According to a new survey conducted by The Business Journals, small and midsized business owners are more connected than ever before to technology. The introduction of Apple’s iPad not only dominated consumer technology, but has also shifted the way SMB owners do their day-to-day jobs. The survey results show that in less than one year, 9 percent of business owners said they were using iPads. Simultaneously, the number of SMB owners using laptops and desktops dropped. More and more offices are moving toward the use of mobile applications on Smartphones and tablet devices. Interestingly enough, 31 percent of SMB owners are using mobile applications on Smartphones, cell phones, or tablet computers. This category was not even measured previously.
In response to the increase in mobile users, and to coincide with ShareFile’s mobile strategy, we have recently released mobile apps for Android and iOS (optimized tablet applications soon on the way). The applications allow customers to access their files on-the-go and even save downloads in a convenient folder on the account. We have seen and incredible adoption rate as more offices are going mobile. One ShareFile user says, “Fantastic app. One less reason to sit through start up on the PC. +1 for the Mobile Office.” Another user says, “Great app- the ability to manage users as well as files is superb.”
ShareFile had the opportunity to exhibit at the UNC-Chapel Hill Career Fair last week and speak to a lot of well qualified candidates. As a result of our continued dedication to raise the bar for service in the technology sector, along with recent growth, we set out to recruit top notch Sales Executives. With a unique proposition for students present at the career fair, we were able to entertain quite a bit of traffic to our booth. We offered $5 for resumes of students who met our specified criteria. We quickly became the “talk” of the career fair once UNC Career Services posted a picture of our booth to Twitter!
After conducting an interview with one of ShareFile’s Sales Executives, Adrienne Lester, I wanted to share some insight into the day-to-day activities of a typical Sales Executive here at ShareFile. Adrienne has worked at ShareFile since August 2010 and enjoys the relaxed environment in the office. On a typical day, Adrienne arrives at ShareFile at 8:30am and meets with Team Laura for a morning huddle, where the team discusses tactics and successes from the previous day. After the meeting, Adrienne checks her email and prepares to start prospecting within the AEC industry, with a goal of booking online demonstrations.
While on hold, Adrienne enjoys jamming out to the music playing in the sales area here at ShareFile. She tells me that “Hip-Hop Fridays” are her favorite! In between prospecting, Adrienne performs a couple of morning demos with interested AEC prospects. Before the demo, she researches the company, which gives her the ability to focus the presentation on their needs, while formulating a solution for the company’s file transfer concerns.
The Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network recently conducted an interview with ShareFile founder and CEO, Jesse Lipson. Jesse shares a number of insights on how to start a successful bootstrapped company successfully.
“I think that the concept of uniqueness is highly overrated when it comes to business ideas. Many aspiring entrepreneurs, especially students, feel they need to come up with a totally unique idea and if they later find someone already doing it, they give up. There is no need to be afraid of competitors as long as you have a clear path for acquiring customers and generating revenue. What you should really be afraid of is coming up with a totally new idea that no one actually wants to buy/use.”
He also believes that the time to start a business is when you are young and do not have some of the constraints that come with getting older.
“I would say that the least risky time to start a business is while you’re in school. As a student you can work on a business without needing to make a big salary, so the downside to starting a business in college is very small. In the worst case your business will fail, but you’ll still have some great experience that will help you get a job after graduation.”
Social media is revolutionizing the way small businesses market to their customers. Most small businesses these days engage in one of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogging, or a combination of a few methods. In fact, according to the WSJ, social media is now considered the #1 activity on the web. There are an estimated 500 million Facebook users and approximately 10,000 Twitter accounts are opened daily. For small businesses, it is essential to integrate your social media marketing tools in order to become the “voice” behind your brand.
Friendly, patient, and good at problem solving- these are three major traits that come up when we describe an ideal customer service representative at ShareFile. They make a lot of sense. You would probably like to have a pleasant experience when calling in to a company for support, and also to feel like the person at the other end of the line has time to talk through your concerns. Most importantly, you would want to leave the interaction with an actual solution.
While we use these terms primarily to describe a type of person, I would have to say that there are some things that anyone who works directly with customers on a daily basis should always be practicing, regardless of their personality. It may be hard to become friendlier or to develop good problem solving skills on demand, but even people who display a high level of the traits listed above can work on three related practices and attitudes that can make a big difference in your ability to better serve clients:
I may be in the minority, but I still use an RSS reader for home and business use. My feed at ShareFile consists of just under 40 RSS feeds. While I may not read each article, I tend to skim through each and then save interesting ones to read later or to share via Twitter. I read a number of small business sites as well as search marketing and general tech news sites.
Here are a few of the most recent articles I found interesting.
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.