Focus or Fail

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The biggest risk to your venture is your inability to focus. By allowing yourself to be distracted by new opportunities you fail to capitalize on the one right in front of you. It can often be difficult, as each new idea has potential, but remember that every time you deviate from the path you have already developed, you are delaying your own ultimate success.

Keep a notebook of ideas you develop along the way, but leave them there. Get your current project through to completion, optimize it, reiterate through it until it succeeds. Then choose the next most viable opportunity and do the same. Many entrepreneurs are fearful of passing on the “Golden Opportunity” and along the way that might happen, but if you try to develop each one you will never complete any of them. So stay focused, keep on the road map that you have developed, and give it everything you’ve got.

Content is King

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Take the time to create value with your content. Optimizing your content to provide the maximum value will have many positive long term effects, and is well worth the effort put forth. Keep readers coming back by giving them a reason to. Post quality over quantity.

It still amazes me how often I find a site, that obviously had some money and time spent on the design. They also took the time to SEO the site and chose relevant keywords. And then they did nothing with it… They wasted all the effort by providing no value in the actual content.

A major mistake many bloggers make is thinking that quality is less important than quantity. It gets compounded by the fact that the search engines see quantity as valuable. it might even increase your traffic to post constantly. However it dos you no good if the traffic you gain simply comes once, never to return. Instead make your site important to the viewer by adding real value.

Social Media 101

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In this podcast the Innovocus team explains the basics of using social media for your business. By creating value for your readers and followers you gain prestige in the community. By doing this you actually create a demand for your expertise.

There are a few things you need to understand in regards to social media for business.

1) It is more important to create a loyal following than it is to promote a product or service.

Long term you will gain more from providing real value to your followers by increasing their reliance on you for information in your field. When, you become an expert in the eyes of the community, you can now influence their opinions. At that point you can sell, but if you do it too often you diminish your value.

2) To gain a following you must create value.

How do you create value? By giving your readers, listeners and followers information that they want to know. If you are a celebrity, your fans are interested in every little move you make, so sharing your experience at a drive through is valid. However if your fans or followers find you to be valuable as a resource for SEO information, well then, make sure you give them access to even more. By doing this you increase your prestige in the community, and become yet more of an expert.

Visualize Success

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To become and act successful often the first person we must convince is ourselves. I have not yet met an entrepreneur who reached a high level of accomplishment without first being confident in what they were doing and what they were capable of.

It is often amazing how much influence in others we can create by exuding inner confidence. But to look at the inverse, if you do not believe in yourself why would anyone else? Putting it that way it is very clear that you are destined to fail if you do not completely buy-in to your own product.

This sense of self-confidence is often hard to imagine after you’ve been denied, or stalled on one front after another. A simple way to regain your inner strength is to visualize the positive outcome. It might sound silly but it actually works. See yourself reaching the goals, see the hurdles and see yourself overcoming them. See the end positive outcome. Not only does this help you gain confidence it can also point out the pitfalls you might face in getting there.

The Blues Keep Success Away

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Letting the negative things in your life interfere with your potential will stop you from reaching your potential. In other words, stay positive. Let nothing bring you down. It is imperative that you look for the good in all situations.

Easier said than done, right? Well in truth whatever you think is true. If you believe you can accomplish something, then you can, if you believe you will fail then you will. Saying “I can’t” and believing “I will fail” makes it a certainty.

No one who ever achieved success, believed they would fail. In fact, often the team or individual is the only one that has faith in their future success. How many times have you read the story of someone who has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve greatness? All their family and friends said they could not do it. But they pressed on regardless to all of the negativity from their associates.

Taking Your Idea to Success

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Every great invention or idea has run up against the same first roadblock… fear. The would be entrepreneur fears the unknown, fears to possibility of failure and fears the innate risks involved with a new venture.

So, what separates the entrepreneur from just some person with a good idea? The successful professional knows the steps to define the unknown and by doing so they eliminate fear.

Fear is the Mind Killer

It is the fear of the unknown that stops most people from attaining their dreams. The fear keeps them in their comfortable job. The fear stops them from taking the risks necessary to succeed.

Here are the 5 steps to help you get over your fears, and get the ball rolling on your new venture.

1) Do Your Research

Find out everything there is to know about your idea.  Who will be your competitors? Even if no one has the exact same product or service, there will always be competition, so get to know them. Google is your best friend. Use it to your advantage. Find the keywords your would be competition uses, search blogs, directories and every resource and media outlet.

This is a great time to define what or how you will be better than the competition. Find the answers to these questions: How will you take market share? Who is your target customer? Where are they? How do you get them? What is the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

2) Define the Opportunity

Now that you know everything there is to know about the market and competition it is time to define your opportunity. There are a series of questions that are vital to answer: What are acceptable price points? How many customers are there? Is the market local, regional, national or international? What is the exact niche? You will want to know who you are targeting, why you are going after them, where they are at, when you will launch and how you will reach them (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How).

3) Entrepreneur Know thy-self

If you have done the first two steps, it is time to decide if you are the right person for this opportunity. What relationships do you have that could open doors in this market? Do you have the skill set to  fit the concept?  Do you have the tools, software and money to go full out? What essential skills, experience, knowledge or money are you missing?

By understanding how you fit the opportunity you can define the gaps in your own abilities, knowledge and finances. These gaps help you Define a team.

4) Build Your Team

So you have determined the skills, experience, knowledge or money you are missing to make your idea a success. Look around you at your friends, family and colleagues. Do you know people who can fill your gaps? Are they willing to work with you, especially  on speculative work. What are your financing options, do you have the money or do you know potential investors (Friends and family) that might be interested? You will need to be able to sell them on this idea. Often the first person I look for is a great salesperson, because they can help me sell the next person in the idea. The people involved can be contractors or freelance, you don’t have to look for the long term team at this time, in fact it is often best to keep the final team small early on. Find the people and fill the gaps.

5) Build the Prototype

There are a great many cliches to remember at this time, and all are valid. Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t get overly complex, just make it work. If it is a service this is a great time to do the work cheap or free. What you want is to get a couple of clients that will give you an endorsement and that you can use as a reference. If you properly defined the opportunity then you know what the M.V.P. for your prototype should be, build that.

Always remember that perfection is the enemy of profit. Build the MVP, get it into the hands of a few customers, let them define what more is needed, or how it should change. Your customer will know better than you what they really want, so let them tell you.

Incremental Perfection

Now that the customer has the product in hand and has told you what they really want. Now is the time to incorporate some of these changes. Add a feature, test again. The steps we have outlined here are actually a cycle that you should re-iterate through over and over until you have the final product. Often what you will find is that the initial idea and the final one are radically different.

Don’t be afraid to change direction .

Physical Fit = Business Fit

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Staying physically fit has more benefits than just helping you look better. By exercising at-least half an hour a day you will dramatically increase your mental acuity, lower stress and increase your productivity. Companies that provide a gym and allow time for work outs see a significant rise in employee satisfaction and productivity.

It is obvious then that to keep your business fit you need to exercise your body and encourage your employees to do the same.

It might seem that you are too busy to take a half hour for yourself. You are running from meeting to appointment and just barely keeping your head above water. In fat the best thing you can do, to thrive in a high demand high stress environment is take the half hour to get the blood pumping.

It is common to find that by taking the time to work out a person gets far more done during the day. The time allows

them to clear their mind, an often lets them solve a problem that seemed insurmountable. It lowers their stress level and increases focus. Human beings were not made to sit behind a desk, and as a consequence of that we are at our best and brightest after we’ve had the heart do a little pumping and the muscles do a little straining.

So to keep your business fit it is imperative that you do the same for your mind and body.

Building an Online Community

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In this podcast Andrew Bennett of BenSpark.com and NotAFamousBlogger.com joins Ben and Christian to discuss online self marketing and how to successfully build an online community.

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Social Media Marketing Sucks

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Tools such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook are Horrible sales vehicles. In fact using them poorly can do more to hurt your brand than help it. Social Media as a tool for business is much more useful to your PR group than it is to your sales team. At best it is a soft sale tool, that is not to say it cannot be part of a holistic solution that radically increases sales. In fact it can be a part of an overall system that is very effective in driving sales. The trick is knowing how to use them.

Most people immediately try pushing a product or service, and end up with no followers or friends. Some try and tweet advertisements. All of them fail for one simple reason. They are not creating value or giving an interesting reason for anyone to care what they are doing.

That is really all Social Media comes down to, be interesting.

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How Bad Design is Killing Your Sales

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There is a direct relationship between good UI design and increased sales. On the flip side, bad design inevitably hurts sales. Pretty obvious if you think about it, but why?

Quite simply, good user interface design is primarily about giving the user what the expect, where they expect it in a pleasing way. Doing this one thing wrong can destroy your sales on several fronts.

The first and most obvious way is due to angry customers who are not satisfied with the product. They will cause you no end of headache. Even if they don't end up asking for their money back, they will cost you considerable time and money in tech support. And this tech support need will invariably lead to revisions, with their additional development costs.

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The other major front is the loss of customers before they buy. So even if you don't have a piece of software, bad UI design on your website can destroy your sales. Conversion in the web is soley a factor of good or bad design. Taking the time to understand your clients needs and expectations allows you to deliver on these, and thus have a happy customer. A web user becomes a customer only when they find what they are looking for, simple as that. Your goal in creating solid usability for a website is to try not to hide what they are looking for, without creating choice paralysis.

Managing your SEO work and your CPC , SEM and CPM campaigns to always deliver the user to a page that is optimized for what they expect, and making it obvious where they should go to act on what-ever it was that drew them to your site in the first place. If you run an advertisement that allows the user to download a free white-paper when they sign up for a newsletter, then make the sign-up the dominant element on the page.

Anything other than giving them exactly what they want is effectively chasing them away, more than likely never to return.

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