Monday, January 31, 2011

State of the Internet

Some interesting stats about the current state of the Internet from (with my comments in blue)...


  • Used by 1.9 billion people
  • There are 2.9 billion known email accounts
  • 25% of email accounts are business or corporate accounts
  • 294 billion emails are sent daily
  • In 2010, 107 trillion emails were sent (as a number, that's more than seven times the size of the U.S. national debt)
  • Spam accounts for 89% of all email (I bet closer to 95% of my email is spam)


  • There are 255 million websites
  • 21.4 million websites were added in 2010, representing 8% of all websites
  • There are 109 million domain names
  • 7 million domain names were added in 2010, representing 6% of all domain names (what's really incredible is that there are any domain names left)

Internet Use

  • The Internet is used by 2 billion people
  • The number of people using the Internet increased 14% in 2010 (amazing that usage is continuing to grow at this rate)
  • The leading web browsers are Internet Explorer (47%), Firefox (31%), Chrome (15%), Safari (5%), and Opera (2%) (for all of the hype Apple generates, one would think Safari would enjoy greater share)
  • Internet use is greatest in 
    • Asia (42%)
    • Europe (24%)
    • North America (14%) (Wow!  I would not have guessed North America would trail Asia and Europe by this amount)
    • Latin America/Caribbean (10%)
    • Africa (6%)
    • Middle East (3%)
    • Australia/Oceania (1%)
  • Spam is greatest in 
    • Europe (39%)
    • Asia (34%)
    • Latin America/Caribbean (13%)
    • North America (10%) (I also would not have guessed North America would be underrepresented in spam - of course, the amount of offshore spam also suggests that there's not much we'll be able to do about it)
    • Africa (3%)
    • Australia/Oceania (1%)

Social Media

  • There are now 600 million Facebook users (gulp)
  • In 2010, 250 million Facebook users were added (big gulp)
  • Every day, 20 million Facebook apps are installed
  • 70% of Facebook users live outside of the U.S. (conversely, this means that 58% of the U.S. population is using Facebook)
  • During 2010, 100 million Twitter accounts were created
  • During 2010, 25 billion Tweets were sent
  • There are 152 million blogs

Online Media

  • Every day, 2 billion videos are watched on YouTube
  • Every minute, 35 hours of video is being uploaded to YouTube
  • Videos are watched by 84% of Internet users (how can 16% of Internet users spend any time online and avoid video?)
  • Only 14% of Internet users have uploaded a video
  • Every minute, 3 thousand images are uploaded to Flickr
  • More than 5 billion images are hosted on Flickr
  • More than 36 billion images were uploaded to Facebook in 2010 (this has gotta be a typo... right?)
So what does all of this mean for your business?  No matter what kind of business you operate, you better get wired or you will get wiped out.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Copper Theves

Plumbing contractor, Tom Sondergeld took a call from the supply house. An employee was trying to pick up some copper. He was wearing a company shirt and using a company purchase order. The only problem was he wasn't on the list of employees Sondergeld sent to the supply house.

When Sondergeld arrived at the supply house, he did find an employee. The employee wasn't the guy picking up the copper. The employee was waiting in the truck, while is buddy posed as an employee. Both got arrested.

If Sondergeld hadn't sent his suppliers a list of current employees and required his suppliers to check IDs, it's unlikely the wannabe copper thieves would have been caught. Read the full story.

What steps have you taken to protect your company against theft?

(c) 2011 Matt Michel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Power of Fun

Credit Andrew Twidwell from ABT Plumbing & Electric in Nevada City, CA for sharing this on Facebook....

As the video shows, fun matters. When we insert "fun" into business, we attract more people.

Fun can be as elaborate as the design of the Rainforest Cafe's restaurant or as simple as John Price's Hawaiian theme for his Texarkana, Texas company, Aloha Aire.

How can you put fun in your business?

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's Your Company's Hassle Factor?

How friendly are your policies to your customers?  How easy are you to do business with?  What's your company's hassle factor?

My wife bought a couple of pallets of pavers for a backyard project from Home Depot.  When it came time to return the left overs, we took them to a different Home Depot and were informed we could only get store credit.  We could get cash if we returned them to the original Home Depot.

I looked at the big stack of very heavy pavers we unloaded from the SUV on to the cart, which we wheeled from the parking lot to the return desk.  I didn't want to push the cart back to the parking lot, reload the SUV, drive to the original store, unload them to a different cart, and push them to that store's return desk.  I protested.  The clerk didn't budge.  We ended up taking the store credit.

Still irritated, my next home improvement purchase was made from Lowe's.  I bought a couple of items I didn't need and returned them.  Because I wrote a check I expected to get the "We need to issue store credit or wait 31 days for the check to clear" nonsense.  To my surprise, I was handed cash back, without a fuss, without arguments, without a hassle.

To be honest, I don't care whether I buy from Home Depot, Lowe's, or some other store.  Yet, going forward I intend to buy from Lowe's.  The retailer has won my business.  And it was easy to win.  All they had to do was be a little easier to do business with than the competition.  Price was not a factor.

Unless Lowe's does something to blow it, I'll drive past their competitors and go out of my way to buy from them.  Why?  Fewer hassles.

Just like I'm agnostic about home improvement purchases, your customers probably don't care who they call for service.  Simply by answering your phones after 5:00 p.m., allowing consumers to schedule service online, offering service on the weekend, accepting credit cards, and otherwise being easier to do business with than your competition will win you business.  Ask yourself how you can reduce your hassle factor.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Kid in the Gym

Tonight the importance of practice was driven home.

After a run on the treadmill at the city gym, I walked a lap on the indoor track to cool off.  The track is on the second floor of the gym and circles the exercise equipment and looks down on the basketball courts.  As I walked by the second court, I noticed a kid shooting baskets by himself.

The kid was no more than 13 or 14.  He would toss the basketball in the air with a spin, grab it on the bounce, and drain a basket from beyond the 3-point line.  After he drained one, he would move a few feet to his right and repeat the process.

Spin.  Bounce.  Shoot.  Swoosh.  Move.

Again and again.  While I walked around the court, the kid drained five 3-point shots in a row.  Each was taken from a different point.

I thought, "This kid's going to be awesome when he gets to high school."

Then, I wondered how many baskets he sank before he could hit five 3-point shots in a row.  I wondered how many shots he would take tonight.  He was by himself.  Spin.  Bounce.  Shoot.  Swoosh  Move.  Again. And again.  And again.

He was barely in his teens and it was clear he must have practiced thousands of hours to reach his current level of proficiency.  This was for a game.

How much do you practice for business?  How much do your people practice.

Once, after a presentation at a sales meeting, one of the salespeople came up to me and asked how I seemed to know what was coming next, before the slide appeared.  I brushed off the question with a joke, but the real answer was practice.  Before I gave the presentation at the sales meeting, I gave it over and over again with an audience of none.

How often do your salespeople practice their presentations?  How about your technicians and plumbers?  How easy do you make it for them to practice?  What can you create more practice opportunities?  Is it role playing?  Is it creating and recording scenarios for them to respond to when driving to and from appointments?

If we're professionals, we should practice at least as hard as a middle school athlete.  So think about it.  How can you help your people practice?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marketing plan musts for 2011

Everyone wants 2011 to be better than last year, but only a few plumbers will take active steps to ensure improvement and prepare a marketing plan. If you haven't already created a marketing plan for 2011, here's what you can do now to ensure improvement this year.

Read more in Contractor Magazine

Do You Cut Off the Ham in Your Company?

One of Zig Ziglar's classic stories involves a woman who cuts off the end of her ham before baking it.  As he discovers why, he learns a fundamental truth that affects many businesses.  What is it?  You'll have to read the story in Contracting Business.