Blog Archives

5 Apps for Entrepreneurs

It‘s here. The iPhone 6 (and bendable iPhone 6 Plus!) are taking the world by storm. Now that you have the hardware upgrade, it’s time to bring your apps up to date. Here are our top 5 apps for entrepreneurs.

1. TrackMaven

TrackMaven lets you monitor your competition. TrackMaven analyzes the data from your marketing content. It also lets you analyze your competitors marketing efforts. This helps you identify what you customers (or competitors customers) are looking for. You can this use the data to better target your audience.

2. Free Wi-fi Finder

That’s right. And app that finds free wi-fi. You never know when you’re going to need a strong, fast, reliable connection, so be prepared.

3. Uber

Sure, there’s been a lot of talk about Uber lately. Will the government shut them down? Well, we’re not sure yet, but while it’s still legal, you should make use of it. Whether you’re visiting a city or you live in one, Uber is a reliable way to get around. Don’t ever hail a cab again.

4. Mint

Where’s the money going? Mint helps you keep track of your personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you want to keep an eye on your cash flow. Mint can pull in all your data from bank statements to auto insurance and mortgage costs. You can also monitor your investments.

5. Unroll.me

Unroll.me is an app for your email. It lets you target all the junk and get rid of it in one click. Not only does it delete the emails, it also gives you the option of unsubscribing without having to go through all the rigamarole that unsubscribing requires. So, if you’re tired of hearing about every sale that Yankee Candle has, Unroll.me is for you.

Bonus!

There’s a bonus! It’s not really an app, but here it is:

An external phone charger.

While cell phone battery life is improving with each new phone, as an entrepreneur, you probably spend more time on the phone than most people. An external phone charger, when charged, should hold at least another 50% of battery life for your cell. Some hold even more than that. Plus, they’re usually around $20, so it won’t break the bank.

What are your essential apps for entrepreneurs? Share in the comments!

Failure is Always an Option: 3 Retailers that Disappeared

You think you’ve made it. Your business is on top and been up there for awhile. You’ve diversified, you have franchises. But, here are 3 retailers who found out that failure is always an option, and what you can learn from it.

1. Blockbuster

Always Blockbuster. Poor, poor Blockbuster. In 2002, Blockbuster was valued at $5 billion. It had even become synonymous with renting a movie. If you wanted to rent a movie for the weekend, you asked if anyone wanted to go to Blockbuster, even if you were going to Hollywood Video. Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2010.

What went wrong:

Netflix and Redbox came and pushed them out of the market.

What can you learn:

Always be ready to embrace new technologies, especially if your company’s product is technology. Evolve or perish.

2. K. B. Toys

When it filed for bankruptcy in 2008, K.B. Toys was the leading mail-based toy retailer, but even then it only represented a small percentage of the United States toy market.

What went wrong:

Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon had better prices.

What can you learn:

Downsizing is not a four-letter word. If you’re good at something, don’t be afraid to try and be the best at it. If K.B. Toys had focused on it’s mail order sales while decreasing it’s brick-and-mortar presence, would it still be around? If it had embraced Amazon’s Marketplace, or eBay would it have sold more through the mail? Maybe not. But, it’s something to think about.

3. Woolworths

In 1997, after 117 years, the last Woolworths closed its doors. It wasn’t all failure, though. The Woolworth Corporation changed its name to Venator Group and still operates some retail stores, including Foot Locker and Northern Reflections.

What went wrong:

Again, lower prices at Wal-Mart and Target helped to bury Woolworths. However, America moving out of the cities and into the suburbs was the first shovelful of dirt in the grave. As America left the city, tastes changed. And one of those tastes was a distinct lack of interest in what Woolworths had to offer.

What you can learn:

Sometimes, the market disappears.

Do you know of a company that failed? What can be learned from their failure? Share in the comments below.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer {Comment to Win!}

youtilityThe difference between helping and selling is just two letters

If you’re wondering how to make your products seem more exciting online, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products. You’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?”

Jay Baer’s Youtility offers a new approach that cuts through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

Drawing from real examples of companies who are practicing Youtility as well as his experience helping more than seven hundred brands improve their marketing strategy, Baer provides a groundbreaking plan for using information and helpfulness to transform the relationship between companies and customers.

Tell us why you want to upgrade your marketing. Comment to win a copy of Jay Baer’s Youtility.

Mike Rynchek, CEO of SpyderTrap

Mike Rynchek, CEO of SpyderTrapMike Rynchek, CEO of SpyderTrap, talks about the importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices.

Listen to the interview here.

 

Read the rest of this entry

Top 6 Social Networks for Entrepreneurs

Top 6 Social Networks for EntrepreneursThese days, it seems there’s a social network for everything, and maybe there is. The entrepreneur spends most of his/her time working and it might seem like there isn’t any time for social networking. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, have you considered looking for a social network catering specifically to you?

1. Inspiration Entrepreneur

Founded by the people behind Entrepreneur Magazine, Inspiration Entrepreneur is a little bit like a Pinterest for entrepreneurs. You’ll find inspiration, ideas, and other entrepreneurial content shared by entrepreneurs across the web. If you’re good at finding great content or looking for it, this is the place to do it.

2. Killer Startups

Killer Startups is another place to generate ideas. On this site, users submit their startups and others can rate them and discuss them. You can also submit news stories, giving you an avenue for press releases, which is never a bad thing.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn seems to be the social network for all white/gray collar workers. Which includes entrepreneurs. Not only do you have the opportunity to post yourself and your own information, you can also create a profile for your company. At this point, LinkedIn is a well established social network. It’s not going anywhere. Also, it has integrated mobile apps to keep you constantly connected. If you choose one social network to be on, as an entrepreneur, this one should be it.

4. StartupNation

If you’re looking to dive head first right into the world of startups, this is the place to do it. StartupNation is packed to the gills with information, hints, tips, inspiration, and more. It even has a radio station. StartupNation wants to give you practical advice on how to rock your business.

5. Cofoundr

You might be able to see where this is going based on the name. Cofoundr is a place where entrepreneurs, programmers, freelancers and investors can find each other. Cofoundr screens out the younger crowd, so you won’t get teenagers trying to muscle in. You create a profile, post your business idea, and wait for people to start discussing. You may find a similar project that you want to join. Or, hey, you might even find your cofounder.

6. Perfect Business

Perfect Business is a pretty serious social site for entrepreneurs. Here, you’ll be able to find resources (like the other sites), but you’ll also be able to make business contacts. You’ll find videos to help you out, plus one of it’s partners is Virgin Money, so it’s hard to go wrong with Richard Branson backing. Regular membership is free; gold membership is $29.99 a month. So, don’t sign up for something that isn’t going to pay off.

Those are our top social networks for entrepreneurs. Where do you think entrepreneurs should be spending their online time? Share in the comments below!

Inspiration: She++

she++: The Documentary from Ellora Israni on Vimeo.

A documentary from #goodgirlsgonegeek

Inspiration: Startups Exposed The Anatomy of a Newborn Tech Company [Infographic]

Inspiration: Startups Exposed The Anatomy of a Newborn Tech Company [Infographic]

Inspiration: Mike Arrington of TechCrunch

3 Tips on Building Trust with your Online Customers

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners would argue that it’s easier to build trust with a brick-and-mortar Building Trust with your Online Customersbusiness than a purely Internet based one. Why? Well, with your regular customers, you have a chance to engage in small talk, ask about the kids, and fill the downtime with getting to know them. You know their regular orders; you know when they usually visit; you know which of their employees they’ve developed a relationship with.

Online, you don’t get the face – to – face human interaction that helped our species evolve into a society. Here are some things you can do to make sure that trust relationship is still developed online.

1. Connect with the experts

Chances are, someone online is already doing what you’re doing and they’ve already developed relationships and reputations. Try to connect with them to see what they’re doing. Interact. Build your own relationship with the expert. When the time comes, you might not be able to help a customer with their needs, but if you can point them to someone who will, you’ve become the person they can go to for connections. Next time, if that customer needs something, they’ll come to you for help. And, this time, it might be your business that can provide the service.

2. Acknowledge your advocates, apologize to your critics.

If someone praises you for the work you did, send a thank you. A Tweet, an email, a Facebook post. It doesn’t cost you anything to make your customers feel good. And, hey, if they went out of their way to show you some gratitude, you should return the favor.

On the other hand, if someone gives you a bad review, don’t ignore. See if that person will engage with you. Ask them about the review and see if there’s something you can correct. Was their order broken or not as described? Was it not shipped fast enough? If they’re complaining about something that really can’t be changed (like they didn’t realize what they ordered or forgot they already had one), don’t start a fight. Send them a coupon (something like free shipping or 10% off) as a way of an apology.

3. Give them content they can use

Let’s say you sell air conditioners and you have a blog on your website. Rather than blogging about how much people need air conditioners, give them some tips on using them. Like, turn it down or off after 6pm to save on your electric bill. Or how to check your house for places the air might leak out.

Maybe it means air conditioners will last a little longer and people won’t buy as many, but when it’s time for that new one, you’re the company that knows how to take care of air conditioners and are interested in helping people cut costs.

How have you built your online reputation? Share in the comments!

5 Risks the Entrepreneur Faces

MEntrepreneur Risksost people in business are trying to reduce the risks factors inherent in startups and entrepreneurial ventures. One of the biggest attributes of the entrepreneur is their ability to take a risk head on. But, how can you prepare if you don’t know what to watch out for?

If you’re just starting out, there are several risks you should be prepared to see.

1. Competition

Are you an innovator? Did you come up with something that no one has? That’s great! But, what if you just came up with a better way to do something? You need to be aware of the competition. If you know what other companies are doing similar things, you can see what factors were a struggle for them. At the same time, be aware that they’re checking you out, too. Make sure you are clear about what makes you better/different.

2. Finances

This is a big one, but we’ve been talking about finances on this blog for awhile, so if you aren’t aware of the risks, check out some of our other posts. To sum up, know how much money you need, know how much you’re asking for, and know how much you expect to get. Don’t forget to work up a business plan that you can present to investors and interested parties.

3. Entrance Strategy

One of the quickest ways to kill a business is if you enter the market incorrectly. This includes pricing and demand. Do people need your good or service? Are you doing things in a timely fashion? Have you priced your offer fairly and competitively? Do your market research and you will land on your feet from the beginning.

4. Technology

Are you pitching the next great Google Glass app? Well, that’s great. But, who’s going to use it? When evaluating risk, don’t forget to factor in rapidly changing technology. The founders of a service like Square saw a trend in technology that wasn’t going away. While it’s hard to predict the course of the next great technology, don’t ignore what trends of current technology have led to.

5. Operation

How many people do you need to function? Like the financial category, you should be aware of your minimum, your target, and your maximum. This will also help you when you’re hiring. An entrepreneur needs to be a jack of all trades. Do you also expect that of your employees? Find out how many people you need to run your business and what kind of people they need to be so you know what you’re looking for.

What other risks do entrepreneurs have to take? Tell us in the comments!

%d bloggers like this: