Recently, businesses and organizations in the Phoenix area were subjected to a series of frivolous lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These were frivolous in the sense that it someone simply drove around measuring signs or browsed the Internet looking for any minor item they could. No formal complaints were ever filed and no one was given the opportunity to remedy the situation, they were just given a dollar figure to settle with and they'd be left alone. Unfortunately, many businesses paid up. Thankfully, the Arizona Legislature stepped in and put a stop to this.
Recently, I attended a Cyber-Security Summit organized by the Arizona Technology Council. After attending many of these events in the past few years and through conversations at the many events I’ve attended, it’s clear this is still an important topic of education for small businesses. I’ll try to cover, not just the reasons for concern (hopefully without scaring anyone into giving up their smart phone entirely), but also some tips on how to prepare your small business for the ever-changing cyber-security threats.
When building an ecommerce site, there's a lot of nuances that need to be taken into account, from what to charge for shipping (and how to determine the fees you pass on to the customer) to charging for sales tax. Collection of sales tax is one item that can't be ignored - unless you're happy to pay large sums in monetary penalties because you didn't collect and/or pay enough. This week, we'll cover a bit about sales tax considerations when launching an Arizona-based ecommerce business.
In this installment, I’m going to talk about something that comes up on many projects: the pivot. Every project starts out with one idea that is believed to be set in stone, but what inevitably happens is a customer starts asking for something no one ever conceived (or that was downplayed for one reason or another). For Compliance Clinic, that was data storage.
Security was a hot topic in 2016 (and 2015 and, to some extent, 2014), but it seems that we see news of a data breach almost daily. Consumers are often more savvy (or at least more paranoid) when it comes to online purchases. Attacks on small businesses are increasing because hackers know these are the weakest links. Here are a few tips to make sure you aren't their next victim.
Ecommerce was big this year, with sales reach $3.45 billion dollars (Fortune). If you’re planning to sell online and get a piece of the pie for next year, you should start your planning now. Keep reading for some more information about what your site needs to have to survive in 2017.
When it comes to a digital presence, you want to look good and your first instinct is to find a great Web designer. After all, you're not writing software, so why would you want a developer? As I network with other businesses, I find they tend to fall into two camps: they either believe Web designers are the same as Web developers or they think a Web developer can only write code and can't create a Web site. Well, I'm here to set the record straight.
By far the most common oversight by clients (and often by inexperienced developers) is the long-term solution. We start projects so they can be finished, so that means that the project has to “live” somewhere for the foreseeable future, right? Most clients gloss over this need assuming the developer will take care of it. Other times, they wait until the day before the launch to find out the Developer didn’t plan. In the worst cases, the client has no idea where their digital product lives and the developer goes AWOL. It’s important to be a part of this planning from the beginning.
As you’ve already seen, I’m building more than just a consulting business and I’ve mentioned a few times that marketing a product is very different from marketing services. Since July, I’ve been working on creating a new digital product and there’s been a lot of lessons along the way. Here’s a few tips about leveraging the network you’ve built for more than just referrals.
As a small business, it can seem like a monumental task to get noticed on the Web. You're competing against huge, multi-national companies with marketing budgets that dwarf your gross revenue. There are options, though, and it's important to find ways to get noticed locally. Market smarter, not harder.
Marketing, whether it's a digital product, professional services, or a non-profit movement, is necessary and it requires attention. A marketing strategy, much like a new digital product, requires ongoing maintenance, planning, and adjustments. Here are a few ways to keep your marketing on track.
Up until now in this series, we’ve primarily talked about what goes into building the application. There’s more to building a new online service than creating the functional pieces of the platform. As with everything, you must market it. In the beginning, this doesn't have to be perfect or fancy - it just needs to provide information consistent with the product itself.
When it comes to product development, whether it's digital or not, there's an on-going conversation between the person behind the actual production and the person guiding the process. This is important because it helps to clarify the vision, validate the work as part of the creation process, and ensure everything stays on track. Unfortunately, it's inevitable that somewhere along the line, a request will be made that impacts the original scope. This is called "scope creep" and it needs to be managed carefully.
When it comes to doing business, there are a ton of tools to help get the job done. And it seems like every week there’s something new trying to wiggle it’s way into my workflow. Some of them make the cut and others get kicked to the curb. Here’s the tools I use most (meaning, daily) to help me do, create, and manage my business and products.
Next month, we’ll be covering this topic with more specific details, but I thought it important to provide a broader overview. When you create new online services, you are undergoing digital product development. Like traditional product development which results in a tangible item that you can sell, it’s a process and requires time and patience. But the way you market a digital product differs significantly from marketing traditional products.
This month, we’re going to talk about how we validate some of what we did in last month’s exercise. In last month’s development diary, we talked about determine what information needed to be stored. You might think we found it all, but this is where changes tend to happen. Now, we’re going to dig into more about the process.
With the myriad of blogs that I’ve written for the site, I sometimes struggle with consistent topics. By that, I mean I’m a developer, but many blogs blur the line between product development, marketing, Web design, and networking. This can lead to confusion about exactly what we do, which has brought me to this: consistency is key.
Marketing has taken on a new level of complexity these days. Between social media, SEO, and email, we often forget that it's not always about selling (at least not constantly). Many of us, myself included, market during face-to-face opportunities. It's important to not let those connections fall through the cracks. We never know where that next big project is going to come from.