Back to the Basics: Summary from Tuesday, April 07, 2009

This week’s discussion focused on business fundamentals.  Less tech talk this week, but nice to focus on some of the other things that keep our businesses running.  Thanks to everyone who participated and shared experiences from their own business development.  Great to see this conversation keep growing.
First, a few reminders:
Summary:
sbbuzz: Q1 from @scoblitz Are you working virtually, in an office, or both? Anyone coworking? What is working best for your biz? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q2 What is the biggest challenge of virtual work place & flexible schedule? How do you address it? #sbbuzz

  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q2 – being disciplined to stay on focus with work. #sbbuzz
  • deneki: Q2 – need boundaries! Set work hours, set personal hours. Need to be OK with not working sometimes. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: @sbbuzz Q2 – I think you have to be very results focused, with hard deadlines. #sbbuzz
  • smallbiztrends: Finding tools to create a virtual workspace to collaborate online can be a challenge. #sbbuzz
  • CASUDI: The biggest challenge I have found seems to be time management. #sbbuzz
  • KathyHerrmann: I’m not a morning person so I have to be disciplined about getting the day started w/o big stick of getting into an office on time. #sbbuzz
  • Timberry: Q2 – I’d suggest metrics, as in measuring results, progress, tracking … #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q2 biggest challenge is not setting boundaries between home time/work time. Getting better (in fact, late b/c I was at gym!) #sbbuzz
  • designleap: @sbbuzz Q2 doing one thing at a time is not possible. I quit my email and then seem to get some work done. #sbbuzz
  • MusicSpirit: Q2 the biggest challenge is staying on track with your milestones. #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
  • toddschnick: @designleap email is a time management killer. have you tried the checking email only twice a day strategy? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q3 from @bradfordshimp How (or are) you raising capital? How do you find resources? #sbbuzz
  • KathyHerrmann: We’re doing it the old fashioned way of bootstrapping. We use combo low-cost & free resources right now. & do without in some cases. #sbbuzz
  • gotocasnet: We have a bank credit line but are accelerating our AR collection efforts… #sbbuzz
  • mattharrell: @bradfordshimp About the only thing that’s moving at all is Angel money. Smaller deals but not necessarily less of them are hapning #sbbuzz
  • gotocasnet: We are also talking to vendors whom we resell for to extend better terms to help our cash flow #sbbuzz
  • Timberry: @bradfordshrimp I’m seeing some movement in angel money, and was with somebody yesterday who got a call from a VC fishing … #sbbuzz
  • kcolaco: @mattharrell there are a few second tier VC’s fishing, and space shifters have access to money but otherwise its mostly angels #sbbuzz
  • gotocasnet: I have found making angel connections is all from networking #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: When raising money, do you have to give away some ownership? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q4 Do you manage your own business finances? Financial statements? Bookkeeping? How do you find help with it? #sbbuzz

  • deneki: Q4 Used outsourced accounting for a while – brought on a FT person as soon as it was affordable. #sbbuzz
  • staehrmedia: I manage my own finances, with a very good banker. Have a tax accountant. Rest of the bookeeping with Quickbooks. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: @sbbuzz Q4 – Yes, I manage my own finances. I think until you have a good understanding, you have to – then you can bring in help. #sbbuzz
  • designleap: @sbbuzz I’ve been using QuickBooks Pro and it’s been great. #sbbuzz
  • wifepreneur: Q4 I manage my own finances, when we were smaller we used a template provided by SBA or SCORE, we now use QuickBooks #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q3 I have historically done my own bookkeeping but am recently leaning towards finding admin help. #sbbuzz
  • KathyHerrmann: We use same strategy as @staehrmedia. Next step will be a bookkeeper to take care of acctg admin tasks. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: I think when you get help with the finances, you need to know your key #’s to track and have good checks and balances. #sbbuzz
  • jonfollett: #sbbuzz Q4: We use QuickBooks, have a great accounting team, a banker, and various insurance guys for planning, as well
  • kcolaco: We use Peachtree, have an internal accountant and bookeepers as well as a great tax team #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q5 What type of advertising do you do? Local? Online? Offline? Adwords? How can you tell what is working? #sbbuzz
  • MusicSpirit: Q5 We used Facebooks ads in the past. Traditional media is expensive and needs to be done continually for maximum effect. #sbbuzz
  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q5: direct response, social media, WOM #sbbuzz
  • wifepreneur: Q5-For us its mostly online, directories and referral websites. We use google analytics to see where traffic is coming from. #sbbuzz
  • deneki: Q5 Online only so we can track it. Adwords, FB, banner ads. #sbbuzz
  • KathyHerrmann: We don’t advertise right now but I make extensive use of SM – Blogging, LI, Twitter, FB, commenting on other blogs, etc. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: We don’t use advertising. We use marketing. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: But in the future, we won’t use marketing. We will use conversations. #sbbuzz
  • staehrmedia: Q5 Did a TV spot when first started business. Some print in a local shopper. No feedback #sbbuzz
  • jonfollett: #sbbuzz Q5: Offline we sponsor professional group activities and events; Online we write articles, blog, and use social media
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q5: No regular formal advertising. Have experimented w/ phone book, Adwords, others but not enough return to justify costs. #sbbuzz
  • kcolaco: Q5 Our “conversations” (@bradfordshimp) are with small retailers and to keep CAC costs under control we depend on evangelizing #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q5 We’ve tried some ads in targeted newsletters but mostly WOM has been biggest driver of web traffic & customer accounts. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @jonfollett @designleap I am having good luck w/ Clicky for analytics with some sites / clients. http://getclicky.com #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q6 Do you offer employee benefits? What benefits? When did you start? Any other incentives? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q7 As the business owner, what do you spend most of your time working on? #sbbuzz
  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q7 deliverables, but want to spend more time marketing #sbbuzz
  • wifepreneur: Q7 Networking for sure, its the most effective way of getting leads #sbbuzz
  • jonfollett: #sbbuzz Q7: Right now doing lots of biz dev, speaking engagements, networking, and project management.
  • staehrmedia: Q7 Offering unequalled customer service to keep the customers I have and get referrals (sic) for new ones #sbbuzz
  • deneki: Q7 Biz dev, selling key customers, marketing, just a little operations. #sbbuzz
  • MusicSpirit: Q7 Researching the various marketing and promotional strategies for next release. Weighing cost vs. ROI. #sbbuzz
  • MusicSpirit: Q7 (continued from first tweet)…and coordinating everything that does not involve the actual production of the release. #sbbuzz
  • mattharrell: Q7, networking, managing, planning, plus whatever tasks aren’t assigned to someone else. Some days I don’t know what I did ;). #sbbuzz
  • designleap: @sbbuzz Q7 Participating in Social Media, LinkedIn, different forums, now I’m getting a hang of Twitter. #sbbuzz
  • KathyHerrmann: Networking, marketing, sales discussions, account management, billing. My partner is point on development & implementation. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q8 What do you wish you had more time for? How do you find it? #sbbuzz

  • bradfordshimp: I wish I had more time to read and write. I have to get up real early (for me) to make a dent. #sbbuzz
  • staehrmedia: Q8 I’d like to have time to read something other than what I need to get my work done. #sbbuzz
  • jonfollett: #sbbuzz Q8 Would love more time to read the pile of cool design and tech books I have on my shelf, to listen to tunes, and to exercise too
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q8 Training and skill development. Reading for enjoyment rather than research. #sbbuzz
  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q8 – wish i had time to review more blogs. only review about 50/day. #sbbuzz
  • smallbiztrends: I wish I had more time to develop new offerings and new revenue streams. There’s never enough time. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q9 Sounds like we want to read more. So what do you recommend we read? Any specific books, blogs, newsletters, shampoo bottles? #sbbuzz

  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q9 World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott @dmscott #sbbuzz
  • staehrmedia: Q9 I’d like to re-read some of the novels from my college days. Take more time for Bible reading, stuff like that #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: @sbbuzz Q9 General biz books + industry specific stuff + up to the minute blogs. #sbbuzz
  • wifepreneur: two books that everyone should read 7 habits of highly effective people and little black book of connections,some good blogs #sbbuzz
  • designleap: @sbbuzz I recommend reading Target Marketing, I’ve learned a lot of valuable things from this magazine. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: I suggest these 7 business books – http://bit.ly/hvqW0 (expand) #sbbuzz
  • jonfollett: #sbbuzz Q9: The Black Swan – Taleb, Pattern Recognition – Gibson, The Tipping Point – Gladwell, The Rise of the Creative Class – Florida
  • toddschnick: @sbbuzz Q9 – all small biz owners should read E-Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber – MUST READ! #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: If you are an entrepreneur you really need to read Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz #sbbuzz
  • mattharrell: Any books by Jim Collins. Good To Great. Hopefully reading Built to Last in couple of weeks while on vacation. Yep…vacation!
  • nrohrbach: Q8: Have to say I wish I had more time for implementation. I have so many ideas/concepts/software to get into, but no time to act #sbbuzz
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