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It takes much inertia to push a customer to use another product, says Harvard's Amar Bhide. When you're small, and cash-strapped, you can't compete against million-dollar marketing campaigns. What if you're selling $5 items, and you figure your target sales goal is $250,000 for the first year? You'd have to make 50,000 customers switch their minds. Usually, that's an impossible task. Says Bhide, if you're a startup, and low on marketing cash, it's much wiser and more efficient to focus on higher-priced items. The less number of minds you have to change, the better your chances are at succeeding in your startup business. Says Professor Bhide, "Successful entrepreneurs often pick high-ticket products and services where their personal passion, salesmanship, and willingness to go the extra mile can substitute for a big marketing budget."
Posted on April 19

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For those of you working with any IT professional (including us), make sure you get the project scope right. What you want may not be what your IT consultant thinks you want. Likewise, if you're an IT professional, it pays -- literally, and figuratively -- to *drumroll* listen. That's why for our clients, we prefer images over words. That way, we can reduce as much confusion as possible -- as depicted in the comic.
Posted on April 18

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I ran across another site that got me thinking. As I'm writing a questionnaire for one of my favorite clients, I thought about something: is the questionnaire too boring? Can I spice it up somehow? Take one a look at New York's glitzy, NYCPeach, and what do get get? My first reaction: "Hey, filling out that questionnaire looks pretty fun." Although I wouldn't in my life dare decorate my cell phone, I know my female friends would. And, they'd have fun doing it. The moral? Make traditionally boring items, such as your questionnaires, FUN! It's so easy, yet so few people do it. Remember: A happy customer who enjoys doing business with you becomes a happy referral source. Let us know how that method treats you.
Posted on April 18

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I was watching an interesting CNBC special Made in America on the iconic Starbucks brand. One quote struck me: invest ahead of the growth curve. What does this actually mean? It means you should wait to grow your business until you have the foundation in place. You'll need the right people to handle that growth. You'll need the right sales infrastructure, the right systems, and a solid vision on where you want your company to go long-term. Its founder and chairman Howard Schultz presented an analogy comparing growth to constructing towers. To build a hundred levels, you'll need a solid foundation in place. Without it, your business will topple under quick growth.
Posted on April 17

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With a new web era coming, a new marketing approach will take shape. I ran through a good article from BusinessWeek's technology section, entitled: "Building Good Web Buzz." Says the author Burt Helm, web startups increasingly are using untraditional ways to advertise their wares--including blogging, and partnering with other Web 2.0 aficionados. They're also finding a way to keep users on their site:
An important early step: Give users a reason to hang around. Make at least some of your tools and features free, says Lynn Stott, director of TechSoup, a Web site that offers tech tips and advice for nonprofit groups. "Too often, small businesses really wanted to keep everything close to the chest, and charge for everything -- but you've got to prime the pump a little bit," says Stott. Give potential customers time to play around on the site, whether with snazzy tools or articles with related news or advice, and it will help them build trust in your little startup and warm them to the idea of doing business there.
You can find the text here.
Posted on April 16

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You asked for it, and we (hopefully!) delivered. Now on our homepage, you'll see a random collection of business features and articles from our journal Learn Business Stuff. We affectionately titled the section: "Don't Lose Another Customer." It includes a random list of articles from business categories, and our latest and favorite articles listed for your viewing (and learning!) pleasure. We strive to improve your online experience constantly. So, if you're dying for a feature, let us know! Please don't hesitate to shoot us an email at
Posted on April 15

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It's Friday! We're feeling generous, and who knows: we could be doing this weekly. As a gift to you wonderful readers, we're giving away 10 free Think and Grow Rich books by one of our favorite bestselling authors and philosophers, Napoleon Hill. A man filled with such gems as, "A goal is a dream with a deadline," "No man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like," "Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel," how can you not love the man?

"Okay, so how do I get my free book?"

Simply shoot us an email at with a question about improving your business. For example: "How do I market my new widget?" Your questions will help us cater our site more to you and to other businesss-builders. If you're the 11th, 21st, 31st, 41st, 51st, 61st, 71st, 81st, 91st, or 101st person to send in a question, we'll bubblewrap a fresh, new copy of Think and Grow Rich--and FedEx it hot to your door. (Oh, and we'll answer every e-mailed question. No strings, advertisements, spam, junk attached. Promise!) The contest ends Friday, April 14, at 5 p.m Pacific Time; with one entry per participant; and open to everybody in the U.S. (Sorry, we don't have contest lawyers in other countries). So, get those questions in to!
Posted on April 14

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According to Business Week and the Boston Consulting Group, lengthy development times is the biggest enemy to innovation. Followed by that, in order, are: (2) lack of coordination, (3) risk-adverse culture, (4) limited customer insight, (5t) poor idea selection, (5t) inadequate measurement tools, (7t) dearth of ideas, and (7t) marketing or communication failure. What to take from this? Get your product out quickly, even if you're still in alpha stage. If you're striving for perfection, like anything else, you'll never release your product.
Posted on April 13

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The average entrepreneur gives up because s/he hasn't seen quick results. It's a typical mistake because magazines, newspapers, and the media bombard us with "overnight" success stories. If we look underneath those successes, we'd see companies that slowly but surely built its foundation first. The foundation drove its gradual momentum, and finally to its "overnight" success. Jim Collins calls that steady momentum the flywheel effect:
Right now, the flywheel is at a standstill. To get it moving, you make a tremendous effort. You push with all your might, and finally you get the flywheel to inch forward. After two or three days of sustained effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster. It takes a lot of work, but at last the flywheel makes a second rotation. You keep pushing steadily. It makes three turns, four turns, five, six. With each turn, it moves faster, and then -- at some point, you can''t say exactly when -- you break through. The momentum of the heavy wheel kicks in your favor. It spins faster and faster, with its own weight propelling it. You aren't pushing any harder, but the flywheel is accelerating, its momentum building, its speed increasing.
If you're not seeing quick financial results, take heed: the most successful companies started out the same way.
Posted on April 12

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The less time your customer can spend between "Add to Cart" and "Submit Order," the higher conversions you'll have. Too bad most online shopping stores forget this--and instead, require the user to fill out lengthy and unnecessary registration forms. Does the user really need to register to the site when you can get information from them after they complete the transaction? Probably not. Imagine your online checkout process as a checkout line at the Supermarket. If it takes too long for the customer to get from Point A to Point Z, you'll lose a hefty percentage of your transactions. The golden rule: the more you lessen the average user time between "Add to Cart" and "Submit Order" the happier both your bottom line and your customers will be.
Posted on April 11

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