Mar 23

Even if you have an online business, you should still develop a solid plan for it just as you would with a traditional brick-and-mortar company. Many people might feel as if this is an unnecessary step to take, but there are several key reasons why a business plan should be viewed as a requirement instead of an option.

Get Things Off to a Great Start

One of the most important reasons why you should develop a business plan is to make sure that you get everything off to a good start in a positive direction. Starting with a basic business plan outline will at least set the pace and get the ball rolling for you, allowing you to have a solid idea and full understanding of which steps need to be taken next. Keep in mind that this plan will serve as the blueprint for your business, so do your very best when working through it. Remember, more than 50 percent of small businesses permanently close within 18 months of opening. You don’t want your business to be a part of that statistic. Do everything you can now to lay a good foundation for your future.


You Need to Have a Game Plan

Think about your favorite sports team. Regardless of the actual sport or venue, they have developed a game plan and playbook beforehand so that they can achieve success and victories during their matches, games, and competitions. The same principle applies to the business world, according to Inc., especially since you are going to be competing against hundreds or even thousands of other competitors within the thriving world of eCommerce.

A basic business plan outline will allow you to have all of the necessary elements of a good playbook that will allow you to win much more than you might think. At the end of the day, the business with the best playbook and execution of those plays is the winner.

Qualify for Financial Loans and Investments

There are not very many businesses that can function and grow without applying and getting approved for some sort of third-party financing and funding. However, one of the first things that many investors and banking institutions request to review from potential applicants is the actual business plan, and you will definitely need to have something ready to show them when they ask for it.

They will want to review the plan thoroughly and will expect for it to cover quite a few main points and pertinent details, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. If you do not have a well-developed plan ready to go, you will discover rather quickly that quite a few doors of opportunity in this regard are closed shut. There are several essential items you should include in your business plan.

  • Executive Summary: This is where you tell the reader what you want so they know right up front what you’re looking for. The executive summary should also be a short synopsis of the rest of your business plan.
  • Market Analysis: How much do you know about your industry and your competitors? You want to come off as an expert in your field so you will be able to establish strategies for success.
  • Service or Product: Here is where you describe what it is that you are actually selling or offering as a service. You need to emphasize what’s unique about your product as compared to other similar ones on the market.
  • Company Overview: You need to have a description of your company, explaining the management structure, qualifications of your employees, and how everyone will work together toward a common goal.

An Effective Assessment Tool for Your Business

Another reason why you need to develop and periodically update your business plan is simply because it is can be used as an effective assessment tool over time. Keep in mind that you will continuously need to recognize your strengths but pay even more attention to your weaknesses. The last thing that you want to do is to open a business that is heavily flawed from the very beginning. If you make a major breakthrough or invention with the product you are selling, you will need to go back to your business plan and put that in. If your management structure or top employees change, that needs to be revised in your business plan too.

Developing a basic business plan outline will at least provide you with a realistic snapshot that identifies your chances of short-term and long-term success. Address any areas of concern and improvement, because doing so will pave the way toward achieving your goals in the future, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, whether you want to create a business plan or not is up to you. However, if you are serious about achieving success and getting the most value from your hard work and diligent efforts, then this should become and remain a top priority.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

May 30

A Guest Post today –

Treating your investments as anything less than a business is a mistake. Following advice of your broker isn’t always bad, but just like in business you should see a return on your investments and most brokers have interests that might not align with yours. If you have found yourself losing money, then you aren’t investing, you’re spending. Just like any business venture it’s essential to understand what brings success and success in the investing game is all about ROI.

A business cannot take major losses, and remain a business for long. Why would you be any different when investing your money? Brokers still get paid when you lose money, so excuses like “everyone’s losing money” or “it’s a bad market” are just that… excuses.

In business, having an employee consists of being able to utilize that employee in the most efficient way possible in order to maximize your return on investment. Think of your broker as an employee–can you afford him? I am sure that firing your broker isn’t what you want to do, but just like in business you can’t spend money if you aren’t making any.

Stocks are Products

Running a business comes from selling either a service or a product. In the personal investing side of things, it runs the same way. You buy and sell products (stocks) – in this case pieces of a company – in order to maximize the return on your money. Having a weak link, such as a bad broker or a computer that can’t keep up with the current trading software is costing you money, just like a bad employee would in a small business.

You Need a Plan

Every good company started with a solid business plan and every solid investment portfolio should utilize a plan as well. A business plan involves promotion, whether in the form of business cards, t-shirts or see these promotional products, a Nashville, TN company has to offer. Stock portfolios are essentially the same, only instead of promoting your business you are doing your best to promote your portfolio to hungry investors that’ll buy these stocks and make you some money in the process.

Set Goals

Another piece of the plan is goal setting. Make a list of things you want to accomplish. At what age would you like to retire? How much debt do you have and at what point does it need to be paid off? Which financial wants and needs are a priority?

Once you have solid goals, you can begin to calculate what needs to happen to get you there. For example, on a 7-percent annual return, do you need to invest 15-percent of your salary each year, or could you get there with 10-percent and wait to reap the rewards for another couple of years. Financial planners are great assets when trying to decide on your short and long-term goals, and they should be utilized unless you are an experienced and savvy investor.

Build a Team

Every business needs a good team to function. When investing, your team is essentially yourself, an accountant, a broker, and a financial advisor or consultant. The accountant is the easiest to justify a return on, as they keep you on track and help you navigate tricky tax codes and deal with capital gains. If you have previously experienced losses, he will help you to apply them over the next few years, thus saving you money right away. The broker isn’t going to show you a huge return (even with their “hot” tips), but they are a necessary evil unless you do 100-percent of your trading online.0

Now, the advisor or consultant is probably the easiest to calculate a return on. If you are solely relying on their advice, it’s pretty simple to calculate your annual returns, thus calculating the ROI from that team member should be a breeze.

Successful investors treat their portfolio as a business. They plan, they strive to make sound decisions and every dollar put in has to generate a return – not unlike a small business. Treat your investments as a product and get out there and start generating a return.



written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Mar 25

A Guest Post, of interest to my readers who run an online store or small business –

During the process of running a small business, there are many different factors that must be taken in consideration when reviewing the way you do business. When you’re selling online, one of the factors that must be evaluated is the type of shipping that you offer. Many small businesses try to offer as many different shipping options as possible. While choices are sometimes good, when it comes to offering shipping options for your small business customers, more is not always better.


Here are a few reasons why you must re-consider the number of options that you provide to your customers for shipping.

Offering Multiple Carriers
In the shipping industry today, there are a plethora of options for you to consider when it comes to choosing a carrier to work with. Many small businesses offer their customers the option of shipping with the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or a specialty carrier. Ultimately, you’re just trying to get a product from your place of business to the customer. Do you really need all of these options available for your customer? In most cases, you would be better served to choose one or possibly two carriers and offer those choices to your customer.

Why Narrow the Options?
Why should you go through the trouble to narrow your shipping options? When you have so many different options for shipping, you have to know all of their shipping policies and procedures. You may have to deal with multiple appointments from delivery drivers every day. You have to get the packages for UPS ready by one time, the packages for DHL ready by a different time, and so on. This adds extra work for you and your employees, and it adds to the confusion.

Whom to Choose
There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer as to which company you should choose to handle your shipping needs for your small business. Look for a company that is most dynamic when it comes to working with businesses and offering the services that you need. Look at what you really need and then try to determine which company is best for that. For instance, you may need access to real-time tracking on the Internet, or overnight shipping, one carrier might be able to handle these areas better than another.

Depending on where you need to ship your products, you may also need to choose one company over another. For instance, if you do a lot of international shipping, then you would want to work with a company that has a good reputation of being able to deliver around the world- even more so in the specific countries you work with a lot. If you are shipping products within the United States, then another company that has a great delivery network across states might be better suited to help you.

One of the most important factors that you need to take into consideration is the rates that these companies charge. Ultimately, you want to make sure that your shipping rates are competitive and affordable for your customers. In some cases, if you are competing against other online businesses that sell the same products, customers will choose the one with the cheapest shipping. This means that you need to figure out who offers the best prices on shipping and then come up with a relative pricing structure for your own shipping rates. If you mark up the shipping and end up charging too much, it could turn a lot of your customers away.

It’s not always easy to create a flat rate shipping policy for your customers, but you may be able to integrate a shipping calculator into your website. Some shipping providers offer access to a free shipping calculator for your website. This is another factor to look at when you are choosing which company to go with for your shipping needs.

Shopping Around
When you are reviewing your shipping procedures, it is a good idea to shop around a bit. Talk to an account representative for each of the major shipping companies that you are considering using. When you get an account representative, you will be able to get a feel for what type of customer service you should expect. You’ll also be able to get price quotes based on how much you’re going to be shipping. In some cases, your representative will be able to give you a price break.

Overall, shipping is a pretty big part of your small business. Take the time to review it and find the best options to offer your small business customers.

Tim Smith is a blogger with, a website that allows you to sell new or used freightliner trucks and other commercial trucks.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Dec 02

I recently read Trade-Off, Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t, by Kevin Maney.


This book surrounds one premise, that for a product to succeed against its competitors, it needs to excel in either Quality (fidelity) or Convenience. In a montage of one example after the next we are given pairs of products as examples of this concept. The fidelity (literally) of MP3 audio is lower that that of a CD, but the convenience is much higher, a dollar or so (assuming you’re not stealing it) and a few seconds download time, and it’s yours. A CD, at best, is a walk or car ride away, or a few days if ordered on line.


The author goes on to discuss how where a product lies on the fidelity/convenience curve will shift over time. Not just to say that it can shift, but that it will. A simple case in point, the iPod. The first models came on the scene as a high priced, high fidelity purchase. Over time, the iTunes store took off but the unique aura surrounding the iPod faded a bit as everyone seemed to have one. As the iPod shifted its position on the curve, Apple introduced the iPhone and gained incredible market acceptance for this new product, again hitting the high point on the fidelity curve as its older products shifted toward convenience.

This book is fast reading, and enjoyable despite its tight focus. Take a read and see if you don’t start to view certain products in a different light.

FTC disclosure – The copy of this book I read was from my public library. No one paid me to read it or write about it. Most links in the sidebars left or right are advertisements, and not personal endorsements.


written by Joe \\ tags: , ,

Apr 09

The debate continues about how the subprime mess occurred. Let me tell you how it would not have occurred:

  • Maximum Loan to value: 80% any higher requires PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)
  • Debt ratio permitted: 28/36 – This means that one’s mortgage payment and property tax cannot exceed 28% of one’s gross monthly income and all one’s monthly debt burden cannot exceed 36%.
  • Income must be verified, i.e. ‘no doc’ loans not allowed.
  • ARMs must be qualified at the maximum adjusted payment 3 years hence. This would insure that a year or two of rising rates would not be an economic time bomb.
  • All documentation must follow the loan, no matter how it’s sold or repackaged

Would these rules eliminate foreclosures? Hardly. People still lose their jobs, and if unable to find work soon may be unable to make payments. People get sick and are unable to return to work, their disability pay not adequate enough to pay the mortgage. The rules above were broken, and the subprime mess resulted. Follow the rules above and it would take a 20% decline in prices for the lender‘s capital to be at risk. With the permitted debt ratio above, a family earning $60,000 can pay $1400/mo toward mortgage and property tax. A $1200 payment can support a $200,000 loan at 6%, 30yr fixed. 20% down, and this results in a $250,000 home. Now, the median price of a home is $206,200 per the latest CNNMoney report, down from $219,300 in the prior quarter. Seems reasonable to me.


written by Joe \\ tags: , , , , , , ,