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Hey Mr Startup, are you a thief?

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Online Thief
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There’s a simple mistake many startups are making with their online presence which is costing them sales, and it’s easy to put right. The issue is that I have no way of knowing whether you are a thief, crook, cowboy or combination of all three.

If I’m buying a product or service online I need to feel fairly confident that I’m not being ripped off, and that’s quite hard to do. It may come as a surprise to the average startup, but there are people online who are trying to rip off the consumer – to take their money and then disappear. It’s important that as a startup I can distinguish you from one of the many thieves ready to defraud me of my hard earned cash.

The first thing I ask myself is ‘Can I make contact with these people if things go wrong?’ This translates most simply as being able to locate a trading address and a telephone number on the website. This is quite a basic check, and certainly the inclusion of such items does not mean you aren’t a cowboy, but let’s flip it around – If your address and telephone number aren’t on the website, what are you trying to hide?

Believe it or not, there are many startups out there right now that will become successful businesses, that are currently operating from a residential address. They don’t want the expense of office space, and really don’t want people phoning them up. I understand that as a startup, above everything else you don’t spend money where you don’t have to. No-one in their right mind wants to publish their home address and telephone number on their website, but no address and telephone number is costing you sales.

There are simple solutions. There are a plethora of organisations out there at the moment offering virtual office services, this will give you a nice looking postal address and a telephone answering service manned by real people! This is the very least a startup should be doing if they are providing online services. For the really cash-strapped, talk to your accountant. He or she may be willing for you to use their address for correspondence at no additional charge to their existing annual services to you.

In short, get an address and telephone number on your website now! At the very least, if you are operating as a limited company, it is the law.

Did you find this article useful? Will you be reviewing your website having read this? Do let me know.

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