The Initial Plan Case Study 1 Part 1

And so it begins…

The very first case study where I’ll be documenting everything that goes into creating, marketing and then growing, small business websites.

Having never created a small business website before, this whole thing is a journey into the unknown and I have a lot of questions,

  • How long will it take to create the website?
  • How long will it take to start getting potential customers to the website?
  • How am I going to get potential customers to the website? I’m guessing the main way will be Google, but is that all there is?
  • Will it even be worth all the time and money I’m going to put into this?
  • In fact, how much is all of this going to cost?

But hey, that’s what these case studies are all about, finding the answers to those questions.

This first post is going to be a bit of “insider baseball”, where I share some of the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes and lay out my initial plan.

Who Should I Partner With?

Small Business Websites

As I’m not a small, “local” business owner, to do these case studies I’ll need to partner with someone who is.

A restaurant owner, a hairdresser, a dentist, a lawyer, a plumber, a chiropractor or whoever.

That adds another layer of unknown and more questions.

Exactly who should I partner with?

How can I find someone who I can trust will be in this for the long haul?

Is this a “good” business I’ll be helping out? (After all, if a business already has lots of unhappy customers, being online won’t help, it’ll just amplify who knows their bad!)

It’s made even tougher to find someone to partner with, for the simple fact that I can’t research them online, as the type of small business I’m looking for doesn’t already have a website or an online presence. 😛

Finding the right person to partner with for this case study is going to be key and so…

Why Build 1 Website, When I Can Build 3

Risky Business

Huh?

Because I don’t know any small business owners who need a website, it means I’m going to be partnering with someone I don’t know.

And that worries me.

It worries me that I’ll put in my own time / money and then,

  • They decide, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to carry on with the case study
  • They go out of business
  • They get lots of negative reviews, simply because their a rubbish business

All of those things impact the work I do and their all outside of my control.

Plan For Success

Or, what if they’re not wanting to handle lots of customers and the website I create for them does really well.

Now I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen and yes, this will be a real nice “problem” to have, but some small businesses aren’t looking to have a big business. They just want to be making enough money to sustain their lifestyle.

Which is fine, I understand that. No judgments. Hell I’m the same. But that then impacts the case study and again it’s out of my control.

And so to mitigate the risk of partnering with just one person, I’ve decided to create and market 3 small business websites, all of which will be going on at the same time and all of these sites will be in the same industry.

This means if something goes wrong with one business/website, I’ll have a few more that we can learn from.

It also means you get 3 case studies in one. And that I have to do 3 times the work. (Maybe I haven’t thought this through!)

The Plan And Initial Goals

Getting Things Done

Now I’m not much of a planner. (If you know me, you’ll know how funny and ridiculous that statement is.)

I’m the worst kind of planner there is.

I plan too much and usually end up doing nothing.

I need to know every step I’m going to take, when, and exactly how I’m going to do it.

I’m a perfectionist and I obsess over the tiniest of detail, even those that don’t really matter.

I have the unwanted ability to take a simple project and made it super complex. (And no fun.)

And then, after all that planning, I’m bloody exhausted!

Or I feel like the plan’s not quite right yet, so I need to plan some more and because of that, nothing gets done. (Although I do have the start of a kick ass plan. Gantt charts and everything.)

It’s a sickness. And it screws with my life.

Sidenote: I’ve been planning to do these case studies for two years but I’ve never pulled the trigger. My plans have just never felt “right”.

And so with these case studies I’m taking a different approach.

A Simple Process For Creating, Marketing And Growing Websites

The Master Plan

To combat my over planning tendencies, I have a new, simple way of doing things. (In fact you’ll look at it and think, “huh, is that it?”)

It’s as simple as,

  1. Set a small initial goal that will take a week or two to complete
  2. Take the necessary action
  3. Get feedback on the end result
  4. Iterate / start the process again

(Told you it was simple.)

How does that break itself down into these small business websites.

Step 1 – Create The Site

I really want to spend as little time as possible on this.

We’ll start out by creating a quick, first version of the case study websites.

This’ll be with a pre-made WordPress theme, which won’t require me to make too many changes.

But as we’ll be using WordPress to create these websites, we can evolve the websites design over time, or switch our design to a new theme, at any time.

Step 2 – Market The Site

Step 2

Creating the site will be the easy step, getting potential customers to the website is where I really want to focus my initial efforts.

In step two we’ll try and rank in Google for keywords related to that business and their location. So for example, “chiropractor in London”, or “chiropractor London”, etc.

I’m only going to focus on one “marketing channel” at a time, in this case I’ll start with the Google search results.

We’ll start with Google for the simple reason that I think they’ll probably give us the highest number of potential customers. (Although I may be wrong about this, but we’ll find out over time.)

Step 3 – Grow The Site

At this stage we’ll have a basic site and hopefully be getting some potential customers from Google.

We should also be converting those “potentials” to actual customers and the websites should be making the small businesses some money.

Now, in step 3, we’ll take the feedback we get from the people coming to the site and we can look at improving the design.

We can also look at increasing the places where we market the business, this might be via social media, Facebook ads, Groupon, Adwords, or whatever.

That’s Not Much Of A Plan

One Step At A Time

If I sound like I’m being a bit vague, that’s because I’m a bit vague on all the details myself!

The first case study is going to be a lot of trying things out, learning as we go, seeing the results we get and then making improvements where needed.

I’m not going to spend forever planning or figuring out what I need to do.

In fact, my whole process is going to be KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I’m just going to focus on what the next task is, figure out what I need to do for that and then actually do it. Then rinse and repeat. – Figure out what I need to do next and then do it. And not worry about all the things I need to do latter.

Also, I’m not actually going to set any specific numbers as goals, i.e. to be getting x number of leads or visitors to the sites, simply because this will be the first sites I’ve ever created for small businesses, so I’d just be plucking numbers our of thin air.

But by then end of this case study we should have some actual answers for what’s possible with small business websites. (Or, I could be a completely broken, shell of a man…)

Next Steps

So, while you await the next case study update, (no doubt with bated breath), I’m going to be contacting people and offering them then chance to get a website built for free.

Shouldn’t be too hard. Right?

Then after that we’ll start step 1, creating the sites. And don’t worry, you’ll get to see every step I take, so you’ll be able to do similar.

Images Credits: Shop Small, Risky Business, Agile Planning, Loud, One Step At A Time.