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Posts Tagged ‘start-up’

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 ‘start-up’

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 ‘start-up’

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 ‘start-up’

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 ‘start-up’

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 ‘start-up’

Fringe and Small Business

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I must admit, I am a Fringe junkie… the X-Files of the new generation… if you are a follower of Fringe, or Fringe science one can see how an obsession with a theory (or a job) can overtake you.

Let’s take the Walter Bishop of ‘our world’ vs. the Walter Bishop of ‘the other side’… why is it that he within our world is attempting recovery from insanity whilst the ‘other’ Walter seems to have done quite well for himself and been spared the asylum visit?  One could theorize that our world Walter became so obsessed with not only bringing Peter across but also with protecting him all these years and it eventually overtook his entire psyche.  Where the other side Walter has been focused on finding Peter, he seems (at least in our brief introduction to him last week) to be well put together, so perhaps not as ‘obsessed’ with this mission or at least capable of keeping the sanity surrounding his zeal.  An entrepreneur can easily be led astray down one Walter path vs. the other… so how do you keep the sanity while trying to get your business off the ground?

Here are some key areas that have helped us at KikScore:

Organization and Time Management

Know your market/customer  and react to feedback

Delegate – If you have a team, you can’t do it all yourself

Set clear goals for all team members and communicate

Keep track of lessons learned

What are your Fringe theories?  And how do you keep your sanity in your start-up?

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Posts Tagged ‘start-up’

Diary of a Startup: Staying in Touch

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

KikScore is made up of 7 team members.  We are on 2 different time zones.  Several of our members travel regularly for their day jobs.  One of us has a consulting business that requires odd-hour projects.  All of this adds up to difficulty in scheduling time to talk. 

And by “talk” I mean talking about the direction of the business as a whole.  Because we have side calls with partners, channels and customers.  We also have subset discussion focused on marketing and technology.  Not that this is unique to KikScore, but I would say that 50% of our time is not spent on plotting strategy.  Instead we focus on delivering product and satisfying partner/customer requests. 

One of the things I worry about is staying “in touch”.  Talking isn’t enough.  As I describe above, the KikScore team talks a lot, but we need more time to think together.  While most of us are in one city, it doesn’t mean we sit down each week and just talk about general direction.  We are so busy with opportunities, we’re focused on getting through the day.  So how do you preserve the connection that first brought you together?  I have no idea.  We’re trying to use Skype and get together for lunches related solely to strategy, but as we work on more projects, those lunches are turning into project status meetings.  It’s a challenge.

I throw this out to the readers…any suggestions in rekindling our long conversations on strategy?

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Posts Tagged ‘start-up’

The Awe Inspiring Essence of Creativity

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I stumbled upon an interesting and motivating quote a couple weeks ago:
Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself — George Bernard Shaw

This got me thinking about how creativity comes into play in defining not only who we are, but how the world sees us.  My daughter, who turned 2 in December, has started mastering marker to paper, and paint brush to easel.  My husband and I praise her creative wonders and display many of her designs about our home.

As I hung two of her recent ‘dinosaur’ masterpieces on my office wall today (one scanned above), I am overwhelmed with not only a sense of pride but an inspiration to be more creative myself.   To force more creativity in my daily doings and namely in my business activities (both day job and KikScore).  To remind myself that a little bit of color and imagination can be awe inspiring.

In order to maintain a competitive edge in business, you must have innovation that not only keeps your customers interested and coming back, but ensures they are shouting out accolades about your business with their friends and beyond.  Since teamwork is a key element to business success, you need to keep your team motivated and the creative juices flowing.

We continuously encourage creativity and individuality in our children… and we need to carry that forth and foster it in the work place environment as well.

Whether you have a start-up or a mature business, how do you encourage creativity?  Get out those markers and a blank palette… what can you create?

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Posts Tagged ‘start-up’

See how YouRenew has revolutionized the recycling world

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

YouRenew was recently showcased on All Things Considered segment NPR.   After frantically going to the website to determine the value of my drawer full of out-dated gadgets, I contacted YouRenew to tell us their adventure story.   David Walker shares the exciting chronicles of the YouRenew journey with KikScore…

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

YouRenew is an electronics re-marketing and recycling company that allows individuals to sell back their used mobile electronics and keep them out of landfills.   Customers across the country visit to find their devices, receive an instant price quote and download a free shipping label to send in their devices – once the devices arrive at the YouRenew facility, customers are sent a check within days.

We recently launched CorporateRenew, a service that allows businesses and other organizations to sell back their used cell phones and smart phones to enhance their environmental credibility while adding to their bottom lines.  We have been gaining significant traction across the country with business in a wide variety of fields via our website.

2. How did the YouRenew website and recycle service come about?

YouRenew was founded in March of 2009 by Rich Littlehale and Bob Casey who believed that given a convenient opportunity and proper incentive, individuals and organizations want to do the right thing with their used mobile electronics.  As only 10% of the discarded cell phones in the US were recycled in 2008, Rich and Bob saw tremendous opportunity to grow a business and make significant social change.

3. Where will YouRenew focus most of its energy in 2010?

In 2010 YouRenew and CorporateRenew will focus most of their energy on reaching out to individuals and organizations to let them know that there is a better alternative than the trash can. Both businesses and individuals are able to receive significant value for their used electronics and can take pride in knowing that they won’t end up in a landfill.

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

The best lesson we can pass on about having an online business is to be fully transparent to the customer. Individuals and business clients want to know exactly what we do with their used electronics, and we show them! Any business that believes in their service as we do at YouRenew and CorporateRenew should be transparent with their customers.

5. As 2010 begins, what do you see as 2 new trends in your business this year?

As 2010 begins we see a lot more individuals and businesses putting significant emphasis on environmental responsibility.  This is a great trend for us as we offer a service that proves that being green is not just an environmentally beneficial decision, but is a financially beneficial decision as well.

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

We would have to be Tom Kelly Jr. from Tommy Boy as we are young, creating jobs in Connecticut, and Tommy Boy is simply a great movie!

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

In the midst of the Winter Olympics, we would have to go with Apolo Anton Ohno as he revolutionized a niche sport and brought it to national fame.  With e-waste just becoming a significant issue, we are revolutionizing the way individuals and organizations dispose of their used mobile devices.

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

This year alone 1 billion cell phones will be created world-wide. Help us keep them out of landfills and bring you significant value for your used devices through YouRenew.com and CorporateRenew.com.

Thanks YouRenew… now back to searching through my drawers.  Please share any other recycling tips you’ve discovered.

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Posts Tagged ‘start-up’

Small Businesses and Online Stores, Social Commerce Camp DC is for You

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Have you been looking for a FREE educational  grassroots event for small businesses, online store owners and entrepreneurs who want to start or grow their businesses? Look no further because on Saturday, February 20, 2010 KikScore, MyBusinessAssistant.com, Network Solutions and Mayer Brown will be putting on a first of its kind event in Washington DC.

Introducing Social Commerce Camp DC! This event is especially geared for small businesses, online merchants and entrepreneurs who want to get online and grow their business.  The morning long session will be moderated by Network Solutions Social Media Swami, Shashi Bellamkonda and will feature speakers that will focus on discussing real and practical ways of building and growing a small business.  During the Social Commerce Camp DC, we will be engaging in an interactive discussion of new and effective ways that online stores and small businesses can use social media, marketing, and PR to succeed online, build your brand,  get more customers and manage your business reputation.  The event will also feature quality time to network with other owners of online stores, small businesses, social media strategists and overall just some good people trying to avoid watching cartoons on a Saturday morning!

Here is the agenda for Social Commerce Camp DC on February 20, 2010:

8 a.m to 9 a.m:  Continental breakfast, registration and networking

9 a.m to 9.45 :  Session 1 - Social Media 101 for small business and discussion of real success stories

10.00 to 10.45 :  Session 2 – Starting and growing your online store/business

10.45 to 11.15 :  Check your Twitter account/ blogging time

11.15 to Noon :  Session 3 - PR tips and best practices for small business

Mayer Brown’s offices located at 1999 K Street NW, Washington DC 20006 will be hosting Social Commerce Camp DC.

We look forward to you joining us.  Registration details for Social Commerce DC can be found here. Also because Social Commerce Camp DC is a grassroots event that is serving ecommerce merchants and small businesses, let us know your thoughts on subject matter, topics or questions you would like answered at Social Commerce Camp DC. We will work to get them addressed that morning.

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