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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Internet Auction

This is another mode of selling online, probably the simplest. In this (Internet selling), what you require includes pictures of the product you want to sell, the product description or sales letter, the minimum acceptable price you will sell, how you will deliver goods sold (e.g. through courier), and how you want your money paid.  All these features are provided on the site, and the auction site owner designs the page and markets your product.  Three leading sites that offer the best mix of features for buyers and sellers are Ebay, WebStore, and eBid.

In Nigeria, for example, online selling is a growing trend; hitherto encountered problems such as how to pay for things and how to accept payments in foreign currencies are no more Circuitatlantic, Surepay and take care of all these issues.

Similarly, Lionsales, provides online opportunities of buying and selling property, which includes lands, houses, office, shops and warehouses. Here, prospective buyers need not scout for Estate Surveyors and Valuers or Estate Agents. What is required is to visit LionSales and explore in hope to consummate a transaction. It is almost always an exciting and rewarding experience.


This series has portrayed the Internet as a medium of entrepreneurship, given benefits that the Internet provides over traditional channels. Prominent among these benefits of Internet transactions are time saving and convenience. However, there are associated risks such as delivery risk and payment risk. Aspiring and burgeoning Netpreneurs are advised to ensure that adequate security is put in place to avoid or check these risks.  The series also considered the Internet and its associated technologies as a form of innovation, breaking the boundaries of time zone and physical distance, yet there are apparent challenges in successfully penetrating the global market due to language barriers, cultural differences, and legal matters, among others. For example, the majority of the users of the domestic portals in the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are not bilingual, thus cannot apply the information provided by yahoo in other languages.  This is an emerging issue in Internet entrepreneurship and should provoke the research interest of scholars. 

Finally, beyond these apparent challenges, the virtual landscape offers endless opportunities for the entrepreneur.  You can get started without some of the barriers (such as land, labour and capital) in traditional business.

I hope that this Internet business/e-commerce tips have been helpful?  As always, I look forward to your comments.

Getting Visitors to Respond Favorably

Converting visitors to subscribers and customers requires planned and deliberate attempts especially on regular contacts. After their first visit, prospective customers may return to your web pages but you do a lot more by reaching out to them from your own side. This entails sending to your visitors permission based e-mail at regular intervals. To do this, you require their contact information, which can be obtained by placing a web form on your web pages. Here, your visitors will give their contact information in return for something.  Usually, auto responders, including constantcontactinfusionsoft and getresponse automate this process. It stores the contact information and sends messages to the concerned visitors at pre-set intervals.

The future of your web-based business is dependent on your subscriber base. The more effective your customer relationship management, the more improved response you can expect from them. It takes perseverance to enlarge and maintain your list in anticipation of future return.The dividends come when you have earned their trust and you are able to consummate transactions repeatedly.

The foregoing series have conceptualized Internet business within the context of the necessity for a web designer, a search engine, and optimized traffic consultant, among others. But are there any avenues to start online entrepreneurship without all these? This brings us to the concept of Internet auction – the subject matter of the next article in this series.

Internet Marketing

Internet marketing refers to the skills necessary to gain favourable response from visitors to the Net.  It is about winning potential customers and sustaining existing ones. Johari suggests a number of strategies. These are as follows:


This includes the content and appearance of your web pages. Considering the fleeting attention a new visitor would invest on your web pages, it is important that the content and appearance be of interest to him so that he will be willing to stay longer and explore. Your page should elicit repeat visit, and hopefully convert the visitors into customers. The page should give useful and relevant information about the products or services being offered.

Other factors to consider include the reputation of the marketer and the pre-selling component of marketing. The pre-selling part of marketing is where potential customers need to be convinced about the product or service, before his decision to buy. The landing page, where the visitors arrive first, could be appropriate for pre-selling before he moves to the sales page.

Traffic Promotion

The Internet serves as a tool for learning about a firm’s product and services, as well as for buying. As a result, the Netpreneurs should give significant consideration to the location of his website. This is just as important as in reality-based/brick and mortar businesses where a physical location of a business, if conductive to foot traffic and conveniently situated near other stores, would increase the chances of a customer seeking out the product or service. In the same vein, Cyberpreneurs should conceptualize the virtual space as where there are many locations in which one could establish a webpresence.

To convert interested visitors to willing buyers, it is imperative that the Internet entrepreneur understands the geography of the virtual realm, how customers are guided to your business and what qualities of your website keep customers more interested in the product or service.

LaChusa proposes a number of ways of getting regular and high volume traffic to your web pages. These are as follows:

·         Create a website
·         Use auto responder
·         Create a blog
·         Start podcasting

The Cyberpreneur don’t have to do all 10, says LaChusa.

Furthermore, Johari highlights a number of methods of getting targeted traffic. These are described hereunder:

Article Promotion

When you send your articles for publication to various e-zines and articles directories, you will have at the end of the article a resource box in which you can include the URL of your page. Upon publication by e-zines, other e-zines and webmasters pick up this article for republishing on their websites. This means each time your article is published your resource box (bearing your URL) goes with it. As this process continues, there is proliferation of your article, such that regular traffic to your web page is sustained.

Press Release

There exist agencies with wide distribution network that distribute press releases. These agencies have unique and stringent guidelines, which need to be adhered to in preparing your message. This is unlike the guidelines for submitting articles to e-zines. In press release you have the benefit of fast and wide distribution of your message.


These offer great marketing potential. It could reach most targeted people interested in your offer. Another advantage is that forums provide opportunity for learning a lot about members. Basically, forums (in Internet terminology) are websites meant for exchange of information. According to Johari:

“(In forums) one person initiates a topic by asking or giving some useful information or maybe by giving his personal views on a subject of common interest…this initiation of a topic is known as starting a thread. Anyone interested can respond to this message by posting his comments thereby adding to the thread. As other members add their views, the thread grows.”

But how does this relate to marketing? You might ask? Each member’s message posted carries a signature line which can be linked to the website where they want to send their visitors. In this manner, the linked signature line to the website does the marketing!
It is obvious that regular visiting and posting in the forums helps to promote you along with your website. This earns you the trust of other members and wins regular streams of interested visitors to your site.

Search Engine Traffic

The use of search engines to get some information on the net is well known. As you initiate your search, the search engine displays the web pages with the relevant information pertaining to your key word. In addition, there are sometimes pay-per-click advertisements accompanying your word.

In the search process, several web pages are listed as search results, and the web pages appearing on the first page of the search results are likely to get more traffic than those on web pages number 2, 3 or more. It is the preference of every Webmaster to see that his web pages rank higher. A number of factors determine the sequence in which web pages are listed, prominent among these factors are:

·         Number of back links, and

It should be noted that the traffic flow triggered by search engines does not cost you anything. It is not an easy task, though, to obtain and sustain high ranking for your web pages. Another method by which search engines promote you is when your postings in forums and your press releases, and articles published by e-zines appear as search engine searches.

Lessons for the Internet Entrepreneur

The aforementioned success factors necessary for starting and growing a traditional, brick – and – mortar enterprise, also apply to internet business or web-based enterprise. The challenges are more for the Internet entrepreneur – considering the new form of relationship between the owner and the consumer on the one hand, and the wide pool of potential competitors’ business accessible to the consumer just by a click of the computer mouse, on the other hand.

Basically, in internet businesses, the Netpreneur goes to the consumer by way of inter-enabled technologies. Here, the consumer enjoys the benefit of convenience – can shop at leisure, anytime of the day or night. Also, the Internet offers the ‘‘best environment for concurrent information search and product purchase’’ – consumer could conveniently surf the net for alternative products (evaluation) before making purchase decisions.  This fact distinctly differentiates the Internet from traditional channels.

Cyberpreneurs are not different from other entrepreneurs but what sets them apart is that they (Netpreneurs) operate in a virtual landscape characterized by transforming change. That is, new pattern of entrepreneurial behaviour and performance are more profound in web-based business.

In the views of Professors Lisa K. Gundy and Jill Kickul of DePaul University, Chicago, some factors for consideration in the process of building and growing an online entrepreneurial firm include:

  • Establishing a hardware infrastructure that can grow easily with business.
  • Understanding how to manage a network of computing environment and how to keep it secure
  • Nurturing a strategic approach so as to leverage their knowledge and information over time.
  • Building new and improved applications and systems quickly and easily, in response to the ever-changing market and customer demands, and
  • Capitalizing on the existing information and experience and quickly applying new intelligence and knowledge.

In addition, a number of scholars have emphasized the necessity of managerial roles and practices adaptation, to this new form of entrepreneurship.  Internet entrepreneurship presents new challenges to the aspiring entrepreneur in this unfolding 21st century.  Interestingly, the aforetasted challenges to the aspiriring Netpreneur have been overcome with pleasant outcomes.  As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to be a “Bill Gates,” a “Steve Jobs” or a “Phillip Emeagwali” to get your internet business running.  Technology solutions Vendors are readily available!  For examples, Websoft, GoDaddy, DreamHost, BlueVoda, HostGator, GoDaddy , and messageforce.

It has been mentioned that the Internet offers the best environment for concurrent information search and product purchase. Then how do you ensure that interested visitors to the Net would prefer your website to those of competitors? And how do you turn these potential buyers to customers? These are some of the challenges faced by the Internet entrepreneur and are the essence of online Internet marketing.

How to Start and Grow a Successful Traditional Business

How to Start and Grow a Successful Traditional Business

Starting a business could be challenging, daunting, and above all an exciting and rewarding experience. Let us suppose that you have a promising idea, and the entrepreneurial attributes to launch a new business. What factors must be considered? To start a business requires careful reflection and decision making about the following:

  •  Business planning
  • Business financing
  • Employees management 
  • Customer orientation (Marketing)

All of these factors, though, are important in starting and growing a successful business, but the first two factors (planning and financing) are of primary concern (especially) during the start-up phase. The rest three are at the core of actual running and managing of the on-going business.  A number of professional literatures extensively treat this subject, for example Understanding Business . The section that follows briefly sheds light on these factors.

Business Planning

It is an often cited remark that ‘‘He who fails to plan, is planning to fail.’’ Yet, it is surprising how many aspiring entrepreneurs are anxious to start a small business   but have only a vague notion of what they want to do.  Simply put, planning your business means thinking ahead, and relating the possibilities of the future to the realities of the present and past things. The work of thinking things through   is expressed in a final document called a business plan.  It forms a framework for you to start and grow your business.

Most scholars and practitioners have agreed that ideas are a person’s greatest asset.   And it is common experience, among entrepreneurs, to come up with ideas for business and start sharing the ideas with friends and other business people as well as with Professors.  Joseph Cossman, a celebrated entrepreneur, cautions that:
Most of our products are the result of our own ideas. In the long run you are on your own, so let your judgments be your guide. But keep this in mind…. A new idea is a delicate thing. It can be killed by a sneer or worried to death with a frown. Treat your own ideas like children – coddle them, keep them away from the chill of adverse criticism, have faith in them and – they’ll grow up into strong, mature products to support you in your old age..

The idea generation/formulation phase is crucial to successful business planning as it is with other human activities. Ideas are man’s greatest asset more valuable than even capital and experience.

We have emphasized that planning your business is of primary concern in starting and growing a successful business. The primacy of idea was underscored. 

Financing your business is also of importance.

Business Financing

Entrepreneurs, like most people, require money in starting and growing successful businesses. Sources of business finance include – personal savings, bank financing, relatives, former employers, government agencies, and lease-purchase agreements. Investors such as Venture Capitalists and Angels may also fund your project. Entrepreneurs must not only be well informed in identifying and securing start-up capital, but they must also nurture a profit-orientation.

Ability to balance profits and expenses to attract customers is vital to business success.

Customers Orientation (Marketing)

In business, opportunities exist in the market. And one of the most important elements of starting and growing a successful business is:  knowing the market. A market comprises people with unsatisfied wants and needs who possess both the wherewithal (resources) and the desire (willingness) to buy.  In marketing terms, the key to spotting or perceiving a potentially successful venture is to find a need in the market, and look for ways to meet that need.

For an entrepreneur to spot a genuine need s/he has to listen to people (potential customer) for obstacles that prevent them from completing specific tasks, and listening to what potential customers say frustrate them.  These are first hand avenues to learn what people really need and might potentially buy.  

Another means for an entrepreneur to meet the customers’ needs is to offer top quality products or services.  Concerted efforts should be aimed at meeting or exceeding the customers’ satisfaction. This way, you not only win customers but also keep them. This translates into repeat purchases and attendant profits.      

Employees Management

In the course of business growth or expansion, it becomes imperative that the entrepreneur can no longer go solo, and sustain growth and profits. It becomes impossible for him to oversee all details, regardless of the entrepreneur’s commitment in time (resource).  Consequently, he has to recruit, retain and reward employees.  Managing employees, the most valuable of all organizational resources, is tough.  People have varied orientation and backgrounds, among others.

In recruiting, the entrepreneur should consider promising individuals whose visions are aligned or as close as possible, to the enterprise’s vision. We suggest some attributes to look for:  honesty, willingness to learn (humility, as opposed to corporate hubris), and commitment.

It is not enough to hire top talents, qualified or trainable individuals; employee’s relations is important. The entrepreneur should endeavor to make his employees’ work more challenging; their ideas more accepted, and above all, treat employees more respectfully. This way, they are more often satisfied in their work.  Employee satisfaction with their job almost always brings about improved performance/productivity. The entrepreneur will also do well if he influences the discretionary efforts of his employees.  In addition, Nickels and his colleagues argue that entrepreneurs can best serve themselves and the business if they gradually recruit and groom employees for management positions. This will foster loyalty between the manager and other employees, and among themselves.

Keeping Records

The importance of records keeping to the effective operation of businesses – small or large cannot be over-emphasized. It is good for the entrepreneur to follow good financial procedures. This means you must know something about accounting to understand the language of business. The entrepreneur should follow the rules of business; have control over financial standards, cash flow, return on investment, among others. The point here is that nurturing an effective accounting system early will check against probably losses or failures later.

The entrepreneur might hire the services of a good accountant who sets up such effective accounting systems and shows the entrepreneur how o keep the system operating unhindered.  It is also important that the entrepreneur, as with other business persons, is able to read, understand, and analyse accounting reports and financial statements, so as to run the business effectively.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Internet Business

Prior to the advent of the Internet technology in the 1990s business was reality-based.  Transactions were mainly conducted within a physical space. In the case of tangible goods, product features were sometimes examined and evaluated on the spot before a purchase decision was made.  The possibilities of physical interaction between the sellers and the potential as well as existing buyers were high, especially in the case of personal selling.  In this business, marketing and advertising were mainly through one-way monologue communications, in most cases through such media as telephone, fax or television.  Geographical coverage, in terms of marketing and advertising message, was limited.  

However, following the emergence of the Internet and related technologies, the aforementioned features have altered considerably, and new options and alternatives have emerged.  For example, a web developer in Nigeria could sell his services to an individual or group of individuals in the United States of America (without physical contact), through Internet-enabled technologies. Similarly, a student in any of the Nigerian Universities, say, Novena University, Ogume, could purchase an electronic journal (e-journal), and have it delivered through information-based channels (within the virtual space).  In the same vein, a traveler in Lagos State, Nigeria, could book a hotel reservation in a hotel in Abuja, within the virtual realm.  Similarly, the emergence of companies like Google, e-Bay, Kontera Chitika , Infolinks, and Amazon,  were only made possible by advances in technology. These are but a few examples.  

The emphasis here is that the Internet and its associated technologies have impacted our society tremendously, such that today, businesses and organisations operate in two worlds - a physical space and a virtual space.
The virtual landscape offers endless opportunities for the entrepreneur. In the words of Schuyler, a visit to the world-wide-web, on an exploration of web-based entrepreneurial resources shows catch phrases that include:  "TIRED OF WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE?," "START YOUR OWN INTERNET BUSINESS," "STRIKE IT RIGHT ON THE NET!" AS WELL AS "RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME."  All these developments offer the aspiring and burgeoning entrepreneurs exciting entrepreneurial opportunities. 


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