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Oct 22, 2009

What a day! Congratulations to the Sunday Business Post for putting on a great event for a good price. I would welcome more from you.

The highlight of the day was definitely the Sean Gallagher speech. I was really surprised by it, I really did not expect such an insightful and motivating speech and on top of it a nice fella to talk to. Other great speakers were John Crawley, The Profit Mindset and Krishna De, BizGrowthNews.

Sean Gallagher's speech focused on staying positive, focus on fundamentals, take action to reduce fear, take a risk and above all be grateful for what you have.

Excerpts of his speech:

"Change requires leadership"

"Failure should be a badge of honour and not frowned upon"

"Success in the next 12 - 18months is about survival"

"A customer acknowledged is a customer half served" - I love this one

"need to offer value for money"

"taking action, kills fear"

John Crawley had a great stage presence, he discussed funding, cashflow, and budgeting.

Excerpts of his speech:

"zero based budgeting"

"Funding the GAP"

"Look for ratchet back deal when talking to investors"

"If you are not going to have a cash surplus in the next five years, then you shouldn't be in business"

Krishna De also had great stage presence and confidence, she discussed online and offline PR.

Excerpts of her speech:

"Research current customers and how life has changed for them in the past 9 months"
"model for good promotion: good headline, good image, and strong call to action"

"93% of people go online to research products"

"33% go online to purchase products"

Other comments that I picked up:

"More people are setting up businesses due to necessity" - Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland

"A lot of research is sitting in Universities, not being used" - Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland

"25+ new businesses grew out of the 320 job losses from Motorola in 2008" - Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland (not sure if I have the facts right on this one though, maybe Julie can correct me)

"Business Plan reduces options, helps to maintain focus" - Alan Gleeson, Palo Alto Software

"I haven't failed, I have found 10,000 ways that don't work" - Dylan Collins, Jolt Online Gaming

"Pick Shareholders carefully" - Dylan Collins, Jolt Online Gaming

"Celebrate small victories" - Dylan Collins, Jolt Online Gaming (he was discussing staff morale)

"You can't run a branch office remotely" - Deborah Lee Marlow, The business whisperer

"Stay out of debt" - Deborah Lee Marlow, The business whisperer

"20% of customers provide 80% of revenue" - Vincent Reynolds, Rapport Consulting

"20% of your products/services provide 80% of revenue" - Vincent Reynolds, Rapport Consulting

Oct 19, 2009

I am looking forward to the "Out on your own" conference at the RDS this Wednesday 21st. They have some great speakers on and the programme seems to be well organised. The only one I wouldn't be interested in is Franchising. But of course, it does have a position in this conference.

The talks I will be most interested in will be

  • Focusing on the strengths that will encourage growth
  • Issues involved in sustaining a business in the current economic climate
  • The art of sales forecasting
  • Top tips for a Killer Business Plan
  • You ARE the business TREASURER – how to do it well
  • The four pillars of your marketing plan
  • Essentials tools for your marketing kit bag
  • Case studies of new businesses and how they marketing their business on a micro budget
  • SECOND ENTREPRENEUR’S CASE STUDY
  • What is the ‘compelling value’ of your product or service?
  • How to create the infra-structure that will allow you to ‘save’ your business when things get ‘tight’
  • Critical steps to stay in POSITIVE CASH-FLOW
  • Growth of Angel Investment, and how HBAN can support you!
  • Recognise that all revenues are not equal
  • Cut cost but not value
  • Invest wisely in new projects
  • Question everything
Another reason I am going to this conference is to meet other business owners, maybe make some friends, maybe make some partners, maybe make some business.

Oct 13, 2009

Do you want to know what people are twitting about in your country? I love this app: http://trendsmap.com/ once loaded zoom into your country. Or search for you company name to see what people are saying about it.

Oct 10, 2009

I'm busy preparing for the Kildare Business Expo Fair to be held on October 9 - 11. This event is organised by John Kelly from the Johnstown Business Centre in Naas.

If you are attending the fair and you would like to discuss how to manage content on your website, come by and talk to us. We will have Internet connection so that we can view your website and make suggestions.

There will be approximately 120 business showcasing their products and services.It would be well worthwhile to come by and check out other local businesses.

Call 045- 844080 for more information.

Oct 5, 2009

Whether it was through fear of our downward spiralling recession or that we didn't want to upset the powers that be in the European Union, or maybe we just thought that we are stronger with others, either way, we said Yes to the Lisbon Treaty. But, what now?

It is obvious that the majority of us think that being part of the EU is a good thing. Will our influence remain the same or maybe even stronger now, will Europe somehow punish us for delaying this yes vote? or will they welcome the prodigal son back into its arms with a sacrificial lamb? What do you think?

hhhmmmmm, we'll have to wait and see.


Sep 23, 2009

I have recently started writing articles for a local newspaper. Of course, the main reason I am doing this is to expose my business to the local community, secondary reason is to share my knowledge. This is a great free marketing tool to reach customers and clients.

It's not easy though, the paper I write for expects a 900 word article every month. I have written four articles so far, each article tends to get better than the last one. The article layout is more structured now, information is categorised into segments, and the articles are a little more comprehensible. My advice would be to write out about 10 articles before committing to write for a paper. This would take the pressure off a little.

Unfortunately, I haven't had any new business from my article writing, maybe they are really crap : (

oh well, patience is a virtue.


Aug 15, 2009

I am still suprised at how many businesses currently do not have a website. It is shocking but true. I hear such excuses as "I don't need a website", "my customer's are old and don't understand computers", "I don't need more customers." Wow!

Accenture recently done a survey and found 67% of the respondents still like to purchase products in a shop. However, 69% of those respondents stated that they use the Internet to research the products and company before purchasing. They also found that 43% said the online information was most influential.

The internet has become second nature to the under 35's. They have easy access to it via their computer at home, their computer at work, and even on their phone. It is an easy reachable resource that will give immediate results, no matter what they are looking for. This market segment believes that if a business does not have a website then they cannot be very reputable. The easiest way to reach this market is to have a website.

A slightly smaller percentage of over 35's also use the Internet for research of products and companies. This market segment is becoming more and more Internet savvy by the day. This market segment also should not be ignored.

Aug 15, 2009

I decided to set the daunting task of dynamic PDF generation for myself today. I want to be able to create invoices from the back-end of my website, have them PDF'd and emailed directly to my clients.

Invoices can be created from either website maintenance projects, purchases entered via the back-end or website design purchases entered via the front-end. I have already set up the functionality that logs the invoice in the database, assigns the products to it and creates the invoice via Smarty template. I was originally going to send the HTML invoice via email but thought it would be nicer to send it as an attachment and I could also save the PDF on the server for future reference.

I started researching it this morning. I came across a few different classes out there, like FPDF and PDFLIB but it's wasn't quite what I was looking for. You have to recreate the PDF from bottom up with those. What I wanted to to feed in the HTML and have the class create the PDF. Lo-andbehold, I found it, dompdf.

dompdf was easy to install on my Windows Vista machine, I downloaded it, unzipped it. I also had to download and execute the ttf2pt1 utility. I changed the path to the utility in the config file, ran a test script and Voila! it worked.

I then went back into the Invoice module where the invoices are created. I needed to capture the HTML from the Smarty template and feed it into the dompdf class then save it to a folder. I wanted the file names in the following fashion CLIENT_invoice_DATE.pdf. I also needed to check if this filename already existed and add a _1 after date, so that I didn't end up overwriting a file if two invoices where created on the same date for the same client. This was easy enough to do, I just put it into a while loop checking for the filename with is_file and using an incremental count variable to the _NUMBER.

I wrote out the code, tested it and got a load of errors. <code>Notice: Undefined variable: idProject in...</code> I was sure I hadn't changed the error_reporting in my php.ini file, checked it and it was still 'E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE' I eventually tracked down the problem to the config file in dompdf. It was setting the error_reporting to E_STRICT. I commented it out, and it worked.... yee haa.

A few small clean ups and I'm done for the day.

Apr 18, 2009

After talking with a few people who are setting up their own business, I found most did not have a clue what is involved in setting up a website. They knew what a website is, they knew how valuable a website is to a company, but they didn't know what would be needed to purchase or what was needed to have a website built. So, I thought it would be a good idea to start an Articles section on my website. The mission is to have a set of articles that would give a broad overview of what is involved in owning a website and possibly other related articles. I have added two articles and I will be adding others in the future. If you have any ideas of topics that I should cover comment on them here.

Apr 9, 2009

Google has done it again with Google Wave. Google Wave is an open-source real-time communication tool that can be used to collaborate on documents, images, polls, even maps. They have applied their usual mantra of 'easy to use application'

I love some of the ideas that they have included like 'Playback.' For example, if four people were to colloborate on a document in real time. They could make make comments on sections of the document which the other three would see real-time. Then another person could later view the wave and play it back to see how the colloboration progressed into the final document.

Their spell check on it is very advanced. Not only does it spell check an incorrect spelled word but would also look at the context of the word and suggest other spellings. So, no more excuses for typing "Is you're document complete?"

I can't wait to play around with this API.

This one is 1:20 long, but well worth watching: