Archive for September, 2010

The Entrepreneur Email Timeline

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

We’ve all done it.  Known an important/exciting/could-be-life-changing email is coming sometime today.  Then obsessively check our inbox until it arrives.

Inevitably the email doesn’t get there until the end of the day.  Here’s how my day goes until then…

The Entrepreneur Email Timeline

6:00 AM – Wake-up.  Check email.

6:05 AM – Brush teeth.  Check email.

6:15 AM – Get out of shower.  Check email.

7:00 AM – Watch Today Show.  Think about email.

9:00 AM – Read less important, not as interesting, inferior emails.

9:30 AM – Write brilliant responses.  Listen for ding of VIP email.

10:30 AM – Hear dings.  Hear more dings.

10:32 AM – None of them are the BIG ding.

11:00 AM – Leave computer for meeting.

11:01 AM – Sneak a peek of phone email.

11:10 AM – Meeting is boring.  Subtlety check email.

11:25 AM – Meeting is so boring can hardly keep eyes open.

11: 26 AM – Openly check email.

12:00 PM – Eat lunch.  One eye: read news.  Other eye: read email.

1:00 PM – Do actual work.  Think about email.  Long for email.

2:30 PM – Check email.

2:35 PM – Refresh.

2:40 PM – Refresh.

2:42 PM – Refresh.

3:30 PM – Close computer.  Email is stupid.  Who needs email.

3:50 PM – Open computer.  Refresh.  Can’t live without email.

4:15 PM – EMAIL!  From Mom.  Crap.

4:22 PM – Check Facebook email, Twitter DMs

4:34 PM – Check blog comments, LinkedIn messages

4: 36 PM – Check personal email.

4:47 PM – Find nothing. Find nothing.  Find nothing.

4:59 PM – Did they say email would come EOD or COB?

5:02 PM – No email.  Start to sweat.

5:11 PM – Test work email from personal account.

5:12 PM – Work account working.

5:45 PM – Walk around desk while peeking at email.

5:57 PM – EMAIL!  EMAIL!  From THEM!!!  Scan email.  Read email.  Read email again. Email is wonderful! Email solves all world problems!  Love email!!  Email completes me.

6:15 PM – Stiff drink.  Whew.

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Twitter Fear: Where Do My Tweets Go?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Due the popularity of Chris Spiek’s original post, I’ve asked him to come back to give us some more Twitter advice.  This is Part Two of a three-part series.  To read Part One, A Crash Course on Twitter,  click here.

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Twitter & SEO Expert Chris Spiek

There’s a valid fear that many people face when getting started with Twitter that doesn’t usually get a lot of attention:  When I hit the “Tweet” button, where do my Tweets go?

I explored this phobia in a recent conversation with marketing diva, fashionista and entrepreneur Alesya Opelt (Alesya Bags).

Most of us who are heavily involved in Twitter focus on getting the most impact out of each of those 140 characters.  How can I make sure this gets retweeted by the most people? By the most influential people? How can I be sure that this link gets clicked by as many people as possible?

But for people who are first starting out with Twitter, the exact opposite can be true.  It’s no mystery that In everyday conversation, our audience has a tremendous impact on how we deliver messages.  Surrounded by your closest friends, it’s easy to pop-off about your opinions, knowing that you’re in a safe place.  Position yourself in front of a larger audience or a small group of strangers, and usually you need to spend more time  formatting your message.

Applying this same idea to Twitter can be paralyzing.  The idea that whatever 140 characters I choose will be blasted out to the entire universe is hard to grasp.  After all, Twitter now has over 100 million users! They get 180 billion unique visitors each month!  Eeeek!

When you ask people to expand on this fear, they usually explain it as: “I’m only going to Tweet when I have something profoundly interesting or original to say.”

When someone is confronted with this fear, a slow immersion is usually the best way to get over it.  Setup your account and follow people you know in real life, as well as a few thought-leaders in your industry.  For the first few days, start of slow by sending @messages to your friends.  You don’t need to be profound, you’re just sending a note to a friend.

Once you start to get the feel of the conversation, jump in a little deeper and start retweeting (RT) tweets from the thought-leaders that you think are interesting (retweeting is the act of sending a tweet that you think is interesting out to your followers).

When you feel comfortable enough, begin to respond to tweets from thought-leaders with your own opinions and publishing your content (if you’re a blogger/writer).  By this time you’ll be immersed enough to understand the “Twitter Voice” and know how to participate in the conversation.

Think about this process as it relates to a real-world conversation.  You’re much more likely to approach a group of people (and introduce yourself of course), and then get a feel for the tone/tempo/mood of the conversation before you contribute your opinion.  Unless you’re part of the population who is incredibly outspoken, in which case you wouldn’t have had this fear in the first place.

Chris Spiek is a Managing Partner at Awecomm Web Strategies.  He is an integral part of the Detroit Tech scene, an early adopter and recent Mac convert.  To learn more about his SEO strategies and Twitter advice follow him at @chriscbs.  Look for Part Three of his Twitter advice next week.

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PIN Update

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

No PIN yet. Still waiting. Thought you’d like to know.

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Invite Only Trade Shows

Monday, September 27th, 2010

This is the kind of trade show I'm used to.

Starting a business is like solving a mystery to me.  Maybe it’s because of how I think.  It feels like I’m finding clues that will eventually lead to solving the crime.  Er, launching the business.

Trade shows popped up as a recent clue.  But these are different from ones I’ve been to before.  In my pervious work life if you wanted to go to a trade show you filled out the forms, wrote your check and packed your bags.

The shows I’ve heard of in the fashion world are different.  You have to be accepted.  Then maybe you are allowed to write a check.

It makes sense.  Buyers want to view a lot of high quality product in their niche at once.  They are traveling and don’t want to waste time with just anyone.  If you’re good you get in the show.  If you’re not, well, you don’t.

I haven’t considered selling the bags like this.  What I’d like to do is go through my website and possibly a few places in Charleston.  Maybe this clue is telling me to think bigger.

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Waiting on PINs and Needles

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

The Wire Room in the White House c. 1920 - Sometimes it feels like I'm dealing with a system like this.

Along with every other entrepreneur on the planet, I don’t like to wait.  There’s a very clear end goal waiting for me and I’d like to get there yesterday.  But, oddly enough, not everyone else is on this schedule so I have to work on being patient.

Although I now have a EIN, LLC and a CPA I’m still waiting on a PIN.  The PIN that will allow me to make wire transfers.  Apparently then I have to call the “Wire Room” and give them three passwords.  I get it, banks need to be terribly careful when transferring money, but really?  It’s not like we’re talking about seven digits here.

I stalked our mailbox today, whipped it open for the 3rd time, found a letter from the bank, tore open the envelope and found….a check card.  Well, at least the process is moving along.  And the card will let me make business purchases which I need to do.

The first one will be Quickbooks for Mac.  The company has already been extremely responsive on Twitter answering my questions from both their Quickbooks and QuickbooksMac accounts.  As with any new piece of software I’m sure there will be some growing pains.  But I look forward to having an official system in place.

No mail tomorrow so I’ll be waiting…patiently…until Monday afternoon for the next batch of letters.  Hopefully my PIN will be here.

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Found: One Fantastic Attorney

Friday, September 17th, 2010

My LLC filing papers

As you may have seen in my first Twitter Video, I got my Alesya LLC papers yesterday.  <Insert happy dance here.>

This is great not only symbolically but it will also help me take some much needed practical steps.  I’ll be able to set up a business account (which will make my CPA happy), pay business partners (which will certainly make them happy) and get my first sample from China a complete big goal (which will make my coach happy).

I’ll tell you what makes me happy.  Finding a fantastic attorney.

Monday I met with Karen S. Love of  Harvey, Casterline & Vallini, L.L.P. who was recommended by Tripp Wiles, our family attorney.  I spoke with Karen a week ago, we met on Monday, she had filed my papers on Tuesday, I got the electronic version from her on Wednesday and the papers from the State of South Carolina on Thursday.

Talk about fast!

While we met on Monday and discussed the kind of person I wanted to work with.  I needed an attorney who I’d have an ongoing relationship with, not just someone I talked to now and again.  Plus there was one other thing.

“I need someone who can do the dirty work,” I said.

“What do you mean exactly?”  Karen replied.

“Well, someone who can negotiate large contracts, play hardball, be tough when necessary … I know it’s going to come up and I don’t want to be the face of that,” I explained.

Karen didn’t bat an eye and said “Don’t worry, I can be a bitch.”

We both howled with laughter.  Perfect!  Just what I needed.

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Your Laptop Bag

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

[polldaddy poll=3767331]

Thank you for your time.  I look forward to your feedback!

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Fly Across the World vs. Sending Email

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Carried Away by Elezar

While working with Wendy at The Bag Trading I realized I was putting a lot of eggs in one basket.  The womens laptop bag they are manufacturing for me is my ultimate product.  It’s the one customers will hold, use and hopefully love.  How could I be sure to fully trust a company on the other side of the world?

Farah Rocker by Elly Clay

Of course, I could travel to China and tour the plant.  Someday I’d like to do this, but even if I did would I know what to look for?  The right questions to ask?  And do I have $3K to spend on a plane ticket right now?

Lamenting with my fellow entrepreneur Jordan Broad he said “Why don’t you ask for US references?”  A simple solution!  Exactly what I needed.

Chelsea by Kara James

Wendy happily provided me with several and I sent out four enquiries.  The best part of the “task” was discovering the beautiful bags other entrepreneurs were creating.  You can see examples throughout this post.

New York by 2 Enlight 10

I received feedback from two of the four companies.  Both were positive and one offered some suggestions for working with any manufacturer.  Oh, and it also saved me $3k.  Not too shabby for a few emails.

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