5 Tips for Starting a Business

Have you been thinking of starting a business but just haven't got around to it? Here's a secret: don't delay another day, get started right now! Here's 5 tips for starting your own business taken from an interview I did with Karen Gunton from Build a Little Biz on the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast

  1. Finding the right idea – something that combines your interests/skills/expertise with what people actually need/want
  2. Doing your research – into biz models, profitability, a point of difference in the marketplace etc.
  3. Building the framework of your biz – your products, your customers, your brand etc.
  4. Giving yourself a timeframe – ‘portfolio building’ stage
  5. Starting right now with a simple marketing strategy

Finding the right idea

Most people, when trying to start their own business, fall into two categories. The first category are people who have a particular skill, hobby or expertise that they think they can make money out of and turn into a business. The second category are people who like the idea of having their own business but don’t know exactly what it is they want to sell or what service they can provide and charge money for. What ever it is you do or sell, you have to keep in mind that not only does your product or service need to be something you can provide but also something that other people need. So if you already know what it is you want to sell, you now have to find people who want to pay for it, which can be pretty difficult. On the other hand, if you already know that there is something that other people need or want, it becomes easier to sell because you already know who you are going to sell it to. The important thing is to find something that you are willing to do that other people will pay for.

Doing the research

Before you start your business, it’s important to research who else is selling the same thing or providing the same service. It can really help to know how other people are conducting their business and to find out what you can do better and what you can learn. It’s pretty easy to find someone with a good buisness model that you can turn into something unique by making a few tweaks here and there and calling it your own. It is also important to know how profitable your business will be and how much you should be charging for your product or service. For instance, if you are selling homemade jewlery and you are charging twenty dollars for earings, you might be pushing away customers who are looking for high quality products. It is always easier to start off pricing high and then bring the price down if that isn’t working for you than it is to start off pricing low and then raise the price later.

Building the framework of your business

When starting a business you need to be clear on what your product is, who is going to buy it, how you’re going to sell it etc. You need to make sure you have a specific audience who you are targeting and you need to know how you are going to sell your product to that audience. Sometimes it helps to look into what the real, more broad reasons for why people are buying your product of using your service. People don’t just buy jewlery because they want jewlery - they buy jewlery to make them feel good about themselves. You need to look into what you’re really selling people, and that can be really helpful when trying to communicate with your customers.

Giving your self a time frame

When you’re first starting out, it can be useful to designate yourself a certain amount of time to test out how you’ll run your business and build a portfolio before you actually properly launch your business. You can use this time just as a learning stage to find out what you need to change about your business or how much you’re going to charge or how many hours a week you’re going to spend on your business. It doesn’t really matter what you do in this time because you can always go back and fix things. Remember that what you do in this time is ‘not a tattoo’ and isn’t going to define your business forever and can always be changed.

Starting right now with a simple marketing strategy

One of the best ways to begin creating an online presence for your business is to just start a simple blog or website where you can talk about your ideas and hopefully gain followers. Another great thing you can do is start keeping a list of emails of people who are interested in what you do or interested in your product or service. So if you want to notify people about a new idea or a new product, you already have a list of people who are interested in what you have to say. This is great for when you are in your portfolio building stage and you want to try things out before launching your product or service.

The most important thing when starting a business is to just start right now. Leave a comment bellow and tell us what you can do today to help you towards starting your own business.

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Get People to Throw their Money at you using Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing harkens back to the days when friends told friends about businesses that they liked. People share information, and it can either hurt you or help you. Here are some tips from my interview with Dr. Martin Russell on the Web Marketing Adelaide podcast

Referrals are Warm Lead 

When developing your business through word of mouth marketing one of the biggest positives is that you have a warm lead. Trust in any business is huge. You want your client to feel that you do have the right product and the right information. When the client has been referred to you by someone that they trust, they are more likely to trust you, the first time. 

Asking for Referrals is NOT Begging 

Businesses are built by good word of mouth. Encouraging your clients to refer their friends and family is not the same as begging them. Chances are you have a service that many people need. When you get your happy clients to tell their friends, who are also looking for the service you provide, this is part of your marketing. Much of your business can come from referrals, so, how are you generating them?

One positive strategy to get people talking about you is to put it into your marketing. Talk about a time when someone was referred to you and then that same person referred someone else. Show people that there is a chain reaction of happy clients. They will trust you, and be encouraged to spread the word.

Networking on a Business Scale 

Word of mouth marketing is customers talking to customers. Anytime you have a connection that can lead to business; that is your network. Do you work with other vendors that can refer you? Do you work with vendors that you can refer? The more people that are connected the more opportunities will arise.

You Can’t Prevent Everything

Positive word of mouth marketing is wonderful. However, there will always be the other side of that. As a business owner you need to know what people are saying about your business. What negative aspects are popping up? This is why it is important to follow up. After someone has worked with you, how do they feel, are they happy? Search the internet to see if there are complaints about your business.

If there is negative word of mouth about you, you may not be able to remove it. However, how you handle it can make all the difference. Contact those who have had an issue. How can you rise to the challenge and turn them into a happy customer? Remember, if people like something they may tell three people. Alternatively, if people hate something they may tell everyone who will listen.

Follow Your Demographic

Talk to the customers who you want to refer people for you. What social media do they use? If you find they are on Facebook all the time but you have spent your marketing budget on Twitter then you will want to change your focus. You are relying on the people who rely on you and this is why you want your budget to fit their styles. If you end up saving money, great, funnel that back into your product.

Listen to the whole discussion in Episode #6 of the WMA Podcast.

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Website Usability Tips [Guest Post]

This article is going to give advice on how to make your website easier for it’s visitors to navigate and use. We will be covering the topics of:

  • URLs
  • Breadcrumb links
  • Sitemaps
  • Custom 404 pages
  • Website Navigation
  • Linking Out 


URLs will often contain a bunch of indecipherable codes and numbers. To make it easier for users to remember the URL to a particular page, make it so the URL is short, simple and uses words that relate to its page (eg. www.example.com/blog/2008/jan/how_to_mow_cat ).  It is also useful to make it so parts of the URL can be deleted and the URL will still work. For istance, if you deleted everything after the ‘2008’ in the example above, www.example.com/blog/2008 would lead to a page containing all the blog posts from 2008.  It is good practice to only have one URL leading to a particular page.


Breadcrumb links are a really useful way to help people better navigate your website.  Breadcrumbs are usually located near the top of the page and look like this:

Home >
Shoes > Kids > Sandals > Kosh Leather Sandals  

Visitors can use this to find their way back to pages they viewed previously.


To help users find their way around, include an HTML sitemap with links to all the important pages.  If there are a lot of pages, they should be organised on the sitemap by subject. To make it easier for search engines to navigate pages on your website, create an XML sitemap file for your site using a sitemap generator.


Custom 404 Page

There will be times when visitors will try and open a page that doesn’t exist. This is often because of misspelling a URL. Setting up a custom 404 page that guides users back to a page that works (typically the home page) can make peoples visit to your site easier and more enjoyable. Google has a useful 404 widget you can embed in your 404 error page.

Website Navigation

Most sites have navigation links near or at the top of each page. These usually include the home page, about, contact and any other important pages such as products or a blog. These are good for helping visitors find their way around your site.

Linking Out

The last bit of advice is about linking to other pages or websites. It is better to use text links rather than pictures, because people don’t always know to click on a picture to go to another page. It is always good to make links words or phrases (known as 'anchor text') that describe the place you’re being linked to rather than just a URL. This is especially important in the case of websites like Youtube that have a bunch of seemingly random letters and numbers in their video URLs.  If you just provide a raw Youtube link, people might not know what is on the other side. That is why it is important to use words as links.
This article is a guest post by Sam, a year 10 student at Heathfield High School who has been doing work experience with us at Wicked Cow Marketing recently. Sam and I discuss all of the tips given here in Episode 12 of the Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast.

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6 Adelaide Business Networking Tips

Networking is one of those buzzwords that everyone talks about doing but don't seam to have a clear idea of why.

When I started my SEO business I found myself doing a lot of networking without having a clear idea of what exactly the value was and how it was going to help my business.

I regularly attend the Flying Solo small business meetup which is held monthly in different places around Adelaide (next one coming up on September 5th). In the lead up to the meetup, I always see people umming and ahhing over whether they can fit it in to their busy schedule which seems to point to the fact that most people think there's some value there but that its far from the most productive thing they could be doing with their time.

Good things that can come from networking;

  • New clients/customers (either those that you meet or by referral from someone you meet) 
  • Increased reputation, personal branding and awareness
  • Business/joint venture partners
  • Business advice and tips
  • An opportunity to make friends, get support and vent with like minded people

My Networking Tips

1) Figure out what your networking objectives are. If you want to meet small business owners, then maybe attending a networking event for professionals is not the best use of your time.

2) Arrive early. Its harder to enter existing conversations than it is to start them. If you get there early, you can strike up a conversation with people as they arrive.

3) Try and meet everybody. You never know what you could be missing out on so a good strategy is to try and meet everyone then go back to the people who are most interesting to you if you have time. This is not a hard and fast rule. If you're engaged in conversation with someone interesting and relevant then you don't want to just kick them to the curb but if there's a break in the conversation, use the opportunity to move onto someone new rather than returning to the same person.

4) Focus on others, not yourself. I think you can get far more value by listening, asking questions and helping other people out than you can by talking about yourself and your business. If you can provide value to someone, they're much more likely hire you, refer you work and talk about you in a positive light to others. Further, by listening and asking questions you can learn more about the problems people are having and how you can help them solve those problems.

5) Collect business cards. While your instinct might be to try and give out as many of your business cards as possible, don't forget to collect the business cards of those that you meet so you can connect with them later. I also like to group business cards by the event so if I'm going back next time I can have a look at the cards of those I met so I remember their names and what they do when I see them again.

6) Follow up and follow up some more. In the first few days after the event, try and follow up with those that you met. Add onto the conversation that you had with another thought or a link to something they might find useful or interesting. Try and keep in contact with people by connecting with them every now and then via email, social media, commenting on their blog or even a phone call.

For some more ideas and pro tips, check out this networking article.

Adelaide Networking Events
  • Flying Solo Meetup - Small business owners, held monthly, usually 5-10 people 
  • Adelaide Open Networkers - Some small business owners but mostly professionals, held every 2 months or so, 20-40 people (last time I was there) 
  • The Startup Club Adelaide - They haven't had any events for a while but I think they are starting them again soon? I've not been to any events so don't know much about them but I've heard they're good 
  • Young Leaders at the Office - Young IT professionals, every 1-2 months, small cost for non ACA members, 15-30 people 
  • Silicon Beach Adelaide Meetup - Tech based entrepreneurs, geeks and businesses, held monthly, 10-30 people
  • Adelaide Word of Mouth - Business owners & professionals, a few events each month, free, I've not been to any events yet but I hear they are quite popular.
Got some networking tips of your own? Put them in the comments below.

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Things to Consider Before Developing Your Website [Guest Post]

This is a guest post by Urszula Richards from online iq. I discussed these topics with Urszula in a recent interview for our new Web Marketing Adelaide podcast (Episode 2) and this post summarises and expands upon that interview. You can find out more about Urszula's business; online iq, in their company profile in our internet marketing directory. - Nick, Editor

What are some things people should consider before having a website designed?

There are two primary things a website must do. It must solve the needs or problems of the website visitor, and it needs to help the business owner achieve its goals.Its true to say that the best websites are designed for the end users - as they will vote with their actions about whether there is anything of value or interest to them. This is one reason why it is good to have an objective person to help with developing your site.

The second thing is that it must align with the business goals. For established businesses, these can be quite clear, but for a young business, these could be quite formative and it can be difficult getting to the bottom of what a business offers (especially if it is a service business). So my advice would be to take the time to get very clear about this.

Other things important to consider:

  • budget - contrary to what most people do, telling your developer what your budget is will help them help you be realistic about what can be achieved, and appropriate options suggested.
  • online shopping websites - these can be built *fairly* cheaply BUT will they work? Be sure to factor into your budget photography (main expense if you have lots of items; but photographs sell), your fulfillment plan (who will be handling orders), shipping and payment methods. Then, you need to allocate funds to some serious marketing. Just because you build it does not mean they will come. If you don't budget for these items, your 'budget' shopping cart may well become a white elephant.
  • ongoing relationship with your web firm - a website is a little like a car. You get the car, but you may need driving lessons, maintenance and fuel to get the most out of it. Work with someone you trust - they will be your first port of call for making your website work for you.

Are mobile websites important?

Awareness of mobile is really important, but what does this mean?

It means that you need to be aware that your website will be viewed on any number of devices, including phones, tablets, huge screens and tiny portable PC's. There is no way a website can look exactly the same across all these devices.

However at the very least -
  • make sure your graphics do not include Flash (as it can't be viewed on many mobiles); or at the very least that those pages redirect to an alternative mobile friendly page when accessed from a mobile device.
  • do view your site on a range of mobile devices and see if there are simple changes you can make to improve it
  • consider having a *micro* mobile site version - which would show up on mobile phones, for local business - ie. phone number, google map, possibly faqs; just the basic information 'on the go'
On the other hand if your target market and/or your offering is very 'mobile-centric' you may want to consider an entire website version completely optimised for mobile.

What are 5 ways business owners can market their website once it has been created?

First a note about marketing in general. It should be seen as a form of genuine, long term, relationship building. I also see no distinction between online and offline marketing - "online" is just a medium.

  1. Make sure you are listed in all the local directories. If you are in a particular niche and there is a directory for that niche, make sure you are listed there. (eg if you are a restaurant, make sure you are listed in Urban Spoon). Take control of these listings - so you have up-to-date and interesting information / photos.
  2. Blog. You have probably heard about blogging 'ad nauseum' but there is no better way to prove you are current, knowledgeable and interested in your domain. The added bonus of this is that once this has been created, you will actually have something of substance to distribute via your social networks.
  3. Do use social media - but make it interesting, relevant or delightful (ok, you might not be able to delight every time!) to your audience. Don't simply have social links on your site going to a very empty Facebook or Twitter page.
  4. Capitalise on your web address. Add it to your signature (make sure it is clickable, and not an image), use it in your print advertising, and distribute it on your business cards wherever you can.
  5. Understand the importance of your database. Not just names and emails, but who they are. Segment it as much as possible, so that when you do communicate with people, it is a communication which is of value and relevance to them. This is one of the key reasons why I use Business Catalyst to build my websites in. It has a Customer Database and the ability to segment and communicate with your customers. I only wish my clients used it more!! In fact my interview on Web Marketing Adelaide with Nick was a direct result of ongoing, relevant occasional communication via my segmented database.

About onlineiq.

We are a small boutique web design and development agency offering both the creation of websites and the necessary training, support and maintenance to keep them meeting business goals. You can find us @ www.onlineiq.biz or call 1300 970 730

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Onlineiq Company Profile

Company Name: onlineiq
Founded: 2008
Key Personnel: Urszula Richards (business development)
Products/ Services: Websites and marketing solutions for business & community organisations
Specialty: Providing integrated online solutions - providing solutions you may not know were possible beyond just having a website

Information Sources:

Contact Details

Address: 14 Company Street, Semaphore 5019
Website: www.onlineiq.biz
Email: ursh@onlineiq.biz
Phone: 0413 606 463

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Search Engine Optimisation Tips for Adelaide [Infographic]

I've created this infographic with 8 tips to help improve your search engine rankings in Adelaide. If you head to the page on my website; Adelaide SEO Tips, you'll find more information about each tip and a video explaining each tip as well. Enjoy!

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