Small Is Often Beautiful

small_businessSmall companies can compete with the big companies on the internet. With creative website design, good planning and a well thought out strategy a small company can create a big company identity.  Many large companies have struggled on the internet where small businesses have succeeded. The nice thing about retailing on the internet is; It’s not all a question of budget, it’s the creative ideas used to construct and promote your site. The fact is the customer has no idea how big your company is! We started and ran several of our early ventures from a garage and managed to compete and pick up sales over bigger companies with massive advertising budgets.

Don’t be afraid of change – embrace it! Small companies need to be prepared to change direction and re-invent themselves. This should be considered a strength where smaller companies can quickly revise product lines and follow seams of revenue when they are discovered. Actively seek change; several ventures that we have been involved in would no longer be trading if we had not revised the business model.

Imagine if you sold and repaired video recorders, if you were not prepared to re-train and learn how to sell and repair DVD players you would no longer be in business. Being prepared to adapt to changes in the market however subtle, is very important and making these changes faster than the bigger companies is the small traders competitive edge. Big companies have armies of managers, bureaucracy, red tape and mountains of stock to slow them down.

Delegation & Outsourcing

delegationThe delegation of tasks is not always easy, especially when you’re just starting out in business.  Finding good staff, contractors and tradesmen is difficult and there is the obvious financial downside over doing it yourself.  However, it’s important to know your limitations, you maybe well suited to complete some jobs / tasks, others you may not.  Building a business is a time consuming process and requires many different skills. Believing that you can do it all without any help may well be a mistake, especially if you are considering building an internet based business.

Technical people don’t always make great entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs aren’t always good technicians. Understanding what you are good at and hiring people to complete the jobs that you will find difficult is key to your business success.

Running an internet based business will definitely involve its fair share of technical work and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not being entirely honest.  As we will discuss in later posts, there are ways of contracting technical work out to highly technical personnel without paying a fortune.  In the meantime some of the resourses you can use are as follows:

http://www.guru.com
http://www.getafreelancer.com

Running an online business will also involve some, if not all, of the below tasks on a daily basis. If your time is tight, you will need to identify people to complete the jobs you least want to do yourself.

Accounts – process all information as it occurs preferably into an accounting package
Paying Suppliers – make sure you pay anyone who is willing to give you credit in a timely fashion
Chasing Customer Payments – hopefully rare on the internet but any account customers have to be chased for outstanding money owed
Finding New Products – using the techniques and searching the locations mentioned later in this publication, you need to be on the constant lookout for new product lines
Placing Product Orders and Dealing with Suppliers – you need to be on top of your stock situation; running out of stock can create some major headaches
Adding Products – new product lines will need to be added to your e-commerce software
Answering Support E-mails – check your support inbox regularly and answer support questions as fast as possible
Answering Support Phone Calls – if you provide a support phone number answer the calls in a timely and professional manner
Taking Sales Phone Calls – if you provide a sales phone number, again, answer the calls in a timely and professional manner
Promoting Your Site – the promotion of a website is an ongoing process, you need to allocate several of your time units each day to the techniques outlined later in this document concerning the on-line marketing of your website
Packaging and Sending Parcels – make sure you package and ship the goods to your customers as fast as possible, customers love receiving their orders quickly
Checking Statistics – check your traffic statistics daily for changes in traffic flow and number of sales. This may highlight a problem with your site or a potential money earner, being on top of your statistics will allow you to react quickly to good or bad customer sentiment.

  • Entrepreneurs have the creative ideas and the vision that start and continue to run a successful business.
  • Managers organize and administrate.
  • Technicians do the skilled jobs that require knowledge or a skill to complete.
  • Production personnel do the semi-skilled and the repetitive and mundane work.

Most business models will require elements of all four; to begin with you will probably have to try your hand at most things. However, it’s very important that the managerial, technical and production aspects of the work don’t suppress your entrepreneurial spirit.

If the entrepreneurial presence is suppressed the vital creative ideas essential to a small business in an ever-changing market, will no longer be forthcoming.  Decide as early as possible the everyday tasks you are suited to complete and ones you are not. Look for ways to delegate the tasks you are not suited to complete to third parties, do not try and complete all the work by yourself.

Ultimately, your business should run in spite of you, not because of you. Building businesses that run and make money without your everyday presence will leave you and your entrepreneurial spirit free to build further businesses. When you write your business plan, plan to make yourself dispensable within a three-year period. Obviously, you may still be required to make strategic and direction decisions together with some managerial input so you can influence the continued growth of your venture.  But ultimately over time your business should still function without your everyday involvement!

In the past I made the mistake of becoming too involved in the daily operation of my businesses.  The problem is, you can be too busy making a living to make any real money.  Furthermore, in extreme cases it can seriously effect your quality of living and I have personally fallen into the trap of working 18 hour days, trying to personally complete all the jobs involved in running a business.  Decide early to contract the help of other people to do the work you don’t want to do.

Time Management

time_managementDo you ever wake up in the morning overwhelmed by the amount you would like to achieve and at the end of the day feel under-whelmed by what you have actually managed to complete? If this is the case you could probably benefit from a good time management process.

I recommend the use of lists; list all the tasks you would like to achieve and then give each task a priority based on how important it is that you finish the job.

Using a unit measure of say 30 minutes (1 unit = 30 minutes) give each task in your list an estimated unit value based on how long you think the task will take to complete. If your work consists of lots a small tasks like phone calls or trades you may wish to use a smaller unit of time (i.e. 1 unit = 15 minutes)

Try to break down tasks with large unit values into smaller easy to complete sub-tasks. I normally work with a maximum unit value of ‘5-Units’ or 2.5 hours

You also need to establish how many hours of the day and how many days of the week you can commit to your work. This will give you the average number of units in your working week. Try to build-in some contingency units, unexpected things can always crop-up and it’s important not to fall behind on your schedule. Also, try to be realistic about how long tasks are going to take, underestimating the time a task is going to take and falling behind on your schedule can be both frustrating and demoralizing.

Some e-mail applications like Outlook have built-in task management applications, where possible use these facilities to keep on-top and up to date with your workload.

Get Your Finances In Order

financesEssentially, what makes a company successful is the same whether you operate on the internet, on the high street or out of a spare room in your house.  We have spent years trying to work out what makes successful people successful. Single-minded determination and a willingness to knuckle down and do some hard work are important characteristics. However, the most disturbing fact I have discovered is that generally speaking, being successful often involves forgoing some of the things success will ultimately bring.

Unless you have a mountain of cash behind you, being frugal is key to the success of your business venture, living a life of fast cars, large houses, casinos, partying, night-clubbing and chasing the opposite sex is not conducive to building a successful business. You must look for ways to conserve your money in both your business dealings and your personal expenditure. Before starting your business find ways to minimize your personal out-goings, so in the important early stages of your venture you can reduce the personal drawings you need to take from your business.

If you would like tips on reducing personal expenditure, the below site is packed with great money saving advice:

Motley Fool US
Motley Fool UK

Preparation

preparation2Preparation maybe boring but it is one of the most important aspects of starting any new venture, if you fail to prepare – be prepared to fail. In our opinion, every business should write a business plan; essentially a business plan is a structured process – an analysis of the work that needs to be completed to achieve specifics goals, the sum of these goals being a successful revenue generating business. A business plan will also provide forecasts of the financial rewards you expect your efforts to achieve. These pages are essentially a generic structured process that can be modified to suit your own business model. Sections that are not required can be removed and the sections that are left can be tailored as required. This will leave you with an impressive business plan that if followed; the resulting company will build into a successful internet business.

It is very important to plan meticulously and work to a set of achievable goals, set milestones and strive to reach those targets. There is no point putting a lot of hard work in if you don’t know what you’re working towards. Setting both personal and business goals will give you direction and purpose, making them realistic and achievable will maintain your interest and the likelihood of your success.

A Guide To Selling On-line

ticket_to_freedomA guide and discussion for people who want to build websites that make a real income and sell genuine products and Services.

The Internet-Retailer site has been set-up to give its visitors a step-by-step guide detailing what needs to be done to start and build a successful internet company / companies.

This easy to follow, step-by-step information has been written to help you sell any product through the internet and for those who don’t have a product, we try to help you to identify one.  We endeavor to take you through the whole internet-retail process from day 1 to a fully functional on-line business.  This information is provided completely free of charge if accessed through this site.  However, you can download the complete guide which is a 150+ page PDF for a cost of $24.99.  Please remember the information is provided free of charge on the site, we only sell the guide to fund the continued development of this site.

The Internet-Retailer tells it like it is, with over 150 pages of priceless money making and money saving advice that can be put into action straight away.  This is not the spurious rubbish touted by all the ‘get rich quick merchants’ and scammers, this is a real life step-by-step guide to internet success with information gleaned from several very successful internet ventures operated and run, by us, over the last seven years.

We have tried to make the process scaleable, if you want you can work from home for as little as 15 hours per week and still build a decent income.  However using our process you could scale-up your operation and build a multi-million $ turnover multi-channel business.

Beware the ‘get rich quick’ merchants and scammers, this site was first motivated by an attempt to correct the massive amount of misinformation touted by the scammers and get rich quick merchants.  The people selling these fantasy formulas are:

  • Only interested in pushing their own product and getting you to assist them in that cause.
  • Working their butts off for the money they make.
  • Generally fly-by-night characters and will never substantiate their promises.

Remember no matter what the ‘get rich quick’ schemes are telling you about the amount of money you could theoretically make, websites are absolutely useless without TRAFFIC!  The success of your internet venture depends on the quantity and quality of the traffic your site receives.

In contrast, Internet-Retailer provides a complete process backed by example together with extensive traffic generation techniques (free of charge).  All the way through the publication we provide examples from one of our existing successful internet ventures and we provide a process that takes you through a complete procedure.

Internet-Retailer is also designed to work for people who already have a product/service and are looking to take it to market through the internet, or those who may already have a website and need a process to help build sales momentum.

We endeavor to tell it like it is, internet retailer is written in a clear and concise way so that it can be easily understood by technicians and beginners alike.

People are making their fortunes on the internet everyday and the market is getting stronger and stronger.  Someone might be considering taking your product to market right now, you need to beat them to it!  The sooner you get involved the better… GO ON, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

There are many guides formulas and schemes that claim they can guarantee you almost limitless income for very little work. As nice as it would be to make a load of cash with minimal effort, sitting at home, let me save you thousands of pounds and many wasted hours, there is no magic formula for success. If it were that easy the people selling it would do it themselves and keep the formula secret.

One of the biggest barriers between the average man and real wealth is the erroneous belief that one-day success will just happen. There are a lot of schemes and scams out there that go a long way to promote the myth that success can be easily achieved with little or no effort.

Once you have got your head around the fact that it’s the people who are prepared to work that generally achieve in this world, you’ve taken you first step on the road to success.

This site is for people who consider themselves entrepreneurial with drive and enthusiasm who are looking for an outlet for their creativity and business acumen. People who are looking for direction, a process to take them through a complete procedure covering: 

  • Product Selection
  • Product Sourcing
  • Domain Registration
  • Site Hosting
  • Site Development and Build
  • Taking Payments
  • Marketing
  • Traffic Generation
  • Avoiding Pitfalls
  • General Observations
  • Minimizing Fraud and Charge-backs

Why the internet? The internet is a little like a modern day gold rush. People have been quick to jump on the bandwagon but unless you are equipped with the correct knowledge your internet prospecting days could be numbered.

The fact is, most if not all business start-ups and existing off-line business should be considering the internet for at least an aspect of their future progression. Internet sales growth is far outpacing traditional sales growth and every year internet sales increase in percentage and volume. If the internet is not part of your plan, it should be, and if you are looking for a way to make money, the internet is the obvious answer.

We try to back our information with examples! most of the examples are made using one of our own retail ventures. This allows us to indicate the results that can be achieved in a live situation. We use the techniques illustrated in this book to promote our own ventures it therefore stand to reason that if the example site performs well, the techniques obviously work.

I would like to think that we tell it like it is, you will either embrace the information, using it to start a successful internet business or help to build an existing one. Alternatively, it will put you off altogether – either way it should give you some direction!

The Process In A Nutshell

in_a_nutshellA quick guide to the process of starting, building and continuing to run a successful internet business.

Consolidate your own financial position – Minimize personal expenditure and budget all personal and business spending, making sure your finances can withstand the (probably lean) initial months of your venture

A typical internet-retailer business plan will look something like the following:-

Form a plan of action – make sure you indicate where you want your company to be in six months, two years and five years from now.  Try to be realistic, unless you have a huge advertising / marketing budget sales will probably grow quite modestly.

Consider your products – if you don’t already have a product, decide on the products or services you wish to sell

Identify your target market – who is going to buy your products? Do they use the internet? How much money on average do they spend on this type of product?

Identify suppliers – establish where and who you will source your products from.

Establish profitability – what will your products cost, what price will they sell for and what other fulfillment costs will you incur… illustrate with appropriate documentation that your product is profitable?

Analyze  your competitors – who are your main competitors? and how can you create a competitive edge?

Analyze your business model –  (How, What, When, Who & Why) ask yourself as many questions about your business as possible and then answer them all in your business plan.  Ask friends and family to be objective about your proposed business, take any concerns or criticism on board and provide answers in your business plan.

Purchase sample products – make some sample purchases, remember to order in small quantities so you can confirm the legitimacy of the supplier, check the quality of the goods and make sure there is a market for the goods.

Test your market on eBay – before building a complete retail environment test your product sales on eBay.

Decide on your e-commerce infrastructure – research and decide what e-commerce software is best suited for your requirements and if necessary, decide who to register and host your domain with.

Choose your payment gateway – research which payment gateway is best suited to take your credit card receipts.

Populate your infrastructure with your products – load your products into your e-commerce software, paying special attention to accurate, informative product descriptions and high quality product images.

Experiment with various on-line marketing techniques – PPC & CPC, Search Engine Optimization ‘Content SEO’ & ‘Link building’, Forum Contributions, Blogs etc. etc… your traffic building techniques will become an ongoing task but you need to decide and plan the techniques you intend to use to build traffic momentum to your new on-line venture

Analyze your site for weaknesses – is your site fast?  Do all the procedures work?  Are there any broken links?  Are your products well categorized and easy to find?  Is your site easy to navigate?  Is your site atheistically pleasing? Are all potential reasons why your site may not convert visitors into sales!

Analyze your competition for improvements – look for anything your competitors do that is better or cheaper than you.  Where possible add or make improvements to your site so it is better and/or cheaper than all your obvious competitors.

All these topics and many more are discussed in detail on this site

A Guide To Retailing On-line

Teaching people how to build websites that make a real income and sell genuine products and Services.

Internet-Retailer is an on-line resource for aspiring internet entrepreneurs and provides a complete process for the creation and continued operation of successful internet businesses!

We have personally built and run several on-line businesses that produce completely independent  income streams.  On this site we detail the techniques we used to start and build these on-line ventures.

This easy to follow, step-by-step information has been written to help you sell any product through the internet and for those who don’t have a product, we try to help you to identify one.  We endeavor to take you through the whole internet-retail process from day 1 to a fully functional on-line business.

This information is provided completely free of charge if accessed through this site.  However, you can download the complete guide which is a 150+ page PDF for a cost of $24.99.  Please remember the information is provided free of charge on the site, we only sell the guide to fund the continued development of this site.

Revamping the site

Internet-Retailer is being rewritten as a wordpress blog.

We plan to completely revamp the site adding many new articles and updating some of the content that has become out of date.

Thank you for your continued support and for your patience while we carry out the revamp.