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Archive for 2010

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Just want to send a note to wish you all a happy new year from Kikscore. In the spirit of the new year, I’m sharing a few of my new year resolutions:

1. Eat less cheese – cheese is now being packaged in very mobile, snacky packaging. I’ve spent 2010 eating a half brick of cheese a week due to this development.

2. Stop caring about the Minnesota Sports teams – 4 sports teams, all of which are terribly disappointing. They are worse for me than all that cheese.

3. Fewer magazine subscriptions – through redeeming airline miles, I receive 6 different weekly magazines. I can’t keep up and I feel like I’m behind on my homework every time I get a new one in the mail.

I know I have other things to work on, but this is my start for 2011.

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Archive for 2010

Introducing the Approme Store!

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Did you know Google Chrome has an app store now? I switched back to Chrome(my uni webpages wouldn’t show up   Opera) And noticed that there was a section for apps. I got a couple of drawing ones and they seem to be ok.  PC World has an article about five good businesses apps.

  1. Rainmaker: I thought this was an app that lets you create your own weather from the name. But no, it seems to be a profiling service. By that I mean it gathers information about contacts in your gmail address book and puts that information into one place….is what I got from the description. In theory, this seems to be a good idea, but I’m not sure how well it’ll work in practice…especially since one of the examples of information it gathers was mugshots. Anyway, it’s a paid service ranging from $9 to about $39 a month. (If you consider using it for a company, you need to contact them to negotiate pricing.)
  2. Springpad: This is described as a supercharged notebook/To-do list.  Apparently you can build your notes around webpages too. The description says that it’s smart enough to realize what you’re doing and will add a field to reflect it. The To-do lists give you the option to set alerts before your due dates arrive. The description does not make it seem any different than Evernote(which also has a Chrome app by the way) except that it is free to use. I think I’ll try this one out, but if it can’t integrate hand/mouse drawn images very well(like Evernote), I probably won’t use it. Free
  3. Simplebooklet: This is an online presentation tool.l PC World’s article says “It fills a blindingly obvious gap in the market: creating presentations that can be viewed within a browser, and accessed via a simple URL that you share with others.” To me this sounds a lot like Slideshare, the only difference being that one can’t make presentations in Slideshare, one has to upload a presentation. Otherwise, I don’t really see the difference between it and Slideshare from the description alone.  Free for up to 20 MB of content.  If any of you readers use/have used/tried out both of these, which one do you like better?
  4. World Time Planner: Ever been afraid of keeping someone up too late? Wanna know what time to call that person in Thailand(I picked a random place) for that telephone conference? This app seems useful. It lets you click and drag a slider to see what time it is in various cities. It also gives you daytime and nighttime symbols that let you know when the working day starts and ends. The only problem I see with this one is, what if you don’t need the time for London, Beijing, Tokyo or any of the other common cities that most world clocks give you? Like if you need to know the time in Vaduz(the capital of Lichtenstein), you’re not going to find it immediately. Free and it even works offline.
  5. Read Later Fast: This lets you save pages to read later. This is a really good app. It lets you archive pages. Which is necessary if you want to find something again. I’ve had problems with disappearing pages and I’m going to install this as soon as I get my laptop back. Free

So, out of all these which ones did you like the best and why? Or if it’s not on the list, what is it and why do you like it?

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Archive for 2010

7 Posts from 2010 That Will Help Your Business Now – 2010 KikScore Blog Greatest Hits

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

As 2010 winds down, we wanted to share with you a few posts that if you only have a few minutes on the KikScore blog we want you to read.  As many of you know, we pride ourselves on publishing good content that covers small businesses, startups, entrepreneurship, while telling the first hand accounts of small business that sell online and trying at the same time to be a little humorous and even including some references to sports and pop culture.

So here are our greatest hits that we hope you check out:

1. Should Start up Companies and Small Business Release Their New Software Early or Wait Until Its Perfected? – This is our post that discusses the age old dilemma for startups on when is the right time to launch your product.  We had some very personal experience on this issue.  I am sure there are many startups that are facing this very issue right now so that is why it made our list.

2. Issues Escalation and Support Guidelines in a Startup Environment – This is a very detailed and thoughtful post about the process needed to approach the inevitable support issues that get escalated to your service department by your customers.  The post frankly applies to many different types of businesses, from small, medium to large but is especially fitting for startups.  It is a must read especially for software startups.

3. Lessons Learned for Small Business from Sandra Bullock’s Heartbreak – Everyone probably remembers the shocking news that came out this spring about Sandra Bullock’s husband Jesse James and his infidelity.  This post is especially helpful to small businesses and startups that are looking to partner with other companies or use new vendors and contractors for key business operations.  It gives key information and tips to help with conducting diligence before you make these important decisions.  And we do this by tying it all back to Sandra Bullock and Jesse James marriage!

4. Our two posts on reviewing your business on Memorial Day (Check that BBQ and Your Business’ 2010 Goals) and Labor Day  (5 Steps to Help Close 2010 Strong) – Every business should take the time to periodically conduct self-assessments to measure progress.  These posts give detailed tips on conducting the self-assessment for your business at key times of the year and the Labor Day post also outlines concrete steps for taking the learnings from your analysis and acting on those learnings.

5. Building a Startup Company and Having a Family at the Same Time – Ever wonder how entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups balance work, life, family and crazy schedules.  We all face this issue frankly and in this post we discuss tips on helping to find that work/family balance.  To be honest, this is a post worth re-reading throughout the year to keep yourself grounded.

6. Manly Cupcakes and Tips on Finding, Understanding and Appealing to Your Target Market –  This is a straighforward post that appeals to all businesses and startups.  The reason why it is one of my favorite posts of the year is that every company should ask these key marketing and customer demographics questions  about your product, customers and market.  These questions and your answers to them will keep your business and startup more sharply focused and successful.

7. How Do You Judge a Website? –  This post is important for every business because it frames the way potential customers, leads, partners and even investors get their first online impression of your business.  It is a valuable post that businesses can come back to in order to remind them that no matter what you do, these key features of your website will drive the way key influencers view you, your business, your website and your product.

We hope you enjoyed all of our posts this year and we look forward to a great year of content in 2011.

We would love to hear your favorite posts as well as any feedback on our content.  Also let us know if you want us to cover any particular topic and we would be happy to consider writing on a certain subject, especially if it helps the small business, startup and entrepreneur community.

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Archive for 2010

Merry Christmas from KikScore

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Just a quick holiday note to wish our customers, partners and supporters a Merry Christmas.  As Raj mentioned in his post earlier this week, we’ve had a great year — growing our business and launching two new products.  All of it couldn’t be done without your support.

Wishing you and your family a fun and safe Christmas!


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Archive for 2010

More People are Using Smartphone Applications to Shop and Merchants are Taking Note!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

With only 1 shopping day left before Christmas, I hope you have all of your shopping done with by now but if you haven’t you should really go to the stores with your smartphone and a few trusty applications loaded so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

As the Wall Street Journal indicated in this article, only 5.6% of all shoppers on Black Friday used a smartphone to compare prices while in the store but this number represents a 50 fold increase from a year ago. I have actually used a couple different applications while in stores to compare prices and on more than one occasion have actually left the store to purchase the product online because it was considerably cheaper.

Some of the most popular smartphone applications that will allow Shoppers to scan barcodes in the store and instantly show them the cheapest price available online or in a bricks and mortar location are theFind and Google Shopper.  Consumers can download these applications for free and within seconds can search for lowest price for any given product.

Stores are quickly becoming aware that shoppers have this new found ability to instantly compare prices and are trying to adapt in order to take advantage of or at least cope with the results but I don’t think that they are changing quickly enough in my opinion.  I am still waiting for the day when I can show the Best Buy store manager a price I found online on my smartphone and have him or her match that price in their store.  Today they will not even consider doing that unless the store I am comparing their price to also has a bricks and mortar location.  I find this policy to be outdated and ridiculous and hopefully the coming widespread use of comparison shopping using smartphone applications will open these company’s eyes and make them change these archaic policies.

Have you ever tried to get a bricks and mortar store to match a price you found online for the same product?  What were your results?

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Archive for 2010

Moose battling for top hacking position

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Well not really, but the recent hacking of Gwaker and Silverpop Systems Inc sure reminds me of moose battling for leader of the herd.  Apparently two different groups of hackers hacked both companies. According to this, the attention given to the attention to the hacking of Wkileaks has started a competition to see who’s the best hacker.  The hackers who hacked Silverpop, stole email addresses and may start spamming the inboxes of the stolen addresses.  Apparently one of Silverpop’s clients was DeviantArt. That’s not good. I post my artwork on that site! According to DeviantArt’s statement(here), they have stopped hosting information on Silverpop servers.  Funny, I don’t remember them sending me an email about this….But, that’s not really worrisome.  What’s worrisome is that the hackers may have gotten McDonalds customer’s postal addresses and their telephone numbers.  Wallgreens customers also had their email addresses stolen. Those customers may get emails asking for sensitive information from people claiming to be from another company or Wallgreens itself. Luckily no personal or medical information was stolen.  So who’s the top hacker? The article didn’t say, but I think it wasn’t any of these folks would be the top hacker. Although it does make me wonder about the companies security….

Who do you think should be the top hacker and what can we do to stop them?

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Archive for 2010

End of the Year Thank You to Friends of KikScore for a Great 2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010

As 2010 rolls toward a quick end, we at KikScore wanted to take this time to do something that so many people sometime neglect to do.  That is to say some important thank yous.  2010 has been a year of huge successes and new beginnings for us at KikScore. That success is attributable to many factors, but much of our achievements are a result of a core set of folks including our customers, friends, colleagues, partners and advisors.

KikScore’s 2010

First a little about our 2010. We launched our core product, KikScore, to help small businesses use their trackrecord of success and reliability to show that trackrecord to shoppers that they should be trusted.  Then quickly thereafter and based on feedback we received from the community, we launched another new product for small business that do not sell online, but market their services such as consultants, contractors, servicers.  That new product allows these servicers to take their prior trackrecord and their strong history of dependability and show potential clients and leads that they are trustworthy. Yes, that was two new products in less than a year!

Beyond the new products, KikScore gained quick and significant customer acceptance with a surge in signups in 2010 by small businesses all over the world.  That acceptance was driven by a host of factors, just one being the number of key partnerships we launched throughout 2010.  We were busy launching partnerships and jointly sponsored events throughout the year that focused on our small business customer needs.  It was a blast to connect with so many small businesses, bloggers and members of the media throughout the year….the coverage was flattering too!  We even spoke at some great small business focused webinars and conferences.  Thanks Anita Campbell for your recommendation and introductions for us to speak about security and small business!

A Special Thank You

So we get to the main point of the post after some “horn blowing” by me.  Ok, I was just setting some context for visitors that are new to the site!!! We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our friends and supporters that helped us out this year.  There are too many to name each one here individually by name, but a few we really do need to have to thank including the one and only Swami Shashi B, Jill Foster, Shonali Burke, Eric A, Jason K, Harry L, Roy D, Rick Juneja, Neel K, Joe K, Steven Fisher, and so many, many more.  These are just a few great folks that helped us out.  On top of them, we have to thank our many partners, but most importantly our friends in Calgary at Shopster.

A special, special thank you goes out to all of our customers.  We really appreciate each and every one of you.  Even the customers that did not stay with us, we learned from you.  But more importantly a thank you to all of the customers that took precious time out of their busy days to send us comments, feedback or your appreciative notes about our service and what we are doing for small businesses.  Also thanks to all of those customers that gave us some great small business interviews on this blog.

Ok, not really last but thanks to each of our families, the new additions to our families and loved ones that supported us throughout this year!  Your patience during our late nights and long weekends of work on KikScore is truly appreciated.  We could not do any of this without you!

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Archive for 2010

Video: Top Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Monday, December 13th, 2010

This is an excellent short 4 minute video on the top web design mistakes that small businesses make from Entrepreneur Magazine.  It covers the problems with:

1) Flash websites;

2) Poor design backgrounds;

3) Not having good About Us and Management Pages; and

4) Not having contact information, especially for your customer service operations.

What other mistakes do you see small businesses and startups make with their websites?

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Archive for 2010

Dear iPad: I love you

Friday, December 10th, 2010

I broke down several months ago and purchased an iPad. I read a decent amount and my wife doesn’t like the light on when I read. So I needed to drop $800 on an iPad. At least that was the excuse. I didn’t think that I would use the iPad for any other reason than entertainment.

But I’m finding that I’m using the iPad for more business than fun and games. In fact, I’m writing is entire post on my iPad. I was about to get up to get my computer and I thought “wow, the computer is across the living room and the iPad is right next to me”. So laziness prevails. And im finding that it’s pretty easy to type on. The keyboard is bigger and on a glass screen – it makes me feel like I’m typing in the future.

I talked my wife into getting one and she is so addicted to it she is using the iPad to answer emails while she uses the treadmill. Crazy. I mean who uses a treadmill?

Not that this breaking news, but once storage of documents is easier (or is easily done on the cloud) I can’t see needing a laptop. Shoppinq, entertainment and work all in one device. Pretty great.

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Archive for 2010

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

Monday, December 6th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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