Demise of the Business Card as we know it??
As an Entrepreneur, Consultant & Business coach, I wear various hats in my work life. Some of the various activities that I do overlap, like as a Coach & Consultant but my role as a start-up has no direct connection to the other roles and I guess quite a few of us face the same scenario. I also attend quite a few networking events as these are important for my work. Having business cards is important for me and for quite some time, as my roles have increased, I have stressed about the right path to reconcile these various roles. I even considered having multiple cards or cramming all the information on one but both those were not very appealing. vCards have existed but they were nothing more than a collection of simple data. And then I discovered CardCloud (www.cardcloud.com) & Dooid (dooid.me) and voila, problem resolved. Having an email today, especially for a professional or business owner is nearly as ubiquitous as using credit / debit card while shopping. CardCloud, is very mobile-centric but also has a web presence, which I find very useful because I, personally finding working on a laptop much more easier than on creating something on a smart-phone. With CardCloud, one can create different business cards which can contain different company, contact and social media details. Now, one can have various cards for their various roles, easily available in the same space. You can upload your logo, picture and almost everything detail that a functional business card contains. When you are at a meeting, convention or conference and need to share your details, choose the profile that you want to share and simply email the information. The application records the details of the person who you shared the information with, when and where. If the person receiving the v-card has the application installed, they can see all the wonderful formatting you have done, else, it is a neatly organized vCard.
Dooid.me is quite different but performs a similar function. This application is more like your personal website with all your details, including social profiles organized in one place. You can choose your own background ala twitter and can also create a bio of yourself and upload a resume if you need to. The webpage is mobile optimized which renders beautifully in an android or iOS mobile device. You cannot have multiple profiles under one page but can choose to select what you want to share with someone. There are a lot of details that a user can make password protected and choose to share on a as needed basis.
I found both of these apps very useful. I tried a few others but did not find them as user friendly or feature rich as these two. That is my personal opinion. I am aware of RFID embedded b-Cards which are more durable and wi-fi enabled so that you can keep those cards (your contacts) updated of any changes that may happen in the future but as I have not personally tested them out, I cannot comment on their usefulness. But from the web apps that I have been using, I feel, that we are seeing the demise of the physical business card as we know it. So, for me, for the time being, GOODBYE physical b-Cards and HELLO feature rich V-Cards.
by Adam Gottlieb (www.frugalentrepreneur.com)
If you are a small business owner or a self-employed professional, and you are reading this post, then you’ve heard (probably numerous times over) that you should be including social media in some way in your marketing. For some of you, you are also hearing that social media should be used in your customer relations.
But beyond this vague knowledge, when it comes to the implementation, many of you are getting it wrong, and you may not realize just how much your social media efforts are actually cutting in to your income when they supposedly should be increasing it.
A Few Words About Where I am Coming From…
The idea for this post has actually been percolating for some time. It all started with a recentinterview I did about content marketing for small businesses working with limited resources. That got the wheels spinning. Then, I wrote a post a few weeks back about why some small businesses should not actively market themselves on location-based social media platforms. Finally, over the past week, I’ve been mulling over a book put together by Danny Iny over at Firepole Marketing called, Engagement from Scratch which offers a ton of insight about how business owners can build a loyal and engaged online audience (a big shout out to Ti Roberts who alerted me to this great free resource.)
I want to start off by saying that I have nothing against social media for business owners. On the contrary, I fully believe that with the right approach, businesses can use various social media platforms to increase sales, improve customer experience, and gain immensely valuable market feedback.
What I do have a problem with is the way these platforms are being thrown at small business owners as the holy grail of accomplishing all the things just mentioned above. And a holy grail social media is not.
Social Media Enhances; It Can’t Create Something From Nothing
There’s a great deal of social media hype out there- a lot of it baseless. I believe that many social media evangelists are playing on the vulnerabilities that small businesses tend to have, such as limited resources, limited experience, and limited reach.
There is also a physiological component here: many small business owners and self employed professionals don’t fully recognize the value that they have to offer their customers and thus are looking for ways to compensate, to add some extra appeal to their offerings. Social media savvy has somehow become this elusive stamp of competence and quality.
The result is that there is a literal movement of businesses and individuals who are going through a lot of hoops, spending a great deal of time and money, and many are technically making all the “right” moves on social media, yet they ultimately end up unsuccessful. For all the success stories out there, we just can’t push under the rug the thousands and thousands of individuals and small businesses and even big businesses, that were unsuccessful in their social media campaigns- regardless of the platform.
Where are they going wrong? The vast majority of the time, I’ve found that it’s a matter of perspective.
Social media at its core is a medium of communication and information sharing. It canenhance what already exists to build something greater, much like binoculars or a microscope can enhance your sight- it can extend your reach, improve your customer response time and effectiveness, help you learn about your customers, and market trends. But we have to get away from this Social Media God complex. Social media alone cannot do all these things and especially not for free. If you’re blind, don’t bother looking through a pair of binoculars…
It boggles my mind how this message can still be promoted.
To the extent that business use these platforms to merely amplify their message and reach, to the extent that they truly understand what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing in our Internet-based world, and to the extent that they truly try to connect to their customers, to address the actual flesh and blood people behind those social media accounts, online purchases, and survey responses, to that extent they will be successful.
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www.frugalentrepreneur.com has posts and links to some very economical or free resources that can help entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial PM's alike.
Below is a very interesting article that I found written Julie Anne Hoey (ww.projectmanage.com)
If you are a relatively new start up or entrepreneur, you don’t need to worry about implementing project management tactics to your processes yet, right? Wrong. The truth is it’s never too early in a small business to start incorporating project management tactics and methodologies into your workflow and structure…even if it’s just you.
When launching a start up, you’re probably in the process of learning a new product or service, or learning how to market it, promote it, etc. Therefore, implementing proper PM tactics are just as important as in any organization, regardless of how much time it has been around and established. In fact, proper project management techniques used in a new start up can be just as crucial.
Here are some areas where project management techniques have proven most beneficial for start ups:
Link to the article
Entrepreneurs & entrepreneurial PM's share many common traits and often have to do more with less hence any free resource is always a great resource. Below is part of the article and a link to the article from Shane Robinson in Forbes about this.
Skype – If you don’t know Skype by now, crawl out of your hole. Download it on your phone because it’s great for communicating over Wi-Fi and especially for communicating with international contractors when you don’t want long-distance charges.
Dropbox – Great to have on your phone for three reasons: 1) it allows you to access all your business files in the cloud right from your phone (great for meetings if you forget a presentation for example); 2) cloud storage across your phone and computer is a great way to back up all your files; 3) you can share all files in your Dropbox account with any recipient, without having to email them.
Genius Scan – I can’t tell you how much time I used to waste when I first started my business and had to find a Kinkos every time I needed to print, scan and fax documents. This app won’t let you print (obviously), but it will let you take a picture of any document, or string of documents, and then send it to your recipient as a single PDF file, the same way an office scanner would. Another 30-minute trip to Kinkos, or $200 expenditure on a scanner, saved.
Splashtop – Download this app, and you can actually get remote access to your computer, right from your phone.
Smartr – If you’re big on networking and want a good way to remember when you last kept in touch with someone, then this app is like the analytics for your address book. It’s also an all-in-one location to get calendar events and read email, Facebook messages and Tweets from your contacts as well.
Read the complete article
By Megan Strand
When I was first exposed to the basic principles of formal Project Management, I wanted to run screaming. Well, actually, I should clarify. It was really when I purchased and opened the “bible” of formal Project Management, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), that this urge to flee came over me. The PMBOK (pronounced PIM-bock) starts out simply enough, “A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” and then quickly takes a 180 degree turn into the world of overwhelm and mind-numbing tedium.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m a person who loves my projects. I mean, I really, really love my projects. Mention something that even remotely smells like a project to be managed, I’m taking a giant step forward to volunteer. My entire professional career I’ve spent managing some type of project or another. I think it goes back to the definition of a project – “a temporary endeavor”, and back to my passion about creativity. Because there is a defined start and end with parameters to delineate the desired outcome, I’m free to be creative about how that outcome is accomplished. I love putting all the pieces together in just the right place to complete that puzzle in the end. And, quite frankly, I love that there is an end. I need that sense of completion and closure so I can move on to my next puzzle.
So when I first opened the PMBOK, I was incredibly disappointed and confused. How could this book, this book about projects be so…so…boring?
Again, it goes back to the parameters. Whereas I enjoy working within general parameters, the “science” of Project Management was developed to put a heck of a lot more infrastructure underneath those general parameters. They call them “processes”. And there are many, many, many of them. Processes to explain how to do a process.
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Small business owners are on the forefront of entrepreneurship and hence I thought sharing this very useful article by by Nina Anthony would help small business owners and managers.
Task Management Tools:
Remember the Milk With this free tool, you can manage tasks from anywhere – via your desktop, your phone, etc. And it integrates with your Google Calendar
Evernote is a web-based application that allows you to save your ideas and inspiration. You can record a message, write a note, clip an article or take a picture. It integrates with the iPhone and Android, allowing you to capture your best thoughts on the go.
Zotero is an easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It promotes itself as being the only research tool that automatically senses content. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages to your library and Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of into a single easily searchable interface.
Doodle lets you easily schedule and coordinate meetings and other appointments, free of charge and without registration.
Invoicing and Financial Management Tools:
Wave is a 100% free (not just a free trial version) accounting app made for small business owners and freelancers. This free alternative to applications like Quickbooks, allows you to create and send professional invoices, track expenses, create reports, and eliminate accounting headaches. Wave was built for non-accountants so it’s super simple to use. But it also includes the kind of tools that you’d expect to pay to use. It’s real double-entry accounting, features bank-caliber 256-bit encryption and security ; there are no usage limits, it integrates with FreshBooks and offers free support and automatic backup. By connecting with your online bank and credit card accounts (optional), you can eliminate hours of tedious manual data entry: your transactions are updated while you sleep, so you’re always up to date. I signed up for this after researching apps for this post!
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by Kashmir Hill
1. Password protect your devices.
2. Put a Google Alert on your name.
3. Sign out of Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc. when you’re done with your emailing, social networking, tweeting, and other forms of time-wasting.
4. Don’t give out your email address, phone number, or zip code when asked.
5. Encrypt your computer.
6. Gmailers, turn on 2-step authentication in Gmail.
7. Pay in cash for embarrassing items.
8. Change Your Facebook settings to “Friends Only.”
9. Clear your browser history and cookies on a regular basis.
10. Use an IP masker.
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