Posts tagged: Entrepreneur

Bidding for Services Online

By , April 5, 2014 9:23 am

Well, I finally have a teensy bit of confirmation (one case history) about my theory that all those cheap websites offering marketing solutions aren’t always worth it.  An entrepreneur I know went to a bidding site for logos.  He went three times.  The first two times he got back garbage – or results that were unusable and totally unsalvageable.  The third time was a charm – he was happy with the logo he received and is going to register it as his trademark.  The whole process cost him some time (close to three months in total) and some money (he didn’t share how much with me).  With no guarantees that each time he threw the line back in the water (or the credit card back on the website), that what he would reel in would be of any value to him.

And this is a savvy entrepreneur.  He had some background in marketing and was capable of judging the quality of the work he bought.

So, should you bid for marketing services online?  Well, ultimately that’s a decision up to you.


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Making a Profit Online

By , August 12, 2013 3:22 pm

Art: you make it, you sell it.

It’s not a well-loved mantra in creative circles or in art school hallways, but in order to live as an artist you have to survive. At the very least, one should be able to cover expenses and yield some profit. How is this done in a competitive marketplace where gallery space is limited and visibility is key?

Increasingly, artists are using online platforms to gain visibility and even sell their work. From Etsy to Saatchi Online, these platforms offer artists a way to network, promote, sell, and gain momentum as entrepreneurs with very little overhead costs. In some cases, retailers and other interested buyers are drawn to the established package that comes from DIY online promoting: a product with a defined brand and built-in audience. If you’ve already done the work of packaging your creative product, research alternative ways to facilitate your business outside of gallery circles– it might ultimately lead you back to them.

Here is a great list of 200 places to sell your work online:

http://www.artsyshark.com/125-places-to-sell/

Visual artists should consider Saatchi Online and the unique benefits of its social media-inspired platform:

http://www.saatchionline.com/promoting

Make yourself easy to do business with.

By , September 22, 2012 11:30 am

Make your product and services easy to find, easy for visitors to your website to stay a while, learn about you and follow through.  That’s what a medical cosmetics physician did and it worked for him (see link below).  The bottom line is he  got specific about what his customers wanted and gave it to them.  This included adding before and after photos of people who had used his services (this is equivalent to a demonstration of your product/services – one of the best way to get a customer). He also put a “Call to action” (what you want the customer to do for next steps) up front and center (ok to the right hand side of the home page but you catch my drift). And response improved.  He decided not to use a form because that would slow down and discourage follow-through.  While this worked for this particular physician and his customer population, another  physician who specializes in the treatment of pain did exactly the opposite.  He had a long form on his website in order to weed out patients who didn’t live in the immediate area (thousands of people have pain and he would have had to hire additional full time help just to deal with the inquires coming from his website), who had the kind of insurance he takes, and who had the kind of pain he could treat.

shutterstock_75977908

Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com

The bottom line is you have to customize your messaging in whatever format you deliver it, to your customer’s habits and wishes. This means you have to reach out to your customer base and find out how they want to be “told and sold”. What’s the single or couple of most important messages that they need to hear in order to move them from a visitor to your website?  Then give it to them.

If you’re in retail like dungarees.net (see link below) then you might want to solicit customer reviews.   Find the issue that, when solved, will not only keep customers on your site (or reading your materials) longer,  but also convert them from a visitor to a customer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/business/smallbusiness/three-keys-to-converting-web-visitors-into-buyers.html?smid=pl-share

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

More proof of why you should speak to your customer BEFORE you market!

By , September 15, 2012 10:09 am

Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com

Virginia Dominguez, a consultant, responds to “How come no one wants to speak to the customer BEFORE they do marketing” with this case history/anecdote:

“This is a good point…I was just watching a video, last night, where Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) pointed this out…He illustrated this with a story about a Chiropractor that wanted to set up his practice in this new town. So, he went to the town officials and asked a few questions, to which he was told that the town did not need another chiropractor, because the town already had one servicing the people. This negative reaction did not derail his ambition, so he set out to prove them wrong. He did this by doing some pre-marketing before opening the business.  He set out to go knocking on hundreds of doors and asking each individual and potential customer, how they would feel (together with other service related questions) about a new chiropractor in town. He not only proved the town officials incorrect, but he was able to make tons of money when he established the business. A year or so later, one of those people he interviewed was on this big event seminar, when the above story about the Dr. was told, the interviewee got up and said, “I remember him!” She was asked by the event coordinator, how was this possible and she said, “I remember him, because he came to talk to me!” She also used his services.”

The power of communicating directly with your customer/audience is amazing…when you do it. And the best part about this process is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. The ROI in terms of business, branding, establishing yourself and your business in the community is exponential.

Try it.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Make You a Better Entrepreneur

By , August 4, 2012 1:38 pm
English: Inside a Harvard Business School clas...

Photo credit: WikiMedia Commons

Everyone around here is tuning-up for the new school year.

The grounds have be spruced up, class assignments doled out, and learning objectives have been set.

All is in order to help aspiring students advance their knowledge beyond their expectations.

Pull in close. I want to let you in on our secret.
One of the most overlooked (and undervalued) keys to what takes place in any superior learning environment is having an integrated learning roadmap. One that balances shared knowledge (academic plus peer-to-peer) with experiential discovery.

A mix, which not surprisingly, has served me well for decades outside the walls of academia as I constantly seek to improve my professional skills and knowledge base. If I could prescribe your ideal mix I would, but alas this is something that each of us must define for ourselves.

Chin up all is not lost.

Good news, you can do it for yourself.
Here are a few articles that can help kick start your fall learning initiative and keep you moving forward…

The Most Common Strategy Mistakes
This should be the first stop for everyone who is interested in, sets, or executes strategic initiatives. This is an excerpt from Joan Magretta’s new book on Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter the focus of which is the importance of strategy in delivering competitive advantage.

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution
This explains how you can identify holes in your planning processes and make smart choices. This base of which is seven questions you should ask… and seek the answer to.

Three Ways to Find an Edge in a Crowded Market
Lets face it, we are all in competitive markets. No matter how you slick it there are real alternatives to our solution. What’s needed is insights on how to stay ahead of the pack and that’s exactly what this article helps you uncover.

The CEO’s guide to corporate finance
It’s all about the Benjamins. And, this article introduces you to four principles that can help you make great financial decisions. One of them, internalizing the principles of value creation, is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business. Doing so emboldens you to make independent, courageous, and even unpopular decisions in the face of myths and misconceptions about what creates value.

To Get Venture Capital Funding, Know the Risks and Tell a Good Story
Peer into the mind of a seasoned VC and develop a better understanding of how they evaluate risk. Even if you’re not looking for direct funding, these nuggets of wisdom will help when dealing with key suppliers and stakeholders.

 

Donald McMichacel teaches BE 261 – Starting a Small Business.
Follow him on Twitter at @DonaldMcMichael or Google+ at +Donald McMichael

The World That Was and Is No More

By , July 7, 2012 1:05 pm

What if I said that as humans our behaviors tend to gravitate around comfortable rhythms which often leads to dramatic chaos?

Not only that, but what if I also said that it has a way of limiting our business success and at times seeding its downfall.

Why would I say such a thing?
Getting into a rhythm in of itself isn’t bad, there’s the Sunday morning routine, how we interact with family & friends, and the way we approach work tasks. In fact, it allows us to function quite efficiently in a settled environment.

The danger from a business perspective is that we tend to blow past the last point – “in a settled environment”.

Here’s why
Economies always had and will continue to have plateaus of calm. In fact, substantial periods of clam have allowed humans to build the economic platform that powers our organizations to this day. We’ve grow accustom to this trend.

What we shouldn’t lose sight of, however, is the fact that things do not, and in some cases, should not remain unchanged. Looking at it from a generational timespan (about 30 years) and our economic pattern looks like a singular smooth arching line. Step forward and it looks entirely different; certainly the past few years with it various economic cliffs have shown this to be true. At this operating level you will see that what appeared to be singular and smooth is in reality multiple trends that unsymmetrically oscillate around each other. Even more revealing is the fact that the cycle between relative calm and uncertainty in contracting.

That’s right the rate of change is accelerating exponentially, it has become so quick that it is tough to even make short-term predictions accurately. In other words, don’t expect long periods of calm for constant change is the new normal.

You already feel this in your business. Competitors pop-up out of nowhere, successful methodologies have begun to fall flat, and you can’t seem to put your finger on what’s wrong but you know all is not right.

So, what must you do?
Here are three insights to help jump start your vision quest.

  1. Get liberated. Break connections to make room for your new ideas.
  2. Take a walkabout. Go discover new perspectives by talking to customers and industry insiders, and then challenge their unspoken assumptions. Develop a clearer understanding of the future drivers and constraints that will shape your market.
  3. Be comfortable with multiple realities. There is no one right. Pick a path to traverse and don’t be afraid of having to take a detour, being proven right, or hitting a dead-end being.

I’m not going to pretend that this is going to be comfortable, stressless, or pretty. But you’ll certainly come out the other side in better shape.

And, after all that’s what really counts.

Donald McMichacel teaches BE 261 – Starting a Small Business.
Follow him on Twitter at @DonaldMcMichael or Google+ at +Donald McMichael

 

How to Build Trust in the Business World

By , April 14, 2012 1:33 pm

7 Behaviors You Must Know

Last month’s post touch a raw nerve and set off a series of conversations. What did this? We talked about selling, in particular how to become more confident in our skin while selling.

It’s great to get feedback and have the post’s life extend beyond the pages of the blog. But, what I don’t want to be overshadowed is an assumed foundation point – when given a choice we deal with people that we know, like, and trust. Without these three working in your favor you’ll be in for a very long voyage.

It’s that simple.

So, it stands to reason that if we would like to make the sales process easier we should focus on strengthening our know/like/trust quotient.

Seems straight forward enough. We understand that to be ‘known’ we have to present, or be presented, to our target market. There’s tens of thousands of blog posts, articles, and books on business networking. ‘Like’ as well is also a fully covered topic. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we’ve been honing our like skill our entire lives. Just think back to all the times your mom decided that it would be nice if you spent more time with [fill-in relative of choice], encouraged you to go meet your new classmates, and the all time classic “play nice”. This leaves us with ‘trust’. This one’s not so straightforward.

Trust needs to be earned…
We’re all familiar with the first half of this mantra (see section title), but it’s the second half “and should come only after the passage of time” that we never hear. So, exactly what should we be doing to shorten this incubation period? Here are seven simple, everyday behaviors we can follow.

  1. Don’t waste others time. Be on time; show that you have a high level of respect for and commitment to other people. Prepare, failing to do so not only wastes their time, but is also a very loud signal that you don’t feel they are worth your time. Question for you. If you waste someone’s time how likely is it that they will trust you with something else that matters?
  2. Be present; listen with complete attention. Focused listening provides you with enough information to carry on a robust conversation. You’ll be able to ask pertinent questions, deepen the engagement, and possibly provide insight that helps them with a need or want.
  3. Share your knowledge. There’s no better way to earn trust than to help others succeed. An added bonus is that it makes you look like an expert.
  4. Honor your promises. Try your best to keep your promise, but if you realize that you can’t let them know early and have a Plan B teed-up. I the end, you might not be able to ultimately come through but you did honor the commitment and more importantly the relationship.
  5. Be big enough to admit when you don’t know. We would all love to be perceived as the ‘go to’ source. In reality admitting what we don’t know is a sign of strength. Why is this? It allows us to focus deeply on an area of knowledge, thus when we do speak people stop and listen. Doubt this, think about Warren Buffett and how it works for him when he talks about how to identify a strong business.
  6. Own your mistakes. In fact, do it one better own your mistakes and take responsibility for the consequences.
  7. Extend trust to others. All the above is great and you should certainly engrain them into your behavior. The most powerful behavior to earn trust, however, to is to extend it to others.

What do you do to ensure that you’ve done everything you can to establish trust?

 

Donald McMichacel teaches BE 261 – Starting a Small Business.
Follow him on Twitter at @DonaldMcMichael or Google+ at +Donald McMichael

BARKinistas Unleashed: Meet the Designers

By , April 13, 2012 1:20 pm

Here is our second BARKinistas Unleashed 2012 Pet Fashion Designer interview!

Coty Farkas headshot

Who: 
Coty Farkas, Creative director, designer extraordinaire, founder and owner of Doggy & Me & Cotyageous Designs.
Entrepreneur, Coty , lifestyle designer and artistic director brings over 20 years of  experience in fashion, interior and beauty industry organizing fashion shows, designing, marketing,  production, trade show representation and booth designing, event planning for profit and non-profit organizations, and selling to the wholesale and retail markets.

What:
More than a faux paw! Doggy & Me designs are matching fashion accessories for owners and their Furry love children.  The first collection is called Circolo de Luna, in Spanish and Italian this mean” circle moon” or” full moon”. Creativity, love and passion are ignited by the sun’s energizing  the full moon.  By adorning our pups In   jewelled feather harnesses, collars with matching leashes, bracelets, anklets, and other fashionable accessories, sporting brilliant vivid colours like; passionate red,(healing hearts) sunny yellow gold,  the purity of whites( both giving inspiration), and cool blues( rejuvenating the whole body mind and soul). Doggy and Me fashions have a spiritual quality .Wearing these creations energizes both owner and pets. Reminding us that anything and everything is possible, howling with  joy , embracing a child like fun and unconditional love that we have for our furry life partners.
In this  new age of consciousness   Tribe, Candy and Gypsy, Ice Queen and, Cirque   are  all part of Doggy& Me’s 2012” Circolo de Luna collection “ Look for  them!

Where:
Where can you find these masterpieces?
Certainly not in Target, Pet Smart, or Osh Gosh but rather in high end speciality shops, worldwide, high end e-commerce sites, airports, hotel gift shops. From Toronto, London, Paris, Budapest, Hong Kong, New York, Hawaii, Doggy & Me will be EVERYWHERE!!

Coty Farkas  coty farkas

When:
Doggy inspiration was born in 2007. With years of research and perfecting every aspect of the business, finding just the right materials, and manufacturers Doggy & Me  launches in the great year of 2012.

Why:
All animals should be cherished and adorned. My wish for animal parents is to feel the same excitement and pride I feel every time my feline princess strut’s her fancy collars and jewels, with her demur stride and hunched up back, I know she’s thinking she’s the bombe. Not only do I want all pets to feel special but, when the owner are walking with them, I want them to feel the same sense of exhilaration wearing my designs.
All my designed items are energized and blessed to bring happiness joy love and positive energy to the ones wearing them.

Experience in the Pet Fashion Design and Marketing certificate program:
I started the pet product and marketing certificate program in summer of 2011. The courses have been exceptional, in giving me the confidence, resources and know how to make my dreams a reality, accomplishing my goals, giving me the right tools to finally bring my products to market! My instructor Kris Lynch in running her own successful pet industry business ( Ruff- Doggie) has been instrumental in teaching all her students what to do and what not to do when running  their own pet  business. I am still taking the classes, however thanks to FIT and my associations from there. I feel fully confident to launch my business now!

coty farkas

BARKinistas Unleashed is free and open to the public, however you need a ticket to enter. Tickets are no longer available.

Strategies for Dealing with Deadbeat Clients

By , March 17, 2012 11:20 am

There’s a basic accounting and food retailer phrase called FIFO – first in / first out. Simple enough. The point of the phrase is to move the merchandise fast so it doesn’t spoil or lose value.

So how does this apply to a client that doesn’t pay their bill?

In general, the longer you keep a client like that in play, like trying to get your payment, the slower the rest of your business goes. That’s because you’re not focused on the present and future, but on the past and trying to recoup monies, save face, vent anger, and not feel victimized – or any combination of the above.

By doing the best you can as fast as you can to collect payment, you can move on quickly.

Here’s a couple of strategies:

A client tells you you’re incompetent and that’s why they’re not paying the bill. They know full well you’re not, it’s just an excuse.

Or they pay only part of a long overdue retainer and not the rest, promising to pay but you know they won’t.

Strategy #1:

Tell them you can’t make them pay the bill but you can guarantee there will be consequences if they don’t. One consequence is sending a notice that you are going to sue them. Usually when they see this notice, they pay up. If they don’t, then you can actually file the notice and sue (or arbitrate – but only if it’s worth the money, time and effort to make you whole).

Strategy #2:

Tell them they have until (set a deadline) to pay or you will sue. Or not release their work. Or not complete the assignment you’re currently working on. If they don’t pay by that date, stop work, and fire them. Let them come after you to get back their art work or anything else they own.

Some preventative strategies:

• Get a purchase order (theirs not yours)
• Don’t start work until you have a written contract
• Set payment terms upfront and try to a large percentage upfront: 50%-50%, 60%-40%, etc. (sometimes clients try to skip out on the last bill altogether)

Turn and run fast in the opposite direction when you hear or see:

• “There’s a lot more work down the road if this works out” or an alternate — “give it to us for free this time and there’s more work down the road”.

• “Let’s not get the lawyers involved.”

• A big neon sign across the potential client’s forehead that reads “A**hole” – trust your gut.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

 

5 Ways to Feel More Confident Selling

By , March 10, 2012 11:00 am

For as much as we humans love to share experiences and insights with each other (just checkout Twitter, Facebook, and your local water cooler), why does the thought of ‘selling’ conjure up nightmares for many?

  • Talking about yourself feels uncomfortable.
  • Public speaking opens you up to public criticism.
  • Haggling, it’s just not you.

But, at least you seem to be in control and after, at most, an hour it’s done. So we can handle them.

When we look at selling though, we just can’t see an end so we don’t even want to try. Instead we choose to hide behind tools like social media sites, glossy brochures, and others, hoping that our good work wins the day. At a time in the past this might of been enough to pay the bills, but in this day and age we all need to be at a minimum comfortable selling ourselves.

I know this fear
While I’ve been fortunate enough to have finance and engineering as my base disciplines it did little to develop my sales acumen. I was horrible at it and as a consequence turned away from sales because I didn’t understand selling. I thought it was about being pushy and arrogant. Something that you do to people.

The rub is that if you want to advance in business… heck life, you need to sell and in such a way that they want to help you succeed. So, somehow I had to change my perspective. This led to a voyage of self learning and understanding. What I ultimately discovered is that selling is helping people fill their needs and wants; a mutual win-win activity.

5 keys to becoming comfortable with selling

Focus on selling what you geek out about. The more you know about and love the value derived from your product, the easier it is to identify and convince those who can gain the most from buying it.

Pullback the curtain. Follow (replicate) the leaders. Discover how they overcome their hurdles. Yes, we all still and always will have them.

Control your inner dialogue. The greatest discovery of all time is that you become what you think about all the time. Focus on helping those who can benefit from your solution. The feeling experienced from truly helping someone is powerful.

Commit to lifelong learning. Here are three authors that can provide you with a solid base.

1) Brian Tracy
2) Zig Ziglar
3) Harry Mackay

Resolve to work hard.  This just might be the secret ingredient to most successes. I guess there’s good reason then that we heard it from our parents from day one.

What are you going to commit to doing?

 

Donald McMichacel teaches BE 261 Starting a Small Business.
Follow him on Google+ at +Donald McMichael

 

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