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Our Mission

First of all, let’s get one thing straight : It is a noble wish to be wealthy and successful. You are to be admired for wanting the best for you and your family, for having the courage to go after the good things in life and for wanting to be financially secure.

Plus – and don’t forget this – the MORE MONEY you have the MORE GOOD you can do in the world.

And the truth is that you will never be financially free working for someone else, so you do need to look at generating other sources of income.

It’s also key to have a financial safety net in today’s  unstable world which is full of corporate restructurings  and downsizing.

I hope to help you reach your goals.

The main objective of this site is on giving you the latest and best information on running successful, highly automated businesses that you can start and build up in
your spare time until the day that they become your main source of income.

The key is learning how to build automated businesses that can run virtually on autopilot so that you do not always have to be present. Instead you can enjoy life and all the amazing things that it has to offer whenever YOU want.

As a very wise man once said “Unless you are making money while you are asleep, you will never be rich”.

The great thing is that the tools now exist that can help you do exactly this! So a key part of my role is telling you about the latest tools, resources, books,  and courses that can help you grow rich while you sleep.

I am your guide through the maze of money-making information out there – but only when it comes to building  high quality real businesses that you own and control.

This is not about ‘biz opps’ or ‘MLM’.

I don’t expect everything I write about to be of interest  to you but I hope most of it will be – and I’m sure that  some of it you will absolutely love. It’s an exciting  world out there – full of amazing new systems, methods  and opportunities.

Systemize and Automate Part 4: Communication

Just as it can be confusing to have people cross-communicating online all over the place, so it can be confusing when graphics, text, apps, programs, and other online content are delivered piecemeal.
 
Document Sharing Systems – One of the greatest ways to help automate your business and cut down on questions:  Use a Cloud sharing system.  That way, everyone can access project folders (or you can restrict access to certain folders) – but everything is in one place and, as one VA recently put it, “you know where to look, without having to think about it”.
 
TIP:  Provide video training to all new staff (or provide the links to existing video training) in how to use the Cloud storage system of your choice.  When interviewing, ask if the candidate is familiar with that system.
 
There are various Cloud storage systems.  Some are free; some require monthly payments – there is bound to be one out there that suits your business and budget.  Here are three of the most popular…
1. Google Drive – The old Google Docs revamped.
10-Google Drive
2. Dropbox – One of the most popular free Cloud systems to date
11-DropBox

You download Dropbox to your desktop and it looks just like any other folder – but people you collaborate with online have to be invited to share your folders.  (And they can invite you to share theirs.)

3. Basecamp – Geared specifically to project management, this system is not free:  However, there is a 45-day free trial and it starts at only $20 per month.

12-Basecamp

 

 

Basecamp allows you to see all your projects at a glance; all your contractors; individual notes and conversations; and a calendar for each person, as well as projects.
13-Basecamp Calendar

 

In the conversation section for each project, your virtual team members are able to upload Profile photos, so each has a visual of the person she is conversing with.  This can help people feel more connected.

A little balloon appears beside the project listing, if there is a message to be read.

14-Basecamp balloon

 

 

 

 

This balloon changes color if you input a reply, plus the number of messages is displayed, so you can easily see just by glancing at your calendar if there are new messages.  (Besides which, a notification is sent to your email address too.)

If you only have one or two or three members in your team, Google Drive and Dropbox may be just what you need.

If you have more than two or three team members, Basecamp will save you a lot of time and confusion – and ultimately will be well worth the return on investment.

Systemise & Automate Part 3 – Protocols and Processes

Projects can typically go out of control when:

  1. More than one person is involved
  2. There are “holes” in specs and parameters for misunderstanding and confusion (i.e. specs are not precise)
  3. Project progress and delivery are not anticipated and planned out meticulously
  4. A system is not followed

Operating from standard protocols and processes can eliminate ninety-five per cent of problems like scope creep, or the chain of delivery breaking down.

There are two ways to do this:

  • Systematize
  • Automate

Combine these together, and you should have a powerful, virtually foolproof system.

To create a system, write down your goal and objectives for every project (as a general guideline applied every time, if projects are all highly similar and repetitive; or by individual projects.)

Next, take a blank sheet of paper for every position on your team.  For example, if your virtual “team” consists only of you plus your new VA, take two sheets of paper (or do this virtually, if you prefer) and write down all your responsibilities and tasks on one; and hers on another.

If you have six team members, take six sheets of paper.  And so on.

Try it – even if you think you know exactly what everyone has to do, you’ll be amazed to find yourself thinking of things to add – things you need to re-think or adjust.

Now write a “Company Manual” based on these results– even if this is only a three-page document.  Begin your Company Manual with a “mission statement”, saying what your company is all about and what it wants to do for its clientele.  (This will help your contractors understand what your business is all about, so they can better represent it.)

Your Company Manual might include documents such as these1 :

  1. Style Sheets

4-StyleSheet

 

 

2. Client Questionnaires
5-Questionnaire
  1. Contractor Questionnaires

6-Contractor Questionnaire

 

  1. General Project Instruction sheets

7-Project Instructions

 

 

 

  1. Contact information – including who takes care of what problem type

    8-Contact 

  1. A list of expectations and other data (e.g. rate of pay, wage increase intervals, vacation notice, etc.)
9-Conditions
The beauty of creating your own office manual:  You can tailor it to your unique set up.  For example, you can segment your contractors by color (using different-colored paper) or by different sections in you “Master” binder, so that you instantly know that copywriters only get the pink forms plus all white ones, while web designers get the yellow and blue forms, and fulfillment staff gets all.
 
Have one central contact person, whenever possible.  Have her report directly to you at a specified time of day with all queries, problems or requests.  Make sure she is enabled to speak for you in all but the most crucial situations.
 
The more you put down in writing, the less you risk errors in judgment or oversights being made. 
This may seem pedantic and unecessary to some but this is how you create a real business that can work without you – you must leave no margin for misunderstanding. Micheal Gerber goes through this same process in the classic book “The E-Myth”.
1Choose only the ones that are relevant to your business

Systemize and Automate Part 2 – Setting Up Your Team

No matter which type of virtual team model is best for your business, you do have to make sure everyone knows her role, as well as what she is accountable for.  Even if you prefer to keep your team members isolated and unaware of each other, interacting only through a single manager (you or a virtual management specialist you’ve hired) who acts as a gatekeeper, it’s a good idea to let each team member know how their role impacts the production line – and your launch date. 

If you have a production “line”, send each member a mind-map or chart, showing how each one’s fulfillment affects the next person along the line.  Let them know what the consequences are if one member fails to fulfill.  When you are interviewing members (especially web designers) ask them how they manage scope creep.

This is a phenomenon that affects any project in which (a) several members are involved (b) client parameters cannot be exact. 

Exact (minimal to no scope creep)
Imprecise (invites scope creep)
One blog post, 750 words maximum.
Photo with ragged clouds over building

As you can see in the table above, knowing that you want no more than 750 words written helps your write plan and deliver on time.  She is able to accurately predict how long this will take, based on her writing experience. 

3-Four hay bales cloudsIf you are vague or imprecise in directions (“I want this photo to show the sky with ragged clouds over a building”) you may waste your own and the photographer’s time demanding reshoots…

…All because you forgot to tell him that you want the photograph to be shot with old, decaying, round hay bales in front of the building; and that the latter should be abandoned, as well as surrounded by encroaching forest.

Make sure you understand what you are asking, too.  Not understanding the process your photographer has to go through to create what you specify can be a major source of scope creep.  For example, he comes back with the exact shot you need, and you have kittens because he’s billed you an extra six-hundred-and-fifty dollars.  (“Last month, when I wanted those apples re-shot, it only cost me the price of the shots!”  “Yes, but to find exactly what you needed I had to drive round the eastern part of the state behind the foothills for four hours; then rent a front-end loader to move four old hay bales to a spot in front of the building.  There’s a one-hundred-dollar-an-hour minimum for location-seeking in non-studio shots, remember?  Plus the cost of the front-end loader…”)

That’s scope creep – and that’s something you need to be aware of, when dealing with virtual employees and contractors for your project-based business.

Some common examples of scope creep:

  • Your own client asks for rewrite after rewrite on that simple 750-word blog post he ordered, which your copywriter supplied.  Since she specified “one rewrite only” included in her services, you now have to pay her far more than the job is worth.   
  • The client wants “one small little detail changed” in the web design you presented and delivered on target.  That small detail loses you (through your web designer) an additional nine hours and impacting the rest of the team.
  • Your virtual assistant doesn’t tell you she had to put in fifteen extra hours to set up your shopping cart, because you chose one that doesn’t integrate with your Autoresponder without major tweaking.  You choke at the bill.

What you should hear from the potential team member you are interviewing is that they have concrete methods of allowing for and dealing with scope creep, such as:

  1. A set number of (revisions, words, re-shoots, tweaks, redesigns)
  2. A set of protocols she follows and questions she asks
  3. Failsafes in place, such as Contracts, Client Questionnaires or Project Sheets

Failing that, she should ask you what your protocols are for dealing with curveballs such as scope creep.

And you should have an answer!  (If a potential team member says, “What’s scope creep?”, don’t hire him!)

How to Systemize And Automate – Part 1

1-VirtualTeamBefore you can set up a mean, lean, virtual dream team fueled with the adrenalin of success, you have to know your business inside out.  There is no room for fuzzy thinking – and there’s definitely no room for assuming that your team will magically “do everything” or read your mind.  (You know how frustrating the latter can be, when clients do that to you!)
 
Creating great systems for your virtual Team can be broken down into ten very concrete steps.  Tackle them systematically, one at a time, and you’ll set yourself – and your Team – up for success.
 
Step One:  Set Your Goals

The core of your success is your goal; how clearly your virtual team understands it and how committed they are to reaching it.  So that is what you need to ensure from the start, when it comes to goals, the twin “C”s – Clarity about the common goal, and commitment to reaching it.

You also will need the twin “D”s  in place to ensure this happens:

  • Definition
  • Deadlines

Your projects should operate like World War II bombing missions:  Everyone knows the protocols and their parts; they are given their tasks and told what the target is.  Then off they go, focused like modern-day missiles in reaching your goal.

To achieve all this, however, you need to choose the right team.  Knowing exactly who you need, what you want them to do and taking into account how they are going to work together is vital to everything else working.

And then you need to clearly communicate your goals and set out parameters for reaching these.

Build your team carefully.  Think about how they will work together and if they will work together.  (Many marketers run their teams “blind”, with each member having zero knowledge of the other members; or even that other members exist.) 

You also have to have an idea of what team dynamics you want to create and what those dynamics are going to be like.

One of the other problems in running a virtual team: Putting a face to a name.  When you are working together in person, you soon get to know the other person, and being able to put the face to the name helps create bonding.

2-Stig-Book-CoverYet there are advantages to running a team that is totally task-focused, with minimal interaction. But everyone needs a modicum of human contact – even confirmed, dysfunctional but technically-brilliant “loners”.  And if your business involves technology or coding, you may run into a few of these.  (Just look at the tightly-knit community of hackers in Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”.  Even though the members had never met and exchanged only minimal banter on logging on with each other, they became a tightly-enmeshed community willing to go to great lengths – one member even coming out of seclusion and running a risky surveillance, way past his comfort zone – to help another cell member who was in grave trouble.)

You need to know which type of set up – personality-based with disclosure and inclusion in your business process, or task-oriented with the focus strictly on component completion – works best for you and your business.

Once you’ve determined your team dynamics, you need to know how to get around the inherent problems in both models and head them off at the pass.

Assessing Your Online Marketing Options

There are three basic questions you have to ask yourself and answer:

  • Are you more comfortable selling… or promoting?
  • Are you more comfortable in front of the camera… or behind the scenes?
  • Are you more comfortable leading… or following?

Your answers should pre-determine the direction you’re going to take.

For example, if you’re a born leader – the sort of person who everyone looks to in a crisis; or even just in everyday life – you are going to feel your talents are wasted if you decide to spend your life endlessly promoting other people.  You are more likely to want affiliates who will promote you, rather than being an affiliate yourself for someone else!

Your best option may be to create your own products and convince others to promote them, as well as sell yourself as an expert in your niche.

If, on the other hand, you’re a born follower and you just love hiding comfortably behind the scenes, promoting others and their products, becoming an affiliate marketer or a niche blogger may be your best method.

If on top of that, you also hate selling, however, you may find affiliate marketing a really uncomfortable method.  You’ll either need to re-examine your sales phobia or find a different method of Passive Income creation – one that works with your personality, rather than against it.

Let’s take a quick look at the five basics…

1.      Affiliate Marketing

There are three very different ways to make money with affiliate marketing.

  • Become a Super-Affiliate – That’s where you promote products and other people using multiple methods (some of them highly visible; i.e. on your blog) and some of them behind-the-scenes (running anonymous niche blogs that review and recommend products)

Examples:  Rosalind Gardner, Mark Ling, Lynn Terry

RosMarkLynn

  • Become a Niche Blogger – You create blogs; slowly, at first, then adding more and more till you have at least one hundred on the go, each earning modest monthly sums.  You never appear at all as an individual; the focus is on the topic and the products.

And here’s where the third affiliate marketing tactic crosses over into advertising-based marketing…

2.      Advertising

This model is fairly simple, but one of the hardest to reap success with – mostly because you cannot force this.  Your blog weight has to accumulate slowly.

There are two methods:

  • Build Your Blog Fame – Become a super-blogger in your own right (perfect for born leaders) – to the point where advertisers are falling all over themselves to place ads on your pages
  • Create Niche Blogs for Ad Networks – Google AdSense isn’t the only fish in the sea, when it comes to displaying ads in your blogs

Ideally, you want to end up with both of these income stream types going.  By all means create your personal blog and build up a following… but don’t even think of it as a source of income yet.  Instead, add one to six new anonymous Niche Blogs per month (depending on the speed you’re comfortable with), heavily monetizing those little puppies via:

  • Contextual text ads
  • Ad networks such as Chitika, ClickBank and Amazon

Ad networks can significantly boost your income – but the catch with some is that you need to prove you already have a website set up and that it is getting traffic.

Finally, you can fast-track your Passive Income creation by boosting it with your own paid ads (try Facebook ads as well as Google AdSense).

3.      Selling Yourself 

Again, if you were working hard to make your name as a Blogger to attract Advertisers, this would cross over into number three here, “Selling Yourself”.

You become a Personality and an Expert.  You help people.  When your tips work, they turn to you for more.  They recommend you, your blog and your products to other people.

When you create products, you are exceptionally blessed:  There’s a wide variety at your command – one to suit (a) every stage in your marketing funnel (b) your personal strengths and tastes. And – once created – your products become Passive Income.

You can choose between creating any or all of the following:

  • EBooks
  • Articles
  • Tip Sheets, Cheat Sheets and Worksheets
  • Videos
  • Courses (video, email, blog installment)
  • Audios
  • Webinars
  • Teleseminars
  • Forums
  • Membership sites
  • Coaching

That being said, let’s get one fact straight right now…

You will never make true Passive Income without diligence and hard work in the initial set up stages.  For example, a Membership site or forum can cruise along with minimal interaction from you – but that interaction will need to make up much more in the beginning as you establish your reputation and brand credibility, as well as nurturing your core of future long-time members (the ones who are going to happily and voluntarily help you run the place.)

And any membership site or forum is more like an old fashioned steam train than anything else.  You can have these huge, multi-ton passenger cars barreling down the track, up mountains and over bridges, through the densest cities and the wildest countryside.  And it’s true they’re being hauled by a well-maintained, powerful engine.  But all that comes to a complete standstill unless there’s a coal man aboard to constantly feed the comparatively tiny boiler a steady supply of coal.

7-Steam Train

That steady supply includes public appearances (online and, later, off) and a strong social media presence – and, most important, a “signature” product – be that a book like Rosalind Gardner’s “The Super Affiliate’s Handbook” or a course, or whatever – is also an essential piece of this marketing mix.

A lot of hard work – but at the end of it, ever-increasing Passive Income.

Oh.  And a host of hard-working, eager affiliates…

Create an affiliate program so that Super-Affiliates can promote you.  (And they will – newbie or not – if you do things professionally and you can show them there’s money to be made.  Face it:  One Super-Affiliate promoting your products can equal three hundred amateur affiliates on a good day.)

4. Selling Products – We’ve already touched on the types of products you can sell or promote.  And you probably already have an idea as to what type of product would be easiest for you to create.

But wait a moment… Are you sure you’ve chosen the right one?

For example, if your real skill is in sewing, don’t offer to sew one hundred aprons at $12.00 apiece.  If each apron takes you three hours of straight cutting, sewing and finishing time to produce, you’re working for $4.00 per hour.  And it’s going to take you 300 hours of work – that’s five weeks of solid, eight hour days and a bit more.

Instead, sell the pattern.  You only have to create it once, and you can resell it as many times as you like – depending on the demand, perhaps even for the same price.

Set your pattern up in your online store, spend half an hour a day promoting it (instead of eight hours sewing) – now that’s starting to sound much more like Passive Income!

The Art of Repurposing and Other Shortcuts – On top of that you get to recycle your perfect, polished pattern into something else.

Say you’ve been up and running for a year and a half now, and your online sewing store is just packed with patterns.  The market is slowing down – your fans have bought just about all the patterns they want… or have they?

Perhaps, at $12.00 per pattern, they could only afford the Frilly French Lampshade pattern – but they really would have loved the Smocked Cushion Cover pattern, as well as the Fancy French Blinds, the Bathroom Lace Towel set, and the Frou-Frou Place Mat pattern.  Here’s what happens.  When some people start adding more items, they find themselves having to decline.

So you pick out all the patterns that fit into a theme, bundle them together with an eBook cover and sell them as the “French Frou Frou Home Décor Pattern Package”.

Or you pick out all your seasonal patterns, and promote them as a special package.  (The “Christmas In The Country Craft Set”, or the “Halloween Quilted Masks and Accessories” package.)

Put it in your store and promote it at $27.00 for each twelve-pattern set.  People who balked at paying $12.00 per pattern singly now think of this as incredibly rich value – and a chance for them to finally own your deluxe patterns.

By re-purposing, you are making your one-time-only created pattern do multiple duty, bringing in a fresh  new market as well as pleasing old friends.

And you can do this with any product you create – for example, with written content.  You can do any sort of combining or segmenting, from eBooks split into a Video course, to articles put together to create an eBook.

8-Kitty Covers

There are other shortcuts beside repurposing (and you can use these along with repurposing for double the bang):  For example, outsourcing.

With outsourcing, you farm a task out to an expert in that task.  Say you really need a pile of promotional articles for your Life’s Work, “Millie’s Handy-Dandy Household Cleaning Recipes and Chemistry Set”:  You want to keep going on your signature piece – the one you make your reputation on.  The articles themselves are just for branding, getting yourself established as an expert, driving traffic to your website.

Outsource these articles to a ghostwriter or simply hire a Virtual Assistant skilled in research to dig out 101 cleaning tips for you.  Or hire one skilled in Autoresponder and Shopping Cart set up to set up these vital tools for you.

And instead of struggling to learn a complex graphics program like Adobe Illustrator (or even a free one such as Gimp), commission a graphic designer to create your eCover and web theme.

Not everyone can outsource right away – but it’s a key tool of the big boys and girls; and when you are up where you want to be in the public eye, you simply won’t have time to dot every “i” yourself.

5. Investing – This is something everyone should do.  And we’re not talking about becoming a Forex trader or haunting the floors of Wall Street.  We’re talking about getting into an investment-focused mindset.

When you “re-purpose”, you’re practicing a form of investment:  Or rather, more strictly speaking, when you create that information product the first time, if you have factored re-purposing into your sales funnel, then by creating the initial product, you are making an investment.

Investment could be as simple as seeing if there are stock options within your company, if you are still struggling along with a full or part-time day job.  (Hint:  Many large corporations that pay low wages offer all employees this type of incentive – for example, Wal-Mart and Home Depot.  You invest a portion of your wages into the stock incentive and every so often, you are allowed to cash your stocks in.)

Outsourcing also is part of the investment-oriented mindset:  You are paying more up front for expert help so you can make far more money than you would if you were still struggling to learn the outsourced part of your business for yourself.

Such platitudes as “it takes money to make money” exist because they are true.

However, you also need not spend an outrageous sum of money.  And there are always ways to tailor your budget to your circumstances – and still be able to create Passive Income.