You have news and you don’t even know it. It might not be the Wall Street Journal that picks up the fact that you have a new head chef in your restaurant, or a new winemaker at the winery, or that your software company just hired a new VP, but you’ll be surprised at the [...]Continue Reading
Archive for “Plan Your Business”
Do it once a year. Do it once a month. Do it twice a week. Pro Bono, I mean…what were you thinking? Especially in this time, when things are tight for everyone, time is valuable. Give it freely. Find a way to connect with those in your community. I’ve noticed messages being targeted [...]Continue Reading
The past 18 – 24 months have been tough on corporate America. I’m based in Charlotte (home of Bank of America and Wachovia/Wells Fargo) and many of my friends that work for the bank are always nervous. A lot of these people were also able to store up a nest egg and once they get [...]Continue Reading
From Business Week: America’s Most Promising Social Entreprenuers “Social entrepreneurs—enterprising individuals who apply business practices to solving societal problems such as pollution, poor nutrition, and poverty—are now 30,000 strong and growing, according to B Lab, a nonprofit organization that certifies these purpose-driven companies. Together, they represent some $40 billion in revenue. Not surprising, then, that [...]Continue Reading
If you want to get new customers to your site, one of the fastest ways to gain momentum is with search engine optimization (SEO). And despite what you may have heard, SEO is much for than just adding some popular keywords to your copy. SEO is a process that involves research, strategy, planning, and regular [...]Continue Reading
From Business Week: MBAs Go Micro “For years, small companies have had trouble competing with the larger firms that typically hire business school students, but that is starting to change. With the recession making a dent in campus recruiting, career service officers are advising students to broaden their job searches to include small businesses. Students [...]Continue Reading
Let’s face it. The first step is always the hardest. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, start graduate school, or learn how to play guitar. It’s that first step that leaves us feeling awkward, inadequate, and questioning our conviction. Taking that first step toward entrepreneurship is no different. We question our business skills, product performance, and financial competency. The dreaded, “what if I can’t do it?” question creeps into our daily thoughts. We start reasoning that it might be better to “just wait another year.”
These fears are extremely common and unfortunately well founded. Reports show that as much as 50% of all new start-ups fail within the first year. That is not exactly encouraging odds. However, we all have a choice when it comes to creating our destiny. We can use statistics like these to confirm our business’s certain death, or gain confidence from the fact that you could be part of the 50% that become a success. In the famous words of Zig Ziglar, you just have to eliminate your “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”.
One of the tools I use to overcome my fears is mind mapping. It’s a terrific tool that can help you isolate the source of your fears, bring much needed perspective, and help brainstorm solutions to your sticking points. There are several “mind mapping” tools out there and many are free to use. I prefer to use the tool by Wisemapping since it’s free, allows me to add notes and web links, and I can publish or share the completed map.
To demonstrate my fear mind mapping strategy, I’ve created an example below.
First, I outline my top fears associated with starting the business. I then brainstorm how I can overcome those fears. My final step will be answering those questions. My goal is to find a positive solution to each of the questions I’ve asked. For example, for the question, “Can I reduce my startup costs with outsourcing?” I would research potential manufacturing possibilities until I could answer the question with a “yes.” If I can’t find a way, I then brainstorm ways to overcome the obstacle. A “no” isn’t necessarily bad, it just means you need to tweak your business plan to compensate for this reality. Try to be as thorough and honest as possible with your mind map. The goal is to solve your sticking points on paper before you’ve invested your time and money. I use this tool regularly for many of my business decisions including product launches, partnership agreements, and even potential marketing opportunities.
It’s amazing what this simple exercise can do for your confidence level. You are no longer living in fear of the unknown. Instead, you are on a mission with a powerful road map to your business’s success.
Let’s face it. The first step is always the hardest. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, start graduate school, or learn how to play guitar. It’s that first step that leaves us feeling awkward, inadequate, and questioning our conviction. Taking that first step toward entrepreneurship is no different. We question our business skills, product performance, [...]Continue Reading
On Tuesday, we talked to super Mom entrepreneur, Stacy Roderick. Stacy helped create the one-stop resource for paperless invoicing, marketing and electronic billing atGoToBilling, www.gotobilling.com.Today, Stacy shares more of her work-life balance success tips. What advice do you have for other couples who work together? Separation of duties and plenty of communication. Try not to step [...]Continue Reading
Jeff Elgin of FranChoice answered host Jenna Lee’s questions on “Franchising in 2009” on Fox Business Morning C-Suite Sit-Down. His message: Despite the economy, people can still find great opportunities in franchising. Jeff Elgin of FranChoice on franchisingContinue Reading
If you are a mother pursuing your small business dreams, check out this interview with Stacy Roderick of www.GoToBilling.com. Stacy manages to take care of her family, cook healthy meals, stay in shape, and help run a successful business all at the same time. Here’s what Stacy had to say: How did you get started [...]Continue Reading
It’s a recession. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can’t get money. Some can’t even make payroll. So why would starting a business in a recession be a great idea? Here’s why: Time to practice. Recessions are the pre-season: Do you think Kobe Bryant starts hitting the gym in October? Business, like basketball, takes preparation, training, [...]Continue Reading
Here’s a transcript of my comments on CNN’s Your $$$$ this weekend. Thought you might enjoy… ALI VELSHI: Businesses start up with in these economies, and by the way consumption we were over consumers and that’s going to change, but we do remain consumers. People do buy things. CHRISTINE ROMANS: That’s right. VELSHI: Richard Sloan [...]Continue Reading
The rise of social media is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes to happen to marketing since the birth of the internet. According to a Universal McCann 2008 study, 272 million people are using social media. Of those 272 million, 77% are reading blogs and approximately 34% of them are posting opinions about companies and brands on their profiles/blogs. With those kinds of numbers, chances are they are talking about you, your competitors, and your industry. Why not join the conversation?
Time constraints. Steep learning curve. Lack of “social” skills. These are just a few of the excuses I’ve heard for not implementing a social media strategy. They are all legitimate and worth consideration. After all, first impressions count. I would never suggest jumping into social media when you know you won’t have the time or resources to make the strategy successful. It will not only fail, but could tarnish your brand as well. However, as with most things, there is a way to outsource your social media efforts. With the right partner, this type of relationship can give your brand a presence in social media, help you overcome the learning curve, and even teach you a thing or two about being “social.” One possible partner for your journey into social media is MomForce.com.
MomForce.com was founded in late 2008 as a partnership between Jessica Smith and Care.com. Jessica saw the partnership as an opportunity to blend her personal brand as Chief Mom Officer for Wishpot.com and popular blog JessicaKnows.com with Care.com’s professional brand of being a leader in the care provider referral industry. The goal of MomForce is to help entrepreneurs and companies enter social media by matching them with social media savvy moms that often have previous career experience with marketing. Jessica explains further, “While our tagline is ‘Reach Moms. With Moms.’ I think companies will find a lot of these moms have impressive experience that reaches beyond the mom market.” The process behind MomForce is designed to be simple and painless for both the companies and the moms looking for virtual work opportunities. Once moms submit their profiles, complete with resumes outlining previous marketing experience, companies are then able to search the database for candidates that fit their desired skill set. The moms are then hired as independent contractors which save companies the expense of additional overhead and employee costs. This creates the perfect win/win situation, flexible hours for moms and lower costs for companies.
MomForce is a good example of the many creative options available for time-strapped entrepreneurs to join in on the social media bandwagon. While I feel that social media is done best in-house, I do think alternatives like this are better than nothing. Social media marketing is here to stay and will only get bigger and better in the years to come. Entrepreneurs have two choices, to either get on the bus or get run over.
The rise of social media is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes to happen to marketing since the birth of the internet. According to a Universal McCann 2008 study, 272 million people are using social media. Of those 272 million, 77% are reading blogs and approximately 34% of them are posting opinions about companies and [...]Continue Reading
This idea gives “green business” a whole new meaning… Anti-Theft Lunch Bags will deter the most glib of lunchroom swappers. Slip your sandwich into one of the green-splotched decoys before placing it in the office refrigerator and even the most brazen thief will think twice before running off with your “mildewed” PB&J. ($10 for two [...]Continue Reading
This example is why newspapers and TV must reinvent themselves, or die. Obama is Lincoln v2.0 Taking a page out of Lincoln’s Handbook on How To Be A Good President, Obama is everywhere in the community: at dinner, on The Tonight Show, at the soup kitchens, in meetings, on The Hill. He’s like the “Where’s Waldo?” of [...]Continue Reading
I sign up for a lot of newsletters because I like to know what’s going on, what people I used to work with are up to, and it helps spark the Idea Mill. I worked with Jerry Shereshewsky back in ’97 at Yoyodyne and (among other interesting andecdotes) I remember then he mentioned a desire [...]Continue Reading
Have you heard of Mark Amtower? If not, you will probably read about him somewhere soon. Mark successfully uses publicity to increase awareness about his business and is on BtoB’s “Who’s Who,” http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080714/FREE/128490100/1194/whoswho. Recently, I caught up with Mark to get his success secrets, and here’s what he had to say: Tell us a little [...]Continue Reading
William Sonoma and Pottery Barn are offering in store classes. Everyone gets the main need to do these: move product off the shelves. However, there is another reason why ideas like this are important. They are experiences, they make the shopping moment feel person, local and more communal. According to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore [...]Continue Reading
We all think we have much bigger, deeper insight into our users than we actually do. If you think you understand your users you run the risk of overestimating what they want, you carry on bad habits, miss opportunities, don’t learn anything new or consider new ways to design. There are very few companies that [...]Continue Reading
Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d check in with you on your luck factor when it comes to business. How lucky are you when it comes to publicity placements in major media venues? Unfortunately, luck is a part of getting your business mentioned in the media. There are always some things out of [...]Continue Reading