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A Serial Entrepreneur Becomes A Millionaire From An Accidental Startup

Monis Rahman, serial entrepreneur, accidentally launched Rozee.pk when he needed to find more programmers for his startup.

Getting A Mentor

I had a strategy session with a business start-up owner a few months ago. She was six months into her start-up and needed some ideas during her development stage.

Simple Steps To Creating Your First Website

When you make that decision to start a business, you immediately become a multi-tasking maniac. Let's face it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.

Why 'Core Competency' Is Important To A Startup

Well, I like the answer that Norm Brodsky gives in his book, The Knack: "It was the one thing we had that our competitors couldn't offer, and by the time they caught up, we had a foothold in the market and were known for providing that service."

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Importance of Business Measurements

Ever heard of the old saying, "What gets measured, gets done?" The same works for business; particularly a start-up business. You can never ascertain progress properly unless you measure it.

I work with start-up business owners on a weekly basis and one thing that I advise is that they are diligent enough to measure business planning strategies such as: new sales strategy, new elevator pitch, new pricing structure, new sales methods for you or employees, new uniform, new way of answering the phone, new office environment, etc.

Otherwise, how else do you know whether your method is working?

Did you start a new sales campaign? How did that work out? How many new businesses did you bring in? What kind of client did you acquire? Did people come in easier with less probing? Did they refer their friends? Did they use credit cards, cash or checks mostly? Were these online or face-to-face customers? Did they respond better to mailings, email sales notifications, or phone calls?

The answers to these questions should help you figure out whether this was the best time of year for your sales, whether your pricing was appealing to clients, whether or not you need to do more online sales, or how you should notify clients in the future, etc.

Here's another example of measurements that lead to a change in business model or service offerings. Let's say you are a retail entrepreneur, you open a clothing store designed for toddlers. You decide that once clients are checking out their items, you will implement a conversational one-liner of "So, where are you headed today?" What seemed to you at the time to be "small talk" has now turned informational.

From asking the question, you now realize that mothers are entering your stores alongside grandmothers and aunts and the majority response to your question indicates that they come to your store on days that they free up to shop. They also tell you that they wish you had clothes that they could buy.

So you decide to take a survey of your target client and you ask what clothing stores they patronize. Then you find out what kinds of women clothing these stores carry and what price ranges they offer. Based on these results, you now decide to have a Mom & Me discount shopping day and your store now goes from selling only toddler's outfits to include women outfits. You also have your branding messaging reflect this change.

With this example, you implemented a new customer service tactic (the phrase) and you measured it. In other words, you were not only concerned with asking the question but you were interested in the answer. You then measured the percentage of people who gave you similar answers. Then you used those answers to modify your service offerings.

The surveying of clients, potential clients and research of your target audience does not stop and end at the initial phase of business. It is essential to continue as your business develops. Try new things and measure their outcomes in business. Sometimes you may be wrong, but most times, you may be "on the money."

Just remember that you cannot bake a good cake without the proper measurements. The same goes for business--particularly in your first and second years. Stick to your concept, but try different formulas and see what works.

Cheryl Isaac is a business start-up strategist to service businesses going online. She contributes to Forbes here and blogs about Making Business Personal here.  

Friday, July 17, 2009

From In-Person Meetings to Virtual Interactions; Tools for the Small Business Owner & Solopreneur

Last week I spent the week in New Orleans for a conference and was still able to work from my hotel and have virtual conferences with my clients and sales presentations with potential clients. The cool part of it all was that they didn't even know where I was.

If you're just starting a business or new to business, trying to build a client base is most likely your top priority. I would advise to think outside-the-box and try to get clients from any part of the country. If a client wants to "talk business" simply having a phone conversation may not work for most people. Most people are visual and being able to talk to you and see something on the screen, will help to liven the interaction.

This week, I've been working on improving my sales presentational items and revamping my marketing message. Within two weeks, I should have some great presentational tools (but that's for a different post obviously).

Today, I thought I'd share two simple modernized tools that allow me to conversate with clients around the country, and maximize my productivity while I'm out of town. After all, if a client asks to meet with you, you don't want to take away from your interaction with them by taking away the tools you would have used if you met with them face-to-face do you? And if you're a solopreneur or have a small amount of employees, you don't want your client missing their deadlines because you had prior commitments to meet do you?

Here are two methods that allow you to work efficiently on a virtual basis:
  1. GoToMyPC.com: GotoMyPC is a fast and secure way to access your office or home computer from any web browser at any time, from any part of the world. You can literally "take your office with you wherever you go." Sounds too good? I know but it's true and here's how it works: 1) Leave your home or office computer on and leave town 2) Go to http://www.gotomypc.com/ while you're out of town; from any internet connection 3) Work on your computer and access all of your favorites, etc--it is as if you signed on to your very own computer. My IT company has used this method with me on the phone to access my computer also; with my permission. So if you are a company needing access to clients' computers, you may want to use GoToMyPC.

  2. GoToMeeting.com: GoToMeeting is an easy tool to talk to your customers and make them feel as if you're in the same room. I use this tool most of the time and I like it. You can have online meetings and conferences, give sales presentations, have online training, etc. It's easy to maneuver, all you do is go to http://www.gotomeeting.com/ and: 1) Schedule a meeting via email or phone (I usually do via email, so my contact gets an email link inviting them to a meeting) 2) You can also give your attendees a conference number to dial-in on so that you guys can talk while viewing 3) Your client will have to click on the email link to access your screen 4) You then click to allow them to view your screen. Pretty simple.
Just in case you're wondering about security, both of these virtual tools are guarded by Citrix Online; the owner of all the virtual tools : GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting, GoToAssist. They have invested dollars to secure their systems with 128 bit AES encryption.

Both of these systems have free trials so I suggest you try them for free before using. I doubt that you will need both; one or the other may suit your business well.

My point for pointing out these tools is: If you're meeting with or trying to acquire out-of-town customers, why not work smarter and not harder? And if you're not trying to acquire customers from outside of your state, why not?

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and a Startup Business Consultant & Owner of Isaac Business Services, an agency that offers startup concierge & business planning services for small businesses

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

3 Simple Steps for your New Business Starter Website

So you've just started to develop your new business; you've bought some starter business cards, started your own mini version of a website, and you're now wondering how to even find your website or business name on search engines.

My advice is usually to talk to a few website developers; particularly those versed in search engine optimization and social media strategies. They can help you find tools like blogs, social networks, google AdWords, and other website essentials to help attract clients.

However, being a realist myself, I know that your budget right now is about the size of your new start-up business--tiny! There are too few website developers and social media strategists who focus on start-ups and startup budgets.

So for the time being, you may be on your own. However, here are three simple starter tools to help you in your efforts: (keep in mind that these steps are rudimentary as a website must follow specialized and complicated methods to attract visitors)
  • Google. Go to www.google.com/addurl and submit your website's URL. Google may or may not include your website; in fact this is Google's message to you: "We add and update new sites to our index each time we crawl the web, and we invite you to submit your URL here. We do not add all submitted URLs to our index, and we cannot make any predictions or guarantees about when or if they will appear." So, although Google may or may not submit your URL, you can at least try.
  • Add Me. www.addme.com This site will also allow you to submit your URL to major search engines; as well as create a shopping cart or use other tools essential to gain traffic for your website.
  • Coffee Cup. www.coffeecup.com This site creates software in an effort to help you create "cool websites." They have created a one-stop-shop to help you start and build a website. They also have essential tools that can search your website and offer you help in creating more awareness for your website. They can also customize reports for your particular website and business and help you with optimization.
If you're new to this, you may be thinking, how does submitting my website name to these sites help me? The answer is by doing this, you allow your website to come up when someone searches google or another site to find your business' website. Try this: type your business name into google before and after you follow these simple steps and see what happens. It make take a couple of weeks to have any effect but if your business name does not bring up your website in a major search engine right now, by following these simple steps, it should happen a few weeks after.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Happy Fourth of July!! I hope that you and your family enjoy spending some quality time together. As you hang out with family, remember, you have the perfect opportunity to survey family and friends regarding your business or business idea. You will be surprised that some information you get will prove valuable. Enjoy the fireworks and free time!

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and a Startup Business Consultant & Owner of Isaac Business Services, an agency that offers startup concierge & business planning services for small businesses.

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