An Update for My Readers

I know it has been quite a while since I last made a post, and my commitment to this site remains. However, I have an important update to make.

As of September 6, 2011, I have resigned from all my posts with PREE Corporation and am no longer a representative or affiliate with the company. I chose to leave the company, and while I still support the innovations and ideals we set out to originally pursue, I do not support the current direction and management of the company.

I want to thank everybody who supported me and the original founders and believed in what PREE Corp. sought to become. My family’s, friends’, and communities’ support was invaluable and means more to me than anyone will ever know.

The experience holds great value to me and many lessons were learned. Here is to the opportunities ahead! Cheers!

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Measuring Your Brand’s Social Media ROI

We are witnessing the great social media revolution these days, and it can hard to keep up with all the new marketing resources and channels.  The old ways are increasingly on their way out as more and more social media outlets crowd the stage.  Employers are expending valuable human and financial capital into social media day after day, but what kinds of actual returns are they seeing?  It is important to measure your marketing efforts with real metrics in order to effectively utilize, and capitalize on, social media and drive your business’ success.

But how do you do that?  Sure, I can log in to social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter and see how many followers or “Likes” I have, but there is more to those numbers than that.  Some social mediums, like Facebook, offer some useful demographic and analytical information, like impression percentages, but lack when it comes to effectiveness metrics and online connectivity, just to name a few.

Thankfully, there are start-ups and other businesses that have developed various programs and analytical software that can shed light on these hidden metrics.  The folks over at Fast Company have put together a great article on a few of these resources and how they can be used to strengthen and expand your brand’s online presence.  With Facebook users spending a surprising 12.7% of their online time on the site, what more can your business be doing to have an effective social media presence with real results?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Technology Entrepreneurship Alive and Well at 2011 CES

Every year in January, over 100,000 people travel to Las Vegas, Nevada from around the world to attend the International Consumer Electronics Show.  For the first time this year, as a new affiliate of the consumer electronics industry, I was in attendance.

Its hard to imagine how large and active a trade show can be sometimes, but this isn’t your average trade show either – its the largest technology convention in the world!  That being said, the level of entrepreneurial energy at this year’s CES was truly impressive.  The opportunity to embrace that liveliness, dive into the community, and flex my own entrepreneurial muscles was truly invaluable.

With any good business, understanding your market and customers is integral to your company’s development and growth.  CES was an important opportunity for my team and I to take our knowledge and understanding to the next level.  While writing the business plan for our company, we conducted extensive market and industry research, as well as our own surveys, in order to better understand our customers and their needs/wants.  But that isn’t necessarily enough, especially in fast-paced, innovation-driven markets like the technology industry.  Attending CES enabled us to take our research one step further by assessing the industry in person, interviewing our competition, and identify emerging technology trends before the rest of the world.  That is the key.  If you know understand your numbers and do the legwork, you’ll know your industry inside and out.  By doing so, you will ensure that your business remains relevant in today’s market and tomorrow’s too.

All in all, my first trip to CES proved energizing, educational, and productive.  There sure was a lot of legwork (literally), but it was all worth it.  Entrepreneurship is alive and well in 2011, let’s make the best of it!

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Entrepreneurship vs. College Degrees: The Value of an Education to Entrepreneurs

A couple of weekends ago, I attended this semester’s $100k Venture Start-Up Competition at UTSA; the same business plan competition where my company had its humble beginnings as nothing more than an idea.   I was visiting with one of my favorite professors and she was telling me how a local business professional was meeting with her class during the semester and advocated quitting school and becoming an entrepreneur as soon as possible.  She was just astonished, as was I, that he would come into her college entrepreneurship class and blatantly speak against an education.

Then, a funny thing happened.  I came across two articles earlier this week in the Harvard Business Review that were discussing the very same topic: what value, if any, does a college degree provide to an entrepreneur?  For me and my professor, the answers were obvious, but it got me thinking.  If these questions are cropping up in two seemingly different circumstances, what are the differing opinions and debates surrounding them?

As it turns out, there are some large supporters of leaving school and starting a venture.  Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, is actually offering twenty $100,000 start-up grants to students under the age of 20, enticing them to leave (or not even enter) college to become an entrepreneur instead.  He believes that by getting younger people to start thinking big at an earlier age, they will become tomorrow’s innovators.  While his reasoning has its merits, I still can’t understand why you would advocate against the pursuit of knowledge.  Sure, $100,000 grant is a great way to start a new business, but of what value is all that money if you haven’t developed and refined your management, financial, and critical thinking skills to make effective and educated decisions with it?

Entrepreneurship isn’t an exact science.  Trial and error are some of the most valuable experiences you can gain as an entrepreneur, but so is a college education.  Devaluing it by luring potential students away with cash is a dangerous and slippery path.  Too many have dropped out, failed, and suffered the consequences as a result of these ill-conceived notions.  I would argue that pursuing a college degree better prepares and enables you for the countless challenges one will inevitably face time and again as an entrepreneur.  I know that my education has been an invaluable component in my pursuit of entrepreneurial endeavors, and that it is at the heart of what Washing the Dishes is really about – doing the best you can in all you do and learning something along the way.  I chose to pursue my undergraduate degree because I have long recognized the empowerment that comes with knowledge.  When its all said and done, entrepreneurs come in many shapes and sizes and it is the unique combination of personal attributes, experiences, and education that determine each entrepreneur’s level of success.  When given the choice, choose an education first.  The knowledge and skills you gain will make tomorrow’s innovations a reality.  The money will be on the table when you’re ready for it.

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General Motors Returns to the Public Market

You read that right!  After a multi-billion dollar government bailout and lighting fast bankruptcy proceedings, the largest U.S. automaker has returned to the public market.

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost two years since the collapse of Government General Motors, but it has been quite an interesting turn of events from a business perspective.  Even though GM has had access to special federal and state resources that no other business could ever dream of, the company has managed to make great strides in their turnaround efforts.  These changes are reflected in their new product roll-outs, increased efficiency, and gains in market share – despite shedding four of their brands (Saturn, Pontiac, Saab, and Hummer).  But, one can only wonder if these changes are merely skin deep.

General Motors didn’t go bankrupt because they offered poor products or lacked the ability to make quality products.  Instead, General Motors failed because of a bloated corporate culture that was resistant to change, bureaucratic in nature,  and lackadaisical with their business decisions.  This culture resulted in decades of uncompetitive offerings, eight indistinguishable brands, and poor product quality which ultimately led to their debt-laden down fall.

The new GM, under the U.S. government’s guidance, has replaced some of their highest management and executive officers for this reason.  Don’t get me wrong, they have some great talent at the helm; however, it will take more than a few personnel swaps to change a corporate culture that has been evolving over the last few decades.  Dumping four brands and re-invigorating their remaining four with new products is definitely a step in the right direction, but it will take some serious soul searching on General Motors’ part to prevent themselves from repeating the past.  The market seems to think their is new life in GM, but I will reserve my final judgments on this chapter of their story until meaningful changes and improvements can be seen.

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The 2010 Entrepreneur State of Mind

I came across an interesting read the other day from the folks at Grassland, a blog “designed to help small businesses stay connected and sound professional.”  They conducted a survey of 200+ people earlier this year that offers some insights into the entrepreneurial landscape of 2010.  Questions ranged from “How has the recession affected your business?” to “iPhone or Blackberry?”  I found that most of these results reaffirmed my notions and beliefs about the entrepreneurial spirit; and that the value of education, increased earning potentials, and battling a recession highlight how influential entrepreneurship is to our economic system.  They even put together a nifty infographic to illustrate their findings, check it out:

Source:  Grasshopper Entrepreneur Survey, 2010

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If It Is Success in the Eyes of the World

It’s been challenging to decide exactly where to begin my second blog entry, as I’ve felt the pressure to start this blog off just right, and have bounced around varied ideas about how to accomplish that.  I finally concluded that I should just start writing and see where that takes me, so here we are.

There is a favorite quote of mine that I would like to share with you to kick my blog off right!  It represents a core belief of mine and I feel it embodies one of the most important notions to keep in mind as you work towards building a business of your own or in pursuing anything in life.  Anna Quindlen, a novelist and journalist with Newsweek, wrote in one of her books, “If it is success in the eyes of the world, but not success in your heart, then it is not success at all.”

I think this is crucial to keep in mind as you strive to pursue your career.  Enjoying life to the fullest potential and having a rewarding career is about doing what you love.  Remember, don’t measure your success against the metrics of society, but rather the metrics of your heart.

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Why I started “Washing the Dishes”

I’m Matthew Jackson, the author of Washing the Dishes, and I’m a young entrepreneur actively engaged in the business community in San Antonio, Texas.  Early during my collegiate career at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I recognized that I had a great passion for all things business.  I’ve always considered myself fortunate for this reason, because many people spend years or even decades finding their callings in life.

After completing my studies at the University, I jumped right into the aggressive arena that is the business world.  I work as a consultant for a group of businesses in San Antonio that focus on a number of endeavors: business development, business acceleration, mobile phone applications, and preparing companies for initial public offerings.  Additionally, I’m a founder of PREE Corporation, a technology development company, and currently serve on the Board of Directors and as the Chief Financial Officer.

Building businesses and getting your hands dirty is what Washing the Dishes is all about!  No company opens its doors on the first day as a multi-million dollar business, and there is hard, challenging work along the path.  You have to be willing to get your hands in the sink, scrub those dirty plates, and remember each pair of water-logged hands as you build the foundation and structure of your business.  If you are genuinely passionate about what you do, and remember to find the fun in life, you’ll be impressed by your accomplishments.

I couldn’t be more excited to take this journey with you, and I hope my insights as a young entrepreneur can teach and inspire you!

Off to Wash the Dishes,

Matt Jackson

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