After nearly 10 years of “helping small businesses compete on the world wide web” we have come to realize that our roll is much more than being a website builder or web design company. What we have discovered is that we are actually small business advisors.
It is not uncommon for a client to contact us for a website and, through our initial questioning process, discover they are not really ready to launch a website. This is because the market we service – the “Truly Small Business” or “TSB” – consists mostly of individuals or a small team of people that have a great idea for a product or service but limited life experience in starting or expanding a company and launching their product. Unlike the well know “Small to Medium Business” or “SMB”, a TSB is usually a self-funded, self-managed company that is not looking for venture capital and/or large start up loans. I find it ironic that I read about “small businesses” and they are companies with 50 employees generating a few million dollars a year in revenues. Whereas, a truly small business generally has less than 10 employees (if any) and often generates just enough revenue to pay their expenses – on a good day. Yet, this sector of business is what really makes up the majority of “small businesses” in our country. Thus, at Coburn Enterprises, we have decided to promote the phrase TSB – Truly Small Business – to help this market sector gain recognition in the marketplace and gain a voice in our society.
With these ideas in mind, we are relaunching our company under Coburn Enterprises. This is the name we have been using for a few years now for our EIN number, merchant services account and other critical business activities. Although we will keep the branding of SiteBuilder Now for our “do-it-yourself” product group, we feel that Coburn Enterprises is more fitting for our current services.
Coburn Enterprises helps truly small businesses compete – not just on the world wide web. As small business advisors, we help companies, and individuals hoping to start or grow a company, ask themselves critical questions and make educated business decisions. We help our clients match their short and long term goals to available products and solutions – from what type of website to start with or upgrade to, to merchant service providers. We help them understand how these decisions will effect them today and in five years. We also help our clients filter through the bombardment of opportunities that come their way as soon as they register their dba or domain name.
Depending on the type of business and where they are at in their development process, we can help them with marketing channels, finding vendors, public relations and content development. We help companies determine revenue channels, pricing structures and new marketing strategies. For our clients that are at that crossroads between “staying small” and “taking it to the next level” we help them look at the advantages and disadvantages of their choices and opportunities.
When necessary, we also help our clients find outside consultants and resources. We help them write policies, hire employees and find the best accounting solutions for their needs.
And, of course, we are experts in website marketing, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
In the coming weeks you will see some exciting announcements including an introduction to our new product set and the official launch of our new websites. CoburnEnterprises.com and BetterEverything.net (http://www.bettereverything.net) a blogging system that will be part of our web marketing solutions and SMS – Social Media Synergy concepts.
Questions? Ideas? Fears? Don’t hesitate to contact us.
Having been in the website building business for more than 10 years now I’ve seen a lot of things. In the early days, when many hosting companies were still being run out of garages, it was not uncommon for people to call me ‘desperate’ because their website was down and the hosting company had “vanished”. To my amazement many of them didn’t have personal backups, and most of them weren’t listed as the owner of their own domains – which made it extremely difficult to reclaim it and theyoften had to start from scratch.
Surprisingly, I still get those calls today. Fortunately – most of the time we can at least build a new site on their original domain name. However, a recent experience reminded me that many people, including my clients, simply trust their webmaster to manage that information for them. But you should also check this yourself. Like I tell my clients it’s my “drop dead clause – If I drop dead these are the things you need to know”.
Often, it is not your web master’s intention to put your domain under their ownership – it’s just that we have all these tools that we use to support you and if we forget to make some edits – suddenly we find that we are the owner of your domain and not you – which is all fine and dandy until something happens to the webmaster (or you get really mad at them). So, here is what you need to do – check your records – do you know where your domain is registered? Do you know who the underlying wholesale provider is – for example I sell domains to my customers for convenience. But I purchase them from a wholesaler called Enom – so if something were to happen to me, my customers could actually go out to Enom and manage their domain. As a courtesy, I provide my clients with the information they would need to access that resource should something happen to me.
To find out if you are truly the registered owner of your domain (and where it is registered) you can go to DNSStuff.com – they have a tool called “who is” type your domain name in there (just the domain.com part) and you will get something back that looks similar to what I’ve posted below (scroll down for further explanation). Unless your domain was registered with Network Solutions – in which case you will be told to go to Network Solutions to look things up – but once you find the place to look it up you should see something similar to this:
Registration Service Provided By: Coburn Enterprises dba SiteBuilder Now
Domain name: yourdomain.com
Your Name ()
12345 NE 162nd Ave
Vancouver, WA 98682
12345 NE 162nd Ave
Vancouver, WA 98682
Harmony Coburn *****@sitebuildernow.net)
12345 NE 162nd Ave
Vancouver, WA 98682
Creation date: 20 Nov 2004 02:27:00
Expiration date: 20 Nov 2012 02:27:00
The most important part of what you see here is the Registrant’s information – as long as you are / your company is the Registrant – you can recover management of your domain even if you don’t know how to access it – it’s work but a website consultant could help. If your webmaster or hosting company is listed as the Registrant, you have no legitimate “rights” to your domain so you need to get in touch with them and get that changed as soon as possible.
For convenience I am often listed as both the Administrative and Technical contact for my clients – that way I can manage the tasks that are required to make sure the “internet” knows where to find their website – as long as you are the Registrant you’re ok. However, you should also know where and how to access your domain so that you can change things at any time – if you get mad at your webmaster, it is best to make sure they no longer have access to your domain and that you have full control before you notify them that you are leaving them – all hosting companies and webmasters are not necessarily as ethical as one would hope.
A final thought on this subject – LEGITIMATE REGISTRARS DO NOT SEND RENEWAL NOTICES IN THE US MAIL!If you get a notice in the mail that your domain is going to expire – contact your registrar or your webmaster or your hosting company and ask them about it – do not send money. Although most registrars have a default setting of “locked” these days, which prevents the transfer of your domain from one registrar to another without your permission, if yours was not locked, you could inadvertantly give your domain to someone who would take it over and put spam links on it or worse! In most cases, you will just be out the (ridiculous) fee they tell you to send.
As a small business advisor, specializing in helping truly small business determine the most effective use of their marketing dollars, including their website, I have helped many clients recover from unexpected losses of their website and domain. But it is difficult at best. If you don’t understand this or your have more questions feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to help.
As always, although I love making money doing what I love, I want to always hold true to my core values. I started this business with the goal of empowering other small businesses by helping them navigate the (sometimes overwhelming) information highway and find their place on the World Wide Web. Yes, I sell the services to do this for you – but I try very hard not to offer a service without reminding you that you can do what I do for yourself if you are willing to. So I generally don’t announce a new product or service without first putting together a “how to do this for yourself list”. So, here is my answer to the latest trend in search engine marketing (we have branded this Search Engine Dominance):
Too tired or too busy actually running your business to do all of this – no problem, we can do it for you :-). Learn how Coburn Enterprises helps customers win the Search Engine Dominance challenge!.
One of my clients called today because his “boss” just got back from a Search Engine Marketing seminar and this prompted a lot of questions – of course – I LOVE these phone calls because part of my goal with my business is to empower each client (all small business owners, most like me struggling to make a living doing something they love). We did a quick review of his website and I gave him some instant homework that, if he does it will make an immediate impact on his “search rankings” – basically I walked him through the points I list on my Search Engine Dominance article on my website.
But what prompted me to write this post was his question – “are there any books you can recommend to help me understand this?”. My answer was, yes there are thousands. Then I followed up with an email stating the following:
As you read the books and articles or even websites you will find on this subject, keep in mind that 9 out of 10 sites that are telling you how important Search Engine Marketing and Social Media have become are really “selling” their services. I guess in a way I am too but I have a different take on the whole thing – my perspective is that the only thing a site owner can be 100% sure of is that the search ranking criteria WILL CHANGE – so the “quick fix” that works today may not work in 6 months or a year – therefore, the most important thing any website owner can do is make sure their site says what it does and does what it says.
Today it’s “social media” – the concept of using online communities to hype your website, filling your profile and fan pages with “key word links” and tons of borderline useless content and links back to your website. But bottom the reality if you tell the search engines your site is about Purple Widgets and you put enough key words in your page titles etc to come up number one for Purple Widgets but then Purple Widget shoppers get to your site and find out you really offer only Green Widgets – you’re going to lose in the long run.
Moral to the story – do the right thing, provide the information that people that you want to be your customers are looking for, edit that content to include the phrases, page titles and key word links (to pages within your site as well as quality complimentary sites) that they will search for and you will have success.
A hundred years ago, when I first decided to make my “profession” sales, I took a Dale Carnegie class. One of the things I carry with me to this day is that statement. The point the instructor was making was – don’t go into the sales presentation so excited to tell the customer all the reasons YOU think your product is great. Instead, give them just enough information to make them beg you to make the sale.
Years later, I applied this same principle in resume writing and job search coaching. I helped my clients sort out their skills and capabilities and decide which ones would make it so the person reading the resume couldn’t stand it – they just HAD to meet you! I would remind them that the resume was not supposed to get you the job – it was supposed to get you the interview. The ones that “got” this did extremely well.
I have found this theory applies to websites too. The goal with (most) websites is not to close the sale. The goal is to encourage the visitor to want to do business with you. Of course, if your intent is to sell products on line you might think this isn’t really the case… but it still is – they may come to your site looking for one thing but why not make them interested in learning about the rest of what you have to offer?
Don’t try to be all things to all people on your home page. Instead, provide “grabbers” and insights that will interest the variety of customers you may have and make it easy for them to drill down into the meat of what they are looking for – on ecommerce sites this is pretty easy – you can use product categories as a navigation system – but that idea can cross over to any website. In fact, this is one of the reasons blogs are so popular – it’s easy for the blogger to create navigation tools for their visitors. For example, the title of this post is Don’t spill all of your jellie beans in the lobby – but I gave it tags like “Getting people to your website is only the first step”, “How do customers find my product or service”, “Design Vs. Function” etc etc. This is becaues different people look for answers in different ways.
What do we need to tell our customers right way?
How do we support our the claims we make about the products or services we deliver?
Create a call to action….