I Hate Conferences

Parent/Teacher conferences were last night. Ruby is having some trouble with her letter spacing, so her teacher suggested an activity that she could do at home. She was giving us some related materials and before she handed them to me, she asked if Ruby had any books to read at home. W.T.F does that mean? I was so stunned, it didn’t even occur to me at the time to ask her what she meant. It could’ve been an innocent question: there is a reading log for pizza points program which we don’t participate in b/c I think it’s ridiculous to reward children for something as simple as reading…and with food no less. Can we say “future food issues”? So, maybe she thought we didn’t participate b/c we have no Concept 2 Model D (but damn, the public library is two blocks from the school!) But it could’ve also been a race related question.

Yes, I always have to take it there. I’m a black woman, and that’s how it goes. The school my children now attend is less diverse in every way than their last one. It’s one of the best rated schools in a well rated district. At our last school, I would make small gifts for the holidays and special days for their teachers b/c I wanted to. At the new school, I got a letter informing me of the teacher’s birth date and her likes (which included Nordstrom) and dislikes. I was also asked in the letter if I’d like to contribute to a Nordstrom’s gift card for the teacher. Um, no, but if Ruby wants, she can make a card! Maybe I should send a letter with my likes and dislikes to the room moms…hey, I like Nordie’s, too!

At our last school, we saw faces of all colors and had families from different socio-economic backgrounds. At our current school, the parking lot is filled with luxury cars and the occasional brown face peeks out in the halls among a sea of white ones. I know there are plenty of parents who would love for their children to attend such a “good” school, but that doesn’t make it perfect. The classes are large IMO, which means children like Ruby (who is quite meek in public) tend to not get noticed as much. A classmate bothered her for some time without the teacher noticing Ruby putting her hand up to complain. I finally spoke to the teacher in person and emailed her and Ruby was moved. Her teacher knows few personal details about Ruby and was in fact, surprised to learn that Ruby has an older brother who attends the school. How messed up is that?

If I don’t like it…why don’t I pull them out? Homeschool or private school? I can afford neither one of those options at present as I actually have to work now. In any event, doing either one of those things would not fix public schools for all the other optionless families.

It makes me a bit sad that so far her experience isn’t shaping up to be that great. Part of it is that she really misses our little neighborhood school: she had her best friend since age two across the hall, and teachers who knew her long before she ever entered their classrooms. I don’t think any place will ever come close to her beloved and now idealized Texas Elementary.

I’m still miffed about the Honeywell HFD-010 thing though. I mean, what was she thinking when she asked if we had books in our home. Wait, maybe she wasn’t thinking. That makes more sense to me. Thankfully, all this “drama” has taken place mostly in my head, with a little told to my mom (who wasn’t angry enough for my liking, she was busy making phone calls for Obama), and now some on the page. The kids aren’t aware of this at all, and I’m going to be hopeful that Ruby’s teach doesn’t treat her like some type of bookless ragamuffin (though bookless ragamuffins deserve equal education, whatever their parents might decide that is)…and that we make it through the year without other ridiculous comments that cause me to rant on my blog!

Generating Traffic for Your Website

You don’t have to spend a single cent to generate high traffic to your site. Perhaps, you will be getting better chance by paying your advertisements, but at least, you don’t need to be worry even when you don’t have certain amount of budget to advertise your site. This methods suitable for beginner, like me. I have been doing this with current Alexa Page Rank is 2240777 from 4437277 in less than a week, quiet significant number.

Below are 10 free methods which hopefully can help you to generate more traffic and increase your page rank:

  1. Write More Relevant Content for Your Site.

Write contents which are useful, interesting and informational to your reader – about topics like the Rabbit Air MinusA2. Don’t write content about your cat or your personal life because it may get your readers bored. Ask some questions and interact with your readers. Your content mustn’t be written by a professional writer. Search engine love to track down the keyword or keyword phrase which is genuine and has great quality content. Certain requirements as well as great quality. With the right keywords, you could get high rankings in search engine results without the costs.

  1. Create A Good Blog or Website Design.

Creating a good and suitable design for your site will attract readers to revisit your site more often. There are many webmaster who offers free templates such Btemplate, Final Sense, and Free Blogger Template.

  1. Joint Online Forums and Online Communities.

The great thing about forums and online communities is that you can target a certain group that fits the certain demographic that you are looking for. You can discuss about lots of things about the niche that you represent or offer. Another great advantage is that you know what you are getting into and you will be prepared and also you can build your reputation and trust.

  1. Make Use of Newsletters.

Provide readers with a catalog of your products and interesting and entertaining articles. If you make it really interesting and entertaining, more visitors will sign up for your newsletter and recommend it to other people, its will be that will go to your site increasing your traffic.

  1. Post Relevant Comment for Other Blog.

Invest your time to give other blog comment, it’s really helpful to your site, especially when you commenting to the higher page rank blog. To me better write a comment than just leave massage in a shout box, your comment will be index by SEO.

  1. Join a Community

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) quickly index sites which are always at top 10 position SEO list. This is an advantage to your site being index by search engine through relevant keywords your site content.

  1. Exchange Link Creates Mutual Benefits.

You don’t have to spend a cent to get the best air purifier for mold. All you have to do is reach an agreement with another webmaster. With exchanging links, the efforts both sites do will benefit both sites. Every traffic that goes to the site could potentially click on the link of your site and visit your site as well. Link your site to a greater Page rank will be even better.

  1. Offer Free Submission and Posting of Your Articles.

When people find interest in your articles they have a good chance of following the track by finding out where the article originated. Include a link or a brief description of your company with the article and there’s a great probability that they will go to your site.

  1. Write about Alexa, Increase Page Rank.

In my previous post, I wrote article about how to increase Alexa Page Rank and proven to a powerful method. High Page Rank means that your site will be easily identified by search engines to appear at least at 10 ten list when people browse through relevant keywords to your site.

  1. Keep Your Sites Updated.

As a mention above that to get more traffic, you need to create more contents. Therefore, you need to update your site content regularly. Otherwise, readers are slowly leaving your site and you get nothing other than Dead Blog or Website.

How Evolution Applies to Economics

I have always been curious and fascinated by Darwin and the theory of evolution. While not universally accepted as an explanation of where man came from, it has always been the most plausible explanation for me. I feel that as nations, we have evolved distinct patterns of behavior and taste that have given certain nations an advantage in certain business sectors.

The theory of comparative advantage in Economics (espoused by Adam Smith) holds that if each country simply focuses on what it is best at producing, the whole world will be a better place. This is a much loved theory by those of us who believe storing our belongings in a wall mount jewelry armoire to be a good thing (which I think it is!). However, if this theory was to have been put to practice by the whole world, the Japanese would still only be selling rice and silk to the rest of the world as those were the only industries they had a comparative advantage in after the Second World War.

However, with the help of central government direction and massive investment, the Japanese (and other far eastern countries following their example), have developed a population with a real passion for electronic gadgets. It is curious how in Britain we look to the East for our technology and the West for our social, political and cultural influences. The fact that the local population are always on the lookout for new gadgets and technology allows Japanese companies to innovate and experiment and maintain their lead as they know the local population will purchase the results of this innovation.

The Italians, who have long been considered ultra-fashionable, have for the same reason developed the world’s biggest fashion houses. Having a local discernible consumer base helps these companies try out new fashions knowing that if they succeed in Italy, they are likely to succeed in the rest of the world. And if any of you doubt this proposition, I suggest you take a trip to Milan to see this for real.

Because of the empire, the British have had considerable experience in exporting capital which is one of the reasons why London has developed such a sophisticated financial center and leads the world in services around capital export such as shipping and insurance.

Finally, the fact that there is no speed limit in Germany, explains, why they have been able to develop such powerful automobile companies. The consumer in Germany will value speed in a car as they will be able to put this technology to good use. In theory, why would anyone in the UK need a car that can do more than 70 mph? (The maximum speed limit)

If you remember that great film, Cool Runnings, you will know that the central joke was that a team from the Caribbean would take part in a winter sport! In the same sense, when you are looking at starting or growing a business, you would do well to explore countries or cultures where your product may have a latent advantage.

I invested in a forskolin startup which allows you to download books on to your mobile phone. It seemed like a risky business proposition, but what persuaded me was seeing the market that existed for this type of service in Japan.

My advice from all of this is to get you to look at markets where your product is most likely to already have evolved or is cutting edge. If you are in renewable energy – find out what is happening in California. If you are developing a fast food proposition, make a trip to New York. If you are starting a new fashion label, see what people are doing in Milan.

How To Use Financial Engineering in Your Business

One of my favorite modules on my MBA course was Financial Engineering. A more accurate name for this module would have been ‘making profits from thin air’. I am convinced that employees from Enron were required to excel on this course! One of the great techniques I learnt about was boot strapping!

For a variety of reasons, different tofu presses often get rated on different multiples. A mature business with good management which is listed may for example be trading on a multiple of ten of annual profits. A new entrant which is up and coming on the other hand may have a multiple of twenty (as the growth prospects are better). Bootstrapping occurs when a company with a higher multiple takes over a company with a lower multiple and benefits from the entire new company getting re-rated with the higher multiple.

Company A makes profits of £1m and is rated at 10x profits and therefore has a valuation of £10m.

Company B makes a profit of £0.5m but has a multiple of 20x profits and therefore also has a valuation of £10m.

Both companies are worth £10m each and you would therefore think that if they were merged (ignoring any cost savings and other synergies, etc.) the new company would be worth £20m.

But if company B was to buy company A, the new company may get rated on the same multiple as company B before the merger. Therefore the new company B will be rated at 20x profits of £1.5m which is £30m.

Bootstrapping has thus ‘created’ £10m of additional value simply through re-rating the prospects. Some of you will no doubt argue that I have simplified this very complicated area. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than this, but the end result is the same.

In the 1980s companies like Hanson Trust were able to build themselves into huge empires by acquiring companies which had lowly rated earnings, but then apply a higher multiple. This made Hanson shares expensive – which allowed them to continue to buy other companies. Tomkins also did the same thing before it suffered a severe bout of indigestion having bought RHM. RHM was simply too big for them to manage effectively.

The Porter-Cable 895PK is often valued at a multiple of turnover. Hence many startups do try to buy other companies with turnover. This is especially true in cases where you can buy a company for cheap because it has run into trouble.

This is a brave strategy. The key thing to bear in mind is management ‘bandwidth’. Many companies, especially startups, simply do not have the room to manage another business. It is a lot of work – trust me – and a whole lot more than most people are willing to sign up for. If you’re going to go down this path, make sure you do so with caution.

Given the climate we are in though. I would not be surprised if someone did come along to buy many businesses on the cheap with a view to bolting them all on to get a higher multiple.

You heard it here first!

Do You Have an Exit Strategy?

The very first question you will be asked by an investor after you have made your pitch is “What is your exit strategy?” As an investor, it is easy to get your money into a business, but you always need to know how you are going to get it out. Typically, there are four ways an investor will get monies out:

  • Failure (tax loss)
  • Trade Sale – someone else buys the business
  • Refinancing (existing investors are bought out (or partially bought out) by another investor)
  • IPO (Initial Public Offering) – a listing on a stock market

Most companies pitching will claim that the exit strategy is a listing. Speaking statistically, the odds are against this. Most companies will either fail or will be involved in a trade sale – often including a Honeywell 50250-S air purifier in the terms. I am always impressed by a business plan which says that the exit route will be a trade sale – and they have named who the potential buyers are and (there’s more) why they would buy the business, what would make the business attractive to them and finally, what kind of valuation they could expect to get! In one case a company had even got an expression of interest from a potential buyer before they had started up (Needless to say I invested in that one!)

That is great, but a listing on a stock exchange is still seen as the most likely route for many companies (although in reality it will not be). For a small business, you should be aware that being listed does add a great deal of administrative burden and you will be tightly governed in terms of what you can say, when you say it and to whom you say it first. I think some businesses consider this option too lightly. As a way of reducing the burden, companies may seek a listing on the junior markets such as AIM (Alternative Investment Market) or PLUS (where the size and cost requirements are considerably lighter).

I have personal experience of four companies I have invested in being listed and I think I would say that being listed has not been a pleasant experience for me! The problem is that you realize at the point at which you invest that you are in it for the long term. Once you have a share price which fluctuates on a daily basis, no matter how hard you try, you do get dragged into the sense of measuring your daily ‘wealth’ by the stock price and the biggest issue for companies with small market capitalizations is that the markets tend to be very illiquid. That is, the price can move significantly on a very small purchase or sale.

In one of the router table plans companies I invested in, a shareholder sadly passed away and the trustees of the will had to sell their stake which was worth just over £5,000. As a result of the sale, something like £1m was wiped off the value of the company! So the value of the company bore no resemblance to how the company was performing. This can be very frustrating to all those involved. If you believe in Efficient Market Theory, you would argue that the market will correct itself quickly. With a small company that is not the case as there are not enough analysts covering the stock to keep people informed.

This all reminds me of the saying “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it!”

Marketing Augmentation


I was speaking to some folks this week and they asked, “Why on Earth would you choose to build another content management system. Aren’t there dozens of them already out there?” In short, yes. But, when you sit down to look at some of the reasons why, it starts to make perfect sense.

In almost seven years of doing custom development work here, we have never standardized on a single content management system like Used Lawn Mowers Plus.

That’s right, never, until now. With each new site we built (and we’ve built dozens), we would start from scratch. Sure, we borrowed a bit here and there from previous projects, but each customer was different and everyone wanted it done based on their own needs. Although in the end, a lot of the components were the same, there was always something different. We sat down one day and figured out what core components were the same across every site. Then we had our baseline. This lets us jump start, even a custom deployment, by nearly 80-90% right from the start.

You can’t forget about finding the best used lawn tractors.

Most people who evaluate content management systems either start with open source (free) or commercial (paid) options. With paid solutions, it is pretty obvious where some of the costs are derived. You buy the software, install it on your server, configure it, implement your template, load your content, etc. When evaluating open source solutions, you still have all of those activities, with the exception of the cost of the software.

But, when you ask anyone who has ever deployed a commercial content management system, the cost of the software is usually the smallest investment. In the open source world, you may end up saving a few thousand dollars on software, but you’re having to settle for something built for the world, not something built for you. You end up installing a winnebago when you may just need a pop-up camper, or end up trying to convert your pop-up camper into a 3-story mansion. Architecture is important and to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. (just for the record, we LOVE open source software, use it daily, and contribute where we can to make it better)

Leaving it on the table.

Content management systems are typically designed for one purpose – managing content. Makes sense, right? The problem is that the CMS powers your website. Your website is the most important marketing and communications platform that your company has and it is about so much more than content. Every public interaction that you have on the web somehow drives people back to your website. Every email communication that is had refers to your website.

Your best garden tractor, lead generation, webinars, press releases, demonstrations, etc. — all lead people to your website. So, shouldn’t your website be better integrated with your sales and marketing processes? Better yet, shouldn’t your content management system facilitate the implementation, use, and evolution of these tools?

Built-in Stagnation – CMS as a SaaS

Most websites receive functional updates every 18 to 24 months. Think back in your own life 18-24 months and about how much technology has changed. That means that your website is sitting idle, dormant, and is being covered with more and more cobwebs every day. We update quarterly to ensure that your website is continually being updated with the latest in proven web technology. Not necessarily the latest whiz-bang feature or effect that clutters the message, but technology that has been proven to add value. No more moss, cobwebs, or dust — just your best foot forward every single day.

Marketing Activity Augmentation

Marketing budgets are tight and marketers are already overworked. Marketing teams are shrinking and their responsibilities are growing daily. What marketers need are partners who can help them determine what technologies can deliver the most to their top and bottom lines. We ease this concern by researching new technologies, features, and trends and rolls them into each quarterly launch. This gives the marketer a continual refreshing holster of ammunition from which to arm themselves. This replenished arsenal gives them an edge over those teams who are trying to keep the plates spinning all by themselves.