Ahh the French! Wake up FIDUCIAL!

America

America (Photo credit: acb)

Ahhh… The French!

Fiducal, please…. wake up.

Is it possible a foreign owned company trying to grow in America is really so pompous to believe that they can force their style of business on the American customer as well as the American employee? It astonishes me, honestly.

Cutting costs is important in any business, especially when the economy is struggling. However, there is fine line between cutting costs… and cutting off your blood supply and your company’s life line. OBVIOUS POINT: If you cut your staff to the point that no organic growth is possible and to the point that your existing customers no longer have a relationship with their personal contact – YOU HAVE JUST CUT OFF YOUR NOSE TO SPITE YOUR FACE.

This is America… NOT France. In France, employees can be treated poorly perhaps, but unemployment is so high… they will stay. In France, the labor laws are very stringent, so much so that it is very difficult to fire employees… thus again, they will stay. It actually works quite well for both sides… IN FRANCE! However… (news flash)…. We are not in France.

Imagine a French owned company that tries to instill these kinds of values here, with the American workforce and worse… with the American clientele in an a professional accounting service industry! I see it happening daily and it is so sad. Every day I get phone calls, texts and emails that another CPA was fired and their work was pushed into some other remote office where there is NO professional staff (i.e., no CPAs, no EAs, only receptionists and bookkeepers with a couple years of experience).

Guess what, folks? You simply cannot do that to Americans, not only when they are an employee, but especially if they are a client/customer.

Hello? Am I getting through?!?

What’s worse is that this is happening in an industry that relies on personal professional services.

Imagine the professional service industries in accounting, legal, and medicine. Clients build solid relationships with their attorneys, their doctors, and their CPAs, right? It should be obvious that the company can NOT simply tell the clients they now must use someone else, much less someone who has no credentials!

Imagine if your accountant or doctor were fired from the company/office it worked for (to cut costs) and you were told that your work/medical care would be processed by someone in another office, without credentials (i.e., a bookkeeper or med intern), even worse, without your permission. It’s ludicrous.

How well would you take that? Not well, right? What would you do? Find someone else that you like, right?

You have the RIGHT to decide who you give your business to! Absolutely you do.

If I decided to grow in a foreign country… the FIRST THING I would do is hire a manager to oversee those operations. I would MAKE SURE that manager was FROM THAT COUNTRY. The last thing I would do is be so SMUG to think that my American style of management (no matter how successful it was here) would work equally well in ANOTHER country.

The French could take some pointers from this way of thinking. Just a thought as you pour over your financial statements. Sure, you may see an overall decrease in your expenses… BUT if that decrease is also accompanied with the same or worsening decrease in your sales/revenues.. guess what? You’ve been duped by your new manager. Again, just a thought to mull over. Geez.

Poor company. At one time, I loved it as if it were my very own. Because of that, it grew. Pretty simple. Now it is being run by the blind and the american employees are scrambling to find other employment before the hammer falls upon their own offices. How pitiful.

I certainly hope the owner wakes up soon. I’ll be waiting by the phone by the way.

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MY OWN QUICK TIPS – to determine if your blog or web reader comments are from Spammers, Spam Bots… or from actual legitimate readers and followers

Blog spammers, web spammers and spam robot web crawlers (spam bots) are much trickier than regular Email spammers.

Spambot

Spambot (Photo credit: eelke dekker)

Be careful to protect your content from these clever spammers. They disguise themselves as genuine readers and followers. They post flattering and complimentary comments on your articles and posts, hoping you will approve them and allow them to be posted on your site. Once they get on your site, they often steal your content, mislead your true readers to their own site, and even sell your content to their own customers by using link-backs to your site! 

When reviewing your  reader comments, there are a few simple things you can do to often tell immediately if you have a spammer comment or spam bot comment:

  • If you allow comments on your site, set it up so that the commenter must provide an email address in order to make a comment. This is very important and an easy way to often (but not always) see an obvious spammer comment. For example, if their email address is something like jerry@discountdrugsonline.com (fictitious email, I hope) you may have a spammer that is trying to push his own website and products.
  • Mouse-over the commenter’s Login Name (not the email). Usually hosting sites and blog providers like WordPress will provide a mouse-over pop-up picture of the commenter’s own site instantly (without you ever having to actually click and enter their site). If you see a pop-up site picture that looks like a site that sells products or services you probably have a spammer. However, be careful! Many of these spammers are very clever and have a facade mouse-over site that may even appear as a real blogger site.
  • Read the words of the comment itself. It the commenter speaks specifically about something in your article or web page, that is great and a good chance that it is coming from a legitimate reader and not a spammer. If however, the comment is VERY general and doesn’t mention anything specific about your topic, be cautious as this is the most common give-away of a spammer or spam bot.
  • Look at the grammar in the comment. If the grammar is ‘off’ and you see certain words misplaced or used incorrectly, you probably have a spammer or spam bot comment. Often spammers or spam bots will use article spinner tools. These tools will take a general comment and switch around verbs and nouns, which allows them to post the same comment on various posts without being caught by the search engines and the spam catcher applications. This doesn’t happen as often with live human spammers, but even they are beginning to use this tool to expedite their efforts. It’s pretty easy to spot these comments and it is a good indication of a spammer.
  • Look at the IP address of the commenter. If you see multiple comments using the same IP address (even if the last three digits are different) there is a good chance you are being spammed.
  • You also have the ability set up your blog or website so that ALL comments must be approved by you before they are posted. I personally chose NOT to do this and it has worked fine on my blog site – but only because of the Akismet tool. Any comments that have been automatically posted (so far) have always been by legitimate readers. Further, all spammer comments have been caught (so far) by Akismet and held in my Spammer Box – for my review, my approval, or my deletion. How you set up your own blog or web site is your choice.
  • Utilizing a spam catcher tool such as Akismet will help catch spammer and spam bot comments automatically and place them in your Spam folder for your review. Upon reviewing them, you can decide whether to approve them for posting or delete them permanently. Most site providers offer this type of tool free of charge.

Happy Blogging!

Ooops! Learn from my mistakes – Tips EVERY blogger should know about SPAMMERS

no spam!Okay, I admit I am new blogger.

Today I made a HUGE ‘newbie blogger’ mistake that I’m sure many bloggers and website owners haven fallen prey to.

My hope is by sharing what I have learned it will help others to avoid the same mistakes.

First, you should know my entire purpose in creating this blog was to provide helpful, free content for individuals and businesses relating to small business issues by using my CPA knowledge and my Sales and Marketing background as the basis for my content. The intent is to provide this information FREE, without pushing my CPA services at all. I strongly believe this is the only way to actually be heard in this day and age, especially with so much media and push advertising constantly being shoved in front of our eyes and ears. So far, I have enjoyed this immensely – BUT…

I am learning some costly mistakes along the way, including the topic of this post, which is about BLOG and WEB SPAMMERS.

Having had my WordPress blog site up for about a month, I noticed today that I had over 300 comments sitting in the SPAM folder on my blog site (and over 700 since I started blogging). When I opened the folder and read these comments, they all seemed VERY complimentary to each of my articles and I didn’t understand why there were in my Spam folder at all! So like so many new, beginning, naive bloggers… I deleted the obvious SPAM comments, and simply approved the others, thereby allowing them to be posted. Ooops… big mistake!

What I have now discovered is that by approving those comments, I have fallen prey to spamming robots (called ‘spam bots’) and even hired human blog-web spammers. To make matters worse, this can affect my Google and search ratings! This is certainly not a good way to start out blogging, but now that I know this I want to SHARE this information to anyone that follows my blog and to all new bloggers out there.

As long as we learn and help others with our own mistakes, I believe it will be returned to us (in some form) in the future.

My blog is a simple, totally free blog site with WordPress. Even with the free version, anyone can utilize many of their free plug-in widgets and applications. One of these plug-in applications that helps to block these blog and web spammers is something called Akismet (I had never heard of it before today). I am sure there are other applications provided by other blog and web sites, but this particular application is utilized by WordPress (just FYI).  Anyway, I discovered this tool today as I was reviewing all of these ‘wonderful’ comments that were placed in my Spam folder – and then realized that this ‘Akismet’ application had been the culprit that placed them there. At first I was irritated (they were good comments after all, I thought). I became curious and wondered WHY it did this and HOW it determined what was spam and what was a legitimate comment.  So I dug a little deeper and realized this application was actually protecting me exactly the way it was intended to do. It was actually my own action of un-spamming and approving those comments that allowed myself to be bamboozled by these Spammers! 

These spam bots and personal spammers are quite tricky! They post flattering and complimentary comments on your blog and web site for the sole purpose of having you approve their comments so they are posted on your site. Once you do this, THEY SELL YOUR CONTENT and often entice your readers to follow them to their site to sell them their own products. Often they even sell link-backs to YOUR OWN BLOG for small amounts of money to their customers! They do this without your permission of course, and certainly without sharing their revenues.

Again, shame on me for not researching this BEFORE approving those comments. The price paid will be mine, as it will now take me the same amount of time to go back and delete all of those comments as it did when I originally approved them. Fortunately only my time is lost….. for this mistake.

This certainly shows the vulnerability we are constantly exposed to in our technologically dependent society – and often without ever realizing it.

Below is the link of a short article that is a MUST READ regarding 5 things every blogger should know and spam bots and web spammers.

This particular article is from ‘Akismet’ but I am only suggesting it for the content it provides. My intent for this post is not to suggest or recommend Akismet or WordPress. This information will apply to any web or blog site and probably any type of web-spam blocking tool that is available through your own web or blog provider.  I hope you find it as useful and helpful as I did. Enjoy!

FIVE THINGS EVERY BLOGGER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SPAM: How we stop comment and trackback spam.

CPA offering no-gimmick, completely free online answers to your questions relating to tax, accounting, business growth, and entrepreneurship. This is the KEY to growing your own business as well – so even if you don’t have a question, listen up anyway, folks!

Years ago (in the year 2000, I believe) I created a website that allowed people to ask CPA questions online. I charged (if I remember correctly) $9.95 for simple personal questions, $19.95 for basic business questions, and then each category or complexity increasing from there forward, increased the price accordingly. It wasn’t a bad idea and I had a GREAT domain for it (CPAquestion.com – which I now wish I would have at least kept that domain ownership – ah, but we all love hindsight).

Back then, I had no idea how to get people to come to that website, so I went to bulletin boards and basically spammed or used PUSH-marketing to drive people to the site.  It worked ‘fairly’ well (THEN), but I couldn’t get enough exposure to actually make a living, so in the end, I dropped the idea.

If I knew then what I know now I would probably have made it a huge success, at least for a while.

 That idea wouldn’t work very well today. And my method of getting clients to my site would have really failed.

  • The entire marketing and branding demand has changed – and now consumers, clients, and the public are in control of what they see, what they want, and how they want it.
  • The traditional media and government are no longer in control of what consumers and citizens see and discover.
  • It is a NEW ERA – and companies that don’t realize this quickly, will continue to lose money on advertising the old way.

Push marketing, spamming, direct mail, radio, print advertising, yellow pages, television, etc. – IS OUT. Did you hear me? It is GONE.

There is only one way that companies that do not already have nationwide brand recognition will be ‘heard’ going forward, and there are three main things to remember in using it for it to actually work and be effective:

SOCIAL MEDIA is the only avenue where companies will be heard and followed to build their company brand and grow from this point forward.

That’s a bold statement, I know – but the facts show it to be true.

Studies show that by the year 2020, over 75% of businesses will be run by people who are TODAY between the ages of 18 and 30. Think about that. How do these ‘Gen Y’ individuals communicate now?

  • They rarely even use their mobile phones for voice. They use text messaging instead – for personal communication certainly, but now even for business.
  • They will Google something quickly on their laptop or mobile phone, without ever thinking of picking up a Yellow Pages book.
  • They fast-forward right through those television ads and they switch channels on the radio as soon a commercial comes on air. (In fact most have 10,000 songs on their iPod or listen to commercial free websites such as Pandora).
  • Newspapers are now online, and if there is a topic of interest, it can be found at the click of a button on their phone or computer.

The point is THINGS HAVE CHANGED and social media is just about the only avenue a company has to have their message ‘heard’ now and especially in the coming years.

But be careful, simply signing up for multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, etc.) is NOT going to work if you don’t have PASSION for what you are doing along with the following three things:

1)      GOOD CONTENT – If you simply blast on your social pages (or worse, others posts) what you do, and how you do it… you will FAIL in addition to making others annoyed or angry.  People can spot SPAM or push-advertising so quickly now, it’s meaningless to try that angle. Instead, people want good content that helps THEM. And they want it for FREE. If you can provide good, helpful content in your genre of business, you need NOT ever insert advertising information about your company, other than perhaps your signature line. If people need or want what you do, and you are providing good content that helps them, they will be attracted to you and/or your business anyway. This is not expensive… but it will be time-consuming.

2)      ADAPTING TO SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS AND APPLICATIONS – What is hip and popular today will certainly be different by this time next year. You must understand what these Social Media accounts actually do and you must use them effectively. Pinterest is not the same type of tool as LinkedIn or Twitter.  You must study each tool, each application, and use them ALL. It’s not difficult individually, nor is it expensive, but again, it is time-consuming and it changes constantly.

3)      MAKE IT PERSONAL – This is the final key to building business using social media. Answer EVERY question or comment – and make it about helping them, not selling them on your product.  Social media is not personal, unless you make it personal. If you provide good content, and a client follows you because you’ve used the right tool or application to be ‘heard’… but then you don’t have that immediate response or interaction with them, they will probably click the mouse to the next article, blog, tweet, or photo. Again… this is not expensive, but absolutely necessary and time-consuming.

 

I no longer own the domain CPAquestion.com – but I do have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, etc. (see all the lovely links below) – and I study each day learning these and other social media tools.

The purpose of all this is to simply to help businesses grow, which is my passion.

  • Gaining new tax or accounting clients has been the fortunate result (and can be for you too!) but it is an indirect result of effectively using social media to help others, without asking for their business.

This is the key to the future of business marketing. 

And so, because I am a CPA and a motivated entrepreneur, I would love to hear from you if you have a question or comment or topic relating to helping businesses grow and/or accounting & tax. There is no charge, no catch, no follow-up spam, or gimmick. I only want to provide good, free content relating to accounting, tax, or business growth – which is my passion.

If you don’t have social media account, feel free to email me directly at michele@cloudcpaservices.com. If your comment or question will help others, I will share it (removing any confidential information) so others can benefit. If it isn’t something that will benefit others, that is perfectly fine also!  I will still respond, and help in any way that I can. Some of my social accounts are below, if you have a preference for your question or comment or topic.

Michele Robbins, CPA

Email: Michele@cloudcpaservices.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cparobbins

Blog: www.cloudcpaservices.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cparobbins (@cparobbins)

LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michele-robbins-cpa/19/756/11

Pinterest Profile: www.pinterest.com/cparobbins

Tumblr Account: www.tumblr.com/cloudcpaservices

 

Monetize your passion

I believe you can monetize ANYTHING you are passionate about. If you aren’t doing what you love, why aren’t you? I would love to hear some things that YOU are passionate about and would love to do, but cannot imagine how to monetize it… I bet I can come up with several ideas for you. Post them here or on my FB page or any other site this post is linked to. Let’s have fun with this…

Life is short. Do what you love and then you’ll never work another day in your life. (Well, you’ll actually be working your butt off, but you’ll be doing what you love, so is that really work? You decide)

Thinking of starting up your own business? Without a passionate mission – seriously, don’t bother!

Having your own business has wonderful benefits, but also comes with huge risks, challenges at every turn, and competition. HOWEVER… if you have true purpose, a mission, a PASSION for doing it, I believe ANY business can start, grow and become successful. Yes, ANY BUSINESS.

There are a few things you should have first, but only ONE that is non-negotiable. The good news is that MONEY is not necessarily any of these things.

PASSION. You must have a passion, a pure love for what you are actually going to do in your business.  This is the single most important thing to remember – if nothing else from this post. If you are a CPA for example, but are not absolutely passionate about helping clients in your CPA work… please… don’t bother starting your own practice. Instead, go work for someone else’s firm – or – better yet, go change your career entirely.  SERIOUSLY.

  • Let’s face it – It’s tough to pick your career in college only to determine later in life all the skills and expertise you have simply don’t inspire you. If that is the case… it really is OKAY to choose to do something else! In fact, PLEASE do. I understand it will be hard to walk away from that history and your skills you’ve built up, but if you aren’t passionate and full-blown in love with what you are doing now or what you are going to be doing… chances are you are already UNHAPPY and chances are your new business is most certainly going to fail. My point.. If you aren’t absolutely happy with your career, you job, or even your learned skill – CHANGE THEM NOW or go do something you ARE passionate about. You only have ONE life.
  • DO NOT START a business simply because you have those certain skills and want to do it on your own to make money. This is why most new start-ups begin – and it is also the exact same reason that most new start-ups FAIL.  Skills, knowledge and wanting money – are what you will do, how you will do it, and the hopeful result of what you will do – but unfortunately, this is simply not enough to succeed.
  • If however, you do it because you LOVE it and BELIEVE in what you are going to do – then nothing will be able to stop you from using those skills (or obtaining them if you don’t have them yet). Then, and in my opinion ONLY then, are you starting your own business in a way to be successful. Remember, making money and profits will be the RESULT of your passionate work, but it can never be the PURPOSE of wanting to start your own business.

SKILLS and/or KNOWLEDGE: Skills and knowledge for what you are going to do are obviously necessary in your new business.  This comes second to PASSION. If you already have the knowledge or skills and are passionate about your work – fabulous!  If not, you need to determine if you can attain them. If you are truly passionate about it, I bet you can, and I bet you will figure a way to get the skills or knowledge you need.  Again – It all comes back to PASSION.

BUSINESS GOALS & A PLAN – Write it out. Adjust it. Follow it. Adjust to it. Your passion will ensure you reach those goals.

  • Without passion, a plan means nothing
  • Without passion, you will not be inspired to make goals, much less reach them.

Notice money is not included above. I believe if you are seriously passionate about what business you intend to start, you will FIGURE a way to get what you need. With passion, you will be amazed at how creative you will become in getting what you need to get started.

With passion, you can honestly monetize just about anything – especially with social media which has never been available to us before. There are a million things you can do with just about ANYTHING you are truly passionate about.  Monetizing your passion, will come naturally if you spread and share your passion by providing CONTENT (things, tips, tools, resources, your knowledge) – and especially if you can share it in a way that helps others.

The reason companies fail is because they don’t have a passionate mission that is followed and believed throughout the company.

One last thing:

Please forget initial or new product MARKET RESEARCH!

Doing research to determine if you have relative pricing or if your vendors are appropriate, etc., is different from what I’m discussing here. That is market knowledge, and certainly worthy of doing regularly. What I am talking about is research done to find products or services to sell to clients.

Why do companies try to find out what their clients or prospective clients want? Why aren’t they instead finding clients that want what they have and what they are passionately providing as their initial business purpose?  

If you really think about it, this is an absurd concept, and yet companies spend millions on this. This is no different from me walking up to a stranger and saying, “Hi. I would like to be your friend, so would you please tell me what kind of clothes you would like me to wear, what kind of hairstyle to have, and how to speak to you?” It’s ridiculous, right? And yet companies do it every day.

Companies do this for one reason: They do not have a passionate purpose or mission. Instead they are pursuing PROFITS. This is a big mistake and the main reason companies fail.

Instead… if you are PASSIONATE about your new business and you simply spread content about your knowledge, customers and clients that already believe what you believe will be ATTRACTED TO YOU. Isn’t that much easier and what we want anyway?

And guess what? You never have to change your hairstyle.

Start with Passion, then knowledge, then a plan.

But… without passion, don’t bother.