Job Insecurity? There is now a solution on the Web.
By Brad Beiermann Ph.D., Hienote Inc.
As many of us working folks have discovered over recent years, a secure
guaranteed job is the topic of fictional writers. Without a doubt the
labor market is going through new changes and shifts as the national
economy becomes evermore globalized. Unfortunately, our daily responsibilities
of paying the mortgage, insurance, and tuition costs are not fictional.
They need real solutions for making the payments. This has created many
in the working class to consider other alternatives outside of their
unstable or miserable jobs. One of the popular alternatives has been
leveraging the Web to generate an extra income. There has been a flood
of Web hosting services and online tools come on the market to help
the most computer illiterate folk setup a second (often primary) income
on the web. These services and tools are inexpensive. Actually, downright
cheap! You can have an online store with shopping carts, credit card
processing, custom domain names, toll free numbers, business cards…etc.
for about twenty-eight bucks. We will get back to the details. This
is a serious bargain when you consider this can get you a real flow
of income to pay the non-fiction bills.
What Have We Learned?
Remember not too long ago when everyone was being bombarded by all the
dot com hoopla? Remember not too long ago when the whole thing basically
tanked as we watched some very silly Internet companies file bankruptcy?
While many of these companies folded, the public received a very good
education. They received an education on what does not work on the Web
for a business. As more time has passed since the dot com era, we have
also learned about what is working on the Web. One of the things working
nicely on the Web is people starting a small home business based purely
on the Web. There have been countless niche small businesses recently
started on the Web with measurable success. The good news is there is
plenty of room for more of these types of businesses to start. In fact,
this whole movement has inspired many folks to get on a PC for the first
time and learn the ropes. They are discovering the ropes are fairly
simple. In fact if you have the following:
1. A pulse
2. Know how to read
3. Can move a mouse, and
4. An ability to focus on getting things done.
You have the ingredients to begin a successful income on the Web. Let’s
take a look at some specific items that could help someone get started.
Starting A New Income Today
There are few basic necessities one would need to get their home based
Web business started:
Website Hosting Service. The website will be the foundation
of your online store or services. As mentioned earlier, there has been
a flood of Web hosting services and online tools come on the market.
Companies such as CityMax (www.citymax.com), BigStep (www.bigstep.com)
and USight (www.usight.com) are some of the companies offering online
servers to host your site. There are many others, but these particular
hosts have online tools that are fairly simple to use for the PC novice.
The tools are purely a click-to-add or drag-and-drop interface that
allows someone to create a Web page. Creating a Web page or site with
these tools does not require someone to be knowledgeable with computer
languages or fancy forked tongue computer talk. The tools are based
on pre-made templates and forms that allow virtually anyone to create
a fully functional sight. Many of these online tools have the shopping
cart functionality desired to create an online e-commerce site for customers
to make purchases. This is pretty amazing considering a few years ago
the shopping cart functionality for a site was typically built using
a web based language and a computer geek costing thousands. I know this
first hand as I was a computer geek building such programs. Companies
literally spent millions of dollars getting these sites built. Those
days are long past just like the horse and buggy days. The technology
curve is now in the favor of the novice online business creator.
Domain Name. Many folks wish to have their own domain
name (aka. www.somename.com) for their site. This can often be supplied
by the same hosting company you might use for your site. However, there
are other alternatives such as GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com). They offer
low cost domain names along with email names.
Online Payment Provider. In order to receive your payments
through a site shopping cart a third-party payment provider is needed.
Perhaps the most well known payment provider is PayPal (www.paypal.com).
An account can be setup for free which will give your customers the
options to pay by credit card. This is a nice option to use as you get
started. It is indeed the low cost option for doing credit card processing
on a site. It is limited to transactions taking place online. So, your
options are a bit more limited for offline transactions such as processing
transactions for phone orders. The next step up would be getting a merchant
Merchant Account. A merchant account will allow you to
accept credit cards from your customers with greater flexibility than
an online payment provider. This is something that can make a world
of difference when you get your store created online. When you make
it easy for customers to buy from your site, they feel more inclined
to buy. A merchant account makes it possible to do phone authorizations
and various other remote authorizations. In most cases, you will want
to get a virtual terminal (sometimes called a gateway) for the site.
The virtual terminal enables you to forego using a physical point-of-sale
terminal. AuthorizeNet (www.authorizenet.com), Cardservice International
(www.cardservice.com), and Bank Card USA (www.gobusa.com) are some of
the more popular means of getting credit card processing enabled. You
will also find many of the Web hosting providers can steer you to the
proper folks for getting the site set up for credit card processing.
Toll Free Number. You can now get a toll free number setup
to your existing home phone inexpensively. While this might not be a
necessity for a Web based business, it is something your customers will
appreciate as you start to do business. Particularly if you get word-of-mouth
advertising, people will want to call with inquiries for your products
and services. Also, this helps customers feel comfortable knowing they
can reach someone on the phone instead of being trapped by email. The
beauty of today’s telecom industry is the price wars concerning
long distance. Small home based business owners are coming out winners
on the telecom side. As of this writing, QCI Internet (www.qcinet.net)
offers 1-800 service numbers to your existing phone line for 3.9 cents
a minute without a base fee. So, you will only get charged when people
call you. If no one calls, there is no charge!
Free Business Cards. The word free is often over used
and abused as people find free things are not always free. However,
VistaPrint (www.vistaprint.com) offers free business cards with a variety
of designs to choose. The cards are free. The shipping you pay (around
Wholesale Drop Shippers. These are the folks that can
supply a small online business with products to sell on the Web, warehouse
it, and ship it directly to customers. They are the heart of a “stockless
retailer” wanting to retail online. There are plenty of drop shippers
available. However, finding one to suite your needs requires a little
bit of homework. There are wholesale drop ship directories online that
list drop shippers to be used. However, many of these directories are
rip-offs and con-artists that do not actually contain tier one wholesale
drop shippers. They may often list companies that are middlemen or false
agents representing a drop shipper. These middlemen are getting an unnecessary
slice of the profit by not adding any value to the supply chain. A small
online business is best suited, profit wise, by going directly to the
actual wholesale drop shipper. Hienote (www.hienote.com) offers a directory
of wholesale drop shippers that can be used by a stockless retailer.
The directory is updated weekly and is focused on hard-to-find tier
one wholesale drop shippers. Plus, there is a toll-free number (1-800-342-0386)
to call if you have questions. Members can submit a conditional request
for a search if they do not see a specific drop shipper in the directory.
This gives an advantage to those seeking unique niche items to offer
on the Web. In addition, there is a free ebook on the site describing
free advertising tips for your business.
Putting It All Together
Now that we are familiar with the major pieces need for our new venture,
let’s take a look at the total start-up costs for the components
we have reviewed:
1. Website Hosting Service___________________$20 - $50 per month
2. Custom Domain Name ____________________$8 for one year
3. Online Payment Provider__________________$0 setup fee
4. Merchant Account (optional)_______________$250 one time fee
5. Toll Free Number (optional)________________$0 setup (3.9 cents per
6. Free Business Cards (optional)______________$0 (shipping is about
7. Drop Shipper Directory (optional)___________$45 - $70 (usually a
one time fee)
Scenario #1: Least Expensive = $28
Scenario #2: Most Expensive = $383
In both scenarios above we are assuming:
- One month of website hosting services.
- One year fee of a custom domain name.
- The transaction commissions for options three and four are not factored.
- Scenario #2 picks up shipping charges on business cards.
- Scenario #2 does not use a toll free line.
- Scenario #2 uses the higher priced drop ship directory.
In the least expensive scenario, we are basically getting our website
hosting service and custom domain name. In the most expensive scenario
we are getting pretty much everything listed. The nice part of this
list is the options. In other words, you could scale your starting efforts
to whatever you feel comfortable with on a budget. For example, we could
start off with Scenario #1 and add a merchant account later as you get
a few sales under your belt.
Getting People To Recognize You
In order for people to buy from you, they have to know about your existence.
It has often been said that marketing and advertising are the life blood
of a business. This life blood can sometimes result in a financial blood
bath when done incorrectly. This is where low cost advertising, and
sometimes free advertising becomes a necessity for the tightly budget
minded folks. Again, let us consider our options for scalability. Remember
those free business cards mentioned earlier? Some of you might be wondering
why you would want business cards for a website that is viewed globally?
Your business cards can be an effective tool for advertising. Leaving
business cards everywhere, and I mean everywhere, can get some initial
exposure. Some examples of everywhere includes, store shelves, books
in the library, restaurant booths, restaurant menus, even stuff them
in the utility bill envelopes you pay monthly! Remember, these cards
are free. Most folks are very receptive to a business cards as they
are small, contain all the info, and unlike a billboard or radio commercial
they fit into everyone’s pocket. Some of the best marketing out
there is by word-of-mouth. Everyone has been involved in some type of
word-of-mouth marketing. When was the last time you asked someone, “What
do you recommend?”
Don’t Forget The Offline Folks!
Interestingly, some of the best advertising for a website will not be
found on the Web. Sure there are search engines, portal marketing, newsgroups…etc.
on the Web. You can leverage these eventually. However, there is a large
body of customers are not on the Web. Theses are the offline customers.
This is where your budget 1-800 service comes into play. At just a few
cents a minute, you can say a lot without breaking the bank. In a couple
of minutes you can address the easy who, what, where and why questions
for those interested. Often time, the folks who do not use the Web or
a computer know someone that will look up something for them (i.e. son,
Your New Income
The Web has enabled many folks to begin a part-time and full-time start
up business. In addition, the Web has also helped lower the barriers
of entry into the small business world. Once you are able to get your
site fully functional (which can happen in a matter of hours) and your
marketing moving, you will be embarking on a new direction. What direction?
It will be a direction of some financial security…this is also
sometimes known as freedom!
About The Author:
Brad Beiermann Ph.D., is President of Hienote Inc., Crystal Lake, IL
60039. Dr. Beiermann is one of the leading experts in business technology
and e-commerce. Hienote Inc. specializes in assisting businesses locate
wholesale drop shipping companies. You can visit their site at http://www.hienote.com,
or call 1-800-342-0386.