Get Rich Quick (Not!)

As a business coach I get asked about all  manner of ‘get rich quick’ scams schemes. Many so-called ‘business opportunities’ come under this heading. Genuine business opportunities require some form of effort, skill or knowledge to be able to take advantage of them and most require time to bring them to fruition. They often also involve a degree of risk if you make mistakes or just get ‘unlucky’.

The classic is the ‘make loads of money overnight with no effort’ or the ‘everything is done for you’ approach. There is no such thing as ‘money for nothing’, I know – I’ve searched for years and years :-). In the internet world the latest game is to convince you that your own personal robot or software will do it all for you. An example is a recent comment from a reader on the Forum page about an investment trading robot.

No! Software won’t do it all for you, it may take a lot of tedious or routine work off your shoulders, but it won’t make the entrepreneurial decisions or take the key business actions that are essential to success.

There are shortcuts to success in business, but they come from your aquired knowledge and experience and working ‘smart’, not from buying some ‘get rich quick’ scheme.

Don’t Assume – Research!

Here’s an overdue tip I should have shared with you earlier. I was reminded of it when I ran one of my regular Web Academy courses recently. This was an advanced course, and promoted as such, but I kept getting asked questions about some pretty basic stuff. Now, I never mind going over the basics with my delegates, but it occured to me that my readers may be in a similar position with their customers.

We often tend to believe that our customers know more than they actually do. We become so immersed in our own industry and take so much for granted that we forget that what we consider everyday knowledge is completely new and valuable to others.

I’ve often shared information that I considered common knowledge, only to find that it was just what a very grateful customer needed right then!

There are a number of lessons here and a couple of ways to profit from this. The main lesson is – Never Assume the customer knows what you or your product does. Never Assume that you know what the customer wants. In both cases check – research your customers and your marketplace and find out what they need and what they don’t know.

And the two ways to profit?

1. Keeping customers informed of information that could help them or is even vital to them always leads to more business, either directly or via recommendation.

2. The information you have that you could or should share may be so valuable that it is worth money. People would gladly buy it if it was packaged and promoted correctly. The ‘Information Business’ in this world is worth billions. Could you pick up your share with what you know?

Mail Order Business

In my last article on mail order I left you thinking about what gets you really excited and enthusiastic. I asked you to think also about things you know or are skilled at that would be of interest to other people who are excited about the same things you are. I also suggested that you would need to get some idea of how popular this area of interest is in order to establish the market potential.

If you completed this task you should now have at least one idea, probably more, about what you could sell and who might be interested in buying it. The really great thing about turning your passion into a product, or range of products, is that you will already be familiar with your market. You will know what people like you are looking for and what will really excite them. This knowledge should put you well ahead of those who are less personally involved in this area of business.

The benefits of mail order are that you don’t need retail premises, a small mail order business can easily operate from home – many do! You can target a readily identifiable market based on the ideas you’ve evolved. Your main costs are product production, packaging, delivery and marketing. The key areas focus on are, Product, Price, Positioning, Promotion, Packaging and People!


If you know your market as well as you should you will know what features to incorporate into your product in order to appeal to and satisfy your customers. Whether you create a product of your own or source one from someone else is a decision you need to take.

The simple way is to look for an existing product that you know will appeal to your market, and then negotiate a deal with the producer to supply you at wholesale giving you a good profit margin on the resale price. The advantage to this is that you can bring a product to market more quickly than having to design and produce it yourself. A major drawback is that the product may already be being sold in the marketplace. The customer may already be familiar with it and even be aware of the value according to the price being charged by others. This limits your pricing options which in turn may mean that the profit margin available may not be enough to cover marketing and delivery costs and still leave something for your trouble.

Creating you own product, whilst slower and more expensive initially, gives you the opportunity to offer something new to the market on which you can put your own price. Your own product cannot be obtained from any one else so you will not be competing with others selling exactly the same thing. You also have the opportunity to establish your own brand.

This does not have to be an either/or choice. To be successful in mail order you need a range of products. It is almost impossible to succeed in mail order with a single product as the cost of making the first (only) sale to a customer is very high. Most mail order profit is made on what is known as the ‘back end’, the additional products you are able to sell to customers in the future. Therefore you could have a mix of your own and externally sourced products.


The price you charge for your product is critical to your success. It needs to be acceptable to the customer in exchange for the value that you deliver. It also needs to be high enough to cover all your costs, including marketing, and return a profit sufficient to make your business viable. Price too high and the customer may not buy, price too low and you will not make a profit, or even make a loss. One key thing to remember is that price is perceived as a measure of quality. Pricing too low can often devalue the product and lead the customer to believe that it is less valuable than it really is!


Product positioning aligns very closely with price. Positioning your product as uniquely valuable, luxurious, rare or of a specialist nature will command a higher price. Positioning it as a budget or commodity item available to many will devalue the product and reduce the price it will command. Mail order works best for high margin, high value items that people cannot get anywhere else.


Advertising and marketing costs can be very high in mail order. It is the only way you bring your product to the attention of your market. Great care needs to be taken to promote the benefits and advantages of the product to the right people at the right time. In most businesses a high proportion of advertising costs are often wasted, getting very little return in the way of custom. The high costs of mail order promotion mean that you cannot afford too much wasted advertising.

There are four main ways of promoting your product to your market place, each with their own range of options.

Conventional Media Advertising

These include Options such as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, leaflet distribution. They can be national or local in all cases. For specialist mail order products highly targeted magazines are often the best. For products with a wider public appeal the Sunday newspapers are often popular. The only way to determine the right options are by research followed by careful testing.

Direct Mail

Many mail order marketers prefer this method of promotion as it can be easier to send the right marketing message directly to a targeted list of potential buyers. This involves initially acquiring a mailing list of prospects. The simple way is by renting or buying mailing lists from approved mail list brokers. (You can get more information on list brokers from the Direct Mail Association). Another way is by using low cost classified ‘teaser’ ads to generate enquiries and develop your own list. Promoting your product to the customer list of other businesses on a profit share basis is yet another option. The secret to success is to choose the right lists, those which have been proven to produce sales of similar or related products.

As your business grows you will develop your own list of customers to whom you can mail follow up offers whenever you want to bring a new product to market. Look after these customers extremely well, they are the life blood of your business.

Internet Marketing

Increasingly these days, mail order marketers are turning to the internet. Web marketing, online marketing, internet marketing, email marketing are all terms you will see describing their activities. The internet opens up a huge market enabling businesses to reach many more customers than before at generally lower cost than traditional marketing methods. However, as its popularity grows so does the competition which means it is getting harder and more costly to reach this market. Fortunately for you, many businesses are still unfamiliar with the new marketing techniques and are making big mistakes. If you take the trouble to learn how to do it properly, internet marketing can be very successful, even for the smaller or newer business. The internet has leveled the playing field. I will be writing a separate series of articles on internet marketing as we go forward.

Referral Marketing

Word of Mouth marketing has been the way most businesses have grown naturally over the years. Referral marketing is simply taking control of word of mouth marketing rather than letting it happen haphazardly. It can be used by any business whether conventional or mail order and it can be used both offline and online (internet). Referral marketing can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • Incentives for existing customers to recommend you to others e.g. vouchers towards future purchases, free gifts for referring others etc.
  • Network Marketing – growing a network of people who will actively promote your product to friends and contacts, and encourage others to do the same, in return for a share in the profits from resulting sales.
  • Associate or Affiliate Marketing – building a sales team, working on a commission basis, to sell your products. Self Employed Sales associates have been used by many businesses over the years to sell their products and services. In fact I began my sales career as a self employed sales associate back in 1978! Catalogue agents who deliver catalogues to households and take orders for products to be delivered to them are a version of this familiar to the mail order industry. The term ‘Affiliate’ is being used to describe the same type of activity on the internet. In fact Affiliate Marketing online is a huge growth area at present.


Packaging is a very important component of a mail order business. The design of the product pack carries the BRANDING of the product. It needs to promote the quality of the product, highlight the benefits and advantages and satisfy the customer as soon as they receive it that they have bought exactly what they want before they even open it! The packaging also has to protect the product in transit to the customer to ensure that it arrives undamaged and in pristine condition. It also has to meet any specifications of the delivery carrier in terms of size and weight. Getting this right can save you money on delivery costs. It also needs to enable the product to be easily repackaged securely in the event that the customer needs to return it.


By people I mean customers, the people you need to please the most who will decide the fate of your businesses. Keep them happy and they will keep buying and recommend your services to others. Upset them and they will desert you and tell the whole world about it!


When you send a purchase to a customer they are already in a pleasant frame of mind towards you, you have delivered on your promise. In addition you have already paid for this delivery, so don’t waste these two key benefits to your business. Make sure you include quality promotional literature on other products in your range in the delivery package. You will be pleasantly surprised at how soon the customer re-orders. This is FREE marketing and it is where you will make most of your profits.

Good Fortune!

Multiple Streams of Income

Last time I introduced the concept of Multiple Streams of Income. The idea being that, by not relying on a single source of income, you build a more secure financial base.

I also pointed out that, in order to give you the financial freedom you need, each income stream has to work on auto pilot. You really cannot be involved in all the traditional tasks of business in more than one venture at a time. So how do you achieve this perfection?

Two possible ways – the simple and the relatively more complex. So let’s take the simple first!

1. Agency or Affiliate Programs

Basically this involves selling other people’s goods and services (usually on-line though not necessarily). Look for products and services that match your own interests and that you can be enthusiastic about.

Seek out suppliers that deliver quality products and excellent customer service and who also sell via agents or have a good affiliate program. They will then pay you a commission on everything you sell on their behalf. They are responsible for all production, delivery, customer service, billing & collection, after sales etc. And often they will pay your commission direct into your bank – you don’t even have to take the cheques to the bank!

By going down this road, you relieve yourself of most of the administrative & operational chores of running a business. All you do is recommend great products and services to people and watch your bank account fill up!

Another great advantage to being an affiliate is that you can always add to or even replace your affiliate programs as market conditions change. Not an easy thing to do with a business of your own. 

You can get more information on affiliate marketing from my latest website:

2. Multiple Businesses

This is much harder but ultimately more rewarding if successful. As an affiliate you can build up a very nice income, but you will not build a saleable asset. By building multiple small businesses you get the benefits of multiple income streams plus multiple business assets.

An ideal way to approach this method is to look for niche markets. Niche markets specialise in a specific area of interest, e.g. hobbies sports etc. or are focused on a particular group of people, e.g. accountants or guest house owners or people who want to lose weight….. etc.

On-line you can find these markets by looking to see what people are searching for in search engines such as Google or Two tools you can use for this are: which gives you the top 500 search terms each month and which has an excellent search term suggestion tool.

Off-line, go to your local newsagents and scan the magazine shelves – they are literally stuffed with special interest magazines. Look at the classifieds in the back for an indication of what others are selling to readers of the publication. Read the articles and letters pages to find out what this group of people are most interested in. This will give you some ideas of things you may be able to sell to them.

The most important thing to remember is – do one thing at a time and really focus on getting it right! Pick one niche. Research it thoroughly, look for products or services that can be easily obtained and sold to that market. Ensure that your business can be set up in such a way as to automate it. Then focus on building that one business until it is running smoothly on auto- pilot and making a good profit.

Once the first business is up and running, you can repeat the process as many times as you want. Just make sure that each business is monitored to ensure that it doesn’t “fall over” when you are not looking. It’s a bit like the “plate spinning” juggler at the circus – all you have to do is keep the plates spinning! 🙂

Mail Order

This is the point at which the two halves of our article stream begin to merge. From here on this section will focus on different business ideas and ways to maximise their chance of success.

Coming up with a viable business idea – especially one that meets the criteria specified in earlier articles, is not always easy. The best place to start is by examining your own interests. Choosing something you are passionate about means you are more likely to give it the time and focus it needs. Doing something you aren’t enthusiastic about, just for the money, is usually a recipe for failure.

Last week I promised to introduce you to the mail order business. This is one of the few areas where the small entrepreneur can still get in without huge capital outlay. It is also one that can be put on autopilot – if you know how. So how do we tie this in with finding your passion?

Well, if you have a passion for something, chances are other people have the same passion. Instead of spending your money buying things that fuel your interest – find the source of the products & do a deal that enables you to sell them to others, at a profit. Simply put, you find a source of supply – find a group of customers and put the two together. Since you already have the interest you probably also know most of the suppliers and quite a few potential customers. You will also know the kind of magazines those customers subscribe to.

If you are really passionate and knowledgeable about your subject, you may even be able to produce a product of your own. Often the best product for special interest groups is an information product. A “how to” book, or even a video, audio tape or CDROM packed with useful information and insights into the subject could be a great seller to the right audience. The beauty of your own product is that no-one else is selling it!

The other advantage of your own information product is that it can be very inexpensive to develop and produce, but at the same time be sufficiently valuable to your customers to command a good price. This is important in mail order as the cost of marketing can be high. Most mail order marketers look for a selling price of 5 to 10 times actual production cost in order to build in a large enough profit margin to cover all costs and make a good profit.

So, armed with this initial information why don’t you spend the next week thinking about what gets you really excited and enthusiastic. Think also about things you know or are skilled at that would be of interest to other people who are excited about the same things you are. You will also need to get some idea of how popular this area of interest is in order to establish the market potential.

Next time I shall tell you what to do with the results of your thinking.

Until then, have a fantastic week!

Financial Freedom

You cannot achieve true freedom if your focus is constantly on making a living. But, initially, you have to do the work to put the right income generating systems into place.

Now you are on your way to making your budget work & getting rid of any debt burden you are carrying, we can look at ways of generating additional income.

In the session on debt elimination, I asked you to find some spare money in your budget to begin to accelerate your debt repayments. Now, I’m going to ask you to find a little spare time in your busy schedule to put to work making some extra money.

And, what are you going to do with this extra cash? Well, I suggest you allocate one third to speeding up debt repayments, one third to savings and the rest to a little luxury or two for you & your family. After all, by now you probably need a little encouragement & self reward!

So, how are you going to turn a little extra time into future financial freedom? Well, not by stacking shelves at the local supermarket for a start! Nor any other low paid menial task.

It’s time to learn the art of leverage. In other words, use a little time and a little skill to make a bigger income. The true entrepreneur does very little actual work (as we know it), he uses knowledge & skill to apply the techniques we have already begun to cover in the “Going Solo” section of past articles.

If you are already in business, use the extra time to step outside of the business & take a good hard look at how you are presently running it. Are you working hard or are you working smart? The smart business owner works ON the business not IN the business. If you are simply an employee of your own business, you are wasting most of its profit potential.

On the other hand, if you are an employee of someone else, you are probably not yet financially ready to “give up the day job!” But that does not stop you spending a little time on preparing for & building a part-time business.

You may have heard of the principle of “Multiple Streams of Income”. This works on the concept that reliance on one single source of income can be insecure, whereas multiple sources of income give greater security. If something goes wrong with one source, you still have the others.

However, a key requirement for success is focus. It’s no good being a “butterfly” & flitting from one opportunity to the next at random. The way to achieve the security mentioned above is to take your little bit of spare time and build one additonal income stream that can be put onto “autopilot” once it is running smoothly. Only then do you turn your attention to the second stream and do the same again – always keeping an eye on the first to make sure there are no “bugs” in your system.

By working in this way you can multiply the results of your efforts and make the most of your spare time. One day, you could well find that your multiple streams of spare time income exceed the income from the “day job”. If you have set it all up right, you will be well on your way to independence and financial freedom.

So, how do you find these illusive income streams? I shall be going into this in more detail as our journey together progresses.

Too Good To Be True?

How do you recognise a good business opportunity when you see it?

Easy! It’s the one that promises to make you a millionaire in 24 hours with no effort. No, seriously, that kind of promise usually heralds a scam or at the very least overoptimistic hype.

You should be wary of anything that sounds like “get rich quick”. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Similarly, anything that promises wealth for no effort or little investment is likely to end in disappointment. A genuine business idea or opportunity will need some investment of time and money to bring it to fruition.

Look for a sound business plan, proven performance by ordinary people like yourself and professional backup from whoever is presenting the idea or opportunity.