Developing a Business Plan = Successful Business.
|Whether you are starting up a new business or you already have an established company, the importance of a business plan may be over looked. Yes, they can take some time to draw up but just think of your business plan as a map of a country. Without the details and information on this map, trying to navigate yourself around a country will usually end up leaving you lost. Probably travelling the same routes over and over again, taking you 2-3 times longer to find your way(if you do every find your way).
A detailed business plan could mean your success in business. Consider this. How can you take your company in the right direction, developing the methods you need to succeed if you do not know what you are trying to accomplish. It would be like building a house with no plans and trying to put the roof on first. Yes, you may be successful in building the roof but your house will be missing some essential pieces. You may not miss these pieces at first, but down the line(especially when the winter comes) you are going to be wishing you built those walls too!
A business plan plots a course for your business to follow. It allows you to determine and realize your growth but more importantly what steps are needed to be token to achieve this. It helps you figure out the materials you need in place so that you can first build a strong infrastructure for your business. Another great thing about a business plan is that like any map it can be changed over time to represent the lay of the land. Which allows you to make any changes that need to be made to your route and to help you navigate them better.
While you are developing your business plan you will see that it will start to show you what you will need to do to be successful. Including such things as materials needed, your timeline and projected numbers for your business. It also will show your projected income and losses, as well as how your business will do in the first months and year(s) of operations. This information is priceless.
Another important factor of a business plan is that it will show you how you need to grow. You may wonder why this is so important? Simple. It falls right under you developing a marketing plan and picking out areas/markets for you to advertise in to grow your business. Without knowing where your business is going, there will be no way for you to develop an accurate marketing plan. These two things go hand and hand with each other.
So remember whether your business has been around for days, weeks months, years or is just an idea in your head. Develop a business plan which will help you develop a successful business.
Building Ecommerce Web Sites: Where Do I Start?
|Building a web site isn’t something that is really cut and dry. There’s a huge variety of products and services that can either help you get your web site where you want it or simply confuse you. It’s also important that you make the right choices upfront so that you don’t end up having to restructure your whole web site because of some problem in your design layout. The level of time investment necessary for mastery in a lot of these software packages can range from little to a VERY significant amount. Because of this I feel it’s important to be lead in the “right” direction to make sure you don’t spend time in the wrong areas, or learning some software that might not be all that useful for you later on (*coughs* Frontpage *coughs*).Where you should start greatly depends on what you plan on attempting to do, and how deep you’re going to dive in. For a moderately professional, clean looking web site without a lot of automation or intensive animated graphics you can probably get by with some basic knowledge of html, ability with a good WYSIWYG editor, and an image editing program. On the other hand, if you’re someone that’s looking to build something that will really wow your audience then you might consider spending some major time and developing some animation skills with a program like Macromedia Flash. I personally always spring for what I believe will bring me the greatest amount of profit with a minimal amount of effort, and because of this I usually end up spending all of my time diving in deeper with ONLY my WYSIWYG HTML editor, and my image editor.
What is a “WYSIWYG” editor?
A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor is what allows you to get by with minimal knowledge of HTML. Yes, that means you don’t have to know EVERYTHING about HTML to have a decent looking website. When you use a WYSIWYG editor it interprets what you’re doing (inserting an image for example) as being a certain series of HTML tags with attributes, and does it for you… Thus, what you see on your screen is what you get. Instead of seeing a bunch of HTML code in text format, you’ll mostly see what will actually show up in your browser once your web site is up WHILE you’re making it. I highly recommend using the latest version of dreamweaver — it is well-known as one of the best HTML editors by general consensus. Dreamweaver’s interface is very friendly, has a built in FTP client, and is specifically built to be flexible enough to suit both the coder and the everyday amateur webmaster.
Image editing? What do I need that for?
Okay, let’s be realistic here: If you’re going to make a professional *appearing* web site it’s important that you can make some basic, decent looking graphics. There’s a lot of graphics problems that can truly get the job done, but as far as power and flexibility goes I recommend Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop definitely takes some time getting used to, but in the end it’s VERY rewarding. I’ve ended up using my knowledge of Photoshop to make not only graphics for multiple web sites, but also touched up portraits, made business cards, flyers, and other online advertisements such as banners. In fact I’ve used it for everything except animation… But it also comes with Adobe Image ready which is very good with animation. This software is amazing, and if you’re going to learn ANY image editing software I recommend you start with Photoshop because of it’s wide range of overall… usefulness!
Let’s get me some sales!
Kick off your new web site you’ve gotten up from your knowledge of web mastering and image editing with a few new sales… Sounds like a plan? Well a great way to do that quickly is with pay-per-click advertising. BUT WAIT! Doesn’t that cost money? Well… Yes. But with the tools brought to us by some of the biggest pay-per-click advertisers out there we should be able to make a good evaluation of how much profit we’re going to make without much investment upfront.
The big question behind pay-per-click advertising is whether or not it’s worth the cash when you can simply get traffic from regular search engine ranking (otherwise known as organic traffic). After all there are plenty of companies out there that promise to help get you all the traffic you need through optimizing your web site for organic ranking. The answer to this question is quite simple: profit is profit. Through conversion tracking tools such as those offered by Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google Ad-words anyone can calculate exactly what their profit is after cost of PPC advertising is taken out. In my opinion, Google Ad-words has the most user-friendly interface among the PPC advertisers. Google Ad-word’s interface makes it very easy to see which keywords are pulling you in the most sales, and which ones aren’t even worth your advertising money.
Let us not forget, however, that in order to make those conversions we’re going to be needing a shopping cart! There’s a lot of diverse software packages out there you can use, but I’ve been using Mal’s E-Commerce Free shopping cart for a number of years with great success. The cart’s server is hosted on their machines so that means you not only get away with not having to pay for the software itself, but you get out of having to buy an SSL security ticket too! Nothing’s a better bargain than free, eh?
Getting those sales leads you’ve been building up to BUY!
Once you’ve scored a few sales it would probably be a good idea to start using some kind of lead management services. I highly recommend the use of auto-responders for this purpose. Auto-responders are, essentially, a newsletter sign-up that allows you to strategically determine what you want to send each lead after a certain allotted amount of time. For example, let’s say someone visits your web site and you offer them a free newsletter. If you were selling an eBook on some very complicated topic, you might consider sending them only information on the most basic concepts at first to get them interested. Slowly but surely, you can turn those visitors that might have left your web site and never have returned into some serious revenue!