May 24

I happened to be looking at my iPhone to get to my local Trader Joe’s via back roads from where I was. The map program offered me the Yelp review of my store and I decided to take a look. What I found was the strangest mix of commentary with a remarkably low signal to noise ratio.  The first one that popped up was 4/5 stars and reasonably to the point. The second on the ‘recommended’ list was a 1 star review in which the author droned on for 440 words. He discussed the awful parking lot, the soccer moms, the crying babies, and finally got around to the stuff for sale. “I will concede that the food is good – especially the wide selection of uppity olive oils and cheeses of which I am a huge fan.  And the beer is good.  And the wine is good.” A couple dozen words in three sentences. Only this location has no alcohol license. No wine and no beer.

traderjoeAnd “the way too small” parking lot is quite enormous, I’ve been there often as there’s a Staples, a Pier 1, and other stores my family likes. Never a problem with the parking. To be fair, not every last review is this way, but for this store, more than half were.

I was compelled to look at other stores I’d been to, along with a few restaurants. Same for most of them. I understand you might not like a restaurant, supermarket, or other business. No problem with that. If half the reviewers on Yelp would stick the point, and not review the neighborhood, the cars, the parking lots, it might become a useful site.For now, it seems a site where people simply go on off topic rants about whatever they wish, unrelated to the establishment they are reviewing. A remarkable waste of my time.

Worse, Yelp has gained a reputation for burying good reviews of businesses that don’t pay for their service.  It’s pretty apparent when you go to the reviews buried as ‘not recommended,’ if you can find them. Most curious to me is how long Yelp will even be around. A $4B valuation for a company that continues to spend more on marketing than they book in revenue. Remember, advertising dollars are not unlimited.  Businesses spend so much each year and that’s divided amongst all the print and on line places trying to sell ad space.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Mar 23

Even if you have an online business, you should still develop a solid plan for it just as you would with a traditional brick-and-mortar company. Many people might feel as if this is an unnecessary step to take, but there are several key reasons why a business plan should be viewed as a requirement instead of an option.

Get Things Off to a Great Start

One of the most important reasons why you should develop a business plan is to make sure that you get everything off to a good start in a positive direction. Starting with a basic business plan outline will at least set the pace and get the ball rolling for you, allowing you to have a solid idea and full understanding of which steps need to be taken next. Keep in mind that this plan will serve as the blueprint for your business, so do your very best when working through it. Remember, more than 50 percent of small businesses permanently close within 18 months of opening. You don’t want your business to be a part of that statistic. Do everything you can now to lay a good foundation for your future.


You Need to Have a Game Plan

Think about your favorite sports team. Regardless of the actual sport or venue, they have developed a game plan and playbook beforehand so that they can achieve success and victories during their matches, games, and competitions. The same principle applies to the business world, according to Inc., especially since you are going to be competing against hundreds or even thousands of other competitors within the thriving world of eCommerce.

A basic business plan outline will allow you to have all of the necessary elements of a good playbook that will allow you to win much more than you might think. At the end of the day, the business with the best playbook and execution of those plays is the winner.

Qualify for Financial Loans and Investments

There are not very many businesses that can function and grow without applying and getting approved for some sort of third-party financing and funding. However, one of the first things that many investors and banking institutions request to review from potential applicants is the actual business plan, and you will definitely need to have something ready to show them when they ask for it.

They will want to review the plan thoroughly and will expect for it to cover quite a few main points and pertinent details, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. If you do not have a well-developed plan ready to go, you will discover rather quickly that quite a few doors of opportunity in this regard are closed shut. There are several essential items you should include in your business plan.

  • Executive Summary: This is where you tell the reader what you want so they know right up front what you’re looking for. The executive summary should also be a short synopsis of the rest of your business plan.
  • Market Analysis: How much do you know about your industry and your competitors? You want to come off as an expert in your field so you will be able to establish strategies for success.
  • Service or Product: Here is where you describe what it is that you are actually selling or offering as a service. You need to emphasize what’s unique about your product as compared to other similar ones on the market.
  • Company Overview: You need to have a description of your company, explaining the management structure, qualifications of your employees, and how everyone will work together toward a common goal.

An Effective Assessment Tool for Your Business

Another reason why you need to develop and periodically update your business plan is simply because it is can be used as an effective assessment tool over time. Keep in mind that you will continuously need to recognize your strengths but pay even more attention to your weaknesses. The last thing that you want to do is to open a business that is heavily flawed from the very beginning. If you make a major breakthrough or invention with the product you are selling, you will need to go back to your business plan and put that in. If your management structure or top employees change, that needs to be revised in your business plan too.

Developing a basic business plan outline will at least provide you with a realistic snapshot that identifies your chances of short-term and long-term success. Address any areas of concern and improvement, because doing so will pave the way toward achieving your goals in the future, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, whether you want to create a business plan or not is up to you. However, if you are serious about achieving success and getting the most value from your hard work and diligent efforts, then this should become and remain a top priority.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Dec 27

The world is moving fast, and the virtual world, even faster.

As the internet became ubiquitous, and the world grew flatter, and the concept of the virtual assistant took off. What is a virtual assistant?  He or she is usually a contract or freelance worker who does their job from their home, often, but not always, in a country different from their employer. They focus on the type of tasks that an administrative assistant or secretary would perform, such as managing email, helping to put together presentations, scheduling meetings, and online research. While the debate goes on in the US regarding our $7.25/hr minimum wage, there are countries where such an income is not only a living wage, but a good one, relatively speaking. The Philippines has a median monthly wage of 30,000 PHP which converts to approximately US$675. Less than US$5 per hour, it’s a bit above what the average teacher makes in the Philippines. This creates an interesting opportunity; the ability to hire someone to perform tasks to help grow your business before you are able to afford to hire a local full time person.

There comes a point in the evolution of your business when you need a presence, a physical address, a conference room to meet a client. A full time rented office might set you back thousands per month, far more than you’re ready to spend, and you might not need a full office just yet. The time may be right to consider a virtual office. A virtual office such as the ones offered by the Australia-based Servcorp  offer a variety of packages to give your business a presence at a prestigious address.  A meeting package gives you access to beautiful boardrooms on a pay-as-you-go plan as well as access to business lounges worldwide. A communications package offers a local phone number with dedicated receptionist and call forwarding to a number of your choosing. An address package can offer you an address for your business card and correspondence, as well as a location for your mail and packages to be shipped.

When you consider the cost of a physical full time office along with the overhead it entails, you might decide that the combination of employees working from home or customer site combined with a virtual office presence for high level meetings can offer the best of both worlds at a significant cost savings.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Nov 28

I may be showing my age here, this Norman Rockwell piece is the one that I think of when conjuring up images of Thanksgiving. I wish all my readers a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Nov 16


The cartoon says it all, Black Friday is creeping right into Thanksgiving, and ruining the holiday for many who are forced to work on this day we should all be home.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,