Contents

As the old joke goes, the best thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything, the worst thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything.

Choosing Your Niche Market - Developing Laser Focus

Choosing Your Niche Market - Developing Laser FocusOne of the keys to being a successful Internet Entrepreneur is choosing a niche. One of the challenges of the World Wide Web is its expansive reach and versatile nature. As the old joke goes, the best thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything, the worst thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything.Pick a starting point that you're interested in and stick with it until you are successful or you have established that you idea is not as profitable as you originally thought.Okay, when you begin to market, where do you start? You know you don't want to compete with some of the large companies on the Net. However there are great opportunities for small and nimble operators.Analyze what you are selling or what you want to sell. It should be in an area that you know a lot about or want of learn about. It may have wide appeal, but think of those it appeals to most. For example, does your product appeal to musicians? That's a pretty wide market. Narrow it down. Who is most likely to be interested, singers or instrumentalists? From there you might want or need to narrow it even further. For example, your product might appeal to musicians of a certain age, or musicians who favor a certain kind of music or even a particular singer.After narrowing it down as far as you can, think of appropriate keywords. Check with Google to see how many sites come up using these keywords. Next use a site that tracks keyword usage (such as Word Tracker or Overture) to see if there are plenty of users looking for that information. If there are enough potential customers and the competition is low, you may have found your niche.After you have chosen your niche, try to use it in your Website title. This can help your Website ranking. Another tool for choosing a niche is to study the competition and find out how to make your site unique. Choosing a niche will help your Website stand out. Find one with plenty of potential customers and little competition and you have a very good chance of watching your business grow.

Is It Time To Kill Your Marketing Program?

Is It Time To Kill Your Marketing Program?

Ouch . . . sounds pretty drastic I know, but . . . If you've been in business for any length of time, you've no doubt been faced with the question, "Should I dump this marketing program or should I wait a little longer for it to start producing results?" Even if you're new in business, you may have tried a new way to market your business and with lukewarm results found yourself wondering how long you should stick with it before giving up and trying something else. It's the age-old question of "When is the right time to put a marketing program out to pasture?" This reminds me of my advertising agency days. We'd create a new ad campaign and run it for awhile, and because we (and the client) were exposed to that campaign day-in and day-out, we'd all tire of it quickly. Knowing when to hold and when to foldOften, the client would want a new campaign and we'd have to remind them their prospects hadn't seen the campaign nearly as much as we all had, and that it was best to let the campaign keep running. How do you know what to do?Just how do you know when it's time to let an ad campaign or marketing program keep on running and when it's time to try something new? The answer is very simple. Look at your resultsIt's time to make a change when the marketing is no longer producing results. And by results I mean, it's no longer moving you toward your objective. Are you achieving your objective?Every marketing activity should have a specific objective that is what you hope to achieve. Your objective may be to generate a certain number of phone calls, or web site hits, or even sales. Tracking your results will tell youYou'll want to track the results of your marketing activities from day one, so you'll know how well they are producing and you can monitor their trends. For example, you may get consistent results for weeks, months or even years. In this case, my motto is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Don't be tempted to make a change just because you're tired of it. If it's working, leave it be. Are your results on the decline?However, if your tracking shows you are steadily getting fewer and fewer responses (e.g. phone calls, web site visits, sales) it's probably time to freshen up that marketing or start anew. Or, maybe your results never really materializedAnd, if your marketing program has never really generated the response you are looking for, even if it's relatively young, it's also time to take a good hard look at reworking it to make it more effective. Just be careful not to give up too soonYou do need to give your marketing time to work most people will not act after seeing your message just once, but rather need to be exposed to it repeatedly before taking action (industry standard is between three and seven times). Having said that, if you've given your marketing ample time to produce results and nothing's happening, odds are you missed the mark and either the message or the medium is off. Is your message missing the boat?If your message is off, it means you are not effectively speaking to your prospects or hitting their "hot buttons." Do you really understand their problem or challenge? And does your marketing speak clearly to that issue and position your product or service as the best solution? Or are you missing your audience?If the medium is off, it means you have put your marketing message in a place where your prospects aren't likely to see it. It's important to understand your prospects and where and how you can best reach them so you can put your messages in those places. After all, if they don't see your message, they can't respond. What type of response rates can you expect?For direct marketing efforts a response rate between 1% and 3% is considered good. On the web a 1% conversion rate is the norm, so if you're doing better than that consider yourself lucky. You can expect a higher response rate from your current subscribers or clients because they already know and trust you. As far as new mailing list subscribers, expect between 5% and 15% of your web site visitors to join your mailing list. The key is to make sure your marketing is reaching enough people so these response rates yield results you can be happy with. If you've given it time and it's still not producing . . . If you've given your marketing program time to work and nothing much is happening, or if your results are on the decline, it's time to kill that program. Or, at least, to give it a makeover. Starting fresh can breathe new life into your businessConsider starting over with a fresh new approach, a new message, and some new mediums. Make sure your new marketing program is grounded in solid marketing strategy. The 10stepmarketing System is a simple way to be sure of this and you don't need a marketing degree to figure it out! Learn more about this simple system at http://www.10stepmarketing.com (C) Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa

Where Businesses Fall Short

Where Businesses Fall Short

1. No vision. Successful businesses have a clear vision or picture of their business purpose and mission. Your vision serves as a roadmap to help you see where you are today in relationship to where you want to be tomorrow. Your business plan serves as the mechanism that will help you to bridge the gap. When you don't have a clear vision as to why you're in business or where you intend to take your business, it's like taking a road trip without a map. When you don't know where you're going, you'll waste a lot of time, money, and energy trying to find the right road leading to your destination. A well-defined vision will help you stay focused and on track.2. No niche. One of the most common reasons for business failure stems from having a poorly defined niche. A niche can refer to a target market or to an area of specialization. When businesses fail to target a specific group of consumers, they risk being attractive to no one. Perhaps it has its underpinnings in the saying, You can't please everyone. The more narrowly you market your business, the better your chances of generating new business. Market yourself as an expert in a specialty, while showcasing yourself to a narrow market that you can most benefit.3. No business plan. Your business plan is your strategy. It includes many important items like defining your business niche and target market, your marketing plan, financial projections, staffing, investments, as well as the benefits and features of your products and services. Referring back to your vision for your business, it is your business plan that provides the strategies to move you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. If you don't have a business plan to follow, your chances of achieving success are greatly diminished. Plans have a way of becoming reality. Craft your plan carefully and use it to guide your progress forward.4. No marketing plan. A marketing plan outlines the steps you intend to take to sell your product or service. As one component of the overall business plan, it identifies your niche, your product or service benefits, the strategies you'll employ to reach your target market, as well as how much you intend to spend. Marketing is fundamental to your company's success. Without it, you won't have any customers or clients. For this reason, it's critical to spend the extra effort to develop one. 5. No marketing calendar. This item is a subset of the overall marketing plan. It is critical to any marketing effort in that it schedules when you intend to implement various marketing strategies. By having a calendar, you'll be more organized about how you go about marketing. Also, it provides a way to track what you've done and the results of your efforts. Marketing is not a one-time effort, but rather something that must be done consistently over time. A calendar is critical to staying on target and on track with your marketing plan.6. No action. Taking action is the foundation of progress. Without it you will have no clients and ultimately no business. Sometimes business owners get caught up in process so that they are unable to make decisions. Other times they suffer from being perfectionists and don't implement ideas because they don't think they are good enough. Anything that prevents you from moving forward will lead you down the path to failure. Until decisions are made, flow is stopped and that usually means your business is blocked as well. Until you put your products or services out there, you're never going to make sales. It's better to take some action, risking an outcome you might not desire, than to stop and stagnate.7. No customer service program. You're in business only because you have customers or clients. In order to get business and to maintain it, it's important to have a "customer service" program. A program can include anything from the methods you use to gain new clients, to how you service them once they are your clients. It includes follow up visits or calls, providing information to them about current or new products and services, and, most importantly, kind, courteous, and prompt service when they have a problem or issue. It's expensive to get new clients. It's better and easier to retain the one's you have by employing an outstanding customer service program.8. No strategic partners. Successful business owners don't go it alone. They associate, partner, and network with other highly successful and exceptional people. Partnering with others is a way to quickly expand the reach of your own business. There's a wonderful synergy that comes with doing things with others. There are more ideas, more knowledge, and more resources to create products and services. While you can be successful on your own, you can do more and do it more quickly when you work with others. 9. No ways of monitoring progress. You cannot manage what you cannot monitor or measure. Every business needs to identify its key success factors. It might be the number of products sold, the number of service hours provided, the number of signups generated from an email campaign, or even the perception of your business in the local community. The only way you can improve your business and attain the success you desire, is by measuring the results of your actions. You'll be able to identify what is working and also where the shortfalls exist. You can use any number of methods including internal operating checklists, customer surveys, and even peer reviews - feedback from your alliance partners or competitors. This valuable feedback will be extremely useful in realigning your business efforts in the direction that maximizes success.10. No professional approach. Successful businesses develop systems to deal with all aspects of business operations. Whether it's a system for marketing products or services, or a system for dealing with customer orders or complaints, policies and procedures serve to make business run more smoothly. Your systems will cultivate a sense of confidence and trust in the hearts and minds of prospects and current customers that they will be dealt with in a consistent and professional manner. 11. No commitment to learning. There is no place for complacency when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Successful business owners search constantly for new and better ways to get clients as well as to serve the ones they already have. They are aware of the latest trends and ideas so they can create products and services which best serve the changing needs of their target market. They learn about and implement processes that increase the effectiveness of their day-to-day operations. By committing yourself to learning and to implementing what you learn, you're committing yourself to success in all parts of your business.12. No follow up. Business owners that don't follow up with clients and customers are perceived as inattentive, uncaring, and unprofessional. Lack of follow up is a surefire way to lose clients and to ensure that you won't be referred any new ones. Whether it's returning phone calls, following up with emails, or delivering a product or service to the client as promised, make sure that you complete these tasks. Following up is fundamental to creating great, long-term customer relationships. Not only does it show that you respect your clients, it is a standard of excellence among business professionals.13. No consistency. Consistent action is one of the most important habits to cultivate if you truly desire business success. First, you must be committed to the long-term - that it will take time to build up your business. But more importantly, you must be committed to taking consistent action - taking the steps to market yourself on a regular basis. The only way to be heard above the noise' of thousands of other marketing messages is for potential customers to see and hear about you on a regular basis. Each day, commit yourself to taking one action that will increase your visibility or credibility. You'll be surprised at how quickly these little steps build into much larger successes.14. No way to monitor website activity. The success of your website is dependent on multiple visits and repeat visits to your website. In order to determine the effectiveness of your website, it's important to monitor which parts of your website are attracting the most traffic. Successful companies use various tracking software programs to see which pages are visited most often and which links are clicked most frequently. This valuable information will tell you what is and is not working. If something isn't drawing the attention you desire, it's important to make changes and quickly. Making changes to your website is one of the easiest things to do to keep your business moving forward.15. Not willing to ask for the sale. Without sales, you won't be in business. No matter how skillful you are with running the day-to-day business operations, if you don't sell your products or services, you won't need to worry about running a business for long. All of the marketing efforts in the world won't create customers who are beating down your door to buy from you. Your marketing effort must extend beyond the regularly scheduled activities on your marketing calendar. Being confident in what you are selling, being skillful in conveying benefits and features, and managing objections are key to making sales. The most important action to take, however, is simply to ask for the sale. Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

Is Self-Employment Right For You?

Is Self-Employment Right For You?

Business ownership can be one of lifes most rewarding experiences under the right circumstances and at the right time! Its not necessarily better than having a job its just different. For some, self-employment is the ideal career solution. How about you?The exercises below are designed to help you ask the tough questions, and quickly discover whether self-employment would be right for you or not. So, take out paper and pen or get comfortable in front of your computer because youre about to do some important homework!If youre seriously considering the self-employment option, there are two main questions to ask yourself:1. Is self-employment potentially right for you? 2. If so, which of the four paths to business ownership would be most appropriate for you?Lets address both of these important questions.In the world of work, you have two main career paths: Self-Employment and Getting a Job. Youve probably already gone the getting a job route. If youre reading this article, chances are that youve found your jobs unsatisfying. So, now youre probably asking yourself, Could self-employment be right for me?The following three questions will provide some direction:1. Why are you exploring entrepreneurial alternatives at this time?2. Rate your desire/motivation/commitment to have your own business, 1 to 10 (10 being the highest)?3. If you could land the ideal job OR start your ideal business, which would you choose TODAY?Focus now on the first of these three questions, because you must first understand your core motivators:- Whats your WHY? (Lifestyle, income, image/prestige, leave a legacy, control, build equity, self-expression, independence, make a difference, passionate interest, etc.??) Unless you identify and hold onto your deepest need and desire, you will not have a strong likelihood of succeeding. So, spend some time writing about your WHY!----------------------------------There are Four Paths to Business Ownership:1. Become a Consultant2. Buy an Existing Business3. Start a New Business4. Buy a FranchiseBelow, you will see the unique considerations for each of these entrepreneurial pathways. Take some time to answer all the questions in the four categories.BECOME A CONSULTANT - UNIQUE CONSIDERATIONS- What markets will you serve?- What services will you offer?- Who will be your competition?- How will you price your services?- How will you market and sell your services?BUY AN EXISTING BUSINESS - UNIQUE CONSIDERATIONS- What type of business do you want to buy?- How do you envision your own role?- How will you finance the purchase?- What will you expect of the seller?START A NEW BUSINESS - UNIQUE CONSIDERATIONS- What markets will the business serve?- What products or services will you offer?- Who will be your competition?- How will you market and sell your products or services?- How will you finance the business?BUY A FRANCHISE - UNIQUE CONSIDERATIONS- What type of business do you want to be in?- How do you envision your own role?- What will you expect from the Franchisor?- How will you finance the purchase?Go back now, and review all your answers. Then address the questions below, as thoroughly as you can.What are your Pros and Cons for each entrepreneurial option?1. Become a ConsultantPros:Cons:2. Buy an Existing BusinessPros:Cons:3. Start a New BusinessPros:Cons:4. Buy a FranchisePros:Cons:In reviewing this brief list of Pros and Cons for each of the four business options, which choice seems best for you right now? Why?Another way to determine if self-employment could work for you is to consider your own qualifications and preferences. Many people THINK they could successfully own and manage a business but in reality, this takes a particular kind of person with a specific set of skills. This section will help you do an honest self-assessment.YOUR QUALIFICATIONS FOR OWNING A BUSINESSThe main categories of ability include:- Marketing and Sales- Financial Management- Operations and Administration- Human Resources- General ManagementFor each category above, answer these questions:- What results will the business require each year to become and remain successful?- What education, training or experience do you have to indicate that you will be capable of producing desired results?- Are you personally interested in, and willing to do, the required tasks?- If you do not plan to lead specific parts of the business, who will manage them, and how much will you need to pay those people?Every business has its challenges, but some of the biggest challenges of self-employment often come from the inside. Here are some of the most common personal issues faced by new entrepreneurs.PREDICTABLE CHALLENGES- Do you feel certain or doubtful about becoming self-employed?- What are the major challenges or obstacles you will face?- What are your biggest concerns or fears?- What questions or issues do you still have?There are definitely answers to your questions, and there is help to get you through the transition effectively!Here are five more questions for you to consider:1. Two years from now, the qualities that you want most in your work/career are:2. Will you have those qualities in your work if you continue doing what youve been doing?3. If not, what changes must you make in order to make these qualities a reality?4. Could "business owner" ship or franchising help you create these desired qualities in your work/career? How?5. If youre still interested in business ownership, what are the next steps you will take (include approximate dates for completion): If these exercises have made you decide that self-employment is NOT for you, thats actually a positive outcome. Think of all the time, frustration and money youll save by not going into business! On the other hand, if the questions above have crystallized and clarified your intention to own a business, then nothing should hold you back from the great entrepreneurial adventure.May you achieve success greater than your dreams!---------------------------------- Copyright 2006, Ford R. Myers. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright 2006, Ford R. Myers and The Franchise Alliance, LLC.

New Gadgets - Six Ideas

It is possible that some of these new gadgets already exist in an inventor's basement or garage somewhere. One or two may even be patented, but then again, maybe not. Probably most things are dreamt up ten or ten thousand times before someone actually does something with the idea. The dreaming is more fun for some of us, so feel free to do something with the following.Magnets For WindowsThese signs would be a new advertising gadget. Already, thousands of businesses use large flexible magnetic signs for their vehicles, with the company name and logo on them. However, these can only be used on metallic surfaces. To to stick to car or building windows, they need to have a similar magnet or steel mesh material that is placed on the other side of the glass, to hold them in place magnetically. This may not be a patentable product, but the first to trademark a catchy name and market them widely might do well.Invisible WallsThis new gadget would just be fun. Make a wall covered with properly placed cameras, and use the other side of the wall as the projection screen for these cameras. The effect would be that of looking right through, into the other room. It would be like an invisible wall. Although I'm not sure what the practical applications might be, an "invisible ceiling" would provide a nice view at night.Barking Dog AlarmThere are already all sorts of new home security gadgets out there, but there is room for many more. One not-so-new idea is the motion-sensors that set off an alarm. The problem with these is that a criminal may still enter the home, either intending to be in and out quickly, or to turn off the alarm. On the other hand, if the sensor triggers a realistic recording of several large dogs barking, he may hesitate to go further.Helium Balloon Cell Phone AntennaOften a cell phone won't work simply for the lack of elevation to get it above interfering hills and other obstacles to the signal. This new gadget would be a simple wire antenna that could be attached to any helium balloon. With light wire, the balloon might lift the antenna 50 or a 100 feet into the air to pick up that signal. A mylar balloon and a tiny canister of helium could be marketed with it too.Kitchen Towel GadgetMy Kitchen towel gets in the way when I hang it on the refrigerator handle. However, if it had a small but strong magnet sewn into one corner, I could "hang" it anywhere on the refrigerator, or on any other steel surface.Easy Push Door KnobsSome people have trouble turning a door knob. Why not make a door knob that is simply pushed to open the door (or pulled if the door opens out)? Hopefully I am too late, and this is already being sold somewhere. Making life easier for those who are disabled and/or older is a great area for inventing "new gadgets" of all sorts.

Ready, Fire, Aim!

You probably read my headline and thought, wait a minute, isn't that backwards? Isn't it supposed to be "Ready, Aim, Fire?" Well, a year ago I might have agreed with you. But not anymore. What changed? I did! And boy am I glad I did. Let me tell you a little story. Up until last year, I was one of those people who planned everything down to the smallest detail. I guess you could say I planned things to death! Ever heard of "analysis paralysis?" Well I had it big time! I just was not comfortable doing anything, especially in business, until I had done ALL my research and put all my ducks in a row. As a result, it often took a long time to get up and running with new ideas. Then I experienced "Ready, Fire, Aim"Last fall, I was first introduced to the concept of "Ready, Fire, Aim" at a seminar where I was thrown full bore into this way of thinking and acting. Talk about baptism by fire! Not only did it change me, I learned something. That I could learn more and do more faster if I didn't get caught up in overanalyzing everything. I came home excited about adopting this new approach to my life. What happened? Well, my business and I have grown more in the last eight months than either had grown in the past seven years. I've made some mistakes, but another funny thing happened along the way. I realized the mistakes DIDN'T KILL ME! In fact, I've learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. I learned mistakes are a GOOD thing!Suddenly everything I learned in school about NOT making mistakes just didn't fit anymore. Mistakes don't make you a bad person or even an unlucky person. They make you a smarter person! They say Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb. I hope we don't have to fail that many times before we find success, but what I do know is every mistake and every failure brings us one step closer to success. Don't get stuckYou may be wondering why someone who advocates planning (The 10stepmarketing System is ALL about creating a marketing PLAN for your business) is touting the virtues of "Ready, Fire, Aim," the seeming antithesis of planning. It's because I don't want you to get stuck like I was for so many years. Get into the game, even if you think you're not readyNot getting out there and into the game because you're afraid you're not quite ready or might make a mistake, IS the mistake. Don't make it! My advice? Take the time to create a marketing plan for your business but don't get bogged down if you still have questions or uncertainty about how to market effectively. Just start. Do the best you can and KNOW you will learn more every step of the way. It's the only way to discover YOUR "magic marketing" formulaThe longer you're out there actively marketing and tracking your success and your failures, the closer you'll be to finding your "magic marketing" formula. Your "magic marketing" formula brings together exactly the right marketing activities with the right marketing message and the right audience in the right place at the right time for YOUR business to result in HUGE success! While there are some basic marketing principles that will help you get to your magic formula quicker, nothing replaces good old testing and fine-tuning. After 20 years in the business, I still practice it regularly. Because I know there are certain things you can do to set yourself up for success, but at some point you just have to go for it. Are you stuck?If you're stuck without a "marketing plan" or you'd like to learn some simple steps you can take to position your business for marketing success, The 10stepmarketing System can help. This simple system tells you exactly what you need to do, step-by-step, so you can uncover your "magic marketing" formula quicker. Don't get stuck trying to figure it out on your own. Get help at www.10stepmarketing.com. Learn "Ready, Fire, Aim" the way I didI can teach you how to market your business more effectively, but sometimes to find true success we also need to change ourselves. If you're committed to being healthier, happier and richer and you're willing to be pushed beyond your comfort zone to accomplish that, I highly recommend T. Harv Eker's Peak Potentials program. It's where I learned to live "Ready, Fire, Aim!" and I know I'll never go back to the way I used to be. You can learn more here. (C) Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa

Summary

As the old joke goes, the best thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything, the worst thing about the Web is that you can do virtually anything.