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Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’

An entrepreneur’s guide to social media: How to avoid being boring and predictable

Posted Friday, September 7th, 2012

How to keep your social media updates fresh and inject some fun into them too.

It’s important to let down your professional guard a little when using social media. Social media land is, surprise surprise, a social place. People share things they find funny, thought-provoking, interesting or useful with their connections as well as serious or business related information. It’s important to pay close attention to the more light-hearted subject matter you can share with your followers.
“People share things they find funny, thought-provoking, interesting or useful with their connections as well as serious or business related information.”

You could start with something as simple as asking them what they’ve got planned for the holidays – few businesses connect with their customers on that level – but those that do find they can build strong relationships with their following – just take a look at Coca Cola, or Starbucks pages on Facebook for that.

Admittedly, you only have a certain number of options for the actual format of your updates – pure text, adding links, uploading a photo or sharing a video. Nevertheless, you can vary the type of update you post, and it is content, to keep things fresh.

You should always try to keep things varied because if your updates get predictable, boring or annoying, at best your followers will hide your feed and at worse break their connection with you permanently and unfriend you.

Tempting though it is, do avoid taking the easy route by constantly auto-publishing content from your blog, or republishing your tweets as a Facebook status update, or syndicating someone else’s RSS feed for weeks on end.
Your followers will spot these updates for the automated filler it really is – a subtle display you’re being a bit lazy and fairly disinterested in them and their needs online. Not good.

People who constantly share identical (syndicated) content from their favourite profile on their other profiles usually forget to check into their other social media accounts. So, some hapless Facebook follower may reply to one of these syndicated Twitter messages, and the profile owner fails to spot that interaction for many weeks. Two out of ten to that approach.

Don’t push your products and services every five minutes

Although you may represent the brand you are not here to promote it constantly. Your comment threads, Facebook wall, Twitter, email lists, forums or any other communication channels in your control are not to be used as promotional vehicles either.

Your job is to help and support, so inform any other individuals in your organisation that may think otherwise and ensure the protection of the trust, openness, integrity and fun in your community.

It really is okay to be you

Don’t bring into your community a rigid professional, corporate image if that doesn’t fit with the people you’ve connected with. Be yourself. Fit your community and be as comfortable in yourself as you can be. This makes it easier to represent the opinions, subtleties and aesthetics of your community.

You are a human extension of a URL in being an online community and social media marketing manager so any clash between your personality and brand image will become not just an obstacle but an insurmountable one.

Don’t invite all and sundry

This is crucial to a successful social media marketing strategy. Although large numbers of registered users looks great you need to be sure they are the right kind of users. Don’t just simply connect with anyone – whilst it may boost your ego it won’t boost your sales. It’s like a musician in a jazz band doing a secret gig and packing the venue with gangsta rap fans – yes they’d have the numbers, but not the influence and the relationship to make them spend money.
A smaller, targeted following of fans beats a large bunch of indifferent strangers

New users that have no passion about the focus of the community, who aren’t bothered about contributing unique, interesting content will soon disappear, so it’s better to focus on a steady growth of users who are more likely to be committed to the community. A smaller number of passionate quality users are much better than a mass of bored users contributing nothing.

Why can’t entrepeneurs get to grips with social media?

Posted Monday, March 28th, 2011

A recent poll quizzed 258 small businesses on what they would do with an unlimited budget so they could outsource anything they chose. The result was:

Social media- 28.57%
Other- 25.11%
Public relations- 19.91%
Sales- 16.45%
Customer service- 9.96%

Why is social media considered such an inconvenience? Here are some bullet points:

Its not believed to be important enough to engage an entrepreneurs attention
Will it still be successful in ten years time?
Will it become commercialized too quickly?
Small businesses don’t know what strategy to follow
How do they get a ROI
Entrepreneurs are frightened of social media
Facebook and Twitter is so young that people are still finding their way!

But companies need to embrace social media and quickly- before they get left behind by competitors and start up companies. The opportunities are vast and highly promising.

Growing Your Business: 5 Tips from the Co-Founder of Foursquare

Posted Thursday, March 25th, 2010

smallbusiness, 23 March

As co-founder of the Internet’s hottest startup, Foursquare, Dennis Crowley knows a thing or two about growing a small business.

Foursquare is a location-sharing mobile app that lets users check-in to venues, share that check-in with their friends and social media sites, and discover friends, tips, and popular places nearby. The startup launched one year ago, has attracted massive press coverage, and has grown to around 600,000 members.

This isn’t Crowley’s first success story as a technology entrepreneur, and given that he’s also worked for Google, his perspective is colored with the sagacity of knowing that being nimble, lean, and fast can be just as effective — if not more so — as having bigger budgets and more manpower.

Over the years, Crowley’s learned several key lessons applicable to small businesses. Here are five that small business owners should take to heart.

1. “Twitter is your best friend”

Crowley speaks of Twitter as a distribution channel for all types of communication, and describes it as the most immediate way to connect with customers.

“At Foursquare we use Twitter for a little bit of everything: Good news and bad news, press clippings, RTs [retweets] from other users and customer service inquires. We’ll tweet when new versions of our apps are ready for download and tweet when our database is experiencing hiccups. Keeping users in the know doesn’t take any more than a few seconds and your most loyal users will spread the word via RTs.”

The nature of Foursquare may position it to be more heavily followed than the typical small business, but the point here is that small business owners should use Twitter to compliment their day-to-day work experiences.

2. “Keep it light”

The Foursquare team lives by this mantra, so while they share everything from where they are to what they’re doing, they’re doing so in edible, consumer-sized bites, perfect for the sporadic attention spans of their audience.

On this front, they’ve opted to use Tumblr as a lightweight blogging platform. Crowley explains, “On our company Tumblr we’ll post the success stories our users send in, write recaps of what goes down at Foursquare HQ meetings, and post pics of what we’re having for lunch. Our staff is full of personality and we try to show that as much as we can. The story of 16 guys and girls crammed around four tables is much more interesting than the story of a faceless Internet startup.”

Crowley also advises to apply the “keep it light” philosophy to all customer-facing initiatives. He also suggests that small business owners don’t have to be “all business, all the time.”

3. “Guerilla customer service”

Foursquare is by no means perfect. As a young startup, the company faces the challenge of keeping their servers running as they attract record levels of activity, and doing so always in the public eye. It’s a daunting position to be in unless it’s approached head-on, and that’s what Crowley and his team do on a daily basis.

“We’ll use Twitter Search to search for things like “foursquare sucks,” “foursquare broken,” etc. to find people who are experiencing problems but who would probably never submit a support ticket. With a quick @reply we can often shed some light on the issue and do it in public.”

The same guerilla-style customer service is perfect for small businesses, especially with regard to negative press or unflattering blog posts and comments. Crowley says, “don’t feel shy, jump in and comment. Making yourself part of the conversation shows users you’re listening and care about the issues they have.”

4. “Small and scrappy marketing 4eva”

Not everything should be expensive, especially when it comes to marketing. Small businesses could easily be intimidated by the money that bigger companies can throw at large campaigns, but bigger isn’t always better.

Steal a page from Foursquare‘s play book and get scrappy. Take the SXSW Interactive festival. Inside the convention center there were dozens of sponsors with huge tents and elaborate setups. Here’s what Foursquare did:

“Instead [of formulating a marketing plan] we did two things: #1. Took all the swag we had (pins, stickers, temporary tattoos) and put them in ziplock bags. Everytime we found a user that told us how much they loved Foursquare (and there was an army of them!) we gave them a bag of swag to hand out to their friends. #2. We picked up a rubber Foursquare ball and a box of chalk, drew a Foursquare court on the ground outside the convention center and played for four days straight (and yes, we are still sore).”

The game was a huge hit and attracted the attention of conference goers and big media alike. Crowley continues saying, “Thousands of people stopped by to see what was going on, say hi, play a game or two, and pick up some swag. It gave people the chance to meet our team in a super informal setting (playground game!) and hang out with us in an environment where phones and laptops were completely out of the way.”

5. “Show off your team”

The scrappiness didn’t stop with fun and games. Crowley also used the offline event as an opportunity to introduce users to team members, and vice versa, in a playful way.

Crowley states, “We designed our business cards as collectibles — collect all 6 and unlock a Foursquare badge. Once word of this got out, people were looking all over downtown Austin for employees just so they could introduce themselves and collect a badge. Every time we handed out a card, we got to meet one of our users. Actually encouraging people to reach out and introduce themselves to your team puts a name and a face on the products you’re building. It also helped us start a dialog with people who’d probably never introduce themselves.”

It’s a smart strategy that small businesses can emulate to create more personal connections with their customers.

Selling your business successfully

Posted Friday, August 14th, 2009

It is estimated that at around 10-15% of Britain’s three million businesses are looking to sell or change ownership at any given time.

BBC NEWS, 21st May 2008

The last few months have seen many business owners rush to take advantage of the beneficial Capital Tax Gain regime before it changed in April this year.

Alongside the credit squeeze, falling house prices, rising business liquidations and possible recession, you might think now is not a great time to be selling a business.

The truth though is that quality businesses will always sell for good prices, regardless of the state of economy.

However, it is estimated that only one in 10 businesses that go to market end in a sale.


Getting your price wrong, and not talking to enough of the right people, are the two main reasons why most business sales fail.

Out of these, an unrealistic price expectation is the most significant.

Many business owners mistakenly believe that a sale will generate enough money to help them retire to a life of luxury for the rest of their lives.

Whilst multi-million pound deals make good headlines, the reality is that most business sales rarely deliver a life-changing financial future.

A business is only worth what a willing buyer will pay.

For small businesses, a beer mat calculation done over the phone by a business transfer agent, accountant or knowledgeable friend down the pub, is unlikely to hold any weight opposite a banker or investor when it comes to providing the cash for a purchase.

Wanting £3m because you have always wanted to be a millionaire is not going to get you a result if you cannot make a credible explanation of your business’ value.


A good understanding of what makes a business valuable and realising who might want to buy, is essential.

An owner has to substantiate and prove why the business has value; otherwise a buyer will simply walk away.

This is particularly true, now more than ever, with a seriously diminished appetite for lending among the banks.

A seller must place himself in the buyer’s shoes.

They will ask themselves what they are buying, and why.

What makes the business truly unique? Will the return justify the expense? Will their money be better spent elsewhere? What are the comparative investments?

Turning over the stones

The second reason for sales failure is not talking to enough buyers in order to find the right one.

This is where using the right business broker can really make a difference.

If an owner relies on their accountant to write to the nearest competitors or place an advert in the Sunday papers, they are unlikely to get the best deal, or any deal.

A business sale will involve accounting and legal steps.

But do not lose sight that, ultimately, selling a business is a sales exercise and this is the skill which will really matter and make the difference.

The more buyers you can get in front of, the better chance you have of getting the best deal.

An experienced broker should research a business and industry inside out and produce credible and professional documentation.

This will cover a full valuation, as well as a full marketing plan, designed to identify and reach every possible potential purchaser for the business.

This plan should include exposure to a database of known prospects and broker contacts, and direct liaison with businesses identified through research, as well as advertising on the web and in other relevant media.

Leave one of these stones unturned and vital opportunities might be missed.

Don’t leave it too late

The first step in selling a business should be to seek out specialist help early on.

A business should be properly appraised and valued.

This will set the right level of expectation as well as highlight any issues which should be addressed prior to going to market.

For example, would a change in Government legislation suddenly alter the business landscape? Is now the right time to be selling? What makes a business valuable? Can a business be improved? Why would a buyer would be interested? What other businesses in the sector have sold and for how much?

This process alone can dramatically affect not only the amount of money changing hands but also if a deal can be done at all, which will save you time, money and unnecessary worry.


An appraisal or valuation should be done by a credible source.

This should be an experienced business broker or an accountant who specialises in business sales, ideally a year or two ahead of when looking to exit.

As with most things in life, there are good and bad.

Do research, look for recommendations and do not be afraid to check that a broker has the necessary experience and proven track record.

A specialist in selling fish and chip shops or pubs is unlikely to help sell a recruitment agency or precision engineers.

A seller should not let poor planning, unrealistic expectations and weak marketing prevent the achievement of the ultimate holy grail of the entrepreneur – a successful exit.

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