Saturday, January 5, 2008


Happy 2008!

At this point, everyone’s probably making new year’s resolutions that include the usual about making money and losing weight, and reflecting back on what went wrong with 2007. Don't spend too much time looking back, you can't change what's passed, so take a quick assessment, make some notes for moving forward, and brush your shoulders off. I’ve also taken on a couple of new ventures just one week into the new year, but why waste time?

Got $100 lying around?
Continuing on the theme of “broke” entrepreneurs, I want to highlight this concept of starting a business for under $100. has an entire section of businesses you can supposedly start for $100 or less, but frankly, most of the things they list are a little on the cheesy side and I’d like to see more real life examples of people who’ve actually started some of those businesses.

This site, The Hundred Dollar Business, started out as a blog and grew so popular that it was born into a full fledged site. I absolutely love it. $100? And you’re off? You’re talking MY game right there. Lots of great information and ideas there, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Can you start a business for $50? $25, anyone? It would be interesting to see exactly how low you can go!

Where is the love, eBay?
eBay has changed the way they display eBay Store listings. I already had reservations with the way they previously demoted Store Listings to the bottom of page, which established a sort of hierarchy, putting the eBay seller’s listings at the top of the results, and store owners’ listings displayed at the very bottom, list style without thumbnails. Like most people, if I’m searching for an item, I’m going to browse the items from the top of the list and probably make a choice before I reach the bottom, so the store owners are in a sense penalized out the gate.

Well, now eBay has further collapsed that structure to include a link at the bottom of the eBay sellers results, that says, search eBay stores for this item. So now I have to click a link to even see the stores’ listings. The only time the store listings figure prominently in the results is when there are no seller listings to push them further down the page.

I’m curious as to why eBay is dropping the visibility on the stores, when this represents consistent revenue for them, whether or not there’s a sale. It’s unfair and I think detrimental to the performance of the stores. They must not think there is any competition for them in this arena so they can do whatever they please.

I did say, Backup, didn’t I?
I mentioned before the tedious recovery of my hard drive after a format. After several attempts, the product Easeus Data Recovery did recover nearly all of my data, however, I’m finding that a large portion of the documents are recovered but damaged. I’ve opened some, because I see the name and I recognize it as the file I want, but when I open it, its something totally different. And many of the mp3s bear one name but play a different song altogether. So while the recovery was a success, due to me taking so long to recover and continuing to use the computer in the meantime, a lot of my data was scrambled and overwritten. My fault completely. Whenever you have a crash and you plan to do a recovery, shut the computer down, don’t let anyone use it if you hope to do a full 100% recovery. I knew this but didn’t follow my own advice. Anyway, another advantage to being an Easeus customer is not only the free upgrades, but they freely recover files such as Microsoft Word, simply by emailing them to the tech support team. They’ll fix it and return it to you within hours. I can’t praise them enough!

My 2008 Resolutions for RBE
I expect things to be slowing down with my day job, so I'll have more time to devote to doing what I really love, which includes this blog. I'd like to focus on more success stories and profiles of Broke Entrepreneurs that I've met mostly through authoring this blog and the comments and feedback submitted. I also resolve to get back to regularly updating - its not that I don't have the content, I actually write content nearly everyday and just save it to my flash drive but after a while, if I haven't posted it yet, I go back and read it and change my mind. I've had a contest set to launch for months now - I promise I will get that going by the end of the month because it will be a great way to kickoff 2008.

Here's to a new year of launch and flight!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Should you pay for the opportunity?

A lot of people are supplementing their entrepreneurial dreams with side sales such as Avon, Mia Bella candles, Noah’s Ark, etc. Sometimes these products can be a nice accompaniment to your business, such as, offering Noah’s Ark stuffed animals with a Bounce House business. Many of the sales programs are absolutely free to join, and others charge a small fee, so you may wonder if the fee-based programs are legitimate or worth your while.

I’m usually always preaching that you shouldn’t have to pay anything to make money, and that’s mostly true, especially when it comes to job applications or business opportunities – but I have to admit that its not ALWAYS true. You have to be smart, use your best discretion, and research. There actually ARE times when a small, reasonable fee is justified.

Someone just recently reminded me of a work at home company for which I briefly worked a few years ago, where I would process telephone orders for those As Seen On TV items and other infomercials. I sat in the comfort of my home and the company routed the phone calls to my telephone, and I made decent money doing it, but initially, I had to pay a small fee for the background check. I forget how much, something between $15 and $30, not much at all, and I made that back a hundred fold in a couple of months. In that case, I only paid for the company’s expense in doing the background check and giving me access to not only their copyrighted training materials, but also their database of corporate clients – a risky step on their part when you consider that I could have copied down that database and went off and started my own company. From what I heard, a few people actually attempted that very thing.

With some of the distributor and independent sales companies, they require that you purchase some sort of starter kit of samples that you will use to call on your leads. Even though you may have joined as someone else’s downline and they stand to gain a small commission off of your purchase, don’t let that stop you from examining the program more closely. Some of the programs, IN MY OPINION, are just way too overpriced and prohibitive to you getting started or making any profit of your own. I’ve seen some where the starter kits are upwards of $300 or more, then you make a paltry 10-15% per sale, on hard to move items, so you are more likely to end up stuck with a bunch of samples you don’t need, and out of hard earned money. But I do think that companies are justified in asking for something REASONABLE upfront, because not only does this help separate the serious, ambitious people from the ones who will just waste time and not put any effort into their business, but they are also giving you discount purchasing privileges to their inventory and access to their business materials. You pay a yearly membership fee to shop in certain warehouse clubs, well these companies are allowing you to purchase their products at deep discounts, and if it were just open sesame and everyone could become a distributor with no commitment, you could easily join, buy up their inventory at a discount, and then quit and resell the stuff on your own.

So don’t discount the company just because they require upfront money. Research the company thoroughly, see what other distributors are saying about them – do you find forums filled with unhappy sales agents? What are their complaints? Were they not able to turn a profit? No support from the organization? Do they feel that they were ripped off?

What are you getting for your membership fee? Is it a nice product package? Does it have resale value? Check out eBay also to see if others are selling/buying this package in case you quit the business and need to get rid of it.

Find several forums of other sales agents and mingle with them BEFORE you join. See what they are saying about the company. Don’t forget to check the BBB website for both your state and the US.

Is it a product that you have tried, love, and believe in? You can’t sell something you have no knowledge of or experience with, and definitely not something you have no passion for. Your love for the product will shine through in your sales pitch, so your sample kit will also allow you to formulate a clear opinion about the products. And if you’re a fan, the money you spent on the kit won’t be a waste because you can use it yourself or give it as gifts!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Really Broke Entrepreneurs TV?

It was suggested to me, so I've been really bouncing around the idea of Really Broke Entrepreneurs Television, but since an actual television show would cost me several thousand dollars, even on public access, the natural choice would be none other than YouTube. It would be so easy - and free. I already have the ideas and format laid out, and as usual, I've developed the whole program in my mind, but the reality is that right now, I just can't make the time commitment. However, YouTube is a excellent tool for all entrepreneurs to use for their business, especially broke ones - because its free! I think its time we start harnessing the power of this fabulous service and use it for good.

Think about how many times each week or even each day you are either emailed a link to a You Tube video you just "must see", or how many websites you visit where they have highlighted a particular Video of the Day to share with their visitors. It could be a funny video or a clip of an actual newsworthy event, but videos tend to spread as fast as email chain letters. And with YouTube serving at least 100 million videos per day, I can't even imagine what that translates into in terms of actual visitors. You only need a small percentage of that to view your offering, and like it, and then share it with their friends.

Everything is popping up on YouTube these days and I'm really interested in how its gone from just a fun, social site to a serious business tool. Major companies are using it to promote their own products by uploading videos or commercials targeted to the YouTube crowd. What's been most exciting to me is the way bloggers have taken to creating video blogs to accompany their entries so you can share a more personal audience with your favorite blogger. One great example is low carb diet expert Jimmy Moore, who now does regular videos of himself (and wife Christine) preparing low carb meals or conducting an interview with another person of interest to his readers. It adds yet another dimension to the entire blogging experience and broadens your overall exposure and reach!

Did I mention that YouTube is free? Of course, they're not the only free video sharing site around, but right now they've got a lead over the others because they're the first and the most well known, and they currently have the largest number of users. I've seen some video sites where you can't comment or vote on the videos, so the experience is pretty much one-sided, but at YouTube, not only can you get feedback from the viewers but you can include links to your site and other information about yourself and your business that will help drive viewers from YouTube to your own website.

I suggested to a cake decorating friend that she set up a YouTube channel and show videos of herself creating some of her artistry, then discuss techniques and interesting stories from behind the scenes of this growing industry. I thought it would be a great way to build an audience and get exposure for her business, especially since she plans to ship her fake cakes all over the world. She hasn't put my idea into action yet, but a quick search on YouTube uncovered many others who had the same idea, and one in particular has had over 45,000 views of their cake decorating tips.

So how can you use this in your business? The same way you would use a blog. If you're selling a product, create some videos that show you demonstrating the product, or put together your own mini infomercial of others using your product and giving testimonials. Dress up your video with background music, graphics, and opening and closing credits. If you need help with this, don't hesitate to enlist the aid of the nearest teenager with a video camera - which, these days, should be just a stone's throw away! You can easily edit your video with Windows Movie Maker, a free program included with Windows.

You can also make video commercials for your service business, or create a commercial to drive traffic to your website. Have fun with it and come up with some creative ways to use this in your business. Think of it as having the keys to your local television station - and you can go on the air and do whatever you want to do without worrying about how much this is going to eat into your budget.

I'm really liking the idea of Broke Entrepreneur TV. I can just see myself interviewing local successful entrepreneurs for their backstory on how they started with next to nothing, and having them give tips to my viewing audience. Maybe even take some questions ahead of time by email. It could be a lot of fun as well!

If video doesn't interest you, next time, we'll look at how you can use podcasts to effectively market your business.