Thursday, September 23, 2010

Before launching a startup

Look within and ask these three basic questions before starting a small business of your own:

•Do you really want to operate independently and be the person making all the decisions and shouldering all the responsibility?

•Are you willing to work hard and make the sacrifices starting a small business entails?

•Do you have the self-confidence and self-discipline that will enable you to persevere and build your new enterprise into a success?

If you have answered "no" to any of these, you're probably not ready for starting a small business.

Have you demonstrated the following essential entreprenurial qualities ?

The seven most highly ranked qualities were perseverance, the desire and willingness to take the initiative, competitiveness, self-reliance, a strong need to achieve, self-confidence, and good physical health (William E. Jennings, "A Profile of the Entrepreneur" in Entrepreneurship: A Primer for Canadians).

If you have answered yes, and written the successful stories when you have demonstrated these qualities, whether it is in business or raising kids or in other life challenging situations, then ......

What is the real problem you are solving for the marketplace?

When you have completly satisfied yourself that you are ready, willing and able, then you are ready to assess the business aspects of your idea.

Arete Consulting can help you each step through the Start-up "fog" from researching and validating market demand , to distribution channels and evaluating and attracting a management team.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

top social neetworking sites

Top 10 Social Networking Sites in China

CR-Nielsen has published the latest statistics of the most popular social networking services websites in China with topping the ranking list by weekly independent visits of 14 million people.

1. - 14 million unique users visit per week
2. - 9.5 million
3. - 7 million
4. - 3.5 million
5. - 2 million
6. - 1 million
7. - 1 million
8. - 1 million
9. - 900k - 800k

Tencent's SNS website Q-zone, which claims to have over 200 million users every month is not included in the top ten SNS websites in China.

State of the net

“State of the Internet” report highlights Internet trends worldwide, including strong growth in Asian usage, in social networking, video entertainment and in Google’s dominance of search.

In 1996, two-thirds of the world’s online population was in the United States; now, the U.S. accounts for only 21% of worldwide users, comScore notes. Internet usage in Asia and the Pacific rose 14% in the last year and will account for 42% of users in two years.

The total number of internet users worldwide is projected to reach $1 billion by March 2010: 4 out of every 10 will be in Asia, and only 2 out of 10 will be in North America.

There are 77.5 million more Internet users today than this time last year

Other key findings from the report:

China and South Korea are already seeing local providers give U.S. sites a run for their money – language may be part of the challenge, but also cultural preferences.
Broadband is driving faster usage growth outside the U.S. New adopters, particularly in emerging countries, are bypassing outmoded narrowband connections and going straight to high bandwidth.
Broadband facilitates multimedia and online entertainment, and those two categories will only continue to grow as the world online population grows – Witness Youtube.
Communication tools, e-mail and IM, are still the killer category of usage in all regions, followed by Social Connections and Multimedia Entertainment.
Travel and E-commerce are virtually non-existent outside of the developed world. Growth will take off once the proper infrastructure is developed, primarily in Asia Pacific.
Portals and vertical content categories, such as finance, health, autos, etc… enjoy moderate growth rates in the mid-teens.
Google is the dominant search brand in most countries, including most of Europe and Latin America, with a few significant exceptions — countries where Chinese, Korean, and Russian languages dominate.
Chinese language search engine Baidu currently ranks #3 in worldwide search market share, behind Google and Yahoo!
The number of worldwide visitors to social networking sites has grown 34 percent in the past year to 530 million, representing approximately 2 out of every 3 Internet users. MySpace and Facebook are in a tight battle for the global leadership position, each attracting more than 100 million visitors per month.
Online video has become the dominant online entertainment format, led by the global popularity of YouTube with more than 250 million visitors in January.
The Internet has become an important source of news for most Web users. The top 10 global news brands show great diversity between country of origin, including the U.S., U.K., China and South Korea.
Ad Networks are necessary for large players to expand the depth of their effective reach and will be increasingly gaining momentum, somewhat at the expense of branded sites.
The Ad Network consolidation race will soon turn global given the size of international audiences that could be aggregated.
The web already delivers 40% more advertising Gross Ratings Points than TV in the US, and more than twice as many ad impressions per user.
Online Video is growing fast, but still faces significant challenges of scale and monetization.
The Mobile Web is coming and will be a substantial source of usage with high speed access and friendlier devices. It is possible for it to eclipse the PC based web outside theUnited States.
A combined Yahoo! and Microsoft would reach over 173 million unique visitors (94% of the US audience), but would still be a distant second in search.
The full report

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Content created by National Science Foundation

Los Angeles, CA—Creativity can be enhanced by experiencing cultures different from one's own, according to a study inPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin (published by SAGE).
Three studies looked at students who had lived abroad and those who hadn't, testing them on different aspects of creativity. Relative to a control group, which hadn't experienced a different culture, participants in the different culture group provided more evidence of creativity in various standard tests of the trait. Those results suggest that multicultural learning is a critical component of the adaptation process, acting as a creativity catalyst.
The researchers believe that the key to the enhanced creativity was related to the students' open-minded approach in adapting to the new culture. In a global world, where more people are able to acquire multicultural experiences than ever before, this research indicates that living abroad can be even more beneficial than previously thought.
"Given the literature on structural changes in the brain that occur during intensive learning experiences, it would be worthwhile to explore whether neurological changes occur within the creative process during intensive foreign culture experiences," write the authors, William W. Maddux, Hajo Adam, and Adam D. Galinsky. "That can help paint a more nuanced picture of how foreign culture experiences may not only enhance creativity but also, perhaps literally, as well as figuratively, broaden the mind.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some reasons why small businesses fail

Here are 14 top reasons, which might help you to determine why your business isn't growing and thriving. Some of them are related to learnable business skills; others relate to personal attitudes, habits, or self-sabotaging belief, which are not so easy to change, except through coaching or other self-development work.

  1. Mistaking a business for a hobby: Just because you love something doesn't mean you should convert it into a business. Too often businesses fail because the owner feels their passion is shared by others. Research your business idea and make sure it's viable.

  2. Poor planning: Yes, you must have a business plan. It can be a simple three-page plan or a huge 40-page plan. The point is that you've looked at all the aspects of your business and are prepared to handle problems when they arise. Your business plan helps you to focus on your goals and your vision, as well as setting out plans to accomplishing them. And don't get mellow – revisit and revise your business plan annually.

  3. Entrepreneurial excitement: Entrepreneurs often get excited about new ideas, but are unable to determine if they're "true opportunities" and/or put them into practice. Test every new idea against your business plan and mission statement before deciding whether to undertake it or not, and ask yourself, Do I have the time and skill to implement this?

  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket: Too often, small business owners will have just one product, one service or one big client. They cling tight to this one thing because it brings in good revenue. But what if the one thing disappears? Variety and diversification will cushion you against the ebb and flow of business tides.

  5. Poor record keeping and financial controls: Yes, you have to keep financial and business records, you have to review your revenue and expense report each month, and you have to file taxes and other business-related filings. If you don't know how to do these, or don't want to, get help from someone who does.

  6. Lack of experience in running a business or in the industry you're entering: There are so many hats you have to wear, from marketing and selling in order to run a business effectively. On top of that, you have to understand your industry, the skills required to offer your products and services, and the trends in the industry. If you don't know about these basic skills, educate yourself. Talk to others who are successfully running their own businesses, talk to industry leaders, get a book, find a website, get a coach, do your homework. And keep increasing your business and industry skills by attending classes or reading new books every year.

  7. Poor money management: You need to be able to live for one to two years without income when getting started; often businesses are very slow to get off the ground. Also, you have to create and use a realistic business budget, and not constantly drain the business income on personal spending.

  8. Wrong location: If your business runs out of commercial space, you need to make sure that you are convenient to your customers, and near to your suppliers and your employees.

  9. Competition: Customers will go where they can find the best products and services. It's important for you to know who your competition is, what they have to offer, and what makes your own products or services better.

  10. Procrastination and poor time management: Putting off tasks that you don't enjoy will sink your business faster than anything else. You can't afford to waste time on unimportant tasks while critical tasks pile up. All tasks need to be done; if you don't like to do them (or don't want to spend your time doing them), hire someone to do them for you. If your time management and prioritizing skills are rusty, hire a small business coach or take a class to help you.

  11. Ineffective marketing: Learn the basics of marketing and make sure that you track the success or failure of each marketing technique you use, then dump those that aren't working.

  12. Ineffective sales techniques: Once you have a potential client, you have to know how to lead them down the sales path. If you don't understand the basics of selling, get some education on it immediately. If a selling technique doesn't work, try another one.

  13. Poor customer service: Once you have a customer, you have to keep them. There are two key points here – make sure you pay attention to what the customer wants (and how these wants can change over time), and make sure you provide quick return of phone calls and emails, proper billing, win-win problem solving and an overall pleasant demeanor.

  14. Entrepreneurial burnout: owning your own business requires a huge investment of time, money, energy and emotion. It's easy to work long days and forget to take time off. But in the end, this only causes burnout where your motivation and creativity will suffer, and a pessimistic attitude prevails. You'll find yourself unable to balance your business and personal life, and both will suffer. Schedule self-care time into your work week and be religious about taking time off from your business

Small Business Failure Rate

William Dennis, senior research fellow for the National Federation of Independent Business' Education Foundation, analyzes a survey of 36,000 households each year for the Wells Fargo/NFIB Series on Business Starts and Stops. The latest one, available on the NFIB's Web site,, reported that 2.9 million businesses were launched in 1997, involving nearly 4 million people. Another 1 million people purchased 700,000 existing businesses that year.

The data showed that most new businesses are very small. More than two-thirds start in the owner's home, and only 21% initially employ someone besides the owner, says Dennis, who will release the 1998 report shortly. He doesn't track startups by industry category.

For business terminations, the Wells Fargo/NFIB study uses data of the U.S. Census Bureau, which only records closures of companies with employees. Those statistics show that about half of businesses that employ people are still operating five years after they open. "I feel good about the accuracy of the startup numbers," Dennis says, "but there are undoubtedly a lot of underreported stops."

The NFIB estimates that over the lifetime of a business, 39% are profitable, 30% break even, and 30% lose money, with 1% falling in the "unable to determine" category. Even when a business closes its doors, there can be many reasons for what's statistically a "failure," including a sale or merger, which may actually be a sign of robust financial health or good prospects. "When a business ends, it may be because the investors have lost their investments or because they have sold out profitably," Dennis notes.

The premise that there are many reasons -- not all of them bad -- for business closures, was behind a study by John Watson and Jim E. Everett published in the Journal of Small Business Management in October, 1996. The authors studied 5,196 startups in 51 managed shopping centers across Australia between 1961 and 1990 to try to determine true failure rates, because they felt that bankers and venture capitalists were basing negative views of small companies on dubious statistics.

Their data showed that annual failure rates were greater than 9% when failure was defined simply as "discontinuance of ownership." When failure was defined as bankruptcy, however, the number dropped to less than 1% annually. About 4% of the businesses that closed their doors each year "failed to make a go of it." And owners disposed of about 2% of businesses annually to prevent further loss. The authors concluded that cumulatively 64.2% of the businesses failed in a 10-year period -- if failure was measured as discontinuance of ownership -- but only 5.3% actually filed for bankruptcy during a decade.