I’m starting to get more of an influx of people who are asking to work for and with my business. I believe the larger influx is because of an article my company was featured in. While I’m excited that my company is getting exposure, I’m not excited at all about any of the pitches I’ve received.
I could go on with this list but I’ll stop here. These are the 4 most basic things you should do before pitching to anyone’s business. It makes a business owner feel as if you care about their business. It also shows that you know how to research. You don’t have to necessarily know the most intricate details upfront, but you should point out at least one thing about the business itself. Telling me about your services and then just saying, “let’s talk”, makes me feel that our relationship will be all about you.
I’m a very new small business and right now I’m bootstrapping my business. I have more money going out than coming in at the moment. When I do start hiring I’m going to be extremely picky about who I hire.
I’m not hiring anyone who I feel displays that they just want money. I need people who want to learn and grow with me. I’m not partnering with anyone who just wants to add my company name to the bottom of their website. Nor will I allow anyone to work for me and run my business down to the ground for their lack of work effort. I think people do best when they are passionate about things. I need to see the passion for my mission in pitches before I even consider putting someone on my list for a callback.
My very first Job when I graduated College in 2002, was working for an outplacement firm. This firm helped clients who were laid off gather the tools to re-enter the workforce. So I spent a very large portion of my day editing and formatting resumes. I had to learn a few keyboard shortcuts. In the workplace you will find these shortcuts helpful if you find yourself using MS Word often.
CTRL+U = Underline your text (This shortcut can be used prior to typing the text or once you have typed the text you can highlight and use the shortcut)
CTRL+B = Bold your text (This shortcut can be used prior to typing the text or once you have typed the text you can highlight and use the shortcut)
CTRL+I = Italicize your text (This shortcut can be used prior to typing the text or once you have typed the text you can highlight and use the shortcut)
CTRL + C = Copy your text
CTRL+V = Paste your previously COPIED text
CTRL + A = Select All text
SHIFT+F3 = Turns your selected text into all CAPS
ATL + PrntScr = Take a screenshot of an image, page etc. The purpose of this shortcut is if you want to send someone a snapshot in another program, you have the ability to do so. After you take the snapshot you can do a CTRL + V to copy and paste)
Obviously there are a ton of questions you could ask. However, I wanted to include 4 very important ones that are rarely asked by newbies. Many newbies often go by the census. Meaning they go by what everyone else has told them. People will tell you things like, “it’s cheap”, it’s easy to use, and the most popular one,”i’ve never had a problem with it”. These are all good things to know.
However, neither of these things will help keep you safe. As I stated in my article, nothing is 100% safe. However, you should do everything you can to create a secure environment for both yourself and your visitors. When I self hosted a WordPress.org site during a class with Skillcrush, I used WP Engine. As they were recommended by Skillcrush. For me, they were a role model hosting service. In fact, working with them was part of my inspiration for this article.
Here are your top 4 questions:
Is Secure Socket Layer Certificate included in their package
If you are a newbie you are probably reading this like WTF is that! Here’s the thing, this feature is so important, that I will tell you not to sign up with any hosting company that makes you pay for it separately. As that means their priorities are completely out of order. Check out this article from Google where they talk about why they started to label any site that is not secure as unsafe. To skip right to the good parts of the Google article “HTTP” is not secure. “HTTPS” is.
If you are on an “HTTP” site someone can easily manipulate the data before it gets to you. Having an SSL Certificate encrypts the data, which makes it not so easy to manipulate. I say “not so easy” because again nothing is 100% safe. You just want to make sure you are not making things easy for hackers. As a user, I personally jump right off sites when I see “HTTP”. If you are a site that is selling something, I really don’t care if I can got to your site and get “HTTPS” on checkout. I’m not coming back if the rest of your site is “HTTP”. I want your entire site to say “HTTPS”.
Do they perform any security testing for new plugins or themes
Just because somebody created it and you’re allowed to install it, doesn’t mean it is safe! This should be a common thing for any Self Hosting Service that you utilize. Self Hosting allows for a lot of open source work to be done. When the term open source is used that means that anyone on the internet has access to it and can manipulate it whenever or however they want.
In simple terms that means any hacker can write code and put it in a plugin or a theme. Since you most likely have no way to confirm what is safe and what isn’t, you need to know someone is doing that for you.
How will they protect you if your site has been hacked
This is not just what’s written on the website. You should actually ask questions about this. Ensure that they can tell you about the steps they will take you through if you contact them and say you have been hacked. The conversation should start off with them telling you how they will verify you. This should include but is not limited to; how they verify you every time you sign into the portal, call in with a question, or how they verify you when using their online chat support.
So basically, you need to know if they are going to help you. Or if you are going to have to pay 30k to get your site back like this young lady. To which I sincerely appreciate her sharing her story. She shed light on so many things. Some things she mentioned about her hosting companies will shock and disturb you.
How great is their customer support
It’s nice that the site says 24/7 support, but you should know exactly what that entails. If you’re site is self hosted, that means you are always trying out a ton of new things. At least that’s why most people choose self hosting, as they want the flexibility to do whatever they want. You need to sign up with a self hosting company that doesn’t just say they have 24hr support, but actually does. As a newbie you need to know if you will be able to get someone on the phone when you call in. This should be in addition to the online chat support.
Please note that this article is not an advertisement for any particular service. This article is to get newbies to start thinking on their own feet. No matter what service you choose. Do your research. You can also check for local hosting companies in your city or state and possibly support a local small business if they are good.
People get so offended when they hear “WordPress” and “.com” in the same sentence. When you mention these two things together, you inherently become the dumbest person on earth (to them). If you think i’m being dramatic just go ahead and say WordPress.com in a crowded room. I dare ya!
Here’s the thing, both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are open source platforms. To keep things simple, open source means that anyone can contribute to building it. Even that hacker that probably wants to steal your data. The truth about the internet is that no one thing will keep you 100% safe.
As I type this, there is a hacker somewhere trying to find new ways to do awful things. However, you heighten the chances of being hacked when you don’t practice safe “interneting” (interneting, is not a real word, but it sounds nice).
Please take the time to read the WordPress.com plans page, the FAQ at the bottom is pretty helpful.
To make things easy, I copied and pasted 2 interesting FAQ’s below:
Can I install my own theme?
We don’t currently allow custom themes to be uploaded to WordPress.com. We do this to keep your site secure but all themes in our theme directory have been reviewed by our team and represent the highest quality. The business plan even supports unlimited premium theme access.
Can I upload my own plugins?
While uploading your own plugins is not available on WordPress.com, we include the most popular plugin functionality within our sites automatically. The premium and business plans even include their own set of plugins suites tailored just for them. Check out all included plugins.
AQ’s Corner site is currently being hosted by WordPress.com. I am taking advantage of the Business plan and I enjoy it. It works perfect for all of my needs. Whenever I need enhancements I can quickly enable them. I also have access to hundreds of different themes. When being hosted by WordPress.com doesn’t suit the needs of my business, i’ll transfer my account to a site that allows for self hosting.
However, i’ll be utilizing WP Engine or some other hosting service that is known for being secure, not just cheap. To be clear, we all want affordable, but if that is the main thing a web host is known for, you should find another one. WP Engine is known for their security, I learned about them while taking a WordPress Developer class with Skillcrush.
Even though WP Engine is a hosting service that allows you to control your own website, they also check plugins to ensure that they are safe. If you upload a plugin that is not allowed, it will not be enabled (I did that once). I contacted them and they advised that it was not an approved plugin. I definitely appreciated the extra layer of security while using WordPress.org.
Truth be told, I was going plugin crazy and just started installing stuff. Which will happen. Every time someone tells you about a plugin to make things easier you’ll opt for the plugin, rather than taking time to learn your theme. Or even taking the time to say, “is this plugin safe”. You need a web host that has your back. The customer service was outstanding as well.
Fun Fact: While researching for this article I learned about VIP WordPress.com. VIP WordPress.com is a web hosting service used by the elite of WordPress.com. Though the VIP service isn’t for the average person, as the plans are beyond expensive. One thing VIP WordPress.com has in common with WordPress.com, is that they are serious about security. So essentially there are clients willing to pay 10k per month, just to use WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org.
This is not a shot at WordPress.org because i’ve used it before. This is so beginners can understand that they shouldn’t overlook something just because another person said it was a dumb idea. It’s critical to do your own research.
VIP WordPress.com clients include New York Times, New York Post, Time, Dow Jones and more. So the next time someone tells you that going with WordPress.com is dumb, you can let them know you’re among the elite of the internet.
Check out my article on what to ask your self hosting service.
One of my friends launched a business and I had suggested that she make her presence more known on social media. So she created a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. When it came to Twitter and Instagram it was very easy to find her pages and @mention her.
However, when I tried to @mention her on Facebook nothing came up. This issue was mind-boggling to the both of us. It was also annoying. Even when people searched for her on Facebook they couldn’t find her. It was almost as if her page didn’t exist, but it did. In order to find her, you’d have to know the exact full url of her business. The nightmare part of it was, if you searched for her other businesses with similar names and similar niches would come up immediately. So from a business perspective her competition was winning when others would search for her.
So I did some additional research and found out that there are instances where Facebook may not index your page immediately. Which I guess makes sense if you think about it. Maybe the data algorithm wants to ensure that you are going to be actively utilizing the page before it indexes you. As someone who has spent years in software testing, I was definitely wondering if this was a bug or a feature. I do question if this is a feature since it doesn’t seem to happen all of the time.
Nonetheless, I recommended that she post to her business page no less than twice a day. I also recommended that if she wanted people to be able to get to her page directly, that she should either give them the direct url or simply hashtag the business in her post. As when she started hashtagging the hashtags showed up in search.
With the hashtags themselves, she was able to get visitors to her page immediately. So her other friends and family started to do the same thing when they posted about her business. However, the consistency of making about 2-3 posts a day is what helped Facebook recognize her. It’s important to note we had to do this for about 2-3 weeks straight.
This may not always happen but just in case it does, here’s a good video to watch. Out of everything I viewed on this issue, this was the easiest to follow and understand.
I’m just going to jump right into it. Recently I went to a small business and purchased a few items. Upon leaving I asked the employee behind the counter if they had a website and her exact words to me were, “No, we only have Facebook.” That was the end of her “company pitch”. She didn’t try to further investigate or ask me if there was anything in particular that I needed. When I left the store I was immediately able to find their website on my own.
If you’re wondering why someone not knowing whether or not their company has a website is important here’s why. I felt like the store had a good selection of items and just in case I wasn’t in the neighborhood again, I wanted to be able to order online.
I shared my experience in a Brand Building group that i’m a part of and the stories just kept getting tackier and tackier. One woman told a story of how she went to a store to get some sweet treats and briefly read the banner behind the counter. What was interesting about the banner behind the counter, was that the banner told the story of the store’s origination and it’s founders. The store was created by 2 boys after a bake sale.
The woman asked the employee (who stood directly in front of the banner) if the boys owned the store with their parents. The employee had no idea what she was talking about and asked the woman where she heard the story. The woman (who was the customer) explained that she had just read it on the banner directly behind the counter. The employee then said she’s seen the little boys with their parents but didn’t know the story. Another woman called a store and was directed to their call center and the employee didn’t know the store hours. I guess the employee was only prepared to answer questions if the store was open?! Other commenters talked about similar issues with bigger brands, to which i’ve encountered as well .
Having said that, if you run a business, I don’t care what kind of business it is. Or how small or large it is. Your employees need to “ABC”, Always Be Closing. You need employees with an Intrepreneur mindset. You need employees who are not just great at their job, but can assist with other needs in your business as well. If they can’t assist a customer with something immediately, they need to be able to at least provide customers with the appropriate information. Otherwise your customer base will leave you for companies who not only hire, but “train up” their employees to be Intrepreneurs.
If you’re reading this as an employee and saying, “why would I do that?” That’s the first sign you’re working for the wrong company and you should probably find a new gig immediately. As you should always feel motivated to help keep your employer in business (within reason).
There are so many ways to say goodbye, but there are some clear ways that will have you leaving in style. This simple goodbye email template is just too good to ignore.
Here are 3 things to include in your Goodbye email:
Something great about the company
If you’ve worked at a company for years you should have something good to say about the company. Think way back to a moment where a change was implemented that you liked. Maybe there was an introduction to healthy snacks or a positive afterwork meetup group. Or you can talk about your co-workers that have become good friends. You can possibly tell a short story about someone you’ve admired at work.
Something great about a project you worked on
Saying something great about a project you worked on re-affirms your greatness. It shows how you’ve made an impact on the company. You should never leave a company and allow anyone to forget the great things you’ve done. Or if some people weren’t aware of the work you’ve done and how valuable you were, they know now! It’s a small world, you never know who you’ll work with again.
Wish everyone well
You can never go wrong with wishing people well. When it comes to your actual goodbye email, it honestly doesn’t really matter whether you’ve loved everyone or not. What matters is being someone who understands that wishing people well is sometimes how we “cleanse our soul”. If there are people you wish to give special or separate thanks to outside of your goodbye email, you can do that as well.
This is just a quick template for those who ponder on what to say in their goodbye emails. For everything else there’s the exit interview itself. You should also read my article 3 great tips for your next exit interview.
It all started when I responded to what seemed like a simple request for services quote on a well known site (not Craigslist if that’s what you were thinking). I reached out to the client and after a few days I received a text message directly from them.
In the text the client requested my email address to send the details to. Initially the email came to my gmail spam box which I thought was weird, but I figured that things happen.
He sent me the details for the project via email and everything looked well researched. I was actually pretty excited about the project and had already started doing keyword searches for the SEO aspect of the project. My job was to do the Web Design, SEO, and Layout for an Agriculture website of 11-20 pages. It was supposed to be an ongoing job with monthly maintenance.
I gave him an estimate and he advised it was fine, so I drew up the contract. I worked on the contract that night and some of the next morning. I sent him the final contract by 11am the next morning as I had advised him I would.
Here’s where things started getting weird. Now that he had the contract he was more focused on paying me than signing the contract. I advised that I couldn’t move forward with payment or work unless he signed the contract. He said he understood but was more focused on giving me all of the money upfront so he could reach the deadline for his site launch.
My second and final red flag was when he wanted to pay me via a credit card and funnel money through my bank account for another contractor. The other contractor was supposed to be responsible for the Logo and web content.
All of the sudden he had a cancer diagnosis, was in intensive care, with a collapsed lung (yet he was still contacting me). He needed a “little favor” from me (a stranger) and advised he would give me an additional $100.00 for my stress. I was the gatekeeper to help get his very important agricultural website up and running.
I ended the conversation with telling him I could not start work without a signed contract and ethically I could not accept funds for any business other than my own.