Archive for November, 2007

Blood Money

Topic: Financials, Helpful Ideas, Startups| Comments Off on Blood Money

I had the opportunity to chat with serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz over the phone this evening, and really enjoyed hearing his insights on small business and more specifically young entrepreneurs.  I asked if he was interested in contributing to the Startup Students community, and he offered up the great article found below. Enjoy!

Mike Michalowicz, Serial Entrepreneur

I recently received a notice congratulating me on donating a gallon of blood. I quickly did some research on Wikipedia and learned that the human body has slightly over a gallon of blood pumping through it. Clearly, if I gave a gallon of blood in one sitting I would be a goner. Shoot, even if I only donated one third of my blood (approximately 3 pints) in one sitting I might suffer some tough consequences. But since I donate one pint of blood at a time, my body hardly misses it and I can donate as frequently as seven times a year without missing a heartbeat (pun intended). My blood donations have quickly piled up and in a very short time I have given a gallon.

We’ve all heard that cash is the lifeblood of our business. I think it’s hard to argue otherwise. Shouldn’t we treat our money like our business’s blood? Just like a medical emergency, a business in need of fiscal attention often requires an infusion of capital.

Medical needs sometimes can be predicted and sometimes can’t. Regardless of the timing, with a pool of easily accessible blood reserves the chance for survival dramatically increases. Sometimes our business problems are predictable and other times they blindside the living crud out of us. Regardless of the timing, with a pool of easily accessible cash the chance for business survival dramatically increases.

That’s why you need to regularly “donate” business cash flow to your reserves. The best method is by taking your profit first. What do I mean by this? Every time money comes into the business, and I mean every time, a percentage is automatically transferred into a separate account. Just like a pint of blood, a healthy business will hardly feel it being withdrawn. I like to call this reserve the Profit Distribution Account (PDA).

How much money can be transferred to the PDA without threatening the health of the business? Most stable companies should be able to post a profit of 10% to 25% after all expenses. So trying starting with a low threshold, maybe 5% of every inbound dollar goes to the PDA. Over time slowly increase the percentage and monitor closely to see if your business gets woozy. Once you have consciously (more often subconsciously) adjusted expenses and cash outflow to sustain your PDA withdrawals, you will quickly accumulate a tremendous cash reserve. Be cognizant not to stow away too much money too quickly. Just like donating blood, the rapid drain of cash exiting from business operations will cripple or kill your organization.

Should tough times come upon your company, and they often do, you now have a source of funds that you’ve built up. The PDA’s dinero reserve will see you through these times. On the bright side, as these funds grow they will ultimately be in excess of any imaginable rainy day needs. At that point you should take portions as an equity distribution. Trust me, it’s a real nice way to reward yourself for running a healthy business. There is a nifty little process I recommend on how to do this, but I’ll save that for another article.

If you’ve never given blood, I strongly encourage you to do it. There’s no question it saves lives. If you don’t currently donate to your company’s PDA account, I strongly encourage you to start. There’s no question it saves companies.

Author

 

Mike Michalowicz’s passion is making small businesses BIG and doing it fast. He was founder and former President of Olmec Systems, Inc., which he sold in 2002 through a private transaction. He subsequently co-founded and served as Co-Managing Partner of PG Lewis & Associates, LLC. There his leadership helped bring it to national prominence in three short years. The company was subsequently acquired in a public transaction in 2006.

Michalowicz was recognized as New Jersey’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA in 2000, Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999 by the MCCC, and is a 2004 graduate of MIT’s “Birthing of Giants” Entrepreneurial Program. Michalowicz has been highlighted on entrepreneurial topics in Inc. magazine, the New York Times and other periodicals.

A graduated member of YEO (Young Entrepreneur’s Organization), Michalowicz has a BA from Virginia Tech in Finance and in Management Sciences. He is married, has three children and lives in NJ.

Happy Thanksgiving

Topic: Self Exploration| 1 Comment »

I’ll be taking some time off from working, studying, and blogging for the next couple days and I hope you get to as well. Happy Thanksgiving, and best wishes – I’ll be back Monday!

Class dismissed.

7 Lies That Prevent Your Great Idea from becoming a Real Business

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Strategies, Top 10| 5 Comments »

Written by Greg Go of WiseBread.

7 lies that prevent Your Great Idea from becoming a Real Business

A lot of people have a Great Idea. It might be a new invention or a local service business. Unfortunately for consumers, many would be entrepreneurs are waiting for “the right time” to start their Real Business. They have plenty of reasons (excuses) for the delays. From lack of time to lack of experience, our minds have creative ways of rationalizing our fears.

Here are 7 common excuses for not starting a Real Business, along with strategies for overcoming internal fear, uncertainty and doubt (“Internal FUD”).

How Internal FUD kills Great Ideas

1. I’m too busy right now. I’ll start when I have more time.

This is the most sinister of the excuses because it is completely true. You would do more for your business if you had all the time in the world. But really, are you ever going to get less busy?

Starting a new business involves risk, time and effort. As you pick up more dependents and/or expenses over time, your ability to take the risk necessary for launching a business disappears. Many would-be entrepreneurs wait far too long for a perfect moment that never comes.

Today is as perfect as it gets. Even if you only do one small thing a day (or week or month), it’s better than always waiting for tomorrow. Don’t put off your dream until you are “less busy”. It’s never going to happen.

2. After I get an MBA, I’ll be ready to start up.

Some people think they need an MBA before they can make their Great Idea happen. That is false. An MBA doesn’t guarantee success. And an MBA is not a requirement for starting a business.

At the end of the day, you’re trading a service or product for some money. If you can build/provide this product/service, and you can convince people to pay money for it, you have a business. MBA, bachelor’s or even high school degrees be damned.

3. I hate sales.

If you really hate trading a product/service for money (the definition of a “sale”), then I don’t know what to tell you. There’s no business without sales.

However, I’ll bet you don’t really hate sales. You hate used car salesmen and cold callers. The good news is that 99.9 percent of business transactions are completely unlike the pushy sales pitch. Businesses that offer actual value don’t have to work very hard to make sales. If you’re making a product or providing a service that people want and it’s priced fairly, then both you and your customers are happier because of the sale.

Dismiss this myth — you don’t hate sales. Do you love talking about your great idea? Sales is just telling people about the awesomeness of your product/service.

4. I’ll do some research after South Park.

You know the really successful entrepreneurs enjoy their work much more than traditional leisure activities like watching TV/movies. And you probably already feel guilty about watching TV instead of doing more market research. I won’t lecture you about dedication and commitment and priorities. You already know that stuff.

Instead I’ll tell you how I got out of my entrepreneurial funk. Whenever I was watching more TV than working on my Great Idea, it was because I was stuck. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mind was avoiding making a tough decision or working through a particularly hard problem. My Internal FUD pushed me towards easier tasks. Watching TV was a whole lot easier than spending a couple hours researching, thinking about, and making the tough call. I overcame this self-imposed obstacle by giving myself a “State of the Great Idea” report.

Rediscover your motivation by scheduling 1 hour of “hard thinking time” to come up with concrete actionable tasks. Make a date with yourself to honestly evaluate your Great Idea. Stealing 10 minutes in the shower or during your commute is not good enough. You need the full hour (or more) to think through the critical problems and identify actionable tasks you can do next. Once you have some tasks to do, and have made some forward progress in turning your Great Idea into a Real Business, you will lose the craving to incessantly watch and discuss Cartman’s latest hijinks.

5. I don’t know anything about business.

Good news! Business administration is the easy part. The hard part is having a good product. There are plenty of resources (both off- and on-line) that will help you cross those business process bridges when you get to them.

Shatter this roadblock by realizing you don’t need to be a business guru to get started. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are among the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, and they didn’t know anything about business when they started.

To help you figure it out along the way, here are a few online resources to help your business get started:

Pore over articles at Entrepreneur.com and check out business books from the library. All the business know-how you need is freely available.

6. I don’t have startup capital.

Your business may legitimately need startup capital, but is your Internal FUD keeping you from looking for it? Not having the necessary capital right now is not a show stopper. There are lots of places to get startup capital.

A variation of this excuse is “I don’t want to take on partners/investors, so I need to save up the money myself.” This is Internal FUD using your greed against you. If you thought about it a bit, isn’t it better to own 50 percent of a Real Business now than 100 percent of a maybe future business that could or could not actually happen?

Don’t let Internal FUD keep you on the couch instead of raising that startup capital. Even if you wanted to retain full ownership, you have lots of financial options. Here’s a few creative ways to not take investors and overcome the money problem:

  • cash out your savings
  • get one or more low interest loans from friends and family
  • small business credit cards
  • live like a poor college student — lower your personal expenses
  • do it yourself
  • get a line of credit from your company’s bank
  • get a loan from the Feds (basic requirements for getting a SBA loan)

Here’s a chart with more funding options and the pros and cons of each.

7. Before doing anything else, I need to write a business plan.

A business plan is important to keep you on task. Once you’ve opened your doors, you won’t have time to think big picture amidst the day-to-day fires of running a business.

Having said that, you don’t really need a business plan before getting started. Writing a beautiful 100-page plan doesn’t make you a single penny. Making a product, closing that first sale… those are the truly critical things to being a Real Business.

What you need is a stripped down, practical, internal business plan just for yourself. Just answer the following questions (and write down your answers!), and you’ll be well on your way to closing that first sale.

  • What is your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
    • There are probably many potential types of customers that are interested in your product. Who are the ones that will particularly love your product/service? How many of them are there?
    • Who else is doing what you’re doing?Who are your competitors and potential competitors? Why is your product/service better?
  • When will things get done?
    • Given the specific customers you describe above, how do you plan on getting them? Will you buy ads, encourage referrals from existing customers, create a website?
    • In the next 3, 6, 12 months, what are specific milestones you want to accomplish? What does your company look like in 2, 3 or 5 years?
    • What are the next steps you need accomplish this month?
  • How much money will it take to start and how much will you earn?
    • How much money will it cost to make your product or provide your service?
    • How much do you have to charge to earn a profit?
    • Using this spreadsheet, plan your startup’s first year expenses and income. What month will you break even?

The next step to becoming a Real Business is easy.

At the end of the day, you only need to keep two things in mind:

  1. Most of these excuses aren’t real obstacles. As soon as you recognize that’s it just Internal FUD, you can pinpoint the real problem and get busy solving it.
  2. It’s not that hard. All you need to turn your Great Idea into a Real Business is to do the next action step… then another one, and so on. You don’t need to do them all at once nor do you have to know what all the steps are ahead of time. Just take the next step. It’s easy.

Recognize that there is nothing but bogus Internal FUD stopping you from turning your Great Idea into a Real Business. Good luck! I know you can do it.

If you’ve overcome your own Internal FUD, share your success stories in the comments.

Greg Go helps publish Wise Bread, a leading personal finance blog.

10 Rules for Building a Successful Business

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Top 10| 3 Comments »

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, grew up poor in a farm community in rural Missouri during the Great Depression. The poverty he experienced while growing up taught him the value of money and to persevere.

After attending the University of Missouri, he immediately worked for J.C. Penny where he got his first taste of retailing. He served in World War II, after which he became a successful franchiser of Ben Franklin five-and-dime stores. In 1962, he had the idea of opening bigger stores, sticking to rural areas, keeping costs low and discounting heavily. The management disagreed with his vision. Undaunted, Walton pursued his vision, founded Wal-Mart and started a retailing success story. When Walton died in 1992, the family’s net worth approached $25 billion.

Today, Wal-Mart is the world’s #1 retailer, with more than 4,150 stores, including discount stores, combination discount and grocery stores, and membership-only warehouse stores (Sam’s Club). Learn Walton’s winning formula for business.

Rule 1: Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work. I don’t know if you’re born with this kind of passion, or if you can learn it. But I do know you need it. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you — like a fever.

Rule 2: Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations. Remain a corporation and retain control if you like, but behave as a servant leader in your partnership. Encourage your associates to hold a stake in the company. Offer discounted stock, and grant them stock for their retirement. It’s the single best thing we ever did.

Rule 3: Motivate your partners. Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Constantly, day by day, think of new and more interesting ways to motivate and challenge your partners. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Make bets with outrageous payoffs. If things get stale, cross-pollinate; have managers switch jobs with one another to stay challenged. Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick is going to be. Don’t become too predictable.

Rule 4: Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners. The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them. If you don’t trust your associates to know what’s going on, they’ll know you really don’t consider them partners. Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.

Rule 5: Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. A paycheck and a stock option will buy one kind of loyalty. But all of us like to be told how much somebody appreciates what we do for them. We like to hear it often, and especially when we have done something we’re really proud of. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free — and worth a fortune.

Rule 6: Celebrate your success. Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm — always. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song. Then make everybody else sing with you. Don’t do a hula on Wall Street. It’s been done. Think up your own stunt. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition. “Why should we take those cornballs at Wal-Mart seriously?”

Rule 7: Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking. The folks on the front lines — the ones who actually talk to the customer — are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know. This really is what total quality is all about. To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.

Rule 8: Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want — and a little more. Let them know you appreciate them. Make good on all your mistakes, and don’t make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do. The two most important words I ever wrote were on that first Wal-Mart sign: “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” They’re still up there, and they have made all the difference.

Rule 9: Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. For twenty-five years running — long before Wal-Mart was known as the nation’s largest retailer — we’ve ranked No. 1 in our industry for the lowest ratio of expenses to sales. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.

Rule 10: Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction. But be prepared for a lot of folks to wave you down and tell you you’re headed the wrong way. I guess in all my years, what I heard more often than anything was: a town of less than 50,000 population cannot support a discount store for very long.

Excerpted from “The Book of Business Wisdom”
Edited by Peter Krass  

Class dismissed.

82 Ways To Kickstart Your Marketing Efforts

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 2 Comments »

I’d like to start off with a quick anecdotal story. There were three frogs sitting on lily pads. Two of them decided to jump off into the murky water. How many frogs remain perched on their pads? One you say? Guess again!

There’s still three frogs sitting there. Why? Because they didn’t take action. They decided to jump off the log, but never followed through.

How many times have you decided to increase sales or network with potential customers? And of those times you decided to do so, how often did you actually take action?

Enjoy the following 82 ways to market your business, but don’t forget to take action and actually put them to use!

  1. Stand Out – Especially when working online, you only have a few seconds before users hit the back button!
  2. Smile – Did you know that, even over the phone, you facial expressions can be detected?
  3. Stay Current – Read blogs, books, newspapers, magazines and discus your findings with clients. (”I agree, in fact I read an article about that this morning!”)
  4. Record a memorable voice mail message
  5. Develop A Reward System – Reward loyal customers with discounts, gifts, or free consultations.
  6. Integrity Matters – Integrity is one of the top qualities of successful entrepreneurs.
  7. Use layman’s terms
  8. Be consistent. If a campaign works, stick with it.
  9. Package Pricing – Clients find this more appealing than an hourly rate.
  10. Press Outweighs Advertising– A carefully written article or press release will outperform an advertisement every time.
  11. Define Your Niche
  12. Build It And They Will Come – I’m not saying don’t plan first. But at he same time, don’t let your competitor beat you to the punch.
  13. Sell the Value – Nobody cares how your product is made. But they do care why it brings value to them.
  14. Action Words Sell – But don’t overdo it.
  15. Ask Questions – Engage your customers, competition, associates, and mentors.
  16. Anticipate – Have answers ready for frequently asked questions.
  17. Include links to your website and blog in voice messages
  18. Public Speaking – Go read “I Can See You Naked” and then solicit networking groups for speaking opportunities.
  19. It’s about YOU – Take I out of the equation and focus on the customer.
  20. Resolve Issues Quickly – If a customer has a bad experience, they’ll tell at least 10 people. Take action and resolve disputes immediately.
  21. Get feedback – And engage customer’s as to how to correct any issues.
  22. Don’t over-promise, over-deliver
  23. Dress for the success
  24. Be relevant – Don’t sell a truck to someone who needs a bike.
  25. Respond Immediately – Take the time, best if within 24 hours, to get back to customer emails and phone calls.
  26. Network – Groups such as local Chambers of Commerce, BNI, and Industry Associations offer a great ROI.
  27. Show passion – People respond in kind and generally buy from those they like.
  28. Stay Organized – keep a contact database.
  29. Be Concise – Your customers don’t have all day.
  30. Collateral – Keep your marketing materials simple and to the point.
  31. Get Their Attention – Create catchy headlines and memorable quotations.
  32. Know Your Competitors – Learn how/what/why they do and then beat them at their own game.
  33. First Impressions Matter – So make the best of it!
  34. Don’t Compete on Price – Instead, focus on creating value for your customer.
  35. A Great Team – A great idea with a poor team will lose out to a great team with a poor idea.
  36. Develop Your Pitch – Have a 15, 30, 60, and 120 second elevator pitch ready at all times.
  37. Give Back – Community involvement makes good business sense, and good karma sense!
  38. 80/20 Rule – Listen 80% of the time and only talk 20% of the time.
  39. What’s Your Brand – What do you think of when you see Mercedes? Or when you see the “Can you hear me now?” commercial? What do you customers see when they hear your name?
  40. Don’t oversell, over-educate
  41. Remember Your Marketing Courses – Product, price, and placement still matter!
  42. Freebies – Sometimes they work better than offering a discount.
  43. Podcasts – Along with webinars and ebooks are great ways to infer credibility.
  44. Develop A Mailing List – Then send out a monthly newsletter.
  45. Testimonials – Your current clients owe you one if they are satisfied.
  46. SWOT – What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
  47. Say Thanks – Show clients you care.
  48. Have Fun – Let your creative juices flow when marketing.
  49. Socialize – Use every social occasion as a networking opportunity. Have your business cards ready if someone asks for one.
  50. Model Your Product – If you’re a web designer, have an amazing web site.
  51. Brainstorm – Dump all your ideas, then refine them.
  52. Focus Groups – As simple as using something like surveymonkey.com
  53. Self Publish – Writing a book will infer credibility.
  54. Call To Action – Tell people what you want them to do.
  55. Clients Have Needs – Find a way to fulfill them with your product or service.
  56. Take Care with your spelling and grammar
  57. Get a Lawyer – It’s worth the money.
  58. Timing is everything
  59. Gather Collateral – Cut Out memorable advertisements and figure out why they work. Then combine them to create your own.
  60. 3rd Time is the Charm – People usually won’t make a big purchase until they’ve heard about it three times.
  61. Don’t Make It Up – Nobody expects you to have all the answers – so don’t pretend to.
  62. Wrangle the Web – Social networks can be a great source of prospects.
  63. Direct Mail – Postcards produce results over envelopes.
  64. Business Cards – Keep it simple and easy to read. But make it stand out at the same time.
  65. What makes you the best? Determine your unique competitive advantages
  66. Relationships Matter – Develop strong relationships with your customers
  67. Blog – Create an industry focused blog to gain credibility.
  68. Follow up – Contact everyone you network with and mention an anecdote from your conversation.
  69. Cold CallingClick here for a sample script
  70. Holiday Gifts – Show customers you care by sending out a promotional piece for the holidays.
  71. Go With Your Gut – Your first instinct is usually right.
  72. ROI – Don’t spend what you cannot recoup.
  73. Diversify – Just like in the stock market.
  74. Plan For Success – Because it just might happen!
  75. Educate Yourself – Attend college courses, or engage your local SBDC.
  76. Outsource www.elance.com
  77. Become A Mentor – Help another small business or even a child.
  78. Referral Networks – America is still a good ole’ boys club.
  79. Google Matters – Invest in Search Engine Optimization to assure you come up first in Google.
  80. Find Another Market – What else can your product or service be used for?
  81. Engage Complaining Customers – If they care enough to complain, they are worth trying to save.
  82. Attend Tradeshows – Networking opportunities abound at these.

10 Tips for Setting Priorities

Topic: Exploration, Strategies, Top 10| Comments Off on 10 Tips for Setting Priorities

As a student and entrepreneur, it can be quite tough attempting to juggle all of the tasks on my todo list.  Below are some great tips on setting priorities written by home office expert Lisa Kanarek.

  1. Use a paper-based, electronic or computerized list to keep track of your tasks, instead of relying on your memory.  A list will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.
  2. Which tasks could you handle another day?  If you would face no consequences by moving a task forward, move it ahead another day or another week.  But be careful not to put it off too long!
  3. Know the difference between important and urgent.  Important means a task needs to be done, while urgent means it must be done immediately.  Knowing the difference between the two will make prioritizing easier.
  4. Realize that you can’t do everything.  This will help you to realistically prioritize your tasks.
  5. Determine if postponing the task would affect other projects you are working on.  Tasks and projects can have a domino effect.  If you do one task, yet fail to do another, you may have wasted effort on the first task.
  6. Set clear goals.  There’s a saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”  By not setting clear goals, you may be accomplishing tasks with short-term benefits.
  7. Decide if the task will help you achieve your goals.  If so, give it a higher priority.
  8. Are you making a task a top priority because i’s easy?  Don’t be fooled by easy tasks, especially when they could be done days or weeks later.
  9. Focus on quality, not quantity of tasks.  Accomplishing a few tasks that are a higher priority is better than accomplishing several lower priority tasks.
  10. Which task will increase your income?  If the task will only serve to keep you busy, it is not a top priority.  Think in terms of how the task will improve your productivity and performance.

Overhauls at ELance

Topic: Helpful Ideas| 2 Comments »

I’m a big fan of outsourcing, as it can really boost your personal productivity and workflow.  Most of my outsourcing comes on a local level, but I wanted to take a moment and point out one of the fantastic online resources for your outsourcing needs.  If you aren’t familiar with ELance, here’s a description in their own words:

Elance is a global solution that enables entrepreneurs and businesses to launch, build and grow their business from anywhere in the world.  The Elance platform allows businesses to easily find, hire, manage and pay highly qualified professionals – for exactly what they need, when they need it.  Now, business owners and managers can focus on what they do best – by outsourcing the rest.

Just recently, ELance has been concentrating on a variety of overhauls to benefit small business across the board.  Their new Water Cooler is an informal gathering of bright minds discussing and digesting the latest happenings in the freelance market.  I’d also recommend a stop at ELance University if you aren’t totally familiar with the process.

And just so you know, I recently concluded a contract with a development firm from India, and I must say it was a first class experience from start to finish.  While that might not always be the case,  ELance takes great care in screening and showcasing the available pool of outsourcd labor.

What The Customer Wants

Topic: Humor, Top 10| 3 Comments »

I know this has been passed around quite a few times, but I just think it’s hilarious and 110% true. Enjoy!

41 Ways to Turn Your Dorm Into An Office

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 9 Comments »

While Startup Students attracts a wide variety of entrepreneurs, it’s a safe assumption that a good chunk of you are still in college.  As an entrepreneur (and current college student myself) I’ve developed a number of strategies for balancing school, business, and life – all within the comforts of your dorm room or apartment.

 

Below are 41 tips for running a business on or near campus.  If you’d like to add a tip, don’t forget to leave a comment!

 

  1. Space is generally limited in an apartment, bedroom, or dorm.  Try reorganizing your room to create a cubicle of sorts so you can accomplish your work related tasks in a good environment.
  2. Construct a whiteboard like I did to organize your thoughts.
  3. Get a mailbox at UPS.  I wouldn’t go with a PO Box – a Suite at UPS costs about the same and holds more credibility.
  4. Make friends and use their abilities.  Associate with graphic designers, accounting majors, techies, socialites, and thinkers.
  5. Situate your desk to provide minimal distractions.
  6. Your space is limited now – but it won’t always be.  Consider purchasing modular furniture that will allow for future growth.
  7. Place your bed on risers to allow more room for storage.  As your business grows, so will your filing and storage needs.
  8. Get an 800 number that forwards to your dorm phone and cell phone.  This is an instant credibility boost and inexpensive.
  9. Maximize your space by maximizing your school resources.
  10. Invest in a laptop as opposed to an immobile desktop.
  11. Throw out that CRT monitor (you know who you are) and get a flat panel.  Your desk space will thank you.
  12. Hire your roommate to keep the place clean and quiet.  Outsourcing is key to juggling the busy life of an entrepreneur.
  13. Speaking of outsourcing, consider sites such as elance.com for a variety of your operational and technical needs.
  14. Don’t rush!  Leaving college isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or so I’ve heard.
  15. Construct a cable management system like I did to save space and reduce clutter.
  16. Make friends with your Accounting professor.  Especially handy come tax time.
  17. Pay students to hand out flyers for your product or service.  Beer counts as payment.
  18. Use an appointment book or scheduling software to maximize your time.
  19. Develop a routine for work, school, and fun.  But leave time for unexpected projects or rush orders.
  20. Join campus organizations and clubs.  Not only will this relieve stress but they offer great networking opportunities for well beyond your college years.
  21. Offer your services or products to your college at a reduced rate if you are just getting started.
  22. No need for a fancy printer when you can use the one’s at your school’s computer lab.
  23. A simple shower curtain and some engineering can turn a corner into a cubicle.
  24. Hand off data entry or entry level graphic design work to fellow students.  Again, beer works as payment.
  25. Spend time in your school library, sometimes you forget what a great resource it is.
  26. Get out of the dorm and set up office at a coffee shop on occasion.
  27. With a dresser and an extra curtain rod, your closet can now become your office.
  28. A college campus makes a great place for meetings.
  29. Online businesses take up little space.  Perfect for the dorm bound student.
  30. Maximize space by utilizing your walls.  Calendars, important documents, filing bins, etc can all be placed on the wall to save space.
  31. Go wireless.  The less wires, the more desk space.
  32. Use chalk to advertise your business on sidewalks.
  33. Take a full load of courses.  For me at least, it seems like the more I have to do – the more I get done.
  34. When you go out, casually reinforce your need to network.  Don’t come right out and ask your friends to buy your product, rather it’s a good idea to plant the seed.
  35. Get a copy of your roommate’s schedule, and find times where you can get work done quietly.
  36. Attend events held by your dorm hall, they usually offer free food.
  37. Utilize drop shipping companies to limit inventory.
  38. Advertise directly to your University’s alumni.
  39. Don’t let your grades suffer, if for no other reason than success breeds success.
  40. Consider starting or joining an entrepreneur club on campus.
  41. More than anything else, enjoy your time in college and maintain a healthy balance of activities.

 

Class dismissed.

Press Release Template

Topic: Market Intelligence, Startups, Strategies| 1 Comment »

Whenever you develop a new product or introduce a new service, it’s always a good idea to take the time and put together a solid press release.  This document can be sent to past clients, current prospects, and to a variety of free press release distributors and wire services.  A quick google search will locate a number of these services.

Instead of going at it blind, why not use the template below by Brian Solis?  The template is organized to look like a press release, but is full of tidbits of advice on how to assure PR success.

  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

(My keywords are throughout the release – with an emphasis on the front-end)

Press Release Example Demonstrates How to Convey Your News without Using Excessive Words or Relying on Hype

In a Perfect World – Sometime in the Near Future – Brian Solis (note how I’m not putting how I am a leader here, nor should you) drafted a new outline for wire-ready and static online press releases to help PR and communications professionals tell a more meaningful story in a way that helps convey the true value of the news – without insulting the people who read it.

This new template can include a list of bullets (note wire services cannot incorporate bullets, only dashes), quotes and links:

— Press releases can tell a story to customers that specifically demonstrate why the news is valuable to them

— These releases can include SEO (search engine optimized keywords) to improve their pickup by Google and Yahoo search and news pickup

— Traditional releases can also complement Social Media Press releases and blog posts simply by linking to them

— The difference between a traditional release, new media release, and a social media release is intent, media, socialization, and distribution

Or, the press release can be written as an article you wish to see as if you’re telling, not promoting, a story. Basically it can deliver more information as to why this information is important, how it’s different and to whom it benefits and why. The key about this paragraph is that it needs to be honest and it must demonstrate that the writer indeed analyzed the pains and needs of the market they’re trying to reach.

A supporting paragraph, in this case, is going to help round out the story. In this case, usage examples will help strengthen the story and potentially inspire people to take action. These releases can be used in a variety of ways such as traditional wires, free wires, static Web pages and in blogs. They can be written for journalists, bloggers, and analysts as well as the very people we’re hoping to reach.

(Provide genuine and interesting quote that says something other than “we are excited…”)Brian Solis of PR 2.0 weighed in on the world of press releases, “Some journalists prefer to cut and paste from a well written press release while others simply need the facts without the spin. However, what’s new here is that you can have a variety of flavors of each press release to tell a story in different, genuine ways for journalists, bloggers, and customers in different markets. Just keep them interesting and relevant.”

Links are now more important than ever:

Blog: www.briansolis.com

Website: www.future-works.com

RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Pr20

Market background: http://del.icio.us/briansolis

Artwork: http://www.flickr.com/photos/briansolis

Or if the link is too long, simply input it into www.TinyUrl.com and get this shortened

format in return: http://tinyurl.com/3ctn2s

About This Outline

What you should not to do here is repeat information. It’s already been said above, and if this is to cross the wire, why pay for the extra words. Say something that fortifies the company’s stance in the market to offer perspective on the information that you are presenting however. It should also provide a bit more details about the company facts, market and histry that stand aside from the news and support the story.

# # #

Also, include some traditional and new media formats for contacting you more effectively.

Contact:

Brian Solis
PR 2.0 / FutureWorks
408-428-0895 Ext. 101
brian [at] future-works [dot] com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/futureworks
FaceBook: http://tinyurl.com/38su7l
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/briansolis
Vcard: http://tinyurl.com/3242wm