How To Come Up With A Product Idea

product idea - shock top dallas, txSo you want to make money from your own business?  If you are in business, you are mainly selling a product for a profit.  A product could be a physical product, a digital product such as software, an intellectual product such as information, a service, or any number of other things where you exchange something you have for cash.  How do you come up with a product idea?

For somebody in tuned, opportunities pass by every day.  Mainly you are looking for a problem to be solved, that can be solved by your product.  Here are some ideas on where to start.

Something You Know

You can start with your own special knowledge or skills.  What do you do now for a job?  Are there opportunities for improvement that a product or service could help?  Could you use your skill to service your own customers?  Think about any opportunities you come up with and make sure that your product idea can be sold for a profit.

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Generating Activity

If you are new to business, the first thing you need to know is that you can’t sell anything.  You can’t.  Approach your mom with a new product to sell her and she’s going to be skeptical.  So how do you sell if you can’t sell?  I mean because, come on, you can’t start a business and sell nothing right?  Actually, you can start a business and sell nothing as long as eventually you will sell and have a profit.  Take facebook and twitter for example.  No initial product, no advertising platform, but they were definitely “for profit” businesses that made zero sales and zero profits.  Their initial goal was to create traffic for their websites by providing value to their users.  Users are not customers because they don’t buy anything, they just use their services for free.  From the traffic, or eye balls, eventually facebook and twitter started using paid advertisements to generate income.  Don’t think either one is profitable yet though.

Similarly to facebook and twitter, your initial goal when you start a business is to generate activity.  What this may mean is that you give yourself (time), your materials, your samples, or your products away for free or at cost (no profit) until you generate some interest.  Our big break this week came from a free stuff site that we got listed on, where we offered to give away free samples with a catalog request.  This generated tons of interest and, truth be told, we are selling almost no product.  But we will get our materials in front of people who will hopefully end up buying.  Not all of them, but some of them will.

I know what you’re saying… “I can’t afford to give away so much without selling!”  I tell you what, you really won’t sell until you give away something.  People are just too skeptical of sales offers, they need something to dream with or to try.  And they need a pressure-free environment in which to make a decision.  If you keep bugging people they will never buy, because they will feel too much pressure.  So the best thing to do is to give them sales literature and samples, and let them get back to you with an order.  Eventually you’ll probably want to follow up, and you may want to ask for the order, but you want to try to do all of this without pressure.

Your best customers will ultimately buy from you because you give freely of yourself to them.  You are not there to sell to them as much as you are to help them through the process.  If you are the guy or girl they can go to and are satisfied with your service, price will not be an issue.  So make sure to always serve your customer to the best of your ability.

So you want to generate activity by giving of yourself and your materials, but of course you need to budget for this.  Realizing that your budget is too small for what you need to do is important, but not always because you need to fit your expenses within your budget.  More often, you need to expand your budget by coming up with money from investors or from the bank.  This is when you really need to sell, and you need to get your facts straight.  Most of the time, investors want to know what kind of return they will get.  How do you know what the return will be if you aren’t selling?  Guess like crazy.  Use your imagination to figure out what your business ultimately looks like and communicate that to potential investors.

A good problem to have is too much activity, and probably not enough sales.  Be ready for it!

Three Weeks On My Own

I was laid off from my job of three years three weeks ago.  I really thought it was going to be a hardship for my family but it has turned into something else completely.  I’ve actually been able to consult daily, although I’ve still been taking interviews and have to still be available to work.  Finding another job has not really been working very well, but I did sell two projects and have a third that another consultant is doing for me.  So while the job front is not doing so well, consulting has been booming.

Consulting is still selling time for money, which is what you don’t really want to do when you’re in business, unless you sell other people’s time.  And mostly what I’m doing is selling my own time.  Still, I am making more as a consultant than I would be an employee, which has helped me to create a cash surplus.  On the downside, I am allowing my clients 30 days to pay their invoices, so I have slow cash flow.  Still it does beat working at a regular job.

I continue to work at building income streams that don’t require a ton of my time but it is slow going.  Maybe in a year or two these efforts will pay off.  But right now, consulting is paying the bills… and it is giving me the freedom to play a little.  It’s not a bad life.  I work hard and play hard, and have a little cash available.

Are your business efforts paying off for you?

How To Be An Entrepreneur

If you want to be an Entrepreneur, you have to be ready to fail. Failure is part of what you go through a lot. It’s like when you’re dating. You date person after person looking for that perfect match, but you’re going to have failed relationships until you find it. And oh, by the way, even the perfect match may be destined for a failure… but we try not to think that way.

As an Entrepreneur we are looking for opportunities to make money. Can’t find any opportunities you say? Hundreds pass by you every day, you just have to be tuned in to be looking for them. So be on the lookout. You could read business magazines or books to help you get tuned in. Just make sure you make yourself aware.

The problem then becomes choosing the right opportunity, because once you choose you will find 10 more that may work even better. You could be methodical in choosing which one to pursue, by evaluating the market and surveying potential customers. It is probably a good idea to do this, but sometimes the best opportunities look a little weird in the beginning, then develop into great products or services.

Take the leap and select an opportunity, which I will assume is a product or service but it may also include methods of marketing or a new way of doing an old business. Ultimately though you are selling something, so spend a little time and or money to attempt to sell your product or service, and get feedback from potential customers. Make little changes based on the feedback you get and try again. Ultimately you will find out if your product is worth continuing with. Perhaps it’s not… then it’s time to move on to a different opportunity.

You may go through several different opportunities, or perhaps you will start and fail at several businesses, before you find the magical combination that creates winning growth. Keep at it because you will get there. Just remember that you only need one success and if you try and fail enough, you will try and succeed at least once.

One important thing to keep in mind: Because you will need to be able to fail, you don’t want to bet the farm on your opportunity.  You always want to have a fall back in case things get bad.  Then you will be able to build up some money and try again.  If your failure leaves you flat broke it will be very difficult to start again right away.

How To Be The Big Fish – A Little Review

I have been talking about a lot of different things on my blog, but today I thought I would like to give a high-level summary of what it means to be the big fish in your multi-level marketing company.  Being the big fish is about image which is made up of several different things:

1. Professionalism

You are building a business so having a business name and business cards are important.  How you present yourself, especially during official business, is also extremely important.  The way you dress, how you groom, and if you have showered recently, are all important elements of creating a professional image.  Having your own web site can contribute to your professionalism and your image to others.

2. Marketing Method

The way you market your company contributes to your image.  If you pester your family and friends over and over to join or buy your product, you are probably creating a negative image.  If you create a marketing plan that identifies your market and seeks to deliver your marketing message to your market, this will create a positive image to those who matter most to you: people who would be your customer or distributor.

3. Marketing Effort

People who go 1000% into executing their marketing plan will create a positive image for their company.  They are fully committed to their product, what their company can do for others, and they don’t hold back (i.e. for fear of rejection).  This is having the faith in yourself to believe you will be successful no matter what others say.

4. Management Execution

You will create a positive image for your company when you can fulfill orders in a timely manner, get people information when they ask for it, answer your telephone professionally, and be there for your distributors.  Creating the right image cannot be all about sales and recruiting, it is about doing all of the right things for the people who depend on you.

5. Selling Yourself and Your Company

You personally and your company are what matter to the prospective customer or distributor, not your upline or your MLM company.  What are the features and benefits of doing business with you?  What can you do for your customer?  What can you do for your distributor?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: What do you expect from the people you do business with?  Spend a little time analyzing what you can do better and how you can sell that as a service.

6. Believe That You Are Already Successful, Believe In Yourself

Pump up your ego a bit and believe that you are something special, because you are!  You are the person with the company that is going to help thousands of people become successful and financially independent.  You are only held back by your beliefs, do a little self talk and make your dreams come true.

Now I am NOT telling you to get yourself all worked up and go out and do a bunch of stuff that means nothing to your business.  Get yourself pumped up and work your plan.  Find ways of working your plan that don’t cost you a lot of money, or any money if you can.  This may take a little creativity but it can be done.

Regardless of what you do and how hard you work, building an MLM business is harder and takes longer than you will expect.  Enjoy the little gains and the joy of your customers, and eventually your business will pay your salary and more.

Step By Step Startup Plan

So you have just joined a new multi-level marketing program? What should you do now to help you be successful?

1. Become a business. Being in business has a better image than being an MLM representative. You don’t work for the MLM company do you? You work for your own business so you should have a business name.

2. Get business cards. Exchange them with other people that you meet for their business card so you can stay in touch.

3. Announce your business to your family and friends. Let them know that you are going to sell your products at cost to the people you know and ask if they would like samples. Along with the samples make sure to get them a product brochure or catalog. Note that your family will give you free publicity to their friends, who you also can give samples to, but sell at full cost or at a minor discount.

4. Begin networking your business. Ask people you know for referrals of others who would like the products or might be interested in a business opportunity.

5. Get a web presence and a twitter account. Facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites are nice places to promote your business. You may or may not get orders but you can give it a try. You may also be able to use an affiliate web site set up by your MLM company or an upline distributor to promote your MLM business.

6. Set up a web site, if you can afford it. Having a web site name will improve the image of your business, especially a .com site. Having a web site name can cost you as little as $10 a year, you can either forward it to an affiliate web site for about $10 additional per year, or you can buy web space for about $120 or so per year.

7. Learn by reading books. Marketing, Sales, and Business Management are areas you want to concentrate in. You may also want to read MLM or Network Marketing specific books. Use the library because most books you can buy will also be found there.

8. Remember that you want to market and sell, but don’t forget about the management of your business. You will need to be able to fulfill orders, take telephone calls, and various other support functions for your business. Your business policies will assist in the success or failure of your business.

Make sure to have fun with your business and avoid spending money when you don’t absolutely need to. Good luck to you!

Multi-Level Marketing Shortcuts

Multi-level marketing companies usually provide training and materials needed for the new distributor to begin making sales. Often the material is not well tested but it is usually professionally created so that it does help to create a professional image for the distributor. Materials provided can be used to sell the product and or recruit new distributors, and is compliant with company policies. It would cost quite a bit to produce your own materials and you would still have to make sure the company would approve of them, so using the company’s printed material is preferable.

When you make the move to the internet, you won’t have an option to take web pages directly from the company so you will be designing your own. The nice thing is that you can use the copy from the company’s printed material, you just have to include the trademark and copyright symbols. You probably also have to identify yourself as an independent business person. You can check with the company or your upline for requirements of doing business on the internet. But using the copy, or the words, makes it a little simpler than trying to write your website from scratch.

It is possible that the company has a distributor marketing plan already created that can be put to use in your business. Be careful taking a pre-packaged marketing plan though, because if everyone is doing the same thing it may not be a good way to go. It is always best to market in a way nobody else is doing to get the best response.

This brings up a good point about selling a multi-level marketing product: When you are the only one selling an item there is no worry about competition, but selling amongst a group of other distributors might make it difficult to market the product. Always remember to sell yourself and find benefits of doing business with you. Avoid competing head-to-head with other distributors when possible.

Linking To Your New Website

Your website is your sales presentation and much more, but you must advertise to get visitors, warm leads, and or prospects to your website (i.e sales presentation). The way you do this for a website is to have advertisements that link into your website. Advertisements can be long winded or a little blurb that quickly describes what your website is. Sometimes your advertisement is actually built from your website. This is the case when a search engine indexes your web pages.

Nobody will know about your website until you start getting links to your website from other sites. Typically the way this is done is by telling the other website about your site, or submitting your site. You can submit your site to directories and search engines. And there are a ton of them! I would start with Google and Bing, then do a search for search engines and directories from Google for more places to submit your site for free.

Another possibility is to exchange links with other similar websites. You would typically contact the other site by email and ask if they would like to exchange links with you. Then you put a link to them on your site and they put a link to you on theirs. Many web owners will gladly exchange links but others may not reply, but keep trying.

If you have a blog, there are a ton of RSS search engines and other ways to promote your blog. Do a search for “How do I promote my blog” for more ideas. Many websites provide this kind of information to you. Additionally, you may want to post thoughtful comments on other blogs in response to their articles. Most comment forms include your name and website name so people can see what your site looks like. You might also try this with non-blog websites, I’m sure you would get a few visitors.

There are places on the internet where you can submit classified advertisements that include a link to your website. Many are free. I am not sure how effective advertising this way is, but you might get a visitor or two. One last way to advertise your website for free is social networking sites. I have talked about these before but they do often allow you to link directly to your site. Up and coming social networking sites such as are often very effective.

There are tons of other ways to advertise links to your site, just do a search for “How do I promote my website”. Many will submit your site for cost, but you really want to try to promote your website for free. Stick to free. I say this because some of the best ways to advertise your website on the internet are free. If you can, I would measure the most effective ways to advertise for free, which website statistics often provide.

Ultimately we are more concerned with sales than visitors, so the more targeted your visitors are the better. In other words, when your advertisement is presented to your demographic and they visit, they are most likely to buy.

The way that I promote my website is to spend a little time each day on promotion activities. Set aside an hour or two, research, and post requests for links. It is not hard work and it will produce results in the long run. I often switch from method to method, for instance today I will post responses to blogs and tomorrow I will submit my site to directories.

For those of us doing multi-level marketing, you can assume that the same concepts are generally true of recruiting.

Reasons To Do Multi-Level

I have probably spooked you into believing that it really isn’t worth it to do multi-level marketing. The main reasons to join a multi-level marketing company and work so hard is that you can make a lot of money and become financially independent. That is not to say that everyone who does multi-level marketing is wildly successful because they aren’t. You really have to know what you’re doing. But if you do know what to do you can make a ton of cash.

We had a total group of around 350 distributors and made between $14,000 and $20,000 in monthly commissions for two full years. That is what multi-level marketing can do for you. Unfortunately, we were working with a dietary supplement company that had the #1 product in the 1990’s, but in 1999 imploded because of issues with the health of its users, lying to the FDA, and getting a lot of bad press. I am not going to mention the company’s name but if you know the industry you can probably figure it out.

Our group was about 50% dropouts who never did anything, 45% small salespeople who sold a little product, and the rest hard-working sales people who could both sell and sponsor. We probably had three big fish who could really sponsor. We were part of the distributor advisory board for the multi-level marketing company and met people who did over $1 million per month in commissions, so we were not the largest by far. So the company had really, really big distributors and really, really little distributors (and dropouts), despite the major success of the product.

So how do you go from being the little guy to being the big fish? You find what works and you do it over and over, and bigger and bigger. Spending money is out of the question when you first start, but money can give you leverage to grow larger quickly once you have gotten to a certain level. You just don’t want to spend it foolishly, and spending it on big unproven advertising campaigns is always out of the question. I will post more about advertising in the future, but for now, spending money on advertising is out of the question when you are just starting. In fact, spending money on anything that you can do for free is out of the question.

Back to the multi-level marketing company for a minute. The company’s product was great, but the company’s business practices and attitudes caused them to run afoul of the media and the government, and ultimately their customers and distributors turned on them. This is sometimes what happens with a quickly growing company. They don’t know how to handle the growth and end up destroying themselves. This is not a good situation when you are depending on them for all of your income. Sometimes going with the tried and true is a better idea.

How Do I Make Money?

You may think that you make money in multi-level marketing by signing up 3 people (or so) and teaching them to do the same. Then, when your downline becomes so big you earn big money. Well no. You earn money when product is sold by you and or your downline.

We had a past distributor who joined a new company who cannot sponsor but sells like crazy. She makes the most money in the company. Other distributors that we know make money without direct sales by buying product for themselves, then teaching their downline to do the same thing.

In our past life we both sold like crazy and sponsored like crazy, but we still made the majority of our money from sponsoring through our downline product sales because we spent so much of our direct sales profits on promotional material.

You will make money in multi-level marketing when product is sold. Hopefully your product is in demand. How do you know? Are you willing to buy the product with no hope of making money from the business? If not, I would look elsewhere.

However, don’t give up so easily… It may be that your product is worth buying but perhaps you just don’t understand why at this point. Spend time studying and using your product. Figure out why you would want to buy it. Is it better? Is it less expensive to use? What are the features and benefits of using the product?  The answers to these questions can lead to better overall sales by helping you  inform your distributors and customers about how the product will benefit them.

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