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Small Business Web Design Mistakes To Avoid

1. Ensure That Grammar and Spelling Is Correct
Many small businesses believe that they should not concern themselves too much with spelling and grammar. The most important part, to them, is that word gets out about their products and services. No matter how passionate and professional they may be about what they do, it does not matter to the customer if they have poor spelling and grammar on their website. It is important to check every bit of writing for mistakes before it goes public.

2. Do Not Create a Confusing Layout
When a business wishes for people to get around their site with little problems, they should make sure that their layout is not confusing. If a person has to guess where a link is, the business is not doing a good job with their design. It should be very clear where everything is, and everything should work properly. It is never a good idea to try to be too creative; going for something artistic usually means that nothing is where it should be. People expect to navigate a website flawlessly.

3. Choose a Color Scheme That Makes Sense
Any and all colors used on the website should complement each other in some way. No matter how perfect the text on the website may be, it does not matter if the reader cannot make out anything. It is vital that people be able to read anything they come across, as otherwise they could miss out on important information. If they become frustrated a small business can suffer for it. It is not advisable, for example, to put yellow text on a black background, or green text on a red background. If the business is not sure about what to do, they should consult a professional.

4. Provide Contact Information in a Visible Place
Visitors may not go to a website simply because they wish to look at some text and images for awhile; they may also come to a small business website because they have a question. For this reason, the business should make sure that contact information is provided. The information should also be in an obvious and visible place, as otherwise people could become frustrated. If a business cannot communicate with their clients and customers, little can get done. The information should consist of a phone number, email address or both.

5. Do Not Use Large Images or Embed a Media Player
Not everybody has a fast Internet connection. While it may only take a few seconds for a picture to load for one person, another person may have to wait several minutes or longer. Because of this fact, a small business should make sure that everybody has a chance to load and enjoy the website. They should not use large images, and nothing should be too complicated. They should also avoid the use of a media player. Some people go online while they sit in class or ride the bus; should music or a video start playing without warning, the customer could become embarrassed and abandon the site.

February 3, 2012   No Comments

Five Most Popular Valentine’s Day Gifts

For many guys, Valentine’s Day is a day to remind them how little they know about being romantic. Too often they find themselves stopping on the side of the road to buy flowers from a panhandler that looks like he might have stolen them from an old lady down the street. So this year, think ahead and get one of these gifts for that special woman.

1. The Vacuum Cleaner

This may seem like an odd gift to give on Valentine’s Day and will likely get a guy immediately scorned, but there is a trick to giving this gift and making a girl melt. After she opens the vacuum cleaner, the guy should hand her a note telling her that the vacuum was bought so that you could clean up for her and she would no longer have to worry about a messy floor. The only downside to this gift is that the guy has now committed himself to vacuuming for at least a week.

2. Jewelry

The classic standby is always a great option. A guy must be careful not to go too big in this case or she will get the wrong idea about what is happening. A nice bracelet or necklace is perfect for Valentine’s Day.

3. Go Old School

Everyone remembers the old Valentine’s Day cards that the kids would pass around in elementary school. It is a classic move that brings back nostalgic memories for every girl. Her heart will melt at the simple but heartfelt messages that have a whole new meaning when presented by an adult that truly understands what the cards are trying to say. A series of these over the course of the days that lead to Valentine’s Day makes for a very romantic gesture.

4. Stuffed Animals

Another throw back to younger days, this gift is an easy option that shows forethought and caring. A plush heart can sit on her bed all day and remind her every time she comes home that she is loved. It is also a way for a guy to remind her that he is still playful at heart and wants to do anything he can to put a smile on her face. A bear holding a heart is a classic Valentine’s gift that is not incredibly typical and shows a girl that she is cared about.

5. Fake Flowers

Most women like flowers but giving flowers is fairly typical and unimaginative. But giving fake flowers can give an advantage that real flowers does not. At first this may result in a strange look, but every guy that does this should attach a note that says, “This flower will not wilt until the day I stop loving you.” It is a creative way to tell a girl that she will be loved forever.

There are many great ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts. It just takes a little thought and some creativity to turn a bad gift into a great gift.

January 30, 2012   No Comments

10 DIY Wedding Items to Buy Wholesale

Spring is fast approaching, and many couples are looking forward to weddings as the weather warms and the ground begins to thaw. In today’s tough economic climate, more and more people are looking to save money on their wedding by putting it together themselves. Whether you’re looking for inexpensive favors or buying decorations online, wholesale items can make for a great bargain. Here’s 10 must-haves for any do-it-yourself wedding.

1. Candles make great decorations for tables and other reception decor. You can buy plain white candles in bulk to provide mood-lighting across your space, or purchase lantern lights to give a rustic look to your outdoor wedding.

2. Gift baskets make great gifts for your wedding party. Pamper your bridesmaids with gift baskets. They’ll be grateful for the opportunity to relax and unwind after all the dancing at your reception.

3. Wholesale wedding decorations can serve as a jumping-off point for your own custom designs, or can be used as-is as part of your decor. From aisle runners and decorative garlands to colored sand, you can pick up must-have items inexpensively and in bulk.

4. When used creatively, balloons can be a great, inexpensive way to add color and whimsy to your wedding. Consider incorporating balloons into your flower arrangements, or cover the ceiling in pale helium-filled balloons that will help to soften the light at your reception.

5. Looking for something unique but inexpensive to top your cake? You can choose from a wide variety of cake toppers, ranging from the traditional bride-and-groom figurines to art deco designs and even a photo frame cake topper.

6. The reception toast is an integral part of many weddings, but stylish glasses don’t need to be prohibitively expensive. You can choose from a wide variety of toasting flutes, glasses, and even mugs that can match the theme and atmosphere of your wedding.

7. Premium wedding invitations can be exceedingly expensive, but homemade options are time-consuming and hard to make. A good compromise is wholesale wedding invitations which look professional without carrying the shocking price tag.

8. Artificial flowers are quickly gaining popularity as wedding decorations. They are durable, inexpensive, and often more environmentally sound. You can also easily re-purpose your wedding flowers into other decorations, or send them home with guests as favors.

9. Need some inspiration for wedding favors? You can browse a wide selection of favors for ideas that will match your wedding’s theme and its budget.

10. After the big day is over, all you’ll have left are memories and photographs. To make the most of your wedding photos, you might want to invest in some wedding photo albums and frames to display shots of your special day for many years to come.

January 23, 2012   No Comments

Settling Difficult Decisions for Your Small Business

Starting a small business is a big challenge and a big step. One of the first things you need to do is really get into a win/loss mindset. You can’t run a business based on your feelings, based on emotions, you have to run it on cold, hard logic. Maybe you’d like to hire your unemployed cousin, for instance, but if you don’t really have the budget for another employee then you don’t really have the budget for another employee.

Other decisions will be more difficult. For instance, if you see an opening in the market that will allow you to expand, you need to stop and consider whether or not expanding is actually worth it. At the end of the day maybe both choices are equally valid in their own way but you can only choose one. Here are three tips to making those decisions a little easier.

Someone Needs to Have Final Say

A beast with two heads will always be bickering with itself. Even if you’re running a business with your wife or husband or your twin brother, somebody needs to have final say and everyone else needs to be willing to go along with it if they want to stay with the business.

Obviously, a good leader will take into account suggestions made by their staff, but they need to have total authority over their business goals if they are to stay focused and driven towards those ends. It does no good to have three or four managers all with different visions for the company.

Writing a Pros and Cons List

When you sit down to settle a difficult decision such as whether to sell the company or whether to expand, it helps to write down a list of pros on one side and cons on the other. Keep at it and sooner or later you might come to the pro or con that settles everything and makes the whole decision a lot easier.

For instance, if your business has fallen on hard times, selling is an easy way out that frees you of debt and stress, and that alone is worth selling for. On the other hand, if it’s doing very well and the price you were offered is half what you think you could make in a year, then you might want to hold onto it. Many decisions become very easy once you lay out the facts.

Understanding Loss Avoidance and Instinctive, Gut Feelings

A lot of small business owners are afraid of losing what they’ve built. So afraid, in fact, that they never make any decisions that would improve their income or expand their business or see them becoming more successful. This instinct for loss avoidance is vital to survival, but detrimental to long term success. It’s important to understand that your trepidation about some things is not realistic or logical but an instinctive want to avoid any sort of loss whatsoever. Sometimes the safe choice is the smart choice, but understand that your intuition can be your downfall.

January 18, 2012   No Comments

10 Affordable Wholesale Valentines Gifts

Valentines Day can be fraught with worry. You may feel judged by your choice of gift, as though the quality of your affection were directly related to the quality of your gift. After all, the commercials always make it seem like real love can only be shared through diamonds and pearls. Luckily, for romance on a budget, there are several options for buying affordable wholesale gifts for your sweetie.

For Her…
1. Bath goodies

2. What’s more romantic than a candlelit dinner? A candlelit dinner using wholesale aromatherapy candles to set the mood! There’s even a romance candle that’s practically screaming to be bought for your girl.

3. Buying perfume online can be a challenge, since you may not know if you like the scent without giving it a try. The next time you’re in a perfume store, make note of the brands you like; then you can search online for affordable wholesale alternatives.

4. Nothing says “I Love You” like a big box of chocolate. You don’t have to tell anyone that you bought it cheap on wholesale.

5. The best part about buying wholesale fashion jewelry? You can get a lot for your money; the lady in your life will feel especially pampered when you shower her in gifts.

For Him….
1. Did you know you can buy sexy women’s lingerie on wholesale? Sure, you’re buying it for yourself — but you know you’re really buying it for him.

2. Many familiar fragrances are available on wholesale, including Playboy and Adidas. If you have a favorite scent, you can search to see if you can buy it inexpensively on wholesale.

3. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. You can be sure to romance him with a snack basket of all his favorite foods. Many baskets include meals for two, making for an ideal romantic snack.

4. Men might not say it, but they love jewelry almost as much as women do. You can browse a wide selection of rings and necklaces for the perfect match for your man.

5. Still unsure what to get your sweetheart? You can browse a selection of Valentines-themed gifts for inspiration. From cards to stuffed animals, all kinds of Valentines gifts are available.

Whether shopping for yourself or your sweetheart, wholesale gifts offer a valuable alternative to shelling out cash at an expensive retail store. Even better, if you own your own business, you can stock up on affordable wholesale Valentines gifts and share the savings with your grateful customers.

January 16, 2012   No Comments

Getting Your Business Online and Driving-Up Sales

Every small business owner looks for ways to do two things on a regular basis: drive-up sales and cut costs. Cutting costs is a never ending pursuit and can only be done to a certain degree before the company itself begins to suffer. That leaves increasing cash flow to lead generation and salesmanship. The question then becomes how to do so without going over advertising budget or even how to do so with little or no advertising budget.

The increasing answer is to get a business presence online, taking advantage of the ubiquity and cost-friendly management of e-commerce and brand promotion.

Publish a Website

This can be done by even an Internet novice, someone unfamiliar with HTML, CSS and SEO or Search Engine Optimization. There are many “push-button” website publishers available online which provide user-friendly, intuitive website creation. A business owner need only select a theme, an industry, enter some text and arrange the appearance of images. Within minutes, a business owner can design and publish a website. Changes–when needed–are typically nearly effortless.

Use Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the practice of placing text, links and/or images on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Unation, Pinteres and LinkedIn. Social media marketing, often abbreviated SMM, is a great way to get a brand out to the public without having to pay a publicist or hire an advertising agency. Social media profiles are free to create and use. But there worth can be priceless.

Create a Blog

In addition to a website and social media profiles, businesses will find blogs to be a great way to connect with customers. Think of a blog as a virtual newsletter featuring the best aspects of your company, most used services and products with the added benefit of no design, printing and mailing costs. Each post is a chance to reach new customers as well as cater to existing customers. The trick is to make every post SEO and LSI keyword friendly–that is, using specific words or phrases and synonyms to get your blog indexed by search engines. An example of keywords and LSI keyworks for a dog grooming service would be “dog grooming”, “pet grooming”, “pet care”, “grooming services” and “master pet stylist”.

Make Yourself Available to Traditional Media

Being online doesn’t mean ignoring traditional media. If you want more traffic to your website, generating more sales, then make yourself available to print, radio and television media. Granting interviews and commenting on news items related to your business will only bolster your online presence.

Don’t Forget about Old-Fashioned Networking

There’s a reason local Better Business Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce still have brick-and-mortar locations. They support local businesses, help companies to get there name out among area residents. Just because a company has a website doesn’t mean people living a few blocks over will visit the business online.

In addition, being involved with local volunteer groups, sports groups, schools and churches will increase your business’ overall image and up the patronage to your brick-and-mortar.

January 11, 2012   No Comments

Small Business Owners Must Look For Value in a Resume

To find good employees, many business owners rely on resumes to find employees. What exactly, though, should a business look for in a resume to separate good applicants from bad applicants?

The resume is a quick snapshot of a potential employee. It will list simple data, such as a person’s date of birth, work experience and education. If this basic data is missing, it’s a good idea to reject that applicant.

There are other warning signs business owners should look for in a resume.

For example, if a resume is written in all capital letters or on pink confetti paper, that’s a sign that an applicant has been too lazy to study and understand basic resume formats. That laziness could carry over into that applicant’s work habits. This resume goes on the reject pile.

Any resume with poor grammar is a red flag. An applicant should know the difference between the words “its” and “it’s.” An applicant should capitalize the word “I” when speaking of himself. Resumes are not tweets to a buddy.

Is the company’s name misspelled? Misspellings are another reason for a business owner to reject a resume.

A resume with perfect grammar and spelling is a cause for joy to business owners. This resume shows that an applicant is a professional who cares about himself. He wants to impress upon a potential employer that he pays attention to details. This applicant deserves a second look.

The fact that an applicant took the time to learn a business owner’s name and spells it correctly is an indication that the applicant is meticulous and serious. This resume is also a keeper.

The cover letter deserves special attention because several key facts about an applicant can be found immediately.

A cover letter filled with phrases like “works well with others” or “I’m a team player” is an indication that the applicant is grinding out sausage cover letters. This cover letter is probably duplicated and sent to hundreds of employers.

Each cover letter must be unique and targeted to each individual business owner. It must be thoughtful and indicate that the applicant spent some time researching the company.

The best applicants will tell a business owner what their value is to a company.

Here’s one example: I mastered several techniques in Dreamweaver that create web pages 25 percent faster than the industry average.

When business owners see this on a cover letter, they know that this applicant is capable of producing a critical product quickly. Processing information faster than a competitor affects the bottom line and makes a company money. Business owners realize that this applicant has measurable value to a company.

No business can be profitable without topnotch employees. Good employees must be professional, skilled and show value that will help a company earn a profit. Knowing how to pick the right employee from a resume is a critical skill that every small business owner must master.

January 11, 2012   No Comments

Our 1,000 blanket give-a-way was a huge success!

Here are the wonderful non-profit organizations that won free fleece blankets!

Name of the Non-Profit City: State: Place
Center for Great Apes Wauchula FL 1st Place – 240 blankets
Treasure Boxes for Preschoolers Tampa FL 2nd Place – 144 blankets
Anjellicle cats rescue New York City NY 3rd Place – 96 blankets
Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas Carrollton TX 4th Place – 24 blankets
Anderson Humane Society Lawrenceburg KY 4th Place – 24 blankets
First Light Farm Equine Shelter Perry ME 4th Place – 24 blankets
Golden Valley Fellowship Golden Valley AZ 4th Place – 24 blankets
Grove Christian Outreach Center Williamsburg VA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Liberty Humane Society Jersey City NJ 4th Place – 24 blankets
Little Mews Rescue Oxford NY 4th Place – 24 blankets
Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary Newcastle OK 4th Place – 24 blankets
Molly’s Adopt A Sailor Portland OR 4th Place – 24 blankets
Orange County Cavy Haven Garden Grove CA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Port Townsend Lighthouse Lions Club Port Townsend WA 4th Place – 24 blankets
Save the Chimps Ft pierce FL 4th Place – 24 blankets
Soldier’s Angels San Antonio TX 4th Place – 24 blankets
St. John’s Lutheran school and church Milwaukee WI 4th Place – 24 blankets
The Lucky Dog Project Mundelein IL 4th Place – 24 blankets
No Boundaries International    Edmond OK    4th Place – 24 blankets
Vettes to Vets    Middleton    Massachusetts    4th Place – 24 blankets
Camp Korey    Carnation    WA    4th Place – 24 blankets
Orphan Resources International    Ephrata    PA    4th Place – 24 blankets
Erica Rae’s Kids Inc.    Aurora    CO    4th Place – 24 blankets
Bibles & Blankets    Houston    TX    4th Place – 24 blankets
The PourHouse, Inc.    Indianapolis    IN    4th Place – 24 blankets

As we contact the other winning organizations we will post them! Thanks again to everyone that entered a non-profit organization.

January 9, 2012   2 Comments

Top 5 Gift Items Your Girlfriend is Happy to Have

Women know a lot about gift giving themselves, and so as a guy, you want to make sure that you are pleasing her with the right gifts. Of course, your girl would be kind enough to appreciate your efforts but she might not be impressed if the gift didn‘t speak to her needs. Ideally you could ask her and she would reveal to you what she had been secretly hoping for, but that takes away the excitement of bringing her surprises, doesn’t it? Luckily, learning about what women want is not all that hard. Presenting your girlfriend with either of the following 5 special gift items will make you special to her as well.

Women are always ready for a new handbag or purse. That’s something as essential as a wallet for men only that men hide wallets in their pockets while women use their handbags or purses to show off who they are. Almost like making a fashion statement, but your girlfriend surely can find the right occasions to make known her latest gift from you. Browse through a wide selection of handbags and purses here. Pick up something you like and don’t worry about what’s the right style, because she’ll make it a fitting use somewhere some way.

Women seem to be very artistic in home decoration, and these artful candle lamps and lanterns no doubt will stimulate your girlfriend’s artistic desire and may just satisfy her home decor taste. If you wish to create something romantic for the two of you, the atmosphere out of a candle lit environment featuring beautifully designed candle lamps and lanterns will deliver you just that. Sensing the scent of candle is definitely a lady thing, and your lady will be more amazed if you can smell the same scent.

Buying her a dress would be an intimate thing to do and no guys should hesitate to take the action. A dress for gift doesn’t have to be luxury. It’s not about what you got but rather what you did. The most important thing is whether you have the desire to dress her up. Knowing how it would make you feel when you see your girlfriend wear the dress you bought for her, take a look at these women dresses. If you like something on a model in the pictures, you’ll like it on your girlfriend too.

Does your girlfriend like to cuddle up? Well, no reason why she doesn’t like to nestle or snuggle if she hasn’t forgotten her cuddly teddy bear back when she was a little girl? You can help keep her dream alive with these decorative pillows and cushions. Bring such a gift to her and you are also making sure that you will be the one next to her whom she will lean on while holding a soft pillow in her arms.

At last, nothing will make her feel more special than presenting to her a piece of jewelry. While choosing rings, necklaces, or earrings can be quite challenging, picking a bracelet is mostly easier to do. She’ll have a more casual attitude towards bracelets than other jewelry, and trying on a bracelet often doesn’t cause much unease either. Check out these bracelets, and make her happy and yourself proud.

January 9, 2012   No Comments

Small Business Website Tips

As a small business you are catering to a niche market in your area. Whether you’re selling plastic bags or vacuum cleaners, there is one thing that your business needs: customers. Customers can be the reason that your business succeeds or fails. But if you don’t have any customers, you will fall into the later. Getting exposure for your small business is a necessity. Exposure and promotion doesn’t have to involve hiring a PR company or getting TV ads. There are several things that you can do on your own to start generating leads online. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Google Places
The first thing that you need to do to market your small business in your location is to get a Google Places account. Google Places is a great way to establish your business in your local area because it allows you to list your phone number, address, website and products for local searches. Google Places also gives you a PR 8 backlink, which is great for search engine optimization. Once you have registered for a Google Places account, you will have to verify your address through a post card.

Local Searches
Optimize your website for local searches. Local search optimization is much different than online optimization. Your business is going to focus on a small niche of the online market. This makes it easier to get ranked for searches in your area. Make sure that your keywords are optimized for local searches. For instance, if you are a Chicago plumber, make sure that “Chicago plumber,” “Chicago plumbing” and other variations of this are present on your website.

Use Social Networking Site
Social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin have gained a lot of traction online over the last couple of years. If you do not have a Facebook or Linkedin account, sign up for one immediately. You can post pictures of your business and staff on the accounts and also offer tips to your potential clients. Linkedin is great because you can get connected with other businesses in your area. This works well with lead generation and referrals.

Update Your Website Regularly
Updating your website keeps it fresh in the search results pages. Make sure that you are frequently updating with promotions and tips for your customers so the search engines keep you ranked at the top. This will also help with getting subscribers to your site. Consider updating the template every year or so to keep the design fresh. There is nothing more unappealing than a stale website for any business.

Organize Your Website
Keep your website organized. Make it easy for a customer to get in touch with you. Implement an email form and keep the contact information current. The last thing that you want is for a customer to click the “Back” button because they couldn’t find any of your contact information. Make sure that your services information is clear and unambiguous so there is no confusion about what your small business actually does.

January 5, 2012   No Comments