Running a small business can be tough, especially in the current economy conditions where clients aren’t easy to come by, so keeping your expenses to the minimum is a certain way to improve your bottom line. When it comes to promotional materials, one could spend a lot of money there. And business cards are usually the most commonly used way to promote one’s business. It’s the magic handshake protocol most entrepreneurs are so familiar with:
- “What do you do?”
- “I’m a Registered Massage Therapist. What about you?”
- “I’m a Reiki Master, and here is my business card. Can I have your card?”
- “Of course, here it is.”
The Internet has been around for a relatively long time by now, yet, business cards aren’t a thing of a past and it’ll probably take quite some time before one will not carry any around with them anymore and not leave a few here and there on various posting boards in cafés and community places.
Business cards have been around for centuries (In China since 15th century, Europe – 17th century) . So it’s not surprising that these days there are many shops that will print your business cards in various shapes and forms, using different fancy kinds of paper and color. But they can be quite expensive, especially if someone designs them from scratch – since you’re paying for their time, their rent costs, etc.
The following is an excellent video where Matt Cutts and other three members of Google Search review a dozen or so sites and discuss the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues. Below you will find my summary of it, which you might want to read instead if you don’t have a spare hour to watch the whole video.
Since Google still dominates the search engine market, it’s most important that your website fares well in google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Most people who understand at least a little bit about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) know that one of the biggest factors in how Google ranks sites (and individual pages) is by how many inbound links they get from other sites. Ideally those links should be from sites that are directly relevant to the topic of the destination site and the pages the links come from should have high page rank themselves.
There was a time when one could either buy links from other sites or do link exchanges. None of the two works for you these days. If Google detects that you buy links on other sites, you will get punished and demoted in SERPs, if you do link exchanges, you’re simply wasting your time since Google has been ignoring those pages.
Most sites that produce useful content have no problems getting links from other sites, because there is always someone out there who’s interested in what you have to offer. This works especially well if your potential audience is big or even better huge, and ideally those people should be technically inclined so that they know how to link to your site (at least in their blog posts). So if your site is about nutrition, celebrities, politics, and other very popular topics as long as you produce unique and interesting content you will get those highly sought after inbound links.
Now what if your company does something very very technical and non-sexy that hardly anybody in the crowd of those who could link to you cares about? Let’s say you make light fixtures for commercial buildings or you provide concrete scanning services (these examples are based on industries for companies I consulted for recently). These topics aren’t not-sexy and I’d say even boring — why would anybody ever link to those sites. In that’s what those companies suffer from. Low page rank and tough time getting the attention of potential customers searching for those companies.
So what do you do? The solutions are relatively simple and don’t require much technical knowledge.
Most people are unaware of this neat feature that Google provides, but have you noticed that when you search for a business, sometimes Google will show a specific business on the map at the very top of the search results?
Let’s take a concrete example. My company’s name is StasoSphere, which resides in Vancouver and besides other things that I do in this life I’m a Reiki practitioner (which is an energy-based healing modality). Now let’s search google for ‘Reiki Vancouver’, which most prospective clients would type in to find a Reiki practitioner in Vancouver.
And this is what we get:
This month’s angel investors meeting was dedicated to the high-tech startups (every other month is Life Sciences).
I found two startup companies that stood out, both in the “do good” space:
Tim Piwonka-Corle, presented H2O3 Inc, whose product is a portable water disinfection unit that you can see on the right. The process is done using an ozone sterilizer, which uses less than 100 Watts of power (think incandescent light bulb). Each unit is able to produce 20 liters of sterile water in about 15 minutes.
Since there is no August meeting for VanTEC, the July’s meeting had twice the companies presenting. In addition to the usual 5 5-minute snapshots, there were another 10 extra preview presentations. Moreover Mike decided to run the same presentations twice. As I was sponsoring one of the companies, I had to come to both days. The days were very long and quite tiring. Imagine 3.5 hours of non-stop presentations, from 20 companies!
There were a few companies that I found particularly interesting.
This company’s idea is to help entrepreneurs with fundraising. Startups make a video of their pitch and upload it to fundfindr’s site. Potential investors can watch those videos and contact the entrepreneurs if they are interested in the idea. The site also provides listing of various investor groups and their contact information, which is a helpful resource.
Every months a group of investors meets at SFU Time Center in downtown Vancouver, for a 2-3 hour meeting, where early stage startups give their pitch in hope that they will find some interested investors. Some startups just want the cash, most companies ask for cash, plus mentorship, others are just in the conception stage and all they want is mentorship.
Typically there are two segments to each meeting. There are 5-minute pitches, for those who do it for the first time. If the 5-minute pitch went well and people found the presenter prepared, then the next time they are given 15 minutes. They also get time to answer questions — typically 10 minutes presentation, followed by a 5-minute Q&A session, where startups get “grilled” a bit, or should we say get a “reality-check”.
Recently one of the meeting organizers, Thealzel Lee, started running prescreen sessions, which allows startups to run their presentation in front of a small expert panel, which give suggestions for improvements and the panel also decides whether the company is ready to do the long pitch, do the short one, or send them home to do their homework.
I wear many hats. When I get bored of one hat, I simply take it off and wear a different one. Sometimes I wear no hats at all, and that means I got burned out, which is when I just disconnect from the world and become quiet for some time.
Often I find myself wearing one of the two hats: entrepreneur hat and investor hat.
I run my own business, but there are too many things I’m interested in and I can’t possibly work on too many projects at the same time and actually accomplish anything. I could hire people to work for me, but I don’t like management. I want to work on exciting projects, not manage people who do those projects. Some of us quit their employers to start their own company, because they hated being a slave to their company and not being able to work on things they really want to. And then they end up having their own company, but because now they need to manage people they don’t really get to enjoy their own company either. There must be a better way.