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Work Smarter, Not Harder – 4 Keys to a Lower Maintenance and More Productive Online Business

Work Smarter, Not Harder – 4 Keys to a Lower Maintenance and More Productive Online Business

Here’s something that most online business owners struggle with. Working too hard for not enough return. Even when the returns are good, the hours can be grueling.

As a wife and mom of three kids, I can’t afford to be sitting at my computer 24/7. I chose to run an online business because I want to be home with my kids, but being at home glued to a computer screen isn’t like being at home.

Even if you don’t have a kid or a spouse, a business should not become your entire life. It’s a recipe for burnout and a dismal life that revolves around a computer. At first, building your business and working really may seem exciting, but then you look up and realize there’s nothing else in your life.

So, how do you work smarter and not harder? In other words, how do you make more money with less personal time invested in your business?

To me, in comes down to 4 key points:

  1. Value your time and don’t undercharge
  2. Leverage the strengths and time of others
  3. Implement passive income models into your business
  4. Don’t be afraid of technology

Here’s some more thoughts on each of those:

1. Value Your Time and Don’t Undercharge

You need to set and limit your working hours. You probably run your business so you can stay home with your family and/or have more freedom. Well, being a prisoner to your computer doesn’t do either of those things for you. In addition, when you limit your work time, you are actually more productive. If you have only 3 hours to get work done, you’re more likely to stay focused and do what you need to do. If you have set aside the whole day to work, you’re more likely to slack off and find distractions.

The other part of valuing your time is by charging what your time is really worth to you. A common practice for new business owners is to not charge enough. Retail business owners discount their prices to be lower than their competitors, and those that provide services charge too little because they don’t feel they can charge more, or that they’re not worth it yet. If you’re running your business as a hobby, that’s fine I guess, but if you are trying to build a successful business and significant income, then that just won’t work.

Instead of decreasing your prices, increase the value of what you offer – whether it’s in superior customer service, personal shopping assistance, or other value-added offerings that will make you stand out from your competitors for the right reasons, not just because you’re cheap.

2. Leverage The Strength & Time of Others

Don’t think of yourself as a solo entrepreneur…think of yourself as a team. You can leverage the strength and time of others by:

  • Outsourcing: You don’t need to do it all yourself!
  • Partnering with others reaching the same target market as you: Your competition doesn’t need to be your enemy. Make them your partners instead.
  • Recruiting and training an affiliate force: Just setting up the script for your affiliate program isn’t enough…set up a stellar program that will motivate users to be part of.
  • Being part of mastermind group that shares business strategies and experiences.

3. Implement Passive Income Models Into Your Business

Outsourcing and having your own well-managed affiliate program are ways to generate passive income. Other ways to add more passive income to your online business are:

  • Join affiliate programs: You don’t have to fulfill the orders and provide customer support.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization is an excellent source of highly-targeted traffic for your website. Just think, people enter a keyword phrase for something they want and voila, they find you.
  • Implement pay-per-click strategies: Just like with search engines, you can get highly-targeted traffic to your website, but you have to pay for it. But setting up a cost-effective and profitable campaign can do wonders for your business. Try Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing.
  • Use autoresponders: Effectively automate your follow-up process with your prospects and customers.
  • Backend Sales & Upsells: When someone is already going to buy from you once, they’re more likely to buy more. Make sure you make extra offers.

4. Embrace Technology

This one might be tough for some non-technical people. Some uses of technology can include:

  • Autoresponders
  • Membership sites
  • Automating content addition to your sites
  • Making customer/prospect management easier and more profitable by using a CRM
  • Customer feedback, comments, reviews
  • Affiliate program
  • Tracking advertising and A/B split testing

So please, stop doing so much work! Your business, family, and friends will thank you for it!

9 Ways to Build Credibility for a Successful Online Business

9 Ways to Build Credibility for a Successful Online Business

Credibility is one of the most critical factors that will affect your online business success. Being credible is simply the perception of being trustworthy and believable. Why do people buy brand name goods and services on the Internet and in the offline world? One of the key reasons is that the brand represents a level of quality that they know and trust.

1. Consistency is Key

So how can you build credibility on the Internet for your business? A key factor is being consistent. People are more likely to trust a business or person who acts in a similar manner most of the time. For example, if you publish a newsletter to your customers or potential clients, aim for similar quality in each issue. Also, be consistent in your style of writing. Publish on a regular basis because irregular publication schedules cause confusion in the minds of your readers.

2. Quality

Consistency applies to every aspect of your business. Don’t change your guarantee terms every couple of weeks. Ensure that all your products or services consistently meet the quality and value standards that you are promoting.

3. Free Offers & Trials

Credibility is something that is earned. Therefore, you need to give of yourself to get trust back in return. There are many ways to do this. If you can, offer free trial periods so the customer can try before they buy. This process enables the potential customer to check that your product will do the job you say that it will.

4. Share your Knowledge

Sharing your knowledge is a useful way to build your credibility. This can be done through monitoring discussion lists and boards that your potential customers frequent. Answer questions that they pose. Be a regular contributor to the list so that people come to know and respect your knowledge.

5. Be Honest

Making outlandish claims in advertisements or on your web site can harm your credibility. Telling the truth is always the best way. Ensure that your products or services provide more value than promised. Under promise and over deliver. Take the time to walk in your customers’ shoes before writing your ad copy or your web site promotional material. This will enable you to clearly state benefits that your potential customers are looking for in a way that they will find believable.

6. Testimonials

Testimonials can be a powerful way to generate trust in your product or service. Set up systems to gain unsolicited testimonials whenever you can. When you gather testimonials to publish on your site, ensure that you have permission to publish them. Also, never make up testimonials to boost your credibility as more often than not you will be caught and then discredited.

7. Provide Solutions

Don’t just state what your qualifications are on your web site or in your promotional material. Instead, state how your qualifications can benefit your potential customers and solve a problem they have. For example, state how your expertise will provide the solution your prospect needs in a way he or she will understand.

8. Be Available

Following sound business practices will help your credibility also. This includes ensure that your business address and phone numbers are clearly shown on your web site. Also, ensure that you are contactable via phone and email and respond promptly to each contact. Have you had phone messages or email that were never responded to? How did that influence your perception of the business?

9. Be Prompt

Prompt delivery of what has been ordered also helps build the right impression of your business. So too does quickly responding to claims on your guarantee. Efficient business procedures that are focused on providing customer satisfaction will always help your business image and credibility.Strong credibility takes a long time and much effort to build. It can be destroyed quickly and sometimes can never be regained. For your business to achieve its full potential, it is important that you set standards and live by them so that you are constantly building your credibility. Remember that each thing you do in your business will affect the image of your business. Being focused on providing solutions to your customers, providing consistent quality and value for money, and being accessible will all help you achieve the credibility your business needs to succeed.
3 Things Experienced Women Entrepreneurs Wish They Had Known Before Starting Their Online Businesses

3 Things Experienced Women Entrepreneurs Wish They Had Known Before Starting Their Online Businesses

I had the opportunity to interview two women with successful online businesses, and both of them had some terrific advice to share. We discussed a few of the things we did right, and a few of the things we did wrong during the past year in our businesses. This information is extremely valuable to other women who are just starting out so I will share the highlights with you.

Importance of Building a List

Firstly, one thing that was outlined is the importance of building a list at some point. So many people who launch a web site decide to start collecting email addresses from visitors as an afterthought, as a method of generating additional revenue once their site is established. But after hearing several online business owners express regret that these people waited to collect emails and as a result lost out on a wide range of income, I now am convinced that offering a newsletter or e-course is usually a top priority for anyone when they publish their site.

If a newsletter sounds intimidating, try a 5 day e-course or online seminar instead. Or maybe place an opt-in box prominently with your site, preferably on every page, that offers something valuable for your visitor in exchange for their own contact information. Write a how-to on the topic of your site, save it as a PDF and offer it as a free download if they opt in. Then when you will be ready to begin sending out a newsletter, you already have subscribers. The fact is that the majority of people who come to your site will not buy anything. But if you get permission to make contact with them again, the chance of them eventually becoming your customer is much better.

Importance of Focus

The second thing these ladies decided on is the importance of focus. Don’t get distracted in your small business and start launching new websites if they don’t fit into your overall business plan and fulfill the needs of your target audience. We only have so much time and energy in a day. Getting involved in too many site projects means that our “bread and butter” website is not going to get the attention it should. That might mean that it is advisable to sell a website or two to produce a laser tight focus. Accomplishing this can actually boost your earnings.

Never Be Content With your Content

The third thing these women were doing right is by providing their target market with outstanding and informative content. Content that kept their readers returning for more, that kept search engines like Google happy, and that sold their products. These women were constantly adding valuable content to their site, newsletter, autoresponder, and blog. I can’t adequately express the importance of this!

Great content also serves as a sort of business partner for you, drawing media and potential business partners. In addition to writing their own content for their websites and blogs, they also purchased premium quality private label rights articles and used that to build additional content for their growing websites.

The interesting thing about a successful online business is that although it takes hard work, focus, and dedication, it really isn’t rocket science. The principles are actually quite easy to implement, you just need to be equipped with the right data and do your research before starting out.

5 Steps to an Effective Online Business – Foundational Steps to Build a Strong Long-Term Business Online

5 Steps to an Effective Online Business – Foundational Steps to Build a Strong Long-Term Business Online

Creating and running an effective online business is realistically comprised of several hundred, rather than five, but this will serve as a guide for the direction of your efforts. Contrary to what you may hear rampantly on the Internet, there is no cookie-cutter, get-rich quick scheme on the web. Not only is every online business different, what works for one person or in one month may not work for another person or in the next month.

The Internet is constantly changing, and the online market is inherently different this year than it was last year. New technological improvements occur monthly, and impact the online business environment. What works for one individual when he is the first to sell a certain product a certain way may not work just six months later when he has sold his idea to 40,000 other marketers, and they all begin to promote it. Traffic generation tactics are significantly different than they were just a year ago, and hardly resemble profitable strategies three years ago.

These 5 steps are simply the bare-bones skeleton of what has to happen for your online business to be successful. They are foundational, and although the implementation strategies are different today than several years ago, the basic steps remain the same.

1. Develop or discover a product or service.

You must find a product that meets today’s needs. A 5-year-old product whose resell rights you can buy for a dollar or get for free probably won’t meet the needs of today’s consumers. You must be willing to pay for the rights to sell a current, useful product, or become an affiliate marketer, where you promote a popular product, and in exchange are paid a percentage of the income from the sale.

2. You will need a website.

Determine how the potential customers can view your product and see a sales presentation. If you develop your own product or purchase the rights to sell someone else’s, you will need a website. A few tips here: Rather than accept free web hosting or free website design, purchase your own domain name, pay to have your web site hosted and designed by a professional with a reputable history.

3. Develop a sales script and web copy

Once you have your web site up and running, unless you are using an affiliate program that supplies a sales page, you must develop a sales script and web copy. This is probably the most important thing you can do. You may be tempted at first to write a sales pitch on your own, but unless you already have a lot of experience in the offline market writing effective sales letters, you need to, absolutely must, invest in a few courses on web copywriting. Be willing to spend some money upfront on learning this skill. Too many marketers try to wing it in this area and after a few months of losing money online, finally break down and purchase the knowledge to write a good sales pitch. Do it the other way around and buy the knowledge first, then start making sales from the beginning. Customers will not buy just because you have a web site—they buy from the website that does the best job of convincing them it has the best product for their need.

4. You must develop a traffic source that works.

When you first begin, you may be on a shoestring, and that is okay. Assuming you have been willing to spend some money on sales letter writing and a decent web host and designer, you may be able to skimp in the traffic arena for awhile, if you have plenty of time. If you do not have money to advertise, nor time to seek out low cost advertising, you probably shouldn’t be attempting an online business. If you do choose to go the low-cost route, know two things up front: the returns are really low and you will spend vast amounts of time on traffic generation. Once you begin to make sales, you must invest your time and income in targeted traffic generation and inbound marketing. If you do not, you will run out of enthusiasm and without reinvesting the income from your first sales into marketing, you are sure to fail. Good sources of low-cost, but time consuming traffic are: writing articles and blogging them, low cost classified ads, and e-zine ads. You may see hyped-up ads for thousands or visitors for a low cost or millions of banner ads for another reasonable price both of these methods may have worked 2 years ago, but they are a sure waste today.

5. Identify traffic sources and keep detailed records.

Once you begin to get traffic to your online business site, you must keep detailed records of where the traffic comes from, and what percentage of visitors from each source are purchasing your product. If you have visitors that cost you $50 per hundred to come to your web site, but on average they only purchase $25 per hundred visitors, the income may feel good, but you are not profitable, and are losing money. By tracking your expenses on each type of visitor and by tracking your revenue on the same sources of visitors, you can determine which campaigns need changes or need to be eliminated and which need to be increased in intensity.

By following this pattern of steps, and by keeping diligent records (there is plenty of good website tracking software on the market that can help you do that), you can develop a profitable online business. Again, it will not happen overnight, and you will not get rich quick. However, if you build a solid online business with a solid foundation, and are willing to spend some money learning how to do it right, you really can become successful in business online.

4 Keys to Overcoming the Wrecking Ball In Your Online Business

4 Keys to Overcoming the Wrecking Ball In Your Online Business

I want to share a story from someone else that I thought was really applicable to our clients:

There are four ways to overcome the wrecking ball in your online business but seem to elude the faint hearted. If allowed, it will destroy the very fiber of your being!

I was almost classified in this category. Do you remember the song, “I just wish that I knew what I know now?” I don’t remember the artist, but I do remember the catchy tune. Knowing what I know now sure would have saved me a lot of heartache when I was younger.

When I was about ten I remember having a lemonade stand in the middle of fall. It was cold out then and my friends ribbed me so harshly that I almost gave up on my sales escapade. After I stayed outside for an hour or so with no sales money in my little cup, I began to believe what my friends were saying was true.

I guess my father saw my disappointment written all over my face through the window because he came out to keep me company. Now, I don’t know about anyone else’s dad, but mine was like Superman in my eyes. Little did I know then that Dad taught me a few lessons that afternoon about business and life in general.

He sat and talked to me about 4 things I need to know to survive in any type of business. The 4 concepts are actually very simplistic in nature. They are belief, passion, patience, and perseverance.

Dad asked me if I still believe people will come and buy my lemonade. I answered by saying I didn’t know but if they were coming, I wished they would come soon. He told me to be patient and they will come. He said for right now, I need to know if you believe they will come or not. Of course I said yes, but I still wasn’t sure.

I learned the awesome power of belief that day. I found out that when I truly believed they would show up and buy, I became very passionate about selling. I didn’t know the first thing about advertising or marketing like I know today, but I went into the house and began to call some kids in the neighborhood.

In the mean time I went back outside, only to find Dad ready to tell me a story about some old farmer and his mule. Bet your bottom dollar I wasn’t very interested in his story then, but it kicked in about thirty years later. It was a perfect illustration about perseverance.

Dad told me this mule fell in an abandoned well. The farmer attempted its rescue. Unable, he was determined to bury his friend and dumped a load of dirt down the well. That mule kicked, stomped, and snorted, until he stood two feet higher. A few more loads of dirt a lot of kicking, snorting, and stomping down that dirt, the mule walked out on level ground… a survivor!

I bet by now you’re asking “What in the world does this story have to do with an online business?” It has everything to do with overcoming the wrecking ball!

Unlike the mule, often online business owners get caught in a well, but they see no way out so they give up! The wrecking ball is a form of self-destruction! I truly believe this is the reason it is so elusive to the faint hearted. Not practicing these concepts in our business is like inviting a wrecking ball into our minds that can, and will, demolish everything in its path including our self esteem and confidence.

If you are one of the faint hearted, I urge you to keep your chin up. Try believing that people will buy from you! Once you believe they will come, your passion level will be higher than you can possibly imagine!

Now get out there and market the heck out of your product(s). Just don’t expect it to happen overnight. It does take hard work. Be persistent and have patience and prudence, they will come.

By the way, about that lemonade stand… within a half hour or so people started to come and buy my lemonade. I made $56.30 that day. It may not seem like a lot of money to you, but back then, at ten cents a glass and age 10, it seemed like a goldmine to me.