Category Archives: Entrepreneur

How to Become Indispensable?

Critics say that Linchpin is Seth Godin’s most passionate book and I have to agree. First, he reveals that “there are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.” Linchpins who hold meaningful jobs don’t just follow orders. They add creativity-filled innovation and thus, create art.

Seth shows how to free people so they can become artists, which means creators of unique and compelling value. It does not matter what these individuals do for living. It’s the attitude that matters. Linchpin’s drive and passion make it possible to create art every day.

If people can become artists, “they will rise to a level you can’t even imagine. When people realize that they are not an easily replaceable commodity….they produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money …” People crave connection and respect.

As an individual, you can’t become a linchpin merely because you are different.

Linchpin is a most unusual, thought-provoking and concise book about becoming indispensable, whether you work for someone else or are self-employed. Godin’s principles can be applied to other aspects of life. Linchpins can be spouses, friends and community members. They can be indispensable in many ways.

Godin says that if you want customers to flock to you, it’s tempting to race to the bottom of the price chart. There’s plenty of room there, but the only way to win is to race to the top.

Are you indispensable? Do you create art?

6 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

Common sense, but overlooked pieces of advice on how to grow a business. Check these out to decide whether any of them could become growth-growing points in your business.

* Find an edge over competition. Look at your industry’s biggest cost and time constraints and focus on those areas of your business.

* Describe your business in 1-2 words. Own a phrase that illustrates your product or service. Then Google it to see if you have chosen the right one.

* Focus on one measurable priority for your company, not a dozen. For 90 days, focus on one problem area of your business.

* Control your cash flow. Construct a business model that fuels your growth without the need for outside financing.

* Use blogs, white papers, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter to align your marketing materials with the phrase you own.

* Make changes faster. The fastest-moving companies huddle daily to drive their priorities.

Add More Hours to Your Day – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

The most common problem among many small business owners is “time poverty.” Putting in a lot of extra hours could help, but it’s not the answer. Neither is trying to do two things at once.

* Become an expert at what you do. Study the workflows of people who are efficient and copy them. Learn from experts in your field.

* Prioritize. What is the most important thing on your list? Focus on that alone until you are finished.

* Be open to new ideas. Some overwhelmed people think they already know all they need to know on a subject. Never stop learning.

* Become an expert of time management. Then practice every day until you master time management skills.

Read Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book was released in 2001 and remains a best seller as it fuels global demand for Mr. Allen’s workshops and personal coaching. Amazingly, he has established an industry around a simple approach to getting things done.

Grow Your Business With Proven Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies

Word of Mouth Marketing, the oldest form of marketing is gaining ground again. How can business owners beat the current recession with Word of Mouth Marketing?

Educate and Nurture Your Current Customers

Don’t put all emphasis on new customer acquisition, but affirm your current customers,
find ways to develop loyalty programs that increase the lifetime value of your customers. Reward
clients with your time, attention and little extras – they will become enthusiastic promoters for your products and services.

Get Known as an Expert in a Niche Community

Are you creating compelling stories (ideas, articles, informative presentations or videos) that are picked up and shared person-to-person via social networking sites or within niche communities? If not, observe successful entrepreneurs in your niche and find out how they have become experts and what has contributed to their success. Participate in discussions, create conversations and relationships that help you become an expert and share your ideas.

Offer Pleasant Surprises to Create Viral Marketing

Surprising your clients is worth your time, since it gives you an opportunity to exceed their expectations and satisfied customers will be back. It is not hard to come up with a special offer or free complimentary service, you can always add something remarkable to your product. The level of expectations changes fast these days, you have to be creative and continuously find new ways to “over deliver” so that your customers keep having new reasons to talk about you. Get to know your customers, their habits and buying patterns, develop a system to pleasantly surprise them.

Become and Stay Referable

Never stop learning how to be better and more efficient at what you do. Give your customers every reason to drum up more business for you and find out why or why not people refer you. Always welcome opportunities to meet and help other small business owners. Be interested in their business and volunteer activities. You will learn from them, also share your expertise and they will refer you as they get to know, like and trust you. You and your business will be on their mind as people in their network need products or services that you offer. Find time in your busy day to send thank you cards and notes to people who have made a difference in your life. Make it effortless for your loyal clients to provide information about you, your products and services (make sure they have your business cards and promotional materials, etc.) If you become and stay referable, you don’t have to try to sell your business to others, it will come to you.

Reinvent in the Recession with Great Marketing

Presentation Zen

Do you really know who your ideal customer is?  Can you picture what he/she reads, likes, wears and how your ideal client makes purchasing decisions?  If you know your customers’ needs well, then you don’t need to follow them around, you can lead them with confidence and you can spread ideas that resonate with your audiences.  Twitter and Facebook are great for networking, but if your customer does not even know how to spell Twitter, you may need to hang out somewhere else.  You need a different marketing strategy during recession, but first you need to

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

Examples of companies who know their customer:

Apple – Design matters!  People pay more for products if you give them a reason to do so.

REI – Offers quality and utility to people who value them.  Appreciates customer feedback.

Target – Makes customers feel good by letting them trade up,  differentiates its  brand from low cost retailers.

BE CREATIVE, do what your best competitors do, but do it differently, stand out. Find ways to create great customer stories and create your own story that others will tell.  Reward your best evangelists.  Write articles about your expertise or your business or have them written,  submit locally and  online.

BE INNOVATIVE, find news ways to market. Start your own inexpensive podcast if you have talent or find someone who will interview you.

Here are some useful websites for aspiring podcasters as well as listeners:

www.podomatic.com – they even give their authors 800 numbers so people can also listen to the podcast on their phones.

Free audio recording/editing software for podcasters:
www.audacity.sourceforge.net

Check out BlogTalkRadio as well.

STAY IN TOUCH with your customers and gain new clients via newsletters,  webinars or special offers.  Have free videoconferences via Skype.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Edgy Presentations Add More Power to Your Social Media Marketing

Presentation Zen

I started looking for alternative presentation tools for one of my always traveling friends and found  Zoho Show .  It is completely free for personal use,  presenters can access their presentations from anywhere.  You can  export your slideshow to PowerPoint if needed, share your presentation online and track how many people have viewed it.

Presentation sharing site Slideshare is growing in popularity,  users can upload Word documents,  text files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations,  PDF files as well as files created with Open Office (odt) and access them from the Slideshare site when presenting.  There is a 100 MB maximum allowed upload file size limit.

OpenOffice 3 Impress is a free software for creating effective multimedia presentations. You can use 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools.  It is possible to save your slideshow as a PowerPoint file.

Google Presentations belong to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family. One advantage that Google Presentations has over PowerPoint is the fact that all steps – the presentation creation, development, viewing and sharing can  take place online.

Sliderocket is another emerging web-based tool.  Users can incorporate video and publish their presentations online or embed them on their websites.  Their free plan provides 250 MB of storage.

And yes, you have to learn presentation design from Garr Reynolds

Spice up your presentations, spread your ideas!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

From Purple Cows to Tribes and Free Prizes – Seth Godin Has Mastered Edgecraft

Cover of "Free Prize Inside"

Cover of Free Prize Inside

In his book, Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin points out that innovation is cheaper than advertising.  He defines the “free prize” as that extra, edgy product feature. His examples include swatch watches, frequent flyer miles, Tupperware parties, and portable shredding trucks. Design and style matter, he says.

One chapter describes how brainstorming can become boring. His alternative, “edgecraft,” involves analytical thinking to add something remarkable to a product.  His laundry list of edges includes safety, invisibility, and hours of operation. Much of the book deals with how to sell great innovative ideas to the VIPs of any given company.

Purple Cow taught marketers the importance of standing out from the crowd. But it left readers wondering how to come up with new purple cows.

Free Prize Inside delivers answers.

Godin says that if a product satisfies and gets consumers to tell other people what you want them to tell other people, it’s not a gimmick. It’s an experience worth talking about. It’s a soft innovation.

Anne Fisher of Fortune has told that Godin is a “guru you’d love to discount because he seems so cocky, but it’s hard to do because he’s so rarely wrong.”

I love  Seth Godin’s books, as they are always thought provoking, insightful,
unusual, edgy, non-academic and inspirational.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Viral Marketing Flourishes in Recession

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...

Image by luc legay via Flickr

Many small businesses have cut their advertising budgets and put their marketing efforts on hold.  Their satisfied customers, social networks, and happy business partners therefore become their main promoters.   As this is the year of reinventing, recycling and repositioning for many small businesses, let’s think about the best ways to help the above mentioned groups spread the good word for your business.

  1. Give away information, products or services within target groups in your social network.
  2. Make it effortless for your best customers to provide information about you and your product (hand out business cards, promotional materials, etc.)
  3. Offer products and services that can easily fit the needs of different companies – from small to very large.
  4. Understand common motivations and behaviors – find common needs – create mutually beneficial partnerships.
  5. Utilize your existing social networks, become a “go to person” on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as in your local Chamber of Commerce.
  6. Take advantage of other people’s networks to gain exposure for your products and services.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Small Businesses Can Also Experience Rebirth

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and coauthor of Built to Last, now tells us why even great companies can fail and how some survive and thrive after coming close to disaster.

In his new book, How the Mighty Fall,how-mighty-fall-why-some-companies-never-give-jim-collins-hardcover-cover-art Collins offers leaders the hope that they reverse their course when they are failing.  He says every institution, no matter how great, is vulnerable to decline. Any of them can fail and most eventually do. But some companies recover and become stronger.

Collins gives these stages of decline.

Stage 1.Complacency – know why specific things are a success and under what conditions they will no longer work. Good leaders realize that luck has played a role in their success and don’t become convinced that they personally were responsible for it.

Stage 2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Do not neglect negative data and put a positive spin on ambiguous factors.

Stage 4. Grasping for salvation – lurching into a new area or product rather than getting back to the discipline that brought success in the first place.

Stage 5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. The longer a company grasps for silver bullets, the more likely it is that it will continue the downward spiral.

To survive and thrive, companies need to listen to customers in an unemotional way. They should tune in to the customer experience. As long as they can avoid getting entirely knocked out of the game, hope remains.

How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins, published by Jim Collins, 240 pages,

12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer

 I found a great post by Steve Tobak on the BNET site.  Here’s what he tells us:

 12 Rules for Being a Great Marketer (Part I, Rules 1 – 6)

  • Sales is your friend. The whole “natural tension between sales and marketing” thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales’ ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don’t understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they’re all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such. 
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your “process;” it’ll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it’ll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it’s an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results – both good and bad – to stakeholders. Do it.