Archive for October, 1998

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Posted: October 26, 1998 by Chuck Matthews in Startup, Technology

Classic Cincinnati Post column from 1998

Is your small business equipped with technology toys or competitive weapons? Most of us have become familiar with the telephone, voice mail, fax and even e-mail. But how about digital text messaging?

I recently sent my first digital text message. Armed with the person’s digital phone number, I logged onto the Internet, brought up the home page for her wireless carrier, clicked on the digital text messaging button, typed in the number and brief message, hit send and logged off. Seconds later, her digital phone beeped and across the screen of her phone scrolled my message. E-mail on your portable phone.

Now the question becomes, can this help my business develop a competitive advantage or is it just a technology toy?

If you own and operate a business, you cannot ignore the fast change and high impact of technology in the workplace. But before you run out and embrace it all, ask yourself these basic questions: How can I best use information technology to gain competitive advantage? What steps do I need to take?

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Catch the Buzz of Marketing Aura

Posted: October 19, 1998 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, Marketing, Startup

Do you remember a really special experience with a business?

Someone or everyone at that establishment created a memory that lingers in your mind long after the commercial transaction has been completed?

You have just experienced marketing aura – you have caught the buzz! The Holy Grail of all marketing strategies is the ability to create an incredible experience that generates more repeat business, more new customers and more profits.

Some very large companies are great at creating marketing aura – Apple Computer, Disney and Saturn all have special experiences that their customers share.

But small companies can create marketing aura on their own as well.

In Boston’s Fanueil Hall, the infamous Durgin Park restaurant has been asking patrons to pay for their dinners when ordered and subject themselves to the abrupt and impolite demeanors of the waitstaff.

In any other restaurant, this would guarantee a minuscule tip, yet at Durgin Park, people wait in line to experience the aura of an interesting customer service strategy. They rarely advertise, never run any specials, yet the cash registers keep ringing.

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Ignoring Details Can Be Costly

Posted: October 12, 1998 by Sutton Landry in Operations

[Editor’s Note: This was the inaugural column published in the Cincinnati Post!]

Entrepreneurs aren’t known for their patience or for their attention to pesky details. They are known for their abilities to recognize market opportunities, muster resources and act quickly to take advantage of those opportunities. As a result, many new businesses are launched with little attention to the tedious but important formalities required by all levels of government.

If you are one of these entrepreneurs, you need to put your house in order, right now. The longer you wait, the more difficulties you are likely to encounter.

How difficult will it be to do this? That depends on such things as what state you are in, what name you choose, what type of operating entity you select, whether you have employees, whether you need to collect sales tax, whether you are leasing space for your business, whether you have investors or partners, whether you have borrowed money, and how long you have been conducting business outside the law. Let’s look at two examples.

Meet Jane Jones, a college student in the Greater Cincinnati area living at home in Anderson Township, Ohio. Her parents bought her a computer when she was 6 and she has become quite the cyber expert. A family friend approaches Jane about designing a Web site for his business, they negotiate a price and delivery schedule, and Jane starts to work. She is now in business for herself. She decides to take a basic approach to her business name and chooses ”Jane Jones, Web Designer.” In this specific case, she doesn’t need to do anything else except pay her taxes at year-end as a sole proprietor.

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