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Frontier: Outage or Outrage?

frontierIf you live in downtown Redmond, this week you’re all-too-familiar with “closed” or “cash only signs.”

Saturday, September 20th, was the first day of what has been a massive Internet, Phone, and TV outage.  How did this happen?  Frontier Communications has reported the following initial cause: IMCO Construction ripped up 1000’s of feet of fiber and copper cable near the street at Bear Creek Parkway and Redmond Way.

Now, on day 7 of this outage, many are still experiencing outages.

My own family household experienced a mere 2-day outage, which meant having to pay cash for our traditional weekend Zaw pizza and relocating to watch the Husky and Seahawks game last weekend.  Annoying at most, but nowhere near the level of frustration others in downtown Redmond are facing.  Redmond businesses are facing an impact on an entirely different scale.  Businesses have lost phone services, directly affecting their computer and credit card access.  Because of this, many businesses have closed or scaled down their work hours.  On top of that, some businesses continue to pay employees despite closures.  Which boils down to businesses losing money.

This outage has had a negative impact at thinkspace, as well.  As a company that provides professional phone answering services, Peter Chee (CEO of thinkspace) posted earlier:

“My company has 200 DID’s (phone numbers) and we are answering phones for many small businesses and startups. It’s impacting our ability to take phone calls from prospective customers and provide customer support for our existing customers. It’s very disturbing that Frontier’s engineering team is unable to temporarily move us off a PRI (copper) onto fiber (FIOS).”

Chee and Sami Dyer (Customer Experience Manager) have been providing the community at thinkspace with multiple daily updates on their outage.  Unlike Frontier Communications.  Many customers have tweeted, posted, and commented how the outage is causing an outrage because of Frontier Communications’ unnecessary lack of communication.

On day 5 of the outage, Chee and Dyer both attended a community meeting run by Frontier at the Redmond Community Center.  During the meeting, Chee challenged Frontier by asking the following question on behalf of small business in Redmond: “What will be done to take care of businesses that have lost money?” To which the Frontier representative replied: “I don’t understand what you all mean by losing business but I don’t have an answer for you.”  What an OUTRAGEous response.

The last word from Frontier – which like local business revenue has been severely limited – was that they expect another 72 hours until all is repaired.  Which would tally 10 days for this outage.

One Facebook user brings up an interesting perspective and comments: “The City as a whole has bitten off way more than they could handle by allowing all the construction to go this way. It’s ridiculous. Too many apartment boxes at once and too many streets torn up. And who monitored the construction companies with the utilities locates? Grade F goes everywhere on this goat rodeo.”

What are your thoughts on this “goat rodeo?”  Is this an outage or an outrage?  How have you been affected?

 

 

 

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All the Answers in the World

card for blogI’ve always thought people have multiple selves – meaning your actions and reactions vary based on people and settings. It’s hard to be one personality all the time. For example my “personal self” loves horoscopes. A horoscope or fortune is a slight glimmer of hope of what might come tomorrow, or at least a positive placebo. My “work self” would not admit my guilty-pleasure-like love of horoscopes (but apparently I just did). A horoscope, something that predicts the future, is silly and fairly juvenile. But sometimes life feels scattered and so undefined; sometimes I DO want to know what to do with my life.

Enter my favorite horoscope ever.

I had only lived in Seattle for a month when I started working at thinkspace, a coworking community in Redmond. My horoscope said to write the word “creator” on my business card, and synonyms of that word. Then, turn the card over and write “May 2013,” and wait. Was this a silly gesture? Of course it was silly and nonsensical. But I didn’t just want to know what would happen…I NEEDED to know. The words that I wrote as synonyms on the card were: architect, designer, founder, originator, author, initiator, generator, and inventor. These are words with so much gusto and big meaning, words that aren’t thrown around lightly. These are the words that describe entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people that do what they want because they believe in what they are doing. Doors will be slammed in your face, phone calls will go un-returned, and rejection is inevitable. So what keeps entrepreneurs creating, inventing, and originating? It’s the hope of knowing that what’s around the corner will be their legacy and their mark on the world.

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Happy 5th birthday, thinkspace!

5thbdayThe thinkspace community first opened its doors 5 years ago today, on May 1st of 2008.

Since then, thinkspace has been – and continues to be – home to many startups and established businesses.

Upon starting thinkspace, Peter Chee understood that if he took a conventional path, he could expect conventional results.  But from the very beginning, thinkspace has been anything but conventional.

Shortly after thinkspace opened, the recession hit.  Peter was left with a decision to make: would he keep his rates competitive, and in doing so head out on a race to the bottom?  Peter recalls making that decision, “The race to the bottom is about cutting corners, and how far I can stretch this thing or person…”  That wasn’t the way Peter set out to do business, nor was it the way he wanted to respond to the recession.  Instead, he was inspired by Seth Godin: “Consumers are not loyal to cheap commodities, they crave the unique, the remarkable, the human.”

In the moment while other competitors were trying to stay afloat by cutting costs and offering discounts, Peter asked “How can we make thinkspace remarkable?” and responded not by cutting costs, but focusing on creating value within the thinkspace community.

Thinkspace was born during an against-the-odds era.  But thinkspace not only survived the recession, but has thrived due to the vision of value and relationships.  From the beginning, Peter stated, “I want to focus on making connections with people, because that’s where the value is…if you can actually connect with people, they will be more likely to do business with you.”

Thinkspace’s 5th birthday isn’t about celebrating Peter, but about celebrating the members that we are grateful to be in community with – each and every one of you makes this place remarkable.  Without you, thinkspace would be an empty building and an empty community.  So, here’s to you!  

To say “thank you,” each team member at thinkspace has brought in their favorite goodie and treat.  Please stop by the front desk today to say hi and indulge in some edible-gratitude.  

 

 

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The Rules To Delivering, Seeing Things Through + Launching Anything


Planning a project? Developing a new program? Starting a business?

It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by all the little moving parts in a launch.  Your website, the product, membership area, sales process, buttons, emails, graphics, getting the word out…it’s not surprising how many people DON’T launch.

There’s a lot that can go wrong.

Instead of pretending you’ll be able to handle all the curve balls that will be thrown at you during a launch or heck when running your business, having some guidelines to follow will go far in keeping your launch train moving forward.

Today – I’m sharing my personal launch rules–they have served me well planning projects in many different industries like film, video game development, pilates studio development and now as I grow my online business.

Don’t be surprised if some of them seem super obvious – and they are!

  1. Be clear what you are offering and be able to say it out loud to real people in your real life. If you can’t – then keep trying…

  2. Know who your audience is. There’s no real trick to this and you don’t have to do the work yourself.  My first time launching helped me clarify who would actually buy from me.  Moral of that story is put yourself in front of as many different audiences as you can – and your audience will find you!

  3. Get help – managing your project, doing the work, spreading the word… get help in every area, aspect and phase of your launch – so you don’t have to keep it all in your own head! Support is that key ingredient that really does matter more than you know!

  4. Stick to a schedule and be realistic when setting your schedule.  If you’ve only got a few people to “help” out…give yourself longer.  Be honest, realistic, and don’t

  5. Deliver what you promised and when you promise.  Don’t say you’re going to do a video series and then crap out after the 2nd one.  Don’t say your program will be delivered upon purchase if it opens in 2 weeks.  Just be clear what you’re offering and when and if it changes, make sure people know about it in ADVANCE.

  6. Don’t switch software or any systems mid-launch. ‘NUFF SAID.

  7. Make sure your team is going to see through the launch. This goes along with getting help. Make sure your help gives you a commitment to helping you through the entire life of the launch.

  8. Have back up plans. Think of things that could break down, go wrong, or not work well, and be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice.  Be okay with putting plan b in motion if needed.

  9. Be ready to (and OK with) CHANGE anything that’s not working for ANY reason.

  10. Do it often and don’t be afraid to LAUNCH WITHOUT SELLING A THING. Launching isn’t just about making moola. It’s a process you should learn early so that you can pull off your bigger ticket launches in the future.  So – launch often and launch free things too!

If you want to know more about planning a launch so that you have time to pull all those launch pieces together without totally exhausting yourself…you’ve got 2 options today:

Option 1

I’ll be teaching a live 1-hour workshop at thinkspace to show you how to do this on April 24th:

Launch Exhaustion: How to schedule a year of launches without exhausting yourself, your audience, or your team.

Click here for more information and to attend

Option 2

Fearless Launching is now enrolling for it’s 3rd round!

Check out this completely digital online training program now to learn how to launch, get support, and understand why launching before you’re ready is so important!

 

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thinkspace: An Innovation Hub for Economic Growth in Washington

thinkspace redmond waThe 41th Annual Economic Forecast report for 2013 was released in the Puget Sound Business Journal in the January 11-17th issue. In this report Cynthia Flash authored an article, “Local tech sector key to sustaining regional economic growth.” Cynthia writes, ” It’s no secret that Washington’s information technology industry is a major part of the state’s economy. Microsoft and Amazon.com are among the world’s largest and most well-known tech companies.”

Tech Sector Supports the Washington State Economy:

– Tech-related employment since 1990 more than doubled from 94,500 to 203,000.
– Tech-related jobs accounted for 55 percent of the state’s employment compensation growth and 33 percent of the state’s personal income growth since 1990.
– The tech sector contributed $2.9 billion in state Business & Occupation tax revenues in 2011, up 318 percent since 1990.

While these numbers are dominated by our local tech powerhouses, I believe that the key to sustaining growth in the local tech sector is anchored by the start-up markets. Fostering innovation within the tech sector is a critical factor in the future of our local economy. This is where thinkspace enters the conversation.

My name is Gabriel Gervelis and I own a start-up marketing agency located in thinkspace’s coworking office. Lead by local entrepreneur Peter Chee, thinkspace has developed a culture that supports start-ups,  fosters innovation, and provides all of the support and services we entrepreneurs need to succeed.

thinkspace is home to both giants and start-ups

You never know who you’re going to meet at thinkspace. As a start-up entrepreneur, it’s amazing to run into the executive team of Donuts Inc. who are recipients of $100 million in venture capital funding. And having the opportunity to swap ideas back and forth on your lunch break with the development team that created Pirq is equally priceless.

Local Tech Entrepreneurs, at thinkspace, gearing up for greatness!

Brand Buddee: Lead by a thinkspace entrepreneur, Brand Buddee is a web platform that allows local businesses to promote offers and put their social following to work sharing content through their social networks. By offering incentives to the public, local crowds flock to Brand Buddee to earn rewards by sharing special offers through their social profiles.

Anomo: Watch out Facebook, here comes Anomo! Next time you’re in need of a wordpress developer for that last minute change, simply check your Anomo network to see if there are any within in a few blocks from you. This is a true game changer and a perfect way to capitalize on the mobile app boom.

EDUonGo: Fresh out of beta, EDUonGo is taking the online education market by storm. This unique technology platform allows professors (and other content providers) to upload their course content and then produce income by sharing their expertise.  What would you do if you could launch your own university in a matter of minutes, then start collecting ecommerce revenue? With over 30 universities already on board, EDUonGo is another local tech company destined for greatness.

Marketing and Advertising at Your Fingertips:

A major part of of Washington’s economic future depends on innovation within the tech sector. This isn’t possible unless you, the people, get to know about the great ideas that we’re launching. On any given day, one can visit the coworking space and find young entrepreneurs running around, inventing new ways of making their visions come to life. What better way to make this possible than to grow in a culture of marketing and adverting professionals? Surrounding your company with partners that want you to succeed is a key factor to a start-up’s growth.

Arc Media Studios: CEO Ali Mohsenian operates his video production agency out of the coworking office at thinkspace. With years of video development experience, Ali and his team (along with their brand new RED camera) provide the insight needed to ensure that your business plan has the proper budget for branding and video development.

Heinz MarketingWhen it comes to sales and marketing, it’s no secret that Matt Heinz is one of the Northwest’s local leaders. Matt and his team operating out of the thinkspace building are always open to giving helpful advice on your go-to-market strategy, sales strategy, and overall marketing plan. Matt is an extremely valuable resource for any tech start up.

Gervelis Search Marketing: This is where I enter the picture! I’m an SEO Guru, Social Media Master, & Content Marketing professional at your service. The most effective SEO strategy is one that’s identified at the beginning stages of a start-up’s development. Often times, a single recommendation we make on the subject of marketing can change the development plan of an entire company. If you’re a start-up, or thinking of realizing your business dreams,  then surrounding yourself with this type of entrepreneurial culture is critical to your success!

Development Resources at Your Fingertips

Web development, software development,  & mobile development are key factors to the success of any young technology company. thinkspace is home to several businesses that will help you safely navigate these waters.

Vina Source: You can often find CEO Benjamin Liu hanging out in the coworking space here in Redmond. Ben controls an overseas a development team that produces grade-A mobile products. With clients like Pirq & AllRecipes.com, Ben can help you create a mobile development strategy for your start up.

Blue Label Labs:  Blue Label is a young and highly innovative team of mobile developers headed up by Jordan Gurrieri. You can find Jordan in and out of the coworking space, too. Jordan, like the rest of us, suffers from ‘entrepreneurial A.D.D.’, but Jordan’s side projects result in published books and websites that generate tens of thousands of monthly online visitors. He’s definitely not a bad guy to sit next to when you’re creating your start-ups strategy for world domination!

What Else Could You Need…Besides Funding?

Yes, the ground floor of thinkspace (a large, well furnished facility with extra monitors, meeting areas, and desks) is truly an innovation hub for start-ups but let’s not forget about the 300 companies that they service. This broad mix of service professionals are here to help and advise you as well.

thinkspace services: Peter Chee has created a service center complete with everything that a start-up needs including a physical mailing address, phone answering services, registered agent services, and other offerings to help the start-up community truly succeed.

Here are some additional members of the thinkspace community you may want to know:

Certified Public Accountant:  Jon Jenkins has a team of five professionals ready to help you answer your toughest accounting questions.

Attorney: Nathan Neiman of the Neiman Law team is a seasoned lawyer helping entrepreneurs establish themselves.

What About Funding & VC’s?

You will find several VC’s Lurking the hallways of thinkspace who are willing to listen to your plan and offer helpful advice.

Angel Investors: Charlie Kindle is a private investor and a member of the ‘Alliance of Angels’ funding organization who keeps office hours here at thinkspace.

Washington’s Economic Future is at thinkspace

There can be no argument, technology will continue to a play a major part in the  local, national, & global economic environments. Communities like thinkspace are playing an important part that will decide what role Washington will play in this space. We are a community of like-minded people going above and beyond to help each other navigate the new and uncharted waters of the technology front.

$2.9 billion in state Business & Occupation tax revenues in 2011, up 318 percent since 1990. Looking ahead into 2015, let’s work together to add a few billion to these numbers!

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What an Entrepreneur can Learn From The Seahawks Victory Over The Redskins

seahawks victory source komo news

Image Source: KOMO News

This post is about the Seahawk’s versus Redskins playoff game and why it was amazing. The Seahawks faced off with the Redskins but in the very first quarter the Seahawks found themselves down 0 – 14, held scoreless in the first quarter with no apparent chance of winning.

Seattle’s defense just couldn’t stop the Redskins, nor could their offense move the ball leaving the Redskins to totally dominate the field. But in the second, third and fourth quarters, the Seahawks pulled out their magic to  turn the game around, preventing the Redskins from scoring and eventually winning the game 24-14.

When I see that level of play, I have to ask myself what happened. Just how did this team go from zero to fourteen to win the playoff, especially at an away game where the Seahawks have been known to be at a disadvantage?

Pure skill leads Seattle Seahawks to victory

One of the aspects of this particular game that made it remarkable was the fact that the win wasn’t the result of mere luck. They rightfully won because of pure skill and their ability to pull together to become the better team.

Seattle didn’t enjoy a lucky fumble or a sudden runback to touchdown. Neither did the winners benefit from injury to the opposing team that might have taken one of their star players off the field. It really wasn’t luck that lead the Seahawks to victory, but that the Seahawks simply proved themselves to the superior players.

Leadership by Coaches & Players

Another noteworthy aspect of the Seahawk win was the evidence of leadership both on and off the field. Finding your team down 14-0 in foreign territory can quickly break your momentum and make it almost impossible for your team to function effectively.

In order to come back from a deficit like that, clear leadership has to be in charge, not only of the defense and offense, but of the entire coaching staff. If the team hadn’t been confident from the top down in their ability to overcome, they would have never been able to come from behind to win the game.

Play callers adapted their strategy

The Seahawk’s ability to respond in real time, and adapt their game strategy accordingly, proved to be a major contribution to their strong play and eventual victory. At the outset, seemingly none of their game plans worked as intended.

Their offensive strategies didn’t work and their defensive strategies were no better. Thinking of the players on the field as chess pieces, you understand that their job is to be moved and to follow the instructions given by the coaches. So when Seattle found themselves down by 14, the play makers and coaches had to identify not only what was wrong but how to fix it.

It’s fair to say that  the coaches’ clear ability to adapt their game strategy eventually lead the team to victory. Of course, that was only possible because the players respected the coaches enough to listen to them rather than take matters into their own hands. That was evidence of teamwork at its finest, a quality that any Super Bowl bound team should have.

What really made this game enjoyable to watch was the level of sportsmanship at work; the entire team functioning as one in order to overcome a 14-0 deficit and dominate the rest of the game, advancing the Seahawks to the next round.

What  can a business leader learn from this victory?

Seeing these qualities and noticing what contributed to this win makes me want to compare this game to winning in business. In the world of business and entrepreneurship, how does the Seahawk’s success compare to how we function as business owners? You can imagine that being 0-14 in the first quarter of a playoff game would be comparable to trying to make a $40k payroll in seven days, fully knowing that you’re $20k short with no obvious solution in sight. It’s the same gut feeling as having to ask yourself “What am I going to do if I can’t pay my employees?”

Generating new revenue

In such a case, in order to pull yourself out of that apparent defeat, you might have to rally your sales force and back them with the full support of your entire team; providing leadership to do what appears to be impossible without demoralizing your entire office by telling your staff that you’re having difficulty making payroll.

Close open projects

Instead of making more sales, it may prove simpler to increase your cash flow by completing open projects or stepping up efforts to collect on accounts receivable. In order to execute that you may have coordinate between your accounting and operations staff to reach your goal. Close communication with your employees can be instrumental to everyone contributing their best efforts, even beyond the usual scope of their job descriptions.

Investor Relations

One final solution to make payroll possible would be to speak with your bank or the investors in your company who have a clear and vested interest in the stability of your workforce and the company at large. Key stakeholders may be able to help you source the necessary funds that would help get you over that hump if they’re willing to act from a long-term perspective.

No matter how you look at it, whether you consider the Seahawk’s victory or this business scenario, the key takeaway here is your ability to remain grounded despite your impulse to panic when you’re staring defeat squarely in the eye. Maintain your ability to visualize the win by understanding that you’ve build the team and have your team around you to support your mutual goals. Together you can shift impossibility to reality by never losing sight of what you’ve set out to accomplish.

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Resources for Creating an Internship Program

Over the weekend, I blogged about why small business owners should consider hiring an intern. Here are a few more suggestions and resources for developing a successful internship program:

  • Figure out what type of internship you want to create. It’s important to be specific so your internship applicants are clear about what type of opportunity they are applying for. Ask your team what areas they need help with. Is it a marketing internship? Sales internship? Design internship? etc.
  • Decide what skills you are looking for in a potential intern. Remember, you’re recruiting students who have very little workplace experience. Therefore, you need to look for success in specific classes and campus involvement. For example, if you are hiring a marketing intern you may want to look for journalism students with fantastic writing skills. If you’re looking for a sales intern, you might want to look for students who have volunteered time fundraising for a non-profit. It’s important to read between the lines when looking at academic resumes.
  • Reach out to specific departments at your local university for  student recommendations. This is where your network comes in handy. Ask your employees who have graduated more recently for help. If you were involved with a greek organization in college, sending an email to your local chapter’s president or academic chair is a great first step.

[scribd id=56161715 key=key-117b16unrgoqwz71o7ln mode=list]

  • Check out InternMatch‘s slide deck on writing a great internship description:

[slideshare id=4510403&doc=042510pptfinal2251-100615174159-phpapp02]

For those of you who’ve had success hiring an intern for your small business, what resources were valuable to you?

 

Why You Should Hire An Intern

As a small business owner, you have limited resources when it comes to hiring additional employees. Instead of draining your overhead by hiring an additional employee, have you considered creating an internship program? Many interns are willing to work unpaid in exchange for experience building opportunities. Instead of paying an intern with money, you will be paying them with your time and expertise, which is truly invaluable.

Internship-seeking college students are bright individuals who are proactively working to build their resume and skill set. College students are extremely curious, which is a huge advantage to you. At this point in their life, they are looking to explore new opportunities, work environments, and job functions to get an idea for their future career path. Do you have random projects that need some well-thought work? An intern would be thrilled to take it on.

Interns can bring a ton of energy and new insights to your business. When was the last time you got some direct feedback from a 20-year-old? Remember, this generation can barely remember life before the Internet. Maybe you need help with updating your current low-tech processes? Or, brainstorming new marketing ideas? An intern can be a great resource for this.

Remember, interns require time. You are offering them experience and education for their time.  It is illegal to have an intern doing routine office chores without paying them an hourly wage. By hiring an intern, you are investing your time, which is a great way to support your local university community. In addition, employers who get a great internship reputation are highly desired for employment after graduation. By implementing a valuable internship program, you could be benefitting your future recruiting efforts. You will also have direct access to your intern after they graduate for employment opportunities.

5 Reasons Why Talented Employees Leave Their Jobs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Recruiting talented employees is one of the most difficult (and most important) responsibilities of a small business owner. Your people are your brand, product, and culture. However, once you find your core team of people- what are you doing to keep them happy?

The answer isn’t money. Sure, you need to pay your people what they’re worth to keep the money question off the table. What may surprise you is that most talented employees leave their jobs because they are unhappy with their company’s workplace culture. Check out the infographic below describing the top 5 reasons why talented employees leave their jobs.

via

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Why Having A Social Media Department Is A Bad Idea

When you think about the rise of social media and it’s prevalence in today’s business world, you would think that a company with the right resources should have their own social media department, if not only as a part of the marketing team.

That’s just plain wrong. A dedicated team for social is not the way to go about it and the numbers prove it. The idea is to create a social culture with people who have the tools and knowledge to drive authentic sharing, blogging, and a lively community without it being a huge burden on any one person or group.

The existence and adoption of social media platforms proves that humans by nature, want to share. Your employees are no different. Train them to do social regardless of the department they may work in and you’ll end up with a diverse group creating content that is going to appeal to a wide range of people. Not only that, you automatically get access to the combined social networks of all your employees because they want to share what they are up to and what they create with their friends and family.

Don’t departmentalize, teach everyone to socialize. You will find that you have a treasure trove of hidden talent and social superstars at your disposal. The authentic content that they create will drive traffic, brand recognition, culture, moral, and yes, fans, friends, followers and sales.

[Click to enlarge]

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