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The blog has been quiet for some time now, we have been doing some house cleaning. In the coming months there will be some interesting changes, one of these changes is our presence on Twitter.

Twitter is a brilliant source for News and Information. In this the first of many Twitter Monthly Roundup posts I’ll share with you some of the best articles I found related to small business online. If you would like to find us on Twitter look for @ebc_chet and @ebc_ali.

Put Ad on Web. Count Clicks. Revise (NYtimes.com)

A good read that talks about the strengths of data analysis when adevertising online.

How site personas can enhance your site. (boagworld.com)

When developing a website it’s a great idea to create user personas, it’s a great exercise for understanding the readers coming to your website. Have you overlooked you websites persona though? It’s equally as important, this article will explain why.

7 Tips for Effective Calls to Action (blog.hubspot.com)

Have you defined your websites goals? If so is your call to action statement well designed? A good read talking about the importance of well designed call to action statements.

12 Tips For Designing an Excellent Checkout Process (smashingmagazine.com)

Shopping Online can be a painful process, help ease the pain and make your customers experience shopping at your online store secure, reliable and easy.

9 Essential Principles for Good Web Design (psd.tutsplus.com)

It’s all about the details, this article is a little more web developer focused however it’s still a valuable read for any company that is relaunching or getting a new website developed.

How to Improve Your Branding With Your Content (smashingmagazine.com)

Your content is a very large part of your Companies branding online, Rick Sloboda wrote an excellent article for Smashing Magazine discussing this very topic. For all you Vancouver locals, Rick has been a long time speaker for eBusiness Connections and he has an upcoming “Writing for the Web” Seminar on June 8th. You can register for this seminar at the Small Business Education Center

Creating Your Own Deadlines and Setting Aggresive Goals for Your Business (thenetsetter.com)

A great read discussing the benefits to setting aggressive goals for your business.

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Many small growing businesses in BC are about to take their first steps into the Social Media world. There is lots of information available online to help small businesses understand how to approach social media in fact there is so much information that everything can get a little confusing.

Below is a collection of articles and videos that I have stumbled on, they are solid reads and should help to answer some early stage questions that any small business entering into social media may have:

1. Becoming More Social

An overview article that discusses marketing and preparing for marketing online using Social Media.

2. When Your Business Gets Trashed Online

You work hard to make your customer happy but sometimes things go offtrack. This article discusses how to prepare and handle a poor review of your company online.

3.  Whipping the Social Media Beast in 30 Minutes a Day

The name says it all, many business owners feel that Social Media will take all their (or an employees) time. This blog post will help you to understand that venturing into social media doesn't require a platoon of dedicated people chained to their seats for 8 hours a day.

4. Giant Cocktail Party: Social networking – good for small business?

A video snippet with Seth Godin describing the social media landscape and how to use the tools out there effectively. I also suggest looking at other video snippets from the "New Perspective on Business" discussion that Seth was involved in, some very informative video.

5. If I Started Today

Chris Brogan reflecting on how he would approach Social Media if today was day one for him. The first point about listening is great, many businesses overlook this aspect when planning for social media.

You may notice that many of the articles I have mentioned live at OpenForum.com a few weeks ago I found this website. There are some interesting articles and videos at openforum.com and it's well worth the look. 

E-business Connections is also hosting our very first Social Media Seminar on February 18th at 1pm, the seminar is being delivered by Jess Sloss a Vancouver based Social Media Strategist.

 

 

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The New Year is only hours away and, like many others, eBusiness Connections had made some resolutions of its own. In 2009, eBusiness Connections plans to deliver more information about emerging industry tools and trends, including how these tools can help your small business operate and market itself more economically.

We have decided to focus on five key blog series this year:

  • Social Media: Dip Your Toe In
    What is social media and can your growing small business make use of it?
  • Do You Want to Use a Software as a Service (SaaS) Application?
    What is SaaS and how can it help your small business grow?
  • Do You Need Online Video to Sell Your Product?
    Is online video right for your small business?
  • Your Brand Online
    How the web changed branding and what your small business can do to take advantage of these changes.
  • Website Content Management System (CMS) Evolved
    The new players in the market and how these CMS's help you maintain your business's website.

Social Media: Dip Your Toe In
"Social media" is simply a buzzword (have you ever heard of non-social media?) that refers to new communication platforms online. Recently, Jess Sloss published an article for SocialSquared discussing that the public expects your small business to have a social media presence. The key to social media is understanding its strengths and weaknesses. Once you gain this understanding, you can develop a marketing plan based on social media and choose specific tools/platforms that best suit the needs of your business.

Do You Want to Use a Software as a Service Application?
Software as a Service (SaaS) is an emerging online industry of hosted software tools your company can use. These tools aim to remove common software burdens, including software maintenance, ongoing operation, ongoing support and high up-front costs. Is SaaS for your growing small business? Are you looking for an invoicing tool or a Web Content Management System with built-in support? This blog series is meant to help you understand the pros and cons of SaaS, as well as how it may help your small business grow.

Do You Need Online Video to Sell My Product?
Why does everyone seem to be on YouTube and why do individual blogs have video? Could your business market itself through videos and podcasts? What about broadcasting your next event via the web? Now, more than ever, online video broadcast capabilities are much more viable. Online video does not just include promotional material. How about conferencing your next multi-city office meeting? This blog series will help you understand what resources exist regarding video online, and how it may benefit a small business owner.

Your Brand Online
The web has changed marketing and brand identity online. Now, your brand is often established and re-affirmed online based on how people speak about your business. It'ss time to put away the soapbox and start a conversation with your customer. Listening to your customer may prove to be the best branding and research decision your business will make. Checkout mystarbucksidea.com or DunkinDonuts Twitter page to get an idea of what we are talking about. This blog series will help you understand how listening and speaking with your customers online will strengthen and solidify your brand's identity.

Website CMS Evolved
Managing your business website is easier than you think. The Content Management System arena on the web has grown tremendously. The small business owner now has very good paid solutions, open source, and SaaS web content management tools at their disposal. Understanding whether your business needs a CMS and how to choose the correct one for your needs is the focus of this blog series.

Over the course of 2009, our goal is to provide the small business owner with the information needed to direct its presence in the online world. These five focused blog series have been planned based on the questions you ask us most, and we are eager to provide you with the answers. eBusiness Connections would also like to hear more about the information your small business craves. Please feel free to email us at info@e-bc.ca with any questions or suggestions you have.

Have a Happy New Year!

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December 2nd is my last day at eBC/Small Business BC. I have accepted a position with Graphically Speaking. It’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to all the challenges ahead. I would like to thank all the staff at Small Business BC, especially Rod Young, Amy Elgie, and Candice Macalino. I would like to thank all my eBC clients who I have helped over the past three years, and especially Huey Tollett who taught me what bravery and strength really mean. Huey started as my client and I’m proud to say became my friend. I’d like to thank Christina Baumgartner for her patience and positive attitude. I’d also like to thank Chet Woodside, to whom I entrust eBC, and Nathan Waters, to whom I profoundly hope gets a fair deal. Finally, I would like to thank Jennifer Reid, who brought me into eBC. She has taught me a lot about people, especially how to think win-win.

I leave eBC better then how I found it, and isn’t that the way to go? 


Congratulations. You have decided the start an e-business or have decided to expand your existing business online. We have created a list of ten steps to help you on your way.

1. Evaluate the Idea

The bottom line of any business depends upon customers buying your product or service – if they won't buy you won't succeed! Unfortunately many businesses fail simply because they don't know who their customer is. Your customers might be consumers or retail stores, wholesalers or manufacturers, government or other institutions. List as many points as you can about who yo u think will buy your product and then list the reasons why they would by from you and not your competitor.

2. Define the Revenue Model

Now that you have identified your customer and listed the reasons they would by from you your next step is to define your revenue model – how are you going to make money. Find out who your competitors are and what they charge for similar products and services. What is unique about your offer that would benefit your customer? There may be something about your product, your price, the friendliness and speed of your service, your hours of operation, your level of quality, the skills of your employees or other aspect of your business?

3. Erase the “E”

Remove the “e” from e-business and e-commerce. Online business is no different then traditional “real world” business – it's just a different environment. The same rules governing business practices, competition, customer service, marketing, and taxation apply, although they may vary slightly. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that e-business and e-commerce is easier.

4. Take a Seminar

Take advantage of the incredible amount of seminars offered by Small Business BC. These incredibly affordable seminars cover almost every aspect of starting a small business, such as taxation, human resources, copyright, trademarks, sales, marketing, accounting, and search engine marketing – all presented by industry experts. Details and a full listing can be found at www.smallbusinessbc.ca/seminars

5. Create the Business

Although many e-businesses begin as home-based, they need to be setup and registered properly – and when your business outgrows your home-office and becomes the “next big thing” you'll be thankful it has this strong foundation. Use the amazing resources available at Small Business BC to create your business; most of them free. They can help you conduct a business name search and business registration, obtain a GST, PST, and business number, and guide you through the process of registering with Worksafe BC , municipal business licensing, and many other rules and regulations applications.

6. Write Your Business Plan

Success in today's economy requires a solid foundation of knowledge from which sound business decisions can be made. For most people considering or involved in creating a new business venture, this foundation is built from a formal business plan. Even if you believe your business does not require a formal plan, most business experts highly recommend that you conduct at least some preliminary research prior to committing yourself legally or financially to your business enterprise. The strategic value of a business plan is derived from the information you collect and the knowledge you acquire during this process. That is, the exercise of preparing a business plan is critical in helping you gain an understanding of how your business venture will operate in the marketplace. Checkout Small Business BC's Business Plan resources page at http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca/bizstart-bPlanning.php

7. Craft the Message

What are the words and phrases your customers would search for to find your products or services? Your main message should revolve around those words and phrases. For instance, suppose you repair radios in Vernon BC . It is logical to assume that potential customers living in the area will be searching for “ radio repair north okanagan ” and so your message should be: “ Vernon Communications, North Okanagan's expert affordable radio repair since 1991 ”. This message will serve as your “tag line” and will become the foundation for your marketing.

8. Register the Domain

Use your crafted message when you register your domain name. In the example above a good domain name would be vernon-radio-repair.com or okanagan-radio-repair.com because both domains contain the words that potential customers will use when the search. A domain name provides an online identity and contact point for your business or organization. Choosing an appropriate yet available name is no easy task in a saturated market — world-wide, registered domain names near 5 billion and counting. Therefore, choosing the right domain name means balancing availability with brand recognition, search engine marketing, and user appeal.

9. Write the Content

The right keywords in your web copy can make the difference between a top 10 and top 500 search engine ranking. Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines frequently send spiders to websites in search of relevant, keyword-rich web copy. Nourish their logical needs and you'll reap higher search engine rankings and traffic. Once you get visitors to your website, your web copy must connect with them on an emotional level to engage them and ultimately convert sales. That's where customer-centric web copy, compelling headlines, effective calls to action and strategically placed links come into play. You gain credibility, trust and sales. Crafting content is hard and so it is often wise to employ the services of a quailed web copy writer, like Rick Sloboda from www.webcopyplus.com

10. Hire the Best Company

The web development industry is unregulated and anyone can profess to be a web developer. You need to educate yourself in matters of usability, aesthetics, search engine marketing, ecommerce, regulations, and taxation in order to ensure you are hiring a qualified and competent person to create your website. Ask to see previous work: This is the best way to assess their skills. But don't let yourself be fooled by appearances. Just because they have a professional looking website doesn't mean they are a professional company. Our directory of e-solution providers, www.ebizpages.ca , lists web companies that are BC registered businesses.


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