Here are 3 New Year’s resolutions: plan, plan ahead, backup plan.
Here are three more tips if you’re starting a new business that includes a new website or even a revamp of a current business website that sells products or services online.
There’s something about a new start that inspires everyone to try to do better. Make use of the holiday break to think about and plan for your business.
3 New Year’s Resolutions
- Plan Ahead
- Backup Plan
Follow the Plan
It’s heartbreaking to see businesses struggle knowing that if only there had been a plan in place maybe there wouldn’t have been so many problems.
Stick to the Plan–You planned for a reason. Have a business plan and stick to it
PLAN ahead–Plan for unknown events and budget items
BUDGET realistically–Do a P&L sheet and use it
SPEND strategically–Don’t buy or spend unless it’s in your PLAN and your BUDGET
Plan Ahead With Experts
Think before you buy and only spend when it’s in your business and marketing plan.
When you buy holiday gifts, have a holiday party or send holiday cards that you didn’t budget for it’s not really kindness, it’s careless. If you’re suddenly hit with the urge to spend, make sure you’ve got this in your business plan. Holidays come every year. It shouldn’t be a surprise or forgotten line item.
Holidays are an example of unplanned spending. Travel is one that few can budget properly for. Advertising and marketing is another.
There are so many businesses who DIY their marketing and wonder why they have no business. Unreal, but true. If you are actually selling or providing services then do that. Don’t split time trying to half-step your advertising. You aren’t an expert in everything. IF you want to succeed, work with successful businesses who will do for you what you don’t have time or skill to do.
If you do have to go over budget on an item, then be sure to make up the loss with extra business or work or cutback on another line item.
If you don’t have an advertising plan in your business plan. Go back and start over. If you don’t get results with what you’re spending on marketing, fire your agency and get someone else. Go back and budget for more marketing.
You can’t get golden results for free. Budget, budget, budget earns the advertising and marketing you need.
Have a Backup Plan
This is business 101. Many businesses will spend as they go. These businesses also go under quickly. You have a business plan, marketing plan, what’s your backup plan? What happens when you didn’t expect to grow quickly, or budget for additional product development? What about accidents, illness, unforeseen staffing. Are you prepared for a lawsuit? How do you protect your brand? Trademarks, patents, copyrights, legal expenditures should be tackled up front not at the back end.
For example: Before you begin selling online PLAN AHEAD FOR EVERYTHING.
Let’s use selling Peanut Butter online as an example. You’ve got the family recipe for homemade peanut butter and since you sell it to your friends, you decide to sell it online.
Above all: Build a beautiful, solid, well-functioning e-commerce site built by an expert who has other clients who sell many products online. This is not for beginners.
E-commerce is complex, takes time to build properly, should be tested, needs an expert that can take you all the way through online checkout, credit card use, PayPal and any other payment forms.
Shipping and storage of products and assembly are challenges. Where do you store it? Who is mailing your product out and how often? Are you watching for new orders? How are you handling sales receipts, sales tax?
Don’t put a picture up on website and expect people to call or e-mail you for orders. Tacky…
Overall you’ll have to have a backup plan to every aspect of the peanut butter online business:
1. How much does it cost to make per jar?
2. Does it meet city, state and county health and all other standards? Are there preservatives? What’s the shelf life?
3. Where is it made? Do you have a commissary? Is is a legal or illegal kitchen?
4. What about the jar: Plastic or glass? How much does it weigh? Can it be shipped? What’s the shelf life of it in plastic vs. glass?
5. Labels, assembly: Do labels go on before bottling or will the labels get wet and slide off? How do you protect product from going bad? What’s your label got on it? Does it meet all standards? Ingredients list? Are you buying labels and jars in bulk? Are you putting them on or do you have a team?
6. Shipping: How much will it cost to ship all over the country? Do you use UPS, FedEx or USPS? Do you use their packaging or yours? Where do you assemble shipping? Who does it? Flat rate or custom? One day, overnight, ground? How often are you shipping? Does the mailman pickup daily or do you drop off at FedEx or become a part of their route?
7. Insurance: what if the peanut butter jar breaks or opens while shipping? Is it insured? How does a consumer or business get reimbursed? What’s the process? Who pays for the return? How soon can another bottle be sent? Do you provide a bonus for the patient consumer? How do you prevent damage while shipping? Paper packing or Styrofoam? What if someone gets sick from your peanut butter? Does your insurance cover that? What if an employee is hired and finds out he or she is violently allergic to peanuts?
8. How are you protecting your brand? Is your brand trademarked, copyrighted or patented (not peanut butter)? Did you get employees to sign a non-compete and an NDA (non-disclosure agreement)?
9. How much does that bottle of peanut butter cost you now that you’ve included a few costs that you didn’t think of or plan for?
Selling products online is a lot of planning, labor and work. If it’s your dream you can make it happen.
The planning, budget, scheduling and marketing turns dreams into reality. Without a map you have no idea where you’re going.
Happy New Year and Plan Carefully
If you decide to start a new business selling a product online
1. write a business plan
2. write a marketing plan
3. Do a P&L to ensure you can profit
4. Follow your business plan
5. Build a strategic website with an e-commerce specialist
6. Work with an expert to create a marketing plan
7. Build and test your e-commerce site
A lot goes into marketing a brand and successfully running a business. You need to think ahead to stay ahead. Work with The Marketing Square as we’ve launched and re-launched all kinds of products and services. Our clients are companies who have been in business for 10 to 35+ years and they trust us to lead them and support them every step of the way. We’re in-person in Madison, Wisconsin, and Winter Park, Florida.
Have a happy holidays and plan now for the New Year.