Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why Cookie Cutter Web Sites Are Bad Deals

Never believe marketing hype. This is my mantra when it comes to dealing with sales people. I research before I buy. I look at the brand name, quality and though I look for bargains I certainly don't jump onto something that is easily to good to be true.

That is why I hate cookie cutter web sites. E-bay even tells you because of the number of web sites sold on their auction site. Ezine @rticles also warns you of the same. Finally Search Engine Journal rounds up the disaster one gets in using the cookie cutter web site approach.

I like anyone else looked at ways to make money and I got caught in a similar scam for classified ad placements in newspapers. Let me tell you right here, right now, the only people who are really making money in this type of deal are the ones selling you the material in the first place.

The so called 10 free web sites deal has several restrictions. You have to use their designs, You have to follow their program etcetera and so on, blah blah blah. Oh and yeah they host the site on their servers, which means they control your content and traffic. Add to that even if people buy the products on your particular site they are actually paying you a small commission. The final point, the price of the product is set by them. You are NOT ALLOWED to run your own promotion pricing. Which leads to a final question, are you really running a business?

Then there are other factors to consider. Here in Texas in order to open a merchant account that allows you to take credit cards you must have a business license. This law, which was recently passed, was designed to stop on-line credit card scams and theft. To make this perfectly clear if you have a web site that takes credit cards you as the individual must obtain a Texas Tax Identification Number and separate business license. You can no longer use a corporate sponsor to simply take a credit card on-line on your behalf. The sponsor can still handle all aspects of the transaction but your business must be registered with the state of Texas. You as the individual business owner are responsible to make sure that all Sales Taxes collected get paid to the the State. That's a big obligation if the parent company suddenly goes belly up. (cutting off your income if you are somehow making any) leaving you holding the bag to pay for uncollected Sales Taxes.

Me personally, I would rather collect the sales taxes myself and make sure that Texas gets paid. Trust me I worked for one company that got in trouble for that. I have no desire to be on the receiving end of Susan Comb's wrath for failure to collect and pay my taxes. (I do not mean her personally but trust me her staff can make hornets look tame.)

Many states have a whole slew of laws concerning e-commerce alone. Bet your A** they enforce them. You need to know what laws you have to abide by in your state. Many a MLM company and individuals involved in said MLM are finding this out the hard way. Oh and guess what, you may have to follow more than one state's laws as well. You have to know any and all that can affect you.

Finally I will leave you with this from PEK INTERACTIVE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Open Letter To Open Source Developers And Distributors

Dear Developers and Distributors,

I am an advocate and user of Open Source Software, Specifically Ubuntu, in latest incarnation of Jaunty Jackalope 9.04.

In this particular case I am trying to use a scanner. Unfortunately I cannot access this scanner as a normal user, but I do have access as root. This means that all I have to do is give the user permission to access the scanner. Easily done, however, I have no information on how to do this anymore. The way scanners are accessed in Ubuntu has changed and there is no documentation on this.

It is vital to give your users this information so that they can have access to their hardware. Using xsane, or any scanner program, as root is a unsafe practice that I would rather not do.

I understand that software and systems have to mature but removing the 'scanner' group and changing how scanners are handled without giving the information needed to allow scanner access is simply bad support. If a user cannot access the hardware what use is it to them? Please in the future document such important information and disseminate it so that supported hardware can be used.

Shaun C. Marolf

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Building a Business - Growth by Communication

I have officially been in business just over a week. Though I still have many hurdles to get over things are going fairly well. I have two business clients and both are and will lead to even more clients.

Why am I already growing as a business in such a short time? Simple I follow the belief that the bottom line should never be the deciding factor in giving good customer support. If I have to take a loss here and there to be build a better more profitable business, so be it. The loss hurts, especially in the growing stage I am in. I have to get a lot of stuff taken care of and I still need to get the HeliOS Project here in Houston going. However finding, and keeping, clients is vital to all of that. Communication with my clients in every stage of their projects, and service support, is not only vital, its what will make HeliOS Solutions of Houston grow, and allow the HeliOS Project to start.

I cannot stress enough that good business means good communications. Your clients, like mine, want and need to know how you are doing on their project, not someone else's. In other words you need to not only need to work on each project, but all your projects.

Your work becomes a juggling act. You have to divide your time and make the customer think that their project is the most important one you're working on. While treating all projects on your work list equally. Its the never ending cycle.

In all of this you need to get with your client and demonstrate your progress and communicate what you have done, take their feedback, change requests and incorporate those as well.

Business isn't just producing a product and saying "Here it is." its also giving good support and communicating with your client, to produce a better business relationship.