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Other eCommerce Mistakes to Avoid: Part 2 of 2

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Choosing the Wrong Metrics of Success

Consider the industry and market. Many businesses are seasonal, especially in the eCommerce field. Short-term measurements may hold limited relevance for long-term success. In addition to sales revenue, important considerations may include customer satisfaction, customer turnover, customer engagement, and the cost of acquiring new clients. Feedback from customers may prove just as useful for long-term growth as raw numbers reflecting factors such as sales revenue.

Remember the bottom line. Metrics such as site views are a good sign, but don’t let your head puff up until you’ve seen the end rewards. Beyond tactics such as “search engine optimization,” businesses should flesh out their intelligence with a multidimensional approach that provides multiple perspectives and can better develop strategies for the future.

Plan for a Reasonable Balance Between Supply and Demand

In the initial excitement of contract negotiation, business owners might overestimate demand for their projects. Wise entrepreneurs take baby steps while wading through the planning phase. The time for a deeper plunge is after a realistic assessment of product demand. Only after meeting demand becomes a challenge in itself should a new business expand its initial investment.

Too much product at the outset complicates a website, adds to maintenance costs, and wastes the original investment.

Work Out Sales Promotion Strategies in the Early Stages

New business owners can also go overboard with their initial advertising. Remember to carefully ponder sales promotions, and tailor them to your company’s goals. Some business managers can dump money into advertising that can misfire, even harming brand image or simply wasting resources.

A tasteless, spammy, or annoying sales promotion does no one favors. Neither do wasteful practices such as carelessly executed free sample campaigns. Remember that ads should take advantage of the right time, place, and style to effectively influence potential clientele.

Prioritize Wise Contract Negotiation

Irrational optimism can doom new companies. Small business owners need to put together contracts with the worst possible outcomes in mind. Human nature tends to assume everything will go smoothly, but the inevitable snags often pop up unexpectedly. Veteran business owners should pour over contracts with a fine-tooth comb with an eye toward the life of a contract rather than the bare minimums and the foreseeable future.

Careless Choice of Advertising Partners

Remember that you have as much of a right to choose your advertisers as they to choose you. Advertisers need to stay relevant, ethical, and lucrative. Advertisements should stay interesting and tasteful. In other words, new business owners should maintain self-respect and not get carried away in the excitement of finally receiving sponsorship.

Consider Effective Customer Contact Strategies

Email lists can provide a free method to reach prospects on demand. Remember to form these lists quickly, efficiently, and ethically. When soliciting contact information, make sure to obtain a full profile of the customer’s interests, goals, and potential. Effective customer contact lists can save a fortune in advertising later.

Conclusion

Ecommerce presents its own set of risks. Without careful contemplation, Veteran Business Owners can go overboard in the wrong direction at the outset, in ways that can quickly deplete resources. The remote nature of the online customer relationship amplifies these. Careful, realistic, and multidimensional feedback and planning can effectively prepare for success in the modern, largely internet-based economy.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

How Not to Design Websites

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Never Lose Sight of your Core Competency

Your business idea is your own, companies should never lose sight of the uniqueness of your core enterprise. Superfluous bells and whistles only add confusion when they distract from the basic functions of your business. 

Merchants can control the traffic to the website, if not their profit margins. Websites should be carefully designed considering the basic functions of your business. 

In other words, your website should center around the services you can provide. Tangential and superfluous information waste resources and distract from the bottom line. The marketing pitch should be clear and to the point, and traffic to the website should consist of interested consumers rather than gawkers attracted by irrelevant additions to the website. Good SEO (search engine optimization) can avoid this failure.

Don’t Turn Your Website into an Unrelatable Mess of Brick-a-Brack

A website rife with irrelevant information messes with the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your company, as well as its analytics. An organized website, on the other hand, attracts the best kinds of business. 

Some ugly websites can get away with it. Craigslist, for example, has a nostalgic, folksy appeal that reminds us of the days before sophisticated website creating apps such as WordPress and Etsy. The Drudge Report has a brutalist look that harkens to the days before “web designer” became a staple hipster freelance gig. These older websites already have established reputations, with the associated goodwill.

New Veteran Business Owners need to put more thought into website design. Remember the importance of the brand building. With the development of the company, the “goodwill” of target customers develops

In the case of some websites, such as Craigslist, the plain, no-frills design is in fact part of the brand. Established users enjoy the look because of the familiarity and would probably raise hell in the case of a redesigning. Craigslist is an example of a company whose website in fact has accumulated enough “goodwill” to compensate for its hideous look.

However, most new business owners need to develop that goodwill over time. “Goodwill” for a business means positive relationships with your consumer base. Good marketing should reflect in your website. Hopefully, as you develop a more sleek, well-directed website, your marketing strategy should communicate more directly with your target audience.

 WordPress and other web-building applications tend to give analytics that shows progress as your website develops. In general, website analytics go a long way in showing how well your website reaches your target. 

The Work Doesn’t End with a Finished Website

Even with the development of your own business, remember the importance of consistent improvement of your own product or service. Business owners should take feedback seriously, consistently building up the quality of their products.

Veteran Business Owners should not rest on their laurels after designing a workable online presence. Any such website should provide comments sections and other forums for feedback. On the business owner’s end, this feedback should provide starting points for improvements, especially when the feedback is consistent. 

Conclusion

In the end, remember the importance of good communication. Some terrible websites maintain relevance through their relationships with customers. However, generally, new business owners should consider relevant designs that speak directly to their consumer base. Who knows, maybe even your own design might go out of fashion one day. But with goodwill and brand loyalty, you may preserve good relationships in the long term.

In other words, for the initial stages of business development, don’t forget the importance of a sleek website that speaks to its target audience. Goodwill can take time to develop. But consider whatever market analytics you have available and try to make sure your website fulfills the goals of your business in the here and now.  

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Community Engagement for Small Businesses

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

A visible presence in the community can do wonders to raise the profile of a small Veteran Owned Business. Engagement in community activities can imprint your brand into the minds of those around you and entrench your products or services into the hearts and minds of the most active citizens. Four strategies can help businesses integrate into the public sphere and make your brand synonymous with responsible public engagement.

First, consider the special contributions your business can make available. The best value comes from the optimal use of existing resources. Surplus goods can go to work as donations fundraisers, and these contributions can increase goodwill toward the company. Even special expertise can go to building new campaigns or initiatives. Redeployment of existing resources can not only ensure the maximum outcome for all parties but can effectively advertise the quality of the business for anyone involved in the charitable cause.

Along the same lines, businesses can solicit relationships with organizations that involve themselves in your business’s field in the economy. Never undervalue your expertise. The relevance of your business provides huge value to nonprofits in your sector.

Perhaps you have a restaurant. Your restaurant can provide excess food to the homeless or even for catering events, assuming (importantly) the food is well-kept. As for non-perishables, items such as clothing can be embroidered into relevant t-shirts or even donated. The possibilities are endless for high-quality excess goods and services.

Second, consider input from employees. Each employee may have their own interests in the nonprofit sphere. Engagement with nonprofits can encourage engagement with employees as well. Every idea from an employee can bring your brand into a new sphere. Oftentimes, the employees’ interests in the community can pose an educational opportunity that can even expand your brand.

Third, business owners should keep a strong gauge of customers’ nonprofit concerns. Customers themselves might provide ideas and insights into community engagement. Entrepreneurs can strengthen goodwill among customers by chiming into their concerns. For this reason, business owners should always value customer feedback.

Fourth, remember your values and stick with them. Some companies might provide ethically made clothing brands, free from sweatshops or forced labor. Others might provide vegan or vegetarian food. Still, others may oppose religious persecution abroad. These companies have their nonprofit work cut out for them.

Still, other entrepreneurs have their own causes that energize them, outside of their own scope of business. Still, good karma follows from maintaining a presence year-long with favorite nonprofit initiatives. Just remember the above precepts and the resulting opportunities for associating your brand with your passions about the direction of your community.

In conclusion, business owners with community concerns can profit immensely from engagement with their favorite causes. Even placing excess inventory into the hands of community workers or charity recipients can serve an advertising purpose. Still, beyond that simple measure, the simple presence of your company’s logo in a fundraising drive can serve a marketing function beyond warming your heart or the hearts of others. Wise engagement with community causes rarely has a downside. Veteran Business Owners should always remember the nonprofit sector no matter how successful their own ventures are.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

When Copyright Law Prohibits Image Use

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Commonly, a Veteran Business Owner might choose to incorporate an image onto their materials. Visual images capture more vivid responses on social media, more so than verbal content. However, remember that legal responsibilities attach when using other peoples’ work. Generally, the creator owns the image itself.

“Trademarks” actually differ from “copyrights.” The owner of a “trademark” more likely registers at a government office. “Copyrights” can be registered but are hazier and more complicated. “Copyrights” can acquire relevance through repeated use and association with a certain brand. No official maneuvers in any public office need precede the attachment of a “copyright.” The creator of an image has rights to that image regardless of any bureaucratic steps they may take.

The “Berne Convention Treaty” determines certain basic permissible uses for copyright and applies in various countries. Among these rights is the freedom to “reproduce the work,” “make derivatives of the work,” “display the work publicly,” and “distribute the work in public.” Note the general bias against commercial use of copyrighted material.

The concept of “fair use” 

In some cases, an image can be used without the permission of the creator. Generally, these uses are not-for-profit and for the public benefit. The law has codified fair use as encompassing uses that are “for commercial, non-profit, or educational use,” “highly creative, or more fact-based,” as well as “how much of the work is reproduced,” and “how the use affects the potential market for the original work.”

However, this exception rarely applies in cases of advertisements or marketing.

What About Stock Images?

Website designers can find “stock photos” and images throughout the internet and can expect different levels of permission for use of those images.

Examples may include 67% Collection, istocphoto.com, Pexels, Stocksnap, Unsplash, Pixabay, and Freestock. The list of these sites is endless, and many stock images have become all too familiar to the public from excessive use.

When does copyright law interfere with the legality of any public use of stock images by a private company? Users should read the fine print on a stock image page, especially before use on a for-profit website. Many of these sites request licensing fees in consideration for use of these images. Even after payment, the provider and creator of the image may forbid certain uses. Remember that actors, artists, and photographers put their work into these images, and each has their own interest in how the work is used. Each might have its own “terms and conditions” for wider use.

“Creative Commons” Licenses

“Creative Commons” licenses address many of these concerns. These licenses restrict the unincumbered use of copyrighted material. For example, some artists may choose to restrict their work for noncommercial rather than commercial use. Others, for example, might choose to prohibit use for a certain political cause. Perhaps a model doesn’t want their image doctored in Photoshop, or a photographer doesn’t want changes to the lighting or background.

“Creative Commons” licenses exist in law to balance the interests of creators with those of users, especially in cases where the creators hope for widespread, but not unrestricted, use of their work.

How to Handle Copyright Concerns with Image Use

Unencumbered commercial use of online images is never a good idea. Stock photo sites provide one avenue for business owners in need of graphic imagery. However, these images generally have caveats, and business owners should carefully scan any use restrictions.

Frankly, the best option would be for business owners to produce their own imagery. In addition to evading legal complications, an independently produced image speaks to the capacities of the company.

All internet users should assume online images are never absolute public domain. Careless use of possibly copyrighted pictures can not only land Veteran Business Owners in legal hot water but could damage the reputation and legitimacy of their business as well.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The Pandemic has given us the term “the New Normal.” The new “work-from-home” paradigm also entails the term “Digital Nomad.” Are “Digital Nomads” synchronous with “the New Normal?” Many define “Digital Nomads” as workers with the independence to produce anywhere, anytime. 

“The New Normal” developed at the outbreak of the Pandemic, only a year and a half ago, and provides workers the flexibility to work at home as necessary. “Digital Nomads” are nothing new. However, these “extreme” remote workers have seen their roles expand and develop considerably during this period.

A few small countries have even started allowing “digital nomad” visas for workers who want to “work in paradise.” These countries include Bermuda, Mauritius, and Montserrat, as well as several European countries. But is a “digital nomad” really the same as a hybrid worker? Let’s flesh this out.

Who are Digital Nomads?

“Digital Nomads” live out-of-reach of their office headquarters. Younger workers, as well as retirees, have increasingly adopted these arrangements. Many employers have decided to focus on output rather than “presenteeism” Such arrangements have even become more common indirect employer-employee relationships, and are no longer the sole domain of freelancers and casual workers.

Communication Issues

Such an arrangement could be perfect for many business relationships. Other relationships, not so much. Good candidates for “digital nomads” may include creative workers using their own resources, as well as positions with limited client contact. Such “extreme” remote positions should allow relative independence from management. 

“Digital nomads” are not people who need detailed instruction in office processes. Oftentimes, such workers are creative workers who function successfully as their own mobile small businesses. Workers who might need to be called into the office periodically are not good candidates for “remote work visas.”

For example, in some cases, an employer may require a worker’s presence in an in-person client meeting. Successful employers and contractors foresee these demands before committing to arrangements such as, for example, procurement of a remote work visa.

Security Issues

Employers should consider possible security breaches when considering the scope of remote relationships. Some workers may have access to secure information. These workers may need a closer relationship with their home base. For example, each device containing secure information presents a security risk. Assuming the presence of sensitive information, loose monitoring of such devices is bad practice.

Expenses for Remote Work Visas

A visa for “working in paradise” generally costs several hundred dollars for the visa itself as well as proof of income. “Paradise” can include diverse remote island countries as well as several European countries including Germany, Portugal, Iceland, and Croatia. Each country offers its own price for the visa itself, in addition to income thresholds levels to prove robust links with the employer.

“Hybrid Workers” versus “Digital Nomads

Business owners should distinguish between workers who might qualify for “hybrid roles” and workers who might become full-blown “Digital Nomads.” “Digital Nomads” can work in far remote locations with no physical contact with management. The employee’s role should be established and meticulously carved out before initiating an entirely remote arrangement. 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

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