StartupNation » Grow Your Business http://www.startupnation.com Rock Your Business! Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © StartupNation 2014 webmaster@startupnation.com (StartupNation Media Group, INC) webmaster@startupnation.com (StartupNation Media Group, INC) business 1440 http://www.startupnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/rss-feed-logo.png StartupNation http://www.startupnation.com 144 144 StartupNation provides content, resources, and community to help you build your business. StartupNation offers articles, blogs, step-by-step tutorials, a weekly radio show, community forums, and many more resources to help small businesses grow their business, and aspiring entrepreneurs start a business. small, business, entrepreneur, startupnation, marketing, business, plan, funding, inventor, home, business, sales StartupNation Media Group, INC StartupNation Media Group, INC webmaster@startupnation.com no no B2C and B2B Content Marketing – Is Your Copy Just Sitting There? http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/b2b-content/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/b2b-content/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:27:37 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16864 It’s time for a content strategy that produces actual results! You write weekly blogs to share your insight and post regularly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more. You have tons of Web pages, Infographics, videos, company news, articles… the list goes on. That’s great. You win an award for having lots of content. But [...]

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It’s time for a content strategy that produces actual results!

You write weekly blogs to share your insight and post regularly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more.

You have tons of Web pages, Infographics, videos, company news, articles… the list goes on. That’s great. You win an award for having lots of content.

But if you don’t have a B2C or B2B Content Marketing Plan with a Content Strategy in place, that’s all you get… a nice award for your office.

Make your copy do something with B2C or B2B Content Marketing!

Whether you are in a business that serves customers (BtoC or B2C) or other businesses (BtoB or B2B), it’s time to make your content work for you. While it may feel good to voice your opinions and insights, tell people how great your products are and share the latest news and trends about your industry, you are not helping your company. In fact, you may be wasting time, effort and large amount of money!

It’s 2015, and marketing, advertising, public relations, and sales no operate in silos. With today’s technology, you can track activities as they happen, and everything works together to help a business grow successfully.

Are you taking advantage of this, or are you stuck in the old times?

If you are not one of the 86% of respondents who stated that they use content marketing in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 report on BtoB Marketing and BtoC Marketing, then you need a content marketing plan and content strategy to go with it!

Why?

1. Get actual results.

You can use your content marketing strategy to increase sales and awareness… AND actually show the results to your financial team and advisory board.

By setting up tracking mechanisms on your content, you can see exactly which content is linked to actual purchases. You can also analyze which content is boosting site visits, what your customers like most, and more. When it comes to content marketing, technology gives us the numbers we need to make decisions for the overall business.

2. Stop wasting time and money.

If you are just creating content and posting it because you want to share information about your products, services, viewpoints, and news, or feel you need to be active online socially because everyone else is, you are definitely wasting resources.

Instead, all of your blogs, videos, articles, newsletters, social-media posts, and other content should have goals and strategies behind it. What are you trying to do with each piece of content and how are you going to track it? If you are trying to increase sales, your content needs to guide customers through a process and get them to a well-written landing page so they actually make a purchase!

3. Provide better customer service.

Give your customers valuable information and will want to share with others. If you are not tracking your content data on a regular basis to see what is most popular, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity.

Monitor the content your customers click on and share on a daily basis. Then, you can learn about what they want and give them more of that content!

Use B2C and B2B Content Marketing and Content Strategy to be More Successful!

Technology makes it possible to create content and share it with thousands of people on a worldwide basis… instantly. This is a valuable opportunity to boost sales, awareness and credibility without spending a lot of money.

But if you don’t have a content marketing plan in place, you end up losing time and resources.

Instead, develop a content marketing plan and content strategy for all of your content. Figure out what you want to accomplish, the kind of content you need to reach your goals, how you are going to distribute that content, and most important, how you are going to track and change your content to ensure it is provides the best results possible. Once this process is in place, you will be able to give your customers and shareholders exactly what they want, reach sales goals and grow a successfully business!

What do you need to do today to make your content work for you?

For help developing your BtoB content marketing plan and content strategy, please contact me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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5 Ways to Find New Customers Fast http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/5-ways-find-new-customers-fast/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/5-ways-find-new-customers-fast/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 22:04:35 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16726 Time to Boost Sales without Spending a Fortune! As a small business owner, you are probably always thinking about your sales quotas and new customers. With all of your marketing, accounting, and other, responsibilities, the whole process can be overwhelming. But it’s time to step back and take a more simple approach. Here are… 5 [...]

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Time to Boost Sales without Spending a Fortune!

As a small business owner, you are probably always thinking about your sales quotas and new customers. With all of your marketing, accounting, and other, responsibilities, the whole process can be overwhelming. But it’s time to step back and take a more simple approach.

Here are…

5 Ways to Find (and Keep) New Customers… without spending a fortune.

1.      Review current processes.

Are you sticking with traditional, sales methods and waiting for the results to come in?

Are you using new products and service to increase sales?

Either way, it’s time to take a moment to review all of your processes. What is actually working? You may be spending time and effort on methods that are not increasing sales. Take the time to look at what is going on, and make the appropriate changes for the best results.

2.      Have an outsider do a review.

Find some people in your target-market who would be willing to review your marketing content, and get their honest opinions. You may find out that your “fantastic” Website-copy, marketing brochures and other materials are not really that fantastic… and are actually turning new customers away. Sometimes, the truth hurts, but that’s what you need to turn sales around!

3.      Think about your customers.

Take a few minutes and think about what your customers want right now.

How can you fulfill their needs as quickly and effectively as possible?

Develop a contest, coupon, eReport, free gift, or something else just for them. You can also send out an e-mail or note thanking them for their patronage. After all, a simple thank-you can go a long way. Let your customers know you are thinking about them right now.

4.      Communicate with your network.

When was the last time you provided valuable information to your network of contacts?

In addition to creating something to meet the desires of your customers, also think of ways to help associates, partners, suppliers, and even competitors.

By reaching out to help others, you’ll build relationships and a loyal reputation. This can do wonders for your future success. And you never know who may have some customer referrals just waiting for you. But you’ll never know, if you don’t reach out!

5.      Create content.

If you don’t have current content on your Website or blog showing your unique characteristics and expertise, it’s time to write something. Let your customers know what you are doing, how you are trying to help them, and provide some valuable insights, facts and links to other resources.

This simple act can do wonders to increase online awareness, build buzz and get new customers to your site. Start writing, track results, and see what happens!

Stop Worrying and Start Selling!

Instead of being overwhelmed by meeting sales quotas, focus on a few, simple steps that will actually make a difference.

Review your processes and have others review your marketing materials. Give your customers what they want, try to help others in your network, and offer some new and unique content. While they steps do not cost a lot of money, they can increase positive, word-of-mouth and bring big results.

Stop. Make a few changes and see what happens.

Then, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you effectively build your list of new, and loyal customers.

What are you going to do today to bring in new customers?

For additional tips on content marketing and sales, please contact me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

 

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Success and Failure http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/success-failure/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/success-failure/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 21:51:25 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16576 It has been over two decades since I started my first company at age 25. My early years in business were emotionally draining. I wrestled with every decision, second guessing whether it was the right move. I had personified my company; if the business failed then I was a failure. Unfortunately, I was more motivated [...]

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It has been over two decades since I started my first company at age 25.

My early years in business were emotionally draining. I wrestled with every decision, second guessing whether it was the right move. I had personified my company; if the business failed then I was a failure. Unfortunately, I was more motivated by the fear of failure than a desire to succeed.

Five years later I decided to close the business in order to relocate. As I was driving to California I started to think about the amount of time I spent worrying about the possibility of a business failure. Yet in the end, I chose to shut it down. How ironic I thought. This prompted me to rewrite my definition for success and failure—to succeed was to try and to fail was to give into fear and not try. This simple change in mindset did improve my well-being. I was no longer emotionally attached to the business outcome. However, the “go for it” attitude did not support logical decision making.

Twenty years later, at the height of my consulting career the recession hit. During a strategic meeting with one of my clients I suggested they downsize or consider closing the doors. The company had been in financial trouble prior to the recession and I did not believe their ailing business model could withstand another hit. Not wanting to fail, they invested their life savings into the company only to lose everything two years later. Before the recession was over, I watched many businesses perish. This caused me to question my financial security and happiness. I revisited an old question, “What is the definition of success and failure?”

In my dismay, I made a bold decision. I would chose a balanced lifestyle, working less and pursuing my other love—rock climbing. For many years now I have equally divided my time between my business and climbing. I have gained a new perspective about life, risk, success and failure. I now apply the lessons learned during climbing to my business strategies.

Sometimes it Takes Repeated Failures to Learn

In my previous article I wrote about climb called Illusion Dweller, located in Joshua Tree Park. I had fallen twenty feet when attempting the climb. In the article I compared the failed attempt of the climb with my client’s forced business closure. This last weekend I attempted the climb again. At this point in the story you would expect a declaration of victory with an epitome about the need to fail before you finally succeed. However, that is not what happened. This time I failed miserably, worse than my first attempt. Once again I fell twenty feet, in the same place as last time. Unexpectedly, I then fell five more times at the roof of the climb. An area I had climbed through successfully several times before.

I had determined the fall had been due to physical exhaustion. I now realize my approach was technically incorrect. My hand placed into a crack in the rock appeared solid. However, the next move was a high step, which pushes the hip away from the rock. With the added force of gravity from my extended hip, my ability to make the hard move was fully dependent on physical strength. Realizing I could not approach the move in the same manner as others who had larger hands, I changed my strategy. I placed my other hand near the first to further secure my grip during the move. This reduced the amount of physical energy required. In climbing or business investing more energy (or money) will not necessarily guarantee results. I was reminded of this again during the next section of the climb.

When attempting the roof move my mind became fixated on the wrong foothold. My myopic vision prevented me from seeing the other foothold six inches to the left. The additional distance would have evenly distributed my weight, making the move less strenuous. Rather than analyzing the situation, I stubbornly repeated the same mistake five times. What is the definition of insanity—doing the same thing and expecting different results! I finally grew tired of banging into the rock and decided to stop and think it through. Once I opened my mind to a change in strategy, the foothold that escaped my vision prior become obvious. Although I was a little bruised, I was not injured. In fact, I was still capable of climbing a few more routes before sunset.

The lessons learned from this repeat failure can be directly applied to business strategy. I have seen companies act in a similar manner—investing additional funds in an already failed venture hoping to pull through the move. When the company finally decides to change strategies, they have depleted valuable funds. Success is now limited by the available resources. This does not work in business or climbing.

Defining Safe Ways to Fail

Falling is an inherent part of climbing. Eventually you will be able to climb at a certain grade without falling. However, if you want to climb at a higher grade, you will be exposed to new situations requiring additional skill. You will take several falls before you master the technical moves at that grade. Therefore, to succeed long-term as a climber you must understand how to mitigate the risk of injury when falling.

Risk is not calculated by the distance a climber falls, as much as what they may hit on the way down. If a climber does not place adequate protection at the start of the climb they take a chance of falling to ground level. This is referred to as “decking. Obviously, the impact of landing on the ground almost guarantees injury. In the same manner business decisions involve risk. A business strategy does not always provide the desired results. To keep from losing everything, you must mitigate the risk.  How far can you fall without getting hurt?

Failure is an inherent part of business growth. To properly mitigate risk, you must understand where to draw the line. For example, using operating cash flow for business investments runs the risk of “decking”. Before making any financial moves you must first determine the amount of cash that is “safe” to invest. This can be done through a cash flow analysis.  With that said, your analysis should not include any questionable sales; only those from on-going projects, signed proposals or projects with deposits should be considered. Additionally, when considering expenses you must include both known and unexpected cost. Review historical data to gain an understanding of your monthly expense fluctuations. By applying these two moves to your cash flow analysis, you will be able to calculate a realistic risk assessment. If the business decision becomes your “Illusion Dweller” you will survive even if you fail.

Another potential decking situation in business can be attributed to what is called a concentration of receivables. This occurs when a few clients comprise a large portion of total sales. The loss of one client can put your company in a dangerous situation. To determine your level of risk, calculate the percentage of sales that can be attributed to the top three accounts. For companies that engage in large projects having a concentration in receivables may be unavoidable. In this case, you must mitigate risk by having cash reserves to cover the time required to obtain another client. This time frame can be determined by studying historical sales. What was the average period of time from the initial contract to engagement? This will give you an indication of the amount of cash reserves required.

In climbing I have learned how to fail and still live. On a similar note, after two decades functioning as a business consultant, I understand how to safely fail in business.  To revisit an old question, “What is the definition of success and failure?” To succeed is to go forth with intelligence and awareness. To fail is to go forth without properly assessing the inherent risk. When making business decisions avoid the ultimate failure of bankruptcy. Do not go forth if there is a potential of decking.

To learn more about Business Simply Put and receive a FREE coach note visit www.BusinessSimplyPut.com

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3 Simple Tips to Start Using Content Strategy to Your Advantage http://www.startupnation.com/start-your-business/3-simple-tips-start-using-content-strategy-advantage/ http://www.startupnation.com/start-your-business/3-simple-tips-start-using-content-strategy-advantage/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:45:51 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16573 What is Content Strategy? 3 Tips to Make Your Business Words Boost Sales According to the Content Marketing Institute’s “BtoB Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” “70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago.” And for good reason. Good content increases online awareness, brings people to your [...]

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What is Content Strategy?
3 Tips to Make Your Business Words Boost Sales

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s “BtoB Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” “70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago.” And for good reason.

Good content increases online awareness, brings people to your site and boosts sales. But with all of the hype about “Content is King!” and using all of the mobile and social-media apps out there, the whole process can be overwhelming.

If you are a small business owner, you know you need to provide relevant, current content in various forms. But with all of your other, business responsibilities, content strategy may just be causing you added stress rather than increased revenues.

Well, don’t despair. Let’s make content strategy as simple as possible so you can start using it to your advantage. In a nutshell, a content strategy is simply a plan on what you are going to write about relevant to your company’s products and services, and trends, events and news pertinent to your customers… and the results you hope to accomplish from this content.

Content marketing is how you actually distribute and track that content to get the results you want.

With this, here are…

3 Tips to Create a Simple, Content Strategy You Can Start Using to Boost Sales

1.     What do your customers want?

This is where it all starts. Find out what your customers want to read or watch, and your content strategy will be a success. Check your Google Analytics to see what people are clicking on most on your site. Look at your social media applications to see what is trending. And check out your competitors to see what they are doing with social media. After you conduct your research and have a good idea what you want to write about, you are ready for the next step…

2.     How are you going to distribute the content?

Make a list of all the content you want to share with your audience. Then, add the dates you want to distribute the content and how you are going to share it. Will you post a blog, write an article, add comments to your social-media venues, create a video, or something else? Also, what results do you hope to obtain from each content piece? Add your goals next to the content items and indicate who is responsible for each. Put all of this information on a big spreadsheet, and now you have an editorial calendar.

3.     How will you know what’s working?

Once you start posting content, it’s important to track it. Look at your site analytics to see how many clicks you are getting on each piece of copy. Track your e-newsletters, social-media posts, video clicks, and more. This way, you’ll be able to tell which content is most valuable to your audience. Then, you remove or change content that does not bring the appropriate results and focus on what does!

It’s time to use content strategy to your advantage!

Yes, there is a lot of buzz about content strategy and content marketing techniques… because it works. But at the same time, there is so much information out there, you may be overwhelmed by the entire process. Instead, keep it simple. Follow the three steps above, and soon, you’ll have a content strategy in place that will boost sales and online awareness.

What tips do you have to share about your content strategy processes? Please let us know here.

And if you need help creating a content strategy that will help you boost sales, awareness and credibility fast, please visit www.rembrandtwrites.com for more information. We’re here to help!

 

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How to LOVE what you are doing again! http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/love/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/love/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:05:21 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16507 If you don’t LOVE your business anymore, take this Valentine’s Day weekend to make some changes! It’s almost Valentine’s Day… time to think about the people and things you love. With this in mind, how much do you “love” what you are doing? If there are certain aspects of your business that you just don’t [...]

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If you don’t LOVE your business anymore, take this Valentine’s Day weekend to make some changes!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day… time to think about the people and things you love.

With this in mind, how much do you “love” what you are doing?

If there are certain aspects of your business that you just don’t like, I have a few suggestions for you when it comes to….

1. Administrative Tasks.

If you don’t like organizing, scheduling, accounting, spreadsheets, and other tasks that have nothing to do with your business strengths, by all means, look for someone to help you. The time you spend agonizing over these activities could be time spent on current customers and marketing your services accordingly.

2. Writing Content.

Today, marketing and public relations is all about content. You need content for your Website, social-media, events, news, and other, marketing materials. And if you write bad content, you will be penalized in search rankings by Google, Yahoo! and others.

If you like to write, have an outsider review and critique your skills. It’s one thing to write for fun, it’s another thing to “write copy that sells.” If your skills are not up to par, or you just don’t have time to write all the content necessary to improve the bottom-line, outsource this area to a trained, SEO content strategist.

3. Marketing.

Do you know how to sell your products and services, or are you better at developing new ideas and looking at the big picture? Marketing is a skill that is developed over time, and some people are just better at sales than others.

If you are not quite sure how to bring in new customers and actually “close the deal,” check into sales-training. It’s something all of us need to know how to do… especially if you are a new entrepreneur.

Then, you can always look at hiring a professional sales and marketing-team once the funds are available.

It’s time to love your business again.

Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out, there are times when we all do activities that we just don’t like. This month, take a fresh look at your business and see how you can minimize these “ugly” tasks. Either get training to improve your skills, or find professionals to help you in these areas.

While it may take extra time and money, it’s well worth it. After all, the whole reason you started a business was to pursue something you felt passionate about. Don’t let that passion die!

How are you going to make changes that you love this Valentine’s Day?

Please let me know here or contact me at www.rembrandtwrites.com for more information!

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300 Free Tools for Entrepreneurs & Tech Startups http://www.startupnation.com/startupnation-insider-information/free-tools-startups/ http://www.startupnation.com/startupnation-insider-information/free-tools-startups/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 03:32:14 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16261 Attention Tech Startups & Fellow Entrepreneurs: As a Startupologist There Is Nothing Better Than Finding Free Stuff Made By Awesome People! Special thanks to all the bloggers and web content curators that spread the word about new tools, tips and tricks for bootstrappers. This list was curated from +50 tech blogs & websites such as [...]

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Attention Tech Startups & Fellow Entrepreneurs:
As a Startupologist There Is Nothing Better Than Finding Free Stuff Made By Awesome People!

Special thanks to all the bloggers and web content curators that spread the word about new tools, tips and tricks for bootstrappers. This list was curated from +50 tech blogs & websites such as AllTop, TNW, Buffer Blog, Product Hunt, Angellist, Pickcrew, Betalist, TechCrunch, etc.

Hope you find something helpful. If so, please share so others can benefit.
If you know of more useful sites, please comment.

 

Business + Marketing

 Business by Five by Five

 

FREE WEBSITE + LOGO + HOSTING + INVOICING

 

 FREE BUSINESS / PROJECT NAME GENERATORS

 

WRITING / BLOGGING

  •  Hemingway: Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.
  • Grammarly: Finds & corrects mistakes of your writing.
  • ZenPen: The minimal writing tool of web.
  • Liberio: Simple eBook creation and publishing right from Google Drive.
  • Editorial Calendar: See all your posts, drag & drop to manage your blog.
  • Story Wars: Writing stories together.
  • Headline Analyzer: Emotional marketing value headline analyzer.
  • WP Hide Post: Control the visibility of items on your blog.
  • Social Locker: Ask visitors “to pay” for your content with a tweet, etc.
  • Egg Timer: Set a time and bookmark it for repeated use.

 

 FIND (TRENDING) CONTENT (IDEAS)

 

FREE SEO + WEBSITE ANALYZERS

 

FREE IMAGE OPTIMIZERS

 

FREE IMAGE EDITORS

 

COLLECT & SEND EMAILS FOR FREE

FREE SOCIAL MEDIA + COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT + SURVEYS

 

A/B TESTS & GROWTH HACKING

  •  Petit Hacks: Acquisition, retention, & revenue hacks used by companies.
  • Optimizely: One optimization platform for websites and mobile apps.
  • Hello Bar: Tool for A/B testing different CTAs & power words.
  • GrowthHackers: Unlocking growth. Together.

FREE DESIGN RESOURCES

Icon by Simple Icons

Design + Code

COLOR PICKERS

 

INSPIRATION

  • MaterialUp: Daily material design inspiration.
  • FLTDSGN: Daily showcase of the best flat UI design websites and apps.
  • Site Inspire: Web design inspiration.
  • UI Cloud: The largest user interface design database in the world.
  • Moodboard: Build a beautiful moodboard and share the result.
  • Crayon: The most comprehensive collection of marketing designs.
  • Land-Book: Product landing pages gallery.
  • Ocean: A community of designers sharing feedback.
  • Dribbble: Show and tell for designers.
  • Behance: Showcase & discover creative work.
  • Pttrns: Mobile user interface patterns.
  • Flat UI Design: Useful board I discovered thanks to Erik.
  • Awwwards: The awards for design, creativity and innovation.
  • The Starter Kit: Curated resources for developers and designers.
  • One Page Love: Resource for one page website inspiration.
  • UI Parade: User interface design tools and design inspiration.
  • The Best Designs: The best of web design.
  • Agile Designers: Best resources for designers & developers.
  • Niice: A search engine with taste.

 

FREE STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY

→ from Free Goodies for Designers: (here | here | here | here | here | here | here | here |here | and here.),

→ from Deal Jumbo: (here | here | here | here | here | here | here | here |here | and here.),

→ from Dribbble: (here | here | here | here | here | here | here |here | and here.),

→ from Graphic Burger: (here | here | here | here | here | here | and here.)

FREE TYPOGRAPHY

 

FREE ICONS

 

FREE USEFUL STUFF

 Work & Productivity

 Icon by Lubos Volkov

 

BACKGROUND SOUNDS  = HELP YOUR FOCUS

  • Noisli: Background noise & color generator.
  • Noizio: Ambient sound equalizer for relax or productivity.
  • Defonic: Combine the sounds of the world into a melody.
  • Designers.mx: Curated playlists by designers, for designers.

 

 AVOID DISTRACTION

  • Self Control: Mac: free application to help you avoid distracting websites.
  • Cold Turkey: Windows: temporarily block yourself off of distracting websites.

 

ORGANIZE & COLLABORATE

  • Trello: Keeps track of everything.
  • Evernote: The workspace for your life’s work.
  • Dropbox: Free space up to 2GB.
  • Wetransfer: Free transfer up to 10GB.
  • Drp.io: Free, fast, private and easy image and file hosting.
  • Pocket: View later, put it in Pocket.
  • Mailtoself: An iOS extension to mail notes to yourself from any app.
  • List.ly: Discover and create great lists.
  • Markticle: Mark your reading progress in articles for later.

DIGITAL NOMADS & REMOTE WORKING

 

 

 

DISCOVER TOOLS & STARTUPS

Icon by New Haircut

Discover & Learn

 

BUILD TOGETHER

 

LEARNING

 

NEWSLETTERS THAT DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME

 

USEFUL

 

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Tips to Avoid PR Scams http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/tips-avoid-pr-scams/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/tips-avoid-pr-scams/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 00:15:11 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16222 Learn how to stop wasting time, money and resources The phone rings and it’s a producer who wants to speak to the CEO of your company right away. You think it’s a media call, drop everything and listen to what the person on the other end of the line has to say. Wow! It sounds [...]

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Learn how to stop wasting time, money and resources

The phone rings and it’s a producer who wants to speak to the CEO of your company right away. You think it’s a media call, drop everything and listen to what the person on the other end of the line has to say.

Wow! It sounds great. They are going to produce a video of your business with a detailed interview and market it on television and the Web. Then, you find out there is a cost… a huge cost.

Has this happened to you?

If not, and you are a fairly successful business owner sending out press releases, just wait. You will get a call like this one of these days. My clients get them frequently. They either get stuck on the phone, or I get messages from assistants that tell me something like, “a media member from a major, television network just called to speak to the CEO. Please check into this.”

There are a lot of rip-offs out there… especially when it comes to small business owners. Scam artists prey on entrepreneurs who want to get massive publicity and have their products featured on national television or online. But you don’t have to be one of them.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid PR scams:

1. Do your due diligence.

As soon as a media member contacts you “out of the blue,” you should be a little weary. Ask what the name of their business is, get a Website address and find out if there is a fee for their services. This way, you’ll know right away whether it’s an advertising opportunity or a legitimate, media interview. If they ask for money, it definitely falls under advertising.

2. Sound too good to be true? It is.

These salespeople are really good. They will entice you with huge distribution numbers, seeing your products and services all over the world, fame, fortune, and more. It’s intriguing stuff! Try not to get caught up in this “fantastic opportunity” that just seemed to come when you needed it most. Ask about the fees upfront, and then say, “No Thank You.”

3. Is it really that exclusive and time-sensitive?

When you hear a sales pitch, there is always this exclusive element with a fast-approaching deadline like…

“Congratulations. You’ve been chosen to be on our list out of the top, 100 small businesses in the country. Please contact us as soon as possible as we have limited, editorial space in your particular industry.”

“We recently saw your news and think you would be a perfect fit for this segment we have coming up in two weeks.”

“We can get your business story in front of thousands of travelers on flights worldwide, but we need you to respond within three days to secure your space.”

Blah, blah, blah. If they need you to call immediately in order to “reserve your space,” it’s not a great deal. They probably just want to give you a sales pitch and get a signed contract as soon as possible so they can hit their monthly, sales quota.

4. The Bait and Switch.

This is really bad, and you should watch out for this if you represent clients in any from related to public relations, content strategy and marketing.

Review point one above before setting any media-interviews. Why? This is what happens. You set up a media interview with a producer, editor or reporter. Then, when they are talking to your client, they proceed to sell them their PR, content strategy and marketing services. Basically, they use their credentials in the media to steal your clients. Yep. It’s totally uncool, but it happens.

It’s essential for media-members to be upfront with you about any services they provide “on the side.” Most are professional and responsible, but there are a few bad eggs out there who will just keep it quiet in hopes of stealing your business. Be careful and tell your friends and associates if you run into any of these “unethical” types. Word travels fast.

Be Open to Actual Opportunities.

Now, even though there are a lot of sales calls going on out there, most media calls that you receive will be legitimate. And many of the “advertising placements” that you pay for can actually be good for your particular business. You just need to use your common sense and think about the list above.

After all, you don’t want to tick off an actual reporter just because you thought they were trying to sell you something. And if you do fall prey to one of these sales calls, please contact me. I have some swamp land in Florida I’d like to sell you! Ha!

What are you going to do to avoid unscrupulous media-members?

For more information on boosting sales with public relations and SEO content strategy that works, please contact me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.

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Supercharge Your Business! http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/supercharge-business/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/supercharge-business/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:47:31 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=16105 Sales slow? Bored? Want a change? Read on… If you own a business, you are probably wearing numerous hats and running around like a crazy person to meet all of your responsibilities and deadlines. This year is brand new… are you already exhausted? How are sales going? If any of this sounds familiar, you are [...]

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Sales slow? Bored? Want a change? Read on…

If you own a business, you are probably wearing numerous hats and running around like a crazy person to meet all of your responsibilities and deadlines. This year is brand new… are you already exhausted? How are sales going?

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Here are a few tips to re-group and be more successful than ever…

3 Tips to Supercharge your Business Now.

1. Take a Break!

“What? I don’t have time to take a break. Are you nuts?!”

Trust me. I know how you feel. But things can get so busy that you can lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Turn off your computer for a full day and get outside. Take a walk. See a movie. Work out. Watch television. Hang out with friends and family. Cook….You get the picture. Take one full day away from your work, and do something you love to do.

And I know this can be very difficult, but give it a try. Your mind will open up, and you’ll end up being more refreshed when you turn the computer back on. Plus, you may just solve a problem or think of some, new business ideas on your “day off.”

2. Dedicate Some Time to Yourself.

You need some time away from phone calls, e-mails, text messages, etc. to truly be successful. Either get up early, or find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. It’s essential to have some peace and quiet so you can focus on what truly needs to be done with your business.

Without interruptions, you can organize your tasks, schedule your time accordingly, increase your focus, and actually get more done.

3. Help Others.

If sales are down, look at taking a different direction. Think of how you can help others. Can you introduce your associates for future endeavors, partner with a charity, give away some products or services, or do something else?

As Brian Tracy says,

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Help others. Your focus will change, and sales with start to improve. More important, you’ll become a better person in the process!

Supercharge Yourself. Supercharge Your Business!

If you are in a rut or overwhelmed with your business, stop and take a look at what’s going on. Go to a quiet place and think about your business. Then, spend some time away from the office to get some R and R and actually have some fun. Also, start focusing on helping others. You’ll see your business change for the better, and you’ll feel both physically and mentally better in the process. It’s not just a way to recharge. It’s a way to supercharge you.. and your business!


What are you going to do today to take some time to yourself and supercharge your business?

For more information on boosting sales with SEO content strategy, please write to me here or contact me here.

 

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Distinguish Your Cause with “-EST” http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/distinguish-cause-est/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/distinguish-cause-est/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=15832 How to distinguish your cause with “-EST” Welcome back to the blog series, “Change Your Message,” and today’s post, “Distinguish Your Cause with “-EST” (If you missed our last post or simply need a refresher) click here, now let’s “distinguish your cause.” Even if you’re not selling a product or service (as is the case [...]

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How to distinguish your cause with “-EST”

Welcome back to the blog series, “Change Your Message,” and today’s post, “Distinguish Your Cause with “-EST” (If you missed our last post or simply need a refresher) click here, now let’s “distinguish your cause.”

Even if you’re not selling a product or service (as is the case with many nonprofit organizations), you still have to tell people what unique value they’ll get for their money, which may include:

  • Eliciting emotion by demonstration a “fit” with a particular value system.
  • Striking a chord through personal identification with an issue.
  • Quelling negative feelings by alleviating an anxiety.
  • Providing a tangible incentive, such as a gift with donation.

So, by now you might have a bunch of adjectives, descriptors, mission statement fluff, and a mishmash of ideas…but, likely, no big, impressive, specific point of difference. That’s not only okay, it’s encouraged. The identification process is a messy one. Only after you’ve done some brilliant brainstorming can you distill down your ideas.

Make no mistake: you can still be in business without outlining a clear difference. If you want to be competitive and successful, however, and pull in more business (or attract a better type of customer) than you would without a clear point of differentiation, you need to figure out what makes you stand apart.

Now, it’s time to pare it all down to something that will make a potential customer stop in his or her tracks. In the next tip, I’ll guide you in taking your –est to writing out your UVP.

Watch for the next post of this blog series where we get into Tip 2 and “Write Out Your Unique Value Proposition.” And if you haven’t downloaded Olga Mizrahi’s UVP Worksheet now is the time to do it and be prepared to get busy! Click on this link, other goodies or visit ChunkofChange.com and get started on becoming “unique”!

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At Your Service: How To Distinguish Your Services http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/service-distinguish-services/ http://www.startupnation.com/grow-your-business/service-distinguish-services/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.startupnation.com/?p=15825 Is it time to reinvent your UVP and better distinguish your services? Welcome back to the blog series, “Change Your Message,” and the next series of posts starting with “How to Distinguish Your Services.” (If you missed our last post or simply need a refresher click here!), now on to today’s post! Services, of course, [...]

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Is it time to reinvent your UVP and better distinguish your services?

Welcome back to the blog series, “Change Your Message,” and the next series of posts starting with “How to Distinguish Your Services.” (If you missed our last post or simply need a refresher click here!), now on to today’s post!

Services, of course, are a bit less defined in their offerings. Yet there are just as many distinguishing features to tell your customers about.

  • Faster response time
  • Ability to offer more value for less money
  • High level of expertise
  • Excellent industry reputation
  • Perception that you bring more to the table (intangibles)
  • Availability of the service at a particular time of need

Consider H&R Block. Ever since I can remember, I have associated this company with tax preparation, having accompanied my parents to a brick-and-mortar location on more than one occasion. For a very long time, they held a huge market segment because they provided many of the attributes on the list above. Specifically, they provided quick service in advance of tax day each year.

That position took a big hit with the introduction of TurboTax software and then TurboTax online. Instead of schlepping to the nearest H&R Block, anyone could do their own taxes from the comfort of their own home – often for free or a very low fee.

Although TurboTax prices have gone up, they now offer a wealth of informational resources and audit protection guarantees. But newer online tax services have differentiated themselves by touting their “truly free” tax returns and lower prices. H&R Block has also launched a recent marketing counteroffensive by running ads proclaiming that Americans that did their own taxes lost out on over $1 billion in potential tax refunds last year. In that way, H&R Block emphasized its high level of expertise and ability to help people save/get more money.

Watch for the next post of this blog series, “Distinguish Your Cause With “-Est.” Have you downloaded Olga Mizrahi’s UVP Worksheet? Click on this link, other goodies or visit ChunkofChange.com and get started on becoming “unique”!

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