5 Tips on Electronic Contracts
Get these tips from SCORE on whether or not your small business is ready to make agreements electronically
- Take note: federal law now makes electronic contracts and electronic signatures as legal and enforceable as those on paper.
- Consider what advantages e-contracts might have for your business. Some companies will be able to conduct their business entirely on line, often with great savings.
- Be aware that if you start using e-contracts, you have to let customers know whether paper contracts are available and what fees might apply for the paper agreements.
- Proceed with caution. The law does not define what an electronic signature is, and e-signature technology is still evolving.
- Visit these Web sites for more information: the American Bar Association , or www.nolo.com, a site that specializes in legal issues.
5 Tips for Ensuring Your Customers’ Privacy
Check out these tips from SCORE on safeguarding the privacy of your online customers
- Understand that protecting customers’ privacy is essential to maintaining and increasing sales and profits online.
- Put top-notch security systems in place to make sure that customer data is not lost, misused, altered or stolen.
- Require that third parties with whom you deal provide similar data security.
- Don’t provide personal information collected from customers to third parties unless you have explicit permission from the customers to do so.
5 Tips for Improving Your Web Site
Check out these tips from SCORE on bettering your small business’s online presence
- Visit the sites of other companies to find out what you like and dislike. Do some sites seem to “work” while others don’t?
- Decide what objectives you want your site to meet. Do you want it to be fun, funny, educational, “cool,” or all of those things?
- Consider your corporate culture and your company image. Your site should support both.
- Design or re-design the site to meet your objectives. Unless you have a real expert on staff, hire a consulting firm to do the job.
- Get feedback. Ask customers how your site can be made more useful to them, and keep making improvements.
5 Tips for Marketing Your Web Site
Check out these tips from SCORE on marketing your small business online
- Think strategically. Your Web site should be a part of your overall marketing plan.
- Choose a Web site address (URL) that’s intuitive and easy to remember. Your company’s name (if it’s short) or the name of your main product might work well.
- Put your Web address on all your printed material, including business cards, letterhead, press releases and invoices. Include it in all your advertising.
- Don’t forget offline media and traditional publicity techniques. Send news releases promoting your site to newspapers, broadcasters, and magazines.
- Speak at conferences and trade shows, and write informative articles for trade publications. When you do, mention your Web address.
5 Tips for Getting Noticed Online
It’s not enough to just have a Web site, you need to make sure your customers can find it—and use it. Get these tips from SCORE on marketing your small business online.
- Get your Web site listed on major search engines, such as Google or Yahoo! Two sites, Search Engine Watch at www.searchenginewatch.com and the Web Marketing Info Center at www.wilsonweb.com/webmarket, offer guidance.
- Join a “banner exchange,” and trade advertising banners with other Web sites. Look under “banner exchange” on search engines.
- Visit sites similar to or related to yours and offer to exchange links with them.
- Write useful articles for other sites and include your Web address.
- Get more online marketing help from such sites as www.zdnet.com/eweek/, workz.com and www.bcentral.com.
5 Tips on How to Get Closer to Customers With Technology
Attracting customers to your small business is no easy task. Get some tips from SCORE on how to succeed using technology
- Use your Web site to build solid, trusting relationships with customers. Trust helps bring customers back.
- Enhance communication with customers. Some small business CEOs put their email address on the company Web site so customers can contact them directly.
- Don’t forget the basics: Post your company’s address and phone number on your Web site.
- Remember that the Internet is educating your customers and making them smarter buyers. Keep pace with their knowledge.
- Respond to emails promptly.
5 Tips for Managing Virtual Relationships
Methods of communicating in business have changed over the years. Get a few tips from SCORE on managing successful virtual relationships with your small business customers.
- Make sure you’re up to speed. Good hardware, software and training are the tools you need to make virtual relationships work.
- Structure your workday so information can be easily shared, discussed and exchanged.
- Don’t let the technology get in the way. If email technology isn’t working, quickly default to the phone or a letter.
- Remember, people do business with people─not machines. Always keep up with your networking contacts.
- You’ll need another set of skills when you use nontraditional means to communicate: writing must be concise and thoughts must be closely linked.
5 Tips on Meeting the Demand for Speed
Get these tips from SCORE to help you revamp your small business’s culture to respond to the speed of today’s business climate.
- Realize that the swiftest competitor, not necessarily the smartest, is often the winner in today’s marketplace. Speed is increasingly of the essence, no matter what business you are in.
- Respond to sales leads quickly. One small business requires staff members to follow up within the hour, by email, fax or phone.
- Get comfortable with rapid, strategic decision-making. Five-year planning horizons are out the window.
- Compress your timetables. One Internet start-up rolled out its expansion efforts in a reduced-time span of 45 days instead of the originally planned year, beating out competitors.
- Make speed a part of your corporate culture. Reward employees’ swiftness with stock options, bonuses or other perks.
5 Tips on Running a Web Site
Thinking of building a Web site? Focus your efforts on the basics to attract customers.
- Find ways to attract customers. Link up with a variety of search engines so that when potential customers are searching for your product, they’ll find your company listed.
- Make it easy for people to “navigate” your site. Hire a good Web site designer.
- Help customers trust you. Provide information on the company’s history, mission, and values.
- Enable customers to get in touch with you easily—via email, phone and regular mail—and respond promptly.
- Provide top customer service along with the speed and good prices that technology offers. Think about how you will keep customers coming back.
5 Tips for Taking Your Small Business Online
Need a web presence for your small business? Check out these five tips from SCORE to help you get started
- Your product line should be able to be delivered economically and conveniently through the mail or over the Internet.
- The Web allows you to market to customers outside your geographical location. Your product should appeal to people nation-or-continent-wide.
- Compare new “technology” costs to current bricks and mortar costs, e.g.: rent, labor, inventory and printing costs.
- Realize that the World Wide Web levels the playing ground—you can look like a big company with a great Web site.
- Draw visitors to your site cheaply. Establish and grow alliances that will hotlink to your site for free.
5 Tips to See If Your Web Site Is Up to Snuff
Is your web site doing what you need it to do? Get these quick tips from SCORE to see if your web presence is helping or hurting your small business.
- Simple, clear and fast—think of your homepage as a billboard. Tell them exactly what they need to know up front.
- Leave plenty of white space around text. A simple font on a light background works best. Separate wide blocks of text into columns.
- Sub-headings make for quick reading. Make sure pages are easily skimmed.
- Let your best customers sing your praises. Display their testimonials prominently on your site.
- After each update, click through your entire site. Mistakes or broken links will only send visitors away.
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Copyright 2005, SCORE Association