Business Plan- Why You Need to Write One

If you have a business and want it to succeed, you need to have a business plan.  It’s as simple as that. A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals and the plan for achieving them. Even if you are working from the kitchen table, you still need a business plan.  A business plan can help you do the following: 

  • Define your business and set goals
  • Create a plan of action
  • Develop your brand
  • Organize your marketing efforts
  • Keep you focused on your business 

When it comes to developing your business, writing out your business plan will help you sort out your ideas and make it easier to identify which ones make the most sense. This will be a great thing when you start coming up with so many business ideas that you get overwhelmed. Your business plan will keep you on track.   

Your business can’t do everything for everyone. Without a business plan you might forget that point. Writing your business plan will let you narrow down which products and services you are going to offer, as well as help you decide which target market to offer them to. 

For example, if you are a professional events planner, you can choose to target market your business to other local businesses and offer to help them organize and put on events to market their businesses.You can market yourself to local residential busiensses and families to help them organize all types of events.. 

You can also market your business online and create online seminars or teleconferences or information products and people can learn from you long distance. Once you have determined who your target market is and how your business is going to help them, you will need to write out your goals and determine your plan of action in achieving them.  

Your business brand will help you achieve recognition among your target market and set you apart from the competition.  Some people can really struggle with determining their brand, and unfortunately, never create one.  Having a business plan will help you create a “big picture” idea of your business.  When you see the big picture, you can determine how you want your customers to see you. 

As you know, there are many different ways to market your business.  Another benefit to having a business plan and being able to see the “big picture” is being able to organize your marketing efforts. 

Your business plan will help you decide how you want to promote your business.  Some examples include marketing to local customers or taking your business global and marketing online.  

Finally, your business plan can keep you focused on your business and your goals.  If someone approaches you about a joint venture project or if you have an idea for a solo project, you can look at your business plan and see if that is something that would enhance your business. By now, it should be pretty obvious that writing a business plan is worth the effort.

Business License: The In’s and Out’s of Getting One

Apply for Your Business License

Applying for a business license is something you should do as soon after you decide to start your business as possible.  There are different requirements for getting a business license at the federal, state/city and county levels.  Each location is different in those requirements and there are even some locations that may not require you to have a business license, but you need to determine what your business requires by following and completing the steps below. 

Find loads of information on starting your business, including applying for a business license by visiting the Small Business Administration (http://www.sba.gov).   

There you will find links to help you determine, what if any licensing requirements there are for your business.  You’ll be able to determine what type of license your business requires based on the type of business you own.  Just a few of the common licenses include: 

Basic Business License

This is a basic business license that says you are allowed by law to do business in your locality.  Some places require it, others don’t so be sure to check with your local and state taxing authorities to determine your individual case. 

Occupational & Professional License

There are certain professions that require you to carry a special license in order to conduct business.  Some of these businesses include:  

  • Accountants
  • Doctors
  • Barbers
  • Security
  • Professionals
  • Real Estate Agents 
  • Licensing Based On the Type of Products You Sell 

Tax Registration

One of the biggest reasons a business license is required is for tax purposes.  The type of business you run, along with other factors, will determine your tax rates at the state and federal level.  It will also help to determine certain taxes, such as sales tax, etc. that you may be exempt from paying. 

Trade or Doing Business As (DBA) Name

Many states require a special license if you are a sole proprietor doing business under a name other than your name. 

Employer Registration

If you have, or plan to in have in the future, employees this is definitely a must to check into.  You can find more information about what all is required of you as an employer by checking with your states Department of Revenue or Labor. 

A business license is something that, if you’re required to have one, you should acquire as soon as possible.  Some states can and will penalize business owners who operate a business without the proper license, so don’t delay in finding out what your business needs.  Many states have business workshops to help make certain owners have everything they need in place.  Check your state or http://www.sba.gov to find one near you.

Start Writing

Writers write is a saying most writers recognize. “Doing” writing is the part that takes discipline. Writers need to write everyday in order to hone their craft. Daily writing also helps to crack through writers block.

You don’t have to have writer’s block. You WILL have writer’s block if you don’t write everyday. This is the coaching blog for creative baby boomers who write. It is for those of you that follow my creativity coaching.

What You’ll Find Here
You will find writing prompts, exercises, and my responses to my daily writings. Follow my thoughts as creativity coach as I blog my writing experiences. I am commited to writing daily. Write along with me in your own forum and create your legacy in words.

Write Web Articles That Work For You

Learn to write good web articles and you will be able to gain publicity for your online business or offline business. But just writing the article isn’t enough. You also have to know what to do with them. This includes writing articles and submitting them to reprint directories.

Website owners and bloggers visit article directory sites to access free content for their own sites. When they publish an web article you have submitted, they will include a link back to your site, which will drive a lot of traffic to you.

You can find many article reprint directories on the web. A few to try are www.ladypens.com, www.isnare.com and www.articlepros.com. To find more, simply perform a Google search using the term “article reprint directory.”

Some sites require you to register with them before you can submit an article, while some do not. Each site will have its own specific guidelines as to the type of articles they will accept. Make sure you familiarize yourself with each site’s specific instructions.

You will see a link on the site that says something to the effect of “submit your article” or “add your article.” When you click that link, you will be sent to a page containing a form that will allow you to copy and paste your article. You will also enter personal information, such as your name. Some people use their real name and some chose to use a fake name, also known as a pen name.

Always take good advantage of the area titled “author bio box” or “reference box.” This is where you can put detailed information about you, your website or speciality. The website owner or blogger who publishes your article will include the information you include, so make sure you include some information about your website and your URL.

If the article you are submitting refers to information found on a specific page of your website, refer to that page. For example, if you are submitting an article about online marketing send the readers to www.yourname.com/onlinemarketing instead of just a general domain.

This will allow you to receive highly targeted traffic which will increase your affiliate conversion rates and profits. Use web article writing to increase your online marketing and you will have a key to great internet marketing.

Learn how to write articles that get results and know where to submit your article wtih the Slam Dunk Articles Wrting course. http://www.slamdunkarticles.com

Secrets to Niche Selection

Choosing your niche is often the first thing you’re advised to do by Internet marketing gurus. The tighter the niche, the more effective it’s supposed to be.  But when choosing that niche, you need to be sure you find one that appeals to a profitiable target marke, not just one you love.

Believe me, I know as I’ve tried running through multiple niche ideas before finding what makes my heart pound, which is writing on the web. With selecting that niche, I had to be sure there could be nough people interested to make it worthwhile.

AS you select a nche, study to see how profitable the niche can be. Some niches are more profitable than others because they appeal to more people or because the product or service is more excusive and more expensive. Some aspects of supply and demand fit here, but that’s not all there is to it.

Questions to Consider

In order to choose a popular niche, you should go through a few questions before making your decision:

1. How much money do you need to make?
2. Is the niche large enough to support that amount?
3. Can the numbers support the fees?
4. Are there sufficient products to support the niche?
5. Do you have your own products you can sell?
6. Who is your competition?
7. How can you differentiate yourself from the competition?
8. Do you have the budget to reach the audience?

Why People Start Niches

There are two different reasons why people start niches.

1. The first way is the hardest; it’s when you’ve already created a product and they’re trying to find customers.

2. The second wasy is easier to market. That is, studying different niches until one if found with enough customers, money and desire to buy, and solve a problem the people in this audience have, and then enter that niche.

It’s very important that, whatever method you choose, you are educated about how much you can potentially earn. The way you study the niche depends on the niche in questions, but you would essentially determine how many potential customers there are who would be interested in your niche, and how much you can devote to marketing.

If a niche is really awesome but there are only 100 people that you can reach who can afford the product, you’d have to charge $1000 each just to make six figures before expenses. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but can the audience you attract support that cost? For some people and businesses there are actually customers who can happen that price range. But you really need to know the strategies to find and convince them to bite.  You might try:

  • Keyword Research – One of the best places to start is with keyword research. Choose a few keywords that you think that your audience will use and start from there. You are looking for high demand, low supply keywords.
  • Determine a Monetization Strategy – How can you earn money in this niche? There are plenty of niches that will have high demand, low supply keywords, but that have no discernable way to monetize the traffic.
  • Find Affiliate Programs – If your niche is in high demand, there should be some product already created for your niche. If there are no products created for your niche yet, you may want to reconsider the niche.

Keep in mind that in business school they teach students that the best business to open is one that already exists and what’s more, open it across the street from the other business. They use a Coffee shop as an example, but the same example can work for online business.

Choosing a niche that is already popular that you can serve in a new and more creative way will be easier than starting up an unheard-of, brand new niche. But, it’s up to you how to proceed. The point is, it takes research and understanding of the research to identify a profitable niche.

Create Your Own Newsroom

get-involvedYou may or may not have heard of a newsroom for a business as a great marketing tool for your business.  It’s a great place to develop social media attention, list events, press releases and other news journalists and thoses interested in your business can learn more about you.  Traditionally, a newsroom was the place where journalists, reporters, editors, staffers and others worked together to craft the news. Today, social newsrooms work about the same except they are designed to work online instead of a physical location.  A web based business has often built a media page or prepared a media packet. Now, it’s a bit more extensive. To stand out in the competition and display your entire range of assets, create your online social newsroom as your media center.

Design your social newsroom to help people find information about you that can be used to craft their stories about you and the business or to know if you meet their criteria to be a part of their media story.  Your  newsroom will have a distinct personality and set-up to reflect who you are and your business in the best light.  Generally, you should offer a variety of information to answer questions from a diverse audience. You can visit newsrooms or create one of your own to help people find your information to use in their stories.

Here are elements that you could include in your social newsroom:

1. “One Sheet” Information – Speakers use these; if you are open to speaking at events, it’s good to have one so that they know what subjects you speak about and how to contact you.

2. List of Press Releases – Use this area to make a repository for all your press releases. This is a good way to keep it them all organized and to let the media see the news that’s out there about you.

3. Event Lists, Past and Future – Not only should you keep a list of your past events, it’s important to slip in announcements for future events too. Of course, link to pages with more information about these events.

4. Images the Press Can Use – Headshots, product shots and more are good to be housed here too in downloadable form, with permission to use for the press.

5. Collection of White Papers – White papers are most commonly use in larger businesses to help customers understand a topic better.  They are becoming more popular with entrepreneurs and can be displayed here.

6. List of Publications – Great place to list anything you’ve published, including links to articles off site such as guest articles, books, kindle books, information products and so on.

7. Links to Videos – This can be videos that you’ve produced, interviews you’ve done, or those related to your content in some way.

8. Streaming Related Content – Your Twitter feed, blog feed, and other related content will work to help disseminate information about your topic.

9. Other Items of Interest to Insiders and Outsiders – Anything that can work to educate both insiders and outsiders about your business will be useful to put in your social newsroom.

10. Social Media Share Buttons – This is the start of what makes your newsroom social; the ability for others to share what they find.

11. Discussion Forum – Engagement is an important component of a good newsroom. Starting a discussion forum for those who might be interested can help improve engagement.

12. Contact Form – Even if you don’t want a forum, having a way for people to easily contact you, such as a special email address that you check often, is needed in your newsroom.

13. An Organizational Chart – If you have employees, this is good to have. It is similar to what any larger organization should have listing the people who work with you, their position and line of responsibility.

This new concept of a social newsroom is something for every savvy business woman to consider as a part of her website.  It doesn’t have to include all of the listed elements or be too elaborate. You want to be sure to give journalists and those interested in your work a sufficient amount of information about you and your business. It’s another place to house all the information in one place for easy distribution for you and the media. It provides for even more content for your website and no one will have to ask you for the information unless they want a special quote. They can just write a story based off the information they find on your social newsroom.

What do you think about this concept?  What elements would you include your Social Newsroom?

Generate Cash Flow with Big Ideas

Generating cash flow is a #1 concern for business owners.  Doing so means coming up with and following through with big ideas.  Unfortunately, it is too common for people to come up with big ideas then fail to follow through with them.

There’s no simple fix to this issue because there are many reasons why you might drop an idea, even a good one.  You might be:

* too busy

* unsure how to  make it happen

* dealing with an idea that’s too

* having an idea that’s too abstract and unclear

* busy with too many other priorities

* forgetting to create deadlines or a sense of urgency

* working without needed support

* facing too many obstacles

* afraid or doubt your ability to see it through

Do you find one of your reasons in any of the categories above?  It may not be exactly as presented but you get the idea. The important thing is to first identify the reason (or excuse) you use to not follow through with a potentially good cash generating idea. Only then can you work on turning things around to make your idea or dream a reality.

Set a Goal

What most of the reasons have in common is that there is no goal for any of them. To generate cash, set a clear, feasible goal.  For example, when an idea is too big it means you haven’t turned it into a workable cash generating goal. If your big idea is to make money from your book that isn’t a tangible goal. However, if you decide to earn $1000 from book sales by June 30th, that is a goal. You break this goal into smaller more manageable steps.

Scrutinize your big idea to determine exactly what it can do to make it into something that generates attention and cash.  Figure out what you need to make the results happen.  Could it be more help those skilled in areas where you’re not so strong?  Do you need to break it down into steps?  Do you need to offload other tasks so that you can make your idea a priority?  Do you need a renewed commitment to reach the goal?

Make it Happen

Following through on your big ideas in order to generate cash mean making daily action a habit. Once you’ve scrutinized and assessed your idea and discovered how to make it more manageable, you can then create an action plan. Decide how much you want to earn from the idea.  Then decide what you need to do every day to achieve your goal.  Small steps lead to big results. Your daily action doesn’t need to be huge, it just needs to happen.   Keep records on how much you earn each day and altogether to see if the big idea is worth repeating or continuing as a part of your business.

Make Your Slide Shows Exciting

Slide shows are an increasingly popular means of sharing valuable content throughout the Internet.  It’s being predicted that Slideshare.net may be one of the fastest growing sharing sites in 2014.   Being able to create exciting and effective slide shows is a necessity for serious, confident business women.

By viewing slide shows today and in the past you know some are better and more interesting than others.  Knowing how to ensure yours are more interesting than your competitions is something worth learning.

Create a Plan

Before you sit down with PowerPoint or your slide show software  plan what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Determine the goal of your slide show  Decide what information you will provide and why this information is important.  What value does it offer and why will the listening audience care? Before recording, answer these questions on paper first.

Use Good Visuals

Visuals make a big difference in creating an appealing slide show.  Many slide shows lack visual appeal.  They’re simply one slide after the next with a series of plain sentences.  In general, create more exciting slide content word by keeping your word count around 50-60 words, and no more.  The goal is to have people be able to read and understand your text quickly.  A smaller level of word count leaves room for visual interest.

Additional visuals can include photographs, charts, formatting, and even embedded short videos.  Make how you will add visual interest and additions a part of the plan for your slide show.  Keep in mind that any graphics or formatting need to support the goal if the slide show, not distract from it.

Arch Your Content.

When you read an article or blog post it has an introduction which is usually a paragraph or two. It then moves into the body of the content. The goal of the body is to provide the bulk of the information and the major value of the piece.  You then pull it all together into a conclusion which may also be one or two paragraphs.  Use this same arch format in your slideshow.  Have an introduction that piques interest and promises value.  Move into the body of your content and then wrap it all up with a few conclusion slides. This makes the presentation logical to the readers.

Put in a Call to Action.

Be sure to include a call to action at the end of each slide show. Let people know what they can do next to get more information and extend their relationship with you and your company.  Lead them back to your website where they can get more information and sign up for your email.

Use Embedded Links.

In addition to your call to action which should include a link to your site or to a sales page, consider embedding links throughout your slide show. For example, if you reference a blog post on your site then you could link to that blog post. Make sure it opens in a new window so your visitors can continue enjoying the slide show.

Slide shows are a fun and interesting way to provide content in a new format and reach the target audience.  Slide shows are easy to create and with a little planning and preparation you can create an exciting slide show that achieves your goal  of growing your business.

Make SEO Your Friend

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever evolving field.  SEO is a way to write content that let’s it get noticed by the search engines.  But as search engines adapt their algorithms to provide more value to their users, website writers have to adapt their tactics as well.

It’s become so complicated and difficult to keep up that many business owners skip using SEO altogether. They instead focus on creating a steady stream of content. While this is good and very necessary to develop a steady flow of quality content, using SEO will always help boost your online ranking.

Here are some tips to help you get better rankings and use SEO techniques better.

Use Images in Your Posts and Article Content

We’re a visually driven species that is attracted to content that contains visual interest. You may want to split test the results of a blog post with and without an image. Chances are you’ll find that the post that contains an image or two is more often shared with others. Your analytics may also demonstrate that people click through to articles with images more often and that they spend more time on your site.

Additionally, you can tag your images and add metadata which can boost your SEO as well. So in addition to more people linking to your content and sharing it with others you’ll also be able to embrace tagging.

Add Social Media Buttons

Search engines integrate social media content into their results.  They also look to social media for clues about the quality and relevance of content. By adding share and like buttons to each and every post or published piece of content, you increase your options. Visitors can then like or share your content which increases your search engine optimization. It also boosts exposure and helps you reach a wider audience.

Use Long Tail Keywords

Most people no longer just use short keyword phrases during their searches, but are using more long-tailed keywords.  For example instead of searching for “confidence habits,” people are using long phrases like “how to be a more confident successful entrepreneur.” By tapping into these long tail SEO keyword phrases you’ll face less competition and a higher page ranking. In fact, don’t be surprised to find your page at the top of the rankings for your long tail focused content.

So don’t believe it when you hear SEO is dead. Instead, it’s evolving to use a larger variety of keywords.  You make need a bit more patience and a strategy that embraces this new format.  It will be worth it as you focus on consistently producing relevant and valuable content for your audience. And remember to optimize for social media, add images, and research long tail phrases.

Create Content That Win Clients

Boring content will not attract clients.  Believe me, I read loads of blogs and write loads of content for the web.  When it gets to the point where you’re not excited about your content, be assured that your readers feel the same way.  Fresh exciting content that provides a benefit to readers is needed to keep readers coming back to your website.

First of all, provide real, useful information.  Learn to use keywords and keyword phrases that attract readers.  Look for new ways to format your content to hold interest.  Just like a news writer, cover the important aspects of the five W’s and one H.  these include Who,  What, Where. When. Why and How.

By applying these five “W’s”  and 1 “H” to each keyword and phrase you can brainstorm content from a fresh perspective.  For example, if your keyword is “stevia,” you might consider who invented stevia into its various formats, what was the first time stevia was used, where is stevia from originally, when is the best time to use stevia, and why people should, or shouldn’t use stevia in their diet.  When you think of it this way, you can see how this would help you create an abundance of different approaches to a seemingly boring topic.

Use a Question and Answer Format

Check out some of good question and answer sites to get ideas on how to use this format.  One of these is Yahoo answers.  This site that allows people to post a wide variety of questions that are answered by experts or people who just want to be helpful.  Use this type of site to brainstorm interesting content topics. For example, someone might ask:

“How many different uses there are for agave nectar instead of stevia?”  (Could it be I’m writing while hungry?)

“Is agave nectar better for blood sugar than honey?”

“What’s the difference between stevia and agave nectar?”

These are the type of questions you might find on the site. You might also look to social media to explore the many questions people have on your keywords or niche topic.

How to Brainstorm By Yourself

It’s rather amusing that I’ve brought up the idea of brainstorming.  That’s because I always use the saying “It’s hard to brainstorm alone.” ‘There are actually a myriad of brainstorming techniques that creative writers often use to help get new ideas when working alone.  You might use a random word generation tool or visual cues to help you think outside of the box. For example, you might open a magazine, see what’s on the page and use that as a part of your article. You open it and there’s a pair of sunglasses which leads to the following “what do sunglasses and stevia have in common?”

Hopefully you got a few ideas of how to approach content topic from a new perspective.  Use questions, brainstorming techniques and the five W’s and one  H to help you think more creatively and write more interesting content.