Tips for Planning Your Business Startup

Starting a business can be a very daunting adventure if a proper plan is not put in place. Most entrepreneurs start up their businesses without putting adequate plans in place to succeed. No wonder one out of every five businesses crumbles within 5 years! If one thing should be taken very seriously, it should be your business plan. This is your “blueprint for success.”

Every business begins from a thought. A thought or idea can only become reality when expected actions are taken. When an idea is conceived, the logical corollary is that such ideas need to be written out, in black and white and on paper; or else the idea will fade off when the enthusiasm that the thought initially brought subsides. Hence, having a written business plan is pertinent if your business is to stand the test of time.

Now, what is a Business Plan?

One definition, according to entrepreneur.com, is that a business plan is a “written description of the future of your business; a document that indicates what you intend to do and how you intend to do it.” If you notice a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have already started a written plan, or at least the first draft of a plan. The business plan itself consists of a narrative and several financial worksheets.

The very act of planning helps you to think things through in a systematic and thorough way. Study and research your market niche if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It may take some time now, but helps to avert costly and disastrous mistakes in future.

In this article, I want to provide a very brief look at the steps involved in planning a business:

1. Identify Your Passion: Knowing what you love doing, even without making money, is the stepping stone in starting any business. Most people enter into a business they know nothing about, and stop after only few months. Some get tired of their businesses simply because they are not happy with the activities involved in running the business anymore. According to Sabrina Parsons, (CEO of Palo Alto Software) “Know yourself, and work in a job that caters to your strengths. This knowledge will make you happier.”

The reason why many businesses fail in their first five years is because the entrepreneurs do not find fulfillment in running their business anymore. Hence, they tend to move on in search for happiness.

You must look within by evaluating yourself and identify what you are good with. If what you are good at gives you happiness, think of how you can monetize it and make it a business. You do this by sharing your passion with others. However, passion alone is not enough in starting a business. You need to plan, set goals and above all, know yourself.

2. Conduct Intense Market Research: As stated above, passion alone is not enough in determining the type of business endeavor you should get involved in. You need to be sure if there are people who are really interested in paying for what you have to offer. Apart from that, you need to identity the category of people who can afford the prices of your products or services, and in what quantity.

You also need to determine how to attract your prospective customers. How do you intend to reach your targeted customers? How do you intend to distribute your products to your targeted customers? How do you know the actual price that potential customers are willing to pay for your products? These and many other things are what you should know before investing your money in starting any business.

3. Write a Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes your business idea. Your business plan will give you a sense of direction towards achieving your business goals and objectives. It describes what you want to do, when to do it, where to do it, and how to do it. A written business plan can also be used as a guide running your successful business.

Writing down your plans helps you to anticipate the future of your business. Anticipating your business helps you to identify and possibly avoid any challenge that may bedevil your business in the future.

4. Register Your Business: After you have written down your business plan, you must register your business so that clients will take you serious. Apart from that, registering your business makes your business have a life of its own. It separates you from your business. Any serious minded entrepreneur must have his business registered.

The most common type of business is that of a Sole Proprietor. You run your business yourself and keep accurate books (for tax purposes). You deduct your expenses and pay taxes on the gains. This is the simplest type of business to open. It is also the most vulnerable to having your assets taken away by an angry customer who would file a law suit against you for whatever reason. This is one of many reasons that business owners opt for one of the other types of business set ups.

A Partnership is a type of business where two or more people enter into a business arrangement. Two friends, etc. decide to open a business. If you decide to enter into a partnership, you need a document that details how the business will be divided if the partnership is broken up. It may sound crude to plan this before opening the doors, but it will save a lot of heartache and expenses in the end. Besides, if you never dissolve the partnership – the document is never needed. This is one of those “it is better to have it if it’s needed rather than need it and not have it” moments.

Corporations: There are several types of ways to incorporate. I am not going to get involved with a detailed discussion here. My recommendation is if you are planning on incorporating your business – hire an attorney with expertise in this area. There as several types of corporations and your attorney can evaluate the facts surrounding your business and guide you to the most appropriate type of corporation for you to use.

5. Get The Necessary Capital: This is the most difficult aspect of starting a business. Getting the capital to finance a business is the major factor that discourages most entrepreneurs from moving ahead with their plans.

There is no doubt that most businesses start through self-financing. The reason for this is clear – Nobody believes in your dream until there is a physical manifestation. As a potential business person, you must learn to save aggressively in order to meet the financial requirements of operating your business while taking care of your family at the same time. You can also opt for loans from friends, family or corporate bodies (banks, saving and loans, etc.).

A general rule of business states that, in addition to your start-up costs you should also have at least six to twelve months’ worth of your family’s budget in the bank. In order to finance your company, you will need to match the company’s needs to the appropriate financing option. You should seek the assistance of a good accountant in this area. The accountant will be able to advise you what is best in your situation and also offer assistance in tax planning.

6. Taking Risks: Once the financial aspect of starting a business is settled, what risks you should take should be the next line of action. You should keep on testing different things to be able to ascertain what works well for you and your business plan. By accurately listing the acceptable risks you are willing to take before hand (in your business plan) and in what situations these risks would be taken, will give you valuable guidance when obstacles occur (and they will occur).

By having your plan of action already in place, it will be very easy for you to refer back to your well thought out plan and decide on the course of action to take concerning a pre-identified obstacle to your business success.

It is important to know from the beginning that you may fail in this business. You may not want to acknowledge this fact. I mean, who wants to “plan” on failing, right? But, by acknowledging this now will help to keep you going when you experience any setback in the future. What matters most in business is your level of discipline, persistence and belief.

Whenever, you experience any failure, go back to your business plan and pinpoint where you missed it so that you can implement the appropriate corrections. If the trouble you are experiencing was not identified in your original business plan, now is the time to add it to your plan.

Take the time to go through all of the steps in identifying and mitigating risks, just as you did when you wrote the original plan. By doing this, you accomplish two things:

1) You are methodically thinking through the problem and determining a solution, and

2) You are now adding this unforeseen problem to your plan! If it ever manifests again, you will be able to quickly determining what you did and if it was effective (saving time and stress later).

The steps above, if followed, will help you in building a top level business that will could be your opportunity to change the world! Ensure you do not go into a business without prior planning.

5 Tips On How To Find Customers For Your Business Online

Introduction

This might sound obvious but did you know that if you are marketing to everyone you market to no one? It’s possible it will work but chances are your margins will be affected by inefficient marketing. A bigger question to ask, how well do you know your customer? How much information can you provide about them at the drop of a hat?

I will use an example of a mobile DJ company I used to own although the gist of this model applies to most businesses if not all. If you are struggling to get people through to your offers consistently online or offline… read on.

Who Are They?

The answer to this question allows us to gain a general understanding of how our customer looks like, where they live etc. In my mobile DJ context where I did weddings, this would be couples between ages 25-35 who have been in a relationship for 3 years plus. They also live in Perth, Australia within a 50-kilometre radius of where my business was located. People in this age group who have been dating for that amount of time would generally be considering longterm commitment right? This also means I am willing to drive 100 kilometres and I have resources to do any gig within this radius.

What Do They Do?

This question allows us to answer some basic information about the day in the life of our ideal customer. Where they work, their income levels, and what they do for fun. This also provides information about what sort of people they are likely to be. Feels a little weird acting ‘big brother’ but I had to get past that mindset if I wanted to nail this modelling in my businesses. This thinking allows me to present my offers directly to somebody who actually needs what I have. Isn’t that powerful?

Where Do They Hang Out?

Now that we know what our customer does for a living, how much they make and what they like to do, we can probably start to make some very targeted assumptions about where they hang out. This could be either online or offline. So on the weekends if they like to eat out, what sort of restaurants do they go to? If they enjoy the occasional frothy drink, what sorts of pubs, nightclubs fit their class? As you can start to see here, I am basically visualising my customers’ life through my mind. When online which platforms do they hang out in? What information are they looking at?

Tom (a groom to be) could be spending time on LinkedIn looking at information regarding his profession as an IT consultant engineer. Why? He knows they might need to buy a house one they are married. In his mind, this means he needs a bigger income coming in. His worry though is, are there opportunities coming up in his line of work? Mary (bride to be) could be looking up event companies on Facebook and stores that sell wedding dresses.

Can you see why I need to answer this question? This is important because the idea is for me to get in front of them very close to where they spend a lot of time.

What Do They Want?

Each and every one of us including our customers is looking to move away from pain or towards pleasure situation of some sort. We also have a difficult time knowing what we need and what we want. Our customers are exactly the same. In our case we are dealing with a ‘want’. We need air. I am guessing if you ran out of air right now, it doesn’t matter what someone says to you, you are buying yes? ‘Wants’ we can do without BUT if we are in pain or looking for pleasure we might buy.

So what does Mary want?

Mary wants to look good on the big day. She also wants to have a ceremony that is the envy of her friends who will be at the wedding.What are the deciding factors in Mary’s mind for this to happen? A beautiful wedding dress, incredible makeup and, a great party. She wants her friends to talk and comment about it for months to come as they view photos on her Facebook page.

For the certainty of a great after party, a great DJ is required. Mary will need some proof that the DJ she gets is the right one. So my mission is to be in front of her eyes holding a great review in hand somewhere on a wedding DJs in Perth Facebook page. How do I know I need to be on Facebook? I know because Mary likes to hang out there. Chances are she tends to look for her new information here as well.The new information here is a good wedding DJ.

What Is Stopping Them From Getting It?

Tom and Mary might want a good DJ at their wedding but they might not know enough about selecting one, they might also be on a tight budget meaning they are planning the event themselves. Armed with this information, I can provide value towards eliminating those barriers. This could be providing valuable information about how to create a music playlist, how to pick a wedding venue on a budget, the process of hiring outside caterers etc. I can have the information sitting in a blog on my website or links to such content on my Facebook page. The latter would be ideal because I know if Mary finds me on the Perth DJs page, she will click through to my page. Is she going to find valuable content on my page to help her ease her ‘pain’? Of course, she will!

Final Thoughts

With these 5 questions answered, I think it’s a good assumption that I can get Tom and Mary very close to a buying decision. I also know exactly where to focus my marketing efforts every day so I can get the most value from my time and money invested.

Wishing you success.

There is no shortage of tactics to market your business online and finding the right customers. However, the Internet is very fluid. Things change every day. You need to have a solid marketing education and a marketing blueprint strategy for your business. If you are a new business owner who has never sold anything online, I can offer you the same exact training that got me out of the trenches and helped me save my business. This training is a step-by-step guide which I found very powerful.

10 Reasons Why You Should Start An Online Business

Whether you are attracted to an internet business because you hate your current job, want to improve your circumstances, or would like a more flexible lifestyle, the internet offers all these opportunities.

Why An Internet Business?

1- Flexibility

Many people come to find themselves with an internet business through necessity rather than deliberate creation. For me, I needed a flexible job which I could work around contract work. It didn’t come in often but when the phone rang, I needed to take the work. This presented all kinds of problems. Normal work didn’t pay as well and employers didn’t want me taking large chunks of time off when the other work came in!

I tried juggling several jobs over a number of years but nothing seemed to fit. At around the same time I was attempting to use e-bay to buy and sell for a bit of extra money. It wasn’t until later that I discovered affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, for those who don’t know is a kind of referral selling. You point links from your website to other people’s goods and services. The link is tracked so that when you make a sale you are rewarded for it with a commission.

Once you know how to do this you can set up links from your online content to other people’s products and services. You can also use paid advertising to find people all over the world to sell to. This was perfect for my work because I could take my laptop anywhere with me and as long as I had an internet connection I could work. It didn’t interfere with the work when it came up, I had no boss to answer to so it was the perfect solution.

2 – Automation

There’s also a number of other reasons why I chose an internet business – and why you should too! The flexibility of the business was my primary concern. I wanted to be able to choose my own hours so I could take work when it came without any complications. But the other reason I chose this particular model was the ability to use technology to ‘leverage’ my time and income.

Once I had a website and content up and running, it kept going and I was able to make sales and deliver products without being physically present. This is the ‘magic’ of an online business. The automation involved with an online business means that you can do the work once and let that work keep running in the background. You can make sales and deliver products over and over through the same piece of content or advert, which can run an virtual autopilot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

Each piece of content you create can send people to a landing page and sell a product. By creating many pieces of content and sharing them online you can build multiple sources of income which can all run continually, working as your own ‘automated sales team’.

3 – Ability To Scale

Along with this amazing automation is the ability to scale your business. Because there is no human intervention in the ‘sales loop’, multiple sales can happen instantaneously through the same platforms. Your content and advertising can be grown over time and scaled instantly (in the case of paid advertising). As your content gets more shares and more people flow through your website and content, your sales grow as a result. If you use paid advertising you can also scale a profitable campaign up easily by increasing your daily budget.

The automation of an online business makes it very easy to scale. In the case of a physical business this often means more staff, sales tools, larger office space and a whole lot more expense and hassle. With an online business everything is already in place. You simply need to send more customers through the automated sales systems with content and/or paid advertising methods.

4 – Low Startup Costs

When I started an online business I did it from my own pocket. I didn’t need a massive loan and I worked at a level which suited my budget. An internet business is very cost effective and you can start from scratch from pretty much any budget. If you have more to invest you can grow it faster with paid advertising. But, if you are on a budget like I was when I got started, you can get started easily and cheaply.

With a regular ‘bricks and mortar’ business there are many overheads to consider. Your costs include a business premises, staff, hardware and stock. Then there’s advertising and delivery costs. With an online business you just need a laptop and an internet connection – two things many people already have. Your main cost is getting the right education and learning the best strategy to build on.

5 – Simplicity

Technology has made it much easier than was previously possible to set up your own website and learn how to use simple online platforms to connect people to products and services. Advertising and content creation is now available for anyone to use. Websites can be set up with a few clicks and anyone with an email can learn to use the tools and strategies of online marketers.

Whereas previously website building was the domain of the tech savvy programmer, now anyone can use simple user friendly platforms and programs. An online business sounds like something for a technical person, but anyone can now learn the skills needed to build their own online business.

6 – Control

An internet business gives you control over your life. Of course it takes time to build up to a stage where it can replace your current income. But the flexibility of an internet business means you can work it around your existing employment until you can make this happen.
Once your income is beyond that of your employment, you are in a very good position to take charge of your life. You don’t have to do the daily commute, or put up with an uncomfortable working situation. If you don’t like your job you can quit. Don’t like your boss? Fire him/her!
One of the very best things about an internet based business is the control it gives you over your life. You can also build your work around your lifestyle, rather than the other way round. Most people are forced to put work first in everything they do. Family time, holidays and hobbies all tend to depend and evolve around work. An internet business allows you to prioritize the things in your life which mean the most. It can put you back in the driving seat of your life, both in terms of what you earn and how you spend your time.

7 – Work From Anywhere

Not only does an internet business offer great flexibility in terms of working hours but it also offers you the choice to work from anywhere globally. This appeals to many people who would otherwise be more trapped by conventional work in a localized workplace.
For me, it was the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours and not have a boss. But for many the ability to travel anywhere globally is the most important factor to owning their own online business.
Take your laptop anywhere with an internet connection and work while abroad and travelling.

8 – Learn Life Skills

The skills I have learned from building my own internet business also make me much more employable. I also worked for an internet based company with the skills I learned from my laptop while sitting at home!

Being able to reach people globally and target specific types of people is a great skill and very desirable in business too. I was also able to use the knowledge I learned online to build one of my other physical businesses much more quickly by using both my website building skills and paid advertising.

The internet is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to be able to improve themselves, learn new skills and build another source of income. Skills learned are yours for life, whether or not you continue down the path of building an online business.

9 – Independence

We might believe ourselves to be independent but many of us are very dependent on our work for income. As such, our employers tell us how much we can earn, how much holiday we can take and what we will be doing while at work. Financial independence is the ultimate freedom.

When we are financially independent we can take a holiday whenever we please and work in our own time and on our own agenda. An online business gives you the automation and independence to live life on your terms, without the agenda of an employer running your life.

10 – Sovereignty

Being an owner gives you sovereignty. The ability to call the shots in your business is what many entrepreneurs aspire to. As a business owner your actions determine whether you make a success of your business or not.

Having a successful online business gives you the kind of freedom which most people will never see in their lifetime. The ability to create your own life on your terms is the reward of having worked hard on your business and on yourself.