Category Archives: Technology

What your e-mail address says about you

CNN has a story today about “What your email address says about you“, largely in response to Facebook releasing their pseudo-email platform.

The story was tongue in cheek, but many business people (especially older ones) don’t realize the message they are sending with their email address.  If you have any type of business or professional service (real estate agent, CPA, lawyer, restaurant, etc) there is no excuse to not have an email address @yourcompanyname.comIt costs nothing.

Here’s my favorite from CNN’s article:

@aol.com = You are over 70 and still have the same email address you did in 1997

Fair or not, if you send an e-mail from an Aol account, the recipient is likely to expect it to be spam, a forward of some thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory or pictures of kittens.

Please – STOP using AOL, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail

First impressions are everything.

If you are running a business (real estate investing, real estate agency, brokerage, etc) and you are using AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Comcast, RoadRunner, SBC Global or any other “consumer” or “free” email account to communicate, you are broadcasting to the world that you are a novice, and you’re running your business out of your garage.

Using a free email account for business communication is like wearing shorts, stinking, and showing up late to a business meeting – it says I don’t care enough about my image to spend 30 minutes and a few dollars fixing myself up to be presentable.

Here is how to upgrade your image and never again lose business because of your email account:

Step 1: Register a Domain Name.  You may already have a web site, if so use that domain.  If not, domains are $7 per year.

Step 2: Register for Google Apps.  Google will provide you with up to 50 email accounts at your domain name (yourname@yourdomain.com) along with document management and a host of other services – all for free.  You can check your email via the web, iPhone, Outlook, Blackberry or just about any other device.

Step 3: Configure your domain to send email through Google Apps.  Once you have a Google account setup, you can view instructions for how to do this for various domain registrars (Godaddy, Network Solutions, etc)

Step 4: Set your AOL/Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo/etc account to forward ALL incoming mail to your new yourname@yourdomain.com email account hosted by Google.

Step 5: Never, ever again tell the world you don’t know what you are doing by handing out an email address that isn’t professional.  You won’t miss out on any email from people that have your old account because of the forwarding – but from this day forth only give out your professional email address when in a professional setting.

The entire cost of fixing this glaring hole in your image is the yearly cost of a domain name – about $7.  Sound too technical?  Your local neighborhood 13 year old would be happy to to help for a 6 pack of Coke!

When NOT to go public by GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons

It seems that nearly every business owner out there has dreams of taking their company public.  This is especially true in the technology industry where you can be losing money but generate a windfall of cash by offering shares to the public.

An article earlier this month by Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy.com outlines why, after doing all the filing needed and receiving SEC approval, he decided to withdraw his registration with the SEC to become a public company.

One of the primary reasons cited in his post are the stringent accounting methods that the SEC would require them to use if they wanted to be public.

With the ridiculous Sarbanes-Oxley Act requirements, many companies (and their the CEOs who are now ultimately responsible for financial errors) are deciding to either not go public, or to go public in a foreign market to avoid the overbearing requirements of the US market.

SOX was a typical over-reaction to the Enron/Tyco/etc scandals of the past few years.  Just like preventing you from bringing hair gel on an airplane probably doesn’t make you any safer, but makes you feel safer because “at least they did something“, many of the SOX requirements don’t do anything to stop fraud, while making it much harder to do business as a public company.

Do we really want US companies to feel like that have to go to foreign markets if they want public investment?  Business is what drives our economy.  Let’s figure out how to make it easier for business owners to operate, not hamstring their efforts to grow (and create jobs, and buy buildings, and pay taxes).

Bob Parsons of GoDaddy – 10 Rules

This is a great posting by Bob Parsons, the founder and CEO of GoDaddy, and former founder of Parsons Technology (sold to Intuit for $64 Million).

One of the interesting things from his business history is that with both of the companies he founded he was the sole investor.  He never raised money and created two companies with revenues in excess of $100M.

Of the 16 rules Parsons has come up with, here are a few that are my favorite:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not
much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear
people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My response to that is
simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop
improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop
improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be
better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese
concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge
advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton
said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than
a perfect plan tomorrow.”

You can view Parsons’ entire post at Bob Parsons – My 16 Rules.

Spot Runner – TV Advertising Made Easy

SpotrunnerHave you seen Spot Runner?

It has always been difficult for small businesses to effectively advertise on television.  Quality commercials cost a lot to produce, and for those that try to shoestring it..  We’ll we’ve all see those poor quality commercials that look like they came off a VCR tape.  Does that help your brand or hurt it?

Spot Runner leverages national buying power for commercial spots, and has commercial templates that allow you to insert your phone number/voice over without spending tens of thousands (or more) on video production.  All this at a fraction of what it costs to go produce your own commercial and then pay top rates to have it play.

If you do very much marketing at all, I suggest you check out SpotRunner.com, they will be a company to watch in 2006.

Fast Home Offers – Web 2.0

Over the past weekend we completed the launch of our new web site over at Fast Home Offers.

The primary catalyst for this move was to create a more streamlined presence that uses the latest “Web 2.0″ type of design methods and is easier for home owners and investors to use.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Fast Home Offers is the largest lead generation company for real estate investors in North America.  We have nearly 10,000 home owners each month contact us to sell their house and we connect them with professional investors around the world.

If you have any web development needs, be sure to contact The Murph Group.  They have designed may of our web sites and I highly recommend them.

Zillow.com > Real Estate Comps

Logo Zillow.com finally launched in “beta test” mode yesterday with free home valuation estimates and data on over 60 million homes in the US.

This is the long awaited of often speculated about business started by Richard Barton, the founder of Expedia, the online travel giant.  Barton has raised over $32 million for Zillow to date.

Zillow’s business model is based on advertising, although I believe that will change to focus on lead generation along the lines of HouseValues and RealEstate.com once they reach critical mass.

The interface for Zillow is very easy to use, and real estate investors may find it of particular interest, allowing them to run quick comps to ballpark the value of a property before investigating further.

Real Estate Investing System

Do you have a system?

I met with a large investor the other day and he (like me) is very systems oriented. What I mean by this is that if you are running a business (i.e. real estate investing) you MUST come up with a documented, reproducible system for everything you do.

So many small business owners “wing it”. While this may work while you are a company of one or two, your growth will be limited because you will not be able to delegate critical tasks to employees.

In the context of residential real estate investing you’ll spend a lot of time analyzing deals, lining up contractors, deciding what repairs you want to do and figuring out how to sell.

Here are a few ideas for investors on things to systemize:

- Do the same basic repairs to every property, using the same products (same carpet, same paint, same cabinets etc. in every rehab)

- Setup rules around what offers you’ll make on properties. While most investors have a basic formula in their head, clearly define them and write them down.

- Know your exit before you enter. You should have a very clear idea of what
your exit strategy for the property is before you buy.

- Documents/contracts/forms. Most real estate investors are in the dark
ages when it comes to automating the many documents required in a real estate transaction. If you are entering any information more then once (sellers name, property address and legal description) you are doing it too much. Technology can be a great tool here.

- The offer process. If you make an offer how soon do you follow up? How do you counter if they say no? If they decide they want to wait a few months how do you follow up?

An excellent resource for business owners that want to create systems are The E-Myth Revisited and (if you really want the details) E-Myth Mastery. I highly recommend both of these books!