Intelligent Ways Of Investing

Let's say you've got your hands on a pretty large sum of money. The first thing you bought to do is handle any withstanding debt that you may have; Then, you should establish a sum of money that you need for immediate expenses and small extravaganzas. As for the amount you have left, it's best to invest it in order to start producing revenue for the years to come.

One of the best investment opportunities in the world is gold. This precious metal has a consistently high value and is considered to be an actual hedge against inflation and other similar processes, so it's rather safe to buy even in these times of financial uncertainty. You can purchase it in whatever shape suits you best, whether it's bullion, stocks or derivatives. However, keep in mind that the first two are longer long-term oriented, while the last one can bring you quick profits, but is pretty risky at the same time. Just make sure you have the appropriate storage means, so that you will not be exposed to the risk of being robbed.

Another good idea would be to acquire stocks or shares in a company. If the firm obtains profits, your investment will increase in value; Contradarily, if it goes bankrupt, your shares will also plummet to the ground. This is why it's very important that you first take some time and analyze the current situation of the company in which you're about to invest. Make sure you take a look at its policies towards investors, as well as any other matters that may be of interest to you. This way, there will not be any unpleasant surprises for you down the way.

If gold and stocks are not exactly your thing, there's always the alternative of buying real estate. This kind of purchase can be quite expensive, so it's not something to do on a whim. Still, some people say it worth the trouble, since it can bring you a much larger amount of income in the following years, especially if you decide to rent it or re-sell the property when prices have gone up.

Finally, be aware that most experts agree it's best to create a diversified portfolio of investments. Use part of your money for larger purchases, such as real estate, another part for stocks and shares, and the rest for commodities. This way, you will be "covered" no matter what happens to a particular market or to the economy itself.

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.

Online Shopping For School Supplies

This season, when it comes time to back-to-school shopping, many parents have decided to switch to online shopping for the supplies and even Dell computers their children need. One could find anything and everything on a child's list for school through various online stores and Internet sites that are connected to real brick and mortar stores. Besides being convenient, getting supplies for school through online vendors, there is also a money saving incentive. Most of the online stores are significantly cheaper than the real world stores, even those connected to a real world store.

Canada online shopping is a big deal because they save even more money and taxes when they shop through the Internet rather than in the brick and mortar stores. Many of the online stores will offer free or very low cost shipping if a person's order total goes over a certain amount and with school supplies, this is easy to do. From notebooks to crayons and staples and pens, most of the online stores carry everything a student will need to outfit them for the new semester ahead.

Now is the time to begin hunting for bargains with all the back-to-school sales, even if one does not have a child going to school. These discounts are for everyone and anyone; They do not have to be a student in order to save money on things like laptop computers, folders, rulers and high tech calculators. Canadian online shopping consists of many different electronics, school supplies such as notebooks, pens, papers and books as well as discounts on clothing and shoes, everything a student would need to go back to school.

For students who are going off to college or universities that will be staying in a dorm or apartment, they need more items then the typical school supplies. These students will need home furnishing type supplies and most of the time; These types of items are also on sale at this time of year. These items consist of bed spread sets, desk and chairs, organizers for a desk, organizers for bathroom necessities for those who share a bathroom with others, small kitchen appliances and area rugs as well soft style floor seating.

There are many smaller office supplies or desk equipment that one may need during the course of a semester that they should purchase now to save themselves from running out and getting it later. Things such as a three hole puncher, ruler, protractor, paperclips, brads, rubber bands, masking and scotch tape, sticky notes, erasers, scissors, colored pencils, markers, glue and white-out. These things may not be used everyday but could be used at some point in the semester for a special project and it would be nice to have them on hand.

A lot of online shops will ship faster service for a small fee if someone needs a certain supply right away for a project. For example a poster board in a certain color or a type of scissors with a wavy edge. These are items that would cost less to purchase online then at the local supply store or book store and saving money is what college students need to do everywhere they can.

There are a couple of things to beware of when shopping online. One is the shipping and handling fees. Most companies are reducing their shipping fees in order to bring in more customers. However, they are raising their handling fees to make up for this lack of income. An individual would be wise to shop around for an online shop before filing their shopping cart they will no doubt save even more money.

There are also some stores online that will charge taxes and other that do not. There is no law that says an online store needs to collect taxes from a state where they are selling to. For example if a person lives in Missouri and they are shopping at a place in Texas, they may have to pay a Texas state tax online but they do not have to pay Missouri state taxes. This is something to watch out for.

Advertising Through a PPC Campaign: Significance, Benefits & Effectiveness

In this tech-savvy world, a click gains a lot of significance. Almost all the entrepreneurs, big or small, know that to make the business successful, the growth of online reputation is required, which can be obtained through a good amount of traffic to the website. Nowadays, popularity grows online and nonetheless to say, PPC is the best tool to approach visitors to a website in a short span of time.

Now, every PPC expert knows, how does it feel to gain more clicks to the website without the growth of conversion rate. Return On Investment or ROI & Return On Advertising Spending or RAOS are the two key factors that can measure the conversion growth of a PPC campaign.

With the progress of digital marketing, pay-per-click has got a global approach for its generation of clicks. Google AdWords & Microsoft Bing are the platforms that help the marketers to run a PPC campaign where the advertisers have to pay a particular amount for each click on their ads. This process is more appropriate for buying visits to your sites and is different from the organic visit learning process.

Why are PPC campaigns effective?
This paid online advertising system ensures your ad will be displayed on the SERP and will come forward once a particular keyword or phrase is being typed. This makes the search fast and accurate. Once the ads are clicked, it redirects the visitors to the website or to the landing page, the advertisers wish their viewers to show. The advertisers have to pay on the basis of the clicks on the ads.

These clicks can be of two types. Some of the clicks can be considered as false clicks as they do not generate any sale or increase revenue of the organization. On the other hand, the clicks that generate sales actually proclaim the ROI from the campaign.

In spite of these issues, an optimized PPC campaign can be proved quite cost-friendly as it approaches the visitor's individuality. Let's see why-

The comprehensive pay per click management services help you to save time as the advertisers have to pay once the ad is clicked. The advertisers can easily track the conversion rate and can also check out whether the clicks are genuine.

The fastest approach is the major advantage of a PPC campaign. As an advertiser, you can get search results faster and your traffic ad campaigns are also launched fast.

PPC ads focus on the targeted traffic and generation of the high rated leads to your website which makes a campaign faster and competitive in the fast growing market.

Control on the budget as per the need of the advertisers is easier in the PPC campaigns. Setting a budget goal depends on the requirements of the advertisers.

Flexibility is the major benefit one can acquire from the PPC ads because the budget can be modified at any time on the basis of the advertisers' requirements.

Moreover, importing the report from the Google Analytics helps the advertisers to track the entire situation and parameters which give them a platform to judge their performance level.

So, is PPC useful for the smaller businesses too?
This is one of the major questions that can come to the mind of a small scale business entrepreneur. The reason behind this is most of the beginning businessmen think that PPC campaign may cost them a lot of bucks. But in reality, a small-scale trade requires much more attention than a big scale organization.

Experienced tradesmen know that the first impressions can be acquired in the beginning. Achieving better rank than others is not an easy thing in this highly competitive market. So, no doubt, a good and thorough survey is needed before a small scale entrepreneur jumps into a PPC marketing.

Before jumping into the action, a small scale tradesman should remember that if an optimized PPC campaign is handled carefully, it can generate good revenue and if not, it can ruin the entire scenario. Starting slowly and spending money gradually on the campaign can help the small scale businessman to track the progress depending on which they can spend more money in the future.

No matter how small you are and how new your company is, hiring experienced PPC campaign can provide you benefits always. Lowering the CPC rate is one of them, which can be done with the help of many techniques. Not only that, a previous experience of PPC campaign organizing platforms like AdWords, Bing or Facebook ads is certainly an added advantage.

Things to keep in mind before running a PPC campaign

CPC – Cost per click determines the cost that the advertisers have to pay for the per click in the campaigns.

CTR- This is the ratio of the viewers who have clicked on the ads and the users who have viewed the page only. In a nutshell, it refers to the ratio between the false clicks and the genuine clicks.

Google AdWords- This is a PPC advertising platform that helps people to create ads that appear on the search engine and helps the advertisers to get the major rank on the SERP.

What to do before running a PPC campaign?
The majority of the pay per click ad benefit comes into action when the click and sales conversion rate goes parallel. But in reality, the conversion rates become less than the click rate most of the time. That may affect the CTR or click through rate.

Searching the potential and targeted audience is the first and foremost thing one should do before beginning a campaign. An entrepreneur should know to whatever he or she will sell his or her product or service and should generate the ad campaign on that basis.

Some tools that facilitate a PPC campaign
A PPC campaign has to run smoothly and for that, you need to utilize some of the equipment that simplifies the PPC ad system. Some of them are given below-

Google Analytics
AdWords Editor
Bing Ads Editor
Facebook Power Editor