One small hurdle can equal hours of pain and lost sales - 1 comment

Wednesday the 4th of March, 2009 | Articles | Business | Tools |

I have recently been working with a team (who is a new team within an older corporation) to get their website and ecommerce system up to par.  The blogging platform, ecommerce platform and proprietary login system are substandard at best but they’re the required platforms by IT.  Two very small issues have become a severe nightmare.

1) The username field only allows for 15 characters
a) The page doesn’t notify the limitation to the user ahead of time and plenty of people are used to using their email address which can easily exceed 15 characters
b) When the user goes over 15 characters, they are greeted with a red error stating “System Error, please try again later.”

2) When a user does go under the required characters by chance, they get dropped off at their user profile page instead of continuing with their checkout.

These two seemingly small issues drive 80% of their customers to require multiple phone and/or email touches for assistance on checkout and countless abandoned carts.  Two months since launch of their new ecommerce site, this issue is still not resolved.

Amazon has sympathy for early adopters - no comments

Wednesday the 9th of April, 2008 | Customer Service | News |

During the Christmas season, I had purchased an HD DVD player from Amazon believing that HD DVD would win the format wars due to superior pricing.  Lower prices with comparable quality equals market share...I was wrong.  My eight year old DVD player had given out finally so I decided my brand new obsolete player was still worth having to play normal DVD’s.  I was pleasantly surprised this morning to receive an email from Amazon that basically said, “Hey we know you f*cked up by choosing the loosing format, but we’re gonna help make it a little better by giving you $50 off an electronics purchase.” This isn’t the same as Circuit City quietly exchanging all HD DVD units but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.

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Google Calendar - 2 comments

Thursday the 25th of May, 2006 | Tools | Web Apps |

I’ve been using Google Calendar a lot lately and love it.  I can log in and edit my schedule from any computer.  I also receive email or text notifications at a preset time before a scheduled event.  It works with the iCal standard, which means most local calendars on your computer can be updated automatically by subscribing to your Google Calendar feed.

Try it here

Momentum - 2 comments

Tuesday the 16th of May, 2006 | Business | Personal |

Recently I’ve been dealing with my fair share of issues, both personal and business related.  These issues are really putting a damper on my attitude until today.  I decided that these issues were nothing more than speed bumps.  Speed bumps are designed to slow you down, not stop your momentum completely.  As is with life, there will be times your emotions want to bring you to a complete stop.  Use your brain, deal with the issue and move on.

Ten Smart Moves To Improve Your Business - 2 comments

Tuesday the 9th of May, 2006 | Business |

Derek Featherstone says:

1. Start a blog

2. Get good help

3. Write with a twist

4. Unplug your fax machine

5. Stay as small as you logically can

6. Stay under the radar

7. Just turn email off

8. Raise prices every year

9. Know when to throw in the towel

10. Get office space

The Five Most Common Lies in Business - 1 comment

Friday the 5th of May, 2006 | Business | Management |

My favorite is “We judge people by their performance.” However, I disagree with the “This is business, not personal” remark.  Sometimes, a business decision outweighs a personal one.

What Good Roomates Are For - 1 comment

Wednesday the 3rd of May, 2006 | Humor | Personal |

Great Thinking in Umbrella Design - 2 comments

Tuesday the 2nd of May, 2006 | Design |

Shade of an umbrella or a nice tree?

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Will the Mobile Phone Become the Dominant Internet Platform? - 4 comments

Thursday the 27th of April, 2006 | Ideas | Resources | Tech | Web Apps |

I believe this is the way the internet is going.  My friends have been calling me out for always having to be on the internet, whether I’m doing something productive or not.  I feel I have to be constantly available to the people that need to communicate with me.

Unlike most people, I work all day every day in very short spurts.  I have developers and clients all over the world and they need to contact me at different times during the day.  Not having access to my email or chat for more than a few hours slows down my developers if they have a question or run into a snag.  I’m also one man that has to provide customer service to my clients whenever they need it via the forums.

What’s the solution?

Within the coming months, I will make the switch to a PDA/Smartphone.  With a mini computer platform with internet access like this I’ll be able to:

- send and recieve emails
- be able to check Posima’s signup and visitor stats
- access my Blinksale account to see what my cashflow is like
- answer support requests via the forums
- check on updates to projects in development via my Basecamp account

...and I’ll be able to do this whenever, wherever.

The only problem is, now my friends and family will REALLY think I don’t do anything all day.

The ultimate tax shelter: Owning your own business - no comments

Wednesday the 26th of April, 2006 | Business | Must Read | SMB Guide |

I’m not sure I like the tone of this article, it sounds like a great way to piss off the IRS.  However, what you should take out of this article is how to make the gradual transition from being a corporate cog to getting paid for doing what you love.

The Evolution of Netflix Mailers - 1 comment

Tuesday the 25th of April, 2006 | Iteration |

This shows the importance of iteration.  You don’t have to make something perfect the first time to be successful.  Every business should be in a constant state of iteration, it’s how businesses evolve.

Guerrilla Marketing at its best - no comments

Monday the 24th of April, 2006 | Ideas | Marketing |

Saatchi & Saatchi have created a great guerrilla marketing campaign that transformed normal NYC manhole covers interesting and beautiful.  What I love about this idea is that the ROI of these ads are huge.  Billboards and magazine ads can easily be skipped over by your brain.  A large steaming hot cup of coffee in the middle of the street is bound to get your attention.

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Illusion of Agreement - no comments

Wednesday the 19th of April, 2006 |

This post speaks for itself.  At one point in time, all of us - whether in business or personal life have experienced this little nugget.

Illusion of Agreement

When did this happen to you and how did it affect your project at the time?

A business that the Internet will not take over - no comments

Monday the 17th of April, 2006 | Business | Ideas | Personal |

If there ever was a business that the Internet couldn’t take over with its low prices, free delivery, super-selection and ease of use, it would be the local hardware store.  How do you emulate a business that requires bringing in broken parts that need replacing or browsing the shelves for that lightbulb item that will solve all your problems?  It’s such a comfortable feeling to walk into a local hardware store, tell the guy at the door what your problem is and have him say, “I’ve got just the thing for that!”

A Politician's Quote - no comments

Friday the 14th of April, 2006 | Business |

Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in email.

- Eliot Spitzer

This is a nice quote for a politician to live by.  I’m not so sure it’s useful for the small business person.  I believe being open and honest with the people you deal with day to day is the best way to be successful.  Once you become an overly scrutinized politician, go ahead and tattoo this sucker to your forehead.

Search Engine Optimization - 2 comments

Wednesday the 12th of April, 2006 | Articles | Business | Marketing |

I had lunch the other day with a buddy of mine who also happens to be a client.  He was asking how to get ranked higher in the Search Rankings and if he should invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  I told him I’d look into it, but advised simple local marketing.  I’m becoming concerned the more I read about SEO and their unrealistic promises.  Here is an excerpt from an unnamed SEO web service.

Research shows that most web traffic comes from search engines. But if your site is not ranked high enough on the search engines (e.g. after the third page of the search result), none of that traffic will come to you. Worse, it might all go to your competitors.

Search engines are a very important source of traffic because it’s highly targeted. Visitors that come to your site via search engines got there because they focused their search using keywords related to your products or services. But because there are so many pages on the web, and more submitted every day, your site is competing with an increasing number of other sites. So what can you do?

That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Search Engine Optimization is the process of preparing your website so that search engines can better understand its content and/or purpose.

Think about it! If a search engine can not clearly identify the content of your site, why would it give your site a high position in the search results? Your site must be focused on the content, products, or services you provide. Optimizing your page will save you money that you would need to spend on advertising otherwise.

If you want guaranteed top ranking in the major search engines, we provide a full search engine optimization service: 20 guaranteed top 20 ranking.

The first two paragraphs are very much true.  Most traffic comes from Search Engines, Google being the largest chunk.  The final three paragraphs are nothing more than a snake oil salesman’s pitch.  Google has spent the last 7 years with the finest mathematical and engineering minds on the planet developing algorithms to identify what a site’s content consists of and how it should be ranked. Google’s sandbox effect can take a few months before they even catalog you.  This is to make sure your site has longevity and they aren’t listing sites that are here one day and gone the next.  The fact of matter is no one can guarantee a top 20 ranking.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So how do you get your site noticed in the search engine market?  Your site has to grow organically.  Just like any business, developing a successful site takes time and energy.  There are two important rules to follow when building your site.

Always be adding new relevant content

The idea is to develop an extensive knowledge base on your website that relates to your industry.  You want high quality content, a lot of it.  Take the time to develop content that relates to your business and that people will be interested in reading.  If they search for a term that is mentioned often in one of your pages, you have a higher likeliness of getting that reader.

Find a way to get as many relevant high-traffic websites to link to you

The best way to do this is by getting involved in your industry’s online community.  If you are a photographer, start commenting on as many photography blogs as possible.  Things like, “good post” won’t quite cut it.  You have to give something back to the community.  Find a small list of blogs that welcome comments and get going.

As I said before, traffic doesn’t just come overnight once you’re on the web.  People have to sift through all the trash first.  Once they find you, word of mouth takes over.  Once a site develops its online reputation, the traffic will follow.

How to Calculate Your Hourly Rate - 16 comments

Monday the 10th of April, 2006 | Business | Resources |

As a sole propreitor or a small business owner, you may have wondered exactly how much you should charge hourly for your services.  Continue on to the link provided below.  After reading, keep in mind that your rate should also be competitive in your local industry.  If it’s too high, you’d better figure out how to cut some costs.  If it’s too low, people will think the quality of your service is “cheap.” In that case, feel free to bump it up closer to your competitors while still staying well below their rate to make sure you get the maximum amount of business.

Paris Marathon -

Friday the 7th of April, 2006 | Personal |

This Sunday I’ll be running my first Marathon in Paris, France.  Afterwards, I’ll be spending a few days in Burgundy enjoying some nice wine.  Wish me luck...and hopefully I won’t break a leg.

Stay tuned for pictures from the race…

Why your business doesn't need a blog - no comments

Wednesday the 5th of April, 2006 | Articles | Business | Marketing |

Blogs are becoming more and more popular on the internet.  It seems as if there are almost as many readers of blogs as there are bloggers. There has been an ever-increasing amount of marketing experts online commanding that every business needs a blog.  I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement.

Obtaining Readership

Blogs have saturated the online publications market much like cable did to television.  There are too many choices.  If you type any search term into technorati you get a jumbled mess of returns.  The only blogs that are readable from technorati are the ones labeled “most authority.” This means obtaining a decent amount of interest in your blog will take plenty of time.

Consistancy

A blog takes a lot of work.  Entries must be provided on a consistent basis or people will become disinterested.  Posima’s designer, Steve P. Sharpe, had 600 people subscribed to his blog.  He began to make entries farther and fewer between.  He is now starting to publish more frequently, but has lost 500 subscribers during his 5 month hiatus.

Time and Effort

Most small businesses already have a long list of overdue to-do items that directly relate to the business.  They shouldn’t be concerned with starting a blog that will require more time and effort than they have to offer.

The solution - Articles

Instead of trying to break into this market, write articles and submit them abound.  There are plenty of bloggers in your niche market that would be happy to post your article.  They get great content from an expert, and you get linked to from their site which helps your search rankings as well as develop potential interest in your business from their developed readership.

It's a bad time to start a company - no comments

Monday the 3rd of April, 2006 | Business | Humor | Must Read | Posima |

Caterina Fake, the co-founder of the wildly popular photo sharing webapp Flickr says that it’s a terrible time to start a web company.  Here are her reasons:

Everybody else is starting a company. It’s crazy. Every single person who leaves a tech company isn’t going to Microsoft or Google or Apple or whatever, they’re going to a startup. Trying to operate in this environment is crazy. I’m getting late-onset ADD from trying to keep track of them all, and it’s impossible to get attention for your product amidst all the buzz (er, noise).

Your competition just got funded too. You’ve got $5 million in the bank, and they do too. Their VCs want them to succeed every bit as much as your VCs want you to succeed. This gets you into a horse race, which no one wants: it’s exhausting and expensive.

Talent is scarce again. Hell, I want to find someone to write a little bit of PHP for Wench.com and I can’t find anyone (Hey if you are a PHP webapp builder and have some spare cycles, email me at caterina-at-gmail). Everyone’s gainfully employed, and fielding several offers.

You can’t operate in obscurity anymore. We started our company in 2002 when nothing was getting funded anywhere and everyone was still licking their wounds from the big bubble bang. Nobody cared about us except us. We were in Vancouver fer crissakes. But we were able to focus on finding and connecting with the people who mattered most: the customers, the users, the community. You get more done when no one’s looking over your shoulder.

Web 2.0 isn’t all that. Hello? I don’t think there’s a rising tide lifting all boats here. I don’t think Web 2.0 is the magic bullet some people seem to think it is either. It ain’t the features, it’s that AND the business. Tagging was a great feature, no doubt. But Flickr was at break even—about to tip into the black—when we were acquired.

There’s too much going on. Every night there’s a Mashup get together, or a TechCrunch party, or it’s Tag Tuesday, or SuperHappyDevHouse or SXSW or this conference or that conference. And this stuff is fun. It’s a real community. But all of these things are great by themselves, but terrible in combination. I see some entrepreneurs in photos from *every single event*. Who’s talking to the users, writing the code, tweaking and retweaking the UI? It ain’t the Chief Party Officer.

Damn, I guess I’d better close up shop then and write off the last 16 months of my life as a loss.  I think what Caterina is forgetting is that if you provide a valuable product or service that people are willing to pay for, you’re already halfway to success.  The only other part of the equation is running the business properly, i.e. produce more than you consume.

Spotrunner.com - 36 comments

Friday the 31st of March, 2006 | Business | Marketing | Tools | Web Apps |

imageEver thought about advertising on television but thought it was too expensive or too difficult?  Allow me to introduce you to Spotrunner.  This is an all-in-one service that does everything from producing your commercial to media buying and finally distribution of the ads.  First, create a 30 second commercial from a professional template.  Second, tell the site how much you’d like to spend, for how long the ad should run and what cities or towns the ad should run in.  A few seconds later you have a full campaign running on multiple channels.  Don’t like a few of the channels your ad will be running on?  Simply take them out of the mix.

Front-loaded vs. Back-loaded Marketing Issues - 2 comments

Wednesday the 29th of March, 2006 | Articles | Business | Marketing |

Through the short life of Posima, I have tried many different techniques to build interest in the product.  The underlying idea of marketing is to locate potential customers and convince them why your product or service is right for them.  This two part problem can be front loaded or back loaded, depending on your type of business.  Let me explain…

The Posima web service is aimed at a national audience of sole-proprietors, small businesses and nonprofit organizations who need a website but whose web-savvy or budget prevent them from obtaining one.  For me, the problem is front-loaded.  Trying to locate individuals who aren’t familiar with technology and don’t know how to scour the web for what they’re looking for has proven a difficult feat.  They are looking for me as I look for them, but how do we find each other?

The back-loaded marketing problem is when you can locate your audience but can’t convert them into sales.  One of my clients, Brian from Kingfish Aquariums, maintains large aquariums for homes, offices, department stores and more.  It’s a lucrative business and he makes a nice living, especially for someone who has just started.  Prior to switching to Posima he had a poor excuse for a website that had nothing more than pictures and contact information which didn’t generate much business.  Posima helped him get his site setup professionally, display his portfolio of aquariums as well as provide a contact form for potential clients to contact him with.  Now he gets roughly 7-10 new inquiries a week.

Why the sudden jump in potential clients?  Brian had existing local marketing efforts in place, but his old website was so poorly done people didn’t take him seriously.  His new site is a virtual brochure where people can learn about Brian’s expertise, services offered and see the types of aquariums he maintains.  When the user feels comfortable enough, they can contact him with a simple, painless contact form.

Both the front and back-loaded problems are solvable, however the front-loaded problem is easier to identify.  I’m aware that it’s difficult for me to find new clients whereas Brian had no idea there was a problem until the launch of his new site.  Marketing and refining your marketing efforts should be an ongoing process.  Just because you have a front-loaded problem doesn’t mean you should ignore the back-end.  There may not be a problem, but that’s no excuse to be lazy.

You should always be on the lookout for your target demographic.  In addition to your current marketing, you should be constantly testing new possible outlets.  At the same time, you need to always show your customers what you have to offer by displaying as much content as you can on your website.  Your website needs to be a living, ever growing organism.  Always display new projects, thoughts, news, and anything else that will help your potential clients learn more about you and your business.  This will not only help them feel more comfortable dealing with you, but will also allow them to label you as an “expert” in your field.

The People Yes - no comments

Friday the 24th of March, 2006 | Must Read | Personal |

This is a poem from the depression era.  If you fall on hard times or run through some rough spots in life or business… this poem should make you feel a bit better.

The People Yes

The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can’t laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
is a vast huddle with many units saying:
“I earn my living.
I make enough to get by
and it takes all my time.
If I had more time
I could do more for myself
and maybe for others.
I could read and study
and talk things over
and find out about things.
It takes time.
I wish I had the time.”

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:
phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:
“They buy me and sell me...it’s a game...sometime I’ll
break loose...”

Once having marched
Over the margins of animal necessity,
Over the grim line of sheer subsistence
Then man came
To the deeper rituals of his bones,
To the lights lighter than any bones,
To the time for thinking things over,
To the dance, the song, the story,
Or the hours given over to dreaming,
Once having so marched.

Between the finite limitations of the five senses
and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond
the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food
while reaching out when it comes their way
for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,
for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.
This reaching is alive.
The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.
Yet this reaching is alive yet
for lights and keepsakes.

The people know the salt of the sea
and the strength of the winds
lashing the corners of the earth.
The people take the earth
as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
They are in tune and step
with constellations of universal law.
The people is a polychrome,
a spectrum and a prism
held in a moving monolith,
a console organ of changing themes,
a clavilux of color poems
wherein the sea offers fog
and the fog moves off in rain
and the labrador sunset shortens
to a nocturne of clear stars
serene over the shot spray
of northern lights.

The steel mill sky is alive.
The fire breaks white and zigzag
shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
Man is a long time coming.
Man will yet win.
Brother may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can’t be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise,
You can’t hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
march:
“Where to? what next?"

Carl Sandburg, 1936

Kids and Their New Technology - no comments

Wednesday the 22nd of March, 2006 | Business | Humor | Tech |

In the latest Wired magazine there is a compilation of quotes from the past few hundred years about the impact of new technologies on our youth.  Here are some amusing quotes about new technologies corrupting our youth.

Novels

"The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?”

- Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790

The Waltz

"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous inter twining of the limbs, and close com pressure of the bodies ... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was con fined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

- The Times of London, 1816

Movies

"This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood ... Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the ‘moving pictures.’”

- The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909

The Telephone

"Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? Does [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?”

- Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus Adult Education Committee, San Francisco Bay Area, 1926

Comic Books

"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child’s life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children ... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!”

- Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954

Rock and Roll

"The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country.”

- Minister Albert Carter, 1956

Videogames

"The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder ... I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control.”

- US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2005

The Bottom Line

The interesting thing is, studies are now showing that videogames are educational.  They are helping kids multitask more efficiently as well as helping them learn how to work together and interact in virtual commerce with large role-playing games such as World of Warcraft.  I think it’s time we begin embracing videogames as interactive tools to help us learn rather than let the current group of “moral crusaders” stunt its potential positive impact on our youth.

Free Webpages - no comments

Tuesday the 21st of March, 2006 | Posima |

Coming Soon...

We are very close to launching a new account structure that will include an option to have a free webpage.  The current options are Geocities and if you were lucky...Googlepages.  In my opinion, both of these options simply suck.  Who wants a webpage at www.googlepages.com/ADK%&FS#4*/mynewwebsite?  Not me.  Here at Posima, bring your own domain name and we’ll link it up to your new page.  Check back here for updates on when this will launch.

Podzinger - no comments

Tuesday the 21st of March, 2006 | Web Apps |

This is a truly incredible web application.  It takes any podcast, audio or video, and translates the sound to text.  When you find the part of the podcast you were looking for, double click the word to start playing from there.  There are an incredible amount of potential uses for this type of application.

The Internet's Ad Marketplace - 23 comments

Friday the 17th of March, 2006 | Marketing | Resources | Web Apps |

imageAdBrite is a site that allows you to advertise your site based on categories rather than keywords.  You can pick and choose the actual sites that your ads get run on by day, 7 day or month.  I find this helpful because it gives me more control over my ads rather than just trusting Google to place them right.

Creating Passionate Users - no comments

Monday the 13th of March, 2006 | Must Read |

I’m currently attending SXSW Interactive here in Austin.  I went to an unbelievable presentation from Kathy Sierra about creating evangelists for your product, service or brand.  She has a blog that discusses her views on the subject that I highly recommend everyone read.

Here We Go Again - no comments

Friday the 10th of March, 2006 | Articles | Business | News | Web Apps |

Welcome to 2006, the year Web 2.0 grew up to be just like his bigger, dumber brother.  What the hell am I talking about?  Google has just purchased yet another web app that still resides in beta. While it may not be exactly the same as a VC pumping gobs of cash into a young company, it is creating an atmosphere for build to flip companies.  Because of Google’s apparent need to spend, spend, spend, we will now begin seeing more VC money being pumped into half-baked ideas.  Companies, Applications and Services will be built to cater to those with the bling before they get a chance to learn to survive on their own.

These types of acquisitions are hurting our tech economy.  Instead of masses of early adopters being able to use apps like Measure Map and Writely, Google is going to have them in beta, under development and unreleased until their engineers can tinker under the hood for a while and launch them as a Google Apps.  Why is this a bad thing?  A new app needs to be out in the open to allow users to play with it and manipulate it for their uses.  The app needs time to grow and have features tweaked post launch to streamline usage.  A big fat blob of a company like Google will not allow that to happen.  Only the group of passionate developers that gave the app life can do these things properly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proponent of larger companies purchasing successful smaller ones that can benefit their core business.  Delicious, Blogger, Skype, Myspace, Keyhole, Urchin and Flickr were all proven apps with a strong user base.  Measure Map and Writely never saw the light of day.  Google is going to send these two apps into the world and have a billion users sign up the day they release with atrophied muscles.  I’m disgusted…

Business as a Swiss Army Knife - no comments

Wednesday the 8th of March, 2006 | Articles | Business | Marketing |

imageLook at the “classic” Swiss Army Knife.  It has a blade, scissors, nail file with screwdriver tip (very functional), toothpick and a pair of tweezers.  This is not a great many tools, but in most situations these 5 tools can be great help.  Let’s compare this with the “Swisschamp.” We now have 22 tools, some of which include a fish scaler and a corkscrew.  So when you catch that fish in the wilderness you’ll be able to open a proper bottle of white to accompany it.

What does this have to do with business?  Let’s look at a business we can analyze like the Swiss Army Knife, Walmart.  Walmart has a great business model going, selling everyday products to everyday people for less.  Even better than their business model is their placement of stores.  Located smack dab in the middle of rural America, driving every competitor clear out of their way.  I know the Mom and Pop stores suffered, but I also remember once paying $8 more than average to a Mom and Pop for a bottle of vodka.  Sure he was a small business man, but the only time this man got up from reading the paper was to ring up my uber expensive bottle of booze, then tell me he didn’t take checks or credit cards.

Walmart isn’t perfect however, they veered away from their “classic” status and tried to become the “WalmartChamp” when they entered the online video rental business.  Netflix created this market in the late 90’s and have grown to be such a threat that Blockbuster and Walmart both wanted a piece of the action.  I can understand Blockbuster, video rentals are their business, but Walmart?  Remember Walmart’s business model, everyday products for everyday people.  Since when do everyday people rent videos online?  I’m sure some do, but it is not mainstream nor will it be for several more years.  In the end, Walmart wised up and hired Netflix to handle that aspect of their business.

How does this relate to us, the small business folk?  Look at Walmart’s stumble as a lesson learned.  Do what you do best and don’t stray too far from what you know.  With the capabilities of the web going further and further, you’ll always be able to find areas for growth within your industry and market niche.

Grow a Backbone - no comments

Monday the 6th of March, 2006 | Customer Service | Management | Personal |

Friday night my family went out for my mother’s birthday at The County Line on the Hill.  Two tables down was a family with a child that was screaming bloody murder.  It sounded like the cook was slaughtering a pig right next to our table.  The family didn’t do anything about it, as a matter of fact the father looked like he was instigating the whole episode.  It also didn’t seem to bother the family that everyone in the restaurant was staring at them.

Eventually, I had enough and called the manager over to complain.  “Yeah, they’re being real rude.” That’s it, that’s what his response to our complaint was.  We suggested he ask the family to take the child outside until she calmed down, “I’ll see what I can do.” A few minutes later another manager came over to inform us that they didn’t take direct action anymore.  Apparently, they recently asked a family to take a child outside and instead they walked out on their bill.

Let’s go over a simple rule of Management 101.  If you don’t have the backbone to deliver bad news, demote yourself.  I also can’t get over the fact that no one apparently did anything when the other family skipped out on their bill.

Pay-Per-Call Going Mainstream - no comments

Friday the 3rd of March, 2006 | Business | Marketing | Tech | Tools |

Many search engines are now providing a telephone icon next to their search results.  This new technology called “Pay-Per-Click” allows the search engine to connect both the advertiser and advertisee via a phone call.  This market proves to be the 800lb gorilla in the online advertising arena.  Why?  Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group says,

Consumers are accustomed to making phone calls to contact local businesses and local businesses are similarly used to closing leads over the phone. A performance-based online medium that delivers calls rather than clicks therefore makes sense for the local market.

In my opinion, this is the best kind of new technology.  It melds the newest technology with a way of communicating that people are already comfortable with.  Pay-Per-Call also seems to be a great way to prevent click fraud.  If the two parties don’t connect over the phone, the advertiser doesn’t pay. 

Finding Your Niche - no comments

Wednesday the 1st of March, 2006 | Articles | Business | SMB Guide |

imageWhen starting a business, one of the first things on the To-Do list is finding out what to sell.  The best way to be successful in your efforts is to find a niche then specialize in that niche.  Some niche markets are still too broad, which will allow you the possibility of finding a great sub-niche.

REI is a large retailer that specializes in Outdoor Goods.  They provide their customers a wide array of options in camping, snow-sports, rock-climbing, biking and much more.  REI is very successful in their niche market and provide a wonderful experience to their patrons.  As you may be able to see, even though they specialize in a niche market - Outdoor Gear, that niche can be broken down even more.  If you are starting a business, it is best to find a niche within a niche.

Paul Sullivan owns RackOutfitters.com and is a perfect example of a sub-niche.  Rack Outfitters sells car racks for your outdoor equipment.  He also only offers two brands.  According to Paul, there is so much to learn about items in his sub-niche that an REI employee can’t give you the level of expertise that he can.  This is because the REI employee has to know general information about all the items they sell in every department.

Paul sells his products by “click and mortar,” meaning he sells to foot-trafficers through his Austin-based headquarters as well as online.  It’s important to do enough research on your niche to know whether you’ll have enough foot traffic to compliment your online sales should you choose to do both.  Austin is home to an intense community of outdoorsman.  There are plenty of bikers, hikers and kayakers to sustain his local business should he not be successful online.  Not to mention Austin is only a 16 hour trip to any slope in Colorado, another example of why car rack sales are successful in Austin.  Opening the same type of shop in a less outdoor friendly community would not provide the amount of brick and mortar sales that allowed Paul to grow his online business.

A few rules to ponder before you get started

Choose either a niche or sub-niche market that doesn’t have any direct competition.  RackOutfitters has REI, Walmart and others, but that competition is too broad to be a real threat. 

Be positive that your choice in niche has plenty of potential customers in the surrounding area.  As I mentioned before, Paul would probably not have been as successful in a community that was less active.

Offer a limited number of brands to avoid confusing your customers and have confidence in those brands.  It may be easier to sell a cheaper product up front, but expect to receive a lot of complaints if the quality doesn’t measure up.

Follow these simple rules and your click and mortar store has a great chance of being a success.

Fundable.org - no comments

Monday the 27th of February, 2006 | Business | Marketing | Posima | Web Apps |

I found this interesting web application that helps people raise money for various things.  Here’s how it works:

image

What I like about this and other very simple tools is the lack of restriction.  The website allows you to raise money, that’s it.  It can be for a charity, a concert for a small band, an indie film, selling products to a group of people… etc.  I see a lot of potential for this site from a business standpoint.

Say I want to start a business selling a new local publication (a magazine).  I could create a simple website with Posima explaining the mission, target demographic, content, and show example mockups of the magazine.  I can discuss how much it will cost to get the magazine off the ground and ask for money from advertisers for the first x amount of issues and link to my Fundable account.  I pound the pavement and make calls to businesses that might be interested and give them the address to my website that will describe more.  If they are interested, they give money to Fundable.  If I raise enough money from advertisers, I can get off the ground.  If I don’t, the money is never charged.

I’m interested in hearing other ideas on how Posima and Fundable may be used together… any ideas?

Copyright Infringement - The New Hype Machine - no comments

Thursday the 16th of February, 2006 | Articles | Ideas | Marketing |

How Apple Takes Advantage

We all know that Apple is the poster child for brilliant marketing as well as being the most powerful hype machine known to man.  Recently however, Apple has stepped on a few toes while promoting their products.

First Apple launched a new, long awaited iPod ad featuring Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Turns out the ad is ghostly familiar to an older Lugz shoes ad.

image

Months later they released their new Intel iMac ad.  Again, this commercial is almost a shot for shot reproduction of The Postal Service’s 2003 video “Such Great Heights.”

image

Both Lugz and The Postal Service made public statements that they were disappointed in Apple or were in the process of filing legal action.  However, the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” video made an unprecedented jump to #1 on iTunes two years after being filmed.  The financial numbers for Lugz is unknown, but I have a feeling their free press didn’t hurt.  Either way, Apple, Lugz and The Postal Service all got plenty of news commentary thanks to Apple’s little stunt.

Nike’s Threat

I can’t give Apple all of the credit for what I believe are intentional publicity stunts.  Early last summer, Nike began sponsoring a skateboarding tour and released a promotional poster to generate buzz.  The problem is that the poster is almost indistinguishable from Minor Threat’s (an early 80’s indie rock band) 1984 self-titled album.

image

As would be expected, Minor Threat made a lot of noise and Nike issued a formal apology.  Personally I’ve never heard of Minor Threat, however the first thing I did was preview some of their songs on iTunes after the news was released.  I can’t say I was a fan of the music, but one would have to be pretty thick to believe the story didn’t generate a bump in sales for Minor Threat.

Who’s Next?

I have a sneaking suspicion we will begin to see more stories similar to the ones discussed above.  Once a successful new marketing idea is figured out, everybody jumps on the bandwagon.  Just look at Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage, that site has spawned countless copycats.  My theory is that the age old bell curve will come into play.  Nike and Apple were the “innovators” of this marketing ploy, next will come the early adopters then the masses.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at 37signals’ brand new Campfire logo and compare it to the Feedburner logo.

image

The quote provided by Feedburner President Dick Costolo on campfirenow.com makes this little nugget even more interesting to me.

Employees Come First - 1 comment

Saturday the 11th of February, 2006 | Business | Humor | Ideas |

Too many companies feel that in order to run a successful business they should be taking care of the customers first.  I have a theory that if you put your employees first and make sure they’re happy, they will do the same for your customers.  I believe my theory has been proven with this photo I found on the net today.  Some food for thought…

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Posima Cares - no comments

Monday the 6th of February, 2006 | Posima |

Here at Posima we believe everyone would benefit from a web presence. Big business, small business and especially non-profits. Unfortunately, those who would benefit the most can justify it the least. Non-profits are always juggling so many necessary tasks with so little support, that many can’t justify the time and money necessary to create a website. Posima cares. We understand that non-profits are working hard to make the world a better place and we want to help. We have the tools to give them a web presence quickly, easily, and beautifully… without the restrictions traditionally faced.

For the month of February, we are giving away 100 free year-long accounts to non-profit organizations.  To read more go here

OpenTable.com - no comments

Thursday the 26th of January, 2006 | Business | Tech | Tools | Web Apps |

While choosing a restaurant for Valentine’s Day last night, I found a website called OpenTable.com.  With a few clicks I had reservations at a very desirable establishment for Feb 14th.  I was intrigued by the ease of the process and wasn’t sure it was real.  After some investigating I found the website is an added benefit for purchasing the company’s reservation software.

OpenTable.com’s software automates all the steps involved in taking reservations (online or on the fly), seating patrons, figuring average turnover time of a table, and laying out which tables belong to which servers.  Here’s a list of features from their site:

Reservation Management
Easily enter or modify reservations while viewing guest histories
Capture phone numbers, email and mailing addresses
Allow management blocking and VIP pre-assignments
Reduce no-shows with enhanced customer tracking
Take reservations from your website or OpenTable 24 hours a day

Table Management
Maximize seat utilization with walk-in and waitlist functionality
Instantly track covers for more efficient kitchen and server management
Increase table turns by tracking party status
Store multiple reservation sheets for holidays and special events
Hold and combine tables for large parties
Record and view shift notes for each day

Guest Management
Identify regulars and VIPs
Track customer preferences to meet and anticipate special requests
View customer reservation histories at-a-glance
Track special occasions such as guest birthdays and anniversaries

Marketing Management
Conduct powerful email marketing campaigns to increase repeat business
Print mailing labels to reach select target audiences
Track and reward concierge business

Increase control
Manage reservations from the back-office or any other location simultaneously
Control multiple restaurants from key centralized locations
Leverage the power of Microsoft’s reliable SQL Server 2000 software architecture
Share guest data across sister restaurants

If you’re a restaurant that relies heavily on reservations or has frequent wait-lists, I would definitely take a closer look into their offerings.

Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail - no comments

Wednesday the 25th of January, 2006 | Articles | SMB Guide |

Many trepps fail in their efforts, most within the first few months.  There is no secret to being successful.  However, we all know from History class that we can learn from others mistakes.  Michael Ames, the author of Small Business Management and Gustav Berle, author of The Do it Yourself Business Book list the following as the top ten reasons small businesses fail.

1 - Lack of experience
2 - Insufficient capital (money)
3 - Poor location
4 - Poor inventory management
5 - Over-investment in fixed assets
6 - Poor credit arrangements
7 - Personal use of business funds
8 - Unexpected growth
9 - Competition
10 - Low sales

Look at the above list and try to come up with solutions to all of them.  If you solve the problems before they occur, you’ll be ready for battle if one or more of them tries to break you later.

Surge Protector Myths - no comments

Monday the 23rd of January, 2006 | Must Read | Tech |

I’ve just stumbled upon a story that debunks many myths about surge protectors.  As most others, my surge protection knowledge comes from the usual channels such as the increasingly naive salesman at large electronics stores such as Best Buy.  I highly suggest reading this article to make sure your hardware is protected from such attacks.  Here are some interesting excerpts:

Myth #1. ANY SURGE PROTECTION IS BETTER THAN NO SURGE PROTECTION.
This is perhaps the most reasonable, yet the most misleading of all. With no surge protection at all, incoming surges will hit only the computer’s power supply (which is considerably more surge tolerant than the data line circuitry), and will not affect the system ground level at all.

Myth #2. A UPS WILL PROVIDE DEPENDABLE SURGE PROTECTION
Because a UPS costs far more than a surge protector, it is often assumed to provide better surge protection. However, virtually all UPS units designed for microcomputers simply combine an inexpensive MOV surge suppressor with a battery backup power source.

Myth #8. THE ONLY RISK FROM THE POWER LINE IS HARDWARE DAMAGE.
Computers are vulnerable to data alterations as bit streams pass through microprocessors. Stray power surges can alter data or programs, causing data errors or lock-ups which cannot be traced. The consequential cost of such soft damage can be very high, especially if errors are not found and data files are contaminated.

Myth #9. SURGE PROTECTORS ARE PERMANENT DEVICES.
Most point-of-use surge protectors use metal oxide varistors as their primary protection component. Despite all its strengths, this inexp- ensive (15 cent) component wears out a little with each surge above a very modest threshold… a threshold that is exceeded mant times a day in most environments.  Thus MOVs wear out and should be replaced periodically.

Myth #11. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
The assumption that higher priced surge protectors provide greater effect- iveness and reliability is often not valid. Almost all surge suppressors priced under $200 rely on the same fundamental MOV components.

Local Tech Support - no comments

Monday the 23rd of January, 2006 | Articles | Business | Tech |

Many individuals as well as small businesses are led to believe that they have proper tech support provided by their computer manufacturer.  From personal experience I can tell you that is not the case.  No matter who you buy your computer from, it’s almost impossible for a large company to take care of their individual and/or small business customers.  Dell for example, uses a third party that will come to your house or office.  I’ve heard many complaints that these Dell techs zip in and zip.  Many times having to come back to the same house multiple times.  The problem is, the third party gets paid per computer they fix and the tech guy running around the city has a quota he must meet every day.  This doesn’t allow for proper diagnosis of problems, merely quick fixes.

Your best bet for a solution is a local tech.  Forget about the extended warranty from your computer manufacturer and spend a little time finding the right local that will provide you with the service you need.  It’s not always the cheapest route, but it is often the better one.  Would you prefer to pay $150 and have your computer up and running the same day or go with the $150 4-year warranty and spend most of your time on the phone trying to coerce the tech guys to come help you?

To find a support provider, you can ask clients, peers, fellow small business owners or you can visit your local chamber of commerce for a list of companies.  Try to find someone who has a local shop and will give you the personal service you need, unlike a national franchise such as Geek Squad.  Once you find a provider, they may run a hardware and software audit on your system to better understand what your future issues may be.

If you own a Mac, I can tell you from personal experience that your local Apple Store is a great bet.  I’ve also had success with a service called Doctor Mac Direct.  Doctor Mac will have someone actually tap into your computer remotely to fix the problem while they discuss with you what they are doing.  It is all live and you can see the tech moving your mouse around the screen.  It’s pretty neat.

United State's Crippling Tax Code - 258 comments

Friday the 20th of January, 2006 | Business | Must Read | News |

I read an article in The Economist several months ago pushing the idea of a flat tax solely on sales.  I’ve always liked the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) and our complicated tax code is a perfect candidate for review.  The fact is, the US spends an increasingly ungodly amount of money on infrastructure to keep our tax system running.  If we cut the income tax out and only charged sales tax we would be running on a lean 35% or less of what we currently spend on infrastructure.

What sparked my interest in this topic was another article I read today where Thomas J. Frey, Senior Futurist at The DaVinci Institute discusses why income tax will self-destruct.  Here are some interesting excerpts from the article.

The Exponential Nature of Complexity
It can be argued that every major civilization in history has fallen because of unsustainable levels of complexity. In major civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, or Roman empires, as well as in smaller civilizations like the Mayan Indians and Mesopotamia, each one reached a point where an ever increasing bureaucracy with an ever increasing number of rules simply overloaded the administrator’s ability to comply with them, and the systems collapsed.

Modern technology has given us the ability to manage systems that are far more complex. And following a similar curve to Moore’s Law, our ability to automate has kept up with our ability to complicate. However, the breaking point will not be the automated systems. Rather, the breaking point will be the human interface and the exacting toll that the income tax system has placed on people to comply.

In our government we have failed to create a checks-and-balance system to mitigate complexity.

We are on an irreversible path, and as complexity of a system increases, the costs associated with it increase exponentially to the point where the costs approach infinity, and collapse is a certainty.

A History of Collapsing Income Tax Systems
While the concept of taxes has been around since ancient times, the idea of a formalized income tax has not. The first income tax in the United States was signed into law in 1862 by President Lincoln to help pay for Civil War expenses. But the amount was relatively small and during this time 90 percent of all revenues came from taxes on liquor, beer, wine and tobacco. Still, opposition arose and income tax laws were repealed in 1872.

In 1894 the Wilson Tariff Act revived the income tax and an income tax division within the Bureau of Internal Revenue was created. Again a firestorm of protest arose and the Supreme Court ruled the new income tax unconstitutional. The income tax division was disbanded.

Today’s income tax has its roots in the 16th Amendment to the Constitution which was ratified in 1913. The amendment stated, “Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Later, Congress adopted a 1 percent tax on net personal income of more than $3,000 with a surtax of 6 percent on incomes of more than $500,000. This is when the first 1040 Form was introduced.

Compliance Costs Reaching Unmanageable Levels
A recent article in Forbes magazine stated that director level compliance officers are now being paid over $1 million per year to deal with the increasing demands imposed by government.

Even the professionals who feed off of this overly complex system have grown to detest it. Some IRS audits have become undoable, slowing enforcement to an absolute crawl. Costs of both compliance and enforcement will escalate even further until the system reaches the breaking point.

B is for Buzz - no comments

Thursday the 19th of January, 2006 | Posima |

I’ve been fortunate to have been receiving some pretty righteous buzz about Posima over the past two days.  I especially like Fraser Kelton’s entry from Disruptive Thoughts, here’s an excerpt:

There has been an explosion in user generated content recently – blogs have made it simple and cost effective for individuals to share content online. Blogs have solved the problem for the individual.

The problem still exists, however, for the small businesses of the world. Small business owners generally don’t have the time to learn how to create a website, or the resources to afford a website developer. There are lots of small businesses who would love a web presence but can’t justify it.

In my opinion there exists a (growing) market for a website development solution for small businesses. The solution has the making of a disruptive technology: it would offer fewer features, fewer capabilities, and less choice. But it would be easy and cheap.

Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to now know that my hard work wasn’t in vain.  Thanks to everyone that has been helping me get this out into the open.

Are You Trepp Material? - 1 comment

Wednesday the 18th of January, 2006 | Articles | SMB Guide |

Becoming an Entrepreneur (trepp) is a fantastic experience, but it’s not for everyone.  There are a lot of things that must be considered before taking the plunge.  The first secret to being successful is making sure you are ready for what lies ahead.

First things first, you must be a good manager.  Not a manager in the traditional sense, you’re not managing a group of people in a department of a company.  You are now managing all aspects of the company.  You must be able to budget your time properly and follow through with tasks.  Rationalizing not completing a task or waking up on time in the morning is a sure fire way to fail.

You’ll now be dealing with a lot of differing personalities between your vendors, employees, customers and so on.  Some will be very serious needing things done a certain way at a certain time.  Others will be laid back and possibly disorganized.  Make sure you can deal with the varying degrees of people you’re bound to come into contact with on any given day.

Even though you’ll have more free time to yourself during the day, you’ll have more stress and less vacations.  Making too many wrong decisions is not an option.  Be ready for 12-16 hour work days.  When things go wrong, people will be contacting you for a solution.

Family is another issue you’ll need to be thinking about.  How will your new schedule affect them?  Make sure you have enough money to last long enough so your family doesn’t have to frequent the soup kitchens in a few months.

This isn’t meant to scare you off.  It is merely something you should think about before publicly condemning your boss to hell as you walk out the door.  Think long and hard whether you can handle the above issues.  If you think you’re ready then more power to you!

2006 Looks Bright for Online SMBs - 1 comment

Wednesday the 18th of January, 2006 | Business | News |

According to a survey of 12,000 small to medium-sized businesses done by Avalara, the year of 2006 is expected to be big for those who are online.  The survey sample projects sustained growth in e-commerce through at least 2006.

In all, 84% said that their business was better in 2005 than in 2004, and that same percentage saw their business improving again in 2006. Only 12% felt their business did not improve in 2005, and a small 7% do not feel their business would improve in 2006.

In all, 90% of the SMB owners and operators, who are engaged in e-commerce, feels that not only was the US Internet e-commerce economy strong in 2005, that same number — 90% — anticipates that that economy will perform better in 2006. Only 4% expect 2006 to under-perform 2005.

The one issue businesses are not so keen on are the jurisdictions which force online sellers to collect sales tax from residents of certain states.  They feel a tax-free environment gives them a competitive advantage to at least offset shipping costs.

The Power of Ebay - no comments

Wednesday the 4th of January, 2006 | Business | Ideas | Marketing | Resources | Tools | Web Apps |

I just recently sold two tickets to the Rose Bowl via Ebay.  This was my first ebay experience and I must say I was pleased with my transaction.  The site is a little hard to use at times, but the idea that you can sell unwanted items to the highest bidder sounds good to me.

I was intrigued to find how many office supplies were available on ebay.  It seems to me that small businesses could utilize ebay to trade office equipment.  Say you have an old office chair you need to get rid of, ebay it.  What if you need a new desk, chair and cubicle for an incoming employee?  Run a search on ebay.

Why stop there?  The way the site is set up, you could promote your business services on ebay as well.  So mosey on over to ebay and brainstorm a little on how you can utilize their tools to make some money or at least find some useful stuff for your small business.

Online Data Backup - 1 comment

Wednesday the 21st of December, 2005 | Tools | Web Apps |

Not many people stop to think about what they would do if their hard drive crashed and they lost all of their data.  For many, it would be devastating.  Personally, I’d curl up into a fetal position and sob for many many hours.  There is a very easy way to prevent a disaster like this from happening to you.

Backup your data

Sounds easy enough, but who has the time?  My recommendation is to invest in some remote data backup.  For relatively inexpensive, you can hire a company that will “tap” into your computer at a specified time every day and backup your data onto one of their servers.  Set the system up for 4 am every day and you can sleep soundly.

I’m including some companies I found through Google that provide this service below:

Impossible Is Nothing - 12 comments

Saturday the 17th of December, 2005 | Articles | Business | Personal |

Why are people so comfortable with saying that something is impossible?  I had a disagreement with a friend last night because I told him about some enzyme I’d heard about that scientists are injecting into mice to help them live 30% longer.  He said it would never happen.  A few weeks earlier I was discussing the possibility with a medical school student about rigging a video camera to a blind person’s brain to help them see.  Again… impossible.

I don’t like this word, impossible.  Personally I think it should be banished from the English language and removed from Webster’s dictionary.  Seriously, is anything truly impossible?  Does the existence of this word help our society in our ongoing struggle to push forward?  Look at the Egyptian Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Roman Aqueducts.  I’m sure when the blueprints for those engineering marvels were first introduced there was a fair amount of skepticism, but they’re there.

read more...

Why Capitalism Works - no comments

Thursday the 15th of December, 2005 | Business | News |

Virgin Galactic has made it official that normal citizens will be going to space.  They signed a landmark deal with the state of New Mexico to build a $200 million spaceport to shuttle the rich and famous to space and back.  Why is it that more than 35 years after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, a corporation is making more headway into allowing individuals a chance to touch the heavens than any government entity on the planet ever has?

With the amount of money NASA has at their disposal, it is disgusting that over the past several years they have done nothing but disappoint us with failed launches, reentries and dead astronauts.  If a company were to have failed as miserably as NASA, they’d be out of business and I’m guessing several people would be in jail.  Though $10 million and nine years after the X Prize was offered we have a successful, reliable vehicle to transport us into weightlessness and back.

Without the spirit of innovation and competition that capitalism brings, we would still be wondering if our grandchildren might get the chance to leave Earth briefly.  Virgin Galactic must be very careful, their security and safety standards must be above and beyond.  How many people do you think would continue to fly with Branson if a notable incident were to occur on one of the flights?  That’s why I foresee companies like Virgin eventually surpassing NASA.  They are held to a higher standard because their customers will only flip the bill if they feel safe.  NASA can continue to mess up and the US will still have to have a space program.

The Entrepreneurs Toolbox - no comments

Thursday the 15th of December, 2005 | Must Read |

While browsing through Technorati today I found the website of Fraser Kelton’s blog called Disruptive Thoughts.  His latest entry is titled, Less And More - The Entrepreneurs Toolbox.  It makes suggestions as to what a trepp needs to be successful in the long run of startups.  My personal favorites are:


More Niche. When starting up the entrepreneur needs to niche the company more than ever. Find a foothold. Secure yourself. Climb.

Less Hires. The World Is Flat. Someone out there can do that task better. For less. Outsource it.

More Innovation. The competition is. right. behind. you.

More Customer Service. Delight your customers and you will be rewarded

Soaking Up Knowledge - no comments

Wednesday the 14th of December, 2005 | Personal |

I was out and about quite late last night and ended up at a diner that didn’t close till around 4am.  The cook was an older gentleman who was in his 60’s and hailed from Greece.  My buddy and I spent 45 minutes listening to him talk about his country and his life since leaving it.  He gave us the pros and cons, the ups and downs.  Even though it was late and we were tired, we couldn’t help but crave more information from this man.  He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he shared with us information we wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else but him.  No matter where you obtain your information, you are in the most basic form, having someone tell you about something.  An academic may write about the climate of Greece, their GDP and what kind of food their culture produces.  But do you really care about these things or would you rather have a simple man tell you how great the roses smell?

Sub-Contractor Shout Out - 3 comments

Tuesday the 13th of December, 2005 | Posima |

There are four guys I definitely need to thank for this website.  Steve P. Sharpe was in charge of everything that looks pretty on the site.  He designed the look of the site, the application, the templates and their various color combos.  If you think the site looks nice, comment below and let him know.  Arup Bhanja did 100% of the coding for the application and has been helping me on this project for over a year.  If you like the way the site does its groove thing, give Arup a shout out below.  Maxim Kipot created the registration scripts that open and close every Posima account.  There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, the opening script registers the domain name, sets up the dns, opens the account on the server, creates a folder all the files get saved to and creates the user account that accesses the site and forums.  Keith Gable was there whenever I needed some uber advanced stuff done on the dedicated server.  I’m pretty sure this guy is in high school, but man does he know his way around the IT stuff!

Thanks again to all four of you, I was a pain in the neck sometimes...most of the time I’m sure.

Chad

We're Live! - 2 comments

Monday the 12th of December, 2005 | Articles | Business | Personal | Posima | Tools | Web Apps |

After 13 months and 2 days of torture we are finally launching this application.  “But Chad, I thought you were joking this whole time about actually having a website in production.  You mean it wasn’t a cover and you’re still living with your parents at 24 for a reason?” I can understand your skepticism, I have been planning on launching next week for what seems like forever.  I have to say that even though the past year has had its ups and downs, this process has taught me more than what I learned in all my years of schooling.  Call it a Masters from the University of Hard Knocks.  Anywho, I’d like to thank all my friends and family that helped me from point A to point B.  I’d like to name names, but there are too many and you all know who you are.

Without further ado… Welcome to Posima.  We are an all in one website management system.  We provide the design, content management tools and if needed a free domain name while using the service.  From what I understand, this is the first service of its kind.  No one else has ever provided everything a user needs to go from nothing to a fully functional website in mere hours without having to know any code.  Sure there are blogging tools out there, but people/businesses who want a website want it to look like a website...not a blog.

Bits and pieces of the posima.com site are still not quite finished.  The application is done and fully functional, but the features and support sections of the site are still works in progress.  The gallery page will come into its own once we obtain clients, so check back from time to time to see what people are creating.  I’ve setup a demo account for everyone to play with and see how the site works.  Comment and let me know what you think.  Here are the login details:

username: demo
password: demouser

More goodness to come soon,

Chad

Outsourcing - let the market decide - no comments

Tuesday the 6th of December, 2005 | Business |

I keep hearing a bunch of ruckus about outsourcing.  Complaints are mainly about tech support and programming being shipped overseas.  The issue seems to be that as Americans we should not be farming out our work to non-Americans.  I have a problem with this mind-set, frankly I think it’s an opinion that has not been thought thru thorougly.  It really only takes one call to tech support for someone to begin ranting and raving about the subject. 

Let’s put this in perspective.  Have you ever bought a product because it was of the same quality yet cheaper than similar products?  Consumers are THE decision makers, they are the most powerful force in the economy and they are forcing executives of large corporations to find cheaper ways of making products.

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Time Management Web App - no comments

Monday the 5th of December, 2005 | Web Apps |

I stumbled across this interesting web service today, it’s called ClockWork Time Manager.  If you are in an industry that requires you to keep track of your time on various tasks you may find this very useful.

Web 2.0 - no comments

Monday the 5th of December, 2005 | Tech |

Whispers are beginning to surface about the next tech boom.  Rumor is that Google kicked it off last summer with its very successful IPO.  Venture Capitalists are investing the same amount as in 1994, the year I’ll call “the calm before the storm.” If this is true, what does it mean for small businesses, startups and veterans alike?  It means a lot of exciting new technologies to help us work more efficiently.  Let’s hope this means more free time or at the very least more money in the bank.

This time around things should be a little different.  Hopefully the Venture Capitalists won’t blow it like they did last time by investing in every company that boasted a .com in their name.  Web 2.0 seems to be more about making money rather than spending it building unneccessary bloated infrastructure (see startup.com).  Had this mindset been in place last time, we would have seen a much longer and more prosperous golden age.

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Your Website's Content - no comments

Sunday the 4th of December, 2005 | Articles |

Figuring out what type of content you should provide on your website is a difficult task.  When a visitor finds your site, you want to properly educate them on your business so they know whether or not they will find your business useful.  If they do, the next step is making them a happy customer.  How do we do this?

USA Today ran a fantastic article that will provide some insight into tackling these problems called:

What is Professionalism? -

Saturday the 3rd of December, 2005 | Articles |

I had a friend a while back call into Dell for a new machine.  He told the salesman who answered that he was looking for a new machine and asked what was on special.  The salesman on the phone answered, “Actually due to low profit margins in PC’s we have left the computer business in favor of making fortune cookies.  Would you still be interested in hearing our current specials?” My friend laughed and immediately ordered 10,000 fortune cookies, he also bought a Dell on that call.  He was so pleased with his experience that he passed around the salesman’s extension to anyone who mentioned they needed a system.  That guy got two more sales by word of mouth.  We found out later the salesman was fired for being unprofessional on the phone.

How do you define professionalism?  Would you enjoy interacting with someone reading from a script or would you prefer to TALK to someone like the Dell guy?  James Archer has a great article called Imperfection and the Human Brand which delves into this topic further.

Feed Your Network - no comments

Friday the 2nd of December, 2005 | Must Read | Podcasts |

I’ve been listening to Michael Pollock’s Podcasts about Small Business Branding for a short while.  He’s really hit the nail on the head with Episode #17 of his SavvySoloCast.  The message behind this particular episode discusses the new and highly accurate marketing technique of having customers “opt in” rather than stalking strangers to buy your products or services.

Young Entrepreneur = Black Sheep? - no comments

Thursday the 1st of December, 2005 | Personal |

As a young adult there is some stigma about being an entrepreneur.  Society thinks you should go to school, make the best grades possible and get a degree.  For your years of hard work you get the privilege to begin your climb up the corporate ladder for some faceless corporation...don’t forget to start on the bottom rung.  Whether you’re happy or not, everyone else is pleased with your decision which appeases you.

I followed part of that track but quickly realized it wasn’t for me, so I began to draw the brushstrokes for what became Posima.  I received a lot of pushback.  I know my friends and family wanted me to succeed, but I could tell they were uninterested in my endeavor not believing it would amount to much.  I quit my job for the final phases of development of the program.  Shortly afterwards I had dinner with my parents.  Mother says “So how many customers would you need to make $60k a year?” I do a quick calculation and give her the number.  “Great, once you hit that number you can find a real job!"..."A real job?” She looks confused and says “Well if that money will always be coming in then it’ll look great on your Resume and then you’ll be able to get a nice job.” I’m staring at her confused.  “If not, then what will you do?” My father replies, “Go back to school.”

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