Archive for Business

Google Apps, A Easier way to Run Company E-Mail

It used to be that most companies would have to run and manage  their own servers in order to allow employees to send email. This is, however, is very expensive and very time consuming, however, as usual, Google has come up with a solutiuon called Google Apps which lets companies pay Google and use Gmail for their company email along with other Google services. Google Apps costs $50/user/year and if you compare that to the costs of buying, setting up and maintaing a server it is much less expensive. It also allows employess to utilize Google Contacts, Calendar, Chat, Docs and many other services. Another benefit of this is Google backs up their servers so users do not have to worry about backing up their data. This utilizes the best web application suite on the internet and makes web communication and collaboration easy. I reccommend that anyone who is starting a business or anyone overhauling their current email system to give Google Apps serious consideration.

The Internet has Made Doing Business Easier

Prior to the emergence of the Internet, business had to be facillitated over the phone, postal mail and in-person meetings but, now the Internet is well established and has grown and cultivated the development of many tools that have made communicating, networking, learning and doing business in general far easier than it was for the prior generation of entrepreneurs.

Before there was the Internet business people had to network by traveling to conferences or by a chance encounter in their day to day lives. Now there are tons of ways to network with people around the World without leaving your desk. In fact, there are even social networks who’s primary goal is to help people network like LinkedIN and many people have begun to use Facebook to achieve this goal now as well. These networks not only let people meet other professionals but, also let them have discussions and develop business relationships no matter where in they are in the World!

Communication used to only be done by phone calls, postal mail and in person meetings which made business slow and collaboration difficult. But now because of Internet communication and collaboration are much simpler and almost instantaneous! This because of the creation of services like E-Mail, Instant messaging, and many web tools like Basecamp that let people collaborate over the Internet.

The Internet also allows people to research and learn about business and learn all they need to know without having to read books that are outdated. It also let’s people help each other over forums and other networks to share ideas and advice.

Most importantly, the Internet allows people to do business over the internet and has spawned a whole new generation of businesses. With the Internet you can buy and sell products and services without having to operate a brick and morter store! It also has developed and entire new industry of products and services which has cause many new people to become entrepreneurs and develop their own businesses.

The Internet has greatly accellerated the Global economy and I believe that it will continue in the future and will be a great help to get us out of the current economic recession and make the global economy even stronger than ever.

iPhone Application programming, A Great way to Moonlight

As I have said many times before, the iPhone and iPod Touch has revolutionized the mobbile device not only with great features but, also because of the app store which let’s practically anyone write and application that can be distributed and or sold through the app store to the millions of users! The full developer program costs $100 to join and that gives you access to all the developer tools you need and the ability to distribute them over the apps store. If you choose to give your application out for free, then it costs you no extra money to host and distribute the application. If you charge, then Apple takes 30% of all revenue and then the developer gets to keep the other 70%.

I believe the iPhone developer program is ideal for a extra way to make some money either for someone in the workforce developing applications in their spair time or a student developing when they are not in school. If they can develop an app that people want then, they could make some good money just by better utilizing their spair time. I am not saying this is easy since you do need to learn how to program for the iPhone SDK but the good news is that Apple provides a bunch of very helpful tutorials that are able to be downloaded from the Apple developer site. If you have a good idea for an application and a decent amount of free time, consider learning how to program the iPhone it is a nice way to supplement your salery and boost your resume.

The Future of Finance

The age of using paper and coin money is nearing the end. More and more people are using Debit and credit cards because with one swipe they replace the handling of cash completely! Also, more places of business accept credit and debit making it a viable replacement to cash. First off, card based payment take up a lot less space than cash and coins and do not get worn-down or rip. You can also put as much or as little money on it as possible and can always add more.

Although, a no-cash system is very appealing, there are several issues that must be resolved before this can be successfully implemented. The first and probably most important issues is security. Identity theft and credit card fraud occur way too often and would become even worse if people use cards for their daily cash. They need to implement better security, I would recommend adding thumb print scanning in addition to the signature that is already required. I also believe that if this system is implemented that law enforcement officials need to treat fraud as a much more serious crime because this could rob someone of everything they have and the criminal can be out on the street in 10 years, this is unacceptable! The next thing that needs to be implemented is a universal system because as of now, some stores take some credit cards and not others but, if people need to depend on cards as their daily currency, there needs to be one card that works everywhere across the country. This may be difficult to determine because every big company will want to get it but, there needs to be one universal system or every store must take every type of card, which makes one universal card seem much more feasible. The final thing that needs to be implemented is a better way to monitor your account online and send alerts to moble devices. Mint.com has excelled at this but there are still features that need to be added.

A world without cash will be interesting because people can buy products much faster and waiting in line will be a thing of the past. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before this can be done but, I think that this will begin to shift in the next ten years if not sooner. I am all for this asking as the security issues are addressed and repaired.

Websites are Similar to Real Estate

Although most people wouldn’t think of it, websites are like the digital equivalent of  real estate. If you really think about it, both websites and real estate are both investments that almost always increase in value. Although location is not a factor for websites, a domain name that is memorable, and availible is very important for the survival of a website. The final similarity is that improvements that cost very little to do, but, increase the value of the website exponentially.

Websites, as I have stated many,many times cost very little to start and can with skill, hard work and a little luck, the website could be worth millions of dollars. Digg.com is a great example of this because Kevin Rose initally used $10,000 of his money to get Digg started and  now the site is worth around $100,000,000!This shows that with a good plan, talented people and some money from some venture capital firms you can build a valuable, triving business.

Since websites exist online and not in the real physical world, the golden rule of “Location, Location, Location”  does not apply however, you need to get fomain name that is available and is memorable so people can come back to your site. Domain names are crucial and can be fatal if you choose the wrong one. The whole domain purchasing process sounds easy but, it can be very tedious because the domain may already be claimed or could be “squatted”. My method is to list all my name ideas then look them up to see if the domains are available and eliminate domains that are claimed or not good enough. From their eliminate the less desirable domains down until you are left with the domain you plan on using.

Building and adding value to websites is also inexpensive, websites start only with the value of the domain and from there, anything added to the site adds value and like in real estate where a $50 can of paint jumps the value, little new features that cosr you little money can increase the site value signifigantly. If you are the only developer and you are not paying yourself, then you are only using time but, if you are developing even if you are paying $1,000 for developing the service, you still are able to make money because that service may add more than $1,000 of value.

In conclusion, websites are the internet equivalent of real estate because they increase in value exponentially, they have a crucial factor to their success or failure, and in expensive improvements can increase the site value exponentially. The vast majority of people can afford to build a website and it is a great investment just like real estate.

The Art of Domain Squatting

Domain squatting is when someone buys a domain name just to hold on to it or to put ads on it, as apposed to using  the domain to host a real website. These people are the  enemy of webmasters and web designers everywhere, however, they are really smart, investors who try and predict future trends and can make a lot of money. These people risk their investment, although only about $10/year, and they are several methods of monetizing a domain with very limited work. The first method is putting ads on a landing page where people would be presented with ads, these advertisements give money to the domain owner everything someone clicks on it. This revenue can be used to cover the annual cost of the domain and since domains are only $10/year,  depending on the domain name, there is a good chance of making a profit. An other option is if you can find someone who is interested in buying the domain name, then you could make a lot of money off of something that cost you very little to buy. For example, Digg bought the domain name for $1000 and made the original owner a lot of money just because they put a little bit of money up and took the risk and in the end, they reaped a great profit. Even if your domain does not sell, then you just have to pay another $10 for another year and you could even make more money on advertisements over time than you would selling the domain.

So, this sounds like a good idea so, I will now explain how you can do this and how you can make money by squatting domain names. First, see what is a growing trend, but not extremely popular so that the domain may still be available. The next stop is to buy the domain, just sign up with a web host and buy the domain. From there, you just need to setup ads, many hosts have a parking feature where you can select a domain and automatically add advertisements to the domain names. If for some reason your host does not have it, then just create a HTML document and save it as index.html. Then, just sign up for Google Adsense and copy the ad code into the page. Once you have your squatted domain setup, then you just let the ad revenue roll in and maybe even a potential buyer will  make a great offer to buy your domain name.

Although domain squatting is not a guaranteed  investment, that will make you rich, however, if you have some money bring a hole in your pocket, you may want to look into domain squatting  because if you can find the right domain, you can find the right domain, then you could make a lot of money.

Websites: The Best Investment Even In A Down Economy

Although the economy is currently in  a horrible recession, the likes of which we have not seen since the great depression, this is still a good time for entreprnuers who are smart, to start a new business. Even in a down market, one of the best investments is a website, because it is easy to start, easy to monotize and because web traffic does not go down during a economic slow period.

Websites are very inexpensive to start especially if you are not paying anyone to develop the site. Buying a webhosting package that has everything you need to build a great website starts at only $4 per month from my host 1and1. For that small fee you get storage, bandwidth, email addresses and a domain name. Then, one of the most important things involved in starting a business is the idea. The idea should be an original service or some type of improvement over an already exsisting service. Blogs are a great example, is blogs there are numerous blogs all over the web but, they are all unique because each writer has their own opinions and writing style. The idea is very important and I reccommend having a very developede idea before investing money and time on developing the site, so that you can make sure that the idea is worthwhile and worth the time and money.

Monetizing websites have been made very easy  by Ad services like Google Adsense , Double clik and many other services that let you simply sign up for an account and paste some code on the website. Once running thoses ads you will make money everytime people click on your ads, this is known as pay-per-click. Also, if you would like would like to make more money off of your website you can sell ads on your own to people and choose how you charge. This method usually grosses more money because the fact that you are dealing directly with the sponsors. This process is more work, however, if you site is getting a large amount of traffic, it is worth it because you can make much more money.

Advertising is not nessesary for running a website, as long as you do not mind paying for your web hosting and other fees involved with running your site. In fact, I ran Gdovin.net ad-free for a long time, and i just added ads recently just because I wanted to try and make a little bit of money although I do not expect it to cover all my costs. Ads are your choice it is all a matter of if you can afford to host the website.

As I have said earlir, our economy is not in a very strong place right now, and this causes people to be more thrifty with their money and cut back on frvilous expenses. However, the internet is a major productivity tool and because people use it to get work done, it is not one of the expenses people cutback. In fact, I would say because more people are trying to spend less money so they will start getting more entertainment over the internet because it is usually free or very inexepnsive.

No matter how poor the economy becomes websites are an amazing investment ,l because of the low overhead, and the very large increase in value. I would like to leave you all with a statistic, it has been said that each user of a website is worth $20 of the site’s value, which means you could develop a site that costs you $500 to build. Then. the site grows to  have 1 million users and it is worth $20 Million which is a 40,00 percent increase in value. Making money off your websiute is not hard at all and Google adsense makes it easy to setup and track. The internet has become a great way to get information and of getting entertainmment and you never know what idea could be the next Google or Microsoft and can make you a billionaire! Starting a business when many are shutting down  is a challenge, I am not saying that it is easy but, with the right idea it can be worth millions of dollars. As Jason Calicasnis of Mahalo says “In Economic Down times, the best investment is investing in yourself” and I believe the best way to do that is through a website.

Web Services I Cannot Live Without!

With all the amazing web services available now there are some that I do not think I can function without now and these are the services that I need to continue to remain productive online:

Gmail:

Gmail is probably my primary web tool because I live in my email and gmail makes it very easy to check all my various email accounts with ease!

Google Calendar:

Google Calendar is not only what I use to organize my life but, also what I use to organize my blog posts and I have it sync to my Nokia N800 because it keeps my busy schedule organized.

Facebook:

Although Facebook is much more of a fun network, I find it to be very userful to communicate with friends and kep in touch with people far away!

AIM:

AIM is a great instant messenger and makes chatting great and a major communication asset.

Flickr:

Since I have been taking so many pictures recently and I want to share them with my friends and family Flickr is the best site to share pictures over the internet and Flickr Pro is an even better service!

Google Docs/Spreadsheet:

Google Docs is a great basic Wordprocessor, Spreadsheet and Presnetation tool all based in the clouds and lets you collaborate with other users. Although it is as not as powerful as Microsoft Word, which I use for more formal purposes, it is great for planning with people and planning out projects.

Google Reader:

Google Reader is my favorite way to read all my RSS feeds and get news. It provides a nice “River  of News” that makes reading news anytime easy and elegant.

Twitter:

Twitter is a great social tool that I use not only to keep my friends up-to-date with what I am doing but, I also use it to market website I am workingon and it is an extremly valuable marketing tool.

If any of these services went down I would have to make major augmentations to make web life and adapt to live without them but it will certainly not be easy.

There are too Many Social Networks

Myspace, Facebook, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Flickr, Digg, Friendster, Youtube, and Twitter are just some of the many Social networks on the Internet open for membership. The problem is that because of the growth of social networking there are so many amazing services available online, and it makes it too difficult to keep all these services up-to-date. I, like many other people, have a habit of signing up for new social networks as soon as I can. Then, after a while, I can’t keep up with all my social profiles and certain accounts become dormant since I could not keep track of all the profiles.

Since the dawn of the Web 2.0 bubble, social networks spring up all over the Internet. Some are improvements of other services while others, are all new innovative services.  There is already such an excess of web services and it is hard to tell which is the best and even worse there are so many general-use social networks like Myspace and Facebook and it is very hard for users to connect with all their friends who use a variety of services. The inconvenience of having all these networks to keep up-to-date defeats any benefits of using the services in the first place. There also many single-purpose services like Flickr and Twitter, that do only one thing and in some cases they do that service extraordinarily well, like Flickr.     Meanwhile, there are many other services that are not that great and are not worth getting an account with.  The other problem, is that certain types of social networks like video networks are a dime a dozen, and many of them are just not as good as others.  But, even with all these services, they still each have their own separate account and cannot integrate with one-another for the most part. Facebook, has recently added applications that allows integration with other web services and allows you to merge accounts without actually merging them.

General-purpose networks like Facebook have the functions of many other services like, video, photos and chat. However, Facebook photo does not offer nearly as many features as Flickr as an example. I use many social networks, but, for my general purpose social profile, I use Facebook, because it simply has the best features and with Applications, it allows you to integrate you Facebook profile with many other social networks.

My recommendation to anyone who is considering creating a social network, is to only develop it if it is an original idea or if it has major advantages over existing services of a similar nature.  Even then, if the service already exists, it will be white noise to most people because they already have an account with that service.

I believe that for social networks to continue to thrive, they need to utilize more syndication of content, between networks and make APIs for developers to be able to make the best connection tools. I also think technologies like, OpenID that allow you to use one single login to access many services.

Can Retail Stores Compete with E-Commerce?

As I mentioned in my Best Sites to buy Tech article, I buy as much as I can online because the prices are so much more reasonable and as long as I can wait for it to be delivered it is a much better deal. The problem is, now that E-commerce has become so prevalent, less people buy from retail stores and buy more online and makes it much harder for retailers to stay in business. E-commerce offers almost anything you need and for lower prices because they do not need to pay rent to keep a physical store or pay people to operate the store.

In my opinion is that in order to keep people from buying most of their goods from the Internet and support retail stores, the stores need to reduce their profit and cut back so that they can stay competitive with the online retailers. The other change they need to make is to offer more options because online retailers offer hundreds of thumb drives and provide a wide range of pricing options. Meanwhile, retail stores might only have 3 to 5 options and a much more limited price range.

Retail stores that I think will survive are places like pharmacies that cannot operate online due to the risk of people fraudulently attempting to get pills. I also think that retail stores that are more experiences and not just walk-in and buy. The best example is the Apple store, which is a great environment to try out and buy products. I also think stores that have day-to-day necessities like food, clothing and shelter will remain open because people do not want to wait 3-5 days for a carton of milk. All-in-all retail stores need to make a major change in order for them to compete with online retailers.

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