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The EBiz Developer - July 2000

The Home Business Developer
   now the eBiz Developer

JULY 2000 ISSUE


THIS ISSUE:

1. Ed speak
2. Writing A Business Plan by Patrick Tan
3. More Resources and links.
4. The Winner of the Best Idea Generating Strategy...
5. Newsletter from scratch. Is there a Market? Is there anything better?
6. The 5 Step Marketing Check List by Wild Bill Montgomery
7. Guerrilla Insights into Technology by Jay Conrad Levinson
8. Next Issue


1. ED Speak

Anyone keeping a note of what the European Union are doing? Well you should be!

'The Consumer Protection (Contracts Concluded By Means of Distance Communication) Regulations 2000' Act came in to force at the beginning of June (delayed now till November 2000).

I'm no legal eagle, but basically anyone who conducts consumer contracts online (as opposed to introducing people online) is affected.

The key points are: Consumers have a cooling off period of seven working days from ordering (in the case of services) and delivery (in the case of goods) when they can cancel at anytime. There are exceptions, perishable goods, financial services, goods which are personalised for the buyer.....

If the contract is cancelled within the 7 day period, you have to refund the money as soon as possible. You can deduct postage if goods are returned at your expense.

All Goods have to be delivered within 30 days of the order being placed.

You have to give buyers warning about their rights. These must appear before the customer places the order.

Failure to comply with these laws makes your contract unenforceable and also renders you liable to heavy fines...

Phew!

So, if you are selling on the web and collect payment on the web, this act affects you.

You have been warned. For more information contact the Department of Trade & Industry...

Best of everything,

Vic Carrara


2. Writing A Business Plan by Patrick Tan
patrick@aloha-city.com

Many small business owners operate their businesses without a business plan. They operate on a day-to-day basis without any planning for the long term. They only see the need to prepare one when they have to approach the bank for a loan or to tender for a big business contract.

Is a business plan really necessary? Or is it just a show- piece to impress the bankers and business associates? Well, a well-prepared business plan, usually drawn up by a management consultant, does help to impress the bankers. But it is useless if the management do not understand the concepts behind the preparation of a business plan.

A business plan is just a static snapshot of what the business is like if all the assumptions about the environments and competitions remain static. But this is not the case in the real world. Consumers' expectations, market's supply and demand, competitions and other environmental factors change all the times. We have to modify and adapt our business strategies and operations continuously to meet the changing market conditions.

The true value of business planning lies not in the plan, but in the concept and planning process. The same thinking process can be used again and again to develop appropriate strategies to take advantage of the changes in the market place. Preparing a typical business plan would involve the following thinking process.

Step 1: Mission and Objectives
- What do you hope to achieve in the long run?
- Is this something you enjoy doing for the rest of your life?
- Identify your mission with a purpose and not a product. For eg. to promote good reading habits among the people is better than being just a    top bookseller. It gives you the flexibility to expand your business beyond bookselling to include publishing, educational seminars and others.
- What are the steps or intermediate objectives needed to reach your ultimate goal.

Step 2: Competitive Analysis
- Define your market in terms of size, market potential, growth rate, competitions, market segments and others.
- What are the emerging opportunities and threats in your market?
- Who are the consumers? Any peculiar buying behaviours? How can you reached them effectively?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? How best can you use your strengths to overcome the threats and take advantage of the    opportunities? How can you counter the threats and your weaknesses    with the help of strategic partners?
- Who are your major competitors? What are their strengths? How can you capitalise on their weaknesses?

Step 3: Business Plan
- Product or business concept: Answers to your competitive analysis will help you identify the market niche for your business.
- Aim for a niche market unless you have the financial resources to take on the market leader head-on for a share of the mass market.
- Profile of consumers in your niche market.
- Market positioning - what do you want your customers to remember you for?
- Product or service mix - what are you offering to customers (both tangible & intangible benefits)?
- Pricing strategy - price is directly proportional to the product's exclusiveness.
- Order fulfilment and distribution system - a sale is not complete unless the good is delivered properly to the consumer within a reasonable span of time.
- Marketing and sales promotion. What is your budget? What are the effective channels to reach your target consumers? Include advertising, sales promotion, publicity and sponsorships, and personal selling.

Step 4: Development Plans
- Organisation structure.
- Admin, compensational and operational policies.
- Immediate plan - identified in step 3. What are the goals and objectives? - Mid-term plan - preparing for the next phase of growth.
- Market penetration - increase our sales in existing market by encouraging existing customers to make more purchases and converting non- buyers. - Market development - offer our products to other geographical markets    or market segments.
- Product development - develop new products that meet the needs of existing customers.
- Long term plan - Diversification. Make use of our existing resources to develop a new business.

Step 5: Financial Projections and Capital Budgeting
- Prepare a pro-forma balance sheet and profit & loss statement for your proposed business.
- The figures must be drawn from educated guesses based on an in-depth study of the competitors or industry's financial performances.
- This exercise will help us manage our cash flow better as well as determine the amount of capital required to implement the plan.

The above guidelines are meant to illustrate the thinking process behind the preparation of a business plan. You will have the business plan drawn up simply by providing the answers to all the above questions.

While it may not guarantee success, business planning helps to enforce discipline by making you think twice before taking the plunge. It encourages you to look inwards and outwards for answers and to evaluate your business ideas against various environmental and competitive constraints. In the process, it helps to eliminate unnecessary mistakes and shortcomings.

In addition, the planning process will help to develop your conceptual and analytical skills as well as sharpen your mind. Try it. You may find yourself a few steps closer to your dream of becoming your own boss.

The Complete Book of Business Plans by Joseph A. Covello, etc http://www.aloha-city.com/bookshelf/writing.html

One of the best manual on writing business plans. Although it is meant for small business owners who have not undergone formal business training, the concept and planning process is applicable to any business, large or small. Written in a clear and concise format supported by useful financial projections, the book guides readers step-by-step through the process of conceptual planning and writing a business plan.

Article by Patrick Tan of Aloha-City http://www.aloha-city.com
Want to make money on the Web? Don't jump in before getting all the latest tips on starting and building a successful career online. Subscribe to "Back to Basics" Home Business Newsletter - send email to: basics@aloha-city.com.
Visit Aloha-City for more resources on home businesses, affiliate programs and freelance work.


From now on the key is knowledge.
The world is becoming not labour intensive,
not materials intensive, not energy intensive,
but knowledge intensive.
Peter Drucker


3. Resources and Links

Have you noticed that some bookmarks you make leave an icon in your favourites? Like to do it for your site? http://www.favicon.com

Find your sites position in the search engines:
http://www.did-it.com
http://www.websitegarage.com

Check your meta tags and keywords:
http://www.northernwebs.com

Need a Merchant Account:
http://www.charge.com/?vsca95684
http://www.secpay.com/seccard.html
http://www.securetrading.co.uk/

http://www.cybercash.com
http://www.realcredit.co.uk/netscape/singlemerchants.asp http://www.actinic.co.uk/index.html
http://www.setran.co.uk/merchant.html


4. And The Winner!

I asked you the best way that you had of coming up with ideas.
David Kent wins with this excellent strategy.
A copy of Zig Ziglar 'Goals' is on its way to you Dave.

Hi Vic,

I have one amazing way of generating ideas and it works!

Clear your mind and ask yourself 'I need ideas' and consciously think of ideas as much as you can and write them down, then say 'right universal consciousness, its up to you'. (Don't laugh, it takes practice but it does actually work).

Then find a comfortable chair (one you won't fall asleep in) and sit, don't listen to tapes, music, don't watch TV, don't eat, drink, don't smoke, don't do a single thing other than sit. Don't move any part of your body and just sit for approx 30 minutes, after a couple of minutes your body will try to do something, even move a hand or something small, but fight it. Concentrate really hard on not moving anything because it will be so hard, if you can keep your mind clear, don't think of anything and concentrate for 30 minutes what comes next will amaze you. Your mind will suddenly flood with the ideas you asked for, some that are so far from what you might have thought yourself and some quite ridiculous but it does happen, try it tonight.

Dave A. Kent.
If you have any questions about Daves strategies...
he can be contacted at: daveakent@ftnetwork.com


5. Newsletter from Scratch - erm, perhaps not..."Business from Scratch"

I had an idea for a Newsletter. Simple idea based on my last 16 years experience of working in Theatre.

Step One: Is there a market out there?

I've been busy. I very quickly identified 11 Groups of businesses that would be interested in my Newsletter. And even better, these groups cover thousands upon thousands of potential clients.

Now having looked at the market, putting myself in their position (what do they want), I've found that the original newsletter idea needs developing.

Looking at the target prospects, many would be more interested in information on where to get props, not how to make props. What do I do?

What's my focus. To make money providing a great service. Sooooooo...the research so far indicates a slight change of direction. A web database with online news and help on making props?

That's my task for next month. Can I achieve this with my current resources?

More next month,

Vic Carrara


6.The 5 Step Marketing Check List by Wild Bill Montgomery

Marketing is sometimes referred to as the "refined art of persuasion". But actually, true marketing begins from the moment you decide to start your business. Marketing is the whole of everything you and your business communicate to your customers; past, present and future. Below is my version of a quick reference check to marketing your business.

1) Your Business
a) Name should be descriptive, brief and easy to remember.
b) Logo should plant an unforgettable image in people's minds.
c) Present an image of being down to earth, yet professional.
d) Operate your business with Passion, Honesty and Integrity.

2) Your Products and/or Services
a) Quality is the Key.
b) There has to be a Demand or Need.
c) Your Profit Margin must support your efforts and overhead.
d) Be Ready with Backend Products/Services.

3) Advertising
a) Advertising should be constant and consistent.
b) Set and stick to an advertising budget.
c) Research and Test your Advertising.
d) Get Free advertising in any "positive" manner available.
e) Try various media to target your audience.
f) Stick with Successful Campaigns.

4) Customer Relations
a) Provide Accessibility for the Customer.
b) Immediate and Decisive Action.
c) Be Courteous at all Times.
d) Be Friendly and Personable.
e) Consistent Trouble-Shooting Techniques.
f) Explain Your Actions.

5) Follow Up
a) Without Repeat Business, Your Business Dies.
b) Build Confidence & Loyalty by Checking In with them.
c) Send out Catalogues, Brochures or Circulars.
d) Always have another Product or Service ready to go.
e) Offer Discounts or Special Offers for repeat customers.
f) Personalise Your Follow Up, They're Part of the Family Now.

This in no way come close to explaining the hows and whys of marketing. If you're getting ready to start a business, a business fledgling or an established Entrepreneur, consider the list above and examine how your business, product or service and customer relations are stacking up.

Until Next Time!
"Wild Bill" Montgomery

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7.Guerrilla Insights into Technology by Jay Conrad Levinson

The very first insight is to realise that technology isn't what it was while you were growing up and isn't what it was when I was writing this sentence. The blurring speed of change in technology is so pervasive and dramatic that only a dunce would attempt to pin it down. Breakthroughs are reported every day and happening at a pace even faster than that. Your job is to be aware of the changes and to be grateful for technology.

Yesterday, I was watching my football team getting thumped on television. Both teams had wireless technology connecting coaches and assistant coaches, spotters and analysts, and it was all working like a charm. But my team was seriously losing. I made a note then to remind you now that it doesn't really matter how good your technology is if you're not very good. My team could have had even better technology, newer and faster, and still would have had their derrieres whipped. The effectiveness of your technology will reach as far as your own effectiveness and can't surpass it. If everything else is equal, the business with the best technology will win out. But if you have the best technology and not the best attitude and strategy, you haven't got a chance.

To make technology your ally, the first thing to do is learn to love technology -- not for what it is, but for what it can do for you. The biggest changes in technology in the nineties were not the lower cost and increased power, but the simplicity of using technology. User manuals are more clear than ever and the technology itself is far user-cosy.

This gives small businesses an unfair advantage. It allows them to appear as large, as expert and as important as the big guys without the attendant necessary to spend big bucks. It not only has levelled out the playing field, but has actually tilted it in favour of the guerrilla.

That means doing everything you can to increase your comfort level with technology -- taking a course, enlisting the aid of a consultant, reading a book, going to seminars and practising. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. How to you get to love what technology can do for you? Practice, practice, practice. It's hard to break a computer, so your mistakes won't hurt you -- unless you don't risk making them.

The main idea is to learn what kinds of technology are out there to help you run a smooth operation, then to get what you need rather than what you want. If you fail to embrace technology, the world will pass you by.

Companies that have enlisted the aid of technology, made it part of their everyday business, have several marketing edges over their competitors who are lagging behind. By becoming virtual, which is a fancy way of saying "connected," they are able to use technology as a way to keep in touch with their offices, their employees, their customers.

These guerrillas become virtual by means of their computers, to be sure, availing themselves of the speed of email. They are also granted virtual status by means of their communication devices -- telephones, pagers, answering devices, call-forwarding. They can be anywhere they like and still be available at a moment's notice when they're needed.

The insight here is that the more you're connected, the more you're available, and the more you're available, the better you can run your business and service your customers. These days, technology is very visible and portable, thanks to wireless technology, with people walking down the street talking on their miniaturised telephones. This enables them to engage in multiple tasks -- such as conducting business on the phone while driving. It increases their efficiency while reducing their worktime. These people can put their business in their pocket or purse, so to speak. Many entrepreneurs have been able to save substantial sums on office rent by closing down their office and carrying it with them.

The way to think is digital. That means connecting, wherever you are, with real data, tracking all customer interactions, and mining for even more information to better transport those customers to a state of bliss.

Let me urge you now never to use your technology, your virtualness, to bug your customers, to send junk email to anyone on earth, to invade people's privacy, to be intrusive in any way. Digital power and virtual convenience are extremely easy to abuse. Never require customers to give personal information. Ask for it, but never require it.

Technology does enable you to gain a lot of it without asking. If you purchase books from Amazon.com, their technology enables them to review your purchasing history, then recommend books you'd like. But take heed: When you do have information, use it judiciously. Don't bombard people with marketing materials.

As with all marketing, the prime beneficiaries of your technology should be your customers. When they appreciate your virtuality, your technology, their convenience, and let you know -- you're using it right.

Jay Conrad Levinson is probably the most respected marketer in the world. He is the inventor of "Guerrilla Marketing" and is responsible for some of the most outrageous marketing campaigns in history - including the "Marlboro Man" - the most successful ad campaign in history. Learn how Jay can make *your* business a huge success in his latest book (and arguably his best ever) "Guerrilla Marketing for the New Millennium": http://www.guerrillamarketingforthenewmillennium.com


8. NEXT ISSUE

As this has been a bumper pack issue, and the holiday season will tru

ly be on us, lighter reading next month.
More on my 'Props' site, More articles by the acknowledged experts in home business start-ups. And more resource links and tips.

Best of everything,

Vic Carrara
The EBiz Developer

 

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