Review In this strategy-packed guide, top e-business consultant Scott Fox reveals the powerful but simple methods for strik?ing it rich on the Net. Exclusive interviews with dozens of ?mom and pop? entrepreneurs prove how easy it is to get started and build a million-dollar enterprise. Readers get:
An inspiring guide to e-business opportunities, including ?instant e-businesses? that require no start-up capital or technical training * proven strategies for making money from home and turning hobbies into businesses * low cost web marketing and product tips * legal and financial advice * detailed vendor recommendations * years of expertise and experience in one easy-to-use book Internet Riches also offers an innovative action plan for brain?storming new business ideas, and fun exercises to help readers determine the best moves for their particular situa?tions. Filled with practical pointers and motivational inter?views, it?s the most powerful guide ever to finding financial freedom online!
Q&A with Scott Fox, author of Internet Riches
A 2007 survey showed that nearly half of American workers aren?t satisfied with their jobs. What do you feel is holding people back from going into business for themselves?
People give their hesitation lots of names but it basically boils down to fear. I wrote Internet Riches precisely to help people overcome these fears. Starting an e-business today is much easier, much cheaper, and requires much less technology expertise than most people realize.
Unfortunately fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear that the learning curve is too steep, fear that there will not be a payoff for their work, fear that they cannot afford to do it, fear that they won?t be able to live up to their own expectations or the needs of the business combine to keep many people from even trying. It?s sad but true that in an effort to be ?rational?, these fears often combine to create a self-image where a person can?t imagine themselves building a successful e-business.
The problem is that this fear is based on an outdated 20th century understanding of the risks required to start your own business. As thousands of my readers have found, if you update your assumptions to reflect the realities of how easy it is to start your own business in the Internet Age, the conclusions change dramatically and in your favor.
The facts are plain: online markets are continuing to grow explosively, the costs of the equipment and infrastructure have dropped dramatically, the flexibility of working from home on a part-time basis means that people don?t have to quit their full-time jobs to pursue online success, and the great upside available to people who own their own small businesses have all combined to completely change the risk/reward equation.
Based on your research and experience, what areas have the most potential for growth in the coming years?
I?d put these opportunities in 3 buckets: The first bucket is filled with the obvious growth opportunities such as international markets and the mobile web (By this I mean the evolution of e-commerce into mobile commerce on your handheld device). Continuing explosive growth in these markets offers major profit opportunities.
The second bucket is the mining of niche markets. Because the Internet lets people communicate more easily than was possible in the 20th century, we are seeing the rapid emergence of millions of micro communities based on niche interests. This means that almost any hobby or issue can be used as the basis for a community of like-minded individuals. And anywhere there is a community, there is a market for goods and services which solve the problems faced by that community. The Internet allows entrepreneurs greater ability to service these niche markets cost-effectively than ever was possible before the Internet.
The third area of opportunity is the hardest to quantify but the most explosive: This is where entrepreneurs find new and unexpected ways to exploit the efficiencies of the Web to create new products, services, and markets. When one of these ideas finds particular success, it can spread like wildfire across the web and create very profitable new businesses very quickly. The big success stories like Facebook are very well covered by the media but there are thousands of smaller, millionaire-making e-businesses emerging all the time.
The benefits of starting a niche company are many; work from home, mesh passions with profits, be your own boss, etc. However, what potential pitfalls do niche market businesses need to look out for?
Getting ahead of yourself is probably the most common trap that I see for entrepreneurs. Especially because so many ?get rich quick? gurus promise unrealistic returns, entrepreneurs can get hurt by diving too deeply, too quickly into their new passion. So, although one of the best parts of starting a business is turning your own enthusiasm into a revenue generator, this enthusiasm can also blind you to possible flaws in your approach.
Three ways to reduce these risks are:
1. Do your research. This means thoroughly investigating the competition (both online and off), pricing the goods and services needed for operations, and setting a realistic budget up-front for both your money and your time.
2. Take advantage of the new e-business paradigm by keeping your costs down, especially at first. Try a few versions of your business model to learn what works the best. Wait until you have found the most profitable approaches before signing any long term contracts or investing heavily in a new venture. In other words, don?t quit your day job until you have evidence that your new web site can lead to the pay-off you?re targeting.
3. Manage your time, relationships, and expectations with extra care during the start-up period. It can be hard on your family and relationships if you are suddenly working two jobs at once. Just as with your financial budget, you should develop a time line for your projects. Discuss this plan, and its associated trade-offs, with your family to get them on board, too.
These steps can help you keep your enthusiasm from overwhelming your good business sense. They can also help preserve your capital until it can be used most effectively.
You state that venture capital is no longer needed for today?s internet start-up. Is this a product of cheaper technology, gun-shy investors, or both?
Venture capital can still be appropriate for capital-intensive ventures or to accelerate an already growing business. But for the niche entrepreneurs reading Internet Riches, it?s rarely needed because all the competition among technology service providers has so significantly lowered the costs and risks of starting an online business.
This trend is driven by competition in the technology sector, not just on the prices of hardware but also on the costs and ease of use of software, plus the economies of scale enabled by the Internet?s penetration into daily life and business operations worldwide.
For example, technologies that 10 years ago required tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and an IT engineering team on staff are now available to small businesses in easier to use web-based versions for a small monthly fee. Server maintenance, software upgrades, and tech support are included. This used to be called Application Service Providers (ASPs) but the latest buzzword is SaaS (Software as a Service). Companies can also source goods with increasing efficiency, pricing transparency helps lower prices, and there are more people online shopping than ever before. These trends combine to lower costs, speed up time to market and increase the profit potential of any new e-business venture.
Cheaper, more efficient and easier-to-use technology has also greatly reduced the costs of infrastructure for setting up a new e-business. Now entrepreneurs can work from home, in their spare time, and not have to invest in office space, parking, furniture, insurance, signage, etc. etc. Most of those ?real world? costs that were required to start a business in the 20th century have been eliminated for today?s Internet entrepreneurs.
Technology advancements have also revolutionized advertising. Services like Google?s Adsense/Adwords and Yahoo?s Search Marketing Solutions allow any business to advertise cost-effectively to consumers worldwide from a desktop PC. At the same time, those services can make money for entrepreneurs because they will place paid advertising on even the smallest, newest of web sites for no up-front cost. This gives any niche entrepreneur access to a potential advertising revenue stream previously only available to companies that owned newspapers, TV stations or radio programs.
If a business is less expensive to run, its products are cheaper to deliver and faster to market, and its advertising budget is more cost-effective, then it will also need less capital to get started. The combination of all these increased efficiencies and lower costs means a LOT less risk for entrepreneurs, and therefore less need for venture capital to sustain the business until revenues get started. Entrepreneurs can instead focus on growing their businesses instead of on technology support or on raising money that they may not need. Sorry, venture capitalists!
How important is search engine optimization (SEO) to a budding business?
SEO is a key strategy for marketing success, both for online and ?real world? businesses.
In my seminars, I often say ?Search engines are the Yellow Pages of the 21st century.? You wouldn?t traditionally have started a business without listing your phone number in the phone book would you?
Online is increasingly where the consumers are, so your business needs to be there as highly ranked as possible to attract as much traffic as possible. Today you can pay for prominent listings, just like in the days of the Yellow Pages? dominance. But you can also get good search engine display ?organically? for free. This means carefully crafting your web pages? appearance, copy, and keywords to attract a high ranking from Google and Yahoo.
Often overlooked is the increasing importance of search engines for ?real world? businesses, too. If you have a real world business based on local marketing (like a chiropractor or dry cleaner) you may not need a constantly updated e-commerce web site. But you should put up a basic ?brochure? web site that is optimized for search engines. As everyone spends more time connected to the Web, you?ll want to be easily discoverable by your local customers online, too.
Internet Riches has three chapters about online marketing tactics for small business. These ?No Budget Online Marketing Secrets,? ?Small Budget Online Marketing Secrets,? and ?Real Budget Online Marketing Secrets? chapters discuss ?pull? marketing tactics like free organic search engine optimization, as well as ?push? marketing techniques like keyword advertising and email newsletter publishing that can help any small business grow its online profitability.