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Posts Tagged ‘Inc. Magazine’

News Roundup: Inc. Magazine & SmallBiz Technology Talking About KikScore

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We just wanted to send a special shout out to our friends at one of the best magazines around, Inc Magazine (see our previous post on our love for Inc. Magazine), and Ramon Ray's SmallBiz Technology Blog.  Over the last few weeks, both of these great websites not only mentioned KikScore but used us as important data points for both How to Build a Website that Inspires Trust and also Managing Your Online Reputation and Taking Steps to Protect it.

The Inc. Magazine post discusses the important concept of making sure your business website conveys trust and credibility.  If you remember, we actually were the guest host for #SmallBizChat on that very topic last year so feel free to check out our presentation and tips that was rated one of the top 10 tweetchats of all of 2011. Thanks to Jon Gelberg for mentioning us in the article.  We really appreciate it.

The SmallBiz Technology article discusses the increasingly important issue of how do businesses manage their reputation in a comprehensive way from what is said on third party sites and then taking the best reputational information and making sure that makes it onto the small business' website.  Just like so many of the great articles on Ramon Ray's blog, the article discusses how there is a real need for a 360 degree solution for small businesses so they can collect and use reputational information from across the internet (Yelp, Google feedback, Facebook posts, Tweets etc) to get more business from their websites.  We are really honored to be mentioned as a product that helps deliver part of that 360 degree reputation management solution to small businesses.

Thanks to both of these great websites for covering and discussing KikScore.

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Posts Tagged ‘Inc. Magazine’

5 Steps to Nail Next Year for Your Business By Learning from This Year

Monday, December 6th, 2010

It is mid-December and the year is almost over.  And what a year it has been.  Tough economic times has made it hard for many businesses to grow and build momentum.  So as we round the end of the calendar year and are only days away from January we can do two things for our business planning for next year: You can blindly go into January and beyond trying to create a brand new strategic and marketing plan or you can take a look back at the wealth of information and data from your business this past year and try to plan your strategy for next year based on the lessons learned from this year.

Our recommendation, based on what we are doing ourselves, is look closely at your strategy, tactics, execution and plans for this year as you plan for next year.  That will help put you in a better position for success next year by avoiding the tactics that did not work and instead building on what did work.  Here is how we suggest you do it:

1. Take a complete inventory of what worked and what did not over the last 12 months

This one may take some time, but it will be time well spent.  As you make your plans for next year, take a morning (or even longer) to conduct a detailed analysis of what worked for your business or startup this year and what did not.  Your analysis should not stop there.  Take the additional steps to think about did the items that failed fail because of bad execution or they just were not really good tactics in the first place.  If it was bad execution, you should think about whether those tactics that failed could be better executed and then become successful.  Also for the items that did work, consider whether if you put more energy and focus on those items, could you build on them next year?

Bottom line: Make sure next year’s plans eliminate tactics and strategies that failed this year and instead focus next year on building on specifically what did work.

2. What are 3 Trends in your business that you saw this year?

Look back on the year.  What are 3 trends that you saw in your business?  They could be marketing trends, operating trends or even product trends.  I like the number 3 because it is simple and not too overwhelming of a number for people to focus on.  So when you are planning for next year, take the time to make sure that whatever those trends may be in your business that you have them woven into your strategic, marketing and operating plans.  That will help ensure that you do not get left behind.

Bottom line: All businesses should take the time to step back from their company and track and plan for the trends that are impacting their business and industry.

3. What 3 major areas of  feedback/comments did you receive from your customers over the year?

Businesses get a lot of feedback from customers over the course of a year.  The key to any business is making sure that they are keeping their customers happy and serving their needs.  Accordingly, any business needs to pay attention to the major customer issues and feedback that are repeatedly being seen.  But paying attention to these areas is only half the battle.  Your business should track these 3 major areas and ensure that your plans and strategies incorporate addressing and acting on customer feedback.  Here is an excellent article from our one of our favorite entrepreneur magazines, Inc., on using customer feedback for your strategic plans.

Bottom line: Any planning for next year should take into account your customer’s feedback and comments that you have received this year.  That way you will know that your customers’ concerns are being addressed.

4. What is one area of you business you devoted more time to that could have yielded larger growth?

Every business faces this concern, but the trick is to acknowledge the issue.  We all think about areas of our business that we wish we could spend more time on, but we just cannot.  Take the time to really identify these areas and make of list of them.  Then determine if you can outsource any of these areas to freelancers, interns or other professional service providers. Here is a great post from Startup Nation on small business outsourcing.

Bottom line: For these areas of the business where you wish you had more horsepower, next year outsource those areas and see if you can build off the work from experts that will help you focus more attention on your core business.

5. What is two items that you absolutely need to get accomplished by both July 31 and Dec 31 of next year

This is a business planning tip for next year.  Frankly, it may be something we should all do yearly in our business.  When we set out our annual goals we should take the time to go one step further.  That step is to identify two “must dos” for the coming year.  That is a must have accomplishment for the middle of the year (July 31) and then a must have accomplishment by the end of the year (Dec 31).  This will help you focus on two core items for your business that you tie to two time deadlines.  That way at the end of each year you should be able to look back and know that two main areas of your business have seen key goals being met.

Bottom line: Creating a list of goals and targets for your business each year is necessary to track progress.  But having two must have goals set out at the middle and end of the year will help you focus even more to move your business forward.

So in the remaining part of this month, use these steps as you build, develop and fine tune your strategic and marketing plans for next year.  Building these plans on your lessons learned from this year should help you set your business or startup for more success in the coming year.

Let us know how you are approaching strategy and business planning for next year.

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Posts Tagged ‘Inc. Magazine’

Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur & Store Owner Brian Esposito’s Tips on Growing an Online Business

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We came across Brian Esposito, the CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store,  last week and immediately knew we had to feature his great store on the KikScore blog.  Brian’s energy and passionate entrepreneurial spirit even comes across in his emails that he sends out.  We figured that the small business and startup community just needs to hear from Brian as he has so much to teach all of us.  Do not take our word for it by the way, his company was awarded by our favorite magazine Inc. the very prestigious honor of being listed as an Inc. 5000 company.  We are excited and honored here to not only have Brian share his thoughts with us here but also be one of our KikScore customers!

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

AVEYOU is Your Unique Beauty Boutique.  We specialize in carrying some of the most exclusive beauty and personal care products in the industry.  Our entire concept is being all about you!  Our loyal online and in-store customers.  We focus on servicing beauty buffs around the globe.  With our extremely friendly domestic and international flat rate shipping rates we are able to put orders into our customers hands very quickly.  99.9% of all orders are processed and shipped the same day and are packed in our eco-friendly reusable AVEYOU personal shopping bag.  We are very big on personal experiences and sometimes that is very hard to accomplish with online shoppers.  Because of that we try as hard as possible to achieve that result when a shopper opens their AVEYOU box.  The box is carefully wrapped and all items are placed in the appropriate size AVEYOU Eco Friendly Reusable Shopping Bag.  Also included in that bag are samples, promotional items, coupons or special discounts on future orders, and of course the correct item(s) ordered by our shopper.    AVEYOU currently has one of the highest positively ranked feedback (check out the comments on Amazon!) in the beauty and personal care industry.  Our product selection is very important to our brand and image.  Because we specialize in very exclusive products, we try not to carry items that can be found at drug stores, discount stores, or supermarkets.  Because we do not discount or jeopardize the integrity of our brands, manufactures and vendors are at a point in our growth cycle where they want to be part of our company and be placed on our shelves, or web site.
2. How did you get your started selling online?

In 2002 we re-vamped our store and philosophy.  We created a new brand known as Avenue You.  The store was placed in Deal, NJ.  A very prominent and affluent area.  As the store opened in April sales were incredibly strong and stayed that way all summer long.  Come September we ran into a dilemma, as most of the town was filled with summer or vacation homes for those residents.  We needed a way to reach these customers all year round in order to survive.  It was then when I created and developed AVEYOU.com.  The site was mainly created to keep in touch with our local shoppers who were back to their winter homes for the season.  However because of the brands we carried any my passion for marketing and branding, customers from all over the world quickly began ordering at AVEYOU.com.  I knew we had something special and needed to be focused on and enhanced.  Because of how quickly we process and ship orders, people began talking and to this day word of mouth has been our best marketing tool.

3. What inspires you to grow the AveYou business?

Pride.  Whatever I put my name on I do all I can to ensure it doesn’t fail.  As a family owned and operated business you create a sense of home for the company and our employees.  As we began to grow and hire great employees, they also became part of our family.  We are at a point where we have created an incredible team of beauty consultants who each have so many different talents and strengths.  I have, and will continue, to do all I can to ensure each and every one of them will always have a job/home at AVEYOU.

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

The first would be to be honest.  This was my number one asset and at some times biggest downfall when creating AVEYOU.com.  The beauty industry is still filled and mostly run by its originators.  These people are threatened and do not understand the internet.  When I would go after a line I would have to spend hours and sometimes even days convincing them that the internet is a great place to be and we are not a company that would never jeopardize the integrity of your brand by discounting, diverting, or by not giving it the respect and dignity it deserves.  I am not sure about other industries, but I can still say to this day that we run into problems with manufactures not wanting their brands to be sold online.  Every vendor or manufacturer we work with, fully understands our business model and are kept 100% in the light as to what we do and where we sell.  The 2nd lesson I have learned is be fully compliant with every aspect of an online presence.  Of them I strongly suggest having a privacy policy that is backed up by a firm or organization, run your emails in an ethical and CAN-SPAM compliant manner, and make sure your site is fully PCI compliant with SSL security to not only protect yourself, but to also protect your customers who are choosing you over the thousands of other potential sellers.

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

While we continue to gain market share with our online presence, we are looking to once again rebrand and re-energize our store location.  We are working on a brand new prototype store that will offer more of a studio feel where our shoppers can come in, try products, have makeup, mini-facials, and nails done.  The personal experience is crucial for our brand and image.  We want our customers to feel special and of course feel beautiful.  Having more types of fun energy filled services that can be done in our boutiques will definitely create a stronger bond between our customers and AVEYOU.  Once the new prototype boutique is finalized we are looking to launch more locations in areas similar to Deal, NJ

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

A trend we are seeing is to be careful where dollars are being spent.  Using money wiser and in areas that have a successful ROI is overshadowing the riskier areas.  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.

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

I am sure this has been used a lot in many situations but it would have to be the movie Rudy and we would be Rudy.  Every day we are met with opportunities, but also challenges.  The challenges come in many shapes and sizes.  The fortunate thing to date is that we have been able to overcome those challenges and survive.  Even through the worst of economical times our company was able to grow and become part of Inc. 500|5000 2010 list of fastest growing private companies in America.

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

Aishwarya Rai as she is often cited by the media as the most beautiful woman in the world.  She would make a tremendous spokesperson for AVEYOU Beauty Boutique.  Having fans and admirers all over the world and with no negative news she would be exactly the type of woman we would want relaying our brands messages and image.

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

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.

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

I know it has been a tough few years, but if you have the capabilities and mental strength do not give up.  If you strongly believe in what you are creating or have developed stand behind it 100%.  Don’t let outside influences discourage your dreams or interfere with your visions.  All you really have in this world is your beliefs.  Take that vision, access all the tools you need, build the necessary team, and then make It happen.

Thanks Brian for sharing your thoughts.

Please let us know your thoughts on this interview with Brian Esposito.

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