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CME Websites: Keeping Alert for the Next Opportunity

One idea of entrepreneurial success is the man or woman with a vision who introduces a new product or service and achieves fame and prosperity.

Another, and more practical approach, is simply to listen and watch for opportunities in your own business environment.  At CME Websites {Code Media Essentials}, our company growth has been fueled far more by “paying attention” than by innovative brilliance.

CME actually began life as “Computers Made Easy” in 1999.  At that time, Entrepreneur_graphicwe were a mom & pop training service that helped businesses, schools, libraries, and people at home work more effectively with their computers and electronic devices.  Do you need to understand mail-merge in Microsoft Word?  We can help.  Want to know how to use your Palm Pilot?  We have a class for that.

Of course, one of the first things Computers Made Easy needed was a website to promote its classes and services.  Luckily, company founder Jane Noel’s background was in graphic arts and computer game design, and husband Scot had 20 years experience as a marketing writer – so developing a website was simply a side-task done in-house to save time and money.

After launching CME’s first website, a business associate asked, “Hey, who did your website for you?”  This was followed by, “Oh, you did it yourself.  It looks great, would you build one for us?”

At first, this seemed like a distraction from our core mission – teaching software.  We were happy to do it and then get back to our regular training schedule.  Then another business called, a friend of our first web customer, and they too wanted a website.  Even before that second paid site was finished, another referral came through the door.

It wasn’t long before we realized the market was talking to us.  It was saying, “We appreciate you as teachers, but we really want your web development skills.”

Now we could have said, “No, we appreciate your interest, but web development is not what we do.”  Instead, we listened and decided to test the waters of web design, at least long enough to see if the requests we were getting were more than a fluke.

Within a couple of years, the demand for our web-work was outstripping our teaching bookings.  Within a few more years, Computers Made Easy changed its name to CME Websites.

Today, our days of teaching software are long past, and we have gone from a mom & pop teaching service to a 9 person, full service online marketing agency named CME Websites {Code Media Essentials}.  We’ve developed hundreds of sites, manage over 600 domain names, and serve all levels of industry, professionals, municipalities, and consumer businesses.

Our portfolio of recent websites is available at: http://portfolio.cmewebsites.com/Portfolio/Recently-Completed

And we don’t just do websites. CME offers value-added marketing services, branding and design, Social Media, search optimization, and much more.  At the beginning of the company, all of this growth was unforeseen in any strategy meeting or business plan, but came about by listening to the needs and wants of our customers.

That “ear to the ground” approach continues to serve us well.  A recent example is our venture into project management tools.  As CME expanded, we needed to find a way to manage our growth.  Specifically, methods of task and time tracking, project management, lead follow-up, and assignment checking needed to be improved.

In that effort, we came across the cloud-based collaboration tool called Podio, a recent online innovation backed by Citrix.  Much like a box of Legos, Podio presents an extremely flexible workspace within which you can build the management tools of your dreams.

Having built our own Podio project management workspace, we soon noticed customers looking over our shoulder and asking, “What is that?”  The inevitable “I think I need you to do that for me too” followed.

Now we could have said “no thanks, we appreciate the interest, but we make websites, not customized, cloud-based project management workspaces.”  Instead, we decided to go through the process of becoming an authorized Podio Partner, turned to our customers and said, “OK, who’s first?”

Already, we can see that Podio project management design is both needed by a wide array of businesses and potentially more profitable than website development.  As of this writing, we don’t see giving up web design anytime soon, but an Online Project Management division for CME may be just around the corner.

We’ve seen this same pattern repeat itself with other successful entrepreneurs, including a manufacturer of decorative waterfalls who evolved his business into a supplier of specialty fluid pumps, and a magazine publisher moving toward fulfilling the needs of his customers for marketing and branding solutions.  Both are simply following up on an expressed need of their customer base rather than trying to force a “brilliant idea” of their own into the market.

At CME, we may never develop the “next big thing,” but by maintaining an active interest in the evolving needs of our customers, we keep alert for opportunities that fit our skill sets and provide us with opportunities for natural growth.  We know you can, too.

To learn more about CME Websites {Code Media Essentials}, visit our website at www.cmewebsites.com, or give us a call at 724-523-3001.

By: Scot Noel, Executive Officer at CME Websites

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