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This used to mean, show me a prototype; something that runs, works, or I can touch. I can remember being shown plans of an innovative hovercraft many years ago, and sending the inventor away with, “show me a working model”

Today, this means “show me a business model that works”.

The key to having a business model that works is paying customers, who pay to buy or use your product or service. And these customers need to pay enough so you can make a profit. I’ve been called in to help companies with lots of customers who are losing money! So it’s important to discover up front what your customers are willing to pay for your product or service.

Also, there are business models today where it’s not obvious who the paying customers are, as different from those that actually use the product; think about those who pay for data, based on those that use the product for free!

I can hear you saying…. this is so obvious…… yet proofing your business model before launching your business (or even writing a business plan) is still the number one thing I see “not” being done when I am called into to help a small biz or early stage company.

Before we build that first hovercraft, let’s find out if anyone will even use it; and of those who are interested, how much will they pay to use it? Are we solving a problem, like ‘how do we get to the other side of the river’? Is there a need to cross the river in the first place, and would a hovercraft be good for that, especially in winter? Will this be repeatable….in other words will people want to cross the river often; are we dealing with regular commuters or seasonal tourists? Will we be the entity that owns the craft and runs the business (with multiple users who are the paying customers), or will we just build it and sell or lease the craft to someone who has a transportation business model? You see where this is going already….

The best resource I have found which clearly illustrates “searching for your business model”, is the free Udacity online course “How To Build A Startup” by Steve Blank.

If you only have limited time, I recommend Lesson 1.A. and 1.B. Disclosure: everyone I have suggested watch these lessons has taken the entire course! It’s that good, and it shows the difference between the old way we did things, and how we do them today; searching for the business model before we even create the business plan, and most assuredly before we open for business (put our money or yours on the line).

Investors want to know you have gone through the process of customer development, and created a working business model (admittedly one that might change to meet customers needs). But way before you call in an investor you should consider doing this for yourself, your own small business or startup, or any company you are helping to increase business and become profitable!

Even though the inventor might actually have come back with a working hovercraft as I asked years ago, that still would not have answered the question whether it solved a pain or need, or that customers would actually have paid good money to use it!

This post appeared first on The LinkedIn Publisher (


About Our GE Network Expert - CASUDI Caroline Di Diego

Caroline Di Diego is a social media whisperer inspiring brands and communities to find their social voice via new media. Casudi has 25+ years of experience helping grow companies from concept/chaos to fundable and profitable. She is the creator of the successful Entrepreneurs Questions EQlist.


I recently saw a post on the Which Test Won blog that caught my attention. The email announcing the test results had a subject line that read:

How Much Content Does Your Page Need to Convert

The content of the email said this:

Finding the perfect balance of content is hard; sometimes too much content is overwhelming and too little content leaves the prospect confused.

This week we have a radical clean vs. clutter test, where one variation stripped out all of the content except the form. Can you guess which version won?

When you click to the blog, you’re presented with two screenshots (as seen below): version A with copy and version B without.



The results from those who guessed which test won were equally split. However, the winner of this particular test was version B: without copy.

Before you run out and delete the copy from all your demo/contact/download pages, you need to understand why this test got the results it did.

According to the Which Test Won (WTW) blog, “The visitors mainly came from internal site pages which had information on the offered software.” That’s a major factor that could completely reverse the test results if this had been a landing page. It was because people did not land on this page when first arriving at the site that allowed them to gather the information they needed prior to asking for a demo. Likewise, because they didn’t need/want to read additional information at this point the added copy on the demo page, under these particular circumstances, wasn’t necessary. But that’s not an end-all/be-all conclusion.

In fact, WTW goes on to state that there was yet another page variation in the test. “The third option (click here to see it) also beat Version A, the control, by 48.57% but it wasn’t a clean test.” As you can see, this page had copy as well as some other elements.

What if we repurposed the winning page of this test as a landing page and sent traffic directly to it as opposed to the home page of this site? Do you think the test results would still ring true? I’d be willing to bet not and here’s why.

With no information to explain what the product is/does there would be no way for prospects to determine whether a demo would be worth their time.  You see, copy doesn’t only sell, it also educates and informs. Without some sort of copy (written, verbal via a video or audio, etc.) visitors have no way of finding out the vital decision-making information they need.

In fact, the folks at WTW agreed, “We’ve seen time and time again that ‘less is more’ on your key conversion pages. That said we thought this page was a little too lean and were a little surprised that the bare-boned version ended up winning. Specifically the page is too reliant on the visitor to understand the product by the time they land on this page. If this were a PPC campaign landing page, it would likely not have had have seen such a dramatic increase.”

They get a thumbs up from me on this test and their conclusions.

My point? Don’t blindly follow test results that others publish. Test every element of your site with your target customers. Even better, ask yourself why others got the results they did before making a decision about your own site.

Need additional help with online marketing? Join my Intentional Marketing Revolution and create a marketing plan for your business designed to increase revenue and accomplish other goals. It’s a FREE 3-part video series. Learn More

Karon Thackston

About Our GE Network Expert - Karon Thackston

Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words (, a full-service copywriting agency specializing in web and search engine copywriting. She has over 25 years combined experience in marketing, advertising, copywriting and SEO copywriting. Karon has a strong understanding of the processes involved with creating successful advertising strategies.


Spring is here!

Warmer weather, flowers everywhere and a fresh feeling in the air.

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or any other seasonal festival, the chances are you’ve been doing some cleaning and sorting, organizing and maybe disposing.

I love that it’s the perfect opportunity to think about what we really need; what we don’t have space for and what we can let go of.

It seems to me that this is so important when it comes to running a business.

It’s also what happens in a good coaching session.

I want to explore this on a few levels.  Will you join me?

So let’s take your physical space.

How do you feel when you go into your office and sit down to work?

Is the space comfortable and clutter free?

Do you feel stressed about the filing you need to do or the drawers filled with papers that you haven’t yet sorted?

Does your office become a storage place for toys, bags or junk belonging to other members of the family?  I can really relate to this one!

And let’s consider your mental and emotional space.

Are you living in stories of stress and overwhelm?

Do you have a scarcity mindset – are you worried about having enough income or the rising costs of your business and life?

Do you work too hard and support your clients, family and friends without considering your own needs?

Well, spring is here.

It’s time to clean up your life!

Here are 3 simple ideas – no excuses, do it today!

  1. Take a morning to sort out your physical space. Clean out the drawers, tidy your table and get rid of the items that should not be there. You’ve been avoiding this forever, but it’ll only take a few hours to sort out.
  2. Acknowledge that we are living in an abundant universe. We don’t have to create abundance, we simply have to recognize and open up to what is already there. Once you truly accept this, you’re life and business will change.
  3. Create a practice of daily gratitude, and I mean a practice, not just a thought. One way is to take a moment during your daily family meal to simple say thanks for something great that happened that day. Another is to keep a notebook beside your bed and write down 3 reasons your grateful when you wake in the morning and when you go to sleep at night.

Even if you take me up on one of these simple ideas, it will change your life. I’m not kidding; it will literally change your life!

What will you commit to today? What are you cleaning up in your life? Share it below!

Lisa Bloom

About Our GE Network Expert - Lisa Bloom

Lisa Bloom is a highly professional and accomplished Storyteller, Professional Certified Coach (ICF) and Training & Development Expert with more than 20 years experience working in public and private sectors, high-tech and financial services environments. Lisa helps entrepreneurs de-stress the marketing, build their business with confidence by finding their success story at


Gut Check: Your Videos Suck

Posted by Marcel Sim in Branding


I got a call this week from the owner of a fast-growing, 6-figure business.  They wanted some help with their branding.  The first thing I did was look at their YouTube videos, and I have to say I was horrified.

To put it kindly, the videos did not look like they came from a successful business.  They looked “schlocky.”  They looked amateurish and unprofessional.  They looked even worse than those cheesy, local public-access TV ads you see in the middle of the night.  It was really embarrassing.

I immediately told the owner of the business to yank those videos off YouTube and to pull them down off his website.  It wasn’t easy telling him that his videos sucked.  But, like it or not, customers are going to judge you by your videos and, if your videos are crappy, no one is going to want to do business with you.   No one will even take you seriously.

Your videos, like your website, are the online face of your company.  Your videos are your image and your reputation and, often, the first and only impression to your potential clients.  In fact, a bad video is worse than no video at all.

Please, please, please take a good, hard, objective look at your videos.  Are you putting your best foot forward?  Are your videos as professional as you want your business to appear?  Do they support or detract from your brand?  (Hint: Your videos are your brand!)  Are you proud to watch your video, or do you have a twinge of embarrassment? Be honest.  Are your videos doing you more harm than good?

There is a better way – and a way to make absolutely sure that your videos are building your brand and boosting your business – instead of damaging your reputation.

My small group mentoring program is designed to get your video marketing strategy on track and make your videos look like a million-dollar brand.   My mentoring doesn’t come cheap and it’s not for everyone, but then again, what is your online reputation worth?  Check it out here to see if it’s a fit for you:

If think your video might be sending the wrong message about you and your business, or if they are not as professional as they should be, then reach out to me.  Your reputation is at stake.


No one can ever say that having a home based business is boring! Between quieting barking dogs, refereeing your children’s fights, and answering the phone and the doorbell, it can sometimes be hard to get anything done — no matter how well you visualize, set goals, and plan your day.

And it can be equally easy to be too hard on ourselves, blaming ourselves for not being more organized, focused or motivated. But that just increases the pressure — it doesn’t solve anything! Sometimes it helps to just stop, put the “to-do” list away, and look instead at the big picture.

I find these three “mantras” help me get back in balance when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed or just plain tired:

1.    If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t moving fast enough. I don’t know if I’m typical, but I certainly know I’m not alone in wanting to always present a professional, polished image to the world. Whether it’s an important email message, a change to my website, or a new article, I want it to be perfect. It’s often hard to stop tweaking and improving, and just let go. And yet that’s exactly what will help me succeed faster.

Everyone makes mistakes — your clients and colleagues included — and they are likely to be much more forgiving of your mistakes than you will. Set a time limit, and when that time is up, stop tweaking and move on!

2.    It doesn’t *have* to be done today. Many of my deadlines are self-imposed — and most of the time, no one else cares! So if you don’t get your newsletter out today or even this week — trust me, your equally-busy subscribers may not even notice if it’s late.

A stressed mind doesn’t function as clearly as a relaxed one — taking off the pressure by letting a milestone slip a few days can result in a better end product. And it may be easier and take less time to complete, too.

3.    It will get done when it is supposed to get done. It’s amazing how when I finally get around to doing a task or project I’ve procrastinated about for a while, something else aligns that makes the work easier and sometimes gives a better result than if I’d done it earlier. Or an opportunity arises to get someone else to do it, or even just drop it altogether in favor of a different project that’s more exciting, fun and profitable.

I find this mantra to be especially helpful when I’ve delegated a task and it doesn’t get done on time (aka on my schedule). I make that schedule myself — and I have the power to change the schedule. A stressed VA doesn’t work any better than a stressed “you”. So relax, let her know it’s ok, and both of you will feel more energized as a result.

A caveat: if you have a client project due tomorrow, these mantras won’t be of much help – your client expects, and you should deliver, a high-quality, on-time product. But if you can apply them consistently from the beginning, you’ll find it easier to get “in the flow”, where the work gets done almost effortlessly and before you know it, you are done – early!

Terri Zwierzynski

About Our GE Network Expert - Terri Zwierzynski

Terri Zwierzynski is a self-employed business strategist and marketing consultant to solo entrepreneurs, and a grassroots promoter of the solo entrepreneur lifestyle. She is also the co-author of 136 Ways To Market Your Small or Solo Business. Terri runs, the resource website for the self-employed which attracts thousands of solo home business owners monthly from over 100 countries on six continents.

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About is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.