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

Archive for “Run Your Business Better”

3 Amazing Small Business Resources

Small businesses have it good. They get all the attention from the media because they’re always fighting some incredible uphill battle against the titans of the industry like Amazon is for ecommerce. They also get tons of benefits from programs sponsored by Microsoft and other large companies looking to help small businesses get off the [...]

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Mompreneur’s Pre-Flight Checklist

Over the last few weeks, pulling off all my various roles has been hard.  Being a mom requires a lot of patience recently, and a number of extended family issues need my attention.  At the same time, as a mompreneur, my prototype is heating up, and I am ready to pull out from the gate [...]

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Stressed Out, But Investing – Survey of Businesses by Brother

Data. It’s all around us. But I found Brother’s new survey results particularly interesting given the news we share through our new webcast series called, Small Business Braintrust, particularly our “Views on the News” feature. In the survey, it may come as no surprise that stress levels are at an all-time high among business owners. [...]

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Should you exhibit your product at the upcoming National Hardware Show (May 10-12th)?

Should you exhibit your product at the upcoming National Hardware Show (May 10-12th)? If you want exposure to thousands of industry professional looking for new products and the opportunity to learn from industry experts, YES…you should consider exhibiting at this show. The trend in National Tradeshows is to include a “micro tradeshow” for inventors within [...]

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3 Complications in Building an E-commerce Business

E-commerce is more complex than having a product and distributing it online. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of any online business that sells a physical product, both on the technology end and the physical product end. Here is just a sample of complications to consider when building an e-commerce business: Having [...]

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What To Do After An Interview

You just spoke to a top reporter with a major publication, and the feature story is due out in one month… so what do you do now? Well, I’m sure you would like to yell it from the rooftops and tell everyone you know. But before you do, here are three things to keep in [...]

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3 Types of E-commerce Businesses that are Winning and Why

The online shopping space continues to explode, far past that era we knew as the recession, and growing faster than traditional retail is. But here are three types of e-commerce businesses that can’t stop seeing success and why they’re so amazing. 1. Group Buying Sites: So, we’re all familiar with GroupOn, LivingSocial and BuyWithMe by [...]

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Specialty Retail Entrepreneur Expo & Conference, You gotta go!

Want to start your specialty product business this year? Then you MUST attend the (SPREE) Specialty Retail Entrepreneur Expo & Conference. Be part of the world’s largest event for the $12 billion specialty retail industry! No matter if you are a retailer, or prospective entrepreneur looking for the newest concepts, or interested in starting  or [...]

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My take on being a successful mompreneur:

Recently, a fellow mompreneur-in-training tweeted me and wanted to know what I think makes a successful mompreneur?  I knew that I could not answer her back in a 140 characters or less so I promised her a blog post on the subject.  I immediately thought about the wave of emotions that accompanies being a mompreneur. [...]

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How Offshoring is Effective

When we were first building our business, we really, really hated the idea of outsourcing. Why? because we had so many failed projects. We were trying to get away with murder by hiring offshore programmers at incredibly low rates, as part of a 100- or 200-hour project, to build our first fully functioning website with [...]

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It’s Hard to Constantly Innovate

As a small business running a generally small operation, with only a bare-bones team of 9, it’s hard to squeeze innovation into the equation, when everyone’s running at 110% focused strictly on their core competencies. Sure, we each get the occasional ‘light bulb’ idea, that seems like it will be a game-changer in our space, [...]

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My Huge Mistake & Guess What? The Nation Works!

Last week, I spent (wasted) a lot of time spinning my wheels and thinking about decisions that were irrelevant at the moment. Paralyzed with small details that did not matter and stuck in over-thinking the “what-ifs,”  I created a perfect storm for myself. This “time suck” went on for the greater part of the week [...]

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Guy Kawasaki on Enchantment, Marketing and Small Business

Guy Kawasaki is no stranger to entrepreneurship, having co-founded several businesses including Garage Technology Ventures, and Alltop.com, which is, as he describes, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web.  He’s written ten books including The Art of the Start, The Macintosh Way, and his latest, Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, releasing March 8th, 2011, available on Amazon.com, and in bookstores everywhere.

I’ve read hundreds of business books, but never have I read a book like this.  In a nutshell, Enchantment is all about how to make people fall in love with you, and when people fall in love with you, you can accomplish anything.

This book is part inspiration, part motivation, and part practication (I just made up a new word).   With inspiring stories and practical steps, Kawasaki explains all the tactics you need to put together and launch your own enchantment campaign.  Kawasaki’s lessons are taken from his experience at Apple, but many of the stories are very personal stories from average, every day people.  (These stories happen to be some of my favorite parts of the book.)  Buy the book on Tuesday March 8th, or any day and you will be able to experience “enchantment” for yourself.

In honor of the release of Kawasaki’s new book, I asked him to give us his perspective on small business marketing today.  Here’s his insightful and unedited response.  Enjoy!

What do you see are the biggest challenges for a small business owner today?

Sales, sales, and sales. My saying is, “sales fixes everything” because as long as you have cash flow, you’re still in the game. As a friend once told me, the leading cause of failure of startups is death, and you die when you run out of money.

Is that different than what it was a few years ago?

It’s been like this since the recession hit. Every day, I wish for just one more bubble because this time I’ll know what to do!  But I believe that business is cyclical, so it’s not wise to panic. A rising tide floats all boats, but a receding tide makes the big, bloated boats hit rock bottom.

How have you seen business owners overcome these challenges?  (What’s working?)

More than anything else, these times are a test of will–how much are you willing to gut it out and grind it out. If you can survive these times, you’re pretty set to take on anything. I have great admiration for the companies that continue to put out great products and services with less money while maintaining high levels of customer enchantment. It’s much easier to write the book and make the speech than actually deliver results.

As far as marketing, what strategies do you use to market your business?

Right now, I’m mostly marketing my new book. To do this, I believe that “nobodies are the new somebodies.” That is, I don’t focus on only the so-called experts and powerful people. I like to work with as many people as possible because it’s impossible to know who will really make you tip.

Is there a strategy that doesn’t work?

I’ve never been one to throw money at a problem…for two reasons, I never had the money to throw and I hate wasting money in any case.

What advice do you have for business owners who are just starting out?

Prototype, prototype, prototype. Get to market. PowerPoint and Excel are secondary or even tertiary in importance. Get to market and get cash flowing.

Other than StartupNation, Entrepreneur Magazine, Alltop.com, what other resources do you recommend for startups?  Books? Websites, etc?

These are primarily information sources. Startups also need ways to reach and serve customers. For this, God provided Twitter and Facebook. These two sites are entrepreneur’s dreams because they are fast, free, and ubiquitous. The book that I recommend to startups is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. This book provided the inspiration that changed my life. It’s not solely about writing–it’s about the human spirit. Every entrepreneur should read it.

Bonuses:

Online Quiz:  How GREAT Are You?

Online Photo Contest:  Submit your Most Enchanting Photo for a Chance to Win!

“Like” Enchantment on Facebook

Wendy Kenney is the best selling author of How to Build Buzz for Your Biz, Tap into the Power of Social Media, Publicity and Relationship Marketing to Grow Your Business, available on Amazon.com.  She has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and Newsday. For more information go to http://23Kazoos.com.

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Guy Kawasaki is no stranger to entrepreneurship, having co-founded several businesses including Garage Technology Ventures, and Alltop.com, which is, as he describes, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web.  He’s written ten books including The Art of the Start, The Macintosh Way, and his latest, Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds [...]

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Pick Yourself Up and Get Back to Work!

Yes, the economy is ugly. Yes, customers are tightening their purse strings. Yes, it’s harder to bring in new sales.   Blah. Blah. Blah. Things are tough for many people right now, but that’s no reason to just sit back and wait for things to get better.   It’s time to take action! No one [...]

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Managing a Home Based Business and a Remote Team

Schedule work times

Working independently, without the encouragement or atmosphere of other busy worker bees around you, it’s easy to be super flexible with your day-by-day schedule, allowing hours of precious work time to slip by more and more frequently, until you realize you’re not even working anymore, so the best way for you to run a business from home and ensure you’re putting in quality effort is by scheduling work times when 110% of your concentration during that time is on your work and nothing else because if you allow even 5% of your head space to be occupied by personal matters, you will not be spending enough time or energy on your work, making less-than-satisfactory progress.

3. Schedule personal times

Conversely, you want to make sure to schedule personal times too so you can unwind and make sure you’re staying healthy both with body and mind, plus giving yourself time to breathe when you’re not working, otherwise you can probably work yourself silly since you never think about the traffic on the late commute home, that it’ll be too dark outside to travel home, etc.

4. Schedule weekly or twice weekly visits with team members

You can schedule Skype video chats or simple phone calls with your team to review work that’s been done, progress, and responsibilities for the next few days or week. This way, everyone’s accountable even though you’re not reporting to each other at the weekly conference meeting in a big conference room. Instead, as the manager of your business working with remote members, you’re making sure everything is running smoothly and you’re checking in frequently enough so that team members don’t feel they’ve lost touch. You also can ensure enough progress is being made and that lack-of-progress is caught and dealt with early enough so that it doesn’t become a chronic problem, or even worse, a problem you discover one month later.

Danny Wong is the Co-founder of Blank Label Group, which powers the startups Blank Label,Thread Tradition and RE:custom. He’s also a blogger for HuffingtonPostTheNextWeb andReadWriteWeb.

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As winner of StartupNation’s Home-Based 100 Competition as #1 Most Innovative, I thought it would make sense for my inaugural post to be about managing a home-based business and a bit about how our home business is run remotely too. The four co-founders of Blank Label Group are now working from 4 completely different locations: Orange [...]

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One Mompreneur’s Determination (good & bad)

When I first started on my entrepreneurial jag, an acquaintance called me dogged.  If you do not know me personally – there you have it, I am stubborn in my determination, obstinate, tenacious — just plain dogged.  So, when I decided  to be a mompreneur there was no turning back.  I was going to chase [...]

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Weekend Read Will Change My Approach, Change My Year

I started my Saturday this past weekend with a midwest to westcoast flight. By the time I was over the Rockies, I was so excited to get to work on the new ideas filling my head that I couldn’t WAIT to get off that plane! I had just finished reading through Josh Linkner’s brand new book, [...]

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