Is this fun… or work?
When I am trying to crystalize an idea for this site and it won’t focus, I often jump in my canoe and go for a row. Technology is such that I can even take my computer with me and write and row.
the beauty and quiet always…
seem to unlock new thoughts.
So am I working or playing? We accomplish and earn the most when the answer is both!
Learning the new art of earning without stress grows in importance.
Years ago when we started our Ecuador Living site, I wrote about the breaking down of the social contract we call money.
This site said: Money as most of us know it is a promise by society and this promise has not kept pace with change. This promise also has not been unpinned with realistic mathematics. Demographics from an aging society and the nature of the Western political model mean that monetary promises made cannot be kept.
In the example, 60 million baby boomers have begun to retire. Many of their pensions and social security will be severely squeezed by inflation, leaving one of five options.
#1: Keep working
#2: Move to less expensive areas within the US
#3: Export retirement
#4: Live in near poverty
We boomers are the most spoiled group of consumers as a demographic class that has ever existed on earth. We were promised the world. We were given the world. Now the magic is beginning to disappear.
Our Ecuador Living site shows one way to export retirement but its success and the many expats who have moved to Ecuador mean that many expats there need to earn as well. Plus many cannot nor choose not to move. Yet they need extra income.
Plus we should keep serving! We feel better… we live longer… we are more fulfilled when we have a purpose and serve mankind.
This is why we offer several courses that help you learn how to earn. Here is an excerpt from the update we are doing on our online course: How to Create and Earn Extra with your Online Micro Business written by our Webmaster, David Cross. (Excerpts below.)
Finding Products to Sell Online
By David Cross
It’s true what they say; running a restaurant is no saunter in the park…and I should know.
My first foray into the restaurant business was in the summer of 1976 when my sister and I opened the Blue Whale in Blackpool, England. Our establishment was perfectly suited to our target market, the throngs of shoppers who frequented our local high street shops were in need of a snack or breakfast-on-the-go before shopping. By all accounts we did a roaring trade serving tea, coffee and sandwiches every morning starting at 8am.
We turned a profit on every sale and we had many happy, repeat customers who told their friends about us. Our business grew so quickly that we had to build new tables and seating into the main dining room.
However in spite of our successful beginnings there were a number of events that irrevocably changed the face of our business and eventually we had to close shop.
First and foremost, the head chef staged a one day “down tools” in protest at working conditions. “I already make breakfast and cook 3 meals a day and I didn’t expect to be making sandwiches and tea for 2 hours every morning…and please will you replace the cheese and bread that you’ve sold?”
I just couldn’t find decent staff to meet the demand, but I think that my mom probably did have a good point. However I took some of our daily takings and bought her some flowers. This seemed to do the trick as next day we were back in business and I explained to our regulars that we’d run out of food the day before.
Next we had a small disaster when the jocund, rotund Mrs. W. fell through one of the wooden orange crates we were using as seats and it took some effort to extricate her from the splintered box she now sat on in our yard.
But perhaps the biggest calamity to the business was that my sister and I both had to go back to school; she to 5th Grade and me to 7th Grade. The Blue Whale had become extinct.
In the 4 weeks we were open in that summer holiday of 1976 my sister and I each supplemented our 10-cents a week pocket money 20-fold, which is not surprising as we had free labor and zero raw materials cost.
Where to Start…What to Sell
Running a restaurant or indeed any business with physical inventory is inherently riskier than running an information marketing business. Too much stock…too little stock…late delivery, refunds and returns, ever-changing exchange rates (if you’re importing), calculating profit margins as a percentage of production and operating costs and sell-by dates to name a few of the pitfalls of running a physical (rather than virtual) business.
But sometimes, you get the idea that selling physical products is the way to go and begin your search for companies who can make your new idea or invention. But there may be a better way when you’re just starting than tying-up all your money in widgets that you must sell! Why not consider selling a physical product that someone else makes, stores and ships for you?
In this case I am referring either to becoming an affiliate of a company or to finding a company which will drop-ship the products you wish to sell.
In the first case, many companies like Amazon.com offer an affiliate program that allows you to receive a commission on any items Amazon or Barnes and Noble sell. You refer the customer through a special affiliate link on specific products you sell. The link is “tagged” and on each sale you receive a commission of up to 15% (6%-8% is common).
Many companies offer affiliate programs. It’s possible that there’s a company which sells products of interest to you or your fledgling business that you could start selling immediately. Visit the store you are interested in and ask if they have an affiliate program.
You may also check Commission Junction to browse products available for sale including information products. Why not try Clickbank.com which sells solely information products and for whom you can become an affiliate. Both companies act as middlemen for many companies and individuals wishing to sell their products online.
The disadvantage to these methods is that the customer is never your own and hence it is difficult to do any follow-up marketing or sales.
If you want to sell physical products for bigger commissions, then you may wish to find companies who offer drop-shipping. This is where you offer products for sale, take payment and then pass the order to a company which fulfills the order for you. Normally the customer is your customer and the drop shipper will not try to make further contact with or sell to your customer.
You can find companies who drop-ship their products by first looking for products you are interested in. Ask the company whether it offers drop shipping or you can just work with existing companies which offer either drop shipping services or those which provide lists of companies who will offer drop shipping.
World Wide Brands is a company which maintains a comprehensive database of companies and also will drop-ship. I’ve found their database of drop shippers very helpful over the years. They recently started offering a service to build online stores. Although I have not used that service nor found the staff with whom I spoke to be particularly knowledgeable about online business, I am unable to recommend that aspect of their business.
Other companies that offer drop shipping services are Inventory Source and Doba. Each of these charge monthly fees for their services. These companies are specialized warehousing and order fulfillment centers who offer drop shipping services and from where you may search for products and download product lists.
If you are building an online shopping cart, many drop shipping companies and affiliate programs provide a comma-separated list of products so you can quickly set up your online store.
Most companies who offer drop shipping do not charge a monthly service fee and only set minimum order amounts. Before using a drop shipper for live buyers, you may wish to place an order (or have a friend do it) to test that the order is fulfilled as you would expect them to do. Use live “real customer” orders. As with anything, Caveat Emptor…”Buyer beware” . Always do your due diligence.
Getting Attached to an Idea
It is very common to become emotionally vested in an invention or business idea. It’s tempting to believe that your unique idea or invention is worthy of development, especially if it has no competition. In reality, most marketers will tend to shy away from a completely original idea without some sort of established market or competition. This is especially true if you are just starting out in business.
You may feel that selling someone else’s products is not a good idea and that it’s best to invest in your own unique idea. However, over the last 30 years I’ve seen many garages stacked with boxes of good ideas that didn’t sell – everything from books to vitamins to sunbathing towels for the beach. It’s easy to test new product ideas to an existing customer base but it can be difficult to build a new business on a totally new and unique product.
Drop-shipping may be a good option to explore and help you build your sales and customers while you refine and perfect your next great invention.
In our next article, I will share some ideas about how to test-market products without actually needing to sell anything.
See how to earn with writing and micro publishing.