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Thread: How's everyone doing? Business slow? Good?

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    Default How's everyone doing? Business slow? Good?

    I'm normally not the "business sucks" kind of poster around here, but things are getting a little hairy lately.

    I've noticed it for the last 2-3 months and now I'm getting a little concerned.
    Seems like it was looking up for a while, at least consistent and then it's like the bottom just dropped out.
    I'm used to temporary ups and downs, but this one is lasting a little long for my tastes and none of my tried and true methods of getting exposure are working to generate more business and I don't have the budget, or see the possibility of return to start spending money I don't have.

    Is it just me? Am I going through some kind of 2 year itch that businesses go through?

    It's not that I'm not talking to people, it's just that they don't have the money. The people I sub for are taking cheaper clients and are asking me to lower my rates. My monthly arrangements are consistently 10-20 days late and are complaining that they can't afford it anymore, and that their businesses are struggling.

    Even older clients that seemed to have been doing well are now saying the same things, and they are all in different industries, different states and some are in different countries. I have 2 clients in Greece and Ireland that are just screwed and another in the Bahamas that seemed to drop from the face of the earth...without paying.

    I don't want to have a complaint fest, but if it's just me then I'll know it's just me.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 06-14-2011 at 04:49 PM.

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    Well, my coaching business has been at a low level for quite some time now, but then I don't do anything to promote it. (Tinkering around with my website hardly counts - that's more for the fun of seeing what will happen if I do this or that.) But our pet grooming and boarding business hasn't been overly affected by anything other than a hot summer - this time of the year is usually slow for grooming, although the boarding side is definitely strong, which tells me people in Houston are still taking vacations.

    The only thing that might indicate for you, Harold, is chase up any old clients in the travel industry, or try there if you have none.

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    I'm in Vegas and travel isn't exactly booming here. I think it's up like maybe 2% from this time last year which was down 20%. The only people I see traveling are my grown friends that are going back home to live with their parents. Not exactly the motivation that I was looking for.

    I have been reaching out to local contacts, but there really isn't anything happening. Everyone is talking "Sure we still want to do something, but it will probably be a few months before we can spend anything".

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    I think it depends on the industry. Some have been hurting for some time. Personally, my business is booming! I have increased sales and profit dramatically the last couple months and things look great. I am happy I found a slight niche though that gives me a little advantage.

    Are you a web design professional? I saw your site links in your sig and assumed it. Have you changed your marketing plans at all to attract new customers? Expanded services? Maybe gone back to previous ones to try and get re-work or referrals? I have had a few companies come to me where they had similar situations and we had to find some pretty creative ways to get them out of their rough patch. Sometimes it just takes a new set of eyes or approach at something or maybe going for a different demographic.
    Tyler Hutchinson
    CEO at Full Circle Business Consulting
    HTTP://www.fullcirclebusinessconsulting.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by eborg9 View Post
    ... I have been reaching out to local contacts, but there really isn't anything happening. Everyone is talking "Sure we still want to do something, but it will probably be a few months before we can spend anything".
    Something I'm sure is not going to appeal to you, judging from comments elsewhere, but I'll mention it anyway - Try and get some of that work to do now with the promise of future payment. I'm telling my wife this all the time, but even more so - do work for free (grooming, in her case) when you have no paying work.

    Here's the logic. If you have no work, you have no income. If you do work for free, you still have no income but you at least were working. You get to experiment and learn new stuff. You help out a customer who cannot afford you right now, and maybe turn them into a loyal customer. If you have no work, watch television or groom a dog for free. They pay the same, but what would you rather do? watch television or do the job you enjoy? And learn something...and try out a new technique...and make a loyal customer.

    Sure, there are penty of reasons not to do this, but if you are getting no income, you might as well do the thing you enjoy most. And if you are in the right business, what you enjoy the most is what you do for a living. Even if the pay is zero for the moment, you can leverage it into some benefit. In your case, Harold, go create a free website for a local charity of some sort. Start creating what those clients want, who think they'd have something for you in a few months. Do the work now and collect in a few months - or not. Even if they don't pay you, you are no worse off than watching television and getting paid nothing. You might actually get paid.
    Last edited by Spider; 06-14-2011 at 09:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    Are you a web design professional? I saw your site links in your sig and assumed it. Have you changed your marketing plans at all to attract new customers? Expanded services? Maybe gone back to previous ones to try and get re-work or referrals? I have had a few companies come to me where they had similar situations and we had to find some pretty creative ways to get them out of their rough patch. Sometimes it just takes a new set of eyes or approach at something or maybe going for a different demographic.
    Yeah. I've never stopped doing any of that. Maybe I've been to comfortable with the referrals. Referrals were off the hook, and they still are but now I'm just getting more people that don't have the money.
    It's hit and miss. The clients I do have are growing businesses or start ups and they pay the price and pay on time. However, the referrals from those jobs seem to be different than from the original client.

    I don't know. Seems like it's just a rough patch, and maybe I've been listening to too many clients lately who are struggling. But the last 2 months have been completely different from the 12 months before it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    Something I'm sure is not going to appeal to you, judging from comments elsewhere, but I'll mention it anyway - Try and get some of that work to do now with the promise of future payment. I'm telling my wife this all the time, but even more so - do work for free (grooming, in her case) when you have no paying work.

    Here's the logic. If you have no work, you have no income. If you do work for free, you still have no income but you at least were working. You get to experiment and learn new stuff. You help out a customer who cannot afford you right now, and maybe turn them into a loyal customer. If you have no work, watch television or groom a dog for free. They pay the same, but what would you rather do? watch television or do the job you enjoy? And learn something...and try out a new technique...and make a loyal customer.

    Sure, there are penty of reasons not to do this, but if you are getting no income, you might as well do the thing you enjoy most. And if you are in the right business, what you enjoy the most is what you do for a living. Even if the pay is zero for the moment, you can leverage it into some benefit. In your case, Harold, go create a free website for a local charity of some sort. Start creating what those clients want, who think they'd have something for you in a few months. Do the work now and collect in a few months - or not. Even if they don't pay you, you are no worse off than watching television and getting paid nothing. You might actually get paid.
    It's not that I don't have any paying work. It's just not enough right now. I've already volunteered time and money helping charitable sites. I actually do that frequently when one comes my way. If I were doing nothing, I wouldn't count that out, but I do have projects to get done so I can't really justify spending time doing free work right now and I'll be honest, I don't have the motivation to work late into the evening to do free work for people.

    Here's the problem with free work and deeply discounted work. They don't take you seriously, or respect your time. Free or deeply discounted work always bites me in the ass. Whether it be becuase it takes up too much time that I need to spend on paying clients, or that they refer you to people as "cheap" and even when they are doing better, they still have an aversion to paying full price for future work. Once people are in the habit of not paying you, it's impossible to get them to pay the real costs. I already have a couple of people like that now and I don't need anymore. I'm still waiting for those to pay off in the way of a decent referral.

    Rarely have I done a favor for someone that generally appreciated it. Besides. Stuff costs money. Free work isn't free if I have to come out of pocket to complete the project.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 06-14-2011 at 10:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eborg9 View Post
    It's not that I don't have any paying work. It's just not enough right now. I've already volunteered time and money helping charitable sites. I actually do that frequently when one comes my way. If I were doing nothing, I wouldn't count that out, but I do have projects to get done so I can't really justify spending time doing free work right now and I'll be honest, I don't have the motivation to work late into the evening to do free work for people.

    Here's the problem with free work and deeply discounted work. They don't take you seriously, or respect your time. Free or deeply discounted work always bites me in the ass. Whether it be becuase it takes up too much time that I need to spend on paying clients, or that they refer you to people as "cheap" and even when they are doing better, they still have an aversion to paying full price for future work. Once people are in the habit of not paying you, it's impossible to get them to pay the real costs. I already have a couple of people like that now and I don't need anymore. I'm still waiting for those to pay off in the way of a decent referral.

    Rarely have I done a favor for someone that generally appreciated it. Besides. Stuff costs money. Free work isn't free if I have to come out of pocket to complete the project.
    Have you tried this approach: offer free basic designs to companies. And then say to add these features it costs this much? If i was offered a free basic site I would take it, but then say I need options A, B, and C I would then be willing to pay for it to add to the site.

    On the bottom of the sites you do, do you put your company info to get publicity off the sites you do work? That is another good way for web designers. Kind of basic but a lot of companies actually do not do this? And it seems like you may stay local. Do you do national work a lot? Staying local is probably not the best approach.

    Or to your point of most people do not take into consideration your time and effort, have you adjusted your advertisement to say things like 5 hours off design. $250 value. Only $250 for basic page. This shows several things. The normal cost, a discounted cost to attract business, and a sense of the time it generally takes! This is a psychological approach to attract business and helps put in that value of the importance of your time.

    Or have you tried offering discounts for referrals. Give your customers a coupon to give to their connections so that if that company offers you that coupon they get a discount off. That helps encourage people to reffer you. Or personally I do reverse referrals. Say you do work for company A first. They refer company B to you, I reward company A (the referee) with the discount on future work with NO limitation! This will encourage the referee to give your name out since it will benefit them directly!

    And doing free work is not always a waste of time and spending nights wasting time. It may be free to help one company, but who knows they may know companies that ARE willing to pay for it. I just did a $10,000 project for free just for the good publicity and the good referrals that may come from it.

    These are just a few approaches I take when I get into a slump and need a bump back into getting business. One thing that stinks about relying on referrals, they sometimes will stop! Find new ways to get referrals, or go back to basics and create a creative and original marketing campaign. Have you tried marketing on Linkdin. I get a ton of work off their since you can get a lot of B2B connections. Find me on there and I'll give you a shout out to my connects.
    Tyler Hutchinson
    CEO at Full Circle Business Consulting
    HTTP://www.fullcirclebusinessconsulting.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    Have you tried this approach: offer free basic designs to companies. And then say to add these features it costs this much? If i was offered a free basic site I would take it, but then say I need options A, B, and C I would then be willing to pay for it to add to the site.
    Sounds good in theory and some designers do this with offering free hosting, free domain registration and so on. I don't know anyone ( single man shops) that practices this and is still in business. Actually I have picked up quite a few clients that got their sites through deals like this and now the person who did the site is nowhere to be found so they called me.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    On the bottom of the sites you do, do you put your company info to get publicity off the sites you do work? That is another good way for web designers. Kind of basic but a lot of companies actually do not do this?
    Of course. That's 101.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    And it seems like you may stay local. Do you do national work a lot? Staying local is probably not the best approach.
    I have very few local clients. The only one's I do have are friends or referrals from friends.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    Or to your point of most people do not take into consideration your time and effort, have you adjusted your advertisement to say things like 5 hours off design. $250 value. Only $250 for basic page. This shows several things. The normal cost, a discounted cost to attract business, and a sense of the time it generally takes! This is a psychological approach to attract business and helps put in that value of the importance of your time.
    No. I don't advertise discount. Cheap. Or any other words like that. My whole approach is in getting the phone to ring. If I get them on the phone and there is a sale to be made, I'll make it. Usually the amount of time it takes to get a single user website done ( meaning not a network or community) is longer because of the client. I can't do discount because I can't control how long it takes them to get it together. Everyone wants it done next week, but most people end up taking 3 weeks to get you everything that you need about their own company. I'd be willing to do more sites for less money if the clients didn't take a 10 day job and turn it into a 3 week job.

    That's the one thing that sucks about this business. People are the hold up. I used to hear all kinds of stories about web designers taking months to get a job done and then I started doing it and found out that it's the client that slows everything down. A discount becomes a waste of time and money if it takes 2 months to complete.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    Or have you tried offering discounts for referrals. Give your customers a coupon to give to their connections so that if that company offers you that coupon they get a discount off. That helps encourage people to reffer you. Or personally I do reverse referrals. Say you do work for company A first. They refer company B to you, I reward company A (the referee) with the discount on future work with NO limitation! This will encourage the referee to give your name out since it will benefit them directly!
    All of the work I have right now is referrals. Never had a problem in that area. Business is just really slow right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    And doing free work is not always a waste of time and spending nights wasting time. It may be free to help one company, but who knows they may know companies that ARE willing to pay for it. I just did a $10,000 project for free just for the good publicity and the good referrals that may come from it.
    I'd probably never do that. It may mean that I won't do what ever it takes, but I would never give someone $10k worth of work. I will however partner with someone and do the web work for a stake in future profits if it is a good deal. But I'm sure you know that everyone and their mother has a good idea that just needs someone to build the website. Most times it's not a good or original idea. 50% of nothing is still nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerhutchinson View Post
    These are just a few approaches I take when I get into a slump and need a bump back into getting business. One thing that stinks about relying on referrals, they sometimes will stop! Find new ways to get referrals, or go back to basics and create a creative and original marketing campaign. Have you tried marketing on Linkdin. I get a ton of work off their since you can get a lot of B2B connections. Find me on there and I'll give you a shout out to my connects.
    I can agree that I need to do some new things. Not big on Linked In...lots of people looking to network and for free help, but not many with anything to offer or trade. And no referrals. At least that has been my experience. I do join up with all of my clients, but I can honestly say I spend more time deleting requests from Indian webmasters looking to spam me with SEO and "join my Social Network" offers than anything else I do on Linked In.

    My basic premise is simple and this may come from years of Bartending and driving a limo on the Vegas strip, but it's real simple: Serious customers have money and don't have a problem paying. The world is full of people that will "Take care of you later" and I only have room to trust so many of them in any given year. I can't make a business model out of that or I'm sure that I'll go completely under.

    I get enough people that "will have a lot of work for me" in the future but just need a discount now and most of them ( all of them) are full of BS just looking to get work done cheap from someone inside the U.S. so that they don't have to take a chance on the $5 offers on job boards from Indonesian webmasters with no address. You have to sidestep those people or they will run all over you. You have to have a relationship with people to know who is serious from who is playing stupid to get you to do cheap work.

    My prices aren't so high that a reasonable person looking for these specific services would be put off. In most cases I can work a deal to be very competitive if not cheaper. But once you get in the soup line and start begging for work and giving people who have the money free work, you will never get out and "taking care of you later" will never come.

    I said this when I started this venture, that if discounted or cheap work is the only way I can make it, then I'll either find a way to automate it or get out all together. So far I haven't had to work for Rupees.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 06-14-2011 at 11:12 PM.

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    I agree with you, Harold. I'm not suggesting discounting or going cheap, etc. Nor am I suggesting doing free work for people who are asking for free, or working late at nights to get a free job finished . I think I have given you the wrong impression.

    I am speaking strictly about doing what you enjoy doing. If you enjoy watching television more than making websites, then you are probably in the wrong business. If you enjoy making websites more than watching television, then make websites for people. Even if you earn nothing, you are no worse off than watching television for nothing (unless you have found a way to make money watching television!) and life has been more pleasant. Obviously, when a paying job comes along, the free job goes on the back-burner.

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