Dear Karen: You recently advised hiring professionals to build websites, but are there cheaper alternatives for start-ups?
Answer: On a tight budget, try to barter services with a Web design firm. Or hire a freelancer to design the site and take that template to a developer, said Erin Presseau of SilverTech, a digital marketing agency in New Hampshire.
"Although the company may charge a nominal fee for graphic production work, they won't pad the estimate for the initial design," she said. "Since design is subjective, and usually several rounds of changes are involved, Web development firms often set estimates for it on the high side."
Ask for referrals to a freelance designer or search for one on a website such as Crowdspring. Once you take your design to a Web development company, expect the process to take six weeks to a year.
• How to negotiate a lower price
Dear Karen: I'm negotiating to buy some equipment. Do you have any tips?
Answer: Play the reluctant buyer, not the eager one. Listen to your seller's presentation and ask questions, then say the equipment is "not exactly what you're looking for," said Roger Dawson, author of "Secrets of Power Negotiating."
"At the last moment, call them back and say, 'Just to be fair to you, what is the very lowest price you would take?' " Dawson said. "The No. 1 pressure point in negotiations is your ability to project that you are prepared to walk away."
Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at email@example.com.