Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The minimum that you need to stay in business today

Last night I went to a free small business marketing talk organised by ITEC, a not for profit small business training organisation that helps businesses learn and network in our region. These kinds of organisations get State and Federal funding and are worth seeking out wherever you are.

The guest speaker was Donna Hanson from Prime Solutions Training & Consulting and she was speaking about technology transitions. Had I come to this meeting two years ago when I returned from a long break raising children, I would have taken more notes, but she covered a number of the marketing tools that I have been checking out for our own Contact Centre business over this period. She's particularly good at nailing the practical basics and her video training materials are used by small business and corporates not keen to retrain their staff every time the version of Office in use changes.

At Well Done we handle support enquiries from the whole gamut of business, from start ups to corporate divisions, and based on some of the questions we field, I thought that Donna's checklist for the bare minimum you need to be taken seriously in business was fair enough.

The minimum you need came down to:

  1. Buy a domain name for your emails - free web mail doesn't look serious and professional and a domain is cheap enough to buy. You usually have the email URL and service thrown in and have the option of the web hosting;
  2. A landline with at least Voicemail;
  3. A mobile with Voicemail;
  4. Some serious accounting software - MYOB at least;
  5. Broadband internet, not dial up;
  6. A working printer with spare ink to hand!
  7. A website that is updated regularly.

Although people that are calling us are past the Voicemail fumble and want serious reception on tap, a surprising number still use gmail and hotmail addresses. Donna's view is that you can't be taken seriously in business without a domain name. Our IT engineer's view is more practical - these email services are free but unreliable. 

Their servers can go down, they are more subject to attack, and free webmail is not guaranteed to perform. Messages to web email accounts are far more likely to be overly sensitive to spam filters and messages won't always get through. Why pay us to answer your calls when you may never get the message? It's just not a good use of your time and money to leave this to chance.

Of course, we're talking about the bare minimum standard, and even if you do decide to outsource your reception, there are great differences in what you can hope to achieve with off the shelf call centre industry software and mass market message services and the proprietary technology in use at Well Done... but that's another story!

For more information
Donna has a newsletter with lots of tips that you can sign up for at this website. ITEC also has free online marketing courses for small business worth checking out here.

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