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    Tag Archive for 'innovation'

    In the new Age the Force is with the customer

    It’s the Age of the Customer, is your small business ready?

    —Earth, Stardate 8507 (The Age of the Seller)
    Once upon a time, in a galaxy that today must seem far, far away, sellers controlled all information about their products, services and innovations. Consequently, customers learned what they needed to know from salespeople, who traveled far and wide dispensing information to, and collecting sales from, grateful and beholden customers.

    If one had observed such a meeting, the customer would have nodded his head in wonderment as the salesperson revealed the virtual magic that was his product. And in this land, the Force—control and availability of information—was with the seller.

    Photo courtesy of Freshbooks.com—Earth, Stardate 10912 (The Age of the Customer)
    On present-day planet Earth things haven’t changed. Customers still buy from sellers that still provide product information. But observing a customer and salesperson today you will see the former explaining how much she knows about the business’s products, while the salesperson nods his head in wonderment. In this universe the salesperson is grateful and beholden if the customer will just contacts him before deciding from whom she will buy.

    In The Age of the Customer, the Force—access to lots of information—is with the customer. It began with the remote control, video recorders, TiVo, DVR, Internet, on-demand everything, social media, and more recently, mobile computing. All of the platforms that make up what we now call social media have become the Light Saber of consumers and business customers in the new Age.

    Armed with an abundance of online content, commenting platforms, and social media communities, customers not only have access to the information they need to make a better decision, but also co-own brand messages in the sub-space chatter about any given seller or product as it is being evaluated in the online dimension. Alas, too many small businesses are still operating a Stardate 8507 strategy in Stardate 10912. The predominant response by one of these sellers is frustration that they have diminishing control over customer relationships, and therefore their future.

    Scotty won’t be able to beam you up if you don’t learn that the only way to end this frustration and assume at least co-ownership of the Force is to embrace online community-building and join the conversations that are being conducted about your business, products, service and industry.

    The good news is that this “joining” is not only relatively easy, but also can be done with minimal direct cost. If you don’t know how, ask a 25-year-old customer.

    Write this on a rock … In Stardate 10912, the Force is with the customer.

    The unique ability of entrepreneurs

    One of the traits of an entrepreneur is a passionate desire for more - to discover and acquire more information, more efficiency, more productivity, more capability, more speed and yes, sometimes even more money and stuff.

    But entrepreneurs don’t own the franchise on this trait. Lots of people WANT more. It’s just that entrepreneurs set themselves apart from others because they actually have the ability to create more. God bless entrepreneurs because, without their vision, courage, energy, and passion to create more, many of the things that enrich our lives would not exist.

    It’s important that our world creates the fertile soil in which entrepreneurship can grow. Fertile entrepreneurial soil is where accomplishment is recognized, courage is admired, passion is encouraged, ideas can be openly debated and where truth is valued.

    And entrepreneurs are not just found in the traditional marketplace. You can find them in education, in medicine, in research and yes, even in government. All species of entrepreneurs should be allowed to flourish wherever you find them.

    But if you are having trouble finding an entrepreneur, the quickest way to solve that problem is to go hang out with small business owners.

    Check out more great SBA content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Top 10 reasons to love small business

    In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the “Top 10 Reasons To Love Small Business,” as from our friends over at the Office of Advocacy of the SBA.

    10. Small businesses make up more than 99.7% of all employers.

    9. Small businesses create more than 50 percent of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).

    8. Small patenting firms hire 43 percent of the high-tech workers and produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

    7. The 27.5 million small businesses in the United States are located in virtually every neighborhood.

    6. Small businesses employ about 50 percent of all private sector workers.

    5. Home-based businesses account for 52 percent, and franchises are 2% of all small businesses.

    4. Small businesses make up 97.5 percent of exporters and produce 31 percent of all export value.

    3. Small businesses with employees start-up at a rate of over 500,000 per year.

    2. Four years after start-up, half of all small businesses with employees remain open.

    1. The latest figures show that small businesses created 65 percent of the net new jobs over the past 17 years.

    It’s true: Small business is the heart of the American economy, and it’s why I really do love small business owners.

    Check out more great SBA content HERE!

    Rest in peace, Steve Jobs; we’re glad you knew us

    Peter Meyer is a global business consultant. In his work, and as a frequent guest on my radio program, my friend Peter has proposed that the highest possibility of entrepreneurial success comes from identifying a customer desire first and then creating a solution. Let’s call this the Meyer Model: Solution follows desire.

    For almost all entrepreneurs, Peter’s idea about entrepreneurial pursuits is absolutely the right one. But in our universe there is a microbeam of entrepreneurial energy for which the Meyer Model just doesn’t work, and we should all thank our lucky stars for that.

    You probably didn’t know Steve Jobs, but he knew you. The iconic co-founder of Apple, too soon taken from us, knew what you wanted before you knew you wanted it. Let’s call that the Jobs Model: Desire follows solution.

    To be sure, there have been others like Jobs. Indeed, the Jobs Model could be named for geniuses like Bell, Edison or Marconi. But, as Peter points out in Creating and Dominating New Markets (Amacom 2002), for every one of these successful visionaries, there are thousands who failed with a solution in search of a problem. Their failure wasn’t because they weren’t entrepreneurial enough; they just used the wrong model. This will be on the test: For all but a tiny number of entrepreneurial geniuses, the Meyer Model – customer problem first, then solution – is the high-percentage play.

    Understanding these odds, it’s easy to see that most of us should focus our entrepreneurial energy as Peter recommends, rather than try to be like Steve, Alexander, Thomas or Guglielmo. But here’s good news: You can follow the Meyer Model and still be like Steve.

    Steve was an innovator. You are too, but to really be like Steve, you must never stop innovating. Steve was customer focused like you; it’s just that you ask customers what they want first. Steve was on an uncompromising quest for excellence. Of all the things we know about Jobs that you should and can emulate, this has to be on top of the list – always seek excellence.

    The world is a better place for the entrepreneurial energy of Steve Jobs. But that doesn’t make your efforts any less important. In the aggregate, more success and contribution has been achieved because entrepreneurs like you followed the Meyer Model: Ask what customers want, then create and deliver that.

    Rest in peace, Steve Jobs; we’re glad you knew us.

    I’ve talked with several guests on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show about Steve Jobs’ legacy from technology to entrepreneurship to medicine. Click here to listen to our tributes.

    For more great SBA content, click HERE!