You MUST get your Business Online!
November 8, 1999
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Weekly Tip-Sheet for Small Business Web Masters
November 8, 1999 Issue #18
Mike Valentine, Editor,


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online at WebSite101 Reading List
PUBLISHERS NOTE: I'm reversing the order of the articles this
week. When Bob McElwain submitted his article this week, I
nearly deleted it instantly because it is in complete opposi-
tion to my own views. But I reconsidered and decided to write
a counterpoint to his article instead. See that counterpoint
in the place normally reserved for guest articles below. ;-)
Mike Banks Valentine (Thanks for the fuel for the fire Bob!)


By Bob McElwain

If you have a successful off-line business, but no web site
to support it, you have probably considered building one. Others
may even be chiding you because you haven't done so. Despite
what you may have heard or others tell you, there is only one
valid reason for building a web site and that is to increase
profits. To create a site simply to have one, to be able to add to the bottom of your stationery and business cards has
a grand potential for disaster.

I know of two men into negotiations. $500/hour types.
Successful by any definition you care to apply. They decided
they needed a web presence. Well, they have one now. And they
have plastered every place they can find to put it.

One page contains dynamite links, but they are not annotated,
so most visitors won't know where they lead. Another page
contains an excellent article; others were planned but never
finished. The home page is a disaster; it lacks any kind of
impact. The site is static; there have been no changes in many
months. Email is not answered.

These men are not only kidding themselves about having a web
presence, they are literally killing off potential business.
Clearly they know nothing of the Web. The catch is some of their
potential clients do. If one such person stumbles onto this
site, these fellows will be totally written off. The same will
happen if someone types in the URL from one of their embossed
business cards.

Okay, you say, but I would take a better approach. Even so,
you can not improve your off-line business with a web site unless
it adds to profits. No matter how beautiful the art work, how
great the content, the site will be useless unless its purpose is
to expand your business. Until you can find a way to profit from
a site, don't even think of putting one up.

Building and maintaining a good site is a lot of work and
takes a lot of time. And anything less than good will hurt you,
instead of helping. So if you can afford the time, without
hurting your business, or can afford to hire someone to build and
maintain it, then a web site is a possibility.

But it is only a possibility. If you want a site because
others have one or to have a Web presence, then forget it. Right
out of the chute your site must be clearly defined and focused on
increasing profits.

If you are not clear on this point, use your favorite search
engine to find businesses similar to yours. You will likely find
some sites that are not making an extra dime. When you find one
that look profitable, consider how you might apply what they are
doing to a site of your own.

This must be the focus of your thinking. If you decide a web
site can bring more profit, over and above costs in dollars
and/or time, go for it. Otherwise leave it to others to waste
their time and money foolishly.

Bob helps webmasters grow their sites by showing them how to
work smarter for more fun and profit with less effort. He
has been marketing on the Web since 1993. Visit his newest
site: <http://SiteTipsAndTricks.Com>. Subcribe to STAT News:
mailto:STAT@OakNetPub.Com with SUBSCRIBE as the message.


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- - - - - - HOT TIP! - - - - - -


You MUST Expand to the Web!
by Mike Banks Valentine

Many web developers have developed a rather haughty attitude
toward who should be and who shouldn't be online. I believe this
stems from the frustration encountered in explaining to those
clients new to the web, that they must take very seriously the
responsibility of being online. That responsibility includes:

1) You MUST answer all e-mail within 24 hours and preferably
sooner. Web savvy customers want response almost immediately!
2) You MUST keep your site information current and update often!
There is no excuse for stale, inaccurate information online!
3) You MUST make a solid and continuing commitment to your site
and assign the tasks involved to an employee or commit to
spending the necessary time yourself!

Just as we have gone from "Do you have a fax machine?" to "What
is your fax number?", so too are we moving rapidly away from "Do
you have a web site?" toward "What is your web address?". How is
it that we accept the need for the fax machine, the copy machine,
the phone and the computer, but not a web site?

I like to compare the argument to the emerging days of that
new-fangled invention, the telephone. I can see business owners
in the first half of the century grumbling that they don't need
a telephone because their customers have to come in to buy stuff
anyway. "Why would they want to ring me up and talk to me from a
distance on that contraption? I can't afford to have it anyway!
Who will answer the thing when I have customers in the store?
What if it breaks down - who will fix it? What if I can't get
the phone when it rings because I'm occupied with work?"

I know an attorney with a quarter-page display ad in the yellow
pages. She pays $1,000 a month for that privilege. She has one
employee who answers the phone, takes messages and screens calls
for her. We've discussed doing a web site for her business and
she is reluctant to make that move because it means she has to
answer e-mails and keep the site maintained. I just don't see
the difference in having the employee answer the phone and
answering e-mail, maintaining client files and maintaining the
web site!

Those small businesses that post ANY kind of web sites
and DON'T maintain them and DON'T answer their e-mail are
foolish and it WILL hurt their business just like ignoring
phone calls and doing without an answering machine will hurt
their business. But inattention to business will destroy any
entrepreneur, no matter what else they do. The web presence
will become as common and as expected as a telephone to small

Having a professional look with interactive pages and fancy
graphics are bonuses, not requirements. What IS required is
that the web site be maintained and that e-mails are treated
as just as important as phone calls. Don't get a phone if you
don't intend to answer it. Don't provide an e-mail link if
you don't intend to respond to e-mails. DON'T have a web site
if you don't intend to keep it current and aren't prepared to
provide the utility your customers demand.

It won't be long before every business will be expected to be
online, just as they are expected to have a telephone and a fax
and an answering machine. Size will always determine resource
allocation. Hire a professional if you can, but get online now!

Mike Banks Valentine is a self-employed entrepreneur online.
WebSite101 a small business tutorial
teaching the basic techniques of growing your company online.
Get list of articles at
Mike champions the cause of the true small business online.
<a href=""></a>


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Copyright 1999 Mike Valentine

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