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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

The Startup Team and Life Changing events

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

When your team is lean and everyone is wearing multiple hats, it causes quite the glitch in everyday functions when one (or multiple) team member experiences a life changing event. How do you prepare for it? There are some situations that are emergency impact that cannot be prepared for, but others can.

Since the inception of KikScore there have been a mixture of life changing events across the team…
– 3 new births across different team members (all first time parents),
– spousal job changes
– infants becoming toddlers
– loss of pets (and additions)
– demanding day job impacts
– and an upcoming one for me – moving cross-country to ‘the big city’ for an amazing new day job opportunity.

So how does a small night/weekend entrepreneurial company stay focused?

It is very easy for the impacted member to get caught up in the life event and KikScore takes a back seat.  While not the intention, human nature makes us selfish.

We can’t let this happen as the business would in turn suffer.  As a small team, we need to regroup and delegate items out to others  during the transition time, arming the business with communication channels to stick together and react to customer needs.

Some other tips that can prove useful are to continue to conduct weekly meetings to re-establish expectations. The team member going through the transition (me soon) should be able to commit to a once/week discussions to ensure they stay informed and can lend a hand as their life calms down and they rediscover their head.

How has your small business coped with  life changing events?  Please share your story with KikScore.

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Is a Trained Entrepreneur More Likely to be Successful in Small Business?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

When KikScore came to be, the team was comprised of members from a variety of backgrounds and influence.  We banded together and outlined the best approach across our experience to build the business — which is still fluid and we continue to review our progress and make changes, you have to!

We had many say ‘what do you know about starting a business’?  We answered, the practicality of having those lessons learned from previous experience is critical in making a new business a success.  And of course we all have some entrepreneurial zest within us.

There are always those out there thinking that the quick fix money maker opportunity is business for yourself — think again my friend, it takes work, lots of work and perseverance.

It amazes and intrigues me that there are actually college programs geared at entrepreneurship.  Are they really more successful in the long run?    I had a good friend who went into one of these programs a few years ago… unfortunately I’ve lost touch with him, but last I’d heard, he was working for a big business.

Do you know anybody who has taken these classes and has a billion dollar business today?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

The Magic of Metrics

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

As a small business grows and not only builds the customer base but also expands the solution offerings, a metrics tracking method should be developed. There are a wealth of options of different metrics to track across any business. The hype for small companies seem to focus on SEO and website traffic metrics, but there are other business and process facing metrics that can greatly help a small business grow and succeed.

This article promotesmetrics are magic.  Key areas that can keep all team members in-check are to outline metrics surrounding milestones with dates and deadlines, and tracking of metrics like calls, presentations, programming modules, etc.

Depending up on the size and complexity of your business, utilizing a tool set to track and report on metrics could be very useful.  This provides the business leaders an avenue in which to review and evaluate trends and to determine if new solutions are working as expected and increasing cash flow.

Metrics help to outline the quality and measurement of success for any given business, product or process.  As a small business owner, factoring quality into daily activities helps to keep the entire team focused on top quality solutions and practices

What defines a quality metric and tips how to determine where your solution measures up?  The key is to create a metrics roadmap early in your business cycle so that you can formulate processes and checkpoints throughout that adhere to it.

The metrics you track will change over time, as your business expands (or shrinks).  You must also be diligent in that tracking process and share out not only the positive metrics, but the negative ones as well with your entire team. The only way to improve upon your business processes and ensure quality is to define the metrics and make appropriate changes to continue to improve them.  And allow your business to evolve in a positive light by continuously reviewing the metrics and creating new benchmarks that define your business success.

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Is Google Good or Evil?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I was reading this article today on Gizmodo about how a “Vision document” recently released to the public was created by Google 2 years ago and makes reference to the fact that Google was considering selling Internet surfing and search data from visitors to their site.

This would be a big deal for a few reasons if it is true because Google has claimed for years that they would never user their customer’s personal data for “evil” reasons like making billions of dollars.  This would also be big news because there are other companies like BlueKai and Exelate that currently offer similar “tracking services” for help companies determine what the best keywords are to use in their ads to get the most clicks.  Needless to say, if Google decided tomorrow that they were going to be in this business, these companies would instantly be put out of business and Google would be the leader in this area.

I think that this would also be big news for consumers and merchants because it just might change the way people think about and/or use Google.  If you knew that you were going to get a bunch of emails or targeted ads based on the words you searched on in Google I think you might actually think a little a more before you made that search or before you automatically typed “Google” into your web browser.  This may very well end up being the reason that Google also never does become “evil” and start selling this data because unless their competitors start to do the same, consumers may start moving to Bing or Yahoo if they feel like Google is “selling them out” or carelessly sharing their previous search data.

Would you consider stopping to use Google if they started sharing your searches with other companies for money?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Build Trust By Listening and Sharing

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I focused on the need for valuable and easy to use feedback tools for your customers.  While continuing to research this topic and build best practices for KikScore, a colleague shared this great article with me on How to Make the Most of Customer Feedback.  As a small company, I realized we tend to get caught up in task items of the release schedule we’ve set forth and lose sight of the customer connection – until an issue arises and you are placed in emergency mode.

This article touches well on the subject of empowering customer-facing employees.    As you continue to expand your solution offerings and grow your customer base, this becomes a critical area of focus.  And it’s not just sales personnel, this includes customer support and even marketing resources who are interfacing with customers on a regular basis.  By giving your employees the right tools to not only listen to customer input but also to respond and raise awareness throughout the rest of the organization.  This also goes to the level of communicating in a transparent manner to your customers on what is coming next from your company.  This helps to promote trust between company and customer and shows how your company listens and reacts.

The aspect of close the loop with those giving feedback empowers your customers to then not only see how you take their opinions to heart but also how your company strives to prioritize and stay one step ahead.  Simple steps to promote customer loyalty and make your business a success.

What feedback processes do you have in place and how does your business track and prioritize them?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Twitter-bay-zon…Twitter, eBay and Amazon Combined into One App!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I was reading this TechCrunch article today about how Amazon just incorporated a Facebook tab/section into their website so that customers can supply their Facebook account information and then automatically see what their friends’ wish lists are or what CD their friends just purchased so they can buy it too.  I thought that this development was interesting because it is basically the largest eCommerce company integrating with the largest Social Networking company in this way and it could mark the beginning of a new trend.

What would be some more interesting eCommerce/Social Networking “mash-ups” that we could dream up here?  Another interesting match-up that I thought of in this area was the combination of Twitter and eBay.  I think that it would be very useful for people that are trying to sell a product in an auction on eBay to be able to automatically broadcast this auction over Twitter real-time as bids are being made.  To get a little crazier here we could even add an Amazon integration into the mix where users could see live streaming tweets on an Amazon product page of the same item being sold on eBay!  Let’s call it “Twitter-Bay-Zon”!

On second thought, I am guessing that Amazon wouldn’t be too happy about this partnership I just proposed here as it would directly interfere with the current used-item marketplace that they already have, but I think you are catching my drift here.  Are we about to see a major melding of the eCommerce and Social Networking companies online?  I think that it only makes sense and would lead to increased sales, advertising, and users for everyone involved…so why not?

Here are a couple more eCommerce/Social Networking mash-ups that I just thought of that would be interesting: MySpace & Amazon and YouTube & NetFlix. What are some other partnerships like this that you see forming in the next 5 years?  What company could you see your business partnering with to get an advantage over your competition in the same way?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Top 5 Android Applications for Small Businesses

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

 

I have had the Sprint HTC EVO 4G for a little over a month now and recommend the 5 Android operating system applications below for small businesses to use on any Android phone.

Exchange by Touchdown- This application integrates with the desktop version of Microsoft Exchange and automatically syncs your email, calendar, contacts, and tasks wirelessly with minimal setup. I really like this application because it cleanly separates my work and personal email and is works just like I am sitting at my work computer.  This is actually the only application on this list that isn’t free and does cost $20 per license after a 30-day free trial.

Jorte- This is a calendar and “to do” list application that I think works much better than the calendar tool that came with my Android phone.  This application seamlessly integrates with multiple Google calendars and also gives you over 10 different widgets to add to your homepage in order to better access your events and tasks.

Google Voice- Google created the Android operating system so it would make sense that they have some of the best applications for the platform and the Google Voice app is no exception.  This application essentially replaces your default carrier-provided voicemail while adding a bunch of great features.  You can create custom voicemail messages for any of your contacts, get voicemail messages transcribed and texted and/or emailed to you, visual voicemail, and also can be used to place extremely cheap international calls all over the world.

BuzzBox- This application can be configured to provide any RSS feed directly to your phone and comes pre-loaded with hundreds of the most popular feeds for you to choose from in many different categories.  This application also comes with a handy widget for automatic updates and quick viewing.

Fring – This application integrates with Skype (and many other IM/chat applications) to bring video conferencing to your mobile phone for free.  I actually prefer this application to the included (and highly promoted) Qik application on the HTC EVO because it is easier to use and has less latency.  I would recommend using the video chat feature while connected to 4g or wi-fi but it works great and automatically imports your existing Skype contacts for easy calling.

What is your favorite Android application and how much more do you like Android over the iPhone 4?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Don't quit on me!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

When starting a small business, everyone wears multiple hats and jumps in to assist where needed.  As your business grows, you work to hire people to fill specific roles so that:

1) the founders can focus on more strategic direction

2) to drive the business forward

3) effectively execute on key initiatives.

You proudly get your entire team staffed up and people are working hard in their roles and the business grows exponentially – everything is on the up and up, customers are fascinated with your product line and you have a backlog of requests to implement… and then, somebody quits.

So this perfect (well at least manageable) entourage you have created to implement your product roadmap now comes to a screeching halt, or at least imposes a very large mountain to navigate around. To keep business moving, you must revert back to wearing multiple hats, which in turn impacts growth and forces you to re-prioritize efforts, at least until you can back fill.

In larger companies, the back fill process can be lengthy and daunting.  What tends to happen is until the position is refilled, the tasks of the resigning employee are dumped on other employees… it becomes a juggling process to continue forward momentum.

While you cannot 100% prohibit turnover from happening, you can implement processes to ensure smooth transition in the event and also back fill (or redistribute effectively) so that you don’t end up pushing further resources out the door from overload.  People leave for a variety of reasons, but when building a team for a small business and growing your company, retention can be critical.  Then again, sometimes, that resignation is music to your ears

How do you motivate your team to stand by you? What transition plans do you have in place in the event of a mutiny?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Ahoy, Matey! Pirates and Business

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

If you open your eyes and mind, it’s amazing where you can find business lessons in everyday life.  The book I am reading, Michael Crichton’s final novel: Pirate Latitudes takes the concept of war from the pirate’s view.  There are a good number of similarities to small business and overtaking your competition to be learned from it.  To come up with a new business idea, it doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘new’ but ‘better’ is critical to success.

Here’s some lessons that the privateers (often mistaken for pirates) of long ago still apply…

Build a good team – When Captain Hunter came up with his risky idea of attempting capture of a Spanish treasure ship in a far off, dangerous and assumed well protected island, he needed a strong team to accomplish the quest. Building the right team for business success can be tricky, but you can’t do it alone.   Delegate responsibilities that foster team member’s strengths.

Create a more comprehensive solution – After overtaking the treasure ship, the privateers are stalked by a Spanish warship that is more heavily armed with both men and weaponry. The weakened privateers come up with a risky yet tactical solution to attempt to take down the larger ship. Creativity and doing something different with your current resources is a strong business sense. KikScore wasn’t the first trust seal out there, but it is different and more comprehensive than the competition

Overtake the competition – I’m not finished reading Pirate Latitudes yet, so I’m only theorizing here… but based upon the creativity noted above and their zeal to secure the stolen treasure, I have confidence the privateers will conquer the larger warship and bring home the gold.  Obviously in business, war is not the best option, yet clever advertising and getting your business message out there can overtake the competition.   A strong and consistent approach helps.

Pirates and privateers are mysterious, resourceful and have a rather catchy form of conversation.

How is your business pirating through the marketplace?

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Tips’

Are You Smarter Than a Smart Grid?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I was reading this article in the Denver Post today when I realized that the next large source of consumer behavior-related data may not be Facebook or any other social networking site…heck, it might not even be sourced directly from the Internet!  Judging from the fact that the “smart grid” is supposed to be rolled out to 52 million people by 2015, the next source of data that marketers may very well be trying to get about you and I may be obtained by determining the patterns and type of electricity we use on a daily basis.

If companies were able to get their hands on this data they could apparently not only determine how many loads of laundry you do each week, but they could also figure out what kind of TV you own, how many times you shower and how many people are in your household!  I never really thought about it this way, but the way we use electricity can tell a lot about a person and an entire family.  Just think how powerful this data would be to consumer goods companies that could market certain products to people based on this information!

Another use for this data is law enforcement…this electrical data could point police to homes that are using certain lights to grow marijuana in their basements or to other criminals who use certain power-consuming equipment to make methamphetamine.

To nobody’s surprise Microsoft and Google are already all over the management of this smart grid data.  Microsoft’s Hohmproduct and Google’s PowerMeter application are already being used by the 200,000 early adopters of the smart grid being tested in Boulder, Colorado, that now monitor their electrical consumption online using these tools.

What could your business do if you had access to this data?

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