Category Archives for Planning

Choosing the Right Business Entity

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hen you start up your business you’ll want to figure out your tax-related business identity. There are a few choices depending on where you live. In the USA you can choose to be a sole proprietor, partnership, a limited liability corporation (LLC) or a corporation. Each has different rules, regulations and tax consequences. It will depend on your individual business and what works best for you.

Some types of businesses are required to be in a certain category, but a large share of businesses can run as sole proprietors or LLCs easily.

Sole Proprietor

This type of business set-up means that there is just one owner who is totally responsible for everything. It's the easiest way to start a business, and how most people get started as long as they're not in a category that requires another entity.

One problem with this type of business is that if something goes wrong and a customer or other person is harmed in some way and brings a lawsuit, they can win your personal funds and even take your home. Taxes are easy in the USA with the schedule C on personal income taxes.

Partnership

If you are running a business with another person, then you may want to form a partnership. You don't have to in order to run a business with someone else, but it can offer another level of protection for both parties in the event of a disagreement or even a lawsuit. Income taxes are simple and somewhat like the schedule C reporting, with an additional information return filed. This type of business can be difficult at times, but it's just as easy to set up as a sole proprietorship.

Limited Liability Corporation

Many people like to form LLCs because they have the opportunity to file taxes as a partnership, corporation, or even as a sole proprietorship. The LLC is mostly just to protect individual business owners from personal liability if something goes wrong and a lawsuit happens, or if the business goes under.

Corporation

There are many types of corporations such as an S Corp and an INC. These are the most expensive types of entities to form, and have many requirements such as having a board, separate taxes for the business and owners, and other issues. You'll definitely need to work with a CPA and perhaps a corporate lawyer to help you form a corporation and keep compliant with the laws.

The business entity that you choose will make a difference in how you file income taxes and run your business on a daily basis. You'll need to speak to a financial expert such as a CPA to help you determine which entity is best for you.

How to Position Yourself as an Expert

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ne of the best ways to improve your value is to become an expert. Positioning yourself as an expert requires knowledge, skill and perseverance. If you don’t have those things right now, you can develop them as you move to position yourself as an expert. So don’t worry if you’re not there yet; you can get there.

Determine Who Your Audience Is

Knowing who you want to work with and help is very important, because you will be able to create better services, products, information and education for them if you know who they are.

Decide upon a Niche

Once you know your audience you can narrow down your focus to one problem your audience has. That is your niche. If you can solve a major problem that your audience has, you're golden.

Develop Your Brand

Once you figure out who your audience is, and what your niche is, you can start developing a brand. Is the brand going to be you, or is the brand going to be the solution? One will always require your presence, and another might be salable. It's up to you.

Get a Professional Website Created

You can't present yourself as an expert with an amateurish website. It needs to be professional, and unless your expertise is web design it's not likely you can do this for yourself. The words on the site, the design of the site, the images on the site, all need to be created by individual experts.

Set Up Your Social Media Profiles

As you brand yourself, you'll need to set up each of your social media profiles so that your brand works throughout the internet. While each social media site has its own personality, yours should show through.

Start Blogging and Getting Your Ideas Out There

Even as your website is being perfected, you can blog to show your expertise. Write your blogs directly to your audience to educate them about their problems so that you can start offering your solutions.

Write White Papers

A white paper is a good intro to organizing information to educate your audience about their problems and your solutions.

Make Videos

Creating "how to" and informational videos and posting them on YouTube is a great way to position yourself as more of an expert.

Write eBooks

As you gather more material, you'll eventually have enough to put together an eBook without too much work.

Publish on Kindle

You can publish your book and sell it via Kindle free. It's a great way to get new customers.

Consider Publishing a Paper Book

Once you've successfully published a Kindle book, you might want to take it a step further as you get a large following and publish a paper book. You can do this with print on demand via CreateSpace.com and Amazon.

Go to Live and Online Events

Networking at live and online events will help you get used to the idea of being at these events so that eventually you can present at them. It will also help you build relationships.

Present at Live and Online Events

With your books you have a platform for your message, and you can now take that and speak at live events, both online and offline.

Get Active on Social Media

Don't just set up social media profiles and be invisible. You want to participate, share your knowledge and connect with others so you can build relationships.

Get on a Speaker's List or Two

Contact different groups and offer speaking services to them. Create a "one sheet" with the information about the types of talks you give.

Keep Going

Don't stop; keep going. Each thing that you do will build on the next thing, and before you know it you're positioned as an expert and the sky is the limit.

Becoming an expert is a process. At first you will feel as if you'll never make it, but everything you do builds on the next thing and eventually it will snowball to true success. Once it happens, part of you will feel as if it happened overnight, but in truth everything you did above built on the next thing and finally people started seeing you as an expert.

Making a Lean Budget for Your Business

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ou need to create a budget for your home business in order to know whether or not you’re making a profit, expanding your business, and achieving the goals that you want. Budgets help you plan for the future, manage cash flow, and even secure financing if you should need it in the future.

Research Your Business

When you've decided upon a business and a business, there are tools of the trade that you may need or want. See what is available so that you can research the tools and choose the ones that offer the most value to your business.

Avoid Traditional Office Supplies

It can be tempting to run out and buy a file cabinet, paper, printer, ink and so much that you relate to an "office," but today you don't need those things. Instead "think green" and avoid most of that stuff. You don't need it, and you're not ever going to need it. Even when it comes to printing, unless you have a position that requires it, you will save money buying a second monitor instead of printing things out.

Use What You Have

What items do you already have? You likely have a laptop, a desk, and other things that you can put into service already for your home business. There is no reason to go out and buy all new things when you are first starting out. Using what you have will enable you to spend money on things you don't have.

Keep Your Budget Simple

Don't get carried away in the beginning with adding extra phone lines, a new internet connections and things that you're not even sure you need yet. If you only add things when you're certain that you need them, you'll keep your budget lower and controlled.

Question Every Expense

Before you add a new expense to your business, ask yourself if the expense will create a return on investment or not. If not, ask yourself why you really need the expense. Does it play an integral part of your business to help it keep running? Do you really need it? You do have to spend money to make money, but you should be smart about it.

Work in Flexibility

One of the most awesome things about working from home today is the cloud-based technology that is available. You can essentially rent software instead of buying it outright, which means that you can deduct it fully each month from your income, and then if you no longer need it you can stop. Plus, most cloud-based software allows for flexibility in terms of features that you may or may not need.

Know Your Break-Even Point

Your break-even point is the amount of money you need to make just to keep the doors open without actually earning a profit. It's your cost of doing business. This is an important number to note because it will help you determine your fees in the future.

Reassess Yearly

Always take the time to look at your budget each year to make sure that it fits with your goals to maintain a lean business. Being lean with a home office is a lot easier than if you had a bricks and mortar business.

Your lean home business budget is an important part of running a home business. You have something a bricks and mortar business doesn't, and that is lower overhead and much more flexibility surrounding the costs to do business.

Tips for Success Working with Your Business Coach

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efore you get down to business with a business coach, it’s important to understand how the entire process works and whether or not you’re ready to work with a business coach. If you’re not ready, it’s simply not going to give you the results that you want. To have success working with a business coach, consider the following success tips

  • Hire the Right Type of Coach – The interview process is a good way to ensure that you’re hiring the right type of coach. You want someone who is experienced in your industry and with working with people of your temperament as well as your type of business entity. Just because a particular coach is popular doesn’t mean they are right for you.
  • Use Your Free Consultation Well – Almost every single business coach will offer a free consultation before getting started. They will use this time to interview you to ensure that you’re right for their system and you will use the time to ensure that they are right for you. But, you can also get an idea of what their system is and where they see your business going, as well as a few hints about how it will all work.
  • Be Prepared for Feedback – During the coaching process and the analyzing of your business, be ready for criticism and feedback. If you’re not the type of person who can hear that your website is ugly or that you’re doing something wrong, you may not want a business coach. While a coach can also act as a cheerleader, you also want someone who acts in your best interest - more like a mother or father than someone who just tells you that everything is perfect and holds you back.
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    Be Open Minded to Change – It can be very hard to hear someone telling you that you need to change something about how you run your business. Your business feels like your baby and you want to do it your way. But sometimes your way is not the best way. You’ll need to be open minded enough to change things but also able to think critically so that you know for sure it’s the right change to make.
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    Be Honest about Who You Are – Sometimes it can be really difficult to accept our own personalities. Are you a self-starter? Are you a loner? Are you an introvert? Are you technologically challenged? Are you organized or disorganized? What type of system helps you keep on track?
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    Know What You Want Going In – Typically how a business coach works is that they deal with one issue at a time. So you might have a 12-week coaching contract to deal with identifying your target audience, or you might have a 6-week coaching contract to help you break through some sort of block such as launching a product you’ve already created. Knowing what you want the end result to be before getting started is very important.
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    Get Ready to Roll up Your Sleeves and Work – During the time of your coaching contract, be ready to put in the extra time required to get the work done. If you don’t implement anything you and your coach work out together, you’re not going to have any results.
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    Track Your Results – If you know what you wanted the result to be, and have written and specific goals, then you will be able to know whether the coaching relationship worked the way you hoped. Without metrics to look at, you really won’t know for sure what worked and what did not work.

Working with a business coach can literally change your life. But, you must be truly ready to work with a business coach and do the work you agree to do, or it simply will not work. If you’re not ready to follow through, reconsider wasting your time and theirs.

Steps to Create Your Business Mission and Vision

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here are different reasons to create a business or mission statement for your business. Sometimes you are creating it to motivate your business partners, yourself, and stakeholders. Other times you create a business mission and vision to help you understand how to better market to and provide value to your audience. You can actually create a business mission and vision that aligns all your functions, hopes, and dreams into one.

Answer Questions to Create Your Business Mission

To create your business mission, answer the following questions:

  • Why do I exist?
  • What do I do?
  • How do I do it?
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    Who do I do it for?
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    What value do I add?
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    What promises do I make?
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    Who has a stake in what I do?
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    What makes my product or service different?
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    What is my main priority?
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    How am I to provide it?

Write Down Your Dream of Your Business

Using the information gathered from the answers to the above questions, write a short statement in 25 words or less that encompasses the end results and how you see your business in five or ten years. This part of the business mission is the vision that you want the world to see.

Put It All Together

Putting your business mission and your business vision together should give you a good idea of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Now, write everything out in about 50 words or less, putting it all together.

Ask Others for Their Opinions on Your Draft

Send your draft to associates, friends, family and others who might be able to give you some good feedback about your business mission and vision. Be open to hearing the feedback so that you can narrow down your business and mission statement to a succinct statement that you can put on paper and frame to put on your wall to motivate you as you work on your business each day.

Perfect It with the Feedback

As you get feedback you can change the word usage, add to it, take away from it and make it clearer as you go along. Remember the point is to make it short, meaningful and succinct. Answer the most pressing questions of what, who, when, where, why and how and don’t forget to make a promise.

Add It to Your Website, Marketing Materials, and Elsewhere

A good business mission and vision is something you are proud to show the world. Put it on your marketing materials. You can write shorter and more succinct versions down to slogan-like statements to help your market recognize what you do at a glance.

Having a mission and vision for your business is as important as having a business plan, and in fact you can use the mission and vision to help create your business plan, marketing efforts and so much more. The process of creating it will answer so many questions and help you relate better to your audience and your business.

What to Do and Things to Consider before Publishing

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hen you decide to publish a digital magazine it’s important to do your due diligence about what’s involved before you spend the time and money doing it. It can take a lot of resources, time and effort to produce a digital magazine – almost as much as it takes to produce a paper magazine. Therefore, it’s important to study what it takes to create a professional-level magazine that your audience will enjoy.

  • Survey Your Audience – What does your audience want to see in a magazine you publish? Ask them. Use your email list to send out a questionnaire about your proposed magazine and let them help you decide whether or not you’ll publish it and what will be in it.
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    Decide Which Software to Use – Knowing how you will create the magazine and what platform you’ll use to publish is important. Perhaps you’ll decide to hire an expert to help you publish the magazine to save time and reduce your learning curve.
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    Choose Which Topic You’ll Cover – Your magazine should encompass a niche and cover a specific subject with 8 to 10 categories and sections to fill with content.
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    Identify Potential Contributors – You likely already know people who may want to contribute in exchange for ad space or payment of some kind. You may even want to place a “tip” jar inside each bio so that authors can earn that way.
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    Identify Potential Advertisers - Who might want to advertise in your new digital magazine? You should be able to make a list of 20 to 40 potential advertisers so that you can contact them to offer them an advertisement.
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    Create a System to Organize Content – You’ll need a lot of content to put into your digital magazine. The way you collect content and upload content to your publishing platform needs to be streamlined to avoid a time suck from occurring.
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    Create Accounts Where You Plan to Publish – Many digital publishing platforms will submit your magazine for you, but it’ll end up being submitted under their platform instead of under your name. Ensure that you bypass this situation and publish on various digital publishing platforms under your name.
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    Consider the Format of Your Magazine – A lot of publishing platforms allow uploading PDFs to start, they then transfer them to HTML5 before publishing to various apps. The reason is that PDFs are not really a good form of digital publishing due to how big they are and the fact that they’re not really interactive.

 If you do the work you need to do in order to publish a good magazine for your audience, you’ll be successful in your endeavors. It’s important to cover all bases before you get started. This helps avoid mistakes that can be frustrating when you want to create a new digital magazine to spread awareness of your brand or to start a new income stream.

What Business Is Right for You?

Starting a new business is the hardest and most rewarding thing that you can do in your lifetime.  When you determine you want to start a business, the next step is to find out which type of business is right for you. The way to do that is to participate in self-reflection that is brutally honest so that you can get started on the right foot with the exact right business for you. It can be a very difficult time to choose the right business.

Here are eight tips to help you.

There Is No Such Thing as a Sure Thing – No matter what anyone says, there is no business idea that is a sure thing. That is why one person can make a pizzeria into a million-dollar business and the other person goes bankrupt in the first six months.

Do What You Know or Can Learn – If you start with what you already know and where your resume leads, that is usually best. However, if you really want to change directions, take the time to learn new things instead of jumping into a situation where you have no idea what to do.

Study Other Businesses – When you get an idea about the direction you want to go, start looking at those businesses that are already successful to find out a common reason why. If you can determine what they are doing well then you can emulate that later.

Ensure There Is Sufficient Demand – With any business idea that you have, it is important to make sure there is enough demand to support your income requirements and needs. This is a mistake people often make when trying to turn a hobby into a full-time income. There just is not enough demand.

Develop a Business Plan – When you have zeroed in on something you like, try making a one- or two-page business plan which will force you to analyze every aspect of the idea. The business plan is an essential component of choosing the right business, and people make the mistake of thinking you only do that when you have already picked the business.

Ask for Assistance from Others – If you know people in the field, simply ask them what they would do differently, better, or if they would do it again at all. They are likely to be very honest with you about the mistakes they have made and the successes they have had if you ask.

Work for Someone in the Field for a While – One way to learn whether you even like a certain type of business or not is to work in it. Ask people you know to let you volunteer or work for low pay in their business.

Look for Market Trends – Match your skills with current market trends to see if you can find a good match that excites you. Do not let this be a substitute for ensuring there is a market for the trend today and in the future, but it is a good start.

Choosing a business that is right for you takes some work. But, if you do the work before jumping in, you will have that much more chance to experience success with your business idea.

 

Business Market Segmentation

Business market segmentation has some main variables which are used to separate the market. It’s not much different from dealing with personal segmentation, more commonly just referred to as segmentation but focused on consumers. It is a little more difficult to sort out. As you look at this list, you will note that there are similar points with personal (consumer) and business segmentation – with the exception of operational practices and business type.

  • Location – Which country and the region does the business operate, and how many offices do they have?
  • Business Type – What industry are they in? Do they have a staff? What size are they? What types of products do they sell? What type of technology do they use? Who owns it and what are they like?
  • Operational Practices – Who makes the buying decisions in the company? Are they loyal to a particular brand? How fast do they make their buying decisions?
  • Culture – Some businesses are early adopters of new technologies, and some are slower. How do they make decisions? Do they make decisions with emotions or data? Are they innovators?
  • Goals – What are their overall business goals in terms of growth, marketing and so forth? Do they want people to be loyal to them?

Knowing these segments is different from knowing how to apply the segmentation to build relationships and increase sales. Once you divide the market into similar groups, you can get started with the education of the market to boost sales and conversions.  Here are three things to keep in mind.

Segmentation Improves Business Decisions

Proper segmentation can improve customer acquisition, retention, response rates and more. It will help you evaluate the customer in a new way, including understanding the costs that will be incurred to market to them versus the potential earnings possible.

Segmentation Helps Identify the Best Customers

When you have the market divided, you’ll be able to determine exactly which portion of the market consists of your best and most promising customers. This can help you avoid wasting time with people who will never convert.

Segmentation Can Help Determine the Best Way to Market to Them

When you segment your market you can learn a lot about them, which will enable you to create marketing messages that are more targeted. Even though it’s all the same “market,” there are huge differences within each segment of the market. This makes it imperative to use different methods to send them information that is tailored to their demographic.

When you make segmentation decisions you need to know why you’re grouping them together. Ensure that you have some sort of marketing decision to make based on that segment before you go forward. Determine the cost of resources, including time involved in your decisions. Using business segmentation to help drive marketing decisions will inform your choices, and will allow you to gain a huge competitive advantage over your competition.

 

 

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