The StartupNation Blog Trends, tips and real-life anecdotes from industry experts

Archive for “Run Your Business Better”

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 [...]

Continue Reading

Is Your Web Site Playing This Song?

With the popularity of performance shows like “Fame,” “Glee,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Dancing with the Stars,” etc., it got me thinking. Ever see some of the performers warm up singing, “Mi, Mi, Mi…?” Well, this could be the theme song on many of the Web sites I review these days! Do You [...]

Continue Reading

Got Goals? Tips from Richard Lewine of GoalTrak

After working over 30 years in organization development consulting, Richard Lewine created a company called Quantum Voyage, http://www.goaltrak.com/, to help businesses and organizations reach their goals. Since many of you are in the process of setting your goals for 2010, I caught up with Rich to get his insights. Here’s what he had to say: [...]

Continue Reading

Interview with High-End Fashion Designer Shy Figaro

Recently, I received some interesting information from a small business owner who is pursuing his passion, and thought I would share his tips with you. Meet Shy Figaro, a successful, high-end fashion designer and entrepreneur. Tell us about your business and why you started it. I’m fascinated about beauty and elegance, and believe that fashion [...]

Continue Reading

StartupNation Member Goes on ABC’s SharkTank!

This just in, a long-standing StartupNation member, known in our community as GrillCharmer, is appearing on Shark Tank September 29. See her email to me below, which she’s given permission for me to share, abbreviated: Hi Rich! LONG time no talk!!  Anyway, I wanted to just say THANKS.  I cut my entrepreneurial teeth on SuN.  Remember [...]

Continue Reading

3 More Free Publicity Tools

Since many of you commented on my last blog entry, here are three more free tools to help you with your small business PR activities: 1. Help a Reporter Out PR Pro Peter Shankman set up this great site at http://www.helpareporter.com/. Simply enter your name and e-mail information. And each day, you’ll receive a list [...]

Continue Reading

The OPRAH…effect!

While home this weekend recovering from dental surgery, I watched an interesting segment on MSNBC about the Oprah effect.. The hour program was about what it meant for your product to get onto Oprah’s most liked product list. If you ever doubted that getting on Oprah could help you become an overnight success….. you are [...]

Continue Reading

Why Do You Need a Copywriter?

If you are tempted to save money and write your own marketing materials and website copy, please stop and think about it. Although copywriters may be expensive, they can help you: – Optimize conversion rates; – Build credibility; – Reach targeted audiences; – Increase search engine placements; – Assist you with your overall, Web architecture; [...]

Continue Reading

Interview with Cynthia Good of PINK-Part 2

Last week, we talked to Cynthia Good, CEO, founding editor and co-owner of the award-winning PINK Magazine, www.PINKmagazine.com. PINK reaches more than two million professional women every year and has raised more than $60,000 for nonprofits benefiting women and girls. Here’s more from my exclusive interview with the inspiring and successful business owner: What are [...]

Continue Reading

StartupNation Member Goes on QVC Tomorrow Morning!

Fellow StartupNation members and moral support boosters for the dreamers – big news for Jules, who I’ve profiled a number of times in podcasts and feature stories (and not just because she’s living the dream but also because, well, she’s my SISTER!!!). Yes, it runs in the Sloan family blood. In any event, tomorrow morning she and [...]

Continue Reading

How a Professional Answering Service Raises the Bar

I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because you are on the phone in a client meeting, answering services are cheap and immediately handle your communications when needed. A professional answering service moves you up from the “trying to make a few bucks” category to the “sustainable and trusting business” category. Plus, once your business starts to boom with hundreds of inbound calls for your services and products, you’ll be able to manage, and respond to each one efficiently. And, when your power goes out or when you must run a quick errand, someone, or “something” will be there.

Professional answering services are easy to find and most telephone service companies offer as an added-value feature in addition to your phone service. But what potential problems might happen and what services are available to you?

There are four major types of answering services: automated, live, Internet and call centers. Automated is what we are used to where the caller will need to press a number to obtain further information. If you want to appear “larger” in employee size, you could create separate lines for departments, or even insert fake names. This type of system works well if you just want to provide general information.

A live service is a bit more expensive in where you would contract out an operator and the operator decides whether to talk a message or patch through to you directly. The advantage to this type of service is a real human operator rather than an automated message at any time of the day. If you operate an online site where customers make purchases, a live service can help customers trust your business and feel at ease when placing an order. On the other hand, if you go over the set number of calls in your contract, it could get very, very expensive.

Internet-based services like Google Voice, or RingCentral, work by consolidating phone lines and routing them to the best line or providing voice mail options that go to a Web-based account. Most of these VoIP services that use a Web interface to manage incoming calls have additional features like routing calls, accepting faxes, forwarding text messages to cell phones, and receiving an automated receptionist. And, all you need to set it up is an Internet connection and the phones. With an Internet-based service, you might have sound quality issues if you have a slow or bad Internet connection. Some phone system companies will guarantee a certain number of minutes a month your service will not be interrupted, but most of the time you can’t negotiate this number. The advantage of using VoIP answering service is that you will be able to manage your business from anywhere in the nation.

Call centers are more on the telemarketing services side and helpful if you need a promotional product or sales push, or need an inbound call center to answer multiple phones ringing. AnswerConnect.com for example, offers live message taking, online order taking, paging and live call transfers delivering messages instantly to the customer’s email box for permanent storage. If you plan to outsource your answering services needs to a call center, or use appointment setters to take online orders, etc., you should spend time training, providing copy and monitoring (or listening) to the calls to ensure the company is professional and speaks accurately to your business.

-->

I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because [...]

Continue Reading

Outsourcing products to China…Q & A with an expert!

I have compiled the most frequently asked questions that I have recieved over the years from clients about outsourcing to Asia.  It is my goal to educate you in your quest for manufacturing/outsourcing your products abroad. Education and knowledge is your first defense aganist being “taken” and having a “bad experience!” Here goes! Q. Why do [...]

Continue Reading

Exclusive Interview with PINK’s Cynthia Good

Recently, I caught up with Cynthia Good, CEO, founding editor and co-owner of the award-winning PINK Magazine, www.PINKmagazine.com. PINK reaches more than two million professional women every year and has raised more than $60,000 for nonprofits benefiting women and girls. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Cynthia was a news anchor on television stations nationwide, created her [...]

Continue Reading

Managing a mommy business…with 5 simple steps!

We are women. Watch us Manage! I have people ask me, usually men, how do you do it all? How do you take care of the family, and your business, and be so management oriented?  Did you study business management in college, get an MBA? No sir, I did not even finish high school. I [...]

Continue Reading

Benefits of a POS System for your Hospitality-based Business

Chances are, you’ve seen a POS system in action. “POS” is an abbreviation for “point-of-sale-” the most basic POS systems calculate payment amounts and process customer payments, similar to a cash register. However, they aren’t just calculators. Most hospitality-based systems use POS systems in order to track inventory and labor costs, forecast business volumes and [...]

Continue Reading

How Someone Ripped off Our Twitter Name and We Fought Back

You’ve probably read our StartupNation advice about how to leverage the value of social media to benefit your business. (You can listen to a first and second podcast on this subject, too.) But a word of warning: What you may not know–and should be prepared to overcome–is that just like there are squatters on website [...]

Continue Reading
Lineage2, Aion, Blade And Soul