We wanted to build a product that would help small businesses do better marketing, to build a great small business, to help you get more out of your marketing.
We haven’t seen a way forward for a while. The decision to quit was a difficult one, but we decided to choose our time rather than wait until we had no way out and would have to stop anyway.
Nilesh and I have both moved to Mumbai and started new jobs, still doing things they are interested in (project management and marketing, respectively). Virendra is at engineering school and continues to build apps in his free time.
This year of entrepreneurship has taught us so much. We are glad we took the plunge, that we put in everything into something we believed in, that we tested our limits. We met some wonderful people and learned more about ourselves.
We want to thank you, so very much, for supporting us, for believing in us. We wish we could have helped you more, but we can’t support Markitty anymore and will close down all emails from the app. We will still keep the app up for another month, so you can continue to use it if you like. We will try to keep blogging here once in a while, because we love this space and don’t want to leave it.
As always, wishing you better marketing.
Some days, I just want to stay in and away from everyone
I’ve always known I’m an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet that I realized how much work and cultural practices are built around extroversion. Quiet helped me figure out how to manage my work better to leverage my strengths as an introvert instead of trying to work around my weaknesses. If you are an introvert, this might help you too.
1. Find your optimal level of stimulation
Cain posits that introversion is about sensitiveness to stimuli, which made perfect sense to me. We introverts like to feel in control, we find it hard to adapt to disruptive experiences: strange places, strange people, noise. The key, I’ve learnt, is to first figure out what’s the best level of stimulation that makes you most productive.
Jennifer Lewis voyaged into entrepreneurship with her own food business, and now helps other food businesses become successful. Her site, smallfoodbiz.com, has lots of resources and advice for artisan food entrepreneurs. She tells us about the specific challenges of running a small food business, her favorite social media platform, and more.
My questions are in bold.
How is starting a food business different from other forms of entrepreneurship? What peculiar challenges does a small food business-owner face?
People tend to come into the food world because they’re driven by passion for the items they make but they can face an uphill battle getting their products to market because of the numerous regulations that are specific to the food industry. This can be anything from health code permits to labeling regulations. It’s a complex world and one that’s very different from other types of entrepreneurial ventures.
Think you don’t have enough time for Twitter? If you have 15 minutes in the day, you can do this.
Day 1: Sign up and create your profile
Choose a username that is as close to your name or your business name as possible and is easy to remember. For example, we didn’t get “markitty,” so we got “markittyapp”.
Make your profile description interesting and snappy. Don’t just copy your boilerplate company description. Make it clear what your business is about or what you stand for; people should be able to look at this and figure out what you tweet about and whether to follow you.
Specific marketing tips and insights on the product, general marketing advice on the blog. Managed by @Unmana and @NileshBhojani.
Done? That’s it for today.
We have put together our most useful Twitter tips in The Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitter for Business. This includes:
- Important Twitter features you should know
- Who you should follow
- Tools and tips to easily find relevant people on Twitter
- How to use Twitter for business in 15 minutes a day: a step-by-step guide that tells you how to get started and keep going, in just 15 minutes every day
- Twitter mistakes you should avoid
- Tools and apps you can use to get more out of Twitter
Get all of this for free!
Let’s talk about productivity! Raise your hand if you think you work at a terrific pace and rarely waste time being unproductive or procrastinating. What, no one? I’m shocked.
Check out Nilesh’s post about seven free tools he’s used that might help you improve your productivity.
It’s easy to see which of us is more tech-savvy. My recent post about productivity on the Spin Sucks blog described how I use my favorite productivity tool: paper.
That’s right: I have ten notebooks, each with a designated use. Don’t believe me? Check out the post: I have details and a picture.
This is a really interesting list of apps and plug-ins you can use to counter procrastination. I’ve started using Strict Workflow myself to keep me on track.
I also use Rescue Time to check up on my productivity (since Bhaskar recommended it), and of course, email (I write myself notes on things I need to remember) and Google Calendar. I have also found Streak useful to keep track of emails I need to follow up on. I’ve used Remember the Milk and Trello as well, but with less success.
And if you’re feeling stressed out about your productivity levels, Amber Naslund’s post might help you gain perspective.
There is no magic system. Stop looking for it.
So let’s get to work now, you and me both.
Failure’s been on my mind lately. It started a while back, with this startup founder writing about the inevitable end of the business.
And of course, last week I wrote about another startup failure, inspired by the TechCrunch article reporting it.
So today I share some more stories of failure with you, hoping we can avoid their mistakes and their fate. The next three links are from this Business Insider article.
This entrepreneur started his business of selling condom key chains: he failed, but it’s a great story.
This blog post has some interesting insights, including this:
I don’t usually follow startup stories, but I was intrigued by this one. With so much going for them – an interesting idea, interest from partners, interest from users, some PR, even some funding – they still had to fold.
And then I read Flowtab’s own account of how it went down. I am hardly qualified to criticize (but of course, I’m going to do so anyway), but some things leaped out at me. And these aren’t particular to this company (I don’t mean to pile on), but attitudes and activities I have seen in other startups as well.
Careless erosion of goodwill
Goodwill isn’t a trendy buzzword, but let’s talk about it anyway. Here are some of the tactics this company tried out.
Flowtab was an app that let you order drinks at bars. The founders spent months building the app, launched it on iTunes, and it was the #1 featured app for one week. But there was no service to back up the app. There’s no mention of how many people downloaded the app, but it must have been a good number. Many startups would be thrilled at having their app featured by Apple. But this one squandered their opportunity by letting users download an app they couldn’t use. That’s like having a big store launch, inviting customers, and then not showing up to open the store. If a thousand customers came to your door, that’s not a success. The fact that you couldn’t serve them is a failure.
We wanted to say hi :)
Virendra, Nilesh, and I explain why we started Markitty, how we work together, and what our respective roles are. Hope this helps you know us better!
Want to try out Markitty? Sign up here.
I wrote this about my entrepreneurial journey, especially how we got started. I titled it somewhat provocatively, but the point is that I needed to reduce the distractions in my life to think clearly, to figure out what I really wanted to do.
The TV had filled our lives with noise. In the silence, we could hear our thoughts, our dreams.
Towards the end, I offer more tips on reducing distractions and improving your focus, something I struggle with every day. This post was also picked up by women 2.0.
I like reading stories and learnings of other entrepreneurs for motivation: it makes me feel less alone, it gives me hope that we’ll make it too.
Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or know someone who is? Read on for what you need to get in order before starting your business!
First, give yourself a reality check. #2 and #8 in that list look most important to me.
Here are some more things you should be careful about.
Next, get to work. I wrote on Women’s Web about 8 things to do before leaving your job to start your business.
Unlike what most people think, you shouldn’t wait to start marketing until you’re ready to launch. In fact, the earlier you start the better. I wrote on YourStory about marketing activities you need to start as soon as you start your business.
What do you wish you’d done earlier?
Since last week was Small Business Week in the U.S., we’ve been tweeting about marketing for small businesses all week. Here are a few of the links that are useful all year-round.
On Small Business Trends, 5 reasons why signs work for your small business.
But if you’re thinking you only need signs, think again: Search Engine Journal explains why offline businesses need online marketing.
According to the BIA/Kelsey report, 97% of consumers use online media before making local purchases. Google Research showed that 9 out of 10 internet searches resulted in a follow up action, such as calling or visiting the business. Mobile searches triggered an additional action or conversion 73% of the time; and 28% of mobile searches resulted in a store visit or purchase.
It’s Small Business Week in the U.S., a good time to write about my pet theory: being small is an advantage. Big businesses have big resources, what do small businesses have?
Small businesses are closer to the customer.
Small can be both beautiful and effective
If you’re a small-business owner or marketer, you know your best customers by name. You know why they are good customers — which goes beyond being just regular to being easy to work with, or maybe they give you constructive feedback. If you’re a B2B business, you know their business challenges. If you’re a bakery, you know Donna loves cheesecake and is allergic to walnuts.
Why is this an advantage? Because it makes it so much easier to tailor your marketing and sales to them. To tell Donna she might want to try the new mango cheesecake just in and that you’re baking a fresh set of nut-free brownies. Big businesses have to get sophisticated CRM systems to keep track of that stuff… but small businesses can do it more organically and easily.
I wrote on YourStory about marketing mistakes I find myself making repeatedly and see most often in others as well.
Here are some ways to avoid making such mistakes:
- Study the data. Be careful you don’t misinterpret it, but make sure you’re looking at it and can figure out what it means.
- Ask your customers. Make sure you’re talking to them and know what they really think, and not just what you think they think. But of course, they need to be the right customers.
- Talk to people who’ll ask you the hard questions: be it a partner, advisor, or a friend.
- Don’t lose sight of your vision. Don’t change something just because someone suggested it: see if it fits into your vision of your business.
- Measure your productivity. Are you spending time on the right things?
- Question yourself constantly. Why are you doing [something]? Are you making the right assumptions? Is there a better way of doing this?
Tell me: what are the mistakes you try hard not to make?
In our interview series, we asked marketers and entrepreneurs we admire about their marketing practices. One question I asked most people was about metrics: what metrics do they measure or think are most important for small businesses should measure?
If your website is also your product (content sites like Ask A Manager and YourStory, product startups like AppSurfer, e-commerce sites), website metrics are of paramount importance.
The AppSurfer team tracks website metrics regularly, especially engagement-related metrics: pages per visit, bounce rate, etc.
We met Jubin Mehta of YourStory recently, and he told us that YourStory focuses on the number of unique visitors — not total visits or page views, but the number of readers.
I’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.
Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.
I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).
On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.
Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar
Here’s why research or surveys usually don’t help you much:
We’ve been feeling like imposters for the last few weeks. You see, whenever we talk to a small-business owner or startup founder, we advise them to focus. To go after one customer segment. To highlight one benefit. To talk in one voice across their marketing channels.
How can you “focus” on more than one thing at a time? How can you “highlight” 37 services? How can you, with the constraints of a small business, manage more than one brand and ensure that your audience doesn’t get confused by conflicting messages?
But we’ve been doing all of this ourselves. We’ve introduced ourselves as “marketing consultants, and we also have a product” or as “we’re building a product, and we also do consulting services.” We’ve been dividing our time between servicing clients and working on the product.
If your feet are on two boats, what happens when the boats gather speed?
I’m doing two online marketing workshops with Women’s Web.
Want to get more out of your blog, or Facebook page? Wondering how to get your website visitors to buy? How to track marketing results and figure out what’s working for you (and what isn’t)? This workshop is for you.
This workshop will help you decide on the best online marketing channels for your business, how to use them effectively, and how to track performance and make decisions based on marketing data. This is meant to help you go beyond just scouting for Facebook likes or Twitter mentions, or more visitors to your website, and instead, focus on converting those visitors and interactions to actual results: whether in the form of sales, registrations, enquiries or any other result you are looking for.
Here are the dates:
These workshops are for women entrepreneurs, and I’m very excited to be meeting some of the members of Women’s Web’s smart, engaged community.
We’ll stay in each city for a few days to catch up with friends and contacts there, so if you are in either and want to meet up, leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.