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Jef Lippiatt
Top 10% Startup

Owner at Startup Chucktown

Member Since November 2014

Westerville, OH,

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4.88K FOLLOWERS

I focus on business strategy, diversification and divergent thinking. I enjoy helping others see the hidden opportunities in front of them.

Qualified skills

Startup
Social Media
Web Design
Business Structure
Intellectual Property
Graphic Design
Copywriting and Content Marketing
Branding
Market Research
Leadership
Lean Startup Methodology
Product Development
Bootstrapping
Business Planning
Business Consulting
Industrial Design
Editing and Publishing
Printing
Cards-Greeting-Retail
Starting a Business
Entrepreneurship
New Business Ideas

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Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Entrepreneurship

What's one inspiring quote you live by as an entrepreneur?

You can either rise to the challenge or sink into the status quo.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What do you look for in a lawyer?

I think one of the most important things is looking for a lawyer that understands your industry and practices in that specific area. Next you need one that understands your specific business needs. Lastly, look for a lawyer that wants to be a part of your long-term business strategy.If are constantly contacting different lawyers you will never have anyone that has a good history of your company. They will only be transactional. Look for one that wants to help you with your legal needs as your business grows and changes.Don't waste time. If you need help with intellectual property seek a lawyer out that specializes in that field of legal issues. By going to a general business lawyer or a family lawyer you are just wasting everyone's time and your money. Ask others for a lawyer referrals before spending tons of time looking yourself. Perhaps someone in your network already knows a great lawyer for your needs.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Accounting

Do you need accountants to help write business plans?

Definitely a great question. I would say it depends on the entrepreneur. Typically the entrepreneur starting the business should be writing the bulk of the Business Plan (including the executive summary). However the part of the business plan that a typical entrepreneur may need accounting help with are the financial projections. I've seen many pitch decks with absolutely no realistic backing to their financial projections. Granted the further out into the future you go (3, 5, or 10 years) the harder it will be to accurately predict the numbers. However if you are trying to get a business loan from a bank or pitch to potential investors you may want to include an accountant if your own math skils are up to the challenge.I would say if you are self-funding your business, the only reason you would have financial projections would be for your own benefit (or to keep you motivated). However, if you feel like including accountant go ahead and reach out to one.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are some factors to consider for a brand strategy?

I definitely agree with Hamish, but I want to push it even more. When you think of your business as a person, is it friendly or a rebel? Does it show up early, on time or make an entrance? Does it celebrate its own creativity or confrom to norms? These things Swill tell you a lot about your audience and how to interact with them.Please see my simple examples below:Normal: Chocolate cupcake with Chocolate frosting vsSnobby: Swiss Chocolate cupake with Dark Chocolate Ganache--Ordinary: Chocolate filled Vanilla cupcakevs.Playful: Vanilla chocolate bomb cupcakePlay to your audience. Have personality that blends with your audience. Use that personality to set yourself apart from the competition.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What's A Good Alternative To MailChimp For Email Marketing?

I'd suggest checking out Email Octopus, https://emailoctopus.com/ I don't personally use them, but their pricing and product are impressive. There are of course many other alternatives, but when using MailChimp as a direct comparison, I think this has a lot going for it.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How Can You Promote Your Service-based Business on Instagram?

I would focus on a few key areas.Customer Reviews and/or Testimonials (either as text or short video clips)Show behind the scenes with pictures or video clipsCreate custom landing pages for specific audiences and change your Instagram bio link to it. Mention the link in your caption and use an image that ties into the content on the landing page (use curiosity and intrigue to your advantage)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are fantastic giveaway ideas?

If the giveaway is for someone internal, I'd say make sure it adds value is desireable (not a cheap pen or old marketing swag). If it is something you'd want (potentially a gift card, cash, extra vacation day, etc.)If the giveaway is for a customer, make it meaningful. Perhaps it is a 1 year subscription for free, a free product, something limited (that can't be bought from your company) potentially a tour of your facility, autographed version of your product, or free swag (t-shirt, stickers, etc.).Keep in mind, the more unique it is, the more desireable and coveted winning it will become. So keep it interesting.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Entrepreneurship

What's one inspiring quote you live by as an entrepreneur?

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."Said in the movie: InceptionSaid by character: Eames

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What is most challenging when connecting with customers?

For me it is convincing the audience to go from "liking" and "sharing" to actually making a purchase. So, I suppose the real issue is trying to determine how to transition from brand awareness to actual conversion.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Wendy Huang
Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Copywriting and Content Marketing

What is your favourite blogging platform?

I do have several wordpress sites. However, I have also used LinkedIn (a while ago). I think their offering has gone down hill a bit from when they originally launched it. However, I do enjoy the Medium platform. It has nice twitter integration. I also enjoy the way you can highlight meaningful parts of articles to help you recall them later.

Training and Development

How to Prevent Your Knowledge From Becoming Ignorance

Do you ever feel like you're "smart enough?" This is a dangerous place to be. There are several factors that can make our knowledge turn into ignorance such as comfort and pride. Instead, allow yourself to become teachable and help those around you to learn how to share information constructively. ​​ There is a difference between a smart person and a know-it-all. The main difference is how ...

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Budgeting and Forecasting

How will your business be affected by interest rate rises?

This wouldn't currently impact me as I'm bootstrapping all my financing myself. However, I can see how if you were carrying significant inventory or trying to expand your business this could be a very negative impact.My suggestion is that if known interest rates will be going up but haven't yet, you need to fast track your plans and lock in the lowest possible rate you can while they exist. It may seem scary to speed up something like that, but the payoff could be great but non-existant if you wait... just something to think about.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Jhosa Shemei Igno
Jhosa Shemei Igno, Social Media Manager at Social Media Sidekicks

Social Media

What is your favorite social media hack?

This may not sound like a hack, but actually connecting with your followers.Seriously. I don't automate any of my twitter feed. Why? It can sound hollow or insincere. I look at profiles and try to connect with them about something they've already listed or something they've said or asked of me.Also, manually doing things gives you the goal of being timely. If you send an automated response to someone and they don't get a legitimate response from you (or whoever is running your social media) they may become frustrated.I often reply back in whatever language they reach out in (or visible associate with) so long as I understand the language well enough to respond (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese). I can promise you I'm not fluent in all of those languages but I have learned how to thank them in their own language. It usually drives more follows that speak that language as well (or at least that is my experience)Lastly, if you want to really engage with your followers, give them a reason. Post thought provoking content or ask them questions. If you only speak in statements you aren't giving them a reason to reach out. I hope that helps.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How to get my name out there?

Really great comments by John and Roland. I'm not sure I could add anything else they haven't already covered.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Budgeting and Forecasting

Economic growth vs budget deficit?

I think one thing that would be great for all small businesses is reduced redundancy (aka more intuitive processes).Many times there are multiple applications you have to log in to (everything from filing forms, requests, paperwork, taxes, etc.) Those should be streamlined into a single application (1 username 1 password).Make all deadlines publicly published and send out systematic, automated emails reminding business owners of the upcoming deadlines.Eliminating bureaucracy that stands in the way of getting a business officially started would be a great help for many.I would say one other option would be to provide Innovation Incentive Grants/Funding. If a business creates a service or product that leads to more jobs within that State/Coun.try (of a certain level) or has the potential to make a meaningful (positive) impact on the overall economy

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Sarah Irwin
Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Business Management

How to create a cohesive company culture as a business grows?

I would say being intentional, especially when onboarding new staff regardless of their company position. Onboarding is the single most important time for you to expose new team members to what makes the company different.This is true whether the onboarding is a small all-hands meeting (if the team is less than 20 people - to introduce the new team member) or a training video or the employee handbook. Your company culture should be included in all training material and early tasks.Keep in mind, the company culture must be something the new team member can see in action while in the office (or using the company tools if the team is remote).Ensure that you ask new team members proactively if they have any questions or feedback into how their onboarding process has been. If you have a bad onboarding experience, you may lose some good people early on (because they may take that as an indication that things are chaotic, unplanned or that employees aren't important).

Research and Innovation

Hello, Opportunity?

Perhaps you are waiting for things to change in the new year. I’m not here to say that won’t happen, but how can you be sure opportunity will come knocking? The unfortunate answer is, you can’t be 100% certain it will. That may sound jarring, but I think it is exciting. Why? It simply flips the power dynamic. When you are waiting for opportunity to come to you, someone or something else has...

Social Media

Up Close And Personal

Let me cut to the chase, using video in your business is important. That probably isn't a revelation, but it is true. So where do you even begin? If you haven't already been using video for anything, you probably feel overwhelmed. I know I was when I started trying different things with video. Truth be told, I jumped on the bandwagon a long time ago. I hosted a live (but recorded) weekly online co...

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Sarah Irwin
Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Finance and Accounting

What is Bitcoin and how can I use it?

I won't and maybe can't answer this in extreme detail, but Bitcoin is a digital currency. It is build on a technology called "blockchain". The idea is that it is supposed to be very secure. You can either get Bitcoins by mining the blockchain (have multiple and powerful computers processing the blockchain code) or by accepting them as payment. Based on the current "value" of 1 single Bitcoin a transaction may own need to transfer part of a Bitcoin. I don't know if there is a Bitcoin credit/debit card, but there are companies where you can store your Bitcoins.I hope that helps, but if not hopefully someone will jump in with a more complete explanation.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Why Is SEO Marketing Important For Accountants And Bookkeepers?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can benefit businesses in any industry. The main thing to keep in mind is what your goals currently are. If you are trying to grow or expand your business it definitely could be helpful for lead generation and brand awareness. If you have a steady stream of clients, it would still be a way to mitigate client turnover (keep a few new clients coming to you in case any existing clients leave). Also putting out content (ads, information on your website, blog articles and whitepapers) are great ways for people to think of you and your business as a leader or thought leader in your industry.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are the steps in turning a hobby into a business (photography)?

Kendall,This is a great question and there are several ways you could go about turning your hobby into a business.Create a brand or at least a website to announce your new venture to the public. Then start sharing on social media (share pictures you've taken, pictures of clients you have permission to share or just interesting tips about taking pictures for hobbyists). Team up with an existing company or individual that offers similar services (web and/or print design or similar) that may not be a photographer themselves. Ask them about offering your service to them for their current and future client work (taking product shots, or unique stock photos of places and people) that meet that need. It may not be enough to take it full time immediately but it reduces the risk of having to find all the clients yourself. Compare your pricing to those in your geographic area that are offering similar services. Set your prices accordingly (you may charge less because you are building experience or because you are focused on landing new clients). You can always raise your prices later on after you have a good client base and more experience.Focus on 1 or 2 niche markets only (at least at first). This can help set you apart from local competition that don't focus on those markets. Some possible examples could be, family portraits, weddings, events, corporate stock photography, nature or landmarks, product photography (e-commerce), food photography (blogs and restaurants). There really are plenty of areas to carve out a niche or two for yourself.You can also look to partner (exchange leads) with other photographers that don't overlap with the segments you focus on. Let's say you make a deal with a portrait photographer that you'll send them portrait client leads in exchange for them sending you wedding client leads (or something similar). You aren't really competing if you focus on different types of photography.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How do I know I'm charging the optimal price to maximise profit?

Rick,One way to know is by the number of clients you are landing. Are you having any issues getting clients at your current price? If not, your prices may be set too low. This may sound counter-intuitive, but you want clients to question your pricing. This gives you a chance to justify your rates and fees.The other way to know is by the quality of your clients. Are most of your clients easy to work with or are some of them nothing but headaches? Raising your prices will deter clients that want everything for a small fee. Getting rid of clients will also make you feel better (as you won't always be stressed about them reaching out for changes or revisions at the last minute). Also, if a client doesn't seem like a good fit, turn them down. Start saying "no" and you may actually see your profit margin go up.

Training and Development

How to Prevent Your Knowledge From Becoming Ignorance

Do you ever feel like you're "smart enough?" This is a dangerous place to be. There are several factors that can make our knowledge turn into ignorance such as comfort and pride. Instead, allow yourself to become teachable and help those around you to learn how to share information constructively. ​​ There is a difference between a smart person and a know-it-all. The main difference is how ...

Research and Innovation

Hello, Opportunity?

Perhaps you are waiting for things to change in the new year. I’m not here to say that won’t happen, but how can you be sure opportunity will come knocking? The unfortunate answer is, you can’t be 100% certain it will. That may sound jarring, but I think it is exciting. Why? It simply flips the power dynamic. When you are waiting for opportunity to come to you, someone or something else has...

Social Media

Up Close And Personal

Let me cut to the chase, using video in your business is important. That probably isn't a revelation, but it is true. So where do you even begin? If you haven't already been using video for anything, you probably feel overwhelmed. I know I was when I started trying different things with video. Truth be told, I jumped on the bandwagon a long time ago. I hosted a live (but recorded) weekly online co...

Lifestyle and Health

6 Habits to Help You Succeed

Success is a mindset, so double down on these habits   1. Stay Teachable - It is important as you grow your business journey that you remain teachable. Why? It is an attitude of humility that recognizes there is always more to learn. If you are looking for a mentor (which you should be unless you have one), this is key. Mentors want to know they are adding value, so to keep one ensure you are l...

Training and Development

Intrapreneur To Exitpreneur

So how does one go about making the leap from an intrapreneur to an entrepreneur? The complicated answer is, it depends on some of the following: Too many levels of bureaucracy Lack of support for moving ideas up the chain Passion aligned to something unrelated to current work Unsatisfied with personal and professional growth opportunities I chose to bold the only positive reason because to sh...

Training and Development

Customer Service Scripts Need to Die

Do you want to call customer service for me? No? I can't say I'm shocked. What is it about customer service and customer experience that makes us as customers so crazy? We know we will have to fumble through a maze of automated presets before ever getting to a person. And those automated menus are already annoying enough, right? When (or if) you finally manage to connect with an actual human, som...

Leadership

I Dare You to Trust Me

Believing the experts blindly comes at great cost. Sure many experts are on point and full of great insights. However, each of us has blind spots or occasionally miss the mark. So what, right? Consider that becoming an expert involves more than just following sage advice from those that have gone before us. We become experts by exploring our hunches and making bold predictions in the face of the ...

Leadership

Challengability Because Accountability Isn't Enough

Accountability is great, but where does it leave you? It leaves you beholden to someone checking in on you to ensure you are still on track. But since when is just staying on track ideal? The simple answer is, it isn't. Being accountable is great. Having others hold you to delivering on promises is the best way to ensure you are driving toward your goals. It also gives you a set of people to help...

Training and Development

3 + 1 = Improvement

Improvement really is this simple. But that doesn't mean it is easy. Why does it seem so easy to get distracted? I'm not even going to try to answer that question today. But we all get distracted from time to time. How can you limit distraction? You need to have a plan. I'm going to give you a plan that has been working for me. 3 + 1 is my plan. Its simplicity is key. First, the 3 stands for 3 ...

Research and Innovation

Divergent Lenses

Have we lost our sense of imagination or just how to properly use it? I propose that we collectively need to fall down the rabbit hole with purpose on a recurring basis. Approaching a problem through your own context creates a narrow solution funnel. You must be willing to get out of your own head for a bit and think about a problem from other vantage points. If I had an hour to solve a problem...

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Entrepreneurship

What's one inspiring quote you live by as an entrepreneur?

You can either rise to the challenge or sink into the status quo.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What do you look for in a lawyer?

I think one of the most important things is looking for a lawyer that understands your industry and practices in that specific area. Next you need one that understands your specific business needs. Lastly, look for a lawyer that wants to be a part of your long-term business strategy.If are constantly contacting different lawyers you will never have anyone that has a good history of your company. They will only be transactional. Look for one that wants to help you with your legal needs as your business grows and changes.Don't waste time. If you need help with intellectual property seek a lawyer out that specializes in that field of legal issues. By going to a general business lawyer or a family lawyer you are just wasting everyone's time and your money. Ask others for a lawyer referrals before spending tons of time looking yourself. Perhaps someone in your network already knows a great lawyer for your needs.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Official FAQ
Official FAQ, Inquisitor at SavvySME

Accounting

Do you need accountants to help write business plans?

Definitely a great question. I would say it depends on the entrepreneur. Typically the entrepreneur starting the business should be writing the bulk of the Business Plan (including the executive summary). However the part of the business plan that a typical entrepreneur may need accounting help with are the financial projections. I've seen many pitch decks with absolutely no realistic backing to their financial projections. Granted the further out into the future you go (3, 5, or 10 years) the harder it will be to accurately predict the numbers. However if you are trying to get a business loan from a bank or pitch to potential investors you may want to include an accountant if your own math skils are up to the challenge.I would say if you are self-funding your business, the only reason you would have financial projections would be for your own benefit (or to keep you motivated). However, if you feel like including accountant go ahead and reach out to one.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are some factors to consider for a brand strategy?

I definitely agree with Hamish, but I want to push it even more. When you think of your business as a person, is it friendly or a rebel? Does it show up early, on time or make an entrance? Does it celebrate its own creativity or confrom to norms? These things Swill tell you a lot about your audience and how to interact with them.Please see my simple examples below:Normal: Chocolate cupcake with Chocolate frosting vsSnobby: Swiss Chocolate cupake with Dark Chocolate Ganache--Ordinary: Chocolate filled Vanilla cupcakevs.Playful: Vanilla chocolate bomb cupcakePlay to your audience. Have personality that blends with your audience. Use that personality to set yourself apart from the competition.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What's A Good Alternative To MailChimp For Email Marketing?

I'd suggest checking out Email Octopus, https://emailoctopus.com/ I don't personally use them, but their pricing and product are impressive. There are of course many other alternatives, but when using MailChimp as a direct comparison, I think this has a lot going for it.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How Can You Promote Your Service-based Business on Instagram?

I would focus on a few key areas.Customer Reviews and/or Testimonials (either as text or short video clips)Show behind the scenes with pictures or video clipsCreate custom landing pages for specific audiences and change your Instagram bio link to it. Mention the link in your caption and use an image that ties into the content on the landing page (use curiosity and intrigue to your advantage)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are fantastic giveaway ideas?

If the giveaway is for someone internal, I'd say make sure it adds value is desireable (not a cheap pen or old marketing swag). If it is something you'd want (potentially a gift card, cash, extra vacation day, etc.)If the giveaway is for a customer, make it meaningful. Perhaps it is a 1 year subscription for free, a free product, something limited (that can't be bought from your company) potentially a tour of your facility, autographed version of your product, or free swag (t-shirt, stickers, etc.).Keep in mind, the more unique it is, the more desireable and coveted winning it will become. So keep it interesting.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Entrepreneurship

What's one inspiring quote you live by as an entrepreneur?

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."Said in the movie: InceptionSaid by character: Eames

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What is most challenging when connecting with customers?

For me it is convincing the audience to go from "liking" and "sharing" to actually making a purchase. So, I suppose the real issue is trying to determine how to transition from brand awareness to actual conversion.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Wendy Huang
Wendy Huang, Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Copywriting and Content Marketing

What is your favourite blogging platform?

I do have several wordpress sites. However, I have also used LinkedIn (a while ago). I think their offering has gone down hill a bit from when they originally launched it. However, I do enjoy the Medium platform. It has nice twitter integration. I also enjoy the way you can highlight meaningful parts of articles to help you recall them later.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Budgeting and Forecasting

How will your business be affected by interest rate rises?

This wouldn't currently impact me as I'm bootstrapping all my financing myself. However, I can see how if you were carrying significant inventory or trying to expand your business this could be a very negative impact.My suggestion is that if known interest rates will be going up but haven't yet, you need to fast track your plans and lock in the lowest possible rate you can while they exist. It may seem scary to speed up something like that, but the payoff could be great but non-existant if you wait... just something to think about.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Jhosa Shemei Igno
Jhosa Shemei Igno, Social Media Manager at Social Media Sidekicks

Social Media

What is your favorite social media hack?

This may not sound like a hack, but actually connecting with your followers.Seriously. I don't automate any of my twitter feed. Why? It can sound hollow or insincere. I look at profiles and try to connect with them about something they've already listed or something they've said or asked of me.Also, manually doing things gives you the goal of being timely. If you send an automated response to someone and they don't get a legitimate response from you (or whoever is running your social media) they may become frustrated.I often reply back in whatever language they reach out in (or visible associate with) so long as I understand the language well enough to respond (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese). I can promise you I'm not fluent in all of those languages but I have learned how to thank them in their own language. It usually drives more follows that speak that language as well (or at least that is my experience)Lastly, if you want to really engage with your followers, give them a reason. Post thought provoking content or ask them questions. If you only speak in statements you aren't giving them a reason to reach out. I hope that helps.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How to get my name out there?

Really great comments by John and Roland. I'm not sure I could add anything else they haven't already covered.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

SavvySME Official
SavvySME Official, Official Account at SavvySME

Budgeting and Forecasting

Economic growth vs budget deficit?

I think one thing that would be great for all small businesses is reduced redundancy (aka more intuitive processes).Many times there are multiple applications you have to log in to (everything from filing forms, requests, paperwork, taxes, etc.) Those should be streamlined into a single application (1 username 1 password).Make all deadlines publicly published and send out systematic, automated emails reminding business owners of the upcoming deadlines.Eliminating bureaucracy that stands in the way of getting a business officially started would be a great help for many.I would say one other option would be to provide Innovation Incentive Grants/Funding. If a business creates a service or product that leads to more jobs within that State/Coun.try (of a certain level) or has the potential to make a meaningful (positive) impact on the overall economy

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Sarah Irwin
Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Business Management

How to create a cohesive company culture as a business grows?

I would say being intentional, especially when onboarding new staff regardless of their company position. Onboarding is the single most important time for you to expose new team members to what makes the company different.This is true whether the onboarding is a small all-hands meeting (if the team is less than 20 people - to introduce the new team member) or a training video or the employee handbook. Your company culture should be included in all training material and early tasks.Keep in mind, the company culture must be something the new team member can see in action while in the office (or using the company tools if the team is remote).Ensure that you ask new team members proactively if they have any questions or feedback into how their onboarding process has been. If you have a bad onboarding experience, you may lose some good people early on (because they may take that as an indication that things are chaotic, unplanned or that employees aren't important).

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Sarah Irwin
Sarah Irwin, SME Community Director at SavvySME

Finance and Accounting

What is Bitcoin and how can I use it?

I won't and maybe can't answer this in extreme detail, but Bitcoin is a digital currency. It is build on a technology called "blockchain". The idea is that it is supposed to be very secure. You can either get Bitcoins by mining the blockchain (have multiple and powerful computers processing the blockchain code) or by accepting them as payment. Based on the current "value" of 1 single Bitcoin a transaction may own need to transfer part of a Bitcoin. I don't know if there is a Bitcoin credit/debit card, but there are companies where you can store your Bitcoins.I hope that helps, but if not hopefully someone will jump in with a more complete explanation.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Why Is SEO Marketing Important For Accountants And Bookkeepers?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can benefit businesses in any industry. The main thing to keep in mind is what your goals currently are. If you are trying to grow or expand your business it definitely could be helpful for lead generation and brand awareness. If you have a steady stream of clients, it would still be a way to mitigate client turnover (keep a few new clients coming to you in case any existing clients leave). Also putting out content (ads, information on your website, blog articles and whitepapers) are great ways for people to think of you and your business as a leader or thought leader in your industry.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are the steps in turning a hobby into a business (photography)?

Kendall,This is a great question and there are several ways you could go about turning your hobby into a business.Create a brand or at least a website to announce your new venture to the public. Then start sharing on social media (share pictures you've taken, pictures of clients you have permission to share or just interesting tips about taking pictures for hobbyists). Team up with an existing company or individual that offers similar services (web and/or print design or similar) that may not be a photographer themselves. Ask them about offering your service to them for their current and future client work (taking product shots, or unique stock photos of places and people) that meet that need. It may not be enough to take it full time immediately but it reduces the risk of having to find all the clients yourself. Compare your pricing to those in your geographic area that are offering similar services. Set your prices accordingly (you may charge less because you are building experience or because you are focused on landing new clients). You can always raise your prices later on after you have a good client base and more experience.Focus on 1 or 2 niche markets only (at least at first). This can help set you apart from local competition that don't focus on those markets. Some possible examples could be, family portraits, weddings, events, corporate stock photography, nature or landmarks, product photography (e-commerce), food photography (blogs and restaurants). There really are plenty of areas to carve out a niche or two for yourself.You can also look to partner (exchange leads) with other photographers that don't overlap with the segments you focus on. Let's say you make a deal with a portrait photographer that you'll send them portrait client leads in exchange for them sending you wedding client leads (or something similar). You aren't really competing if you focus on different types of photography.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How do I know I'm charging the optimal price to maximise profit?

Rick,One way to know is by the number of clients you are landing. Are you having any issues getting clients at your current price? If not, your prices may be set too low. This may sound counter-intuitive, but you want clients to question your pricing. This gives you a chance to justify your rates and fees.The other way to know is by the quality of your clients. Are most of your clients easy to work with or are some of them nothing but headaches? Raising your prices will deter clients that want everything for a small fee. Getting rid of clients will also make you feel better (as you won't always be stressed about them reaching out for changes or revisions at the last minute). Also, if a client doesn't seem like a good fit, turn them down. Start saying "no" and you may actually see your profit margin go up.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What Are Your Predictions Regarding SMM trends next year?

I'm going to say that using video will continue to become more important. Both prerecorded content and live video feeds.I also think there will have to be a shift of more conversational content. Meaning, less autopilot posting and more conversation with followers and users.

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How Can I Optimize Social Media To Reach Millenials Out?

One of the main things millennials look for on social media is authenticity. You have to be transparent with them. They can tell when you are selling, so before you try selling be sure to connect with them in a meaningful way. It never hurts to show some "Behind the scenes" on a process or new product. Perhaps even just sharing some snaps of the team.Essentially they want to see that the company is "human" and that the people running the company are not just trying to make a quick buck on them. If at all possible try to engage them in conversations or in part of your company's process.

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What are some tips to improve my seo skills?

From an organic SEO perspective, I would say it is important to create content that meshes well with the rest of your website and your audience. Make article titles relevant to what the article covers (click bait headlines not only frustrate/anger users, but can actually lower your rankings in search engines).Also focus the content of each page based on its purpose. If it is an "About Us" page don't spend a lot of time talking about your services or products. That type of page should talk about company background and team member bios.Also ensure that the way your webpages or content management system (CMS) are structured help SEO not hinder it. You want to have "friendly" URLs (e.g. http://blog.com/2129391 = not good, http://blog.com/new-marketing-techniques = good). This is easier for users to remember and recall and also easier for search engines to crawl and associate with your site content.

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How does one become an influencer on social media?

Dedication and passion is the complex but simple answer. It will likely not come overnight (which is unfortunate, but true). There are exceptions for people and businesses if something they post goes viral, but it is better to put out quality content regularly than always trying to force something to go viral.I launched my twitter feed @StartChucktown about 3.5 years ago. I had no followers. I started following interesting entrepreneurs and startup businesses (my target audience). I then began asking questions of accounts that posted interesting material. Then I started posting helpful articles and research. Finally I started posting original tweets and opinions about that space.The next wave was posting blog articles I had written onto my twitter feed and I created a newsletter signup. Things really started to come together. Things didn't happen overnight for me, but now I have over 5000 followers. My influence has lead to guest blogging slots on several local and regional related blogs. I've also been invited to some events as media coverage.The main point I'm emphasizing is that it took time to build the platform and my audience. It has lead to several new and interesting opportunities. I also didn't take shortcuts. I don't believe in buying followers (that is fake influence). I'm sure some accounts that follow me are inactive or spam, but I've seen the growth and engagement grow so much from when I started.One of the most important things I can say is to make sure it is a conversation not just you blasting out articles / tweets / shares for no reason and without interacting with your audience. It is social media not automated media. When you are active and respond personally and within a timely fashion you'll see your influence grow.

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Is data analysis important for your business?

Rick,I think data analysis is necessary for all businesses, however, that doesn't always mean there is time (or enough time) or a great understanding for what data should be analyzed or prioritized over other data or metrics.If you are a solo entrepreneur, you have to wear a lot of hats, so even if you can figure out data analysis, it doesn't mean you'll have lots of time to dedicate to that task. It may also mean you do data analysis infrequently instead of a regular intervals. This is obviously less than ideal, but it is a likely scenario.The other issue may be that you have software or tools to help you analyze the data, but that is only a benefit if you can properly configure and understand the tool and have enough time to create reports that are actionable.Not every business is doing data analysis, but if most of them were doing data analysis they would see insights about their operations and products/services that otherwise may go unnoticed.I struggle to keep up with my data analysis as a single entrepreneur. I use Google analytics (but infrequently). I also look at report dashboards but cannot properly interrupt all of them. So there is definitely a learning curve and a need for making time to properly approach this.

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Are there any government grants for female business owners?

Here in the United States we do have a variety of grants for related business owners.The categories for grants are typically:FemaleMinorityFemale & MinorityMilitary Veteran (male or female)Non-profit business sectors

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What are some strategies to improve employee retention?

This question covers a lot of ground, but I'll try to give you a few concrete ideas.Genuinely thank people for their effort - don't make this a robotic process. You don't need to thank everyone every time they do their job (that's their job after all). However, when someone makes a great effort (regardless of if it works out) recognize their effort and work. When someone does something great acknowledge it (to them individually or at a team or company level - but make sure they are comfortable with public recognition before you blurt it out to everyone - so people aren't a fan of public recognition).Give people a bit of margin during the workday / work week - Perhaps its a percentage of time (like Google's 20%) or several hours a week. Give them this room to read industry related articles, take online courses to further their learning or just the time and resources to work on a personal project that fosters learning and can maybe have strategic advantages for the company down the road.Don't make failure a threat - people that take risks can definitely help keep your business going forward (I'm not speaking of anything illegal or anything that would make the company look bad). If you can teach people to learn from mistakes and failure and turn that into a better solution or process going forward, that is still a win. Treat it as such. If failure is penalized, people will only do the bare minimum and that won't be good for your business in the long run.Get to know individuals & what motivates them - First you need to know your people to create a good relationship. Second you need to understand what motivates them. This helps when it is time to give an award. They may want a monetary bonus. Perhaps they'd be happier with an extra day or two of vacation. Maybe they are just looking to make a leap from a regular position into management. Get to know everyone and reward them with what motivates them individually.

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Should you share business ideas with others?

Nick,building on the previous answer, I would also say that there are really 2 schools of thought. I'm not talking until we all sing NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements)I'm telling everyone I possibly can and hoping for feedbackIn the bright world of 2016 most people, companies and definitely Venture Capitalists (VCs) have stopped signing NDAs. Why? It isn't worth their time. Why else? It limits them from hearing an analyzing other ideas in a similar industry or field. It is really only needed if you have and are showing registered Intellectual Property (IP) such as Patents or Trade Secrets.The argument against NDAs is mentioned above. Execution is key. Everyone has ideas, in fact I have more than 8 notebooks filled front to back with more ideas than I could ever execute on. However in those notebooks they'll never turn into anything. I've tried to give some of the ideas away.Keep in mind, many people will belittle your ideas. It really is hard to get someone to steal your idea (most people wouldn't want to put in the effort). However, if absolutely no one wants to steal your idea, you may not be trying to create something that anyone (or at least not enough people want or need).If you aren't sharing your idea, you aren't getting feedback. Chances are, you'll need to make some tweaks to your original idea anyway. So be open about what you are trying to accomplish and realize that there is room for competition and that it is a healthy driver of innovation in and of itself.

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What makes an effective risk management plan?

Without being too specific or general I have some advice that anyone should be able to put in place within their venture.An effective risk management plan:Has a range of options. Any risk management plan that relies on a single strategy is likely to have multiple points of failure or gaps of information that are unaccounted for. Have a mix of risk management plans in place. Think of the most likely things that could go wrong and come up with more than one way to resolve or mitigate that risk.Considers more than the obvious failures or vulnerabilities. Once you think of a possible risk, go 1 or 2 steps deeper within that same problem. Also, think of the edge cases or less likely risks that could still be problematic if they occur.Communicates clearly in a timely manner. Ensure that the entire company knows the plan and procedures in advance (even if you have to stage a mock event).Makes training and resources available. You may need a "risk management team" in place or at least identify key individuals that can help implement the plan and ensure they understand the material and have access to training.Gets revisited on a regular basis. Risks are an ever-changing environment. Stay prepared by making time to revisit the current plan and make any adjustments as new risks are discovered, old risks are obsolete or just to refresh your risk management memory.

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What industry has the greatest need for a redesign?

This is a great question but one that is hard to answer without context. For example, here in the United States, I believe one of the most important industries that needs flipped is healthcare, specifically the standardizing the cost of identical medical procedures from one city to the next and affordable medications.However, in underdeveloped countries, there needs to be a better answer for the largely unbanked masses. I'm not saying more banks are the answer, but a way for them to easy store and access said money, whether it is a digital coin, through SMS messaging or some yet undeveloped technology.

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What's the value of hiring a business coach/consultant?

I've worked with several business coaches, however, I didn't hire them. The arrangements were volunteered or exchanged for reciprocal goods or services of value. What I can tell you is that I would have gladly paid for their services because the insight and feedback was valuable.The only caveat I will add is that, everything is dependent on how you and the coach mesh. They need to understand your current situation and your goals, but you also need to work well together.I highly recommend working with a business coach to improve yourself and your business.

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How do I come up with a business name?

Richard,Great question. This is definitely a subjective question. However, I can try to steer you toward some helpful information. There are generally a few things you want to keep in mind.easy to spell / pronounce for your target customerseasy to build a brand around (general names like ABC Consulting worked in the era of the phone book because they were at the beginning, but in the age of the internet it is not only unhelpful it is distracting).part of the name be determined by the company's legal structure or country of origin (e.g. Inc. , LLC, Ltd., Pty., Plc, GmbH, etc.Those items aside, there are some other restrictions you may have to watch out for:Ensure you are not infringing on another company's name or rightsEnsure that you don't name yourself too similarly to a competitor or a popular company name from another industry.Follow names that resonate with you personally. If you have trouble contact a design with branding creation or a specific creative agency that works to help you find solid and marketable names.

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How do I know which is the right web development firm?

Morra,First you should review several firms for the following, positive customer testimonials, samples of their work, do they understand or have experience with your business industry and do they have project pricing or hourly pricing.After finding some of that out, try to reach out to several of their previous clients for more detailed information. Next contact 2 to 3 firms for quotes. Be specific, tell them your goals and expectations (budget, timeline, type (blog, online store, online community, etc.)). Once you've received quotes back from those 2 or 3 firms, see which you feel the most comfortable with when reviewing it. Don't just base the decision on the price.

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Do I need an accountant to start a business?

I don't necessarily know if you need one from a legal aspect, but having one you can trust is always a good thing. However, if you don't currently have an accountant in mind, put yourself in a good position by using software (Quickbooks, Xero, etc.). Doing that will help set you up for success when you transition to having a bookkeeper or an accountant and they will appreciate that as well.

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What makes you different from your competitors?

For me specifically, I believe that offering a product that falls within the gaps of my competitors is a positive differentiation along with my relentless focus on providing an enjoyable customer experience.I am also very proactive about collecting feedback and iterating on my products and services often.

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What makes a successful marketing strategy?

Harry,I think Lisa is on point, but I wanted to add that focusing on your target audience (and knowing who they are) will help drive better results.It is not only frustrating but unhelpful to try to target everybody. Focus relentlessly on the people or groups of people that already come to your business for your products and services.

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How do I work out what to pay my self as a wage and how do I go about it?

One of the first questions I would ask is, are you profitable? Meaning, are you currently making more money than you are spending? If not, it isn't time to draw a wage. Keep in mind if you need to scale (add employees) they are the first to get paid and you are the last to get paid (as a founder / owner).If your business is making a profit, do you have more than enough to keep the company profitable for 1 to 2 months and still have extra money left over? If not, keep not drawing a wage. If this sounds like a board game, you aren't far from the truth.Lastly, if your business has met and exceeded both of those conditions it may be time to start drawing a wage. However, I would recommend starting small and gradually scaling it up to avoid having to ramp your wage back down.If there is still too much "haze" around this topic, I'd recommend talking to an accountant or tax advisor.

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How do you measure marketing success?

The most important thing is setting your goals ahead of your marketing efforts (or at least setting them before your next marketing effort). You need to have things to track against, however, you also need to select the right things to be tracking.What would items would really indicate whether your business was growing, flat or struggling? Those are probably the best key metrics that you should be tracking. Every business (and every industry) have different success indicators.

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What is branding?

My answer is a bit of a different take on branding. Branding is a complex topic because it literally involves all aspects of your business (whether you believe that or not).So, why is branding so tricky? You don't and can't control everything (seriously, you just can't). But let that be empowering not intimidating.Branding is:Your Business NameYour company logoYour company's color paletteYour company's tone / voice (serious, playful, sarcastic, etc.)How your business is different than competitors (on purpose)The audience or customers you are targetingYour pricing structureYour internal company trainingWhat your customers are saying about your companyHow you act on customer feedbackHow involved you want customers to be (customer engagement)How you handle a crisis or bad publicityNothing from the above list on its own is "the brand" they are only pieces. The sum is always greater than the individual parts. The strongest brands are the ones that spend time and energy on all of the above topics. They are also the most adaptable to change as technology, economy, political and customer needs ebb and flow.

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Marco Morales
Marco Morales, Founder / Creative Director at Little Big Epic creative agency

Business Management

What should I do next to grow my business into a successful company?

Marco,As you've already mentioned, partnering with a more business minded person may be a good option for you. That is as long as you find someone that shares your vision.The other option is to "grow slow". This meas hiring very slowly so you don't eat too far into the revenue you are making. Also start with a small office and move when you absolutely can't fit in the existing space any longer. It may be very possible to grow the business with a very small team.Keep in mind until you have a solid pipeline of money / clients, you can always use freelance or contract workers as you need more people for a specific contract or client. If working with those people goes well, keep them in mind for full time employement once you've grown enough to make that investment.

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Would you rather lose a client or lose a staff member?

Gary,I would somewhat echo what Huy wrote. I would most likely want to keep all of my staff, unless someone was causing problems for the overall team or not meeting expectations. If you've done your due diligence when hiring, it'd probably be hard to let someone go.However, from a client perspective I would examine a few more items. If the client is always difficult to work with, it would be an easy decision to stop working with them. I think the main concern before losing a client would be to consider, how much of your business will be impacted by not having their business? If cutting a client loose (even a difficult one) would impact your business to the point of closing your business you need to do some hard looking. Build up some additional clientele before cutting the client off. I would take that approach to ensure that if I lose a client, my staff would still have jobs.

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Which customer relationship management software do you use?

If you use gmail, you should give Streak a look, https://www.streak.com/I've used it before and found it helpful. But it isn't an entire CRM ecosystem, so pick one based on your specific needs.

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What Are Some Great Activities You Have Done At A Team Day?

Lego CommunicationFirst build a model with Legos (can be anything, but typically a house or a layout works best)Take a picture of the model you builtDocument each type of piece and the quantity neededCreate Lego packets for teams (one packet per team). The packet should include all the necessary parts to build the model along with a handful of other parts. When explaining the activity to the group, tell them 1 person per team will get a picture of the model (each team builds the same model).What is the hook? Only the person with the picture can explain the picture. Limit the words they can use to the color of the piece, the location of the piece, the size of the piece and what level that piece is on.The team has to work together to find all the correct pieces, and to assemble them. The hard part is the picture may not show all pieces within the model (as the picture is in perspective so one side may not be visible). This goes into trying to explain what piece may be logical.This of course leads to team discussion (and maybe some small arguments).The most important thing is to set a time limit, of say 10 to 15 minutes maximum. After that time has expired, ask all teams to stop building. Walk around and look at the models. How close were the teams to matching them?Ask them what they struggled with and why. Then speak about the importance of clear communication.Cheers!

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What have been your biggest challenges in starting a business?

Shawn,I would say knowing all the licensing and permits needed as well as which paper work is important and when it needs filed. Paper work is my largest enemy.

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How can I get a venture capitalist to pay attention to me?

Debra,One of the most important ways to get a venture capitalist excited about your business is by looking for the right connections.You don't want to approach just any VC. You want to approach VCs that are interested your business industry or type of business.You also need to customize information you are sending to individual VCs so they can tell there is a personal touch (don't blast out stock emails to a bunch of VCs).One of the best ways to attract investors is to have you business positioned correctly. There are key metrics that VCs find more tantalizing than others, so know them. Some questions and metrics to keep in mind:Do you have a repeatable method of monetizing your business / users?Are you cash flow positive? If you aren't, when will you be?What is your cash burn rate per month?How many Monthly Active Users (MAU) do you have? Is it increasing?Who is on the team and what are their areas of expertise?Do you currently have any mentors or advisors? What are their strengths?How much money are your trying to raise?What will you do with that amount of money specifically? How will it help the business?If you can answer more than half of those questions, you should put a slide deck together or start looking for pitching opportunities. If you can't answer even half of those questions, wait until you can before approaching a VC.

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Would you advertise in LinkedIn or is it just sharing knowledge?

It can definitely be a great place to connect with interested individuals. For example, if people are following your business page, chances are they want to keep up to date with company news, job openings or just see what you post about.If your company page is followed by other businesses, those may be companies looking for strategic alignment efforts with you, just watching the type of content you share or perhaps even your competitors keeping tabs on you.I think LinkedIn could be a good place to advertise if you are in the Business to Business (B2B) space. I don't see it being as powerful for connecting with consumers.

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What Methods Do Small Businesses Use To Track Their Sales?

Samantha,That is a great question and as a solo entrepreneur myself, I've run into this issue as well. When I first started out, I was keeping track on post-it notes. Crazy right? But I was so focused on the product and making the sale that I was much less concerned than I should have been about keeping track.I eventually created a spread sheet. I still use a version of the spreadsheet, but I try to capture all my sales electronically as they happen. This could be swiping their card using my Square dongle which generates the invoice or just printing out a paper invoice and keeping a copy until I can manually enter it into the system.I'm working toward keeping track in a cloud based accounting system, but I haven't quite made it there yet. I'm hopeful to get that done in the coming months.

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What value/benefits would you like a VA to bring to your business in the short to long term?

I currently don't use any VA services myself, but if I were to start I'd be looking for the following:Good communicatorCheerful / Pleasant personality and demeanorReliableDetail oriented for capturing notes and meeting schedulesKnowledgeable about my business so they sound integrated not phony

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Any suggestions for hosting a straightforward e-commerce site?

My two cents is I'm preparing to move to Shopify after a lot of consideration. It just has some really slick integrations and the interface is very pleasant. It is a bit more costly than my current solution, SnipCart. Prior to looking at SnipCart I was eyeing Shoprocket. It is a great product, but didn't suit my specific needs as well as I'd have liked.There is also Celery, which seems pretty straightforward, but I haven't used it personally. Just keep in mind there are plenty of great platforms out there, but you need to use the one that ultimately fits your needs.

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What Is The Silliest Mistake You Made Regarding Your Business?

Mine would probably not remembering when tools and software transition from the discounted promotional or trial rate to the full price. I'm constantly shocked at bills going up, but it is just because I don't keep good track of when those billing cycles and rates change. I'm working on improving this by keeping a spreadsheet.

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Is There A Rule In Using Google Images For Flyer Advertising?

I can only speak to copyright from the U.S. perspective. Using images directly from google in printed or digital marketing and/or advertising materials can put you in a sticky situation. The reason is you are using someone else's images without their consent. If they spot you using their images they can look into the matter in several ways.They can see if you show up on a list of people that purchased the image(s). If you and/or your company are not on that this they can proceed (however, they may skip this step).They can send a cease and desist letter either directly or from an attorney (this may mean you have to pull all the material from being sent out or seen).They can sue for damages Also, there are different licenses to consider when using images. Some are fine to use for personal use. Some you still have to pay to use in personal use. Many times for commercial use you must pay over and above what is charged for personal use because you are having more exposure based on someone else's work.There are plenty of lower cost stock photography places, iStock photo, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Unsplash, etc. Ensure sure you purchase the proper size (resolution) for the type of medium the image will be presented in. Also make sure the license aligns to how you plan on using the image.Lastly if you can. I would highly suggest either taking images yourself (if you have a semi-pro or professional level camera yourself). If you cannot shoot the images yourself you can always hire a freelance photographer to take the pictures you want and work out the copyright in the contract.There are plenty of accessible ways to provide high quality photographs or graphics without outright stealing them from Google Images. Google Images is a great place to start for inspiration, but shouldn't be used for pulling images into commercial work. Remember just because the image is on Google doesn't mean it is the correct size, resolution or format for your needs. And using it could get you into more trouble than its worth.

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Have you ever employed a web developer/designer?

I personally haven't employed any. However, web design and front-end development are both skills I have. I've also partnered with more technical people in the past. What type of information are you looking for? Or what would you find helpful to know?

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If You Could Automate One Part Of Your Job, What Would It Be?

Simone,Great question. I would have to say automate paperwork without hesitation. I really just dislike filling out forms and making sure the right form is filled during the correct time and such. If I could automate all of my paperwork (office and legal) I would do it in a heartbeat.How about you?

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How Do You Stay Connected With A Network When Everyone Is Busy?

I personally do my best to make it to several meetups or networking events each month. I also send out emails or direct messages (DMs) on Twitter to specific individuals. I also set up a bit of time each week to reach back out to reconnect with those I haven't heard from lately.

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Do You Have Experience With Acquiring A Technical Co-Founder?

Hey Darren,Great question. I have had success in acquiring a Technical Co-Founder. The process took awhile (and it should because it is important). Finding a co-founder (technical or not) is very similar to dating and relationships. You need to take time to find out if you mesh well as a business team. You need to build up a friendship and trust.I always suggest starting on a small piece of the business or an unrelated short project that you can complete to see how well you work together before committing to a long term partnership.The next factor in acquiring a technical co-founder depends how you plan to compensate them. Are you starting with them from the ground up and only offering equity? Ensure that the percentage you agree to give them vests over time (as should everyone with equity). Also ensure they get equity that matches the level of effort and expertise they are bringing with them. If you are offering pay and / or equity ensure that the blend makes sense (again with vesting on the equity).The most important thing is that you give them latitude on the technical side to make the best suggestions and implement the best solutions (especially if it is not your expertise). A co-founder wants to be able to add value and not be micromanaged.Lastly when looking for a technical co-founder you need to look where technical people spend their time. Try connecting with people already in your social network (friends or friends of friends). Try looking through your professional connections to see if anyone you've already worked with or know may be interested in the venture. Then if you still have not found someone, start looking on places it GitHub where developers spend a lot of their time. You can search by location and see what type of projects they are interested and currently working on to see if things make sense.

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Would You Use Warm Leads In Your Area To Cover For Your Industry?

I'm not sure I would, but based on the industries I'm in (ecommerce retail of stationery and paper goods and publishing children's books) I am not really in the type of industries that pursue that type of lead funnel. Or at least if I am, I haven't heard of it being used by anyone in my professional networks.I suppose if the items I was selling were big ticket items or recurring subscriptions it would be a different story.

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Can I link FB, IG etc so one post goes automatically to all?

I would also recommend looking at Buffer (which is similar to Hootsuite).Another alternative to checkout is IF or IFTTT also known as "If This Then That". It is a mobile app that has tons of easy to setup integrations. It can work around some of the issues mentioned above (like turning a picture into a link - it will keep a picture intact across networks for example).There is 1 counterpoint I want to mention. There are several sources that are telling people and businesses not to use functions like this for 1 reason. Each social network has its strong points and weaknesses. You should not only tailor your content to your audience, but also the specific social network.Remember focused content directed toward your target audience is more important that frequently blasting out the exact same content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. If you are sharing the same content on all channels why would anyone follow you on more than 1 channel?

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Are You Responsible For Selling Your Own Products And Services?

I am responsible for selling my own products and services. I would say for me it swings between love and loathing. I love interacting with customers. I'm great at being able to assess their needs quickly and get a sense of what motivates them. I believe that I can quickly articulate the value of my products and services clearly. I'm also great at selling because I show my passion for my products and present things as a storyteller. I don't struggle selling things in person.What I loathe is selling online. It's a bit newer to me and I'm still wrapping my brain around the marketing and advertising pieces. However, conveying your passion and story online is more difficult, not because I can't write good copy, but because of the limited attention span of customers while on mobile devices. I feel like it is harder to break through to customers because of distractions and multitasking.This year I'm really trying to up my game selling online.

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The Most Useful Sources For Market Data Industry Size, Value etc

Well it depends if you are talking directly about the information or about tools to evaluate that information. Here in the United States there are lots of public documentation available if you are willing to track it down. Much of the information you mentioned would be located in Census data. Now, it must be taken with a grain of salt because typically Census data is only collected every 10 years.Also another great place to look is just some searching on your industry for whitepapers or market reports.

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Which entrepreneur or business person, from the past or present, inspires you the most?

It would be too challenging for me to pick just one so here is my list:Jim Henson (Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, etc.)Walt Disney (7 plane camera, theme parks, cartoons and movies)Dr. Seuss (political cartoons, advertisements, children's books, animated shorts)Chuck Jones (Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, Pepe le Pew, Marvin Martian, animated Tom & Jerry and helped animated Dr. Seuss shorts)Tex Avery (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Ducky, Porky Pig and Droopy)Going a bit further backBenjamin FranklinVoltaireLeonardo Da VinciI know it is quite a weird mix of people, and many of their were illustrators / animators. However, I feel like the best way to create the future is to spend time in the unknown (imagination) and those people had it in spades.

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Does anyone know how to market label or get it into stores?

It really depends on your brands positioning. Are you looking for an exclusive partnership? Wide distribution? Or are you focusing on niche / boutiques?Some of the above questions should easily be answered by how your brand is positioned. If you are "premium" you should look for an exclusive partnership or boutiques. If you are going for "trendy" you should focus on boutiques and high end department stores. If you are going for "affordable" you should aim at large chain stores.The deal has to work for both you and the retailer to make sense for both of your brands. Do you have your whole sale pricing in place? If not, you need to understand your price point for whole sale customers before you start reaching out to them.

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What App Should I Use To Make An Explainer Video Or Slideshow?

Michelle,I think it really depends on your needs and comfort level with software. YouTube has a built in "Creator Studio" it may not be as robust as some apps, but obviously it integrates well with YouTube.I know many people that use Adobe After Effects, but if don't already own a copy or are not familiar with it, the pricing and learning curve may overwhelm you.I'm not really aware of any mobile apps specifically designed for creating explainer videos, but I'd be happy to hear about them from others.

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Does anyone have any experience good or bad using Upwork?

I've used the platform on and off for a while. I've tried to land some side gigs on there with no avail, but I do know that there are some developers and other professionals making decent money on that platform.I've had good results using Fiverr, but you really have to complete a lot of due diligence so you aren't disappointed with the results.Look for people with high ratings and positive reviews. From there connect with them in a conversation (direct message, email) to ensure they understand what you are looking for and are comfortable with your expectations and timeline.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Have you outsourced any work and found it hard to control?

Matthew,I have seen this in some of my previous work experiences, however, I think it vastly depends on how well you vet or verify the people you outsource work. I believe that you you conduct your due diligence you're more likely to find a good long term partner. The next part is working on that professional relationship in an ongoing manner. Constantly working on the relationship helps surface areas of frustration before they lead to problems (like them trying to steal your clients).Speaking specifically about one of my ventures, children's books. I can say I did my due diligence in getting a solid illustrator. I've worked with him on a platform for about a year. Then we took it off that platform so he could give me better pricing and make a bit more money himself. We've been working together for almost 2 years now and it is a great relationship.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Which are your favourite apps that help you run your biz or life in general?

Some of my most frequented apps are the following:Social MediaTwitterLinkedInPinterestInstagramCommunicationSlack / Google Hangouts / SkypeGmailFreelance Gigs / WorkersFiverrProject ManagementTrelloGitHubLearningPrimer (by Google)Coursera

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are your goals for the new financial year?

I have a variety of goals this year for my greeting card venture.create another 50 greeting card designslaunch the quarterly subscription serviceget more active marketing & advertising cards / online shopAnd on my children's book venturebuy the ISBNs I need (within next week or two)get first title out on Kindle buy end of July (aggressive but hopeful)work on getting first book on other platforms (ibooks, nook, etc)prepare next several titles for launch in the following months

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What do people use to send automated SMS reminders linked to a calendar?

The only one that comes to mind for me is Twilio - however, I haven't personally used it, but I've heard good things about it.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Do you have marketing rules you constantly remind yourself of?

I have two pretty important ones:Customers Are Everything - without customers you are really just a hobby not a business. Listen to customer feedback and adapt your product, service and company if necessary.Be Different And Authentic - consumers are overloaded with "me too" companies that don't really offer anything different. You cannot and should not try to be everything to everyone. Take a specific stand and stay true to that vision in your products, services, marketing voice and customer interaction.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

When Ad Link appears in your search results how do you react?

Great question. My reaction is based on the relevance of the information. If it is related to what I just searched on, I may click on it. However, if it is just the corporate website for something I'll scroll down and click the actual link (regular results not sponsored) simply because sometimes the sponsored ads take you to a landing page instead of the actual home page.I am probably the odd exception. When I'm searching for something, I usually go 5 to 10 pages deep within the search results. Why? I want to know that I'm finding quality information, not just highly ranked or sponsored. Think of every page after page 3 as where all the "Indie" results are.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Would you attend training Workshop Run over 5 consecutive days?

I'm a bit confused by the question and the additional information. The first way (in the question) sounds as if it would be all 5 classes within the span of 1 week. The other way makes it sound like 1 day a week for 5 weeks. Those are very different formats.Aside from that, I would say you need to keep your target audience in mind. What time are they likely to get off work? Will you be providing food or beverages? Consider people may be hungry if after work but before they eat. I would say one night a week would be easier for people to attend than one week of 5 days back to back.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Why are you in business?

The two main reasons I am in business (and in the businesses I am in) are the following:I'm passionate about the industry (and my products and services)I want to solve a problem for customers and connect with them

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How Do You Deal With Business Owners Sensitive To Criticism?

If you were hired by the business owner as a consultant or outside vendor, it is your duty to remind them that they sought you out.Remind them that you are trying to help them improve their business not hurt it. Remind them that you understand change won't necessarily be easy, but refusing to change to cause long term damage to their business if they don't make adjustments now.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How Do You Start Researching The Market On Any Product?

I typically review the major players and the industry and look at what they aren't doing well, or aren't doing at all. Those gaps are the best opportunities.After that, I'll do research into how much a potential revenue / profit is happening within that industry. I'm essentially trying to determine if the gap is a large enough opportunity to pursue for the potential money it could generate.Once I know that, it is one to researching the major demographics that are interested in those types of products and services. I can help narrow my target users as well as find out what is currently frustrating and delighting them.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What fonts do you find the most professional?

John,I'll give you some insights from a designer's perspective (I do graphic, branding, web and user experience just to name some). Why is mentioning those disciplines important? They all factor into typography choices and ideas.First you must think about your format (or media). Fonts that look great on paper do not always translate well to online consumption.Unless a font is selected for artwork (poster, flyer, or a logo) you want to minimize the strain you are putting on your audience (e.g. would you want to read an entire book printed in cursive or calligraphy? No, the strain would hurt your eyes).There are literally 1000's of fonts you could choose from, however, you should always keep your audience and the amount of words in mind.Popular fonts online are Roboto (Android), Ubuntu, Helvetica Neue and San Francisco (iOS) as well as classic Helvetica and Arial.In my opinion fonts that should always be avoided are (Comic Sans, Papyrus and Stencil). These fonts are typically overused, hard to read and just plain obnoxious.Good fonts for printed material are Verdana, Univers, Gill Sans and Courier New. These are easier to read printed out than many other fonts.Again, adapt for your needs, but do try to avoid mixing more than 2 to 3 typefaces (in all applications).

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are the key questions you have when starting a business?

As Kristy mentioned business (entity) structure and bookkeeping / accounting are super important, however, I think there are some other key aspects to consider.What type of business are you "really" trying to start?Meaning, are you trying to just make some money or are you launching in an area of expertise or passion? It will make a difference.Have you validated that there is a market for your business product / service?Make sure you are launching something that people want before spinning up a business (I've wasted time and money getting a business legal that never panned out). Validate before you become a legal business if possible.Are you taking this leap alone or are you building a team?This impacts everything from legal structure to necessary office size. You need to plan for resources and benefits accordingly.Do you have all the necessary skills to get your business off the ground?If not, you need to determine if hiring employees or using external consultants makes the most sense for your needs.Do you have a mentor or advisor?Get serious about getting your business in gear. An advisor or mentor can give you valuable insight and help keep you on the right course. Leverage their experience and wisdom.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Loading A Theme To A WordPress Says It's Too Big, Any Ideas?

Joel's suggestion is a good one, however, if that route doesn't seem to get you moving in the right direction, you can always upload the files manually into the correct folders within the Wordpress structure.This can be done with an SSH approach or by using an FTP client. Again, this is a less than ideal approach, but if the suggestion above isn't getting you traction it is definitely an option.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Which email marketing service is the best?

Aside from the above recommendations, I would encourage you to check out Email Octopus. Their pricing is pretty great (I'm considering switching from Mailchimp).

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What's the single greatest resource you know about marketing?

I've a big fan of the book "Punk Marketing", it is a not a super recent book, but very interesting.Also, I'm a huge fan of the smart phone app called "Primer". It is a Google app, but it focuses on marketing, strategy, design and other related topics. Each lesson is a 5 to 10 minute lesson that is interactive and engaging.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are good ways of increasing social media engagement?

I personally believe the best way to increase social media engagement is the followingBe on the networks where your customers areShare valuable content (don't just try to sell)Actually talk with followers (don't automate your feed and never look back)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What Topics Do You Attend Webinars For, How Long Should It go?

I attend webinars for product training and industry topics (design and business). I typically am not interested in a webinar longer than 2 hours (unless it is a mandatory webinar). I actually prefer 1 hour long webinars that happen during lunch time (between 11AM and 1PM).What annoys me about webinars?An unprepared hostPeople hijacking the Q&A section (not allowing others to get their questions answered)Shoddy material (low quality images / video)A host that doesn't pay attention to questions and comments in the chat section

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

A Customer Said They Only Pay By Credit But We Don't Accept Them

I'm fairly sure it is available in your location but you may want to look at Stripe, https://stripe.com/au - sign up is quick and their interface is pretty great.Don't lose a big (or any) client to lack of payment options.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Lucy Cook
Lucy Cook, Solopreneur at Lucy Cook

Business Planning

If you had a captive lawyer at no cost, what questions would you want answered for your business?

I would ask about the following topics:Royalty agreementsTrademarking word marks and logos

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are some ways in which you reward key employees?

I totally agree with Greg but would like to add that everyone deserves recognition for a job well done. Consider the individual before deciding how to display that recognition.Do they enjoy public recognition?Would they prefer to get more personal handwritten "thank you" note?Types of rewards that can work when properly aligned:Additional vacation time (could be an extra day, or week)Loyalty bonus (specific dollar amount for milestone years of service)Flexible Work Hours or Location (let them work around their life schedule when and where they are comfortable)Paid Experience (could be going to an industry conference, or just a fun adventure)Additional Education / Training (put up money toward a degree, class or certification)Promotion (could be pay raise or just a new title to reflect their effort)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Do you use social media as a tool for customer service? If so, how?

I would also add that several platforms lend themselves toward customer service better than others. I believe the primary social networks that are leveraged for customer service in order of usage (for customer service) are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.I haven't heard of people using Pinterest, but I don't see why it couldn't be leveraged for that. I suppose it depends on how frequently people are commenting on your pins.I think the main idea is that you need to be where you customers are (complimenting or complaining). Another way to know how your customers feel are to set alerts (on both Google and Social Networks through programs like IFTTT or Buffer and Hootsuite).What for "mentions" of your brand and hashtag usage.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are five good ways to reduce a business' operating costs?

Only purchase what you need, when you need it. Don't buy for what you will need 3 months from now or 2 years from now, unless you can really justify the expense.Revisit competitive analysis on the supply vendors you are using. This is especially true if your current vendors are not meeting or exceeding your expectations. Compare other vendors to see if you could see potential savings. However, if you have great vendors in place, don't change from a great vendor to save a few dollars. You'll definitely regret it.Try leaving the lights off for an hour or two in the morning. You may be surprised what you can get accomplished with natural light. This will help reduce your utility spend.Use your additional space wisely. Do you have a bit more space than you are using but hesitate to down size to a smaller office? Rent space out to professionals or freelancers that can work remotely. Charge them a daily, weekly or monthly fee in exchange for a desk, wi-fi, coffee, printer use and potentially using meeting room space if they need to interface with a client or take a call.If you can't figure out ways to save on your own, hire a cost-saving consultant to generate more ideas on ways to save.I hope the above information is helpful.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What it is that stops you from signing up to a course that you know you need?

There are several things that stop meNot offered at a convenient time (based on my schedule - during the week is not great as some companies don't help pay for course so you have to use vacation time to attend - so you are paying twice, the course fee and the vacation days you have to use)Not offered at a convenient location (if it isn't close enough to get to by car or mass transit it will impact decision). If I have to pay for a hotel room (one or more days) that also ups the "total cost" of the course.Negative reviews from other trusted professionals - If I hear that the course instructor was unpleasant or that the material covered was not beneficial, I'd probably not attend.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Just wondering what is a fair price to pay per lead and whether you found it worthwhile?

I'm very interested in the answers on this as well. But I would say a fair price would depend on the Life Time Value (LTV) of the customer. What is an average purchase? How much do your average to higher than average customers spend?If the average purchase is $10 and they only buy 3 times a year ($30) I don't know that you'd want to pay more than $1 - $5 per lead.However, if your average sale is $2000 and they only buy once per year, paying $10 - $50 may make sense.It all depends on price of goods and frequency of purchases.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What social platforms can I use to promote an event?

You may also want to checkout Nvite, https://nvite.com/features , it has pretty good pricing as well.However for actually spreading the word, it may depend on your audience. If it is professionals LinkedIn would be good. If it is consumers LinkedIn is probably not ideal.If you are trying to up the anticipation you could try live streaming in the lead up to the event with, Periscope, Meerkat, Youtube Live (I think Facebook even offers something now). ,

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Does the padlock at a checkout mean your page is secure?

Matthew,Great question. I don't have all the information, but I can tell you that there are different levels of protection. The main thing is that "HTTP" is the protocol, "HTTPS" directs the URL toward the Secure Socket Layer (SSL). There are several types of SSL, a self-signed certificate (which can be created essentially for free) and certificate an individual or business purchases (more reliable and secure - as well as usually verifiable).There are different levels of security as well 128-bit encryption, 256-bit encryption (these two are perhaps the most common). However, they do go higher (512-bit, 1024-bit and possibly beyond). The higher the number the better the encryption (and hopefully security)There is also PCI compliance (or Bank Level Security). There are several visual variations to the lock (there is a "black lock", a "green lock" and entire "green URL bar". These aren't necessarily indicators of more or less security but they levels of perceived security (usually you pay a lot for the entire green URL bar).The important thing is do you trust the website and does it have the lock? You can usually click on the lock or an "info" icon next to it to get detailed information. You can also set your browser level security to help filter.As always, if something seems off, leave the site immediately.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

I am in the market for a bank loan. What kind of information should be included in the business plan?

Helena,Each bank may have their own requirements but there are some key pieces of information that you'll do well to include.Your personal investment - How much of your own money have you already put into getting the business going? (banks will want to know that you are dedicated to making it happen)Your applicable skills and experience - This goes for you and anyone else on the team. Speak to your expertise and experience. Also mention anyone else on the team with deep knowledge of the industry. Mention any mentors or advisors that are helping you either personally or as part of your board.Be specific about amount needed - Be as specific as possible with the amount of money you are looking to borrow. You don't want to get a loan that doesn't give you enough capital to expand or accelerate. You also don't want to over-borrow and be stuck with huge monthly loan payments.Be specific about how it will be spent - Be clear about what all the money is earmarked for once you get the loan (employee salaries, necessary equipment, office space, etc.).Mention community impact - Be vocal about how your business will positive impact the community (planned jobs created, if you are revitalizing a vacant / old building, how you will give back to the community either through donated time or money, etc.).Revenue / Profit Projections - Many institutions will want to see your planned revenue and profit projects in intervals (6 months, 12 months, 3 year, 5 year). Keep in mind the further out you go the less accurate these numbers will be. However, do your due diligence and base it on industry information and research).

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What part time jobs would you suggests which offer the flexibility needed when running a business full time?

Great question James. I still work full-time on top of my several ventures.Ideas for part-time work:Freelancing - provide services you know on a freelance or contract basis. This can work great for business advice, design work, PR, social media management, copy writing, bloggingWaiting tables, Bar Tending or Barista - these jobs typically have fairly good flexibility for hours and times if you need to work around business meetings or such.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

How do you decide what product designs to release?

This question could easily become multiple articles or even several books, but it is a solid question.Look for Opportunity - what or where are the current gaps within the market? What are competitors not doing? Who are they not serving? Get Validation - ask your "ideal user" or "target customer". You can ask your friends and family if they meet your target users, however, it is much better to get candid feedback from people you don't know (family and friends tend to be overly agreeable). At this point using Polls and Surveys can be helpful. Also, test the waters on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo and see if people are actually willing to pay for what you are producing.Deliver Minimum value first - This follows the "Lean Startup" methodology of building your minimal viable product. This doesn't mean release a buggy product or one that hasn't been thought through, it just means delivering the smallest functionality that will work properly and still provide value for your customers.Iterate on your product or service - you must always look to add additional value to your product and service. Look for ways to improve it (features, functionality, usability improvements, cost reduction, a product line instead of one product, etc.). Iterating is a continuous process, so repeat from 1 to 4.Does that make sense? I'd be happy to hear if you have additional questions on this topic.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What does everyone use for email databases?

I have really only used Mailchimp (and have had good experiences with them). However, there are some other interesting options out there such as ConstantContact, Aweber, Email Octopus, etc.The main thing is that you need to find the service that matches your needs for the following as your business grows:PricingFeatures / FunctionalityEase of Use (usability)Integration (does it integrate to your shop, website, invoicing, etc.)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Does anyone know how to make a editable pdf file for my online program?

There are several ways you can look into going about this:You will need Adobe Acrobat Pro (I believe) to have this ability within the "Tools" section. There will even be an option at the end of the form you can add a button that sends completed forms to your email address.You can create interactive documents in Microsoft Word as well. I've used these successfully when deploying them as surveys. However, if you export an interactive Word document to PDF, I am not sure if it will keep the interactive parts or not. Sorry, I haven't tried that functionality.You could add a link to an interactive Google Form document for them to fill out as they are going through the material (this could also be submitted to you and used as a lead capture if you get their names and emails - if you aren't capturing them elsewhere)

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are the ways to improve website speed?

I would also add that you should only use enough to accomplish your goal.What do I mean? Not every website needsto be Wordpress.social media feedstons of pluginsmore than 2 web fontsHD pictures or videouser registration / loginOnly build or use the functionality necessary to convey your message or run your business. Think about how things will load on mobile (which is much different than on a laptop or desktop computer).If people don't want to use a lot of cellular data, you'll likely not get people to visit on their mobiles and/or tablets if just loading your home page chews through data.This about the function of your website, your customers and their devices.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What are the key elements you take into consideration before choosing to work with a production house for videos?

I think reputation and online presence go hand-in-hand. In this day and age if the production house is not posting work on social media (Youtube, Instragram, Vine, Vimeo and their own website) maybe stay clear.Also pick a company that is aligned to your goal. Do you want creative control or are you willing to let them handle it? Many creative agencies that are top producers will want the ability to develop their own concept.However, if you have a specific concept and script and actors in mind you need to go with an agency that is setup more for shooting and editing.I would say that recommendations are always key (at least when they come from people you trust). Online reviews are helpful, but I would prioritize a recommendation from a trusted business partner or client first. Always review the website and content of previous videos (even when recommended to ensure they align with your goals as well).

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

What is one thing you would like to become better at?

Running and understanding the intricacies of analytic platforms and growing my sales funnel.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

For those who have online courses with videos, what platform do you use and why?

Mine is not yet up and running, but I'm going to be using https://www.withcoach.com/ - I'm impressed with the product so far. I'm still in the process of chunking the class material and getting ready to shoot the videos.

Jef Lippiatt answered this question

Which of these do you think is the most and which the least important when it comes to a healthy working environment?

I think that employee recognition is definitely important. However, I would rank team-building at the same level as employee recognition. The entire team needs to be cohesive. That doesn't mean they have to become best friends, but they need to understand how to work well with one another. They also need see goals as team goals (meaning not try to throw others under the bus to advance their own career).This creeps well into company culture which is a subject I could expand upon indefinitely.Having good benefits will make help employees feel valued, but the team dynamic and individual recognition will keep progress moving forward.

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