1001 Newbie - Friendly Tips by Bob McElwain - HTML preview
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How Do You Define Success?
Many people have selective hearing. That is, they hear only what they are listening for. When such people tune in to the notion of getting rich on the Web, they can't seem to hear anything else. They are deaf to the news of dot-com failures in mass. Deaf to the certain doom that lies at the end of any path claimed to be quick or easy. And deaf to any mention of how tough it is to succeed in business anywhere, online or offline.
If you have fallen into this trap, there are only two options. Continue on your chosen path and fail. Or redefine what success means to you, then begin working to achieve it.
Getting Rich Is Unlikely
It is no easier to become wealthy online than offline. The only advantage to beginning a business online, rather than offline, is in the lower startup costs. The rest of it is work, learning, then implementing what you learn.
What are your chances of opening a new business in your home town and becoming a millionaire? Unless you have very special talents and skills, it's unlikely. The chances of doing so on a website are no better.
Would Making A Living Suit You?
Do you have what it takes to open a business on main street and earn a comfortable living? If you lack essential information, are you willing to take the time to hunt it up? If there are things you do not know, are you willing to learn them? If you lack needed skills, are you prepared to develop them?
One who can answer a resounding, "Yes," to the above questions, can succeed. Online or offline. Until you can shout this right out loud to your family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers on the street, any effort to build a successful website will break your heart. And waste a ton of your time. And more than a few bucks.
If you want to succeed on the Web, you must first come to grips with what you mean by success. If your definition can be simplified to making a good living with the opportunity to make more, then all is quite doable. And one of the best ways to start is to begin part time and grow your business as you learn.
Whether you have started a business or are still only thinking about doing so, you may find it informative to check out some successful sites. Successful, that is, according to the definition of their owners.
While the following sites may appear quite different from one another, they have much in common.
* Nobody is making a million bucks a year; this was not the goal. Rather they are making a living (their definition) and are in an excellent position to increase their income.
* The site designs are quite simple; very few fancy graphics are to be found.
* Each site is well focused.
* Each site is loaded with content.
* Some face stern competition; others have carved their niche and conquered it.
You will probably note ways in which each site can be improved. But this is true of any site, large or small. And it's true of yours. And mine.
Features hot peppers, sauces, and such. A great example of niche marketing. Not many are into hot in this fashion, but those who are search constantly for more and hotter. Note there are a some such people in your community. Every nursery stocks pepper seedlings in the spring, labeled, "HOT!" This site tapped into this wide, if thinly spread interest. Something impractical in even a major city, but easy to do on the Web.
A super smooth catalog site. They resell TV direct sales merchandise. Their growth has come through the site and all business is transacted on it. Beyond what you see there is undoubtedly at least one person who spends a good part of each day with routine business chores, solving problems, dealing with customer complaints, and above all searching for even better deals for existing customers.
This company began as a marginally successful local wild flower seed company in Wisconsin. They grew significantly when the owner took the business online, expanded the product line, and reached out to a national (and to some extent, international) audience. In reply to a message, Deb Edlhuber said, "It [the site] has totally amazed me and continues to grow."
Malcolm Simmonds launched his first site in late 1997, selling herbal products, which he had been making and selling offline since the early 80's. He learned HTML and did the entire site himself. Within a year, it had paid for itself. Since then, he has expanded and enriched the site enormously, increasing his profits in the process. While looking ahead to even further increases, he is doing quite nicely now. All this in addition to his continuing success offline.
Dan Poynter had a successful self-publishing company going before he launched his website. What used to be a travel/phone/direct mail company is now strictly a web-based company. In a reply to a message, Dan said, "This morning I checked the order-email account and found we sold 21 reports overnight.The customers benefited because they received the reports instantly (on a Sunday) and did not have to pay for shipping or sales tax. Para Publishing benefited because we did not have to print, inventory, wrap, ship, or place postage on the reports. This is truly a win-win situation made possible by the Internet."
This site was built by a mother-daughter team. They first learned the brick and mortar catalog business, then expanded to the Web. The site is now a profitable component of their business. Click to visit my site for their delightful story, "Net Lessons from the Monster Girls" by Rob Spiegle.
A while back, a visitor asked, "Do you know of a small site that is successful?" I referred him to one of the above. A short while later, he replied, "You gotta be kidding. That's nothing!"
If you visit any of the above sites and find "nothing," then you probably need to know more about business and the web in order to build a winning site. Revaluate your definition of success, learn what is needed, then take another look. These sites are successful. That is, successful in the eyes of their owners. And in the eyes of their customers. What else matters?