Category Archives: Getting Started

How to Create the Perfect Business Plan

Today’s Throwback Thursday post returns from April, 2016 and it’s been thoroughly revised.  It’s not too late to put a business plan together for 2018!

 

The old saying is true, aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time.  But, you’ll also come up with nothing.  Planning for success may sound harder, but it’s really not.  A business plan is also not as hard as it sounds, even if you don’t have a business background.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

It will help you….
  • clarify your thoughts about the essential elements of a successful business
  • better communicate your vision to employees and others
  • secure financing from lenders and investors
  • identify strengths and weakness of your business
  • identify opportunities for your business and threats to your business
  • develop realistic financial forecasts.

Entrepreneur.com says, “A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you’ve written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.”

They even give you a step-by-step approach that can lead you to creating a sound business plan that will benefit you and your business (the link to the article is below).  How do you create a business plan?  The first step is determining who you are writing your business plan for?  Is it a guide for yourself?  Is it investors or lenders?  Is it for suppliers or new hires?  Once you are clear on your audience, you prepared to start your business plan work.

How to Create Your Business Plan

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends the following elements for a business plan:

  • Executive summary – a snapshot of your business.
  • Company description – describes what you do.
  • Market analysis – research on your industry, market, and competitors.Organization and management – your business and management structure.
  • Service or product – the products or services you’re offering.
  • Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy.
  • Funding request – how much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years.
  • Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets.
  • Appendix- an optional section that includes résumés and permits.

According to Peter Smyth of BusinessStudent.com, these are the seven essential elements of a business plan:

  1. Introduction
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Information About Your Business
  4. Industry Analysis
  5. Marketing and Sales
  6. Operational Plan
  7. Financials

You can see some overlap between these two ways to construct a business plan.  Let’s walk through each of these elements.

Introduction – In your introduction, give a short overview of your business with the goals that you intend to achieve.  This is the penthouse view of your business and your chance to give a concise summary of the highlights of the entire business plan.  The other elements of your business plan give the ground level view.  According to morebusiness.com, your introduction should answer these questions:

“Why this business?”
“Why now?”
“Why should I run it?”
“Who’s going to buy?”
“What’s the buying and selling process look like?”
“How will my business be different than the competitor’s?”

Executive Summary – In the executive summary, you give a concise introduction to the other parts of your business plan.  This is the penthouse view of the entire plan; the sections that follow are the ground level view, room by room.  Since it is a summary statement of the other elements, do this last.

Investopedia recommends including the following information in your executive summary:

  • your business’s name and location
  • a one-sentence summary of your business’s value proposition: what separates you from the competition?
  • an overview of the problem that your business will solve
  • a brief explanation of how your product or service solves that problem
  • an honest acknowledgment of existing competitors and a short description of your business’s competitive advantages
  • a description of your ideal customer
  • proof that there is a market for your product or service
  • a summary of the management team you’ve assembled and how their experience will drive your company’s success
  • a brief description of the development stage your business is currently in
    summary financial data on sales, gross margin and profits for the next three years that are realistic, accurate and compelling
  • how much money you’re requesting and, for investors, what percentage of ownership you’re offering in exchange for their backing
  • major goals your business has achieved so far – and seeks to achieve in the near future

Obviously, if you’re a solopreneur who isn’t seeking investors or financing, some of the above is not necessary for your business plan.  Plus, some business plans include some of the information above in the next section of the plan.

Information About Your Business – In your business description, start with some basic information about your business that you haven’t already given in your executive summary.

Describe the kind of business you are doing, whether you’re an internet marketer, affiliate marketer, a retailer, wholesaler, or service business. You’ll want to include your business structure, explaining that your business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

Give a brief history of your business, the mission statement, and a short description of your industry including current business outlook and future possibilities.  Offer pertinent information about your products and services, and any competitive edge that you bring to the marketplace.

 Industry Analysis – This is where you describe your competitive environment.  If you are seeking investors or other financing, those you are soliciting will want to know that you have a good understanding of your industry and your place in it.

What are the major characteristics of your industry and who are your major competitors?  How will you compete with them?  What is your competitive advantage?  Is your business cyclical or seasonal?  How do market conditions affect your business?  Are there trends or opportunities that you intend to exploit?  What will it take for you to be profitable?  What are the potential risks for your business?

Marketing and Sales – how will your promote your business and create sales?  First, describe your target market – how are you trying to reach?  What are the demographics and psychographics for your target market?  This section comes down to the 5 P’s of marketing.

Product – what product or service do you intend to sell?  How do your products and services differ from those offered by your competitor’s?  What benefits do your products and services offer to your customers?

Price – what are your pricing strategies, and how will they enable you to create sales from your target audience?  How will your pricing provide an attractive profit margin?

Place – where will you be selling your products and services?  From your website?  From an affiliate marketing site?  From a major retailer like eBay or Amazon?  Locally?

Promotion –  how will you promote your products?  Through paid advertising?  Social media? Banner ads?  Direct mail?  What will it cost to promote your products?

People – Will you have salespeople?  How will you handle customer service?  Is your business fully automated?  Who handles the automation and any customer engagement beyond the automated responses?

Operational Plan – in this section, you describe the physical elements of your business – where it is located, the facilities, and the equipment.  This can include inventory requirements, suppliers information, a description of your manufacturing process (if this is a part of your business).  Depending on the complexity of your business, this can be a very detailed overview.

Here is a great resource for completing this section of your business plan:  https://www.thebalance.com/operating-section-of-business-plan-2947031

Financials – This is the place for your business’ financial statements.  The essential statements of this section of your business plan include a Profit and Loss statement, a Balance Sheet, a Cash Flow Statement, a Sales Forecast, and a Personnel Plan.  Your Financials section should include a realistic statement of three-year and five-year projections.

 

The following link leads you to a page with several links to articles that cover different aspects of a business plan:

==> http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247574

The following link leads to an article titled “How To Write A Business Plan.”

==> http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247575

The U.S. government’s Small Business Administration also offers help in creating a business plan.  The SBA says, “A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.”

I agree, and the help that they offer can be found here:

==> http://www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan

As I was told long ago, plan your work and work your plan.  A good business plan can be the roadmap to success that you and your business need right now.

I welcome your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.

Think You’re Cut Out For Doing Internet Marketing? Take This Quiz

There are so many aspects to internet marketing, but if I whittle it down it comes to these six:

Skills
Knowledge
Experience
Passion
Marketing Expertise
Profitability

These six aspects will determine your online marketing success.  These six will determine whether your online marketing experience is successful or a failure.  You may not have all six right now, but you can grow into them as you grow your business, and together they are the power you need to create a business that you love.

Take the quiz to see if you can become a profitable internet marketer.  Without these six capabilities, your I.M. experience could be a living hell.

doors

The Internet Marketer Quiz

1. Skills – what can you do that you can share with others, that is a potentially profitable niche for you?   Your skill can be profitable if others are interested and you can get the word out that you’ve got what they want.  The three broad categories that are most successful are health, wealth and relationships.

2. Knowledge – what do you know that others would pay you to know too?  If you have not only the skills but the ability to communicate what you can do so that others can learn to do it too, you’re on your way.  What do you know that others would pay you to teach them?

3. Experience – What experience do you have that you can market to others for their success  It’s great to have skills and knowledge, but without the level of experience that can help others overcome obstacles, it’s going to be hard for those who are interested in your product (whether it’s coaching, information marketing, or whatever) to believe that you are the person they should be handing their money over to.

4. If you’ve got the first three, the question then becomes are you passionate about what you want to market? If so, that will come out, it will be contagious, and you will find buyers.  Your passion will ignite passion in others, or it will compel others to come to you to learn what you know.

5. Marketing expertise.  Do you know how to market your skills, knowledge and experience?  Knowing how to sell your products is a barrier to profitability for the majority of wannabe internet marketers.  This is why I’ve created my products – to give you an easy path to becoming a great marketer.  Click here to see what you need to know to profitably promote your products and services.

6. Profitability.  Is there a sufficient number of interested persons in what you have to offer?   If the product you have to sell is sufficiently interesting to enough potential buyers at a price that they deem acceptable (or a bargain), you will profit.  Have you figured out how to price your products so that others will buy them?  If you are selling as an affiliate marketer, the key is to find products that are selling and introduce them to your audience.

That’s it. The rest is knowing how to sell and you can learn that or you can get someone else to set you up on this. If you’ve got the six things above, you’re ready to go to market!  If not, continue to build your skills, knowledge
experience, passion, and marketing expertise, and you will find business
profitability.

I invite your comments and questions, and your likes and shares!

4 Quick & Easy Steps to a Better Conversion Rate

Today’s Throwback Thursday post returns from July 2014; it’s been revised and updated, and is the most popular post for the past two weeks.

How’s your conversion rate?  Business is all about conversions. Without sales, internet marketing is an expensive hobby. The business equation is simple: offer + traffic = sales. But what happens when the equation doesn’t work?

Driving traffic to your website or mailing to a massive email list is pointless if no one buys. So, how can we improve your conversion rate?Here are four quick and easy steps to improve it.

Conversion Rate Optimization

First, have you targeted your audience? If the traffic you have sent to your website or collected as subscribers is not interested in what you are selling, guess what? Your efforts are wasted time, energy and money.

Second, does your market generate demand? If you have chosen a niche that has little interest, guess what? You know what (see above). In my free video about affiliate marketing I cover this.  If you’re an affiliate marketer, a change in niche can be the answer, but don’t be too quick to do this.  Do you know whether it’s your marketing or your niche that is holding you back?  Until you know this, don’t assume that it’s your niche that is the problem.

Third, on your website (you do have a website, right?), post content that is interesting to your readers.  Reviews of products and product comparisons are two subjects that attract readers. On this website, I give helpful, valuable information for internet marketing. Create content that is targeted to your niche and that is helpful and valuable for your readers. This will help to increase sales, no question about it.

Fourth, if you are using your website for sales, always finish with a strong call to action. The same thing goes for your emails. This website is informational in nature; I’m generally not trying to sell from this website. In my emails, you will find a strong call to action – whether it’s check out a new blog post or a great product that will help you in your business.

So, whatever your sales strategy, there absolutely must be a strong call to action. Otherwise, when a potential buyer finishes reading your brilliant copy, you haven’t given them anything else to do. Help your potential buyer take action by suggesting a next step (sign up for my newsletter, click here for more information… etc.)

Those are some basics. If you have any thoughts on the sales process, please post them in the comments section.  I welcome your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.

6 Easy Steps For Launching Your Personal Blog Now!

Your personal blog is the best way I know of to share your message for your business.

Once you’ve determined your niche and decided on how you will meet the needs in your niche, it’s time to let the world know that you are there to help them. Your blog is your platform to tell the world about what you have to offer.  Once you’re clear on that, it’s time to launch your blog, and launching a blog isn’t as hard as you may think.

WordPress is the best platform for your blog, and there are 60 million other bloggers who support me on this.  If that sounds like 60 million competitors, think about this:

400 million internet users look at blogs every month – that leaves plenty of views for you.

With a good message, valuable content, and in the right niche, your message will be heard.

In the marketplace.

6 Easy Steps For Launching Your Blog

1. Get a hosting company.  I recommend TMD Hosting,
the company that I’ve been with for a number of years.
I’ve tried others and I went back to TMD because of
their support services and their pricing.
2. Register your domain.  I recommend using your name
and .com.  This identifies you as the business owner and
.com says that you are a business.
3. Install WordPress.  I recommend using wordpress.org
and not wordpress.com – I’ve built sites in both and .org
is superior.  With wordpress.org, you can add a multitude
of free plugins that will give you all kinds of advantages.
4. Choose a WordPress theme.  Blogger and writer
Jeff Goins recommends the Twenty Sixteen theme.  I
use Twenty Twelve which is what I  started with and
it works well for a blog.  There are over 1,000 free them
to choose from on WordPress.
5. Create a banner for the top of your website pages
and start blogging.  If you need to, you can easily
hire this out to a Fiverr.com freelancer.
6. I recommend keeping your website simple.  Have
a main page where your blog posts go, an “About Me”
page to tell your story, and a place where people can
subscribe to your email list.  Use widgets sparingly as
they can make a page look cluttered.

That’s it, so if you haven’t started a blog, what’s holding you back?

If I can be of help, let me know. I invite your comments and questions and your likes and shares.