Category Archives: business start-up

Happy Birthday, #SBBuzz!

When we started the #sbbuzz chat 2 years ago today, our primary goal was to connect with other tech savvy small business owners and work together to tackle the myriad challenges that the onset of social media, cloud computing, mobile technology and virtual collaboration present to small businesses.  We never anticipated that this effort would result in such amazing conversations, so many new friends and business opportunities, and even a few new employees.  We count this project as a HUGE success.

Though we recently discontinued the regularly scheduled #sbbuzz chats, we continue to work with the wonderful #sbbuzz community members on myriad different projects, collaborations and even businesses. And we continue to explore opportunities to take this conversation in a new direction. Staying true to our original intent, we are not here to tinker with the latest social media gadget, or self-promote our products and businesses, but rather continue looking for ways to create useful and meaningful interactions for entrepreneurs, like ourselves, with very little time and very many questions.

To commemorate the anniversary, we will be hosting our first #sbbuzz chat of 2011 this Tuesday, February 8th from 8:00 – 10:00 PM EST. Please join us for a fun look at where we as a small business community have come and where we are going.

And to celebrate the successes we have had thus far, I thought I would share with you some comments from participants of the #sbbuzz chats about their experiences with #sbbuzz and what it has meant to them.  I was overwhelmed by the responses and thrilled to hear about the many opportunities that the #sbbuzz program brought to so many of the participants.  I am including a few of the stories below.

Neal Rohrbach (@nrohrbach) was one of the first #sbbuzz participants and a fixture at the chat each week. I had the great pleasure to follow Neal through his and fellow #sbbuzz participant Brad Shimp (@bradfordshimp) build a new business largely through their own Twitter community. Neal is now the host of his own Outdoor Channel TV show, and talks a little about the part #sbbuzz played in his journey.

First and foremost, I want to thank the entire crew that put together #sbbuzz and kept it going for nearly two years. It certainly played a crucial role in changing my career path and helped me to find my niche and passions in the business world. To call #sbbuzz anything other than phenomenal would be a gross understatement. Through the weekly chats that I was able to be a part of early on, I met and made several friends, and even a business partner. Idea Anglers was founded because of #sbbuzz, which merited coverage on Businessweek’s website and landed me on center stage in Hollywood at the Kodak Theater for the first Los Angeles 140 Characters Conference. Unfortunately, Brad Shimp and I grew so quickly in our professional careers, that we didn’t have the time to continue moving Idea Anglers forward. This was much due to the networking, technology and practices learned through #sbbuzz. When I first started participating in #sbbuzz, I was working two jobs and running a home based marketing and graphics business. The practices, technology and people I met through #sbbuzz soon led to my home based business growing to the point that I could quit one of my part time jobs. The next thing I knew, I had offers on the table for my side business to be purchased by two of my competitors who worked on their businesses full time. Now that’s saying something. #sbbuzz quickly made me into a household name, especially in my community, as I started traveling to conferences and tweetups, sharing my marketing and entrepreneurship models, as well as the Idea Anglers story. The next thing I knew, I was hired by Outdoor Channel Outfitters and quickly moved up the chain from Art Director to Chief Creative Officer and now sit as the President of Marketing and Sales and will be hosting the Outdoor Channel Outfitters television show for 2011. I’d like to think that’s a pretty good testament to how the #sbbuzz chat helped me. As far as my business, well, taking what I learned from #sbbuzz, it went from a part time, home based business to a full time job, just before selling it with residual income. I can see small business collaboration continuing to grow in the social media realm, and soon be an integral part of each and every business model.

Scott Blitstein (@scoblitz) is another lifer at #sbbuzz. Scott is a writer for Web Worker Daily, a small business owner and now part of our own BatchBlue team. He is also the man with all the answers to your small business questions.

#sbbuzz was integral for me in turning Twitter in to the collaborative community experience that it should be. Having the opportunity to meet and chat with wonderful and smart people was inspiring.  I found that just participating gave me the chance to share my knowledge and be a resource to folks, all the while being able to learn from them as well.

I also think it did wonders to strengthen my relationship with the participants, including the BatchBlue team. Frequent interactions with you and Michelle gave me the opportunity to let you get to know more about me and I believe was an integral part of my joining the team there.

Participating in #sbbuzz was a very useful way to promote my business and while I have made the decision to discontinue eSeMBe, it’s only because other opportunities arose which were more appealing – the chance to work with the wonderful folks at BatchBlue.

Gina Blitstein (@ginabee) joined in the chats later in our history after hearing so much about our empowering ways from her husband, Scott. I’ll let her explain the role #sbbuzz played in helping her establish her own entrepreneurial ways.

The #sbbuzz helped me to more easily adopt the role as a web-using business owner. While my business lives on and off the Internet, there is no denying that it wouldn’t exist without it. I am not a techie (though I do live with one) and yet I was welcomed with open keyboards by the existing members of the group, which was incredibly empowering in the first few months of my content creation business.

From the networking exposure within the #sbbuzz community, I got an outstanding client with whom I have an ongoing business relationship. I don’t believe we’d ever have come across one another if not for #sbbuzz. My business is growing steadily – as is my confidence – and that is due in no small part to what I learned and who I met on our Tuesday night dates.

I learned a tremendous amount from the expertise of the group and I was happy to be able to provide some insight myself once in a while. The act of reaching out beyond my computer to have contact with such smart and savvy folks was inspirational as well as educational.

Desiree Scales (@desireescales) was an early leader in the crowd with her quick wit and shining personality. She and the other regulars really helped us set the non-promotional, frank and open tone that helped the chats them become so successful. Desiree also introduced me to podcasting when she interviewed me for her Bella Buzz podcast early on. Desiree also introduced us to our wonderful virtual assistant, Dawn Skowronnek (@charmedbydawn)

The #sbbuzz introduced me to many people I still call friends after 2 years. I will continue to follow their careers and businesses as they will my own. Twitter Chat is a great idea and will continue to catch on eventually or evolve into something else. I think the #sbbuzz showed us all how hungry entrepreneurs are to connect with one another. I hope something will eventually take it’s place. It was a great way to learn about people who are in the same shoes with the same ideas and issues every week. I’ll miss it!

And very long-time contributor and enthusiast Susan Barr (@selahsynergy). I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan when she interviewed me for her (coming soon) book. And I will always value the parenting advice she gave as one mother of an asthmatic child to another.

Although I have not been online much in the past few months, #sbbuzz is one of the first places I wanted to re-join as my personal life has finally settled down. For me, #sbbuzz was the anchor in my Twitter interactions, the first and most meaningful community to which I belonged on Twitter. For the past 2 years, I have been working on a book for small business owners about leveraging the internet to grow and manage their businesses. I met and interviewed several #sbbuzz members including yourself, whose contributions have been essential to the book. The generosity of every member of #sbbuzz, whether in giving of time, expertise, support, encouragement, referrals, or friendship has been a tremendous resource  – I know #sbbuzz will live on as these relationships remain important to my life and business. I thank you for initiating such a tremendous community.

We are extremely grateful for these extraordinary members of the #sbbuzz community, as well as every one of the participants and followers of the #sbbuzz chat. We look forward to working with the forward thinking entrepreneurs who have joined this group to continue to find ways to grow and evolve ourselves and our businesses.

Starting your own business is a wonderful, overwhelming journey that should be shared and explored with other adventurous souls. We would not have it any other way.


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Innovation Nation

We’ve had a short hiatus the past few weeks as the @batchblue crew took some time off for wilderness travel and new baby welcoming.  But we are are back at it with our creative juices flowing ready to talk about the approaches small businesses take to innovation.  From product development to marketing efforts, innovative approaches to running your business can mean niche differentiation, cost savings, and increased publicity.  Plus trying new things tends to be much more fun.  So join us tonight as we brainstorm ways to think, act and live outside the environmentally unfriendly, constrictive and boring old BOX.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to discuss creative ways to get innovative with your small business.

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Topic of the Month: Sales

We’re halfway through the summer and things are heating up!!  This month we are tackling every small business owner’s favorite topic: Sales.  We will be chatting about the different approaches to small business sales, channel opportunities and staffing a sales team.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to brainstorm with us the best way to improve your sales efforts.

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Tools for Managing Small Business Admin

Ah, the fun part of owning your own business.  The administrative management of it.  If you are successful, and since you are a savvy #sbbuzz reader you must be successful, you will continue to grow and stretch and push the limits of managing the operations of your business.

So tonight we will be talking about the tools and services available for managing the exciting side of business; payroll, hr administration, office management.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EST to learn the best way to keep your trains running on time.

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Guest Speaker @LeeHower #sbbuzz chat: Summary from March 9, 2010

This week’s SBBuzz chat featured guest speaker Lee Hower, early employee at PayPal, cofounder at Linkedin and now VC.

Our chat next week is on Tuesday March 16th  from 8-9 EST.  Want to join in and get (or give) small biz advice, here’s how it works!

sbbuzz: Welcome to #sbbuzz, a Tweetchat for the next hour of small biz talking technology on Twitter. Join us!
sbbuzz: Rules: 1)NO pitching till end 2)Be nice 3)Stay ON TOPIC! 4)Send ?s for group to me w/o hashtag 5)Use #sbbuzz in all messages 6)Have fun!
sbbuzz: Start off w/an INTRO: 1 message about you and your business and whatever else we need to know. #sbbuzz
decker_chris: I’m an IT professional, web developer and entrepreneur based out of Eastern NC. Excited about my first #sbbuzz! #sbbuzz
DanNieves: Hey everyone! Working with RootOrange, start up trying to grow the business, how can we grow with FB, Twitter, etc? #sbbuzz
TraceyHolinka: I?m a web designr/developr @chaostoclarity. We teach small biz & freelancers how to work better in a digital world. #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Hi, I’m Mike from Ruxter. We’re a universal mobile app for small biz & organizations. We combine free mobile websites & low-cost SMS #sbbuzz
lindadessau: Glad to be here! I ghostwrite and edit content for blogs and newsletters – I work with coaches and service providers (intro for #sbbuzz
merritto: I’m a freelance writer and marketing/fundraising consultant to non-profit organizations #sbbuzz
pmohara: Hi all – Pamela here from @batchblue and the hostess of #sbbuzz. Very excited to have @leehower speaking He’s WICKED smart!
stellel: Hi I’m Christelle, I am a customer experience peep at @batchblue. Stopping by to hear the buzz #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: hello tech gang! I Find cool free online tools to help small business owners save time and money. #sbbuzz
ginabee: Hello All! Gina here from writing/content creation. Looking forward to my Tuesday night education! #sbbuzz
cjservia: I’m a business continuity consultant beginning business here in Eastern North Carolina. #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Hi everyone – Scott Blitstein from eSeMBe. I’m a blogger, tech-guy, superhero, and music lover. #sbbuzz
familyfoodie: hello all – Family Foodie and I love to cook for my family of 6. #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
ginabee: @scoblitz Superhero, huh? Gonna tell the class about your superpower? #sbbuzz
leehower: hi – I’m Lee, former tech startup entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. I look fwd to participating in #sbbuzz chat on small biz tech.
cjservia: Hi Lee. Can’t wait to hear your story tonigh. @leehower #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Our guest speaker tonight is @LeeHower, early employee at PayPal, cofounder at LinkedIn & now VC. Welcome, Lee! #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Hi, I’m Liz – partner marketing manager at Vr4SmallBiz and a raging food geek. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: We will talking to Lee about early days at successful companies & how we can do the same. Send me any ?s you want included in chat #sbbuzz
wiseleo: Good evening. It’s been a while 🙂 I am Leonid, a world-class computer expert #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Everyone – feel free to jump in with your own responses & follow-ups, but stay ON TOPIC! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q1 What are the common characteristics of the successful start-ups you have worked in/with? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q1: smart, passionate, capable founders / mgmt team – this is true of tech startups (what I focus on) but really all small biz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q1: also a “maniacal” focus on customers… esp when trying to develop a new product or service, cust feedback critical
cjservia: @leehower #sbbuzz How did they demonstrate their passion for the business?
leehower: #sbbuzz be willing to work hard, take personal risk, and just visibly demonstrate an enthusiasm for building their biz
foodiegrl: @leehower, when you’re small and busy, what r your favorite CX feedback tools? #sbbuzz
decker_chris: @leehower Have you ever had to confront a partner that wasn’t demonstrating passion for a startup? If so, how did you handle? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz best ways to gather cust feedback depend a little on who your cust are… huge companies, other small biz, consumers, etc
leehower: #sbbuzz but generally I like just talking to cust… also I personally put more weight on what cust do than what they say
ruxtermobi: @sbbuzz @leehower, many ‘overnight’ successes have been in dev for years. What should start-up ‘stars-to-be’ focus on? #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: @leehower how did you convenience people to jump on board with your startups? #sbbuzz
lindadessau: @leehower Yes, people “vote with their feet,” don’t they? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz not easy, but as both an entrep & VC I’ve tried to be picky about who I partner with… choose not to work w/ folks not passionate
leehower: #sbbuzz cust vote w/ the dollars as much as their feet 🙂 but totally agree w/ this sentiment
DanNieves: Has your small biz had success utilizing a facebook fan page? if so, how did you drive people to the page? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q2 from @andrewnim Did you have your entire strategy at start or did you allow it to alter over the first few months? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q2 always worth planning out your strategy ahead of time, but have to be flexible to alter as mkt needs, financing, etc demands
familyfoodie: What marketing methods do you recommend to small retail bus? Direct mail is so expensive. What is the best way to drive customers? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz my old boss (LinkedIn’s CEO Reid Hoffman) used to say starting a company is like jumping off cliff & assembling plane on way down
leehower: #sbbuzz you have to sort of have a clear sense of plan initially, but most startups end up redirecting once or more in big ways
SeeboldMarCom: @leehower ..and I’d say Reid Hoffman built a pretty darn good plane! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q3 from @foodiegirl as your startup grows, would you invest in tech resources or cx service if had to choose one? #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: @familyfoodie – DMA reports email still has highest ROI: $44 for each $1 spent, but Social is gr8 tool. disclose: I work 4 email co #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q3 depends on nature of biz I suppose – also tech resources and cx service don’t have to be mutually exclusive
leehower: #sbbuzz I’ve seen startups use tech for online cust forums, problem tracking, etc – e.g. cust svc being leveraged w/ tech and “labor”
sbbuzz: @leehower Q4 Is their a cultural difference as the company grows? How do you preserve your culture? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz culture undoubtedly evolves as company grows, either in terms of more people or people in different geographic locations
leehower: #sbbuzz no magic bullet for preserving culture, but some elements include: trying to retain good chunk of founders / early employees
leehower: #sbbuzz also establish core values that are as relevant when company is 5 ppl as when its 500 ppl – Netflix has done an awesome job of this
leehower: #sbbuzz Netflix doesn’t track employee vacation time even though it’s huge company today – expectation is ppl work hard but are responsible
sbbuzz: @leehower Q5 What if you don’t want explosive growth? Can you be successful without expanding? #sbbuzz
andreayap: Q4 #sbbuzz culture needs to be genuine + organic, but also disciplined in that you reinforce it everyday #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz here’s a preez put together by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on culture/values even as they grew to big company
TraceyHolinka: Way it should be: RT @leehower: #sbbuzz Netflix doesnt track employee vacation – expectation is ppl work hard but are responsible #sbbuzz
betaspring: Betaspring mentor @leehower is the guest for tonight’s #sbbuzz chat. Small business wisdom from a dude who’s built some big businesses.
leehower: #sbbuzz Q5 absolutely… the definition of “success” as a small business is based upon the founders goals and aspirations
leehower: #sbbuzz my parents were entrepreneurs & owned their own small biz – never grew larger than them + their two kids helping them
leehower: #sbbuzz they (and I) would consider their business absolutely a success, even though it didn’t grow to be huge company
andreayap: @leehower how bout funding via customers vs. VC? Prefer revnues but speed/growth opp tempting me to VC #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz owning a small biz gave them freedom & independence relative to working for big company, plus time w/ their kids
leehower: #sbbuzz growth is great too, and some businesses only work at large scale – but again success is in eyes of the beholder
leehower: #sbbuzz I prob can’t fit the pros/cons of decision whether or not to pursue VC funding into 140 char, but I’ll take a shot 🙂
andreayap: Q5 also you can grow margins and cash flows – efficiency not necessarily topline #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz pros – large amt of up front capital, advice from experienced professional investors + ability to tap their networks for hiring, etc
andreayap: @leehower the vc vs. customer issue being both require fulltime warfare LOL #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz cons – having a funding partner means just that – take on partner’s opinions, expectations, etc
leehower: #sbbuzz I think pursing VC funding path is a complicated topic – you’ve prob already researched but I’d suggest sites like
sbbuzz: @leehower Q7 from @ruxtermobi In today’s investment environment, what’s best way for an early-stage company to attract VC support? #sbbuzz
cjservia: I’ve avoided partnerships myself because of “- take on partner’s opinions, expectations, etc “you mention. #sbbuzz
JohnFMoore: Yes, clear VC con is they may push you to grow faster than desired, loss of cntrol #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz do search of – some old articles I believe on pros/cons of VC, & lots of info on how to approach it if you puruse
JohnFMoore: Q7. Great management team will attract funding, quality VCs, better than anything else IMO #sbbuzz
laowsmith: @sbbuzz #sbbuzz in current climate is it more important to build out for scale or for profitability?
sbbuzz: And now we near the end of our show. This is what we affectionately call Pitch Time. Please tell us a little about your business. #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q7 as others suggest, outstanding founders/mgmt is 1st thing VCs look for and a dimension VCs won’t compromise on
sbbuzz: A HUGE thank you to @leehower for joining in tonight and sharing so much of your experience. Very instpirational! #sbbuzz
JohnFMoore: No pitch here, just a thanks for an informative discussion #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz other things we VCs look for – unique prod/tech that creates sustainable competitive advantage, big / rapidly growing mkt
TraceyHolinka: @chaostoclarity helps small biz & freelancers take charge of computers & use social networking/media & the Web to grow their biz #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: And thanks to everyone for all the great discussion! We’ll get the #sbbuzz summary posted on the site soon at
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Thanks to @leehower for the chat – very informative. #sbbuzz
lindadessau: Thanks @sbbuzz, thanks @leehower – my pitch: How to write a top 10 article – #sbbuzz
stellel: @leehower Thanks for the chat! #sbbuzz
rzazueta: What up #sbbuzz!!! I lurked a little tonight. If you’re going to be at #sxsw, come find us! VerticalResponse at booth 1223!
leehower: #sbbuzz thx @sbbuzz and everyone who participated, I enjoyed it
familyfoodie: Thank you for all the info. As a newbie, I was very impressed. #sbbuzz
TraceyHolinka: Yes was a very interesting and informative discussion. Thxs @sbbuzz & @leehower #sbbuzz
decker_chris: @digitalmints assists small biz owners with web development, digital marketing and social media #sbbuzz
pmohara: Thanks Lee and everyone for awesome chat tonight! Pamela from @batchblue – the company who brings you #sbbuzz
P_Wannemacher: I also want to thank @leehower for the discussion, good stuff! #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Pitch: eSeMBe helps you choose and implement technology so you can work more efficiently and effectively. #sbbuzz
ginabee: does the writing so you don’t have to! Thanks for the words of wisdom from my small biz hoping to grow! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: #sbbuzz is a small business Twitter chat hosted each Tuesday night by the folks from @batchblue Come again soon!
cjservia: #sbbuzz Awesome chat tonight. Great insight.
foodiegrl: I’d pitch, but @rzazueta is doing it for us – thx rob! @VR4SmallBiz #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Ruxter is social networking for small businesses who wish to be mobile. Free universal app + low-cost texting to your customers. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: If you’d like a once-a-week e-mail reminder of #sbbuzz (including the topic) sign up at #sbbuzz
rzazueta: FYI – #sbbuzz is the thing that showed me the TRUE power of Twitter. Every Tuesday night from 5 – 6 pm PST.
cjservia: We assist all businesses with developing alternative management plans for disaster situations. #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Thank you @sbbuzz and @leehower for an excellent Tuesday night #sbbuzz chat.

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Small Companies Thinking Big : Early Stage Ideas for Business Growth

We are thrilled to have good friend Lee Hower (@leehower), principal at Point Judith Capital as the guest speaker on #sbbuzz this week.  Lee is an impressively  successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur.  An early employee at Paypal seeing it through an IPO and acquisition, Lee went on to co-found LinkedIn working as the Director of Business Development through the first VC funding, and is now a successful venture capitalist.  Not to mention he is a brilliant and extremely generous guy.  We will be talking to Lee about the lessons he’s learned working in the early days at several highly successful companies, the criteria he uses to determine if a start-up is poised for rapid growth and what to do if explosive growth is not part of your business plan.

Please join us Tuesday night from 8:00 – 9:00PM EST  to learn more about planning the right growth strategies for your business.

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SBBuzz Roadmap to Success: the Planning Party

When we at BatchBlue first started sbbuzz, our goal was to create a safe, comfortable place for small business owners to come and talk about the new (and old) technologies that are working for our businesses.  We’ve been overwhelmed by the success and by the amazing community that has developed here.  Now that we are approaching our 1 year anniversary, we’ve decided to kick it up a notch.

Our goal for 2010 is to work with the accomplished community of #sbbuzz members to not only meet and discuss issues relevant to our businesses, but to start building a roadmap to help all small businesses find the right path to success.

We’re kicking this project off tonight with a planning party.  Our thought is to work as a group to come up with 10 or 12 topics (one for each month) that we will work into the schedule over the coming year and discuss the best format and tools for documenting our “roadmap”. We can decide metrics we might want to measure, speakers who can address certain topics, and any other ideas that will help us all learn and succeed in various parts of our business.  It’s a flexible and evolving plan, but then shouldn’t all plans be?

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EST with your most innovative and inspired ideas for making 2010 the year of small business success!

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