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

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!

Escrow.com

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!

Continue reading
0
  4401 Hits
  4 Comments
Recent Comments
mgilmour
Many thanks for your kind thoughts and ideas about marketing Battleframe. Thanks for your thoughts on the commenting process........ Read More
20 March 2015
DNSale
Cheers on your release Michael.
20 March 2015
mgilmour
Thank you Mark!
20 March 2015
4401 Hits
4 Comments

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.


 

The plot is fast paced, has lots of action and the novel has a number of twists and turns that I hope really keeps the reader’s attention. I couldn’t resist using the call-sign of “Whizzbang” in the book!

I must admit that there is a certain amount of trepidation in releasing something that you’ve been working on for a long time. If you don’t like it then please go easy on any hate comments…..but if you do like it then cheer me on to release book two as soon as possible! A great comment on Amazon would be awesome as well :-)

I’m also releasing a lot more free content on my website at http://michaelgilmour.com for registered users. So far, I’ve added a map of the world plus a floorplan of a key location. You can also get access to the forum area to ask questions about characters, the plot, setting etc.

Battleframe is available in both ebook and paperback formats. Feel free to click here to purchase a copy. Don't forget to tell your friends about it as well :-)

I want to take a moment to thank all my friends from around the world that have inspired me to keep on writing. If it wasn’t for you and your kind thoughts then I’m not sure if I would ever have completed Battleframe. So thank you one and all.

I would also like to publicly acknowledge the tireless work of my team of beta-readers/editors. They are Roselyn (wife), Timothy (my son), Ray (father) and Laci (best friend). They made suggestions to improve the characters, tightened the plot and made the world of Alpha Three an exciting place to visit. More than that….they fixed a lot of my Engrish. ;-)

I hope that you enjoy reading Battleframe as much as I did writing it.

Cheers!

Battlframe

0
  3850 Hits
  2 Comments
Recent Comments
mgilmour
More than happy to sign one for you :-)
18 March 2015
3850 Hits
2 Comments

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”.

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

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.

0
  2467 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
2467 Hits
0 Comments

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.

Escrow.com

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?

Continue reading
0
  3554 Hits
  3 Comments
Recent Comments
Fred Mercaldo
Excellent article and advice! Very true.
17 December 2014
mgilmour
Thank you for your kind comments. I think that anyone that gets involved with a VC or other investor should do so with their eyes ... Read More
17 December 2014
3554 Hits
3 Comments

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

1
  3582 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
3582 Hits
2 Comments