You’ve narrowed down your unique business idea and now you’re getting excited at all the possibilities. If you’re currently employed, one of the first questions you may be asking yourself around now is…
The most important facet when embracing entrepreneurship is to avoid “all or nothing” thinking. Specifically don’t assume your choice is to either quit your day job or stay there forever, assembling your new business in painfully slow nibbles. There are always alternatives, so consider every scenario; and then go with your “gut” combined with factual data you’ve gleaned in making the final decision that’s right for you. If you already have a job, make that current security work for you: Take your time to build up your online credibility and reputation. Iron out glitches in your process or products. Present test runs to a small, closed market first (e.g. your forum). If your biz is going to be service-based, make sure you can handle one client before taking on six. Just make sure the job doesn’t become an excuse for pottering rather than forging ahead with your online business plans. This Module should help you avoid that by helping you plan your business flow. If you have the resources and the opportunity, by all means, take the plunge and serve notice, but what you want to avoid doing is quitting because you can’t take another minute of drudgery. (The exception to this would be a toxic workplace: The sooner you leave a toxic, abusive workplace where you are not respected, the better!) Remember that your local government or business organizations may have start-up help, programs and information for new entrepreneurs, so check that out with your local employment office, small business development office and your local reference librarian (as well as online, of course!) And in the spirit of avoiding all-or-nothing thinking, don’t assume it’s going to have to be a choice between either quitting your job or staying on full-time and never starting your business idea: Consider “third alternatives” such as whether or not your boss or company might be amenable to cutting your hours to part time; or allow you to job share with someone on staff who wants more hours.
But what if you don’t currently have a job? What if you’re desperate to make money right now, because you’ve just been let go . . . or you’re discovering that old age pension just doesn’t cut it when you still have two years of mortgage left to pay . . . or you keep getting turned down for a disability pension but can’t leave your house . . . or your entire line of work has just been made obsolete?
(This model simulates a job, in other words!) Avoid relying solely at the beginning on businesses such as niche blogging or affiliate marketing, which can be time-consuming and slow growing (unless you are keeping your day job; in which case a slow-growing affiliate model is ideal). Look for a service business idea based on skills, strengths and assets you already have and offer your services – online.
Avoid relying solely at the beginning on businesses such as niche blogging or affiliate marketing, which can be time-consuming and slow growing (unless you are keeping your day job; in which case a slow-growing affiliate model is ideal). Look for a service business idea based on skills, strengths and assets you already have and offer your services – onlineFor example:
And even if you’re not ready to properly launch your business, remember to browse directories such as Elance, oDesk and Guru.com to mine valuable clues as to:
(Just remember the big, online job boards usually display the low end of the scale, when it comes to project postings. But they are a way to get started) Another totally under-used resource for finding quality projects and clients: LinkedIn. So be sure to sign up for this social network, create a profile seasoned with keyword you want people to find (e.g. “shopping cart assistant,” if you specialize in shopping cart set up). Join groups containing likely clients. Upload a professional headshot, as well as a resume calculated to appeal to your potential clients. And most of all, check your job recommendations daily. So let’s get started planning your ideal business . . .
We’ve spoken about getting quick cash in – and that can be a good strategy regardless of where you are in your planning. If you already have a viable skill – whether or not you want to build your whole online economy around it – by all means, go ahead and start making money. (We’ll get into that in more depth during Module 3: “Business Models and Systems for Consistent Growth & Income.”) But without a plan to change this model down the road, don’t ever think that’s an online economy or business – it’s just a job. Entrepreneurs . . .
If you catching yourself saying “I don’t . . .” and “I can’t . . .” a lot, you’re not in the right entrepreneurial head space. Switch those negatives to “How . . .” questions, and you’ll notice a difference in your mood and thinking. Often it’s a matter of simply getting into the habit of changing your “script” – the value-based statements you may be mimicking from parents and grandparents. For example, if you constantly heard your mother say things like “we can’t afford that,” you may be stuck in a “can’t afford” mentality. You’ll respond to challenges like squeezing out twenty dollars a month for your vital Autoresponder service with fatalism and gloom. (If you find yourself saying “if only I had . . .” a lot, it’s likely you’re a victim to this way of thinking too.) Changing the question to: “How can I create twenty dollars a month for an Autoresponder” allows you to creatively look for solutions. You’ll end up seeing problems like this as stimulating challenges, rather than, well, problems.Before you know it you’re:
That’s entrepreneurial thinking. That’s the way true entrepreneurs tackle things.
Re-examine everything. Do this with your business model now. For example . . .
Daydreaming your business model against your goals or dreams serves a vitally important purpose: It helps you run a Reality Check to see whether or not your business model is going to get you where you want to go. (You have to envision it, before you can create it!) If you only need to make $3,600 a month to pay off the last of your mortgage and save up for an annual vacation, running a single-person business might be an option you prefer. But if you want that thousand-acre horse farm with a custom arena and a horse spa in five years – better plan BIG! (Now!) Even if you need to “start small” until you become known and sought after, don’t “think small” about what you need to charge. There are formulae you can apply to make sure you’re getting a good return on your investment, if you plan to create products. And if you’re business is service-based, make sure you set your regular rates realistically and competitively – don’t set them so low, there’s no reasonable way to bring them up, once you’ve “hooked” a client or two. Those $10 graphic header specials you’re running now, just to reap quick cash? Make sure you know how this strategy fits into your overall business plan before you set it up. This allows you to plan for expansion by adding conditions or options to your “quick cash” strategy that won’t leave you “stuck” with it as a business model.
If you fail to have an overall picture of your dream business in place, you are likely to unwittingly set up conditions that will limit you when you try to branch out or kick up your game in the future. For example, if you set up a “$10 Graphic Header Special”, people are likely to always expect graphic headers from at $10 – even when you’ve expanded to outsource part of your graphics creation. So make sure you’ve thought of how your quick cash strategy will affect your overall:-Reputation-Business Model-ImageIntroductory offers are a great way to break the ice and jump in the pool with your competitors and potential customers alike – but only if they are part of your overall plan. There are plenty of tactics you can initially use to attract clients even if you’re brand new to the online marketplace. We’ll take a look at these in Module 4: “Marketing Strategies to Attract Your Targeted Clients & Customers”.
Even if all you want to do is churn out $900 worth of copy for clients per week or bring in $800 per week as a blog designer for no more than one or two clients at a time, you’re literally throwing money out the window if you don’t add at least one stream of passive income to boost your earnings
When you work for yourself – especially when you haven’t got to the stage of outsourcing – it can be disastrous if you suddenly get sick and can’t work for six weeks. You either want two or three more VAs or copywriters in the wings, if you’re a VA or copywriter yourself… or you want another stream of income quietly dumping regular amounts of cash into your PayPal account or Amazon account. (Preferably more than one stream.)
Inother words, you will receive a nice little (or big) check every month… without having to do more than a few hours’ work.
But if you ever hope to create a whole economy for yourself and dominate the market, you need to plan for passive income – even if you don’t yet know what that will be. (In our next webinar Module 3: “Business Models and Systems for Consistent Growth & Income”, we’ll explore this subject in more detail.)
Finally, don’t expect to do all this on your own. Oh, you can… but it will take you five times as long to learn everything you need to learn; and you will almost certainly make more mistakes as you struggle to assimilate new information. As soon as your business is up and running, and you’ve had some results (good or bad), look for a business coach.If you really can’t afford a coach that specializes in your niche, look for mentors among your peers: Join a dedicated forum dealing with online marketing – preferably zeroing in on your niche; or a membership site on online entrepreneurship.There are even top-quality free forums you can learn a lot from. Of course, they usually offer “silver,” “gold” and sometimes “platinum” levels where the attention is more personalized and the resources extra high value… but if you’re strapped for cash, start with the “free” forum and graduate to a paid version once the money is coming in. The right business coach or mentor can help your business (and you) blossom and grow in ways you may never have dreamed of.(Be sure to ask your online peers to refer other resources and forums – potential online income is such a huge pie that there are plenty of unique, perfectly-designed pieces for everyone; and most of your peers will be only too glad to help you find yours.)
If you are planning to sell goods or add passive income from digital products to your services, you will need to create a Sales Funnel, rather than treating each new offering as a completely separate entity with no relation to any other past or future products. A Sales Funnel should be planned to achieve specific purposes at specific stages. Its ultimate objective is to attract new subscribers and turn them into loyal, repeat customers for the life cycle of your business. Each offering (product) builds on the previous one. A hypothetical example is available in Start and Grow Your Own Business courses -Module 2.
Take as long as you like to let your business plans and lifestyle goals gel in your mind. Talk them over with trusted friends or relatives – ones that you know won’t shoot you down and try to persuade you to go take that nice job at the bank. Who do you share your dreams with? (Hint: Someone not tied to you financially will be more objective and less inclined to transpose their own fears and goals onto you. And that’s why joining a mastermind-type forum that is filled with business peers – not competitors – would be a good place to “hang out”. You’ll find feedback important at various stages of your business life – but know you always have the option of saying “that’s not what I want to do” or “that’s your dream; not mine”, when people try to argue you out of thinking big. Listen to those you trust – often simply having that conversation will spark new ideas that work even better. Others who are not hooked into your dream can look at it with fresh eyes, pointing out roadblocks you may not have anticipated through your rosy glasses – or pointing out fresh opportunities.
But it’s true that out of the millions of online business start-ups per year, a huge majority fizzle out, fail, stall or get totally derailed. How can you avoid this? You may think yourself more dedicated than this wimpy group, but unless you avoid common pitfalls, you may end up by the wayside too. Here are the most common mistakes likely to trip new online entrepreneurs up:
More mistakes are discussed in the Start and Grow Your Own Business guide. More info on this guide later.
Another mistake single entrepreneurs make, not often talked about, is failing to set up a separate business bank account. All part of not familiarizing yourself with the basics of small business operation and still thinking “like an employee.” If you live in the United States, know that Internal Revenue demands a dedicated account. When should you set it up? Ideally before you start your business. Check out the bank fees with your usual bank first – if you have an existing account, you may be eligible for lesser fees (or even no fees). Credit unions also offer lower rates but whatever you do – shop around for the best deal. You’re planning to “go big” one day, so don’t put this step off. Get into the habits of keeping good financial records (and as soon as it makes sense to do so, hire a bookkeeper!)
Once you’ve decided on your business, it will be important to pick a name that makes people instantly think of either who you are, what you sell and/or what you do. Register your own name as a domain if you can; tack an extra descriptive word onto it if it’s already taken. For example, if “annsmith.com” is already taken and are planning to run a paper quilling empire, register “annsmithcrafts.com”. For your current, specific business, if it’s based on a product, especially one you want to brand, register it as “yourproductname.com”.
Other important points about creating a business identity: You do need to provide contact details on your site – and nothing is more reassuring than a physical phone number and address. (In fact, if you are buying goods from wholesalers or drop shippers, this may be required.) Box numbers are generally considered suspicious, especially by suppliers. If you’re using one to preserve your family privacy, providing a phone number along with the box number goes some way to alleviating suspicion; particularly if you’re up front about your name and provide at least a headshot of yourself on your “About” page. Your dedicated bank account will also help to establish a strong business identity. And you can use the credit card that usually comes with a business bank account for all your business-related purchases and monthly payments.There are a few more basics of small business operation included in our Start and Grow Your Own Business guide.
This concludes our webinar. To recap, in step one we did a reality check to see if the business we daydream about lines up with our business model.Step Two: Planning for Additional Streams of IncomStep Three: Plan to Invest in Coaching or Mentoring for YourselfFeedback and Gel TimeEight Mistakes You Never Want to MakeYour Business FinancesYour Business TypeYour Business Identity
Module 2 - Start and Grow Your Own Business Webinar
Rita J. Cartwright, Founder RJ’s Internet Marketing ServicesStart and Grow Your Own BusinessModule 2: Planning Your Ideal Business
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness“Should I Quit My Day Job?”
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness“But I Need Money NOW!” In that case, you need to look for a business model that: You have already mastered and have the skills to perform . . . or one that you can learn quickly
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Generates immediate cash
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Copywriter Virtual Assistant specialist in an area starving for good ones. (E.G. Shopping Cart management, Autoresponder management, Project management)
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Graphics creator (creating buttons, blog headers, contact form graphics, etc.)
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness What you can do What you should be doing What you need, in order to start up professionally and effectively
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness How much people want to pay How much you can command at your level of skill and expertise
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessSTEP ONE: REALITY CHECK!
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Don’t say “but I don’t have twenty dollars a month for an Autoresponder service”. They say: “Hmm…How do I get an Autoresponder right now?”
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Don’t think within the confines of rigid, narrow boxes: (They leave that to born employees.) Habitually step right outside and look at the boxes from all angles – inside and out.
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Researching free Autoresponders, to see if they’ll do the trick Considering whether or not it’s worth giving up cream in your coffee to put in your Autoresponder fund (after you realize at the rate you drink coffee, you could easily free up twenty dollars a month!)
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Researching various reputable Autoresponder companies – and discovering that most of them have one-month free trials. This allows you to set a goal of making at least $20 the first month to cover your next month’s fee completely.
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness You want to be a virtual assistant. There are only so many hours in the day and one of you: Are you setting yourself up for just another job?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Is yet another job with limited, one- track responsibilities what you want . . . or would you like to be a business owner, rather than your own employee?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Visualize yourself with a fleet of VAs, further down the road. Does this feel right or is it too intimidating?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Do you think you could grow into this thought if you took it one step at a time and acquired the skills you need? Or are you happy just serving clients yourself and making a smaller sum per week?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness How does your business model fit in with your dreams? Your goals? Will you expand your business by outsourcing tasks you don’t do as well?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Outsource tasks you don’t do at all, just so you can offer them? Will you hire more VAs or just outsource tasks to make your own specialized skill time stretch further?
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Reputation Business model Image
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness $900 worth of copy for clients per week $800 per week as a blog designer
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Two or three more VAs or copywriters Another stream of income
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness What is “passive” income? It’s an income-generation system you set in place that keeps perpetuating itself once it’s properly set up and running.
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Unless you’re generating it anonymously or under a “pen” name, keep your passive income stream related to your main business model, so that it supports and grows that main model.
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessSTEP THREE: PLAN TO INVESTIN COACHING OR MENTORINGFOR YOURSELF
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Join a dedicated forum dealing with online marketing or a membership site on online entrepreneurship. Top-quality free forums
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessSTEP FOUR: YOUR SALESFUNNEL
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Create a Sales Funnel A Sales Funnel should be planned to achieve specific purposes at specific stages. Each offering (product) builds on the previous one.
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessFEEDBACK AND GEL TIME
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Who do you share your dreams with? Joining a mastermind-type forum Listen to those you trust
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessEIGHT MISTAKES YOU NEVERWANT TO MAKE
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness1. Not performing adequate research into (a) the business idea (b) the potential market2. Not identifying your target customer specifically enough
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness3. Not making a business plan – even a rough outline4. Not learning inflexible basics for your business model – such as local laws you need to observe, paperwork to be done, fees to be paid, restrictions for your business model
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessYOUR BUSINESS FINANCES
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Failing to set up a separate business bank account Internal Revenue demands a dedicated account Hire a bookkeeper
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessYOUR BUSINESS TYPE
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Sole Proprietorship Basic types of business structures Legal forms you need to display on your site Tax ID or EIN (Employer Identification Number)
Module 2: Planning Your Ideal BusinessYOUR BUSINESS IDENTITY
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness Who you are What you sell What you do Register your own name as a domain
Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness To provide contact details on your site Box numbers are generally considered suspicious Dedicated bank account
Start and Grow Your Own BusinessIf you’ve been in business for three (3) years or less, then this isa must have 4-modules course on Start and Grow Your OwnBusiness.Each module contains brainstorming worksheets and homeworkassignments. Pick up your copy athttp://rjsinternetmarketing.com/startandgrowbiz.htmlfor only $37.
Start and Grow Your Own Business Q&A Rita J. Cartwright, FounderRJ’s Internet Marketing Services