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What you need to know for your very small business
Fun and creativity are neighbors. If you don't have fun, it's hard to be creative.
MY WEBSITE WAS ORANGE
I considered my first website to be successful. It was brown and grey, with pictures of unhappy and stressed people. It had about ten pages of information for potential clients. I got one or two new clients a month, wanting me to solve a significant IRS problem. Although that’s not a lot of individuals, the fees from a tax resolution client can be significant.
I was bored one week, and I decided to have my website redesigned. The substantial amount of text that I had used on the original brown and grey site remained EXACTLY the same. Not a single word changed. What changed was the color and design. It was now white and a strong orange-red with a little black here and there.
The new website attracted NOT A SINGLE NEW CLIENT. It was up for three years.
My position on Google remained the same. The changes were the design, the color and the omitted pictures of the stressed out people. As I said above, the text did not change, even by a comma.
There is hope. There is a marketing nerd in Boston who knows the answers. Nick Kolenda pours through hundreds of academic articles and translates them into the language that we speak! He makes sense, so if you want to get your marketing chops refined, a few hours at www.nickkolenda.com will polish you up. If I had known about Kolenda, I never would have used orange in my website, because my potential clients are already pretty frazzled when they are looking for someone to bail them out from tax problems. They want something calming, and orange ain’t it.
Learn the psychology of marketing and entrepreneurship. Get access to free articles & videos that can help boost your revenue.
WHAT SHOULD I PUT ON MY WEBSITE?
I’m a lawyer and not a website “expert”, but I have learned a bit of what works and what does not.
I first did a website about seven years ago. I worked for months writing “content” which at the time was the way that Google ranked the websites. I had about ten pages of explanations of various areas of tax law. It was good writing and accurate, which isn’t easy when you are trying to explain complex concepts in an understandable way.
Nobody looked at my gorgeous content.
I had software that measured what people looked at. They looked at About Us which laid out our biographies. They always read Success Stories, which was what I called our testimonials. Sometimes they looked at directions. That was it. No one looked at my Content.
People were measuring whether it was safe to walk in my door.
So your website should include:
•Your name, address and contact info such as phone, fax, and email address, and
•Your professional qualifications, and
•That is it.
You should also be sure that your website is written in words that your customers understand. I was talking to a friend about her website that she was in the process of writing. She performed a physical therapy service which had a special term within the physical therapy profession, but the rest of us were clueless about what she meant. It was actually a simple concept which was obviously useful and important. She has decided to name the concept in plain English.
In our next blog: The HUGE mistake I made with color on my website. And the blog after that – how I got to page one of Google.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW® FOR YOUR VERY SMALL BUSINESS Signup For A Free Excerpt Of Our “What You Need To Know” Newsletter TESTIMONIALS “I called the office of Martha Miller. I nervously told one of her assistants that I had not been paying income tax and wanted to make an appointment….I went in to…
Survival: Dr. Baliunas tells me how she and her family survived.
The Second World War displaced millions of people. My friend Gracie and her parents were some of these. Her father had been educated in Russia and so the Germans hunted him. The Germans forced Dr. Mrs. Baliunas to work in German field hospitals, so the Russians would kill her. Their home in Vilnius, Lithuania, changed hands between the armies, and on the third and last time that a conquering army entered Vilnius, Mr. Baliunas came in from the forest where he had been hiding and stole a truck. He put Dr. Baliunas and the toddler Gracie on the truck, and Dr. Baliunas drove Gracie and a truckful of refugees south to safety. Mr. Baliunas stayed behind. They would not see him for many months, when they were finally reunited in a Red Cross camp in Austria.
Unfortunately we are living in similar times, but this story is not about refugees but about the lessons in survival that we may take from them.
My family and I were at the Baliunas’ elegant house for Easter dinner, which is the important holiday of the year for a Lithuanian family. It was an honor to be invited on this particular day.
After dinner, Dr. Baliunas asked me to sit with her. She took my hand and looked into my eyes, and she said to me, “You will survive because of what it is here,” and then she tapped on her forehead.
I have found this to be true. Education is part of why I have survived well. Will and persistence also is a factor in survival, as is good health. But above all, day after day calmly and persistently facing the challenges of life is survival -- facing the challenges of wherever life may place us.
Survival is about DOING. Planning is also an element.
Dr. Baliunas became a prominent eye surgeon in Chicago. Mr. Baliunas was eventually the president of the large Lithuanian bank. Toddler Gracie became a dental surgeon and professor in New Jersey. Her brother Al, born in Austria, was a special prosecutor for the State of Illinois.
For the full story on this family and their trials on the way to success, see WhatYouNeedBiz.com, in the Blog section.
Did you know one brown envelope could help you save $600 or more in taxes every year?
Watch this 2 minute video from leading tax expert, Martha Miller, JD, founder of the "What You Need To Know" Newsletter for Small Business.
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EVERYBODY EATS HOT DOGS – Take a look at your market.
I went to law school with a guy named Victor. Victor had arrived at school in a private railroad car with his father’s valet to move him into the dorm. It was a little much for my white bread Midwestern classmates who thought maybe Victor was crazy, which he was not. He was just very rich.
I learned a great deal from Victor about business survival. You wouldn’t think that a rich kid would know about survival, but Victor did.
Victor’s grandfather had been one of the men to finance the DeBeers Diamond Company and Cecil Rhodes in South Africa and Rhodesia. Though the grandfather had already been very rich, this investment sealed the fortunes of the family. His grandfather became even richer and built a 100 room house in Haifa, then Palestine, overlooking the Mediterranean. Later Victor’s Hungarian mother inherited care of the house after her mother-in-law died. Her duty required her to walk around with a massive ring of keys. Victor said that the happiest day of her life was when that house burned down.
Victor’s father was English, and before the war they were living in Alexandria, Egypt, where Victor was born. His father was manufacturing the world’s first plastic. Victor’s first language was Arabic, learned from his nurse. Much later, after the winds of war had blown out of the world, Victor’s father, Nathan, decided for tax reasons to move to Canada. The grandfather advised Nathan “When you go to America, make hotdogs. In America everybody eats hot dogs.”
Victor told me this story more than fifty years ago. Being me, I tested the idea. As I looked around me, the hot dog theory was true. Products that were cheap and useful sold easily, like hot dogs. My dad sold the hot dog version of oil products. Everyone used oil products which weren’t expensive. (At the time, gas was 25 cents a gallon.) Moheiser’s, our local department store, sold the hot dog version of clothing. The A & P grocery not only sold hot dogs, but the hot dog class of groceries. In those days, we still ate food, not cuisine.
But I was a tax lawyer. How to apply the hot dog theory to tax law? What did people need that was in demand, and didn’t cost a lot? Tax returns. I was already a tax lawyer, so I made myself into everybody’s tax lawyer. I sent out direct mail letters to everyone within walking distance of my NYC office – 60,000 people. Not only did I have a talent for tax law, and a curiosity about people, but my use of tax law marketing fit the hot dog theory like a bun.
Over the years my practice changed. At first I had very few big ticket clients. Now I have several, but I still have about 300 clients who fit the hot dog model.
It takes a lot of skill and energy to maintain good service to so many people, but if a client dies, moves away, or changes to Turbo Tax, it is only a rainy afternoon. There are always hot dog model clients who need help. (And the Turbo Tax hot dog client will be back next year.)
Not everyone has a skill set suitable for hot dogs. I have one client who does the concrete contracting for high rises, building the foundation and the concrete superstructure upon which the walls of the high rise will be hung. Yes, he can pour a sidewalk, but that is not what he does and it would be silly and unprofitable to go after that business. Some people only sell flawless diamonds, but it might be right for you to consider whether or not there is a line of hot dogs to incorporate into your goods or services which may provide steady, on-going income, though maybe not a lot from a single source.
It’s there for your consideration: Everybody eats hot dogs.
What You Need To Know For Your Very Small Business
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