Saturday, August 6, 2011

Total Web Solutions - From Worker to Owner in 5 Minutes – Meet Omair Ali

“Only five minutes were enough to transform me from an employee to an entrepreneur” Omair Ali – Owner of Total Web Solutions.

Omair Ali is a young entrepreneur running his IT company that provides website solutions and software development and maintenance services. Narrating his story Omair told me – “I had interest in software development from my student life. After completing my MIT, I opted software and web development as my career. In July 1999 I got job at a small IT company.

I wanted to learn and that was an excellent learning opportunity. In early times with this company I completed my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Optical Fiber Fusion & Mechanical Splices From RTTS also. Company was lean and there were only 2 development persons. Time was right with Y2K business opportunities and business was flowing in. In the next couple of years, the company expanded so my expertise and responsibilities too.”

Talking about the turning point in his career Omair said that, “The Owner was a young IT professional. 10 years in business, the business expanded and he was unable to manage the market demand and hence quality of our service started depleting. I was the front man facing the music from clients. I was frustrated because the company was not paying me enough and clients were also unhappy. I am a man of words, and here I was compromising my ethical values for my employer! It so happened, while I was seriously thinking about changing my job, a client advised me to start my own IT company – and that was the turning point – within the next five minutes, I was an Owner from a Manager!”

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Home-Based Businesses Ideal for Home Makers

In depressed economy, home-based businesses can provide an excellent alternative source of income for many. Home-based businesses are particularly suitable for mothers that are unable to go out for a 9-5 job and also qualified or technically trained girls suffering from societal restrctions and are not allowed to leave homes. Particularly with the computer and internet technology, a number of businesses that can be successfully run from home.

In my view following are few interesting benefits of working from home:

Freedom: No boss, no specific dressing, no rigid work schedule. Choose a schedule that suites your lifestyle.

Less cost of doing business: No rent, no additional utility cost, no staff management cost, no commuting cost.

Family care: Specifically for those who have responsibility for family care, this is the perfect option.

Reduced Stress: No 9-5 schedule, no traveling hassle or traffic chaos.

For the past few years, I have been engaged in youth entrepreneurship program focusing economically deprived class. My experience proved that the biggest hurdle for starting a home-based business is the lack of a practical idea.

My colleague Muhammad Yasir has compiled a list of practical ideas for starting home-based businesses. These ideas can be downloaded by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Social Media – How business can maximize on Social Media Outreach?

Needless to say that modern marketing is a blend of text book techniques and social media marketing  knowledge.

Push messages are now becoming history, it’s the time to engage your customer and with its phenomenal outreach, social media is the only tool that can help businesses engage with their customers. The challenge for  marketing professionals is to learn the logic of using social media effectively!

For the last couple of weeks I have been advising a friend of mine Zishan Jafri on developing social media presence for his business. I figured out that recently a number of companies have started jumping onto the “social media bandwagon”. Some of them realized the outreach and importance of social media, however a number of them just wanted to be there doing something on their social media.

The fact is that a number of companies do not develop a formal social media strategy. The process of developing their community is usually not the focus; they just want their presence on social media, particularly facebook. There is no doubt that with ever growing number of social media users, businesses no matter small or big need to use this medium to interact with their customers. But the question is how do you effectively use social media?

First thing first – Market Knowledge! It is essential to understand what your competitors are doing for promoting their brands and where do you stand in comparison of other market players. A basic social media audit can help in identifying your marketplace and your customer’s social hangouts, i.e, facebook, twitter, blogs, discussion groups etc. I advise that a social media audit should be part of a company’s market research policy.

A number of businesses also show concern about the extent they could suck into social media. And that is true! In many cases, a number of businesses fail to gain any benefit of having social media presence. It is essential for businesses to understand that social media marketing is a targeted effort; hence a business needs to define its priorities before engaging into social media initiative. Priorities can only be defined based on what milestones a company wishes to achieve i.e., brand development or repositioning, building customer relationship, improving market reputation, engaging potential customers, improving customer satisfaction etc.

But at the end of the day, social media is a science of what messages needs to go to whom and at what time of the day! On social media, feedback is usually prompt; hence the response needs to be carefully drafted in advance to suite the possible feedback or questions. However at times, prepared messages are not appropriate; this makes a call for an expert to consider drafting suitable response.

Blogging, which should be considered as an integral part of any social media campaign is heavily depended on content, and the quality of content attracts readers. Blogs generally focused on sharing information in a relatively detailed manner. I strongly suggest to embed videos, presentations and pictures in blogs to make content interesting. Blogs are good to attract readership on facebook and twitter. There are many social media book marking platforms such as Stumbleupon that could help in creating a viral impact of a social media campaign.

In my experience, social media campaigns can be effective only if businesses are able to integrate their social media properly. This means, having twitter, facebook, linkedin, blog, video content, pictures and presentations, all integrated to represent the same brand image. Integration is effective in creating a good viral impact and to increases customer retention within one space of social media.

Needless to say that a formal social media policy describing the objectives, deliverables and assigning resources both human and financial can only help reap the benefit of social media outreach. Zishan’s business is now social media enabled; the challenge for him to keep-up with the pace and watch his competitors closely!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sales and Customer Service – Eye contact is an essential element

Human eyes have mystical powers. However the ability to use this unique quality is unknown to many. I feel sorry for those sales and customer service professionals who do not make an eye contact with their customers. And if some of them do, their eyes reflect frustration!

Experienced sales and customer service professionals emphasis on three essential elements a nice smile, a perfect eye contact, and use of last name. These three elements are considered important in achieving greater customer satisfaction.

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