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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

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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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

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 ‘Social Media’

Small Business Lessons from Tamara Gozan of Designer Purse Depot

Monday, August 29th, 2011

This week I had the pleasure of talking with Tamara Gozan, the founder of http://www.designerpursedepot.com/, an online store that sells a variety of designer handbags and apparel. However, due to customer demand, Tamara shared that she will be expanding her business and focusing more on designer clothing, shoes, and accessories. We had a great conversation during our interview, touching on topics such as small business, social media outlets, and The Devil Wears Prada (of course!).

Tell us a little about Designer Purse Depot and who you focus on serving?

Designer Purse Depot services a lot of people who like designer items, mostly handbags and clothing but also including shoes and other accessories. Because my customers love designer goods and they are really expensive, I spend a lot of time trying to find companies where I can find these items on sale or at a discounted price. I then resell them to my customers, who often use these items themselves or turnaround and sell them on eBay.

How did you get your started selling online?

I started over a decade ago when I had an eBay account and sold a few things online there. Then recently, I saw the success of many people that were making their money online and heard a lot of people who considered themselves experts, explain the importance of having an online store. I started looking around to find a format or platform where I could open an online store and found Shopster. I decided to open a free account using their free trial offered at the time and put some items on the account, just to see what they would look like on the website, and within 8 days I had my first sale. After recognizing the potential, I decided to get more serious and built a complete website. In my first month on Shopster, I had 20 sales!

Where has Designer Purse Depot focused most of its energy on in the past year?

My main focus has been on designer handbags, though I’m planning to focus more on designer clothing, shoes, and accessories in this upcoming year. I have received many requests from my frequent customers that are asking for those items, so I plan to focus on expanding my collection.

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

For one, having detailed photos of the items that you are selling is essential because people can’t touch or feel the product like they normally could. Instead, they would like to get a really good look at the items. Also important is having an accurate and detailed description of the items. Both of these are extremely valuable factors to focus on, and the third item is the pricing of your products. You have to know what is currently going on in the market because if you price an item too high, you won’t get enough customers, and if you price an item too low, the customers won’t recognize the value.

What do you see as 2 new trends in your industry this year?

Surprisingly, some of the most expensive handbags are the hottest items right now. Although everyone is talking about how bad the economy is, some of the most expensive handbags are selling very well. Another trend is the emerging popularity of fashion forward attire. Lots of women are looking for really nice office wear and bright colors.

From your experience, what are the best ways to advertise yourself?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

Yes, I definitely think that you should be on Facebook and Twitter, as well as have an eBay outlet and possibly an Amazon account also. You can introduce new items there and send customers back to your store. I really think you should have a strong presence in the market and definitely a blog.

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

It would probably be the intern from The Devil Wears Prada, played by Anne Hathaway. I don’t necessarily wear a lot of high fashion items and I’m more of an admirer, so I’ve had to really become acclimated with women who wear these high value, designer products. Similarly, the intern went into an industry that she wasn’t familiar with and had to adapt to the environment and learn the market.

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

I just read an article about the woman who wrote the novel, The Help, and learned that she was rejected 60 different times by 60 different literary agents and the 61st agent was the first to give her a chance. Now, her novel has become a major motion picture. You may not get it right the first time, or even the second or third times, but if you are passionate about what you want to do and keep trying to tweak it and make it right, you will find success. Even though it started out almost effortless with Shopster, having an online store isn’t always easy; it has been challenging to grow and I’m still seeking to go to the next level. I have to keep myself focused and motivated every day, though that’s how you will eventually find success.

We at KikScore would like to thank Tamara for giving the community his thoughts on the small business experience.  If you have questions for Tamara, please leave them in the comments below.

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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

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 ‘Social Media’

Putting the “Social” in Social Media: A KikScore Interview with Chris Visco

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Visco, the owner of both TheBestOfFood.com and PJ’s and Coffee Social Media Marketing. With PJ’s and Coffee, her team doesn’t only market your business on the internet; they build and maintain client relationships for your business. According to a recent HubSpot study, nearly 2/3 of US internet users regularly use a social network and that number isn’t falling anytime soon. This makes Visco’s business ever more important and beneficial to the small business community. She discusses her business and gives tips for the future of small businesses in our KikScore interview of her.

1. Tell us about PJ’s and Coffee and who you focus on serving?

PJ’s and Coffee is a full service social media marketing agency. We manage the social media accounts for all sorts of businesses. PJ’s and Coffee is the blog for and social media management branch of our main website, TheBestofFood.com. We used to focus mainly on restaurants in the Philly area, but as more businesses sought our service, we expanded into helping small and medium businesses in a variety of different industries.

2. How did you get the idea for PJ’s and Coffee?

Essentially, we promote local restaurants by providing them with reliable and candid reviews on our site. This assists locals and travelers visiting the Philadelphia area with dining recommendations. This was the idea behind TheBestOfFood.com.

After using social media to promote these restaurants, we realized the value of social media and the cost savings involved with it. With the emergence of Twitter, we talked to restaurants, explaining our desire to promote them. They also saw the benefit of using social media outlets and asked us to manage their Facebook and other accounts. We started out by operating Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare accounts. After engaging many clients using these sites, others approached us about our service, including mortgage companies, dispatch providers, dentists, and others, expanding well beyond the food industry.

Being the food blog for TheBestOfFood.com, the name behind PJ’s and Coffee came from the idea that people want to sit and relax at home in their pajamas with their coffee in hand, and have the intimate feeling of reading and talking about food. We then took the name and rebranded it to the social media division, envisioning people sitting at home in the PJ’s and interacting with others through social media outlets on their computers and phones. Thirty-one percent of people between the ages of 18-35 check social media sites before getting out of bed in the morning so PJ’s and Coffee seemed like a fitting, more casual name. We put the “social” in social media. Many businesses fail because they don’t understand that it’s about people, not products. We engage their target audience and promote them using our research media. Companies that engage their target audience have a higher success than those who “talk AT” people online.

3. What is PJ’s and Coffee focusing most of its energy on this year?

Obviously with the recent release of Google+, we are going to see how successful it is and how to best use it from a marketing standpoint. We will continue focusing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. though it depends on the business model and which company represents the brand the best. We look for where we can reach the most people and make the most valuable connections. For example, we represent a collision repair company that is equally successful on both Facebook and Twitter, though not as much on LinkedIn and Foursquare. For B2Bs, Twitter and LinkedIn are most successful, while Facebook and Twitter are best for C2Bs. Also, for companies that are targeting women and mothers, mommy bloggers are really influential and we try to engage with them.

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

First, engagement is critical. Businesses that don’t engage with their target audience become white noise. Secondly, practice makes perfect and not all strategies work for all business so you have to be ready to adapt and change. When we first started, we were very Facebook driven but then we started expanding when we saw other outlets were more beneficial. Some strategies aren’t as successful so you should learn and read as much as you can and if one doesn’t work, move onto the next.

5. Based on your experience as social media strategist, what do you see as 2 new trends for small business?

One new trend is the increased use of video marketing. Fifty six percent of online users are likely to view videos through social media websites, and we’ve seen the success of Youtube videos over the years. Talk Fusion is a new service for email media marketing and allows you to send video emails directly to your client’s inbox.

Another trend will be the redevelopment of websites for social media use. Many websites get more hits and visitors through social media outlets than web searches so because social media sites are driving web traffic, websites are becoming more social media friendly. It’s not easy to facilitate with many current websites and they will be redeveloped, allowing you to login through Facebook and Twitter accounts and shooting out business-related alerts, similar to the news feed of Facebook. In addition, they must become more photo rich to draw attention to their sites on social media outlets.

6. What is the biggest challenge that PJ’s and Coffee faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge??

Quite honestly, the number one challenge is finding people that are able to engage others online. It seems easy to just go on social media sites and chat, but finding quality marketing professionals to actually engage people is difficult. The instinct to promote online is to just shout out your business promotions. For example, by just shooting out listings and links to your website, businesses and their posts become white noise which consumers will tune out quickly. The key is taking your ego out and making it less about you and more about the customer, which takes a lot of discipline and training. I’ve engaged in a business (social media marketing) that requires a lot of time. It takes 20-30 hours per month per social media outlet, so my challenge is balancing profitability while also bringing in people who take a lot of time to train and learn.

Also, another challenge is dealing with businesses that need to adapt their methods for the long term. While there will be no immediate result, those companies need to realize that they have to be in it now to be profitable in the longer run.

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

The Social Network for obvious reasons.

8. How do the folks at PJ’s and Coffee let loose after a busy day working?

With a glass of wine at a favorite local restaurant. The thing about what we do is that anything can happen at any point during the day. It is 24/7 work because consumers are online at all times, whether it be 1am, 6am, or 11pm, and there are no afterhours, social media sites are being visited every second.

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

I believe all businesses should have a social media presence. Businesses need to learn that it’s not just about promotion, but it’s also a customer service tool. If someone has a complaint or a raving review about your business, they’re most likely to go online and post about it somewhere on the internet. You need to be on these sites to immediately address your customers and their issues regarding your business.

I’d like to thank Chris Visco again for a great interview! If anyone has any questions or comments for Chris, please leave them in the comments.

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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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When Young Americans Unite – We Can Do Some Cool Things! – I am Here to Help Small Business for the Summer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Hey guys! This is Jason and I am a new intern here at Kikscore!

I am a rising sophomore at American University, majoring in Business Administration with a double specialization in Accounting and Marketing. I learned a lot my first year at school, especially in my Business 1.0 class. Having intended on just majoring in Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting, this fundamental class introduced me to a variety of business-related fields, especially sparking my interest in marketing. The class emphasized how important of a role the internet plays these days, not just in marketing but in all aspects of business and society.

Take the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, for example. The television news channels most likely broke the news to the adults who were still awake at the time. However, the internet and its many social networking sites informed millions of college students and teenagers around the world of the breaking news. Statuses on Facebook such as “OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD!! AMERICA!!” and “Osama bin Hidein for ten years, now he’s dead BOOYAH!” were appearing on my news feed by the second. In fact, a tweet by a former chief of staff that read “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn” actually broke the news to the public (this article can be found here:  Twitter Reactions to Osama’s Death) This is a great example of how important and influential the internet is, and how significant it can be for businesses.

However, I first found out about Osama’s killing from shrieks and yells coming from the hallway of my dorm. Even though I am not political whatsoever, I do attend a school that is revered for its politically active student body. (I am also an avid sports fan and we don’t have a football team, but I love it! Go figure.) And one of the many perks of going to school in DC is the fact that I am only 15 minutes away from the nation’s capital. So that night, I went to the White House with a large group of friends, joining the thousands of Americans already there to celebrate, singing the national anthem probably about 50 times.

My favorite rapper Kanye West puts it best by saying that he is the “voice of this generation.” Maybe I’m not rich or famous like Kanye, but I believe I am also the voice of this generation. Times are changing and with the evolving power of the internet and media, we are all the voices of this generation. After hearing about Kikscore, I was immediately interested in joining this small, internet business and I am excited to use what I have learned in Business 1.0 to help here. I am eager and ready to gain first-hand experience and practice with this rising online start-up.

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Advertising Evolves to Become More Effective and Relevant Amidst Privacy Concerns

Monday, January 17th, 2011

If you own a house in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area or any state where door-to-door soliciting is legal, there’s a good chance you’ve had your fair share of canvassers come knock on your door. If the canvasser introduced himself as Mike and tried to say something about a free estimate for windows before you told him to get lost, we’ve probably already met. Like myself years ago, most canvassers are teenagers in high-school, attracted by the commission-based pay and opportunity to work outside. A backlash against door-to-door marketing has grown as disenchanted workers and homeowners accused companies of exploiting unskilled youth labor and invading personal privacy. Minors are barred from canvassing and telemarketing in many states, according to the US Department of Labor

Since beginning college at American University, I’ve left the unfortunate trade of canvassing in favor of unpaid internships that do not induce ego rot caused by constant rejection by cold-call leads. The state of advertising has evolved since, becoming more personalized by utilizing the personal information that most Americans make available online. Cold call marketing, such as through telemarketing and canvassing, is being replaced by personalized ads on the internet. Business owners are no longer left to shoot in the dark. Facebook has pioneered this front by allowing businesses to create ads (using this simple form) that appear to users based on personal information posted in their profiles. Although I’ve discovered a few good bands through these ads, aimed specifically toward me because I like 50+ artists, most are no more relevant than anything I’d expect to hear from a telemarketer. Despite Facebook’s efforts to deliver relevant ads, promotions for Methadone treatment and Doom Metal bands still make their way to bewildered consumers.

Those who have seen Steven Speilberg’s film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report remember a scene where Tom Cruise is immediately identified by ubiquitous retina scanners when walking into a mall, and bombarded with personal advertisements. “Hey, Tom, you really look like you could use a Guinness.”

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Video

With the consistently growing presence of advertisements in our culture, this dystopia may be an accurate prediction of the future for consumers. Is Facebook already crossing the line by utilizing users’ personal information to direct advertisements? Or is this a better alternative to being harassed by telemarketers and canvassers?

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Great Videos For Small Business & Startups from the 2010 GrowSmartBiz Conference

Monday, November 15th, 2010

My wife and I were so looking forward to attend the 2010 GrowSmartBusiness Conference in Washington DC. We previously covered the reasons that the small business and startup community should have attended this event.  Unfortunately for us we had to miss the great conference due to the stomach flu making an appearance in our household.  So this post is as much for me as it is for the entire small business and startup community.

Just a simple following of the #growsmartbiz hashtag on Twitter will show you that the conference was a huge success.  But the organizers went a step further.  They have put most of the content online in the form of the speakers videos from the day.

So here is a tally of the links you should visit to watch and learn from some of the wonderful speakers from the 2010 GrowSmartBiz Conference:

1. The lunch keynote from Raul Fernandez, Chairman of ObjectVideo, Vice Chairman, Monumental Sport and Entertainment is here.

2. The marketing and innovation session was given by Barry Moltz, author of “Bust a Myth” and it was titled “How Social Media Has Made Customer Service the New Marketing.”

3. Another great session was “Reinvigorating Small Business Innovation” with small business experts Jason Falls, Steve King, Jeremy Epstein, and Duncan Alnay.

4. The final session that included the Marketing Keynote with Rohit Bhargava, Ramon Ray on 6 Rules for Tech Success, Rieva, Lesonsky, 3 Top Small Business Trends for 2011, Shonali Burke on PR & Small Business, and Jill Foster on Public Speech 2.0 in an 140 Character  World.  Check out all of these great videos here.

I sure hope we can make it next year.  What a great conference and thanks for the fantastic content!

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