Wednesday, July 19, 2017

William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White, The Elements of Style, 2d Ed. (MacMillan, 1972)

I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets here, but a fair amount of atrocious writing is produced by otherwise esteemed members of the lawyering profession.

To be fair, a lot of the turgid and opaque prose is baked into forms of documents that have been used since time immemorial and read about as easily as Beowulf in original Old English₁.  In many cases particular wording has, over the years, acquired a judicial gloss with which few practitioners wish to tamper, even if they were so inclined (and most of us aren’t).

But in a profession in which effective communication is at the heart of what we do, too often what we write is not a model of clarity, and frequently induces bouts of head-scratching among those who must decipher our meaning. Unfortunately, the same can be said of what we receive from some of our entrepreneurial clients, particularly in a Google-enabled universe where finding examples of certain documents or language is so easy. These clients also have the quite excellent excuse that their focus is economic activity, not the nuances of language.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Watch this Space!

We at entreVIEW are pretty proud of this little blog. Sure, we’ve earned the immensely prestigious 25 Top Minnesota Blawg Award in the past, but it goes far beyond external affirmations.

Or does it? And how come this post is all about navel-gazing and not something really interesting, or quirky, or quirkily interesting?

Well, if you must know, we had a great post we were preparing for this spot, but at the last minute we were told by the author to hold it. Why? Because the New York Times had indicated to him that it might be interested in publishing it, but only if it hadn’t been published elsewhere first. If you look up the phrase “punch above your weight,” the dictionary will undoubtedly offer this as just one example.

So, dear readers, stay tuned. You never know when something you read here might be a scoop lusted after by some hoity-toity mainstream media outlet!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cool New Technology for Fresh, Fun, Growing Businesses

I’ve owned my retail business since 2011, and in that time, I haven’t made any big technological changes. We’ve stuck with the same point of sale system, the same website providers, and the same email marketing service. But this year, I totally caught the bug and started checking out some new technology, which has turned out not only to be a good investment for sales purposes (our numbers have grown every month), but also fun for our employees and customers. There are so many technologies and services available, it’s hard to sort through them all, but here are a few of my personal favorites for small businesses:
  1. Zipwhip.  This service allows customers to text your regular business phone number, where you or any of your staff can respond easily. We receive messages in three ways: 1) on the zipwhip website, where we can also fill in detailed customer info, send mass text campaigns (reply “yes” to receive a $10 coupon!), or set up auto-replies to answer outside business hours; 2) via pop-up notifications on a computer screen, so we never miss a message; or 3) through the smartphone app, which alerts me every time a message comes in and allows me (or one of my managers who has downloaded the app) to answer just like any regular text.  Prices start at $35/month, and referral credit is readily available. We initially started using this as a “text to order” experiment, hoping to make it even easier for customers to order from us than a competitor’s website.  However, it has additionally turned into a round-the-clock communication platform for our customers, who seem to love using it for questions of all kinds. It’s definitely improved their access to us, and in a personal, yet non-intimidating way.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

GOLF SEASON IS HERE! BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GOLFERS?

When it comes to golf, I am a purist. Perhaps it is because I grew up playing “neighborhood golf” (a topic for another post), but given my druthers I’d prefer the game remain unchanged. I was a member of my high-school’s varsity team, and continue to use golf as my main form of summer leisure.

Golf requires formality and nuance, mental toughness, finesse, competitiveness, and a willingness to endure the duration of a round that can (at times) feel like a marathon. Hitting a pure shot every now and then helps too, but in my opinion the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and tackle the challenge of the next unique hole makes up for an entire day of bad shots.

In Minnesota, I am not alone in my admiration of the game. In fact, Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state – pretty incredible if you consider that our golf season is only seven months long. . . in a good year.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ernest Shackleton: Explorer and Entrepreneur

One of five (yes, five) new musicals I saw during my recent Memorial Day weekend trip to NYC was an off-Broadway show called Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, and yes, it got me thinking about the qualities of a successful entrepreneur.

For those who don’t know, Ernest Shackleton was a famous British explorer who wanted to be the first person to lead an expedition to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. In August of 1914 he departed with a crew of 28 people. After his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in ice (and later sunk), he and his crew were forced to abandon their quest. Remarkably, the entire crew survived the trip, which took over two years and included 497 days without touching land, mostly stuck on floating ice!

So, what does this have to do with entrepreneurship? Well, many people have written about Shackleton, even about Shackleton as entrepreneur. Most reference how his eternal optimism—even in difficult times—and keen leadership ability were the reason for the successful ending to the story.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Leveraging the Power of Social Media: IP Protection + Enforcement

Facebook has 1.9 billion monthly users. Instagram has 700 million monthly users. Twitter has 328 million monthly users. The number of users on these platforms is astounding and makes social media a powerful source of marketing.

Many entrepreneurs are effectively leveraging the power of social media and online marketing to increase customer engagement and build brand equity at a relatively low cost. Equally important to optimizing your social media campaign is developing and implementing best practices to proactively protect your intellectual property from infringement and take action against others who are infringing your content. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Account Security. As social media users become more and more savvy, the risk of business accounts being hacked continues to increase. It has become increasingly easy for criminals to gain access to accounts that use only standard security procedures such as a username and password. Getting hacked could put you in danger, cost you money, or be damaging to your reputation. Enabling two-factor authenticators, also known as 2FA, is an easy and free measure of additional security that is worth implementing. 2FA requires not only a password and username, but also something that you have on you, i.e. a piece of information only you should know or have immediately on hand (such as a physical token). FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (and most other social media platforms) offer 2FA. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Does your software make you WannaCry?

The recent WannaCry ransomware attack brought back memories of my own experience with ransomware more than four years ago. 

Thankfully, that was the only time I fell prey to this cruel malware that encrypts the user’s files and demands payment for unlocking them.  At the time, I was annoyed. It was an inconvenience to be unable to use my home computer, but it wasn’t a crisis.  I could afford the time to find a way to decrypt the ransomware (or let my husband figure it out while I was at work, although I think he might have preferred that I just pay the ransom…)