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Building A Successful Online Business From The Ground Up!

104Building a successful online business from the ground up is a lot like building a “brick and mortar” business from the ground up. It’s damn serious and no one ever starts an offline business just to make some quick bucks. Every man and woman involved in the offline business venture often invest all they have got in their business. Their hard-earned savings, their time, their energy and pride are completely invested in the business. They are determined to go the extra mile to make their business work. They had an idea. They did their research. They weighed the odds to see whether their idea can work in the market place or not. They researched and worked on the idea in a tedious manner because they knew that the idea had potential and that the idea can change their life for good. Once you are convinced that something works then make a decision to implement that immediately. This is how successful people become successful.

The main motivation that these men and women had while conceiving and nurturing their business idea was the need to have more in their life. They realized that only they had the power to change their life for the good. This helped them to move out of their comfort zone. That same frame of mind helped them to chase their dreams and deal with temporary defeats that got in their way.

If you need to build up a successful business online (or offline business for that matter) build up that same frame of mind. Take a look at your life. Take a look at your salary. Take a look at the car you are driving and the home you are living in. Do you need a better job, a better income or a better car? Or perhaps all of the above?

If you need more in your life, then you need to become more. Making a few thousand bucks through online jobs won’t change your life. You may spend the thousands that you earned through online jobs on things that would only give you short-term pleasure. If you want to start a stable flow of income into your life, then you need to build up a stable business. You need to get uncomfortable about your current money flow. You need to believe that you need to get more from your life. To build a successful offline or online business you need to follow the following steps.

1. Always Brainstorm and Conceive Ideas

Analyze an existing business and think of ways to make it better. Before starting my online business, I used to do exactly that. If you are a frequent customer to any traditional store, then you can directly ask the business owner “Why you are doing that and what is the benefit of doing that?” The answers these successful entrepreneurs gave me changed my mind-set.

If you ask questions and do the research, you will get the answers. Keep asking questions and keep learning and improving your entrepreneur mindset. After a bit of practice, you will see some businesses as models that can be replicated. You can also use these techniques to learn about online businesses. In the future, you may use these skills to buy non performing online businesses and convert them to money making-machines!

2. Create a Rough plan and act on your ideas immediately

Once you began to conceive great ideas in your mind, then the next thing you need to do is to create a rough map of your business idea. Include your target audience, the nature of supply and demand for the product or services you are selling, your competitors, your company’s goals, marketing strategies (like social media, and advertising, etc.). You can create a concrete business plan with the help of an accountant and your investor (or banker). Internet business models also need constant cash flow and accountability just like traditional business models do. People who do not know that almost always fail in their online marketing efforts. So if you do not have the expertise, find a team of advisors who will give you the truth you need to hear and not just what you “want to hear.”

Once everything is set then you should act on your idea immediately. Keep moving forward even if you are faced with setbacks. You can always over come setbacks with your creativity.

How To Develop A Successful Business Plan

103Make Sure You Have A Business Plan

The first point to keep in mind about business plans is… have a business plan! This may seem obvious but is overlooked. Many people start businesses without a plan; sometimes it can come from sheer bravado, thinking “I don’t need a plan”, or alternatively you might hear “It’s all inside my head, that’s my business plan”. The reality is no matter how much you work with things in your head, no matter how confident you may be and how much you think you already have a great vision for your business, there are so many great reasons why you should get it down on paper.

Most of all if you are seeking funding for your business, it will be absolutely crucial to go along and show someone an actual plan, because there will be very few people who will loan you money on the basis of what’s just in your head. So it’s pivotal to have a plan and be committed to preparing that document. If you are someone who shies away from planning, or you don’t like writing or preparing documents, nevertheless you are going to have to force yourself on this occasion. I say that because it is such a key document for the future success of your business, such a tool throughout its development to return and refer to.

Have An Overall Vision

When writing your business plan it is really important to have an overriding vision of what your business is going to do, what it is going to be, and what you want to achieve. Very often it is tempting to get straight into the technical details, the monetary concerns, financial matters, where you will be sourcing supplies, etc. Now all these things will be vital in your business plan, but it has to be held together by a coherent, broader vision.

Remember the proverbial expression ‘not seeing the wood for the trees’? You need to see the ‘wood’ first, then delve in and start examining the individual ‘trees’, meaning the individual items which you will be breaking down later. So a great point is to make sure that you have that overarching vision – and if you cannot find one, then maybe it is an indication that you are obsessing on a few technical aspects that do not necessarily make up a whole business as you had imagined it. A business that makes sense and is going to be sustainable in the future is one that has that clear vision within which all the smaller parts contribute to make it successful.

Contextualise Your Budget

Of course your budget will be extremely important. But sometimes people sort of pluck figures out of thin air, not giving it the context it needs in the business plan to make real concrete sense of how that budget is going to work.

So it is crucial that every time you mention financials in your business plan, to really give them the correct context. When I have worked with clients in developing business plans, there has been a budget or amount set aside for example to be spent on marketing, which has been decided a bit arbitrarily. I mean with no real research, no understanding of what that amount needs to be spent on, and what that budget will truly achieve. It seems to have been put there to fill the need to attribute a certain sum to marketing.

Make sure you are researching each point of your budget, make sure that you are giving it context and it makes proper sense within your overall plan.

Don’t Make Assumptions About Customers

To be an entrepreneur does require plenty of self-confidence, sometimes almost a bloody-minded determination to make your business work. But this confidence spilling over into thinking that you know what ‘the market’ wants can be dangerous, without checking that it’s true. You need to do your research that the market does ultimately want what you will be offering, whatever products or services you will be selling.

That is a great thing to make sure you have in your business plan, that your business will be built around those real customer wants. Do not make callous assumptions, or statements like “I know what people want”, “People are going to love this”, and so on. Have you done your research? Do you really know that the people you will be targeting want your product / service, and crucially do they want it AT THE PRICE that you will be offering it at? Whilst confidence in your plan is fantastic, you must make sure that it does not lead you down a blind alley along a path that is not desired by your target market.

Don’t assume what customers want, do your research and make sure that is clear from the start in your business plan.

Research Your Competitors (But Don’t Copy!)

Every business plan should focus a lot on the business’s potential competitors, because research and analysis of the competition effectively gives you plenty of useful information. It may guide you as to where you should be advertising and marketing, or certain strategies to use or ones to avoid because you see they have been used unsuccessfully by others.

I often see people split into two camps. On one hand those who almost ignore competitors in their business plan, because they do not want to think about the issue yet and feel so confident they have a great idea for the market regardless. But I recommend not being overconfident when it comes to competitors. They are still there for a reason, they are still around and in business for a reason, so view them with that in mind.

I teach that you should seek to learn from competitors; obviously never copy another business’s idea or what they are doing, but you can absolutely learn from their mistakes or see what they are doing and discover ways to improve it. All of that analysis belongs in your business plan: make sure you have your competitors under the microscope and make sure that is a solid chunk of your plan. That is some of the best research and information you will gather about what will make your business successful in future.

Be Prepared For Risks

It is a fact of life that any new business or enterprise has a degree of risk attached to it. Therefore it is important for your business plan to analyse and calculate that risk, showing how you will engage with it. There is no business plan out there that is risk-free, but very often where the risk is higher then the rewards will be as well.

What should come into your business plan is how you assess it, how you foresee anything occurring that could have an adverse impact and how you would deal with it in the right ways. If you are looking to obtain funding from a bank or people you know, it is essential to show what the risk factors are in the proposed business and how you plan to defend against them.

It could be, for example, the risk of a change in the economic environment – what are your contingency plans for that in terms of dealing with such a situation? There may be many other risks as well specific to your particular sphere of operation, but that ability to plan ahead for all scenarios makes for a robust business plan. When I have received business plans, the very best responses come from people who have looked at the risks and have an answer for every question. What you never want is to throw a scenario at your plan and have to answer “I don’t know what I would do in that situation”. You want to plan for every possible contingency, and certainly all the major risks to the ongoing success of your business.

Obtain Feedback On Your Plan

When writing a business plan you sometimes end up locking yourself away. You might have unique ideas which lead you to seek some isolation and secrecy, or if you are going to be a sole trader you may only have one person to consult namely yourself. But it is fantastic to try and get broader input on your business plan – whether from a professional, or simply from friends and family whom you trust. I say that because of course you need to be careful with commercially sensitive ideas, as you do not want to pass your plan on to someone in the pub who then starts your idea before you across the road.

But do not be too paranoid, make sure you are showing it to people you trust, whose feedback you welcome and can be genuinely useful in guiding how the plan takes shape. Very often when working as individuals we get very close to certain details and miss out a big thing that has slipped your mind. You can concentrate so much on essential financials and supply logistics, but overlook other issues like marketing or opening times. By showing the plan to someone you trust, they can have a look and see what might be missing or worth developing more. Getting that valuable second opinion on how robust your idea is will put you in a much better position to start and keep going successfully.

The Business Ladder is a boutique training company with a refreshingly skills-based approach to business and enterprise. We provide a range of professional training courses and consultancy services, suitable for both individuals and teams, designed to develop ‘real skills for real results’.

The Best Way to Build Your Online Marketing Business

102If you are planning to set up your own online affiliate marketing business and are confused regarding how to get started with it then Mass Money Makers is the best possible choice for you. Mass Money Makers is an affiliate marketing course to build a successful online marketing business. This course has been developed by Allen Sultanic along with Matt Bacak, the two internet marketing gurus who have made millions through their online marketing business. Through this course they give you some valuable advice and tips on how to rank your website in the first page of Google. The Mass Money Makers course covers the A to Z of the best marketing strategy to build a successful business online.

The course basically gives you an insight into some of the practical ways and strategies to drive huge amounts of traffic to your affiliate marketing website. The course has been designed in such a way that even a beginner marketer can run an online marketing business with professional expertise. The course for Mass Money Makers deals with each and every aspect of an online marketing business. Through a video tutorial, the people are basically taught how to choose a particular niche for their online business, ways to develop a website to promote the business, making use of the various optimization tools to rank the website in Google’s first page and finally some proven techniques to generate traffic towards the website or the online business.

Through this course, Allen and Matt also inform you in detail about some of the best places from where you can get the Mass Money Makers job done at the most reasonable prices. They further dictate ways that will automate the entire system of Mass Money Makers. There are some websites that allows you to sign up for the course through a link that is mentioned in the website. If you wish to enroll then you can follow any of those links. Once you enroll for this course, you will get access to a high quality free software tool named as the ‘Super Affiliate Technology’ that tends to automate the whole process of keyword research for a particular website at just the click of the mouse.

Mass Money Makers is the greatest marketing course ever designed with excellent tools to do keyword research. So, if you really want to make million dollar profits out of your affiliate marketing business, then you should definitely try out this innovative and feature- rich product.

How to Measure Return on Investment (ROI) For Training Courses

101How do you measure the results and value of training? There have been many studies to measure the amount people retain during a knowledge based training course and there was a myth that only 10% of training is transferred to the job! With beliefs like these being talked about in the workplace, no wonder training is the first to be ditched when times are tough. Its often seen as a ‘nice to have’ and a way to show we value our staff development but perhaps its more of a ‘perk’ to help retain employees and good P/r for organizations rather than valued for increasing employee effectiveness and therefore productivity.

Clarifying End Goal and Measurements of Successful Training

In my view all training and coaching should be mapped to the bottom line. Although this process of estimating increased productivity through training is not an exact science, it is a valuable exercise to go through as it clarifies the end goal that the organization sets out to achieve through a specific training course. It will also set up a way of measuring the success of a training program.

In order to measure ROI we need to ask a series of questions like:

  1. What is it that we want our staff to do that they are not doing now as a result of this training?
  2. So will their new behavior set of a series of events within the organization that eventually leads to increased turnover of decreased cost? (This can be mapped in a flow diagram with estimated effects clearly shown e.g. the % increases or decreases)
  3. How can we measure the % of increase or decrease in our business processes?
  4. What are our current measurements of performance? i.e. what level of effectiveness do we have prior to the training?
  5. What is the monetary value if we achieve the increased effectiveness that we desire through training? (This is then the value of the Training Course)

The Purpose of All Training is the Change Behavior

Types of training vary from providing new technical knowledge to employees to training employees in softer skills. However the purpose of all training must be to enable the employee to act in a different way. The measurement of training has to be at the behavioral level because it is only through individual changes in behavior that we can make an impact on the financial state of the business.

Value of Good Leadership

Softer skills and especially leadership development are harder to measure because the effects are wide and varied. Good or Bad Leadership could almost be said to have an effect on every aspect of the financial status of the business with the CEO and Directors’ behavior and ability to lead cohesively, being the linchpin of success or failure of organizations.

How to Set Up Successful Referral Programs in Your Business

100Don’t you love it when the phone rings and someone says, “My friend Alice told me all about your widget flatteners and I really need some. I’d like to order a couple dozen”.

Of course you love it. You’re gratified that you have a loyal customer who is so happy she recommended you to her associate. You feel the excitement of knowing you’ve got an easy, lie down sale. You’re thrilled, because you instinctively know this new customer isn’t going to cost you a dime in marketing investment. No ad to create, no media to place, no letter to write, no phone to dial or person paid to dial it. Isn’t that the beauty of referrals?

So, why do so few people ever ask for referrals?

For some reason our warped thought processes make us think something like… “Duh… I just got these fine folks to give me a bunch of their money. The last thing they want is to be bothered by me asking them to send me to their friends so I can get some of their money too.”

Wrong!

People don’t see you as having just taken their money. They look at you as having just solved a problem for them they needed to be solved. At the point of sale, more than at any other time, they feel a sense of obligation to you. It’s the time they’re most predisposed to enthusiastically give you the referrals you’re looking for. But like everything else, there’s a right way and wrong way to ask for referrals. Do it this way…

Review the specific benefits your customer derived from your product or service. If you have helped your customer receive protection or avoid loss or trouble or the persistence of a nagging problem, make sure you articulate these benefits.

Get the customer to acknowledge the value you have provided.

Remind your customer that he or she has friends, relatives, and associates who may have some of the same needs, problems and desires.

Now here’s the clincher…

Remind them that if they appreciate the relationships they have with these other people who share the same needs, and who stand to lose or gain in the same way your customer did, then it seems the neighborly, loving, moral thing to do, to at least put these people in touch with you, so they can decide for themselves if what you have is right for them.

Can you see the beauty of this? Now they’re not focusing on your request or helping you out. Now you’ve got them thinking of helping their friends.

There are two kinds of referral systems… passive and pro-active.

Passive Referral Systems

In passive referral systems you’re two steps removed from the prospect. Basically, you have to provide such a quality product or service that your customer voluntarily tells his associates about it, and tells them so compellingly that the person told voluntarily “looks you up” and functionally says, “Can I do business with you?”

By adding incentives into the mix, you can increase the chances of that happening.
You can give your customers gift certificates that they can distribute to their friends. Their friends then come in and do business with you and you issue a reward certificate to the referring customer.

Tim Branscomb of Sierra West Jewelry, offers a merchandise credit of $50 to $250 toward in-store purchases, depending on the size of the sale that results from the referred customer.

Dentist Dave Miller sends his referring patients to dinner for two and a movie, every time one of their referrals joins his practice.

Of course, the best, most motivated referrals come from passive systems. But there is one drawback…

Because you’re two steps removed, you’re never in a position to assertively market to these referrals. You’re still at the mercy of your customer to do your marketing work for you, and do it so well that it results in a new buyer.

Therefore, you should also install pro-active referral systems in your business. In Pro-active referral systems you get your customers to tell you who to talk to. And you then take responsibility for making sure those people do get talked to.

Pro-Active Referral Systems

The dynamics of pro-active referral systems are a little different from passive systems. You should reward your client just for giving you the names, even if none of his or her referrals ever convert – something meaningful enough to be attractive to the customer, but not so valuable that you get hordes of unqualified referrals who you can never convert.

For example, I give customers back issues of my newsletter, complete with audio recordings, just for the names. The cost to me is next to nothing, but the value to our referring customer may be thousands of dollars as they apply the principles, strategies or tactics described in the newsletter.

There are other good, inexpensive incentives. You can use movie rentals, desserts at nearby restaurants, buy one, get one certificates or whatever else you can think of for incentives to secure the names of a customer’s referrals.

Now let’s talk about the Cadillac of referral systems. The “Graduated Incentive” referral system.

Graduated Incentive Referral Systems

The idea is to reward referring customers more handsomely for each successive referral they send to you.

Here’s an example:

For the first time someone refers a friend they receive a $25 gift certificate. The second time they refer you send them a $75 gift package to a local restaurant. The third time you may give them a full day package at a local spa. You may have a tiered system where they can work their way up to receive a FREE, week-long trip to Hawaii.

I’ve known Realtors, Chiropractors, carpet cleaners, heating contractors and virtually every other kind of business to have successfully used this strategy.

One final note on pro-active systems of any kind.

If you’re going to ask your customers to give you the names of their friends and relatives, you’ll want to put their minds at ease by making a couple of promises to them…

First, promise you will contact their referral, and by all means, follow through.
Second, promise that you will make their referral an excellent offer… better than the offers you typically make to strangers off the street.

And finally, promise that you’ll never embarrass your customer in any way by applying high pressure tactics to their referral. Make the commitment to contact them and make your offer, but also that you won’t be pushy.

The more referral systems you have in your business, the more referral business you’ll do, and that can only improve your revenues and profits.

Derek Viveiros is a Certified Marketing Coach who teaches the principles of marketing to small-medium sized business owners. He has helped business owners dramatically increase revenues with his unique one-on-one coaching style. Keep your mind on marketing your business everyday with the Daily 30 Second marketing tip. Click here for your free registration.