Five Tips to Start Your Own Business

Starting a business is a lot like starting a family. Once you take the plunge, you should be reasonably sure of sustaining it for a good period of time. Hence, before taking the plunge, it will be wise to plan a bit. Here are 5 important tips:

1. Do Your Own Research

Before deciding on the business you want to start, do some research. This should include the size of the market you are targeting, types of customers you will have, their tastes, and the extent and kind of competition.

In addition, a good study should also be done about the costs: rent, cost of raw materials, labour, and best location.

It is better that you do not rely on other agencies or friends for this. It is okay for big corporate organisations to hire research firms to do this, but you are not a big corporate.

Do not trust other people’s assessments before sinking your hard earned dollar on the business. Do your own digging, and planning.

2. Prepare a Business Model

A business model is a statement of your plan on how you intend to generate revenues, and how much profit are you aiming for. There are 5 main ingredients of a good business plan.

a) Size of the targeted market in terms of quantity and value
b) Cost of inputs and production
c) Expected revenues or total sales proceeds,
d) Rent, interest on capital, depreciation for furniture/machinery
e) Expected profits at the end of a quarter, or one year.

It is important that you prepare this business model with utmost honesty and accuracy, because the success of your venture will largely depend on the efficacy of your business model.

3. Stick to Your Plan

Once you have made all the plans and started the business, stick to the plan. Do not change course mid-way, and do not get discouraged by adverse results initially. Every business will initially encounter resistance, but if your plans are well made, your business is bound to succeed.

History is flush with examples of how some of the world’s most successful businessmen built great business empires by continuing to pursue their ventures despite initial setbacks.

4. Have a Plan B Ready

Even the best laid plans may sometimes go awry. Suppose an unexpected event – a natural disaster, a sudden shrinking of the market, a new invention totally replacing your product – happens, and your Business Model becomes unviable.

If such an eventuality happens, it would be foolish to continue the same trade and go on booking losses month after month. Better cut your losses, and put your Plan B into operation.

Plan B should be drawn up such that your losses are minimal, and you are left with enough capital to start afresh.

Do not forget that new circumstances will throw up new opportunities and your business career is by no means at an end. But you should have enough capital left, and your mental framework should not be burdened with the scars of failure, in order to take advantage of the new opportunities.

Therefore, it is crucial to know when to quit and start afresh. For this you should have plan B ready in advance.

5. Don’t Be Too Ambitious Too Early

Initially, it is always imperative to take small steps. The size of your operation should be strictly within your financial and physical capacity. It should be such that you should be able to manage it personally, in the initial stages.

You can’t depend on others to implement your plan carefully. You have to do it yourself.

For this, it is important to know your limits and confine the size of your business within it when you start. In the same vein, if you have to borrow funds to start the business, it must be within your repaying capacity, and the repayment schedule must be built into the Business Model from day one.

The Kitchen & Bath Business Marketing Plan Should Be Flexible, Cost Effective & Brand The Dealership

Like most Kitchen & Bath Dealers, when I opened my dealership, I had a rough business plan and an idea of how I was going to market.

It was generalized and not very detailed. Sound familiar? I think the biggest mistake made was I really did not do a Market Study of who was doing what level of Kitchen & Baths in my market area. How can you get specific if you don’t understand the details of your market, market area, and market prospects?

A comprehensive Marketing Analysis should first look at the overall industry as a whole, then you would define your market geographically, demographically and sociographically. In English,that means, what area of the map, who lives their and what is their income, home value, etc, etc. I cannot stress this enough. Know Who, What & Where your going to target your marketing so that you don’t waste money on advertising outside those parameters.

Which is your business going to focus on,The consumer, home builder, allied professionals etc. Of course you will do projects for all of them, but your pricing and marketing strategy has to focus on one or two of them. Don’t be a “Jack of all trades, Master of none”. You should come out of your marketing analysis phase with a clear understanding of who you are, who your primary client base is and how you are going to compare with the competition in your market area.

Your Marketing Strategy should define your goal. What do you expect to accomplish and what is your budget. Remember, it doesn’t matter how big or small of a firm you are, you should always have a clear, defined budget and stick to it.

The percentages I spoke about in the last newsletter are very accurate and every Kitchen & Bath business should try and stick to them. For your review:

New business 7-8%

2-3 Year old business is 5-7%

An established business is 3- 5 %.

Remember to ad 2- 4% for brand development if your a new business.

When you do your plan in advance and stick to it, a side benefit is with truthfulness you can tell the advertising sales people that constantly call on your business- ” My budget & plan is already spoken for this year, Thank you.”

Timing is important, you should set your budget on the current years sales /overhead expenditure percentages for the following fiscal year. The 3rd Quarter is when you start to do the spending comparisons from previous year and in the middle of the 4th quarter your budget for the following year should be set.

Next step is to figure out how your going to communicate your strategy that you have defined, then you have to test the results. Some examples of Target Markets and some specific strategies that you might consider. Each market is different and you have different dealer profiles, so bear with me as I offer some examples.

The best marketing is one on one, direct contact with the prospect. Go out and get the prospects, don’t just sit in the showroom and wait for them to come in. As a rep, I just love sales people that say ” Oh man, business is slow this quarter, and yet their butts haven’t moved off the chair in front of the computer with solitaire on the screen..I digress….sorry. 🙂 If you know who your target prospect is from your analysis, there is no excuse why not to go after them.

A Newsletter, keeps in touch with your existing client base, while a Four Color Brochure, introducing your firm and its services-with Testimonials will help turn new prospects into clients. You can do this economically and along with one on one dialog be effective. These provide both flexible and cost effective marketing tools.

I find that Direct Mail Advertising only attracts the price shopper, looking for a “deal”, and I am not convinced at a 2 % response rate that it is cost effective. The big 4 Color Slicks Magazines are great for Branding, but you need to do it correctly commit to two years at every other month, It is certainly costly and most effective for branding your business with affluent prospect. It is a mistake to spend all of your marketing dollars on the 4 color slick magazines. I find that putting ads in the local Theatre and Opera Programs will do the same branding with the same affluent prospect and are less costly.

I had done some TV on the Cable Channels such as HGTV, I found that to be as effective as the 4 color slick with some side benefits. It reaches the mighty middle prospect and affluent prospect (depending on which show it airs.) A pleasant side effect is that if you do a tasteful ad and the principle is on then your existing client base is reminded of you and talks about you. (More of a reason to earn those A referrals) It is more cost effective than the 4 Color Slicks and I believe does more in the short run. I think TV, radio done right really works, but it is a big budget item. I know how to get the production done, what to look for in the statistics of who is watching what and how well it can Brand your business. I am not talking about one of those cheesy cable commercials either.

These examples are just a few of many, many. Each firm is different, that’s why you need to Analysis, Strategize & Plan specifically for your business. Stick to a budget and timetable and be flexible. Follow the yellow brick road to your business pot of gold.

Home Based Internet Business – Stick With Paid Blog Hosting Services

There are certain moves that are wise for a home base internet business decisions, and then there are moves that can be problematic. Now, problematic does not mean that the idea is a bad idea; it just means that there are certain potential hazards that may undermine you blog’s monetary ventures. Of course, these are hazards that must absolutely be avoided!

Yes, there are some purists out there who don’t like the concept of blogging for money with a home base internet business, but to possess such an attitude lacks a fundamental understanding of publishing. (Blogging is really electronic publishing) Newspapers have advertisements, magazines have advertisements and even newsletters have advertisements. This is because without a steady stream of revenue a publishing venture will be forced to limit its size, scope and frequency. This is why it is important not to place your blog in a situation where its revenues streams may be negatively impacted. Probably the best way to avoid this would be to stay away from all free blogging sites.

This may seem like a heresy to some, but the fact remains there is significantly more flexibility on the part of paid blogging sites than any free service. Consider MySpace as an example. For many, MySpace became an excellent site for blogging since it came built in with an audience of millions of members. But, MySpace is an awful, awful site for blogging for money. This is because the rules are extremely restrictive. For example, affiliate marketing – a hallmark of online revenue generation – is barred on MySpace. Also banned is any type of pay per click advertisement ventures. Ok, scratch that. There are PPC advertisements but they are owned exclusively by MySpace and you do not share in the revenues. Worst of all, there is “regulation” of any links placed on the MySpace blogs so it is difficult to use a MySpace blog to promote a home base internet business. In fact, MySpace often looks at such links as spam and nullifies the ability to follow the link.

Now, this is not stated to cast MySpace as a villain. MySpace owns its blogs and can do with them what they wish. Therein lies the problem – the blog does not belong to the blogger and that means the blogger is bound to the host’s terms and conditions. So, to avoid such a problem it would be best to form your blog via a paid blog hosting site. When you use a paid blogging service you will be granted far more flexibility. Best of all, with this flexibility there comes more opportunity to make money. As such, sticking with a paid blogging site is an absolute must for those looking to make money blogging with a home base internet business.

Obviously, that is a huge endorsement for using a paid blog hosting service. They are critical for anyone seriously looking at a career in blogging.