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“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
-- John Wooden

15 Inspiring Entrepreneur Quotes from Successful Entrepreneurs

Ford Motor Company of Argentina

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I found a great blog the other day called Inspiration Feed.  It has a lot of awesome design and graphic content.

My favorite post so far is one called “50 Inspiring Entrepreneur Startup Quotes.”  The post is incredible.

Following are 15 of my favorite quotes from this post.  Make sure you check out Inspiration Feed to read the rest of the quotes.

Here you go:

Quote #1
“Stay self-funded as long as possible.”
-Garrett Camp, co-founder of StumbleUpon

Quote #2
“Forget about your competitors, just focus on your customers.”
-Jack Ma, lead founder of Alibaba

Quote #3
“Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”
-Mark Cuban, co-founder of HDNet

Quote #4
“We live in a world where you’re not being eaten by a lion when you fail, you just have to get another job.”
-Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch

Quote #5
“If you’re building a product, you can’t be afraid of hearing criticism about it.”
-Kyle Bragger, co-founder of Forrst

Quote #6
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
-Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter

Quote #7
“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”
-Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle

Quote #8
“The lean startup method is not about cost, it is about speed.”
-Eric Ries, Blogger of Startup Lessons Learned

Quote #9
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
-Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company

Quote #10
“Always deliver more than expected.”
-Larry Page, co-founder of Google

Quote #11
“The cost of hiring someone bad is so much greater than missing out on someone good.”
-Joe Kraus, partner in Google Ventures

Quote #12
“Don’t let people tell you your ideas are stupid – if you’re really passionate about something, find a way to build it.”
-Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare

Quote #13
“Any time is a good time to start a company.”
-Ron Conway, co-founder of SV Angel

Quote #14
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
-Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

Quote #15
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
-Walt Disney, co-founder of Walt Disney

Which quote is your favorite?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Sources:

Igor Ovsyannykov, 50 Inspiring Entrepreneur Startup Quotes, Inspiration Feed

New domain — JosephWesley.com

Hi, everyone.

This is a quick update to let you all know that I have a new domain address — JosephWesley.com. If you want to get here quickly or if you want to pass the address on to someone else, that’s the domain that I’ll be using from here on out.

Thanks for stopping by.

Joseph

Listening to Your Customers is Important for Incremental Improvements, Just Not for Innovation

Two examples of the T39m, on the left is the C...

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In my last post I mentioned that listening to your customers is not a good innovation strategy.  This may lead you to think that listening to your customers is a bad idea.  Actually, that’s not the case.

Listening to your customers is very important, especially for incremental improvements.  If you’ve already decided on a product, and you’re trying to improve it, getting feedback from customers is a good idea.

You can ask customers what they would improve about your product, or if there are any problems.  For example, if you release a software product, you can ask if there are any bugs.  If there are, you’ll want to fix those bugs as fast as you can.  The best way to do that is to get feedback from your customers.  You can do that by posting a big “FEEDBACK HERE” button on your website.

This is how you make incremental product improvements.  In other words, this is how you tweak a product.

But if you want to make a leap in product innovation, listening to your customers is not the way to go.

Like I mentioned in the last post, customers don’t know what they want next.  They can tell you what they like and don’t like about your current product, but they can’t tell you what the next great product will be.

If you want to make the jump from a flip phone to the iPhone, you can’t rely on your customers to do the job.  Figuring out what the next great product will be is the job of innovative designers.

The lesson is this: if you’re just trying to improve a product that you’ve already launched, then by all means tap into your customer base for feedback.  Ask them if they can think of any ways to improve your product or if there are any bugs.  Get feedback from every customer you can.

But if you want to make the next iPad, don’t leave the job to your customers.  Set up an innovation team with the most creative minds you can get in one room, and let them go to work.  If you do, you just might come up with the next iPad.  Besides, someone has to do it.  The next great idea is just around the corner.  Are you going to let Steve Jobs do it again?

Related Posts:

Why Listening to Your Customers is Not an Innovation Strategy

Why Listening to Customers is Not an Innovation Strategy

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The first thing a marketer should do is listen to customers, right?  If the goal is innovation, Mark Cuban says the answer is no.

In an April 2010 blog entry, Mr. Cuban wrote a post titled “Why You Should NEVER Listen to Your Customers.”  He quoted Alan Kay who said that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.

This is consistent with two other innovative thinkers – Steve Jobs and Paul Graham.  Here’s what they had to say:

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” - Steve Jobs

For [a product] to surprise me, it must be satisfying expectations I didn’t know I had. No focus group is going to discover those. Only a great designer can.” – Paul Graham

When designing a product, it’s easy to think that customers will lead you to the next great thing.  If you can just get a group of them into a room and ask enough questions, you’ll discover the next great product.

According to these four innovative thinkers, this is not the case because people don’t know what they want.  They know what they like or dislike about what they currently have, but they can’t predict what they will want next.

If companies want to be innovative, they need good designers and they need to invent the next big thing themselves.  This is what Apple does.

Apple invents the future.  With the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, Apple took each product category to another level.  Instead of making the next standard mp3 player, smart phone, or tablet PC, Apple invented the future.  They defined the market.

If companies want to catch up with Apple, focus groups aren’t the answer.  Hiring great designers and spending more time and effort on innovative thinking will lead to the next great product.  For innovation, listening to your customers is not the answer; inventing the future is.

 

Sources:

Mark Cuban, Why You Should NEVER Listen to Your Customers, Blogmaverick

Steve Jobs, Quotations Page

Paul Graham, Quotations Page

 

A quick survey

5 Tips for How to Pick the Best Domain Name

Image representing Yahoo! as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There are a lot of tips about how to pick the best domain name.  Which ones are the most important?  The following are five of the most important tips for picking the best domain name.

Tip #1: Use your company name.

Yes, this is probably common sense, but if you’re looking for a domain name for your company, the first place to start is with your company name as the domain name.

By using your company name, any time a customer looks you up by your name, they’ll find you online.  Also, if your company name is unique enough, you’ll automatically rank high in searches that use it.

Again, using your company name as a domain name is pretty much a no brainer.  But if for any reason your company name isn’t available or it breaks one of the rules below, you may want to pick a different name.  Keep reading to find out if that’s the case.

Tip #2: Make sure your domain name is easy to remember.

If you tell your domain name to a customer on the street or over the phone, they should be able to remember it the next time they get online.  If it’s too difficult to spell or too complicated, it can be hard to remember.  The less complicated and the easier it is to remember, the better.

As an example, Yahoonews.com is easier to remember than News.Yahoo.com (even though news.yahoo.com is the address for Yahoo’s news site).

To test the new name, tell your domain name to a friend or family member and see if they remember it the next time you talk to them.  If they don’t, you might want to consider a different address.

Tip #3: Keep it short and sweet.

As long as it is easy to remember, the shorter the domain name, the better.  The top online companies have succeeded in keeping their domain names short and sweet.

Some examples are: Google.com, eBay.com, ESPN.com, and CNN.com.  The list goes on and on.  The less your customers have to type, the less likely they are to make a mistake.

Dots, dashes, and hyphens also happen to make addresses harder to type.  Leave those out if you can.

Keeping a domain name easy to remember is the number one rule.  After that, the most important rule is to make sure a domain name is as short and sweet as possible.

Tip #4: Choose a unique name.

If you have the choice, unique names are easier to remember and more likely to still be available.  If your company name is unique, that’s great.  Go with that.

If you’re naming a company based on the domain name you pick, make it unique.  Most of the big successful internet companies started out this way.  They picked unique, memorable names.

Some great examples are Google.com, Yahoo.com, Amazon.com, Wufoo.com, and Wikipedia.com.  All five picked names that stand out from the internet crowd.

Tip #5: Consider keywords.

Unless you are using your company name as a domain name, you might want to consider keywords.  By including keywords in your domain name, you’ll receive a slight boost in search engine rankings.  It’s not enough of a boost to make a big difference, but if you can’t decide between two names, go with the name that uses a keyword.

For example, if the name of your company is Green Ham Marketing and GreenHam.com is already taken, you could pick the name GreenHamMarketing.com.

Again, the other tips are more important than this one. But if it comes down to picking two similar names, consider this tip to be the tie breaker.

 

Illustration #1:

An example of using the five above tips is a hypothetical company called Trophemus Racing Equipment. Possible domain names are:

  1. TrophemusRacingEquipment.com
  2. TrophemusRacing.com
  3. Trophemus.com

Going down the checklist, all three domain names use the company name and are easy to remember.  Moving on to tip number three, Trophemus.com separates itself from the other two; it’s the shortest and the sweetest.  Trophemus.com is also the most unique of the three names (check for tip number four).  Finishing with tip number five, the first two names rank higher than the third, but since the first four tips are more important, they outweigh any benefit from tip number five.

Winner: Trophemus.com

 

Illustration #2

Company number two is Blue Fish Media – a social media marketing company.  Possible domain names are:

  1. BlueFishMarketing.com
  2. BlueFishMedia.com
  3. BlueFish.com

Based on the checklist method used above, BlueFish.com would be the best option.  It uses the company name, it’s memorable, it’s short and sweet, and it’s unique.  Awesome, we’ve got another winner.  Wait a second, actually, we don’t.  Bluefish.com is already taken.

What now?  Well, the first two domain names seem to be a tie based on tips one through four.  Since they are tied, I would go with BlueFishMedia.com as a better SEO name since it will be easier to rank highly for media than for marketing.  If you think that the first name is more optimized, then go with that one.

Winner: BlueFishMedia.com

 

Summary

To begin, consider how to use your company name in the domain name.  By default, people will want to type YourCompanyName.com to go to your website.  Start here.

After that, the most important part of a company domain name is for it to be as memorable as possible.  If you tell a customer your web address, you want them to be able to get to your website the next time they get online.  And the next time.  That’s tough if they can’t remember what you told them.  Make sure the domain name is memorable.

Next, keep the domain name short and sweet.  The shorter and sweeter it is, the easier it will be to type in (and the less likely there will be typos).  Remember — short and sweet is the easiest to type.

Fourth, choose a unique name.  With millions of websites clouding the internet, you want to shine brightly through the competition.  Accomplish this by choosing a unique domain name.

(As a side note, you may even become the next person to get businesspeople to say funny words in board rooms.  I’m convinced that the founders of Wufoo.com and ooVoo.com give each other high fives for successfully making executives across the country say “wufoo” and “ooVoo.”  Props to them.)

Lastly, in the case of a tie, consider SEO as a way to decide between two very similar names.  Don’t start here, but end here if you have to.

So there you have it – 5 Tips for How to Pick the Best Web Address for Your Company.  Good luck picking yours!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Related posts:

How to Personalize Your Facebook URL

 

30 Insightful Albert Einstein Quotes

 

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in ...

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I’ve been thinking about the first quote on this list for a long time – “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”  It implies that you can only learn so much by reading; eventually, you have to start doing.  Whether it’s business, marketing, entrepreneurship or life, at some point the rubber has to hit the road, and that’s when you really start to learn.  Quote number 25 on this list supports that – “The only source of knowledge is experience.”

These quotes range from insightful to humorous.  Make sure you catch number 30.  It’s the most hilarious.

Enjoy the read.

1.  “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

2.  “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

3.  “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

4.  “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”

5.  “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

6.  “God always takes the simplest way.”

7.  “God does not play dice.”

8.  “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

9.  “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.”

10. “I want to know all Gods thoughts; all the rest are just details.”

11. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

12. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

13. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

14. “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

15. “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

16. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

17. “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be”

18. “Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

19. “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”

20. “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

21. “You ask me if I keep a notebook to record my great ideas. I’ve only ever had one.”

22. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

23. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

24. “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

25. “The only source of knowledge is experience.”

26. “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

27. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

28. “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

29. “We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.”

30. “The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.”

Which quote is your favorite?  Let everyone know by leaving a comment below.

 

More Einstein Quotes:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_einstein.html

4 Classy Sales Lessons You Can Learn from Bostonian to Increase Sales and Boost Profits

Bostonian Oxford Shoes

Bostonian sells premium men’s shoes in a number of upscale malls.  As a purveyer of premium shoes, Bostonian uses classy sales methods that can benefit anyone in sales.

Read through the following four lessons and see what you can learn about selling from Bostonian.

Special note: I came up with the content for this post after a recent visit to a Bostonian store.  These lessons may or may not be methods that Bostonian teaches its employees.

Lesson #1: Offer a money back guarantee.

It seems counterintuitive that money back guarantees would be a way to make more money.  It seems more likely that money back guarantees would be a way to lose money.  This might be true if a product is terrible, but as long as it’s not, offering a money back guarantee increases sales and boosts profits.

Bostonian offers to return any unworn shoes within 365 days of the purchase date.  Yes, that’s anytime within the first 365 days.  This may not seem like that big of a deal because what customer will return a pair of shoes 365 days later.  Regardless, a guarantee like this often gives people the confidence they need to make a purchase.  If a customer is wavering between whether or not to buy a product, knowing that it can be returned anytime over the next year can make the difference.

Consider two household cleaners where one offers a guarantee and the other doesn’t.  If a customer is trying to decide between the two cleaners, he might think, “This cleaner says that if I’m not satisfied for any reason, I can get my money back.  But this other one doesn’t have a guarantee.  I wonder why they don’t have a guarantee.  I’ll go with the one that does.”  Even though the customer will likely never take the product back, if in doubt, he’ll choose the guarantee.

As you may have noticed, guarantees are low risk because most people won’t ask for a refund.  If it’s broken, they’ll take it back; if it doesn’t fit, they’ll return it.  But if it just doesn’t quite work the way they thought it would, they probably won’t make the effort to get a refund.  Even if the guarantee convinced them to buy a product, they won’t go through the trouble of taking it back.

Additional tip:

Guarantees can also be formulated to lower risk.  In Bostonian’s case, shoes can be returned within 365 days, as long as they haven’t been worn yet.  Since unused shoes can still be sold, Bostonian’s risk decreases.

Lesson #2: Always remember to upsell.

If a customer is looking at a $60 product, that’s great.  He’s in the store, and he’s looking around.  But once the time is right, don’t forget to mention how much better the $90 version of that product is.  He may still end up buying the $60 version, but if he decides to spring for the $90 one, you make an extra $30.

Bostonian accomplishes this by subtly offering the more expensive version.  If a you are  looking at a $60 pair of shoes, Bostonian will let you try them on and walk around.  But before you have the chance to make a decision, the salesperson will skillfully show a $90 pair.  It’s only $30 more but offers more than $30 worth of comfort.  You might as well just try them on.

Additional Tip:

The best way to offer an upsell is subtly and with class.  McDonald’s asks if you’d like to supersize your meal, but that’s not quite as classy as a subtle suggestion (although, it is a great example of upselling).

Another company that’s been getting into the upselling game is Starbucks.  Instead of just taking your order, they now ask if you’d like a Venti for only $0.50 more.  Personally this annoys me because if I wanted a Venti I would have ordered it.

As you can see, offering an upsell can be tricky.  From a bottom-line perspective, asking for an upsell makes sense; from a customer service perspective, asking for an upsell with class makes the most sense.

Lesson #3: Offer a buy one get one half off deal.

This sales idea isn’t rocket science.  If a customer buys one product at full price and gets another product for half off, you make profit on the second pair of shoes at half off.  Sure the profit is less than what it would be if the customer bought both pairs at full price, but he probably wouldn’t buy two pairs without a buy one get one half off deal.  And if customers buy more pairs of shoes than they would otherwise, companies come out ahead.

Bostonian frequently offers buy one get one half off deals.  The last time I was in the store, they were offering a “buy one pair of shoes get the second half off” sale.  Most men don’t buy two pairs of shoes at a time.  Keep in mind, the next pair a customer buys could be at a different store.  By offering a buy one get one half off, companies increase the chance making more money off of each customer.

Additional tip:

In case you haven’t noticed, “buy one get one half off” is better than “buy one get one free.”  In the second case, you’re giving something away for free.  In the first case, you’re still making money on both products.  If you get the customer to buy a second product in the same visit, you’ve made extra money.  You’ve sold them something they probably wouldn’t have bought otherwise.  They save some money, you make a little less, but in the end, everyone’s happy.

Also, you won’t want to offer this all of the time.  If you do, customers will come to expect it.  Instead, offer it now and again, as a good way to stimulate sales.

Lesson #4: Don’t forget about Accessories.

Not everyone knows this, but stores have the highest profit margin on accessories.  The profit margin for socks and belts is much higher than the profit margin for shoes and clothes.  If you’ve ever wondered why salespeople try to add on accessories at the end of a purchase, this is why.

Bostonian does this by keeping belts and socks next to the register.  While a customer is paying for a pair of shoes, the salesperson asks, “Would you like some socks or a belt to go with your shoes?”  It’s only natural for the customer to need a belt or dress socks to match his new shoes.

Additional Tip:

Suggesting appropriate accessories is the way to make accessory sales with class.  In other words, don’t force accessories on customers.  Instead, simply ask them if they need an accessory to go with what they’ve purchased.  As long as it isn’t obnoxious, most customers won’t even notice.

It’s also best to keep accessories close to the cash register.  Whatever you can add-on at the end of a sale is lagniappe (Cajun French for “something extra, a bonus.”).

 

Summary

Based on these four tips, you can re-consider your sales process.  Here’s how—

Step 1: Do you offer a guarantee?  If not, think about how to offer one in a way that will minimize risk.

Step 2: If you’ve never used a “buy one get one half off sale,” consider how to use one for a sales boost.  Test it for a month to see how it works.  If it does, you can rinse and repeat periodically throughout the year.

Step 3: You should also train salespeople to subtly ask for upsells.  By asking for an upsell with class, you can increase sales and boost profits.

Step 4: Lastly, don’t forget about accessories.  It’s a little here and a little there, but high profit margin accessories add up.

So again, re-evaluate your sales process and see if any of these tips can increase your sales and boost profits.

Good luck.

 

How to Personalize Your Facebook URL

For those who don’t know yet, Facebook urls can now be personalized.  If you haven’t done this already, your address will look like the first one below.  By changing the address, you can make it look like the second one (with your name in place of blaise.dipersia).

To do this, all you have to do is change your Facebook username.  Here’s how to do that—

Step 1:

First, make sure you are logged in to Facebook.  After you are, go to www.facebook.com/username/.

Step 2:

Once there, you’ll see possible usernames for your account.  The page will look like the picture below.

You can choose one of the pre-selected names or choose one of your own.  If you pick one of the pre-selected names, you’ll click “Set Username.”  If you choose your own, you’ll be asked to “Check Availability.”

Keep in mind that Facebook has made it nearly impossible to change a username once it’s been selected.  Whatever username you pick will be the new url for your account.   You only get to choose one time, so make sure you like the one you pick.

Step 3:

Once you decide on a user name, click “Confirm” to claim your new url.  It will look like this — facebook.com/yourusername.

Recap

If you’d like to personalize your facebook page and make it easier to let people know how to find you, it only takes three easy steps to change the url for your page.  Once changed, you’ll have a new web address for your facebook account.  Consider this your Facebook real estate.  Make sure to get yours while it’s still available.

For more information on this, check out:

http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=897

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10263034-36.html

A Lesson from Warren Buffett on How to Make the Best Business Decisions

 

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...

Image via Wikipedia

 

When you’re about to make a business decision, who should you go to for advice?  People who will tell you what you want to hear, or people who will tell you what you need to hear?  Based on a lesson from Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world according to the Forbes list of billionaires, you may want to reconsider your strategy.

A recent McKinsey Quarterly article mentioned that Warren Buffett hires an advisor to talk him out of making business deals, and  he compensates the adviser well only if the deal doesn’t go through.  In other words, when Mr. Buffett is thinking about purchasing a company, he hires someone to do his best to convince him why buying the company is a bad idea.  Not only does he pay the advisor to do this, he gives him a bonus if and only if the advisor talks him out of purchasing the company.

Why would Mr. Buffett do this?  He does this because, when making a decision of this magnitude, it’s worthwhile to look at every angle make sure the deal is a good deal.  If it’s not a good deal, the money lost from making a poor acquisition will be much greater than what an advisor paid.  In the end, it’s better to face criticism before you make a decision than it is to face the consequences of a bad decision.

So how does this apply to you?  Here’s how – it’s better to ask people for criticism than it is to ask them to agree with you.  For example, if you’re thinking about starting a company and pitch your idea to family and friends, it’s better to ask them what they don’t like than what they do like.  This is even more important if you really like an idea, because if you do, you’ll likely influence whether or not other people like the idea.  Instead of getting advice, you’ll get a cheer squad.  That’s not what you need.

What you do need are people who will tell you what you need to hear.  What you need are people who will poke holes in the idea and point out flaws.  Even if you end up starting the business, the fact that someone has already pointed out its weaknesses can make the difference between whether or not your business will succeed.

If you’re thinking about starting a business, make sure you find some smart people who aren’t afraid to tell you what they think.  You can even encourage them to find weaknesses instead of acting like a cheerleader.  Having someone like this in your corner can be the difference between succeeding and failing.

Other Posts:

7 Priceless Business Quotes from Warren Buffett

How to Personalize Your Facebook URL

 

Sources:

Andrew Campbell and Jo Whitehead, How to test your decision-making instincts, McKinsey Quarterly

Luisa Kroll and Matthew Miller, The World’s Billionaires, Forbes

 

 

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