Thursday, 26 August 2010

How Do You Benefit?

So I was sitting in a bar last week, browsing my site analytics on my iPhone. When my friend came over, I mentioned my blog had 950 visits that day, the highest I’d ever had.

Cool”, he said, “but how do you benefit?”

And it’s a good question. After all, it wasn’t as if I’d sold 950 copies of my book or won some new clients; I just had a new bunch of visitors to my blog. I wouldn’t see any revenues for that.

But there doesn’t need to be a ‘hard’ return on investment for everything; often it’s about a ‘softer’ ROI. Not £ or $ but satisfaction, recognition or just doing something you are passionate about. For small businesses like mine it’s important to recognise that they’ll be pockets of activities we get paid for, and pockets we don’t. And making choices accordingly.

Writing books, blogging, guest posts, doing video interviews are not motivated by money. I didn’t invest time - and money - in producing a video of Dave Stewart for a financial return (because I didn't get paid for it). I did it because I like telling stories, I enjoyed it. To answer my friend’s question: *that* is how I benefit.

So as you make your own choices, think about the return on investment. Whether soft, hard, measurable, immeasurable, whatever – that’s all that counts.

Work out how you benefit.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

What the heck is SXSW anyway?

Those four letters: SXSW.
“What the heck is es-ex-es-double-u?”
“That’s a music festival, right?”
“I thought it was a film festival”
“Oh, that event for geeks?”

SXSW - South By South West - gets a lot of different reactions. Some consider it the ultimate geekfest and then there’s the inevitable yawns from people who are sick of seeing #sxsw on Twitter streams, especially for the week in March when people flock to the Austin Convention Center in Texas. SXSW offers an Interactive, Film and Music festival but it’s the interactive element that’s been attracting me for the last two years.

For me SXSW is an Ideas Festival. I’m not a geek, I’m an ‘ideas guy’ and that week in Texas is a mash-up between a tweet-up, TED talks and great parties rolled into one. It stimulates and inspires me. Going there isn't a complete no-brainer; a week in the US is quite a time investment and that’s before you factor in the flight from London and the hotel nights. Plus, the dates always fall on my wedding anniversary.

I’ve made some great connections at SXSW, meeting people I’ve connected with on Twitter and also making a stack of brand new connections. People like Espree Devora who I nearly met in 2009 (long story), and caught up with in 2010 (watch my video interview with her here). So when Espree said she’d pull together a panel idea for 2011 I said I’d love to be part of it. The rest of the panel line-up is Shane Mac, Giang Biscan (two guys I haven’t met yet) plus Lewis Howes (who I have). Our idea - which is now on the panel picker for the public vote - will see us share our experiences in business about doing it our own way. Our panel title is 'DITCH THE BOOK - Running A Business YOUR Way' and you can check it out (and vote for it) here.

At SXSW this year I met Ingrid Vanderveldt for a video interview (I’d connected with her producer  Lyn Graft about two years ago - it took us a while to hook up :) ). in the video ‘SXSW Interactive On The Road’ she asks me what the event means to me. Check it out below:

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

So what happened to ‘Thank You’?

Just because we can connect with people in the blink of an eye doesn’t mean we should forget the basics.

I got an approach from someone who was interested in hiring my services. I replied to him. I never heard back (okay, so maybe he changed my mind, maybe I was too expensive, but I'll never know).

A reader emailed me agonising over a decision and asking for career advice. I gave her what I felt was valuable advice. And never heard back (even an email, saying my advice was crap would be better than nothing).

A business owner said he was seeking new people to work with and invited emails to him. I contacted him but never heard back.

I gave some career advice to a student over a coffee. And never got a follow-up 'thanks for your time'.

Sounds familiar?

Sure, we get busy. We change our minds. We don’t need that project, that advice, that supplier. Or we get swamped with feedback when we ask for it. But what happened to those two words -‘thank you’ ?

In this connected world the risk is that people fire off so many tweets, DMs and emails that they become undervalued and meaningless. Not just for individuals but also for brands and businesses. We forget the basics. And there really are no excuses. In our BlackBerry/ iPhone/ iPad ever-connected world, surely there’s 3 seconds for that ‘thank you’, even it’s a ‘thanks but no thanks’?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Dave Stewart on have just published a - previously unreleased - extract from my recent Dave Stewart interview. You can read the article 'How To Be An Ideas Factory' here.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Bootstrap your business growth

I'm in Saturday's Financial Times (below) with advice to grow your business without investment. These ideas are hardly ground-breaking but they should be effective in stimulating and inspiring growth. 

Whether it's selling more products and services to existing clients; identifying your 'by-products'; or expanding your digital presence without increasing head-count or premises, none of these ideas need much of an investment other than time and ideas.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Unplan Your Business in Management Today

I've just written a column for Management Today's Expert section on 'unplanning your business' - introducing innovation into your business thinking.
You can read it HERE.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Lewis Howes: Making It Up As I Go Along

Lewis Howes used to play American football for a living. When a sports injury put him out of the game for six months he had to find ways to make a living. He had zero business experience but knew what he wanted to achieve. So without any great plan he set about building some businesses and writing a book. His first book was all about LinkedIn, a platform that Lewis is passionate about after having spent many hours each day learning how to exploit as a business tool. He now travels extensively giving talks alongside running popular webinars. 
What I like about his story is how Lewis reinvented himself and created successful businesses with no great plan. He's made it up as he gone along. I hung out with Lewis and here’s a two minute video of our chat.