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The Tech Report

Helping Small Businesses and Organizations Bridge the Digital Divide

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I had the great fortune of spending some time with Ann Convery, who taught me some great tools for maximizing my sales techniques from a public relations perspective. Following are some basic fundamentals followed by an exercise that you can apply to your business with great effect right now!

Fundamental Points

  • The average human attention span is 9 seconds.
  • To achieve powerful influence, you must speak to emotional needs.
  • The results you provide should be dollarized and quantified for maximum effect.
  • The goal of any encounter is to leave your audience hungry and wanting more, because curiosity is the single biggest factor in sales.
  • Remember the Zygarnik Effect: People remember incomplete tasks better than completed ones.
  • Human beings are about pattern recognition, you must effect a pattern interrupt to be effective.
  • Remember that your audience is thinking: What's in it for me?
  • Stop using un-hearable words (jargon, like domain names and search engine optimization). Instead use trigger words.
  • Following are some examples of trigger words:
  • Mother, childhood, baby, family, safe and sound, money, wealth, millionaire, debt and bankruptcy
  • Understand the 12-12-12 rule:
  • 12 feet - you decide who the person is.
  • 12 inches - you make up your mind.
  • 12 words - you write them off.
  • Project the image you want or others will build one for you. 93% of the initial perception is based on appearance.
  • Educating others is a top tier selling tool.
  • For example, if you were a moving company you could write an article about "15 Questions to Ask Your Moving Company"
  • Remember that you are selling money.
  • Don't label yourself... "I am", instead use: I transform, I accelerate, I teach, I discover or I create.
  • Tie what you do to money, love, health or time.
  • Facts tell, but stories sell.
  • If someone already has the service you provide, implant the notion that if they are not flying with you, they are not flying first class.

An Exercise

Take some time to create a statement about your business that speaks directly to the intended customer that is either or both quantified and dollarized.

Here are some examples:

Most people have to work until July until they start making money. I teach people to start making money in 60 days.

I teach people not to use their insurance. I usually save people from $12,000 to $30,000 in the initial meeting. We have already saved our clients over 40 billion dollars in the last 20 years.

I teach people 5 secrets of wealth and cash flow so thay can leverage other people's money and hold on to more of their own.

I can increase your web traffic up to 32% in 60 days.

We just took a company from 4 million to 103 million in 36 months.

This one is not quantified or dollarized, but I like it: They call me when the bank says no.

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ThemBid.com, a service offering free advertising for businesses and makes finding services and products easy for consumers. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ElmerThomas.com.  

Maximizing Your Linkedin.com Profile

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Elmer Thomas Jr.
Linkedin.com has become the online standard for executive level networking. I have found that most networking events that I attend result in a flurry of Linkedin.com invitations afterwards. Linkedin.com is also being used a tool to do reconnaissance on you before meetings and business deals. Therefore, it is important that you have a strong presence there if you are in business. This guide will help make sure you take full advantage of your Linkedin.com profile.

Signing Up

If you have not signed up already, go to Linkedin.com and click on the 'Join Now' button.

Fill out the information completely and accurately on all pages.

Once you confirm your email address, you will be ready for the following steps.

Updating Your Profile

First, click on 'Account & Settings'. Here you will find links to all the items you can update on your profile. Following are some insights for each link that may not be obvious.

Profile Settings: My Profile

Take care when choosing your profile link. This is the link that you will give to others. It links to your Linkedin.com public profile.

Profile Settings: My Profile Photo

This is an important way to make sure that people remember who you are. How many times have you looked through your stack of business cards only to find that you forgot which person belongs to which card?

Profile Settings: Manage Recommendation

Request recommendations for all the positions you have listed. Recommend at least 5 others, more if possible.

Invite Friends

Go to the 'Expand Network' link up at the top right and invite all of your business contacts.  I also suggest that you invite business contacts that you meet at networking events.

Remember, your profile may often be the first thing people see, and form their impressions, about you. Take this into consideration throughout the entire process.

After you have done all of these things, I suggest that you read through Guy Kawasaki's suggestions and further refine your profile.

Tech Talk

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By Elmer Thomas Jr.

 

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Elmer Thomas Jr.
Linkedin.com has become the online standard for executive level networking. I have found that most networking events that I attend result in a flurry of Linkedin.com invitations afterwards. Linkedin.com is also being used a tool to do reconnaissance on you before meetings and business deals. Therefore, it is important that you have a strong presence there if you are in business. This guide will help make sure you take full advantage of your Linkedin.com profile.

Signing Up

If you have not signed up already, go to Linkedin.com and click on the 'Join Now' button.

Fill out the information completely and accurately on all pages.

Once you confirm your email address, you will be ready for the following steps.

Updating Your Profile

First, click on 'Account & Settings'. Here you will find links to all the items you can update on your profile. Following are some insights for each link that may not be obvious.

Profile Settings: My Profile

Take care when choosing your profile link. This is the link that you will give to others. It links to your Linkedin.com public profile.

Profile Settings: My Profile Photo

This is an important way to make sure that people remember who you are. How many times have you looked through your stack of business cards only to find that you forgot which person belongs to which card?

Profile Settings: Manage Recommendation

Request recommendations for all the positions you have listed. Recommend at least 5 others, more if possible.

Invite Friends

Go to the 'Expand Network' link up at the top right and invite all of your business contacts.  I also suggest that you invite business contacts that you meet at networking events.

Remember, your profile may often be the first thing people see, and form their impressions, about you. Take this into consideration throughout the entire process.

After you have done all of these things, I suggest that you read through Guy Kawasaki's suggestions and further refine your profile.

TECH TALK

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Elmer Thomas Jr.
For many, the new year will be a time to launch new businesses. In this fast paced Web 2.0 digital world, we don't have time to create big binder sized business plans before we get started. Instead, Guy Kawasaki offers an excellent method, in his book the The Art of the Start, to get your new business to market fast and furiously. Here is a summary, along with some specific action items you can take, and a link to a template you can use to get those new businesses launched in 2008.

These steps come from the first chapter of the The Art of the Start, Causation. There are ten more chapters, so make sure you follow through with the remaining ten after you launch.

MAKE MEANING

Answer these questions to make sure you are ready to move forward:

  • How will your business make the world a better place?
  • Are you ready to stake everything on your idea?
  • Are you willing to take full responsibility, success or fail?
  • Are you ready to work harder than you ever have in your whole life?

MAKE MANTRA

Forget the mission statement, make a mantra instead. Here are some guidelines:

  • The mantra is for your employees, not your customers.
  • It should define why your business exists.
  • All decisions should be able to reference the mantra for an example.
  • It should be as short and powerful as possible.

GET GOING

Get your product or service to market and start selling. The help fuel the process, keep your thinking big, find some quality partners and create passion in the marketplace.

Here are some steps to get you going:

  • Create a beta invitation page.
  • Create a simple mind map or use case diagram from which to base your prototype.
  • Create a prototype.
  • Start offering your services.
  • Start networking and promoting your new products and services.
  • Iterate on your designs quickly.
  • Use your early public releases to gain feedback on your iterations.

DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

You need to define how you will make money. The following questions and comments should be considered:

  • How will you generate revenue?
  • What is the monthly cost to operate the business?
  • Who is your specific customer? (Don't be afraid to niche)
  • Write out your business model as simply as possible.
  • Calculate the gross profit of each unit sold and divide by the monthly cost to operate your business. Ask a few women if they think you can sell that many units. If not, your business plan needs revising.

DEFINE MILESTONES, ASSUMPTIONS and TASKS

Make sure you define the following milestones first:

  • Prove your concept.
  • Complete the design specifications.
  • Complete your prototype.
  • Raise capital.
  • Launch beta.
  • Official launch.
  • Achieve break even.

For each milestone, set a target completion date and post this somewhere where the whole team can see it daily.

The assumptions should include:

  • Performance metrics.
  • Market size.
  • Gross margin.
  • Sales calls per salesperson.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Sales cycle length.
  • ROI for customers.
  • Technical support tracking.
  • Payment cycle.
  • Compensation requirements for your staff.
  • Cost to produce your product or service.

These assumptions should be linked to the milestones. You need to make sure you track the assumptions for quick reaction when they fail.

Create a task list, that includes all the major tasks involved with running your businesses. These are all secondary to the major milestones, but they are important.

Here are some examples:

  • Renting office space.
  • Creating partnerships with vendors.
  • Setting up accounting systems.
  • Filing legal documents.
  • Purchasing insurance policies.
  • Setting up phone services.

So now the big question... what business do you plan to start in 2008?

RESOURCES

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Startup Template

Online Legal Help for Small Businesses

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By Elmer Thomas Jr.

 

Every small business is faced with a host of legal challenges, from forming your business entity to defending yourself against lawsuits. Here I will present some of my favorite free or low cost resources to help you navigate the legal minefield.

LegalZoom.com

If you know what you need and just want to execute, then here is a good place to start. For example, if you need to file for a provisional patent, incorporate your business or file a trademark you can save more than 50% versus using an attorney.

FindLaw.com

This resource is useful for independent legal research. In addition, they have an extensive network of referred lawyers if you need extra help. You will want to check out the Small Business section for starters. They also have affordable forms and free books, such as a legal dictionary.

IRS.gov

All that you need to know about taxes, along with the associated forms, is located here. In particular, click the Businesses tab and take a look at the business topics at the top of the left sidebar.

DocStoc.com

This is a new website where users share their documents freely. You will find a great deal of valuable forms. You will still want to have items such as contracts checked by your own lawyer; however, you should save on fees since most of the work will be done.

SBA.gov

This site was specifically created for small businesses in the United States. Under services, check out the Laws & Regulations link.

Google.com/patents

If you an idea that you think is patentable, here is a free way to check if someone already beat you to the punch. I have found Google's patent search to be much easier to use than the U.S. Patent Office's web site.

EchoSign.com

They make getting contracts signed easy. You can either have contracts signed digitally online or via fax. EchoSign will then store the signed contracts for easy retrieval later. This method is especially useful when multiple people from different areas need to sign a document.

Nolo.com

I find Nolo books simple to use and easy to apply. In addition to their books, they have a great deal of free legal information on their websites.

CreativeCommons.org

If you produce creative works, this resource allows you to easily define the copyright terms.

Business.gov

Here is a site that is self-described as "The Official Business Link to the U.S. Government". I found the Licenses & Permits, Taxes, Intellectual Property and Information Security to be informative.

PrePaidLegal.com

If you plan to require legal advice often, then they may have the solution for you. Check out the section for Employers.

Please send all feedback, topic suggestions and/or questions to TechTalk@AboveTheLimit.com. Digital archives can be found at BlackVoiceNews.com and IngleWoodToday.com.


Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of ATL Innovations, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ThemBid.com, a service offering free advertising for businesses and makes finding services and products easy for consumers. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ATLInnovations.com and ElmerThomas.com.


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