Category: Business

The One Test to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

One Test to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

Now that you have your business ideas from the last blog post, it’s time to find out which one makes money! This can be the scariest part for some of us, because it means we have to connect with others, and potentially risk failure, judgement and rejection. 

But just remember – you can do this! There are millions of entrepreneurs out there that have taken their one-of-a-kind, unique path to running a business. 

However, this stage can bring with it some bumps in the road! I want to mention those quickly so that you can avoid them.

Avoid These to Ensure Your Business Idea Makes Money

  1. DON’T spend all of your time and resources focusing on the things that do not matter right now. This includes a logo, tagline, fancy website, or whether your business should be an LLC or sole proprietorship. None of these details matter at this stage.
  2. DON’T get feedback on your idea from well-meaning family and friends who will probably tell you it’s a great idea anyway! General feedback from non-customers won’t put money in the bank.
  3. And most importantly, DO offer free or discounted products and services to actual customers so that you can get concrete feedback about what works and what doesn’t. This way you can improve and make what you sell amazing. 

Now, onto the test. This is called the Common Sense Test, and it consists of four simple questions. This test will help you evaluate your ideas and eliminate those that either won’t be as possible or simply don’t measure up. 

Here’s how it works. If you can’t answer yes to all four of the following questions, cross the idea off your list. 

The Common Sense Test

  1. Do I have the real-world experience, skills or abilities to provide this product or service, or am I willing to work really hard to get them?
  2. Am I will to focus a majority of my free time on this for at least the next six to twelve months?
  3. Is the idea aligned with my goals and values? 
  4. Is there a clearly defined, easy-to-reach market of people already spending money on this kind of product or service?

So which business idea of yours is viable and will be profitable? 

5 Ideas to Ignite a Purpose-Driven Business Strategy

5 Ideas to Ignite a Purpose-Driven Business Strategy

As you return to your daily routine and start your 2020 personal and professional goals, there’s no better time than now to get back in touch with the soul of your business, also considered, the purpose-driven aspects of your business. 

The soul of our business of course encompasses the heart and mind of the founder, but it also has a deeper meaning that extends beyond the survival, intention and purpose of an entrepreneur. It extends to the people, communities and planet, because all businesses can make an impact in a bigger way. 

Examples of Purpose-Driven Businesses

In today’s world, we have all seen examples of businesses responding and reacting to crises, natural disasters, and social issues in a way that shows them donating, giving back, and spreading awareness. Believe it or not, aren’t just touchy-feely; they are actually very smart and strategic.

These businesses have decided to consciously and intentionally make their business about more than just money. They use their businesses to create change for people, communities, and the planet. 

And why is this smart and strategic? Because 1) true and lasting fulfillment doesn’t come from what we get, it comes from what we give; 2) when your business is about something bigger than your own survival, you tap into an unlimited well of strength and creativity and passion to overcome whatever comes your way; and 3) when your business has strong values, you tend to attract clients and customers with strong values too. 

Ideas for a Purpose-Driven Business

So, how can you intentionally and strategically give back to issues and causes that you believe in? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Donate a portion of sales or profits to a non-profit, community, or cause you believe in. 
  2. Donate products or services to organizations or communities you believe in. 
  3. Choose to only work with vendors committed to ethical and sustainable practices.
  4. Commit to using recycled materials and keeping a light carbon footprint.
  5. Use your platform and voice to shine a light on social issues important to the betterment and wellbeing of all. 

The ways you can make a difference through your business are limitless. If the idea of being a purpose-driven business lights you up, then challenge yourself to imagine your business as a force of good and think about what that might look like. 

Now more than ever, you have the power to use your business not just for financial profits (which are awesome), but you can also create positive change for others around you – yourself, your family, your community, the environment, and even social issues that you believe in. 

Help with your Business Vision

Need more clarity with your business vision and deeper purpose? Click HERE to learn more about the first of my new monthly “Marketing Made Easy” workshops – launching Wednesday, January 22!

CGC: 5 Reasons You Need a Content Calendar

5 Reasons You Need a Content Calendar (& Bonus: How to Create One)

According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers planned to produce more content this year than the previous year. With an increase like that, it’s more important now than ever to have a corresponding content calendar that allows you to plan and prepare accordingly. However, content calendars can track more than just your upcoming blogs. If used correctly, businesses can track every form of inbound marketing, from content queues to social media posts. Below are five reasons you need to start making content calendars, along with a series of brief instructions for how to do so.

  1. The main reason for a content calendar is to remember key dates. These dates can include holidays, events, launches, campaigns, blog releases, and more. Planning ahead for these key dates and being aware of them ensures that you don’t end up scrambling for content for those dates.
  2. Another, somewhat obvious, benefit to content calendars is their ability to keep your schedule organized. It’s a clear benefit, but you would be surprised as to how many brands fail to use them! Staying organized not only helps you remember important dates, but it keeps you updated on what you are publishing, when and where.
  3. While consistency in social media marketing is key to a digital marketing strategy, staying consistent internally is a large piece of this. Content calendars allow businesses to foster collaboration with their marketing teams and potential partners. It’s the single source of information for what’s being published and when.
  4. Rather than making last minute arrangements and coordinating campaigns on the fly, you are saving time, money and resources. With content calendars, you can plan ahead, assign duties and copy in advance, provide ample time for research, and never miss a deadline.
  5. Careful planning also leads to clearer results. As you generate and share content on a regular basis, you will regularly be able to see and monitor results. It will be easier for you to judge which content performs the best. You will notice patterns, and therefore, you will be able to consistently generate more successful content and give your audience what they want.

Bonus: How to Create a Content Calendar

Creating a content calendar is very easy. For my clients, I tell them to start with a simple calendar graphic, such as a template found in Microsoft Word. Then, think about your audience. What are some of their “frequently asked questions?” What do they search for and ask about constantly? Create blog titles around this, for either a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly publishing schedule. Then, search for upcoming daily and monthly holidays that are relevant to you and your business. If you are a massage therapist, Massage Therapy Awareness Week would be relevant to you, and so would regular holidays like Thanksgiving or the Summer Solstice. Incorporate these major events onto your calendar, and include launches, functions, campaigns, blog publish dates, or anything that marks a key date for you. Create social media posts around these events. Alter their character count, length, and imagery for the platform you are working with. And voila! You have a content calendar.

Debunking the Myth of Overnight Success

Guest Blog: Debunking the Myth of Overnight Success

Something I tell my clients all the time is this: there is no such thing as an overnight success! This month’s guest blog is from credit.com and it is all about just that. Building a successful business takes time, so you’ve got to be patient. This guest blog will help you find the inspiration to do that.

***

Both in the business world and in your personal life, anything that’s truly worth doing takes time, dedication, and hard work. It’s easy to glamorize success when people make it look easy — but it rarely is. If you believe in the concept of overnight success, you’re likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Behind every great CEO, inventor, and entrepreneur is a mountain of struggle, failure, and doubt. They likely took a long and winding road to get where they are today, and that road is where they learned, grew, and improved. So instead of wanting to fasttrack your way to success, remember to slow down and embrace the learning curve.

Need some inspiration? Check out the infographic below on eight famous leaders and how long it took them to become successful.

The following graphic is from credit.com.

overnight-success

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

As a marketing consultant, brainstorming ideas is one of my favorite things to do. It’s an opportunity to be creative, shut down the inner critic, and just have fun. If you’re looking to come up with a business idea or expand your business in new ways, this blog will help you through three approaches to brainstorming business ideas

The first step is to open up a new document or your journal and write at the top: “Business Idea Brainstorm.” The outcome in this exercise is to come up with 10 business ideas and have fun doing it. You are more than welcome to come up with more than 10 ideas, but you must have at least 10. 

We’re coming up with 10 ideas is because it’s a big enough number to inspire you to mentally stretch yourself so that you can come up with new insights and new connections. Plus, once you start to organize and test your ideas for viability, you’ll be able to eliminate a few ideas quickly. This is a good thing as it will keep you focused. When you’re ready, dive into the three approaches below. 

3 Approaches to Brainstorming a Business Idea

Approach #1: Scratch Your Own Itch – Several entrepreneurs have found success solving problems they have themselves. They bring new services or products to the market that provide solutions to the problems they face. So, think about your own life. Is there are recurring problem or frustration that you wish there was a better solution for? 

Approach #2: Consider Your Strengths, Skills & Interests – I personally believe that we are all born with a unique set of strengths, talents and skills. There are problems in this world that you are uniquely qualified to help solve. So, get curious about who you are and what you do naturally. How can you use your strengths, skills and interests to solve problems for others?

Approach #3: Shop Around for Inspiration – Go idea shopping by checking out other businesses in industries that you are interested in. Chances are other companies exist in a market that you’re interested in that can help inspire your own business ideas. What can you do better or differently in a totally unique way?

Once you have your ideas, review them and think about which ones are viable. Consider the revenue model – can you make money with this idea? What about the competition – is there any and how can you stand out? Think about the market – who are they and how can you position your product or service in a way that makes their lives easier, more convenient and more joyful? 

As you define your idea and develop a strategic plan to execute it, you’ll be well on your way to running a profitable business! And if you need help, you know who to call. 🙂

25 Free List Building Techniques

25 Free List Building Techniques

All entrepreneurs need list building strategies. However, when first starting a business, you may not have the funds needed to invest in advertising or expensive marketing. This is why using free list building strategies is imperative to growing your business. 

But keep in mind – there’s a hustle at the beginning. It’s the tough work, the grunt work and the hard work that nobody wants to do. Here’s the thing though, nobody can do this step for you. You have to choose the strategies on your own and you have to be creative. If you’re committed to changing lives and having a long-term profitable business, you must build an audience. 

Building your list takes time, so you have to be patient. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

Below you will find 25 free techniques you can use to build your list.

  1. Include clear and specific calls to action in all of your content marketing. 
  2. Make it easy for people to share your content either through social media channels or forwarding options in emails.
  3. Use a pop ups on your site.  
  4. Optimize thank you pages with referral requests or social sharing prompts. 
  5. Highlight a piece of your blog content on a social media platform and start a conversation around it.
  6. When at events, bring an iPad and sign up people on the spot.
  7. Keep SEO in mind when you create content. 
  8. Consider a HelloBar on your site to tease a specific offer.
  9. Be helpful and kind on forums.
  10. Be generous and offer testimonials for other businesses.
  11. Keep an open mind for collaborations, partnerships or co-sponsored events with colleagues. 
  12. Thoughtfully comment on other people’s blogs. 
  13. Be a case study for vendors.
  14. Create something amazing for your market that everyone just has to share it.
  15. Lead a regular meet-up or event in your town that supports fellow businesses or the community.
  16. Be featured in blogs or in other media or work with influencers.
  17. Get interviewed about your message, your story, your mission, your business, etc.
  18. Do live speaking engagements.
  19. Be a guest in virtual events.
  20. Be a guest teacher in someone else’s program or event.
  21. Guest post on engaged blogs that serve your ideal customer.
  22. Write articles for other people’s newsletters.
  23. Submit your business to directories. 
  24. Create a referral program that incentivizes new clients.
  25. Teach workshops or seminars to generate interest in what you do.

There are, of course, more ways to build your list than what’s listed above. Regardless of whatever you choose to do, always do it from the heart. 

Want more tips like this? Check out the blog for more helpful business and marketing advice!

CGC - Business Models 101

Business Models 101

This month, I’m talking all about business models, particularly what they are and why you need them!

Basically, your business model (or revenue model) is a roadmap for how your business will make money. In other words, what are people buying from you? Your customers have to pay you for something. Without paying customers, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.

This sounds incredibly basic! But all too often, I will hear: “I want to start a community to empower women,” or, “I want to curate creative material online.”  When I ask them how they plan to make money from these ideas, they’re not sure. Yes, you can absolutely create a blog or community or a movement, but it wouldn’t be a business until you have people paying for it. A business sells things (like a product or service) to customers in exchange for money.

If you want to build a profitable, sustainable business that you can rely on for income, you must be absolutely clear on what people are buying from you.

Here are some simple and straightforward explanations of what can be purchased from you.

Most businesses sell products or services, or a combination of both.

For example, if you sell jewelry or oils or clothing or wine, you’ve got a product-based business. You deliver a physical product and your customer pays you. Conversely, if you are a coach, yoga teacher, hair stylist, or photographer, you’ve got a service-based business. You deliver a service and your client pays you.

But let’s say you make money offering training or advice, you may have a mix of service and product offerings, such as one-on-one consulting (service) and digital programs (product).

Or perhaps you fall under other categories. Maybe you’re a blogger, and you make money through advertising for companies. Or maybe you’ve created a software, and companies pay you monthly for technology use and support.

So, how will your business make you money?

 

Money Isn't the End Game - Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

Money Isn’t the End Game: Starting a Business for the Right Reasons

In rounding up our entrepreneurship theme for the month of May, let’s talk about why it’s important to start a business for the right reasons.

We’ll begin with a quote: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

The gist of this quote is this: Don’t go into business to make money. Success comes when you enthusiastically follow your passion.

Could that be the secret to success?

How many times have you heard people say, “I’m going to start this side business so I can make enough money to quit my day job and do what I really want to do.” Or, “I’m starting this side business so that I can make some passive income while I focus on my real passion.”

And were they successful? Unlikely. Why? Because if your heart isn’t truly in your business, people will feel it. It will be nearly impossible to sustain your business because it doesn’t have heart, passion and purpose.

In today’s hyper-competitive markets, people not only want to feel seen and heard and understood, they want to know that the companies they are supporting care. They want to know that these companies are dedicated to something real and true. These are the companies that have a definitive and inspiring reason for being in the world that goes beyond just financial profit.

Remember this not-so-inspiring fact: nearly half of all businesses fail in the first five years.

Unless you have a strong enough purpose for your company to exist – which means an emotional link between what you’re working to create and why you want it out in the world – you will most likely not follow through on the work that it takes to launch a business and the stamina that it takes to keep it going.

To be an entrepreneur takes a fierce commitment to the hard work day after day after day. The most successful entrepreneurs are not motivated by financial gain. They’re motivated by three things: a drive to make a difference, a deep love of the game, and a desire to use their talents to impact the lives of others.

While building anything from the ground up is incredibly challenging, if you have the right reasons, you’ll have the resilience and perseverance you need to become a success.

Bottom line: don’t start a business to make money, start a business to make a difference.

CGC - How to Set Your Offerings at the Right Price

How to Set Your Services and Products at the Right Price (& Why I Don’t Like Discounts)

When it comes to pricing, you have to think about your big picture – your overall brand, the competitive landscape, and how you want to position yourself in the broader marketplace.

You will want to create and review a pricing model for each offering you have within your business, whether it’s a service, product or both. For each offering, from a revenue standpoint, keep two things in mind: 1) how your offering fits into your business suite (which is all the things you offer), and 2) how you want to position that particular offering in the broader marketplace.

You’ve got to ask yourself: How much revenue do you want to generate with this offering? And how much of each offering do you honestly think you can sell?

Then you have to know your costs. This includes upfront costs, variable costs, fixed costs, and anything that’s an ongoing cost. What do your profit margins look like when you factor these into your pricing model?

(Note: When you’re making your cost/expense estimates, I recommend making a list of everything you need and then contacting vendors and resources for pricing quotes. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend you do as much as possible on your own. It’s always best to start as simply and as inexpensively as possible. )

After getting clear with your budgeting, it’s all about running the numbers and making some predictions. If this makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, just remember that we are all making guesstimates. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to pricing, and these projections get us going. My suggestion is to underestimate what you’re going to sell and overestimate what you’re going to spend.

Now, a quick note on discounts: I personally do not believe in discounting.

I believe in providing as much value as possible for the right price, but discounting that price at any point is not recommended, unless you’re beta testing something, or providing a specific service to a valued client base. An example of the former could be when you first launch a new service and you want your current client base to give it a try in exchange for some valuable feedback. In this case, you can discount for a testing phase of your service. An example of the latter could be if you decide to customize one of your services differently for a particular group of people, or a particular client. I often provide a discounted rate of a customized service to a local wellness community that I work with. I’ve been a loyal member of the community since it first started, and I continue to work with the owners regularly, so the discount feels good, and I’m able to provide services for those who may not be able to afford me under regular circumstances.

To some people, discounting makes sense from a marketing and sales perspective, especially when you’re desperate for cash.

However, and unfortunately, discounts are most often perceived as, and representative of, the following:

  • Lack of confidence: If you believe in what you do, you should sell it at the standard price.
  • Bad precedent: You’re setting the standard. As soon as you lower your prices, your customers will start to expect it going forward.
  • Lower perceived value: Most people value something based on its price. Throwing in a discount tarnishes the value you’re trying to provide.
  • Untrustworthiness: Let’s say you’re trying to make a sale, but it’s not going well. If you’re selling your service at its regular price at the start, and then you quickly provide a discount at the end to win the sale, your customer is going to question your honesty.
  • All about the price: The last thing you want to focus on during a sales conversation is the price, and that’s exactly what happens when you offer a discount. It’s hard to sell something based on price rather than value.
  • Profit cuts: What will the discount do to your revenue? You have revenue goals, and the only way to meet them is to stick to your planned pricing model.

So, unless you’re testing a launch of a new product or service, or you’re very comfortable packaging a service at a discounted rate for a particular group, then you shouldn’t discount your services. In the end though, it’s all up to you.

Just remember to do what feels good.