Businesses Growing: 85% of Firms Stable or Growing Across the Island

The latest InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Report, reflecting the views of more than 750 businesses across the island between October and December 2014, revealed that 85 per cent of firms are either stable or businesses growing. However the number of firms that have stabilised rose from 43 per cent to 48 per cent with a drop in the number of businesses experiencing growth from 45 per cent to 37 per cent. Profitability remained stable this quarter with 58 per cent reporting to have stayed in the black over the last 12 months.

Despite an uncertain international environment it is reassuring that so many businesses across the island find themselves in a position of relative stability or growth.

Exporters and innovators doing better than those who don’t export

The report also showed that cross-border traders, exporters and innovating firms are more likely to be growing, increasing sales and employment. We are particularly encouraged by the results that show the very positive impact that cross-border trading can have on business performance. Half of firms involved in cross-border trade are experiencing growth compared to 33 per cent of businesses not exporting. As well as being more likely to be growing, innovating and creating new jobs, the latest business monitor also shows that cross-border traders are more likely to be investing in their business over the next year, with 87 per cent indicating their intention compared to 63 per cent of those with no export sales.

Firms in Ireland performing better than NI businesses

The Q4 report revealed that firms in Ireland are now faring substantially better than their counterparts in Northern Ireland with 42 per cent of firms in Ireland experiencing growth in Q4 compared to 29 per cent of businesses in NI. Over the last few business monitors, it is evident that the gap between firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland is widening with southern businesses performing better with regards to growth, increasing employment levels and sales performance.

Sector specific performance

Despite the prevalence of stability rather than growth in most sectors in Q4, it seems that the retail and leisure industries enjoyed a strong final quarter of last year, outperforming both manufacturing and business services. The construction sector continues to struggle with the number of firms in the industry that are ‘surviving at all cost’ rising significantly from 3 per cent to 21 per cent in one quarter.

Sales performance dipped slightly in Q4

Sales performance in the last three months of 2014 was not as buoyant as previous quarters, dropping slightly from 44 per cent in Q3 to 39 per cent of firms reporting an increase in sales in Q4. Employment levels also reduced slightly in Q4 from 12 per cent to 10 per cent. However the long-term trend of fewer firms cutting jobs continues to be encouraging.

The biggest challenges for businesses

Figures also indicated a shift in the key challenges faced by businesses with the most significant issues reported to be cashflow and late payments. The cost of energy is now affecting two-thirds fewer businesses than at the start of 2014, most likely reflecting the dip in global energy prices over recent months.

Largest business survey on the island

InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is based on the views of more than 750 business managers across Northern Ireland and Ireland. It differs from other surveys in that it is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’ feeding directly from telephone interviews conducted with a robust sample of firms of all sizes across a range of sectors to track all-island economic indicators such as sales, employment, business outlook and other specific topical research areas on a quarter by quarter basis.

For more information
We would encourage businesses to ‘Discover What’s Possible’ by availing of the many cross-border trade and innovation supports offered by InterTradeIreland. To find out more, please visit A copy of the 2014 Q4 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed by clicking here.

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SEO is the Most Effective Way of Acquiring New Customers for 85% of Online Retailers

If your social marketing strategy is floundering, here is another solution to your problem

Want to acquire new customers? Rather than focus on promoting the business on social media sites, you could reach more people by focusing upon traditional SEO.

SEO is one of the most familiar tools for website owners, and is often used as a way to increase the prominence of the website. It is a vital practice for increasing the reputation of your brand, and it is often cited as one of the ways to bring new customers into a website. In fact, recent evidence suggests that SEO is the biggest source of new customer acquisition. It delivers better results than affiliate programs and marketplace targeting (through Amazon or eBay for example), according to a review of a number of different strategies used by website owners, including re-marketing, direct mail and social media websites.

Social media vs. SEO

Website owners have been tempted into becoming more active on social media sites, with the hope that this is the key to generating more content for their business. As more business websites promote themselves through social media, they may be wondering whether SEO will still be the best way to bring new customers into the site. Evidence suggests that more than 60% of businesses are intending to invest in Facebook and other social media marketing. However, an analysis of online transactions in 2012 revealed that only 1% originated directly from social media promotions. This means that all of the effort and investment is failing to generate any significant acquisition of new customers, and instead may even be reducing the amount of follow-through from casual visitors looking for information on their industry.

Why you need to keep up your SEO efforts

The figures demonstrate that, despite consumers reporting that they are discovering new brands through social media, Facebook and similar websites are not able to convert those discoveries into purchases or new customers. A study in the following year also showed that organic searches and SEO are the largest drivers of new customer acquisition. If you want to bring new customers to the website, you should consider investing in SEO, rather than trying to promote the product through social media. Of course, each business will be different, and some will find that they get slightly more from their social media sites than others, but regardless of the benefits, it is still not likely to get as good a response as basic SEO tactics that have been used in websites for many years.

How to get your SEO working to the best advantage

SEO is still the key to bringing in new customers and finding returning ones, but you can still do things to improve your keywords, including using long-tail keywords. This focuses upon phrases which might be used during search engine browsing, known as ‘conversational searches’. Evidence suggests that you are more likely to convert customers who find you using these long-tail keywords, and are also likely to be able to target customers more thoroughly than by using common phrases. If you need more assistance with your keywords, a good SEO consultant can help you to improve your search engine ranking using both traditional and more modern methods. Investing in good SEO will benefit you more than promoting your business through social media when it comes to customer acquisition, and may also do more for your company reputation than using Facebook or Twitter as your means of communicating with potential customers.

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Start-up Story: SqueezeIT

It all began about eighteen months ago when in an idle moment I was doodling on the web as one does when I found something which greatly piqued my interest. I was looking at work-at-home stuff which wasn’t going to screw me for money at the time when – don’t ask me how – I found a company based in California which provided software that could turn static websites into mobile ones for smartphones. For obvious reasons I can’t name the company but let’s call it Thebeesknees for now.

Anyhow I signed up – for free – with Thebeesknees as I could experiment with the software on the site and played around with it and it was just amazing!! I could edit, copy and paste, insert extra items, add or delete pictures, add video and produce mock-ups too without compromising the integrity or content of the original static site in any way.

Another thing I was trying to do at the time was to develop an app based on the old board game of Fox and Geese with a couple of friends of mine which side-tracked me for a time.

To be continued…

Written by Aidan Murray. As part of ‘Use SBC as a channel’ initiative, SqueezeIT has an exclusive offer for SBC members: “We will waive the 100 euro deposit for the first five companies that sign up for our service with us and will give a 50% discount for the next five businesses.”

For more information on this business visit Partner Site: | Email: |Phone: 087 261 7576.



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How Small Businesses Benefit from Mobile Technology

In the past, it was not always possible for a single person or a small business to compete with large businesses or corporations. Limits came in the form of physical restrictions or infrastructure restrictions. Now, however, with the onset of new technology, and specifically mobile technology, the playing field is becoming more even. Three of the aspects of new tech that are making this happen are cloud computing, mobile devices and industrial flexibility. Let’s look at how small businesses benefit from mobile technology…

The Advantage of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a big deal. A huge deal. A shift in business operations that shakes the very core of operations. No longer does a person need physical hardware in a specific location to do computer work. Now, through a network of shared virtual space in the cloud, all of that work can be done through the Internet. In terms of efficiency and adaptability, it is the perfect system for new, small businesses, because they no longer have to invest in prohibitively expensive hardware solutions to things like networking. Basically, small business can rent the space and computing power that they need, and expand later when they have to. Plus, because it’s in the cloud, they can connect to this power wherever there is internet.

The Advantage of Mobile Devices

Big business used to have an advantage because all of their resources were in one place, and all of their employees could get to them. T-Mobile now offers efficient, powerful and long-lasting mobile devices as well as its ‘no reason to get stuck’ option to give small business owners the power to business from anywhere.” Connectivity is exploding in terms of efficiency and data transfer rates, so where the advantage used to come from centralized resources, now the advantage is coming from centralized communication. This is a huge shift, and one that bodes well for creative people who work hard on the go. As mobile devices get better and faster, and networks grow stronger, this is only going to benefit small businesses more.

The Advantage of Industrial Flexibility

Another part of infrastructure that often foiled small business was production and distribution. Now, however, with mobile technology, business orders can be given through third-party production and distribution companies in real-time through the cloud, and order information and navigation data happens immediately. Once again, the advantage big business had of individual factories and shipping facilities is now turning into a disadvantage, because mobile technology is setting business communication free from the shackles of time and space.

Centralizing communication, rather than centralizing resources, is at the heart of mobile development, and this is the primary reason that small business owners can take heart that with a good business plan, the opportunities for success now are much greater than they were in the past. If your idea is good, if your plan is legitimate and logical, and if you have a product or service in mind that has a target audience that is out there waiting for you, then now is the time to make use of mobile technology as its availability expands.

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Brick and Mortar Branding Works Better Than It Ever Has

When it comes to the success of your business, every business owner knows that marketing the business is a necessity. If you don’t market, your clients and customers won’t know you exist, and this will not generate any revenue.

With all the innovations in technology, most companies are starting to only focus on marketing the business on the Internet. Some are also ditching the brick and mortar office altogether and instead opting for the virtual office.

Both virtual offices and Internet marketing have their advantages, but brick and mortar branding also has plenty of advantages. If you still own a brick and mortar office, you will surely be reaping the following benefits when it comes to branding.

Brick and mortar branding proves your existence

While most people use the Internet on a daily basis, it is also home to a variety of scams. Anyone can create a website and make it seem as if they have something great to offer, but sometimes, these “businesses” are just a way for someone to take advantage of others.

With brick and mortar, you prove your company’s existence. How many scammers out there are going to pay rent on a building just to give the façade that they exist? Not many, if any at all. With a brick and mortar store, you prove your existence, and you can brand the outside of your office to prove this. Outdoor signage is a great way to tell the world who you are and what you do. This is great if your company is located near a busy intersection that may get a lot of foot or auto traffic. People will be able to see your signage, put your company’s name in the back of their mind, and then remember this information when it comes time to purchase a good or service you provide.

Brick and mortar branding improves employee morale

When the inside of your office is branded with your company’s logo, tagline, and mission, it will improve your employees’ morale. Every day, your employees will be reminded of where they work and what your company stands for, and these missions, vision, and goals will allow them to better reflect your company in their daily responsibilities. They’ll be more engaged with the company, which in turn will make them more productive and more willing to support your company when not in the office.

Brick and mortar branding markets your company

Obviously, brick and mortar branding is a marketing campaign for your business, and it works in many ways. First, if you have branded the inside of your company, then you are reminding every customer and client who walks into your building about who you are and what you do. This will make a better lasting impression on them rather than a plain office space.

You can also use brick and mortar branding as an extension of your company. For example, sticker printing labels with your company’s logo will give you a way to add your company’s seal of approval on items you either make or give away as swag. This shows your clients and customers that your items are branded and safe. For example, putting a sticker on a pen, water bottle, or even sales folder that you hand out will be an extension of your brand, and it will put your company in the minds of your potential customers and clients.

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How to Build a Very Big Company

How to Build a Billion Dollar App: Discover the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time by George Berkowski

Do you want to become a billionarie? We do. Actually some of our clients are billion dollar companies. When we reviewed Peter Thiels book, from one to zero, we were hoping we would find the answers and help some of our 10-100 million clients to become billion companies.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel suggests you should focus on next practice and create a monopoly based on something unique.

That he total net profit that you earn on average over the course of your relationship with a customer (Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV) must exceed the amount you spend on average to acquire a new customer (Customer Acquisition Cost, or CAC).

That you should only start your company with people you know very well and that purpose, cult and culture binds it all together.

To be honest, his book is near to being glib. It is only interesting because Thiel wrote it.

George Berkowski

George Berkowski also writes about how to get to a billion. But he describes the journey from idea to a billion in detail. Using his work with Hailo as the template. It is a cracker. Should be compulsive reading for every entrepreneur. For every business.

Combines the real life journey with a lot of the latest thinking on design, organisational development, data, marketing, communication, innovation, customer care, finance, fund raising. And because the talks about it in the context of apps and software it is at high speed.


Some interesting statistics about mobile

  • A typical smart phone user looks at their phone about 150 times per day’
  • The smart phone in your pocket today is about 5 times faster than a Cray-1 supercomputer (1979 vintage), and as powerful as the most powerful computer in the world in 1987.
  • A Cray-1 couldn’t make phone calls, or tell you where in the world you were standing, or tell which direction was north, or even allow you to read your email.
  • China ended 2013 with 618 million Internet users, of which 500 million were mobile Internet users.
  • In 2015, the number of smart phone users is expected to hit 2 billion.
  • Mobile now accounts for 40 per cent of time spent on social media.
  • Facebook has passed the 50 per cent mobile-usage mark and Pinterest is at 48 per cent.
  • Together, these two players are responsible for 56 per cent of social-media-generated e-commerce
  • In 2013, the average US consumer spent an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on their smart phone and tablet. That’s almost one-fifth of the time we spend with our eyes open.
  • Those consumers spend 80 per cent of that time (2 hours and 7 minutes) using apps and only 20 per cent (31 minutes) on the mobile web
  • 75 per cent of people are always within five feet of their smart phone, and 10 per cent have used one during sex.
  • Sharing information about ourselves is intrinsically rewarding and gives us a few squirts of dopamine every time we do
  • Android will run on 1.9 billion devices by the end of 2014, compared with about 700 million for Apple’s iOS operating
  •  In 2012 there were about 4,000 unique devices running Android; in 2013 it was around 12,000.
  • About 600 different companies manufactured those devices


The age of powerful, helpful, life-changing, wearable computers is upon us. From mobiles, wearables, Google glass and Oculus VR. Imagine how the world is going to look like when they reach maturity (and it will be quicker than you think, read “The second Machine age” if you don’t belief it).


Take your pick

The idea needs to be big and it needs to be global as mass appeal is a core component of far-reaching disruption. Here are 67 human univerals that are global in its appeal:

Age grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organisation, cooking, cooperative labour, cosmology (study of the universe), courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination (predicting the future), division of labour, dream interpretation, education, eschatology (what happens at the end of the world), ethics, ethno-botany (the relationship between humans and plants), etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift giving, government, greetings, hailing taxis, hairstyles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature (the system of categorising relatives), language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, pregnancy usages (childbirth rituals), penal sanctions (punishment of crimes), personal names, population policy, postnatal care, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool making, trade, visiting, weather control, weaving.

The billion dollar founder statistics

  • 0.07 per cent of funded startups become billion-dollar companies
  • Only 43 companies managed it.
  • It takes 7 years. The average age of founders is 34.
  • The average number of founders is 3.
  • They have worked together for many years before.
  • All founders have a technology background.
  • 80% had earlier start up experience.
  • 33% were from Stanford.
  • The majority of founders had a technical degree.
  • More then half are based in Silicon Valley.

The 5 business models

1. The first is gaming, where users pay for a virtual service or good.

2. The second is e-commerce / marketplace, where users pay for a real world good or service.

3. The third is advertising (or consumer audience building in the case where the company has not yet switched on the advertising).

4. The fourth is Software as a Service (SaaS), whereby users pay for cloud-based software (typically via a subscription model).

5. And the last is enterprise, whereby companies pay for larger-scale software (again, via a subscription-type model).

The first steps

Start with a big problem, a novel solution and a huge market ready to adopt it. Then build a great product that users love, and then prove they love it with data showing they are willing to pay for it. Combine that with a robust strategy that attracts users systematically and at a cost that is less than what users will potentially generate in revenue for your app.

Get out there and test your great idea for an app, put it on paper, and start getting feedback. As you flush out a great design, start prototyping it. Test all the time.

His tips at start up stage:

  • Three key roles need owners:
    • someone must lead the product vision
    • someone needs to build the technology
    • and someone needs to be focused on getting users and generating money.
  • Ideas are a penny a dozen. It’s execution that’s worth money.
  • Once you’ve combined your huge idea with a huge market, it’s time to find a cofounder. Look for chemistry, skills and passion. Get a test drive. Go on holidays together. No experts, advisors or coaches.
  • Creating the identity for your business . Creating a robust name and brand from the very beginning is critical.
  • A great name is 10 times better than a good name. First Impressions count. Is your name short, catchy and memorable? Is your name distinctive? Is your name clever? Can your name become a verb? Do you own the domain? Spend money on designing logo, branding
  • The most important question you can ask yourself, as an entrepreneur, is, How much do I want to sacrifice to achieve success?
  • The companies that generated revenues from day one are the ones who wield the real power, create the most value and, most importantly, control their own destinies.
  • To iOS or to Android? A great approach is to focus on one platform and make it a success. iOS is easier.
  • Focus only on the absolutely necessary and ensure wow. Learn from the best and study screen shots. Then
    • Start with paper and screen shot
    • Test everything
    • Map out the wire frames (and test them)
    • Test the user journey (and test them)
    • Create a slide by slide PowerPoint outline (and test them)
    • Get a designer involved
    • Translate your wireframes into pixel-perfect mockups of your app (and test them)
  • Focus on function
  • Use
  • Start coding
  • Get a user group
  • Measure
  • Test everything

The metrics

Acquisition: users downloading your app from a variety of channels and users enjoying their first ‘happy’ experience on your app;

Retention: users coming back and using your app multiple times;

Referral: users loving your app so much they refer others to download it;

Revenue: users completing actions on your app that you’re able to monetise.

CAC, or the Customer Acquisition Cost, the price you need to pay for someone to download and install your app.

CPD, the Cost Per Download.

If you’re looking for investment

  • You should be able to show a solid download-to-user-acquisition rate of around 80–90 per cent (always shoot higher).
  • You should be able to activate upwards of 50 per cent of your users.
  • In terms of retention, this depends on whether you’re a gaming app (where the leading apps keep people coming back daily) or an e-commerce app (typically, users come back 1–4 times per month).
  • You’re generally going to see only a small proportion – generally 2–5 per cent – of users who actually invite a significant number of others to download your app.
  • At this stage, any metrics around revenue are going to be great news – and a bonus.

Dealing with investors

Key lesson at this round with investors. Make sure you understand everything and don’t sign if you are not comfortable.


You now should have an app that users LOVE. That means that at least 40 per cent of users saying they would be ‘very disappointed’ without your product.

The triggers

You need to discover the triggers that drive people to want to download, use and talk about your app. Ask yourself:

  • The top five emotions you want your app to elicit
  • The top fifty words that describe your app
  • The top fifty words that describe your brand
  • The top customer needs your app satisfies and benefits it delivers • The top problems your app solves
  • The top fifty words that describe your competitors’ apps
  • The top fifty words that describe your competitors’ brands.

The engines

You now need to build the engines. The growth engine and the revenue engine. You need a systematic way to grow your user base. That involves being able to test new user-acquisition channels, test their effectiveness and then figure out what kind of lifetime value (LTV) they generate.  Similarly, you need to validate how your app is going to make revenue.

And you need to start recruiting. You need to start building a communication infrastructure. You need n organisation structure.

His learning:

  • Small teams
  • Become product centric
  • Test, try, measure
  • Say “no”, keep focus
  • Keep shipping
  • Do not outsource development
  • Get a VP of engineering
  • Always recruit
  • Kill features to find out what users really love
  • Create an organisational  DNA of customer support
  • Deliver delight
  • Use Net Promoter Score
  • The customer is always right
  • Create new metrics
    • Average transaction value  (ATV)
    • Annual revenue per user (ARPU)
    • Life time value (LTV)
    • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Share the metrics across the company
  • Don’t put in analytics too late
  • Focus on emotion (love or hate). Do not get stuck in the middle. Get a reaction.
  • Explore the new channels
  • Allocate 3 to 6 months for A round


The rule

‘Simply put, does adding $1 in sales and marketing resource generate $2+ of revenue? That means focusing on business model, profit margin and product development.

The questions

• Should I go for growth (acquire more users, generate more revenue, at the cost of profitability)?

• Should I aim for profitability (sacrifice some user and revenue growth but retain more control and potentially position myself to fund my own growth and not give away more of my company to investors)?

His tips:

  • Share and learn from your VC portfolio brothers and sisters
  • Get a VP in marketing
  • Branding becomes more important
  • Measure everything
  • Do not rely on traditional channels
  • Focus on Facebook
  • Focus on big data
  • Keep users coming
  • Measure retention
  • Build a CRM system
  • Find the fanatics
  • Stay relevant
  • Focus on empathy with your customers
  • Start focusing on internationalisation
    • Be smart in your strategy
    • Languages
    • Every character on the screen counts
    • Look at China
  • Create a playbook
  • Ensure your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to be less than your lifetime value (LTV)
  • Focus on virality
    • Your viral coefficient, K = X × Y × Z, where:
      • X is the percentage of users who refer or invite other users to download your app;
      • Y is the average number of people they invite (over a specific period of time);
      • Z is the percentage of people invited who download your app.
  • There is another metric that affects your virality: cycle time. This is the average amount of time between when an existing user initiates a ‘referral’ (invites a new user to the app), and the moment the new user downloads the app. The shorter this period is, the faster you grow
  • Hire for tomorrow, not for today
  • Know your organisational chart
  • Keep recruiting
  • Organise Friday updates
  • Organise all hands meetings
  • Create clarity on targets and goals
  • Communicate the metrics daily
  • Hire a scrum master
  • The typical timing between closing a Series A funding round and landing a Series B round is around 600 days


The moment you have been waiting for

At this point all the rules change. You have reached an inflexion point. Scaling is where you – the founder and entrepreneur – create the most value and generate financial rewards. This is, after all, the moment you have been waiting for – the time to show the world that your app can become the undisputed leader

His lessons:

  • Beware of premature scaling
  • Never hesitate to filter out the weak, under performing employees.
  • Don’t hire reactively. Hire because that’s the absolute best thing to do.
  • Over-invest in your management team.
  • Craft a clear vision for what an optimal organisation would be like to take your company global, which helps to recruit the right people into the right roles.
  • Hire big hitters
  • Scale the marketing team
  • Delve deep in the data
  • Your business model will start blurring (online goes off line)
  • Always be recruiting
  • Scale engineering
  • Keep product centric
  • Don’t organise around technology or skills or functions
  • Make sure that you build teams into self-empowered squads or units
  • Apply the two pizza rule
  • Invest in people, not infrastructure.
  •  Hold out for exceptional engineers, the 10x employees, the ones who deliver above and beyond.
  • For all future hires, no matter for what team, the final say would be made by a senior executive with this ‘power of hire’. This ensured that there was an incredibly high – and consistent – bar for hiring.
  • Fire quick
  • Have an onboarding programme
  • Communication is key
  • Understand the difference between makers and managers
    • Minimise meetings
    • Meetings disrupt makers   
    • Facebook has a loose policy called ‘No-Meeting Wednesday’
    • Have a meeting policy and schedule
  • Things that work well at small-scale tend to break at large-scale
  • You need to instrument your system so you can see when things are reaching the breaking point well before they break.
  • There is always one problematic component in a system that causes the majority of the scaling problems and must be rewritten
  • Loose coupling of components is critical. Blameless postmortems are the key
  • Overreacting to a crisis is likely to make it worse.
  • Overbuilt systems are hard to implement, manage and scale.


And this is where it gets interesting…..

You need to keep tuning your business model, you need to keep your users ecstatically happy and you need to look out for disruptive innovation. But what is the key lesson?


Culture, culture, culture. Your advantage is not the hardware. It is your people. So how do you create culture at scale.?You start at the beginning (at start up). You lead by example. You recruit on cultural fit and passion. You recruit the best. You are transparent. You deliver the perks. You let them to get on with it.

More metrics

And the proof is in the metrics. The revenue per employee of Netflix is $ 2.2 mln, the profit per employee for Apple is $ 460,000. So they can afford to hire the best. And keep the best by allowing to play.


Telling your staff that the company is a playground (a well kitted out one), for them to solve meaningful problems, that is the ultimate retention tool.

Other billion dollar CEOs

He finished with advice from other billion companies:

  • Delegate, Spread the load at high growth
  • Make decisions fast. It is about momentum
  • Vision and mission statements are important
  • You need entrepreneurs, producers, administrators and integrators on your management team   
  • Be totally transparent
  • Start reading to learn
  • Hire only people who you want in your top 10, even if it number 400 in your company
  • Open communication
  • Create serendipity

In summary

His summary at the end, which is not far off from Peter Thiel:

  1. Build a truly great product
  2. Hire the best and infect people with your vision and mission
  3. Develop a solid business model
  4. Excellence is a product of practice

Steve Jobs

The last page is a quote from Steve Jobs.

Do what you believe is great work. Love your work. Don’t settle.

Other books we covered with Bookbuzz

Everything in this book confirms a lot of thinking that has been described in the many books we have covered in Bookbuzz

  • Overconnected (designed for delight)
  • Digital disruption (platforms)
  • Power brands (marketing)
  • Metaskills (makers and design)
  • How Google works (HR)
  • The Alliance (HR)
  • The Thank You Economy (Culture)
  • Delivering happiness (Customer service)
  • Talent masters (Talent)
  • Reinventing organisations (organisation structure)
  • Do it! (move)

A cracker

And I can go on. An absolute cracker. By a guy who has been there and not only bought the T-shirt, he wore it.

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Start Your Own Business Without Leaving the House!

Whether you are living in a rented house in the Florida Keys, or own one of the beautiful condos in Montreal, it is possible for anyone to start their own business without even leaving the house.  During the recession, many working age people decided to start a home based business in order to make ends meet, and now they are reaping the benefits of their hard work.  If you think working from home sound like the ideal solution to your financial worries, keep reading for some tips.  This article aims to help you start your own business from the comfort of your own home.

Start Small

It’s tempting to throw a lot of money at a business in order to get it started.  However, it’s a much better idea to start small with low overheads, especially if you won’t necessarily be making a wage for a few months.  A laptop on a kitchen table can be the perfect work desk (at least at first), and your spare room could be the ideal stock room.  Many of the world’s biggest companies started off in the same way: Marks & Spencer’s started off on a market stall, whilst Laura Ashley began on her kitchen table.

Agree Payment Terms

Don’t expect people to pay you on time, as it’s common for companies (especially big businesses) to take their time with payments.  It’s a much better idea to agree payment terms before you begin any work.  If you are building a website for someone, for example, you could ask for 50% of the payment upfront, and the remainder upon delivery of the website.  If you are happy to wait until after you have completed the work, make sure your client’s know when you expect payment to be made, and what the consequences will be for ignoring your payment rules.

Plan Your Finances

No matter what type of business you are running, it’s important to plan everything.  Even if you’re only setting yourself up as a freelancer, you need to have a good idea of how much money you expect to make each month, and how much your outgoings will be.  It can be tough to estimate sales when you’re just starting out, but once you have been working for a month or two, you should have a much better idea of what to expect.  Where possible, try to avoid borrowing money unless you are sure you can pay it back.

Don’t Forget to Market

Marketing can be challenging for home based business owners, so this is one area that is worth investing in.  Marketing is one area where you need to spend money to make money, and you’ll really appreciate the constant workflow that you attract.  Failing to market yourself correctly could lead to huge gaps in your business’ cash flow, especially if you have to spend hours every day looking for new work.  Market your business daily, and you should find that you have a steady stream of custom.

Every home based business requires a significant time investment, but if you have the motivation, you can make it work.  Good luck!

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Why Upgrade Your ERP System

SO, why upgrade your ERP system? ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are a major investment for any business. After the initial investment, making the decision of when and how to update the existing system can be a daunting task. When assessing the need to make such a sizeable investment, it is important to consider the business implications of such a decision.

What will your company gain? How many more years of working life does the system have? What types of updates are needed? Questions like these can help clarify to size and necessity of the updates. Periodically, though, it is important that companies perform some types of updates on their ERP systems for a variety of reasons, four of which will be outlined in more detail below.

Maximize the lifespan

With a typical lifespan of 15-20 years, ERP systems allow an organization to manage and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. The benefits of integrating all facets of business operations can be enjoyed for years but, in order to ensure the system continues functioning at a high level, it is important to perform periodic updates over the course of the system’s life. Without such updates, the lifespan can be reduced by as much as half. Considering that the initial investment in a new ERP system is more costly than periodic updates, it is financially more feasible to update the system as needed and maximize the lifespan of the technology.

Meet business objectives

ERP systems are designed and tailored based on the goals of the company. When your company initially invested in the system, it may have had only short-term, only long-term or other types of objectives it wanted to meet. Now, years down the road, it is important to reassess the strategy of the business to ensure that the ERP system continues to align with it and position the company to meet its objectives. If the objectives, or the strategy implemented to meet those objectives, have changed then it is important to upgrade the ERP system accordingly.

Maintain the bottom line

In business, everything comes down to the bottom line. By quantifying the effects of keeping your old system, investing in a brand new one or updating the existing one, you can make a cost-based decision that best aligns with your company’s budget and strategy. The long-term costs of ERP systems can be kept from ballooning out of control by performing updates to the system along the way. Instead of investing in and implementing a brand new software program every few years, focus on the bottom line and reduce your company’s overall investment in the software by updating your existing program.

Assess business opportunities

As mentioned in the previous section, a cost analysis can be critical to making a decision on updating your ERP software. In this process, it is easy to skimp out on a necessary purchase for the sake of saving a few dollars. For this reason, companies should keep in mind other opportunities that can arise from investing in an upgrade of the system. Potential benefits for your business may include increased communication, efficiency, productivity and visibility of day-to-day operations. In this streamlining process, businesses often see reductions in overall costs across the organization that make the upgrade in the ERP system worthwhile.

These are just four of the main reasons companies have cited for upgrading their existing ERP systems. Once they have justified their investment, usually with one of these four reasons, they can begin to consider exactly how they will implement the changes. From consolidating all systems to the same provider to eliminating obsolete reports to including data archives, there are a variety of ways to include upgrades into an existing ERP system.

In the end, a company needs to be clear from the start about exactly what they need from their ERP system. With an ERP strategy in place, it will make it easier for businesses to know the proper timing for an ERP upgrade in the future. Upgrading your systems can be daunting but, by following your company’s strategy and the four justified reasons to upgrade listed above, your business is well positioned to make the best decision possible.

Bio: Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek.

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Health and Wellbeing Apps for Small Business

If you are a small business looking to make big changes to the health and wellbeing of yourself and your staff, utilising your smartphone and some of the smarter startup tech products out there could be the answer. Keeping staff motivated and productive can often come down to allowing them to embrace healthy lifestyles both in the office and at home. There are many health and wellbeing apps available with that cause in mind, and here we discuss a few of them that can help keep bodies healthy and minds active so you can build your small business into exactly what you want it to be.


Corporate physiotherapy is an important part of ensuring employees reach their maximum potential. Many physical ailments and muscle problems could be the result of a poorly maintained office and lack of ergonomics knowledge (fitting the job to the worker). So many things can affect the physicality of workers, from having a chair and desk at the wrong height to the discomfort of uniforms or dress codes.

The app, priced at $9.99 is one of the most popular and has received good reviews from users and professional physiotherapists alike – in fact, we have two to share, one is available here.

With an easy-to-use interface and good for therapeutic intervention, this app is great for use by workers who may suffer from any form of back pain. After a brief questionnaire, the app completes an exercise regime which can be done at home or perhaps on a lunch break. The exercises are demonstrated by a 3D animated model showing users how to do them properly in order to not cause more damage to the back.

Corporate physiotherapists also recommend this app because of its simplicity and ability to be used both at work and at home. Alex Bell from tested iRehab and said, “This app is great for people suffering from mild back pain at work. The look of it is simple and easy-to-use, however the exercises are in-depth and allow for progression making it an all-round success for those who want to gain more flexibility and lessen everyday pain in the back.”


We all know how difficult in can be to keep concentration up at work. Whether you work in an office or a shop, you are usually no more than a few clicks away from an entire realm of social distraction. There has long been a problem with staff checking their social media sites during work hours which can lead to another site and then another site until an hour has gone past and the most you have to show for it is a not-so-funny picture of a cat in a waistcoat…

With the problem is blocked completely and quite literally. This program is available for computers as a stand alone application and works by blocking all social media sites completely for a set amount of time determined by the worker. For a cost of $15 the user can choose from up to 30 social networking sites to block, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit, and they can be blocked from between 15 minutes and eight hours! There is absolutely no way to unblock the sites (the program creators say this is “keeping you honest”) unless the computer or smartphone is completely rebooted. This stops workers from having the day to day distractions that can waste so much time and allows them instead, to improve concentration by giving staff no other option than to work!


Once staff have worked on their concentration, it is time to make sure they have the motivation at work to their full potential. Small businesses often have less money to spend on employee engagement techniques such as staff parties, salary incentives for improved work or the potential for flexible working to increase intrinsic motivation.

If money is tight therefore, there are apps available for staff to use in order to reach both their work and personal goals. is a free app designed to help motivate people in all aspects of life, from being better at work to losing weight. The app works by getting users to input personal goals and offering many levels of motivation including day to day advice, community motivation in the form of cheers and the recording of each milestone you complete. There is also the option to request a personal coach from one of the app’s long list of professional helpers, and will helpfully prompt users to keep on trying and not let them forget the important goals they have set themselves.

This app is great for small businesses as staff can set the same work-based goals and pull together to ensure they are achieved, additionally should you work alone, the app can help you push forward with those lower priority goals that are just too easy to palm off.

Human Resources

Another issue that some small businesses face, particularly those with just a few staff members, is the lack of a dedicated human resources department. Although the team may be small, managing staff requests such as holiday or sickness and individual project deadlines can be tough. There are many apps to help with HR needs, but Lemigo HR is one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly apps available…or will be when it’s in the app store! It’s currently in beta and you can get it now by registering on the site.

The app allows for so many aspects of running a team of workers, including holiday, employee and project management, as well as recording shift patterns and rotas and salary tracking. It also charts statistics about various aspects of the business letting bosses know areas that need improving as well as worker trends. With detailed information served to managers in a simple design, it is the perfect app for emerging businesses, giving them the same tools as larger corporations who have HR departments. This means a small business can offer big things for less money, which can then be put in to other areas of the business.

We all know there is an app or digital solution for pretty much everything these days, but they do not all have to be social. With the aforementioned apps, whole teams of workers can enjoy the daily grind more. They can be comfortable in a physical sense, reducing any pain and discomfort, but also in a mental sense. Using these apps can offer small businesses the chance to maintain excellent standards of work while allowing attention to be given to other areas, inciting growth and development of both the company and those who work for it.

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5 Must-Have Apps for Entrepreneurs

Part of an entrepreneur’s job is being able to do everything. From accounting, to marketing, to sales; when you are the business you have to do it all. Even for the most capable, this is no mean feat.

Fortunately, we live in an age of technological wonder where digital devices and apps can streamline many of these tasks. With these jobs taken care of, digital entrepreneurs are free to build better businesses, faster.

These are 5 apps for entrepreneurs that can pave the path to success in the digital realm at least!


Digestible Analytics

Google Analytics is a great and comprehensive platform that provides deep drill downs and an incredible array of data. But sometimes that data can be overwhelming and the layout can make it difficult to find what you want when you want it.

Clicky serves up your analytics data in real time and in an easy to read format. It also provides heat maps of your website so you can see how your site’s layout is working and how it can be improved.


Conversational Collaboration

Whether working with your new team or with other start-ups, collaboration is a vital part of getting a business up and running. Streamlining and simplifying that collaboration process is just as important. Slack provides an intuitive, informal interface that makes communication on a project clear and concise.

One of the additional benefits of Slack is that many of the other apps and programs you use such as Mailchimp, Google Drive and Twitter integrate seamlessly with your conversations.


Simple Visual Project Management

Trello is another app that integrates into Slack. It uses a clean, crisp drag and drop style interface that syncs across platforms and users. Like a digital version of the Kanban card system on which the Agile Development Process is based, Trello lets you add images, files and lists to each card on a board.

Even seemingly simple projects can spiral out of control if not managed properly. Trello is the perfect app for keeping track of your projects’ progress.


Streamlined Invoicing

Part of being an entrepreneur is (eventually) making money from your business. At some point that will involve a lot of invoicing. It can be a tedious task that can also consume a lot of your time, time that could be spent far more productively.

Wave is an app designed to simplify invoicing and receipts. As part of a larger, integrated cloud accounting suite Wave not only makes compiling and sending invoices simple it also lets you know when they have been paid or when they are overdue.


Social CRM

One of the bigger challenges faced by digital entrepreneurs is Customer Relationship Management. You may have had a successful weekend at a convention, collecting hundreds of business cards and email addresses, but capitalising on that list requires a real, concerted effort.

Batchbook not only provides a great way to pull together your client list into a meaningful, useful asset but it also draws information from your social media networks. You can create custom databases of meta information around your contact list using tags and easily keep track of important on-line conversations with clients.

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