Category Archives: Recession proof your business

Business Coaching – Zero Risk Offer to Increase Your Net Profits

Hi. I’m Andrew Barden, Philanthropic Entrepreneur.


I can help you make more money in your small business at no risk to you. I’ve helped literally thousands small business owners from around the world make more money through improving their marketing strategies and execution of their marketing campaigns.


I don’t charged upfront fees. I work on a contingency contract. Simply put you only pay me a small portion of your increase in net profits. There is never any risk for you when working with me. To learn more about my philosophy and why I call myself a philanthropic entrepreneur, visit http://www.AndrewBarden.com.


The greatest resource of the entrepreneur is also his or her most scarce resource.  It is not money. The scarcest resource you have is your time. If you are willing to invest 30 minutes of your time in your business, I will be willing to do the same.  This could simply be my gift to you or this could be the start of a great business relationship.  When you sign-up for a 30-minute complementary no-obligation consultation, I will help you to assess what might be stopping you from making more money in your particular business. Often it takes an objective third party to diagnose what’s really going on in your business.


Now, given tough economic times and the likelihood that your sales have already been slipping for quite some time,  isn’t now the best time to take action? Isn’t now the best time to consult with experts who have helped thousands of small business owners apply proven principles and strategies in their small business?


I also invite you to connect with me on Linkin.com. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden and invite me to connect. You will see there my professional profile that includes testimonials from small business owners and colleagues, other experts who have witnessed the results I can get for small business owners.


I also invite you to follow me on this blow, read the posts, and sign up to be alerted to new posts.


Finally, I invite you to invest 30 minutes in your small business marketing strategy development. Again, there is no risk to you, as these 30 minutes will be a true conversation and focus on showing you immediate ways to improve your marketing strategy, both online and off-line.


During these 30 minutes I don’t hold anything back. I give you my best, with the hopes that you and I might eventually develop a relationship in which I work with you regularly on a contingency contract. I would normally charge $150 for such a diagnostic. But, to start out any business relationship I practice applying the Law of Reciprocity, I “show up giving.” There are numerous Universal Laws that I’ll help you apply.


There are typically two areas that most small business owners neglect.


1. The business owner’s own mindset: developing prosperity consciousness is the first and foremost responsibility of the business owner. Visits my website at http://www.andrewbarden.com where, as part of my philanthropic entrepreneurial mission, I have made available hundreds of files–including pdfs, audio, and video–under the page called “free prosperity downloads.”


2. The psychological profile of the business’ IDEAL client. Without knowing how your ideal client makes decisions you will not know how to most effectively market and sell to your ideal clients. Not knowing who your ideal client is will make its much more difficult to grow your net profits as you will service clients who are not ideal. In general and ideal client is one who is easy to find easy to reach with a message, response to that message, takes action, is easy to sell to, buys more than your average clients, does business regularly would you, and refers all of his or her family and friends and associates to you.


Applying the 80/20 principle, we know that 20% of your revenue comes from 80% of your clients and 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of your clients. Wouldn’t you like to replace the 80% of your less than ideal clients with the 20% of ideal clients less quadrupling your income, basically making more money in less time. This is the power of developing an ideal clients psychological profile otherwise known as psychographics.


Demographics are the first step and also the easiest step in developing a marketing campaign. Too often small business owners stop at a demographic profile by a list and send off a postcard or flyer or brochure. They then sit and wait for the phone to ring, and unfortunately, little to nothing happens. Have you ever found yourself in that situation?


There’s a simple solution that unfortunately most small business owners don’t know. In order for even an ideal client to respond to a marketing message they need to hear the message in veriest formats from 10 to 12 times before they will take action and contact you. This means that if you send out 5000 postcards you don’t send them to 5000 people once. Instead, you send to 500 people 10 postcards with a similar branding theme yet different messages. You’ll have a similar cost as postage is by far the greatest expense. And you will have a far greater response rate and a much greater return on your investment in the end I seen 400% ROIs in direct mail campaigns.


The other crucial principle most small business owners neglect to apply correctly is generically termed relationship marketing. Roughly 85% of all small businesses in the United States are service based. Even if you are also selling products they’re typically is a decision-making process that requires a live person to interact with the buyer. The sales process typically looks like this:


awareness –> like –> trust –> buy –> repeat buy –> refer


So, in the beginning of the relationship you are simply making your prospect aware of your offer. Your next step is essentially to get them to like you. People do business with those that they like, just like people choose to associate with friends for which they have some affinity.


Once you begin to like someone, notice that they care about your welfare, and notice that they are competence in their particular industry, you can begin to trust them and consider doing business with them. At that point you as the seller of your services would begin to talk about the benefits of doing business with you versus other people, and the various advantages and features of your product or service.


Unfortunately, most people sell or create promotions that focus on price, discounts, features, and forgot to establish an awareness, affinity, and trust in the relationship. This is why many advertisements and other direct mail or e-mail campaigns simply do not produce a significant return and often even no return… in fact it is often poor marketing strategy and field campaigns that is the direct cause of small businesses going out of business.


You may have heard from the Small Business Administration how well over two thirds of all small businesses failed in the first four years. And even greater numbers fail in subsequent years. Without effective marketing producing strong returns on your investment of money and time and the sales process that is engineered specifically to cater to your ideal clients preferences, wants, and hot buttons, you’re more likely to fail than to succeed in building your small business.


Growing your business is simple, but, it’s simply not that easy. Why is it not that easy? It is not that easy because most small business owners neglect to understand their own mindset and the mindset of their ideal client. If you work with a business coach who can help you develop prosperity consciousness as well as the psychological profile of your ideal clients your likelihood of succeeding in your business venture increases exponentially.


There are well over a dozen small business coaching companies whose fees range from 3000 upwards to 25,000 or more. Their sales pitch essentially reads like give us your money and maybe will be able to help you. Does that sound like an inviting offer? Of course not.


The most irresistible offer for small business owner who is looking for clarity and confidence in their marketing strategy and campaign execution is to find a business coach who will instead of acting like a vendor will act like a partner. A partner in your business would, like you, be willing to invest their time or what we call sweat equity, at their own risk. Your partner, would then sharer in the net profits with you.


When you hire a business coach who works on a contingency contract you are essentially securing a partner who makes a small portion of your net profits that they help you to create. Sometimes he can happen quickly. Sometimes it may take a few months. But in the end there is an equal investment of time. Doesn’t that sound like an irresistible offer? Doesn’t that sound like the kind of relationship you want to have with your business coach?


In uncertain economic times business owners who will survive will take much more calculated risks. They will do their homework in order to make decisions with clarity and confidence. A business coach who can walk you through a proven system that has enabled literally thousands of small business owners to achieve strong ROIs in various industries in numerous cultures and economic conditions around the world is hands down one of the best partners a business owner would want to have.


Invite me to start that relationship by signing up for an initial complementary 30 minute business diagnostic session. At the end of the conversation you and I will both make a decision to move onto the next step or not. I serve over 70 clients every month as of March 2009, most of them in Los Angeles County. However I’m willing to add a few more. So long as you are fluent in English, and are passionate about growing your small business revenues and willing to commit time and resources to achieve your business goals and we might be a good fit.


I look forward to speaking with you soon. If you are eager to start a relationship feel free to contact me via e-mail at Andrew@AndrewBarden.com or call my toll-free cell phone at 1 – 866-339-4619. This number, again, rings directly to my personal cell phone, so please only call during business hours Pacific Standard Time, from 9am to 6pm, Monday through Friday.


To your success,


Andrew Barden
Founder, Philanthropic Entrepreneur
http://www.AndrewBarden.com

1-866-339-4619

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Weathering the Storm – What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

Weathering the Storm -What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

By Robert Imbriale,
The Motivational Marketer

Business owners from coast to coast are worried, scared, and some are even considering closing up shop because of what they see as uncertain times ahead. While it’s true that there will be many business closings ahead, your business doesn’t have to be one of them.

What’s behind much of the fear and worry is the constant barrage of bad news about industry giants failing at an alarming rate. And, it’s not just the what’s in the news. Our conversations have also turned negative about anything related to the economy.

What has happened to many business owners is that they have taken what they have heard or read about in the news and given it more attention than it truly deserves. That has created doubt, which soon becomes fear, and not long after that, you’ll find these same business owners throwing in the towel and shutting their doors forever.

And then there’s the trickle-down effect to consider. When one business fails, other business owners then begin to look at that failure to support their beliefs that things are as bad as they are hearing about in the news.

If your business is going to succeed, the first thing you need to do is shift your attention away from all of this and instead focus on things that are indeed more positive. I’m not suggesting that you ignore it all, but try to at least get a new perspective on it all.

For instance, yesterday, I was at the local packing and shipping store where business was booming. In fact, the owner told me he was having a great holiday season, despite what the fact that if you believe what you’re hearing about in the news would make you think this could simply not be possible.
I’m sure that you won’t see a story about this business in the news, either, so don’t go looking for it.

Now, I’m not trying to blame the news media for all our troubles. These companies are nothing more than businesses that respond to what their customers buy. We buy bad news hundreds of times more than good news. If we bought only good news, that what you’d see more of. So it’s not entirely the media’s fault.

Closer to home, I started to look for signs that things weren’t quite as bad as I’d heard. Sure enough, there is the landscape crew out on my front lawn, so I asked him how his business was doing. It was slower, but he was still getting big landscaping jobs, one totaling more than $125,000.00!
In my own business, I’m seeing more and more clients contacting me for my executive level coaching services because they are looking to make this coming year better than the previous one!

“What?” People actually not looking at things from a negative perspective? Well, they’ll see, you think to yourself because you “know” they just can’t be right.

Then you look a little deeper at what’s really happening right now and what you begin to see is that this is the perfect time to be positive about the future.

Think about it this way. When the economy was bubbling hot, houses became almost unaffordable as prices rose to record-setting highs. Yes, cheap money was indeed behind all of that, but had it continued to go the way it was going, in just a decade from now, the average home in this country might have topped a million dollars!

Things are simply adjusting and getting back to more reasonable levels. And, as in any adjustment period, it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for a little while. And, there is a lot you can do right now to take advantage of all the changes.

Here are some suggestions for you.

First, go out of your way to find stories of success. Find people who are now talking about better times ahead instead of hanging around people who can only parrot what they hear in the news.

Then, start creating your plans for this next year by putting down on paper everything you wish to have and do in the next 12 months. Go ahead and be bold here because big dreams are what create big results.

Next, create, find, invent a way to get yourself around people who are positive, upbeat, and who are seeing all the opportunities that are now being created that could never have been if things had stayed the way they were. Engage in conversations of success and what you want your business to do, and what you’re planning for the next year.

This is where a good coach can be extremely valuable to you and your business, and it’s a worthwhile investment if you simply can’t find anybody to motivate you and hold you accountable.

If you do these simple steps, what you’ll find is that things aren’t quite as bad as they are made to appear, and in fact, there are many places that are thriving right now.

Think about this. Each and every day billions and billions of dollars changes hands on the Internet. That number may be lower than it once was when it broke all previous records, but it has not stopped! It’s just lower, and nothing more.

Your job is simply to find new and innovative ways to tap into the money stream that is flowing and will continue to flow, no matter how bad things may get out there.

Realize that millionaires are made in good times and bad. It’s not about what’s going on out there as much as it is about how you think about and what you do about it.

Your success comes from seeing things that other people can’t or won’t see. Every smart and successful business owner sees things as they want them to be rather than as they are.

They put their focus on what they are trying to create instead of what they are getting because they realize that what they are getting right now is simply a result of what they did, or failed to do, in the past. What they get tomorrow and beyond will be the result of what they do today and everyday going forward.

In a nutshell, you can, and you should be planning for a great year ahead. You should be thinking about how you want your business to look a year from today, and start working on those plans right now.

If you’ll do these things, and I mean really do them, instead of just giving them lip service, I know you’ll be pleased with the results you’ll get in the coming year, regardless of how bad the media tells us things are out there.

Remember, drama is what sells newspapers, not stories of success. Go ahead and buck the trend, plan ahead, and create a business that will stand the test of what’s ahead… and cash in as all your competitor’s go out of business because they got scared and their customers now start buying from you!

Think about it. You can either struggle in the coming year, or you can thrive, and it’s really all up to you.

About the Author

Robert Imbriale is the author of the best-selling book, Motivational Marketing. He is a successful business coach, and seminar leader who has helped hundreds of thousands of business owners create bigger, more successful businesses, and he can help you too. Tell him what your biggest challenge is with your business right now! Go to http://www.AskRobertImbriale.com If you would like to have Robert help you with your business, you can reach him at 1-800-541-3816 or at http://www.RobertImbriale.com

Best Practices for Business Social Networking


Hi Again.  A lot of my clients are asking me:
"What are the best practices for business social networking?"
So, I'm submitting the following brief assessment, with more to come I'm sure.  First, I'm recommending that businesses set up their own social network.  See ning.com to learn more about a free service that you can link to from your main site.
Many small businesses can develop a much stronger presence online, reach more prospective clients, and send out the right message when prospective clients do a background check on the principles.  If small business owners are smart, they will recognize the need to be aware of industry trends.  In what are the larger companies investing?  Is it important for a small business to adapt to the market?  I'd suggest that those small businesses who do not place themselves in front of their prospective clients, whether online or offline, are far less likely to attract new clients.  Larger companies invest a lot of money into following consumer behavior in order to generate leads.  Let's take a look at what the trends are in general... then, you'll want to study the bigger players in your industry.

Industry Trends

See the above graphic as it relates to the below quote from Forrester Research regarding the affect of social networking on businesses.  They said…

“In a new report written for the market research firm, as detailed by Larry Dignan at CNET News.com’s sibling site ZDNet, analyst G. Oliver Young predicts that “Enterprise 2.0” applications–buttoned-up versions of the Web 2.0 apps we all know and love–will be a $4.6 billion industry by 2013. Social networks, Young wrote, will make up the bulk of that, with nearly $2 billion invested in them.

This means we’ll probably see a lot of intra-company networking tools (souped-up corporate directories, for example, or internal forums) as well as more interactive varieties of technical support. Not surprisingly, Young’s report predicts the biggest adopters will be large companies where you can’t just stroll over to the HR or IT folks for a little face time, and where instituting collaborative tools from 37Signals or Zoho could speed things up when not everyone’s based in the same building (or time zone).

Smaller businesses, meanwhile, seemed a bit skeptical. Sixty-eight percent of small businesses (fewer than 99 employees) surveyed by Forrester said that they had no intention of instituting “Enterprise 2.0” applications, compared with 51 percent of global companies (20,000+ employees) who said they were already actively buying them up.

Behind social networking, the Forrester report asserts that the “Enterprise 2.0″ landscape of 2013 will consist of mashups ($682 million), RSS technologies ($563 million), wikis ($451 million), blogs ($340 million), and podcasting ($273 million).”

That's a lot of capital invested in social networking.  
How is your business keeping up with online trends?

Intro to Web 2.0 – Entrepreneurs are Obtaining More Clients Marketing Online for their Offiline Business


The wave of the future is here… and it is Web 2.0. If you haven’t heard already, there is a new two-way communication required online.  As they say, “out with the old, in with the new,” and the internet is constantly evolving.  So, your internet marketing strategies must keep up, too.

If you are not leveraging the new ways clients are researching and finding out about you, you’re leaving money on the table. In “times of old” people relied on the Internet as a one-way tool for communicating with others. Most business entrepreneurs will set up a website, then offer their opinions, advice and more to anyone willing to listen, pay attention or chime in.

That has all changed. Now people are relying on a relatively old concept to change the way they do business on the Web. Instead of using the Internet as a one-way tool for communicating, people are now realizing the Web’s potential for creating an interactive, dynamic environment. In this environment, individuals, consumers and businesses can collaborate and communicate in new and simpler ways.

When we think of the term “next generation”, we automatically think of something new and innovative.

The way se use the Web is new, but the technology supporting what people do with the Web has existed for decades.

While 2.0 isn’t exactly new, the next generation user or modern web users are using the technology supporting it in new ways. Long gone are the days of old where reading information on the Web was much like reading a book. Today people use the web for various purposes, including sharing information with others and to collaborate and communicate with others. To understand this, you must understand 2.0.

What Is It?

First popularized in 2004 and coined by O’Reilly Media, Web 2.0 is the “next generation” Web…

Web 2.0 is a broad term describing many different kinds of websites, websites that provide a platform where end-users have control over the content of sites. Web 2.0 includes social networking sites, wikis, sites like Squidoo.com and MySpace.com, folk-sonomies, Blogs, RSS Feeds and other sites that emphasize collaboration and sharing among users.

Web 2.0 is The NEW Internet. It’s a new way of communicating using the World Wide Web. It focuses on building communities where people come together to share their ideas, passions and interests. Some people used collaborative and community-based sites since the dawn of the Web. Only recently have people other than consumers begun realizing the true potential of collaborative networking.

The “old” way of doing things focused on individual users creating applications from which they presented visitors information. For example, a person sat at their computer, created a website and provided information to visitors. They sold product to visitors. They allowed feedback, usually in the form of a one-way email communication, web form or other application.

The “new” way: Web 2.0 encourages an approach to the Web where people form communities and collaborate to provide information on the Web. Instead of one person sitting at the end of a computer terminal, there are multiple people at many terminals all capable of accessing the same information, like a list of your favorites you bookmark on the Web.

Consider for example, Wikipedia.org. This is an ideal example of how the Web is transforming. This modern-day encyclopedia of information is a collection of insights and information gathered from people across the world. There is no one “editor” or author, rather people share and collaborate to create a resource that includes insights from all walks of life. The technology supporting this site allows users to collaborate and edit information using some formal and informal guidelines. The community works to approve or disprove new information, but overall, just about anyone can place information on the site.

To understand Web 2.0, it will help to explore some of the common sites and terms used in conjunction with this new web platform. In the next section, we will spend some time exploring the different sites that make up Web 2.0, and how you can use them to your benefit.

Web 2.0 Websites

Web 2.0 websites are not built using the traditional computer “platform” even though many people refer to the technology supporting Web 2.0 as a platform in its own right. Web 2.0 sites are noted by their ability to enhance and promote open communication among users. They operate in a much-decentralized manner than traditional sites do.

To get a better idea of how Web 2.0 works, let’s use the analogy of a corporation. Typically, in a traditional hierarchical corporation, information is passed from the top down. You have the CEO of the company, who may pass information to the controller, who may pass information to accounting managers, who may pass information to line workers. If the company were operating like Web 2.0, everyone would disseminate information horizontally, through shared systems. Meaning, the person on the bottom of the chain of command would have instant access to the same information the person at the top of the organization might.

One marked difference distinguishing Web 2.0 from the web of old is the philosophy that supports it. Web 2.0 encourages freedom of use, and sharing among all users. It supports the disintegration of hierarchical models of use, and instead promotes a horizontal or collaborative approach to knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing is after all, a collective effort that includes the information and expertise of multiple members within an organization, community or other forum.

Whether sharing photographs, personal journals or data, Web 2.0 allows users to create communities from scratch, using many promising new technologies. Some examples of Web 2.0 sites include: Craiglist, Skype, del.icio.us. Technorati, Squidoo, Flickr and more. We will talk more about some of these sites later. Now that you have a better idea of “what” Web 2.0 is, let’s look at some of the different platforms used by users. Remember, not all Web 2.0 sites are alike.

Web 2.0 and Business

Web 2.0 is not popular among consumers only. Businesses are now realizing the potential benefits Web 2.0 has to offer. While many consumers think of popular applications like MySpace when they ponder Web 2.0, many fail to connect this technology with its potential for business.

Corporations can reduce much of the expense associated with installing and configuring essential software and applications on individual computers when they take advantage of the blogs available.

Web 2.0 Key Features

Most sites, regardless of their platform, share key features if they are 2.0 sites. Here are some of the key features and benefits associated with this new wave in technology.

1. Web 2.0 encourages greater collaboration among webmasters and visitors, so that interactive communities are created on the Web.

2. Web 2.0 approaches the Web as a platform for building conversation and communities.

3. The “new” Web focuses more on social networking and sharing, through various means including through blogs, wikis and more.

Rather than have an IT manager set up, configure and maintain a company’s applications and software on corporate servers, a company can now access a vendor’s server to acquire the information they need for their company.

Companies can now also share information and collaborate with one another in new and interesting ways. This will require business managers to start thinking more horizontally, moving away from a hierarchical model of communicating to one where knowledge is shared freely among employees, suppliers, vendors and even competitors.

Some company’s are even encouraging their customers to take advantage of social networks to help them advertise. GM for example allowed consumers to create commercials for some of their popular vehicles a while back. While many of these left much room for improvement, such integration allows for greater innovation and shared interest among key agents – consumers.

A company can also help businesses make working more practical and simpler. Rather than have individuals use stand-alone systems only, company’s can now encourage the joint use of software and computers among multiple users. Data can easily be shared from one person to next, meetings can be held online, and problem solving can take place from a much broader perspective.

As with anything, there are drawbacks to using this technology, even in the world of business. Business entrepreneurs have to ensure they fully understand the implications and utility of using Web 2.0 before they adopt the technology. Many must also realize that this technology has existed for some time, but offers an interactive approach to marketing and everyday business operations. A company should examine how they can integrate Web 2.0 into daily operations while still hedging risks.

What We Learned

We 2.0 is a community-based platform or network, one encouraging shared participation and community effort. Web applications common to this new platform include both Web and non-web applications (like instant messaging). Using this new platform, end-users throughout the globe can share data, information, photographs, personal insights and more.

A great example of community-based site that you can literally have set-up and running in 30-minutes is Ning.com. Their base product is free so you can set-up your an online social community in minutes. More and more businesses are also realizing the potential benefits of using a collaborative application and software such as that provided through Web 2.0 technologies. The entire way we do business is changing. Now that your interest is peaking, let us look at some of these applications, and the technology supporting Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 Sites

How do you know if you have landed on a Web 2.0 platform? Chances are, if you are asked to contribute to the content or body of knowledge contained on the site, you’ve hit the lottery. Most sites are those that encourage visitors to add their insights to a page, whether through ongoing commentary, through editing or by any other means available. Web 2.0 sites differ in their mission and purpose from traditional web pages. Some provide users the opportunity to share personal biographies, pictures and journals.

Examples include sites like MySpace.com. This fast and growing site is popular among the young and old. Even celebrities use the site to post pictures, update their fans and promote their latest shows or movies. One of the advantages of Web 2.0 is users can use it to express their opinions or passions, but also passively promote their products or services in the process. Here are some other common sites characteristic of this new trend.

Social Bookmarking Sites

Social bookmarking sites are sites that allow Internet users to classify and share their Internet bookmarks or favorites with others. They are similar to social networking sites, where users share content, personal photographs and other information. Social networking and social bookmarking sites alike both work to promote a community-type look and feel.

While the intent of social networking sites is more to create communities of like-minded people, social bookmarking sites concentrate more on increasing the popularity of common Internet bookmarks or favorites. You can tell the whole world what your passions are, and increase the page rank to your favorite sites, by placing tags on them and listing them in social bookmarking networks.

Social networks are nothing new, they have existed for decades on the Internet. Only recently however, have people taken a keen interest in their potential, especially from a marketing perspective. Think about it; you put bookmarks to all your blogs, sites and lists in a public forum. Others can link to your sites and click through to visit your sites through the social networking site you list with. You increase knowledge and awareness of your sites and also get free advertising and targeted traffic.

If the quality of information you provide is worthwhile, chances are you benefit tremendously from this new technology.

There is little difference between the two technologies, many use them as one in the same. If you do plan to use social networking or bookmarking sites to publicize your content, just be sure you do it in a non-threatening, non-confrontational and legitimate manner. No one likes a spammer, and you can spam social sites.

Remember, people join these sites and post information because they want quality links and information from real people. If you use the sites as a general “bulletin board” or classified ad, you diminish the value and might even get booted off.

In fact, one of the more commonly cited “drawbacks” of these sites is they do not rely on a standard set of tagging or keywords, so people can often set up unclear tags or fill the site with misspelled tags in the name of driving more traffic to their sites. Many sites are more likely to corrode as people use them more as a page rank boosting or search engine tool than to provide valuable information. Don’t book the same site repeatedly or you will get into trouble.

Weblogs

You’ve probably heard the term “blog.” This is short for web log or weblog. This is a site that allows users to create journal or diary-like entries in a chronological way. Users often post blogs or short entries and articles on information they are passionate about or have an interest in. Still others focus on providing content about news, entertainment or political commentary.

Many use these as online journals and diaries to communicate the latest and greatest events with their friends. Most bloggers now include photos and other graphic elements in their web pages, along with basic text. You can even use MP3 or videos to enhance the quality of content provided in blogs.

Most bloggers allow visitors to post feedback or comments about their blog entries, so in some ways web logs serve as a mini community or forum. Popular blogs may receive hundreds of visitors every month. There are search engines whose sole purpose involve tracking blogs and related sites, including Technorati.com for example.

One of the reasons web logs are popular for marketing is they allow users to provide content that is updated frequently. You can post daily, weekly or monthly. The more frequently you post information to blogs, the more likely you are to maintain your page ranking.

Like social bookmarking sites, blogs are not anything new, but are now gaining more attention and popularity among individuals, communities and online entrepreneurs and marketers. People are using them in many ways, even politically, to announce their passions, beliefs, purpose or to pitch their products and services while providing visitors with valuable content and information.

Like social networking sites, blogs are targets for spammers, who frequently post spam and links to junk sites in the comments section of blogs, so most webmasters will have to monitor this to avoid clogging their blog with unnecessary spam.

Everyone these days, from celebrities again to political commentators use blogs to deliver information and news to people throughout the globe. There are private and public blogs, blogs focusing on entertainment, those focusing on politics, the media and people. Even corporations are starting their own blog campaigns to encourage people to investigate their company.

Of course, as with anything there are problems with blogs and potential concerns. For example, many people do not realize the consequences of posting potentially negative or defamatory information on their blogs. Yes, free speech is important. But bloggers beware, there are many instances where bloggers have been cited for liability or defamation. Make sure if you communicate you do so wisely and with good intent.

Folksonomies

An interesting name for an interesting concept. These are sites that allow users to categorize and classify information on the Web, including websites or pages, photographs and other information like links. Users can classify information using tags, or special labels containing brief information about each categorized piece of information. An example of a popular “foksonomy” site is Flickr, where users can classify and organize and share photographs. Yet another isdel.icio.us that allows users to tag and classify information ranging

from web pages to links to blogs and more. As with anything, once information is tagged and categorized, it becomes more easily and readily available to the public. Think of tagging as a unique way of creating navigation bars, bars that reside throughout the Web or that are easily accessed through multiple portals on the Web, rather than through a single web page.

Tagged sites are more likely to be picked up by search engines, though some people will refer to popular folksonomy sites to find information they are looking for rather than rely on popular search engines including Google.

There are some disadvantages of using categorical sites as these. For one, the tagging “system” isn’t really well defined. Because there are no exact rules or regulations defining how tags should be implemented or inserted, many are inserted inconsistently. This can make navigating these sites a bit tricky.

However, if used wisely, folksonomy sites and tagged pages are an excellent way to provide information to the public in an easily navigable format. As with anything, entrepreneurs and other small business owners can use these sites to help promote their products, services or link to their web pages or affiliate marketing sites on the Web.

Wikis

Another example of Web 2.0 in full force is the wiki. These are websites that allow individuals to add, edit and even remove content. Many act like an encyclopedia, like where users can add content creating a global online dictionary or encyclopedia of sorts. The problem with such sites is the information provided in the sites may not always be accurate. Remember, anyone can log into the site and edit, remove or add information, so most “wikis” need some form of monitoring.

This usually comes in the form of community collaboration, where a group or wiki community work together to make sure any and all users are engaging in reasonable and acceptable practices when adding information.

As a benefit, these sites may include more information than traditional strict “book” type or “knowledge based” learning centers. Most of these sites work on the premise that communities will band together to provide honest and positive information, rather than work in a malicious or malevolent way.

Wikis are less of a tool for self-promotion than some other common Web 2.0 interfaces like social bookmarking sites and blogs. There primary foundation is a content based site and community of people gathered together to learn and grow. Many are globally based.

To find information in a wiki, one can often rely on an internal search engine that will look for data using key search terms, much like one might look for information on Google or any other mainstream Web application.

Other Applications

Of course, there are many other types of Web applications that quality as Web 2.0 interfaces or platforms for users. Consider for example,YouTube, which allows users from all walks of life to create streamlined video clips to the world at large. Once again, this site is one that commoners and celebutants alike have attached to. Users can post any type of video clip they like using a simple web cam. Many provide parodies of political figures and celebrities, while others do nothing more than film ordinary events. Not surprisingly however, YouTube and sites like it are among the fastest growing on the Web, because face it… people like to see other people in action.

What We Learned

There are many types of sites one can categorize as part of the growing Web 2.0 base. These sites are user-friendly sites that promote socialization, collaboration and community building. These sites are also frequently used as a platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs to introduce their products and services to the public without blatantly advertising them.

Many Web 2.0 sites, including social bookmarking sites, have existed for centuries. They are only now gaining popularity as people begin to realize the potential for boosting business and page ranks. These sties are also idea for individuals that just want an opportunity to communicate with a global community. Of critical importance in the future will be finding ways to help keep these sites “spam” free and user friendly. As with any technology, Web 2.0 has its criticisms, including the likelihood that the sites will become corrupted by malicious individuals whose sole purpose for posting is “spamming.” Now that you have a better handle on what Web 2.0 is and how people use it, let’s review some frequently asked questions.

Web 2.0 Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know a little more about Web 2.0 and how you can benefit, let’s explore some less commonly understood questions surrounding this incredible technology.

Q. What is the Semantic Web?

A. Semantic technologies often promote Web 2.0 sites. The Semantic Web enables users to create files explaining relationships between data sets. This technology allows for greater data integration and helps users classify and categorize information. Many also use the term “digital library” to identify these types of sites and this technology. It is the platform from which social bookmarking and other taxonomy type or categorical sites are created from.

Q. What is tagging (or tags)?

A. Tagging is a way users can classify or organize and categorize data, and is common on many sites including social bookmarking sites and folksonomies. How it works is users attach tags to data items like web pages, their blog entries or even photographs they want classified and categorized. Tagging is not the same as the Semantic system, which allows users to categorize information using unique identifiers rather than common tags. Relationships in a Semantic environment are more specific than in a tagging environment. For example, when one tags a blog page, they may tag it with terms like,

internet marketing” or “summer picnic” whereas when one classifies information semantically, they will tag the information using a unique identifier. If someone classifies a web blog entry for example, they may identify it using the blog author’s name, the date of creation and the source of content used to create the blog entry.

Q. I still do not fully understand Web 2.0. Can you expand?

A. Web 2.0 is a client-sided application, meaning end-users, people sitting at their computer, can categorize, tag and store data on the Web and share it with others. For example, let’s say you bookmark 3 of your favorite sites. Usually, when you visit another computer, your bookmarks will not show up when you log in. When you use Web 2.0 technologies however, you bookmark your favorite sites to public forums, so you can access them from anywhere. At the same time, anyone else can access your favorites from any computer anywhere in the world. Some call this “intelligent” sharing of data. It is certainly a new way to classify and navigate information provided on the Web.

Q. How can I learn more about this exciting new technology?

Enroll in the SBDCnetwork.com eLearning course to learn how to build your own Web 2.0 business system the right way! We show you with video, podcasts and easy-to-read workbooks the right tools and techniques to start building massive traffic to your web site and turnmore visitors into customers or prospects.

Q. How do I use a weblog? Isn’t it dangerous?

To use a blog or web log, all you have to do is set up an account. Anyone can set up a blog these days. Most people uses blogs as online journals or commentaries. You can share photographs of family members; you can share personal insights about political subjects or subjects you feel passionate about. The danger comes when someone uses blogs in a slanderous or malicious way. You should note that their may be some repercussions to posting your opinions on the Web. In some countries, people have been arrested for information they placed on a private blog. You should also know that when you post information to the Web, you are placing your personal information for the entire world to see. So if you do not want something public, do not post it on a blog, or keep your blog private.

Many people, including media moguls now use blogs to deliver news information on the Web in a consistent and timely fashion. As more and more people turn to the Web for information and advice, it makes sense to put information on the Web for others to access. People can comment on your Blog entries if you set up your blog in a way that allows them to do so, but this isn’t always a necessity. Some people prefer others do not comment on their blog, because this may result in spamming.

Q. What is RSS?

This is another technology rapidly gaining popularity. RSS technology, or “Really Simple Syndication” is a tool anyone can use to tell the world at large about new blog entries or web entries. What you do is set up your site content using RSS tools or content aggregators. What happens is any time you post new information to your page, that information is fed to people that are linked to your feed.

Q. If Web 2.0 isn’t new, who cares?

Web 2.0 isn’t new, but people are finding new and innovative ways to use it. If strategic, you can use Web 2.0 to market your products and services and promote your business or site to millions of people around the world. You do have to do this in a politically correct and decent way. Many applications allow readers to interact with the Web pages they browse. These applications are all part of Web 2.0 technology, and include SOAP, XML, JAVASCRIPT and AJAX. These interesting technologies allow you to interact with a web page that is live in much the same way you would interact with a page from your own computer, a page you created.

Web 2.0 isn’t new, but people are now taking an active interest in becoming members of a global community. Thus, Web 2.0 is becoming a lot more popular than it has been in the past. Sites including Gmail, Flickr and Digg are all the rage among collaborative types interested in link and information sharing on the Web

Conclusions

Web 2.0 is a popular term used to describe an old system but new way of thinking about and using the Internet. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, you will find 2.0 is a great tool for promoting your business and establishing your credibility on the Web.

If you are someone interested in sharing information and forming collective communities on the Internet, you will also find 2.0 technology something new, exciting and innovative to explore.

No matter your intent or purpose, it’s worth a little time and effort. So take your time and explore 2.0 for all it is worth. Have fun, and share!



Small business plan – build it and they will come

Hi again. This is in some way a continuation from my previous post.

Business is simple. Really. Ask yourself this: how does any business make money? Money comes to you from people. People make a decision to do business with you. Money doesn’t come from owning a lease on a storefront in a high traffic location, from websites, from post cards, from ads. Money comes from people making decisions. When people make decisions to do business with you, to exchange a value that they want for the cash in their pocket, you have successfully transacted a business relationship, both an immediate profitable transaction as well as a long term relationship (long term if you are following the NEW RULES). Now more than ever before in the history of business, devleoping a long term relationship with your preferred or ideal clients is crucial to your success.

There is no magic formula for writing a small business plan, but, you’ll see similarities in nearly every guide book or course available. In fact, I’ve spent years researching and reviewing the industry’s best books, programs, instructors, and general theories and principles. You need to ask yourself the right questions in the right order in order to develop a step-by-step plan. Once you’ve thoroughly answered all the necessary questions for your particular type of business, you’ll have a bullet proof plan that will not only make sure you launch your business’s marketing campaigns successfully, but, also give you confidence and clarity in making decisions based on your knowledge of what is most likely to bring you the greatest profit in the shortest amount of time.

Plus, if you are looking to raise capital to either start a new business or do a turn around or expansion of an existing business, you’re far more likely to get all the money you need since it will be obvious to those with money to lend or invest that you’ve done your homework. Did you know that the 2nd more common reason that small businesses fail is that they start their business under capitalized. In other words, it took longer and was more expensive to get started than the business owners predicted, and they simply ran out of money. How can you avoid this very common mistake?

The answer is obvious: start out with a lot more money available to you than you think you’ll ever need. Keep in mind that 67% of the Inc 500 businesses started with less than $25,000 cash. So, you don’t necessarily need a lot of money in order to grow rapidly. But, compare that statistic with another: over 85% of start ups that are still standing after 4 years all had a business plan.

A good business coach can help you identify government agencies like the Small Business Development Centers who help you apply for SBA-guaranteed low interest loans.  Visit http://www.SBDCnetwork.com to find your local SBDC.  You can also find out some foundations who give out NO interest loans to start ups. A good business coach will help you gain confidence to network with those in the venture capital and angel investor circles as well as make presentations that ultimately establishes relationships with individual and institutional investors who end up depositing large checks into your bank account, thus enabling you to launch your business with confidence, clarity, and fully capitalized.

Consider that the average mistake of a small business owner costs them about $15,000, hiring a coach or a consultant for a lot less than that for a few hours can make a huge difference. In writing an effective small business plan, you need not have all the answers, you just need to recruit those who can help you get all the answers. You’ll need to understand how to do your homework both online, in business libraries, and with consultants who have specialized knowledge that will greatly increase your chances of succeeding in your marketing campaigns to generate new business.

Small businesses can succeed even during bad economic times

Hi again.  I’d like to offer you some strategies to help your small business grow even during our current recession.  Basically, there are opportunities for most industries to turn lemons into lemonade.

As a consultant for many years to both private clients and clients of Small Business Development Centers, I’ve seen some businesses succeed while others fail.  I’ve noticed that the ones who succeed, even during touch economic times, are usually the ones who do their homework… they take the time to study the market.  They have developed their strategies and documented those strategies in a thorough business plan.

Basically, failing to plan is planning to fail.  Successful business people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.  Are you unwilling to take a few hours each week and dedicate them to studying economic trends that affect your business?  Or, are you “planning to fail” like all of the other people around you who work blindly in their local, national, or international market.  Now is the time to do MORE studying and less WATCHING of the news!  Get out of your TV room and into your local college library.

First, I’d like to applaud your interest in doing whatever it takes to successfully start or grow your own business, especially in a challenging economy that we now face here in the US, and congradulate you for having the courage to change your life for the better.  Running your own business can be both rewarding and challenging, and researching and writing and effective business plan will go a long way to making sure you are a success.  When you research and write a plan, you’re doing the kind of work that Fortune 1000 companies do in order to increase their profits year after year.  You’ll gain clarity and confidence in making decisions based on the knowledge and understanding of principles that make the best businesses successful.

So, welcome to the new rules.  You’ve got to be more savvy and more careful in this new economy.  You’ll need to map out a step by step process for you to move from where you are to where you want to be.  If you don’t have a “entrepreneur coach” or “business coach,” you’ll want to hire one who has been down the road you need to take.   I’d recommend that you check out the local franchise owner from a company for whom I used to work as an Membership Advisor.   Visit them at http://www.onecoach.com.

One of the key things I learned from the highly successful founders of OneCoach is that your own mindset, belief systems, confidence, and decision making habits, often unconscious, can lead your business down a path of success or failure.  If you don’t make consistently the right decision, you’re going to doom your business even if you have a product or service in high demand with little competition.

“Know thyself” is a command from the philosophers that applies equally to entrepreneurs.  Know what your tendencies are, how emotionally involved you are in your business to see if you are making decisions based on emotions of fear or hope or greed instead of making wise rational objective decisions.  You’ll want to get in the habit of consulting with people more often than you ever have been before.  Just like in real estate the motto is “location, location, location,” in developing the best strategies to take your business to where you want it to be, you need to “consult, consult, consult.”  Make sense?

You’ll also want to look into business plan writing software.  I’d recommend Business Plan Pro by Palo Alto.  Get their latest version if you want to pay full price or get last year’s version for a discount.  I’ve found killer deals on business plan software in the clearance section of Office Depot:  last year’s software at 1/3 the cost!  Software will guide you through all the number crunching and create automatic and pretty looking reports for you.  And it will ask you not all, but, MOST of the questions you’ll need to have solid and thorough answers to before you start any marketing campaign.

You’ll also want to do some market research and start following the blogs of the nations best economists.  I’d recommend the book Basic Economics.  I don’t recall the subtitle off hand but I’ll look it up and post it for you.

Just as much as you want to learn what the best practices are for your particular industry, i.e. learn from the most successful people around you, you’ll also want to find out from failed business owners what took them out of the game.  This information can often be even more valuable.  Learn from others’ mistakes.  Now, sometimes, when asked, people don’t truly know all the factors that lead to their failure … or for that matter, their success.  So, take what they say with a grain of salt.  But, still, you’ll want to ask.

You may have heard that the Small Business Administration, a Federal government agency, has reported that about 60% of all small businesses fail within the first 4 years.  So, you’re probably asking, “How can I beat the odds?”  In this blog, we’ll cover all the common mistakes and help you navigate the waters so you don’t drown.  You’ll also learn from me all the logical but often overlooked marketing and sales strategies that can lead to an increase in the return of your investment of time and money.
Without sales, and the marketing process necessary to get those sales, you’re business will not last.  I will teach you in simple plain language exactly what homework you’ll need to do in order to develop effective marketing strategies.  When you understand your own strengths and weaknesses as it relates to your business, that is, your own personality from an objective point of view of a good psychologist, and when you understand the psychology of your preferred client or customer, you’ll know exactly what to do and what not to do to generate the greatest profit form the lowest risk of marketing investment.  The strategies are simple.  They simply take time to develop and test.

If you are like most small business owners, though.  You simply won’t take the time to do it… and that is why you are most likely not to have a profitable business as the economy weakens.  I strongly recommend that you start planning now, as the economy isn’t going to get any better any time soon.  I’m confident, since I’ve been doing my homework.

Too often, small business owners act like foolish generals of an army:  they send out their troops with no plan, no understanding of the battlefield, no weapons, no ammo, and no defenses.  Just how likely is it that they are goign to win a war like that?  Instead, you’ll want to research and write your plan, raise capital if you need to, and establish relationships with all the right people… partners, vendors, and clients.  Actually, it is a lot simpler than you think.

But, if you haven’t been in the habit of doing even simple things, things that you KNOW you need to be doing, what is the liklihood that you are going to start doing them?  That’s why you need to hire a coach, hire a business plan writer, hire a market research firm, and work with as many of the free service providers made available to you in your local community, like the SBDCs and SCORE counselors.  Attend their low cost workshops and sign up for their free counseling.  To find the local SBDC near you, visit:  http://www.SBDCnetwork.com

Create a team that will help you recession-proof your business.  Become the smart general that plans, prepares, recruits, edifies, protects, and feeds its army.  Then your business can “Be all it can be.”  :O)