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In a freshly-updated third edition, this invaluable resource takes an in-depth look into the new American dreamrunning one’s own e-business from home. Starting with a guide to defining what is most importanttime with family, a flexible schedule, financial freedom, and risk levelsthis study moves into an investigation of how online business works, followed by profiles of 101 proven ideas guaranteed to fuel entrepreneurial thinking. From getting started in online and offline promotion, this handbook is sure to accommodate all needs and interests. The guidebook also includes a password that provides access to the companion website, offering the latest internet business news, expanded information, and additional online resources.
|Edition description:||Third edition|
|Product dimensions:||7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Susan Sweeney, CA, is a certified speaking professional and the author of 3G Marketing on the Internet, 101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site, and The e-Business Formula for Success. She is the developer of the Internet Marketing Boot Camp, webinars, seminars on CD, internet marketing training programs, and e-books. She lives in Bedford, Nova Scotia.
Read an Excerpt
101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home
How to Choose and Build Your Own Successful Internet Business
By Susan Sweeney, Kara Sweeney
Maximum PressCopyright © 2011 Maximum Press
All rights reserved.
Internet Business: The Opportunity of Our Lifetime
Communicating with customers and other businesses has changed dramatically over the past century. It started with print, then radio, television, phone, and fax, and now all of us are operating in the fastest medium yet — the Internet. The future is bright for businesses that utilize the Net as a primary medium of communication and sales.
The number of Internet users and the amount of business done online around the world is growing at a staggering rate. The world's population currently holds well over 1 billion Internet users, and the majority of these Web-savvy humans have online access at home. They research, study, email, chat, download podcasts, participate in social networks, and shop online.
Why question the amazing rate at which the average business is moving onto the Net? It makes too much sense to deny the obvious answer. Having a business online is the opportunity of our lifetime. Besides the greatly expanded market reach afforded by the Net, there is also the reduced cost of doing business online. Look at all the time, money, trees, and travel costs that are spared from the average business's operating budget due to this new medium. The collective business world realizes the bounty of opportunity to be seized in cyberspace.
All businesses that have a Web presence are seeing the advantages of selling online. They are committing more and more of their marketing dollars to online activities, where they are seeing a greater return on investment.
Expansion of the Internet into all business and personal communications is inevitable. What was once considered a trend is becoming the norm. Overall familiarity and trust in online transactions and consumer relationships improve each month as new security-based technologies are developed. New media support groups hasten the learning curve of the average Internet user, a factor that earlier had hindered the speed at which consumers feel confident enough in their own understanding of the Web to make money-related decisions based on their own online research. The time is now for everyone to get online. In our lifetime, "newbies" will cease to exist.
The future is really bright, so put on your shades and a thinking cap! Hot items are software, music, books, electronics, and travel. Broadening the gamut of goods sold online will happen quickly.
The opportunity is there for you to create a dynamite business online if you do it right. It's not a matter of throwing a Web site or blog together, putting it online, and having the world beat a path to your door. You have to choose the right business, develop the right Web site for your target market, and build substantial traffic to your Web presence. The online customer is extremely demanding, with expectations that exceed those of the offline buyer in many ways. Online buyers want what they want, how they want it, when they want it, at the right price. The product and service must be exactly what they ordered, delivered immediately to the correct place and for the lowest price they can find. Competition is fierce, so you have to create a professional and secure online presence for your business, target the demographic of Internet users with an affinity for your product or service, and work diligently to attract traffic. Serious marketing research is required to successfully access and captivate these eyeballs.
It's a challenge, but the opportunity is substantial. Many who have gone before you are reaping the benefits today. This book will provide you with a myriad of online business ideas for your consideration.
Defining What's Important to You
"What are the benefits of this new age?" you ask. Today and in the future, personal lifestyle plays a significant part in career choice. Perhaps you have no inclination to commute in traffic each working day. Maybe you want more time with your family. If your dream is to be self-employed, this is your era!
Run a successful global business from an island in the Caribbean or from the comfort of your living room. Hours are flexible, and the business is operational 24 hours a day, all year round. No matter how small your business is, if you set it up correctly, you can compete with the big boys.
Before embarking on an e-business venture, it is very important that you clearly define your objectives. Take your time — brainstorm with family and friends. Find out what's really important to you, and then find a business that you can build that will help you achieve those objectives. Starting a business, online or offline, is serious business. Without adequate preparation in defining your objectives, researching for the best business for you, and then developing an adequate business plan, you are asking for problems.
When you are defining your objectives, you will have to ask yourself a series of pertinent questions. What type of time commitment do you foresee? Do you want this to be a full-time or a part-time endeavor? The options are wide open. Many online businesses are ideal for extra income to leverage your regular salary and make the budget of daily life easier to manage. The beauty of working online is that it's sustainable without having to quit your regular job if you don't want to. The point is that you should allocate in your business plan how much time you are willing to spend on the venture, and then you can decide which online businesses fit with the time you are willing to invest.
Where you work is important too. Would you prefer to work out of your home or have an outside office? For many, a major benefit of having an online business is the luxury of working from home. Another advantage is to work while you travel or from remote areas. Not all online businesses guarantee complete mobility and staying home, but you can decide on these critical lifestyle options before choosing which specific online avenue to pursue. It's all up to you for a change.
If you already have a physical "bricks-and-mortar" business location, do you want to use the Web as a marketing outlet? There are many ways to run a successful online business. Traditional storefronts and catalogs can be mirrored on the Web site, which expands the sales capacity significantly, but you must make sure that there is enough inventory and internal organization to accept, fill, and deliver incoming orders. The other option if you have an existing bricks-and-mortar setup is to use the Web site as a responsive marketing force and information source for your business. The design and content should urge customers to come to your location and return to your site.
What kind of start-up costs are you considering? Budget is everything. Research the investment you will have to put into the Web site. Ask around to see how much people are spending on their online presence, and remember that you can grow gradually as funds and profits permit with an online business. There is no rule saying you have to spend everything you've got in the beginning to succeed in the long term.
Would you like to develop an idea and sell it, or sustain the management and grow the business in the future?
Want to run your business from home but not have to be there 24/7 to answer the phone? No problem! For every challenge there is an opportunity. There are companies that will answer and screen your calls based on scripts you provide, provide information to your callers, take your orders and messages, and offer a whole myriad of professional and personal services; they can even screen and respond to your email and fax messages, do research for you, and provide a ton of administrative services. One such company that I am affiliated with is PatLive. I have arranged a special deal for any of my readers who are interested in this service. Go to http://www.patlive.com/signup/ssc for this special offer if this is something you might be interested in.
What is your risk comfort level? Trying anything new is slightly nervy. Just remember that if you embark on the online journey now, you share a common technology learning curve with those who remember what it was like before the Internet existed. Soon this group will be extinct, so this is the time to go for it!
What are your revenue and profit expectations? (Fun question, isn't it?) How rich do you want to be? Seriously, there is huge potential for major profit in online business. While picking the right virtual business for you, make sure to factor in the start-up costs and continuing operating costs. Begin with a modest revenue projection (to stay on the safe side), and if the result pleases you, stick with it.
Do you want employees, or are you looking for a business you can start and maintain on your own? If you are planning to have a staff to run your business, how many are you comfortable with? Employees are an added responsibility. If the online business you choose to enter requires employees, make sure you are prepared. What do you know? What are you comfortable with? What do you enjoy? If you are going to be spending lots of hours in your new e-business, it might as well be doing something you enjoy.
Once these questions have been answered and you have done a lot of soul- searching with regard to defining your objectives, it is time to take a closer look at all the e-business opportunities that are available to you. The following chapters offer this closer look.CHAPTER 2
Doing Business Online
The term e-business means different things to different people. To some, e-business is simply having a Web site and email capability through which customers can place an order, request a quote, or make a reservation. For other people, e-business is having a Web site that enables customers to order and submit their credit card information online, even though their orders may then be processed manually just like a fax or telephone order. For others still, e-business means being able to place a secure online order, having immediate credit card verification, and having fully integrated back-end systems that are dynamically updated and inform the customer of the latest prices and whether or not an item is in stock. The point is, the appropriate e-business solution for you will depend on the type of business you operate, the products and services you intend to sell, your budget, your target market, what your competition is doing, and so on.
For instance, a software development company that sells a downloadable software application (i.e., has no physical boxed version) has no inventory per se. Therefore, they would not require a back-end inventory database to be integrated with their e-business system. All they might need is an e-business system that includes payment-processing capability. On the other hand, if you have an online business that intends to sell books and you want to become the next Amazon.com, you will require a full-blown, full-featured e-business system to compete with the Amazon.coms of the world. Otherwise, potential customers will shop at Amazon.com because their e-business system is more convenient and easier to use. In this section of the book we discuss the features of e-business sites, online storefront options, taking online payments, and selecting the right e-business model for your online business.
Getting the Point Across
The consumer is king. This statement is especially true in the e-business realm. For instance, if you were to visit an offline bookstore to do your holiday shopping, you might browse through the aisles for a few hours, pick out a few books you wanted to buy, and take them to the cashier to pay for them. If you asked the cashier whether the bookstore offered gift-wrapping or shipping services, the response from the vendor would probably be "No, we don't provide those services." You would be satisfied with this and make the purchase anyway. You would then take the gifts home, wrap them, and ship them to their various destinations.
If you are making the same gift purchases in an online bookstore, you expect to be able to have them gift-wrapped and delivered to any address you desire. It defeats the purpose somewhat if you have to pay to have the books delivered to your address, only to turn around and pay to ship them someplace else. If you are purchasing the books as gifts, you want to have them gift-wrapped. Again, it defeats the purpose if you have to have the books sent to your address so that you can gift-wrap them and then reship.
Online it's a whole different world. Consumers have higher expectations. Often they shop online for the convenience and expect the online merchant to meet all their needs. Consumers expect the online merchant to deliver what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. If you don't provide what they want the way they want it, another vendor is just a click away.
Not all possible features of an e-business site are applicable to every business, but if you intend to be competitive online, you must give your consumers what they are looking for. You might have something they want, but if they cannot conduct transactions easily on your site and competitors offer more point-of-sale service, people will leave your site and shop at another site that is easier to buy from. This section focuses on some possible e-business features that you might want to include on your site. Decide which features are most applicable to your business and implement them into your e-business system.
Storefront Development Options
Depending on your online objectives, your products and services, and your budget, you might have to develop an electronic storefront for your business. An electronic storefront is the interface that a customer sees when purchasing goods on a Web site. The need for an electronic storefront varies with the level of e-business that your company chooses to implement. The various levels of e-business are discussed in more detail later in this chapter.
When developing a storefront for your business, you have three options available. You can:
Use the ASP (application service provider) model
Purchase storefront development software
Program and develop your own storefront.
Each option has its strengths and weaknesses, and some are more appropriate than others, depending on your business's budget and online marketing objectives. In determining how to develop an electronic storefront for your business, you should evaluate the following options and select the one that is most appropriate for your business.
My recommendations on storefront solutions change from time to time as new software is introduced or new features are introduced in existing solutions. For my current recommendations, please check the Storefront applications in the free Resources section of my SusanSweeney.com Web site. Go to http://www.susansweeney.com, then click on the Resources menu option, go to Internet Resources, and then choose Storefront applications.
ASP Storefront Model
ASP stands for application service provider. The ASP owns the storefront software and operates its own e-commerce server. An ASP licenses the use of its software and e-commerce hosting services to clients that desire to sell products and services online. The software is hosted on the ASP's server, and as the client you pay the ASP to use its software and server. This option is often much cheaper than purchasing your own storefront software package.
When using the ASP's storefront solution, a client can be quite confident that the system will always be up to date. The ASP's server handles all system updates, back-ups, and technical support on a regular basis. There is no need for a business to purchase any extra on-site equipment or software, and the installation process is fast, straightforward, and affordable.
The ASP's storefront solution can be integrated with your existing Web site. The portion of the storefront that is hosted on the ASP's server can be customized to duplicate the appearance of your site. This adds to the level of professionalism and maintains a sense of consistency across all pages of your site and the purchase process.
The ASP's storefront model is known for its high reliability, as well as an unfailing online selling security system. A great benefit of using an ASP's server is that business owners are able to access their data from any place, at any time. The only equipment needed is an Internet connection as well as your ASP server ID and password.
Clients are given a unique username and password to allow for easy management of their accounts. The information hosted on the ASP's server can be modified at any time — you can add or remove products at your convenience, alter the layout, and so on.
This solution is ideal for those businesses that are looking to maintain their own site but do not want to be responsible for configuring and maintaining the technical aspects of the e-commerce system. The ASP model is easy to configure for those individuals with limited HTML knowledge and can be set up and running in a very short time frame. For more information on a few great examples of ASP storefront applications, go to the free Internet Marketing Resources section of my site at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.php.
Storefront Software Packages
There are a variety of storefront software development packages available that enable you to develop your online storefront for your business. If you choose to use this approach, more technical knowledge will be required and you will have to find an Internet service provider to host your electronic storefront.
Excerpted from 101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home by Susan Sweeney, Kara Sweeney. Copyright © 2011 Maximum Press. Excerpted by permission of Maximum Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Internet Business: The Opportunity of Our Lifetime,
Chapter 2 - Doing Business Online,
Chapter 3 - 101 Internet Businesses,
About the Authors,
Reader Feedback Sheet,