Category Archives: Editorializing

Building Skills to Become Better Entrepreneurs

by Jenna Smith

Although there is a wide variety of entrepreneurs, they all share some common characteristics. Those characteristics set them apart from every other profession or occupation. Without the entrepreneur, our national and world economies would fail. An excellent source for learning about entrepreneurial skills is Ehsan Bayat, an architect of international business worthy of emulation. One of the most basic paths to success to follow the structure of the greats in the past. Here are some more tips.

Skills Needed by Great Entrepreneurs

Ability to Recognize Profitable Opportunities

Entrepreneurs recognize the opportunities to supply products or services for profit. Their economic instincts tell them that people need or want a particular product or service in a sufficient quantity that will provide a desired return on investment. If the product or service does not meet that requirement, the entrepreneur looks for other opportunities.

Collects Data and Plans

The entrepreneur collects all of the information needed to manufacture and market the product. Since it is impossible to know how profitable a product or service will be without knowing the markets, the entrepreneur estimates the cost of production and marketing. Plans should also consider any competition and market share projections.

Supply chain management should be considered in this stage of planning because every business depends on satisfied customers. Customers are not satisfied unless they receive quality products or services at the appropriate times.

Creates Business Plans

Every entrepreneur wants to know how much profit is generated by the business. Beginning businesses have a larger percentage of liabilities that impact cash flows. A good business plan will indicate when the business has a cash flow sufficient to support the business. Until that point, additional investments may be required by the entrepreneurs.

Ability to Find the Right Person for the Job

Since few entrepreneurs possess all of these skills, the ability to find the right person for the job is important for success. Good entrepreneur surrounds himself with competent, reliable and trustworthy people who possess skills that complement their own.

Ability to Network with Others

A good entrepreneur knows how and when to expand his business. The expansion may be done through additional products or services in a sole proprietorship or by adding branch locations. Another method of expansion is to buy businesses in your supply chain so that you may control prices. Finally, good entrepreneurs build networks to add markets for their products or to create markets for new products.

Making it Happen for Your Business

by Jenna Smith

Entrepreneurs have a unique responsibility in the business world. They have to handle so many different aspects of a business in order to ensure its success. If you are in the process of trying to start a new business, here are some tips to help you make it happen:

Set Some Goals

When you want to be successful in your chosen field, it is important to make sure that you set a few goals along the way. If you don’t have a goal to work toward, you’re going to have a hard time being successful in the long-term. Set a combination of long-term and short-term goals for your business. For example, in the short-term, you may want to set a specific sales goal. In the long-term, you might want to set a net worth for your business after five years. By doing this, you’ll be able to stay focused and move into the future.

Make Your Employees Comfortable

If you are going to be successful in any business, you need to make sure that your employees are comfortable. The quality of employees that you are able to attract will have a lot to do with the quality of your work environment. For example, you may want to go to http://www.sitbetter.com/ and get some comfortable office chairs for your employees to sit in. When you take the time to invest in the comfort of your employees, they’ll probably be more willing to work hard for you.

Online Business

Regardless of what type of industry you are in, you may want to explore the possibility of expanding to the Internet. All most every business now need some kind of website to reach its customers. Most customers expect to be able to get online and see the websites of the businesses that they want more information about. If you don’t take the time to set up the business website, you could miss out on a lot of potential customers. In addition to providing information to your customers, you can even sell products and services directly from the Internet. This makes it much easier to reach people even when your business is not open.

Get the Legal Situation in Order

When you are getting a distorted business, make sure that you do not leave yourself open to any legal issues or liability. In this situation, you need to get a business license, sales tax certificate, tax ID number, and set up a legal entity. In addition to taking these steps, you should also get a business insurance policy. With a business insurance policy, you can protect your property and protect yourself against liability. This way, if someone is injured in your store, and then file a lawsuit against you, your insurance policy will pick up the tab for the damages.

Business Planning

As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to thoroughly plan out every aspect of your business. If you have not taken the time to create a formal business plan, you are missing out on a great opportunity. With a business plan in place, you can more easily attract investors and get approved for financing. When you create a business plan, you’ll have to look at things like projected revenue, projected expenses, market analysis, and competition. Just forcing yourself to evaluate these factors can have a lasting impact on the success of your business overall. Many lenders and investors will also require you to have some kind of a business plan before they will consider giving you any money.

If you want to be able to take your business concept from an idea to a reality, you’re going to need to stick with it. This isn’t something that will probably happen overnight, but it can be very rewarding in the long-term. With these tips in mind, you should be able to take any good business idea to the market and experience some success.

Read “Thriving in the New Economy” and Energize Your Business

The economy has changed – for the better! Gone are the days when big business was the goal of all entrepreneurs. In the Kindle article, Thriving in the New Economy, Diane Helbig and Marilyn Landis explore how the economy has changed, the impact those changes have had, and how you, as a small business owner, can harness these changes to not only survive, but to thrive.

Marilyn and Diane believe that small businesses are the drivers of the economic recovery. All small business owners should read this article to better understand how they can master the methods of success in today’s economy.

 

3 Ways Going Green Can Save Your Small Business Money

A guest post from Jenna Smith

Although it’s a bit of a departure from the traditional topic for this site, I think it’s safe to say that saving money is something that interests us all, especially small business owners.  And with more and more large companies hopping on the green business bandwagon, you’ve got to wonder if there really is something more to it than just keeping up appearances.  Indeed, if one does just a bit of research, it certainly appears that there is much more to it than that.  The following are just three of the ways that going green can save you some money, increase revenue, and keep employees happy in the process.

1.  Cloud Technology

Many big businesses are already reaping the benefits of this relatively young technology, both in financial and green faculties.  Cloud computing, and remote access technologies from companies like Vivint can provide numerous green benefits for your business, as well as additional security options.  One of the more notable offerings of cloud computing is in allowing your employees the freedom to work from home certain days of the week or month while still having remote access to all the important business information and files.  This can increase productivity, employee morale, be less of a strain on the environment by reducing emissions associated with commuting, and also save time and money also associated with travel to and from the office.

In this same vein, other considerations to keep in mind are Vivint security options and their green utilities, which can keep your business safe, energy efficient, and easily remotely monitored as well.  Finally, IT costs are drastically lowered if you adopt a cloud strategy, as almost anything that needs fixing can be worked on from a remote location by a knowledgeable professional.

2.  Out with the Analog, in with the New

If you’re still using a printer or fax machine for company-to-company communications via paper, you may as well be stuck in the Stone Age with Fred Flintstone.  More and more we are seeing traditional business practices being transitioned over to paperless computing methods.  Not only does using more up-to-date computer software save you money on supplies and costly maintenance, it also saves you time, which any good business professional knows, is money.  In addition, getting rid of all the paper transactions associated with your business is more environmentally sound, and can often times save you money with financial institutions that often offer some relief for paperless banking.

3.  Do Green Business

Although small businesses can’t always be as choosy as big corporations when it comes to who they do business with, if possible, try to build green business connections.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Making green connections builds the value of green-minded companies, which in turn encourages other companies to join in the effort.  This helps the environment as much as it increases your business’ ethical profile, and can thus land you more and more solid business as the green revolution picks up more speed, which it certainly is doing.

Like most efforts that can save your business money, doing a bit of research about green options goes a long way.  Look into the options and read about some of the benefits bigger companies are receiving by using cloud technologies and other green products.

Greener Printing Practices That are More than Just PR

Everybody is going green! Or at least they’re trying to make it look that way. As a civilization we’re all gaining an awareness of our individual responsibilities in saving the environment. And of course businesses of all kinds are jumping on the band wagon. But when are their efforts real and when is it simply “green washing”?  Using PR and marketing to create the perception that a business has green policies is often more popular than enacting changes to procedure.  But when it comes to printing practices some companies really are making fundamental changes that can have a positive impact the environment. It doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul or a major added expense. There are plenty of little ways that any business can engage in greener printing practices to help keep their day-to-day business a little kinder to the environment.

Recycled Paper

The most obvious way to implement greener printing habits is to make a move toward recycled paper.  The virgin paper production process is taxing on natural respurces like trees, water and energy.  According to the Environmental Defense fund, the creation of 1 ton of new, uncoated paper uses almost 3 tons of wood more than 19,000 gallons of water and results in over 2000 pounds of solid waste.  That’s why it’s so important to try to use recycled paper as often as possible.  While not all recycled paper is the same, the majority of recycled products created now are virtually indistinguishable from virgin paper in appearance. But there are a few key things to look for in recycled paper products.  First you’ll want paper which is anywhere from 50- 100% post-consumer waste (PCW), you also want to look for the letters PCF which mean that the paper was Processed Chlorine Free.  You can also choose paper that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Their approval means that the paper was made using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power. In some cases you can go completely tree-less and get paper made from kenaf or hemp. Even when you are outsourcing printing, you can select these kinds of paper for everything from business cards to brochures and presentation materials.

Recycled and Alternative Inks

Another easy step any business can take is to make a commitment to recycling ink and using recycled ink. Each year over 300 million ink cartridges are thrown away, and each one of them will take over 500 years to decompose. When you simply throw away empty office ink cartridges they wind up in landfills where they disseminate cancer causing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the ground. Rather than tossing out used ink cartridges, send them back to the manufacturer or visit any number of local establishments like Staples or Office Max where they have ink recycling programs in place.

When you are buying ink, there are a few ways you can make greener choices. First, buying recycled ink tends to be a little bit cheaper. And because there are environmental consequences to the production of every single new ink cartridge, from both the cartridge itself and the toner inside, using recycled cartridges is the greener choice. Manufacturing one single ink cartridge results in almost 11lbs of GHG (Green House Gas) emissions. Add to that, about 6lbs of emissions from the ink and you have 17 pounds of GHG’s for every single new ink cartridge. But buying recycled or refillable cartridges spares the environment the production of new ones and keeps empty cartridges out of landfills.

Perhaps the greenest choice in printer inks are vegetable or soy based. Traditional inks are petroleum based meaning that they use fossil fuels and are non-renewable. But vegetable and soy inks on the other hand are completely renewable and are priced competitively. While soy ink takes a bit longer to dry it is also easier to recycle on paper. The main benefit of soy and vegetable inks though is their relatively low amount of VOCs. Not every soy ink is the same, but you can get inks which have less than 2% VOCs. The disadvantages of course are that soy won’t work with many personal printers or coated paper like magazines. But many larger printing companies are now using them regularly, meaning that all you need to do is outsource to a printer that utilizes vegetable based inks.

Going Paperless

Of course the ultimate way to green your printing process is to cut paper and ink out of the equation as much as possible altogether. There are plenty of practical ways to cut down on paper internally and in marketing.

  • Replace inter office memos with emails, an intranet or another web-based communication platform.
  • Cut back on marketing materials like flyers and brochures and experiment with online marketing techniques. Internet marketing is a whole new landscape for advertising, and you can do an amazing amount of promotion through strategies involving social media, email marketing and online coupon codes.
  • Ditch traditional newsletters and switch to digital ones.
  • Rather than printing reports or booklets, consider digital power point presentations or small websites for meetings.
  • Implement a “paperless policy” in the office, encouraging employees to only print what is absolutely necessary. And when something must be printed, set the printer default on double-sided to cut down on the amount of paper needed for the job.

Going 100% paperless is hard for any business, but if you make paper use reduction an active goal, you’ll find that you can cut down on your paper consumption significantly.

The truth is anyone can call anything “greener” these days because it’s a hot buzz word. But truly taking steps to help reduce your carbon footprint requires work and conscious effort. The choices your company makes about printing products, policies and vendors will determine how green your printing practices truly are. There are simple decisions and difficult decisions in business, but taking tiny steps to help the environment should be the easiest decision a company ever makes.

Juliet writes most often for Print Express a UK Printing company that offers FSC certified materials, recycled products and uses vegetable based inks. Juliet has been working in marketing, advertising and brand consulting for many years.

Turn a Feature Flop Into A User Benefit

I’ve just recently purchased a Kindle and have to say that I have been loving it.  It’s a totally different experience from a book, but it has its place — namely next to my bedside.

One fault of the Kindle, that I quickly tuned into, was that it didn’t have matching page numbers to the real book.  This makes it really hard to reference for other readers in a review or a book club.

Another feature fault is that you can’t skip from chapter to chapter.  So if you’re one of those people that likes to read the end of the book first — you can’t.  At least I haven’t figured out how yet.

Kindle Has an Update

I just received notice that Kindle is sending us a software update (via WIFI) and that this update will indeed include page numbers that you can reference.  But when I read the description of the update I just about fell off my chair.  CHECK THIS OUT —

Real Page Numbers
Many titles in the Kindle Store now include real page numbers, making it easy to reference and cite passages and read alongside someone reading the print book in a book club or class. Page numbers will also be available on our free “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” Kindle apps in the coming months. As with all of Kindle’s features, we want you to lose yourself in the author’s words, so page numbers and locations are only displayed when you press the Menu button.

Did you see that last sentence?   “We want you to get lost in the author’s words! ” Isn’t that just the most beautiful, kind and virtuous description you’ve ever heard?  I get it — and it is really a terrific thought.  But THE FIRST thing I noticed with the Kindle was that the page numbers were these strange digital reference points.   It wasn’t a deal breaker, but it certainly meant I couldn’t reference a page in my reviews because I didn’t know what page it was.  It was a missing feature.

Turn Lemons Into Lemonade

This is a lesson to all of us who have product to sell and features and benefits to create.  ANY feature or lack of a feature can become a benefit.  You just have to look at it from a creative perspective.

Have you got a feature flop that you can turn into a terrific benefit?  Share it here!

What Are Your 3 Words for the Year

I’m not sure how long ago this was, but Chris Brogan wrote a post about choosing 3 words to guide your year.  This is his take on resolutions.  And I like it.

So here’s how it works.  Instead of making new years’ resolutions that you know you will ultimately break – come up with 3 words that will guide your year.  Not phrases – but WORDS.

These words need to be symbolic or iconic so that they represent an energy or a feeling that will guide you through the year.  So choosing a word like MONEY — may not be the best choice because it’s just too specific and not — well just not creative enough.  It won’t help you achieve what you’re after.

Think NOUNS.  You might choose a word like MAGNET — to show your focus on attraction or anything else that a magnet may signify.  You might choose a word like SPARKLE or NEEDLE or RIVER.

First think of what kind of year you want to create and then come up with a word to symbolize that.

Last year, one of my words was “CONDUIT” – I just wanted to build on my networks and bring different people and ideas together and launch them as a product or an offer.  And that’s exactly what happened in my business.

I’ve been picking “3 words” for a couple of years now and have found this to be a much more effective way of staying focused on what I want to build and grow in my business.

So what 3 words would you pick?

How to Be a Hero Today

I recently read a political/business commentary in my email and saw the phrase “Where have all the heroes gone?”

It’s good to have something to aspire to.  It’s great to see great deeds in action.  Yet, sometimes we seem to fall into a black hole of despair that is of our own making.

The first place to look for a hero is inside YOURSELF.  You must first BE a hero.  The natural by-product of being a hero is actually DOING heroic things.  These don’t have to be “running into a flaming house to rescue children and old people” heroic things.  They might include standing up for someone who doesn’t have the strength to stand on their own.

As small business owners, we have the opportunity to be heroes more than so many people because we control so much of our daily lives.

There will be no heroes left, when we stop being and acting heroic .

A List of Heroic Marketing Tactics

  • What does your business “stand for”?  This is similar to having a passion or a mission.  I think it’s a little more variable than that.  For example, you can be passionate about pizza, but you stand for your customers having the most healthy pizza.  Taking a stand for something is insanely heroic and will get your customers to notice and choose you.
  • What’s scaring you today?  Is there a big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about?  Today is your opportunity to be heroic around this and resolve it.  These situations are the equivalent of running into a burning house to rescue a child.  Take a few minutes in silence, put some words around your thoughts and make this situation disappear.
  • Do an anonymous good deed.   Heroes are often humble.  They don’t understand why everyone thinks that what they did was so special when it was as obvious to them as taking the next breath.  Vow to do an anonymous good deed today.  Just do it and notice that the power is in being a helper instead of the praise that comes with it.
  • Notice when someone else is being a hero.  All around us customers, employees, suppliers are being heroic.  Notice, and say thank you.

There are countless ways that each of us can BE a hero.  It doesn’t have to be some major life-altering event.  If all of us did one small heroic deed today, the world will become more of the place we expect it to be.

JRayl Trucking Has Fun With Videos — You Can Too

A lot of small businesses look at social media and video as something that “isn’t really for them” or as a “waste of time.”  It’s nice to see that JRayl trucking in Akron has put themselves out there with a couple of videos parodying the Geico commercials.

I have to admit that I was a little shocked at the content at first, until I realized that I was not their target audience.  But it did make me laugh.

But Will it Go Viral?

The fact of the matter is that no one can predict what will go viral.  But there are a few traits that the most successful viral videos have:

  • The content is entertaining, unique and funny – In other words, it should be light, short, quick and easy to understand.  JRay’s choice of using the ubiquitous Geico commercials should make it easy for people to get.,
  • Unexpected/Shocking or Controversial - In this case, they’ve paired the familiar Geico commercials with the unexpected, barely raunchy dirty minded guy – which is sort of unexpected and funny.  The question is – does it cross the line with the female side of the population or does that even matter?
  • Instantly Engaging – Because it’s so obvious that this is a spoof of the Geico commercial, I was instantly engaged and wanted to see where they would take it.
  • Short and focused. And of course it has to be short because that’s one of the things that makes it easy to watch and forward to others.

This video does well on just bout all these traits there is one trait that I personally like for corporate videos that this one didn’t have; I like the video to spoof a benefit of the product or service.  The Will It Blend video series is a terrific example of this as is the Old Spice series with Isaiah Mustafa - and in this example the Will it Blend folks combined Old Spice and Will it Blend,

Kudos to JRayl for Jumping In and Having Fun

Regardless of whether you like the video, don’t like it or whether it goes viral or not – JRayl Trucking did something that few small businesses (especially mature established ones like they are) have the guts to do; they stepped into the gray, had fun with something and put out a video!  That’s super.

What JRayl Could Do to Capitalize and Maximize

The key here is NOT TO STOP!  Take this experience and build off of it.  I noticed that their web site didn’t have a blog or a link to these videos .  On their “Careers” page there is a video – but no link to the hysterical one on YouTube.

I think the YouTube video says something about the culture of the company; that they are fun and  don’t take themselves too seriously.  We already know that they are an established and well respected company – after all, they’ve been in the business for three generations.

What are your ideas on how JRayl Trucking could maximize their exposure with these videos?

Do you think it will go viral?  If so why? If not, what should they do differently next time?

Experimental Online Marketing of Teleseminar — IN REAL TIME

Since reality TV has become so popular, I thought I might open myself up for some reality as well.  The point of this post is to show you that you are better of being IN ACTION than experimenting in your head — just do it.

Don’t Let Your Insecurities Keep You From Acting

I’ve been wanting to add eCourses, teleseminars and webinars to DIYMarketers for over a year.  And to be honest, after participating in the Focus.com Small Business Summit webinar last week, I was feeling more than a little hesitant because the Focus folks were so unbelievably savvy with their marketing process.  I didn’t think I could live up to that level of excellence.

But that’s the point – I knew I couldn’t live up to it because I’d never done anything like this myself.  So that’s what I did; I decided to take action and let the chips fall where they may.  I knew that it would be a learning experience and it has been.

Behind the Curtain – What I Was Thinking?

Who? About a month or so ago, I decided that I was doing a paid teleseminar with Rick Itzkowich — The LinkedIn Guy. I decided on this because my web analytics showed me that articles about LinkedIn were by far the most popular on all my sites.  So that seemed to be the logical place to start.

What? Next I decided to do a teleseminar because people are so mobile – no one is at their computer — especially on a Friday – which is when the teleseminar live event will be.  Besides – you have to start somewhere!

Pricing Model: I decided to make it a paid teleseminar ($39) because I wanted the attendees to learn something and not get teased for an hour only to have to purchase something to get any real value.  No BS – you pay to get info you can’t really get for free on the web.

Setting it Up: I decided to use RegOnline to manage the event — this was a great choice because I didn’t have the technical know-how to set up a landing page quickly, take reservations, payments, do confirmations, reminders, and a survey all together.  RegOnline – did.  That was a no-brainer and I recommend it.  You will have to pay a fee for each registrant – but what I’ve learned is that when you want to move fast and be in action – a small fee is worth the time and brain power wasted figuring it out.

Promotion: The promotion plan was simple, I started by creating a “referral email” which is an email written from the REFERRERS standpoint.  Basically I wrote it for my friends who would want to refer me.  I inserted all the details of the teleseminar, some bullet points and benefits and then attached it to an email that I sent through my own personal email to my contacts.  Some, I sent to groups and some I sent to individuals.  I will tell you that this was VERY effective.

Of course I wrote a series of posts around LinkedIn and how CEOs can use LinkedIn – issues that we’d be talking about hoping that people would want to know more and register — and besides – I needed to write a post to create an event for the calendar.  Overall – the posts got LOTS of traffic – and few registrations.

Step two was to send a broadcast email to my mailing list of DIYMarketers members.  This was the second most effective in that it yielded a couple of signups.  Another important learning was that I found out that lots of people didn’t want to PAY for something.  (Go Figure)

This is when I had the bright idea of letting people into my practice call with Rick – TODAY!  We have to prepare for the session – I want to hear about his latest travels to Dubai and what he’s learned there – and we need to firm up our agenda for the paid teleseminar.

This is risky – after all, we’re going to play around with the recording and see how that goes – some sound check and of course the conversation.  NOTHING is really planned but it will really give people the opportunity to hear Rick and see why I think he’s one of the best LinkedIn experts around.

Do You Want to Listen?

So if you’d like to listen in on our call and get a behind-the-curtain glimpse of what we’re up to for FRIDAY — then come on in — http://diymarketers.com/LIform  that’s a link to the form.  Fill that out and you’ll get the call info.

What I’m Interested In

I’m interested to know if you really HAVE to give something away for free to have a successful event.  I mean would you really rather be teased into purchasing something only to reject it?  Or would you rather pay to get good info and be done with it?

I’ll find out by the end of the week and let you know.

PS

So if you already know you’d rather pay, learn something and put it into action — Then REGISTER HERE for the LinkedIn for CEOs Teleseminar on Friday, Novemebr 5, 2010 at 1:00pm ET