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What are the ground rules for SMEs while dealing with the current market scenario?

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How is a service economy different from a knowledge economy?

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What technology do you find most exciting in relation to your business industry?

What technology excites you the most about your business industry? Why? I'm interested in hearing... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
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What is the focus of SME social media - the customer or the general public?

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Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
Great question. I believe it really comes down to two pieces of criteria.Who (as in what segment) is your customer?What is the purpose of the communication?If your customer is the general public you may want to make more general announcements. However, it is unlikely that the general public as a whole is your customer. Perhaps if you are a giant big box chain, but even then it is unlikely. You would typically have customer segments, potentially stratified by the range of your products or services or the prices of your goods.Getting the attention of the general public is not easy because the message must resound with everyone (not very likely). Chances are you need to focus your communication to your largest or most profitable customer segments (e.g. use social networks that the custom segment uses to send them a focused message).The purpose of the communication will also help you focus your communication. Are you trying to get customers who have previously made a purchase to make another purchase? Are you trying to reward your loyal customers? Are you trying to get new customers?Are you announcing a new product/service or an update?Are you venturing into a new industry or demographic?All of the above questions will help you focus your communication. Why focus? Using focused communication will produce a better response from customers (you are calling them to act on something). Using focused communication makes the message more personal.
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What would be the top three rules of the social media etiquette during recruitment drives?

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Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
There are many things that should be considered when recruiting on social media, but I'll stick to 3 that I would personally follow.Do not spam followers. It's okay to post a few times a day if you are trying to extend your reach over several time zones. It is not okay to annoy all the people already following you (they may bristle and decide to not to follow you anymore).Do not ask for too much personal information in a public message. Respect individual needs for privacy. There is no need for public over-sharing. If you are looking for personal details or contact information that is not readily available, use a private message or email.Engage with personality. Try to make personal and meaningful connections. Don't use stock messages. Use messages that are on point with your brand's tone and style. Start a two-way dialogue. Ask for creative responses and respond to them in a timely manner.Those would be the 3 rules I would personally follow.
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How will you adapt to market networks?

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This is a good article outlining the changes in the marketplace - http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/27/from-social-to-ma...
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Which social media channel does your business get the most engagement on?

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Karen Dauncey Owner at Blue Cherry Online Marketing
Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
We really enjoy Twitter and find it to be very engaging. The key is to put in effort to make tweets a dialogue. Ask questions. Respond to others you follow or that just post interesting and related content. There is nothing wrong with streamlining your posting process, but don't work toward total automation. It's about thoughtful conversation.LinkedIn groups are also very useful in the same way. You can learn a lot by lurking and just reading the content, but you'll get much more out of participating.The last network I'll mention is focused more at Entrepreneurs and Startups (however, you can just join as an individual). It's called Teamstory (currently only on iPhone but they are looking to expand). If you are looking for feedback from other entrepreneurs or just looking to connect with others going through the same struggles, it's a great place to checkout.Lastly, I'm going to double down on saying approach social networks as two-way conversation (not a rant, monologue or diatribe). It is called Social media for a reason, so be social.
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What business issue is keeping you up at night?

I'm certain that no matter how well your business is currently doing, there is probably something... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
Michael MartionOwner at StartRight Accounting (Insignia Accounting & Consulting)
How to get some certainty over my cash-flow; how I can know I will get $X revenue each and every month.
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What would you value more an investor or a knowledgeable cofounder? Why?

Often a venture needs both, but which would you prefer? Think about the pros and cons that may... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
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Do you adjust your marketing and advertising efforts seasonally?

Do you adjust the feel, voice or imagery for your marketing and advertising efforts as seasons... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
David BobisOwner at Studio Culture
We do a bit of both, depending on the goals of the client and changes in the market. With some clients we provide our SEO services with, for instance, we come up with an overarching plan that does consider seasonal changes (we look at the months search terms are popular, for example, and create content and inbound marketing strategies that are relevant accordingly). Sometimes, markets change, so we don't always stick to our seasonal plan.
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How do you split out your time daily?

Do you have a repeatable daily schedule or do you approach every day as something new? Do you spend... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
Yee TrinhMarketing Manager at SavvySME
I like to have a routine day to day, but it's hard getting into a routine. I don't sleep much. ~5hours/day. I should sleep more but I like to get up early, get some exercise in, sort out the important emails and prioritise calendar tasks for the day. Ideally, I'll do the tasks that require significant thought early on in the day and do less cerebral work later on as I lose energy, but that doesn't always happen.
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Can anyone suggest the best products to sell online?

I am a big fan of your website and have great admiration for how you have successful converted your... read more

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Yep great answers, passion and niche as already mentioned are key. You need to stand out from the competition and when you are niche you have less competition so easier to grow into that market. One more I would add is know your products and their market. Don't just sell camping equipment if you have never been camping for example.It really is very easy to sell anything online, but knowing your products inside out is essential to be able to build confidence with your customers and allow you to sell the right products rather than the most profitable products.A customer who spends $500 and gets something that perfectly matches their needs is much happier than a customer that spends $1000 which doesn't do everything they want. The $500 will come back and tell their friends.
Nicole McIverOwner at Nicole McIver
My suggestion is selling something you are passionate about, you will do much better and your job will be easier and more enjoyable if your selling a product you are truly passionate about. Find your niche and stick to it.There is also LOTS of brands overseas thats are freaking awesome that arent in Australia yet, find something new, unique and super cool and import it and get distribution rights to it in AU.If you have any further questions email me :)
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Is eBay shipping emails via MailChimp a normal practice?

Hi, I have a large eBay store and wish to send shipping emails via Mailchimp to help with info and... read more

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Peter Jones Founder at LinkSmart
Tim DaviesOwner at ZELLIS
Hi Peter. There's nothing to stop you communicating with eBay buyers via MailChimp, providing it is directly related to the transaction itself. However the eBay User Agreement and Spam Act 2003 both prohibit you adding other eBay members' contact details to your off-eBay database for marketing purposes unless they opt-in (after you have invited them once and once only). Even if you use MailChimp to communicate with your eBay buyers, make sure you use eBay Messages for any dialogue relating to the transaction which eBay can then use to assist you in the event a transaction turns sour. When it comes to Seller Protection, eBay will not acknowledge or rely on communications which they cannot verify within their system.Hope that helps.Tim
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Do you see the need for a writing coach?

I'm wondering if business professionals would be interested in getting coaching for writing a book.... read more

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Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
Jennifer,I think that is an interesting proposition. I know that having a writing coach is beneficial to a professional at any career level (but especially to higher level business executives). I'm less sure of how many professionals are interested in writing and selling a book. Is that a fairly big target market / demographic?I think the idea you have is sound. I'm not sure about the pricing because that may depend more on your target audience and location. It doesn't sound like a terribly high price, but I would test that with potential clients (to help ensure you finding the pricing sweet spot).I also believe that you may need to educate (via a website or video) the benefits that writing a book could have on their career. I think proper positioning of this will go a long way in growing the client base. There may be interested professionals that aren't really sure if their topic or approach would be embraced. Perhaps they don't know where to begin the process.I would do some research with your intended customer base to validate the pricing. The rest of the idea sounds solid to me.
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How long were you in business before the website you launched with needed a complete redesign?

Two years? One year? Six months? What changed about your business to make a redesign necessary? Was... read more

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I am about to redesign my site for the third (? fourth maybe?) time in 15 months. It is not giving me the results I am after, I am DIYing, constantly learning and evolving, and while I was happy with my site 6 months ago, now I realise how much better it can be. Also, I will be launchign my first Google Adwords campaign later in the year so will optimise the site for that too.
Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
Steve,I think you touched a variety of reasons that websites should be updated. My bias will come through on cost, because any updates we make to ours are made by myself or my co-founder (so it is really just time spent for us).The reasons we've changed our sites in the past do include, shifting our focus, tweaking our demographic and coming up with a better idea on how to present the content and information.I believe that the reason so many websites aren't up-to-date or accurate can happen do to cost. Small budgets make it hard to justify a website refresh if they have no assurance it'll drive more traffic and create more sales. Other ventures may not give enough thought to their website and the frequency at which it should be updated. This may happen because of a small team that is covering a lot of work that is more directly tied to sales or profit. It could also result from a mostly offline venture not understanding the value of their online presence.I think it is important that anytime you create a new product or service or even make noticeable modifications to your existing business, review your site to see if it still reflects the right message. Revisiting should be done for all key moments. Do you have your team posted (is it up to date)? What about product shots? Press Releases? When something major changes, revisit your current website.Look for clues that would show clients and/or customers you haven't updated your site in a while. Do you still have job openings posted from 6 months to a year ago? If they were filled remove them. If they weren't filled, revisit the job post, refresh it and repost with an updated date. Eliminate things that will make your clients and customers see your website as a virtual ghost town.
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What would you like me to write about for SavvySME?

Next week I will be putting together my writing strategy for March and April, so I am wondering,... read more

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Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
I know that it is important to have clearly written contracts and agreements, but when disagreements arise would it be wise to have them drawn up and signed as an audit trail to limit the same problem from resurfacing at a later time? If that is the case, would it be wise to have a third-party or notary sign-off on the disagreement document as well? I think knowing more about that would be helpful (at least for myself).
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Where do you see Vinomofo in the next 5 years?

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Charlene Sampilo Customer Service at SavvySME
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After you've conquered the world of wine, which industry do you see potential for disruption?

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Yee Trinh Marketing Manager at SavvySME
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How do you know when it's time to let an idea die, rather than pursuing it?

Have you ever had a business idea that you kept coming back to, but seemed like it was never going... read more

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Hi Suzie, This happens not just with business ideas but lots of other things in life too. Are you talking about something you are deciding to 'let go of' because it is not working? Or an idea you just can't seem to shake?Warmly, Lisa
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
That is a great question but an incredibly hard one to answer because it depends on so many different factors. However I do believe there is a time for ideas. Think about it like you’re a surfer catching a wave… You go out too early and it doesn’t matter how much you paddle, you have to wait for the wave to catch up. I’ve had a few of these... Get in just as the wave hits and it’s much easier to catch. First mover advantage in a market is awesome. You obviously still need to deliver a great product, make good decisions and have a little bit of luck along the way but there are far less obstacles. This was Vinomofo. Catch the wave late and it’s steep and harder to pull off. Think more competition, noise and expense. Miss the wave and no matter how hard you paddle, it’s gone. Think saturated market. A good time to start looking at how you can disrupt the space :) The above is easy to say in hindsight but if you keep an eye on markets and spaces around the world, you can start to spot trends and may just be able to pick the next wave. Hope that helps!
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How did you score such an amazing co-founder?

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Andre Eikmeier at Vinomofo
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
Haha get off the site Andre. I obviously found one with plenty of time on his hands... And get back to work Chris :)
Chris CoffeyGeneral Mischief Manager at Vinomofo
...and General Manager?
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How do you attract the best people and maintain energy and creativity among your employees

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Charley May Communications Manager at Fowles Wine
Mitch Rays at Soulutions
Attracting the best people to your business first of all must come from the business owner. Deciding what you want to achieve and where the future of your business is leading is the first smart step to attracting and keeping valuable employees who can then come in line with your vision. The best way to attract your perfect employee is to create the perfect environment for this employee to thrive.By looking at the environment from an external point of view allows you to customize the position within this environment. By using nature for example. If you are looking at attracting a rare Ulysses butterfly to your garden you would plant a Ulysses attracting tree hence creating a habitat to thrive, the same for the office. If you want to attract a certain worker who displays an energetic and visionary outlook you create a position which allows for this development, you give this employee the opportunities to display and thrive and the infrastructure to accommodate this employee.Another valuable tool of attracting and keeping a great employee is through demonstrating great leadership by allowing positive communication which is reciprocated to your employee through rapport and leading by example. This in turn allows the maintenance for the positive energy and diverse creativity. Having open channels of communication and an attractive thriving environment allows those that you have attracted to help shape and inspire the evolution of your business along with their own personal development.Environment + Happy Employee = Energetic Improvement
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
The employee journey at Vinomofo is a little different to many places, and a lot of thought has gone into it, and will continue to. We’ve disconnected salary and performance from how our team behave as humans: salary is market-based and reviewed annually; performance is rewarded periodically via a team-based bonus; human behaviour becomes our ongoing focus for continual improvement. On hiring, people tend to come to us, because they believe in what we do, and how and why we do it. It’s a natural process, and that’s the best first step for us. Then we just have to screen those candidates using the right measures. Those measures are attitude, strengths and behaviour rather than skills and education. You can always teach, but the person has to be willing to learn, and actually want to be the best at what they do. We hire on attitude, and we coach to keep people. We’ve had many people change their role within the company because their strengths turned out to be better utilised in other areas. Our GM started as a buyer, wasn’t great at that, moved through a content role and is now a leader in the company. That doesn’t happen many places, and you just have to watch the engagement to see how a human approach produces human results.
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How do you get your team to generate and share ideas?

Some Vinomofo deals are very creative in content and presentation, and am sure commercially solid.... read more

Justin Dry at Vinomofo
First we actively encourage them to think about it and share with the team. Even if it’s not related to Vinomofo. We call this Mofo Projects and it has led to some really cool ideas and even the creation of a few startups! In regards to the secret deals example, they say necessity is the mother of all invention and it certainly was in this case. In the early days of Vinomofo we were regularly facing the same challenge - wineries wanted to sell us their wines but at such epic prices, distributors and other retailers would get upset. Then one day a team member said “what if we hid the label?” and the secret deal was born. So now we have an agreement with the producers not to reveal these wines and a promise to our customers that they’ll have the “wow” moment when it arrives and they found out what it is. We have 100% confidence that if a wine passes our tasting panel (only 5% do) then our Mofos will love it. And we stand behind that by offering a 100% no questions asked money back guarantee.
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How do you reconcile your differences in opinion as co-founders?

I assume you and Andre don't always agree on everything, sometimes even on strategic directions.... read more

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Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
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Is "No Buyer's Remorse" scalable ?

Vinomofo promises "If you’re not 100% happy, you can return your order to us ANY TIME for a... read more

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What motivates you to grow?

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How did your brand and identity survive 2012-2013?

Fifty years ago Australian Thomas Angrove wrapped wine in a plastic cask that turned out... read more

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Are there plans for Vinomofo to go global?

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How important was cash flow to Vinomofo?

How important was cash flow and did it ever take a back seat when you were growing your company? read more

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Wendy Huang Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
Incredibly. We started Vinomofo with $100k in the bank so we didn’t have much wiggle room. It was so important to us that we would actually update it daily. This way we knew exactly where we were going to be (based on projections) at any time over the next 3 months.We also kept the business very lean to give ourselves the longest runway possible. Obviously the numbers are bigger now but we still manage cash flow and stock levels very closely.
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What is your favourite breakfast?

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Justin Dry at Vinomofo
It’s actually my favourite meal of the day! I LOVE free range poached eggs on sourdough with smashed avocado feta. Oh and coffee, very good coffee.
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How does promotional article work on the Savvy platform?

I am considering paying to post a promotional article and have a few questions about how the... read more

Phil KhorFounder at SavvySME
Hi John, thanks for the question. Thought I'll re-post the answer to your question via PM again here for the benefit of other members too.The number of views on promotional articles vary a lot depending on the article's title, content, relevance, etc so there is no guarantee. Most promotional articles get an average of 400-500 views but we have seen ones that received over 3000 views in a period of a month. Promotional articles are shared across our broader networks too, and if it has good content, members tend to share it in theirs too.Good content tend to be more educational with a few helpful links (not too many I might add) to where they can get more help from you. Promotional articles are also shared in email digests and alongside relevant content, so it's a great way to get attention from those who are already interested in the subject.The best way to get maximum value on this platform is to demonstrate thought leadership by being helpful i.e. by blogging and answering questions genuinely without being seen as "spammy" or desperate for new business. We find that self promotion is turns people off quickly, which doesn't help our experts at all. Our Q&A is designed for business owners to get good expert advice, and self-promotional questions, answers or comments are deleted immediately. In fact, good answers give you long tail exposure from organic search.Hope this helps.
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What are the best and worst ideas for offline startup businesses?

I created an article before on the best ideas for online startups but I want to know your insights... read more

Asked by:
Rob Herr Marketing at Accede Holdings Pty Ltd
Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
Rob,I would say offline businesses that have a high barrier to entry into the market before you can validate that you have a viable idea. This could be something like a medical device.Entering a market with a lot of competition (e.g. pizza, clothing, creative agency) can be a real challenge if you don't have a noticeable and meaningful value proposition that clearly gives you an advantage against incumbent competitors.Also starting any business when trying to only beat your competition on price (it is not a sustainable differentiator). You'll probably get involved in a race to the bottom (a.k.a. no profit margin) so you'll likely not be in business very long. This is especially true when long time businesses have much greater scale or profitability that they can sacrifice in the short term to run you out of business (because their profit margin can sustain a hit for an extended amount of time).There are many other problematic businesses to start 'offline' but I think those are the largest problem areas.
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As a startup who has a new product to develop and sell, what is the best way to seek funding?

If a person or company has designed and created a new product (not tech) and needs to aquire... read more

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Jef LippiattCo-founder at Startup Chucktown
Suzie,I would suggest looking into crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo or others. They can be great places not only to gain funding for your product, but also to validate that you have correctly positioned your product and that the market is reacting favorably to a product that isn't even available yet.You will need to think hard about a launch strategy as well as what type of rewards you're willing to setup at the different tier levels, but all of that can set you up for a successful campaign. Also clearly explaining or demoing the product in a video can really increase the audience understanding and value proposition of the product.I would also recommend that if you are interested in pursuing this avenue, that you browse the different platforms to find out which one is bet suited to your product, as well as research some successfully funded campaigns and see what you can learn from them to apply to your own.
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What challenges did you face when achieving such rapid growth?

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Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
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How did you build the necessary connections in the wine industry to allow for Vinomofo's success?

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Charlene Sampilo Customer Service at SavvySME
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
Vinomofo wasn’t the first business we had in the tech wine space so it actually happened in the years leading up to the launch.Qwoff was the first one in 2007 and was actually a really cool idea but to be honest had a shit business model. It was like a facebook for wine. Too early for the space and the market was too niche for the business model.We then pivoted the business 4 times over the next few years before launching Vinomofo in early 2011.Each one was better than the last but more importantly, we were building great relationships within the industry and a large tribe of wine lovers along the way who followed us into Vinomofo.
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What 20% factor can you attribute Vinomofo's success to in terms of the 80/20 rule?

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Marketing Manager at SavvySME
Justin Dry at Vinomofo
I actually live by this rule as often as possible and it has served me well. As far as Vinomofo goes I would say our most valuable time has been spent on delivering the best possible product. Make it so good that your customers do the marketing for you. On the flip side if your product is shit no amount of advertising is going to save you.
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If your business has seasonal peaks, how do you balance out the valleys?

I'm curious how business owners that have seasonal peaks built into their business adapt to times... read more

Asked by:
Jef Lippiatt Co-founder at Startup Chucktown
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