AcceleratorU webinar on intellectual property; discount code

Finally someone helps make sense of Intellectual Property!

Join the webinar July 30 or Aug 7.

AcceleratorU launches its Webinar series on IP, with “Demystifying Intellectual Property, An Essential, Actionable Introduction”.

Register at http://bit.ly/115ylPx 

Use code catasoi25 for 25% off

(Almost New Year) resolution

Talked to Ian G. today at Joey de Villa‘s birthday (Joey, thanks again for the great party!). Ian recommended this book titled Get Clients Now!
 It’s a 28-days actionable marketing program for professionals, consultants and coaches. So Ian and I decided to have something like a contest – each of us will follow the book and blog about it, and, of course we will exchange our impressions and basically help each other stay on the bandwagon. I have just ordered the book from the Toronto public library. I write here about it as an additional motivation. Shame on me if I don’t do the entire program! In this case, any of you may say that I don’t really fulfill my promises! 

P.S. Ian G. recommended this excellent one hour podcast (targeted at Rails consultants but broadly applicable) talking about Get Clients Now! and some other good books about consulting business development.
http://rubyfreelancers.com/the-ruby-freelancers-show-035-book-picks/

Pan Am Toronto 2015 – information for would-be vendors

Learn more about business opportunities with the Pan Am Toronto 2015 games at http://www.toronto2015.org/. $300 million will be spent on suppliers ranging from cleaning, uniforms, food and furnishings, etc. There are opportunities for suppliers
Involvement resulting in a greater impact in the games. Learn how to apply for procurement opportunities at http://bit.ly/qGBk53.

How to have a business website for (almost) free

A friend of mine asked today how people who start a business get a website for that. I decided that it might interest other people too, hence this post.

You do the following:

1. Decide on a domain name. It must be short, sweet, easily recognizable and easy to remember. It must attract customers and be informative. For example, my website for tax credit consulting business has the domain name sred4you.com (SR&ED is one of the main technology-related tax credit programs in Canada). Another of my business sites is getyourmessageacross.com. Don’t call your website “mynews.com”, because no one is interested in your news. Call it “yournews.com”. It should be about your customer, not your own good self.
There are other considerations. A .com domain is more expensive but looks better. If you want a .ca domain, you will have to register with CIRA (it is free and very easy, you basically just need to confirm that you live or do business in Canada). .org domains are good for non-profit organizations. If your business is related to IT, you can get an .it domain which is cheaper than .com and you don’t have to live in Italy to register it.
2. Go to a website that sells domains (I went to godaddy.com but people tell me there are better ones) and check whether your domain name is already taken. It probably is – pretty much all the one-word domains already are. In this case you can either invent another domain name or try to buy your original one from whoever got there first. Some people buy domain names or even all the possible 4-letter acronyms hoping that one of these will be in high demand (like, for example, MSDN or AIDS) and they will make a profit. Your second-level domain name (this is the ABCD part in ABCD.com) may be available with another first-level domain, e.g. ABCD.org instead of ABCD.com. Sometimes, if your domain name is not available, the registrar site will offer you variations, like precisionABCD.com instead of ABCD.com. Don’t go for  that. Everybody knows this trick, and someone with the precisionXXXX.com domain name will appear a) cheap, b) lazy, c) devoid of imagination, and d) prone to choose the least resistance path. That is, unless your business really deals with precision machinery or something. What you can do is search the available domain names for your keywords right there on the registrar’s site: if you are going to be in patent research business, for example, you may search for “patent” and find out that “fastpatentsearch.com” or “thebestpatent.com” are not taken and can be yours.

3. Pay for the domain name. It will cost you somewhere between 10 and 20 dollars per year. While you are paying, the registrar site will probably offer you to buy their hosting (for just $20 a month) and their services for website development (just another $15-20 per month). Don’t do that. In a minute I am going to tell you how you can have free hosting and develop your site for free which will save you about $600 per year.

3a. Never ever be late with the annual payment for your domain name. Once you fail to pay, the name is up for grabs, even if it is your own brand name or something. Anyone can buy it and will have no obligations to return it. This happened to Microsoft when it forgot to renew hotmail.co.uk (I am not kidding!)

4. Go to a blogging platform (either blogger.com or wordpress.com) and start a blog. The URL for it will be something like mynewblog.blogspot (or wordpress, or whatever).com. Add a few pages and a few articles (the difference is that a page is pretty much like a page on any other site, while new articles are added from the top to one and the same page which looks like a blog we are all used to see). Honestly, it is not difficult at all. Anyone can blog. Now play with various “skins”/appearances. There are lots and lots of them available for free. You can select a serious theme or a frilly one, dark blue or magenta colour schema, a two-columns or three-columns layout, a header to which you can add any image you like, etc. The “blog” page is by default the main page of your site (yes, you almost have a site now!)  but if you like you can make another, stationary, page the main one.

5. Now go to your blog’s settings and set up redirection of your blog name to your domain name (johnsmith.blogspot.com must redirect to yourchosendomainname.com or whatever your newly bought domain name is). Blogspot allows you to do that for free, WordPress will charge a small amount of money per annum. Both of my sites, sred4you.com and getyourmessageacross.com, are on Blogspot. When setting up the redirection, if you are on Blogspot too, don’t forget to check the “add www in front of the URL” flag, otherwise the URL would not redirect to your website. (I.e. http://www.sred4you.com would work, but just sred4you.com would not.)

6. Wait a little (up to 24 hours) until all the domain name servers on the Internet get wind of your new domain name. Now you can type http://www.yourpreciousdomain.com in the browser address line and actually get to your website! Indeed, you have a website now!

7. To further customise the layout, you can add widgets (they are just building blocks of text, basically) with any text you like or content from other sites. For example, my blog that you see now has a widget that displays my tweets from Twitter and another that displays my books from Goodread. No programming was required – you just go to the Appearance/Layout view and drag and drop the widgets you like to the site layout.

8. You will see ads on both sides on this article in my blog. Don’t have ads in your business website. Your business website should advertise only one thing, and that’s your business.

9. If you are very serious about all that, you can buy hosting and create a standalone site using one of the platforms available for free, e.g. WordPress I already mentioned, or Drupal. WordPress is a fully fledged content management system (CMS, for short) by now. Drupal is also available for free and very easy to manage. This site (it belongs to our church parish) was made in Drupal.If you can program (even a little), you can do many wondrous and beautiful things with Drupal.

Now your website is ready, don’t forget to add its name to your business cards! Good luck!

Another of my  articles about media needs of a startup business with a small budget

Product Camp Toronto: the schedule is now available

Tentative agenda for Product Camp Toronto – Sunday May 30, 2010 has been determined. Each session will consist of 3 or 4 individual talks or presentations.

    9:00am Registration, continental breakfast
    10:00am Welcome
    10:15am – 11:00 am Session 1
    11:15am – 12:00pm Session 2
    12:00pm – 1:00pm Box lunch & networking, sponsor tables
    1:15pm – 2:00 pm Session 3
    2:15pm – 3:00pm Session 4
    3:15pm – 4:00pm Session 5
    4:00pm – 5:00pm Wrap up, feedback, networking, giveaways etc.

You can still vote for sessions here.

Based on the final online voting results, morning sessions will be selected and posted 2 days prior to the event.  Sessions for the afternoon will be picked by attendee voting at the event.

More details

ProductCamp Toronto Spring 2010

The time and date for the next ProductCamp Toronto  has been set.

The Date: Sunday May 30, 2010

The Location: Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management in downtown Toronto.

For those using Twitter, keep watching the  #pct3 hashtag.

STUDENTS & YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP – SUMMER COMPANY PROGRAM

Summer Company program run by Enterprise Toronto

The Summer Company program provides hands-on business training and mentoring – together with awards of up to $3,000 – to help enterprising young people, ages 15-29 (as of April 30, 2010) to start up and run their own summer business.

Summer Company is coordinated and delivered at the community level through the government’s Small Business Enterprise Centres by way of business mentoring groups. Business mentoring groups consist of volunteer business advisors from the local community.
Successful Students will receive:
An award of up to $1,500 will be given for start-up costs, and $1,500 award upon the successful completion of the Summer Company program;
a minimum of 12 hours of business training; and an opportunity to regularly meet with a local business mentoring group for support and advice on operating their summer business.