This idea came from that friend of mine, Ron. We were having a conversation walking back from the library, wherein I told Ron what I do online, and he told me about his business.

I told Ron I have several websites, I create them myself, and that’s when he said:

“I’d love to have my own website. Just think how much easier it would be for me to sell all my examination beds and chairs online, rather than phoning round dentists and doctors’ surgeries every time something new comes in.”

My question: “You don’t have a website? Or a separate business email address to contact your customers?” No he doesn’t, and it seems he’s not alone locally in thinking anyone who has their own website is little short of a genius! There are lots of local business desperate to get online.

He went on and on, about listing all his new chairs and examination tables on his own dream website, about having an email system set up to contact past clients and enquirers with new offers! Oh how much easier Ron’s life would be with his own website!

Actually, Ron now has his own domain name and website, courtesy of Yours Truly, as a sort of thank you for helping me avoid eBay ruin.

Now during the course of this long story, I learned that Ron is part of a local business self-help group, comprising shopkeepers and plumbers, mobile hairdressers and other small-scale entrepreneurs. And he swears just a few of those people have their own websites, but all agree an online presence is vital to their success!

So here’s the idea, given my friend was thrilled skinny when I registered a domain name for his business and uploaded a simple one page website featuring his business name, email address and telephone number, all in all taking less than thirty minutes!

Some of you will already guess what I’m going to suggest, given the latest buzz in Internet marketing has to do with helping local entrepreneurs take their ventures online.

Many local businesses haven’t taken the plunge and ‘gone online’ yet… which is where you can step in and help

The idea is to run a local service business, ranging from registering and hosting a domain name and simple website for your clients, through to promoting their sites via search engine optimisation and advertising campaigns.

This idea suits virtually anyone with just an ounce of knowledge about Internet marketing, as long as they remain just one step ahead of their client base.

Let me sidetrack a little, and tell you about a man who helped me upload my first website. I thought he was a total genius, a real expert, I paid him way more than his service was actually worth at the time! Then when he’d helped me all he could, I asked how he’d become such an expert! He told me he wasn’t an expert, and in fact he knew next to nothing about the Internet until I asked him to register a domain name and upload my first site. This from a man who teaches mathematics to pupils in their own homes, he also coaches football, and he is a dab hand at fixing motorbikes. But he wasn’t an expert when he began teaching those things – his trick was to ‘stay one step ahead’ of people he was teaching! And he’d stay ahead by acquainting himself with the subject of one lesson before growing his expertise for future lessons.

And that is why, as long as you stay within your capabilities, you too can make a good living from local business people, using skills and abilities you already possess.

Such as:

* Phone your local community centre, or school or adult training college. Book a room for a few hours each week, then put an ad. in the local paper, also in post office and shop windows. Invite local business owners to sign up for your 10/24/36 week night-class to learn how to grow their ventures on eBay. Then as long as your current expertise covers opening an eBay account and getting started on PayPal, all you do is teach the basics on night one, then work hard at growing your own knowledge and expertise for future sessions.

* Create a short letter , one side of A4 paper will do, push it through business letterboxes in your local area. Say you are an eBay seller and you’re looking for new products to promote at the site. This is where you set yourself up as a trading assistant, offering to promote other people’s products for a share of the takings. So in this case, people who don’t want to join your classes and become fully-fledged eBay sellers can leave all the selling to you! Just be sure to choose high price products and set your commission rate high, or you could end up working very hard for precious little reward.

* Send a press release to the business editor of your local newspaper. Focus on how important having a website is to every business owner. Talk about lower business overheads for online sellers compared to high street shop owners, say how the Internet is outpacing high street sales, tell how high street only sellers face going out of business by ignoring the Internet. Then most important of all, suggest editors tell their readers how you can provide a simple website, and solve all of those problems, for a really competitive price. Charge about £50 start up fee and £20 a month – about £240 annually – maintenance fee.

Or, go one better by offering to search engine optimise the site – EASY PEASY WHEN YOU KNOW HOW – as well as writing articles and blog postings to drive traffic to your clients’ websites. And suddenly we’re not talking one client paying £200 plus for a few minutes of your time and a few pounds in expenses each year. We could be talking hundreds of clients, paying £200 plus each every year for domain name and hosting, and others willing to hand over fifty pounds to several hundred pounds every month for you to write a few articles and blog postings, and place a few advertisements to drive traffic their way.