How To Spy On Your Competitors (Part I)

3d illustration: Equipment protection. Concept Cameras Do you have that nervous feeling that your competitors are doing better than you? Suspect that you are loosing customers to your competitors? One suggestion that has worked well for some is to find out what your competition is doing. This research will tell you what is working well for them and help you get the most for your business strategy.

Here are some online tools that will help you spy on your competitors legally:

1. KEYWORDS – Right click on the home page or best performing page of your competitor and click on View Page Source to see what keywords are being used. This is a valuable bit of information if the competitor’s webpage is performing better than yours.

2. YOUR COMPETITION’S MOST POPULAR PAGE – To find your competitor’s most popular page(s) and to get a behind-the-scene look at how well it’s website is doing use online tools like Site Explorer and Buzzsumo.  Just a few minutes ago I used Buzzsumo to find the most popular page on CNET.com. It is an article written back in March 2014 titled “This is how an engineer feels when he’s surrounded by idiots.”

3. LOAD TIME – Customers hate long load times. Check the load time of your website and that of your competitor with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. Here are some valuable information on how you can improve your load time:

PageSpeed Insights Rules

10 Ways to Make Your Website Load Faster

4. WEBSITE CHANGES – Many popular websites that have been around for years have made changes to maximize performance and improve the users’ experience. Use the Waynack Machine to see what changes your competition has made that likely resulted in increased traffic and better user experience.

5. WHAT SERVICES THEY USE – Want to find out that tools and services your competition is using to “outsmart” you? Go to BuildWith and type in your competitor’s URL to see a host of information that will make your head giddy. I just typed NYTimes.com and found who host their website, what advertisers they use, their Analytics and Tracking tools and services, who handle their email services, their advertising, their audio/video libraries, and the makeup of their Content Delivery Network. This has to be one of your more visited sites for info on what others are doing.

What Business Owners Can Learn from Usain Bolt

There are many things that people around the world associate with the name Jamaica. These include Dunn’s River Falls, Negril Beach, Doctor’s Cave Beach, Bob Marley Museum, Port Antonio and Kingston.

Ask most people to name a famous Jamaican and very likely you won’t hear the names Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bustamante, Cindy Breakspeare, Patrick Ewing or Donald Quarrie.

Many people associate the name Jamaica with reggae music and famous singer Bob Marley. However, the younger audience (worldwide) and many sports fans think of Usain Bolt when asked to name a famous Jamaican.

Over the past few weeks the name Usain Bolt has received more mentions (especially on social media) than any other Jamaican person place or thing. There was the controversy over whether Bolt called the Commonwealth Games “a bit shit” as reported by The Times of London. There were images and tweets of Bolt watching the Jamaican Netball team. Then there were headlines like “Usain Bolt makes Glasgow smile again as Jamaica reach 4x100m relay final” and “Usain Bolt’s Commonwealth Games win draws more than 8m UK viewers.”

One of the more anticipated events of the recent Commonwealth Games, the men’s 4x100m Relay featured the Jamaican relay team anchored by Bolt. Usain Bolt and the rest of the relay team won the Gold while England took Silver. The event generated a lot of chatter in social media  and in traditional print/online media.

The image below is one of the more memorable images of the games. The image shows millionaire Usan Bolt mingling with his fans. Similar images show him taking selfies with the crowd and signing autographs. What does this have to do with business?

Image Source: CNN

Bolt-with-fans

Usain Bolt is a global brand. Bolt is aware that his skills contribute to the value of the brand. He is also aware that the fans play a huge part in making that brand and in increasing its value. He realizes that without them he would not have accomplished what he has. He does not hesitate to show his appreciation for his fans. He interacts with them in person and on social network.

Like Usain Bolt, successful businesses value their customers. They realize that their customers keep them in business.

Successful businesses view customers as assets rather than numbers. They interact with them. They get feedback from them and respond accordingly.

They show appreciation for them by saying “Thanks for your business” via Thanks You cards, emails, texts, tweets and other digital avenues. They offer incentives to encourage repeat business.

YOU CAN INCREASE YOUR BUSINESS BY GAINING NEW CUSTOMERS OR BY INCREASING THE VALUE OF CURRENT CUSTOMERS’ PURCHASES (UPSELLING) AND INCREASING REPEAT BUSINESS (INCENTIVES, DISCOUNTS, EXCLUSIVE SALES ETC).

Since it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, smart businesses take what they know about their customers and tailor future sales with them in mind. They work diligently to keep current customers in the fold.

Remember customers are not numbers/data. They are emotional human beings that have tastes, preferences and oftentimes display certain buying trends. Value them. Thank them. Interact with them. Give them reasons to stay with your business or they will find your competitor very quickly.

 

TREND: Time Spent on Smartphones/Tablets Growing But TV Ads Still Preferred

An exhaustive study by Millward Brown’s AdReaction 2014 was carried out between November 2013 and March 2014. The goal of the study was to compare and contrast 30 different markets across the globe to see how much time is spent on mobile devices and how these times vary from country to country. The findings were enlightening for marketers and entrepreneurs.

The study group consisted of 13,000 mobile users aged 16 to 45 years who were multiscreen consumers, i.e. persons who own or have access to both a TV and either a smartphone or tablet. “The results show that, globally, we now spend more than three hours a day consuming mobile media…Across our 30 markets, the bulk of that is on a smartphone – 147 minutes – with an additional 50 minutes on a tablet.”

Read more about the findings here.

VIDEO: How a Successful Restaurateur and Cookbook Writer Overcame Setbacks

Thomas Keller is a successful chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. Chef Keller shared with a packed auditorium of Stanford business school students how he got his start as a dishwasher, how he overcame a set-back, and what drives his decision to open new restaurants and expand his business.

Keller is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three star ratings by the Michelin Guide. He was interviewed by Colleen Donovan, MBA class of 2013, as part of the View From The Top speaker series at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Review of Jamaica’s Economic Performance January – March 2014

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) published an economic performance report dated May 15, 2014. This report covers the performances of different sectors of the Jamaican economy such as agriculture, forestry & fishing, manufacture, construction and tourism.

Here are some of what you will find in the report:

Fiscal Accounts
A fiscal surplus of $21.4 billion was recorded during the quarter
Revenue & Grants totalled $122.4 billion in Q1 2014, while expenditure totalled $101.0 billion

Exchange Rate
The average nominal exchange rate at the end of March 2014 was $109.57 per US$1.00, representing 2.9% nominal depreciation compared with end of December 2013.

Agriculture
Real Value Added for the Agriculture industry grew by 18.0%,based on PIOJ’s production index:
Production of Plantains grew by 198.7%
Production of Potatoes grew by 35.5%
Production of Fruits grew by 25.1%
Traditional Export crops up 61.5% reflecting:
Higher output for Bananas up 231.6% to Pre-Hurricane Sandy levels
Cocoa up 260.8%
Sugarcane up 12.8%

Mining & Quarrying
Real Value Added grew by 8.0%.
Total bauxite production increased by 2.8% reflecting the combined effect of:
Higher alumina production by 11.4%
Lower crude bauxite production down 6.2%
This was due to increased demand globally and reflected:
Higher production at WINDALCO’s Ewarton and JAMALCO plants

Tourism
Real Value Added for Hotels & Restaurants grew by 0.6%
Stopover arrivals grew by an estimated 0.2%
Cruise visitor arrivals decreased 5.3%

SOURCE: Planning Institute of Jamaica

Successful Jamaican Entrepreneurs: Richard and Leanne Spence

Water is a very valuable resource and across the globe it is getting very scarce. Many organizations are focusing heavily on conserving water and improving its quality.

Jamaicans Richard Spence and his daughter Leanne Spence have discovered a method to reduce water consumption in hotels, schools, government buildings and other large facilities. Richard said “research suggests that upwards of 90 per cent of overall water consumption in commercial centres and institutions is attributable to their restrooms.”

The discovery came as a result of looking for solutions to a personal problem. Mr Spence was not pleased with his high water bills. He researched water-saving tools and equipment for his entertainment establishment, The Deck, on Trafalgar Road in Kingston. His discovery led him to a water-saving aerator for faucets and a high-efficiency toilet.

Richard retrofitted bathrooms at his business and after 7 months the savings on his water bills were enough to cover his initial investment of$10,000.

After successfully cutting back on water usage, Richard and Leanne created Instant-Save Conservation Solutions Limited in May 2013. Its mission is “To reduce the waste of scarce resources by providing conservation tools and information that increases efficiencies without encouraging the spread of contaminants”.

According the the website InstandSaveJa.com “Instant $ave has obtained the sole distributorship of the Instant-Off Aerator and in the near future, intends to diversify its product line to include other instant savers of water and energy to save our precious resources.”

The company serves the “Jamaican Food Industry, Schools and Universities, Medical Facilities, Commercial Building and Homes.

The future looks bright for Richard and Leanne Spence. Can you partner with them to help conserve water and reduce water bills?

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner & InstandSaveJa.com

Foreign Business Invested US$567 million in Jamaica in 2013 but Less Than Record Inflow in 2008

How much money is being invested in Jamaica by foreign companies/countries? Today’s Jamaica Observer revealed some mildly encouraging data in its article “FDIs hit 5-year high for Jamaica.”

The article stated that “FOREIGN direct investments (FDI) into Jamaica hit a five-year high of US$567 million in 2013, as investments into the country continue to recover from the late 2000s global economic meltdown.”

Some of the money came from Chinese and tourism-related projects, Sagicor of Barbados, Blue Diamond of Canada, among others.

The inflow of money in 2013 represents a 16% increase over the amount invested in Jamaica in 2012. However it is below “the annual average over the previous decade, which stood closer to US$700 million. Jamaica had a record inflow of US$1.4 billion in 2008.”

The article outlined in details what sectors the foreign companies invested in and how other countries like Trinidad and Dominican Republic fared. Read more here.

TREND: Growing Demand for Aluminum by Automotive and Airline Industries

“The amount of aluminium body sheet content in North American vehicles is expected to quadruple by 2015 and increase tenfold by 2025 from 2012 levels, Alcoa said in a statement issued during the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit…” Source: Jamaica Gleaner

“On the demand side, aluminum consumption is expected to improve on a global basis spurred by the automotive and packaging industries — the key consumer market. The automobile market is also becoming increasingly aluminum-intensive, given the metal’s recyclability and light-weight properties. The global push to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles is expected to more than double the demand for aluminum in the auto industry by 2025. The airline industry is also expected to boost demand for the metal.” Source: Nasdaq

“Automakers’ demand for aluminum is growing rapidly as they seek to improve fuel efficiency, developing vehicles like Ford aluminum-intensive next generation F-150 pickup truck,unveiled in January.” Source: Nightly Business Report

“Aluminum content in vehicles is rising about 5 percent a year and growth will accelerate in the next decade as drivers seek improved fuel economy and lower emissions, according to Gayle Berry, a London-based analyst at Barclays Plc.” Source: Bloomberg

“Global automakers may increase use of the light metal to 249.5 kilograms per car in 2025 from 148.3 kilograms in 2009, the Arlington, Virginia-based Aluminum Association said last month. The association gave its forecast as Honda Motor Co. presented an Accord with increased aluminum content and General Motors Co. unveiled the Cadillac ATS and the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado at the Detroit auto show.” Source: Bloomberg

Alcoa in Jamaica

Alcoa’s roots in Jamaica go back to 1959 with the formation of Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcoa. The company mined bauxite for export, with the first shipment in 1963.

In 1972, the company began processing bauxite into alumina at a new refinery in Halse Hall, Clarendon, with a production capacity of 500,000 metric tonne per year (mtpy), and exporting alumina from its port facility at Rocky Point. The refinery’s capacity was upgraded to one million mtpy in 1999, and then to 1.25 million mtpy in 2003. The completion of a further upgrade in March 2007 lifted the production capacity of the refinery to 1.425 million tonnes per year.

In 1988, the Government of Jamaica acquired a 50 percent share in the operations. The resulting company was name Jamalco, with Alcoa as the managing partner. Following the expansion completed in 2007, Jamalco is now owned 55 percent by Alcoa and 45 percent by the Government of Jamaica.

Jamalco mines bauxite and refines it into alumina before exporting the alumina from its port at Rocky Point, Clarendon. On average, 2.5 tonnes of bauxite produce 1 tonne of alumina. The alumina is exported to aluminium smelters where it takes around 2 tonnes of alumina to produce 1 tonne of aluminium metal. Source: Alcoa

3 Types of Businesses That Will Succeed in Jamaica

Yaneek Page, an entrepreneur and business trainer has a great response in today’s Jamaica Gleaner to a question about what type of businesses are much needed in Jamaica.

Ms Page pointed out the harsh reality that Jamaica is “a very challenging environment for businesses and it takes much more than introducing a popular North American idea or business model to this market to be prosperous.” However she did not discourage the aspiring entrepreneur.

In her view the following businesses are much needed in Jamaica:

1. Businesses that export/earn foreign exchange

2. Businesses that locally produce/substitute what we import

3. Businesses that can solve pressing societal problems

In support of #2 she sited frightening data provided by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica: total imports for January 2014 were valued at US$441.893 million and unfortunately exports were about a quarter of that at US$114.595 million.

IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR THE MONEY SPENT ON BUYING PRODUCTS FROM ABROAD WAS CLOSE TO 4 TIMES THE MONEY RECEIVED SELLING PRODUCTS TO OTHER COUNTRIES. IMPORTS WERE ALMOST 4 TIMES EXPORTS. THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION!

In a recent article I mentioned a local farmer who was told that a chain of hotels is importing vegetables that are grown locally. Local farmers were not meeting the demands of the hotel chain and at times the quality and delivery times were unsatisfactory. In other words if local farmers did a better job of producing quality foods and delivering them on time, the hotel chain would keep more of their earnings in Jamaica.

To read the response by Yaneek Page please follow this link.

Online Course: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship (May 19)

This course assists aspiring entrepreneurs in developing great ideas into great companies. With strong economies presenting rich opportunities for new venture creation, and challenging economic times presenting the necessity for many to make their own job, the need to develop the skills to develop and act on innovative business opportunities is ever present.

Using proven content, methods, and models for new venture opportunity assessment and analysis, students will learn how to enhance their entrepreneurial mindset and develop their functional skill sets to see and act entrepreneurially. The initial steps to creating a business plan, and raising financial capital to launch the firm, are examined as well. Our goal is to demystify the startup process, and to help you build the skills to identify and act on innovative opportunities now, and in the future.

With this course, students experience a sampling of the ideas and techniques explored in the University of Maryland’s Online Master of Technology Entrepreneurship.

Course Syllabus

Week One: Entrepreneurial Perspective

Welcome

Course overview

What is entrepreneurship?

Who is an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation

The world’s most innovative companies

Types of innovations

Entrepreneurs and strategic decisions

The opportunity analysis canvas

Week Two: Entrepreneurial Mindset, Motivations and Behavoirs

Entrepreneurial mindset

Entrepreneurial motivations

Entrepreneurial behavoirs

Risk taking in entrepreneurial decision-making

Risk, uncertainty, and stakeholder involvement

Week Three: Industry Understanding

Knowledge conditions

Demand conditions

Industry lifecycle

Industry structure

Competitive advantage

Learning curve

Complementary assets

Reputation effects

MORE INFORMATION