Monthly Archives: August 2014

Here is how Small Businesses compete against the Big Guys

Imagine you are a small cafe owner and you want to be able to bring in the same kind of traffic that Starbucks gets but you just started, how do you go about doing that? The same can be said if you are a plumber or a independent fitness instructor? How do you go about getting your name out there so that people will come to you?

This is something that many small mom-and-pop shops have been dealing with a for a long time. If you lived in the anytime before the internet, the only way to get your name out there was to advertising on billboards, in the yellowpages, radio/TV (if you could afford it) and by passing out flyers by hand. Some businesses still do that today but the internet has changed things, sometimes for the better, but it has created a lot more competition for first time entrepreneurs.

Here are a few ways to start competing with the big boys
If you are an independent Coffee shop then getting on the band wagon with the app Cups will get you some business. Customers can sign up for a subscription to the service where they can go to any independently owned coffee house in the network and get unlimited coffee. The app pays the coffee shops a percentage for signing up to use the service. This allows anyone who uses the app to attend more local coffee houses instead of the bigger chains. Not bad for an unlimited cup of coffee. Subscription rates start at $7 and go up to $85. (Apple, Android)

Many small companies have trouble managing their accounts, some use small business software like quicken to keep track of stuff for them but what about printing receipts for a customer or accepting credit cards? If you are tech savvy and know where to go to set everything up it can take a bit of time but it’s possible but why go through all that trouble when you can let the app, ShopKeep, do it all for you. They take away the responsibility of needing a server so if your business has a fire or flooding nothing will get lost because ShopKeep manages everything on their own. The convenience behind this idea is that it lets you focus on just running your business and you can do it all from an iPad. (Apple)

Independent bookstores will be happy to see that there is a way to compete against Amazon using a service called Edelweiss. It lets librarians, bloggers, reviewers, rights acquirers, bookshop owners, and probably lots more interact with their database to find what they are looking for. It also lets them connect with publishers directly thereby  taking out any middlemen there might be. This service can be very helpful to those looking to create a special collection of books for a specific audience in your neighborhood store. (Sign up here)

Any small business will be happy to know about this service when it comes to advertising what their company does in a style that matches what people expect from a professional company. They want style, elegance and feel when watching a promotional video instead of an armature thrown together look. That is where the company, Shakr, comes in and changes all that and makes it easy for you to create your own professional looking video in just a few minutes. They have cultivated the minds of industry professionals who work in advertising and marketing and take apart the pieces of what makes their work stand out and created a place that utilizes their skills in a unique way that anyone with a computer can access.

Creating Legal documents on your own can be a challenge but not difficult. Some small businesses have created one page contracts using just Word with simple to follow rules. Any contract that both parties sign and agree to is a legally binding contract. The only difference is that contracts created by lawyers have been thoroughly researched to include years of experience about what should be included in certain types of contracts. Now there is an app you can carry with you on your smartphone that includes tons of contracts for all kinds of situations. The nice thing is that once you filled out the form and both parties have signed you can email a copy to the other person. Shake is the name of the program that allows to you to reduce the costs of hiring a lawyer every time you need a contract (but it does not act as a replacement, every contract can be changed and edited before both parties sign and all contracts provided are just standard forms and do not include anything the other party might want to include which you have to be willing to agree to before signing). (Apple)
To learn more about Shake read here.

If you ever needed a site that lets you advertise your services but also find work in the mealtime? Thumbtack has changed how service companies find work. It used to be that if someone needed a plumber they would just go to the yellowpages and called each one to get different prices. That took time and energy to find the cheapest one. Now with Thumbtack all someone has to do is type in the service they need and a zip code and then fill out a questionnaire that explains what they are looking for. After they submit the form local companies in the area can then bid on the project allowing the person to find the cheapest deal or the deal with the best quality. Service businesses of all types can sign up to use the service to help grow their company. Anyone can also sign up and use the website regularly to find what they are looking for. A great way of connecting people with local businesses but also perfect for small businesses just starting out.
You can read more about how Thumbtack got started and why its a game changer.

Additional Apps that offer great service
Mint – Finance app that lets you manage both your personal and small business reports. (Apple, Android)

Quip – App that lets you manage documents and tasks across different people. (Apple, Android)

Asana – App that allows for collaboration between work groups but also personal projects such as family events and friends. It is also able to connect with many popular apps as well for improved performance. (Apple, Android)

Expensify – Help keep track of all your business expenses with this app. It lets you track mileage, scan and upload receipts and even categorize and submit receipts. (Apple, Android)

Whether you are just starting out or looking to reduce the costs of your business or just want to get more business these services are helping small businesses compete against the bigger guys by providing new ways of doing business. If any of these services help please provide a comment about how.

News Article

Modern Tools for Mom-and-Pops

You can Camp, Fish and Relax with this New Personal Plane

The world of personal travel is giving us options we never would have thought possible decades ago. We have flying cars, hover bikes, motorcycle helicopters, and now a personal plane for water, land, and snow. This is the kind of vehicle for a couple or single individual who has the freedom and time to travel anywhere making it the perfect vehicle for getting around. The light sports amphibious plane is known as World’s Most Advanced Plane (MVP).

If you live in an area where there are lots of lakes then this is a plane that you will want to consider buying because it would give you the freedom to go anywhere you wanted on a moment’s notice. Personal planes are nothing new but this one gives it a new twist, you can use it as a getaway location. You will be able to sleep in it, fish from, relax and read on it and probably lots more that people will be able to come up with once it gets on the market.

Freedom to Travel
The first part of the idea is nothing new, personal planes have been around for a long time. Many rich families buy them for the enjoyment of not having to buy airline tickets anymore, except in the case of overseas travel. Many individuals, families, and even commercial pilots own personal planes for many reasons, but one of the best is that they are able to go anywhere there is an airport to land at. Now there is a new plane that wants to change the freedom of travel by combing a number of options together and saving you money in the long run.

Say Hello to the MVP Aero Plane

You can see the number of ways a person could use this plane for getting around more. They are no longer limited to landing at an airport. They can use this plane as their own boat, they can land where there is water, and if they had a truck they can bring it on land and use it for camping inside. There are many features added on, as you could see from the video, hanging a hammock in the back to relax while reading a boat on the lake. If you could put up a canopy for sunlight protection you would have it made in the shade. While the plane in the video is not the final product, there is a chance that more will be added on later.


The multi-function of the plane will appeal to many people looking for something different in a personal plane. Those that already own a small plane will see this as something fun to have and enjoy, especially it if came with it’s own anchor system but I’m sure this plane was designed more for calm lakes instead of it the ocean where the waters can get dangerous at times.

There are so many things you could use this plane for
– quick getaways
– weekend fishing trips
– traveling around the world
– a travel blogger’s home
– Romantic Getaway
– Nature Trips
– Place for Inspired Writing
– Boating Trips
– Camping
– and Lots More!

You can watch an interview with Dan Johnson as he talks to the President of MVP AERO about the plane at the Annual Plane and Pilot Midwest LSA Expo.
Video Link

A Few Ideas for Improvement
This plane is already advanced and looking to be a great “toy” for anyone who has money to buy one ($189k, self-build kit $169k). When I first saw this plane I already thought there would be certain features already on the plane that made sense to have in the first place but now that I have read everything I can see that there will probably be later models (hopefully) that will add these on later (how else do you plan to keep appealing to new customers in the long run).

Features that Should be Present
Landing Gear: there is talk of a landing gear on the plane and that was a question I had while reading all of this because I never saw one picture of the plane on wheels so that made it a huge concern.
Anchor System: Yes I can see how some might say well you can just bring your own and that is true but we live in a modern world now where everything can be controlled by the flip of a switch so landing on the water and flipping a switch to drop the anchor while you set up your hammock to read will save you the trouble of knowing you won’t drift into anything on the water if you happen to fall asleep.
Combined Helicopter Engines: This would make it easier for landing in small fields and even parking lots. In many cases it could also be used for small lakes and such. I understand that the design of the placement of the engine is what makes it all compact and if the engines were moved to the sides of the wings they would not be able to fold in.
(USB) Plugs for charging: This might sound like a given but more and more vehicles are realizing how important it is to have plugs for recharging phones and any electronic devices, especially if you get stuck somewhere.
Canopy Slots: The hammock idea is a great part of the plane but should someone fall asleep with no sunblock, ouch. There should be slots to put up a canopy above the hammock creating much needed shade. This could even be an added feature or just something nice to do for your customers.

Even though this plane won’t be available for another 3 years it is great to know that such planes will be around. In the meantime there will be lots more entering the market during that time. The idea is to keep the plane compact, easy to use, lightweight, and versatile. If the plane gets too big it will be difficult to handle and the cost will go up. I can’t wait to see what the final product looks like once the plane enters the market. If anyone would like to buy me one I will not hesitate to accept.

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing plane, visit their website

Be sure to check out there FAQ section as this will answer a lot about what they are still working on.
For those who have money to burn you can order your plane right now
Reserve My Plane Now

Be sure to say hello to the Team on their Twitter Page MVP_AERO

Looking for High-End Jobs online? Your Wasting Your Time

Walk on to any golf course between the early mornings and lunch time and you will see many men puttering about on their golf carts with other people. They’re laughing, talking, and having a good time. From a distance they are just people enjoying a nice time out on the range shooting a few balls around.

During the same time that is happening there are people eating in nice cafes or restaurants either for brunch or lunch. Then there are the people who are enjoying a really nice dinner in a high end restaurant to cap off their busy day somewhere in the world right now. Again, from a distance they just look like people enjoying a nice meal and talking.

Now lets zoom in to those conversations. What is really happening there? Why aren’t the people who are playing golf at work? Don’t they have jobs and shouldn’t they be working to make money so they can support what ever it is they do? This is regardless of those who are retired and grew up doing the golf grooming thing. So, bottom line….why aren’t they working?

Real Work Happens Outside the Office
The truth about what those people are doing is that they ARE working, in the form of networking, conducting business deals, and talking over the details of prior arrangements. The idea of all business being conducted inside a closed office is one for the movies to show, and enough though some business does get done in those fancy rooms, people are people and high-end individuals like to conduct business in a fashion that is enjoyable for them.

The golfers and diners like to conduct business in a setting that puts them at ease so they can focus on what matters. This is also the place where offers are made, such as promotions and new job openings. The reason why you will never see an opening online for a CEO position is because those only go to people they already know (like a boys-only club), except in this case it’s an executives-only club. This is why people from Ivy Leagues have a greater chance of getting high end jobs, not because they know how to do the job (that’s just a given expectations and many times they have no experience so they will be groomed by their network of connections) but because their family knows people who know people who know who to talk to about getting the job.

Those dinners’ that happen over an expensive meal are meant to cover what is happening at the company. What new jobs are coming and in many cases, the new jobs that are created just to bring someone they like in to the company. This happens all the time. The higher up you know people the more power they have to create anything they want, even job positions. These are the very jobs that normally never get posted anywhere because they are only by word of month and friends of friends and even associates or class mates.

Word of Month Jobs
In many reportsstudies, and magazines articles, you find those never-heard-of-jobs through people you know or network with. I have been offered many jobs that didn’t exist because I have always been asked to come in and create programs for businesses. Would those jobs have been advertised if I didn’t take the job? Maybe, but the idea here is that companies are more interested in finding people who have proven that they know what they are doing and can see their work in action. This is better than reading a faceless resume. When people see what I am doing first-hand it takes out the guesswork of trying to find out if that person will be a good fit for what they are looking for. That is a better test than performing an interview.

In Keith Ferrazzi’s top networking book, Never Eat Alone, he explains the power of networking and why the top jobs always go to people who are connected with those at the top. These jobs are handed out because they see something in that person they know. More than 80% of jobs are found through a person’s network and the type of network a person has will depend on the type of job a person gets.

Rings on the Ladder
Many people complain that they never advertise the jobs they want online. I remember when I tried the whole looking for jobs online thing and found it to be a very depressing experience. Infact, if you look very carefully, the same jobs I was looking at a long time ago are still there on the sites today. Why is that? Well, those same jobs (ex. work from home, medical billing encoders, and sales reps for outlet stores, etc) are a whole business unto themselves, meaning there is a whole new business of making sure people take those jobs because the people posting them make money anytime someone signs up. Infact even the website The Ladders is an odd experience because if you are already making more than $100k (the only jobs posted on their website have to be more than $100k in salary) then chances are you are already surrounded by high-end opportunities through networking, your company culture, and even the jobs your friends are telling you about. So why would you use it if your company already posts all their jobs on their company website? Unless you plan on switching to another company.

So how does someone get out of that whole mess? If you want to improve the type of jobs you hear about you have to improve the type of people you associate with. Again, going back to Ivy League graduates, they have been around people who are successful in life and attend high-end events and parties. They mingle with other people who are successful and hear about opportunities that are not advertised. They end up working in jobs that are three or four levels higher than someone else who applied directly to the company would have started.

This is why birds of a feather flock together; why office assistants hangout with other office assistants and hear about more office assistant positions, why construction works hangout with other construction workers and hear about more jobs in construction, and why middle-class hangouts with other people in middle-class. If you want to find the jobs that are not advertised (i.e. executive level positions) and you have the knowledge, social skills, and some experience then you need to change your social circle of contacts and meet those who already work in those fields.

The last part I just mentioned is a difficult change for most people because if you have never been around people who have been successful their whole life and always been offered jobs instead of looked for them it can be a very intimidating experience. That is why books like, The Fine Art of Small Talk, The Art of Mingling, How to Win Friends and Influence People (I read this important book when I was in high school), Never Eat Alone, How to Make People Like You in 90 seconds or less, How to Work a Room, How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends, Conversational Speaking are so important to read. But very few people ever take the time to read these important books. Infact if you go to college, or even public school, no where in all those classes will you ever hear about these important books. These books teach you how to talk with people and make meaningful connections, they are the glue that binds us to other people. Something that is worth its weight in gold.

Creating Your Own Opportunities
Go on Kickstarter or Indiegogo and look at all the amazing ideas that people have come up with. Each idea for either a product or service is a business all by itself. These people, instead of sitting on their computer looking for jobs online, went out and created their own opportunities and gave themselves their own job. They created a good enough presentation for people to think their project was worth investing in.

The idea now is there are tons of different websites now that allow people to create all kinds of things on their own. Infact there are many websites, like Cafe Press and Threadless, that lets you create your own clothing line without ever touching a single piece of fabric. You just select the type of clothing you want to use, pick the style, and then upload your graphic image or text you want to appear on the clothing and then edit how it should look and then submit. You can create your own store online of all the different things you have create and post the link on your website or to give out to people you meet so they can see what you have done.

The ability to create any kind of business is so easy that it would only take you an hour or two at the most. You just have to be creative enough to come up with a fairly decent idea that people will be interested in buying. Even if the store is not successful right away (and you should never think your product or idea will be a viral hit right away, no one can predict that) you will have created something for you to showcase your talents that way if any employer is interested in hiring you then you can show them all the different projects you have created.

This is better than someone who sits at home all day sending out resumes to random employers for basic jobs that won’t go anywhere. If you create something at least that looks better than the person who does nothing all day. In either case, who would you hire?

Network Your Way Up
If you want to start networking then you can start by finding your cities main websites that tells you about all the events happening. A good place to start is your city’s Chamber of Commerce website and read about all the events happening. They always have networking opportunities. Here is how I would do it for Austin

Austin 360 Lists Tons of Events – Click Here to See
Austin Chamber of Commerce Events Calendar
Do512 – List of Events
Austin Business Journal – Events Calendar
Networking Austin
MeetUp – Business Networking Groups

As you can see I found tons of events to fill my entire fall calendar already. I will probably find a lot of new leads, job offers, and amazing opportunities by attending them. You can do the same for your city. A few key terms I used were “<name of city> networking events”, “<name of city> business events,” and “<name of city> business networking events.” That will help you out so take a look around and use the website Meetup to help. If you do not find what you are looking for, then use Facebook groups or Meetup to create your own networking group and invite people to join. You can also use Leftover Swap so you have food for everyone who attends or you can make it a potluck event. You can even create your own rules, like you introduce one person to someone and then that person has to introduce someone they know to someone else and pretty soon everyone knows at least two or three people at the networking event.

Whether you are looking for just a job to pay the bills or you actually want to elevate yourself into a new social circle then you will need the people skills to get you there. I have seen many great people at networking events bomb terribly, not because they didn’t have the skills or experience in their field but because their social skills were not up to par. I have heard comments or off-the-mark conversation topics, that they though were appropriate at the moment, that didn’t leave a good impression. The problem with that is they didn’t see it for themselves, they weren’t aware that what they were saying was making the other person uncomfortable.

If you want to improve your opportunities, get to know different people around you anywhere, and be able to have a conversation with anyone anywhere then my advice would be to read those books (their at your local library) and study them like you would for a final exam. It’s hard work because you have to keep testing out everything you read until you finally meet that person where you have a conversation with them that makes the both of you feel like you have known each other for a long time. That sounds easy reading it but it takes a lot of practice before you can make anyone your friend.

Once you know how to do that the world will open up with lots of opportunities.

Side Note: All the Books Listed in this article and in the Books Resource section of this website I have read. So I am not just posting books that have catchy titles. I have already put in the time and effort.

Expanded Reading List
Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion

Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Reputation Economics: Why Who You Know Is Worth More Than What You Have

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

What Got you Here Won’t Get You There

News Article

Study: Half Of All Available Jobs Are Never Advertised

Who you know is more important than you realize

80% of Today’s Jobs are Landed Through Networking

If you plan on moving soon, pick these places as a destination

Moving to another city can be a challenge, especially if it is overseas. The biggest challenge though is figuring out where the best place to move would be. Most people move because of their job or family. For those that don’t really work for anyone in particular moving should be looked at as a global option. The only problem with that is there are too many cities to choose from so to make it easier to figure out the best place to move Forbes created a list of the most influential cities in the world. That is why you should think about one of the top ten places as an option for moving to.

The ratings of each city were based off a number of options in order to qualify. These are a few areas each city had to offer in order to be on the list
– Number of Foreign Direct Investments
– Number of Corporate Headquarters
– Variety of Business industries it dominates in
– Ease of Travel to and from other global cities
– How strong its financial services are
– Technology and Media Strength
– Racial Diversity

Some other areas that help influence the city rating are
– Legal System
– Judicial System
– How easy it is to start a business
– Strength of local public transportation

Top Ten Global Cities of Influence
1. London
2. New York
3. Paris
4. Singapore
5. Tokyo
6. Hong Kong
7. Dubai
8. Beijing
9. Sydney
10. San Francisco Bay Area

11. Los Angeles
12. Toronto

So if you happen to already live in one of those cities then you should get out more and explore what your city has to offer. I can guarantee that you can increase your social life by 100 fold easily. There are enough opportunities out there for you to find a way to start a business, get a job, or partner with someone to get something great started. You just need the know-how and proactive attitude to put yourself out there.

If none of those work then walking around your own city and exploring is the next best thing to do. You will run into different people (as long as your not shy to say hello) and see different events taking place. All you have to do is put yourself out there for the world to see and you will start to find your life taking on a whole new meaning.

News Article

Most influential Cities in the world

Close to majority of people never unplug from technology

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that technology is something that is embedded into our culture. It is everywhere and always pushed towards it, especially if ever you have a question now for any company representative, the first thing they will ask you is, “have you checked our website for the answer?” Most websites now offer a FAQ section to the most commonly asked questions any customer might have. This in turn does two things, instead of just answering the question right then and there; the customer has to look around on the website to find the FAQ (if they designed the website correctly there will be a link at the bottom of the page) and then click on it but in the mean time the company hopes by sending you to their website you might learn more about them and might discover something else you want from them thereby increasing the chance of more business. As nice as that is to think that way most customers just want the answer to their question so they can go back to doing what they were before.

Wearable Technology
Now that we can wear technology it will be almost impossible to disconnect, especially when we have apps that provide us with very important information now. Especially tattoos that can inject us with our prescribed medication on a regular schedule all on it’s own, a technology that will help the many who suffer from poor memory cognition. Even though google glass is only a product on its own there is no doubt that soon people will be requesting their prescription lens on their google glass device and this makes sense because people who need a hands free device to access information while still being able to see will help many people still do what they need done.

When you think about the fact that we can use the internet with just a few hand gestures, it’s not to far in the future when you start to see people typing in the air with their glasses to send a message. You can add that to the new smart shoes that can direct a person where to go and for any blind person this is a huge help for them. The shoes vibrate based on where to turn or when to stop or any other notification and it connects to your phone with bluetooth technology and app. The best part about these shoes is that they will cost only $100 bucks, which is a lot cheaper than the price tag of $1500 for google glass. Visit their website to preorder if you would like a pair.

The other thing that has grown in popularity are smart watches. Samsung watch, Pebble Watch, Apple iWatch, and lots more out there. These smart watches already have apps with them that connect to your smart phone and some even let you talk directly into them to send a message and more. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when a study that was conducted by CivicScience found that close to majority of people surveyed were unable to disconnect from their devices.

The Results
If you look at how often people interact with technology you can see that it is almost impossible to disconnect. Take for example the average person in America; they wake up and turn on the TV and watch the news or their favorite TV show (if they were in a high income bracket they would have a smart tv that would tell them things like traffic conditions, stock market prices, important news updates, and more), then they go to work where they sit down at their desk and check their email (for some they like to check their email and news on their home computer before they leave), check a couple of things online and then start work. In between all this they are checking their smartphone for any alerts, txt msgs, missed phone calls, app notifications, and more.

If you look back at life twenty years ago majority of those actions didn’t exist. The only thing you did was hope for the paper to be on your doorstep by the time you woke up, turn the TV on and listen to the news while the coffee was being made. Now tablets have also come into our lives so we can sit down and, instead of checking the front porch for the paper, we have instant access to “free” news all over the internet. We do this while listening to the news on the TV in the background. We check other email accounts, google alerts, and tons more. Then we wonder how the time got away from us. We even have clothes that light up now, blankets that can sense our mood, and even shirts that monitor our body functions so this shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are becoming more connected to technology than ever and it will be hard to break away, especially if how you make money depends on keeping up with the latest information.

Breaking Away
It will be harder to break away from technology and that is why I still enjoy reading physical books. I am not a fan of ebooks because it keeps me off the computer and away from anything tech related. I can just sit and enjoy the story. If you are having trouble don’t worry, it’s understandable but if you find that you can not get off then you might want to make a rule that one room has a strict no technology in that room. Only places to sit, a nice coffee table, a soft rug on the floor, maybe a fireplace, and books all around. For family with kids that is where they can do their homework with no distractions (no they don’t need their iPads to read and study their assignments and homework so they can leave the tablets in their room).

I break away at least for a few times everyday and always make it a habit to get out and do something physical otherwise you will get sucked in to all the apps and games and “things you gotta know now” mentality and you will realize it will never end. So take a break, go for ice cream or a walk and enjoy the physical stuff.

In all the results they found that 43% never unplug from technology, only 17% unplug once a year, 4% once a month, 6% once a week, 10% a few times a week, and 20% daily. It is important to understand here that the numbers for each category varied so the percentage rates vary and each person was allowed to use their own definition of unplugging to answer the survey questions.

All in all, it is getting harder and harder to unplug, especially if you work in the entertainment industry, technology industry, journalism, and service industry. Now that we even have electronic fabric that can alert you when you have a txt or voice message, it is becoming impossible to get out of the way from anything tech. Even our TVs are becoming smart by connecting to the internet and now that we have appliances that can connect to our phones we are always plugged in making it harder to unplug.

News Articles

Unplugged: 60% of US Almost Never Are

Data Point: Lot of people who say they never unplug

These charts show where people lived before in the US

These amazing charts were created to show where people came from before they moved to the state where they live now. In each state you can see the trail of where majority of the people came from before they moved there.

These charts show how the heritage and racial profile of each state was created over a period of time. They provide evidence to show where people are most likely to come from and why that might be. Events in history, natural events in nature, and even economic conditions cause changes in where people live. Many times people go and live near those they know such as extended family members and some go where the jobs are located.

The nice thing about these charts is that they are interactive and will tell you more about the makeup of each state at any given time since 1900. If you study them carefully and view the states that are next to each one as a group you begin to see migration patterns in how people move around the country. This is interesting to know for many reasons but, depending on how well one knows the history of events taking place in their state and the country you also see the bigger picture of why people might move around.

Check out these charts here

If you are interested in learning more about census data you can visit the IPUMS website and see other types of data sets and charts they have created.