Dear Karen: I don't know who can build my website. Suggestions?
Answer: Start right and hire a professional rather than a moonlighting student, said Erin Presseau of New England digital marketing agency SilverTech. "Think about what website you envision for your new company and put your initial requirements on a list," she said.
If you'll rely on the Web company to formulate business concepts, look for a "digital or interactive agency," Presseau said. If you simply want someone to build a website to your specifications, look for website design and development firms.
Find candidates by consulting your personal and professional networks, by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce or industry marketing association or by talking to digital marketing associations. Find websites you like and ask the site's owner who the developer was, or look for a developer's link displayed as a page footnote.
• The first step for new business partners
Dear Karen: A friend and I are starting a business. What stumbling blocks should we avoid?
Answer: The first is easy: Any time you get into business with someone else — friend, relative or colleague — invest in a formal, legal agreement. Many successful businesses are brought down by squabbling partners.
"In the beginning when all is going well, it's easy to say 'we'll figure it out later,' only to discover that 'later' has arrived and there is confusion over who owns what," said Bryan Janeczko, founder of business start-up website Wicked Start. "I've seen it get downright ugly. Save yourself the agony. And to be even safer, include benchmarks for success."
Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.