Time Management?

Published January 1, 2019 in Reviews - 0 Comments

Another homerun in this excellent podcast series.

Do you ever struggle with time management? It helps to recognize, as in the specific podcast below, that we can’t really manage time. What we can do is manage our efforts more effectively, and that means spending the right amount of time on the right tasks.

The speakers provide an exercise… which may or may not be helpful to you specifically in your specific circumstances.

The critical aspect for me: realizing that you can’t do everything, and so you must spend a good chunk of your time and effort on those activities that will allow you to best achieve your goals.

Give it a listen:

Manager Tools Podcast on Time Management

Business Launch Blueprint: Chapter 10

Published November 5, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

Chapter 10: Launch!

Once all the pieces are in place for your product or service, your marketing plan, your startup paperwork, and the beginnings of your support team, start putting the pieces together for your launch. Order business cards and stationery (if they are customary for your business), any forms you might need.

Take note of any elements crucial to your operation that are missing.

Do several press releases, direct mailings, joint marketing agreements with other merchants, whatever it takes to get the word out. If you have collected a set of names in the test marketing stage, contact those individuals and let them know what you are doing.

Then, at the appropriate time, hang out your shingle if you have not already done so, and let the world welcome your business!

Business Launch Blueprint: Chapter 9

Published October 21, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

Chapter 9: Evaluate

Consider the effectiveness of your test marketing. Take note of what you have learned from the extent of the support team you have gathered thus far. What appears to be working, and what doesn’t?

This is the “point of no return” so to speak, where you take in all of your knowledge to date. Has anything come to light which causes you to reconsider this particular type of business?

We don’t expect that anything has gone seriously wrong but if it has, now may be the perfect time to change course. Perhaps there is far more government regulation than you anticipated, or the business would require more travel than you originally thought.

If any new information has come to light that would have affected your decision if you knew it in the beginning of this process, consider carefully whether you should move forward or not. If you decide in the negative, all is not lost; the market research you have done can probably be salvaged.

Maybe you want to serve the same market but with a different type of product in that market. Or a similar market; possibly a subset of the original target market.

Even without any major problems, now is the time to make minor course corrections and adjustments as necessary.

Business Launch Blueprint: Chapter 8

Published September 12, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

Chapter 8: Assemble Your Support Team

Your support team is going to be vital to your success. There are many businesses today with their owner as the sole employee, and the only way to be successful is to build a support team.

In truth, you could be building your support team from day one, and you should start in earnest now.

I’m going to suggest that your support team will exist on multiple levels:

Employees – now this is not going to apply to everyone but if you do have employees, they will become part of your support team, especially those at the highest level.

Independent contractors and suppliers – you may depend on local services to carry out needed or vital functions for your business, or they might live across the country or on the other side of the world. Either way, you must have some confidence that they will do what they say they will, and do so on time. This includes businesses which supply raw material, components, or wholesale complete products that you resell.

Professional service providers and advisors – these are paid professionals, such as accountants and attorneys, that you depend upon not only to provide services, but to advise you in terms of “what if” scenarios, to give you options when problems arise, and to be proactive about letting you know about pitfalls further down the road. It may also include technical consultants, marketing advisors, or others depending on your specific business.

Peer groups – if you can join a networking group, offline or online, you will have a resource to turn to when necessary. If you don’t know of one, start one! Online, there are thousands of groups devoted to every topic imaginable, and if you can’t find one, it’s easy to start one on Yahoo groups or Google groups.

Mentors – finding someone who has gone before you can be a fantastic resource. They are often available to ask questions and to help you solve problems. Often you must pay several hundred dollars per month for the privilege, so you may not want to engage a mentor right away but you should consider doing so in the future.

Collectively, all of the above: employees, independent contractors and suppliers, professional service providers and advisors, peer groups, and mentors, are your support team.

John Donne said, no man is an island, and it just as true today as it was in the 17th century. You need people around you who can be strong where you are weak, who have specialties you don’t possess, and who have seen what you have not seen.

Business Launch Blueprint: Chapter 7

Published August 6, 2012 in Business Launch - 0 Comments

Chapter 7: Marketing Plan

The next step is creating your marketing plan and doing test marketing. Now we’re getting to the reason you are in business in the first place. It’s not to pay taxes or to comply with government regulations, but your purpose is to provide something useful in the marketplace, something that consumers value and are willing to spend money to acquire.

A marketing plan is simply the methods and media you plan to use to reach your prospects and future customers. You will probably have more than one method, and the exact mix and frequency of contact is going to be different for each business. To be effective in this, you must do two things:

First, you must know your market, you must know what drives them, what causes them to take action… and you should always be increasing your knowledge by doing research. Are your customers predominantly male, female, or an equal mix? Are they homeowners? What is their income level?

Second, you should test to determine which marketing methods and media are valued most by your prospects and customers.

Here are some of the media that are available to you:

• Website
• Video
• Email marketing
• Affiliate marketing (paying others a percentage of every sale they bring to you)
• Direct mail (letters, brochures, postcards, samples, trial offers)
• Teleseminars
• Informational local seminars
• Cold calling (in person or telephone)
• Radio
• Television
• Billboard

Methods or techniques would include:

• Money back guarantee (almost a must in many markets)
• Trial offers (a limited time or quantity for a small amount of money or free)
• Free support or coaching to accompany a related product or service
• Upsells
• Down sells

Now some explanation on the latter two. Upsells and downsells are used commonly on the internet, but they are not restricted to online sales. When the McDonald’s employee asks, “Do you want fries with that?” they are doing an upsell. You’ve already decided to buy and they are asking if you want to buy more. A down sell is where you decline the offer, and some less expensive option is offered. This technique is often used in telemarketing, and can be used in many direct selling environments.

Test marketing:

Here is where the “rubber meets the road” to use a worn out cliche that is nonetheless very appropriate to the topic at hand. Once you have a pretty good handle on your demographic and the means by which to reach them, now is the time to see if you can connect with representative members of your market. You need to know whether people are willing to pay for what you are offering.

If you’re offline, you can try pitching your offer to people who are in your demographic. You may have to get creative to do this. Here are a few ideas:

Find some public place where your target market frequents, and get permission from the business owner to leave a fishbowl or box where people can leave their business cards or fill out an informational card (if your target is not business people). Offer some free service that encompasses part of what you are offering, and also promise that one person will receive a gift certificate to the restaurant, hardware store, or whatever is appropriate.

This step will increase the chances of the business establishment’s owner saying “yes” to your plan. Collect the names for two to four weeks, draw a winner (have someone at the store do the drawing, do it with as much fanfare as possible), and then start calling the names with your free offer and pitch.

See if you can get interviewed on a local radio station, and see if they’ll allow you to make a special, limited time offer to listeners.

Local newspapers will often print news about new businesses that people have started. Follow the radio interview advice above.

Do a free one or two hour informational seminar and see if anyone shows up. This can be a great option; you can audio or video tape the event for future marketing promotions, and you can make a short offer at the end.

Online, you have other options, and many of them will not cost you a penny.

If your target market frequents forums, become an expert in that forum by contributing helpful posts, especially if you can promote your products and services in your forum signature.

Marketing on eBay is a tried-and-true method of doing test marketing, and it still works in many markets.

If you’re willing to spend a little money, Google Adwords is a great way to test. You can include as many ads as you like, and make them compete with one another. You only pay for ads that are clicked on. You can drive the traffic to a survey page, offering something for free if your prospects fill out the survey and give you their email address.

If you have a list of email addresses, you can become an affiliate for products similar to the one you are selling, and take notice of which offers and products your prospects buy most. You can ask that list to fill out a survey. Or you can simply offer them a special deal on *your* offering, provided they tell you what they think people will pay for it.

If you have a relationship with someone who has a list of names of people in your market, see if they will interview you or do a review of your product, send the interview or review to their list, and give them an affiliate commission on any sales.

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