viernes, 25 de marzo de 2011

¿Cómo empezó, creció & vendido un negocio de comercio electrónico para el trimestre millones de dólares (250.000 dólares)-parte 2

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In part one of this post titled, How I Started, Grew & Sold An E-commerce Business For Quarter Million Dollars ($250,000), I wrote about how I came about the idea for the e-commerce website that I started, grew and sold, while on an international work-related trip.

The article goes in depth explaining the formulation of the idea, the facts I gathered about my industry during research, and an analysis of the product supply chain, which eventually lead to the value proposition (the business idea).

I then discuss the journey to search for a product distributor who would become my business partner, how and where I found one, as well as the establishment of the e-commerce portal itself.

This article picks up from that point onward, discussing the challenges we ran into once we went into operation mode, the invaluable lessons that only first-hand experience can teach, the exit strategy which was the $250,000 sale of the website, and finally my overall concluding thoughts on the entire experience.

I hope you find this discussion beneficial and of some value to you as you embark on similar entrepreneurial ventures.

There were several more challenges encountered in conjunction with this project, once we were in operation, and as a result several invaluable lessons were learned.

One of the biggest lessons I learned is when going into business that requires heavy technical work, such as the e-commerce website (programmed in PhP) we ran, it is better to find a programmer that will work with you on a profit sharing basis rather than payment per task.

Website Programming

A one and done programmer can disappear overnight on you, leaving you with no one to turn to for immediate help. If you are running a blog, you can get away with less frequent technical help. But when you are running a website with over 1,000 different products that change frequently (in size, quantity, branding, name, description, etc), as well as one that demands consistent improvement in process and technology, it is almost impossible to provide an ideal user experience without full time help by your side.

Finding a programmer who will work in exchange for a vested interest is difficult; the alternative is to have and be willing to fork out dollars constantly for work you want done on your website.

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

We didn’t have the slightest idea about search engine optimization (SEO), so we focused on PPC to drive traffic to our website. If you ever get into PPC, make sure you spend ample time studying quality material discussing what it is and how to execute it effectively. If you can’t do it, hire someone who knows what they are doing.

PPC marketing can be very exciting, addictive and lethal at the same time. I almost lost my shirt doing this. I still don’t understand PPC marketing well enough to this day to be able to make a killing from it like some internet marketers do, and that’s why I only do it for one of my niche content websites. I spend a mere $10 a month on it, mainly because I haven’t found anyone else in the niche and therefore am able to generate a relatively high revenue to expense ratio or return on investment (ROI).

The site I use it on has been up for over two years and so far so good. I am keeping my fingers crossed but I know that it is just a matter of time before some competition catches up. Pardon the tangent.

Business Automation

Another lesson learned is to automate a business as much as possible, particularly one that involves several types of products and a constant back and forth interaction between you (the business) and the buyer (the consumer).

Here is an example why: my partner supplier had millions of dollars worth of merchandise in the warehouse, but the merchandise mix (both product and price) changed frequently. This became a nightmare for us. Updating inventory prices and quantities became like a full time job in its own.

We brought in a couple of programmers and paid them to do some work to sync the website’s product database to the warehouse inventory system. However, because the warehouse inventory system was such a manual process (manually updating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets), we now had to rely on the hourly warehouse employees to update the spreadsheet timely and accurately. You can guess what happened.

Growth is Not Always Good

Most companies want to grow, as did we, but growth should be planned so that it can be managed when you get there. When growth is unplanned for, it becomes unmanageable and you find yourself putting-off fires instead of proactively planning for and preventing them.

Instead of operating from a proactive approach, you relinquish control and become reactive to externalities, which at times make you completely helpless. This often leads to inefficiencies in the short term and disaster at some point down the road. Luckily as you will find out below, we were saved from disaster. However, we did encounter several painful inefficiencies.

For example, because our inventory update system was flawed, our website would indicate that product A is available and that we have 15 pieces of it in stock, 10 of product B and 5 of product C. Because our customers were mainly resellers, they typically bought each product in large volumes.

What started to happen frequently as we grew was that customer D would order 20 pieces of A, 15 of B and 10 of C. This had a few implications. First, we were not able to fulfill the entire order and therefore have an unhappy customer.

Second, because the website processed payment upon ordering immediately, we now had to refund money for the product we didn’t have. Not only did this take a lot of time to do, but we also had to incur credit card processing fees for refunds. Not to mention an unhappy customer. Credit card processing costs money per transaction, whether it is a purchase or a refund.

What also started to happen frequently is because the warehouse inventory wasn’t reflected full time on our website, customers would view a product and not buy it because the website would show it as not available when in reality we could have 100 pieces of it in the warehouse. I know this because many of our customers emailed us asking when we would get more of product E, F and G. Lost sales from ready to buy customers on available items absolutely killed me.

In an attempt to fulfill customer demands, I started buying my own inventory, and a lot of it. Because I didn’t want customers to turn back unhappy, I tied up my own cash flow in perishable inventory. This was a huge risk. One bottle of designer perfume can cost anywhere between $15-100, and I had a ton on hand.

This is not only detrimental from a cash flow / working capital perspective, it is also a huge risk. Think about potential inventory breakage and obsolescence. I was also spending a lot of time analyzing which items sold most and during which seasons so I could plan my inventory purchases accordingly. A big time consuming activity.

Because of the entire mess collectively, we saw that our membership renewal rates were down the following year. Many refused to renew their memberships and others wanted a prorated refund before even a full year of their membership was complete. I don’t blame them. Why would I pay Sam’s Club an annual fee when they don’t have the items I want half the year?

In addition, we had six Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints from unhappy customers. Suddenly, our operational risks “creeped” into becoming reputational risks. I know from experience that if we were to continue down this path, we would have potentially faced lawsuits. BBB complaints to attorneys are like blood to sharks.

Bottom line is that our membership was growing much faster than we had anticipated and we were simply not equipped with the PPT, or personnel, process and technology to make things work the way we wanted to. Sure we were making money, and volume was increasing (both sales and memberships), but the work and potential risks involved were becoming more than we were willing to burden.

Partner Diligence

Finally, I learned that you should be very careful in selecting the partner you choose to work with. I see more partnerships fail than succeed, and there is a very good reason for that. Partners must share the same vision and hold the same values and characteristics necessary to succeed in any venture.

For example, if you are determined, know how to persevere and don’t give up easily, select a partner who has the same track record as you. When one partner looses patience, or gets fed up because of obstacles that come your way (and they will no matter what business you decide to go into), there is a tendency to start getting frustrated, pointing fingers and giving up.

Take your time in selecting your partner. It is not easy finding one who has similar motivations as you and who can perform at a level you want to perform at. Perhaps that is one reason why most of my side gigs are self-operated ventures.

The best way I can summarize the root cause of ALL challenges we encountered was that although I took my time to research and develop a solid idea upfront, I jumped the gun on the execution. I aimed and fired without having completely researched or being ready for what came ahead. Maybe the first-mover anxiety got to me?

One fine weekend afternoon I received an email indicating interest in our business, and whether we were open to discussing the potential sale of it.

I wasn’t thinking about a sale at this point, so I didn’t know what to make of the message right away. I sat on it and talked it over with my partner over the next few days. We realized it would be best for us to sell the business and move on, and perhaps try a similar concept down the road, except this time much better prepared before launch.

So about a week later I wrote the sender back asking for more information. I researched his company and came to learn that at the time he owned the second largest Ebay store. If you are familiar with how Ebay works, in addition to auctioning items, you can also have a store on Ebay’s platform. There are however several restrictions that Ebay imposes on you, such as restricting you from routing visitors to your personal website outside Ebay.

The buyer had initially indicated that his team was interested in establishing an online presence. They did not have their own e-commerce website and relied on Ebay for their online sales. If you are familiar with Ebay’s commission and fee structure (not to mention its payment system PayPal charges its own commissions), it is much more expensive to do business on Ebay than it is on your own website using your own credit card processor or merchant account service.

After a few more back and forths I started the due diligence process, except this was a seller side due diligence, or SSDD. Just a year before this, I had conducted buy side due diligence (BSDD) when I acquired a physical, local business in my community.

The sell side due diligence process involved preparing financial statements and getting them audited and opined on by a local accountant (CPA), hiring a local attorney to prepare the sell side documents including the main contract, which included indemnification clauses and customer disclosure requirements, researching an escrow company to hold funds during the transaction, a full list of assets included in the sale as well as transfer procedures for each (such as the back-end customer email list database), analytics accounts, email IDs and the DBA (the business name). I also contacted the State of Incorporation of the business for corporate dissolution documents and an employee identification number (EIN) transfer.

To ensure customers remained in good hands, I researched the buyer further by contacting them anonymously, purchasing a product from them and then subsequently complaining as a disgruntled customer, as well as researching them on the internet for any dirt I could find. After the process, I was comfortable in their credibility and knew our customers would be in good hands going forward.

The website was generating approximately $60,000 in annual earnings or profit at the time, and after toggling around we agreed on a sale price of just under $250,000, which is approximately four times the annual earnings or EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), a term frequently used in the business community, specifically in the mergers and acquisitions industry.

To ward off a bit, a niche content website generating the same amount of revenues would have sold for more than four times its earnings. That is because a content website is less time consuming to manage, and does not involve “heavy” offline expenditures and hassles such as inventory, warehousing costs, supply chain, etc. Content websites also tend to generate more free traffic organically from search engines rather than relying on paid advertising like many e-commerce websites do. Remember, I almost lost my shirt in PPC marketing!

As the sale date approached, I realized more and more that the buyer was not so much interested in our website as he was in our customer database. They had clearly done a net acquisition cost analysis on a per customer basis and decided that they were getting a good deal buying essentially 1,500 customers for $250,000. At this point I was kicking myself knowing that I could have made more on the sale! You will see why below.

Although not directly related to this article, this is an interesting concept to highlight. In the 90s, there was a trend in the corporate world where one company would buy another one that was not profitable but had a large amount of operating losses from previous years. Corporate tax accounting rules allow companies to deduct operating losses from previous years in years of profitability. Back then, buying sinking companies because of their large loss carry forward balances was allowed, and everyone started doing it until the government realized and modified the legislation.

Think about this for a minute. Let’s say company A sucks, has $20M in losses from previous years and is no longer making money. Company B is a profitable rock star company and has no loss carry forward from previous years. Let’s say company B makes $40M a year.

Since company A doesn’t make money, company B feels they can buy company A at a greatly discounted price. They are most likely right in that assumption. Company A is a sinking ship and is looking to get out. Company B offers $5M to acquire it and company A agrees. Let’s see what this transaction does for both.

Company A cashes out and avoids continuing losses. Company B makes $40M a year and pays collectively 40% of its earnings in taxes (Federal, State, City, County / Local all combined). Because company B bought A, it can now deduct company A’s carry forward losses of $20M from its current year income of $40M, arriving at a net profit of only $20M.

So instead of paying 40% tax on $40M, which is $16M, it now pays 40% tax on just $20M, which is $8M. So by paying $5M to buy company A, company B ended up saving $8M in taxes, a net saving of $3M on the whole gig. Is $3M worth all that hassle???

Did the buyer care about my website? Maybe or maybe not. But they did get what they wanted, and that is loyal, regular and recurring customers at a dirt-cheap per customer acquisition cost.

Long after the sale, when my mind was finally a bit relaxed and off the roller coaster emotional ride, I was convinced the buyer bought our website for its customers. It enforced my realization that they were not at all interested in the e-commerce platform that we had created, but rather the underlying asset which was our list of 1,500 loyal, regular and recurring customers (similar to carry forward net operating losses).

Think about this from the buyer’s perspective. They essentially paid $166 per customer acquisition ($250,000 divided by 1,500 customers). This is genius. How much are you willing to pay to acquire a customer? I guess that depends on the industry you are in.

After several discussions with my now ex-partner, I learned that in the wholesale designer fragrance market, the lifetime value of a good customer can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Grant it that my ex dealt with bigger fish, but still.

When I thought about it from the buyer’s perspective, they could easily make $166 back on just one single sale to a retail customer, let alone a wholesale one. It all started coming together. Although the buyer may have been looking to establish an online presence like they said they did, I am convinced that the customer list was the main driver of the acquisition.

Should we have persevered and hung on? I don’t know. What could have, should have, may have, I really don’t know. All I know is that it was a blast. It was a fun and adrenaline pumping roller coaster ride from start to finish (also quite taxing especially when we started really growing). It gave me a true taste and appreciation for entrepreneurship in its purest sense, and I realized all-time high satisfaction levels in my “entrepreneurship career”.

Sure, the sale also gave me the ability to brag about a quarter million dollar sale at a bar / nightclub (how do you think I picked up my wife?), however, if you break down the money earned to an hourly wage, I am willing to bet that someone flipping burgers at McDonalds likely makes more with a lot less stress. But see others just don’t realize that – I bet you didn’t? But now you do.

I had caught the entrepreneurship bug, and I warn you, it is pleasantly malignant!



P.S. NO, that is not how I found my wife.

If you have not read part 1 of this series, you may have been lost from the get-go.

Sunil is a serial “side gig-preneur” who resorted to the Internet despite being in a comfortable and successful career paying a healthy six figure salary. His Extra Money Blog discusses how successful and hard working professionals can get more out of life, whether financial abundance, more freedom of choice, or the flexibility to live life on their own terms. You can reach him at:

Cómo mejorar la creatividad parte 2: Desbloquear los secretos del inconsciente

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Hello again, I didn’t get through all the techniques for enhancing creativity in my last article, How To Enhance Creativity: Why Lady Gaga Works & Brainstorming Doesn’t, so we’re picking up from where we left off and running with it!

Our unconscious mind is a vast resource of infinite wisdom and creative insight. In part one, I referred to some experiences of how my creativity was able to produce all kinds of useful and unique insights and information to help me with business decisions and choices related to my personal life. The trick is finding ways to tap into this resource.

There’s a really cool story told by Dr. Richard Wiseman, which is a great analogy for how our unconscious mind works and how to tap into it. It’s called listening to the quiet girl in the room.

Imagine you go into a room, there are two people in the room. One is very vivacious, chatty and loud, the other is very quiet and reserved. You ask these two characters for help with solving some problem, and the loud girl immediately bursts forth with a torrent of ideas and information, it may not be very useful, unique or interesting. The quiet girl on the other hand, doesn’t say anything, because she doesn’t get a chance to with her noisy counterpart monopolizing the spot light.

Dr. Wiseman says this is really how our conscious and unconscious mind operates. Our conscious mind is the noisy one; never shuts up, always prattling on with an endless run of thoughts and ideas, it may not be very useful, relevant or interesting. Our unconscious mind on the other hand, can have some extremely useful and unique insights to share, but we rarely hear from it over the chatter of our conscious mind. So how do we deal with this?

In my experience, doing various kinds of meditation has helped me immensely with quietening my overly busy mind. Moving meditation, like yoga, works well if you’re not someone who can sit still for long. If sitting still doesn’t drive you crazy then there are numerous types of still meditations available. I practiced Vipassana meditation for a number of years and I’ve never had such clarity of mind and creative insight as when I kept up this discipline. I’ve fallen off the wagon however and am well overdue for another stint of training! Dr. Wiseman cites another way to access our unconscious, and we’ll go back to the story to find out how.

So, this time when you go back into the room, you head the noisy girl off at the pass by asking her to do some kind of time consuming task which keeps her distracted. Then when she’s occupied, you ask the quiet girl again for help with your problem. Now that there is space for her to share her insights, she can tell you numerous innovative and unusual solutions to your problem.

This leads us to some other great ways to get your conscious mind out of the way to let your unconscious work on innovative problem solving.

Ap Dijksterhuis, a psychologist from University of Amsterdam conducted a series of experiments to test this theory. He would pose a problem or ask a question of the participants in the study. Then he would have them distract their conscious mind for a few (3) minutes with something else (you could use a crossword, a computer game, a word finder puzzle, anything that requires your undivided attention for a few minutes.) The study found that when people engaged their conscious mind and allowed their unconscious to work on the problem, they came up with almost twice as many creative and innovative ideas and solutions compared to when the conscious mind was involved. Pretty cool huh?

I don’t find this is one of my favorite techniques for getting in touch with my subconscious, but it’s definitely a very quick and effective technique to get in touch with your hidden wisdom and insights.

In the last article I mentioned awakening creativity through mental priming in relation to thinking of Lady Gaga, there is also another kind of mental priming mind available. When we work intensely on a problem for a while, we mentally prime our minds to immerse ourselves completely in the problem. Then we need to do something completely different. This could be going to a museum, an art gallery, watching a film or looking through magazines or books that are not related to the topic we’re working on. The idea is to allow our mind to perceive things from a different perspective and come up with new and innovative ideas and concepts as a result.

Changing our perspective in other ways enhances creativity as well. Using our imagination is key here. We can use our imagination to think about how a child or a friend or an artist or accountant might approach the problem we’re struggling with. Consciously activating our curiosity also helps awaken our creativity. Children are extremely curious, and they are also extremely creative. Curiosity is a key link to creativity as it drives us to question things and entertain novel ideas in relation to a problem.

I’ve discussed the benefits of play at length in other articles as a way to connect with our creativity. If we take 15 minutes break from the task we’re working on to play, it can re-energize us and bring fresh perspective to the problem. Dr. Wiseman has a few funny examples of play he recommends to help lighten things up. He says to try finding ways to put the words “cheese” & “pie” into our next meeting or telephone call. Maybe if you leave a comment at the end of this post, see if you can find a way to make these words fit into what you’re going to say.

Stress shuts down our creativity and innovation very quickly. When we feel worried, we become very focused and concentrated on trying to figure whatever it is we think will help us avoid any further pain or punishment from the stress related issue. This creates a type of risk-averse behavior in which we rely on established habits and routines and tend to see the world through tunnel vision.

The result is that we default more to linear, sequential thinking patterns as opposed to multidimensional, holistic thinking, which is the essence of creative thinking. In previous articles, I mentioned how exercise and spending time in quiet, natural settings is great for stress reduction. You may already have your own effective stress reduction techniques, it’s worth remembering that these are vital to enhancing your creativity and innovation, not to mention improving our overall health, well being and work performance.

Psychologists Ronald Freidman and Jens Forster discovered a quick technique to make people feel relaxed, and enhances creativity. Apparently, when we like something we pull it towards us, and when we dislike it, we instinctively push it away from us. This act of pulling towards us is associated with positive feeling and relaxation, and the act of pushing away is associated with negative feeling and tension.

Freidman and Forster found that by having participants place one hand under the table and pull it up towards them, they scored higher for creativity and innovation as it created that feeling of positivity and relaxation. They didn’t need to lift the table off the ground or anything, just place some upward pressure on the underside of the table as though pulling it towards them. Participants who placed their hands on the table-top and pushed down scored lower due to the feeling of tension and negativity. So we can always give this technique a try when we’re working at our desk and need to do some speedy relaxation and creative thinking.

This brings us to our final technique for enhancing creativity, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s called lying down on the job! Ha-ha! Can you believe there is scientific proof that lying down on the job is actually beneficial to innovation and creative thinking? Please God, someone post this up on their workplace notice board!

Darren Lipnicki and Don Byrne from Australian National University tested people’s creative problem solving both standing up or lying down. They found that participants solved problems 10% faster when lying down. The reason for this is not completely understood, but it’s possible that lying down decreases activity in a part of the brain called the locus coeruleus, and this appears to improve creative thinking. So next time the pressure is on to be innovative at work, just take five to lie down on the job and see what happens!

The studies in this post come from a fabulous book, 59 Seconds, by Professor Richard Wiseman. It’s a brilliant book and I highly recommend it. Once again, please leave any comments you have in regard to the ideas in this post – I challenge you to include the words “cheese” and “pie” in it! Thanks for reading, and here’s to your creative success.

Neroli Makim

Neroli Makim is an internationally acclaimed artist, author and speaker on Creativity and its relationship to personal fulfillment and professional success. She educates people about Creativity, what it is, why it’s important and how to access it within themselves. For more information, visit

jueves, 24 de marzo de 2011

Cómo aprovechar su tiempo & ingresos durante una transición de negocio

Desde empezando a blog aquí en viaje de empresarios, he dado un montón de trucos y consejos para la construcción de la exposición y crear perfil, utilizando métodos que he utilizado con clientes. Ahora quiero hablar un poco sobre mi viaje y un ligero cambio de dirección para mí y compartir lo que aprendí acerca de aprovechar el tiempo y la creación de fuentes de ingresos adicionales con usted.

Cuando comencé mi negocio de relaciones públicas, McDuling PR, en 2007 fue un paso muy grande para mí. Ya tuve algunos clientes del lado cuando dejó mi empleo a tiempo completo, pero básicamente encontré en una posición de interruptor de acuerdo – fue ahora o nunca para que funcione. No tengo el lujo de un agradable vaca lechera o marido Rico darme un búfer a jugar seguro y construir poco a poco. Tuve que ir realmente para, o no poder pagar la hipoteca o poner comida en la mesa. Y eso es exactamente lo que hice, afortunadamente todo salió muy bien para mí.

Ahora, cuatro años más tarde, tengo un número de clientes fantásticos que trabajo, todos los cuales son personas inspiradoras de su propia manera. El único problema es la cantidad de trabajo que lleva por mi parte. Es que consultoría todos base de trabajo y requiere un montón de entrada, tiempo y esfuerzo. Y si quiero ganar más dinero, sólo tengo dos opciones con este escenario: poner mis precios (y hay un techo sobre cuánto se puede cobrar por servicios de relaciones públicas, como con la mayoría de las otra industrias) o más clientes.

Físicamente, puedo trabajar sólo con tantos clientes a la vez con un buen servicio, y tener un poco de su vida personal. Tengo una persona que trabaja a tiempo parcial, pero yo mismo orgullo en servicio personal a Mis clientes, por lo que hay sólo tanto puedo subcontratar a él. Además, realmente quiero ser dirección de personas siendo responsable de ellos. Sólo es no lo que me da alegría – agrega a mi estrés.

Muchos proveedores de servicios encuentran con el mismo problema, y muchos de mis clientes están en el mismo barco. Trabajo con ellos para ayudarles a descubrir fuentes de ingresos adicionales, y esto es literalmente lo que he hecho para mi propio negocio. Pero, en lugar de agregar estos ingresos adicionales a la PR mcduling, he creado una identidad todo independiente – y la estratosfera nací y lanzó en febrero de este año.

La filosofía estratosfera Me era proporcionar una serie de soluciones para individuos (no empresas, pero personas-incluyendo empresarios, autores, artistas, deportistas y empresarios) para generar la exposición por sí mismos y así aumentar sus beneficios.

La solución high-end es trabajo de consultoría, donde será literalmente me pagan para ello para ellos. Sin embargo, otras soluciones disponibles incluyen: asistir a un taller donde les mostraré cómo hacerlo por sí mismos, ser parte de un grupo de asesoramiento, ofreciendo consultas Skype ventas y por último uno a uno en producto, donde proporcionan ideas para la exposición específica a su situación o industria.

No hace falta ser un matemático para averiguar que puedo hacer más dinero para menos esfuerzo trabajando con un gran grupo de personas en el momento, en lugar de llevarlos en como clientes individuales. Además, el taller y tutoría opciones de grupo son mucho más rentables para las personas que tienen limitaciones presupuestarias. Obviamente, crear y, a continuación, venta de un producto es la solución definitiva para aprovechar el tiempo realmente bien, porque sólo necesito crear una vez y, a continuación, puedo vender varias veces.

Quiero llegar a un público internacional, porque lo que soy docente es aplicable en un ámbito más amplio que sólo aquí en Australia. No soy originalmente australiano – yo nací y crecí en Sudáfrica y, a continuación, Irlanda, antes movimiento aquí como un adolescente. Yo me considero un residente global como estoy viajó ampliamente y le gustaría resolver en otros lugares del mundo para al menos una parte del año. Mi marido es holandés y se trasladó aquí cuando nos reunimos, por lo que a menudo están en movimiento y gusta explorar otros países. Por lo tanto, es importante para mí al considerar que si mi negocio fue fácilmente transferibles.

Mis productos estarán a la venta en dólares y están disponibles para un público internacional, y planea tomar mis talleres a Estados Unidos el año que viene. Consultar sobre Skype con personas de todo el mundo y proporcionar orientación y ideas prácticas para una pequeña tarifa única por pagar con Paypal. Por lo tanto, mi negocio es realmente internacional.

A continuación presentamos algunas ideas y sugerencias para proporcionar secuencias adicionales de ingresos para su negocio:

¿Si actualmente la principal fuente de ingresos para su negocio es puramente basada en servicios, hay una opción para crear productos para vender en línea y la base de datos? ¿Por ejemplo, si un contador, podría proporcionar un informe detallado que ofrece asesoramiento de ahorros de impuestos?¿Si ya dispone de un producto, por ejemplo un informe que sus clientes Descargar, podría crear un producto multimedia (audio y video) para ofrecer algo extra por un precio más alto?Una vez más, si está basado en el servicio, ¿por qué no ofrecen talleres donde los asistentes pueden aprender de usted cómo hacer lo que sea que ofrece, ellos mismos? El bono es que usted puede luego de cine el taller para crear el producto. Este es un ejemplo de aprovechar realmente tanto tiempo y recursos.Seminarios web es una gran oportunidad para ofrecer formación a distancia y seminarios que también pueden ser interactivos. Cuanto mayor sea tu perfil, pueblo de valor superior pondrá en ser aparte de ella y más que tendrán que pagar. Imagínese cuánto un seminario con Richard branson o Bill Gates valdría por ejemplo.

Estoy interesado en escuchar de otras ideas para aprovechar el tiempo y crear fuentes adicionales de ingresos, especialmente para las empresas basadas en el servicio. Se trata de una transición que actualmente estoy pasando y quiero aprender tanto como pueda para garantizar un buen resultado.

Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling es un publicista y Director de su propietario de relaciones públicas y publicidad consultoría PR McDuling y exposición especialidad negocio, estratosfera Me – construcción de marcas y desarrollar oportunidades de negocio rentables para las empresas, autores, altavoces y empresarios.

Cómo pueden obtener la certificación profesionales organizadores

El miércoles, 9 de marzo, 2011 que puede no necesario para obtener la certificación para convertirse en un organización especialista, sin embargo, este activo se muestra a los clientes potenciales que han cumplido las normas específicas de la industria. También muestra que tiene un nivel avanzado de habilidades, conocimientos y experiencia en una industria que no ofrece un programa de grado universitario.

Home Business ExpertCon certificación, se convierte al instante en más cotizados. También tiene una ventaja competitiva contra otros organizadores profesionales.

Certificación de organizador profesional puede obtenerse a través de la Junta de certificación para profesionales organizadores (Bcporganizer), que está afiliado con el NAPO, la Asociación Nacional de organizadores profesionales. Objetivo de Bcporganizer es promover la credibilidad y normas éticas en la industria de organizador profesional.

Obtener más información sobre cómo obtener la certificación de organizador profesional.

Lista de comprobación para la puesta en marcha de negocios | Préstamos comerciales y CreditLabels: certificado organizador profesional, certificación de organizador profesional, clase organizador profesional, curso de organizador profesional, formación profesional organizador

publicado por Noticias @ 5:47 AM

¿Trabajo desde casa empleos - cómo encontrarlos?

El martes, 15 de marzo de 2011 más empleadores están dando la oportunidad de trabajar desde casa a fin de disminuir los gastos de la empresa empleados. Esto incluye trabajos de teletrabajo y outsourcing incluso a contratistas independientes. Contratistas independientes a veces pueden incluso pagan más dinero porque dan los beneficios que los empleados reciben normalmente.

Si desea que la libertad y la flexibilidad de una obra de trabajo casa, encontrará algunos recursos a continuación. Trabajo en el hogar puede ser la solución perfecta para familias con niños pequeños o los dos padres que trabajan. Hay incluso trabajo desde casa de oportunidades para las personas que quieren trabajar a tiempo parcial o a corto plazo.

Cuidado con los buscadores de trabajo! Hay mucho trabajo desde casa estafas se encuentran tanto en línea como sin conexión. También necesita descifrar entre puestos de trabajo y oportunidades de negocio basado en casa en el hogar.

Home Business ExpertAunque las empresas basado en casa pueden ser excelentes fuentes de ingresos, debe ser el tipo de persona que puede motivar a sí mismo y sea su propio jefe. Si desea ser empleados por una empresa, buscar trabajo en casa puestos de trabajo.

Cómo encontrar: trabajo de inicio de trabajos

ChecklistLabels de puesta en marcha de negocios: libre trabajo en casa, puestos de trabajo, libres trabajan desde privadas, basado en trabajos, trabajar en casa, trabajos en casa, trabajar desde casa puestos de trabajo

publicado por Noticias @ 5:02 AM

Sistema de entretenimiento de EVOtainment

Engadget: El llamado sistema de EVOtainment es una Wii carreras rueda de Nerf que se ha perforado fuera y aumentada para permitir un control clásico a unirse al partido, con una franja de 3 M bloqueo doble. Hasta la parte superior que un montaje universal de GPS se aferra desesperadamente a su HTC EVO, que se conecta a través de Bluetooth para el Wiimote.

EVOtainment sistema trae grandeza de emulación para el HTC EVO en un Wiimote y una oración [Engadget]

Publicado por Marcel Sim @ 10:42 AM |   Entretenimiento |  Vínculo de artículo |   No hay comentarios
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Anteriores: Carteras madera ?
Siguiente: Libre de informe – más de 50 nuevas Ideas de negocios de 2010 ?

Cómo pueden obtener la certificación profesionales organizadores

El miércoles, 9 de marzo, 2011 que puede no necesario para obtener la certificación para convertirse en un organización especialista, sin embargo, este activo se muestra a los clientes potenciales que han cumplido las normas específicas de la industria. También muestra que tiene un nivel avanzado de habilidades, conocimientos y experiencia en una industria que no ofrece un programa de grado universitario.

Home Business ExpertCon certificación, se convierte al instante en más cotizados. También tiene una ventaja competitiva contra otros organizadores profesionales.

Certificación de organizador profesional puede obtenerse a través de la Junta de certificación para profesionales organizadores (Bcporganizer), que está afiliado con el NAPO, la Asociación Nacional de organizadores profesionales. Objetivo de Bcporganizer es promover la credibilidad y normas éticas en la industria de organizador profesional.

Obtener más información sobre cómo obtener la certificación de organizador profesional.

Lista de comprobación para la puesta en marcha de negocios | Préstamos comerciales y CreditLabels: certificado organizador profesional, certificación de organizador profesional, clase organizador profesional, curso de organizador profesional, formación profesional organizador

publicado por Noticias @ 5:47 AM

Enfriar la Idea de negocio para los planificadores de eventos & catering

El ¿jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011 eres un planificador de eventos o servicio? Acabo de leer sobre una compañía holandesa que está creando una nueva experiencia para sus clientes. Creo que es una gran idea.

No sólo hacen "comedores" llegar a experimentar una variedad de escenarios al aire libre, los menús y los cocineros constantemente cambiarán también. Puedo ver esta idea de negocio despegar en el lugar.

Los consumidores siempre están buscando nuevas experiencias y entretenimiento sin soplar el presupuesto. Y esto encaja en el perfil. Creo que también crea una escena social no intimidar, que atraerá a más clientes...

-Iniciar un negocio de hostelero
-Ser un planificador de eventos

ChecklistLabels de la puesta en marcha de negocios: idea de negocio, catering, comer, entretenimiento, planificador de eventos, planificación de eventos, negocios de alimentos, al aire libre, restaurante

publicado por Noticias @ 6:53 AM

miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2011

Libre de informe – más de 50 nuevas Ideas de negocios de 2010

Free Reports for Your Download

¿Cuáles son las nuevas ideas de negocios más interesantes en 2010? ¿Qué innovaciones empresariales fueron brillantes y pendientes? ¿Lo que pasó por la mente de los empresarios radicales en el último año?

Si estás interesado en las respuestas a estas preguntas, encontrará este informe gratuito por una buena lectura. Este ebook PDF 23-páginas libres (por valor de $38), "Top 50 nuevas Ideas de negocios de 2010?, es una colección de las más interesantes ideas de negocios avistados en el año pasado. Estamos seguros de que te guste.

Algunas de las innovaciones incluidas en este informe gratuito: iPod de Ritmo para bebés, 'Tú y yo' reloj, Tours de viajes de juguetes y shorts personalizada.

Averigüe cómo puede descargar gratis este nuevo informe.

No olvide consultar nuestros informes anteriores, incluyendo "buenas Ideas de negocios en 2009?,"acaba nuevo informe de Ideas de negocios y "2006's mejores Ideas de negocios". Disponibles para su descarga gratuita en!

Publicado por Marcel Sim @ 12:01 PM |   General |  Vínculo de artículo |   No hay comentarios
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Anterior: Sistema de entretenimiento de EVOtainment ?
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Carteras de madera

Luxist: Maison Martin Margiela no deja de sorprendernos. El siempre casa de moda de tomar riesgos nos mantiene adivinar con lo que le producen a continuación mediante la creación de piezas únicas y no convencionales.

Como parte de su colección primavera/verano 2011, un conjunto de carteras de madera ($425) llamó nuestra atención. Hecha de madera maciza con un acabado de laca, los granos se destacan maravillosamente. El interior es de cuero con tres ranuras de tarjeta de crédito, tres compartimentos y un elástico para proteger su dinero. Disponible en madera oscura y luz.

Maison Martin Margiela madera billeteras [Luxist]

Publicado por Marcel Sim @ 10:16 AM |   Lujo |  Vínculo de artículo |   No hay comentarios
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Anterior: BIZNESS! Boletín número 112 ?
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Cafetera de precisión

Gizmodo: El café de la underextracted a menudo, incluso en tiendas normalmente grandes — y que no es de extrañar si tienes un barista tratando de manejar cinco cafés artesanales simultáneamente con sólo dos manos. La consistencia es dura. Requiere cuidado, hombre. Si no eres un robot. Como máquina de Pourover de precisión de trébol de Starbucks.

Ahora, hay sólo una de estas máquinas en todo el mundo. Es en St Roy café la té & en Seattle, que es en realidad un Starbucks laboratorio de café oculto a la vista normal. (Es muy serio, el mejor Starbucks en todo el mundo, tal vez el único que es una cafetería legítimamente buena.) La máquina de trébol precisión Pourover fue construida por los tipos que desarrolló el trébol, una máquina de café cerveza de precisión de 12.000 dólares. Que, como el trébol original, está diseñado para resolver uno de los problemas más difíciles en la elaboración de café: adivinaron, consistencia.

Este Robot mano gotea café mejor que la mayoría de los humanos [Gizmodo]

Publicado por Steven Teo @ 12:37 AM |   Gadgets |  Vínculo de artículo |   2 Comentarios
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Anterior: Árbol molinos ?
Siguiente: Simples carteras ?

Financiación de empresas sin interés hasta 18 meses

Domingo, 13 de marzo de 2011 si tiene crédito decente, aquí una tarjeta de crédito de bajo costo que puede utilizar para financiar su puesta en marcha con 0% de interés de hasta 18 meses (tasa se aplica como de este escrito). No hay ninguna cuota anual, y es uno de los más populares tarjetas de crédito de Citibank - no es de extrañar.

Home Business ExpertLa tarjeta ofrece seguro de alquiler de auto, descuentos y otros beneficios de viaje y viene con un prestigio, "Preferido de diamante". Sin embargo, esto no es una tarjeta de crédito de "ricos en beneficio". Es ideal para alguien que busca una tasa inicial de 0% para un período de tiempo prolongado.

Esta tarjeta puede utilizarse para fines personales o empresariales - no es una tarjeta de crédito específica para el negocio. Infórmese y aplicar en línea: etiquetas de tarjeta preferido de Citibank diamante: crédito comercial, tarjeta de crédito, financiación de empresas, tarjeta de crédito de la pequeña empresa

publicado por Noticias @ 5:30 AM

Factura plantilla formas & Software

El viernes, 11 de marzo de 2011 si ejecuta un pequeño negocio, es probable que necesite facturar a los clientes de productos o servicios que ofrecen.

Generalmente, no es necesario adquirir formas elaboradas, caras. Sin embargo, es una buena idea utilizar un sistema de facturación claro y formato adecuado para que los clientes saben cuánto pagar, cuando el pago se debe y a quienes hacen el pago.

Usted puede comprar pastillas de recepción genérico de tu tienda estacionario, pero realmente puede ahorrar dinero creando sus propias facturas personalizadas usted mismo.

Home Business ExpertCon facturas personalizadas, puede incluir el logotipo de su empresa y toda información de contacto de empresa. De esta forma, clientes saben dónde enviar su pago, y puede mostrar una imagen profesional.

Obtenga los recursos: formas de plantilla de factura y Software

ChecklistLabels de la puesta en marcha de negocios: facturación factura, factura, software de factura, plantilla de factura, plantillas de facturas, facturas, facturas de ventas, facturación

publicado por Noticias @ 6:48 AM

Instaprint de Instagram

Engadget: Instaprint pretende recrear la locura de la foto de antaño por vincular la a Instagram: la aplicación popular (y actualmente sólo iOS) que le permite aplicar varios filtros a tus fotos para el rápido intercambio entre amigos. El Instaprinter (nuestro mandato, no la empresa) es esencialmente una modificado Zink impresora con conexión a internet y adaptaciones a la API de Instagram, que imprime automáticamente elementos etiquetados con cualquier hashtag que elige. Por ahora, la compañía planea alquilar cuadros de Instaprint y demostración del servicio en SXSWi, dirigidos a lo como una forma novedosa para capturar todos los ángulos de cualquier evento usted puede ser anfitrión, que nos parece una divertida idea.

Servicio de Instaprint es la Polaroid de la generación de Instagram, no agitando requiere [Engadget]

Publicado por Marcel Sim @ 10:10 AM |   Gadgets |  Vínculo de artículo |   No hay comentarios
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Anterior: Ver a través de Cam ?
Siguiente: Cupones ir ? exclusivo

martes, 22 de marzo de 2011

Caza de cabina de Uber

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USA Today: Tried finding a cab at rush hour in the rain lately? It’s a soggy business, one that start-up Uber wants to fix with a GPS-enabled smartphone app that helps book and locate rides.

Backed by star Silicon Valley investors, Uber offers people with iPhones and Android-based phones an app that connects them to limo drivers of black Lincoln Town Cars. It’s a fancier ride than your everyday cab, and the fare will hurt your wallet twice as much. But at least your money might stay dry.

In less than a year, Uber says the business has gained traction and provides “hundreds” of rides a day. Uber’s app is a free download, but the company makes money by taking a 20% cut from the fares of limo drivers who participate.

Uber app hails a Town Car for you [USA Today]

Posted by Marcel Sim @ 10:13 AM  |   Travel & Transport   |  Article Link  |   No Comments
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Previous: Coupons Go Upscale ?

Cupones ir exclusivos

SFGate: LivingSocial anunció una nueva era el mes pasado cuando ofreció un cupón de 10.000 dólares para un paquete de suite penthouse en el hotel Fairmont: diario-deal sitios van exclusivos.

Después de comenzar en billetes pequeños elementos: magdalenas, manicura y sesiones de yoga – LivingSocial y su mayor rival Groupon Inc. están llevando a cabo los compradores dispuestos a gastar cientos o incluso miles de dólares en viajes y de lujo.

GroupOn, LivingSocial ofreciendo cupones mayores [SFGate]

Publicado por Marcel Sim @ 10:37 AM |   Comercio electrónico minorista & |  Vínculo de artículo |   No hay comentarios
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Anterior: Instaprint de Instagram ?
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¿Queremos la libertad de prensa?

El sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011 si quieres publicidad gratuita para su negocio, pero no necesariamente tiene que promover un evento o una razón para escribir una nota de prensa, tiene otra opción. Puede registrarse como de expertos de la industria y tienen reporteros que te llama.

Cuando los periodistas que cubren una noticia, muchas veces están buscando un experto en el campo comentar o dar información sobre la situación de mano. Esto puede hacer una historia más interesante y darle credibilidad.

Siendo que expertos, puede ayudar a reporteros hagan su trabajo, pero también conocer su empresa al mismo tiempo. No tiene mucho tiempo, y es una excelente manera de dar a conocer que eres una persona de "ir a" en su campo. Esto puede llegar a hacerle muchos negocio...

Hay dos sitios Web que sé de donde puede inscribirse para ello: conexión de reportero y ayudar a un reportero.

ChecklistLabels de la puesta en marcha de negocios: publicidad, libre de publicidad gratuita, prensa, marketing, marketing ideas, comunicado de prensa

publicado por Noticias @ 5:43 AM

¿Cómo empezó, creció & vendido un negocio de comercio electrónico para el trimestre millones de dólares (250.000 dólares)

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In my previous post, Why Leave A Six Figure Salaried Career For Online Entrepreneurship, I wrote about the various business ventures I have tried and tested over the years. One of those ventures was the creation, establishment, growth and sale of an e-commerce business.  In this post, I want to lay out the details involved in how I first realized the opportunity, the formation of the business idea, the search for my supplier, the establishment and growth of the business, problems encountered and lessons learned, as well as the exit strategy that resulted in the $250,000 sale of the business.

Although this post is focused on my e-commerce business, the process and the underlying concepts and lessons learned can be applied to any business. I have paid the price to learn from mistakes, as well as reap the rewards of my actions. I hope you find some value in my experience on this entrepreneur’s journey.

My e-commerce business was an online discount seller of designer fragrances. I like designer products – I consume them and tend to stay on top of recent trends in fashion. This is the reason I was able to identify the opportunity when it presented itself to me.

The realization of my idea started on an international trip when I was working as a consultant in mergers and acquisitions.  My work took me all around the world and during one of these trips I was pleasantly shocked to see the prices at which designer perfumes and colognes sold for in some markets overseas.

These were the very same products that we are used to purchasing in malls and department stores here in the United States of America.  The prices of these bottles in China for example (1.7OZ, 3.3OZ, 4.4OZ, doesn’t matter) were almost a third of the prices we are used to paying in the United States of America. Why?

In America, the cost of doing business is very high. We have the second highest corporate income tax structure, and soon to be the highest as soon as Japan reduces its rates this year.

In addition, the malls and department stores that we buy from have large fixed costs and an overhead structure that they have to pass on to us – the consumers. What happens as a result is that we – the consumers – end up paying a price three or sometimes four or more times higher than what it would cost us to buy the fragrance from a smaller, “low-cost business” establishment.

So how can an online company like mine offer designer fragrances so much cheaper? Essentially by cutting as much of the supply chain as possible, and lowering the cost of doing business (i.e. by operating online).

Since the cost to the consumer increases the minute the product leaves the manufacturing warehouse, by selling directly to the consumer, online companies are able to cut most if not all middle-men involved in the process and therefore the unnecessary costs of doing business, to provide the consumer with the product at heavily discounted prices.

Realizing that there might be an opportunity to exploit in this industry, I began further research. I asked why should only a few be able to afford a 3.4OZ bottle of Armani for $89.99? Why can’t everyone access this fragrance at half the price? I realized they can, and the answer is e-commerce (buying and selling on the internet). I surfed the web and found many online stores that allowed individual consumers to purchase genuine designer merchandise at much lower prices.

In further pursuit of this idea, I came to learn that designer merchandise is a high-demand market. I could have guessed that, but research further reinforced this and provided some concrete numbers which I had no idea about.

The cologne and perfume industry is approximately a $25 billion industry in North America that is forecast to grow exponentially.  I also learned that there is a tremendous amount of brand loyalty, which is essentially loyalty of consumers towards a particular cologne or perfume.  A big reason for this is popular celebrity brands and endorsements of such brands.

That said, consumers are always seeking bargains on designer merchandise, which normally come at a hefty retail mark-up. In response, an opportunity in the designer merchandise market had been identified by some key wholesalers and distributors of designer accessories (such as purses, belts, eye wear, perfumes and colognes to name a few.)

These key players identified a niche in the online space of “e-tailing”. E-commerce stores (Internet websites that sell to individual consumers) were established to cut out the middle-”men” involved in the supply chain of designer merchandise in order to offer “luxury” products at “commodity” prices. In other words, rather than rely on stores to sell the designer products, entrepreneurs were designing websites that delivered the products straight to the consumers, at a significantly lower price.

And as I researched the supply side further, which involved talking to merchants, I started to realize that many small retailers were gravitating to these online businesses to procure their inventory for resale in their stores due to the low-cost pricing structure the portals offered.  However, shipping costs were making the deal unfavorable on many occasions.

I also heard a recurring problem faced by resellers, which is the lack of attention and communication from the wholesaler (the main supply source).  This makes sense. Why would a large distributor care about Mom’s little perfume shop down the street when they have huge malls and department stores to supply to?

One might ask, how is it possible to sell luxury products so much cheaper? The short answer is it is very much possible and evidence of it can be observed everywhere around us today (i.e. E-bay and Yahoo stores). Part of the explanation is that these products are cheap to begin with.

By “cheap” I do not mean inferior quality but rather they do not cost that much to produce. Anyone who has taken an operations management class in business school has learned that a product is marked up by an approximate average of 75% from the time it is manufactured to the time it is purchased by the end consumer. That means that if a bottle of designer perfume costs Carolina Herrera $25 to produce, then it is sold for $100 at your local department store.

Why the $75 markup on one small bottle of perfume? Manufacturers typically deal with distributors, who distribute their products to jobbers and wholesalers, who in turn resell the products to the end seller (i.e. malls & department stores).

Many times there are multiple wholesalers involved throughout the product’s life-cycle. Everyone involved in the supply chain has to make their share of the profits, this is accomplished by marking the product price up each time it exchanges hands.

The product is marked up the most when it reaches the end seller. This is because most end sellers are large brick and mortar buildings that have the burden of monthly rents to pay, utility bills and other business expenses such as insurance and taxes, among several others.

The beautiful showcases, air-conditioning, marble floors and free product samples that you see in stores aren’t free after all. All these costs are passed on to and paid for by you, the end consumer that walks into a mall and purchases a bottle of designer perfume for $100 that costs $25 to manufacture.

Unfortunately this fact is forgotten in our practical day-to-day lives in which our impulses take over our shopping habits. Some shoppers simply do not know how the high price is arrived at, nor that they are paying too much for the luxury item.

Once I was convinced there was money to be made in this niche, I knew I wanted to establish some sort of a business around it.  I don’t exactly remember today how I thought about the Sam’s Club concept, but maybe because our family had shopped there for years it had come to mind among the mix of various other business models.

If you are not familiar with the Sam’s Club concept, it goes like this:  you pay the club (merchant) an annual fee, and in return the merchant provides you with wholesale shopping experience.  Because the merchant’s profit margins are low on the items sold, and on some products they merely break even, they charge an annual membership fee to the club to make their profits.

What a concept I thought for the designer fragrance industry.  I mean why not? Every mall I went to had a kiosk of designer fragrances. Every flea market, outdoor seasonal market and downtowns have mom and pop shops that carry designer fragrances. I knew there was a need.

I spent some time talking to a few of these shops, mainly kiosks at malls and realized that their number one concern or difficulty in doing business is that they were often ignored by big perfume distributors.  And rightfully so, who would cater to a small $3,000 order when there are customers that buy in the hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I thought to myself, why not take my concept online and create a platform where all the moms and pops from across the country can order from? Because no one was doing this online, and I had heard of ways to streamline doing business online, I figured this valuable proposition would hit with both the supplier and the small business customer.

The internet was growing in leaps and bounds (it still is) and more transactions were being conducted online year after year, contributing toward the multi-billion dollar e-commerce industry we have today. As online transaction infrastructure grew, and as people became more comfortable doing business online (i.e. buying cars and planes like they are today), I was convinced that this was the way to go in the future.

At this point I knew I was on to something, but the biggest piece of the puzzle was missing, the actual product! I needed a supplier that was willing to drop ship the product.  My business concept was one based on volume (sales), and not product margin (profit per item sold).

Therefore drop shipping from the source was critical, unless I was willing to fork out a million bucks to buy the inventory beforehand. There was no way I was going to do that in an industry I was brand new to.

I searched online directories, bulletin boards, ThomasNet and other similar websites and must have contacted every grey marketer or distributor I could find in the USA, only to get rejected call after call.

There were a few players interested who I personally visited, but for one reason or another nothing panned out. I was on the verge of giving up and posting my idea in a public forum for someone to take and run away with it.

Then during a family event, I was reminded of a relative who had migrated to the USA years before I did and who had entered the designer fragrance industry.  I wasn’t in touch with them but like anyone in need, I made an effort to reach out.

I flew out to the West Coast to meet him, pitched my idea and left with a verbal agreement to work together.  It cost me 50% (strategic decision making remained with me) of my business, but at this point I was willing to do that.

I made another trip to walk through his gigantic warehouse, and learn a bit about product mix, pricing and supply chain.  He already had a discount shipping platform through UPS, which we decided to leverage for the online business by simply changing the name on the “Sent From” field to reflect our business’ name.

I flew back home, drafted a working agreement using Socrates, incorporated the business, established the employee identification number (EIN) or tax ID, established a separate bank account and sent my new partner copies of the agreement for execution and record keeping.

We signed the agreement a few days later, funded the bank account with some initial start-up capital (we needed this to meet the minimum business account balance requirements with Bank of America), and I started my search for a programmer who could create my vision.

I did not know anyone personally who could design a website for us, so I posted the task on Craigslist, Guru and Elance.  After exchanging countless emails back and forth with several applicants, and spending time talking to many over Skype, I decided to go with a programmer based on the West Coast.  My intention was for either me or my partner to meet with him face-to-face at some point, which never happened.

The development of the website took just about 30 days, with another 30 days for testing, tweaks, edits and content upload.  The content upload process was extremely time-consuming.  My partner and I had worked seven straight days on uploading over one thousand individual fragrances, each with its own image, set of title, keywords and description. It was brutal.

The first five days of development were spent designing and approving our brand or logo, and the remainder on the actual website and underlying product databases.  The website was built on OS Commerce, with open source shopping cart ZenCart in the back-end, which made it easier for us non-tech literate folks to manage simple functions of the website.  We also had Google Analytics scripts installed for visitor and conversion tracking.

I had registered the domain with Go Daddy for about $7 (I believe).  I also bought a shared hosting service package with them ($14 per month I believe), as well as a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate (under $100 annually) to ensure customer information was protected.

We used as our merchant processor, and later incorporated both Google Checkout and PayPal as additional payment options. Although these programs kill you with transaction fees, it is foolish to ignore them because of their popular and wide-spread usage. In addition, Google gave us Pay Per Click (PPC) credit for racking up Google Checkout transaction fees, so at least we were getting something back in return for the excessive fees we were forking out.

We tried to leverage our small operation as much as we could.  The entire website, including the logo creation cost us just under $3,000.

Subsequently, we also implemented an email newsletter series to build relationships and directly communicate and market to our recurring customer base so we could cut back on marketing and advertising.

Marketing was our highest tab, or largest business expense because we had no idea what search engine optimization (SEO) was (this was before all the scammers started sending out SEO service solicitation emails).

So even when the site was up, other than word of mouth traffic, visitors weren’t flocking in like I had fantasized in my dreams. Lesson number one learned. Online business is NOT like a brick and mortar shop. If you simply build, they will not come! You have to go out and get them.

So just like an inexperienced and overanxious novice, and thanks to Google for poisoning my mind, I pursued PPC advertising.  This is how we got the bulk of our customers, and lucky for us word started spreading on the street. Our traffic was up, visitor count was up, subscribership was up and the customer database was growing.

Because the business itself was keeping our hands tied up, I couldn’t learn about SEO as much as I wanted to.  The website was horrible from an SEO perspective.  It didn’t even contain the basic fundamentals of SEO such as the meta data.

We had to keep spending money on PPC advertising to drive traffic to the website. When we stopped spending, the traffic stopped coming. Key lesson number two. Focus on fundamental SEO to improve your chances of growth through free, organic search traffic.

Heck the site wasn’t even submitted to search engines. To make matters worse, our programmer had incorporated several “black hat SEO strategies unconsciously such as keyword stuffing the footer of the website with every single designer’s brand name.  I say “unconsciously” because he himself had no idea what SEO was.  And because I didn’t either, I wasn’t able to identify these black hat strategies on our website.

He also managed to do this near the header in fine print, and because the header had to be changed to a different color later on, the previous text that was there blended in and couldn’t be seen by the human eye.

Now that I know about SEO, I know that this was a BIG MISTAKE in retrospect.  Though shall not deceive Mother Google.  Little did I know back then though.

For all we knew, our website could have very well been indexed by Google at one point and later kicked out because of such bad behavior like search engine trickery and deception. We were very, very bad.

I had initially planned on making this a full case study from start to finish, but for everyone’s sanity (mainly mine), I need to stop here and continue on with the sequel in the coming week. So far I have discussed everything from the beginning up until the point of operation.  The fun was just beginning at this point.

In the sequel, I will discuss the real fun revelations (i.e. the problems encountered and more lessons learned). I will also discuss the exit strategy, which was the $250,000 sale to the second largest Power Seller on Ebay at the time.  Finally, I will spend some time discussing my thoughts on the overall experience.

Coming Soon

Sunil is a serial “side gig-preneur” who resorted to the Internet despite being in a comfortable and successful career paying a healthy six figure salary. His Extra Money Blog discusses how successful and hard working professionals can get more out of life, whether financial abundance, more freedom of choice, or the flexibility to live life on their own terms. You can reach him at:

El fantasma de la máquina (Y cómo está cambiando la forma en que hacemos negocios)

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Last week, I mentioned rewards can sometimes be detrimental to business, and this required another whole article to really get to the bottom of. I was specifically referring to tangible, material rewards and incentives, like money or “things”, that we get as a result of reaching a set goal. They can and do work very well for some people, but not everyone, and not always, and research has shown that they can actually be detrimental to your business.

We’re going to look more at this because the “why” of this topic encompasses our creativity, and creativity is also one of the key elements of the alternative paradigm that’s emerging in the business world as a result of recognizing there is a ghost in the machine (I’m using that phrase out of its traditional context, but I love it and fits perfectly with what I’m talking about, as you shall see).

For the next few paragraphs, we’re drawing from Daniel H. Pink’s research in his latest book, “Drive”. So, how can getting financial rewards or material incentives for working harder, smarter, faster and better possibly be detrimental to our business? Dan Pink says there are seven fatal flaws in this way of working. Material rewards and incentives can:

extinguish intrinsic motivationdiminish performancecrush creativitycrowd out good behaviorencourage cheatingbecome addictivefoster short term thinking

If these are some of the issues we face within our own business, this way of working is not going to be the most sustainable or effective way to run our business.

This article would blow out to several thousand words if I went deeply into the seven fatal flaws Dan Pink has outlined. For the sake of brevity, it really comes down to recognizing that we are not always motivated by “carrots and sticks”. (Which is Dan’s way of referring to rewards and punishments).

The issue is: people are not that easy to figure out even though we like to think so sometimes. We’re not so predictable that we’re only interested in getting some form of material gain or benefit. Most annoyingly for this reward/punishment business model, is that we are the ghost in the machine – humans, with our inexplicable quirks and kinks in our behavior.

Sometimes we will be motivated by external rewards and punishments, but increasingly in the world today, we’re veering off on tangents that totally contradict the assumption that we’re only in it for the money. The rise of open source projects is a perfect example of this. Studies have shown that people who give freely of their time and expertise to open source projects often do so because of the freedom, autonomy, and potential for greater creative expression in these projects, and because they’re fun!

Ha! There it is, popping up once again! That niggling “thing” about freedom, autonomy and creativity. It throws a big spanner in the works of solely relying on rewards and punishment to motivate people. The reason we are the ghosts in the machine is that our three greatest motivators are autonomy, mastery and purpose. These are motivational forces from within, and they don’t go away. That’s why they keep popping up, and that’s why we go off on tangents that are not motivated by material rewards.

Autonomy, by definition is not something that can be controlled from the outside by another person, so it’s beyond the scope of external reward or punishment.

External motivation can and does work very well until our physical needs are met so we can live comfortably, but beyond that, Pink says we “have an innate drive to be autonomous, self determined and connected to one and other. When this drive is liberated, people achieve more and lead richer lives.” Numerous studies have shown that when our innate psychological needs are met, we are motivated, productive and feel happy with the way our life is going.

So how is this connected to our creativity, and how does it relate to the successful running of our business?

Let’s start with creativity and look at the essential need to feel autonomous, self determining and connected to one another. We’ve already learned in previous articles that creativity only exists significantly when we feel autonomous and self-directing. What’s creativity got to do with helping us feel connected to one and other?

You guessed it, creativity plays a crucial role in this game.  Our creativity puts us in sync with others, it allows us to tap into common emotions and thoughts and share them. The way we connect with people who share common interests, whether it’s movies, music, technology, entrepreneurship, sport, fashion or business is an example of how various forms of creative expression accomplishes this.

Creative expression facilitates our connection with others. So if we have the opportunity to access and express our creativity in our work/business, it will actually assist us in satisfying our need to feel connected to others.  And remember, when these needs are met, we are motivated, productive and happy.

The relationship between being creative in our lives and feeling sustained motivation to produce excellent results in our work doesn’t end there. Sir Ken Robinson is a world authority on creativity. I can’t actually believe he hasn’t made it into one of my earlier posts. Pink & Brown have been hogging the lime light!

Sir Ken says the following about the creative process:

creativity has outcomes that have valuecreativity impacts the public worldcreativity is communicated through some medium to our sensescreativity is not a purely personal process, it often draws from the ideas and stimulation of other people

The first two statements reflect obvious benefits of creativity within a business environment.

The last two correspond with this need to interact with and relate to others. Creativity is a form of communication, and it has to involve others to have an impact in the public world. Once again we see how creativity assists us in fulfilling our innate psychological need for connection and relatedness. As previously mentioned, when these needs are met, they induce greater motivation, production and wellbeing.

What is this new paradigm that’s infiltrating the business world, and how can it be implemented in our business?

The new paradigm acknowledges that we are not purely motivated by external rewards and punishment. The new operating system for business observes that if we are paid enough to feel adequately valued for our contribution, and certain psychological needs are met, then we are driven to produce excellent results and we are capable of being self-motivated from within.

As far as implementing this in our own business is concerned, Dan Pink says you need to pay yourself and others enough to take the issue of money off the table. That’s the first step. Beyond that, we need to look at ways our work can meet these psychological needs of competence, autonomy and relatedness in order for us to be intrinsically motivated, productive and happy.

Competence and autonomy means allowing ourselves and our staff to master their craft, for example:

Making space for individuals to learn, improvise, develop and test their own ways of producing results.Working in a way that gives us some autonomy and allows us to express our creativity/unique style of doing things.

This gives us a sense of our own mastery, competence and purpose within the organization and our own lives. The outcome is an individual who is motivated from within to produce great results, and will continue to do so because it is fulfilling two of these innate psychological needs.

Relatedness comes into play when our work allows us to connect with others in a way that feels meaningful. That means you are able to share your work experiences with people who “get” it. You can share your accomplishments, failures, creations and insights with others, and both parties can relate to the subject matter.

I know not many employers love the idea of facebook in the workplace, most organizations I know don’t allow employees access to it at work. One of the massive factors of facebook and twitter success is, they fulfil one of our essential psychological needs, being connected and relating to others. That’s why we can spend so much time on them. If we were able to fulfil this need in our work, there wouldn’t be a need to spend as much time doing so elsewhere :)

In a previous article, I mentioned the company, Atlassian, had taken on 20% time. This is one way to focus on the intrinsic motivational approach (autonomy, mastery & purpose) over the extrinsic motivational approach, (external reward and punishment). In regard to staff performing better as a result, Mike Cannon-Brookes says, “people are way more efficient about 20% time than regular work time.” They have no problem with staff reading newsfeeds or facebook, because their needs of competence, autonomy and relatedness are already met through their work.

Remember that we use our creativity as a way to connect with and relate to others, so wherever you are most at ease and in your element is where you will connect most easily with others, who “get” it. For some this may be through sport & physical activity, others it may be through business, finance, fashion, food, the list is endless. Ideally our creativity can be reflected in our work, or at least be given some space within our work place so that we can use it as a vehicle for connecting and communicating with others.

Yikes, this post has gone waaaaay over the length limit I find comfortable, and still hasn’t included many of the aspects I’d like to add. I’m going to have to stop here.

In finishing, there is a new paradigm emerging as a powerful operating system in business. The new operating system observes that:

If we are paid enough to feel adequately valued for our contributionAnd our work meets some of our key psychological needs outlined previously

Then the results are:

We are driven to consistently produce excellent resultsWe are capable of being self-motivated from withinCreativity and innovation in the workplace flourishesStaff experience greater job satisfaction and businesses have less staff turnover

Even though it’s very early days in the application of this operating system, the businesses who have incorporated it would never consider going back to the external reward style of management. So, if you have some ghosts in your machine, perhaps it’s time to trial some aspects of this new paradigm and see if the ghosts start to behave better :)

I’d love to hear any comments you have supporting, challenging or even contemplating the ideas in this post. Thanks for reading, and here’s to your creative success.

Neroli Makim

P.S. For anyone interested in coming to a presentation on the hows, whys and wonders of creativity, last chance to book in for the Women’s Publishing Network on the 18th of February. Come along for some amazing information and heaps of fun!

Neroli Makim is an internationally acclaimed artist, author and speaker on Creativity and its relationship to personal fulfillment and professional success. She educates people about Creativity, what it is, why it’s important and how to access it within themselves. For more information, visit