Understanding our digital future

We here at Get Rich Click are thrilled to bring you a series of guest posts from Carol McManus. In less than three years, Carol has leveraged LinkedIn to bring herself over $400,000 in new business! Carol has successfully transitioned from the old world real estate economy to the new world of on-line social media. She found a way to transition her previous success as a Sr. Vice President of Real Estate Operations for Coldwell Banker to Founder and CEO of YWait4Success — a highly successful coaching and consulting firm for entrepreneurs and businesses. While she understands all facets of social media, she has emerged as the leading LinkedIn expert. Get Rich Click is thrilled to share Carol’s thoughts on social media and her invaluable tips and tricks for leveraging dollars through LinkedIn.

From Carol McManus, America’s LinkedIn Lady:

Wondering how social media can benefit your business? If so, then read on.

Social networking is not only here to stay, it is an essential part of the new media mix whether you are a solo-preneur, a local business or a national corporation. Social media vehicles are the new ways to reach existing customers, find new potential customers, and establish your personal brand in the marketplace. There are many choices; the most well-known right now are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

While it is prudent to use more than one option, let’s focus on why LinkedIn should be the foundation of your social media strategy. LinkedIn is the only highly ranked site on the Internet that allows you to have a comprehensive biography about who you are and what you do. You may already have this information on your own website, but chances are you don’t have over 50 million individuals accessing your site on a regular basis.

Let’s put it another way. Your website could be the best website in your industry…great information, attractive design, easy navigation, and more. But without traffic your website is like a train stop in the middle of nowhere. You’re there, ready to receive passengers, but the only thing coming through is tumbleweed and an occasional broken-down pick-up. On the other hand, if you are Grand Central Station, then your passengers have no choice but to find you because you are in the middle of the action.

Simply put, LinkedIn is the Grand Central Station of business relationships on the web and you want to be there. You must be there! If you are in the B2B market (business to business), then this is the place to be. If you are a solo-preneur serving individual consumers, this is the place to be. Very quickly, you will discover that LinkedIn is the best way to position yourself, to be found, and to attract new connections.

If you’re still not sure, here are some specifics that may convince you to give LinkedIn a try. The average age of LinkedIn users is 41 – certainly not the teens and tweens you will find on MySpace. The average household income of LinkedIn users is $109,703 – respectable by any national standard. Looking for an educated audience? 80% of LinkedIn users are college graduates with a high percentage holding graduate degrees. One quarter of the users have a portfolio value of over $250,000. And most important, over 50% are senior level decision-makers in their businesses – hence the reason LinkedIn is ideal for you.

Okay, enough statistics. So what are the keys to make Linkedin work? The answer is to focus on the following:

• Maintain an attractive profile with all sections completed
• Use a high quality and current headshot as your photo
• Strive for a network consisting of a minimum of 250 connections as your goal
• Join a minimum of 10 groups and get actively involved in the discussions
• Open access to your profile so that people can find you and find out about you even before they are connections (biggest benefit over Facebook)

Of course, LinkedIn is not the only site you should use as part of your online media strategy. Any single strategy will have limited success. But this one is an arrow in your quiver that needs to be straight and sharp at all times. In my coming guest posts, you will learn more secrets about how to use LinkedIn effectively to build your business.

In the meantime, please send me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Please mention Get Rich Click. Linkedin.com/in/carolmcmanus

Posted by: In: Blog, Passive Income 02 Sep 2010 0 comments

In part 1, we looked at the idea of passive income not as a lifestyle, but as a sound business strategy for various stages of your business. Investing time into setting up passive income streams early in your business can provide you stability, cash flow, even growth capital if it goes well. In a mature business, passive income can increase profitability without significant expansion. It can also provide an exit strategy for the founder, allowing you to move out of the day-to-day management of the business.

Passive income concepts can be applied in nearly every business. It may not be your core product or service, but if it’s complementary, you may find it a useful marketing tool, as well as a revenue generator. Here are a few ideas that are applicable to a wide variety of businesses:
Information products – Can you create a book, workbook, white paper, audio program, video, etc., that is not merely a loss leader (i.e., a free give-away), but of compelling enough value for people to actually purchase it? One management consulting firm created a library of over 100 white papers, ranging in price from under $10 to around $200. It generates tens of thousands of dollars for them annually, as well as providing well-qualified leads and educating potential clients before they spend one-on-one time with them.

Affiliate programs – Can you sell your product or service online through affiliates, rather than just your own site? Everyone from the solo e-book author to the largest online retailer does. There’s software available for managing your own affiliate program, or you can sell your products through an established site like Clickbank, or make your program available through an affiliate network, such as Commission Junction or LinkShare.
Drop shipping – Is there a product that already exists that you could sell to your current customers, or promote in online marketplaces, that can be drop-shipped from the supplier?

Auto-ship – Can you develop a consumable product that you can set customers up to automatically receive on a monthly or other regular basis? For these purposes, consider things like books and music consumables – think book-of-the-month club.

Licensing – Sell the rights to your intellectual property to someone else – let them productize and market it. This could be a patent you hold or perhaps training materials. You could even allow them to rebrand and resell your e-book (“private label rights”, or PLR). One innovative web site licensed the custom software that runs their site to another company going after a completely different market.

Subcontracting – In the services industry, this is often the key strategy for moving from being a solo consultant to running a consulting firm. By using subcontractors, rather than referring clients to other solo consultants for work that you either don’t do or can’t do right now, you maintain control of the client relationship and can start to earn money off of other people’s hourly work, not just your own.

Odds are that one or more of these models can be applied in your business – if not to your core offering, to a closely related one. If not, find a passive income model you can do personally, outside your business. It’s easiest to do at the outset of your business, before you’re tied up in the operation of a “going concern”; however, it’s never too late to start. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll realize the benefits of passive income.

Posted by: In: Blog, Passive Income 27 Aug 2010 0 comments

Passive income. It’s the Holy Grail of lifestyle entrepreneurship. It sounds great – work four hours a week and make a full-time living. Spend your time on the beach, with your family, or doing whatever else floats your boat.

I know people who’ve done it, but they’re few and far between, which has a tendency to make a lot of skeptics, who then dismiss the concept entirely.

Big mistake!

Most entrepreneurs don’t start their business with the goal of one day owning a second home in Colorado or the Caribbean. (Or both.) They either saw a great opportunity, had an itch that needed to be scratched, or had a big idea of how to change the world.

And most of them fail. Why? One of the most common reasons is cash flow. All too often it’s not even a very big shortfall, nor a very long one, but the business owner simply doesn’t have any more available cash or credit and the orders just aren’t quite there yet, or the product’s not quite finished, or whatever.

And that’s where passive income comes into play.

Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride – passive income just makes sure that you don’t bottom out in the natural dips that come with the territory. Think of it as a heavy-duty shock absorber. And for all those businesses that don’t have piles of VC cash sitting in the bank, it can be a critical business survival strategy.

Passive income isn’t just a startup strategy, though. For a mature company, it can be a path to increased profitability, or a way to expand your business without an external capital infusion. It can also be an exit strategy for the founder – the way to transition from managing your business on a day-to-day business to owning it as an investment – an “asset under management.”

Let’s first understand what passive income really is, and what it isn’t. There are two general categories of passive income:

Residual income is received over time from work done once, for example:

• An insurance agent who gets commission every year when policies renew
• A direct sales rep’s income from her customers when they reorder consumable products
• A dance instructor who produces a video and sells it at the studio where she teaches
• A life coach who creates a workbook and sells it online
• A photographer who makes his photos available through a stock photography clearinghouse and gets paid a royalty whenever someone buys one of his images

There are many different ways to generate residual income across a wide variety of businesses. It may be recurring income from current customers, or automated sales of a product to new customers. It doesn’t have to be fully automated, but any human involvement must be minimal.

Leveraged income is money you make off the work of other people, for example:
• An information product publisher selling through online affiliates
• A network marketer who builds a downline and receives commissions on those sales
• A general contractor who makes a profit margin on the work done by sub-contractors
• Franchising your business model to other entrepreneurs

Again, there are many different models in many different businesses. The key is that you are making money off of other people’s labor, rather than primarily your own, and that you are only paying them when revenue is actually generated, i.e., little or no overhead expenses.

Passive income is not merely recurring income, such as a consultant on a monthly retainer, or a subscription-based publication. While these structures may offer more stability, they also come with an obligation to perform in a timely manner, which has a tendency to rear its head at the most inconvenient times for your core business activity. With truly passive income, basically all you do is process transactions.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what is really passive income and what isn’t. Blogging is not passive income – unless you’ve outsourced everything to a team of writers, designers and virtual assistants and are still making money on top of that. Buying and selling on eBay isn’t passive income – unless you’re selling exclusively items that can be drop-shipped, without you ever touching them. Self-publishing a book which gets sold primarily at the back of the room at your speaking engagements, by you, is not passive income. Making your speaking deal include a copy of the book for every attendee…is.

In part 2, we’ll take a look at specific ways you can apply passive income concepts in your business.

Posted by: In: Blog, New Ideas, Social media 01 Aug 2010 0 comments

At James Malinchak’s event this week, I got to spend some time with my friend and internet marketing genius, Joel Comm. Joel is one of the people who has turned me on to the power of social media in general and Twitter in particular. If you’d like to know more about how to use Twitter to grow your business, check out this interview of Joel by James:

Posted by: In: Blog, New Ideas 01 Aug 2010 0 comments

I spent the last few days at James Malinchak’s Millionaire Speaker Secrets event. During one of his presentations, he was making a point about how little actions can make a big difference. He shared this video, in which dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman (of Extreme Makeover fame) shaves his head for charity after raising $121,000 in donations for the LEAP foundation. James was also the one who called in the final donation that put them over the top on their goal. Little actions, either over time or at exactly the right time, can have a big impact. Do you stay on the lookout for big-impact opportunities in your life and business?

This also made a great lead-in for Darren Hardy’s talk about his new book The Compound Effect – definitely want to download the free excerpt and have a listen to the sample audio.

Becoming “slightly famous” isn’t a prerequisite for success, but it is one path to it, and social media has made it more accessible than ever before. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s available to anyone with a computer without a huge expense.

Author David Garland has interviewed some 200 entrepreneurs for his web and TV show, The Rise to the Top. He recently highlighted 13 unique entrepreneurs who have used online content via social media to build their brands and their businesses. If you’re interested in that as part of your path to success, I think you’ll find them both inspiring and informative:

1. Chris Brogan discusses how he built his business around his blog. (parts 2, 3 and 4)

2. Ali Brown started with an e-zine and shows us how she built a multi-million dollar empire.

3. Online influencer Sarah Evans shares the inside story of her rise.

4. Gary Vaynerchuk shares how he built, marketing and monetized Wine Library TV.

5. Youthologist Vanessa Van Petten shares how she built her Radical Parenting brand.

6. Personal branding specialist Dan Schawbel shares how he created his personal branding empire.

7. Founder of the extremely successful Small Biz Trends Anita Campbell shares her rise to the top.

8. Timothy Sykes makes over 1.3 million dollars a year blogging about investing. Here is how he does it.

9. Josh Shipp shares how he dominates the youth market as a speaker and content creator.

10. Adventure Girl Stefanie Michaels tells her story about how she has nearly 1.5 MILLION followers on Twitter and has built a brand around her love for travel.

11. Show host, entrepreneur and author Amber Mac talks about starting podcasts, shows and building her brand.

12. The founder of Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch shares his rise to success.

13. David Heinemeier Hansson discusses how 37 Signals built a blog before a product.

Posted by: In: Blog, New Ideas 21 Jul 2010 0 comments

2543882652_36bc4cea78 The New York Times recently reported that physicist Erik Verlinde is causing a stir in the scientific community with his claim that gravity, seemingly the most obvious and ever-present physical force in our daily lives, is an illusion, “a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics.”

Sure, it’s controversial now, but what happens when he proves it (to the extent that any theoretical physics can be proven)? What happens when one of the most fundamental concepts of our world view is stood upside down on its head?

And yet, this happens every day on the internet. With the accelerating pace at which technology and science are moving forward, what you think you know isn’t even reliable. Data from 6 months ago is irrelevant, except maybe to look good on a graph presented to investors. Planning beyond a few months (OK, maybe a year) is virtually meaningless, when you consider that the odds are good that a major competitor or even a game-changing disruptive technology may come into play within that time.

Consider this:

  • Amazon introduced the Kindle holiday season 2007. As of holiday season 2009, Kindle e-books outsold hard cover books on Amazon.
  • YouTube is now the #2 search engine on the web. It didn’t exist 6 years ago. It was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion less than 2 years after its launch.
  • Facebook now tops Google in weekly traffic. It added over 200 million users in the past year. If it were a country, it would be 3rd largest in the world. It’s been open to the general public less than 4 years.

Learning how to run a successful internet business isn’t something you’re ever done with, and you can’t run a successful business based on plans and data that’s several months old. Internet businesses now run in real-time. Put the tracking and analytics tools in place to give you a current view of your business, and put the monitoring tools in place to stay on top of the trends and technologies that potentially impact your business. Plan for change. Expect the unexpected and you won’t ever be taken by surprise, even when you find out gravity is just a theory.

Image credit: the mad LOLscientist