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Insight

Understanding-Conversion-Rates

Understanding Conversion Rates

By | Insight, Startups, Website | One Comment

Conversion rate is a discussion I have with my startup clients on a regular basis.  It’s the rate at which a customer/user performs an activity you want them to perform.  It is often a telltale sign to answering whether or not what you’re offering is what customers are interested in using/buying. Read More

Focus

Focus

By | Insight, Startups | No Comments

I’ve been guilty of ignoring my own advice.  I haven’t been focusing on my business as I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cutoff going after multiple opportunities.  Don’t get me wrong, these opportunities have been amazing and will likely lead to further work, but I just haven’t spent time giving any love to this business. Read More

Long Tail Keywords

By | Insight, Software, Technology | No Comments

In the world of the Internet, specialization (niche business) has been a growing trend as a way to combat larger businesses.  You may never be able to get the sales volumes of someone like Amazon, but you’ll get dedicated customers looking specifically for your niche product/service.

So why not use the same tactic for SEO?

Read More

Get to Know the Land Before Moving

By | Insight, Startups | No Comments

If you’re getting started in something new, breaking into a new industry or exploring a new customer base I would suggest you ask yourself one question: Do I really know this space/industry/product/customer/etc?

My experience tells me that we often blind ourselves with the excitement of an opportunity. We feel that our skills will translate immediately and things can’t be really any different from what we’ve done in the past. Also, we often come from a land that we’ve grown to dislike so much that we feel that anything would be better; the grass is greener conundrum.

Get to Know the Land Before Moving

If you really want to try your hand at something new why not become an employee first? The risk is removed and the stress isn’t yours to bear. It may slow things up a bit or you may miss out on an opportunity, but it may save you greater pain in the end.

Now, I naturally haven’t done as I have written here, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

Whatever your choice, good luck and enjoy the ride.

Is Silicon Valley Really Public Enemy No. 1?

By | Insight, Startups | No Comments

Post copied from my article on Kikai Mining
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Just finished reading an interesting article by @DannyCrichton on TechCrunch.

The article is entitled “Silicon Valley Is Now Public Enemy No. 1, And We Only Have Ourselves To Blame.” Danny points out that public sentiment on startups has begun to sway against them.

Oh great! I switched my career last year to focus solely on building my own startups and helping other startups.

But apparently not all is lost. The reason for this trend appears to be a PR issue for the startup community. Here you have hot-shot, 20-year-olds who are appearing to avoid the trend of working their entire lives to be ‘successful’*, upending entire industries and not really doing much to improve the communities in which they work. So pretty much, don’t be cocky, complement vs. destroy and give back. Good thing it’s simple to solve.

It’s not that easy to solve

Wait? Didn’t I just say it was simple?

It’s not that easy. The rate of change in business has been astounding and naturally there will be some push back. Startups are so focused on Minimum Viable Products, Cost per conversion rates, Business Models, Pitches and Investors that there is very little time to think about the overall impact you might have to society. You’re passionate about your solution and you know it’s better than anything else out there. I’ve been there and I’m living it. I focus so much energy on begin successful (in a business sense) that the other aspects aren’t often considered.

What’s a startup to do?

Here are some initial thoughts that I’ve considered.  I’ll certainly be thinking more about this as I continue with my startup-based career:

  • Give back – mentor, volunteer, donate.  I do all 3 because it helps my community and makes me a better businessman.
  • Can you complement instead of compete? – Your idea might be awesome, but does it necessarily have to compete in the industry?  Reality is that if the industry is big enough you can probably make plenty of money without directly competing.
  • Be humble and thankful – yep, you worked hard to get where you are, but i’m pretty sure you’ve had a lot of help along the way.  I know I have.
  • Sometimes you can’t win – Even if you know the fight is the right thing to do and you’ll prevail, it doesn’t necessary mean anyone wins.

* Success in my mind is not determined by material wealth, but by what you do with the opportunity.

[Read the whole article at TechCrunch]

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

By | Insight | No Comments

Since my wife and I are now both self-employed, we find that nights and weekends are often spent working and building our businesses.

My advice: Take time to enjoy life.

Although we both love the work we do, we realize that it’s important to take time to relax and have fun. Re-energize your spirit and make the time. Schedule if you have to.

A couple ideas:

  • Take advantage of happy hours that start at 4pm. Everyone else is working, so you’ll get great service.
  • Join a sports team. This makes you get out of the house and burn off some steam.
  • Take your lunch break. Schedule lunch meetings with people, head to the gym or hit the forest for a hike.
  • Play a board game. You’re relaxing, challenging your brain in other ways and spending time with those you love. Check out Relic Runners; new game I got for Christmas that is pretty good.

How do you relax as an entrepreneur? Let me know.

My Stress as an Entrepreneur

By | Insight | 2 Comments

Stress comes in many forms and is inherently based on how we cope with adversity. I’d like to share a little bit about my view on stress as an entrepreneur in my first year.

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I took the plunge last year to focus on businesses I run (or help run). My brain still continues to ask daily, “Was that such a good idea?” I respond in-kind to my brain, “Yes. Now leave me alone, I need to get working.”

So what is different now?

I’m not going to say that I don’t have stress now, I do. Probably even more so. The difference now is how that stress affects my overall quality of life.

Before I would ask myself questions like:

  • Am I doing the right thing and reaching my full potential?
  • There has to be more to life than this, right?
  • Is it 5pm yet? It’s only 2?!? Crap.

It really wasn’t a fun way to live my “working” existence that unfortunately took up a majority of my time. I took it home, it ruined my time off and worst of all, I felt purposeless. I tried finding purpose in what I was doing, but really struggled. So I quit.

How is stress different now?

I’m happy to report that I no longer dread Sundays. I get lost in my work because it’s challenging and fun. I am more willing to put myself out there, try things and meet new people.

It was scary at first (and still a bit scary now), but I trust myself. I trust those things I know right now and trust in my ability to learn those things I’ll need.

I work more now than I ever did before, but I don’t mind. The money is much tighter now, which is a newer stress, but it’s one I can handle. It actually energizes me into coming up with strategies to ensure I won’t have to worry about next month. It’s a motivator I enjoy.

I can’t say this would be for everyone, but my soul thanks me for taking this leap.

What about you?

If you’re considering starting a business or leaving your current job to look for something better, I whole heartedly recommend it. Quit listening to your brain and take the chance; eventually it will come around.

I’ll try to share more as time goes on in my life as an entrepreneur.

Left v Right

Right Brain vs. Left Brain Test

By | Insight | No Comments

I’m currently working on developing a business with a couple of my friends. The company is called Kikai Mining. We answer the question: How do I innovate?

One key aspect of innovation is being creative. I’ve long known that I’m a relatively balanced left brain (analytical) / right brain (creative) individual, but I’ve never put it to the test. Today, I did.

Many sites today offer a free creativity test, but I decided to take one offered by The Art Institutes. It’s was a quick test that had me answering questions about what I like, how I like to learn and what I like to do with my time.

Here are the results:

53% left brain / 47% right brain

Great. Confirmed what I already suspected.

What I found more interesting was what followed because there are predominant traits that fall under each category. I’ll paste what they are below:

Predominant Left Brain Trait > Linear Processing

Linear processing is a method by the left hemisphere to process information. In this process, the left brain takes pieces of information, lines them up, and proceeds to arrange them into an order from which it may draw a conclusion. The information is processed from parts to a whole in a straight, forward, and logical progression.

Your Linear Analysis

When processing information using this method, you will occasionally feel the need to see the “whole picture” before you are able to achieve results. At other times, you are able to piece all of the parts together in a straight and logical progression to form a whole, which then enables you to understand what you have processing. The information, your mood, and your level of comfortable are all factors that determine your response to a linear processing problem.

Predominant Right Brain Trait > Concrete Processing

Concrete processing is a method associated with the right hemisphere that is used for processing things that can be seen or touched. It processes much of the information you receive from real objects. For example, a right-brained person is not just satisfied that a mathematical formula may work, but will want to know why it works. A strongly concrete person often finds it easier to solve a mathematical problem by “drawing it out” because it allows them to visualize it. The more a concrete person can visualize something the easier it is for them to understand it.

Your Concrete Analysis

You are strong in concrete processing. When you process information about things that can be seen or touched you show great comfort. But when contemplating something without concrete form, you may have difficulty, and attempt to understand what is trying to be processed in visual terms. For example, if solving a math problem, it would help you to “draw out” the problem and visualize it. Only after visualization, would you feel comfortable solving it.

Conclusion

This test was pretty spot on for me. Certainly there are some nuances here, but for a test that was designed for the masses I’m pretty impressed.

Take the test for yourself at http://www.testyourcreativity.com/ and let me know what you think.

Other Tests

http://99u.com/articles/7160/test-your-creativity-5-classic-creative-challenges
http://www.testmycreativity.com/
http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/creativity-quiz.htm

Slackline

Working with WordPress Themes

By | Insight, Website, Wordpress | No Comments

I’ve recently taken a liking to developing websites using WordPress themes. I can ensure mobile-ready, responsive designs with modern styling and plenty of freedom to make it unique for each customer. They usually run between $30 – $60, offering a low-cost alternative to custom design work that I used to focus on 100%.

So what is it like to work with WordPress themes as a designer? I love it … once I figure it all out.

As a disclaimer, I’m not a programing guy. I know my way around HTML and CSS pretty well, but any further and my brain ninja chops the back of my eyeballs. I’d love to learn, but so far I’ve been able to get away without it. Enter themes.  This is a brief impression of my working with WordPress themes:

What I love about WordPress themes:

  • Responsive design > works on any device
  • Layout design is done > …for the most part
  • No coding > cross-browser CSS was just annoying and I get less headaches.
  • Saves Time > I can support more clients now and rapidly create sites.
  • Great Set of Plugins > This is more a wordpress thing, but this makes life much easier.  These often come with the themes.

What I don’t love about WordPress themes:

  • Creativity Reduced > I’ve outsourced the most creative part
  • Inconsistencies > The headache of figuring out a new theme. Different developer means different approach and tools
  • It’s Not Drag-and-Drop > I don’t mind this actually, but you need to know your way around WordPress/HTML/CSS
  • Relatively Heavy > Meaning that the code isn’t the most efficient and can easily slow things down