By Judy Wogoman
We used to have playful black Lab named Sid. His favorite game was "break the chain and then play tag." He would wait for the Person to get within a few feet, then run. Just far enough. He could play for hours.
The conclusion of each game would occur when Somebody went to the store for a stronger chain. Stronger and stronger until he finally had a heavy duty log chain. Did that stop him? Nope. He broke the smaller link that fastened the chain to his collar, and was off and running . . .
Katie is my two-year-old granddaughter. Murder on clothes. One loose thread and she begins tugging and picking at it and before you know it, the outfit is in pieces.
What do Sid and Katie have to do with "Business as Usual?"
Point One. Your business is only as strong as its weakest part.
Point Two. Little things can cause big problems.
Part of the great adventure of Internet marketing is rapid change. The opening of new opportunities. But rapid change brings other challenges as well, especially if you are using free services and resources.
The Powers That Be are getting impatient with the "free" model. It's one thing to do a free search on Yahoo --thanks for making my job easier, guys--but I'm NOT going to be so GRATEFUL for the free search that I'm going to buy a $20,000 truck from a stranger through one of your banner ads.
And after I've USED the free search for Months (or YEARS), I'm NOT going to start paying for it. Especially when there are other places I can search for free.
Now maybe if you Continue to offer the Free search, and add a "Premium" enhanced search for a fee, well, then, that's different. You're giving me something of greater value that I just might agree to pay for.
If you've done your homework. If the paid service is worth the price.
Meanwhile, I'm concerned with being able to do Business as Usual. And disrupting my business by suddenly discontinuing my free service isn't going to do one blessed thing to encourage me to do paid business with you.
Duh. That should be obvious. But apparently, it isn't. I can gripe about THAT issue for pages. That won't change the fact that it's happening. What I CAN do is develop a "plan B" and try to have backup systems in place ahead of time. Will it always work? No. We can't anticipate Everything and Some things are beyond our control. But you can use the following checklist to guide your Own "plan B".
__You. If you get sick or injured, what happens to your business? To some extent, it will keep on if you've set up some "automatic" systems. But eventually, Somebody has to deal with the emails, prepare and send the newsletter, answer the inquiries. Who?
__Computer. If you don't own a second computer, what will you do if/when your system crashes? Some free alternatives: library, local college, work (not on company time, though) friend, relative.
__ISP. What if your ISP goes down? (Think it can't happen? What about the DSL subscribers who were left out in the cold when their provider shut down?) Same free alternatives as above, provided they're on a different ISP.
__Email. I thought I had THIS one figured. Use a web-based email that can be accessed from anywhere--an established name--great services. Lesson: don't get too complacent. For the last few weeks I've been scrambling to recover. Wish I'd "bit the bullet" and installed the .cgi mailer back BEFORE web-based email and Outlook/Hotmail proved less than dependable!
__Website. Ok, you've got a host you're happy with. Might be a good idea to back up your website to disk, maybe even have an alternate host you can switch over to if needed. Don't stop backing up because the first few months went so well :-(
__Files. We all KNOW we're supposed to back up our files, but do we? Instead of feeling guilty because you didn't back up EVERYTHING, decide which files are critical: address books, customer records, ad tracking, articles, ebooks. Hard copy, floppy, zip disk, online storage. There is NO such thing as too many backups of essential business info. ALWAYS keep more than one backup, preferably one YOU control.
__Passwords. What's the point of having a password if you have the site (or the nosy little green guy) "remember" it for you? Two suggestions: 1) Either develop a password "system" or 2) Keep a password notebook. A small inexpensive address book can be tucked under your keyboard or in a desk drawer and avoid the following.
Email one. Lost password.
Email two No problem. Here's your secret question.
Email three. Answer.
Email four. Wrong.
Email five. What do you mean wrong? That's the answer. Maybe the spacing or the case is different but that is the answer.
Email six. Wrong. But we will mail your password to the address you registered.
Email seven. But I told you six months ago, I moved.
Email eight. We will telephone you at (xxx)xxx-xxxx to confirm your new address.
Email nine. That's the OLD phone number. The new one is (xxx)xxx-xxxx.
Email ten. How do we know it's really you and not an evil hacker.
Email eleven. Because the hacker would already HAVE the password by now. My address is posted on my website at http://www.me.com. Or you may telephone the following references:
Email twelve. Your password has been sent.
Email thirteen. THANK you.
IMPORTANT (Depending on your work habits and preferences)
__Printer. They can talk about paperless offices all they want. I'm still old-fashioned enough to like a hard copy in the file. Easier to edit, too.
__Scanner. Also handy for light-duty copying.
__Digital camera. If you're selling PRODUCTS, you need PICTURES.
__Peripherals. I have extras of keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Has anybody besides me noticed that ANY soft drink spilled ANYWHERE in the home office will probably end up inside the keyboard? NOTE: If you disregard the advice to have a backup and Mountain Dew disables the letter "e", you can either use ALT+0101 or "copy" and "paste" until you can get to the computer store. It's Less aggravating to keep a spare keyboard on hand.
"Business as Usual" will always include an occasional crisis. You just have to deal with it as it happens. But it's good to know that the critical systems have backup plans in place. Just in case. The Sids and Katies might be somewhat predictable. Other things aren't. Oh, and let me add one more thing to the "critical" list if you have a dial-up connection: telephone wire.
We just got this new black Lab puppy and apparently the phone wire "chew toy" was very tasty . . .
©2001 by Judy Wogoman, publisher, NetNuggetz Newsletter 25 FREE Biz resources, original content every week, free ads for subscribers [email protected]?subject=subscribeSid