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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

A Down Under SmallBiz Story & Tips with One on the Way’s Kelly Tredwell

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Today we have the honor of sitting down with one of our new KikScore customers that signed up through our partnership with ShopifyOne on the Way’s owner, Kelly Tredwell, has a really cool and interesting business that is focused on serving the maternity wear segment.  Kelly’s entrepreneurial story takes us to Australia where her business is based, but she has customers all over the world! Beyond Kelly’s story about launching One on the Way in October 2010, she has some very good tips for small businesses and online store owners.

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

One on the Way is an online maternity clothing store, specialising on providing pregnant women with fashionable maternity clothes.

2. How did you get started selling online?

I bought the business in October 2010, however, it has been trading since 2007.  By the way you can find us on here on Twitter and Facebook.

3. What inspires you to grow your business?

Being a Mum myself and knowing how hard it was to find comfortable and affordable maternity clothes in the department stores, I am excited when I have been able to provide a customer with a dress or a top or something that she loves and will comfortably wear throughout pregnancy and beyond.  I also have a passion for fashion and have plans to release my own maternity clothing label at some stage down the track.

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

Maintain excellent customer service – always address orders or customer inquiries within a 24 hour turnaround time.  Be sure to research your advertising opportunities fully before committing financially.

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

For me personally it’s been about learning the industry, which was all new to me once I took over the store.  A new website has been on the cards since then too so I had been focused on what I wanted to achieve from this project and with it just going “live” on 1st January 2012 I am very pleased with the results of my hard work!

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

For small business I think a trend will be focused towards excellent quality products and in my business, I think enabling customers to have a more interactive approach to shopping for clothes online would be fantastic.  We’re working on it!

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

Audrey Hepburn – Graceful, Elegant, Chic and Sophisticated – like our clothing!

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

Competition – both here and abroad.  It’s everywhere, always a new online store opening up but that’s retail I suppose and I’m learning to not focus too much on what other stores/companies are doing.

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

For readers I think I would say that you don’t necessarily have to shop at the big, well known stores to get excellent products, quality service and fast turnaround times for purchases – small businesses are much more focused on achieving customer satisfaction so give us a go! For the small business community I would say keep going, keep putting in the hours and you’ll get there! Keep searching for the “difference that makes the difference” with your store.

Thanks to Kelly for sharing her story with the KikScore small business community.  Let us know if you have any questions for Kelly in our comment section below.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Reach Your Best Insights! A SmallBiz Interview with Pierre DeBois

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Today’s KikScore interview features Pierre DeBois, founder of Zimana, a web analytics service. In this rapidly changing e-commerce environment, Pierre is instrumental in helping other small business reach success through his analysis of their web analytics and his assistance and advice for marketing and social media strategies. I had a pleasure talking with Pierre and learned a lot, so I hope you all share similar benefits from reading what he had to say.

Tell us about Zimana and who you focus on serving?

Zimana is a web analytics consultancy service for small businesses that are at a unique stage of operations, having launched their businesses that rely on analytics data. These businesses require marketing optimization but do not have enough time determining their marketing effectiveness and aren’t ready to reach a larger analytics firm. I analyze their analytics data, ranging from basic keyword analysis to website traffic exploration, and then I help them develop an optimizing marketing strategy with projections. My clients encompass a wide array of small businesses, from mom and pop companies to businesses that built their firm around a particular platform with numerous employees.

What prompted you to start Zimana?

It was very accidental; my original idea was that I wanted to work with small businesses that needed help with their financial data.  I found out that a lot of the time these businesses tend to seek financial help, but it’s often too late to implement the advice. Therefore, that doesn’t strike me emotionally as a way to be helpful. So back in 2007, I was working for a government contractor firm in Huntsville, Alabama. The firm was determining if potential clients were reviewing products and services at the company website. I researched and discovered the measurement solution Google Analytics. I used my own resources and vacation schedule to undertake the training on my own. I then worked with the web developer to implement site content changes. The end result was successful and identified traffic flow through the site. It helped the firm place a value on their marketing budget. That was my first taste of web analytics though it wasn’t until 2.5 years ago when I launched Zimana. It’s been great and fun, though still very challenging especially due to the economic environment we are in. But the responses have been positive.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome it?

Living in New York is a catch-22; though it is the best place to meet and network with people and find good resources, it is economically straining to live here starting out.  It is also tough to follow up with customers in the actual city, as opposed to other locations. When living and working here, you learn how resilient you have to be and it forces you to be efficient. While the fast-paced, business environment makes it hard to initially make a living, it forces you to remain focused and more diligently.

As a hub for business, being centered in New York also allows me to track clients outside of New York; one of my best clients is SmallBizTrends.  Though based in Ohio, I conduct a lot of their monthly analysis. Moreover, being in NYC has helped me to create many business book reviews for the book segment and provide up-to-date analytics ideas that will be beneficial for their future.

How do you advertise yourself to get more clients?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

Yes. Social media has helped me tremendously, especially through Twitter as I have attracted some of my followers through my tweets. In addition, though accidental, my writing has had a huge influence on gaining more clients. What started as being just for fun doing book reviews evolved into writing analytics articles.   I’ve written articles for many different business sites, including AllBusiness.com, Pitney Bowes Smart Connections series, Business Agility, and AllAnalytics.com.  The posts have helped me a lot, expanding my online exposure and clientele base. A great challenge has been balancing my time for writing and managing other business functions. I had not expected the writing to take the direction it has.  In general, client referrals and social media marketing have been the most beneficial for me, with carefully placed and timed ads as bonus exposure. I am a big believer of using analytics to figure out which marketing outlets actually work, so that has helped me tremendously of where to focus most of my attention.

Have you had any trouble proving your business’ credibility and legitimacy to potential customers and website visitors?

Yes, there have been times and I think it’s in a very weird catch-22. In my business, the accountability issue is in the beginning; there are certifications that analytics practitioners must take and my qualifications definitely help. Though at the same time, there is a level of education that is required on part of the customer. The main customers believe that analytics is only for SEO and that’s not the entire case. So the challenge becomes that an analyst can be used for both online and offline marketing functions, though it depends on the organization, and therefore I must educate the customer enough and provide them with enough information that they will be comfortable doing business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but most times people are appreciative of what you try to share with even if they don’t quite have the budget.

In terms of being legitimate, what’s helped me is dealing with the right customers and not trying to deal with those that are uninterested. Only once or twice have I had to deal with a relationship that wasn’t right, but as a business owner, you have to hold out and fight for the ideal customer. Once you find the right one, then credibility will come into play. The use of social media can be utilized to reinforce that credibility; in order to effectively use social networks, you have to focus on keeping in touch with specific people and make the most of the contacts that you have made.

Based on your expertise, what two things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning online marketing?

First, there needs to be more of a coordinated effort between digital properties (websites, paid searches, social media) and how you market your business offline. There are now studies that are proving that when you gain a customer, that customer has researched your business online and then decided whether they will do business with you. Lots of small businesses do not coordinate their online and offline efforts well, but they need to think holistically about how they market themselves and then track that, which is where the analytics comes into play.

Second, based on my expertise, businesses need to begin thinking about more than search engine optimization. With the emergence of social media, there is more of a need for a combination between social media and search, plus some level of digital marketing, whether it is paid ads on Google or banner ads on Facebook. There needs to be an increased effort beyond search to touch upon the customers and engage them. Businesses are aware of Twitter and Facebook and other networking communities, though they often do not make a dedicated effort to effectively use them. Going beyond SEO, some type of paid search or ad, coupled with social media, will help businesses convert customers on the sidelines as an ongoing customer.

What trends do you see in the business world that you think are important for small businesses to take note of?

A rising trend in the small business world is the use of cloud services. I support these services whole heartedly because it makes it easier to manage a team, whether you’re an army of one or 20. They create value for the services you have and permit more efficient management. I’m finding that the businesses that struggle have not thought in terms of simplicity; For example, one business never thought of instituting PayPal on their site because they didn’t use credit in their operations.  That doesn’t mean that your customers don’t. Most businesses are too focused on their main product or service and therefore they do not think about all the underlying activities that would be essential. You don’t need to have a desktop to quickly search for information, so the challenge for small businesses is not only having access to up-to-date technology, but deploying it in the best and easiest manner for conducting your business.

Speaking from personal experience, the people who helped me the most were freelancers. One lady designed my website and also developed my hand-drawn logo into something very unique. Another was a photographer whose photos of me grabbed the right attention. I learned many different tips from many sources, ranging from billing ideas to learning to focus on the big picture as opposed to the little details. The biggest thing is to learn from others how to conduct business efficiently, so you are working to grow your business and “on” your business, not just “in” it.

How do the folks at Zimana let loose after a busy day working?

For me, I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory; I love it and think Sheldon is hilarious and the best television character in years. I watch a little Big Bang Theory and football, and I’m good! I still love automobiles like I did growing up so I read up on cars quite a bit. Pretty much besides that, I just try to keep up with my close friends and family. I haven’t had as much time to relax as I’d like to and for the most part, my business is my time. In addition, I talk a lot with other small business owners, which is both informative and also energizing.

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

Stay driven and keep your faith. If you are in any struggles, keep your faith and make sure every day spent on your business is actually productive; business owners spend too much time talking about their business, as opposed to working on it and helping it grow. Using your time efficiently is necessary, as well as networking and making sure that you are learning what needs to be learned to stay current with your business and surrounding technologies. At the end of the day, you need to be driven to put all of the pieces together and keep your business moving into the future. 

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Merry Thanksoween!: Eight Helpful Tips for Your Small Business and the Approaching Holiday Season

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

It’s almost November, and if you’re not already running around like a headless chicken preparing for the holiday season, you will be soon! Here’s some tips that’ll help get your small business get prepared.

  1. Create an attack plan: Have you started on that sales strategy yet for the holidays? Don’t wait too long! Your competition will start capturing your customers soon if you do not have a good plan!  According to this article from the fantastic Inc Magazine, your approach to the holidays should be planned for all year long.  So, if you haven’t started….what are you waiting for?
  2. Localize for your target audience: If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a small business owner. If you’re a small business owner, chances are that you have a presence within your own community.  So, are there any local traditions, events and meetings that you can take into account when making your attack plan?  For example, say your community has a tradition of caroling every year or a large holiday event. Then, you might try to create a branding plan around those events or offer services/products that cater to those events to help you get your name out.
  3. Build a base: Be involved in your community. If you’re good with tip 2, you can probably skip this one. If  you don’t have a presence, start building one… now.  Also ramp up the social interactions in Twitter and Facebook.  Now is the time to connect with customers and potential customers using these social tools.
  4. Consider sponsorships: Do something for the community. Perhaps sponsor a festival or some type of talk. Or if there’s a university nearby, get involved in some of their events.  This is a great way to give back to the community and also get your business name out there so you are top of mind when people are shopping.
  5. Stock up on “bestsellers”: Stock up on products your customer wants. Once the holiday season gets rolling, it’s all about the items.  Try and order extra too. That way, you might not run out if an item turns out to be more popular than expected.
  6. Be the best: This is the time when you get to interact with a lot of potential customers either on your website, through social media or in person in your store. Remember at all times make sure you, your business and your employees present a good image that way you give a reason for those customers to come back.
  7. Try new marketing tricks: This is a good time to experiment with offers, advertising and even some fun videos about your business and product/service. Who knows, one of the things you try may help you in the future and create some buzz around your small business.
  8. Be accommodating: This is a busy time for everyone. Try and be flexible about requests, questions and issues that arise with your customers. If they ordered something and there was a problem, try to be as accommodating as possible. You want these customers to come back.  The customer is always right….especially around the holidays!

Hopefully, these tips will help you. Good luck and have a great holiday season!

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Helping Small Online Businesses Demonstrate Trust & Credibility: KikScore and Shopify Partner Up

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

As you all probably know, we at KikScore are dedicated to helping small businesses alleviate consumer trust concerns. What you may not have known is that, for the second time, KikScore is going to attempt to take over Canada! That’s right; we are once again arming ourselves for the coming partnership between KikScore and Canadian company Shopify. Together, we’ll help to revolutionize the ecommerce industry and continue to fulfill our mission at KikScore of doing everything we can to help small business and entrepreneurs!

Shopify, an online retail platform that hosts over 1,600 stores, has decided to partner up with KikScore. This new alliance will give Shopify ecommerce stores access to KikScore’s Confidence Badge app. This app contains KikScore’s 4 unique tools that are packaged together into a one-of-a-kind trust seal: (1) a business-specific trust score to help small businesses, (2) a Confidence Badge to display at the bottom right of the business’ website, (3) a dynamic and informative merchant report card, and (4) an interactive feedback platform.

There are a number of reasons for our partnership with Shopify. Here are a few key data points:

1) More than 50% of internet users don’t shop online because of security concerns.

2) 85% of consumers worry that online retailers don’t do enough to combat online fraud.

3) Over 75% of all potential online purchases are abandoned.

There is even more data on this issue of the challenges of small business and demonstrating trust here in this recent post we did on the topic.

Our partnership with Shopify will allow small businesses to empower themselves like never before. “We are really excited about being able to offer our KikScore Trust Seal through our new Shopify application. Now all Shopify customers can easily add a KikScore seal to their site through this streamlined application” says KikScore VP, Product, Mike Collins. With our app, small businesses can easily and efficiently display their track records of reliability. It’s time to cut down on shopping cart abandonment and increase sales!

For more information on our awesome new partnership with Shopify, take a look here.  Also please make sure to check out the KikScore Confidence Badge and Trust Seal App in the Shopify App Store.

Thanks to everyone at KikScore and Shopify for helping to make this possible.  If any Shopify merchants would like more information about the App, please feel free to email us at support@kikscore.com. We would love to hear from you.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Making Businesses Bigger, Better, Faster: An Interview with Ed Carrick

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Today’s small business interview is with Ed Carrick, the founder of Performance Analysis. Carrick works as a consultant for small businesses, mainly manufacturing companies, helping them maximize their business productivity through lean management techniques. He stimulates efficiency among these companies and drives their success. We had the privilege of speaking to Ed and he talked about both his company and the small business community.

Tell us about Performance Analysis and who you focus on serving?

Performance Analysis is a very small consulting firm. Our main focus is on small manufacturers, many being local but we also have nationwide services that we reach out through the internet. The nature of our business is to help other businesses learn and implement various techniques for process improvement and increased productivity.  One of the major concepts we follow is lean management; the outcome is typically lower cost, greater output, and a greater quality product.

What prompted the launch of Performance Analysis?

Performance Analysis is an offspring from my past job at one of the universities here. I loved the consulting work, really saw the value in it, and saw what it can do for manufacturers in this country. The situation I was in did not work very well and I knew I had the ability of making it on my own, so it was just all about timing and gaining the confidence to eventually launch my own business.

What is a recent trend that you have been focusing on to increase your sales and business?

One of the big things that we have been focusing on quite a lot over the last 6 months is trying to develop and improve upon inbound marketing techniques. Sites such as HARO, Twitter, and Facebook are effective for getting your name out there to the public. I have also been posting a lot of articles on my website’s blog. We’re trying to drive people to our site and build our company as industry experts.

If you had 1 lesson that you learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what would it be?

Our business is not 100% online and in fact, many of my services include in-person consulting and engineering efforts. Our online courses are the part of the business that is bought and sold online, but I think that inbound marketing is a very important tool to look at and to bring to one’s business. It’s a relatively new term, but it’s the way online businesses are going these days. I would suggest that people trying to increase their internet sales should get involved with HubSpot, possibly the worldwide expert in inbound marketing and software techniques.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for small businesses in today’s society and economy and how do you focus on overcoming them?
One of the biggest challenges, as it was for us, is not appearing as a small mom-and-pop company that clients may not want to work with. It’s very important to portray your business as a professional, growing company in your field. A lot of people start off as solopreneurs like myself, but it is important to build onto that and grow as a company.

From your experience, what are the best ways to advertise yourself?

I haven’t really figured that one out yet, though I have found that blogging and participating in social media has been the most successful for us so far. We’ve also listed Performance Analysis with online business listing services, and some of the better ones have increased our SEO and brought our URLs higher up on Google searches. In general, it all boils down to using a combination of inbound marketing techniques.

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

The Fighter. The main character is actually representative of some of our clients. Like Mark Wahlberg’s character in the movie being a boxer who has sort of plateaued, many of our clients are manufacturers that have peaked and are not sure what to do to get better. They find inspiration on how to increase their sales and business by using our service and working with knowledgeable people.

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

One of the main things about start-ups is that if you are thinking about doing it and it’s really in your heart to do it, you can do it and you can’t doubt yourself. You must realize that once you get out there and jump into your own business, there are going to be some struggles but it is all going to be worth it and it’s not going to be as scary and difficult as you think it might be. Don’t keep waiting like I did and just follow your heart.

Thanks to Ed Carrick for a great interview and taking time out of his busy schedule. If anyone has any questions or comments for Ed, please leave them in the comments.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Vote KikScore for 2011 Small Business Influencer Award!

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Small Business Influencer Nominee

“A small business influencer is a person, company or other organization that has made a meaningful and lasting impact on the North American small business market.”

Here at KikScore, we are honored to have recently been nominated for the 2011 Small Business Influencer award in the “Corporations” category. Above is the definition behind the Small Business Trends and Small Biz Technology’s “Small Business Influencer” award and we are glad to have been one of the 520 businesses nominated, along with other influential people and businesses, such as David Nilssen and NEXTIVA. Their goal is to honor those companies that have made the most significant contributions and impacts to the North American small business market and we’re thrilled to have made the cut!

We’d like to extend a special thanks to our friends Anita Campbell and Ramon Ray who have done a great job, along with the help of their team and associates, of putting this entire competition together and supporting the small business community! We’d also like to thank Anita for swinging by last week and participating in the #SmallBizChat (In case you missed the chat, you can view our recap presentation on How to Make Your Business Look Credible and Trustworthy Online). And  thanks to Ramon for the great write up on Business Insider that he did about KikScore last month. This competition is a great way to promote small businesses and reward those who are the most influential towards them.

The awards recognize the top 100 influencers,  being decided 40% by community votes and 60% judge votes. Voting by the community is currently underway and ends on August 9th, so we hope you can vote for us by clicking here or the icon below! The top 100 receive the recognition that comes with being named a winner, including general publicity and the right to display Winners insignias on books, websites, brochures, etc. You can vote once per nominee per 24 hours so don’t hesitate to check back and vote everyday!

Small Business Influencer Vote

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part II

Friday, June 17th, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I highlighted the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. If you missed Part I, click here.

In Part II, I will present five of the most important challenges faced by these small businesses that our interviewees shared with us. These issues are extremely pertinent to all small businesses and it is vital for small businesses to overcome these challenges in order to succeed.

Here we go, the five most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs and their small businesses:

5. Keeping Up with New Technologies

“As the cost of running business with a physical store or office is comparatively high due to the monthly rental fee as well as the consumption of electricity and the hiring of manpower, more and more businesses like us tend to create their presence on the Internet. Without a significant competitive advantage, a retailer will be forced to raise a white flag in this cruel and heartless battlefield.” – Margaret Chan, founder of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery

In today’s world, technology is rapidly changing and businesses must keep up with latest innovations in order to stay modern and be successful. Companies have to start utilizing the internet, for both its e-commerce capability as well as a marketing and advertising tool. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are essential to small businesses, as millions of users check and use their personal accounts on those websites multiple times each day.

4. Lacking Adaptability

“While it is important to hold on to your vision, it should never be at the expense of building a sustainable business model. Your business plan whether it is one page or fifty, should be an evolving document that scales to put you in the best possible position to serve your clients and generate revenue.” – Tai Goodwin, founder of Launch While Working

Another challenge entrepreneurs also face is the ineptitude to alter or adjust your business plan. The business world is full of surprises and unexpected circumstances.  In order to run a successful company, businesses must be flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment around them.

3. Fear of Failure

“Another challenge I had was more of a mental one, which was the fear of ‘Can I start my own business?’ There are so many company decisions that we take for granted until we have to make them ourselves.” – Gregg Hand, founder and owner of Hand Law Offices

Two weeks ago I mentioned how the number one piece of advice for having success as a small business is keeping the long-term goal in perspective and never giving up or losing hope. Therefore, one of the challenges faced with starting a small business is dealing with the fear of failure. You cannot be afraid that you’re going to fail and act hesitantly because then you will fail; you must be confident with all of your decisions and maintain the passion with which you started your business. Owen Wilson’s character in Wedding Crashers puts it best when talking to his partner, “Your goddamn negativity! I don’t need it! I’m an idea man. I thrive on enthusiasm. Don’t take the wind out of my sails. I need you.”

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2. Finding Customers

1. … and then Gaining their Trust

As a small business I believe our biggest challenge is gaining trust in a potential new customer.  If a shopper sees a Macys logo or a Best Buy logo they are not going to question is this a secure company/site.  As a brand that is growing, we are not mainstream and are years away from becoming a staple in the beauty industry.  We overcome that challenge by gaining one new customer at a time.  Proving to that customer we are legitimate business, that is not going to sell their name to any third parties, is going to ship their order, their most private and intimate information is in a very secure area, and if there is any problems whatsoever with their order we will do everything we can to correct it and make it right.” – Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store

In order to be successful, you must generate revenue from customers and unless you develop a brand-new product or have a revolutionary idea, you are most likely going to enter into an industry that already has a fair share of other competitors. There lies the biggest challenge of small businesses: finding customers and then keeping them. Finding customers as a small business relies on effective networking and marketing, and especially positive word of mouth. Whether it is online or in newspapers, spreading your name and attracting publicity is a must for businesses to find customers. In addition, promoting your credibility and trustworthiness is a necessity to ensure that once you land a customer, he or she will return.

This is the service that we here at Kikscore provide for online businesses. We show your potential customers that you can be trusted, allowing shoppers to review your record of reliability and creditworthiness through the Kikscore Trust Seal and the KikReport. After overcoming all these obstacles, you’ll be “so money”. More information regarding Kikscore and its trust seal can be found at http://www.kikscore.com/more.html and http://www.kikscore.com/confidence_badge.html respectively.

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KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part I

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I will highlight the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. Many of these innovative and impressive business owners shared related advice and acknowledged similar trends in the e-commerce field. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 Things You Should Do When Starting a Small Business:

5. Keep your website simple and easy to navigate

– “My advice to people about an online presence is to keep it simple and clean and VERY easy to navigate AND to have a Content Management System (CMS) so you can update your site yourself.” (Whitney Zimet, owner of I Am The Maven)

– “Spend the money to get a good website.  We went with a woman who did “websites for small businesses” but she really wasn’t experienced in sites with a retail/shopping cart component.  So, the site looked okay on the surface, but I later learned that she had used very amateur programming on the back end, making it enormously difficult for another web programmer to make changes.  This also limited our SEO.” (Kimberley Stewart from OnBoard Outfitters)

4. Have a flexible business model, being able to adjust quickly to a changing environment

– “Never think what you’re doing today is what you’ll be doing 10 years from today. Markets change and products evolve. Learn to adapt quickly.” (Michael Alter, President of SurePayroll)

– “Be willing to change.  Always look at your business in a new way.” (Rick Shoop, owner of Oregon Seafoods)

3. Utilize social media outlets

-“Another trend is tapping into more social media platforms and applications.  Combining sites such as Facebook with applications developed by Wildfire you are very quickly able to promote coupons, contests, and/or sweepstakes.” (Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store)

– “Take full advantage of all social network and free Internet advertising. 50% of our sales come from social networking sites, the chain reaction you can achieve from them is priceless.” (S.J. Trotter, owner of www.exclusiveclothingretail.com)

2. Establish a safe and secure online presence

– “Apart from that, customer’s satisfaction is also of utmost importance to online business. Exceptional customer service results in greater customer retention, which in turn results in higher profitability. We therefore strongly believe that customer loyalty is one of the most crucial and major contributors to sustainable profit growth. Over 60% of our profits are from customers who came back and made their purchases more than once within the 3-month period.” (Margaret Chan, owner of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery)

– “In 2010, much of our energy will be focused on improving the website and making sure our customers have confidence in shopping with us. KikScore is a great tool that helps us demonstrate that trust online.” (Madalyn Duerr, owner of Tufted Topper)

1. Keep the long-term goal in perspective and never give up

– “Most importantly: Don’t let anyone tell you no. You are your own best advocate and no one is going to do the work for you. Don’t let obstacles prevent your idea from ever being tested – you have to go out and do it.” (Andrew Shelton from Trackpack Coolers)

– “In my opinion the most important ingredient in a business’s success is the passion of the person or people running it.” (Mark Sarpa, CEO of Frecklebox)

– “Stay far from timid, Only make moves when your heart’s in it, And live the phrase ‘sky’s the limit'” (The Notorious B.I.G.)

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Shocking Results in Recent OTA Findings: Should YOU Feel Safe on the Internet?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As cybercriminals become more advanced and efficient, all businesses must recognize and prepare for the imminent threats of online hackers. The issue of cyber-attacks has made its way to the Senate, debating the amount of power the president should have in dealing with cybercrimes (Full story here).

Similarly, in accordance with the looming threat of online fraud and cybercrime, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) released their annual Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard two weeks ago, revealing the many insecurities of the internet. Their findings were very surprising, making me question my privacy and safety on the internet. Two of the most shocking discoveries include:

  • Only 26% of the top websites and government agencies evaluated by the OTA were recognized for their adoption of the best, most efficient technologies to help protect users’ privacy and identity. This means that 74% of the top websites used by millions of people have not implemented safe measures that protect against malicious emails and rogue websites. Organizations that made the Honor Roll enacted email authentication processes, Extended Validation SSL Certificates, and testing for malware and known site vulnerabilities. More than 500 million emails originated from the organizations lacking efficient online security measures. These facts demonstrate that we are not protected on the majority of sites we visit and are members of, and therefore we must consider reevaluating websites before giving them any of our personal information.
  • Social media, e-commerce, and financial services ranked higher in securing their sites than government agencies.  About 27% of the FDIC 100 and 24% of the Fortune 500 qualified for the Honor Roll, though only 12% of government agencies made the list. It doesn’t make me feel particularly safe that government agencies’ websites are some of the most vulnerable to cybercrime attacks. The government and its various agencies should be the ones protecting us, enacting the proper online security protocols and trying to set an example, not being most susceptible to malware.

This report is extremely important for both e-commerce shoppers and small businesses. Online shoppers must realize the dangers of registering on sites that may be unsafe and prone to cyber-attacks and abuse. Therefore, they will seek out websites that have the proper preventative online security measures, and will most likely buy from the large, reputable online websites. This will in turn hurt small businesses that lack a reputation in online safety, and are trying to flourish in e-commerce.  This makes it even more important that for small businesses to succeed that they clearly demonstrate to the public their record of trustworthiness and reliability so potential customers are ensured that the small business they’re dealing with can be trusted.

The OTA’s full 2011 Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard can be found here: https://otalliance.org/news/releases/2011scorecard.html.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Is this a Bubble or a Buble?

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Every day, I check TechCrunch.  It’s sort of a must-do type of thing.  First, you have to do it to see what the latest trends are for start-ups and funding.  Secondly, if you’re involved in a tech start-up and you don’t read TechCrunch, well, you’re seen as a bit of poseur.  And it’s not one of those things where by not doing it you seem even cooler….like not owning a TV.  For some reason, if you don’t own a TV. people think you’re really smart.  But is that really that smart?  T.V. and the internet are the main sources of news and critical information.  It’s like going back thousands of years and saying “I don’t fire” and expecting people to really respect you.

Ok.  Back to my original thought.  I’m reading TechCrunch and in the last 6 months, at least once a week, there is news of a small startup getting large funding or being acquired by a larger strategic player.  For those of us old enough to remember the late 90’s (and who could forget Ace of Base), it’s getting a little scary because it’s feeling like a bubble.  Irrational exuberance.  High Valuations.  People are losing their F&^%$#*!  Minds. 

But is this latest round of investment and acquisition really a bubble?  Or is it logically investing.  I mean, where else should you put your money?  Real Estate?  Corporate Debt?  Blue-Chip Stocks (with 4% growth).  Recent technology investments are based on profitable companies or scalable services that a larger player would rather buy than build.

I guess what I’m saying is this seems more like  Buble than a Bubble.  By that I mean a pitch-perfect time for technology.  Also, I just love referencing Michael Buble.

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