Headlines for Saturday:
- Starting your own business (900 words)
- Building a community (147 words)
- Win-win-win: The power of asking (172 words)
- BarCampEarthToronto: Search engine optimization (79 words)
- BarCampEarthToronto: Networking for Introverts (188 words)
- Livening up your laptop lid: self-adhesive reusable surface (315 words)
- Sweeeet! Wordpress.org bought ad space on my laptop! (149 words)
|A||C||James Iveniuk: birthday/sendoff|
|B||X||Remember elevator pitch for Orange and Bronze : E-Mail from Calen Martin D. Legaspi|
|B||X||Talk to new Microsoft evangelist : E-Mail from Rodney Buike|
|B||X||Download Orange and Bronze logo and lay it out : E-Mail from Matt Mullenweg|
|B||X||Download Wordpress logo and lay it out : E-Mail from Matt Mullenweg|
(* 2 (* 6.694 2.083 4)) = 111.55 USD Orange and Bronze (* 2 (* 6.682 1.736 4)) = 92.80 USD Wordpress
Remember my crazy idea to sell advertising space on my laptop during BarCampEarthToronto? Well, Matt Mullenweg of Wordpress.org - *WORDPRESS.ORG!* My favorite blogging platform! (Okay, my *second-favorite* - nothing beats Emacs Planner)
They are *uber*cool. Another thing I really, really, really, really like. Whenever I need to set up a blog for someone else, the very first thing I do is download the latest version of Wordpress, unpack it, and set it up. I like it a lot.
I'll blog more from BarCamp tomorrow, and I'll post my D*I*Y tutorial on Sunday. =) Or today, if I feel particularly diligent...
Anyway. Wordpress.org. They are totally, totally cool.
All you need to transform your laptop lid into a reusable surface where you can display your latest doodles are: one photo album with self-adhesive pages, a knife, and double-sided tape. Get a photo album that uses plastic and a sticky(ish) surface. Life is easier and neater if the strip that keeps the plastic attached to the book is on the outside edge. You'll see what I mean.
Step 1. Position the laptop face-down on one page of the photo album so that the strip that keeps the plastic attached to the book is along the top edge of the laptop lid. Trace laptop outline onto one page of the photo album. (If you feel particularly diligent, you can measure it instead.)
Step 2. Cut the photo album page to size. Trim a bit off the bottom part to avoid hitting the laptop hinge.
Step 3. Attach double-sided adhesive tape to the laptop.
Step 4. Mount photo album piece on laptop.
Step 5. Peel back plastic and put in stuff.
I like this approach because it doesn't require me to bring any special supplies in order to add to the display. For example, I can add fortunes from fortune cookies, Post-it notes, or even business cards.
This is handy for my wild idea about selling advertising on laptop. This laptop hack's primarily about creatively expressing yourself, though. =)
I came up with a terrific plan B: a whiteboard with a plastic protector to keep it from being erased in one's backpack. That one's pretty cool, too. I'll blog about it more on Sunday, Aug 27. In the meantime... enjoy!
I ran a terrific session on networking for introverts at BarCampEarthToronto. I shared a few stories about blogging and conversation-starting pins, and then asked people to save me from having to talk for an entire hour by myself. People shared tips and asked questions, and we had a wonderful, wonderful conversation.
We talked about why connecting with people is important: it opens up new possibilities and helps us learn more about ourselves. People shared many tips for how to network, from initiating conversations to developing friendships.
One of the useful tips I heard was to practice talking to people by asking strangers for the time or for directions to a place. Hmm, might try that. Another was to physically open the circle of conversation in order to invite people in. Yet another was to keep track of people's interests and wants, and this gives you an excuse to get back in touch with them.
Someone suggested using breaks to invite more introverts into the conversation. I'll facilitate the next session better. It was a great session! =)
@BarCampEarthToronto: Search engine optimization
I'm learning a lot from the session. Some points:
- Primary domains are better than subdomains because Google tries to figure out what a domain is about, and something like blogspot.com is too large.
- Research keywords to find out what people are searching for, and develop good material for these. Linkbait?
- Structure an FAQ with forward-links and H1s.
- Use keyword-rich headings.
The problem with conferences is that I always, always run into scheduling conflicts. I really, really wanted to go to the two talks about communities, the two talks about culture, one talk about perception, and of course I have another session to run on information overload.
Six sessions, three time slots. Aiyah. You don't need a CS degree to know that's a problem.
So I convinced Mike and Quinn to merge their talks on culture. Then I looked for the people responsible for the meta-community talk and asked if they could merge with Ryan's talk about building communities. They agreed!
I couldn't merge with Mike's talk - thematically different, and I'd probably run a long conversation - but hey, that was a great win. All the people who merged said it would be a good idea because they needed less than an hour. Everyone else gets a nice panel. And I learned that if you ask, people will probably say yes.
@BarCampEarthToronto: Search engine optimization
Terrific idea! Ryan
Random notes: Alan Hietala talked about bridging multiple communities in World of Warcraft. Event planning for MMORPG. Heatware - independent reputation system. Jason: no one makes the first post, so you seed.. but dependency? .. Also, start with existing communities.
@BarCampEarthToronto, Brooke Gordon, serial entrepreneur
- Business plan. You are trading money for value. You need to be able to clearly articulate what you are translating money into. If you can't articulate that clearly to friends and family, you will never be able to do that for investors or customers.
- Find a mentor. Ask your professors who they know. Go to your local business development center. Find people who have started their own company. You'll be shocked at how many people will spend half an hour talking to you. Camaraderie. If you ask for help, you will find help. You'll probably find someone who can share with you best practices.
- A business is a business is a business. Get yourself an accountant. Make sure that you're following all of the business rules that apply to the industry. Find out what all the tax rules are and the task breaks are. There are some absolutely fantastic R&D tax credits that people don't know about. I tried doing the books myself when I was starting out, and that's a mistake, at least for the first time. Make sure that your accountant knows small business. Whatever you get, make sure you ask for a receipt. You must have copies of receipts. Keep good records of things. That's what your accountant is there to help you with - your industry. Any time you ever hire someone, interview them, and interview more than one person. Do your due diligence. There's a lot of risk, but there's so much reward. You want to mitigate that risk. When you're doing that mentorship, ask around. Do not ask a corporation. Ask other people who have their own business. Ask for referrals and references. Ask!
- Do a lot of time at first with your wording. Value proposition. Your company name is an important thing. Try and think about things like common misspellings, pronounciation misspellings, how you want to be perceived. Everything you do, you test. Whatever you choose to do, write it down, go and tell someone. Take someone out for coffee and say "Here are my thoughts; what do you think?" Constantly ask, ask for genuine feedback, and ask for honest criticism. People you trust care about you and don't want to see you fail. Other people aren't going to give you that feedback. Good or bad, thank them for it, and take it to heart.
- Don't use your name as your company name.
- There are free seminars that you have access to that you wouldn't believe. Go to learn and listen and connect. Be very open to that and continue going. There are lots of things out there for free.
- Government grants and loans for people under 29!
- Check out TD and Royal Bank for programs for small businesses. They can mitigate their risk if they act as advisors. Don't discount your bank.
- Networking. Part of the reason why Dana and I met. Bag design. Women's networking group.
- BNI. Business Networking International. Givers gain. When you go to a networking group, don't just talk - listen. Introduce yourself not just with your name, but with what you do.
- "So, tell me about your business." You can tell a lot about a business by how well they can articulate their value. "What do clients of yours look like?" Keep thinking about how your clients might be good clients for them. That's what networking is.
- For example, our value is phased implementations for projects.
Know what your value is. Know what your customer looks like. Create scenarios. Find out what a typical customer looks like, so you can tell other people what you look like. Make sure that you get involved in networking. Get those government resources.
- People respond when you're not aggressive or overbearing. Your product is not impressive. Treat people as people, not sales.
- Keep a client database. I used to work for a customer-relationship management system. I missed it when I started my own business. I love Sugar CRM, which is online and open source. Get something so that you can keep track of your clients. Schedule your followups. That way, they don't only hear from you when you're asking for money. You want to show that you care about them. Make sure your clients feel valued. Send an actual paper thank-you.
- You don't want to be too close to your client also, because sometimes you have to say no. You really should say no. A project that you thought you should've said no will drag you down and kill you. If you have that feeling, don't do it. Or get really good specs.
- Get a lawyer to review your contracts. Do not do this yourself.
- Put everything you can on paper before you implement it.
- Protect yourself with sign-offs.
- Don't go into business with friends, if you can help it.
- Go through scenarios in order to mitigate risk.
- Engineering entrepreneurship and education at
McMasters! Experiential program. ALWAYS take notes and offer to do the first draft. Then get your lawyer's intern to look at the stuff for you. Ask lawyers what you've missed.
- Outsource your overflow capacity.
- Know enough to know if the people you're outsourcing to do good work.