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Make your Mom-and-Pop business globally accessible in this mobile era


SmallBusinessToday’s buyers are finding new ways to shop and make purchases. With help of the Internet and various mobile devices, today’s consumers can shop wherever they want.They are surfing with small screens, using mobile apps, and taking charge of the e-commerce experience more than ever before. Thus, in this blog post I am going to provide you with few simple tips on how to make your business more accessible in this mobile era.

List your business online: In order to make your business searchable in this Google era, you need to list your business where mobile shoppers hang out. Even if you have a small website for your business, make sure you’re on the local directory of Google Places, Bing Business, and Yahoo Local Business. You should also make sure that your business is listed on the review site such as Yelp. List your products on venues like eBay Local Shopping. People love to look up reviews on their mobile devices, so make sure you’re there.

Make your site mobile accessible: In order to attract today’s mobile generation, you need to make sure that your website or online store is compatible with the mobile devices. If you are not one of those big companies, who can afford to have their own IT staff to make/update their mobile site, then you can get your own mobile site by signing up with a third party hosting services, such as Mobify. While selecting this third party service providers, make sure to check for its performance and ease of use. It should be easy for your shoppers to tap the the “Buy Now” button, and buy your product quickly.

Make your business social: If you are one of those Mom-and-Pop store, who can’t afford to have multiple employees working on your social media strategy, then its ok. You can still create a Facebook fan page for your business, and have a Twitter and a LinkedIn page for your business. Being a small business, you might not have dedicated time to publicize these social media profiles everywhere. Thus, you should take the advantage of your existing clientele by providing them incentives to like your Facebook page or follow your profile on Twitter. This approach will definitely make your business more searchable in the social media search on these new mobile devices.

Do you have any other ideas through which you can make your local business more searchable in this mobile era? I would love to hear your ideas (if any).

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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How to sell your online MBA degree to future employers?


OnlineMBAHave you finished your MBA through an online program? Are you unable to experience any benefits from your degree? Well…..you are not alone. More than 50% of the employers still prefer an MBA candidate with the traditional classroom experience as compared to an online MBA student. Despite of this stereo types of an online MBA candidate, you can still succeed with your degree. You just need to know, how to sell it. With this blog, I am going to provide you with some pointers through which you can get the same benefit out of your online MBA program as compared to any other in-class MBA program.

Capitalize on cultural awareness:

If you are doing an online MBA from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 level school, then chances are…….you must be working in a diverse team with people from different countries. You should use this experience as your strength during your job search. Mention those specific projects on your resume to portray your knowledge of cross cultural understanding. With most of the major companies going global, this experience will definitely work in your advantage, if presented correctly.

I would also recommend you to provide some specific examples on your resume on how you had solved some of the cross cultural conflicts. These kinds of smaller examples can help you bring up this topic during your in-person interviews. And you can then elaborate on that in further details. It goes without saying…..try to connect your experience with the company’s current needs of working with cross cultural teams.

Be the leader of your virtual teams:

If you think of it, all the project teams in an online MBA program are nothing but a virtual team. In your program, you must have worked with different people from different time zones to finish certain projects. And hence, you should also capitalize on your experience in working with remote/virtual teams. Don’t just say…..”I have worked in a virtual team”. Try to be more specific on your resume. Provide examples on how you resolved issues due to time and language barriers during your project. It wouldn’t hurt, if you can talk about those experiences in your in-person interviews, and maybe summarize with lessons learned during your experience.

In today’s world, lot of companies operate in different locations. Thus, most of their meetings, projects and day-to-day activities are virtual. Thus, if you can prove that you have not only worked in that environment, but you have also learned how to improve those communications in that environment; then you would definitely standout from the crowd.

I hope these tips will help to sell your online MBA degree to your future employer. Do you have any other ideas through which you can show the importance of your online MBA degree to your future employer?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 

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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you not have in your online Resume?


ResumeIn my last blog post, I have provided you with some tips to create your online portfolio, but I forgot to discuss what you shouldn’t put in your online portfolio. While you want to maximize the reach of your online portfolio by putting as much information as you can to find new opportunities, there are few things that you should not put there. Following are my recommendations…….

Don’t include personal information: This goes without saying….. Never put your personal information on your website (or Blog). For example: Your age, birth date, etc. Actually, I would also recommend you to remove your birthdate from your social profile as well. There are various online data mining sites, which can collect your information from different public websites and gather all information at one place. Thus, putting key personal information out from your portfolio is a wise decision.

Don’t put private information: Let’s say, you have a PDF format of your performance reviews from your past employers, and you did a really good job there, and now you want to show that to the world. Please do yourself a favor, and DON’T DO THAT. Of course, you can carry your past performance reviews with you during your interview to strengthen your case, but it’s a really bad idea to put it for everyone to see. I would also not put any personal conversation that you had done with your Manager over the internet. Let’s say, you have many documented e-mails to prove that you did a really good job at your work, please keep a hard copy of those documents and show it during your personal interview, but don’t make it publically available.

Don’t put your company related work: Most of you must be working at some company, and most of your work must be related to the company that you worked for. You might want to include these artifacts in your online portfolio to strengthen your future employment chances, but please don’t do that right away. Please ask your employer/management, if it is ok to upload these documents online or not. Sometimes, you might be unknowingly violating any copyrights by making those documents public. So, make sure to ask your HR Department, before you make any document public. Let’s say, if all of your work is related to your company, and still you want to show that to the world, you can do that too. Edit that work, and make it as generalized as possible, and then run by HR to see if you can upload that to your website now. Once you get your employer’s approval, there is no harm in putting those artifacts on your portfolio.

Don’t put confusing documents: If you have any project documentation that you have worked on, and you want to include that in your online portfolio, then don’t do it right away. Any portfolio item that needs context and explanation to be understood is not likely to be a very powerful document in a Web-based portfolio. You can insert little text boxes that attempt to explain the relevance of the documents, and you can even try using voice-overs to explain how the documents demonstrate your important points, but it’s not the same as being there yourself and responding to questions that the viewer might have. Thus, leave out those specific documents that must be explained to communicate the message effectively.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while controlling what goes online and what doesn’t. If you have any other ideas through which a person can control his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you have in your online Resume?


ResumeThose days are gone when we used to pass our business cards to someone, and they would keep them in their contact list. In the world of Outlook and e-mails, it is required to have your online portfolio. Some people won’t feel comfortable putting themselves out in the public, but those people will be at a disadvantage in their job search due to the competition. Thus, I would recommend everyone to have their online portfolio. And following are few tips to create it…….

Use free services: When I recommended my friend to create his online portfolio, he told me that it’s a waste of money. Well…… You don’t have to spend any money on your online portfolio at all. You can use various free services like Windows Blog, Google Blogs, WordPress, etc. These free services will let you create your blog for no cost, and then you can add different pages to your blogs. For example: A page to demonstrate your work experience, a page to demonstrate your references, and a page to provide a way for other people to contact you.

Include your contact details: Most of the people will refrain of putting their personal information out on web, while other people don’t have any issues with that. If you are one of those people, who don’t feel comfortable sharing your personal information on your website (or blog), then you can create a form for someone to contact you or create an another e-mail account through free services of Gmail or Yahoo, and put that e-mail address as your contact information. In this way, your personal information won’t be compromised and your contacts have a way to reach you.

Include your work experience: If you are looking for a job, then this added page is a must in your portfolio. This page can basically act as your resume, which can be searched online. Make sure to be as detailed as possible. Unlike your resume, which should be of certain size, you can provide as much information as you want on this page. So, why not make the best use out of it? Let’s say that on an airplane or at a social function you happen to strike up a conversation with someone for whom you might like to work. To get this person more interested in you, rather than just give her a business card and probably never get a call, you could also give her a Web site address for your portfolio. And with this ‘work experience’ page on your website, they can get more information about your experience before talking to you the next time.

Include your references: Let’s say, you are a contractor/consultant then this page becomes very critical for your portfolio. Of course, you need to take permission from your references to put their name on your website as your reference, but it is worth it. Imagine, if you were called for an interview and the person interviewing you asks for your references. In that situation, you can just point him to your online portfolio and lead him to think that you are some kind of a genius who came well prepared. If you have already few recommendations on your LinkedIn then you can either copy paste those there or provide a link for people on your ‘reference’ page to go to your LinkedIn account.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while protecting your privacy. If you have any other ideas through which a person can enhance his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What can small businesses learn from sellers on Craigslist?


CraigslistIf you have ever used craigslist for buying or selling your items, then you know what I mean. Now, let’s assume…. if you want to sell your 1 year old car on craigslist.org.  What would you do in that situation? You might go to a local dealer or kbb.com, and try to find out reasonable price for which you can sell your car. You might want to sell your car for a premium price, if you have detailed records of all the older services and maintenance.
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Put snapshot of some artifacts: Most of the times, people put pictures to sell their items on craigslist, in order for a buyer to believe in their product. In similar way, as a small business owner, you need to put some kind of a snapshot of the company in your business plan, when you try to sell your business. Make sure to include graphical representation of company’s financial health, company’s culture, major achievements, etc. One can also use pictures of big dealings and snapshots of company’s events as a showcase for their achievements.
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Be ready to bargain: 9/10 times, people expect to bargain on any given offer on craigslist. If you have ever sold anything on craigslist then you know that people will call you up and they want to meet you before buying the item. And when they meet, they basically bargain for the product. It even comes to the point where they barter. So, if you were not ready with your bargain offer and your priorities, you might lose the trade. Thus, as a small business owner, when you want to sell your business….please be ready to bargain. If possible, be ready with few scenarios of offers and counter offers.

Craigslist ad expires after certain time: In the similar manner, you should have a date on your offer. Everyone knows that you want to sell your company, and that’s why you are out in the market. But if your offer doesn’t have an expiry date then it might create issues if your business appreciates over time.

I hope these tips will help you to sell your business for a competitive price. Let me know, if you have any other ideas to sell your business effectively. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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3 simple ways to make your business like Apple, Inc.


Recently, I was called upon for a consulting opportunity in one small business. Their major problem was to acquire new customers. Due to recession, they were getting less businesses from their existing customers. And that’s why they were very entusiastic in acquiring new customers to survive. This business problem kept me thinking about today’s businesses. For first few days, I didn’t have any answer. I was asking myself, how can you make a good customer base? how can you create demand? how can you establish a recession proof business? And I looked at my iPhone and realized that there are few companies (Apple), which are creating huge demands for their products even in this economic crisis. 

Those days are gone when we used to manufacture a product and hope that someone will buy it. If businesses wants to be successful in the 21st Century then they need to have customer centric business approach. The key to your business future is – how can you create an extraordinary customer experience for people? What can you do to delight your customers, so that they will decided to do business with you again? Well, I am not a business creation expert by any means, but here are three simple ways to create a business like Apple.

Make your employees love your company: Great companies are always built by great employees. The key to an extraordinary customer experience is to make sure that the people in your company, who don’t want to be there go somewhere else. You only want employees who wants to work in your company, instead of people who just wants to cash their paycheck on every week. If you can create an employee base like this then they will focus on doing something that they like, and you can focus on your customers. Wouldn’t you want your customers to hear that – your company is a great place to work?

Quality is more than you think: The bookish definition of quality is – your product or service conforms the customer’s standards and requirements. But I would define quality as customer experience and more. We should always deliver a product/service which not only meets customer’s standards but exceed them. I am not saying that you should over build your product, but make sure to act as a user of that product when its ready. Ask yourself a question – will you buy your product if you were a customer? If you ask me, Apple had done a really good job of maintaining its quality. And that might be the major reason for creating a loyal customer base.

Make everything work for your customer: I really love to visit Apple retail store. And I am always amazed by seeing the crowd in the store. The key is in their service. They have revolutionized the retail computer industry by providing on-site training classes, amazing customer service, and friendly environment. Their sales people will always help you in  integrating your new Apple product with your other products, so they actually work together as one package. What a concept! Customers today are more impatient than ever. Thus, any business that offers to serve its customers faster immediately becomes the preferred supplier, even at a higher price. So, make everything work for your customers, and you can also create a business like Apple.

I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2010 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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