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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

Small scale businesses are easier to set up compared to the middle or large scale businesses that require more time, feasibility reports, ad...

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

_________________________

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