Thursday, December 29, 2011

Frustrations Of The Female Entrepreneur

The hard thing about any entrepreneur can be the ability to get your ideas heard and then be taken seriously. My advice would be don't give up - keep going and if you truly believe in your service and product and have an ability to try out innovative ways of promoting them GO FOR IT!

For a female entrepreneur who balances a work and family life there can be the issues of making time for each sector of your life whilst remembering to take some time out for yourself. Its not the easiest juggling act in the world but use your planning skills to prioritise.

There is no space for sexism these days, in any shape or form and this question more than alludes to it. I have hundreds of female clients, all entrepreneurial and most of them are more switched on than their male counterparts but all experiencing the same commercial frustrations.

So, is there really a difference between males and females concerning the frustrations of an entrepreneur?

feel free to leave a comment on the subject. I'm sure our readers would benefit from your insights.

Monday, December 26, 2011

MOJO For Small Business

Marshall Goldsmith says "Mojo is: that positive spirit--towards what we are doing--now--that starts from the inside--and radiates to the outside. Mojo is at its peak when we are experiencing both happiness and meaning in what we are doing and communicating this experience to the world around us."

How important is this idea for small business? Should they spend a serious amount of time being concerned with it or are there simply more important things to think about?

In my opinion MOJO is not something that you directly work for, and there spending time trying to create it is counter productive. The first, and arguably most important action you can take to have more MOJO is to do the self work you need to in order to find your passion and align it with your business and the team you hire. It’s about knowing and living your personal values, purpose, mission and vision. You can’t directly create MOJO. What you can do is position yourself in an environment where you can more easily have MOJO. You can also practice the necessary skills to that you are prepared to maximize your time with MOJO when it comes forth.

In my experience, most small business owners do possess a significant amount of mojo... it's why they started their business in the first place - they love what they do and want to spend their time doing it. I think the biggest challenge for the business owner is to RETAIN the mojo, even in the day-in, day-out stress of running their business. That's where delegating undesirable tasks, daily planning and narrow focus can really help.

Mojo as Marshall talks about it relates to living your vision and loving your work. If small business owners value having bliss in their business, then getting their mojo flowing is essential. When your mojo is flowing, you can achieve much more with much less. You can create possibilities where others wouldn't see it and you can deliver a much more authentic experience for your clients.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Is A Micro-Business?

The European Union makes a general distinction between self-employment, micro,
small and medium sized businesses based on the following criteria:

0 Self-employed
2-9 Micro business
10-49 Small business
50-249 Medium-size business

The US make this difference:

Small Business: The Small Business Association (SBA) has extensive descriptions for what constitutes a small business, but in its simplest terms it’s an organization with 500 or fewer employees. Of the 119.9 million non-farm employees out there, 60.2 million belong to a small business.

Microbusiness: The American Association of Microbusiness considers to micro businesses to consist of five or fewer employees. According to the SBA, we had 21.7 million microbusinesss in 2007. This segment accounts for only 3 percent of revenue in the business world, yet they constitute three-fourths of commerce. Microbusinesss in this context means a firm with no hired employees with net earnings of at least $1,000 ($1 for construction firms) that are subject to federal taxes.

The term microenterprise connotes different entities and sectors depending on the country.

Generally speaking, in developed countries, microenterprises comprise the smallest end (by size) of the small business sector, whereas in developing countries, microenterprises comprise the vast majority of the small business sector—a result of the relative lack of formal sector jobs available for the poor. These microentrepreneurs operate microenterprises not by choice, but out of necessity.

Microenterprises add value to a country's economy by creating jobs, enhancing income, strengthening purchasing power, lowering costs and adding business convenience.

Because microenterprises typically have little to no access to the commercial banking sector, they often rely on "micro-loans" or microcredit in order to be financed. Microfinance institutions often finance these small loans, particularly in the Third World. Those who found microenterprises are usually referred to as entrepreneurs.

The terms microenterprise and microbusiness have the same meaning, though traditionally when referring to a small business financed by microcredit the term microenterprise is used. Similarly when referring to a small, usually legal business that isn't financed by microcredit, the term microbusiness is used.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Small Business Quotes For Your Desk

Here's a few quotes that won't be out of place prominently displayed on your desk. Feel free to offer your own suggestions as a comment reply .....

"Success is just a matter of luck. Ask any failure." ~ Earl Nightingale

Run faster and Faster to remain in same place- Philip Kotler

"For whatever is seen is temporary, but whatever is unseen is eternal"

BREATHE!

Luck is where Opportunity Meets Preparation...

If you want something done, give it to a busy Man (or Woman).

"Your future depends on so many things; but mostly on you"

There are those who work and those who take credit for the work.
It is better to be of the kind that works because the competition is less.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”

** " I skate to where the puck will be,not to where it has been”
Wayne Gretzky - Hockey Great

Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun

Make a Customer, Not a Sale

Intellectuals Solve Problems, Geniuses Prevent Them

"Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but sail we must, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Always remember that when dealing with people..visualize an invisible sign hanging around their neck saying MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and less minds simply talk about people"

"Think big, think fast and think ahead".....D. Ambani

The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means and the exercise of ordinary qualities. These may for the most part be summed in these two: common-sense and perseverance.
Owen Feltham

The future depends on what we do in the present. Mahatma Gandhi

"Always do what you are afraid to do." Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.
Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe
Latin Proverb

You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

He who enters into a dispute with a fool can be comforted by the knowledge that his opponent has done the same.

Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Connecting With Customers Via Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer a great opportunity for small business to connect with new and potential customers. Not to mention, they are free to set up, so they offer a great way for companies to cut their costs.

Facebook fanpages present a forum for customers and businesses to communicate. Consumers can post about their experience with a product or service, they can even share pictures. Businesses can post about promotions, contests, updates, and based on the content the post, they can draw in new fans.

For small businesses that don't have the means to advertise on a wide scale, Facebook allows companies to tailor the audience who receives their internet advertising. Companies can focus on relevant demographics for their ads. By doing so, their ads gain value, without spending money on print or television ads that may not reach their target market.

Twitter acts as a live conversation. Messages of 140 characters or less are very focused. Twitter is especially beneficial for small business internet marketing, because small business can directly connect to customers who are tweeting about their products and services. It's also beneficial for small businesses looking to connect with larger business in it's relevant field. Twitter presents small business with the opportunity to build direct connections across physical boundaries.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tips For Generating Sales Leads

Do you have a marketing budget? That will help you separate the 'possible' from the 'probable'.

Bear in mind that you don't need leads; you need customers. If you just want leads, go to the library and get a local business directory. That'll have lots of names, positions and telephone numbers - there's your leads, now hit the phone and call them.

If you want customers, the first thing you should do is define who your customer is - and who he isn't. For example, we get a lot of calls from people who have an idea for starting a business, and want us to develop their website. We pass on those - our customer profile is a small/medium marketing agency with third-party clients.

We know who we want to contact, so we go to the places they congregate. If you want to hunt ducks, you go to a duckpond, not a local zoo; if you want to find a lion, don't bother looking around the duckpond. Guess what you'll find at a local Chamber of Commerce?

Talk to your customers about things that interest them - giving your spin on it, of course. Get involved in the general conversation, get known for being the expert in your field, and the customers will come.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Generating Leads For A Small Business

Generating qualified leads is one of the most challenging processes you can go through in sales. It can be frustrating.

here's a few ideas to mull over for generating leads for your small business ....

• Website - Keep your business website clean, working correctly, and the content fresh. Make sure your Contact Us function works well. Test it. Test it again and regularly. Your website is your business face to the world. Keep it fresh and clean.

• SEO – Make sure to stay up on Search Engine Optimization techniques, which seem to shift over time. Keep your webmaster up-to-date on the latest industry key words that might drive leads on your website. Check your web pages for position in a Google search every so often. Don’t let SEO go stale.

• Conferences – Face-to-face discussions at tradeshows can generate some of the most qualified leads possible. But this can be expensive and is limited to the people you can attract to your booth. Booth graphics, give-aways, and pre-show marketing can help drive those leads. It’s also important to pick the appropriate venue and audience for your product.

• Linked-In – LI is ripe with leads. If you link-in with the right contact in an industry his or her contacts can be just the leads you’re looking for. This requires looking through your connections’ connection lists (if its public.) Pay attention to who’s linking with whom. Occasionally go through the suggested connection list. And you can join groups on LinkedIn that share common business interests. These group notifications can get overwhelming so develop as system to use them to your advantage. There is also an Answers feature that lets you create and publish interesting questions that might develop leads. Make sure your LI profile has key words that reflect your products, services, and target markets. Always keep your profile clean, professional, and with pertinent content to attract potential leads.

• Buy Lists - Purchase an email or direct mail list in an industry. This process has many variations, because privacy is of primary concern to people on-line. Usually these vendors handle your direct or email messaging for you, so you don’t actually get to keep the list unless someone responds to your message.

• News - Pay attention to news articles related to your customers, products, market or key issues within your industry. Many of these articles will note companies or even decision makers at companies that you may want to target. Get in the habit of quickly scanning articles for key contacts.

• Search Engine - Google or use other search engines to uncover lists of names. Attendee lists, target industry group memberships, or other sources. Google key customers to determine their competitors – your future customers. Use Google Alerts to comb the web news for key business issues.

• Network – Call key players in your target industries and ask them about their business. Tell them what you doing or thinking about and take notes. Usually, if you’re gentle and respectful, they will share some key nuggets and perhaps even list some key contacts. Call or email people you know to share key pieces of information about common business issues. You end up getting more than you give. And always recommend the good service people you know because the favor will be returned. Go to social media events for b2b crowds. Bring business cards, introduce yourself, and have a conversation. Follow-up with everyone you meet with a thank you email and a LinkedIn invitation.

• Advertise – Emailing or direct mailing a list is one way. Banner ads on target industry web sites can work. Make sure you have a viable, comfortable landing page that makes lead feel like they’ve come to the right place – instantly. Collect key contact info at all costs. Print Ads may be effective, but they are very expensive and difficult, if not impossible to track.

If you have other suggestions please feel to reply as a comment ....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Does Intuition Have A Place In The Business World?

Intuition is like finding a needle in a...wait...not one but 20 haystacks. A single needle. It will give you the direction you should search but until you actually have the needle in hand it's not as useful.

Similarly, intuition will give you ideas but business still operate on the principle that their sole purpose is to increase top line revenues while maintaining or widening the operating margins (as a percentage of revenues). Therefore, you need hard data to justify your intuition (or be able to absorb the risk to the business if you're wrong due to a lack of data).

As the idea in question becomes more strategic to the company, the risk / impact to the business of failure is proportionally greater so having hard data becomes similarly more important.

Weak business leaders wait until they have all the facts before making a decision.

However, in any worthwhile, often fast-moving, business opportunity, we never have all the facts, so weak business people wait and wait and wait, hoping that the next bit of information will allow them to make the "perfect" decision.

But as Voltaire said, "Perfect is the enemy of the good" and as George Patton said more recently "A good decision today is better than a great one made tomorrow."

Making good decisions necessarily relies on intuition because all the facts aren't yet known. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" largely defines intution as the sum total of all one's knowledge and experiences leading up to a decision. That is, you're not "winging it" but rather allowing your subsconcious mind to process at light speed a lot of disparate, often incomplete, information to make exactly the right decision most of the time.

So I would say that intuition not only has a place in the business world but is a core competency that needs only your trust in it to let it be a valuable guide in building value. After all, you can always make a new, different, good decision tomorrow. ;-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nielson Survey says 63% Check Consumer Ratings before going any farther in the buy or contact you process – Do you know how your business stacks up in this process?

Why incorporating proactive online reviews / reputation monitoring & management into your online sales and marketing initiatives is no longer something to be ignored.

The stats show that target audiences, consumers and potential clients not only think about looking at online reputation and reviews, they use it widely in their buying-contacting decision making process

Don't take my word for it!

Look at these global stats revealed in an independent study done by NM Incite, a Neilsen McKinsey Company, the top survey company in the world

* Check Consumer ratings - 63% do before going any farther in the buy or contact process

* Consumer Reviews - 62% check them before they go any farther in the buy or contact process

* Company Facebook - 15% check it before they decide to buy or contact.

And why do folks post online reviews and comments?

The same study shows:
* 58% do so to protect others !

These stats show that ignoring proactive monitoring, management, protection, promotion and repair of the online reviews / reputation side of your online presence equation is no longer a safe option for any size business.

Reputation911 has a free "how does the Internet reveal, see and show you online and where" analysis . Please contact us for this free analysis and know precisely where you stand in the online reputation area and how to take charge of it.

Neil Licht, ndlicht@reputation911.com 1-508-481-8567 direct line

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Is A REAL Entrepreneur?

According to my own experience (and the experience of many others) 80% of all business owners and CEOs are NOT entrepreneurs.

15% (of the remaining 20%) are what I call "lame duck" entrepreneurs. These "lame ducks" are usually fairly successful and sometimes even very successful in their business (as measured by their industry's standards).

Only 5% of all business owners and CEOs are REAL entrepreneurs.

However, real entrepreneurs can also be temporarily broke (even after years of great success). So, just looking at the current state of a business doesn't necessarily tell if the business owner/CEO is a REAL entrepreneur or not.

What are, in your opinion, the traits of a REAL entrepreneur?

What is a REAL entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs will risk almost, if not everything they have on an idea that they are passionate about.

They are passionate about what they do and cut out any naysayers or negativity and not let it stop them.

They will work around the clock on something they believe in and not even think they are working:)

It's not about the money and more about the sense of achievement.

They are constantly thinking of new ideas and also ideas to improve their existing business or project.

They love networking with other likeminded entrepreneurs because they know that networking is a HUGE key to their success.

They have charisma and can persuade most people to go their way on things.

They feel that literally NOTHING is impossible...

There are too many traits to name but these are just a few.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

10 Tips On Impressing Your Customers And Growing Your Business

1. Do not promise what you cannot deliver

2. Do not overextend your resources and get a reputation for poor performance.

3. Do not tell the customer what he or she wants to hear. Tell them what they need to know. They will respect you for it.

4. Network constantly on professional sites such as Linked In. Hit the "Answers" feature and accumulate an "Expert" rating from your peers in your field.

5. Blog like there is no tomorrow. A blog is quite different than a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days.

6. Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will be in demand for follow up business.

7. Quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him (in content and resources).

8. Be dedicated to working yourself out of a job with a specific customer and having your client take over by training him. He will remember you and recommend you to 10 others.

9. Remember growth is a function of persistence and foresight. Know where your market is headed and get their first - then write and speak about your success indirectly by helping others. Demonstrate humility and a satisfaction in helping others succeed. They will find ways to give you credit. There are ways of tooting your horn without making peoples' lights go out.

10. Word of mouth advertising from pleased clients is a sure ticket to success.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entrepreneur Connect Groups: Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

1. Resting on your laurels. Just because you have what you think is a good marketing plan in place today doesn't mean it'll be right tomorrow. The pace today is so accelerated, you must stay ahead of the game. Constantly research what your competition is doing. Surf the Internet to see what's new out there.

2. Hype. Sooner or later hype will catch up with you. Being superficial and underestimating the consumer is first of all poor taste, and second of all, it's bad business. Avoid the jargon and the pat phrases and give substance.

3. Not having an R&D Team, focus group or feedback source. Test your ideas on others. There are some absolutely wonderful ads out there that people remember, but they don't remember the name of the product/company. For example, there was a great ad out awhile ago that talked about the Bank of the Northern Hemisphere. Very clever; everyone remembered it. The problem was, they didn't remember the name of the bank you were supposed to use instead.

4. Not trusting your marketing person. If you hire someone to do your marketing, hire someone you trust and then let them do their job. With 20 years marketing experience, I had many interesting jobs and some interesting job interviews. One corporation asked me, "Can you stick with a plan once it's in place?" Red flag. Any marketing campaign must be constantly monitored and you need to be able to switch on a dime. An experienced marketing person can titer what's working and what isn't. It becomes almost a sixth sense. Why would you throw good money after bad just because changing it is an inconvenience?

5. Not giving it time to work. It's an adage in marketing that if you're going to say it, say it at least three times. I've consulted with individuals, particularly, who send out a brochure, no one bites, and they want to abandon it. Generally it takes three "hits." People run through their emails rapidly and delete things they wish they hadn't. Make their wish come true! Give them a second, third, fourth chance. The formula is--when you're sick and tired of it, the public is just beginning to hear it.

6. Being timid. There really is no such thing as bad publicity, and things will happen. You have to have been through this to know. Several years ago I was marketing an apartment complex and the manager miscommunicated an "early bird special." The whole unfortunate event made the front page of the local newspaper with stories about parents not being able to buy school clothes for their children, because... 6 months later the apartment complex was filled to capacity. People remembered the name of the apartment and nothing else. Carry on!

7. Not being curious. If you have an ezine edition that had a large number of click-throughs, don't just pat yourself on the back, ask yourself why. Figure out what was different about it. Was it on a special day? Was there something different? More graphics, no graphics? A catchy subject line? A new layout? Don't forget, you can always ask someone who clicked-through!

8. Thinking you have to pay for marketing. Use the free options liberally. Establish yourself as an expert on a subject and let the press know you're willing to be interviewed. When a national news event breaks, make it local. For instance, I'm a coach, and when 9/11 happened, I contacted the press to let them know what coaches had to offer at such a time.

9. Leaving it at home. Prosaic, but we all do it. Your business cards and brochures do absolutely no good sitting in the office. Take them with you!

10. Following the rules. Be as thorough as you need to be. The rule is 'be brief,' but say what you need to say. One of the most effective mailers USAA ever did was a 5-page letter. Know the rules. Then break them.


Entrepreneur Connect Groups: Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Technology For Small Business

Let's deal with the basics:

Every small business owner should have a CRM, a customer relationship management software platform. This software gives the ability to schedule e-mail to respond to essentially manage every customer and prospect that the company has. It's a fundamental. If you don't manage your customers effectively you don't have an effective business.

Secondarily, every small business owner should be on QuickBooks at least, with a professional advisor helping them set up their chart of accounts and linking this to their payroll and tax reporting. It is very simple to set up in the early stages. It's a total pain in the butt to do after the fact.

Thirdly, every business in today's world needs a website, and with the website it needs good analytic tools, the basic analytic tools are from Google,

Fourth, communication is essential in every business. Google apps are great for this.

Fifth, many early-stage businesses operate virtually. Two technologies stand out; free conference call.com, and GoToMeeting.com, which allow for virtual organization management and communication.

Sixth, VoIP, allows management of communications in a way that was not available years ago. Google voice is effective, and many of the providers now have the ability to have one telephone call routed via the Internet to whomever is appropriate.

Seventh: use guru.com, a place to find freelancers to get done all of the things that you think you can't get down at a reasonable price. It accesses the vendors from all over the world where you can receive quotes for things like logos and business cards and copywriting etc. it comes with guarantees, etc.

All of these technologies are easy to access and use.

Courtesy of Stewart Borie

Monday, November 21, 2011

Technology Tips For Small Business

Before talking technology I think it is imperative that all small business owners develop basic computer literacy. As a small business coach, I never fail to be amazed at the number of business owners who wear their ignorance of technology as a badge of courage! Statements like "I only use the Net when my kids force me to" are shockingly common. Yikes.

Being able to keyboard, surf the net and manage e-mails are the "3r's" for us the way reading, writing & 'rithmetic were for our parents.

That being said, I think the field is pretty wide open. As some others have suggested, technology needs are largely driven by the industry sector you work in.

Most of my clients are in the professional and consumer service delivery arena so the technology I'm most familiar with has a strong marketing component to it. I find that cloud services like Dropbox and Smilebox are extremely helpful for many.

Dropbox, for example, means that I can keep all my working files 'in the cloud' so that no matter where I travel I always have access to the most up-to-date versions. It also allows me to share large files with files & vendors (i.e. my PDF'd e-book is massive yet I can readily have clients download it via Dropbox).

Smilebox allows me to develop great visuals to support my retreat business and stay in touch with clients/prospects. I've got a client about to start using it to provide highly customized real estate packages for his clients.

On-line newsletter services such as offered by ConstantContact also make a huge difference in their ability to stay connected with clients.

Send-out cards ended up not working for me; I'm not that well organized. But I know several clients who love the service and use it very effectively as part of their marketing mix. I think it is definitely worth consideration by any business owner who has a need to acknowledge customers and stay connected at a fairly personal level.

On-line services like VistaPrint are not only timesavers, but for microbusinesses they can save the budget by providing high quality, low cost marketing and sales materials.

I could go on and on . . .and I haven't even addressed the social media technologies! But like someone else said, I think that we small business owners need to be ALWAYS keeping abreast of new things coming into the marketplace. It can be daunting but is absolutely essential in today's world. That's where I find that services like Twitter are extremely helpful. I follow a number of technology/social media/business specialists and their posts help me stay on top of new technology and market shifts.

Courtesy Of Gwen McCauley

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Insight On Technology Tools For Small Business

It's very astute using the term "Tools". That is indeed what they are and they are proliferating. I embrace these assets and use them myself.

But as a small business counselor I always ask one strategic question of my clients "How to you select the tools to work on your car (simile for business)?"

Answer: One needs to know the make, model, the part of the auto that needs the work and the ultimate objective in working on the vehicle at all.

There is a new kind of monkey these days the technology monkey. That sucker will bury us if we don't learn to deal with him. We are so busy tending our gadgets that we lose site of priorities, get wound up in minutia and end up with a meaningless zoo.

I have noticed the symptoms of the technology monkey, particularly among the younger (Generation X and Y) entrepreneurs.

There seems to be a belief that automation, the Internet and social networking can make the business succeed when in fact the real design of the enterprise itself is lacking (niche, market base, business plan, competitive analysis and financial forecasting)

I hear from many clients who ask, "What Now?" having launched an enterprise that is going nowhere because they are driving the tools and not the car.

I take them back to the garage, design the auto to see if it can run and then apply the wrenches retroactively if that is possible. It is usually a traumatic experience and could have been avoided with strategic and business planning before launch.

Courtesy of Kenneth Larson, SCORE Advisor

Monday, November 14, 2011

High Tech vs High Touch Marketing For Small Business

There's an app for high tech, not high touch

"There's an app for that."

This marketing slogan refers to a mobile app. A mobile app converts content and resources that otherwise would have been consumed through a browser on a computer desktop, to the much smaller and variably shaped screens on the many different kinds of hand-held devices. Mobile apps are proliferating because they are almost always handier and sexier than their website counterparts.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

A generation before my broadband prognostication, a real prophet, John Naisbitt, published his landmark book, Megatrends, in which he prophesied, "The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want." In the 21st century, Naisbitt's Law, balance technology and humanity, must be the North Star for any successful small business strategy.

So, how does a small business maintain a competitive advantage in the face of pressure from high tech innovation and the primordial human desire for high touch connection? The answer, as with so many 21st century questions, is not either/or, but both/and.

If you want customers to keep your business at their fingertips wherever they are, there's an app for that. If a customer relationship would benefit from a welcoming smile, there is no app for that.

If a product tutorial video posted on your YouTube channel would help a customer in the field, there's an app for that. To be able to interpret the troubled look on the face of a customer as a clue that you haven't yet healed their pain, there is no app for that.

If customers want to check the status of an order they placed with you, whenever and wherever they are, a mobile app can be built for that. If customers do business with you because you remember their face, name and what they like, there is no app for that.

Remember Naisbitt's Law: Blend and balance the power of high-tech with the humanity of high-touch.


There's an app for high tech, but there isn't one for high touch.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top 3 Pain Points When It Comes To Marketing Your Small Business

If you have to narrow it down to three points I would suggest the following ....

1. All good marketing starts with the customer. You must have a solid understanding of the needs of your customer and how you can deliver value to them. To get to this point you need to engage in marketing research and segmentation efforts. While these are basic tenants of marketing they are tough to do well.

2. Once you have an understanding of the customer you must have an understanding of the market. The vast majority of companies never do manage to put together a market map. A market map details the relationships and values found within your market. The market map plays an important role in helping to identify market segments, positioning, and competitive presence. All of these elements need to be understood in addition to the customer knowledge noted in point one. Completion of the first two steps helps to build a situational analysis. Basically you cannot go forward until you understand where you are.

3. With an understanding of the customer and the market in place as a startup the final piece of the puzzle is your people. Understanding where you are and where you want to go is terrific but you need the right people to get there. Hiring the right people to lead your marketing efforts is a challenge that must be met in order to be successful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Frustrates You The Most As A Female Entrepreneur?

I'm the female half of my company and I often find that though most clients have no problem taking me seriously and they understand my areas of expertise and I quickly prove that I know what I'm talking about, some still pull stunts like seeing how far they can push me and how much they can get for free when dealing with me, but wouldn't dare do that when they speak to my partner/husband.

It feels like they assume I will be a softie - a pushover - just because I'm a woman and I *do* go out of my way to make sure they are well-taken care of.

I just get frustrated when some clients try to manipulate me and I see it coming from a mile away, but they don't realize I know what they are doing.

That or they think I'm merely the secretary!! (sigh)

So perhaps you could help women find creative ways (that suit their personalities and positions), to empower themselves and to subtly keep that power when dealing with certain types of clients - while at the same time still being of service and bringing relief to the client. Sadly, they don't teach this in schools - and experience can be a painful and embarrassing teacher!

Courtesy Of Michele O'Riley Eliseon.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Small Business Opinion On The Obama And Liberal Democrats Agenda ... "They Told Us"

We at Small Business Resources Cafe represent all corners of America. That said we are all fed up with the incessant over regulating, big goverment, unconstitutional, incursion into both our business and personal lives by the liberal progressive Democrat "agenda". They told us lies ... and it's time to call them on it.

They Told Us

They told us that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons would turn our streets into rivers of blood.

They told us that taking trillions of dollars and giving it to those “who truly needed it” would cure poverty.

They told us that giving home loans to those who couldn’t afford them would make the American dream achievable for all.

They told us that paying into the Social Security “Trust Fund” would guarantee a comfortable retirement for everyone.

They told us that allowing teachers to unionize in public schools would help inner city students reach for the stars.

They told us that the federal government could run a guaranteed, affordable health care program for seniors forever.

They told us that the new employment paradigm consisted of millions of “green jobs”.

They told us that their support for immoral and criminal behavior wouldn’t result in the breakdown of the two-parent family.

They told us that spending trillions on Stimulus programs would heal a damaged economy.

They told us that raising taxes on corporations and “the rich” would create more jobs.

They told us that our borders were “as secure as they’ve ever been”.

They told us that intentionally restricting access to our own sources of energy would reduce dependence on foreign oil.

They told us that spreading unemployment benefits and food stamps far and wide would help the economy.

They told us that, despite other failed government health care programs, they could successfully take over the entire medical system.

They told us that their record-breaking borrowing could never result in a downgrade of the United States’ AAA credit rating.

They told us that “the Constitution doesn’t matter”.

They told us that anyone who opposes their unconstitutional, un-American, reckless and failed policies are racists.

Well ....Everything they told us was a lie.

Everything they told us was wrong.

Intentionally, diabolically, criminally wrong.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How To Get Your New Small Business Off To A Good Start

Here are some tips:

TASTE, TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY
What does your research indicate is the trend in your field? Will it stay the way you are currently offering supplies and services or will it change? This item covers the developments you expect for the next few years. Evan a 'perfect' business can become obsolete overnight due to future developments. Specify a 5 year forecast of your field in your area.

SALES REVENUE FORECAST
Have you developed these targets? This section shows your estimates of future sales revenue for your business. Your strategic plan, needs to spell out the specific actions you will take to achieve your forecast sales revenues.

DIFFERENTIATE YOUR BUSINESS FROM THE COMPETITION
How does your business differ from the competition's strong and weak points. Again, remember to carefully look at your business from the customer's perspective. If you're not sure how your pricing policies compare to the competition, here are some guidelines. Most people associate high prices with high quality and extra service, while they associate low prices with low or average quality and minimum service. Make sure you provide extra quality and service if your prices are higher than your competition or make sure that your prices are lower if your quality is average and your service is minimum.

DECIDE HOW TO REACH CUSTOMERS
Once you describe your target customer, it's easier to create a list of possible ways to reach that person. One of your jobs as a businessperson is to decide which of all the possible methods of communication will give you the most exposure for the least cost in money or time.

EVALUATE THE RISKS FACING YOUR BUSINESS

COMPETITION: Most businesses have competition. How will your business differ in significant and positive ways from your competition? If your competition is strong, don't minimize that fact, but figure out ways you will adjust to or use that strength. For example, if you plan to open a restaurant next to an extremely popular one, part of your strategy might be to cater to the overflow. Another might be to open on days or evenings when the other restaurant is closed.

PIONEERING: If you anticipate no direct competition, your business probably involves selling a new product or service, or one that is new to your area. How will you avoid going broke trying to develop a market?

CYCLES AND TRENDS: Many businesses have cycles of growth and decline often based on outside factors such as taste, trends or technology. What is your forecast of the cycles and trends in your business? For example, if your forecast tells you that the new electronic product you plan to manufacture may decline in three years when the market is saturated, can you earn enough money in the meantime to make the venture worthwhile?

SLOW TIMES: Every business experiences ups and downs. Is your business small and simple enough, or capitalized adequately enough, to ride out slow times? Or do you have some other strategy, such as staying open long hours in the busy season and closing during times of the year when business is ?

OWNERS EXPERTISE: Nobody knows everything. How do you plan to compensate for the knowledge you're short on?
Write your risk analysis by first thinking of the main dangers your business faces. This shouldn't be hard, as you have probably been concerned about them for some time. Some of these may be on the list set out above; others will be unique to your business. Once you have identified the principal risks facing your business, write out a plan to counter each. But don't bog yourself down worrying about all sorts of unlikely disasters.

Above contribution By Kenneth Larson

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Which Type Of Lead Generation Is Best For Small Business? - - Part III

There are 101 different methods of lead generation and what works for you and your business depends on the products and services you offer, your target market and sometimes personal preferences. (There's little point in cold-calling if you absolutely hate it - and let's face it most people don't like doing it and even more importantly, don't like being on the receiving end.)

Essentially, people do business with people (or businesses) they know, like and trust and that can take time to build.

They can get to know, like and trust you from meeting you face-to-face at networking meetings, seeing your expertise through articles, demonstrations, blogs, referrals and recommendations, a regular newsletter ... etc.

Leaflets, advertising, email and direct mail campaigns, free offers, events, workshops can also work. Pick half a dozen and try them out - test which ones work best and stick with those. If something doesn't work, adapt, modify or change it to see if you can improve your response rate or find something that works.

For a web designer or internet marketer - I would choose someone I know or who was recommended to me. I certainly wouldn't pick someone from the many emails I receive, on an almost daily basis, offering their services.

I've gained most of my business from networking - both online and offline. Social media has widened the opportunities and the audience but can be a slower, more long-term method.

I can recommend the Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book - by Dee Blick which has great tips for small businesses and more importantly practical examples.

Above contibution by Clare Evans

Monday, October 24, 2011

Which Type Of Lead Generation Is Best For Small Business? - - Part II

For more than 10 years now, there has been a powerful trend for people to search the internet for the products and services they want. Not only is this the current trend, but it is accelerating.

The consequences, for offline marketers, have been brutal, with them increasingly fighting over a shrinking piece of the pie. They are in the unhappy position of investing an increasing amount of resources (both time and money) for a constantly shrinking return, while online marketers dine on their lost market share.

Ask anyone who has been doing it for a while how hard it is to get a new client, or sale, from networking, telemarketing, cold email campaigns, direct mail and a host of others. Especially compared to 5 years ago.

Regularly, on LinkedIn Q&A, there are questions from traditional marketers, that reveal the strain of trying to adjust to the tectonic shift from offline to online.

At the risk of mixing metaphors, the online marketers are catching the wave. The offline marketers are pushing a rope. Naturally, there are exceptions to both of these, i.e. successful offline marketers and failed online marketers, but that is exactly what they are, the exceptions.

As I say, the trend is accelerating. There is still plenty of time to catch the wave. You don't have to plunge in with a big budget. You can baby-step into it at a pace you can digest. A year or two down the road, you will be glad you did.

There is tons of free information available if you search 'Inbound Marketing'. If you want to accelerate the learning curve, there are plenty of people out there you can hire to help out.

The big winners here, will be the ones who learn how to substitute website visitors for sales calls.

Above contribution from Carl Diamond

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Clean Up Your Online Profile

October 21, 2011 BY  Neil Licht, VP Online Reputation Management for Reputation911

Your online image arrives before you do these days and makes an incredible first impression to employers, dating partners, business partners and anyone else who knows how to turn on a computer or use a mobile device.

Welcome to the digital age !

To make matters worse your online image is often created by others who might tag you on inappropriate photos, post about you on facebook or review you or your business on yelp all in an effort to tarnish your online image.

Reputation Management Products from Reputation911 like My Online Privacy will help you analyze your online profile, giving you a full report with a free online reputation score just like employers and insurance companies now use to rank and judge you.

By taking the appropriate actions Reputation911′s online image team will help you raise your online reputation score by deleting the negatives and building on the positives.  Here are just some of the areas we have recently work with clients.

  • Online Dating Profiles – Searching and deleting old online dating profiles and conversations that may be hurting your online reputation score and making current profiles private or invisible to search engines.
  • Facebook Accounts – Deleting or complete privacy option, only allowing access to friends and family that you add and everyone else will just see your picture, so opt for the fully-clothed shot !
  • Find My Old Accounts – Searching and deleting all old accounts that may be sitting idle in cyberspace waiting for an employer or stranger to find.
  • Blogger Post – Searching and removing any negative or inflammatory metion of you in a blog or micro blog post.
  • Video and Photo Sharing Sites – Searching and removing racy photos and or inappropriate video content that you did not wish to have posted.
  • Professional Social Networking Sites – Deleting and or completing privacy options for old or new sites you may have online.
  • Private Personal  Information – Deleting and protecting your private information from where you live to your income, marital status etc.

To learn more about how to clean up your online profile you can contact Reputation911 directly at 1-866-MY-REP-911  ext 201  Neil Licht  ndlicht@reputation911.com

shareshare

FILED UNDER: CLEAN UP YOUR ONLINE PROFILE TAGGED WITH: CLEAN UP YOUR ONLINE PROFIL

Which Type Of Lead Generation Is Best For Small Business? - - Part I

Remember that if you're looking to do service-based client work that it's always about relationships: with clients, with prospects, with leads, with referring sources, etc.

Online can make building those relationships easier and more accessible more often. Honestly, I would combine on and off line. Just be sure that anyone you meet offline you also find and connect with online to nurture the relationship you've started.

There's tons of ways to generate leads online. Just keep in mind that they all flow back to people having access to you. I've been designing websites and coaching/teaching my clients all about marketing and converting online for more than a decade and I've not once had a client who came to my website, found a 'buy now' button for my services and paid me without first talking to me.

Marketing/selling a service is different than a product. With products your conversion is list signup and buying - that's it. And the list signup leads to buying.

But with services you have two conversion points - one from marketing and a second from sales. The first, from marketing, gets people to engage with you - email, phone, in person, etc. They get to meet you and sense for themselves whether they want to work with you. Then, the second conversion point is the sale. That's when you work through a conversation toward a purchasing decision.

Service providers have to do both - build leads and then convert the leads into paying clients. So don't shortcut either process. And be clear that something like a website isn't there to 'sell' your services. Rather, it's there to generate leads. You, on your sales calls, will be the one who generates sales.

Along with all this, it's really helpful to read a couple of good books about selling if you have any confusion around it. I'm one of those sort of naturals at it but even so I've read a ton on sales and negotiation. The bottom line is be comfortable with the sales process and know that the biggest secret to sales isn't in what you say it's in how well you listen.

Above contributed by Dawud Miracle

Monday, October 17, 2011

3 Areas Today's Small Business Must Embrace Now To Survive & Grow

1. UNDERSTANDING THE NEW NORMAL

Higher interest rates
Slower economic growth
Increasing numbers of retirees
Less consumption; more saving
A more diverse population
A shift in the balance between private and public sectors
More uncertainty in our personal & national futures

2. APPRECIATING NEW CONDITIONS AND HOW THEY EFFECT SMALL BUSINESS

Chronic government deficits & cuts in service
Worries about how to pay for past promises
Creative destruction/disruptive innovation will change the way we deliver services

3. RECOGNIZING A WHOLE NEW WAY OF LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES

Future economic growth will depend increasingly on increasing productivity and less on labor force size.

Education has been the key to productivity and prosperity.

Future productivity increases will depend on decisions and the investments we make now. Public sector productivity growth will be essential.

"I skate to where the puck will be,not to where it has been." - Wayne Gretzky

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As A Small Business Owner ... What Keeps You Awake At Night?

Well, to be honest, as a small business owner I have to admit that nothing keeps me up at night, I have learned that worrying accomplishes nothing, and I do my problem solving and strategic thinking during the day then let it go at night.

There will always be difficult situations or problems that arise that cause distress and need to be dealt with, issues with clients or customers that are way beyond the norm, like if you are being sued or you are suing someone.

Anything to do with money, revenues, taxes, payroll, cash flow and the like if there are problems in that area and that tends to be dependent on existing and new business. For without customers you have no revenue.

The other thing is your employee satisfaction, productivity, loyalty and camaraderie. If there is dissent or friction in the office, if employees are sabotaging another, it can be hell on earth. When employee issues arise, they can cause big headaches.

So these are the areas that would be the cause for consideration if they are not going well.

Monday, October 10, 2011

If Small Businesses Are Economic Engines Of The US ... What Changes Are Needed To Re-ignite The Passion Of Innovation And Entrepreneurship?

Small business needs to be freed of excessive and punitive taxation and regulation. If you have an environment hostile to business, then there is no incentive to seek success.

If small businesses are successful, the economy benefits, America enjoys higher rates of employment, better conditions for workers and a better market for the consumer. But government has got to free it's grip first.

Most small businesses are taxed as individuals. In every case if you want to drive hypergrowth of our economy you ought to be considering a change from income taxation which punishes productive behavior to end use only consumption taxation, which taxes people only on the amount they choose to consume from our economy. The whooshing sound you would hear would be investment dollars and seed money pouring into the US to fund productive businesses that can now compete on price due to the removal of all or part of the embedded taxation inherent in the price of goods and services in an economy where income and/or value added activity is taxed.

The passion for entrepreneurship and innovation burn brightly, as always. Government just needs to get out of the way.

Small businesses pay ten times more proportionally than do large corporations to comply with regulations and tax codes, according to my friend Charles Wilson, a risk management consultant. If compliance costs a big company 1% of revenues, it costs us 10%. And that’s just doing the paperwork, not paying the taxes, fees, and premiums.

The time and money it takes a small business to deal with taxes (fed, state, payroll, local), insurance (health, liability, workers comp), employment compliance, etc. adds up to a sizable proportion of our annual hours. Every hour we’re answering a query from the IRS or the payroll tax people is an hour we’re not being productive, generating profits, creating jobs, providing products and services wanted by our clients.

All these government agencies pay lip service to the importance of small business as the engine of job creation and innovation in our economy, but their policies toward small business say just the opposite.

The cost: tax revenue lost on the profits we don’t earn, and payroll taxes on the jobs we don’t create. Multiply this by millions of small businesses, and I bet it’s a double-digit hit to the nation’s productivity.

While discussing the challenges of small business ownership with a friend and advisor, he equated the challenge of limited access to capital with starting a fire. He said, "To start a fire, you need two things: A spark and some wood. Unfortunately, in today's world, the higher value perception is placed on providing the wood."

The passion of U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship is not dead. It never even dimmed, despite the current economy. The challenges facing entrepreneurs are more centered in limited education, access to relationships and the costs of customer acquisition than in a downward facing economy.

While passion and innovation may fuel a business, they are rarely sufficient to grow and sustain a business. Experience, capability, quality products and services and the ability to compete - and to win - are essential to business success.

Sure, favorable tax policies would certainly help but they would also dramatically increase the number of competitor companies. What's needed are policies that do not punish the small business owner for being small and provide for a "period of sustainment" during which the small business owner is freed from excessive capital gains or other taxes that result from successful execution of business fundamentals.

I also think that we, as entrepreneurs, need to learn some lessons from our big business counterparts:

1. We need to band together and partner more often.

2. We need to seek out alternative means of financing, including bartering of products and services. Starting off with or acquiring huge debt means having to make a lot more money before you can turn a profit.

3. We need to work more closely with local Chambers of Commerce, elected officials and the media to bring more attention to small business issues.

4. We need to arrive at the discussion with real and achievable solutions that are applicable to a broad range of business types. After all, we don't want to necessarily remain small forever.

5. Finally, we have to learn when it is appropriate to set passion aside and apply old-fashioned common sense to the situation. One of the hardest things for a passionate business owner to do is to accept when we're in over our head, close up shop and try again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Should Obama Continue To Use Warren Buffett As His Symbol To Raise Taxes?

Sure ... it's the best symbol because the President's logic on the taxing issue is flawed.

Mr. Buffett should continue to be the symbol of why he and the President are calling for higher taxes - don't ask someone to do something you're not willing to do yourself. Asking someone to pay higher taxes - yet fighting tooth and nail when you / your company is asked to pay higher taxes - doesn't make sense.

Instead, the folks in Washington should be following the Constitution, getting rid of job crushing regulations, providing certainty in the private sector and tax incentives for work ethic, success, savings, marriage and charitable contributions in the private sector. But do not take my word for it, read up on Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman.

In the end Mr. Buffet made himself and many people very rich by careful investment in business in his country. A lot of tax was paid on that money and what was not paid in tax was re-invested into businesses in his country - creating jobs and more income and more taxes.

It is easy for a politician to point fingers. And often those who are simply envious of a man's success start to sound like jackals as they complain about his success.

Picking on the rich tends to drive money and investment out of the country.

If Obama wanted to make things start happening maybe he should actually start looking at how successful business becomes and stays successful.

No government can give to someone without taking from someone else.

When the well goes dry people will go thirsty.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Small Business Debt, Government Stimulus, And Priming The Pump

A kid wants a college education because they know their future career will produce more income with an education than without an education, but to get a college education the kid must create a major debt in the form of college loans to finance the college education.

A small business owner wants to build the business knowing the soundness of the firm's business plan, but to finance the business plan the small business owner must create a major debt.

Both the kid and the small business owner could play it safe, take no risks, and be content with the fact their future is stuck in park while taking satisfaction in the knowledge they don't have any debt.

The Kingston Trio had a song describing such situations very well. The name of the song is "Desert Pete", and the lyrics are as follows:

=============================
I was travelin' West of Buckskin on my to a cattle run, 'cross a little cactus desert under a hard bargaining sun. Thirsty down to my toenails, I stopped to rest me on a stump, but I tell you I just couldn't believe it when I saw that water pump. I took it to be a mirage at first. It'll fool a thirsty man. Then I saw a note stuck in a bakin' powder can. "This pump is old," the note began, "but she works. So give'er a try. I put a new sucker washer in 'er. You may find the leather dry.

[Chorus:]
You've got to prime the pump. You must have faith and believe. You've got to give of yourself 'fore you're worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face to your feet. Leave the bottle full for others. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.

Yeah, you'll have to prime the pump, work that handle like there's a fire. Under the rock you'll find some water left there in a bitter's jar. Now there's just enough to prime it with, so don't you go drinkin' first. Just pour it in and pump like mad and, buddy, you'll quench your thirst.

[Chorus]

Well, I found the jar, and I tell you, nothin' was ever prettier to my eye and I was tempted strong to drink it because that pump looked mighty dry, but the note went on, "Have faith, my friend, there's water down below. You've got to give to really get. I'm the one who ought to know."

So I poured in the jar and started pumpin' and I heard a beautiful sound of water bubblin' 'n' splashin' up out of that hole in the ground. Then I took off my shoes and drunk my fill of that cold refreshin' treat. Tthen I thanked the Lord, and I thanked the pump, and I thanked old Desert Pete.

[Chorus]
=============================

It takes priming the pump to get what you want and need. Desert Pete and his mason jar are the government and the stimulus while we are the desert traveler and the pump is the economy. If we drink what is in the mason jar, the pump remains out of commission.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who Is AccuConference?

AccuConference offers a broad array of tools to meet business needs, from audio conferencing to web and video.



What You Should Know About AccuConference



AccuConference hosts all of their services in house, from sales to technical support, as well as the conferencing products used on a daily basis.



AccuConference has been featured in Forbes Magazine as well as Businessweek and was the 2008 winner of the Telecom Association Member’s Choice for Overall Excellence in Conferencing.



AccuConference product features:



* Multiple Access Codes - Create customized moderator, speaker and participant codes for your conference.



* Multiple Conferences - Setup multiple "rooms" to host different conferences simultaneously and stay organized.



* Call Security/PIN options - Create custom pin codes to increase security and track caller ID's.



* Event Planning - We'll schedule your conference, create custom registration pages, and send email reminders.



* Recording - Digital recording with immediate download, including auto-record options.



* Live call screen - View callers and access moderator controls via the Internet.



* Pre-Conference/ Green Room - Review last-minute details in a private "green room" before starting your conference.



* Lecture Mode - This feature allows you to mute all participants on your call.



* Q & A Controls - Moderate a Question & Answer session when participants "raise their hand."



* Web Conferencing - Share PowerPoint, host a poll and text-chat with participants.



* Blast Dial / Web Out-dial - Invite callers from all over the world to join your call live.



To take advantage of all that AccuConfernce has to offer your business ... simply request more information here:



Audio, Web, and Video Conferencing

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strategic Agility For Small Business

Strategic agility is what makes your business a success story.. . being quick on your feet, nimble, responsive, always alert. Change is a constant in the business world, don’t just learn to live with it, learn to make it work for you. Opportunities pop up like images on a fast-moving video game….but do you see them or are you blinded by the old trap of ‘ the past’? To succeed, avoid being blinkered by past, its people, processes and procedures.





What was a robust business model and worked in its day might not now be appropriate for the times we find ourselves in. We must always question. We must always challenge. We must always ask ‘why?’ My business is constantly growing, changing, adapting and modifying. It is nothing like the organisation I started 7 years ago with a loan of £500. It is now a multimillion pound enterprise comprising two global companies. From personal experience I know that if we constantly hang on to the past we leave no room for the new and it is the new that will build our businesses and our lives and the lives of those we employ and those we come into contact with.





It is the New which excites me; the opportunities to work with organisations and people which were not even on my radar 18 months ago. Innovation, innovation, innovation is a key success factor. If we don’t evolve and constantly re-create ourselves, we die.



To succeed look outside; look to the future. Examine the world, your organization and your partnerships, your competitors and your operating environment. Be aware of opportunities, trends and emerging markets. If you don’t see a solution, create one.



Never switch off, keep your business antennae alert…. and yes it does require energy. If you are already thinking you don’t have the energy or the time then that tells me you are one of the blinkered rather than one of the brave.



We all have the energy and the time. But it is a question of choice. It is choice not chance which determines our destiny. I choose what I do with my time and my energy. The activities and people I choose to engage with all help me and my business grow and develop. Have a look at a typical day. Remember this is my choice:



www.steviekidd.co.uk/stevie/a-day-in-the-life-of-stevie-kidd/



The question is where are you expending your energy? Are you hungry enough for success to question the status quo, to look beyond the ‘obvious’ and to overcome the challenges ? Remember:



‘The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."

~Randy Pausch



Do you have what it takes to scale the brick walls?



To be Bigger, Better and Bolder you need to position yourself to face what might be a turbulent ride into the future. You cannot do that by facing backwards. If you have not already done so you need to get in training now and start your mental kickboxing programme. Strategic agility will separate the winners from the losers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why Do Tech Start-Ups Fail?

Generally because it is very risky and hard to start a new business. Tech is very competitive and big companies or other start-ups can beat you.



Specifically, timing is off, product is not right, product is too buggy, didn't get it to market fast enough, executed the plan the wrong way, employees won't work as a team, team doesn't understand underlying market space, money runs out, etc.



Above all you need a little luck. This being said good entrepreneurs can have success after success.



It always gets down to the executive team. The right team has the right ideas, works together well, etc.



Another problem has been solely building a company to IPO or get acquired because if it takes more time you can run out of cash. Focus should be to build a company that becomes profitable. Once this happens IPO, acquisition or just running a profitable company is the end result.



When VCs overfund a space, as they often do, this tends to ruin the entire space even if you have the right tech.



An inferior tech can beat you if they are very well funded by dropping pricing too much.



An entrepreneur recently asked me why startups fail. Startups fail because they run out of money. You’re probably thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know!” Read on and you’ll see that statement is deceptive in its simplicity



This post is based both on my experience as an investor and as entrepreneur (when I’ve boot-strapped and venture-funded).



They spend too much on sales and marketing before they’re ready. Many venture companies move to a high burn rate too quickly and it’s hard to go back. Sometimes even a frugal entrepreneur winds up spending too much either because he doesn’t manage the money or is tempted by having money in the bank. This often happens when a startup raises too much money too early.



Other times, this occurs with entrepreneurs who are accustomed to having lots of resources. They ramp up sales before the product is ready. Of course, there’s a lot of work required to get sales early on. But a product with a truly great value proposition that delivers in a measurable way will practically sell itself. Companies that ramp sales and marketing too soon waste a lot of money.



Sometimes even when the product is great, the sales process itself isn’t understood to a point where it can be scaled: who are you selling to, how much will they really spend, and what profile of sales person does the company need to hire who will succeed at selling that particular product. All of this has to be understood before sales can efficiently scale.



Spending on the sales and marketing operations means there is no return if customers don’t bite. When you spend money on the product that work can be leveraged in future versions. (In fact, the key to effective product delivery is to try a lot of things and see what sticks.) For every venture dollar invested, I estimate that more than two-thirds go into sales costs and only a third into product development. Once you up the burn rate, there’s no easy way back.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Time Management Tips

Time management seems to be hard for small business owners to get a grasp of. But it doesn't have to be. Here's a few tips to help you along ....



"Eat the Frog!" by Brian Tracy

Simply put, do the hardest thing first!



There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important things!



"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least" Goethe!



"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing"

(Stephen Covey)



In other words: prioritise - set goals - and check whether you are actually achieving your goals.



And recognise, that you simply cannot do everything.



Oh, and finally, don't try and schedule every single minute of your time. Do allow time for interruptions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Secret To Time Management

You can do 3 types of tasks:



Tasks you are bad at, good at, and love to do.



It's about task management, not time management.



We all know how well we do with tasks we do not like to do. Terrible! Nobody wants to do things they hate to do on the weekend, but we do it in business and think it's all going to work out fine. That's crazy!



But, what's the difference between things we are good at versus things we love to do?



The more we do things we are good at, the more we are drained of our energy.



The more we do things we love to do, the more we are rejuvenated. That's when we are at our peak energy level.



So, time management is really about task management and being at your highest energy level most of the time. Think about how much you get done and how excited and rejuvenated you are when you are doing something you really love to do. That's the secret!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ode To Obama (To Green Eggs & Ham)

This is for all the small business owners, fiscal conservatives, Tea Party Patriots, common sense Americans, and "We The People".



=======================



I do not like this Uncle Sam, I do not like the health care scam.



I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books.



I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their secret deals.



I do not like this man, I do not like this "YES WE CAN".



I do not like this spending spree, I'm smart, I know nothing's free.



I do not like their smug replies, when I complain about their lies.



I do not like this kind of hope, I do not like it ... nope, nope, nope!



======



2012 can't get here fast enough. We need to restore fiscal sanity and remove the yoke of over regulation on businesses.



Make Obama a 1 term president .... and clean out Congress of all the Liberals, Progressives, and RINOs!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Secret To Small Business Being Busy In Lean Times

This is one of the biggest problems small businesses face. When times are good they revel in it and don't create a strategy that can and should be used at ALL times. So when times get lean, they find themselves without a plan.



Get out the door! Create a sales plan that you can implement immediately and that includes networking, social media marketing, prospect research, and sometimes, cold calling. You have to generate activity and energy around your business. Sitting back waiting for the phone to ring is a death sentence.



You can't ever rest on current client business and incoming calls. You HAVE to get out and create the business. Building relationships takes time which is why you have to be doing it all the time. Now while it's quiet - get out and build those relationships. Find out how you can help others succeed. Attend events with the goal of meeting people and starting the relationship process. Do some marketing. You have to get your message out to the people or businesses who need what you offer. And it has to be a message they can hear.



If sales isn't your forte, take a training course while you implement the ideas above. Read a sales book, take a webinar, do whatever you need to do to build your client base.



Or go get a job. Ok ... that's alittle sarcasm for those frozen with fear or too lazy to do what it takes.



Above all if you haven't already - - develop a marketing plan. Here are some tips:



TASTE, TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGY ....



What does your research indicate is the trend in your field? Will it stay the way you are currently offering supplies and services or will it change? This item covers the developments you expect for the next few years. Evan a 'perfect' business can become obsolete overnight due to future developments. Specify a 5 year forecast of your field in your area.



SALES REVENUE FORECAST ....



Have you developed these targets? This section shows your estimates of future sales revenue for your business. Your strategic plan, needs to spell out the specific actions you will take to achieve your forecast sales revenues.



DIFFERENTIATE YOUR BUSINESS FROM THE COMPETITION ....



How does your business differ from the competition's strong and weak points. Again, remember to carefully look at your business from the customer's perspective. If you're not sure how your pricing policies compare to the competition, here are some guidelines. Most people associate high prices with high quality and extra service, while they associate low prices with low or average quality and minimum service. Make sure you provide extra quality and service if your prices are higher than your competition or make sure that your prices are lower if your quality is average and your service is minimum.



DECIDE HOW TO REACH CUSTOMERS .....



Once you describe your target customer, it's easier to create a list of possible ways to reach that person. One of your jobs as a businessperson is to decide which of all the possible methods of communication will give you the most exposure for the least cost in money or time.



EVALUATE THE RISKS FACING YOUR BUSINESS .....



COMPETITION: Most businesses have competition. How will your business differ in significant and positive ways from your competition? If your competition is strong, don't minimize that fact, but figure out ways you will adjust to or use that strength. For example, if you plan to open a restaurant next to an extremely popular one, part of your strategy might be to cater to the overflow. Another might be to open on days or evenings when the other restaurant is closed.



PIONEERING: If you anticipate no direct competition, your business probably involves selling a new product or service, or one that is new to your area. How will you avoid going broke trying to develop a market?



CYCLES AND TRENDS: Many businesses have cycles of growth and decline often based on outside factors such as taste, trends or technology. What is your forecast of the cycles and trends in your business? For example, if your forecast tells you that the new electronic product you plan to manufacture may decline in three years when the market is saturated, can you earn enough money in the meantime to make the venture worthwhile?



SLOW TIMES: Every business experiences ups and downs. Is your business small and simple enough, or capitalized adequately enough, to ride out slow times? Or do you have some other strategy, such as staying open long hours in the busy season and closing during times of the year when business is ?



OWNERS EXPERTISE: Nobody knows everything. How do you plan to compensate for the knowledge you're short on?



Write your risk analysis by first thinking of the main dangers your business faces. This shouldn't be hard, as you have probably been concerned about them for some time. Some of these may be on the list set out above; others will be unique to your business. Once you have identified the principal risks facing your business, write out a plan to counter each. But don't bog yourself down worrying about all sorts of unlikely disasters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Internet Business Reputation Management-Why and how to do it by Neil Licht, VP Of Online Reputation Management for Reputation911

Your online reviews are now a key element in how a buying decision is made. If left unmanaged they can drive people away from you and not to you.
So what can you do to protect your online reputation? by Neil Licht, VP Of Online Reputation Management for Reputation 911

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90% of consumers say they find online reviews a trustworthy source for product and services.

89% of consumers say online reviews have the power to make or break a buying decision.

4 out of 5 consumers have changed their minds about purchasing a recommended product or service based solely on negative information they found online.

This is up from just 67 percent of consumers who said the same in 2010 according to the new 2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker from Cone Inc.

A positive online review can do more then just make or break a customers buying decision !

Google knows that people are influenced more by what customers say than what your website says and now uses business reviews as part of its methodology in determining search rankings.

Business reviews have now become an important part of local search strategies for many businesses and why Reputation Companies like Reputation911 who can monitor online reviews in real-time are in such high demand.

Restoring, Protecting and Promoting a clients Online Image is how Reputation911 gains a competitive edge for it’s clients in this new digital age.

My Online Reviews - Business Reputation Product Highlights:

  • Analyze your online business image
  • See what is being said about you
  • Identify online threats & opportunities
  • Remove negative reviews and online threats
  • Publishing positive reviews across all social media sites
  • Increase site traffic
  • Create a high level of  authenticity and visibility
  • 24/7 real-time monitoring
  • Dedicated Reputation Manager
  • Guaranteed Results

Managing an effective Online Review Campaign is more then just flooding the Internet with “Business Approved” reviews that only accumulate on one or two 3rd party sites which customers are now starting to see as being Fake.

A client doing it this way may think they have a great reputation online via a single site, but then disproportionately negative reviews on all other sites still prominently show up.

That makes the Approved Site look suspicious and fake to customers. Thus, protecting and managing your online presence really needs the 24/7 attentention from a company that does nothing but that.

To learn more about how we can build an online Internet Reputation Management campaign for your business call us today for a confidential consultation Online Reputation Managers at 1-866-MY-REP-911 x201

What You Need To Know About Managing Cash Flow

One area every small business must keep a close eye on or risk losing control is management of cash flow. What follows are some important tips to help you stay on top of managing your cash flow.



Track your cash flow monthly on an Excel spreadsheet so you can see trouble before it arrives and those annual expenses like insurance, taxes, licenses, etc. that bite a big sudden hole in the cash flow.



Manage your customer credit carefully, a full-blown credit application that you then get a credit report on to see their payment practices is very helpful and without it you'll guess wrong a lot.



Give clients a reason to pay on time, whether it's the classic 2% discount for payment within 10 days of billing or 1.5% monthly interest on balances over 60 days is helpful. Making sure bills go out in a timely fashion (tougher than it sounds) and are accurate as well as detailed enough to show the customer value received.



Keep evaluating your pricing, underpricing or not charging at all for very real costs is a classic reason for bad cash flow but very hard to spot.



Watch how you pay your suppliers closely. The classic tip is to stretch them out until they scream but antagonizing or harming your business partners is just stupid when you think it through. Being the client who pays fully and promptly is huge leverage, being the slow-pay/no-pay is a terrible negotiating position for getting anything done.



Continually evaluate your overhead costs, consider them "broken" instead of "fixed". It's amazing what waste creeps in there and gets paid without further analysis. Meaningful value to what you're actually doing is key, paying for capacity you're not using is a common trap.



Watch for people who balance convenience vs cost the wrong way (and it can go either direction, wasting hours to save pennies is common enough too.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How Important Is Attitude To Business Success?

Last week I had lunch with a young guy in the banking industry. I met about 4 years ago when he was just a teller and hadn’t seen him since then. Today he pulled up to the restaurant in a gorgeous new car, had on a stunning suit and is now the community director of a very powerful bank. I knew little about what had transpired for him in those last four years – but I do know he’s in an industry that has been struggling and has a whole lot of people who have been let go.

However, it was easy to observe why this guy has excelled. Every encounter was courteous and affirming for the other person. From the greeter to the servers to the random people walking by, each one received a great smile and a sincere “thank you” for their contribution, no matter how small or insignificant. I didn’t have to ask about additional degrees, certifications, or inside favors to understand why his career has soared. He doesn’t have to “game” his way to keeping his job. In fact, he told me of the constant offers he has coming his way from competitors who have seen his success. And he’s making more money than he ever dreamed of a few years ago.

He has guaranteed his position, not through manipulation or asserting his rights or having a contract, but by being a person everyone wants on their team.

That sounds strangely familiar – like it’s right out of a book written in 1937, right after the Great Depression.

I have no idea if he has a college degree. But I know how his value would rank against most MBA graduates.

By Patrick McFadden

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 Ways to Attract Customers with Social Media



Business owners are always looking for new ways to attract customers. Newspaper, radio, and television absorbed media budgets until the advent of online marketing roughly ten years ago.  At Web4Retail (an online marketing firm), we educate and inspire small businesses on the benefits of social media and how it can attract new customers if managed correctly. Below are some first steps into the world of social media:


1. Create a Facebook Fan Page
There are lots of ways to get creative and engage your customers, and then their friends become your fans and customers too. It’s best to ask an expert to help you set up your page and manage the day to day maintenance.

2. Tweet Special Offers or Advice Daily Via Twitter
Sprinkles Cupcakes is just one business that encourages customers in its stores and on its Web site to follow the company on Twitter. Every few days, the company sends out messages such as “Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day! The first 50 people to whisper “rich” at each Sprinkles receive a free dark chocolate cupcake.” That gets people into the shop — and most times they buy another cupcake and a drink.

3. Encourage Customer Reviews on Yelp

Some 90 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know, and 70 percent say they trust consumer opinions posted online, according to a Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey. A Web4Retail client, Bedderbuy, utilizes Yelp beautifully for new customers and reviews. I encourage all furniture retailers to make Yelp a part of their online marketing effort.


4. List Your Business on Google and Yahoo

When we want to find anything, we turn to Google or Yahoo to search — and you can’t get any bigger in terms of Web sites than these. Google has a Local Business Directory where you can register your business absolutely free. And here’s what’s most interesting: You don’t even need a site to have a strong Web presence. It’s open to all types of small businesses — with hundreds of thousands posted. (Yahoo offers a similar service.) There’s no reason not list your business on both sites — whether you own a mom and pop hardware store or a bar, you want to leverage the extraordinary reach of these search engines. Check out Google’s tutorialto help you get started.

5. Be Your Own Publicist

Finally, the Web site ”Help A Reporter” is a free daily email service that delivers media queries three times a day right to your inbox from among some 70,000 bloggers, authors, TV reporters, and radio producers. Often the requests are for small business owners — recent listings seek smallbusiness owners to discuss creative financing in this economy; other queries are for gardening experts, jewelry makers; the needs are very diverse. This is a way for you to do your own publicity without the expense of a publicist to get your business mentioned in the media.

Web4Retail had designed and manages more than 100 Facebook pages for businesses. If you would like more information visit our website @ www.facebookyourbusiness.net or call 877-536-4786

Tips On Developing The Marketing Section Of Your Business Plan

Here's some tips on how to develop the marketing section of the business plan for your small business .......

I suggest that you evolve demographics for your anticipated customer base that allow you to develop a marketing plan from the customers you wish to reach with your product information. Demographics are generally available at web sites such as the US Census Bureau and other links below.

Seek information about individuals who are likely to buy your product, such as age, location, lifestyle, and similar information that would allow you to gear a marketing plan toward a population of buyers you wish to impress.

When researching on web sites I recommend that you change your search key words. Here is a list of preface words that you should consider followed by words identifying your product when searching on Google or like sites: Financial Forecast **Anticipated Revenue ** Future Market **Sales and Revenue **Market Coverage **Industry Forecast **Market Trends **Market Data **Forecast Data **Outlook **Others you may think of implying data and information in the past, present or future.

Sometimes the information doesn't jump right out of the page at you. You have to give some thought to how you are going to use the data and be willing to look at it at face value and think about potential underlying support it may be providing to your premises. You may have to change your focus from a technical one to a business one and elevate your view of information, then interpolate downward.

Give the best you can to preparation of all the other elements of the plan except the financial section and then use them as a springboard to complete your expense and revenue forecasts in the finance area to complete your business plan.

Online resources ....

* Entrepreneur Resource Center

* Ecom

* Fact Finder

* SEC EDGAR

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Key Elements For Success Of A Small Business In Overseas Markets

Here's a few things to ensure are addressed if you are intending to expose your Small Business to overseas markets .....



Make sure you are versed in their customs and know the costs of start up. You should already have a business plan but if you don't I strongly suggest getting one. How will you fund the expansion into the new market? What type of entity will you operate as (LLC, Incorporation, Corp, S-corp etc). Find out the international tax rules. What will your sales forecasts be? What about initial costs and operating costs? Who will represent you over seas? All this boils down to is there are market for your business in the Asian markets. When will you be profitable? Who are your competitors? What is your marketing strategy? The answers to these questions and many more will allow you come up with your key strategies as well as contingency planning. Having a great accountant who specializes in international accounting will help tremendously as well. You may seek some legal services as well.



Spearheading a campaign into an overseas market requires an incredible amount of detail and cultural/custom/legal specific knowledge. It would also be highly beneficial to transfer someone from your management team directly ahead of your startup - that way you have a source you can rely on to negotiate on your behalf and ensure everything is prepared smoothly before you invest further ahead. They can also be responsible for sourcing local talent for succession management with an excellent background in your industry.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's The Best "Simple" Advice For A Small Business Person?

Here's just a few examples gathered from friends .... feel free to add your own as a reply comment.

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1. Be impeccable with your words (speak with integrity, don't gossip or talk bad about others; it will come to haunt you).

2. Don't make any assumptions (ask questions and expres what you really want; communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings).

3. Don't take anything personal (nothing others do is because of you; what others say or do is a projection of their own reality and issues).

4. Always do your best (your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy or sick. Simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment and regret).

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Always be on-time
Anticipate what can go wrong
Be proactive
Don't bad mouth colleagues
Find responsible people to whom you can delegate
Don't lose your temper (it's OK to swear in private)
Learn to take very deep breaths.

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Don't stop working at a problem until it is solved.

The customer is your partner and treat each engagement with the customer as such - a win/win for all.

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Focus on your strengths.

Acknowledge what you have accomplished rather then what haven't.

It is okay to question yourself but never doubt yourself.

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Never underestimate yourself and others won't either.

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Never, ever disappoint a customer.