Tips & Tricks

Small Business Measurements

Small Business GoalsIt is getting close to the New Year. And in business, the New Year is the perfect time to examine any goals and adjust or create new, more achievable results. I always try to use this time to see where I am, what I’m doing right, and what I should be doing differently.

For years in my business, I tried to measure my goals based upon lofty data provided by industry standards. According to the norm, my profit margin should be over 15% of my sales. Or my advertising budget should be at least 4% of my sales. I had lots of ways to measure my business and my QuickBooks could generate enough more to dazzle a bean counter but only a few made sense to me and most did not.

Finally I learned a hard lesson. I was tracking the profit of my business based upon what my bookkeeper and account were telling me. But, even though I was profitable, I had less and less money. I discovered that I was using numbers that meant nothing to me. Out of frustration, I came up with what is called “Key Performance Indicators”(1) and put them in my quarterly “Report Card”.

My report card was not designed to impress anyone. No language of assets or P&L or debits. No big list of items. I demanded of my bookkeeper and accountant that they generate a one page report card a few rows of quarterly results with 2 years of history. They squawked and told me how my numbers were not giving me the entire story. But since it is my business and they worked for me (I had to gently remind them of that), they eventually agreed that it might be feasible to give me numbers that I understood rather than ones in their jargon.

I don’t need to know what I spend for office supplies or entertainment. I don’t need to know what percentage of my sales were for small insignificant categories. I didn’t need to know what journal entry offset which sale. Those did not tell me how my business is doing. My bookkeeper was used to generating those and my CPA loved to look at them for taxes.

But for my small business? Nope! I wanted to know on a quarterly basis how much of my business sales were from design work, hosting, and then “other” for everything else. I wanted to know how much of my expenses was for hosting costs and “other”. I wanted to know how many clients I have total. And how much money clients owed me for more than 30 days past due. That is my “report card”. It has my “Key Performance Indicators” and nothing else.

With those numbers, I can run my business without getting bogged down trying to figure out why my office supplies is $15 last quarter and $300 this quarter. If it matters, I can delve into the “other” category. But generally it isn’t significant enough to matter.

If you feel guilty that you are not sure what to do with all the yearly reports your accountant generates for you, perhaps it is time for you to demand a regular “report card”. You should know what numbers are meaningful for you in your business. When you see that those numbers are not indicating what you think your business is doing, you can spend some time drilling down from there. But without the ability to comprehend what your numbers mean, or if you are overwhelmed with lines and lines of numbers, you won’t have the time to take a quick look through your numbers to make sure you are on the right path. And you won’t be confident that you can get back to work to make those numbers look even better in the future. Don’t be afraid to take control of your financial records.


(1) I was reminded of the term “Key Performance Indicators” when viewing this Youtube video on goals: “LLWA – Lasley Live Website Analysis


A Web Design Business Rule Of Thumb

I was recently asked by an aspiring web designer how many customers he would need in order to make it in the business. An interesting variation on the question of how much money one should make in order to be successful.

Of course the how much money question is very hard to pinpoint. It depends on where your business is, what type(s) of services you will sell, what expenses you have, and numerous other variables.

But this question had an interesting twist. The reason that I was intrigued by the question is because I’ve recently started using my customer count as a rough indicator of how I’m doing. Naturally it isn’t a substitute for a good set of books to track the business. But my number of customers is an easy rule of thumb for me to track my success rate.

I will use a reasonable number to show how it works. If I assume my average customer will spend $1000 per year and I need $100,000 per year to pay all my expenses including my own salary and taxes, I know I need around 100 steady customers.

Once I get to that level, I know I’m doing alright. If I start losing customers, I know I need to tighten my belt while chasing up some more customers.

Of course I’ve been in this business for a long time so it is easier for me to roughly come up with an average. But as you build a steady customer base, you should be able to start putting together your own rule of thumb.

Have you worked out a similar formula to share? Or questions or ideas? Use the below comments section and tell me.

Basic Points To Keep In Mind While Designing A Website

Here is an article from a guest author with some good tips to watch for in designing a website. I hope you enjoy it.
— Jim Smith

By Michael Greaves

With the increase in competition, more and more businesses are directing their way to the web in order to reach their target market more quickly and efficiently. To achieve this target, it is very important to have a good and effective website, enough capable of holding the existing, as well as potential customers on the site for a longer period of time. Only an attractive, easy to use and a well-functioning website can get maximum traffic and contribute towards the success of the business eventually.

A good web designer is the one who understands the significance of developing and creating an effective web design. It should be easy to use and able to present the relevant information in an organized and unique manner. There are certain things web design Swansea developer keeps in mind while developing a website plan. We apply our skills and strategies to present the information in a unique way on the site. In this article we’ll discuss about certain basic points that one should keep in mind while planning a website.

Points To Consider When Designing A Website

Width: Since every browsing platform is not the same, it is very important to plan the right width of a website. The most preferable screen resolution is 1024px. However, you can indent or descent as per your convenience, but make sure the screen resolution is not wider than 960px. To get the correct idea about the width and screen resolution you can even check out some templates available on various web designing websites.

Color Scheme: Colors play a major role in every kind of designing and hence must be chosen with proper consideration. Make sure the color scheme of the website goes along the theme and purpose of the business. For instance: Using a multicolored website for an NGO (non-governmental organization) firm associated with handicap will not be at all suitable. Thus, it is very crucial to choose a color scheme that fits perfectly with the purpose of the website.

Header and Footer: The first thing that a visitor notices in website is the top most section of the page, also known as header. Thus, it should be well balanced and able to present the purpose of the website in simple and subtle words. On the other hand, the footer is the bottom most sector of the webpage. It should be well organized with only relevant links such as career, blog, contact us, social icons etc.

Content: Content of the website includes images, videos and text. In an effectively planned web design Swansea makes sure the content is organized and synchronized in a way that the visitors do not get confused while browsing through the pages. Moreover, the content should be planned in a way that it is able to hold the interest of the visitors for a long period of time.

Font: It is advisable to choose the font color, size and style that are easily readable and understandable. Most preferred font styles are Arial, Times new roman, as these provide more clarity and visibility.

Article author, MikeMike is a freelance writer who writes on different topics such as web design, marketing and social media. He holds bachelor’s degree in electronics. He has published more than 500 articles about various topics, including role of guest blogs and social media role in daily life. His famous articles includes article on ecommerce web designers uk. He loves to travel and make new friends.

Will Ads Make a Profit For Your Client?

If you haven’t already been asked, eventually a client will ask about putting Google AdSense ads or other ads to offset the cost of hosting, and depending on which fantasy articles your client has read, they may even assume they can easily get a steady flood of income.

First, contrary to claims from some get-rich-quick schemes, it is a lot of work and takes a lot of time.

Secondly, presumably your client has a website to draw eyeballs to their site… not to entice them to click away to a competitor’s website. They want to sell their products or services and would prefer to keep those customers for themselves instead of sending them away. Trying to benefit from both of these  conflicting goals will likely get them little or nothing.

I’ve yet to find a client with a special case in which both goals can work side-by-side, but there may be one somewhere. But most likely you will be safe to discourage it when a client asks.

On the other hand, this website is an informational site in which it doesn’t matter if a visitor clicks an ad block and goes somewhere else. I don’t have a strong goal of selling you a product or service. It is just my way of giving back and the few bucks I get from the ads is not a lucrative way to make a pile of money.

So if a client asks you about using ads to help support their site, remind them what their goal is. And ask if they really want you to work to get rid if traffic that they likely worked hard to attract!

Here are some other thoughts to mention to your clients on this topic:

• They need a high traffic website in order to get enough clicks to make it worth while.

• They will need a lot of content (articles) to attract search engines which will hopefully attract people who will click their ads.

• They need to add new articles weekly or, at the least, monthly to keep the search engines coming back for more.

• An ad-focused website must have keywords that advertisers are spending advertising dollars on. A site promoting free plans to build a doghouse (for example) may get a lot of traffic but few companies selling doghouse plans will want to advertise on it.

So if a client asks you about generating money with web ads, ask some questions and make sure they aren’t just believing some overblown fantasy story they read on the internet.

Printing Money

Have you tried to print money? I don’t mean illegally but just to put a mock-up on a web site for a client. You need a criminal mind to do so. If you try to print the new currency on a copier or a printer, or even edit it through a graphic design program, you will get an error message that will block your attempts. The new ones are programmed to block your efforts. I had a client who wanted a graphic of a fifty dollar bill on his web site. I went to the Government site and found the stipulations on what can be used. There are size limitations to make sure there are no mixups. Continue reading

Presenting a Contract To Your Client

I had a fellow web designer ask me how to present a contract to a client during the initial meeting, “while the iron is hot”. Here’s how to do so and when it is appropriate. While it is true that some jobs need a lot of planning and thinking to come up with a price, others (at least for me), are somewhat standardized in that they want (for example) a ten page static brochure-type web site. I know that it will take me around “X hours” to take care of that. Continue reading