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You Are Your Business

To get out of the rat race, the perpetual cycle of working and spending and never getting ahead, you must spend significantly less than you earn. Unfortunately, most of us are have hard enough time just getting by on what we earn let alone have enough to invest or save for a retirement that may never come. You do have a few options available. You can get another job if you don’t want to have a life and want to get deeper into the rat race, you can try to cut back on all your expenses, or you can start a business.

I’m not talking about the typical venture that requires tons of capital and long hours to maybe turn a profit in a couple of years. I’m suggesting you create a virtual venture to create income that supports your life instead of takes it.

Since 1996 or so, everyone with access to the Internet has had the opportunity to create an additional revenue source with an online business . A web-based business can give you a better lifestyle if you do it right. The following information will introduce you to ways of making money without worrying about changing the economy, a boss or employees. All you will need is a website, a merchant account, a bank account and your brain.

Learn to Say No

There are certain “no’s” that you need to know to have a successful web-based business. To build the perfect online business you first need to think about the things you don’t want or need before concerning yourself with what you need. We will get to what you need to have soon enough. Here are some guidelines for making this as easy as possible.

  • NO Employees: Employees require you to pay them, manage them, and many times they need a place to work. To make things easier, stay away from employees, at least in the beginning.

  • NO Inventory: You should not carry an inventory. The strange thing about inventory is that you need to store it somewhere and storage space can be expensive Also, you’ll end up with tons of shipping and packing demands that take away from your life not add to it. If you sell products, make sure your supplier does drop-shipping to most places in the world. Another form of product is electronic products such as music, software and ebooks. I will be going into detail about these types of products later in this article.

  • NO Time: After your business has started, it should not require more than a few hours of your time to manage and maintain each month. The more you can automate things the better.

  • NO Location: Your business should not reside anywhere other than in cyberspace. A website will allow you to host your business anywhere in the world, which will give you freedom to manage your life. You want to go to the Bahamas for a couple of weeks? No problem. Your web-based business is still making you money and you can maintain it as long as you can get Internet access a few hours a month.

What to sell

Now that you know what not to have, you have to focus on what you need for your web-based business. First off, you need to know what you are going to sell. You have three choices-physical products, services, and intellectual property.

Let’s get physical

Physical products are the things of this world that we buy such as food, clothing, appliances, homes and nearly everything that can be touched. As I said before, we don’t want an inventory so we need to find a way to work around this. There are a couple of ways to handle products without carrying an inventory-you can use companies that drop-ship or you can manufacture on demand.

Manufacturing on demand can be a real pain. All I will say on the subject is that you can print and bind books, copy a video cassette, or burn a CD or DVD as orders come in. There are some people that are successfully selling print-on-demand books, though.

Drop-shipping is the key to selling products online without an inventory. Many manufacturers around the world will fulfill your customers’ orders as they come in and put your label on the box before sending it out. You don’t have as much gross profit per product, but you are saving money since you don’t have to warehouse items, maintain staff to package and ship products or fulfill any other demands. All you have to do is sell the product.

To serve or not to serve?

Service businesses are currently hard to fulfill with an online business; however, there are some industries that have been gaining some success such as online tutoring, various types of consulting (where site visits are not needed), language translation, computer programming including web design, and several others.

To have an online-only service business, you will need to be able to fulfill the service from your location. One cannot wash a customer’s windows from France if he or she is in San Diego.

You need to be able to close the sale without a physical meeting. If you must meet face-to-face with a prospect to get her to buy, you won’t have much freedom and you will need to pay for the travel. I doubt you would get too many clients if they had to pay for airfare just to do business with you. However, do keep in mind online videoconferencing.

Informational Products?

Informational products are perfect for the Internet. This type of Intellectual property can be writing, works of art, or software. As an example, songs start as an idea and then the songwriter puts it on paper. Next, a singer and musician perform it. Once it has been recorded onto a CD or a hard drive, the song can then be heard by others. Record companies have CDs and cassettes. Radio has broadcasting. TV has music videos and the Internet has mp3’s. All of these formats can be bought, sold, and traded.

You don’t need to be a songwriter to create informational products, however. You can write a book, create a software program, or take photographs. If the idea can be put into an electronic format (book into an ebook), you have the first building block of a web-based business.

For non-writers and non-programmers, you don’t need to create the intellectual property to make money from it. There are many people that have ideas, but don’t know how to sell them-you find the idea and then offer to sell it. Some companies have affiliate programs that will pay you a commission on anything sold to customers that you referred to them. Also, you can buy the rights to resell someone else’s idea (a book, photograph, song, software, etc) and then sell it as if it was your own.

Creating Your Intellectual Property

Think about all the things that you know or have experienced in your life. Do you think that someone out there might want to hear about it? My guess is yes. Look at all the travel story books that line the shelves at your local bookstore. Have you traveled? Write about it. Look at the self-help section. Have you overcome some difficult situation? Write about it. Someone will want to buy your knowledge.

Start with something that you know well and then write it down. Then look at the competition. There may be a dozen or more books on what you have just written. You will need to make sure that you provide some new information or a new twist on the existing information. If there are 10 books on moving to Uganda for sale on the web, then make a workbook that has lessons to guide people through the process or produce a video on the subject.

Creating the Perfect Web-based Business

Here are some quick steps for getting your online business up and running.

  • Get your idea into an electronic format

  • Research your competition and tweak your idea accordingly

  • Find a place to host your company web site. Look for an inexpensive hosting company that has great service. Find a backup just in case.

  • Build an inexpensive, yet professional web site that is easy for your customers to use with a simple, but reliable shopping cart.

  • Determine your payment system. Most likely you will want a merchant account to handle credit card payments or you can try out PayPal or ClickBank.

  • Optimize your site for the search engines and be sure you are listed in all the major search engines.

  • Use pay per click (PPC) search engines such as Overture and Google AdWords to build targeted traffic quickly.

  • Start your own affiliate program to develop your own sales force.

  • Watch your bank account fill up.

Final Thoughts

The Internet has become clogged with web sites and has tons of people selling things so it is easy to get lost in the quagmire. Don’t count on one idea making you rich. Many of my clients and business acquaintances don’t make a lot of money for each idea they are selling. Some do as well as $100,000 in a month, but may not sell much after an initial rush. Most that I know make about $1000 per month per idea on average.

One of my clients makes about $2000 per month from the four ebooks that she sells. She also has two community websites where she earns about $1000 per month from each of them. A community website is a place that attracts a group of like-minded people because of the site’s content and subject. Community sites tend to make money from selling advertising or selling products or services to the community members. is a community website for business people and those wanting to become business owners.

Making $4000 per month pretty good, but she does have expenses that come out of that revenue. After expenses and before taxes, she makes about $3000 per month. Doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but you have to consider that she works about 3-5 hours per week to maintain her websites. All other aspects of her businesses are automated by inexpensive software or services that are available on the Internet.

All in all, you can have your virtual business up and running in less than a month. And within a few months you can make enough to live comfortably out of the rat race. Good luck building your web-based business!

This Ebusiness article was written by Tim Conley on 2/11/2005

Tim Conley is the owner of Sagacity Marketing, Inc., a full-service marketing firm that bridges the gap between Internet and traditional marketing. When he isn’t working, Tim spends his time traveling with his family and writing. He is in the process of writing an ebook on how to start a web-based business. You can visit his company at