Why This Blog is Called Big Satchurday

Personal Opinion

This blog may turn into something else. I mean I have other sites where I offer my products and services, so what’ll I do with Big Satchurday?

Just so you know, I call it Big Satchurday because my lovely mother Ruby, who is from Jamaica, has always since I can remember called Saturdays, Big Saturday.

She says it in a Jamaican accent and it’s beautiful and it’s always accompanied by a complaint. She’s ususally trying to something like

Look, it’s the most important leisure day of the week, and seriously are you trying to say that nothing’s happening today????!

She kind of sums all of that sentiment up when she looks at me and says “Big Satchurday and that’s what you’re doing???”, or “Big Satchurday and this is all I get for dinner???”.

My blog is homage to my mother, who having had me very late in life is now in her 90s. She is proof though that it’s never too late. She’s starting an online business. Selling advocado trees.

Fifty and Redundant – in a Recession

Two People at Fifty

A couple of people that I know recently took voluntary redundancy at the age of fifty.

One is a good friend, Jane, who’d worked as a company director for many years. She had a highly paid job that demanded blood, sweat, tears and practically all of her time. Jane handled projects with budgets in excess of £10 million, and a working life that caused her high levels of stress alongside all the day to day issues that running a team of almost 100 people entails.

Jane knew exactly what she was doing when she finally told her company she was leaving. She took to her voluntary redundancy very well and has entered carefully into her second career with everything pre-planned.

The other person, Dick, took redundancy by leaving a job he enjoyed, because the opportunity presented itself and because he could.  Dick did this at a time when the world economy was in turmoil, and with no discernible plans to replace his income. He has recently become quite disagreeable (possibly he always was – I am not sure) and given to fits of temper possibly due to a build-up of anger and resentment.

These two people represent both ends of the redundancy reaction spectrum. Which one would you rather be and what can you do when you find yourself with a lump sum of money and no job in middle age?

Start Your Own Business?

Many people with redundancy money in their pockets will think about starting a business. Jane certainly has already done this.  I am in the process of helping her to set up her website to make sure she gets off to a good start.  But for many people, starting something new and from scratch may be too big a step to take.

I think that any person starting a business on their own, needs the support of a website. I further think that the best way to achieve the kind of website that will be of practical help to a new entrepreneur must be understood, controlled and maintained (if not created) by the entrepreneur.

I talk about this in so many other posts that I won’t repeat my reasons why here.  Suffice to say, there usually isn’t the money in the budget at business startup to spend the amounts required to get the job done professionally and effectively.

New Business Hurdles

The lack of a good and appropriate website solution can be the downfall of many new businesses. Some think they can get a good website cheaply by using a service like Mr Site.

Others think they can get a friend or relative to do the site for free. For many people this will ultimately be a short cut to getting nowhere online.

But the website is only one aspect of a new business start-up. What about business planning, market research, company setup, accountants, bank accounts, logos, business cards, outsourcing, office space, personal tax, company tax, vat, employees, transport, marketing online, marketing offline, trade shows, suppliers, equipment, public relations, grants, office practice, innovation, computer skills, technology, writing skills, answering services, motivation, self-belief, and the all important, cash-flow?

If you think it all sounds like too much to think about, you could consider one of the large number of franchises that take much of the start-up pain away.

There are advantages and disadvantages to franchising, but the franchise concept helps a new business survive most of the hurdles listed above.

Advantages of a Franchise

  • Banks (used to -but who knows in the current climate) lend to franchisees more willingly as they see the business as a proven business.
  • You get a brand name with all trade marks
  • You get ongoing advice and training
  • Your business is a proven idea and you just add hard work
  • You’ll probably get all equipment and support
  • Normally there will be a territory and you’ll get exclusive rights to that area
  • You have a customer base – normally the franchise will not be offered unless the franchisor has  already researched the area and the chances for success are good.
  • You will have suppliers already set up.

Disadvantages of a Franchise

  • The costs to purchase the franchise may be higher than you were expecting
  • Other franchisees could give your brand a bad name
  • It could be a difficult business to sell – the franchisor may have to approve who you sell to.
  • There may be additional rules that you will have to adhere to under the terms of your contract with your franchisor.

A good franchise will offer you a business blueprint, and although you’ll still have to work hard, it is a good way to start a business with excellent earning potential and a clear way to maximise your chances of success.

If the idea appeals to you could start at the British Franchise Association.

One good thing about franchising for the technically challenged, is you could end up with an online business, without having to get involved with creating a website at all.

My Thoughts on Adwords

Adwords is not something I particulary like using.

I mean the price you have to pay per click for popular terms is just too high, so you end up looking for the more unusual, long tail terms, which is theory should enjoy a better success rate (you can tailor your landing page to the exact search term matched and so more easily convert the visitor).

But people I think have become used to the sites that appear in the natural searches (left hand side of Google page) are richer in content than those that only appear on the right hand side, or the top, where the sponsored links area is located. My friend Davina, who has just ventured out onto the web with a little brochure site (and has yet to realise she needs to spend more for the web to work for her) asked me a question about Adwords yesterday. She figured that maybe paying for people to come to her brochure site would be a good idea. 

This is what I said. Just my opinion of course.

Hi Dav

I (personally) don’t believe in using Adwords based on the way I advocate web site building. I’ll explain and you can then decide if Adwords suits you.

To get the best out of Adwords  you would need to spend a considerable amount of time learning the techniques to use with Adwords – probably 2 – 3 days of your time, or pay someone who really knows how to do it to set it up for you. I do it for one of my clients as he insists on using it.  It costs him £200 per month and even though I have proved to him that we are getting 95% of sales from the natural search engines and that only a few sales come from his £200 adwords spend per month, but he still keeps it.  I guess the £200 spend must make financial sense to him.  However the reason we have been able to get sales from natural search is because we have put so much effort into growing his site with quality content.

Adwords can be a solution for people who don’t see the value in working on their web sites to get their ranking up in the natural search results.  You pay every time someone clicks, but they may not buy. If the site owner does not want to improve his site significantly over time in order to get it into the rankings naturally, it means their site is going to be no more than a brochure site – fairly empty – i.e. not worth anyone coming to.

So you pay to get someone to click, then they get to the site, find it wanting – lean on information, hardly anything to see or read, so they leave. So my view, is unless you are selling something that only requires only or two pages to get people’s attention (some unbelievable offer), Adwords is a waste of money.

Adwords works well if you have a brilliant site (loads of information, features, articles etc) and you have massive competition from competitors where you  cannot rank well in the search engines because their web sites are even better than yours.  And if you have a product that makes you a lot of money. Then you can maybe afford to outbid your competitors on pay per click, but you’ll be paying in excess of £1 per click on popular phrases.

The only way to pay less is to bid on unpopular phrases. Which means you’ll catch the people who type in tangential search terms to your main search term. This is where the expertise in setting up adwords comes into it.

People searching online want information – they only ever visit a site to solve a problem and a site with only a few pages can’t in itself solve a problem so they go onto one that will give them the free info they need. This translates into you having to give away lots of free information all the time. When people see this and they find they have hundreds of pages to search for what they need to know, they start to trust you, Google starts to index you naturally and you end up being an authority on your niche. 

So yes – you can use adwords, but it would be a waste of money, in your case, at this point in time.  If however you have some sort of free voucher you can try it for yourself and see.

Computers – Not Exactly Like Vaccum Cleaners

A Hard DiskSometimes I wonder why people new to computing get so confused. Why they have this huge expectation that computers should just work. And for this, I blame Microsoft.

There are lots of reasons some technical people dislike Microsoft and it’s not for me to discuss that.

I don’t mean to address the arguments about Microsoft being an evil empire and Open Source being the answer to everything.

I mean the day Microsoft introduced the idea of the My Documents folder (My Pictures and others) in Windows 95, and more recently, the concept of the just plain old Documents and Pictures folder in Vista.

Doing this has just added to the mystery of the C:\ drive, a place already pretty shrouded in folklore for the average new computer user. And why euphanise something like a disk drive and try to make it sound like a filing cabinet? Folders? Whatever.

Folders are a STUPID analogy as, in an office, you rarely place a folder inside another folder, and then place those inside another. This means people miss the point of a good directory structure altogether.

You try telling a new user to find something on the C:\ drive. They can’t navigate their way around the disk because Microsoft tried to make it too easy. This dummy approach to computing means people are allowed to get away with not having the faintest idea where things are. Software now makes a guess at where you want to put a file (sorry a document). A user doesn’t have to even make an attempt at thinking, not until that is an hour later when they can’t find the damn thing.

Some users never really get onto using a computer properly as they spend most of their time wondering where on earth stuff is. Then of course they blame the computer as in, “Stupid computer lost my document”. I sometimes wonder how some users can be so arrogant about something they know so little about.

And that’s just the disk. There are those just just don’t get what software is for either. They don’t get that software is designed to do a specific job or a number of very closely related jobs. That’s Microsoft’s fault as well. It started when they thought that letting MS Word generate web pages would be a good idea. There are now people who think that Word can also make a nice hot cup of tea. Word can generate web pages but there are better tools for the job.

When you think about the complexity that lies behind an average computer, the layers upon layers of meaning, the encoding, millions of person-hours of work that have gone into it, it’s a wonder they work at all.

My First Lens on Squidoo

My Lens on squidooOn a non-technical note, I have just put up my first Squidoo Lens.

I didn’t know what to write so I randomly chose 10 things that I really like, from the hundreds of things I like, to highlight. So it is a pretty random lens.

Squidoo is pretty addictive and I can see I will be doing more lens there as I think up new topics to write about. You should give it a go yourself. The site was set by, amongst others, Seth Godin.

It is an addition to blogging, not a replacement, and can perhaps be a way for you speak in detail about something off-topic from should you be running a very topic focussed blog or web site.

Please take a look at it here : My First Squidoo Lens