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A TUTORIAL ON GENERATING (rather than finding)
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 1
Where's the best place to find small business ideas? This is going to sound really corny... the best place is in your own head. Still reading? Good. This is about generating small business ideas - not about finding small business ideas.
You'll see lot's of successful Internet entrepreneurs selling books or software that is guaranteed to show you how to duplicate their success.
It doesn't work like that!
Finding something that's unique, that you can create yourself and that people will pay for is difficult, but it's the only reliable, long-term way to make money on the Net. Take my word for it.
If you're like most people, small business ideas don't just "pop" into your head while relaxing in front of the TV, so let's start with some research...
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 2
What does the top three have in common?
They can all be sold as either hard goods or electronic goods.
A popular myth on the Net is that hard goods don't sell as well as electronic goods. They do, but you'll save yourself a lot of time and headaches by going for an electronically deliverable product from the start.
A small business just can't sell hard goods at competitive prices - in most cases anyway. But with original electronic goods your small business can compete because production cost is almost zero. You set the price.
Here are some of the advantages of electronic goods:
Small business ideas based on electronic products are preferable simply because it's usually something that you can do - right now - from home - without spending a mountain of money.
I wrote a 37-page book on making money on the Net where I discuss this in more depth. This is a good place to start. Click here for more on the book.
Ok, so electronic products are the way to go if you have a small business - but what should it do?
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 3
Always mould small business ideas around a key human needs. Security, for example, is a key human need - and because insurance companies provide security, they're in business.
They're giving people what they want.
Here are some key human needs, divided into primary needs (red) and secondary needs (green):
You might think that fulfilling a primary need is ideal. It's not.
Internet users are upper middle-class people. With the exception of health, they normally have their primary needs covered. Before you can sell to them you first have to convince them that your product is superior - make that far superior (people generally resist change when it comes to primary needs) to what they're using now.
Would you be tempted if an ad said free food?
How about free course in basic Internet marketing?
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 4
What do all good small business ideas have in common?
They obey these rules:
The quality must be beyond question.
It must be unique.
There should be an EXISTING demand for it
It must be user-friendly
It must be legal
It has to be credible
It should support repeat-business
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 5
Before we dig in, keep in mind that there's only so much I can cram into a web page. If you're serious about succeeding online, consider getting a copy of "Ways To Make Money On The Net". It's an immediate download - and it will save you buckets of time and money later on. Click here for more information.
Ok, here's the overview:
Work through the secondary human needs listed above. Pick one that fall in your area of expertise - or better yet, one that really interests you.
For example, I'd choose independence, because that's something I can offer by giving people the skills to start a small or home-based business on the Internet.
Now refine that until you hit a do-able niche. Stay with me. This works.
From independence I got to small business advice. That's still too broad. We have to find a niche where we can be number 1. Small business advice specifically for Internet entrepreneurs... still too broad... more than just advice, I'll offer them experience. Better yet, I'll do all sorts of e-business experiments. I'll test everything from affiliate programs to selling stuff on eBay and report my findings... etc. etc.
Don't stop too soon. If it's too broad, you won't be able to compete. You'll waste a year trying and end up refining it anyway. The best small business ideas are laser-focused on a niche.
Niche niche niche! It's soooo important.
Ok, so I'm going to sell small business experience. The next step is to decide on format.
Free on your site
Choose your price.
What does the competition charge?
Can you do better without cutting profits too much?
Do a search for your product on Yahoo! and go through the top category to find some competitors.
Who is your target market? Will your typical customer be willing to pay $20 or $200? Don't "settle" for what you'll be happy with - not when it comes to price. A higher price will add perceived value. Experiment until you find the barrier where sales start to drop off. Also keep in mind that your product should always exceed the customer's expectations.
What is your profile customer's age & income level? Younger buyers buy more impulsively but usually has less money.
High prices also leave the door open to competitors to develop something similar and offer it for less.
Low prices mean more sales - more sales DO NOT necessarily mean more money though. 10 items @ $5 each is less than 7 items @ $10 each. The main benefit of low prices is that - if you have a good quality product, you reach more people and therefore generate more word of mouth.
Test your product on your site before you spend time and money developing it.
Describe the product in detail. Ask visitors to pick a price they'd be willing to pay. When your product is ready for distribution, give a couple of copies away to people who are willing to sign up as beta testers. In exchange for the free product, they should, for example, agree to fill out a questionnaire after using the product for a month.
GENERATING SMALL BUSINESS IDEAS: PART 6
Whatever you sell, you absolutely HAVE to get people to your site. I can't possibly go into all the details here, so I'm sending you to my Search Engine Yearbook. It really shows you everything you need to know about search engines and everything you didn't know you needed to know. It's also a great example of an quality e-book if you're thinking of creating one yourself.