When people start a business they expect things to start happening immediately but find out things don’t always turn out as planned. What was missing? Lots of activity on their part as an entrepreneur – that’s what was missing. They read books, planned, and researched on local companies to find out what they did and who they could contact, but what they haven’t done enough of was actually contacting people. Business is all about relationships and if you don’t have good business relationships you will have no business.
What kind of business relationships do you need?
Initially, people think t that all the business relationships they need would be of the me-and-my-customers-type, but they are wrong. In business you need all sorts of relationships: social contacts, referral contacts, strategic partners, suppliers and, of course customers. This is not an exhaustive list of all the different types of business relationship, but hopefully you get the idea. With some of these relationships you won’t think anything useful is happening from a business point of view but it is.
In fact, if you try to make these relationships useful for business you will often destroy them, so you have to look for ways to genuinely help people and eventually some business good will come back to you. “Givers gain”, is the motto of one of the most successful business networking organisations and they are 100% right.
However, in order for you to start building business relationships, people must know that your business exists. They should be able to find you and this is done through “word of mouth” and effective marketing. And when we say advertising, we don’t just mean traditional tri-media advertising. You should focus more on online advertising through PPC ad campaigns because it’s inarguably the most effective way to reach more people. Talk to an expert about PPC ad strategies to harness the benefits of digital marketing and online advertising.
The universe will pay you back
The business benefits of good relationships frequently won’t come in the way you might expect, but they will come. You often hear people talking about how you have to put your energy out into the Universe and the Universe will bring it back to you, which can sound very hokey, but this is true.
Do not think this is nonsense. The times you will work your hardest to make lots of contacts and try to be genuinely helpful to them will pay you back many times over. Think of helping people by providing useful and quality content on your website. For example, during periods when you will be working hard to build relationships with other people or by writing helpful informational blog posts, a number of unrelated prospective customers would contact you out of the blue, very keen to get started on projects.
This does work but may you will never find out why. However, the key word in all this is “genuine”. If you don’t do it for the right reasons, it won’t work. This conclusion is based on complaints from people who go through the motions of forming relationships but they don’t do it with a genuine wish to help people and they always seem to say it doesn’t work.
Everybody knows how dangerous UV rays can be for the skin. A vast majority of people would never go to the beach or walk around on a hot day without a suitable high factor sun cream. But what about our eyes? Does the sun damage your eyes, too? And if yes, what can we do to protect them?
What is Ultraviolet Radiation?
Ultraviolet radiation is the name given to a group of rays that are invisible and are emitted by a variety of different objects including stars and planets. The main source of ultraviolet radiation on earth is from the sun. UV radiation is part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum which is a range of rays arranged in order of their wavelength with the shortest wavelengths displaying the highest level of energy and the longest wavelengths the lowest level of energy. Going from shortest to highest wavelengths they are arranged in the following order: Gamma rays, X-rays, Ultraviolet, Visible light (each color has a different wavelength), Infra Red, Microwaves and Radio waves.
Our eyes are magnificent organs. In order for us to see, the cornea (the see-through dome that covers the iris and pupil) and the internal lens (that sits behind the pupil inside the eye) need to be transparent. While this allows light to get through to the retina at the back of the eye, it also means that more harmful ultraviolet rays can also get in. In fact, the eye is the only place that light and ultraviolet rays can get inside the body.
In order to best protect the eye from harmful ultraviolet radiation, it is deep set within a bony structure known as the orbit, it has brow and eyebrow hair overhanging it, as well as the ability to screw up the eyelids to reduce the amount of rays entering the eye. The iris muscle also has an amazing feature that means that the more visible light is shone into the eye, the more the muscle constricts, making the pupil smaller and thereby reducing the light that can get in.
Of the ultraviolet radiation that does get past these natural barriers, different types of UV rays affect different structures of the eye.
The Different Types of UV Radiation and the Parts they Affect
There are different types of UV rays and they are categorized according to their wavelengths. Very short wavelength UV rays (from 100 to 280 nanometers) are categorized as UV-C rays and although they are the highest energy UV rays and probably the most dangerous to us. They are filtered out by the ozone layer and water vapor in the upper atmosphere and therefore never actually reach us.
Of the UV rays that do reach us, the wavelengths from 280 to 315 nanometers are called UV-B radiation. While most of these rays are also filtered out by the atmosphere, a small percentage still make their way through to us (it is estimated that of the ultraviolet radiation that does reach the equator from the sun, 95% will be UV-A rays and only 5% will be UV-B) . It is these rays that are absorbed by the skin and cause sunburn and skin cancer.
The external parts of the eye, including the eyelids, sclera (white of the eye), conjunctiva (transparent membrane that cover the sclera), cornea and (to some extent) the internal lens all absorb these UV-B rays and they do not reach the back of the eye. In many ways this is good news as these rays are powerful and could have a much greater and more devastating affect if they reached the retina. The downside is that the UV-B rays that are absorbed can change and damage the structure of these external organs.
The final category of ultraviolet radiation is UV-A rays. These are the least powerful range of UV rays, with wavelengths ranging from 315 to 400 nanometers, and they are the closest rays to the blue/violet end of visible light.
Even though these rays have less energy and are therefore less powerful than other UV rays, since they are not filtered out by the external eye, there is nothing stopping these rays from reaching the retina at the back of the eye. When the retina is exposed repeatedly to UV-A radiation, it will unfortunately undergo negative changes.
Changes to the Eyes Due to Ultraviolet Exposure
Eyelids and the Skin Around The Eyes
Most people, even people who are using good quality and high sun protection factor sunscreen, will be rather tentative when placing cream around the eyes. Although there are some sunscreens that have been developed specifically to stop the cream liquefying and leaking into the eyes, most still do and this causes anything from mild discomfort to intense stinging and redness.
Because of this, the skin around the eyes and the eyelids themselves are very susceptible to the effects of UV-B radiation. This includes wrinkles, skin discoloration, signs of aging and of course skin cancer. In fact, according to research conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation, a massively disproportionate 10 percent of all skin cancers are found on the eyelids, most of which are basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinomas are growths that start in the basal cells which line the deepest layer of the outermost part of the skin, known as the epidermis.
Although they are cancerous, basal cell carcinomas usually do not spread to different organs of the body. However, if they are not dealt with promptly, they can grow and cause disfigurement.
The conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that covers the white of the eye and also the inside of the eyelids. The area of the conjunctiva that is visible when the eyes are open is susceptible to change due to absorption of UV-B radiation.
The most common change seen is the development of a pinguecula, a yellowish bump, often triangular in shape, near the cornea, more commonly on the nasal (or nose) side of the eye. A pinguecula is normally asymptomatic (has no symptoms) but occasionally it can cause dry eye or be unsightly.
Less common is the development of a pterygium where a layer of fibrous vascular tissue begins to grow from the conjunctiva over the cornea. Although more noticeable than a pinguecula and more likely to cause dry eyes, it still will often not need treatment or surgery unless it covers the pupil, thereby obscuring the vision, or starts to distort the cornea.
One of the most painful results of ultraviolet radiation on the eye is photokeratitis, a severe inflammation of the cornea which is essentially a form of acute sunburn. People who get this complain of excruciating pain which can last a couple of days and sometimes be accompanied by complete but temporary loss of vision. It is more common among people who have spent long hours in the snow at high altitude (e.g. skiing) or on the beach without any form of UV eye protection. The white bright surfaces of the snow and sand reflect the UV light upwards and therefore the eye is ‘attacked’ from both above and below. Because of this, photokeratitis is sometimes known as ‘Snow-Blindness’.
Despite the intensity of the pain and the vision loss, photokeratitis is temporary and within a few days, the person should be back to normal. Nevertheless, there is evidence to show that repeated exposure to UV radiation can cause slow but progressive structural changes to the cornea – meaning that in the long-term the cornea becomes less transparent, which will obviously affect the clarity of vision.
Just behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the pupil sits a lens which is completely transparent when we are born. As a person ages, this lens begins to yellow and eventually go cloudy. When the lens is cloudy enough to affect the person’s vision this is called a cataract. Cataracts are the biggest cause of poor vision in the world today, although, except in extremely underdeveloped areas of the world where there is little access to medical treatment, there is a comparatively straightforward operation to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new man-made transparent lens, following which the vision will normally improve greatly. If surgery is not an option, those with cataracts can always wear prescription eyewear or contact lenses that effectively correct vision problems.
Although the concept of cataracts is fairly well known, what is not so well known, however, is that it is estimated that about 20% of cataracts are due to ultraviolet radiation exposure and even when not, it seems that being consistently in the sun without protection speeds up the natural aging process of the lens.
The retina is the layer on the inside of the back of the eye. It contains cells that are light sensitive known as rods and cones which send electrical messages back to the brain when they are hit by light. The brain then organizes the information it receives leading to the person being able to see an image. At the very center of the retina is a small region known as the macula. This region gives us our very central and sharpest vision.
The most common cause of blindness in the western world is a disease known as age-related macular degeneration (or AMD) where this central area becomes damaged either due to a build up of waste material or the growth of new unstable blood vessels that start to leak. Studies show that people who were exposed to regular UV radiation at a younger age have a considerably higher chance of developing AMD later on in life.
Another consequence of ultraviolet radiation on the retina, although much rarer, is retinal cancer. As opposed to cancer of the external skin, retinal cancer is much more dangerous, usually melanomas that can metastasize. Because of this, if a person does develop a retinal melanoma it needs to be surgically removed with devastating effects.
Retinal melanomas are extremely rare with an estimated 3000 new cases every year across the United States, however because the consequences are so severe on the eye and possibly life threatening, since it is something that we can prevent by just taking a few precautions. After all, we should do our best to look after ourselves!
So What Can We Do?
The first step is to get good sunglasses that completely block out 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Surprisingly, not all sunglasses are UV protected. People assume that the darker the lens the better the protection, however all it means is that visible light is being blocked, not ultraviolet light. In fact, if you have a dark lens without UV protection it is actually worse than not wearing sunglasses at all. This is because without the sunglasses the person will naturally screw up their eyelids to cut out some of the rays and the pupil will constrict to a smaller size. With the sunglasses on, the person will not have to ‘squint’ and the pupil will be enlarged, letting through even more dangerous UV rays!
Sunglasses should have clear labeling that tells you whether it is UV protected or not. If you are unsure, a quick trip to your Eye Doctor or Optometrist should help as most have a machine called a spectrophotometer which will tell them whether ultraviolet rays are getting through or not.
The second step is to actually wear them! So many people own a good pair of sunglasses but don’t end up wearing them, or only consider wearing them when they are in extreme sunlight e.g. on the beach, without realizing that the constant UV exposure they are getting every time they are outside, slowly accumulates until it has an affect on the eyes. We need to realize that even in the shade, even on an overcast day, even in the winter, ultraviolet radiation is getting into our eyes!
The shape and design of the sunglasses is also important. Obviously, sunglasses must be stylish (otherwise we
In the world of search engine optimization, it is the keyword that helps drive traffic. Master the use of keywords and the traffic will come.
The ability to bring traffic to a site is important for the success of the site. Unless the site is solely for personal or family use, the reason someone creates a site is to bring people to it. Sometimes it for the sale of a product, sometimes it is for the sale of advertising revenue, or sometimes just for the want of popularity. The art of driving people to a site is largely accomplished through the use of search engine keywords.
The Keyword is King!
The keyword is king because keywords relate to the words and the phrases that people type into the search engines when they are trying to find something. When they want to search for a “Han Dynasty oil lamp” they will probably just type it in and find it pretty quickly since there are not that many of this type of oil lamp around. But if on the other hand, they typed in just oil lamp they are going to be presented with around five million entries.
The person who is searching for the oil lamp is not going to go through all five million entries to find just the lamp that they want. Any site that is at the top of this generic search list is either a well-known site like say Amazon, a site that is not going to provide the searcher with what they want such as how to make your own oil lamp or an established site who has learned the art of the keyword.
How does the keyword relate?
If the site in question is in the business of selling oil lamps, there are a number of things that can be done to optimize for keywords. One of the first is to purchase a domain name with the keyword in it. This is not always possible so the aim is to get something close to the keyword or unique enough that the searcher may type it in when looking for their product.
The next thing is to come up with a list of more focused phrases like “Kerosene oil lamp”, “Aladdin oil lamps”, “oil lamp replacement parts”, etc. It is best to keep a running list of these terms that can be used whenever updating the site so as to add them to the content on an ongoing basis. The other place that these should be entered into is within the HTML of the head portion of the web page in the Meta description and the Meta keywords section.
Why the search engines optimize for keywords?
The reason that search engines focus on keywords is that is what makes them successful. If every time someone sat down and typed in an oil lamp and all it retrieved was electric lamps or oil pumps, that search engine would not find itself with very many users and it would soon be out of business. So sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing constantly work at becoming more efficient at determining what people are searching for and helping them find it.
Because of this, the site owner must be vigilant with how they rank on each of the search engines requests and monitor deviations and changes that can occur. The ability to refine and narrow the focus so that through the use of proper keywords more targeted search can lead to the site being listed at the top of the page.
It’s All About Targeting the Customer
When driving traffic to a site the keyword is king, but it is all about targeting what the customer is looking for and how they will find it within a search engine. By getting into the mind of the searcher and analyzing how they think and what they are looking for and targeting those keywords traffic will be flowing to the site.
Starting or growing a business during a recession can be a tumultuous experience. Despite a less-than-stellar economic performance, online retail sales is expected to steadily climb in the coming years.
With planned strategies for success and a set of best e-commerce business practices in place, entrepreneurs stand a much better chance of thriving in the online business economy.
E-Commerce Web Development and Maintenance Best Business Practices
Experienced designers share the worst e-commerce web development mistakes in this article – poor functionality, sacrificing usability for aesthetics, and adding too many “cool” effects as a few of the worst mistakes e-commerce business owners can make in building their storefront.
Designers would say that once an e-commerce site is built, test, test, test! Never rely on the designer or programmer to complete the final round of testing. When possible, assemble a review panel of preferred customers or trusted business acquaintances to ensure that all order forms, catalogs, payment processors, links, and other components are working properly. Launching a site with simple, overlooked problems is embarrassing and may drive away customers.
Back-End Best Practices
Automate as many business systems as possible. It is impossible to project just how fast a business may grow, so choose solutions that have the capacity to expand and grow quickly. Many accounting software systems also offer inventory tracking, payroll, tax preparation, report writing, and more. Consider what the program needs to do now, and what it may need to do in the future.
Choosing a content management system is an important decision. The organization and storage of digital documents, pictures, and videos can be daunting without the right support. A good CMS solution allows the business owner to automate certain business processes, monitor and track items and processes, and quickly import or export information.
Customer Service Best Practices
The most obvious customer service strategies are also amongst the most often overlooked:
Display contact information for questions, sales, returns, and billing, at a minimum.
Build loyalty programs through email marketing, promotions for loyal customers, etc.
Anticipate customers’ needs to make the sale a seamless experience, right through to the checkout.
Give the customer several communication options, such as email, chat and phone service. Remember that online business often deals in an international marketplace; don’t alienate overseas customers with limited customer service hours.
Also, consider interactive CS strategies, such as a social media campaign. Resolve customer technical issues you encounter through different social media channels.
How Front and Back-End Best E-Commerce Practices Work Together
There are many things to consider when starting and growing an online business. With different systems for inventory and ordering, payment processing, shipping, bookkeeping, customer service and more operating simultaneously, it is crucial that each process complements the other.
Ongoing tweaking is always necessary. So is starting out on the right foot with a thoroughly tested e-commerce site, good back-end systems and a set of best practices to give the customer a consistently positive experience.
The shopping cart is one of the most important aspects of an e-commerce store. In order to keep up with emerging trends, it should be upgraded or amended at least annually. Depending on the shopping cart software or plugin that you use, this could mean installing a simple update or uploading a pre-built module.
Adding new features enhances the online shopping experience, improves marketing efforts, and encourages customers to purchase additional items. It also keeps the website looking fresh and current.
Features for E-Commerce Shopping Carts
Optimized for mobile devices
Shopping online through mobile devices has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Online retailers experience a sharp increase of mobile users especially during Black Friday and other sale events. It is expected that mobile devices will definitely play an ever increasing role in online shopping in the coming years.
Social media connectivity
Allow website visitors to “like” or share products with their friends with a click of a button. For instance, if a viewer click’s on the “like” button for Facebook, the product and description will be displayed on his Facebook profile page for his entire network to see.
Opening the doors to allowing customers to write reviews can be nerve wracking for many businesses. NPD Group, a market research company, found that 62% of their survey respondents said that they are doing their homework before making a purchase. Of those, nearly 50% are doing this homework through online researching. By adding a review section on the website, customers will be less likely to leave the site for conducting additional research.
Live order tracking
This feature allows customers to log into the site to be able to see the current status of the order, plus the tracking number if it has been shipped. Not only is this feature convenient for customers, but it will also reduce the number of calls and emails to customer service. Combining this service with automated emails that notify customers when the package reaches a particular stage is also very welcomed – especially around the holidays.
Up-selling and cross-selling modules
Being able to up-sell and cross-sell products through shopping cart software is standard in most shopping cart software programs. Even though this feature is commonly available to most online businesses, it being overlooked by many. This powerful module allows businesses to notify customers of other products they would be interested in based on what they added to their shopping cart, or to provide them with additional options.
For instance, if purchasing a flight through Expedia.com, they will often recommend reserving a rental car or purchasing tickets for a local tour. Or, if you book a hotel on Hotels.com, you may see a message that for a few dollars more you can upgrade to a larger suite.
Updating Shopping Carts
Check regularly to see if there are updates or additional features added to your shopping cart software. If you are using a hosted shopping cart, then they may automatically upgrade your account so that you can offer the latest. However, if your shopping cart is a software that is hosted on your own server, then it is up to you to upgrade it or upload modules to expand its capabilities. Keeping your shopping cart up-to-date keeps you from falling behind the latest trends and allows you to increase customer satisfaction and retention.