12 Most Serious Things To Consider When Starting An Online Business (by Greg Muender)

Starting an online business can be a thrilling time. You have this amazing business idea, and you’re excited about bringing it to the online marketplace. How you start out will, to a large degree, determine the trajectory your business takes.

If you want to experience long-term success with your online business, you need to start out right. Here are 12 things you need to take into account when you’re starting your online business:

1. Success takes hard work

This is just as true in the online business world as it is in the offline business world. If you’re going to succeed, you’re going to have to work hard. Anyone who tells you that starting an online business is easy is probably selling you something.

2. Successful online businesses have a business plan

You need to approach your online business in a strategic fashion. Identify your target market. Develop specific marketing strategies. Set some metrics and goals whereby you can track your progress.

3. Ask for advice

This is true when you’re starting any business — talk to someone who’s been where you’re at. Ideally, you can establish a mentor relationship with someone who already has a successful business. Even if it’s not an online business, their advice can prove invaluable.

4. Get ready to pay taxes and do some bookkeeping

Online businesses are becoming the target of more and more tax legislation. For example, businesses that receive payments via an online payment processing service are now required to have a form 1099-k sent to them. Consider talking to an accountant, even if you’re not yet to the place where you can hire one on an ongoing basis.

5. Constantly measure your results

You need to have your finger on your business’ pulse at all time. That means making constant use of all of the website visitor metrics you can. For example, high bounce rates on a given page inside your site indicate that there’s a problem. It also, of course, means looking at sales.

6. Understand your competition

Very few online businesses are truly unique. The chances are pretty good that there’s another online business out there doing what you want to do. You need to figure out how they’re reaching their customers, and how you can offer something better. Identify what it is that makes you unique over the competition, and put that to use.

7. Work at building a community

One of the things that will really push your online business over the top is building solid relationships with your customers. Online businesses have a number of opportunities to do this that are more difficult with traditional businesses. Whether it’s through conversations on your site’s blog, interacting with customers via social media, or some other aspect, build an online community and you’ll find your business grows by leaps and bounds.

8. Search engine optimization takes more than just good content

While it’s important to have good content on your website, if you want your site to get found by the search engines you’re going to need to do more. Consider consulting with a SEO company if you want to get the highest possible amount of web search traffic.

9. Search engines constantly change their algorithms

What this means is that you might be at the top of Google search results one day and on page six of Google results just a week later. You need to be ready to adjust your strategies accordingly.

10. Be agile

Online business marketplaces can change rapidly. New technologies like social media can pop up overnight. If you want your online business to succeed, you need to be ready to roll with the changes.

11. Be ready for failure

The majority of online businesses fail. Yours may do so. What you need to be able to do is pick yourself back up after that failure and try again. Learn the lessons the failure taught you, and start over again.

12. Celebrate success

Get excited about the progress your business makes. Every step along the way — from your website launch to your first sale to the day you hit the $1 million mark — is worthy of reflection. Don’t get comfortable with your success, but celebrate it and build on it.

The success of your online business depends, to a large degree, on how closely you follow these principles. Understand the online business landscape, practice solid business principles, and work you tail off and you’ll eventually see the success you want to see.

Found on 12most.com

15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing & Social Media (RAMs) Don’t Work! (by Pam Moore)

There you sit in the executive conference room watching everyone nod their heads about the latest idea from the new executive on the block. He or she has a new idea that is going to “save the company.” It could be anything from a random LinkedIn group, social media campaign, planned “go viral” video” or who knows what.

The sad thing is nobody in the conference room has the guts to state the obvious… that there is no budget, time, or resources to implement the new random act of marketing or social media with any level of success.

So, everyone in the conference room nods their heads, takes notes and smiles as if they are excited about the project. However, in their heads they are thinking “how on earth am I going to get this #$@$%@ thing done!??  They start having nightmares in their heads of the budgets they are going to have to rob, the people they are going to tick off and the begging they are going to have to do of needed resources to pull this one off.

Sound familiar? Have you seen this scenario before?

I like to call it a bad case of the RAMMIES.  Scratching tasks and tactical to do items off your list may make you feel good. You may feel a sense of accomplishment. However, in reality too much randomness in your business is a recipe for disaster.

 

Random Acts of Marketing (RAMS) defined

Random Act of Marketing:

An attempt to grow market share, increase brand awareness, drive revenue or other business benefit that is NOT integrated, can not be easily measured or justified and does not integrate with other marketing and biz tactics.

RAMMIES:  

Multiple RAMS which often lead to wasted investment, little to no benefit in the form of brand awareness, revenue and often lead to lay off, market share loss, gray hairs, stress, sleepless nights, mass consumption of chocolate or other high fat foods.

We have all done them, seen them fail and regretted them…. the RAM.  It may start out as a simple Facebook page, Twitter profile or LinkedIn group. The key is what may seem like a pointless little project could eat your ROI before breakfast and lunch!

Top 4 signs of a RAM:

1. Not funded

2. Not in the plan

3. Not integrated

4. No defined metrics for success.


15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing do not Work

1. No budget + no assigned resources + no plan = no results

2 Robbing Peter to Paul is not a strategy. If your planned strategy to obtain the necessary budget requires you wearing a black mask, hiding in the back alley of your office or nabbing lunch sacks of fellow employees then chances are you have a bad case of the RAMMIES.

3. RAMs cost more. Although in the short term you may think completing a RAM or two will cost you less money, in the medium and long term it will do just the opposite. Where you save money now could end up costing you double later on when you have to go back and update, fix errors or integrate with other parts of the business.

4. RAMs are not good for ROI. It may feel good for the short term to cross the random task off your list. You may even be able to impress your peers or stakeholders when you provide a snazzy presentation of all the great random tasks and accomplishments you have made.  However, over time it will inevitably become more difficult for you to prove a return on investment. The same list that delivered you a short term ego boost in the board room might just land your name on the short list for the next round of layoffs if you aren’t careful.

5. RAMs have a way of hiding the real impact.Return on investment across all marketing and social media investments is usually impacted negatively or positively by each and every task. Too many RAMs can have an exponentially negatively impact to your bottom line. Since RAMs are not within plan, budget or associated with real metrics their risk is not usually known up front. These types of projects usually come back to bite ya’ in the “RAMMIE” at some point in time.

6. Difficult to set realistic expectations with executive management and key stakeholders. Because you lack a plan, goals, objectives, assigned resources it makes it difficult to make real commitments. It becomes even more difficult to set realistic expectations with top executives and stakeholders who have a vested interest in the bottom line. I’ve seen marketing and business leaders fail over and over again in this scenario. They wind up making promises based on a hope and a prayer and wind up needing the same thing when they are later asked about the results they so foolishly promised.

7. Lack of goals and objectives makes it more difficult to align needed evangelists, partners and stakeholders. Because a RAM lacks the fundamental success elements such as basic goals and objectives, it becomes difficult to obtain the needed support from both internal and external evangelists, partners and stakeholders. Those smart to the RAMMIE can spot them from a mile away and avoid them at all cost.

8. RAMs don’t fool smart business leaders. As mentioned above in #7, the smart business and marketing leader can spot a RAMMIE from a mile away. They’ve seen them, usually been taken by them in a past job or assignment and avoid them like a spammy Twitter bot. You may be able to fool your co-workers or even a clueless boss. However, eventually you will run into a RAMMIE smart stakeholder who will blow holes in your RAMMIE plan at first glance.

9. RAM timelines are usually not accurate. Because no proper planning, resource allocation or budgeting is associated with a RAM, timelines are usually not realistic. RAMs are often chosen to solve a short term, self imposed emergency business need. Often times they are the result of an executive meeting where a key stakeholder has an idea or demands a project be completed. People scurry, make promises and before you know it a RAMMIE team is formed with a deadline all team members know is impossible to achieve. Everyone goes with the RAMMIE flow as they are either afraid to lose their job or don’t know better. Either wasy this entire scenario is a disaster in the making.

10.  Lack metrics to measure success and set expectations.Measuring success is obviously impossible without proper goals and objectives. Executives and stakeholders are going to have different expectations. Since no proper metrics are set with a RAM, it is close to impossible to manage expectations and measure success or failure.

11. Rams guarantee increased risks. Depending on your business, the risks could be associated with brand, reputation, delivery quality, customer satisfaction, and the list goes on.

12. RAMs are difficult to sustain. Because of all the reasons mentioned above, RAMs are difficult to sustain. It’s pretty hard to maintain a project of any kind without a plan, assigned resources, budget, goals, metrics, alignment of key stakeholders and time lines.

13. RAMS don’t force you to stop doing the things that you should stop doing.  Often times RAMs are taken on because nobody on the team, including executive management has the guts to say no or stop doing something on a list that should be stopped. Usually if you were to do the proper planning for a RAM it would easily uncover that you don’t have the resources or budget to be successful. This would mean that the resources and budget will need to come from another budget (rob Peter to pay Paul). As a result this means something else will have to “not get done”.  Cancelling other projects is usually avoided by the RAM lovin’ manager.

14. Working for a manager who insists you continuously implement RAMS is risky business. If you have a manager who takes on RAMs repeatedly and you repeatedly get the mess to clean up at the end, then I would look for another job or position before you are the next casualty. During my 15+ years in corporate America I saw many people lose their jobs because of RAM lovin’ managers. They may offer you a false sense of security or internal stardom in the beginning. However, your success will not last unless you deliver real results.

15. Integration brings higher return & leverage across multiple mediums.Even though it may seem more difficult if you are new to social media, marketing or business, the truth is, it isn’t. Integration across mediums, projects and plans is the best way to increase return on investment on a large scale. The more you can integrate and avoid the RAMs, the better off you will be. For a business wanting to adopt social media, be sure to focus on goals and objectives where social can have an impact. Every goal or objective is not a perfect candidate for social media or marketing. Take the time to plan and integrate for the highest results possible.

Found on Pammarketingnut.com