In a previous article, I argued that Facebook’s business model should not be viewed as an example for aspiring entrepreneurs to follow. While few people would dispute that Facebook has achieved jaw dropping success, in my opinion they chose a high risk / high return approach. This approach yields amazing results for a handful of companies and ends in total failure for almost everyone else.
Indeed, this cowboy mentality is glorified by many venture capitalists, blogs and publications that cover entrepreneurship.
The purpose of this article is to present a dissenting opinion. While others are encouraging you to drop out of school and try to become the entrepreneurial equivalent of the next big rock star, I am the practical voice who tells you that “Most musicians barely make minimum wage, spend your time studying instead.”
At first this advice may sound kind of depressing (maybe that explains why I have not yet been invited to speak at any graduations). The good news is that it’s also liberating. Most aspiring entrepreneurs make things much harder on themselves than they need to. They rack their brains hoping to come up with the next Facebook, a totally new blockbuster idea with a special competitive advantage to keep [insert name of billion dollar tech company here] from duplicating it.
My advice is to do the exact opposite. Pick a business that has established demand and entrenched competitors. Choose something simple that you are passionate about and can do well. Then, focus on execution. Finally, select a business idea that can succeed on a small scale even if it doesn’t hit it big. Before I lay out these rules more formally, I would like to begin with an example of exactly the type of idea I’m talking about: Pizza.
While in college at Ball State, John Schnatter worked at Greek’s Pizzeria delivering pizzas in Muncie, Indiana. Shortly after graduating in 1983, Schnatter decided to start his own pizza delivery business. There were no shortage of pizza joints in Indiana (or just about anywhere in the world for that matter), but John felt that the quality of pizza was generally pretty low and figured he could make better tasting pizza by using fresh ingredients. He purchased $1,600 worth of used restaurant equipment and opened a pizza delivery business out of an old broom closet in his father’s tavern. His pizza was well liked by customers and a year later he opened his first full restaurant, called Papa John’s Pizza.
Today Papa John’s has over 3,100 locations. Its stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ with a market capitalization of over 650 million dollars. Schnatter owns 30% of the company, making his share of Papa John’s worth over $215 million.
Papa John’s is one of many great examples of companies that grew successfully by following the two simple rules (and three corollaries to those rules) outlined below.
Twitter has become more than a way for individuals to let people know what they had for lunch. This social media tool has quickly become a key component of business marketing. Not only is Twitter a great way for business-to-consumer marketers, but for business-to-business marketers as well.
I recently gave a presentation on the usage of social media in a business-to-business setting and here are two of the key points I stressed when using Twitter.
Many small-to-medium local businesses do not realize that paid search can be a cost-effective way to get new clients. Many businesses use paid search to create localized paid search campaigns to generate leads, sales and brand awareness.
Paid search enables your business to reach people actively looking for information about your products and services online. Running an effective paid search campaign is one of the most effective ways to find new customers in your area. The costs associated with can be kept low due to being charged only when people click on your ad. Knowing that your marketing dollars are spent only on obtaining people interested in what your business offers is a great use of your budget.
Here are four great tips to make sure your paid search campaign is a success
1. Target Properly
Many paid search advertisers fail to realize how localized a paid search campaign may be targeted. Google allows for targeting customers in an area as small as a five mile radius. While that small of an area may be too small for most businesses, it gives you an idea of exactly how targeted your campaign can be. An effective targeting strategy ensures that your ads are reaching people who are potential customers and makes your budget go further.