In Search of the Internet Dollar
How To Make Winning Choices
"All I need is a really fantastic product, and I could make a fortune on the Net!" If this thought has been running through your mind, you're not alone. The difference between making money on the Net or not comes down to making the commitment or just dreaming about it. Of course, the big questions are: how do you find that product and what do you do with it afterwards?
Before we get to the answers, let's weed out a few possibilities. The best advice I can give you is get your own products or services! Forget multi-level marketing schemes and --the business in a box. "The profits are usually too low. You should earn at least 25 percent profit on what you sell.
Next, keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to sell products. Information is a big seller in all markets, especially "how to" and other specialized information. And don't rule out services either.
Last and most important: your products must have mass appeal. Unless you've discovered a way to turn dirt into gold and you've just been featured on CNN, offering one product on the Net is probably not going to make you wealthy. But if you do have a similar product, you can probably expand on the idea to offer other products that complement it.
Finding A Winner
We all have creative abilities, but some of us use them more than others. So reach way down inside, pull them out and put them to work. Begin with a blank sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center of the page and list everything you like to do down the left-hand side of the page-yes, everything. Then list everything you know something about and things you have a special aptitude for or a natural talent, still down the left-hand side of the page. Next, list your education and work experiences and what you can offer the world. Finally, go back into your past and dredge up times when you were really satisfied. What were you doing then?
Then, in the right-hand column, jot down ideas that come out of your lists. For instance, you might be an accountant by trade, but you fill your leisure hours with woodworking. and you make your own patterns. With a photograph of the finished articles and a copy machine, you could create instructions for a line of woodworking patterns. Or maybe you belong to a group of craftspeople that specializes in certain types of art forms. In addition to selling your own work, you could also collect a commission from other artists for selling their work. How about going after a niche market and collecting products that would be useful for it? Wheelchair bound people, for instance, have a need for many products to make life easier.
Once you begin looking at possibilities, you might be surprised at where the ideas come from. Don't sell a product. Sell a solution! How many times have you heard someone say, "I wish somebody would make a product that would --." Don't talk about it . . . do it. Find a need and fill it.
Don't limit yourself to your initial offering. Some products work and some don't. Always be on the lookout for more, newer, better, less expensive, etc.
Start your own business. Talk to the Small Business Administration in your city and with the state taxing authority. Both usually have free classes on what you need to do. Get a sales tax I.D. Stay legal.
Get a professional to do your Web site. You need a firm familiar with design, marketing, and search engine placement . . . one who won't abandon you once your site is online.
Make sure you have a merchant credit card account. The majority of Net customers order via credit card or an 800 number. You must take credit cards to be successful on the Net.
Don't expect to get rich overnight. Internet marketing takes time. One reason for failure is giving up too soon. In the first month, expect a trickle. In six months to a year, a steadier stream. And in three years, a good customer base. On the other hand, not all products are a success. What you may perceive as a good product may not be to others. Learn from your failures.
Set your prices as low as you can get them. Everyone is looking for a bargain, especially on the Net. Make sure you give them one.
Provide customer service: ship fast, be polite and give them more than they ask for.
Never, never use bulk e-mail to promote your products. If it's unsolicited, it's a dirty word called "spam," and it can get you terminated by your Internet service provider, generate a great deal of negative feelings toward you and, in some cases, get you sued.
Before you explode onto the World Wide Web with your version of Wal-Mart, it's a good idea to do some test marketing with your wares. Show your ideas and prices to your friends, relatives, co-workers, mailman, grocer, clerks and anyone else unfortunate enough to appear in your line of sight. If they like the ideas, ask them what they think of the prices. If you get negative responses across the board, it might be time to reassess. But, if you get an overall positive response, go for it.
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