How I Long For Friday

Friday, oh Friday!

It’s also Follow Friday on Twitter, so any love would be appreciated – @nivoda.
After a week that has just flashed before my eyes, I am sitting at my desk at work, perhaps an hour before home time and I am thinking to myself, I absolutely love this. And while I do still believe more strongly than ever that I was made to do it on my own, be an entrepreneur, this experience is without a doubt the best preparation I could have possibly asked for.
Lessons learned in just a week include:
– the importance of decentralisation
– Pancake Fridays make people happy
– Music in the office is good
– Twitter is distracting, yes, it decreases productivity, no! I’ve spent quite a bit of time on it, but by doing so I came across a social media event I attended, found some great reports and research for my audit and am well on my way to changing the way my company communicates, internally and with clients.
– people are the business, not the entrepreneur – no ‘i’ in team
Bring on the weekend, bring on the good times, but then when its all over, bring on the new challenges.
As a final note, Inception rocked… bring on the lucid dreaming!

Erasmus Entrepreneurs

I recently came across a very interesting opportunity, which I recommend all 3rd year student who are finishing with their studies (for now), should have a look at.

All around me my friends are struggling to find a job. I remember thinking, I want to be an entrepreneur, despite all the risks associated with taking on this career. These days, looking at how many people lost their jobs in the world of investment banking (and in many other industries as well), I think to myself, being self-employed, now there’s one job you can never get made redundant from.

So here is an opportunity which allows you to travel, be entrepreneurial and get paid to learn from other entrepreneurs. The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Programme allows you to go to another country in Europe for a period of your choice (1-6 months) to work alongside (not FOR) another entrepreneur who is an industry you are interested in. While doing this the programme pays you a maintenance grant of up to 1,100 euros – not an enormous amount of money, but you’ll have time to work a part time job as you won’t be at the office 9-5.

I am considering applying to this programme for the summer months of 2010 – thinking of the experience as a paid-internship in a country of MY choice, to learn how to be a successful businessman – BRILLIANT!

Free Marketing – Things you USUALLY have to pay for

If you are a small company or you plan to start your own business soon, you will be faced with the dilemma of costs, while having no initial revenue. If you have a great deal of starting capital this might not be your main concern, but if you don’t, even the best product without sufficient resources dedicated to marketing, will never sell.

So that was pretty much my initial hurdle. What did I do? Well I found ways to market or promote my company and its services by spending nothing (in some cases) or as little as possible. 10 years ago you might not have been able to do this, but because so many on-line companies are now using the “Freemium Business Model” it is possible today.

Before I list some of my invaluable, free (or very cheap) marketing tools, I want to mention that some of them may no longer be free, or are no longer available. The purpose of this post it to create awareness of the various ways you can market your products without spending a fortune. It will then be up to you to begin searching for these tools and establishing a portfolio which you will update with new ones and remove the ones which become expensive or are no longer available. Some things that sound too good to be true do exist but they do not last forever.

So here goes:

  1. Free Website: Create your website using Yola (free), pay GoDaddy £5 to register your .com domain (using a promo code for 25% off – Google search), host for free using Yola and get free e-mail for your domain (as in: using Google ApsTOTAL COST of WEBSITE & EMAIL: £5/year
  2. Search Engine Marketing: Use the Thirty Day Challenge (Free) to get to the top of Google for your market organically, but in the mean time get yourself some free Google AdWords and Yahoo credit (usually around £30-£50 worth) to drive traffic through to your site – just search for them on Google… there are loads out there – TOTAL COST of SEO: £0
  3. Printed Materials: Sign up to VistaPrint‘s newsletter. They send out one every day or so that tells you: “You have been selected to win, blah blah blah“. In most e-mails you see links to claim your free business cards (250), free flyers (50), free brochures, letterheads, a banner, t-shirts, etc etc etc. All you pay for is delivery so do all of the above in one go and it will save you a fortune. Use this, it is AWESOME! TOTAL COST of PRINTING: £8
  4. Facebook Marketing: In their attempt to compete with Google and Yahoo, Facebook is giving out loads of coupon codes to get your started on using their advertising platform, which is different to all the others because you can narrow down the people you want to reach using: gender, city, interests, age, relationship status etc. Sign up to the Visa Business Network before the 15th of October and you’ll get $100 of Facebook advertising credit to mess around with. Don’t forget to make a Group AND a Page for your product/service. A Group so you can message your members, a Page because it gets indexed by Google and comes up in search results. TOTAL COST of FACEBOOK ADVERTISING: £0

Total cost of initial marketing campaign: £13.

There are loads of ideas out there, but I think I have covered the basics for now. If anyone has any other free tools, share them with us.