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May 15th, 2007

Why do YOU start a business (so early)?

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: General Business

Last Saturday was my college class’s graduation (I graduated early last year) and I had lunch with some of the co-years that I entered the college with. In the middle of conversation, a sister of my friend asked me this question:

“Dominic, most people work for a corporation for a couple years after they graduate before they start a business, why do you start a business so early?”

That’s a great question and she’s perhaps the first person that has asked specifically about it. I gave her a true but partial answer because my full answer would bore any human being and drive them insane.

Thinking about it, it is a FUNDAMENTAL question and will dictate:

1) Should you even start a business?
2) What kind of business should you start?

It is a question each and every entreprenuers need to address to themselves, so I invite you to visit my thought process as to why I start a business, why I start the type of business I had, and in particularly why I chose to start one so early (while I was at college).

Reason #1 - Opportunity

You can want to be an entrepreneur all you want, however strong your desire is, if you have not yet seen an opportunity, you would not start a business. My opportunity (and my 1st business idea) came when a “guy” literally called Guy, approached me with a business plan to buy and sell used books on campus during my freshman year of college.

One thing leads to another, we recruited another partner into the venture and started this thing called Owlbooks at our school and that kind of get my feet wet in selling college textbooks (yea I’m still selling college textbooks now) as well as entrepreneurship. I went on through several other opportunites shortly after including real estate investing (inspired by Robert Allen) and Senior Care (saw some business plan online), both failed miserably, and now finally successfully settled in E-commerce and internet marketing.

Reason #2 - Take my fate in my own hand

This is the partial reason I shared during the lunch conversation - 2 of the schools I really wanted to get into for college rejected me when I was at high school. Being the same confident Dominic, I thought to myself, “I’m the greatest person you can ever admit, why am I rejected?”

So I came to the conclusion - institutional admission system is subjective and flawed!

So, ok, if I were to try to get a job, wouldn’t I fall back into this flawed system? Having a couple people decide whether I’m good enough for their company? Having a couple other people decide how much I’m worth?

No thank you.

That’s why when I started my online business, I’m determined to make it B2C. In my consumer retail business, whether or not my customer buy from me have absolutely NOTHING to do with what they think about the owner of the site (me), which school I went to, how brilliant I am, or what I have achieved in the past. ALL they care is the product quality, the price, and the customer service. All of which I have 100% control over and my success is a direct consequence of my every single decisions and actions.

I love it: if I succeed, I’m not just lucky; if I fail, I have no one to blame.

Reason #3 - We can all be winners

Being brought up in a competitive environment, I was taught at a young age that (not just through teachers and parents, but through the environment) there’re winners, and there’re losers. If you win, it’s kind of cool; if you lose, it kind of sucks.

Success, in that world, is measured in terms of scarcity. It’s always true that if you’re successful, you’re doing it at the expense of others - directly or indirectly, more or less, sooner or later. I.e. If you get an A, that means someone else will be pushed out of the curve and get a B. If you get into Harvard, that means someone else didn’t get into Harvard.

Since I get into starting my own business, man is this a different world. In this world, you are NOT trying to win by making someone else lose (contrary to popular believe)! Here, you want to create value in your industry so that you, your vendors, and your customers all benefit from your venture and the relationship.

I urge you, all entrepreneurs or aspiring business owner, to think hard about why YOU start(ed) a business and if its the right thing for you. Share your story with me!

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May 9th, 2007

Yahoo Auction is closing

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, eBay

News.com reports that Yahoo! is retiring Yahoo! Auctions effective June 16th. Launched in September 1998, Yahoo! Auctions quickly expanded into other countries but soon stalled in the U.S. when it started charging fees (and eBay was gaining significant momentum). Even the “Look! No Fees!” hail mary did not halt its decline into no-auctions-land.

With demand and sales declining we ceased support for Yahoo! Auctions last summer. But until recently Yahoo! Auctions consistently maintained its number two spot behind eBay for product listings (particularly popular for collectibles).

The end of Yahoo auction has marked an important landmark in the marketplace industry because now the only 2 auction sites left of significance is eBay and Bidville. This is a dark day for eBay sellers (or other marketplace sellers) who look for other venues for multi-marketplace selling strategy. Does this mean eBay now have more monopoly power in the industry and can continue to increase its fee? Yes, it does. It is therefore more important than ever for you as ecommerce seller to have your website, promote it aggressively, and gain a repeat customer base. We’ll see how this pans out in the next several months.

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April 29th, 2007

Questions Cleared Up About Google’s Cost Per Action Model

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Google, Google Adwords, Internet Marketing

Since Cost Per Action advertising model has been introduced by Google, there have been many questions about it in the industry. Today, Google cleared up some of them in its blog post:

Do pay-per-action ads show on Google.com or on sites in the search network?
No. Pay-per-action ads are not eligible to show on Google.com or in the Google search network. They’re only eligible to display in the Google content network.

I am an advertiser using My Client Center (MCC) and am interested in the pay-per-action beta test for my clients, as well as for my own business. What are my sign up options?
We’re only adding individual AdWords accounts to the beta test, so if you are an advertiser managing multiple accounts with an MCC, you can add the individual accounts that you believe will benefit from pay-per-action, including your own.

Is it possible to set a cost-per-action (CPA) value (i.e. the amount I’d like to pay for a specific action) as a percentage of the amount of the purchase rather than as a fixed amount per purchase?
We don’t currently offer the option to set a CPA value as a percentage. The cost-per-action value must be a fixed amount.

I am also an AdSense publisher and would like to participate in this test. How can I sign up?
Please visit the AdSense referrals beta site, on which you’ll find a ‘Sign Up’ link.

I am not a US advertiser, and wonder when pay-per-action will be available in my country?
Although we plan to extend the pay-per-action beta test to advertisers outside of the US in the future, we don’t currently have a date for when this option may become available in other countries.

Although I am not a US advertiser, my campaigns do target US customers. Can I participate in the beta?
At this time, we’re only accepting advertisers who have a billing address located in the United States.

Have you start advertising on Google’s new program yet? If not, what is holding you back? Let us know!

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April 27th, 2007

Feedback 2.0 is coming to eBay US!

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, eBay

EBay have announced 2 days ago that they will be implemented Feedback 2.0 to their system. This is to no surprise to anyone because they’ve been testing it on eBay UK for a while now., here’s eBay’s message and kind of tell you what its all about:

“As you know, eBay’s Feedback system is a big part of what makes eBay fun and rewarding for buyers and sellers. We’re writing to let you know about some exciting new features coming during the week of April 30–features designed to make Feedback more valuable for buyers and a stronger showcase for your great service record.

Detailed Seller Ratings help you stand out.

In addition to the current positive, negative, or neutral comment, buyers will now be able to rank, on a scale of 1-5, four key aspects of a transaction: accuracy of item description, communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling charges.

After a seller receives 10 of these rankings, the average scores will appear as a series of stars under a new section on the Feedback Profile page titled “Detailed Seller Ratings.”

This new feature will provide more transparency to boost shopper confidence–and help your good reputation stand out at a glance.

Also, the item title and price will appear next to each Feedback comment. This will add helpful information for shoppers and encouragement to those in the market for what you sell.”

As a powerseller, my reaction is 2 folded. While it is great to have a vehicle to further differentiate my business from amateur sellers, it also places more pressure on sellers to enhance our service and be really cautious about what we do and say to customers. Btw, one unique thing about this feedback system is that you won’t know which buyer gave you the points - thus eliminating the possibility of feedback retaliation (very popular in the old system).

What do you think about this change and how would it impact your business? Let us know in the comment section!

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April 18th, 2007

Adwords Introducing Preferred Cost Bidding

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Google Adwords, Internet Marketing

Google introduced a new bidding option today called preferred cost bidding — a feature designed to help you save time while achieving your advertising cost goals more consistently. Instead of setting a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) bid, you can set a preferred CPC or CPM bid that represents the average price you want to pay.

For example, suppose you want to pay an average CPC of $0.50. Currently, you need to regularly monitor and adjust your maximum CPC bids to keep your costs at or around $0.50 per click. Using preferred cost bidding, you can simply tell us that you want your average CPC to be $0.50, and we’ll manage your bids to reach that goal.

This feature will be released to all advertisers over the next few days. You’ll find it on the Edit Campaign Settings page in your account.

I’m kind of neutral towards this new feature, simply put it - I won’t use it much.

For me, CPC is not the first thing I look at, I look at my keywords position AND my conversion first - and then I figure out whether the ROI is positive at that amount of CPC. I then adjust my CPC to obtain the keyword position and conversion I like. By controlling the CPC amount first, you are NOT controlling your keyword position and conversion as it should be - its simply a backward approach to doing PPC.

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April 13th, 2007

Make Pay-per-click Advertising Work For You

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, Google Adwords, Internet Marketing

From what I hear, seems like a lot of people are having trouble with PPC and not getting the results they wanted or even losing a ton of money on it.

The fact is PPC works - if you know how to do it.

I’ll share my PPC experience with you as a Google certified adwords professional and PPC consultant. It had worked very well with my stores and my other online sites.

Here’re my REALLY SIMPLE SYSTEM to make it work for you.

Find out 5 products in your store which 1)have a high selling rate 2)have decent profit margin

Lets say one of this product is Golfpro(brandname) Golfer Max(model name) Golf Club (what it is)

Now set up a CAMPAIGN called “Brand + Product”, setup an adgroup called “Golferpro Golfer Max Golf Club”

Then make a list of those keywords CLOSELY related to the product, i.e. Golferpro Golfer Max, Golferpro GolferMax Golf Club….

And then use this program called Adwords Wrapper (its free) to wrap that list of keywords to include exact match, broad match, and phrase match.

Bid on these keywords in your adgroup AND stop the content network display of your ad. (there can be exception to this IF your profit margin and sell through is super high)

Bid the amount which allows your ad to show up as postion 3-5 (again exception if your profit margin and sell through is super high - in that case you will want to be in position 1-2)

Ok, at this point, your PPC campaign should do very well.

BUT to gain an extra edge, here’s what you do!

Find out the ONE keyword that has a decent conversion and HIGH search volume. Lets say in this case is Golferpro Golfer Max. Ok now REGISTER this domain and do a 301 redirect of this domain to your website’s page of that product. And use this domain instead for your URL! This will boost your CTR and conversion to you’ve never seen before.

Once this worked for you and making the kind of margin you like, now do it again and extend it to more products!

Hope this helps.

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April 10th, 2007

Renegotiating Your Outsourcing Deal

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Outsourcing

Contracts in outsourcing deals is an important part in every outsourcing business because it contains the important information which is included in a company’s outsourcing deal.

You may want to look into renogiating your outsourcing contract with your vendor(s) if any of the following four factors became an issue in your company’s outsourcing endeavor and affect your outsourcing strategies:

Timing - Outsourcing deals should be planned at the precise hour because it should be able to help companies in making sure that it would see if outsourcing deals would be good for them.

Underperformance - If outsourcing deals deliver low results then its really time for renegotiating outsourcing deals. This could also include the lowering of the price agreed upon on, or enhancing the infrastructure & system to facilitate higher productivity.

Flaws in the contract - Not all contract is error-free hence if there are certain “flaws” in a contract, renegotiation is the best way to fight these errors.

Major business change - If the company plans to implement a different business goal & strategies then outsourcing deals would also be affected in order to suit these goals.

Want to know how to outsource and how outsourcing can help your business? Check out my book at www.definitiveoutsourcingmachine.com!

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April 6th, 2007

eBay got a new look

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce

eBay just got a new look today. I personally like it a lot more than the old one but its no where near it needs to be (yea eBay’s design is pretty ugly in my opinion). So go check it out at eBay.com and let me know what you think.

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April 3rd, 2007

College Students Should Explore Freelancing

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Outsourcing

As a college students myself not too long ago, I found that the pay of the jobs my friends get, while they are at school, is less than satisfactory. For example, most on campus jobs pay around $6-9 and require the student to perform clerk type of jobs.

These students are skilled at computer, internet operation, and communication - and yet they get pay a lot less than they will in 1-2 years time. This is clearly an EXPLOITATION of college labor.

Therefore, I think college students should look into expanding their job horizon and consider working as freelancers. Most college students are equipped with the skills like article writing, graphic designs, web maintanence to be an excellent freelancers. A freelancing job provides the kind of freedom and money campus job do not offer and also sets you up for the road to owning your business in the future.

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April 1st, 2007

India is expanding its outsourcing horizon

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Outsourcing

We all know India is a hot spot of offshore outsourcing. Large and small companies alike have been outsourcing part of their business such as call centers, customer support, web maintenance, and evening book keeping to this country with a little over 1 billion population.

Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Pune are among the cities one thinks of first when considering an offshore location in India. But rapid expansion by indigenous and Western tech-services companies in these locations is driving up local tech wages at a rate of about 15% per year.

Therefore the Indian government is now considering other options in order to accept more outsourcing transactions and the solution is to move beyond these cities.

Want to know how to outsource and how outsourcing can help your business? Check out my book at www.definitiveoutsourcingmachine.com!

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