Online Business Benefits Pt 1

When you have your own Online Business (OB), you have benefits that put your business in a category distinctly separate from a Bricks and Mortar (B&M) business. In order for you to realize what these benefits are and how they distinguish your online business from a B&M, I’m going to go over some of the obvious and a few of the less obvious.

A B&M business is located in a fixed location, it has no mobility so, if it turns out to be a poor location or if the area it is located undergoes an economic decline, you are toast and there is nothing you can do to turn the situation around in your favor.

An OB, however, is located anywhere and everywhere and is not subject to anything like the issues facing a B&M business. It is not a business where you have to stand behind a counter all day long waiting on customers that come in your door.

Online, you don’t need to be available. You can set up a facility which enables visitors to your website to get answers to any questions they have on a web page you provide listing answers to frequently asked questions. You may also enable customers to submit any questions not answered on your website by sending you an email detailing their question, one which you’ll answer by email within 24 hours.

Geographic Location
Again, a B&M business is in a permanent place. You can only leave it to take care of personal activities, take a vacation, to obtain education such as a seminar if, you have someone else to take over in your place, or are willing to close the B&M business during your absence. Neither of these may be possible nor advisable, especially when you are in a startup mode.

Having a B&M business can be like having a nail in your foot.

With an online business, you can operate it with nothing more than a computer, yours, or even one that you access in an internet café anywhere in the world. You have the freedom to attend to personal activities, take a vacation or even travel to educational seminars, etc.
The softwares and processes by which anyone can accomplish this are available in the marketplace for moderate costs
To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 20/10

Your Business – A Blog Recap

This is a good time to recap the blogs I’ve done on the subject of business so far to serve as a reminder of the topics I’ve covered for those of you that have read from the beginning and for those of you that are just joining in and haven’t read all of the past weeks blogs.

I’ve been covering a few of the things that you should consider and some of the common problems people like you face when thinking about opening a business online and these have included:-
•    A look at where your POWER comes from.
•    Ask yourself WHAT DO YOU WANT?
•    SO WHAT DO I KNOW – what knowledge can you use to create a business?
•    DO YOU WANT SOMETHING FOR NOTHING? What are you willing to contribute to the objective of starting a business?
•    ISN’T THERE AN EASY WAY TO START? Start at the beginning.
•    AN EXAMPLE OF A BASIC BUSINESS. One you’ve benefited from but may never have thought of as a business.
•    CHOOSING YOUR BUSINESS and WHICH BUSINESS – 4 blogs covering some critical essentials you should think about.
•    BUSINESS BRAINSTORMING – 5 Blogs that describe a process you can use to come up with an idea for a business.
•    SEARCHING FOR A BUSINESS – 4 Blogs describing precautions you should consider when entering into a business.
•    YOUR BUSINESS – PROTECTING YOUR ASSETS. Not you business assets, your PERSONAL ASSETS. 4 Blogs on the precautions you need to consider if you and your family have personal assets, assets that may be at risk due if any misfortune strike your business. I included this information not to make you worry but to educate you and encourage you to think about this. It’s much easier to concern yourself with this subject up front, very difficult when you confront a situation.

If you haven’t read or if you skimmed over any of these subjects, I urge you to take a few minutes of your time to review them again.

See you tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 17/10

Your Business – Protecting Your Assets Pt 4

Of course, you are under no obligation whatsoever to take any action that protects your assets from potential litigation – some turkey suing you but, taking precautions, its good thing.

The problem is that no one seems to take responsibility for their own actions these days. When something goes wrong in their life, the first action many take is to look for someone else to blame. That leads to a lot of lawsuits attempting to hold some other party accountable for the issue.

All I’m advising is that, as unlikely as you might think it, someone could elect to sue you for an action they’ve taken based upon something you sold them, one that hasn’t worked out the way they thought it would.

Any protection you can apply to your assets protects them from any lawsuit that you lose. If you have the money, consult an experienced lawyer that can advise you what is best in your case. If you don’t have any assets, you don’t have to worry about losing them.

You can incorporate your business. Such a business shields all that you own personally from any debts and obligations that the business incurs. Again, you would need to consult an experienced lawyer that can advise you how to proceed. Incorporating a business does cost money and it obliges you to file forms and periodically submit reports on your business to designated agencies on an ongoing basis. This may be a choice you could consider.

Regardless of what route you take, make sure it is one that you are comfortable with or take steps to change your status if your situation changes. For example, you might start small but enjoy rapid success and that could warrant you making a change.

“None is so perfect that he does not need at times the advice of others.” Baltasar Gracian

More tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 15/10

Your Business – Protecting Your Assets Pt 3

If you are starting up a sole proprietorship it will take you a period of time to build up a list of potential customers so your risk is minimal as long as –
•    Your treat customers fairly.
•    Don’t promise that your product or service will make them rich or change their lives from dreary to outstanding.
•    Don’t promise anything that you can’t guarantee; the success that anyone has with a product or service has much to do with how they behave, learn, and apply what they know.
•    You deliver more than you promise.
•    Back up anything you sell with a willingness to refund their money or provide them with a discount on future purchases if they aren’t entirely satisfied with your product or service.

If you are buying out an existing business, be sure to have it reviewed by a professional audit firm or a certified accountant. Whoever you choose, they should have experience, they must satisfy you that they have done this type of audit before and are therefore able to conduct the review to your satisfaction before you commit yourself to the purchase.

Should you contemplate going into partnership in a new venture or in an existing venture, the same holds true. If it costs you money and you find out that the partner you’re considering has hidden liabilities that you could have become responsible for as a partner in the business, consider your money well spent – it has saved you a considerable cost in both money and aggravation.

There are other avenues you can explore, the purchase of insurance, or the segregation of your personal assets by putting them in your spouse’s name. It won’t cost you much to look into ways you might protect yourself, a lot less than you might have to pay later.

To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 11/10

Your Business – Protecting Your Assets Pt 2

Let’s assume that you find an existing business for sale that meets your needs. If you don’t have it’s financial status thoroughly examined by a certified third party, such as an audit firm that has some experience in this area, you could very well find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit that could result in you losing everything you owned before buying the business.

No, I am not trying to discourage you in any way. I only want you to realize that doing a little work up front can save you a great deal of grief later. As the adage goes;
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

At worst, you’ll learn some valuable lessons for a minimal cost and you might find that the business you’re considering is even more valuable than you originally believed.

You can also consider modeling your own business, basing what you do on an existing business. In other words, copying what you see as successful techniques the business is using in its operation. This is one way of avoiding the possibility of assuming responsibility for any liabilities a business you consider buying may have incurred.

I am not advocating that you rush around copying every successful thing you believe a competitor is doing. That would not be ethical and, consider, your reputation is like gold – you want to do everything possible to assure the strength of your reputation and your integrity. Also, unless you are a customer of a business, you’ll never see all of the marketing techniques that the business is using to appeal to their customers.

But I’m getting off track here. The main point I want to emphasize is that taking on any new or existing business where you are the sole proprietor, or any new or existing business where you are going into a partnership with another party requires that you know what you are getting into. It requires that you realize you are putting everything you own at risk in the event anything goes wrong.

Don’t let this scare you off but be aware that this is your reality and take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself and your assets at the outset of your business adventure.

To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 09/10

Your Business – Protecting Your Assets

I am not a lawyer. I am not a tax consultant. I am not a registered financial advisor. I am only acting as your guide to information that you may find of value in setting up or expanding upon any business.

Advice that I provide is strictly my opinion based up on a lot that I’ve experienced, heard, read and seen. It is your responsibility and yours alone to ensure that any actions you take as the result of any advice you read in my blog conform with the law in your part of the world. Also, only take actions after you have conducted your own examination of the circumstances and have determined that taking any action you’re considering is in your own best interests.

You have the choice of setting up a business in a number of ways, depending on where you live. Common entities include a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or an incorporated business. You would do well to keep in mind that any sole proprietorship (a business entity where you are the sole owner) and any partnership (where you and one or more other people are equal partners in owning and operating the business), the law does not differentiate between assets held in the business such as product, land, property or your personal property held outside of the business.

This means that in the event you find the business being sued by anyone who believes they have been wronged, your own personal assets are subject to seizure to fulfill any legal settlement. Your house, your car, your collectibles, your savings, and those of your spouse, unless they have been legally protected under a separate name.

I can’t think of a better reason to perform your due diligence then in the event you are invited to be a partner in an existing business. The person you enter into partnership with may have already racked up some huge debts on his or her own, stuff they neglect to tell you about.

Once you become a partner in such a business, you become liable for all obligations of the business and, the law usually allows creditors (people/businesses to whom money is owed) to come after whichever partner has the assets to pay. In this example, you’re it!

The same holds true in the event that you buy an existing business. When a large corporation buys out another it conducts a detailed audit of their books. The objective of the audit is to make sure beyond any doubt that the value of all assets held by the business is true and that there are no undisclosed liabilities before completing the purchase.

As an individual purchasing an existing business, you had better plan to do the same and have the books audited by an independent and registered authority. Your brother-in-law, the accountant is probably not the right person for the job. Unless he is working in this specialty area, he might well overlook something that could lead to your ruin.

To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 08/10

Searching for a Business Pt 4

One of many things you want to keep in mind when starting up a business or entering into any agreement with another party to share in the ownership of a business is that, depending on the type of business it is, you may be putting any and all of your assets, ones that have nothing to do with the operation of the business at risk.

It is a fact of life that if a customer believes they have been misled by you in some way that resulted in them losing assets or not realizing the achievement of something that you implied would result from their efforts, they might be inclined to sue you to recover the value of any loss plus seek damages for what they perceive is injury done to them.

I’m not saying this with any hope of discouraging you but simply to warn you that this could happen and that forewarned is forearmed.

Neither I nor anyone else can promise you that you’ll achieve a positive outcome when you open a business because each of us is different, the effort each of us invest in any job is different, the circumstances of each of our lives is different and the 80/20 rule is always in force.

The 80/20 rule in this case is that 80% of new businesses fail in their first 5 years and 80% of the ones that remain after 5 years will fail in following 5 years. Another way of stating this is of all the businesses started up in 2010 fewer than 5% will still be around in 2020.

Tomorrow I’ll talk a little more about what you need to do to protect your assets, particularly when you are becoming part of an existing business.

Not very encouraging I know but, by performing your due diligence at the outset, you will improve your chances of your business being amongst the 4% in ten years.

To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 04/10

Searching for a Business Pt 3

There are a number of ways you might become involved in a business. For instance, a friend or family member might invite you to participate in an existing business they are operating. In return for some expertise that you bring to the business, they are willing to offer you a stake in the business or perhaps a partnership.

You will be inclined to trust a situation like this more because you know the person and may be close to the person but, do not allow yourself to become involved before you perform some due diligence, which means that, you want to be confident that there is a place for the business to succeed or that the business is already successful beyond any appearance of success, and there are no issues.

I don’t want to put you into an uncomfortable position with a family member or a friend but, before you start contributing your knowledge, your experience, your time, and your energy to any project, you must be certain that you have researched it enough to know what you are getting involved in. I have no doubt that there are many, many people who wish that they had taken the time to examine a business situation further before they became involved.

Google the business, google the person, have a third party, preferably a registered auditor take a look at the business before you make any commitment of time of money. Google the competition. Not only will this relatively small investment of your time and money be worthwhile, especially in the event serious problems are uncovered, you may be able to learn some good things about the business in the event it turns out to be a good one to become involved with.

If your friend or family member protests, saying something like, you don’t trust me, consider. Your time and your money are very valuable to you. Any money you may have likely did not come to you easily and will require a lot of effort to replace. Your time cannot be replaced, once used, it is gone forever so, consider yourself first, and before you put your assets at risk. Test, examine, and ask questions.

To be continued.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 03/10

Searching for a Business Pt 2

Continuing on from yesterday’s blog, let’s suppose you find that there are a number of competitors in your area of interest. You do want to see this but it doesn’t mean that you are going to be okay. It means that you have a real life source of information you can study to identify the best and the worst of what is being offered by others and, you are going to use this information to strengthen your position as a competitor.

You must learn some things about the products and services and the businesses competing in this area, and their marketing methods before you start up your business, otherwise you risk making mistakes that may cost you everything.

Experiment by reading and/or subscribing to any information such as blogs, newsletters, weekly tip sheets; anything that your competitors are publishing. You’ll get on their email lists this way and over a period of weeks you will start to get a good idea of their offers, their marketing, their guarantees and their after sales service.

You want to use this opportunity to gather information that will guide you to making improvements in what you will to offer in the way of free information, a product, a service, a warranty, after sales service, the price points for similar commodities offered by your potential competitors, and any other information you can use to enhance your product or service.

None of us got to wherever we are today without the help of others. Observing how others are operating a business like the one you are planning to compete in will help you to choose things to do and, things not to do and, improve your chances of success.

Do not make the mistake of falling in love with what you plan to offer and how you plan to market it because it is likely that somebody is already selling a product or service that is as good, or better, than yours. Even if they offer something inferior to what you have, if their marketing is great, they’ll run circles around you.

Instead, you want to learn as much as you can about the competitors out there, their products and their marketing and, work to develop your marketing and your product or service at least to the point where you are on equal ground or, you are offering some incentive(s) to have people buy from you that differentiates you in some positive and appealing way.

More to come.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 02/10

Searching for a Business

There are a number of methods you can use to choose a business and I’ve just covered the subject of brainstorming in my last 5 blogs. This is a very useful way of getting at the solution to any problem you might have. It can help you choose a business when you have no idea of what you should do. It is a tool you can use to resolve any number of questions in your business and personal life.

Let’s look at some other situations you may face in selecting a business to create.

1.    You are one of the lucky ones and already have a strong background and experience in the operation of a brick and mortar business.
2.    You operate a brick and mortar business and are wondering if you can take it online.

In either of the examples above, you already have a very clear idea and the knowledge required to operate a specific business so your next step should be examining the online scene to see if your business could operate successfully online.

I suggest that you first conduct a search to get some idea of the competition in your chosen area.
•    You want to find people already operating similar business activities online.
•    If you find that no one else has a similar business online, you should view this as a red flag.
•    I have warned you in a previous blog that it isn’t likely that you are the first person to think of operating such a business.
•    What is more likely is that others have already tried to operate a similar business and failed. The quote I’ve read, and I don’t know who said it first, was that:-
o    “Pioneers came back full of arrows.”
•    So, you don’t want to be the first in any area so, if your chosen area reveals no competition – it’s a bad thing – move on.

More tomorrow.

An original blog written by Tony Neilson and published at March 01/10