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Get The Basics Right
by Bob McElwain

 If you want to open a new business offline, here's the secret to success. First pick the business you want, find who is top dog, then open up right across the street from them. For example, if you want a hardware business, identify the best in town, open right next door, then jump in and beat those guys. If you can't manage this, don't open anywhere. Down the block and around the corner won't cut it. It will only take you longer to go broke. You Must Beat The Competition Else Don't Compete Many seem to feel that because the Web is new, such a dynamic, yet-to-be-defined wilder beast, that even rules don't apply. And most who open an online business with such thinking, fail quickly. Sure, the Web is new. And it's dynamic. Exciting. All this and much, much more. But the Law of Gravity has not been revoked. Nor have the fundamental "laws" of business. Further, the need for common sense seems constant. Perhaps the rule most often violated is to jump into the middle of a highly competitive market. Open up to sell office supplies, and watch and shut you down within days. Sell books, and watch Amazon.Com destroy you. There is ... A Better Way 'Niche Marketing' is the key to minimizing competition. Offer sewing machine repair if you like. Most anything at all. But do not go head to head with giants. You'll lose. Whatever product or service you choose to offer, it needs to be within a niche in which there is little or no competition. And you need to become the top dog within this niche, at least over time. In doing so, you essentially eliminate competition. Or at least face none not easily beaten. Finding the niche just right for you is not hard or difficult to do. But it does take time. Think time mostly. That is, you need to ponder among options being considered. And doing so for a few moments throughout the day over time works a bunch better than sitting at a desk seeking to force a decision. Whether you are new to the Web or looking for an alternative to a business you already have, here is ... A Great Way To Start Sit back in a comfy chair with the brew of your choice in hand. Answer the following questions just as quickly as you can. Don't give any one of them much thought. Just grab a note pad and pencil. Then scribble as rapidly as you can. What Kinds Of People Do You Like To Be Around? Go ahead. Describe them briefly on paper. Why does this matter? Because you're going to spend a lot of time with your customers, directly or indirectly. You have a much better chance of enjoying this time if you spend it with people you like. Conversely, working with those you dislike isn't going to make it. What Do These People Want Or Need? Again, just make hasty notes. What kinds of things would they buy from you? Later, get serious about this. Check out websites where these people hang out. Read the newsletters they like. Follow the forums in which they participate. In time, you'll pick up on ideas about products they want. Hopefully you'll discover one or two difficult to find. Ideal candidates for products to offer. More important, you'll discover more about exactly who these people are. And what makes them tick. What Interests You? Remember, we're just brainstorming here. Quickly jot down areas of interest to you. If there's an area you don't know much about, ask yourself if you'd like to find out more about it. If so, it goes on your list. Wrapping It All Up With A Bow. While the above is oversimplified, it is a great way to get started. There's no fun in working with people you would rather not be around. There's no profit in offering products people don't want. And you'll go nuts trying to keep up in an area that's of no interest to you. But with an area of interest (niche), a group of people you enjoy being around (your target), and products these people want, you have a great start. Note it doesn't cost a dime to come up with good answers to the above questions. Why Do So Many Overlook Such Fundamentals? I'm not sure. Probably because the need just didn't come to mind. I meet a few now and then who continue to persist in making their own rules. But for the most part, those I have met having trouble with their business, simply never gave a thought to the above. Is That All There Is To It? No. There's more. You'll want to be dead certain you can beat the competition in your niche. And you need a solid definition of your Perfect Customer. Then a great USP (Universal Selling Proposition). But all this emerges from your answers to the questions above. Beyond this, build a website that offers your products effectively, and you are on your way to success. Where Can I Find More Details? Visit my site. Click Topics in the navigation bar to the left. Then select Getting Started or Niche Marketing or whatever else catches your fancy. There are lots of good articles here by top notch writers. And hundreds of annotated links to other resources out and about the Web. The Way To Go Get the basics clear in your mind. Sift through information available until you have a solid grasp on what you need beyond them. Then build a great site and go all out




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