Tag Archive | 2011

Two Year Anniversary – Stop Crying

New Years 2014 Fire Works

The Spark n Launch Team celebrate with some backyard fireworks…

According to WordPress we just celebrated our two year anniversary – two years since we registered this account. Since our first blog post we have published over 100 articles and written another 100 draft posts. The site attracts traffic from around the world and continues to increase it’s readership. Thanks to all our loyal followers!

Unfortunately most of the traffic is spam bots, and the quality & frequency of our posts has diminished. Nevertheless we will try and keep up the web presence. If you’re interested in guest blogging or want some links shared, get in touch. Drop us a comment and share some love!

For those looking for some inspiration, check out some of our published posts below. Got a favourite post – tweet it!

(!)

In The Beginning:
Hello world! *
Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare
Working for the “Man” (Draft)

WordPress Links:
About
Social
Glossary *****
Tools
Table of Content (TOC) *****

Startups – Lists:
The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (2012) *****
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50) *****

Startups – People:
Fabrice Grinda – Musings of a Serial Entrepreneur
Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com
The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Startups – Stories:
Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories *****
14 Year Old Girl: "Stop making excuses, make something awesome”
Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus *****
Samsung's Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss *****

Startups – Lean:
The History of Lean Startup by Steve Blank *****
Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day
The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days?
Building Your Minimum ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)

Startups – Weekends:
Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
Startup Weekend: What to Expect?
Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0) *****
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 1) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 2) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 3) (Draft)

Entrepreneur:
The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Business Ideas / Business Planning:
How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy? ****
Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark
Business Plans – "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" (includes business plan template)
Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria
Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan *****
Step 1 – Where to Begin
How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken? *****
Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About ****

Customer Development:
Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea
A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups *****

People / Management:
Why Being a Deal Maker Matters To Your Team

Social Media / Blogging:
Twitter – Tweeting to your #audience
The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth ****
Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

Social Media – Experiments:
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
Technorati – Does the verification process work?
Technorati – Does the verification process work? (Yes it does!)
Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

Brand / Marketing:
Picking a name – The importance of brand
Affiliate Marketing 101
Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views ****
Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords
Happy V Day – Seasonal Opportunities
The Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Traffic / SEO:
How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day) ****
Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike ****

Design:
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral ****

Toolkit:
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs
Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo ****
Podcasts – Hearing and Learning From Others
Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers
New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online

Funding:
Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter
Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes ***
Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
Startup Funding: I’m 15 With An Amazing Product Idea
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available In Europe
Raising Money (Draft)
Working Full Time and Bootstrapping Your Business Startup (Draft)

Web:
Web Stats – Who is top of the league table? ***

Rants / Musings:
Why is everything broken? (Draft)
Getting Real – It’s a project, not a startup (Draft)
Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience
The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)
To Code or Not To Code

Messages:
100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Be the First to Like Us on Facebook
Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)
Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts
New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?
Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)
Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?
Upcoming Posts – Please Vote
Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype

Weird / Unclassified:
It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11
Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
Random Generated Startup – Life gets easier (again)
Get hired with the help of your friend, Mark Zuckerberg?
The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
Technology – Is a black pixel on or off? ****
Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February
April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
How the $16bn Facebook IPO looks like in cash (Image) **

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update

Late last year we kicked off Project Trout (Social Media Experiment #1), aimed to share our own experiences with using social media to gain traffic and interest.

Our findings so far are not so surprising:
+ It is hard to get noticed, even in your own niche/field.
+ It takes time for responses.
+ Some efforts have resulted in zero attention.
+ Interest in a tweet doesn’t necessary result in a visitor to your blog.

We have summarized the activities below.

Week 1:
Go live – Blog goes from private to public. 8 initial postings available.
Enabled Google Webmaster Tools.
Enabled Social Media buttons on each post.
Improved header information and text.

Week 2:
Twitter and Google Plus accounts activated. An additional 4 postings made available.
RSS feeds added to Feedage.com.
Twitter: 6 Tweets, 2 Following, 11 Followers
Blog: Some traffic and comments to blog.

Week 3:
Monitored Twitter activity via Twitter Counter.
Added links to FeedShark, a free tool to promote your website.

Week 4:
Experimented with Pluggio and HootSuite to schedule and manage Twitter account.

Week 5:
Twitter: Increased the amount of Twitter users we were following from c. 15 to 350. Had a dramatic impact on followers (peaking around 110). Then a sudden fall over the following days down to nearly 80 followers. Many followers were spam accounts later deleted by Twitter.

Week 6:
No new activity.

Week 7:
Current focus is Twitter and WordPress blog. Google Plus has been neglected for now as difficult to gain a large following as a ‘page’ rather than a ‘user’.
Twitter: 42 Tweets, 300 Following, 92 Followers
Blog: 20 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Planned Activities:
More interaction within WordPress community.
Continue Twitter tweets.
Create more high quality content.

Current Links:
Wordpress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/

.

You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Time Magazine are predicting 2012 will be the year of the ‘entrepreneur’. Things have sure moved on from year of the Protester (2011), Mark Zuckerberg (2010), You (2006) and The Whistleblower (2002). One may argue Time are getting a little lazy.

Given the weak economic climate and high levels of unemployment around the place, it does seem fitting that self employment is being promoted. Maybe even if it is being promoted as Governments alternative to creating new jobs.

Regardless now feels like an even better time to be an entrepreneur. Plenty of resources are available (like local business advisers) and the mechanisms to get your message out to the world (like Twitter, Facebook) are endless.

Good luck you!

Related Article: Time Magazine: 2012 – The Year Of The Entrepreneur/

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!

And here we go again! Another new year has arrived. It feels like I have just got use to writing 2011 and now I have to remember it’s 2012. Life is complicated sometimes.

Good luck to everyone and let’s make 2012 the best year ever!

Here is how London and Sydney celebrated. What did you get up to?

London:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1yLRK2M8YQ

Sydney:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_crNUYe3q8g

.

You might also enjoy:
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Web Stats – Who is top of the league table?

We spent some time trawling the web trying to work out what the most popular websites were by traffic and why?

It didn’t take long to find Alexa and the endless tables of web rankings.

“Alexa is the leading provider of free, global web metrics. Search Alexa to discover the most successful sites on the web by keyword, category, or country.”

We have published a small table of the top 30 (plus 1 to include Apple) websites in the world at this point in time (see below). There are no real surprises.

Search (google, yahoo), e-mail portals (google, microsoft, yahoo), blogging sites (blogspot, wordpress) and social networking (facebook, linkedin, twitter) feature highly. No surprises to see plenty of Chinese, Japanese and Indian appearing there as well.

One surprising aspect is that adult entertainment sites only start appearing around position 50 (no pun intended). Maybe the social networking sites have taken over?

The research is more interesting when you start looking into categories. It is a quick and handy way to see what your future competitors are up to.

The answer to the why these sites pull in so much traffic seems simple. The harder bit to answer is how you can get your website up the league tables?

We will write about POF another time, but yields an interesting story of web traffic and turning this into revenue.

Rank Name URL
1 Google google.com
2 Facebook facebook.com
3 YouTube youtube.com
4 Yahoo! yahoo.com
5 Baidu.com baidu.com
6 Wikipedia wikipedia.org
7 Windows Live live.com
8 Blogspot.com blogspot.com
9 Twitter twitter.com
10 Amazon.com amazon.com
11 QQ.COM qq.com
12 Taobao.com taobao.com
13 Google India google.co.in
14 LinkedIn linkedin.com
15 MSN msn.com
16 Yahoo! Japan yahoo.co.jp
17 新浪新闻中心 sina.com.cn
18 WordPress.com wordpress.com
19 Google google.de
20 eBay ebay.com
21 Google谷歌 google.com.hk
22 Яндекс yandex.ru
23 Google 日本 google.co.jp
24 Google UK google.co.uk
25 Google France google.fr
26 Bing bing.com
27 新浪微博-随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿 weibo.com
28 t.co t.co
29 Microsoft Corporation microsoft.com
30 网易 163.com
31 Apple Inc. apple.com

Let’s see if this list changes much in the next few months.

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Business Plans – “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (includes business plan template)

Some people do it, other don’t. Personally planning gives me some comfort in knowing what to expect. It’s my road map of who is doing what and when. Yes, in reality, things will always change but ultimately you have things you need to do regardless, and a target you are aiming for.

The good old business plan is the primary tool of budding entrepreneurs. Not all businesses promote this concept but unless you really have your ideas and objectives written down – are you really serious about things?

Business Link UK is a terrific resource and tells you everything you need to know about starting, financing, running a business and much more. They share templates and case studies that can simplify the underlying tasks.

Their instructions on preparing a business plan are really useful and a excellent starting point:
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073869162

Another great place to look is on your local bank’s website. Most banks have heaps of information including useful business plan templates and instructions. Just google ‘bank name + business plan’. The several versions I found are extremely useful and as a customer many of the legal and business advice is free!

The key benefits of building a business plan is that you can use this document to present to potential bank managers and venture capitalists. It is your foundation stone of your business and can continue to be reviewed and changed as you progress.

If a 20+ pages business plan is a little too daunting for you. Check out the many free ‘one page’ business plan documents floating around the Internet. As a minimum it should capture:
1) Your Market (who are your customers and competitors?)
2) Your Marketing (what are your product/service features and benefits? And how will you sell this?)
3) Your Finances (how are you funding and what are your estimated operational and sales figures?)
4) Your Growth Opportunities (how developed is your product/service offering? And how can it grow?)

You can download a very quick draft two-pager business plan template I put together in Microsoft Excel. Feel free to play around with the format. Note that this is just a starting point and plenty of due diligence is still required.

Click link to download file –> sparknlaunch.wordpress.com business plan 2011 template (xls)

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11

We don’t claim to be mathematics freak or number men. In fact we don’t really enjoy calculations all that much. We do appreciate they play an important part in our lives and being able to understand figures is a necessary skill for everyone. Seeing little patterns or quirks in an Excel spreadsheet or utility bill does make our day. Yes, how very sad! So today is really special.

The guys over at Time and Date have taken this a little too far. They have even provided you with more 111 combinations – like your age in seconds today if born on Wednesday, 25 August 1976 (1,111,111,111 seconds old). Happy Birthday?

Anyway, here is some bedtime reading for you:
http://www.timeanddate.com/date/11-11.html

.

You might also enjoy:
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark

Startups.co.uk is a great website for learning more about getting started with your very own business. We find their case study stories inspiring as you get to hear from others about the challenges they faced in getting their idea to market.

One useful link we found was to a free Business Idea Evaluation Tool. Before you get too excited, this is not going to answer all your questions and instantly give you a green light on your idea. It is simply a set of questions to measure your idea against some common sense criteria. No humans involved and very generic. However you do receive a nice report telling you how your idea fares against logical categories. It highlights your strengths and weaknesses and gives you more questions to ask. You may surprise yourself (in a good or bad way)! However better to be surprised now rather than later.

Ultimately it is asking you questions you need good answers for. And if you don’t know the answer or your answer is insufficient – you know where you need to do more homework.

The tool can be found here (note you do need to supply an email address to read the outputted report):
http://www.startups.co.uk/business-idea-evaluation-tool.html

To help we have recorded the key criteria below. Hopefully this will help you in your brainstorming and idea building sessions:

1) Market (Market Size, Customers Need, Competition, Barriers to Entry)
This is an analysis of the potential customers for your product or service. To exploit your idea financially, you need a sufficient number of customers to buy your product or service at a price that will give you a suitable profit.

2) Marketing (Additional Opportunities, Benefits, Sales, Repeat Purchase)
This section looks at how you intend to promote and sell your product or service so that it meets your customers’ needs. Your objective should be to maximise your sales.

3) Finance (Funding, Profitability, Production, Profit/Unit)
Here the potential for your idea to make you money is analysed.

4) Exploitation (Development Stage, Capabilities, Intellectual Property, Legislation)
This section looks at factors important for the successful commercial development of your idea.

Check out Startups for more info:
http://www.startups.co.uk/

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Why this blog?

We have always been dreamers. Dreaming of being entrepreneurs. Actually taking the plunge and doing something. Taking control and being our own boss. The problem is we get fixated on the end game and end up doing nothing. Achieving anything is about getting started and not being overwhelmed.

So this blog is a way of me breaking down the tasks into small manageable sizes and doing something. Like many, this may all end in tears and we end up binning this blog after a couple of weeks. Or it actually inspires us to have a go and create something. Even if it is only a blog.

This blog will record and share our learnings along the way. The early focus will be on existing entrepreneurs, startups and businesses. We are trying to work out what works and what doesn’t, and how one starts – boring stuff like writing a business plan and building cash flow models.

Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare

Over the past few months (years) we have realised that almost everyone is now writing a blog. And if they are not writing their own, they are reading many others. We are not the sentimental type however our own blog feels like a smart way to record my journey and capture all the great websites/ideas/thoughts we discover along the way.

So here goes… don’t expect any Shakespeare or Blake. Fingers crossed someone, somewhere in cyberspace will find these posts useful or at least a way to pass the time during their lunch break. Bon appetit!

Hello world!

EDIT: Call us sentimental, but we are leaving this original post here…

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.
%d bloggers like this: