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. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

Domain Management Video

Domain Management Video

This is the first in a series of videos that are a part of the 10 year anniversary of blogging. The videos released over the next couple of weeks will cover topics including:

  • The Problems With Development
  • Domain sales
  • Traffic domains

Escrow.com

In this video I discuss a number of pertinient domain management topics, including; business models, tracking against goals and the problems of scaling.

I hope you enjoy this series as I share my thoughts about some of the challenges with being a domain investor and more importantly what are solutions that can be adopted.

 

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Interview with Colin Campbell from .CLUB

As a part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations I’m talking with Colin Campbell from .CLUB. Colin is the CEO and one of the founders of .CLUB, and in the video he discusses what's been happening with .CLUB over the past year.

Escrow.com

Colin then shares his thoughts on the controversial pricing increases that some registries have implemented. More importantly for .CLUB domain investors, he talks about why .CLUB is contractually and commercially bound not to follow suit.

This is quickly followed-up by the new startup initiative where .CLUB has purchased a building in Fort Lauderdale Florida for the startup community. They are in the process up fitting the building out and within the next 12 months plan on supporting over 30 startups both with investment and facilities.

I hope you enjoy the easy banter back and forth as Colin and I discuss a wide range of domain investment topics.

Battleframe

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Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Many readers are aware that I recently launched a new business and that I was having trouble enticing customers to the service. It just so happens the business is a new bird bath outside my study window and the customers are birds (the flying ones).

Escrow.com

Although there’s been a lot of funny anecdotes there has also been a serious thread of discussion about how to attract customers to a new business. Every new business has a vision of their ideal customer and a “full proof” plan on how to attract them. The problem is that years of experience has proved plans look great on paper and reality is something else entirely.

For example, I had a great vision of birds flocking to my wonderful bird bath and I would enjoy them singing away outside as they happily splashed away. My reality was a bird bath that was entirely ignored.

The one thing that a start-up has to their advantage is their ability to quickly change direction. If the plan isn’t working, then change the plan. Don’t burn more cash…..move!

In my case, I tried to entice the birds with bread. They loved the bread on the ground and completely ignored the bird bath. I then moved the bird bath. That still didn’t work so I moved it again. I constantly tweaked my “business” with the end goal of attracting my customers (ie. birds).

If a start-up is to succeed, then it must get customer feedback as fast as possible. There is no point in building the ultimate product that no one wants. For those people who tell you they love what you’re doing then ask them the same question with a charge attached.

I’ve seen so many businesses give their products/services away in the name of “market share” only to find that once they try to charge no one wants what they’ve built. A sale isn’t a sale unless ultimately there is a financial transaction attached. Anyone can give a service away…..it’s much harder to sell it.

So where am I at? As can be seen by the pictures I now have multiple different species of birds enjoying the bread and the bird bath. This is important as the different species indicate that I’ve now tapped into not just a single market but multiple different market segments.

Magpie

A start-up needs to quickly classify what customer segments are buying their products/services. This means really paying attention to what customers are buying versus the time wasters and then focusing your efforts to exploit the revenue opportunities.

I should say that my feathered customers are also paying customers. The other day, Roselyn and I woke up to a magpie warbling beautifully outside our bedroom window. That was payment enough for us both. For me, it was wonderful to know that I’d managed to successfully launch another little start-up business.

Battleframe

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10 Year Blogging Anniversary

10 Year Blogging Anniversary

Well, I can't believe it that today is the day of my 10 year blogging anniversary. I would like to thank all those readers that have been so encouraging across the last decade. You have inspired me to keep on writing.

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To say thank you to the entire industry I'm giving away a free downloadable copy of my book science fiction book, Battleframe, on Amazon. Click here to download your copy. Due to Amazon constraints, this giveaway is only available on the 8th and 9th April. I should mention that I wrote this book while travelling to many domain conferences and not surprisingly the central characters name is Whizzbang.

I've also recorded the above video where I share about some of  whizzbangsblog's history and why I decided to start writing. I hope you enjoy watching it and don't mind the enthusiasm I continue to have for our industry.

As a part of the 10 Year Celebrations I plan on releasing quite a number of new videos across this month that will cover a wide range of topics. So tuned tuned!

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Part 4 – Building a Business – Extending the Runway

Part 4 – Building a Business – Extending the Runway

In this article, I plan to pick up where I’d left off in the series on Building a Business. As you may have guessed from the title we will be exploring the importance of generating revenue and why it should be the fundamental goal for the vast majority of businesses. This may seem obvious, but so many entrepreneurs lose sight of the revenue in the quest for building a better widget.

Escrow.com

Revenue is the first part of the profit equation:

Profit = Revenue less Expenses

Many people look on this equation as being obvious without really understanding it in the context of a startup business. For a startup, the equation is all about runway. The less negative the profit is (ie. small the losses) the longer it will take a new business to run out of cash.

You can achieve this by hamstringing the business on the development side by reducing the expenses. This strategy often defeats the purpose of raising capital or being the first to market in a land grab. If you’re initially committed to your expense line, then the only other option is to generate revenue.

This then raises one of the largest challenges for a startup business. Short-term revenue versus long-term success. It’s often the leadership of the founder that empowers the business to achieve both.

For instance, should you go to the market with a half-baked product when you know customers won’t be enamored with the offering? If you launch into the market will competitors see what you’re doing and eventually eat your lunch? What is the PR implications of going to market now? These are just a few of the questions then plague founders.

On top of all this, focusing on revenue can be a complete distraction from the core objective. As a founder, you’ll suddenly find yourself managing a sales team (their often not that fun) who bring nasty things called clients that demand a level of quality from your half-built solution. This will then cause you to think about bringing onboard support staff. In the meantime, the core team wants to know where you are because you’ve been buried in all the noise.

So what gives first? I can tell you that it’s going to be your personal time which is quickly followed by waving good-bye to loved ones as you spend increasingly more time at work. On top of all this, the next board meeting with your investors will make you acutely aware of your shortcomings and the fact that you’re not hitting targets for what they invested in.

Does this sound like fun still? Remember the dreams you had in the bar with a few friends about building something great? Hang on to them and don’t let go as they are often the only way you’ll get through this patch.

What’s the solution to revenue? A number of years ago I watched an episode of the political drama “The West Wing” and the president of the USA was talking to one of his staff members.

President Josiah Bartlet: You got a best friend?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Would you trust him with your life?
Staff Member: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: That's your chief of staff.

It’s a really good job interview for the conditions in building a team and most notably the crucial role of your second in command. Every successful business that I know has been built not by an individual but by a high-powered team.

As the founder of the start-up you can’t be expected to do everything. If you try to then you’ll fail. Get good people around you and delegate the revenue task as the focus of your second in charge. I’ve found that in most start-ups there is low hanging fruit that will unlock some revenue without distracting the core.

Remember, the purpose of doing this is to lower the business’s cash-burn and extend the runway so the core product/service can be released. The danger with this approach is if the founder gets distracted by the revenue and loses focus on the vision….so keep your vision firmly in sight.

In the next article I will continue the discussion on revenue.

Battleframe

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