Bootstrap Your Career With Blogging: 7 Tips

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 5:30pm by Site Administrator

Entrepreneuring might not commonly be referred to as a “career”, but it is as far as I’m concerned. Over time, I’ve met some very interesting bootstrappers. Some of them raised the capital for their businesses – including restaurant chains – through the oddest means – including selling drugs or even writing romance novels. Now that’s not to say you should do either, heaven forbid, but maybe you can find some creative way to generate funds for your entrepreneurial career.

While I’ve publicly admitted that my own websites/ blogs don’t earn a lot of money yet, I believe they could. (Most of my income is from freelancing.) I feel that with the right niche, you could bootstrap your entrepreneuring with bloging, if it’s your sort of thing. I don’t mean publishing a blog for your business. I mean blogging as a means to raise capital for the business you’ve been dreaming of.

Challenge
I’m making it sound easy, and it’s not. To make it work, there are a lot of things you have to do right, in synchrony. I’m also assuming that you have the ability to communicate clearly most of the time. Far too many bloggers do not communicate well, then wonder why no one reads their blog. Communication skills are important in business, as well as for blogging.

  1. Pick a good niche. Find a monetizable niche known to have high ad CTR (Clickthrough Rate). This is the lynchpin factor. Without the right niche, you’re better off working over time or raising money some other way.

  2. Be visible. Write anywhere from 5-20 posts per day, with word count/post decreasing as quantity increases. The more you write, the more search engine traffic you’ll bring in, provided your writing is entertaining/ engaging/ informative (depending on niche).
  3. Develop your own voice. To keep readers coming back, develop your own voice in a niche.
  4. Experiment. Try different post styles (see below) until you find something that works for your niche.
  5. Persist. Trying for a month or two and giving up isn’t going to take you anywhere. It might take a few months for your site to draw regular readers and/or search engine traffic.
  6. Be informed. To pull off an authority blog, you need to know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know, learn. This of course requires a chunk of time for research.
  7. Promote. Use social media sites to promote your site and your best posts. This takes time and effort, something non-entrepreneurs tend not to want to spend.

Those of you balking at this advice, please leave the room now. It comes from someone who has concrete proof – in impressive monthly income – that this publishing frequency works – especially 10+ posts – for specific niches.

Approach
In addition to the points above, you have to take the right approach to the actual writing and research. Obviously, the more time you can devote, the more likely you’ll make this work.

  1. Start by writing small summary posts and apply the principle of kaizen to improve your writing. (Read this first if you’re starting in a niche that you know little about but want to learn.)

  2. Expand your knowledge so that you can summarize it succinctly in your posts. It’s actually harder to express the same information in fewer words, and takes knowledge of your subject.
  3. Add illustrations/ images/ videos, if suitable for the niche. Start with Flickr and YouTube, then expand your “sources”. Pay for quality pics if you have to, when you can afford it.
  4. Don’t dawdle. If you have an idea for a post, write up a summary. If after brewing it in your head for an hour, you have nothing else to say, post what you have then write an expanded post later. (Just make sure the summary is coherent.)
  5. Space out publishing. Some niches require that you post all day long. Wake up early, if you have to, and beat each busy period: morning, noon, evening by publish before those times, not during. (Of course, your time zone matters, depending on who your readers are.) What you don’t want to do is write 20 posts and publish them all in the same 30 minutes. Try to publish 1-5 posts per period, but with at least 10-15 minutes between any two. This is a necessity for staying visible in blog directories and search engines.

Post Style
Your post style is another important factor and depends on the niche you’ve picked. If you’re not sure, experiment. I’m doing that in a particular niche, where I have several partners and hired bloggers. These are small experiments, but should prove valuable. Here are the parameters:

  1. Voice: neutral or opinionated.
  2. Links, internal: with or without.
  3. Links, external: with or without.
  4. Images: with/ without.
  5. Word count: micro (25+), short (50-100), medium (200+), long (400+), or tome (600+).
  6. # Posts/day: 1 to many.
  7. Video: with or without.

The number of posts per day that you “should” do depends highly on the niche. However, generally speaking, the more content you have, the more often search engine spiders visit your site, thus improving the chances of lots of traffic. That’s a very nutshell explanation, but some niches absolutely require 10-20 short posts per day for a blog to be a success financially.

Of course, the more posts you do per day, the shorter the posts should be, if you are expecting to gain blog feed subscribers. It’s also less tasking to write 10-20 posts per day if they’re shorter.

Summary
The entire point of this exercise is not to blog about your business – which in this case hasn’t been launched yet. The point is to explore a possible means of generating startup capital to launch your startup. You can use a pseudonym if for some reason you don’t want to use your real name.

My colleague who earns five figures per month swears by most of the above information. As for niches, well, i’m not going to give away all my secrets just yet. However, if you’re clever and do a bit of hunting, you’ll figure out which niches I’m hedging my bets in, along with partners.

I have my regular freelance work that pays my bills. I’m hoping that my experimental blogging/ publishing will also help me start up my photography once again – possibly enough to pay for equipment and a live/work studio – pay for my entrance into film school, and then generate capital for when I do make movies. The double benefit is that I’ll already have a few of my own vehicles for advertising my films.

How to: ‘Fire’ Your Bad Clients, Make More Money and Restore Your Sanity

Monday, November 5, 2007 at 2:37pm by Site Administrator

Clients are the bread and butter of any business. Without them, your business simply wouldn’t exist. So it can be hard for many business owners to think about sending clients away, especially those just starting out. But it’s inevitable that you’ll have a client that taxes both your resources and your personal sanity to the point where it becomes necessary to let them go. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy to send business away. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to cut a client loose. It’s not always easy, but it will leave you with more time to concentrate on clients that are easier to deal with and more profitable.

Types of Bad Clients

Bad clients come in many flavors, but these are some of the most common offenders. If you’ve got one of these on your client list, consider showing them the door.

  • The Complainer: Don’t expect to ever do anything right for this type of client. Even if you deliver under budget and sooner than expected, they will still be disappointed for a reason they just can’t seem to communicate to you.
  • The Something for Nothing: These types of clients ignore the old adage and try to get as much out of you as they can for as little as possible. Often, they’ll get your initial estimate and expect the cost not to increase when they increase the size or duration of the project or keep adding on "little" things.
  • The Time Waster: Expect your time to mean little to these kinds of clients. They’ll be hard to get in meetings and when you finally get ahold of them, they won’t listen to what you’re saying. They’ll run you around with changes, pointless meetings, and time wasted waiting, and then complain how much they’re paying you.
  • The Aggressor: This type of client is the hardest to work with and the scariest to get rid of. They are often verbally abusive and threaten to sue for the slightest reason. Be especially careful when unloading these as they have particularly short fuses.
  • The Know-It-All: The know-it-all is sure that he or she knows how to do your job just as well as you do because they have a basic familiarity with the programs you use or read a book on the subject. What they don’t realize is that your experience and expert knowledge are really what they’re paying for. Nonetheless, they’ll question your every move and drive you crazy.
  • The Boundary Crosser: This type of client will ask you for your home phone numbers "for emergencies" and then call you on weekends and after hours just to check in. This kind of client taxes your personal life heavily.

How to Fire Them

Whether you have a client that fits one of these profiles or an entirely different breed altogether, when the time comes to part ways, do you know how you’ll go about doing it? Here are some tips on making the process as painless as possible.

  • Do it in writing. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and raised emotions. It will also give you a written record of your interactions with the client if you should need it to back you up later.
  • Make sure you get paid prior to terminating your relationship. You’re asking for trouble by firing a client who still hasn’t paid you, even though sometimes this may be the reason that you are firing them. As illegal and unprofessional as it may be, a jilted client may withhold payment for your services as retribution for letting them go.
  • Fulfill any remaining contractual obligations to your clients if it is at all possible or you may find yourself subject to the consequences of breaking that contract. If this is the case, you might want to bring in a lawyer to tell you your best options. Remember, you want to do the work you’ve promised to do, as your reputation is still at stake.
  • When letting clients go, be honest but not hostile or offensive. If you can’t think of any way to put your reasons for parting ways nicely, then tell them your business is changing directions or that you just don’t think you can complete their project in the manner or timeframe they hoped.
  • Don’t just leave your clients high and dry after you’ve let them go. They may not have treated you with respect, but that doesn’t mean you should return the favor. Recommend another business, preferably a competitor, to take the project instead.
  • If nothing else seems to work, jack up your prices. Either they’ll part ways with you themselves or the pain of working for them will be lessened by your increased paycheck.

While it might be difficult both mentally and financially to fire a client, in the long run you’ll be doing your business and yourself a favor. You shouldn’t let go of every client that is difficult, but if you’re hitting the brink with a client, it’s time to make a change. In reality, many clients that take up hours of your time are costing you more than they’re bringing in. By cutting these clients loose, you’ll have more time and energy to concentrate on bringing in new, more profitable business, and that’s really what business is all about.

Freepreneuring: 5 Ways to Monetize Free Content

Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 10:00am by Site Administrator

With a shift towards free content online, no doubt many entrepreneurs are wondering how they can bootstrap their business if they are not going to draw any sales revenue. It’s a scary thought.

I don’t profess to have a solid answer, but I do have some ideas. Here are a few ways that you can still monetize your startup, even while offering free content or services.

  1. Advertising. TV and radio were always based on free content supported by advertising. At least until Cable/ pay per view and satellite radio came along. If you are offering only free content, consider monetizing your website with relevant ads – preferably those sold direct, on a CPM (Cost per Mille, e.g., 1000) basis of pageviews.
  2. Freemium. The freemium pricing model seem to be popular with web applications providers. General access is free, but the features that make the application efficient for the target end users cost a few dollars per month. One non-web app that has scored millions of users worldwide with this model is Skype, the desktop VoIP software.
  3. Subscriptions/ pay per view. Build a subscription site where premium content is only accessible by members. This does require that you have initial free content to draw potential subscribers, and for you to build your authority online, in your niche. If you’re successful, the numbers are worthwhile. For example, several marketing sites charge $197-299/year, and offer very high quality content that is essential to some professionals. While building up your membership list, you might supplement with advertising.
  4. Freedom to pay. This is what Radiohead did: pay what you like. Stupid or brilliant? You decide. I was unable to find the “buy” link on their official site and ended up downloading someone else’s low quality copy. Very low quality. But I’m a Radiohead fan and would have paid anyway. And of course, if I’m in a city where they’re going to plan, I’m even more likely to go see these guys. This monetization model is very similar to “shareware” for software.
  5. Buyout. if you have enough capital to build your brand/ presence online, and gain substantial eyeballs in the form of free content subscribers, selling to the highest bidder is a great option. For bootstrappers, this has to be preceded by one of the other forms above, else you’re not likely to have enough capital on hand to reach this stage.

With the exception of maybe freemium and freedom to pay, none of these are all that new. Which monetization model you choose (or a combo) depends on what it is you’re giving away – knowledge or services. Products, on the other hand, are hard to monetize with any of these models.

Business and Entrepreneurship Roundup – Sat Oct 27, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 11:30pm by Site Administrator

While my feed reader is stuffed full of business, entrepreneurship, marketing and related sites, there are a bunch that I turn to daily. I’ve picked out some of my favorite posts of the past week on a selection of blogs.

  1. Ben Yoskovitz at Instigator Blog has a humorous and helpful guide to startup funding. Your choices: bootstrapping, “love money”, angel financing, Series A financing.

  2. College Startup has a bit of a different take. If you’re still in college and looking for capital for your startup, you could take on some jobs, sell stuff or borrow (see “love money”, above).
  3. However, before you consider starting a business, take the entrepreneurship quiz that Shannon Cherry has at Startup Spark.
  4. If you decide to go the bootstrap entrepreneurship route, be aware of the five stages, as Shawn Hessinger of BootstrapMe points out.
  5. If you seek your fortune on the Internet, Adnan at Blogtrepreneur suggests that you plan before you jump into any online business.
  6. Chris Garrett, on the other hand, has a multi-part series about making real money online.
  7. Maki at Dosh Dosh recommends strategic blogging to produce content that will help you generate income online.


The 100 Best Business Finance Posts of All Time

Thursday, October 18, 2007 at 2:21pm by Site Administrator

In business, nearly everything revolves around finance, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular topics in business blogging. From financing to setting the value of your work, it’s essential to get good advice. These posts offer some of the best information that’s out there.

Funding & Earning

The acquisition of money is the lifeblood of any business. Read these posts to find out how you can get money through funding and focusing on earning in your business.

  1. How A Beggar in Grenada Uses Data to Optimize Donations: Check out this post to find out what your business can learn from a beggar.
  2. Open innovation and crowdsourcing: Learn how to finance your project by tapping into large crowds.
  3. Starting A New Business Over 60: Learn how to secure financing if you’re an entrepreneur of a certain age.
  4. The Art of Bootstrapping: Read this post for tips on developing your business without investors.
  5. Can You Make $3,000 in ONE Day?: Think outside the box to earn more money per day.
  6. Need Money? Looking For Another Business Loan? Perhaps There Is Another Option: Consider solving problems before automatically reaching for more money.
  7. Government Grant Money For Small Business: Learn the basics of getting government money in this post.
  8. Truth About Grants: There’s no free lunch–get the lowdown on the reality of grants.
  9. Why Women Entrepreneurs Don’t Get the Financing They Need: Find out why women are "playing small" when it comes to business finance, and what can be done about it.
  10. 10 Ways To Fund Your Business: From credit cards to friends and family, check out these alternative ways to get money for your business.
  11. The Fiction of 20%: Find out why it’s really not that important for venture capitalists to own 20% of your company.
  12. My Corporate Valuation Workbook: Get the Cliff’s Notes to financial analysis in this post.
  13. The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists: Do you need funding, but keep getting blown off by VCs? Get to the bottom of what they’re telling you.
  14. How Entrepreneurs Can Find the Financing Help They Need: Take these steps to locate financing for your business in a responsible way.
  15. What are Venture Capitalists looking for?: Find out if you’ve got what VCs want to invest in.
  16. Focus on Your IPAs: Income Producing Activities: Small Biz Survival reminds readers to focus on activities that produce money.

Planning

Financial forecasting and planning is essential to ongoing success. Learn more about research and modeling in these posts.

  1. Financial Models for Underachievers: Two Years of the Real Numbers of a Startup: Redfin‘s Glenn Kelman lays down the numbers of a startup.
  2. Please Stop With Your Chinese Math: Don’t let market size deceive you–Chinese math is no good.
  3. Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research: Get budget-efficient communications with your clientele using these ideas.
  4. The ABCs of Cash Flow Forecasting: Get the basics of cash flow forecasting in this post.
  5. How to use Inkling Prediction Markets for your business: Harness the knowledge of crowds to predict sales for your business.

Spending

Once you’re earning money, it’s important to use it wisely. Read these posts to consider how to effectively spend money in your business.

  1. 25 Gadgets That Actually Save Money: Laptops, power strips, coin sorters and other gadgets can actually pay for themselves in savings. Make an investment with these money-saving gadgets.
  2. Bootstrapping Tip: To rent or not to rent?: Find out if renting office space is right for your business or not.
  3. Even a Small Leak Can Empty Your Money Bucket Quickly: Avoid draining your hard-won earnings by stemming leaks in your business’ spending.
  4. Lease A Car, Don’t Buy It!: If you’ve got fleet vehicles, or just a few executive cars, take these points into consideration when deciding whether you should lease them or make a commitment to buying.
  5. Piggybacking on Your Neighbor’s WiFi: If you’re in a highly populated business area, chances are you have a pretty good chance of tapping into some free WiFi. This post considers the ethical and security implications of doing so.
  6. Discounts Abound for Small-Business Owners: Get these deals that are designed specifically for small business owners.
  7. A Few Ways To Save Money With a Small Business Opportunity: Get started cheaply using these tips.

Customers

Customers are essential to your business, so it’s important that you handle transactions with them properly. Learn how to value your customers and get them to pay their bills in this collection of posts.

  1. Ignore a Customer’s Lifetime Value at Your Own Risk: Don’t forget how much money a single customer means to you, or you could lose more than just their business.
  2. 14 Web-Based Invoicing Tools To Make Sure You Get Paid: These invoicing tools make getting money from your clients a breeze.
  3. What Happens if Your Clients Don’t Pay?: Learn how to handle non-paying clients in this post.
  4. Collecting Receivables: Jeff Cornwall encourages readers to wake up and smell the roses–and get customers to pay you what they owe.

Money Management

When you’re operating a business, money management gets more complicated. Read these posts for advice about financial managers and to get good ideas for handling money on your own.

  1. Make Sure Your Financial Advisor is Not a Loser: Free Money Finance marvels at the fact that a money "loser" is employed as a financial advisor. Read this post to find out the importance of avoiding hiring hacks like this guy.
  2. The Financial Messiness of the Entrepreneurial Life: Navigate the ups and downs of the financial life of an entrepreneur with these thoughts from Inspired Business Growth.
  3. Building Banking Relationships That Last: Make friends with your bankers, and they can help you in a crunch.
  4. For the love of $$$: Find out how the love of money can present obstacles to launching your venture successfully.
  5. Five Effective Ways to Re-Invest Your Profits: When you make money, what should you do with it? College-Startup answers this important question.
  6. Planners and Fees: Get smart about the financial planner that you hire for your business. Use these four points as a start to your consideration.
  7. Five Tips For Managing Your Finances on the Go: Many entrepreneurs are on the go and don’t have a lot of time to sit down and work on money issues. Use these tips and tools to take care of business without having to stop by the office.

Fairness

Businesses are consumers, too, and you need to know how to fight back when you’ve been wronged by another business. Find out how to deal with common problems in these posts.

  1. How to Complain: Get the basics on this essential first step of the righting process.
  2. Can You Do Simple Math? Good, Then You’ll Soon Realize Why You Need to Resolve My Complaint: Learn how to reason with companies by spelling out what your complaint means to their bottom line.
  3. How To Take a Case To Small Claims Court: If you need to escalate to legal action, this is the place to start.
  4. Negotiate This!: Follow these tips to become a smart negotiator.

Business Development & Transitions

Whether you’re still brainstorming about ideas or or about to sell off your business, money is a big factor to consider. Take a look at these posts to understand more about its impact in development and transitions in business.

  1. Q&A: Selling Out to a Partner: So you’ve decided to go your separate ways–now how do you deal with the money? Learn how in this post from Bplans.
  2. Should You Quit School Because You’re Brilliant?: Business is booming, even though you’re still hitting the books. Is it time to throw in the towel on school?
  3. Show Me The Money: In business, everything has a price: Learn why you shouldn’t automatically turn down offers to buy your business.
  4. Income vs. Cash Flow: Why Growth Can Kill Your Business: Don’t let rapid growth kill your startup: take this advice from Business Pundit.
  5. How to Buy a Business in 10 [not so] Easy Steps: Take these steps when you’re shopping around for a new business venture.
  6. Making Money With the Boom Bust Blitz: Manage your assets and liabilities to your best advantage, and you’ll be successful no matter what stage of business cycle you’re in.
  7. Is starting a business impossible when you are the sole income earner in your family?: Pamela Slim takes on financial responsibility for entrepreneurs.
  8. Sell Your Business in Twelve Steps: Take these 12 steps when you’re ready to let go and cash in on your hard work.
  9. Q&A: The Balance Sheet When Buying a Business: Take these financial tips into consideration when you’re acquiring a new business.

Employees & Outsourcing

Your employees are perhaps your most valuable asset. These posts consider salaries, outsourcing, and watching out for losses.

  1. Does pay for performance pay?: Get more bang for your payroll buck by considering this question.
  2. 10 Ways of Overcoming Outsourcing Objections: Find out why outsourcing can work for your business.
  3. Is your business vulnerable to fraud?: Don’t let money slip through your hands by opening yourself up to fraud.
  4. Decide Your Success With Bookkeeping Outsourcing: Get someone else to keep a watchful eye on your accounting to save money and time.
  5. Give Your Employees More Rope, Not Money To Buy It: Learn why throwing more money at employees isn’t always the best idea.
  6. To Outsource or Not to Outsource: Consider whether or not outsourcing is right for your business by reading this post.
  7. Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers: Outsourcing web design can be a smart money move, but not if you get burned.
  8. Whistlelower incentives?: Consider whether or not you should financially reward employees that report trouble.

Value

Whether you’re setting your prices or considering how much your time is worth, business is all about value. Learn how to set yours and find strategies to improve it in these posts.

  1. Whether or not to publish your prices: Find out whether or not you should make your pricing publicly available.
  2. Four tasks to increase values or prices in business transactions: Maximize your financial returns using these four strategies.
  3. Selling Yourself On The Value Of Your Time: It can be easy to forget to charge for your time, but it’s essential that you do so. Read this post to find out why and how.
  4. How Much Money Is Integrity Worth?: Increase your value by improving your integrity and reducing the risk of working with you.
  5. 6 Simple Steps for Sales Success: Follow these tips for sales and you’ll earn more from your clients.
  6. How Much Should You Charge For Your Web App?: The Instigator Blog answers this essential question.
  7. Will Work for MONEY: Are you tired of getting offers that ask you to trade your service for "experience?" Mind Petals is, too–read all about it here.
  8. Such a Thing As Too High of An Hourly Rate?: Learn why it’s all relative when it comes to rates.
  9. Be Proud of Your Prices: Learn how to stay strong in the face of clients who don’t want to pay what you require.
  10. Are You Short Changing Your Business?: Get down to the emotional root of why you don’t want to raise your rates in this post.
  11. Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little: This humorous post takes a look at pricing situations you should avoid.
  12. New Price Structure for 2007?: Base your prices on what value you offer, not what everyone else is charging.
  13. Business Ethics: Why Doing the Right Thing Pays Dividends: Learn why trust builds value in business.
  14. Dollars & Sense: Setting the Perfect Rates: Determine the perfect rate for your business using the guidelines from this post.
  15. Flip this product: Adding Value to an Existing Product by Dressing It Up: Sell profitable products using this strategy.
  16. Nine Factors to Consider When Determining Your Price: You’ll need to think about things like market demand and your audience when setting the value of your product or service.
  17. 20 Ways to Add Value to Your Products and Services: Increase your prices and customer satisfaction with these 20 ideas.
  18. Avoiding the horror of the sliding scale: This post asserts that you shouldn’t do sliding scale payments unless you’re in the business of helping people with money.
  19. Should the "Free" In Freelance Refer To the Price?: Watch out for "opportunities to build your portfolio." Success From The Nest says they’re bad news.

Ideas

Although you can’t make money on an idea alone, they’re still vital to sparking a successful business venture. Take a look at these money-making ideas to consider how yours stacks up.

  1. Bottled Water Experiment: Neville proves that his idea to make money with no money actually works.
  2. Top 20 Dumbest Business Ideas That Made Millions…Or Not!: 10 of these dumb ideas made money, 10 of them didn’t. Consider whether or not your idea is on the million dollar side of the fence.
  3. It’s The Economics, Stupid–Why A New Idea Isn’t The Key To Entrepreneurship: Find out why money is more important than ideas in entrepreneurship.
  4. Top Ten Franchise Opportunities for $20,000: Take on these low cost franchise opportunities for easy entrepreneurship.
  5. Why Didn’t I Think of That Billionaires: Check out these billion dollar ideas that came from creating something their originators could be passionate about.
  6. Selling Notes: Neville experiments with selling class notes.

Advertising

Advertising is often expensive, but there are ways to make your dollars stretch in this category. Check out these posts for strategies that will help you get more out of your advertising purchases.

  1. The Secrets to Free Advertising: Find out how you can create free advertising in this article.
  2. Getting Started with Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing: Get the basics on launching a successful PPC campaign in this post.
  3. 6 Tips to Recovering From a Typo in Your Printed Sales Letter or Brochure: Oops! You just made a costly mistake. Here’s how to fix it without going broke.
  4. Spending Those Hard Earned Dollars On Advertising: Get the most bang for your advertising buck by considering the ideas in this post.
  5. 5 Steps To Turn More Leads Into Cash: Get more concrete responses from your ads using these strategies.

Taxes

Taxes are a headache for anyone, but they’re even worse for business owners. Learn about important tax issues in these posts.

  1. The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses: Get the lowdown on writing off expenses like travel and vehicle usage.
  2. Tax Write Offs When Self Employed: Use these resources to get tax tips you can actually use.
  3. Planning a Business Trip: Make your business trip a tax deduction rather than a liability.

Other

These posts cover even more great topics in business finance.

  1. 7 Practical Ways to Earn More By Working Less: Get more money out of your work time with these 7 tips.
  2. 30 Essential Pieces of Free (and Open) Software for Windows: Find free software that can help you run your business in this post.
  3. Online Rival to Quickbooks: Check out this finance software alternative to save money.
  4. Here is a picture of my 10 million dollar yacht: Don’t fall for these money wasting schemes that prey on wannabe entrepreneurs.
  5. Five Credit Card Fees You Can Avoid: Save money by giving these credit card fees the slip.
  6. Managing Time For Maximum Profit: Work smarter, not harder, and you’ll maximize profit.
  7. Does a CEO Have Any Business Posting on the Yahoo! Message Boards?: Consider the implications of publicly discussing your business finances by reading this post.

100 Tools and Resources to Value, Negotiate, and Sell Your eProperties

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 2:26pm by Site Administrator

Domaining is a hot market right now, but it’s been rightfully called a new wild west. It’s a daunting task to sell domain properties without selling yourself short, getting exposed to fraud, or other atrocities. Check out these tools designed to make selling domains easier, safer, and more profitable.

DIY Valuation

Determining what price you should set or settle for is essential. Your gut feeling may have you reaching for the stars, but your price needs to be grounded in reality. Use these tools to figure out the best price for your domain.

  1. MarketLeap: Use MarketLeap’s Link Popularity Checker to find out how many sites link to your domain.
  2. Self Domain Appraisal: Check out this thread to learn how to appraise the value of your site on your own.
  3. Google Adwords Traffic Estimator: Find out how many people are looking for your site’s top keywords with this tool.
  4. Appraisal Measurement Criteria: Check out the way Zetetic values domains.
  5. Valuation of Developed Websites: Consider the cost to create a new comparative website, traffic, revenue, and other factors when valuing your developed domain.
  6. Website Value 101-How to Appraise a Website: Get the basics on website valuation in this article.
  7. Search Engine Optimization Analysis Tool: Use this tool to test your domain’s receptiveness to search engine spiders.
  8. URL Trends: Find out where your domain ranks on PR, Alexa, and links. You can also take advantage of their URL comparison tool.
  9. Pay Per Click Calc: Use this calculator to figure out revenue from clicks and traffic figures on your site.
  10. Web Site Valuation Calculator: Use this formula for a quick way to get an idea of your website’s value.
  11. How To Sell A Website-How Much Is Your Website Worth?: Yaro’s number one rule? "Your site is worth as much as someone is willing to give you for it."
  12. Compete: Get traffic graphs for up to three domains at a time on this site.
  13. A Guide to Basic Variables That Make a Web Site Valuable: Read this thread from Webmaster World to calculate future profitability, traffic, and other valuation basics.
  14. Toolurl: Check rank position, link popularity, Google Page Rank, and lots of other important valuation stats.
  15. Alexa: Get traffic stats and rank information on Alexa.
  16. How to Value Your Domain Name: Check out this guide to domain name valuation from Internet Gold Rush.

Appraisal Services

If you’re unsure of your domain’s value, or just want expert opinion, appraisal services can come in very handy. These services and tools range from precise to ballpark, and free to fairly expensive.

  1. Premium Domain: Find out if you’re sitting on garbage or a domain that’s worth some serious cash by getting it appraised with Premium Domains.
  2. Estibot: This appraisal tool is good for getting a rough ballpark estimate of your domain’s value.
  3. Zetetic: Find out your fair market value with Zetetic.
  4. URLbuyers Appraisal: Get your domain name looked at by an individual appraiser on this site.
  5. LeapFish: Get appraisals and instant domain name values on LeapFish.
  6. Swift Appraisal: Find out how much your domain is worth based on Swift Appraisal’s eleven factors.
  7. The Domain Name Appraisal Scam: Arm yourself with knowledge against scammers who want to take advantage of domain name owners.
  8. Nameboy: Use this tool that values your domain based on length, word count, and demand of words and phrases online.

Market Watch

Sellers in real estate often look at comparable properties to predict how theirs will perform, and domainers should do the same. Use these resources to check out domains that are similar to yours and see how much they’re selling for, as well as who is buying them.

  1. Wikipedia: Comparables: Get an introduction to comparables here.
  2. DomainersHub: DomainersHub is a real-time domain listing monitoring system, which lets you keep an eye on the values of domains for sale, broken down by premium domains and everything else.
  3. DN Journal Year to Date Sales Charts: See the top site sales by rank on this page.
  4. NameBio: Domainers can get sales and comps history on domain names. With NameBio, you can find out information like sales price, auction results, and more.
  5. Sold Names: Check out the sales of past premium domains here.
  6. DN Sale Price: Get sales history for all published domain sales from 2003 to the present on this site.

Marketplaces

So you’ve determined your value and you’re ready to sell. Now what? Put your property out on the market and start talking to buyers on these marketplaces for domains.

  1. Afternic: As one of the leading premium domain sellers and a marketing partner with the majority of the best registrars online, the odds are good that you’ll have a profitable sale on Afternic.
  2. dnScoop Marketplace: Sell your domain on this marketplace, and take advantage of its in-house valuation tool.
  3. Domain Marketplace: Sell your domain names with natural traffic, one and two word generic terms, and strong traffic on Domain Marketplace.
  4. Votan Web: Get exposure to web entrepreneurs, Internet tycoons, and other web developers on this sales site.
  5. V7n Network: On this network, you’ll get access to a large development community and be able to take advantage of a great sales format.
  6. Buy Sell Website: This marketplace has listings for both established and start-up websites.
  7. DomainState: This is a great place to sell whether you’ve already priced your domain or want to put it out for offers and auctions.
  8. Search Engine Forums: Get selling advice and post your domain on this forum.
  9. Domain Shows: Get free or paid listings on this domain marketplace.
  10. NamePros: Post your domain name for sale in this forum of over 69,000 domain name owners.
  11. GoDaddy Domain Name Aftermarket: Put your domain up for auction on GoDaddy’s site and you’ll enjoy low commission fees and high visibility.
  12. Web Hosting Talk: Get offers or check out specific requests on this forum.
  13. DigitalPoint: Digital Point’s Sites Forum allows you to list sites and find resources at the same time.
  14. Experiment: Selling a Domain Name on eBay, Part 1: eBay isn’t considered to be one of the best places to sell your domain. Nonetheless, this domainer’s willing to give it a try. Learn about his experience here.
  15. SnapNames: Get 30 day advertisement and an auction with lots of exposure as well as easy payment and transfers on SnapNames.
  16. Tulip Domains: Put your domain up for sale on Tulip Domains, and you’ll get offers via email that you can accept or reject, with a 5% commission to Tulip Domains.

Development

One effective way to increase your domain’s value is to put some effort into the development of its brand. Full development is best, but these tools and resources offer shortcuts that help.

  1. Domain Development with Ning.com: Check out this article for a look into developing your domain with Ning.com’s social network platform.
  2. Domain Parking Shortcomings: Content: Read this article for an argument to go beyond just parking your domain.
  3. Get a Rush of Traffic to Your Blog: Put BlogRush on your domain, and you’ll have links to relevant articles instead of a plain parked page.
  4. WP Cloner: You can maintain your blog on multiple domains with this tool.
  5. YellowDev: If you want to oursource your domain’s development, check out developers like these guys.
  6. Auto-Generated Web Sites: The Future of Domain Parking?: Find out how domain parkers may soon make pages look more like real web sites.
  7. Domainer: Hire Domainer to develop your premium domain names.

Negotiation Tactics

You want $10,000 for your domain, but your buyer is only willing to part with $100. Where do you go from there? Use these negotiation tools to leverage a better deal.

  1. How to Negotiate Domain Name Prices: Learn more about the art of negotiating and employ the tactics laid out in this post.
  2. Negotiate Like a Pro: Use these simple ideas for a look into the basics of domain seller negotiating.
  3. Domain Price Negotiation: Check out this basic rundown of domain negotiations from iGoldRush.com.
  4. Keep Negotiations Secret When Selling an eBusiness: Find out why it’s vital to keep quiet about your domain sale in this article.
  5. Negotating A Deal: Check out these tips for domain buyers to see how the other side thinks.
  6. How to Negotiate: This site is full of ongoing advice on the art of negotiation that can be applied to any situation, including domain sales.

Brokers

If you aren’t a great negotiator or just don’t have the time or ambition to take on an eproperty sale yourself, consider hiring a broker. Although they work on commission, they generally deliver a better profit than you’d be able to get on your own.

  1. Should I Use an e-Business Broker?: Read this article to determine whether a broker is right for you or not.
  2. Selling Your Domain Name Via a Broker: Check out this guide to using a broker from Internet Gold Rush.
  3. Impressive Domains: Impressive Domains goes beyond "list and hope" with an active team of marketers and experts in domain name negotiation.
  4. Business Broker: If you’re selling an established domain, you’re selling more than just a name–you’re selling a business. Enlist the help of this expert business broker for the best results.
  5. Working With a Broker When You Buy or Sell an eCommerce Website: Learn about how a broker can help you improve your domain sale in this article.
  6. Sedo: From brokerage to appraisals and transfers, Sedo takes care of the nitty gritty work of selling your domain.
  7. Website Auction Hub: Use Website Auction Hub’s broker service to get the most money out of your transaction and preserve your identity at the same time.
  8. iMerge Advisors: For small to mid-market domain businesses, iMerge Advisors offers expert brokerage services.

Financial Services

Once you’ve reached an agreement, it’s time to get paid! Fight fraud, accept credit cards, and make your life easier by checking out these financial service providers for domainers.

  1. Escrow Services: Get an introduction to how escrow services work here.
  2. Authorize.net: Accept credit cards and protect yourself from fraud with Autorize.net.
  3. Escrow.com: With Escrow, you can protect yourself from fraud whether you’re buying or selling a domain.
  4. Ikobo: Use Ikobo’s money transfer services to safely accept money from your domain sale. They even have instant payment notification.
  5. PayPal: This favorite makes it easy to accept credit cards or just about any other kind of financial transaction from your buyer.
  6. Escrow AA: Escrow AA specializes in online escrow services.

Transfers

Once you’ve gotten paid, it’s time to deliver. Get the lowdown on domain transfers with these resources.

  1. What’s the Difference Between a Domain Name Transfer and a Push?: Find out why pushing domains can make domain sales easier and faster for all parties.
  2. ICANN Transfers: Learn about ICANN’s transfers policies here.
  3. How to: Transfer Domain Registrar: Read about one person’s domain transfer experience.

Management Services

Whether you’re juggling 20 domains or 200, keeping track of their status can be a daunting task. Take advantage of these software and service solutions that help you stay on top of it all.

  1. Moniker: Use Moniker to take care of nearly everything to do with your domains: registration, portfolio management, appraisal, escrow and more.
  2. Rebel: Get the Rebel Portfolio Manager to manage an unlimited number of domains.
  3. dnZoom: With dnZoom, you can link your registrar and parking accounts, manage all of your domains in one place, and keep an eye on auctions.
  4. NameFollow: With this software, you can organize, track, and sell your domains.
  5. [email protected] Domain Name Management: For domain name management that’s less automated and more thorough, check out [email protected]
  6. Domainsoho: Check out this service and get in as a beta tester before it’s released.

News & Blogs

Domaining is a growing trend that’s sure to change and adapt in the future. Keep an eye on the industry with these blogs and news outlets.

  1. DN Journal: Get industry buzz, sales charts, resources and more on this online magazine.
  2. DomainerPro: Check out this blog for beginner domainers.
  3. Domain Food: Get headlines from the domain name industry aggregated on Domain Food.
  4. Seven Mile: Check out Frank Schilling’s blog for domainer news as well as information on internet infrastructure and paid search.
  5. The Domainer’s Gazette: Get news, musings and ramblings on the domainer industry here.
  6. Daily Domainer: This major new source covers topics like registrars, disputes, domain tasting, and more.
  7. Domain Names Weekly: Check out the Domain Stock Index on this site.
  8. Rick Schwartz: Learn about domainer strategies from the "Domain King" here.
  9. DotSauce: DotSauce goes beyond news and ICANN controversies with articles, reviews, and apps for domainers.
  10. Domain Name News: Learn about domain sales, news about domain companies, and other happenings in the industry on this new site.
  11. DNHour: Check out this Digg for domainers that lists popular news stories as well as domains up for auction.
  12. Whizzbang’s Blog: You’ll find lots of insightful news and domainer commentary on this blog.
  13. Conceptualist: Read this blog from domain entrepreneur Sahar Sarid.
  14. DomainTools: Check out this blog for the latest in domain industry news.
  15. Domain Name Wire: This news source has information about sales, services, and laws that domainers need to know about.
  16. Other

    Get even more assistance with selling your domain from these resources.

  17. Preparing a Website for Sale: Take note of some of the steps you need to take when putting your domain up for sale.
  18. Idiot Posing as a Lawyer Attempts to Steal Domain Names: Watch out for fraudsters like this.
  19. Domain Scams Increasing: Watch out for these scams when selling or maintaining your domains.

12 Creative Ways to Monetize Your Body

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 2:49pm by Site Administrator

Raising extra money for you or your business can be tricky. You’ve exhausted your investors, you’re fresh out of ideas for fundraisers, and you probably shouldn’t ask to borrow any more money from your neighbors. What can you do, then, to earn enough dough to keep yourself afloat? Use your most basic natural resource– your body! We’ve come up with 12 creative but effective ways to monetize your body, from earning extra cash to maximizing unlikely advertising opportunities.

  1. Become a walking advertisement: The article "Body Billboards" discusses a new trend in body advertising. The author focuses on how large corporations pay regular people to walk around painted, tattooed, or sporting large billboards to advertise their products. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may not be able to afford to pay someone else to advertise for you, but you can do it yourself. Wear a billboard the next time you go to a parade or sporting event and where you know TV cameras will be scouting out interesting, if not odd, characters.
  2. Go logo loco: Fashion designers are constantly throwing couture gowns at celebrities for their walk down the red carpet at shows like the Oscars and Emmys. The number of people those designers can reach through television, magazines, and websites is staggering, and they recognize the investment. No one can buy that kind of advertising. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can also reach a bigger audience than the one you’re currently attracting, by making the most out of your everyday outfits. Print your logo on t-shirts, hats, backpacks, and anything else you can get your hands on. CafePress.com is an excellent resource for creating promotional items. Create enough designs for you and your friends to maximize your company’s exposure.
  3. Sell your plasma: Selling your plasma is an easy way to make money quickly. Plasma, according to eHow.com, is the "clear yellowish fluid portion of the blood that transports water and nutrients to all the cells in the body and is used for transfusions to people who have suffered shock, burns or trauma." You can sell your plasma up to twice a week since your body is constantly producing more plasma. Most medical centers pay between $20 – $35 each time you donate. Visit BloodBanker.com for a list of centers around the country.
  4. Tattoo Advertising: Believe it or not, companies are actually paying consumers to get all tatted up with their designs and logos. The company TatAD connects advertisers, consumers, and tattoo artists, as a way to provide "companies with loyal promoters and providing people with the compensation they deserve for being loyal all these years." LeaseYourBody.com recruits people to wear temporary tattoos, or logos, to advertise for certain companies. According to the TatAD’s company profile, "We’re all walking billboards anyway, so why not get paid to do it?"
  5. Become a sperm donor: In order to donate sperm, men have to undergo a screening process, but if you’re approved, the financial benefits are worth it. AskMen.com estimates that "you’ll earn between $50 to $200 per specimen," but the agency Building Your Family pays $250 – $500 for each sample. Click here to view an official sperm donor checklist.
  6. Have your eggs harvested: Donating your eggs isn’t quite as easy as donating sperm, but it does pay well. If you’re accepted as a donor, you will have to take certain hormones to increase the amount of eggs your body produces. A short, non-surgical procedure will then be conducted to retrieve your eggs. Check out the Integra Med America Web site for more information on egg donation and a link to fill out an application. Payments usually begin at $2,000.
  7. Sign up for a medical study: Participating in clinical research studies is a popular way of earning some extra cash. You can sign up for psychiatric studies, sleep studies, pharmaceutical trials, and even programs that study smoking habits and diabetes. This article discusses different types of clinical studies and how they operate. Visit Clinical Trials Listings to access a directory of all U.S. medical research studies. Search by disease, such as lung cancer, or keyword, like weight loss and migraines.
  8. Sell your platelets: Selling your platelets is a lot like selling your plasma, though you can only go once every two weeks. According to AskMen.com, you will undergo "an initial screening followed by the double-needle aphaeresis, which takes from 90 minutes to two hours." Volunteers usually earn around $50 per visit, so it’s still worth your time.
  9. Roll over and play dead: Who says you have to be able to act to get a TV gig? The popular show CSI is in constant need of new bodies to play their corpses, according to the article "Calling All Corpses for CSI," published on Wired.com. The article claims that "pay is lousy" but if you’re in desperate need of money, $136 isn’t too shabby for kicking back and putting your feet up for a few hours.
  10. Sell Your Hair: In Little Women, Jo nobly sells her hair so that her mother could buy a train ticket to visit her wounded father during the Civil War. Selling your hair nowadays can result in a lot more cash. The Web site TheHairTrader.com operates like a classifieds section for hair: users post the length and type of hair, along with an asking price. Buyers pay anywhere from $100 – $1,500.
  11. Check out Chibi Vision: This marketing concept hasn’t hit the mainstream quite yet, but it’s still worth checking out. Chibi Vision, "a U.S.-patented brand new advertisement method, is a digital walking billboard that you can fashionably wear as a backpack," as described in Japan Today. The idea is that companies will create their own commercials or other marketing footage, broadcast it on the backpack, and pay people to carry it around.
  12. Sell your body parts on eBay: Don’t worry, it’s not as grotesque as it sounds. GossyNews.com published an article which sheds light on another clever, albeit alternative way to monetize the human body. How does it work? According to the article, "Everywhere, people are getting into the act. Charles Hamburg, a software engineer from Dallas, Texas, is going to spend the next month with the Kotex Tampon logo emblazoned boldly across his back, for a reported sum of $48,998…Full-body advertising has arrived."

Making money by maximizing the potential of your own body is, well, priceless. These 12 ideas require little or no startup fees and can help get you back on your feet in no time.

Top 50 Christian Business and Finance Blogs

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 2:43pm by Site Administrator

Staying on top of your business while keeping your finances organized can be tough. Instead of agonizing over your personal investments and second guessing your every business move, turn to these Christian bloggers to guide you through the good and bad. Their sites give sound business advice but are inspired by Christian values and priorities. Personal Finance

These blogs will help you understand how to organize your own personal finances, whether it’s getting out of debt, setting up college funds, or saving for retirement.

  1. ChristianPF.com: This site gives advice on everything from credit card tips, building personal wealth to banking tips. Also be sure to check out the "Money in the Bible" category to help you see your priorities more clearly.
  2. Gather by Little: Use simple Bible tips to help you increase your personal wealth, "little by little."
  3. Why Religion is an Important Part of Personal Finance: Read articles about how to save money by cutting costs in unlikely places.
  4. How to Make a Million Dollars: This Christian blog will inspire you to take a proactive role in your quest to be a millionaire.
  5. Christian Finance Blog: Browse categories like taxes, retirement, emergency fund, and more. This blog gives great financial advice that is "relevant to today’s Christian." Don’t forget to check out the verse of the day!
  6. Free Money Finance: Find tons of helpful resources on this blog inlcuding saving for your kids’ college tuition, holiday spending trends, and Biblical investing.
  7. Fallible.com: Katy McKenna Raymond writes about her personal Christian experiences often touching on money and finance.
  8. Financial Baby Steps: A fun blog tracks each step of a person’s financial journey from birth until adulthood.
  9. Five Cent Nickel: Read finance tips about insurance, debt, family and home expenses, and helping the environment.
  10. The Simple Dollar: This blog shows you how to save money and accumulate wealth the healthy way.
  11. Good Sense Ministry: Learn about the financial and spiritual benefits of stewardship.
  12. Crown Financial Ministries: This site gives valuable information on organizing and understanding your money.
  13. Crosswalk.com: This website includes articles and stories about finding God in everyday life, including money matters.
  14. PF Blog: Browsing through the articles in this blog will give you a better understanding of personal finance in general.
  15. Biblekeeper.com: Christopher Green’s personal finance blog is full of excellent tips for saving money.

Investing

Investing your hard-earned savings can be a little risky. Let these bloggers guide you through the process.

  1. Christian Money Talk: John Gay is a well-known financial planner. Read his professional tips here.
  2. Christian Financial Advice with James L. Paris: Get great investing tips and learn about managing your personal wealth and finances from James L. Paris’ blog.
  3. WallStRadio.com: Find links to the Christian Financial Radio Network and other great resources.
  4. The Timothy Plan: The goal of The Timothy Plan company is to provide Christian investors with "a biblical choice when it comes to investing." Read this blog to find out more about how you can ensure that your money is used in a moral way.

Legal & Ethical Information

Understand the legal and ethical side of business and finance with the help of the following bloggers.

  1. Christian Law Association: Find all kinds of legal information and resources on this site.
  2. Christianity.ca: Browse through titles like "Christian Ethics in Business—Asset or Liability?" to learn about and analyze the current stage of business ethics.

Business & Entrepreneurial

Whether you’re your own boss or just want to brush up on news of the business world, these sites will keep you in the know.

  1. Church Communications Pro: This site is an excellent resource for those interested in developing marketing strategies for their church.
  2. Pro Money Blog: A popular business and finance blog, Pro Money Blog sometimes touches on Christian and religious topics.
  3. Christian Money: This blog is brought to you by the "Absolute Guys," who specialize in debt consolidation and money management. Read their blog for excellent tips on entrepreneurial and other business matters as well.
  4. The Christian Science Monitor: This widely respected publication has a great Web site too. Check back often for articles about business and finance.
  5. Selling Among Wolves: This blog gives advice on how to make it in the tough business world without compromising your faith.
  6. Christian Products Resource Directory: Find other Christian businesses by searching through the directory, check out other Christian Web sites geared towards business and more.
  7. Christian Business and Information Directory: Look for other Christian businesses around the world to scope out your competition or to network with possible clients and partners.
  8. Christian Business Daily: Read about news in the economy, get tips on HR management, and learn great new marketing strategies for your company, all from a Christian perspective.
  9. ChristianEntrepreneur.org: This site isn’t exactly a blog, but we felt that we just had to connect you to the official Web page for the Christian Entrepreneur Organization. Link up with other Christian entrepreneurs to network, support each other, and learn about programs and membership that will strengthen you and your business.
  10. Godblogcon: This blog urges Christians to engage in new media techniques to help their business grow. Find information about their valuable conferences across the country.
  11. International Christian Entrepreneurs Association: This site has tons of resources for the Christian entrepreneur.
  12. Church Marketing Sucks: This irreverant take on church marketing actually strives to share the story of Jesus Christ by challenging churches and the Christian faith to better market themselves.
  13. The Christian Billboard: This blog promises to show you "how to double your Christian business or ministry with one hour of work."

Donating and Ministry

Donating a percentage of your income to Christian charities is a smart way to give back to the world. Help support those who are less fortunate and find yourself building a stronger relationship with God.

  1. Money Missions: Read about missionary life and what you can do to financially support your favorite cause.
  2. Persecution Blog: This blog addresses Christian persecutions around the globe, and find out how you can help support individuals or even whole communities.
  3. Alpha and Omega Ministries: Read about the Christian Apologetics, watch their live Web cast, and check out Bible verses and passages.
  4. The Blogging Ministry: Learn about how you can run a profitable, effective blog for ministry.
  5. Gospelcom.net: Here you can find information about the various ministries that Gospelcom sponsors. Donate to a ministry that speaks to you.
  6. Tech Mission: Tech Mission is the blog for UrbanMinistries.org, an inter-demoninational organization that provides information about all kinds of ministries.

General

These Christian blogs provide resources and articles dedicated to personal finance and creating balance between work, family, and spirituality.

  1. Focus on the Family Blog: The Focus on the Family group now has their very own blog. Check it out for articles on managing your family’s finances and keeping your priorities in the right place.
  2. Beliefnet: One of the most popular Christian sites on the Web, Beliefnet is a powerful resource for deepening your faith.
  3. Religion News Blog: Catch up on all the news, business and otherwise, in the religious world.
  4. ThinkChristian.net: Find inspirational stories about staying out of debt, supporting your family and more on this Christian blog.
  5. The Christian Mind: Keith Plummer analyzes what it’s like inside the mind of today’s Christian.
  6. ChristianBlog.com: Network with other Christians on this community-powered blog.
  7. SmartChristian.com: This excellent resource provides information on theology, news, and activism opportunities across the world.
  8. Life With Christ: Browse through tons of forums to link up with other Web-savvy Christians. Talk about business woes, financial planning, or your family and spiritual life.
  9. Internet Evangelism Day: Understand the power of the Internet by checking out IED. Their mission is to spread the word of God and connect Christians all over the world, all from their impressive Web site.

With the help of these blogs you can learn about your own personal investments, how to start and run a sucessful business all while learning how to fit God and spirituality into the greater scheme of things.

5 Common Problems a Bootstrapping Entrepreneur May Face

Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

Entrepreneurs managing a startup should expect to encounter problems. Being prepared for them is what will help carry you through. Here are a few common problems that may crop up, and not just due to repeated business anti-patterns.

  1. Poorly defined partnership.

    Problem: Not making clear from the start the role of each partnership in a startup can result in an unequal workload between partners, or lead to someone slacking off, or some sort of unbalance.

    Solutions:

    1. Do not let things go on, because when you finally do tackle the problem, you’ll do it with contempt and/or excessive confrontation.
    2. Have weekly status meetings. These can serve as reminders to slackers that they’re not doing their share.
    3. Play dumb. Tell them seem distant and you’re worried about them. This approach is dangerous. If you’re not skilled at this method, it can seem disingenuous and be insulting.
    4. Be direct. Ask them why such and such task isn’t done, but expect confrontation or deflection.
    5. Buy them out, if you don’t see change coming.
  2. Flash success.

    Problem: One of the biggest problems about success is that it can sink you. Unexpected success results in accounts payable for supplies, etc., exceeding existing cash flow – at least until acounts payable come in. Now you have to decide whether to take investment money or not.

    Solutions:

    1. Collect on overdue bills.
    2. Offer a discount for immediate payment on new orders.
    3. Outsource some of the work, if applicable.
    4. Ask suppliers for credit, especially if you’ve been with them for a while.
    5. Pass on a big order. Just say you cannot accept it at this time.
    6. Refer the order to a competitor.
    7. Cut back on expenses.

    It may hurt your pride to follow #5 or #6, but sometimes it’s necessary.

  3. Requiring loans.

    Problem: If you do need an infusion of cash flow, where do you get it from? Bank, private loan, family, or Venture Capital?

    Solutions:

    1. Not every business can take or even get Venture Capital. And even if your business qualify, taking VC is equivalent to agreeing to eventually give up your business. But if it doesn’t bother you,

    2. A small business loan keeps ownership with you, though the requirements at times might seem as monumental as for getting VC.
    3. Unlike Santa Claus, private lenders do exist, but they expect a certain amount of ROI, in a certan amount of time.
    4. While taking money from friends and relatives is potentially harmful, it keeps ownership closer to the heart than other solutions.
    5. Get a 0% APR balance transfer credit card. But only provided you think that you can pay off the balance within the alloted time.

    Before you decide, consider all the ways you can finance your business startup.

  4. Hardware costs.
    Problem: While there are many options for free software, there is no equivalent for hardware, particularly computers. Computer costs are down, but if you have a staff that all need computers, those costs add up.

    Solutions:

    1. Offer flexible work schedules, with sharing of computers. If you set up each computer with network access and more than one user profile – or an Intranet-based framework running only web-based applications – anyone can use any computer that is available.

    2. Have remote teams, whereby employees use their own computers. In recompense, institute some additional profit sharing or private shares in the company.
    3. If you’re a software publisher, try extreme programming practices, where 2-3 teammates work together on a single computer. The practice is said to reduce errors and development time, provided teammates can get along, I suppose. (Hint: install a shower in the office – the cyclists among your staff will thank you for it.)
    4. Hire new employees only when absolutely necessary. Make sure that roles are clearly defined so that there is no duplication of effort – thus reducing the need for new employees and new hardware.
  5. Software support costs.

    Problem: Open Source software is often free, but sometimes support costs extra.

    Solutions:

    1. Choose your software carefully. Many Open Source applications have enthusiastic user communities where generous people will answer your questions free of charge. Hopefully, you pay it forward and offer help where you can – even if it’s at another such community.

    2. Learn on your own. If you have a bit of time, you might surprise yourself. I know many non-programmers who taught themselves the basics. These days, designers and bloggers might learn just enough to tweak Open Source code to their needs.
    3. Hire someone’s nephew/ niece on an affordable hourly basis, as necessary. If they know the software, they’ll likely be up to date on latest bugs, fixes, etc., simply because they’re young and have infinite energy to be learning such things.

Whatever legitimate solution keeps you from spending more than you have to is a bootstrapping way to do it. If you can, try creative solutions.

Should You Take Venture Capital?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 9:00pm by Site Administrator

[editorial] You’ve seen the big money deals all over the place: startups being purchased or being funded. Talking about venture capital on a blog about bootstrapping may seem odd, but there’s nothing wrong with accepting investment capital if you can’t find alternative financing. Or is there?

On one hand, VCs are make more smaller deals – especially for early-stage investing. So if you’re looking for it, you might have a chance at venture capital. On the other hand, Anti-Venture Capital gives 10 reasons not to take venture capital.

The latter article actually reminds me of my original opinion of venture capitalists back in the 1990s. But lately, it seems VCs at the very least get a lot of coverage in the blogosphere. I don’t see much negative commentary. In fact, this is the first negative view of VCs I have seen in a very long time. The scary part is that a lot of it makes sense.

Aren’t VCs just in it for the potential of profits? They do need for your business to eventually succeed at some level, or they can’t cash in. But where’s the line drawn? What are you giving up by accepting VC? Will you get as much as you think? Bootstrapping is much harder but is always the option that ensures you don’t reliquinish control.

I don’t want to wax too philosophical here, and maybe I’m pretty cynical, but I don’t for a minute believe that there are more than a handful or two of VCs who are truly out to lend you money simpy because they like your idea. That is, most VCs are in it because they see an investment opportunity, not a humanitarian opportunity. Their role is to seek out financial opportunities, whether for a private firm or a publicly-traded company.

So it boils down to this: if a powerful company really badly wants your business or technology – even if just to get it out of the way, like what happened with many Canadian solar patents – they’ll get it some way or other. (If you don’t believe that, you’re immensely naive.) Companies are run by (flawed) humans, not intangible ideals. Venture Capital firms are companies, and their agenda is to flip transactions for profit.

If you don’t like the power that VCs could have over you, don’t take venture capital, don’t seek it out. If you don’t want to swim with sharks, don’t dip your toes in their waters. Bootstrap your finances and build as you are able. You could also seek funding from family, but that brings its own problems. Consider all the alternatives to financing your business startup.

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