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What is really involved in running
a Scottish Online home business ?

I wrote this web page in response to numerous requests for information about running a Scottish Online Travel Business. Contrary to popular belief nothing is as simple as buying a magic e-book or joining the latest online network marketing craze, to suddenly owning a wee Scottish online business such as Tour Scotland. It just doesn't happen that way.

In a nutshell, it takes a lot of time, a little money, tons of effort, dedication and a lot of skill and planning. If you are looking for a quick fix, then I am afraid that I simply can't help you. Oh, I forgot that the most important skill first of all is juggling.

That's right, juggling. You need to prepare yourself for the long haul. My first online tour business, took nearly 6 months before it even covered startup costs. If indeed, something like 3 out of every 4 small business's fail, it is simply because they have very large startup overheads, with little or no immediate income. You don't need an accounting degree to work out if your expenses are larger than your net income, the business is not in good shape. Hence, so many people end up closing their small online business and going back to their "day job." I was determined that this would NOT happen to me. So, at first, like me, you will probably have to juggle your day job, with developing your Scottish Online Business in the evenings and weekends. And if you start a tour business you will still have to juggle touring throughout the day with developing your web site and answering e-mails in the mornings and evenings.

For me, there was lots to learn, and learn as fast as possible. Basic accounting, advertising, marketing, business practices, web page design, web page optimization, web page promotion, email marketing, web page statistics. The list was endless. Oh, and customer relations. So many folks focus too much on meta tags, keywords etc, etc, and not paying much attention to the customers, and the people actually looking at your web pages.

I dabbled for years though in optimizing my web pages, using submission software, swapping web page links. Nothing has worked better than continuing to add web pages and detailed itineraries and photographs after each tour of Scotland. I try to update or add content to my web sites every day. I spend at least 2 hours every day improving the content, changing the content, looking at ways to streamline the HTML code, checking what the competition is doing, looking for the latest innovations in the travel industry. This constant tinkering with my web pages seems to interest search engine spiders like Google to return more often. I'd see google crawlers in my site stats maybe 1-2 times a month, its now nearly 100 times a month. So changes to my web pages are quickly indexed.

It is also important that you sign up to Affiliate programs. These are also known as associate, reseller, or referral programs such as those offered by Amazon. These are revenue sharing programs between companies (the merchant) and individuals (the affiliate). You can then offer products and/or services of other reliable and well known companies. This allows you to add valuable and appropriate content onto to your web site, and get paid a small percentage based on the value of each sale.

In order to convince a real person to travel with your Scottish tour business, they must be assured that you are, in fact, also a real person. You need to speak with them. You need to answer their emails fully, honestly, promptly and also follow up on your emails. If a new customer on Monday asks you to confirm a price, availability and total cost. Email the information ASAP, address the customer by name, and sign the email with your name. If you don't hear back from the customer, follow-up with another e-mail. Who knows, if you don't follow up with the potential client, they could already have their wallet open, credit card out, and ordering from your biggest competitor. Best you get back to them before somebody else does. And it will happen! I started this policy after the exact same thing happened to me. I learned quickly and made sure that I will never lose a sale to a competitor again by not following up with EVERY potential customer.

Speed is also important. You need to respond to emails ASAP. If you consider that most people login to the internet, do a bit of web surfing, send some emails and then logoff. Their home computer is switched off, and may not be turned on again sometimes for days. So if you take a day to respond to emails, there is every possibility that your potential client may not actually receive your response for some time, maybe a week. The best way to grab this potential client's attention is to response to their email at once. They will receive your reply during their same internet session. It also sets their expectation on your high service levels and speed of responsiveness. Answering their first question, which must be "how good is this person anyway" and "do I trust them with my money?"

Basically, you need to build a strong loyalty with your customers. You can do this by responding to them fast, giving them accurate information. You need to spell out exactly why they should buy your Scottish Tour or product and chose your company, over the 1,000 other similar firms. Most importantly of all, in the long run, is the ability to be able to provide references from past customers. To start a successful Scottish Online Business, you need to prepare for an initial dry spell. Remember, nothing just happens over night.

Finally, you need to pick a niche market. You need to make yourself known as an expert in this field, you need to get your name out there and you need to convince potential customers to become real customers. This all involves the W-word; WORK.

Sandy Stevenson

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