Monthly Archives: May 2018

Business Guide

This paper presents a practical approach to starting and building a good business with tested and approved information.

This guide reviews the following;
Planning a business
Business Capital
Business Information
Internationalizing a Business

PLANNING A BUSINESS:
Business Planning is an essential and integral part of a good business. The life of any good business depends on its plan. To plan a good business, its very essential to know the more about the following factors which affects any given good business;
a. The Business Capital
b. Manpower (labor)
c. Machine (Technology)
d. Market
e. The Business Method of Operation.

BUSINESS CAPITAL:
Money is needed to run a successful business. This money can be generated from the following sources;
1. Your account, Family and Friends
2. Loans from Bank
3. Market Advantage
4. Business Partnership

You have become so conversant with points 1 and 2 but the points 3 and 4 are practical procedures I want to introduce to you.
Market Advantage:
To generate business capital from an existing market, you must possess the ability to find and analyse good market information and also you must be able to secure a good market connection.
This market information will give you a good business information as regards the need by a client for a supply of goods and or services which by your connection you are able to supply by linking the fellow to the source or standing as a business agent to do this job. This method deals with business mediation just as a consultant and hence earning yourself a business capital from this business deal.

Business Partnership;
This method of business capital generation has gained much fame in the African world where there is market but a great lack of goods and services exists due to poor manufacturing culture and lack of technology. So many Business giants and gurus in Africa started this way. This method of business capital generation involves a negotiation with a manufacturing company or a service producer in a developed world so as to represent them in your local business region as a distributor or a business outlet. If this business negotiation is successful, a contract is signed and this business is now empowered by the manufacturer hence creating a business link which generates satisfaction on the side of both parties. This method can yield a very big sales company on your local market and usually develops into a great business.
This usually works for those who have mastered their local market systems and forces.

I can suggest also the following ways as good business capital generation channels.

Network Marketing;
The 21st century market has given birth to a powerful business capital generation system called Network marketing. There exists a Multi- line Network marketing and also a Binary Network Market system.
It has been tested and certified that the Binary system of network marketing is better and generates more business capital lot faster than the multi- line.
I can also suggests some tested organisations who operate this binary system; an example is a USA based company called the freedom Rocks. (www(dot)freedomrocks(dot)com/urchgeneforex; www(dot)freedomrocks(dot)com; you can visit the first blog to register).

The Forex Trading Market;
Forex trading is a good business capital generation method. It is a high risk business but with more than average returns and benefits.
Freedom Rocks USA has an automated software for trading the forex market and hence will help you build and generate a good business capital. (contact: urchgene(at)yahoo(dot)com for more information).

BUSINESS INFORMATION:
Business information is the blood that runs through the system of any good business. This business information must be powered by market research. The cycle and trend of a business gives a good supply of information needed to run that business. The existence of a good technology also facilitates the generation of a good business information.
Business information which is synonymous with market research should include;
a. The needs of that local business environment which must be satisfied by either goods, technology or services.
b. The price system of the local market.
c. Business competition and products substitute information.
d. Desired market products or services information.
e. Market location.
You may get an expert market researcher to do this for you or you have to bend down in your area and conduct some meaningful business research so as to get a good business information.

INTERNATIONALIZING A BUSINESS;
Review the partnership session I earlier discussed in this paper for information on internationalizing a business.
You should try to gain access into the least developed and the developing world top further expand your business. You can do this by taking a trip outside your country or trying to monitor people form this region that come always to your country on business trips.
This will help you minimize competition and also put you on the track to being a multinational giant.
You may not be aware of how great your business can grow until you have tried this.
There is great demand of technology services in the African Business world and you may not be aware that this demand is hardly met because there are no technology giants to meet them.
Take a trip today especially in the African business world and you will find it rewarding.

Your Earn Money From Home Business

An internet guide for your earn money from home business – make sure your home business has these basics.

I get asked all the time about what I recommend as the basics for earning extra money from home. In these desperate times, people want to get it right and right the first time.

Try to incorporate the following as you start your home business planning:

1. Flexibility: You want to be able to change the direction of your business as time goes by. It might be because the nature of your market is changing. It could also be the result of finding out what is working and what isn’t.

Hopefully your discovery is the result of a free startup home based business.

2. High Profitability: “Many people find they are getting poor returns on their investments of time and money. If you can’t see a good dollar coming now or soon, maybe it’s time to move on and try some things that would pay more per hour worked.

3. Little or no Risk: That may seem impossible, but it can be easily achieved if you do your home business planning around an internet affiliate site concept. Start up costs are virtually nil, you can change the direction of your business with a few mouse clicks and, as an affiliate, you don’t carry any inventory, employees or any other costs.

This is a true free startup home based business.

4. Minimal Headaches: There is enough stress in our lives without introducing more because we want an earn from home business. Whatever your final business destination, do your best to ensure that it will be a pleasant place of multiple revenue streams. Life really is too short.

Can you see how following these few simple guidelines as you start your home business will lead you to prosperity and peace? After all, one is as important as the other.

Small Business Guide

If you are not currently doing affiliate marketing then you are really missing a trick.

Affiliate marketing evolved from the simple concept that if another website sends you a visitor and that person becomes a customer of yours then you should say thanks to the other website by giving them a small piece of the pie.

Affiliate marketing has now become a lot more complex but the basics are still the same. You want as many sites as possible to be shouting about you to their visitors so that they come and see your wares, and then in return you pay a suitable reward to that site based on your business profitability and margins.

In this article I will go through a few of the things that a newcomer should consider when setting up an affiliate marketing programme:

1) The best commission/reward structure for your business

2) The best network/s to work with based on their affiliate base e.g. the kinds of affiliates that are with them and that they tend to attract.

3) How to get visibility on the key affiliates websites and with the affiliate network.

4) Working on new promotions and incentive schemes to motivate affiliates to promote you rather than your competitors.

Deciding on an affiliate reward structure for your business The first thing to look at is your new customer recruitment costs, e.g. If over one month you spend £5000 on marketing and you recruit 100 new customers then your new customer recruitment cost is £50. Cross reference this with your customer lifetime value(if you know it) to work out how much commission you can pay your affiliates.

A Basic explanation of how you could calculate this is as follows: The customer lifetime value will be the average top line profit that each customer brings you over their lifetime.

To calculate a customers life time value the best way maybe to take a group of customers that you recruited within a months date range and to track their spend over a few years, you will lose some of these customers, but others you will maintain so you need to have a good sample size for the calculation to be worthy.

e.g.

1000 customers recruited in June 2008.

  • Over the following 2 years they spent an accumulative 1,000,000GBP therefore you have a customer lifetime value of 1000GBP
  • BUT
  • Cost of goods sold were 700,000GBP
  • Business fixed costs were 100,000GBP
  • Variable business costs were 80,000GBP

Therefore a total profit for these 1000 customers of 120,000GBP over 2 years, and a per customer profit of 120GBP/customer.

This is obviously a very rough fag packet example but it is worth doing this exercise so that you can then determine the profitability of all of your marketing channels through looking at what their cost per new business customer acquired is and comparing it to the customer lifetime value.

Anyway, to keep from steering too wide form the point of the post… From this figure you can then determine how much you are willing to spend per customer on your affiliate marketing.

You now know that if you spend 120GBP per customer acquisition then you will break even on that customer so if you build in that you want to make 50% profit and spend 50% of the customer value then you can spend 60GBP per customer acquired.

Now, if you work out the average number of orders of those 1000 customers over the 2 years then you will know your average order size through dividing total revenue by total orders.

Say for example that the average number of orders was 4 then you will have an average order size of 250GBP.

So based on this if you can spend 60GBP per new customer order then your commission level for “new” customers can be just under 25%.

However, not all orders are from “new” customers so you could do one of 2 things:

1) Decide to average out commission across all sales by saying that every 1 in 4 customers is new therefore you can pay 6% commission overall

2) Decide to have a higher level of commission on new business orders and a lower level on other orders e.g. 10% and 5% respectively (although you will need to have the backend website functionality available to track different customer segments).

As well as the cost to the end affiliate you will need to figure in a network cost. As a basic guide this is about 25-35% of the commission paid to the affiliates. Therefore if you pay affiliates £1000/month then you will also need to pay your network a fee of around £300/month so this needs to be factored in when determining commission levels.

Always set your commission levels slightly lower than you can afford so that you have the option of increasing commissions for seasonal promotions and for giving high performing affiliates added incentives etc.

What is the best affiliate network for me? The amount that the affiliate networks are willing to disclose to you will depend on your skills as a negotiator and also the potential size of your business for the affiliate networks.

Approach all of the big networks – Tradedoubler, Buyat, Linkshare, Commission Junction, Affiliate Future and Clickbank, explain that you are going to be setting up an affiliate marketing program and that you want as much information as possible on why you should go with them.

Ask them:

  • How many affiliates drove a sale for them last month?
  • So that you can compare their size and reach with others
  • How many affiliates are promoting merchants in your industry?
  • So that you can see their reach in your vertical
  • How much revenue did they drive for your entire industry last month?
  • To judge the level of bottom line success in your vertical. You should also look (if possible) at the % breakdown of the revenue by affiliate e.g. what % of revenue is made up by the top 5 affiliates? Is there a lot of long tail/small affiliate opportunity?
  • How many new affiliates did they recruit last month?
  • To judge how actively they are growing and how proactive they are.
  • How many new merchants did they recruit last month?
  • Ditto, are they an arrogant and lazy network?
  • How many merchants from your industry are with them? (good to go with the bulk as there will be a good affiiate base ready to promote you if they are already promoting your competitors).
  • Who are the biggest 5 affiliates working with them?
  • Who are the biggest 5 affiliates with them for your industry?
  • How much commission will they charge on sales?
  • Can they run multiple commission rates?
  • Can they do lead generation on a fee per lead basis?
  • What does their management fee include? How much support and help can you expect from them with affiliate recruitment/reporting/problem shooting/industry updates?
  • What technology do they offer that is unique to them?

If you can get a fair bit of detail on all of these questions then you should be in a good position to approach the negotiating stage and play them off against each other. Obviously the amount of leverage you have and how far you can go will largely depend on the size of your business and what kind of revenue you will bring the affiliate networks. Make the networks excited about your marketing and growth plans. Explain your past performance and what your plans are for the next year – if they see you as an expanding and growing brand then they will stretch further to meet your needs.

By the time you have got to this stage you will have your preferences, go with the data, the best deal and your gut feel. If you like and get on with the people on a genuine level and trust that they will take your business seriously and will spend time promoting you then go with them, but only if the commercials and their business proposition stack up too. Getting visibility with the key affiliates for your market Once you have your account set up and you are ready to go the first thing to do is to put together a target list of affiliates that you want promoting you. Rank the affiliates on the list by potential and then work with the networks on getting the best real estate possible on the affiliates sites.

Get the affiliate network to give you a list of every affiliate who has driven a sale for any competitor of yours (that is in their network) within the past 6 months. Ask the affiliate network to rank the affiliates in order of revenue driven (obviously without the sensitive data) if they mess up and give you the sensitive data (unlikely) then all the better. Put together a promotional plan for the first 3 months and make sure that your offers blow the competition out of the water. Affiliates are businesses in their own right so are just interested in promoting the merchant who can earn them the most cash, so if you give them a better % commission and your conversion rate is as good as your competitors or better then you will quickly win them over. Check out the top affiliates EPC (earnings per click). You then need to work out how you can give them the opportunity to earn over this with you – basically calculate: (site conversion rate x (commission rate per sale X Average order size).

Ensure that the affiliate network have agreed to give you featured merchant status for the first month and that you are featured all over their website/blog/twitter/facebook etc and emails.

Email all of the other affiliates straight away introducing yourself as their support at your company, explain your proposition, affiliate program terms (commission rate etc) and explain that you have an unbeatable offer for the first month that is going to have sky high conversion rates.

Save some fat in the promotional spend plan for the top affiliates so that you can offer them something special for a great location on their site.

Once you have the top 10 on board and are recruiting the long tail through the email then get on the phone and work your way down the list getting more and more affiliates on board, there will be many that you cannot get hold of and/or who do not reply; do not be disheartened as this is normal, affiliates are busy people. Just try to think of good ways to grab their attention and leverage all contacts at the network to aid you in getting in contact with the affiliates.

Keep in close contact with the network – let them know that you will make them work for their commission, be thankful and complimentary when they are good but beware of them being more lazy after the initial flurry – you need to hold the pace for at least the first 3 months and then it should start to get easier as you have some secure relationships that do not need too much maintenance. This applies to both affiliates and the networks.

New affiliate promotions to get the affiliates promoting you instead of your competitors This is obviously a tricky one with no clear right/wrong way. There are a few rules that I would stick to though:

Keep things fairly simple – as mentioned above affiliates are busy so if you come up with a highly complex (however fun) promotional idea they may just switch off before you sell it in to them.
Keep things fresh – do not just dole out the same old promos every month to the affiliates, there will be no real incentive for them to keep promoting you and trying new things for you if they already know how it will perform on their site.

If possible base your promotions for the top affiliates around their site and what works well for them e.g. if you sell T-shirts and cushions and one site is flying on the cushions then give them special offers around cushions.

Use the data you have after each promo – see what works for who and try to understand their site use profile so that you can meet their needs.
Show your face at affiliate events, make friends in the industry, do people favours and just generally enjoy yourself as if people see you being fun and positive socially then it will impact the business relationship you have with them.

A Small Business Guide

What is PR?

Public relations is all about your business image and reputation. Everything you do (both personally and in business) must be scrutinised to consider how it may look on you, by using PR channels you can get more people talking about you, what you’re doing and how you are changing.

Which of course throws up the discussion that good PR can elevate a business faster than anything else but if you get it wrong…well, bad PR has destroyed more than a few businesses before now and as a start up, you are even more vulnerable.

There are plenty of PR companies and agencies who know the routine inside out and can really boost your reputation, and therefore your customer base, but the bills can rack up fast and sometimes it can take a while for news to spread naturally by word of mouth so it sometimes take a while to find that your business is really being affected by it. But there are several methods that you can boost your rep without having to fork out for external bodies.

And most of them are easy!

Look after your own

I’ve put this one first as it is (I believe anyway) one of the most effective and easiest things to do!

Treat your staff well!

It’s essential, there’s a massive opportunity here and it costs you nothing! I won’t go into the details of the Theory Y vs Theory X business model (if you want you can read about it here) but the general gist is that there are two ways to treat your staff: 1) Like they don’t want to work and you have to whip them into shape; and, 2) Like they enjoy work and you should reward them to encourage them to love it even more!.

It’s easy to wrapped up in a debate about which one is more effective, it all depends on many different factors but generally speaking I think that treating your staff well will benefit any business.

Your staff are a crucial part of your enterprise! There is also a wide market that they can connect you to if they are motivated to do so. Treat your staff well, be empathetic and most of all try to transfer some of your excitement for your venture into them. If they are comfortable around you it is easier to talk to them, to get them interested in new things around your business and for them to take that knowledge to all their friends and family.

Basically, if your staff enjoy work you will find that they will advocate your business and spread news of what you are doing into the community. And word of mouth is the best form of marketing no matter what anybody says!

Don’t forget what you’ve already got!

This is linked to another blog I wrote regarding Good Marketing Practices for start-ups on my Portfolio Website. Putting up interesting, fresh and regular content is beneficial in many ways but it is also a good way to keep your prospective customers “in the know”.

It’s not always necessary to rely on external companies when you are first starting out. Keep people coming back to your website with daily, or weekly, news stories or start an online newsletter. Alternatively, if you don’t trade online, invest in having a monthly magazine available in your store. You could sell space for advertising if you want to make some money back or just consider it a larger investment by keeping it completely ad free and professional.

Don’t sell products…

There is a well-known marketing proverb that most Marketing students will often find themselves muttering to themselves as they sleep: “Don’t sell products…sell solutions!”

When you are talking to your customers, arranging marketing materials or writing PR packs never refer to yourself as selling physical goods or services. Emphasise the point that you are selling a solution to a problem that exists. And try to relate that problem to your target market.

For example, I set up a Marketing Consultancy and Web Design / Development business called Project D.E.I.A (link). I didn’t emphasise that I just offered these services but that I was a solution to give unsigned UK talent an easier way into the industry. For businesses I highlighted the problem that with many websites built for companies is that they are static (i.e. there is no way for them to log on and change/update the website themselves!). Try to put a similar spin on your PR efforts.

Don’t mess with the media

A major faux par that most businesses are guilty of is releasing Press Releases and sending them to media websites and local news stations.

Remember, they are looking for news, they aren’t interested in if you have a new fragrance shampoo on your shelves. Get involved in the community and do something that they want to tell everyone about!

A second point I should mention about Press Releases is that they should be informative and not drag but have everything included that the reporter needs because they will fill in the gaps if there are any. It’s obvious, they need a story so they will add bits in if they aren’t highlighted and this could end up with customers getting the wrong idea about your business. And that’s not good…

Put yourself around town

This is also something I glanced over in another blog. Join forums and comment on topics that your business is related to. Yahoo Answers is a great website for this.

By sharing expertise, you are showing that you are open, friendly and knowledgeable in your chosen field. People will come to trust your judgement but you will quickly become portrayed as a spammer if all you do it talk about your business.

Take an unbiased view and offer a genuine answer. Then at the end add a link to your business or just add a line saying that you run a business in this area and offer the chance to talk about it more through your website.

Social Media

Most people are getting sick of hearing Marketers talk about Social Media all the time but there are two sites that can really help you out here.

1) Amazon
OK, so not strictly speaking a social networking website per se but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used like one! read up on your market with popular books and then write a review on them to show that you know what you are talking about. Then, just like in Yahoo Answers, add your link at the bottom encouraging people to talk to you more about it through there.

2) YouTube
Make a short video (just use Windows Movie Maker) and post it up on YouTube. Use some of the keywords you chose for your business to target the video and encourage your customers to view it from your website, newsletters, magazines or whatever you may be using. Keep an eye on the comments and be sure to post back quickly and with detail, encourage them to view your website (again, no spamming!) and contact you through there for more details.