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Archive for “Bootstrap Your Business”

Web Marketing

Small Company Marketing Plan

Small companies usually operate on a shoestring marketing budget. They do not have the luxury of hiring professional expertise or purchasing big ads in popular magazines. For this reason, their marketing efforts must be very focused and disciplined to gain the greatest benefit. The importance of branding cannot be underestimated. A distinctive brand strategy builds [...]

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College Dropout Starts Private Money Blueprint

Successful Real Estate Investor Now Educates Others Recently, I received an e-mail from Patrick Riddle of Private Money Blueprint, www.privatemoneyblueprint.com, talking about his history of dropping out of school to pursue a new dream of becoming a real estate investor. Like some of the top business owners in the country, Patrick made his entrepreneurial dreams [...]

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Survival Tips for Attending A Celebrity Gifting Suite

Whether you agree with the phenomena or not, celebrity sells. I have personally seen the momentum it can create with my own company, Glamajama. A celebrity fan or customer gives your brand credibility in the marketplace and makes your company newsworthy. Celebrity Gifting Suites are one of the many ways you can gain access to [...]

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How to Increase Sales in 3 Steps

If you want to get some new business, here are three quick tips that may help you boost your customer-list fast… 1. Make A List. Check It Twice. Look through all of your contacts and review the people you’ve met in your industry or at various conferences, local business meetings, presentations, etc. Then, make a list. Research [...]

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The Art of Getting Buzz in Entrepreneur Magazine

For many small business owners getting a write-up in Entrepreneur magazine is the holy grail of media coverage.  A few lines in the magazine can make all those sleepless nights, hard work, and determination seem rewarded.  No trophies or plaques required.  So what does it take to secure this much coveted ink? Aronado Placencia, host [...]

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Can a Consultant Save You Cash…and Heartache?

As a bootstrap entrepreneur, I’ve learned there are just some things you don’t cut corners on. My “golden rule” has always been to hire the best Lawyer, Accountant, and Business Consultant you can find, even if you can’t afford it. The truth is you simply can’t afford NOT to.  Running my small business over the [...]

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Surviving Tough Times-Interview with Author, Successful Entrepreneur George Cloutier

Want insider secrets from a highly successful entrepreneur on how to survive tough, economic times? Well, today you’re in luck. I caught up with George Cloutier, owner of the highly successful business, American Management Services, http://www.amserv.com/, to discuss his new book, “Profits Aren’t Everything; They’re the Only Thing.” Here’s what he had to say. Tell [...]

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Why Dell Beats the Hell Out of Threadless

First, they correctly targeted their customer and simply provided them with useful information.  Next, they implemented systems to monitor, measure, and manage customer service interactions.
(Great tips for handling customer service here.) These are great starting points and should serve as the foundation for any small business looking to incorporate social media in their marketing efforts.

While those are great steps for getting started in social media, it’s important that companies don’t stop there.  The real key to your success lies in your ability to actively engage that target demographic.  I urge you to roll up your sleeves a little and try some new strategies this year to finally get some ROI from social media.  To get you started, I’ve brainstormed a couple ideas below.

  • Include a playful and creative flyer in outgoing packages encouraging participation and possibly offering a reward… “Be a sweetie! (attach some candy to the card) Post a pic of you wearing this t-shirt on our Fan Page and we’ll send you a $5 gift card.”
  • Create a survey on Facebook or poll on Twitter (twtpoll) asking “friends” to vote on which new products to sell/create…the winning product will be offered to survey participants first, and at a discount. (See how Modcloth does this here)
  • Track down recent customers on Facebook and “friend” them with your companies Facebook page (who doesn’t want more “friends”?)
  • Spend money to make money…hire a Community Manager that will actually have the time to effectively target and engage new customers and strengthen your online branding. (Not sure what a Community Manager does? Read this by Chris Brogan.)

I truly believe social media is the future for small business marketing and I hope you can find at least one of these ideas helpful in your efforts to engage online.  Always be on the lookout for innovative new ideas to reach your customers and don’t be shy.  A sincere, heartfelt, and playful “hello” to your customers will be appreciated more times than not.  Just make sure you have the infrastructure in place to monitor, measure, and manage all those new customer interactions.

Need help with your social media campaign? Contact me directly here!

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I apologize for the outlandish headline, but I don’t really think it’s any more outlandish than crowning Threadless as the sales guru of Twitter.  I’m sure you’ve read some recent press in the media bragging about Threadless being the company to emulate when it comes to monetizing on Twitter. (Read one article from Inc here) [...]

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The Death of Twitter. (and the Birth of Twitter for Business)


So what does this mean for small business?

If you haven’t jumped in on the social media bandwagon yet, now is the time.  Customers and clients are using their blogs, tweets, facebook status updates, and more to talk about your brand.  (Don’t believe me? Watch this.) With the birth of social search, these conversations will now be mainstream for all of Google to see.  In other words, your customers will directly effect your Google search rankings.

Will Twitter be more business friendly in 2010?

Absolutely. Their real-time search collaboration is a big step in the right direction and Twitter isn’t stopping there. It has also launched a “Contributors” function (invitation only for now) which allows companies to have several authors send tweets under the same company profile. It is rumored that this may be one of the many new features in a “business class” Twitter account. These accounts would be part of an anticipated paid model launch in 2010. Also highly anticipated is the new emphasis on GeoAPI which will allow tweets to be seen with geo-location information. (Click here to read more.)

So what should you do?

Take advantage of this new opportunity to leverage social media in your favor by developing a listening strategy (read my post here for a how to), ensuring that your current web collateral can easily be shared socially (use AddThis or ShareThis buttons), and abandon spamming your marketing messages via your social networks in favor of developing mutually beneficial online relationships with key influencers in your industry.

Share your thoughts below in the comments! Are you using Twitter for Business?

Need help with your social media campaign? Contact me directly here!

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I wouldn’t encourage the naysayers to start chanting “the wicked witch is dead” just yet, but there has been a definite decline in Twitter users. According to the latest research from eMarketer, Twitter posted a decline in users from 23 million to 20 million. How is this possible you ask? Easy. The honeymoon is over [...]

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Celebrity Product Placement: The Do’s and Don’ts

As the “royalty” status of Hollywood stars has risen, so has their effectiveness as key influencers in consumer purchasing behaviors. Celebrity product placement is considered an “influencer-marketing” approach for helping brands increase their competiveness in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Marketers and small business owners can harness that power through strategic product placement opportunities that have [...]

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Small Business Profile: Guideposts.com

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of Guideposts.com—a site devoted to helping people find and reach their potential. This site interested me not so much from an entrepreneurial standpoint, but because of its history. The nonprofit organization was founded in [...]

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Why the Time is NOW to Hire a Virtual Assistant

With over 70% of the economic experts expecting a last quarter uptick in the economy, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the extra business.  I am a big fan of using virtual assistants to help build out my team during peak seasons.  This is an especially useful business strategy in today’s market place.  One of the best lessons a recession can teach us is that in many circumstances variable costs beat fixed costs any day.  To survive the feast or famine rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, you need to make sure your expenses mimic those same ups and downs.

Benefits of Virtual Assistants

Adding virtual assistants to your workforce is a terrific way to turn a traditionally “fixed” expense, like payroll, into a more cash flow friendly variable expense.  Let me explain how it would work.  For example, most business advisers suggest that payroll expenses should average 20-30% of your sales.   This would mean that when sales are flush at $250,000/month that translates into payroll expenses of $50-75,000.  When sales hit a downturn at only $50,000/month, your payroll would then move back to a more manageable, $10-15,000.  As a business owner, how closely you adhere to this ratio means the difference between bleeding red and staying in the black.

Additional Benefits Include:

  • No payroll taxes or employee benefit expenses
  • No “on site” office space requirements
  • No costly training programs when hiring experienced VA’s
  • No long term commitment
  • No morale draining lay offs during slow seasons

Understanding the Relationship

When considering virtual assistants to help manage business tasks, there are a couple considerations to keep in mind.   For starters, they are not your employee but independent contactors.  This means they will most likely have other tasks and deadlines on their schedule while they are working for you.  READ: They are on their clock- not yours.  Make sure you are respectful of time constraints and provide as much advanced notice of tasks, deadlines, and special circumstances as possible.  As with many business relationships, communication is critical.  You can’t blame a virtual assistant for not living up to your expectations if you never made those expectations clear.  In other words, don’t just say you need something “right away”, make sure you define “right away” as within two hours.

Getting Started

I also think it is wise to start slowly when building a new relationship with a virtual assistant.  For example, instead of requesting that they create a new website for you, start by having them update your blog template first.  As each task is completed satisfactorily, and communication strengthens, you can then proceed to larger and more complex tasks.  Also, be sure to discuss with potential VA’s their strengths and weaknesses to ensure the best experience possible.  If you are in the real estate field, consider searching for VA’s with backgrounds in real estate.  If you an entrepreneur looking for marketing help, be sure to search for VA’s with a background in marketing or who are currently active in social media.

Tips from an Experienced VA

For more tips, I turned to Dawn Martinello of Monday Morning VA.  As an experienced virtual assistant herself, she had some great insight to share.  She can be found at MondayMorningVA.

  • Be sure to have an exit strategy.  Does your contract give you an out if you don’t mesh well?  This is especially important for first time clients.  For example, our services are non-refundable, but for first time clients we give a 7 day grace period in which they can bow out of the contract if they aren’t working well with their VA.
  • When you’re considering outsourcing keep the price in mind.  My rule of thumb is that an entrepreneur shouldn’t be doing anything in their business that doesn’t earn them at least 2/3 of their regular rate.  That means if you’re a bookkeeper who charges $30.00 per hour, you should consider outsourcing anything that doesn’t earn you $20.00 per hour.  The reasoning behind this is that business people need to spend their time and energy on what generates revenue for them.  Spending 4 hours trying to update your website doesn’t earn a bookkeeper anything!

If you have never considered hiring a virtual assistant to build out your team, I strongly suggest taking a second look.  As technology continues to advance and better networking platforms are built, virtual work relationships will only become even easier.  A couple great places to start your search for virtual help include Guru.com, Freelance.com, RentACoder.com, or a simple “virtual assistant” search on Google.

Business Owners, feel free to leave any questions or experiences you would like to share in the comments. Virtual Assistants, be sure to leave any additional tips and your contact information including your area of expertise.

I’d love to hear your comments below and please be sure to follow me on www.twitter.com/glamajama! Want more DIY PR tips? Sign up here

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With over 70% of the economic experts expecting a last quarter uptick in the economy, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the extra business.  I am a big fan of using virtual assistants to help build out my team during peak seasons.  This is an especially useful business strategy in today’s market [...]

Continue Reading

Small Business Profile: Night Helper Watch

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of NightHelpWatchers.com.—a company based on an invention by Lisa Charleston. Lisa started NightHelpWatchers.com in 2004 after being laid off from a nursing job in a home-hospice facility. She transitioned into being a stay at [...]

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Small Business Profile: Visible Logic

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of visiblelogic.com. A well-designed message can position your organization, product or service to look unique, capable and strong enough to go head-to-head with any competitor of any size.  That is just what Emily Brackett (founder of Visible Logic) [...]

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Buy One, Give One

Referencing my prior post on Creative Capitalism, here is another business with a 1 for 1 model. A new project by California eco-urban design firm LJ Urban aims to make giving more concrete—quite literally—by matching its sales of homes domestically with funds to build homes in the impoverished African nation of Burkina Faso. Urban has [...]

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Small Business Profile: OutspokenMedia.com

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of Outspoken Media, Inc.—an internet marketing startup that was founded in January by three women who wanted more for their clients. Partner Rae Hoffman just finished 20th in the recent Startup Mom competition, an [...]

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Strategies for You in Residential and Commercial Real Estate

Given the global recession, real estate presents new challenges and opportunities for business owners. Businesses especially are affected by the pressures of reduced demand and tighter lending criteria. The fact is, you’re challenged to do more with less. I just moderated an expert panel on video as part of the Wells Fargo Webcast Series on this very [...]

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Small Business Profile: Heinz Marketing

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of Heinz Marketing. Matt has held positions at companies such as Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing, The Seattle Mariners, Market Leader and Verdiem. In 2007, he started Heinz Marketing to help clients focus their business [...]

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