Posts tagged Business

10 Rookie Mistakes Startups Make When Building Web Traffic

1. Relying on search engine submission services

2. Not having a blog (or equally bad, an off-topic blog)

3. Not using catchy headlines or images

4. Not participating on other established sites

5. Not seeking publicity

6. Not communicating with your email list

7. Not advertising

8. Not paying attention to local listings

9. Not analyzing your traffic to see what works and what doesn’t

10. Not writing a marketing plan for your website.

Read on for how to fix these common mistakes business owners make in their rush to boost website traffic.

This Company Flew Single New Yorkers to San Francisco for a Love Connection

“There’s a running joke that there are more single men in San Francisco and more single women in New York City,” says Lauren Kay, a co-founder and CEO of matchmaking startup Dating Ring. ”So we thought it would be fun if some of them met each other.”

The stunt—their business model doesn’t actually fly out singles on the regular—attracted a ton of attention and investment. Kay spoke to OPEN Forum about the Dating Ring and what it’s really like to be a woman entrepreneur raising funds.

What was it like to fundraise with Y Combinator and afterward?

It was really hard! Demo day with YC is insane—there are hundreds of investors on the floor. It felt like this weird speed dating event where you ask people for money. I was super uncomfortable.

After demo day, I was determined to land additional investment to grow Dating Ring, so I’d go on up to seven meetings per day with angel investors and VCs. Some of them were awesome. After 15 minutes, one investor offered us money because he believed in our vision right off the bat. But other investors would ask me out on dates or openly ask when men would be brought into the company. I had no idea the sexism in Silicon Valley was so bad.

What advice can you offer other female founders to get through it?

Look for investors who aren’t known to be sexist. Talk to other founders that you trust and only take meetings with VCs who have a track record of respecting women. Don’t put up with anything, and leave meetings if you’re uncomfortable.

Never Hire the Wrong Production Company Again

More and more businesses are using video to stand out in an era where consumers need more than just snappy copy to engage with companies. Video done right can lead to viral successes like HelloFlo. And video done wrong… well, that will never happen if you hire the right production company!

Some advice when you’re trying to find the right team to bring your video dreams into a reality:

Cheap video comes at a premium.Be wary when a production company offers its services at a rate that seems too good to be true—the production team may just shoot from the back of the room on a tripod and call it a day. But it’s more expensive to do it wrong the first time and have to redo it. So find out what’s included in the total package: Are edits included? What about music licensing? Or travel expenses? Watch out for those additional costs that can be thrown in at the end and bust your budget.

Read on for eight more tips for hiring a video production company that delivers.

The Secret to Attracting New Customers

Small businesses need to cultivate a strong customer base: one that includes returning and new business. Luckily enough, there’s a seven-step process that makes the task of attracting new customers seem more manageable:

1. Identify your ideal client. It’s easier to look for customers if you know the type of consumers you seek. Without a composite of your ideal customer, you probably wouldn’t know where to start looking.

2. Discover where your customer lives. Determine where your ideal customer is most likely to be found and then create messaging that targets them there.

3. Know your business inside and out. The people who would be interested in your offerings can see how knowledgeable you are and will seek your assistance.

Read on to learn more about how to find your ideal customers.

After 40 years in business on a historic shopping street, this antique store is going online to beat Brooklyn, New York’s rising rents and to give the owner a well-deserved rest.

What School Fundraisers Can Teach You About Business

Fun fact: School fundraisers are a $1.4 billion industry. (We know, we’re as surprised as you are.) 

So it stands to reason that school fundraisers—a business model in its own way—can be a good resource for business owners who have sales goals they want to hit, writes OPEN Forum contributor Geoff Williams. There are indeed a few lessons you can pick up from studying school fundraisers’ success:

1. Set a goal. “School fundraisers don’t usually last long,” Williams writes. “While you can’t restrict your sales period to several weeks, you can set short-term goals, which are likely to get you where you want to be faster than an open-ended mission.”

Read on for three more things you can learn from school fundraisers.

What will the sharing economy—think Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and other companies that make it peer-to-peer sharing easy—look like in five years? OPEN Forum asked the experts, and they gave us their best guesses. 

Read more on OPEN Forum’s “Sharing Economy 2.0: Sharing a Peek at the Next Generation

Airbnb photo from Flickr user: Jay Galvin

What You Need to Know to Deliver a Great Speech

1. Deliver a performance, rather than a speech. Think beyond the words you’ll be saying to use performance tools such as inflection, gesture, tension, resolution and suspense.

2. Use the power of eye contact. ”Bill Clinton was a master of eye contact—watch any of his speeches, and you’ll see the master at work,” writes OPEN Forum contributor Mike Michalowicz.

3. Don’t hide behind the lectern. It’s a crutch, Michalowicz says. Moving around will keep your audience engaged, and will make you appear more accessible and open.

Read on for four more tips for effective public speaking.

Why Reading Fiction Is Better for Your Business

Reading fiction can be as valuable to your business as reading a business book. It can:

1. Inspire more creative thinking by introducing you to new ideas,

2. Boost your intellectual curiosity and

3. Help you refocus your priorities.

Read on for a few great pieces of fiction to add to your reading list.

Olive Garden Takes Customer Loyalty Programs to the Next Level

Buffets and all-you-can-eat specials have been a promotional standby for restaurants since time immemorial. But Italian food restaurant chain Olive Garden managed to bring a new spin to the business strategy:

Olive Garden introduced a new Never Ending Pasta Pass that, for $100 a pop, allows customers to eat all of the pasta, salad, bread and soft drinks that they can for the next seven weeks. … the chain will sell 1,000 of these passes on its web site. The special promotion is tied to Olive Garden’s annual “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promo, which lets folks eat all the pasta they want in one sitting for $9.99 and runs from September 22 to November 9.

Read on to learn what this means for customer loyalty programs and small businesses.