Our First-Time Visitors

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."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to the Aspiring, Startup & Emerging Entrepreneur

It's almost the New Year and I've been taking a break in San Diego, California; revamping for 2010. Like most, I'm introducing a new plan for business in 2010 and taking on some new challenges. As I sat and reflected on some things this morning, I thought of you guys. My readers. The aspiring entrepreneurs, startups, and small business owners. I know you guys have plans and ideas for the New Year. If you're like me, you're sick of resolutions by now. Instead, you plan to take action; planning before and as you go along.

So Happy New Year!! Cheers to better businesses in the New Year. Here's some caution to you as you enter the New Year:

Aspiring Entrepreneur: If it's one thing you're entitled to, it's your dream. No one can take it away from you, or tell you how to dream. When I started, people patronized me because I was a young entrepreneur in a non-traditional role for young entreprneurs; a business planner. I've never let that stop me and today I have clients to show. Go for your dream, but don't just talk about it. Take small steps to make it reality. Everybody who is somebody, started with a dream. Start your business and learn as you go along. Don't wait for anyone's approval because you won't get it. For once in your life, take a risk that has the ability to give you more rewards than the risk you put in.

Start-up Entrepreneur: You are an innovator, an engineer, a risk taker, a much-needed facet of the economy. Don't let intimidation overtake you or your ideas. Don't let your size frustrate you. In this case, size really does matter; your smaller size matters. Your smaller size can help you become more innovative in 2010. Evaluate your business model. Find your voice and let people take you or leave you. Establish the lovers of your product or service and cater to them and only them.

Emerging Small Business Owner: Welcome the new possibilities in the New Year. Embrace your business and remember how far you've come. Revisit the real reason you started and reevaluate; are you being true to yourself and who you really are in business? 2009 may have been a tough year for you but you're running out of time for regrets. 2010 is here and it's time for you to buckle up and make the changes your business needs.

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is a Startup Business Planner & Owner of Isaac Business Services, The Business Startup Company. She is also the creator of The 12MonthBizPlan.com; an online business planning center where business owners can work with a personal advisor for a year, to plan their new business

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Be Creative; 3 Quick Tips to help you ReModel your Small Business in 2010

Admittedly, 2009 has been a tough year for small business. Start-up businesses have experienced their share of the burden as well. So how do you get your new start-up business revitalized for 2010? Simple: revamp your business model. If you're opposed to change so much that you haven't considered changing the way you do anything, you are at a disadvantage. We are in a changing and different society; in case you haven't noticed. The key is to keep your vision, but try to change the way you work towards accomplishing that vision.

Here are three quick tips to help you in your strategy session:

Quit being stingy with information. Too many business owners I run across continue to do this. If you know something that puts you a step ahead of the average person, share it freely. Don't worry about giving away your knowledge to a thief or competitor; just do it (besides, they're not a worthy competitor anyway if they had to steal your ideas). Here's the thing: just because you tell people how to do something, doesn't mean that they can do it as good as you, or that they will even do it. One thing that they will do though is appreciate you and your knowledge, or they may even refer business to you based on the information you gave. It shows that you are efficient at what you do. Give freely first. For instance, don't come out with your first e-book and a huge price tag. I stare in astonishment at so many $20 eBooks when books retail for less and as much as I'm a reader, I ignore them. Blog first on the topic; give me an idea of your writing style and knowledge, let me gravitate to you and then hit me with the price tag. Otherwise if you don't have a business centered around your topic, you don't blog, or better yet, you blog about sneakers all year and then have an eBook on sale about business credit, I may consider you an "info-fake." Most people want to learn, not be bamboozled. So start sharing what you know freely because in the end, you only help your business.

Create some form of paid-for education that surrounds your expertise. I've been making this transition myself and I've also helped my hubby revamp his law firm's business model to do the same in 2010. (I'll be updating you soon regarding these changes). We are in such an informational and quick-service age that as business owners, we need to reform our businesses to fit this age. Let go of the old saying that goes something like this, Well maybe that person couldn't be helped anyway or they're not my kind of client. I'm not saying that we can help everyone, but perhaps we could be more realistic and flexible. If someone cannot afford your training program for speakers, maybe they can afford a $30 DVD on how to prepare an efficient speech. Or you could start a workshop series. They could possibly start there and someday be ready to go through your extensive program. Perhaps they were not the "ideal" client for your training program but it should not necessarily exclude them from being a client.

Create some form of excitement for clients or potential clients. Think about ways to make someone excited enough to purchase your service. Your 2010 strategy should center around this theme. For me, I learned that hosting client appreciation events not only motivated my startup clients, but encouraged and inspired aspiring entrepreneurs to sign up with me. I also focused some efforts on starting a business club that will premiere online also in 2010. My mini business club events are usually social excitements that I can count on to produce business calls afterwards. You can also use Mercedes' example. When Mercedes wants to sell new models, they first send out private invitations for days with pictures of the cars and a particular date. Then, when potential clients walk in they wow them with food, drinks, balloons, excited sales people, and private escorts to any car that you may want to test drive. Although you're spending your hard-earned money, you feel excited at the possibility. Would you have walked in on your own to look at the car? Probably, but there's a high probability that you would not have.

I hope wish these tips help you in your quest to structure a better business in 2010. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

3 Good Reasons why Service-Based Startups can be great Internet Marketers

I had a discussion with a client the other day about service businesses being on the internet. So I wanted to post some good points from the discussion for you. If you own a service business and start-up that includes in-person consultations or interactions with clients on a daily or weekly basis, I've got great news for you. You can be a great internet marketer. Why? Well, here are three reasons:
  • You already have a business model for your startup. Most internet businesses start on the internet and depend on the internet. They acquire their first clients on the internet, they build a database on the internet, and they market products and services on the internet. You on the other hand, have already established a business that works, you know that there is a need because you have clients willing to pay you, and you already have a system in place. Getting on the internet will only be an additional service offering for your business. I'll give you an example; I helped startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in person for a couple of years when I started Isaac Business Services. I had been the banker who reviewed business plans and helped business owners get loans. I started my own business to show people how to model their business for funding and success. Couple of years later, I started 12monthbizplan.com and this website is an additional way to help people plan for business online. Although I will need to depend on online traffic and search engine marketing to build this new offering, I also have existing clients that use the website as an additional service.

  • You won't forget service. Although online businesses are great tools and great leveragers of time, they sometimes miss one thing--service. Most online-oriented consultants, coaches, marketers, advisors, etc give out great information and tons of resources. They are what is now referred to as "infopreneurs." However, most people still seek the traditional service. The traditional services that involves: the face-to-face meetings, listening to a client's problems (or in my case their dream), and actually helping with the solution. Not just telling, but helping. People want and still need help. Meaning, don't just tell them; help them! A new business may know what needs to be done but need some help starting it. So for a service-based startup wanting to market itself online, you are ahead of the pace because you can provide the actual service if needed. For instance; the financial advisor who has a financial coaching product or teleseminar; could also help setup the first college fund for your baby girl. A financial coach without the financial advisor background can only tell you that it needs to be done, but can't help you do it.

  • The internet will be a complement to your startup business. You already have relationships in your community. You have clients that pay for your services. You don't have to fabricate anything or ask for testimonials from your friends. With the internet, you can still keep your traditional method of doing business. I'm all for traditional business principles and methods. After all, the companies that survived the dot.com crash, stuck to traditional business principles. However, you must keep up with new trends in business and the internet. Don't run away from the internet; you're only harming your business. I run across a lot of business owners (successful ones) that don't have a blog, don't have a twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook account, and don't even understand ecommerce. While these are all services that a great web advisor can provide, you should also be considering how it all works. By marketing your business online, your service-based business is in essence, creating an additional offering for your business. You can use your online presence to cross-sell your services to past, existing, and potential clients (like my online business planning center for example) or to offer as a new service offering.
So where do you start? Before hiring a consultant or web advisor, I suggest you begin research for yourself first. Learn about the internet and how it relates to your business because it is a different "ball game." Then look up three of your industry leaders to determine how they position themselves on the internet, then figure out how to position your business differently. Look carefully at all the details: color schemes, wording, call to action (meaning how people are getting potential clients to buy) shopping carts used, database upkeep, etc. With the changing internet, there is so much to learn; and since you are concentrating on working with people in-person, you tend to miss it.

After these steps, interview web designers, brand strategists, social media gurus, and search engine optimizers. If you are on a tight budget, I suggest you first start with someone who can get the initial setup for you; but you may need to guide them so don't skip the research. You want someone who is familiar with social media and how it helps with helping people find your website and learn about you. Someone who understands how to build a "non-static" website. You also want that person to understand internet businesses, ecommerce, and internet marketing. Most importantly, they should understand web programming; particularly if this will prove to be important for your service business. One such company is DigitalValiance What you want to avoid: hiring three or four different companies. Find one company that can handle everything.

For startups that have some flexibility with cash flow, I suggest visiting a branding company to help strategize and get a web plan that matches your service startup. Branding companies tend to be advisors; they don't ask you what needs to be done, they show you. There is one downside to hiring a branding company; most branding companies charge higher fees that most startups probably cannot afford. The upside is that they do good work. A good branding company will not only put together a website, but they will research your business, your competitors and they will make sure that your company's profile matches your industry's; while still showing how you are competitive and different. They will ensure that your website has a way to help you grow your database, enhance your personal brand, and make clients want to stay. One such company that does this is Graphics.ms

Bottomline: get on the internet and tell people about what you do. Start somewhere and build as you go.

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is a Startup Business Planner & Owner of Isaac Business Services, The Business Startup Company. She is also the creator of The 12MonthBizPlan.com; an online business planning center where business owners can work with a personal advisor for a year, to plan their new business

Friday, December 11, 2009

Starting a Product-Based Business? Read the Book, "Your Idea, Inc"

If you are starting a product based business, you definitely want to read Sandy Abrams' book, Your Idea, Inc. With this book, the founder of Moisture Jamzz, Inc creates a step-by-step guide with some practical tips to help you take your product start-up to market.

Here's what I really liked about the book:
  • Chapter Nine: How to "Find and Sell to buyers." I found this chapter very instructional; particularly since this area is where most startups choke and lose confidence. If you are a product-based startup, you want to read this book particularly because of this chapter. The chapter is a class within itself that will walk you through: how to find a buyer, how to approach buyers, how to understand basic industry lingo, how to deal with buyers, how to fill orders, and how to ship to distribution centers.
  • Chapter Ten: The trade-shows how-to. If you have started a product-oriented business, you know how overwhelming this part can be. This chapter in the book gives you insight into the world of trade shows. It outlines a simple and practical way for startups to approach tradeshows. Everything that may have you flustered, is outlined in this section. For instance, Sandy Abrams advises how to find a tradeshow, how to pick the size, design and layout of your booth, how to set up a booth, what to wear to a tradeshow and how many hours per day of preparation you would need. Then, she even gives you guidelines for investing in your first tradeshow hand truck.
Highlights for me: the If they can do it, so can you sections. These are little one-paragraph blurbs found within the book. They briefly mention the startup stories of companies that started with simple means and overcame some sort of odds, and are now branded names within the business community. These sections will keep you motivated while reading the book.

You can read excerpts of the book by clicking here. Feel free to share your thoughts here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Memo to the Start-up Entrepreneur

Dear Start-up Entrepreneur:

As you may be struggling right now with refining your new business and the temptation to walk out on your dream, I decided to leave this note for you. While you sit alone in the headquarters of YOU, know that you are not alone. Remember these five key things:
  1. Do not expect too much. When I was starting I was excited and overzealous and I expected everyone to be the same. My first three months seemed like a let-down to me because people were not excited with and for me. I still look back on that and snicker at myself sometimes. Who did I think I was? It wasn't the responsibility of others to grasp or like what I was doing. Tip: Don't expect people to be overly enthused about your idea and dream. YOU have to work hard to convince them to join in your fun. Just tell yourself this and you'll be fine: Nothing's personal.
  2. Accept your odds. A start-up centers around this theme. The odds are against you. Face it and deal with it. The deciding factor is you. This is why I've always loved helping start-up businesses. It gives me a rush because I've always been prepared to take risks, I love risk-takers, and my life has been a maze of defying odds. Each start-up's odds may be different but every startup has this in common: the odds will be against you and you must face it. Tip: The only way to be different is to avoid being afraid to approach things differently.
  3. Remind yourself that you don't need handouts. Most aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups don't want handouts; and I'm sure you don't. Like most, you want advice, someone to listen to them, and support. You want and need assistance. So help people out there understand that instead of approaching everything from a cynical view with their wallet in mind, they could just try listening and aiding your startup venture for three months. Tell them, they would be amazed at what you will be able to accomplish. Tell them to talk to you, and brainstorm with you. Advise you. Let them know that you may surprise them with what resources you can locate for yourself with just a simple nudge from them. Tip: Remember, if someone patronizes your dream, they only risk their own chance of growing and learning.
  4. Ask yourself, what does Business mean to you? Knowing what business means to you helps you with a strategy for growth. For most people, it's about acquiring some money and moving on to the next thing. It becomes a project, a specimen that needs to evolve so that you take a sigh, pat yourself on the back, and move on. For some, it's about self-awareness and feeling fulfilled. For others like myself, it's about a sense of purpose; a sense of taking gifts + education, building a business around it, and serving people. And the clients I help are mostly of the same mindset. Tip: Before you partner with someone, first find out what makes you or them tick.
  5. Go back to the basics. Sometimes you have to remember where you started in order to see clearly where you want to go. Although new, your start-up business can still get lost in its attempt to grow clients and mature. The lucky startups come to a realization early-on that the accolades really doesn't matter. The people you serve do. Your customers are your gems. And sometimes, having the wrong customers can be the "thorn in a start-up owner's flesh." Having the type of customers who believe in your product or service enough to go all the way to help you serve their need, is the fuel your start-up craves. Tip: you can't help everyone but you must help someone; refine your products and services to focus on your true gems.

After years of working hands-on with aspiring entrepreneurs in banking and now having my own business, I've come to notice that this saying is untrue: If somebody's meant to be an entrepreneur, they'll just become one. I feel the same way about it as I feel about the saying: Leaders are born. Truth is, people sometimes need a slight nudge into the right direction. Not a push, just a nudge. Sometimes that nudge is in the form of the community, parents, family line, a person or group, or it may be in the form of a life-changing moment. I believe that the choices you make in your business and personal life determines how you evolve as a person.

Make the choice to surround yourself with like-minded people. If you can, join me in the movement to encourage entrepreneurship. I'm taking the focus on start-ups to an online community-focused team of experts, a business network, contacts, and most importantly, motivation. Join me in the business club to help aspiring entrepreneurs learn how to be different and defy the odds despite obstacles and skepticism. If you've ever thought that you were too old, too young, too poor, or that business was rocket science and out of your reach, that will all be forgotten once you become a member of this online club. Stay tuned for more information coming soon...

About the Author: Cheryl Isaac is a Startup Business Planner & Owner of Isaac Business Services, The Business Startup Company. She is also the creator of The 12MonthBizPlan.com; an online business planning center where business owners can work with a personal advisor; for up to a year, to plan their new business

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More