SBK023 Internet Marketing Tips for Small Business, an Expert’s Viewpoint.

Kelvin Newman is the resident expert on Internet Marketing Podcast,  UK’s most popular internet marketing podcast, downloaded by over half a million people. In this episode, I ask him what it takes to have such a well-respected podcast that continues to attract a huge following.

With over 138 episodes to date, the Internet marketing podcast mixes topical news and views, questions and answer sessions, as well as expert interviews from the likes of bestselling author Seth Godin, lifestyle experimentalist, Tim Ferris and the godfather of website usability, Jacob Nielsen.

Subject Matter Experts do not come any larger than this, as Kelvin is also the Creative Director, at Sitevisibilty, one of UK’s leading Search Engine Marketing & Optimisation agencies. He’s written an awesome link building book, “Becoming a Clockwork Pirate” that he offers for free. I get to know why he gives so much valuable information for free. There’s a good business reason behind this.

Kelvin explains key steps on how to quickly find out if, and what Social Media networks are best suited for the small business owner. I also ask him to take us through practical steps any entrepreneur should be taking in-order to “bootstrap it on the internet”, or spending as little money as possible to get set up and running effectively on the internet.

If you are looking for real, proven, solid, free tips and advice relating to Internet Marketing, the next 30 minutes will prove to be the best time you’ll invest today. Take a good listen, learn and enjoy.

 Links

The Internet Marketing Podcast

Site Visibility

 

SBK022 Everybody, Everyday is the true Continuous Improvement Way.

Today’s episode is a special one as I go back to my true Kaizen roots and speak with Bruce Hamilton, the President of the GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership), a non-profit provider of lean technology.  Bruce has extensive experience in all forms of Continuous Improvement including TPS, Lean and Kaizen, having worked in manufacturing and administration roles for a number of organisations.

Bruce is an author and actor in the 2004 video, Toast Kaizen (recipient of 2005 Academic Shingo Prize), used world-wide to introduce the basics of lean manufacturing, as well as Toast VSM (recipient of the 2011 Academic Shingo Prize).

We talk about the book he co-authored, a comprehensive multimedia training package, e2 Continuous Improvement System, the famous Toast Kaizen DVD and how this has taken a life of its own.

Bruce acknowledges the importance of having the right environment within an organisation in which ideas can be put into practice and one in which employees are not afraid to take chances.

Check out Bruce’s blog at www.oldleandude.org that covers a wide range of TPS-related anecdotes.

Links :

GBMP

Toast Kaizen DVD

23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference

Gallery Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SBK020 Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Listening to your customers’ feedback is a vital, fundamental element for any business.

At the very least, the voice of the customer is a sure way to ignite the innovation and continuous improvement flames for your business.

Yet, how often is this “back to basics” requirement neglected when a business conducts market research, opting instead to go with gambles, gut-feels and untested assumptions ?

Today however, the advent of social networks and unlimited access to the internet has opened up new ways to listen to your customers.

One such innovative product is IdeaScale, a powerful online tool, based on empowering communities to have a say in driving innovation for a business.

The tool automates the process of collecting ideas from your customers and encourages a voting process to ensure the most important ideas “bubble” to the top of the list.

In this podcast episode, I speak to Rob Hoehn, the co-founder and president of customer development at IdeaScale and ask him where it all began for his company and what inspired him and his colleagues to come up with this idea generation and management tool.

We discuss the main features of this online tool such as the seamless integration with Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and  smart phones as well as the several cool applications this tool has.

For a typical small business, the free, fully functional version of  IdeaScale will probably suffice for your crowd-sourcing needs, with an option to upgrade to feature rich price plans.

If your business is serious about improvement through innovation, then start by listening to what your customers really want, instead of trying to figure out what they want.

Listen to your customers, listen to the Podcast!

Go on and test drive IdeaScale.

Read about the Idea Scale Case Studies

Rob Hoehn’s inspiration comes from this book

16 Twelve Business Improvement Ideas for Christmas

A brand new 2011 year presents a great opportunity to start something new for your business.

Why not tap into the many, mostly free, productivity and business improvement tools available and unleash the power of web 2.0 business tools for your business.

True to the Christmas spirit, this episode focuses on:

12 Tools to Improve your Business.

  1. Mindmeister – An online mind mapping brainstorming  software for Project Management, Brain Storming, great for innovative people and businesses collaboration in real time.  http://www.mindmeister.com/
  2.  IdeaScale – Idea collection platform where customers submit their ideas and vote for the best ones http://ideascale.com/
  3. Evernote – Capture images, text, audio and video as a means to help you remember everything. http://evernote.com
  4. Viral Heat – Track who is mentioning what in any of the Social Network Platforms. Viralheat covers every corner of the social web from Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, Real-time web, to YouTube.  http://www.viralheat.com/?r=8833
  5. Twitter
  6. Google
  7. YouTube
  8. Zune
  9. Yahoo Answers
  10. Mocking Bird  
  11. DropBox
  12. oDesk

Subscribe to the Podcast via Zune

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Is Your Iceberg Melting ?

John Kotter is the undisputed guru in Leadership and Change Management and author of the bestselling book, “Our Iceberg Is Melting”. In this episode, I discuss Professor John Kotter’s 8 Steps of Change and how you can apply the same approach to successfully change your business under any conditions.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders ought to take valuable lessons from the authoritative subject matter expert on Change Management and Leadership. The 8 Steps of Change are based on Kotter’s extensive research spanning several decades, where he studied the science and art of successful and sustainable business change. If you are serious about turning your business around, there is a tried and trusted way, the John Kotter way.

an iceberg and glacier out at sea

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Pareto’s Magnificent Seven Rules of Business

Pareto’s Principle is a fundamental business principle that holds true, irrespective of the nature of your business. Also known as the 80:20 rule, it is a simple, yet powerful approach to look at your business and more importantly focus on the issues that really matter.

So which one of these statements ring true for your business?

1.            80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers

2.            20% of your product or service range contributes 80% of your profit

3.            80% of customer complaints originate from 20% of the causes.

4.            20% of your individual effort and time achieves 80% of the desired results

5.            80% of your business productivity losses results from 20% of the causes

6.            20% of your staff is responsible for 80% of the business outputs and results.

7.            80% of the value in the business is generated by 20% of the processes

Look at your business long and hard and identify those vital few elements which are all that matter, everything else is hot air.

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jerk Chicken vs. Hats is a Carnival No Contest

The Notting Hill Carnival was the setting for our Business Lesson of the day. The West London spectacle, the biggest street carnival in Europe, lived up to its reputation of being a festive celebration of colours, music and of course food.  I was there on a glorious Bank Holiday Monday and in part, out on a fun mission to spot something worth sharing with the SmallBizKaizen community. I didn’t have to search far as you’ll see from this video.

This lesson holds true at the Carnival, then surely the same is true in your business. We urge all upcoming or newly established entrepreneurs to take heed of this simple lesson by getting into business for the right reasons, to solve a problem for your customers rather than create one for yourself !

brian venge and levi roots at the nottinghill carnival On another business note, I also met up with Levi Roots of the Dragons Den fame at his “Rasta’Rant”, a true dragon slayer who is still putting music into your food today. His business story is simply phenomenal. We hope to bring you an exclusive interview with Levi in the future, so watch this space.  To be absolutely sure you don’t miss out, simply subscribe to the RSS feed.

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The A-Z of Kaizen Continuous Improvement.

A is for Action Plan, without this, everything you say in those meetings is just hot air.

B is for Best Practice, a technique, process or activity in your business known to bring the most effective solution or outcome than any other applied in a similar situation.

C is for Coaching, being a mentor to someone and taking them on a personal journey in self-fulfilment and discovery

D is for DMAIC a well-documented problem solving technique based on six-sigma principles and 5 specific: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and control.

E is for Efficiency is a doing things in the most economical way, and if those things are the right things to be done then this becomes a measure of effectiveness.

F is for FMEA, Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, a fancy term for a tool, typically used in new product development, to identify potential failure modes based on past experience with similar products or processes.

G is for Gantt Chart, the project scheduling tool of choice for managing improvement projects, milestones and responsibilities.

H is for Histogram, also known as skyscraper diagram, or bar chart. It’s a series of data plotted on a bar chart representing frequency or quantity against different intervals.

I is for the Inspiration to Improve – the heart and soul of Continuous Improvement

J is for the Japanese pioneers in Continuous Improvement, Sakichi Toyoda and Ishikawa amongst them, who at the heart of the Japanese industrial revolution were instrumental in embracing the principles of continuous improvement.

K is for Kaizen, the Japanese word that simply means “Change for the Better”. So now you know where we get our name SmallBizKaizen from!

L is for Learning, a continuous need to “sharpen the saw” to ensure your knowledge thirst is never quenched.

M is for Motivation necessary to support improvement efforts. Top Management plays a vital role in motivating everyone in Kaizen.

N is for Novel Ideas, typically the birth of most Continuous Improvement successes.

O is for Opportunity, any gap between a customer expectation and what your business currently delivers. This is the very source of Continuous Improvement

P is for Problem Solving, a discipline and approach to remove obstacles and barriers preventing your organisation from fulfilling customer obligations and expectations.

Q is for Quality as defined in the eyes of the customers. Are your products and services fit for purpose?

R is for Reward and Recognition an essential part of the CI loop. Recognise the stars and the players in your team and always celebrate successes.

S is for Sustainability – The art of ensuring your hard earned improvements don’t slip back to old habits.

T is for Tracking the impact of Actions to check whether the CI has been delivered.

U is for Upper Control Limit, the upper most control limit set in a Statistical Process Control chart to trigger corrective and preventive action.

V is for Value Addition – Efforts put into any product and/or service to improve attributes and is appreciated by your customers is deemed to have added value.

W is for Waste Elimination, basically any non-value adding activities along the value chain are considered to be Waste and ought to be eliminated.

X is a difficult letter to find a word beginning with it so we’ll settle for eXcellence in eXecution wich is the art of ruthless and flawless delivery of agreed objectives.

Y is for Yoke, part of Poka Yoke the Japanese word meaning “fool proofing”, designing a product in such a way it’s virtually impossible to make a mistake using the product.

Z is for Zero Defect, the quest for perfection in everything you and your organisation does.

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Sack the Agency – Be your Own Web Designer

Article first published as Sack the Agency and Be Your Own Web Designer on Technorati.

girl pretending to fly like a mocking birdPlanning a website design for your business can be one of the most strategic tasks in bringing your business online yet if you don’t know where to start, this can be a daunting, costly and time consuming  exercise. Fortunately, there are now available a number of free online website design tools to help put your website project ideas onto a framework that you can share with your colleagues or web designers. Website mock ups now make the task of designing a simple website user interface quick, creative and fun.  As an online web design tool, we recommend you try out a free version of Mockingbird, an online tool that makes it easy for you to create, link together, preview, and share mockups of your website or application.

Being an online tool, one needs to create a user account that allows you to save your projects and access them from any PC using an internet connection. This also makes it possible to share your designs easily. Designs can also be exported as pdf files for sending via email or for printing.

This website mock-up tool features commonly used user interface elements such as text area, drop downs, tables, buttons , images , breadcrumbs , videos maps and so on, which are added to your design by simply dragging and dropping onto the workspace. You can then move, resize and add links to the various functions, preview and share designs by a simple click of a button.

For any small business going online with a website, we highly recommend “gomockingbird” as the ideal tool to save you loads of time, money and resources. You can sign up for a free account that will allow you 1 project with a limit of 10 pages free for working with up to 1 design – ideal for the smallbizkaizen entrepreneur.

We’ve put together a website Wireframe Tutorial Video you help you get started.  Go on, be your own web designer.

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Top Free iPhone Apps to Revolutionise your Business, seriously.

Time is Cashflow

As an entrepreneur myself I understand the value of your time.  To help you make the most of your time and increase your productivity and efficiency you need to consider mobile smart phone technology as an essential part of your business arsenal. The decision to use a Smart phone for business is really a no brainer and at the pinnacle of smart phones, in my opinion is the iPhone. In this article we look at 5 iPhone Apps that will revolutionise the way you operate today and free up your time like never before, because at smallbizkaizen, we understand that time is cash.

Dragon Dictation  : Voice to Text transcriptions.

dragon dictation iphone app logoIf you’ve ever written an email on an iPhone you’ll admit, it’s not the easiest task this fantastic gadget can do. It can be a bit challenging but hey, you can’t exactly have it all on an iPhone right? – Wrong ! Dragon Dictation is a really cool App that overcomes this problem with ease. You open the app, press the record button, speak clearly into the microphone and when you stop recording, your dictation is magically transformed into text that you can then copy and paste to send as an email, sms, twitter or Facebook message, saving you loads of time.

Dragon Dictation is brought to you by Nuance Communications

iTalk Recorder – On the Go Recording

iTalk Recorder iPhone App logoRecording audio memos and voice reminders on the go is made extremely simple when you use the iTalk Recorder App from Griffin Technology. The ability to name each audio file gives this app the edge over most similar apps making file management & retrieval easy. Use this app to record meetings, presentations, interviews, random thoughts – in fact just about any sound media can be recorded for future playback in excellent quality. This app ideal for entrepreneurs on the go. Syncing the recorded audio files with your computer is made  possible via a free download available on http://www.italksync.com/download

iTalk Recorder is brought to you by Griffin Technology

Evernote : Remember Everything

evernote iphone app logoIt’s been described as an extension of your brain and true to their motto “Remember Everything”, Evernote allows you to do just that. This App allows you to take notes of virtually anything you want to remember for your business. With Evernote, you can create text, photo and video notes that you then auto synchronize to your Mac PC and Web – how cool is that? By tagging your notes, you create a fully searchable notes database so no excuses for forgetting stuff. The cool feature included with this app is the geo-location feature which allows for mapping and searching possibilities.

Evernote is brought to you by Evernote

WordPress : Mobile Blogging

wordpress mobile iphone app logoMany business owners today are also bloggers and use the WordPress platform to easily publish , edit post and comments. WordPress mobile works with both wordpress.com and wordpress.org self-hosted blogs. As a mobile blogging application users can add text and photos straight from the iPhone camera.  You can carry out pretty much the same tasks as you normally would on your PC or Mac including posting new articles, editing existing posts and comments.

WordPress is brought to you by WordPress

HootSuite Lite for Twitter : Mobile Tweeter

hootsuite lite iphone app logoThis App allows you to keep in touch with the twitter-sphere and join the conversation from anywhere . Desribed as simple, elegant and powerful, HootSuite allows you to send and schedule Twitter and Facebook updates, track click stats, and set up tracking columns to monitor keywords, #hashtags and lists. What more do you need when you are on the go?

Hootsuite is brought to you by Hootsuite Media

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