Featured Post

Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This video shares examples of a few veteran owned small businesses. Feel free to comment and share your own examples with website link belo...

Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Build A Successful Small Business Website

Every small business needs a website. Let me say that again ..... EVERY small business needs a website!!!

Why?

We are in the midst of the internet age ... and the entire world communicates and searches for information via the internet. People want information at their finger tips. If you aren't "there" .... they won't find you. If they don't "find" you ... your business suffers. If they DO find you ... your business soars.

So which would you rather be? Found .... or not found? Successful ... or failing?

The answer should be easy. Of course you want to be found and successful.

But how do you do that?

Again .... easy. Simply use the tools and follow the guide provided by SBI. Thousands of small business owners just like you are doing so today. They've learned "how to build a small business website" ..... and are reaping the benefits that come with that.

Here are some short testimonials from real SBI users whose lives and businesses have been changed by Site Build It! ......

* "Having the opportunity to share Vieques and Puerto Rico with so many people around the world is a great satisfaction. As a bonus, I get to go on a tax-deductible vacation every year. I can visit my beautiful island, ride my jeep, take lots of photos, meet great new people, and write travel guides about places I love. I felt that money would just be the icing on the top. Of course, I did not realize how much icing my cake would have."

~ Luisa Cupeles
viequestravelguide.com

* "The web site has allowed me to seed the market, prove the concept and create incredible buzz among the public who now go into stores demanding the product. This is how I was able to level the playing field and run around the big corporations to get my product to market."

~ Richard Bergman
Ideas-For-Deck-Designs.com

* "Actually, I'm more of a broker or a sales agent than a distributor. To my customers, though, I look like a large national distributor with multiple warehouses across the country.In fact, I do use several warehouses across the country, I just don't have to tie up any of my money in owning inventory because I let the "old school" distributors do that. I am a virtual distributor, a modern-day sales agency..."

~ Jerry Mack
Sonomahealth.com

* "My photography website is producing so much work offline it is stopping me from building more sites (which is what I want to do). I have started another which is also starting to take off, and now "work is really getting in the way of work." The beauty about everything I am currently doing, and plan to do for the next few years, is that my efforts will create passive and residual income. I am creating a pension that I can actually pass down to my kids. How many people have one of those?"

~ Nick Stubbs
All-Things-Photography.com

* "But the important thing I realized was that we could build, maintain and power the site by ourselves with little down. And, what was more important, we would be in control at every stage and could adjust the site quickly to our changing needs. Another big advantage is that SBI! saves not only time, but money, too. When I showed my colleagues the total expenses associated with the development of our English-speaking site, SBI! was nicknamed as an "Internet guerilla tool".

~ Nadir Burnashev
Chief Economist, Kazkommerts Securities

* "Frankly, I don't know much about online systems and technology but I do know about Audio, Video and Home Theater, and the SiteBuildIt! system let me focus on what I know best -- my business. I have been able to create a professional web site that gets significant traffic that provides us with qualified leads that convert into Axiom Audio sales which have an average value of over $800 per sale."

~ Alan Lofft
Axiom Audio

* "My puny little hand-built, local-dentist Web site broke the Alexa 100,000 barrier today and none of this would have been possible if it weren't for the power and effectiveness of the SBI process. (OK - I did put in a little elbow grease)"

~ Dr. John Burch DDS
DrBurch.com

* "I was able to reach the global market 24X7, rather than just the local market for my paving company that I was used to reaching in the past. I had left the manual-labor era and had become what Dr. Ken calls a digital worker... a knowledge worker who can reach the globe by using his brain."

~ Judd Burdon
Asphaltkingdom.com

Now that you've read what the SBI experience has done for your fellow small business owners .... would like to enjoy the same OR BETTER success yourself?

You can..... just watch this video tour and see for your self right here:

How To Build A Successful Small Business Website

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mom always said I should go into business for myself…

And I always said I didn’t want to as I did not want to deal with the headaches and management issues.
But, then the Great Recession hits and the career you built over 35 years is gone as you’ve been laid off and cannot afford to relocate or travel for extended periods. After a while you realize the so called recovery is not reaching your part of the country let alone your chosen field.
Luckily, I obtained a brief consulting project involving my field of expertise and suddenly a light comes on…you can go into business doing this and put your 35 years of experience to work for you!
I should point out our small business is comprised of my wife and me where as I do the consulting/field work and she handles the scheduling and accounting. I wish she were much busier!
Having never had the desire to be a business owner and no formal education that might include business we were brand new to every aspect of how to start up. Fortunately this information is relatively easy to find, from a number of sources and with only a few decisions you can be up and running in no time…really?
Some decisions you will have to make are:
1.)    A business name or I should say names. The name you choose will have to be researched for matching any other business name and approved by the state in which you plan to start up.
2.)    What type of entity your business will be, such as an LLC or a corporation. This is a critical decision for tax and other purposes, but should be a relatively simple decision as long as you have taken the time to understand the differences.
3.)    Do you want to deal with the business filing and name research yourself or pay to have someone else do it for you?
For us, we found our state, Florida, website www.sunbiz.org information invaluable. It was, also, clear to understand and allowed us to do the filing ourselves, on line and for only the cost of the fees. I am sure other states have a similar system. By the way, you can choose to file your LLC in another state than the one in which you live. There are reasons for some people to do this, but for us all we needed was to protect our own personal assets and open a simple LLC.
The whole process took less than a day to set up and I submitted our request for incorporation late afternoon and received notice we were approved by 9AM the following morning. With that, Construction Analysis & Consulting LLC was born…and somewhere, my mother smiled.
So, yes, you can get to this point very easily and with minimal effort. However, some of you may need to, also, set up with local governing authority for a business license prior to opening your doors. Your state may take longer to process your request and or the number of filings increase to the point it takes longer to process on a regular basis.
But now the real work begins and depending on exactly what your business is the level of difficulties you will face can vary dramatically. Ours is a very simple and inexpensive business to get started and maintain. However, as is true of most things there are always certain basic problems all small business owners have to face and overcome. We are nowhere near past all of these issues, but we desire to share our overall progress in this endeavor and some of the accomplishments and failures we have and will face.
Good planning should keep you on schedule…right?
Be sure to see my next post, One of our professionals will get back to you shortly

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How To Position Your Small Business As The "Go To" Expert

You want your small business to be considered as the "Go To" in your market niche. To get to that lofty position as the "Go To" expert you need to raise your business visibility in your market demographic.

To do this you need your marketing to demonstrate your knowledge, wisdom, expertise, testimonials and case studies. You can accomplish this by creating digital assets and syndicating them online -

For example ....

Maybe as part of your cloud marketing strategy instead of limiting yourself by doing everything on your own website, you perhaps leverage other resources out there in the cloud to help create sales opportunities for yourself.

Think about the digitial assets you may already have but not be leveraging...

* Ebooks
* Case Studies
* Reports
* White papers
* Presentations
* Articles
* Checklists
* Powerpoints
* Pdfs
* Spreadsheet tools
* Videos
* Software

You could of course also consider ....

* Registering on various "Experts Sites"

* Blog on various social networks

* Participate in niche groups on Facebook

* Participate in niche groups on Linkedin

* Participate in niche forums

* Answer questions on Linkedin answers

* Be a guest blogger on other people's sites using blogsearch.google.com

* Upload your own instructional videos on digitalmotion, youtube etc

* Use slideshare, docstoc, scribd


* Write articles and submit em to various article directories

* Spin your articles and create more

* Publish video testimonials online

* Create audio podcasts of your blogs, or chapters of your book

* Create your own phone app

Theres just a few to get you started. Pick a few and and set those up. Once they're established move on to a few more ... and so on.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Online Marketing For Small Business

As I've said many times, and feel like I need to reiterate, I would encourage you to take a good long look at your online marketing efforts that you are currently using. Really evaluate if your small business is getting the results you want, or if something needs to be changed or added.

One of the things to keep in mind is WHO are you marketing to, which should always be the forefront of your mind when you are considering a new marketing venture for your web sites.

In other words, if you were fishing, which of the two photos below would you hope would represent YOU after a day of fishing:





That is actually a pretty good analogy because if you only fish where the little ones are, all you're going to get is going to be sushi wannabe catches, but if you are looking for the BIG fish, you need to fish where the big catches hang out, and that is NOT in the local retention ponds or drainage ditches.

But don't spin your wheels on things you cannot control. Instead, focus and concentrate on the things you CAN control. That means fishing where the big fish are and using the bait that attracts the kind of fish you want to catch. That is done with KEYWORDS and BACKLINKS, both of why contribute heavily to the kind of bait you are using on your hooks and which waters your cast lands you in.

One of the inevitable truths of virtually ANYTHING you do, especially when it comes to producing revenue, is that:
"Hobby-sized efforts will produce hobby-sized income"

And it really can't be said more succinctly than that. So are you looking for hobby-sized income where all your efforts to do marketing effectively may gain you enough to buy a pack of gum at the end of the month, or are you serious about it where you are looking for income that can make your car payment, house payment, or fatten up your 401K at the end of the month, or even more?

There is a saying that "the one thing that determines if you are a winner or a loser is whether or not you take action". Have you taken action? Have you taken positive action consistently? Or do you just THINK about things you could or should be doing every now and then but haven't implemented much of anything so far? Nothing happens if ACTION is not taken. Nothing.

So at the end of it, it comes down to which road you want to travel, where your options can be depicted as shown in the following picture:



Hey, we are ALL busy, no issues there, I've been a charter founding member of that club for many years. Spouse, kids, church, yard work, social commitments, so much more, I understand. But what do you do in your spare time? Or if you don't think you have spare time, where can you CREATE some spare time? Did you really need to watch NCIS or Glee last night when you know it's being recorded on your DVR anyway? Did you really need to spend 3 hours a few nights ago reading other people's posts on Facebook? Did you really need to spend a whole evening last week reorganizing your paper clip collection? You know what I'm saying, because if you examine the things you MUST get done (and YOU are in charge of defining "must"), I don't believe that you are busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. And as sobering as that might be, the choice of what you spend your time doing is entirely in your hands.

So again, keywords and backlinks.

Digging Into Keywords

You could be selling new Lexus cars for cheaper than dirt but if nobody knows about it, especially people who are actively LOOKING for a great price on a new Lexus, you could be GIVING them away and it would not make a difference. So how do you let people who are looking for what you have to offer that you have something they should stop and take a look at?

That is done via the right keywords, plain and simple. Simple? Yes simple when you consider where these people hang out and what they are searching for that you can easily get your web sites RANKED FOR in the search engines. In fact, that is simpler than you probably think. To avoid giving you the whole enchilada on a silver platter, I'm going to use the keyword of "dogs" but hopefully you can catch my drift here.

So you have a web site that is specifically geared towards "dog collars". You sell various different makes and models of dog collars and have super prices from the leading makers of dog collars. That's good, but at that point, how do you get the word out? So you add some content to your web page about dog collars and how great they are, taking care to use your keyword phrase in that content at the 2-3% level (to avoid venalities of "keyword stuffing") and you include include phrasing in that content to include what the search engines would see as "LSI" phrases, or "Latent Symantic Indexing", or in other words, things that may not specifically SAY "dog collars" but are known to be related to that topic. This is unique content you have written, not simply snarfed of someone else's page and pasted verbatim on your page. So when the search engine spiders come around and read your page, they understand what your site is all about.

But this is a huge market! How do you get your site ranked for dog collars so that your rank in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) isn't on page 2,763 which people will never find?

You dig deeper. You look for keywords for the dog collar industry where you may have 4000 competing pages instead of 40 million competing pages! For example, if I do a search in Google for "dog collars", I find that there are 9.1 million search results. Yowsers, how do you compete against that? So you revise your site to talk specifically (with content) about "red dog collars", because you see in a Google search that there are only 2.1 million results for the term "red dog collars". Ok, you've eliminated about 75% of your competition but that is still a pretty hefty number to compete against.

Dig deeper still. You add more content to your page to talk specifically about "golden retriever dog collars", because you note in a Google search for "golden retriever dog collars" that now you have only 215K competing pages. NOW we're getting somewhere with a term that is MUCH easier to rank for! You could dig even deeper and lessen that but you get the idea.

To find the real shoppers instead of the people just doing their college term paper on the topic of dog collars, maybe you want to check the results for "buy dog collars" or "install dog collars" or "discount dog collars" or "quality dog collars", etc. Yes, it's a bit of manual tabor with checking and re-checking, but at the same time, doing this research hasn't cost you a cent.

Let Google Help You

Did you know that Google is more than happy to help you? But did you also know that Google will give you exactly what you asked for and not provide insights into better ways to ask? Let me example.

A great place to go to get keyword/phrase information is Google itself. Hey, go right to the horse's mouth! But there are some things you need to know. First of all, the Google External Keyword URL is:
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Bookmark that URL, put it on your browser favourites task bar, just keep track of it because this can be ONE (not the only) of your best friends. You can enter a keyword or phrase there and find out how many searches are done for it and how many competing pages you have for it, but like I said earlier, Google only provides answers what you ask, and there are some things Google won't tell you to get better results from this tool.

First of all, if you don't have Google account (like gmail), get one. (It's free). Then when you go to the URL above, click the "Log in" link in the upper right to log into your Google or Gmail account FIRST and THEN do your keyword research. Why? Two reasons: (1) if you are logged in, Google gives you more and allegedly better results. I haven't been able to confirm or deny that but several SEO experts have mentioned that, so since there is no harm in doing so, it is a good idea; and (2) after you enter your search phrase, if you are logged in, then Google won't ask you for the "captcha" before it works its magic, which is that funky phrase in graphics that you need to enter just right before Google will display any results.

The default, if you don't change it, is BROAD match. That means that Google will show results based on many variations of the search term you entered, many of which may have little to no bearing on the type of traffic you are really looking for. This can be changed on the left side of that page by clicking the search type box.

Another type of search is PHRASE match. This will match the exact PHRASE that you entered as your search term and is the type of search that I personally do myself most of the time.

The last type is EXACT match, which means that. This is the most specific type of search and means that your specified search term MUST be contained within the results that come back. You will notice that there are significant discrepancies in the numbers coming back from each of these query types so it helps to understand what the different types mean.

After you get your results page, you probably want to filter it using the link on that page (only shown AFTER you've done a search) titled "Advanced Options and Filters". You should only be look at the US since almost all of our carriers need to have at least one circuit end in the US, even if they have international locations where they also want a circuit. You can also click the title of the Monthly Searches column to sort them in order by ascending or descending, since as they are initially displayed, there does not appear to be an order (as it relates to number of searches).

Many of the people that spend a lot of time doing keyword research correlate the Google keyword results with results from other programs that may also include Yahoo and Bing search volume numbers. There are many of them out there, too many to list, but one that I have used (they have a free version) is called Traffic Travis, which will also show the competitiveness of each keyword shown in the results in terms of your ability to rank well for that term based on the competition. The "Cadillac" of keyword research is arguably the Market Samurai software, which is not free but provides tremendous insight into keyword and each keyword's relative competition.

Implementation

So how do you utilize those holy grail keywords you were able to uncover? Go back to previous articles here at Small Business Resources Cafe about backlinks. Create a blog about them, which points to your small business site! You could create a Wordpress blog for free at wordpress.org -- in fact, create say 3 off them, one targeting red dog collars, one targeting labrador dog collars, and one targeting spiked dog collars, where each of them would point back to your main dog collars web site. Then create another set of blogs at blogger.com that targets blue dog collars, diamond dog collars and leather dog collars, again all pointing back to your main dog collar site.

What you've just done from the 6 blogs above is to create 6 different keywords, all of which provide a one-way link back to your main dog collar site. And it hasn't cost you a cent! Now rinse and repeat -- create blogs at some of the other "Web 2.0" sites like Tumblr, OnSugar, Zimbio, Gather, WorldVillage, Xanga. LiveJournal, Thoughts and/or so many more and target the heck out of keyword phrases that you want to rank for, because from EACH of these sites, you are creating a one-way link back to your main dog collar site.

Oh and by the way, do you have a Facebook account? Chances are high that you do. Is your small business site listed in your Facebook profile as one of your favorite sites? If not, it should be because Facebook links are valuable and noteworthy to the search engines.

Summary

I hope these articals are helpful to you, giving you ideas, generating some brain juice, or perhaps just providing a necessary kick in the pants. Maybe you are already more than happy with your level of income and getting more just means more headaches for you with your tax return and the IRS, in which case I salute and envy you.

There is a saying that I learned at the airport when I go out flying that says: "Never let your airplane get somewhere that your brain didn't get to about 5 minutes earlier". The words of wisdom there are that your brain needs to be at least 5 minutes ahead of the plane, and you need to be fully aware ("situational awareness") of where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, having a viable and workable plan already in place. Waiting until you actually get there to figure it out is your worst possible option because you may actually be headed in the wrong direction, or when you DO get there, you are going to have other duties to contend with that you need to be prepared for.

The same is true of your marketing efforts. You need to be every bit as aware of where you want to get to as well as how you are going to get there. "More money" is not a sufficient direction, any more than "up" is sufficient when I am flying. Simply submitting your web site to the search engines is not sufficient to get you where you presumably want to go, especially since you are then competing with a SEVEN FIGURE number of people taking that same very lax approach.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Atypical Lead Generation For Small Business

The atypical is not to look at lead generation, personally the future profits of the business are in the business ... and there are many simple ways of doing things that have a huge impact on developing and growing the business before "lead generation" as we know it.

As one of the last things to get to in a business, it has the potential to be one of the most time consuming and expensive things you can get involved in, lead generation comes from everything else that has gone before getting the business to critical mass.

There are, personally, no new silver bullets and some of the ways that have worked best in the past are worth revisiting. As several people have said it's about connecting with people.

Stacy Hayes puts it all in context ... and very well I might add:

"Given current "strategies" I suppose what I'm going to say seems atypical...

I talk to EVERYONE. First, because I'm genuinely interested in what people do, what makes them tick, & their thoughts. I always say network for good karma, but it's really true. The vast majority of the people I talk to aren't potential prospects for me -- I don't care. I just like people & like talking to them."

There are some great quotes in Jerry Maguire that about sums it up....

Dicky Fox: The key to this business is personal relationships.

Dicky Fox: If this [points to heart]

Dicky Fox: is empty, this [points to head]

Dicky Fox: doesn't matter.

There's also a line that I couldn't find... Something like "to sell anyone, you have to love everyone".

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Number 1 Priority For Small Business Growth

The number one priority a small business owner should have in growing their business is ....

A business plan generated with care and kept a living breathing document staying abreast of the times.

A business plan is the vehicle by which you conduct the research for your market, decide which individuals to involve in the sales of your product, and validate your revenue and expense financial forecasts. It is the means by which you will convince first yourself and then others who can help you that your company has a road map to success.

Small Business owners should go to the SBA web site that guides them through the business planning process. They should follow the site presentation and note the factors to consider in growing a business.

SBA

This link contains examples of business plans ....

Business Plan Examples

Entrepreneurs can also choose a free counselor below who is experienced in their industry and that they feel can help them. They should try their plan out on the counselor. The counselor will put on a banker's or investor's hat and give them a reaction, then make suggestions to improve the plan and how to communicate it to a financial institution.

Free Counselor

Above all - PLAN --- to Succeed!

If you can't plan it how are you going to do it --- or convince a financial source you can?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What Does Sustainability Mean For A Small Business?

Sustainability means using a resource so that it lasts and renews, doesn’t get used up, and doesn’t have a negative impact on its environment.

For a business, this would mean that it is self-sustaining and self-renewing.

It has to make a profit.

It has to provide support for its owners and employees, and contribute to their long-term well-being.

It must generate a surplus to carry it through tough times and to provide a fund for growth.

It must provide a benefit to its community of customers; otherwise it cannot operate profitably.

It must innovate (i.e., “evolve”) in order to stay competitive and keep attracting its customers.

It must be a vehicle for the creative energies of its owners and other key people, so that it will retain their interest.

A business — especially a small business — is a reflection of the skills and passions of the entrepreneur. It is his/her vehicle to provide value to the community of customers. The more it thrives, the more people are benefited—customers and employees and other stakeholders.

In this way, a successful business does more than just sustain itself and the resources it draws upon. It becomes an increasing source of wealth. A community of such businesses builds a strong multiplier effect throughout the community and economy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In the era of the web searching educated prospect...how can you gain an edge and get the sale?

online-media-advertising In this era of the educated prospect that the web facilitates via everyone’s ability to search online, The prospect’s awareness of product, services and competitive offerings is often there before you are. So, how do you, as a sales type, approach making a sale in this era of the educated prospect?

You know, its not a matter of “lack of skills”. Our skills are still there. Its just learning how to adapt them to the "web as the new word of mouth and search" realities of our potential customers.

key-to-success tplus rxt Their reviews of your businesses and competitors can tell us a lot re how our target audience likes to shop and what’s important to our target audiences. We should Google to find reviews of us and our competitors and really learn from them. In our newsletters we send if we ask about the issues we find, ask what’s important and look for comments, we can surely come to see patterns of what’s important to our prospects. Then, we can use what we learn an now know to have a discussion with a prospect from a basis of understanding them and their needs, not guessing at it.

Its not just price that makes a sale, its perception by the prospect of the value a seller brings into the evaluation as an “expert”.

In our prospecting and selling approach, I think we have to accept that we are starting with a much better prepared "prospect" that has researched online and already has a good feel for what they want.

peoplealt Asking what research they have done, what they found out as we begin the face to face sales process and hearing it will actually help us hone in on a prospects actual likes and wants. We will look exceeding great then compared to our competition, be perceived as genuinely trying to make a good match for our prospects and the trust that creates should lead to a lot more sales.

What we hear must be shared with "Marketing", our internet sales people and our product development people. They then have real world derived "needs" to focus on and appeal to if we do that for them and our reach outs, ads, messaging will work in a powerful targeted way to help us acquire paying customers.

Regards, Neil Licht, privacy internet investigator, Repuration911 and Hereweare. callhereweare@verizon.net , ndlicht@reputation911.com

The Best Way To Advertise A Small Business On A Very Small Budget

Small business. Small Budget. Doesn't have to mean small results.

Step number One for any new business is to make a list of everyone you know or have had contact with ... Everyone.

Believe it or not, we all tend to know about 500 people, often more ... family, friends, old work mates, people we have bought from, sold to, helped out, spent time with etc etc etc. ... $ cost of this NIL.

Then Step 2 is to contact all of them, yes ALL of them and tell them about your business ... and ask them if they have any work for you, or know anyone who might, and/or if they would be kind enough to send your information onto others and/or post in on their work noticeboard or intranet. If you have email addresses use them, or call people, or send them some informnation in the mail. $$ cost = small

Whatever you do, you have to announce that your business has started and you are ready, willing and able to start helping people out. Lots of years ago, when someone started a business, they would hang a "shingle" outside their premises to tell passers by they were open.

You need to do the same ... tell the world, then once you've made some money you can invest some of it in another level of promotion ... just make sure that you always measure how much revenue you get for every dollar of marketing investment! Make it pay for itself many times over.

For online advertising ..... a website, Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo, Google, Superpages, Merchantcircle, Manta, Facebook, LinkedIn, Talent,me, BranchOut, Twitter, Thumbtack, Yellowbook, USdirectories, Kudzu, Insiderpages, Switchboard, Localsearch. Those are all sites you can add a URL, profile, picture, logo, etc. for free. You just need the free time and there are lots more. It would get you started and as you go you can start adding keywords, enhance your profile, etc. Basically it could just be enough without spending a dime.

The short answer though is there is no "best way."

Social Media might be right for you or it might not. It depends on whether your customers are there or not.

Here's what you need to do: diversify. You must try multiple tactics and rigorously measure the results. The ability to rapidly grow a business stems from the discipline of testing and measuring.

Now, there are a bunch of low/no cost tactics you can try:

* Referral strategies... there are several.

* Networking

* Cold calling

* Market survey (go ask people what they want, in person, then create the business they want, then go back and offer it to them. Hard work - big potential results)

* Host Beneficiary... align with someone who already serves your market and offer them an exclusive benefit for their customers only

* Free how to seminars/webinars/teleseminars (you have a ton of expertise that would be of interest to lots of people)

* Have a smart SEO strategy (that might cost a little, but could be worthwhile. I bet people search on google for your business)

* Build a quality fan page on Facebook with offers/discounts/coupons as well as continual high value information

* Videos on youtube and on your web site

* Door hangers or flyer drops if you have some budget and a clear area of town where your customer are.

* Start/join a referral group of non-competitive businesses with the same market

And more......

Sounds like a lot right? No one said business is easy. Start with a couple and then add. Measure the results. Keep those that work. Drop those that don't. And when I say measure the results, I mean measure whether you made profit on the program. If you pay $5000 on a campaign and it produces $2500 in gross profit, it was a bad investment even if it brought you 1000 leads.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How Critical Is Cloud Computing For Startups & SMEs?

How critical cloud computing is to *any* business - startups or otherwise - depends entirely on the business itself - on its needs and goals and on its policies and strategies. It is far from certain that all businesses need cloud services.

"Cloud" technologies are much misunderstood, much misrepresented and poorly understood even amongst those who work in IT: amongst the issues which are now poorly presented are

a] there's no such thing as "the cloud" - there are many many different cloud-like deployments of systems and services; each offering different levels and types of service. Some are entirely private, some are entirely public; and others are a mix of the two. Some clouds are entirely on-premises; some clouds are remote, and some may be a mix of the two. There is no "one-size fits all" cloud deployment. There is no cloud. There are merely collections of distributed services which are *described* as being a cloud - or as something or other as a service.

b] moving to a cloud deployment is not significantly different to deploying any other fail-safe high-resilience deployment of technology. The difference is that one has moved the complexity further away - outside one's direct control, and increased the fragility and the number of dependencies unless suitable risk and impact analysis has been done prior to the design/deployment phase - and done to appropriate standards of due diligence.

c] the reduction of costs is largely an illusion; we ourselves may see reduced capex/opex costs, but meanwhile the energy costs and Carbon footprints of the global data warehousing and cloud industry and all of its NOCs have spiralled exponentially so that they now significantly exceed those of all the worlds air traffic and are well on track to exceed those of air and road transport combined by circa 2020. Cloud doesn't reduce those wider social and environmental "costs" it merely moves them elsewhere - out of our sight - leaving "us" with the illusion that we have reduced our capex/opex.

d] moving to a cloud deployment is all very well but it increases a critical risk which has been with us since the dawn of the internet; the wire limit - how much data one can move between locations in a given time period. We are now creating [and using] data at a rate that vastly exceeds our capacity to move it.
We are also creating a gigantic single point of failure for all businesses which make themselves entirely dependent on the cloud; if all their comms fail so does the business. If their data movement time exceeds their risk recovery window then the business fails.

Cloud technology can be very useful; but only when all parties involved truly understand its risks and its rewards. Startups need to make informed choices when determining how critical a cloud deployment may [or may not] be for them. Appearances are often deceiving.

To put it simply though .... cloud computing is the wave of the future.

All the fascination about terminal hardware applications will be over in the near future. The "Cloud" and SAS will rock the hardware and software world and make access to technology easier for vast populations. Devices to do so will cost pennies on the current dollar or the will be free.

Like the PC makers, the sun is already setting on cell phone devices, associated applications, OTS packaged software and related products. Even though these products are enjoying current popularity They are expensive and will be rapidly overtaken by tight economics and services competition.

Smart,strategic planners are pointing to the future and it is not a hardware and licensed software market - it is service oriented with low cost access and rates. Volume, free products, advertising and shareware will drive it all.

Possible exceptions for a bit longer period of time are the high-end hardware and software technologies in government contracting, which for security reasons must be cloistered, protected and safeguarded. Your friendly government agency will be the last to boot its PC out the window.

Never has it been easier for start-ups and sme's to quickly gain access to enterprise grade, mission critical applications than now.

SaaS has given us price points that simply cannot be beaten by equivalent on- premise solutions.

Whether your looking for CRM, ERP, eCommerce, email and docs there are a plethora of vendors willing to help you move and stay in the cloud.

No more will you need a small server farm sitting in your office to manage your business. Start-ups and SME's today are virtually "born" into cloud technologies. It makes little sense at all to invest in depreciating assets like hardware and software when you simply can access all you need via the web.

The cloud is truly a transformational and disruptive force that is shaking the IT industry to the core, this can only have commercial and competitive advantages to any start-up and SME.

Look at it this way. The cloud can be likened to a second industrial revolution - adopt or die and start-ups and SME's are poised to be the faster adopters of cloud technologies.

You can learn everything you'll need to know about cloud computing by reading the articles at the below link...all the tips, insights, how-to's, and resources to get you going in the right direction.

Cloud Computing Advice

You can also get free assistance comparing all the available providers to meet your requirements...including cost quotes, capability, quality of service, and more at the below link. All you have to do is ask...easy as 1, 2, 3.

Comparing Cloud Service Providers

Monday, April 2, 2012

How A Small Business Should Approach Internet Marketing

Online marketing can be a very confusing and challenging topic for small business owners. Many don't understand why it's important or why they need any thing other than a website.

A small business should always take the time to learn about their target market. By understanding your target market you can better predict where you will be spending the majority of your time online. Then, once youe have that figured out you always like to start with a blog and a single social media network. You get your small business on a schedule, usually producing one article a week and on the same day each week. The content you produce is always educational, never a selling piece. Then you focus on one network to get more comfortable with social media and in a habit of using the network on a daily basis. Once you start to see the results of your efforts you expand onto another social media site and increase the number of articles produced a week.

This approach works very well as it helps ease your small business into the world of social media. Others have tried the approach of getting onto all of the networks as well and just find that it's too time consuming and overwhelming so they get off line as quickly as they got in.

In short .... networking is the answer. View your network like a wheel. The hub is your core content (web site, blog, books, articles, useful materials). The spokes leading from the hub are the tools you use to network your content that are linked to your hub.

Your contacts are the engines that power the wheel on the spokes of your hub.

Under this operating philosophy there are no limits to connections, members, friends, tweets and news feeds.

The real limiting factor is the quality of the core content. It is the fuel that feeds your engines and powers your wheel.

There is a very detailed guide to Internet marketing that literally spells out everything you should be doing with step by step instructions for the non-marketer. It's called "The NOOB Guide to Online Marketing". It is, by far, the best resource to get you up and running that I have come across. Just go step by step and you should be all set!

The NOOB Guide to Online Marketing