Suggestions for Interviewees, Please!

2013 was an amazing first year living as an entrepreneurial nomad and I met and interviewed so many amazing people that I’m still posting about my journey in Latin America. Now it’s time for me to explore a little further though, and I would love your suggestions about where to go and whom to talk to.

Leave a comment below or hit me up on social media to let me know where you think I should go and whom you think I should interview. Thanks in advance!

Catamaran Sailing from Colombia to Panama

It’s the final week of my suggested travel bucket list for you 🙁 Not to worry though, I’ve still been traveling and I will have some more posts for you as well as some tips for how to make the most of your travel and how to get the best travel deals.

Anyway, back to the bucket list. In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about sailing from Colombia to Panama on a catamaran.

Instead of flying back to Panama to wrap up my journey at the end of last year, I decided to sail there on a 52′ catamaran from Cartagena, Colombia. The journey was 5 days and took us through open ocean as well as through the San Blas islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

For more details and info about how to do it yourself, check out my original post about the experience and take a look at this video of the journey:

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Improve Your Marketing

Marketing is all about tapping into human needs and desires so that you can motivate your potential customers to buy what you sell. In order to tap into those needs and desires, you have to first understand what they are and, probably the most famous model for examining this is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a model for understanding human motivation and breaks down the needs and desire of humans into 5 categories:

  • Physiological or the most basic human needs like food, water, and air for survival are at the base of maslow’s needs pyramid.
  • Safety is one step above physiological but still describes needs, not wants, and includes things like shelter or health.
  • Love and belonging is next on the pyramid and moves into what humans want versus what they need and refers to friendships, romantic relationships, and familial relationships and intimacy within those relationships.
  • Esteem refers to the human desire for self-confidence and the respect of others.
  • Self-actualization refers to things like moral development, creativity, and problem solving ability.

According to Maslow’s model, all human motivation is based on fulfilling one of these 5 needs and people must work their way up the pyramid and fulfill their most basic needs first before they have time to worry about fulfilling their higher needs.

So, what does this mean for you as an entrepreneur trying to market your startup or small business? It means that you must align your marketing with fulfilling the correct need level for your target customers and that you must be cognizant of matching the need level of your product or service with the appropriate need level for that market. In more straight-forward terms, if someone is working on fulfilling their safety needs you cannot successfully market a product or service to them that will help with self-actualization. They’re simply not there yet. 

It all goes back to aligning your marketing message and tactics with the target customer and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one way to help you understand that customer.

 

Now I want to hear from you:

  • Which need level does the product or service you sell appeal to and how?
  • Is your marketing strategy in line with targeting customers who are working on fulfilling that need level?
  • How does your messaging help them see that what you offer will help fulfill that need and motivate them to buy?

Let me know in the comments section below.

If you found this video helpful or interesting, please help spread the word. Share it with someone whom you think would find it helpful or benefit from the discussion. And don’t forget to follow me on social media and subscribe to my newsletter so that you never miss any information that could help you and your business succeed.

Colombia’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Interview with Carolina Pereira

My last visit in Colombia was to Carolina Pereira, the Chief Organizer of the English Startup Weekend in Bogotá.

Carolina sees the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colombia as growing, but still in its infancy.

“The [entrepreneurial] ecosystem in Colombia is still just starting,” she told me,  “at least in terms of technology and innovation entrepreneurship. The majority of the entrepreneurs are still either lifestyle entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs out of necessity and work in the informal economy.”

While she believes that the ecosystem has the potential to mature fully and to become vibrant, she sees a couple of major hurdles holding Colombia back.

Firstly, she identifies a lack of cultural acceptance of entrepreneurship as a legitimate career choice.

“We have a high level of education,” she said,  “but, in general, you’re not going to become an entrepreneur because the examples you have seen encourage you to get a good job, an established job. You study, you practice, you learn English and then you’re supposed to get a good job at a multinational company…If your parents pay for you to go to school to learn and to get a career, it’s not so you can start a business, it’s so you can get a good job.”

Secondly, Carolina says that there is a lack of capital for early stage entrepreneurs because most investors see startups as too risky an investment.

“Here, what you would call an angel investor really practically doesn’t exist,” she told me.

“Most of the people that have made money are industrialists. They’re more traditional and they don’t know startups and startup investments don’t interest them…”

She does admit, however, that,

“if you ask entrepreneurs, they will say there aren’t enough investors and there isn’t capital, but, if you ask investors, they will say there aren’t enough entrepreneurs with good projects.”

Even if the entrepreneurs are right about the lack of investors, that seems to be changing with the generations  as Carolina continued to say, “…but their [the traditional investors’] children are interested. They’re people that know technology, have studied outside of Colombia, and they’re trying to create a space for this type of investment.”

Additionally, as the ecosystem grows, “there is also another type of investor who was an entrepreneur, and loves entrepreneurship, and wants to help with mentoring, etc.” Combine those two trends with the heavily-funded government support for entrepreneurship and you can see that this capital crunch may be able to fix itself in Colombia in the near future.

So, where does Carolina see the entrepreneurial ecosystem in 5-10 years?

“There will be sustainable businesses. There will be successful businesses,” she said, “but, if we can get a home run, if there are 1 or 2 Colombian companies that are global successes, this will drastically help to improve the ecosystem.”

Carolina also feels that where Colombia’s ecosystem ends up depends greatly on who happens to be in power in the Colombian government.

“The government is supporting entrepreneurship with a lot of programs right now, but that could change. It will depend a lot on who will be the next president,” she said.

Overall, however,

“I’m optimistic,” she said. “I think that the growth is going to continue. I hope entrepreneurship will be an option for many people here, for many young people.”

 

Crossing the Andes

Only 2 more weeks until the end of my list of suggestions for your travel bucket list. Of all of my adventures so far, these are the 10 things that stick out in my mind as the most memorable.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about Crossing the Andes.

When I traveled from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina last year, I decided to make a pit stop in Mendoza to get a taste of the Argentinian wine country. Instead of flying, I wanted to experience the zig-zagging roads that connect the two countries through the Andes, and I am definitely glad I did. The bus crossing was by far more entertaining than my time actually spent in Mendoza.

For more info, check out the video I took of some of the journey (it definitely does not do it justice) and/or read my original post on the crossing.

How to Create Target Customer Personas to Maximize Your Marketing

Understanding who your ideal customer is, where he or she is, and what he or she is motivated by is key to a successful marketing strategy. If you don’t understand who you’re selling to, it will be pretty difficult to sell. Therefore, creating target customer profiles or personas can be a great way to get started with your marketing strategy development.

Customer personas are quite common in the development of marketing strategies and they’re basically character sketches designed to help you understand your customer and his or her needs and motivations.

To create one, begin with some solid market research so you will be basing your persona on facts instead of just making things up. If you’re not sure how to begin with conducting market research, you can check out my video about that topic.

Next, you want to keep the information you gained from market research close at hand and sit down and begin brainstorming about your ideal customers. You can start with the easy stuff like demographic information: is your customer male or female? How old? What type of job do they have and how much money do they make? Are they well educated? Where do they live? What is their family structure like? Then start moving on to deeper information about the target customer’s personality and motivations: What are their morals and values? What does a typical day look like? What do they do in their free time? What are their habits and likes – i.e. is this a vegan yoga addict or a martini-drinking club-hopper? Do they want to go to the spa on the weekend or go hiking and camping? Where do they hang out and who are they there with?

Be as detailed as possible when you describe your target customer. If you need help structuring the brainstorm, grab my Ideal Customer Worksheet to help you. It’s over on the Free Downloads page.

Once you’ve created a full persona for your ideal customer you can use that persona to inform your marketing strategy because now you understand who it is you’re selling too. If you want this person to actually buy from you, you need to look at their lifestyle and target your marketing so that it hits at the right time in their buying schedule, appeals to their needs and desires, and fits in with their lifestyle and self-image.

When you come up with ideas for new marketing campaigns, go back to your ideal customer persona and think, “Would this campaign appeal to this customer? Would they see it? Would they remember it? Would it motivate them to buy?” If not, it’s not going to be a successful marketing campaign and you need to go back to the drawing board.

 

Now I want to hear from you: Who is your ideal customer and have you used personas in your marketing planning in the past? Let me know in the comments section below. 

Did you like this video? If so, please remember to like it and to share it with anyone whom you think would it find it helpful. And don’t forget to follow me on social media and sign up for my newsletter so you never miss any info that will help you grow your business.

 

Helmet Diving in the Caribbean

We’re getting really close to the end of my list of suggestions for your travel bucket list.

In no particular order, my top 10 suggestions for your travel bucket list are:

  • Kayaking and swimming in the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico
  • Seeing the millions of monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
  • Desert safari off-roading, camel riding, and dinner show in Dubai, UAE
  • The Grand Canyon in the USA
  • Superman zip-lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica
  • Machu Picchu in Peru
  • Ruins of the city of Ephesus in Turkey
  • Helmet diving in the Caribbean
  • Crossing the Andes
  • Sailing from Colombia to Panama through the Sand Blas islands

This week I’ll talk about Helmet Diving in the Caribbean.

While I have spent most of my life on the coast and have traveled extensively in the Caribbean, I have never learned how to scuba dive and even when it come to snorkeling I’m a novice. However, with so much time out on the ocean and on beautiful beaches, I had to eventually see what was going on down below the surface so I decided to try helmet diving.

Helmet diving is a super cool experience where you are given a helmet that looks something like an astronaut’s helmet so that you can walk around underwater while still breathing completely normally. No need to learn how to scuba dive or even to breath through your mouth like you must while snorkeling. You just go about your business breathing normally but are under the sea and get to see all of the amazing fish and other sea creatures.

I don’t have any pictures of myself doing the helmet dive because I don’t have an underwater camera but you can see what it’s like here.

I did my helmet dive in Grand Cayman while on a cruise so I was met at the pier by the guide and we were taken out to our dive spot on a small boat. You don’t go super deep below the surface because 1) you don’t wear wetsuits and it would be very cold if you went too far down and 2) in order to allow you to breathe normally your helmet is connected to oxygen on the boat through a tube and you need to be able to walk on the sea floor. My guess is that we were about 40 feet beneath the surface, but I am pretty bad at estimates like that and could be totally off.

One by one, all of the “divers” climb down the boat’s ladder to the sea floor. The guides don’t put the helmet on you until the last moment, because it’s heavy, but as soon as you’re under water, you don’t even notice the weight. I can be a bit of an anxious person and definitely started to get a bit nervous as I waited for my turn to descend and while climbing down the ladder because it sways quite a bit in the waves. However, once I reached the bottom it was easy to relax and enjoy the view – perhaps a bit too easy because these helmets simply rest on your shoulders, they’re not air-tight, so if you lean your head too far forward or backward to look at something, water will rush in. It’s easy to correct by simply straightening up and there are guides in scuba gear with you to correct for you if you need assistance, but it’s still startling to be engrossed in watching a tropical fish and then all of a sudden feel your breathing space filling with water.

The tour I was on gave us quite a good amount of time on the sea floor to enjoy the experience and also allowed each of us to feed some of the fish a few times so they would come right up to you and take fish food out of your hand – some actually even pinch you a bit.

This was hands down one of the coolest experiences I’ve had because, before hearing about this, I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to see the fish like this without putting in the time to learn to scuba. You can find helmet diving tours all over the Caribbean and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity.

Just one tip: the boat you go to the dive spot in is rather small and moves quite a bit in the waves so, if you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take whatever remedy or medication works for you before you head out on this tour and ask to be one of the first ones down the ladder.

Why Entrepreneurs Must Have a Social Media Editorial Calendar

Social media seems pretty straightforward and simple on the surface, but it’s incredibly easy to let it fall through the cracks when there are a million different balls you’re juggling in your business and you haven’t created a clear plan. When developing your social media strategy, it’s important to create an “editorial calendar” for yourself identifying what you’ll post, on which platform, on what day, and at what time.

You want to draft the schedule to keep yourself organized for a few reasons:

Firstly, it’s important that you keep your social media properties up to date. If you go weeks without posting, the potential customers that visit will notice that inactivity and wonder if you’re still around or if you’d be responsive to them if they became customers.

Secondly, you want to space out the different types of posts in a logical manner. You shouldn’t post 27 photos in a row and then not post another photo again for 3 months. The goal is to keep your social media followers interested by providing variety and quality. When you create a posting schedule, you’re more likely to strategically share the different content you curate as opposed to just randomly posting.

Along the same lines, it’s important to have some consistency in how often you post. If you post everything real time as you see it or think of it, there will be days when you post 15 times and then weeks when you have nothing to share. Again, that’s not good for building customer trust, so you want to curate your content constantly but schedule when you share it strategically.

Finally, if you create a plan you can determine when the most effective times to post various content are in order to receive the most engagement from your followers. While you can and should look up statistics about when users are active on the different platforms, this varies so greatly between groups that it’s important you do some of your own testing. As you post, track what posts get the most engagement and note any patterns: times of day, days of the week, types of posts, etc. Then use that information to adjust your strategy and give your followers more of what they want, when they want it.

To help you out with your content scheduling so that you don’t have to sit online all day every day, as well as to help you track engagement, I highly recommend utilizing one of the many services that can integrate all of your social media platforms and allow you to schedule posts in the future. I personally use Hootsuite but there are many similar platforms out there and whichever you’re most comfortable with is the one you should use.

*** UPDATE*** As I mentioned in the original post, I use Hootsuite for my social media management and when I shared this post with my social media and business networking communities, they all seemed to say that Hootsuite was their favorite tool as well. If you’re interested in giving Hootsuite a try, click here and you’ll get a 30-day free trial of their pro version. This is an affiliate link, meaning I will get paid if you purchase through this link. I want to be totally upfront about that, but I also want to make clear that I am promoting Hootsuite because I use it and love it, not because I get paid.

 

Now let’s hear what works for you: Do you have an editorial calendar for your social media posts and how far in advance do you plan? What’s your favorite social media management tool – Hootsuite, Buffer, or something else? Let me know in the comments section below what works for you.

If you found this video helpful or interesting, please spread the word. Like it and share it with someone whom you think would benefit from the information and I will be hugely appreciative.