Monday, September 4, 2006

How We Created a Thriving Online Business

Six months ago, as our first job experience after graduating from college, my best friend and I started an online music store. That made us immediately stand out from the crowd. We haven't started advertising yet, online or elsewhere. We had no prior business experience, programming knowledge, or any idea of how the music industry works. We've made almost every mistake possible. And success has never seemed so easy. Why? We merely applied the essential business principle which seems to be lacking in both the music and Internet communities, and that made us immediately stand out from the crowd.

Having a brand-new business pay both its bills and ours from the very first week was rewarding, but the qualitative benefits are much greater. One of our customers keeps buying records from us (over $150 worth so far) even though she still doesn't have a record player. Bands we don't release ask if they can put our name and logo on their new CDs. A customer of our monthly music subscription service spontaneously started sending us copies of rare music from his collection each month. Every day our inbox is filled with messages which tell us that MeteorCity (our company) is the greatest thing since air travel. Each week a different customer calls or writes us asking if we would like to stay at his or her home. Our customers asked us to release a CD, and now that it's one week from coming out we continuous get calls from magazines and stores telling us that our customers want them to review and carry it. And, as you can imagine from all this, over sixty percent of our customers order from us again--at least once a month.

How did this happen? It's so simple it's amazing. Customer service. We try to respond to each customer individually, and when we get too many orders to do that, we still let them know that they're important--such as by dropping e-mails to let them know that we will answer their questions as soon as possible. We learned how to program, coordinate with distributors, and produce CDs on our own as we went along; but customer service we wielded as our most essential tool from day one.

I wish this was as obvious as it sounds. If it was, our jobs would be much easier. But treating customers well is definitely not a universal maxim these days. I have experienced this on the Internet by ordering from our competitors; almost invariably, they ignore our questions, botch our orders and fail to follow our requests. In the music industry, it's even worse. Stores, labels and distributors seem to try to make it as hard to order from them as possible. In some cases we've simply abandoned going through the official outlets and bought CDs from well-known bands directly through their managers. In other cases, we have to pay large fees for money orders to enable us to purchase sought-after imports. Not surprisingly, our customers are thrilled when they can later get the same CDs from us by just punching in a credit card number. We deal with the ineptitude of the outside world so our customers don't have to.

Perhaps the most amazing thing we've learned, fresh out of college and with no training in any of the areas we're succeeding in, is that the executives we talk to over the phone don't know what they're doing, either. The only difference is that we're more polite.

Our online business has a long ways to go. We have a lot more ideas than money to pay for them all. But tonight, having just received a letter from a girl who was out drinking with friends and then went home to write a long letter to her favorite music store, I'm completely confident that our customers will stick by us and tell their friends about us as we continue to learn.

The Internet connects everyone who's on it, and makes them all equals. We've heard this a thousand times, because this phrase has become part of our pop culture. So why do so many businesses persist on designing their pages and treating their customers as if the customers are merely inessential observers in the whole online experience? The Web is interactive. If you keep this in mind, and interact with your customers in a helpful and friendly way, your small business on the Internet can easily surpass the larger organizations which still haven't grasped this essential Internet principle.

You can view some of the tools used to make a successfull online business at:

About The Author

Scott has been a webmaster since 1996 and has created a number of business and recreational webpages. More free information on how a successfull online business is created can be found at:

The Not So Secret Secrets of Success

Have you ever heard of the "secrets of success"? Many times people are trying to sell you these "secrets" for a very high price! Well, in my five years of Internet marketing experience, I haven't learned any "secrets".

These so-called "secrets" are mostly common sense and hard work. We all know these "secrets". We just have to apply them and use them consistently.

"Secret" #1 - People

Dealing with people can be hard, but we all know we must be courteous and professional. You need to accept the fact that you cannot please everybody. When you come across one of these people you cannot please no matter what you do, just deal with them firmly, but courteously and professionally. Not a "secret"!

MOE Motto -Treat people as you would like to be treated!

"Secret" #2 - Passion

We all know that we need to like we do in order to be really successful at it. If you are interested in pets do not start a business dealing with cars! ;-) Building an online business will take a lot of passion to get through the frustration, obstacles, and other difficulties. There will be many times when we will need our passion to get us through! Not a "secret"!

"Secret" #3 - Customer Service

Another "secret" is to treat the customer with respect and courtesy. It will not be easy to deal with difficult customers this way, but it can be done. I have worn down some of the nastiest customers by a continuing campaign of courtesy, politeness and professionalism!

Each time I dealt with this one lady, she was less and less rude and upset and more relaxed and easy to deal with. Eventually, she was thanking me and praising me for being so helpful and nice. Don't be condescending and don't let yourself get upset. Remain calm, yet be firm and respectful. Not a "secret"!

"Secret #4 - Promotion

To build a business, people must know that you and your business exist. Advertising, promotion and networking are how this is done. Set up a promotion schedule and stick with it. Be consistent. This may get tedious at times, but it must be done!

Write and submit articles, publish an ezine, get listed all over the web, do link exchanges, swap ezine ads, compile a fr~e ebook for viral marketing, subscribe to announcement lists, visit message boards, get involved in discussion groups........there are hundreds of ways of promoting yourself and your online business! Not a "secret"!

"Secret" #5 - Hard Work

Despite what many people have said, it is not easy to "get rich overnight" and "making thousands a week, while doing nothing" just doesn't happen. To be successful you will need to work and work hard. This is where passion for your work comes in! Not a "secret"!

"Secret" #6 - Commitment

Expanding on the hard work "secret", you will need to make a commitment to success. You must be willing to make sacrifices and work long hours. This will not happen could take years. Are you prepared for years of frustration, hard work, ups and downs, dealing with people (good and bad), rejections, and everything else that comes along with building a business? Not a "secret"!

"Secret" #7 - Pride

Take pride in your work. Your work and your business will be a reflection of you. Build your reputation for a solid foundation of success. Be true to yourself and your business. Not a "secret"!

"Secret" #8 - Goals

Be aware of what you want and how you want to get it. Do not go blindly into business without some planning of your goals and accomplishments. Use short term smaller goals to eventually reach your long term ultimate goal of success. Not a "secret"!

So we know in order to start and build a business, we must plan our goals, be prepared for the work and commitment of building that business, and that we must build a reputation of trust and professionalism.

I know we all knew that. It just helps to be reminded once in awhile! ;-)

About The Author

Terri Seymour owns and operates
Learn to publish and promote your own ezine.
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You can contact Terri at

Why the Internet is an Entrepreneurs' Dream

Not long ago, a vacation that entailed travelling across much of the U.S. helped me reflect a bit about my Internet business, and reminded me of the powerful advantages of doing business online. Let's consider just a few of them...

1) Generate Multiple, Self-Sustaining Income Streams

The Internet allows you to generate multiple streams of income that are more or less on autopilot; an advantage which most types of businesses (and jobs) simply don't offer. While I was on vacation, my online business continued to generate paid orders on auto-pilot.

2) Internet Businesses are Portable

As I tossed around the possibility of relocating to the beautiful countryside area that I visited on vacation, I was reminded how most people are geographically tied to their jobs.

Unfortunately, where most people live is largely dictated by where they work. And if they don't live near their jobs, lots of commuting is required, a major headache.

However, if you earn your income online, you have the flexibility of living and working most anywhere that you want, as long as you have Internet access. There aren't many businesses or jobs that give such freedom to choose where you live.

Since you can operate an online business from home, your commute to work may involve nothing more than a leisurely stroll from your breakfast table to your desktop computer. No traffic hassles, office politics, or related headaches.

3) Low Startup and Overhead Expenses

Low startup and overhead expenses mean low risk. If you try opening a retail store, manufacturing plant or other offline business, chances are you'll need several thousand dollars just to open your doors, let alone pay the monthly bills. Not so with an Internet business, which you can start, build, promote and maintain on a shoestring budget.

My basic business expenses include web hosting, Internet access, and a few odds and ends totalling well under $200 a month, yet my web sites generate six-figures yearly.

4) Tremendous Marketing Reach

Of course, one of the greatest advantages of the Internet is the ability to reach huge numbers of prospects for our products and services.

And I'm talking about ethically reaching prospects who are interested in what we have to offer; NOT about sending unsolicited email, or spam, that most of us love to hate.

The Internet is one of the greatest breakthroughs in communication since the printing press, and at the same less expensive and more versatile than virtually any other marketing method.

Estimates on the number of existing Internet users are staggering, not to mention new users who sign on daily.

I could go on and on about the various advantages of an online business, but you get the point. If you've been thinking about starting your own Internet venture, keep the above advantages in mind. They are just a few of many that make the Internet an entrepreneurs' dream.

About The Author

Marty Foley is a successful home business owner and the founder of His Internet marketing techniques and resources have helped set the standard in e-commerce, and have often been imitated by other famous Internet marketers. They can truly help you succeed online: