Business Planning Tips 2019
Eight out of 10 new entrepreneurs who start businesses will fail in the first 18 months. Yet, there are entrepreneurs who start dozens of successful businesses in the same time period. Why?
How can two business people with similar resources have opposite results?
Entrepreneurs who have created one successful business can duplicate that success again and again. Every entrepreneur should start his or her company with a positive mindset.
These positive waves are sent through employees, contractors, clients, and partners to create future business success. This blog explains 100+ New Business Planning Tips for 2019.
This energy, as it builds the foundation of a new company, will assist with the difficult times in business. And difficult times are almost guaranteed with a new business.
Successful entrepreneurs also understand the fundamentals of creating a unique value proposition for their businesses and how to position their new companies in the marketplace for success. The Internet has made starting a new business cheaper and easier, but this results in more competition.
Entrepreneurs need to learn who their customers are, what they are looking for, how to attract them and how to convince them (in less than one minute) why they should buy from their companies.
After creating a unique experience, visitors need to be engaged up to six additional times before a majority of sales will be made. It is not easy to create a captive audience, standing by at their computers with credit card in hand. It is especially hard for those who have never created online sales before.
There are secrets to engaging users through social media, emails and customer service to seed the sale. Capturing, engaging and building brand loyalty are the keys to building a successful business. The secret is creating raving, loyal fans.
The best example of a raving fan can be seen in Apple fanatics. Customers, including myself, who are so excited about the newest product launch that we tune into the announcements of the new products on launch day.
Eyes are glued to the screen as the product is unveiled. Then we reach for our wallets, happily inputting our credit card into web pages to buy the new shiny object. Apple has created millions of loyal customers who will always be clientele.
Once the business owner learns the formula to brand loyalty, success becomes easier to achieve. But how is this loyalty achieved? In this blog, we will explore how to achieve creating sales and secrets to building repeat customers.
First, we need to get started building the online presence and create the first sales for the new business.
The first order of business was to create a big plan and immediately take massive action. I wrote up several new business ideas, attended events, and became active in networking every opportunity I had. I created profiles on venture capital websites and began reaching out to wealthy entrepreneurs for advice.
Needless to say, I went all in; I began purchasing every course I could find from every entrepreneur who taught how to build successful online brands. I needed to learn what makes the most successful entrepreneurs tick.
Through my research, I found an opportunity to build online training for entrepreneurs, write blogs and document my journey to success. I began investing in employees, software, hardware and everything I would need to create my online presence. Next came advertising to grow my presence.
I did not hold back at all. If I launched a program and it did not work, I quickly moved onto the next product launch. I spent no time wallowing in self-pity. It was going time, and there is no such thing as failure.
It truly takes undeniable dedication to reach your goals. I put the vacations on hold, started learning to say no to friends and focused my energy on my goals every day. I was constantly thinking bigger and learning from those who you would want to trade places with.
Understanding this, I realized that I could no longer take on small projects from clients, realizing that the most valuable commodity I owned was my time. And with that, I needed to value my time over any other monetary value.
This allowed me to start setting aside my complacency and made me start moving every day like the building was on fire. It was then I also realized this is why you see so many rags to riches stories.
These people who go from living on the street to driving Ferraris and living in mansions. They move like they are going to go hungry if they don’t achieve their success. Because many of the homeless to millionaire stories begin with going hungry.
Up until this time in life, I always had a safety net with my family. But I cut the cord and didn’t look back. It was time for me to fly or die, so I jumped.
CHANGED MY LIFE
The change in my life has been interesting, to say the least. I no longer stare at the clock, waiting or just merely clocking hours in life. I no longer focus on the hours that I work, nor care about the things in life that do not matter.
It is crazy to think that you can train your mind and condition yourself for greatness. For instance, I have trained myself to produce the same amount of work in a day that used to take a week. I have been inspired by my mentors and historical greats like Muhammad Ali, who I had the honor of meeting in real life.
My life has turned into the following process: learn, build, test, analyze, pivot, test, analyze, build, test, analyze, build, test and eventually scale!
What does that mean? Building a successful business all breaks down to testing new ideas, analyzing the results and then retesting to find out what is working. And there are entrepreneurs like me who publish our findings online through training, so others can follow in our footsteps to create their success.
Or perhaps I fall flat on my face, and I am working my tail off into my 40s to build back up to success. I am ready for any challenge life throws at me, and I meet every challenge with a positive attitude and an open mind.
But regardless of where I am in the world, and what is going on with my life, it is now time to focus on you and your success.
A NEW DAY
The days when a single median household income can support a family are gone. And those days may never return. Costs for everything are going up, and the desire to purchase more expensive gadgets, cars and other luxury items are on the rise.
Unfortunately, our incomes are not rising to meet those desires for bigger purchases. This trend can be seen worldwide, through the world debt crisis and media. You cannot turn on the TV today without seeing advertisements for products, and the flashiness of those product placements on celebrities.
We want more and we want it faster. This is driving people online to create businesses, and at the same time, creating more consumers for products. The end goal for new entrepreneurs and consumers is to use the Internet to achieve their objectives faster and easier.
As an entrepreneur, your focus should be to understand who your target demographic is, what they want, what their interests are, and be able to convince them to buy your product within one minute of them visiting your website. Sounds easy enough, right?
Engaging your target audience is a science and not an overnight accomplishment. Engagement and sales begin with research. Understanding your target demographic and what they want is difficult, but as a business owner, you will need to learn how to get inside your audience’s mind.
Mentioning this reminds me of the not quite Oscar-worthy movie featuring Mel Gibson called “What Women Want.” Gibson plays a chauvinistic ad executive who gains the ability to hear what women are really thinking.
This allows him to get inside women’s minds to understand what they truly want, both in their personal lives and for the product in his ad campaign. Thus, Gibson’s character was able to create a successful ad campaign that identified with his target audience.
Unfortunately, real life does not work like movies. But the concept is similar; you will need to commit yourself to understand your target audience, in order to create an online presence that will attract customers.
If you do not like spending time in a restaurant, perhaps you shouldn’t open one. If you know nothing about women’s fashion, don’t try and create an online store selling women’s clothes.
Put yourself in the mind of your target audience and try to view your product through their eyes. Understand their interests outside of your business, so you will be able to know how to market to them.
Business Planning Tip 1:
WHERE TO START?
Businesses all begin at different starting points. I have worked with clients who started their business because they want to make more money. Some of my clients wanted to be their own boss, while others began their companies accidentally by falling into something they love to do. Regardless of your starting point, you have the desire to sell products or services to customers.
There are so many options on how to get your business started: there are do-it-yourself website builders, online courses to start a business, blogs, online portals to hire people, and so many blogs to read.
There is a good chance this blog is not your first attempt at starting your business. Many of my new clients have previously worked with other business development experts and web developers or tried to get started on their own.
In fact, I really enjoy working with new clients after they attend seminars because they’re fired up, excited and are willing to invest in their business. Ironically, many of these seminars feature content on how to build a business, but yet many attendees remain confused about where to start.
Business Planning Tip 2:
Many of these seminars and events are narrowly focused and do not explain the big picture. Please note, not every event is like this. However, many entrepreneurs created their success with a specific formula, which does not apply to every business model.
Unfortunately, these seminars do not take into account the student’s background, business or knowledge level. All too often, these seminars are narrowly focused on one aspect of the business, like social media marketing for example. Many of the seminars miss the mark on business planning, market research and identifying opportunity.
Entrepreneurs are so ready to take their product to market; however, they have not researched to understand their opportunity. Is this the right product? Is this the right demographic?
For example, several start-up formulas take a heavy online approach using video marketing. Several of my clients are not comfortable with creating videos or audio for their business.
On the other hand, sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone and see what works for your business. It is safe to say that every new entrepreneur needs guidance along the way from someone who has been there before.
There are thousands of different ways to connect with your target audience. You have to find what works for you and learn how to attract your potential customers to your offers.
But we are getting too far ahead of ourselves. We first must start with a business plan. Your business plan is the most important piece of your company, and it is never too late to revisit your plan.
Business Planning Tip 3:
Did you already write a business plan? That is great! Don’t skip this section though. I promise that every business owner will need to review this, even if you feel that your plan is perfect as-is.
The first place to start with your business plan is with your customers. Yes, you read that right. From day 1, just focus on your customers. For years I didn’t understand this. I didn’t see the human element of sales nor did I understand the psychology of why people buy. But let’s face it, I am just an average student after all.
Everyone wants something and your goal is to provide people with what they want. Explaining why they want this and how this thing you are selling will give them pleasure. Let’s face it — marketing is just about pain and pleasure.
If you can take away one item from this blog, make sure it is learning who your target audience is and how to solve a problem in their lives. Start by understanding your audience and what frustrates them.
Is there something keeping them up at night or causing pain? Is it emotional or physical? If you solve their problems, you will create success in your life. Yes, success really is that easy. Solve your customer’s problems, and you will have a winning product or service.
You should also pay close attention to infomercials on TV. It’s silly to say, but the marketing people behind many of those products have really honed this skill.
And in many cases, the skill of visually expressing pain and pleasure is — at times — entertaining. While writing your business plan, keep those infomercials in mind, in addition to your audience and their frustrations. It’s time to start writing.
Business Planning Tip 4:
What is the objective of your business?
·Who is your target audience?
·What are their frustrations?
Why do they need to buy your product?
·How does your product make your customer’s life better
·What makes your product better than your competitor’s product?
·How can you beat your competitor in the marketplace?
As you begin filling in the blanks, your product’s marketing plan will reveal itself.
Business Planning Tip 5:
FOR THE PEOPLE
One of the top complaints from business owners is low engagement on their social media accounts. “How do I get more comments, likes, shares, follows and fans?”
All too often the business owner will jump to blame Facebook for changing their systems or Twitter for being a horrible place for conversations. But this is not the real problem.
The problem is much bigger than likes on social media. Social media is only illuminating the bigger issue in the business, not connecting with your customers. If you are unable to connect with your audience, they may not ever purchase from you. If they make a purchase and your customer care is terrible, there is a good chance they will not purchase again.
It is crazy that my dry cleaner is better at customer care, follow-up, email marketing, and social media than most businesses. It is dry cleaning; there is nothing exciting about it!
But for some reason, the company invested effort into creating a great experience. Some of that is automated, which we will get into in detail in future blogs, but some aspects of their customer care began in the beginning.
That is where you need to start with your business. Without your people, you will not have a business. Your people include your customers, potential customers, and employees. Put their interests above yours and the bottom line, and you will improve your probability of sustainable success.
Business Planning Tip 6:
DO NOT DABBLE
Commit yourself 100% to your business and do not let anyone distract or move you from your path to success. It is crazy how we can read a blog or watch a video from our mentor, and rethink our plan. Don’t let it happen. You can lose weeks or months by changing your plan.
See your plan through to completion, and if it doesn’t work, feel free to backtrack and retest that idea that you had. Keep a journal of notes on your ideas and go back to test ideas that were not part of your original plan.
Stay focused and don’t listen to the naysayers. The only people you should take advice from are those who you look up to, and you would happily trade places with them. There are so many people online today who are giving horrible advice and leading entrepreneurs in the wrong direction.
Although the Internet gives everyone the ability to have a voice, when it comes to your business, stay focused and do not let others lead you astray. If someone gives you advice, ask them to see some validation on why you should take their advice.
Think about your business as your baby, you wouldn’t trust the health and well-being of your baby to anyone with an Internet connection, would you? Be careful of who you trust online and always ask questions.
Remember, your time is your most valuable commodity and you must remove your time from the equation in order to create wealth. You cannot get rich while working at an hourly rate.
Business Planning Tip 7:
WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
Is your fear holding you back? Are you scared of failure? Fearful you will not have the money to pay your bills this month or scared that you don’t know how to create success?
There are so many fears that can hold us back from success but know that fears are not real. Eviction, on the other hand, is real. I know because I have been asked to leave when I previously couldn’t pay rent. But the fear of not being able to pay rent is not real.
Our fears can often paralyze us and hold us back from creating success. We spend more time worrying about our fears and the unknown that we lose time thinking about creating wealth. Train your mind to remove the fears and replace the fears in your mind with positive thoughts of success.
When I start thinking about success, I imagine creating solutions and thinking of ways how I can help people. What keeps you awake at night? Paying your bills on time? Thinking about how you will afford that next big purchase? Worried about money in general?
Thinking of ways to help people keeps me awake at night. Sure, the name of this blog is Million Dollar Plan, but it is not all about money to me. Money is only a tool to help us get to where we want to be. And I want to help more people change their lives for the better.
I want to help entrepreneurs build successful businesses, hire more staff, pay their staff well, and encourage others to give to those who are less fortunate than us. Without money, none of that dream is possible.
Business Planning Tip 8:
YOUR BIGGEST HURDLE
You just have to push through or it will take years to accomplish your goals. Yes, procrastination comes in many different shapes and sizes, disguised as a friend inviting you out for a drink, or even as a celebration of your success.
I wouldn’t be surprised if procrastination is one of the biggest factors to businesses failing. Owners can misplace advertising budgets, hire the wrong people or make fatal mistakes with their businesses.
But I believe that all mistakes can be resolved. It just takes the willingness to make a difference and taking massive action.
Business Planning Tip 9:
TAKING MASSIVE ACTION
First, what is massive action?
If you just take action, you can achieve a six-figure business in the first year, which is not very hard to do if you commit yourself to success. However, massive action is the act of taking your goals and multiplying by
10. Then, take the goal and build a new plan to reach for higher success. I encourage every client I work with to think bigger.
If you have a plan for opening one store this year, let’s figure out how to open 10 stores instead. If you want to become a best-selling author this year, how do we launch 10 new blogs to the best seller list?
Sometimes our goals are far beyond our reach, but if we set our goals too low, we will not take massive action to reach our goals.
My favorite stories are about desperation and starting from nothing because stories are motivational and uplifting. A few entrepreneurs have gone from homeless to millionaire in just a few years. How is that possible? They move like the building is on fire!
There are so many new businesses starting every day, and many of these entrepreneurs have some startup capital to get started. Yet, many of these middle-class entrepreneurs get beat out by people starting with nothing.
Perhaps I like these stories because I can relate. I started with nothing. Even though I never thought of myself as being homeless, it’s only because I have always had someone to lean on for support.
The point here is it doesn’t matter where you are starting, or how much money you are starting with. You only need the desire to do whatever it takes to be successful, and you need to work like you are desperate and you hit rock bottom.
The next problem that you will run into is complacency, and this will be another tough hurdle in your business. Again, you will need to push through and always remind yourself why you started this business and what you are working towards.
Business Planning Tip 10:
Complacency can be overcome by writing down your goals — daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Yes, I have goals for each segment of time, and then I track these goals through to completion or failure.
Without goals, it is easy to fall into contentment and be fine with your current situation. I’ve experienced this before, and many of my friends and family operate in a constant state of complacency, which is perfectly fine.
But you might wake up one day, as I did, and say “my biggest fear is mediocrity.” I define mediocre as, “not improving myself or my situation from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year.”
Growing up, I was always told that “you can be anything you want to be.” And I think that went in one ear and out the other, like many other things my parents told me when I was a kid. However, I believe that something stuck in my subconscious mind — I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
And no, I did not believe this coming out of college or even in my early career. After taking a job in New York City and seeing how the top 1 percent lived, I started to understand what they meant.
I set goals for myself — smaller daily goals, all the way up to mega goals that I have not achieved yet (this blog becoming a bestseller is one of them). But as I am writing these words, obviously the blog is not a best seller.
What I know is that it will become a best-selling blog, regardless because I refuse to let this blog fail. You know how sometimes you say things out loud, but you really don’t believe your own words?
That doesn’t happen to me. What I say CAN and WILL happen.
Once you fully embrace this mindset and set your goals high, watch out world! Here comes ___(fill in your name here)
If you want something, put together a plan to achieve it. Start your plan at the goal and work backward with small tasks to reach the end goal. Fill in the parts you don’t know with advice from people who have accomplished those tasks before.
This is really not difficult and works with just about any goal that you can set for yourself. The number one thing is to not spread yourself too thin or to bite off more than you can chew.
Pick one goal and create a path to achieve it. If the path or goal changes a bit, that is fine. Just don’t lose sight of why you started and never quit. And always take massive action.
Business Planning Tip 11:
IT IS GO TIME
Some of you might be thinking now “my goal is to become the wealthiest person on the planet, revolutionize every industry and become a business tycoon. Matt’s blog said that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. So it is going to happen.”
However, you need to stay inside your genius zone as you are crafting your idea. That is not to say you cannot plan for your time in the equation to study your industry more in-depth as you become the top producer.
Regardless, now I have enough money to test my ideas to try and make them happen. Create your plan around your ideas that you can execute to build wealth, then leverage your wealth to invest in yourself and solving the world’s problems.
My inspiration is Elon Musk, an entrepreneur who started a software company, Zip, in 1995 that sold for $307 million four years later. Musk then rolled his earnings into a new company that became PayPal.
A few years later, Musk sold PayPal to eBay and walked away with $165 million, which then he invested in projects like SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Hyperloop. Here is a guy who started in software and now is planning manned missions to Mars.
If Musk took his father’s $28,000 investment to start up Zip2 and invested it into his dream of private manned missions to Mars, he would have wasted every penny.
However, he took a small investment and became a millionaire in a few years, then reinvested into making his otherworldly dreams a reality. Twenty years after borrowing money from his father, Musk is revolutionizing industries and inspiring entrepreneurs around the world.
If your idea is to travel to distant galaxies, or create a new app in iTunes, regardless of how big or how small, your dreams and ideas are yours. Don’t let anyone take those away from you. However, create realistic plans to achieve your goals by creating wealth and leveraging your influence to make your dreams happen.
Business Planning Tip 12:
YOUR MILLION DOLLAR IDEA
I cannot give you your million-dollar idea. What I can do is encourage you to dig deeper. Think bigger and reach beyond the limits that you place on yourself.
One of the best places to start is to look at your competition. In many cases, your competition has been in business for years longer than you have, and they have spent their own money testing what is and isn’t working. With that theory in mind, you can assume the advertising and presence your competitors have is what is working today.
Or perhaps your competition is going about business all wrong, and your opportunity is in filling the void they are not filling with their products and services. That is up for you to decide. And yes, you would be correct if you said to yourself, “this sounds like a guessing game.” Because that is exactly what this is — guessing.
As you become more seasoned in business, your guessing might become better and perhaps you become a great guesser. I consider myself a seasoned guesser, meaning I can look at any part of a company’s online presence and guess how I would make it better. Then I can execute that plan faster than most others because I have already tested the idea in the past.
Start by learning how to get your prospective clients and customers to pay attention to your message. Although it is not easy, this is the time to leverage a mentor or someone who knows what to look for in this situation. And yes, I try my best to respond to every email that I receive with the best advice I can give.
As you are drafting your million-dollar plan, keep in mind a basic outline for startup capital, resources and your time. Estimate how much money it will take to get your plan moving, what resources you will need, and start creating timelines to achieve your goals. Also, keep in mind that money is easy to come by if you have the right plan.
Again, if you get stuck at any point in your planning process or if you get the plan on paper and you are not confident, find someone who can help you create your breakthrough in your planning.
If you cannot find anyone to help you, email me and I will help you the best I can. Think big, set your goals high, create a timeline and hold yourself accountable. Take massive action and get started on your plan today!
Business Planning Tip 13:
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Listen to your customers, if you do not already have customers, then you should survey your friends and family. Leverage every source of information you can, create your marketing research and define your market opportunity.
There are so many ways to approach your venture and identifying your opportunities. Some say to look for gaps in the marketplace, while others suggest that a great place to start researching is where your future competitors are failing. You will find the best brainstorming environment that works for you.
For me, I have had every big idea while I am in the shower. This is not a lie. I spend my time in thought exercises and even have found myself copywriting while in the shower. Perhaps that is why someone created a tape recorder for the shower years back. Some people sing I create million-dollar business plans.
Once you have the idea, start surveying your potential customers and getting an understanding of their frustrations and how you can solve their frustrations with your product or service. Understand why people buy similar products, out of necessity or as an impulse.
Break down the buying habits, and start spending your time people watching in stores. There is much to learn from people in shopping malls, and I learned this from years of being dragged to malls against my will.
I am the other type of buyer, one who is in and out. I have a need, and this product solves my need and I would like to purchase. Often I will do a quick price compare, leveraging the Internet to see if I can find the product cheaper online.
Then I take into consideration how quickly I need the item, and I make my decision. If I am your target demographic, take this information into consideration as you are building your marketing plan.
Understand who your customers are, and what frustrates them. Create solutions and show the value of your product. Do not be afraid to price your product high to be the premium product on the market, or do not be afraid to explore the other end of the spectrum and beat your competitors on price.
Regardless, understand why people buy and use your product to fill a gap in their lives. If you accomplish this, you will have a winning product and business.
Business Planning Tip 14:
While creating your Million Dollar Plan, start thinking about how you can stand out from the crowd. If your product or service is plain, then you will need to stand out in other ways.
Create a loud brand and make a noise in your industry. Become a disrupter, either with your innovation or with your marketing. But keep in mind, the more ordinary your business is the more money for advertising it will take to stand out.
The more noise and disruption that you can make, the more people will share your product with their friends and family on social media. All too often my clients ask me why their messages are not getting likes and shares on social media. It is primarily because the message is simple and straightforward. Let your creativity flourish and be willing to do something different.
The company that comes to mind is the Dollar Shave Club. This company set out to shake up the razor blade industry by offering decent razors at a cheaper price.
Then the company went forward to create a goofy video that went viral on social media. In fact, I tried to buy razors from this company and they were so much on back order that I was unable to purchase an item from them.
Although razors are boring, somehow the company found a way to stand out and get massive attention. Now their cost for marketing is much less than having to force their advertising into the world.
What do I mean by that? Keep in mind, any company can sell millions in products, but it might cost you millions to sell millions. The secret here is to find a voice and stand out where you will not need a hefty ad budget to get noticed.
Leverage the latest technology and find new ways to connect with your audience. This all begins with your marketing plan as you come up with big ideas to reach millions of eyeballs.
You’ll then create an offer or marketing message that will get those people to take action. Research your competition and brainstorm ideas. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Business Planning Tip 15:
Research your competition, study them, buy their products, break down their processes and find out what makes them tick. And if you are thinking to yourself that you do not have any competition, let me stop you right there. You do have some form of competition, look harder for them.
Break down your competitors into three different groups: 1) the top producers 2) your peers and 3) those who are not executing very well.
The top producers are those who you would happily trade places with. Perhaps their product is the “talk of the town” or they just seem to be everywhere. Break down how they became a top producer and find ways to “hack” their methods to follow their path to success.
You can learn from your peers, who are on the same level as you. Do not put yourself on a higher level than them, or think you are above them. Even if you think you are better than they are, you can still learn something to capture more customers. Also, keep in mind your peers might one day become a top producer.
Lastly in your marketplace are those who are lost and are trying to compete with you, but you can’t help and think they are one day away from going out of business.
Don’t let these people in your space fool you. Instead, keep an eye on them. Someone like me can come through and invest in a company or build resources to create a successful online brand and take over your place in the market. I have seen this happen before!
The moral of this story is to keep an eye on everyone in your marketplace, regardless of where they are in the process of marketing and their online presence. Also, know that likes on Facebook are no indication of how well a company is performing in sales. Likes do not pay the bills!
Try to go down to your local food store and buy anything in the store with your likes on Facebook. I have tried, it definitely does not work! It does not matter how many followers you have on social media;
it is very hard to post a message and then cash in that message for a bite to eat. Always remember to stay focused on the real goals and every post on social media is just one more touch with your potential buyer before they make a purchase.
Immerse yourself in your industry and do anything you can to connect with every influencer and network with those who can help take your business to the next level.
Invest your time and money in trade shows, events, blogs and any other education that can give you a leg up on your competition. Becoming a top producer takes pulling out all the stops and giving it everything you got.
Business Planning Tip 16:
Learn from your customers and find out what makes them tick. Understand their frustrations, their fears and what keeps them up at night.
If you are able to solve their problems, you will reach your goals. How do you learn all this information? Interview your customers or your potential customers if you do not have any yet.
You can accomplish this by making surveys, or just the old-fashioned way of picking up the phone to follow-up with your customers. Trust me, a majority of your customers will appreciate the human touch and the sound of a caring voice.
Often, we hide behind technology but take the effort to reach beyond it to make your customers feel special. Sure technology can do this at times for us, and with email automation, this can be simple. But don’t hide behind your technology all the time.
As you are building your business, think of ways you can go above and beyond for your customers. This also comes back to researching your competitors, finding ways to help your customers feel better doing business with you, and they will become repeat customers.
Here is the hierarchy of my business: customers, employees, and then myself. Always put your customers first in your business and your employees second.
Create raving fans through understanding what your customers want and then provide that for them. All too often my clients can become disconnected from their customers, and running the business can be quite overwhelming.
I’ve worked with massive companies over the years, and I can honestly say that customer service is not top of mind for many CEOs. Am I saying that every CEO should micromanage their customer service? No. But every CEO should have a report or pulse on what their customers are thinking.
Business Planning Tip 17:
SOLVING A PROBLEM
As you are creating your product or service, brainstorm what people are complaining about and start watching trends. Open your eyes and become aware of the problems that are facing people in their everyday lives.
Ultimately, this activity of brainstorming has created some of the most successful businesses over the last 20 years. Or at the very least, entrepreneurs have leveraged technology and frustrations to create amazing products and services that make our lives easier.
There are some amazing websites online that you can leverage to keep your pulse on trends and new businesses launching.
For example, I follow tech blogs and other investment websites that report on the newest technology coming out, and I use these publications to brainstorm the projects that I am working on. Submerse yourself in innovation and the new trends. Then you will eventually find yourself becoming innovative and trendsetting.
You do not have to look far to see the trendsetters and the innovation today that is powering our world that we live in. And if you think that everything worth inventing has already been invented, you are dead wrong. Entrepreneurs will continue being innovative and changing the landscape of the marketplace as long as there are people still alive on this planet.
When we venture off to colonize other worlds, it will be entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who take us there and perhaps entrepreneurs like you who begin changing the new world that has not been colonized yet.
It truly is an exciting time to be alive and as entrepreneurs, we can make our business improving the lives of others. Currently, there are more than three billion people with the Internet, and entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg are trying to expand it to reach those who are not already connected.
That means, that sometime in the future, there could be double or triple that amount of people who can be reached through Facebook marketing.
Think about this - if you are able to create a product that improves people’s lives, you could potentially reach over one billion people today on Facebook alone. And in the future, you could reach more as Facebook grows over the next 10 years.
Similar to Facebook, Google has also a reach of over one billion people and continues to grow. If you could earn just $1 from those people, you would be one of the top wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world.
Is earning $1 per person your business plan? Probably not. But it is interesting to think about how far technology has come in the last 10 years, or even think back to starting a business before the Internet.
Is creating wacky viral content solving a problem? No. But creating the next system that helps circulate news faster could be the next big thing. Or perhaps a new way to learn about viral content.
It is exciting to think about what is possible, and what could be the next big thing. You could be its founder. You may also find a way to cure sicknesses, or how to travel to the further planet in our galaxy.
Two problems to solve our pollution and energy. Someone should get started on the pollution, while another begins work on cancer and other sicknesses that are killing millions of people each year.
Regardless of the path you take, be sure that you are interested in your business and you feel that you could work on your business for the rest of your life. If there is even a slight chance that you will hate the new company you are starting, take a step back and evaluate again why you are starting your business.
To me, I love helping people, and the more entrepreneurs that I can help, the more people who are less fortunate that I can help. That is why I donate a percentage of every dollar made from my online training programs to charity. And I encourage my clients to do the same.
With more of us giving back and being thoughtful in helping others, perhaps we can truly make a difference in the world to improve other’s lives for the better.
Business Planning Tip 18:
PAIN & PLEASURE
Hopefully, some of you are working on solving all the world’s problems! But for those of you who are not curing cancer, we will need to talk about advertising a bit. Let’s face it, if your business is curing cancer, then you will have no need for understanding how to advertise.
However, for those of us who will not have the benefit of massive media exposure, we will need to learn how to create our own message, write our own story and leave an impression with our potential customers.
Successful advertising boils down to the pain and pleasure. Again, think back to those cheesy infomercials on TV, and in your best announcer voice say: “Are you tired of this” as the black and white video plays of some actor over-acting on something that is painful.
Back to the announcer's voice: “Introducing, the all new gadget! This will change your life forever!” And the video goes to color, and the product is on screen making the actor’s life so much easier. That is pain and pleasure.
Without your product, a person’s life will be just miserable. But their life becomes easier and better by purchasing the item. Does every ad need to follow this template?
No. But a majority of advertising does follow the pain and pleasure template for attracting customers. At some point in your marketing, test out different ads and try to follow this template to see how you can showcase the benefits of your product by solving the frustrations of your customers.
This is perhaps the number one thing that could be holding your business back from creating your game-changer ad campaign. Honestly, you only need one great ad or slogan to change your life and your business forever!
Just turn on the TV and watch for the commercials, and I guarantee you that there will be at least one commercial that has been using the same slogan for more than a year. Some companies are still using the same ads, rotated in years later.
All too often, I see new clients who complain about traffic sources or advertising to say, “I tested that and it does not work.” I do not believe these statements one bit.
The ad platform will work, with the correct ad and the right landing page and the right message. If you are unable to write compelling messages, learn how to write better sales copy.
Hire someone to work with you, and train you on how to write better text and create better advertising. A poor performing ad campaign is usually an indication that something is wrong with your targeting, or perhaps your understanding of the market opportunity and your customer’s frustrations. Take a deeper look beyond saying, “It just didn’t work.”
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Business Planning Tip 19:
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s go through the brainstorming process for finding your market opportunity and better understanding the target demographics. Definitely, leverage the free tools that are online through Google and Facebook to find your target audience size.
Think about Google as the tool that helps you reach customers who are looking for something, and Facebook as the device that will help you find customers based on their interests.
For example, if your business is fixing iPhones after someone drops theirs, you would use Google to target “iPhone screen replacement” or other keywords that people would type into Google.
And Google has a free keyword tool that will help you break down the location and volume that is being searched, trends in when the volume has spiked and the competition for that keyword.
Google also provides alternate keywords to consider and the estimated cost per click to put your offer in front of the potential customer who dropped their phone recently.
However, Facebook would not be the best place to advertise this company, as it is harder to target people who dropped their phone recently and need repairs.
It’s not to say that marketing on Facebook would not work for this business. It just shows how this company could leverage Google better for on-demand services like phone repair.
On the other hand, a new author selling a blog might find Facebook to be more helpful. The author could target by interests and knowing what future readers are interested in would help guide you towards your potential future sales.
Facebook gathers information about its users and aggregates that content through the Facebook Ads platform to allow advertisers to target users based upon their interests, demographics and other trends that have been compiled into the system generated from your activity on the social network site.
Sharing a bit of my marketing strategy for this blog, I will be leveraging Facebook mostly to target my ads to people who have bought business blogs from my competitors. Or perhaps target my competitors who have not written blogs yet.
With that targeting strategy through Facebook, I am able to place my ads in front of my competitor’s audience with the hopes that if the customer is interested in my competitor’s message, perhaps they might be interested in my blog and offers. In future blogs we will dive deeper into marketing strategies, and when is the best time to use Facebook and Google.
These are not the only forms of advertising. There are other methods such as retargeting and other forms of interest-based display ads on Google.
However, the meaning of mentioning this was not to go in-depth with an advertising strategy, rather to help you understand where the opportunity for reaching your target audience might exist and some of the tools that are available today to help you research, plan and execute an advertising campaign.
Business Planning Tip 20:
Entrepreneurship is on the rise and will continue to expand to the furthest reaches of the planet. If you are starting up a new industry today, you could potentially have new competitors next month.
All this is thanks to the ability to launch new websites and advertise new products and services faster than ever before. How do you continue to compete in the marketplace?
The answer is education. Educate your customers and potential customers about the benefits of your product or service. You can help them understand the benefits of purchasing from you through text, video, and imagery. Leverage the blog on your website, and if you do not have a blog, get one started.
Use your posts to educate your potential customers, and also to reach those customers through your social media profiles and advertising. The better you can educate your prospects, the more likely you can be to earn them as a customer.
Create a strong brand and online presence, educate your customer and engage your customer. Just as I am writing this, I posted a funny video to my Facebook page. Does that video educate? Not really.
Then how is a funny video helping? I posted the video to my Facebook fan page to get my followers to think about viral content for their website. So in essence, I am entertaining and educating at the same time in what other people are doing to grow their audiences through social media.
The only way to keep your product and services at the forefront of your customers and potential customers is by posting regularly and staying consistent with your emailing messaging as well.
Consistency is important through social media, and then you can follow up with advertising to reinforce your offers and encourage prospective clients to buy right from your social media pages.
Also, you can use retargeting to capture the visitor’s information and start advertising your offers through Facebook and Google. Facebook will track the user as they visited your website.
Your ad campaigns can start with Facebook Ads as a follow-up to that education through your blog. And likewise, on Google, your ads can follow through other websites that support Google ads throughout the Internet.
Business Planning Tip 21:
The images that you use — your logo, the words posted to your social media, the emails that you send — all paint your brand identity and creates your voice. Often, new business owners will trust this voice to a graphic designer and, at times, the budget for hiring a branding consultant can hold back businesses from making a good impression.
This leaves new companies handcuffed to poor graphic representations of their businesses and possibly conveying the wrong message to the marketplace.
You can only make a first impression once, but rebranding is an option. For some, rebranding can be expensive, so I definitely recommend saving money and putting effort into getting your brand identity right the first time. Luckily there are tools that you can leverage to create a brand image without breaking the bank.
If you feel that your brand is not being represented very well by your graphics or what you have already put into the world, it is OK. We have all made mistakes and even branding experts like myself had created a brand and voice, then have pivoted over the years to find our true calling.
During the time period of three years, I was working on a variety of different products and services, trying to find the best solutions that I can provide to the marketplace, and falling short on several occasions. However, I was able to continuously pivot on failures and reuse most of my content on the next solution that I launch for my members.
It has taken years for me to find my voice, and at times my communities have sat dormant, waiting for the right time and plan to go forward.
Rebranding and pivoting is an important part of being an entrepreneur and taking massive action, so do not get discouraged if you come to the conclusion that you need to pivot for your business. There are times that a step back is necessary to take a step forward into our greatness.
Business Planning Tip 22:
YOUR COMPANY NAME
This blog is not going to name your company for you, but you can follow along through the steps that I have used to name several companies over the years. Naming a company comes down to four questions:
1) Branding yourself or building a business?
2) Is your company expanding beyond your city?
3) Include your product or service in the name?
4) Can you get that name as a domain?
Let’s start with branding yourself or building a business, which should be super easy for you to answer. If you are planning on creating a public figure or making yourself into a celebrity of sorts or author or musician, then consider using your name. Otherwise, let’s go to the drawing board for coming up with a company name.
Keep in mind, the holy grail of branding a new company is to make your company name work as a verb, and even more challenging, making your brand a household name.
An example is Google, as people refer to using a search engine to “Google it.” Because of this and many other reasons, Google owns roughly 65% of the U.S. search engine market share in 2016.
And you can imagine how difficult it is for a company like Bing to compete with a verb as a colossal giant in the search engine space. Will your company name becomes a household name? It is possible, not probable though.
For argument’s sake, let’s say your brand is not going to become a household name, but do you have plans in the future to expand beyond your city or region? I have run into this problem with clients in the past where the company is branded as the city, state or region where the company started and then is looking to expand beyond that area.
It is important to have an idea of expansion in your business plan at the beginning and plan accordingly. If you start locally and need to rebrand for growth, that is great and means you are taking massive action. Congratulations on your success. But it is definitely helpful to plan this expansion in your business plan from the beginning.
Next, let’s explore using your product or service in your company name, as this is a popular tactic for many small businesses. There is an upside to instantly resonating with your potential customers on exactly what your business does.
Now the question left with the customer is, who is Joe and do they sell more than just cupcakes? Now it is up to you to decide how you wish to brand your business, and you need to evaluate your competition and your future expansion of your business plan.
And this is an example of a company who would not want to invest in large advertising budgets to create brand awareness for a new local cupcake shop. This is why your business plan and expansion ideas would come into play.
Your last option is to decide if you are going to create a word as the name of your business. This is equally as popular as a trend but will require branding ad campaigns to make your potential customers aware of what your business does.
One of the latest trends has been to misspell words, often by removing a vowel, usually for the purpose of creating a unique name that has an available domain for sale.
The availability of domains is the most important factor in naming a company and is often the most overlooked variable in the equation. I have come up with so many great company names in the past, just to be let down by the domain name is unavailable in domain registrars.
This is why I always have a domain registrar search open while I am brainstorming names for businesses. Also understanding that a dot com is far better than do anything else, at least in speaking for the United States. Dot anything else is easily forgotten, and also is not easily shared through word of mouth advertising.
Business Planning Tip 23:
REGISTERING A DOMAIN NAME
While I am brainstorming business names, I often have my favorite domain registrar company’s website open. With each new business name idea, I type into the search function to see if that domain is already taken in a dot-com format. As mentioned before, my target is dot com, definitely for the main website.
Other landing pages and promotions I can buy dot net, or dot other domains. Lately, I have been purchasing dot xyz domains, this following the rebrand of Google to ABC.XYZ. I figured that if dot xyz was good for Google, then it should be good for me to own domains with dot xyz.
Honestly, though, the decision is completely up to you and the branding for your business. Over the years, I have worked with massive website companies, and a few of these companies have had issues with copycats.
Because of copycats and other potential reputation issues, we started buying up domains in every extension we could get our hands on. And we were also buying misspellings of domains for the main site. Then we would redirect all the domains to the main site.
The only purpose of this is that no one else can buy that domain and publish content in competition to the main site, and if someone typed into the search bar with a misspelling, then they would redirect to the main site. Nine out of 10 companies should not worry as much about this, stay focused on the main domain for your business.
I mention all this domain purchasing because that project became very expensive and had very little positive return on investment that could be seen. We attempted to purchase every domain for the main site URL, in every country.
Some countries have laws that prohibit such sale, as a business license or offices in that country are required by their laws. In those cases, we skipped those domains.
All in all, I do not remember exactly how many domains we purchased, but I do remember that the cost was over $100,000 per year to maintain ownership of hundreds of domains.
Some domains require payments of over $200 per year, and some are even higher. I did not believe this was a smart move at the time, and after seeing a zero return on that investment, I can say it was not a good decision still to this day.
If you are operating in a different country, research the domains for your country and be sure to host your website on servers inside your country. This will help with ranking in search engines locally, instead of hosting in a different country and attempting to rank in your country.
For example, if you live in the United Kingdom, attempt to buy the domain dot co dot UK. Then try and host your website on systems that are inside of the United Kingdom.
Not to say it is impossible to rank a dot com site in the United Kingdom search engines, but search engine optimization is getting more competitive and you need every advantage you can get to beat your competitors.
Without going too deep into search engine optimization strategies in regards to purchasing domains, just remember to purchase the shortest domain name possible, and then maintain that brand throughout all your social media.
Lastly, don’t stay too focused on search engine optimization; however, do not avoid search engine optimization and ranking in search engines completely. Often I will set up campaigns that are taking search engine rankings into consideration, just as the icing on the cake for traffic.
Meaning, I will use advertising and marketing strategies not attributed to search engines to create 80% of the website traffic, then 20% or so of the website traffic for the site can be from search engines.
This is not an exact number for every business, so don’t say “Matt says I should have 20% search engine traffic when it is the opposite and I have 80% of my traffic from search engines.”
Fact is, I am just giving examples with numbers from campaigns I have worked on in the past. Some businesses might have a majority of the sales coming from search engines, and that is where attention should be focused, where others have 80% coming from other sources and therefore search engines should not be the focus for your attention.
Again, another strong reason why you need a great business plan, and a mentor who can guide you through these marketing strategies that you might not have had previous experience with testing.
Find someone like me who can help guide you through these processes, as they have accomplished and tested ideas before. Leverage our experience to save yourself time and money. More on A/B testing in future blogs.
Business Planning Tip 24:
You found the perfect company name. That’s perfect! Now you need a graphic representing that name as your identity for your business. When developing logos, I tap as many designers as possible and there are a few ways to do this. Sites that I have used are 99 Designs, Fiverr, Upwork and other freelancer communities where I can hire for mock-ups.
Typically, I will ask for a couple of mock-ups per freelancer, and I will ask several freelancers. You will find that most graphic artists have a certain style and often some designer styles can clash with your vision.
Therefore, I typically leverage several designers through different methods and plan to invest a few hundred, if not several thousand dollars looking for the perfect design to match the vision. The secret to extracting the best work from graphic designers is twofold:
1) communicating your vision as clearly and completely as possible
2) giving positive feedback to the designer and being constructive with criticism
We will get more in-depth with team building and how to extract the best from your team in future blogs, but for now, realize that the best way to bring out the best in your people is through positive reinforcement.
And unless you are a graphic designer, the only way you will have an awesome looking brand identity is if you treat your graphic designer well. Or else you will soon find yourself looking for a new graphic designer.
Now you have a few designs, and you have asked your friends what they like and don’t like. You have an idea what you like but are back and forth on the design. If you are not 100%, go back to the drawing board until you are 100% happy with the design.
I know that I have said already in the blog that pivoting is OK, but you need to feel good about your logo. The smaller things are not as important, but your logo will need to go on everything. And you need to send out for business cards as soon as possible to get moving.
Business Planning Tip 25:
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Typically, I begin with the social media presence quickly, and it is important to keep your brand and voice similar across all platforms. Now with social media graphics, you have to start considering your offers and slogans.
The best offers are free. If by chance, you are able to create a free offer, free gift, free workshop or anything free, this is the best way to get someone to take action.
The best action is an email list sign up for a free offer. Without getting too ahead of ourselves in talking about sales funnels, understand that our main objective on any page that you have control over will be to get someone to give their name and email address.
Next, you want to be sure to use your social media space to reinforce your slogan or main message. Your slogan should be thoughtful as you have researched your competition and customers. From your research, you have created your slogan that solves a problem for your customers and competes in your marketplace.
One of my favorite slogans is the Geico slogan: “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance.” Why do I like it so much? Because it has the elements of time, discount and what it is all in the slogan. Your slogan could be the difference between six figures a year and seven figures a year profit in your business.
Lead towards the action you want the user to take. Do not let your website or social media visitor view your page for more than five seconds without understanding the following:
1)Who is this company?
2)What does this company do?
3)Why should I consider this company?
4)What is the next step I should take?
Do you see how many different messages need to be conveyed graphically in less than five seconds? This is why I like the Geico slogan. They have branded the company over the years through television, radio, print and online advertising to immediately understand this message is from Geico.
The slogan says “car insurance” in plain text, the company is asking you to consider just for a free quote, and the next step is to take less than 15 minutes out of your day to see if you can save money by switching. This is an example of an amazing slogan and ad campaign, in my opinion.
If you are able to come up with an idea that conveys these points for your business, and you are able to instantly connect with your audience at a glance, then your slogan and social media graphics have done their job correctly.
Be sure to track activity before and after the changing of your social media graphics, and note that many companies have seen increases in sales when social media imagery is updated. Always stay top of mind for your customers and potential customers. And social media graphics are a great way to stay connected.
Business Planning Tip 26:
Keep your brand consistent and if you choose to change part of your brand image or your voice, change your image across all platforms. Due to the abundance of options on where to purchase, it is important to keep your customers and website visitors confident they are in the right place.
If your website visitors think for a moment that they are in the wrong place, or get an uneasy feeling that the website they are looking at is not where they want to be, they might leave and never return.
Keep in mind, a percentage of your visitors will take no action and might never return to your website ever again. Be sure to keep your message clear from the first visit, and stay consistent as you are setting up the customer for a sale or sign up.
Think about your website visitors in this way — they could be a rocket scientist with an IQ topping the scale, a genius. But once someone visits your website, they need to be treated like a fifth-grader.
Make everything on your website and social media very simple to understand, so simple that a child could know what to do and what actions to take. The easier your website and social media is to understand and follow along, the higher the success rate of achieving your goals, whether that be a free sign-up or a purchase of a product.
This is important to keep in mind as the inconsistency on your site can raise questions such as, “Am I in the right place? Is this the company that I was looking at before? Should I wait to purchase?” Typically, people do not remember what they had for breakfast, and they will usually not remember to visit back to your website.
If you are not running remarketing campaigns, and if that customer is not already on your email list, there is a chance you can lose them with having inconsistency in your graphics and with your online presence.
Business Planning Tip 27:
PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION
If you have anything published online, know people are paying attention to your content, even if you think no one is watching. At times, we can forget that people are paying attention to our message as we are not getting the likes, comments, shares, and feedback that we are looking for. But trust me, there is at least one person taking notice.
Yes, you can and should utilize tracking and reporting at every point in your marketing that you can possibly set up. But every marketing effort does not guarantee reliable reporting. For example, I can see how many video views, website page visits, listens to my podcast, reach for my advertising impressions, and the list goes on.
However, I am unable to track eyeballs on television ads, newspaper views and other print media like magazines, radio listens, billboard views and other traditional advertising like direct mail pieces.
Perhaps this is one more reason why online marketing is the wave of the future, as reporting on impressions is more realistic in comparison to traditional advertising distribution figures. In this case, if the viewer does not view the page where my ad exists, it is impossible to know.
On the other hand, if I publish videos, blog articles and other content that has received 10 or fewer views, I should not get discouraged because people could find this media in the future. And yes it is possible to create sales with 10 or fewer views. Realistically, it only takes 1 view and 1 sale to make a project worthwhile to me.
That would be a 100% success rate, and then I would begin advertising that video or media to grow my viewership, and hopefully growing my sales at the same rate. Understanding that 100% is not sustainable, but it is definitely a great feeling to keep us motivated to continue making new content.
Most of my content does much better in terms of views and sales, but when I started, my viewership and engagement were terrible.
Entrepreneurs have quit their businesses after horrible failures as I have had, and I can personally name some friends who have quit on their dreams. It is sad, but again, not everyone is ready for success. But it is never too late to get started building your dreams.
So I continue to press on, getting better and better with every post that I publish, and learning how the pros got started and built their networks. I keep pushing on and sales keep rolling in.
For those of you who tried once and failed, the only way no one will purchase is if you stop posting and stop testing new ideas. If you keep working at your talent and continue pressing forward, know that people are paying attention and they will take action. Just keep moving.
Business Planning Tip 28:
Choose your team wisely, train them thoroughly and compensate your team handsomely. Take good care of your people and they will take good care of your business. Be sure to squash issues in your organization quickly and eliminate those with poor attitudes ASAP!
This formula works with two employees or 200 employees. Regardless of how many people work for you, or the organizational chart of how management handles departments, do not allow negativity in your workplace.
Negative thoughts and actions can spread like wildfire, and before you know it, you will be firing entire departments of employees. I have seen this happen before.
Listen to your staff, have an open door policy, encourage new ideas and test their ideas to see if they work. Be sure to test their ideas, because there is nothing more frustrating than saying that you welcome ideas from anyone on your staff and then not executing some of the better ideas from them.
Bottom line, be transparent with feedback and testing results from your staff’s ideas. These activities can raise company morale and will encourage a more creative environment for your staff.
Give positive feedback, and when giving constructive criticism, whether to your staff, freelancer or contractor, always lead with the good points first. Put emphasis on the areas of their work that you truly are happy with and smile when you talk about the good work.
Then when you need to communicate the poor performance, try to still keep an upbeat attitude to discuss. Remember to continue with the positive energy, even when you are delivering bad news.
Inspire your team to want to grow the business and increase sales by offering incentive programs, revenue share and possible bonuses for excellent sales performance.
If your team believes they can improve their lives by helping your company grow, they will take extra special care as they work on their projects. These incentives can bring out the entrepreneurship mindset within your staff, as they become more invested in the business and sales of the product.
I can remember with my last employer, and I say last for two reasons: 1) the last company that paid me a full-time wage with benefits and 2) I will never work for another company again as a full-time employee.
It was frustrating for the first two years, I had the ability to grow revenues for the company significantly and had presented to the owners on a few occasions. But when it came down to implementing my ideas, the owners were hesitant and trod lightly on my big ideas. They eventually gave in years down the road.
As I kept pushing for my ideas, the company’s CEO finally gave way and started executing more of my big expansion plans. After a few successful campaigns, we were adding to the bottom line and improving transparency with our customers.
There were several occasions that I would have quit, and I had other job offers from companies throughout the years, but I stuck around to see where we could grow the business. My patience paid off in the end. Success!
Finally, I started receiving recognition in the office and was promoted to a new position that the CEO created to be his “right-hand man” or whatever that meant. He said, “When I get back from vacation, you will start reporting directly to me on all projects.”
I was excited to move out of my current position as a creative director and into possible revenue share on the projects I was working on. When you are generating millions in revenue, the sharing of wealth was an exciting offer for a broke 20-something-year-old.
Unfortunately, the CEO passed away while on vacation. True story! I can’t make this up. I was really looking forward to expanding under the guidance of my mentor, and growing into a new position or potentially taking over new product development for a company where start-up capital was easy to come by.
That was my end goal, having a seasoned entrepreneur who continued to fund my projects and I could continue to run tests for new product launches without needing to ever chase investor money again.
As an employee you should always keep pushing and eventually, you will reach your goals and move up the company ladder. Then as a CEO, take good care of your employees and continue to let them grow into roles in your organization, and never forget that your employees are the most important value in your business.
The company I worked for was sold, and most of the employees quit or were let go as the new company took over.
Business Planning Tip 29:
I have a love/hate relationship with hiring freelancers over the years, but I keep working with them because I need to find the best teams to handle tasks in their genius zone.
If a team is good at HTML and CSS, I will not hire them to do graphics work for me. I definitely learned my lesson over the years to hire the people who are great at what they do, and then the project manages the tasks as needed to complete diligently.
My biggest frustration in hiring freelancers is over-promising and under-delivering, or teams that cannot complete the work they promised they would complete.
I swear, some people will say anything to land a project, and then make every excuse in the blog on why it is not done. When you start hearing excuses, it might be time to start looking for a new team.
I have often joked about posting projects to freelancer networks, looking for a software developer with experience developing Death Stars in outer space. I am sure that a few offshore freelancers would have 10 years of experience with this development and will be able to complete the project in six weeks.
It is funny to joke about, but when it comes to finding the right help to complete a project, truly the only way to test is by having them start on the first project. It is impossible to hire solely from “case studies” or from “portfolios of work” because freelancers often fabricate experience in order to get hired. It’s sad but true.
The second biggest frustration is after the first successful project, sometimes freelancers can start slacking off or slow down their production. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that freelancers work extra hard on the first project, but it is tough to manage timelines and deadlines if the work is getting completed slower.
Consistency is key and is tough to maintain, so often I look for teams who have worked with other clients over a long time period.
Communication is next on the list, as there really is no substitute for face-to-face time and being able to stand over someone’s shoulder as they are working on a project.
Technology has been great to allow us to connect and collaborate on projects with people from all over the world, but there is something to be said about the old school way of working.
Personally, I am a huge fan of looking over shoulders, which can be the least favorite work method for many creative people or developers; however, to achieve the highest levels of productivity, I can quickly avert poorly designed or misinterpreted projects to pivot quicker. Often,
I will have a freelance team working on a project overnight, as they work on the opposite side of the clock as I do, and when I awake in the morning, I expect to see a completed project. All too frequently, I start my morning checking over the work that was completed to find the concept of the project was completely missed.
If you can overcome the frustrations of working with an outsourced team, and they are able to work to deliver the quality of work you are expecting, on time, you found an awesome team. Treat your team well and continue to support their growth through your business.
The key here is to find the right team of freelancers and treat them well, give positive feedback while maintaining excellent communication and hoping they will continue their level of performance throughout the projects.
When you find the right freelance team, do not let them go. Retraining to your expectations can cause loss of productivity of weeks or even months while training a new team.
Business Planning Tip 30:
Although it depends on your business model, most companies will need to hire an excellent project manager before hiring other positions, like developers or salespeople. When hiring a project manager, I look for someone who is loyal, honest and trustworthy.
If this person is deceitful and they avoid deadlines, they will not make a good project manager. For my business, a good project manager is someone who will stick with me for a long time, as training new staff members can be very expensive.
I also look for a person who can wear different hats and is exceptional at a variety of tasks, but not an all-star at anything specific. Here is why I do not want my project manager to be an all-star or the best at anything: if my project manager is the best CSS person on my team, then all the difficult CSS projects could require his or her time.
Therefore, the management of other tasks becomes a second priority when it should come first. You always want your project manager pushing along team members to complete work in a timely manner, and any distraction from that can delay projects.
The key role of management in your organization should be to work with staff members to remove the blocks that are holding them back from accomplishing their tasks as quickly as possible.
By assigning too many projects to your project manager or any management staff, you can slow production and frustrate your staff. Your projects can become bottlenecked at one person, and this can be a disaster for productivity.
For example, the vice president of marketing at my former company wore so many different hats and was the point person for so many projects that the work that I needed to be reviewed would get pushed off.
With these delays, my projects and timelines were missed, which made me look like I didn’t reach my targeted goals and deadlines. Set up your team for success!
Business Planning Tip 31:
For any company with an online presence, your graphic design team needs to be sharp and on-point with your company brand. Your graphics through social media, on your website and through your marketing will reflect your business to your potential customers; be sure that your message is clear and your branding is consistent.
Over the past 10 years, I have seen graphic design perfection and I have seen failure. And the failures do not fall on the designers; the fault is due to the lack of communication from the owner or visionary of the business.
Graphic designers are not minded readers, and you will need to clearly communicate your message and your vision to the designer. This could take months or years to get the designer to the point they can operate without any directions from management.
You would be setting your business up for failure by consistently hiring and firing graphic designers, and there would be a greater chance that your brand identity will be all over the place. Keep your brand on point by hiring one great designer and keeping your designer happy in order to keep your brand identity consistent.
Sure, you can find copycat designers who can mimic designs from other designers, but you would be far more productive in keeping your core team busy and focused on the brand identity for your company.
For years I was overseeing a graphic design team, where our objectives were less focused on branding and more focused on direct response marketing. In this case, we could hire and fire designers based on their performance. However, most companies do not have hundreds of millions of website visitors a week for testing design concepts, so this business was quite outside the norm.
It was very nice having a large advertising budget to test theories and ideas, and what I learned from that experience was that ugly designs work. So funny to say, but for years we were trying to beat control banner ads, landing pages, and emails that were ugly by design with our tests that were more pretty.
If you have a business where you can A/B test in a controlled environment, encourage your designers to test different ideas and designs to see what works in your business. Perhaps “ugly designs” work for your company as well!
However, if you are unable to test, try to create graphics that are more aesthetically pleasing to the potential customers. Don’t just say, “Matt says ugly works better. Let’s go all-in on ugly!” Don’t make any crazy adjustments to your business without thoroughly testing the concepts.
The creation of graphics for your social media should be a large focus for your ongoing marketing efforts. There are millions of companies who completely mismanage their social media accounts by not posting enough content.
Have your graphics team busy working on tasks like email creation and other projects for your marketing, but remember that they can always work on tasks inside social media accounts.
Create inspirational or other educational images that are posted every day. These posts will continue to grow the reach of your social media accounts and if done right, will elicit more comments, shares, and engagement. Consistent posting should yield sales through social media channels as your social content is engaged by potential customers.
Take your social media accounts seriously, not just the paid traffic but the organic reach of your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels. When testing for organic reach, post 20 or 30 times consistently, then gauge the performance and pivot.
All too often, companies fail by posting once or twice, then pivoting too early. Remember, this is organic reach and you do not need to ‘pull the plug’ too quickly. However, on paid traffic, don’t wait to turn off failed campaigns.
Encourage your creative team to be creative. I know that sounds strange, but when the owner of the business is not creative, then the environment for the creative staff can be completely distracting to the creative process.
During my years living in New York City, I have had the privilege of visiting dozens of offices of big companies that had creative departments, and I was fascinated by the offices that had social areas for games and other perks like refrigerators stocked with beers.
After hours, the creative team would stick around the office and play a variety of games, sometimes talking about work but mostly just chatting about their interests. This was an eye-opening experience, considering at 5 p.m. every day, I was watching my creative staff clock out and leave for the day.
I tested this idea with my team and hooked up a Wii Nintendo, cracked open some beers and played Mario Kart with the team. I really believe that we increased productivity throughout the day by increasing employee morale.
During the time we were playing games after hours, we continued to brainstorm ideas and come up with new creative designs for testing. I believe in a creative department that is unified, at least for a few minutes a week in non-work related activities.
Business Planning Tip 32:
Equal to the graphic design team, your web programmers will have a similar personality, but at times they can speak a completely different language. I am a programmer, but I have been blessed with the ability to communicate with non-technologically minded people, as well as the developers of the world. But I am not your typical web programmer.
A typical web programmer will be someone who likes to focus on the work and work off of task lists. In my experience, many programmers have short fuses for those who are not technically minded, and they prefer to communicate with those who understand technology. There is nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself over and over until you are blue in the face from explaining programming.
I understand that not every programmer is inpatient with a layman, and if you find a patient programmer who is excellent at writing your website code, keep that programmer happy and employed with your firm; you found a rare find.
There are different programmers, front-end and back-end developers; and keep in mind, these programmers are good at what they know and be sure to keep them working in their genius zone.
Don’t ask your back-end programmer to design your website or work on your social media posts. You might look twice and find your programmer touching up their resume if you ask them to work on a project outside their expertise.
Great programmers are very difficult to find, mostly because all the best programmers are currently working on a project. At this moment, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of great programmers buried in code and working to create the next big thing. After completing one project, they are often on the next project.
One of the biggest frustrations that programmers have is the complete lack of understanding of how much time programming actually takes. The perception of most non-technically minded company owners is that web programming is fast or cheap.
Yes, you can only pick two of the three, and this is my favorite graphic to show clients or non-technical minded people. Do you want the work done fast and cheap? Or good and fast? Which is your choice? Because we can adapt to your specific business needs just as long as you do not require all three.
Now here is where many business owners start getting into trouble with their programming: “we can just outsource the programming offshore.” And with those words, you can almost guarantee a rise in your blood pressure and loss of sleep working with offshore development teams.
Don’t get me wrong, I have learned how and when to utilize offshore teams for development needs, but you have to be completely prepared to bring these outsourced teams onboard.
First, they will promise they can accomplish the project without completely looking over the code, and then they will showcase studies from websites that they either did not program completely or the websites have nothing to do with the project you are starting.
Once you find a team and you are confident they can get to work, now the problem is the communication as it seems like they speak the same language as you do at first, but as the project goes forward, you might reconsider their grasp of the language.
Next, the managing of expectations and the missing of deadlines and milestones is almost guaranteed. If you haven’t gathered by now, I am speaking from years of experience. The quoted project delivery time is never accurate, and they seem to go missing for days at a time when you have a delivery date planned.
If this sounds like something you want to experience, go for it! Hire a team offshore and get started working on a project.
There is a 50/50 chance the project will be delivered and an additional 50/50 chance the project will be done correctly. And I think that is being fairly reasonable on those odds, at times it seems like a slim to no chance that project will be delivered as promised.
Let’s go ahead and say that you found the perfect team or developer for your programming; be sure to keep them happy and around as long as you can. The turnover for graphic designers is not that bad, as the backups of all your company’s work should be available. However, losing a programmer could be devastating to your company and a huge setback.
Custom code is very difficult to navigate if the programmer is looking at the systems for the first time. This can cause your business to lose weeks or months as the new programmer is getting up to speed. Take good care of your developers, if that is, in fact, important in your business.
Business Planning Tip 33:
Create a few all-star employees and form your management team. I really do believe that the managers need to be the best of the best in the organization, and people whom the rest of the staff will look up to. Not just because they are paid to, but that they admire and respect the management staff.
I have seen solid management teams in action, and it truly is a beautiful sight to see. And equally, I have seen management teams that are killing companies slowly. It is a slow, painful death when the managers are the negativity and pessimism bringing down the ship.
Meet with your management team on a regular schedule and stay focused on the agendas. The management staff should be able to break down the successes and failures inside the organization rather quickly and pinpoint the areas for improvement.
The best management meetings consist of quickly running through what was accomplished, what was supposed to be accomplished and why the project was not completed in a timely manner; finally steps to solve the issues from a systems standpoint.
If something is broken in the system, then fix what is broken. Again, if you are working on fixing the machine, then the system will run flawlessly. This way you will not consistently chase the issues, and you can proactively fix the problems before they start.
Make your superstar in your company the manager who oversees the most important aspects of your business. If your business is mostly sales, marketing or technology, make your manager that runs that department your superstar on the team.
That person can be the point person on most of the larger projects that involve multiple departments, and your superstar can spearhead your massive growth projects. This way you have a team member who is on point and on call for any issues that arise in the project.
Bottom line is that a company is made up of all different personality types, backgrounds, experiences and people from different walks of life. If you are looking to expand your team, find the right candidates who fit the positions and try not to shove someone into a role where they have no business holding that role on the team.
Use personality tests that you can find online to grade your staff members, and keep your good employees as long as you can while weeding out the negative personalities and individuals who can hold you back.
Business Planning Tip 34:
The Internet is a noisy place, and it is so easy for anyone with an Internet connection to have a voice. This is fantastic for those of us who make money from advertising, as the more the merrier! But for those of us who are trying to stand out with our message, every new competitor is one step closer to taking the focus away from our businesses.
This is a fantastic reason for you to start taking massive action in your business today! If you wait till tomorrow, you might have another 10 new competitors start up in your marketplace.
You need to stand out, be different and make your voice heard to resonate with your potential audience. But how? How do you stand out in the crowd? Rise above the noise? Be unique?
At this moment, you are reading a blog that is my next attempt at standing out to be unique. As I write these words, I have only slept a few short hours in the past two days, and I am trying to push forward to get this blog completed in under 48 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sleep. Why torture me? Because I have a plan to be bold and stand out.
But I landed on deciding to self-publish. Why? First off, I do things because I want to prove to myself that I can accomplish big goals. Second, I didn’t like any of the blog offers for first-time authors.
The question is: “How am I going to get Forbes, Entrepreneur - Start, run and grow your business. and other business publications to run articles on me?”
Note: here is where you should be brainstorming your message and how you plan to stand out. I did some research and tried to brainstorm ideas on how to get their attention.
I am 32 years old at the moment, so my age isn’t an exciting headline. I’m an amazing web developer, SEO guy, marketer and overall business strategist doing a few million in sales a year through my clients, which is not very unique either.
In my personal quest to thwart mediocrity, I am continuing to stand out and do something that no one has done. Or at least, do something different than my competitors have not already done a thousand times. What am I to do?
My vision for the headline would go something like this: “College dropout goes from idea to best seller in 5 weeks.” That timeline is not yet decided, perhaps I can do this in four weeks, but at the moment, I am still writing. Get started today: stand out and be bold. There are no excuses. Do it.