How to Start a Business in Maryland Online With No Money

Our BackupChain volunteer project this year will be a free seminar held at and sponsored by the Arbutus Library in Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland.

Titled: “How to Start a Business in Maryland Online With No Money” / “How to Start Your Online Business”

Please join us on in the Arbutus Library Meeting Room, more details below including an outline of the session

2017:
January  3, 2017 & 24th at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

​Feb 14 and Feb 28 at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

March 14 and March 28 at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

April 4 and April 25   at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

An article was posted about our group in The Huffington Post, details below:

how to start online business

Section 1: Core Materials (a subset of these in each session)

 

What Online Business is and what it is not

  • Money on autopilot. Is it a myth or reality?
    • How to make it a reality
    • Other strategies
  • Digital products and services vs. physical products and services
    • Music, ebooks, software, videos, and virtual services (example Fiverr)
  • Welcome to the Virtual Organization
    • Virtual assistants
    • Partner companies, suppliers
    • Outsourcing your tasks and sourcing your services and materials nationally and internationally via the internet
  • Scams and how to spot them

Basics to Get Started

  • Why do you want an online business?
  • How to find your niche: What and how are you going to sell?
  • Hand-on: what to sell?
    • how to use Google like a ‘hungry’ entrepreneur
    • personal interests overlapping with customer needs & wants
    • talking vs. doing: what customers say they want vs. why they actually pull out the credit card
    • Hidden Google commands and how they reveal business opportunities
    • Quick market research using free online tools and methods
  • Consumer behavior online and how it differs from the ‘physical’ world
  • Online tools to locate real business opportunities
    • How to distinguish real from fake and the ‘numbers trap’.
    • Bing’s and Google’s Keyword Planner and other research tools

 

The Psychology of Business (these bits will be ‘thrown in’ as we go)

    • Hurdle #1: The top reason why you don’t have an online business already
      • You!
      • Motivation & achievement drive
      • Fears: fear of poverty, rejection, failure, etc.
      • Procrastination
      • Limited support network
      • How to get started “mentally”
    • Is lack of funds a hurdle or an excuse?
      • Doing it alone vs. teaming up
      • Venture capital vs. self-funding
      • Time vs. money.
    • Time commitment
    • Razor sharp vision
    • Enthusiasm and determination to do whatever it takes
    • Hurdle #2: What we call “School damage”
      • (Expecting to be/)Being told what to do vs. being a self-starter
        • How to change behavioral patterns
      • Not speaking up / waiting until ‘permitted to speak’ vs. the ‘loudest kid in class’
      • Initiative
      • The Intrinsic Learner vs. ‘bulimic learning’
      • Self-talk, thinking patterns, and internal belief system: a double-edged sword
      • Scheduled, structured, routine time management imposed externally vs. complete freedom (and necessity) to manage own time
    • The psychology of the customer / consumer
      • in what “mental state” do people coming to your website? ready to buy? just looking? ooops, wrong place!
      • quick and concise please
      • the entire truth… when would a car sales person mention that this specific car is “rather small”?
      • the analytic customer, the impulsive buyer
      • emotional reasons or practical reasons for buying: wants to solve a problem at hand?
      • why s/he buys: money, feeling secure (not wanting to lose something), to be liked, prestige, power, popularity, recognition, buying “cutting edge tech”, dating sites (affection needs), self-improvement
      • Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs
      • a need has to be fulfilled / a problem has to be solved
      • how people “tick”: “I see what you mean”, “I hear what you are saying”, “I feel your pain”
      • free!!!! freemium tactics
      • make him/her comfortable, welcome, feel important, show you understand and empathize, show your appreciation
    • The psychology of selling
      • what do you want to sell and why? do you love it / are you obsessed with it / are you an expert? Are you a “likable” character / personality?
      • who do you want to sell to and why?
      • who do you not want to sell to and why?
      • how your website is perceived
      • what the hell is this?
      • what are you selling?
      • who are you?
      • why should I listen/read?
      • why should I believe this?
      • how much does it cost? (show price or not? make prices easy to find?)
      • “protecting” the visitor from his/her own biases
      • is there a win-win? is this a “good deal”?
      • The mindset of the visitor before he ‘enters’ your website and how it matters
      • Hot, warm, cold, and useless traffic
      • what happens at the sales transaction
      • why everyone hates salespeople
      • selling vs. consulting
      • the tone of your writing and how it affects your audience’s perception of your company
      • visuals and how they affect perception, especially online
      • listening vs talking and phone consultations
      • why books, people, and websites are judged by their cover/packaging, and how it relates to online business
      • trust factors: why should the visitor trust you? How to establish trust quickly
      • user testimonials, security seals, money back guarantee, buyer protection, etc.
      • solving the buyer’s problem or perceived problem
      • the buyer’s perception of price. risk, and value/worth
      • will you be around tomorrow?
      • will you run away with my money?
      • will you help me when I’m stuck?
      • hidden fees and other traps (will you rip me off?)
      • pricing, reputation, time in business, customer list, referrals, appearance (web site + product), other product or service characteristics
      • how product is received: speed, packaging
      • bundling
      • size matters: why perceived company size is very important
      • comparisons with other products / services / offerings and substitutes
      • who does the comparison? You or the buyer?
      • closing the sale (web site vs. on the phone or via email)
      • buyer personalities: apathetic, highly motivated, the analyzer, the friend, the Nazi, the social butterfly
    • What is a business, especially when it isn’t brick and mortar?
    • How to set up your internet presence
    • Legal status considerations
  • How to set up web domains, web hosting, web design, WordPress
  • DIY or outsource? Where to find help on a low budget
  • Company formation vs. sole proprietorship: fundamental legal differences and potential repercussions
    • S-corp, LLC, etc.
    • Company address and how it matters
  • Strategically protect your current employment (things to do and not to do)
  • Limit your liability and protect your wealth
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights and infringements. How to protect your property

 

Marketing

  • Who is your potential customer? categorize
  • Where is your potential customer? Where are they hanging out? How can you get exposure?
  • What does your customer want and need?
  • How can you place customer ‘bait’ strategically to attract potential customers?
  • How to find out how your potential customer approaches the internet with his/her wants and needs
  • How to do marketing online efficiently on a very low budget
  • Google
    • your friend as well as your worst “enemy”
    • the Internet’s gatekeeper
    • traffic monopoly
    • Google-related statistics that all online marketers should know
    • How Google turned the “free” internet into a competition
    • Google: a mainly text-based marketing machine
  • Quality vs. quantity of online traffic
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • How to work with search engines effectively
    • Keywords and their critical importance in online marketing
    • What to do and what not to do
    • Link building
    • Avoid Google penalties and rank your online business presence over time
    • Building multiple sources of company exposure
    • The anatomy of a successful web site and page from a SEO perspective
  • Google AdWords
    • Opportunities
    • how to burn $1,000 in a second: probably the biggest small business trap on the internet
    • Background info: what Google does not want you to know
    • Google’s only real money source and how/why Google became big in the first place
  • Google and You
    • How people (customers) use Google (interesting statistics)
    • How search results are ranked
    • Ads versus ‘organic results’: Trust factors
    • Eye tracking studies
    • Page position and click through rates
  • Google vs. Bing/Yahoo
    • Crucial technical differences
    • Different Audiences
  • Content Marketing
    • The truth about Google and what Google really wants
      • Will you receive what you want by giving Google what it wants?
    • How you can get “free” traffic for a long time
    • How to capture this traffic and convert it into a customer relationship
  • Social platforms and how to exploit them for exposure
    • LinkedIn: Get exposure and draw traffic to your website
    • Online Forums: make people aware of your solution without being a spammer
    • Blogs: get the attention of industry influencers. Advertise on specific blogs that your target audience is likely to visit
    • Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and similar platforms
    • Danger: Is it worth all that money and work? For some types of businesses yes, for others no.
  • Mobile internet users vs. desktop PCs, how it differs by industry and why that’s important
  • Testing:
    • How to measure whether a marketing strategy really works
    • Keeping track of progress and compare to alternatives
    • How to prioritize your time
    • Quickly trash ideas that don’t appear work
    • Be willing to re-test: when to pull ideas out of the trashcan
    • Your time is your biggest asset
  • Negative SEO: online ‘warfare’ between competitors

 

Internet Marketing Hands-On: “Dissecting” a Competitor’s Online Presence

Group agrees on a subject/product/company and we look at:

  • Who and where they are
  • Which tools to use
  • What information to collect
  • How to crunch the numbers and make meaning
  • How to “distill” keyword phrases you can use in your own marketing strategy
  • Uncover traffic sources they likely use
  • Where and how they advertise
  • Discover their partners so you can contact them directly
  • Discover what kind of “bait” and schemes they use
  • Estimate how much money they make / whether they are successful
  • Success indicators
  • Signs they are in trouble
  • How to spot high competition indicators for specific markets
  • Who their competitors are
  • Find out what customers really want and think by reading your competitor’s product reviews
  • What insights we can get through their social media campaigns

The “Mechanics”

  • Payment processing and order fulfillment
  • PayPal, Amazon Payments, Virtual Terminals, POS terminals, and order processing
  • Order fulfillment centers, ex. Amazon Fulfillment services and other options
  • DIY: shipping nationwide USPS, UPS
  • The mechanics of selling online and where to sell online
  • Discuss different platforms like E-bay, Amazon, etc.
  • versus selling on your own website
  • check payments, purchase orders, credit card payments, bank transfers
  • costs and commission fees

 

Dangers

  • What to watch out for: traps, scams, legality, liability, fraud online
  • Fake ‘marketing’ and incompetent SEO companies
  • Your own health: Burn-out, depression, internet addiction, stress, family & friends
  • Competition
    • How online business is “too revealing”

“Top Secrets”

  • How to communicate with customers efficiently online and offline
  • Tips for web design, email communication, phone orders, live chat
  • Proven strategies to grow your online reach
  • How to build a fan base
  • Trust online and how to establish it quickly
  • A/B testing: because no one has all the answers and things might be different than they look like
  • Using AdWords as a research and survey tool
  • How to cover tracks to protect against competitors
  • Book recommendations and online resources
  • you want “loyal” customers, not satisfied customers. they need to become obsessed fans of your brand
  • Service and top-notch, exceptional service. Be your own customer. Empathy, willingness to work as long as it takes to fix a problem or help a customer. Help even if your company can’t help->refer.
  • Guerrilla marketing: look for unusual opportunities for low to no budget exposure, online and offline
  • Make more money by offering: better quality, better service, knowledgeable staff, locally sourced materials/products, environmentally friendly solutions, made in USA, better guarantees, essentially making the customer purchase risk free, financing, and finally by being a pleasant partner to deal with (fun, helpful, reliable, honest, accessible).
  • you have certainly heard: “don’t compete on price”, the complete rule is actually “don’t compete”
  • striving for continuous improvement (yourself + your business), the infinite cycle of:
    • measure
    • improve
    • test

 

When?

 

2017
January  3, 2017 & 24th at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

​Feb 14 and Feb 28 at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

March 14 and March 28 at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

April 4 and April 25     at 7 PM  (Tuesdays)

2016:

July 27th at 7 PM and

August 3rd and 17th at 7 PM

September 14, 2016 and 28th at 7 PM (Wednesdays)
October 11 and 18th at 7 PM (Tuesdays)
November 16 and 30th at 7 PM (Wednesdays)
December 7 at 8 PM (Wednesday)

Dec 20 at 7PM

Location

Arbutus Library in Baltimore, Maryland.

Website: http://www.bcpl.info/arbutus

Map and directions: