Recent Entries

Great Ideas for an Upstart Home Business in 2015

An entrepreneurship is all about having good ideas and executing them.

Entrepreneurs are known for providing amazing new products for specific niche markets. I myself have a very successful e-commerce business and it all started with a spark of inspiration.

I have since followed my dreams and am now living the life I have always wanted, with a stable job that I absolutely adore.

However, coming up with a good upstart home business can be quite a challenge. That is why I put together a list of the most in demand upstart ideas for 2015 to inspire you.

Of course, you will need to have the passion and the drive to make your start up business a reality, but if you play your cards right and do your research, you can increase your chances of success.

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Brick and Mortar vs eCommerce – Who Really Wins?

We hear plenty of news these days about brick and mortar (aka actual physical stores, with rented spaces and storefronts) shops closing down because of poor sales. Those poor sales stem from the fact that more and more people these days have begun to shop on the internet for all the things they need or want–simply because of the convenience of everything coming to their doorstep without them ever having to leave their chair or even go out of the house.

And it is true, we have seen many shops closing down because of ecommerce taking over. There are many businesses that no longer exist because of this very reason. All the same, we still see many storefronts up–and many more being put up. Brick and mortar stores are not dead yet, but there will always be the argument that one is better than the other. And I do see why. Let’s see what each side has to say, shall we?

Brick and Mortar Stores

your store
Pros
People absolutely love being able to see, feel, and try the things they are thinking about buying before they actually commit their hard earned money. This is a definite major advantage that brick and mortar stores have.

If someone wants to purchase, say, an outdoor commercial playground, they wouldn’t just purchase it without ever seeing it at all. There are things that even I aren’t comfortable with buying online. Like shoes. You want to see them, you want to try them, and you want to get the ones that look good on you, and feel good on you too.

Another pro of course is the fact that you can get real live assistance in the form of a sales associate.

Cons
People now state that brick and mortar stores are an inconvenience because you actually have to GO there. People at times also complain of really pushy sales associates. I am of course familiar with this–very much so. I’ve had my share of obnoxious sales associates in the past.

Ecommerce Stores

ecommerce
Pros
The utter convenience of online shopping is basically the best point for it. Plus people can more easily compare deals, get discounts, and even find cheaper prices over all. All without ever even having to leave their chairs.

Cons
You can’t buy a playground on the internet. Or okay, you can, but wouldn’t you prefer to see it first before you pay the thousands for it? And of course, who likes dealing with returns? Shipping sucks too because sometimes products just don’t even make it to your place. And when people need help, it’s not as easy as approaching a live person and asking them a question.

So Who Really Wins?
For me, there is no need to put one versus the other–I like the fact that online stores and brick and mortar stores can be complementary to each other. Many businesses are doing this now–having actual storefronts and still doing business online. Weigh in–what do you think about this issue?

The Challenges of Running A Business From South East Asia

As my subscribers will know, I travel the world whilst running my e-commerce business and at the moment I am still in beautiful south east Asia. Just check this out  :)

Jungle-office

Living and working from a remote location doesn’t come without it’s challenges.

South East Asia is one of those places a lot of people only ever dream of going to.

Not a lot of people ever get the change to visit, either from financial constraints, time constraints, or even perhaps just because they don’t have the inclination to travel so far away to a culture that is so foreign to them.

Some will say that they don’t want to go because of the inherent dangers and the language barriers. Admittedly, I used to be one of those people who always found one reason or another not to go.

Oh, I didn’t have the time, or the money… but after I started up my own company and gained my financial freedom, well… I guess I ran out of excuses.

I am frequently in South East Asia these days because it is such a wonderful place to be. So full of beauty and colour and diversity, and so full of all sorts of adventure… it’s just one of the places you normally ever only dream about.

But before you start packing up and flying to SEA, there are a few things that you should remember for your safety during your trip, and that includes ever trying to run a business from here.

Be Careful with Scammers

scam_smartIn South East Asia, scammers are common.

Make no mistake, there are scammers everywhere in the world, but in SEA where you are a stranger in a foreign land, that makes you an easier target.

So always be careful when bargaining for prices, including getting stock for your commerce store etc.

You will sometimes get a higher price initially that what the local do.

Make sure that you don’t ever hand your valuables over to anyone to watch over or anything of the sort.

Always keep them on you at all times. But don’t let that put you off, stick to the main streets and you will be fine. Get to know some locals so they can point you in the right direction for cheap markets etc. where you can buy your stock – if that’s your business model.

Be Careful on the Road/Streets

I’ve noticed that a lot of the roads in SEA are not very good. Drivers do what they will and there are hardly any sidewalks. Even if there are sidewalks, there is never any adequate pedestrian fencing.

So always be careful when you are walking on the roads and streets – the last thing you want is to get hit by a vehicle after all.

Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Memories

A lot of travellers like to take bits and pieces from the streets as keepsakes.

If you want to get souvenirs, purchase them in a gift shop that is regulated – never just pick things up from the street as this could harm the delicate ecosystem, as well as get you in trouble with customs. And leave only memories behind; never garbage or trash.

Find Out About Internet Coverage Before You Travel

slow-internetAs an e-commerce guy – this one goes without saying, never assume that your internet coverage will be like you are used to as home.

The average download speed for SEA is approximately 2MB/s – for the none geeky among us, that means even loading Facebook will take 3 times as long as what you’re used to.

Be In The Know About Shipping Charges

Importing your home comforts for your home or office is a great way to make your home away from home, feel like home. However, I was stung quite heavily when shipping some boxes over to my office here on shipping.

Owning an online business gives you the ultimate freedom, you can live anywhere in the world and work from an Internet cafe or makeshift office in your hotel.  Just be sure you know the lay of the land before you make all your plans.

As a final tip, check out some of the local forums for the country you plan on checking out and get chatting with people that have local knowledge about the business district.

Tips for an e-commerce Website for Children’s Parties

Party Air TrunkMy brother has also decided that he wanted to go make an e-commerce website and I was ready to help him out. He said that he wanted a website that specialised in themed childrens birthday parties and wanted to sell ready-made party favours and decorations. There will also be an option to pre-order some themed birthday cakes for the party and provide some assistance to book with affiliated venues.

Since he was planning a very ambitious website, we had to put together a solid business plan first. While he does have a lot of experience running a business, having graduated as a business major from our local university, he has little experience with e-commerce in general. He is a bit of a traditionalist in the beginning but realized that there is a lot of potential in selling products online.

So, I had to give him several tips to help him build up his website:

Make your website beautiful
Children's PartyWhen it comes to children’s parties and party websites in general, people tend to slap on some bright colours and comic sans and call it a day. Many think that since the website is for children, if it is good enough for a child, it should be okay.

However, when it comes to themed parties, your real target audience are the parents, and not the children themselves. They are the ones who are organizing and spending for the party, and chances are, they are the ones coming up with the theme too. So make sure that your website is absolutely beautiful – get a professional graphic designer and programmer.

Optimise your website for mobile platforms
Nowadays, us e-commerce vendors have to take into account that 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices such as tablets and cellphones. To access this market, your website should be optimised for mobile platforms.

Making an Ecommerce Website Using WordPress


We asked our designer to make a dynamic website that will work for both wide screen horizontal displays and vertical displays. The fonts and the images are also dynamic, detecting the screen resolution and adjusting itself to fit the bill. Busy parents who want to plan their child’s party on the go will appreciate if you create an app too, which you should make available for free for Android and Apple.

Pictures, pictures, pictures!
Birthday Party for KidsParents want to see what kind of products they will be receiving for their children’s birthday bash so make sure that you put up professionally shot pictures of the products. They should be attractive and well-lit.

Allow searches and category sorting
You should allow parents to search through your catalogue and sort things according to varying categories. For example, if they want a science themed birthday party, you should include searches such as a space themed party, a chemistry party, a dinosaur party, and so on and so forth. Your website should be easy to navigate and provide as much help as possible to the site visitor.

Needless to say, my brother’s party website was a success. He just released his party app last month too, and bought me a cup of coffee as thanks for my help.

Maximizing Storage Space for Your eCommerce Supplies

Storage GarageWhen I started in the eCommerce business, I mostly started storing my supplies in my garage. It worked for a while and I felt that I could pretty much go without having to pay for extra storage space. However, as my business grew, the volume of my products increased.

I now had boxes and boxes stacked ceiling high inside my garage, and I barely had space to even park my car! Worst of all, it made retrieval extremely difficult. Someone would purchase an item on my website only for me to discover that it is at the bottom box at the very back of my garage.

What makes things worse is that I cannot keep track of all the items that I had, so I would mark something as “out of stock” only to find available stocks weeks later.

I decided to start improving my storage space capacity so that I can improve my eCommerce business. I needed to invest in smarter storage solutions so that I can increase my output and prevent losses.

Invest in vertical storage solutions
Industrial Mezz FlooringSince I had limited storage for now, I decided to make use of vertical storage solutions so that I can maximize my space. The ceiling of my garage is pretty high, so I installed some mezz flooring for more space.

The mezzanine flooring pretty much doubled the floor space of my garage, and even though it was a little cramped, I managed to make use of the vertical space.

I also invested in high quality warehouse shelving, so that I can easily organize and lift items in and out of storage.

Invest in nesting or stacking boxes
You can find hundreds of different boxes that nest on top of each other. These boxes are meant to be stacked and can hold a considerable amount of weight. When I started out, I did not use plastic nesting boxes and relied on the cardboard shipping boxes instead.

How To Stack Boxes

 This was a bad idea because I just ended up toppling a stack every now and again and crushing some boxes underneath. I lost a bit of revenue for every damaged product that was stored in this way.

The stacking boxes saved me a lot of storage space, because they fit perfectly on top of each other while maintaining their integrity.

Make use of prime real estate
Boxes on ShelvesWhen it comes to storage solutions, you should always take note of prime real estate. In this case, it is often the area between eye level and knee level – in other words, the places on the shelves that are quick and easy to reach.

I usually put my best selling items in prime real estate so that I can easily shift them in and out of storage when needed.

I also make sure that heavy items are shelved on the bottom parts of the shelves with lighter items at the top. This will reduce the load on my shelving and decrease the chances of damaging my products in case they topple over.

Finding Your Niche in E-Commerce

E-cOnline Shopping Cartommerce is booming in a way that simply was not possible a couple years back. The internet has become a safer place for those looking to buy items online, with more secure transactions and better delivery services.

Like most people who become owners of their own buy and sell businesses online, I made sure that I found my niche first. Your success online as a virtual store owner relies entirely on whether you can hold a niche or not.

After all, not everyone can turn itself into a huge online mall that sells everything and anything – it may take some time and a lot of trial and error before you become a huge e-commerce site like Amazon.

Instead, you are more likely to be successful if you focus on niche marketing instead. In our example, I will use dog food. If you want to start an online website that sells dog food, you will need to go above and beyond your competition in order to be successful.

Check if there is a demand
Dog Food in a BowlThe key to niche marketing is finding a balance between wants and actual demand. Take dog food for example: you may sell the best dog food around but find that few are willing to pay for high end, designer pet food in gourmet varieties.

Instead, you can find your niche in the organic market for dog food: owners who are willing to pay a bit more to keep their pooches happy and healthy, but not so much so that it will put them in debt. You will need to cater to your niche without being too exclusive as this will only hurt business.

Find a product line with a low product turn over
Some products are fad items that may sell a lot now, but end up in the bargain bin once demand dwindles. Do not waste money and resources on a product that has a high turn over rate – you will only use up precious capital for a product that will cost you more to stock rather than to sell.

Successful E-commerce Business Tips and Tricks

If you want to sell organic dog food, make sure that you put together a roster of sure sellers and stock them accordingly. If you must go for a fad item, let us say, bacon flavoured dog treats – offer them in a limited quantity so that you can take advantage of the surge of demand without having too many left overs once the fad passes.

Sell products that are difficult to find locally
Dog Catching FoodThe thing about e-commerce is that most people turn to online shopping if they cannot find a product locally. After all, why spend for organic dog food and pay extra for shipping if you can just pick one up from the supermarket?

It is therefore imperative that you provide high quality products that will not be found anywhere else. In our pet food example, you should choose high quality ingredients for your dog food.

Invest organic, cruelty-free nutrition and have a respected authority figure back you up. You will need to prove that your product is what it is. It should be something that cannot be found just anywhere.

The Checklist For That Perfect Local Lead Gen Site

When deciding on the layout of a new website that you have been planning, there are a plethora of options to choose from.

It is my belief that user experience should always come first, above and beyond the need to please Google so that you stand a chance of ranking well in their search engine.

Unfortunately, having a site that ranks well in Google whilst still easy to use and navigate for humans is often a difficult balance to get right.

web-design-content

Luckily, when it comes to local lead generation sites (and I have built a few of those in my time), they can be much simpler and do not require as much content to rank well in Google. See, Google wants to see a LOT of content in order to rank you well in their search engine.

twitter-attentionAnd often, a lot of content is what will often put users off checking out a website.

Consider this for yourself, if you land on a website about Golf as you are looking for a couple of tips before you hit the links and the website has 5,000 words of content – it’s just too much and too overwhelming.

These days, humans prefer short and concise bite-sized snippets of information that we can digest quickly and move on – just consider Twitter.

Which is why local lead generation sites are nice, the competition is less meaning we don’t need thousands of words of content to rank well in Google.

Therefore, we can concentrate more on the user experience and just offer the visitor what they want.

Here is a sample site called Locksmiths United that delivers the point pretty perfectly.

lead-generation-web-design

 

So as you can see, this is a nice and simple web design layout that converts very well I’m sure (I don’t own this site). And as I said above, we don’t need a ton of text as this niche market is not all that competitive and this site sits happily on page 1 of Google.

So here is my checklist for that perfect local lead generation web design:

1. Have a custom logo which you can get from Fiverr for five bucks.

2. Have a call to action phone number in the top right (people are used to seeing this now so will expect it)

3. Ensure you have a web form so you can capture email leads. I recommend Get Response for this.

4. Have some text that pushes the benefit of the local service.

5. Squeaze on some testimonials if you have them.

In short, not too much text and have the above 5 items will get you a nice looking website that converts in to leads very nicely for you or your client.