7 tips for entrepreneurs

Great advice for all entrepreneurs, online and off, from Trevor Ginn on time management, making the most of the web and sorting suppliers.

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14th August 2009 at 8:41 am

Beware of Marketing and Advertising Salesmen
Everyday (at least until I turned my phone onto answer phone) I get around 10 sales people trying to sell advertising and marketing services of a dubious quality.  Be careful before investing in any kind of marketing service as most of them will not be the once in a lifetime opportunity they suggest.  Particularly for online services it is reasonable to ask for a trial before spending any money.

Keep it Simple
May people think that to start a business requires an original idea.  In his book, ‘How to Get Rich’, millionaire publisher Felix Dennis calls this the fallacy of the great idea.  In reality great ideas are few and far between.  For every Google there are a thousand similar companies which had what their founders thought were great ideas but have unfortunately been consigned to the dustbin of internet business history.  To be successful does not require a novel idea, just a good idea expertly executed.

Learn Search Engine Optimisation
Attracting search traffic from Google is undoubtedly the most cost effective way of marketing a business.  Time spent learning how to optimise a website to maximise traffic from Google is time very well spent.  Fundamentally, there are two optimisation factors, the content of the website and the quality and quantity of incoming links.  Whilst getting onto page one for competitive phrases is very difficult creating quality content and being on the look out for linking opportunities can make a significant difference to website traffic.  Remember that each visitor to a website is a potential customer.

Economise
As a start up, money will be tight and it really goes without saying that economies should be made wherever possible, especially in the current climate.  I saved thousands of pounds by choosing really cheap office space and outsourcing work to the far east.  Instead of employing someone in the UK, I have a full time employee in Thailand who I found through eLance.  This works out at around quarter of the cost of a UK employee.

Write letters
Sending letters the old fashioned way via snail mail is a highly effective way of getting a point across.  Unlike emails, paper letters cannot be deleted at the touch of a button; they sit around and demand action.  When writing a letter I advise going straight to the top and writing straight to the CEO.  Be polite but firm and remember that a letter of complaint does not have to be a great work of literature. In the last year I have been refunded £5000 though writing letters of complaint.
Be Assertive
When working with contractors it is important to have a good idea of the quality of the work which you want to delivered.  Do not to settle for second best.  It is in human nature to cut corners and so go though all deliverables with a tooth comb to ensure that they are up to scratch.  With web sites, for example, do not assume that the site has been properly tested, it almost certainly has not!

Watch Your Time and Get Organised
Entrepreneurs have multiple demands on their time and often there will be no one to delegate to.  It is possible to waste a huge amount of time though pointless meeting and phone calls.  Being disorganised is also the thief of time as it is much more time consuming to correct mistakes than get it right first time.  However, by learning time management techniques it is be possible to make a huge impact on personal productivity.  The two books I recommend are ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen and The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (read Tim Ferris for his ideas about efficiency and in my view, avoid his ideas about business)

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Trevor is Managing Director of Hello Baby an online nursery shop based in Bethnal Green, London. As well as flogging baby stuff Trevor also blogs about eCommerce at www.trevorginn.com and is a partner at Internet marketing agency Vendlab (www.VendLab.com). http://www.hellobabydirect.co.uk

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