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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The month of Google- first off google text

So I thought since I was taking the week off I would put the focus on google. We all know that google will eventually take over the free world but many people are not aware of some of the free services that they offer, because they have so many! So I will take some time this week to talk about some of the services that can help small business and that are kind of cool.

For todays post I am going to talk about google text. This amazing SMS technology brings google search right to your phone. Not everyone out there can afford the internet on their phone but many of us have splurged for the unlimited texting (my self included). You can ask google the weather in your zip code. Try it right now text weather (your zip code) to 466453 ('GOOGLE' on most devices). It sends an instant reply with the local weather. You can search for local business listing, movie times, directions and even see if your flight is running on time.

Google you have done it again. As google spills over to the mobile world, expect to see more advancements in the future. Maybe even the Gphone? Maybe even the ability to log onto the Google wireless network? So that you can have free wifi on your phone and computer. Who knows, I would like to see google win the spectrum bid but it will be about a year till we see who the winner of the auction is.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What is your New Years Resolution for Business?

I am pretty sure everyone says that they will go to the gym and lose weight for the new year. I am pretty sure I have used this one several times and I am still waiting to hit my A few weeks ago I heard a speech from Ryan the creator of iContact. He described his plan to BHAG, a big hairy audacious goal. He want on to explain the purpose of setting specific goals and then printing them out and putting them on your wall. I kind of relate this idea of setting goals back to the idea of New Years resolutions, we set the BHAG but we do not make them specific. Weither it is the time line, specifications of the project, how it will be done etc. This year I plan to make my BHAG much more specific and I am determined to reach those goals. My newest venture is GreenWerks an eco friendly contracting firm in Chicago. Our goal of 1/2 million is sales is very big and hairy but it needs to be refined to make sure that we are able to reach that goal. During the next week I will lay out the full plan of how I intend to reach my goal. Based on his research people who set regular goals for themselves are 60% more likely to get them done and people who write them down and put them on the wall at 90% more likely to meet their goal! So write down your goals, get specific and meet your goals. To learn more about ryan check out his book Zero to one Million.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Vonage VOIP- Mixed reviews

When I was out shopping for the holidays, I came across one of those mall kiosks and they were selling Vonage. I had seen the commercials and had done some research on VOIP (voice over internet protocol). I checked it out and they sold me on the Vphone. Basically a usb jump drive that you can plug into any computer and it automatically loads the software required to run Vonage. I have a new Dell computer with Vista (don't upgrade if you don't have to) and , I asked the sales guy if it worked with Vista. He informed me that it did and I would not have any problems. Make a long story shorter, it has a success rate of about 30% working with Vista. I did get a chance to try it out at the office where they have XP computers. I was actually surprised at the clean quality sound. So moral of the story, it works pretty well but I don't recommend buying the V-phone feature if you have Vista on your computer.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My first lemonade stand

I told a long time friend this story last night and with all the chuckles and smiles I thought I would put it up on the blog.

The setting was a bright sunny day in the burbs and I was about 8 years old. My mother was watching me as she worked with the flowers in the front yard. One of my first customers was my local mailman (His name was Butch in case you were wondering), he came up to my lemonade stand. Butch inquired about the lemonade but stated that he did not have the fifty cents for the lemonade and maybe next time. As I realized that I might lose the sale, I suggested that he have a water, which I offered for free. By this time my mother was near the stand chatting it up with our friendly mailman. I quickly ran inside the house and got him a glass of water. I returned and handed him the glass of lemonade, he took a sip and quickly spit it out. My mother was startled and asked him what was wrong, he instantly stated that the water was extremely hot. Without any hesitation I responded, "Now would you like a glass of lemonade." I will just say that the lemonade stand was retired for the rest of the summer after a through scolding from my mother. She apologized to Butch, but even at a young age I understood how to create demand for a product.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is there a limit to outsourcing...

The first book that I have been wanting to read for months is 4 hour work week. I downloaded it from audible (see previous post) and have already listened to 2/3 of the book since downloading it yesterday. It is extremely intriguing as he describes the process of outsourcing his life. I am going to try and outsource some small tasks to India. You can use sites such as elance to find reviews of companies or these virtual assistants. They can do everything from submit you to directories for SEO, research plans for a birthday party to responding to all your email for you. These "VA's" are not only polite, efficient and better with a computer than most americans, they are college educated. You can find a VA for $2-15 per hour. The latter would be for graphics, technical knowledge or web programing. But what if you could hire someone to find and order your christmas gifts, pay your bills and research a topic you are curious about for $2 an hour.

Give it a listen? audiobooks....

This week I stumbled across audible. com. A great deal for those who don't have time to read or would prefer to listen to audio books. Not only is it a great price, (into price of $8 a book) goes to $12 book after the first three months. I have had my eye on a few books that I wanted to read and was unable to get to find time to read them, I thought about downloading them on itunes. But apple charges an arm and a leg for the books. This is a streamlines way to listen to the books, cheaply. I downloaded my first book yesterday and thought the system was super easy to use. ta ta for now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We're Busting some doors....

So yesterday we decided to venture out and try our luck with the large herds of people venturing out for the door buster sales on black Friday. It is traditionally the day when retailers go from the red to black (profit). After some discussions we decided to start our journey at the local outlet mall, which opened at midnight. Yes, they were open for 24 hours on Friday. I was unsure what to expect, all of the group were virgin "busters."
The mall had the same jumpstart last year and people were packed up for miles on the expressway. We decided to start a little later to avoid the large group, heck they weren't giving anything away. We woke up at 4 am, even Grandma Verge who is 86 made it out for her first bust. We walked into the first store just before 5am and it was jamming. All I could think to myself was I as nuts as the rest of these people for getting up at the crack of dawn for a sale on tshirts?
The deals at most stores were fantastic, my favorite was polo shirts for $20 a piece! (normally $75) We did venture to a few department stores after to continue the sales.
I couldn't help but think about the marketing efforts the national retailers used to get me to think I should rush to the store at 4am and how this could be applied to other businesses? Should I have a one day blowout sale? Could I get people to line up for my service?
Should I join up with other service businesses in my area and combine efforts to have a blowout sale during slow months? I'm not sure what it will be yet but I am sure I will figure out how to apply the lessons of yesterday to future business endevors, do you have any ideas? send them my way, would love to hear them.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Greatest thing since sliced bread...

I read about how people were using eLance to write articles about their company and distribute it. I recently had my first experience using the site to help with some web programing. I was unsure if I could find someone who would be able to help me finish this site. Today I put up the details of the job and I had 4 bids within an hour of my post. This just amazes me how flat the world has become. Bids from Cali to India. As technology advances and we are able to communicate with more effectively, with more sources. The internet has grown by leaps and bounds since the Tech crash in 2000. I am excited to see what new advancements in web development bring during the next 7 years to the free world.

I will let you know how the process goes. I will award the project in two weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to get around town? We travel by ZipCar

I was first introduced to ZipCar about a year ago. It was a novel idea, rent cars by the hour for an affordable rate. Most cars start at $9 an hour (ie a Honda element, Toyota matrix etc.) The hourly fee covers insurance, gas and the parking spot you found it in. The cars are conveniently located around Chicago and tons of other cities around the globe. They actually just merged with Flexcar to offer the service in even more cities.

If you do not drive much this is the perfect solution. I sold my car this summer and have used ZipCar ever since. I save hundreds a month, before I had a truck that was $275 note, $100 Insurance, $200-350 in gas a month. Compared to ZipCar I rent a car a few time a month, usually not more than $150 a month. The thing that I like the most is the different cars you can choose from. If I need a pickup to move or want to use BMW 328 for a hot date, they have it as options. The 328 is a little more (ha ha) runs about $12 an hour.

If you rent a car for a whole day they only charge you for 7 hours. So to get a car, with gas and 180 miles of driving for about $70 bucks. Since I am a member they gave us a link for our friends to get $25 driving credit when they sign up. So check them out....

Join Zipcar and get $25 in free driving!

Launch of new company!

Eco-friendly Contractor is the new brand that we are launching! GW is a eco friendly green contractor that will serve the Chicago area. The company will launch at the end of December. Lakeshore Branding is creating the website and the marketing materials. It will be a great example of what we can create for you. This week we set them up with a vanity 800 number. The new number is 877* 4* G Werks, for those of you who would like to use their service. We purchased the number so if they wish to switch carriers in the future, it will not be an issue. The service we use is a virtual pbx. This is a fancy term for a online version of a phone system, without all the hardware. Virtual phone systems start at $5 a month plus per min fees. The some of the perks are virtual voicemail and never having a busy signal to name a few. Want to set up a toll free number for your company, it is more affordable than you might think.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

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