Pepsi NEXT - The Newest Mid-Calorie Soda
Pepsi is making a big move into the "Mid-Cal" cola market with it's newest product called Pepsi NEXT. NEXT will hit the shelves March 26th and promises 60% less sugar with all the cola taste. Pepsi hopes to attract the lucrative market of people who have left traditional sodas for lower calorie enhanced waters, sports drinks and bottled teas. This product comes on the heels of many failed products in this segment including Pepsi's own Pepsi Edge, Pepsi XL, which had both been pulled from production by 2007. There is a renewed sense of hope since the launch of Dr Pepper Ten, Dr Pepper Snapple Group's 10 calorie soda last fall. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group is currently testing a line of 10 calorie sodas they hope to release to the general market. Both Pepsi and it's market dominating rival, Coca-Cola, have had market declines in recent years due to heightened public awareness to health risks related to the high-sugar content in soda. Pepsi, hoping to regain some traction in this market, is rumored that it will invest more than $600 million this year to market Pepsi NEXT.
Pepsi NEXT Commercial : Drink It to Believe It
Advertising agency TBWA/Chiat/Day produced a television commercial that features a young couple and their crawling toddler who is ready to stand and walk at any moment. The video-camera ready couple is prepared to immortalize the moment. The commercial shows the exited couple trying and praising the new drink. At the same time the baby, who feels neglected starts to perform tricks in the background to regain the parents attention. The parents are so enamored with the new product that the mother pulls out the video camera to document the wonderful new Pepsi product instead of the baby. The baby who is trying to get the parents attention progresses from standing to walking on it's hands to dancing and then ultimately playing a Fender Flying V guitar. The Pepsi NEXT loving parents miss the whole thing, but are satisfied with the amazing new drink they have discovered. In addition to the commercial, Pepsi NEXT will be promoted digitally via a Facebook campaign, and sampling efforts to get consumers to taste Pepsi NEXT will take place in more than 800 Walmart stores. The real question is: will Pepsi NEXT deliver the needed boost in sales that Pepsi needs in this segment? Only consumers will answer that question.
_ Life Without Square: The Hassle of accepting Credit Cards
Dealing with the hassle of taking credit cards was something small business owners used to dread. A merchant account had to be set up with a bank or financial institution. The merchant was charged a monthly service fee. The fee was sometimes as high as $50 a month. In addition to the fee, business owners had to rent or purchase credit card processing equipment. This also included purchasing consumables such as paper and ribbons for the receipt printers. This often proved expensive for the small business owner. Thanks to a San Francisco based company called Square, the hassle of taking credit cards is now over.
How Square Works: Everyone Can Accept Credit Cards Via Mobile Devices
Square was created by Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter. Square's mission is to remove the barriers for small business owners to accept credit cards. Square is simple. It is elegant and easy to use. The most important feature of using Square is that your clients feel secure with the transaction. Square allows you to accept credit card payments on your Android, iPhone or iPad with the free square card reader device. Square will send you a free Square card reader to plug into the audio port of your mobile device. You can sign up and install the app in just a few minutes. You can then begin accepting credit cards! Your customers can review their purchase on your mobile device and even have a tip added to the bill. After their credit card is swiped, they sign a signature line on the screen with their finger. Customers instantly receive an electronic receipt via text or e-mail, which makes them feel secure about the transaction. Square charges one simple rate: 2.75% per swipe for MasterCard, Visa Discover and Amex. Unlike most credit card processors, square charges no monthly fees. The funds are deposited into your bank account the next business day.
Square Lets Small Business Owners Accept Credit Cards Via Mobile Devices
Even if you run the one person micro business, you have a need to accept credit cards from your customers. PayPal made it easy to accept payments online. Square now makes it easy to accept payments in person with a mobile device. Expect to see Square being used by your hair stylist, gardener, babysitter, or anyone you currently pay in cash. All you need is a mobile device and a bank account to accept payments. Square is making the process easy and fun as well. Small Business owners: get one of these now and get set up to take credit card payments. Your future sales may depend on it.
Visit http://www.squareup.com to order your Free Square Card Reader
Notre Dame Tradition of Gold Helmets
Notre Dame is a university that is full of tradition. From the trumpeters playing the alma matter inside the Golden Dome of the administration building to the pre-game Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Notre Dame and the "Walk" across campus to the stadium, Notre Dame holds to its traditions and protects the brand and mystique that the university has come to represent. The traditional all gold football helmets have been a long standing brand of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, there is an old tradition where the Student Managers traditionally paint the helmets before each game. This tradition includes using paint mixed with gold dust from the original Golden Dome on the Notre Dame campus. This also produced a different look to the helmets each game. The University recently changed the design of their legendary football helmets.
Why Refresh the Brand of the Gold Helmets
Jack Swarbrick, Director of Athletics for Notre Dame University said "Symbolically, the helmets have always been intended to reflect the dome: the most graphic symbol of this University." When asked when was it determined that there was a change needed in the color of the football helmets, Swarbrick responded that his wife asked him during an opening game a couple of years ago, "When did we start wearing brown helmets". It caused Swarbrick to contemplate what Notre Dame was trying to achieve with the helmets. It always came back to the connection with the dome. Ryan Grooms, Notre Dame Football Equipment Manager, said "I have taken many walks around campus especially on game day, looking up at the dome and realizing that's what we deserve, thats what we should have. The dome is a true representation of Notre Dame. It's is our way of giving back to the university, making sure that we are a true representation of Notre Dame as well." (SEE FULL VIDEO HERE)
Preserving The Brand: The Process of Reinventing the Gold Helmets
Notre Dame started the process of reinventing the helmet last year. Hydro Graphics Inc., an Oregon based graphics firm worked for the past year to develop the helmets for Notre Dame. The printing process used to create the new helmets is called water transfer printing and Hydro Graphics Inc. has trademarked the process calling it HydroSkin®. Currently, HydroSkin® technology is the only system approved for use by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). You may have already semen some Hydro Graphics creations. Hydro Graphics was responsible for the helmets in use by the Rose Bowl Champion - Oregon Ducks as well as many other NCAA and Professional sports franchises. The team went through 12 iterations of the helmet until they got the one that they were happy with. One that adequately represented the dome. Hydro Graphics was able to incorporated the 24k gold dust from the dome into the final painting process of the helmets. This preserved the brand of the Gold helmets of the Fighting Irish.
Honda CR-V Creative Superbowl Commercial: Matthew Broderick's Day Off Brings Ferris Bueller to Life Once Again
Ferris Bueller and Mathew Broderick Take the Day Off the Honda CR-V on Superbowl Sunday
Everyone loves Matthew Broderick. If you grew up in the 80's, you saw the iconic movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which poked fun at the establishment in general. This ad will be aired during the Superbowl this Sunday. In addition to simply using the Ferris Bueller theme, Honda has hidden over a dozen references to the movie in the commercial making it both interesting and viral as well. This is a great creative use of the commercial medium to promote the Honda CR-V to Gen-Xers who identify with the character of Ferris. (Remember Ben Stein: Bueller, Bueller, Bueller, Anyone, Anyone) It was a pleasant trip down memery lane for me. I didn't even feel pandered to. Now that is good advertising; making the target market eager to interact with the product. Great job Honda.
Here is the Link to YouTube: http://bit.ly/xgLEqC
What....Your still here? Don't You Have Anything better to Do?
Go on... Get Going..Go.
Innovation with the Apple iTunes Music Store
Apple re-invented how we listened to music 10 years ago by introducing the iPod. The genius of the iPod was not the device itself. There were multiple devices on the market that played mp3 files. The genius of the iPod was the iTunes Music Store. If you remember, the music world was turned on it's head with the invention of shareable music files. Napster appeared and the record labels were scared of losing control of their kingdom. Instead of embracing the future of digital music and creating a way to monetize the process for the artists as well as themselves, they ended up suing their end users. While the record companies were engulfed in a legal storm to protect their antiquated business model, Apple created a new one. Steve Jobs had it right. Why pay for an entire album of music when you want to hear just one song. Why not give listeners what they want and the artists get paid for it. What a novel concept! It was a game changer. The music business has never been the same. It has been 10 years and the publishing business has taken a lesson from the unwillingness to change attitude of the record labels. The publishers realized that they will either figure out a new business model or someone else will introduce one to them. Well, Amazon lit a match with the Kindle and it has now grown into a Fire. The business model began to change. We still see outdated remnants of the old way of thinking. Digital Rights Management restrictions still makes us feel like we are getting the shaft as consumers. The pricing model for ebooks is nearly as much as their hardback versions. The publishers have embraced the technology, but they are not catching on to bigger picture of what ebooks can do.
Apple Innovation Brings Textbooks to the iPad
Apple has figured it out. They have gone to the textbook companies who control a large volume of the book market and they have given them a new business model. This new model lets them ease out of the old way of publishing by lowering their costs drastically awhile maintaing control of the content. Apple has always been a partner with education. Now that partnership will increase. The concept is simple: downloadable textbooks on the iPad or iPod, delivered via the iBooks Store. What is remarkable is the pricing model. The most expensive textbook in the store right now is priced at $14.99.
iBooks Author and iTunes University Drive Innovation in Education for Apple
As an added value, the textbooks are able to deliver interactive experiences with audio, video, and 3D graphics that create an immersive environment for the reader. To further the impact of what Apple has done, they also released iBooks Author- a free application that allows users to create beautiful, multi-touch, interactive books for the iPad. In addition they have increased the offerings in iTunes University to include self paced study courses at MIT, Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. All of the courses are free! These new technologies will allow users to learn in a different way - I think a better way.
Looks Like The iPad And The Kindle Are Here to Stay: Tablet and E-Book Reader Ownership Soars During the 2011 Holiday Season.
Did you get an E-Book reader or a tablet device for Christmas this year? A Pew Research Center survey indicates that ownership in tablet devices and e-book readers increased from 10% to 19% during the 2011 holiday shopping season.
Tablet and E-Book Reader Benefits
One of the main benefits from using a tablet device is its accessibility. You can keep it on the coffee table or use it while walking up and down the stairs at your home. You can use it while lying in bed or while on the couch just as easy as you can use it on a plane. The ability to instantly turn on these devices coupled with Wi-Fi access to your network makes this device a replacement for 90% of what you use your laptop for. Most people use their laptops to access the internet, read email, and create and edit office documents, and spreadsheets. The rise of streaming media from companies like Netflix and Amazon has pushed the traditional Television viewer to seek more and more entertainment online. The iPad is an amazing entertainment device. You can stream movies, play games and check your social media channels from wherever you are.
When I showed my 86 year old Father the iPad, his first comment was that the clarity of the screen was incredible. He was pleasantly surprised that he could read an e-book without his glasses on. I had a similar experience showing the iPad to my wife’s grandmother, who is also in her 80’s. Within 2 minutes she had mastered the touch interface and was playing Angry Birds. I frequently see parents hand their 2 year old child an iPad with a learning game. Touch technology enables users who do not use computers to quickly adopt a new technology. This technology is here to stay. Recently, I attended the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was impressed with the degree to which tablets were being incorporated into everything from cars to refrigerators.
Entrepreneurs Should Consider Adding Tablet and E-Book Reader Technology to Their Business
Entrepreneurs should consider adding a tablet to their office and personal workflow. Email is a breeze. Web browsing is fun again. The tablet is great for reading books, newspaper, and reports. The iPad can also create and edit office documents with Pages, edit spreadsheets with Numbers, and presentations with Keynote. All of these Apps sell for $9.99 each in the iTunes App Store. During my evaluation of the iPad, I concluded that the only thing that I can’t do on the device is graphic design. I use Adobe Creative Suite to create and edit graphic files. This is not something that the iPad tablet can do for now. Or so I thought. I was wrong. Adobe has created an entire suite of Touch Apps for the iPad and Android tablets. The technology incorporates 6 creative Apps: Adobe Photoshop Touch, Adobe Proto, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Debut, Adobe Collage, and Adobe Kuler. Photoshop allows users to edit photos, Proto allows rapid prototyping and creation of wireframes for websites and mobile apps, Ideas is a vector design application that allows Illustrator functionality, Debut is a presentation app that designers can use to present full-resolution native Adobe graphic files, Collage lets you create mood boards and inspiration pieces, and Kuler lets you create and navigate in a world of infinite color themes.This presents a huge paradigm shift in the design process. It will allow designers to work in a whole new way: More efficient, connected and mobile. All of the Apps sell for $9.99 each and can be found on the Android Marketplace as well as the iTunes app Store.
The Future for the Tablet and E-Book Reader Market
The future for tablets is great. Touch technology has enabled us to create and use technology in new mobile ways. The tablet is game-changing technology and every small business owner should consider ways to streamline their operations with these advances.
Pew Research Study: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2176/tablet-computers-ebook-readers
Check the Adobe Touch Apps out here: http://www.adobe.com/products/touchapps.html?promoid=JFQGR
The magic of Christmas has come and gone again and left us to contemplate the creative advertising campaigns that we were presented this year. Here are my picks for Best TV Christmas Advertising Campains of 2011.
The best Christmas Advertising Campaign of 2011 has to go to Chevrolet. Chevy released a great campaign centered around a plump, jolly, white-bearded auto dealer salesperson named "Kris". What I liked about the campaign was that he causes a commotion with the customers without really trying to do so. He is just your local Chevy salesperson, or is he? Here are a few of the commercials.
The next winner would be Best Buy with its "Game On Santa" commercials. These commercials have upset quite a few people, however, I found them very creative and well executed. The commercials depict women shopping at Best Buy and then laying in wait for Santa to trash-talk about how they already handled christmas this year without his help. a very different take on the usual sentimental Christmas TV ad. Bravo to Best Buy for sticking their neck out this year by going after Santa.
Meet UP: The Jawbone Wristband and iPhone App That Helps You Move More, Sleep Better and Eat Smarter
Meet UP by Jawbone ( http://www.jawbone.com/up ), a revolutionary system (wristband + iPhone app) that tracks your activity and sleep and inspires you to move more, sleep better and eat smarter. Welcome to a Healthier You.
The Up wristband goes on sale November 6. The price will be $100. The Up can be purchased from the Apple Store, Best Buy and Target. The wristband comes in even different colors and various sizes to fit everyone's tastes. A great gift for the holidays.
Get the UP by Jawbone app here:
Wake UP - Helping You to Sleep Better - It is like having your own personal sleep coach!
Eat UP - Helping You to Make Healthier Choices in what You Eat.
Get UP - Helping You to Stay Active Throughout the Day
Want to Learn How to Export?: National District Export Council Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada November 2-5, 2011
We are proud to welcome the 2011 National District Export Council Conference and Exposition to Las Vegas, Nevada.
This is a conference that focuses on core international trade skills and content. If you have ever wanted to get into the export business, then this is the trade show for you!
This years DEC conference will highlight:
12 Educational Track Workshops
•financial assistance programs
•innovative new product needed
•alternative energy evaluations & opportunities
•new tools to increase sales and company performance
•successful exporters interactive panel
•region specific evaluations: Americas, Pac Rim and Europe/Africa
Export Grants Track featuring SBA’s new $30 million STEP program and more.
Best of the Best Export University 101, 201, and 301 Includes Certificate!
Outstanding Keynote Speakers from the private and public sectors and subject matter experts on panels and conducting workshops and seminars.
DEC leadership meetings focusing on the most important international, national, and local best practices, policy,reorganization, budgets and legislative issues.
NEW THIS YEAR is a full exposition hall featuring 30 exhibit booths exhibiting products and services from the public and private sectors and the U.S. Census Export Pavilion. Attendees will also receive limited free access to USATrade OnLine.
International Pavilion with Consuls and foreign trade representatives to discuss doing business in, and sending products to, their countries. Countries confirmed are Azerbaijan, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Armenia, Turkey, Thailand, Uruguay, Lithuania, Italy, Romania, United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Kenya, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, El Salvardor, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia,EU and Poland.
One-on-one private meetings with U.S. Commercial Officers with expertise in Algeria, Central America, China, European Union, India, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Germany and Vietnam.
To Register: http://www.decconference.com/members/decconference
We will have over 20 Resource Partners from Southern Nevada present to answer any questions you may have about starting and managing a small business. This event is FREE! Please register at: http://snbrn.eventbrite.com
What happens when a small business owner tries too hard get potential customers to "follow" them on Twitter or "like" them on Facebook? Their Social Media Strategy becomes rancid. Just like rancid food, rancid Social Media stinks and potential customers as well as existing clients want to get away from the stench. Social Media is about transparency and a grassroots effort to connect with your customers. I follow someone on Twitter who uses some sort of service to promote her business posts. The problem is that the automated service she uses, posts the same dozen posts over and over again each day. Sometimes the posts repeat every few seconds. This amounts to hundreds of posts a day and her followers feeling like her Social Media is rancid and not genuine. If you use a service to promote your business, you run the risk of ruining the process and driving away the very people that you wish to attract. You then end up with thousands of "Zombie Followers" & fans that don't care about you or your business. You have to ask yourself if you care more about the number of followers you have, or do you care about the quality of the followers you have and your ability to connect with them. Social Media is a grassroots effort to connect and communicate with our clients. Build your Social Media following the natural way: Give your followers great content and they will come back.
One of my favorite ad campaigns out right now is the Mayhem campaign from Allstate. Allstate helps us love Mayhem as they stick it to GEICO in these ads. Great creative...right on target.
Toddler: "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy "
I'm a Raccoon: "I've Already Had Like 4 Babies"
I was watching a video of Seth Godin http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/ where he talks about 7 Kinds of Broken Business or Marketing Processes. Seth is a master marketer; he gets it. One of his types of broken was “Broken on Purpose”. I thought to myself, who makes a business process that is broken on purpose? Well, I found one myself: The Department of Motor Vehicles. Some might say, hey Mike, that’s is not a big surprise- everyone knows that he DMV is the worst place you could spend your day. But, I will tell you that here in Nevada the DMV has made significant improvements in the last 20 years. When I got my license at 16, we had to follow multicolored lines, painted on the floor that started at the front entrance of the DMV. It was confusing, it was de-humanizing, and it was ineffective; people kept bumping into each other because they were looking at the floor. The DMV has come a long way. Now they have modern facilities where automated “Now Serving number A43 at window 17” voices direct you to the person waiting to help you. It usually takes less than an hour to get your business finished at the DMV. Yes, the DMV has come a long way, however, they haven’t come far enough.
I was trying to register my vehicle with the DMV Online Registration Service. I got home from work and got on the website only to find this message: Sorry the Online System is Currently Closed. Closed? What do you mean closed? I must have read it wrong – perhaps the system is down for maintenance? No. They were closed. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME IN THIS DAY AND AGE – HOW CAN A WEBSITE BE CLOSED? Isn’t that the purpose of having a website instead of a brick-and-mortar store? If you can’t purchase something from an online store – what is the point? Imagine Amazon.com or ebay.com saying: sorry our store is closed, please come back tomorrow during normal operating hours. This is not only illogical, but it is also BROKEN. Seth Godin was right.
As a Business Development Advisor with the Nevada Small Business Development Center, I get to help my clients turn their ideas into a viable business. Here are success stories from a few of my clients: The Brazil Store, Pasta China, and Las Vegas Errands.
“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.”
“Already Gone” by The Eagles
Fear is the world’s biggest de-motivator. All of us have suffered with the paralysis that fear brings. I am not talking about the healthy fear that keeps us from physical harm. I am talking about the irrational fear that keeps us from doing the things that we know we should. This fear keeps people in the same dead-end jobs, in the same unfulfilling relationships, in the same unhealthy financial state. We are afraid of being rejected, unloved, unwanted, hated, outcast, laughed at, etc. Everyone has these fears. We all want to be accepted and praised for who we are and what we do. We allow irrational fear to keep us from making decisions because we are afraid that the consequences will be too painful to bear. As a result, we do nothing. We are paralyzed in our irrational fear. When we are in this state of emotional paralysis, we cannot be effective in our relationships or our careers. We simply cannot give to others and contribute to society because our emotional “well” has gone dry.
Ask yourself right now: what am I afraid of doing? What is holding me back at this moment? What have I been putting on the “back burner” and why? Who do I need to call? Who do I need to connect with? Who needs my emotional support? What tasks have I been dreading? It is worth the introspection. If you are to conquer fear, you have to identify what feeds it and why you are holding yourself back. When you do this, you might just surprise yourself. Upon analysis you will probably see that the outcome of the thing that you fear is not quite as bad as you perceive it to be. Most fear is irrational and built-up in our minds to such a point that it causes us not to act.
HOW TO OVERCOME DE-MOTIVATIONAL FEAR:
-Get out a piece of paper and write down 3 things that you are putting off because of fear.
-List the worst possible outcome OF TAKING ACTION with the items on the list.
-List the worst possible outcome FOR NOT TAKING ACTION with the items on the list.
-Armed with the knowledge of the worst possible outcomes: Take action on the 3 items.
Do it now. Do it today. You not only will feel better emotionally, but also will have set yourself in the path of better decision making. Life won’t simply happen to you anymore, YOU will control your destiny.
(photo: by Chris Breeze, Creative Commons License,Some rights reserved)
If you think about it, $500 is not a huge amount of money. The average car repair is around $500. The average family with 2 vehicles pays about $500 for gas every month. You can purchase an iPad for $500. You can buy an outfit for $500, or purchase a round trip airline ticket for $500. $500 a month x 12 months = $6000 a year. Now if you look at adding $6000 a year to your income, it doesn’t seem like much. However, it really is.
Ask yourself the question: What would a consistent extra $500 mean to my financial state of health at the end of the month? If you could afford a $2000 mortgage payment instead of a $1500 mortgage payment, where would you live? Chances are, you would be able to move into a more upscale neighborhood. If you could afford a $500 car payment, what type of car could you drive? Would it be a step up from what you are driving now? $500 a month could pay for private schooling for your children. $500 could pay for expert music, sports, or artistic training. $500 could pay for private tutoring for your kids.
Lets talk about Debt. How much is your consumer debt costing you in monthly payments? Would $500 cover your payments to the credit card companies? How about student loan debt? Could $500 make a big difference in paying back the debt you borrowed for college?
The truth is: $500 goes a long way when you look at what it can do for your lifestyle.
How do you make the extra $500 a month? A small lifestyle business can fairly easily generate $500 a month. You have to find something that you love and go for it. You don’t need an expensive office. You can work from home. You don’t need employees. You can do this yourself. Leverage technology. We are in a connected world. You can run your venture from your smart phone. All you need to sell is $17 a day worth of your product or service to make this work. You can do this. You can sell $17 a day of something. Figure it out. Be resourceful.
Welcome to the world of upward mobility.
(Photo: David Boyle in DC, Creative Commons License, Some rights reserved)
As I was finishing my undergraduate degree in the late 90’s, I asked a question: Why did college textbooks have to be so expensive? I started to brainstorm with a colleague about the possibility of an affordable electronic device that could be loaded with all of your textbooks for college at a reduced price. We did some research and realized that there were Palm Pilot and Pocket PC devices already in the marketplace, but no one seemed to be working on a project involving books. There seemed to be an opportunity in the market. We went to work on creating an electronic device that could be loaded with books targeted to college students. We got legal counsel, prepared non-disclosure agreements, and worked on an interface design. We needed a prototype. We found an electronics engineering student at the University joined our team and began making the prototype. Just as the prototype was finished, Sony announced a new ebook device that would hit the market in 90 days. We were crushed. The funny thing is that the device failed. The market wasn’t ready for an ebook reader yet. It took nearly a decade for ebooks to be accepted into the mainstream.
Bindrup’s Advice: Be on the lookout for emerging trends, but don’t get too far ahead of the curve.
(Photo: Dimitar Nikolov, Creative Commons License, Some Right Reserved)
You might be one of these unprepared people. Lets face it. We are trained in our K-12 school system to be employees. Our school system was created to supply workers for the industrial revolution that could read, write, and do math in order to work in the factories that were powering our economy at the time. We were not trained to think outside the box. We were trained to be compliant “worker bees”. We also don’t teach financial literacy in schools. A student is lucky to get out of high school with one business class. That will not prepare you to start and run a small business. Most entrepreneurs don’t even know the basics of accounting. A well-rounded practical education for a potential small business owner should include: Accounting, Finance, Marketing and Management training. These skills are vital in order to run a successful small business venture. If you have never run a business before, you are at a disadvantage in all areas. Get help from knowledgeable advisors. Visit with a Small Business Development Center, or SCORE Advisor. It’s Free!
Bindrup’s Advice: Use business advisors and mentors to help you along the way or don’t quit your day job.
The bank and potential investors don’t care about how much you "believe" in your new business. They know that most small business owners are delusional about the level of profitability they foresee in their business. One of the questions from a potential investor is "Have you sold anything yet?" The only way to prove that your business concept is valid is by sales. In business, nothing happens until somebody sells something. Your constant goal as a startup is to focus on sales. Forget about everything else. A small business owner should spend all business hours on sales. Handle accounting and other administrative tasks after business hours and on weekends. Focus on driving sales. It is the only way that you can prove value in your business. If you cannot prove that there is demand for what you are selling in the first six months of operations, your business is sunk. It sounds appealing to a potential investor that you have generated $15,000 in sales during your first month in operations, or that you have sold 124 units out of the trunk of your car before you even got the business going. Sales prove value.
When I first started doing freelance work as a graphic designer, life was pretty simple. My daily routine consisted of finding clients who needed graphic design jobs and then producing the design work that I had gotten from my clients. As my business grew, I found my role as graphic designer decreasing and quickly transforming into the role of a manger and owner of a small advertising agency. It was a scary time for me. I was 24 years old and way outside of my comfort zone. Growth brings a unique set of challenges to an inexperienced small business owner. Especially one as ill prepared as I was. I had never had a class on running a small business, had little preparation in accounting, and had never even heard of strategic planning. During this time of rapid growth and business expansion, I would get frustrated because I was often unclear of the role I needed to fill. I had gotten into business because I was a highly skilled technician, not because I was a great manager. Everyday there were important decisions that had to be made about the business. I was sure that I was not making proper decisions and I worried about the future ramifications of those decisions. One day I sat down very frustrated and said to myself: I have to figure out what my job is. What do I do on a daily basis as the owner of this small business? The following is the result of that first strategic planning session in my head. I scrawled the following 3 job functions on a note pad.
1. Ensure Profitability
2. Strengthen Relationships (Clients & Vendors)
3. Market Effectively
It was a simple start. I later added 5 additional functions:
4. Direct Creative
5. Control Quality
8. Bring in Business
Finally, I crossed out Vision and brought it under #6 so it now read: Communicate the Vision.
I had a simplified set of job functions for myself as a small business owner. This piece of paper served to remind me not to get so caught up in the daily tasks at the business that I was not working on my business in the area, which I had outlined. I carried this piece of paper with me for several years. I had included a photo of the ragged-edged, stained note pad that I used to document my job as a small business owner. Today, It still serves as a reminder for me to pay attention to the most important job functions I have to manage in order to grow a successful small business.
I have always watched the Superbowl for the ads. Yes, the game is always good to watch, but the ads are spectacular in their own right. I have broken my nominations down by catagory for your review.
BEST USE OF ANIMALS - My 2 favorites in this catagory are: "Bridgestone - Carma" and "CareerBuilder - Parking Lot".
As a content creators, we are faced with the constant challenge to create on demand. Let's face it, we all have days that we don't want to get out of bed, let alone create the newest marketing masterpiece for an important campaign. Here are 5 tips to keep you from creative burnout.
(1) CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE
We are all creatures of habit. We drive to work the same way everyday, we park in the same area of the parking lot, we order the same item on the menu, we listen to the same music. Like it or not, our humanistic side craves stability and frequency as much as it craves creative expression. You need to interrupt your stagnant pattern. You need to try to do something different. Try to drive to work a different way. Listen to music you would not normally listen to. Change the channel to something you have never seen. It will give you a new perspective.
(2) CHANGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Move your desk. Change the decor where you work. Add a plant, change your chair. Take your laptop to your local coffee house and work for the day. Work at the kitchen table for a change. I like to work on the back patio or in the garage from time to time. Just try a change of surroundings, you will be impressed how effective it can be.
(3) TAKE A FIELD TRIP
If you are feeling bogged down creatively, go somewhere where you can have some new creative stimuli. Try a museum. Go window shopping at a mall you don't normally frequent. Get out in nature and just be there experience it. Go to the park and just walk around. Forget about work for a couple of hours and I like to go to the bookstore and look at all the creative books.
(4) SLEEP ON IT
Research indicates that if you are not getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night, you are putting your health in jeopardy. Everyone needs sleep. Try getting a little extra at night. I know that most creatives are insomniacs who knock out some of their best work while burning the midnight oil (Myself included - It is nearly midnight as I write this). Try to go to bed at 9pm. Get up early and work on the project then. If you can't pull the 6 hours at night, take small naps during the day. Don't sleep longer than 30 minutes to avoid grogginess. Get a sleep mask and listen to relaxing music before bed and you will sleep deeper and better.
(5) DO A MEDIA FAST
In our social media connected world, we live in a stream of constant noise. I read a book by Tim Ferriss, called the "4-Hour Workweek"; he suggests a one-week media fast: no TV viewing, no news, no magazines, no social media, & no internet. Once you remove the noise from your daily life, you begin to think differently. You have added clarity and focus.
Creativity is sensitivity to human nature. All of the tips above take us back to the basics. We are simple creatures who need to ground ourselves from time to time. By doing so we can become powerfully intuitive and create the content that connects us together.
Check out the mad art skills on this elephant.
As the Christmas parties begin and thoughts of accounting year end fill the air, the last week of the year gives small business owners a unique time to get some important tasks completed.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER'S "TO DO LIST"
(1) Business Year in Review
This is an exercise in honesty and transparency. Start by reviewing the information with yourself. How did you really do this year? What went well? Where did you drop the ball? These are some of the questions that should be addressed. Don’t spin the results. This is not the time to sugar-coat what happened. Prepare a simple and easy to understand one- page summary of how you did last year. Now comes the tough part: Share the information with your stakeholders. That means employees, investors, and even suppliers. Let them see for themselves how you did during the year. Transparency is vital to maintain the trust of your stakeholders.
(2) Update Your Business Plan
Writing a business plan is like flossing: you hate to do it, but you have to do it or it will cost you in the end. Dig it up, dust it off and update it – keep it current. Remember, your business plan is only a tool only if you use it as one. Using it as a door stop or paper weight doesn’t count.
(3) Set Strategic Goals
Notice that I said “Strategic”. Now is the time to review your business, marketing, & Social Media strategy. Do it, and do it on paper. This exercise keeps you accountable. Make sure to include budget in your planning. It amazes me how many entrepreneurs have New Year’s resolutions, but set no strategic business goals. The time you invest to set your strategic goals for the New Year will pay increased dividends in the future.
(4) Get rid of the Clutter
It is time to clean the office. Let go of all the things you were holding on to. Clean out your storage room and get rid of old equipment. Every business has an outdated computer that just gathers dust. Throw it away, give it to one of your employees, or donate it! You will feel better having removed this piece of unfinished business from your life. Go through that stack of paper you were dreading. Move some furniture. Start the New Year unfettered.
(5) Connect with your Clients
Personal phone calls work best. Call them just to wish them a happy holiday. Make sure that the phone call is not a sales call. You are calling because of the human interaction. Connect and listen to your clients. Show your clients that you care. You can send letters, email, or use social media. This time of year, visits and calls are the most appreciated.
(6) Celebrate with your Team
Make sure that the people who supported you this year in your business are aware of how much you appreciate them and their willingness to walk this path with you. Have a party, even if you’re nearly broke. Take the time to celebrate the small stuff. The last few years have been difficult for small business owners. Celebrate the fact that you are still in business! In Frank Capra’s holiday classic: It’s a wonderful life, in the scene after the run on the bank; they have 2 dollars left in the vault. George Baily says “A toast! A toast to Papa Dollar and to Mama Dollar, and if you want the old Building and Loan to stay in business, you better have a family real quick.”
May the New Year Bring Health, Wealth, and less Standing Inventory on the Shelf!
There is nothing better than a pleasant marketing surprise! While nursing a cold, I purchased a bag of my usual Halls Cough Drops. I noticed that they had re-designed their packaging as I hurriedly popped one in my mouth. I was about to throw the wrapper away when I discovered a pleasant surprise: “A Pep Talk in Every Drop”.
Halls, in a brilliant marketing move, has placed little “Pep Talk” messages on the wrapper. Mine included: “Bet on yourself”, “High-five yourself”, “Put a little strut in it”, “March forward”, and “Turn can-do into can-did”. The cost of this campaign must have been miniscule to Halls, since they are currently printing their logo on the wrapper anyway. By the way, the Halls logo is printed over a dozen times on the little wrapper – surrounding the “Pep Talk” messages.
This little wrapper which normally is quickly disposed of remained on my desk, I didn’t throw it away. And I have to admit, I felt a little better after reading the wrapper. It had the same emotional appeal as a fortune cookie with one exception: everyone who is using this product is feeling ill. Duh! That is why we use Halls – because we are sick and not feeling our best. Isn’t that when we all need a pep talk? Sure, there are days when we feel sick; both emotionally and physically. It is at those times when we reach for a Halls Cough Drop. Halls get it and gets us. What a perfect example of product positioning and understanding the mindset of your target market.
I researched this campaign and found out that it had been running throughout 2010. Apparently, I don’t get sick often enough. Below are video links to the TV ads for the campaign.
Thank you Halls for the “Pep Talk”
Manage your Small Business better