Are You Missing Out on Extra Profit?

money1As a business owner, you’re probably familiar with the term “upsell.” It’s when you take the opportunity to offer extra products or services after a customer is already committed to a purchase. A great example is the age-old McDonald’s classic: “Would you like fries with that?”

The impressive truth about upselling is that you can add a HUGE amount of revenue with simple suggestions or recommendations.

Upselling is easily done in person. After all, when you’re watching a customer peruse items in your store it’s easy to see what catches his or her attention. But what can you do when your small business is an online ecommerce store?

Here are three ways to add a few extra dollars to each order:

1. Offer Gift Wrap & Cards
Many people would love to spend a buck or two extra to avoid the hassle of wrapping a gift. This especially appeals to those who want to ship a gift directly to the recipient, without being a go-between.

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Trendsetters, Influencers and Connectors

andrea-headshotclr_Guest post – Andrea Baxter is a senior marketing professional and a co-founder of Smart Cookies, founded in early 2007. Educating women on how to be smart with their money while living fabulously, the Smart Cookies have appeared on CNN, Oprah, MSNBC, and ABC News. They have published two best-selling books and host their own TV show.

As a businesswoman, more importantly, an entrepreneur, I have come to learn that there are 3 very important people you must surround yourself with in order to help your business grow and make it successful: trendsetters, influencers and connectors. Why? Because these are the people who are going to believe in you, believe in what you are doing and will want to help you grow your business as ferociously as you do.

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How Do You Choose the Right Product for Your Small Business? We Try to Figure it Out…

e3-logoLast week, we introduced you to the new online business being launched by CityMax.com staff – also known as the E3 venture (Employee Entrepreneur Experience). We determined the company bylaws and discussed what kind of business had the best chance to grow.

This week, we looked at a variety of products to sell, from event tickets to tennis rackets, and finally voted them down to the top three. After a bit of discussion, we may have reached a decision. Check out our criteria below – what would you have voted for?

1. High-end Pens

  • We determined that these were easy to sell in bulk quantities, with a 2-3% markup for each pen
  • High online search volume for custom pens, as well as the top manufacturers
  • Very easy to ship
  • However, due to our lack of any existing relationship with a supplier this product earned few votes in the final evaluation

2. Car Wax

  • An extremely expensive product that generates repeat customers
  • High online search volume indicating great demand
  • Easy to ship
  • Market is largest in the USA
  • High margins
  • Better sold in high volume
  • Easily branded
  • Manufacturing – possibly homemade, which would mean not scalable and a low production rate
  • It is a product our staff feel they can get behind
  • Potentially a strong product, if supplier issues are clarified

3. Baseball Bats

  • One of our members has developed a potential relationship with a supplier
  • High online search volume
  • Great market opportunity for Little League teams, semi-pros, beer league teams, trophies
  • Free drop-shipping
  • Easy to out-source production
  • Small order sizes possible – no inventory back up
  • Fully customizable: baseball bats can be branded easily
  • High agreement among board members (CityMax.com staff)

After some debate, the E3 group reached a consensus – custom baseball bats appear to be our best option. Up next week: we research market opportunities and our competition to see if our business model is viable.

Stay tuned…

The CityMax.com team is starting a new small business. Will we succeed?

e3-logoIf you’re familiar with CityMax.com, you already know we’ve got entrepreneur fever. Our website builder is the heart of thousands of successful businesses (just take a look at our amazing Homepreneur finalists), and we’ve been around for over 10 years. But so what, you might ask?

Well, two weeks ago we decided to put our money where our collective mouth is. We decided to start an online venture.

Why?  To show that anyone can do it, and hopefully learn a few things along the way.

Every CityMax.com team member will help run our new small business. Each week, the entire company (all 34 of us) will meet as a board and vote to determine our next course of action – from our operational name, to the look of our website, to marketing. And you’ll get to follow along right here!

Week 1: We drafted and approved our company bylaws. Boring but essential, and very democratic.

Last week: We began talking about what kind of business we should start. To figure out the “right product”, the team started floating ideas against a boatload of questions that any new business owner should ask:

  • Is it easily shipped? (The best products are those that can be packaged or shipped affordably and safely)
  • Is it scalable? How are you going to manage increased shipping/sales if you go from 1 sale daily to 400?
  • Does it encourage repeat customers?
  • Do you have a secure product supply? A long-term relationship with key suppliers?
  • Can product delivery/production be outsourced?
  • Is it easy to access/local?
  • Does it have high margins per item (actual dollars, not percentage)? What is the likelihood of making money on every sale, factoring order size, shipping costs, etc.
  • Is the product line brandable?
  • Are people searching for what you are selling?
  • Do you believe in what you are selling?

Now that we’ve got a few guiding factors to help us decide our business model, it’s time to brainstorm and see what we come up with. Next week – we choose our product and begin competitive market research. Stay tuned!

2009 Homepreneur of the Year Finalists

2009-12-01-homepreneur_imagePresenting the finalists for 2009 Homepreneur of the Year! We were overwhelmed by the amount of amazing entries, and thank you all for your submissions. You have some truly incredible small business website success stories and made it hard to pick just eight finalists!

From the Pet Tag Prince to Grandma Cuddles, these finalists come in all shapes, sizes, and ages! Now it’s up to you. Check out their stories on the voting page and help us choose who should be the Homepreneur (home-based business owner) of the Year!