Welcome back to our 4 part series on Planning a Business. This is an extract of what goes on in one of our planned workshops in the “Blogging for Business” course. This post is the final in this series.
How exciting – the fourth and final stage in your business idea. It’s time to launch the party! Woot! You’re open for business! But hold on, you still have work to do, we’re not finished with the planning yet, you still need to work out –
- Social Media Planning
- Business Branding
- Supply & Demand
- Research and Development
- Marketing Mix
No matter what type of business you have, as either a home based micro business or a store front you will NEED a website. Do what you can for the business you have. These days, you have lots of different types of options when it comes to making your online business.
- Hire a designer
- Use a content management system
- Use a free blogging tool
- Do it yourself (not recommended)
Hire a professional
Your first option – and the most expensive one, is to hire a professional designer. This can be a great idea if you want a finished and polished, modern looking website. It may also be necessary depending on the business and the industry you are involved in. Check around, research a few different designers what they charge and what you get for the money. Ask to see a portfolio of work they have completed.
Some questions you may want to think about before you look for a designer
- Do you have an idea of what you want on your website?
- Do you have a company logo or corporate colours that will need to be incorporated?
- Do you need any special things on your website such as embedded movies or a image gallery, or a link to a catalogue?
- Will your website stay the same or will you need to add information to it during the year?
|If you answered YES to needing special things on your website such as movies, image gallery or a catalogue, or you need to regularly update the website. You will most likely need to hire a professional as this may require special scripts and additional features.
Use a Content Management System
Content Management Systems can be a great way to get your business up and running, and there are several different types available. Companies like “WordPress” and “Wix” make it simple and easy to use and they have great templates and styles available. Both of these companies offer web hosting for free, so yet another option for the smaller business, particularly those that work from home.
Word Press, Weebly, Wix and on
Must be something about the letter W, or each of these companies have gone with it because of the www.
WordPress, Weebly and Wix all advertise frequently for their ease of use for the end customer. These content management systems make life easier for you as the business person. You can create the web site for your business quickly and easily using one of their template designs. Just add your own text and additional images and you’re done!
Personally, of the three mentioned, I prefer WordPress. It seems more robust than the others, but at the same time remains easy to use – although this could just be personal preference or I am used to the way it does things.
|If you can use a word processor, you can use a content management system
Use a free blogging tool
Sites such as Word Press, Weebly and Wix allow you to create a website for free on their self hosting plans. This will usually mean that your website address would be www.mycoolsite.wordpress.com
If you want to have your own domain name, such as www.mycoolsite.com.au then you will need to pay for the DOMAIN NAME and for WEB HOSTING.
|If you are going to use a CMS free web hosting offer, be aware that they may include advertisements on your site that you will have no control over. This can be annoying and distracting to your customers also and it won’t look as professional as owning and paying for your own hosting.
Every website in the world must have it’s own address, that address is made up of the Domain Name. The name must be registered with the International Registrar.
Www. = world wide web, this indicates to the browser that it is a website
Mycoolsite = is the domain name, or the registered address of the business
.com = it is a commercial business
.au = the business is located in Australia
You can purchase your own domain generally for around $20 Australian for an annual fee.
|If you are using free hosting service such as WordPress or Blogspot, you will have a sub-domain on their site. The hosting service is the registered domain name.
To have a site on the web, generally, you pay for hosting with a hosting company. There are many types of hosting available and depends on the requirements of your web site – the more complex, the more expensive.
Some web hosting companies include the use of specific features such as .PHP .NET. Most reputable hosting companies will also include a control panel that allows you to set up and manage your own email system plus other features.
Prices for web hosting will vary depending on the size of the website and any scripting requirements. You may also receive a discount for paying a yearly fee rather than a monthly. Fees for web hosting and registration may also be tax deductible, talk to your accountant for more information.
www.networxcomputersolutions.net for example cost $20 per month,
|If you require a shopping cart, you will need a domain name, your own hosting and either PHP or NET available. PHP is more common the NET scripting. Please check with your designer for more information.
Social Media Planning
These days it is not enough to just have a website, you must also have a social media presence. Social Media is becoming huge in Australia and there are a number of platforms suitable for your industry.
Are 5 of the biggest social media platforms – and there are many others out there and growing!
- You Tube
It seems every man, woman and their pet has a Facebook page. Facebook is THE largest social media website in the world with over one billion accounts. This means it is a resource for promotion that you cannot ignore – no matter what industry your business is involved in.
Facebook is free. All you need is a personal profile to create your free business page. For free. You can also create VIP groups, hold events as well as run marketing campaigns (unfortunately, they will cost you). But with so much available for free, you would be crazy not to use what you can to get your business (and name) out there.
If Facebook is the king of social media, then Twitter must be the Queen. It is a great way to promote your business and create brand followers. Like the other social media platforms, it is also free. Just need an email address to sign up.
With Twitter, you can advertise products and service, add pictures, link to your blog and even back to your personal Facebook.
A tweet consists of 140 characters or less, so you must be concise with what you tweet. With Twitter, you can also use #hashtags on your posts that are searchable, allowing your users and followers to create a conversation.
Pinterest is also free for personal use, and they do have business accounts available. Pinterest relies on graphics that users save to a virtual board (pinning). These images are then shared among your friends and followers so you can build up a collection of your pins and others based on your choices.
Instagram is another image sharing website that you can use to build a brand and a following on social media. Wint Instagram, you post images to your page and gain likes and reshares.
YouTUbe can also be used as a social media channel to gain followers and to showcase your branding. While it allows you to post videos to your channel (included with a free GMail account), you can also share, like and subscribe to other creators and thereby build a community.
You Tube is also used by bloggers, particularly life style coache, beauty bloggers and business developers. Depending on the popularity of your channel, you may also be paid by You Tube out of the advertising revenue gained on your channel.
|You can learn more about social media marketing during our course on Blogging 4 Business.
As part of your Business Plan you should develop and define how you develop brand awareness. This means coming up with a name for your business, developing the logo and defining the corporate colours of your business.
Common Colour Definitions
The colours you chose can invoke feelings, and translate to your customer.
You may like to consult with a graphic designer when deciding on what colours or colour scheme to use for your business.
||Red stands for danger, passion and excitement. Hey we all know red cars go faster, right?
||Orange is for fresh and youthful.
||Yellow is optimistic and playful
||Green is natural, vibrant
||Blue can means trust and honesty
||Purple can mean prestige, royalty
Supply & Demand
How are you going to supply your goods to your customers? If you have a retail store, this may be an easy question. Customers will walk in and buy them, right? But you may also need to ensure that you have minimum stock levels on the shelf. Where are you going to get the stock from? How quickly can the supplier get it to you? And what happens if there is a shortage of the product? Can you get it from another supplier?
If you are selling your products on line, you may need to factor in the postage or shipping costs to get the goods out to your customers. All this is going to add to the cost of the product – and your bottom line. You may need to review some options before going live or opening your doors to the public.
Demand for your products
How much of your product(s) do you intend to sell during the month, or even the year? What are you going to do if a product does not sell as well as can be expected? What if it sells too well and you can’t keep up with demand?
You will need to consider both of these scenarios and devise a plan for how they will be dealt with. How often will you check stock supply, what will be a minimum stock count? How often does the manufacturer update the model? Are parts going to be available – and will you sell them?
Research and Development
As part of monitoring your sales, you may need to research and or develop additional products or services to be included – and you may decided to drop products/services that are not selling as well as expected or as well as others. If you are manufactoring products yourself you may also need to spend time researching improvements to current products.
Your business plan may need to reflect time and budget for these.
The marketing of your business is another area that needs to be addressed in your business plan. These days there are many different types of marketing available.
Physical marketing could include any items that are given away as promotional items. These can include coffee mugs, coasters, foam beer holders, usb drives, calendars, pens, mouse mats. Just to name a few ideas
Print advertising can include adverts in the local newspaper, flyers, coupons, advertising signs and so on.
You digital marketing can include advertising on the radio or tv.
Media advertising can include electrical displays within the shop, your website, social media advertising
Consider the many different types of advertising available, you will need to include how you will advertise your business, and include samples of advertising in your business plan.
|Consider hiring a graphic designer to create images for your advertising, or ensure that you are using royalty free images from sites such as www.pixabay.com. Using copyright materials can lead to an expensive law suit.
You can design a range of advertising materials suitable for the website or social media using free sites such as Canva – www.canva.com.
Canva allows you to create beautiful graphics on a variety of layouts, including letterheads, resumes, presentations as well as the array of marketing materials. You can even include your own photos from your camera or Facebook page. Or upload images from other sites that you have downloaded to your computer.
www.pixabay.com is an image site that allows you to download graphics that have been uploaded by other users for free. Some images are of exceptional standard. If you cannot find a free image that you like, you can always purchase a subscription to their sister site Shutterstock and download premium images at a reasonable fee.
In addition to photos, you can also download illustrations, video clips and more.
Fiverr.com is a resource laden market place where you can hire someone for $5 to do a task for you. Anything from graphic design, e-book covers, web sites, website security, to photoshopping celebrities and voice overs (they even have a strange and weird section). Some jobs (called gigs) cost more than $5. But membership is free.
Planning a business can be a mammoth undertaking, what starts out as a simple idea worms and grows and changes shape. You are not static and neither should your business be. This 4 part series has just been a snapshot of what we cover in our Blogging 4 Business course. If you are interested in registering for one of our workshops, please call. Places will be strictly limited.