent and skills from people we might not meet otherwise. Businesses consistently benefit from diversity, too, since this brings new ideas and considerations from perspectives we’d never consider. Often, values can be challenged but this should be seen as a reason to grow, as a person and business.

3 must-haves for a small business

The business of being in business is no easy feat. There are so many factors to take into consideration to ensure the profitability of an offering. From attracting customers, retaining them, converting them to purchase goods, to having them return for additional purchases are all the functions a business owner needs to tend to. Not forgetting the all-important after sales service.

When businesses are run alone, business owners often find themselves struggling to tend to these essential business functions optimally. The introduction of business convenience mechanisms is thus vital to the survival of small businesses. These mechanisms, largely electronic based, help business owners to effectively manage and grow their businesses.

Business software

Back in the day, businesses manually recorded all sales and other important business related information. Today, this is no longer necessary and in fact, it is deemed very burdensome to do so. With the introduction of software packages to see to these tasks, business owners are provided with convenient accounting software to record transactions and manage the finances of their businesses easily. In addition, businesses can easily pull reports to gauge the growth of the business.

The core of a business is its customers, and managing customer information is thus vital to the success of a business. Customer relationship software is a must-have for businesses to retain their customer base as it can track customer purchase behavior, the profiling of clientele and also assists in regular engagements with them. There are a number of different software packages available for businesses, but the use of these packages is essential for businesses to run efficiently.

Security

Theft is rife within businesses and proper precautions need to be taken to ensure that no financial losses are sustained as a result. One surefire way to curb theft is the presence of closed circuit cameras. As much as it can help identify perpetrators in the event of theft, it can also act as a deterrent for burglars who are looking to pocket merchandise or equipment. Other deterrents such as alarm systems, security gates and window protection also add to the overall security of a business.

If a business sees a large amount of foot traffic, the installation of turnstiles also adds an element of safety as it gives customers one way to enter and exit. This limits the chances of someone entering and exiting the store without paying as they will need to exit at a designated point. Moreover, intelligent turnstiles can assist the business owner with important customer information through tracking the amount of people who enter the business. For example, if a business sees a certain amount of traffic into the business, but this traffic doesn’t convert into sales, there is likely to be a problem with the price of goods or how appealing the merchandise is to customers. By knowing this information, a business owner can easily adapt his or her strategy to convert these mere feet into once-off or repeat customers.

A website

A website for a small business is essential. However, the development of a website alone is not enough – it needs to be found by those who are looking for it. For this reason, content on the website needs to be optimized for search engines and also be free from any vagueness.  By its very nature, a website exposes a business to prospective customers like no other channel or platform would. It gives visitors an indication of what the business offers and where to find the business. This mechanism, if used properly, can be a major driver for sales and can serve as a means for growth too.

The mistake most small business owners make is to create a website and leave it unchanged forever. A website needs to be updated regularly so that it can be more appealing to its viewers, but more importantly, so that it can rank better when searched for in Google. Lastly, a website should be seen as the windows to a business, if it is covered and the contents of the store is not visible, people are less likely to enter and make a purchase. Should it be clear, with the contents of the store visible, it is more appealing to passersby and would probably result in a sale of some kind.

Your Rebranding Action Plan

Companies rebrand for many reasons – being under new ownership, changing direction, merging with another company or to modernise their image. Whatever the reason, however, the basic principles of doing it successfully remains the same.

To rebrand in a manner that will see to it that existing customers are retained and new ones acquired, a project plan must be established. During this kick-off phase, key people from within the company must also become involved. The process moves from here to the final phases during which the look is updated and launched. These are the stages we’ll look at in more detail.

Build brand identity

A company’s brand identity comprises those elements that customers see during direct dealings with the business or in the media. Top of the list are the business’s name, its logo, colours and payoff line. These have to work together to establish the desired brand image within the minds of the customers. When everything is signed off, commission the redesign of business cards, notepads, stationery, vehicles and any other customer touch points.

Update the website

While the rebranded website can’t be launched before a company’s intentions have been made public, a new website must be developed and designed in the background. The importance is evident when one considers that many customers first make contact with a company online. This applies not only to the website, but social profiles on the web too. Be sure to also take these into consideration. Together, the parts must form a cohesive whole.

Change the face of the company

With extensive changes to a company logo and colours, the updates will have to be pulled through to the physical building. This could be as simple as contacting signage companies and wall cladding suppliers to replace the old logo with the new one, or it could be as extensive as getting interior decorators in to revamp the entire building. The first solution would be the most cost effective, but a proper business analysis must be completed before deciding on which route to take.

Strategise the launch

This phase is listed last, but should definitely not be left until the last minute. If the launch fails, it could jeopardise the future success of the company.

With that said, it’s vital to answer the following questions:

  • What do we want the customer to know, i.e. what is the message the customer should take away from it all?
  • Through which channels will the launch happen? Don’t pick any channel – go to where the customer is.
  • When will the launch happen? Too soon or too late could be equally harmful.

Perhaps the most important question to answer at every step of the rebranding process is “Have covered absolutely everything?” To make sure that nothing gets left out, double check and triple check. The extra effort will be worth it at the end of a successful rebranding project.

Should I Translate my Business’s Website?

The question posed in the headline is one that should be considered carefully. The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that should be taken into account.

Presumably, you’re asking yourself the question because you are expanding your business into foreign markets. This means, first and foremost, you have to carefully examine the online habits of your future target market. If you are looking to tap into the European market, a 2011 Eurobarometer report done by the European Commission might provide some initial insight.

Responses from European citizens to the questions put forward by the European Commission showed that 9 in 10 internet users in the EU always visited a website in their own language, provided they had a choice of languages. A slim majority of respondents (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language. More than 4 in 10 (44%) respondents agreed that they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.

These finding were reported in the fourth section of the report, titled “Opinions about the availability of websites in several languages”, and is a clear indication of the fact European internet users, at least, would prefer to use a website in their own language.

Should you decide, following this and your own investigations, that you do in fact want to translate your website, you’d next want to consider whether it is financially feasible. Translating an entire website could be costly, and there is a chance that your business cannot afford it right now.

Don’t even consider doing the translation yourself or by using an online translation tool. That is unless you have an exceptional knowledge of the language you intend to use. Online translation tools are incredibly dangerous, because these tools have not been equipped with grammar rules, exceptions to those rules, nuances or accepted slang terms. It is highly likely that you will get an unintelligible mess back when you type a sentence into an online translation tool.

The best choice for your business and its reputation would be to use a professional translation agency. This type of agency would hand your website over to someone with expert knowledge of the language you want to translate your website to. This person will be aware of any vocabulary updates, slang or idioms, so the text you’ve used will contain its original meaning. The other advantage to this is that the text on your website would be in a language that’s up-to-date and readers will thus be able to relate to it. Use outdated forms of speech and people will be able to recognise that you are not familiar with them in an instant. This will tarnish your reputation.

Of course South Africa presents its own unique situation, because of our 11 official languages. So perhaps you don’t want to expand internationally, but do you want to target a wider audience base within the borders of the country. For instance, you could do a Sotho translation if you want to target the Free State, or a Zulu translation to take advantage of the KwaZulu-Natal market. The process would stay the same – familiarise yourself with how these target audiences browse the web and then look at whether you can afford to translate your entire website.

Whether the issue of expansion relates to international or local markets, it could be worth your while to investigate only translating parts of your online marketing strategy to start off with. Perhaps you can begin with your PPC ads or a monthly newsletter. It’s better to have something than nothing available in someone’s mother tongue if your research shows that is the language they prefer to be addressed in.