Business Boot Camp - Commonly Asked Questions Starting Or Growing A Business (Continually Updated)

So, You’re Starting a Business Brand (Or Growing An Existing One) To Sell Online?

I have broken this long blog post into shorter, easier to read webpages.

Click Here For A Directory

Epoch BG - Steps In Building A Business or Brand

Part 1 - Introduction

It’s Not Easy But You Can Do It

Data from the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.

 

There Are Fundamental Ways To Make Money In Any Business.

  1. Do The Things Customers CAN'T Do - Get Paid In $$$$

  2. Do The Things Customers WON'T Do - Get Paid In $$$

  3. Do The Things Customers DON'T Do - Get Paid In $$

  4. Do The Things Customers ALREADY Do - Get Paid In $ ONLY

One More Way To Think About This Is:

  1. Important And Urgent Things For Customers - Get Paid In $$$$

  2. Urgent But NOT Important Things For Customers - Get Paid In $$$

  3. Important But NOT Urgent Things For Customers - Get Paid In $$

  4. NOT Important And NOT Urgent Things For Customers - Get Paid In $ ONLY

And Another Way To Think About This Is:

  1. Sell Product To More Customers (Market Size)

  2. Sell More Products (Cross Sell)

  3. Sell Product More Frequently (Consumption)

  4. Sell Products At The Premium Price (Brand)



Feeling Lost In How To Start Or How To Get It Done?

Always Finish Something You Start

An inventory of never-completed projects, initiatives and objectives doesn’t get you to success. Learning to actually finish your mission is one of the best lessons you’ll learn as an entrepreneur.


Every day you’re juggling multiple balls to keep your business and personal life going, but sometimes you need to focus on one task at a time to see it through to completion or risk having many incomplete things. Finish what you start with these five steps.

  1. Decide to finish. The first step of finishing is to make the decision that no matter what, this lingering task or project will linger no longer. Tell yourself you're going to alter your behavior and approach to actually complete what you start. Sometimes this will mean saying no to more things up front so they never make it on the to-do list to begin with, making it easier to eliminate unnecessary busy work.

  2. Make a plan. You know you want to get some of your tasks completed, but what’s the plan? Break down each task into doable, daily action steps, or if it’s something you can finish in a day, into an hour-by-hour plan to completion. Knowing your plan and sticking to it will be crucial to actually getting things done. Oftentimes this will mean setting a plan to create calendar boundaries where your staff and family aren’t allowed to access you so you can work uninterrupted.
     
  3. Start. You’ve made a plan and broken it down into actionable steps to help you attack and complete the project. The next most important step is to start. Don’t wait until the morning or after lunch, get started now. Start tackling the first action step in the plan and don't wait to get going.
     
  4. Make your deadlines. Your plan should include deadlines. Commit to them. Most people don’t finish what they start because they find excuses. Some days you may have to stay late, skip lunch or come in early to push through to complete the steps of your action plan. Do what it takes as part of step one, your decision to finish, to keep moving forward to completion.
     
  5. Don’t just finish, complete. You’ve made the decision, made the plan and carried on to see the project through. It feels great to get a huge task off your plate, but there’s one last important step to finishing: completion. When the task is done, make sure it’s complete by ensuring it’s stored, shared or saved appropriately.

 

Done Is Better Than Perfect

10 Reasons Why Done is Better Than Perfect
  1. You get results: When you have this expectation of perfection, it's either you don't get things done because of the fear of failure or spending too much time perfecting the little details.

    It doesn't matter if it's a work task or a project, perfectionism delays the results even further. Getting things done means you have results as it is.
     
  2. You avoid paralysis:  With your constant fear of failure and not being enough, perfectionism makes you be in a state of paralysis where you feel stuck and can't get anything done.

    In return, you choose to settle for not doing anything at all. With your need for getting everything right, you don't know which direction to go.
     
  3. You can still fix your mistakes: Just because a task is finished, you can still edit your errors and mistakes. Nothing is permanent and the same goes for your tasks.

    Rather than striving for perfection initially, remember that you can always learn from your mistakes. In a work task, you can always edit things afterward rather than break yourself trying to perfect things.
     
  4. You're more stable:  Perfectionism can easily take you out of your balance, whether you like it or not. The need to have everything done a certain way impacts your mental and emotional health negatively.

    Simply doing your tasks should be adequate enough for you, without worrying about whether or not you've met your own expectations.
     
  5. You're more realistic: Perfectionism is a double-edged sword that you don't want to integrate into your life. There's nothing realistic with achieving perfection in your tasks. What matters more is getting things done and making the effort to push through it, no matter how mediocre it may seem for you. By getting things done, you're setting a realistic and most importantly, a healthy standard for yourself and others.
     
  6. You save more time:  Striving for perfection is the most time-consuming ur task hours ago but instead, you're obsessing over one detail that may or may not be significant to the overall output.

    Learn to be content with being done as it saves you more time in the long run. Avoiding perfectionism isn't just healthy, but it promotes saving time and energy.
     
  7. You're more productive:  You will never achieve productivity if you're stuck on perfecting something, and this is a lesson perfectionists learn the hard way.

    No matter how hard you try, you can't have both perfection and productivity in one go. They contrast one another.
     
  8. You'll avoid procrastinating: A lot of people wonder why perfectionists have it in their nature to procrastinate when they want everything to be perfect. Again, this stems from a deep fear of failure and mistakes.

    When you have this need for things to go exactly within your standards, you tend to do it at the last minute as you're scared of disappointing others or yourself.
     
  9. You avoid overworking:  There nothing bad about spending your time at work. In fact, that attribute is seen as ambitious and persistent. The harm lies when you don't do anything else but work as this is extremely harmful to your overall health.

    Perfectionists tend to busy themselves with work as they feel as if something's off when they aren't working. This is nowhere near healthy and will lead to you burning yourself out completely.
     
  10. You avoid burnout: Every perfectionist will tell you that it's not a path you intend to take. It may seem attractive at first, but it will break you to the point of no return.

    Being damaged because of the need to achieve perfection isn't what you want in your life. Perfectionism is the opposite of living your life.


Hope For The Best But Plan For The Worst

“Hoping For The Best, Prepared For The Worst, And Unsurprised By Anything In Between.”

It Will Take Longer Than You Think

  • Murphy's Third Law: Everything takes longer than you think it will.
    • Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law

    Think of a task that you’d really like to finish in the next few weeks. Now, write down these three dates:

    • The date by which you will have to finish the aforementioned task.
    • The date you’ll be done if everything goes right.
    • The date you’ll be done if everything goes wrong.

    It Will Cost More Than You Plan For

    Here is the link for SBA's start-up cost estimator:

    https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/calculate-your-startup-costs



    Part 2 - Planning A Business

    Determine Your Niche And Business Idea – What Customer Problem Are You Solving?

    “If You Want To Make Money, Solve A Problem.
    The Bigger Problem You Solve, The More Money You Make.”

    Epoch BG - Steps in Building A Business Or Brand

    A Check List:

    • Is There A Problem?
    • Is The Problem Painful Enough ($$?, Urgent, Important)?
    • Is The Problem Frequent Enough (Weekly Vs Once 8 Years?)?
    • Are There Enough People With The Same Problem (500 Ppl Vs 20m)?
    • How Hard Is It To Reach To People With Problem (Channels)?
    • Is Market Saturated By Big Brands (I.E. Spring Water)?
    • Is Solution At Least 3x Better Than Current Substitute For Any Segment Of Market?
    • Does The Solution-Business Model Work (Subscription, Cross-Sell, Upsell, Partnerships, Sponsorships, Grants, Etc)?
    • Is There A Segment That Can Be The Early Adopters?
    • Is There A Road To Other Bigger Segments?

    Conduct Product Research.

    1. Research products in high demand
    If you don’t have a product concept in mind yet, gain inspiration by looking into currently popular products. Look at trending hashtags, pins, and comments on Pinterest, and at the best-selling products on Amazon. You can even walk around brick-and-mortar stores to see what they’re selling and how items are categorized.

    Do you already know what type of product you’d like to sell? Follow the same process but narrow down your search to look only at products and product categories similar to yours.

    Remember to keep an open mind as you try to ascertain the level of demand. Your goal is not to convince yourself that your product idea is outstanding. Your goal is to honestly evaluate the demand and then go back to the drawing board if necessary.

    2. Read reviews and case studies on similar products
    As you research products like yours, make sure to read reviews. Reviews are a treasure trove of information about what consumers liked and didn’t like about a product. Often customers detail pain points and outline specific improvements or features they would like to see.

    Amazon research is a great way to accomplish this task. Plus, Amazon points out bestsellers, “Movers and Shakers,” and even products that are frequently bought together.  Use free apps like "Helium 10" to get an idea of what is selling for what price.

    Researching on Amazon gives you additional insight into how consumers think throughout the buying process. You may land on an idea for a convenient product bundle you could offer or a stellar cross-selling strategy. Amazon research is especially helpful if you have an online storefront.

    Similarly, download or purchase case studies from companies that have sold similar products in the past. Case studies typically identify problems the company faced and then outline how the problem was solved.

    By examining reviews and case studies, you can think through potential problems and solve them before they occur. You’ll also identify how your product will improve on similar existing products, differentiating you from the competition.

    3. Don’t overlook product marketing
    Having a great product and knowing how to price it is essential, but you can’t overlook the importance of product positioning and marketing strategy. Again, it’s useful to research your competitors here. How did they market their product? Was their strategy successful? How could you improve on it?

    Consider your target audience, too. Which communication channels and social media platforms do they use the most? Where do they gain inspiration for the products they’d like to purchase?

    Where do they shop? What are their interests? Your marketing strategy should resonate with your target audience and speak their language.

    You’ll need to select your marketing strategies, channels, and tools, then plan a marketing campaign.

    4. Use a soft launch for product marketing
    Test marketing and soft launches help you trial your product to estimate sales. If the trial goes poorly, you can modify the product before spending more money on producing and marketing it.

    Test marketing provides beneficial information. A soft launch doesn’t have to be fancy or costly. Set up a simple landing page for your product and expose your product on social media to evaluate demand.

    As people inquire about your product, explain that you’re about to launch. Provide a form that interested parties can fill out and then be sure to keep in touch and notify them when your product is available.

    5. Continue conducting product research
    Product research doesn’t end when your product launches. Continue asking for customer feedback, measuring the success of your marketing campaigns, and tracking metrics such as repeat purchases. And test strategies such as a referral program or a loyalty program to attract and retain customers.

    Keep an eye on your competitors and any emerging trends in your industry. It’s never too late to refine your marketing strategy or make product improvements.


    Learn About Online Business Laws.

    There are many rules and regulations that govern e-commerce.

    These four, in particular, could significantly impact your small business. 

    • Small business owners can't afford to run afoul of online business laws that are in place to protect consumers. Penalties run in the thousands of dollars.
    • Collecting sales tax is a big area of concern for online merchants. The rules vary by state, making it cumbersome to manage without the help of software.
    • Business owners must be careful when marketing to new and existing customers. If marketing emails violate provisions in the CAN-SPAM Act, you may be fined by the Federal Trade Commission.

    E-commerce platforms and online marketplaces make it easy to sell online, but e-commerce is more than uploading product pictures and accepting payments. There are laws and regulations you must follow, and if you run afoul of any of them, you could face serious legal and financial consequences.



    Define Your Business Model.

    There are two completely different Business Models: Business-To-Business (b2b) and Business-to-Consumer (b2c)


    Business To Business (b2b)

    Wholesale / Distributor Model.

    This is where you sell to other businesses (other retailers like Amazon, Target, Sephoria, etc) or distributors that in turn sell your products to other businesses.

    Your per unit profits are lower but over all profit dollars are theoretically higher because you make it up in higher volumes sold. Compared to retail profit margins, you get anywhere from 50% to 30% of the profit you get from the retail margin.

    You will not have as much connection to the actual consumer so starting out this will be more difficult to build your brand.  So your marketing is critical that you reeach your target customer and let them know where your product is available at.

     

    Business To Customer (b2c)

    Retail Model.

    Basically this is where you are selling directly to your customer, whether online or in your physical store.  You have the potential of the most interaction with your customer and have the highest.

    The drawback for starting businesses/brands is that you are unknown resulting in few actual customers and potential customers that will consider your products.  Your marketing focus when starting is brand exposure (getting the word out). 

     

    Fallacy Of Dropshipping

    The biggest risk in dropshipping is unreliable shipping partners. ... When a customer orders a product, the dropshipper places an order for the exact same item from a dropshipping supplier. The supplier ships the order directly to the customer, without the dropshipper ever seeing or touching the product.

     

    Difference Between White Label And Private Label

    Private label is a brand sold exclusively in one retailer, for example, Equate (WalMart). White label is a generic product, which is sold to multiple retailers like generic ibuprofen (Advil).”

     



    Define Your Brand And Image.

    Establish An Emotional Connection To Customers and Potential Customers

    How to Create Emotional Connections with Your Customers
    • Tell Authentic Stories.
    • Remember the Human.
    • Embrace Personalization.
    • Be Real.
    • Understand your Audience.
    • Nurture a Relationship.

    Business Name Vs Brand Name

    Corporate name (inc, LLC, etc) is the parent with multiple subsidiaries (DBAs or actually subsidiaries).

     

    Trademarking

    There are various types of trademarks. Research the one that fits you.

    Here's the link:

    https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Inventor%20Info%20Chat%20-%20Trademark%20Basics%206-15-17.pdf



    Color Scheme

    Individual demographics prefer individual color schemes.


    Embrace color theory to understand what colors mean. Identify what your brand is about so you can align with relevant colors. Consider your competitors so you don't look the same. Create and test a color palette across all brand touchpoints.



    Font

    Same Thought As The Color Scheme.



    Part 3 - Logistics

    Ok, If You Think You Have A Viable Idea Some Logistics To Figure Out

    What Is Your Business Plan?

    How Are You Going To Pay For All Of It?

    • Personal Savings
    • Loans
    • Credit Lines
    • Investors

    Personal savings is the least risky for you but is commonly not enough to adquately cover all the start-up costs and ongoing expenses until your enterprise is profitable.

    Loans and Credit Lines will involve a some sort of lending institution.  Even with an SBA backed loan or credit facility, you will need some sort of business plan, financial projections that are feasible (no pie-in-the-sky numbers), and documents like past income tax docs and banking records.  Also, your credit score rating will likely come into play.

     Venture Capital Firms (VCs) and Angel Investors (private individual investors), in addition to requiring a solid business plan and also what's known as a "Pitch Deck" (which is a condense version of your business plan that can be presented in 5-15 minutes), will typically have the following questions for you (the bullet points are what you need to respond with):

    "Tell me about your idea"

    • What is the thought process behind this idea?
    • What motivated you to start this?
    • Was it a spur-of-the-moment idea?
    • Is there founder-market fit?

    "Why are you and your team the right people to be building this?"

    • What are your team dynamics like?
    • Signs of potential co-founder conflict?
    • Do you have the right culture to attract future talent?
    • Do you have the necessary perseverance?

    "Who are your main competitors?"

    • Are you up-to-date with what's out there?
    • How much do you know about who you're competing with?
    • How are you going to compete with them?
    • "What are your customer acquisition cost?"

    Are you familiar with your financials?

    • Do your calculations make sense?
    • Is your product/service defensible in the long run?

    "What are your biggest challenges?"

    • Are you able to own up to and articulate your weaknesses?
    • Can you demonstrate how you might be able to turn them into opportunities?

    "How can I help you?"

    • Have you done your relevant research into the investor?
    • Do you know exactly what you need from them to take your company to the next stage?
    • Is it connections, advice and/or industry expertise?

    Personal Guarantees

    It is just about certain that in order to get approved for a business loan or credit line you will have to agree to some sort of personal gaurantee.

    You risk your financial security when you offer a personal guarantee. When you fail to comply with the loan contract's agreement, you are personally liable for the repayment by offering properties and other nonmonetary assets as payment.

    The main disadvantage of a personal guarantee is also very simple. If your business becomes unable to pay its debt, you become personally liable for it . That means your company's creditor can pursue you personally and that puts your personal assets (including your home) at risk.




    Form A Business Entity

    What kind of business entity?

    You should take the time to determine what kind of entity you want to form.  It should be determined by what kind of business you're starting, how many people are involved, and the parameters of how the business will be run and managed.

    Basically, in the US, there are two types of structures:  S Corps and LLC's.

    S Corp

    An S corporation is named for Subchapter S of Chapter 1 of the USA Internal Revenue Code. It has elected to be taxed under this provision of the IRS code. S corps are also known as S subchapters.

    An S corporation protects the personal assets of its shareholders. ... In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, owners and the business are legally considered the same—leaving personal assets vulnerable. Pass-through taxation. An S corporation does not pay federal taxes at the corporate level.

    LLC

    Limited liability companies are corporate structures in the United States where owners are not personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. ... LLCs do not pay taxes—their profits and losses are passed through to members, who claim them on their tax returns.

    Avoid Sole Propriorship

    Even though a sole proprietorship business may offer an easy formation process, it becomes hardly impossible to avoid possibly being personal liable for anything resulting from running the business under that legal designation.

    Once you decide on a business structure consider using a service such as Legal Zoom (https://www.legalzoom.com/) to actually form the entity.

     

    What State To Incorporate In?

    Choosing where to incorporate can be as important as choosing what type of business entity to form. While there’s no legal requirement as to where your small business must incorporate, choosing the right jurisdiction is definitely a strategic issue that can provide benefits in the long run. If your business engages in business across state lines, you should take certain factors into considerations such as how corporate taxes and laws vary between jurisdictions.

    Home State
    If you own a local small business and do not have plans to expand outside of your home state, incorporating at home usually makes the most sense. Generally, for every other state that you do business in, you will have to register and pay substantial fees as a foreign corporation. That means that if you incorporated in a different state, but only do business in your home state, you will likely be paying registration fees in the incorporating state as well as foreign corporation fees in your home state. In addition, you will likely have to hire a registered agent for service of process in every state that you do business.

    Tax-Friendly State
    Choosing a tax-friendly state can lead to huge potential savings for your small business. Nevada often tops the list as places to incorporate for tax considerations given that it has no taxes on corporate income, corporate shares, franchises, or personal income. Be aware though that most states require you to pay taxes on any income generated within that state. That means that if your small business was incorporated in Nevada, but you do business in both Nevada and New York, you will still have to pay New York taxes and fees. 

    Corporate-Friendly State
    You’ve probably heard the term “a Delaware corporation” before. Why do so many companies choose Delaware as a place to incorporate? It is because Delaware is widely known as the jurisdiction with the best business laws in the country. In addition to Delaware laws being very corporate-friendly, the court system, known as the Court of Chancery, is very sophisticated in business issues and is very effective in resolving issues. That means less legal costs for litigation that might take years longer elsewhere. Interestingly enough, many investors won’t even invest in a company that isn’t incorporated in Delaware or will require the company to reincorporate in Delaware. 

    Regardless of where you ultimately decide to incorporate, check out your local economic development corporation or chambers of commerce for information on certain benefits your small business might be eligible for when you do business in that state. For example, small businesses in New York City can apply for tax benefits if they meet certain criteria. Finally, check out these other considerations when choosing a location by the Small Business Administration.

    Permits And Licenses

    Where ever your business has a point of presence (physical location, sales reps, etc.) you will need to confirm what, if any, permits, licenses, sales tax collections and possibly other conditions to be satisfied by that govenrning agency.

    For example, say you're located in California and have sales reps in New York and Oregon.  Then you have points of presence in CA, NY, and OR.

    Trademarks

    If your business involves brands, you will want to obtain trademark(s) for your brand to protect it.

    There are several types of trademarks so determining what suits your particular need will warrant researching.

    For instance, if you want to sell on Amazon, Amazon requires a particular type of trademark to go through their brand registry.

    Here is a link to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) search page.  The first step is to confirm your sought after trademark has not already been granted:

    https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search

    Note obtaining a trademark is a complicated and legnthy process.  You may want to consider consulting with a trademark attorney to ensure the process is completed correctly.

    Taxes

    Depending on what business entity you form, and what state you are incorporated in, how you pay state and federal income taxes  as well as sales tax payments will vary. 

    Consulting with a CPA that is licensed in the state you are incorporated in is recommended.

    If you have employees retaining a payroll service is recommended (or at least looking into) to avoid fines and penalities in late payroll tax payments.

    Insurances

    Depending on what state you are incorporated in, where you have points of presence in, what kind of business you are in and what you are selling (products or services) will dictate what kind of insurance(s) you will need.

    And if you have employees, workers comp insurance can be difficult to obtain.  Consult a compentent licensed business insurance broker that is licensed in the state you are incorporated in.



    Separate Your Personal Life From Business

    Its critical that you keep your personal identity and finances separate from your business entity and business finances.  Co-mingling of activities and monies can get you in serious financial and legal trouble, even if there is no mal-intent on your part.  A primary reason to form a business entity is to protect you and your personal assets from litigation of any sort.

    Financial Accounts

    Business Bank Accounts

    Getting a business bank account (checking and saving) will require you to verify you are an actual business.  Typically what is needed to get an account(s) is:

    1. Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
    2. Personal identification. 
    3. Business formation documents.
    4. Ownership agreements.
    5. Business license.
    6. Certificate of assumed name.
    7. Monthly credit card revenue.

    Merchant Providers

    Merchant providers are the organizations that process credit card payments made your customers.  Its common that your merchant provider will be the same as where ever you do your business banking.

    On E-commerce platforms like Shopify, the platform will want you to use their merchant provider.  You just provide your business bank account and routing number information.

    Paypal

    For online purchases this a common method customers use because it is a secured method they trust and if there is an issue the customers know they can easily submit a dispute of payment. 

    Whether the dispute is valid or not PayPal will "lock" that disputed amount on your account preventing you access to those funds.  And those funds will be locked until the issue is resolved.

    PayPal can be fickle when it comes to its algorithm detecting "suspicious" activity on your account.  The algorithm is meant to protect your funds against fraud but can be tripped by authentic (meaning correct actual transactions) that may cause you to not have access to funds.

    If you violate PayPal's terms and conditions causing a suspension or termination of your account know PayPal may hold all funds in that account for a period of time (180 days+).  Beware of this and what that impact could have to your cash flow. 



    URL Domain And Email

    URL Suffix

    Com and Net are two of the most popular domain name extensions. If your preferred .com domain name extension is not available, then you might be tempted to use a .net instead.

    However, .net isn’t a good option for your business in most cases.

    The “com” in the .com domain name indicates a “commercial” site. This can cover business websites, websites that want to make money online, personal websites, blogs, portfolios, and more.

    On the other hand, the “net” in the .net domain name extension stands for “network”. It was designed for the internet, networking, and email service providers.

    If you’re wondering about .org, that stands for “organization” and was originally intended for use by nonprofit organizations.

    It’s much easier for people to remember a .com domain name than any other domain extension. It’s familiar and reassuring, plus it makes your site look professional.

    Also, most mobile keyboards have a dedicated .com button. You won’t find that for .net (or any other extension).

    There’s just one problem. You’ve probably noticed that .com domain names are so popular that it feels like all the good ones are already taken!

    However, there are still plenty of clever ways to get the perfect .com domain name. Here are some things to try:

    • Check that your domain name represents your business and what you do. For example, stargardeningservices.com is better than starservices.com.
    • If your preferred domain name is taken, then you can add a word before or after it to make it unique. Your location could work well here. For example, stargardeninghouston.com.
    • Make sure your domain name can be easily pronounced and remembered.
    • Don’t use hyphens or numbers in your domain name.
    • Take advantage of online domain name generators. These free tools will help you come up with clever domain name ideas that are unique and still available.
    • Using .Com Not Anything Else

    Email Addresses

    A professional email address is the one that has your business name in it. For example, john@myphotostudio.com is a professional email address. Email accounts on free email services like john.photographer@gmail.com are not good for business because they do not look professional.

    Social Media

    Don’t Co-Mingle With Your Personal SM

    Stay Away From Political Or Hot-Topic Issues

    Contact Information

    • Google Phone Number
    • Virtual Business Address



    Getting Started

    Who Or How Are Your Products Produced?

    Packaging / Branding Design

    How Do You Pay For It?

    Production Lead Time?



    Where Are You Going To Sell Online?

    Registering Your Domain

    Your Own E-Commerce Store – Which Platform?

    • Shopify
    • A WordPress Platform – Woo Commerce, OpenCart, etc
    • Magento
    • Amazon
      • Are You A Seller Or A Vendor?
      • FBA Vs FBM?
      • How Does Amazon Value You And Your Products
    • 3rd Party Online Sites
      • Big Box Retail Sites (Sephora, Walmart, etc)



      Online Store Design

      Store Design To Reflect Brand

      Site Layout

      Color And Font Scheme

      Its What Your Customer Wants Not What You Want

      K.I.S.S.



      No Traffic = No Sales

      The Truth and Myths of SEO

      Multiple Landing Pages

      A landing page is a standalone web page usually created by Sales or Marketing to gain attention for a product or event. The page is usually linked to in email campaigns or in social media content, and often contains a call-to-action or a form to convert visitors into leads. Used to get organic page 1 search engine (Google, Bing, etc) results.


      If done correctly the most effective cheapest way to market your brand.

      Paid Advertising And Small Budgets Don’t Mix

      Customer Email Lists – Staying In Touch

      Organic Methods (Translation: Free Ways To Get Noticed)



      Part 4 - Concepts To Master

      Cost Of Goods (COGs) – What It Is And What It Isn’t

      Cost of goods sold (COGS) refers to the direct costs of producing the goods sold by a company. This amount includes the cost of the materials and labor directly used to create the good. It excludes indirect expenses, such as distribution costs and sales force costs.


      Includes:

      • Product Material / Ingredients
      • Packaging / Labeling
      • Shipping From Manufacturer To Your Warehouse
      • Product Testing / Certification If By Batch

      Does Not Include:

      • Overhead Costs
      • Marketing / Advertising
      • Shipping Costs To Wholesalers / Distributors

       

      Customer Acquisition Costs - CAC

      Customer acquisition cost is the best approximation of the total cost of acquiring a new customer. It should generally include things like: advertising costs, the salary of your marketers, the costs of your salespeople, etc., divided by the number of customers acquired.

       

      Profit Margins – Are You Getting Enough?

      You Can’t Raise Prices – You Have To Lower Costs

      Retail Margins

      Retail Price / COGs

       

      Wholesale Margins

      Wholesale Price / COGS

       

      Distributor Margins

      Distributor Price / COGS

      ROI(Return On Investment) – Are You Making Money

      In Your Business

      Return on investment measures how effective your investments into your business are at generating income.


      Whenever you invest money or time into your business, you need to have a goal result in mind and way to measure it to ensure you're making a profit. Calculating the return on investment is a way to measure whether a business decision is paying off.


      Calculating ROI can also help you understand what's working and not working in your business so you can make changes. It's a way of asking, "What will I earn by investing this time and money into my business?"

      With Your Marketing / Ads

      Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a marketing metric that measures the amount of revenue earned for every dollar spent on advertising.

      ROAS equals your total conversion value divided by your advertising costs. “Conversion value” measures the amount of revenue your business earns from a given conversion. If it costs you $20 in ad spend to sell one unit of a $100 product, your ROAS is 5—for each dollar you spend on advertising, you earn $5 back


      Inventory – Cash Blackholes

      # Of Skus Drives Inventory Levels And Costs

      Increasing inventory can be a good thing in the case of fast-moving stock, but this very often is not the case. Instead, outdated, slow-moving SKUs often proliferate, which can cause a strain on the entire system.

      Companies with too many SKUs will run out of physical space in storage centers, will have more difficulty working with stock, will spend more money finding, sorting, and shipping stock, will tie up capital in dead and obsolete stock, could have tax issues relating to the extra inventory, and even have issues with timely shipping and customer service.

      Finally, a larger SKU inventory can create a strain on management, which can increase costs and decrease efficiency.


      If your capital is tied up in obsolete inventory, have a large volume of that inventory, or the amount of inventory in your warehouse makes it difficult to appropriately sort and handle it, it is definitely time to reduce your inventory. Unchecked SKU growth can affect a great deal of costs, but the the following include some of the most common:
      → Storage Space (cost of leasing, percentage of storage utilized, length of time spent in warehouse, cost of labor, extra hours to sort through/around stock, storage media, equipment costs, etc)

      → Capital tied up in obsolete stock (percentage of capital that could be used towards a new investment)\

      → Labor used for management, warehouse management, picking, shipping, etc.

      → Packing, Shipping, etc.

      → Merchandising

      → Marketing

      → Website prominence

      → Management costs/time

      Depending on what you are selling, and on the number of platforms you are selling on, your costs can vary a great deal. That's why it's important to understand SKU profitability, so that you can appropriately calculate costs and expenses.

      Inventory Turn

      What Is Inventory Turnover? Inventory turnover is a financial ratio showing how many times a company has sold and replaced inventory during a given period. A company can then divide the days in the period by the inventory turnover formula to calculate the days it takes to sell the inventory on hand.

       



      Financial Statements – The Basics

      Profit / Loss (P&Ls)

      The profit and loss (P&L) statement is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specified period, (month, quarter, etc). These records provide information about a company's ability or inability to generate profit by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or both.

       

      Balance Sheet

      A balance sheet is a financial statement that reports a company's assets, liabilities and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time, and provides a basis for computing rates of return and evaluating its capital structure.

       

      Income Sheet

      The income statement shows a company's expense, income, gains, and losses, which can be put into a mathematical equation to arrive at the net profit or loss for that time period. This information helps you make timely decisions to make sure that your business is on a good financial footing.

      Cash Flow Statement

      A cash flow statement is a financial statement that summarizes the amount of cash and cash equivalents entering and leaving a company. ... The main components of the cash flow statement are cash from operating activities, cash from investing activities, and cash from financing activities.

       



      Part 5 - Google Tools For Your Site

      Google Analytics

      Bounce Rate

      The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

      If higher than 50% there is a problem.


      "A Rising Bounce Rate Is A Sure Sign That Your Homepage Is Boring Or Off-Putting"

      Average Duration and Page Views

      What is a good average time on page Google Analytics?


      62 seconds

      Conversion Rate

      In Google Analytics, the goal conversion rate is calculated as the number of goal conversions divided by the number of sessions, times 100.

      For example: if your ecommerce goal is 'Purchase completed', every time a purchase is completed it will count as a goal conversion.

       

      Filters

      Demographics (Age and Gender)

      Geographic (Where Your Visitors Are Located)

      Devices Used (Desktop, Mobile, Tablet)

      Secondary Dimensions

      What Search Terms Did Visitors Use To Find Your Site

      Search Console – Its How Google Sees Your Site

       

      Sitemap Upload

      Don’t Forget Getting Indexed On Bing

      Here is the link for Bing:

      https://www.bing.com/webmasters

      Google Explore/Trends

      What is trending and Where With What Search Terms.  Select date ranges and geographic location.

      Here’s the link:
      https://trends.google.com/trends/explore


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