About To Start An Online Business? Read This First

2009/03/07 at 11:02 am (Article)

I recently received an interesting question from a visitor to one of my web sites: ‘If there is any advice that you wish you would have gotten before you started a business online, what would it be?’. Rather than write an extensive email on this subject, I figured my answer would be of use to many people out there about to embark on what for many could be a life-changing experience.

It takes a lot more work than much of the hype suggests.

 

If you think you can put in a couple hours when you feel like it and achieve any level of success, you have been seriously misled. You need to be prepared to put in some very long hours, and to go through a steep learning curve as you find your way.

 

Establishing an online business is the same as setting up any other sort of business – it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment over a long period of time, with many trials and tribulations along the way. Don’t expect instant results, nor to sit on the beach after a couple of weeks while the money flows in – it doesn’t happen.

 

The current success stories on the Internet have got there through months, more likely years, of hard work. You should be prepared to do the same, and to make whatever sacrifices you may need to make in your current life to do so.

 

 

Don’t fear failure – just get started now.

 

 

Many people do not start something because they are afraid of failure. They are afraid of looking a fool, afraid of their nearest and dearest saying ‘I told you so’, afraid of wasting time, effort and expense on something that may not work out.

 

In fact, the very nature of the question in my opening paragraph above is based on a fear of failure. It is a vain search for that gold nugget of information that will prevent them screwing up.

 

The truth is that failure should be celebrated, it is a simple milestone on the way to success. It is only through failure that you can truly find the path to any sort of success, right from when you first learned to walk as a small child. Failure teaches you important lessons that make you wiser and will make your business stronger and far more likely to succeed.

 

Instead of just giving up when something has failed or not worked out like you expected, there is a really simple question you can ask instead that can lead to great success – ‘What can I learn from this experience?’.

 

Everyone who has ever achieved success has gone through failure first. The difference is that the success stories picked themselves up, learned from the experience, and persisted anyway.

 

For many people, just getting started is often the hardest part. They will think about it, think some more, and then think again. Often rather than thinking in a focused way, they will end up procrastinating, and never get off the starting line.

 

The important part is just to get started. Yes, you may be initially doing completely the wrong thing, such as selling the wrong product in the wrong market, but failure is the only way you will learn, and the only way you will reach success. If you don’t fail, you can’t succeed.

 

And simply by starting, you have succeeded already, succeeded in getting way beyond the point that most people reach, which is usually just saying, ‘One day I will’. Make today that ‘one day’ – why wait until tomorrow, when tomorrow never comes?

 

 

Focus, focus, focus.

 

 

It is important to maintain your focus on what you actually want to achieve. Are you aiming for an additional income to supplement an existing wage; or are you looking to make an Internet business a full-time occupation?

 

Whatever your focus is, it is important that you continually work towards it until you achieve it, whatever knockbacks or challenges you receive along the way.

 

 

Be careful what you read – beware of information overload.

 

 

There is so much information out there about how to do business online, much of it contradictory, that it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction.

 

Rather than read everything and anything you can get your hands on, it is best to find just a few people who you trust, who have a good reputation, and who are actually qualified to give the advice they give, and listen to them.

 

A little high-quality information can be worth a great deal.

 

It is also useful to watch what they actually do, and compare that to what they say – sometimes the two are very different, and following what they do is far more useful.

 

 

Don’t aim for perfection before you ‘launch’.

 

 

No web site is ever perfect, and if you try to reach a high level of perfection before you launch or make your site live, you will lose more than you can achieve. Plus your version of ‘perfection’ may differ a great deal to what actually works with your market.

 

Once your site is functional and of a reasonable quality, start promoting it immediately. Start to build up your mailing list by requesting the email addresses of your visitors. Test what works with your visitors and what does not, and alter your site accordingly.

 

 

Listen to your visitors and customers.

 

 

When you have started and got a web site up and running, it is important to listen to your visitors and customers, and to treat them with great respect. Not only will you learn a great deal from them about what the market is actually looking for, you can also earn lifelong customers and friends.

 

Positive comments from customers can be used with their permission as testimonials on your web site, which will strengthen your online credibility and profit potential.

 

Be prepared to continually adjust your web site to meet the market demands. A web site is never ‘finished’, a successful web site must evolve over time on a continual path of improvement.

 

 

But most importantly…

 

 

Decide to succeed – right now.

By Steve Shaw,streetdirectory.com

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10 Ways Focus Groups Can Propel Your Profits

2009/03/07 at 10:57 am (Article)

A focus group is a group of employees or current customers that discuss and brainstorm new ways to improve different parts of your business.

 

1. They can give you new ideas on how to advertise and market your product or service to your targeted audience.

 

2. They can give you ideas that could help improve your current product or service. For example, you could make it smaller, faster, heavier, etc.

 

3. They can give you ideas for new products or services to develop and sell. For example, a new gift wrapping service for your products.

 

4. They can help you solve lingering problems with your business. For example, you could give your employees incentives to solve slow production.

 

5. They can give you new ideas on how to cut costs and save money. For example, you could recycle damaged or old products instead of trashing them.

 

6. They can find new ways to improve your current customer service policy. For example, hire extra operators so you don’t have to put anyone on hold.

 

7. They can give you new ideas on how to get the most and best out of your employees in the less amount of time.

 

8. They can give you news ideas for upsell, back end and add-on products to sell. For example, you could upsell a video when selling your books.

 

9. They can help you find new ways to stay ahead of your competition. For example, you could give your customers free shipping.

 

10. They can give ideas for raising your employees morale. For example, you could hold a party, give them a holiday bonus, give them a free day, etc.

From streetdirectory.com/travel_guide

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How To Mind Map Your Business

2009/03/07 at 10:48 am (Article)

 

If you’re doing business on the Web, sooner or later you’ll probably begin to feel like a juggler trying to keep ten balls flying through the air at the same time. There are just too many elements in your business plan to keep them all going at once.

 

The solution?

 

For many people the solution would be to make a list of all the key elements in their business plan. But lists are linear and the Mind doesn’t think in a linear fashion. The Mind thinks in terms of associations, hierarchy, image, color, form, and pattern. So to organize your ideas and generate new ideas, a Map is much more effective than a list. In fact, at the back of your Mind, you probably already have a vaguely-defined map of your online business. A Mind Map is simply a way of putting that structure down on paper.

 

Mind Mapping, also known as ‘Radiant Thinking’, is a technique that was developed in the 1970’s by Tony Buzan. A Mind Map consists of a central word or concept, with 5 to 10 main ideas radiating out from that central concept.

 

Here’s an example of a Mind Map for an Internet Business.

 

At the center of a blank page are the words ‘My Internet Business Plan’, circled. Radiating out from those central words are seven key ideas, or Basic Organizing Ideas (BOIs): Search Engine Listings, Ezine Ads, Newsletter, Link Exchange, Writing Ezine Articles, Website, Affiliate Programs. Each of these BOIs is connected to the central circle by outward-pointing arrows, like the branches of a tree. You can see an illustration of this Mind Map at:

 

http://www.freezineweb.com/mind-map.html

 

Each Basic Ordering Idea sprouts a further set of ideas, also connected by outward-pointing arrows, like twigs at the end of a branch. For example, the Basic Organizing Idea ‘Ezine Ads’ gives rise to four more ideas: ‘Paid Ads, ‘Ad Swaps’, ‘Free Ads’, and ‘Ad Tracking’. ‘Ad Swaps’ in turn gives rise to two more ideas, ‘Newsletter’ and ‘Website’ and so on. Each Basic Organizing Idea can become the center of another Mind Map.

 

In one sense, a Mind Map is simply a map of what you know about a given topic, in this case your online business. And so it’s a very effective way of taking an ‘inventory’ of what you know about a particular subject at a given moment in time.

 

But a Mind Map also causes your brain to make associations. Because each Basic Ordering Idea can become the center of another Mind Map, a Mind Map is capable of producing endless associations. In fact, if you use a Mind Map, whether you’re writing an Ezine Article, writing an eBook, designing an entire website, or writing a sales letter, it’s virtually impossible to get ‘Writer’s Block’; the very structure of a Mind Map keeps giving rise to new associations.

 

Another key benefit of a Mind Map is that it helps you organize information hierarchically, in a way that is not possible with lists. The tree-like structure of a Mind Map is a hierarchy and in the process of arranging your information along the ‘branches’ and ‘twigs’ of a Mind Map, you’ll get a much better grasp of the information you’re dealing with.

 

So, to sum up, here are the basic techniques for drawing a Mind Map:

 

     
  • Place a central idea or concept in the middle of a blank page, and circle it. 
  • Jot down 5 to 10 Basic Ordering Ideas, radiating out from the central concept. 
  • Connect each Basic Ordering Idea to the central concept with outward-pointing arrows. 
  • As an aid to creating your Basic Ordering Ideas, ask yourself: “If the central concept of my Mind Map were a book, what would be the chapter headings?” 
  • Each Basic Ordering Idea can become the center of another Mind Map. 
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    You can find more information about Mind Maps at the following websites:

     

     

    by Michael Southon,streetdirectory.com

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    10 Tactics For Finding New Business Ideas

    2009/03/07 at 10:39 am (Article)

    I’m often asked how I come up with so many new business ideas so here are some tips for coming up with your very own business ideas.

    1. Expect to have ideas . If you believe you’re incapable of coming up with ideas then you won’t come up with any. Put aside any negativity about yourself or you creativity and expect to have ideas.

    2. Keep and open mind. Ideas can come from anywhere and some of the best ideas will seem daft or impossible based on your current knowledge, experience and assumptions. Try to be prepared to explore new ideas and to change your view of the world.

    3. Keep a written record of your ideas, ideas that inspire you or ideas that are new to you – When you write things down you are more likely to remember them and if you don’t you’ve got a record to refer back to. I keep a record of all the ideas I see, read/hear about or have and I review it regularly. My written record has also evolved into this blog full of ideas.

    4. Try to learn something new every day. Talk to other business people, talk to your friends and neighbours, talk to anyone that looks interesting and will talk to you. Read websites, magazines, books whatever medium you prefer try to read something that will expand your knowledge everyday. I enjoy business/entrepreneurs biographies and histories especially those that explain where the business or idea for it came from.

    5. Talk about your ideas. Talk about your ideas to anyone who will listen, more often that not it’s my wife who has to listen to my ideas, if she’s not around however I’ll talk to myself! Failing that write down what you’d say to someone to explain the idea. The point is that in explaining the idea you’ll usually spot flaws or areas for improvement thus making the idea better.

    6. Ask questions and listen to peoples problems, hopes, dreams and aspirations. As a small business consultant I always ask people what problems, issues or challenges they face in their business (or job), there are often good business opportunities in solving those problems. Peoples hopes, dreams and aspirations can provide ideas for example a business like Red Letter Days helps people fulfil their dreams by providing experiences such as driving a supercar or flying a plane. Weight Watchers appeals to those hoping to loose weight.

     7. Research see what else is out there that is similar. Evaluate potential competition and keep notes on what you find. Use the search engines to look for similar ideas, businesses or products and take notes on them.

    8. Draw a mind map. A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

    9. Synthesise ideas. Put two or more unrelated ideas together. One way to do this is to brainstorm with your team. You’ll get the best results if you’ve followed steps 1 – 6 first as you’ll have a larger pool of ideas to combine.

    10. Sleep on it. Go away for a while and think of something else, often your subconscious mind will continue to work on the problem and will come up with new ideas or refinements on the ideas you already have.

    from businessopportunitiesandideas.co.uk

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