Namescon - There and Back Again

Namescon - There and Back Again

After the short flight from Vegas, I once again find myself in the Qantas club at LAX dreading the 15 hour flight home. I must admit that I couldn't resist going to qantas.club......it's owned by a domainer. If you happen to be the person that currenly owns the domain then I would highly recommend tha that you get rid of it....but onto Namescon.

In one word, Namescon was brilliant. The entire Namescon team should be congratulated for putting on an event that was incredibly well run. I'm sure that there were a number of mad scrambles behind the scenes but from an attendee and speaker's perspective everything appeared to be calm and controlled.

For example, I had to have a few things changed in the setup of the room for my session and nothing was too much trouble for the support staff.

What really struck me about Namescon was the energy. It was buzzing! I felt like I'd been transported back to 2007 and the heyday of the domain industry. The numbers of deals, buying and selling was incredible. I loved rubbing shoulders with a heap of really smart domain investors who seemed to be inspired with a fresh sense of purpose and excitement.

While I was there it was great to see Barbara and Ray from TRAFFIC (Howard couldn't make it) and here about some of there plans for their own conference. What really struck me was that there seemed to be some sort of coopitition (co-operative competition) between them and Namescon. I wouldn't be surprised if TRAFFIC becomes a very different conference now that Rick's has retired.

Just before my flight is called.....I would like to say that it was really good to see so many of the old domaining crowd make the effort to attend Namescon. Each one of them have an amazing amount of experience and to hear what they are up to is truly inspirational.

Anyway......there will be more when I land in Australia......cheers!

 

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Namescon - here I come!

Namescon - here I come!

This morning started like any other morning other than the fact that I was about to head out to the airport and Namescon. I must admit that I really can't wait to get to see all my friends and meet a whole lot of new people....it should be a breat time!

So what's happened today so far? There was a crash on the freeway so we had a little bit of a delay, I could cope with that. The queue at the check-in was a mile long.....I can manage that. I was directed through to the "hi-speed" line for security....always good but soon discovered that my little blue tray was stolen three times before I could sit my laptop in it.

Immigration was.....how can I say......immigration and now I find myself in my all too familiar seat at the Qantas club in Melbourne. For those of you who have been reading my recent posts....yes, I was at the airport yesterday as well after returning from New Zealand.....you've just got to love flying to live in Australia.

So all I have to do now is assume the foetal position, put on my noise cancelling headphones and pray that the nineteen hours to Vegas somehow mystically ends faster than the clock says it will. I must admit that the best movie on the plane is the picture of the little aircraft traveling to my next destination. If it was through will power alone I think that the A380 would get spurred on by my efforts.

One of the great things about Namescon is that I have the privilege of speaking twice! On Sunday I will be completely unpacking what it means to monetise your domain traffic effectively and the best processes for managing a domain portfolio. There's going to be a HEAP of information and dare I say it but I think that it's going to be pretty rivitting stuff. At the end I plan on having a Q&A so come armed with all of your questions.

On Monday I'll be selecting someone from the audience and building a cashflow for their online business in about 30 minutes and then using the remaining time to actually build the site. It's a tall order but I hope that it will be one of the sessions where the attendees will go away with a lot of great information.

Make sure you sign-up for both my sessions......as it would be really lonely for me otherwise. :-)

Anyway, my flight has just been called so I have to go...see you all there!

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Namescon - The Place To Be!

Namescon - The Place To Be!

It takes me a lot to journey across the Pacific Ocean and even more when it’s in the middle of my summer in Australia. It just so happens that Namescon ticks both of those boxes but I’m still making the journey….so why would I do that?

The first Namescon really took advantage of a gap between TRAFFIC in October and an overly delayed DomainFest. This opportunity, combined with a fantastic team of industry luminaries has powered Namescon from strength to strength.

To date there are over 800 registrants from all over the world attending this year’s conference. The sessions topics look incredible with speakers who are real experts in their fields sharing their incite and knowledge.

I was kindly invited to speak on a session which will involve building an online business from concept through to a 12 month cashflow and final implementation within 60 minutes! I’ll be inviting a person from the audience to share their business idea and then we’ll build the domain out in front of everyone. It’s going to be fast, furious and a LOT of fun!

What I’m really looking forward at Namescon is the fact that the who’s who of the industry will be in attendance. I’ve already found my diary filling up with appointments with people from all over the world. I’ve found that there’s just nothing like sitting across the table from someone to get business really happening.

So despite the beautiful Australian summer I couldn’t resist jumping on another 24 hour plane journey to attend Namescon. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to catch up for a few drinks :-)

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Developing a Domain into a Business – The Financial Plan - Part 3

Developing a Domain into a Business – The Financial Plan - Part 3

Most people know that the finances of a business are a critical in understanding the performance and sustainability of the enterprise. The problem with reports like the profit and loss and balance sheet is that they are all historical. In order to really understand how a business will perform you need to be able to develop a future projecting cashflow.

A number of years ago I was approached to invest in an online business. I was interested enough to show up to the meeting and hear the founders talk about what the business had been doing. I then asked to view the financial projections moving forward….they looked back at me blankly and asked, “What’s that?”

Developing a cashflows in Excel is a great way to help you really come to grips with what is really driving your business forward. Surprisingly, I’ve found that many business owners don’t actually appreciate the underlying metrics which underpin their businesses performance.

For example, I was looking into a business that after doing some quick analysis I concluded that the more it sold the greater the losses! This was obviously not a good situation! The margins were all wrong, the costs out of control and the business was being funded by client prepayments with no thought of delivery. This business was doomed unless drastic action was taken…..sadly, like 80% of start-ups it eventually failed.

So you have your domain name and you’re wanting to develop it into a business. After pondering about the concept for a while I typically send a “flag up the pole” with a few people. In other words, I share the idea of the service and gauge the reaction.

I’m not just interested in what the response is, I’m also interested in the emotional reaction. Is it, “I’ve seen this idea before” or “That is brilliant!”

I then test out a number of different pricing strategies. Should I have a joining fee, cost plus, subscription, advertising etc. Everyone will want something for free but is that sustainable? In some cases it is, because the revenue comes from other sources but most of the time a business has real costs that it needs revenue to offset.

In these discussions I’m constantly gathering information and trying to ascertain whether the business will be sustainable or not. I’m also trying to work out whether the venture is worth my time….more on this in another article.

At some point in the process I begin to develop the first cut at the cashflow. So what does this look like? Seeing that a cashflow is typically forward looking, each column represents a month and the far left column are the items. This then allows me to add a revenue number for each month plus the associated costs.

I personally build a spreadsheet with four different areas:

Assumptions
These are all of the numbers that you are typically making a good educated guess. There will always be assumptions but a good entrepreneur will recognise what the assumptions are and then assess the risk to the business if they are wrong.

For instance, one assumption that I find myself quite often making is the exchange rate. The last time I checked the relationship between the US and Australian dollar was quite dynamic but in my financial model I need to pick a number. In my sensitivity analysis I can then alter the exchange rate to view the impact on the bottom line. In my experience, it’s very easy to think that you are in one type of business only to discover that you’re actually a sophisticated foreign exchange dealer!

Drivers
Drivers are things such as how many subscriptions you are going to sell each month, the total number of subscribers, drop-off rates, marketing channels for new business etc. All of these are non-dollar values and directly impact the monthly revenue and expense lines

Revenue
There can be multiple revenue sources for a business.  For example, you could have multiple types of subscriptions, advertising and content licensing for a quality content based website. All of these figures directly influenced by the drivers.

Expenses
There are two main categories of expenses, those that are directly related to selling (commonly called cost of goods sold) and fixed overheads (offices, hosting etc.). I like to separate these two types of expenses out in my cashflow so that I can then quickly calculate my gross and net margins.

As a general rule, be really careful of fixed overheads. These are often business killing and need to be eliminated everywhere possible. For instance, prior to signing a lease ask yourself the question, “Do I need that office?” You’ll be surprised at how often the answer is actually “no”.

In the next article I will build a cashflow for the sale of my book, “Battleframe”.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.

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Personal Musings - What's Special About Christmas to You?

Personal Musings - What's Special About Christmas to You?

Christmas means many things to different people. For some it's a time of presents, family and holidays while for many others it a time of really feeling the loss of a loved one.

For me, Christmas means many things but tradition would have to be right up there. My family begins the festive season with the getting of the Christmas tree which is celebrated with an American BBQ ribs dinner.....it reminds us all of the great times that our family has spent in the USA.

We attend our churches Carols by Candlelight and normally have an after-party with a lot of our friends. The kids also invite their friends around so the house is normally filled with people.

We typically build a ginger bread house on the 23rd. When the kids were younger, more candy went in their mouths than on the house but not that our eldest is 21 things aren't really that different.

For the last 30 years we've attended the practice of the Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. About 10,000 people attend the practice and it's a great time with friends as we munch on some great food and enjoy each others company.

Lunchtime on the 24th heads us off to my parents house where we have a traditional Canadian Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. I grew up in northern Ontario so the dinner is a bit of a celebration of our time in that great country.

The evening of the 24th my own family sit around the coffee table with bits of nibbles to eat (we're normally stuffed from lunch) and we just talk about the year. I normally read the story of Christmas from the Bible to remind us all what Christmas is all about. After dinner, we rush around getting the house ready for the next day as we listen to the actual performance of the Carols by Candlelight broadcast on national television.

The next day I wake up at 7am (as I'm a big kid I'm always the first up ) and put on a Frank Sinatra Christmas album. We only listen to this album on Christmas day so it's a signal to everyone that Christmas present opening is about to begin!

For lunch we have Roselyn's parents and brother around for Christmas lunch.....which is a BIG turkey dinner. I love it! We normally then head off to my parents for Christmas day dinner but they're not home this year so we'll be home.....most likely topple into bed!

The next day is a day of rest.....plus seeing a movie. This year the whole family is heading off to see "The Hobbit - part 3". I love those movies.

That's a rough run through of my Christmas.....lots of friends, family, fun and of course eating! What I'd love to hear about is what you do for Christmas? Feel free to share it with everyone here in the comments.

In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Michael

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