The Shocking Truth About How To Start An Internet Business - Part 4Finding People
As your business grows, so does your need for support staff. Whether that's professional project management, accounting, call center or distribution support, these new employees should align with your core business values and objectives.
Before you recruit employees, define your business vision and mission. Identify your ideal business culture. Do you support an open-door policy or a more formal structure? Do you want a casual atmosphere or conservative team? Are you looking for progressive or diversified employees? Hire right the first time to ensure long-term loyalty and minimal turn-over.
When you're first starting out, it's more financially feasible to outsource work. For instance web and graphic design, programming and IT, copy writing, legal and accounting/CPA/payroll are common services businesses outsource both at the outset and into establishment. Outsourcing eliminates payroll, annual salary increase, unemployment, insurance and retirement benefit, equipment and space expenses while offering improved experience and expertise. You gain the advantage of using services without a costly long-term commitment should your business slow.
Other alternatives include temporary staffing centers or employee leasing. Cash-strapped start-ups can even hiring paid or unpaid interns. Temporary staffing gives you immediate access, experienced personnel, lower training requirements and overtime fees plus reduced turnover. When your needs extend beyond six months, hire your new temp as a permanent employee, or recruit a long-term, permanent candidate.
When its in your best interest to expand your team, talk with friends, professional associates, customers, vendors, colleagues and others in your personal and professional network to get recommendations. You can also contact college, trade, vocational or high school placement offices and the local employment agency to find candidates. Trade or industry publications offer targeted advertising, while online job websites and newspaper advertisements are a more traditional and broad-reaching option.
Once you have a loyal and established employee base, save money on recruiting by implementing an employee referral program. These programs give employees cash bonuses for referrals resulting in a hire. You should also establish a competitive employee retention plan to sustain qualified workers, keep your recruiting expenses low and productivity high.
Planning and Building Your Online Storefront
Organization is key to making sales and offering a pleasant shopping experience. Your customer is busy and wants to accomplish tasks quickly with minimal frustration. They also want to find a clean and pleasing atmosphere, layout and design. Once you intrigue your visitor with your main landing page, your goal is to keep them there with simple navigation and fast check-out.
Jacob Nielsen, Ph.D., a leading website usability authority, User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Group, explains: "The first law of e-commerce is that if users cannot find the product, they cannot buy it either." Your website is basically just an electronic catalog with a bit more technology. Use design, copy, multimedia and photographs that inform your visitor and help them buy your products. In studies, researchers found that nearly half of all sales are lost because visitors simply cannot use the site. Multiply this by the repeat business lost from the same customers and your numbers grow exponentially.
While many businesses strive to be unique, websites should use the standard navigation structure and labels of major brands. Pioneering Internet firms like Amazon have set the standard in customers' minds, making it intuitive to visit links like:
* Your Account
Before contacting a website designer, analyze your products and audience carefully. Outline your navigation structure ensuring it takes few clicks to reach your intended objective - a sale. Know the expectations and experience level of your user. For instance, teenagers will be more fluent with computers and the Internet in general, though they may also be less sophisticated in reading or research strategies and have a lower patience threshold. They'll further need clever graphics and innovations to keep their interest.
Jacob Nielsen offers ten important website usability guidelines. These are:
Make the Site's Purpose Clear: Explain Who You Are and What You Do
1. Include a One-Sentence Tagline
2. Write a Window Title with Good Visibility in Search Engines and Bookmark Lists
3. Group all Corporate Information in One Distinct Area
Help Users Find What They Need
4. Emphasize the Site's Top High-Priority Tasks
5. Include a Search Input Box
Reveal Site Content
6. Show Examples of Real Site Content
7. Begin Link Names with the Most Important Keyword
8. Offer Easy Access to Recent Homepage Features
Use Visual Design to Enhance, not Define, Interaction Design
9. Don't Over-Format Critical Content, Such as Navigation Areas
10. Use Meaningful Graphics
Send your planned navigation outline to your website designer. Then, once your website's developed, gather a test group of about 10 people. Let each person run through various tasks on your website without offering help or guidance. Take notes on areas of confusion and make adjustments. If you have heavy traffic, phase in changes gradually to minimize confusion. We've all gone to the grocery store right after a reorganization, only to become even more frustrated when we can't locate the Lays or light bulbs. People get used to the way things are, good or bad.
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