In the computer tech and IT forums that I frequent, it seems there is always discussion about backups. What works best, or someone asking the questino to the community on how they personally handle backups; do you use onsite backups or offsite, tapes or disk. The list goes on and on.
While the backup market is huge with a number of players in the game including extremely large companies like Symantec down to really small open source guys like duplicati. It’s an ocean out there in regards to this topic and each backup solution is a fish. Each varying in characteristics and abilities but one thing remains the same; you need to catch a fish.
Late last year, I was driving around and passed one of our local coffee shops here in town and the idea just hit me. The idea sprang from other brain-storming sessions on business growth and marketing. I personally am not a fan of the buzz words “growth hacking” or the like because it all boils down to marketing. The trends in marketing change just as they do in any other industry and depending upon that, it more or less dictates what marketing methods you can use to grow your business.
For example in the business-to-business arena, traditional marketing does not have a decent return on investment (at least not in my experience.) Traditional marketing would include things like newspaper ads, radio commercials, billboards, etc. What we’ve had to do is find other methods of marketing that stick out from the normal methods used by other competitors or rely more heavily on word-of-mouth marketing to push us forward. The book “Guerrilla Marketing” reflects our approach much more than any traditional marketing method..
Our clients range in size from a one person shop up to 100+ devices, and we like it that way. In starting the business, it was a goal from the start to only work with the smaller clients. The theoretical maximum number of devices and users we will support is around 200.
There is sort of an invisible divide in our clients though, one that only a company like ours would see. It’s a divide that affects how a contractor deals with a business.
This is sort of a follow up to a couple of other posts I wrote about picking your clients and doing pro bono work. In those posts, I talked about how to avoid bad clients and how to avoid getting stepped on in general. Even if you try to avoid those clients, some will slip through the cracks. In this post, I want to talk about how to handle those “bad clients”.
Just a quick tip in when offboarding clients, be sure that you are professional and helpful to clients who are offboarding from your services. You never know when the new provider will not work out and they’ll come back to you. Making things difficult and being a nuisance is not going to help you win back clients. Always be supportive of your client, even if they are making a bad decision.
Marketing and advertising are not the same. Advertising is like throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Marketing is building relationships, and relationships sell services. People typically like to work with others that they know or trust. This is why only certain people make very good salesmen; that is, they have the personality that people just gravitate towards. Now if you’re like me, you may have a good personality but are a tad introverted. We are developers and computer geeks over here but we don’t naturally make good salesmen.
When I first started my IT business, I set a table in the back of my in-laws store in the evenings when I got off work from my day job. When I came in, I would pull out a table, put my signs up, and run my power cords. At the end of evening, I would put everything back up. I had this setup for roughly two years and it worked well. I learned a lot during those first two years but nothing more important than my customers.
I see this all the time, young WordPress professionals who are trying to learn the ropes ask what can they do to build their business. Almost every response I read to this question contains the words free or pro bono. “Build a portfolio by doing free sites.” That is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
When working with new businesses we as web developers and designers often have to register new domains for our clients. It’s kind of a key stage in the whole process. Typically, when creating domains, it’s either just a habit or oversight that the domain owner is set to the developer or designer. In fact, the registrar I use, gandi.net, you can’t actually change the domain owner until you’ve already paid and processed the domain. It’s an entirely separate process.
The problem with this though, is that you are now the “owner” of that domain. It’s yours just as your computer is yours, you have ownership. Do you see the issue here? If you registered the domain for your client, it should be their domain. It is their business after all. The right thing to do is put the domain in their name or their companies name for safe keeping.
Let’s look at a scenario that I ran into this week. Say that you just picked up a new client that wants a new website designed and maybe they want to move to hosted email with Google Apps or Office 365. Their current site was designed and implemented back in 2002 and the company that did it, has went out of business. After reviewing the WHOIS information, you see that the owner of the domain is actually a guy from their previous developer. After multiple attempts at contacting him, you finally get a hold of him in which he informs you that the domain is his but is willing to sell it for a price…
This could have all been avoided if we make it a standard to register the domains under our clients names.