How to Build Your Business Plan

    I decided to get a deeper into how to build business plan – not any business plan but good one. First reaction: I can’t do that, that’s too complicated but the bigger problem was –> where should I start? How to embrace everything and not forget about important factors? And at the same time how not to lost yourself along the way?
    business plan

Lets start from Wikipedia definition of business plan:

A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons why they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.

Business Plan is a road-map to the future. Well written business plan is a dynamic, evolving, living document. Business Plan is one of the steps to entrepreneurship:
idea –> research –> business plan –> funding –> start up –> money

11 steps of typical business plan:

  • title page –> don’t forget to add contact details
  • table of content
  • business description, service/product description
  • business model –> how will your company make money? Mission – your reason for being/Vision – what you strive to accomplish/Values – all principles that guide you
  • market analysis + your competition + your customer –> you need to know who is your direct competitor and who is your client. Do you know what your customer want? Who is your customer? Where to reach them?
  • marketing, target, sales strategy
  • organization –> management strategy, operational plan (how, when, what, where will do)
  • goals and objectives –> details regarding your goals. What do you expect to accomplish + how you will measure your goals.
  • financial planning –> where you will get the money for your business? etc.
  • action steps –> time frames
  • executive summary –> it’s your “business plan elevator speech”. Just few pages of summary
    We need a business plan to validate whether all the money, time and efforts we want to invest in our business will give us any return from investment. Well, I really would like to do such analysis before I start investing my money or time.

While creating business plan don’t forget to ask yourself few questions:

  • Why you?
  • why your business?
  • What benefits will your customer get choosing your business?
  • What should your customer remember about your business?
  • What is your image/brand?
  • What kind of relationship do you want to build with your customer?

Every time when you think “business plan” think also SWOT analysis. What’s SWOT? It’s a strategic planning method used to evaluate:

  • Strengths –> internal characteristics of the business or team that give it an advantage over others in the industry
  • Weaknesses –> internal are characteristics that place the firm at a disadvantage relative to others
  • Opportunities –> external chances to make greater sales or profits in the environment.
  • Threats –> external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business.

involved in a project or in a business venture

    SWOT Analysis youtube video (10min):

Few additional links you might find useful:

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Facebook on Your Wrist

facebook_logo

    Do you like to share photos and update your Facebook status while on vacation? Do you get impatient when you have to find free Wi-Fi or nearest available computer with internet access? of course you can pay your mobile provider for internet access (good luck with if you are abroad) or you can go and look for free Wi-Fi at the hotel you are staying at. But it takes time and some efforts and what is most important – it takes time (and usually it won’t be “live”).
    …so how to share your off-line holiday experience on-line “live”?
    Check how Ushuaia Beach Hotel in the European summer clubbing capital (Ibiza) has combined guests’ obsession with Facebook and cutting edge RFID technology by using wristbands.
    What’s the RFID technology?

smart labels, also called radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can talk to a networked system to track every product that you put in your shopping cart.

    Hotel’s guests are wearing RFID wristbands and every time they want to share pictures or update their Facebook status all they have to do is to swipe the wristband at various RFID-points that the hotel has set up around the resort. Using their wristband they can login to their Facebook account and take a picture/update status/post comments.

youtube video here:

QR codes are getting more and more popular all over the world. Companies are using qr codes more often, but how about RFID tags/labels? As long as that RFID-technology is well known in retail industry (e.g. books at the bookstore) I am not sure how often companies are using this as a part of their marketing strategy.

Do you remember one of my previous posts regarding Facebook 2 Reasons Why We Love and Hate Facebook?

“See what happens, Facebook, see what happens when worlds collide!”

As long as on-line and off-line worlds collide we might see more of those gadgets on the market. I am wondering what’s next, what new hi-tech gadgets we will see on the market. I can’t wait.

    I guess time will tell.

What is the Hubspot?

hubspot and smexaminer logos

    Have you ever wonder what’s the Hubspot or Social Media Examiner?

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Software helps our 4,000+ customers generate traffic and leads through their websites, and convert more of those leads into customers. HubSpot software includes tools for: blogging, landing pages, lead nurturing, marketing analytics, content management, social media, SEO, CRM integration, email marketing, and more.

    Hubspot it’s a Internet Marketing Company. What they did (and that was great) they started from sharing content by e.g. providing a lot of webinars. I think that it’s similar case study to Social Media Examiner, where Michael Stelzner decided to share content and not trying to sell at first.
    So what Social Media Examiner is all about?:

Social Media Examiner is a free online magazine designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to find leads, increase sales and generate more brand awareness. Technorati and AdAge rank us as one of the world’s Top 100 business blogs. Our more than 92,000 email subscribers look forward to our daily original content.

    Here is an example how Hubspot is trying to get business closer to their service – by offering free 30-days trial, here’s a video:
    I think that’s a great, new way of promoting and building your brand by creating and sharing content and not trying to sell as much as possible right away. I understand that it takes more time and efforts (?) to achieve goals this way but at the same time you are able to build a strong and well-known brand and have a big number of followers/viewers/users/subscribers.
    The moment you have your own business and you need professional support – where will you go to find that? Would you chose company you know or try the one you don’t know? I bet you will try the one you know, right? I think that Social Media Examiner and HubSpot started from building their brands and when they become recognizablevia social media they decided to launch next stage of their business plan – sale.

So what is your strategy?

Interesting Book to Read – Part 3

thethankyoueconomy

Did you read that book?

    Here are some interesting points (in my opinion the best part of the book):
  • “we tried it, it doesn’t work” –> this is exactly the biggest problem, we are impatient, and at the same time social media is a long-term plan. How many small companies doesn’t have even a short-term social media strategy? How many companies first do some research and then create a plan of action? Why they can create a financial strategy, etc. but when comes down to social media it’s hard to believe there should be one?

social media is a long-term play, which is why the majority of the companies that have tried it have failed yo reach their potential. (…) You can’t reap the benefits of social media’s word’s of mouth without strategy and commitment.

  • “We’re doing fine without it” –> why do you think you are fine without social media? because your revenue is high? How high will be your revenue if you tried social media? Did you test it? No? so how do you know?

How do you know you are “fine”? if you are not in the trenches, listening to your customers and asking them what they think?

  • “It takes too long to pay off” –> of course it take long time to pay off! Do you expect to get more clients/more money withing first week or two? It’s not doing to happen, so you better think how to create a long-term communication with your customers, potential customers

Social media is a marathon. (…) Diversification is important.

  • “Social media works only for startup, lifestyle or tech brands” –> no no no! Every business can use social media, it’s all about the content, good idea how to get to your potential customers. The moment we find the right link/common topic to engage people – they will get involved (oh and don’t forget that’s the long-term strategy).

The concrete company’s mission isn’t to get as many people as possible to buy concrete, it’s to get as many people who need concrete to buy concrete. And the biggest challenge, the one that offers the most potential for growth, is to reach people who don’t yet know they need concrete.

Listen to Social Media Conversations

listen to social mediaI just read a book Likeable social media by Dave Kerpen

    Social media is like the world’s largest cocktail party, where anyone can listen others talking and join the conversation with anyone else about any topic of the choice.

Social Media can and can’t do (by Dave):

  • social media cannot make up for a bad product, company –> if you think that presenting your brand, your products via social media will help you with promotion, think again. If your products or service is not good enough – social media users will eat you alive
  • social media won’t lead to overnight sales success –> oh so you thought (or even better – your boss thought) that setting a Facebook page and Twitter account will lead to sales success for the next day? e.g. “Hello world. Here I am.”, what social media world might answer is “bite me”. It’s a hard work day by day like everywhere else.
  • social media is not free –> stop right there. If you think that only because Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin accounts are for free you won’t have to spend money on social media, think again. First of all you are spending your (or your employees) time. And as we know time is money, right? After few months you will notice that you need to pay for some more advanced applications to manage your social media presence.

Listen…listen…listen but how to listen? You can use some on-line tools for that:
free:

you need to pay:

  • vocus – on-demand software for public relations management
  • sysomo – business intelligence for social media, instant and unlimited access to all social media conversations
  • radian6 – listen, measure, and engage with your customers across the social media
    I ask myself a question – “and what’s next?” I was listening and using social media tools to monitor on-line conversation. And now what? What can I do to make my products and services more visible and at the end – sell more.

think outside the box

Action:

  • negative comments –> If people are talking bad about our products/services I should tell (via Twitter, Linkedin, etc.) that we did important changes (because we are listening to what people have to say).
  • positive comments –> promote those comments by publishing them on your social media accounts, blog, company website
  • questions –> if your clients/potential clients have some questions – answer, don’t wait too long. People want to know and you are the one who can say a lot about your products/services. If you won’t answer, someone else might and you don’t know what they will say.
  • requests –> if your clients/potential clients have some requests regarding your products/services, e.g.: they want some new features, etc. Listen to that, take it under consideration. Maybe there is a chance that you might change something. And of course let people know what you are doing: answer to those request (whether you will change something or not).

4 Social Media Platforms You Should Use

    How many social media applications/platform are you using?

ohhh…do you have problems to count all of them? Let me guess, some of those applications you are using on your mobile, some on your computer.

    Pick a number:

Lets think how many (really) social media applications/platforms we can use and be up-to-date:

  • Google –> google docs, google reader, gmail, google voice, google search, Picasa, google maps, etc. – covers a lot of our needs
  • Facebook –> instant communication, sharing photos, status updates, videos, etc.
  • Twitter –> another way of text messages, great for networking, etc.
  • Linkedin –> network application for professionals

Big trio and google

    That’s a great beginning, isn’t it?
    Ask yourself a question:
  • how many applications do you really need?
  • haw many applications do you have but didn’t use for last few weeks?

What Apple and Starbucks have in Common?

coffee and laptopDo you have an MacBook or iMac? Do you get your coffee every morning from Starbucks?

Have you ever wonder what type of customer do Apple and Starbucks have?
I would say not customers but fans. Apple and Starbucks were able to create products people felt in love with.

So what is their marketing secret? I think it’s all about the culture built around their products. Why so many people think that Starbucks coffee is better than others? I bet there are baristas (coffee experts) who would say that there is better coffee than this from Starbucks. So what? Millions of people are buying Starbucks coffee every day – that’s a proof.
It’s the same with Apple customers. Do the test and try to say something bad about Apple products – I am wondering after how many seconds you will get the feedback that you are ‘soooo wrong’.

Have you noticed that Starbucks do not produce commercials, they are focused on building ‘community‘ and ‘environment‘ for their customers fans. People who are drinking Starbucks coffee feel that they belong to some kind of unique group – and that’s the secret. People are wiling to pay over $4 for one cup of coffee (I’m wondering how big is the retail margin?) just to feel that they are special. Those people are the best ‘everyday’ advertisement. You can create anything better than that. Millions of people with paper cups in almost every country.

Apple fans – exactly the same. People are wiling to pay few hundreds dollars more just to have a product with apple logo. Why? because they want to belong to that ‘special/unique group‘. The logo of apple, those white earphones – you don’t have to say anything because everyone knows – it’s Apple, it’s cool.

I found 2 books you might like:

Site Optimization Testing – webinar

palm tree_black and white

    I am at the webinar: Lose Your Gut (Feel) in 60 Minutes: Site Optimization Testing Boot Camp

Great webinar by Linda Bustos the director of ecommerce research for Elastic Path Software during Inbound Marketing World Webinar Series provided by Hubspot.

This webinar was all about:

  • When and why to use A/B split testing vs. multivariate
  • How to design high impact tests
  • Common testing “gotchas” and how to avoid them
  • How to choose the right tool for you

What’s the Social Media Big Trio?

Have you ever wonder where should you ‘be’ in social media? which social media application you should use? We all know that there are a lot of social media application: SocialMediaLandscape2011
image by fred cavazza

Did you know where exactly you should start your journey with social media?

Maybe the best way is to start from setting your accounts on Big Trio: social media big trio

  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter

Those are (so far) the biggest and most popular social media platforms. You can stay connected with your friends/family/business partners via those three.

You should ask yourself a few questions before you set up your accounts/profiles:

  • private or business or both — will you use those applications to communicate with your friends/family or business partners/customers
  • will you use your mobile or computer or both to access to your social media accounts
  • how often will you update your profiles? — if you want to build the number of followers on Twitter, or make sure your Facebook fans are checking your Facebook page status often

Whether you will decide to have private or professional profile on one of those three platforms – make sure you are consistent. Start from that and then discover more social media platforms.

How to Increase Number of Your Twitter Followers?

dogs sleep…so you want to become a big player on Twitter and drive traffic to your business?

I attended a really interesting and ‘fast’ webinar by Chris Plourde from Insomnia Marketing Group

Chris explained how we can drive traffic via Twitter or more specific: what we need to do to get more followers on Twitter.

few of Chris’ tips:

  • follow people who follow you — if you won’t follow those who follow you, they might un-follow you
  • Twitter Direct Message — remember to send ‘thank you” DM to those who follow you + add link to your Linkedin/Facebook account to stay connected in the rest of Big Trio (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter)
  • use Twitter search — to find more people to follow
  • Twitter counter — provides statistics of Twitter usage and tracks. Free application
  • twittercounter.chart_may 2011

  • follow people from your niche — follow people who follow your “Twitter superstars’ from your niche
  • use 3rd party apps — e.g. TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc. – help you to organize your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, wordpress, Linkedin)
  • TweetAdder — Automate Twitter Promotion & Marketing application. All Prices are one time (Lifetime Updates on Program)