May 25

Business Metrics 1 (of 4) – Essential Figures Every Online Business Should Know

As Head of the Mergers and Acquisitions Team at Astutium much of my day is spent looking at accounts and internal management systems.

One thing that I see a lot, is how the majority of small-business owners in the tech space don’t know (and sometimes don’t know how to calculate) their “numbers” – the key metrics and figures that are essential to getting a “big picture” overview of an organisation.

Business Key Metrics -

This shouldn’t be surprising – many start their business with a great idea or new technology or a desire to change things, rather than with a detailed business plan and an MBA.

I’ll ignore Turnover, Profit, Income etc as they’re well understood (and generally available from your accounts apps) and focus on the figures that are important when preparing to value/sell/grow a company.

Knowing where you are is the 1st step in getting where you want to go πŸ™‚


Alice – Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat – That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice – I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat – Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
see this quote on youtube

Having the Key Metrics to hand removes the guess-work and (often wildly incorrect) assumptions about the state, growth and position of the business. Just asking a business owner what their ARPU, Gross margin, LTV or Churn rates are regularly gets me blank looks (I tried this on a small group at HostingCon last year and 7/10 didn’t know they could use their billing-system database to calculate an LTV !)

This short series of articles will help you get to the real numbers you need. Afterall there is no point spending £10,000 on adverts (investment) to get £100 clients (1% acquisition rate) if those users only spend a total of £50 (life time value) – unless you’re specifically looking to prop-up an advertising agency πŸ˜‰

Ask any business owner what they want, the answer is usually one of

  • more customers
  • more sales
  • more profit

or similar.

As high-level goals they’re all great, but a little too vague, and often inter-related – it always pays to be as specific as possible when setting goals/targets πŸ™‚

For example:
You can get more customers by having more Leads, higher Conversions and better Targeting
You can have more sales by increasing Repeat Business (and having more customers)
You can make more profit by increasing your Gross Margin and your ARPU (and having more sales)
You can take more time off by Automating/Systemising, Training good Staff, Delegating
etc

They can all build on each other to help grow your business and thus achieve your goals – a small change in Leads / Conversions / Retentions can have big impacts on your results.

If you’ve not yet read Brad Sugars excellent book Instant Cashflow I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Let’s start with some key definitions and next week we’ll get into what they are, how you measure them and why they’re so important to your success…

ARPU= Average Revenue Per User (per month)
This is how much (on average) each user of your product/service pays you per month

LTV= LifeTime Value (per client)
This is how much (on average) each user of your product/service pays during their lifetime of doing business with you


ARPM= Average Revenue Per Month
This is how much (on average) you have coming in (financially) per month

COA= Cost Of Acquisition
This is the amount (on average) it costs you to acquire a new customer

CHURN= Ratio of Clients Leaving
This is the %age of clients who leave / cancel / abandon your service each month. Either through your action (termination for non-payment), client action (requesting cancellation/refund) or non-action (simply not renewing)

Apr 24

HostingCon Global 2016 – Discounted Tickets Now Available

hostingcon-2016-brochure-coverEarly Bird (discounted price) Attendee Tickets Now On Sale for HostingCon Global 2016 (New Orleans).

HostingCon Global is the main annual industry conference (and trade show) for web hosting and vps / cloud hosting providers.


As usual Astutium will be in attendance – if you’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss the domain industry, iana transition, selling your business or growing your host then get in touch πŸ™‚

What?

HostingCon Global 2016

HostingCon Is the Only Industry Event That Is Exclusively Designed to Serve the Professional Interests of the Hosting and Cloud Community

Where?hostingcon-2016-new-orleans-conevntion-center

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Hall B, 900 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130

When?

Sunday 24/July/2016 to Wednesday 27/July/2016

(+ travel either side)


The best and brightest from the domain, hosting, virtual/dedicated server and cloud industry will be gathering to:
* learn about the latest ideas and technology affecting their businesses
* network with peers
* connect with existing and new suppliers
* discuss growth and acquisition plans
and much more


* Who Attends : http://global.hostingcon.com/hcg16/Public/Content.aspx?ID=1063422&sortMenu=103002
* Travel + Hotel : http://global.hostingcon.com/hcg16/Public/Content.aspx?ID=1063440&sortMenu=118000
* Agenda : http://global.hostingcon.com/hcg16/Public/Content.aspx?ID=1063436&sortMenu=106001
* Networking : http://global.hostingcon.com/hcg16/Public/Content.aspx?ID=1063427&sortMenu=109003
* Register : http://global.hostingcon.com/hcg16/Public/Content.aspx?ID=1063277&sortMenu=125000

Apr 14

Top 10 Locations of Attempted Domain Registration Fraud

Fraudulent Registrations (payment with stolen card details, attempted payment with hacked paypal accounts, theft due to chargeback etc) are major problems for all Domain Registrars

Many fraudsters use open proxies, hacked machines or internet cafes for their scams, which make identifying their actual location difficult (but not impossible). The most common locations initiating domain fraud for 2015:

Country %age
CN 12.5
VN 6.8
FR 11.6
EG 4.3
RU 10.6
TR 4.4
NL 6.2
TH 5.7
US 10
BF 5.4
UA 7.5
Other 15

Apr 08

Simple Explanation of the Snoopers Charter

The always-superb Cassetteboy puts the explanation of the #IPBILL to music …

If you’re not worried about the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snoopers’ Charter), you don’t know enough about it

Mar 30

Hosted Minecraft 1.9 Combat Update Servers

The latest version of Hosted Minecraft Server (1.9) is now available from Astutium at https://www.astutium.com/game-servers/minecraft-gaming-server.php

MC1.9 contains a lot of changes – the biggest being combat mechanics have been updated to make fighting more interesting and addition of new map-making options

minecraft 1.9 combat update

Complete list of the new and changed features:

  • Added shields
  • Attacking now has a cool-down delay, making it more important to time your attacks
  • You can now hold items in both hands (default quick key to swap items is F)
  • Swords have a special sweep attack
  • Axes have a special crushing blow attack
  • Added the elytra
  • New mob: Shulker
  • Expanded The End
  • Added Chorus plants
  • New Purpur blocks
  • New End Rod block
  • Added dragon head block
  • Ender Dragon can be resummoned
  • Added beetroot and beetroot soup (from MC:PE)
  • Added grass path block
  • Added igloos
  • Armor protection values have been lowered
  • Added tipped arrows
  • Added spectral arrows
  • Added Frost Walker enchantment and frosted ice block
  • Added a whole bunch of new sound effects
  • Added sound effect subtitles
  • Brewing Stand now requires Blaze Powder to activate
  • Added skeleton riders
  • We believe we’ve fixed MC-10 and a whole bunch of other issues
  • Removed Herobrine

Existing Hosted Minecraft Administrators can simply stop their current server, select 1.9 and restart all through the MultiCraft control panel.

Not got your 1.9 MCFTServer yet ? Signup to our newsletter for discounts and vouchers πŸ™‚

Mar 21

Nominet to Conduct Research with .uk Rights Holders

Nominet (new) LogoNominet, the Domain Registry for .uk .co.uk .org.uk .me.uk .ltd.uk .net.uk .plc.uk are about to start their Research with .uk rights holders

As outlined at the registrar meeting on 21 January 2016 (Astutium attended), Nominet is conducting market research into the take-up of the right of first refusal for .uk domains by rights holders.

Survey work is scheduled to take place between 29 March and 18 April and will be conducted by our MRS accredited research providers, Insight Engineers and Toluna. During this time, registrants who hold .uk rights (whether they have taken up their right or not) may receive an email inviting them to participate in a 10 minute web-based survey.

This research will deliver insights into the business about awareness of .uk and the right of first refusal, motivations and barriers to uptake of .uk, as well as information about domain use. In addition, this will provide some robust facts and figures that Nominet will share to support registrar sales and marketing efforts.

Due to the number of interviews required to deliver a reliable dataset, an incentive will be used to encourage participation. This incentive will be fully managed by our research provider, Insight Engineers, and includes an optional prize draw for up to Β£200 with a further option to donate the prize money to charity.

If you have any queries or concerns relating to this research then please be reassured that this is a genuine research project being undertaken on behalf of Nominet. Your participation is entirely optional but would be appreciated and you may contact Nominet directly with any concerns related to the project.


Nominet UK is a private limited company, registered in England and Wales.
Registration number 3203859.
Registered office: Minerva House, Edmund Halley Road, Oxford Science Park, Oxford, OX4 4DQ.

See also … Checking your Rights and Claiming your .UK Domain Name

Mar 16

CENTR Report on ICANN55 Meeting Published

centr-report-icann55-20160310_cover

The Council of European National Top-Level-Domain Registries (CENTR) has published their summary of last weeks ICANN-55 Meeting …

TL:DR; Highlights

  • Volunteer shortage / fatigue is a very real problem for the multi-stakeholder model
  • ccNSO charter to be revised and updated
  • GAC as usual had a lot to say, thinking their opinion is more important than everyone elses
  • ccNSO approves the Final proposal from the Accountability CCWG almost unanimously

    You can read their SWOT analysis here https://meetings.icann.org/en/marrakech55/schedule/tue-ccnso-members/presentation-ccwg-final-report-08mar16-en.pdf

etc

It’s a good summary of the proceedings from the meeting (despite some grammer/english issues confusing a few points) and well worth a detailed read for anyone interested in Domains, DNS, WHOIS, and ICANN/IANA

Mar 10

2015’s Most Popular (and Dumbest) Passwords

Despite numerous headlines throughout the year of hacks, exploits and data-breaches (many of which have led to millions in losses for the business concerned) end-users are still the weakest point in any security system – either through social engineering or simply for using incredibly simple passwords πŸ™

This is the list of the most commonly used passwords and access-codes from 2015 if any of yours are on this list CHANGE THEM NOW

SplashData 2015 Worst Passwords Infographic

Rank Password Change from 2014
1 123456 Unchanged
2 password Unchanged
3 12345678 Up 1
4 qwerty Up 1
5 12345 Down 2
6 123456789 Unchanged
7 football Up 3
8 1234 Down 1
9 1234567 Up 2
10 baseball Down 2
11 welcome New
12 1234567890 New
13 abc123 Up 1
14 111111 Up 1
15 1qaz2wsx New
16 dragon Down 7
17 master Up 2
18 monkey Down 6
19 letmein Down 6
20 login New
21 princess New
22 qwertyuiop New
23 solo New
24 passw0rd New
25 starwars New

source: SplashData
For more information on SplashData’s last five years of research into commonly used passwords
http://content.teamsid.com/worst-passwords-ebook


2015 Worst Password Infographic

Feb 23

UK Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Workshop

Astutium will be taking part in the @LINX workshops on the DIPB aka snoopers charter on Tuesday 23rd feb 2016
LINX Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) Workshop Banner
This workshop will explore how the Bill will affect “network operators”, and discuss our opportunities to influence the legislative process.

The IPB covers 4 main areas:

  • Interception
  • Data Retention
  • Access to Communications Data
  • Equipment Interference

with massive implications for every internet user for their security, freedom, rights and obligations.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has made significant criticisms of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, arguing that

the Government has missed the opportunity to provide the clarity and assurance which is badly needed

You can download a full copy of their report at
ISC Report on IPB

Similarly the Joint Committee on the Investigatory Powers Bill has made 86 recommendations for improvement, including:

  • The Bill should make clear the intention of the Government’s policy to seek access to protected communications and data when required by a warrant
  • That the goverment should NOT be requiring encryption keys to be compromised or backdoors installed on to systems
  • Demanding if bulk powers are to be included in the Bill, a fuller justification for each should also be published alongside the Bill
  • That the government must do more to conclusively prove the case for Internet Connection Records

and much more

What is far more scary beyond the content of the bill itself (and missed by many commentators) is that the primary purpose of this legislation is simply to make ‘legal’ the mass-surveillance of communications that the UK Government is already doing to us all.

Feb 22

Nominet dot UK Price Increase – Act Now to Save Money

Nominet, the Registry for .uk, .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk domains has announced effective 1st March 2106 that it will be increasing the cost of domains to all .UK domain registrars by 50% and changing the standard registration period to 1 year.

Other .uk domains (gov.uk, ac.uk etc) are not controlled by Nominet and not changing price or periods at this time


To lock in your pricing before the industry-wide price rises, we recommend that you renew/extend your domains by 29th February.


dot uk logo

dot co.uk logo

dot org.uk logo

dot me.uk logo

What is Changing ?

  • The registry-registrar wholesale price is increasing 50%

    This means that it is necessary for Astutium to increase the price we charge for all .uk, .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk domain name registrations and renewals inline with the increased costs to us.
  • Pricing has been standardised so that multi-year registrations are no longer at a discount

    This means Astutium will change the default registration and renewal period on .uk domains to 1 year (from the 2 years we use now), as there is no longer a (registry provided) multi-year discount – however Astutium will continue to provide our clients with discounted rates for multi-year registrations and renewals.
  • Nominet are changing their Terms and Conditions for the registration/use of the .UK family of domain extensions.

    The new terms and conditions are available at
    Nominet Terms and Conditions of Domain Name Registration.pdf
  • Following the Nominet pahse-out of the automaton and migration to an EPP based registry, Astutium will be adding functionality to the Client Portal to allow for .uk contact address / phone / email updates online
  • Nominet will be running promotions around .UK for Accredited Registrars (of which Astutium are one) – details will be posted to the blog, website and in the newsletter as they are announced/available
  • To make incoming .uk Domain Transfers simpler for clients all our Nominet TAGs have been consolidated into the single “ASTUTIUM” TAG rather than being specific to the type of service(s) you have

What is the New Price ?



Our new pricing will be 4.99 GBP (ex VAT) per year for .UK, .CO.UK, ORG.UK and .ME.UK with discounts for multi-year registrations/renewals

Astutium are committed to providing the best value domain registration, renewal and transfer pricing for all TLDs (extensions). At GBP 4.99+vat/year we continue to be the cheapest UK Accredited Domain Registrar – 40% cheaper than 123-Reg/Webfusion, GoDaddy, 1&1/Schlund, NamesCo and many others who have all announced increases to 6.99 per year

Why are Nominet increasing the prices ?

The current Nominet board has decided that a price increase is necessary due to increased spend on other projects combined with intense competition between the all the new domain extensions

Russell Haworth, Nominet CEO said:

We’re (Nominet) committed to running a first class service for .UK registrants, including our renowned customer service, and we’re doing more than ever before to ensure the .UK space is a safe and trusted home for all.
But costs have risen considerably since we last changed the price, and we need to compete in a promotion-driven industry.

Whilst the price increase is significant in %age terms, it is the first increase to .uk pricing since we became a Nominet member in 1999, and .co.uk/.org.uk/.me.uk remains one of the cheapest and easiest to register ccTLDs available today.

The Nominet board have refused to commit to any fixed-period for this pricing structure, so .uk registrants should be aware that it is highly likely we will see regular future price increases in line with GTLDs who increase prices on average every 2 years

What do Astutium Advise ?

Our advice is to avoid the price increase if you can by taking action immediately, before the new pricing takes effect on 1st March 2016…

  • Register any new .co.uk org.uk .me.uk or .uk domains you need now at

    Domain Name Registrations
  • Renew any existing .UK domains you already have with Astutium for between 2 and 9 years #1 today through the Client Portal at

    Domain Name Renewals
  • Claiming any .UK domain you are interested in and have rights to as a .co.uk registrant immediately using our dedicated “claim your .uk” page in the Client Portal at
    Claim Your dotUK Domain Name
  • Transfer any .uk domain names you have registered elsewhere to Astutium (for free #2) to take advantage of our cheaper renewal pricing than other registrars at
    Bulk Domain Transfers

Notes:
#1 the final expiry date after renewal must be less than 10 years away
#2 .uk domain transfers are free of any charges by Astutium, and are free to do at all reputable .uk registrars. There are some who have started asking you to pay to move your domain away which you will either need to pay to the losing registrar, or you can contact Nominet on 01865 33 22 11 who will update the TAG on all your domains for a single 10+VAT (GBP 12) fee

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