Europe, this is your wakeup call.

Morning Folks!!
Let me put it bluntly, Europeans are not great risk takers. Ok, stop shouting at the screen. But regardless of the yelling, what I am saying really can’t be argued. It’s just a fact. Not all Europeans of course. But the masses. Even the masses of domainers.

So why do I say something like this? First I started saying this about 2 years back when the dollar was the weakest against the Euro. With such a discount you would have expected them to step up and get some bargains. Few did that. Very few.

Now with domain prices lower than at any time in the past 5 years or more and still a strong Euro, same result. I really can’t explain it. Yes, payouts are usually in dollars. But they don’t have to be. There are European programs and vendors as well. But little evidence they are changing from before.

Europe is still ripe when it comes to the net. And domains There is more opportunity here than in the USA where we have reached critical mass and then some. TRAFFIC Amsterdam will either be the break out point or it will prove what I say is true. There won’t be anything in the middle.

For years we have been asked to do a TRAFFIC in Europe. In a little over two weeks that will be a reality. TRAFFIC has done more shows in the last 14 months than any period ever. 3 continents. 3 corners of the world. 5 shows. So will Europe show up in mass? Is the European domain community really aggressive and looking to move to the next level? Like I said, risk taking is not high. Not sure why. Maybe just the renegade in us in the USA. Let me be clear, there are voids in the market here. I saw a number of businesses that I could open here and do very well. Some things are just not offered here. Some silly things. Silly things that could make someone a small fortune. Beats working for somebody else. One business idea is already in formation. Buying a product for $1 and selling it for $10 and having them lined up to get it. In a few months I will tell you about it. All I can say now is that I found a void and I found a market. The name of the game is to sell enough product fast enough so when the copycats come we are so far ahead that it really won't matter. Then just milk it until it becomes unprofitable. But 10x return is a GREAT place to start.

So when TRAFFIC in Amsterdam opens up in just 2 weeks what will be the story? Rick Latona has pulled out all the stops. Great speakers. New sponsors. An auction focused on cctld. All the things folks have clamored for. Or was it just clamor?

We are all about to find out. Hot air or real business? Oh stop yelling at the screen! If the shoe fits…… with it. I asked merchant after merchant about doing business on the web. I got a lot of empty stares. A lot of “I do not do that.” “My son handles that.” The web literacy rate by small business in the countries I visited is lower than I expected. So much to gain and so many not embracing it. That was the #1 thing that STUNNED me the most on my trip.

My job is to be aware. To notice differences. To question those differences. To try and understand those differences. Now this is not a personal reflection on the people. They were all great. I enjoyed talking to every single one. But to not notice the disconnect would have been impossible.

Many think IDN will be the answer. Maybe, maybe not. I see no evidence of that even with the predictions I have heard for year after year that next week, next month, in 3 months it will explode. Just like cctld's or dotcom not all have value. I see IDN as a limited market in limited countries. Now that does not mean some folks won't make millions with them. It does mean that if you don't know how to pick a great domain and don't know the difference between a great one and a worthless one that the extension or whatever does not matter. Geography counts! Buying power counts! Attidudes count! That does not mean failure. It means a crappy IDN, a crappy cctld has the same value as a crappy dotcom. Nah dah. A liability is a liability no matter the extension. Most domainers don't understand to this day what makes one domain have great value and another one worthless. A liability. Now this is not universal in Europe. Some countries are much more aggressive and progressive than others. Some countries may favor IDN or cctld. Buying power of that group is key. But the market is still a long ways from maturity. Germany is a leader. Other countries like the UK have found success. But many have not yet gotten there. They are literally years behind and that spells opportunity.

I wonder who owns more cctld’s? Europeans or Americans? Each country is different.You could
have every domain in the country of Somalia (yes I know this is not in
Europe) and not make a penny. You could have one domain somewhere else
and make a fortune. But I bet there are countries in which foreign folks own more domains than the folks that actually live there. I bet German domainers own the most. That is just a gut guess based on absolutely nothing. But the Germans come to all the USA shows in mass. Canada too. I can’t think of another country other than Australia with more representation. Seems like they too are risk takers. Risk takers. Folks, THAT is what it is all about. Taking a risk. Risk losing. Risk winning. Risk failure. Risk success. Risk what you believe in. But risk must be attached with reality.

So stop yelling at me and the screen. It is just a provocative post to provoke discussing. Discussion produces ideas. Produces solutions. Produces opportunity. Like they say, nothing personal, just business.

I am not for or against any extension. Any cctld. Any IDN. But I follow the MONEY and the MONEY decides who is right and when they are right. Success decides. Society decides. We don’t have the power to decide for them as much as we would like to. The only thing we decide is which action to take or not take. I am not asking for you to agree with me. Most won't. 99% won't. It is a position in life I deal with on a daily basis. My thinking is almost always against the grain. I simply just state a view from where I sit and what I see. I share that view and it would be much easier to hit the delete key and not deal with the fallout. So call me stupid for posting what I see. But that won't make you a single penny or give you a single success.

Have a GREAT Day!
Rick Schwartz.

Business sucks for everyone except Hogan Shoes and Apple

Morning Folks!!

No question that business sucks everywhere. I talked to hundreds of merchants in the last 2 weeks in Europe and they all said it was not good. Yesterday at the Vatican there were people everywhere, but only a fraction of the usual crowd. The store owners were doing little business.

Then we went to look for some shoes. I saw a brand on the way here and I liked the look. So when I passed the Hogan Shoe Store I was excited. But the 6 Foot 5 inch door man would not let me in. I had to get in line behind 10 others. I had to wait 10 minutes to get in. The place was packed. The place was doing real business. Everyone was buying and everyone was walking out with big bags of shoes. It was not prime time either. It was 7:30 on Saturday night. Wonder what it was like at 3PM?? They closed the store and it was still wall to wall. Excitement creates sales. This place was exciting. The energy level was off the chart. They had sizzle AND the steak. A rare combo.

Recession? Depression? For many yes, but for Hogan, selling $300-$500 sneakers and walking shoes, business could not be much better. Why is this important? Because it proves that when you have products consumers want, no matter the times, they sell. Period.

I wrote before about the recession of the late 1970’s. It was much worse than now. Opportunities were much less. It was a different era. But General Motors came out with a new spiffy Camaro and Firebird and THAT was what ended the recession. People flocked to the dealers and bought those suckers for years. People buy what they want no matter what. So stop teasing us with 'Concept cars' and start making DREAMS instead of metal with 4 wheels. Morons are in charge and THAT is the reason we are here.

Look at Apple. If they announce a new iPhone is coming out, the line will be hours long. Recession? What recession? Maybe a recession in exciting new things to buy. Maybe a recession in other areas. But the best way to get out of a recession is exciting new products that people want to buy. That is the secret. They can have all the stimulus they want, but nothing trumps things that people want.

So there is a lesson here. Is Twitter having a recession? Facebook? Apple? Hogan? There numbers may have been better if times were good, but they are all doing one hell of a job.

Btw, notice many signs missing? Like the ones that won’t allow you to bring a drink in the store? Amazing how a good recession can make silly rules go away. Right now anything goes because many are getting to the desperation stage. I was waiting for somebody to throw me out or warn me not to do this or that. Never happened. It’s a buyers market and if you are a buyer it sure is a lot of fun.

The point of each of these posts is to show the dire situation we are in on one hand and finding the silver lining on the other. If you are reading this, I am telling you that times have NEVER BEEN BETTER to do business. To make business. To share ideas and take risk. NEVER better. But for those that are trapped in a bunker mentality, they will surely pay a price IF they survive. It’s just a tale of two minds. Two outlooks. Two approaches. This is a time to steam roll the competition. To put folks out of business. To buy their business. This is the time. Folks it does not get better than this. Talent is out of work and available for the first time in some 20 years. That alone makes for a great opportunity to start and build companies. This is a great time to approach companies that last year would have laughed in your face and not given you the time of day. This is the time like no other. It may even get better. A bad summer is a GREAT thing. Many merchants are holding on for the summer season, if that does not materialize, it is over for many of them. The rest are waiting for the Fall and Christmas seasons. Again, if it does not materialize, it is going to be a carnage the likes of which none of us have ever seen.

Many can hold on through 2009, but if 2010 comes and we are still in this mess, it is over for them as well. But Hogan, Apple and companies that produce what people want, will survive, thrive and probably expand by buying weaker companies that they can transform.

Have a GREAT Day!
Rick Schwartz