Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays

 


Since New Years is the time to resolve to make changes;
How many of these Top 10 New Years Resolutionsare on your list?

1) Lose Weight and Get In Better Shape
2) Stick to a Budget
3) Debt Reduction
4) Enjoy more Quality Time With Friends and Family
5) Find My Soul Mate
6) Quit Smoking
7) Find a Better Job
8) Learn Something New
9) Volunteer and Help Others
10) Get Organized

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8593606660559945070&hl

To your health and Wealth in 2007 and beyond!
Happy Holidays to you and your family

http://www.scollsolutions.com/

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hot Sites to Watch

 

Here a few of the web's rising stars:

PINGER.COM - Lets you send voice mail from mobile phone to an email address

DOOSTANG.COM - An invitation only career-networking site; aims to be a facebook for the Morgan Stanley crowd.

37SIGNALS.COM - Elegant, easy to use; offers web-based software for project collaboration .

PANDORA.COM - Takes song you like and creates an instant radio station that suits your taste.

BLURB.COM - From pictures, ducuments, recipes or a blog, creates a professional- looking book for as little as $30.00

ACTIVE.COM - An online community and information site for athletes

BREAK.COM - A video site for young men

COLLEGEHUMOR.COM - A commedy site

DEVIANTART.COM - A community for artists

DIVX - Creates software and tools for video

GLOBAL GAMING LEAGUE - An online community for gamers

TECHNORATI - Searches through blogs for information (blogoshere)

and ofcourse a lot has been said about MYSPACE and YOUTUBE

www.scrollsolutions.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The value of time.

 
This is nice extract on time management from Russel :

I'm not sure when you are reading this, but I'm writing it the day after Thanksgiving. I saw a lot of stuff happen this weekend that made me think about the value of time.
If you are living in the US, the day after Thanksgiving is called "black Friday" because all the stores have huge sales to get them back into the black.
Now, Friday afternoon I was playing w/ my twin boys, but when my family got back from shopping, I heard stories about saving $20-$30 on some stuff... but having to wait in line for 2-3 hours to buy the product.
That doesn't even count the time it takes to drive to the store, find parking and then fight your way through all the people.
This made me think...
If someone spent 4 hours saving $20.... how much did the actually save?
I'm not sure about you, but I value my time very highly. It's the only thing in the world that I don't get more of.
So, what do you value your time at? If you are working for a job, getting paid $8 an hour... then your time is valued at $8 an hour.
So, if you were shopping this weekend, and you spent 4 hours - it cost you $32 (if you are charging $8 an hour). If you value your time at higher - then it could have cost you a fortune.
Well, I personally value my time around $1k an hour. The reason...? If I spend a focused hour on a project, it will always turn into at least $1k (usually more).
So, when people call and want me to consult them on a project, I charge between $600 - $1,000 an hour depending on the client and the situation.
That is why I believe so strongly in outsourcing - because it's usually a lot cheaper to hire someone to do a task - then to personally do it myself.
Last weekend we paid 2 people $650 to clean up my yard for the winter. It took them 7 hours each to get the job done.
So, If I would have done the work myself, it would have cost me $14,000 to do it (7 hours X 2 people X $1k an hour).
In that case - $650 is a no brainier.

Now, with that said... I want to show you some ways to free up some more personal time for yourself to get done the stuff that YOU have to get done.
1st - learn to cluster your time. One of the things that kills the productivity of online business owners is instant communication.
People want to answer their emails or phone calls the second they come in. I can tell you from experience that this will kill your productivity.
Every time you start into a project, you are interrupted by email, phone calls, instant messages....
Learn to cluster your time - take 60 minutes at the end of your work day when you are less productive... and then (and only then) answer your emails - and make phone calls back.
You need large clusters of time that you can focus 100% on a project so you can get more done faster.
2nd - Kill your email addresses. Have you ever tried to email me? If so you've probably got a response saying that you have to submit a ticket to my help desk.
The reason?
First - so I can cluster my timeSecond - because I've outsourced my customer support
I think email is the biggest killer of productivity in the world. I've turned off all but one of my email addresses - and if more then 10 people find that one out - then I kill it and start over. Beware of email.
So, what help desk software do I recommend? There are a lot out there - currently we are using www.kayako.com and it's been great.
3rd - Charge for your time. You should not be giving away your most valuable asset for free. Every second that I am spending with a client, I am not able to spend with my wife or the twins.
We talked earlier about the value of your time... how much is your time worth? As you grow in your niche, people will start trying to get your time for free.
Beware of this - because it will quickly kill your productivity and your business.
Have you ever tried to call me? I've set it up where it's impossible for anyone besides my wife to call me and get through. My assistant tells anyone calling requesting my time to visit http://www.jvwithrussell.com/.
I have my call times clustered, and charge $300 for every 30 minutes that someone wants to talk on the phone.
I use a company called "Ether" (see the pic above) that charges the person and then lets them ring through to my line. http://www.ether.com/
The service is free to use - they just take a % of what your client is paying you to talk. You can bill people by the minute, hour, per call. It's awesome way to make sure you are charging for your time.
4th - Replace yourself. Your goal as an entrepreneur isn't to work forever - it's to create a business that will generate the money you need to live the life you want.
So, from day #1, you need to be thinking about HOW to replace yourself. The first thing you need to replace is your customer support. Do this as fast as you can. Then follow it with website design, writing, link trading, research... anything and everything else you can until your business can run without you.
That should be the end goal of your business. That is the dream that you, me and everyone is looking for online.
Replace your self by either outsourcing the tasks you currently do - or hire employees.
NOTE: When hiring employees - be sure to read "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber and save yourself a few of the headaches I had before I read his book. You can get it on Amazon for about $12.
I hope that this newsletter has been beneficial. As your business grows, you are going to find yourself with less time every day. If you're not careful, it will consume you.
What you started so you could have more time - will be taking every last second you have. Remember the value of your time because every second it precious.
I hope this helps.
Thanks

http://www.scrollsolutions.com/

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ways to Create a Product

 

1- Software Creation - Creating software is one of the easiest ways to create a product fast. You can create something for almost any niche. I have one client who had a public domain book about dream interpretation - so he had someone create a software program for under $100 where the user could type in a word, and if found that interpretation in the book and displayed it for the end user.
2- Public Domain - this is one of my FAVORITES!!! These are "works" where the copyrights has expired. You are able to take these and re-package them and sell them as your own products!
3- Interviews - interview an expert in ANY field and sell the recordings and/or the transcripts. This is the best way to become an expert in any field - just interview the experts and people will see you as one of them.
4- Seminar Videos - put on your own seminar, record it with a video camera and sell the footage.
5- Re-niche content - if your selling a product (or bought rights to a product) - you can re-niche it for a different audience. Example would be if you sell a book about speed reading, re-niche it to "speed reading for students."
6- Book on CD - record yourself reading your book and sell it on cd.
7- Resource CD - compile a list of resources for a specific niche, and sell the directory. I've personally bought resources on supplements directories and also one on "spy" stuff. (I know - I'm a geek)
8- Recycle content - take products or content you've created in the past and re-use it. I'm using this blog post as a newsletter, an article, probably a chapter in a future book... Recycle what you're doing now.
9- Camtasia Video - this is one of the most powerful tools online marketers have. Create screen capture videos of anything you can do on your computer. Demos of software - PowerPoint slides, how to... anything computer related. Think how much moolah the "computer professor" makes by making "how to" videos for different Microsoft products.
10- Idea collection - Combine a list of ideas and sell those. I've got friends who sell list of ideas on how to make money quickly, how to clean your carpets, how to take care of lawns, etc...
11- Others experts submit content - get others to submit articles, or audios, or vidoes, and compile them into a product. I did this with one of my wrestling products. I had people submit their best stories, pictures and poems and compiled them into a product.
12- Podcasts - like an online radio show that you can download. Have paid podcasts - or record a bunch, then take the recordings and put them onto CD's.
13- Membership sites - have residual income coming in when people pay you over and over again for access to your membership site. You can provide content in your membership sites - or create software programs that people have to pay monthly to use.
14- Teleseminars - just record yourself interviewing someone or teaching on a subject that you know a lot about. The majority of my products were created with some type of teleseminar.
15- Ghostwriters - hire someone (think outsourcing again) to write a book on a the subject that you want to sell (http://www.guru.com/).
16- Free coaching calls - do free coaching calls for your members, track their progress, then compile the recordings into a product.
17- Mastermind roundtables - get a group of experts together and have them discuss the subject - record the full thing and you've got an instant product!
18- Private Label - similar to public domain, but usually created w/ the intent to sell w/out a copyright. A million ways to use private label stuff. Most people fail at this because they try to sell the content "as is." Be sure to make it your own and you'll have a ton of success with these. 19- Case studies - one of the best products I bought this year is 12 hours of case studies. The people teaching the course compiled hundreds of casestudies for the subject we were learning about, and then explained how they all worked

www.scrollsolutions.com

Monday, November 13, 2006

Innovative Ways To Use Your Autoresponder

 

1. Collect leads with your autoresponder. You will get
an e-mail digest of everyone's e-mail addresses who
requests information from your autoresponder.

2. Publish a price list of all the products and services
that you offer. You could also include order forms,
product descriptions, and other sales material.

3. Publish free reports in autoresponder format. The
reports should be related to your business or web site.
Giving away free stuff will quickly increase your traffic.

4. Collect vital customer satisfaction information by
publishing a survey in autoresponder format. This type
of information will help you serve them better.

5. Instead of answering every customer question that's
e-mailed to you, publish " Frequently Ask Questions" in
autoresponder format. This will save time and money.

6. You could publish your testimonials or endorsements
in autoresponder format if you don't have the room in
your ad copy. It's more effective to include all of them.

7. Provide back issues of your e-zine archives in auto-
responder format. This will give your subscribers and
web site visitors easy access to them.

8. Publish your entire web site in autoresponder format.
Sometimes visitors don't have enough time read your
entire site. They could print it out and read it offline.

9. You could offer your ebook in autoresponder format.
Your visitors won't have to download it or have the
software to read it right away.

10. You could publish the terms and conditions to any
business transactions in autoresponder format. Thiscould include return policies, purchases, refunds etc

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stay Motivated

 
The last two weekends have been awesome for me, I was at an internet bootcamp with some of the best brains in the business of internet marketing, hosted by Frank Garon, I even picked a few autographs. Here is the line up at the event:

Derek Gehl,
Brian Ellis,
Neil strafford and Neil Traverse,
Ted Ciuba,
Willie Crawford,
Carl Gilletti,
Randy Charach,
Stephen pierce,
Len Thurman,
Mike Filsame,
Mark Anastasis

Get their products if you can, here are few tips

Amazing Ways To Jump Start Your Sales:

1.Find a strategic business partner. Look for ones that have the same objective. You can trade leads, share marketing info, sell package deals, etc.

2. Brand your name and business. You can easily do this by just writing articles and submitting them to e-zines or web sites for republishing.

3. Start an auction on your web site. The type of auction could be related to the theme of your site. You'll draw traffic from auctioneers and bidders.

4. Remember to take a little time out of your day or week to brainstorm. New ideas are usually the difference between success and failure.

5. Model other successful business or people. I'm not saying out right copy them, but practice some of the same habits that have made them succeed.

6. Take risks to improve your business. Sometimes businesses don't want to advertise unless it's free, sometimes you have to spend money to get results.

7. Include emotional words in your advertisements. Use ones like love, security, relief, freedom, happy, satisfaction, fun, etc.

8. Ask people online to review your web site. You can use the comments you get to improve your web site or you may turn the reviewer into a customer.

9. Out source part of your workload. You'll save on most employee costs. You could out source your secretarial work, accounting, marketing, etc.

10. Combine a product and service together in a package deal. It could increase your sales. If you're selling a book, offer an hour of consulting with it

Emmanuel Sodipo

www.scrollsolutions.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Write A Business Plan To Fast-Track Your Profits!(Homebusiness Ideas)

If you're serious about the success of your online business, then you need to find ways to give yourself every advantage you can over your competition. One strategy that I can almost GUARANTEE your competitors haven't tried is building customized blueprints that outline exactly how their businesses will succeed. The process of writing a business plan for your company can be a crucial step in getting your profits to where you want them to be.
If you're thinking, "But I'm just a one-person business working part-time out of my home... I don't need a business plan," think again! Unless you want your business to stay small and to keep your day job, you desperately need a business plan. It's one of the best ways to motivate yourself to drive your business to the next level.
And if your business is still just an idea in your head, and you've been wondering for months how to get started, here's your answer: Start planning! Clear your schedule this weekend, print off this article, and get down to business!
What's Your Purpose?
A business plan can serve a couple of main purposes: In the world of banking and venture capital, business plans play a huge role for people who are trying to secure start-up funding from banks or investors. The better the business plan, the better the chances of landing that big initial investment.
For smaller companies, who (luckily) do not need to rely on outside funding to get started, a business plan serves more as a company blueprint. It identifies the company's purpose, products, market, and goals, as well as the steps the company plans to take to reach those goals.
So before you start writing, you'll need to decide what purpose your business plan is going to serve. If you're writing a formal business plan to secure financing, you'll need to be far more concerned about detail and format than if you're just preparing one for your own personal use. No matter which approach you're taking, though, you need to know that there are 7 main sections that should be included in just about every business plan.
Section 1: The Executive Summary
The executive summary is basically your entire business plan condensed down into a page or two (at the most). If and when you show your business plan to others, this is the only part that 75% of them will actually read. For this reason, you need to make this section as clear, concise, and exciting as possible.
Your executive summary should contain a few key items. You'll want to start out with a brief description of exactly what your business does, who your market is, and what opportunity you've identified as the inspiration for your business. Explain what sets your company apart from others in the same field.
You'll also need to discuss financial information such as projected revenues and, if you'll be using this business plan to secure financing, how much money you need and what you will be using it for. Don't go into too much financial detail in this section. You'll just want to include the most important figures.
Also, be sure to mention your company's achievements, including all of the milestones reached to date. Even if all you've done so far is register a domain name, put together a web site, or file a patent application, be sure to include this information in this section of your business plan.
Section 2: Description of Business
This section will contain an in-depth description of your company, including what products or services you sell, who your customers are, what your operating structure is (Are you a wholesaler? A reseller? A manufacturer?), the legal details of your company (Is it a corporation? A partnership? A sole proprietorship?), and your distribution methods.
This is the section of your business plan where you will identify what makes your company unique and where you'll address the following questions:
What are you offering that others aren't?
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Why will people choose to do business with you instead of other players in the same marketplace?
If you've already been in business for awhile, you will also want to use this section to talk about the history of the company. Talk about what inspired you to start the company and how fast it is growing. Address the more concrete details as well, such as how much equipment you own or lease and where your office is located.
Section 3: Market Strategies
Think of this section as your marketing plan. This is where you'll want to go into detail regarding who your target market is and how you intend to sell to them. This section will contain information about how big your audience is, how fast it is growing, and how large you expect your market share to be.
Some great sites where you can start this research are:
CyberAtlas -- http://cyberatlas.internet.com/
Nua Internet Surveys -- http://www.nua.ie/surveys/
MarketResearch.com -- http://www.marketresearch.com/
In this section, you will also talk about how you intend to market your product or service to your target audience. Will you focus on pay-per-click search engine traffic? Banner advertising? E-zine sponsorships? How much do you expect to spend on advertising, and what sort of return do you expect from those advertising dollars?
Be sure to think carefully about which marketing strategies to include here. Don't just list off every single advertising technique you can think of. You need to realistically evaluate all the possibilities, and then focus on the two or three marketing techniques that will produce the biggest return on investment.
If you think this sounds like a lot of work just for a business plan, think again! This is the kind of legwork and research you should be doing anyway! And once you've figured out how much your marketing and advertising is going to cost, you can put together a schedule of how much you can afford to spend on various campaigns each month.
Section 4: Competitive Analysis
The competitive analysis section of your business plan is where you explain, in detail, the strengths and weaknesses of your main competitors. This will allow you to realistically determine where you can position your business in the market in relation to your competition.
Make sure to do an honest appraisal of who your competition is. If your site is selling board games, your main competition is NOT Toys 'R' Us. Instead, your biggest competitors are other niche sites that focus on selling board games. These are the sites that you can realistically expect to compete with for customers interested in buying your products online.
Nevertheless, you should still pay attention to the "major players" in your competitive analysis. Take a look at how they are marketing to board game buyers, and what areas they are lacking in. Based on your research, you should be able to capitalize on the weaknesses of others in your market space and snatch customers away from them by positioning your offer to meet a need that everyone else is neglecting.
A great tool for doing competitive analysis is http://www.alexa.com/, which allows you to discover how much traffic your competitors are getting in relation to your site and see who they are linking to. Compare your own traffic ranking to your competitors' traffic rankings in Alexa every month or so. This way, you'll be able to gauge your progress against your competition. Spend some time getting familiar with this site -- it will become an invaluable resource tool for you!
Section 5: Development Plan and/or Operational Strategy
If your company is still in the developmental stage (with no product and/or no revenues), this is the section where you will explain how you are going to bring your company into the marketplace. The best way to do this is to write out a development timeline with the projected completion dates for various milestones your company will need to reach before it can start making sales.
This is the section where you must plan to profit! Failing to do so is one of the most common mistakes made by businesses. All too often, people just set up shop without ever really planning exactly HOW they are going to become profitable!
If your business is already up and running, but is not currently generating a profit (if your revenues are not enough to cover your operating expenses), then this is where you will need to identify how you will make up the shortfall until you become profitable. For many home-based businesses, the difference is drawn from the owner's savings or income from another job.
Regardless of what stage you're at, you should still include a table of projected milestones for your business in this section. Estimate the month and year of the important milestones that you plan to achieve over the next 1 to 2 years. This not only looks great, it also reminds you of your goals every time you refer back to your plan.
Section 6: Management
This section is especially important if you are going to be using your business plan to secure funding. I can guarantee that after a prospective investor reads through your Executive Summary, they will flip directly to your Management section before reading anything else. They'll want to get a clear idea of "who" your company is -- after all, a business idea is only as good as the people behind it!
So this is where you introduce your management team or, if you are the only person involved in your business, explain why you are qualified to be running the company. Focus on your strengths and achievements from your previous ventures or jobs, and explain in detail how those qualities transfer to your business.
Make sure to go into detail about what makes you uniquely qualified to operate this sort of business. What special skills do you bring to the company? How do your areas of expertise give you a distinct advantage over people operating similar companies?
If you have accountants, lawyers, or consultants advising you in an official (paid) capacity, you can mention their names, duties, and qualifications here as well. However, you need to be sure to get their permission before putting their names in your business plan.
Section 7: Financials
If you've had a chance to look through a few business plans before, you'll have noticed that the last half of these documents are filled with balance sheets, earnings projections, capital requirements, depreciation estimates, and dozens of other highly detailed financial statements.
Don't let all these numbers put you off! If you aren't going to be using your business plan to solicit capital from outside sources, you won't need 90% of this stuff. Instead, focus on your monthly income and monthly expenses. The best way to do this is to put together a simple 12-month cash flow forecast.
Here's how to do it:
First, estimate how much your business will earn on a monthly basis. Include all your sales, cash you'll be drawing from your savings, or money your business has been loaned. This is your "Total Cash In."
Next, determine what your monthly expenses will be. This should include things like advertising costs, office expenses like phone bills and stationary, the cost of your inventory, equipment purchases, loan repayments, as well as whatever cash you'll be drawing out of the business for your personal living expenses. This will be your "Total Cash Out."
Now, simply subtract your "Total Cash Out" from your "Total Cash In" to get your monthly "Net Cash Flow." If you see that your Net Cash Flow is a negative number, you're losing money! If that number stays negative for the entire 12 months, you're going to need to re-evaluate your business plan... and figure out a way to increase sales or decrease expenses!
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can see why it is so important to be honest with yourself when writing your business plan! If you exaggerate the sales you think you'll bring in, your whole business model will be damaged when those sales don't materialize. So much for that hefty advertising budget you planned, as well as the generous salary you hoped to pay yourself!
Do-It-Yourself vs. Hiring Out
If you are going to be using your business plan as a tool to attract capital from banks or investors, then your business plan will need to be MUCH more detailed than if you are preparing it for personal use. If you need some extra help preparing a highly detailed plan, you have a few choices. You can:
Hire a professional business plan consultant to work with you,
Hire an accountant to help you prepare the "Financials" section of your business plan, or
Purchase a full-featured business plan software program.
If you do decide to have a professional write your business plan for you, be aware that the costs vary tremendously! A basic 15-page business plan could cost you anywhere between $500 and $5,000, depending on who you hire. (And a detailed business plan, which can often exceed 100 pages, can easily cost as much as $25,000 -- but these are for companies looking for millions of dollars of start-up capital.)
To locate someone to write your business plan for you, just type "business plans" into any search engine -- you'll find tons of companies that specialize in this sort of thing. You can also have professional writers bid on your business plan project at http://www.elance.com/. The going rate for a business plan here seems to be between $750 and $1,500.
There are quite a few business plan software programs out there. One of the best seems to be Business Plan Pro 2003, available at http://www.bplans.com/ for $99.95. Other options are PlanWrite, located at http://www.brs-inc.com/pwrite.html for $129.95 and BizPlan Builder, priced at $99.99, at http://www.jian.com/.
If you are running a one- or two-person company out of your home or small office, you probably won't need to hire a professional to work on your business plan. This option is really more for people who will be using their business plans to attract investors or secure bank loans. Most small business owners should be able to write their business plans themselves.
And unless you are going to be trying to land big investors, I really don't recommend hiring a professional to write your business plan for you. You'll learn so much about your business and your competitors doing it yourself that it would be a shame to let someone else go through the process for you!
Business Plan Resources:
I've hand-picked a few of my favorite online business plan resources to share with those readers who might be looking for a little more information:
The United States Small Business Administration has an excellent resource online at http://www.sba.gov/starting/indexbusplans.html. They provide an online tutorial to help you write your business plan, and their site also contains all the information you'll need if you plan on trying to get a Small Business Administration loan or grant.
The Yahoo! Small Business Center has a good section about business plans at http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/resources/business_plans.html
The Annual Moot Corp Competition challenges top MBAs from around the world to submit their business plans to be evaluated by a panel of investors. The winning entries from the past few years are online at http://www.businessplans.org/MootCorp.html
Palo Alto Software has developed a program called Business Plan Pro 2003 (priced at $99.95) that will walk you through the creation of your own business plan. But even if you aren't interested in their software, check out their site at http://www.bplans.com/ for a huge archive of sample business plans that you can read for no charge.
You can also find a wealth of information about business plans at your local library or bookstore. The Business section will have tons of books explaining how to write business plans, as well as books with hundreds of sample business plans for you to look at.
Final Thoughts:
Once you've written your business plan, you'll be amazed at how often you refer to it. It will become your "battle plan," as well as the tool you'll use to measure how close you are to meeting your goals -- or by how much you're surpassing them! You can even show your business plan to prospective joint venture partners, potential employees, or advertisers. Believe me, a professional-looking business plan will give you a TON of credibility simply because most businesses never take the time to prepare one.
If you're thinking about starting a business, but you're not quite sure how, writing out a business plan can be a great way to get things moving. It's also a great way to evaluate how good that idea of yours really is. For many people, the process of writing a business plan shows them that their business can make even more money than they originally thought! Now that's motivation!
If you're already running an online business, the process of writing a business plan can help you decide exactly what aspects of your business are succeeding and which areas could be improved upon. When you do an in-depth analysis of your marketplace, your customers, and your competitors, you'll be amazed by how much you can learn!
And be sure to make your business plan a perpetual "work in progress." Go back and review it every three months, and make changes where necessary. If your sales are twice what you expected, go back and update the figures in your business plan. This ensures that your map to profitability is always right up to date.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Holiday Season (Homebusiness Ideas)
It is time to cash in on the most active online season by applying these seven adjustment
AN OPT-IN OFFER :Make an offer that speaks to the needs of holiday shoppers. For example, you could put together a "Holiday Buying Guide" that tells people more about your products and explains why they'd make great gifts.

HOLIDAY SPECIALS AND DISCOUNTS: Make sure you offer some special deals on your products to entice your visitors to buy! How about an early-bird deal if your customers make a purchase before a certain date? Or a special discount for those panicky last-minute shoppers? You could offer a two-for-one deal, or even a "holiday gift set" that combines two or more of your products in a gift-ready package!

YOUR SHIPPING INFORMATION: If you're able to offer free or discounted shipping, be sure to include some mention of it in the top fold of your site.

PROVIDE SHIPPING GUARANTEE: Customers should know their gifts will arrive in time. You'll want to put it where your customers can see it right away, at the top of your right- or left-hand sidebar.

YOUR RETURN POLICY: Be sure to let your customers know you offer a no-questions-asked return policy for a certain period after the holidays. It'll give them the extra boost of confidence they need to make a purchase.

FREE GIFT-WRAPPING SERVICE: It's another great way to give your customers an extra perk without much additional cost to you. For the cost of some paper and ribbon, you can make any humble package look like a fabulous holiday gift!

URGENCY BUILDERS: Another thing you could include in your first fold is a little "countdown" box that tells your visitors exactly how many days are left to Christmas, or to the shipping deadline for gifts to arrive in time. It might give them the extra "kick in the butt" they need to make a buying decision. Alternatively, you could install a Hover Ad with an urgent holiday timing message that lets them know exactly how long they've got to make a gift purchase


Emmanuel

www.esodipo1.successuniversity.com/slim

Monday, October 16, 2006

Time Management Skills (Homebusiness Ideas)
The ability to gain 1-3 hours a day in productive time can translate into 7-21 hours a week, 30-90 hours a month, 360-1180 hours a year. That's 9 to 27 forty-hour work weeks in productivity that can be gained by implementing and consistently using effective time management techniques--I said 9-27 forty-hour weeks by gaining 1-3 hours a day!

Add 1-2 hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multi-tasking and improved focus. These are things that anyone can do to add more time to their day.
Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working "smarter" rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ways To Anchor Down More Sales (Homebusiness Ideas)

1. Multiply your marketing and advertising efforts
on the Internet. You can accomplish this by starting
an affiliate program or using viral marketing.


2. Increase your ratio of visitors that purchase your
product(s). You could change your headline, offer a
stronger guarantee, add testimonials, etc.


3. Find out who are your strongest leads for buying
your product by offering a free ezine. The visitors
that are very interested will subscribe to it.


4. Team up with your competition by starting an
association for your specific industry. It could lead
to a profitable partnership with them.


5. Publish an e-zine for your employees. This could
motivate them to do a better job or fill them in on
were your business is headed


6. Search for your business' name in newsgroups
and discussion boards. Some of the comments you
find could help you improve your business


7. Attract people to link to your web site. You could
offer them a discount on the products you sell or
give them free stuff for linking.


8. Develop your own opt in email list by giving your
visitors a reason to give you their e-mail address.
Allow them sign up to free stuff and contests.


9. Create a "PR" web page for your business. List
information that could be considered newsworthy
for e-zines, newspapers, magazines, etc.


10. Give your business and products credibility by
linking to web sites that have written positive stories
about your business.
----

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Be a Better Blogger (Homebusiness Ideas)


1: Define your purpose
The first step in creating a better blog is to ask yourself why you're blogging. What's the purpose of your blog? If you want to write about your field of expertise sometimes and your favorite political party at other times, it might be beneficial to maintain two separate blogs. Speaking of readers, an important element in defining your purpose is to know your audience. That will help you determine the voice and writing style that's appropriate for those you're addressing.
In keeping with your blog's purpose, you should have a defined theme. For example, if the purpose of your blog is to express political opinions, the theme might be to promote a low-tax, nonintrusive government.


#2: Create visual appeal
Your blog site should also be visually appealing, or at least visually neutral. You don't want to scare away prospective readers or have them leave in frustration because the page is distracting or unreadable.
You can use color, font styles, and graphics to set the mood and tone--just make sure the tone matches the content. Whatever your theme, it's best to avoid dark letters on a dark background, tiny or overly fancy typefaces, and other elements that make your blog hard to read.
If your blog is hosted on a public blog site, you may be limited in how much you can change the design, but there will usually be a number of preconfigured visual themes you can choose from. Keep audience appeal and readability in mind when selecting one.


#3: Use the proper tools
You can create a blog using any WYSIWYG HTML editor, such as FrontPage (soon to be replaced by Microsoft Expression Web Designer), Macromedia Dreamweaver, or the Amaya open source editor endorsed by W3C. You can even use a text editor like Notepad to compose the HTML code.
However, blogging is made much easier, faster, and more convenient if you use a dedicated blogging program or the features of a blogging Web site that lets you compose posts in the Web browser or via e-mail.
If your blog is hosted on a free public blog site, such as Blogger or Windows Live Spaces, you can write your posts in your e-mail client and send them to a special address you're given when you create your account. For many, this is the easiest way to post, although it doesn't show you the formatting.
Another alternative is to use a blog program such as WordPress, Movable Type, Post2Blog, or Windows Live Writer, which offer various useful features. lets you put a button on the toolbar in IE so that if you want your blog to reference a Web site you're visiting, you can highlight the text you want to quote and click Blog It. This opens Live Writer and inserts the link and the quoted text in your blog. You can publish to your blog on Live Spaces or other popular blogs with a single click.


#4: Make it easy to navigate
If you're designing your blog site from scratch, it's important to make it easy for readers to get around and do what they want to do. For instance, if you're using comments and RSS feeds, make sure it's clear to readers how to post a comment or subscribe to the feed.
You should also make it easy for readers to find past posts. Make sure archives are organized logically--not just in chronological order but in categories to make it easier to find particular posts.
If your blog is hosted on a public blog site, you can usually change the arrangement of page elements, add or eliminate elements (often called modules), and otherwise influence the navigability of the page. Keep clutter to a minimum but be sure to include the elements that readers need.
Make your site searchable, if possible, so users can find posts using keywords. You can put a free Google search box on your site (for more information, see http://www.google.com/searchcode.html#both).


#5: Stay in one place
Many bloggers experiment with different blog hosting sites and/or with hosting their own sites, especially early on in their blogging experience. It may take you awhile to find the best setup, but try to do so as soon as possible and then stay in one place so your readers can find you. Moving around to different URLs too often is sure to lose you some readers.
If you have an established blog and it's necessary to move it to a different address, try to publish a last post on the old blog that points readers to the new blog and leave it up as long as possible.


#6: Engage your readers
Perhaps the most important factor in attracting and keep readers is establishing a relationship with them. Even interesting content is rendered less interesting if we don't know who's talking (writing) to us. Tell your readers who you are and something about yourself.
You need not go into a lot of personal details if your blog is political or professional, and in some cases you may not even want to reveal your real name (especially, for example, if you're posting derogatory information about your employer or the police chief in your small town). But don't just remain nameless; give readers a pseudonym by which to identify you and tell them generalities about yourself that will lend you credibility without blowing your cover. For instance, you might say that you're a middle-age male who lives in Texas and has worked in the telecommunications industry.
If you don't have a reason to keep your identity confidential, you may be able to benefit (attract the attention of headhunters in your field, become recognized as an expert in a particular area, etc.) by using your real name and providing contact information.
Regardless of whether you reveal your true identity, you can engage readers by interacting with them through the comments feature or by providing an e-mail address and responding to their input. You can, of course, use a free Webmail address or other alternative to your primary address if you want to protect your identity and/or avoid spam.
Engaging readers involves winning their trust and thinking of the reader first. If you make claims, back them up with cites and links. If possible, don't link to sites that require a subscription or even free registration (or if you must, warn readers).


#7: Establish a blogging schedule
Blog readers are a fickle bunch. Once you've drawn an audience, they expect to find new content when they visit your blog. That doesn't mean you have to post every day, but you should establish a minimum blogging schedule and stick to it. Let readers know, preferably in a static text box at the top of your blog page, that you will update the blog daily, weekly, on Mondays and Fridays, or whatever. Then do it--even if some of your posts aren't particular profound or long. Readers will abandon your blog if they think you've abandoned them.
If you need to deviate from your schedule (for example, you're going on vacation for two weeks or you'll be in the hospital or you have a family or job emergency), let readers know that you won't be posting at the regular time and give them an idea of when you'll be back.


#8: Keep it concise
Speaking of posts that aren't particularly profound or long, don't think you have to wait until you have something brilliant to say before you post or put off posting because you don't have time to write War and Peace today. In truth, most readers have short attention spans and/or crowded schedules themselves and would prefer to read a short, pithy post rather than a long, complex one.
If you do post lengthy pieces, break them up into short paragraphs to make them more readable. There's nothing more daunting to a reader than a huge mass of unbroken text, no matter how skillful your turn of phrase.
You'll also attract more readers with common words than with obscure ones, so unless you're writing for a particularly scholarly audience, follow the old KISS advice: Keep it simple, sweetheart.


#9: Proofread before publishing
Even if you're an English professor, it's easy to end up with typographical errors, misspellings, and grammatical flaws in your posts if you don't proofread before you hit the Publish button. Especially if you're writing in the heat of passion or inspiration, your typing fingers can get ahead of your thoughts and cause words to be omitted or transposed, commas to appear in the wrong places, or sentences to become garbled.
Maybe you pride yourself on not adhering strictly to the rules, but presumably, you still want your readers to understand what you're saying. That complex sentence that seemed so brilliant in composition may read a little awkwardly once you see it on the screen.
It's difficult to catch mistakes in your own writing, because you tend to fill in what you thought you typed, rather than see what's really there. This is particularly true immediately after writing. If possible, have someone else proofread your post before you publish it. Otherwise, let it "cool off" for an hour or a day so you can approach it with a more objective proofreader's eye.
And although it's best to catch mistakes before they're published, one huge advantage of Web content is that, unlike print copy, it's easy to change if you discover a problem after publication.


#10: Go syndicate yourself
You don't have to wait for readers to come to your blog every day or every week. Instead, you can take your blog to them. Use RSS to feed your new blog posts to readers who sign up. This makes it easier for your readers, who don't have to remember to visit your blog Web site to check for new posts--and whatever makes it easier for readers is good for authors. You can syndicate just your post titles, short summaries, or entire posts.
Most public blog hosting sites give you the option to syndicate your blog, and it's usually as easy as clicking a button or two in the configuration interface.

Regards

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How to Socialize into Improved Search Engine Rankings (Homebusiness Ideas)

Looking for new ways to get improved search engine placement for your web site? Then maybe you should spend a little more time socializing online! I'm talking about getting more active on social media web sites like :
MySpace ( http://www.myspace.com ),
Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com ),
Digg ( http://www.digg.com ).
Sure, these sites might be the online hangouts where people like to goof off during their "down time" at work... But they're also extremely popular web sites with high Google PageRank numbers -- and if you can get links on these sites to point to your site, it might get driven to the top of the search engine results page for your keywords! In a recent newsletter ( http://www.marketingtips.com/newsletters/?article=art_august06b ), I talked about how creating a keyword-rich article and distributing it on the Web can improve your ranking in the free search engines. It's an easy way to get relevant sites linking back to you, and it doesn't cost you a dime! Well, posting content on the social media sites is another great way to achieve these same goals. It's just that the type of sites -- and the type of content you post on them -- are different.And the best part about this strategy is that it involves hanging out at fun sites you'd probably enjoy spending time at, anyway! But before I show you how to "socialize" your way to improved search engine placement, let's take a closer look at exactly what social media web sites are. ---------
Discover how these popular online hangouts can lead to improved search engine placement! ----

These days, social media sites are HUGE! In fact, they make up five of the top 10 fastest-growing Web brands on the Internet, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. And this explosive growth isn't likely to end anytime soon. So if people are hanging out on these sites in ever-expanding numbers, don't you want to be there too? Just like in the offline world, "location, location, location" is the key to success! Now, there's been a pretty big buzz around the phrase "social media" lately. But what exactly does it mean? Social media sites are simply online gathering places where people share interesting, entertaining, informative, or just plain
*goofy* content with each other. This content can take many different forms. It can be...
* Personal information in the form of blogs
* Useful articles about anything and everything
* Photos or video clips that people might get a kick out of watching
* Collections of bookmarks to favorite online articles or
web sites that people can check out for themselves Members of these communities can comment on each other's contributions, engage in discussions, and find other people who are interested in the same things they are. Hanging out and participating at these sites can be a great way to make new online friends or business contacts. It's also an effective strategy you can use to drive more traffic to your business site -- not only from the social media sites themselves, but also from the improved search engine placement you'll get from having more high-PageRank links pointing to your web site! Social media sites can be organized into a few main categories:
* Social networking sites: These sites are basically online communities that connect people through networks of friends.
MySpace ( http://www.myspace.com )is the Internet’s most- visited social networking community. On their profile pages, MySpace users can describe their interests, upload pictures, post blog-style entries, and list the other MySpace users who have become their friends. They can even post audio and video clips to share with other people! Independent musicians and bands were the first group to take advantage of the interactive nature of MySpace to get their product out there. They found they could attract devoted followings by posting audio clips of their latest songs and updating fans on their concert schedules. This has been a big hit with teenagers and twentysomethings, who come to the site to learn more about the bands who are poised to be the next "big thing."

But MySpace isn't just for the teen scene anymore! Even professionals like financial planners and lawyers have started networking and community-building on MySpace. The fact is, people in pretty much any field can gain more exposure by creating a MySpace page. And the great thing is, it's free! So set up an account for yourself, start networking and adding other people in your industry to your "friends" list, and make your name and web site visible on these wildly popular sites. And don't forget to link to your business site in your profile! If you're interested in exploring other popular social networking sites, some of the top ones include:
Friendster ( http://www.friendster.com ),
Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com ), and
Linkedin ( http://www.linkedin.com ).

* Social bookmarking sites: At social bookmarking sites, people save links to their favorite web sites or articles -- just like you do with the "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" function in your own personal web browser (e.g., Internet Explorer or Firefox). When you save your favorite links at a bookmarking site
Like del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us ), they become public and can be viewed by other members of the site. You can also "tag" your links with descriptive keywords, so people have a better idea of what kind of content your links are pointing to.
To learn what we mean by tagging, check out the blog :
http://blog.marketingtips.com/derek/2006/06/how_a_game_of_tag_can_direct_s.html


Tagging your bookmarks is useful in another important way: When people use the site's internal search engine to look for bookmarks on a particular topic, any ones that are tagged with keywords related to that topic will appear in the search results. The more an article or a web site gets bookmarked by members of these sites, the higher it ranks in the search results. So if you include an appropriately tagged link to your own site (or to an article you've written) in your bookmarks list, and a lot of other members add it to their bookmarks as well, your link will be seen by a lot more people searching for your keywords. And if your link becomes really popular, it might even end up on the bookmark site's homepage -- which will generate a TON of traffic and incoming links to your web site! Okay, so that's the "Holy Grail" of using bookmarking sites as a traffic-generating strategy... and the chances of it happening are actually quite slim. But even just ONE link from a top bookmarking site like...
- Digg ( http://www.digg.com )
- del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us )
- Netscape ( http://www.netscape.com )
- Reddit ( http://www.reddit.com )
- Furl ( http://www.furl.net )
... will boost your site's value in the eyes of the search engines. So why not spend the few minutes it takes to create an account on these sites and give it a shot? After you set up an account, list a few of your favorite sites as bookmarks, making sure to also include links to YOUR web site or articles. And don't forget to make them public, so others can view your favorites as well.
* Media-sharing sites: Have you ever checked out the latest videos at YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ), or the most popular pictures at Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com )? These web sites have been taking the Internet by storm, with everyone rushing to upload their favorite cat videos, or photos from their vacation, or latest business conference pictures. But you can also find things like real estate "virtual tour" videos being uploaded and viewed. So if you’re a real estate agent, a great way to increase your market visibility would be to get an account, upload a video tour of a listing, and then tag it with appropriate keywords. Anyone who's searching for video info on real estate in your area will probably come across your video tour -- and learn about you in the process! Online video and photo-sharing sites have been growing by leaps and bounds, and they also show no signs of slowing up.
The top video sites include...
- YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ), and
- Google Video ( http://video.google.com ) While the most popular photo-sharing web sites are...
- Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com ), and
- Fotolog ( http://www.fotolog.com )
* Wiki sites: A wiki is a type of web site that lets ALL its users update the site’s content. Every visitor to a wiki web site can add to, delete, or edit the site's content, creating a sort of living web page full of fresh perspectives and up-to-the-minute information from multiple users. Take Wikipedia.org, the Web's biggest and best-known wiki ( http://www.wikipedia.org ): It's an online encyclopedia that allows users to update its database of entries on everything from historical figures, to technical terms, to world events. So by creating an account at Wikipedia, you can start making changes to existing articles, or add completely new articles related to your industry or area of expertise and grow your reputation as an expert in your field! Plus, you can look for suitable opportunities to include links to your own web site or articles in the entries you edit. For example, at the end of every Wikipedia article is a section called "External links." If you write an entry on a term related to your product or industry, and your web site can help people learn more about this topic, you can include a link back to your site! One thing, though: Since other users can also edit your entry -- as well as the links you've included -- the link to your web site must be relevant, or else it will likely be removed by another member of the community. ----

How to attract the most eyeballs by posting attention- grabbing content on social media sites ---

Take a moment to think about what people do when they're sitting in front of their computer at work and want to take a quick mental break... If they're one of the millions of people who like hanging out at bookmarking sites, maybe they'll pop over to Digg to see what the daily top bookmarks are. Now... which headline do you think they'll be more likely to click on? "Chirac Urges World Powers Not to Refer Iran to Security Council" -- or -- "How to Roast Coffee at Home With a Popcorn Popper" My bet is on the latter, because it sounds like a fun way to waste a couple of minutes and learn an unusual skill -- and besides, what office worker doesn't love coffee? Now imagine if you ran a small coffee-roasting business -- just think about the kind of exposure an article could get you, if it were featured on Digg's homepage. The trick to creating fun social media content that spreads through the Internet like wildfire (going "viral," as it's called) is to write entertaining articles that are short, compelling, and eye-catching. First, write a headline that grabs readers' attention and tells them exactly how your article is going to help or entertain them. Then keep your piece short, easy to scan, and fun to read. In fact, lists are often some of the most popular articles on social bookmarking sites. People who visit these sites are usually looking to waste a few minutes online, and they don't want to read a bunch of heavy text. That's why lists are so great! They're easy to format and quick to read, and don't waste any time getting to the punchline.

Media-sharing sites like Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com )and
YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ) obviously need different content because they're dealing with video and images. But the same principle of creating short, snappy, and entertaining content still applies. Many of the most popular videos on YouTube, for example, are short compilations of funny video clips -- like you see on the TV show "America's Funniest Home Videos." But content that's entertaining AND solves people's problems can also be effective. "How-to" videos that teach people a specific skill are extremely popular in certain markets. Now I'm sure many of you are thinking, "How am I supposed to create an entertaining article or video when I sell a boring product like widgets?" The truth is, there are thousands of ways to create entertaining content for these sites -- if you use your imagination. Here are some examples and ideas to get you started:

* Compile an entertaining or informative list related to your industry: One of the most popular September stories on the tech-oriented Digg ( http://www.digg.com ) is titled "112 Windows Run Commands." The article is simply a list of shortcuts that will help Microsoft Windows users save a lot of time -- and people obviously liked the article, because it's already received 2,363 "diggs," or votes, from Digg users! And just think about how many of these people emailed the article to their friends! If you ran a web site that sold computer software, can you imagine what kind of traffic your site would have received if you had created and submitted this article yourself? * Take existing content in your newsletter or blog and repackage it for social media sites: You probably already have valuable content on hand that you've written for your site's newsletter or blog. Simply tweak this existing content to make it short and scannable, and re-use it on the social media sites! Spend some time thinking up a snappy headline, because that's the biggest factor in getting people to click on your article. And don't forget to tag it with popular and appropriate keywords.

* Create a funny compilation video: Let's say you sell a relatively specialized product, like baby shoes. One thing you could do would be to run a contest on your web site where the person who submits the funniest baby video wins a free pair of shoes. After you've chosen a winner, simply string all of the best entries into a single video.
Then upload your video to YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com ) or Google Video ( http://video.google.com )with the tags "funny" and "baby" -- and don't forget to include information about your web site. In fact, I just did a search at YouTube for the term "funny babies" and the first video in the search results page has been viewed 67,143 times in the last nine months -- and the clip is only 10 seconds long! If 67,000 people had viewed your baby video in the last nine months -- with the URL to your business site clearly displayed at the end -- I can guarantee you'd be seeing a LOT more traffic. Remember: These don't have to be lengthy professional videos -- something filmed with a digital camera or even a cell phone works great! * Post an interactive product demonstration: Flickr ( http://www.flickr.com ) could be a great place for you to put up an interactive demonstration of your latest product. Just upload some images that show exactly how your product works or what it can be used for -- along with some descriptive text -- and let visitors post comments and questions about your demo. That way, you can use Flickr to promote your product AND receive honest feedback from potential or current users. * Promote offline events you've attended: You could also use Flickr to promote offline events you've attended. Simply putting up pictures of the people you met at the latest industry conference you attended can be a great way to develop a community of like-minded professionals. If you tag these pictures with the name of the event, it will be easy for other attendees to find your shots. You can even tell participants during the event where to go online to see the pictures, once it's all over -- that way, you're sure to get some hits as soon as the pictures are posted! And don't forget to include a link back to your web site or product page at the bottom of every photo you upload, as each of these will count as another incoming link that will help with improved search engine placement.

------The "dos" and "don'ts" of participating at social media sites ------------------------------

WARNING: There's ONE IMPORTANT THING you have to remember when using social media sites to get improved search engine placement for your site! And that's the fact that these are SOCIAL sites -- people don't visit them expecting to be hit with a bunch of marketing messages. So if you want to get links at these sites to point to your own site, you have to do it SUBTLY. Think about it... If you were at a party and somebody started handing out business cards and immediately launched into a sales pitch for his product, you'd try to get away, right? Well it's the same thing on a social web site. That kind of behaviour is considered highly unethical and inappropriate by members of these communities. On Digg ( http://www.digg.com ), for example, links will often get voted down as spam if they're submitted by the person who owns the site they point to.
And on del.icio.us ( http://del.icio.us ), if all of your favorite links point ONLY to your web site, you'll lose all your credibility, and no other users will add your links to their own list of bookmarks. So make sure that you're participating honestly and being low-key about your business. Be sure you share other relevant and entertaining links with the community, in addition to your own products and articles. Otherwise all your hard work creating content for these sites will have been a waste of time. Here are the main things you should be doing on social media sites:
* Do create a profile with a link back to your web site
* Do tag your articles with relevant keywords
* Do participate in the discussions to build your credibility
* Do contribute to the growth and value of these sites by creating and submitting content that is entertaining and solves problems
* Do get a good grasp of what's receiving attention on that specific site before submitting content
* Do invite your friends to go online and vote for your links -- within reason, of course!
* Do give your articles intriguing headlines that will get people to read further
* Do be yourself -- these communities don't reward fakers Here are a few things you shouldn't be doing on social mediasites:
* Don't spam sites with links only to your own articles, or bookmarks pointing only to your site * Don't go overboard when encouraging friends to vote for your links -- organized "gangs" of voters often get discovered and "booed off" these sites
* Don't submit boring or irrelevant content -- this will only hurt your reputation
* Don't be there just to promote yourself -- nobody wants to be friends with people who are only out for themselves! By following these rules, you'll become part of the online community, and people will begin to value your opinion and see you as a credible source of information. This will allow you to become more powerful in the community, and your links and articles will carry more weight than the anonymous contributions of a new member. -----------

----------------------Final thoughts---------------------------------------------

The key to getting the most out of these social web sites is to start small. Check out a few of the different sites. Then choose one or two that you enjoy hanging out at, and get a feel for the communities. By spending time at these sites, you'll discover what type of information is popular, get tons of ideas for new articles, and find out exactly what's on the minds of regular Internet users. Eventually, start creating some valuable and interesting content of your own, and submit it to these sites... then sit back and see what happens! By participating honestly and sharing some interesting links, videos, or articles -- as well as providing links to your own web site -- you might find that a lot of other people will start linking to your articles and your business site. The worst that can happen is you'll have some fun, meet some interesting people, and learn a few things. If you do things right, play by the rules, and create some fun and interesting content, you'll be able to grow the number of relevant links pointing to your site -- and that just might lead to your ultimate goal of improved search engine placement! So, have YOU ever posted links on social media sites as a way to increase your traffic or get improved search engine ranking? And if so, was the experience a success for you? Tell us about it – we’d love to hear about YOUR marketing stories!


Regards

Emmanuel

www.scrollsolutions.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Formula For Success

 
let me share an old formula for success that dates back to at least the old Greeks. And it's still being used today by most everyone who achieves huge and lasting success.

(1) Find someone who's successful doing what you want to do.
(2) determine what they did to become successful and
(3) duplicate the steps they took and the methods they used


www.scrollsolutions.com

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Why A Business Plan Will Fast-Track Your Profits

 

If you're serious about the success of your online business, then you need to find ways to give yourself every advantage you can over your competition. One strategy that I can almost GUARANTEE your competitors haven't tried is building customized blueprints that outline exactly how their businesses will succeed. The process of writing a business plan for your company can be a crucial step in getting your profits to where you want them to be.

If you're thinking, "But I'm just a one-person business working part-time out of my home... I don't need a business plan," think again! Unless you want your business to stay small and to keep your day job, you desperately need a business plan. It's one of the best ways to motivate yourself to drive your business to the next level.

And if your business is still just an idea in your head, and you've been wondering for months how to get started, here's your answer: Start planning! Clear your schedule this weekend, print off this article, and get down to business!

What's Your Purpose?

A business plan can serve a couple of main purposes: In the world of banking and venture capital, business plans play a huge role for people who are trying to secure start-up funding from banks or investors. The better the business plan, the better the chances of landing that big initial investment.

For smaller companies, who (luckily) do not need to rely on outside funding to get started, a business plan serves more as a company blueprint. It identifies the company's purpose, products, market, and goals, as well as the steps the company plans to take to reach those goals.

So before you start writing, you'll need to decide what purpose your business plan is going to serve. If you're writing a formal business plan to secure financing, you'll need to be far more concerned about detail and format than if you're just preparing one for your own personal use. No matter which approach you're taking, though, you need to know that there are 7 main sections that should be included in just about every business plan.

Section 1: The Executive Summary

The executive summary is basically your entire business plan condensed down into a page or two (at the most). If and when you show your business plan to others, this is the only part that 75% of them will actually read. For this reason, you need to make this section as clear, concise, and exciting as possible.

Your executive summary should contain a few key items. You'll want to start out with a brief description of exactly what your business does, who your market is, and what opportunity you've identified as the inspiration for your business. Explain what sets your company apart from others in the same field.

You'll also need to discuss financial information such as projected revenues and, if you'll be using this business plan to secure financing, how much money you need and what you will be using it for. Don't go into too much financial detail in this section. You'll just want to include the most important figures.

Also, be sure to mention your company's achievements, including all of the milestones reached to date. Even if all you've done so far is register a domain name, put together a web site, or file a patent application, be sure to include this information in this section of your business plan.

Section 2: Description of Business

This section will contain an in-depth description of your company, including what products or services you sell, who your customers are, what your operating structure is (Are you a wholesaler? A reseller? A manufacturer?), the legal details of your company (Is it a corporation? A partnership? A sole proprietorship?), and your distribution methods.

This is the section of your business plan where you will identify what makes your company unique and where you'll address the following questions:

What are you offering that others aren't?
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Why will people choose to do business with you instead of other players in the same marketplace?
If you've already been in business for awhile, you will also want to use this section to talk about the history of the company. Talk about what inspired you to start the company and how fast it is growing. Address the more concrete details as well, such as how much equipment you own or lease and where your office is located.

Section 3: Market Strategies

Think of this section as your marketing plan. This is where you'll want to go into detail regarding who your target market is and how you intend to sell to them. This section will contain information about how big your audience is, how fast it is growing, and how large you expect your market share to be.

Some great sites where you can start this research are:

CyberAtlas -- http://cyberatlas.internet.com
Nua Internet Surveys -- http://www.nua.ie/surveys
MarketResearch.com -- http://www.marketresearch.com
In this section, you will also talk about how you intend to market your product or service to your target audience. Will you focus on pay-per-click search engine traffic? Banner advertising? E-zine sponsorships? How much do you expect to spend on advertising, and what sort of return do you expect from those advertising dollars?

Be sure to think carefully about which marketing strategies to include here. Don't just list off every single advertising technique you can think of. You need to realistically evaluate all the possibilities, and then focus on the two or three marketing techniques that will produce the biggest return on investment.

If you think this sounds like a lot of work just for a business plan, think again! This is the kind of legwork and research you should be doing anyway! And once you've figured out how much your marketing and advertising is going to cost, you can put together a schedule of how much you can afford to spend on various campaigns each month.

Section 4: Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis section of your business plan is where you explain, in detail, the strengths and weaknesses of your main competitors. This will allow you to realistically determine where you can position your business in the market in relation to your competition.

Make sure to do an honest appraisal of who your competition is. If your site is selling board games, your main competition is NOT Toys 'R' Us. Instead, your biggest competitors are other niche sites that focus on selling board games. These are the sites that you can realistically expect to compete with for customers interested in buying your products online.

Nevertheless, you should still pay attention to the "major players" in your competitive analysis. Take a look at how they are marketing to board game buyers, and what areas they are lacking in. Based on your research, you should be able to capitalize on the weaknesses of others in your market space and snatch customers away from them by positioning your offer to meet a need that everyone else is neglecting.

A great tool for doing competitive analysis is http://www.alexa.com, which allows you to discover how much traffic your competitors are getting in relation to your site and see who they are linking to. Compare your own traffic ranking to your competitors' traffic rankings in Alexa every month or so. This way, you'll be able to gauge your progress against your competition. Spend some time getting familiar with this site -- it will become an invaluable resource tool for you!

Section 5: Development Plan and/or Operational Strategy

If your company is still in the developmental stage (with no product and/or no revenues), this is the section where you will explain how you are going to bring your company into the marketplace. The best way to do this is to write out a development timeline with the projected completion dates for various milestones your company will need to reach before it can start making sales.

This is the section where you must plan to profit! Failing to do so is one of the most common mistakes made by businesses. All too often, people just set up shop without ever really planning exactly HOW they are going to become profitable!

If your business is already up and running, but is not currently generating a profit (if your revenues are not enough to cover your operating expenses), then this is where you will need to identify how you will make up the shortfall until you become profitable. For many home-based businesses, the difference is drawn from the owner's savings or income from another job.

Regardless of what stage you're at, you should still include a table of projected milestones for your business in this section. Estimate the month and year of the important milestones that you plan to achieve over the next 1 to 2 years. This not only looks great, it also reminds you of your goals every time you refer back to your plan.

Section 6: Management

This section is especially important if you are going to be using your business plan to secure funding. I can guarantee that after a prospective investor reads through your Executive Summary, they will flip directly to your Management section before reading anything else. They'll want to get a clear idea of "who" your company is -- after all, a business idea is only as good as the people behind it!

So this is where you introduce your management team or, if you are the only person involved in your business, explain why you are qualified to be running the company. Focus on your strengths and achievements from your previous ventures or jobs, and explain in detail how those qualities transfer to your business.

Make sure to go into detail about what makes you uniquely qualified to operate this sort of business. What special skills do you bring to the company? How do your areas of expertise give you a distinct advantage over people operating similar companies?

If you have accountants, lawyers, or consultants advising you in an official (paid) capacity, you can mention their names, duties, and qualifications here as well. However, you need to be sure to get their permission before putting their names in your business plan.

Section 7: Financials

If you've had a chance to look through a few business plans before, you'll have noticed that the last half of these documents are filled with balance sheets, earnings projections, capital requirements, depreciation estimates, and dozens of other highly detailed financial statements.

Don't let all these numbers put you off! If you aren't going to be using your business plan to solicit capital from outside sources, you won't need 90% of this stuff. Instead, focus on your monthly income and monthly expenses. The best way to do this is to put together a simple 12-month cash flow forecast.

Here's how to do it:

First, estimate how much your business will earn on a monthly basis. Include all your sales, cash you'll be drawing from your savings, or money your business has been loaned. This is your "Total Cash In."

Next, determine what your monthly expenses will be. This should include things like advertising costs, office expenses like phone bills and stationary, the cost of your inventory, equipment purchases, loan repayments, as well as whatever cash you'll be drawing out of the business for your personal living expenses. This will be your "Total Cash Out."

Now, simply subtract your "Total Cash Out" from your "Total Cash In" to get your monthly "Net Cash Flow." If you see that your Net Cash Flow is a negative number, you're losing money! If that number stays negative for the entire 12 months, you're going to need to re-evaluate your business plan... and figure out a way to increase sales or decrease expenses!

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can see why it is so important to be honest with yourself when writing your business plan! If you exaggerate the sales you think you'll bring in, your whole business model will be damaged when those sales don't materialize. So much for that hefty advertising budget you planned, as well as the generous salary you hoped to pay yourself!

Do-It-Yourself vs. Hiring Out

If you are going to be using your business plan as a tool to attract capital from banks or investors, then your business plan will need to be MUCH more detailed than if you are preparing it for personal use. If you need some extra help preparing a highly detailed plan, you have a few choices. You can:

Hire a professional business plan consultant to work with you,
Hire an accountant to help you prepare the "Financials" section of your business plan, or
Purchase a full-featured business plan software program.
If you do decide to have a professional write your business plan for you, be aware that the costs vary tremendously! A basic 15-page business plan could cost you anywhere between $500 and $5,000, depending on who you hire. (And a detailed business plan, which can often exceed 100 pages, can easily cost as much as $25,000 -- but these are for companies looking for millions of dollars of start-up capital.)

To locate someone to write your business plan for you, just type "business plans" into any search engine -- you'll find tons of companies that specialize in this sort of thing. You can also have professional writers bid on your business plan project at http://www.elance.com. The going rate for a business plan here seems to be between $750 and $1,500.

There are quite a few business plan software programs out there. One of the best seems to be Business Plan Pro 2003, available at http://www.bplans.com for $99.95. Other options are PlanWrite, located at http://www.brs-inc.com/pwrite.html for $129.95 and BizPlan Builder, priced at $99.99, at http://www.jian.com.

If you are running a one- or two-person company out of your home or small office, you probably won't need to hire a professional to work on your business plan. This option is really more for people who will be using their business plans to attract investors or secure bank loans. Most small business owners should be able to write their business plans themselves.

And unless you are going to be trying to land big investors, I really don't recommend hiring a professional to write your business plan for you. You'll learn so much about your business and your competitors doing it yourself that it would be a shame to let someone else go through the process for you!

Business Plan Resources:

I've hand-picked a few of my favorite online business plan resources to share with those readers who might be looking for a little more information:

The United States Small Business Administration has an excellent resource online at http://www.sba.gov/starting/indexbusplans.html. They provide an online tutorial to help you write your business plan, and their site also contains all the information you'll need if you plan on trying to get a Small Business Administration loan or grant.
The Yahoo! Small Business Center has a good section about business plans at http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/resources/business_plans.html
The Annual Moot Corp Competition challenges top MBAs from around the world to submit their business plans to be evaluated by a panel of investors. The winning entries from the past few years are online at http://www.businessplans.org/MootCorp.html
Palo Alto Software has developed a program called Business Plan Pro 2003 (priced at $99.95) that will walk you through the creation of your own business plan. But even if you aren't interested in their software, check out their site at http://www.bplans.com for a huge archive of sample business plans that you can read for no charge.
You can also find a wealth of information about business plans at your local library or bookstore. The Business section will have tons of books explaining how to write business plans, as well as books with hundreds of sample business plans for you to look at.

Final Thoughts:

Once you've written your business plan, you'll be amazed at how often you refer to it. It will become your "battle plan," as well as the tool you'll use to measure how close you are to meeting your goals -- or by how much you're surpassing them! You can even show your business plan to prospective joint venture partners, potential employees, or advertisers. Believe me, a professional-looking business plan will give you a TON of credibility simply because most businesses never take the time to prepare one.

If you're thinking about starting a business, but you're not quite sure how, writing out a business plan can be a great way to get things moving. It's also a great way to evaluate how good that idea of yours really is. For many people, the process of writing a business plan shows them that their business can make even more money than they originally thought! Now that's motivation!

If you're already running an online business, the process of writing a business plan can help you decide exactly what aspects of your business are succeeding and which areas could be improved upon. When you do an in-depth analysis of your marketplace, your customers, and your competitors, you'll be amazed by how much you can learn!

And be sure to make your business plan a perpetual "work in progress." Go back and review it every three months, and make changes where necessary. If your sales are twice what you expected, go back and update the figures in your business plan. This ensures that your map to profitability is always right up to date.

Regards

www.esodipo1.successuniversity.com/slim

www.scrollsolutions.com

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Four Pivotal Topics in Finances

 


1. Getting Out of Debt - Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt!

You can make two million dollars a year but if you spend 2.5 million dollars, it doesn't matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this issue last week.

2. Saving - One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Today, we will go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is: the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left; the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left.

What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We will talk about saving in today's edition.

3. Investing - Investing is much different than saving.
Investing involves risk - calculated risk - and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing in next week's edition.

4. Giving - Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counter-intuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire.
Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit. We will cover giving in two weeks.

This week we are covering the topic of saving money.

Statistics consistently show that the vast majority of people live hand-to-mouth or month-to-month, that is with no savings to speak of. The average person would be hard pressed to live for more than just a couple of months if they were unable to draw an income. This means that they are not independent, but dependent upon insurance, government programs, friends, family and the like. The primary goal of savings is to provide a much higher level of personal independence and security.

The discipline of saving directly determines how we will take care of ourselves and plan for not only the future, but also for the unforeseeable events that touch our lives at times. It is an act of self-determination where we decide that we will provide for ourselves and protect ourselves.

Saving is not, as you will see further down, the pursuit of aggressive growth of our resources. Simply put it is our security, our safety net if you will, that remains in place to provide a solid base on which to build the rest of our financial independence.

So, with these things in mind, let's take a deeper look at saving our money.

Saving is an act of discipline. No matter how you slice it, saving money on a regular basis is a discipline. It is not "dependent" on income. If you were to ask five people, all at varying income levels, if it is hard to save, chances are they would all say "yes." This is because the tendency for us is to spend whatever we earn. When we start out and make $25,000 a year, we think it is hard to save. If only we could make $40,000 a year! But when we make $40,000 a year we say the same thing. Our expenses go up, we buy a bigger house, fancier car, etc. Some people who make a million dollars a year save nothing. At the end of the year, they have spent it all and they are no better off than the person who makes $40,000 a year. Professional athletes and entertainers are renowned for this. Pick up any number of magazines and you can read about an athlete who made twenty million dollars over seven years and is now bankrupt. It isn't a matter of money. It is a matter discipline. On a regular basis, put a little away until it builds up. That is the savings game.

Saving is much like the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare. Little by little we put a small amount away and slowly but surely we develop the kind of saving amounts we are looking for. Those who put away a lot and then spend it all on a big screen TV may end up with a TV but that is about it. In the end, the slow and sure saver ends up with real wealth and financial independence.

Saving builds self-reliance. Our ultimate goal financially should be to become independent, without relying on anyone else. We should be able to pay our bills and long-term, live off of the interest of the savings and investments we have.
So through our diligent saving, we rely on what we have accrued. Then we become more able to help those in need. We are now the lender and not the borrower. Saving allows us to rely on what we have stored up for ourselves if bad times come along. A good savings goal is to have at least six months of living expenses set aside. For example, if your expenses are $3,000 a month, then you should set the amount of $18,000 as a savings goal. This gives you the ability to be self-reliant for those times when you may need it, and the peace of mind knowing you would be able to handle challenging circumstances if necessary.

Saving money not only helps bring security and peace of mind, it also begins to harness the power of compound interest. As we will see next week, investing is the maximizing of capital gain and the harnessing of compound interest. Saving money in a standard savings account or money market account will pay a nominal sum, say 2-4 percent, depending upon interest rates. As we will discuss further next week, there is something called the rule of 72, which says that whatever interest rate you average, divided into 72, will determine how many years it takes to double your money. So, even at 3 percent, your money will double in
24 years. That isn't extraordinary by any means, but it does happen. Your money is working for you. You get more money simply by letting it sit there and letting compound interest do its work. With saving, this is a seemingly small beginning, but it is the strong foundation of security that allows you to build the future of your dreams and goals, and provides the anchor to help you weather financial storms that can come your way. But here's what is exciting, the real power comes next week when we talk about investing.

Basically, our understanding of the discipline of saving our money on a regular basis is for the safety and stability it creates. Investing is for advanced compounding of your resources.

So here is what to focus on:

Adopt the regular discipline of saving.
Think like the tortoise and not the hare.
Achieve self-reliance through saving.
Harness the power of compound interest

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making That Change

 
If you want to get more out of a team or group, don’t just push harder – think what’s holding them back.

Although change is always going on within any group of people, life has a tendency to settle down, and activities develop a rhythm and pattern of their own. It happens in our personal life too – we develop habits that we hardly notice; for example, where we shop for food. Typically, the same supermarket is visited and a broadly similar range of food is bought each time.

Different forces

It was the renowned German-born psychologist, Kurt Lewin, who most clearly identified that the regular pattern which emerges in these activities, or ‘processes’, is determined by the interplay of a wide variety of different ‘forces’. For example, the proximity of the shops, the relative price of food, the children’s favourite dishes and the size of a family’s income will all affect its food-buying pattern. But so also will the frequency with which friends are entertained, the status attached to mealtimes, the consciousness or otherwise of a healthy diet, and a myriad of other greater or lesser factors.

Of course, these processes are not constant or set in concrete; they fluctuate around their usual level of equilibrium. And these fluctuations are caused by variations in the strength of the forces that maintain that equilibrium. Those forces create what Lewin called the ‘forcefield’ (the origin of the Forcefield Analysis Tool).

The forces themselves can be categorised into two opposing types: driving and restraining forces. Driving forces may be ambition, goals, needs or fears. They may act as ‘forces toward’ or ‘forces away from’ something. A restraining force, on the other hand, is different in nature: it merely opposes the driving forces. A forcefield operates in such a way that the opposing forces balance out at a point where the driving and restraining forces are equal. This is the point at which the usual rhythm and pattern of human activity becomes established. To create change, therefore, Lewin suggested that two questions have to be answered: why does the process, under its present circumstances, carry on at this level; and what are the conditions for changing those present circumstances?

Driving forces

If we want to change the tempo or increase the output from a team or group, the natural inclination is to look at ways of pushing the team harder or introducing incentives for good performers and threatening sanctions for poor performance. In other words, we usually reach first for the driving forces and try to increase them. What Lewin found in his work on group dynamics was that this often sets up a countervailing set of restraining forces – increasing tiredness, more frustrations and anger, more aggressiveness and emotion, an increase in mistakes, etc. So much so that these can counteract the increase in driving forces, leaving actual output at the same level. Even if output increases in the short term, it is likely to sink back in the medium or longer term. You just have a more disgruntled group to work with!

Restraining forces

In Lewin’s model there is an alternative option: find ways of reducing the restraining forces that are keeping the work-rate or output down. And it is for this reason he argued that anyone wanting to create change should not think in terms of the ‘goal to be achieved’, but should look hard at all the options available and take into consideration all the forces at work. Lewin used a river analogy, pointing out that a change in its velocity can be achieved if it is narrowed, widened, cleared of rocks, straightened, etc. But it is no good stating one of these as the aim, because that forecloses other, possibly better, options.

In terms of restraining forces within groups or teams, there will be many forces at work. These may be the work environment, the location of different group members, the IT and other systems they have to use, the difficulty of the task(s), unnecessary distractions, or even current levels of training. As with rivers, so with people – all circumstances and options have to be examined in order to choose the best.

For example, because ability and difficulty are two sides of the same coin, a change in ability (through training) is equivalent to altering the difficulty of the task – by making it easier to accomplish. In the right circumstances and properly handled, reducing restraining forces can achieve the same objective as increasing driving forces. It is also likely to be accompanied by much less tension and greatly improved team morale and self-respect.

So next time you want to get more out of a group, look first at what’s holding them back and see if you can improve things before you start cracking the whip!


see www.esodipo1.successuniversity.com/slim