Small Business-Where Can You Put Your Name?

Here’s an interesting story from Irish Central about how one entrepreneur is getting a lot of publicity from a charitable donation.  Paddy Power, Ireland’s legal bookmaking organization, has donated more than $15,000 to sponsor the confessional in a local church.  When a church fundraiser contacted Paddy Power for a donation, the man himself answered the phone.

“Paddy Power was captivated by the thought of a new confessional box,” said Father Michael Griffin, a priest at the church.  The location of the church, in the heart of horse racing country seemed like a perfect fit.  The first person to visit the new confessional, which features a small plaque reading “The Paddy Power Sin Bin” was  jockey, Frankie Dettori.  Paddy himself attended midday mass at the church.

This story has obviously gotten world-wide attention.  What can you do to promote your business in a unique, creative way?  How can you give back to the community in a highly visible way that puts you in a favorable light with your target market and that could generate free publicity, just because it’s unusual enough to be of interest to your local (or even national or international) media?

Mr. Power certainly got his $15,000 worth, and then some.  Not to mention earning himself more than a few prayers from the grateful parishioners.

Isn’t That Special?

According to the AP, Fidel Castro is praising the new US health care plan.  In that case, I guess it must be OK!

Business Building Lessons

Thanks to Sandy Berkshire of Stuart’s House of Vacuums, Billings, MT for pointing out the following article.

Consultant Stacy Karacostas has written an excellent article called “Business-Building Lessons Learned in 2009: What Highly-Successful Small Business Owners Are Doing that You Can Do Too”. The title’s a mouthful but the article offers some very good advice on surviving and even thriving in our current economy.

The article promises ten things that successful entrepreneurs are doing but delivers only nine.  I guess that’s further evidence that the economy’s a mess.  Maybe the government’s imposed a 10% tax on internet lists.  Yeah, I’ll bet that’s it.

Anyway, I encourage you to read the article for the details, but here are the bullet points with some added commentary from yours truly.

1.  Forget about the state of the economy. I’m not sure you can entirely forget it, but don’t dwell on it, especially the emotional, mental part.  You have to look and act successful to be successful.

2.  Offer something new. People need something exciting in their lives.  Make your business exciting by adding new products, or just remerchandising your product line-up.

3.  Stop guessing. Ask your customers what they want.  Then give it to them.

4.  Embrace technology. More on this later.

5.  Build your list.  Use your customer list to build up your business.

6.  Provide value. I would add to this one, let your customers know about the value you provide.  Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn.

7.  Embrace mixed media marketing.  You can’t build a house with just one tool.  Use the whole box!

8.  Keep learning. Your customers are getting smarter every day.

9.  Stop doing it all yourself. If you haven’t already, read Michael Gerber’s “The E Myth Revisited.  If you’ve already read it, read it again.  Focus your efforts on what only you can do.

I’ve highlighted numbers 3, 4, 7, and 8 to create  MTS’s number 10.   Get out there! Get online.  Get on Facebook.  Get on LinkedIn.  Use all the tools at your disposal to find out what your customers want (3).  Use Facebook, or the brand-new Google Buzz to create a community of people who are interested in what you sell and then talk and listen to them every single day (4, 7,8).

You hope your customers are talking about you in a positive way.  If so, they’re probably doing it through social media.  If they’re talking about you in negative terms, they’re using the same social media.  Either way, you must be part of that conversation.  (See Retailers, What to do About the Internet.)

I guess I’ll add a number 11 and a number 12.

11.  Under promise and over deliver.  Nuff said.

12.  Keep on keeping on.  If you’ve been watching the Olympics you’ve seen stories about athletes who keep coming back even though they’ve failed many times in the past.  It’s called persistence and it’s the difference between a gold medal and a long, lonely trip back home.

Happy New Year!

Bring on 2010!

Happy New Year!

Arthur’s Day

arthurs day header

OK, after three days of swine flu talk, here’s something more fun.  It may be a bit of a stretch to connect this with small business, but I’ll give it a shot.

250 years ago a Dublin small business man, Arthur Guinness, signed a 9,000 year lease on the St. James Gate brewery and began production of a dark stout.  You have to admit, 9,000 years is quite a commitment.  The cost of the lease?  45 pounds per year.

There’s a huge celebration planned today at St. James Gate and at pubs around the world to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Sir Arthur’s accomplishment.  All Irish and Irish wanna-bes are encouraged to lift a glass in a toast to Sir Arthur today.

As I write this it’s still before noon in the heartland, but here at MTS, we will be participating later in the day.


Sidebar:  Some studies have indicated that Guinness contains antioxidants that may actually keep your arteries free of plaque.  Hopefully any new health care legislation will include a daily pint for every citizen of legal drinking age.  I’m just sayin’…..

Here’s a six minute montage of Guinness commercials.  Enjoy.

20 Beginner Twitter Tips for Small Business

twitter logoMaybe you’re a veteran Twitter user.  Maybe you’ve tried Twitter and think it’s stupid. (Been there!) Or, maybe you’ve heard of Twitter but have never given it a look.  If you fall into either of the latter two categories, there’s a post on the TwiTip blog that you might want to check out.

Personally I’ve found that Twitter can be a great tool for your business or a gigantic time-suck, depending on how you approach it.  If you’re goal is to garner hundreds or even thousands of followers, you’ll be spending a lot of time for minimal results.  On the other hand, if your goal is to find smart, interesting people who can point you to important/interesting information in your field, then Twitter is a great tool.

I’m not going to repeat all twenty of TwiTips tips, you can read them on the post.  But I would like to point out a couple that I find particularly good.  For example, tip number 2, “Define your goals”, is a good one.  Don’t just jump in and start telling everyone that you’re going to lunch.  If your goal is to learn more about your business, do a twitter search of important key words.  Identify the tweet leaders in your field and follow them.

Number 10 says, “Always follow Jeff Pulver’s rule of giving 95% of the time and asking only 5% of the time.” Some folks will follow you just because you follow them.  But if you really want to exchange meaningful tweets, you have to post some good stuff yourself.

Finally, you might want to put tip number 20 on a Post-It Note and stick it to your monitor.  “It takes a long time to build up a following and develop trust, but it only takes one tweet to alienate every one of your followers.

By the way, Twitterer @EFranz13 posted a link to the TwiTip post via Twitter.  She doesn’t have a picture on her Twitter home page  (Tip # 6)

Also, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, I’m @MichaelBuckley.

Small Business Owners–I Need Your Help

A shameless request.

I’ve never done anything like this before, but I need your help.  Hopefully those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis find some value in it.  If it makes you think, or moves you to action, or occasionally makes you laugh, then I think I’ve done my job.

Over the years, from Mine Your Own Business and Mining the Store, we seem to have developed a pretty loyal, albeit small, following.  It’s that small part that’s the problem.

Although the blog is mainly a labor of love and generates no revenue, (notice, there are no ads) I would love to see it grow.  Frankly, at some point, given the current state of the economy, I would like to/might have to create some positive cash flow, either through consulting, speaking, or publishing a book.  To do that, I have to get the word out.

What I”m humbly asking of you is to mention MTS to your small business friends.  If you find a post to be especially relevant, share it with them.  If you have a blog or web site of your own, a link to MTS would be greatly appreciated.  Let me know and I’ll be glad to link back to you.

If you’re a social media user, a mention on facebook, LinkedIn, or Friendfeed would be wonderful!  And, if you’re a twitterer, a tweet would be great!  You’ll notice that I’ve added a “Share This Blog” button to the top right of the page to make it easy for you to share MTS.  Just click on the word “more,”  select the appropriate social media site, and you’re good to go.

That’s it.  I don’t ever expect to be an A-List blogger and don’t really care to be.  I’d just like this blog to be helpful to as many people as possible.

Thanks for your help!