I think 2011 must be the resurgence of the dotcom bubble. I have heard so many “new social networking and new online business ideas” in the last few months, that if I had a nickel for each one, I would be rich. As a veteran (I now feel old) in the online marketing business and moreover, as a business owner, entreprenuer, business developer, marketer, I need to throw caution to the wind of all these new “online start-ups.” And so, for those of you who are thinking about starting an online business as a full-time effort or as a part-time money maker, I have kindly put together a list of Do’s and Don’ts. Feel free to share, print, post, use:
1. Write out a business plan including an action-oriented online marketing plan with clear goals and actions. Be prepared to align resources, budgets to realistic revenue goals, quarter by quarter. If you do not know how to do this, of course, this is my specialty and I offer both consulting on how to plan on an hourly basis or can take the whole load off you and develop and deliver a fool-proof plan.
2. Do understand your potential competition. Search till your fingers go numb and see who is out there in the marketplace you plan to penetrate. If you find well designed and functioning sites and advertising on top of it, you can bet these guys spend real money in online marketing and you will have to as well. Better consult an expert on whether this is doable or time to go back to the drawing board.
3. Do talk to friends, colleagues about your idea. You need objective feedback and they know you sometimes better than you do.
4. Do have an online marketing budget. Too many start-ups come to agencies and ask for a start-up budget with no idea of what that even means. At a minimum, you need a budget for some intelligent strategy that will detail how your business will work online to become a success; a professional brand identity, a professionally designed and functional website (of course we do this) and from an agency that understands not only technology and art, but also business! For those of you who are considering e-commerce businesses, you need to think through and budget for accounting systems, inventory control systems, merchant accounts, shipping solutions, etc.
1. Don’t be an egoist. If you think you have the idea that no one has thought of, you are probably wrong. It may be many others did think of this online idea or business and failed.
2. Don’t worry someone at an agency will steal your idea. We have heard it all and we know it takes work and MONEY to launch and grow a successful business. We have been there, done that and are focused on our area of specialty. If you are too shy to share what you need with us, you may never get off the ground.
3. Don’t quit your day job before you have done your homework or consulted with an expert in the field
I hope this simple tips help you plan for your online business. I have consulted hundreds of start-ups on web projects and offer consult by phone, in person . At Agent-cy(www.agent-cy.com), we offer small businesses full-service online marketing solutions including: Web Design and Development, Usability Development/Conversion Optimization, Search Marketing Management, Online PR and Social Media Management. If you need help, contact me today for a free 1/2 hour phone consult…firstname.lastname@example.org.