Do you have any ideas or thoughts on how to better run a business? This is the place for these blogs.

Marketing My Book With No Money – Part 2

Marketing My Book With No Money – Part 2

Since I wrote the last article I’ve sold between one to ten copies of my book Battleframe per day. Not bad when you consider that all my marketing efforts have cost exactly zero dollars. So what’s the next steps?

I’m doing a number of things, all of which are important and all are crammed into the time I have available while I keep on working in my company ParkLogic.

Grow the Content

Marketing is useless unless you are also growing the content on your website. You’ll find that michaelgilmour.com is constantly changing and being tweaked with upgraded graphics, new articles, forum posts and anything that would be of interest to a potential reader. I’m also encouraging people to sign-up to the website by providing free maps of key locations from the book, news updates and access to the forum area.

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I’m the first person to say that I’m not an SEO expert but there is one thing I know and that’s Google loves regularly updated content. In fact, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to SEO….just give Google what it wants and be done with it!

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Developing a Domain into a Business - Marketing With No Money

Developing a Domain into a Business - Marketing With No Money

A number of weeks ago I promised to discuss how I was going to market my new scifi book, Battleframe, as a case study for any online business. To make it a little harder I’ve decided to not spend any cash on advertising other than from what my book brings in….this will mean that I’ll need to do some creative thinking.

Friends and Family
When launching any new business the first port of call is to sell your product or service to friends and family. Some people feel a little guilty about doing this but I personally believe that if you’re part of a family then you need to support one another.

For example, my brother launched a wine importation business and I was one of his first online customers. So in launching Battleframe I contacted my family and hit them up to buy my book!

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Wider Business Contacts

Each one of us has developed a network of colleagues that are just looking for an excuse to help you out. When you’re launching a new business or product this is the group that will cheer you on and often provide some very sage advice.

One of the great things about the Internet and the domain industry is that over the last fifteen years I’ve developed a huge network of friends all over the world. I count them as friends because I would like to think that our relationships have transcended just business.

So what have I done so far? I’ve let everyone that pays attention to my linkedin, facebook, google+, twitter and my blog know that I’ve just written a science fiction book. The result is a lot of congratulations combined with some sales.

I must admit that the flood of good will towards me has been really humbling. I would really like to thank everyone for their good wishes. Thank you, thank you and thank you yet again!

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My Scifi Book Battleframe Released on Amazon!

My Scifi Book Battleframe Released on Amazon!

  After nearly 2 years of writing, rewriting and correcting I’ve finally published my debut science fiction book, Battleframe. It was an incredible experience clicking a button and then a few minutes later seeing it appear on Amazon! It was almost like Sheldon and Leonard in the sitcom “Big Bang Theory” when they published a paper together!

For all of you that have been wondering what the book is about here is the synopsis.

Battleframe

20150316 battleframe 240x400 kindlepaperResource rich planet Alpha Three becomes the focus of a galactic wide conflict. In the midst of a remorseless Scourge invasion a lone human battleframe pilot, call-sign Whizzbang, strives to find and rescue his closest friend from the invaders.

With the extermination of the human colony seemingly inevitable, Whizzbang's squad of veteran pilots struggle to turn the tide of the war. Just when he thinks they may have a chance, members of the squad begin vanishing before his eyes and the odds of winning the battle become slim to none.

The mysterious nano-robots, unknowingly developed by an alien intelligence, appear to be all that will enable humanity to survive the onslaught. But all is not what it seems as the micro-machines begin to dramatically transform Whizzbang's friends in astounding ways.

Safe within his command dome, the enemy General plots on how he can cover the world in the enigmatic Barrier, a force that kills humans in seconds. It is then that Whizzbang discovers that the Earth may be the next Scourge target.

Book one in the “Mindwars” opens with our galaxy in turmoil and humanity on the brink of extinction.


 

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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.

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Developing a Domain Into a Business - Part 2

Developing a Domain Into a Business - Part 2

Raising investment money is often seen as the “holy grail” of many budding entrepreneurs. After all, once you have the investment then the worlds your oyster! This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A number of years ago I had a business partner that was absolutely convinced that our company needed to go and raise some capital. I told him that he could go and try doing that if he wanted to…..and I would just grow the business. In the end he didn’t raise the capital and we still had a successful business.

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I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to raising capital. It’s the old cliché, “When you need capital you can’t get it and when you don’t need capital investors want to throw it at you.”

Let’s imagine you have one of those incredible businesses where you believe an investor would have to be crazy to not invest. A common practice for VC’s at any level is to believe your “conservative” cash flows and then add a ratchet to the shareholders agreement.

So what does this mean?

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Developing a Domain Into a Business - Part 1

Developing a Domain Into a Business - Part 1

So you’re all excited about developing that really special domain name and you’re wondering what the first steps are. Most people immediately jump into getting a website up….whatever you do this is the completely wrong approach!

In this article I want to touch on a number of things that I look for in start-up businesses and then as the series progresses discuss how to actually build a successful business. I've founded many successful startups and there is nothing quite as satisfying as creating something from nothing.

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I've found that successful businesses typically start with a well thought out business plan. The technical implementation of a website is only one small but important aspect of the plan. The first thing that you need to work out is how you’re going to make some money. You may only have a vague concept about how you are going to do this but nevertheless, get it down on paper!

For example, I love writing my blog on the domain industry, business and even my weekly personal musings. From my very first article I had a clear direction that it would be an advertising based business....it may seem obvious but there are many other things that I could have done. Speaking of which....reach out to me if you are interested in advertising!

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What's Your Business Model?

What's Your Business Model?

It’s critical that every one of your domains has a business model associated with it so that you can make appropriate decisions about how to best increase their value or realise there value.

So what are the business models that I use?

Traffic domains – these domains are those that receive traffic and are monetised. The key is to extract the maximum value out of the traffic each and every day.

High Value domains – These are more often than not two letter or single word domains – for example, ab.com or vodka.com. These are the “rainbow” domains….in other words, if a large corporate decides to buy one then you’ll get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I would highly recommend that you outsource these domains to a qualified good broker who knows how to create a market.

Stock Items – These domains are often multi-word domains and should all be priced and ready to sell at sub $1,500. You may get more…..which is great but it’s all about moving the stock. The ultimate goal here is to sell around 3% of your domains per year.

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My 10 Rules For Doing Deals

My 10 Rules For Doing Deals

My daughter is in the process of trying to find her first car…always a great experience! She went and looked at one with a friend and instantly fell in love with it. “Dad, this is the best car in the world! I have to have it!”

I openly admit that I know nothing about cars….computers….we’ll that’s another thing. So Sarah returned to the seller’s house to place a deposit on the vehicle but this time she took a friend’s father who happens to be from the automotive industry. It took him ten seconds to glance at the car and say, “No.”

This raises the point, if you want to invest in diamonds don’t ask the butcher for advice, ask the jeweler – it’ll save you a packet! I have domain investors coming to me all the time with a wide variety of deals that they’ve been offered to ask my advice on whether it’s a good deal or not. If you’ve been in the industry as long as I have then you never get surprised by the garbage that some people try to sell at incredible prices.

My 10 rules of buying:

  1. Never buy when I feel pressured and take your time to think it over.
  2. Good assets are worth the price, you just need to find the good assets.
  3. You can ask whatever you want but I’ll pay the price that I’m offering.
  4. Telling me over and over again how good something is will not change my mind. If it’s a dog it’s a dog, if it’s not then it’s not.
  5. Fancy deals normally end in tears….keep it simple.
  6. If it looks too good then it probably is.
  7. Go for repeatable income not just look out for the big one offs.
  8. Investigate the person selling the asset as much as the deal itself. If they’re right then the majority of the time the deal will be fair.
  9. Never do transactions, do deals where everyone wins and both parties will want to do business together into the future.
  10. Get good advice and then make up your own mind.

Do you have any rules that you use in your own deals? Please add them in the comments below.

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Being An Entrepreneur

Being An Entrepreneur

For the past 30 years I’ve been building businesses and the majority of them have been in the Internet industry. As fate would have it I was talking to a friend of mine last night on skype and he was lamenting the pain of his new startup. Investors didn’t invest what he really needed and technology wasn’t coming together fast enough. All the typical birthing pains associated with a new venture.

If you’re looking at your domains and thinking to yourself, “I really need to start developing some of these” then be ready to go through some tough times. It’s never easy doing something new and what you think is a great idea, other people will trash.

Which brings me to another point. Over the years I've found that the worst sort of people in the world are those that cheer you on no matter what. For example, my wife and I had to give our daughter a bit of tough love near the end of her final year in high school. Essentially it boiled down to, “Don’t be an idiot!”

She came back and told us we weren’t very supportive and that we needed to be more encouraging. I thought about it for a few milliseconds and replied, “People will cheer you on as you leap over the edge of a cliff, we’re not those sort of people honey.”

Now that she’s passed her exams and been accepted into university she’s told us that our advice (which was really tough) was the best advice she’s ever received.

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Cutting the Grass

Cutting the Grass

A few minutes ago the doorbell sounded and upon answering it I discovered our friendly lawn mower man smiling back at me. In my opinion his dark sun tanned wrinkled face had seen altogether too much of the Australian sun but that was his job and he loved it.

During the few minutes of idle banter I remembered that we had a now thoroughly dead Christmas tree down the side of the house that needed removal. I asked him if he’d take it away and he quickly replied, “Not a problem but there is a disposal fee of $10.”

I know that the local council will charge something but it’s nothing like $10. Despite this I quickly replied, “Not a problem!”

So why did I do it? The value in not having my wife Roselyn ask me to remove the tree was worth more to me than the $10. For that matter he probably could have asked for $15-$20 and I would have agreed! My problem would have been at that price Roselyn would have made me do the tip run the following year with the pine needles from the dead tree filling up my sports car. She pays the bills in our family and there’s nothing getting past her.

From our mower man’s perspective he normally gets $35 per cut so he’s just dramatically increased his take from his client. It works out really well for him, for me and that’s what business is all about.

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