When you start a small business today, you must choose a few essential service providers to help you thrive. Most of these will operate in the background; your business itself will be the star on center stage. However, the quality of the service provided by the companies you choose will determine whether your version of “center stage” is the equivalent of a hit Broadway production or the local third-grade class play.
Let’s examine a few of the services you’ll want to employ.
Website Design & Maintenance
In a world where you can go to any number of template website platforms and set up your own website with relatively minimal investment, why would you go out and hire a company to build you something from the ground up? Are we trying to reinvent the wheel? But here’s the deal: Yes, template websites work fine for a lot of small businesses. However, there are many reasons why you’d want a custom solution and a company to maintain it. A website built specifically for the needs of your business is more likely to fit like a tailor-made dress, whereas a template website will be like a one-size-fits-all t-shirt. That hand-built website is going to come alive with your branding and functionality requirements intertwined in its every fiber, and that is why talented designers and webmasters will always have more work than they need.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This one goes hand in hand with website design and maintenance, although sometimes your SEO provider will be different from the people who build and maintain your website. The services of a quality, reputable SEO firm are important because they will help you gain customers through your beautiful, functional website. The chain of events would look like this:
- Jill Customer in Seattle decides she needs a widget. What a coincidence! You sell widgets, and you’re in Seattle! But Jill doesn’t know this.
- Jill takes out her phone and opens a browser window. Into a search engine, she types a query: “Seattle widgets.”
- From the first few query results, Jill ultimately selects one company and decides to buy her widgets from them.
The purpose of the SEO company in this scenario is to take your website, which was previously (before you hired them) nowhere to be found in Jill’s search query results, and get it into those top few slots–giving you a fighting chance to win her business.
The purpose of the Website Design & Maintenance providers you choose is to influence Jill’s decision by making sure your website is the one she decides is most appropriate to her hunt for widgets.
Physical Plant Services
Depending on the nature of your occupation, the location of your business, and the terms of purchase or lease for your office, you may or may not be responsible for some or all of the following services: janitorial, custodial, security, maintenance, drinking water supply, vending machine maintenance, and so on. If you are responsible for your own physical plant services, you may want to spend the time to shop around before settling on the lowest bid. In an ideal scenario, you would have friends with similar needs who could recommend their favorite service providers, but you may need to provide your own due diligence.
Additional Office Services
Given the options available, it sometimes seems so much easier to operate a small business today than it did twenty years ago. You can lease equipment, utilize software as a service (SaaS), and choose smart technology solutions. Your day-to-day life as a business owner can be focused with laser precision on the mission of your company, with less interruption from the distractions of day-to-day operations management. In fact, you may even be able to outsource that operations management. The key to finding satisfactory service is diligence upfront. Research, prepare for contingencies, and follow up with performance reviews on a quarterly basis, and you’re likely to find this side of business ownership less difficult than you may have imagined.