Friday, 27 January 2012

"The Marketing Toolkit" book review by Biz Skills 2000

Marketing is such a key subject for the success of a small business that I would recommend spending any spare time you have (And yep, I do know we’re all busy people) researching and reading up on this topic. Put simply, if you don’t market your products well enough, you’ve got no sales, no revenue and no business.

Starting this introduction again, I should in fact be strongly recommending that you make time to find out about marketing for the long term good of your business - it really is that crucial.

Anyway, I recently came across a good book on marketing which I’ve found very useful. Marketing is a very broad subject, so if you’re still finding your way around and are a bit hazy about what to do next, then let me recommend “The Marketing Toolkit” by Jeff Della Mura.

Jeff’s book sets out to cover all aspects of the marketing spectrum in fifty bite-sized chunks. With much use of bullet points, simple explanations and real world examples I found this book relaxing to read, easy to understand and very clearly laid out. It’s very straightforward to find the topic you’re looking for and Jeff tries hard to link you from the topic you’re actually reading to other connected topics elsewhere in the book.

While the book covers all the fundamentals of marketing (like branding; advertising; wise words and sales literature; internet marketing and website design; communication and customer satisfaction) the book is carefully designed to show you the links between related components within any and all of these fundamentals in a building-it-brick-by-brick style. This greatly helps you to avoid overlooking something important that you realise you should have done when its far too late to stop the launch of your new marketing campaign.

One thing you need to know about this book is that its more of an “ideas book” than a “copy me” book. What I mean is that its a superb checklist of what you could be doing but you then have to read up somewhere else about the detail of how to do it. (Please take a look at my website for home study courses and free factsheets on marketing skills.)

To summarise then, I would rate “The Marketing Toolkit” by Jeff Della Mura as an excellent “dip in - dip out”  reference book at an affordable cover price of £9.99 when first published in 2009 - but see the advert nearby for the best price currently available on Amazon.

I always look forward to picking up “The Marketing Toolkit” every couple of months and just browsing through it. I always put it back down later on having found another great idea for my business, and so will you. Recommended.

  • “The Marketing Toolkit” by Jeff Della Mura. Published by “How To Books”, Oxford 2009 ISBN 978 1 84528 285 1

Thursday, 26 January 2012

How to Start a Green Business


Indeed, "going green" is the big news anywhere these days. You can see it in people's faces; feel the excitement in the air. Yet everyone seems to have a hard time buying into the idea. To attract more prospects, most of today's successful green companies are focusing on other great benefits they can provide to their clients. You should too. This article will provide a great insight on how to start a green business. But before I go into the details of how to start a green business, I want to emphatically state that the information provided in this article does not in any way replace the need for you to conduct a feasibility study, write a business plan and do your own due diligence. Secondly, the information shared in this article is applicable to any locality; be it USA, Canada, UK, Nigeria, Ghana, etc.
Now when it comes to starting a green business, you have to understand that even if you have this noble "going green" idea inside you, the market appeal may not be enough as of the moment. But as the awareness of the need to preserve the ecosystem increases; consumers may likely switch over if you offer them other benefits such as cost saving features, or greater convenience and additional health benefits. Entrepreneurs keen on learning how to start a green business must understand the "green" appeal alone will not be enough; they have to offer other choices and benefits to convince their markets.
Whatever the case may be; customers still and will always want a good deal. To help save the environment may be a good rallying call, but economics still proves to be heavier down on people's pockets. Everything still boils down to the price factor; so you must take your cost into consideration before starting a green business. Without wasting your time, below are more tips on how to start a green business.
How to start a green business
1. Select your own niche
The business opportunities in the "going green" niche are enormous, and will continue to be because environment preservation has become the main calling in everyone's heart. With this trend, you can be certain to find a niche to satisfy.
2. Be an example
Of course, everything starts with you believing in your green products and allowing them to make changes in your life and business for the better. Whenever people notice your dedication to the earth-friendly lifestyle, they will be inclined to trust you and your ideas. This will also make you an expert in the field. Having a green attitude will reflect well on what your business is trying to promote.
3. Educate your potential customers
Consumers, especially those who are just new to the "green" idea are basically hungry for knowledge. They need to be sold on the idea of incorporating the use of green products in their daily lives. If you have done your homework and research, then you will be considered among their best sources for knowledge. You will also find yourself effectively able to communicate and interact with your customers well.
4. Know your best marketers
To better get a grip on the intricacies of starting a green business, you must understand the logic behind the idea of your customers becoming your best marketers at the same time. Green products is something that people discuss with fervor and enthusiasm these days, something that gives them hope from all these modern-day troubles we are facing. If you sell your customers on the idea of a healthier life, and they go home happy, then you can expect them to share the good news to their friends.
As a final note, I want to encourage you to keep your plans to start a green business alive because there's money to be made in that niche. All you need to do is to learn how things work in the green business industry. Think of all the knowledge acquired as a strong foundation for your green business.
And just before I drop my pen, I am giving you a once in a lifetime opportunity to download my Master List of Best Startup Business ideas and learn How to Make a Million Dollars Fast in less than a year.
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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Startup Business Urban Myths Exposed


Starting a business is the most exciting venture for every aspiring entrepreneur. Dreaming of being a boss, and thinking how wonderful it is to get paid for doing something they love, is what makes this venture attractive. For the entrepreneur, starting a business allows one to enjoy the rewards of being an owner. Unfortunately, when it is time to act, many make excuses not to start a business. Most excuses are myths that prevent them from taking the leap. This article will debunk several myths that discourage the aspiring entrepreneur from starting a business.
Myth 1: A great idea is necessary
Many entrepreneurs waste time chasing a great idea before they start their business. The reality is those who are successful begin with a simple idea. What matters most is how to execute the idea.
Myth 2: Starting a business is too risky
Those who have failed in their past ventures perpetuate this myth. Today, a prospective entrepreneur has access to more information and resources. All this helps to reduce risks in starting a business. Additionally, the budding entrepreneur has realistic expectations, and this is reflected in their projected budgets.
Myth 3: Business plan details
A detailed business plan is necessary to obtain a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist. If you are just starting out, write a simple business plan, and concentrate more on developing your product and marketing them as soon as possible.
Myth 4: A website will bring customers
Today, having a website is not enough to bring customers. An aspiring entrepreneur needs to be proactive and meet their target customers in places where they congregate, such as on Facebook, Twitter or on forums. The social media networks are perfect promotional tools.
Myth 5: Owning a business gives me freedom
Starting a business is the most critical part of being an entrepreneur. By necessity, the owner wears many hats. Only when the business is well established and making a profit, will the owner be able to hire employees and delegate tasks.
Myth 6: You need an MBA
A business degree is not a guarantee for success. Additionally, getting a business degree will give the entrepreneur more options to work with companies at a lucrative salary.
Myth 7: Starting a business is a lonely activity
Today's business is based on interacting with customers through blogs and social media. Additionally, an aspiring entrepreneur is also able to connect to other business owners globally through online forums.
All these myths are false alarms to discourage an aspiring entrepreneur from starting a business. Now that these myths have been debunked, they should not be seen as obstacles or excuses from starting a business - start your business and good luck!
Aon Hewitt are the international leader in human capital consulting, pension auto enrolment and can help if you need employee benefits consulting learn more at
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Which Area Is Keeping You From Getting Clients?


One of the things that keeps us from moving forward in our businesses is our inability to get clients. You may be thinking, of course that is the key to building out a successful business, but it doesn't answer the questions as to how you go about getting them.
The truth is, getting clients is super easy, when you are 100% aligned behind what you offer and understand your audience enough to know where they hang out and how to get their attention. Makes sense right? Well then why is it that you are still struggling or worried about the how? It most likely lies in one of the key areas I just mentioned. Did you miss them?? Well let me break it down and review them 1 by 1. 
  1. 100% Aligned with Your Offer: If you don't believe that what you are providing is worth at a minimum what your charging, chances are you are dragging your feet and not promoting with gusto. You might be pretending to promote, but if you look closely, you are probably just doing busy work or distracting from the real conversations/marketing and then complaining about their not being any customers who are willing to buy. There are a few things to do in order to rectify this situation, but start with listing out your fears - what are you truly afraid of? Success? Failure? What specifically is holding you back? Get the answer to this and work through it, promoting and marketing become super easy.
  2. Understanding Your Audience: Understanding how your audience thinks, what they feel they need and truly SPEAKING their language is the holy grail of business. When you can talk to them in a way that resonates, they are more likely to buy from you even if you aren't doing too much talking/marketing. How do you know if you are speaking to your audience in a way that resonates? Go find where they hang out and talk to them live. If you see lots of nodding heads and requests to know more - you are on the right path! If not, I suggest you ask to interview them for market research purposes and get in their own words, their frustrations and ambitions as they relate to what you do/provide. Once you have this information use their words to talk about your products or services and see what happens.
  3. Knowing Where Your Audience "Hangs Out": Finding your audience is truly easy once you know who they are and you begin talking to them. So if you are still struggling in finding them, then it is because you have not clearly defined who they are. And if you haven't defined who they are clearly enough - then you probably are struggling with point number 2 as well. If this is the case, then go back and redefine who your ideal client is. I often recommend writing out a bio of the ideal client known as the ideal client avatar. Once you have clearly articulated who that person is, then find an 80% match to the bio you have created. Interview them as I suggested in point number 2 and you'll be well on your way!
Take time to assess where you are struggling based on the 3 points above. Then take a moment to create your very own plan of action to help you move forward. Going through this exercise will help you determine the quickest wins towards growing your business.
Silvia Johnson is a Coach and Consultant in the Silicon Valley with more than 10 years of experience. Silvia has a proven track record of helping organizations and people remove obstacles in order to help them in becoming highly effective and efficient. You can learn more about her experience and services on her website:

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

5 Critical Rules For Naming A Business


1. Make it Unique
Your business name should be unique and not easily confused with other names. You don't want your clients to confuse you with other similar companies. Word of mouth is the most successful, and common, method of marketing. When people talk about your company they often will not be giving out your phone number, address, or website domain name. Make sure that when people talk about your business there is no confusion as to if they are talking about another company.
2. Make it Memorable
Memorable and unique are not the same thing. Your business name should not only be unique but it should also be easily remembered when shared with others. You want your clients to have your business name on the tip of their tongue when telling others about your company. When people hear your business name, by word of mouth, you want to make sure they remember the name without needing to write it down. This is why rhyming and play-on-words is so common in business naming.
3. Make it Descriptive
Don't overlook how important it is that customers can tell what your product or service is just from your name. You should at least hint at the industry your business is in. You want people to feel confident when they approach your company for service. Two examples seen recently of poorly described business names are "Versatile Ambiance" and "Vera Bird." Neither of these names gives a potential client any confidence in doing business with them.
4. Make it Easy to Spell
Funky names can be fun, but they can be hard to share through word of mouth. Although some brands have found success with misspelled or complexly spelled names, in general, it takes more marketing power to get traction with names that are not easy to spell. Avoid hard to pronounce names for the same reasons. Starting a business has enough hurdles and obstacles, don't give yourself more by creating a complex name that nobody can spell.
5. Use Naming Tools
Let's admit it, you're not very creative, but other people are. Entrepreneurs are now turning to crowdsourcing to help name their businesses. Crowdsourcing is the practice of using the public to solve a task normally solved by an agency. On crowdsourcing naming sites the public can help name your business through a contest. You can normally get hundreds to thousands of name suggestions through crowdsourced business contests.
Wes Cutshall is a serial entrepreneur and business namer. He is the CEO of Naming Force, a business naming website.

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

10 ways to listen, lead and succeed

By Ann Skidmore of the Entrepreneurs Business Academy

As a corporate coach I have worked with many leaders, but the person who inspired me the most worked in the airport industry and took a “back to the floor” approach.
From time to time he would roll up his sleeves to get stuck in, in every department: washing dishes in the cafes, handling baggage and so on. In finding time to show people that he appreciated them, and to find their concerns, he was saying: “I want to understand what you do – because what you do counts.”
No matter how big or how junior the role, everyone on the team should feel they share a vision and should know that they are valued. A strong leader does more than motivate; he or she drives the team culture, while also encouraging the team to be fully accountable and responsible for achieving their common goal.
A good leader knows they can’t achieve everything on their own. Fabulous teams have a sense of purpose and understand their objectives.
Managing and leading people is highly rewarding when you have the tools to do it well, but most people learn as they go along, and some fall by the wayside, losing confidence in the process. So much about leadership is about managing team dynamics – and power dynamics.
When you have several people in the same room, each representing the interests of their own department – marketing, finance, etc – there will be times when there are clashes and unhelpful behaviour. Instead of the leader, someone else within the team holds the power, and is diverting attention to dampening the energy.
If something happens in a meeting to prevent co-operation, it must also be happening on a daily basis.
An effective leader will listen and help individuals to respect each other and work together as a fully functioning team. The leader (perhaps with the help of a coach) needs to ensure there is a strategy of action put in place so that he or she and the team commit to changing unhelpful behaviour.
We are all leaders in some aspect of our lives – the key is to get help in acquiring the key skills that enable us to lead effectively.
A team becomes successful when the business leader:
1. Has a sense of purpose and encourages a common vision. A team takes its cue from the attitude and behaviour of the person who leads them.
2. Communicates openly and honestly – and is authentic in approach. This is the boss who says: “Good morning, how are you today?” and means it, rather tahn rushing through the office with a curt “Morning” on the way to a meeting.
3. Makes sure body language echoes their intentions. There is no point in saying to a team member: “I can give you all the time you need”, if you signal the opposite message by constantly checking your watch.
4. Clearly defines roles and responsibilities and encourages support and trust within the team.
5. Conducts effective meetings, where everyone can contribute - by taking clear decisions but making time to listen to others’ points of view.
6. Encourages tolerance of others’ differences and constructive resolution of conflict – by encouraging a culture of personal responsibility rather than a culture of blame.
7. Reviews results and working practices, while encouraging a sense of pride in personal achievements. Take time to celebrate scaling the first mountain before climbing the next one.
8. Remains self-aware. Being mindful of the impact he or she has on others and maintaining a flexible approach.
9. Respects and co-operates with others inside and outside the organisation. In a small business, every relationship within the network counts. You are only ever as strong as your weakest link.
10. Leads by example. Where the leader leads, others will follow