Archive for the 'small business' Category

Have You Made Your Business Resolutions?

2009_image

Most of us can just photocopy our personal resolution list from last year.

  • Get in better shape
  • Stop and smell the roses
  • Take up a hobby
  • Stick to the diet
  • . . .

But have you ever made a business resolution list?  Maybe there are a few of you running small businesses that absolutely hit it out of the park last year, congratulations, you’re in the minority.

For the rest of us we could use a little time for reflection and even dust off the ol’ business plan.  Remember a business plan is SUPPOSED to function as a dynamic document, evolving to account for the current and future climate of business.  Think of it as your Constitution that has its own Amendments.

What can you improve on as a business owner?

  • Participating in a network group?
  • Researching & adopting the latest technological improvements for your industry?
  • Implementing a customer excellence plan (don’t stop at satisfying customers- reach to exceed expectations)
  • More meaningful and frequent solicitation from employees about ideas
  • Learning how new media and technologies on the web can benefit your growth.  EVERY business can/should participate online because that’s where your customers are.
  • Anything else???

Don’t miss this perfect opportunity over the next couple of weeks to make those resolutions.

Thin your waistline and fatten your bottom line.

What Can We Learn From Them?

Trilogy of Power

Reach beyond your political views, (full disclosure: I voted for the other guy) for a second, and realize what we’re looking at.  At the risk of sounding a bit like a cliche, this trilogy of power embodies what is so invigorating about this country.  These are without question the 3 most powerful people in politics, media and sport.  Coincidentally, probably the 3 most discussed subjects by Americans at large.  Not only have we reached a milestone in White House, but a historic milestone as a nation.  But, the greater testimony is that the true admiration is derived from the feats they have accomplished and the track records they have established.

There are personal and business lessons in here somewhere. . .

1.  They are ultimate brands unto themselves.

2.  They have fiercely loyal tribes

3.  They have sustained success and relevancy (with the exception of Obama who will or won’t prove this out)

What can we learn as small business owners, as job-seekers (there’s more than a few in this economy), as bloggers, as individuals, from these three to increase our odds?  Much of it goes back to the basics:

1.  Tireless work ethic. To use a football analogy:  The product that you see on the field is the direct result from the effort put in at practice.  Have you given your best effort in preparing for that next customer meeting, job interview or blog post?  Have you cut corners or dogged the last paragraph?  How slippery is that slope?

2.  Crystallizing the message: Follow some great PR insight from Scott Hepburn here and Lisa Hoffman here because PR is all about the message when you get it right.

You might ask what is Tiger’s message, he’s just a golfer.  His message is very clear; I will outwork, outhink and outplay anybody to become the greatest golfer of all time, no excuses.  Oprah’s; follow me and I will help you to a richer life.

3.  Empowering the tribe: Oprah is arguably the best person in the world at this.  When she promotes a book, not only does it have an instantaneous appearance on the best seller list, it also contains a message that resonates with the tribe.  Her followers become passionate and they connect with one another.  She just gave them the channel.  As a business owner think about the channels you can use to connect your customers with each other around your business and brand.  It is now easier than ever, establish a social network, blog or other form that opens the channels for customers, associates, etc. to connect with one another.

Extract your own message from these icons, but I challenge anyone who cannot learn something from them, whether it be professional or personal.

The images above reinforce that the American spirit of determination is alive and well, in spite of these economic times and headlines chiding all the ones taking the shortcuts.  Sometimes it is very tempting to try and skip the basics and fundamentals.  The formulas haven’t changed, only the context and methods of delivery.

Twitter Tips From a Newbie’s Perspective

Fresh perspectives are sometimes just that.  Before I can no longer see the forest from the trees or the Twitter bird – what is he/she called anyways – thought it would be good to share my thoughts.  Lest the next newbie drown in the Twitter quicksand.

1.  Realize it is not just a “I’m heading to the bar” mass IM’ing.  It is MUCH more valuable.

2.  Throw trepidation to the wind and jump in.  The best way to learn is trial and error.

3.  FOLLOW Twitterers from all walks of life.  There are many, many intelligent, funny, bright, interesting folks hanging around. . .you have the opportunity to learn from all them and expand your horizons.

4.  SHARE.  Twittering is about supporting the community and that means spreading the thoughts, comments and opinions that you find intelligent, funny, bright, interesting.  It is the ol’ pay it forward model.  You’ll reap what you sow.

5.  RESPECT the feed.  Don’t “spam” the feed or you’ll ignored and your credibility will be lost before you begin.  Twitterers as a whole are a very accepting and accomodating bunch, don’t be the one to ruin it, :-)!

So those are my initial opinions.  If you completely disagree or have some to add, please comment.  If you have no idea what Twitter is here’s the link:  twitter

And here’s the Wikipedia definition: Twitter Wikipedia

Here’s some great links on Twitter etiquette and the power of Twitter:

14 Ways to use Twitter Politely by MARGARET MASON

The Trouble with Twitter by Ben Kunz

Why I Twitter by Ryan Kuder


Why Do So Many MISS the Basics?

I was at a stop light this afternoon behind this small business owner.  It was a home service business with obviously some effort put into marketing by the indication of a tag line below their logo and name:

Clean, Polite, Professional.

Ok, sounds good, not Madison Ave., but clear about what their fundamentals are.  But in the context of the image below, it kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?  They’re almost better off without saying anything!  It is so basic as to be easily overlooked, but it is often those details that distinguish the good from everyone else. . .and good isn’t that hard to achieve.

note: picture quality doesn’t do it justice (camera phone).

Good Effort, Horrible Execution
Good Effort, Horrible Execution

Using Gmail with Your Domain (@yourdomain.com)

Some are unaware that if you have your own domain you can use that domain on gmail, for free (don’t you just love Google).  So for example if you have http://www.myblogname.com you can use a gmail account like this yourname@myblogname.com.  It’s a neat little way to further your business or even personal brand without paying for or using a sub-par email service.  First you have to set up your domain with google apps here: http://www.google.com/apps, then follow the instructions.  Below is a quick video overview: