Feeling anxious? Tips for keeping anxiety in check

8:46AM | Wednesday, 28 August

I often encounter business owners who are paralysed by their anxiety.   They have so much on their mind and so much to do that they don’t know how to move forward. This week, two of my clients were showing the classic signs. From the moment I said hi, I could see, feel and hear their anxiety. They were talking fast, were jittery, weren’t really listening and didn’t really seem to be engaging in our conversation.   Anxiety, unfortunately, is hugely unproductive. While nervousness is natural, and can sharpen performance, anxiety if left unchecked can be debilitating.   We all have times where we find it difficult to separate our personal and business lives. In my experience it’s crucial to tackle anxiety on both the home and the business front to ensure that we can get back on track.   We are all busy most of the time, so why do we get overwhelmed at certain points? It’s often when people feel like they are not in control. Of course we can’t control everything (as much as we’d love to), but if everything feels as though it’s spinning out of our control, anxiety can magnify it; in many cases, unnecessarily.   My solution sounds too simple. You need to get back in control. How is that even possible when everything seems to be spinning out of control? I’ve set out the following “control checklist” in order to break down anxiety by identifying rational and achievable steps towards a solution.   1. Assess the reality – what really is the worst case scenario?   Time for a reality check.   First – identify your fear. What is the one thing on your mind that wakes you up at the witching hour? While there can be multiple worst case scenarios, there is usually one thing that sticks out above anything else. Work out what it is.   Second – write it down. The very act of externalising your fear rationalises it and can make you realise the actual problem is not actually as bad as it might feel, emotionally.   Third – share it. Find a mentor or a trusted colleague or friend who can help you contextualise your anxiety and provide objective guidance.   Identifying the worst case scenario gives you the opportunity to avoid it. Look at it as reverse engineering your anxiety – it exists for a reason, but you can work backwards to find a way out of it. It is fair to say that most business owners have felt this at some point. The crucial skill you need is to be able to stay calm and work your way out of the problem.     2. The to-do list   Yeah right, I hear you say! Everyone has a to-do list. Here is a question though, do you have more than five things on your to do list? If you do, change the title to Project/Action Plan. The only things that get on the to-do list are the tasks that need to be completed immediately (i.e. today).   Look over your Project/Action Plan. What tasks do you need to perform in order to avoid your worst case scenario?   Let’s look at the situation of one of my clients.   He was feeling incredibly daunted by a project where he was unable to deliver his services to his clients. He was rightfully worried about long term damage to his reputation, losing existing and potential business, which of course threatens cash flow and profit.   The simple solution was to employ more people to deliver on the promise to his client.   However, he had inadequate space available on his premises to accommodate more staff. So he was forced to contemplate acquiring more space – an immediate financial burden and a huge upheaval.   Once again, the simple solution to move and employ a virtual workforce was not possible.   We discussed the options, and it became clear to me that there was another “stressor” at play. I asked him what would make more sense financially. He didn’t know the answer. Why? Because he had not completed his budget for the year!   Guess what was number one on the to-do list? Not worrying about moving premises; that could wait. He needed to complete his budget!   All of his future decisions would flow from knowing his financial position. The satisfying element of this process was that the client instantly started to relax because he now had a plan which would put him in more control based on fact rather than fear. He had instantly eliminated his fear of the unknown.     3. Assess what is possible   Be realistic with your goal-setting. Many people say they don’t complete things on their to-do list because they get too many distractions.   Distraction is such a negative word, and it’s one that I like to avoid.   My business manager often says that she gets nothing done. I know that this is not true because I see the evidence of her output. When I told her that, it emerged that she only rates herself against her to-do list.   From my perspective, her role is to keep the business operating smoothly. This means that I need her to deal with the issues that arise during the day which might stop our team from delivering to our clients. Until I pointed this out to her, she had seen these issues as distractions.   I requested that she keep a diary for a couple of weeks to work out what she spends her time on each day, to determine her workload. Patterns became swiftly evident! Once we had established this knowledge, we could then work out how much of her day could be allocated to her ongoing to-do list and determine realistic deadlines for these tasks.   4. Watch out for time traps   We employ people to assist us in our business to get the job done so we can deliver more products and services to our clients than we can do alone. But if our staff are not managed effectively they can become time traps.   A really simple thing to do to avoid your team sucking every last minute out of your day is to teach them the Urgent/Important prioritisation of tasks. Before they request your time they must ask themselves, is this an important task for the business that needs urgent attention? This will stop them badgering you to get something completed immediately without regard to its importance in the bigger picture of the company.   If you are a business owner and find it hard to focus and prioritise, find a mentor that can help you with managing the workload and help you achieve success.   Share your start up thoughts with us at #startupstress on Twitter or post a question on our Facebook page.

Ditch iChat and use Adium

8:19AM | Wednesday, 28 August

If you’re using a MacBook or a Mac then you’d know Apple is trying to push its iChat program. But there’s a better one – Adium.   The program works with virtually every major instant messaging platform, including Facebook.   If you’re a fan of video chatting you may want to stick to iChat, but for everything else Adium has got you covered.

Eight stylish steps to a grand online retail site

8:42AM | Tuesday, 27 August

The big players of online retail appear to have it made. Look at international apparel sites such as netaporter.com or asos.com – they boast a swish product offer, sophisticated websites with impressive images, and hefty turnovers.   Think of Australian sites, such as wine e-tailer vinomofo.com, or furniture site milandirect.com.au. They’ve got a distinct product offer, professional customer service, smooth delivery operations and engaged consumer communities.   From the outside, the success of these companies may appear daunting to emulate. Even for well-established businesses, e-tail can still trigger challenges for management used to dealing in the bricks-and-mortar world.   However, there is no need to lag behind your competitors when it comes to turning clicks into sales. If you set up a quality content management system, a niche product offer and well-oiled delivery operations, you are off to a good start.   Ahead of the Fashion Exposed trade fair, launching in Melbourne this Sunday, August 25, SmartCompany spoke to presenters at the event on how to catch up with the leaders in the e-tail sphere.   Simon Goodrich, co-founder of e-commerce platform provider Portable, and Jean-Claude Abouchar, chief executive officer of multi-brand fashion e-tail site The Grand Social, offer eight steps to get up and running.   1. Just do it   Businesses doing well in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail may have resisted the online push for fear it could stretch their resources.   “I think people feel a bit down being behind the boat in online retail,” says Goodrich. “But in the recent period there have been some really exciting methodologies and examples for people to use.”   Goodrich says people can be “scared” to shift online, as they don’t know what platforms to employ, or what content to generate.   “If you have a (physical) store, and you’re open, and you’ve got salespeople in there, people walk in,” says Goodrich.   “You’ve got a lot of other items within that built environment that can assist you to make sales.   “People think, my product or what I do might not work online, but I think they should go out there and test…there are lots of things people can be doing, it’s very exciting.”   Abouchar says to simply “just get started”, and experiment.   “Just get online with whatever you are trying to sell,” he says. “As soon as you learn about your customer and what works and doesn’t, then focus your energy, time and money into what is working rather than spend a year trying to get it perfect.   “Just get live, that is the bottom line.”   2. Find the right platform   Simple, effective content management systems are now easy to find, meaning you can have an e-tail shopfront up and running quickly.   Goodrich says you need a CMS that you can easily update. “A lot of systems have been refined over the past few years to do basic things well,” he says.   It shouldn’t be daunting. “There are a lot of out-of-the-box solutions. It comes down to how much people want to invest.”   Goodrich says it is a myth that the e-tail shopfront has to be professionally graphic designed and complicated.   “It doesn’t have to have a lot to it. It can just be images and an example of the business.   “Have a system that captures emails, develops newsletters, and have some form of social media reach out. There is obviously Facebook, there’s Twitter, it just depends on which platform best suits your audience.”   3. Own your audience   To generate sales, the best way is to build a loyal community around your business. Goodrich says to draw on the value of the people who engage with your business already – as they shouldn’t be separate to your online customers.   “You have to get ownership over your customer base. People in the past might have sent out paper newsletters or even email newsletters, but they may not have been getting statistics on how people are using that information.”   He says it is vital to use data collection tools to harness this feedback, so you can better tailor your content.   “Define your company voice. You ask what magazines your customers read, what movies do they like, what holidays do they want? Once you can get an idea of who that person is, the content bit becomes a lot easier.”   4. Plan your logistics   When Abouchar co-launched The Grand Social back in 2008, experimenting with warehouse and delivery logistics was a core challenge – one which the business continually refines.   “No one was doing third-party fulfillment,” he says. “So we had to set it up ourselves.”   The Grand Social offers multiple fashion brands on the one site, so initially products were coming in from countless sources.   “What we needed to do in terms of the fulfillment and the supply chain solution was really complicated. No one wanted to touch it, it was in the too-hard basket.   “For e-tail, there was a lack of options – Australia Post didn’t even have a system running.”   He says they initially tried bringing all of the products ordered to a central place, before shipping items to a customer in a single package.   They then moved to ‘drop ship model’, where the designers send the products directly to the buyer as the orders are processed.   He says experimenting and refining your system can take time, but it is essential to work out the best way for quick and efficient delivery.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Find a service niche   Abouchar says once your store is up and running, think about what extra layers of service you can transfer from your bricks-and-mortar world to online.   He says the “danger” is that it could become just an arm of your physical store, without the personal service.   “You need to have the second layer of service. Anyone can sell stuff online, but think, how are we going to be different?” he says.   “Customers will go where they get service and advice.”   He says to draw on your customer data, tailor content, and personalise their experience to maximise engagement with the brand.   Abouchar is an admirer of stitchfix.com, a US start-up which is taking service to the next level.   “It is basically filling in a profile questionnaire about your personal style, and they send you a box of five different products that they’ve picked (based on the survey).   “You keep what you want, and send back what you don’t, and over time the platform becomes smarter about what is good for you. It works out outfits for you. It’s a subscription-based model with a service layer, added on to the technology layer.”   6. Progress constantly, but mindfully   It is tempting to try and be everything to every customer, and to panic that your competitors are more advanced in e-tail. However, Abouchar says to pick what is vital, do it well, and say no to the rest.   He argues that there is “only so much time in the day”, especially juggling both a physical store with a new online enterprise.   “It is about focus…about two years ago we decided to stop starting new things, and we said ‘let’s focus on doing a few things well’.”   The Grand Social narrowed down its key objectives – a refresh of the homepage, tailoring the customer experience, upgrading warehouse and fulfillment distribution, and perfecting inventory management and barcoding.   8. Have patience   Abouchar says people launching online may wonder why they are not getting instant results, but says to remember that just like a physical store, results can take time.   “It takes just as long to build a business online as offline. People have expectations that they will open an online business and in a year or two they will be relaxing in the tropics…it is just as tough if not tougher as there are millions of people around the world to compete with.   “Online is no different, it brings the same challenges as offline.”   Simon Goodrich and Jean-Claude Abouchar will be presenting at Fashion Exposed Trade Fair in Melbourne, which begins Sunday, August 25. For seminar details visit www.fashionexposed.com.

Update iOS contacts with Twitter and Facebook

8:02AM | Wednesday, 21 August

One of the better inclusions in Apple’s iOS 6 update is the integration with social networks Facebook and Twitter.   But apart from being able to post to these networks from within iOS itself, you can actually update your contacts with social networking information.   To do so, head to the Settings app, then scroll down to the “Twitter and “Facebook” options. Within each option, you should see the ability to sync with contacts, which will sync up photos and respective social media accounts.

Content marketing isn’t a buzz word, it’s here to stay

8:24AM | Tuesday, 20 August

Creating compelling content that builds audiences is an important marketing pillar for anyone starting out in business.   Known as content marketing, custom media, custom publishing, branded content and branded media, this style of marketing is particularly important given consumers are increasingly seeking out information they can trust.   Content marketing enables businesses to deliver content via tutorials, email newsletters, white papers, custom publications, ebooks, free reports, blogs or social media.   Anyone can create relevant content that spruiks their business. If you’re a landscape gardener launching your own business, you could own a niche audience of followers keen to hear your thoughts on drought-resistant gardens, for example.   Content marketing is the way of the future, says the chief executive of the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising, Jodie Sangster.   “The future of marketing is content marketing. The convergence of data, technology, new consumer consumption habits and digital distribution mean the business case for content marketing has never been more compelling.”   Craig Hodges, chief executive and founder of King Content says content marketing has been around forever. It works best for companies that want to drive leads and sales, working across multiple sectors from banking and finance to fast moving consumer goods, he says.   “It’s not something that has developed in the last couple of months, as many people might think. The real game changer has been the transformation in the way consumers find brands and ‘stuff’ in general.   “Google has played an integral role in this by determining they wanted a search engine free of keyword-stuffed landing pages, instead ranking quality sites with great content,” Hodges says.   This has encouraged brands to begin investing in owned, searchable content assets that are of value to the consumer and share the essence of what the brand stands for through storytelling, he says.   “If you couple this with the role of social media, a powerful sharing and amplification tool, it’s easy to see why there has been such a focus on developing quality content marketing strategies.”   Content marketing works well for new online homewares/linen store, I Love Linen.   Melbourne founder Lauren Roe has had strong results from Facebook despite the brand only launching a few months ago.   “A great Facebook strategy is based on engaging with customers and promoting a certain image around a desired lifestyle and then finding ways to link it back to your products,” Roe says. One of her recent posts was shared by a popular blogger with a huge Facebook following, which resulted in a day of high traffic and sales, she says.   “It’s so easy to manage because once you have a good content strategy and you know the themes around how you want to post, then you can pre-source and pre-load all the content. We do this once a week so it’s locked and loaded so we don’t have to think of content ideas on the fly,” Roe says.   “I know Facebook works because I track the click-throughs from Google Analytics and can track the purchase journey that way. A great example is a customer that I generated via Facebook has purchased with us three times in just under six weeks,” she says.   Content marketing is also a key marketing pillar for Intrepid Travel, with content partnerships forged to develop content that will appeal to potential customers.   One of its most successful partnerships has been with sustainable food filmmakers The Perennial Plate. This partnership sent two chefs to 13 countries to create short videos that reflect local food culture, which aligns with Intrepid’s new range of food adventures and commitment to responsible and sustainable travel.   “The videos are authentic and compelling and each has its own distribution strategy. The first video that was produced received over 300,000 views and the series so far has been viewed by 2.75 million,” global public relations manager Eliza Anderson says.   Many start-ups already embark on a PR campaign, but minor tweaks to existing PR, communications and social media content isn’t the same thing as content marketing, according to a report by technology research firm Gartner.   Hiring freelance writers to create your content, create a pipeline of talent via online freelance marketplaces like elance or outsource your newsroom can be great ways to get the content you need, says Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman.   Ultimately, businesses need to decide what end result they want to achieve from content marketing from the outset, he says.   “Do you want to create blog posts, build a special website or blog, or generate Facebook comments or Tweets? Ensure that whatever content management system you are using can create content forms that match your goals. Also ensure that each asset you generate can be shared socially,” Sorofman says.   But creating content is one thing. Making sure it’s reaching an audience is something else altogether. Distribution of content is a major issue, according to a recent roundtable forum held in Sydney.   Hosted by ADMA and content marketing firm Edge, it found that many businesses overlook the importance of developing distribution strategies.   Care needs to be taken when it comes to distribution as distribution via social media can turn consumers off, according to a recent report by Pitney Bowes Software. It found that 83% of consumers have had a bad social media marketing experience.   Simon Bird, general manager Australia, warns that annoying customers can mean lost revenue, with 65% of consumers saying they’d stop using a brand that upset or irritated them through its social media behaviour.   “It’s critical for businesses to develop an in-depth understanding of their customers’ communications preferences and what makes them tick. You need to approach customers through the channels they like and with content that is relevant to them and their current situation.”   Five tips to help start-ups thrive in the age of content   Create brand ambassadors. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find people who are talking about similar offerings to yours. Contact them and get them excited about your brand   Understand and track your SEO. Use free Google tools like Adwords, Analytics and Trends to compare keywords, view keyword search traffic demand and find out if your keywords are converting traffic   Take advantage of hashtags. Simple and consistent hashtags like #apps help your target market find your start-up. Use social dashboard tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck to find relevant hashtags.   Find free publicity. Sign up for free services like SourceBottle and HARO, which connect journalists with sources to easily and cheaply build a reputation in your industry.   Protect your reputation before you have one. Use free tools like Google Alerts and watchthatpage.com to find out what is being said about your company, competitors and industry.   Source: Ali Berg, head of content, Online Circle Digital

Bitcoin breakthrough: US judge rules bitcoin should be recognised as an official currency

8:40AM | Tuesday, 20 August

A landmark ruling in the US around the legitimacy of virtual currency bitcoin has been welcomed as a boost to the emerging market at the edge of financial innovation.   In early August, US federal judge Amos Mazzant ruled bitcoin should be officially viewed as a form of money. The decision was made in order for US regulators to prosecute Trendon Shavers, who is accused of running a bitcoin Ponzi scheme.   Bitcoin is a rapidly growing industry currently dominated by start-ups.   In the last week alone, one Australian bitcoin start-up has become embroiled in a dispute with the Commonwealth Bank and a new bitcoin trading exchange has launched.   Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets, an investment and trading company that trades in a variety of assets including bitcoin, told StartupSmart the ruling was a good step forward.   “It’s not surprising that the US has moved forward with this, given who is backing it (such as early Facebook investors the Winklevoss twins) and how much money is running into it,” Lucas says. “Essentially it’s an online paper trading idea, where people will be able to trade physical goods for digital currency. If people want to do this, then it should be recognised.”   Lucas says while he has no doubt the reach of bitcoin will continue to develop, it will require regulation if it’s to reach its full potential.   “It’ll certainly be growing in its reach more and more as people start to look at it, but it’s still a very infant currency and the concern that a lot of analysts have about bitcoin is its regulation,” he says. “The fact it’s completely free of regulation means it’s open to manipulation and we have seen that quite substantially. They’re still scaring a lot of people off, as it fluctuates so hard.”   He adds that for bitcoin to reach the largest possible market, it will need to be regulated.   “If it wants to become mainstream, it is going to have to subject itself to regulation. That will be a very interesting situation for those involved to subject themselves to that kind of scrutiny,” Lucas says. “Whether it has the same excitement once it’s regulated, we’ll have to wait and see.”   He says he expects there are people already working on a regulated version such as a global currency managed by an international body such as the World Trade Organisation, and that it could emerge in three to five years and overtake the more freewheeling bitcoin options.

Facebook picks 12 companies for its small business accelerator

8:28AM | Tuesday, 20 August

Facebook has today announced the 12 companies that have been selected from Australia and New Zealand to be part of its small business accelerator program.   Facebook received over 3000 applications for the program. The 12 companies selected are The Party People, Snowgum Australia, Bohemia for Hair, Artist Guitars, The Muscle Chef, Natural Sleep, Washington Brown, The AppVillage, Tours on Trike Melbourne, Puddleduck Vineyard, Ladies Luxury Escapes, and Michael Willem Photography.   Nick Bowditch, manager of small business, Australia and New Zealand at Facebook, told StartupSmart they were excited about the range of companies who applied.   “It was tough picking winners because the quality of entries was extremely high, but the one thing each of our winners did well was demonstrate a clear passion for wanting to improve their marketing on Facebook and address specific business challenges,” Bowditch says.   The program, announced in mid-July, is a two-day intensive workshop on how to use Facebook to best promote businesses.   “A lot of the small businesses that entered showed they had focused heavily on getting people to like their (Facebook) page and grow their fan-base,” Bowditch says.   “That’s a great start but the real benefits of using Facebook for marketing comes when you focus on developing compelling content, information or offers to drive deep engagement with fans, and in turn create sales opportunities,” Bowditch says.   The 12 businesses in the program will also receive ad credits during the workshop and three months of support from the Facebook team.   According to the latest Facebook user metrics for Australia, there are almost 10 million daily active users of Facebook, and 12 million monthly active users.

Online shoppers splash more cash on hump day, research shows

8:30AM | Tuesday, 20 August

As Australians spend more of their money online, where and when they’re spending is becoming relevant for retailers considering how to target their marketing.   According to the National Australia Bank’s latest Online Retail Sales Index, Australians spent $13.9 billion in the year ended June, up 21% on the 12 months ended June last year when $11.5 billion was spent.   And according to research by data analytics and marketing strategy firm Quantium, much of that spending is happening in the middle of the week, with Wednesday the peak day for spending.   National Online Retailers Association chief executive Paul Greenberg says the data could have implications for retailers and the timing of their digital marketing.   He says retailers may take a “fish when the fish are biting” approach to their marketing.   Quantium’s research shows Saturday and Sunday are the weakest days for online retail spending. Sales rise on Monday and Tuesday, peak on Wednesday at just over 16% of online spending, before tapering off Thursday and Friday.   Greenberg adds that retailers may also consider targeting their marketing towards days when online spending falls in the hope of boosting it so they can “smooth out” sales across the week.   Greenberg and Adam Ferrier, a consumer psychologist and founding partner of Naked Communications Australia, told StartupSmart higher spending online during the week was most likely because it was when consumers were mostly likely at work and in front of a computer.   Ferrier says consumers could also be motivated to shop during the middle of the week as a break from work.   “These days at work are normally more intense,” he says. “Potentially people are looking for a bit of retail therapy.”   Ferrier adds that the research may redefine when impulse shopping may occur.   “It might be during those times in the afternoon on ‘hump’ day when you need a break or are hungry for a distraction,” he says.   Ferrier also says Friday may be a more “frivolous and fun” time at work in the lead-up to the weekend and leave workers less inclined to want to shop online.   Greenberg suggests weekends are generally weaker for online retail because people are out and about with their families.   Online shoe fashion retailer Shoes of Prey has found Wednesday is their best day for sales, with co-founder Jodie Fox telling StartupSmart they received around 20% more sales that day than the rest of the week.   “I’m genuinely surprised,” she says, adding that it went against her own experience of not having a particular day when she did her own online shopping.   Fox says while Wednesday may be their biggest sales day, they don’t target their marketing to a particular day.   “When we want to share a message with our customers we look at what’s the best way to communicate that message, then the channel – whether email, video, Facebook – then we use that particular channel to its best advantage,” she says.   Retail consultant Franz Madlener was sceptical of the Quantium research that Wednesday was the day consumers spent the most online.   “Customers buy when they have money,” he says.   “Most customers don’t have money on Wednesdays because most people don’t get paid on Tuesdays. It simply doesn’t make sense then that most people would shop online on Wednesdays unless there were extenuating circumstances such as Groupon having their best deals on a Wednesday, or Jetstar their best flight prices on a Wednesday, particularly if customers have never otherwise spent on Wednesdays compared to late week or weekends.”

International entrepreneur Noah Kagan’s tips for validation and global growth

8:17AM | Tuesday, 13 August

It’s not validation if no one has paid for it, and don’t build anything until you’ve started to solve the problem without technology, says AppSumo founder and former Facebook product manager Noah Kagan.   Kagan was the keynote speaker at the recent Startup Victoria conference. He launched app and web services daily deals site AppSumo in 2010.   Before AppSumo he was the 30th employee at Facebook, working as a product manager. He became marketing manager and the fourth employee at software development firm Mint, which now serves millions of users worldwide.   Despite his background in software, Kagan repeatedly advised the conference audience against building anything until they’d properly validated their idea.   “Go to the root of the problem, and work out how to solve it without technology,” Kagan says, adding the best way to test any idea was to only give yourself 48 hours to launch the idea, and to get three paying customers in that period.   “Validation means you’ve made money, and you’ve got proof for your idea. If you don’t make profit, I don’t think that’s validation” Kagan said.   Here he gave StartupSmart his tips on how to validate your idea and why focusing on one growth strategy at a time makes a big difference.

How to inexpensively sort out the legals for your start-up

8:33AM | Tuesday, 13 August

Earlier this year, the team at LegalVision gave us some helpful tips on the legal basics of starting a new business.   Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at legal matters that can arise for a new business once it’s up and running.   Here, Lachlan McKnight, chief executive of LegalVision, offers some ideas about how to keep legal expenses down.   Running a start-up (at least if you’re not funded) is all about trying to keep your costs down. You want to spend as little as possible on goods or services which are not directly related to growing users or revenue.   Obviously there will be some expenses which can’t be avoided - accounting fees and legal fees being two of the main examples. There are, however, lots of ways in which you can reduce your legal costs. We’ve set out a few of these in this article.   1. Get a lawyer to help you for free   Lots of people are friends with lawyers (really!). Get your lawyer mate to help out with reviewing your key documents. Most lawyers I know have helped out their friends on a huge range of legal issues. Start-ups are fun and exciting ventures. It’s fair to say that many lawyers crave a bit of fun and excitement, so give it to them by letting them help you!   2. Give away some equity   If you need a more involved legal presence, and can’t pay for it, you could consider giving away a sliver of equity in return for the legal advice you need. When Facebook was strapped for cash in the early days they gave away equity to lots of service providers. The guy who painted their walls is now worth $200 million!   Obviously you will want to avoid giving away equity if you can avoid it. Paying your lawyer is a much better approach, but if you just don’t have the cash there are entrepreneurial lawyers out there who might be interested in taking equity in your business.   3. Get down and dirty – DIY   There are lots of websites out there offering “DIY” legal documents. Some just offer basic templates, and a few use interactive question and answer software that creates a more customised legal document. If you’re strapped for cash this can be a great way to get low cost legal documents. For simpler documents such as confidentiality agreements and board minutes you may not even need to get a lawyer involved.   For more complex agreements, such as your Shareholders Agreement or a Sale of Business Agreement, you probably will want to work with a lawyer, but bringing along a first draft (if it’s of good quality) will help you reduce the fees you will have to pay the lawyer. Technology is changing the way we do business on a number of levels, and legal services are no exception to this rule.   4. Ask for a package deal   Most start-ups will need a range of documents to get underway, including their website/client terms and conditions, a website privacy policy, a confidentiality agreement, and a shareholders agreement.   If you’re working with a good start-up lawyer, he or she will be able to assist with all of the above. Try and negotiate a package deal. Lawyers are businesspeople. If you’re bringing a nice chunk of business to them, they’ll be incentivised to sign you up as a customer and willing to offer you a discount in order to do so.   To conclude   Although founders don’t want to spend precious runway cash on non-revenue generating services, it’s fair to say that getting the legal issues sorted for your start-up is pretty important. Burying your head in the sand isn’t a good strategy. You need to get legal assistance, so try and get it done well but for a reduced price.

How can I avoid becoming isolated in my home-based business?

7:02AM | Tuesday, 30 July

I’ve started up a home-based business, but am worried about it becoming a little isolated. Outside the contact I have with a few initial clients, I don’t feel I’m having much interaction with the business world, which makes me wonder if I’m lagging behind innovations or industry standards. What can I do about this?   Every start-up business is a combination of optimism and isolation. It is vital to have something special to offer the market and work hard to build up a business base.   At the same time, it is essential to create customers and generate a network of friends and associates who can keep you in touch with trends and what competitors (or copiers of your product or service) are up to.   As I write in my book No Workplace Like Home, you need a staged plan that lists the people who are your keys to success. This means that you identify business leaders, distributors and potential customers who you plan to meet and greet.   By doing this you are proactively establishing what’s new and different and can overcome that sense of being cut off by your start-up activities. Pick up the phone, send them an email and invite their comment on what you are doing.   Here are a few tips to help as you get things onto a steady track.   First, make a list of your key customers so that you can ring them and ask how things are going. Ask who is buying from them, what else they are purchasing and what comments they have made about your product or service.   Next, make contact with shops or customers who may be on your list to expand your business, go to see them and ask the same questions. Concentrate on the ways that your product or service fits in with other market opportunities.   Third, find the small business networks in your neighbourhood, such as the local traders association or the chamber of commerce, and invest a little time in building business networks.   Fourth, use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to let people know what you are doing and to exchange ideas and information to keep you at the front line of start-up activity.   Finally, use StartupSmart.com.au and SmartCompany.com.au mentors as a source of support and challenge so that you stay in touch with their ways of adding value to your business and keep up with the latest in entrepreneurial endeavours.

IAB declares Facebook comments don’t constitute advertising

7:11AM | Thursday, 18 July

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has given its official view regarding ‘comments’ on social media, following confusion about exactly what constitutes advertising.   The industry body has stated that comments written on social media platforms such as Facebook, directed towards an organisation or to other users, don’t constitute advertising.   But companies still have to make the extra effort to engage with users on social media and clear up any possible misconceptions.   The confirmation is a welcome one. About a year ago, the Advertising Standards Board declared a brand’s Facebook page constitutes an advertisement. The ruling sparked confusion among small businesses.   The crux of the ASB’s ruling was that a Facebook page is essentially used as a marketing tool.   Although the ASB has no actual legal authority, there was misunderstanding over the decision. The new IAB announcement is meant to clarify some of that confusion.   The IAB’s director of regulatory affairs, Samantha Yorke, told SmartCompany it needs to be spelled out exactly what Facebook comments are classified as.   “After a careful analysis of existing laws, regulation and industry practice around social media, IAB Australia has reached the view that user comments directed towards an organisation or social media platform, or to other users who are drawn to a particular organisation, do not constitute advertising,” she says.   Yorke says the decision was made because, if organisations view comments as advertisements, there is a risk they will “err on the side of caution” and be heavy-handed in their moderation, potentially impacting the “spirit” of social media.   Yorke says the IAB had some concern with the ASB decision because it would require all businesses to take the exact same approach to moderation.   “We didn’t think that would necessarily be reflective of how businesses wanted to operate in this space.   “Some businesses will want to have a conservative approach, while others will want to push the envelope and talk about controversial things,” Yorke says.   The IAB says companies still have a responsibility to moderate comments extensively, and have prepared a list of guidelines for how businesses should do so. Some of these include developing moderation guidelines and publishing them, developing a moderation schedule and creating a “crisis management plan”.   Such plans are useful in case social media sites are hacked – which has become a slightly more common occurrence among businesses both large and small.   The complete plan is available through the IAB.   Yorke says for now, businesses need to make sure they treat their Facebook pages “consistently” – and it’s easier for them to do if user comments aren’t viewed as advertising.   “But there still needs to be a sense of responsibility,” she warns.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Five simple strategies to attract the right people to your business on Facebook

7:49AM | Thursday, 18 July

Are you attracting the right people to your business page on Facebook?   Are you wondering why some people seem to have a steady stream of “likes” and interaction, while your page falls flat?   If that’s you, today’s post offers some encouragement. A lot of people give up on social media because they don’t know how to attract the right people to their social profiles.   If you think this topic has been done to death, I hope to show you today that there is still much businesses can learn about Facebook marketing that isn’t covered by the Facebook gurus.   Below are five simple strategies you may have overlooked:   1. Including a Facebook Like box on your website   I’ve mentioned this strategy before but you’d be surprised at how many people overlook it. So, I thought it was worth mentioning again. A Facebook Like box entices qualified prospective clients to “like” your business page, particularly if they never log out of Facebook and can see which of their Facebook friends like you too.   2. Including a “like” button on your newsletters and emails   Do you invite your subscribers and customers to “like” you? You may be amazed at how many don’t already “like” your business page. Don’t take it for granted. Ask for the “like” so you can continue the conversation and relationship building with them on your Facebook page.   3. Inviting people to “like” your Facebook page in guest posts   When you guest post somewhere, do you invite people to ask you questions on Facebook? This one simple strategy opens the floor for people who may never have come across you before, but who are interested in what you have to offer.   4. Sharing the Facebook SMS address to people at networking events so they can “like” your page immediately   Did you know that your contacts can “like” you on Facebook via SMS? Test it out now! Text the words (with no parentheses): “like casmccullough” to 32665. You can find out more about this here at Facebook.   5. Creating Facebook ads targeted at your mailing list, using Power Editor   This week social media pro Jon Loomer wrote a beaut post about this on Social Media Examiner. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought you might like to read it here.   Again, just because they’re your subscribers, does not mean they “like” your business page on Facebook already. If you’d like to extend more relationship-building opportunities to your subscribers, inviting them to “like” you so you can continue the conversation on Facebook is a fantastic idea. You can simply upload your mailing list to Facebook and target an ad specifically at your mailing list recipients.   Over to you! Have you implemented any of the above simple strategies? Leave a comment below to share your outcomes or suggestions!   P.S: I’m hosting a FREE webinar on July 31 where I’m going to share more on Facebook marketing conversion strategies and take your questions. If you need help in this area, register here.

The social media campaign making Coles and Woolworths take notice of new products

7:33PM | Thursday, 18 July

The start-up social enterprise behind Thankyou Water has launched a major social media campaign to get its products stocked at Coles and Woolworths.   Founder Daniel Flynn told StartupSmart the campaign’s success has even taken Thankyou’s team of 12 by surprise.   “It’s really nerve-wracking when you launch something like this because it’s up to the people,” Flynn says. “We were watching it in the first few minutes, we couldn’t believe it. The support has been amazing.”   Thankyou products, including a water range, food range and body care range, directly fund projects in developing countries. The team behind the brand called for supporters to upload videos and post comments to Coles and Woolworths Facebook pages to show they’d buy the products if stocked.   Their launch video has received over 22,000 views and hundreds of people have got in touch.   A post by Coles on their Facebook page saying they’re overwhelmed by the support and looking forward to meeting with the Thankyou team has received over 2,500 likes and almost 1,000 comments.   A similar post on the Woolworths page saying they’re looking forward to a meeting has received over 1,800 likes and almost 1,000 comments. Flynn told StartupSmart they had already locked in meetings with Coles and Woolworth, but they had to demonstrate demand.   “The meetings were locked in prior to the campaign to present, but the key to this presentation and really what underpins this is we didn’t want to present just an idea. Because in the past we’ve presented ideas to retailers, they’ve said ‘that’s nice’ but we’ve struggled to get traction. We needed to present an opportunity, and even we didn’t realise how big it was,” Flynn says.   He says they’ve been working on the campaign for a few months, and the products for 15 months.   “A lot of our time has gone into development and making great products. We knew we had to nail the product to make sure people keep buying it. People will buy something once because it’s a good cause but go back to other brands,” Flynn says.   Flynn says an appearance on the Sunrise TV program yesterday morning, and their call-to-action-laden launch video have been the most important elements in campaign taking off.   They ran a similar but much smaller campaign last year to get their products stocked in 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country.   “We were aiming for those numbers but we’ve smashed the metrics of that whole campaign in first day,” Flynn says, adding showing the opportunity is just the first step in their plans.   “This campaign is a long one. While we want to get the products on the shelves, we also need to get them off. We need to raise awareness to get our products sold as well. We don’t have the millions to advertise, so we put the cart before the horse to make the product move by raising awareness,” Flynn says.   Consumers can track the impact of their purchase on Thankyou Water’s website. Projects funded include clean drinking water, food and nutrition, as well as health and hygiene training.   “I’m now even more confident there is a big opportunity to make a massive impact. It’s my open dream Coles and Woollies will take this on board, because the figures of what could happen are crazy and a lot of people are keen to get behind us,” Flynn says.

Australians building empires from their local café

7:30AM | Tuesday, 16 July

Hunched over a laptop with a smartphone by her side, Andrea Sophocleous is a familiar sight in the cafes around the trendy Sydney suburb of Newtown.   The freelance publicist and writer heads into a café, orders a pot of tea and transforms a table into a makeshift office for a few hours, returning calls, tapping out some words and checking her emails.   Sophocleous is one of a growing army of Australians grabbing their laptop and escaping their home office to work from a café in search of new input and stimulation. Choosing a café over an office space is of course a far cheaper option, making it particularly appealing to start-ups.   Sophocleous regularly works from Maynard’s Café, set within Berkelouw Books in Newtown. She spreads out her MacBook and paperwork on the vast collective table, which means she’s just taking up a single seat rather than an entire table, which she admits alleviates any guilt.   “The reason I work from cafes is to escape the limited confines of my home office and hopefully benefit from external stimulation and inspiration. Some noise and excitement is good, but too much would be distracting,” Sophocleous says.   “There are generally other people – freelance workers and students – working away on laptops, so at times it can have the feel of a hip open-plan office, particularly with all the books surrounding the café tables.”   Melbourne businessman Paul Meissner launched his start-up from café tables, admitting he took over a table at a different café across the city every day for two years.   He openly admits this saved him having to fork out for office space while setting up his cloud-based accounting firm.   “The experience was amazing. In fact, many café owners were really appreciative of me being there.”   Travel bloggers Caroline and Craig Makepeace also frequent cafes with their laptop to work.   The pair works a six hour stint in their local café on the central coast, an hour north of Sydney, every week. When they’re on the road, they write from cafes across the country most days.   The ideal café is one with comfortable couches, relaxing music, good coffee, power point access and where possible, free WiFi.   Sophocleous opts for establishments with lots of light, enough space so you don’t feel like you’re tying up a table and a medium level of noise.   The unwritten rules But there are some tips for ensuring you’re not booted out of a café for breaking any unwritten rules.   Meissner recommends asking staff if they mind giving you a table near a power point to get some work done. Ordering a drink straight away, or order food if you’re there during meal times, he advises.   “Try and order drinks steadily during the time you’re there. You don’t need to always have a drink on the go, but don’t sit there for hours on one coffee.”   And if the café has a Twitter account or Facebook page, promote them as being friendly to business, he adds.   Makepeace often asks the waiter if it’s OK if to work, just to be polite.   “It’s a good gauge on whether it is the right working environment. You don’t want to stay if they will be resentful towards you.”   If the café is busy, she’ll order a meal.   “But if it’s quiet, I don’t think that’s important because you’re helping fill up the café and make it look popular.”   If a few rules are followed, the majority of café owners welcome workers armed with laptops.   In fact, a Brisbane café has taken the concept of welcoming workers one step further by renting desks for $10 a day to creative people wanting to work in a café.   Located near Fortitude Valley, The Rabbit Hole Ideation Café provides WiFi, desks, chairs, lockers, a meeting room, air conditioning, and an outdoor patio for those wanting to work in a relaxed shared space.   Melbourne’s Cupcake Central also welcomes workers. It is one of many cafes to provide a recharge station especially for workers.   Paul Lange has worked in dozens of cafes over the years running his virtual business incubation program. He suggests hosting meetings at your favourite café, which brings new business in for the café owner. As people come to meet you, try and introduce them to staff and the café owner, he says.   “When you find the right place and go regularly, you’ll find the owner will be happy for you to stay longer. You may even find that the occasional coffee or lunch is on the house.”   What not to do   But Brianna Robinson of Perth café Esprezzo doesn’t like workers parking themselves in her establishment for hours, so purposefully doesn’t offer free WiFi.   “We find that generally, people who come in and work for hours on end on their laptops don’t purchase enough to warrant the seat they have taken up. One coffee does not justify staying three hours.” Correct etiquette would be to pay for your time by at least ordering a meal or a few drinks, she says.   “If you intend to stay a while, perhaps ask staff where would be the best location to sit. We have nothing against people on laptops, so long as they pay their way,” Robinson says.   Andrew Huffer of fellow Perth establishment Food for Me agrees not all workers play fair.   “I’ve been in the position where I need to find a place to just sit down and get some work done. A cafe is the logical spot when you’re on the move,” he says.   “But when I’m on the other side of the counter – things change. I get frustrated when someone plonks themselves down with a laptop in a prime real estate position and orders one latte over the course of three hours. That’s really pushing the friendship,” Huffer says.   Although his business sense takes over and he works hard to make patrons to feel welcome so they return.   Top tips – To find the ideal café to work from: Consider asking if the waiter minds you working before you sit down Opt for cafes with relaxing music, good lighting and lots of space Rotate cafes to bring new input and stimulation Make sure you order something, preferably a meal if the café is busy Choose a table with privacy so people can’t see what’s on your screen Come with fully charged equipment Be conscious not to speak too loud into your mobile phone or disrupt other diners

Building community: Finding the first 10,000 fans

7:45AM | Tuesday, 16 July

When launching a band, web platform or any kind of product, there’s one challenge we all: How to find the first 10,000 fans?   There are many different approaches – some smart but difficult, others easy but expensive. The first 10,000 fans create momentum for your product. No one likes to hang out in an empty bar no matter how great the music is. The best way to experience a new band is in a small venue crammed with screaming fans – a small group of trendy tastemakers who will be the first in the world to discover this great talent.   Then one day they can say, "I saw them at venue X with 200 other people and now they're playing stadiums”. But, how do you find this first group of fans? How can you ensure they're the 'right' people: The people that others will follow? How do you make them love you?   I'll look at three ways of reaching your first 10,000 fans, as well as how I used each in music and at Posse, to varying levels of success.   1. Paid marketing, PR and hype   All these methods aim to put your brand in front of as many people as possible in a way that says, "Try me. I'm cool and I'll make your life better." They all work, otherwise no one would use them.   PR may create more exposure per unit cost than paid advertising, although some new marketing tools like paid Facebook ads can be effective at reaching targeted audiences for a lower cost. Hype certainly helped sites like Pinterest and Wanelo grow from hundreds of thousands of users to many millions.   But what about the first 10,000 fans? A new start-up with a good story can score both PR and hype. That's easy. It's also easy for a new band to set the whole music industry talking through rumours that a major record deal is imminent.   But hype, PR and paid marketing are like cotton candy: It tastes sweet; you get an instant sugar high, but then crashes when everyone goes away.   Big record labels used to burn through artist's careers by launching them like this. They had pots of money, were impatient – and a bit lazy.   Does anyone remember the girl group 'Cherry' or 'Jackson Mendoza'? One big label launched both in the late 1990s and early 2000s, coupled with massive marketing budgets. Both failed to connect. They never found the first 10,000 fans, so they never got the momentum they needed to build a community.   It's the same in tech. At Posse, we've had a lot of great PR. Every time a headline story breaks, our user numbers jump – but often we don't gain quality users. They join the site, add a couple of places and don't come back. If we depended on PR, marketing and hype to build our user base, we'd be dead.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 2. One-by-one engagement and community building   One-by-one engagement and community building is a long, slow, painful, yet effective way to build an engaged audience.   In a previous blog, I wrote about our early experiences launching the band Evermore. We spent two years with no money driving all over the country playing in high schools by day and small pubs by night. After they played, the band would hang around and meet fans, personally selling CD singles and signing them. They met a lot of people in two years and these fans felt special. They'd seen a show, had met the band personally and became evangelists, calling their local radio stations requesting the songs. Momentum started building.   The bad news? It's a process that takes time, hard work and can't be accelerated. In 2008, my music company, Scorpio, signed the musician Matt Corby. In 2009, we released his first EP and his manager, Matt Emsell, arranged for Matt to play “secret shows” at fans' houses, or in their back gardens, so long as they could organise enough people.   Over four years of constant touring and many EP releases, he built up a passionate army of fans. So, when his new record was released in 2012, they rushed to buy it and share it with their friends. The fans felt that they were responsible for Matt's success – and they were. This real momentum created hype which led to his 2012 EP reaching five-time platinum sales and winning the ARIA Award for Song of the Year.   The communities in tech that have stood the test of time often also took years to develop. Twitter launched in 2006 and developed a passionate but small user base before taking off more than two years later in January 2009.   Pinterest launched in 2009 by issuing a handful of invitations to designers to use the platform, and they each received invitations to give to friends. By October 2010, they had 40,000 users and started organising user meet-ups to help fans build real-world relationships. Founder Ben Silbermann often tells the story about how he had trouble raising money from VCs because his initial growth curve wasn't steep enough.   It wasn't until January 2012, more than two years after they launched, that Pinterest became airborne, and in August 2012 they lifted the need to have an invitation to join.   We're still in the early stages of building our fan community at Posse. Of the strategies we've tried, two have been powerful:   Advisor program:   We advertise on free student job boards all over the world for “advisors” to intern from home for our start-up. These advisors commit to completing two activities a week for a four-week program and at the end we provide them with a letter for their résumé.   The activities include running user experience tests, writing up product feedback, recruiting friends to join Posse, promoting Posse to retailers in their area, distributing stickers for store windows and creating a blog about the best places in their town.   We run the program every four weeks and aim to have 120 advisors participate. We've now run it six times and improve it each time. This has been an incredibly effective, low cost way for us to build communities of engaged evangelists and seed new geographies for Posse.   The advisors themselves love the program, they report that they learn a lot, use the reference letter to gain entry to places in university courses, and many ask to stay involved with Posse as brand ambassadors.   Our blog:   We post two to three blogs every day featuring the favourite places of well-known people or lists of the best places to do X in a town.   For example, check out this blog post featuring Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore's favourite places to eat and drink. It's very easy to ask a chef, fashion designer, musician, actor or politician for a list of their favourite places to visit in their hometown; people love to share their recommendations.   Our community manager, Justine, writes up the blogs and encourages the person who's being featured to share it on Facebook and Twitter (which they usually do, often to hundreds of thousands of followers). She also reaches out to each of the featured stores and they all post and tweet the link. Everyone is looking for content to post to social media, and the blog generates a huge amount of traffic for Posse.   3. Aligning yourself with another brand   I've found this to be the most effective way to accelerate desirable growth. In 2004, we had spent two years building Evermore's community, one by one.   There was good momentum, but they were not a national name. However, everyone was aware of a new show on Channel Ten called The OC. It was edgy, young, cool and loved by the right crowd of teenage girls and sophisticated young women.   I also noticed that Channel Ten hammered the promos in every ad break. I called their switchboard and asked reception: “Who makes the promos for The OC?”   Eventually, I reached their producer, introduced myself, described Evermore, and said I'd courier a CD of the song straight away (no emailing MP3s then!). Later that same afternoon, he called me back, said he loved the track and would use it as the theme to the promo that would start playing during the final of Big Brother that Sunday.     Channel Ten continued to play Evermore's song It's too late as the theme for The OC trailers for another month. Thousands of new people signed up to our website every day. The OC had captured the imagination of a huge audience.   They emotionally connected with the characters and the sentiment of the show. The brand alignment worked for us because of that emotional connection. The audience transferred their feelings for the show to Evermore, so by association we were a hit too. No one remembers which song was the theme of Dancing with the Stars or The Rugby World Cup, even though they received the same level of exposure.   I haven't seen start-ups use brand partnerships in the same way, but it must be possible. I'm working on a couple of opportunities for Posse right now; I'll tell you if one of them comes off!   Finding the right first 10,000 fans takes careful thought, hard work and patience. There are few examples of bands or companies with longevity that took off overnight without some kind of granular community strategy. We're always looking for new ways to engage our users and turn them into evangelists.   If anyone else knows stories of how others have succeeded in music or in tech, or if you'd like to share your own ideas please add them as comments below. I'd love to hear them!

Facebook announces small business accelerator program

7:39AM | Tuesday, 16 July

Australian and New Zealand-based start-ups and small businesses can now apply to take part in social media giant Facebook’s small business accelerator program.   Twelve businesses will be selected to take part in a two-day workshop on how businesses can use Facebook to grow.   They will receive credits towards their Facebook use and three months of ongoing support from the Facebook team.   Nick Bowditch, manager of small business for Australia and New Zealand at Facebook, says in a statement the large number of Australians using Facebook meant businesses with a strong presence on the platform could take part in these conversations.   “Many small businesses are doing great things on Facebook and we are committed in helping them continue to unlock the opportunities open to them,” Bowditch said.   The Sensis 2013 Yellow Social Media Report in May found more Australian small businesses have a social media presence than ever before, but are still far behind the number of consumers on social networks.   The report found 30% of Australian small businesses and 47% of medium-sized businesses have an online presence, well below the 65% of Australians overall who use sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.   “This shows all SMEs need to make use of digital opportunities, even if it’s just being there,” Sensis executive general manager of digital partnerships and innovation Kelly Brough said at the time.   Bowditch says the Facebook Small Business Accelerator Program will see the company work with 12 businesses and support them by “fast-tracking their path to success on Facebook”.   “ We look forward to receiving submissions from businesses of all different types from across Australia and New Zealand, and working with the 12 selected businesses to help them maximise their efforts on Facebook,” he says.   According to Facebook, there are 16 million small businesses around the world using Facebook Pages.   Bowditch told StartupSmart they were looking for companies who understood the need to have a social media presence.    “The program is open to all small businesses located in Australia and New Zealand with a Facebook Page. Businesses that will stand out are those that know enough about social media to know that they should have a presence and are looking to take their social media savvy to the next level,” Bowditch says.   Applications close August 12. Winners will be announced 19 August.   You can apply here.

Australian social selling app for the younger generation ready to take on eBay

7:16PM | Sunday, 14 July

A 20-year-old entrepreneur has launched an online sales app targeted at the new generation of online shoppers and integrated with social media.   Stephen Chapman, founder of the social selling app Facebuy, told StartupSmart the way Gen Y was selling and buying online has changed.   “This is a younger generation targeted tool because eBay has been around for a long time and my generation isn’t looking at eBay, that’s for our parents,” Chapman says.   He says the app focuses on fashion, concert tickets and textbooks first, as these are the items young people are selling online via Twitter and Facebook.   “We’ve created a centralised place to sell these items that feeds straight through Twitter and Facebook, so your friends can comment and promote it,” Chapman says.   Launched two weeks ago, the app has been downloaded over 500 times, has 300 registered users and 150 items have been uploaded.   “That conversion rate is pretty good. It’s definitely working and we can see potential,” Chapman says. “We’re focusing on a customer-reach model rather than revenue, while we’re still tweaking it.”   The app is free to download and users can also list their items for free. For each sale, Facebuy takes a $2 fee and 1.5% of the price plus 30c goes to PayPal.   Chapman says they’ll be focusing on recruiting eBay sellers in the next few weeks, especially those who have listed more than 400 items and have good customer feedback.   “We’re going to show them it’s a cheaper, quicker, younger and trendier way to sell online, that doesn’t carve their bottom line up,” he says, adding the idea was sparked by his frustration having the pay listing fees on eBay.   With a brand similar to Facebook and eBay as its main competitor, Chapman is staying focused on his point of difference.   “Yeah, the big giants always want to sue anyone to stop them starting up. I looked into it and I’ve trademarked the word Facebuy in Australian markets, and there was no issue,” Chapman says, adding it’s using the Facebook API (application programming interface), so Facebook knows it exist.   “But these big giants are faceless. They can’t have a personality or personal story attached to their brand like I can. We can be more agile and add new categories, and tweak as we go.”   Chapman says his focus is on developing the customer base in Australia, and seeking funding and mentoring to expand internationally.   “China and Hong Kong will be big for us. Maybe not them selling to each other, but a lot of power sellers on eBay of cheaper products come from there,” Chapman says.   Facebuy is also one of 250 entrants in the Million Pound Startup competition, which is run by London-based start-up incubator Digital Shoreditch.

Six ways time-poor entrepreneurs can get more mileage from content marketing

7:31PM | Sunday, 14 July

Content marketing is being hailed as the holy grail for marketers and start-ups everywhere.   But what we often overlook is that it’s hard work and time-consuming, so it’s easy to see why time-poor entrepreneurs simply don’t get around to it.   That’s why there’s an easier way to reap the benefits of content marketing without needing to do all the grunt work yourself. Here are six tips:   1. YouTube interview   Too busy to dream up your own content? One of the oldest tricks in the book, and still one of the best, is to interview someone. Some people use this technique to build entire careers and they never have to create their own content!   If you’re in person, use your smartphone to record it – there’s no technology excuses anymore. If you’re not in the same location, you can use Skype for free and Skype Call Recorder for $20 to record it. Then use a low-cost online service like Elance or Fiverr and get someone to convert it to a YouTube video. Or use iMovie if you want to do it yourself.   2. Use the audio version as a podcast   You can also just take an audio version of your interview and embed it on your website as a podcast for people to listen to.   3. Get a transcription for your blog   Take the YouTube URL of the interview and use a tool called Speechpad to transcribe it for you.   From $1 per minute of audio, this sure beats hitting play and rewind and typing it all up yourself. You can spend that time running your business or lining up the next interview.   4. Take a handful of transcriptions and turn it into an eBook   You’ve already got all the content you need to release an eBook and you don’t need to pick up a pen (or open your laptop). Compile four or so video interview transcripts and shoot it off to your designer on Elance or Odesk to whip it into a PDF eBook.   Some of the bestselling books of all time are just interviews. This format means you’re the author, but your guests have provided all the content – perfect for us time-poor entrepreneurs!   5. Email the top five insights to your subscribers   You wouldn’t usually send 40 pages of content via an email but why not send the ‘eBook highlights’ via email and attach the entire eBook for people who want to read the whole thing?   6. Do the final 1% of sharing it around   My final tip is to remember that the “easy wins” occur after you hit publish (which is when most people think their job is done). It takes minimal extra effort to post your content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram once it’s live.   And the biggest goldmine of all is LinkedIn groups. Share your valuable content in the appropriate LinkedIn groups you’re a member of and interact with the readers who are kind enough to leave a comment.   It’s no secret that it’s hard work running a business and hard to do good content marketing, but leverage your time and use these tips and it gets easier. Feel free to download this free editorial calendar template to help keep yourself on track too!

Stay lean as you climb to the top

7:56AM | Friday, 5 July

This article was first published on April 11, 2012.   One of the things that struck me about Facebook’s $US1 billion takeover of photo app maker Instagram was just how few people the company had – just 13 full time employees, who will share in a bonus pool of $US 100 million as a result of the deal.   Now, Instagram is just two years old, so the fact it has just 13 employees isn’t remarkable. But when a business is worth $US 1 billion, it will generally have many times this number of employees. You could host the Instagram Christmas party in a phone box!   Instagram has stayed lean by focusing very tightly on its core function – creating a great app. Most of its staff are engineers and the business development side of the company was slower to start. This is underlined by the fact it is still not profitable.   The company’s founders say they have not been “lean” for the sake of it. Instead, they have focused on being nimble – that is, keeping up with technological changes and growth. And they’ve hired according to this mission.   Tech start-ups are different of course – many of you would need to hire business development or sales people much earlier than Instagram has needed to, just to keep the doors open.   But the way the Instagram has focused very tightly on the its core mission – and built its team around this – is impressive.   Get it done – today!