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SMALL BUSINESS / IN BOX

Make website easy to navigate

November 03, 2008|Karen E. Klein | Klein is a freelance writer.

Dear Karen: I'm beefing up my website myself to save money. Can you give me some suggestions?

Answer: Keep your site clean, simple and well-organized.

"Don't feel compelled to fill up every inch with content or graphics. Make use of negative space that allows the various components to breathe," said Daniel Meyerov, chief executive of OnlyBusiness.com.

Make sure it's easy to navigate your site by grouping relevant pages together and displaying a menu or navigation bar on each page.

"Ensure that your brand is clearly displayed and works seamlessly within your site design," Meyerov said.

The Internet is a visual medium, so use strong imagery to communicate ideas and connect emotionally. Break up large blocks of text with images, graphs and videos. Be aware of whether your audience is tech-savvy -- or not -- and design features with that in mind.

Finally, ensure that your site visitors are immediately and constantly aware of how to get in touch with you and to order your product or services. Include an e-mail address, telephone number and mailing address.

"Web users feel more comfortable dealing with companies that have a physical location," Meyerov said.

Savings plans for the self-employed

Dear Karen: I recently retired from my job, taking on a consulting role where I am no longer a salaried employee and can no longer contribute to the company's 401(k). Other than a traditional or Roth IRA, what types of retirement savings vehicles can I establish?

Answer: Now that you are self-employed, you can deduct your business expenses and create your own retirement plan.

IRAs are for individuals and permit only $5,000 or less in annual contributions, said Ric Edelman, chairman of Edelman Financial in Fairfax, Va. But you can now contribute far more than that to a business retirement plan.

"There are many plans available," he said. The best plan for you depends on how much of your pay you want to contribute each year and whether you want the ability to alter contributions from year to year.

"Some plans are better for self-employed individuals, while others are best for those who employ only a spouse, a few people or many people," he said.

"Talk with a financial advisor who is expert at retirement planning for small-business owners because the opportunities are excellent, and you don't want to miss out," Edelman said.

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Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to ke.klein@latimes .com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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