Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

This Site has Moved to SonOfFiveRivers.com

Click Here to Vist NEW Site: www.SonOfFiveRivers.com

I’ve been blogging for several months now and I’m glad to have recieved the feedback I have.  I’ve enjoyed the experince and for that reason I’ve decided to take blogging to another level.  I’ll be self hosting my blog and that means you’ll see a lot more creativity in the design, functionality and layout of the new blog.

Check it out: www.SONofFIVErivers.com

Cheers

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | 1, A Thought, Ads, Agriculture, Art, Blogging, Books, Brochure, Business, Business Cards, Business Development, Business Model, Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Co-op, Community Economic Development (CED), Computer Networking, Construction, Creativity, Data Recovery, Definitions, Earth, Economics, Education, Electric Cars, Email, Entrepreneurship, Family, Finance, Geothermal, Government, Grants, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, Human Resources, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Investment, LEED, Life, Marketing, Micro Credit, Not for Profit, Open Source, Packaging, PDA's, Philanthropy, Photography, Politics, Power Piont, Products, Project Management, Quotes, Sales, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Services, Social Enterprise, Social Media, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development, Taxes, Venture Capital, Videos, War, Waste, Water, Website | Leave a comment

Selling to Governments (Reasons of Failure)

I’m subscribed to Canada Export a newsletter released by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, in it I came across the below article and thought it could be beneficial to those businesses trying to win government contract bids.  I had previously hosted a seminar around selling to the government which included presenters who were purchasers and buyers all the way from SAP to the Provincial Government. It covered some of the in’s and out’s of the bid process and I think this  article touches briefly on some of the issues businesses face.

………………….

An OOPS! sign

Too often, entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars trying to win U.S. government contracts with no results. According to one expert, the reasons for failure come down to three common mistakes. Avoid them, she says, and increase your chances of success.

1. Entrepreneurs set unrealistic expectations.

“There is a myth out there that to win a government contract, all you have to do is follow the instructions,” says Judy Bradt, a former trade commissioner who is now Principal and CEO of Summit Insight, a firm that has guided over 5,000 clients to over $200 million in U.S. government contracts.
“Thousands of business owners have discovered that when they follow the instructions on websites like FedBizOpps [the U.S. federal government site that publishes opportunities], diligently hunt down bid notices and pump out proposals, the process does not usually reward their hard work” says Bradt. “They get frustrated by failures, especially when the contracts always seem wired for somebody else. Success takes a lot more than just writing proposals.”

The fix:

Companies that consistently win contracts research those opportunities a long time before competitions begin. They take the time to build relationships with buyers, influencers and partners. They adapt products or services for government buyers, and collaborate with those buyers to develop the specifications that will be published. They create targeted marketing campaigns and tactics to attract these new buyers, says Bradt.

This also applies if you’re a supplier or subcontractor to a bigger company that holds the prime contract with the government. Be sure that investment of time and money fits your risk threshold as well as your plans to grow your company.

Before your next proposal, understand every part of the government business development cycle that your competitors had to master to win their contracts. Decide if you’re ready for that investment. If so, then approach government contracts as a long-haul effort with your eyes wide open and your team ready to learn what winners have already figured out.

2. Businesses pursue opportunities on a shoestring budget.

“If your business is struggling, going after government contracts can hurt more than it helps,” says Bradt. Cash-flow horizons are longer in the public sector than in the private sector, both to develop business and to get paid for your work. Typically, government buyers are risk-averse and cautious about trying new vendors and ideas.

Runaway success in the first year is rare, says Bradt. Expect to spend 18 to 24 months investing money and time to develop relationships, find opportunities and partners, and prepare proposals before you turn a consistent profit. “Many managers rightly decide that it takes too much time and risk to develop a new market. And, unlike in the private sector, most government contracts don’t pay you up front. Unless you negotiate progress payments, you need enough funds to survive until after you do the work, invoice and get paid. That big contract can put you out of business.”

The fix:

First, explore alternate forms of financing. Your current line of credit is often not enough to pursue the contract, win it and finish the project. Even healthy companies are shocked to find that their bankers do not simply extend that line to finance a signed government contract. Asset-based financing is your cheapest money, but takes time to arrange. Alternative financing (aka “last-minute money”) is always more expensive and will evaporate your profits.

Bradt recommends that entrepreneurs forge a closer relationship with their banker. “If you’ve decided to pursue government contracts, and have revised your marketing budget to support that pursuit, review your access to working capital and financing. Then visit your banker to find out about financing options before you launch your campaign.”

3. Resist the temptation to use shotgun tactics.

“Too often, entrepreneurs go to FedBizOpps and pump out proposals for anything that appears relevant,” she says. The result is that most of their efforts are just as scattered and not much reaches the target. “If you go after everything, you might win something but most of your resources will be wasted and nobody has that kind of time and money to spare.”

The fix:

Focus. “When you want to win government contracts, you have to research and focus tightly to win,” says Bradt. Otherwise, you’ll go broke trying, she says. Savvy companies scope out the competition and possible partners in order to position themselves to win the projects that really fit them long before they put serious resources into pursuing those opportunities.

Free websites offer extraordinary amounts of federal contract market intelligence. Look into USAspending.gov, Central Contractor Registration, GSA Advantage, and Schedule Sales Query. These are all good sources if you’re testing the waters and not ready for a big investment yet.

Looking ahead

U.S. federal contract spending in 2009 topped a record $550 billion. And Bradt expects 2010 to look much the same. “The U.S. government has set a goal of spending 70% of the stimulus money by fall of 2010. Twelve months out, almost 47% had been allocated for specific purposes. Of that, only 16% has been spent. That means there’s a very stimulating year ahead—if you’re developing opportunities long before the competition begins.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in the United States.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Great Ideas, Investment, Marketing, Sales, Services | , , , | Leave a comment

A Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

So I cam across this book about 4-5 years ago and it just captivated me.   Sikhs and Jews have a lot in common and this story tells a tall tale.   Click on the Video Link to know what I mean.

The Book: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

Product Details

Author: Aaron Lansky

The Website: http://yiddishbookcenter.org/

Video: http://yiddishbookcenter.org/vid/ABridgeofBooks.html

So why I am I curious about Yeddish Books?

My Dad and I have been talking about these particular issues for about 5 years and finally I took a baby step and spent part of my new years eve volunteering with an amazing and inspiring group of people from my book club.   We spent time showing youth and the sikh community at large a new website that was launched to perserve Sikh litrature and history.  The project is called the Panjab Digital Library (http://www.panjabdigilib.org).

This particular demo was held at a sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Surrey,  I decided to bow out of my volunteer obligations a little early as I wanted to spend the new year  with my family who were at Gurdwara closer to home.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Blogging, Creativity, Great Ideas, Sustainable Community Development | , , , | Leave a comment

How to Insert a Vimeo Video into WordPress

Visit Vimeo and find a video you would like to insert. Copy the URL or video ID from your web browser’s address bar while viewing the video.

Insert the shortcode into a new post or page using one of the following formats. Make sure to replace the URL or ID with the one you are using.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/240975%5D

or

[vimeo 240975]

The default width and height of the embeded video is 400×300.

Additionally you can specify the width and height, ex:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/240975 w=500&h=400]

January 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogging, Information Technology (I.T.), Social Media | | Leave a comment

Google Strikes Back at Rupert Murdoch!

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, strikes back at Rupert Murdoch in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (which is owned by Rupert Murdock by the way). Before we get to the good stuff I’ll quickly explain who Rupert Murdoch is for those who don’t know.  He owns lots of media outlets (Newspapers, Magazines, Radio Stations, TV Networks, Cable & Internet Companies etc.) He is the founder, a major shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation (News Corp).  He’s been in the news lately because he wants to ban Google from searching his sites and has been trying to make an agreement with Bing (Microsoft).  I don’t think he should be able to control the message people can and cannot hear.  I think and I hope he loses big on this!

With dwindling revenue and diminished resources, frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame. Much of their anger is currently directed at Google, whom many executives view as getting all the benefit from the business relationship without giving much in return. The facts, I believe, suggest otherwise.

Google is a great source of promotion. We send online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web Search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loyal readers and generate revenue—for free. In terms of copyright, another bone of contention, we only show a headline and a couple of lines from each story. If readers want to read on they have to click through to the newspaper’s Web site. (The exception are stories we host through a licensing agreement with news services.) And if they wish, publishers can remove their content from our search index, or from Google News.

here’s even better stuff:

It’s understandable to look to find someone else to blame. But as Rupert Murdoch has said, it is complacency caused by past monopolies, not technology, that has been the real threat to the news industry.

Kudos to the WSJ for running the piece—assuming some editor didn’t lose his or her job for doing this. I just can’t wait to watch Google and News Corp go at it.

December 4, 2009 Posted by | Ads, Blogging, Business, Business Development, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Government, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Marketing, Politics, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, Sustainable Community Development, War, Website | | Leave a comment

10 Questions Businesses Should Never Stop Asking

Here are the 10 questions businesses should have asked when starting and they are the very questions that any business owner should continue to ask, year in and year out:

 

What is our purpose for existing?

Who is our target customer? and why?

Why does anyone need what we’re selling?

If there is a need, is it enough to support a profitable business?

What are our competitors up to?

Can you reduce expenses–without harming the product?

Do the company have the right leadership?

Do we have the right employees?

How will we continue to drive revenue?

How are your employees holding up?

Please add any suggestions:

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Business Model, Human Resources, Marketing | | Leave a comment

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is a concept in green economics and welfare economics that has been suggested to replace gross domestic product (GDP) as a metric of economic growth.

GPI is an attempt to measure whether a country’s growth, increased production of goods, and expanding services have actually resulted in the improvement of the welfare (or well-being) of the people in the country. GPI advocates claim that it can more reliably measure economic progress, as it distinguishes between worthwhile growth and uneconomic growth.

The GDP vs the GPI is analogous to the difference between the gross profit of a company and the net profit; the Net Profit is the Gross Profit minus the costs incurred. Accordingly, the GPI will be zero if the financial costs of crime and pollution equal the financial gains in production of goods and services, all other factors being constan

Most economists assess the progress in welfare of the people by comparing the gross domestic product over time, that is, by adding up the annual dollar value of all goods and services produced within a country over successive years. However, GDP was never intended to be used for such purpose. It is prone to productivism or consumerism, over-valuing production and consumption of goods, and not reflecting improvement in human well-being.

Simon Kuznets, the inventor of the concept of the GDP, notes in his very first report to the US Congress in 1934:

…the welfare of a nation [can] scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income…

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Business Development, Economics, Finance | , | Leave a comment

I Can’t believe this is a WordPress site!

I found these sites on http://wordpress.org/showcase/ (the WordPress Showcase)

http://www.modelinia.com/ < Amazing, not because of the woman, but the source code is actually WordPress!

http://www.rwm.com.au/ < I thought this was good use of a WordPress site for a Real Estate application.

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Creativity | Leave a comment

Best Blogging Tips (How to Increase Traffic)

I’m going to be sitting with a good friend of mine this weekend about starting a blog.  In preparation I thought I would take a minute and do a little extra homework for our conversation.   I thought I would share some of my finding below, as I think they are fantastic resource for blog development.

56 Tips on Blogging

by: Seth Godin

  1. Use lists.
  2. Be topical… write posts that need to be read right now.
  3. Learn enough to become the expert in your field.
  4. Break news.
  5. Be timeless… write posts that will be readable in a year.
  6. Be among the first with a great blog on your topic, then encourage others to blog on the same topic.
  7. Share your expertise generously so people recognize it and depend on you.
  8. Announce news.
  9. Write short, pithy posts.
  10. Encourage your readers to help you manipulate the technorati top blog list.
  11. Don’t write about your cat, your boyfriend or your kids.
  12. Write long, definitive posts.
  13. Write about your kids.
  14. Be snarky. Write nearly libelous things about fellow bloggers, daring them to respond (with links back to you) on their blog.
  15. Be sycophantic. Share linklove and expect some back.
  16. Include polls, meters and other eye candy.
  17. Tag your posts. Use del.ico.us.
  18. Coin a term or two.
  19. Do email interviews with the well-known.
  20. Answer your email.
  21. Use photos. Salacious ones are best.
  22. Be anonymous.
  23. Encourage your readers to digg your posts. (and to use furl and reddit).Do it with every post.
  24. Post your photos on flickr.
  25. Encourage your readers to subscribe by RSS.
  26. Start at the beginning and take your readers through a months-long education.
  27. Include comments so your blog becomes a virtual water cooler that feeds itself.
  28. Assume that every day is the beginning, because you always have new readers.
  29. Highlight your best posts on your Squidoo lens.
  30. Point to useful but little-known resources.
  31. Write about stuff that appeals to the majority of current blog readers–like gadgets and web 2.0.
  32. Write about Google.
  33. Have relevant ads that are even better than your content.
  34. Don’t include comments, people will cross post their responses.
  35. Write posts that each include dozens of trackbacks to dozens of blog posts so that people will notice you.
  36. Run no ads.
  37. Keep tweaking your template to make it include every conceivable bell or whistle.
  38. Write about blogging.
  39. Digest the good ideas of other people, all day, every day.
  40. Invent a whole new kind of art or interaction.
  41. Post on weekdays, because there are more readers.
  42. Write about a never-ending parade of different topics so you don’t bore your readers.
  43. Post on weekends, because there are fewer new posts.
  44. Don’t interrupt your writing with a lot of links.
  45. Dress your blog (fonts and design) as well as you would dress yourself for a meeting with a stranger.
  46. Edit yourself. Ruthlessly.
  47. Don’t promote yourself and your business or your books or your projects at the expense of the reader’s attention.
  48. Be patient.
  49. Give credit to those that inspired, it makes your writing more useful.
  50. Ping technorati. Or have someone smarter than me tell you how to do it automatically.
  51. Write about only one thing, in ever-deepening detail, so you become definitive.
  52. Write in English.
  53. Better, write in Chinese.
  54. Write about obscure stuff that appeals to an obsessed minority.
  55. Don’t be boring.
  56. Write stuff that people want to read and share.

Blog Project: 30 Traffic Generation Tips

by Daniel Scocco

1. Sridhar Katakam
Keep track of blogs and leave comments on them. A good way to keep the conversation going is to install a MyBlogLog widget and visit the blog of people visiting your site.

2. Ian Delaney
Nothing creates long-term traffic more than value. Consider writing posts with resources or explaining how things work. Useful things get linked to and they get onto del.icio.us, which is far better long-term than a digg front page.

3. Scott Townsend
Inform search engines and aggregators like Technorati (using the ping functionality) when your blog is updated, this should ensure maximum traffic coming from those sources. (check the List of Ping Services)

4. Kyle
Simplify. Pay attention to complex issues in your field of work. It may be a big long publication that is hard to wade through or a concept that is hard to grasp. Reference it and make a shorter “for dummies” version with your own lessons learned and relevant tips. When doing this, I have been surprised to find that the simplified post will appear before the more complex version in search results. Perhaps this is why it results in increased traffic; people looking for more help or clarification on the subject will land on your blog.

5. Grant Gerver
Try to be polemic. I write obsessively about all-things political from the left-wing perspective in the form of humorous, sarcastic one-liners.

6. Daniel
A simple tip that will probably boost your page views: install a translator plugin. I decided to use a paid plugin for this, but if I am not wrong there are some free ones as well. The translation is not very good, as you can imagine, but it helps to attract readers that are not fluent in English.

7. Rory
Submit articles to blog carnivals (http://blogcarnival.com) that are related to your niche. Your article almost always gets posted, and it must generate a handful of visitors, at least.

8. Ramen Junkie
Newsgroups. I always see a spike when I post a review to a newsgroup.

9. Eric Atkins
Create a new design for your website. Not only will it be more attractive to your regular readers, but you can submit it to some CSS gallery showcase sites that feature great designs. This will give you exposure on those sites while generating a lot of traffic and backlinks from those types of sites.

10. Megan Taylor
Participate in conversations on related blogs. Start conversations on your own blog. Don’t just post about a story and leave it at that, engage your audience, ask questions and call to action.

11. Guido
Comment on blogs, write useful content and make good friends on forums.

12. Brian Auer
You must be active to generate traffic. I post comments on other blogs that are related to mine, and I post my site link in my signature at the forums. Spread the word about your blog and it will certainly attract readers.

13. Shankar Ganesh
Just browse around MyBlogLog.com and you will surely get visitors to your blog. Also try to join as many communities as possible that are related to your topic.

14. Andrew Timberlake
A great tip for generating traffic is off-line by including your url in all your off-line liturature from business cards, letterheads, pamphlets, adverts through in-store signage if applicable. I even have our website on my vehicle.

15. Cory OBrien
Read lots of other blogs. Leave trackbacks. Make sure your blog is optimized for search engines. Leverage social bookmarking sites like digg (both for new ideas and for traffic).

16. Jester
Leave comments on other blogs. If you’re already reading them, it takes
just a couple of seconds to leave a message agreeing or disagreeing
with the author, you get to leave a link to your site, and you will almost
ALWAYS get traffic from your comments.

17. Goerge Manty
Post 3-5 times a day. Use ping services like pingomatic or set up wordpress to ping some of the ping services. Engage your readers. Put up polls, ask them questions, give them quizes, free tools, etc. Make them want to come back and tell their friends about you.

18. Engtech
Community. It’s one word but it is the most important one when it comes to blogging. The only “blog metric” that makes sense is the vibrant community of readers it has. Building a community around your blog will bring you increased traffic, but how do you start? The boilerplate response to building traffic is always “SEO, social networking sites, and commenting on blogs” but it can be simplified to “be part of a community”. The easiest way to seed your blog is with an already existing community. But the only way to do that is to be part of the community yourself.

19. Chris
Squidoo Lenses are a good way to generate traffic. By using a lense,
you can generate your own custom “community” of webpages, including some
of the more popular pages in your “neighborhood.” Including your own
webpage in such a list is a good way of generating traffic.

20. Splork
I’ve had good success writing articles and submitting them to EzineArticles. Articles that have been written from well-researched keyword phrases and accepted by EzineArticles tend to rank very high in Google for that search term. Placing anchor text in the footer of those articles so the reader can visit my relevant website has always increased my site traffic.

21. Jen Gordon
I came upon some unexpected traffic when my blog popped up on some css design portals like http://www.cssmania.com and http://www.webcreme.com. If you can put some time into the concept behind and design for your blog, I’d recommend submitting your site to a design portal not only for
additional traffic but to build an additional community around your site.

22. Kat
I’ve recently gotten involved with several “MySpace-like” community sites that focus on my target audience. I share my thoughts in their forums, post intros to my real blog on their system blog and I’ve even created a group for my specific niche. It’s been very, very successful for me.

23. Inspirationbit
Well, obviously everyone knows that social bookmarking sites like Digg, del.icio.us, etc. bring lots of traffic. But I’m now submitting some of my articles to blogg-buzz.com (a digg like site for bloggers), and I always get not a bad traffic from there.

24. Mark Alves
Participate in Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn Answers where you can demonstrate your expertise, get associated with relevant keywords and put your URL out there.

25. Tillerman
Be the first to write a post about the ‘Top Ten Blogs’ in your niche. The post will rank highly in any general search for blogs in your niche and other bloggers in your niche write about the post and link to it.

26. Nick
Participating in forums is a great way to get loyal readers. Either link baiting people in your signature or posting great advice and tips will give you high quality traffic, which will result in return visitors.

27. Brandon Wood
A simple trick I’ve used to increase traffic to my blog is participate in group writing projects. In fact, that’s what I’m doing right now.

28. Alan Thomas
Don’t forget your archives. I just posted a roundup of all interviews I did over the past seven months. One of them generated a new link and a big traffic spike from a group of users that look like they will be loyal readers now.

29. KWiz
Write something controversial. I don’t think it’s good to write something controversial just for the purpose of getting traffic necessarily (especially if it’s only for that purpose and you’re being disingenuous), but it works.

30. Dennis Coughlin
Find the best blogs on your niche and contact the authors. Introduce yourself and send a link of your blog. This might help them to discover your blog, read it and possibly link to it.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Blogging | , , | 2 Comments

How to writing a Mission Statement that Works

Mission statements to me are like greeting cards from my lawyer who just signs his name underneath the generic message.  It seems like an unneeded formality where no real thought or meaning was put behind it.  Mission Statements just come across more as great vision statements rather than actually being mission driven. This crazy language is stamped all over the place, from business plans to brochures and websites.  If it’s any consolation to people in the private sector, I’ve spent the last three years working for a non-profit organization (NGO) doing economic revitalization and I’ve noticed that NGO’s might just be the biggest culprits of bad Mission Statements.  Most seem cheesy and sometimes just plain difficult to really comprehend.

It’s always difficult for me to think of bright intelligent people come up with such dry material.  Have a look and compare the following 4 examples directly below and then compare it to the other examples further down to get gist of what I’m getting at.

Two are from real organizations and two are made up from the comic site Dilbert.com

  1. “It is our job to continually foster world-class infrastructures as well as to quickly create principle-centered sources to meet our customer’s needs.”
  2. “Our challenge is to assertively network economically sound methods of empowerment so that we may continually negotiate performance-based infrastructures.”
  3. “To improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities.”
  4. “Respect, integrity, communication, and excellence.”

Numbers 1 & 2 are from the Dilbert website. Numbers 3 is the mission statement of the NGO the United Way, and number 4 believe it or not used to belong to the beloved Enron.

Now have a look at the phrase “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) which is a very interesting theory form the book Built to Last.

BHAG: “Clear and compelling it serves as a unifying focal point of effort, often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal …. A BHAG should not be a sure bet… but the organization must believe ‘we can do it anyway.”

Now check these so out:

Microsoft:  “A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software.” The guys don’t want to just sell computer software, they wants their software on every computer, in every home.  (I run Ubuntu an open source operating system based on a Linux platform so it’ll never really happen…  we all know someone with a Mac computer as well.  But its a nice goal for Microsoft to set as it easily and simply defines the standards and objectives for everyone in the organization)


BHAG’s can be used for products as well, like Amazons Kindle: “Every book ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds.” Amazon not only wants you help you buy any book, it wants to help you do it in less than a minute.

Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information” That’s as big as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal can get!

Google’s unofficial one is to “do no evil.” That’s just cool!

Even if you’re a grass routes organization starting out of someones living room, its important to have “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (BHAG).  It helps everyone know your groups direction and purpose.  As the strategic planners and thinkers you have the important duty of laying a solid foundation for the future of the organization and guiding principles for any new faces joining the team.

Son of Five Rivers.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Great Ideas | , | Leave a comment