What do Bruce Lee, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble have in common?

| Aug 30, 2010 | 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

| Aug 29, 2010 | 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?

| Aug 26, 2010 | 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

| Aug 25, 2010 | 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.

Video: Online Shopping Portal Nahel.com At Dubai Tech Nights

| Aug 24, 2010 | comment 1 Comment

nahelNahel.com is an online shopping portal based out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates; that aims to become the biggest B2C online retailer in the region.

Nahel.com was founded by Saeid Hejazi, and was officially launched in July 2009. It currently only covers the UAE, although there are plans to expand to the GCC region, with hopes to reach the whole Middle East in the future.

They’ve worked on building an inventory of thousands of new brand-name products covering several categories, from electronics, to games to perfumes, watches and clothing. They source products from wholesalers and distributors in order to be competitive in terms of selection, quality and prices.

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Get off your chair and start selling!

| Aug 24, 2010 | comment Leave a comment

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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N2V Announces Investment In Emirati Startup Yebab

| Aug 23, 2010 | comment 1 Comment

YebabNational Net Ventures N2V, one of the top internet groups in the Middle East just announced its investment in Yebab.com, the Arab portal specialized in organizing wedding celebrations in the United Arab Emirates.

Rashid Al Ballaa, CEO of N2V, stated that the project comes in line with the group’s current and future plans to expand its presence at the regional and the international levels. The plan is obviously to enhance the portal’s growth and presence, expanding it into other Arab Gulf countries, and the rest of the Middle East region, establishing it as the most trusted wedding directory in the Arab world.

Yebab.com, which was launched from the UAE in 2009, has proven really successful in the UAE, becoming a leading portal providing a directory of wedding services in the country; including listings for the various suppliers and services from caterers to dressmakers, artists, photographers and traditional musicians. The site shows strong potential to perform just as well and more in other markets around the region.

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Protect your revenue base with the long tail strategy

| Aug 23, 2010 | 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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Yamli Releases Enterprise Version Of Arabic Query Expander

| Aug 22, 2010 | comment Leave a comment

YamliYamli, the company that brought us products like the Smart Arabic Keyboard and Yamli Arabic Search, is releasing an enterprise version of the technology being used for Yamli Arabic Search in the form of a product they’re calling Arabic Query Expander.

The new service provides a solution for search and data normalization problems when it comes to the Arabic language, by analyzing and identifying all the English and Arabic script variations of an Arabic word, increasing the probability to find matches for searches.

Yamli gives examples like the name “Mohamed Mansour” having at least 80 ways of spelling it, “Mohamed Saleh Abdallah” having 7000 variations, “Jumeirah” having 51 spellings, and the song “Habibi Ya Nor El Ein” having 1207 spelling variations; to make the case for the utility of this tool and how much it can help in solving this problem.

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The importance of laser beam focus

| Aug 22, 2010 | comment Leave a comment

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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