3 Beginner Lessons for Your Online Business

Last night I returned from Panama and had one of the worst customs experiences of my lifetime. First, the line-up was almost an hour long……and then I was pulled aside for a secondary examination.All three customs agents that interrogated me were astounded I traveled to Panama for 6 days with only a small carry-on bag. It’s called an “Air Boss” bag (from a company called Red Oxx), and the reason I use it is to be able to pack 7+ days of clothes in a small space. (BTW, the bag is great for that, but a pain to carry.) I’m a veteran traveler…or so I thought.As the customs agent looked through my bag, he discovered an apple that I had picked up in the President’s Club of the Houston airport and subsequently forgot about. Apparently I was subject to a $1300 fine for not declaring “imported food”. Fortunately, the customs agent was reasonable and simply confiscated it and told me to eat it before arrival next time.Beginner lesson learned.Speaking of beginners…I’ve had a lot of conversations with online business beginners in the last week, and so I want to share 3 things you should do when getting started online. And these aren’t just theories, but 3 things that I did back in the early 2000′s to dramatically boost my online business.1) Go where the people are and help themFirst, I found the right online forums where I could help the end-user, discover their biggest problems, and eventually start building my list by telling them about my site.Please Note: I was not spamming the forums with sales offers, but instead telling them about relevant articles on my site when it was appropriate. In addition to that, I was helping them every day by answering their questions. Spending 15-20 minutes on a forum everyday can be a helpful strategy at the beginner level. However, be positive. Do not get into negative arguments online. That is a waste of time.2) Network with othersThis is the biggest tip that helped me back in 2002-2003, and to be honest I didn’t even know what I was doing. Back in those days, I was just interviewing other experts for my site, and sharing their wisdom with my readers. I didn’t realize that I was building powerful connections with the people I was interviewing, nor did I realize I was increasing my credibility in the marketplace. All I was trying to do was help others.So start a contact list today of all the great people in your marketplace that you can interview. Contact one person per day. Interview as many of them as you can. Help as many of them as you can.Be a connector and big things will happen for you.You’re going to hear this so much from me that it will probably annoy you – if it hasn’t already – but I guarantee your success will be in proportion to the number of people – and the quality of the people – you know. Get out there and network. Believe me, my trip to Panama was life-changing, and not just because of the info at the seminar, but because of the people I met. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel the world to meet the right people. You can start online – for free – today.3) Fill a GAP in the marketplaceMy friend Barry Dunlop (another one of the extraordinary people I’ve connected with) recommends a great book, “The Secret to Money is Having Some” by Stuart Wilde. And the book can be summed up in 2 sentences.i) Identify a problem people are having.
ii) Solve it.That’s it. That’s all you need to do. Spend a few minutes today thinking about how you can do that. Now obviously there are dozens of other tips I can give to beginners, and trust me, I will. But we’re out of time for today. So just remember, the bottom line to getting started on the Internet is:Simply become the #1 trusted source for your niche market on the Internet while building in personality, entertainment, and education.Essentially, you want you and your site to become the best friend of your readers so that you become their trusted and reliable source of all information in your niche market. It’s also the best way to do business because everybody wins. Keep it simple to get started,Craig Ballantyne
You’ll Be Remembered Most For…
“The people you developed who went on to stellar accomplishments and the people who years later say, ‘You made a difference in my life. Your belief in me changed everything.” – Tom Peters

Mastermind Groups and Online Business Success

I don’t care how long you’ve been in the game, there are times when all of your online marketing tips fail, you get stuck in a rut, and you feel like you’re just banging your head against a wall. These times impact your mood, your income, and sometimes your relationships, as you strive to improve the outlook to no avail. One thing the internet marketing gurus say again and again is that the single most important quality you can have for online business success is persistence, even tenacity.This is the ability to continue banging your head against the wall, even in the worst of times – even when it hurts the most – secure in your faith that something’s gonna have to give, and it damn well isn’t gonna be you. This tenacity and the judicious application of online marketing tips will eventually result in you punching through the wall and again making forward progress with your endeavors, but whether it takes days, weeks, or months is pretty tough to know. One way that you can accelerate the process is through the use of mastermind groups – groups of peers and other entrepreneurs, all taking on the world with their own experiences and perspectives, each offering a different bag of online marketing tips. Here’s how a mastermind group can help you:New Perspectives: Sometimes all you need to do in order to get out of a rut is gain a new perspective on the problem. We often get so wrapped up in the issues surrounding our businesses and the online marketing tips that have worked well in the past that we lose sight of the big picture. The folks in your mastermind group will have no emotional baggage, no institutional memory, and no attachments to the way you’ve always approached your work. This being the case, they may be able to cast a stark light on your processes and procedures, and point out where things can be adjusted or even eliminated in order to produce more revenue for less effort. I find that this kind of insight from my peers can be a double-edged sword – the online marketing tips provided by the group almost always helps my business to take a little leap forward right away, but it also forces me to let go of some of the things that I built into the business for my own comfort and enjoyment. In the end, though, it’s always worth it.Criticism: I love my mastermind group because they yell at me when I’m being dumb. I was recently preparing to launch a pay-per-click ad campaign in a very hot market with lots of competition. I’d put a lot of time and effort into the backend of the business, and felt that the immediate influx of traffic was absolutely critical to making good use of it. When I proudly announced my intentions to “go live,” through the use of PPC, my mastermind group, they attacked me – and pretty viciously. Though I didn’t want to hear it at the time, they pointed out that my motivations for the PPC campaign was personal – I was proud of my site, and I wanted very badly to see folks using it quickly. I was proposing a potentially VERY expensive campaign before I’d seen how well the site would convert and before running even a single small-scale test. They were right, of course. Listening to my mastermind group cost me some pride, but saved me a lot of money. They gave me excellent online marketing tips that kept me from making a costly mistake. The site did need to be tightened up a bit.Competition: There’s no need to delve into this one too deeply, except to say that when we see one of our peers succeeding, it’s human nature to want to catch up. Watching the successes and failures of my group member has done more to teach and motivate me than a hundred hours of reading online marketing tips or forum posts. My group is personal – we know each other and we hold each other accountable. We also try to outperform one another every day of the week.A mastermind group can be a valuable way to keep you moving forward, and to help you avoid costly and time consuming mistakes. Such a group will freely share online marketing tips that you rarely see elsewhere. If you don’t have a mastermind group already, I recommend you get one. One place to find like-minded people is in the Internet Marketing Money Club.