Goal setting is an important part of doing business. You have to set goals for every aspect of your business and that most certainly includes marketing. You’ve likely heard that goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive. The reason this is a good plan of action is that it gives you a place to start when it comes to setting out your goals. You might think that the goal of marketing is always selling, but it’s not.
You may have goals for various purposes for your marketing such as spreading awareness, building your email list, getting more social engagement or something else entirely. The important thing is to understand the purpose of the marketing that you’re doing.
If you don’t have much of a list or a social media following, then it’s important to access what you should do first. Should you build more of a following and if so, exactly how will you accomplish it?
Look toward the future of when you meet the goal that you set for yourself based on where you currently stand.
Always knowing what you’ll do next when you reach a particular goal is helpful to setting the best marketing goals for your business. It’s always first things first – build your blog, build your list, market to the list. Repeat.
Creating a map of where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to go will help you succeed in the marketing goals that you set for yourself. It will also enable you to see gaps in your choices so that you can fill them.
If you haven’t tried content marketing yet, don’t drop a grand on banner advertising. You want to start where you are now, and work your way up to where you want to be.
All marketing starts with your audience, and without knowing who they are it will be difficult to create a marketing plan that will work for you.
Understanding how your products and services benefit your audience will also help you know where to start with your marketing efforts. Does your audience know that they need what you have, or do you need to educate them?
Do the research you need to do in order to know your audience, learn your products, and to evaluate where you stand today. This is necessary to ensure that you choose the best marketing goals for your business today and in the future. What works for you today will not work for your business tomorrow.
Hiring employees or contractors is an important way to expand your business. After all, each person you hire or contract with can essentially duplicate yourself so that you can expand your business in a smart way without working harder. But, it’s also important to have great people working with you to help lower your stress level while expanding your business and giving you more balance in your life.
Know what goes into doing your business each and every day. You want to know why you are doing it, who you’re doing it for, and what your goals are for the future. And you need to be able to explain it well to another person.
Take some time to go through each work day and create tasks lists that you do every day. This will help you narrow down the type of things you can outsource to employees or contractors. If you aren’t sure what goes into your day-to-day activities, it’ll be hard to outsource.
Once you’ve created task lists of various things you do each day, separate them into different categories such as marketing, bookkeeping, creative, and so forth. It’s not likely you will find one person who does everything well; instead you’ll want to hire different people for each type of work that needs to be done.
By narrowing down the different categories of work that need to be completed, you can now focus on finding experts that love doing what needs to be done in that area. For instance, you don’t want to hire a writer to do graphic design or an administrative professional to set up your shopping cart unless this is their expertise.
When you are sure exactly what you’re looking for, put the word out to your friends and colleagues because it’s more than likely that they can recommend just the right expert for you. When they do recommend the person, ask them to explain why they recommend them so that you know they’ve worked with the person before and aren’t simply just friends with them.
As you interview people who are potential candidates for the positions you’re filling, it’s important to be able to explain to them what you expect so that they can make a fair bid to you. This is especially true if you’re hiring a contractor instead of an employee. With an employee you can change things up a bit more because they’re essentially clocking in each day to do something as directed and aren’t as self-directing.
When you interview any potential employee or contractor, ask them what they like to do most and how they like to do it. This will give you some insight into how well you and the person already gel together without having to change anything about yourself or them as you get started working on projects together.
Not only should you ask for references from the person you’re interviewing, you should actually call the references or email the references. You can get by with less of this type of thing if you’re not going to give them anything too personal to do for you, but it’s really the only safe thing if you’re going to entrust them with a lot of proprietary or personal information.
Nothing is more disheartening to a future employee or contractor who considers themselves an expert in their field than to be offered less than a living wage. Contractors will typically offer a bid but when you are giving a budget or an hourly wage for an employee, consider what you’re actually asking for and make your offer fair. Money isn’t everything, but it is why most have jobs or conduct business.
It’s also important to understand the difference between hiring an employee and a contractor. An employee is someone where you can control their activities more from day to day, and you’ll have to provide certain benefits to them as well. With a contractor, you cannot control their day-to-day activities or direct to them too much of how they do something, but rather focus mainly on deadlines and deliverables.
It’s up to you who you want to work with, but do understand the difference so that working with them will go smoothly because employees and contractors have different attitudes and methods of completing tasks. Treating the people you work with well goes even further than paying a fair wage, so consider that part too after you choose someone.
Delegation is an important skill for any business owner to master, but it’s especially important for small business owners who have very little time and extra money to devote to bottlenecks, accidental duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines.
If you learn to delegate well, you’ll have more time to devote your energy to more important tasks, provide employment for another person, and (since it’s likely someone else can do the tasks better than you) make yourself look even more amazing due to the good choices you make.
One of the first things to do is figure out what causes you to be fearful of delegation. Usually the reasons have to do with perfectionism, self-protection, lack of a workable system in place and being unsure of which tasks to delegate.
Before you even start delegating, it’s important to set up a system of some sort - like Basecamp or another online project management system. Keep in mind some of the people you outsource to may have their own system which you can use. This is especially true of online business managers or project managers.
Go through the processes you use to do the tasks now, and write them down so that you can figure out how to streamline the processes. However, do keep in mind that contractors are mostly concerned with deliverables, so this process is more for your benefit to find out what types of things you can delegate. An example would be repetitive tasks like email management.
When you know what tasks you want to outsource, it’s important to find the right people for the job or task. To get the most bang for your buck, choose someone to do it who likes doing it, wants to do it, and considers it their expertise. In other words, don’t expect to hire someone who can do everything perfectly. Hire several people to do one or two things each perfectly.
Provide the contractor with the requirements, deadlines, scope of authority, purpose, goals and objectives, potential problems, and tools available to them (if any are needed such as passwords and sign-on information).
Open up the communication by asking the contractor if they have any questions based on your instructions. That way they won’t be worried about asking anything even if it’s "stupid." The worst thing you can do is criticize a contractor for asking a question. And of course, you need to get back to them quickly with your answers.
In many cases, contractors want you to focus more on deadlines and deliverables than too many details. How they get something done should not be as important as the result of what they got done.
As often as is practicable give feedback to your contractors. This is especially true if you would like something done differently than what they turned in but you still want to keep working with the person. Give the feedback by giving compliments on what is good, then what could be better, and finally something good again to help build up the confidence of the contractor.
The fact is, no one is perfect and contractors will sometimes misunderstand directions. As long as something isn’t blatant such as constant missed deadlines, poor quality of work and so forth, sometimes people make mistakes. If your contractors are afraid of making mistakes, sometimes it will stifle their creativity. So be open to new ideas and potential mistakes, while also being clear on your expectations.
Finally, the best way to become a master delegator is to let go and just do it. Start with something small such as outsourcing your email customer service, eBook writing, report writing, blog post writing, article writing, social media marketing, and graphic design for projects. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to launch one of your products and try to outsource as much of as you can to see how it comes together. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.
Many business owners have a really hard time letting their assistant handle various tasks. This is because many business owners have the feeling that if they let their assistant do things they will lose control. Additionally, they feel like no one can do “it,” whatever “it” is, as well as they can. But, most of the time the truth is if you’ve hired the right assistant they can do it as well as or even better than you can if you let them.
Finally, it’s important to let go of perfection and allow people who are experts in what they do, do what it is that they do. You can’t do everything. No successful CEO does. In fact, most successful CEOs mostly do nothing but delegate tasks to the smart, capable experts that they hired.
Understanding what type of business you have is an important aspect of reaching the right audience, paying your taxes, and marketing and advertising your business. Many different types of businesses are available to choose from. But what type of business are you?
But what it really comes down to is how to choose between these types of business entities.
Read through the following descriptions to help you choose which type of business entity you want to pick. If you’re not sure it’s always best to consult with a professional or your local SCORE chapter.
Understanding what type of business you are is an important component in knowing how you will proceed in any part of your business - whether it is management, taxation, marketing, sales or understanding your audience.
Managing the business registration process the first time will seem unorganized. However, if you do one thing at a time and keep track of everything every year, it will get easier to accomplish and will really amount to little more than repeating what you did last year, writing a check, and mailing it in on time. Some places you can even complete the process online, saving even more time and effort.
Don’t forget to enter the expense you have for any business license into your accounting system, as every penny is a complete write-off from the top of your income. By following the rules and ensuring your business is registered properly, you will not have any legal trouble down the pike that could cost you your entire business.
Like with most businesses, profit margins vary when it comes to drop shipping. It will depend on the company, their fees, and the products, and can range from 5% with electronics to 100 percent when it comes to accessories. When it comes to drop shipping versus doing it yourself, you may find that you save a lot of money drop shipping when you factor time into the equation.
First, let’s go over the type of fees that a drop shipper often charges:
Monthly Memberships - Many drop shippers charge a membership fee to allow you access to the products. However, while some legitimate companies have a fee, there are those without the fee too. Let the monthly fee be a potential warning of a possible scam wholesaler before joining - but not the only warning.
Per Order Costs - Most drop shippers charge a fee each time they ship out an order to you, to help them cover the cost of shipping and packaging. This is usually a low fee of fewer than 5 dollars per item.
Monthly Minimum Fee - You may also face a charge if you don’t sell a certain dollar amount of items each month. This is where the monthly fee may come into effect before you’re up and running, but then once you are making regular sales the fee is waived if you’re selling a certain amount.
Restock Fee - Some drop shippers charge you a restocking fee if your customer returns an item. Sometimes they charge this to your customer and sometimes they charge you both a small fee for restocking.
Now, let’s look at the type of expenses and time commitment you may face if you do it yourself:
Storage Fees - You will need a place to house any items that you will sell to your customers. Depending on the size and storage requirements, this can get expensive.
Purchasing Costs - You will have to buy the merchandise first, which can be pricey to stock enough products. Then you might overbuy and have to sell at cost - or worse, be left with inventory that you can’t sell.
Packing Costs - These costs can be expensive and will go up as your business starts selling more. Tape, packaging materials and more will cost you more money than it costs through a drop shipping company due to the volume pricing they get on these supplies. Plus, you’ll need to hire help or do it yourself, which can be very expensive.
Shipping Costs - While you will pass on some of those costs to your customer, you’ll pay more for shipping from the wholesaler to you, and then from you to your customer, which can cut into your profits.
When you add in the cost of your time to do all of these things, you can clearly see that starting a drop shipping business is normally going to be less expensive and suck up less of your time than doing it yourself. Why would you bother doing it yourself when you have so many options?