21 things you should think about when starting your business

I suck at to-do lists. I use Apple’s Reminders app because it’s there and it’s easy and it syncs and does most of what I need it to do. But it’s clogged full of these disparate little notes that I don’t know where to stick. These are all things I’ve thought about or refined or learned and thought might make for a blog post or something some day.

So in order to clear them out, I’m dumping all of these little blurbs, questions, notes, thoughts, and ideas here for your delectation. Might be useful to you if you do advertising, web design, are starting your own business, or write a lot. You can add your own in the comments.

On Web Design & Development

  1. Make sure the search bars work.
  2. Why don’t websites tell stories?
  3. Write a “postmortem” after each website. Clear your head and say exactly what you’ve done, it’ll help you move forward for the next revision.

On Business

  1. Do not sell to people. Be a partner with them.
  2. Read trade magazines, articles, and publications for clients you work with. You’ll understand their problems better and you’ll be able to pre-empt problems, making you invaluable to them.
  3. Websites and other design collateral is an “investment”, so don’t use words like “cost” and “price”.
  4. You must internalize and become the project. Become your client. Use their products and services. If you do a site for a coffee shop, you’d better not drink Starbucks.
  5. Likewise, do not do work for clients you wouldn’t otherwise use or support.
  6. When giving a presentation, always say what’s on the screen. Do not deviate, otherwise people will hear one thing and read another and get confused. As a guide, use max 6 words per slide. Photos are better.
  7. Plan meetings around decisions, not people.

On Writing and Marketing

  1. Does the ad pass the “so what” test? As in, if I look at it and read it, do I say “So what?” If so, it failed.
  2. Do not write “what we do”, say what we, it, or this “will do for them”.
  3. Ad idea: “Have you ever wondered how…” “…your competitors can afford such a great XYZ?” or, “…you can get an X better than your competitors?”
  4. Ad idea: Show a big banner that says “Nothing is on sale!”
  5. Ad idea: “You spent years on your business idea. Maybe your website shouldn’t take an hour to throw together.”
  6. Ad idea: “I need a drink and a lot of life insurance.”
  7. Ad Idea: “Do you really want to live and die without tasting XYZ?”
  8. Don’t write about the thing you’re selling, write about whom you’re selling it to.
  9. Saying “You should like us on Facebook” increases likes more than just “Like us on Facebook”.
  10. Changing something like ‘Book Appointment’ to ‘Book Your Appointment’ or “Change Reservation” to “Change Your Reservation” increases engagement.
  11. Using odd-numbered lists, and lists in general, increases clicks to an article. Because you’re reading this, right?

About the author

Justin Harter

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