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If we spend enough time playing all the free offers, is it possible to get a complete free site to help a new business get off its feet?
Well, the truth is, YES! There are some MAJOR issues to consider up front, however.
The primary areas of danger with this approach include fine print disputes, permanent loss of e-mail address usability, and runaway unauthorized credit card charges. and we hear about new tricks or angles being used all the time.
With so many free offers, why is it that some reputable businesses are paying thousands of dollars for their websites? Where is the middle ground?
Start with your business plan, no matter how formal or informal it is. What are the goals or overall intent of the business? The most important elements that MUST be present in a business plan, or else it isn't a viable plan, include WHY the market would choose your product or service over the others available, WHO that market is, HOW you're going to reach them. If the primary objective of your company is the generate a bottom line profit, then somewhere in your plan, you've probably considered things such as selling more units vs. selling at higher cost per unit, or increasing number in customer-base vs. increasing customer frequency. Consider YOUR business approach, mix it with YOUR market, and very often a much more effective and targeted application for a small business website makes itself apparent.
You can obviously get a lot more detailed and specific with a business plan, and there are several success stories that don't include a business plan at all - (HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED).
If you go to the hardware store to buy tools to finish a job, of course you consider the intended finished product up front, determine what tools are needed for its completion, and then blame any mistakes on the mysterious disappearing directions if you need to. Well, same thing here; Figure out what tools you need. A website may fill many of them, or it might not be able to address any - either way you wouldn't be creating a business expense - yet rather implementing a powerful tool of commerce.
About the Author
Chairman, Georgia New Business Association; Founder, Network for the Advancement of Local Artists; Web Developer, Southern Sites
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