Tag Archives: business

Business in Cornwall: Networking opportunity

It struck me one morning over a breakfast meeting that all successful businesses have a community built around them. It wasn’t a huge revelation, I’ve been aware of the power of a community for a very long time, but this was a “light bulb” moment for a particular nut I was trying to crack.

So I had moved location, back to Cornwall, back to the land of legend, the land of my family, the beautiful county of childhood memories, and I had taken my business with me. Sure I had clients in “the smoke” still, but I was now actively networking locally to generate clients.

Whilst popping in and out of these networks, breakfast meetings, and what not, it struck me that what I needed to do was to create my own network. Creating my own network would yield a variety of benefits such as:

  • business friends
  • leads & potentials, referrals
  • a sales funnel
  • a place to sing loudly about my clients
  • advertising opportunities
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY a talent rich network, where skills and services can be linked.

I looked around at what others were doing in the space, who was building a network offering businesses the type of things I can offer. Who was genuinely adding value to businesses, and who was doing it well? Who was offering modern networking, with a joined up virtual service.

Nobody. – I’ve not seen it yet, so I’m building it.

It’s called the Cornwall Trade Network.

The Best Business Book In 20 Years?

This is what I would call ‘simple genius’ – you what Chris, gushing at something? umm yes I am!

Every now and then a book is written which changes the game.

The author of the book in question charts the precise journey he took to go from working 80-100 work weeks (for 15 years) down to just 2 hours.

That may be interesting and inspiring but how does it affect YOU?

The breakthrough with this particular book is that it details a step-by-step, universally applicable blueprint which any business owner, running any type of business, can implement. I mean I’ve read the e-myth which is also excellent, but this one is altogether on the money!

It sounds like a bold claim and you’d be forgiven for being skeptical!

However, this guy has amassed literally hundreds of profoundly enticing and eminently credible case studies and testimonials spanning all manner of businesses from real estate management companies to retailers and from marketing agencies to landscape designers.

In other words, finally, someone appears to have come up with a blueprint which ANY business owner can implement to radically change the way they work (and live).

His solution is elegant and simple, requires a little ‘heavy-lifting’ for a short period of time and is being hailed by business leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world as the ‘holy grail formula for working less and earning more’.

For a short period of time you can download the entire brand new PDF book and the audiobook by clicking here, I’ve the hard back and I have to say it’s bloody brilliant, and I mean brilliant, really taps into my inner engineering mindset.

If you do anything this year, read this. It’s a game-changer, I mean that honestly too.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below, I’m putting it into practice myself so would love some friends along for the ride too!

Can Virtual Assistants Make Sausage Rolls

So I’ve been asking twitter about virtual assistants, the type of people who work remotely on very specific tasks that take away the pain. Perhaps I jest when I say pain, though I’m not sure I do really. When you’re juggling multiple projects it really does make sense to call on additional help in order to free up precious time. I have used VAs on a variety of projects and when you think about it it makes a great deal of sense. It makes sense for a number of reasons the main ones really are that you get some specialism along with a guaranteed output specific to your brief at your deadline.

I really do believe that as a business grows it is fundamentally important that you can begin to delegate the technical aspects of particular roles and this is where I find the VAs very useful. So I’m not talking about a virtual assistant that processes all of my communications, emails and handles telephone calls.

No, what I’m talking about is outsourcing very specific tasks. Tasks that can be done remotely by somebody other than myself, and most importantly, at a lower cost than my own consultancy time.

Let’s say that my business is making sausage rolls, of course it isn’t, but let’s use that as an example. For me to run a successful sausage roll making business I need to start by making delicious sausage rolls. I also need to make sure I can market my sausage rolls, have quality assurance in place, actually sell them to people and somehow package them. I’d also need to be able to do the accounts and ensure that my premises is clean and tidy and serviceable. So once I know how to do all of the specific tasks I can find an employee for each specific task. A maker, a seller, a cleaner, an accountant etc. The point is that once I know what the actual task is I can simply find somebody suitable for that very specific task.

Of course in a bricks and mortar business like sausage roll making this is called employing people. In the virtual world, which is where my business operates, I can utilise virtual assistants, or if you like, outsourced employees.

I mean this isn’t rocket science, I’ve been using outsourced experts for many years and my choice usually comes down to a few key things.

1. Cost (Mumbai is cheaper than London, Boston may also be)
2. Efficiency (if I’m paying for 1 hour of work I expect quite a lot of return for that)
3. Ability to understand my brief without unnecessary thinking on their part (this is what I need please do it in the time I set you) – take a taxi driver, I want to go from A to B – don’t take me to C.
4. Have superior skills to my own -more efficient than me at this task and in many cases have skills I do not process.

These are my four key elements and when VAs have those items covered they usually get my repeat business.

What about you, do you use VAs? Maybe you are one?

Either way post a comment, or share the post.

Delegate Buffet Lunch Menu

This is the type of lunch you will be getting if you come along to Social Media in Business.

DELEGATE BUFFET LUNCH MENU

Cream of tomato and basil soup

Fisherman’s pie with cheesy mash topping

Herbed Portobello mushroom lasagne

Roast leg of Southdown lamb with garlic and rosemary

Selection of seasonal vegetables

Herb roast new potatoes

Pilaf rice

Mixed charcuterie platter

Mixed salad leaves

Coleslaw

Greek salad

Potato and bacon salad

Waldorf salad

A selection of dressings and condiments

An assortment of desserts from our pastry kitchen

Assorted bread and rolls

Freshly brewed coffee or tea

10 Things That Will Aid Your Web Business

These are my 140 characters or less web bizz tips for the week, that I first post on Twitter, then blog here.

Let me know if you want something expanded by leaving a comment.

1. A prospect needs to sense credibility before making a buying decision, credibility is built up overtime, no short cut.

2. Build mechanisms to bring prospects back. Newsletters and free courses work well, so do forums and other interactive social elements.

3. Use persuasive copy which reinforces the user benefits, not how great you or product is. How will your product benefit a persons life?

4. Get a dedicated IP, forget shared hosting. Make sure your ISP gives you an IP address which is not appearing on blacklists or such.

5. Build own email lists, social media sites are good but you need your OWN, with your own privacy policy in place, own your data.

6. Check your site load speed, if it is less that ultra rapid you will be loosing surfers period.

7. Have more text than pretty pictures, search engines can’t understand pretty pictures, but they love text, like a hungry pac man.

8. Actively seek out in-bound links, make it part of your weekly routine, ensure the target keyword phrase is in the anchor text.

9. Don’t waste your time with time wasters, are you here to work or fuck about?

10. Publish content daily ensuring that the url, title and H1 are the keywords you are targeting.

Stay tuned for more tips, you can always subscribe to my feed with your email address, put it in the wee box on the right.

LinkedIn Clean Up Mailing List

A friend Shani Lee asked me directly today “How do you use LinkedIn? What do you see as the benefits?”

So here are 10 of them:

1. LinkedIn is considered a “business” network, that is to say, formal and corporate to some extent, the platform has kudos in that world, it is considered a “serious” medium for networking.
2. LinkedIn allows me to obtain recommendations for my work, which is then laid out professionally on my profile.
3. LinkedIn allows me to “clean-up” a mailing list (see below)
4. LinkedIn is low maintenance, I need very little time to devote to it.
5. LinkedIn allows me to export my contacts for use in other applications.
6. LinkedIn opens me up to a very large network (only work related), some of whom are seeking my services, or my recommendation of another person.
7. LinkedIn has no “social clutter” or annoying applications.
8. LinkedIn enables me to seek opinion in a business context quickly.
9. LinkedIn can be the first line in “breaking the ice” on a new contact
10. LinkedIn is a CV in a URL

One of my favourite aspects is number 3, where I can “clean-up” a mailing list. I’ve worked online in various capacities for about 10 years and one of the things I have always done (you should too) is to build up your mailing lists. I have built a mailing list for almost every project I have been involved with, this is essential as that’s the method for pulling them back to your content time and time again. I probably have around 100,000 email addresses in one form or another I’ve collected over the years.

LinkedIn then, allows me to import a list of contents and will find out if any of those email addresses are LinkedIn users. This is brilliant as I can friend a contact (stating how we contacted each other initially) and I can then export a clean fresh list for other purposes.

How do you use LinkedIn yourself, what have I missed here?

Gmail Tip Username + Whatever

Gmail Tip

You might not be aware of this (I wasn’t until recently).

You can use your gmail username with a + after it with absolutely anything and you’ll still get the email.

You what?

Yep, for example my username is “chambly”, so I could let’s say use chambly+disposable@gmail.com and I’d still get the email.

Or chambly+yahoosignup@gmail.com and I’d get the email still.

Why is this so cool?

Well you can use different combinations for different contacts you may meet, say +business, +friends, or say +spam if you want to sign up to a site but fear spam. You can then set up filters in gmail to filter your mail based on the +whatever, keeping you very organised and your precious username lean.

I love that tip, think it’s handy yourself?

The RIAA are Pissing Into The Wind

This passed week has been an absolute milestone for the music business in a bad way, well actually it’s a milestone for music and musicians in a positive way, once fully embraced. I would also argue that progressive record companies, with appropriate visionaries at the top could do very well also.

A report written by Michael Arrington published on TechCrunch called The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free basically paints a very gloomy picture for the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) and indeed many music Industry bodies.

In the article, using the laws of economics, the discussion is how the value of music (in the sense of a physical entity) will drop to a value of zero.

Nada, zero, free…

That is music will cost you nothing…in the sense of getting a version of it.

In the same week we saw RadioHead offering their newly created album for free, well actually that’s not technically correct, they have offered the album to be purchased on YOUR grounds, YOU are able to decide what you wish to donate/pay for an mp3 copy of the album. Incidentally I grabbed a copy myself and paid 5 quid.

Probably the first time in a long time I have personally bought a digital clone of music, and aside from buying it to make a point, it is actually a cracking album, which I’m listening to as I write this.

Digital Clone?

Yes digital clone is exactly what you are buying, possibly stealing, obtaining from a peer to peer (p2p) network, sent from friends, gleaned at a LAN party. However, you are not technically stealing anything nor copying, you are actually cloning information, which is the point in this argument, the clone reproduction costs nothing, hence the drop in the value of music distribution.

Distribution version

The other thing to mention here, and something which some people miss, is that they are giving away the mp3 version of the album. Now I don’t know about you, but I think mp3 sound sucks major ass. Ok so I have audio engineer ears and I work with mp3s every day and continually publish mp3s, but let’s remember the full story here.

The average mp3 has a significant reduction in quality when you compare that to what comes out of the recording studio and onto a 16bit CD. And beyond comparison when discussing DVD audio and other higher sampling and bit rate formats. Yes, mp3 are handy for distributing around the net, and putting on your izunepodriver but they ain’t the “Full Monty”.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well of course Tom York of RadioHead knows full well that he can release his limited edition box-set in a month or two just before xmas, which will contain the “Full Monty”, along with tidy artwork and other bits and piece of merchandise at a whopping 20 quid! – very nice work if you can get it.

Many people still hold dearly the notion of owning something tangible, and of high quality, and people will continue to pay for that. Some people love the tangibility of a signed CD, a limited t-shirt. I have no doubts RadioHead will shift buckets loads of the special box-set, especially during the xmas lead-in, smart marketing indeed.

Of course the other thing that nobody is mentioning is that RadioHead gain LOTS of money for their mp3s which to be honest anyone will be able to get within hours on a p2p network anyway!

RIAA Bastards

Now in the same week, I have been really upset and shocked at the paranoid behaviour of the RIAA who have come down incredibly hard on the single mother caught file-sharing with her mates. Now I know full well that YOU (if I consider a cross section of my readers here and do a rough hands-in-the-air count for an average) have done the same. In fact in this very week I carried out three separate polls each with about 30 students in a room, and guess what? .. around 98% have downloaded music in what possibly could be construed as illegally.

It’s not surprising then that certain formats of music distribution are destined to become free. And it is with this knowledge that the RIAA are fully aware of and carried out a shocking public shaming campaign on one poor woman.

Truth is, the “war is over” as Todd Wachtel mentions. There is no battle anymore, the industry so called “experts” are frankly “pissing into the wind” and getting seriously wet, and the longer they fight against the tide the more mistrust they invoke in us mere mortals, they are not building bridges here in order to embrace the new mechanisms and emerging model.

Days after the RadioHead news Oasis and Nine Inch Nails have also stated their intention to give away their newest work thus fueling the fire to the inevitable. Personally I can see these acts doing well out of enticing more listeners to buy tickets to large concerts, thus in essence not loosing money but gaining a wider audience.

The music as an mp3 is the new banner ad, the new vehicle for viral marketing…..

Embrace and gain

I’ve heard many voices with tones of fear, mainly from musicians about lost revenue, mostly from so called “struggling” artists, but, really? I mean really?

As an artist surely the point is about getting as many people as possible to listen to your music, surely that is exactly what it is about isn’t it? It is about building a fan base and buzz, so isn’t giving your music away for free and encouraging copying/cloning and distribution, actually a good thing?

What are you concerned with then, making money?

As an artist there are countless way to re-coup money, so many I’ll save them for a future blog post, but all that is required is a slightly different mind-set on how you build your audience and what you offer in terms of merchandise.

As my friend Rich Palmer says “Why chain yourself to the old model when there are successful new systems coming into place?”.

Nobody is actually saying they do not value music, they do, I do, I’m a musician! But the voices are saying, share it with us and we’ll tell all our friends and probably come and see you live and probably buy a t-shirt maybe even a box-set with some shwag in to hang on the wall..

And of course I’ve not even mentioned mainstream play-out and royalties, which do not seem to be going away, I can’t see that happening in the short term either. Of course this is exactly why the PRS want a piece of the pie regarding netcasts and internet radio, they see it coming.

Are you pissing into the wind, what do you feel about all this?

A big thanks to the Music Technology Facebook soliders who inspired some of my words here, thanks.

UPDATE: This link just came in: Madonna ditches traditional record label

UPDATE: Month Old, thanks to Ben for sending: What’s the future of the music industry