How to Start an Online Business –
Basic Questions Answered

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: March 11th, 2010

There are a million posts about how to start an online business on the Internet, but they all have an angle of some kind.  They are all pushing a product either directly or indirectly.

I received an email a couple days ago from a woman who had seen me in Next Internet Millionaire and wanted some advice on starting her own home based internet business.

Like many online entrepreneurs she was looking into buying the packages and the programs that promise fast results.  She wanted my advice on how to build a real online business that would make money.

I have purposely refrained from posting links to affiliate programs in this post or recommending specific products.

I am also withholding the emailer’s last name so she does not get deluged with offers from TONS of people out there with programs to offer.

With that said, if you genuinely want to help this person, make a comment below and let her know how to get in touch with you.  Here is her email:

Hi There Thor,

I found you via multiple internet clicks that ultimately landed me on the Next Internet Millionaire.

I watched a little of one of the episodes and you seemed to me to be the most genuine of the lot. That’s all interesting but you’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you.

I’m not looking to recruit you into any screwball thing, I guess mostly I’m looking for some advise / insight. I have my own home based business and I see lots of internet marketing, attraction marketing, magnetic marketing programs online and they all say they are the best.

They all say they have the “secret”. In fact one of your fellow contestants on the show Steve Shuitt along with a guy named Ryan Dunn are selling a “MLM Biz Builder Course”.

Even the show you were on is selling (and I see posted on your blog a contest to win) “The Secret Classroom” program.

I have purchased some of Tim Sales products and on Facebook I see lots of MLM’ers promoting themselves as ‘experts’ but in reality most of them don’t know any more than I do.

I do like Tim Sales approach and his products but other than just being friendly with strangers I’m not sure of the best way to get people who are looking for and open to a real work from home business in front of my product/opportunity.

Essentially how to drive traffic to a website and if there really is a tried and true way to do it on a budget.

I appreciate your feedback and wish you well.

Warm Regards,

Lanelle -Last Name Withheld-

This is what I told her:

Thanks for your email. Your question sounds easy enough, and if there was an easy answer I would give it to you right here. Unfortunately there is not.

Sometimes people online get so focused on pushing traffic to a site that they are willing do do anything, pay anyone, and believe anything to make it happen.

Most of the programs you buy are simply study at home courses that package and present information that is freely available on the Internet anyway. Don’t get me wrong, these packages can greatly speed up the deployment of your product and even increase its chances of a successful launch, but they are not a silver bullet.

There are three things that every business needs – Time, Money, and Differentiation. If you have any 2 of these in great supply, starting your work-from-home business is a snap. If you don’t have time, you can use money to buy other people’s time. If you don’t have money, you can use your own time. If you have differentiation your product is better than all of its competitors and you have either the time or money to let others know about it.

What happens a lot of time is that people get off the Time, Money, Differentiation track and get focuses on buying tools that allow them to get more Time, Money, or Differentiation. Time and Money spent on tools directly takes away from time and money that can be spent promoting your product.

While many people don’t believe it, there is no silver bullet shortcut to getting traffic. It takes time, content, and sometimes money to get your message out there.

With that said, the situation most new online entrepreneurs find themselves in is that they have little or no money, need to make money quickly, and they have an untested or unknown product.

Since there is no silver bullet, the best thing you can do as an entrepreneur is arrange the circumstances to give you the best possible chances of success. There are no guarantees, and the odds are 75% against you – but you know that going into it.

Here are the steps that I would do to get a product up and running as quickly as possible with little or no money:

1. You must have a good product. No amount of traffic, money or time can make up for a flawed product. To be a good, your product must fulfill a gaping need that the public has – whether they know they have it or not. Start with a specific problem that your product will resolve and then focus everything around your product from your marketing, design, videos, audio clips, and imagery toward showing people how your product solves their problem. If you find that your product doesn’t really solve a problem, or its a stretch at best to say it does, save your time and look for another problem to solve.

2. Get something online. Anything. Content first, beauty last. Now that you have a product that solves a real problem, start getting ranked in the search results. Use video, audio, images, local business center listings, press releases, blog posts, tweets, facebook posts, MSN spaces blog posts – anything you can do to get your message and backlinks out there without spamming.

As time goes on your talents and abilities will increase with every post, and every video you upload. You will learn the lessons you could have bought in some of the products you have looked into in the school of hard knocks. As your skills increase, your ability to communicate how it solves the specific problem will increase as well.

Traffic is a function of time because the more content you create the more traffic you will get. As time passes, your older content will gain traction and you will begin to see exponential results. Most online entrepreneurs pump out the content and then fizzle out. Those who keep going are the ones who succeed.

3. Stay Open to Opportunity. Best laid plans rarely work. Businesses are all run by people, and people who run successful businesses adapt to changing circumstances. You could build a year of content only to find that search engines changed a math formula and now all of your content has disappeared from search results. Some people faced with this would quit. Others would look back on their old content, revise it, and re-purpose it into new applications.

Time is never wasted. Old spent time can be used again and again to get results in the present. You just have to be loose enough to realize that things are changing so you can get back on top of the game again – and continue solving problems.

4. Look for Force Multipliers. Never stop talking to other people – especially within your industry. The more you stay involved with others the more you will learn about what they need to make their own projects succeed. You may even find that you can provide a resource to them that they need to help reach their goals. Likewise, the odds they can help you are good as well. By working together you can use all of their old time to push your current efforts while leasing your old time to push theirs.

Imagine how much more quickly you would get your product off the ground if you had three friends who instantly would help you by giving you access to their old time?

I hope this helps in some small way. Good luck!

Schrock Radio Recruitment Advertisement Seeks Computer Repair Technician

  • Comments: 11
  • Written on: March 10th, 2010

Schrock Innovations successfully hired a new Web Development Director last week thanks to a radio recruitment advertisement we ran on KIBZ-FM, The Blaze.

Brian Augenstein was hired away from Phoenix Computers in Beatrice, NE to head the company’s Web Development Division.  Brian is a very promising employee who is laying important groundwork for Schrock’s future expansion into website development, hosting, and application development.

Normally if we would have advertised that position in the paper we would have had to search for the proverbial needle among dozens of applications from unqualified people.

Let’s Do it Again!

The radio recruitment ad worked so well that we decided to run a second one seeking a Computer Repair Technician.  For some inexplicable reason experienced computer break / fix technicians are hard to find in Lincoln Nebraska.

We have had a post up on Craig’s List for weeks, only to get applications from people ranging from auto mechanics to fry cooks.  We can’t hire a poorly skilled technician to work on our customers’ computers, so the next step was to drop an ad in the paper – or try the radio again.

I decided to give radio another try.

What Schrock is Looking For

You can listen to the radio recruitment ad we are running the week here.

In the ad we describe the kind of person we are looking for.  Schrock technicians are never allowed to give up on a problem.  At times this leads us to work directly with developers and engineers at companies like Microsoft or Kingston to resolve problems on the bleeding edge of technical support.

When a Schrock technician is confronted with  an un-patched problem, they don’t quit and wait for a patch.  They become the catalyst that gets the patch created.

In fact, Schrock is so selective about the kind of person we employ that two of our senior technicians have been courted by Google.

This position pays up-to $30,000 annually plus benefits.

How Can I Apply?

If you are a technician who wants to take the next step in your career, fill out an application on Schrock’s website. Its nice to be part of an award-winning team that will challenge you to rise to the next level of performance.

We will not contact your current employer unless you allow us to do so and we will arrange an interview around your work schedule.

Newegg Ships Fake Intel i7 CPUs, Blames IPEX

  • Comments: 4
  • Written on: March 9th, 2010

ZDnet.com is reporting that famed computer component distributor Newegg may have been duped into shipping fake Intel Core i7 Processors to its customers.

Newegg is currently conducting a thorough investigation surrounding recent shipments of questionable Intel Core i7-920 CPUs purchased from Newegg.com.

Initially, the investigation pointed to possible “demo units” that were shipped by accident, however there were some disturbing discoveries that made this quite unlikely.

First, there was an obvious typo on the sticker that identified what CPU was in the sealed box.  The word “Socket” was misspelled as “Sochet”.

Additionally, the hoogram logo in the upper left corner of the sticker was a horrible replica of what Intel normally places in that spot.

On top of that, the manual that comes with the processor (which I freely admit I throw away without reading as I suspect most system builders do) was completely blank inside.

Unless the buyer actually looked through the manual, the fakes would not have been detected.

Newegg made the following public announcement once they realized that these were not “demo units” shipped accidentally:

Initial information we received from our supplier, IPEX, stated that they had mistakenly shipped us “demo units.” We have since come to discover the CPUs were counterfeit and are terminating our relationship with this supplier. Contrary to any speculation, D&H Distributing is not the vendor that supplied us with the Intel Core i7-920 CPUs in question.

Newegg’s top priority is to proactively reach out to all customers who may have been affected to ensure their absolute satisfaction. We have already sent out a number of replacement units and are doing everything in our power to resolve the matter promptly and with the least amount of inconvenience to our customers.

We have always taken pride in providing an exceptional experience for each customer, and we apologize for any inconvenience to our valued customers. We take matters like this extremely seriously, and are working in close cooperation with Intel and the appropriate law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident.

If you recently purchased an Intel Core i7 from Newegg, you might want to dig out that manual you tossed away to make certain you are not one of the victims in this.

Domain Registration Prices Increase July 1, 2010

  • Comments: 15
  • Written on: March 3rd, 2010

I received this email from Go Daddy a few days ago If you have any 10-year domain reservations to make, you should do it before July to save a little money!

On July 1, 2010, VeriSign®, the registry for .COM and .NET, will increase prices – .COM will go up 7%, and .NET by 10%.

The increase will be passed to registrars like Go Daddy and then, unfortunately, to consumers like you.

As of July 1, we will be forced to raise registration and renewal* prices for these two popular top-level domains.

If you wish to avoid this price increase, you can renew your domain names by June 30 and add another year to your current expiration dates. You have the option to register or renew for multiple years and lock in long-term savings. Of course, should you have any questions, please give us a call at 1-480-505-8821.

Schrock Innovations Airs new “Recruitment” Radio Ad

  • Comments: 16
  • Written on: February 17th, 2010

Last December I attended a seminar about the various ways radio advertising can be used to accomplish goals other than simple product and service marketing.

One of the speakers spoke about using radio to recruit new employees rather than the newspaper or a recruitment service – especially when you are hiring for key positions.

Why Use Radio to Recruit Employees?

For one thing, it can be less expensive than the newspaper and is definitely less expensive than a recruiting service.

Schrock is hiring a Web Development Director, and it would have cost us over $900 to place a classified ad in the Lincoln Journal Star for that position.

A recruiter would have charged a percentage of the employees annual salary – typically 10% – which would have been up to $4,000 for this position.

Second, using radio allows us to do more than just look for an employee with an ad.  It also tells all of the station’s listeners that we are hiring, we pay well, and that working at Schrock is a great experience.

While we are reaching out to potential employees, we are also increasing our brand awareness.

Here is the ad we ran for our Web Development Director position.

What Kind of Employees Do You Find With Radio?

The biggest reason to use radio for recruitment is so simple most HR managers miss it.

When you post an ad on Craigslist, in the classifieds, or on Monster you are advertising to the available pool of unemployed workers – or at best un-loyal workers who are always shopping around.

When you think about it, the people you want to reach are the ones that employers have held on to.  These key people have the best skill sets, the highest degree of training, and are competent at what they do.

When you hire from the pool of employed people rather than the pool of unemployed people you get fewer applicants, but the applicants you do get are of a much higher caliber.

So How Much Does a Recruitment Ad Cost?

We ran an ad about 60 times on one local station for about $800.  We had one very qualified applicant, currently employed with a competitor,  on the first day the ad ran.  The ad is still running, so I will post about how it comes out.

Schrock Innovations Seeking
Website Division Director

  • Comments: 10
  • Written on: February 12th, 2010

Schrock Innovations is seeking a Director for our Website Services Division in our Lincoln, NE Service Center.  For the right candidate, this is an opportunity to make a real difference in the way business and non-profit organizations operate every day.

This is a description of what you can expect from the position and what we are looking for in a candidate:

Lincoln’s #1 Computer Repair Company is looking for a charismatic, energetic department supervisor to oversee our Web Development Division.

This position requires excellent customer service skills, a genuine desire to help our clients achieve their business goals, and over-the-top communication skills.

Direct responsibilities for this position include:

  • Meet with web development clients and potential clients to identify needs and create plans to meet those needs
  • Oversee the progress of our coders and ensure their work is meeting the expectations of our clients
  • Customer relationship management tasks
  • The development of a monthly client newsletter
  • Coding minor HTML updates and image changes on client websites
  • Prospecting for potential new clients
  • Working with our service providers on any issues that arise
  • Provide and maintain an organizational framework for the Web Development Division

A qualified candidate must be able to:

  • Work in our Service Center in Lincoln, NE (this is not a telecommute position)
  • Maintain a pleasant, professional demeanor at all times
  • Understand web design business concepts such as hosting, reserving a domain, etc..
  • Develop and skillfully present website proposals for clients and potential clients
  • Edit existing HTML code with the assistance of Adobe Dreamweaver CS3
  • Do basic image manipulation using Adobe Photoshop CS3 (resize an image, change resolution, etc)
  • Work a 45-50 hour work week

Requirements for this Position:

  • Applicant must have a valid driver’s license and current insurance
  • Applicant must pass a thorough background check
  • Experience in coding is a considerable plus, but limited training is also available
  • Experience in business management, project management, or a similar field is a plus

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Applicant will be required to fill in on the Front Desk 1-2 days a week
  • Applicant may be required to answer phones, assist customers, or perform other assigned duties

Compensation:

  • $30,000 to $40,000 annual salary based upon qualifications and experience
  • Bonuses based on achieving specific performance goals
  • 401K retirement package with employer match
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Discounted products and services

If you are the person we are looking for, please fill out an online application on our website.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Win an Apple iPad! Enter Right Now!

  • Comments: 13
  • Written on: February 5th, 2010

You can win Apple’s latest creation, the iPad just by being a part of the nationally-syndicated Living Digital radio show!

The Living Digital show covers today’s technology from cell phones, to 3D TV to your personal computer with a special focus on how your technology impacts your life.

The show airs from 2-5 PM CST on Saturday afternoon and
can also be heard online.

So How Can I Win an iPad?

There are a few different ways you can win.  Each time you complete one of the following actions, you will receive one entry in the drawing for the iPad.  There is no limit to the number of times you can enter, so feel free to enter as often as you like:

  1. Call 1-800-825-5865 between 2-5 PM CST and ask a technology question on the air – Worth 10 entries
  2. Email your technology question for use on the air at thor<.at.>livingdigitalshow.com – Worth 3 entries
  3. Post a valid (not spammy) comment on any post on this blog.  You receive one entry for each comment you post. You must include a valid email address in the appropriate field. – Worth 1 entry per comment
  4. Follow @thorschrock on Twitter and RT this message for a bonus entry every day you are following me! I entered the Living Digital Show Apple iPad giveaway!  You can enter too at http://www.livingdigitalshow.com. #ipad

    – Worth 1 entry per day automatically

How Does the Contest Work?

Entries in the contest will be accumulated between now and the public availibility date of the iPad.

When the iPad is available for purchase, we will buy one and no additional entries will be accepted at that time.

The iPad will be filmed in an unboxing video, repackaged and immediately shipped to the winner (who we will congratulate in the video).

If you are entering from outside the US, please understand that we must comply with duties, taxes, and export regulations that are applicable in your country.

All radio callers, emailers, twitter followers who re-tweet, and comment posters will be aggregated and numbered.  Then a random number will be generated.  The entry that corresponds to the generated number wins the iPad.

How Will the Winner be Notified?

The winner will be notified by email or telephone, depending on the contact information we have available.  The winner will have 1 business day to claim the prize, or we will draw another winner.

The purpose of this contest is to generate interest and callers for the Living Digital show, and that is why the contest has been slanted for callers and emailers unlike the last contest I did a number of months back.

Nearly Half of all Scanned Computers are Infected

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: February 3rd, 2010

The Anti Phishing Working Group reported that in the third quarter of 2009, 48% of the computers scanned for malware were infected with downloaders, password stealers, or other forms of malware.

Their report also indicated a 5.5% increase in reports of first time phishing attempts, with an overall decrease in the number of victims.

This indicates that cyber criminals are working faster to get new phishing sites online, but those sites are being discovered and neutralized more quickly than ever.

The report continues on to indicate that the single greatest problem in the battle against phishing scams is a general lack of awareness among those in the public about how the scams work and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Will 2010 Be the Year of the Slate PC?

  • Comments: 7
  • Written on: February 2nd, 2010

If 2009 was the year of the netbook then 2010 may be the year of the slate PC.

Apple’s iPad tablet device on follows the demonstration of an HP tablet device (also called a slate PC) at the CES.

As the recession hit the US in 2009, computer sales were only 2.8% up in the US as compared to a 24% increase in 2008.  In fact the first three quarters of 2009 were awful for computer sales across the country – until netbooks saved the day in Q4.

The idea of a 10″ touch screen device that has the power of a notebook and the size of a netbook intrigues me.  I can see moving my front desk employees off their desktop PCs and onto iPads or Slates.

Size and Options Mater

I thought it was really interesting that Apple is only introducing the iPad in one size.  Apple is clearly targeting the iPad as a lifestyle device while PC manufacturers are targeting the slate form factor as a flexible and useful productivity tool.

Its almost like apple is lining up another Mac vs. PC battle that they can never win – a proprietary Apple device with a closed software distribution channel and PC with flexible devices with customizable options and a ton of inexpensive software already in the pipe.

It’s all About the Content Stupid

While PC manufacturers will most likely sell many more slates than Apple will iPads, the real money is not in the device its self, it is in the content that is consumed on the device.

Apple will be releasing its new web-based version of iTunes later this year, which will allow Apple users to synchronize their content between multiple devices like an iPhone, and iPod and an iPad.

Apple followed a similar release model with the iPhone.  When the 1st generation phone was released it was lacking in many basic cell phone features (ability to shoot video, picture messaging, etc) yet Apple released it anyway.  They needed to get a device in the market so developers would begin building content.

As the content grew, so did iPhone’s advantage over other smart phones and subsequent versions could be subsidized to include more features because Apple was making it back on the content.

I would expect a similar model for the iPad.  The 1st generation device has no webcam, yet has software handles for video calling for example.  I would expect subsequent revisions of the iPad to add additional features as the content growth allows.

How do you think the iPad will do?

Living Digital Radio Show Debuts Today

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: January 7th, 2010

This afternoon at 2:00 CST Chris Goforth and I will be kicking off a new syndicated radio show called Living Digital.

Many of you know that I currently do a 1 hour show every Saturday at 10 AM CST called Compute This.  Living Digital will be similar in concept to Compute This, but will differ in some important ways.

Compute This is designed to be live and local.  It is specifically designed to service the people of Lincoln and the current and future customers of Schrock Innovations.

Living Digital is designed to have a more widespread focus and cover areas that are influenced by technology, but are not necessarily computers.

For example, Living Digital will cover televisions, cell phones, gaming systems, digital cameras and more.  With all of the new technologies coming out it is easy to become overwhelmed.  The Living Digital Show is designed to make your technology work for you and be more of a help than a headache.

You can listen to Living Digital every Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, NE on http://kfor1240.com (KFOR 1240 AM).  This week the show will be slightly shorter in Lincoln because of Nebraska Weslyean Basketball coverage, but I promise it will be a blast!

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