Growing your business and going on-line: six hard lessons so far -- part 1

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Focus. Accomplish. Grow. ®
Volume 2, Number 9
September 27, 2000

Focus. Accomplish. Grow.® is a newsletter delivered as a free service from PACER Associates, Inc. to clients and friends who need to consider the issues and challenges of finding, keeping and growing customers. If you enjoy reading Pacer Associates’ E-Letter please tell a friend or colleague. Anyone can sign up for a free subscription - simply click here.

In this Issue:

  1. Note From The Editor
  2. September’s Topic: Growing Your Business and Going On-Line: Six Hard Lessons So Far - Part Two
  3. Andy’s Anecdotes: "Useful And Funny Observations Heard Over The Years"
  4. Shameless Self-Promotion


Letter from the Editor

1. Note From The Editor Dear Friends:

Today, I am proud to introduce the 3.0 version of With the great investment of time, money and energy, why upgrade one’s site? Is it worth it, given the questionable on-line returns I write about below? My answer is yes. Because professional services businesses must:

  • Conveniently demonstrate value
  • Provoke a dialog with their marketplace
  • Generate trust in their services

Does the PACER site do this for you? If so, how or how not? I would enjoy your feedback at

Finally, my thanks go to Jonathan Durkee,, and TL Champion for their respective support in designing and copyrighting the new PACER site.

Best regards,


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2. September’s Topic: Growing Your Business and Going On-Line: Six Hard Lessons So Far - Part Two By Andy Birol

It is now three years since the Internet has really been "in the face" of most business owners and leaders. And as the Internet moves past its commercial infancy and into business "toddler" status, what can it do to help grow our businesses now? Here are the second set of three lessons my clients and I have learned. (Access part one in last month’s newsletter here)


Sell Your Differences Or Sell to Everyone


  • Provide information that makes your company invaluably unique. Take a look at They provide an easy way to buy stock photos. How can you combine your company’s products, services and expertise to really stand out? If you succeed, then others cannot copy you. This is critical because on the Internet your competitors can and will copy your site overnight.


  •  Run with the big dogs if you can. If your product is truly a commodity, and you have the lowest costs in the business, then exploit the Internet for all you can. Join every selling service, auction house and vertical market you can find. Sites like can help you expand your customer base. These sites will let you push prices down to your marginal costs and gain market share. If you can, squeeze your competitor’s margins until they quit and you may laugh all the way to the bank.


Sell It Now or Fuggedaboutit!


  • Set six-month goals for your firm’s on-line sales and costs. Define how your site will help your company grow now today. Will it increase your sales, leads, fulfillment, or image? Assume you will re-do your site every six months. This will focus your organization to make your web site pay off as soon as possible.


  • There is no long-term payback, only more investment to keep up. A website is like a child. Bringing it into the world is only a fraction of what it will cost to raise it into maturity. Plan for recurring maintenance, complete overhauls and one big mistake along the way.


If You Can’t Sell, Serve


  • Provide value If it is clear you cannot profitably sell your product or service on-line, then don’t try. Instead, make your web site a must-visit site for your prospects and buyers. Provide value, knowledge, service and other expertise and experience that will help your market place to be successful.


  • Link into a community If you cannot attract enough traffic to cost-justify your more than a small web presence, sell, trade or donate your company’s expertise to other Internet locations that can showcase your value. Register with all the communities and content providers you can. Write, chat, join and deliver all you can to as many people in your target market.


So Will The Internet Help My Business Grow?

For a traditional, non-dot com business, the answer is probably not much more in the short run. For most companies, the excitement of launching a web presence is being replaced with a new understanding. This is a realization that the Internet is good at leveraging a firm’s strengths and exposing its shortcomings. In fact, the Internet does this faster than any other marketing, sales or customer service effort.

So, addressing the core issues of how a company can grow is still critical. To review, a company must:

  • Realize its best and highest use.
  • Get more customers and prospects.
  • Deliver what it offers.
  • Profit and Grow

Where does your company stand? For many companies, the Internet has exposed the need and created a sense of urgency to focus on the core issues of growth. If you know how your company needs to grow you can exploit the Internet knowledge and capability will keep changing by the day. When you approach your challenge in this order, your will be more successful. Good luck.

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3. Andy’s Anecdotes: "Useful And Funny Observations Heard Over The Years"

  • Never buy anything from a company that doesn’t use what it sells.
  • Overheard: "If we only knew our customers better, they would probably buy more from us"!
  • Buyers resort to price when sellers stop showing them value

4. Shameless Self-Promotion:

Andy is scheduled to speak at (contact Andy to learn how to attend):

  • The Independent PR Practitioners Association, Cleveland, October 4th 11:30 AM Five Quick Ways to Grow Your Business
  • The Business Show, AM 1330, Cleveland, October 17th, 6:30 PM, Andy Birol interviewed on Growing Your Business

Andy’s articles currently appear in (click on hotlinks to read them now):

  • Crains Cleveland On- Line Magazine, Crains will be regularly publishing Andys articles starting with "Good Ideas Dont Need Angels" Click for Article; available Wednesday, October 4th.
  • SBN Magazine, September: "Mind Your Own Business" Click for Article and in September’s hard copy magazine version.
  • Idea-Bytes On-Line Magazine, On Line Magazine, "Andy Birol on Growing Your Business: Finding, Keeping, and Building Customers",

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at, or on the web at

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