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Beware of the Online Business Minefield

"Thar's gold in them thar hills," was proclaimed around the world in 1849, when gold was discovered in the hills of northern California.

More than 100,000 people descended upon California to find their own wealth in the hills and the streams of California. Fast-forward 150 years, and people are saying the same thing about the Internet today.

"Thar is gold in them thar web pages," for the person who doesn't get their clock cleaned by the snake oil salesmen of the Internet.

Early Victors in the Online Business Success Story

In 1994, Stanford students Jerry Yang and David Filo created the Yahoo web directory. One year later, they co-founded Yahoo, Inc., which remains one of the largest, most profitable websites on the Internet today.

In 1998, Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin created and launched the Google search engine, the largest and most popular search company on the Internet today.

In 2005, three former PayPal employees joined forces to create YouTube. The three founders of YouTube were Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim. Only 21 months after the launch of YouTube, Google purchased the website for $1.65 billion in Google stock.

True Friends For Life and in Business

The success stories behind Yahoo, Google and YouTube had similar foundations for success.

In each of these three cases, the founders of these companies were friends going into the process and they will likely remain friends for life.

The friends each brought with them unique qualities and skills to ensure that they could bring together their ideas without having to employ outside companies to help them to get where they wanted to go.

All of these companies had computer programmers among their founders, so these companies were able to get started and build upon their early successes, through their own wit and skills.

As friends, they all trusted in one another, and that trust enabled them to build powerhouse websites on the Internet. And as the websites grew in size and influence, all of these founders became very rich people.

One Does Not Have to be "On Leave from the Stanford Ph.D. Program"

It's amazing when you look at the biographies of the Who's Who in Internet business startup success. Many on the list have as part of his or her biography, "currently on a leave of absence from Stanford's ... Ph.D. program."

This reference is actually an inside joke, pointing to the fact that nearly all of these people dropped out of college to start their Internet businesses.

The founders of Yahoo, Google and Apple were all college dropouts. The founders of YouTube were simply paid staff of PayPal before striking out on their own with YouTube.

The point is that if college dropouts can make it online, then we can too, if we only choose to learn from those who came before us.

Creating Online Business Success Today

There are many companies online offering business-building services to others. Some are good, some are bad, and others may be good, and yet, they may not be the right service providers for your company.

Take for example the Google AdWords pay-per-click advertising system. Millionaires have been made through the Google AdWords system.

Just to put this into perspective, through June of 2007, eBay had been spending $25 million every quarter with Google AdWords.

When major businesses spend $100 million per year in advertising with one advertiser, you can believe that the company is making that much back and more from the advertising provider.

It had been estimated that Google was delivering 12% of eBay's traffic, which is a very sound investment, since eBay generated $7.67 billion in revenues in 2007.

In theory, eBay was earning nearly $920 million per year from its $100 million investment into Google's AdWords advertising model. That is a very sound profit indeed.

For Every Online Success, There Are Dozens of Failures

Not all of us will create the next Yahoo, Google, eBay or Amazon. But, good money can be made online if you don't fall into the traps where many before you have fallen.

AdWords is a powerful advertising model. It can make millionaires and it does every year.

But the thing is that AdWords may not be the right advertising model for you to follow. It may not be the right advertising for you now and it may not be right for you ever.

If you understand that, it is less likely that you will fall into the poor house using Google AdWords.

Unfortunately, too many people have mortgaged their homes and driven themselves into bankruptcy using Google AdWords and other online companies to promote their online businesses.

I know of one person who threw tons of money into advertising, only to go $100,000 into debt, because he did not properly track his advertising and ROI (return-on-investment). In effect, he was spending $1.10 to get one person to his website, and he was getting one sale for every 200 people that visited his website.

So, he spent $220 to get one sale valued at $45. As you can imagine, he just went deeper and deeper into debt until one day he woke up and realized that he was on the road to ruin.

Had he properly tracked his advertising and ROI from the beginning, he would have been able to adjust his sales copy to see if he could turn a bad situation better.

If he could have simply improved his sales conversion rate to get five times as many sales (from half a percent conversion to two-and-a-half percent conversion), then he could have ridden the same bullet to mass profits.

Deep Pockets Are Not the Solution, But Wise Choices Are First and foremost, a business must design itself to make a profit on its activities.

I know people who have developed businesses online that did well financially in the sales column, but the business owner failed in the quest to turn that income into a profit.

Imagine being the website owner who generated his first $120,000 year and then nearly went under because his prices were too low for the kind of service being offered.

After having been a successful sole proprietor online for five years, my friend said that his first six-figure year nearly put him out of business. He is just now beginning to recover financially from his mistakes, 18 months later.

Personal Business Mentors Could Help You Avoid The Landmines

When starting an online business, there are people who have been down the road you are getting ready to travel. They know where the potholes are in the road and they know where the landmines are buried.

To add a person of this caliber to your contact list could mean the difference between success and failure online.

It is a real added-benefit for online business people to have someone to turn to for advice, regarding how to overcome the hurdles they may face in their online business.

A good business mentor is an invaluable asset for many online businesses today. After all, as individual business owners, we can't be expected to know everything we need to know about running our online businesses.

We might have the basics covered, but there is always going to be a time when the experiences of others can help light the path in front of us.

None of us can know everything, especially in today's complicated world.

There are affordable business mentors and marketing coaches offering their services to online business owners.

What if you could benefit from their experiences -- both good and bad -- without having to spend the money and the time they did?

Think of their services as being like an insurance policy, helping ensure your success.

Over my many years online, I have learned a lot from the school of hard knocks. After having gone through SEO training and AdWords Professional training, one of my SEO mentors told me that people should never invest in Search Engine Optimization, until after they have spent six months doing another important task.

By utilizing that one very important piece of information, I was able to stop wasting my limited advertising resources and to start making a profit more quickly.

If you would like to know what this advice was, I would be happy to mentor your success as well.

You can even start with my Free Online Business Success and Marketing Course, available at my website.

Are you considering starting your own online business? Have you been struggling with making money with your first business venture? Paul Marshall has been where you are now. Paul is a Strategic Marketing Coach, who has formal training and experience as an SEO Target Marketing consultant. To learn more about how Paul can assist you or to obtain his Free 7-Day Online Business and Marketing Course, please visit: strategicwebmarketing.net

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