Don’t wanna get sick this monsoon? Get an immune boost.

It’s raining cats n dogs out there again, and it seems like the whole world is falling sick. If you want to not get the sniffles this monsoon, read on. Go to your local pharmacy and get yourself an immune boosting multi-vite. What you are looking for is something that contains:

Vitamin C – at least 200mg. you can go up to 1000mg a day, but make sure its spread evenly throughout the day, else you are just going to piss it all out.

Zinc – 15-25mg. Don’t get anything higher than that, because Zinc over 75mg a day can actually INHIBIT your immune functions… And that’s probably the last thing you want (Unless you are reading this to figure out how TO get sick so you can get on medical leave).

Just these two should give your immune system a nice boost to carry your through. If you think you need something that’s a bit more comprehensive, look for something that also has Vit E of 100-400mg, some selenium, carotenoids (not just beta-carotene), bioflavenoids. All these have data showing that they improve immune function.

If you have already started getting the sniffles, fret not, salvation is here! Vit C, Zinc and the rest have been known to decrease the duration of cold and flu symptoms. So go out and get your health insurance now!

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The 22 immutable laws of marketing : Take homes

Ever since I got my kindle I’ve found myself inhaling book after book with only the occasional break to breath. So it’s only sensible that I digest that information and present the main points that I gathered from the books for all you lazy asses who don’t want to go read them yourselves.

The 22 immutable laws of marketing is a great book, with the premise that in order for marketing strategies to work, they must adhere to certain rules (22 to be exact). A simple google search will give you a nice summary of all the rules, I’m just going to highlight the key ones that stuck with me. Here they are:

  • Be the first product in the category: In most cases (not always the case it’s true), the leaders of the category are the ones who got their first. For example, the first fast food franchise was McDonalds,  the first pharmacy chain to open in Singapore was Guardian. Guess who the market leader in both these cases are right now. Yup. The same applies almost across the board for all the industries you can think of.
  • If you can’t be the first in a category (because someone beat you to it) create a different (even if only slightly) category in which you can be the first. For example if you can’t be the first to start an online crowd sourced marketplace, you can be the first online marketplace for selling handmade goods. Since both these are currently taken (Ebay and Etsy respectively), I’m afraid you’ll have to do something different.
  • If the category you HAVE to be in already has a first, you should adopt an opposite position from that of the leader. This doesn’t mean you’re restricted to Jedi or Sith sort of scenario. Instead of going head to head with your market leader, some of your options are:
    •  take on a demographic that they do not want – High end vs mass market, physical book buyers vs ONLY ebook buyers.
    • or focus on one of their weaknesses – Fast food joints have a notorious reputation of being unhealthy, so Subway takes on the “healthy” fast food approach.
    • or change something they see as a strength and focus on people that do NOT want to belong to that – Coke was the established brand, going as the “real thing”, so Pepsi went after the younger market (Pepsi generation) who did not want to belong to the “mature following” of Coke.
  • Be willing to sacrifice on products, target market, features, so that you can be focused and do ONE thing really well for a defined target.
  • Be frank about your mistakes, it’s better that they hear about it from you than anyone else. It will usually count as a plus since you were smart enough to realize a mistake for what it is, was honest enough to admit your mistake and took steps to rectify it.
  • It’s all about perceptions. It’s not about the product, it’s about how your customer perceives your product. Does the customer perceive your product as the first on the market (first product of its type they heard about will do that), that its of high quality, that it is backed by a great team constantly working to improve it? Once an impression is formed, it’s insanely hard to change it. So if you were thinking of getting into the market with a shit product and slowly weaseling your way into the customers good books, forget about it.
  • The only type of marketing that works are the single, bold strokes that leave an impression (also leading back to the earlier point of first impressions).
  • You cannot predict the future, only guess at it. So always be willing and open to change. Don’t laugh at others who create category extensions that sound like they are going nowhere. Look at what happened with the personal computer, even the internet was supposed to be a fad! No never know what might catch on.
  • Unless you actually ask a prospect to buy, even THEY don’t know if they will buy or not. So do as much user testing as possible. Don’t just trust what they ask for or say will buy.
  • Everyone screws up, know it might (will) happen, accept it. Be prepared to learn from it. Don’t take it personally, and look at how you can get back up again.
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What’s an information product and why I like it so much

OK, so every time I talk to someone and say I’m interested in creating an information product, the usual reply is “what now?”. I thought I’d save both of us some trouble and clear the air with my next post and talk a bit about information products.

Wiki definition of an information product:

“any final product in the form of information that a person needs to have”

Yea that’s not the easiest to understand. Here is what I think an info product is:

“Anything product (book, video, audio, website) that aims to teach a skill (seo, photography, creating a spindle transmorgifier out of cardboard) or explains a topic is an information product”

An information product can be very specific (read niche) – like in the case of “Create a transmorgifier out of a cardboard box in 3 steps”. Or it can be very broad – “All you need to know about matter manipulation”.

There’s been a lot of hype around information products over the last few years, and I’ve joined the bandwagon.

There’s a number of reasons why I like information products, here are some that I can remember right now:

  1. Everyone is an expert at something – I don’t mean you are THE source, just that you know more about a certain topic than others. How much more, is variable, and completely dependent on you.
  2. You don’t need to handle physical inventory (provided you stick to downloadable content)
  3. It’s easy to tweak the product to market demands – This really appeals to my commitment phobic male mind.
  4. It allows for a very good mark-up
  5. All I need is a laptop
I’m not saying creating an info product is easy or that you can make a million bucks in 2 days. I know this is contrary to what half the websites are saying (the non porn half… the porn half hardly says anything at all.. ). Like any venture, it takes time, trial and error, lots of coffee and less hair on your head than when you began. You will get better as you go on though. You will start to know more about the topic than a lot more people, you will begin to understand what people really want, and will know more about how to get it to them than when you started off (albeit with less hair on your head). 
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Models, Information and procrastination: an update

These past two weeks have been pretty interesting, and getting you up to speed is long overdue. I’m sorry about that guys. I had the last post in my draft folder for the longest time, I just didn’t get around to publishing it. So now I put it up (and dated it to when it SHOULD have been posted so it’s easier to keep track of the timeline).

At the last update I had a bunch of niche ideas I was playing with, and wondering how I was going to come up with a concrete idea for a business from all that mess. So I went about making lists, putting them into tables, writing them down on paper, tatooing it on my forehead and whatever my brain could come up with to pass off as work (I told you I was a procrastinator of the highest level).

Surprisingly I did manage to get a bit of work done, and get a clearer idea of what I’m interested in. (Yea I needed 1 Onenote notebook, a million pieces of paper full of scribles and 2 weeks for that… go figure).

I’ve got 3 broad categories – lets call them models – that I realized I fancy and I wanted to explore them further.

  1. Online Store – get someone  (yes probably from China) to make a product for me and sell it direct from the website.
  2. Online marketplace – create a space bringing sellers and buyers of a certain product or service together.
  3. Information products –  video’s,  ebooks, etc.
    1. In the form of a digital library – retail.
    2. As an affiliate – promoting someone else’s product and making a commission off of the sale.
    3. As an author – digital content creator.
(On a side note, I found this really cool article on different types of online business models. Check it out if you are interested here).

Each of these 3 models has it’s pros and cons, and not all of them suit my needs at this time.

I really like the online marketplace idea, but it would take months to build up traction and that too after spending loads of time building a team and the site itself.

As for the online store, the finances needed to obtain inventory and the initial bit of advertising – don’t get me wrong, you need a surprisingly low start up capital to pull this off – are a bit beyond me at this moment.

This leaves me with information.

I looked into creating an ebook store, but the low profit margins, legal issues and contracts you need to wade through for reselling digital data is just disgusting. Not to mention the infrastructure required to ensure that your site is safe from hacking and minimize copyright infringement. Until digital content management and retailing becomes a bit easier, I’m going to leave this on the back burner. Also, Amazon.com, kobobooks.com, and Google Books seem to be doing a decent job of it already (Even if they don’t sell to Singapore… bastards.).

I’m interested in affiliate marketing and I think there is some good income potential in it for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. I want to explore it a little further down the road, but right now, I’m looking at creating my own information products. I learned from my experience with this blog that I really enjoy writing, and I like sharing what I know with people in the hopes that they find it useful. On top of that, sale of information products have been steadily growing over the years, and I believe I can create some good content that would be beneficial to people.

I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks on this project and see where it takes me. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll check out something else, maybe affiliate marketing. If it does, then I’ll can get into it full swing.

Thanks for reading guys. I really appreciate the support. I promise to update more frequently if you promise to keep reading. 🙂

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Needle in a haystack – Finding a good niche

If you read my previous post “Niche Hunting and Lessons Learned“, you will know I am now the proud owner of a haystack of potential niche ideas, most of which, let’s be frank, probably wouldn’t lead to the most healthy of businesses. As you know, for any business to be successful it must provide something that people want, and do it better than other people offering the same.

The next step in my search for financial freedom is to narrow down my loosely formed NICHE ideas into 2 or 3 well-defined PRODUCT ideas that target a large enough group to make selling to them profitable AND is not so choked up with competitors that it feels like my daily commute with people who believe deodorants should be used sparingly and only on special occasions.

This is how I propose to go about it

1) Shorten the list to those groups that I can specifically reach (Market to) relatively easily.

2) Conceptualize a product that serves the needs of this easy to reach niche.

This week I want to focus on just the first, refining and limiting my list to those that can be reached with relative ease.

There is no point coming up with a super awesome product that targets urban owners of ferrets if the only way you can think of to reach them is via TV or a mass market magazine. The cost of advertising alone will bankrupt your business, not to mention that most of the people who see your ad aren’t from your target group.

Let’s take it from there…

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Multitasking, 27 hour days and Starbucks

We live in a world where caffeine fueled 27 hour days are the norm. People are rewarded for sacrificing their health, family, social life so that they can spend more time at work worrying about their health, family and social life. My triple bypass frappuccino addicted friends in the fast lane, it’s time for an intervention. But this is a task for someone smarter than I;

We are the strivingest people who have ever lived. We are ambitious, time-starved, competitive, distracted. We move at full velocity, yet constantly fear we are not doing enough. Though we live longer than any humans before us, our lives feel shorter, restless, breathless…

Dear ones, EASE UP. Pump the brakes. Take a step back. Seriously. Take two steps back. Turn off all your electronics and do absolutely nothing for a spell. I know, I know – we all need to save the world. But trust me: The world will still need saving tomorrow. In the meantime, you’re going to have a stroke soon (or cause a stroke in somebody else) if you don’t calm the hell down.

So go take a walk. Or don’t. Consider actually exhaling. Find a body of water and float. Hit a tennis ball against a wall. Tell your colleagues that you’re off meditating (people take meditation seriously, so you’ll be absolved from guilt) and then actually, secretly, nap.

My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating ease.

– Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

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Getting stuck and getting over it

So I stalled. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later (self-fulfilling prophesy?). I made preparations on how to get over it fast when it happens and you might find it useful too.

The truth is, everyone stubs their toes sooner or later. However well you plan the project you want to undertake be it taking your clothes to the dry cleaners or starting a business , along the way there will be unexpected developments and moments of self-doubt like when your neighbor’s dog poops on your foot.  Since you know its coming, it’s best to have a  “holy shit I need to get over this fast” kit ready, get under the table and pray it will be quick and painless.

Here are some tried and tested options to include in your HSINTGOTF kit;

Get tomorrow, today –  Before you end for today, leave one easy thing to do tomorrow that you can start your day with. Even if it’s only 1 thing that will take 2 minutes to complete, this one thing will get you started. Make sure it’s easy. Saying you want to start your day with disproving the Pythagoras theorem is a great way to stay in bed.

Breath – Maybe what you need is a time out. Unplug yourself from the jungle and go for a walk, go away for a weekend or go clean your room. Just make sure that you don’t over do it and never get back to business. Set a time to get back to work, and stick to it.

Be Inspired – Have a list of affirmations, Videos from Ted.com, inspiring blog posts, or whatever makes you glad to feel alive and gets you revved up. Keep them close and refer to your motivators whenever you feel yourself struggling to take the next step.

Get social – Peer pressure is not just for the playground. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. Talk to your friends candidly about your struggles (friends love to listen), and actually listen to what they say (they love talking even more). The age of the lone ranger is over. I will miss you Chuck Norris’ fist.

Get scared – If you find yourself constantly getting stuck and backtracking, it’s time to get fear into the equation. Fear of loss is proven to be a great motivator. Even more than the chance to win, like with cash incentives.(I can hear the collective screams of a thousand Sales managers as they burst into flames). Convince a friend to have a bet with you on reaching your goal before a set deadline. It only needs to be a token amount, we are only after the psychological impact it gives. So be afraid, be very afraid.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have any other ideas that you think will work, let me know and I’ll add them here. Now it’s time for me to get back to work.

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Golden Rule to Greatly Improve Productivity

Golden rule to improve productivityIf there is one thing you would do this week to improve your productivity and multiply your chances of success at any given task, it is this;

Bite Sized Chunks

I know most of you would have heard of the concept before, but it’s surprising how few of us practice it. It could be because you never knew how to apply it, or didn’t think it was relevant to the tasks you have to carry out, or didn’t think it all that profound. Let me try and clarify things a bit.

When you take a complex task (say writing a book, doing a final year thesis, creating a business, applying for jobs or doing your dishes), the first think that comes to mind is how HUGE the task is. There is so much to do you don’t even know where to begin. A lot of people look at the task as a whole, get clinically depressed, and leave it till the very last moment. At which point they run around like a constipated cat that had its tail stepped on and end up doing a half assed job. Or in the saddest cases, never do it at all. We’ve all been there. I’d probably win the Nobel Prize for advancement in the Art of Procrastination.

This one rule really has changed things around for me though.

Here is how it works. You take said complex task and break it into tiny tiny chunks. Each of these chunks should ideally take 15 minutes to complete. At most, 30 minutes. This means that when you look at your next item to do on your agenda, its not a mammoth “Finish report on Spindlefing Transmorgifier in two weeks”, instead, it’s something more like, “find 5 possible companies that deal in Spindlefing Transmorgifier in the next 15 mins”. Your subsequent 15 minute tasks will add on to this by say, “Dropping one email to each company in turn”, “Reading a 15min section of an article on the Transmorgifier”, “Writing 10 lines of introduction for the report”.

Every time you finish a task, you get to tick it off your to do list. This constant stream of mini successes will build momentum and you will feel more confident with your abilities. It may seem like breaking a complex task into tiny bits is asking to miss deadlines, but you would be surprised at how many more 15 minute sessions you will do in a day, and how much more productive each will be as compared to one Goliath 2 – 4 hour brain meltdown session.

Since you have only given yourself 15 minutes to do the task, you will find yourself spending less time on facebook, playing fruit ninja or telling your friend how much work you have to do, and more time DOING the work.

Please for the sake of all your born or unborn children, do this one thing, you will thank me for it. Apply it to one task that’s been siting on your to-do list for a while. Just try it for a couple of days and let me know how it goes.

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Niche hunting follow up and lessons learned

Last week I set off to brainstorm potential niches. I had a crazy week at work but I still managed to do most of what I set out to do (all thanks to you guys, brownie points all around!).

I promised you an update by the end of the week, and here it is.

For starters I listed out all the activities, hobbies, likes, groups I belong to as extensively as possible. I may have missed a few, and some that I have listed I might only belong to at heart (Sush, my list my rules OK).

This broadly includes being a pharmacist, an expat in singapore, a bachelor, a fitness enthusiast, reader, smart phone user. (The full list is available here)

Next I listed out as many things as I could think of that I might buy/ do as a member of said group. This turned out to be a much more mind numbing and tedious task than I anticipated. After spending 2 days on it I was getting frustrated.

I realized then that I was breaking one of the key rules I set for myself

“Make sure each task is something that can be completed in 15 minutes, 30 minutes max”

my list was turning out to be more like 4 days worth of work. (Major momentum killer). So I broke it up into 6 -7 sub groups, each grouped loosely around  a theme. For example all things fitness related (home gym owner, occasional jogger, dieter) go as one sub group.

This made sure that every time I finished a subgroup, I could tick it off. I was able to do each in about 15-30 minutes, and this constant stream of mini successes were great motivators to keep me going.

And now, at the end of week one I have a plethora of potential niches that I can look at. These range from travel workout aids, ways to back up phone data, survival kits for the urban setting, to guides on the lost art of being a man (I told you it was an exhaustive list!). (The full list is available here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

 Job well done I think (another tick and a blog-hi-five!).

So now I’ve got to take out the trash and narrow them down to things that have a higher chance of business success. And on to the next milestone.

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Creating a business – First week


OK, so the plan for week one is NICHE!

There’s a mind numbingly large number of sources that tell you what they think is the best way to find a profitable niche, so I’m not going to go into details about that.
Instead here’s what I will be doing to find a profitable niche for ME over the coming week.
Now, there’s no point in me trying to create a product for expectant mums, I’ve never been one. I don’t understand their needs fully and will probably go about the shortest way possible to making a colossal fail of it.
So, firstly I want to stick to markets that I am familiar with or belong to.
Ill make an extensive list of every hobby, group or organization I’ve been a part of,
Then ill look into which of these have a good spending potential.
By that I don’t mean rich people, but people who like spending on that particular activity.
Like for example amature athletes and body builders buy supplements,  photography enthusiasts buy equipment, and so on.
Next, I’ll try to brainstorm for possible product ideas to the niches I’ve shortlisted.
This will be my to do list for this week, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Cheers! 

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