bookmark_borderBrainstorming and Innovation

The only chance today of a brainstorming session coming up with a brilliant original solution would be to have someone in the group who is already a creative genius who can speak up, defend their concept against politically correct and status quo bias and personally persuade the group to yield to their idea. Still, this type of person is a true ‘Thought Leader’ and a legitimate thought leader hardly needs a brainstorming group or any group for that matter in the first place.

Brainstorming isn’t working anymore for innovation, and you can get better creativity from a YouTube Cat Video these days. Corporate R&D Departments aren’t producing much either considering the huge sums of money they spend on the innovative process. Those who predict the future so they can see into the looking glass aren’t much better using their methodologies.

Let’s take the Futurists of the World Future Society (WFS) as an interesting case study. The WFS has seminars to teach you how to think like a Futurist, symposiums with special emphasis on trend projections and innovation. Isn’t it interesting how all the members of the WFS are always on the same page, and how their predictions are nearly always incorrect (90% of the time)? Why is this? Maybe it’s because when you teach people to think a certain way, they lose the creative edge or ability to do high-level original thought, as you are confine their thought process to logical thinkin?g (left brain thinking) when the students who wish to focus on innovation need to be both left and right brain thinkers.

How are we going to get back to an America that is robust in original thinking and overflowing with new ideas – a nation that is so innovative that we can’t even hold back the rapid changes of our society and civilization? How can we lead the world into the future if we can’t even innovate our way out of plastic bags? Please consider all this and think on it.

bookmark_borderBusiness Intelligence

Ever changing marketing trends and targeting customers through their behavior and traffic patterns is the driving force for integrating business intelligence tools that provide greater insights than the way we previously used manual marketing forecasts. Actionable information that business managers and corporate executives can access in order to make informed business decisions can affect the organization’s overall performance and growth.

Yet how do you determine what is the best software to apply to your organizational needs? If you’re searching for a buyer’s guide for software services based on their merits, you can find some transparent and reputable review sites to help you uncover the best software tools for cloud computing, forecasting, benchmarking, mobile, predictive analytics, big data, and visualization.

Dashboard software creates data visualizations (graphs, charts, metrics) that monitor client interactions, revenue, reports, and scorecards. Although dashboard software monitors client reactions, customer relationship management (CRM) and BI Tools are not to be confused. CRM is a database that stores customer sales history and interactions, which you could segment for greater productivity and profitability. Business intelligence tools combine software for customer acquisition and retention. Together, the two can impact real-world numbers through testing and experimenting.

Business Intelligence technologies and analytic tools give more accurate reports while saving time and money. With the capability to analyze historical data and forecast a holistic view of their market, organizations need to understand analytics in order to make their company compete efficiently while understanding big data in real-time to deliver an optimal customer experience.

bookmark_borderGreat Marketing Ideas

Sometimes someone comes up with a great idea and the only weakness in the idea is that it relies on the weather. In this case, a sports betting software operator decided to buy 7,000 golf size umbrellas which had in very large print their website address, telephone number and the tag line “bet on sports today”.

The idea was that instead of spending money on a national television commercial during a football game, they could get better advertisement at a fraction of the cost by using umbrellas.

The execution of the promotion would have female models at all of the entrances of a stadium giving out umbrellas to ticket holders for free. The only uncertain part was that the promotion would have to be done on a rainy day. The theory was that as the rain would start to fall, people would open their promotional umbrella and when the television crew would film the crowd, that company would get instant television advertising via the opened umbrellas!

Since hiring a crew of model and someone to manage them had to be done in advance, that company relied on the weather channel to give them the best day to run the promotion.

On game day, the weather was perfect for umbrellas as it was a cloudy day and according to the weather channel, there was an 86% chance of rain. All of the umbrellas were passed out and everyone in the company was waiting for the rain to come.

The rain never came…

Giveaways and contests are a great way to bring attention to your brand or company. People love to win and get free stuff which is why stores and businesses know that this is a good way to get to a clients’ heart. One department store in Costa Rica decided to give pressure cookers to every person that came and bought $50 worth of merchandise in their store.

Someone in marketing did the math and figured that based on the store’s daily sales, they would need around 100 pressure cookers. The store’s marketing department did everything right to promote this giveaway by letting people know about it via newspaper, internet and radio ads.

On the day of the promotion, it looked like this promotion was a winner. There was actually a line of people waiting for the store to open that day to get their free pressure cooker. Within hours, they had run out of pressure cookers and that is when things turned ugly.

Customers were demanding their pressure cookers and unfortunately, the marketing genius behind the promotion forgot to add to the promotion a disclaimer that would protect the store in case they ran out of stock. Since they did not have such a disclaimer, the store ended up having to give out vouchers to receive the pressure cooker at a later date. The total number of pressure cooker they ended up giving out was a whopping 432!

Even though they got a lot of publicity out of the promotion, it took them 2 months to get back their return on the promotion. The good news though is that it did increase brand trust for the store.

The moral of the story is to always make sure to have the proper promotional terms and conditions that also include a disclaimer unless you want to end with a very low return on investment.

bookmark_borderTrials Of An Internet Entrepreneur

Little did I realize that life on the Internet is quite a bit different than the world of absolute truths that I exist in as an Engineer. Everyone is presented as an expert but few people seem to agree on any given topic. How can perceived reality differ so greatly?

The truth of the matter is, that Internet Reality is defined by the search engines and the algorithms they use to present it, and I doubt very seriously that the folks that really
understand it will divulge their secrets anytime in the near future. Therefore any understanding of the reality presented, can only be reactive in nature and speculative at best. I made numerous mistakes in setting up our first store before this concept really sunk in. Without realizing it, I was trying to use an approach which may have been functional, but did not work well with the search engines and therefore would have always limited our success. I finally came to the conclusion, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

My mistakes began at the very beginning, when I purchased a third party PHP shopping cart and loaded it on to a reputable hosting company. Based on everything I was told, this should
be a “Walk in the Park” and we should be selling product any day. I was soon to find out that I required a working knowledge of PHP to modify the shopping cart and even worse, my page requests timed out as often as 60% of the time. Now in all fairness to the software industry, I’m sure there are many quality solutions being offered today. The problem is, which do you buy?

In utter disgust, I turned to a suggestion seen at WorldWide Brands and chose to open up a Yahoo Store. I also purchased the first edition of Online Store Profits and followed it step by step as I created our store and was quickly up and running. From there I purchased Arelis for our link management software and IBP 8 for our site optimization and marketing. Lastly I
purchased IDevAffiliate for our affiliate tracking and management needs. I’m sure there are many other effective options that can be chosen, but these are the ones that have worked well for us. Our search engine visibility and subsequent sales continue to improve, and in general “Life Is Good” and we are pleased with our selections.

bookmark_borderAbout FOB

FOB origin indicates that the ownership of the goods is transferred as soon as in gets out of the hands of the seller. If shipping of the goods is required then it is the buyer’s responsibility and he or she has to bear the expenses. This type of transaction is often referred to the city name like FOB Boston, FOB San Francisco, etc.

FOB destination, on the other hand, indicates that ownership of goods is transferred to the buyer when the original products reach the doorstep of the buyer. Here, the seller has to arrange for the transportation of the goods for which either he pays or charges the buyer for the expenses. The seller also has to be liable in case the goods suffer any damage while en route.

FOB comes more into the picture when there are wholesale or B2B shipments of large goods.

There are four ways in which the FOB term is included in the documents for shipping:

  • FOB (place of origin)- Freight Collect
  • FOB (place of origin)- Freight Prepaid
  • FOB (place of destination)- Freight Collect
  • FOB (place of destination)- Freight Prepaid

It is important that the shippers understand the FOB designations well especially in case of damages to the goods. Some of the receiving docks totally deny the delivery of the damaged goods without accepting the damage notation. However, when a shipment is designated properly, it is clear that the damage risk has to be borne by the seller or the buyer. In such cases, there is no question of confusion.

The term is particularly important for those companies who are engaged in shipping huge quantities of goods. A clear concept of the FOB term helps in understanding the liability of the party regarding the safety in the delivery of the shipment. It also helps the buyer and the seller in knowing which party owns the materials at a particular point of the shipping cycle. This information is also helpful for the accountants who can maintain instant records of the transactions on the basis of FOB. Moreover, the term is also useful in proper logistics management.

If you are falling in the nexus of any state which charges selling taxes on shipment, then FOB can be your friend. For the packages which have FOB origin marked on them, the buyer pays the freight charges directly by contracting with a shipper. Thus, the seller has no role here. The buyer does not have to bear sales taxes as he has already paid the freight charges which most of the states consider exempted.

When people find the term quite complex to understand and interpret, they often take the help of professionals who are expert in the field. This ensures that you comply with the terms without any faults and the shipments get managed quite fast. FOB incoterms is another interesting aspect which the shipping industry must pay attention to and know about in details.

bookmark_borderStart a Service Business

First clients

You should understand that getting your first client is your first milestone. What you need to do is serve your first few clients very well. They should be happy. Moreover, if you want to develop a strong relationship with the clients, make sure you give them a discount.

Find a Focus

You should be different from other service providers who offer similar services. If you don’t be different, you won’t be able to make a difference. As a result, your product will not entice the potential buyers. Your clients should be able to differentiate your products from those of your competitors. This is what we mean by finding a focus.

Blogging and social media

For marketing, blogging and social media are your best tools. You should create and publish content that can validate your expertise. Today, your marketing is a lot cheaper than it was a few years ago. In the past, people had to get through strict editors and publishers in order to get the word out about their expertise. They had to write books and articles as well. Nowadays, you can post on Twitter, Facebook and your own blog. So, you don’t have to rely so much on editors and publishers nowadays.

Logo and look

We suggest that you choose your logo wisely and spend on it after a lot of thinking. Actually, your website and logo should be professional and this is really important. Nowadays, it’s not about stationary or business cards anymore. This is your representation.

Don’t overspend

It’s not a good idea to spend the money you don’t have. As a matter of fact, you will get tons of suggestions that can help you make more money later on, such as marketing programs and mail lists.

bookmark_borderBest Way to Promote a Business

Plan your attack. Define who your best prospects are, and then determine the best way to reach them. Be as specific as possible. Is the decision maker the CTO of the company, the director of human resources, or a 37-year-old working mom? Will you find them on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or Facebook? What about in-person networking at local business meetings? Will they be searching for your type of product on Google or Bing? Do you want to start promoting your business to them at the start of their buying cycle, or when they’re about ready to pull out their credit card and make the purchase? Write your answers down, and refer to them before you start any new marketing tactic.

If you don’t have a website, get one set up.┬áIf you can’t afford to have someone custom-design your website, put your site up using one of the companies like SiteSell.com, E-business Success. Simple. Real or Get a site, Get found. Get customers. That provide templates and tools that make it easy to create a basic website.

Set up a listing for your business in search engine local directories.

Google and Bing both offer a free listing of local businesses.

To get listed on Google, go to Google My Business.

To get listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business

bookmark_borderSigns You Have Found a Decent Bitcoin Trader App

Apps exist for all sorts of things, so it should not be surprising that you can use one to trade cryptocurrency. With so many of these popping up each day, you don’t want to select one that is not all you had hoped for. The best way to navigate all of the options and ensure you use a decent Bitcoin Revolution app would be to look for these signs.

Positive reviews are a great sign that you are using a good app. People these days are more than willing to share all of their experiences with the public and you should take advantage of this. Peruse customer feedback for any Bitcoin trader app you are considering. If you notice a negative review or two, you should not be concerned; perfection does not exist. As long as the majority of the feedback you see is great, forge ahead.

Once you have found an app you are interested in trying, look around and try getting an idea of how user friendly it is. When you use an app of this sort, it is imperative that you feel comfortable with it. If you don’t notice any glaring errors and it is easy enough to find all you need, this is a good sign.

Automatic trading may not seem like a necessity, but it is one surefire way to get the most from a trading platform. A great sign of a winning app is the ability of the software to make trades while you are asleep. This means that your potential for making money will never cease,

With all of the apps available, it can be pretty easy to allow yourself to fall victim to bad ones. Stay alert and look for all of the signs here if you want to increase the chances you will find a winner.

bookmark_borderConstruction Management

Planning is a general term that refers to a roadmap, a clear path that should be followed in order to complete a project successfully. In construction management, planning is about breaking down a project into definable, identifiable, and measurable activities. The next step is to establish the logical interdependencies among these activities. The planning stage usually deals with the following three questions:

  • What is going to be done?
  • How are things going to be done?
  • Who will be completing various activities?
  • What will be the expected cost?

Construction projects involve many technical factors that should be given due attention. Only specialized project managers can carry out a project efficiently. A construction task may involve a number of stakeholders with varying priorities and interests. For instance, plans can exist at different levels: short-term construction plans, long-term construction plans, pre-tender plans, corporate strategic plans, etc. All these plans deal with the following four major steps:

  • Dividing the work into various activities
  • Defining the sequence by which all the activities should be carried out
  • Activities representation
  • Making rational estimates of resources, time, cost, etc.

Every project is different in nature. It is possible that a single person can handle a simple project which only involves few defined activities. However, most of the construction projects are complicated; managers have to define and organize thousands of activities. The more complex a project, the greater the number of activities. Sometimes it becomes humanly impossible to handle thousands of activities without software capabilities.

When a project manager has to deal with numerous activities, it is recommended to develop a communication platform where all the stakeholders can easily access information and develop an understanding throughout the various construction stages. Work breakdown structure (WBS) is a common example of how a large plan can be effectively organized.

How do we carry out scheduling in a construction project? There are many techniques and methods to conduct scheduling. Some of them are task matrix, network diagram, and line-of-balance scheduling. Matrix scheduling is a simple way of handling small projects. Other techniques are designed to handle complex tasks and activities.

It is recommended to have a reputable third-party project management service on board in order to complete complex projects with great efficiency.

bookmark_borderPractical Money Saving

Internet Access – Every online business owner must have access to the Web. But consider this. The market is so flooded with ISPs that you have a lot of room to dicker. Start by searching the Internet under keywords like “cheap internet access” or “discount isp” to bring up lists of possibilities. Then, do one of two things.

  • Try some of these independent ISPs. Smaller companies can have high quality service and support just like the “big boys”. One business owner I know recently switched from Prodigy ($21.95/mth) to a smaller ISP that only charges $12.50/mth with no contracts. She actually liked the new provider better and it costs her about half as much. [Savings of $113.40 per year.]
  • Renegotiate with your existing ISP. Most larger ISPs know you have a choice of a thousand other companies. Because of this, they are normally more than willing to renegotiate your costs. Be honest. Tell them you are a small business owner and you need to cut expenses. Explain that you’ve been pleased with their service but will be forced to go with someone else if some sort of arrangement isn’t worked out. Another friend of mine did this and received 6 months free! Most will offer 2-3 months free and/or a discount with an annual agreement. NOTE: When you approach your ISP, be fully prepared to switch to someone else if your offer is rejected. [Savings of $105.80 per year with 3 months free and reduced, annual rate.]

Switch From A Merchant Account To A Payment Service – If you have a low volume of credit card transactions, it might benefit you to switch from a merchant account to some sort of payment service like Pay Pal or ClickBank. Statement fees, monthly fees, discount percentages and the like can all add up to big money.

While payment services normally have reduced fees, they do have higher “per transaction” costs so you’ll have to do some math to find out if this is a good idea for your business. Just take an “average” invoice amount from a sale and multiply it times 12 to get a base total to work with. Now, add in your 12 months worth of fees for statement, monthly access, discount percentage, per transaction cost, etc. This is your “example” total. Do the same with several payment services using their costs to see which one, over time, would be less expensive for you.

If you were paying a $15 statement fee, $20 monthly fee, 3% + $.35 per transaction and $25 monthly gateway fee, your annual expenses would be $742.20 for an average transaction of $50.00. Your annual fees for a payment service with 3.5%, $1.00 per transaction and a one-time $50.00 set up charge would only be $83.00 per year. [Savings of $659.20 per year.]

Re-evaluate Your Long Distance Costs – Competition is the small business owner’s friend! With hundreds of long distance companies out there, you can drastically reduce your charges instantly. Again – use the ‘Net to search for inexpensive long distance service. A business owner I know changed from a MCI “program” to one of those 10-10 companies and reduced her per minute charge from $.07 to $.05. Depending on the volume of calls you make, some programs offer rates as low as $.03 per minute. [Estimated savings of $20-$30 per year for 1,000 minutes.]