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Tag Archives: Bloomberg Businessweek

The Social-Media Bubble Is Quietly Deflating

0715_socialmedia_630x420By 

Two years ago, when the craze for social-media startups was in full swing, a former Facebook (FB) engineer summed up the situation with a memorable lament: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” the engineer, Jeff Hammerbachertold Bloomberg Businessweek at the time. “That sucks,” he added.

It might be over.

Social-media companies drew only 2 percent of the venture capital headed to Internet-based enterprises last quarter, according to data published on Tuesday by CB Insights, a research firm that tracks venture-capital investment. In the two-year stretch that ended in the middle of 2012, social-media companies took in at least 6 percent of overall venture capital invested in Internet companies each quarter. But for three of the last four quarters, those social startups have brought in 2 percent or less (with the outlier quarter largely the result of a huge investment in Pinterest earlier this year). The peak came in the third quarter of 2011, when social companies led by Twitter took in 21 percent of the total $3.8 billion in Internet deals by venture capital firms.

Here’s how Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Ashlee Vanceexplained it at the height of the social-media money boom:

Once again, 11 years after the dot-com-era peak of the Nasdaq, Silicon Valley is reaching the saturation point with business plans that hinge on crossed fingers as much as anything else. “We are certainly in another bubble,” says Matthew Cowan, co-founder of the tech investment firm Bridgescale Partners. “And it’s being driven by social media and consumer-oriented applications.”

If Cowan was right, the air seems to have been released fairly gently—at least in comparison to the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, which shook the U.S. economy. Sure, Zynga (ZNGA) crashed and Groupon (GRPN)burned, but overall tech investment continues at a reliable pace. The total amount of venture investment in Internet companies last quarter was $3.625 billion, close to what it was in the third quarter of 2011—and much higher than it was before then.

New buzzwords have arrived: Big data and cloud companies are grabbing the imaginations of venture capitalists, says Anand Sanwal, founder of CB Insights. Boring companies that make tech products to sell to businesses seem to be in ascendance. But it’s just not the same.

“Social was so unique in that it had taken up a lot of mind-share,” Sanwal says. “Folks were singularly focused on social, and that was unlike anything we’ve seen to date. It was probably most analogous to e-commerce in the last dot-com boom.”

Brustein is a writer for Businessweek.com in New York.
 

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Five Steps to First-Class Customer Service

Part of having a successful business is having the ability to deal with customers effectively. It is not just enough to have products or services which work. This is because consumers like to feel pampered and important, and they will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere if they feel like they aren’t being treated well enough. Great thing that there are only five strategies that separate so-so from award-winning customer service.

1. Keep in Touch

The most basic of all pieces of advice, it is extremely important to keep in touch with your customers. There are a myriad of ways to do so from newsletters to emails. However, it is crucial that you obtain your customers’ explicit permission to receive any written content from you or else they will just be bummed rather than thrilled. Make sure that your newsletters and emails contain information that will help your customers solve frequent problems.

2. Aim for Great Service

You, as an entrepreneur, might put premium on great service but your staff might not. This is why a whole segment on customer service should be dedicated when training your employees. Don’t underestimate the simple gestures of greeting customers.

3. Have a System of Responding to Customers

What customers hate the most is when employees are not able to help them well enough when it comes to queries and disputes. For this reason, your company should have a system for providing solutions to the most common customer complaints.

It is crucial to have disputes solved during the first contact with the customers in question and as-much-as-possible during the same business day. You can keep a notebook which will guide employees throughout the entire situation or a searchable text file.

4. Trust Your Staff

In the absence of a manager or the proprietor, employees should be able to make the right choices and appropriate calls. If you’re confident enough to trust your employees, simply instruct them to document any special cases or designate someone as the problem-solver. For instance, every dental office usually has a front office worker who tries to resolve disputes when the dentist is out.

5. Know Your Customers

In order for any business to solve their customers better, they need to know who they are dealing with first. Businesses can do so by keeping track of their interactions with customers whether that is through a piece of software or through old-school index cards.

Elliot Pearson Writes as a specialist for Dentist Identity who provides Dental Marketing and Dental SEO

 

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Starting a Small Business: Ways to Help You Succeed

by zizinyalu

Getting a small business up and running is often more difficult than many people think. And even if you go in with a plan of attack, it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll come out smelling like a rose at the end of your startup period. There are however, things you can do and plan for to give yourself a better chance at success with your new operation.

Have a Plan

Whether it’s a well thought out budget, a marketing plan, an outline for startup costs, or all of the above, having a plan to help you through the new small business transition can be critical to you and your business’s success. As some like to say, it’s often safer to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Have a Backup Plan

Even heading into your small business venture with a great plan, doesn’t mean that things will go accordingly. Having a backup plan or two can leave you prepared just in case something goes awry in your preparations. A backup plan may also help you avoid having to improvise, which could lead to costly mistakes along the way.

Know Your Market

You may have a great idea for a new business, but if you don’t know your market well, that idea could fall upon deaf ears. Doing research, understanding your customer, and knowing how to market your product or service can make a significant impact upon your overall chances of success with a new business.

Be Realistic

While occasionally we hear of someone hitting it big with their business idea right away, in most cases it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and effort to make a go of your small business. Being prepared and realistic when it comes to the amount of work you will likely have to put in to your new business can keep your hopes up in the face of adversity.

Count Your Pennies

Watching every dollar when you’re just starting out can help ensure that you have sufficient funding to weather a storm, outlast a dip in the economy or survive a drought in your particular market niche.

Constantly Look for Opportunity

After a small success with your business, it’s easy to get a little complacent. While it’s fine to reward yourself a little bit, you don’t want to let it go to your head. Remaining on the lookout for new opportunities to grow and improve your business can help keep your business from stagnating.

Reassess and Re-evaluate Regularly

Things can change quickly in the life of a small business and not constantly looking for way to keep up and keep current could have you lagging behind the competition. While in the regular workforce, you may have had a boss to keep you on your toes and evaluate your progress regularly, this aspect of your job and career may be left completely in your own hands as a small business owner.

Be Willing and Open to Change

You may not get your business, product or service right on the first shot. But by being willing and open to change, you may be able to save your business by trying new methods, products, service or niches in order to find the right spot for you before it’s too late.

Balancing Risk

It’s often difficult as a small business owner to know exactly how far to invest yourself into a business. In many cases, you have to put enough of an initial investment into the operation to give it a chance of success, but you may not want to put yourself so far out there financially that should the business fail, you are left with nothing or are deeply indebted. There is where planning ahead and analyzing your business and business plan can help you know how to limit the risk to yourself and to your operation.

Know When to Pack it in

Sometimes it’s hard to give up on your dreams of small business ownership. However, beating a dead horse can be counterproductive and only add to your losses. While it’s often hard to give up or give in, sometimes you have to pack it in, cut your losses, and move on with your life.

Alex is a Houston based Enterprise Project Management consultant, or SharePoint Consultant, that spends his times developing actionable strategies to help enterprise level companies make their internal processes more efficient.

 

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