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Starting A Small Business...brick & mortar info

Business Plan Info

How to Start a Business Online - from entrepreneur

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with email.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Step 1: Find a need and fill it.

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they're trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they're doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you've learned and create a product for a market that already exists--and do it better than the competition.

Related: 8 Great Time-Tracking Apps for Freelancers

Step 2: Write copy that sells.

There's a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:

  1. Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
  2. Describe the problem your product solves.
  3. Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
  4. Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
  5. Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Make a strong guarantee.
  8. Create urgency.
  9. Ask for the sale.

Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people's problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask "What's in it for me?"

Related Book: Write Your Business Plan by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Step 3: Design and build your website.

Once you've got your market and product, and you've nailed down your selling process, now you're ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone's attention--otherwise they're gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
  • Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
  • Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
  • Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
  • Make it easy to buy--no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
  • Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.

Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising by Richard Stokes

Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself.

People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you'll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information. 

  • Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
  • Include "send to a friend" links on valuable content on your website.
  • Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

You'll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.

Related Book: No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula

Step 6: Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers.

When you build an opt-in list, you're creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them email. That means:

  • You're giving them something they've asked for.
  • You're developing lifetime relationships with them.
  • The response is 100 percent measurable.
  • Email marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it's highly targeted.

Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there's no better tool than email for following up with those leads.

Related Offer: Get a 60-day free trial to email marketing platform Constant Contact.

Step 7: Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer's lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part--not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again:

  • Offer products that complement their original purchase.
  • Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
  • Offer related products on your "Thank You" page after they purchase.

Reward your customers for their loyalty and they'll become even more loyal.

Related Book: No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention by Dan S. Kennedy and Shaun Buck

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.

 

 

How to Start a Business Online - from entrepreneur

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with email.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Step 1: Find a need and fill it.

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they're trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research to find keywords that a lot of people are searching, but for which not many sites are competing.
  • Check out your potential competitors by visiting their sites and taking note of what they're doing to fill the demand. Then you can use what you've learned and create a product for a market that already exists--and do it better than the competition.

Related: 8 Great Time-Tracking Apps for Freelancers

Step 2: Write copy that sells.

There's a proven sales copy formula that takes visitors through the selling process from the moment they arrive to the moment they make a purchase:

  1. Arouse interest with a compelling headline.
  2. Describe the problem your product solves.
  3. Establish your credibility as a solver of this problem.
  4. Add testimonials from people who have used your product.
  5. Talk about the product and how it benefits the user.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Make a strong guarantee.
  8. Create urgency.
  9. Ask for the sale.

Throughout your copy, you need to focus on how your product or service is uniquely able solve people's problems or make their lives better. Think like a customer and ask "What's in it for me?"

Related Book: Write Your Business Plan by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Step 3: Design and build your website.

Once you've got your market and product, and you've nailed down your selling process, now you're ready for your small-business web design. Remember to keep it simple. You have fewer than five seconds to grab someone's attention--otherwise they're gone, never to be seen again. Some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose one or two plain fonts on a white background.
  • Make your navigation clear and simple, and the same on every page.
  • Only use graphics, audio or video if they enhance your message.
  • Include an opt-in offer so you can collect e-mail addresses.
  • Make it easy to buy--no more than two clicks between potential customer and checkout.
  • Your website is your online storefront, so make it customer-friendly.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Step 4: Use search engines to drive targeted buyers to your site.

Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising by Richard Stokes

Step 5: Establish an expert reputation for yourself.

People use the internet to find information. Provide that information for free to other sites, and you'll see more traffic and better search engine rankings. The secret is to always include a link to your site with each tidbit of information. 

  • Give away free, expert content. Create articles, videos or any other content that people will find useful. Distribute that content through online article directories or social media sites.
  • Include "send to a friend" links on valuable content on your website.
  • Become an active expert in industry forums and social networking sites where your target market hangs out.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

You'll reach new readers. But even better, every site that posts your content will link back to yours. Search engines love links from relevant sites and will reward you in the rankings.

Related Book: No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing by Dan S. Kennedy and Matt Zagula

Step 6: Use the power of email marketing to turn visitors into buyers.

When you build an opt-in list, you're creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them email. That means:

  • You're giving them something they've asked for.
  • You're developing lifetime relationships with them.
  • The response is 100 percent measurable.
  • Email marketing is cheaper and more effective than print, TV or radio because it's highly targeted.

Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there's no better tool than email for following up with those leads.

Related Offer: Get a 60-day free trial to email marketing platform Constant Contact.

Step 7: Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

One of the most important internet marketing strategies is to develop every customer's lifetime value. At least 36 percent of people who have purchased from you once will buy from you again if you follow up with them. Closing that first sale is by far the most difficult part--not to mention the most expensive. So use back-end selling and upselling to get them to buy again:

  • Offer products that complement their original purchase.
  • Send out electronic loyalty coupons they can redeem on their next visit.
  • Offer related products on your "Thank You" page after they purchase.

Reward your customers for their loyalty and they'll become even more loyal.

Related Book: No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention by Dan S. Kennedy and Shaun Buck

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven't changed at all. If you're just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you've been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there's a step you're neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can't go wrong with the basics.

 

Business Plan Questions

  1. Do you have a business plan? (if yes, is it updated?)
  2. What type of business is this?
  3. Have you identified your competitors?
  4. Are there any partners?
  5. What will be the legal description of your business?
  6. How much cash do you have available?
  7. Have you selected a location? Have you considered its proximity to your competitors?
  8. Have you selected your management team?
  9. Do you know what equipment is needed?
  10. Have you selected the equipment needed?
  11. Do you know the city, county or government requirements for operating this type of business?
  12. Have you considered your inventory requirements?
  13. How many locations will you have immediately?
  14. What are the requirements to operate this type of business? (educational, technical, etc.)
  15. Do you know how this type of business rates in the industry?
  16. Have you decided on the type of marketing and advertisement you will use?
  17. Do you know the minimum accounting requirements for your industry?
  18. What names were you considering?
  19. Have you done a fictitious name search with the state to see if these names were available?
  20. Have you researched the gross profits of this industry over the last two to three years? (if so, what other research have you done on your industry)
  21. Have you selected suppliers, wholesalers, vendors, etc.?
  22. Have you itemized your assets and liabilities?
  23. Have you outlined your source of revenue and marketing methods?
  24. Have you outlined your cost of doing business?
  25. Have you attended any business seminars in the last 60 days?, if not will you attend any business seminars in the next 60 days?

Section I

  • Legal description of your business?
  • How many locations do you presently have, do you plan to have any additional locations?
  • Where is your main location/Satellite Location?
  • Describe your product or service?
  • What stage is your business in (startup, expansion, growth)?
  • When were you officially open for business?
  • How did you get started in the business?
  • What made you decide to go into this type of business?
  • Describe your qualifications to run this business
  • What is the name of your accountant, attorney, bank?, if n/a, how do you handles these functions?
  • What type of marketing avenues and tools are you currently using?
  • What type of marketing avenues and tool do you plan on using in the future?
  • How many employees do you currently have?
  • Are they full time, independent contractors, subcontractors, etc.?, What are there job descriptions?
  • How long have they been with the company?
  • What are the salaries of your employees?
  • Do you have a training program for your new employees?, existing employees
  • How do you obtain new employees?
  • How many do you plan to add in the future?, What will there positions be?
  • What are the qualifications for non laborer positioned employees?
  • Describe the "character" you want for your company
  • How many customers are you averaging a week/month?
  • Describe your mobilization?
  • How do you handle transportation and equipment failure emergencies?

Section II

  • Give me a brief summary of existing conditions in the business (the "state of the art" as it is now)
  • What types of clients uses your services?
  • Describe the projections and trends for the industry or business field
  • How are you different from your competition?

Section III

  • Describe your operating procedures
  • Are you currently using computers in your business
  • Who handles payroll?, how often are your pay periods?
  • How much inventory or supplies do you normally keep on hand?
  • How do you store and secure your inventory?
  • Are you using computers in your business?, if not are you planning on using computers in the future?
  • How are you using computers?
  • Do you have any of the following: company benefits, leave or maternity policy, retirement, profit sharing?

Section IV

  • What is the average costs for your service?
  • How does it compare with your competition?
  • What are your prices higher or lower than your competition?
  • How do you determine how much to charge a client?
  • How do you receive payment from your clients?
  • Do you give discounts to cash clients or net 10 day clients?
  • What percentage of each job is your average profit?

Section V

  • Describe the type and value of the equipment you have
  • Describe any equipment you will need in the immediate future
  • Is this the type of equipment your competitor uses?
  • Is your current equipment up to date with the technology?
  • If not, what do you need to be up to date?

Section VI

  • Describe the advantages your company has over the competition
  • Describe the special qualities of your product or service that make it unique
  • Describe your disadvantages
  • How will you address your disadvantages?
  • State your intended strategy for meeting competition

Section VII

  • State the long-range objectives and the short-range sub-objectives of your proposed business
  • Describe your day to day goals for the company

Section VIII

  • What are the licensing/certification/professional requirements for your type of business
  • Do you meet all of the requirements
  • Do you meet the minimum wage law
  • What are the minimum safety requirements for your industry? Do you meet them?
  • What are the insurance requirements?, Do you meet them?

Section IX

  • List any joint agreements you have with other companies
  • List some vendors that supply you with supplies tools, etc.

Section X

  • Summary of your proposed marketing method
  • Describe the market segment you're aiming to reach
  • What advertising avenues do you use? (retail, wholesale, distributors, mail order, or other)

Section XI

  • Describe the segment of the market you plan to reach
  • Describe the segment of the market you plan to reach in the future
  • Have you considered any international sales/marketing
  • Do you attend any trade shows, seminars, etc, related to your business, if not are you planning to?
  • What percentage of the market are you trying to reach?

Section XII

  • Describe in a technically accurate way how the product works or how the service is used
  • State briefly your concepts for follow-on (next generation) products or services

Section XIII

  • Do you have a credit policy?, if so describe, if not do you plan to establish one?
  • How do you evaluate the quality of your customers?
  • How do you handle bad debts, insufficient funds checks, etc.?
  • Do you ever use a collection agency?
  • How often do you follow up on bad debts?
  • What strategy will you use to decrease the amount of uncollectible or high risk customers?

Section XIV

  • Does the company have adequate insurance for business interruption, fidelity, fire?
  • What is your bondable limit?

Section XV

  • State the total capital you'll need and for what reason
  • Estimate when you think you'll be able to repay this amount
  • State how much profit you expect and when you expect to show it
  • Indicate the total capital you need and how it' to be made up:
  • State the dollars in sales you aim for in each of the first three years
  • State the estimated profit for each of the first three years

Section I

  • When were you officially open for business?
  • How did you get started in the business?
  • What made you decide to go into this type of business?
  • Describe your qualifications to run this business
  • What is the name of your accountant, attorney, bank?, if n/a, how do you handles these functions?
  • What type of marketing avenues and tools are you currently using?
  • What type of marketing avenues and tool do you plan on using in the future?
  • How many employees do you currently have?
  • Are they full time, independent contractors, subcontractors, etc.?, What are there job descriptions?
  • How long have they been with the company?
  • What are the salaries of your employees?
  • Do you have a training program for your new employees?, existing employees
  • How do you obtain new employees?
  • How many do you plan to add in the future?, What will there positions be?
  • What are the qualifications for non laborer positioned employees?
  • Describe the "character" you want for your company
  • How many customers are you averaging a week/month?
  • Describe your mobilization?
  • How do you handle transportation and equipment failure emergencies?

Section II

  • Give me a brief summary of existing conditions in the business (the "state of the art" as it is now)
  • What types of clients uses your services?
  • Describe the projections and trends for the industry or business field
  • How are you different from your competition?

Section III

  • Describe your operating procedures
  • Are you currently using computers in your business
  • Who handles payroll?, how often are your pay periods?
  • How much inventory or supplies do you normally keep on hand?
  • How do you store and secure your inventory?
  • Are you using computers in your business?, if not are you planning on using computers in the future?
  • How are you using computers?
  • Do you have any of the following: company benefits, leave or maternity policy, retirement, profit sharing?

Section IV

  • What is the average costs for your service?
  • How does it compare with your competition?
  • What are your prices higher or lower than your competition?
  • How do you determine how much to charge a client?
  • How do you receive payment from your clients?
  • Do you give discounts to cash clients or net 10 day clients?
  • What percentage of each job is your average profit?

Section V

  • Describe the type and value of the equipment you have
  • Describe any equipment you will need in the immediate future
  • Is this the type of equipment your competitor uses?
  • Is your current equipment up to date with the technology?
  • If not, what do you need to be up to date?

Section VI

  • Describe the advantages your company has over the competition
  • Describe the special qualities of your product or service that make it unique
  • Describe your disadvantages
  • How will you address your disadvantages?
  • State your intended strategy for meeting competition

Section VII

  • State the long-range objectives and the short-range sub-objectives of your proposed business
  • Describe your day to day goals for the company

Section VIII

  • What are the licensing/certification/professional requirements for your type of business
  • Do you meet all of the requirements
  • Do you meet the minimum wage law
  • What are the minimum safety requirements for your industry? Do you meet them?
  • What are the insurance requirements?, Do you meet them?

Section IX

  • List any joint agreements you have with other companies
  • List some vendors that supply you with supplies tools, etc.

Section X

  • Summary of your proposed marketing method
  • Describe the market segment you're aiming to reach
  • What advertising avenues do you use? (retail, wholesale, distributors, mail order, or other)

Section XI

  • Describe the segment of the market you plan to reach
  • Describe the segment of the market you plan to reach in the future
  • Have you considered any international sales/marketing
  • Do you attend any trade shows, seminars, etc, related to your business, if not are you planning to?
  • What percentage of the market are you trying to reach?

Section XII

  • Describe in a technically accurate way how the product works or how the service is used
  • State briefly your concepts for follow-on (next generation) products or services

Section XIII

  • Do you have a credit policy?, if so describe, if not do you plan to establish one?
  • How do you evaluate the quality of your customers?
  • How do you handle bad debts, insufficient funds checks, etc.?
  • Do you ever use a collection agency?
  • How often do you follow up on bad debts?
  • What strategy will you use to decrease the amount of uncollectible or high risk customers?

Section XIV

  • Does the company have adequate insurance for business interruption, fidelity, fire?
  • What is your bondable limit?

Section XV

  • State the total capital you'll need and for what reason
  • Estimate when you think you'll be able to repay this amount
  • State how much profit you expect and when you expect to show it
  • Indicate the total capital you need and how it' to be made up:
  • State the dollars in sales you aim for in each of the first three years
  • State the estimated profit for each of the first three years

 

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