Bedroom Developer to Business Entrepreneur – 5 Survival Tips to Running Your Own Website Business

Consider the scenario: You are a bedroom developer/designer who over the past two years has built websites for friends, family and local business in your spare time and now you want to run your own website business. Undoubtedly this starting point is an exciting time, typically when one starts out in web design you are either creatively dominant or technically. Generally speaking for those who claim to be in the middle this is fine it just means when the time comes to delegate – make sure you know which side of the fence you will sit on.

Note: This is only applicable in the first year of running your website business – all shall be revealed in my later articles.

The web industry is a saturated marketplace however there is good news for the budding new bedroom developer or designer. Website and Internet development has only really been around for 30 years and if you compare that with industries like Steel, Mining, Catering, General high street retail etc… this is not a patch on their 1000+ year histories.

The fact is the “Industry Life Cycle” for website development and Internet technologies is still in its growth phase and showing little sign of maturing. The reason why I am telling you this is because by the very nature of its youth the continual release of new ideas and innovation will continue to thrive throughout your lifetime. There will always be new ideas, new trends set and new ways of doing things that others hadn’t thought of as well as the continual opportunity to do better than the next person.

The web industry is plagued with limited standardisation, have you ever wondered why there are over 8 internet browsers? Why does Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 all have their own interpretation of style-sheets.

Why, oh why? Can we not build a website to work on one Internet browser and it will not work on another. Well historically it comes down to the fact that Internet standards have never been properly enforced or advised.

In 1994 was the dawn of the World Wide Web consortium and from there on in, their initiatives have been the most respected and followed standards for website building as we know it today. (for more visit their website)

So where was I? Ah yes, the bedroom designer/developer – well like all businesses your number one asset to get new your business running is REPUTATION!

Reputation is earned and the better you can build on this reputation, then the better you are going to survive in your first years in business. The way it generally works is that if you do a good job for someone – then likelihood is that they will tell their friends and so forth and then someone in that chain will want a website.

So here are my core rules in first year survival for running your own website business or any business (for that matter):

Rule 1: When an opportunity comes to build a website or even just something small – make sure that your 1ST job is done really well, above and beyond expectation.

It sounds stupidly obvious but I can tell you – this set me aside from the competition I was facing in my first year. If successful you immediately set yourself up to have a referral or recommendation.

Rule 2: Make sure you know how much it costs you (in hours) to build a website! Work out your hourly rate and then get a price together. The single most criminal mistake by nearly all website developers and business owners I’ve met over the years is getting your price wrong and when you do get it wrong… IT HURTS!

Trust me – it only takes one difficult client, or someone who changes their mind and does not understand what you do and you’ll be working every hour God sends for peanuts!

Rule 3: Understand domains and the impact of changing DNS settings, many people do not have a clue behind the impact of a poorly configured/managed domain-name can have on their business. If you can demonstrate common sense and understanding this will give you confidence in front of clients and handling the ‘dreaded go live’ period.

Because if you get this wrong – you will probably find for all your hard work – you still have not been paid!

Rule 4: Make sure you receive some money upfront before starting – agree a fee and get somewhere around 40 – 50% upfront – this way you can cover your cost to build and you wont be out of pocket during the closing stages of completing the website.

I recommend you request the remaining 50% on completion for small website work and larger websites request another 40% on first delivery and a final 20% once all is done.

Rule 5: Take your time when estimating complexity and timescales – this is the single most criminal mistake by any web development agency, whilst it can be easy to make a profit building a website it is even easier to mis-quote a project and find yourself at a significant loss.

You should approach the work in stages and calculate the time required deliver each stage. You then need to add on a suitable amount of contingency, for example 20%.

The stages typically could be:

  • Requirements and Capture
  • Design & Prototype (this is two stages if the project is large)
  • Build / Code
  • Test – Includes cross-browser testing, dead link checks, time to load checks, validation and any other necessary unit and system testing methods.
  • Deploy – Time it takes to publish the website, configure the hosting and domain name, double check email contact forms, Google verify the site, setup website traffic monitor and publish the site map.

Your final price should reflect the time you estimate to accomplish the work by your hourly rate.

Building Websites requires experience and knowledge of Software development methods, for those who are serious I recommended reading about Software Engineering, development methodologies and understanding project management technique.

No matter how small or large your website project is, this will open your eyes to the disciplines of software/web system development and the hoops you need to jump through that will set your professional standards above so many others within the marketplace.

Success Secrets of Small Business Entrepreneurs – 10 Tips For Business Success

Owning and operating your own business can be a liberating and exciting opportunity. Creating your own success and mapping out your future on your own terms is empowering. At the same time leaving the comfort of employment including regular working hours, benefits, and a consistent salary can often be discomforting, if not downright scary. For most entrepreneurs the desire to be independent and create your own life outweighs all apprehensions, but still comes with associated risks.

While there may not be a bullet-proof success formula that works consistently for every business, there are common characteristics that unite all successful entrepreneurs. Continue reading to determine how many of these skills and characteristics you have mastered as well as where you may want to focus on improving.

1. Positive outlook on life and success. Successful entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic, upbeat, and look to the future as an opportunity still awaiting. Big dreams are a common theme with successful small business owners and often what propels the individual and the business to its ultimate success. In conjunction with the big dream comes the necessity to break it down into smaller visions that can be clearly articulated, monitored, and measured. Many if not all successful entrepreneurs have great imaginations and spend time mentally visualizing success. This includes thinking about specific deals, transactions, and events that will ultimately lead to personal and business success. Clarity of purpose and staying focused on the task at hand are critical to achieving business success. The more realistic the visualizations and dreams the more likely you will be to achieve. Success is ultimately birthed in the imagination and mind and translated through daily actions inspired during those visualizations.

It is widely known you must “see it before you can achieve it.” Though business success ultimately lies in the physical ability to provide a product or service at a profit, the product, service, and ultimately the unique approach to these transactions are all byproducts of mental visualization. If you are an author, visualize your next book signing after your release has gone #1 and you’ve made it to the best-selling list. If you run an auto repair shop, visualize successful interactions with clients in which you deliver exceptional service and value during each transaction. Ultimately you must take whatever niche, product, market, service, and segment you are involved in and visualize how you will succeed at delivering value to the clients you serve while ultimately earning a profit. The most successful entrepreneurs out there visualize the success of the product or service in their mind prior to it being affirmed in the physical marketplace.

2. Passion = Profit. Personal passion is a prerequisite for any successful business. If you enter a business deal strictly looking to make money or achieve success and aren’t passionate about the business, the people, or the end result, you are severely limiting the potential outcome. Passion ignites enthusiasm in those that surround you; team members, clients, vendors, etc. Profits find passion in business regardless of the market segment. Passionate about auto recycling? As strange as it may seem other people are too. Embrace your passion and look for ways to share your excitement and knowledge about a specific product or service with others who share a similar interest. Embrace your love for the product or service you deliver and follow the path that ignites passion in your daily life. Passion provides the necessary motivation that ultimately leads business owners down a path towards fulfillment of goals and dreams.

3. Compensate for weakness and focus on your strengths. Most of us have been taught through the traditional school of thought – which unfortunately restricts our ability to succeed. Traditional thinking teaches us to be humble about our strengths and consistently strive to improve our weaknesses. Successful entrepreneurs often turn this mantra upside down. Instead of spending countless hours and energy attempting to develop skills you may never master – focus on what you do best and compensate for the rest. We are all gifted with unique individual talents that are expressed naturally in our day-to-day interactions. You may be good at writing, analysis, speaking, insight, relationships, painting, interacting with kids, animals, etc. We all have inherent traits that come naturally and don’t require long hours of hard work to achieve. That doesn’t mean we don’t improve with practice, but let’s face it, some of us are specifically better at things that others aren’t. Focus on those things that you do best and compensate for the things you don’t. Find team members that are strong where you are weak and vice versa and you will build a synergistic team that supports each other exponentially.

4. Failure is not an option. Successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is not an option and continually look for ways to succeed. Don’t allow failure to be considered at any level in the organization. Focus on success at all times and never let the possibility of failure take root in your mind or business culture. There will always be setbacks and learning lessons throughout any business venture and life, but find the opportunity for growth and success in every dilemma and challenge faced. All negative circumstances can be turned in to a positive and ultimately failure does not ever have to be selected as an option. Any circumstance can be re-framed with a positive twist no matter how bleak the situation may appear.

5. Prepare and execute the plan. Dreaming often comes naturally to entrepreneurs. Detailed planning and execution may not. In order to ensure success at moving from where you are to where you want to be, a detailed plan must be drafted and executed. Utilize the Merlin Method (“begin with the end in mind”) and work backwards from there. For example, if you would like to become the next Donald Trump, start with Donald Trump as the end result. Move back from there and make a list of the traits required to become Donald Trump. What relationships, transactions, business deals, and skills are required to succeed? Which of these do you possess? What items to you need to work on? Assess where you are at, who you are, and ultimately who you need to become to get to where you want to go. Formulate a plan that enables you to move down the path acquiring the skills and building the relationships necessary to ultimately arrive at the end result you are striving for.

6. Be dedicated! Successful entrepreneurs know that a business is similar to a baby in that it will require nurturing, attention, and caring, throughout its entire life. Different stages will require different levels of input and interaction. Make sure you are serious about and able to afford the time required to ensure successful implementation of your business plan. Long hours and hard work are often part of any phase of the business. If you are truly passionate about what you do none of this will really be negative. Remember to schedule time with family and friends, and most importantly for yourself. Though many hours may be spent caring for and nurturing your business, you ultimately are not good to anyone if you burn out before the business succeeds. Be conscious of how you are feeling and the work load you are undertaking. Being dedicated does not mean you are completely consumed by the business. When at work focus and commit to completing the necessary tasks at hand. When scheduled away from work – leave the business alone. Be dedicated to your business, your family and friends, and living a balanced life and you will be more likely to succeed in all areas simultaneously.

7. Build relationships and network. Ultimately it isn’t what you know – but who you know. We have all encountered this motto multiple times during our business careers, and it still rings with truth in every situation. Surround yourself with a competent team, board of directors, advisers, vendors and partners and continually look to network. Ultimately the people you meet during your daily interactions will be the ones that will buy from you, support you in delivering your product or service, or in supporting you personally in your quest for success. Opportunities will present themselves through the people you meet on a daily basis.

In business, you are judged by the company you keep – from your management team, board of directors, and strategic partners. Businesses always need assistance, more so small businesses. Maybe the lady you met in a trade association meeting can help you secure funding, or the gentleman you bumped in to at a conference can provide you with management advise. It is important to form alliances with people who can help you, and whom you can help in return. To succeed in business, you need to possess good networking skills and always be alert to opportunities to expand your contacts.

8. Desire to learn. You do not need to be an MBA degree holder or PhD graduate to succeed in your own business. Actually formal education is often inversely proportional to the amount of success achieved in small business. Curiosity and a desire to learn how to solve real world issues is what propels many business owners to success. Talk to those around you and find out what would best help the greatest number of people in your market and you will have found a winning proposition. It often isn’t about how smart you are in a certain area but more specifically how well you are able to clue in to what other people are telling you and how you can help them solve problems.

9. Keep the faith. The road to success will often contain detours and potential pitfalls. Keep faith in your original dream and vision and ultimately good things will arrive. Realize that one of the biggest factors in determining your future success will be in how you deal with temporary set backs. Stay focused on the ultimate end result and have faith in your ability to succeed. Setbacks are strictly learning lessons that ultimately teach you how to be better at what you are attempting to do. Each setback enables you to pick back up and potentially increase momentum in your business by utilizing the learning lessons from the experience.

10. Practice discipline. Thomas Huxley once said, “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you like it or not.” Do what others are unwilling to do and ultimately you will have opportunities that others won’t. Realize that you are on a mission that requires faith, commitment, and discipline. Find those traits and behaviors that support success and practice the discipline required to hone those skills day-to-day.

Ultimately if you possess or are able to master these 10 characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs you will find yourself to be one of them.

Tricks for Boosting Your Confidence As a Catering Business Entrepreneur

It’s never a good feeling not to have the level of confidence you want to have. If you need more confidence, you’ll be glad to know that there are definite ways you can develop it. If you want more confidence in business and life in general, simply adhere to the following three tactics we’ll be covering.

Figure out what forces affect your catering business as a whole as well as individual parts of organizational structure. There are very many aspects of business that will impact your ability to have confidence. Increased confidence is only one side effect of good business skills. Your business does not exist within a vacuum nor do its parts, you need to realize this. It’s also true of the rest of the business as a whole. Your catering business is influenced by many influences as a whole as well as separately. If you find yourself lacking in confidence with your role or function within your catering business, then you know that is something that must be addressed. Giving yourself pep talks has not been very effective. There’s the matter of your unconscious feelings and attitudes that override the words you consciously repeat. The best alternative or solution is to use the imagination you have tucked away wisely. Whatever you want to call it, play mental games with yourself to envision what you need to be like in order to effectively do your job. It is more than crucial for you to see yourself having already succeeded striving for the confidence you want.

You need to tackle confidence building on as many fronts as possible. It may be hard to fathom, but your outward show really is significant – not just to you but also other individuals around you. This is a crucial thing for you to become aware of. So to put it simply, be sure that you look the part that you desire to be. Think about this, if individuals take note of you and can’t make out a business leader, or a person in a catering business leadership role, then they’ll have a tendency to act consequently. When you look and actively “be” the part, then you will see a difference in the way people respond to you. At that point, you will start to feel more convinced of yourself about who and what you are. These feelings of inadequacy are completely understandable. It is possible to accomplish the confidence you need in a variety of ways. Most catering business owners make changes slowly in areas of confidence. Your dedication and perseverance are key to this process and the time it takes to make it work.

Bootstrapping To Save Cash – A Concept Made for Small Business Entrepreneurs

I define bootstrapping as “pursuing success with limited resources and with the help of others.” By limited resources I mean a shortage of money or knowledge. Here are some tips and ideas to help solve these shortfalls for small and wannabe entrepreneurial business owners. These ideas are particularly apropos in today’s environment.

Barter

Barter, one of the world’s oldest forms of commerce, is thriving today because it allows companies to trade their products or services for other needed products or services with little or no cash involved. You can utilize your excess goods, manufacturing capacity or time to obtain needed things of every imaginable variety. Bartering can also help you reach and acquire new customers through satisfied trading partners that, if pleased, will buy again with cash and provide good word of mouth to others.

Most barter today is done through exchanges that match up the traders for a fee. You can learn more about the details and find a barter exchange near you by doing a simple online search or visiting the International Reciprocal Trade Association.

Free Consulting

SCORE is a government agency with the mission to provide resources and expertise to maximize the success of existing and emerging small businesses. All SCORE counselors are volunteers, mostly retired executives who want to give back. There is no charge, and everyone who calls gets an appointment. There are more than 370 chapters in the U.S. SCORE does not loan money, but it will advise you on how to get it. Visit the website to find your local office.

The Small Business Development Center is another government agency that basically does the same thing as SCORE but with paid employees and even more educational classes. There are more than 1,000 centers in the U.S. Like SCORE counseling, SBDC counseling is also free.

Mentors

Mentors are experienced, successful businesspeople who are willing to help entrepreneurs get started and grow at no charge. A good one can be the key to success for an emerging company. Mentors can be found in myriad places: family, former teachers, suppliers, the local Chamber of Commerce, people you admire, etc. If you find a good one, be sure always to keep him or her in the loop and say thank you.

Special Offers to Key Customers

It is difficult for small companies to sell to large customers in any environment. An effective way to overcome this challenge is to offer your target an exclusive: your product, a package, a design, a channel of distribution–something special and different from the competition. The exclusive can also be time-sensitive. In return, you can ask for distribution in all of the company’s outlets, free ads, better payment terms or any other goody important to you.

Suppliers

Almost every company needs reliable suppliers. They can contribute to the quality of your business with on-time delivery or innovation and solve some of your financial problems by giving you extended terms. Some suppliers may even be willing to invest in your company. The best suppliers can help make you more competitive and reliable. To gain supplier cooperation, treat suppliers fairly and pay all of their bills on time.

Publicity

Getting coverage about you, your company or your product in print, on TV, on radio or on the web can be more credible than a paid ad. You need not be an expert to get such media coverage. Remember that the writer’s job is to write, and they all need stories. Why not yours? Start by approaching your local media with interesting facts or anecdotes about yourself, your product or service and how you started the company. Writers usually prefer the passion of the company founder to a pitch from a professional publicist.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing can convert the fixed costs of full-time employees to the variable costs incurred only when you need them. This is a major cash-saving strategy that also can yield better quality and know-how as well as access in the case of sales reps. The myth about outsourcing is that you lose control. You may actually have more control because if a vendor doesn’t do a good job, you can just find another. You need not sacrifice control by outsourcing. Another myth is that outsourcing means sending work overseas. This does not have to be true. Anything not done in house is outsourced, whether you get it done down the street, in another state or in another country.

Building Trust

If you are trusted, customers will want to do business with you, employees will be motivated, and lenders and investors are more apt to give you money. You build trust by refusing to compromise on doing the right thing and conducting business ethically. Trust relentlessly pursued can pay great dividends.

Selling

Selling is “persuading someone to take an action favorable to all parties.” There is no selling gene. Selling is an acquired skill best honed with experience. Everyone in the company should be selling with the CEO being the most important seller. There is no cash outlay for selling except for travel. You can do it.

Your attitude is a crucial success factor, so keep your passion high. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Keep your ego under control, take care of yourself, rebound quickly from setbacks and always watch the cash.