The 7 Principles of Online Business Success

At first, I thought this would be a very “dry” sort of posting, but as I was putting my notes together, I got carried away by the most fascinating applications of the principles about to follow.

    This actually stands for thinking ahead of the Competition and getting into your target-group’s mind. But I’d like to use simpler words to describe the process.   Knowing what your Market WANTS today and having a plan about offering it is only the first step. Think at least THREE STEPS ahead and figure out what your NEXT OFFER is going to look  like.   Craft it with your Clients in mind.  Maybe complimentary to the first one, or an expansion of it, on a parallel basis or even outbranching .  Maybe they want potatoes with their Mac, or an organic salad with a great taste, or maybe  they want a super fast and affordable traditional dish, or you should catch your Competition in their sleep and offer a Gourmet Mac when others offer just another Mac’s version…. And in case there is a U-Turn in your Market, what’s your safety-net senario?
  2. Start having the END in your mind. You can’t get anywhere unless you KNOW where you’re going. How many times have you focused on the journey’s intermediate places while driving from one city to another?  I doubt you ever did.  When you want to actually GET somewhere, focusing on the destination is the ONLY option of completing the journey. I recall my 13 hours flight from  Amsterdam to Seattle while even Amsterdam was a Transition Station for my Athens/Greece Flight.  Through those long hours of flying, I remember watching the mountains, the lakes, the ocean, the landscapes, and also the other passengers or the attendants serving us.  But all these were only minor insignificant occurences on my way to the DESTINATION which was Seattle.  When I decided to fly to Seattle, I didn’t spend a fraction of a second thinking about Amsterdam or the Atlantic Ocean, or USA rivers and lakes and landscapes.  The same way you should be thinking about your ULTIMATE Business Goal.  Is it  More CLIENTS? More SALES?  More ESTABLISHMENTS at a shorter time-period?  More PROGRESS ? Keep that DESTINATION POINT always on your mind, especially when you Start.
  3. First Things First. This principle is mainly about beating the monsters called “PROCRASTINATION” and “ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER”. It sounds unbelievable but the majority of people live their whole lives in an ocean of minutiae.  I call it the “ocean of noise-dust”.  If friction and degradation could take the form of a “tangible” property it would ne NOISE.  Everything that doesn’t allow you to FOCUS and keep yourself on your productive track, is NOISE.  The phone that rings, the email notification, the TV playing next to your desk, the people stepping in your room, the sounds coming from the street, a new SMS on your mobile, your dog asking for attention, your stomach asking for food.  NOISE can take endless forms and saturate your life completely.  You know how great it would be to have THIS TASK FINISHED but….you’re not in the mood.  Besides, you can do it tomorrow.  Well, kill this monster, by making your TO-DO LIST of the DAY, putting ONLY 5 THINGS at a time, with an importance sequence and placing the MOST IMPORTANT at the top.  Nail yourself down, and don’t move UNLESS you have  completed your 5 TASKS for the day.  Then, you’re free to do whatever else you want.
  4. Always think WIN-WIN. A big trait of extremely successful Business People is their unSelfish attitude.  Paul Getty had said “I’d rather have 1% of 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.”  I believe this quote sums up the concept of this principle.  Always think about HOW you can give VALUE to other people : Clients, Associates, Colleagues, Partners…  Once you work on the mechanics of making ALL PARTIES WIN, your WIN is guaranteed.
  5. First UNDERSTAND then ask to be UNDERSTOOD. Another major element of  unSelfishness that needs to be stressed A LOT is UNDERSTANDING. All Human Beings crave for one thing since the moment they’re born and throughout their whole life:  ATTENTION.  By Giving your ATTENTION to people, you earn a place in their heart because they cherish your ATTENTION as a precious gift. But what makes ATTENTION precious is its nature.  PASSIVE ATTENTION has no value at all.  You’re actually pretending you pay attention, but you’re NOT .  ACTIVE ATTENTION is made from pure and genuine UNDERSTANDING, an igredient that presupposes you “dive” into other’s person’s heart and mind and share their feelings concerns or worries.  Once you UNDERSTAND, then by default people want to reciprocate and in return you get THEIR ATTENTION and UNDERSTANDING. Simple as that.  If you manage to UNDERSTAND your Market and your Clients, you’ll establish yourself as your Market’s indisputable Authority and that will lead to building a List of Loyal Friends, Fans, Buyers…
  6. Go for Synergies. In Business Alliances  1+1 ALWAYS equals MORE than 2. That’s the power of Synergies, because when Business Partners join forces, the result is LEVERAGE.  Each one’s strengths are multiplied.  They agree to use common Resources and they tap on the potential of Combined Dynamics.  In every new Business Venture, seek for Synergies. There certainly are other Businesses who target the same Clients as you but from a different perspective.  You are  NOT Market Competitors, you are TRAFFIC Competitors.  Which is great, because you can become JV Partners and multiply your results.
  7. Sharpen your SAW. Nobody can be perfect on everything, and being perfect in Business, is not as Golden as it sounds.  In fact, TOP Businesses on every Market have mastered PERFECTION in BEING MEDIOCRE.  I mean, not every business can excell on everything.  It’s essential though to know your Strengths and Weaknesses and keep your main HUBS above AVERAGE. But you must go for your STRENGTHS if you care for Success, not waste resources on improving your weaknesses. Spot your SAW and keep sharpening it WITHOUT END.
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First Things First: The FOUR Dimensions of Your Business

After having wasted precious years, energy and resources towards Business Ideas and Activities that brought poor or no results at all, the “Epiphany” came, and it was Excruciatingly Simple : I had to use my Common Sense in a Counter-Intuitive manner, and see the Forest instead of the TREE.

Well, this may not sound as new to you, but if that is the case, you are among a very tiny and priviledged minority, because almost ALL of the Clients, especially the Corporate ones, I had the honor to work with, suffer from this kind of “Blindness” to their Business’s Four Dimensions….or should I call it “unawareness”?

Exactly like a person has a PHYSICAL, an EMOTIONAL, a MENTAL and a SPIRITUAL Dimension, there is a Direct Analogue to a Business with the flame of potential and success in it.

The Physical Dimension stands for your Human Resources, your PEOPLE, your Establishments and your Technical Infrastructure. These are the “visible parts” of your Business. I would give a special degree of Gravity to your PEOPLE and separate them from the rest “physical elements” as they truly are the CORE that either makes or breaks your Model’s Backbone.

The Mental Dimension stands for the Business Plan, its Strategic Development and Effective Execution. Many think that a bright IDEA is what it takes to catapult a Business to the realms of profitability, and that as long as they carry the IDEA in their mind, things will fall together and success will come. WRONG !  You can’t go anywhere without a MAP and a concrete PLAN with a very well defined sequence of Actions and Goals.  It is essential for your TEAM, it is essential for you so you don’t lose FOCUS and keep everyone on track, always looking for more efficient ways to get there…

The Social-Emotional Dimension stands for the Customer Service, and all kinds of Relationships and Interactivity with Clients, Subscribers or Members,  your Alliances, Synergies and JV Partnerships as well as your Public Relations Policy.  Maybe the most underrated element and the one with the greatest power of all.  We humans are by default Social Beings.  The biggest part of our brain is the PRIMITIVE BRAIN which has under control the 80% of our consciousness is triggered by EMOTIONS and dominated by a gland-like structure in the core of our cerebrum  called “AMYGDALA”.  How can we EVER ignore our Clients’ emotions?  Well, sadly, most of us DO IGNORE THEM. We keep ignoring that it is way cheaper to keep and please an already established client than to acquire a new one.  ZAPPOS.COM one of E-Commerce phenomena, owes its phenomenal success to its MAIN PRINCIPLE : Making Clients Happy.  They didn’t focus on excellent shoes quality, quantity or design, etc.  They instead put themselves in their clients’ shoes and  offered them the FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE of being treated in a UNIQUE MANNER.  The result…. BILLIONS in sales, and an army of fanatic clients attracting more and more at an exponential speed through word of mouth… Think of it.

Spiritual Dimension is about your Vision and your Mission.  The Core-Belief which is depicted to your BRAND and comes from your main elements that make you UNIQUE,  as well as a constant course of  incremental improvement.  Older School of Marketing calls it USP : Unique Selling Proposition.  I call it the ROOT-CONCEPT.  It’s not easy to be understood or evaluated at first glance.  It may not be evaluated at all, but it’s of essential importance.  To help you get my point, I’ll borrow a parable I once heard from a very successful personal motivator in the US.  He spoke about the bamboo plant.  He was so glad he had just purchased  a small pot with soil and the root of bamboo in it. The joy lasted a few months while he was watering the pot and made sure it was placed on a sunny spot with plenty of fresh air around.  Soon disappointment set in as he didn’t see the slightest green sign on the soil’s surface as if the plant was NON EXISTENT or non-responsive to his daily care.  His wife started teasing him about his choice.  His friends were joking with his stubborness to keep watering a pot of soil, but a little tiny voice inside him, held resistance and didn’t let him quit.  He didn’t throw the pot to the garbage and didn’t stop watering the plant and whispering words of encouragement to the sleeping baby root.  It was after FOUR YEARS of patience and persistence, he saw the first green leave unfolding its delicacy to the open air, just above the soil’s surface.  To his glorious delight, the bamboo had just started its crazy growth at 3000-5000% per year.  It took it 4 years to build strong roots and accumulate resources.  Nobody dared to question him again.  Our Spiritual Dimension rarely sees the light -just like bamboo’s roots- and it’s hidden in dark and assumingly dirty depths, but without it there would be NO FLOWERS and NO FRUITS.  Always take care of your Business’ ROOTS and constantly feed them with the right “nutrients”.

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