An idea is a fragile thing. Millions of people think up brilliant business ideas all the time, yet, few see the light of day. In fact, many would argue that the most difficult aspect of starting a business is transitioning an initial idea into a tangible business model. Fortunately, we’ll help you do just that in this post. Here’s how to create a professional business plan from scratch:
Step #1 Write Everything Down
Even individuals with eidetic memories can forget crucial details after a few hours or days. Starting a business requires a high level of organization, and would-be entrepreneurs need to stay on top of their tasks and responsibilities. As such, make it a point to put your ideas and plans in writing. Doing so will give you a strong point of reference and prevent you from overlooking critical deadlines.
Step #2 Research the Competition
The odds of coming up with a completely unique business idea in a world of over 7 billion people is fairly low. Still, many professionals have crafted successful businesses that tackle old problems in new ways. Before you start drafting any paperwork, though, make it a point to perform market research. Determine who your potential competitors will be, and identify if a profitable opportunity exists within a specific niche. If it doesn’t, then your great idea may not prove all that lucrative in practice.
Step #3 Secure Funding
Whether your company will manufacture polypropylene tubes or develop hair-care products, every business needs funding to get off the ground. Retail space, domain names, employee salaries –– these expenses will add up if you don’t budget for them beforehand. Note that there are plenty of alternative lending options available to ambitious business owners.
Step #4 Set Goals
Business owners will have a difficult time setting up a startup for success if they can’t answer two basic questions: what do they want their business to achieve, and how do they plan on making that happen? This is the crux of any sound business model, and it can take weeks or months to address these two issues. Don’t rush the process; instead, take your time to develop reasonable goals and practical means to reach them.
Step #5 Sweat the “Small” Stuff
New business owners have to power through a ton of paperwork before they can open their doors for the first time. It’s easy to dismiss these requirements to focus on “more pressing” concerns, but filing the correct documents can help you avoid massive legal trouble down the line. Get your ducks in a row now or pay for your negligence later –– the choice is yours.
Email Marketing Laws
With the rise of social media, instant messaging and texting, many pundits are declaring the death of email. However, rumors of the demise of the medium are greatly exaggerated. Email continues to deliver the best return on investment of any advertising strategy.
In fact, for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect to earn an average of $32 in business. However, there are some rules by which you must abide to avoid harassing potential customers, as well as ensuring you stay on the right side of the law.
The CAN-SPAM Act
Also known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, this 2003 regulation laid down the rules with which commercial email messages must comply to this day.
The act defines any electronic mail message advertising or promoting a commercial product or service—including email messaging promoting content on commercial websites—as a commercial message. Penalties for violations of the act are imposed by the Federal Trade Commission and include fines of up to $16,000 for each instance of a violation. In other words, if 100 emails sent on your behalf are determined to be in violation of some aspect of the regulation, you’ll pay up to $16,000 per message.
The Basic Rules
The primary purpose of the act is to minimize the amount of Spam emails floating around the ‘Net. Another goal is to ensure email users have as much choice as possible when it comes to receiving advertising messages. Whatever your endeavor, whether it’s selling cosmetics from home, marketing furniture or you’re learning how to sell an ebook online with a platform like Shopify, you must:
- Identify Yourself: The “From”, “To” and “Reply To” fields must contain accurate information so recipients know from whom the message originates and to where their response to it will go. Said simply, you must identify your business.
- Provide an Accurate Subject Line: The “Subject” field must contain information describing the nature of the email and it must be pertinent to the message. You can’t promise dancing kittens if the message is really about snaking clogged drains.
- Label the Message an Advertisement: The body of the message must tell recipients they are reading an advertisement. No pretending to be a long lost friend looking to hook them up with an amazing discovery you just found. There is an exception to this rule however. There is no need to make this disclosure if everyone on your mailing list has agreed in writing to accept advertisements from you.
- Stipulate a Physical Address: Even though you’re messaging over the ‘Net, you’re required to provide a standard postal address at which you can receive traditional mail. The address must be valid and it must be a mailbox you check on a regular basis.
- Allow Recipients to Opt-out: Every message must include an unsubscribe link to afford those who receive your messages an easy way to stop your transmissions. This typically takes the form of an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the message. It must be readily discernable and you cannot make users jump through hoops to stop your messages.
- Fulfill Opt-out Requests in a Timely Fashion: Unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 business days of receipt. This courtesy is to be provided free of charge. You are not allowed to ask for any personal information during this process, nor are you permitted to sell their email address to another company.
- Know What’s Being Done in your Name: In most cases, third party email marketing services are engaged to handle campaigns of this nature. This means you’ll leave compliance with these rules to an outside resource. However, you’re still held responsible for whatever actions they take. Before you turn your campaign over to a contractor, make sure they have a reputation for always operating within the law.
The Bottom Line
The best way to ensure success with an email campaign is to build your mailing list organically. That way, people on the receiving end have already agreed to hear from you and are more likely to respond to your entreaties. Yes, it takes longer to get your marketing effort up and running with this method, but the results are better and you’ll be less likely to irritate people.
Starting a Family Business? Here’s Why Business Cards are Important
Starting a family business is no mean feat. It is all the more pressing when you are building everything from scratch. Not only do you have to balance your family and work life in a manner that gives you peace, but you also need to tend to your new business like it’s another baby that you brought into this world.
Remember your business needs ample attention from you right from the get go if it is to reach the level of success that you aspire for it to achieve.
For that, you need to turn to branding.
Only with the proper image and branding can you ensure that your family business isn’t going to run into the ground – especially mere weeks after it spreads its small wings.
And one of the best ways to establish this branding for a budding family business is through utilizing business stationery such as business cards.
Why Use Business Cards for Your New Venture?
Everyone is aware that conventional tools such as business cards are quite easy to obtain, yet just as profound in their positive effects. That is one of the reasons why they are so widespread in their adoption and usage.
With vendors such as Basic Invite, you can order your business cards with an ease that was never available before.
Through Basic Invite’s online design tool, you can ensure to develop your business cards through a variety of designs. In fact, the vendor allows you to have a choice of over 180 different colors for each element of your card.
Needless to say, this gives you virtually unlimited options to design your family business’ branding image. This is what sets Basic Invite apart from other online business card providers.
And that’s not all, since you could enhance those designs with prime accents such as foil cards. As a design element that adds a touch of elegance to any card, these rose gold, gold and silver accents could elevate your branding to a whole new level.
Basic Invite also allows you to order custom samples, so you could order the designs in one sample card to see how it would actually turn out. This way, you can judge your card by holding it in your hands, and change any design elements that do not work for you.
This also saves you a large amount in costs. You do not have to order a bunch of cards on blind faith only to find out that you could have improved on that one element… and have to go through the whole procedure again.
If you don’t like how the sample has turned out, you can simply discard it and change it again. You could then repeat the sample process until you have reached the perfect card design.
But you are not limited to only create business cards through Basic Invite. You could also have additional business stationery options such as envelopes in over 40 different colors. This way, you could complete your professional image while being right at home.
Another feature that sets Basic Invite apart from other vendors is how it allows you to save your recipients’ mailing addresses through its address capturing service. By sharing one simple link through social media, you could have your potential customers sign up to your mailing lists. From there, you could print their addresses onto the envelopes exactly as they are provided.
If you want to order online business cards with all of these features, then don’t hesitate from reaching out to Basic Invite today.
Since the company is running a 15% off promotion with coupon code: 15FF51, this would be the perfect time to obtain your new business cards. Make sure to get them today!
Moms and the Side Hustle: Making Extra Money for the Family
Have you heard about mompreneurship? It’s a new trend in the world of entrepreneurship. Momtrepreneurs describes women who start or run their own company while also serving as a full-time parent. There’s no denying that balancing work and family obligations is extremely challenging. Heck, being a full-time mom is a major job all by itself. That said, the rise of technology is providing moms with more opportunities to earn money. Successful momtrepreneur stories are becoming more prevalent. Here are best practices for stay-at-home moms to earn extra money and become momtrepreneurs themselves.
Sell Sell Sell
If you have a knack for arts and crafts, there is a marketplace for you. In fact, you can sell your products on sites like Etsy, Ebay, Amazon Marketplace and Facebook. Think of creating and then selling products that suit the season. For example, summer is fast approaching and people will be outside. Have you ever thought to build your own bike and then sell it? Many people earn money by putting their hybrid bikes for sale. While there may be selling fees on certain sites, the pros heavily outweigh the cons – the cost of supplies are minimal, and you can work on a schedule that is convenient for you.
Share Your Skills
It’s time to take advantage of your talents and passions. Discover what they are and use them to make money. For example, if you are gifted at math, become a math tutor. Job sites frequently have postings for virtual tutors. Tutoring is also effective if you can advertise to fellow parents. You can help their kids and do it from the convenience of your own home. The same can be said for any number of skills. Are you good at piano? Guitar? Saxophone? If so, how about sharing your talents by offering music lessons to kids in the neighborhood or to classmates of your children? What about fashion? You can post tutorials on YouTube or begin a blog. If enough people visit your pages, businesses may advertise with you.
Whatever your side hustle, it’s important to sell yourself. You must have an online presence, as a quality website is essential for almost any type of business. If a person is seeking information, they are probably using the internet to find it. When they look for a service or product you offer, you need to show up in their search results and look professional. A website is often the first impression a company puts forth to potential customers. It’s imperative that first impression is a good one. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, accurate, visually appealing and informative (location, contact information, hours of operation, etc.). Make sure to have active social media representation as well – this includes pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
In addition to an online presence, market yourself with business cards. Your business card is your brand, serving as a showcase for you and your organization. A business card serves as a physical product that can meet real-word, face-to-face needs. It provides customers and contacts with something tangible that can be referenced later when they are thinking about products or services pertinent to your industry. You can get creative (double sided business cards) or stay traditional (classic business cards) but remember to design a piece that is identifiable, visually appealing and professional.
The rise of the internet has made it easier than ever to make money from home. You can earn extra cash by selling products, sharing your skills and marketing yourself. Ladies, it’s time to join the long list of successful momtrepreneurs.