Monthly Archives: December 2005

Floating Funds… Fun for who?

So big corporations withhold money from each of their employees checks for taxes. They find some way to pay the money to government either quarterly or in one lump sum at the end of the year. So what happens with the money while it’s waiting to be paid for the taxes it was drawn for?

Chances are pretty good the money is being re-invested some type of maretable security making 10-12%. I’d imagine that some corporations give a share of it back in the form of a Christmas or performance bonus, or maybe they use it to fund their 401K and other benefit packages. I bet that a lot of places with low paying labor, (Fastfood joints, janitorial companies etc. simply keep it).

I’d be interested to see what really happens to that money.

Cutting outside of the pie.

Are internet sales a fixed pie? Is there really only a certain amount of dollars that are spent on the internet that somehow need to be divided among the millions of online retailers?

While it may be a hard argument to win, I would suggest that it is possible to get first-time online shoppers to buy from your online store. The growth is small and takes a lot of work, (especially for online sales), but I believe it’s possible.

My dad is pretty anti-internet purchasing, but last year when I started my first online retail company, I simply assured him of the security of the site and let him know that it was the cheapest product on the internet. He bought 4 bottles. Now I know that it’s kinda like he was doing a favor, but the same thing can happen, even if you don’t own the site, but you promote a way for people to invest in the sales of the company. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not screaming to start an MLM or ponzi scheme, I’m just saying integrate some direct sales promotions for your existing customer base can enlarge the pie a little bit. :)

Spam: Enough to lose your appetite.

So I got blasted with a bunch of spam on my blog over the weekend. How irritating. As I was cleaning it up, I thought to myself, “Why do people spam?” My realist self quickly responded, “Because it must work.”

Spamming is on the rise. Like any growing industry, there must be something to it. Cnet has a great article about spam statistics and trends that pretty much identifies it as a problem that is not going away any time soon.

There is something very tempting about spam, (making it, that is). The old saying, “Any press is good press,” has some merit, even in spam-ridden circumstances. The advertising laboratory at Brigham Young University has compiled some research for one of my companies that sells local music for independent artists. The research they did showed that our website had less than a 5% brand recognition among our target demographic. Their research went on to indicate that over 50% of our target market would look at the website if they even knew it existed and 40% of those said they would buy music if they found music they liked while they were there… Clearly for this company it would be helpful if people just knew we existed.

Regardless of those statistics however, I hate is anti-spam and we are working hard to put together brilliant and legitimate ways to increase our organic traffic and brand recognition.

In the mean time, I’m looking for ways to reduce spam on my blog, but not require a registered login to leave comments. Any suggestions?

Finding “The Balance”

The other day a young friend of mine called me up and asked, “John, with all of the work and time and travel it can take to start your own businesses, how do you find time for your family?” My first response was to ask him how many people had a steady 9 to 5 job but still didn’t seem to have time to build lasting relationships with their family? That type of response is a fallacy and merely distracts from the bigger question. How does an entrepreneur balance all of the priorities in his/her life, without making unnecessary or destructive sacrifices? How does an entrepreneur maintain a balanced perspective of what matters most?

I have asked a lot of financially successful people this question. I would say that by far the majority of people I ask this question respond to me that they didn’t know, but they sure wished they had spent more time on “what matters most”. That response is usually followed up with some comment that with the time and money they have freed up in their older age, they are really able to “enjoy” time with their family and those things that bring them happiness.

I’m a firm believer that a strong foundation on unchanging principles is the basis for happiness and balance in life. I am also a believer that is a serious process. It takes time, energy and humility to pursue that process. In fact, I believe that it is the honest pursuit of those principles that brings us into that balance.

I believe that ‘balance’ in the sense of life and principles is by no means a static state. Rather, it is the constant interaction and almost centrifugal state. –Kinda like a gyro or spinning bicycle wheel. The only way to keep it ‘balanced’ is to keep it spinning.

In other words there is really no rest from finding that balance. It takes time, study, teachability and constant application.

There are a lot of books I have regarding relationships and time management etc. By far, one of my favorites that I feel offers a clear understanding of the components to balance priorities is Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Honestly, if you haven’t read it. Read it.

If you have any suggestions of good books for me regarding finding the balance of life. Suggest it. I’m all ears.

Finding your network…

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” certainly carries some weight in the world. It’s not everything, but it is certainly a key component of opportunity. Networking and the exchange/sharing ideas and information is undoubtedly one of the most valuable efforts for any entrepreneur. I whole heartedly subscribe to the Tim Sanders concept of sharing networks and ideas as freely as possible. (I recommend his book “Love is the Killer App“-although I feel it may have a few twists a little more liberal than I could fully endorse).

Although I personally subscribe to some online communities, (such asLinked In) I still believe there is no substitute for the good old fashioned introduction. If I read an article about a successful entrepreneur, or I have an idea that I would like to bounce off someone whom I know is successful in a certain field pertaining to a business idea I might have, I call them up or send them an email. Most successful entrepreneurs that I have met this way are happy to share a brief moment of their time to help out a fellow pioneer, (within reason of course).

A quick email is certainly the least risky way, but every now and again I may wish to contact someone directly by phone. (I have found thatZaba Search almost without fail has the contact information I need to call someone). If I feel the idea or question I have would be worth someone’s time, sometimes I’ll just give ‘em a call. Not everyone is eager to meet up, but most people can spare a lunch time to share ideas.

I’ve learned you just never know what’s going to come next and if an opportunity comes up that I can’t take advantage of, I’m more than happy to pass it along to someone else in my network of friends and fellow entrepreneurs.

Cingular Ctinks

I was a customer of AT&T wireless before they were purchased by Cingular last year. As an independent contractor and a small business owner, I loved the service and didn’t mind recommending it to partners and employees. AT&T was a great provider and I was able to get a mountain of promotional minutes through their different rate plans. After Cingular bought out the company however, they eliminated my ability to check out the minutes used up in my promotional plan with ATT. So, I still had a great plan, but no way to measure whether or not I went over my minutes.

Well as you can expect I went over my minutes. I called and complained because I didn’t think it was fair that I couldn’t see the minutes I used… they told me to go fish on any refunds of the overage charges, but if I wanted to see what minutes I had used I had to change over to their GSM technology phones. Well, that would have been great, except that at the time their GSM service was terrible in my area, and was extremely unreliable.

Long story made short, it happened again, only this time I went way over. I had no idea how many minutes I was using and I got hit pretty bad. The tragedy is that I couldn’t see my minutes. I didn’t have this problem with ATT Wireless. When I called Cingular, again they were gracious enough to reduce the overage charges by a third, (as a one-time courtesy, they said), but they added that there was no way to measure my minutes. They told me I had to switch to GSM. Now their GSM service is better but is still very unreliable in my area.

Now, I’m not the type of guy to sue someone. As a matter of fact, I am quite repulsed by the idea, however for a company that creates as much profit as Cingular to treat its customers with what I consider to be pretty manipulative tactics, I feel is really wrong. Apparantly Paul Weiss of Freed and Weiss felt that it was potentially of class action gravity. (His firm is the same one that won the suit against Hollywood Video for false late charges… click here to read about that). It’s only available through an idexed page so read it while it’s hot :) Either way, I wrote a letter to Cingular Wireless and I hope to hear back from them that we can resolve this issue quickly. If anyone else had the same thing happen to them, I would encourage them to do the same.

Anyhow, from my personal experience, I’m thinking I’ll probably end with Verizon Wireless for my next service provider.

Losing Page Rank: Just Another Statistic

So after Google’s last big indexing round-up, a number of different sites that I manage in one of my small businesses lost its ranking. I understand that google has reset their algorhythms to try to clean out duplicate content and people who use scraper software, but a lot of legitimate sites seemed to have gotten slapped as well.

There’s a great article about it here for any one that might have suffered a similar fate.

If any one has any ideas of how to avoid showing duplicate content for site terms and policies, please let me know, I’m all ears. Online businesses, entrepreneurs or even basic bloggers will benefit from cleaning up how the bots read their pages.