Lesson learned the hard way….

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Well…talk about a hard lesson learned. I had been providing call center services to an alleged non profit for several weeks. They provided community service online, a red flag I should have paid attention to, for a fee. They stated on their website they were 501(c) registered and accepted by the courts.

Right away I noticed that quite a few calls were from people who either were trying to get refunds cause their letters were denied by the courts (even though the website stated no letter had ever been rejected). This was the second red flag that I did notice, but was reluctant to admit cause the cash flow was needed. Then the other night a customer called and stated outright that the courts denied his letter cause the organization was not 501(c) registered, therefor not a non profit. This red flag I could not ignore.

So I did some research on the IRS website. I was able to gain the organizations EIN number from a PDF file they had of their original approval of 501(c) status from 2005. They were not listed as a current non profit by the IRS. I did a search by name and location on the IRS and again….nothing. Did a Google search and could not find them listed any where as a non profit.

Next I did some investigative work using WhoIs to gather information on the website I was representing. The owner of the website was not listed as the alleged non profit, the website had only been operation for 2 years, even though they stated they had been opened since 2005. Seemed nothing they state on their website was true.

I immediately terminated my contract with this organization. I would not risk being involved when the repercussions of providing false community service letters is finally discovered by the authorities.

Moral of the story here. Do some research on clients BEFORE you enter into a contract with them. If I did not catch this when I did, it could have ended very badly for my business and myself personally.

And yes, I did report them for being a scam.

ugh….collecting on unpaid invoices

Need more of this?

Need more of this?

This has to be one of the most nerve wracking parts of owning a business. When you complete a job for someone and they do not pay you on time. I understand that the economy is still getting on its feet, but causing me to have a cash flow problem isn’t going to help any. At least contact me and explain to me the situation. I would be willing to work with my client if they would just TALK to me. Setting up a payment plan is better than collection nothing. Right?

Anyways…here are some sites I found on collecting on unpaid invoices:

Hopefully if you find yourself in a similar position as I am in now, then these articles will help you get some resolution.

Update…

I know I have been slacking on keeping up on this blog. But, it has been for good reason. Business has been increasing. I now have 2 ongoing contracts providing customer service via telephone. The steady income helps to take the pressure off. Hoping to secure some virtual assistant contracts by the end of next week.

Also found a way to host a business website free for 1 year. Is is provided by Intuit and includes domain registration. So RI Business Solutions is now online at http://www.ribusinesssolutions.com. Actually found it by accident while researching EIN numbers.

I have started the process of interviewing graphics designers to team up with. Hoping to start providing the new service by June 1. Having the additional service category should help increase job traffic.

Overall I am very pleased with how things are progressing. I will be scheduling time 3 times a week to work on the blog now. So posts will still be a little slower coming, but I need to focus on growing the business for now.

Best of luck to all my followers on your endeavors.

Limited Budget, Do You Start With SEO or PPC?

Chris Jones

In my role as an Internet Marketing Consultant for SearchQuest I speak to many small and medium sized businesses which are often start ups or less than a year old. A question I’m often asked from these businesses is something along the lines of ” I don’t have the budget to do both SEO and PPC, which do you think I should do?”

Now this is a difficult question to answer and for many businesses there isn’t a right answer, whereas with some businesses its fairly obvious that PPC won’t really work for them, SEO by the way is something that all businesses should do. Now the businesses that both SEO and PPC would work for I detail the advantages and disadvantages of both and let them make their own decision and which they choose depends on if their business needs instant results or whether they can muddle through…

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Pivot Point

A pivot is a “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth (WikiPedia- Lean Startup). It seems my business has made a pivot point on its own. I started out hoping to provide virtual assistance to small business owners, but it seems that providing customer service is my new market niche.

It doesn’t really bother me too much. Long as my business is growing then I am happy. I will be up to 2 contracts providing this service. I seem to be good at it and hope to hire my first employee in the next 60 days.

So I ask that you examine your own small businesses. Are you at a point in your business where a change in direction would be benefical? Maybe the signs that a change is already there, but you are fighting the idea cause it doesn’t “fit into your image”. My point is that you need to be flexible with your business. Be ready to change and follow the growth, wherever it may take you. Do not be afraid of change, sometimes you need to embrace it and learn from it. So take a good look at your business….you may find a gem in their someplace.

Difficult Clients….

Dealing With Difficult Clients

Some clients got you looking like this guy??

I understand that sometimes people will be hard to deal with. Seems no matter how much you think you understand what they are asking of you, you get it wrong. These people never seem to be satisfied and just constantly change their minds. How do you deal with these clients??

Here are some tips:

  1. Remain calm and try not to take it personally.
  2. Listen carefully so you can repeat the clients needs back to him/her.
  3. Only say sorry once and include as part of a full sentence.
  4. Empathize with the clients and show that you understand their position.
  5. Summarize everything at the end of each exchange with the client.

Granted…you will still get that occasionally client that just will not be satisfied. You may just have to refuse work from that type of client in the future to save yourself the aggravation. The amount of stress generated from that one client can affect the work you complete for other clients. That can start a horrible snowball effect that will not end well.

For some more tips visit:

Don’t Hire People Who Are Afraid To Fail‏

Jack Welch On How to Manage Employees

Employees do make the company. Without the support to provide a quality product or service a business will fail quickly.

What To Consider When Choosing A SEO Company

Chris Jones

A question I am asked from prospective clients virtually every day in my role as a SEO Consultant for SearchQuest is “why should I choose you?” or “how are you different from the other SEO companies?”

SEO Consultants

It can be a daunting task for a business to choose a SEO company or a SEO consultant especially if they have no knowledge of it or if they have not used a SEO company or consultant before. What can sound fantastic over the phone from a salesman can often lead you to a ruined online business a few months down the road.

As choosing the right company is obviously a difficult problem for many businesses I will detail some of the things to look out for and some questions to ask to help you in the selection process.

The first thing to decide is whether or not you would like a local company that you…

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Next Step…

So I secured a steady cash flow of income. Now…where do I go from here? Do I secure my own domain name instead of using my http://riwebsolutions.vacau.com address? Or do I purchase some newer equipment? I could also upgrade my free WordPress to Premium. There is just so many different ways I could use this money.

I have been trying to break things down. Most of my revenue has been originating from using Elance. Web traffic to my website has been pretty much nil. I do rank on page 2 for local searches of business service providers in RI. But I feel I should focus on increasing my website’s visibility once I secure my own domain name.

I read an article called “5 Essential Principles For Growing Your Small Business”. A key point he raised was branding. Branding a business service company is sorta difficult. I understand the process of branding, but haven’t decided on how to do the branding.

So…anybody have any insight?

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