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.

Escrow.com

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!

I was recently approached to invest in an online business and the first question I always ask is, “How are you going to make money?” This seems an obvious question but believe it or not it’s often forgotten in the excitement of getting a pretty website up and running. If you can’t answer the question then stop whatever you are doing and work on that problem because it impacts everything else that you do.

The second question I end up asking is, “How fast can you earn your first dollar?” Like the first question this one is vital as it helps scale how big an investment you require to really understanding if you will actually have any customers.

Once again, I see many budding entrepreneurs believe that they need everything nailed down, automated and working at peak performance. I personally don’t really care about many of those things. I’m more interested in them actually earning the first dollar.

Jeff Bezos started processing his first online payments by literally taking a disk out of one computer and walking it across to another computer. He nick-named this sneaker-net. He didn’t have all of the automation in place but he knew how to collect the money…..the automation came later.

So I come back to the question, “How fast can you earn your first dollar?” Forget all the bells and whistles. I want to know how long it will take you to get a client to buy your product or service. From an investment perspective this proves so many things about your business:

1.    That there is a market.
2.    The really basic technology works.
3.    Your product/service works.

Once you have this in place then it’s just a question of scaling.

It’s like me with the science fiction book that I’ve written called “Battleframe”. I’ve never written a book before and it’s been quite a journey but now that I have my product I need to think of innovative ways of getting it into the hands of customers. I need that first customer that I’ve never met before (ie. not a friend) to buy the book and say that they enjoyed it. Once everything’s in place I then need to scale…..and write book two!

A number of years ago I met a domainer that had built a website into a business. They’d spent $6m on it before they had earned a penny. I must admit it that I just don’t get this mentality. What happens if the market rejects your product? You’ve just spent $6m on something that is pretty worthless.Once you’ve answered my two above questions then you need to answer the third one, “Do I really need any investment.” I’ll cover this in the next part in the series.

---------------------------------------------------

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.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

  3511 Hits
  2 Comments
Recent Comments
mgilmour
You are exactly right with this comment.....I debated about covering it in this article and decided against it. Many venture capit... Read More
12 December 2014
3511 Hits
2 Comments

Saturday Musings - Life in Four Buckets

This past week I was talking with my two adult children, Tim and Sarah, about life and how I manage to choose and allocate my time to what I do. I love these conversations and find that they are some of the most precious and special times with my children.

We ended up speaking about goals and how to managing some of the conflicting opportunities that life presents. For example, should you go for money now or education? This is when I began to speak to them both about my buckets.

I think of my life in terms of four buckets. The first bucket is my short-term bucket and it’s for things that put food on the table now. This bucket often has things in it that I don’t like doing but like any job it isn’t all bad. When you don’t have a penny then this is the place that you need to focus on to make sure that you aren’t forced to go on a diet by the bank.

I then have my medium-term bucket. It’s where I go to find projects that may last for a few years or less. It’s the place for things like finishing a degree, writing a book or launching a business.

The third bucket is my long-term bucket. When I look into this bucket I see things that are on my “bucket list”. For instance, I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly and a few years ago I achieved this goal. It was firmly in this bucket. I have a quite a number of life goals in this bucket and when I pull one out to achieve it I end up getting an incredible sense of satisfaction.

Then there’s the last bucket. This is what I call the eternal-bucket. This can sometimes be known as the “faith” bucket but I think that it’s broader than that. It’s about what I’m doing now that will either positively impact generations or develops my personal character. We all have failings that need to be worked on. If you've tried to change something about yourself you will have found this bucket has really hard tasks in it!

In my discussions with Tim and Sara I suggested that they always need to work on all of their buckets. They may need to change their emphasis and focus but keep on nudging all of them.

In other words, you may have to focus on earning money now to pay down a debt but don’t neglect the fact that you may have always wanted to write a book, scuba dive and give some time to your community. You may not have a lot of time but write those hundred words, research online about diving and pay for the groceries of the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket.

For example, I suggested to Tim that he needs to get a part-time job to pay for his living expenses but don’t get a full-time job. Why you may ask? He wants to write a book about his recent adventures so a full-time job would make this more difficult. I also suggested he complete his degree part-time as it may contribute to some of his more long-term goals. Finally, attend church as it’s one of the few places that really focuses the mirror on developing your character.

It will be interesting to see what Tim chooses to do but I’m confident that he’ll make a series of decisions that are right for his own buckets. The problem comes when people don’t make decisions for themselves but let other’s do it for them.

My buckets really help me and I hope that you find the analogy useful in sorting out your own life goals and desires. Have a great weekend!

  2790 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
2790 Hits
0 Comments

End of Year Recap

A video reflecting on a number of projects, conferences and domain events in the last few months of the years. Topics covered include ICANN, managing domains and even the upcoming release of my new scifi novel!

I hope that you enjoy it and feel free to add your comments!

  2221 Hits
  0 Comments
2221 Hits
0 Comments

Buying and Selling a Traffic Portfolio - Part 6

In the previous five parts in this series I’ve covered a lot of ground on how to better buy and sell a domain traffic portfolio. In this article I’m going to expand upon the “Domain Risk Index” (DRI) which is a tool that helps you make better buying and selling decisions.

We developed the DRI as a domain and portfolio analysis tool a number of years ago for ParkLogic clients. In summary, the Domain Risk Index (DRI) mashes together about twenty different metrics to produce an index between 0 and 100. Zero represents HIGH risk investment and 100 is a NO risk investment.

Escrow.com

The various metrics are weighted according to their impact on an investment’s return. Investors are typically interested in stable returns and the index allows them to gauge the amount of risk that they would like to take on.

What we then did was take a large sample of domains that statistically represents the Domain Industry and graph the results on a chart over time (orange line above). The blue line represents the ParkLogic account owner’s performance on the scale.

Domain Risk Index

As can be seen from the sample chart there was a surge in stability at the beginning of October that has now tapered off into a time of instability. This needs to be viewed in light of the fact that the peaks and troughs are from 54 to 58 on the scale.

So what’s the point in all of this? Let’s image that you have a portfolio of domains that you are wanting to sell that is around 80 on the scale. This means that from an investment perspective it is MUCH less risky compared to the typical industry portfolio. This then logically translates into you being able to ask more money for your portfolio than the typical industry sale.

For example, if the industry is typically selling a portfolio for 2 years revenue then you now have a justification for why you should be asking 3-4 years revenue. It’s playing the capital value game with good solid independent metrics behind it that gives both the buyer and the seller that they are getting a good deal.

So what else can you view as a part of the DRI? We also provided some of the additional metrics that make up the DRI. For example, if you would like to see what is happening on EPC trends for the industry versus your account then it’s a button click away (see below).

For the trend graphs, anything above 50 means there is an upward trend anything below 50 means it’s trending downwards. The higher above 50 that greater the increases in the trend and reverse is true if the chart is well below 50.

EPC Trend

As can be seen from the EPC trend chart there was a surge in higher paying EPC rates at the end of October that is likely due to the rush up until Christmas. What’s interesting is that this sample portfolio did not experience the same impact (blue line).

What’s great news for domain owners is that the CTR trend also increased at the same time and as can be seen from the chart the domain owner experienced an uplift in CTR.

CTR Trend

 

By using some of these charts a buyer can purchase portfolios when the trend lines are down and sell when they are high. This is similar to what many of us do with our stocks. Buy low, sell high.

There’s a lot of information tied up with DRI and its charts. Further information on the definitions is available under the DRI Terms and Definitions link below the chart.

Over the years we’ve found that buyers and sellers that use tools like the DRI have an informational advantage over others in the market. This allows them to make smarter selling and purchasing decisions and take advantages of the fluctuations in pricing.

---------------------------------------------------

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.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

  2705 Hits
  0 Comments
2705 Hits
0 Comments

Interview on Domain Name Wire

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire and this Podcast is now available via the link below. I really enjoyed discussing the domain industry with Andrew as we explored a wide range of topics.

Some of the topics include:

  • The domain industry
  • Why Google is taking more
  • How to increase the earnings from your domain traffic
  • Doing something different with your domains
  • Why you will lose money by sending all of your traffic to a single parking company
  • The difference between parking companies

It was great being interviewed by Andrew as he asked some really inciteful question. He's been blogging and running Domain Name Wire for many, many years and has an incredible level of knowledge across the whole industry.

Click here to go and listen to the Podcast

---------------------------------------------------

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.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

  2696 Hits
  2 Comments
Recent Comments
mgilmour
Good question Peter. I've been in a variety of businesses, everything from: - The music industry - Riding the Desktop Publishing r... Read More
02 December 2014
2696 Hits
2 Comments