Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Okay Google – Top Secret Hidden Resources for Entrepreneurs



Being an iPhone-type, I don’t take advantage of many of the popular Google apps my fellow entrepreneurs use. Such as Google Docs (I use MS-Word), Google Sheets (I use MS-Excel) though I do use Google Drive and Google Maps.

This got me thinking, what top secret hidden resources does the all-knowing Google have that every entrepreneur should use – including those of us using iPhones, or other non-Android-based tech?

Here are my top secret hidden gems – that every entrepreneur should know about.

Google Trends

Whether you are brainstorming a new product, or starting a new business, if you want to see what is trending on Google (and the Internet for that matter), check out Google Trends. You can see what’s trending locally, nationally, and internationally, in various categories. 

Entrepreneurs searching for a new business idea, or if you want to check and see what is trending in your market or industry – this is the place to go.

Google Correlate

Once you’ve found what’s trending, you can use Google Correlate to get the metrics behind that trending data. You can correlate current trends to actual publicly available data, to see if there are any patterns. For example, you may find that the new product or service you want to launch typically trends in warm, dry summer weather – or that it is popular with balding men under twenty – and many other useful stats which any investor will be wowed by when you go looking for capital.

Google Public Data Explorer

Speaking of using Google to gather data, Google Public Data Explorer is an amazing resource of publicly accessible government and non-government data from around the world. Want to find out the current unemployment rates for your neighborhood? Not only will you get the latest figures, it breaks it down visually, with charts and graphs, so even your five-year-old could understand it. This is a phenomenal tool for any business owner trying to break into a new market, or someone creating a completely new business – and as with all the tools here it’s FREE.

Google Scholar

Once you’ve exhausted the public treasure chest of info, check out what academics from around the world are working on. Chances are, there is a university or college somewhere around the world doing deep thinking on your market, sector or business lines. Google Scholar is a great place for entrepreneurs to track down published academic papers on just about everything. 

You could use this resource to validate a business idea, or if you need a quote from someone with lots of letters after their name to entice customers that your cure for some horrible disease actually has some merit. 

Some of the academic journals restrict their free access to their students and staff, but allow you to pay for a subscription to their journal.

YouTube Trends Dashboard

Quick – what’s the number one search engine in the world? Okay – we all know it is Google, but the second most popular search engine is YouTube, which is also owned by Google. If you’re in the digital world, or want to see what is currently trending on YouTube, check out the YouTube Trends Dashboard. You can see what’s trending on the popular video search site locally, nationally, and internationally.

Google News

Stuck trying to figure out what the next big thing will be? Catch breaking news from around the world on Google News. Google News shows the trending news stories on Google – often these are the top trending items on Google. 

As with all of Google’s trending feeds, you can break this down by local, national and international news trends, or by specific categories, such as business, the environment, technology and politics.

Got a cool hidden Google, or otherwise unknown resource that you think every entrepreneur should know about? Please let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @jordanhgreen.



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Is Every Business Idea Gold? Maybe You Have Entrepreneurial ESP.



Some people have the gift of the gab. They can talk about anything on the spur of the moment.

Others are walking calculators – quick – what’s the square root of 87? (It’s +/- 9.32739 for us mathematically challenged types).

Then there are those that have the amazing ability to take an idea out of thin air, and somehow turn it into a successful business.

Steve Jobs not only did this for Apple, but also helped create the magic of Pixar – their initial blockbuster film “Toy Story” was largely his doing.

Steve Jobs’ legacy continues to this day – Apple is building a mega-huge facility that looks like a round spaceship – which was designed by the late Apple founder. This spaceship campus eliminates internal barriers, supposedly to house a more creative space where software and hardware engineers can freely walk over to each other’s desk, to inspire innovative technologies.

Elon Musk shook up the automotive world, by launching the first high-performance electric car – the Tesla Roadster – which looked like a supercar, but was powered exclusively by electricity. That formed the basis for the Tesla Model S, which became the first luxury all electric car. And, despite tackling the very tight automotive sector, his company recently released the Tesla Model X, the first all electric cross-over vehicle.

You don’t have to be a big name entrepreneur to have “the gift.”



If every business idea you’ve ever had turns to gold, maybe you have entrepreneurial ESP?
ESP – extrasensory perception – has never been something that I’ve really believed in.

The ability to read another person’s mind has no basis in science. Nor has any of the other claims from those who say they have a form of ESP, such as moving objects with their mind, or predicting the future.

However, perhaps ESP isn’t so much a mysterious mental ability and really is just a heightened sense of cognitive awareness.

Case in point, those of us with the gift of the gab are probably just more linguistically and socially aware, those of us who are walking calculators are more numerically and logically aware, and those of us that can turn an idea into a profitable business are more entrepreneurial aware.

This heightened awareness isn’t some special power, it’s based on our own experiences drawn from life.


Perhaps those who have the ability to turn an idea into a successful business have Entrepreneurial ESP – but it’s no mystery where they get their mental abilities from.
They learn how to tell which ideas would make good business ventures, and which ones would not, from doing.

Because ultimately, the most successful entrepreneurs take action on their ideas.
Entrepreneurial ESP is like all skills, it is something developed over time, from learning from one’s mistakes, and successes.

Which means, those who appear to have Entrepreneurial ESP probably made some mistakes along the way – not all their ideas turned into successful ventures.
It is a learned response, just like riding a bicycle or eating with chop sticks – which I still occasionally need a bib for to catch the bits that slip through.

So, if you want to develop your Entrepreneurial ESP – or any special skill – get out there and do it.

Practice makes perfect – or at least – creates the perception of perfection.


And isn’t that what ESP really is?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Entrepreneurship Lifestyle -- It Isn't What You Think



Many people envision entrepreneurs as always driving the latest luxury sports car, wearing the hottest most expensive fashions, living in mansions around the world and going to all the A-List parties.

Not so.

Yes, you can make it big, and have all that -- and more.

But the whole point of being an entrepreneur is to turn your passions into profits. Do what you love, yet trick the world to pay you for it.

That's the essence of being an entrepreneur, otherwise, you'd just be working at some company, to make money doing something you hate.

Most people have jobs they hate. Well, hate may be a strong word. They tolerate them, they've accepted the fact that this is what I'll do, forever, and ever, because everyone has to have a job. Everyone has to work for someone. That's how you make money to enjoy the few hours you get to yourself each week.


Or at least that's the myth society sells us.

We're taught to stay in school, so you can get an education because a good education is important in getting a job. Oh, and you'll get one of those too. A job.

And you'll be at that job forever, commuting in traffic to get there and back, until one day you're given a gold watch and a blue box with all your personal things in it, and wished a happy retirement.

That myth is dead. Has been for a long, long time.

Though our society is still stuck in that myth, so anytime someone bucks the system and bolts for the door of entrepreneurship, they are automatically called a "rebel," a "troublemaker," and considered the darkhorse of the family.

"You don't want to end up like your crazy uncle Harry, do you?" is often heard at family functions.

No one knows what crazy uncle Harry does, other than he'll always show up late in his big and shiny European car from some automaker no one has heard of, arms full of gifts for all the naysayers.



Crazy uncle Harry is known as a person that likes to party. His big full-on laugh can be heard miles away, he's always the center of attention, flanked on all sides by others, laughing at and with him, and just as he arrived late to the party, he'll leave late too -- usually closing the place down.

However, it isn't is party-hard persona that scares people. It's the fact that Harry doesn't work for anyone. He's never had a regular nine-to-five job. Ever.

But that's still not what really scares people about Harry.

What really makes everyone worry and wonder about Harry, is this:

Why is he always so happy?


How come he never counts down the hours until he has to go back to work?

How come he never complains about his boss?

He's crazy -- uncle Harry.

Harry isn't crazy, he's an entrepreneur.

And like most entrepreneurs, he's living the life he's always wanted too.

That's the entrepreneurial lifestyle -- living life on your terms -- not living the myth society tells you is "life."

So the next time you see that relative that's been labeled the black sheep of the family, pat him or her on the back, smile, and ask them for some advice on starting your own entrepreneurial journey.

Then one day, if you're lucky, you'll be the one that gets the word "crazy" appended to their name at family functions.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Isn’t Social Media Just Shameless Self-Promotion – YES IT IS – That’s Why You Need to Be Using It to Shamelessly Self-Promote Your Business


We live in a very anti-social, social media world.

No, that’s not a typo – social media is anything BUT social.

Think about it – how many “friends” do you have on Twitter that you actually know? And by know, I’m not talking about sharing tweets.

Let’s put it this way, how many “friends” do you have on Twitter that you’d invite into your home for dinner? Not a coffee shop, not some sleazy bar, or worse – street corner – your own private residence.

Asking myself that same question, I currently have 4,376 followers on Twitter. Of those amazingly awesome folks following me, I’d guess I probably really only know a couple hundred, when you consider friends, family and business associates.

Of those 200 people, I really only know about 50 that I know well enough to invite into my own, personal, private, living space.

So, out of over 4,000 “friends” on Twitter, I really know about 50 of them. Do the math – I only really know 1.25 percent of my Twitter followers.
According to statistics, that’s about right. Studies show the average Twitter user only really knows between one to two percent of those who follow them.

One to two percent – that means, on average, 98 to 99 percent of those happy smiling faces that follow you on Twitter are complete strangers.

Doesn’t sound all that social at all.

Twitter is just like walking down a busy street, yelling: “look at me.”

BINGO!

Social media is just shameless self-promotion, that’s why you need to be using it to shamelessly self-promote your business.

If everyone is using Twitter, facebook, YouTube, Google Plus, Vimeo, Pinterest, Instagram, even Linkedin to shamelessly promote themselves – then you need to be doing that too.

I know – that’s not very social. Walking down a busy street, yelling: “look at me” is hardly the behavior that’ll win you long lasting friends you can count on when you really need them.

But that’s the new world order, thanks to smart phones, tablets, free WiFi, and coffee shops filled with people, none of whom talk to each other -- even at the same table!

Talking?

That’s old school.

Besides, no one cares about you.
They are too busy taking selfies to show off their new hat, tweeting about what they had for lunch, or posting a really nasty review about the waiter that kept putting his finger in everything he brought to the table.

No one cares about you.

They are busy shamelessly self-promoting their own self interest.

However, the smart social media entrepreneur knows that social media isn’t about making friends, fans and followers.

No.

It’s about doing something that gets you noticed by the most self-absorbed generation since – well okay – there never has been another generation so interested in themselves, that they will walk into on-coming traffic, because they were eyes-down, self-absorbed into their mobile device.


You have to use social media as a business person to get into the eyeballs of your customers, so in their own self-interest, they share your posts with their friends. And their friends share it with their friends, and so on, and . . .

That’s the real power of social media in business.

Despite it being wrongly named “social” – it really should be called “self interested media” or “anti social media” or anything but social.

Social media is just shameless self-promotion, but that’s why you need to be using it to shamelessly self-promote your business.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Just Because You Run a Small Business Doesn’t Mean You Should Answer the Phone Like Your Kid




Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, much as their businesses do.

Sometimes you’ll never know they run a small business unless you actually meet them.

Then, there are others, that have the telltale signs of being a small business:
  • Their email address is a Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or some other free one.
  • Their email address is firstname@companyname.com
  • Their web address is some free-hosted site.
  • When you call them, they answer the phone as your kid does when you’re calling him downstairs for dinner.
Seriously, I’ve been talking to a handful of small business owners recently, and more than just a few answered the phone in such an unprofessional manner, I had to double check to see if I dialed the wrong number.

“Yo,” is not an acceptable way to answer your phone if you want to be taken seriously as a professional.
Neither is: “Hey, how ya doin’?”

Nor does: “What?” inspire great things when calling someone you might be looking to hire.

How you answer the phone makes a big difference, even if you’re running a small business.

You’d think this would be common sense, however, as with most things in life, common sense doesn’t seem to be all that common.

When you answer your work line as above, you instantly put your potential customers on edge.

“Does this bozo really think I’m going to pay him for his services?”

How can you trust someone with your money, if they can’t answer the phone like an adult?

Unless I’m calling a stand-up comic, or someone that works in a business where light-hearted fun is the business, anything as the above tells me I’ll be looking elsewhere to spend my cash.
So, how should you be answering your work phone?

A good rule of thumb is to simply say your first and last name as the introduction: “John Smith.”

That works in the mega-huge faceless corporate world, so it also works in a small business.

Though adding some personality and customer service isn’t a bad idea: “Hi, this is John Smith, how can I help you?”

Want to sound like a big company? Use the company name in your greeting: “Thanks for calling XYZ Inc., this is John, how can I help you?”

We’ve all heard the saying, you never have a second chance to make a first impression – that is very true on the phone, especially if this is the person’s first time calling you and your business.
If you don’t sound like a reputable, professional person, you won’t get that person’s business.

Competition in all fields is immense these days, so you really don’t have a second chance to make that all important first impression.

So, unless you’re a Sylvester Stallone impersonator, answering your business phone: “Yo” just doesn’t cut it.

Once you’ve established a rapport with someone, and know the number, then perhaps you could answer slightly less formal.

However, that’ll never happen, if you scare off potential customers by answering your phone like your kid.

So, until that time, always answer the phone like a business person – unless of course, you don’t want to be in business.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Never Toss Anyone Under The Bus




Years ago, when I worked in the corporate world, I remember sitting in on a project meeting that still to this day sends a cold chill down my spine.

My team was designing a new learning platform for one of the big automakers, and this was just one of our regular project meetings to update the client on our progress.

As we showed off our latest developments, one of the team leads for the client scoffed at one of the images used in the application.

Immediately – and probably without thinking – one of my team’s project leads said: “Oh, that’s what happens when designers use clip art, sometimes they just toss any ol’ thing in there – we’ll change that right away!”

The problem, that wasn’t clip art, it was a painstakingly hand-drawn graphic, by one of our top designers – who happened to be sitting in on this meeting -- and it was specifically requested and approved by the client months ago.

I saw the poor designer turn ghostly pale and sink into her chair.

She didn’t want to be in that room.

And after her silent tears turned into audible sobbing, neither did anyone else.



I suggested we take a five-minute break, and you could almost see the vapour trails as most raced out of that room, leaving just me and the sobbing designer.

Luckily, I was able to turn things around, and I even managed to get her laughing and joking with me about the silliness of the situation.

However, my discussion later with the person who threw her under the bus was not so jovial.

He didn’t have anything personally against the graphic designer, he just did what unfortunately a lot of people still do in business – kiss the client’s butt.

My problem with people that think butt-kissing is the best way to build and foster client relations, is that they won’t hesitate for a second to blame themselves, or a member of the team to satisfy a client’s complaint – no matter how ridiculous – as in this situation, where the offending art was actually requested and already approved by the client.

Never throw anyone on your team under the bus.




Blame doesn’t get you any further in business – or anything else in life.

All blame does is create unnecessary frustration and anger with those the blame is directed at. Hardly an efficient or effective way to solve a problem.

That’s what the team lead should have done – suggest a solution to the problem.

As a team lead, he should have known that the artwork in question was already signed-off by the client.

He should have NEVER blamed anyone on any team.

I’m just glad he didn’t blame our client for approving artwork they didn’t like – that would have been a bigger fire to put out.

Never throw anyone on your team, or anyone’s team, under the bus.

I have never seen a personal or professional problem resolved by blame.

Blame is just a way to pass the buck. It shifts the attention away from working towards a solution, by pointing a finger at someone, and saying: “this is your fault!”

Blame is a huge problem in offices around the world. It creates hostile workplaces, where no one wants to be, because you never know if one day, you’ll be the one taking the blame.

Don’t blame people on your team, in your office, or in your company for anything ever.

Blame is bad for those you blame.

Blame is bad for those who blame you.

Blame is bad for the entire corporate culture, as it creates an environment of fear and angst.
Blame is bad – period.


Next time you feel the urge to blame someone, go punch a pillow, to relieve the stress, and then work out a solution that does not assign blame.

Because any solution that blames someone else isn’t a solution, it’s just another way of saying: “not my problem.”

As part of the team, every problem is yours – that’s the whole point of being on a team.

But that’s another rant, for another day.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Is Authenticity in Business Best?



Thanks to podcasting, social media and the very public world we’ve created for ourselves through similar technologies, there is a growing trend towards authenticity.

Want to succeed in romance, your career, business or anything in life? Just be yourself.

Tell it like it is.

I’m a big fan of some of the most popular blogs and podcasts in the entrepreneurial space which tell you to just be you, as the hosts demonstrate by just being themselves.

From the always informative and interesting Smart Passive Income blogs and podcasts, where host Pat Flynn shares his story of personal success – leaving the world of architecture, to start and run several successful online businesses.

To Entrepreneur on Fire, where host John Lee Dumas interviews successful entrepreneurs, sharing their stories of failure, success and tips for starting their own businesses.

I love these guys, for their bravery in being honest, true, and authentic.

There’s that word again.


It’s the new buzzword of the business world. Just be authentic while providing any product or service, and watch your customers line-up ‘round the corner.

If being authentic is the best thing to be, how come the biggest money makers online still dabble in the totally unauthentic worlds of sex and drugs?

Porn still makes up over 70 percent of the commerce traded online, according to several studies. The next biggest money maker online? Discount prescription drug sales, most notably, for erectile dysfunction – you know – that purple pill called Viagra.

Neither of these businesses uses authenticity to sell – quite the opposite! The whole porn industry is based on creating entertainment based on our fantasies.




And it is not just the realm of the online business world.

Yes, I’m a proud '100 percenter' – someone who’s listened to the Humble and Fred podcast since it first hit iTunes, and has listened to every episode then and since.

Humble and Fred two well-known Toronto radio personalities, have been together for a quarter of century, making listeners laugh with their silly – some may say offensive – fart and dick jokes.

Since embarking on their own entrepreneurial ventures, they boast about being authentic too. They talk about their lives, the lives of their guests, and share their blunt opinions about the world around them.

Their unique format has done them well -- although they began their podcast because they claim no radio station would hire them – since launching their authentic talk radio show, it has been picked up by several terrestrial radio stations, and has become the morning show on SiriusXM’s Canada Laughs channel.

Humble and Fred talk about being authentic as the key to their success – people don’t like being sold personality – they want the real deal.
Humble and Fred, Entrepreneur on Fire and the Smart Passive Income podcasts and blogs are among my favorite guilty pleasures when I have a moment to spare.

They are all exceptionally entertaining, and informative.

Yet, they always talk about being authentic.

Tell it like it is.

Yet we still live in world where the biggest businesses don’t.

Like the joy ride automakers take us on when they show off their latest cars, speeding down a narrow mountain road -- with lots of fine print about it being a closed course, and do not ever attempt what we're seeing.

To beer commercials still selling us good times over cold brews – with more fine print reminding us to please drink responsibly.

Even burger joints like McDonald’s are trying to sell us on their “healthy choices menu” even though the number one product McDonald’s sells are their French fries.

If the truth will set you free, and being authentic in business is the new norm, why are the biggest and most recognized brands on the planet still peddling products and services the old fashioned way?

Truth is, sometimes the truth hurts.

So being authentic just isn’t in the cards for most of our guilty pleasures.

Think about it – would you buy beer if the ads showed overweight men with beer bellies, getting into bar room brawls?

Probably not.



Clearly, authenticity isn’t always best.

Being authentic really depends on what it is you are selling.

If you’re selling entrepreneurship, being your own boss, and making it on your own – authenticity works. Authenticity works here, because it’s all in the self-improvement space.

However, if you’re selling things that are more status symbols – like high end sports cars – or ways to escape reality – like porn and beer – than being authentic could actually hurt your business.

So, does the truth set you free in business? Depends on the business.