I feel like an Oracle as what I’ve prophesied is coming to pass, is passing, and will probably PASS YOU before you can blink. In case you didn’t know, the world wide web turned 25 in March 2014, which means it turned about 5 in Trinidad & Tobago. It’s probably technically older than my estimate as evidenced by the predominance of © 1999 on many a website in the country. But that’s just be being sarcastic.
Fortunately, as I predicted, the number of old websites are being outpaced and even replaced by new websites from companies and individuals alike who finally got it. For many, the reality struck when they realized for themselves, just how much they’ve grown to depend on the internet for information about everything. Have you had this epiphany yet?
My 2014 First Quarter Report
As I reported in my 2013 summary, from July last year I’ve had absolutely no let up business-wise as I’ve consistently had website projects. The same still continues and I do no advertising (by choice as an example of making one’s website work), I rely solely on Google and referrals.
There is another reason why I don’t mass advertise and that’s because I can only handle so many projects at once without being overwhelmed and feeling like I have a job.
Some notable highlights so far for the year are:
E-Commerce in Trinidad & Tobago: Local Payment Gateway
We’re thisclose to launching my first 2 sites with the live local payment gateway provided by…wait for it…I CAN’T TELL YOU YET!. This brand new E-Commerce Solution in Trinidad & Tobago is an alternative to Scotiabank’s, and the payment gateway is provided First Atlantic Commerce (FAC), with whom you already know I’m a Strategic Partner.
I haven’t made an official announcement of this yet as I am waiting for the sites to actually go live. Then I’ll totally re-write my Payment Processing page to feature this new solution. I’ll be marketing this primarily (if not exclusively) for a number of reasons I’ll explain then.
I’ll say this much now: this E-Commerce Solution is definitely going to be the game-changer for E-Commerce in Trinidad & Tobago and will put the market in a SOLID path for exponential growth.
White Label Website Projects
For those of you wondering what that means, I’ve been outsourced by other providers of web design services to build sites for their clients minus my brand. So there’ll be some sites out there looking really great but they won’t really be from competitors. I have about 3 such partnerships right now.
As they say, nothing comes from nothing and nothing ever could. So somewhere I must have done something good as not only do I always get great clients but I’m fortunate to be able to forge some great partnerships that give my clients additional value. Such this year are:
Owned by a very nice guy, Kabco Enterprises Ltd’s expertise is in software development and engineering and database management. With Forward Multimedia’s foray into the complex E-Commerce platform and database driven Magento software, access to such skills are of critical importance especially from a source right here in Trinidad & Tobago.
Meanwhile, KABCO is also available for software development & engineering in general, information and document security, data mining, networking, computer sales, service and repairs, surveillance & security systems.
This also prompts me to finish my Business Services guide featuring my clients and associates…soon.
What else can you imagine from a name like that? They are a creative design agency and brand architects with top level experience in the local advertising industry. I have to thank my friend Lesley-Ann Bernard of SouthTnT for this referral.
They’re also designing some packages to offer my clients needing a higher-end graphic design and branding services. I see a definite need for this as I have seen many clients turn this work over to their in-house ‘graphic designers’ to change image slides and add promotional graphics with amateurish results which, unbeknownst to them, actually CHEAPENS AND HARMS their website.
While my wife loves India for ZEE TV (and I can even name the shows, how crazy is that!), we all know that India is the outsource capital for computer related services and web development is one of them.
I’ve been working with a particular company in India providing specialized coding customization on behalf of my clients at the well known India affordable pricing and I’m confident of this partnership.
Second Quarter 2014 Outlook
Make to mistake the website landscape is on steady growth and the outlook looks spectacular. And while it’s going to be rosy for the Trini customer with more local websites to visit, in terms of website design itself there are some caveats:
1. Shortage of quality local web designers remain
I’ve had some associates with web knowledge warn me: “Zaf, you’re telling everyone you’re using WordPress templates, what’s going to stop them from thinking they can do it themselves for cheaper?” My answer: “BE MY GUEST”. I can boil rice but that doesn’t mean I can make a pelau (and I really can’t, but I can make a mean OMLETTE!).
I’ve seen many do-it-yourself websites that look exactly that, and I’ve also seen WordPress sites by my competitors. Believe you me, it’s not a commodity item but it takes an innate skill to design a website THAT WORKS AND CONVERTS, and not everyone has that.
However, I’m not so naive to not have a healthy regard for my competition and I don’t take them lightly as I’m sure they do me (I’m sure they read all my articles and are poring over this one right now, so hello!). In the short run, websites by Forward Multimedia will always be superior and better able to compete but in the long run there’ll be many more players and strong contenders.
Hence the reason for the above, forging and strengthening alliances, partnerships and networks to fortify myself and my clients against the stiffer competition sure to come down the road.
2. E-Commerce in Trinidad & Tobago will be KING
Online stores will flourish and the end of year holiday season is going to be one for the record books but only for those who start right now and learn the curve.
I’m pushing the Magento E-Commerce platform for those who are really serious about a successful online store for the reason that it will pay big dividends down the road when ‘you start as you intend to continue’ and have something you can grow into and not out of.
All my bets are on who I call LAPTOP KIDS, the generation growing up and growing in numbers in front of your eyes, devoid of knowledge of a life without internet. Again, to be forewarned is to be forearmed and I’ve been saying and braying this all along.
3. FORWARD MULTIMEDIA web design will not get cheaper
I’m on a controlled growth phase right now and my yardstick is my ‘enjoyment meter’. I enjoy what I do so I don’t actually ‘work’ for a living. I love that I control my time and that I can work from anywhere with just a laptop and a phone and I can turn them off when I want.
The absolute minute it begins to feel like a job and a hassle I’m going to pull in the reins, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ll then be more selective of the projects I take on.
I’m attempting to delay this inevitability by spinning off some basic tasks like setting up domains, emails, hosting, installing WordPress, Magento and templates, initial site population and graphic design etc., that precursor the use of my core strengths (that what I feel I’m a premium for).
However, it’s going to add to costs as I’ll have to pay for this (and so will you!) but in the end your site will be much better for it, don’t you think?
As the only sane man in T&T who believes with my heart and soul that E-Commerce will one day rule in Trinidad & Tobago, I continue my one-man crusade to champion it’s cause. In the long run ALL OBSTACLES will be overcome and that’s already happening before your eyes.
You may also be wondering why I’m describing my strategy but it’s not a strategy, it’s just my approach. I thrive on giving away the farm, that’s why I’m so forthcoming in all my articles and on my site. I speak with my voice so it’s always me coming through and because I don’t use buzzwords (only keywords). The other reasons: I believe in and I’m passionate about what I do and no amount of business skill can compete against that.