Archive for the 'Top 10' Category

Top 10: (Don’t) Curb Your Enthusiasm

Topic: Startups, Strategies, Top 10| Comments Off on Top 10: (Don’t) Curb Your Enthusiasm

Let me start by saying I didn’t write this, I saw it on one of the blogs I subscribe to and thought it would be a great addition for my readers.  In it’s entirety, here is the article:

The next couple of weeks will bring many students back to school. This time is bittersweet for many. There is the foreboding of classes and homework balanced with the enthusiasm of a fresh start. What if you could keep that “fresh start” feeling all semester long?

Here are the top 10 ways to keep your enthusiasm high after returning to school:

  1. Get your books early – One of the most hectic times of each college school year is that crazy few days in the college bookstore before the semester starts. Who needs it. Get your books early. If your professors haven’t posted them online, call the bookstore and see if they have a list. If still no luck, give your professor a polite e-mail stating you’d like to get your books early so you can prepare for the class. Ask which books you need to buy.
  2. Skim and review before class starts – Review is one of your best weapons against challenging exams. Since you have your books early, spend a few hours skimming and reviewing each one. Familiarize yourself with the table of contents, summaries, bolded text and sidebars. Get the edge.
  3. Do not change your diet – eating more or less can change your concentration, energy level and ability to stay alert. Presuming you are satisfied with your current mental chemistry, avoid changing your diet. P.S. Studies show 75% of college freshmen put on 7lbs their first semester – keep lean and mean.
  4. Decide your main goal – Do you want straight A’s, B’s ? Before you can get anywhere you have to know where you are going beforehand. Choose before the semester starts what grades you want and write it down. By putting it in writing, you are setting an agreement with yourself – after that, all you need to do is not break that agreement. 😉
  5. Decide why you want to make A’s in your classes – why do you want to be a good student? Write up a list of reasons and then hang them in a prominent location in your living quarters. When the going gets tough and you don’t feel like studying or going to class, review this list. Add to it if you can. Reasons are what keep enthusiasm high.
  6. Keep your exercise program going – Hopefully, since you are reading this blog, you have adopted an exercise program. Going to class is no excuse to stop. Stick with it for increased self-esteem, concentration and enthusiasm for learning.
  7. Sit in the front row – Studies have shown sitting in the front row is an easy way to improve your grades. Why? You hear better, you have more interaction with the professors and there is no possible way to doze if you are in the front row. So choose the front row and win.
  8. Reward yourself after small accomplishments – When you get an assignment or test deadline, right then and there, decide on a reward for completing it successfully. I am not saying you have to get an A. Instead a small reward for simply getting through. Some ideas: A new video game, a toy, tee shirt, DVD. Pick something just for you and do not buy it until you finish your assignment. The fun reward will carry you through to the finish line.
  9. Make a habit of studying at the same time every day – Humans function better at different times. When do you study the best? Early morning, afternoon or evening? Work on finding that out and then make a pact that you’ll study at that time every day. This works because 1 you’ll be in your zone naturally and you will be developing a habit of high quality study at that time of day.
  10. Get enough sleep – Staying up late at night watching TV, goofing off or drinking might be fun at the time, but leads to excessive tiredness during classes. It’s tough to be enthusiastic if you are dead tired. So pick a time your fun and serious side can agree on, then stick to it. Set a reminder on your cellphone or computer if you need to. Just get some sleep you look tired.

Brad Isaac is a lead software programmer and blogger. You can read his motivational strategies every day on his goal setting blog, Achieve-IT!

Again, just to be clear – I didn’t write this one and I encourage you to check out the contributing author’s blog.  Class dismissed.

Tuesday Top 10: Improving Your Workflow

Topic: Strategies, Top 10| 2 Comments »

I almost didn’t post today because I’m feeling pretty sick.  But I figured it would be easy enough to put together a quick top 10 on ways to improve your workflow and overall organization.

  1. Plan your day out the night before.  I just use notepad and outline the core responsibilities I have for the next day.  Too many people don’t have any idea what they should be working on because they don’t take the time to write down what it is they need to do.
  2. Use a calendar like sunbird, google calendar, or iCal to do more long term planning.  It’s easy to set reminders and keep yourself on task this way.
  3. Knock out the more tedious tasks like cleaning your workspace or organizing your filing cabinet before moving onto the more interesting things.  Otherwise the boring stuff never gets done.
  4. Brainstorm or Mind Map once every two weeks.  You don’t have to make a ritual out of it, but this helps you to think long term as opposed to living in the moment all the time.
  5. Build your own whiteboard.  I did and it has helped me out a ton already.  I’ll have a post on Friday showing off my home office along with steps on how I constructed everything.
  6. Utilize online services for keeping up with your contacts.  High Rise by 37signals is perfect.
  7. Carry a day planner with you.  I scribble down notes and todos between classes and during boring lectures, then transfer them to my computer when I get home.  It’s also a nice place to store a stack of business cards and other essentials.
  8. Set aside time for sidetracking.  It’s all too easy to hit your Stumble Upon button or check your RSS feeds.  I’m not saying don’t do it, but I am saying plan ahead because it does happen.
  9. If you’re like me, you check your inbox constantly.  When I’m away from my desk, I still check constantly from my smartphone.  Checking and responding to emails is incredibly unproductive.  I’m trying to limit myself to 4 times a day – and even that is too much – when I wake up, lunch time, 5ish, and before bed.
  10. I’m leaving number 10 open to your suggestions.  I’m looking forward to your comments to see what other methods you use to increase productivity.

5 Steps To A Rock Solid Promotional Plan

Topic: Analysis, Startups, Strategies, Top 10| 2 Comments »

Good morning Startup Students. While we have not yet explored the core aspects of a bullet proof business plan, I’d like to take today to discuss with you the benefits of your promotional plan. Without marketing and promotion, the idea, management, and financials of a business plan won’t take you anywhere. Here’s a quick list of 5 easy steps to rock solid promotional plan.

  1. You must first determine your sales and marketing objectives. Utilizing a matrix is ideal for this type of analysis. I discussed using a matrix analysis to select your opportunity, but the underlying techniques still apply.
  2. Develop strategies to achieve your goals. Brainstorming and mind mapping are ideal solutions for coming up with these goals.
  3. Create a well defined method for carrying out your strategies. Use your best judgment for now, but we’ll explore this a bit more at a later date.
  4. Determine a budget and then enact a program to assure the success of your promotion.
  5. Continuously evaluate the results of your promotional objectives and adjust your strategy as needed.

A variety of promotional strategies exist, some more mainstream than others. Here’s a few to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Traditional media advertising – Not recommended for startups
  • In store displays – expensive yet effective
  • Creative packaging – High quality, memorable, and fun works best
  • Guarantees – Low cost and effective
  • Trade shows and conventions – Expensive, but professional
  • Direct mailings – Creative, memorable pieces
  • Catalog sales – A dying breed
  • Press releases, news stories, and other “free ink” – Holds more value than ads
  • One on one personal selling – Great for bootstrapping startups
  • Industry specific trade magazines – Every industry has at least one
  • Mailing lists – Utilize your web site or a paid list
  • Networking – Online and in person
  • Top notch customer service – Model after some of your favorite companies
  • Paid search results – Find low cost, effective keywords
  • Top quality web presences – A necessity these days
  • Adwords campaigns – Varying results
  • Stumbleupon campaigns – Highly recommended

If you have any additional suggestions you’d like to share, please comment! That’s all for today students, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday Top 10: Customer Analysis

Topic: Analysis, Top 10| Comments Off on Tuesday Top 10: Customer Analysis

Quick post today because I’m feeling a bit under the weather. Identifying the buyers in your target market is critical to the success of your new business. Today’s Top 10 focuses on the questions you need to answer about the customers in your target market.

  1. What types of customers are you trying to attract? What are their habits and demographics?
  2. What problems are your customers facing with their current solution?
  3. What needs of their’s are not being met?
  4. Which segments of your market are being ignored, and how can you capitalize on them?
  5. Who are the traditional customers in this market? How can you expand your reach into secondary markets?
  6. Again, how is the market further segmented?
  7. What motivates their buying decisions? Needs, resources, etc.
  8. Can you identify the channels of distribution being used? See if you can find which channels are being ignored and figure out how to capitalize on them.
  9. In what ways are customers dissatisfied with the current offerings in the marketplace? Again, how can you capitalize on this?
  10. Not a question but a call to action. Get out there and talk to your potential customers! Use the techniques we’ve discussed in previous posts and just make it happen.

Again, sorry for the quick post – but I’m really not up to par today. And folks, I know you are out there, so how about starting to leave some comments! Class dismissed.

Tuesday Top 10: More Opportunity Selection Techniques

Topic: Exploration, Startups, Top 10| Comments Off on Tuesday Top 10: More Opportunity Selection Techniques

Good morning Startup Students! First off, I’m pleased to announce a new partnership with Mind Petals, after just one week of blogging! My posts will now be aggregated onto their homepage daily. If you haven’t visited them in the past, I highly recommend it – there’s some real inspiration to be had around that site.

Now take your seats, because class is in session. I’m starting a new weekly segment entitled Tuesday Top 10, and to kick things off it’s going to be a Twofer Tuesday. Yesterday we discussed methods for spotting opportunities in your daily environment. Today we’re going to take those opportunities you’ve spotted and work to narrow them down into viable business opportunities.

Here’s 10 pointers to help you do just that:

  1. I mentioned early last week that life and business tend to overlap and that is especially true for young entrepreneurs. Don’t worry if your personal and business objectives mesh – it’s actually a good thing.
  2. So you’ve got a few good ideas, now would be a good time to briefly learn more about each industry. Don’t dive in too deep, that’ll come later. Lot’s of you readers are still in college, and that is fantastic because your library (hopefully) gives you access to expensive databases. Hoovers‘ free section should be good enough for this bit of homework however.
  3. Again, I don’t want you diving in too deep, but put a few of each industry’s segments in the back of your memory banks, they’ll come in handy at a later date
  4. Can you see any potential problems that the industry is overlooking? If so, do they seem like something you could capitalize on?
  5. Do any of the solutions to those potential problems mesh with your personal and business objectives?
  6. This one is kind of a given, but start concentrating on the most promising opportunities.
  7. Find a couple blogs on each industry and subscribe to their RSS feed for a week or two.
  8. If you get a chance, try to interview a couple leaders in those industries. You’ll find that people love talking about how great they are.
  9. Subscribe to some industry related magazines. Every industry has at least one – and they’re usually free to subscribe if you meet the qualifications.
  10. And that leads us to point #10, it’s time to Brainstorm!

The previous points aren’t meant as an exact guide, but should offer a nice stepping stone towards narrowing down your “idea bank”.

Wait! Sit back down Startup Students, it’s a Twofer Tuesday remember!

I’d like to give you a few pointers to help you with brainstorming:

  1. This one is important – never ever say No once the session starts – just write it down!
  2. Don’t critisize anything, get down everything that pops into your head
  3. All ideas are good ideas (at this point).
  4. Go somewhere quiet, and keep the distractions to a minimum
  5. Use your resources only after you’ve exhausted your brain. No browsing the net just yet!
  6. Create a Mind Map while you’re at it
  7. Once you are completely out of ideas and have exhausted your resources, continue writing for at least another five minutes.
  8. Have some structure to your madness. Try numbering each idea – you’ll feel like you are really accomplishing something.
  9. If you’ve got the time, take each idea and make a scrapbook out of it. Magazine clippings, blog posts, newsfeeds, if it is at all related clip it out and put it in the binder. Remember, ideas breed ideas.
  10. Merge your ideas. Decide if two or more can be accomplished with one solution or if some need to be placed on the backburner.

Today was a little bit more “schoolish” than usual – but hey, you are startup students!

Ok, class dismissed.

Top 10 Success or Failure Characteristics of Young Entrepreneurs

Topic: General, Quizzes, Self Exploration, Startups, Top 10| Comments Off on Top 10 Success or Failure Characteristics of Young Entrepreneurs

When determining if you have what it takes to become the next great startup student, it’s a good idea to check which characteristics you have. Heres the top 10 from both sides of the aisle.

Top 10 Killer Factors (the bad ones):

  1. Weak Personality
  2. The Loner Syndrome
  3. Cash Flow Troubles
  4. Lack of Marketing Strategies
  5. Lack of Control
  6. No Plan
  7. Associate with the Wrong Crowd
  8. Not Enough Financial Backing
  9. Underestimating your Competition
  10. Lack of Focus on your Core Idea

And now for the Top 10 Success Factors of young entrepreneurs:

  1. A Willingness to Succeed
  2. Self Confidence
  3. Understands the Competition
  4. Uses a Targeted Marketing Strategy
  5. Clear Idea for their next Startup
  6. Healthy Managerial Support
  7. Cooperates well with Others
  8. Well Structured in Life and Business
  9. Keeps Close Tabs on Finances
  10. The Business Plan

#10 is a biggie, and we’ll will discuss it in depth over the coming months with tips and strategies, templates, research, and everything else you’ll need when developing the plan for your startup.

If you possess a few (or many) of the Killer Characteristics (remember – those are the bad ones) don’t worry, you’re not alone! I just ask you to make a concise effort to move towards the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

Class dismissed, see you tomorrow!