There appears to be a better fit for my small business ideas than this blog.
Take a look at the prior post on the three required ideas for business success, and then look at my Squidoo lens about the three axioms of business.
It did take longer to build the Squidoo lens, but it works very well. I also don't have to play popularity games with templates, something I just could never get behind. I have good content - but with a blog that is just not enough.
Each page on Squidoo is already pulling traffic. It is easy to set up online marketing and and should draw well for a very long time. I can even easily direct the income to charities if I wish. I had planned to use the lens to direct traffic to this site, and add a few links to my other sites also, instead I will leave this site here and mainly make new lenses at Squidoo.
My updates here will therefore be infrequent.
I have over a half dozen lenses so far and I'm having great fun playing with them. For those of you with the big question, yes it is free to build a lens - just like you can have a free blog.
I figure it takes about the same time to make a quality lens as to write 3 blog posts. They are individually at least a dozen times more powerful than a post. There is also no demand or deadline requiring frequent updates, therefore no burnout.
Visit my nice niche Swiss shop, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. I know many of you come here for ideas on how to start your own business, follow that link.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
There appears to be a better fit for my small business ideas than this blog.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
There are a thousand little pieces that go into creating a successful business.
There are only three that are absolutely required.
1) Be Too Early
If the market is saturated, you will be fighting the current. A saturated market is a market ready to decline, almost everyone that wants to be in this business is already in it. Consider real estate a year ago when folks were still quiting their jobs to get a license.
The commodities market has been climbing for years, and folks are still afraid of it. You will find it easy to get a job as a commodities broker, and on good terms. It will take you a year or two to build your business, just in time for folks to get excited and over commit. When all your neighbors become brokers - find your next business.
If this sounds like value investing, and how to really make long term profits in the markets, you are right.
This is a tough one. It is so easy to be diverted from your quest by other great opportunities.
If you expect to be a success you need to concentrate on making your one business exceptional, as opposed to having several pretty good businesses. Today only exceptional is good enough. If you apply efforts in many directions your forward progress will suffer.
If you started too early it will be a while before your hard work pays off. If you lose your focus and try some other ideas, one may look promising - now you are off in another direction.
The law of inertia applies to business. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest tend to stay at rest. It still takes work to change the state of the object.
It takes a couple of years to develop a loyal client base. If you stop every six months and re-start a new venture you will never develop the momentum to become powerful.
Keep applying yourself.
Create and sustain your own successful business.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Take the afternoon and build a specialty store that centers on your passion.
Okay, I'm a bit late on starting the vacation I mentioned in the prior post. I'll start it on Monday.
For now I've got an assignment for you.
Create your own store at Squidoo, it won't cost anything but some time, you will learn some interesting stuff, and you will be able to make money for yourself or a charity.
I built a store about Swiss Goodies and gifts, and didn't find a top Squidoo group to join to make it part of an online mall. I therefore created, for us, The Mall. Right now the only store in The Mall is mine, that presents an opportunity to you.
Think about your (family and work safe) passions, that's long enough. Now go to Squidoo and create a store based on your passions. It is fun and easy, and the results will be satisfying.
Then join my group.
Just one warning. I started my specialty store late at night, got frustrated, and didn't return to it until I started my vacation. You can avoid having this frustration by being awake when you work on your store. It's funny how easy building the store was with my eyes open.
If you have questions, e-mail me.
See you at The Mall.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Time for a vacation
I Think it's time to recharge the batteries. I should be back by early December.
There is a lot of good stuff in the archives to your right.
Or start some long term planning on your future.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
If you already have a dozen or so web sites, or if you have no web presence at all, this simple tool can be of help.
It's called Squidoo, and what it does is give you a professional looking one page site that is easy to set and forget.
They use simple to manipulate modules to add e-bay or Amazon, and just as easily remove them. There is a money making component to Squidoo, but I think for most of us that will be secondary.
If you have a dozen sites, this is one more site to add a link to and have send traffic to your sites. Even though it is new, there are already some PR5 Squidoo sites - so it can help your search engine ranking a bit also. Take an hour or two to play with it and then forget about it.
If you don't have a site, this is the easiest tool I've found. Just plug in your information, and you have a good looking "Squidoo Lens." They call the page a lens because you will use it to focus on one business or passion. You can set up many lenses if you wish. Once you have made one, you will see how simple the operation is.
Squidoo plans on sharing profits with charity, and with the lens crafters. There will be a bit of money eventually I'm sure - but the main value is a functional and good looking site. It is the ease of creation and change that will make this a fun-when-its-done project.
How often can you create a fun project in an afternoon, and have it stay meaningful for a very long time. I still have to add my picture to my lens, other than that is seems okay.
It costs nothing to sign up. In fact I signed up under beta and never followed up. I finally built my lens today and was amazed at how easy it was to do.
Take a look at my Squidoo lens built for Bastiat Free University. If you want to make your own push the green button to the right on the lens page.
Simple and fun, you may end up making several lenses. Give it a try.
Friday, November 10, 2006
While these business secrets may be easily understood, too few business owners think about them.
These are business profit secrets you could have developed yourself with some quiet thought; perhaps you have.
All of your business ideas for increasing positive cash flow fit into two areas. First you can decrease the costs of business operation, second you can increase the per capita spend of your customers.
The costs of operation will be most evident in your fixed expenses. The key for your small business is not just the cost of your office and tools. Even most variable expenses like payroll and utilities are well understood. Since these are so apparent we won't dwell here.
Your most important business expense is the acquisition of your customers.
Your key business practice to controlling the cost of customer acquisition is measurement.
This bring us to the second secret of business profits, and of course it is related to the first secret of business profits. There are just four ways to increase your income.
- get more customers
- get your customers to buy more
- get your customers to buy more often
- get your customers to buy more expensive goods or services
These are easy to say, but difficult to accomplish. For those supposed sharpies that just count the sale and move on, they are leaving massive amounts of money behind them. A satisfied customer has a large, residual, life time value - in any business. How much value does a particular customer have?
Your key business practice to improving the value of retaining a customer is also measurement.
Before this turns into a book called Secrets Of Growing Business Profits let's summarize the measuring process. There is only way you can tell if what you are doing this week is more profitable than what you did last week. That is to measure the entire client experience process.
You can know the cost and value of that prospect walking past your mall store window. The cost per prospect is the difference in rent and expenses between this store and and one on a side street. Divide that cost difference by the number of people walking the mall, and you have a cost per prospect or cost per impression.
How many of those prospects enter your store? Divide the monthly price difference by that number and you can find a brick and mortar equivalent of cost per click. Keep measuring for the life of the customer. You want to find out how often they buy, what they buy, what percentage buy something more expensive, etc. The more you know, the better you can serve your customers.
Even with a mall store there are other methods to acquire customers. Pennysaver ads, newspaper ads - with and without coupons, radio - the list is huge. Try them all - track and measure results, and compare the life time value of the customers to their various acquisition costs.
This is the business profits secret - if you measure and compare, you will find many profitable surprises.
The value of a customer is usually not related to cost of acquisition. Your return on client acquisition dollar spent in different ways can vary widely. There are smart business owners that knowingly and willingly lose money on a first transaction. They know the average life time value of their customer.
You now know the base costs and income per type of prospect or lead - the new game is to improve profitability at each step in the process. Replace one factor - check results, modify and repeat.
Increasing your business profits is simple, don't leave all that money behind.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The Past Is disguised - individually and collectively we share a very selective memory.
Of the millions of things we see and experience each day we will retain the memory of just a few - and most of those memories will fade. Our subconscious parses our memories. We can program the subconscious or let chance program it. Either way those thing we remember vividly will be incomplete and will contain some factual error. As societies it is even worse.
"The winners write the history books," or re-write them. This is one reason to read old books and books written by people from other cultures. Their blind spots and ignorance will be different than our blind spots and ignorance. Seeing what they know to be true, and comparing it with what we know to be true can improve our vision.
Travel is another experience that reveals different cultural and historical views. Different is not necessarily threatening - it can be illuminating. Get off the tourist paths, mix with those that do not always share your opinions.
The Future is hidden, we do know there will be dramatic changes that surprise us.
Our natural vision of the future is that it will continue as it has recently. We ignore the huge individual and collective disruptions we see around us. If life has been good but is slowly declining - we expect it to stay good, and either slowly decline a bit more or recover slowly.
Even the study of great tragedy and wonderful success does not naturally teach us to expect the same as possible outcomes in our own lives. Earthquake and flood insurance are popular right after an event, and become increasingly neglected until the next big one. Life is not linear - no matter how much we ignore it - there will always be another unexpected event around the corner.
If the past is disguised and the future hidden, what do we really know?
We Have been told by amazing survivors and by the stupendously successful one fact over and over again. And for the most part we have ignored this fact.
What we think today, what we dwell on today, how we act today will in very large part determine how we think, consider and act tomorrow. Right now we all have the choice to concentrate on powerful and successful ideas, and to perform either shoddy or by choice quality actions. We are not inextricably shaped by our past or at the mercy of an unpredictable future.
The future resides in the choice of grip we use today. The thoughts we chose to hold, the emotions we let hold us, the acts we determine to perform - these are what will shape our actions tomorrow. Tomorrow is unknown - we only know that someday dramatic changes will come.
We can put your head down and surrender to the pretense that life will always be a repeat of the recent past. We can also charge ourselves to be ready to excel at whatever opportunity presents itself. We only have this power of preparation in our present - not in our past or our future.
The direction for the rest of our lives will be established in the right now, and in the right now following it. It is not so difficult to concentrate on putting in a good effort for just right now. We can do that bit of good effort and follow it up with a bit more good effort in the next right now. This is really easy.
We can think, plan, reason, act, and understand as best we can for just a moment. The only real effort is overcoming the habit of wasting moments. If we use enough of todays moments well, tomorrow's moments will be easier to use well - we will be changing our habits.
Now the real question is how much effort should we extend in-this-moment if it is the foundation of the rest of we life?
We can always, for this moment, do our best.
Why would we not want to do our best?
Friday, November 03, 2006
In the end, it's extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose? - Jesse Owens
There are so many parallels between athletics and business. If you have been a top athlete you have what it takes to succeed greatly in business - all of that training can be redirected to a new use.
Thomas A. Edison said: " What you are will show in what you do."
If you watch sports you are admiring both the skills of disciplined practice and the cohesiveness of purpose. It does not matter if you just enjoy watching or engage in sports also - you have potential for great success if you will likewise dedicate yourself to understanding success principles and consistently seek top performance.
Athletes have a head start - they know that victory starts in the mind but is completed with action.
Start your own business today - and give it the same dedication, and accept the same level of training, required to succeed in sports.
"The risks and rewards for you from creative entrepreneurship are greater, and of far more value to society, than illusions of security that enslave a human cog in a social machine." - Allan Wallace
Thursday, November 02, 2006
An Advertising Jewel
Sometimes someone just does it right.
You have probably looked at some long sales pages and more than a few sales pages. I'll not hide this url - it says it all:
Just a note, many of the funny and silly things on a sales letter are not there because someone thought yellow highlighter looks good on a web page. They are there because someone tested the idea and it increased their sales. A side benefit is that it gets rid of reasonable folk that wouldn't have bought but might have asked questions - saving time.
Click on the above link and read a few lines, a good guffaw always feels nice.
Qualifying and eliminating prospects hardly seems like the proper route to customer service.
An entrepreneur is someone that solves problems for a profit.
- We all understand that without customers we have no business.
- Most of us understand that it is beneficial to treat customers well so they will return and recommend us to others.
- Many of us understand that how we present our business and service models will influence the receptivity of our prospects.
- Few of us understand that an important part of our presentation is eliminating prospects that would just waste our time.
A major part of the qualification process is possible before we ever encounter the prospect. When Grey Poupon advertised with two rich people in Royces, they attracted those with weak egos that needed reenforcement and eliminated the bargain shopper. Mailing coupons would therefore not be a reasonable part of their strategy. (I've just had two Grey Poupon readers leave, and one proclaim "but I like the taste!")
Probably the fact Grey Poupon was a success was due more to offering customers alternatives than with snobbishness - but it did work.
BMW advertises to the same insecure audience as Grey Poupon; BMW - The Driving Machine. A BMW is a well engineered auto that handles well. But so are other cars that cost considerably less. In fact BMWs are frequently bought in the used car market by folks that desire that driving capability. The majority of new BMW owners however seem to be people that want folks to know 1) they have money, 2) they have a drivers car - and many of them drive faster than their capabilities. Some may become good drivers - but they paid out that extra cash to appear to others as if they are now good drivers. The advertising worked.
Local BMW dealers may misunderstand this focused marketing and advertise based on price comparisons - attracting the wrong prospects and wasting their sales potential.
A decade or two ago when I sold real estate, interest rates were well over 10%. Most of the real estate companies that survived were listings centric - they listed a bunch of property and hoped someone would sell it. They trained their agents the same way - list, list, list.
This did create predictable cash flow, if you knew on average what percent of your listings would sell each month, the values of your listings, and what percentage of escrows would close - you could predict cash flow. For the brokers they then knew which offices were not going to make it, and could shut them down.
While I took listings, the majority of my income came through buyers. With prices dropping and interest rates high - it took a lot of effort and time to work with a seller. A buyer however was appreciative that anyone would even talk to him. On weekends I would have another buyer scheduled every two hours, if they were not ready and able to buy after two hours - I seldom rescheduled another appointment.
If the buyer seemed serious I would hand them off to another agent in the office that had time to spend with them. If they just seemed to be shopping - I handed them a competitor's card with a positive endorsement of his capabilities. My time was too valuable to spend many weekends with just one buyer. The days were long, but I could make several sales a weekend - while others were struggling to make one or two a month.
The difference was not my great ability, but my qualifying and eliminating. I did have a very high percentage of escrows close - once a prospect became a customer my job was to make them an ecstatically satisfied customer.
If it is your window display, your advertising, your marketing theme, or your web page - it should fulfill the same customer service function.
Qualifying and eliminating.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
We have suggested many small business ideas here that you can use as learning tools.
Attending virtual courses like the Entrepreneurial Start-up series will help you gain knowledge by running internet based businesses. Learning is a good thing.
But to succeed greatly requires many things.
- A base of knowledge on which to build with deeper understanding
- A passion for your business field
- Potential clients that want what you offer
- And clients that are willing to pay
Most of these small business opportunities don't offer anything to excite your passions. They provide that knowledge that will enable you to visualize how you can best help people for a profit. That is all an entrepreneur is - someone that helps others for a profit.
At some point you will be ready to take off and apply what you know and love to your own business.
When that point comes - focus will be extremely important. Drop all of these learning tools that distract you from your primary goal. For most the "multiple streams of income" approach is like spitting into the wind. It's messy and it is hard to control.
If you are at that point of developing your own business idea - cut out all the fluff. If a business is taking more time than its value, eliminate it. Put your money making effort into your primary business and those tools that will make it grow.
If you are not quite to that point yet, click on the link in this blogs title - that is a program that will help you develop a real business you will not need to close.
A business centered on your passions.