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Launching a Business – Shamelessly Promote: Part 2

About 18 months ago I posted an article, in the series on Launching a Business, titled: Shamelessly Promote. If you’ve not read that article (or need a refresher) you are encouraged to do so now by clicking here.

This article builds on the above…

As you may know, great ideas come from many sources.

One thing I like to do is scan our local / weekly paper. And, I’m never disappointed in the fact that 1 or more ideas result from doing so. Ideas that I can use in my own business or share with my clients (business and/or SCORE).

This week was no different.

After reviewing this week’s paper I found 2 articles that are examples of simple ways to promote our businesses.

  1. A business spotlight which introduces a new business to the community by sharing a brief story on the owner and how they arrived where they are as well as the products / services they offer.
  2. An informational article authored by a business owner sharing approaches to solving a problem or achieving a goal. This week’s example was from a Real Estate agent: How to maximize your selling potential during the winter.

Local newspapers are a highly recommended and worthwhile channel to get the word out about our business. Not only that, they provide the opportunity to exercise our “promotional” muscles which, as a business owner, we must be doing every single day!

The reality is that most local newspapers are anxious to publish “good news.” In fact, you may learn that you have an opportunity to publish a series of informational articles over the course of several weeks or months. Consider it an extension of your blog, only in print. That is, you only have to write the article once and you can make it available to the local newspaper as well as online on your website.

To explore this option, simply look for the editorial contacts that will be clearly provided on your local newspaper and send them an email, or call, to discuss potentials for doing any / all of the above.

Yes, I know…It can be uncomfortable to self-promote. In the words of my wife, Cindy: Get over it!

The fact is, if you are in business for yourself, you MUST get the word out and remain top- of-mind to your marketplace. This, assuming you truly believe in and have a passion for what you do. The alternative, if you don’t self-promote, is that you will likely not be able to serve (a.k.a., help) as many people as you’d really like to with the products / services you offer. And, you will have dramatically reduced the revenue you could have otherwise generated.

In closing, you are encouraged to shamelessly promote! And, constantly look for new ideas and approaches to doing so.

All the best!

Click here to go to the index of articles on Launching a Business.

Launching a Business – Running the Numbers

Building on a prior post related to mentoring SCORE clients on preparing for the potential launch of a business, one of the key activities is that of “running the numbers.”

Running the numbers includes estimating, to the best of our ability, the:

  • One-time start-up costs
  • Ongoing expenses – the basic / fixed overhead costs to keep the lights on as well as those that are variable (i.e., will fluctuate with the volume of business and/or decisions that we make)
  • Potential revenue we expect to receive. This step is based upon what we defined as our target market, which was covered in a prior post.

The obvious goal is to make sure that we are taking in WAY more revenue than the expenses we incur, so that we achieve a profit!

Now, let’s cover each of the above areas of “numbers” that we’ll want to run for a “service-related” business. This, as opposed to a manufacturing or distribution business, which have additional variables to consider.

Start-up Costs

These are the costs that will be incurred to get the business enterprise off the ground which can include, but are NOT limited to:

  • Incorporating
  • Training, certification and/or licensing
  • Tools, equipment and furniture
  • Establishing a website
  • Business cards
  • Professional services in the areas of legal, accounting and finance
  • Etc.

To be clear, we can pay as much or as little for ALL of the above as we want. Frugality is the key. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we go cheap. I’m simply reinforcing the fact that the above does NOT have to cost thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Ongoing Expenses

These are the costs that will be incurred on an ongoing basis. Some will be flat or incrementally grow with the business (and inflation) while others will be completely variable based upon the decisions we make and the volume of business we do. These costs can include, but are NOT limited to:

  • Insurance policies – professional liability, health and workers’ compensation
  • Facilities – be it your home office or rented space
  • Telecommunications – phone, internet
  • Office supplies – printer ink, paper, etc.
  • Travel-related – gas, parking, tolls, airline tickets, hotels, meals, etc.
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Labor – What we plan to pay ourselves and/or those we may employ or subcontract
  • Our state’s annual corporate filing fee
  • Taxes
  • Etc.

Potential Revenue

Here is where, based upon the anticipated market opportunity, we project how much we plan to “sell” each month, quarter and year for the next 2-3 years. In projecting revenue, it is highly advisable to be very conservative (actually, low ball it) during the first several months of the business. And, then BEAT those numbers.

The process of running the numbers need not be overly complex and can be done quite simply in an Excel spreadsheet. And, some may ask: Where will I find all these numbers? The answer: You will dig for them. The answers can be found online, by calling service providers and just plain shopping around.

run the numbers

Why do I use the phrase “run the numbers”? Because, this is a never-ending exercise: each day that passes and contact we make presents new information, challenges and opportunities that will serve to adjust the numbers. And, during each iteration (review by yourself and/or with a mentor) these numbers will be tuned up and down, as necessary, to make them increasingly accurate and realistic.

Doing so will provide a solid set of guidelines from which to operate your business. That is, you’ll want to stay well within the expense structure and strive to beat the revenue numbers. The result: a profitable business!

I know, I know, some of the more sophisticated readers will say this is pretty basic stuff Craig. Well, yes it is. However, I have now been involved in mentoring several new SCORE clients and NONE of them had yet taken the step to run the numbers.

As such, we need to be sure to cover the basics!

All the best!

Click here to view the next article in the series.

Launching a Business – The Mental Game

In a prior post I mentioned I’m now a SCORE “mentor in training.” One of the key requirements to becoming a fully-qualified / lead mentor is to co-mentor with 5 separate lead mentors, for 2 mentoring sessions each.

Earlier this week I began the process, sitting in on 3 client mentoring sessions. In these sessions we met with individuals who are considering launching service-related businesses. I shan’t provide additional details as to the nature of these services as we must keep our client information confidential. And, we certainly don’t want to create any competition for their potential enterprises 🙂

During these mentoring sessions I made a number of observations. Following are just a couple that impacted me the most.

  • Each of these humble individuals had given considerable thought to a business idea, all of which would seem viable. Viable because:
    • We can easily identify other businesses offering relatively similar services (i.e,. the need exists in the marketplace).
    • Others offering similar services are not doing so in our client’s target market, aren’t doing it very well and/or aren’t clearly differentiated as to the true value they can ultimately bring to their customer. The perfect opening for an entrepreneur!
  • The client’s potential success with their enterprise is NOT “primarily” about the business idea itself. It is primarily about the mental game

A few apt quotes:

When you reach that elite level, 90% is mental and 10% is physical. You are competing against yourself. Not against the other athlete. ~ Dick Fosbury

Golf is 90% mental. Once you know how to hold the club, swing it, it’s all in the mind. ~ Dan Jenkins

Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical. ~ Yogi Berra

My personal experience tells me that this (90% of the challenge is mental) applies just as much to business as it does to athletics.

You see, a big/huge outcome these thoughtful individuals were looking for was – validation. Validation that their idea has merit and that “it” has a chance to succeed. In fact, one of our clients asked the question point blank. My response was something to the effect of: To answer that question, I’d like to put a mirror up in front of you, as this is ALL about you: your belief in your idea, yourself and how hard you are prepared to work to deliver a high quality service.

While we can provide specific business-related guidance (on corporate structures, finance, marketing, sales, operations, website, etc.) a big/huge ingredient to our client’s success is, quite simply, preparing for the mental game. Because, if they can win that, the sky is the limit 🙂

And, the American Dream is quite alive…

As such, my guidance to would-be entrepreneurs is to certainly learn all you can about business and the area(s) you wish to serve, which comes through training/education, work experience, engaging with SCORE, etc. That is the whopping 10% – truly the easiest part.

The other 90% is working on your mental game. This can be done by reading and listening to motivational and inspirational materials that serve to strengthen our self-image and resolve. For the convenience of the reader, MANY recommendations are available on this blog site. Simply click here to prepare for the mental game.

I can personally attest to the SIGNIFICANT impact that each and every book and audio program recommendation has had on my life (personally and professionally), and that of others who have similarly applied each. It is just a matter of doing it – every single day!

In closing, I have found that mentoring would-be entrepreneurs is an extremely rewarding experience. It just doesn’t get any better than being in a position to actively fan the flames of someone’s dream. And, providing concrete guidance to aid in their success.

All the best!