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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!

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.

10 Steps to a New Business

Train Tracks

Have you dreamed of owning your own business, but don’t know where to start? Have you started planning for your new business, but keep wondering if you’ve forgotten anything important? Check out the basic steps below to be sure you’re on the right track.

Evaluate and Develop Your Business Concept

1. Do you feel passionate about this idea? Will it be something you can do every day –- and night?

2. Jot out a quick break-even analysis. Can you make money at what you’re planning to do?

3. Figure out how you can pay for it, until it pays for itself and then makes money. Determine best and worst case scenarios.

Structure Your Business

4. What type of business will you form?

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • LLC
  • C Corporation
  • S Corporation

5. Who will be your key employees, partners and vendors? What value do they add that you don’t have?

Brand It

6. Determine the name of your business. Start with a brainstorm session, then research your top 5-10 names for trademark and online domain availability.

7. Register your name and trademarks.

8. Determine your brand identity. If your brand were a person, who would it be? What does it stand for? How does it speak? Your brand is more than your logo and name, by answering these questions, and more, you will begin to identify your brand and its persona.

Set Up Your Business Systems

9. Obtain Insurance. Determine what liabilities are most relevant and insure for them.

10. Set Up Your Books. Find an accountant or bookkeeper that can periodically check your business situation, methods and prepare your taxes.

There’s more, but these are the top ten things that need to happen, to give your business a sound start.  This is a basic list, but you would be surprised at how many people, and companies, skip some or all of these steps.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, give me a call. Many of these steps can be readily achieved and will build the foundation for a strong business. Your strong business.