Critical Steps For Constructing A Profitable Online Business

If you had asked me about making money online four years ago, I would have called you a liar. I was a blue-collar worker who never touched computers.

I woke up every day at midnight to deliver bread to grocery stores. I hated my job; I hated my life, but I didn’t know how to escape.

In 2011, I started listening to podcasts. I found Pat Flynn and got excited about the idea of creating a location-independent online business. I studied any information I could get my hands on. What I found got me far, but I decided that investing in a course from a well-known marketer would help me reach the next level.

I was sadly disappointed. The course was $697, which was a HUGE investment for me at the time. We were living paycheck-to-paycheck. There were a few good tidbits, but overall the course was designed to up sell students on the marketers “elite” program.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson and forced me to learn these four steps to creating a profitable online business. Use these strategies to create freedom in your “work” and give you the flexibility to spend your time on the things that are important to you.

Here are the 4 steps to creating a profitable online business:

 

  1. Build a sizable and engaged following

You are probably familiar with the theory of 1,000 true fans. The reality is that you don’t need a thousand fans to start making serious money. If your fans are engaged, they will spend money with you and tell others about your business. So, how do you build a following? There are a few ways:

– Social media. This is my least favorite way because the organic reach of social media is pretty small these days. More times than not, you will have to pay to reach your audience. Even though the engagement is low, there’s still an opportunity to reach the billions of users on social media.

– Get interviewed on Podcasts. Podcasting is huge and only getting bigger. These days, people listen to podcasts more than traditional radio. You can sign up for a service like Radio Guest List and have shows emailed to you every morning that are looking for a guest like you. Get interviewed on as many shows as possible, and some of those listeners will come back to your website. In 2012, I was interviewed on 80 podcasts and brought 100,000 visitors back to my website from the shows.

– Write for large authority sites. You can write for some of the biggest websites in the world. Websites, such as the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine– among others– are always looking for good content. Since these websites publish so much content, they’re always looking. You can get a free guide that walks you through how to get into these sites on my website.

These are a few ways to build a following fast. Just using these strategies, I’ve been able to build my email list from 3,000 people to over 24,000 in one year.

“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”– Bonnie Sainsbury

  1. Stop chasing influencers

When you’re building an online business, the common advice is to connect with an influencer in hopes of them giving your business a shout out. Because so many other people are trying to do the same thing, this is bad advice. Influencers such as Pat Flynn get hundreds of emails every day from people looking to “connect.” The time you spend chasing could be spent building your business using the strategies I mentioned above. You can connect with an influencer as a colleague once you build your business without chasing.

 

  1. Focus on what will help your business

A lot of times, the frustration in building a business comes from information overload. We see someone talk about making six-figures using Instagram, and we’re focused on Instagram marketing for the next month with no results. Because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you, just. You have to focus on what will help you where you are in your building journey. You can ask help from expert business coach to guide you.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to sell

You may have the sincere desire to help people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t charge a fair price for your products/services. The goal is to create freedom and that comes from your business making money. Don’t be afraid to sell. If someone opts out of your email list because you made an offer, so be it. As long as you’re not spamming your list, you only want those who are interested– not the tire kickers.

I found Pat Flynn and got excited about the idea of creating a location-independent online business. When you’re building an online business, the common advice is to connect with an influencer in hopes of them giving your business a shout out. The time you spend chasing could be spent building your business using the strategies I mentioned above. Once you build your business without chasing, you can connect with an influencer as a colleague.

A lot of times, the frustration in building a business comes from information overload.

Things to consider when designing your workplace

The work environment is progressing at many companies these days, resulting in the need for new office design. At some businesses, for example, individual cubicles and offices are being dismantled in favor of a more open environment in which an employee’s work station is wherever he happens to plug in his laptop.

Whatever the specific design, the emphasis today is clearly on being lean and flexible, says Alan Feltoon, managing principal at Washington, D.C.-based MulvannyG2 Architecture. He is one of three experts we consulted to come up with questions small-business owners should ask before designing or refashioning an office to meet the requirements of today’s fast-changing workplace.

Do I want to encourage transparency and camaraderie

More companies are knocking down walls and cubicles to create more open space. Now, top executives and managers may even sit in open areas with other employees. Feltoon recalls an office he designed for an investment bank, where he used glass instead of solid walls and provided open space for impromptu get-togethers. The owner of the firm wanted people out in the open to convey an image of transparency to clients. An open design also can encourage team spirit. When you open things up, all of a sudden, you have a vitality and transparency that encourages participation, conversation and learning, says Janet Pogue, principal at Gensler, an architectural firm based in Washington, D.C.

How do I provide privacy when necessary

While you may want a more open office design, it’s still important to provide spaces where employees can work quietly on individual tasks or simply have a private conversation. People spend about half their time in focus mode, so the office needs to have a mix of me spaces for individual work and we spaces for group work, Pogue says. She suggests designing privacy rooms where there are no visual distractions.

How much space do I really need

Office designers used to plan for about 250 square feet per employee, which included a walled workspace with a desk for a computer and personal items, such as photographs. Now that number has dropped to 150 square feet. The photos are on each person’s laptop, which can move from home to the office and then to different locations within the office. Feltoon calls it a ‘work from anyplace mindset, and with an increasing number of companies letting employees work from home certain days, the office may only be partially occupied at any given time. You don’t want to pay for more space than you have to, he says.

What if some people often work from home

As it becomes more common for employees to work at least partly from home, companies need to be concerned about home office design, too. Ergonomics is an important but often overlooked issue in home offices. Being huddled over your laptop at the kitchen table is not the way to go, says Tom Polucci, senior principal and director of interior design for HOK, a New York City-based architecture, engineering and planning firm. The computer monitor should be positioned properly relative to your chair and desk height to avoid stress and strain on your back, neck, shoulders and eyes. You also need the right kind of lighting to reduce glare and eye strain. You might hire a consultant to help your employees set up their home workspace. your health insurance provider might have information available to assist employees with home office set up, Polucci says.

How can I make my space flexible

A young, growing business that is expecting to add services and employees doesn’t want to be pouring precious dollars into reconstruction. Pogue suggests keeping your space as flexible as possible. You can buy desks and tables on rollers for easy movement to reconfigure a space on the fly and create plug and play areas where employees can take their laptops to work. Private offices can double as huddle rooms for group meetings, and you can use dividers to make conference room space as big or as small as needed.

How do I make my reception area warm and welcoming

The reception area is the first impression someone is going to have of the company, says Polucci. So, it’s important to create a comfortable and hospitable atmosphere. You can impart a feeling of warmth by allowing daylight to stream in and by making artificial lighting indirect and soft. Some designers suggest specific paint colors to convey a certain vibe creams and beiges for sophistication, blues for honesty and loyalty, and greens for prestige. The overall space should not be imposing. If it is a large lobby, for example, we create pockets of space within that volume for people to have a comfortable place to go, Polucci says.

What do I want my office space to say about my company.

Your office design can help communicate your corporate mission and image to both clients and employees. That can be especially important if you change your business model. Pogue uses the example of UBM, which with Gensler’s help, redesigned its office to reflect its transformation from a century-old print media company into a 21st century online media firm. Their San Francisco office was moved from a dated 1980s style cubicle farm into a bright, open and fully networked space that communicated the paradigm shift the company was undertaking, she says. The space redesign not only clearly reflected the company’s new focus and products, but allowed their employees to live the brand on a daily basis.. In picking the right color for your office you should be careful because every color has its meaning and great impact on business.

What kind of employee behavior do I want to encourage

Your design can incorporate elements that will help you achieve certain results. If you want to encourage recycling, for example, you can install recycling stations throughout the office, providing easy access and clear instructions. Do you want more mingling between employees in different departments Create a centralized coffee bar or printing station that will entice them to leave their immediate work area and share their thoughts with co-workers from another group.

Do I have comfortable places for employees to relax and socialize

Popular spaces are cafes, pantries and other spots where people naturally congregate. Some businesses offer more elaborate amenities, such as fitness rooms, acupuncture message therapy centers, dry cleaning drop-off points, and wellness rooms for everyone from nursing mothers to employees who don’t feel well. Creating spaces that allow employees to get some exercise and socialize or rest is important to create a sense of balance and well-being, Polucci says.

How do I make the space as green as possible

Thinking in terms of sustainability is becoming the norm in office design, Polucci says. We’re designing every project with a sustainable focus, from mechanical and electric to lighting to recycled, renewable and reused materials. And we’re to a point where many of the sustainable choices add no cost. For example, some overhead lighting will automatically grow dimmer as more natural light enters the space. Such a system can pay for itself in reduced energy bills within three years, Polucci says. Many green offices also use carpeting made of recycled content and wood harvested from sustainable forests.

While you may want a more open office design, it’s still important to provide spaces where employees can work quietly on individual tasks or simply have a private conversation. People spend about half their time in focus mode, so the office needs to have a mix of me spaces for individual work and we spaces for group work, Pogue says. The photos are on each person’s laptop, which can move from home to the office and then to different locations within the office. Private offices can double as huddle rooms for group meetings, and you can use dividers to make conference room space as big or as small as needed.

Their San Francisco office was moved from a dated 1980s style cubicle farm into a bright, open and fully networked space that communicated the paradigm shift the company was undertaking, she says.

Features Of A Profitable Rental Property

From the first decision to invest in real estate to actually buying your first rental property, there is a lot of work to be done. This task may be daunting for the first-time investor. Owning property is a tough business and the field is peppered with land mines that can obliterate your returns. Here we’ll take a look at the top 10 things you should consider when shopping for an income property.

Starting Your Search

You may want a real estate agent to help you complete the purchase of a rental property, you should start searching for your investment on your own. Having an agent can bring unnecessary pressure to buy before you have found a property that suits you. The most important thing is to take an unbiased approach to all the properties and neighborhoods within your investing on property range.

Your investing range will be limited by whether you intend to actively manage the property (be a landlord) or hire someone else to manage it. If you intend to actively manage, you should not get a property that’s too far away from where you live. Your proximity to the property will be less of an issue if you are going to get a management company to look after it for you.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 things you should consider when searching for the right rental property.

  1. Neighborhoods: The quality of the neighborhood in which you buy will influence both the types of tenants you attract and how often you face vacancies. For example, if you buy in a neighborhood near a university, the chances are that your pool of potential tenants will be mainly made up of students and that you will face vacancies on a fairly regular basis (during summer, when students tend to return back home).
  2. Property Taxes: Property taxes are not standard across the board and, as an investor planning to make money from rent, you want to be aware of how much you will be losing to taxes. High property taxes may not always be a bad thing if the neighborhood is an excellent place for long-term tenants, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. The town’s assessment office will have all the tax information on file or you can talk to homeowners within the community.
  3. Schools: Your tenants may have or be planning to have children, so they will need a place near a decent school. You will want to check the quality of the school as this can affect the value of your investment when you have found a good property near a school. Prices will reflect your property’s value poorly if the school has a poor reputation. You will be mostly concerned about the monthly cash flow, the overall value of your rental property comes in to play when you eventually sell it and retire someday.
  4. Crime: No one wants to live next door to a hot spot for criminal activity. Go to the police or the public library for accurate crime statistics for various neighborhoods, rather than asking the homeowner who is hoping to sell the house to you. Items to look for are vandalism rates, serious crimes, petty crimes and recent activity (growth or slow down). You might also want to ask about the frequency of police presence in your neighborhood.
  5. Jobs: Locations with growing employment opportunities tend to attract more people – meaning more tenants. To find out how a particular area rates, go directly to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or to your local library. You can rest assured that workers will flock to the area if you notice an announcement for a new major company moving to the area. However, this may cause house prices to react (either negatively or positively) depending on the corporation moving in. The fall back point here is that if you would like the new corporation in your backyard, your renters probably will too.
  6. Amenities: Check the potential neighborhood for current or projected parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transport hubs and all the other perks that attract renters. Cities, and sometimes even particular areas of a city, have loads of promotional literature that will give you an idea of where the best blend of public amenities and private property can be found.
  7. Building Permits and Future Development: The municipal planning department will have information on all the new development that is coming or has been zoned into the area. If there are many new condos, business parks or malls going up in your area, it is probably a good growth area. However, watch out for new developments that could hurt the price surrounding properties by, for example, causing the loss of an activity-friendly green space. The additional condos and/or new housing could also provide competition for your renters, so be aware of that possibility.
  8. Amount of Listings and Vacancies: If there is an unusually high amount of listings for one particular neighborhood, this can either signal a seasonal cycle or a neighborhood that has “gone bad.” Make sure you figure out which it is before you buy in. You should also determine whether you can cover for any seasonal fluctuations in vacancies.

Similar to listings, the vacancy rates will give you an idea of how successful you will be at attracting tenants. High vacancy rates force landlords to lower rents in order to snap up tenants – low vacancy rates allow landlords to raise rental rates.

  1. Rents: Rent will be the bread and butter for your rental property, so you need to know what the average rent in the area is. Taxes and other expenses, then you have to keep looking if charging the average rent is not going to be enough to cover your mortgage payment. Be sure to research the area well enough to gauge where the area will be headed in the next five years. If you can afford the area now, but major improvements are in store and property taxes are expected to increase, then what could be affordable now may mean bankruptcy later.
  2. Natural Disasters: Insurance is another expense that you will have to subtract from your returns, so it is good to know just how much you will need to carry. The extra insurance can add up and eat away at your rental income if an area is prone to earthquakes or flooding.

Getting Information

Talk to renters as well as homeowners in the neighborhood. Because they have no investment in it, renters will be far more honest about the negative aspects of the area. If you are set on a particular neighborhood, try to visit it at different times on different days of the week to see your future neighbors in action.

The Physical Property

In general, the best investment property for beginners is a residential, single-family dwelling or a condominium. Condos are low maintenance because the condo association is there to help with many of the external repairs, leaving you to worry about the interior. Because condos are not truly independent living units, however, they tend to garner lower rents and appreciate more slowly than single-family homes. (For more insight, read Buying A Condo and Does Condo Life Suit You?).

Single-family homes tend to attract longer-term renters in the form of families and couples. The reason families, or two adults in a relationship, are generally better tenants than one person is because they are more likely to be financially stable and pay the rent regularly. This owes to the simple fact that two can live almost as cheaply as one (as far as food, rent and utilities go) while still enjoying dual income. As a landlord, you want to find a property and a neighborhood that is going to attract that type of demographic.

When you have the neighborhood narrowed down, look for a property that has appreciation potential and a good projected cash flow. Check out properties that are more expensive than you can afford as well as those within your reach – real estate can often sell below its listing price. Watch the listing prices of other properties and ask buyers about the final selling price to get an idea of what the market value really is in the neighborhood. For appreciation potential, you are looking for a property that, with a few cosmetic changes and some renovations, will attract tenants who are willing to pay out higher rents. This will also serve you well by raising the value of the house if you choose to sell it after a few years.

As far as cash flow, you are going to have to make an informed guess. Take the average rent for the neighborhood and subtract your expected monthly mortgage payment, property taxes (divided by 12 months), insurance costs (also divided by 12) and a generous allowance for maintenance and repairs. Don’t lie to yourself and underestimate the cost of maintenance and repairs or you will pay for it once the deal is done. If all these figures come out even or, better yet, with a little left over, you can now get your real estate agent to submit an offer and, if everything goes well, order business cards with Landlord emblazoned across the top.

The Bottom Line.

Every state has good cities, every city has good neighborhoods and every neighborhood has good properties, but it takes a lot of footwork and research to line up all three. When you do find your ideal rental property, keep your expectations realistic and make sure that your own finances are in a healthy enough state that you can wait for the property to start producing cash flow rather than needing it desperately. Real estate investing doesn’t start with buying a rental property – it begins with creating the financial situation where you can buy a rental property.

Property Taxes: Property taxes are not standard across the board and, as an investor planning to make money from rent, you want to be aware of how much you will be losing to taxes. High property taxes may not always be a bad thing if the neighborhood is an excellent place for long-term tenants, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. Every state has good cities, every city has good neighborhoods and every neighborhood has good properties, but it takes a lot of footwork and research to line up all three. When you do find your ideal rental property, keep your expectations realistic and make sure that your own finances are in a healthy enough state that you can wait for the property to start producing cash flow rather than needing it desperately. Real estate investing doesn’t start with buying a rental property – it begins with creating the financial situation where you can buy a rental property.