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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh My Gawd.....Is My Business Obsolete?

Reprinted by permission
The League of Power



“Oh My Gawd….Is My Business Obsolete”?

6:33 AM

Question:  I own a small oil distribution company. Our sales are down over the past year or so. Do you think our business is obsolete or is it on the right side of the trend?
H.T. Rapid City SD

Dear HT:

That’s a great question.  I’ve been asked this question dozens of times.

And it’s one I ask myself all the time. Not only in my business ventures but also those of my consulting clients.

On the surface, without having a lot of details about your business, I would say you’re on the right side of the trend…which is a small to medium sized business providing a vital commodity or service.

I’ve done several things over the years (successfully I might add) to determine if a product, service or business is on the right side of a hot rising trend.

First, I take my blinders off! Here’s what I mean…

Most League of Power Members knew there was a real estate frenzy taking shape around 2005-2007.

What’s more, most people secretly knew it would end badly.

But only a small percentage of people removed the blinders and took action!

In other words, most entrepreneurs were on the WRONG SIDE of the real estate trend but failed to act. The trend was a bursting bubble value. This meant a foreclosure mania, defaults, and wide spread bankruptcies.

I try to look at things the way they and not the way I want them to be.

In horse racing “blinders” restrict a horse’s viewpoint so they’ll run without distraction. We’re not animals and we shouldn’t restrict our viewpoint, and so we can rip the blinders off.

Second, history ALWAYS repeats itself!

It’s important to look at cycles and history. One way to see cycles in living color is with historical price charts. You can obtain historical price charts for just about anything these days.  

Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a mathematician, social scientist or PhD either.

Historical price charts are as easy to read as comic strips!

When you look at 20 or 50-year historical price charts for gold, stocks, real estate, electricity, wheat, art, computers, money supply and thousands of other products or services you’ll have a nice picture of where things are at in terms of the long term “cycle”.

In other words, most products, services or business go through the same basic cycle. There will be a period of stagnant growth represented by a flat line.

Then as sales and demand increase the line will a rise to a peak.

Finally, a top is reached and the product, service or business will eventually fall back and form a flat line again.

Most cycles look like a triangle when you graph it.


Stay with me…..I’m not the smartest guy in the room!  

Spotting hot rising trends can be a handy business skill.

Here’s another example. By using historical price charts there’s a good chance you could have spotted the real estate bust BEFORE it happened.


If you knew the real estate market was going to collapse you could have positioned yourself and benefited from the trend…which in this case was DOWN.

Third… there’s NOTHING new under the sun!

This means although new products, services and businesses are being launched every day (and some of them are really cool).

The fact remains there’s nothing new under the sun.

This simply means since the beginning of time people have needed food, shelter, clothing, love, communication, other people, air, water and so on.

Someday someone will invent an “Apple Killer”. And when they do iPhones and other Apple products may decline in popularity or lose market share. If you don’t believe me then invest heavily in Apple stock today.

Desktop PC sales are trending down. Computers are not obsolete. But the way we use them is changing – big time.

When it comes to making money in business, I think it’s best to focus on existing products, markets and businesses rather than trying to invent something “new” (which is not really new any way!) or reinvent the paperclip.

I try to look at things the way are not the way I want them to be.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue ideas or markets. But the primary focus should be on existing products, markets and businesses with already have a built-in demand.

Have you ever tried to patent a product, service or idea? It’s takes a lot of time and it’s costly.

Google was built on existing product idea…the search engine…and they’ve done pretty good.

It’s true.

There were dozens of search engines on the Internet when Google was launched.

Google didn’t really invent a “new” way to search either. Link popularity already existed. In fact, the concept of “link popularity” was around in the 50’s!

Google simply put an existing idea and formula together differently.

What’s more, some would argue Google didn’t become a household word until they added AdWords advertising to the mix. And Internet advertising was not new!

“How can I tell if my business is obsolete or on the right side of a trend”? 

I’ve outlined three ways to determine if a business is obsolete and if you’re on the right side of a trend.

If other businesses in a particular sector are losing money and sales there’s a pretty good chance they are on the wrong side of the trend.

For example, take a new auto dealership. The majority of dealerships were losing money or bankrupt after the real estate fiasco in 2007.

But new car sales were in decline well before 2007.

However, people did not stop driving cars.

Smaller, neighborhood used car dealerships became a rising trend in 2005. The trend is still intact today.

Here’s another example….

Traditional book publishing (and sales) has been in decline for years. The bookseller Barnes and Noble may seek bankruptcy protection. This is NOT a hot rising trend.

However, ebook and digital publishing, as well as “print on demand” IS a hot rising trend. Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader was the number one gift on Amazon.com in 2010.

Another way to determine if your business is obsolete or if it’s on the losing side of a trend is with common horse sense.

But common horse sense is not so “common” these days.

W.C Fields said, “Common horse sense is the thing a horse has that keeps him from betting on people”!

Granted, sometimes you can go “against the grain” and profit.

You can also jump on a trend early and profit.

But for most entrepreneurs, including myself, it makes more sense to focus on existing products, markets and businesses without trying to be too cleaver.

Back to our reader’s question…..

I think a small oil distribution company is a great niche business, and especially in the current economy.

I’d like to know if HT’s business is profitable or if it’s losing money too. If his business is profitable sales is an easy problem to correct with powerful direct marketing.

A lot of people are experiencing extreme hardships in the current economy. But believe it or not some businesses and markets are actually growing, such as:

Pawn shops
Advance paycheck businesses
Handymen
Used car lots
Security products (guns, tasers, alarms, etc)
Small organic and specialty farms
Programming, IT security
Natural health and wellness
Spas
Information products
eBooks (Kindle sales are off the chart)
Prepaid everything
Discount stores
Trades (small scale carpentry, electrical, plumbing, well drilling, heating, window replacement, auto mechanics, etc)
Netflix
Google TV
The old fable in the classic Acres of Diamonds comes to mind.

The lesson of the fable is there are often acres of diamonds in our own backyard.

In my experience, the best money making opportunities are often in plain view.

Don’t worry; I’m not going “new age” on you!

The best opportunities are usually in plain view.

Now….as far as HT and his oil distribution business, a simple fact remains.

No matter how bad things get people need heating fuel.

The question to HT should ask himself is:

Will my customers do business with competitors because of better pricing, better service or better terms?

You can always look for ways to offer better service and maybe a break on pricing, or financing.

For example, most oil distribution companies offer boiler services.

HT could go a step further by offering an annual “Energy Audit” free of charge.

The “Energy Audit” would be an unbiased evaluation of a homeowner’s or business owner’s building. This audit could include specific recommendations for reducing energy consumption.

Be on the lookout for in-kind relationships with companies which offer the services you need, like snowplowing, accounting, direct marketing or dealing with the government.

Granted, most of the barter systems I’ve seen fall short big time.

But in a depression, as in good times, legitimate in-kind relationships are crucial.

Here’s something else I’ll throw into the mix…

The companies saddled with debt, unpaid receivables and huge inventories of outdated products tend to be the first to go under when the economy turns south. We should prepare for this BEFORE it occurs. If you have problems in these areas make changes today.

And don’t forget….direct marketing (done right) usually separates the men from the boys when it comes to increasing sales.

I hope that helps!

Your Humble Host,

Marc Charles

(Ed Note:  Marc Charles is referred to as "The King of Business Opportunities" ....and for good reason. He should be known as "The King of Legitimate Business Opportunities"...because he's launched, bought, sold reviewed and advised on hundreds of businesses and money making opportunities. He understands legitimate opportunities. Marc has agreed supply League of Power members with crucial updates regarding legitimate business and money making opportunities.)


***** Action Strategy *****

1)    Take the blinders off. For example, everyone is negative about the economy. But maybe this is the BEST time to start a business or expand an existing one.

2)    Research trends by reviewing historical price charts. You can do this by searching Google Images. Simply enter the terms or chart you want and go! For example, you could search “fast food restaurant historical chart” and you’ll find hundreds of charts.

3)    Focus on existing products; markets and businesses with already have a built-in demand. List four or five off the top of your head.



******Valuable Resources *******

Trends
Historical Price Charts (Google Images)

“Non-Obsolete” Business Ideas for 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Truth About Ticket Scalping For CASH

Reprinted by permission
The League of Power




How to Make Money Attending Concerts, Special Events, VIP Receptions and Sporting Events FREE of Charge

The Truth About Ticket Scalping for Cash!

8:14 AM

Dear Entrepreneur:

You can attend concerts, sporting events and even special events absolutely free of charge and make money at the same time! I’ve done it dozens of times. I’ll show you how I do it.

I’ve attended the following concerts, sporting and special events free of charge (and actually made money on some of them):

American Idol Live (Don’t ask…I have kids)
Boston Red Sox (love them or hate them it’s hard to get tickets)
Eagles (classic stuff)
Emmy Lou Harris (I’m not a big fan but a happy wife means a happy life!)
George Winston
Atlanta Braves (Spring Training)
North Atlantic Blues Festival (and backstage passes)
Michael Buble (a must see even if you hate Frank Sinatra)
Jackson Browne (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a reason)
Paul McCartney (Paul HATES the idea of scalping…oh well)
U2 (Politically correct but marketing inept)
Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
Hilary Duff (Don’t go there…I was a chaperone!)
Derek Trucks (An absolute must see. He tours with Clapton and the Allman Brothers too)
Dragonforce
Wyeth Center Reception
Naples Museum of Art Reception

The secret to scalping is buying tickets at or below retail prices and reselling them for a profit.

This business can also enable you to attend shows or events free of charge while making money. I’m not kidding.

If you think that’s great, then you’ll love this…..

I discovered a hidden secret to this strategy, which bypasses all of the headaches associated with ticket scalping.

But first…….

Is Ticket Scalping Legal?

There’s an underground economy for concerts, sporting and special event tickets…..and there’s nothing big time entertainers or promoters can do about it.

They’ve tried different tactics and gimmicks….like Miley Cyrus’ recent ticket fiasco requiring IDs to match digital tickets. Fail!

In fact, huge musical acts like U2, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Eagles, Madonna, and Billy Joel criticize the practice of “scalping tickets” – and re-selling them for profit.

Unfortunately most acts have no effect on the universe or market forces whatsoever. If I want to sell tickets to my best friend at a profit there’s nothing they can do about it.

Granted, top sites like CraigsList, eBay, Amazon, and MySpace have stiff polices and penalties for people who try to resell tickets online.

This is hypocrisy at its best.

You can buy thousands of products at or below market prices and re-sell them on the Internet at huge markups without any problem whatsoever.
                                                                                                                                    But when it comes to buying and selling concert and sporting event tickets, some people complain about how unfair it is.
The truth is you CAN buy tickets and resell them for a profit!

Welcome to the new world of legal scalping.

There’s a new ticket “player” in town and it’s called StubHub.

Similar sites are being launched by the boatload.

But StubHub is pretty neat.

StubHub is a person-to-person marketplace (also known as P2P). The site facilitates the buying and selling of tickets. StubHub deducts a 15 percent fee whenever a ticket is sold.

The good news is StubHub enables you to buy and sell tickets online quickly and easily.

Heck….you can even do this as a side business because StubHub recently launched and affiliate program….click here for details.

Here’s the Big Picture….

Have you ever considered the magnitude of entertainment marketplace?

It’s huge.

Think about it….. NASCAR, MLB, NBA, NFL, UFC, NCAA, NHL, boxing – and that’s just sports!

There’s also concerts, pro wrestling (like it or not) and music festivals.

And don’t forget the Grand Daddy of horse racing…..the Kentucky Derby!

The resale ticket market exceeded $2 billion in 2010, according to TicketExchange.com.

You can resell tickets directly to consumers on hundreds of other sites too. But StubHub is really good because of the high volume of qualified prospects.

A Legal Scalper’s Insider’s Guide

Granted, there are a ton of sites are jumping on the BAN SCALPING bandwagon.
For example, some sites disallow the selling of tickets for more than the face value.

But there’s a fun way around this loophole and it’s called “ticket bundles” or “event packages”.

That’s right.

This simply means concert, sporting or special event tickets can be “bundled” with other amenities such as two nights at a premium hotel within walking distance to the venue and dinner at a swanky restaurant.

When you approach a hotel and resort’s general manager, and tell them you are a “travel aggregator”, or “event planner”, they will extend a deep discount to you.

You’ll be amazed how accommodating general managers can be when you tell them what you’re doing.

I recently bundled an “event package” to see Norah Jones at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville TN.

There are thousands of great venues around the U.S., Canada and the world. But the Ryman Auditorium is a classic.

Anyway, I assembled an “event package” which included two nights at a premium hotel within walking distance to the Ryman Auditorium.

The total cost for the tickets and hotel was about $395. I sold the “event package” online (CraigsList) for $750. That’s a net profit of $355! If I had put the “event package” up for auction on eBay, I might have made a lot more. This profit would have enabled me to see the concert free of charge!

The bottom line is to purchase tickets at or below face value, and resell them for a profit, enabling you to see events for free.

You can grab tickets at or below face value on StubHub or hundreds of other sites like TicketMaster, Live Nation, or even eBay

But, it’s important to concentrate on concerts, sporting and other events which have a strong demand. If you purchase tickets to concerts, games or events that SELL OUT…consider yourself lucky.

The demand for sold out events is huge…and this means more profit and free tickets for you!

Your Humble Host,

Marc Charles

(Ed Note:  Marc Charles is referred to as "The King of Business Opportunities" ....and for good reason. He should be known as "The King of Legitimate Business Opportunities"...because he's launched, bought, sold reviewed and advised on hundreds of businesses and money making opportunities. He understands legitimate opportunities. Marc has agreed supply League of Power members with crucial updates regarding legitimate business and money making opportunities.)


***** Action Strategy *****

Apply these methods today and attend a concert free of charge in the next 90 days.

Brainstorm ideas for acquiring tickets at deep discounts and repackaging them as “events” for extra cash!

Have fun and play nice!

*****Valuable Resources ******

Ticketmaster (largest ticket seller in the world)





Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Resturant Bites the Dust -- Rockland Maine

Question: I know what you've said over the years about restaurants and nightclubs. They are about the worst business to get into for new entrepeneurs.

But I've found two opportunities which appear to be sound. 

In both cases I would own the properties outright (no mortgage). I would hire seasoned general managers with profit share agreements only. 

Both locations have been profitable since day one (I conducted separate audits). 
Please send me your thoughts.
W.E. Burbank CA

Answer Marc Charles:

Hi:

Thanks for the post.

We've had another resturant bite the dust on the coast of Maine this week.

As I've stated previously -- the reasons were one of five I've outlined hundreds of times since the 90s.

It seems like you've done your homework. Most people don't bother because they assume they already have the answers they need.

I love your strategy of owning properties outright and hiring seasoned GMs with profit share agreements only. That is the best strategy in my opinion.

But I would still talk you out of owning the ventures though.

Restaurants are like boats....you love buying them but it's a pain in the ass when it comes to sell!

On top of that, I would never open a restaurant in California. I realize some people are making money hand over fist with restaurants in prime locations.

But the regulation, red tape, taxes, fees, fines, police state, franchise board, and customer lawsuits make me very nervous, etc. etc.

So no........I would not open a restaurant in California. Jump across the boarder into Nevada, or a couple of boarders into Utah, Texas or even South Dakota.

If I can't persuade you to change your mind.....or invest in resturant groups or ETFs, then consider this approach............................

Restaurants and nightclubs are the hardest businesses to launch and run profitably.

Why? 

Because the overhead costs can kill you.

If you want to open a restaurant, you have to contend with staff salaries, inventory, inspections, unions, utilities, property taxes, licenses, heating and cooling systems, insect protection, trash removal, and certifications ... to name a few.

These are serious expenses. 

More important, these are expenses that most restaurateurs ignore - or grossly underestimate - until it's too late.

But you can make money hand over fist in the restaurant business.

Obviously, not every restaurant fails. But most of them do.

If you're thinking about opening a restaurant, here are three simple things you can do - and it will cost you less than $75:
1. Watch reruns of The Restaurant (if you can) - a series showing what Rocco DiSpirito went through opening a restaurant in New York City. The show has been cancelled, but reruns are still around.
2. Subscribe to Nation's Restaurant News. This is considered "the bible" for restaurant owners and professionals.
3. Play The Restaurant Empire game on your PC. You'll love it, your kids will love it, and your spouse will love it.
My fascination with the restaurant business began in high school. I was the youngest general manager for a hot Mexican casual dining franchise. (Unfortunately, this franchise had to file for bankruptcy as a result of a hepatitis outbreak that killed several customers and made hundreds of others very sick.)

What's more, I have four friends who opened restaurants over the past 12 years. All of them failed - except one. (And he's miserable.)

Interestingly, the failure of most restaurants rarely has anything to do with the food. In most cases, the failure is due to out-of-control overhead costs, the inability to find quality people who stay put, ineffective direct marketing, and the ego of the owner/chef.

Most of the owner/chefs I've talked to opened their restaurants so they would be admired by the press and their customers - not to make money. Maybe it shouldn't be called a "business" if making a profit is not the goal.

If you watch The Restaurant with Rocco DiSpirito, you'll get a sense of what I'm talking about.
Rocco is a lot of fun to watch. And he may be one of the greatest chefs that ever lived. But his pride and ego blinded him to the principles that make restaurants profitable. 

His constant squabbles with the partners who were providing the capital reveal his lack of business savvy.

Rocco knew very little about risking capital (prior to this experience, he never owned a business) - and even less about leading a team of qualified (high-spirited) professionals.

Anyway, if you're still motivated to open a restaurant after being exposed to the downside - and if you have sufficient capital - consider a top-notch franchise instead of trying to do it "your way."

6 Benefits of a Quality Restaurant Franchise for Start-up Entrepreneurs

Based on my research and hands-on experience, here are the top 6 benefits of purchasing a quality restaurant franchise. The franchise provides you with:
  • cost-control expertise
  • marketing expertise
  • systemized personnel training
  • intense demographics research
  • back-office technology and expertise (for dealing with payroll, vendors, and insurance)
  • research and development (concerning food and dining trends)
Here's an idea of what some restaurant franchises will cost you:
  • McDonald's - $500,000 to $1,000,000
  • Carvel Ice Cream - $75,000
  • Chester's Fried Chicken - $70,000 to $395,000
  • Dunkin Donuts - $500,000
  • Buffalo Wild Wings - $500,000
  • Captain D's Seafood - $450,000
  • Figaro's Pizza - $95,000
  • Blimpie Subs - $25,000
  • Huddle House Restaurant - $250,000 to $500,000
  • Burger King - $100,000 to $350,000
Another thing to keep in mind is that restaurant trends are always changing.

You've probably seen this in your neighborhood. The No. 1 fast-food chain today may be tomorrow's laughing stock. One bad marketing decision or health issue can sink an entire operation.

Fifteen years ago, a Burger King franchise was considered the "hottest ticket in town." These days, Burger King can't unload stores fast enough.

Trying to predict which fast-food brand will be the "hot ticket" 10 years from now is almost impossible. However, one way to identify profitable restaurant trends is by watching where the "big money" is being invested.

A "big money" restaurant operation like Brinker International (Chili's, Macaroni Grill, Maggiano's, On the Border, Rockfish, Corner Bakery) is a good example.
Brinker International is one of the largest and most successful restaurant franchises in the world. 
They own more than 1,600 units and have more than 140,000 employees. For the past five years, Forbes magazine has listed Brinker among the "400 Best Companies to Work For."

I think franchises are a great alternative when you're starting out in the restaurant business - even if you have a "name" as a chef and are tempted by the idea of franchising your brand ... like Tony Roma and Emeril Lagasse did.

The purpose of Profit Center Dispatch is to identify legitimate business opportunities and show you  HOW to make them profitable.

And when it comes to restaurants, your best bet will be a solid franchise that has identified a rising trend.

By the way, there are hundreds of non-food-related franchises too. And most don't require nearly as much capital.

So while you're investigating restaurant franchises, you might want to check out some of these:
  • Meineke Car Care Centers - $65,000
  • Valpak Direct Marketing System - $5,000 (15,000 households)
  • 1st Propane - $10,000
  • Sona Laser Hair Removal - $200,000
  • SuperCuts - $30,000
  • Friendly Computers - $50,000
  • AccuTax - $10,000
  • CashPlus - $75,000
  • Regis Salons - $50,000
  • Ice Cold Air (discount auto repair) - $75,000
  • Lil Pals Mobile Pet Photography - $20,000
  • Ace Cash Express (Kiosk) - $15,000

If you're determined to open a restaurant, consider viable franchise opportunities.

Watch the major money restaurateurs. Where and what type of restaurants are they building today?

Do your research and then talk to current owners or former owners of the operations you're interested in. You may not hear what you want to hear, but it'll give you a great perspective on the reality of this business.

The main benefit of owning a legitimate franchise is that you will have an established brand. The next-best benefit is that you will be taking advantage of time-tested marketing. This could save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding the serious pitfalls and marketing blunders of most "go it alone" restaurateurs.

Morel Resources for Restaurant Franchises:

Additional Resources for Non-Food Franchises:

I hope that helps!!

Send me your thoughts.

Later.....................

Marc Charles
 http://www.marccharles.com

"The King of Business Opportunities"