I always like to bring you Guys interesting information that will help build your business. I was having a ten minute surf around YouTube and I found this brilliant video interview with Jeff Bezos, head honcho of Amazon.
I think everyone knows Amazon lost money (lots of it) for many years before finally turning a profit. Now they are the biggest company on the planet (I think). However, this interview really does dig into what Jeff Bezos is all about, it’s very revealing and demonstrates some of his thought processes. It’s just shy of ten minutes long and is very definitely worth a watch.
What I like about this is the way it reveals his thought process. I always think “the entrepreneur” thinks in a different way, makes different connections in the brain, however, this insight is something a little different. Something we can all learn from and maybe there are a few “take outs” that we can apply to our own business.
I hope you find it useful – it certainly opened my eyes in a few areas.
Personally I think the big win is they can supply DEEP into the “long tail” and bricks and mortar stores simply don’t have the space or economies of scale to compete. I like some pretty weird stuff on the music front and I just cannot get a lot of that music on the high street, but…Amazon always delivers. I guess it’s the same with books, DVDs etc. Amazon will always win because of its size nowadays!
Hello again, Stevie here, today I want to look at importing business models.
It’s certainly true that what works in one country doesn’t necessarily work in another. But it is also sometimes true that you can save an awful lot of research time by looking at business models used in foreign countries and importing them. This is particularly so if the country has a similar culture. Like Canada and the United States or maybe the U.K.
So, I was somewhat intrigued when I studied how Hassle Free Boilers had entered the U.K domestic energy market by “borrowing” a business model from Canada.
Background To The U.K Market
The U.K market had been pretty much tied up with big corporates like E’on and British Gas. Despite pressure from the regulator and to some degree Government prices remained stubbornly high so the market was ripe for a disruptive influence. I must admit to being a big fan of disruptor business models. I think it’s that old “against the odds” thing in me that likes to see a David triumph over a Goliath.
So, what exactly did Hassle Free do?
As they say, let’s start at the beginning because it’s a very good place to start. If you were a U.K resident five or six years ago and needed a new gas boiler, chances are you would go to either one of the corporate suppliers or get a local engineer on the case. The boilers were expensive and installation costs were not that far behind. All in all it was an expensive business. I read on the HFB site that it is the 6th or 7th most expensive household outlay. However, it is a necessity, especially with some of the bad winters the U.K has experienced in recent years.
At this time the market was very much monopolised by the big corporates and price fixing on boilers, installation and indeed energy prices were de rigeur.
Going local was cheaper, but there was a lack of any guarantees with a local install. So, the market was polarised. You either paid through the nose and got your guarantees or you went cheaper and took the risk. Even if you went witha company like Scottish Power, the guarantee only covered certain parts for 12 months so you needed a maintenance contract as well.
In Canada, meanwhile, things were much more civilised.
The Canadian Model
The standard business model was for domestic energy companies to proivde a “one-stop shop” service for their domestic customers. They offered a range of boiler makes, installation and servcie contracts all bundled into one monthly cost. Indeed, because of their buying power, they could provide the hardware much more cheaply and…here’s the kicker, they were prepared to write off the boiler cost over the life of the unit. So, for one low’ish payment per month the customer receives a new boiler, free at point of installation and an on-going service contract over the life of the boiler.
After extensive U.K market research the Ecovision Group believed that the U.K market would receive a similar business model well and they created Hassle Free Boilers to do just that.
Initialy providing the service selling Vaillant boilers only, they quickly expanded to offer both Ideal and Worcester Bosch boilers as well. The three premier brands of domestic boiler in the U.K. Using their buying power to drive prices down, HFB offered the full gamut for just £35/month. When worked out over the life cycle of a boiler significant savings could be made over the traditional model. Estimates put the saving at somewhere between 40-50% depending on te model of boiler and energy usage.
Come what may, as a Hassle Free Boilers customer you benefit from a new energy efficient grade A best combi boiler. They also save significantly on gas usage over the course of the year as well being significantly more energy efficient than most current home’s boilers.
However, HFB went one step further than their Canadian counterparts. They negotiated an advantageous spot energy deal so can supply gas at a more competitive price as well. It’s the full domestic heating service at a great price.
It’s a “no-brainer” and I am delighted that they have made significant headway in the U.K.
As it happens Government have now stepped in and forced gas prices down with all of the main supliers starting to fall more in line with spot prices. But it took a serious market disruptor to make it happen! This is why I love the disruptive business model, it drives change for the benefit of the consumer!
You also get a free Nest with every install at the moment! How cool is that?
Hi Stevie here,
Today I am talking to Derek Armson of Authority Digital. His company do Search Engine Optimisation for businesses across the U.K. I’ll be asking him all about that dreaded Google algorithm and what it means for your business. So, without further ado, let’s crack on.
So, how long have you been doing this?
“About two years solely as a client SEO”, he says. “Although both Lee (Brooker – Derek’s business partner in Authority Digital) and I have been working on more broad online marketing for about 7 or 8 years. Is it really that long? Yes, it is”, he muses.
Seen It All
So, I would guess there isn’t much you Guys haven’t seen in digital marketing?
“Oh, how I wish that were true”, he laughs, “the scene changes so quickly. I’m not just talking about the algorithm either here. The way technology advances means there are new and better tools being released to market all of the time. And, because Google itself is an ever changing target, new techniques are being developed all the time as well. It is almost a full time job keeping up with the latest advances. That inevitably does mean we are not expert across the broad spectrum of Internet marketing skills. It’s impossible to be so. You do have to specialise, which we do in SEO”.
Clearly, though, you have to engage in many of those other areas. How do you cope?
“To be honest, we now outsource a lot of work. We have an excellent writer we use for most of our content. Rather than do the time consuming research to find high quality domains, we buy from a broker. That broker also sets up all of our ranking domains for us now as well. As we have become more successful, the extra income has allowed us to outsource these types of task so that we can concentrate on making sure we are always fully up to speed with algorithm changes ad able to react. This ensures our clients remain highly ranked and they are protected no matter what Google throws at us”.
What About The Google Algorithm?
You have sort of pre-empted me there, I was going to ask about the algorithm next. How on earth do you stay up to speed with the constant changes?
“Yes, it’s true the algorithm does change an awful lot. I understand Google have a room the size of quite a few fotball pitches full of the best brains on the planet continuously developing the thing! But, I think you have to look at it from Google’s perspective. Their raison d’etre is to provide the best possible search results for their customers. If they didn’t, searchers would quickly leave and go to Bing or Yahoo. So, the fact that Google is used for 70% plus of all searches means they must be doing something right. However, for them to stay so far ahead of the game does make it a tough job for us to keep up”.
Interesting, tell me more.
“Well, firstly, Google has and always will look for the same thing. It wants to see that your site is popular, is trusted and has great and engaging content. The way they measure popularity is by how many other sites link to yours. If those sites that link to you are trusted by Google, your site will also gain trust. So, for example, a link from the BBC would suggest to Google that your site is trusted by a huge authority site and they would give you a boost in rankings for that. However, they also want to see that incoming links are relevant to your site. So, if your site is about, say, stamp collecting, but the link to it is from a site about horse racing, they will not see that as relevant and devalue the link”.
I see, I think!
Quality, Engaging Content Is Vital
“And finally, you also need to have content that keeps people on your site. Nowadays Google is fastidious in measuring how long people stay on your site and how they “engage” with your content. If a visitor arrives on your site and clicks straight off again, Google will record that as what they call “a bounce”. If your bounce rate is too high, they will decide yur site is not very good and push it down the rankings. If they see a site that has little or no content or copied content, they will apply a dreaded Panda penalty. If your site attracts such a penalty, it will fall in the rankings. So SEO looks at a whole gamut of different factors”.
Is that the lot?
“Well, not quite,” he smiles broadly. “In the most recent update social media became much more important. And, it’s not just about being seen on social media. Google now measures how popular your content is for the number of shares, likes, re-tweets, +1’s etc your cntent gets across the social media platforms. So, in 2015 it is vital that you not only get yuor message out there, but get it socalised as well. Social is now a vital cog in your search engine optimisatio arsenal. I believe it will become more important over the coming years as well”.
Wow, that was a really in depth look at SEO in 2015, thank you so much for your time Derek
“It was a pleasure, and I hope this helps your readers with the search engine placings”.
Here’s Derek talking about the importance of social media after the recent changes.
Today we talk to professional photographer Michelle Wiggett about her life as pro picture taker in leafy Hertfordshire. We look at her work and life and how she balances all the weekend work and a ludicrously busy schedule with having two young children.
First, let’s rewind a couple of years. I was doing my final ever recruitment contract before going full time into SEO. One day, Michelle turned up on site as a part-time marketing manager. It was small agency and I was trying to help them expand by recruiting staff for them. Michelle was trying to drum up business from the existing database as well as new business via some new marketing channels.
One lunch time, over a Nandos, we got talking. We both had alternative lives and amazingly they dovetailed together. Michelle had always had a keen interest in photography and when you look at her images you can see why. She has a definite “eye” for a great picture. But her course taught her how to take that amateur interest and turn it professional. It was a six month part residential course and went into both the technical aspects of being a photographer as well as how to run a photography business.
Launching The Business
And it was at this time she was launching Michelle Wiggett Photography.
For my part, I’d just spent a small fortune learning how Google really worked and how to get websites ranked. So, we were at the same stages of our respective businesses. It made perfect sense to help each other out.
So, I agreed to do Michelle’s SEO for her, at cost, in return for a glowong testimonial if it worked.
I am delighted to say it did and Michelle has no need to spend any other budget on marketing these days. She get’s all of her business from the SERPS.
But, the success in the rankings has brought new challenges.
“I am so incredibly busy” she smiles. “Since I went to the top I have been booked out doing wedding photography in St Albans every weekend this summer”.
Are you complaining I asked?
“No, not at all”, she laughs. “I have also been booked out with family shoots, animal sessions and even some commercial work. I’ve also had a lot of childrens photography work as well, which I love dearly. Having said that, despite the fact I lose most of my Saturdays I still love weddings the best”.
“Being in St Albans as a photographer is just amazing”, she says. “We have fantatsic countryside, great light and the people are nice around here. There’s a lot to be said for that”.
Making It Work
But you do have two young children and a husband who is busy in the IT world, how doe sit all fit together?
“It’s tough”, she reflects “You know from when I did your own wedding (she was amazing – Ed) that Paul helps me out, so we need a strong support network around us. Through the children’s school and networking groups we have come together with like minded people and we helpeach other out”. For example I am nearly always around in the week. So I help out other parents with their children in the week, they help us out at weekends. It works really well”.
So, why photography? I mean, you’re pretty good at marketing as well.
“It’s what I love, I really do. I can’t describe the feeling when you get that perfect shot, it’s truly awe inspiring. When you can see raw emotion or true love in a pciture you have taken it is the most rewarding thing possible. To be able to take a photo at that instant and see that recorded for ever is beyond words”.
Indeed, Michelle was the photographer at my St Albans wedding and I can personally vouch for the fact she is simply amazing. We were over the moon with the results she got.
Check out her work at WWW.MichelleWiggettPhotography.CO.UK
Check out this video of some of Michelle’s work as well.
For parents whose kids arrive prematurely, finding clothing that will suit them and still allow for PICC and IV entry can be quite stressful. In fact, clothes strictly designed for preemies are quite difficult to find in the usual baby clothing stores.
Unfortunately, making do with standard baby clothes is not going to suffice either as they are often either big or need to be reduced to even fit the babies. Having to think and worry about this on top of the present worry of having a premature baby will only add more stress to an already stressful situation.
The good thing is it doesn’t have to strenuous. There are difficulties, yes, but they can be taken care of when you know what they are.
Safety is a Primary Concern
If you decide to proceed with adjusting the standard sized baby’s clothing, there’s always the issue of skin irritation and allergies as these newborns tend to have extra sensitive skin which react to dyes and other chemicals used during the manufacturing process.
Not just that, their possible lack of a strong or fully strengthened immune system like their counterparts that were carried to term, makes using just any clothing material can be dangerous. So, parents need to be sure of this before purchasing standard sized baby clothing and carrying out any adjustments.
Designs and Proper Sizing May Be Lacking
Luckily, some baby specialty stores are known to sell premature baby clothes. While this is good news, there’s usually the issue of very limited sizes and generic designs. You see, there’s the assumption that a 4lb baby requires the same clothing material as a 2lb baby.
Nothing could be further from the truth. 4lb babies for instance, can make do with premature baby suits while 2lb babies are best fitted with vests because their legs and arms are very sensitive to clothing materials at that point. So, be sure that the store can help with this.
What Should You Do?
When you eventually find a premature baby clothes specialty store that you are comfortable with, find out if they can make any necessary adjustments. Usually, a good store will provide a wide range of suits, booties, capes, blankets, vests and hats. See if there’s one specifically made for your child’s size. And if there isn’t any, they will be willing to customize the clothes to your specifications.
The Premature Baby Boutique by Dinki Dreams is just such a store, check them out for French designed Preemie clothes made in the U.K
Having a premature baby is an amazing thing. Yes, it’s tough, but the process of finding perfect sized baby clothes can be fun. And the joy of watching them thrive and eventually outgrow those clothes into standard baby clothing is indescribable.
ately, making do with standard baby clothes is not going to suffice either as
You can find Dinki Dreams here:- http://www.PrematureBabyBoutique.co.uk
Here’s the Dinki Dreams Promo Video – I hope you like it.
It is a sad fact of modern life that most people hate their jobs. As an ex recruiter I do find that staggering. I guess it shows the lack of proper information provided by careers counsellors in the education system. I suppose it also shows how over bearing “the system” has become. We go to school, college, get an education and then work the treadmill for 40 years and retire in poverty. It’s what the system wants, even demands of us.
Are We Sheep?
That we are compliant little sheep that don’t rock the boat and pay our taxes. I have heard the term “bagged and tagged” used. Harsh but certainly an element of truth given the level of surveillance these days. If you do step out of line, expect to feel the full force of “the law”. Now the law may well be an ass (let’s face it in many cases it really is). But it a sharp instrument for the most part designed to keep you under control. get on the wrong side of it and you will feel the full force.
So, it delights me that I now see so many more people taking full control of their lives. Yes the advent of the Internet gives us so much more freedom of choice. And it makes it far more difficult for big brother to control us. Long may that be the case and I love seeing Government’s attempts to reign in the power of the Internet. Long may they fail! Somone will always be one step ahead because the bureaucracy of Government simply can’t keep pace with the flair of the free entrepreneur. But that’s another subject for another day.
Let’s focus on people taking control of their own destiny, that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
Doing What You Love Equals Freedom
Doing what you love to earn money brings a certain freedom. Now I’m talking talking freedom from Big Brother or the Tax Man, but a mental freedom. Yes, you can get that physical freedom by leaving the country and being a little more nomadic in your outlook. Indeed many Internet businesses only need a high speed broadband connection to function. Everything is stored in “the cloud” and they can work from anywhere. Power to their elbow.
But I am talking about something at a much more basic level. I guess this almost fits in with Maslows Heirarchy of Needs. The need to feelyou are doing something worthwhile. Not for anyone else, but for yourself. the self satisfaction your get from working with something you love.
Your Needs Are Important
It’s the artist that earns a living plying their trade. Maybe they write creative signs for small unique businesses. Maybe it’s the cake decorator who makes truly creative and absolutely unique wedding cakes designs and charges a premium for doing so. Maybe it’s the inventor that designs a new sort of shoe implant that makes your foot fit snuggly when you can’t get the right sized shoe (yep, my wife found some online).
Maybe it’s the person who loves animals and quits a high powered job to work with them in a pet sitting business. It’s about taking control of your own destiny. It’s the person who turns that pet sitting business into a pet day care franchise and maximises the income from the original idea.
Maybe it’s the person who sees the need for social change and starts a unique social network that it takes years to build. But…that he is so committed to it that finally it starts to build momentum and does gradually start to bring about much needed social and political change.
Although out of all of these it’s the pet sitting I like the most. Why? Well, I met Peter who runs Pets, Homes and Gardens, the company that offers the franchise. Indeed I talked to many of his franchisees when I was doing a case study on this business.
What sets them apart? It’s simply this. The joy I saw in the franchisees. They had a dream to work with pets and animals and Peter provided them with the means to fulfill their dreams. To me that is so amazingly powerful, that PHG win my vote here.
You can find them at http://www.petshomesandgardens.co.uk