Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Lessons learnt while building Woo Themes

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Adriaan Pienaar AKA ‘Eddy Rockstar’ gives us some insight into the lessons he has learnt while building Woo Themes

  • You can start up your business from anywhere
  • Start an International Business – Not a South African business. (Change your view about your business to that of a global one)
  • No Funding – Bootstrap & Monetize – If you plan and manage your business properly, you can continue growing without having to slow down, while you wait for funding
  • Marketing the Stigma
  • Branding: Be unique & personalize – Build your personal brand online
  • Listen to your audience – They are the ones who will ultimately buy from you
  • Force your audience’s attention to you (Don’t just live in the ‘Twitterverse’)
  • Design is more important than tech (Design will differentiate you)
  • Your customer is more important than everything else
  • Tech is only half important (communicate to your customer, don’t geek speak to your clients)
  • Stay on top of Trends – Just (But don’t be a copy cat)
  • Diversify your income (existing customers will invest in other products from you, because they trust you)
  • Limit your exposure to risk
  • Smile & Enjoy – Have fun while you’re doing it

Vinny Lingham’s Secret’s for securing funding

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The important things to consider when you are looking to raise funding for your new business, or business idea, you need to concentrate on the following:

  • Have a great team
  • You need a good plan
  • Be a good networker
  • Build a ‘Great pitch’ (if you can’t deliver your message in 1-2 sentences, then it’s not simple enough for a funder)
  • Have a good demo
  • Be persistent (don’t give up)
  • Remain passionate about your business
  • Show potential
  • Build products, not services (service  businesses don’t scale)

Oh, to be treated like a millionaire everyday

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
Ready to depart from the station

Ready to depart from the station

How you ask? Well, either you have the bank balance, or you have the connections.

For the moment, it’s the latter for me.

Thanks to Red Pepper Books being a member of the esteemed ABSA Rewards loyalty program, we were invited to be part of a, for many, once in a lifetime experience and total treat.

This exclusive occasion was only open to a select 72 people for the day (we were two of those).

It all begins…

08h30, we met at the Capital Park Station in Pretoria, the home of Rovos Rail and it’s departure point. Here we enjoyed champagne, canapés, great company and the opportunity to take some spectacular pictures. Next thing we knew, we were boarding this illustrious transportation device.

The train itself is beautiful and furnished with only the best. After about 30 minutes of exploring the train, we stumbled upon the bar, which was the last carriage, and also where the real party seemed to be under way. We found ourselves two seats at the bar, joined in the festivities and met some amazing characters. The drinks flowed, the conversation progressed and the laughter

Standing proud at the window

Standing proud at the window

roared.

Next thing we knew, we were being ushered though for lunch. We were seated in the dining hall where everything was in it’s place and immaculate. The waiters came and took our orders and the wine began to flow. This was not just any wine, but rather some of this country’s finest, and the selection was endless.

Lunch was enjoy over a slow 2 hour stretch of five courses that exploded into a variety of tastes and the whole experience was enjoyed in the company of Rani from ABSA and her husband Ruben, who is about as passionate about photography as I am.

2 hours later, just as we were halfway though our 2nd black coffee and cognac, the train came to a holt, and we were informed the we were now at our next destination. This being Makgopong Station in Naboomspruit. We then boarded two coaches and made our way to Legend Golf and Safari Estate. The ride took about 45 minutes, and as we drove into the estate, we were all in total awe of our surroundings. If the entrance was anything to go by, we could all guess that we were in for even more of a treat. Lined up in a row, were 7 game-viewing vehicles waiting for us to climb onto and ride off into the bush.

White rhino

White rhino

As we entered the game viewing area, we were surrounded by a huge selection of game species. We saw Wildebeest, Springbok, Blesbok, Warthog, Zebra, and Rhino. We were then taken to Entabeni (place of the mountain), where a series of lions were being reared and rehabilitated to be put back into the wild.  This was a truly humbling experience. On our departure out of the park, we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of some Cheetahs, just before they ran for cover.

Thinking the day was coming to an end, we were then taken deeper into the bush to a Pedi cultural village, for a further experience, where we were greeted by the sound of drums, clapping and singing. Not to mention another assortment of food platters and deserts, and a series of wines and malts to round off the day. We sat and socialized to the sounds of traditional music as we relaxed and unwound, even further.

At around Six o’ clock, we climbed back onto the game vehicles and headed back to where the coaches waited for our return to Capital Park Station in Pretoria. Sadly, this was the least enjoyable part of the trip, with a 2-hour bus ride to allow each of us to

Pedi drummers & singers

Pedi drummers & singers

recover from all the overindulgence of the day.  After what seemed like a trip that would never come to an end, we finally reached the station, where we disembarked, said our farewells to each other, and climbed into the comfort of our own vehicles, as we headed for the highway and made our way home.

I would really recommend, that should you get the chance to experience the Rovos Rail, then take to opportunity to do so.

In closing, I would like to say a really special thank you to Red Pepper Books, ABSA Rewards and Rovos Rail.

(Additional photos available here)

The Learning Organisation

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

In June 2009, we were challenged with the idea of putting our team through a program that would change our working dynamics forever. To be honest, when the idea was first presented to me, I was not convinced; in fact I believed it would be a total waste of our time. Little did I realise the impact that following this program would have on our business.

And so our journey down the road of self-discovery began…

openroadThe initial program started off with a 2-hour session in which we did the DOPE test. I still remember having flashbacks to my colourful past of experimentation, but fortunately that wasn’t the type of ‘dope’ being referred to here. The concept rather revolves around the concept that we all belong to one of 4 primary bird groups, namely Dove, Owl, Peacock or Eagle. At first, this seemed rather silly to me, but once we had all completed the various questionnaires, plotted the graphs, and finally reviewed the characteristics of the respective groups we belonged to, I found myself immensely intrigued, and all of a sudden I wanted to know more.

Before I knew it, we had signed up for the full workshop and were on our way down the path to self-discovery.

The program consisted of five full day sessions, each focusing on the five main aspects of The Learning Organisation, namely:

Personal Mastery covered the aspects of being and developing oneself as a leader.  A critical aspect of this is the understanding that as long as one is in the proverbial comfort zone, there is very little chance for growth. It is only when one moves into the zone of discomfort that the opportunity for growth really presents itself.  This discomfort is brought about by being introduced to what one is missing from one’s life as a leader.

We then explored the aspect of values, each of us being given a list containing up to 30 different values. We had to identify with and highlight our top ten values. To test our true commitment to these values, we were run through a series of tests to see how true and committed we were to these. Through this process, we filtered down to our true values. What I found exceptionally interesting was how quickly one’s values change based upon the situation one finds oneself in.

Next we explored the Drivers for Change, mapped against the Sigmoid curve – the principle being that if you’re not growing you are dying. These drivers are either desperation, aspiration or anticipation. If you’re not moving up the curve, then you are rapidly moving down the curve.

Mental Models demonstrated how a team of 15 people, given exactly the same information, deduced totally different findings and how, based upon our upbringing, experiences and beliefs, built ideas that shaped the way we look at things and made decisions long before we’ve explored all the evidence.

We then moved on to Team Learning, which explores the Credibility Gap – the difference between what you say and what you do – and how this difference impacts on the picture people have of you.  We were taught how to be aware of it and make adjustments to it so that this gap could be closed, bringing about a “whole” view of oneself in the eyes of other people.

We also explored the Johari Window. Through honest responses to a structured questionnaire, we were shown where, depending on the situation we find ourselves in, we may be saying too little or not asking anything versus saying or asking too much. The Johari Window breaks us into either the Oyster, Interviewer, Lecturer or Fully Engaged, the latter being the one to strive for. Once this was been explored, we launched into the next phase where, through a series of breakaway sessions, we tested and understood the true tools of engagement: high quality advocacy and inquiry.

Systems Thinking clarified that in order to handle any situation, one needs to look beneath the surface. Just as only 10% of an iceberg is seen from above the water line, it is only by being aware of what is going on underneath that one can start addressing a situation effectively.

In the final session, Shared Vision – in my opinion, the overall purpose of the program – we learned the importance of shared, or sharing vision. Any organisation looking to create a vision for itself can either do so from the top down – where the company tells its employees what the company’s vision is, or for better results, through understanding of what each person in the organisation wants to achieve for themselves and that through sharing, the people that make up a company can work together to combine their individual visions into a combined company vision.

Although Friday the 12th of March was our last session, it was really only the beginning for our company. Through the initiatives that we have started as part of this program- such as weekly R&D sessions where our entire team takes time out to research the latest trends and develop new, innovative solutions – we have already seen many amazing developments unfold within our company.mountaintop

We now find ourselves at an interesting point in our careers, where the opportunities of the marketplace and the passion of our team unite to take us to a level not yet defined.

The sky right now is, quite literally, the limit, and it is on this note that I would like to say thank you to my incredible team and, as Zig Ziglar once said, “See you at the top!”

Ceri James, Sales and Marketing Director, JD Internet Consulting

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E-mail support

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

There seem to be misconceptions about how e-mail servers work. People seem to think that e-mails work independently from the internet. In order for anyone to be able to send and receive e-mails regardless of the internet connection you’re using you need to have a good internet connection and speed.

Sometimes you’ll find that you are able to connect to the internet but when you click on “send and receive” you don’t get your e-mails. At this point you start to panic thinking your e-mail has been suspended or it is broken. Well sometimes it is suspended or broken but not everybody is aware that the path that the e-mails take while traveling through internet connections is different to that of the website servers.

In layman’s terms both your water pipe and electricity cables run underground, if the electricity cables break it doesn’t mean your water will stop running but if the water pipe bursts, it may affect your electricity. In this case if your internet connection is down, it will affect your e-mails because e-mails use the internet to travel from one address to the next; internet is the mails’ transport. You are asking yourself why don’t I get e-mails even though I have an internet connection.

You may have an internet connection but your signal maybe weak or your connection may be slow losing packets and data on its way to its destination. Because the connection is so bad the mail server takes about 60 seconds to open a session and push the e-mail through. If the 60 seconds are up and the session is still open then a second session is opened. By this time the two sessions are running simultaneously, which slows the connection even more. Every time that you click send/receive it opens the session and therefore delaying the time for the server to close the sessions.
Each session needs to be closed one after the other by the server before your e-mails will come pouring in again.

The best remedy is that as soon as you realise that outlook is hanging and none of your e-mails are coming in, you contact your server provider and find out if there are any internet connection problems that are delaying your e-mails before assuming the worse.

South Africa is currently experiencing severe degradation to international servers due to a cable break on the SAT3 international link. This affects everyone in South Africa because there are services that you will try to get to online but will not be available, hence your internet connection, depending on the routing that it takes may be affected leaving you with a slow internet connection. This means that a great many of us will have trouble either browsing the net or downloading our e-mails as effectively as usual.

According to Telkom, their technicians are presently working on the problem and will be resolved soon.

Keeping up to date with the current Search Engine Optimization Trends

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The clear cut world of advertising and marketing has undertaken a dramatic turn as of late. Traditional marketing methodologies such as the likes of newspapers and other print media are losing market share daily to the more interactive customer-orientated online marketing solutions available. These audiences are both more versatile, accessible and more consumer targeted.

In order to try and keep ahead of this online competition, you need to make an effort in keeping up with the latest SEO trends with regards to your own website.

Mentioned below are a few trends to keep in mind when building a new website or maintaining your current one:

Content is (STILL) king

It does not matter which way you look at it, the quality of content on a website is still as important as it has been since the very beginning – whether you are building new websites or rebuilding old ones. The more relevant the content the better the overall ranking of a site and the higher the traffic and generally the quality of the traffic too. Well written content engages the audience and also promotes the likelihood of quality links from other sites.

HTML vs XML site maps

Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) mentioned recently the importance of html site maps in website structures. According to him if you only have time to do one of the two being HTML or XML, he suggests working on the HTML one as it both increases usability when people search the site for information, and allows Google to easily crawl and index the pages.

Determining Keywords Trends using the Google Trends Application

Implementing a successful result orientated SEO strategy for websites involves good keyword selection. This information can be extracted from the “Google Trends” application – http://www.google.com/trends

Different keywords and keyword phrases related to the content and industry can be entered into this application and the report generated will give an indication as to how often these keywords and phrases are searched for compared to past searches – which can be viewed as daily, monthly or yearly results. Using this application to improve your content can help generate more traffic to your website and improve your rankings on Google. By incorporating the words and phrases in your content that experience high volumes of searches, you are able to keep up to date with current keyword search trends and stay ahead of your competition.

There are a number of ways to use Google Trends information to improve your SEO results

  1. Compare the performance of two or more keywords and use the one that performs better within the content of your site. This helps with ranking.
  2. Check keyword performance across different user locations and filter the results accordingly. This will help with relevancy.
  3. Google Trends gives a summary of keyword performance from 2004 to date. This will enable you to select keywords that have had a history of solid stable performance.
  4. Google Trends provides information to identify why certain changes in general search takes place and this will also aid you when choosing relevant reflective keywords.
  5. Google Trends provides information for keyword performance across the various languages.
  6. Any drop in the traffic to your website can be investigated by checking the search trends results.

For more information on how DiscoverSEO can assist your business in extracting maximum value out of your web solution, contact us TODAY – (011) 807 6149 or visit DiscoverSEO – www.discoverseo.co.za for a free SEO evaluation.