Namescon - The Week After

Namescon - The Week After

So it’s about a week after Namescon and I’m sitting at my desk still feeling a little sorry for myself due to the jetlag. It’s always a mad scramble after returning from a conference.

Conferences are the place where an incredible amount of business is conducted in a very short time. I could be a bit rude and suggest that it’s similar to other activities in life but I think that I just won’t go there.

Escrow.com

My typical Namescon day began at about 7:15am where I woke up with the sun on my face. I always sleep with the curtains wide open to help shove my body into my new time zone. It may sound stupid (my wife thinks it is anyway) but it seems to help me out.

My first meeting is usually for breakfast at around 8am and I end up with a meeting scheduled every hour until 8pm that night. On the last day the time slots typically dwindle down to 30 minutes. So when I say that it’s a hectic pace, it really is.

I had the strangest feeling when one of my meetings didn’t show up on the last day (they were delayed) and I had 30 minutes spare. I sat down a bit bewildered wondering what to do. It was if the heavens had opened up and blessed me with 30 minutes of my life back. So that I wasn’t letting my son down (he’s part of my team) I played a quick round of “Clash of Clans” on my phone. If any of you play the game then message me and feel free to join my clan. :-)

So what am I really saying about Namescon. It was crazy! There was so much business to do, people to meet and really interesting conversations to be had. I loved it!

A funny thing did happen on the second to last day when Scott Ross, a few other domainers and I saw a whole bunch of hotel security guys go to bust a domainer that tried to abscond with a bunch of donuts. I think that they were hungry….don’t blame them….so were we! I’ve never laughed so much in all my life….precious moments.

So what was it that made Namescon so good? Was it the hotel? The Tropicanna was actually pretty average but I’m happy as long as I have a clean bed and it ticked that box.

Was it the sessions? Perhaps, I heard some great reports from a number of the sessions….I just wished I could have attended more of them. There were some world class speakers presenting and multiple streams to choose from. My ParkLogic business partner attended quite a number of the sessions and on the whole the he thought that the ones he attended were outstanding.

What I found really made Namescon a great event were two things. The organisation was nothing short of superb. The whole Namescon team should be congratulated on their amazing effort….I would like to really thank Matt, Mark and Angie who all helped me get set for one of my sessions. Nothing like dealing with a speaker with special requirements…!

What I did notice was that nothing was too much trouble for any team member….including Jothan, Richard and Jodi. They all worked really hard to ensure that everything flowed as smoothly as possible for the attendees.

Which brings me to what makes a conferences great…..it’s the people that attend. Business is conducted between people and there was just so many great people to meet, get to know and then knock out deals with. I would like to thank everyone that took the time to attend Namescon as ultimately, it’s you that made it an awesome event.

So I’m looking at my calendar for the next 12 months and couldn’t help notice that there isn’t very much in the way of domaining events scheduled. With any luck TRAFFIC will be back in May…..I really hope that I didn’t miss the very last one. I would just love it, if there were three conferences per year that grew to have the impact of Namescon. It’s put the domain industry back on the map in a major way.

Below are a few shots from Namescon to give you an idea of the size and scope of the event.













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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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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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