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4 Steps to Getting a Small Business Off the Ground

“He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.” – William James

Imagine that you invest $250 into creating a video… and it makes you a $20,000 profit within 30 days! That actually happened to me and my partners earlier this year.

And it wasn’t just a one-time thing. I’ve produced a number of videos – including an exercise program for men over 40, a back-stretching program, a ballroom dance instruction program, and several specialty sports videos – that have made a total of hundreds of thousands of dollars.You can make substantial profits quickly with this type of business. And it’s a fairly easy one to crack. Not only have I had a great deal of success with it, so have several people I know. You simply:

  • Select a subject that would appeal to a number of people.
  • Produce a good video with interesting and/or useful information.
  • Market the video to your target audience.

Obviously, there’s more to it, but those are the basics.You can create an instructional video – with your own video camera – on almost any subject. But keep in mind that you have to sell a lot of videos to make a mass marketing campaign to a wide audience profitable. And it’s tough to come up with a subject that would appeal to that many people. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to sell one that appeals to a niche market. A niche is a narrow corner of a larger market. For example, the exercise video I mentioned above was aimed at middle-aged and senior men, a niche market in the larger market of male consumers. When you’re going after a niche market, you can reach your potential customers with highly targeted, inexpensive marketing efforts. This gives you a much better chance to reap quick profits. But even before you make your video, you need to spend some time thinking about how you’re going to sell it.

Here’s what works for me:

1. Identify your niche market.You have to know exactly who you’re making your video for. For my instructional exercise video, I targeted men over 40 who have an interest in improving their health and fitness.

2. Identify several ways to reach your potential customers.Once you know the kind of people you’ll be marketing your video to, you’ll be able to make some educated guesses about how to reach them. For my exercise video, I decided to advertise in online and print health-oriented publications aimed at men over 40.Consider your online options first. Online advertising can be inexpensive, it’s highly targeted, and your results are quick. I recommend small ads in e-zines and pay-per-click (PPC) ads on a major search engine.To find e-zines with editorial content that would appeal to your target market, just do a few Web searches. In my case, I typed in keyword phrases that described my video (“exercise for senior males” and “exercises for men”), and came up with lots of possibilities.Ads in print media, such as magazines and newspapers, can work too. There are thousands of magazines with highly specialized readerships that can be very responsive. The downside to print (versus online) advertising is that it takes a lot longer to get your results. Sometimes months. Plus, anything other than classified advertising can be quite expensive.But many print magazines also have a Web presence. So if you find a magazine in a bookstore that would be a good fit for your ad, see if there’s an online version.

3. Set up a promotional website.To profit from online advertising, you need to create a website where prospects can learn more about your video… and buy it.There’s a limit to how much you can say in a small online ad. So, the idea is to link your e-zine ads and your PPC ads to a “landing page” on your site. Then, when interested people click on the link, you’ll have plenty of room to give them your full sales pitch – and turn them into paying customers.

4. Set up a system to capture and process your online orders. There are many online secure servers that cost very little to set up, and most of them work the same way. Your prospect clicks from your landing page to the secure server to place her order. Then you get an e-mail notification of the sale, and the money transfers into your bank account.Some people swear by PayPal, but I prefer to set up an actual merchant account. For most of my businesses, I use a company called But check around. A Google search will turn up a slew of options.As your business grows and you start selling thousands of videos, you might consider outsourcing the fulfillment of them. But to get started, you can handle most of it yourself.

You can find many vendors in any city who will make a small number of copies for you for a reasonable price. Then, when the orders come in, you package them up and drop them off at the post office.The best part of the business of producing and selling videos is that you can make lots of cash in a short period of time. Offer a video aimed at a narrow niche that is not being served very well, and you will quickly establish a customer base. Continue to produce videos that would appeal to these same people, and you’ll soon have a growing business with a built-in market.

[Ed. Note: Paul Lawrence is a produced screenwriter, direct-mail copywriter, and business author. He is also the creator of the Quick and Easy Microbusiness System, ETR’s program for starting a business for under $100.Learn more of Paul’s video-business secrets HERE.]

Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence is an entrepreneur who has made his living starting and running a series of profitable businesses. One day while cleaning his mother's pool for a few extra bucks, it dawned on Paul that he could perhaps start his own pool cleaning business. He carefully employed all the marketing techniques that he had learned in school and designed his first flyer. Immediately the business took off and within a week, Paul had his own little business. He quickly expanded, hired employees and then eventually sold it some relatives who made well over $250,000 in the next year before they eventually sold it for a six figure profit. After finishing college, Paul did a brief stint in a management program for a national rental company, but he quickly realized that he was much happier running his own show. Paul left the rental company and launched one of the most financially successful independent ballroom dance instruction companies in the state of Florida where he received quite a bit of media attention for his revolutionary business practices that included front page features in the Life Style section of the Sun Sentinel, features in the Miami Herald, Boca News, Center Stage Entertainment and many others. With that business running profitably, Paul started several other businesses either individually or as partnerships that included a million dollar video production company, a mortgage brokerage, a home maintenance business, several mail order companies, a business consulting service among others.With a love of movies, Paul began to work at breaking into Hollywood as a screenwriter where he's beaten the odds by becoming a produced writer. He is a credited writer for the film CRUEL WORLD, starring Jaime Presley and Eddie Furlong and has signed a development deal for a national television series with one of the world's largest producers of television and films among his half a dozen sales and options of movie scripts he wrote. Paul is the creator of the Quick & Easy Microbusiness program.