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Ten Steps to Surviving a Start-Up

                   Ten Steps to Surviving a Start-Up

 

When reflecting upon my last 10 months in the auto industry I’ve found it necessary to write a short re-cap of what I’ve learned working for two different start-up companies, so that in the future those of you who find themselves working for a start-up, has some sort of step by step process to help you succeed.

 

The following 10 steps may not apply for every start-up, but the core lessons learned are here and can be tailored to your particular situation.

 

 Steps:

 

  1. When researching the company that has extended an offer to you. Make absolutely sure that you whole-heartedly believe in the product or solution the company has to offer. Don’t just simply take the job out of necessity, because all that is going to do is cause you more pain and potentially cause you to garnish your relationships with your current book of business. Unless you’re a self-proclaimed seller of ice to Eskimos, selling a product that you don’t necessarily believe in, is almost impossible to do.
  2. If you have found your way past step 1 and landed on step 2 then more than likely you are encouraged that the product and or solutions that the company has to offer is solid, but you still have some work to do. Do your due diligence and make sure that the people that you will be working for and with are on par with the people whom you normally like to surround yourself with. What I mean by this is simple. Before you take the offer of employment, research the CEO. Find out what he or she has done in the past. Are they cutting edge? Find out how the CEO has treated his or her employees in the past. Research the current staff that is in place, these are the people that you will be working with hand in hand on a daily basis. Find out how they handle themselves under pressure, because when you work for a start-up there are going to be days when the pressure can be insurmountable.
  3. So if you have found yourself on step 3 then you have completed some heavy research and have liked the results that you come up with. Now you need to see what processes the company has in place. Every start-up has a business plan that will include a process and or processes that circle around how the product or solution is to be sold, maintained, handled, and executed. Depending on the position that you have been offered these processes may vary, but the idea still stays the same. A company without a process/plan is like a car without wheels. The car may start, but I guarantee its not going to go nowhere.
  4. If you have made it this far you’ve probably established one of two things. You are either a good fit for the company or you’ve decided that the company may not be a good fit for you. So now you have reached the pivotal moment of truth. Do you take the job or do you pass on the opportunity for something better. If you have decided to take the job, then proceed on to the next steps.
  5. No matter what position that you have been hired for, more than likely you have been hired because you are a subject matter expert in a particular field that in some facet pertains to the companies plan. Now this is great because in some way you have established yourself in the industry as a leader in your particular field, but remember when you are hired on at a start-up you may or may not be asked to perform tasks that doesn’t pertain to your field. Now I am a firm believer that you should always be learning new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone is always a good way to broaden your intellect, but remember that you have been given a task and even though you may be asked to do other things to help the company, don’t loose site of what you were hired for in the first place. If you are not a seasoned at multitasking then I would say a start-up is not the place to further your career path.
  6. Staying motivated is key when it comes down to making or breaking the start-up. You not only need to be motivated 24/7 but you need to learn how to motivate others as well. When working for a start-up you can almost guarantee that there are going to be days when you feel like licking your wounds and going home. Being motivated and motivating others through these rough patches can really make a difference when you or one of your colleagues are having a bad day.
  7. Being persistent is always a good trait to have, but when working for new start-ups persistence really plays a key role in business development. A new start-up has a core business plan with a product and or solution they want to present to the core audience. The only problem is sometimes the niche needs crafted into a diamond and that comes from persistence. You have to constantly take your core product or solution and evolve it into something that is constantly making sense to your audience.
  8. Don’t be afraid of change! No matter what industry you are in, you have to be able to adapt to change. In order for a new start-up to survive, change is has to be a constant and if you are not susceptible to an environment that is always changing then destination frustration is just right around the corner and its going to reach out and smack you square in the face. There is a great book that I read a long time ago called “Who moved my cheese?” that I recommend all young business students and anyone who is thinking about joining a start-up or starting a business of their own read. The book really puts into perspective how important it is to be able to adapt to change.
  9. No matter how well you think you may be doing, you always need to have reports to back up your results. This can be simple excel sheets or ornate, robust power points with pie charts, bar graphs, or whatever you seem fit to show your progress. Having these reports, whether they are asked for or not can really be great tools to not only help you develop, but help the company develop as well, because when its all said and done results are the only thing that matter when it comes down to getting the start-up off the ground.
  10. Last but not least, put in the time! Working for a start-up is not a 9 to 5 job. Be prepared to start early and work late, because you are going to have deadlines that need to be met and depending on how many projects have been assigned to you, you always have to make sure everything is done right, and done on-time, which may require you to put in more hours than what you initially thought would take to get the task completed.

     

Please remember that I am basing these steps on what I have learned working within the auto industry, but can be used and adapted to whatever industry that you may be in. The core principles are the same, just try to follow these steps and I am sure you too can survive a start-up.

 

If you have any questions or would like to comment on this article, please feel free to do so, also if you feel the need to share I welcome you to share with your networks and pass on what I have learned.

 

Thank You

Jason Parman

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Time - LA Williams

This time on our glorious planet is the most exciting time in history. We are going to see and experience the impossible becoming possible in every field of human endeavor and on every subject. As we let go of all thoughts of limitation, know that we are unlimited. We will experience the limitless magnificence of humankind, expressed through sport, health, art, technology, science, and every single field of creation.

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I know it's the heart of football season and the beginning of basketball season, but baseball is the sport that truly helps to illustrate this particular post. On social media, not all times are created equal. It's important to know where and when to place your pitches to let your fans and followers hit home runs for you.

 

There have been much more scientific studies that detail this. I have to disagree with most of these because they ones I've seen have missed an important aspect or two. For the most part, they're basing their research on when people are most active on social media and the volume of posts happening at that time. Unfortunately, this is an incomplete data set. I've based my research strictly on business engagement - when are people willing to interact with the companies they like and follow.

 

Also, I've taken into consideration the science behind the Facebook feed itself. For example, one of the "sweet spots" that nearly every study I've seen skips the dead zone of 5:00am-5:30am. Fewer people are up and about checking their social media at this time, so it's not on the list. This is a huge mistake. Getting in line to appear on Facebook and Twitter feeds means posting at the moment or right before people pick up their smartphones, flip open their tablets, or switch on their computers to hit social media. Posts in the dead zone performed exceptionally well for businesses as they weren't shoved down on the feeds by the ever-important friend posts.

 

In other words, people saw and engaged with these posts first thing in the morning, setting up a nice day with quick likes, comments, and shares. This helps with posts throughout the day.

 

It's important to understand where this data originated. Since May, 2012, I've been researching with actual business pages about times, content, tools, etc. This has been a real-world study based on trial and error as well as result tracking. I've read the studies. I've guided my research around them and improved on them with months of testing. These aren't theories. I've seen it all working in action.

 

With that out of the way, let's go straight into the sweet spots:

  • 7:30pm-8:00pm - While most studies considered 5am as too early to post, most of them also considered 8pm as too late. Data shows differently. This wasn't the case in the beginning of my research; the times when people are engaging with businesses on social media has elongated. On 37 of 42 pages posting at this time, we received the highest number of likes and comments as well as retweets and reblogs for posts that happened between 7:30pm and 8:00pm starting in August. Prior to that, the numbers were better from 7:00pm to 7:30pm. This is contrary to daylight trends and did not see a change after the most recent clock change, so I can say with a near certainty that the change is based upon people either staying on social media longer or starting later in the evening. Either way, this sweet spot is a must-time to post, particularly with messages that are either not time-sensitive or relevant for the following day.
  • 5:00am-5:30am - Again, this time is contrary to other studies, but as I mentioned above it's shown to be an amazing time for businesses to post. Strangely, this was not the case for my personal posts; things that I personally post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and my other individual social networks do not perform as well as the business posts.
  • 5:30pm-6:00pm - Depending on the study, this is either too late or right at the end of the best times to post. Engagement was high for these posts and helped to set up the engagement on the later post.
  • 10:00am-10:30am - This falls well within the recommended posting times on most studies I've read and performed better than posts done earlier or later in the morning. Videos did better at this time than other times, something that makes one wonder what people are doing a couple of hours after they get to the office.

One glaring omission is early afternoon. Nearly every study I've seen proclaims this time as social media gold. It is if you're posting pictures of little Timmy sliding into 3rd base. It's not if you're a business. Your posts get lost, particularly with recent changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm. We ran afternoon testing on over 120 business profiles and found that they simply didn't reach the audience the way that morning and evening posts did.

 

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This post has been coming for a long time. For the sake of transparency, I should note that I've been "sitting on it" for a while and relishing in the poor data and bad studies that are guiding many others in the industry, but guilt won out and it became time to come clean.

 

At the end of the day, the best thing to do is to find your sweet spot. Just like in baseball, not every batter likes it right down the middle. Some like it high and inside. Others go yard to the opposite field when they get pitches low and away. Your business, your demographic, your fan base - those are the things that should determine when you post. This is only a guide.

 

In the next part of this series, we'll discuss ideas surrounding the types of things to post at different times as well as the importance of understanding the days. The weekend can be a flurry of activity for your business profiles, while Wednesday in general is awful - surprising facts when you consider that businesses generally post more on Wednesday than Saturday and Sunday combined. Stay tuned.

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Aspen Photo / Shutterstock.com

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Quote of the Day

Time is one of the most valuable natural resources we have. It is also one of the most misused. Time management is a vital key to success. Think of how much time is wasted daily on complaining about things that are out of our control, arguing about things that have no value, and worrying about things that may never happen. The next time you feel yourself falling into one of these traps, try reading something motivational to boost your morale, take a moment to look at the big picture and see things from another perspective, or focus on the things within your control that can make life run smoother for you and others. 

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Total Indexed Count

Google says that this count is accurate (unlike the site: search operator) and is post-canonicalization. In other words, if your site includes a lot of duplicate URLs (due to things like tracking parameters) and the pages include the canonical attribute or Google has otherwise identified and clustered those duplicate URLs, this count only includes that canonical version and not the duplicates. You can also get this data by submitting XML Sitemaps but you’ll only see complete indexing numbers if your Sitemaps are comprehensive.

Google also charts this data over time for the past year.

Edited to add: Google has told me that the data may have a lag time of a couple of weeks, which makes it more useful for trends than for real-time action. Also, if you look at domain.com, you’ll see stats for all subdomains, and if you look at www.domain.com, you’ll see stats for only the www subdomain (of course this means that if you don’t use www for your site as with searchengineland.com, there’s no easy way to see this data with subdomain information excluded.)

Advanced Status: How This Data Is Useful and Actionable

The Advanced option provides additional details:

Google Index Status Advanced

Great, right? More data is always good! Well, maybe. The key is what you take away from the data and how you can use it. To make sense of this data, the best approach is to exclude the Ever Crawled number and look at it separately (more on that in a moment). So, you’re left with:

  • total indexed
  • not selected
  • blocked by robots

The sum of these three numbers tells you the number of URLs Google is currently considering. In the example above, Google is looking at 252,252 URLs. 22,482 of those are blocked by robots.txt, which is fairly straightforward. This mostly matches the number of URLs reported as blocked under Blocked URLs (22,346). Unfortunately, it’s become difficult to look at the list of what those URLs are. The blocked URLs report is no longer available in the UI, although it is available through the API. That leaves 229,770 URLs. Which means 74% of the URLs weren’t selected for the index. Why not? Is this bad? The trouble with looking at these numbers without context is that it’s difficult to tell.

Let’s say we’re looking at a site with 50,000 indexable pages. Has Google crawled only 31,480 unique pages and indexed all of them? (In this case, all of the not selected would be non-canonical URL variations with tracking codes and the like.) Or has Google crawled all 50,000 (plus non-canonical variations) but has decided only 31,480 of the 50,000 were valuable enough to index? Or maybe only 10,000 of those URLs indexed are unique, and due to problems with canonicalization, a lot of duplicates are indexed as well.

This problem is difficult to solve without a lot of other data points to provide context. Google told me that:

“A URL can be not selected for indexing for many reasons including:

  • It redirects to another page
  • It has a rel=”canonical” to another page
  • Our algorithms have detected that its contents are substantially similar to another URL and picked the other URL to represent the content.”

If the not selected count is solely showing the number of non-canonical URLs, then we can generally extrapolate that for our example, Google has seen 31,480 unique pages from our 50,000-page site and has crawled a lot of non-canonical versions of those pages as well. If the not selected count also includes pages that Google has decided aren’t valuable enough to index (because they are blank, boilerplate only, or spammy), then things are less clear. (Edited to add: Google has further clarified that “not selected” includes any URLs flagged as non-canonical (and the third bullet above  could include blank, boilerplate, or duplicate pages), with meta robots noindex tags, and that redirect and is not based on page quality.)

If 74% of Google’s crawl is of non-canonical URLs that aren’t indexed and redirects, is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it’s worth taking a look your URL structure. Non-canonical URLs are unavoidable: tracking parameters, sort orders, and the like. But can you make the crawl more efficient so that Google can get to all 50,000 of those unique URLs? Google’s Maile Ohye has some good tips for ecommerce sites on her blog. Make sure you’re making full use of Google’s parameter handling features to indicate which parameters shouldn’t be crawled at all. For very large sites, crawl efficiency can make a substantial difference in long tail traffic. More pages crawled = more pages indexed = more search traffic.

Ever Crawled

What about the ever crawled number? This data points should be looked at separately from the rest as it’s an aggregate number from all time. In our example, 1.5 million URLs have been crawled. But Google is currently considering only 252,252 URLs. What’s up with the other 1.2 million? This number includes things like 404s, but tor this same site, Google is reporting only 5,000 of those, so that doesn’t account for everything. Since this count is “ever” rather than “current”, things like 404s have surely piled up over time. Edited to add: Google has clarified that all numbers are for HTML files only, and not for filetypes like images, CSS files or JavaScript files.

In any case, I think this number is much more difficult to gain actionable insight from. If the ever crawled number is substantially smaller than the size of your site, then this number is very useful indeed as some problem definitely exists that you should dive into. But for the sites I’ve looked at so far, the ever crawled number is substantially higher than the site size.

Site size can be difficult to pin down, but for those of you who have good sense of that, are you finding that most of your pages are indexed?

Source - http://searchengineland.com/google-reveals-index-secrets-charts-indexing-of-your-site-over-time-128559

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Asana: An Introduction



Created by one of Facebook's co-founders, Asana is a free collaborative project/task manager that cuts down on meetings, e-mails, and wasted time and helps to keep co-workers up to date on different projects and tasks on a number of different projects simultaneously. Here's a more in-depth write up on Asana from Mashable.

What do you guys think about this?
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Happy Black Friday! Carpe Diem!

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday yesterday with friends and family. Sometimes that's exactly what we need in order to hit the "reset button" and refocus on our careers. I know that I am very thankful for being back to Dealer Synergy, and one of my favorite and rewarding things, in my mind, is to give back to our clients and other people we come in contact with to make them better people and better skilled professionals. We are here today AND tomorrow for any support you may need throughout the weekend, and ensure a strong month-end.

People across America have one thing in mind today and this weekend...and that is to shop, shop, SHOP!

Perception is reality, and every TV, newspaper and website advertise that you will absolutely get the BEST deals of the YEAR today and have all kinds of weekend blowout sales. RIDE THE WAVE! Make sure that anyone you speak to knows that this is very true especially in the Automotive business. From my experience, dealerships are just as busy as malls, retail stores this weekend, so turn these shoppers into BUYERS! Really push for appointments for today and tomorrow, and worst case scenario, if they can't make it, you can always relay that this holiday sale is going to be extended through month-end, and push for Monday and Tuesday to ensure you finish your month strong!

In Sean's Turkey day post below, he included quite possibly one of my favorite videos I have ever watched. One of my favorite sayings is "Carpe Diem", which is Latin for "seize the day" and I believe this video really sums it up in one of the best ways possible. If you haven't already, watch the video, and take about 2 minutes to think about it. I guarantee it will be 5 minutes (or 300 seconds) well spent. Make your time efficient and productive...and make every minute, second and phone call that you make count!

As always, our team here at Dealer Synergy appreciates and encourages comments, blogs, testimonials and participation...so let us know what you think, because we look forward to hearing from you!

Have a great weekend!

Andy

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