How to: ‘Fire’ Your Bad Clients, Make More Money and Restore Your Sanity

Monday, November 5, 2007 at 2:37pm by Site Administrator

Clients are the bread and butter of any business. Without them, your business simply wouldn’t exist. So it can be hard for many business owners to think about sending clients away, especially those just starting out. But it’s inevitable that you’ll have a client that taxes both your resources and your personal sanity to the point where it becomes necessary to let them go. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy to send business away. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to cut a client loose. It’s not always easy, but it will leave you with more time to concentrate on clients that are easier to deal with and more profitable.

Types of Bad Clients

Bad clients come in many flavors, but these are some of the most common offenders. If you’ve got one of these on your client list, consider showing them the door.

  • The Complainer: Don’t expect to ever do anything right for this type of client. Even if you deliver under budget and sooner than expected, they will still be disappointed for a reason they just can’t seem to communicate to you.
  • The Something for Nothing: These types of clients ignore the old adage and try to get as much out of you as they can for as little as possible. Often, they’ll get your initial estimate and expect the cost not to increase when they increase the size or duration of the project or keep adding on "little" things.
  • The Time Waster: Expect your time to mean little to these kinds of clients. They’ll be hard to get in meetings and when you finally get ahold of them, they won’t listen to what you’re saying. They’ll run you around with changes, pointless meetings, and time wasted waiting, and then complain how much they’re paying you.
  • The Aggressor: This type of client is the hardest to work with and the scariest to get rid of. They are often verbally abusive and threaten to sue for the slightest reason. Be especially careful when unloading these as they have particularly short fuses.
  • The Know-It-All: The know-it-all is sure that he or she knows how to do your job just as well as you do because they have a basic familiarity with the programs you use or read a book on the subject. What they don’t realize is that your experience and expert knowledge are really what they’re paying for. Nonetheless, they’ll question your every move and drive you crazy.
  • The Boundary Crosser: This type of client will ask you for your home phone numbers "for emergencies" and then call you on weekends and after hours just to check in. This kind of client taxes your personal life heavily.

How to Fire Them

Whether you have a client that fits one of these profiles or an entirely different breed altogether, when the time comes to part ways, do you know how you’ll go about doing it? Here are some tips on making the process as painless as possible.

  • Do it in writing. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and raised emotions. It will also give you a written record of your interactions with the client if you should need it to back you up later.
  • Make sure you get paid prior to terminating your relationship. You’re asking for trouble by firing a client who still hasn’t paid you, even though sometimes this may be the reason that you are firing them. As illegal and unprofessional as it may be, a jilted client may withhold payment for your services as retribution for letting them go.
  • Fulfill any remaining contractual obligations to your clients if it is at all possible or you may find yourself subject to the consequences of breaking that contract. If this is the case, you might want to bring in a lawyer to tell you your best options. Remember, you want to do the work you’ve promised to do, as your reputation is still at stake.
  • When letting clients go, be honest but not hostile or offensive. If you can’t think of any way to put your reasons for parting ways nicely, then tell them your business is changing directions or that you just don’t think you can complete their project in the manner or timeframe they hoped.
  • Don’t just leave your clients high and dry after you’ve let them go. They may not have treated you with respect, but that doesn’t mean you should return the favor. Recommend another business, preferably a competitor, to take the project instead.
  • If nothing else seems to work, jack up your prices. Either they’ll part ways with you themselves or the pain of working for them will be lessened by your increased paycheck.

While it might be difficult both mentally and financially to fire a client, in the long run you’ll be doing your business and yourself a favor. You shouldn’t let go of every client that is difficult, but if you’re hitting the brink with a client, it’s time to make a change. In reality, many clients that take up hours of your time are costing you more than they’re bringing in. By cutting these clients loose, you’ll have more time and energy to concentrate on bringing in new, more profitable business, and that’s really what business is all about.

10 Ways a Ron Paul Presidency Would Help Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 1:50pm by Site Administrator

We’re almost exactly one year away from the actual 2008 presidential election, and candidates on all sides are gearing up for another intense, whirlwind season of campaigning and fundraising that will hopefully be rewarded with a spot in the White House. Americans are also stepping up to the plate, paying more attention to the candidates and agonizing which ones affect their lives the most. Entrepreneurs, for example, are looking for a president who will allow them optimum freedom to conduct their businesses the way they know best.

Republican candidate Ron Paul has been toted as the conservative Constitutionalist, a former doctor and longtime Congressman whose purist ideals have led him to pledge a scaled-back presence of the Federal government if he is elected president. How would this philosophy help entrepreneurs? While we’re not officially endorsing Dr. Ron Paul for president, we think these 10 issues would give entrepreneurs and their businesses an extra boost. Read on to find out how.

  1. Ron Paul’s Tax Plan: One of Ron Paul’s most appealing points is his proposed tax plan. He opposes raising taxes and even plans to abolish the individual income tax and the federal income tax. Besides eliminating the debate over how much people in varying economic levels must pay in taxes, most Americans would obviously find themselves with a significant higher salary each year. With the extra cash flow, entrepreneurs would also have the ability to hire more employees, increase company spending on supplies, technology, and other resources, and improve their businesses overall.
  2. Social Security for Americans Only Act: Ron Pauls’ Social Security revolution is one practice that would allow him to reduce taxes. According to Dr. Paul, "today['s]…system is broke and broken." Instead of pumping more American dollars into the Social Security system, Dr. Paul plans to limit the benefits given to Americans only, and not illegal aliens. This plan saves Americans money by decreasing the amount of dollars spent on Social Security benefits as a whole. In addition, Dr. Paul also intends to make Social Security optional for workers by "cut[ting] payroll taxes and" allowing them "the opportunity to seek better returns in the private market." As payroll taxes are cut, employers no longer have to match a portion of the taxes taken out of each of their employees’ paychecks.
  3. New Health Plan: In an effort to decrease government spending, Dr. Paul proposes a new health plan that eliminates many federal government-sponsored programs and plans like universal health care. As the "national leader in preserving Health Freedom," Dr. Paul promotes a weaker FDA and the individiual’s right to choose what vitamins and foods he or she consumes. If the government stops spending Americans’ money on health care programs, entrepreneurs would notice a hefty salary increase.
  4. Support of Hard Money: Inflation could very well be every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. Business owners are forced to raise prices on all of their products as a result of paying more for basic goods and supplies, and consumers quake at the thought of overspending and instead keep their wallets tightly shut. To combat inflation, Ron Paul supports the idea of hard money, or money backed by gold and silver. If the United States operated on a hard money system, the Federal Reserve wouldn’t be able to print extra money, and Ron Paul beleives that inflation would disappear.
  5. Against the Iraq War: Ron Paul is the only 2008 Republican candidate who voted against the war in Iraq. As an anti-interventionist, Dr. Paul would like to see the U.S. begin pulling out of Iraq and cut military spending. Entrepreneurs would enjoy improved relations with overseas business partners and contacts, debatedly lower gas prices that can dominate a small business’ budget, and slighter taxes that would otherwise be used to support the war.
  6. Believes in Free Trade: A free trading system would benefit entrepreneurs immensely. Business owners would be able to maintain contacts, persue trades, maximize profits and access capital resources without interference from the government, which could impose tariffs, boycotts, or other regulations.
  7. Opposes Welfare for Illegal Aliens: Just as Ron Paul plans to eliminate Social Security benefits for illegal aliens, he hopes to save Americans money by abolishing welfare benefits for illegal aliens. Dr. Paul believes in protecting Americans first and foremost, including financially. Limiting government-sponsored welfare programs cuts government spending, thus saving both struggling and booming businesses money.
  8. Plan to Minimize the Role of the Federal Government: Ron Paul believes that states are more qualified and better-equipped to deal with supposedly localized issues like education and health care than the federal government. In addition to cutbacks in social funding, Paul also supports the liquidation of organizations like the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security in order to drastically decrease spending and put more money into other, more deserving projects and into the pockets of American citizens.
  9. Supports a Free Internet: If there’s one technological resource that entrepreneurs value above all others, it’s probably the Internet. The Internet makes fundraising, networking, and reaching out to new customers excruciatingly easy, and Ron Paul recognizes its necessity. Dr. Paul’s own campaign has benefited from the Internet, and in an interview with PBS‘ The News Hour, he discusses how he has reached out to millions of younger voters through MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and other member-driven sites. Perhaps his profitable experiences have led him to support the idea of a free Internet, an unregulated, uniterrupted Web community of individuals who socialize, conduct business, and earn their livelihood online.
  10. Privacy and Personal Liberty: Ron Paul’s devotionto privacy and personal liberty makes him a popular candidate among entrepreneurs. He believes that business owners deserve a reasonable allocation of privacy as they work with customers, vendors, investors, and banks to support their business endeavors.

No matter which candidate you end up supporting in the coming months, entrepreneurs have a difficult decision to make. With threats of inflation, war with Iran, and an overall economic slowdown, these 10 points are worth considering.

Multitasking for the Entrepreneur: 9 Steps

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

There’s been a debate recently about whether multitasking is a good thing or not. Some “experts” say it’s not good that teens and pre-teens multitask. (I.e., those that have six Internet Messaging sessions going simultaneously, along with a cell phone call, all while doing their homework.) For adults, though, sometimes it’s the only way to get things done, especially for work.

Multitasking is not about doing multiple things at the same time, but rather doing them simultaneously. That is, you initiate more than one task and, with careful preparation beforehand, alternate between them at appropriate milestones.

Effective entrepreneurs are multi-taskers and critical thinkers; they think outside the proverbial box and know how to efficiently juggle multiple tasks.

Multitasking does not work for all types of tasks Performing multiple physical tasks, including chatting with six friends at once, is often counterproductive and mentally exhausting – even if you don’t realize it consciously.

Multitasking works best if you have tasks you can delegate or computer resources. The essence of multitasking is that you start a task, and while it’s being completed by a computer or another person, you start another task. You will check back on Task #1 when you have a break in Task #2 – or earlier if the first task has high priority.

Here are the steps I usually apply, usually mentally:

  1. Enumerate all tasks to be completed between now and a given date.
  2. Break down each task into manageable subtasks. This is crucial, as you will interleave subtasks. Without this, there is no efficient multitasking.
  3. Determine if any tasks are bottleneck points. That is, if other tasks are reliant on them. These are the tasks that need to be initiated early.
  4. Map out sub-task relationships if you like, so that you have a visual representation of subtask priority and relationships.
  5. Initiate any tasks that will be bottlenecks. Put priority on them, start them first.
  6. Pick the highest priority task and start its first subtask, if any. Delegate it if necessary/ possible, once initiated. Or start it running in software mode.
  7. Move to the next most important task and initiate its first subtask.
  8. Now, either go back task 1 or move on to task 3. What you do depends on task/ subtask priorities and whether you are delegating or doing the actual work yourself.
  9. Repeat until all tasks are complete. Keep in mind that this may take a single day, several days, or weeks. It really depends on the actualy work and your resources.

A caution: multitasking works best for non-physical tasks. Anything that’s dangerous or otherwise requires constant human monitoring should not be multitasked. Of course, computer-related tasks improve your chances of success.

BlackBerry on Crack: 25 Tools to Supercharge Your Lifeline

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 2:18pm by Site Administrator

The BlackBerry is a useful tool on its own, but have you ever wondered if it’s possible to make it even more effective? If so, you’re not the only one. There are a number of tools designed to take your BlackBerry’s capabilities even farther, and we’ve listed some of the best here.

Documents

BlackBerries are great for communication, but still have a ways to go in terms of mobile office work. Use these tools to get up to speed with reports, documents, and other mobile office gems.

  1. Cognos 8 Go! Mobile: With Cognos 8, users can access business intelligence information on the go. It’s designed for groups that need to distribute reports to users on mobile devices, so it operates with remote installation and administration.
  2. RepliGo: View documents in a quality that rivals your desktop computer with RepliGo. Features include the ability to zoom in to see everything as well as online document storage. With integrated communications like email, fax, and printing, you can share documents easily. You’ll also be able to take advantage of bookmarks, hyperlinks, and tags for quick access.
  3. MicroStrategy Mobile: Don’t bother reformatting business reports to view them on your Blackberry. Use MicroStrategy to view them without having to adjust their size. You can set your own preferences for viewing, and the program integrates with existing applications like email, text, and phone.

Search & Navigation

If you’re a heavy traveler, you probably want more navigation and local search than the BlackBerry currently offers. Stay on top of directions, restaurants, and traffic using these tools.

  1. Spot: This software from Skylab Mobilesystems offers GPS on the BlackBerry. Features include tracklogs, moving map navigation, waypoints, integrated GPS, Bluetooth, and more.
  2. Beyond411: Use Beyond411 for business listings and GPS search from your BlackBerry. You’ll get instant access to yellow and white pages, address book integration, local prices, search, and more.
  3. Windows Live Search Mobile: BlackBerry users can find local information, navigation with turn-by-turn directions, traffic information, and Internet search with Windows Live Search Mobile. Just point your BlackBerry’s browser to wls.live.com to download this useful tool.
  4. Google Maps Mobile: Combine Google Maps with your BlackBerry on a corporate BlackBerry Enterprise Server, or just on your own. You can get live traffic updates, business locations, local listings, and interactive maps.

Conversion

Although the BlackBerry is a great tool for the office, it’s not always easy to get information back and forth from your device to your computer. These two tools make it a breeze to do just that.

  1. ABC Amber BlackBerry Convertor: Get files out of your device and onto your computer using this handy convertor. It takes contacts, emails, calendar events, phone call logs, and lots of other items, then converts them into nearly any type of file you want, including HTML, PDF, TXT and DOC. You can even convert directly to Microsoft Outlook.
  2. BeamBerry: Have you gotten an email with an attachment your BlackBerry can’t read? Use BeamBerry to make it compatible. With this software, you can view document attachments in formats like PDF, Word, Power Point, and Rich Text.

Organization

Take your mobile scheduling and organization to a whole new level with these tools.

  1. Backpack Mobile: 37signals’ Backpack app is available on the BlackBerry. This web-based software makes it easy to plan, share, and remind yourself of tasks. Dave Mabe’s BlackBerry Hacks book even has a chapter on "Using Backpace as Your Mobile Workspace."
  2. Mobylo! MultiAlarm: Take your BlackBerry’s alarm functionality to its limit with this app. You can use Mobylo! to set multiple alarms with rules, appointments, and more. It offers holiday alarm blackouts, and loads of different ringtone options.

Money

Whether you’re in the office or not, your finances still need to be managed. These tools make it convenient to stay on top of your money.

  1. Necho Expense BlackBerry Edition: BlackBerry users can utilize Necho Expense to create expense reports, review transactions, add out of pocket transactions, and upload reports for review.
  2. StockView: Staying on top of stocks while you’re on the go can be difficult, but with StockView, you can stay connected to the latest stock prices. This free stock viewer sends up to date stock prices to your BlackBerry.

Collaboration & Communication

Although the BlackBerry is already a great communication tool, these resources take it a step beyond, offering translation, remote access, cheap calls, and more.

  1. BlackBerry Unite!: Groups of up to five users can share collaboration and remote access tools on their BlackBerries with BlackBerry Unite! It offers shared calendars, documents, and more. You can even remotely erase information in case a handset is stolen, and all data is backed up automatically to a desktop PC.
  2. Translator+: Get this multi-translation tool on your BlackBerry to translate words and phrases. You can integrate it with BlackBerry email and save translations to your memory. This software supports more than 10 popular languages.
  3. IM+: Stay connected to instant messaging while you’re on the go using IM+. You’ll get instant messaging on AIM, MSN, iChat, Yahoo!, ICQ, MySpace and more with this software. IM+ gives you several accounts in just this one app.
  4. iSkoot: If you make a lot of expensive international calls, check out iSkoot. This BlackBerry Skype client makes it easy to send and receive Skype calls on your BlackBerry handset, so you can use this service instead of racking up huge bills.
  5. Empower HTML Mail Viewer: If you prefer HTML email to the BlackBerry’s stripped down view, check out this viewer. It offers true to form HTML emails with images, links, and graphics.

Security & Privacy

Whether you want to secure your passwords or just keep annoying phone calls out of your hair, these tools can make it happen.

  1. Secure Password Manager: Keep all of your passwords, credit card numbers, registration codes, and PINs handy with Secure Password Manager. You can use it to store this important data as well as generate random passwords that are hard for hackers to guess. With 256-bit Blowfish encryption, you can be sure that your data is safe, too.
  2. Black & Whitelist: If you have trouble with harassing phone calls, you can set up a black and whitelist on your BlackBerry to keep annoying callers at bay. This app detects incoming calls and rejects anyone who is blacklisted. You have the option to only accept calls from your address book for ultimate privacy.

Miscellaneous

Find even more helpful tools for your Blackberry in this section.

  1. BlackBerryTools: This open source suite of tools offers weather, a start page, backlight control, spell checking, and lots of other useful functions.
  2. Mobile Desktop: How would you like to access your desktop PC from your BlackBerry? With this piece of software, you can. Use Mobile Desktop to get wireless access to your desktop and applications, and you’ll never have to worry about being chained to your desk again.
  3. digby: Order products and services online directly from your BlackBerry using digby. This tool is great for finding information on the fly. For example, if you just got a book recommendation from a friend, you can check it out right away without having to wait to get online at home or in the office. They have loads of shops, like Office Max, Barnes and Noble, and even FTD and Godiva for last-minute romantic gifts.
  4. BBTetris: Have fun with the ever-popular puzzle game Tetris, made available for BlackBerry devices.
  5. Mobile SSH: Using Rove Mobile’s Mobile SSH, you can solve server problems remotely. It’s a client-side application, so you don’t have to worry about installing agents or server-side components.

The Headhunting Toolbox: 50 Freebie Tools to Find Your Next All-Star Employee

Monday, October 29, 2007 at 1:35pm by Site Administrator

The job market isn’t just tough on would-be employees: headhunters and recruiters must also work hard to promote their clients’ companies, weed through hundreds of applicants and online job sites, and face rejection during the fight to recruit (and keep) the most loyal, dependent, and capable job candidates. In order to help you locate all-start employees, we’ve come up with this list of 50 freebie tools and resources that are frequented by prime job searchers. Online Job Boards

Visit these online job sites to search for reputable applicants, or to post a job notification and let them come to you.

  1. Google Base: This widely popular site will grant you access to well-qualified job searchers. You can choose to upload job descriptions one by one or as an entire spreadsheet file.
  2. Simply Hired: Simply Hired connects to employer websites to provide job seekers with new opportunities.
  3. Fuuze.com: Fuuze.com allows employers to post an unlimited number of jobs on their site for free. Job postings will appear for up to 60 days.
  4. Post a Job USA: Post a Job USA narrows down your search by linking your post with job seekers who are looking for a job in your state.
  5. The Job Spider: Search the resume database or post a job for millions of job seekers to see. This site also allows employers to edit and delete job posts whenever they want.
  6. LuckyDogJobs: Post your jobs and search resumes for free on LuckyDogJobs.com.
  7. DegreedJobs.com: This site connects recruiters with only the job searchers that hold degrees. Post as many jobs as you want for free.
  8. Niche Classifieds: Job postings on this site’s new job boards are totally free. Search by industry to get more information.
  9. Post Job Free: This job board is still relatively new, it’s definitely worth checking out. Send them your job notification, and they’ll post it on several different job sites at no charge.
  10. Hire Fire: Job seekers are attracted to this site because of its custom-designed search options. Search the resume database or post, edit and delete your company’s job opportunities.
  11. WorkTree.com: Check out the Recruiter Zone on WorkTree.com to create a profile and obtain advertising benefits, job search tools, and access to resumes that are e-mailed directly to your inbox.

Tools for Finding Freelancers

Hiring freelancers and contractors is becoming more and more popular among employers. Consider these job sites aimed at freelancers to save your company from spending extra money in overhead. Companies can also start off an employee as a freelancer, and then decide to hire him or her as a full-time employee if they prove to be compatible.

  1. All Freelance: All Freelance is one of the most popular employment resources among freelancers. Post a job on this site for free, and instantly find yourself connected with thousands of professionals.
  2. Workaholics4Hire.com: This site connects employers with highly professional, pre-screened freelancers. Payment for the job first goes through Workaholics4Hire to ensure completion, security, and satisfaction.
  3. FreelanceSwitch: Post jobs for free on this all-inclusive freelancer resource site. Categories include: design/illustration, writing/blogging, programming, and more.
  4. Go Freelance: GoFreelancer is known on the Web as "the freelance work exchange." Post jobs for free and read articles about the freelancing industry to understand where your future emplyoees are coming from.
  5. Guru.com: Guru.com, "The world’s largest online marketplace for freelance talent," is the place to find capable freelance professionals. Choose to post a job listing or to conduct your own search to find the perfect candidate.
  6. Freelance BBS: Browse through the resumes of qualified freelancers or post contract jobs on Freelance BBS free of charge.
  7. Media Bistro: Search the freelance marketplace for serious individuals who want to work with you.

Networking

Sometimes finding your next employee is as easy as hiring someone you already know. Start networking to branch out and meet new contacts who can help you with your search by recommending candidates to your office.

  1. ecademy: ecademy is a popular networking site for "connecting business people" all over the world. Logging in as a Basic Member is free.
  2. Company of Friends: This business network is sponsored by Fast Company magazine. Connect with thousands of other business people to "collaborate, solve problems, and develop skills."
  3. hi5: Meet new people when you create a profile on hi5. Search new college grads to attract applicants with degrees, advertise your company’s perks and benefits on your profile, or just link up with other headhunters to share advice.
  4. MyWorkster: Employers are allowed to sign up separately from students and alumni to distinguish themselves as in-demand recruiters. Network with potential employees or custom create job postings in which you "can target geographic demographics, specific colleges, and or industry preferences."
  5. Meetup: Organize job fairs, mixers, or industry meetings when you network with the other members of Meetup.
  6. PowerMingle.com: With the help of PowerMingle.com, you can "extend your professional network" by meeting new contacts and organizing events and conferences.
  7. Networking for Professionals: Networking for Professionals is a large, well-respected networking community aimed at connecting business people and strengthening their professional relationships. Check here to find out if you are eligible for a free membership offer.
  8. Ziggs: Create and nurture business relationships with the help of Ziggs, a "one-stop source for creating and managing your online brand" or company. Membership is free.
  9. Ryze: The award-winning business networking site Ryze allows you to set up a member homepage, meet other recruiters and potential candidates, and solidify important deals.
  10. LinkedIn: Strict privacy settings ensure that your contacts and personal information are only shared with your friends. Sign up for a free account in order to post jobs or just meet other professionals in your industry.
  11. YorZ: Post job postings for free, accessible only to serious, professional YorZ members.
  12. Net Party: Want to meet the newest crop of talented young professionals? Find out about Net Party’s happy hour and networking events in your city.

Other Tools

Find employees, organize applications, and manage your client contacts with these useful tools.

  1. The Recruiter’s Toolkit: This comprehensive toolkit comes with lots of valuable tips for finding employees, researching the company you’re headhunting for, and deciphering resumes.
  2. 11 Web-based Project Management, Collaboration and Communication Tools: Read this article for more easy tools and tips for managing your files and contacts online.
  3. CareerBuilder.com for Employers: This resource is full of articles and ideas for helping you find the best employees. Browse titles like "9 Secrets to Hiring Seasonal Workers" or check out fast facts that shed light on the most current job market trends.
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Access important employment information supplied by the U.S. Department of Labor, like the Compensation and Working Conditions Online and the Occupational Outlook Quarterly.
  5. Salary Calculator: In order to remain competitive in today’s recuriting industry, you have to be aware of what job candidates expect to make. They’ll overlook your post if your offer isn’t at least at the average scale.
  6. National Association of Colleges and Employers: Download free articles and statistics that will help you pinpoint which students and colleges you need to meet with.
  7. Recruiters Network: This Web site is the official "association for Internet recruiting." Meet new contacts on the recruiting forums, get tips for reaching more candidates, and search resumes.
  8. The Riley Guide: Enter the recuriters and employers section to find free tools and guides for finding the best employees.
  9. HR.BLR.com: Start a free trial to access gret recruitment tools like calculators, job description examples, and others.
  10. Recruiters Online Network: Post jobs, find support, and connect with future clients on the Recruiters Online Network.

News and Information

Check out these Web sites, blogs and other resources for tips on how to better your headhunting skills by staying on top of all the news and trends in the recruiting industry.

  1. Job Board Reviews: This excellent Web site has a section just for employers, where you can access the latest in industry news.
  2. Ask The Headhunter: This popular headhunting Web site includes great articles like "Top Ten Stupid Hiring Mistakes," that will help guide you through the recruiting process.
  3. Freelance Jobs News: This Web site posts articles about the changing landscape of freelance work. Educate yourself about new recruitment trends and what freelancers now expect from their future employers.
  4. The Virtual Handshake: Visit the official Web site for The Virtual Handshake to find out how you can access a free copy of this guide to business networking.
  5. Interview with a Headhunter: Take the advice that headhunter Nick A. Corcodilos offers in this interview from the Fast Company Web site to hone your recruiting and interviewing skills.
  6. RecruiterTools.com: The training tips and recruiting advice on Bill Radin’s Web site include articles on the purpose of recruiters, preparing for interviews, and much more. Plus, they’re all free!
  7. Hiring Online? 5 Tips for Maximum Reach: Scroll down to read this summary of innovative ways to advertise jobs online.
  8. Recruiter.com: Read about industry news, recruiting and headhunting training opportunities, and more.
  9. HR.com: While headhunters don’t often communicate with a company’s human resources department frequently, this site offers valuable tips and advice especially for recruiters. Use the free forums to swap stories and make new contacts.
  10. Interbiznet.com: Browse through blog postings and articles to find information about the electronic recruiting industry. Special reports include "Top Job Site Rankings," "Demographic Surprises Report," and "Risks & Benefits of Recruiting Blogs."

Arming yourself with the right tools will help you stand apart from other recruiters and employers who are all vying for the attention of qualified job candidates. These 50 freebies will help you understand what job seekers expect from their potential employers, giving you an added edge in the already competitive market.

Tips for Digital Entrepreneurs: Monetizing Your Website

Friday, October 26, 2007 at 10:12pm by Site Administrator

If you blog as part of your business, you might have heard that Google hit a lot of websites hard on their PR (PageRank) for yet undisclosed reasons. The net result is that a number of formerly high-PR sites now are in jeopardy of losing money from revenues of selling text links in their navigation bars.

However, despite being caught up in it myself, I’ve always believed that anyone who only blogs and hopes to make money from ads is deceiving themselves. Few people will earn a living purely from running their own blog, but might do so from freelancing. And there are the alternatives to monetizing your site, if you do not have a traditional business – as Chris Garrett points out at Blog Herald. This includes, of course, selling your services online and/or selling affiliate products.

If you have skills that can be taught, or are generally a subject matter expert, you should seriously consider building a paid-membership subscription site. You offer the free material on your blog, but offer very targeted lessons (articles, ebooks, audio, video/ screencasts) to paid members only.

As Brian Clark of Copyblogger points out in his free report at Teaching Sells, “information wants to be valuable.” Believe me, not everyone appreciates free content, and if you are releasing your best for free, you are diluting its value by not limiting its exclusivity.

What’s more, you do not need to convert thousands of paying members to make the effort worth your while. One hundred loyal members at $50/mth is $5K/mth, or [email protected]$30 is $6K/mth. And when you want to expand, if you offer a commission to existing members to promote your service, everyone wins. On top the regular monthly offering, you can produce other content in various formats, which members can choose to pay for.

If you offer targeted content to the people who actually want it, you might very likely build a profitable business out of it – well beyond five or six thousand dollars in revenue per month.

Subscription content formats to consider:

  1. E-newsletters with both summaries of articles and fresh content. Though this newsletter would be aimed at non-paying subscribers, in order to entice them.
  2. Articles.
  3. Ebooks.
  4. Audio/ podcasts.
  5. Live video and screencasts.

In addition to all this, you can offer paid consulting, to be conducted through VoIP software such as Skype. Since Skype and PayPal are owned by eBay, they’ve made it easy for someone to pay from PayPal within Skype.

Hidden Gems: The 100 .edu sites every Entrepreneur Should Read

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 11:25am by Site Administrator

Whether you’re an ivy-leaguer or a high school dropout, chances are you still have quite a bit to learn from others. Why not learn from the people who do learning best? Check out these .edu blogs and other informative sites for strategies, theory, and concrete resources for building and growing your business.

Marketing

Marketing may be one of the many things you try to squeeze into your business, but for the people behind these sites, this is all they do. Take advantage of their ability to specialize and use their knowledge to better market your business.

  1. Center for Customer Insight & Marketing Solutions: This center at the University of Texas focuses on customer-driven business practices and marketing.
  2. Journal of Consumer Research: Learn more about consumers with this journal.
  3. Marketing Visions & Business Software Solutions Blog: Get an academic perspective on Internet marketing here.
  4. Advertising World: Get linked up with lots of marketing services and ideas in this huge directory from the University of Texas.
  5. Marketing Weblog: Learn about building brands, marketing over Second Life, and more on this blog from Instituto de Impresa.
  6. Research Design and Statistics: Learn about psychology, behavioral economics, and decision making in this blog by Craig Marker.

Innovation

Inside every great entrepreneur is an inventor, constantly thinking of new and exciting ways to solve problems and create new things. These sites support the inventor inside, offering encouragement, resources, and a whole lot more.

  1. Invention Dimension: Invention Dimension, a part of the Lemelson-MIT Program, is full of inventor profiles and resources for innovative entrepreneurs.
  2. The Art of the New: The Art of the New encourages and shares innovative thinking.
  3. Innovation: Jim Moore takes a look at innovation, intellectual property, economics, and more.
  4. Government Innovators Network: Check out this network if you plan to do contract work with the government.
  5. Invention Master Resource List: This resource list from Berkeley is full of links for innovative entrepreneurs.
  6. Center for Innovation in Product Development: This center at MIT promotes innovative products, offering resources from concept to market launch.
  7. The Patriot Entrepreneur: On this blog, you’ll get news about innovation at George Mason University and beyond.
  8. MIT Innovation Club Blog: Read this blog to learn about some of the smart innovations MIT students and alumni have created.
  9. National Technology Transfer Center: NTTC offers assistance to businesses with innovative ideas.
  10. The Lemelson Center: The Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian Institute promotes the study of invention and innovation.

Industries

Educational resources can sometimes be frustrating because they tend to focus on theory, while you’re looking for concrete ideas. Check out these blogs for some specialization in a few industries.

  1. Peter Gordon’s Blog: Find out what this USC professor thinks about the economy and real estate development.
  2. Notes on Design: Learn about design from both academics and professionals on this blog.
  3. The View from Here: The Business of Nascar: Read this blog to understand how business works in a place you might not think of.
  4. The Transportationist: David Levin writes about transportation and the economy.

International Business

In today’s global economy, entrepreneurs must be familiar with the ideas of international business. Learn about law, events, and more issues in international business with these sites.

  1. CIBER: CIBER centers for international business offer events, online resources, publications and more.
  2. Exploring International Law: Read this blog to consider how law and politics may affect international business.
  3. Global Edge Resource Desk: Visit this site for a collection of resources that are useful for international business.
  4. International Business Resource Connection: Check out this site from the University of Kansas, and you’ll find loads of helpful resources for international business.

Knowledge & Information

At the root of every institution of learning is information. These libraries, defenders of free knowledge, and business training sites have a lot of information to offer entrepreneurs.

  1. Information Law Possum: Daniel Haeusermann blogs about copyright, privacy, and more issues in information law.
  2. Knowledge Economy: Learn about the way knowledge is becoming more valuable in this blog.
  3. BizBrary: Get information about business news and more from this business librarian.
  4. Collectanea: Learn about the latest in copyright on Collectanea.
  5. Business Blog: Learn how to better research for business with this library blog.
  6. e3 Information Overload: Librarian Brian Gray discusses strategies for taming the beast of excessive information.
  7. Open Access News: Learn about the movement to make information free and available online on this blog.
  8. InfoMatters: Andrew Dillon asks questions like, "Why do I have to pay for bundled cable rather than just the channels I actually watch?"
  9. Info/Law: Info/Law blogs about the way that law evolves around the commodity of information.
  10. Business News and Resources at the Sterne Library: Stay up to date on business news and resources with this blog from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  11. Jackson Blog: Stanford’s Jackson Library has a blog that shares topics in business ethics, news, and lots more.
  12. Law and Information: Check out Urs Gasser’s blog to learn about the role of law in information.
  13. IESE Insight: IESE is all about know-how and business knowledge.

Accounting

Accounting may not be your favorite part of doing business, but managing money is essential to your success. Learn about accounting behaviors, tax systems, and monetary warning signs on these sites.

  1. Behavioral Research in Accounting: This resource is full of journal issues about behavior in accounting.
  2. World Tax Database: Visit this tax database for historical data on tax systems worldwide.
  3. Finance Weblog: Read about the subprime crisis, financial markets, and more on this blog.
  4. Forensic Investing Red Flags: Check out these warning signs to make sure you’re handling money responsibly and not scaring off investors.

Law

As a business owner, you can’t afford to ignore legal issues. Consider business law and lots more with these blogs.

  1. Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Blog: Learn about corporate governance from faculty, fellows and board members at Harvard’s Program on Corporate Governance.
  2. Truth on the Market: These law professors write about business law, economics, and lots more.
  3. This Day at Law: Learn about historic laws every day in this blog.
  4. Doc Searls: Doc Searls blogs about a number of different issues in law, business, and more.
  5. Amy Campbell’s Weblog: Amy Campbell discusses the marketing of law firms.

Startups

Getting started is perhaps the most fun, but daunting, part of entrepreneurship. These sites offer assistance, advice, and even training for budding business owners.

  1. Get It Started!: Read Wharton’s Get It Started blog for advice on startups and more.
  2. Starting Up: Get access to this startup column written by MIT Sloan’s Joseph Hadzima here.
  3. University as Entrepreneur: This blog from Arizona State University promotes an entrepreneurial spirit for students and beyond.
  4. start me up!: Ron Graham supports and educates young entrepreneurs in this blog and beyond.
  5. Small Business Development Center: Get seminars, consultation, training, and a lot more from this center at the Fox School of Business.

Management

Starting up is only the first part of the battle—once you’ve launched, it’s time to keep afloat. Check out these sites for a little help with managing your business.

  1. HR and Labor News: This library blog delivers the latest news in labor and human resources.
  2. Online Business Training: Learn about business management and more online with the Arkansas Small Business Development Center.
  3. Working Knowledge: This blog for business leaders discusses everything from globalization to leadership and management.
  4. Harvard Business School Leadership Initiative: Harvard’s Leadership Initiative has lots of great resources, like essays on best practices, a database of American business leaders, and business cases.
  5. Management Consultancy International: Link learning with business success using Management Consultancy International’s approach.
  6. Journal of Labor Economics: Consider human resource issues with this labor economics journal.
  7. MIT OpenCourseWare: Learn about management, social sciences, and much more with these courses from MIT.

Technology

Many of today’s entrepreneurs develop technology-focused businesses. If you happen to be one of them, you’ll appreciate the gold mines on these sites, with insight on intellectual property, the future of tech, and more.

  1. Furd Log: Check out the Furd Log for discussions on intellectual property.
  2. Ramesh Jain: This blog covers experiential computing and next generation search.
  3. Clarifying and Explaining: Clarifying and Explaining discusses implementations of new technology and what they mean for issues like freedom and copyright.
  4. Complexity and Social Networks Blog: Check out topics like social finance, innovation, knowledge sharing, and more on the Complexity and Social Networks blog.
  5. GrepLaw: GrepLaw is a forum for information, news, and commentary on information technology and law.
  6. John Palfrey: John Palfrey at Harvard discusses topics such as intellectual property, copyright, and privacy.
  7. University of Washington Emerging Technology: Here, learn about upcoming technologies for the university and beyond.
  8. Stanford Center for Internet and Society: Learn about legal doctrines information that will affect technology entrepreneurs now and in the future.
  9. Liberty Road: Kevin Morooney blogs about IT, business intelligence, and more.
  10. Berkman Center for Internet & Society: Learn about the challenges and opportunities of the Internet from this center at Harvard Law.

Economics

Market conditions and economic trends in general can have a huge impact on the success of your business. Check out these sites to get a peek at the way it all works.

  1. Planning & Markets: This journal discusses the difference between planned interventions and market approaches.
  2. Unintended Consequences: Check out Mike Ward’s blog about counter-intuitive economic findings.
  3. Theory B: Get a different view on business and economics with this blog.
  4. Finance Weblog: Check out this blog from Instituto de Empresa for news and commentary on current events in economics and finance.
  5. The LockeSmith Blog: Understand the economic principles of individualism, free market, and more using this blog.
  6. Political Economy Research Institute: Learn about how economics and politics can affect your business here.
  7. Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science: Learn about relative prices, inflation, and other topics in economics here.
  8. California Policy Inbox: Get up to date on California’s economy and business with this blog.
  9. UChannel: Check out UChannel to get the latest economic news in academia.
  10. Business Blog: Read this blog for news, research tips, and resources for business and economics from Colorado State University.
  11. The Entrepreneurial Mind: Jeff Cornwall’s blog focuses on entrepreneur issues as they relate to venture capital, finance, and the general economy.
  12. Economics News: Read Economics News to stay up to date on news, events, and resources in economics.

Responsibility

For entrepreneurs these days, it’s often not enough just to be financially successful—it’s important to be socially and environmentally responsible in business, too. Check out these sites for assistance and advice for achieving these goals.

  1. The Nelson Institute: Learn about how your business can be environmentally responsible in this blog.
  2. Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility: Xavier University has lots of resources for socially responsible business.
  3. Center for Responsible Business: This center at Berkeley is a resource for research and advice for businesses who want to adopt responsible practices.
  4. Environmental News Bits: Check out this blog from the University of Illinois that aggregates environmental news.
  5. Students for Responsible Business: This organization offers consulting on responsible business.

Entrepreneur Societies

Whether you’re an alum or just an entrepreneur looking for networking, assistance, or information, these entrepreneur society sites have a lot to offer.

  1. Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship: Rice supports entrepreneurs in Houston, and has helped launch over 150 technology companies since 1999.
  2. Cornell Entrepreneur Network: Even if you aren’t a Cornell alum, you can still take advantage of this network’s collection of interviews and other entrepreneurial resources.
  3. University of Oklahoma Entrepreneur Society: Get help planning for a new business through this society.
  4. Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs: This student-run organization has lots of great links, challenges, and more.
  5. UT McCombs Entrepreneur Society: Get connected with VCs, entrepreneurship guides, and lots of other resources through this University of Texas society.
  6. University of Central Florida Student Entrepreneur Society: UCF’s Student Entrepreneur Society is full of helpful resources, like an entrepreneur network, sample business plans, an idea café and more.

Other

There is so much helpful information in these sites that we can’t possibly fit them into a category. Check them out for discussions on issues like diversity, memory, and writing.

  1. Words on Work: This resource site from the Carlson School of Management offers materials relating to industrial relations.
  2. Talking Biz News: Read this blog to learn about journalism in business.
  3. Diversity Weblog: The Instutio de Empresa’s Diversity Weblog discusses female leadership and more.
  4. Common Errors in English: Effective communication is vital to any business. Brush up with this site.
  5. This is Not a Blog: Learn about online journalism in this non-blog from NYU.
  6. Babson Women’s Business Blog: This blog shares information relating to the advancement of women and business.
  7. Three Percent: Writers considering publishing a book should read this blog about the business of books and international writing.
  8. work/space: Read this blog from Johndan Johnson-Eilola for subjects like memory landscapes, technology, and more.
  9. Dean Bruner’s Blog: Read Dean Robert Bruner’s blog for insight on general business topics.

Productivity Resources for Freelancers

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 7:00pm by Site Administrator

If you’re even a semi-regular reader of Bootstrapper, you’ve probably figured out that we don’t cover Freelancing here all that much. We recently published The 100 Tools Freelancers Can’t Live Without, and it forced me to the realization that there really is a connection between freelancing and entrepreneurship. I’m a long time freelancer and also an entrepreneur. Freelancing is often a gateway towards entrepreneurship. Freelancers are used to working for themselves, and they’re familiar with the ebb and flow of income. So it can be a great stepping stone towards entrepreneurship. It teaches you a lot of facets about doing business but without the same kind of commitments or even hassles. (It has for me, but I’ve still got a lot to learn about entrepreneurship.) There are two great freelancing blogs to check out: FreelanceFolder and FreelanceSwitch. And if you’re looking for freelance writing and editing work, check out Freelance Writing Gigs. If you’re wondering where the actual transition between freelancer and entrepreneur is, I have to say I’m not entirely sure. They could potentially involve other people in the equation, so hiring doesn’t define either. However, freelancers are perceived to "work for" clients and  entrepreneurs tend to have customers, along with shorter-term interactions. A freelancer is not an entrepreneur but might become one. On the other hand, I’m now hovering between both states.

Don’t Think Outside the Box for Business?

Monday, October 22, 2007 at 3:00pm by Site Administrator

In Critical Thinking for Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs, I pointed out that critical thinking makes the difference between producing a groundbreaking service or product or a variation of “the same”. What I meant was “innovative”.

However, over at Kiplinger.com, Marty Nemko says don’t innovate [via Startup Spark]. He says that doing the opposite of what business schools teach increases your chances of success, that replication is less risky than innovation – for the average shallow-pocketed entrepreneur.

Now upon deep reflection, I’d have to say he’s right. I can’t begin to explain with simple examples, but what I’ve absorbed about business as a whole suggests the truth of this.

So let’s look at the “critical thinking” angle another way. Instead of innovating – if you are following Marty’s advice – apply critical thinking to come up with a more efficient, cost-effective way to offer the same products or services. Replicating a successful business does not mean you have to copy exactly.

The real gem of advice in the Kiplinger article is hidden in point #2, Don’t seek status; avoid it. Dull, normal, unsexy businesses often make bank. And that’s true in the stock market, too. Think of something everyone – or at least lots of people – needs. For example, what do men need? What do women need? What do we both need on a daily basis? Answer those questions – provided you don’t know what your startup business will be about.

Still, all that does not mean you shouldn’t think outside the box. Outside-the-box thinkers often become inventors and entrepreneurs. They come up with improvements on simple things such as the paper clip and still make a fortune. They can innovate new products, or better ways of doing the same old thing.

Critical Thinking for Bootstrapping Entrepreneurs

Saturday, October 20, 2007 at 6:00pm by Site Administrator

What do Sherlock Holmes, Batman and Adrian Monk have in common? Besides being fictional crimefighters in their own ways, they’re all what some people might call critical thinkers. Applied to business, critical thinking might make the difference between producing a truly groundbreaking product or service and just another variation of existing offerings.

What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is hard to define exactly because there really is no universal definition. It’s based on principles, not procedures. It involves non-linear, open-minded, multi-disciplinary approaches and considering multiple potential solutions. It takes a lifetime of continuing to learn, and considering input from all five senses before applying analytical principles to complex problem solving. (Think Batman or Adrian Monk.) Critical thinking is about how to think, not just what to think, and for some it’s a pursuit of truth. To me, critical thinking is the ultimate application of “lifehacking”.

Examples of Critical Thinkers
Who are critical thinkers? Logicians, philosophers, detectives/ CSIs, FBI profilers, forensic scientists, to name a few. They go beyond the basic principles to solve problems, using multi-disciplinary thinking, and have many attributes.

How Can Entrepreneurs Use Critical Thinking?
Entrepreneurs, especially bootstrapping entrepreneurs, probably have the mental framework and background to become critical thinkers, if they’re not already. Bootstrappers in particular have to solve problems in the most cost-effective long-term manner, not just put a bandage on the problem. The bandage is just a superficial solution; the root cause of the problem still exists.

To accomplish this requires both an basic understanding of various types of thinking (science, math, history, anthropology, economics, philosophy, logic, etc.) and an open-mindedness to consider various solutions. To really solve a problem, find not just the symptoms but the root cause, then attack that.

In my opinion, one of the most ideal tools for critical thinking is the use mindmapping. However, not once in over 30 years of using mindmaps have I ever seen anyone connect radiant thinking (mindmapping) with critical thinking.

Why Don’t More Entrepreneurs Use Critical Thinking?
There are probably three main reasons that more entrepreneurs do not use critical thinking:

  1. Critical thinking is not learned naturally by most people, without catalyzing conditions.
  2. It’s not commonly taught in the public education system, if anywhere at all, and certainly not in many careers.
  3. The results of critical thinking sometimes resemble idealism, and there’s a chain of confusion about idealism. It’s confused by some with “bleeding-heart liberalism”, which is confused with socialism, which is confused with communism – considered a sin by most Americans. Idealism and communism are wholly different, buthow do you go against this kind of societal misconception?
  4. Having capital to throw at a problem often dulls the thought process towards coming up with more cost-effective, efficient solutions.

Even if you find you’ve learned to think critically on your own, it takes discipline to experience constant application, and it’s a lifetime learning process. The path of least resistance – which is related to the principle of least effort – suggests we’ll take the easy road out. That is usually to throw money at a problem and have done with it.

Summary
That said, bootstrapping entrepreneurs have the greatest opportunity to become critical thinkers. Out of necessity due to lack of capital, they’re open to alternate solutions.

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