Monthly Archives: January 2012

Finding the Right Industry for You

If you want to start a business, the ideal industry is one that you both have previous experience in and a high degree of knowledge about. However, this may be impractical if the industry is oversaturated or is not a good source of money at the moment. In such cases, you need a backup plan.

The Right Backup Plan

Most people make the mistake of choosing an industry they have experience but little interest in, but it is actually better to do the opposite. If you need a backup to your ideal plan, it is better to go with a field you are passionate about but lack experience in. You can always educate yourself in the industry as you get started. It’s the passion you feel that will provide the drive you need to be successful.

You should begin by looking for an under-served market that strongly interests you. Identify a need in that market that you can train yourself to fill. Then start reading everything you can about that industry, particularly in trade journals and business periodicals. Find people who are willing to be mentors for you as you get started.

One possibility you should consider is to find a specialty role in a particular industry. In an oversaturated market, for example, you could specialize in a particularly difficult skill that few people in that industry possess. You could also fill a supporting role in an industry that interests you, such as marketing computer software rather than programming it.

Transferrable Skills

You will find that a lot of skills from your previous work experience will transfer to your new business, even if you have never run a business before. All businesses require strategic planning skills and an ability to analyze problems. They also all require an ability to multitask and manage time well. No matter what field your previous career has been in, you have probably learned these skills to some extent. You have hopefully become proficient in communicating and interacting with others. With these traits, you can become successful.

Some specific skills transfer readily from one industry to another, such as statistical analysis or working with databases. Nearly every industry now uses statistics in some way, and every company has some sort of database. Other transferrable skills, however, are not as obvious. For example, if you previously worked in tech support, you learned many customer relations skills that you can apply to client management. If you were a car mechanic, you learned some complex problem-solving skills that could help you enter the IT industry.

The Importance of Research

Before you start your venture, you need to do some market research. Businesses only survive if they produce products and services that people want. Figure out who your target audience is and incentivize them to participate in a survey. In this way, you can find out what they want and what will motivate them to buy what you offer.

When you plan your survey, try to survey a variety of people and get a large sample size. Prepare your questions carefully to differentiate between segments of your target audience. Marketing efforts are always more effective when they are targeted toward specific groups. Your survey can help you determine what groups from your population you should focus on in your business. This way, you will be able to begin operations without making too many uninformed guesses.

Having picked the right industry and done proper research, you are well on your way to a successful start. From here, the key is to stay motivated and passionate about what you’re doing and give it your all. It is time to turn your research into a business plan and start looking for the capital you need to begin working. Success will come as you apply your passion to your chosen industry and use your market research as a plan of action.

Mankind is Your Business

If you read A Christmas Carol or watched one of its many film adaptations during the last Christmas season, you may recognize the statement, “mankind was my business.” If Ebenezer Scrooge were a businessman in today’s world of social media, he probably would not be very successful. Businesses must focus on people to be successful. You can offer excellent products and services, but if they don’t fulfill a need, you won’t find any buyers. On the other hand, if you meet people’s needs, they will come back to you, and they will bring their friends with them.

Focusing on People

It is people who make your company profitable, not products and services. Customers, employees, and investors are the most important resources in any business venture. Your products and services are solutions to your customer’s problems and sources of revenue for your employees, investors, and you. Thus, products and services are means to the end (making a profit), and not the end itself. While most business owners already know this, it can be easy to forget when bogged down in day-to-day operations.

Employees and investors want you to make as much money for them as possible, while customers want you to make as little money off of them as possible. The tension between these two groups will always be felt in business. Because you know your employees and investors personally but not your customers, it is easier to pay them their due attention as people. In the end, however, you must make your customers happy in order to pay your employees and please your investors. If you give the needs of each group—customers, employees, and investors—their due attention, you will be able to find the proper balance.

An “Organic” Approach to Business

In search engine optimization, the term “organic” refers to links to your site that people naturally create when they mention you in their blog or talk about you in online news forums. The term “organic” also applies when they ‘like’ you on Facebook or tweet about you on Twitter.

The Best Practices of Internet marketing require companies to focus on their customers as people. The same techniques that produce organic links to your website also produce pleased customers. Companies that don’t focus on people don’t get the organic links and social media chatter they need to rank on the Internet. And therefore, they are not visible to customers. On the other hand, companies that do focus on people will gain both organic links and social media attention. They will earn customer trust and referrals.

The Right Way to Please Customers

An “organic” business approach is one that pleases customers. Many customers have high expectations, and it can seem daunting to please them. However, there are ways to meet and even exceed your customer’s expectations that won’t break the bank.

First, do market research to find out what your target audience truly wants. Then, make it your whole focus to design products and services that go beyond your customer’s wants. This will pleasantly surprise them, earn their loyalty, and connect them with your brand. After that, you must keep producing high-quality products and services that will maintain that connection. This approach to business may be easier said than done, but it is essential to a people-centric focus.

When you meet your customer’s needs, they talk about you. When you meet their needs spectacularly, they actively market for you!

A Long-Term View

If you’re not looking ahead, you’re falling behind. At all times, you must be looking toward the long-term future of your business or charity. This requires intense focus, hard work, and an ability to multitask. You must set demanding goals and simultaneously pay attention to the big picture and small details. Above all else, you must have full confidence in yourself. There is no room for self-doubt in business.

Setting the Right Goals

While goals about next month’s revenue or this year’s product sales are important, they are not enough. You must also set goals for the years ahead. A successful business plans three or more years ahead and sets appropriate targets to meet along the way. If you are not constantly working for a goal beyond the current fiscal year, you may lose sight of your vision. Meanwhile, your competitors who do focus on the future will rush past you and claim more market space.

Your goals should challenge you. If they seem easy to achieve, you will not reach your potential. The best goals will seem a little beyond your ability—the route to the finish line will not seem totally clear. James Collins and Jerry Porras defined such goals as “BHAGs” in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. BHAGs are “big, hairy, audacious goals.” BHAGs encourage creative thinking and problem solving that will open doors to new possibilities. You can only become aware of opportunities if you are looking for them. Along the way, set achievable targets that will serve as mileposts on the way to your BHAG.

Splitting Your Attention with Focus

There are only so many hours in the day. Most people work as many of those hours as they can. The only way to get ahead is to be more efficient during those hours by using Best Practices. To do so, you must focus on many tasks and projects at once. You also must take care when splitting your attention to look at details. By nature, multitasking leads to a quality loss unless you take care to avoid it. Focusing on details enables you to maintain top quality on multiple projects.

When examining the details of many projects at once, it can be easy to forget the big picture. You must always keep your ultimate vision in mind as you look at each individual project. One way to accomplish this is to limit your projects to only those that accomplish your BHAGs best. Being the best in your market space is what makes you successful, and that requires a big-picture view to achieve.

Maintaining Your Confidence

Confidence comes with direction. If you have set a BHAG and appropriate milestones along the way, you set the stage for confidence. Confidence also comes from knowing your talents and knowing the industry. Staying up to date by reading articles and going to conferences is a critical part of maintaining your confidence and keeping your skills sharp.

However, you will make mistakes. It is crucial that you do not let mistakes shake your confidence. When you feel confident, you can make decisions faster and respond faster to the demands of our rapidly changing economy. If you feel self-doubt, your decisions will always be made after hesitation, and your more confident competitors will beat you to the finish.

Winning Success

With a solid plan, challenging goals, and confidence, you are on the path to success. When you split your attention between the details of each task and the overall vision, you ensure that you stay on that path. The only ingredient remaining is motivation, and that comes with passion, which we talked about earlier. When motivated, you will reach your goal. To stay motivated, you must find something that drives you. For some, it is charity. For others, it is providing for a family. The best motivator comes from deciding what you most want out of life and making it what you work for.

Please share your thoughts on what your vision is. What goals do you set, and what motivates you to get there?

Buying and Selling Domains

One of my companies, DomainMarket.com, operates under a set of principles that has proven successful again and again. My team buys domains that are very keyword heavy, intuitive, and easy to spell. Some of those domains are simply sold to other customers later. With others, we actually start a company with that domain name and then sell the whole company once it starts operating profitably and smoothly.

How do we indentify these names that we buy and sell? Well, that comes with experience. We look for highly brandable names that people will search for in the future. There are literally millions of niches in the marketplace, and we have only scratched at the surface of the possibilities for good quality domain names that fit our criteria. If you look at DomainMarket.com, you can see countless examples of what we’re talking about. Suppose you want to go into the religious travel business. You can purchase the domain SacredJourneys.com from us, which is perhaps the most intuitive name out there for this type of business. The vast majority of our domains are similar—they are already optimized for a given market because their names are based on keywords in that market.

How to Buy a Domain

The easy part of buying a domain is finding one to buy. With some domains, finding the owner is easy (particularly if it’s owned by BuyDomains.com or DomainMarket.com); with others, finding the owner can be challenging. After locating the owner, you simply negotiate a price and sign the paperwork that reregisters the domain name to you. You want to complete the purchase quickly. Also, be aware that oral contracts are usually binding, so you need to be able to back up whatever you offer.

Upon gaining the domain, you do not want to just sit on it. Obviously, you have no intention to if you’re buying the domain for yourself. If you are buying it to sell it to others, you want to make money with it in the meantime. A cheap way to do this is to use it for lead generation, perhaps by linking it to other domains you own. Our preferred method is to start a small skeleton company with the domain and nurture it until the company is successful enough to add tangible value to the domain.

How to Sell a Domain

The best price to sell a domain at is completely contextual. It often depends on the domain itself, how well known the buyer is, and how strong the financial industry is. A domain purchase price is based more on willingness to pay than on supply and demand. The seller will guess the buyer’s maximum willingness to pay and try to secure that price.

If you want to make your domains easy to sell, they need to be easy to find. The best way to make them easy to find is to have a central sales domain and use lead generation to link all your other domains to that sales domain. This way, your domain list can be found more easily, and if a potential buyer happens to land on the domain they wish to buy, they can easily link to that domain list and make a purchase right away.

Why Buy a Domain

At this point, buyers may be wondering why they should buy an intuitive domain from a domain market rather than simply using an unclaimed but less intuitive site. The answer lies in how easy it is to optimize the domain. It can be much harder to get a less intuitive domain to the top of search engine rankings than a more commonly searched domain.

Suppose someone is looking to travel to a small island resort for their vacation. They don’t want to go to a big tourist trap with huge hotels right on the beach. They might search for “private island vacation spots.” If your domain is PrivateVacationIslands.com, it will probably show up before IntimateIslands.com in the search results purely because it matches their search terminology more closely, all other things being equal. (Of course, search engine optimization will factor in here as well.) And both domains are likely to appear much higher in rankings than WannaPrivateIlesVac.com, which is neither intuitive nor easy to spell. In fact, it’s not even easy to read since capital-i looks identical to lowercase-l in most fonts! Furthermore, “vac” is often considered short for vacuum instead of vacation.

Not only do search engines find a keyword-heavy and intuitive domain name more easily, but so do people. If you want a website that truly generates money, you need it to be easily found and easily remembered. Then customers will come back to it again and again. Don’t forget that many customers happen upon your site while researching options with no intention of buying yet. If you stand out from your competitors due to a memorable domain name, they are much more likely to return to you once they are ready to make a purchase.

Domains names are critical. Making millions and encouraging change can only happen when you get your message in front of lots of eyes. A good domain name can do that—not just once, but repeatedly.