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If You Have an Online Business, Stick With an Established Business Plan For Success

Too many times you come across news or otherwise hear of someone touting the millions they intend to make with an online business; and there is nothing wrong with that because ambition and self-drive is a key component to the success of any venture. After all, some of the most successful companies in the world today are technology companies with a stake in the Internet. It is also true that technology and the Internet has made the transition from a startup to a multi-billion dollar company to be rather short when compared to companies in other industries. Now herein lies one of the fundamental problems bedeviling many web-based businesses today: that is, a conscious or subconscious expectation that huge profits can be realized almost overnight without expending any effort or laying out a plan for achieving that success.

When you think about it though, an online business is just that: a business. And this means that the general principles that are usually required in order for a business to succeed also apply to web-based businesses. That then implies that the key to succeeding to online business is laying down an elaborate business plan that defines the overall business strategy and describes the processes required from the point of sourcing the clients, delivery of products and service, the expenses likely to be incurred and the means through which payment will be received.

In fact, a business plan is probably more critical when it comes to online businesses than it would be for other types of businesses. Think about it: what exact type of business does the term ‘online business’ really refer to? In reality, the term is quite broad and covers a broad array of avenues through which one can generate revenue online; and more are coming out every other day. If the online business entrepreneur does not zero in on a particular type of business and exert their effort into making that strategy succeed, they can very easily get distracted by the plethora of emerging ideas for making ‘fast cash’ online.

Whether one is intent on joining an advertisement revenue sharing arrangement for such as AdSense, looking at affiliate marketing through services such as ClickBank or simply selling their own product and service directly from their own website, web-based business just like any other business, takes time before one can start to rake in a significant income. Techniques such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that are used to raise the prominence of one’s website take a while before the start to bring in a good income.

The online business entrepreneur must set out and stick with his or her business plan if they hope to succeed. This does not mean that they ignore useful advice that they can use to further improve their business plan since even the best business plan will always have areas that can be changed for the better. In addition, other changes to the business plan may be as a result of changing dynamics of the business environment. However, any such circumstances must be careful evaluated to make sure the change to the business plan is truly warranted.

5 Important Tips to Overcome Business Start Up Fears

Just a week ago, I met two of my college friends. It’s been (4) years since we’ve last seen each other, so we decided to have a cup of coffee to do some catching up.

We mostly talked about our life back in college, how the school culture has evolved, the people we were with, the education system our school had, and our careers. Apparently, when we got to talk about our careers, they were so shocked to know that I already have two businesses. They even got more shocked to learn that I have been investing in the stock market and still kept my day job. (If you knew me in college days, I bet you’d also be shocked.)

They were really intrigued with the fact that I already had two businesses and could even afford to to keep my full time job in one of the biggest companies in the Philippines. They asked me questions like – how I started, how big was my capital, how much do I earn, and many other questions. (I wanted to tell them to join our Truly Rich Club with Bo Sanchez and they will be able to start their own business as well.)

I had so much fun telling them my story, and even told them about my future business plans like acquiring real estate properties and renting it out to receive cash flow.

After telling them my story, I encouraged them to start their own business as well and ironically, both of them seemed to look like “squirrels trying to get back to their hole” to hide from people. The feeling in their eyes suddenly changes from excitement to sadness or worse – fear.

At one moment we were so happy talking about business and how it drastically grew my income, and eventually changed my life but when I asked them to do the same, all they could think about was the negative factors in starting a business. Both made excuses like I do not have the capital, I don’t know how to start, I’m not the business type of person, I do not have the time, I do not have the time and I do not have an idea what business to start.

It really saddens me to think that a lot of people really want a business of their own yet only a few even try to start. They complain about their income and how they are treated at their job, but they still work anyway.

In my case, I started dreaming about having a business of my own even when I was still very young. Hence, i unconsciously pursued that dream without even realizing it. Now, it wasn’t really that easy, I even failed tremendously. But as I tried more and more, I became better and better.

To help you with overcoming your business start up fears, here are (5) five tips and ideas that have greatly helped me in my business success:

Tip #1
Have A Strong Burning Desire – A Dream Life!

I put this as the number one tip because I believe that this will be the key to your business start up success. Having a strong dream will keep you going no matter how many times you will fail. Mr. Kiyosaki coins it very well when he said, “It is the WHY that is important in achieving financial abundance, not the HOW.” Know why you want a business, and the how will slowly unfold right in front of your eyes.

Tip #2
Stick To Your Guns

When I started doing business, I tried to do it all at once and never got a single result. I tried flipping foreclosed properties, opening a retail store, joining a networking business, started a logistics business, and on top of that I kept my full time job (yeah I know what you are thinking, I was crazy right.) My belief during that time was hitting a single bird with thousands of stones. I told myself, I want to succeed I must open many businesses at the same time.

Big mistake!

I ended up frustrated, emotionally drained and broke. Even worse, my friend who invested with me got all mad at me.

Now I learned my lesson. In starting a business, stick to your guns. In fact, just start with one gun first. Do not diversify and “reduce risk” (diversifying is only good when investing in the stock market). Focus your efforts in just one business first. Set-up a system to automate it and hire people and professionals to take care of it.

Based on my experience, it would often take at least two (2) to three (3) years to fully automate a business depending on your experience (learning curve) and the nature of your business.

Tip #3
Start Small Always

This inevitably reduces the fear you have inside you knowing that you are not using your entire savings to start a business. There are many ways to start small and I will discuss this also in my future posts. The important thing is, you do not loose food on your table, and be able to sleep at night knowing you still have enough to survive.

Tip #4
Learn To Sell And Market

No matter how great your business start up idea maybe, at the end of the day if nobody knew your product existed, getting sales will always be very difficult. Hey we all admit that apart from fulfilling our life mission to be successful businessmen (yes, I believe that is my life mission, I hope you too) we also want to earn money right? So how can your start up business be successful if you can’t sell a single cent from the services or products your start up business offers.

Remember this, sales and marketing will be the life blood of your business. So please be sure that your business start up has a strong sales and marketing system, that will back up your thriving business.

Tip #5
Get Yourself A Mentor

Yup, you heard it right. I had a mentor during all the times I was doing my trial and error in starting a business. Remember that in business, there is really no guarantee. The market is actually free and a lot of things could happen to your business.

Having a mentor on your side, gives you an advantage against your competitors since you are getting valuable advice from someone who has gone to the route that you are about to partake. Your business mentor will be short of a fortune teller of your future. Since he has gone to the process of failure, success, failure, success, failure and success again.

Now where to find those fabled mentors?

Actually finding a mentor is not as hard as it seems, they are actually everywhere. They can be your parents, your rich uncle, your quiet neighbor who owns hundreds of rental properties, or the old woman who goes to the same gym with you. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to get a mentor, you can trade services with him so that he will mentor you for free.

Ask him this question – “What is your biggest project right now that I can help you with? and of course you offer your services for free. With this effort alone, you gain his trust and his ideas on how he handles his business.

Let me end this business start up idea with the true definition of FEAR. It actually means:

F – False
E – Expectations
A – Appearing
R – Real

So when you come up with a very good business start up idea, remember that your fears are just false expectations that appear real but in real life it does not exist until you have done it. Instead of feeling fear, think of your dreams and take action, action, action, action…. until you meet success.

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.