Secret To Success: "A willingness to learn is essential—an unwillingness to give up,
and the intelligence to know when to move on."
Alan R. Bechtold
Earn 1.1 million a month
Brought to you in partnership with Rod Beckwith - http://mrjv.com
Highest Education: High school with two years of trade school in printing
Year Started Business: 1984
Type Of Business: Internet marketing and publishing
Target Market: Self-employed/small-business owners in need of Internet marketing consulting and many categories of consumers for her e-book publishing division.
Number of employees: Seven
Best Month (Gross Revenues): $1.1 million
Hours Worked Per Week During Startup: About 65
Hours Worked Per Week Now: About 60
Favorite Business Magazines: Fast Company, Business 2.0, DM News
Favorite Business Books Or Authors: Anything by Dan Kennedy or Jay Abraham—"I like both of these guys because they KNOW what they are talking about and DO IT daily still. Dan's no-nonsense style is amazing." Recent favorite book: The One Minute Millionaire, by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen—"This is ONE book EVERY aspiring entrepreneur should read. It puts everything in perspective and is really TWO powerful books in one. VERY hard to put down and IMPOSSIBLE to ignore once you've absorbed the material."
Relaxes By: Browsing the Web and studying GOOD MARKETING and good Web design, and constantly seeking new ideas and inspiration...Also, fishing and dabbling in baseball card collecting
Keeps In Shape By: "I like to walk. In Kansas, I would walk on a treadmill and have my treadmill rigged up with a TV and DVD player. I start a movie, walk briskly through at least HALF of it, then can ONLY finish the movie when I walk again. Keeps me entertained and FORCES me to walk again to see how it ends. It's all about motivation! Now that I've moved to Florida, once I finish settling in, I look forward to walking more in the REAL world, along the beach!"
Favorite Part Of The Job: "This is two-fold, really. I LOVE creating products and writing the copy that sells them, first and foremost. Secondly, I LOVE speaking before an audience, meeting the people, and getting to know the other speakers."
Least Favorite Part Of The Job: Paperwork, taxes—boring and frustrating
Microsoft—love/hate: LOVE their marketing and business savvy, HATE their products
Dell Computer—BRILLIANT business plan and unique selling position, not to mention products well worth owning, for the most part
Google—another BRILLIANT concept
E-bay—yet another BRILLIANT concept
Business is life on steroids. — T.J. Rohleder
Wishes only come true in Disney movies. — Michael Wickett
Eat your vegetables. — Alan's mom
The Person Who Most Influenced His Life: "My mother. She managed on a meager income, made certain all the family's needs were met, and STILL managed to retire with enough money that she will NEVER be a burden on society or on her kids. Even more important was the fact that she ALWAYS encouraged me to pursue my interests and, even when she disagreed with me, defended me to anyone and everyone who needed it."
Heroes: "My hero is Hugh Hefner. This guy took a measly $500, started a magazine in the living room of his apartment, and parlayed it into every man's dream job and fabulous wealth. And he's still enjoying every minute of it. Go, Hugh!"
Special Business Achievements/Honors: "My biggest achievement was a joint venture that brought me more than $11 million in gross sales—including my highest-grossing month ever—over a four-year span, at no cost to me, and no risk besides being able to fulfill all the hundreds and hundreds of orders that were pouring in from my partner's list of customers"
Months Before Achieving A Profit: Five
Books/Tapes/Reports: "I've published mostly electronic periodicals for the past 21 years. My latest and most exciting are The Power Pointers Page and Mind Gold News. The best way to learn more about each of these two publications would be for me to give to the readers, free of charge, a complete turnkey Website that sells them. Each of these free businesses is worth easily $600 and includes a Website with hosting and support. To sign up for the free Website that sells The Power Pointers Page, visit:
http://www.powerpointerspage.com/?AC=107513, enter 107513 as your Access Code to get your free gift.
To sign up for the free Website that sells Mind Gold News, visit:
http://www.mindgold.com/?AC=66768, enter 66768 as your Access Code to get your free gifts.
"My most recent source of pride is the Joint Venture Summit of the Century seminars I've co-produced with my partners Marc and Terry Goldman of Goldbar Enterprises. This conference is now held twice yearly and we've built an incredible low-cost, year-round joint venturing mastermind club around it called the JV Diamond Club. To find out more about our events and the club, readers should visit:
"This will give you all the details about the events we've held so far, our newest events and all the other benefits of joining the JV Gold Club."
Contact Alan At: Phone—(239) 992-0397; Fax—(239) 992-4862; E-mail—firstname.lastname@example.org
a home business next month. I have a maximum of $3,000 in start-up capital.
Where should I invest it?
Spend it attracting TARGETED prospects for your business. Focus on what it takes to make your first dollar coming in—and you'll never make a dollar without CUSTOMERS! This could involve passing out flyers if you're starting a local business, or launching an E-zine to get a subscriber list of prospects you can reach, if you're looking for a wider audience.
I've just started a home business. My spouse has given me six months to make
it work. Any advice?
Promise it will only take six months and GET STARTED NOW! Roll up your sleeves and realize you'll most likely be begging for more time—but it's a LOT easier to convince a spouse or other family member to give you six more months or a year or two years once you've invested some time and money and are seeing results.
They say it takes money to make money. Should I try to get a small business
loan for my start-up capital or just try to get by with my own limited finances?
Most businesses won't qualify. Get used to this fact. Unless you have money, it's sometimes tough to RAISE money. But you don't have to use your own resources. Start seeking out joint venture partners who have the prospects you need or the products you need to bring to your clients. Work out a win/win proposition to use THEIR resources and minimize or eliminate your investment. If you have little money, work with another marketer who has a list and products and offer your TIME and KNOWLEDGE.
TECHNOLOGY & TOOLS:
How quickly do you adopt new technology for your business?
It depends on the technology, but I usually believe FIRMLY in the concept of NEVER adapting a Version 1 of ANYTHING. I call this bleeding-edge technology because it generally carries with it a LOT of pain—and anything that doesn't work as promised will be amplified 10 or 100 or 1,000 times when you're using it in your business.
Do you use a fax machine with a dedicated line? How do you use it?
Yes. We use it to take orders, receive letters, provide support, and send and receive contracts and agreements and proposals—almost anything you would use overnight mail for. It's a truly INDISPENSABLE tool, and you MUST have it on a separate line or you'll risk looking like an amateur.
Do you utilize Fax-on-Demand? How do you use it?
No. Except that we do allow our customers to DEMAND almost anything of us via FAX!
How do you use e-mail in your business?
Almost every minute of the day. We use it to deliver our newsletters, digital products, and to provide support. And, again, we offer it as another way our customers can easily reach us. It's also another irreplaceable tool! But like a dedicated FAX line, avoid a free e-mail account at all costs. Again, it makes you look like an amateur.
How do you utilize the Internet?
I use it constantly for research, to study the competition, to market my products and services, to create my products and services—you name it. The Internet is at the core of what I do and how I do it!
of your own Website(s) do you have?
I have literally DOZENS of Websites, mostly to advertise my products and services, but also, they are one of my products, one of the services I provide to my clients and partners. Websites are wonderful because they can be your sales force, your sales letter, allowing you to send out a simple e-mail, or mail a postcard or buy small classified and display ads driving people to them and then letting the site CLOSE them, drastically reducing your marketing costs without diminishing the impact of your sales message.
use auto-responders? How do you use this tool in your business?
Yes, we've created our own proprietary auto-responder system to send automated follow-up sales messages.
use a toll-free number, what is its primary use?
I prefer not to use toll-free numbers, except in some limited support cases. For sales, they are notorious for driving a LOT more inquiries, depending on your business, but they just don't work in my business.
use voice mail, what is your primary use for it?
I use voicemail on our telephones at the office to provide limited support information to my customers and to handle calls when all the lines are busy and on my cell phone to allow my business partners and employees to reach me any time, any place, anywhere.
your computer system and how you use computers in your business.
We use rack-mounted Web servers (Dell and HP and "home-brew") running Windows products but now, I mostly use Linux-based software to provide our Web services and database integration with the Web. We also use mostly Toshiba laptops for travel and home use, so I can always stay connected with the office. Scanners and digital cameras are vital to Website design. Printers are, of course, essential—and laser printers to print mailing labels and "fast" work that's needed—but we use mostly inkjet printers. Windows XP Pro is our workstation and laptop software. We also use lots of other stuff—firewalls, routers, wireless routers, etc.
do you consider in the "must-have" category?
Word processing software, a Web browser and e-mail. Use whatever works best for you. These are the tools of my trade. To design Websites, we prefer Go-Live over FrontPage. For e-mail, we use Mozilla Thunderbird (free!). Our Web browser of choice: Mozilla Firebird or Microsoft Explorer. A good spreadsheet is very helpful, and Excel does a GREAT job of doubling as a reasonably powerful small database program. Finally, we wrap it up with Quickbooks to make sure our books are in order. There is NO simpler, more complete way to keep your books in order than with Quicken!
technology do you use in your business?
A cell phone is a must, and I couldn't be separated from my Palm Pilot for on-the-go scheduling and rolodex functions.
personal favorite business URL's our readers can benefit from:
http://www.askjeeves.com/ —VERY helpful for research.
http://www.prnewswire.com/ —a great way to publicize your business with press releases cheaply.
http://www.mapquest.com/ —keeps me from getting lost when I travel.
the technology you use, rank the top three.
E-mail, cell phone, and laptop. The three together allow you to work from ANYWHERE, when you want!
MARKETING & ADVERTISING:
you market on the Internet?
I use Websites to deliver the WHOLE sales message. Most of my sales letters go on a Website. Then, we send e-mail to our customer list to tell them the sites are there, driving prospects to the sites. I also use the Internet to handle delivery of my newsletters and many of my products—ALL of my digital products, actually—and it's the newsletters that do the best job of educating and selling my audience on visiting the sales sites we put up.
what percentage of your sales originate from Internet marketing?
you market through direct mail?
Mostly with postcards. Once your sales message on your Website is right and ready to close sales, a good post card is all you need to drive people to it and entice them to buy. It's far more effective than e-mail and really quite cost-effective.
what percentage of your sales originate from direct mail marketing?
20%—but soon to be much, much more. For the most part, except for e-zines and e-mails to my own clients, e-mail marketing is dying VERY quickly as an effective way to reach real, interested, motivated prospects.
you market in the print media?
We place small display ads, never more than 1/4 page, usually smaller, and lots of classified ads. Again, with Websites doing most of the selling, you don't have to have HUGE ads or use lots of color—just entice the reader to visit your site for the REST of the message!
what percentage of your sales originate from marketing in the print media?
kinds of marketing do you utilize?
We do some seminar speaking (a GREAT way to market yourself AND your products and cement relationships with future clients, plus meet other possible joint venture partners—HIGHLY recommended!). Other than that, literally the rest is through joint venture marketing—forming partnerships with others to market our products and to find products to market to our clients. In fact, we use joint ventures so heavily, they play a MAJOR part in all of the percentages stated above in all of our other marketing methods.
recommend using a toll-free number in advertising?
We don't use them, and I really don't recommend them for small businesses. They can be very useful when providing support, however. I've always found I would rather get FEWER sales calls because the prospect has to pay to make the call; those prospects who DO call are so very much more qualified, precisely because they paid to reach you. In almost all cases, they prove to be much more likely to buy from you.
you market? (locally, nationally, internationally, all three?).
THE HOME OFFICE:
someone set up his/her home office to maximize its effectiveness?
Select a compact space so you don't have to move far to have everything at your fingertips. Make it a SEPARATE room if at all possible. Provide plenty of space for files. Consider getting a scanner and good OCR software so you can store your records on computer AND a CD burner to store those files. Files can easily eat up your space and make your life miserable—but you will find you MUST have them to be effective.
any, ground rules have you established for yourself and family in order to operate
a successful home business?
It's always good to set hours when you're working and hours when you're NOT working to minimize interruptions. Make it known to friends, too, that you work certain hours and stick to it. This will make you work and make certain you CAN work. You can work other times when needed, but at minimum, you then know when you CAN work without interruption and schedule the work that needs to be done uninterrupted during those hours.
some of the advantages to working at home? What are some of the disadvantages?
Ahhhhhh! The commute. It can't be beat. Also the ability to hop into the office and make a note or file something or do some quick work while waiting for dinner to be done. Those "stolen" moments can add up quickly to a LOT of productivity. The biggest disadvantage: it's sometimes tough to STOP working and, unless you're a better man than I (regardless of your sex), it's even tougher to avoid all the wonderful distractions the comforts of home provide. Finally, family, friends, and contacts have such a TOUGH time believing you're actually WORKING when you work from home.
of your work do you farm out?
Web design, programming, some support, and direct mail production/fulfillment. Also accounting and, of course, product development when I work with the creator of a product I want to sell.
do you feel should never be farmed out?
There is almost NOTHING that absolutely can't be farmed out—you just need to be willing to maintain vigilant control over the quality of the work being done and you can get by with virtually NO employees!
encourage or discourage partnerships?
Partnerships are WONDERFUL. No man is an island and all that. There are, literally, NO true "self-made" millionaires. All had partners or mentors of some kind to help them. You just have to make certain your partners fill gaps in your own skills and/or knowledge, or that they bring money to the table that is needed. When it comes to joint venture partners, these are literally EVERYTHING you need to get started immediately at no cost and with little or no risk that can get your business rolling profitably RIGHT NOW.
encourage or discourage hiring family members?
This is a truly rocky road to follow. Family members can be the best employees you ever hire or the worst. They are rarely anything in between. NEVER hire a family member just because they are family. If they fit the profile of someone you would hire anyway, and you both go into it with your eyes open, they can be the most devoted employees you'll ever get at any cost.
issues arise, what's your usual response?
That depends on the legal issue. If an attorney contacts me…I have my attorney respond. When it comes to contracts and agreements, I almost always go for a simple letter-of-agreement, in plain English. It's never a bad idea to have an attorney review any letter-of-agreement you craft, to make sure you haven't missed anything important, or left yourself open to possible litigation. But, seriously, there's no guarantee this will avoid those possibilities either way anyway
MONEY & INVESTMENTS:
the advantages of earning a lot of money. What are some disadvantages?
Money gives you choices, options, and the freedom to live the life you choose on your terms. The disadvantage is that others around you can change, depending on how much money you have. It gets easier to be taken advantage of and to make larger and more costly mistakes because you stop counting the pennies. Never, ever pass up dollars to grab a handful of pennies. On the other hand, never ever stop counting them and keeping track of where they are going, just as if you don't have much to work with.
Pay every one of them. Avoid most of the scams out there that CLAIM to get you out of paying them. It's simply not worth it. These are NOT people you wish to mess with and you're far better off paying your fair share and concentrating instead on making enough money so that the taxes you owe on that money are HUGE and they still don't hurt!
Invest in your business first and property second. A good, solid 401K is always a must, but don't rely on it. Never, ever "play the market!" This is for the pros and even they lose their shirts as quickly as they hit it big. If you must buy stocks, stick with solid, conservative mutual funds.
in business already, and you've just received a windfall of $20,000. What would
you do with it?
I would immediately turn $15,000 of it around back into my business. More advertising first, product development second. This will move you forward and help ensure that those $20,000 windfalls turn, eventually, into a steady flow, then get higher and higher and higher. Then I would make the last $5,000 a bonus to myself. Without rewards along the way, it's easy to start burning out. Treat yourself now and then and you'll find yourself looking forward to each and every opportunity to do it again and again and again!
THE ROAD AHEAD:
years I'll be...
Still building my business as far as I can take it, probably working less hours than I do now, but only slightly less, and taking some real vacation time. I MIGHT be ready by then.
In 10 years
Semi-retired. My nephew Eric is dedicated to getting himself into a good position to assume much of the business' activities by then so I can step down and keep working, but only when I want and only on the parts of the business I love to do best. I will never retire. I love my business too much for that, but I will eventually want to be in the position to work when I want and focus only on those things I want most to do.
the motivating factor that drove you to start your own business?
I never really liked giving up my time doing what someone else wanted me to do. I suppose I was, for all practical purposes, unemployable. I always wanted to be a writer/editor/publisher since the age of five or six! While working other jobs, my mind was constantly churning on ways to get my own publishing business going or sell articles or stories. I wanted the freedom that comes with running things and being in control of my destiny.
if any, did your family play when you were getting your business off the ground?
My ex-wife was a nurse. Since I didn't go to college, there was no way I could find work that would pay enough to even cover the day care costs, so I worked at home with the kids so they could experience at least one parent at home with them. I would house-husband during the day, working on various projects and writings during stolen moments like nap-time, then work late into the night after they went to bed. It took me a LONG, LONG time to get it up and running this way, but also eliminated almost all the risk of my starting a business of my own.
you now to continue building your business?
My love of the business...plain and simple! That and the tremendous satisfaction I get from seeing it grow as a result of my efforts. Also, I have a tremendous responsibility to the people I employ to provide them with continued employment. Taking on employees is kind of like having a second, larger family, but with "kids" who need enough to house and feed and take care of THEIR entire families!
the best thing about being self-employed?
Control, and knowing it's you who built the "machine" that is now providing you and just possibly a number of other individuals with a living. It's also nice to know I'm working at something I chose to do, and doing it well. But, mostly, it's control. Control over my destiny. There is no such thing as job security any more, but I know, with the skills I've developed and the things I have learned, that I can always make a living, no matter what happens to the economy or to my business.
do you read books and/or listen to or watch tapes for improving your business
skills or knowledge?
As often as possible. I don't take a bathroom break or smoke break without a business book or magazine in my hand. And I almost NEVER watch TV without the Web up, browsing, studying competitive sites for ideas, looking for new product sites of my own, etc.
underrated activity in business is…
Talking to clients. I absolutely LOVE it, and it's the key to knowing EXACTLY what they want so you can provide it. So many people try to avoid this contact but, in reality, every contact with your customers is a sales opportunity AND a chance to learn what you are doing right and wrong so you can continue to improve your business.
overrated activity in business is…
Being "the boss." I HATE to boss people around and wield "power." People work best for a caring co-worker who also happens to write the checks.
the biggest obstacle you had to face when you were launching your own business?
What's your biggest obstacle now?
Getting my first 10, then 20, then 200 prospects! Now that I have more than 50,000 prospects, my biggest obstacle is finding or creating enough quality products and services to offer them!
had to start your business all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have worked harder on my marketing skills. I was always dreaming of being a writer and creating my own information products and love the creative side of the business. But I spent far too much time early on with that end of things, never realizing until much later that without good marketing, it doesn't matter how good your product is. Forget that crap you hear about "create a better mousetrap and they'll beat a path to your door." It simply isn't true—unless you hook up with a good marketer who can sell the mousetrap for you. Better yet, build excellent marketing skills and you can sell ANYTHING to ANYONE any time—and there are plenty of people out there with products you can sell once you have honed your marketing skills and built a solid list of prospects to sell to.
your worst business decision?
I started a "dot-com" business that lost roughly half a million dollars because no one else was doing what I set out to do! This meant I had to CREATE a market for the service, which was much-needed and should have blown up into a multi-million dollar business. BUT, to create a market for something brand new, you have to invest MILLIONS. Instead, focus on creating products and services where there is plenty of healthy competition. This means you've found something someone wants and is already buying! AND, you can study the competition, find out what they're NOT doing well that the market would love or need and DO IT. Now I am completely re-structuring that company to fit into a completely different market, doing just ONE THING differently and better, and I'm willing to bet it will take off very nicely! You do the same; it's far easier—and cheaper—to succeed than you could possibly imagine.
your best business decision?
My best decision ever was to hook up with a seasoned marketer who had a huge list of customers and offer them a service he couldn't provide, splitting HALF the sales with him! That was the moment everything I ever dreamed of came true and it's never stopped since.
you consider to be the main keys of your success?
My willingness to share in the profits with my clients, to liberally share the profits with other marketers, to expand my list of prospects and bring me more products than I could possibly create myself to sell to them! This is the most risk-free, sure-fire way to expand ANY business!
your success philosophy?
You should NEVER try to do it alone! And never listen to your friends and family—unless they are already successful in businesses of their own. For the most part, they love you, but, deep inside, they really don't WANT you to achieve the kind of success you are truly capable of! I always surround myself with others who are successful, study their methods, and duplicate what they do to succeed myself. And…NEVER give up! Realize you WILL fail. Things you try won't work. But you must keep trying or you will never discover what does work. Every successful person I know (including myself) has failed—often miserably—more than once. But the only TRUE failure is someone who quits.
you has changed the most since finding success in business?
I'm much more self-confident. I have more resources at my disposal: a staff, money to invest and test ideas, and an incredible circle of successful friends I can turn to for advice, ideas, and additional resources.
the legacy you hope to leave?
A stable life for my loved-ones and a business that can continue beyond me to provide a quality life for its employee