David Chitester
Serial Entrepreneur
BLOG.DAVIDCHITESTER.COM

Dave's Top 10 Tips on Public Speaking

Entrepreneurs typically have to get involved in every aspect of their businesses including strategy, personnel, financing, facilities, and sales & marketing.  One of the most important aspects of being an entrepreneur, however, is acting as the face of the company.  And, one of the best ways to do that is through public speaking.

Organizations everywhere are always looking for good speakers for their programs. Opportunities range from small local community group lunches to large national trade shows and exhibitions.  Regardless of venue, however, speaking in front of a group of people is always a great way to make new contacts and get the word out about you and your company.



  



Over the years, I have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of individuals throughout the country in groups ranging in size from three to hundreds.  I have found that the best presentations always have a number of things in common.  So here is my list of top 10 tips on public speaking:

  1. Know Your Topic -  Do your research and know more about what you are talking about than anyone in the audience.  It gives you great confidence and allows you to relax and come across as the expert.
  2. Know Your Audience - Is this a new topic for them or are they industry professionals? Prepare your talk to address their needs. Anticipate their questions and be prepared to answer them.
  3. Structure Your Presentation - It is an old saying but still holds true today - Tell them what your are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.  Introduce your topic, present it, then summarize.  It works every time.
  4. Use Technology - You don't have to be an IT whiz, but slides, overheads, and handouts are out.  PowerPoint presentations are in and your have to be proficient in using at least its basic features.
  5. Practice - Yes, doing a dry run, out loud, preferably in front of real people is invaluable.  Even if it is friends and family, it  is the only way to really get a feel for your talk and judge the content, flow and timing of the presentation.
  6. Check Out the Facilities - Try to look at the venue the day before or the morning of.  It is large and open or small and confined?  Visualize yourself speaking there.  You may have to make some adjustments to your technique to accommodate the audience.
  7. Get Some Sleep - Get some good rest the night before. You will be more alert and on your toes for the presentation.
  8. Address the Audience - Make eye contact throughout your talk.  Make sure the computer with your presentation is in front of you and the projection screen behind you, so you don't keep turning around and talking to the screen instead of the audience.  Practice this in #5 above.
  9. Slow Down - If you rush through your presentation you will lose the audience really quickly.  Don't be afraid to have a few seconds of silence here and there.  It actually makes it easier for them to understand what you are saying.
  10. Be Aware of the Clock - Know what time constraints you have and pace yourself.  It is not good when a speaker goes on and on after the program should have ended, or rushes at the end to fit everything in.
Well there you have it , my top 10 tips on public speaking.  Let me know what you think.  I hope to see you on the road.

David Chitester

A Better Idea for Leasing Office Space


Renting an office is one of the biggest decisions an entrepreneur can make.  How much space do you need?  How long of a lease should you sign?  Is there room for expansion?  Will I have to pay to build out the space to suit my needs?  Many entrepreneurs face this decision after starting their business working from home and experiencing some success, particularly when it is time to hire an employee or two.  But you don't have to rush into a long term commitment of a 3 to 5 year lease or take on the associated costs of build out and improvements.  I have found that renting an executive suite is a much better option.



                         

                 Our New Office is in the Civic Memorial Office Center in Tampa



The rent for a typical executive suite includes all the office amenities a small business needs in its daily operations such as:
  • Reception area
  • Conference rooms
  • Kitchen facilities
  • Mailroom
  • Internet service
  • Janitorial service
  • Utilities

Also, for an additional fee, many executive suites offer services such as phone answering, administrative support, and copy and printing capabilities.  The beauty of the whole arrangement is that there is no need to sign a long term lease; typical commitments are 6 months to one year.  Also, since most executive suites have a number of office arrangements available, you can usually find one that suits your needs without the costly build out expenses you would have in a typical long term lease.  You can usually move in within a week or two.

Last month, I moved my office from home to an executive suite in the Civic Memorial Office Center on Memorial Highway in Tampa, and things are working out great.  The building is spacious, the staff friendly and helpful, and the cost is reasonable.  Additionally, there is lots of room to expand if I hire more employees.  Best of all, I only signed a six month lease, so there is none of the risk associated with typical long term office rentals.



              

The Civic Memorial Center Executive Suites
has 4 Conference Rooms and 2 Kitchens Available for Tenants



So, if you are an entrepreneur contemplating moving out of your home office and into rental facilities, check out the executive suites in your area.  I can assure you, there will be plenty of options that can meet your needs without the risk and cost of traditional long term leases.

David D. Chitester    

      

You Know You're a Serial Entrepreneur When....

The term serial entrepreneur often has a bad connotation.  It is frequently associated with someone who can't be successful, so they just keep starting businesses destined to fail.  This is unfortunate.  Actually, a serial entrepreneur is typically an individual who gets bored with success and wants to move on, learn more, experience new things, try innovations, conquer challenges and repeat past successes in different environments.  I know, I've been there.

                                         

Are you a serial entrepreneur?  Niel Patel provides some good insights into serial entrepreneurs in his article "7 Signs You Might be a Serial Entrepreneur" in the American Express Open Forum.  I would like to add the following:
 
                                              You Know You're a Serial Entrepreneur When:

  • Your wife asks you how you're going to fund your new start up and you say "We'll figure that out later".
  • You have 3 or 4 business cards that all say "CEO".
  • You've read 50 books on innovation, creativity, excellence, and success.
  • You've accidentally paid a vendor from the wrong bank account.
  • You're on your way to work and you show up at the wrong office.
  • Your Vistage CEO support group tells you you've been drinking your own Cool-Aid again.
  • You've run out of cash more than twice.
  • Your Blackberry memo pad app has categories such as "Ideas", "Notes", and "Don't do this Again".
  • You talk to potential investors who say "And exactly how is this going to make money?".
  • You keep reminding yourself that Colonel Sanders made 1008 sales calls before the first restaurant agreed  to sell his chicken.

Well there you have it, Dave's top ten ways to know you're a serial entrepreneur.  So, are you?  Let me know what you think.

Dave Chitester








Dealing with the Stress of Being an Entrepreneur


It is stressful being an entrepreneur.  Among other things, you have to deal with:

  • Meeting payroll
  • Hiring and firing employees
  • Raising capital
  • Government rules and regulations
  • Developing a corporate culture
  • Making strategic decisions
  • Watching the competition
  • Analyzing opportunities
  • Monitoring accounts receivable
And this is only a partial list.  The end result is often overwhelming and unhealthy.

Aerobic Exercise

Without a doubt, the best way to deal with this daily stress is with regular aerobic exercise.  Examples of aerobic exercise include swimming, biking, running, in line skating, tennis, and cross country skiing.  Also, gyms have machines where you can get aerobic exercise on a stairclimber, rowing machine, treadmill, or stationary bike.  No matter what method you use, doctors recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times per week.  

Running

I prefer running for my aerobic exercise.  You don't need to find a pool or tennis court or snow, you can run anywhere.  You can usually run outside on the streets or a trail (especially in Florida), but if weather is an issue, the treadmill is always a back up.  It is also inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of running shoes.  I use the Asics Gel 1140 at a cost of about $80.




                                     
                                   
                                       Couch Potato                                                                       Runner


Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

The two most common complaints about running is that it is boring and it damages your knees and joints.   Neither, however, needs to be true.  I run mostly at home and use the time to see the neighborhood or trail, smell the fresh air and enjoy the sun.  While traveling I have run in London's Hyde Park, past the Vatican in Rome, along the beach in Maui, and through Central Park in New York.  As for the joint issue, a number of recent studies have concluded that running, done properly, can actually strengthen bones and joints.  

So, if your stress level is high, try running.   You can start slow, even walking, and eventually increase your speed and distance.  For help getting started, there are numerous on line resources and Runner's World Magazine is great reading and one of the best investments you can make. As the saying goes "the only run you regret is the one you didn't do".  I hope to see you on the road.

David Chitester       

Technology is Cheap


Entrepreneurs always need to be as productive as possible.  Productivity, however, is not measured in hours worked; productivity is measured in work done per hour.  Accordingly, using the best technology available is a key factor in leveraging your time and being more productive.  And guess what?  Technology is cheap.

Time for a New Computer

I recently bought a new computer.  My old computer was acting up, slowing down, and, with an older version of Windows, just not able to keep pace with recent software and Internet developments.  I considered upgrading the memory and operating system but a colleague suggested just buying a new computer. So, I did an Internet search and in one hour decided what I needed, where to get it, and what it would cost.  I went directly to Staples and bought a Dell Inspiron 620 with an Intel i5-2310 CPU at 2.90 GHz, with 8.0 GIG of RAM and the Windows 7 operating system.   Total cost, before tax?  $595




                 
                     Dell Computer $595                   Concrete Bench $695


And a Concrete Bench

Thrilled with my find, brand new computer in hand, I walked in the door at home to show my wife, Kathleen.  She said, "That's less expensive than our new bench".   What?  Well, we had just purchased a solid concrete bench for the yard.  Price of the bench?  $695.  Well it looks nice but it just sits there and doesn't even connect to the Internet or run QuickBooks.

And so, yes, technology is cheap, at least in this case, cheaper than concrete.  So don't shortchange yourself and try to save a few bucks when it has a negative impact on your productivity.  Use the best technology available to meet your needs and you just may be able to get the same amount of work done in a couple less hours.  After all, your time is priceless.

David D. Chitester

Perils of Going Paperless

I am a big fan of a paperless office.  As I have written in this blog before, Pay Per Visit Email is pretty much a paperless company and I highly recommend it.  Some of the advantages include:

  • Cost Effective - Little to no cost for copiers, file cabilnets, folders, paper, etc.
  • Efficient - No lost time rummaging through file cabilnets trying to find where you or someone else filed something.
  • Environmentally Friendly - Saves environmental resources such as trees, chemicals, energy, etc.
As with any new concept, however, there can be drawbacks and issues that had not been anticipated.  If you don't plan it all out, you can get caught.  I know, it happened to me.


                 




We use Quickbooks and back everything up on an external hard drive which is then backed up to the cloud every night and all of our banking is done online.  In 18 months, there had never been a problem, until now.  My mistake was not thinking far enough ahead.  I had opened a new primary checking account at Chase and closed our Bank of America checking account (for a number of reasons that are not important here).  What I did not realize is that our accountant had not entered the bank information into Quickbooks for the previous two months.  When I closed the account, online access was terminated immediately and we had no paper copies of two months of transactions.  In hindsight, I should have downloaded all of the checking account information before closing the account and losing online access.  

Well, fortunately, it turned out to be not so bad. I emailed Bank of America to explain the problem and they said they would send copies of all of the statements for the whole year at no cost.  It delayed closing out Quickbooks for the year by a couple weeks but, other than that, we escaped without any significant impact to operations.  

It just goes to show that entrepreneurs need to constantly think about the potential impact any of our actions may have, especially when pioneering new concepts.  

David Chitester  

Merry Christmas Monessen


Like many entrepreneurs, I grew up in a small town where you learn the meaning of hard work and responsibility.  As the saying goes, you learn your lesson in Monessen. 

Monessen, Pennsylvania, is a small steel town on the Monongahela River, south of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1898, it grew quickly as early entrepreneurs and industrialists recognized the industrial value of its location with access by both rail and water.  Soon, a number of mills were built along the river, including those by the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company, the Monessen Foundry, the Page Woven Wire and Fence Company, and the Pittsburgh Steel Company.  

When I grew up in Monessen, mostly everyone's dad worked in the local mills.  Moms generally stayed at home and took care of the house and kids. If they did work, it was at shops and stores downtown like Thrift Drug, or in the office of a family owned business like Frank's Garage, the Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in town. 




 
                                               Mills Booming in Monessen



Christmas was the most special time of the year in Monessen.  Right after Thanksgiving, the city would string up Christmas lights on the telephone poles downtown from one side of the street to the other, and traffic would pass underneath.  The merchants would all decorate their shops with lights and G.C. Murphy, or the five and ten as we called it, would display the latest toys, like Kenner's Give-a-Show Projector and the Marx Rock-em Sock-em Robots in their windows. People would bundle up and walk the streets, shopping, and putting things on lay-away to be paid for and picked up before Christmas.

Then there was the annual Christmas parade.  High school bands would march down Donner Avenue, playing Christmas songs, as the mayor and other officials waved to the crowds that lined the street.  And finally, at the end of the parade was Santa Claus, riding high on a shiny firetruck operated by the Monessen Volunteer Fire Department. Christmas season had arrived.





           Old Monessen Municipal Building and Volunteer Fire Department


Well, hard times have since hit the city.  The mill was shut down in 1986 and most downtown stores have closed.  My generation has largely moved on.  Classmates live in Danville, California, Ashburn, Virginia, and St. Petersburg, Florida.  The Thrift Drug and G.C. Murphy closed years ago and Frank's Garage doesn't sell new cars anymore.  But, the memories remain.  Every year as I watch the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade on television and Santa appears, I get a tear in my eye, as I remember Christmas in Monessen.

Merry Christmas Monessen.  Merry Christmas Everyone.

Dave Chitester
          

Are the 1% Greedy or Ambitious?

Since the Occupy Wall Street protests started, there has been much talk about the greed of the 1%, some even calling it a crime.  But is it really greed, or just ambition?  What is the difference?

Defining Greed

The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) defines greed as "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed".  It also gives an example: "He was a ruthless businessman motivated by naked ambition and greed".  So are greed and ambition the same?  Is the reference to money relevant?  The same dictionary, however, defines ambition as "an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power" and gives an example: "He lacked ambition and couldn't compete with the others".  No mention of money.  So ambition is needed to compete, but if it results in more money "than is needed" then it is greed.  Right?

Who Are the 1%

So are the 1% greedy or ambitious?  Well let's look at who the 1% really are.  The New York Post recently reported that 80% of the millionaires in the U.S. are first generation; they made their money themselves and did not inherit it.  This group is composed of the following professions:

  • 33% - Entrepreneurs and business professionals
  • 16% - Doctors
  • 14% - Financial professionals and bankers
  •   8% - Lawyers
  •   7% - Science and computer professionals
  •   2% - Professional athletes and artistic performers
All have obviously become very successful financially.  Does that make them greedy?



     

                 Doctors                                                      Athletes                                          Business Professionals


How about the pro athletes?  They definitely have the ambition to compete.  If they lose the ambition, they likely won't make the team and their career can be over.  They do the best they can and, as a result, if they are successful, they are highly paid.  Are they greedy?

The same can be said about entrepreneurs and other business professionals.  They need the ambition to compete or they could be out of business.  In the process, if they are successful, they can make a good deal of money.  Does that make them greedy?

In fact, all of the professions mentioned above, yes even the financial pros and bankers, have an ambition to be the best.  They would not be where they are without it.  At what point do you say to them "stop doing the best you can and be like everyone else?"    Each of them was given specials skills and abilities, whether in business, the arts, science, or sports.  Each is using those God-given gifts to be successful.  What if they didn't try to be the best they could, and had no ambition to succeed?  Now that would be a crime.

David Chitester
 

Why Do Successful Entrepreneurs Eventually Fail?

You've heard the story time and time again.  Maybe you have even experienced it yourself.  A successful entrepreneur has it all going right.  He or she has a great start up, the company is making money, hiring, expanding, and growing.  Maybe it is their first company, maybe the second or third.   Almost invariably, something goes wrong.  The business tanks, it closes, maybe the entrepreneur even files for bankruptcy.  Why does this happen so often? 
 
There are, of course, a lot of theories as to why a successful person often ends up failing such as:

  • They got complacent and took things for granted.  They thought they got through the hard part and now it would be easy going forward.
  • They were lucky, even more than once, but now their luck ran out and their true business management skills were not sufficient to survive.
  • The law of averages took over; no one can be successful all the time, so failure was only a matter of time.

Gay Hendricks doesn't believe any of this, however.  In The Big Leap, the bestselling author insists it is something else, something he calls the Upper Limit Problem.  Basically, the Upper Limit Problem is a negative emotional reaction that occurs after anything positive happens to us. It not only prevents happiness, but actually stops us from achieving our goals.


                                                                       



The Stanford psychology Ph.D., who has coached more than 800 executives, says he has "never met a person yet who didn't suffer at least a little bit from it".  And, even if you are incredibly successful, the Upper Limit Problem is still holding you back from achieving your full potential.

In The Big Leap, Dr. Hendricks describes the four hidden barriers that are at the root of the problem.  He then discusses how to spot the problem in everyday life and break through any limitation to move from a Zone of Excellence, to our Zone of Genius.  The book is also filled with stories of extraordinary achievers in business and the arts, as well as Dr. Hendricks' own personal stories of entrepreneurial failure and success.

The Big Leap is an easy and enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in having things go well in your life all the time.  If you think that doesn't sound possible, take it from Dr. Hendricks when he says "I've proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is.  The only relevant question is whether you will let it be possible for you.  If you would be willing to accept that possibility, you're on the way to experiencing real magic in your life".  

David Chitester             
  

Going Paperless

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the "paperless" office.  With the widespread use of computers, the Internet, and now cloud computing, is it really finally possible to go paperless?  Well probably not totally, but you can get pretty darn close.  My goal with Pay Per Visit Email was to go as paperless as possible.  We incorporated in early 2010 and launched in April, 2011, and so far, so good.  The only paper in the office is signed contracts; everything else is electronic.  Here is how we are doing it:


                           
                                              Before                                                                           After


  • Banking - We have never written out a paper check.  In fact, we never even ordered any.  All payments are made electronically through our bank.  They use ACH or generate a check to pay our vendors.  We use credit cards extensively and pay off the balance once per month with a simple online transfer.
  • Development - We use Jira Studio by Atlassian to control our email application development. Our CEO (me), project manager, operations manager, and development team all have access to the system.   Any one can comment at any time on any of the issues or tasks that have been created by our project manager.  This online collaboration is asynchronous and can take place 24/7.
  • Document Management - Our computers are linked to one external hard drive with standard folders created.  Electronic documents are saved in the appropriate folder and hard copies that need to be saved are scanned and filed as well.  The external hard drive is backed up to the cloud every night.
  • Communication - Email is our primary method of communication.  We use a corporate Gmail account and Microsoft Outlook.  We file all email in relevant folders for future access.  Those emails that we do not need to save are deleted and the deleted folder is reviewed monthly to permanently delete email more than 3 or 4 months old.
  • Accounting - We use Quickbooks for accounting.  Bank statements are downloaded and reconciled, then saved on the external hard drive.  Same for credit cards.  All information is input into Quickbooks and a back up file created.  The back up file is saved to the external hard drive and backed up every night to the cloud.

Some of you will undoubtedly see this paperless concept as a risk.  What if something happens to my data?  What if we lose power?  How can we possibly have no file cabinets anywhere? I think most entrepreneurs, however, will recognize the opportunity of going paperless and adapt. You may have to start gradually and move into it at a steady pace.  Give it a shot, you really have nothing to lose except the paper.  

David Chitester 

What is a Staycation?

Entrepreneurs often work too hard and insist they don't have time for a vacation.  Everyone needs time off, however, just to get a mental break a relax a bit.  If you don't think you can justify the planning, packing, and travelling involved for a traditional vacation, why not try a staycation.  It is just what it sounds like, a vacation while staying at home.  The rules are simple: you do no work, do something different every day away from home, but return to your home at night.  No hotels, packing and unpacking, flight delays, etc.  



                                                     Mazzaro's Coffee Bar


My wife, Kathleen, and I recently completed a 10 day staycation and it was incredible.  We made a list of things we have never done around the Tampa Bay area and planned to do as many as we could.  A partial list (with links attached) of the events, places, and restaurants we visited includes:

  • Rick's on the River - A beachlike hangout on the Hillsborough River about a mile north of downtown Tampa.  We has clams and drinks, listened to live music, and watched the boats go by.
  • The Refinery - We had dinner at the only restaurant in Florida recently nominated for the James Beard Award.
  • Cinebistro - Took in a movie at Cinebistro in Hyde Park where waiters and waitresses take your order at your seat and deliver appetizers, dinner, and drinks before the movie.  You can go out to the bar during the movie to refresh.
  • Jannus Live - Saw Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams from the VIP level of historic Jannus Landing in downtown St. Pete.
  • Tarpon Springs - Rode our bikes 24 miles on the Pinellas Trail from Dunedin to Tarpon Springs for lunch of steamed clams, oysters, crab, and shrimp.
  • Dali - Spent an afternoon at the new Salvadore Dali Museum in St. Pete (this was the only rainy day of the staycation).
  • Black Pearl - Hired a driver to take us to downtown Dunedin, drinks at The Living Room, dinner at The Black Pearl, after dinner drinks at the Chick-A-Boom room.  Good thing we had a driver.
  • Pane Rustica - Dinner at the restaurant ranked #2 in the Tampa Bay/Sarasota area by Zagat.  They give you free loaves of bread if there are any left over at the end of the night (there always are).
  • Caddy's - Bar hopped up Gulf Drive from Caddy's to Bubba Gump's, to the Tiki Bar, to The Pub and ended with a fantastic seafood dinner at the legenary Salt Rock Grill.
  • Skipper's Smokehouse - Saw 3 live bands, headlined by Have Gun, Will Travel from Bradenton who were celebrating the release of their new CD that night.
  • The Fox - Had after dinner drinks at the famous Tampa nightclub and listened to live music, everything from Black Eyed Peas, to Barry White.
  • Mazzaro Italian Market - Had the best Italian sub I ever had at  the coffee bar of this one of a kind Italian market in St. Pete.  Bought some cheeses and goodies as well.
All in all, it was one of the best vacations we ever had. So if you don't want to take a trip but still think you need some time off, try a staycation.  You never know what you may be missing right at home. 

David Chitester 

Do You Need A Board of Trusted Advisors?

Entreprenuers are, by nature, independent and self-starting individuals.  It is inevitable, however, that there are times in every organization when the advice of outside professionals is required.  In these cases, most companies will hire consultants or form a board of directors to tap into a knowledge base not available internally.  Another option, however, is to join an organization of CEOs from non-competing companies, such as Vistage


                                                                                                



Vistage brings together executives from a diverse range of businesses and backgrounds to coach and advise each other to drive better decisions and achieve better results.  I have been a member of Group 2060 in Tampa for nearly 12 years.  Randy Greene, our chair, has been leading us for more than 6 of those years and 5 of us CEOs have been together for more than 10 years.  We meet for a full day each month, with June reserved for a regional meeting and November for a retreat away from home.  Additionally, each member has a 2 hour one-on-one meeting with Randy every month.  This program allows us to get to know each other and each others' businesses extremely well and, as a result, provide each other with open and honest feedback and advice. 



  


In our monthly executive sessions, each member has the opportunity to present issues and opportunities that are confronting or affecting their business.  Feedback and advice is frank, open, and timely and follow up is mandatory.  Additionally, in January, we prepare our yearly goals, both professional and personal, for presentation and comment by our fellow members. We also bring in nationally known speakers to address our group for half a day 4 or 5 times per year.  The quality and take home value of these presentations is far beyond anything I have seen from any other professional group I have ever joined. 
 
If you are an entrepreneur looking for professional advice as you grow your business, I highly recommend that you look into Vistage.  You may well find that it is more effective, economical, and fun than the alternatives.  

Dave Chitester   





  

How Valuable is Your Health?

Most small businesses, especially start ups, are highly dependent upon the drive and efforts of its founder.  It is therefore, especially important for these entrepreneurs to maintain a healthy lifestyle and remain in good physical shape.  Annual check ups are a good idea.  However, after age 50, more is needed; I am talking about an executive health and fitness program.  These programs are expensive and little is covered by insurance, but they are well worth the cost.

There are physicians and facilities throughout the country that specialize in executive health programs.  In the Tampa Bay area, I go to Dr. Stephen Masley.    Dr. Masley is a board certified family medicine physician, a certified nutrition specialist with the American College of Nutrition, an award-winning patient educator, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida.  His practice, the Masley Optimal Health Center, is located in the Carillon Center in St. Petersburg.


                                


Dr. Masley customizes your tests to meet your needs and you are typically his only patient of the day.  My program ran from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon and the tests included:

  • Physical exam
  • Extensive blood tests, including cholesterol, liver, thyroid, mercury, metabolic, and PSA
  • Treadmill stress test
  • EKG
  • DEXA bone density
  • Carotid IMT
  • Pulmonary function
  • Cognitive test
  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Oral cancer screen
  • Hearing
  • Vision
Additionally, I spent time with Dr. Masley to analyze my eating habits and nutrition as well as an hour in the gym to perform strength tests with Matt, the personal trainer they have on staff.  Then, at the end of the day, you sit down with Dr. Masley to go over the results.  Within a week, they send you binder with all the details of the tests and their recommendations as well as a USB thumb drive that can be loaded into any electronic medical records software system.  
 
If you are over age 50 and running your own business, I highly recommend an executive health program.  Your health as well as the health of your company is at stake.  

Start a Company to Solve a Problem

Serial entrepreneurs are constantly trying to recognize opportunities and determine how they might capitalize on a perceived need or void in the marketplace.  Often, implementing a solution for one company generates an idea for a completely new company.  Such was the case when I started Pay Per Visit Email.  

   
                           
  
            
When I started Questamente, our flagship website, AmigosChat, quickly registered more than 700,000 unique users.  We had collected the email address for each of them and I had planned to send out mass emails announcing new features on the site and inviting the registered users to come back on a regular basis.  That is where the problems began.

Email Service Providers (ESPs)

I quickly realized that I would need a professional email company to handle mailings of this magnitude.  My experience was as follows:

  • The first company we tried was reliable but the cost was 1.2 cents per email sent.  Do the math! That is $8,400 to send one email to my database. I was planning one per week.  This was certainly cost prohibitive.
  • The second email company said it would cost "about $200 per month" to send an "unlimited" number of emails.  I reminded the rep that we had a database of 700,000 email addresses.  He said he would have to check to see what the pricing would be for that quantity.  He never called back.
  • The third company quoted $375 per month to send up to 500,000 emails.  Seemed pretty reasonable until they said I could only send 3,000 a day to "purge" my mailing list.  At that rate, it would take almost a year to send the first email to my whole database!
Somehow I needed to find a different solution.

Enter Pay Per Visit Email

After researching the market for almost a year, I decided to go ahead and launch my own email company.  In order to differentiate it from all the others, I decided to create the first pay per click email company where users pay for clicks to their website, not for every email sent.  We launched in April and signed up our first client the next day. (No, it wasn't Questamente)

Are you looking for ideas to start a new company?  Well, as Dorothy said in The Wizard of OZ, "Sometimes you don't have to look any further than your own backyard".

David Chitester
  

 

3 Books on Social Media Marketing

Are you using social media to market your company?  Well, it is not a fad; you need to get on board. The way we communicate has changed forever.  Here are 3 books that can help you understand and implement social media marketing in your firm:


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The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

This is by far the best book I have read on social media marketing.  Published in 2011, it is as up to date as it gets, and even uses Microsoft Tag technology for electronic gateways to supplemental material and examples of items discussed in the text.  The authors present seven shifts in a business culture that they say has changed more in the past 3 years than in the prior 30. An eye-opening chapter entitled "Answer the New Telephone" talks about how organizations can win by listening to the Internet.

Social Boom! by Jeffrey Gitomer

Gitomer has put together a very interesting and entertaining book, enthusiastically endorsing Social Media Marketing full of bold text, large fonts, and calls to action.  He even says "This is not a book.... This is a step by step, insight by insight guide, that looks at the four main social media platforms in a new way."  It is full of down to earth, practical advice on using Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube to develop a total business social media game plan. My favorite quote is "Business social media is the new cold call". 

Marketing 2.0 by Bernie Borges

Borges starts with a different, almost philosophical approach on the topic of social media marketing.  For example, in an early chapter entitled "Technology and Social Drivers of Web 2.0 Applications" he discusses the technology enablers that made social media applications possible.  He also talks about the importance of personal branding and the lifecycle of interaction in social media marketing, and includes chapters on its risks and benefits.  He offers practical advice as well and covers blogging, social networking, microblogging, podcasting, and videos and photos. 
 
There are already a number of books published on social media marketing and more show up every day.  If you start with these 3, however, you will be well on your way to competing in a business world where everything is immediate and accessability 24/7 is demanded, 

David Chitester    

Have You Considered Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a broad term for delivery of hosted computer services over the Internet.  It has been getting a lot of press lately as companies try to reduce expenses while maintaining productivity and service.  Pay Per Visit Email implemented cloud computing from its inception and as they say, so far, so good.

Pay Per Visit Email Experience

There are three distinct types of cloud computing:
  1. Infastructure as a service
  2. Platform as a service
  3. Software as a service
When I started Pay Per Visit Email, one goal was to minimize both start up and operating cost.  Therefore, I investigated the possibility of utilizing cloud computing to host the website and email application.  This could save the cost of buying or long term leasing servers, in other words, infastructure as a service.  Based upon a number of factors that were relevant to us, I decided to go with Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The results have been impressive.
  
             
Cost

I anticipated building our original email application to send up to one million emails per day. The proposals I received to lease the servers required to meet my need were from $10,000 to $15,000 per month.  I asked my developer to estimate the monthly cost using AWS and they said it should be less than $2,000 per month. So far, in our first 4 months, our highest bill from AWS has been $895.  Granted, we have not yet been sending a million emails per day, but the additional costs to do that will be minimal.  Needless to say, the cost savings have been staggering.

Reliability

So far, our website and application has been down once.  My developer called and asked if I had paid the bill because the site was not accessible.  My ops manager and I immediately went into panic mode and tried to resolve the problem.  In 10 minutes, however, everything was back to normal.  Another benefit of cloud computing is the availability of continuous backup at no extra charge.  If a server issue develops, AWS automatically implements the backup without the need to get your IT department or consultant involved. 
 
Needless to say, we have been please with AWS at Pay Per Visit Email.   What is your experience with cloud computing?  I would be interested in your stories, both good and bad.

David Chitester
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Entrepreneurs Need Role Models for Inspiration

As an entrepreneur, you are constantly busy and continually experiencing the highs and lows of starting and running a business.  To keep you going when things are tough, I think it often helps to have a motivator or role model to look up to for inspiration.  One of the best I have ever met is Pat Williams, Co-founder and General Manager of the Orlando Magic.  

Talk About Accomplishments! 

There are a lot of motivational speakers on the circuit with impressive resumes.  It would be hard, however, for anyone to top Pat.  Consider:
  • Pat has been the General Manager of the Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, and Orlando Magic.
  • 23 of his teams have made the NBA playoffs.
  • He and his wife Ruth have raised 19 kids, 14 of whom were adopted from four countries.
  • He has run 54 marathons.
  • He has written 71 books.


                          

Pat Williams

I had the pleasure of hearing Pat speak a couple months ago at a Vistage regional meeting in Clearwater, Florida.  It was the second time I attended one of his talks and told my colleagues to be prepared for a real treat.  Pat did not disappoint.  He spoke of the essential qualities of a leader and provided his views, gleaned from more than 700 books he had read on the topic.  I introduced myself during a break and told him I thought he was the best speaker I had ever heard.  His reply?  "Thanks for the encouragement".  Humility is one of the leadership traits he talked about and, as you can tell, he walks the walk.

What does the future hold?

Early this year, Pat was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma.  Although there is no cure, Pat's doctor says there is a 70 to 75% chance it could go into remission with modern treatment methods.  Always the optimist, Pat said "I've always felt that there was another chapter in my life,  ... there's a role that the Lord has for me in this area of cancer research, perhaps".  That's the Pat Williams life story.  Always looking for ways to help others. 

David Chitester

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