Archive for the ‘Tips & Advice’ Category

TechWadi Marks Launch Of Entrepreneurship Initiative In Egypt

| October 22, 2010 – 1:50 pm | comment 5 Comments

On October 25-26th, 2010; TechWadi, the Silicon Valley-based non-profit organization working to promote entrepreneurship in the Arab world, will be hosting two days of free events that are focused on developing the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Egypt and the MENA region.

On October 25th, at the Smart Village Convention Center in Cairo, Egypt; hundreds of entrepreneurs, executives and investors will join together at the Rising Tide Forum to build their networks, discover synergies, and learn from US and regional business leaders. [Agenda]

Panel leaders will address targeted topics of direct value to entrepreneurs and investors alike: venture capital and angel financing best practices; challenges and opportunities in Egypt; the role of mentors, incubators, and entrepreneurship education; mobile and Facebook applications; enterprise software; and a host of proven strategies ready to be transplanted into the MENA region.

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GoSolo Entrepreneurial Workshop: Raising Capital for Your Startup

| October 13, 2010 – 9:31 am | comment No Comments

Tandem, the Dubai-based business advisory company, will be hosting a 5th installment of GoSolo at The Shelter in Dubai, today Wednesday October 13th, 2010 at 7PM.

GoSolo is a series of entrepreneurial workshops organized by tandem and that aim to help and guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the different challenges of launching a startup and give them answers to all their various questions.

This month’s session, titled ‘Raising Capital for Your Startup‘, will include a discussion led by the founders of tandem, Rabih Brair and Amir Farha on the industry, and insights on what investors are looking for in today’s market. The topics include the regional investment landscape, the selection criteria that investors look at and a Q&A session with one of the founders of Duplays.

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Don’t sell me features!

| September 2, 2010 – 12:16 pm | comment 1 Comment

I want to emphasize the importance of selling benefits, not features. Every business owner, marketing professional, or sales person needs to realize that their customers buy benefits, not features (although features can influence their purchasing decision and would act as the Reason To Believe or commonly known as RTB in the advertising lexicon).

To understand what I mean, go to an electronics store, to the computer section specifically, and observe the laundry list of specifications they put next to each laptop displayed. It’s strange that although the laptop is a device for the masses, store owners still show a whole list of features and technical specs that only an experienced person or a computer engineer can understand. It is only when you translate these list of features into benefits that you are able to understand what they mean and consequently more likely to purchase the products.

Think of your advertising campaigns. Are you selling features or the benefits?
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What do Bruce Lee, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble have in common?

| August 30, 2010 – 10:42 am | comment 1 Comment

The topic of today is about brand/product distribution, an often neglected but nevertheless crucial element for the success of your business.

Bruce Lee, the cultural icon, acted in 20 films by the time he was 18. However his acting career really took off 13 years later, in 1971, in his first real leading role in the Big Boss, which catapulted him to stardom. His iconic figure was essentially created in just 2 years, between 1971 and 1973 when he teamed up with Golden Harvest, a dominating production and distribution company based in Hong Kong.

Microsoft’s dominance in the software industry is essentially attributed to the deal with IBM in 1980 which awarded Microsoft a contract to provide the DOS operating system in the IBM PC computers. Due to that partnership, Microsoft benefited from a massively distributed product to market (and sell) its software.

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What I learned from a taxi driver

| August 29, 2010 – 11:44 am | comment 4 Comments

The original title of this post was “are you suffering from paralysis-by-analysis” because that’s the topic I am going to talk about.

Paralysis-by-analysis (also known as analysis paralysis) is when you can’t take any action because you’re over thinking the details, over analyzing or over planning.

Yesterday morning, I called up a taxi at 5 AM to go to the airport. I was greeted with a big smile by this young energetic Pakistani taxi driver. I asked him about the reason for his cheerful mood. Filled with enthusiasm, he started telling me about his life story and how he struggled to get where he is. He took pride telling me how he pulled himself out of total poverty by taking many small jobs. He emphasized that as a poor young man, he could not afford to have a lot of time to think or over analyze his next move. While he would try to do a benefits/risks analysis, he mostly followed his gut feel to proceed to the next best job. His secret, he said, was this:

“Something is better than nothing, because nothing is nothing. It’s important to do something.”

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Is social media marketing overrated?

| August 26, 2010 – 9:51 am | comment 3 Comments

There has been a lot of buzz lately about social media marketing (SMM), its impact on business, and the feeling of necessity for companies to have a social-media-marketing-strategy. So I wanted to share my opinion and raise some important questions. First, social media is not Facebook or Twitter. It’s way more than this. But considering we want to limit to most popular tools Twitter, Facebook and Blogging, I still fail to see the impact of SMM on real business measures. Here is my rationale. I will give the case for UAE, representing Arabia.

Twitter: How many Twitter users are there in UAE (the most connected country in Arabia with 76% internet penetration)? 40,000? How many of those are active? 20,000? (If you know specific figures, please let me know). UAE has 3,777,900 internet users. So, with a super successful Twitter campaign, the maximum number of users any business can attract is only 0.5% of internet users. Pretty small number, no?

Facebook: I will not refer to Facebook ads reach, because advertising is not marketing. How many fans did the biggest Facebook campaign attract in UAE? How many of those fans were active? The numbers I have seen were close to 30,000 of active fans (I cannot disclose the campaign for confidentiality purposes). Again, it’s a pretty small number, no?

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What I learnt from Sylvester Stallone

| August 25, 2010 – 9:30 am | comment 6 Comments

There’s more depth to Sylvester Stallone’s story than what the movies that he starred in would let you think.

Sly knew what he wanted to do in his life since he was very young: he wanted to be in the movie business. But having little acting experience, a partially paralyzed face, and a slurry speech, he was turned down by hundreds of agent offices. To get one of his first acting jobs, he literally stayed overnight in one of the agents offices. After that nothing more came out for a while. He kept moving forward, rejection after rejection. Meanwhile he was starving, married, broke, jobless and desperate. He refused to get a regular job, to avoid being caught up in the rat race, to avoid being seduced with the comfort of a salary. He wanted to remain hungry for achieving his dreams.

He finally realized it wasn’t working, he changed his approach, he decided to start writing. He wrote a bunch of screenplays, but still, rejection after rejection, he kept trying until he sold 1 screenplay for 100$ (Paradise Alley that was shot a few years later). He kept going. At that time, he barely had 50$ on him. He was so broke he couldn’t even feed his dog anymore. He went to a liquor store and sold his dog for 25$. He was so attached to his dog that he went out of the liquor store and wept like a kid. It was the lowest point of his life.

Get off your chair and start selling!

| August 24, 2010 – 10:04 am | comment No Comments

Whether you started your business because you have a particular skill, a certain passion or out of frustration from your 8-5 job, you need to be constantly wearing the salesman hat; Why? simply because the lack of cash will kill your business. Cash is the oxygen to your business, once you run out of it, you run out of business. And constant selling is one of the best way to secure the cash.

As a founder, a business owner or a business partner, your job is to constantly secure enough cash for your business. Business won’t show up to your door. Users will not turn into $$ with a magic wand. People do not care about you. So get off you chair, go out and sell.

Put a target to meet 10 prospects, 20, even 50 per month. It’s a numbers game, out of 10 prospects, maybe 1 will become a customer (so 10% acquisition rate), maybe 2, or 5. You will only know by trying. And the good news is, your acquisition rate will eventually get higher with proper focus, constant learning, and practice.

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Protect your revenue base with the long tail strategy

| August 23, 2010 – 11:16 am | comment 1 Comment

In short and simple terms, the long tail strategy consists of selling a huge number of items in relatively small quantities. Items can be products or services. Quantities can also refer to prices.

As an example, Amazon.com and Netflix.com generate most of their revenue by selling a huge variety of products that are in low demand or have low sales volume. Google makes most of its advertising revenue not from large advertisers, but from the hundreds of thousands of small advertisers.

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The importance of laser beam focus

| August 22, 2010 – 11:14 am | comment No Comments

I can’t stress enough the importance of business focus. Lack of focus can literally make or break your business, especially as a young fragile startup, with limited resources.  It is very important to focus on your core strength, on your unique selling proposition, on a specific feature set, on your specific target audience, core product… whatever it is, just focus all your energy on that one thing and become the best at it.

When laying out the business model, and the financial forecast, it is easy to assume that out of all your potential customer base, you will get x% and project some monthly revenue numbers around them. However, when it comes to starting up a business, although focusing on revenue is a great thing, it is still not focused enough.

Consider focusing more by asking: which target audience is it best to focus on? which sector or industry? which product will you sell? Once you identify your target audience, sector and product, my tip is to go even a level deeper: Focus on getting 1 customer first, just 1 customer. Focus all your efforts, resources on getting that first customer. Hustle, follow up and do anything to close that first deal. Then, and only then, move on and focus on getting the 2nd customer, then 5 customers, then 10 and so on…

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