Peaceful productivity for small business owners: how to process your to do list using the GTD method

Now that you’ve been introduced to the GTD productivity method, and you’ve gone ahead and put that long list of things you need to do into a container, now it’s time to actually process the items on your to do list.  In his Skillshare class, Get Stuff Done Like A Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days, productivity coach Tiago Forte offers the following guidance for processing your to do list.

calmThe first step for processing your to do list is to ask yourself a series of questions about each item that you’ve listed in your task manager:

  • What is it?
  • Is it actionable?
  • Is it valuable?
  • What is the next actionable step?

Three options for non actionable items

First we’ll take care of the non-actionable items. There are three things you can do with the items that aren’t actionable:

  1. Put it in the trash – throw away things you won’t need to de-clutter your environment. One of the main places you’ll probably look to do this is in your email inbox, but it also includes files on your computer and errant papers on your desk.
  2. Put it on a someday/maybe list – the things you may want to do someday (i.e. plan your dream vacation), but that aren’t actionable right now, should go into a someday folder in your task manager (ToDoist is one possible task manager).
  3. Reference – things that are valuable but are not currently actionable. These items will go in a reference folder. Consider using Evernote for setting up your reference folders.

Now your to-do list is a little more actionable. Which is the point, to get yourself ready to take action.

Options for actionable items

Now that you’ve weeded out the no-actionable items and put them into separate containers, now you can begin to process the actionable items on your to-do list.

If you do decide an item is actionable, the next question you ask is what is the next physical action?

In practice it is hard to think of the very next thing you should do. As Tiago points out in his class, most people’s to do lists are made up of very vague tasks that are intimidating because each task is actually made up of several tasks. By focusing on just the very next physical action you make the tasks very much more achievable.

If you’ve been following along in this series, your next step is to re-write all of your open loops as a next physical action. Here’s an example, I’ll use my self as an example. Having recently moved to a new state, I need to get a new driver’s license. Reason might lead one to believe that get California driver’s license should be on my to do list. But in actuality before I can get my license, I have to study for the test. And before I can study for the test, I have to pick a study guide. So, I would re-write the open loop get drivers license,  to be find study guide for California driver’s test. Make sense? Now, rewrite all of your open loops as a next physical actions. If this all sounds very promising, but you’re not fully following along, try Tiago’s Skillshare class, where he breaks it all down in video tutorials. Also, if you haven’t already, read post one and post two in this series.

Making project lists

One potential downfall of focusing on the next physical step is it becomes easy to loose focus of the big picture. To prevent this, create project folders in your task manager (for me, ToDoist).

You will also create folders for things that aren’t projects, but rather are areas of responsibility (these are items you tend to on an ongoing basis). Tiago explains it this way: Projects have goals and are time limited. Areas of responsibility have ongoing standards to be maintained and are indefinite. Health, finance, relationships are a few areas of responsibility.

Now, in your task manager, file each task in a project folder and then file each project folder in an area of responsibility folder. Now, that is serious organization! Now you have an organized, actionable to do list that you can really work from!

A few tips:

When processing your open loops consider these three rules:

  1. Process top item first
  2. Process one at a time
  3. Never put anything back into inbox. If you don’t have time to make a decision, then you shouldn’t look at it.

One place this type of processing will come in extremely handy is in your email. Many people’s email is an unmanageable mess. Apply this process to your email by following these steps:

  1. If its not actionable and not valuable, delete it immediately
  2. If you may want to do it someday, send it to your task manager
  3. If its non actionable but its valuable, file in reference
  4. If its actionable, send it to your task manager

Process on at a time, in order, and we must make a decision before moving on to the next one.

Coming up next, taking action! 

Your 2014 Mobile Strategy

It’s a common visual all across the civilized world, people gazing at screens hypnotically, so lost in a digital haze that they are oblivious to their surroundings. Not surprisingly, this 24/7 engagement with technology translates into massive profit potential for businesses of every size. In fact, with mobile retail sales generating over $34.2 billion last year, appealing to smartphone and tablet users is crucial for businesses.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr

But devising a mobile strategy can be difficult, as the market changes rapidly. Below we’ve pulled together our top tips for 2014 mobile success.

Prioritize Mobile Usability

First and foremost, it’s important that you give careful thought to the functionality of your mobile web presence. While devices may be smart, they aren’t yet capable of automatically adjusting content to fit mobile screens. This creates a real problem for businesses that treat mobile usability as a mere afterthought. For example, a study by Google found that 57% of consumers won’t recommend a business that performs poorly on their smart device.

A common route taken by many companies is to have a desktop site and a mobile site. For instance, if you visit bestbuy.com through a smartphone, you’ll be instantly redirected to the mobile friendly m.bestbuy.com. However, this does mean that you’re required to maintain two separate websites. A more cohesive strategy is to have one, responsive website. A responsive site is based on fixed grid points, which automatically resize to fit a smaller screen.

When deciding between two separate sites or a responsive site, be sure to evaluate the needs of your customer base and weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Make Users Feel Secure

Although smartphones are popular all over, people still feel a bit uneasy about making mobile purchases. According to a 2013 study of smartphone and tablet users, 66% of consumers attempted to make a mobile purchase but abandoned the process before completion.

Such a high abandonment rate is due largely to a poor user experience and lack of comfort with sending personal data through a mobile connection. In light of this, it’s important for small businesses to take security seriously.

The first step in making users feel secure is to ensure the check-out process is quick, streamlined and painless. If your shopping cart is slow and buggy, for example, a person might fear their card is being charged twice for the same item. To alleviate anxiety over billing glitches, ensure every facet of the sales funnel is mobile friendly, and if you wish to go one step further, consider creating an app that is designed specifically for handling mobile commerce. Most importantly, don’t forget to remind people that your brand prides itself on keeping sensitive information secure.

Local Advertising

Increasingly, mobile devices are being turned to for time-sensitive and location-specific research. (E.g., if your car breaks down, you’re likely to grab your phone and start Googling the nearest tow truck).

Because of this, smartphone and tablet users are projected to receive 88% of all local PPC advertisements by 2016. Furthermore, as GPS tracking becomes the norm, mobile consumers are beginning to appreciate the relevance of these ads, causing them to be clicked on three times more than those displayed on a PC.

Use Mobile Apps to Build Brand Loyalty

Regardless of your budget, a number of great options exist for reaching out to consumers through mobile applications. Ideally, an app will creatively leverage a device’s capabilities in a way that provides real value to the customer. For example, mobile apps are perfect for loyalty and referral programs.

Instead of handing people an easy to lose rewards card, offer the option of having a smartphone app keep track of earned points. Likewise, customer referral programs transition beautifully to mobile applications, providing people incentive to spread the word about your brand through social media and text messages.

Utilize Mobile Offers

Digital coupons are another effective, inexpensive way to capitalize on the popularity of mobile devices. By urging people to sign up and receive special offers via text message alerts, you’re able to build brand loyalty, drive up revenue and stay relevant in their minds. Besides saving trees and reducing your advertising budget, a mobile coupon has the added benefit of being redeemed ten times more than its paper predecessor.

While many small shops simply require showing promotional texts to a cashier, larger brands attach bar codes and pin numbers to each message for added security. Whatever method you go with, just make sure the process requires little consumer effort.

Takeaways

As a society, we are more connected than ever, and if your brand wishes to remain relevant, it must engage with consumers through every available medium. Although 61% of small businesses currently lack a mobile strategy, eventually that resistance will cost you customers. With social networks and mobile devices fusing together and Google Glass hitting shelves around the world, businesses that fail to embrace a mobile Internet landscape may run the risk of being crippled by it.

Take appointments directly through your website with SimplifyThis – two in one appointment scheduling and invoicing software. Streamline administrative tasks and convert more site visitors to customers with SimplifyThis.

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How to Manage Your To Do List with GTD (Closing Open Loops)

Now that you have decided to try the GTD method to increase your productivity, let’s get started with the first step, collecting everything you have to do in one list.

todoistFirst, a quick recap. Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity method designed by David Allen. A main premise of the method is that stress is a result of mismanaged internal obligations. These internal obligations include anything you think you need to do, ought to do or should do. In the GTD method, these obligations are managed through a five phase process that includes:

  • Collect every single thing you have to do on a list
  • Process each thing on the list by the desired outcome and the next action to do it
  • Remind yourself of all the things you need to do with an organized system
  • Review reminders on a regular bases
  • Do the actions

Collecting your to do’s (closing Open Loops)

For a walk through of the first step of the GTD method, we recommend productivity expert, Tiago Forte’s Skillshare class, Get Stuff Done Like A Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days. You can take his class for just $29.

According to GTD founder, David Allen, “Most people’s productivity system consists of incomplete lists of unclear things.” The operative words here are incomplete and unclear.

To get started with an effective productivity system, we’ll start by tackling the issue of incomplete. The first concept to understand is the role of “open loops.” Open loops can be understood as an open program draining your psyche.  Tiago puts it this way, think of your mind as a focus tool, not a storage tool. When you have an unending stream of to-do’s or unmet obligations running through your mind, you’re actually draining your ability to focus. Therefore the first challenge of GTD is to get all of your to do’s out of your head.

Getting your to-do’s out of your head

Now, in all likelihood, you have made a to-do list before. Maybe you even make them all of the time. What’s the key here, how will this to do list be different? This list will be different in that it will be exhaustive. No to-do will be left behind. This includes items big and small, no task is too small to go on the list.

The reason it is essential to have your list be exhaustive is that if it is not exhaustive then you will not trust the workflow you create. If you do not trust your list, then you will automatically start to use your mind as a storage tool, leading to the same old problems of lack of focus and overwhelm.

So step one, get rid of the incomplete. This sounds easy, but actually can be harder than you imagine. It will require commitment and determination, an absolute refusal to store to do’s in your head.

How to capture open loops outside of your head

The key to getting open loops outside of your head is to create collection containers. Tiago does a great job describing this in his class. Collection containers can also be understood as inboxes. Collection containers can include:

  • paper trays
  • notebooks
  • apps
  • voice recorder

No matter what collection containers you use, there are three rules to follow:

  1. every loop must be captured
  2. use as few collection containers as you can get away with
  3. you must empty all on a regular basis

Creating your containers

Tiago recommends a few tools including Things for Mac (paid). Working on a PC, I used another one of Tiago’s recommendations, Todoist (instead of Things for Mac) and I absolutely love the program. To get started with your to do list choose one of the tools above, or another task manager.

As Tiago suggested, I started with a list of 40 to 50 items (48 to be exact).

Start by adding the open loops floating around your head. Tiago suggests some additional places to look for open loops:

  • wallet
  • backpack
  • drawers
  • pockets
  • desktop – physical and computer
  • shelves
  • cabinets
  • bulletin boards
  • garage
  • storeroom
  • computer
  • documents/downloads/home folders
  • dropbox
  • stickie notes
  • voicemails
  • text messages

In my personal experience, completing this first step proved to be revolutionary. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s amazing how quickly you can start to overcome that feeling, by simply getting it all down into one definitive list. As a regular list-maker, I can say doing this in a task manager as opposed to keeping a list on a piece of paper makes a big difference. So go ahead and get stated by checking out Todois or Things for Mac. If you have another task manager that you prefer, tell us about it in the comments!

Automating administrative tasks

Our own application, SimplifyThis was built with productivity in mind. Take appointments directly through your website with SimplifyThis — two in one appointment scheduling and invoicing software. Automate and streamline administrative tasks and focus your energy on growing your business. 

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Entrepreneurs, stop spinning your wheels with this productivity method (GTD)

Most entrepreneurs who run their own businesses have had the experience of falling into a seemingly never ending loop of crisis response. You come in to work in the morning and almost right from the go you’re dealing with a constant stream of urgent matters.

HamsterEmails, phone calls, complaints, urgent requests from clients, employees, partners and vendors. You’re in response mode. Dealing with situations as they arise. This way of working comes at a cost. There’s the frustration that comes with knowing that you’re not doing your real work – the creative or strategic work. You’re not using the entrepreneurial part of you that started a business in the first place. The work you’re doing, in fact, is a distraction from the work that will help you to really move your business forward. At times you may feel really, really busy, yet at the same time, you’re not really getting anywhere. Sound familiar? Let’s face it, much of the time, you’re spinning your wheels. It happens to the best of us. Here’s how to stop.

Intro to GTD: Getting Things Done

You may of heard of GTD. It’s a decades-old productivity method and a best-selling book created by renowned management consultant / executive coach David Allen. What makes it unique is an emphasis on relaxation or stress-free productivity. Learn more about David Allen and Getting Things Done by visiting the website. While GTD is considered the “gold-standard” in organizational productivity, in my experience, it is particularly useful for creative and entrepreneurial people – independent artists and small business owners. Anyone who has to balance the real work of creating with the daily work of running their businesses.

In a nutshell, the solution to the overwhelming, crisis response hamster wheel situation described above is to automate as much of your workday as possible. With more of our day automated, we can focus more of our energy on the high-value creative tasks. This automation is achieved through five phases of the GTD system:

Learning more about GTD

Over the next few blog posts, we will cover GTD and how you can use this method to increase your productivity. While GTD is widely taught, and you can learn about it through seminars, one-on-one coaching and other venues, we’ll be looking at productivity expert, Tiago Forte’s Skillshare class, Get Stuff Done Like A Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 Days, to help us, help you with GTD. If you like what you see here, try the class for just $29.

Automating administrative tasks

Our own application, SimplifyThis was built with productivity in mind. Take appointments directly through your website with SimplifyThis — two in one appointment scheduling and invoicing software. Automate and streamline administrative tasks and focus your energy on growing your business. 

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Social Media Marketing: The 80/10/10 Rule and The Four Types of Communicators

This is part of a 6 part series covering social media consultant, Laurie Hurley’s Skillshare class, Create Sizzling Social Media Content in 5 Easy Steps.

social media audienceIn her video tutorials, Laurie, who is CEO and founder of her boutique firm, Social Networking Navigator, helps newbie social media marketers to develop the online presence of their dreams.

So far we’ve covered:

Now, we’re ready to move on to actually creating your social media posts! In her class, Laurie covers two concepts relating to creating posts. Understanding these two concepts will help you to create the most effective social media posts:

  1. the 80/10/10 rule
  2. the four types of communicators online

Following the 80/10/10 approach

Now that you know your audience, and you have ideas about the types of content you will share, it is time to think about writing your posts. In general, social media marketing is about sharing information with your audience. This is done in an educational way, as opposed to a sales way. The aim is to provide value to your audience. It’s about sharing your expertise, for the benefit of educating people. This in turn will help you to build a relationship with your audience. Setting the stage for sales. In thinking about what you will post, Laurie suggests following the 80/10/10 rule.

80% of your posts should be educational. This means sharing your very best tips, tricks and techniques. You are coming from a place of giving and being generous with these posts, and they will help you to build thought leadership.

10% of your posts are all about you. Knowing that as a small business owner, you are your brand, share a little bit of yourself. Decide ahead of time, what aspects of yourself you will share. Connecting with people on a human level will help you to build your fan base. Sharing your likes and interests will help you to connect with like-minded individuals.

10% of your posts can be dedicated to sales. This is something of a soft sell, tell your fans about offers to buy your products or services. Remember to include a picture, a price, and most importantly a like back to your website, or wherever you actually sell your products (i.e. Etsy, etc.)

The four types of communicators

Modern psychology dictates that there are four types of communicators online. Understanding how each receives and processes information will help you to speak to people on their terms. In her class, Laurie gives viewers the exercise of writing one social media post four different ways, to speak to each of the communication types. The four types of communicators are:

1. The factoid. This person wants just the facts, they analyze information using numbers and percentages and make decisions with their heads, not their hearts.

2. The caretaker. This person puts others before anyone else and wants to be sure everyone is happy. To speak to this person, show them how they can help other people.

3. The free spirit. To speak to this whimsical, laid back person, appeal to their emotional side, and infuse light humor when appropriate.

4. The no nonsense type. This person thinks he already knows everything and works from a prove it to me point of view. To communicate with this person use a straight forward approach and avoid any fluff.

To learn more about communicating with these four types watch Laurie’s video, The Four Communication Styles.

New to social media marketing? STEP THREE: Research your competitors

This is part of a 6 part series covering social media consultant, Laurie Hurley’s Skillshare class, Create Sizzling Social Media Content in 5 Easy Steps.

keyword researchIn her video tutorials, Laurie, who is CEO and founder of her boutique firm, Social Networking Navigator, helps newbie social media marketers to develop the online presence of their dreams.

So far we have covered:

If you haven’t been following along, then read both posts above and then come back here for post three in order to learn the real meaning of R & D in the social media world.

Now, for STEP TREE, researching your competitors online.

Borrowing social media ideas from your competitors

As an entrepreneur you probably understand R & D to mean research and development, an essential part of starting a new business. As Laurie points out, in the social media world, R & D takes on another meaning: Rob and Duplicate. The word rob in this context does not mean plagiarizing or infringing on copyright laws, that type of activity is a fast road to nowhere, not to mention against the law. What it does mean though is you should know your competition and what they are doing online so that you can borrow from their ideas and make them your own by putting your individual spin on them. Laurie provides these examples of ideas that you might borrow:

  • sharing customer testimonials
  • using pictures and graphics of your product/service
  • posting pertinent articles or blogs relating to your industry
  • having a “theme” day, like Throwback Thursday or Feel Good Friday
  • conducting surveys online

How to research your competitors online with the best free tools

The first step in identifying what your competitors are doing online is to get an accurate read on who your competitors are. The best place to start this research is to conduct keyword research. Here’s a brief overview of how to conduct keyword research:

  • Make a bulleted list of word people use to find your business online
  • Run your keywords through a free keyword tool. Try one (or all) of these: Wordtracker, Seobook, Wordstream.
  • Using the tools, see what words fare best on search engines.
  • Google your best keyword options and see what companies show up for those words.

Taking these steps should help you to develop a list of your competitors. Knowing who your competitors are is essential. Once you know who they are, you can see what they are doing in their public streams. Visit their social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and wherever else you find them. You can usually figure out what social networks they are on by visiting their websites and looking for the social media follow icons.

For a more thorough description of keyword research, read our blog post: The Importance of Keyword Research and How to Do It Yourself.

Connecting with competitors on social media

Though it may seem counterintuitive to some entrepreneurs, Laurie and other social media experts recommend connecting with your competitors on social media. This means, Like their Facebook pages, Follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blog, etc. You may perceive this to be a type of cyber stalking, but as Laurie and others point out, it’s not at all unusual to connect with your competitors online. For one, you never know what types of partnerships can come out of connecting with competitors, and two you are showing them that you believe in abundance in the marketplace and that there is plenty of business to go around. In addition, you will see what they are posting and what kind of content they are sharing, and this should spark some ideas for your own content creation efforts.

As an entrepreneur making your first foray in to social media marketing for your business, your fist step is to set the right foundation by checking your social media mindset. Once you do that, you can move on to step two: setting your target market.

Target Goal SettingIn her recent social media marketing Skillshare class, social media consultant and CEO and founder of the Social Networking Navigator, Laurie Hurley, offers some useful tips for how to do this.

Understanding your target market and the problem with everybody

Everybody who could possibly use your service or product is not a target market. No one’s product is for everybody.  Your target market is comprised of the people who are the best fit for what you are selling, and you those are the people you will want to attract.

Hopefully by now you’ve identified your target market in your business plan. If not, now is the time to do it.

Because not everyone wants the same thing and not everyone operates the same way, not everybody will want your product. While you may want to try to sell to the entire universe of people who could possibly use your product, don’t do it. To set your target market, you will need to dig deeper and appeal to just to those perfect people. Laurie points out, it’s tempting to try to appeal to the masses, but if you do that you will appeal to no one. The key, she says, is to appeal to the person who will be the perfect match. Go narrow and deep, not wide.

Hitting the bullseye

It’s very important to go narrow and deep and not wide with your marketing on social media. The reason is there is a lot of noise online and to cut through it at all you will need to have a message that is especially relevant to the people you reach.

Here’s how Laurie suggests you think about your target market. Picture a target. The bullseye is the perfect client. The rings around the bullseye represent the different aspects of that person such as her gender, age, household income and interests. Think about all of those things and you will narrow it down to the people who are in the bullseye.

Audience information that you should collect includes:

  • gender
  • age
  • income level
  • psychographics (what do they like to do for fun, lifestyle)

Targeting your market to get better referrals

Of all the smart points Laurie makes about targeting your market, the one that was especially interesting was her point that the people in the bullseye are not just going to buy from you, they are also going to refer people to you. If you understand how important referrals are, then you see the value in this. Referrals are a sure way of building your business. The people your target market refer you to, may not be in your exact target market, but they may become clients. For these reasons it is very important  to remember to go narrow and deep, not wide, when deciding whom to market to on social media.

We’ll be taking the rest of Laurie’s video lessons and blogging about them here. Next up, her lesson on how to spy on your competition online. If you are new to marketing on social media, follow along here, or take Laurie’s Skillshare social media class. You can sign up for her class for just $19.00.

If you are a new entrepreneur struggling to figure out how to use social media to market your business, Laurie Hurley social media consultant, CEO and founder of the Social Networking Navigator offers this snappy social media Skillshare Class. In this quick and easy, six-part video class, you’ll learn how to create a social media program that you can manage yourself. You can sign up for her class for just $19.00.

positive-thinking

The first part of the class focuses on setting the right foundation by getting into the right mindset.

Your social media mindset

Before you even think about writing a Facebook post, the first thing to understand is your own mindset.

To understand your social media mindset, Laurie suggests you look at two things: 1) what is holding you back on social media, and 2) what your goals are.

What’s holding you back from being on social media?

According to Laurie, we all put up roadblocks and make it difficult for our authentic selves to shine through. To overcome this, she suggests documenting what it is that is holding you back. Some common thoughts that could be holding you back might include:

  • Social media is just a confusing maze and you don’t know where to start
  • Social media is a huge drain on your time
  • I am already doing so much, adding social media to the mix will just add to the overwhelm
  • Learning something new will become a distraction from what I need to do
  • I am concerned about privacy

Overcoming limiting beliefs

Once you identify the limiting beliefs  that are holding you back, you can turn those into negative thoughts into positive ones so that you can start your journey with the right attitude. Try replacing the belief social media is a confusing maze that will take up too much time with  Yes, there is a lot out there, but I am going to hone focus on one social media platform until I master it, and I will not let it suck me in.

Many of the common negative beliefs about social media can be overcome by:

  • Going narrow and deep with one social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest), rather than trying to do all of them at once. Once you master one you can move on to another. No need to try to do it all at once.
  • Controling what you share. If something is private, don’t share it. Social media is about sharing your expertise or point-of-view with an audience of people, not sharing every detail of your life.
  • Controling how much time you spend on social media. Don’t think that you have to spend hours a day, think more along the lines of spending a focused hour a couple of days a week. Imagine spending 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon just a few times a week.

Once you identify your limiting beliefs try to turn them around with some of these positive beliefs. To do this, Laurie suggests you face them head on. Take the time to reflect, to have a good look at yourself and to ask yourself what is stopping you from using social media.

After discovering what is holding you back and how to turn that around, then take some time to consider what your goals are for using social media. Having clear goals will help you to keep your time and energy focused on those activities that will have the best benefit for you. If you are new to goal setting, read Getting Where You’re Going with Goal Setting: How and Why to Set Your Business Goals.

 

The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Building a Website

Having a web presence is a necessity in the digital age and there are many tools available for site building. Just putting a few pages on the Internet is not enough, and many webmasters have been disappointed by a lack of visitors and poor search engine placement. Some people think that the mere fact that they have a website is enough, however, there’s more to it than that. Five common mistakes when building a site are outlined below, and should be avoided at all costs in order to ensure success for your site.

five web mistakes

Poor Navigation

Nothing is more frustrating to a site visitor than not being able to find anything. Whether it is poorly placed buttons, inconsistent links or just general disorganization, lack of proper navigation can kill a website. This problem can be avoided by using a navigation bar, along with the same header and footer, on each page.

Homepage Clutter

The homepage is the first impression a visitor will get about a site, so it has to count. Any professional website designer will tell you that when a homepage is too cluttered, it creates information overload, which can drive traffic away. Modern design places an emphasis on simplicity so the content can stand out. Keeping the design practical and organized will pull visitors in and make them want to explore.

Unclear Purpose

Every website needs a purpose, and this is defined by its call to action. Visitors should never have to guess whether they should download, purchase or subscribe. A good way to avoid this problem is by placing the call to action on the homepage. When visitors arrive, they will know exactly what the site is about and what they are expected to do.

Stale Content

The Internet is full of websites that were built and then abandoned. A site is more attractive to visitors if it appears to be active and ready to do business. Fresh content will also ensure the site will be indexed more often by the search engines, which improves ranking. Stale content will guarantee a site never reaches its potential.

Lack of Testing

Webmasters can be so eager to go live that they do not conduct sufficient testing. This results in a site that may have broken links, spelling errors or layout problems. It can be helpful to have another person look at the site before putting it online for the world to see. A site that does not work well is not going to draw visitors.

Building a website takes time, patience and effort. Doing it right the first time, and avoiding common mistakes, will ensure success. Yes, your business will be far more successful with a website, but sometimes a bad website can be worse than no website at all. As you can see, making some of these mistakes will drive people away from your site, which can in turn cause them to take their business elsewhere. Don’t let these simple mistakes trip you up when creating your website—do your homework, put in the time, and you’ll see the result for yourself.

Three Ways to Green Your Business and Cut Your Small Business Taxes

When a company goes green, it can cut its tax burden drastically while saving money. Of course, there are some acceptable deductions and others that are not acceptable. With that being said, here are three simple ways to capitalize on tax breaks.

Business Going Green Capitalize on Tax Breaks (2)

New appliances

When buying a new appliance for the company, one can see a nice tax advantage if the item uses less power than its counterparts. To see if an item qualifies, one should understand and do some research on the appliance to see if there are any government tax credits. Luckily, the store where a person buys the item will gladly give this information to a customer provided they have any information on the subject. Remember, when buying energy-saving appliances, one can enjoy a tax break and save money using fewer resources in the process.

Solar

In a bid to entice people to use alternative energy, many companies have made the switch to solar and have saved money and helped the environment. A business owner should capitalize off this as he or she can get free electricity and even sell some back to the utility company. Of course, the huge benefit of solar is the tax write-offs that state and local governments offer. A person can cut their tax burden thousands of dollars when he or she has a solar installation at the business site. Remember, one can often get rebates at multiple levels as some counties, cities and states offer a lot of tax credits to business owners using solar.

Hybrid Cars

When buying or leasing a hybrid vehicle, one can qualify for tax breaks. This is an excellent investment when a person wants to save money on gas and qualify for a decent tax break.

When running a business, it is crucial to take advantage of every available write-off. When doing so, one can save a lot of money and lower their tax burden drastically. Remember, a business owner should contact a tax professional before doing anything related to write-offs and taxes as they may make a serious mistake in the process.

Hayley is a freelance writer who blogs about payroll solutions and business related services.

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