Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What are your specialist subjects?

If you have every thought about writing a book and sought advise from an established author, you are likely to have been told to "write what you know about". It makes perfect sense, why would you (at least for your first book) attempt a subject that you know nothing about? The same would seem to be true about your first online business venture.

Take some time out and make a list of the subject areas you know a lot about and/or where you have significant experience. Probably these 'areas' will include both business and social expertise. Your knowledge will not only underpin any online venture, but hopefully will also give you the initial idea. Your knowledge of the subject matter will help you have a far better chance of identifying a need. Now I can hear you saying, with all the millions of online businesses that exist, how am I going to spot a new or unique need?

Well there are two things to consider. Firstly refer back to my January 2011 post "Just because a town already has a coffee shop" - someone else is doing it, but that does not mean you can't do the same, if not better. Secondly, a 'need' does not have to be a huge requirement. Maybe other online businesses are already providing a very good product or service, but your knowledge and experience means that you can identify the 'slither' that is missing or the extra 5% that customers are really looking for.

Start with that list of what you are good at - you may be surprised by how it inspires you!

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Web site needs as much pie as you do

Probably to my own detriment, I spent all my working life ignoring what many believe is a critical element to one’s ability to climb the slippery corporate pole. The model, which is supposed to make a substantive difference to an individual’s career, is called PIE.

The three parts of the PIE are as follows;
- Performance: The work that you undertake and how you deliver
- Image: How others see you, what they think of you
- Exposure: Who (the people) that get to learn about your Performance and Image.

Like me, many of you may find such an approach pretty galling. Surely it should be your ‘work’ that counts, rather than how your are viewed and whether or not the bosses know about you. To ‘rub salt into the wounds’, it is suggested that Performance only carries an overall weighting of 10%, compared with 30% for Image and a massive 60% for Exposure! I am sure we could debate this premise for many hours, however what struck me was how well aligned PIE is to getting a new Web site established.

There is always a lot of debate about when a site should be launched. The whole question of Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and the notion that it is often best to get the basics out there and then start to worry about refining the proposition. So if this element of any Web site is the ‘Performance’, does it follow that we need to put a huge amount of more effort into ‘Image’ and ‘Exposure’?

The answer would seem to be a resounding ‘yes’. Of course a site’s performance (user experience and stickiness) needs to be constantly improving, but without the Image and Exposure we are in the land of “Build it and they will come” ….and guess what – they don’t.

So how on earth do we get the necessary levels of Image and Exposure to take our new site to the desired levels, without spending all our money on marketing methods that can’t guarantee a return? That is just what I am trying to crack. If I work it out maybe it is another blog post – or perhaps not.

Off now to check that the boss knows who I am.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Is it as embarrassing as seeing your Dad dance at the Disco?

I started using the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and the best of the rest, primarily as I needed to learn as much as I could about all the variants of Social Networking. Clearly LinkedIn was a bit different, in that I had signed up quite some time ago and was already convinced of the benefits. The others I have continued to use and must say, to a greater or lesser extent, enjoy. Although I cannot deny that often my main interest is to try and identify a different angle that just might provide the inspiration for the next 'big online idea'.

However, none these sites come close the 600lbs 'gorilla in the corner' that is called Facebook. The issue for me using Facebook is simple - its the younger generation who know me and who also use what is the biggest social network in the world. That means my daughter, nephews, nieces and their friends, most of whom I have seen growing up over the last 20+ years. Now you might think my concern is about what they post, and I must be honest and admit that it does some times stop me in my tracks. But genuinely that is not the issue - the concern I have is about what I post!

I am aware of the comments (not from my daughter) about why would Phil want to do this at his age? It is almost as if I was trying to somehow make myself younger or force my way into hanging out with the kids. Well I am very pleased to say that I have found the solution - basically I ignore the younger generation and do my own thing - very much as I do on the dance floor! The truth is they don't mind me dancing, its the fear of dancing with them that is their major concern. So I only have a cursory glance at their posts and very rarely reply, comment or even 'like'. I just concentrate on the other 'fossils' who are dancing around me.