By Lara Fabans— A successful online business is one that is run completely from your computer. Have you ever thought about running your own business but didn’t know where to start? Every successful business needs a solid foundation. In this article we’ll review which Basics you will need to increase your chances of success. When you talk about your idea for a business, you’re off and hear someone say “You need a business plan,” but is that true?
Do You Need a Business Plan?
A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons why they’re attainable, and your plans for reaching them. It may also contain some background information about the organization or team attempting to reach these goals. So if there’s only you running the business, your business plan could fill up less than one page.
It’s important to think through what your business is, who you’re selling to, and how you’ll make a profit. You should consider spending time refining your business until you’re comfortable explaining it to your mother in less than a minute.
It’s also key to have your marketing plan defined. It could be part of your business plan, or you could reference it in a high level and then have a separate document to go into more detail.
A marketing plan outlines the organization’s overall marketing efforts. For an online marketing plan you will focus on how you will identify potential clients and get them into your sales funnel. You won’t need to be concerned with brick-and-mortar marketing such as how to get foot traffic. You will then define the sales funnel and how many products or services you have for certain price points, and how you’re going to get them to move down the funnel. You will want to define your day-to-day activities such as Facebook engagement.
Common marketing plans have:
- Price – The bottom line
- Product – The actual product or service
- Promotion – How will you advertise or get your product known
- Placement – Where the product is sold
- People – Who is doing what. Look for roles so you can ultimately fill them when you’re making money
- Process – The Value-added services that differentiate the product from the competition (e.g. after-sales follow-up, email autoresponders, warranties)
- Packaging – This is either the literal package or how you’re branding software, information or a service.
You won’t have all of those. It’s good to think through and treat your business like a business rather than a hobby.
Finding Your Competition
One of the fastest ways of finding out who your competition will be to type your keywords into Google and see what companies pop up near the top. They are the ones you were going to have to compete with for those keywords when people are searching. Hopefully you have already done some research for your business plan and marketing plan so you know what your keywords are. you could also spend some time typing in keywords to see what shows up, or use the Google AdWords keyword research tool.
There are a number of online programs that can help you identify who your competition is, and some additional keywords that you might want to consider.
Create a spreadsheet that answers these questions:
- What are their strengths? Price, service, convenience, extensive inventory are all areas where you may be vulnerable.
- What are their weaknesses? Weaknesses are opportunities you should plan to take advantage of.
- What are their basic objectives? Do they seek to gain market share? Do they attempt to capture premium clients? See your industry through their eyes. What are they trying to achieve?
- What marketing strategies do they use? Look at their social media, advertising, channels for sales, etc.
- How can you take market share away from their business?
The big question to take away is what market your current competitors target. That will lead you to finding new clients.
Finding Your Customers
If you have been in business for a while, you have some idea of one type of Ideal customer. By reviewing your competitors, you might find new customers to tap into.
Another type of new customer that you may not have considered is to go back to old customers and see if you can get them to purchase some of your new offerings.
Take your current and old customers and see if you can interview them. Then you can get an idea of demographics as well as a purchasing profile. From there you could ask them for referrals to new customers. you could also do a competitive analysis of their competitors and see if they would be interested in your products or Services. You have to be careful doing this if you have a non-compete clause. You can also use the interviews to identify testimonials that you can put on your website to build up a new client confidence.
For brand new customers you will have to test and see how they respond. You may be advertising on a site like LinkedIn but perhaps your ideal client is really on Facebook or Twitter. You won’t know until you test a few ads and campaigns.
And one last key is to remember not to do it all yourself. You may think you’re saving money but you’re losing it if you’re too focused on areas where you’re not an expert. Think how much more time you’d have to do what you do best if someone else is taking care of repetitive tasks or financial tasks.
Come join us at Online Business Opportunities for information and tips on finding the best online business for you to start. You can work part time until you’re ready to take the leap to full time, or have it as a side business if you’re in college or retired.