Business advice

Do some more research, please
June 30, 2009, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Business mistakes are so common these days; it can be hard to weed out good business basics from the irrational.  I have been rereading, “Looking out for Number 1.”  The author reminds us that if you hang out with irrational people long enough, you will start to think like they do.

I just went through a “Who’s on First?” interaction with some bloggers who mistakenly thought they were running a business site.  I have “Google Alerts” set up for the Bell Business Report.  About three weeks ago, I started getting notices of a blog that used the BBR in part of their name.

I wrote to those folks first politely asking them to cease using my name.  They didn’t know what I would be bothered about this.  They thought it a common name for a business report that did a ‘wrap up of the news.’  Obviously, their business education didn’t and doesn’t extend any farther that copying specific economic numbers for the day and posting them on their site.  They had no clue how valuable a name of business is.  Big lawsuits have been fought over these issues.

A couple of weeks went by and I had no further Alerts announcing use of my name.  Then the beginning of this week it popped up again.  I repeated the same message.  I was answered in angry words wanting to know, “…why do you keep doing this?”  I re-explained thinking that I wouldn’t hear back from them.  Lo and behold, later than same evening they wrote telling me they had picked a new name.  I am sure they didn’t do this because they were convinced it made sense, but because they wanted to get me off their back.  It doesn’t matter.  The result was the same.  I don’t have to worry someone is going to Google the Bell Business Report and end up on his page.

Your company’s name is one of the most important things about your business.  It represents to the public who you are and how you want to be perceived.  In picking a name, that you want to have the legal rights to use in your state, you need to file a DBA, doing business as.  It then becomes the Secretary of the State’s job to run a search to see if that name is available for use in your state.  If so, you are granted the use of the name for a time period.  After which, you will then have to pay another fee to get your right to it renewed.

There are also many ways during our Web 2.0 or 3.0 era of being able to search out domain names to see which ones are already taken.  During the middle 90s, the Web wasn’t as organized regarding domain names.  One very famous biggie in the marketing industry confided to me that he was going to have to go to court to keep his website’s name.

Let’s move on to another egregious error that I run into time and again.  Do not tell the general public that you are test marketing your business.  It makes you sound like a fool.  The term being used now-a-days is beta.  The word used to be used solely to describe someone working on either a new computer program or a video game.  People were working on it to try and get the bugs out.  Now, I see businesses advertise time again they are in beta.  This is used as an excuse as to why they can’t pay the people they want involved in their business.  Recently, I discussed this with one guy who thought he knew the skinny on publishing sites.  “I’m in beta.  They, referring to another company I had used as an example; they have just raised $15M.  You can’t expect me to be able to offer what they do.”

I told him to go back and get decent financing.  If he tried using people without paying them, he wasn’t going to succeed.  I didn’t bother telling him that it went against the laws of economics because I would have been wasting my breath.  He kept rambling about how he was going to change the world of journalism and build a site with new technologies.  “Who, are you kidding, these types of sites have been around for a decade,” was how I responded.

They guy didn’t know what he was doing; didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t care, apparently, that he shared this lack of knowledge with the rest of the world.

All I can say is that if you want to have a shot of having a successful business, look at what others have done, what they are doing and even more, how they got there.  Stop diving into the deep end without finding out what awaits you at the bottom.



How versatile are you?
June 8, 2009, 12:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I ran into an old friend online this past week.  We chatted about my problems and then he got to what was on his mind.  He wasn’t doing so hot and was very angry about it.  I met him when he was in his late 20s.  He was going to school and working on a degree in accounting.  He also worked on computers as a sideline.  Now, he is working in the corporate world and very frustrated.  Well, you know it’s all been drummed into our heads that if we work hard, things should go well for us in life. That axiom only holds true when the economy is moving at a healthy pace.

So, we can see by that reasoning simple hard work isn’t going to guarantee us anything other than we might be farther down on the pink slip list.  What is one to do?

I told him about four years ago when I was too ill to sit in front of a computer and I was stuck with just my disability check. I found an out.  I have always crocheted and took it back up.  I started a small project.  Others were astonished and before I knew it, I was in the crochet business.  It turned into a nice supplemental income.

The demand for computer repairs isn’t what it once was.  If someone gets too frustrated, they simply buy a new one.  Sometimes, the repair costs just aren’t worth it.  But my friend could still keep another revenue stream going with the knowledge he has.  I am thinking he was in the state of just wanting to complain.  He wasn’t interested in pursuing another outlet at the time.

We can’t afford to sit still and wait for things to get better.  Because, truth be told, the market niche you’re in might not get better. Sitting still and tensing over every negative report on the economy is going to do anything but make you ill and ready for the unemployment line.

Do you have a decent job that might be around for awhile, but has you going nowhere?  Sign up for night classes and latch on to another skill before the pink slip shows up on your desk.

Douglas Adams, since deceased, came to fame with his series of “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”  The inside jacket of the books revealed what he had to done to earn a living before he got the writing bug.  One stands out in my memory.  He had been a ditch digger.  We all need secondary skills if we wish to keep the roof over our heads and food on the table.

Many have hobbies that can be turned into revenue streams if push comes to shove.  Well, push has come to shove for most of us.  Handmade items always have a market no matter how bad things are.  For small fees these items can be sold on eBay.  If you have sewing skills, there is a market.  People throw clothes away these days because they don’t want to take the trouble to get them altered.

If you had a talent for languages back in college, sign on to one of those programs that promises you will be speaking like a native.  Check out your local court system and find out about their need for translators.  People with language skills have doors open that are closed to the rest of us.

If you are in a corporate environment where you feel there might be some cutbacks close to you, take on extra work your colleagues can’t seem to get to.  This way you may learn just a little something extra that might keep you around longer than your colleagues.

Look for anyway to keep a Plan B going and in this state of affairs, you might even have to go a few letters down the alphabet in order to keep all your bases covered.  Stop griping about what isn’t happening and learn something new so you can make it happen.