The StartupNation Blog Trends, tips and real-life anecdotes from industry experts

Archive for “Grow Your Business”

How YOU can help the economy by shopping!

This holiday season is shaping up to be a better for most big retail chains and this is not “breaking news” by any means. However, what is important is that we all go out and do a little shopping! There are many reasons why people shop but this year it is really about supporting the [...]

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Monday Morning Mojo: The Power of Compassionate Listening

At the end of the day, our success in business and the overall quality of our lives starts and stops with how we relate to people. How we interact with others and who we’re being when we interact with them directly affects our life experience as well as our outcomes. Communication that leaves others feeling [...]

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Have You Talked to Your Tech Team Lately?

Without open communications, your business days are numbered Welcome to my new blog. I’m Robert LeCount, the director of information technology at The Rich Dad Company, www.richdad.com. You’ve probably heard of it… it’s the financial education tech company based on Robert Kiyosaki’s best-selling personal finance book of all time, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” I love [...]

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FramesDirect.com Takes Traditional, Eyeglasses Business Online

It’s always nice to see a traditional business go online and be successful. That’s what happened to Dr. Dhavid Cooper and Guy Hodgson of FramesDirect.com, www.framesdirect.com. They moved the process of buying eyeglasses and sunglasses from a brick-and-mortar location into an online success, selling over 1,000,000 pairs of glasses since 1996. Let’s find out how they did it from Dr. Cooper…

Tell us why you started FramesDirect.com.
FramesDirect.com

Dr. Guy Hodgson and I had been in practice operating several offices in Houston since 1986. We’d worked very hard at developing these practices over a nine-year period and wanted to take a break from practice and from business for a while. In 1994, the opportunity arose to sell all the offices, which we did. We then took a year off. During this time off, I did some practice-management seminars throughout the world, traveled and self-published a book called “101 Secrets of a Million Dollar Office.”

A year later, in 1996, Dr. Hodgson and I got together to figure out what our next venture was going to be. We decided that whatever the venture was, it had to operate 24/7 and have the ability to serve a national market. These were the primary parameters at the time. We didn’t know what it would be or how we were going to do it. We then set up office space with a refracting lane and optical dispensary on the third floor of a six-story building, rather than at street level or near a shopping area. We did this intentionally to force ourselves to think and get imaginative.

In 1996, the Web was in its infancy, and I had just learned about Windows 95 from my brother. I found it quite intriguing. I got a copy of Microsoft Front Page and taught myself how to create a Web page and put 10 sunglass images online. We had formed a new company, Frames For America, Inc., under which we were going to evolve the new idea(s), but I wanted something shorter and snappier. One day, I happened to be looking at box of paper I’d received from a company called Paper Direct. Within minutes, Frames Direct was born.

The overall goal was to somehow provide round-the-clock eyewear services to the entire nation Remember that at this time, selling anything online was a novelty and very much experimental, much less something as complicated as eyewear.

Someone suggested we register the name as a dot-com, which we did. And FramesDirect.com became official in the latter part of 1996.

You’ve sold 1,000,000 glasses since 1996. What is your secret to this success?

We have absolutely the best customer service team in the industry. All of our customer service reps are certified opticians, experts in the field, who work very hard to make sure our customers get exactly what they want.

Additionally, we go to great lengths to ensure that our Website is easy to use, offers exactly what consumers are looking for and works properly. Having a well structured site that works well helps our consumers find exactly what they’re looking for out of the hundreds of thousands of products we sell, which is another key to our success. Not only do we offer far more eyewear options than you’d find in a local eyewear store, but we have simply the largest eyewear catalog… period.

How have you spread the word about your business?

We drive Website traffic through several different channels, but our primary sources are search engines. We’ve worked very hard to optimize our Website’s pages so that they rank well in Google and other search engines when people go online searching for “eyeglasses” and related terms.

Back when we first launched the site, when the Internet was still fairly new, we wondered about this exact question. If we put a site out there on the Internet how are people going to find it? I started to notice that if I made certain changes to our Web pages it would affect how well or not they showed up in Yahoo! search (this was back before Google). Optimizing Web pages in this way, or doing search engine optimization, is an important part of any online business. But at the time, such a thing didn’t really exist as a formal practice. I was just trying things out to try and pull more traffic from Yahoo! search.

To this day, search engine optimization remains one of our primary strategies for driving traffic to FramesDirect.com.

What marketing tactics have been most successful for you and why?

SEO has been most successful for us, but we also do pay-per-click advertising, email marketing and some re-targeting banner advertising. Currently, we are exploring television advertising as a means to not only get traffic to FramesDirect.com, but to inform consumers at large that buying eyewear online is a viable option. Believe it or not, most people still are not aware of this.

What tips do you have for other online businesses just starting out?

It’s not so hard to launch an ecommerce Website these days, but the bigger question is how you’re going to drive traffic and visitors to your Website. Solve that question first before you get too far into any online business planning. This way, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money and stress.

It’s also important to provide quality services and credible information to your customers. If you think about their needs, rather than just making a profit, you’ll be much more successful. Plus, the search engines will recognize your Website as a place that provides valuable content, and you’ll receive higher rankings.

Thanks for the great insights Dr. Cooper! If you’d like to find out more about FramesDirect.com, visit their site here. And for more information to help you with your PR and SEO activities, please write to me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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It’s always nice to see a traditional business go online and be successful. That’s what happened to Dr. Dhavid Cooper and Guy Hodgson of FramesDirect.com, www.framesdirect.com. They moved the process of buying eyeglasses and sunglasses from a brick-and-mortar location into an online success, selling over 1,000,000 pairs of glasses since 1996. Let’s find out how [...]

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Monday Morning Mojo: When You Feel F.E.A.R., Do It Anyway!

OK, let’s be real. We all get afraid sometimes. We are born with three basic fears: sudden motion, sudden approach, and loud noises. These are the same innate survival fears that keep our primate ancestors from becoming panther food. Our minds are inherently tuned to be on the lookout for attack. This would be a [...]

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How important is the GREEN MOVEMENT to major retailers?

How Important Is The Green Movement To Major Retailers? I was reading a very interesting article in a retail journal over the weekend and something caught my attention. The article mentioned that most retailers, while claiming that they proudly offer lots of “green” products, do not actually properly promote or even stock such products. Now, [...]

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My Site is Optimized Now, Right?

Many new business owners often ask me what they need to do to their site so that they show up at the top of the search engines. They usually want a quick answer, but the truth is… Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a Never-Ending Process. If you want your site to be at the top [...]

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Want a New Client? Try These 3 Tips

Now that summer is coming to a close and you’ve started your fall schedule with the kids back in school, are you ready to get going to increase sales at your business? Well, if you’d like to get a new client right away, here are three tips that might help: 1.    Ask! Make a list [...]

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Monday Morning Mojo: Taming the Monkey Mind

The human mind is a miracle, to be sure. It has accomplished many incredible things such as putting men on the moon and splitting the atom. Yet, this same mind is also responsible for thoughts that create the anxiety and fear that rob so many of the power and the ability to create lives filled [...]

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Give Yourself a Break!

As summer fades away, I’m sure you’d love to hold onto some of your personal time and avoid working long hours. But if you’re an entrepreneur, how do you please all of your customers without giving up some free time with family and friends?

Here are a few suggestions to reclaim your personal time:

1. Hire a Virtual Assistant.

Do you have data entry, accounting, writing, or other administrative activities that need to be done? Get these tasks out of your way by hiring a virtual assistant.

These professional workers are available throughout the United States with different skill sets at various price-points.

And because you are hiring a service rather than an actual employee, you don’t need to worry about all of the legal and tax headaches involved in the hiring process.

Check out the International Virtual Assistants Organization at http://www.ivaa.org/ and other, related sites to find someone to fit your specific needs.

2. Find an Intern.

Many high school and college students are looking for work to add to their portfolios. Offer to provide opportunities to help them succeed.

You’ll get some inexpensive help, and your interns will get valuable, on-the-job experience to use in their future careers. Just be aware that you’ll need to take some extra time to train these newbies carefully.

3. Get help from your kids.

If you haven’t already done so, have your kids help you with your business. Not only will they learn important skills and the importance of working for an end-result, but you may be able to use this as a tax deduction too.

Check with your accountant to see how you can make this work for you.

Enjoy yourself!

Instead of saying goodbye to summer fun and thinking you just can’t get away from work, be positive and creative. Look for people to help you finish tasks outside of your core area of expertise.

It may take a little effort to find the right helpers, but once these workers are in place, you’ll have more time for yourself and be able to get the relaxation you need to truly be successful!

Need more help with your SEO copywriting and PR to increase sales? Please write to me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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As summer fades away, I’m sure you’d love to hold onto some of your personal time and avoid working long hours. But if you’re an entrepreneur, how do you please all of your customers without giving up some free time with family and friends? Here are a few suggestions to reclaim your personal time: 1. [...]

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Does Your Website Need Trimming?

Did you enjoy the Labor Day holiday? If you’re like me, you ate too much ice cream and could stand to lose a few pounds! Well, this same idea goes for your Website.

Is it as slim and trim as it needs to be to bring in sales?

If not, here are some things you can do now to get your writing in better shape…

1.   Trim the extras.

While it’s nice to have a few graphics on your Website, please don’t go overboard. Keep your Website simple with a single message on each page. Let site visitors know exactly “what’s in it for them” the second they land on your Home page.

Then, guide them where you want them to go. If you have too many graphics and clutter on your site, you may cause confusion and lose business.

2.    Slim down your copy.

Take a look at the SEO copy on your Website and in your marketing materials.

Do you use short paragraphs and simple sentences?

Do you include titles and sub-titles to break up your copy into various sections?

If not, make some changes. You want your copy to be as easy to read as possible. Provide valuable information, but keep it short and sweet.

3.    Add some zip to your site.

If you don’t have any videos on your Website, you are missing out on a great opportunity to share information with customers. Either have people send in videos talking about your business or make your own video about something cool going on at your business.

Have fun with it. Today’s online customers want to see videos and your business in action. Give them what they want! Just make sure your videos are professional looking and provide a good impression. And be sure to add the appropriate tagging for the search engines.

It’s Time to Look and Feel Good!

While you enjoy these final days of summer, also think about preparing your SEO copy for the busy, work months ahead. Make sure your Website conveys a simple message site visitors can understand quickly and easily, and give them valuable and interesting information they can use. With just a few changes, you can improve your copy, and sales, significantly. Now, off to the gym to work off that ice cream!

For more help with your SEO copywriting, please write to me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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Did you enjoy the Labor Day holiday? If you’re like me, you ate too much ice cream and could stand to lose a few pounds! Well, this same idea goes for your Website. Is it as slim and trim as it needs to be to bring in sales? If not, here are some things you [...]

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Monday Morning Mojo: Your Thoughts are POWERFUL!

We’ve all heard the saying, “The energy was so thick in that room, I could cut it with a knife.” That energy is felt without words being expressed or eye contact being made. There’s nothing going on but the same bad feeling being felt by all the people in the room. The question is how [...]

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Want Some Good Publicity? 3 Key Tips…

If you are an entrepreneur or just trying to get some publicity for a new business and haven’t had any luck with reporters, you may want to stop and review your process. There are three, key things to do before pitching a media member. Conduct research. Are you just sending a press release or a [...]

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Does Your Site Need Help?

You love your site. The graphics are way cool and your customers love it! This may all be true, but is your site really helping you grow your business and increase sales and awareness? Not sure? You may want to review these…

3 Signs Your Site Stinks

1. You don’t see any new sales specifically coming in from your site users.

When was the last time you checked to see how many new sales are coming directly from online users? Take a look at your Google Analytics (and please install them, or some other analytics software, if you haven’t already). If your numbers are low, sorry, but your site just isn’t that good.

Check your landing pages. Do they include a single message and a clear, call-to-action? If site visitors don’t’ know the benefits you offer and how to take advantage of them easily, you’ll lose online sales. Rewrite your landing pages and test them to see what works best.

2. Your clicks from new customers are dismal.

Do your analytics show that you have a lot of new, first time visitors (unique visitors)? If not, you need to increase word-of-mouth for your site.

Start by optimizing your site for the search engines. Provide valuable content using your top keywords. And if it’s appropriate for your business, take advantage of social media. Get involved on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, write a blog, etc. Just make sure to plan your activities accordingly so you get the best results for your time and effort.

In fact, you may want to look into hiring some outside consultants to help you with this. Yes, this costs money. But these experts can significantly increase site visitors and provide a great ROI.

3. Your bounce rate is high.

Are a lot of your site visitors looking at one page on your site and then leaving? Look at the bounce rate for various pages on your site in the analytics. If people are not interested in what you have to offer, they are not going to spend time on your site.

When this happens, it’s time for a site revamp. Figure out what your customers want by looking at the content they look at most on your site. You can also offer an online survey or simply ask them. It’s essential to answer questions and provide solutions for your site visitors within seconds of arriving at your site. Otherwise, they’ll go straight to your competitors.

Your Site Can Always Be Improved.

While you may think your site is fantastic, your analytics and sales numbers may prove otherwise. Take some time to review what is going on with your site each week. What are site visitors most interested in and how can you give them what they want? Even if your site is doing well, it can always do better.

By being in tune with your target market and providing valuable information quickly and easily, your site will improve significantly. More important, you’ll build online buzz and increase sales that will help grow your business fast.

For additional help increasing sales with your SEO site, please write to me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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You love your site. The graphics are way cool and your customers love it! This may all be true, but is your site really helping you grow your business and increase sales and awareness? Not sure? You may want to review these… 3 Signs Your Site Stinks 1. You don’t see any new sales specifically [...]

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Crowdfunding Tips from FutureDash

Recently, StartupNation was approached by FutureDash, and they had a lot to say about crowdfunding. Here’s what CEO Kevin Strong had to say… Tell us about your business. FutureDash is a technology startup focused on an energy management solution called EnergyBuddy, www.energy-buddy.com. It gives homeowners and small businesses awareness of their energy usage, helping them [...]

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How to Improve Your SEO Rankings

The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming, and Google is probably updating their search engine systems again. In a past update (http://on.wsj.com/AorvqW), Google incorporated “semantic search,” looking at the meaning of words… so how does this change your SEO processes? Well, if you haven’t been writing quality content and just posting as many search [...]

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Summer of SEO Success

Are you getting all you can out of your SEO, search engine optimization efforts, right now? Here is a quick checklist of the things you need to make your search engine optimization activities a success: 1. Provide great content. Offer your customers tips, insights and stories they can actually use. And be sure to use [...]

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Simple Ways to Be a Better Entrepreneur

Are you an entrepreneur who is stressed out about work and getting projects done on time? Check out these three, simple tips to help you get back on track… fast! 1. Work extra hours at strange times. If you are a morning person, try to get up one hour earlier and start working. If you [...]

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