Posts filed under ‘small business tips’

Create BUZZ around your product

Creating buzz around your product or service. Quit simply, how to make it viral. Follow these steps, stick to them, and you could create a really BIG BUZZ!

Continue Reading May 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm 1 comment

My comments regarding Neil Patel’s post Harsh Realities of Starting a Business:

Neil Patel suggests these top 7 harsh realities in starting a business.  I agree with some, but there are more important harsh realities that, although small, can eat you up inside and make you fear that the there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

His ‘Harsh Realities’:
1. Starting a business is like a roller coaster. He says there isn’t a ton of glamour in creating a company; instead it’s like a roller coaster.  You’d have to be a complete moron to think that starting out on your own is ‘glamorous’. This is a HUGE harsh reality, and fact.  There is no guaranteed level of comfort in the 1st year of business. Instead there is hope, but not too far from that there also lies failure.

2. Owning a business isn’t easier than working at a 9 to 5 job. He says that this is what most entrepreneurs believe, but it is very inaccurate. He explains that instead of having one boss you have many and that when you work at a 9 to 5 job all you have to do is work from 9 to 5. Hmm, well I know many entrepreneurs that choose their own clients, hence don’t have ‘bosses’ because they work with/for people they WANT to work with, and also hold regular work hours.

3. Consumers have to believe you are solving a problem. He says it doesn’t matter if you think you are solving a problem, all that matters is that your target customer thinks you are solving a problem. Is this not lying then if you really aren’t solving a problem?  Not only do you have to make life easier for your customers (hence the solving a problem) you actually HAVE TO SOLVE their problem(s).  If your marketing cries out a solution, then you must follow through with it.  Or else it will come back to bite you in the a**!

4. You have to make money. OK, ummm ….duh!  Unless of course starting a ‘business’ to you means donating your time/money/resources, then making money isn’t important.

5. You have to give a lot to get a little. He says in today’s world you have to give a lot. Whether it is free information or samples of your product, you have to do something to build trust from your customers. If they don’t trust you, they won’t spend money with you.  I agree with this, but at the same time, this is not new (I.e. …in today’s world).  Building trust and creating long lasting relationships is inevitable in business.  Your most loyal customers are the ones that trust you the most. David Maister speaks wonders on the issue of trustworthiness.

6. Coolness is inversely correlated to success. Here he compares Exxon Mobil to Facebook and Twitter in terms of coolness.  These are two completely different industries. You don’t have to be ‘cool’ to supply one of the most important resources, oil.  All you have to do is extract it and sell it.  When you are talking online terms, coolness IS important.  Answer me this; which brands are considered ‘cool’: Amazon, Twitter, Facebook Zappos, Piperlime?   Answer: all of them.  Now, answer me this, which brands are considered necessary: Exxon Mobil, Toronto Hydro, Twitter.  The 1st two. Twitter we can live without, but it is still cool.

7. Time is worth more than money. He says if you take your time and release your company when you think it’s perfect, you’ll be in for a big surprise. You will never be able to please everyone and you will always run into things that you never thought about. I can go on and on here, but really this all depends on your industry. Whether or not you’re selling a product or service, you MUST test it, research it, and understand it, before you make the launch.  You don’t want to bring a dysfunctional product to the mass market. It will instantly tarnish your brand.  Find a happy/safe medium between public launch, beta testing, and behind-closed-door testing.

My biggest and most obvious conclusion is that, yes entrepreneurship can be difficult, and it is not glamorous, but more specifically if you are going into business for yourself doing something you love to do, then it is NOT WORK. It is your passion.  David Foster said to the Editor of Success magazine, “If you aren’t working on Saturday or Sunday, then you don’t like what you do”.  In David Foster’s eyes, Neil Patel doesn’t like his job.


December 2, 2009 at 4:06 pm 1 comment

Why Small Businesses Fail?

I asked this question this morning on Twitter and the replies were fantastic.  Here they are:

1. @TanyaGeisler: I think Gerber (E-myth) explains it best…most business owners are working IN their business not ON their business.

2. @jeffparks: Doing the work to understand if the community values their ideas / products / services as much as they do.

3. @Cg6Inc:  You need to fail to succeed

4.  @skanwar:  They take their core competency for granted.

5.  @nav_een:  They don’t have a solid business plan/model (but that applies to any business type)

6.  @davegray: Lack of customers

7.  @markeelliott: The biggest reason start-ups fail is lack of revenue from poor sales planning and execution.

8.  @ethnicomm: They don’t have any idea on how to take it from an idea to something that generates cash flow.

9.  @AlexIkonn: Lack of support and not feeling connected to a community.

10. @AKthe5th: of knowledge in the sales process. just because you do something well, doesnt mean you know how to sell that to clients!

11.  @TraderZed:  Super Mario Bros. fail? Because they don’t give the Princess any attention, therefore, she’s constantly snatched by Bowser.

12.  @tukutela:   too high expectations from the founders

13.@THE_REFINERY:  Owners go into business thinking things will be different for them, and realize how much work it really is.  Also, entrepreneurs need to have a lot of faith in themselves when others are skeptical – takes a lot of confidence.

14. @todd_herman:  poor positioning in the marketplace and marketing

15. @jamiekalynuik:  people focus more on creativity than strategy.

Here are some other great articles about why Small Businesses fail:
– According to the Small Business Administration, two-thirds of new businesses survive for at least two years, and only 44 percent survive at least four years

– Avoiding Business Failure

– Get a Mentor to help You Build a Successful Small Business

November 10, 2009 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Overnight Sensation: Not with Social Media


Social media can make you a star. You can get millions of views on YouTube, hundreds of fans on Facebook, or thousands of followers on Twitter. But it will not likely happen over night. Just like you need to go to the gym every day to get fit, you also need to invest time and research into developing your social media marketing campaign(s).

To better understand what you want out of using any social media platform, you need to develop a strategic plan first. Creating and implementing a strategic plan will help you focus on specific goals and tasks to get you ahead.

The pitfalls in using social media:
1. The BIG one to understand is that Social Media (SM) takes time! Research shows that it can take over 1 year before smb’s even gain traction. It is much like traditional forms of marketing. Repetition is key.

2. DAILY maintenance is required. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all require daily babysitting. You must feed and nurture all your relationships in order to get anywhere.

3. Social Media will not make you success over night. Much like point #1, you need to invest time into prospecting people (LinkedIn), creating discussions and events (Facebook and Meetup) and generating buzz (Twitter).

Now, to think that was a mouthful, but it shouldn’t discourage you. Social Media/Social media marketing is also very good for promoting your small business. But you need to take some time to really hone in on your needs and start to work backwards to get started.  Do this by digging deep into your needs for Social media. Is it to increase membership by 10% this quarter, is it to sell 20% more of your product or service, or is it to be understood as an expert in your field.  Decide what it is EXACTLY that you are trying to achieve and work backwards from there.

November 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm 1 comment

Easy e-Commerce website creation

Small Business e-commerce

Continue Reading September 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Should Employer’s Set Internal Social Media policies?

Looking over shoulder

You know that horrible feeling you get when someone is peering over your shoulder watching what you’re doing?  It makes me cringe.  Well, the same goes for the use of social media during office time.  Is it ok, or should it be banned?

Twitter has been all of a buzz since its colossal growth in January 2009.  It seems as though every blog, magazine, news article and newspaper is discussing Twitter and it’s insatiable feeling.  Not convinced?  You’re one of the few.

Although you may have set up your own twitter account, I am sure you are still debating it’s business and personal advantages. More and more people are actively twittering and it raises a dilemma for business owners and employers.  Should you follow your employees?  If you do, what happens if you discover a tweet that pisses you off, or perhaps puts some serious business matter on the line or out in public? What action can, or should, you take?

No employer wants an internal matter made public; yet, that is exactly what all of the social networking technologies place at our fingertips. It is all very highly accessible.  You can send a tweet from a Blackberry, iPhone, and computer.  Any comment can be posted instantly.  Tweets often have no editorial filter beyond the user’s own judgment.  And as a result, the only thing separating your company’s internal crap from being aired in public is employee discretion.  It begs the question, what parameters can you set up to help your employees keep the issues and information internal?

Twitter is one example of how an employee’s right of self expression may at times be in conflict with an employer’s interest in preserving its company’s reputation.  You can solve this problem by developing and communicating effective policies to help manage employee expectations about what is acceptable and unacceptable.   Rules and/or policies may sound stringent but it helps in controlling what is said about your company and provides action plans for those violating the ‘communication code’.  (Also helps in monitoring who is or isn’t working)

For more information on Social Media company policies, Marketing Mystic Blog has some clearly defined methods.

August 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Shoot the messenger

Yah right!  In a society where the average person sees over 3,000 messages per day, it’s no wonder people are tuning out the crap and focusing on the relevant information.  Marketers are wasting millions on mass messaging this way.  So, how to avoid this pitfall on only a small business budget?  Speak to your customers personally. You must win individual customer share, not total market share.

To do this, you must understand your customer’s value: who generates the most revenues and profits? Why do these customers purchase from you?  Are they loyal to you and only you?  Gaining a better understanding of their attitudes, preferences and motivation that drives them to BUY BUY BUY can help you improve your relationships and, ultimately keep them as customers for the long run.

You need to find out as much as possible about your customers in terms of the following:

–          Purchase patterns

–          Product and service preferences

–          Response History

–          Overall trends

Once you tally up this data, you will then be able to segment, profile, and model your customers.  Result:  a database of rich information that will allow you to customize your marketing strategies.

Believe me, regardless of your industry, personalized marketing programs work.  Now you need to figure out what works for you so that your customers aren’t shooting the messenger…YOU!

Here’s a nifty marketing blog to follow:  Marketing Plan Queen.

July 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

RIP Michael Jackson


Although this is not small business related I just wanted to express my sincere grief for the loss of one of the worlds most influential and iconic music stars of all time; Michael Jackson.  He will always be remembered for his many songs, acts, ground breaking fashion, and love for all things worldly.

Thank you MJ!   You will be missed.

June 26, 2009 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Customers: Your weight in gold.

The power of customer engagement is priceless. Word of mouth and referral base marketing work, just bare in mind that it requires a strategic approach. Research, plan, set goals, plan again, and harness the power of your most valued customers, as they are the ultimate marketing weapon.  They are your business weight in Gold.

Gold Maple Leaf

June 5, 2009 at 3:20 pm Leave a comment

The Headaches of Contract Work

This post won’t change your life.  

I am simply trying to tell a story. One that is often told with great anger and frustration. I will not offer any tricks into being a better consultant, freelancer, or contractor.  But I will provide you insight into MY headaches and unfortunate series of events that have most recently occurred.  In the end, you will hopefully have a better idea of what not to do and what TO do if you are faced with a similar problem. (Names have been changed to protect personal and corporate identifications.)

The old saying goes “Once burned, twice shy.”  That easily goes hand in hand with my recent experience as a consultant.  I took on a job to write a business plan for a digital advertising start-up, similar to a plan I wrote for an incubator about 2 years ago. When the offer first came to my table, I had a sense of unease. My gut instinct said DON’T take this job as The man (what I will call him from this point on) looked sneaky.  So I put out an offer priced well beyond what I thought The man could afford, and to my dismay, he said yes.  Well FRIG!  I didn’t want to take the job, but I couldn’t say no.  

So we started. Initial meetings were great.  We were all enthusiastic.  Morale was high and people honestly believed that the plan would be completed within 2 weeks…as per the contract. (See picture below)

Although payment was delayed by a couple days, we were still getting paid.  So it kept the team confident.  Then the meetings started getting more frequent, longer, and less productive.  We were getting further from the end the more we met with the The man;  Who I might ad was very unorganized, had an extremely short attention span, made rude comments, and openly said to me “You will get nowhere in your current position at company XYZ.” (My current fulltime job)  — —>  to the young folk, this should be the absolute LAST string and I would highly recommend terminating the contract then.  But I stayed on.  

Why?  Because I had hired two college students to help me out and their reputation’s and money were at stake.  I had a commitment to The man and these two students. So I bit my tongue and continued….


Letter of Agreement - Company Bad

Names have been changed to secure the identity of people and corporations involved.


To be continued…

May 21, 2009 at 8:23 pm 1 comment

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