• 4 Common Blunders That Stop Startup Businesses in Their Tracks

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    1. Lack of funds

    Business needs money. You soon find it does little else but consume funds — lots of it.

    If nothing else, the business needs to provide a source of income for the business owner, not as profits to the owner but as a wage or salary to an employee. Nearly every small business I have been in (including my own in the early days) fails to pay the business owner a market wage. Not paying these kinds of expenses hides the true cost of running a business.

    While owners may forgo income in the short term to get the business rolling, most business people do this because they don’t have the funds. If they don’t have funds to pay appropriate wages to the workers (themselves), then they probably don’t have adequate funds for sales and marketing of the business. Or perhaps they don’t carry some of the insurances a business really needs to protect it from disaster.

    Lack of funds, however, is a symptom, not the problem. The problem here is either poor sales, or poor expenditure control — or both.

    2. Too Much Debt

    To solve the funding problem many business owners borrow to get the business going. But borrowing money can lead to some unexpected results.

    Borrowing large sums of money when you have not learned to manage such amounts can easily lead to disaster. One business I know exhibited this problem. The new owners obtained a $50,000 loan to get the business going, and spent a huge portion of it leasing prime office space and furnishing it to a very high standard. Rather than apply the funds to marketing and sales, they spent it on appearances. They lasted about three months before they shut the door.

    3. Poor Pricing

    The way many businesses get started is by pricing themselves at the lower end of the market. This pricing strategy has nothing to do with pricing for results. It is just that the business owner really does not have the courage to ask the higher prices that established businesses are charging.

    The under-priced business owner soon finds that his customers really don’t appreciate him or the fact that he’s so cheap. He finds that his customers soon drift off to do business with the higher priced people in town, leaving him to find a new customer to replace the one he has lost.

    It takes a year or so (sometimes a lot longer) of operating like this before the business owner decides he has little to lose if he puts up his prices. So he timidly asks the next customer to pay more, finds he gets no rejection on the basis of price, and finds now he can afford to offer a better quality service or product to the customer.

    Since people do not buy on price but on value, the business owner is beginning to learn that his price is not as important as the value he brings to his customer.

    4. Poor Sales and Marketing

    Business takes place only when a sale has been made. Yet many attempt business without the skills of finding customers or making a sale. Somehow they believe that customers will walk in the door and all will be well. But too many startup business owners are weak in the these areas. Therefore, the business suffers.

  • Five Tips to Help You Lighten Up

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    Almost all of us want to constantly adjust our weight. A handful of us are happy with our weight, others need to gain a few pounds. The rest of us “battle the bulge” almost constantly. No matter what your weight goals are, here I provide some important weight loss tips and tricks to help you achieve your ideal weight more faster.

    Eating more calories than your body needs to perform it’s daily functions, means that the extra calories will be stored as fat. If you do not eat sufficient calories to satisfy your bodies energy needs then your body will make make up the difference by taking what it needs from the stored fat in your system.

    Understand that every 3500 calories of unused energy stored by your body, is stored in the form of fat. So in order to lose one pound of fat you would have to create an energy deficit of 3500 calories by either reducing your intake or increasing your exercise level to burn up the 3500 calories. Keep in mind that it is not safe to lose more than 2 pounds per week.

    It can be refreshing to know that walking an extra mile every day will burn up 100 extra calories per day. Walking one mile uses up approximately 100grams of energy (the exact amount depends on your body weight)

    People who are overweight spend more energy in moving about than those who are at their ideal weight. It stands to reason that the heavier you are determines the amount of energy required to move. If you use calorific charts, always check to see what body weight is being referred to.

    Sometimes breaking things down into simple day-to-day terms can make all the difference; Any food or drink that contains about 100 calories, a soft drink or an extra slice of bread per day will add up to 10 extra pounds in one year if your exercise level is not increased.

    One thing is certain. Most people do not get enough exercise in their ordinary daily routines. If you are already over your ideal body weight get a check up before starting a diet or exercise routine.

  • How to Monitor 10G Links Using 1G Tools

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    While these numbers are relevant to larger businesses and corporations, smaller companies will also soon require such extensive bandwidth to manage daily IT and network operations. In preparation, vendors have begun to drive demand through the use of aggressive marketing and price reductions.

    With reduced prices on 10G equipment, many organizations are choosing to upgrade their bandwidth immediately for new technology purchases. After all, why purchase older, slower technology at comparable prices, when your organization can simply begin to prepare for the future now?

    THE CHALLENGE: MONITORING 10G Given the current state of the economy, network operations teams are being challenged to do “more with less,” a phrase that has become pervasive enough to take on the look of an industry theme of late. This trend is showing up in 2009 budget estimates, which are expected to fall by an average of 2.5% from 2008 levels, according to Gartner Research. In response, decision makers are forced to more thoroughly evaluate all capital purchase and make hard decisions about canceling / delaying some transactions.

    10G projects are not immune to the budget crunch. Although the cost of 10G equipment has come down recently, it is still selling at a premium to 1G tools. At the same time, enterprises are faced with the daunting task of monitoring 10G networks to ensure that their business critical applications are secure and running at acceptable performance.

    With the move to 10G, many IT strategists are concerned about whether they will need to upgrade the many different types of network and application monitoring tools that they have already purchased. These business critical tools include: application monitors, intrusion detection systems, compliance tools, data recorders, VOIP monitors, and protocol analyzers. Few organizations have the budget to upgrade some, let alone all of these tools.

    THE SOLUTION: TOOL AGGREGATION Imagine a world where you can use your 1G tools to monitor a 10G network. It can be done due to two important enablers:

    1. Most tools only need to see a small fraction of the network traffic to do their jobs. In fact, sending more data than is required actually degrades efficiency, because tools cannot keep up.
    2. Tool Aggregation, a new industry trend, enables traffic to be filtered and dynamically directed to the correct tools. With this technique, you can increase monitoring coverage and save money.

    Tool Aggregation enables traffic to be received at 10G bandwidths and filtered on Layer 2/3/4 criteria. In most cases, traffic from a 10G link can be reduced to 1G or less by filtering out data that a tool does not need to see, so your existing 1G tools can still be used. If the filtered traffic is over 1G, then operators can still use their 1G tools by load balancing the traffic to two 1G tools using Tool Aggregation. With proper filtering, multiple 10G links can be monitored with a single 1G tool in many cases.

    So exactly how should traffic be filtered? It depends on the tools you are using, the applications you are monitoring, and your business objectives. For example, a typical application performance monitoring tool only needs to see TCP traffic from the specific application ports that it is monitoring. Likewise most VOIP monitors only need to see certain protocols such as SIP, SCCP, and MGCP. Tools work most efficiently when they are sent only the specific traffic that each tool needs. Only then can 1G tools can be used to monitor 10G links.

  • What Are You Creating Next To Grow Your Business?

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    Create New Things To Sell

    Creating something new could mean a new product, or program, or package. Having something new to sell can open you up to customers who weren’t buying your previous offer, but might be interested in something a little different.

    This often happens with my clients who build online courses and training programs. They are able to sell the program to people who hadn’t signed up for one-on-one services. It’s a different approach, a different price point, and a different opportunity.

    Having a new offer opens up conversations with people that had previously been at a dead end. It can create momentum in your business, and lead to growth in areas that didn’t exist before!

    Create Things To Reach More People

    The best way to reach more people is to create things to help you get in front of them. This is where content comes in!

    What can you create to provide value and give to people? Can you send them a blog article? Offer them a free PDF download? Invite them to an event? Engage with them through a video or audio series?

    Content is a hot-button word in marketing these days because it works!

    It’s the best way to find and reach the people who are interested in what you do. With my clients, I recommend creating 1-4 Nurturing Content pieces each month, and one Catalyst Content piece every 12-18 weeks.

    Creating content is what allows you to get in front of people on a regular basis in a positive way, rather than with the same annoying sales pitch.

    Creating Systems

    Another thing you can create to grow your business are systems and processes. What is your process for following up with people? What is the sequence of communications? What do you provide to build a relationship and earn their trust?

    Maybe you need to create a leveraged program, sales process, or customer service system. What are the pieces of the system? Once you create it, you can use it over and over again.

    So it comes down to this…

    If you want to be growing, then you also have to be creating. The fastest growing businesses and individuals have time built in to create things in these categories for their business.