Want To Become An Entrepreneur?

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to Market Your Business

So you got the greatest product/service the world has ever seen. This doesn’t really mean much if people don’t know it exists. Marketing is about getting exposure to your market and to attract customers. It is the driving force of a company’s revenue without it you will not succeed. Marketing takes many shapes and size whether it’s free or paid advertisement. Paid advertising can be cheap like a pay per click internet ad, a small newspaper ad or costs hundreds and thousands of dollars for television commercials or print ads in highly read publications. So it is important to budget your advertising especially when you are first starting out. Also take paid marketing slowly, you don’t want to drop big money on highly visible ads to find out the ad doesn’t work for your business or reaches the wrong audience. Marketing is very experimental when it comes to achieving desired results. Pick one or two marketing outlets feel it out and wait for the results. It’s best not to use too many outlets when first starting because it can be hard measure which ones are producing the best results and would benefit from extra attention or dollars. In the marketing industry the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. For example print ads; one or two words in the ad may not be connecting with your audience so they pass over the ad. Once the conflicting language is changed with more familiar words the difference in results can outstanding. So keep an open mind and experiment with it, then do more of the things that get the desired outcome. Depending on the type of business some marketing strategies are more effective and suitable than others but here is some ideas to get you going. 

·         Business Cards are a must. Print thousands of them and hand them out everywhere to new people you meet or friends. Be excited about your business and people will listen. Give them out even where there is no interest, this person may not be interested but probably knows someone who is. (Entrepreneur Media , 2013)

·         Networking is a great way to make a lot of sales. However it requires an outgoing person and someone who can sell. There are actually network clubs where business owners meet and solicit services and products to other business owners. This is a two street thing, help another business owner make a sale through your network and they’ll return they favor. Another place is camber of commerce and any place your target market may congregate. (Entrepreneur Media , 2013)

·         Car Decals advertise your business on your back windshield it’s low cost and gets great exposure. One of my personal favorites. 

·         Paid Advertising depending on budget and audience here are some places to consider newspapers, magazines, direct mail, radio, bus shelter, bill boards, elevators, restaurant bathrooms and the phone-book.

·         Company Website this is a must in today’s world no ifs ands or buts. Relatively low cost to buy a domain and design can be done yourself. If you want a fancier website you can hire someone to make your website standout.

·         Internet Free there is amazing potential for internet marketing for free you may want consider a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, replying to blogs on the same subject as your business with a link to your website and finally search engine optimization. SEO is free however requires lots of research and time but can be very effective imagine being in top 3 sites when someone types your business industry into Google. Many companies offer consulting for SEO I recommend still getting knowledgeable in the subject if that is the root you want to go. (Entrepreneur Media , 2013)

·         Internet Paid for this kind of service there are many possibilities. Pay per click is very popular because you can set a monthly a budget and once it’s reached your link is then removed for the rest of the month. Any high traffic site is a good place like Google, Yahoo, Msn and Facebook on these sites you can also set the demographic you want. So your ads will only show up for URLs registered in that area. (Entrepreneur Media , 2013)

I hope this has been a helpful post, feel free to leave a comment. 

How to Write a Business Plan

A businesses plan is an invaluable item for entrepreneur success.  Business plans are synonymous with start up business loan applications. This maybe the case but a business plan is more than a document to solicit funds forms banks and investors.  It is an entrepreneur’s road map to the realization of the actions required to achieve goals and dreams. Writing a business plan can be a daunting task but not so much as you may think. A business plan should be short, decisive and to the point not a novel. It’s more about quality then quantity.  A basic business plan states the company’s mission statement which is its ultimate goal. The product/service for sale and target market segment, then it accounts for currently available resources to the company and how they will be allocated to accomplish future objectives. Typically a business plan will forecast 3 to 5 years in advance and break down how the business will move from point A to point B.  For new entrepreneurs the process of writing a business’s plan will make you more knowledge in your industry and business in general as you research the required items.
Seven Items of a business plan

1.       Executive Summary
The executive summary is to be written last. It paraphrases key objectives, obstacles, weaknesses and strengths. This is short and sweet throughout the following pages of the business plan will you be able to reiterate in more detail. (Small Business BC, 2013)

2.       Company Description
The company description should cover the company’s vision and mission. The mission statement is why the company is existence today. It focuses on the individuality of the business. What makes this business unique form others in the same industry.  The vision statement is where the business plans to go. It takes its current position and defines the business’s plan to progress to another level. It explains why the business will exist in tomorrow’s market place.  Finally company ownership and structure should be described. (Small Business BC, 2013)

3.       Product or Service
The plan should out line in detail what is the company exchanging for revenue. Who is its target consumers and what special features or considerations have been taken in to account to differentiate form the competition? Where will the product be produced and how will it be distributed? Where will a service be provided, is it in the form of physical service or intellectual property? (Small Business BC, 2013)

4.       Market Analysis
Market analysis should produce size and growth of the market your business is in. Which demographics of people purchase your product or service? Who is the competition in the market place? Is your industry demand still growing or are companies competing for existing market share? Is the industry affected by outside sources and what are they? Who are your suppliers? (Small Business BC, 2013)

5.       Strategy and Implementation
Here is where a market segment is targeted and a marketing regime is described. How will you systematically reach your target audience and what marketing outlets will you be using? Is it social media, networking, trade shows, paid advertisement or word of mouth buzz marketing? Is your store online, retail or a wholesaler? For merchandising businesses describe inventory purchasing and loss prevention. For a service businesses focus on systems to produce same quality in all service outlets.(Small Business BC, 2013)

6.       Management Team
This is an overview of the daily operations of a business. Who calls the shots? A profile of the management would be an asset. What physical locations does the business operate? What online domains does the business own? Describe daily business activities and how management will keep the business system intact and running efficiently. (Small Business BC, 2013)

7.       Financial Plan
If the business is established past financial documents are recommended such as balance sheet, income statement and cash flow analysis. If the company is a startup give an exact number you are looking to get to fund the start up. What funding options would work best in your company’s structure? This is where it is important to quantify your company’s financial goals in terms of assets, revenue, margins and cash flow. A company budget is also mandatory to keep it on track. How much will you allocate to areas like marketing expenses, what are your current expenses, do you foresee an increase in future expenses and how might you reduce current expenses? (Small Business BC, 2013)

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog please comment and leave your feedback. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Selecting a Business

Selecting the exact kind of business you want to start can be difficult. There is an endless amount of potential possibilities. The market needs more of certain businesses and some industries are over saturated. In the future business industries that don’t exist today will be prominent and creative entrepreneurs will be at the forefront. One example is 3D printing, yes 3 dimensional printing. Still in its infancy stages and has great potential to become mainstream and revolutionize the manufacturing world. 3D printing outfits are starting to pop up as entrepreneurs rush in trying to capture a piece of the market.

Very revolutionary ideas are rare, innovation and vision is required. As well as unflagging belief of the idea from the entrepreneur to have others see their vision. Many opportunities wait in bettering humanity.  If you have a revolutionary you should defiantly act upon it. For most would be entrepreneurs capturing a piece of an existing market is more suitable. It is defiantly easier to capture a piece of an existing market then it is creating one. Also you can model your business after other successful businesses in the industry. You can then tailor your business to reflect your personality like whether you believe in being the best priced for example Wal-Mart or Hilton Hotel were customer service is the business plan.

Sticking with what you know is typically best. This maybe an industry you work in or have worked in.  Hobbies and interests also are great ideas. Why not get paid to be involved in something you enjoy.  If you enjoy your job you’ll never work a day in your life. Now not all hobbies/interests will have the potential to make you super rich but I guarantee you there is an opportunity to earn a decent living, you just have to be creative in capitalization. By decent living I mean pay the mortgage, send the kids to college feed the dog and live comfortably.

 Every single person has some area of expertise.  I am completely appealed when I talk to people that want to start a business and I ask what kind of business you are looking at starting. They respond with I don’t know yet, this is completely understandable they have an entrepreneurial spirit but haven’t zeroed in on something. Then I ask what subject are you knowledgeable in? Then they respond nothing. I can’t believe this, humans are creatures of habit doing something enough times makes you knowledgeable in that subject. Think about what you do a lot. For example it could be home maintenance, lawn care or building a deck many men do many around the household odd jobs. For women makeup, cooking, balancing a work life and family may be topics of expertise. Like I mentioned before you have be creative with capitalization.

Capitalization can take many forms creativity is king! In the early days of Facebook Zuckerberg made no money however was building equity in his brand name. Due to the large number of daily users of the site Facebook became a prime place for internet advertisement. Now one of Facebook’s largest revenue streams is pay per click advertisement on the site. The company now collects cents whenever a user clicks on side bar ad. Multiply that by the number of users of Facebook and Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world.

Just to give you some capitalization ideas for the examples I listed before are to write a book, then use the book to market a monthly newsletter where you sell your insights for a cheap monthly subscription price. Say $10 multiple that 1000 subscribers then you’re making $120,000 a year. Not to mention the profits off the book this could be used to help advertising costs. The 1000 subscribers is nothing when you think of all the advertising outlets available and the population of the world. As the world becomes more internet based people will feel more comfortable buying of the web.  Also you can participate in affiliate based marketing where on your website and depending on traffic you get paid per click for advertisements. If this is a topic of interest it will be easy and enjoyable to educate your audience.  To further the advertisement for the newsletter and cover more advertisement costs a handy man could offer his services out in the local demographic, promote face to face. For women looking for a new hair style, make up style, falling behind on work or family. Charge a small consulting fee then recommend your newsletter.

I hope you got something form this post. I favor internet businesses for 2 reasons, I feel they are the way of the future as its becoming more familiar and it’s a great leverage of time. Through the internet you can reach a large audience after the ground work aka marketing streams have been laid. Please comment and give me your feedback. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Essential Skills of Entrepreneurs

When first starting your own business it is best to start slow, don’t quit your day job. Most entrepreneurs don’t have an excess of capital to fund their ventures and the luxury to forgo a secured income. Many people have the vision that they want to entrepreneur but have no idea of what kind of business to start. This is oaky. There are actions one can take already and start planning for the future. There are some skills an entrepreneur can begin to build while they plan their first venture.

Essential Skills of Entrepreneurs

1.        Learn to talk money and control cash flow

If you are many people I know personal finances were typically a taboo subject. Investments, savings and business ventures are not common subjects in most households. In the world of entrepreneurship money will come up in everyday conversation. Discussing finances with advisers and accountants will come foreign to many people. Openness of finances will become an everyday thing. Second an entrepreneur will want to learn the lingo. Finance comes with its own in depth terminology. You need to learn how to communicate with financial advisors, accounts and negotiate with banks.  Third is control over cash flow. This is hard for many households with easy accessibility of credit these days. If a person can’t control their personal savings and expenses why will it be any different in business? Sit down and plan out a budget and stick with it. Businesses are all about cash flow.

2.       Learn to sell

“The ability to sell is the number one skill in business. If you cannot sell, don’t bother thinking about becoming a business owner,” (Kiyosaki, 2000). Sales is more than just convincing someone to buy a product. Have you ever wondered why some people get what they want all the time? Most of these people have good sales skills whether they own it or not because life is sales. They get the best jobs, have the most friends, have the best dates, marry the best spouse and get the best deals. This is because they ask for what they want and portray confidence. Due to contrary believe sales is a skill that can be taught and is not a natural gift. Think about it, everything in business is sales whether communicating objectives to employees, negotiating with clients, service providers or soliciting new clients. The best way to learn sales skills is to read books, attend seminars and get a part-time job in sales or with a network marketing company.

3.       Learn to manage your time

Time is a non-renewable resource and must be spent in the most efficient possible way. There are more distractions in life than ever before with television, social media and the internet in general. It is all too easy to procrastinate or become distracted and not get things done. Starting a business is time consuming and even more so if you have a full time job and family on top of that. Planning out one’s day becomes essential to complete tasks and stay focused. Time spent planning saves time in execution. Also as a business grows in size and becomes more successful more items will require the owner’s attention. For success items of importance must be prioritized to be completed first and leisure activities will be pushed aside for the time being. Being good at time management requires a great deal of self-discipline.

4.       Learn to take criticism and be resilient

The most successful entrepreneurs are persistent and never take things personally. Business is about sharing your ideas, goals and vision many people will not be receptive. People will criticize and scrutinize you. Some will be invalid comments and must be taken with a grain of salt and others will be valid feedback in which to learn form then act on. Rejection is a huge part of business. Whether it’s a new client you’re trying to land or a rejected loan application road blocks and detours will be plentiful. Keeping pushing forward and stay positive, luck comes to people doing the right things already like working hard and exploring new opportunities after one flew through.

5.       Find a mentor

The fastest and easiest way to become successful at something is to find someone who already is and learn from them. All entrepreneurs start at the same place with an idea of business and start slowly taking it step by step nothing happens overnight. You will be surprised how helpful other business professional will be. Quite often they were in your shoes many years ago. So once they have made it they really enjoy watching younger and inexperienced entrepreneurs process. Finding a mentor is a lot like dating. You wouldn’t ask someone you have been dating for a week to marry you. The same holds true for mentors. You can’t call people up from the phone book and ask them to mentor you it just doesn’t work. You will first have to learn the people in your particular industry of interest hangout and then go there and meet people. Slowly build a personal relationship and if they like you they will be more than willing to help you. Also find a way you can be of value to them and then help them out form and they will surely return the favor.

I hope if you are an entrepreneur or are thinking of taking action this helps you out. Please feel free to leave a comment and share you feed back. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Becoming an entrepreneur can be one of the most rewarding career choices.

I am a finance student at Sheridan College. I have aspirations of being a professional commodity and stock trader. One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I trade binary options, which are derivatives of stocks. This has being quite a process to learn and has become a dream vocation of mine. One of the other businesses I did for a while was buying cars at auctions then flipping them for a profit. I would like to share with you the basic entrepreneurial skills I learned and would like to hear your feedback.

Becoming an entrepreneur can be one of the most rewarding career choices. It can also be one of the most frustrating and stressful undertakings. In the modern businesses world one in ten new businesses fail within the first ten years.  A very staggering statistic to would be business owners. Many business owners pack it in after five years or so of long hours and low pay. For many new business owners they don’t process the skills to build a successful business. Having a great business idea is only half of the battle. The actual building and running of  the business can be a tremendous endeavor. In the early stages the entrepreneur will be the accountant, finance professional, marketing department and as the company grows will take on a human resources role. This takes a person not too specialized instead of knowing a lot about one subject knowing a little about a lot of subjects.

Robert Kiyosaki mentions “an entrepreneur must focus on the whole business, the 8 integrities, not just their specialty. The word integrity by definition means whole and complete.” The 8 integrities of business are product, legal, systems, communications, cash flow, mission, leadership and team. These are a lot of areas for one person to manage in the beginning. Having general knowledge across all these areas will give some entrepreneurs an edge over the competition. A trait of a successful entrepreneur is they become a lifelong learner of business.  While Donald Trump moved from real estate to devolving golf courses he became an expert in ecosystems. Devolving a pristine golf course while not disturbing the ecosystem became a big focus.        

The best way to gain knowledge and business know how is to run a business first hand. "Can you really explain to a fish what it's like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value” Warren Buffet. Many people are so scarred to fail that they never try. Failure is essential to success because it weeds out the weak of heart and makes wisdom form dedication. The best lessons in business come from mistakes and failures. Many times entrepreneurs will simple give up before every becoming successful. So never sell yourself short and with hard work, dedication and a little luck you’ll get to where you want.