Tag Archives: online business

A Case Study on Retirement Entrepreneurship

In today’s post I am featuring someone who has accomplished just what I am trying to persuade retirees and soon to be retirees to achieve.  His name is Joe Thomas.  I don’t know Joe personally but I feel like I do.  Through the wonders of the internet, I was searching for a golf league management software solution to help me manage my own golf league.  To my surprise, there were at least 10 solutions I could choose from, right there on the first page of the Google results page.

Naturally, with my technical background, I proceeded to check out all of these solutions.  I created a spreadsheet with the features, membership costs, pros and cons etc.  Since I had some very specific requirements for my golf league i.e. two divisions, net scoring, handicaps, match play points, automated scheduling etc., I then contacted the top 5 software providers to see if I could try out their software.  Some had online demo capabilities which were helpful.  Some had expensive solutions for the number of golfers in my league.  In the end, I couldn’t really pull the trigger on any one solution, so I put my decision on hold.  Besides, it was in the middle of a cold winter and I had time to figure this out later.

Then, out of the blue, I get a follow up email from this guy, Joe Thomas.  He wanted to help me figure out how to use his golf league management software to meet my requirements with only one exception.  I figured why not give a try.  Well, after an exchange of 14 emails with Joe, I was convinced this was the perfect solution for my golf league.

I was so blown away with the incredible customer support I received, I asked Joe if I could feature him in this blog and thankfully he agreed to share his story.

Why is Joe Thomas so Unique, you Ask?

Well Joe Thomas is a retiree, just like me and you perhaps, who was looking to do something creative and challenging after his retirement.

Joe is 67 years old who spent 33 years in the outboard marine plant where they made Johnson and Evinrude outboard engines. When Joe retired in 2001, he wanted to do something entirely different than what he had done in his previous career. Being an avid golfer since the age of 35, it was natural to want to do something related to golf. He dreamed about creating a Golf League website. Although he knew very little at the time about what it would take or how to go about it, thankfully his son had chosen Internet technology as a career and his knowledge would help Joe get the golf league management software solution launched in 2005.  Joe has continued over the past 10 years to add new functionality to the point where the product is fully featured and very price competitive.

Learning New Skills

Joe’s son, Joe Junior, was much too busy raising a family and developing his own career to spend a lot of time with the business. But he agreed to help Joe learn coding and did all the intricate work needed to set up the website and its associated programs. Today, Joe Junior is an IT manager for a lighting company in Waukesha Wisconsin. There is no doubt that being in business together, with his son over the years, has created a close relationship with many common interests.

The challenge for Joe was to learn four major programming languages: HTML, PHP, CSS and JavaScript. Joe truly believed if you have the desire you can do whatever you want to. So he went to work learning these languages and yes, it was mentally challenging but he enjoyed every minute of it. It actually took Joe about 5 years of learning to get up to speed.

Today Joe is a fairly competent coder, who enjoys the work and interacting with customers to help them set up their golf leagues. Today Joe’s Software as a Service (SaaS) www.golfleague.us has 6930 registered members and is growing annually.

How amazing and inspiring is that?  Congratulations Joe and thanks for sharing your story.

Software as a Service

Note that Joe and his son developed a software solution as a service (SaaS) to customers.  This is very different than publishing a blog, offering a free lead magnet to obtain email addresses and then selling these customers digital products down the road.

Developing a robust and responsive online software solution as a service takes a lot of skill and experience.  Joe and Joe Jr. provided the right amount of collaboration to deliver this solution.  Not everyone will have that combination of talent.

However, if you have an idea that would require a software solution, this can be outsourced to qualified software developers.  The software solution could either be a standalone software product or a software as a service solution. The challenge is finding the right kind of skilled software developers to complete the work required.  Thankfully, there are websites (www.elance.com) that will match your requirements to developers who are offering their services.

The huge benefit of a SaaS vs. a standalone software product, is the whole idea of recurring revenue month after month, year after year, assuming you continue to provide a quality product with continuous improvements.

Call to Action

Keeping in mind that turning your passion into a business doesn’t automatically guarantee success.  However, with the appropriate market research with a strong focus on who your potential customers are, then an only then, should you commit to launching your business idea.

The www.golfleague.us membership site provides a fully featured golf league management solution to a niche market of golf league administrators.  Golf is a growing business and new golf leagues are always being created.  Golf league managementFlight Leader Board Example can be very tedious and time consuming.  Offering a software solution to reduce the overall effort is a fantastic idea.  Golf league administrators will gladly pay for the right kind of software solution.

Your challenge is to think of at least 10 business ideas.  Then do the appropriate market research.  Be sure to pick a business idea for a niche market where you will have a chance at success.  You don’t want to be devoured by the bigger guys in a non-niche market.  Get those creative juices flowing and commit yourself to deliver.

Joe’s advice to retirees or soon to be retirees who are contemplating a challenge – “Do something you enjoy, put your whole heart into it and it will be a worthwhile endeavor”.

How to Build an Audience with an Email List

It’s one thing to create and publish a blog post about a topic that you are familiar with but is it of any value to your intended audience?  It’s so important to deliver that value and to gain an audience of followers and maybe someday, some raving fans.  How does one go about doing just that?

Who are you?  How will Google find you?

First of all, you need people to find your blog.  For that you need to generate traffic to your blog site.  There are several way to generate traffic to your website by usAudienceWanteding keywords, backlinks, social media presence or even purchasing traffic through Facebook advertising. Checkout a blog post that my son Trevor published about Search Engine Optimization.  This beginner’s guide will help to at least get you’re your blog recognized by Google in its search algorithm for any potential organic traffic.  Then to make further inroads to building your audience you can view this blog post by son Trevor on Building an Audience.


Building your eMail List of Potential CustomersOnline Business Resources Checklist Lead Magnet

How does one go about building your very own email list of potential customers?  You need to give something to get something.  You need to provide a potential customer some added value over and above your informative blog postings.  After all, not everyone is willing to give you their email address just for asking.  You will notice that I generated my very first value offer (see sidebar) for someone to join my email list.

I did a lot of research into all kinds of technical and educational resources that one could need to help build an online business.  I then documented these resources with all of the corresponding links to the vendor websites.  I also included references to expert blog postings that can help a beginner get started.  The idea is simple, give something of value in exchange for an email address. This is what is called a lead magnet. The more email addresses you collect the more potential customers you could have down the road when you decide to market and sell your products.

How to Create a Lead Magnet?

Once again, there are free tools on the market to get you started building a lead magnet.  One tool I ended up using was the one from https://fatcatapps.com/optincat/.  You can click on the demo video to learn how to set up and integrate a customized version of your very own lead magnet plugin into the sidebar of your blog, very much like I was able to on this blog.

It’s important to note that creating a lead magnet on your blog to capture email addresses is one thing but you need to store them somewhere and to follow up with these individuals to thank them for providing their precious email address as well as delivering the free product you were offering them.

To accomplish this part you will need to integrate the lead magnet capture information with your email management software.  In my case, I am using MailChimp.  As it demonstrates in this demo video, you will need to copy and paste in the MailChimp API key so the OptinCat plugin can communicate with your MailChimp email list you will create as described in the next section.

How to Capture and Store the eMail Addresses?

The second portion of setting up a proper lead magnet involves capturing and storing those email addresses in a separate list with the MailChimp software.  MailChimp software is free for the first 2000 email addresses you collect.  So plenty of time to trial and error various lead magnet email sequences to confirm email addresses, thank and welcome your brand new customers onto your email list.

A demo of how the email sequence can be set up can be viewed in this video.

Call to Action

It’s important to note that I implemented the lead magnet on this blog without any outside help.  I simply followed the demo videos and installed it.  Trust me, I was amazed how easy the whole process was.  Granted there was some initial apprehension whether I could ever complete the task successfully but what’s the worst that can happen?

The key is to develop a solid and valuable lead magnet you can offer for free in exchange for an email address.  Those email addresses you collect are like gold.  They will serve you well if and when you develop your core product which you can offer at a reasonable price, to your precious list of loyal customers on your very own email list.

Start thinking about what kind of valuable information you could offer as a lead magnet.  It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, like creating a whole eBook.  You just need to offer something of value that would be of interest to your following.  Then perhaps down the road your core product could be an eBook, a video tutorial course or a series of helpful tips in your specific knowledgeable area of expertise.  In the words of golf professional and teacher, Michael Breed, “Let’s do this”.