How to make sure you never get to launch your product

Want to make sure you never get your product launched? It’s very simple, be a hero. Most entreprenuers that start up businesses of their own fail. The irony is that most of the time it is because of that simple but major flaw. They want to be heroes, and by heroes I mean you wanting to be everything in your business. If you find out that you are the marketer, coder, website designer, product developer, jasmin live blogger, social media consultant, book keeper, accountant in your business, you are doomed to fail. There are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much you can do before you burn out.

Get someone else to do the work

The solution is to outsource the repetitive or administrative tasks to someone who can do it better and probably faster than you. If the task you want to outsource is mission critical, try partnering up with someone that is good at it. Sometimes this is better because you tend to get better results and commitment from someone whose butt is also on the line as much as you are. Doing everything in your business yourself is like running with a lot of baggage. Imagine a Jasmine live game where you get points for getting a number of suitcases to certain locations along the way to the finish line. One suitcase has to be dropped off at point A which is 10 miles away, and another has to be dropped off at point B halfway to the finish line and then 2 suitcases have to make it to the end to win the game. Who do you think is going to win? The guy that tries to juggle 4 suitcases to their final destinations or the guy that hires 2 able-bodied men to run with him each carrying a suitcase.

Here are 4 reasons why it makes sense to outsource

1. Finally clear out all that boring stuff that needs to be done

Odds are if you are a hero in your business, there are a lot of boring, internal tasks that are just lying there wating to be done. Most of the time, these tasks are not core to your business but need to be done to ensure a smooth running engine. The day I got an accountant was one of the happiest days in my business. He manages my livejasmin accounts, book-keeping, filings with the tax man. I could do all these online by myself and maybe would take me a couple of hours every month, but I really don”t want to be bothered by that stuff, chasing deadlines and all. The amount of money I pay to him every month is one of the best expenses I make.

2. Have time to do the bits you love doing

One of the most rewarding outcomes of outsourcing is that you get to do what you love the most. Do you love writing? but you find yourself digging in HTML code tweak something on your website?. Get someone else to do that and focus on moving your Jasminlive business forward. When you end up doing tasks you hate you incur a lot of emotional debt that drains your motivation. The motivation that would have been useful when you needed to do the core and critical tasks that needs to be done.

3. There is always someone who can do it better than you

No matter how good you think you are, there is always someone who can do it better. Not only that, but that person is so much of a rockstar, he can do it in half the time you will ever need to get it done. I am a software developer by “profession” and I work on desktop (Windows) applications. Naturally, I thought tweaking some PHP code on a Flash website I was developing once would be a breeze. All I wanted to add was a counter, it couldn” t be that hard, right? Three days and some dead brain cells later, I was still at it. I was humbled when I got a streamates developer on Elance to do it in half a day for $50. I was humbled.

4. Get to market faster than your competitors.

Because, you know what? Odds are you will burn out before you ever get to market. The internet is littered with a lot of dead websites of companies that had potential but never got off because the founder had too much to do.

You will know it is time to get someone else to do that task when you find yourself saying the following phrases.

- I hate doing this

- I keep on doing the same stuff over and over again

- I’m no good at this

Websites like Elance and ODesk have thousands of freelancers that can do anything from bookkeeping to web design and for a fraction of what your time worth. Start thinking like a business and not like a hero, I felt stupid when I found out I could have paid someone $50 to tweak my website or spend three days trying to do it myself. I must have spent 25 hours on that task which means I earned about $2 an hour! Well, lessons learnt…. Have you been a hero in your business? Do you have another opinion about this, I am open to discussions, leave a comment and let me know.

The secret to creating remarkable products

We all know the key to starting a successful business or getting customers to buy more of your stuff is to offer remarkable products, a product that the customer will love to recommend to her friend. But the question is what constitutes a remarkable product? Seth Godin shares some insights on how to be remarkable, but the ideas are a little bit vague. Let’s get a bit more concrete. There is one very effective way you can make your product or service remarkable which in turn will have your client happy to pay for your service and recommend you to anyone she comes across.

Remarkable products add value to your client’s client

What do I mean by that? Let me illustrate with an example, I will give you two examples of a software product and will let you decide which you think is a better product. Sheila (The accountant) goes in search of a software package to automate some of the daily tasks in her business. She does a search on the internet and one of the top results is for a product that performs all the standard functions like payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable etc. The website has a nice fancy design and looks like a good bargain at $500.

She continues her search and finds another product, it has the same features like the first package she saw but it is a little bit more expensive at $600. On taking a closer look at the features, she sees that the software will also send monthly reports to Sheila’s clients automatically without her having to do anything. It will also set up a login for all her clients to view the current state of their company accounts anytime they want. Sheila’s clients frequently ask for these reports and it takes her a couple of hours every month to prepare these reports and reply to their emails. Now she can just redirect them to their client member area. Now she is very excited. To Sheila, spending an extra $100 to purchase the second package is a no-brainer, because now she will save 2 hours every month per client and now her clients will think she is a rockstar accountant for providing this valuable service.

Think in terms of the other man’s interest

By thinking a little bit out of the box, you can offer a product that you customers will thank you for. Humans are naturally selfish beings, we are all about What is in it for me?. Dale Carnegie in his best-selling book How to win friends and influence people made a point by saying one of the keys to influencing people is to Think in terms of the other man’s interests.

Other examples of remarkable products

In this social economy, it is not enough to make a product that satisfies only an immediate need. Apple revolutionalized the smartphone market with the iPhone. It wasn’t the first company to get into the market Microsoft had been selling PDA’s for years, but Apple came along and offered an App store that allows developers to offer and sell their applications for a share of the profits. Not only that it made it easy for impulse buying iPhone users to spend a $1.99 with just a finger tap.

Where is the ROI?

Now you might be thinking why you would want to do that? It will cost you an arm and a leg, to build an App store for your clients. Where is the return-on-investment? Creating value for your client’s client does not need to be so elaborate. Think of something your client does everyday for her client and think of a way to streamline or automate that process. It could be as simple as recording some training videos for your client’s client on how to use a product.

Quick and easy way to make remarkable products

A lot of products in the internet space rely on commission-based promotions to drive sales. Companies or individuals run affiliate programs and get the affiliates to promote their programs for a commision. Companies like iDevAffiliate make software to automate the process of creating affiliate links. The software tracks referrals for the individual running the affiliate program. iDevAffiliate goes a step further to offer training videos to the affiliates that will be promoting the program. These videos explain how to use the software and utilize it for a more effective promotion. Can you see the value chain? The affiliate will learn how to run a more effective campaign which makes them more money and which also in turn makes the one running the program more money and iDevAffiliate sells more software. This is a win-win situation for everybody.

Still not convinced, let me give you one more example

I first heard of this concept from Brian Clark at Copyblogger, I am a member of Teaching Sells, a training program on how to generate income from developing interactive learning environments (ILEs). He gave an example on how a home inspector can build profitable partnerships with Realtors. Realtors are the major source of referrals to home inspectors and a home inspector’s business can be transformed single handedly by one high volume Realtor. A home inspector can make a series of videos for first time home-buyers, the pitfalls and what to look out for.

These videos can then be licensed or given to the Realtor to use on their website as an attraction strategy for new home-buyers. Again, the value chain is visible. The home-buyer gets a good education (from the Realtor’s website) on what to look for when buying a house and will be inclined to use the Realtor’s services, the realtor in-turn refers the client to the home inspector when an inspection is needed.

So I hope you can see that making your product or service remarkable is not that hard or expensive. You owe it to your customer and there is no excuse for being irremarkable. Has this given you an idea on how you can be more remarkable? Please leave a comment and let me know.

The Google guide to starting successful businesses

If you think I am here to tell you about ranking your site in the search engines, you have guessed wrong. I want to tell you about the applications that makes Google what it is today and how you can use that methodology to start your own successful business.

Google has also started failed businesses

Odds are you have already come across the most successful Google applications to date. Google Search, Google maps, Google Mail. What you don’t get to see are the failures of Google, the applications that don’t ever get to see the light of day. If you want to see some of these appications go to Google Labs. Some of these applications will never be released to the general public but does Google care? No, this is just a testing ground for their next killer app.

Reduced to the bare minimum

One thing you will also discover from the application in Google labs is the limited functionality they have. They are not full blown applications with tons of options. Why is that? Google uses a software development methodology called Agile. This is a methodology that develops lean, useful application that have the minimum set of features. Take a little thought to ponder how this can apply to your business idea. Do your ideas never get off the ground just because you want to nail every possible angle?. Do they only end up on the drawing board because you have drawn 200 features you would like to include in that next killer app? And now it looks like a beast that will take 2 years to implement and you are not even sure if anyone will buy it.

Here is what a smart serial entrepreneur will do

When you have an idea, write it down and take note of what really excites you about the idea. As the idea evolves in your mind, do not forget the initial thought that made you so excited about it. As it evolves, you are bound have other cool stuff that you think can be part of the product. Your mind starts racing, “What if we added this little cool feature?”, “It would be nice if it could also do this nifty trick”. This is good but don’t forget that you are not the one buying the application or product.

Be ruthless with your ideas

After you have this “cool nifty feature” idea, ask yourself these two questions…

1. Will this feature create a direct benefit to the user?

2. Is it an absolute must for the first version of my product?

If you answered “Yes” to both questions, then add it to the original list (where you wrote the initial feature that excited you). If you answered “Yes” to the second question only, write down the little cool feature in a column called “Nice to have”. Now if you answered “No” to the first question, throw that feature away. It will do you more harm than good.

After doing this, you will have a nice, lean and agile product or application that you can develop in a short amount of time and get it out there for people to test. Let your customers drive the direction of the product, they are the ones bringing out their wallets to pay for your product, not you. The advantage of developing products this way is that you can get your idea out there into the field, get it tested and validated and if you see crickets chirping and no buyers, then it is back to the drawing board with your new idea as a true serial entrepreneur.

Your drawing board is no more full of unfinished ideas gathering cobwebs, because they have either failed and have been thrown away or they have been successful and have become the next Google Maps. Do you have any ideas that you have made into big beasts that look like they will take years to complete? Let me know in the comments how you will strip off the fat and bring that lean idea back to life.

Grow Your Email List: 6 Pro Secrets Revealed

I hope you are already building an email list. You really should if you are not already doing that. To know why building an email list is important and how you should go about doing it, sign up in the form on your right for the report – 7 pillars of building a profitable business. (Building an email list is so important, it is the first pillar). This post will give you 6 suggestions with which you can make the proces more effective so you can generate more leads. The great thing about social media and the internet today is everything is so transparent. You can basically watch the pros at work, do as they do and grow your business with what you have observed.

Your readers are lazy, don’t make them work

So let’s get right to it. The first way to get more email subscribers is to make the opt-in form prominent on your site. Prominent means it is very identifiable on your site and it is best that you have the form above the fold. (Which means the reader will not need to scroll to see the opt-in form). More eyeballs on the form, means more potential subscribers. People coming to your site are very busy and you have seconds to convince them to sign up, make good use of the few seconds by not making them do any extra work to find your form.

What is in it for me?

Email addresses are now being guarded like home addresses now. Nobody wants to part with an email address because of spam concerns. A good way to overcome this resistance is to offer something in return for the email address. A “Sign up for updates” message is not going to cut it. Not at all. Write a report, make a free video-course or an email course and give this away as an incentive to sign up for your list. Here is a video course that will teach you how to make a free video course to give away.

Twitter can help you

On twitter you have the option to add a link to your site. People are clicking on that link because they are curious. It will be effective to direct them to a page that introduces you, so they can know who you are. Why not add a prominent opt-in form with an incentive to sign up on that same page. A good pitch starts with:1.Who you are? 2. What you do? 3. What can you do for me?

By including a form where I can download a free report, you can knock #3 off the list.

Facebook will as well

Twitter and Facebook are the largest social networks today and you should be leveraging these sites in your list building efforts. The advantage that Facebook has is that you can include your forms directly on your Facebook Fan page. Now your readers can subscribe without having to come to your website. It is all about meeting your audience where they are at, don’t wait for them to come to you. Another tip, change your default page on your Facebook fan page to include your form. By default, visitors to your page arrive on your wall which doesn’t help at all. You want to introduce yourself and give them an opportunity to sign up for your email list.

Over-deliver

This point is more about the process after the sign up. Your readers will expect to receive a valuable report, video or audio file from you. Why not offer them more, add another series of reports or an email course after they have consumed the content you promised. To make this effective, you have make sure you do not promise the content beforehand, just spring it on them and make sure it is relevant content. This can backfire if you start sending unrelated information like diet pills after they signed up to hear about the latest gadgets. I hope this goes without saying. One simple rule, if your readers are used to receiving valuable information anytime they receive your mail, they will also consider the products you pitch to them as valuable.

Pull them in from the tube

YouTube is now competing with Google for the top spot in the most number of searches category. It only makes sense you have your content on YouTube. Make a video and on that video, give a teaser of the e-mail course you are giving away, or the first video in the series you have made. Now you can pitch the rest of the series with a call to action like Do you want the rest of the content in this video for free? Sign up at yourdomain.com. Another small tip: why post it on YouTube alone? Use a service like TubeMogul to post it on 10 other video sharing sites.

So there you have it, go forth and do good with these tips but before you do that, please leave a comment and let me know which of these you would like to implement. If you have other tips, let me know.