Business Quick-Tips

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Business As Usual, Plus Firing My First Employee

I've kept busy these last couple of days by staying on top of my several online businesses. Fortunately the work is rather simple, mainly just communicating back and forth between the freelance workers that I've hired.

I had to fire/let go of an employee yesterday, the first time I've ever had to do that as the big man in charge. I did it once before when I was a manager at Hollywood Video, but this is the first time doing it for myself. It was definitely a new experience. Fortunately, it wasn't for theft or anything that was potentially crippling of the business venture.

I'm pretty proud of the way that I handled it though. I've been reading the book, "Axiom," by Bill Hybels, and one of the things he suggested doing whenever issues with employees arise is to "sit them down" and ask them to "help you understand." So I did that, I asked the employee to help me understand what the issue was that was keeping him from doing his 100%. It turns out the issues were mainly home-based and that he was having a hard time handling work load, so I asked him to take a week off to get things squared away at home, and then come back ready to work. That seemed to work great! He came back stronger than ever; however after a few days his work pace quickly came to a halt. On 3 separate occasions he set deadlines for himself to complete his work, and on each occasion, he missed it. Normally, I would have tried to stick it out with the guy, because he was a genuinely good guy, but his missed work schedule had cost me over $1000 in earnings. It was time to let him go, and find someone that could quickly pick up the slack.

Fortunately I was able to find a new employee within a day. I guess the thing that I learned from this experience is that it is very important to ask your employees to "help you to understand" what may be causing the misstep or delay, and offer them a solution or chance to rectify the situation. In the end, however, it may come down to simply asking them to give up their position if they are unable to fulfill the duties or responsibilies.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Continuing to Expand Web Presence

I finally got the domain name server changed over on my personal website (, which I plan to use on an online business card/resume; however, as you can see, I just have a place holder up right now. If you leave a site blank for too long, it becomes "parked," or inactive, and Google will catch onto that and may even black-list your website, meaning that it would not show up in searches unless directly searched for. Not a good thing; especially if you are trying to promote yourself or a product.

As I continue to bring sites online, I am increasingly becoming aware of my web-development deficiencies. Which is why I am really trying to outsource that process, so that I can focus on what I am good at; business development. I think my biggest problem is that I simply do not have the time during this deployment to really focos on personally building a site. I know exactly what I want it to look like, and how I want it to be marketed, but I just need it built. I'm really trying to find that perfect person/company to build the websites. I had used a company in the past (from MN) to build a website for a company that that I started/developed and subsequently sold, but the support they provided was basically junk, and the website itself was kind of a joke. So the right developer is very important to me. In the meantime, I will continue to look for software or programs that will make site building process a little easier for me.

Any suggestions on user friendly site creator programs?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Looking for a Website Developer

This is just a random pic I found... kinda funny o_O

Just thought I'd throw this out there in case someone is interested:

I'm looking for a website developer to (go figure) develop a website. This is going to need to be done from scratch. However, it is a fairly simple project. Basically going to have 3-5 pages, needs to have web-referencing functionality (similar to google), be php based, probably linux, and user login/account capability. The site is relatively simple and easy to replicate, so I would prefer to not give too many of the details, for fear of someone stealing the grand idea! :)

I'm not going to even pretend that I know a lot about website development (as evidence by my blogger blog being my homepage), but I do know quality when I see it.

If you are interested, please send me a portfolio of your previous work, and I can send you a more detailed description of the project so that you can develop a bid. Thanks!

Send portfolios or samples of previous work to:

Taking Flack

I guess my methods of income generation aren't quite as popular with others as I would have thought. I'm not surprised though, my way of doing things is often very straightforward, sometimes even edgy/pushy. In trying to encourage others to maximize their earning potential, I ended up being the bad guy... Oops! I sincerely wish I could change people's opinions about my methodology, and also about my intentions.

Caught in the crossfire, I attemtped to apologize for any statements that may have been misinterpreted, however, the apologies were quickly shut down. Oh well, I gave it a shot.

The saddest thing about this whole ordeal (the idea that paying for web content is non-kosher), is that it is actually allowed by eHow, as clearly mentioned in their terms of use. In section 4, a/b:

4. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any content on the Site, including without limitation text, audio, video, pictures, graphics, music, sound clips, images, likenesses, personal information and other works of authorship (collectively, "Content"), and including any Content you post through the Writer Compensation Program described in Section 6 hereof, you warrant and represent that:

a) you own all rights in your Content and the performance contained in your Content or, alternatively, you have acquired all necessary rights in your Content to enable you to grant to eHow the rights in your Content described herein and for us to exercise the rights with respect to such Content that you grant herein;

b) you have paid and will pay in full all license fees, clearance fees, and other financial obligations, of any kind, arising from any use or commercial exploitation of your Content; "

I own all of the rights to my content, so it shouldn't be a big deal. Thankfully, some people agree with me. I appreciate all the people that support me by saying that what I bring to the table is a differing view on entrepreneurship.

I guess I should follow my own advice and stay out of the forums. However, discussion groups are meant to encourage diversity, so I would rather continue to stay involved (we'll see....). I would really prefer it if people just blocked/ignored me if they didn't agree with my statements, rather than simply making unecessary comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ok, so it would be cliche for me to say that "you should except speed bumps along the way; slow down and determine what it will take to overcome them." Although this saying is true, I like to respond to them in a manner different than most; at full speed. "Full speed ahead" seems to be a pretty appropriate response, especially when you can tell that the speed bump is small in nature.

Over the weekend I ran into a few speed bumps, receiving bids for website development that were way too high and also having issues getting my web content uploaded at a fast enough pace to make them profitable. Part of me wanted to take a step back and re-evaluate what the problem was and take time to develop a plan to counteract the situation, but instead I decided to take on the issues on full speed. I declined every single bid that I recieved for web development (citing high prices), and I got on the horn with my content guy and strongly encouraged him to pick up the pace.

Needless to say, I was quite surprised when almost 3/4ths of the bids that I had rejected had been resubmitted with lower prices, and my content guy responded saying that he would have all the content completed by the end of the week (it was originally supposed to be done Sept 6th-ish). Back on track!

I'm not saying that taking a step back to plan is a bad idea. And, is it always good to push people's buttons? No. But sometimes a little encouragement to do better can go a long way. Just don't forget some of the sacrifices that your partners may have to make in order to meet your stringent deadlines and price ceilings, it would be wise (and maybe necessary) to pay them back in kind some time in the future.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Self Promotion

In the last couple of days I purchased a some new websites, mainly in preparation for the future. I plan to use one as a home page for all of the websites that I own, and the other I plan to use simply for self-promotion; ie consulting and job searching. This blog is actually on the page that I plan to use for my venture group ( But it will take me a little time to get it developed, in the mean time, this seems like a good placeholder.

I used to not think that a self-promotion site was necessary or even beneficial. But it has increasingly become more and more necessary. If nothing else, it shows that you have at least somewhat mastered an essential piece and basic concept of the new economy: the website.

I plan to use my other website for a short bio, resume/CV, work/writing samples, and contact information, basically an internet business card. We'll see how it turns out! The sites not up right now, but it should be soon.

In case your interested, it costs about $10 to register a domain name (reserve it), and about $4-9 bucks per month to have it hosted (so that you can actually add content to it). Not a bad investment if it leads to job opportunities or career advancement.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Passing an earnings milestone (like $100 per day) or exposure milestone (1,000 views per day) is a great feeling. All of your hard work is finally starting to pay off and the sky is the limit to your success!

However, when this happens, its really important to take a step back and review how you got there and how you are going to sustain those thresholds. How many of your eggs are in one basket? And how can they be redistributed to ensure that you are maximizing earnings or exposure?

Yesterday, I crossed a couple of thresholds. Needless to say, I was very excited. However, the first thing that came to my mind (call me cautious) was, "What would happen if this small business suddenly collapsed?" and "Do I have other sources of income that can support this one if it begins to lag?"

So to make sure that I am diversified, I went for the quick and easy fix. I have been working on writing articles for income, so I already have a very extensive portfolio of relevant, SEO content. It would only make sense that I utilize this portfolio to earn more than one stream of income. So I hopped over to and and signed up for an account. My plan is to put my entire content library on both of those sites. Even if I only make 10% as much on each of those sites as I do on my eHow account, it will still be very beneficial. Making 20% of my current income on web content that I have already generated is a very good deal. However, sticking with my motto of "never do something you can pay someone else to do," I am going to have to find someone to upload all of those articles onto each website. I figure it will cost me about $0.40 per article to upload, at 550 articles, on 2 sites, thats $440. Not too bad. Between the two sites, I figure that I can earn that back in 3 1/2 months. I could upload the articles myself, but I figure it would take me about 4 minutes a pop to upload, or 73 1/3 hours, meaning I am costing myself about $6 per hour.... it's definitely worth it to me to hire someone else.

Make a Hit List

So one thing that I've learned over years of entrepreneurship is to always have a "hit list" of ideas that you can work on. Its inevitable that over time you will get bored with what you are currently working on, or that your current efforts will become stagnant and you need a change of pace to pick up your spirits.

To combat this, I keep a list of ideas/jobs/projects that I can pursue when I get the time. Some of them are small, like submitting websites to Google's webcrawler for increased web exposure, while others are quite extensive, like searching for a multi-unit residential property to invest in. I add to this list whenever I think of an idea, and look back on it often. My list right now is 9 deep.

An important thing to keep in mind though, is that this is NOT a wish list, this is a hit list, a to do list, ideas that you can actually make progress on. If it's a wish list, you may not be able to conquer them as quickly as some simpler ideas and eventually you will forget them and let those ideas fall to the wayside.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ehow Account Expansion

I just added about 30 more articles to my account. I'm pretty excited about that because based on my earnings history, I earn about 3.4 cents per article per day, or just about $1 per article per month. I was earning closer to 5.4 cents per day, but with the new articles, it brings my average down. That puts my total ehow article count to just under 200. However, the exciting news is that I should have just over 550 articles added by the end of the month.

When I first started writing for ehow, I thought that I could add a couple per day on my own. Frankly though, I didn't have the time and didn't want to spend the time writing all those articles. So I simply outsourced the entire writing process. Now somebody else writes the articles, and I just need to post them. Actually... I got tired of even posting them and having the classic "failure to publish" error... so I outsourced that as well :). So now I don't even touch my account, except to check on the earnings everyday, and make sure that my two great freelance workers are plugging along. I have personally written exactly 3 articles for my eHow account. I'm not going to say that the quality of each of the purchased articles is 100%... but for $1.00 each in monthly income, I'm not going to complain.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peer-to-Peer Lending as Residual Income

One thing that I've been doing the last couple years to help pad my income is investing in peer-to-peer loans. Baiscally these are loans that you give to your peers (go figure :) ).

The nice thing is that you no longer have to feel bad about charging your relatives interest for money you loan them, or have to worry about hustling your neighbors if they don't pay up. Instead, there are several websites that have popped-up that will take care of the legwork for you. One website that I use is The idea is pretty simple, you make loans to other individuals in need. Prosper provides credit reports, delinquency information, debt/income ratio's, and employment information, as well as a whole host of information. I'm not going to say I've gotten rich off of it, but I make a few hundred dollars a month in interest off of my initial investment a couple years ago. Not bad considering I used 0% interest balance transfers to fund the investment. (I can explain how to use credit cards to invest if you are interested).

There are a few other peer-to-peer lending sites out there, one other reputible one that comes to mind (besides is LendingClub is virtually the same as prosper, except they are a newer company so they have a smaller customer (loan) base.

Here are some pro's and con's of peer-to-peer lending, and in particular, those of Prosper and LendingClub.
- You can directly pick who you would like to lend to (Sense of ownership).
- You can invest as little as $25 per loan (Helps with loan portfolio diversification).
- Monthly payouts directly to your account.
- The ability sell your loans if you need to liquidate your account quickly (This feature is currently available, but it is still getting the kinks ironed out).
- No managment of loan portfolio (Websites handle payment processing, and account recovery, as well as many other aspects of loan management).

- Relatively risky endeavor, to date about 20% of loans have defaulted (However, most of those were "E" or "HR" credit ratings).
- If you choose not to sell your loans, you must wait three years for maturity.
- No face to face interaction with borrower, ie, borrower may be misrepresenting himself online.

Overall, peer-to-peer loans are just another aspect of my online income portfolio. There are obviously more pro's and con's that could be said, but I'll leave it to these for now. If you are interested in some of the financial information from, you can check out this website for more information:

Moving forward....

Ok, so I decided to give up the "article" aspect of this blog, and instead make it my "blogbase" - ie, the common link between my blogs and basically everything else that I do for now.

I'm currently working on getting my websites back up and running. One of them that I was using ( was closed somehow, and I'm not exactly sure. It had been used as a fully digitized public domain sheet music distributer. Where people could purchase .pdf versions of sheet music that are no longer in print. It took me about six months to set up, and I had it up and running for about six months, and then it got shut down. It was pretty good earner too. I'm thinking that one or two of the songsheets may have been copywrited still. I just wish the owners would have told me so that I could remove them from the website instead of contacting the host and telling them to shut me down. (In case you are wondering, music that is writen prior to 1923 and that has been re-written/edited is public domain, which means that anybody can monetize it.)

I'm going to try to search through my music again to ensure that nothing is copywrited, and then get it back up and running. We'll see how it goes!

For now, a good chunk of my income comes through my articles.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

There is something undeniably romantic about the concept of being a freelance writer. For many people the idea of making their living writing has a great deal of appeal. However, before you can become a freelance writer, there are some skills you will most defiantly need.

Skill Number 1: Good writing ability
It does not matter if you have the best ideas in the world. If you are unable to express your ideas well in writing you will not be able to get very far as a freelancer. A good suggestion is to take English courses either at a local university or online. By doing so you can build a solid platform from which to expand your skill set.

Skill Number 2: Self discipline
Some of the world’s greatest writers have never been discovered simply because they lacked the discipline to sit down and write. By developing the discipline to write even when it is not fun you will help yourself in your goal.

Skill Number 3: Meeting your deadline
There is probably no accurate way to count how many would be freelance writers failed simply because they could not meet deadlines. Before you begin to work as a freelancer, make sure you know what you are capable of. Also, make sure that you don’t let anything get in the way of your deadlines.

Skill Number 4: Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more
Even if you don’t have anything in the way of paid work on a particular day you should still sit down and write something. You need to keep your writing skills as sharp as possible, and this means writing a lot even when you aren’t getting anything from it. However, be careful not to fall into a routine of over easy exercises. The goal of practicing should always be about improving your skills.

Skill Number 5: Learn from everything you do
Great writing comes from a person’s ability to write about the every day and make it interesting. Do your best to observe everything around you. Practice describing the sunrise as it breaks over the untamed mountain side. Learn, learn, learn. You never know when something might have the story you have been waiting to tell.