Last week, in our third step, we discussed how to start a new business without having to start at ground zero. If you missed it, go here to read it.
Go here to read the first step, where we looked at coming up with a business idea, and here for the second step, where we asked the question, does your business idea pay the bills?
This week we will continue to focus on identifying money-making business ideas.
Create a Lucrative Internet Business
Perhaps by now you have selected a business idea to pursue, but how do you create a lucrative online business? First of all, it has to be highly unique and/or specialized.
Let’s explore this a little further. Say, for example, you make pottery and your initial market research shows that you have a lot of competitors selling pottery.
In the online world, it’s more lucrative to be a large fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a large pond. So, how can you stand out in the pottery market?
Stand Out From the Crowd
Conduct further market research to see which type of pottery people tend to be passionate about. Maybe you will learn that there is a market for pottery with butterfly ornaments, and it makes money.
What if You Sell Services, Not Products
The same specialization concept applies to services also. Perhaps your business idea is to be a virtual assistant. At first glance, there are 31,100,000 Google search engine results for the search term “virtual assistant”; therefore, competition is stiff. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
Conducting a Google search for the term “virtual assistant social media marketing start-ups work at home moms” resulted in 158,000 results. This is a specialized virtual assistant. He or she will assist “work at home moms,” who are start-ups, with their social media marketing.
Ideal Range of Maximum Number of Search Results
It’s important to note that “virtual assistant internet marketing services start-ups work at home moms” had 315,000 results. However, the ideal range of maximum number of search results is 150,000.
At the result of specializing internet marketing services even further, offering social media marketing, the competition went from 315,000 virtual assistants to 158,000 virtual assistants.
Now that you have your business idea narrowed down to an idea range of search results, we will look at what makes your business different.
To make your business different, do further market research to determine what your target market need and are not getting from your competitors. Fulling that need will make your business different.
For in-depth lessons on any of the steps discussed thus far plus three additional modules on Start and Grow Your Own Business, go here.
Come back next week when we look at methods of researching your market to learn what their unmet needs are. What makes your business different?
This is a video trailer showcasing the benefits for entrepreneurs and small business owners of outsourcing their Internet marketing to virtual assistants who provide Internet marketing services.
In a recent survey I conducted, the respondents cited that lack of time and procrastination were two main reasons why they were not doing Internet marketing or completing the tasks. In my last blog post, I mentioned that 54% of entrepreneurs and SMBs (small and midsize businesses) are using Internet marketing to market their products and services. Therefore, if you are an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to put off your Internet marketing if you want to compete. If you don’t have time or you are procrastinating, outsource your Internet marketing to a Virtual Assistant who specializes in Internet marketing.
A Virtual Assistant can post your micro-ads to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. S/he can submit your articles to article banks. S/he can create your blog and post your blog posts, as well as keep up with the maintenance. A Virtual Assistant can create your website and maintain it. S/he can take care of your e-mail marketing campaigns. Imagine how much time you will have to focus on your business if you outsource these type of Internet marketing tasks.
Whatever the problem or situation may be, don’t put off your Internet marketing one more day. You can’t afford to.
If you are an entrepreneur or small to midsize business owner who is not using Internet marketing services to market your products and/or services, you are missing out on potential clients and customers.
According to a recent article in Marketwire, eight out of 10 consumers shop online at least once a week. As you know, if you are trying to get your sales message in front of your target market, you have to hang out where they are. Apparently, they are online; therefore, the best method to deliver your message is Internet marketing.
Social media marketing is a form of Internet marketing and is one of the most popular strategies to use. Wikipedia’s definition of social media marketing is “Social media marketing is a term that describes use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service.” Social bookmarking (Stumbleupon, Digg, Technorati, etc.) and social media sharing (YouTube, Flickr, etc.) are also included in social media marketing.
In a recent article Forbes.com stated, “Fifty-four percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are using social media to promote their businesses, double the number using these sites in December 2009, with 35% posting daily updates to sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, a new study found.”
Other forms of Internet marketing are e-mail marketing campaigns, article marketing, teleseminars, webinars, and podcasting, to name a few.
As you can see based on the article on Forbes.com, your competition and colleagues are using Internet marketing services to inform their target market that their products and/or services exist. So, if you want to compete or capture some of the target market, include Internet marketing in your marketing plan.
Internet marketing costs little to no money; however, it is time-consuming. If Internet marketing services is not your service offerings, you should outsource this task to a Virtual Assistant who specializes in Internet marketing services. In turn, you will be able to focus on your services and/or products, as well as your clients.
When all else fail, Google it. This is a tip for entrepreneurs and small business owners from your Virtual Assistant Rita Cartwright.
I created a drop down menu for my ASPX web pages with Expression Web 2 software. The drop down menu appeared correctly in IE8 but not in FF 3.6. I posted my issue in the Expression Web forum, and the members gave me various suggestions and tips, which were from the perspective that I was designing my web pages incorrectly. So, I applied their suggestions; however, it didn’t solve my drop down menu issue.
Although, their tips didn’t solve the problem with the appearance of my menu, I did learn some valuable information regarding how to correctly lay out my web pages; therefore, it wasn’t all in vain. However, my menu still wasn’t displaying correctly in Firefox. So, I decided to Google my problem. Lo, and behold, I found a solution.
It turns out that it isn’t me, it is Firefox’s browser; specifically, Version 3.6 if using with Vista Operating System. If you are having the same display problems, click here for more information.
As a sidebar, Safari and Chrome browsers don’t show ASPX drop down menus correctly either. The members of the Expression Web forum did help me resolve this.
Anyway, when all else fail, Google your question and/or issue. There is a good chance you will find your solution. This is a tip from your Virtual Assistant Rita Cartwright.
In honor of Earth Day, I am re-posting this post. This is one of many solutions to help us preserve Mother Earth.
With the increasing cost of fuel and pollution, businesses are going to have to come up with alternatives for their employees who drive back and forth to work on a daily basis. One alternative could be to reduce the work week. Another alternative would be to allow their employees to perform their duties from home. Of course, there are certain businesses that cannot operate off-site, as well as certain tasks that cannot be completed virtually.
On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, small business, or a small business owner and need administrative assistance, you have the alternative of working with a Virtual Assistant (VA). As a result, you and your Virtual Assistant are able to “go green.” Your Virtual Assistant doesn’t have to purchase as much gasoline, because he or she works from their home office. You “go green” by choosing to work with a VA rather than hiring an administrative assistant who would have to drive to your office. Both you and your VA are helping to preserve our planet by not adding to the levels of carbon monoxide.
This is just another great benefit in working with a Virtual Assistant. “Go green” work with a Virtual Assistant.
Lately, I have been receiving inquiries as to how to arrange Virtual Book Tours (VBTs) and what is involved. I decided to write a blog post about it in order to share the information with other interested authors.
A virtual book tour (VBT) uses similar concepts as a book tour except it is done virtually on the Internet. Blogs are the brick and mortar book stores where book tours are held. Instead of physically going on a tour visiting book stores, you visit blogs.
The Process of Selecting Blogs
When you are arranging a VBT to promote your book online, research different blogs to determine if their readers are the target market you are promoting your book to, as well as how much traffic that particular blog gets. Are there a lot of site visitors/readers?
After you select the blogs, which meet your criteria, contact the owners to arrange a date for you to virtually stop by to visit with their readers. Then you will need to supply the blog owners with a copy of your interview, graphic image of your book cover, and your picture. The media standards are you provide the interviewer with the questions and answers for your interview. Although, the blog owners will get a lot of traffic, due to your book tour, you should offer them something for being a host. Maybe a discount or a free copy of your book.
Your Tour Visits
On the day of your tour visit, the blog owner will post your interview, book cover image, and your picture on their blog. You and the owner will want to encourage audience participation, as well as create an incentive for readers to visit the blog site on the day of your tour stop. You want as many site visitors as possible in order to promote your book or e-book.
The best incentive is to give away a copy of your book to a randomly selected visitor. There is a website called random.org where you enter the e-mail addresses of the site visitors, and it randomly chooses one. The contest can be something along the lines of all who post a question or comment on the day of your visit will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of your e-book or book.
You will check in throughout the day to see if there are any questions or comments that need addressing. This can create a dialogue or conversation, which in turn, will generate more audience participation. To make it more exciting, the owner of the blog can post the winner’s name after they have been notified that they are the lucky winner.
Following is an example of an interview I did when promoting my e-book to give you an idea of what type of questions and answers you can use to construct your interview:
TH: Why did you write this book?
RC: My goal was to create a handbook, which entrepreneurs and small business owners can refer to when they are searching for online marketing tools and/or new marketing ideas. I wrote it for new entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as for those who have been in business a while.
TH: Tell me about yourself
RC: I’m originally from Arizona and now reside in California. I earned my bachelor’s degree (with Magna Cum Laude honors) from Arizona State University when I was 44 years old. After graduation, I couldn’t find a job; therefore, I decided to start my own business offering online word processing services, which was 7 years ago. At that time, I was not aware of the virtual assistant industry, which I am now a member of. So, I guess you can say I was ahead of the curve.
TH: What qualifies you to write this book?
RC: Approximately 2 years ago, I started maintaining a blog and writing articles in order to implement the article marketing strategy. (I talk about using this strategy as a marketing tool in my e-book.) Also, while attending college, I learned how to write. I had to write. I remember my English professor saying I should be a writer, because he thought I had the skills. I didn’t take him serious. I was just trying to get through college.
In regards to the subject matter, my background and education in marketing and my experience from operating an online business provide me with the necessary qualifications to write this e-book on the topic of online marketing tools.
TH: How long have you been an entrepreneur?
RC: I have been an entrepreneur since October 2002. Although I started out as a small business owner, I have become an entrepreneur. There are differences between entrepreneurs and small business owners. In fact, I wrote an article on the differences. It is titled, “Are There Any Differences Between an Entrepreneur and a Small Business Owner?” Ezine Articles is one of the article banks where you can find it.
TH: What is the e-book about?
RC: This e-book contains information on various online marketing tools, along with some examples and in-depth descriptions of the tools. There is also a resource section that lists websites where you can find the online marketing tools, including “live” links to the websites. The resource section will save your readers a lot of time in Internet research when they are searching for information on online marketing tools.
TH: What do you want the readers to get out of this e-book?
RC: I wanted to provide those readers, who have a shoestring marketing budget, with information they can use in their online marketing plan or, at least, generate new marketing ideas. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have a large marketing budget. The marketing tools I discuss costs little to no money.
TH: Can we look for more books from you in the future?
RC: Yes. One of my clients, who is a coach of Christian leaders, and I are currently working together on an e-book. It will be geared towards Christian leaders and Christian virtual assistants. So be on the lookout for that in the near future.
TH: How can the readers contact you if they have any questions?
RC: Your readers can reach me at 602-454-9408 or toll free at 866-651-3073 or send me an e-mail at Rita[at]rjsinternetmarketing.com.
TH: Where can the readers purchase your e-book and how much does it cost?
RC: They can click here to purchase it, and it only costs $3.98.
TH: Rita, thank you for stopping by my blog on your tour.
RC: You are very welcome. Thank you, Tina, for having me.
Overall, virtual book tours are more cost-effective than physical book tours. Plus, you reach a much broader, larger audience, including an international audience. If you don’t have time to arrange a virtual book tour, outsource it to your dependable virtual assistant.
We, as virtual assistants (VAs), generally attempt to grow our businesses by obtaining more clients. Another strategy is to grow your business by subcontracting or outsourcing projects to a team of VAs. These VAs’ services will complement your services rather than compete with them.
In an attempt to grow my virtual assistant business and deepen my service list, I organized a team of three VAs. My core services are word processing services and Internet marketing, and my team services include bookkeeping, transcription, and ghost writing. Their services complement my services. Now I can offer these services in addition to my current offerings. They are also my backup.
There are two different models of multi-virtual assistant (multi-VA) businesses, which outsource overflow of projects. One model is team and the other is subcontracting. The main difference is a team approach.
Multi-VA team businesses list the team members on their team web pages, but everything is under the umbrella of the multi-VA business owner. Team members also have direct contact with the clients. Whereas, with multi-VA subcontracting businesses, the subcontractors don’t have contact with the clients; although, they may be listed on your website. You, as the multi-VA business owner manage the clients and projects.
In both cases, subcontractors and team members/associates are VAs themselves and are at the beginning stages of their businesses or have room for more projects.
Due to the current economic situation, there will be more entrepreneurs and small business owners, and they will need virtual assistance. We probably will see more multi-VA businesses, both team and subcontracting models.
If you are Virtual Assistant and you want to grow your business, consider organizing a team of virtual assistants whose service offerings complement your services.