Working For Yourself Isn’t About Free Time – It’s About Freedom

There seems to be a popular misconception out there by people that work as employees that self-employed individuals have nothing but free time and are on vacation 24-7, while the rest of the world is grinding away at a J-O-B. Ask any entrepreneur if this is true and, after they manage to get their laughter under control, they will agree that this is the farthest from the truth.

While the huckster on the TV infomercial hawking a get rich quick scheme would like you to think that if you only had the courage to kiss your day job goodbye, you would quickly find yourself in the land of expensive cars and big houses, sipping a frothy drink at some exotic seaside location, nothing could be further from the truth for the average entrepreneur. Being self-employed is not about sitting around eating bonbons and sipping margaritas poolside – it is about something much more important.

It’s About Freedom

Once you get a taste of it, you never want to go back. Even when you factor in the ups and downs associated with being the one steering the great ship SS Entrepreneur. Even after feeling the daily stresses associated with being your own boss. There is no turning back after you have gotten a taste of freedom that goes along with no longer working for the man and being in full control of your destiny.

What exactly is this freedom that the self-employed enjoy? Here are a few examples:

  • No boss – What would you act like if you no longer had someone telling you what to do, breathing down your neck? Would you sink or swim? Would you be a success or just another statistic? Having no boss means you are in command and can no longer look for assistance from someone who should know better. It also means freedom from a tyrannical supervisor who is about as clueless as a newborn.
  • Do what you want, when you want – I don’t mean that you only work 30 minutes a day spending the rest of your waking hours lounging around (unless you have stumbled across a great secret, and if this is the case, lets talk!). What I mean is that you can organize your time in the way you see fit, working on whatever part of your business needs attention right now, ensuring everything gets done in an efficient, timely fashion. This also means that if you have the opportunity to go for a walk in the park, then take it. After all, you don’t have a boss chaining you to a desk telling you what you can, and will, do between the hours of 9 to 5.
  • You are in control – For the good, and the bad, you are the one that makes the decisions vital to the success of your business. You no longer have the luxury of pointing the finger at someone higher up when things go bad. It is scary to have this kind of responsibility, but it is all very freeing and liberating to be the one in control.

Where Did My Free Time Go?

Contrary to what Tim Ferriss would have you believe in The 4-Hour Workweek, the average self-employed individual puts in many more hours than someone working 9 to 5. Let’s not forget that the idea of a day off, or a vacation, is foreign to most entrepreneurs. To many small business owners, the concept of free time is something from their past, and something that they hope to encounter somewhere down the road. Being your own boss is a lot of very hard work and is all consuming.

Before too grim of a picture is painted, let me remind you that working for yourself is not about free time – it is about the freedom that one gets from being their own boss. To achieve this kind of freedom, sacrifices must be made, including giving up free time. In the end, it is often times worth it for those few individuals that take the risk of stepping into the great unknown of entrepreneurship.

It’s Not All Rainbows and Unicorns

Any entrepreneur will tell you that everything isn’t always rosy in the land of small business, but most wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Well, maybe they would trade it for millions of dollars so that they could live the life of exotic cars, mansions, and white sandy beaches that the pitchman on TV promised. Short of that, the idea of throwing in the towel and going back to work for someone else sends shivers down the spine of most entrepreneurs. It may not be all rainbows and unicorns, but it sure beats the alternative!

Marshall Davis runs Talking Small Biz, a website dedicated to exploring all that small business has to offer so that those that want to can realize their dream of being free from working as an employee. Through is new interview series he highlights entrepreneurs that are working hard everyday to build a successful business that lets them enjoy the freedoms associated with being self-employed.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and web appointment scheduling tool that gives entrepreneurs greater freedom from administrative tasks.

How Organizing E-mail Communications Saves Your Business Money

One of the most time consuming business tasks is reviewing e-mail. Since e-mail is the primary source for sending business communications, the sheer volume of it can be overwhelming. When you can’t find an e-mail, you waste time and the adage “time is money” is true for all businesses. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to control your e-mail and get back to business.

Organizing your email: action vs. reference

According to productivity specialist Sally McGhee, there are two types of e-mail: reference and action. Reference e-mails can be saved for later. Action e-mails contain information needed to complete an action, such as meeting dates. These e-mails should be transferred to your calendar or to-do list. If a reply is required, make the reply right away.

McGhee recommends that people set aside a scheduled time every day to review their e-mail. Set an appointment on your calendar and review without distractions. Decisions regarding some e-mail require focus which is difficult with phones ringing or people stopping by. McGhee admits this is tough to do at first, but once it becomes a habit, it takes less time to review the inbox.

Using flags

Personal productivity expert Peggy Duncan suggests flagging certain senders, such as your boss or sales reps you deal with regularly. When you periodically scan your e-mail during the day, you’ll see those flags and be able to attend to them immediately.

The 4Ds of email organization

Both Duncan and McGhee agree that there are “4 Ds” to organizing e-mail:

  • Delete It
  • Do It
  • Delegate It
  • Defer It

These 4 steps can be used for any e-mail. Their consistent use will keep your mailbox organized and allow you to access saved information immediately.

1. Delete It.

Both experts admit that this is the most difficult step. Most people have the mistaken impression that they will need the information at some point so it must be kept. When deciding to delete you should ask yourself if the e-mail is meaningful to your current objectives. Can you find the information elsewhere? Will you refer to it in the next six (6) months? Is the information legally required to be retained? If you answer no, then delete.

2. Do It.

If you can respond in less than two (2) minutes, do it. Put the appointment on your calendar, and delete it.

3. Delegate It.

If it’s not part of your job, forward it to the person it belongs to. Why keep something that’s not yours?

4. Defer It.

According to McGhee, this is 20% of e-mail. When you defer e-mail, file it in meaningful categories. Rather than just having a file marked “accounting,” create meaningful subfolders. If you recently went to a conference and have receipts and data from it, filing everything under accounting isn’t the wisest choice. Try creating a folder for the seminar, or create subfolders in accounting for “travel invoices” and another under vendors under “vendor data.” Just be sure you periodically check the information you’ve deferred. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, return to step one.

Duncan recommends taking step 4 further by creating rules that will automatically move messages to specified folders based on the sender or key word in the subject line. Any e-mail received from a supplier can automatically be forwarded to a folder for that specific supplier. She also recommends setting e-mail security settings on high to help block spam.

By taking some simple steps and a little time, you can turn your unruly e-mail box that manages you into a smooth running system that you manage allowing you to spend time doing your job.

Ian B writes for Oasys Software which specializes in mail management software.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small businesses to run more efficiently. Our online invoicing and appointment scheduling software helps entrepreneurs to better manage their time while projecting a professional image to clients. Follow us on Facebook.

Cut Insurance Costs for Your Business

If you are a small-business owner, then chances are you will find yourself struggling at some point during these depressive economic times and you will need to look for ways to cut costs. Now would be a good time to check out ways that you can save money by examining your insurance policies.

People often overlook their insurance policies and their costs, but you can often save more than you expect if you examine your policies closely and put some time into reviewing how much you spend and for what. Most business owners purchase car insurance, workman’s compensation insurance, etc. when they first open up their business and then they just pay the policy every month for years without ever stopping and considering if that policy needs to be updated. Perhaps you have changes that have occurred within your business such as having fewer company drivers (which can change your car insurance premium) or maybe you have installed safety features within your business (which can save money on your accident insurance policies).

Ask about discounts

Consult with your insurance companies about any new discounts that may be available for your business. Many times there are lots of discounts that you can benefit from, but your insurance company doesn’t just tell you about these discounts. By simply asking what discounts are available for your insurance needs, you may find that you can save a substantial amount of money. Talk to your insurance agent and thoroughly go over every possible discount until you’re sure you’re getting the best deal you can.

Compare prices

Shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal for your money. Many different companies will offer the insurance products that you need, and they will have different prices, discounts, and opportunities for you to save. By making a few phone calls you may find a much better deal at an insurance company that you have never dealt with before. If you really like your current insurance provider, you can ask them to match the prices quoted by another company, which could give you the best of both worlds.

Raise your deductible

Consider raising the deductible of your insurance policies. If your existing car insurance policy has a deductible of five hundred dollars, inquire about changing that deductible to a higher amount. You will be surprised at just how much money can be saved, simply by increasing your insurance deductible. However, only do this if you can afford to pay that deductible. Your business shouldn’t ground to a halt because you can’t pay to get the car fixed after an accident. Either put the extra money saved by raising your deductible into an emergency fund or have someplace where you know you can quickly get the money in case of any issues.

It is impossible to know just when the economy is going to improve to the point when business owners will not have to keep an eye on every penny, but until it does, cutting back on insurance costs is just one way that you can save your company some money and ensure you have the adequate cash flow needed to sustain day-to-day business operations. Just by simply taking the time to evaluate your insurance needs and what areas can be changed in order to save some money will be worth it for you and your small business.

Gina Hamilton is an insurance consultant and content contributor for Kanetix.  Check here to get a Kanetix car insurance quote or check the latest news affecting U.S. and Canadian insurance, like optimistic business conditions in Canada.

Starting AdWords the Right Way – Keyword Selection Strategies

Are you interested in getting involved in paid search marketing but don’t know where to start? If so, this post is for you. Pay per click advertising can be extremely effective, but it’s very complex and you need to make sure that you have the right pieces in place or you’ll be doomed to fail before you even start.

The Prerequisites

Before you can operate a successful PPC campaign, you need to make sure that your website is appealing enough to keep people interested once they arrive. It needs to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. I recommend using specific landing pages for each of your ads that takes the user to the page they’d be interested in. For instance, if your ad was for dress shoes, I’d link it to your dress shoes page rather than the homepage. Once those pages are in place, you’re ready to move on.

Make sure you’re ready to commit to AdWords management for at least a few months before you decide it’s a good medium for you or not. I noticed a lot of small businesses getting frustrated that their ads aren’t converting customers within the first few weeks and giving up completely. Give it some time, Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in seven days. Three months should give you enough data to make some decisions about your campaigns, but it’s never too soon to seek professional advice on how to make your campaigns better.

Keywords 101

The first step you’ll want to take in creating your ads is getting together a solid keyword list. These are the words that searchers use to trigger your ads. The best place to start thinking about the keywords you want to use is your company website. You’ll quickly notice what words are used most often, once you’ve picked them out make sure you add variations of those words into your keyword list. By variations, I mean that if your website is for PPC services, you’ll want to make sure you use PPC, Pay-per-click, and pay per click services as keywords because they all mean the same thing.

When choosing keywords, make sure you add your brand. These clicks are generally cheaper because they’re more specific than the broad terms you’ve found on your website.

If your particular industry uses quite a bit of jargon (like the PPC world), put yourself in the customers shoes and think about keywords that they would be searching for if they weren’t as knowledgeable on the subject. Would your customer be searching for pay per click management services? maybe, but they might also be searching for help with Google ads or help with online ads.

At this point you should separate your keywords into different groups based on the services or products they represent. Not only does this make it easier to manage them, but Google scores your ads based on relevancy in your ad groups, and if you have keywords for baseballs and keywords for kitchen aprons in the same group, your quality score will be lower. The higher your quality score, the less you’ll end up paying for your clicks and vice versa.

Use Your Keywords Wisely

Now that your keywords are separated nicely into their own groups, you should create ad groups on the AdWords platforms, import those keywords and write your ads. Make sure that your ads use your keywords frequently, as that improves the quality score, resulting in more clicks at a lower price. And don’t forget that you should constantly be on the lookout for new keywords that can help convert sales, make sure to set aside time every now and again to do more keyword research and keep those clicks coming.

Trace Ronning is the social media coordinator for WordWatch PPC Management. He blogs about small business and paid search at WordWatch.com/blog and you can follow him on twitter @WordWatchPPC.

SimplifyThis is web appointment software that helps solopreneurs and small business owners simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

Five Wacky Ways to Reduce Stress

As a business owner you are likely bombarded with stress on a daily basis. Here are five wacky ways for you to reduce stress and lighten the mood.

Stress can seriously hinder your productivity at work, diminish your ability to manage your employees and have a very detrimental effect on your health if it’s allowed to continue for a significant amount of time. Often we are so caught up in what we’re doing that we don’t even realize that we are suffering from stress. If this happens, you need to do something that distracts you.

1. Leave an anonymous note or treat

It feels good to do something for someone else, no matter how small. Whip up a batch of cookies, or even buy them at the store, scribble a nice note to someone and drop it by their house. Except don’t wait for them to open the door and welcome you in. Leave the plate on the doorstop, ring the doorbell and run like the wind. Find a good hiding place and watch the smile on their face as they find an unexpected treat/note on their steps.

2. Spontaneous romantic act

Whether you are single or in a relationship, nothing can distract you from your regular daily stress than doing something romantic. If you are married, bring your spouse flowers or a special treat when you come home. You could also get a babysitter and surprise your significant other with a dinner date. If you are single, be bold and go ask that person you’ve had your eye on for months to go on a date with you.

3. People watching

Take a break from your own thoughts and head out to the mall or your local airport. Find a bench in a prime location and sit and watch the people walking buy. Whenever you see someone interesting, make up their life story. Bringing a friend on this type of outing can double your fun. Be sure to be as extravagant as you want when telling someone’s fake life story.

4. Bus tour

I’m not referring to an actual bus tour to a tourist site, but to hopping on any city bus, whether you know where it’s going or not. Take a seat and enjoy the ride. You might find new and interesting areas of your hometown that you had never noticed before. If you feel like it, say hello to the people next to you. If you are feeling really stressed and want to completely distract yourself, wear a mask or some other kind of costume while you ride. Watching people’s faces when they see you will be priceless.

5. Walk in a park with no shoes

If it’s winter, this may not be a good idea, but if it’s spring or summer, retreat from stress to the outdoors. Find a local park or less crowded spot on your college campus, pull off your shoes and meander around. Focus on the feeling of the pavement or grass under your feet. It’s a very pleasant sensation and sure to help you feel rejuvenated and relaxed.


Natalie Clive is a staff writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers is an excellent tool for those looking to complete their college degree and attend one of the best online colleges.

Five Great Tips for Business Leaders

Leading a business is one of the most rewarding challenges many people will undertake. Good business leadership requires a combination of education and instinct. Business leaders at all experience levels are well-served by remembering five essential tactics for business stewardship.

1. Do not get stuck behind a desk

Many business leaders get bogged down in the details of correspondence, financial reports and other desk work. Of course, good executives take care of these duties. They also spend time with employees and customers to get a multifaceted view of operations. All leaders should stay in touch with the individuals who keep a business afloat.

2. Engage employees in business planning

The individuals who do mundane business tasks on a daily basis often have a good grasp of what works and what does not work in a given business. Ask employees to contribute to business building and planning activities. Invite them to occasional planning meetings. Employees may offer innovative ideas. Even if they do not, employee morale will be greatly improved.

3. Read leadership literature sparingly

Some executives become obsessed with reading a variety of books and articles on leadership. While some leadership advice is good, too much leadership advice can be counterproductive. Executives must choose a leadership style and practice it consistently. Too much variation is seen as weakness by both customers and employees.

4. Keep a business diary

It is easy to dwell on failures and forget successes. Cataloging business successes is a good way to find motivation in rough times. Keeping a daily business diary can help any executive retrace the steps that led to a failure. It can also help leaders retrace the path that led to outstanding business success.

5. Solicit candid evaluations of leadership practices

Most employers evaluate their employees on a regular basis. Performance evaluations are nerve-wracking for employees. Receiving a performance evaluation can be a humbling and useful experience for many business executives. Leadership boards of large organizations often evaluate executives. They look at the bottom-line and identify specific successes and failures. Employee-generated evaluations can help any executive understand what leadership strengths and weaknesses contributed to those successes and failures.

Successful business leaders are not afraid to change. They can adapt to difficult work situations and economic climates. Their endurance comes from carefully cultivating leadership practices. Steering a business is a life-long learning opportunity. Business leaders who practice humility and mindfulness often find the long-term success that others will never achieve.

Bio: Chad manages his own business, and speaks from experience. His company helps people sell used vehicles.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool that helps solopreneurs and small business owners simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

Embrace Social Media to Delight Your Customers

If you’re a small business owner, then you are probably fully aware of the importance of having a good reputation. Customer goodwill can make or break a small business, so it’s important to find ways to keep your customers happy without having to spend a lot of money.

One of the easiest ways to add value is to make your customers feel special. Keep them informed about what’s going on with your company, and engage with them via social media. Keeping up with all of the social websites that are out there can be difficult, but this is one area where outsourcing can help. Hiring a reputable social media agency, or even a digital marketing agency that understands how social media works can do wonders for your business.

Engagement vs. Advertising

One area where many companies go wrong is that they think of social media as a form of advertising in its purest sense. They assume that if someone likes them on Facebook, follows them on Twitter, or subscribes to their YouTube channel, it means that they’re giving the company permission to advertise at them incessantly. That couldn’t be further from the truth for most users.

Social media is about engagement. It is about swapping information, exchanging messages, and occasionally dropping a little advertising in. A good social media agency understands this. If you go too heavy on the promotion side of things, people will either block you or unfollow you, and they’ll always remember you as a spammer.

Support via Social Media

Some companies use social media to chat with the most avid of fans, and other companies use social media for support. A good example of this is T-Mobile, who has a dedicated advice stream on Twitter. Customers that are having problems can get in touch with T-Mobile via Twitter, rather than having to use email or telephone for a quick query. This is a great way to instil a sense of goodwill in your customers, and get some free advertising along the way.

If you have someone on staff that understands how social media works, then you could delegate the handling of your Facebook and Twitter feeds to them, however it can be a lot of work to keep up with requests if your company is a popular one. If you have more than a few hundred followers, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a digital marketing agency to manage your accounts for you.

This post was written by James Harper of Boom Online Marketing. James writes on subject relating to business and technology.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool that helps solopreneurs and small business owners simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

How Small Businesses Can Save Money on Printing

Little things like printing costs can add up over time

Keeping business costs down is an important part of managing your small business’s cash flow. Keeping a tight rein on your small business expenses is crucial, and printing costs are no exception. In a struggling economy, little things can mean a lot when it comes to saving money for your business. Here’s a list of six things you can do to save money for your business.

1. Do it Yourself

The printing services you might see at your local copy shop are certainly convenient. However, they can end up costing a lot over time. Invest in a high-quality color office printer that can do all of your everyday printing and as much high-end printing as possible. For the occasional large print job or specialty color printing, you are likely to be better off using a service rather than investing in a high-end printer that doesn’t get used often.

2. Compare Costs

If you need to outsource printing services, do your research and compare the ones in your area that can meet your needs. For example, if you need to print 500 tri-fold color brochures, check out each company with that capability and compare them side-by-side in a spreadsheet. You will be shocked to learn that there is a huge difference between the lowest and highest price. Hint: When using the Internet to search for a printer, the first name you see isn’t necessarily the best. Dig deeper and compare.

3. Choose Different Paper

If you have a range of printing needs, it might be beneficial to use different quality paper for each need. For instance, you need high quality paper for your brochures or flyers, but everyday office printing can be done on cheaper paper. If you have a printer that has multiple trays, use the default tray for everyday paper and another tray for high-quality paper.

You don’t need to have envelopes pre-printed with your logo anymore. Many printers have a special setting for printing on most standard sizes, including the number 10 envelopes, the most common size for business use.

4. Reset Your Printer

The newer laser and inkjet printers have a multitude of settings to adjust the printing quality. For example, the printer’s draft mode helps conserve the amount of ink used and produces perfectly readable printouts for everyday internal use.

If you’re just printing a hard copy for review offline, print multiple pages per sheet and/or on both sides of each sheet.

5. Use the Bank’s Checks

The convenience of your bank’s bill pay service can save you the cost of printing checks. Most banks offer this free service for your regular bills and for the occasional expense, too. By using this service, you no longer have to worry about forgetting scheduled payments or looking for stamps. If your bank offers the service, sign up and let them print out the checks and mail them for you – free. Additionally, consider online invoicing as a way of cutting down on unnecessary printing.

6. Print Less

Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how much unnecessary printing is done on a daily basis. In addition to thinking before you hit the “print” button, many printers also have a setting to include a leader page. This is used to separate printouts from different departments or employees when using the same printer. Make sure this setting is turned off. You save paper and ink.

Finding ways to save money is hard when your budget is already at its limit, but utilizing even a few of these tips will save your company money in no time.

Jessica is a specialist in online printing. When she’s not researching new printing technologies, you can find her in her kitchen baking up a storm or walking her dog outside.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool hat helps solopreneurs and small business owners to simplify administrative tasks. Follow us on Facebook.

Top 5 Benefits of Google+ Pages for Businesses

Now that Google+ has debuted its brand pages many people are scratching their heads, wondering what advantages they offer. Why do businesses need yet another social platform? Can’t we just stick with the company Facebook page?!

I want to highlight the top five benefits and features of Google+ Pages that make the platform ideal for businesses:

1. Search Rankings

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, recently confirmed that social signals (public activity on social platforms) are a factor in search engine rankings. Since G+ is part of Google, it stands to reason that increased activity and engagement on pages can help significantly. While it’s not anything more than my own anecdotal experience, I have seen a significant jump in rankings on my personal Web projects since creating pages for them.

2. Direct Connect

Internet users demand easy access to social services and features, and Google has provided a brilliant shortcut to page owners. All you need to do is type “+” and a brand/business name into Google search, and it will take you immediately to its page — if there is one. No other social platform can provide that.

3. Local Pages

“Hyperlocal” has been a buzzword for a while now, and with good reason. Pages can be set up to show where your brick-and-mortar location is, providing Google Maps integrations so that customers can easily find you online and off.

4. Segmented Audiences

Circles are one of my favorite things about G+ pages. When you post to your page, you can either do so publicly, which is visible in search, or to one or more of your circles. It starts off with a basic set: Following, Customers, VIPs, Team Members, Incoming, and Notifications. This is fantastic! You can post a special offer only available to long-term clients by simply posting it to your VIP circle. You can communicate with your team using that circle. And you can create as many circles as you need in order to refine your message-targeting. This is very useful for businesses with an array of offerings and audiences.

5. Bringing It to Video

Hangouts are the integrated video-conferencing feature on G+. You have the ability to talk to up to 10 people at once. The customer support applications of this one should be obvious. Just like updates, Hangouts can be made public or only to particular circles. I’ve used it to conference with team members in three different time zones at once, and it worked smoothly.

All in all, Google+ pages can be an asset for any brand, no matter what social platforms you’re already engaged in. While the user base is still small compared to Facebook, it’s growing at an amazing rate, partially fueled by the fact that Google is integrating all of its products together. If you use Gmail or Google Docs, for instance, there are Google+ notifications on your screen at all times.

Google’s sheer ubiquity will continue to drive growth and attention to Google+ for a long time to come. And those are two things every brand wants.

ADDITIONAL READING: Should Your Business Be On Google+

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George Williams is a professional journalist for firstSTREET, a leading provider of computers for seniors. George blogs about technology and social media for seniors on the firstSTREET blog.

SimplifyThis is an online invoicing and web scheduling software that helps solopreneurs and small business owners to simplify administrative tasks. Join us on Google+

Is a Website Even Necessary Anymore?

A client asked me if they really needed a website for their business. With all the social media channels that are available, a person could theoretically setup a page on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to maintain contact with potential clients.

My first impulse was to say, “YES!” to the question. I stopped myself to think critically about the alternative possibility. What would my business look like if I did not have website? A better question: What does my current website achieve for me, and can that be replicated solely through social media. Let’s consider.

A website has several typical functions:

The brochure site

I call it this because it is simply there so offline clients and random visitors can see a good-looking online presence. There is no intention to optimize for search engines or draw attention from an online audience.

Can this be replicated through social media?

Yes. You could create a page on Squidoo that has all the information for people to see. Need something a little more personalized? A Facebook fan page will do the trick. Nobody will question a Facebook or Twitter link on a business card.

Lead generation machine

This function is more intentional than the brochure. This site is drawing traffic in to create conversions. This is coupled with advertisement, seo tactics and offline networking. Getting clients to convert, both free and paid, builds a list that you can use over and over again to create recurring income.

Can this be replicated with social media?

Yes. Custom form builders that could be integrated into your Squidoo or Facebook page. Twitter and linked in could be used to drive people toward these pages for conversion.Using free directory listings can help increase your presence on search engines.

Customer engagement portal

This function seeks to get other people engaging on the site. The more they contribute, the larger their commitment to return is. Characteristics of this site are forums, niche blogging, productivity tools, etc.

Can this be replicated with social media?

Yes. Most social networking sites allow discussions and private group messaging. Twitter is a good place to have conversation.

Barring any sort of e-commerce, it appears that one will not need to have a website to achieve the same things a website can offer.

Wait! Before you go off and cancel your web hosting plan, consider this:

Although social media has many integrated tools and functions that can match a website. Remember that most clients value consistency. Ensure that whatever social media channel you use has a consistent base station: A place clients can go for the latest information. If it’s your email, let it be that. If it’s your Facebook page, keep that. If it’s your Twitter or Linkedin profile, stick with it.

The one thing that a website offers that is a central place for bringing your social media channels and activity together. It creates a hub for client engagement.

My answer to the original question is conditional. Yes you should have a website if you want a central place for customers to return to and stay engaged, or if you have an e-commerce component to your business. No you do not need a website if you are only planning to make one-time sales online or communicate solely through messaging. Customers don’t need to return to a product page they have already purchased from.

Paris Law is a success coach works with Solopreneurs and Business Leaders on initiatives that inspire extraordinary action. His favorite adage: “Let us never yield to simple complacency, but continually reach toward that forever stretching horizon.” www.parisalaw.com

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