Digital Overhaul

Applying a technology makeover will open your business to more customers

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Watson adds that setting up the site was more of a collaborative effort. He and his friend worked on a preliminary version of the Hyena-Empire site before turning it over to Aplus.Net. “[Aplus.Net] did a lot of the HTML and getting it to work. And I like to do a lot of my own designs,” he says. Aplus.Net also designed Flash intros for the sites. Watson invested almost $1,000 to launch Hyena-Empire’s Website and pays $9.95 per month. For the Joseph Watson Collection, he invested a total of $950 in design and setup and pays $34.95 per month for hosting services. He chose not to link the sites, he says, because he wanted the sites to work independently and be successful on their own.

In addition to showcasing Watson’s artwork, Hyena-Empire also provides tutorials for art students to demonstrate how he develops a character. “This year I decided to make it more service-based, so companies can see why they should use my service. I am also updating the site by showing my logo process, my secret recipe for how I design logos.”

Watson says he frequently gets job offers, requests for advice from students, and e-mails from artists looking to subcontract. He recently began subcontracting work to manage overflow. One of his tutorials, for example, shows site visitors how to design a character, and he is working on a series of tutorials featuring his design style. “Eventually I’d like to move into [using] a Flash-based tutorial, streaming video, or a video demo, something that people can download,” he adds. Watson incorporates PayPal into his site to make the payment process seamless. And he set up a password-protected FTP site for clients to access their jobs.

For this part-time entrepreneur, business is booming. Six of his designs from the Décor Aquatica series displayed on the Joseph Watson Collection Website have been selected by Pacifica Tile Art (www.pacificatileart.com) and are featured in Pacifica’s offerings to restaurants and other businesses. “[The site] also got me several exhibits,” he adds.

Watson is now gearing up to launch the e-commerce portion of Hyena-Empire, offering a line of sketchbooks, T-shirts, and other products. This year, he projects revenues of $100,000 for his evening-and-weekend enterprise. Watson adds that because working with Aplus.Net has been so problem-free, his business can look like a design firm almost effortlessly. “By being really clever, having a good design and smart marketing, and a service like Aplus.Net, a small guy can look like a major company.”

10 TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR BUSINESS IN GEAR WITH TECHNOLOGY
For many small businesses, getting up to speed with technology might seem an expensive and time-intensive task. But choosing the right tools for your business is a lot easier than it used to be. Here are just a few:

[1. Take it to the Web.] Build a robust Website to communicate what your business does. Today, having a Website for your small business is a no-brainer. Your biggest problem will be deciding which company to use. Your

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