Start Up Blog

Simple startup advice – Ben & Jerry’s

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 25, 2009

Today I was fortunate enough to meet Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Jerry is not only a smart guy, but a nice one too. I asked him one simple question for entrepreneurs and here’s what he had to say:

(More detailed insight will be the topic of subsequent blog entries)

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How to make a sales call

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 29, 2009

Today I was out making sales calls in my local industrial area where there are a lot of different rental companies. Idea being to get these rental / hire companies using rentoid.com to generate extra business. The timing is good, because we have a zero cost entry platform and times are tough in the B to B arena.

But the thing that really matters is how I’ve been making the sales calls. Firstly, these guys are B to B, trades focused guys. renting mainly industrial equipment. The last thing they want to some tech / web geek give them bullshit about how the internet is going to save them…. So here’s what I’ve done instead:

  1. I haven’t shaved for 3 days – got a good beard growing. I’m wearing jeans and boots with a fairly standard zip up jumper. When I walk in I look like a customer, in fact I look like they do. I’m less threatening and this is obvious with the positive greetings I’m receiving.
  2. When I drop in (remember it’s a cold call) I say, ‘You know I live around the corner, I drive past here everyday and I’ve been meaning to drop in for ages. You know I’ve got web business which is all about rental companies…..” And I do live close enough to use this line. It is genuine.
  3. The F Bomb – Yep, I’m dropping this one big time – for one simple reason – they are. I’ll use whatever language they use. If they like swearing, so do I. I’m matching their culture in dress and language.
  4. I know their business. I don’t walk in and say ‘So tell me about your business’ – I do my homework before I turn up. Granted I know enough about the rental industry now to adapt to different segments pretty quick. I know what matters to them and get the conversation into that area quickly.
  5. I don’t try and sell anything on the first call. We do have a free entry to rentoid – but we also sell integrated web technologies. But I don’t try to sell anything.  Just get them to like me in fact, I’m selling me. People buy things from people they like. Then they find a logical or business reason to justify their decision after they’ve already made it.
  6. I follow up with whatever I promise. Information, phone calls, data whatever they need. I try to show I’ll be a valuable resource.
  7. I get rejected too. It’s a numbers game, and each rejection is a lesson for honing my skills for the next call.

I’m learning heaps and I’m loving it.

Start up blog says – get out there and start selling.

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10 steps to web start up

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 2, 2009

It’s never been cheaper to start a business in the history of man. Especially on line. Startup guru Guy Kawasaki proved it with his $12,000 example for www.trumours.com – But startup blog says you can do it for pretty close to zero. In the spirit of sharing here’s the startup blog list of the 10 things you need to get started, and resources to help perform these necessary tasks.

  1. Idea generating – Ideas these days are free and omnipresent. Steal ideas from www.springwise.com or www.idea-a-day.com – Just take one that suits you and do it. Maybe bring their idea to your geography, or just copy something already successful and do it. There is no currency in ideas. They are free. Take them. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that is the easiest part of any venture. And they are right.
  2. Name Generating – Actually your business name has nothing to do with success. There’s only two things to consider. Firstly that it’s available (.com?) and secondly that people can say it. Check out www.nameboy.com to help you generate some.
  3. Idea testing – I loved the idea from Timothy Ferriss who tested the idea for the best book name (4 hour work week won it) by using Google Adwords for the various options and seeing which one got the most clicks with certain key words. Inspired stuff. Steal his idea and use adwords to test your business proposition before investing heavily.
  4. Project Managment - Keep your project stuff all in one digital location. The crew over at 37 Signals provide some awesome tools for free in doing so. We’ve used it extensively for rentoid.com
  5. Communication – Get skype set up for all your international dealings phone calls and chats required in managing your project and team. I work with with people all over the world on rentoid and have never paid for a phone call yet. You can even get it on your iphone to make free calls from – Giddy up.
  6. Design – Don’t get stooged paying a zillion dollars for an agency to design your stuff. Leave the agency work for big companies with big budgets, you’re a bootstrapper and need to get it done cheap. But lucky for us these days cheap doesn’t have to mean crap. Check out 99 designs to get your site designed. If you need digital icons or related visuals check out istock photo for great up to date design. For pictures use Flickr creative commons.
  7. CSS (Cascading Style Cheets) – Check out slice and dice it to get your shiny new designs ready for coding.
  8. Coding / Programming - Yep, that tricky stuff which makes it all work under the website. Easy, go straight to Elance or ODesk to find coders for HTML, PHP, Rails, AJAX – anything. They’re all there waiting for your brief. (this should be the only biggish expense for your web startup – which means a few hundred dollars with a currency advantage)
  9. Payment gateway – Use paypal – free set up and the cheapest, most trusted way to accept credit cards and multiple payment forms on the internet.
  10. Promotion tools -  OK this is the stuff you’re all familiar with and using daily. So turn these fun parks into business tools by using them properly. But just choose a couple of them and use them well. My favourites are youtube, twitter, blogging (recommend wordpress).

So there you have it – web start up in 10 easy steps. Feel free to add any other cool tools and ideas in the comments.

What are you waiting for? Get started.

Steve.

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