News

How To Deal With Competition As A Startup Business

Business is a competition. Competition is a business. As a startup, it may not seem like the competitive nature of the industry is a good thing for you. But actually, it is. Competition pushes you to be innovative, focused, and persevering. After all, every business in your niche will all be scrambling to have the bigger slice of the pie.

Rivals can make it harder to growth-hack.

But, of course, there’s the bad side to it. Rivals make it so much harder to get more customers and get more sales. Thankfully for you, you can learn from those that came before you. Some of which may even be your current competitors.

As Global Resources explained in its piece on Beating the Competition, “Having a challenger right on your heels pushes you to run faster, work harder and think deeper. It drives innovation, inspires perseverance and builds team spirit. Plus, competition just makes the game more interesting and a whole lot more fun.”

Finding a competitive edge against other businesses entails hard work. But you can follow these simple steps to help you get on the right track. 

1. Find your strengths and build on them.

All products have their own strengths — something you offer better than your competition. If your wares don’t have any leverage over other brands then you have to go back to the drawing board.

Note that finding your product or service’s edge and capitalizing on them may spell the difference between bankruptcy or record-breaking sales.

Instead of trying to play your opponent’s game on their home court — imitating what makes them sell — why not focus on your own advantages? Put your efforts on improving your selling points than trying to copy other brands’ assets. This is a more efficient way of spending your time and resources. Emphasize on these and make sure your consumers know what makes your brand a better choice.

As Oleg Shchegolev, co-founder and CEO of SEMrush, would say, “Stop watching the competition and think for yourself.”

2. Keep tabs on your competition.

You shouldn’t copy the competition, but you shouldn’t disregard them either. Focusing on your brand and your consumers is your top priority, but knowing what your rivals are doing will help you plot your next steps.

Are they offering a new innovation? Applying a new strategy? Will these work for you? These are questions you should be asking yourself. You can’t get ahead of your competition if you have no idea what they’re doing.

As for your brand, being a startup may work to your advantage as big companies will probably not give you as much attention. You can go ninja on them and take over their market share without them realizing.

Additionally, Global Resources notes that “there is plenty to learn from the successes and failures of a worthy adversary.”

Simply put: Don’t lose sleep over them, but never ignore them.

3. Monitor your numbers.

How will you know if you’re now biting off a bigger piece of the market share pie if you don’t monitor your numbers? Businesses are all about numbers — costs, sales, revenue, prices, market shares, etc — so it’s important to keep track of your movement. Regardless if it’s a gain, and all the more if it’s a loss.

Especially for startups, knowing where you stand in the market, how far your consumer reach is, and what are the costs to achieve your goals are very important. Having concrete figures will also motivate you to improve them.

As Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur would put it: “Business is a game of inches where the smallest advancement or advantage can mean the difference between winning and losing.”

4. Value your customers.

Who is your business for, if not for the consumers? It’s not enough that you create a product that will make their lives easier, you should keep customer service as your top priority. Wanting to solve their problems easily and keeping them happy is what will make them stick with your brand.

Also, make sure that you listen to their suggestions, consider their ideas, and assure that you’re hearing them out. This could even be your competitive edge, what will make your brand endearing to customers.

Take for example, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. In a short but very impactful social media conversation with a Tesla user, he reassured him that the company listens and cares about its consumers. Within 24 minutes, Musk has replied to a suggestion by the consumer, confirming that they will be implementing his requests in an upcoming update.

Talk about valuing the consumer.

Remember, no startup company started with the biggest consumer base in the market right off the bat. Every single business started from the bottom and worked their way up — Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, Virgin Atlantic. However, if you believe in your product, you have a concrete plan, a well-researched strategy, and the will to work eight days a week, 25 hours a day, it’ll be hard not to see your startup succeed and beat competition.

“For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to other people’s lives,” Sir Richard Branson, business magnate and founder and CEO of Virgin Group.

No comments
Jeremy WebbHow To Deal With Competition As A Startup Business
read more

5 Ways to Use Automation for Your E-Commerce Business

Growing your e-commerce business can be done in many ways. You can find new niche products, hire influencers to become brand ambassadors, or launch a new ad campaign.

How to Find Improvements

If you haven’t used any of these strategies yet, then you still have truckloads of work ahead of you. But before pursuing these frontiers, you should take a step back and look for opportunities to improve what you already have.

Implementing automation, for example, is a great way to boost the efficiency of specific facets of your e-commerce business. It will help you boost traffic to your website, streamline your sales funnel, accelerate your lead nurturing process — all while doing less work.

In this post, we’ll tackle the top five ways to leverage automation for e-commerce businesses.

1. Automate Abandoned Cart Emails

Every online business needs an email marketing strategy for lead generation and nurturing. By regularly sending relevant information through newsletters, you can maintain brand awareness, build recurring traffic to your site, and spread promotions that can spike sales.

Email marketing platforms.

With modern email marketing platforms, you can easily build automated workflows that schedule messages based on user activity or important dates. A common example would be an abandoned cart email, which is triggered whenever a user abandons their cart or the checkout page in your online store.

Let them know what is in their carts.

An abandoned cart email usually contains the items left in the user’s cart, along with a link to a checkout page where the purchase can be finalized. This will enable you to squeeze more sales from users who may have left for various reasons, such as lost internet connection, lack of available funds, and so on.

You can also depend on integrated features in e-commerce platforms to make abandoned cart recovery a breeze. BigCommerce, for example, has the “Abandoned Cart Saver” engine that works on a 100 percent  automated basis. Their data reveals that, when done correctly, it recovers around 15 percent of lost sales for sellers on average.

2. Automate Reviews

If there’s one thing that can convince your audience to buy from you, it’s the review or testimonial of a previous customer.

Customer feedback.

Another way to utilize email remarketing is to automate the collection of customer feedback. Again, you can fall back to a platform like MailChimp for this strategy, which can help you send or schedule automated messages after customers make a purchase.

If you use this, they really will come.

Over time, customer reviews will amass naturally without your firsthand involvement. You normally find them in social media networks, review sites like Yelp, or in the comments section of your own blog.

3. Automate Inventory Management

Inventory management is one of the most tedious aspects of running an e-commerce business. But by integrating your e-commerce platform with an accounting software like Quickbooks, you can easily automate important tasks, such as keeping track of purchase orders, updating the number of products in stock, or calculating the real-time valuation of your inventory.

4. Automate Invoicing

Requesting for payments can be frustrating, especially if you have to manually create and send every single invoice to your customers. The good news is, many payment and accounting platforms today allow you to create recurring invoices within minutes. Apart from Quickbooks, Due, and PayPal are other payment gateway you can use to create automated invoices.

Automated invoicing is also integrated in popular e-commerce plaforms such as BigCommerce. You simply need to integrate the right plugins, which would enable you to automate invoices as well as receipts after orders. To learn more about these e-commerce platforms and their features, you can refer to the infographic below:

Image Source: Lodlois

5. Automate Your Customer Support

Today, the term “AI” or Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a buzzword — and it doesn’t have to be about voice-activated digital assistants or virtual coaches that can monitor your vital signs.

With a simple tool like It’s Alive, you can easily develop your own Facebook chatbot without writing a single line of code. It can help you build conversations that are directed by what the user types or clicks from the available choices.

A simple approach is to send users a link to your FAQ page whenever they type keywords like “how” or “help.” Sure, automated interactions may not always lead to a sale. But at the very least, you’re able to provide assistance to every user without having a live agent on standby.

At this point, you should now have a deeper understanding on how to use automation for e-commerce businesses. But don’t rest just yet; you still have a long way to go before you can call your e-commerce endeavor a success. To keep the ball rolling, check out this post for more ways to boost sales in your online store.

What automation tips or tools will you recommend to other readers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

2 comments
Jeremy Webb5 Ways to Use Automation for Your E-Commerce Business
read more

7 Books That Passionate Entrepreneurs Need To Read In 2018

As a kid I spent my nights with a flashlight under the blankets, reading until way past bedtime.

Don’t let the former way of teaching knock the joy out of reading for you.

But by the age of 13, my boring English-class booklists knocked the joy out of reading for me. My appetite for books disappeared, and I devoted my nerd-energy to the internet. I went from reading every book I could get my hands on, to 1-2 books a year (maximum).

Last year.

Last year I aimed to get back into reading for three reasons:

  1. I like reading (as long as it’s not for a class I don’t want to be in).
  2. I love learning and discovering strategies, tactics, and lifehacks. Youtube tutorials are great and all—but they don’t give you the depth that’s possible from a good book.
  3. The average CEO reads 4-5 books a month. If I want The Uncommoners Club to be a company that helps above-average business owners…I need to be one.

So I set a goal to read 24 books in 2017.  (I know…it’s not “above average,” but it’s a start! Baby steps.)

The books I’m drawn to have helped me get to the next level in my business and personal life. 

Here are my favorites from 2017. They range in themes, but they all made this list because:

  • They made an immediate impact on my approach to life or work. 
  • I’ve recommended them to my friends and clients.
  • I’m excited to read them again in the future.

7 Books That Made An Impact On Me In 2017

1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

In 2016 I discovered I had a tumor in my hip. My first thought was: “is this the thing that kills me?” When I learned it was benign, I became more anxious. A voice inside of me started screaming: “if you’re going to go through something so shitty, do not come out unchanged.” 

I felt an obligation to use the experience to make a radical change. And I started to obsess about the type of impact I want to make on the world in the time I have left. 

I was at an event telling all this to my friend Misha Berveno, and he recommended the book, When Breath Becomes Air. 

The author is an ambitious neurosurgeon who spent the greater part of his life striving towards his career goals. At 36, he discovers he has Stage IV lung cancer. 

Kalanithi had been motivated to become a doctor “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life.” He decided to write down his thoughts on what makes life worthwhile in the face of death. 

It’s a gorgeous book.

Kalanithi’s career path is similar in intensity to the entrepreneurial journey. His thoughts on mortality and meaning crystallized some of the sentiments I felt after my own personal health scare.

*Read this book IF: 

You want to make sure that your business and focus aligns with your life’s real purpose.

                                                       _________________________________

2. Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

I started 2017 recovering from surgery on my hip. I thought this book would be a good fit for me as I tried to “rise strong” after over 3 months of mostly laying horizontal. I got much more than I bargained for. This book shed light on some of the baggage I’d been hiding away since childhood. 

The book comes with a 3-part process for “rising strong:” They are: 

  • Recognizing your problems (The Reckoning), 
  • Digging into these difficult stories—and developing a deeper understanding (The Rumble),
  • Transforming thoughts and beliefs (The Revolution). 

The book gave me encouragement and tools to tackle some of my issues for the first time. It opened my eyes to some difficulties I’d kept buried way down.

*Read this book IF: 

You don’t want the uncomfortable parts of your life holding you back from realizing your potential.

                                                            __________________________

3. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

This is a tiny, illustrated book. But don’t let the size fool you: it’s extremely well written and packed with insights and examples. 

I find myself thumbing through this book regularly. Especially when we’re explaining a strategy to our consulting clients and need the perfect example to illustrate our thinking.

*Read this book IF: 

You want to internalize key marketing principles that can be applied to any new marketing trend or channels.

                                                    ___________________________________

4. The Metronome Effect: The Journey To Predictable Profit by Shannon Byrne Susko.

I listened to this audiobook twice: once in November 2016 right after surgery…falling in and out of drug-induced sleep. And once for real in 2017. 

It’s written by Shannon Susko‚ a Canadian entrepreneur who co-founded, served as CEO, and led the sale of two companies in less than six years. Susko wrote this book in a unique way. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, she shares the resources and insights that she collected and used to build her companies.

The result is a whole toolbox of proven methods that CEOs can use to grow their companies.

*Read this book IF: 

You’re a startup owner with big aspirations (eg. a multi-million dollar exit, or going public). This book will give you methods for bringing consistency to your progress.

                                                     __________________________________

5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King.

Writing is an important skill to master—especially for entrepreneurs, marketers, or leaders. This book is written by a master. 

Steven King’s successes have earned him the right to preach about his craft—but he doesn’t. Instead, this book is written like you were sitting in a bar speaking to him. A good chunk is about his life and work before he made it big—and what it took to get people to want to read his writing. 

When my wife reads a funny book she’ll burst into laughter often. I, however, have never been a “laugh out loud” reader. That said, King’s irreverent humour had me spitting out my coffee in more than one place. 

Also, King does a great job of weaving in the personal elements of his life through the book (including his addictions and a near-death accident). These elements made the book more human and didn’t take away from the utility of the book.

*Read this book IF: 

You have a content marketing plan for 2018 and want to be a more compelling writer.

                                                      __________________________________

6. The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales by Anthony Iannarino.

At The Uncommoners Club we want to help thousands of passionate entrepreneurs get their business to the next level. We do that by developing marketing strategies, campaigns, training, and resources they can use right now to attract brand evangelizers. 

December marked the one year anniversary of Fresh-Share, our Instagram marketing tool for small business owners. While I’m proud of our progress, I’m impatient about our speed of growth.

So in late 2017 I enlisted the help of a business coach. I wanted help identifying and filling the gaps in the way we run our company. The Lost Art of Closing was the first book he recommended, and holy crap is it good. 

I’ve been a business-owner over 9 years.

I’ve been a business-owner for over nine years, but I’m embarrassed to admit that my sales strategy was basically non-existent. The book breaks the sales process down into 10 “commitments.” These are commitments are logical, but often overlooked. 

Iannarino’s philosophy.

Iannarino’s philosophy is that “selling is not something that you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone and with someone.” This is helpful for people (like me) who hate the idea of turning into a pushy sales person. This book shows entrepreneurs how to become valuable strategic partners from the start of the sales process.

*Read this book IF:

You want to be a strategic partner for your clients, and you need to hone your selling skills.
​                                                       __________________________________

7. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin.

Before I read this book all I knew about Ben Franklin was that he was a Founding Father—and he did a pretty nutty experiment involving a kite, a key, and a lightning-storm.

Here’s what I discovered: he was a self-made polymath who didn’t follow the crowd. He made a massive impact on the world by learning a lot and giving other people an opportunity to shine. Overall he’s someone I want to emulate.

I thought Franklin’s approach to building a secret network of mastermind groups was So. Damn. Cool. These small groups were dedicated to personal and professional improvement—and they were so successful that they influenced law. 

I’ve run a few mastermind groups…but nothing like this. Is a mastermind group something you might excel with? Could you start such a group?

I also found his daily schedule interesting as a tool to promote consistent personal growth. But my favorite part of this book was that it was written by Franklin himself. That gives you the ability to peer inside his mind and discover how he formulated and thought about his principles, 200 years after his death. 

Note: Franklin penned this book in the 1770’s. When I listened to the audiobook I had no problem following along. But when I read excerpts of the printed version, I found the “old-timey” writing slowed down my comprehension. Though this several centuries past format will slow you down at first — if you can spare the time — you will find the old-language usage quite mind expanding and soon your reading will speed up.

*Read this book IF:

You want to become a more effective leader or learner.

                                                        ________________________________

This week I’m finalizing my book list for 2018. 

Please let us know your favorite book from this list. What is your favorite book on marketing, strategy, business, leadership and personal growth? Do you like to read a variety of books as listed above, or do you prefer to stay on one topic? 

No comments
Jeremy Webb7 Books That Passionate Entrepreneurs Need To Read In 2018
read more

Different Types of Finance for Business

Starting or running a small business can be a challenge in many different ways. There are so many different things that you have to think about, one of which is how to obtain funding for your venture. There are various options you can choose from when it comes to finance for your business although eligibility will depend on a number of factors.

How do you plan to repay?

The type of funding that will best suit your needs will vary based on your situation and circumstances, the amount of money you need, and how you plan to repay the money. For instance, some small businesses may be fine with a credit card while others may be looking for a business line of credit. It is important to do your research in order to determine the most suitable option for you.

Some of the popular options available

So, what sort of credit and finance should you choose for your business? Well, you need to assess your needs and those of your business as well as looking at your eligibility for the different types of finance that are available.

Some of the popular options for small businesses include:

  • Company credit cards:
    There are many different types of company credit cards that you can choose from, which means that you should have no problem finding one that suits your needs. This includes cards such as reward based cars, cash back cards, and interest free cards. The credit limit you are able to get will depend on your status so you will need to ensure that the maximum amount is going to be sufficient for your needs. A favorable interest rate is also important if you will not always be able to pay off the bill on a monthly basis. 

  • Line of credit:
    Another option that you can go for is a business line of credit, which many find offers a flexible and convenient form of borrowing. This is ideal if you want access to funding as and when you need it. It also means that you won’t have to worry about running into serious cash flow issues that could impact on your business operations. Interest rates on this type of finance can vary but they are often lower than alternative options such as credit cards.

  • Business loans:
    A third option is to take out a business loan, which is a loan for a specified amount of money and is repair over a set period of time on a monthly basis. Again, borrowing levels can vary based on your credit status and circumstances. You will also need to present a business plan to the bank if you are looking for a business loan for a new business or for expansion. Always make sure you check the rate of interest charged on different business loans so that you can get the best deal possible.

With the wide range of business financing options available, it is possible to find a product that is perfectly suited to your needs. You can then avoid issues with cash flow and finance as well as benefiting from an affordable means of borrowing.

No comments
Jeremy WebbDifferent Types of Finance for Business
read more

3 Ways to Future-Proof Your Startup against an AI-Powered Business Environments

During the 2017 edition of the Startup Grind Conference, Tinder’s co-founder and CEO Sean Rad hinted at using artificial intelligence (AI) to help bring the next wave of innovation at Tinder, the world’s largest dating app. Rad predicts that AI will soon take over the dating world, enabling you to meet with a compatible partner, get a table at your favorite restaurant, and even help you buy movie tickets – all without the usual searching, scrolling, and swiping on the app.

AI-powered dating is just one of the many mind-boggling applications of AI that promises to change our world.

Just two decades ago, only a few would have imagined that smart virtual assistants and self-driving cars would become part of daily life. Thanks to advances in natural language processing, machine learning, and other elements of artificial intelligence (AI), our lives are quickly becoming something out of an 80’s sci-fi blockbuster.

Plus, with the likes of Tinder, Google, Microsoft, and other big players investing billions into AI, the playing field is rapidly evolving, even for smaller startups.

When implemented correctly, AI can be a huge game-changer for startups, even for those without huge R&D budgets. From improvements in workforce efficiency to cost-cutting and lean operations within the company, AI will be a significant differentiating factor for startups within the next few years.

So, if you’re looking to give your startup a fighting chance, here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Examine Existing Processes

If you aren’t using any AI-based technologies yet, don’t buy into the hype and bring it on board before understanding what AI can actually do for your startup. Identify specific ways you can bring in AI into existing product and service offerings to help improve efficiency, solve specific problems, and add overall value to your business process.

A good way to start is by organizing all your data in a way that it would be easy for an AI-powered tool to digest. Anthony Boldin, a serial entrepreneur and founder of the online initiative, Enddaylightsavingtime.org, advices startups to use data from ad campaigns, CRM platforms, social media campaigns, onsite traffic analytics, and email lists to build a data reservoir that can be worked on by intelligent tools when the startup decides to bring AI on board.   

2. Experiment

Another great way to prepare your startup for AI is by experimenting with different AI offerings on your startup on a small scale. Pankaj Goyal, vice president of the AI Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, believes trial and error is an important stage for smaller companies that are preparing to make AI a part of the organization. Startups should try different setups to identify the right combinations of human capital, relevant data infrastructure, mentors, and other organizational parameters to make AI work.

Plus, with a ton of free and open source AI tools and platforms on the internet, you don’t have to dent your budget while experimenting. And you won’t even have to go very far for these. Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are constantly putting out frameworks and platforms to help smaller players develop AI-powered platforms.

For instance AT&T, one of the newest entrants in the AI space, recently launched Acumos, an AI platform that enables developers find, share, and connect to AI models.

3. Invest in Personal and Team Education

The best tools – even the free ones – require you and your team to be familiar with the tech. This means continuous education and practice, most of which you can get via online resource portals, workshops, and professional AI courses.

Udacity, the online learning portal, offers a huge collection of free and paid learning programs in machine learning, deep learning, and other AI fundamentals. Columbia University, in association with edX, also offer online AI courses and lectures that can be helpful for startups that are thinking about integrating AI. Coinzy is an amazing resource to learn about Bitcoin and learn to invest in you and your teams future. But stay up with education. Inspire yourself.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, remember to keep an eye out for developments in the field of AI. From predictive analytics and smart chatbots to cryptocurrencies trading, AI is spreading across all industries. Therefore, whatever industry your startup is in, it’s only a matter of time before the AI-powered disruption becomes real for you.

Even if your startup isn’t planning on adopting any area of AI just yet, staying in the know will give you an edge in the future whenever you decide to jump in.

No comments
Jeremy Webb3 Ways to Future-Proof Your Startup against an AI-Powered Business Environments
read more

Why Businesses Should Consider Social Media Engagement

Let me start this article by asking you a very simple question. Have you seen anyone with no social media accounts in today’s world? If yes, how many people? I believe you can count them on your fingers. Today, almost everyone has multiple social media accounts, especially younger groups of people.

According to the statistics, around 2.45 billion people are active on various social media platforms today with the Facebook far ahead of other social media platforms with over two billion active users. However, there are many other social media platforms with millions of active users, which cannot be ignored as well.

The brands that are not active on social media platforms are missing out on plenty of things. There are plenty of companies that have already started being active on social media platforms, and these companies are reaping a lot of benefits from their social media engagement.

Top five reasons why businesses must engage in social media platforms.

There are plenty of reasons for businesses to engage on social media platforms. If we list all of them out, the list could cross over 100. For that very reason, I am not going to list out all minor and major reasons for businesses to be active on social media platforms. We’re only listing out five top reasons for businesses to be active on social media platforms.

Here are the five of the top reasons why businesses must consider social media engagement.

  1. Referral visitors.

The social media active users follow their favorite celebrities, brands, and experts on social media platforms. The influencer marketing is so popular today because anyone with a good content and offer has an opportunity to build a fan base on their social media accounts.

The brands that come up with a right social media marketing strategy have an opportunity to reach and retain loyal followers. If their fan base is satisfied with their products and services, they could well share the page with their friends and loved ones.

In fact, the study shows that around 71 percent of the customers who have had a pleasant experience with the specific brands on social media platforms share recommend the brand to their loved ones.

  1. Enhance customer relationship.

So much depends on customer relationship in today’s world of intense competition. The big companies are not only focusing on reaching out to new customers by doing Facebook marketing, Twitter advertising, and so on, but they are also doing their best to retain their existing customer base.

With social media platforms, the companies can provide a top notch customer service to their customers, and provide instant answers to their queries. Having a strong relationship with existing customers will not only help in retaining your existing customers, but it will also increase your brand reputation, as they are likely to tell about your brands to others.

  1. Crisis management.

There is no guarantee that business will always have a smooth run in the world that is full of uncertainty. There are many cases of business where the bad news or event has ruined the overall business operations.

The businesses who are active on social media platforms can somewhat manage the crisis. The social media platforms are the part of a person’s daily life now. The people almost immediately share their happiness and dissatisfaction with their social media accounts.

And, the people are also likely to contact the pages directly with their queries and complaints. The companies who are very active on various social media platforms can get the direct feedback and opinions from their angry customers. They can detect and monitor most of the negative reviews and comments circulated on social media platforms.

When they get the direct feedback and customers’ opinions, they can respond to their problems in an effective manner. They may not control all the damage done, but they can certainly minimize the damage by responding to negative comments on social media platforms.

  1. Lead generation.

The social media platforms will help in reaching out to potential clients and bringing them to your lead page. According to the statistics, around 50 million small businesses are there on the Facebook, and around four million of them pay the Facebook for advertisements.

It’s because social media platforms, such as Facebook can help the businesses to reach whom they want to reach with their ads. It allows targeting the people based on age, demographics, interest, and so on.

If you promote the relevant content on social media platforms, they will visit your website. If you have an enticing lead page, there is a good chance that there would be a conversion as well.

  1. Content analysis.

Not all content is a great content. This is true, but we sometimes perceive that every piece of content that we generate is awesome. With a social media platform, you can actually test the quality of your content.

There are analytical tools that are offered by social media platforms that allow the publisher to see the engagement in the post. The great content will get a very nice engagement while other content may not get that much engagement. This helps the brand to analyze their content.

Conclusion

The social media engagement is not for gaining competitive advantage anymore because many brands are already very active on various social media platforms. The study shows that over 85% of the American companies with more than 100 employees are active on Twitter.

The companies are so concerned about social media engagement now that they are spending a lot of money on mixing artificial intelligence with their social media accounts to be more active on social media platforms. If your business is not yet active on social media platforms, you should hurry and start being active on social media platforms.

No comments
Jeremy WebbWhy Businesses Should Consider Social Media Engagement
read more

5 Cloud-Based Services Every Entrepreneur Should Try

Entrepreneur or no, being fully updated on technology is a must today. I mean there is so much going on with new inventions that you can’t just sit there and let it go, or do nothing.

One way to go about this is to try an IT company to meet all your requirements. The Syntex IT Support experts will help you remodel your data, and secure it. But, the other way around is to have an insight as to what you will need and how.

Why Opt For Cloud Computing?

I have thousands of requests and proposals going on and I am able to meet all of them, without losing a single piece. Guess why? I don’t maintain a diary, but yes, I do have my to-do list on hand to not forget or miss anything. But earlier in my business, that was not the case. I had to sometimes triple-check everything, not only for myself, but for my clients and customers too.

Despite having  five virtual assistants, things used to get messy very quickly for me. Then, one day, while visiting a friend of mine, things changed for me. He is an IT specialist. He knew all the ins-and-outs to play it safe with every technology. Now, I had a small business company, and the IT needs seemed like they were not less than any big business out there.

What Were My solutions?

Yes, I had to see it happen. I had to have proof Options were many, but I needed to go for the best. Though, I have worked for more than 72 hours a week there are times, when I too can’t fly to the office just for a small file.

I needed things to streamline quickly. Then, the cloud-based services came to my rescue. So, I gathered up my solutions with a call to the IT Support Company in London to smoothen things out.

It’s Quick And Easy!

I got all the means to boost the support for my company within a weeks’ time. And, that aligned everything with a touch of technology. Being up and beyond my game is very important to me.

I had to get into the thick-and-thin of things. Well, that’s the basics of being successful, is it not? I won’t just take you through my joy-ride of what I found. I would like you – as an entrepreneur – to have something special that you can offer to your clients.

Here Is What I’ve Found

With all this technology, I am not only able to do what I am best at. I am now going to launch my own app and offer my services with a touch of a finger. Other than that, I am able to:

  •        Store, backup and recover my data.
  •        I am able to let my team host websites and blogs.
  •        My team and clients can stream audio and video.
  •        My company offers packages and marketing hacks on demand.
  •        I can analyze data with outlines and make forecasts.

Technology Shift Aids My Resources Better

Like I said, technology is the best weapon to conquer your market, and also to transform your brand. I am able to manage cost and productivity on a global scale without any second thoughts. This helps me to meet the needs of my clients more efficiently.

There are three types of cloud-based services, and depending on your needs, you can choose from:

  •        IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-service
  •        PaaS – Platform as a service
  •        SaaS – Software as a service

The Best Cloud-Based Apps You Can’t Miss

My personal favs have been Google Apps, Skype, and Amazon. Of course, there are more, but I prefer to recommend the best, and the ones I have personally used. Here are the top five I recommend to all.

Google Apps

I know you all are familiar with the mail, docs, and instant messaging. But in cloud-based services, Google has got more to offer. You can choose from a selection of new applications that cover every aspect of online business liberty.

To manage my accounting, I have used Google’s App Marketplace. This allows me to select a web-based software which handles my accounting, document management, CRM, and data backup.

But, maybe you don’t need any of these ready-to-use applications. Don’t worry. You can still get a custom Google app, specially designed by an IT company.

Amazon EC2

It is one of the best known cloud-based services.  Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a high-end computing muscle. You get virtual gears on Amazon’s Xen-built virtualization podium.

It has been by far the best substitute for computing infrastructure for bonus computing bandwidth. Amazon offers different packages, which are cost-effective with standard windows server.

Skype

It costs around 1.2 cents per minute or less sometimes to make any international call, group conference, or even video calls. This helps with virtual office work and virtual assistants who can always reach are always me. We are opting for extending Skype to our PBX via Skype Connect, without any added costs.

Savvis

One of the best sources of cloud-based services is Savvis. This helps to take care of many things that can be missed. I have recommended and used Savvis for many start-up clients. There is zero downtime for online services and computing infrastructures for B2B clients.

It has helped us to secure and set-up:

  •        Project hosting.
  •        Enterprise – rank content management.
  •        Accomplish e-commerce solutions.
  •        Tackle business connection development.
  •        And, software-as-a-service technology.  

You can also use Savvis’ easy-to-use Symphony edge to accomplish extended cloud infrastructure without any doubt.

Dropbox

This is a strong backup-and-storage service with 2GB of free space. This is free, for those who sign-up as a new customer. Other than that, you can also selectively share your files by folder for every different client.

Now, if you look at it, two gigabytes is enough to store crucial configuration files, and documents. For only $9.99 you’ll get 50GB space to save data every month. The most accommodating feature of Dropbox is that it goes with most operating systems and mobiles. iPad is able to effectively function with it.

Join The Club!

We are about to close 2017 and move on to 2018. You will want to move your business data to cloud-based services for better and enhanced efficiency. Gone are the days when typewriters or manual entries were considered the only choice. Search cloud-based services and let us know how that service affects your overall performance.

No comments
Jeremy Webb5 Cloud-Based Services Every Entrepreneur Should Try
read more

12 Lessons For Entrepreneurs To Carry Into 2018

These 12 lessons come from notes I’ve made each week in 2017 and I suspect they will be just as valuable in 2018.

The other 40 observations I made for myself are interesting, but these 12 have shaped my thinking on family, inkl, mentoring, my social performance in supporting veterans and women founders and being an entrepreneur with more windups than exits.

1: Thinking publicly is no longer optional.

As I wrote last week, to think publicly means you place your ideas into the hands of others. The underlying motive is to learn as quickly as possible and then move an idea forward or to kill it and move one.

I do this by writing a blog each week. The precision of thought that writing provides me is immense.

And writing is just one example. Many of my colleagues and mentees have found the courage in 2017 to share big issues with their team in order to increase solution surface area. And the results have surprised them (in a good way).

Find a method that works for you. The crowd’s wisdom has never been more abundant and you have nothing to lose.

2: Investor expectations on traction are very different to two years ago.

The funding cycle for consumer technology ventures is maturing. Capital is available but it’s increasingly expensive in the face of soft traction. Two years ago $30K in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) would start a conversation with Series A investors, today $100K MRR is where the conversation begins.

Seed investors also require a lot more than a 10-slide vapourware pitch deck to get excited. And those investors who once specialised in Series A investments, for the most part, have moved further upstream and now invest in Series B and C.

The reality for entrepreneurs is that the rate at which a business can capture monetizable value for its customers is the main game.

3: Scenario planning is your best friend (in all circumstances).

It’s dangerous to assume people think about scenarios the same way. No matter the situation, be it a major decision or tactical campaign, there is always a best-case, worst-case and a few mid-case scenarios that could reasonably eventuate.

Spend time working through and agreeing the three actions that apply to each scenario with your team. It will reveal blind spots, establish a consistent level of awareness across the team and minimise stress caused by knee-jerk reactions to scenarios you could have foreseen.

4: Cherish life. It ends unexpectedly.

When you think about someone close to you, someone who brings value to your life, express your gratitude in that moment. Don’t wait. You might not get another opportunity.

5: Being “venture-backed” isn’t a business model.

On four separate occasions this year I was stunned to learn that a product that I expected to be paid (and I was ready to pay for) was free because the company was “venture-backed.” In each case, this message came from a front-line salesperson.

This turn of phrase means that a company has raised money from investors and is focused on growing the number of people who use their service and considers generating revenue a secondary priority. This can make sense when building a marketplace business model where you monetise people’s engagement (like Facebook does with advertisers).

If this isn’t the case, one of two bigger problems is lurking below the surface.

The first problem:

It may be that the company doesn’t know how or lacks the confidence to price its product.

The second problem:

It may be that the company has become reliant on raising capital from investors in order to survive. Either way, neither one is conducive to survival so why buy from them?

6: Understanding incentives is 80 percent of forging great partnerships.

In other words, if you don’t have an intimate understanding of what’s in it for the other party you’re trying to forge a partnership with, there will be no partnership. You might establish a transactional relationship but the value to be limited to that relationship and it probably won’t grow.

The key is to find ways to make your partners shine.

7: Growth changes everything but it’s rarely linear.

The reason that growth isn’t (often) linear is that it requires a venture to undertake continuous experimentation. Each experiment is designed to edge a product closer to its ‘fit’ with a target market. More experiments fail than succeed until one day the unrelenting focus on optimizing a collection of processes or features hits the mark and a ten-year-in-the-making-overnight-success is born.

Growth changes everything but thinking it will just happen with the current version of a product is a mistake.

8: “In the spirit of radical candor….” was the most productive sentence-starter of the year.

Radical Candor was published by Kim Scott earlier this year and it was a game changer. It means to challenge directly while showing you care personally. It also means that you will say what is true despite the information’s potential to cause a stir or the information not sounding PC. It’s a simple construct and one I’ve used it at least twice a week this year. I also introduced it to our team at inkl.

Radical Candor has helped me deliver and receive difficult feedback in 2017. And in 100 percent of cases, the outcome was better than I could have expected. If this book is new to you, get it here or listen to it here.

9: Trust is a competitive advantage.

There is only one way to develop trust between a product and the person using it: Continuously deliver on the expectation you set with them. Achieve trust and people will talk about it.

Break trust and people will talk about it.

It’s your call.

10: Beware the shadow cast by disrupters.

Every leader creates a shadow within their organization. Like children taking cues from their parents, employees take cues from their leaders, in most cases more than leaders realise.

Leaders who seek to change the status quo create a ‘disrupters shadow’. There are those leaders who espouse a do-whatever-it-takes attitude and those who consider every option but act after considering risk. The latter may still proceed with an “if it won’t break the organization, then just do it” approach but the difference is they are sufficiently self-aware to make that call.

Uber is an easy target for the do-whatever-takes camp. To be fair, they had to fracture deeply entrenched, multigenerational taxi cartels in order to change personal transport as we know it. But a lack of self-awareness has introduced dire risk into its business which could have been avoided.

If you’re looking to join a high-growth venture, look for evidence of self-aware leaders. They will flex their style according to the situation, admit mistakes and consistently practice a growth mindset.

11: The soul of a product is as important as its function.

A new feature might magically unveil a previously unavailable convenience.

A personal touch that a founder makes to thank you for joining their movement might surprise you.

Or it might be an elegant effect that helps express your reaction or makes you say, “that’s cool.”

Each of these is examples of how the soul of a product captures a person’s imagination. In 2017 it was interesting but not enough to simply save people time. This trend will no doubt continue in 2018 as product managers fight for people’s attention.

12: History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.

This quote, often attributed to Mark Twain, says it all. Somewhere in our history, there is evidence of an idea or an outcome that can accelerate learning and decision making. There is immense value in examining history. If you genuinely believe an idea is novel, there’s a better than average chance you haven’t used Google properly.

Closing Thought

At this time last year we began winding up AirShr. As each member of that team underwent their version of reinvention, I committed to doubling down on learning and optimizing for time as my two core priorities for 2017. That decision has paid off in spades and I plan to continue that pursuit in 2018.

So before I get into my 10 objectives in 2018, what are your key lessons from 2017?

No comments
Jeremy Webb12 Lessons For Entrepreneurs To Carry Into 2018
read more

Finding the Right Credit Card for Your Startup

When you are starting up a business, one of the many things that you have to think about is finance. This is not just funding to start your business but also to cover costs in order to avoid cash flow problems, which can be an issue for many startups.

Small business credit cards.

Choosing the best small business credit card can be something of a minefield, as there are so many different products on the market these days. However, making sure you do your research and assess the needs of your business will make it easier to make the right choice. You can then enjoy the convenience of having a revolving line of credit while also benefiting in other ways.

What are the options for small businesses?

There are a number of different credit card options available for small business. Making sure you familiarize yourself with the different cards available will make it easier for you to find the ideal one for your needs.

Some of the main credit card types include:

  • Travel rewards cards: Travel rewards cards are very popular with the owners of startups and small businesses. This is because they can help to slash the cost of travel, which is ideal for those that have to travel around as part of their business. Depending on the card you choose, there are various different aspects of travel that you can save on from flights and accommodation to a wide range of travel related services.

  • Interest free credit cards: While all credit cards offer a short interest free period, there are some 0 percent purchase cards that allow you to enjoy a far longer period of interest free credit. This is only on purchases made with the card, so you should avoid making cash transactions. However, as long as you repay the balance in full by the end of the longer period you won’t have to pay any interest at all.

  • Cash back credit cards: If you want to earn rewards but you don’t feel that you will really benefit from travel rewards, you can opt for a cash back credit card. This will enable you to enjoy the convenience of a credit card for your business while also earning money back for what you spend on the card. The cash back amounts are only small but they can quickly add up if you use your company credit card on a regular basis. Make sure you compare the level of cash back that is paid, as this can vary from one card provider to another.

With the right credit card for your startup, you can help to avoid cash flow problems and enjoy increased convenience when it comes to your spending. In addition, you can look forward to additional perks such as those mentioned above. All you need to do is look into the different cards and work out which of these is likely to benefit you and your business before you make your application. ​

No comments
Jeremy WebbFinding the Right Credit Card for Your Startup
read more

Analogies and Business: The Fastest Way to Get Your Point Across

Communication throughout all levels of an organization is essential to a business’s success. When running a business, one may find it necessary to sometimes communicate with peers, junior level employees, and even your customers in simpler terms.

Human interaction — a key to business.

This type of interaction is where the use of analogies has become increasingly effective. An analogy is like a metaphor where you explain a complex idea or situation in terms or in a story that the other person can relate to and understand easier. 

The time used to correctly phrase this information is productive, memorable and a “to the point” way to describe information to those around you. Though simple, these easily understandable phrases elevate the ease in which a message can successfully be delivered.

The analogy — providing actionable understanding.         

Understanding why analogies are effective in the business world is almost as important as their use.  When communicated properly, analogies can convey everything from the urgency of an idea, to the value of a deal, to even simplifying a business strategy. 

The key is finding the proper analogy — and that can sometimes be difficult. The analogy comparison needs to fit the mold of exactly what you’re attempting to accomplish. In most cases it is best not to make this description so cliché that it’s insulting. You also don’t want it to be shrugged off and ignored or too generic to specifically apply to your goal.

Though analogies are frequently used on a daily basis in your environment, whether you know it or not, they may not always be easy to spot. Here are a few examples that I find to be effective at illustrating my point within common business situations.

1. You can’t run a marathon on an empty stomach.

Simple and to the point, this analogy is often used in reference to scaling or growing your business. This analogy works well because scaling and growing your business is never a sprint. If done successfully, your business growth is often more accurately represented by a marathon. You must have a full stomach, or in other words, be supported by the proper resources, effort and energy that a marathon requires. 

Be confident that your business infrastructure is in good shape. Remember moving too quickly without the right pieces in place will result in your business feeling like a sprint that is destined to end too soon. An unprepared sprint can end in injury and sometimes without even crossing the finish line. 

2. There is no harvest without water.

A business is nothing without its customers. Once established, it’s imperative for a business to feed their customers (water). Taking steps to engage your customers, listen to their wants, actively attempt to please them by investing time, money and energy into your business — these effort are the water that will allow your business to ultimately acquire and retain customers more effectively. 

If your customers are “watered” (taken care of), they will feel engaged and satisfied, resulting in their return business. Becoming established is just the first step. You then have to care for those that keep your company afloat. When that care is provided, your business will blossom, resulting in a full harvest.

3. A leaking boat is a sinking boat.

One of the worst situations a business can encounter is losing money.  Even a small, steady stream of loss can lead to a hemorrhage, inevitably leaving your company in ruins. Businesses are fluid and things can change rapidly, which is part of what makes them exciting. 

But it is vital that you and your team know how to properly plug any “leaks” you encounter, learn from them, and do everything to ensure that leak never occurs again. If a leak in a boat is not properly treated, it will sink. And if you don’t regularly inspect the integrity of the boat, your business will be defenseless against new leaks.    

4. Go the distance.

There are a number of analogies that emphasize this same idea and thought. Possibly you relate best to: finish the race, play to the final whistle or it’s not over until the fat lady sings. But I prefer this take, as it eludes to the truth that sometimes the journey is a longer one than many assume, and to keep going until you are certain your work is done. 

Go the distance emphasizes concentration, tenacity, and hard work. These three guides are often the pillars of any successful company. Typically, the goal of a business is a collection of smaller goals that lead to the large pay off at the end. 

When an employee focuses on and accomplishes one of the smaller goals, it’s important that the value of the work isn’t compartmentalized here. Leaders should encourage their team members to proactively push forward — going the distance. Otherwise, these smaller goals will have little meaning and the larger mission at hand remains incomplete. 

5. You can’t bake a cake without all the ingredients.

This analogy is typically in reference to product development or customer experience. A cake only comes together when the right amount of every ingredient is integrated into the batter, mixed and baked properly. 

The same is to be said about a product or service. It’s not a matter of one or two factors solely attributing to the growth of your company, it’s a culmination of all pieces working together to create the product, service, and the identity. Every department must be covered, from customer service, to marketing, to research, to development. 

If you neglect to include one aspect of the business in a plan, your business will struggle to stay upright, much like a table with three legs. But with the correct ingredients, in the appropriate proportions, mixed together at the right time, you may quite literally discover your company’s perfect recipe for success.

No comments
Jeremy WebbAnalogies and Business: The Fastest Way to Get Your Point Across
read more