Copyright 2013 Susan Bourke All rights reserved.No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the permission of the author. Make Money Fast – The Kitchen-‐ Table Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to Online Business Success 17 Steps for Starting Your Home-‐Based Business and Making Money Fast Online So you want to start a business from your kitchen table? Have you had an idea floating around in your head for many months – maybe many years -‐ and NOW you are finally ready to take action and DO something about it? Good for you for making that decision to take action and change your life. I can’t wait to help you achieve your dreams! Why am I the right person to help? For one, I love to see others follow their passions and achieve success. Secondly, I have a successful track record establishing two offline businesses and another online business. I know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. I know what it’s like to worry about diving into the deep end without knowing exactly how to swim. Most importantly, I know what it takes to succeed. And guess what, I’m going to hold your hand and guide you every step of the way. As you know, the divide between offline and online is now almost virtually non-‐existent. With that in mind, I’ll reveal all the tips, strategies and systems involved in starting, developing and enjoying a successful business that transcends boundaries. So if you are ready – really ready – to take that next step and achieve your dream of starting an online business, this eBook is for you. Grab your pen and paper, read each chapter in its entirety, answer every question and complete every step. You’re journey to becoming a business owner is about to take off on an amazing start! Table of Contents • • • • 1. Make Money Fast From Home 2. Do You Really Have an Idea for a Business? 3. Standing Out from the Crowd and Competing with the Best 4. Money,Money,Money: Do You Want to Make Money ? • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 5. Prosper and Grow: Take the Expansion Test 6. Research, Research, and Research: But When You Think You Know it all -‐ Research Again! 7. From Zero to Hero 8. Build A Brand to Succeed in Business 9. To Outsource or Not to Outsource (It’s Really Not a Question) 10. The Virtual Shopfront 11. Confidence, Self-‐Belief and Customer-‐First Service 12. Create Marketing that Caters to Your Customers 13. Write Compelling Copywriting in Seven Easy Steps 14. Online Marketing -‐The Works 15. Offline Marketing -‐Does it Still Work? 16.The Bottom Line: Finances and Finding Money 17. Quit the Day Job? 18. It’s a Wrap! Chapter One -‐ Make Money Fast From Home "You better think big and dream big, right from day one" Sheryl Sandberg Facebook. Here you sit; ready to take on a new challenge and turn that idea you've had for some time into an online business. But where do you start? Maybe you are thinking that you just aren’t ready to leave your 9-‐5 job just yet. Maybe you’re contemplating a part-‐ time business – a creative outlet on the side – with a plan in place for when you are ready to quit your day job. Believe me, you are not alone. There are many others just like you that dream of starting their own business. Here’s my proposal to you. In this eBook, I am going to share how I set up my online business. I’m also going to share how I grew my idea into a viable, thriving, successful, profitable business. When I began to take my idea from a dream to a reality, it was from my kitchen table. But unlike those of you reading this eBook, I had to make a go of it on my own and navigate my way through all the pitfalls, obstacles and mistakes I met along the way. As I reflect on the rough road I traveled, I sometimes wish I had an expert guide to hold my hand and show me how to progress from an idea all the way to an end product. But because of those struggles, I can now help you avoid the pitfalls and traps that trip up most kitchen-‐table entrepreneurs. And, I’m glad I can help. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #1 Always remember this: If you work for yourself, you've got the best type of boss. Your boss is a slave-‐driver at times and terribly unsympathetic when you are sick. But you’ll find that this boss is also one who understands you and allows you to strive hard for your dreams. This boss is you! Before we move forward on your journey, I hope you’ll indulge me a bit and allow me tell you a story about my beginnings. My journey began at age 23 when I unexpectedly stepped into the label of self-‐employed. At that time, I worked for the North Western Health Board as a Chartered Physiotherapist. When the first wave of a recession came to shore in the early 1980’s, there were cutbacks, and I lost my job. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was married just two months earlier and riding a wave of happiness. Then out of nowhere, at age 23, I find myself unemployed! Feeling overwhelmed and lost, I decided to "Sign On" for the Dole. When I finally got to the top of the queue in the Social Welfare office, the girl asked me what I did prior to becoming unemployed. As I spoke the words Chartered Physiotherapist, she looked back at me with a bewildered look. She said, "We never had one of those in here before. You’ll have to spell it." Before I could open my mouth to reply, the little voice inside my head screamed, “Nooooo!!! You’re leaving – right now!” And I did just that. I walked out the door and became self-‐ employed right then and there. I set up my first business -‐ The Sligo Sport and Physiotherapy Clinic -‐ the very next week and operated very successfully for 24 years. Next, I established Bourke Property Management (The day job!) and my online information business -‐ Product Launch Method. So as you can see, I know what it is like to be responsible for all aspects of running your own business. More importantly, I know what it is like when failure is not an option! If you truly believe in your idea, then you must hold onto it and push yourself to make it happen. It is my pleasure to be a part of your success by providing you with the guidance and action steps needed to take your idea – your dream – and turn it into a profitable business. But remember – It is up to you to take action. You must follow all the steps outlined in this eBook and then put them into practice to fulfill your dream of becoming self-‐ employed. "Genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration" Thomas Edison. Chapter Two – Do You Really Have an Idea for a Business? If you are like most people, I bet you have ideas all the time. The question you must ask yourself is, “Which of my ideas are viable and which ones must I ditch?” The best ideas are based in something tangible. These types of ideas usually are the answer to something you want but cannot find. That something could be an actual object or maybe a solution to a problem. Can you think of something that fits this description? If so, ask yourself if it is possible for you to design, invent, create or provide the product – the solution -‐ you want and cannot find anywhere else. Remember, I cannot give you your idea. It needs to be yours and it needs to be something you are passionate about. But even though I cannot provide you with one, I can help you sort through your mental stack of ideas, find a viable one and then tell you what to do with it when you choose it! So, do you have an idea for a business? Let’s find out. Let’s start by analyzing and fleshing out your idea. Let’s see if there is a demand for it, and if there is an audience who will buy it. 4 Big Tests – Charting a Course for Success I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the 4 Big Tests and the results you obtain from answering each of the questions within those tests. These results will make up the central document – the foundational outline – of your business. Because of that, you must be honest and genuine in your analysis and assessment when answering each and every question. It does you no service to be dishonest with yourself. Instead, it does you a disservice. If you are not honest with yourself now, you are setting a course for failure before you get your ship untied from the dock. The 4 Big Tests essentially boil down to four big questions you must ask yourself. 1. Does my idea pass the Originality Test? 2. Does my idea pass the Competitive Test? 3. Does my idea pass the Financial Test? 4. Does my idea pass the Expansion Test? If – after answering all the questions in the following tests – you can answer “yes” to the above questions; then you have passed the 4 Big Tests. Are you ready? Let’s get started! Chapter Three – Standing Out from the Crowd and Competing with the Best In this chapter, you will take both the Originality Test and the Competitive Test. Take your time and answer all of the questions honestly before moving forward to the next chapter. The Originality Test Does your idea have the “it factor” and will it stand out from the crowd? You’ll find out with the Originality Test. Ask yourself… • • • • • • Is my idea unique? Has it been done before? What is my idea’s USP (unique selling proposition) which will make it stand out from the crowd? Is there a market for my product/service? (*Tip -‐ Check out our PLM DVD for live training on how to do research and market analysis.) How will I deliver that product/service to my customers? Will I have copyright/trademark issues with other suppliers? Can my product/service be copied, counterfeited and ripped off easily? How can I protect my idea? Are there any regulatory issues that I have to overcome first (e.g. health and safety, trading issues, etc.)? You must take the time to answer all the questions thoroughly and then to reflect on and research those answers. This will tell you whether your customers will be excited by your product/service and whether or not you have a ready-‐made market for that product/service. Finished with the Originality Test? Okay, take a quick break. Let all the information you just put to paper sink in before proceeding. Are you ready? Let’s move on to the Competitive Test. The Competitive Test If two is company, then three is a crowd. How many times have you heard that expression over the years? It is possible to enter into a crowded market and do well. However, it can be an uphill struggle and very difficult when you are a one-‐man band. Can you successfully compete in the marketplace? You’ll find out with the Competitive Test. Answer the following questions and dig deeply into your replies to see if your business is viable or not. To find your answers, use the research tips I share just below these questions. Read through to the end of the chapter, get ready to research and then return to the following questions. Ask yourself… • • • • Why will my customers want my product? Again, what is my USP? Can I price my product/service competitively once I’ve taken cost of production into account? Am I competing on price, quality, sheer uniqueness or all three? Who is my competition and are they successful? (*Tip -‐ Use Google to do a bit of market research on your competition.) Knowing your competition and how you will compete is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to your chances of success. Answering the above questions will help you find your niche – an advantage that you can use to win a spot in the marketplace. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #2 To succeed in a crowded market, find a niche or an angle where you can take advantage of an underserved segment of that market. While doing your research, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about what your needs would be and see if your competition is lacking when it comes to filling those needs. Digging Deep – Researching Your Competition With all of the resources available today, research has never been easier and more cost-‐effective (Think free!). This is perfect for the start-‐up business. Anytime you can cut costs – without cutting corners – is a huge bonus. Start by checking out the Companies Registration Office Site (CRO) to see if someone has already registered with your idea. Then cast a wide net using search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search for keywords related to your product/service/business. Take the time to study -‐ not only your competition’s product and service offerings -‐ but also take notice of their website design and content. Always bookmark websites so you can easily find them again later. After the search engines, take the time to use the free Google Adwords tool to research content. Next, move on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Pay attention to what people are discussing as these are your future prospects and customers. If you know what they want, then you can serve them more successfully. Read, read and read: Absorb as much information as possible on your chosen niche/product/service. Learn about your competition. See what your potential customers are saying. Get to know the marketplace inside and out to see if you have a realistic opportunity to succeed or if the marketplace is saturated already. Chapter Four – Money, Money, Money: Do you want to make Money? I am a business man. Man, I am a business! To be a business, your idea has to make money. This is quite possibly the most important measure of whether your idea is a good one or not. Is it going to make money? If your business idea is to sell a product online for less than it costs to make and distribute, well, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The next step in your journey is to take the Financial Test. If you do not get the fundamentals in this chapter correct from the start, you will find it difficult to survive. So take this advice seriously – if you are not good with money, then get help with this section. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #3 Develop a good relationship with an accountant or financial advisor. These individuals are key pieces of the puzzle both in the planning and operational stages of your business. They will help you with decisions that could potentially save you a lot of money. And for a start-‐up like yours, this savings might just be the difference between success and failure. The Financial Test Does your idea have profit potential? You’ll find out with the Financial Test. Ask yourself… • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Will my idea make money? Will it make enough money to match the investment and time involved? Will it make enough money to allow me to give up the day job eventually? What sort of return on my sales should I make? What sort of margins do other businesses make in this market sector? How do I compare? Have I got the cash resources to fund any losses? (*Tip -‐Remember, it takes time in a start-‐up situation to build up sales.) Have I considered the direct cost of each of the products/services I am going to offer including the cost of raw materials and labour? Have I considered which suppliers I will use? What will my overhead costs entail? What will be my wholesale or retail selling price to cover my direct costs and overheads, and will I make a profit after these expenses? Have I projected what cash is going to come in daily/weekly/monthly/annually? How will I fund my initial investment to start the business? Do I have access to sufficient start-‐up money to buy stock? Where can I go for further loans or investment? Have I talked to an accountant for advice? Am I being realistic about how I will survive if my business is slow to take off? Yes, I understand that these are a lot of questions to consider. However, you must sit down and take the time to go through each of these questions thoroughly. More importantly, you must be brutally honest with your answers and projections. Remember, to be a business your idea has to make money. Otherwise, it is just an expensive hobby! Chapter Five – Prosper and Grow: Take the Expansion Test In this chapter, you will take The Expansion Test. This set of questions and answers will help you both understand and map out the long-‐term potential of your business. Remember, your business can only survive and have a future if it can prosper and grow. Your exit strategy is important, but in order to reach the finish line, you have to have an understanding and plan that takes you there. With this knowledge and roadmap, you can then focus on the tasks at hand and not become distracted along the way. The Expansion Test Does your business idea have long-‐term potential for growth and expansion? You’ll find out with the Expansion Test. Ask yourself… • • • • • When my core offering (i.e. product/service) takes off, what’s next? What would scaling up mean for the business? How would I cope with high growth? What are my aspirations for this business? Do I want this to be part-‐time only or to eventually become the sole breadwinner in the house? As I expand, how will I make sure that I plan ahead to cope with all the extra demands? (*Tip -‐ Many businesses fail because they are unable to cope with increased demand and customers fail to come back for repeat sales.) Kitchen-‐Table Tip #4 Expansion and growth is exciting, but you must never make the mistake of diversifying too much too quickly. And remember, you also must consider how expansion will affect your personal and family life. To expand successfully, you must always have a strategy for smart growth. Pass or Fail? Did you take action and answer all the questions in the 4 Big Tests? Congratulations! Just taking action – something that many fail to do – and completing those tests is a victory in itself. And if you passed the 4 Big Tests, well, that’s fantastic! This analysis and document (all your questions, answers and research) will be the foundation of your new business. This introspection is vital if you are to understand and implement all the stages ahead. So, well done and congratulations for sticking with the program and taking the time to invest in your future up until this point. Now, take a deep breath and let’s keep moving forward. Where to Next!? Thanks to your commitment -‐ to honestly answering all questions and for doing some in-‐depth research -‐ you now have three possible outcomes. Those three outcomes are: 1. Your idea passes with flying colours and off you go! 2. Your idea was killed stone-‐dead. (*Tip -‐ Do not despair as this means you can let it go and concentrate on a fresh idea that will be easier to execute.) 3. Your idea is a good one, but it doesn't quite stack up…yet. Let’s take a quick look at that third outcome. Remember, easy isn’t the case with most businesses. Successfully dealing with issues and obstacles is an important skill if you want to be a success. If you fall into that third outcome, don’t give up without giving yourself a chance first. Take your idea, thrash it about, talk to people you trust and get their opinion. Could you take the same idea that needs expensive packaging and shipping and turn it into a digital product? Maybe, instead of creating a product, you could provide a service to support those who already own a similar product. The key here is to take a look at your idea from all angles and see if there is a way to make it viable. Even if you fall into the third outcome, stick with me over the next couple of chapters as we go through all the stages needed to Make Money Fast from Home. The process itself often stimulates fresh, new ways to look at your business idea. Chapter Six -‐ Research, Research and Research: But When You Think You Know it all -‐ Research again! Once you have decided that your idea is a runner, you then have to get down to the market research and ascertain where you will find your target market. When I started researching Product Launch, I knew that it would primarily be an online business. However, it has evolved over time. Not only do I now provide Skype conferencing and an online membership site, but I also work with clients offline as well. Your new business could combine a bit of both also. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #5 Never be so rigid that you miss opportunities to grow your business and reach a new target market. Being agile, flexible and open to opportunity can save you from finding your business being left behind when your market begins to shift into new territories. The Ins and Outs of Market Research There was a time where businesses doing research would get a clipboard full of questionnaires and ask people directly what they think of an idea, product or service. Nowadays it is really simple to get all the info you need online. And for start-‐up businesses like yours, much of this information can be found at no-‐cost or very inexpensively. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways you can do market research. Online Tools for Market Research Google Adwords – See actual numbers – not estimates – of what people are searching for to get a gauge on the interest and demand for your product/service on Google Adwords. Social Networks – Social networks like Facbook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide a wealth of information on your market. Visit your competition’s Facebook page and see what their customers are discussing. Use Twitter hashtags related to your product/service to view real-‐time market information. Search LinkedIn to find relevant groups related to your product/service. Online Surveys -‐ Tools like SurveyMonkey, RationalSurvey and Smart-‐Survey are effective ways to gather responses and analyse results. Offline Tools for Market Research One little used way to decide if your idea is a runner is to spend some time in a really good newsagent looking at the shelves of magazines. If there are lots of magazines in your chosen niche, then that means there is a demand for your product/service. Remember, publishers do not print magazines on subjects with no demand because there will be no sales! Silence is not an option. Talk to People You Trust. Again, as I said before, you must discuss your plan with people you can trust and whose business acumen you admire. While it is true that sometimes the smartest people can miss the point of your plans, they will ask the right questions and highlight your weaknesses -‐ if you'll listen. Tell people on a need-‐to-‐know basis and keep track of who you have talked to about your idea. Legal Protection and Precautions When you are discussing your business idea –whether it is in the market research phase or any other phase – you need to take precautions and have legal protection. You need to think about the following: • • • • • • Legal Advice and Protection Non-‐Disclosure Agreements Trademarks Copyright Design Rights (*Tip -‐ If your product is in the EU you automatically have three years cover.) Patents I can’t state the importance of following through with legal precautions enough. Remember, your legal protection will cost more to defend than to implement. Save money in the long term by taking time to protect yourself and your business now. Wrapping It Up Finding and researching your customers, talking to them, building a relationship with them, giving them a unique experience, earning and keeping their trust and growing the business with them: That’s what will ensure your survival when the look-‐a-‐likes are nipping at your heels. And on a final note for this chapter -‐ stay focused on the present but keep continue to innovate for the future. Chapter Seven -‐ From Zero to Hero How are you going to get from zero to hero? You've got the idea. You've got the courage. You’ve done your research. Now you need to get from dreaming the dream to the “pinch-‐me” reality of your first sale. Before going forward, let’s take a step back. At this point in your journey, if you have been following the steps outlined in this eBook, you will have tested your idea, undergone the rigorous financial exam and identified your niche with market research. Now let’s talk about motivation! One of the first times I really got excited about online business was while I had breakfast at a conference a few years ago. On the very first morning, the girl beside me had an iPhone and it was constantly blipping. When I asked her why it blipped so much, she said told me that those were email notifications. Now, these weren’t just any email notifications. These were emails from PayPal notifying her each time she sold a product and that money was deposited into her account. I was astounded – blown away -‐ that she was literally making money while enjoying breakfast! Right then and there I decided I wanted "one of those" myself. That was almost 3 years ago. And guess what? I now have a phone that blips daily with sales. I love waking up to discover that someone somewhere has deposited money into my account. If I can do this, you can too. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #6 One thing I know for sure -‐ you need to be hungry for success. Having this hunger – this drive -‐ is absolutely fundamental to success. You need to be self-‐assured of what you are doing and completely believe in it to succeed. Building a successful business means you are learning on the hop and making mistakes. If you are not passionate about your business, then these mistakes – these setbacks – can knock you right off your path. But when you persist and find your formula, it is one of the most exciting and important stages in a business's life. When I finally got the full mindset and sequence to sell online correctly and see some success, I was just ballistic when I got my first series of sales. And once again, if it I can do it, then you can do it too! A Question of Motivation Ask yourself… • • • • • What is your business for – extra money, a creative outlet, to become your own boss, etc.? Why do you want to do it yourself? Do you want to fulfill a passion or express your creativity? Do you want to take control of your own time and finances? Do you need to work but cannot, for whatever reasons, be in an office from 9-‐5? • • • Do you need to supplement your income without it becoming your main job? Do you have an ethical drive and strong sense of purpose? Do you simply want to make more money? The answers you provide from the above list of questions will help you define your measure of success. In business, there is rarely a final destination. However, you do need to know the direction you wish to go and why you want to go there. You cannot plan a journey if you do not know where you want to that journey to end! And remember, 20% of all businesses fail in the first year and 50 % fail within 3 years. So when you reach your first year anniversary, congratulate yourself. You are already a winner. Remember, consistent and dedicated, hard work pays off. Always keep sight of your goal and you will make it happen. Getting your business from zero to hero is not easy. You have to enjoy it and make sure it works for you! In the next chapter, I am going to talk about shaping your brand so keep reading and remember -‐ take action! Chapter Eight-‐ Build a Brand to Succeed in Business What is a brand? It is a small word that encapsulates the entire essence of who you really are in business. It is the professional image of your business. It is a combination of your style, your mission and the way you go about performing your day to day business. Let’s talk about developing your business’s Brand. As you read through the following bullet-‐points, think about your brand and what defining your business’s brand. What’s In a Brand • • • • • • • It is how your customers perceive you. It is the content on your website. It is how you package your product. It is how you relate to your customers. It is how and where you choose to advertise. It is even in your style of logo. It is like a bird’s nest with lots of bits and pieces that come together to make up your unique identity. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #7 Try and capture your brand in a few key principles, but remember, your brand will constantly evolve as your business grows. For example: The core brand of my business -‐ "Product Launch Method " -‐ is to assist clients/businesses in the mindset of information marketing and to teach them how to sell successfully online. What’s In a Name? Now, let’s move on to the sticky point of picking a name for your business. What’s in a name? Well…a lot! Let’s look at the example of the brand VIRGIN. Supposedly, the name was suggested by one of Sir Richard Branson's employees because they were all new to business and because its implicit naughtiness would also have an appeal. But just look at what happened when his enterprise grew. The Virgin brand grew into Virgin Airlines, Virgin Music, Virgin Cola and other offshoots. The point I’m trying to make here is the importance of choosing a name that can grow with you as your business expands. For example, “We Make Hats” is a great name if you just make hats. But suppose you decide to make scarves and gloves as your business grows. Will the name “We Make Hats” be relevant then? Does it really tell the whole tale? You get my drift? Claiming Your Name Online You should always consider Google research when picking your name because if you want to be found online, you should pick something that people search for on Google. Do a quick search of domain names that include your business name using a service like GoDaddy.com. Next, purchase the domain name in as many address endings as are relevant. By that I mean to buy domains ending in .com, .net, .ie, .tv and whatever other ending which is applicable to your business and the country you live in. Also, check out if your name is available on the social networks. The best possible scenario is that you can use your exact business name on all your social media accounts. This gives continuity and a unified branding message everywhere your customers find you online. In the next chapter, we will look at what you do best and what you should outsource. You didn’t think you’d have to do all the heavy lifting did you? Chapter Nine – To Outsource or Not To Outsource (It’s Really Not a Question) Well, you’ve now made it to the 9th chapter in this eBook. Aren’t you proud of yourself for sticking with this and following your dream!? The feedback and comments from people just like you have been awesome! I love that people are taking action and implementing the strategies and tips involved in this eBook. It’s great to help people like you succeed and achieve your dreams! Are you as excited to continue as I am? Let’s go. In this chapter we’re going to look at what it is that you do best. Then we will talk about how to leverage outsourcing to fill in the gaps and grow your business. Plus, we’ll discuss the burning question of whether or not you wish to have a partner in your new business and what steps you must take if you decide to go that route. Some people are fantastic at the big picture and how to make dreams materialize. Others are happy to concentrate on the day to day operational tasks of running a business like accounting. This takes us to our next tip. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #8 To succeed in business, you must focus on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses. Time is an asset that must not be wasted. Commit yourself to spending that time wisely and productively by focusing your energy on tasks which bring back the biggest results. Outsourcing – The Smart Way to Get Things Done The following is a very important lesson to take to heart if you wish to succeed. For example, if it is going to take you all day to edit and upload a video to You Tube, then you are better off paying someone a small fee to perform this task. Why? Well, you can then focus on more important big-‐ picture tasks like making your next video and growing your business. Outsourcing tasks – especially ones that do not fit your skill-‐ set or strengths – is something you must consider. You can find freelance contractors to handle everything from answering your emails to coding your website online. Take a look at websites like oDesk.com and Elance.com or do a quick search in Google for other websites where you can outsource work for you new business. To be successful, you need to focus on your strengths and working on tasks that will grow your business. Outsourcing is essential when it comes to doing just that. Partnerships – Is Two Better Than One? Besides outsourcing to help with your business, you could also consider a partnership. But remember this: If you do find a partner who can fill in the gaps where you are weak, this person must also have the same spark of passion that you do for your idea. And on top of that, there must also be a strong connection and trust between the two of you. A relationship like this – while not impossible – is hard to find. If you decide that you would like to work with a partner, then my best advice would be for the two of you to sit down independently and fill out a detailed questionnaire that analyses both your views and also the direction of the business. In other words, you need to be completely transparent about all aspects of the business and its potential future before you enter into any agreement. Partnerships -‐ Essential Questions to Consider Ask yourself… • • • • • What will be your shareholding in the business? Why do you think this is fair? What’s your salary expectation/requirement this year and next year? How big do you want the company to grow? How much risk are you prepared to take? • • • • • • • • • • How many hours a week do you expect to work? Is this level of work commitment feasible for you and your family? How much flexibility do you want and need? What happens if one member of the partnership wants to leave? Who will be the ultimate decision maker? What would be your ideal role in this business relationship? What will be the policy and procedures if one of you gets sick or has a family illness? What excites you most about this opportunity? What is your biggest concern? What are your 3 biggest weaknesses and 3 biggest strengths? As I mentioned above, you and your partner need to take the time to answer the above questions -‐ honestly. When finished, the two of you swap questionnaires and thrash out the results. At this stage in the game, the two of you must discuss everything, leave no stone unturned and not hold back in fear of hurting feelings. Believe me; it is better to find out now if you can’t work together rather than discovering this a few months down the road when it could potentially end your business before it actually gets off the ground. You also need to consider a legal agreement at this stage in the partnership discussions. Do not make the mistake of waiting. Down the road, when you are successful and one person wants to leave, you need to have a strong legal foundation to work from in the split. Also, if the business should fail, you need be clear on the financial and legal implications for all parties involved. So do you feel good about outsourcing and partnerships? Great! Let’s keep moving forward – one step closer to your dream. Chapter Ten -‐ The Virtual Shopfront In today’s business environment, it is critical to have a visible and vibrant online presence. The first step is to have a website. But believe me, there are many steps beyond the first one that you must be prepared to take. Your online presence must also include blogs, email newsletters, social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), videos and other online content channels. From the market research you did in an earlier chapter, you most likely discovered many locations where your target audience hangs out online. You want to be there as well. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #9 You must take the time to develop a website and online content strategy. Without one, you might as well be winking in the dark. You know you are doing it, but your target market has no idea. Remember, your business must be transparent, visible and easily found online in order to survive. Don’t over-‐think all the online possibilities yet. This could lead to paralysis by analysis. Let’s start by getting you to focus on your main, virtual storefront. We will discuss your online content marketing strategies (social networks, email, etc.) in a later chapter. What kind of website is right for you and your business? Well -‐ for your purposes and broadly speaking – we’ll review three types of websites. These three types include: 1. Brochure Sites 2. Blogs 3. Transactional (eCommerce) Sites. Let’s take a look at these three a little more in detail. Brochure Sites This classic, one-‐page, simple site reveals the who, where, what and why of your business. Make sure your website design is clean, clear and concise. Provide clear contact details and important business information front and center for your visitors to spot quickly. Blogs Setting up and operating blogs does not require a wealth technical skill or a large bank account. This alone makes blogs a great option for the start-‐up business owner. In fact, there are many great blogging systems that are free. Some of these free blogs include Wordpress (my choice), Tumblr and Google’s Blogger. The idea behind blogging is that you establish a community and following online by providing valuable content. Then as your followers begin to trust you, they move farther down the sales funnel until they eventually move from prospect to customer. Transactional (eCommerce) Sites Transactional websites allow your customers to purchase your services/products directly from your website with an online shopping cart service such as PayPal or WorldPay. Depending on your ability, you may be able to set your website up in DIY fashion. However, if you do not have a lot of technical savvy, it may be in your best interest to seek help (remember outsourcing?) setting up your eCommerce website. Choosing Your Virtual Home So, how do you decide your business’s online venue? Here are a few things to consider. Ask yourself… • • • • • Will I establish my own website online with a shopping cart for my customers to make purchases? Will I sell through a shared site with other like-‐minded businesses? Will I have a blog that is separate from my website? Will I only need a blog and sell my products on a third-‐ party website like eBay? Will I create a mobile app or just make my website mobile-‐ready? • • Will I build a website that is a simple, one-‐page brochure site or a more complex, multi-‐tiered site full of valuable content? Will I have enough money in my budget to outsource website development or to pay hosting and shopping cart fees? These are just a few of the questions to consider and your honest answers will guide you towards the decision that is right for both you and your business. But remember this: As time goes by you could be reaching your customers by a combination of all of the above. Personally, I believe in having total control over my website from its inception to day-‐to-‐day operations. During the course of your business, you will need to add and alter website content regularly. If you have to ask someone else to do this for you, then you are sure to have a lot of extra headaches and extra expenses. I don’t know about you, but I’m not fond of either of those. Your Website Content Foundation After choosing from one of the above options, you next need to fill your virtual shop with content. This content must capture your visitor’s attention quickly. More importantly, it must pass the, “What’s in it for me?” test. You’ll also want a structure – a design – that serves your main purpose. That purpose is to sell your products/services. So let’s discuss a few basic tips when creating your brochure site, blog or ecommerce site. For the purposes of simplicity, I’ll just use the term “website” in the following information. One of the most important points I want to share with you – one that I notice so many businesses doing incorrectly – involves the content on your website. When people land on your website, they really do not want to know about you. Instead, you visitors want to know what you can do for them. Therefore, your website content must share the benefits and features you deliver to the client. And, just as importantly, it must put this “What’s in it for me?” content up front and center. Don’t beat around the bush. Tell your customers why your product/service fulfills their needs and share that immediately. Next, follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) rule when developing your website. Keep your content direct and to the point. Keep your structure basic. Keep your purchasing and contact options front and center at all times. Also, make sure that you add plenty of images to hold your customers’ attention and to provide a visually appealing look at your product/service offerings. Get creative and paint a picture with your product/service descriptions. Remember, your customer cannot touch or feel what you are selling. Give them the ability to visualise your offerings and how it will change their lives before they buy from you. Keep the following information in mind when developing your website design and content. The average person stays on a landing page for 11 seconds before clicking away. You must hold their attention long enough to get them to take action. And you must give them a sense of urgency – a reason – to take action before clicking away from your website. The younger generations provide a good example when looking for insight into the attention span of online visitors coming to your website. These younger generations – raised on content from providers like MTV – are both comfortable with and expect short snippets of content. They also lean towards online video content. One of the trends of online marketing and sales involves using video to capture the attention of online visitors. With that being said, it is vital that you use video to promote your business. The blogging sites mentioned above are a great way to disseminate your videos and presentations. You can also easily embed YouTube videos into your website pages with some simple cut and paste coding. Product Delivery: From Your Virtual Shop to Your Customer’s Front Door One important point I would like to quickly touch on here – since we are discussing your virtual storefront – is getting your product/service to your customer. Remember, the whole point of your business is to make money. And to make money, well, you need people to buy your products/services. Previously, you pondered using a third-‐party shopping cart, a website like eBay or even PayPal for customer purchasing. But how will your customers get their hands on your products or enjoy your services once they make that purchase? Well, if you sell physical products, you must consider packaging and delivery methods. The type of packaging often determines the type of delivery. The method of delivery will determine the cost of delivery. This cost is an essential factor when determining your business’s operational budget. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #10 Encourage sales by offering free shipping. Your visitors are more likely to buy from you when they think they are receiving a bargain – especially something for free. All you will have to do is to build the price of packaging and delivery into the final sales price of your product/service. A very popular way online businesses cut costs is to create and sell products that do not require packaging and shipping. If there is a way to convert your product/service into a digital download, you can save money on shipping costs. Plus, you can provide your customer with a sense of instant gratification as they can have their purchase in seconds/minutes instead of days. Create more win-‐win scenarios like this and you are on your way to creating a successful, long-‐term business! Okay, let’s shut the doors to your virtual shopfront, lock up and move on to our next chapter. Are you ready? Chapter Eleven – Confidence, Self Belief and Customer-‐First Service From the first day you begin this journey, you must present yourself with confidence and self-‐belief. When you do this, you are more likely to receive customer confidence which will turn into customer loyalty and repeat business -‐ both of which are necessities for your success. But remember this above all else; if you do not believe in your business, who else will? The beauty of an internet-‐based business is that the size of your organisation really doesn't matter. When you follow the steps provided and put forth a professional first impression, your businesses looks the same -‐ to your online audience – as a well-‐established and much larger one. Being on equal footing is a great place to begin your business. It’s like getting a running start in a race with runners who are much faster than you. Keeping that equal footing, well, that is going to be up to you. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #11 Aim high with your goals! Believe you are on par with the biggest brands in your niche. Create the illusion of being a bigger and more credible company and start punching well above your weight. When it comes to keeping pace with those faster runners, you have a secret weapon. Well, you have two secret weapons. First, you have yourself -‐ your confidence, self-‐ belief, passion and drive. Second, you have this guide and the help of someone who’s been there and done that. Here are two areas of your business that you should focus on to help keep your edge and not lose ground. These two areas of your business serve two major functions -‐ creating a first impression and creating a lasting impression. So if you are ready, let’s turn that running start into a sustainable, winning pace. Your Professional First Impression We discussed your brand in a previous chapter. Feel free to scroll back and review that section if needed. As we discussed previously, your brand is not just your logo, your colours or even your name. While these things are important, your business is more than just a collection of images. Your brand – what will keep your customers coming back again and again – is reflected in your principles and the translation of those principles into your business. When you are successful in packaging image and principles together, then your brand vision will shine through to your target market. Work hard to establish this brand vision from the very beginning and it will be something you are proud of for a long time. Remember, your brand delivers a powerful, professional first impression which – in combination with the next section – turns into an important lasting impression. Create a Positive Lasting Impression Your online customer must be at the forefront of your mind at all times. Every decision you make begins and ends with how your customer will react and take action. As I mentioned above, customer confidence leads to customer retention. A successful lasting impression begins and ends with the customer experience. Create a Customer Service System • • • • • • • Establish guidelines and practices for dealing with customer issues. Consider using technology to manage queries. Set your own customer standards and stick to them. Be genuine about your returns policies and make sure your address is clearly visible on your website. Comply with business regulations. Deal efficiently with customer queries. Keep your customer clearly in mind, and ask yourself if you are dealing politely with them at all times. If you build a rewarding relationship with your customers, they will come to know you, like you and trust you. They will buy from you repeatedly over the years. When a customer has a complaint, listen to them, learn from it, deal with it and move forward. The experience will help improve both your business and you as a person. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #12 Want to enhance the customer experience and create a lasting impression. With each purchase, throw in a small freebie or a coupon for another purchase to surprise your customer. This small gesture enhances the buying experience for your customer, leads to repeat business and can create a lifelong customer. Keep confident, project a professional image and put your customers on a pedestal: Those three things will keep you on pace with more entrenched and experienced online businesses. Chapter Twelve – Create Marketing that Caters to Your Customers The most important thing you must know about marketing has nothing to do with you and your business. Marketing is all about your prospect/customer. Unless you know who makes up your target market, what they want, and why they want it; then your marketing efforts will be wasted. You might as well write your marketing message, put it in a bottle and toss it out to sea! To be successful, you must identify your target audience – your ideal customers – and then create your message around those individuals. Once you have this understanding -‐ this vision in sight -‐ all else is plain sailing. Take a moment now to review the information in Chapter 6. This is where we first introduced your target audience. In this chapter, you also learned how to use market research to find the audience is clamoring to get their hands on your product/service. In the grand scheme of business, marketing boils down to these three things. 1. It can cost a fortune! Marketing, public relations (PR) and social media can cost you a fortune in terms of expertise, time and collateral. 2. There is no tried and tested, one-‐size-‐fits-‐all recipe for marketing. Stick with it, learn from your mistakes and you will find what works for you and your business. 3. Lastly, when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the goalposts move and you are off on another tangent. Constant testing, reviewing results, reprogramming your marketing strategy and then repeating this system is the key to success. If you think you can put marketing on the back burner, well, think again. Without marketing, your business is dead in the water. But do not despair, the best marketing asset your business has is you! If hard work is your single biggest competitive advantage, then marketing is one of the places you will see your hard work pay off. Understand your target customer, take action, be persistent and you will see a successful marketing strategy evolve from your efforts. Crafting Your Marketing Message Charles Revson, founder of Revlon Cosmetics once said, "In the factory we make cosmetics. In the store, we sell hope!" What you will market to your customers is not your product or service. What you will market to these individuals is your USP. So what is your point of difference – your unique selling proposition (USP) -‐ and how are you going to communicate that to your target market? What problems are you going to solve for your customer? How will your product/service change their lives? As Charles Revson may ask, “How are you going to give your customers hope?” When you understand the answers to those questions, you will know how to craft your marketing message. The next step is to deliver that message. Delivering Your Marketing Message – Tools of the Trade When you begin to put your marketing strategy into action, do not get distracted by get-‐rich-‐quick schemes such as buying email lists. These schemes will only undermine your brand and cheapen your image. This is not the type of first impression you want to make. Remember, your professional first impression is one of your few advantages. Don’t tarnish it in any way. As a small start up company on a budget I understand that it is not always possible, or even necessary, to hire on a marketing or PR company. With the effort and hard work we mentioned earlier, you can achieve it in-‐house instead. One way to get your targeted message out there to your customers is to master the art of blogging and copywriting. And to get your message seen and read, you’ll need to get it out to as many content outlets as possible. The formula is a simple one when you get down to basics. Target the right online locations and publications for you and your product, find interesting stories and great photographs and be 100 % authentic and reliable. Finding out what kind of content your audience enjoys takes a little effort but that effort pays off. Start by searching magazines on Amazon.com for publications that have content that relates to your product/service. Do a Google search for terms related to your business and find blogs, article directories and websites that accept submissions. If needed, spend some time browsing your local newsagent and see what is stocked and also what sells. Besides checking out what kind of subject matter these publications distribute, you also want to review the writing style and tone of the content. You should also aim to get you and your product mentioned in these publications. Focus on submitting to online sites which let you link directly to your online business. When you decide where you want to market your business, check out their submission guidelines, start writing and submit your content. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #13 Another way to find out what topics are hot in your industry is to take a look at social networks. User Twitter hashtags (i.e. #marketingtips) to see what is trending. Take a look at conversations on Facebook and in LinkedIn groups. Social networks show you what your customers are discussing in real-‐time. Want to take some of the guesswork out of submitting to other online locations and print publications? You can start your own blog. You’ll still want to research what your target audience is talking about, what they are reading and what kind of content they are searching for online. But now, you don’t have to worry about another person accepting your content submission. Why? Because, you are now the one giving the thumbs up and publishing your content! Get your story ready and target it at people who will be interested in it. Write your first draft, edit with rewrites, and then proofread your content. (FYI – We’ll discuss copywriting in the next chapter.) Use a good photograph, clear description and strong call to action. Then post it for the world – or World Wide Web – to see. Reviewing Your Marketing Data and Altering Course As a small business owner, you don’t have time to continue doing something that isn’t working. You need to focus on what works and forget about what doesn’t. That’s why, at regular intervals throughout the year, you must review your progress and alter your course when needed. While doing this, you should ask yourself these questions. Have I reached my targets and goals? What’s working? What’s not working? Where do go next? Be sure to check your website stats (I recommend Google Analytics). In particular, you need to pay close attention to the “hits” your website receives. A “hit” is a visit – a potential customer – to your website. Dig deep into your visitor stats to gain a better understanding of your online target market. See where your visitors are originating from (a blog, an online article, another website, a social network, etc.) Then use this data to tweak your online tactics and improve your website performance. Reviewing email stats is another vital step in determining how well your online sales and marketing strategy is working. Whether you are using an email programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact, or just a form on your website tied into Google Analytics, it is important to review your data to unlock your key performance indicators. Take a look at data related to how many email inquiries you receive, how many sign-‐ups to your email newsletter, how many opened your emails and how many email prospects converted to sales. KPIs -‐ Key Performance Indicators The following key performance indicators are vital to your business. Create a spreadsheet with the following data and use this data to track your marketing and sales performance. • • • Number of enquiries/leads/visitors (website traffic). Number of transactions. Conversion rates to sales. • • • • • Sales in hard cash. Average price spend per transaction. Number of new customers. Number of repeat customers. Comparisons for all the above to last month’s, year’s or even week’s numbers. Remember – don’t be afraid to stop doing something that isn’t producing results. If it looks like one marketing method is just barely producing, spend more time on something that is working better. Make it a point to review your data monthly and shift your resources towards what is delivering the biggest bang for your buck. Chapter Thirteen – Write Compelling Copywriting in Seven Easy Steps 7 Easy Steps to Writing Compelling Copy 1. Research and Swipe • • When writing content for the first time, the easiest way to get an idea of what works is to Google your competitors and look at their content. Next, open a new file and cut and paste the content into this document for future reference. Whatever you do, never copy your competitor’s content word for word. This content is to be used for your personal reference data only. 2. Get in the Correct State of Mind • • Getting yourself into a productive state of mind is a key component of writing compelling copy. You can do this by taking a couple of deep breaths, relaxing your body and allowing your mind to focus on why you want to write this compelling copy. Think about your customer. Put yourself in their shoes and think about the benefits your product/service offers them. 3. Brainstorm • • • Now is the time to put all your ideas down on paper. Write what comes to mind without filtering out anything. Next, write the name of the product/seminar/service and then create a mind map from all your ideas. Think about how you can present your ideas it in such a way that people will be queuing up to order from you. 4. Headlines • • • Write somewhere between 5 and 10 headlines. Do not try to make each one perfect. This exercise is to get your creative mind working and warmed up. You may end up scrapping all these later. The purpose of this step is to get you thinking creatively and finding a subject for your content. 5. First Draft • • The best advice I can give you here is to just write. Write anything and everything that comes to mind without allowing your internal editor to place a good or bad label on anything you write. Later in the process you will proofread, edit, erase, reorder and rewrite your content. • In this draft stage, you just need to turn over the pitcher and let all the words spill out onto the paper (or computer screen). 6. Take a Break • • • This step is critical. Walk away from your first draft, take a break and keep your conscious mind from thinking about what you just wrote. Take a shower, go for a walk, do the dishes: Perform some type of task that will distract you from focusing on what you just wrote. Your subconscious mind will mull over your first draft while you are distracted. When you come back, you will be amazed at how clear and decisive you are about what you want to say. 7. Edit/rewrite. • • • • • This is the single most important step in the whole procedure. Up until now your piece is probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. Now is the time to make it a 10! Ask yourself, "How can I make this 10 times better than it is right now?" Start by reading your copy all the way through out loud. Listen to how it sounds and make sure that it flows well and makes sense. Next, go back through and make revisions to your content. Then, read it through out loud again. Does it flow well? Does it meet the objective you had in mind when you began? If yes, move on to the next step. If it does not, repeat the previous step. Lastly, proofread your content. Skim through and look for spelling and grammar mistakes. Make those final corrections and you are finished. Well done! That's it. You now have your first piece of content, and it is ready to go. Chapter Fourteen -‐ Online Marketing -‐The Works If your company is going to succeed in the online marketplace, you must have a sound online marketing strategy. We touched on this marketing strategy previously, but now we will look at the engines that will drive your marketing machine. Being present and active with these online marketing tools means you can get your message out there daily and secure product placement for your goods. To do this takes time and money. But you’ll want to spend that time and money as you need to have control of the social conversations related to your business. Let’s take the time now to discuss how you will connect, communicate and convert with your online business’s marketing plan. Email Marketing Growing your email list over time with loyal customers is the best way to sustain repeat business. Make sure you capture emails in a legal way and that your data is in line with data protection laws. Pros -‐ It s quick, inexpensive and direct. Cons -‐ You need a clear strategy to make it work. You’re email content will need a strong calls to action and dynamic headlines. Blogs A blog is a superb way to engage your customers and link back to your site to drive traffic to your products and close sales. Pros – Blog posts are a great way to personalise you and your business. A blog is also a good way to provide regular content – both for the search engines and your customers. Cons -‐ Blogs require feeding! You need to update your blog with posts on a regular basis. I make it a point to write 2 blog posts per week. Facebook If you had the chance to gather all your customers into one bar for a quick drink would you do it? Well Facebook is that golden opportunity to bring your community together in one online location. Keep the conversation real, valuable and relevant to your business and target market. If you do this, your customers will "like" your content, comment on your posts, share your posts with their friends and become word-‐ of-‐mouth marketers for your business. Pros – Helps you build a relationship with customers and prospects. Your Facebook fans will gladly share your content when it is engaging and valuable. This helps your business content, services and products spread virally online. Cons -‐ You must have a customer relations plan in place to deal negative comments and the spreading of those negative comments before they hurt your business’s reputation. You also must spend time interacting with your fans and providing them with truly valuable content – not just sales pitches. Twitter Using Twitter is like tossing a pebble into a pond and watching how far the ripples reach out. When you tweet about your product, you have no idea how far and how wide that it will reach! Pros -‐ Twitter is great for delivering quick, short responses. It also allows you to join in the conversation and network with customers and other businesses. Cons -‐ Word spreads fast! Be careful what you tweet about! Twitter has its own vocabulary and etiquette which can take a little time to learn. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #14 One of the best tips I can share with you regarding online marketing is to repurpose your content. Take a blog post, pull a few important points from the content and use these as multiple Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. When you do this, make sure to provide a link to the complete post which will drive traffic back to your site. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #15 Another way to save time and energy while spreading your marketing message and content far and wide, is to use software to automate your posts and then to share those posts across multiple social networks. Be careful when you do this as each social network has its own set of established etiquette that its users expect. For example, a Facebook post full of Twitter hashtags is a big no-‐no when it comes to your fans and social media content. Adding Paid Marketing Promotion to Your Strategy Once your business is established and you have monthly income to add to an advertising budget, you can also investigate the following online marketing strategies. PPC -‐ pay per click advertising. Google Adwords is a good place to start. Social Network Ads – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide targeted advertising options. Depending on your goals, you can choose per-‐click and per-‐impression options. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – There are many agencies that help optimise your website for search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo by helping you use the correct keywords and with keyword placement. Affiliate Marketing-‐ You can think of affiliate marketing as having your own online sales team. You will pay a commission for other websites which deliver sales to your business. A Final Note Make sure that you always comply with relevant digital legislation no matter which marketing method you choose to use. Chapter Fifteen -‐ Offline Marketing -‐Does it Still Work? Your website is your virtual online shopfront, but you still need real, offline customers to keep your shopfront open! With that being said, I recommend using offline marketing along with online marketing. When I deliver workshops on "How to Get Online from Scratch" I print off ebooks and hand them out to potential customers so that they can use them as workbooks and implement the strategies and tools I recommend. This way my customers get value and I get product placement. When these individuals come back for more advice, I have a genuine potential client who is informed about what I can do for them. It is a win-‐win for both of us! Direct Mail Snail mail is not dead! Direct mail includes any type of marketing/advertising items you send out by regular post with a clear call to action for the potential reader. Pros: Wide variety of options (brochures, postcards, fliers, etc.), that are controlled, targeted and measurable. Cons: Design and a printing can be expensive. So, you always need to evaluate the outcome to make sure you are getting a good return on investment. Radio Advertising Running ads on the radio is a good way to expose your business to new, potential customers. Come up with a creative way to entice listeners to visit your website once they turn off their radio. Pros: Ads can be targeted, localised and aired at the appropriate time for your selected audience. Cons: Can be difficult to assess the success of your ads. Try using promotional codes to track the performance of your ad campaign. Press Advertising Ads in local or national papers are sold by size, can be expensive and are do not have a simple, easy way to assess the outcome of your ad campaign. In my personal experience, I have never had any sales or attendees for a workshop from paper ads. Unlike online advertising where your prospects can click straight through to your sales page, you cannot click a link to a sales page in the paper. As a beginning business owner with not much capital, I would focus more on other advertising methods. And at the risk of boring you… Remember, it’s all about baby steps when it comes to advertising and marketing. If at first you don't succeed, try again and again and again! Always track and review the results of your advertising campaigns. If your advertising is getting no response, tweak it, adjust and try again. Never Give Up! Chapter Sixteen – The Bottom Line: Finances and Finding Money Remember what we discussed earlier. When you are just starting out, you need to face the business world with complete confidence and an unwavering belief in your product. This will not only be important as far as your customers are concerned. It will also be important if/when you need to seek capital from outside sources. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #16 If you are not a numbers person, then find someone who is and ask them to look at your business plan. Have them review your financial figures and financial projections. And just as important – listen to what they tell you. In order to succeed, your business idea and the money needed to operate that business must both be hand in hand. In other words, there is no point in trying to make a single sale before you have done a complete financial forecast. Money dictates the terms of your business. Your actual finances and financial projections are facts that you need to know – ones you cannot ignore – in order to move forward with your business idea. Your Financials – Important Points to Remember 1. You need a two-‐year financial plan. This should include your Profit and Loss (P&L) account and your 24-‐month cash flow forecast. 2. Cash is king! Never forget that fact. 3. Salary – “What salary?” you ask. Well, if you cannot pay a salary to yourself, then you are not making money. Deducing your salary is easy. Here’s how to do it. Sales – Costs = Profit (From the profit, comes your salary.) You really need good financial advice as you grow. Make sure you have an accountant and advisor who understand your business thoroughly. But there are other skills and concepts you should learn in order to have a better understanding of your financial situation. At a minimum those include: • • • • Acquire spreadsheet skills and become proficient at Excel which is invaluable for projections and forecasts. Establish your start-‐up costs, double that number and double it again. Establish your revenues. Your prices need to cover your costs and give you a salary so take time to work it out. You need your Profit and Loss Forecast for a 2-‐year period. • • The Cash Flow Forecast – Remember, cash is your ruling master and king. Record your results and keep a reality check on the P & L and Cash Flow spreadsheet. Once you have taken the time to do your cash flow forecast and 2-‐year plan, you will have a financial picture and plan of where you are heading. It is not a doddle, but it is doable! Now for the tricky bit called…funding! It is unlikely that your business will make a profit initially. You will need the funds to get started and to continue until you build a steady revenue stream. Here are some areas where you could seek funding. Bank Business Loan In spite of the current economic climate, business funding is still available. But remember, your business plan and financial forecasts will be scrutinized when seeking funding. If you want to be seriously considered for a business loan, you must complete all the steps mentioned earlier in this eBook and have your paperwork and calculations in order. You will also need a business plan which we discuss in the next chapter. If you are knowledgeable, informed and professional; you are far more likely to be successful in gaining approval. Government Grant Grants are a good way to fund your business. Check out all options and apply for as many as feasible. Again, good preparation and honest figures will be of a distinct advantage when applying. Applying for grants can also be a bit tricky and time-‐consuming. This might be a good time to consider outsourcing and turning your grant writing over to a skilled professional. Family Investment Only accept funding from family if they can afford to lose it! Receiving capital in the form of a family loan can be tricky and damage relationships. Beware of the emotional implications and consider giving them a share in the business. Venture Capital and Angel Investment With these two forms of investment funding -‐ known as equity financing -‐ you exchange a percentage of your business for cash. These types of agreements can be time consuming to set up and you could lose control of your company. Do not jump into an agreement lightly. Seek legal and accounting advice before signing the dotted line. Finally -‐ Don’t be afraid of money. It is there to work for you. Here’s one of my favourite quotes from Benjamin Franklin. "If you empty your purse into your head, you cannot lose it, and investment in knowledge pays the best dividend.” Chapter Seventeen -‐ Quit the Day Job? Quitting the day job is like making a decision to get an office. There is a fine balance between foolhardiness and giving your business wings by giving it your full attention. But remember, if you give it your full attention, it will become more than an expensive hobby. Quitting your day job to focus on your business means you have to work hard. And when you are exhausted and drained from the hard work, you then have to summon the willpower to work harder! Remember, the key to success is yours only if you have the determination to keep going and keep working harder. If you snooze, you’re going to lose! Hard work balances out advantage, privilege, and even intelligence. It is the one piece of the each of us possesses. It is time to quit the day job when you know you can take an income from your new venture to cover your personal expenditures consistently. I always recommend that you "get your ducks in a row" from the beginning. By that, I mean you must get your basics and paperwork established correctly before moving forward. Always get financial advice from an accountant and register your company correctly. Setting up a business is the easy part. Getting your first sale is the challenge! With that in mind, let’s discuss the business plan! You've got the basics established. Now you need the nuts and bolts! Don't let the idea of putting together a business plan overwhelm you. Just take it one step at a time. Let’s start out with a few bullets points. Ask yourself… • The opportunity – What is the idea/product/service? • The Market – Why is your idea/product needed? • The Competition -‐ Who else is in the space? Guess what? You should already have the answer to those questions if you have been following through with the steps in this eBook. You see, your hard work is already paying off! Your business plan needs to include the following: • • • • • • • A detailed description of the business opportunity. The market conditions and a review of the competition. Your marketing and sales strategy. Your team and all of their credentials. Your modus operandi (i.e. where will you work from and what kind of facilities are required) Your realistic financial forecasts. Your timing for a rollout plan over the next 12 months. And once again, because you have put in the work, answered questions, researched and followed every step in this course – coming up with those business plan requirements will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s a brief guide to help you write the plan. Seven necessary rules for writing your business plan. • • • • • • • Keep it interesting with a shocker headline and then, fill in the details. Never lie – always stick to the facts. Make the business plan your own even when using a template. Give the plan a structure and logical sequence. Back up your plan with research and facts. Illustrate the financial viability of your business (money talks!). Include a one-‐page executive summary (think elevator pitch) in the beginning to grab your readers/investors and get them excited about your business. Kitchen-‐Table Tip #17 Don’t continue to write and rewrite your business plan in attempt to make it perfect. This is just another form of procrastination. Put it on paper and put that plan in action. Your business plan is a living document that will change form over time. But that will only happen if you first take action and create your business! When you follow your business plan, your business will have a better chance of success. And that success, well, that success leads to your opportunity to quit your day job. Chapter Eighteen – It’s a Wrap! We’re here. Together, we have covered all stages of setting up your own home-‐based business. We have looked at the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1. Make Money Fast From Home 2. Do You Really Have an Idea for a Business? 3. Standing Out from the Crowd and Competing with the Best 4. Money, Money, Money: Do You Want to Make Money ? 5. Prosper and Grow: Take the Expansion Test 6. Research, Research, and Research: But When You Think You Know it all -‐ Research Again! 7. From Zero to Hero 8. Build A Brand to Succeed in Business 9. To Outsource or Not to Outsource (It’s Really Not a Question) 10. The Virtual Shopfront 11. Confidence, Self-‐Belief and Customer-‐First Service 12. Create Marketing that Caters to Your Customers 13. Write Compelling Copywriting in Seven Easy Steps 14. Online Marketing -‐The Works 15. Offline Marketing -‐Does it Still Work? 16.The Bottom Line: Finances and Finding Money 17. Quit the Day Job? 18. It’s a Wrap! Each chapter looked at the research, planning and forethought that go into every stage of growing and nurturing your own business from scratch. Remember, I’m on my 3rd start-‐up business. I started each from scratch with absolutely no financing. I don’t want to hear excuses about how daunting or impossible it seems. It’s not. Starting your own business is just plain, hard work and commitment. When you love what you do, you’ll work 16/17 hours a day -‐ each and every day -‐ and not consider it work at all. So if you really want to be a self-‐employed entrepreneur, go ahead and abandon all hope of normal working hours. But here’s the kicker -‐ it pays off in the end. I promise! Please get in touch with our team if you have any questions or issues you need help with and we will be only too happy to share and help you out! If you want to get stuck in today, check out our training video here. And remember, from here forward, take a baby step EVERY DAY!
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