Why Should I Even Think About Starting an Online Business?
I’m not a politician.
In fact, I think it’s one of the shadiest businesses out there.
I have stayed up-to-date a bit more this year with the presidential election, however. I’m not sure if it’s because of the social media presence the election has, or if it’s because I worked (indirectly) with Mitt Romney in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The question that keeps coming up, though, after listening to all the media coverage, is this:
Is starting an online business going to be a good decision in the future?
I started my first online business in 2004 and it’s still running today.
I started it as a way to monetize a hobby, and it’s turned in to a decent residual income for our family.
Since it was my first business ever, I didn’t really know what to expect; therefore, I made some new business mistakes.
The Small Business Mistakes I’ve Made
- I set up an LLP instead of an LLC because it was cheaper.
- I started with one accountant, didn’t like them, moved to another, didn’t like them either, then another, then another, and ultimately I’m back at the original accountant I’d started with.
- I didn’t have a way to keep track of income and expenses.
- I didn’t get a business license. I was told by one accountant that I didn’t need one as an online retailer.
- I didn’t understand all the tax right offs that were available (not sure if I do now either but I do keep all business receipts and write who I was with and what I was doing on the receipt).
- I didn’t have a bookkeeper.
- I didn’t understand the benefits of setting up DBAs (not sure I do now either).
- I learned this year that doing payroll is a pain in the A@#.
- I learned this year that there are a lot of forms and paperwork the government requires if you are a full-time self employed person.
As you can see, there are a lot of things I didn’t know and still may not know as well as I should/could.
I recently read the infamous small business quote Obama shared with some of his followers. In my opinion, this quote could and SHOULD cost him the presidency. Here’s the quote:
The Barak Obama Stupid Business Quote of the Year
“You didn’t get there on your own,” Obama said. “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
Did he just say all that?
Does he not realize that America is the land of opportunity?
Did he forget the concept of living the “American Dream”?
Granted, some of what he said is correct – none of us did everything on our own.
People Who Have Helped Me as a Small Business Owner
I would never be where I am today as a small business owner if it wasn’t for a variety of people and organizations. My mentor taught me a great deal of what I know about online marketing. My parents were AWESOME at keeping me committed to something once I started. My baseball coaches helped foster the persistence in me to push harder when things were tough. My wife reminds me all the time (without saying a word) that if I’m going to be a small business owner, I better bust my butt and provide for our family. I’ve worked at companies that have given me lots of hands-on experience of how to run a business (and how not to).
ALL of these experiences have helped me be able to run my own small business.
HOWEVER, ultimately I had to do the work and take the risks.
Ultimately, I had to make the phone calls and create the proposals.
The government had NOTHING to do with this.
The government is generally a thorn in my side when it comes to small business.
Here’s what one of my fellow online marketing entrepreneurs, James Zolman, has to say about the whole thing:
I didn’t want to join the whole “You didn’t build it” Obama debate…but, as an Entrepreneur and HEFTY tax payer, I say that MY tax contribution is MY money. Taxes are the money of the people, not the money of the government.
If taxes are the money of the people, how do we contribute to that “pool” of money that builds our infrastructure? By working. Where are the jobs? At a business of some type…that somebody started, probably got into debt for, risked everything for…and still contributed money into the pool of cash allocated to our government to responsibly (cough) spend on our behalf.
We control the government. The government should never control us. It’s our money in there. It’s hard earned money. Blood sweat and tears went into earning it and contributing it.
I understand the whole context of the quote by Obama too. He was saying “You didn’t build that infrastructure – the roads, etc.” Re-read my argument – the government didn’t do crap, WE did it. The PEOPLE did it. The ENTREPRENEURS and hard workers/employees of businesses everywhere contributed funds in the form of taxes to create jobs – the job for other people to build our roads and infrastructure. It all comes back to who earned that money or took that risk. It’s the people.
WE are the ones that build this country. Not our government. Government is not people, it is a strategy run by the people for the people. The strategy of government does not “own” me or anybody else. The government did not build my business. I did. You did.
So, I repeat my question from before:
Is starting an online business a good idea?
Will the benefits of running your own successful company still exist 4, 8, 12 years from now?
Who is going to give me a better chance to maintain my drive to be a small business owner – Obama or Romney?
I look forward to your thoughts on this topic.
If you have recommendations on things I can read about the mistakes I’ve made as a small business owner, share those too.
Basic On-Site SEO Strategy You Have to Know
I had a client the other day send me this email:
(Message from client’s boss)
We were looking for trinkets and trash ideas for our new special order laser machine and first search result was from http://www.collegegear.com/
Look at their meta tag below, no wonder…
COPYRIGHT © 1997-2010 COLLEGEGEAR.COM, INC.. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. COLLEGE APPAREL | UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE | COLLEGE BOOKSTORE | UNIVERSITY APPAREL | STATE APPAREL | CAMPUS RETAILERS ARE ALL ON COLLEGEGEAR.COM AS THE LARGEST PROVIDER OF OFFICIALLY LICENSED COLLEGIATE PRODUCTS TO STUDENTS, FANS AND ALUMNI. COLLEGEGEAR.COM OFFERS COLLEGE APPAREL FROM UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORES – COLLEGE BOOKSTORES – ONLINE BOOKSTORES – CAMPUS RETAILERS – AND COLLEGE GEAR FROM OUR EXCLUSIVE SUPPLIERS. COLLEGE MERCHANDISE INCLUDES COLLEGE BEDDING – COLLEGE APPAREL – STATE APPAREL – COLLEGE JERSEYS – COLLEGE SHIRTS – STATE SWEATSHIRTS – UNIVERSITY SWEATSHIRTS – COLLEGE GIFTS – COLLEGE CLOTHING – COLLEGE SWEATSHIRTS. COLLEGEGEAR.COM SUPPORTS ALL CAMPUS STORES AND COLLEGE BOOK STORE WHO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS IN THIS SECTION SO ALL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, FANS AND ALUMNI FIND THE LARGEST SELECTION OF COLLEGE APPAREL ON THE PLANET. WE LOVE COLLEGE FANS!
The SEO Question
I just received this info on another store. The meta tag. Is this something I should be doing?
This is a good question, one that I’m sure many online businesses don’t know how to answer so they do one of two things:
- They imitate the “SEO strategy”
- They ignore it and continue to do what they’ve always done
I’ve worked with thousands of online business owners and my motto has always been, “The only dumb question you’ll ever ask is the one you DON’T ask!”
I’m glad my client was comfortable enough to ask this question.
My SEO Answer
This is how I explained the “old-school SEO Strategy” to the client (by “old-school” I mean this doesn’t really work any more – it’s a version of “keyword stuffing” and won’t get the site very far if they have some competitors who know what they’re doing when it comes to SEO:
First off, the section you shared has nothing to do with a “Meta Tag” – it’s called a “Global Footer”. Yes, Google looks at that content, but it doesn’t give that section much credibility, especially if there is a tendency within the content to be “stuffed” with keyword phrases – which there is here.
Second, here is what Google really looks for when it comes to search engine placement:
1. Search Engine Friendly Pages that include the following things:
On-site optimization – what we do ON our site to make it search engine friendly. Although on-site SEO is only a part of getting the right traffic to your site, if you do it correctly, it can really help you get out of the Google “sand box”.
Here are the basics of on-site SEO:
Meta Tag Titles
- 6-10 words maximum
- Minimal keyword repetition
- No domain name
- Use keyword phrases that you want people to use to find you in a search engine
- Use “buyer phrases” instead of “browser phrases”
- Every page of a website can have its own unique meta tags
The title shows up in two places:
1. Above the address bar in your internet browser when you’re on the page
2. In Search Engine Results when you type in a specific keyword phrase:
Of all the things Google looks for ON a website, the Title tag on each page is probably the most important one: it tells search engines (and visitors) what the page is about, or at least it SHOULD.
If a search engine goes to a page that is using specific keyword phrases in the title tag but then, when they see the content on the page, it has nothing to do with those phrases, that page loses it’s credibility and can become “black listed” by search engines like Google.
So, to summarize, the content you sent me is simply part of the internal content of a page but doesn’t have as much weight to a search engine as a title tag does.
Having good, quality, and UNIQUE content on every page of your site is also very helpful. This is one of the reasons I’m hoping that we can “customize” the category pages more so that it’s not just a list of products but that it better tells the visitor and the search engine what the page is all about.
Here’s a bit more information about other meta information, which we can discuss when we meet next:
Meta Tag Descriptions
- 1-3 Sentences
- Keyword repetition recommended
- Explain what the page is about
- Is found in search engine results below the title tag
Meta Tag Keywords
- 5-10 words/phrases separated by commas
- keyword repetition is okay
- make sure the words relate to the page you’re marketing
- not seen by regular visitors – found in the source code
- these are not as important any more to search engines like Google but it doesn’t hurt to have them
Hope this helps clarify.
Talk soon and keep the questions coming!
Starting an effective online business is not a “turn-key” or “get rich quick” project.
If you really want to see results and move up in search engine rankings for the best keyword phrases, you have to not be afraid to ask questions, test, and implement strategies that are proven to work.
Thanks to this client for her willingness to ask the right questions and then implement what we discussed.
Did this make sense to you?