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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

KikScore Technology Acquired – Service Will Change on June 28th

Friday, June 1st, 2012

 

Announcement About KikScore’s Future

We are excited to announce that the KikScore technology and certain assets have been acquired.   As of June 28, 2012, the KikScore service will no longer be available to customers.  We recommend that our customers check out the Google Trusted Store product as an alternative to the KikScore service.  In fact, we wrote this post last October that describes how complimentary the KikScore and Google Trusted Store products are for small businesses.  We are very proud of the more than two years that we offered the KikScore service and are so grateful to the 1700+ small business customers that we have served globally.

Back in 2008 this all began at a Fuddruckers in Northern Virginia.  The road from there to today has been filled with great highs, some deep lows, overcoming immense challenges all while dealing with the occasional kicks to the gut that most startups typically experience.   It has been a sincere pleasure for the entire KikScore team to serve so many small businesses and also work to help them be successful through this blog, tweetchats and our December 2011 white paper.  There is still great work to be done for small businesses and that is why we are so excited that an industry leader will be able to build off of the technology, platform and IP that we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, developing and launching.

Now The Very Important Thank Yous

There are so many people that helped us in invaluable ways get to this moment.  That is why it is so important for us to take the time to thank the people that helped us. To the inevitable person that I forget, please forgive me.

  1. Two Intros Help Make the KikScore Sale Possible:  Even before the stories of the introduction, two occurrences had to happen for us to get to today and for the sale of KikScore to become a reality.  First, I went to my good friend’s wedding in beautiful Montana a few years back and secondly, I made the choice to attend Ohio State back in the late 90s for graduate school. Those two seemingly random events led to two separate, but critical introductions by Eric Liaw (who I met at our mutual friend’s Zeno’s wedding while roasting marshmallows at the rehearsal dinner in Montana) and Anuj Goswami (fellow OSU grad and Browns fan!) to the necessary stakeholders to make this deal come together.  Even more importantly is the lesson learned from this: when people call you, return their calls….but maybe wait a bit!  I took a little extra time to call Anuj back (ok 3 weeks!), but on a ride home from the Reston Town Center to DC on a cold Friday afternoon in February I finally returned Anuj’s call that quite randomly turned into the catalyst to bridging Eric’s introduction with an introduction Anuj would make within hours of our call.  That one returned call to Anuj and his initiative set us off to the races to get this deal done!  So a major set of thanks to Eric and Anuj for those crucial introductions at just the right time. 
  2. KikScore’s Team: Frankly, I will never look at Denver the same way because that time zone difference with our headquarters in DC and 10:30pm team calls just about killed me.  Somehow and someway over the years, we mastered the DC and Denver teams working together seamlessly.  To that end, Travis Valentine, our CTO, worked every minute he could to help get us to where we could be in this position where we are at today.  Without his tireless and amazing efforts, dedication and willingness just to get things done, we would never be making this announcement.   We, along with our team, accomplished so many things that we are all proud of here.  Our team was filled out by Mike Collins (product lead and resident Packers fan), Mike Mauseth (one of the original co-founders and Fudruckers guys and one person with a crazier sense of humor than me), Joel Springer (the creative visionary behind the KikScore look and feel), Mike Britti (Mr. 30,000 foot), Kristen Hillier (our scoring model whiz), and Woody Jones.  We also must thank Sergey Kliuev our always available surge capacity developer in the Ukraine who was so great helping us with our partner integrations.  It is awesome to have the technology the team built get recognized and acquired by a global technology leader.
  3. Killer Guidance from Our Key Advisor:  Tom Lewis was nothing short of a savior to the KikScore team and especially me.  As a founding member of the fantastic Founder Corps group, Tom provided continual strategic, product and partner guidance over the last year.  Simply, without Tom’s guidance, support and introductions, there is no way we would have gotten as far as we did and had been in as many strategic discussions as we have been over the last few months.  Every founding team and CEO should wish to have a mentor/advisor as accessible and strategic as Tom.  Also there is another advisor I cannot really name due to certain sensitivities, but he knows who he is, and this is a special thanks to him.  Again Tom was instrumental in making that introduction as well last year!  Tom Lewis what can I say…..just phenomenal.
  4. Community/Evangelist Support:  The overall small business community has been tremendously supportive of KikScore and our mission over the last two years.  We had some fantastic folks that tirelessly helped us and so we want to recognize and thank each of them. They are: Anita Campbell (for all the mega shoutouts and support); Ramon Ray (thanks for the infectious energy and coverage of our growth); Ivana Taylor (for all the help and chats); Tai Goodwin (for inviting us to guest host the prestigious #SmallBizChat); John “ColderIce” Lawson (the amazing support and you always making us laugh); Tinu Abayomi-Paul (your unending good wishes) Jill Foster (the Dupont Circle/neighborly love); Laurie McCabe (for the SmallBizInfluencer nominations and interview); Shonali Burke (our early PR guru) and Howard Lewinter (for your guidance and stories).  Sadly, somehow three of these folks are also Steelers fans.  It is a tribute to them that they still talk to me since I am a Browns fan…….
  5. Friends’ Direct Support, Help & Guidance: The space here and the time cannot do enough justice to the friends who supported us, made key introductions, helped with creating amazing pitch decks, gave us strategic guidance and also just provided huge amounts of moral support along the way. They included:  Shashi Bellamkonda (our #1 evangalist and my close confidant on our daily rides home); Jason Knaut (the best strategic/ex-investment banker/ex-corp dev guy any entrepreneur would want on their side); Harry Lalor (for listening to all my stories and the fantastic support); Ntoh Etta (for keeping us focused and helping with diligence); Eric Akunda (giving strategic guidance and helping keep things in perspective); Roy Dunbar (for being so generous and opening up his huge network to us with multiple introductions); Jake Lebowitz (for helping support me get the sale closed); Atul Rustgi (great strategic guidance as the clock wound down – though I am still surprised that a UMichigan guy would help out a Buckeye!); Elvis Oxley (for always thinking about connecting KikScore to every new person you met); Bobby Turnage (see this post on leadership on how he helped); and Miles Reidy and Dick LeFave (for each of them ironically on the same day in 2011 telling me to just go “all in” with my entrepreneurial drive and pushing me to succeed).  I cant thank each of you enough for the incredible help and inspiration you each provided.
  6. Wise Counsel:  At KikScore we were lucky to have great lawyers help us on this deal.  Mike Hardy from Rosenberg, Martin & Greenberg, LLC in Baltimore, who I pulled too many all-nighters working with at White & Case, served as our lead corporate counsel and gave us great legal and non-legal guidance throughout the process of documenting and finalizing the sale of the KikScore technology.  Also Rick Holzer and Chirag Patel from HolzerIPLaw in Denver have been great over the years serving as our IP and patent counsel through the long patent process for the KikScore technology.
  7. KikScore Customers: Without our customers we would have been nothing.  We are so thankful for all the small business customers that gave us a chance, used our product, told their friends and evangelized KikScore.  It was great to get to know so many of our customers as well through our interview series on this blog.  Thanks to our customers for making this all possible.  And I would be remiss not to send out a very special thank you to Paybaq’s Brian Esposito for being such a fantastic customer advocate for KikScore after nearly leaving us!  We are so glad we won you back.
  8. Lastly & Most Importantly the KikScore Families: There is just not enough that any of the team can say about our spouses, kids, parents and siblings for being there and supporting each of us along the way.  No one really can quantify the level of patience and understanding that each or our families had to go through when you have a startup with 10:30pm team calls, late night customer escalations and weekend after weekend of saying I just need to spend time getting things done.  So for each and every family member we THANK YOU! Now specifically for Rebecca, my wife, I cant thank her enough for her unending patience for the entire KikScore experience and the major impact it had on our lives……though the great thing now is that the 24/7 defacto Customer Service Level Agreement I have had to abide by since she was a KikScore customer now expires on June 28th!  Seriously, thank you Rebecca so much for the amazing support, help, guidance and trying to help me balance some crazy form of work-startup-family balance especially today as you are now 8+ months expecting!  I could not have done this without your support.  I am sure that many of the same tremendous thanks could be said for Travis and his wife Sarah and the rest of the team and each of their respective spouses.  Thanks so much to each and every one of them.

On a personal note I look forward to moving on to my next gig….and oh yes it will be another startup launching this summer.  I am really excited for it. Finally, I am thankful for trusting my gut instinct.  Countless times so many of the people that I have thanked above either validated my gut thinking or told me I was way crazy so I luckily modified course a bit.  The one thing that no one could convince me to do was giving up on our goal of getting KikScore this far.  My gut always told me to push on in this journey to get to the end we all wanted to get to.  I am therefore incredibly thankful that I both trusted that instinct while also having the team, advisors, friends, the community, evangelists, customers, counsel and especially the family to get KikScore to today’s announcement.

 

 

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Small Business Tips & Guidance from Moooh’s Carlo Trotta – Selling from China, Serving the World

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I had the opportunity to interview Carlo Trotta from Moooh!! and he had a lot of interesting things to say in the interview below.

1. Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

Moooh!! is the first social luxury commerce website. We design, handcraft and sell custom made jewelry, apparels, shoes, fashion accessories, ethnic home decor, gifts idea. At moment we sell only jewelry and few accessories, but in the next months we will add many other products. Almost all the products sold on Moooh!! are proudly Made in China. I don’t understand why many luxury brands producing in China, often don’t disclose to their customers the origin place of their products. Moooh!! serve a wide target of customers, people who loves beautiful things, made with good material, good quality manufacturing , elegant, fashionable, unique. Everything sold at very competitive price.

2. How did you get started selling online?

I started to sell on Ebay. Being power seller on different accounts and then I left because of the increasing Ebay commission fees, harassment policy for the sellers and low seller protection given by Paypal.

3. What inspires you to grow your business?

Give to people the possibility to access to beautiful and fashionable quality items at very competitive prices. I want to create a community of shoppers and small businesses through Reward Programs, Promotions, Sweepstakes, Affiliate Programs and other strategic initiatives that we will take during the year.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

Total dedication to the customers.  You must create and offer what the customer is looking for, customize and personalize for your customers, then reward them for their purchases. Finally, invest your time more than money.

5. Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

I will invest in inbound and online marketing. Also I will be really focusing on spread my social media presence so I can create a community of shoppers and small businesses around Moooh!!

6. What do you see as 2 new trends for small businesses and in your business?

I can “predict” a much deeper use of social media and blogging.  It is almost a must these days!  I’m also quite sure also that many small businesses will start to consider developing some type of mobile applications for their business.  Mobile is really taking off and small businesses need to focus on what is their mobile strategy!

7. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

Rocky. Starting from less than zero, exercise, learn, fight, fall down and stand up until the victory. I hope I can make my own movie.

8. If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Actually no one, but myself, my customers, my affiliates and small businesses than are around Moooh!! That’s very social and also my dream spokepersons!

9. What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

Raising money to develop and grow the business. I cannot see any other challenge considering that I live in China and there’s no better place than here to have a business and catch the huge opportunities that this wonderful country offers.  That being said raising capital and having enough capital is the biggest challenge.  That capital will make or break making small businesses in China that are serving the world market like me.

10. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

Concentrate your effort on your customers, make the product they need, make them love the product they buy and then they will purchase more from you and spread the word. Also relentlessly focus on reduce expenses, cut the unnecessary costs so you can invest your time and dedication to your business. But don’t forget also to dedicate time to your family and friends:) That will keep you truly happy.

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Check Out the Dream Big Contest for Small Businesses – Win A Trip to DC!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

So our readers and the community know we here at KikScore are all about helping out, supporting and championing the Cleveland Browns. OK!  Just kidding (its draft day after all!), we are all about small business.   We eat, leave, breathe and do all things small business and this blog and its almost 400 posts (this is the 399th) is a testament to our commitment to small business success.   So when I found out about the Small Business Dream Big Conference, I said we at KikScore have to tell the world about it and support it.

So here are the details for this content that is sponsored by the folks that bring you .US domain names.  So if you enter the content and win here is what you get:

1. Two of you get to travel to Washington DC all expenses paid (make sure you stop by the historic Ben’s Chilli Bowl and awesome 2 Amy’s Pizza when you are here) between May 20-24th;

2. Two full day passes to the National Small Business Conference;

3. Professional consulting from an industry expert;

4. A complete website redesign; and

5. A local online advertising campaign customized just for your business.

Wow.  Sign me up.  That is pretty cool.  Does that mean if I win here at Kikscore they will pay my Metro fair to the conference and for me to stay at a hotel across the street from my house?  I hope so, I need the rest before our baby #2 arrives in July!  I would be the cheapest content winner that .US and Neustar could get, but knowing my luck (and theirs) they will get someone from Montana (been there by the way and it is beautiful) that they have to fly here through Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Richmond, Pittsburgh, and finally to DCA!

Anyway please go check it out and enter as all the details can be found at the Web Address to KickStart America Website – .US.  Great work to the .US folks for putting this together!

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Small Business Interview with Troy Fimrite from the Atlin Institute

Friday, April 20th, 2012
Atlin

I had the opportunity to interview Troy Fimrite from the Atlin Institute and he had a lot of interesting things to say in the interview below.

Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

You know how people buying a business for the first time are making a big life decision, need to buy the right one and not lose their money? Well, we help them with a money saving resource www.buyertoolkit.com that answers a lot of questions and makes it easy for them to buy a business for the first time.

How did you get started selling online?

I have been involved in buying and selling companies for 20 years and constantly answer emails, phone calls and interviews by people looking for a answers as they look to buy a business for the first time. I decided to utilize the internet and create a downloadable product to make it easy for people around the world to quickly understand the way to buy a business. The whole idea is to make it easy to understand, simple to follow and make it as easy as 1-2-3!

What inspires you to grow your business?

I am an Entrepreneur and absolutely love growing business! I have been very fortunate to be mentored by many incredibly successful business people and now also mentor people new to business through Universities, Accelerator programs and Entrepreneurship programs. I am inspired every time someone takes a step towards business ownership and truly love helping them along the way!

If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

A/B test everything. And you do not know what will work until you try it!

Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

I have several businesses that are in different stages so I spend time working with each one to ensure they are efficient, growing and profitable. My time with the Buyer Tool Kit is to constantly improve the content and make sure customers understand the simple steps to buy a business!

What do you see as 2 new trends for small businesses and in your business?

The access to the Internet and advanced technology is opening up new markets for business owners without large investments and the second is the movement of people wanting their own business as additional income.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

James Bond. He is always one step ahead, has timeless knowledge, uses excellent tips and tricks and always achieves a happy ending!

If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Richard Branson, Incredible businessman who has started and bought hundreds of businesses!

What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

To create an online presence that earns the trust of people looking to buy a business and provide a product that can truly save them thousands of dollars. We are focused on gathering user feedback, adding up the dollars we have saved for people and using great trust indicators that actually add value like KikScore!

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

I will share this simple quote that was passed on to me by a really successful business mentor: ” Troy, you make money when you buy.”

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Small Business Interview with Ruben Guerin from Cookbook Village

Friday, March 16th, 2012
I had the opportunity to interview Ruben Guerin from Cookbook Village and he had some very interesting insights into the current state of e-commerce and small businesses.  Ruben also had some great recommendations for small businesses just getting started selling online in the interview below.

Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

Cookbook Village has been around several years, but as a popular eBay store. The new store, which opened in January 2012, caters to collectors and cookbook enthusiasts and offers collectible, vintage and used cookbooks.

How did you get started selling online?

My wife had been a collector for years and asked me at one point to sell her collection on eBay. She was fascinated by e-commerce and wanted to us to try it out. There is an audience for collectible cookbooks and we knew it as soon as her original collection was nearly depleted. To keep the store going and our own collecting habit fed, we began scouting cookbooks all over the region. Finally last year, we decided to plan to open our own e-commerce store in 2012. It was six months in the making as we wanted it to be our dream site. We opened in early December and are now entering month four.

What inspires you to grow your business?

I was a 20-year employee of Shell Petroleum when I lived in The Netherlands. I gave up a stable career there to move to the United States with my wife–she had wanted to return home after living there for over 10 years. My world changed quite a bit and I have had to try to re-establish myself. Cookbook Village is my chance at again having a thriving career, this time running my own business. People have said a printed book is becoming a thing of the past. I believe that cookbooks are something you need to touch and feel and I am out to prove they will be around for a long time into the future. Growth is key in any business.

If you had two lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

1) Selling online is a business like any other. You have to put a lot of time and effort into making it successful. It is not as easy as putting up a cart page and hitting publish. There are many facets to selling online and I think many new store owners expect it to be easy with a “build it and they shall come” mentality. That is a mistake.

2) Ensure that you plan ways to engage your audience. Cookbook Village has a strong focus on audience engagement and customer service. We are constantly thinking of new ways to reach out and provide our site’s users and customers with content and products that meet their needs. Social media and search engines are both kings in the world of e-commerce. Neither should be taken lightly and both should be a focus when you are building your online store or business. I see many online businesses today that practice one-way communication. This is why the KikScore seal is so important to us. It is a means for customers to provide feedback in a trusted, third-party app.

Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

Since we have only recently launched the new cookbookvillage.com store we have been focused heavily on tuning our store to offer a better customer experience. Also, we are heavily focused on building store traffic and brand awareness. Through social channels, blogging and SEO, we are starting to gain momentum. We didn’t expect a single sale for the first several months. We were being conservative. We are prohibited from reaching out to our eBay base, so essentially we’ve had to start over. We made a sale in the couple days after hitting “public” in our cart application. What a surprise, but it’s set the bar a bit higher as well.

What do you see as two new trends in small business and in your business?

Pinterest and similar visual sharing platforms are hot right now, especially for e-commerce. The fastest online sale we’ve ever seen came just seconds after hitting “Pin” on one of our books. We are seeing similar platforms come out so we are tracking them closely to see if there are opportunities.

Integrations in technology have really helped streamline small businesses like ours. Our shopping cart platform, Shopify, integrates with a lot of wonderful apps. KikScore, email apps, order status apps and more make the store easier to manage. The fact that companies are working together to provide more integration and features for end-users is a blessing. We wouldn’t have been able to do half of what we’ve accomplished without a platform like Shopify and all of it’s partner applications.

If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. Cookbooks make people happy. We like making the connection between cookbook and cook, often bringing customers a cookbook that has a deep connection with a childhood or memorable event. Over the years, we have received many letters from people we’ve touched. Some of those letters describe the memories the customer has had come to life from a book from their past and being able to find it again. I can’t think of many retail items that have the power to bring someone to tears. We are a business like any other and need to profit to carry on and survive, but we like the fact that we make people happy. It’s a win-win situation for both Cookbook Village and our customers.

If your business could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Russ Parsons, food editor at LA Times did an article on our store. He had stumbled upon our site a week after launch. He has a huge following and a lot of influence in our market. We followed him on the Daily Dish blog but weren’t truly aware of his love of cookbook collecting until we saw the article about Cookbook Village. What a spokesperson he would be! He understands the culinary world and the audience–and is himself a collector. Having someone like that discuss our business is powerful because he understands both the industry and the market. The day that article came out was a day we will forever remember. We were so surprised to see it. It was the perfect article and we wouldn’t have changed a word. If we could pick a second it might have to be one of the Top Chef hosts. We love that show and all its hosts.

What is the biggest challenge that your business faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge we face tends to be too many ideas, too little time to execute them. Since we are still small and starting out, we need to do it on our own. Our store model patterns the brick-and-mortar boutique store experience–customer service focused with a richer focus on cookbook details versus the one line descriptions you often see on online book sites. That means complete cookbook details and vivid photos of the items (no stock photos of our books). That takes a lot of time. Also all the marketing and customer outreach can be draining. So when do we work on all these updates, promotions and new ideas? We overcome the obstacle by logging each idea and making a fixed time each week to execute at least one of them.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

A strong focus on providing good customer service is as important to online businesses as traditional businesses. With the current social climate online, customers have the power to help promote your business alongside you. Don’t take for granted. Some people may love a quick get-in, get-out experience but others prefer a connection and a sense of community. Online retailers should strive to bring customers the best of both worlds.

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Thanks Fox Business For Covering KikScore As Their Featured Business of the Day

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

We were really excited that our friends on Twitter nominated us to Fox Business Channel to be featured as their Business of the Day last week.  Special thanks to Kate Rogers the fantastic Fox Business Network Online, Small Business reporter that interviewed and then featured KikScore.  Here is her article: Grading Small Businesses to Close Sales.  Fox Small Business is doing a great job profiling small businesses.  Just follow the hashtag #mysbc on Twitter to see other great businesses that they are profiling and nominate your favorite ones.  We nominated a bunch last week!

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A Look Behind Talk Business With Howard & His Tips To Grow Your Company

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As everyone knows I am a huge Cleveland Browns fan and I have to say I do generally dislike all things Pittsburgh (Steelers!).  But I have the constant and recurring issue in my life of getting connected to just some fantastic people from Pittsburgh.  Well it starts with my wife, Rebecca, but it goes on an on.  It is really tough for me to keep up my angst about the 3 River city when they just have such great people from there!

So I met another former Pittsburgher, Howard Lewinter from yet another Pittsburgh native Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers (and of course I met Ivana through Anita Campbell.....ah yes another Ex-Pittsburgher).  About a month ago Ivana said to me I just have to meet Howard because he is great.  You know what, Howard is just fantastic and has been tremendously helpful in providing amazing practical guidance and direction to me at KikScore, among other things.  Then I found out that Howard has launched his own new radio show called Talk Business with Howard.  It is a great hour of radio where he interviews and talks with small business thought leaders and entrepreneurs.  The nuggets coming out of the show are excellent.  We at KikScore highly recommend Howard's show to all of the businesses, startups and the entrepreneur community.  So we are really excited to give you a look behind Talk Business with Howard and also Howard takes a few minutes to give some great guidance to all of us business owners.

1. Tell us about your business and who you focus on serving?

I’m a Business Management Specialist. I advise, guide and focus CEOs, presidents and business owners.  My specialty is solving business problems and business issues. Whatever is holding you back from greater profit and success. I help CEOs, presidents and business owners get to where they want to be with their business regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

2. How did you get the idea for Talk Business With Howard?

I was sitting at my desk one day thinking about how many times I had to spell my name over and over again when I would talk with people and gave them my web or email address.  Although I’d been working with CEOs, presidents and business owners since 1989, about 5 years ago on that day I was sitting at my desk I asked myself the question of: What do I do?  I answered myself: I talk about business.  That’s how the URL of my website plus blog, radio show and Facebook page became Talk Business With Howard.  Easy to remember and very descriptive as to what I do.

3. What upcoming topics are you going to cover on the radio show?

My goal is always to get people in business to really think.  The greatest asset anyone has is to be thinking clearly and to have a positive attitude.  How you think determines how successful you will be in business – or anything else. The topics covered on Talk Business With Howard, either the blog or the radio show, always relate to business success.  Topics include: Almost anything you can think of related to running a successful, profitable business.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from starting your radio show that you could pass on to others about starting a business, what are those?

First: Plan.  Be prepared.  Second: Know who you are and where you want to go.  Relax and be yourself.

5. Where has your business focused most of its energy this year?

The focus is always on the need of the client.  My objective is to help CEOs, presidents and business owners breakthrough the barriers that keep them from the success they deserve.  I’ve advised business people to become millionaires; struggling companies to stabilize, turnaround and become profitable again; and I’ve advised multi-millionaires.  I help successful business people become more successful – or successful once again.

6. What do you see as 2 new trends that your guests are talking about for small business?

Several years ago everyone who ran a company wanted to talk about employee problems – how to train, motivate and have employees do the best work they possibly can; and how to grow their business. Today many businesses are talking about survival and how to best navigate through this uncertain economy.  The two topics they are most interested in are: 1) prospecting for new leads  2) closing more sales.

7. Who would be your dream guest for the radio show and why?

It’s not just one individual.   It’s any book author or business person that will help the listeners understand how to run or operate a better business with less stress and more profit.

8. What is the biggest challenge that your business and your show faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

Time.  There is no more time.  So whether someone is running their business or hosting a radio show, they have to use their time wisely.  You can buy a new car, get new clothes, go out to a fabulous restaurant, take a vacation or any other number of things; but the one thing you can’t buy is time.  You can’t get any more time.  There are only 24 hours in a day.  That’s it.  Use time wisely.

9. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

Yes! Don’t think of yourselves as small business.  Think as a business that every day is gaining momentum and growing into a very nice sized business that will help bring profit to the company and provide for their family, employees and everyone they are associated with a very nice living and way of life.

10. What is your 140 letter Twitter quote of your message to small businesses out there in the form of guidance, lessons learned or just your special thought?

Don't sit behind your desk. Get out there. Get involved. Be in action with your business.

Thanks Howard for sitting down with us.  If any of our readers have questions for Howard, please leave them in the comments section and we will work to get answers to those questions.

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Untapped Potential in and around the Capital: How the GWR can catch up to Silicon Valley

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

When it comes to entrepreneurial success in technology, everyone thinks of Silicon Valley. The irony here is that, in spite of its highly entrepreneurial and technology-savvy environment, the Greater Washington Region (GWR) has not been able to catch up with Silicon Valley. This issue has perplexed many people in the GWR and spurred them to try and bridge this entrepreneurial gap. However, some things are not so easy to solve, and this conundrum has many different angles to it. Luckily, Amplifier Ventures’ own Jonathan Aberman, who is also co-chair of Startup Virginia and president of FounderCorps, has developed a report on the GWR and how it fares in surpassing Silicon Valley as the center of technology entrepreneurship.

Another Way

As Aberman discusses, businesses within the GWR have tried to understand why Silicon Valley remains at the helm of technology entrepreneurship. Like most of us, these businesses have looked towards the everlasting concept: To defeat your opponent, you must become your opponent. Such thoughts have led many to consider one of two options on how the GWR can become the new Silicon Valley:

1)      We can mimic Silicon Valley’s infrastructure by fostering particular aspects of its entrepreneurial demographic such as its capital and workforce.

2)      We can adopt the cultural mentality of Silicon Valley by creating a greater sense of connection and support amongst the entrepreneurial community.

Although these are good ideas, Aberman sees fault in how the supporters of these theories are viewing the issue at hand. No two people are alike, so we can hardly expect that two separate regions can be the same. Aberman feels that we cannot look for patterns that contribute to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial success just so we can copy it. Rather, he believes we must utilize these observed patterns in a way that caters to the GWR’s own unique infrastructure and culture. This being said, Aberman proposes that the GWR’s solution to overtaking Silicon Valley lies in mergers and acquisitions.

The Hard Facts

Of course, nothing changes if a proposal has no foundation. That is why Aberman has provided a convincing series of facts regarding M&A in both the GWR and Silicon Valley. Aberman examines the Financials, Healthcare, High Technology, Industrials, Media and Entertainment, and Telecommunications industry sectors of both regions from 2007 to 2011 in order to find substantive evidence to his claim.

Across these technology-intensive sectors, two particular points stick out. First of these is the difference in the amount of each regions’ local acquisitions. Of the acquired Silicon Valley companies between 2007 and 2011, approximately 45% were bought up by local firms. On the other hand, only around 37% of GWR companies were acquired by firms in the same region. The second point that deserves attention is the diversity of acquisitions among the various sectors. Silicon Valley saw around 64% of its acquisitions in High Technology. Although this is the same sector that the GWR had the majority of its acquisitions in, it was only around 37%. This means that, despite both regions focusing on High Technology, the GWR was much more diversified amongst the sectors.

What does it Mean?

From the differences in local acquisitions and the amount of diversity across the sectors, Aberman demonstrates his opinion of the issue at hand. By experiencing almost half of its acquisitions locally, Silicon Valley is essentially recycling its own resources. Beneficial assets such as innovative ideas, patents, and knowledgeable workers are not leaving Silicon Valley, but staying together. This consolidation allows for acquiring companies to gain valuable products and services from others with the same regional mindset, ensuring that the acquisition itself will be smoother.

On the other hand, Aberman explains that Silicon Valley’s inclination towards High Technology provides yet another reason that the GWR has trouble catching up. By focusing so much more on High Technology than any other sector, entrepreneurs within Silicon Valley can quickly create startup companies, sell them, and begin again. In the GWR’s case, focusing more evenly on the various sectors means that there are less companies that are looking to acquire startups, therefore causing a slower creation and acquisition cycle.

Putting it all Together

From these two points, Aberman surmises that businesses in the GWR are not catering enough to their own region. Entrepreneurs in the GWR need to focus more on what local businesses are demanding. By doing so, the likelihood of companies being created and bought will increase and the cycle will speed up. Although such a process will take a large deal of time and effort, Aberman offers a far more feasible solution that past ideas which proposed a simple copy and paste method.

If anyone is interested in gaining a better understanding of this issue, contact info@startupva.org and request a copy of “Merger and Acquisition Trends in Silicon Valley and the Greater Washington Region: 2006 – 2011.”

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Top Five Tech Tools You’re Probably Not Using – but SHOULD BE: part one

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Instant Messaging

If you’re like most Small Business owners or operators “of a certain age”, your view of Instant Messaging, if you have one, may be similar to one of the following statements:

  1. Instant Messaging is for kids
  2. I have an email account – what do I need messaging for?
  3. It’s too complicated
  4. I don’t have time for that nonsense
  5. What good could this messaging stuff do for my Small Business?


I’m sure most of you reading this can relate to at least one of the statements above; the last one asks the question is, in fact, the topic of today’s post.

Business, as I’ve mentioned in the previous series, is about relationships. Relationships, in turn, are about communication. I’m sure it’s no secret that email is an essential Small Business tool — if nothing else, it has allowed Small Businesses to save on postage and shipping costs once required to provide instant communication. Where it once took a special delivery or overnight package delivery (and still took at least a day) to ship critical documents to a business partner, vendor or client, we can now attach a PDF or word processor file to an email, and the relevant party receives it almost instantly.

Thus the “instant” in instant messaging — “IM“, as it is commonly known, combines the quickness of a phone conversation with the permanence of text. This second component is not to be overlooked, or taken lightly. How many times have you spoken with someone about a previous conversation, struggling to recall an important detail that neither of you can remember now, because you weren’t recording the call or taking notes?

IM-ing is nothing but taking notes, real-time, as you engage in conversation. Even with a stenographer on hand, you would still probably miss much, and usually only capture your side of the call. With IM, the transcription IS the conversation and, in addition, you have the benefit of:

  1. Including links to relevant websites
  2. Transferring electronic documents and digital images
  3. Copy-and-pasting information from emails and existing documents
  4. Creating a “paper trail” for reference and auditing purposes


In addition to these benefits, IM helps reduce the occurrence of  ”foot-in-mouth disease“: since you type your responses before you transmit them, you have a few seconds before you click “Send” to decide if you want to forward what may amount to an emotional outburst, rather than a well-chosen response.

Google and Yahoo! have standalone chat clients and clients built into their emails; Facebook and MySpace accounts have built-in chat as well. Blackberry, Android and iPhone smartphones all have apps that aggregate all your chat clients into a single location, allowing you to appear online to all your various chat partners.

In addition, there are stand-alone chat tools such as MeeboCitron and ICQ that do the same thing from your desktop. Being able to communicate with your Small Business clients, partners and vendors as quickly as a phone call, with the permanence of text, the ability to embed web links and transfer files may be a novel concept to you, but you must certainly appreciate the possibilities it presents.

Consider it from the perspective of business objectives, not just technology. The strategic business advantages should be quite obvious — if you’re getting the message.


Cornell Green is Your Solopreneur IT Expert, guest blogger for KikScore. Visit him at http://opensourcecio.blogspot.com

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Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Leave No Business Behind: Pearls of Wisdom for Every Startup & SmallBiz

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

A few years ago we were just a couple of entrepreneurs with an idea that we felt could solve a pressing issue for small businesses.  No one really knew us and in many ways no one should have known us then since we were just starting out. Thus we had little to no street credibility.

There is a funny thing that happens as time passes (besides me longing for those care-free college days where the toughest decision was Burger King, KFC or pizza for dinner tonight?).  As the clock ticks away you gain valuable experience and insight about life, growing a startup business, the team and people around you, the market, trends, dealing with your customers and partners and for us building a product that enables small businesses to show that they are trustworthy and credible.  The experience translates into knowledge.  Therefore we continually make it a priority for our team to share with the small business community the knowledge we have gained through ups and down, good times and challenges and those inevitable growing pains all businesses must endure.  It is our way of helping the startups, small businesses and the greater community. That is frankly one of the reasons we interview our own customers so they can provide their knowledge to all of us.

So we just wanted to take the time to highlight some of our knowledge sharing we have recently done. This has been through blogs posts on some really great small business focused sites.  We, at KikScore, were very excited to be invited to provide guest posts at two fabulous and prestigious SMB focused blogs.  First is Ivana Taylor’s awesome DIY Marketers Blog.  Ivana is such a force and inspiration for small businesses (though I have to ignore she is a Steelers fan! See earlier post on my feeling toward “those fans.”).  We were truly honored to be invited to contribute to her fast growing blog. Ivana by the way has some great things launching for 2012 so please be on the look out for them.  The second is the majorly popular and growing .CO Blog called Go.CO.  Again being specifically recruited and asked to contribute to this fantastic blog has been an honor.  So we keep working hard to contribute KikScore’s thought leadership on small businesses, operating a startup, setting, creating and managing strategy and also steps to effectively market your business.

Here are links to some of the posts if you would like to check them out:

1. Are you looking for ways to use videos in your startup or small business, if so check out  5 Types of Marketing Videos Every Small Business Should Use.

2. We each face the challenge of how do we build a brand with all of the “noise” out there, here are 4 Steps to Developing a Small Business Brand.

3. Wondering how to show website visitors you are trustworthy and credible check out The Online Trust Issue – Tips to Find the Right Trust Seal for Your Small Business.

4. As we get rolling into 2012, take a step back and review these 5 Steps to Make 2012 Your Best Year for Your Business By Learning From 2011.

5. If you are looking for a path to acquiring and maintaining loyal customers here are 6 Ways to Make Better Connections with Your Customers By Paying More Attention.

6. We are living in a LinkedIn world now so make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to use your connections with these  Steps to Use Your Professional Network to Grow Your Business.

7. A lot of small businesses and startups just want to stick their heads in the weeds and get things done, but every business needs to take a look at these Business Strategy Tips for Small Business Owners.

8. As we all look inward at our own startups and small businesses and how we manage our teams, we can use these 5 Skills & Traits Every Entrepreneur Should Nurture for Success.

9. With everything that is on our plates for our respective businesses here are some important Steps on How to Cut Distractions & Focus More On Achieving Your Business Goals.

Well we have had quite an active few months blogging on these great small business sites.  Many thanks to each of the sites for having us and we look forward to providing more guidance on a range of items in the future.

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