miércoles, 28 de febrero de 2007

Software For Virtual Teams

Written by Alex Iskold and edited by Richard MacManus

It's 2007 and no longer do startup employees, or even those of medium-size and large companies, need to be located in the same place. Instead, more and more companies are going virtual. The answer to long commutes, inner city traffic, tapping into creative minds in other geographies and combating global warming is: a 'work from home' policy.

But in order for working from home to be effective, certain things need to be in place. The most critical is technology - a set of tools, along with the infrastructure, that can replace the traditional office. Using these tools it is possible for team members to connect, communicate and execute as effectively as a traditional company. So in this post, we look at software that makes virtual companies possible.

Communication Tools

Pick: Skype; cost: free. Alternatives: Gizmo, Jajah, Google Talk, more...

The first tool for a virtual company has to be one that replaces face-to-face communication. This is not an easy task, but Skype gets close. This popular software bundles the phone, traditional chat, conferencing and video conferenecing and works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It is powerful to be able to chat and, when necessary, call a team mate. All Skype PC-to-PC calls are free and there are options such as SkypeOut (calling normal telephone numbers) and SkypeIn (gives you a phone number for anywhere in the world).

The next useful feature is the ability to transfer files. If you need to send a document or a screenshot, Skype can be faster than email and it is right there. Skype can also be used to conduct meetings. Typically, it would be used in conjunction with screen sharing software (more on that below). Finally, Skype supports video and works with any camera attached to your computer. This is neat, but think twice about what you are wearing before flipping that switch :-)


Pick: GotoMeeting; $49 per month, Alternatives: WebEx, BudgetConferencing

Skype facilitates communication, but it does not allow sharing of screens. It is helpful to complement meetings with real-time screens, particularly if you are brainstorming, talking about design (for example) or simply want to get on the same page faster.

Our recommendation is a simple desktop sharing solution like GotoMeeting, because the features of the higher end services are rarely used and tend to be buggy. GoToMeeting has been around for a while and offers instant desktop sharing which 'just works'. It is written in Java and can run on many platforms. It takes a few minutes to learn the UI, but after that starting new meetings and inviting people is straightforward.

There are quite a few other companies that enable online meetings. One of the 'high end' solutions is WebEx, which has three core offerings - a meeting center, MeetMeNow plan, and pay per use. The meeting center is a comprehensive solution that supports various forms of sharing and interaction between participants. You can share presentations or a full screen, draw on a scratch pad, and chat with the meeting participants. The plans depend on the number of concurrent meeting participants and start at $75. Another alternative is MeetMeNow, which facilitates instant desktop sharing. The cost is $49 per month or $39 if you commit to a full year. Finally the pay per use solution offers exactly that, for 33c per minute per user. However in my experience, WebEx has not been as reliable as GoToMeeting.

Project Management

Pick: Basecamp; $29 per month. Alternatives: CentralDesktop, ActiveCollab (free, but you need to host it), TeamWorkLive, QuickBase

Project management is essential to the success of any project, let alone a virtual one. Execution requires planning, scheduling, division of tasks and tracking. Basecamp from 37signals is an excellent tool that encapsulates the essential elements of project management.

The Basecamp main screen presents a dashboard view of the upcoming milestones and latest activity. Each person can also get a view of his/her milestones and tasks. The tasks are modeled as todo lists and can be attached to the milestones, which are tied to a date. This is basically it in terms of tracking, but no one familiar with Microsoft Project is going to miss the Gantt charts here.

In addition, Basecamp offers storage of files (unfortunately there is no way to tag files, which would be a great addition) and an interesting variation of a scratch pad called writeboard. The writeboard allows people to create text documents using very basic markup. You can bold things, create links and include images - without needing to learn HTML. The writeboards can be versioned, which is handy, but not essential.

There are a number of monthly plans, with various tradeoffs in the number of projects and storage space. For $24 per month you can create 15 projects and store 400MB of files. The maximum plan allows you to have unlimited number of projects and store 20GB of stuff for $149 per month. There are also a number of plans in between, for all tastes and needs.


Pick: Google Calendar; Free. Alternatives: Yahoo! Calendar, 30Boxes, Kiko

Noticibly missing from Basecamp is the calendaring feature. Personally, I would like to see that as part of the project management solution - particularly a view of events and milestones. Fortunately, there are quite a few calendaring solutions that do a good job. The one that stands out from the crowd is Google Calendar.

The product has an intuitive Ajax-based UI that does a very good job of managing events. Two features that are essential for teams are shared calendars and support for multiple calendars. Multiple people can see and book events into the same calendar. Also, the user is able to maintain a set of calendars that is then merged into a single, aggregated view. So it is easy to combine business and personal events. Google calendar also integrates nicely with GMail and sends out email alerts for upcoming events.

Code Repository

Pick: CVSDude; $22 per month. Alternatives: SourceHosting, Version Host

If you are running a software development business, you need to have a source code version control system. While you could run such repository on your corporate computers or have your web hosting do it for you, it is even better to use one of the specialist online services - to make sure that things are done right.

Typically, you would use either CVS or Subversion version control systems. Each offer powerful ways to manage your code in a concurrent development environment. Hosting companies provide the turn key solutions which, in addition to the code management server, include a dashboard for managing developer accounts, and bug tracking systems. The setup is easy, particularly because most modern IDE have support for version control. The pricing varies based on the storage space and number of concurrent users.


Pick: ElephantDrive; $34.95 per month per person - discount. Alternatives: JungleDisk, Mozy

Whether it's our personal data or corporate information, it is always better to be safe than sorry. In our day and age no one can afford to waste even a single day due to data loss. Luckily there are now online backup solutions that can be deployed quickly and on a budget. ElephantDrive is one of the newcomers that offers a backup solution based on Amazon S3 storage. It comes with an intuitive user interface, that allows you to specify files and directories that you want to backup. After that it just works, quietly backing up your files to S3.

Since in a virtual company, computers are not likely to be networked - backup solutions need to be implemented for each computer. To support this use case, ElephantDrive offers special corporate discounts which can be obtained via email. There is however no common corporate directory view, something we are all used to. It would be nice to see this feature in the future, as it would be great for virtual teams.

Accounting / Payroll

Pick: QuickBooks; Cost Varies, $50 per month+, extra per employee. Alternatives: IntAcct, Keep More

Last, but certainly not least, is the category of accounting and payroll software. The problem is that financial matters are rather complicated. In addition to complex federal laws and regulations, there are state (and country!) specific nuances that can drive you crazy for hours. This is one area where getting a specialist - a bookkeeper - is definitely a good idea. The good news is that online services like QuickBooks are working hard to make things easier.

The packages range in price and functionality, depending on your needs. The basic package does not include payroll and direct deposit, which most people want. The full package has everything for around $90 per month, plus additional costs per employee. QuickBooks is complex, but it's comprehensive software. The online version seems to be easier to use then the offline one. It allows you to easily connect to all your bank and credit card accounts, issue invoices, make payments and keep track of consultants and employees.


It is truly amazing how far and how quickly virtual team technology has evolved. Just a few years ago virtual companies were very difficult to run, because of logistics and costs. However the tools that we have covered in this post, collectively, have opened the door to a new breed of companies - small, agile, virtual businesses. These companies exist because of this new wave of communication tools and substantially lower infrastructural costs.

In addition, virtual companies consist of happier employees. These are people who do not need to spend time in traffic, people who save money on gas, people who conserve resources and, perhaps most significantly, people who spend more time with their family. So perhaps this simple, yet very profound, application of technology is the beginning of a new trend and the way we will mostly work and communicate in the future. Let us know what you think and please tell us what virtual office tools you use - and indeed whether you work from home or in a corporate environment.

martes, 27 de febrero de 2007

¿Cuál es el número optimo de socios para un emprendimiento?

Hoy me encontré con este post, y con este estudio que me dejó pensando... me sobran 2 socios...

Se aceptan opiniones al respecto.

The topic of co-founders (how to find them, what skill-set they should have, how many you need, etc.) is a popular one amongst startups. It’s popular for good reason, it’s important.

I’ve given the topic of how many founders are needed for startups some thought. My personal opinion is at least two, but no more than three. Hence, the “2.09” number in the title of this article works (and there’s some basis for this, which I’ll explain later).

Indicadores Financieros del Resumen Ejecutivo (Glosario)

Les dejo un post con los indicadores financieros que tendria que tener el Resumen Ejecutivo segun Mariano Ruani (Co-Fundador y Director Ejecutivo del Club de Business Angels del IAE)

Como les comentaba por acá. Con el Resumen Ejecutivo se piden algunos indicadores financieros que le sirven al inversor para, en una rápida mirada, entender las características financieras de la inversión.

Como lo consultan frecuentemente y genera algunas confusiones aquí van las definiciones:

Ventas anuales en unidades y facturación: hasta acá entiendo que no hay problemas.

EBIT (Earning Before Interest an Taxes): Beneficio antes de impuestos e intereses. (en español BAII)

Flujo de Fondos (Cash Low): después de hacer las proyecciones, teniendo en cuenta el cash que entra y sale, al final del mes queda algo (o falta). Ese es el flujo de fondos. Es clave para la valuación del emprendimiento. Si bien hay varios métodos, en este tipo de proyectos, el descuento de flujo de fondos es el más utilizado.

Indicadores de Costos: % Costos variables/Costos Totales y % Costos Fijos/Costos Totales. En realidad se podría pedir uno ya que entre los dos deben sumar 100%.

¿Por que se piden estos indicadores?
Para entender la estructura de costos de la empresa.
Si la relación de costos fijos es muy alta quiere decir que se estará quemando dinero aunque no se generen ingresos. Si se atrasa la venta (lo que suele suceder) puede ser mortal. Si el valor es bajo muestra una estructura es más flexible para enfrentar desvíos en las proyecciones de ventas y crecimiento (es mas fácil alcanzar el punto de equilibrio). Se presta atención a la tendencia para ver si hay economías de escala.

% Margen Bruto/ Facturación Neta: El margen bruto es la diferencia entre los ingresos por venta y el costo de los productos vendidos. Cuanto mas alto el margen mas espacio para financiar la empresa.
% Beneficio Neto/Facturación Neta: Para saber, al final del día cual es el beneficio neto sobre ventas.

Indicadores de la Inversión
Monto de la inversión: la platita que están pidiendo.

Exposición máxima ($): Es el máximo valor negativo acumulado del flujo de fondos. Los proyectos requieren una inversión inicial para ponerse en funcionamiento. Sumado a esto, los primeros meses (¿pocos?) el negocio suele dar perdida, ya que el volumen de ventas todavía no llega a cubrir los costos fijos, o porque se esta poniendo a punto una planta o terminando de desarrollar un producto, etc., a lo que se puede sumar alguna inversión adicional. Entonces, la inversión inicial no necesariamente es la exposición máxima del proyecto. (volver a leer la primer oración)
Mes en que se produce la exposición máxima: Se explica solo, no? Es para saber en que momento se llega al punto crítico del proyecto, el de mayor riesgo.

Punto de Equilibrio: El punto de equilibrio es el punto en que las ventas cubren los costos. No hay ganancias ni pérdidas.
Mes en que se alcanza el punto de equilibrio operativo: Cuando dejamos de dar pérdidas?, cuanto antes mejor.

TIR del Proyecto: La TIR (Tasa Interna de Retorno, IRR en inglés) es la tasa que mide la rentabilidad en base al flujo de fondos del proyecto. Calcularla es fácil, una vez que hacen las proyecciones, obtienen un flujo de fondos. A ese flujo de fondos le aplican la formula TIR del Excel. (en la primera celda debe estar la inversión en negativo!!) (si no les da aprieten F1 ;-)

TIR para el “inversor”: Esta diferenciación es un punto importante y suele generar dudas. Cuando calculan la TIR del flujo de fondos están calculando la TIR del proyecto completo. Lo que sucede normalmente es que el inversor pone el 100% del capital y a cambio recibe una participación X en la empresa. Supongamos un 45%. Para calcular la TIR del inversor se debe armar un flujo especial con el 100% del capital y solo el 45% de las ganancias. Esta es la tasa que mirará el inversor y es más baja que la del proyecto total. A veces esto lleva a acuerdos de recuperación acelerada del capital u otros temas pero lo dejamos para más adelante.

Recupero de Fondos (o Periodo de Repago): es el tiempo que se toma para recuperar el capital. Cuanto menor mejor. En este caso nuevamente, si no hay algún arreglo especial, el recupero del inversor es mas largo que el del proyecto.

miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2007

Best and Worst Decisions (de algunos entrepreneurs)

En cualquier momento sale la version del ABC de esta columna con emprendedores locales, y en español.

Si conocen a alguien que creen que puede ser interesante para esta columna, contactense el mail de El ABC (elabcdeemprender@gmail.com), asi empezamos a armar posts como este.


John Battelle

John Battelle is an entrepreneur, journalist, professor, and author who has founded or co-founded businesses, magazines and websites. Formerly at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, Battelle, is also a founder and Executive Producer of the Web 2.0 conference and “band manager” with BoingBoing.net. Previously, Battelle was founder, Chairman, and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), publisher of The Industry Standard and TheStandard.com. Prior to founding The Standard, Battelle was a co-founding editor of Wired magazine and Wired Ventures. John is currently the founder and Chairman of Federated Media and blogs at John Battelle’s Searchblog.

  1. Either keep control, or don’t act like you have it. This was the primary lesson of The Industry Standard. I felt like this was the first large scale business I built on my own, and I acted like it. But majority control was always squarely in the hands of the company who funded it. We fought, and I lost.
  2. Don’t skimp on hiring. Ever. I’ve hired folks who had the right resume, but I knew in my gut were not right for the culture of the business. I thought the skills/resume overshadowed the ability to work together as a team. They never do.
  3. Do it for love, not money. This is pretty careworn, but it’s very very true. I’ve never ever started anything for money. Some folks are really good at starting companies to make money, but I’m terrible at it. I suspect most entrepreneurs are like me.
  1. 3a. But make sure what you are doing makes sense to others. Everything I’ve started or been part of starting, I’ve talked to key folks who would make or break the idea, and gotten their buy in and encouragement/help first. If folks who are critical to the idea are not interested, well….that’s a pretty good sign it isn’t going to fly. Doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, but it probably means you’re not the person to do it.
  1. Pick one constituency and stick to it. Very early on, we decided that FM would be “author driven”. We could have made the company “advertiser driven” but it struck me the core business had to do with the folks who produce the sites we work with. At Wired, it was all about the ideas. At the Standard, it was all about the journalism. One clear core driving force helps clarify decisions during the tough early years.
  2. Don’t do something because you can. Do it because it’s good for the folks in #4.

Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo is CEO and cofounder of Feedburner, the leading provider of media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds. Previously, he cofounded and was CEO of Spyonit.com. Spyonit was sold to 724 Solutions in September 2000. Prior to Spyonit, Dick cofounded Burning Door Networked Media, a web design and development consulting company. Burning Door was acquired by Digital Knowledge Assets in October 1996. Dick blogs at Ask The Wizard.

  1. The best decisions I’ve made have all been hiring decisions. When you really are feeling the pain of not having a certain kind of person in the company, it’s easy to hire the first interviewee that walks through the door, but it’s critically important when a company is getting started to make sure you’ve found somebody that everyone on the team thinks is the right person for the role. People always tell you to hire A players, but the person also has to be a great cultural fit with the team you’re assembling and with the kind of company you want to be.
  2. I’ve made loads of mistakes so I’ll try to think of one with a good lesson for startups - one of the biggest mistakes I made in a previous company was accepting a high dollar contract once for something that wasn’t core to the vision of the business we were running at the time. While the revenue initially feels great, there’s nothing worse than pursuing a piece of business that isn’t core to the startup’s vision. Lesson learned - once you decide what it is you are going to do, don’t pursue efforts that distract from the vision. One of the hardest lessons an entrepreneur has to learn is what revenue to turn down. You can certainly decide to change the vision and zig when the market zags, but in a startup, everybody has to be working toward a very focused vision, and chasing down side projects can be a real distraction (and probably ends up costing a lot more in terms of long-term resources than you’d expect).

Paul Graham

Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and programming language designer. He is currently a partner in Y Combinator, an innovative venture firm specializing in funding early stage startups. He is also a cofounder of Startup School, which this year is on March 24, 2007 at Stanford. Previously, he co-developed Viaweb, the first web-based application, which was later acquired by Yahoo, and more recently he pioneered the Bayesian spam filter, which inspired most current spam filters.

  1. The best decision I made was to make Viaweb web-based. There were no web-based applications then, so we weren’t sure such a thing would even be possible. Initially what drove us was our dislike of Windows. Writing a desktop application would have meant learning Windows, which we really didn’t want to do. Whereas servers were the same Unix machines we used every day. To make a web-based application, all we had to do was figure out how to let users drive our software by clicking on links on web pages. That was a lot less work than learning Windows.

Hmm, no, actually the best decision I made was to get two fabulously good programmers, Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell, to start the company with me.

  1. The worst mistake I made, probably, was not being strong enough with investors. I now realize that investors like you to be assertive. It reassures them when founders take charge. But because our investors were so much older than us and had given us what seemed then unimaginably large sums of money, I felt I ought to defer to them. And yet I wasn’t prepared to do things their way in anything really important, like what the software should do or what our strategy should be. This inconsistency led to disputes that sucked up a lot of time and energy.
  2. I realize that’s not really a decision. It was more something I didn’t do than something I did. But I think the worst mistakes startups make are mostly of that kind. Another big mistake I made was not to investigate IP agreements signed by people we hired. That nearly sank us later. But I didn’t decide not to; I just didn’t pay enough attention to it.

Ross Mayfield

Ross Mayfield is the CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, the first wiki company and leading provider of Enterprise 2.0 solutions. A noted blogger and industry expert, he is a serial and social entrepreneur. Mayfield has grown Socialtext to over 2,000 customers with Software-as-a-Service, Appliance and Open Source solutions.

  1. Best Decision — To become an entrepreneur in the first place: I started my career in the non-profit sector, and then in the public sector, all in hopes of changing the world. I quickly realized that I could both have an impact and make a living in the private sector. And am lucky to now work on a company that produces social goods. Further, as a startup founder I believe you can quickly have a significant impact, possibly more than any other job. It is a roller coaster of risk. One day you can be beaming with pride to have created jobs and a fun place to work, and another you stress about meeting payroll and having folks be overtly human with one another.
  2. Best Decision — Picking co-founders you trust: It is not an exaggerated saying, that you marry your business partners, especially co-founders in a startup. Some look to partner with the Geek Girl for her technical whizbangery or Phone Guy for the sweet talk and access to capital. While you want to work with people that are skilled, I’d say the primary qualifier is if you can trust your co-founder. If you have any hesitation, either work it out or walk away, quickly. I’m luck to work with great co-founders I can trust with my life. Beyond trust, I would also put startup experience beyond specific skills. Someone that has rode the roller coaster before is less likely to barf in your lap.
  3. Biggest Mistake — Not taking bigger risks earlier: Maybe because in hindsight all risks are clear, but I always find myself regretting not taking bigger risks earlier. For example, open sourcing the Socialtext code was something we waited on until the company had strong footing. Partially because we thought there would be cannibalization, partially because we were understaffed to really engage with the community. But I believe if we bought this bullet earlier in the history of the company we would be reaping better rewards. As a planning exercise, now I always try to ask two questions: “How could we take more risk?” and “What risk can we take that creates the greatest amount of options?” I find there is always a way to do a little more, in particular by getting past instinct to control prevalent in so many entrepreneurs.

Chris Pirillo

Geek, Internet Entrepreneur, Hardware Addict, Software Junkie, Book Author, Once TV Show Host, Technology Enthusiast, Shameless Self-Promoter, Tech Conference Coordinator, Early Adopter, Idea Evangelist, Tech Support Blogger, Bootstrapper, Media Personality, Technology Consultant, Thicker Quicker Picker Upper. You can call Chris at 1.888.PIRILLO to leave questions for him to answer on his podcast. Chris blogs at Chris.Pirillo.Com

  1. Bad Decision: Dealing with salespeople who didn’t have a clue what they were selling. A good salesperson (and there are apparently only two on the planet) will cost you a lot, but a bad salesperson will cost you even more. I loved them dearly, but love doesn’t pay the bills. Moral of the story: be cautious when it comes to yielding control of your business model.
  2. Good Decision: Finding someone to help me facilitate various functions (keeping us on a publishing schedule, wrangling our content creators, etc.). Robert Glen Fogarty has been a godsend, and I wish I had found him years earlier. He’s talented beyond words, and has successfully alleviated my daily stress. Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to yield control to the right people.
Link al post original

One ‘Bad Apple’ Really Can Kill the Company

Un post interesante que me encontre hoy


One “bad apple” in a team of workers really can “spoil the entire barrel,” new business research shows.

Whether it’s an office bully, team slacker or a chronic pessimist, a single employee can seriously damage an entire company, according to William Felps and Terence Mitchell of the University of Washington Business School.

The researchers define a bad apple as a toxic teammate who shows one or all of three features: dodging their work, dumping some of their responsibilities on others; persistently expressing pessimism, irritability and general unhappiness; and bullying co-workers.

The bullies have specialties: making fun of someone, saying something hurtful, making inappropriate ethnic or religious remark, cursing at someone, playing mean pranks, acting rudely and publicly embarrassing someone.

Over the past 20 years or so, scientists have conducted numerous studies of the effects of negative behaviors at work, including discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and dishonest reporting. However, bad-apple behavior has been somewhat overlooked, Felps said.

“Almost all of us have either had the personal experience of working with someone who displayed bad apple behaviors or had a friend, coworker, or spouse who has shared such stories with us,” Felps and Mitchell wrote in a report of their research detailed in the current issue of Research in Organizational Behavior.

“When this process starts to unfold at work, it consumes inordinate amounts of time, psychological resources and emotional energy,” they added.

Team work?

Felps and Mitchell analyzed about two dozen published studies that focused on interactions among co-workers. Particularly, they examined research on smaller groups of five to 15 employees in manufacturing, fast food and university settings. Small teams require more member-to-member interactions and workers are more likely to respond to a teammate’s negative behavior.

In one study of 51 manufacturing teams, they found that teams with one bad apple were more likely to have conflict, poor communication and cooperation breakdowns. The outcome was inadequate performance

They found three typical responses to the trouble-making employee. In the first line of action, another worker asks the bad apple to change. If this is ineffective, as generally occurs when the team members have no seniority, the other employees will alienate the bad apple. Then, co-workers become frustrated, distracted and defensive.

Defensive responses, such as anger, social withdrawal and fear, can worsen the situation by cultivating lack of trust in team members and an overall negative atmospher.

You’re fired!

Co-workers typically don’t have the means to prevail over a thorn in the office. So what can the higher-ups do to keep problem workers in check?

"Managers at companies, particularly those in which employees often work in teams, should take special care when hiring new employees," Felps said

"This would include checking references and administering personality tests so that those who are really low on agreeableness, emotional stability or conscientiousness are screened out," he said

If a bad apple does slip through the selection cracks, he said, managers should place the individual in a less interactive position, or alternatively, fire the employee.

Link al post original

martes, 20 de febrero de 2007

Consulta - Expo

Entre todos los emprendedores que acceden a este sitio, ¿Hay alguno que se dedique exclusivamente a la exportación de bienes?
Luis Zemborain

lunes, 19 de febrero de 2007

Los invitamos a PARTICIPAR un poco mas...

Este es un mensaje para todos los miembros del ABC!!

Algunos de ustedes ya se introdujeron al grupo y estamos muy contentos por eso, pero queremos que la contribución de los miembros sea aun mayor.

Hasta ahora mas que nada hemos compartido artículos que encontramos interesantes, pero pueden hacer posts de lo que se les ocurra, y por supuesto invitar a mas gente a participar.

Otros temas sobre los que pueden escribir son:

  • Dudas sobre sus proyecto o proyectos de los otros
  • Pedir referencias o recomendaciones de proveedores, abogados, contadores
  • Cualquier tema relacionado con capital de riesgo, fondos de inversión, etc
  • Ideas para nuevos proyectos
  • Sugerencias para le blog (si tienen sugerencias serán muy bienvenidas)
  • Pedir opiniones
  • Comentar sobre eventos
  • Links a paginas de Internet interesantes, útiles
  • Historias de emprendedores exitosos
  • Historias de empresas exitosas... o no tanto
  • Material educativo, o recomendaciones de libros
  • Cualquier cosa ligeramente relevante que se les ocurra
Pueden hacer posts tanto de una linea como de una pagina.

En fin, queremos saber un poco mas sobre sus proyectos, las cosas que leen, que piensan, sus problemas, soluciones, experiencias, ideas.. etc.

(Pueden configurar el blog para que los post les lleguen a sus mails)

a ver quien se anima a escribir...

8 Simple Steps to Build Traffic For Your Internet Startup

Les dejo un nuevo post, sobre cómo hacerse conocido con poca plata, en internet, por supuesto.

Over the past few years, I have consulted to a few dozen pretty popular startups and passed on many others. The overwhelming reason why I did not take on the majority as clients is a rather unfortunate truth in nearly every startup’s business plan…there is no audience building strategy.

There IS an audience building hope. There IS a traffic acquisition line item in the business model. But, to most startups, there ISN’T a real plan in place. If you build, they won’t necessarily come. Just because you think you’re money, doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to go through pure hell for the next 12 months trying to create an audience.

So, here’s 8 simple thoughts to help you, the faceless member of the average Silicon Valley startup’s management team, create a lasting audience to leverage off of.

1. Defense wins championships. If you have read this site long enough, you will know that I relate just about everything to sports or military history. A sound defensive strategy is key to both. You want to be Bill Belichick instead of Marty Schottenheimer. You may be able to hang 120 points on your opponent each night, but if you can’t play defense and protect your home court, you are going to be watching Dwyane Wade commercials all summer. If you can’t maintain boots on the turf you just defeated the enemy on, you will consistently have to fight for the same turf, hill, or Baghdad street corner.

So, as you take your Internet Startup live, do everything you can to develop defensible traffic. Just about every other item on here will speak to defensible traffic tactics because, if you stop making that your priority, you’ll turn into Friendster.

2. Domain names. Quit being cheap and buy the best domain name you can right from the beginning. It will make all the difference in the world. Just because you and your Bay Area buddies think that adding two O’s to everything is the Chicken Dinner Winner Move, the rest of the web that is profitable understands that everyone else they know will try to spell a word they already know. Do not name your company after junior high schooler SMS practices. I’m looking right at you, Lijit. Adding “-ster” is nearly as retarded. To anyone who thinks it isn’t, it looks like Douchester.com is available for you.

For bonus points, pick a domain that has been around since the mid-90’s with nice backlinks and your keyword in the name.

3. Hire Internet People. Preferably people that have experience in the “Competitive Internet.” Every single employee at your business needs to inherently understand the Internet at the expert level. I cannot stress this enough. Your employees are going to be your biggest evangelists in the early days and when you need it the most. If they end up sounding like Sen. Ted Stevens, you will lose street cred…and it is a small, small world.

3a. Stanford MBA’s. Very few of these guys are actually innovative. Hold off on these “must have” hires until you actually have enough processes for them to out-metric the rest of the world on. Don’t tell your Board Members that I said that, though, because they are probably all rocking Stanford degrees.

4. Understand the Cost of Traffic. This is especially important for media and E-commerce sites. You should do everything in the early days to create a large traffic data sample. You need to know what it costs to generate specific types of organic search, paid search, email, offline, direct navigation, social media, etc., traffic. It’s impossible to create an intelligent monetization or brand strategy until you know what is coming down the funnel. Then you let the math dictate how you fill the funnel. As much as I love Search, sometimes renting an email list or running a TV spot yields a better converting audience cheaper. Math will prevent you from drowning in your own Kool Aid.

5. Build links. Links are the social capital of the internet. Everytime you do something, try to get a link for it. If you can’t do this, hire somebody. If you are a media company, you need to aim for at least 4 good links for every single piece of content you publish. If you can’t get 4, you just wasted your time. In summary, more links = more search engine traffic = more targeted customers at the lowest cost of traffic (see #4).

6. Engage your Community….hard. Before you even announce yourself, you need to identify the key influencers, mavens, and evangelists in your community. You should make them feel pretty. A majority of these “dominos” will have to fall for you or you’ll be toast. This is not limited to only engaging them online. Just don’t become a stalker or a troll. If you have no social skills, this is going to be painful and you may want to hire a PR firm to craft these relationships for you. If you have no social skills, swallow your pride and outsource this in the beginning. If you overestimate your community engagement skills, you will end up looking like one of the degenerates on American Idol who has the meltdown next to Ryan Seacrest after getting lit up by the judges. On the other hand, this could get you hired by Jimmy Kimmel.

6a. Stay in your shoes. Absolutely DO NOT try to get on Techcrunch until you are ready to have the entire free world looking up your skirt. Same probably goes for Guy Kawasaki, Valleywag, ReadWriteWeb, or Mashable. If your only marketing pitch so far is that your blog search has a UI with rounded corners, stay in your shoes.

7. Engage Social Media. This is more of an extension to #6, but I’d consider the players in #6 to be the mainstream press and the influential blogosphere. The Social Media, on the other hand,…these are likely going to end up being your end users. You need to explain to them why you should exist and then listen to what they say in response. Don’t get mad when nearly every single comment on Digg calls you a dumbass, your product crap, or your life up to this point a strong case for retroactive abortions. It’s what they do. Unless you are Steve Jobs. Listen to the constructive comments and weigh them 100x more heavily than that overpriced focus group you hired. Once you have validated a reason to exist in their minds, this is an extremely viral route to creating mindshare. Mindshare is as defensible as it gets.

8. Push, Pull, Prod, and Poke Marketing. At the end of the day, you only want to have expended energy once for each lifetime visitor. If you have to go through all this BS next time you want this customer to come back to your site, your cost of traffic math is going to suck worse than MC Hammer’s accountant. If you are a media property, capture that user as a registration via RSS subscription or email. If you are an E-commerce site, capture that Account registration and co-registration. If you are a Made-for-Adsense site, try to get bookmarked. Do whatever you can to create the ability to market to or compel that user to come back again for free.

So, there you go. Focus on those eight things and you will be a step ahead of most of the Valley and you won’t have to try to raise that Series B on promises or good looks.

martes, 13 de febrero de 2007

Resumen Ejecutivo ¿mas importante que el Plan de Negocios?

Un post interesante de Mariano Ruani


El resumen ejecutivo es una de las herramientas indispensables a la hora de buscar capital. De todas las partes del Plan de Negocios, el Resumen Ejecutivo es la parte mas importante. ¿Por que? Porque muchos inversores es lo único que leerán!!!

El resumen ejecutivo por si mismo no te conseguirá el dinero pero si puede evitar que lo consigas.

Si no es lo suficientemente atrapante, claro, conciso, probablemente no sigan leyendo. Y no se enterarán del fantástico equipo, de la espectacular oportunidad de negocios, ni de las detalladas proyecciones financieras.

El objetivo del resumen ejecutivo es lograr que el inversor siga leyendo, que se entusiasme. Si no logra acaparar la atención y el interés el plan corre un serio riesgo de ser descartado.

El resumen ejecutivo es importante pues será la primera impresión que tenga el inversor del emprendedor y su emprendimiento (si es que no lo conoció de la mano de un Elevator Pitch)

¿Que NO es el Resumen Ejecutivo?
El resumen ejecutivo no es una introducción.
El resumen ejecutivo no es un prólogo.
El resumen ejecutivo no es una breve descripción del negocio y sus productos.
El resumen ejecutivo no es un índice, no digas que hay un análisis de competencia dentro, incluí la conclusión (si es relevante).
El Resumen Ejecutivo no es una recolección de puntos interesantes.

El Resumen ejecutivo es un PLAN DE NEGOCIOS EN MINIATURA!!

El resumen ejecutivo no es un “cut and paste” del Plan de Negocios. Si bien el contenido se desprende del plan, la redacción debe ser clara y fluida. No deben ser párrafos aislados cortados de distintos lugares del Plan.

Tampoco es el lugar para hacer autobombo. El resumen ejecutivo es un documento de “venta” y por lo tanto debe ser tentador. Pero si te dejas caer en la tentación de exagerar o tomar solo los aspectos positivos, el inversor lo detectará y te jugará en contra. Perderá confianza en toda la evaluación del negocio. El resumen debe ser realista, todos los negocios tienen riesgos, no hay que negarlos sino saber como enfrentarlos.

El resumen es un plan de negocios en miniatura por lo tanto debe tocar todos los aspectos importantes del negocio. Debido a la escasez de espacio habrá cosas que pueden quedar afuera, pero no debe ser ninguno de los aspectos claves, para cada tipo de negocio esto puede variar.

Debe permitir captar la lógica del negocio, su magnitud, la estructura necesaria para llevarlo a cabo.

El Resumen Ejecutivo como documento independiente
El resumen ejecutivo es parte del Plan de Negocios pero también tiene vida propia. Puede y debe ser un documento independiente.

Como parte del plan de negocios no debería exceder de una página y media.

Generalmente cuando se enfrentan a un inversor profesional, a alguien que ve cientos de negocios al año lo primero que le pedirá es el resumen ejecutivo. En una primera instancia no leerá el Plan de Negocios.

En Estados Unidos usan mucho el One Pager, Resumen Ejecutivo de una página que incluye todo. Acá tienen un ejemplo en inglés.
¿Ven que entra todo en una página?.;-)

En el Club de Business Angels del IAE, como un primer contacto les pedimos un Resumen Ejecutivo Ampliado. Debería entrar todo en 3 hojitas. Acá se pueden bajar el modelo en Word.

  • Introducción: a la izquierda un cuadrito con socios actuales, industria, Alianzas, objetivos financieros, inversores actuales, uso de los fondos.
  • Descripción del Negocio: Modelo de negocio y principales características.
  • Historia de la compañía: hitos importantes desde sus comienzos, en caso de Start-up, como nace el emprendimiento y en que estado se encuentra.
  • Dirección/Equipo: roles, experiencia y formación del equipo.
  • Productos/Servicios: descripción, que los hace diferentes de los existentes, que necesidad cubren.
  • Tecnología/Conocimientos necesarios: qué conocimientos son necesarios para este emprendimiento, con cuáles cuentan actualmente, como piensan acceder a los que le falten.
  • Mercado: tamaño del mercado, principales características. Evolución y tendencia. Participación a alcanzar.
  • Canales de Distribución: de que manera los productos llegarán al mercado objetivo.
  • Competencia: fortalezas y debilidades de los principales competidores, que nos diferencia de ellos.
  • Resumen de Proyecciones financieras
  • Algunos indicadores: Monto de la inversión, Exposición máxima, Mes de exposición máxima, mes del punto de equilibrio, TIR (Tasa Interna de Retorno) del proyecto y TIR para el inversor
¿En que momento escribir el resumen ejecutivo?
Si bien es lo primero que leerá el inversor se debe escribir al final una vez que el Plan este casi listo. Debe incorporar todos los puntos importantes incluyendo las proyecciones financieras. Dejarlo para el final no quiere decir hacerlo a último momento y a las apuradas, hay que dedicarle el tiempo necesario debido a su importancia.

Please, revisar la redacción, la ortografía. No olviden que es la primera impresión que tendrá el inversor. No olviden que es un documento descriptivo sino de venta, pero que debe ser realista!

lunes, 12 de febrero de 2007

Are you an entrepreneur?

Les dejo un post para que opinen: ¿agregarian algun punto extra o bonus?, ¿sacarian alguno?

You might be. Inside you there just might be an entrepreneur waiting to tear out.

Here are the top 10 ways to know if you’re an entrepreneur. (And for those of you that are already entrepreneurs, you can nod your head as we go along…Or disagree with me! Or add your own points!)

  1. You’re passionate. Passion counts for a whole lot when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Without it, you’re dead before you even start.
  2. You’re always looking for opportunities. Entrepreneurs are opportunity-seekers. Everything is an opportunity. Failures are even an opportunity.
  3. You always think to yourself, “I can do that better.” You might know nothing about the retail business, but every time you walk into a big box store you have a thousand ideas on how to make it a better experience. Combined with your eye for opportunity, you can’t help but believe there’s a better way of doing things.
  4. You want to live your work. Work isn’t a means to an end. It isn’t a way of collecting a paycheck and going home. You’re dreaming of something more than that, where you can live and breathe work. Not because you want to work more, you want to work smarter. You want your work to mean something. You want to experience something more than shuffling to the office at 8am, leaving at 5pm and forgetting what happened for that day.
  5. You’re dreaming miles ahead while focused on what you’re doing right now. You’re a dreamer, but not a daydreamer. You’re dreaming a plan ahead while working constantly at achieving success on the details today. You’re a big-thinker but you don’t lack the ability to focus on details. Accomplish the little tasks is moving the ball forward for you…towards the big dream.
  6. You’re an ego-maniac. You look at your boss and shrug. You know things could be better, and you believe strongly in your own abilities. You’ve got a big, healthy ego. It’s not unwarranted, but it’s not proven just yet either. Still, ego is important - because it’ll help you take risks, power forward and succeed.
  7. You’re prepared to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.” Your ego doesn’t preclude you from admitting that you don’t know something. Too many people fake their way through life, or duck their head when they don’t know the answer. Your response is to jump into it, learn what you can, move quickly and get some damn answers.
  8. You’re a strategist. You’re not just thinking about tomorrow. You’re thinking much further ahead than that. This is a trait you share with a lot of people - career ladder-climbers and “cover your ass” employees. The difference is that you’re also a dreamer, and strategy + dreaming is very powerful indeed.
  9. You’re a builder. You like to create things. You don’t care about recognition, praise from your boss, awards and money as much as you care about building something remarkable, and having others enjoy it and benefit from it.
  10. You want control. You watch the world spin, shake and bumble around you and want to harness that more. You watch your boss and co-workers shuffle around each and every day and you want to rattle some chains. You want control. Seth Godin calls them torchbearers. You want to bear the torch.

How To Generate Targeted Site Traffic Without Search Engines

Les dejo algo de informacion que encontre por ahi, esta es mas que interesante para leer detenidamente y tener en cuenta, sobre todo para promocionarse y ahorrar plata.

“If search engines were never invented or they ceased to exist tomorrow, how would you build traffic to your website in a searchless world?”

That’s the first question each of us search-addicted webmasters should ask ourselves every morning. While search is really hard to beat in terms of cost-of-traffic and its targeting, don’t leave these other options out of your Web Promotion Playbook. Learn how to thrive on the Internet without having to worry about the unpredictable algorithm changes of search engine algorithms and you’ve created a truly defensible audience.

In no particular order, each of these methods of engaging the Internet will deliver to you targeted, monetizable web traffic:

1. Blogging. There are a hundred good reasons as to why you should be blogging, but in terms of building a web audience, the two best reasons are A) It gives you near immediate time-to-market with your message and B) It’s a great way to put a face behind your message. Popular blog services like Technorati can deliver great traffic. If we take our search engine blinders off, blog search engines are now reaching high enough adoption rates to send over great traffic, too. Ok, search blinders back on. Don’t forget to be an active and valuable commenter on the blogs of other key influencers in your business.

2. Podcasting. I don’t have any specific stats on podcasting, but just ask yourself, “Do I or anybody I know listen to podcasts?” I’m betting the answer is, “Yes!”, and the number is higher than it was a few years ago. Like blogging, Podcasting is a great way to control your message and bring it to market quickly.

3. Link buying. Search engines turn up their noses at link buying, but I have been buying links long before they were used to juice link popularity scoring. A good link can deliver tons of targeted traffic. Some Wikipedia links deliver way more benefit from their traffic than they ever did from their link authority. See: Text Link Ads.

4. TV Buys. It turns out TV time really isn’t that expensive in local markets. Check out Spotrunner. You can buy great air time for a whole lot less than you probably expected.

5. Web Directories. This is how the Internet used to be organized and the genesis of Yahoo. While most fly-by-night directories won’t ever send you enough traffic to merit the fee, take a look at Aviva Directory’s List of the Strongest Directories. Work your way down this list and you’ll see targeted traffic.

6. Ad Networks. One of the things I always try to do is buy ad inventory on any pages that rank above me. Many of the most trafficked sites on the Internet sell ad space or let ad network services like AdBrite or IndustryBrains resell the space. There is gold in some of them hills!

7. Online Forums. Like web directories, online forums can trace their history back to the earliest days of Internet traffic. But like blogging, it’s a great way to personalize your interaction with your audience while building traffic.

8. Social Media. Aside from search engines, this is the motherload of traffic. Whether you’re building a large Myspace and Facebook presence, establishing yourself as a thoughtleader on linked in, or seeing your content promoted on Digg, Netscape, and Reddit…this is probably the largest yield of any audience building effort

9. Email List Rentals. This is a huge driver of traffic in the B2B and direct marketing worlds. If you can get the right cross section of traffic in a list, it’s very profitable. Just make sure the provider of the list is in compliance with all the laws regarding this activity.

10. Webinars/Video. Webinars just might be the hottest audience building tool in the B2B world. Like podcasting, you can really go the extra mile in personalizing the message and interaction with your audience. Video communities like YouTube are a great source of traffic. What the audience lacks in buying intent, it makes up for in the ability to take your content viral. See: LonelyGirl15.

11. Online Press Releases. Maybe the oldest and most resilient of the traditional media promotional tools, the online version is also effective. You’d be surprised how many news outlets rely on newswires. Take advantage of that through online press release agencies like PRWeb.com.

12. PR Firm. A PR firm won’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, but the good ones are amazingly good at creating inertia behind your product or service. Their Rolodexes will make it easier to do everything else on this list.

13. Event Media Sponsorships. If you are a news blogger…or your site can pass as a news site…this is an amazing source of traffic and branding that most online publishers have overlooked. Just about every major conference, seminar series, or symposium is looking for media sponsorships. You’ll get a valuable link on the event website plus you can market to eventgoers with other materials in the registration bags, booths at the show, and email blasts. The results of doing this in the B2B world are nothing short of amazing.

14. Sponsored Reviews. There are a million bloggers out there who are looking for topics to write about and get paid. The concept of the sponsored review was designed by firms like ReviewMe and PayPerPost to solve this problem. Many of the Technorati Top 100 blogs can send you thousands of visitors.

15. Syndicate Your Content. There are thousands of other businesses out there who are unable or unwilling to create their own content. For example, many Fortune 500’s display third-party content to aid their audience in buying decisions. There are also a ton of article sites with active audiences and/or good traffic. Make sure you require a link back to your original source, though. You know…to establish canonicalization for those search engines we are trying to ignore.

16. Streaking. I may only be halfway joking here because I don’t think I knew about Golden Palace before a dozen of their best Brits went Frank the Tank on various sporting events I had the misfortune of watching. If there’s any chance I can convince just one web marketing team to adopt this strategy, this is me hoping that ends up being the folks who handle Jessica Alba’s online promotion. That is one server crashing I can guarantee.

Like me? Hire me!

Les dejo una encuesta de Fortune Small Business para tener en cuenta: que es mejor, o que habría que hacer, la verdad es que no sabría decirles. Todavía no tengo empleados y mis socios fueron elegidos por skills, diversidad y por tener un común denominador (se podría decir: likability).

Espero que les sirva, y cualquier comentario que tengan al respecto, suma. Creo que es uno de los puntos en los emprendedores suelen tener menos experiencia.

Willy Loman was right: It's important to be well-liked. At least that's the finding of a recent survey by NFI Research, which found that managers at small businesses are more likely to make hiring and promotion decisions based on personality than on such insignificant factors as, oh, skill level.

When hiring and/or promoting in your business, which of the following do you rely on?

Personality/likability: 64.8%

Skills: 58.6%

Track record: 53.9%

Knowledge of your organization: 18.8%

Diversity: 14.1%

jueves, 8 de febrero de 2007

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Web 2.0: Top 25 Apps to Grow your Business

Encontré este articulo sobre aplicaciones web 2.0 para emprendimientos. Algunas de las aplicaciones recomendadas las conozco, son útiles y fáciles de usar, las otras no se. Me resultó interesante la aplicación de "peer to peer lending", prestamos entre pares.

Aqui tienen el link y el artículo:


Are you doing a good job meeting the needs of your small business? Keeping a good handle on finances? Networking? Do you have a system for organizing your marketing strategy? Do you even have a marketing strategy?

If you are running a small business, you know that to be successful you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. The smart way to manage everything from company finances, to client relations, to marketing, is to use the right tools – tools that are simple enough that they won’t require you to spend a lot of time and money you don’t have setting them up.

In this guide we cover the 25 best web2.0 applications for entrepreneurs who are looking for simple, cheap, and effective solutions to solving some of the tasks facing their small business or startup. The 25 applications selected were chosen both on the basis of their usefulness for the individual small business manager as well as their effectiveness in providing community support and networking opportunities for users.

Finances, Money Management, Payments

You’re in business to make money. However, if you can’t manage your finances, payments, and assets, you’re going to find that expenses start to creep up, financing runs short, and your ability to plan for the future is nil. Thankfully, the following five apps are designed specifically to help you manage your finances. With these apps, you’ll know where every dime is spent and what you owe at all times, allowing you to start planning your company’s future rather than always trying to play catch up.

  1. Prosper.
    Got a business idea but little or no capital? Prosper is a new type of peer lending service which brings individual lenders and small business borrowers together. Each loanee creates a profile, describes what the loan will be used for, and what interest rate they are able to pay. Lenders indicate how much they are offering, at what rates, and who they want to offer sums to. So your loan may come from multiple sources, or a single person. Alternatively, if you already have a group of investors you already know, such as friends and family, Prosper manages the transaction’s lifecycle for you. Regardless of whom you borrow from, Prosper takes a small percentage for managing each loan. For the entrepreneur looking for alternative financing, peer lending can be a great solution. The only downside, however, is that everyone knows your business, literally and figuratively.
  2. Dimewise.
    Dimewise lets you record your purchases/expenses and categorizes them. Then, when you’re wondering where the heck last month’s budget went to, you can produce a pretty pie chart showing you exactly what you’re spending your money on. You can also set recurring expenses as well as track balances in one or more accounts, which will make it easier to predict what your future months’ total expenses will be. Of course, you could do much of this with a spreadsheet, but Dimewise lets you do it from anywhere with a web browser, and saves you the time of setting up macros.
  3. NetworthIQ.
    NetworthIQ, winner of an SEOmoz web2.0 award, will help you keep track of your company’s finances as well as your personal net worth. It also includes a fun tool that lets you compare your income to other entrepreneurs of the same age or industry, so you can keep track of your company’s success relative to your peers.
  4. Wesabe.
    Wesabe goes a step further than both Dimewise and NetworthIQ by integrating its financial organization and planning tools with your bank account. This allows you to complete a monthly accounting report and simultaneously use that report to manage and pay your bills. In addition to this added function, Wesabe also serves as a meeting point for other entrepreneurs to discuss financial advice. While this application won’t be robust enough to meet the needs of larger companies, for small startups Wesabe can serve as a one-stop finance resource.
  5. Instacalc.
    Whether you’re rolling in the dough or just squeaking by, every entrepreneur has to crunch the numbers. There’s no easier tool to do long financial equations than instacalc, which will also give you a variety of charting options to display your figures. And if you need to go beyond basic algebra, calcoolate will help you add up all your moola in ways that would make your calculus teacher proud.

Timesheets, Invoicing, Billing

For a small business to succeed, managers need to maximize the amount of time they spend on developing the business, and try to minimize the time they spend on mundane tasks like creating timesheets and invoices. The following three web2.0 apps are all designed to help you cut the time you have to spend on these mundane tasks while simultaneously increasing your company’s accuracy and effectiveness in doing them.

  1. FreshBooks.
    FreshBooks is an app designed with the web-based entrepreneur in mind. Not only does the program let you bill clients via email with professional-looking invoices, but clients can also pay you online via PayPal, Authorize.net, and other options through FreshBooks. The wide range of invoicing options is certainly enough for most small business owners, and because the generated billing reports the application generates can handle imported data, FreshBooks will work well with your current billing system.
  2. Harvest.
    If after a long work day you often find yourself trying to wonder what exactly you did with all your time, both you and your small business would probably benefit from some time tracking. GetHarvest offers ten reasons why you should use their time tracking solution, including professional quality reports, Internet-based access, daily data backups, and privacy. Perhaps the most important feature is the application’s ability to analyze the hours worked by your entire staff, thus enabling you to identify company-wide inefficiencies.
  3. SidejobTrack.
    SidejobTrack is billed as a software tool for the part-time independent contractor. If your startup involves providing services for a number of different clients, this all-in-one finance app is ideal for you. With SidejobTrack you can organize all the various jobs and services you’re performing, send estimates, do invoicing, tax reporting and even manage projects.

Communication and Collaboration

A common ingredient in every small company’s success is teamwork and communication. We’ve got both covered here with five web applications designed for conferencing, voice communication, text chat, team/project management, live customer support, and workspace sharing.

  1. Campfire.
    The much celebrated product company 37 Signals has a suite of award-winning tools for collaboration and productivity: Campfire for group chat, Basecamp
    for collaboration and project management, and Backpack for organization (calendaring).Among these, the most useful tool for small business owners is Campfire. The application offers password-protected chat rooms to which you can invite clients, vendors, colleagues, and employees. These secured rooms are an excellent place to conduct negotiations that may involve sensitive company data without fear of having that information compromised.
  2. Meebo.
    If you’ve used any of the text chat IM clients such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, or MSN Messenger (aka Windows Live Messenger), you’re aware of one fundamental problem: they don’t play nice together. If you have one contact on one IM and another contact using another service, how do you stay accessible to both of them? You could open a whole group of IM clients and chew up your free RAM memory, or you could use Meebo as a web-based bridge. For online companies where an increasing amount of business is conducted over IM clients, making yourself accessible to everyone through a bridging app like Meebo can mean the difference between success and failure.
  3. Userplane.
    Userplane offers a suite of communication and conferencing tools, the most useful of which is called Presence. Presence is the new hot niche tool in telecom, be it over the Internet, cellular networks, or the good old regular telephone system. The technology allows a communication system to “know” where a user is and to reroute calls and messages accordingly to the specific device he is near. For those entrepreneurs who work from home, the office, and the road, this app is really helpful.
  4. ConceptShare.
    Of all the above conferencing and collaboration solutions, none of them is suited for creative live interaction, such as having multiple people in different locations designing artwork or editing a document. ConceptShare solves the need for having a way to collaborate on a project in real-time by providing a creative workspace where employees can add to and modify graphic presentations. Changes made on the artwork or web design are even tagged by contributor, so different filtering combinations will allow your team to look at a variety of different filtering options.
  5. Near-time.
    Near-time offers collaboration tools including group calendars with event and activity tracking, private shared weblogs, author pages, categories and tagging, and more. Near-time is designed specifically for small businesses, work groups and professionals, which no doubt includes the collaborative entrepreneur.


As a small business owner you don’t have the luxury of having a personal assistant to keep you organized. But just because you can’t afford to devote hours or dollars to staying on top of things, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. The following three apps are designed to help you quickly and easily keep track of deadlines and schedule your work week so you can focus on the most important task, building your business.

  1. Google Calendar.
    Google Calendar
    There are numerous web2.0 calendaring applications out there, including CalendarHub, Planzo, and spongecell. But what sets Google Calendar apart from the rest is its ease of setup and use. With Google Calendar you can quickly set up multiple calendars for different projects or clients, as well as link up to public calendars which can help you stay synched with your client’s activities. And for the entrepreneur on the go, Google Calendar even lets you check on your schedule from a mobile phone through SMS messaging.
  2. Remember the milk.
    Remember The Milk
    Have you ever tied string around your finger to remind yourself of something but then forgot what it was?Remember the milk can help you and your company remember all of the days important details. The app will let you set and receive reminders via email, SMS and IM. And to minimize the total number of apps you’re running independently on a daily basis, Remember the Milk even works as an add-on to Google Calendar.
  3. Neptune.
    Neptune is the ultimate in practical planning. This web2.0 application won a spot on this list primarily because of its ease of use and simplicity. It’s a GTD (get things done) type of to-do list application with multiple project folders and drag and drop task reordering. Neptune also sends you email each day reminding you what your most urgent task for each defined project is. And for those of you daunted by the idea of having to go in and constantly update your to-do list, Neptune will even allow you to set up events and reminders simply by mailing items to your personal inbox.

Networking, Social Spaces

While big companies can afford just wait until contacts come to them, as a small business owner you have to go out and make your own opportunities. That means being proactive about developing relationships with people in your niche and finding new ways to introduce yourself and your company to prospective clients. The two apps in this section are designed to help you to be more effective at professional networking.

  1. LinkedIn.
    LinkedIn is the new, hot, de rigueur networking tool for professionals and entrepreneurs. It builds on the concept of six degrees of separation, which says that every human being is connected to every other human being through at most 6 people. Entering into a network means being able to take advantage of business opportunities, asking for, or offering advice, and letting people in your network know about your projects. The best part? You’re connected to everyone that your direct connections are networked with. That means that you can quickly expand your contacts and develop your professional reputation with minimal effort, since you already have something in common with the other person (a common contact).
  2. Ning.
    Ning is easily one of the most unique web2.0 application sites out there. Ning takes web2.0 to a whole new level by letting you build your own networking and social space. The plug-n-play social space creator will allow you to create your own community space for other entrepreneurs and potential clients in your niche to communicate and share ideas. With hundreds of pre-fabricated modules no programming is needed to get the space up and running making it just the sort of marketing boost your company needs.

Content Creation, Office and Productivity Tools

No matter the service or product that your startup company sells, you are going to need to maintain accurate records if you want to stay productive and steer clear of legal issues. But since you’re already strapped for time, recordkeeping is often one of the first dropped tasks if a small business doesn’t have a good plan in place to make sure that it gets done. In this section we cover four of the best web-based apps to help you take notes, write documents, preserve records, and create spreadsheets. When used correctly, these tools will minimize the time it takes you to make and keep hard copies, records, and backups so that you will actually follow through and get them done.

  1. Zoho.
    Zoho OfficeSuite
    Zoho has one of the most well-rounded offerings of web-based tools for the entrepreneur/ business person, including an Office Suite (Writer, Sheet, Show, Wiki, Virtual Office), Productivity Tools (Projects, CRM, Creator, Planner, Chat), Polls, and website monitoring. One of the most useful applications, however, is Zoho Challenge, which lets you test and evaluate job candidates using a combination of multiple choice and descriptive questions. Candidates can then be emailed results for one or more tests. Perhaps the best feature is Zoho Writer, a superb web-based replacement for Microsoft Word. Zoho Writer’s only limitation is its own popularity, which has been known to cause slow server response times. By using a web-based writing program, your employees and clients will be able to access their work at any time without the need for email attachments.
  2. ThinkFree.
    ThinkFree Online
    ThinkFree calls itself “the best Online Office on earth.” Their suite of apps includes ThinkFree Online, Server, Desktop, and Portable. Of these numerous tools, the two most useful for entrepreneurs are ThinkFree Online, a document management and sharing application, and Desktop, a Microsoft Office compatible word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tool. Together, these two tools will allow small business owners and their employees to access a project no matter their location.
  3. MyStickies.
    Does your business involve online research, but keeping a pad of paper and a pen handy for notes seems arcane to you? Or maybe you’ve made the cost-effective choice to try to make your company paper free. Whatever your reason, MyStickies is one of a number of digital sticky note apps (among others are stikkit, jotcloud, sticky tag, and webnote) available to you to quickly record short notes. In addition to putting post-its on your desktop, MyStickies will also let you put digital stickies on a particular web page so that when you return to the page later on, you won’t need to spend time trying to remember where you were in your research.
  4. EyeOS.
    If your company would benefit from having multiple employees having access to the same documents, images, and programs, but they’re spread around the world, a shared online operating system might be the answer. EyeOS, one of the new breed of web-based “operating systems” is one of the best options available. EyeOS is Open Source and can either be downloaded and installed to your own server, or run off their public server. Once EyeOS is setup, anyone with the correct username and password can access the “desktop”, no matter where they are located. That means that if you and your employees are frequently working off the same data or tools, EyeOS may be the ideal application for your company.

Promotion, Marketing, Sales and Support

Fortune 500 companies have entire departments devoted to branding, marketing and supporting their products. For the small business owner, however, you need to replace all those departments and still have time left over to meet the other needs of your company. As the face and driving force behind your startup, it will be largely up to you to get your product in front of new customers, control the way it is perceived in the market, and answer questions from potential clients. The following four Web2.0 apps are all designed to maximize the effectiveness of your time by helping you promote your product and provide customer support.

  1. Veetro.
    Veetro is designed to be a one-stop organizational and promotional application for small businesses. It offers a wide range of tools from invoicing and project management to customer support.The most useful aspect of Veetro, however, is its emphasis on client development and sales. With built-in lead tracking, email marketing, customer support and direct advertising functions, Veetro is an excellent tool for small businesses that are making a push to expand their client base or break into a new niche.
  2. eBay.
    eBay is the classic early web2.0 application because of it’s pseudo-social network reviewing system. For small businesses trying to generate buzz, selling a few early product examples on eBay is a good way to get your product out early without a lot of overhead cost. In fact, some people legitimately make their living selling products full-time on eBay, though it’s not necessarily as easy as all those $97 e-books would have you believe. But if you’re an entrepreneur with volume purchasing and drop-shipping experience or just looking for some pre-launch exposure, eBay might be perfect for you.
  3. Qoop.
    Qoop, there it is. When it comes to promotional/ advertising efforts for your small business, Qoop is an excellent resource as it allows you to create calendars, posters and other “memorabilia” with your company’s logo added. Qoop goes beyond sites like cafepress by taking numerous web2.0 photo sharing sites and networks including photobucket, webshots, and flickr and mashing them up. So if you have, say, a flickr photostream, you can create custom calendars using your images. Qoop has also partnered up with sites like blogprinting and fundprinting to outsource volume printing.
  4. Bonus App: YouTube.
    Don’t underestimate the value of YouTube to a business, especially because of its pseudo-social network and category tagging. Real estate agents use YouTube to post video walkthroughs of properties they’ve listed on their website. Other web2.0 applications in alpha and beta stage post screencasts of their “secret” software to create some buzz. The innovative entrepreneur will come up with some way to utilize YouTube or similar sites such as revver to promote their business. If new media advertising doesn’t work for your company, you might want to promote via traditional TV through spotrunner. Spotrunner lets you pick pre-shot footage snippets to mashup, and then finds you budget ad spots with TV stations across the USA.

Being an entrepreneur has always been a high risk/ high reward venture. This year, more than 50% of new startups will close up shop before they reach their first anniversary. And while you cannot control things like market fluctuations, being smart about how you spend your time and energy can dramatically improve your company’s chances of success. This article has introduced you to 25 of the best Web 2.0 applications, all of which are designed to help you organize, control and promote your company, so that by working smarter you can maximize the chances of your startup’s success.