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The audacity of hope!

We’ve quite a bit to get through this week. Lots of users are looking for help. As usual plenty is being given. More is welcomed. We also have some great debates going on the pros and cons of some sacred cows. Let’s try and loosely organise them under the 4 M Pillars of Growth. By the way you have to be logged in to click to the links! And while we’re on housekeeping, please put up avatars. Nobody likes talking to question marks :)?

 

Fabric of society

Its worth highlighting 2 marketing and sales posts. There’s a debate raging on the benefits of social media to SMEs. Comments like ‘waste of time’, ‘retreat from reality’, ‘busy work’ from the nay sayers,  to ‘fundamental’, ‘reaching out to customers’, ‘building brand’ from the advocates, are being tossed about. The fact that this debate continues shows how social media has become part of the fabric of society with business still striving to take advantage of it. It’s probably a good post for all of us to read. You can also put ‘social media’ into the search engine to see a whole raft of posts and articles over the past year on this subject. We are particularly interested in any of your social media campaigns that worked or indeed didn’t work. Attach them to the thread. Post them on the blog submission or send to ron@smallbusinesscan.com (since he’s the one that started the argument).

Sales culture is back

About a year or two ago as well, we had a great topic going on hiring and remunerating sales agents. Tom, who’s starting an internet business, has just posted again on this very topic. He’s looking for help on commission structures, possible revenue share, the type of person to look for, where to advertise for that person. It will be interesting to see how this thread develops. A couple of years ago we were lamenting the lack of a sales culture and wondering if we had lost the ability to sell after the easy Tiger years. Now though, its all about shaking the bushes now and getting out there, meeting customers and finding deals…? Hopefully Tom will secure some great sales people!

Hope for the future

We hope they’re like the hotel manager being referred to in this blog, Tom. It asks if we’ve turned the corner and points to a group of foreign businesspeople being wowed by our state agencies who are all asking for the business as theses guys consider an international location of their business. Lovely anecdote at the end of this piece about the hotel manager where they stayed thanking them for their business and already starting the follow up process before they’ve even left. This, with the current State visits and the focus on commercial links, new markets and doing business…. you have to be hopeful don’t you?

Give to get back

Before we move on, a quick mention of 2 great  Marketing initiatives currently on the site. Microsoft is carrying out some research on Cloud Computing and its support for SMEs. It asked for our help. The response to the survey has been fantastic with about 300 at this stage responding. But it would be an even better survey if we had 400 or 500 responses. The link is here. It takes 2 MINUTES, that’s all. But it means that we are influencing their offering to SMEs. And to be fair to Microsoft, it is getting fairly energised about doing some webcasts for us, given our support for its survey. You’re also in with a chance to win a pretty decent phone!

It can do all that?

If you win the phone or if you have an existing phone that can take android apps, have a look at downloading the free Eplixo app that Gerry Brandon and his team made especially for SBC members. How do we describe this app? It seems to be a full social media bundle including video on a phone. The app has been up on the Blog since Monday and already its been downloaded in several countries including Thailand, India and China. If there’s others out there that want to test an offer or a product with the SBC members or carry out some basic research, let us know. Again post on the site, submit to the blog or contact ron@smallbusinesscan.

The submit a Blog feature is working extremely well. Not only are we getting great content but its also giving businesses the opportunity to get their names out there. At this stage pretty much all of the stories featured in the Blog have led to bigger features in the national media such as Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Business Post, Business Plus and Newstalk.

Money, money. money

Tony from Admore was featured in the national press recently and he continues to produce great content for the site. Here Tony suggests how we should present projections in our business plans? Simple but fundamental insight! You will also find in the Blog over the Easter period a whole raft of spreadsheet templates that will allow you to present your forecasts clearly.

We’ve always talked about sales as being the old fashioned and best way to generate funding for your business. However grants and investment schemes – especially when equity stakes are limited – are also worthwhile. Here’s a great thread started by Paul Brady of taxandlegal.ie on the new Employment Incentive Investment Scheme that may help loosen up some funding for SMEs. Apparently its an Eu approved scheme to incentivise private investment in SMEs. Is it only available in the South? We’ll ask Paul to do a blog on this?  Also a big thanks to Olwen Dawe for a very simple guide to making enterprise grants applications. We  also hope to have a fairly comprehensive list of funding sources on the island up on the site this week, so watch out for that.

Management & Motivation

Here’s a post that covers a serious topical management issue from a businessperson that’s obviously highly motived to get it right. In these times, this post resonates. Its from a businessperson that owns a cleaning company…although it could be any business. It could be any of us. So if you have any insights, experiences or suggestions please help Anand. Anand says: ‘I own a cleaning company, but I am facing severe problems in running my company due to the huge competition in market. To control the costs I tried several ways, but none of them succeeded. Can anyone suggest how to control the costs and the ways to maintain the smooth running of my company?

Last but not least

We are putting our invite a friend functionality into beta. It allows you to invite contacts from your gmail etc to use the site. Try it out. Not only will it help test the software, but it may encourage more users… More businesspeople with experiences, insights and suggestions that could benefit us all.

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