Brio Solutions HOME

Web Sites, Philadelphia, and the Ruminations of a Small Business Owner

The president of Brio Solutions comments on Web Design in Philadelphia, business, technology, and the world in general.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why you may want to lease your web site

We had a big week at Brio this week.  We finally picked up!  I have wanted the .com domain for years.  I am undecided whether the “.com” STILL has a leg up on the other extensions, and I really have grown to love my “.NET” domain, but it is no doubt better to have both.

We also launched a new product line, Brio ONE Site.  ONE Site is a hosted solution with tons of features.  So what is a hosted solution?” A “Hosted Solution” is a web site that you lease.  And just like leasing a car, you end up getting more web site than you would normally be able to BUY for the same money.  The real question is why would you want to lease a web site?

There are really three factors that will determine if you are better off buying or leasing.  The first, and most important to a small business, is cash.  Buying a site is obviously a larger cash outlay up front. You are probably going to pay a few thousand up front for a basic site as opposed to $500 up front for a more advanced Brio ONE Site. The monthly cost& for a ONE Site will be more expensive. ONE Site will cost between $50 and $80 per month as opposed to a hosting fee for a normal site, which will be $10 to $20.

The second factor is what you want to do with your site.  If your site content doesn't change very often, and the main goal is to have an online presence, you are probably better off buying your site.  On the other hand, if your site content does change often, you want to use your site to communicate with your customers or you want to use your site as a marketing and sales tool, then you may want to consider leasing your site.

The final factor is longevity.  By longevity, I mean how long your site will last.  In reality, a basic, static web site will last at least 6 to 8 years.  That type of site doesn't rely on advanced or cutting edge technologies.  

Now let's look at the more advanced site, a site that has a blog, customer logins, interactive pages, or any other advanced function.  That site probably does need to be updated every year.  If your company has the means or resources to maintain an advanced site in-house, then buying that type of site is probably a better move.  However, if you don't have those resources, then leasing is a great option.  The leased site IS upgraded at least once a year.

We have been selling this type of solution to larger companies for quite some time, but a web site like this was always way too expensive for small businesses and startups.  These sites are so attractive to larger companies because of the extensive feature list: a robust content management system, easy integration with social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, great looking themes, and powerful email marketing tools.  Now Brio is able to offer these features to small business at an affordable price.  Hopefully this is a win for everyone involved.  Our clients get a very powerful and extensive web site, and we get some long term clients.

Add to Technorati Favorites



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Startups are such sweet sorrow

In Philadelphia, and in every other place in the world, one of the first things a new business needs is Web Design.  As a result, Brio ends up working with a lot of startups.  This is probably one of the most exciting AND scariest parts of our business.  The scary part should be fairly obvious…startups don’t have money (typically anyway).  You may be thinking that the exciting part is pretty obvious too….well you are kind of right.  It IS exciting to see startups turn an idea into reality.  But more exciting to me, is that startups are a whole different type of business with a whole different list of issues, considerations, and goals. 

I know a seasoned business man who used to run a large retail store.  He got involved in a startup.  At the beginning of his journey he said to me, “Running my startup is 1000 times easier than running my old business”.  That gentleman is still struggling to get his company off of the ground 2 years later….and he is probably 2 years away from any profit.  Running a startup is not like running a more mature business.  That’s the plain and simple truth.  Running a mature business is like riding a horse down a dirt road; there are bumps and forks in the road, but at least you can see the road.   Running a startup is more like holding on to a bull.  You can’t tell which way you are facing and if you can just keep your grip for a while the bull will settle down and everyone will be happy, but until then, you better hold on for dear life. 

One of the trickiest decisions every entrepreneur faces is what to do with your most valuable assets…CASH.  Cash allocation and cash flow (or lack there of) can be the death of a startup before it even gets going.  If you are too aggressive, then your cash reserve runs dry before your business has a chance to generate any income.  If you are too timid, then your startup will just sit in limbo, never really making any real money.  What is the right balance?  Do you spend money to develop your product first?  Do you spend money on sales first, selling something software developers like to call “Vapor Ware”? 

Unfortunately there is no right answer.  Every startup is so unique and the balance is so delicate that you can’t even use a rule of thumb.  With a startup, there is no manual, there is no guide….you invent as you go.  You get some right and you get some wrong, but if you can hold on for long enough, you find that the reward is worth the struggle