10 Magazine-Style Website Themes for Entrepreneurial Online Publishers

Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 9:00pm by Site Administrator

If you’ve decided to start an online publishing business, you have many choices, including static niche-focused sites, subscription content, and blogs, all of which we’ve discussed here. Another option is to build an online magazine, preferably one related to your startup market.

The problem is that, until recently, the type of CMS (Content Management System) needed to produce an impressive online magazine would set you back at least $100,000, if not literally a million. And then you have to factor in “seat licenses” for every person who would be using the software. That’s way too much for most online publishers, aspiring or otherwise.

Enter WordPress (aka WP), reputedly the most used platform blogs. Despite that, WordPress is nearly as powerful as most of the high-end CMSes that I assessed in the late 90s for large companies. And it’s free, Open Source software. (At least for the present.) It’s also quite capable of present a magazine-like website, as the sudden explosion of magazine-like WP themes will attest to.

If you do have designs on an online magazine, you need a good layout to match. There are actually quite a number to choose from, and some of them are discussed briefly below, with snapshots. Please note that some of these themes require WP 2.3+ versions, which to me is a huge disappointment due to serious changes in the database schema that are incompatible with earlier versions of WordPress.

The Shortlist
Being included here is not an endorsement of any particular theme and not a snub of others. I’m including those that I’ve either tried, read about a fair bit, or simply caught my eye.

Revolution magazine theme for wordpress1. Revolution. The original Revolution theme is one of my early favorites and I had no trouble shelling out a few dollars for a licensed copy that I could install multiple times – and tweak to my heart’s content. The theme is by Brian Gardner, whose free WP themes you can find at Performancing.

The main Revolution site has a wealth of tutorials on how to use the theme and customize it. It’s robust enough to show several variations. Check out Hot Togs and Curry Elvis for a couple of examples. As with most of the themes in this list, you can take Revolution and make it yours by tweaking.

There are a number of different licensing options, so check out what’s most appropriate for your needs.

Revolution Magazine theme for WordPress2. Revolution News, Magazine, Sports. Shortly after the success of Revolution, Brian released his Revolution News, Magazine and Sports themes, which are essentially variations on the same idea, but do have distinct layouts. While I purchased a copy of the Magazine theme, I haven’t yet implemented it. These are much more magazine-y than the original Revolution, and the Magazine variation has a space set out for a “featured video”.

The licensing options for these three themes are different than for the original theme. If you want any of these for multiple use, it’ll cost you more.

The only drawback I’ve found with the four Revolution themes is that the default mode uses their logos, which you will not want for your sites. Most of the other themes here instead use the name of your WordPress blog automatically.

The Morning After (TMA) WordPress magazine theme3. TMA – The Morning After. TMA , by Arun Kale, is another of my favorite WP magazine themes, which you can see implemented with slight layout variations at CallStyle and PopSofa. Details on customizing this free theme are available on the main page. Besides the general layout, it has a very “online magazine” feel to it, with well-integrated layout components.

What I really like about it is the Feature and Asides components. It’s also relatively easy to move the chunks around, if you are familiar enough with the PHP coding used by WordPress. I’ve also taken the Asides code from here and implemented it in another magazine theme, Mimbo, discussed below. The only thing I don’t like about this is how blockquotes appear out of the box. However, of all the free themes, it’s my favorite.

Mimbo magazine theme for WordPress4. Mimbo. I really love Mimbo, by Darren Hoyt, for sites with lots of images. But there are a few kinks I found while customizing an implementation, including category archive pages showing as the home page instead. (But in all fairness, they work on the demo site; just not for me.)

Note that the name Mimbo means “male bimbo”, and that this theme is ideal for a fashion mag or something in the entertainment or pop culture vein. On the other hand, a very attractive implementation can be found at Cycling Challenge (which I have nothing to do with). I have taken the “Asides” section of TMA (above) and replicated it – something I intend to do with on some Revolution installs.

Your Revolution magazine theme for WordPress5. Your Revolution. Adii (Adriian Pienaar) released three magazine-style themes, though I’m not sure if Your Revolution is first or second. This one has a slight resemblance to Brian Gardner’s Revolution News theme in terms of layout, but uses a completely different color theme out of the box.

The list price is $79, but since I don’t own a copy, I can’t say how easy it is to customize. It’s not one of my favorites, though color themes are always a personal choice. I’ll take a guess that

Blockmag magazine theme for WordPress6. Blockmag. The Blockmag theme is also by Adii, and I prefer this one over his Your Revolution, especially in terms of layout. Both are available for sale, along with a number of other themes by Adii.

Maybe it’s the demo and the demo colors, but I find that this theme might be more suitable to something in the art vein – possibly for selling art online, if  you have an arts magazine to go with it.





Premimum News/ magazine theme for WordPress7. Premium News Theme. The Premium News Theme is the third of Adii’s magazine themes. I find this one to be the most attractive of the three, very professional, and ideal for sites with lots of photos and videos. In fact, there’s a built-in video player.

It’s very sexy and crisp, and the homepage layout makes me think of a print magazine masthead, with large snippets of photos. I might just have to shell out the $99 for it – but that only covers a single use. Like some of the other paid themes, if you want to use it on multiple sites, there’s an extra flat cost.

Grid Focus magazine theme for WordPress8. Grid Focus. Grid Focus is very minimalist, with a strong black and white, 3-column theme, tempered with a bit of gray. It leaves a fair bit of room for customization.

What’s interesting is that the navigation bar is duplicated at the bottom of the page. Given the demo layout, this theme is probably ideal for a text-heavy site. However, it’s likely that it wouldn’t be too much work to incorporate images. And color.



Upstart Blogger magazine theme for WordPress9. Futurosity. Futurosity takes a vertical approach to the magazine theme, in a minimalist sense. The demo page suggests a theme ideal for text-heavy sites, though i’m sure you could add images. (It’s not evident from the snapshot at right.)

The individual post page template is very clean, with tons of white space, and space for large images (scroll to bottom of page). Overall, this a simple but bold theme, and potentially has a lot of uses.



Jello Wala Mello magazine theme for WordPress10. Jello Wala Mello. Designer Small Potato has released what he calls a “free premium” magazine theme called Jello Wala Mello. I’m not big on yellow (my least fave color in the spectrum), but I do like the general layout.

It’s influenced by CNN and Kineda layouts, which Small Potato mentions. He also goes through the influences and the process he used, including previously hiring someone to come up with what is now an earlier incarnation of this theme. (Which is less yellow and laid out differently.)

Other magazine themes.
Theme Playground also reviews several other magazine-style themes that I didnt’ know about and thus haven’t explored yet. Design Adapations also talks about creating a magazine style theme by example, reviewing some of themes listed here. (Note: Theme Playground uses the TMA theme.)

Summary
Few of these themes “work” out of the box. After you install and activate one of them in your WordPress control panel, you likely do have to do some work, adding one or more sizes of images for the home page, and what WordPress calls custom fields. In fact, unless you don’t care about homepage images, you also have to do some photo editing work each time you post a new article.

If you want something original, an area of site design that you might be interested in is grid-based design, which makes up the core of these magazine themes. The Blueprint framework is a good place to start, for producing grid-based layouts from scratch.

It’s true that not all of the themes above are ideal for a professional online magazine, though many of them show a great deal of promise, and some of the licenses allow tweaking and/or reuse.

Top 100 Entrepreneur Podcasts

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 11:35pm by Site Administrator

If you’re a busy entrepreneur, chances are you barely have time to brush your teeth, let alone brush up on all of the blogs, business news, and books out there. If you’re too busy to read, podcasts are a great alternative. Try listening to these podcasts for entrepreneurs while you’re on the go.

Startups

Hear about strategies for up and comers in these podcasts.

  1. FlyingStartups: Get monthly updates of interviews with well known startup entrepreneurs on FlyingStartups.
  2. Startup Nation Radio: The Sloan Brothers take you on their adventure of starting a dream business.
  3. Loic Le Meur: This serial startup entrepreneur creates podcasts with interviews, news and more.
  4. Andrew Allgaier: Andrew Allgaier’s on the brink of launching his business.
  5. Cubicle Divas: Leesa Barnes shares secrets on how women can start a new business on a shoestring.
  6. StartupBizCast: Steve Mullen’s Startup BizCast has loads of business advice and tips for startups.

Finance

Keep your mind on your money by checking out these podcasts that center on finance and investment.

  1. Business With Cents: This podcast is all about starting a successful business without a lot of cash.
  2. Best Accounting Practices: Listen to Best Accounting Practices for insight from CPA Jack Boyer.
  3. Venture Voice: These podcasts offer infomation on venture capital, entrepreneurship, and other topics in business.
  4. Entrepreneur Magazine Radio-Money/Jobs and Economy: This podcast covers news and interviews in money and economy.
  5. Kiplinger Personal Finance: Entrepreneurs need to keep a close eye on their personal finances. Learn how to do that with Kiplinger’s podcast.
  6. Entrepreneur and Investor Corner: This podcast is designed to help entrepreneurs get their feet wet in finance and investing.
  7. Joseph Associates: This podcast from Joseph Associates covers the merger and acquisition marketplace.
  8. QuickBooks Small Business Podcast: Get small business seminars in this podcast from QuickBooks.
  9. TaxQuips: If you’ve got a small business tax question, tune in to TaxQuips.
  10. Accounting Best Practices: Steve Bragg discusses a number of accounting topics in this podcast.

Inspiration

Use these podcasts to spark ideas and inspiration for your business.

  1. 60 Second Ideas: Get inspiration from these quick idea podcasts.
  2. Daily Thoughts for Business: These inspirational thoughts will brighten any entrepreneur’s day.
  3. Teen Biz: On this podcast, you’ll find business ideas for teens and young adults.
  4. Biz Op Radio: Chris Murch stays on top of business opportunities in this podcast.
  5. HBR Ideacast: This ideacast from Harvard Business Review offers loads of management ideas and commentary.
  6. Entrepreneur Cast: Learn how to take your inspiration beyond the concept with Entrepreneur Cast.
  7. Tweak!: Tweak! teaches entrepreneurs to make small changes in their business.
  8. Escape From Cubicle Nation: Pamela Slim’s podcast is all about getting out of the cubicle and into a life you can enjoy.
  9. iinnovate: Learn about innovation and entrepreneurship with this podcast.
  10. Killer Innovations: Phil McKinney shares his knowledge about creativity and innovation.

Productivity

Listen to these podcasts for strategies and help for staying on top of everything.

  1. Gain Control of Your Day: Use these tools and techniques to stay on top of your productivity.
  2. A Motivated Entrepreneur: Get motivated with this podcast.
  3. Smarter By The Minute: Work smarter and live happier by checking out Smarter By The Minute.

Marketing

These podcasts provide loads of ideas for getting the word out about your business.

  1. Aggressive Marketing & Entrepreneurship Podcast: Tune into Michael Cage’s podcast to learn about strategies and news for marketing your business.
  2. The Cold Calling Podcast: Listen to the Cold Calling Podcast for tips, insight, and tricks on telephone prospecting and lead generation.
  3. Guerilla Marketing: Find out what people want online and how to be an exceptional guerilla marketer with this podcast.
  4. Recognized Expert Marketing: Listen in to this podcast to learn how becoming a recognized expert can help you with marketing.
  5. Biz III: Listen to this small business podcast for loads of tech-savvy marketing tips.
  6. Personal Brand Marketing: Check out Vikarm Rajan’s podcast for marketing tips you can use.
  7. Duct Tape Marketing: John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing podcast delivers loads of marketing tips and offers lots of big-name guests.
  8. Marketing Edge: Check out Marketing Edge for insight on public relations, marketing, and more.
  9. Marketing Voices: Listen to Marketing Voices for perspectives on social media marketing.

Business Building

Build your business with these podcasts.

  1. Build a Private Practice: Learn how to build a private practice from therapists and experts who have been there before.
  2. Struggling Entrepreneur: Find out what this entrepreneur has learned along the way.
  3. Building a Home Business That Doesn’t Suck: Listen to this podcast to learn how to build a real home-based business.

Foreign

Check out these podcasts for business outside of the US.

  1. Business Coach Podcast-Canadian Small Business: This business coach has lots of advice for Canadian entrepreneurs.
  2. The China Business Show: Find out how business leaders do business in China.
  3. I’m Boss TV: Get small business information from Australians here.
  4. The Engaging Brand: Anna Farmery’s The Engaging Brand is all about a consultancy in the UK.
  5. China Business Podcast: Find out about growth and opportunities in China by listening to this podcast.
  6. Entrepreneur’s Journey: Check out Yaro Starak’s podcast to hear about the Australian’s journey as an entrepreneur.
  7. Small Biz Pod: Check out this podcast for UK entrepreneurs.
  8. InsidePR Podcast: This weekly Canadian podcast is all about public relations.

Interviews

In these podcasts, you’ll hear interviews with lots of successful entrepreneurs.

  1. Jenerous: Listen to the stories of entrepreneurs and marketers on Jenerous.
  2. Leader Network: On The Leader Network, you’ll listen to interviews on known and unknown leaders.
  3. Like Nobody’s Business: Lalita Amos’ podcast includes interviews and challenges to traditional business thinking.
  4. Startup Studio: With Startup Studio, you’ll enjoy interviews of entrepreneurs and learn how they did it.
  5. Biz Link Radio: On Biz Link Radio, you’ll get weekly interviews with entrepreneurs and executives.
  6. Entrepreneur Exclusive: Listen to exclusive interviews with entrepreneurs.
  7. Small Business Netcast: The panelists on this podcast discuss creating, developing, and managing small businesses.
  8. Round One: Listen to interviews of prominent entrepreneurs on Round One.
  9. Beermat Business Radio Show: Mike Southon, "Beermat Entrepreneur," interviews successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and leaders.
  10. Meet The CEO: Listen to interviews of big-name CEOs on this podcast.
  11. DSM Buzz: This podcast interviews successful entrepreneurs and encourages consumers to buy local.
  12. Small Business Podcast: Listen to the Small Business Podcast for interviews with loads of business experts, entrepreneurs, and more.

Leadership

Learn how to be a good manager and leader using these podcasts.

  1. Change Maker Minute: Get motivational messages for leaders from this podcast.
  2. The Good Manager Podcasts: Learn how to be a good manager in these podcasts.
  3. Fireside Chat with Lisa Haneberg: Learn about business management with these podcasts from Lisa Haneberg.
  4. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders: Check out these lectures from Stanford for thoughts from entrepreneurial leaders.
  5. Small Biz Survival: Becky McCray’s podcasts focus on business leadership and management advice.
  6. Manager Tools: Use Manager Tools to become a more effective manager and leader.

Technology

Get the latest in entrepreneurial tech news with these podcasts.

  1. eBiz Show: Learn about successful ebusinesses on this podcast.
  2. eCommerce RSS Radio Show: Listen in to this show for information about tracking topics online.
  3. The Podcast Brothers: Check out the Podcast Brothers for weekly infomation on the business side of audio and video new media.
  4. Managing The Gray: C.C. Chapman’s podcast discusses how entrepreneurs can use social media to their advantage.
  5. Internet Business Mastery: Listen to Sterling and Jay’s podcast for information on the art of internet marketing and online business.
  6. Calcanis: This CEO of Mahalo.com always has lots of special guests on his podcasts.
  7. The SBS Show: Manage your IT operations better by listening to the SBS Show.
  8. JoomlaJabber: Kathy and Tom discuss the Joomla open source content management service on this podcast.
  9. Podcasting for Business: This podcast will help you develop and create a podcast for your entrepreneurial venture.
  10. Midwest Business: Hear about business technology news that affects the midwest on this podcast.
  11. The Podcast Sisters: The Podcast Sisters is focused on small business and using the Internet to your advantage.
  12. CIO Podcast: Stay on top of the IT industry and learn how you can benefit from events.

Sales

For budding businesses, it’s all about focusing on sales. These podcasts do just that.

  1. Sales Roundup: Learn how to hire the right salespeople, keep communication with clients open, and more on Sales Roundup.
  2. Product Sourcing Podcast: Find out how you can find products to sell on this podcast.
  3. Copy That Sells Podcast: Learn how to write better copy with this podcast.

News

Get business news and commentary from these podcasts.

  1. New York Times: Stay on top of the latest news from all over the world with podcasts from The New York Times.
  2. On The Record: Listen to reporters from mainstream media discuss the future of the industry as well as marketing and business.
  3. Daily Review: Get an up to the minute briefing on daily news stories with this podcast.

General

For content that’s applicable to nearly every entrepreneur, check out these podcasts.

  1. Entrepreneur.com: Subscribe to Entrepreneur.com’s podcasts, and you’ll get access to loads of different topics for entrepreneurs.
  2. Mind Your Own Business Podcast: Listen to Mind Your Own Business for "the antidote to business advice."
  3. I’m There For You Baby: This "entrepreneur’s guide to the galaxy" covers a number of different topics for entrepreneurs.
  4. Business Week: On Business Week, you’ll hear about popular weekly features from Business Week magazine.
  5. SBA Podcast: Get access to loads of resources and help from the Small Business Administration with these podcasts.
  6. Small Business Radio: This podcast discusses recruiting, marketing, and more.
  7. Business Humor Podcast: See the humor in entrepreneurship with this podcast of Hesh Reinfeld’s columns.
  8. Microbusiness News Briefs: Dawn Rivers Baker covers everything of interest to microbusinesses and their entrepreneurs.
  9. The Trend Junkie: This junkie is addicted to both trends and entrepreneurship.
  10. Learn Small Business: Learn how to operate a solopreneur venture through this podcast.

Other

For even more thought-provoking content, listen to these podcasts.

  1. Entrepreneur Mum: This mom runs a business and a family.
  2. GopherHaul Lawn Care Podcast: Listen to this show to learn how you can create and maintain a successful lawn care business.
  3. Ask the Guru: Check in with real estate guru Larry King on this podcast.
  4. MBA Working Girl: Learn about both business school theory and real-world business practices from MBA Working Girl.
  5. Business Intelligence Network Solution Spotlights: Get business industry insights from experts in this podcast.

7 Niches to Explore for an Online Information Business

Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

Are you thinking of launching a startup business but you’re not quite sure what market to focus on? You’ve heard that it’s possible to have a successful business online, if everything aligns. So why not explore some online niches?

Below is a list of a few niches that are considered hot right now by my colleagues, especially for blogs. To turn them into the semblance of an online business, you need more than just a blog. Following the niche list are a few suggestions for site-building, based on my research over the past three calendar years, as well as informal conversations with successful online publishing colleagues.

Online Niches:
These are only a few of many niches that are currently considered “hot”.

  1. Productivity and personal development. These topics can actually be split up into two primary sub-niches, since productivity typically relates to work and personal development is usually, well, very personal. While there are many top blogs in this space, you can still stand out with the right premium content.

  2. Personal finance. Personal finance is on the mind of pretty much every adult in North America, not to mention probably the rest of the world. Effective money management comes from learning BEFORE problems arise. Hence there’s also a potential for an audience in different age groups, especially for premium content. But it is a very competitive niche, with hundreds of good personal finance blogs (aka pfblogs).
  3. Health. If you believe popular media about the diabetes epidemic due to obesity, as well as all the other diseases we’re learning to cope with, then you know how much interest there is in health. It’s a huge, profitable niche, with many sub-niches – such as specific diseases – that are profitable on their own. But this niche requires a significant amount of knowledge. If you are interested in health but not qualified to write, hire someone who is, and act only as an editor, publisher and webmaster.
  4. Travel. Travel has always been a multi-billion dollar market, and the many thousands of travel-related blogs listed in Technorati suggests huge competition. Travel, like health, can be a good niche for setting up mini-sites for specific sub-topics. You can also stand out by catering to specific types of travellers on different sites: budget, post-college, honeymooners, luxury, adventure, geek travellers, business travellers.
  5. Style/ fashion. With the huge interest in celebrity lifestyle, there’s a sizable market for fashion. However, not everyone can afford high-end designer clothes. So you could focus on affordable but stylish fashions. Add affiliate links/ ads, or add an online shop.
  6. Home renovation. There are consumers out there who’ll take a second mortgage to improve their house, either with additions or renovations. If they’re going to spend the money anyway, why not help them? Offer how-to articles, sources of financing, where to save money without compromising quality, resources listing manufacturers, subcontractors, etc. This is an ideal niche for having a paid directory of relevant businesses.
  7. Sports. Pick the right sports and you could have a lucrative online business. Which sport? Why the one you love the most of course. Your passion will show through in your articles, and an online store could supplement advertising revenue.

General Advice:
In addition to blog posts, consider setting up an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), glossary of terms, resource list (sites, software). You can also setup very subject-focused mini-sites that link back to your main site. I feel that blogs are merely a way to build expertise and the web traffic that will potentially lead to conversions in terms of paid content or advertising. So provided that you can find the right means of monetization for your niche, you can give away content, even someof your premium content.

In addition to quality resource articles, you might want to participate in/ run a blog carnival for competitive niches – not to mention use the appropriate social media sites to promote your business and content.

Types of Content:
Don’t just rely on a blog and the static pages of mini-sites. Here are some other forms of content that can win you paying customers in the future. Some of the content below is premium. Premium content should be written by people with the appropriate knowledge. When your capital allows, hire qualified freelancers.

  1. Forum threads. If you have the time and inclination, consider adding a forum (if you are targeting some sub-niche of your topic). Just keep in mind that forums take a great deal of time, but after there is momentum, ask some of your regular members if they’d like to be volunteer moderators. If you think you’d like to pay them in the future, you can mention that – but don’t promise it.

  2. E-newsletters. Feedburner and other services will take your blog feed and produce an automated e-newsletter. You can configure the delivery frequency.
  3. Screencasts. Screencasting simply means to record a video of someone using a piece of software. Screencasts are an ideal way to teach specific software-related skills, and in the right niche, this could generate revenue.
  4. Podcasts. Podcasts, strictly speaking, refer to a piece of audio recording. It might be yourself reading and discussing niche news, or someone you’ve hired. The intent is to offer visitors a handy way to consume content, since MP3 files can be downloaded to an iPod or other media player. Podcasting is relatively easy to do.
  5. Video. If you have the capital to buy the video and editing gear, as well as the time and skills, producing video content can be a lucrative effort for the appropriate niche. Travel is an example that comes to mind. Offer video travel tips to premium subscription customers, as well as free teasers.
  6. Ebooks. Ebooks can be massaged collection of your blog posts, though adding some fresh content gives you more credibilty. Ebooks can be sold per copy or via monthly subscription access.
  7. Directories. As mentioned above, for the home renovation niche, you might want offer businesses the option of a paid listing. This listing could be merely contact info, or a website link, or even a mini-profile. Of course, you could do this for most niches listed here.
  8. Software. In some niches (e.g., personal finance), a suitable piece of software can bring your site many eyeballs. Even free software (whether for the desktop or web browser) can be monetized.

Monetiztion:
There are many ways to monetize your content, even if some or all of it is free.

  1. CPC ads. CPC, or Cost Per Click, ad networks give you a piece of code to include with your web pages and blog posts. Every time there is a legitimate click on an ad, you earn revenue. How much you earn depends both on the perceived authority of your site as well as as the niche.

  2. CPM ads. CPM, or Cost Per Mille (thousand), ads are based on # of impressions. You earn a prorated amount for the number of times a specific advertiser’s ad is displayed on your site in a given time period. CPM value varies with niche and, possibly, how much traffic your site gets. High-traffic authority sites can often sell such ads directly, thus eliminating ad networks as the middleman. Such ads are often in banner form.
  3. CPA ads. CPA, or Cost Per Action, ads typically earn more than CPC or CPM ads. However, they only earn when a visitor completes a specific action, such as signing up for something or even making a purchase. The latter, which pay either a flat fee or percentage of sale value, are typically for affiliate programs.
  4. Sales. Per-item sales of information or tangible products – such as ebooks, DVDs, etc., can be a significant source of revenue – provided you’ve established some sort of perceived authority in your chosen niche.
  5. Subscriptions. For the right type of premium content, on “authority” sites, you can charge for subscription access to premium content. Billing is made simpler by using PayPal and their developer API.
  6. Merchandise. In certain niches, you might sell t-shirts, mugs, etc., online. You can offer PayPal, Google Checkout, or other forms of online payment. It doesn’t work for all niches, of course.
  7. Consulting/ services. Some people have made a career of giving away all their online content simply to establish enough authority that they can later charge their high hourly rate for services, speaking tours, workshops or for leveraging book sales.

Finally, if you ever get to the point where you want out of your online business, another monetization option is selling your site(s). Even sites with free subscriptions can make “bank” with the right supporting conditions.

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.

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.

The Restaurateur’s Online Toolbox: 100 Tips, Tools and Resources to Help your Restaurant Grow

Monday, October 22, 2007 at 2:26pm by Site Administrator

As the owner of your very own restaurant, you’ve definitely made it to the top of the food chain. You have complete creative freedom, unchallenged authority in the kitchen, and hopefully an ever growing clientele. Unfortunately, you’re also in charge of settling disputes among employees and sifting through mounds of paperwork. If only you could figure out a way to finish the boring chores a little faster so that you could get back to the dicing, sautéing, steaming, and saucing. To help you out, we’ve developed this online toolbox of resources and guides just for restaurateurs like you. Blogs

These foodie blogs are full of helpful tips and articles that let you know you’re not alone in your gastronomical undertakings.

  1. Restaurant Marketing Blog: Learn valuable tips to improve your marketing strategy and attract more people to your restaurant.
  2. Eater: If you own a restaurant or bar in New York, LA, or San Francisco, connect with this network to have the food editors review your place. Who knows? You could instantly become the newest local hot spot.
  3. Confessions of an Executive Restaurant Recruiter: Commiserate with this blogger as you read witty, upbeat posts about what it’s like to recruit chefs, servers, managers, and other restaurant employees.
  4. WaiterBell Blog: Check out fun, informative posts about customer service, dining etiquette, negotiating the dietary preferences of picky children, and restaurant finance issues.
  5. Blogspitality: Blogspitality is where "RH editors chew the fat." Recent rants include "No Babies on the Table, Please" and "Trying Too Hard." After reading these horror stories, you’ll feel better about your own management mishaps.
  6. Diner’s Journal: As the food and dining blog from the New York Times, the Diner’s Journal is always the first to announce up-to-the-minute trends and industry news.
  7. Customers Are Always: This blog explores the dos and don’ts of excellent customer service. Brief your staff on the principles found here, and your clientele will be impressed.
  8. The Restaurant Blog: The Restaurant Blog, from AllBusiness.com, posts articles like "Staffing Errors Can Cost You" and "Do Your Menu Prices Shout Welcome" to help you improve your guests’ dining experiences.
  9. Restaurant Talking Points: Browse categories like sales, training, and customer service to get detailed tips on restaurant management.
  10. Restaurant Girl: New York’s Restaurant Girl knows her food. Check out this blog for enthusiastic reviews, gossip, and interviews, and get design, holiday, or management ideas for your restaurant from these experts.
  11. Bickell’s Blog: Visit Bickell’s Blog for articles on buying restaurant supplies, featured chefs, industry news, and restaurant management training guides.
  12. Restaurant Spy: This London-based blog reviews the best restaurants in the UK. Become a member to share your news and opinions on the message boards or to advertise on their site.
  13. Vinography: Make sure your bar’s wine selection is complete with the help of this blog. Get serving tips, wine ideas, and more.
  14. Diners From Hell: Read fun "dining disaster" posts, share your experiences on the forum, and find out what customers really expect when they go out to eat.
  15. Diners Nation: Diners Nation is an unbeatable resource for restaurateurs. Meet up with other managers and owners on the forum, post and look for restaurant jobs with the help of Employment Guide, and catch up on industry news from all over the U.S.
  16. Musings from a Restaurant Maven: This seasoned restaurant lover posts clever, insightful articles about customer service, waiting for a table, tipping, and eating out with children.
  17. Barista Brat: Check out this blog for funny "rants and raves" from a coffee shop barista. Get tips on dealing with annoying customers, and find out what your employees really have to put up with when you’re not around.

Productivity and Organization Tools

These handy hacks will cut down on paperwork and leave you free to mingle with your guests, develop new recipes, and have more fun at work.

  1. Spongecell Calendar: Use this online calendar to keep track of meetings, deliveries, and those ever changing server schedules. Easy edit tools will keep your calendar neat so you’ll never have to scratch through or white out changes again.
  2. bubbl.us: bubbl.us is a fun mind mapping application that will help you organize all those recipe ideas and new ingredients you’ve been dying to try.
  3. SlimTimer: SlimTimer urges you to "make love, not timesheets." Create task lists for your employees or run reports on how much time everyone spends at the restaurant to keep track of pay records.
  4. Remember the Milk: Manage your to do lists with Remember the Milk. Add and edit tasks, set up automatic e-mail reminders, and store and organize different lists in the simple Web-based filing system.
  5. Planzo: Share schedules and important events with all of your employees with the Planzo calendar.
  6. Mailman: Organize, edit, and manage your e-mail contacts with Mailman. The security features are tougher than normal e-mail client address books, so personal information always stays safe.
  7. Viapoint Smart Organizer 1.4: This Google Desktop organizer will help you minimize all the papers you have floating around your office. File away invoices, calendars, and other information in the online system, and you won’t have to worry about misplacing your important documents.
  8. Goplan: This online project management and collaboration tool notifies you when project deadlines are looming and allows you to connect with clients, vendors, and employees in the secure network.
  9. iOrganize: iOrganize is "the ultimate notepad" for Mac users. File away random ideas, conversations, inspirational look books or photos until you have time to organize them after hours.
  10. Share It Now: This download allows you to share anything on your desktop, so that you can easily connect with vendors and clients without having to clog up your inbox.
  11. MindMeister: Two heads are always better than one! This ingenious collaboration application lets you brainstorm with other users to come up with new layout plans, marketing strategies, or menu ideas with vendors, investors, and anyone else who wants to help.
  12. Ikordo: The last thing you want to pull you away from the kitchen is prep time for meetings you wish you didn’t have to attend anyway. Ikordo lets you organize meeting notes little by little, and sends you notifications by e-mail so that you’ll never be late.
  13. Harvest: Keep track of time with Harvest, which helps you "improve your business, one hour at a time."
  14. Biz-Plan 3: Even though you’ve already got your restaurant, you might still need to tweak your business plan and marketing strategies a bit in order to attract more investors and customers. Biz-Plan 3 will help you organize your proposals and ideas in no time.
  15. Hyper Office: This online project management application is perfect for small businesses. Engage your employees in extra restaurant responsibilities like scheduling, task tracking and management, and more to help alleviate some of the pressure.
  16. Box: This popular file sharing system offers different levels of membership: individual, business, or enterprise. Send large files to contacts using Box instead of e-mail for a faster, more secure connection.
  17. LogMeIn: Perfect for workaholics, LogMeIn allows you to access your computer’s desktop and software from anywhere. That way, you don’t have to feel like you’re leaving the restaurant when you jet off to trade shows, conferences, or even (gasp!) vacation.
  18. activeCollab: Tired of being the only one taking charge of a particular project? Invite others to help you out by joining activeCollab, a project management tool that helps you "eliminate stress" and "manage success."
  19. PunchyTime: Asking your servers, hosts, busboys and kitchen staff to literally punch in everyday is unbearably old-fashioned. Keep track of time with this Web-based tool that will keep you organized and modern.
  20. Basecamp: Setting up Basecamp on your restaurant’s network will let you and your co-workers easily manage to-do lists, communicate about projects, and delegate responsibility.
  21. Neptune: Stop procrastinating and "get stuff done" with Neptune. This easy-to-use tool prioritizes and organizes your to-do lists for you.

Networking Opportunities

Meeting up with other professionals in your industry will help you link up with investors, vendors, and potential business partners. Swap tips and horror stories with your new friends at these great conferences, clubs, and networking sites.

  1. Hospitality Career Network: Find qualified employees or think about switching restaurants with the job bank at the Hospitality Career Network.
  2. National Restaurant Association: This official site notifies visitors of upcoming events, industry news updates, relevant legislation and immigration policies, and much more.
  3. National Bartenders Association: Encourage your bartenders to join this organization for benefit packages, meet other bartenders, learn about new drinks, and catch up on bar and alcohol-related news. Membership is free.
  4. National Association of Catering Executives: If your restaurant also offers a catering service, consider joining up with this organization, which sponsors regional leadership summits and conferences throughout the year.
  5. Women Chefs and Restaurateurs: Learn about the different kinds of benefits and services you can obtain by connecting with the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs community.
  6. Chefs Collaborative: The community at Chefs Collaborative is "dedicated to promoting sustainable cuisine." Visit their website to find information about local chapters, donating and support, and more.
  7. American Culinary Federation: The ACF is the "premier professional chefs’ organization in North America." Discover new ways to manage your kitchen, further your career, and meet other industry insiders who can help strengthen your restaurant.
  8. Black Culinarian Alliance: This organization assists black chefs, managers, and hospitality professionals bring cultural awareness and diversity to the culinary industry. Search for employees or become involved in a youth-oriented culinary arts program in your town.
  9. National Bar and Restaurant Management Association: Link up with other restaurant and bar managers to learn about liquor licensing, managing employees, customers service, and more.
  10. National Council of Chain Restaurants: This organization is excellent for managers of chain restaurants or independent restaurateurs who are interested in becoming a franchise. Access government resources, join a committee, or just get more information.
  11. Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance: Post jobs at the MFHA employment center, become a sponsor, or just read up on news about diversity and immigration in the workforce.
  12. LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn profile to meet other restaurant owners and managers in your area, search for employees, or share stories and ideas with your customers.

Marketing Tips

Check out these resources for tips and ideas when you develop your restaurant’s marketing plan.

  1. Small Business Marketing Tips: This index of helpful marketing ideas from Inc.com will increase your restaurant’s popularity and success rate.
  2. Unsolicited Marketing Advice: Check out this blog for excellent marketing tips for succeeding in a technology-driven world.
  3. Microsoft Small Business Center: Microsoft.com provides all kinds of marketing advice, from holiday-specific ideas to online marketing strategies.
  4. CouponCuisine: CouponCuisine promises to take your restaurant to the next level with their set of tools, mailers, and other marketing resources especially designed for their dining clients.
  5. "Restaurant Marketing Tips: Beyond Coupons": This article from AWeber.com is a detailed guide for increasing your clientele.
  6. Small Business Branding: This Web site discusses the benefits of online marketing, branding, local advertising, and other strategies.
  7. Developing a Business Plan: Sponsored by the CIT Small Business Lending Corporation, this project will help you organize your ideas into one succinct, effective business and marketing plan.
  8. Restaurant Voice: This blog specializes in food service management and marketing tips. Recent titles include "Destination Restaurant: Drawing Patrons from Neighboring Communities" and "Co-Branding and Multi-Branding: When and How to Use Them in Your Restaurant."

Articles and Guides

These crash course guides are great for designing the inside of your restaurant, registering your property, or just getting a little extra support when you feel overwhelmed.

  1. Liquor Control: RestaurantEdge.com provides tips and information restaurateurs who are trying to apply for a liquor license. Find links to liquor license sites for all 50 states.
  2. Maxey Hayse Design Studio: Find easy tips for designing nightclubs, fancy restaurants, and casual diners.
  3. Tips for Great Restaurant Interior Design: This article from ezine.com offers lots of good advice for DIY restaurateurs and provides links to professional designers.
  4. ABCs of Real Estate: Before plunking down a serious deposit on a piece of property for your restaurant, quiz yourself on the ABCs of real estate to make sure someone’s not ripping you off.
  5. RestaurantNews.com: This Web site is full of articles and links to resources like health inspection information, classifieds, supplies, market reports, and more.
  6. Running a Restaurant for Dummies: The famed "Dummies" series now tackles the restaurant biz. Visit this site and find articles about staffing the kitchen, finding investors, and creating a menu.
  7. "How to Develop a Restaurant Menu: This short video explores the dos and don’ts of developing the perfect menu to show off your talents and please your guests.

Resources for Raising Capital

These tools will help you attract and connect with investors, so that having to raise capital won’t slow you down.

  1. Circadian Funding: This firm actively matches investors with restaurants to form "a partnership of business."
  2. "Capital Venture, Angel Investors, Lenders": This guide advises restaurateurs on how to find the right investors and lenders when first starting out.
  3. Bank of America Franchises and Restaurants: Bank of America has several different restaurant and franchise departments to help you acquire loans and financial assistance.
  4. Startup Nation: Startup Nation is a terrific resource for enterprising restaurateurs who need startup capital, want to connect with vendors, or learn how to design top notch marketing campaigns. Designed "by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs," Startup Nation understands the unique struggles of small business owners.
  5. Craigslist: Try posting a request for investors on Craigslist. Offer a free meal, private tour of the restaurant, and lots of coupons to attract backers.
  6. InvestorQuestions.com: This is the place to ask all of your investment and lending questions anonymously. Find out what investors really expect to see in proposals, annual reports, and more.
  7. "The Best Time of Year to Find Investors": This website has lots of great tips and articles like this one to help you narrow down your search when looking for investors.
  8. RaisingMoney.com: Discover clever strategies for attracting sponsors and donors. This site also connects visitors to grant services, credit and tax information, and small business advice.
  9. Fast Pitch: This online networking community isn’t just about meeting new contacts. Sign up to get marketing tips, advice on how to write proposals, and more.
  10. Proposal Kit: Use this software to develop proposals and reports that you can present to current and future investors.

Tips and Tools for Managing Clients, Customers and Vendors

The following list provides resources for organizing contact information, maximizing communication between vendors, donors and employees, and increasing your productivity in general.

  1. Zoho Meeting: If you can’t make a meeting because you’re waiting on a delivery, or you’re having an uncharacteristically busy Tuesday, connect with clients over the Web. Zoho Meeting is an excellent Web conferencing tool that keeps you from having to leave the restaurant.
  2. Breeze: Breeze creates and organizes "amazing email campaigns," so that you can effectively reach all your contacts with style.
  3. Boldchat: Keep your computer signed in to Boldchat, a chat and support system that works with your Web site. That way, you can talk with visitors about any questions or feedback they may have.
  4. Moo: When your restaurant offers new specials or wants to advertise a snazzy event or fundraiser, design and print postcards with Moo.
  5. 8apps: 8apps sponsors "social networking for productive people." Connect food and beverage vendors through fun features like Handshake, Blueprint, and Orchestrate.
  6. Monkey on Your Back: If you need to whip a vendor or employee into shape, send them a virtual monkey to remind them of tasks they need to hurry up and complete.
  7. Guru: This Web site is "the world’s largest online marketplace for freelance talent." Search for freelancers to help you out with Web design, copyrighting, and other chores you probably don’t have time for.
  8. Xing: Log on to this professional networking community to search for new talent, meet financial backers, and recruit new customers.
  9. Comodo: This e-mail client promises secure, uninterrupted connections so that all of your conversations remain exclusive.
  10. Backpack: Backpack organizes your many to-do lists and contact sheets, making it virtually impossible for you to lose track of anything.
  11. Chaos Software: This Windows app offers content management and time tracking downloads that help you stay on your toes.
  12. Highrise: For an easy way to master client relationship management, use Highrise, which includes an address book, contact manager, and project organizer. You’ll be able to keep track of all your kitchen, financial, customer, and employee duties in one place.
  13. eFax: Throw that noisy, junky fax machine out of the back office and use eFax, a system that allows you to send faxes through your e-mail. The first 30 days are free.
  14. SightSpeed: Stop wasting time driving all over town for meetings. Set up video chat and video conferencing with SightSpeed so that you’re always close to the kitchen.
  15. Essential PIM: This popular, all-inclusive CRM software comes complete with calendars, address books, and project management tools. Use with Outlook, your Palm Pilot, or even your iPod.
  16. Wufoo: To keep in touch with what you customers really think about your food, set up a feedback form on your Web site using Wufoo.

Accounting Tools

From employee paydays to paying all your bills, these accounting tools have got you covered.

  1. BillQuick Lite 2007: This up-to-date software combines project management, time tracking and payment plans into one effective system so that you don’t have to spend hours calculating all your bills.
  2. QuickBooks: Use QuickBooks for an easy-to-use accounting solution. Check the Web site before you order to get the best deals.
  3. Adminisoft Freeware: This accounting software is completely free. Organize invoices, "keep track of who owes you money" and "record all your supplier details" with the same tool.
  4. FreshBooks: FreshBooks is a powerful invoicing tool that allows users to automatically send out notices, accept payments through PayPal, and file away all of your important data.
  5. Tick: Tick is a fantastic online tool that helps you track how much time you and your employees spend at work so that you can organize payroll and report back to your investors.
  6. Dimewise: Just because you’re a restaurateur doesn’t mean you can’t also be a financial genius. Use Dimewise to break down your different accounts so that you can analyze exactly how much money you’re spending and how much you’re making.
  7. Blinksale: Blinksale is "the easiest way to send invoices online." Edit, print, and send invoices with this super simplified software, which organizes data by client, date, or template.
  8. Microsoft Office Accounting Professional: If you’re comfortable with Windows, Excel, and PowerPoint, consider using Microsoft Office’s Accounting Professional to help you out when you hit the books.
  9. OneStep Accounting: With OneStep, you gain access to a hefty accounting package but also a business management program that will help you set up and run your restaurant.

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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