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Cuckoo for Cacoo, Free Flow Charting for Entrepreneurs

It is always tricky envisioning how the various pieces of a startup business will fit together and interact. Cacoo (https://cacoo.com/) is a cool cloud-based application that can be used for project envisioning, flow charts and mockups. Cacoo offers free and reasonably priced product tiers that will fit into those very tight budgets. For entrepreneurs that think ‘visually’ this may be the right tool to add to your small business toolbox. Another great feature is Cacoo’s online collaboration tool for projects ‘on-the-fly’ and for times when the team just can’t meet.Cacoo image

Here’s what they say:

“Cacoo is a user friendly online drawing tool that allows you to create a variety of diagrams such as site maps, wire frames, UML and network charts. Cacoo can be used free of charge.

Draw a variety of diagrams

Creating attractive diagrams, such as wire frames, mind maps, network charts, and site maps, are very easy for anyone as you can simply pick and “drag and drop” elements from a large library of stencils.

Quick and Easy

Cacoo covers all the basic drawing functionalities. A huge number of stencils, aligning functionality, background sheet, freehand options, and many more assist you to draw nice diagrams efficiently.

On Web Browser

All you need for Cacoo is a Web browser. No troublesome installation is required. With a computer and access to the internet, anyone can sign in Cacoo and edit diagrams. Start drawing diagrams at home, at work or at hotels while you travel.

Real-Time Collaboration

Multiple users can share and edit one diagram simultaneously. Changes are shown on the sharers screen in real time. Collaboration will be more creative and productive as team members can plan and review cooperatively.”

Cacoo Store

Shop the Cacoo Store for stencils (icons) and templates to speed up your project. You’ll need to purchase Cacoo points, before you’ll be able to buy or earn them by submitting stencils or templates of your own.

Check Cacoo out and let me know if you find this helpful.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

The Pluses and Pitfalls of Partnerships

Many entrepreneurs and startups would never have been formed if it weren’t for partnerships –as in dual ownership of a business entity. Many depend on one partner contributing capital, while the other contributes intellectual capital; some depend on complementary skill sets, some depend on sharing time spent working on the business and multiplying what working together can do. No matter your reason, think long and hard before going into a partnership with someone.
partnership agreementphoto © 2010 o5com | more info (via: Wylio)

The reality of a partnership is that they are just like marriages, but many times, without the long vetting process of a courtship. Just like a marriage the percentages of survival are often against you. And just like in a marriage, a partnership involves balancing a huge mix of issues like: division of the work, who is the final decision-maker, work styles, money decisions, egos, perceptions & promises, and stress. Then as time goes by, uncover the skeletons in that person’s closet and you start to see why, in reality, it may have been better to go it alone.

If you’re still set on a partnership as the only way of making your entrepreneurial dream a reality then I suggest the first thing you do is see a business lawyer to protect yourself and your interest in the business. One of the things they may have you work through is a partnership agreement similar to the one on our Resources page. Leave a comment for me below (no need to post your email address), if you’d like it sent to you as a word document. If you think through as many of these things as possible you will no doubt improve your odds. I’d also advise you to be on guard if your future partner wants to gloss over any of the points in the agreement. Items like number 11, amount of time contributed, or item 13, whose decision will prevail, should be considered for all potential possibilities, as they will undoubtedly become important as your business evolves.

One thing that is not mentioned in this list is the idea of ‘full disclosure’. No matter how long you’ve known the person or even if they are related to you, I recommend having a background check done and credit score pulled for all involved parties. Finding out months into a partnership that your partner isn’t exactly what they claimed to be can be a rude shock and game changer, better to find out right away.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Who Should Be Your Next ‘Go To’ Employee?

“So I have a website –now what?” That is the question I often get when a client is asking why the website they either made themselves or ‘had a friend’ design isn’t getting any results. And I mean it –ANY RESULTS. So many small business owners are not getting the point. A website is only one piece of the online marketing puzzle but its potential to help your business is the secret to solving that puzzle. Your website is not the place to CHEAP OUT.
INTERNETS: ON/OFFphoto © 2005 mikael altemark | more info (via: Wylio)

Many entrepreneurial business people consider a website an afterthought and as not really that important to the success of their company. They are quickly being proven wrong. Inbound marketing which starts with having a website, is the most affordable method of marketing your business and is most likely to get you the best results. Using a pull strategy in Inbound, a.k.a. Online Marketing, you interact with people through many social media networks, then pull them into your online business realm via a website or social media platform specific to your business.

What a website isn’t

It should not be a static online brochure, a website that after you’ve given people your web address they can pull it up and… what? Gawk at it? Exclaim of its beauty? See all the ‘stuff’ you’re trying to sell? It should DO more than that.

So what should a website do for a business?

Kirt is beaming with new careerphoto © 2011 www.lancashire.gov.uk | more info (via: Wylio)

Every smart or lucky business has a ‘go to’ employee. Someone that takes on every challenge, is your best advocate, is the warehouse of much of your companys’ knowledge. That ‘go to’ employee, in this case, is your website and it’s vital that you prepare it for the challenge it is about to face. It will provide a foundation that you can use to venture into the social media network. This foundation should have SEO capabilities for every single thing that you publish. It should have reporting capabilities both short term and long term. It should nurture your leads or in other words help you convince consumers to buy or at least engage with your business. It should allow you to work the way you want to –either on a day-to-day basis or with scheduling far into the future. It should allow you and your business to grow.

What are the other pieces of this Internet puzzle?

“Build it and they will come” strategy may work for big brands like Disney, but if you have a small business, how are people going to find you? You need to chart out ‘how’ that is going to happen. Where are your potential customers now –online or off? What would make them visit you online –and keep them coming back? What would entice them into buying your offering?

Social Media sites

Sure, there is Facebook and it is not to be overlooked. But more specifically, there are social media sites that let you, as a small business owner, narrow your efforts to get closer to your niche. If you’re selling craft or gift items, then Esty.com may allow you the larger, targeted audience your business needs to sell successfully. For service companies, like automotive service or beauty salons, I like Yelp! Yelp! Is a review site for professional services offered in your area. Let your customers do the talking for you. That is far more powerful than tooting your own horn. For the travel industry, Trip Advisor is fast becoming the most respected of online travel sources because of the use of customer reviews.

Don’t forget email

internet explorerphoto © 2010 Sean MacEntee | more info (via: Wylio)

It’s not really glamorous, but small business owners should not forget email. Email offers a one-to-one relationship with your client and is of high value in the world of marketing, do not under-estimate its power. Plus, it’s affordable. Have you been collecting business cards for years and just use them to draw for a free dinner? It’s time to up the ante. Keep collecting those cards, but then start an email campaign that first gets them to ‘approve’ of you sending them these email messages from time to time. This would be called the ‘opt-in’. Then provides them periodic updates and offers to keep them interested and directly relating to your business over a period of time. Include links to your website that provides even more incentives and more info. An extra reason for keeping a solid email list is that it is an actual business asset. Think of it as an investment into your businesses future. –One more thing about email. Do you have your website address and social media handles at the bottom of your email signature? No? Do it today! It is a vital part of branding your business and should not be overlooked.

Integrate it!

With today’s popular mantra of “online marketing is where marketing is at”, one thing that seems to get overlooked, and is critical, is the integration of ALL your marketing efforts. On –AND Off line. Integration helps you get every bang for every buck. TV Advertising? Add in your web page. If you are planning on having a booth at a local farm market, be sure you have a brochure or business card that has your website on it –and maybe even add in how people may find extra value by looking your business up online.

Better yet, design a campaign that integrates some of the traditional advertising that you have done in the past and uses the website as a critical piece that drives excitement. Maybe it’s a TV campaign for a free prize that takes entries via your Facebook page, thus resulting in a large audience that ‘likes’ your site.

There are so many options and some, frankly, work better than others. Give us a call today, we’ll help you hone in on the audience you need and plan a strategy that will pull them to your business.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

In addition to building great dynamic websites, we do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

The Secret is in Breaking the Chicken and Egg Problem

I found this BNET blog article interesting. BNET interviewed Ceriac Roeding of Shopkick and he discussed the ‘Catch 22’ facing many entrepreneurs. How do you establish that first base of business? Credibility struggles with success. You have to make someone actually BELIEVE. He cited examples he learned through his startup, Shopkick. These examples are transferable to many small business situations. They will even help me as I continue to establish my first year’s ‘base of business clients’ and as I help some of my small business clients address this same issue. I think its good stuff and I hope you like it.

Here is the BNET article below, visit BNET for more depth on this article:

“Too many entrepreneurs get caught in the age-old chicken and egg problem.”

“If you had consumers using your app, then you could get the first retail partner. If you had retail partners, Cyriac Rodeing of Shopkickthen you could get consumers to use your app. If you had funding, you could build a team and breakthrough technology. If you had a team and breakthrough technology, then you could get funding.  And so on, and so on forever, at every critical moment. The art of the entrepreneur is to break through that – to find ways to “crack” the chicken and egg problem.

Never believe someone who says one depends on the other. As an entrepreneur, you have to believe so fully in your vision that you can convince others to agree. Find a way through, get the first hook, find a few consumers or find a way to the top of a partner and convince them the world is changing, and you can help them change with it.

Seem like too much, too quickly? Select the one piece that would set off the domino effect in the fastest and most furious way, and focus on that.  Even if it is the hardest piece to get.

With Shopkick, that was getting the first retail partner. With a large retailer, funding from a top VC would follow, and from that, a team, and from that, technology. How to get that first piece? Find ways to get to the very top of the partner quickly, and explain how your idea can address their major challenges. It must be so compelling, have so little downside, and so much upside that there is no other option but to say yes.

And then you go in parallel and try that at 10 potential partners, not one, and create a “rush” effect. And then hold on, because things go big very quickly once you crack that problem.”

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

In addition to building great active websites, we do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Attention, please

Chris Brogan

do not click here, not the video

Frazzled? Me, too. Leave it to Chris Brogan to help us find our ‘center’. Check out his short video entitled, “What Has Your Attention“. He sure set me straight. I think this is something that all entrepreneurs and small business folks struggle with. Sometimes there are so many choices of what you COULD do that you lose track of what you SHOULD do.

Now, it’s time to get down to work. I will do something that will make me profitable and happy. (Repeat 3 times softly)

My Focus

Here are five things I plan to do to make that happen; per his suggestion, three are work related and two are personal.

1. Write 3 blogs

2. Add a page to my web site, SocialEnergizer.com

3. Finish up with that ‘dangling’ client (you know the one that’s stuck and needs a gentle nudge)

4. Walk 1/2 hour

5. Pack for vacation

I’ll let you know how I do. How about you? What five things do you need to do TO GET THINGS DONE!

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.

My Favorite Post for Today’s Entrepreneurs

I found this article to hit the nail on the head. Take a look at where you are and what lies ahead. Introspection is always good. The right mindset is better. And I’ll add Action is vital.Cowardly Lion

The Cowardly Lion’s Guide to Conquering Your Entrepreneurial Fears

The ‘close’ to this article is worth repeating, here’s an excerpt.

But all of those tactics will fail if you don’t have the right mindset

Mindset is what lets you turn tactics into an actual thriving business. It’s what lets you pay the price, to act when you’re scared out of your pants.

And you have to proactively create it. If you hang around successful people, you’ll notice they go to a lot of seminars, listen to a lot of motivational material, and surround themselves with other successful business people trying to do the same things.

It’s not a coincidence. They understand the value of mindset, and they set aside time every day to work on that mindset, to put themselves into the proper frame of mind to stand up and fight.

Because at heart, we’re all cowardly lions. Everyday, we have to wake up and remind ourselves how to roar.”

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each businesses’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.