Author Archives:Donna

starting-a-business

So You Want to Start Your Own Business

So you have decided to start your own business. You have made the leap to become your own boss and to put your business ideas in motion. That is wonderful news, but you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed at tackling this new adventure in your life. Maybe you feel you lack the basic business knowledge to get you started and to sustain your business, or maybe you have some business knowledge, but just need a support system to fall back on and to boost your confidence and get you going in the right direction.

Well your local SCORE Cincinnati Chapter has the solutions for you on many angles of your new business anxiety. Come to a virtually free workshop ($5) on “So You Want to Start Your Own Business.” This workshop will be held on Saturday, December 10th at the CMC Office Center in Blue Ash, OH. The complete address is 10945 Reed Hartman Highway, Suite 105 Blue Ash, OH 45242. The workshop will start promptly at 8:30am and run until 12:15pm. Light snacks/drinks will be provided.

You may be asking yourself how will this workshop help you and your new business or even just the idea you have to start and create a profitable, sustainable, growing business? Some of the topics that will be covered will be taking an entrepreneurial self-assessment. This self-assessment will gauge your current abilities on becoming a successful entrepreneur. This is a very insightful self-assessment that will be enlightening towards your career on becoming a prosperous entrepreneur. This session will also go over the myths associated with being an entrepreneur and running and owning a small business. This information will be good to know because some of these myths may be currently holding you back from catapulting your business idea to greater heights, and some of the myths will be further examined to give you a clearer picture on what being an entrepreneur on a day-to-day basis is, and the hard work and determination that it truly does take in order to succeed in this space.

Two community-wide business leaders will lead this workshop. Mr. Rick Johnston is a former New Products Manager with Procter & Gamble and a SCORE Chapter Chairman. Mr. Tom Moon is a former Vice President and General Manager at Cincinnati Machine Tools, and President and CEO of Alba Manufacturing, Inc., and a SCORE Education Committee leader.

Additional topics of discussion at this very informative workshop include strategies to show you how to take your idea from thought to live process and ways to develop your business idea further, as well as, how to identify your customer base and target market. Marketing strategies and sales plans are discussed with step-by-step guidance on how to develop these two areas of your business and/or business plan. Financing strategies are also discussed in this workshop. Everything from where to obtain capital funding, and all of the many varied routes of financing a new business owner can partake upon to gain monies and needed financing to get your business up and running smoothly. Cash flow is a topic that is discussed within the financing portion of this workshop. This is a topic that is often misunderstood, so attending this workshop would definitely help you on gaining a better understanding to what exactly cash flow is, and it does not necessarily mean expenditures out and revenues in – there is a lot more to it than that.  There are some clear misconceptions pertaining to what cash flow actually is, and this workshop helps to alleviate these misconceptions you may have as a new business owner and beyond.

starting-a-business

Additional topics include options to starting a business for all of you on the fence about whether to take that leap or not, as well as, how to find the right resources to get you started and to keep you going successfully in your new business endeavor. Keep in mind that your local SCORE chapter has certified mentors/coaches on-hand essentially 24/7 that can assist you all along your business journey in one-to-one meetings and group mentoring sessions. The SCORE chapter also partners with many additional nonprofits in the area, for example, Bad Girl Ventures and Mortar which actively seek-out entrepreneurs to attend Launch! Programs to compete for capital funding. So getting involved with SCORE provides limitless possibilities for you as a small business owner to network, gain an abundance of amount of business knowledge, as well as, opportunities to compete for funds for your business start-up. There are SCORE chapters in both the greater Cincinnati area, as well as, Kentucky conveniently located to assist your business needs further.

So pencil it in on your calendar and come-out on Saturday, December 10th to the CMC Office Center in Blue Ash, OH from 8:30am – 12:15pm! Reservation is required due to limited space. Be sure and reserve your spot today!

Contributed by Cincinnati Score Mentor Luci Parmer, Ph.D. 

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How to Define Your Target Market

how-to-define-your

When you’re first new to marketing, it may be tempting to try to tell just about everybody about your products or services in an attempt to cover all your bases. However, this type of scattered approach is not only inefficient, but costly. It doesn’t target the ideal customer who would want the types of products and services you offer and can lead to a lot of extra effort with very poor returns. This can be a frustrating experience and an unnecessary waste of time and labor. In addition, if you’re outsourcing your marketing, you’ll want to really understand your target demographic in minute detail so that you don’t pay for marketing that is very unlikely to ever yield a sale. To run a successful marketing campaign, you must do some careful research and brainstorming into the demographics of your ideal customer base and target your advertising to them alone.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

Even if you are really brand new to your business, you can find this data from those people who will be your competitors, once you get your business online. You’ll want to brainstorm what your ideal customer profile might look like and find data from other sites or your own that lets you know if these are the people interested in your type of business. Here is the type of data that you’ll want to collect:

  • Gender – If you’re selling women’s apparel, there’s no point in targeting men. Some types of products and services can be limited by gender, but not all.
  • Age – Maybe you sell medical products for the elderly or toys for the youngster. Then, you’ll want to limit your campaigns to those ages that are most appropriate to your products and services.
  • Education Level – High information customers may want to order products and services to help elevate them at the top of their professional game.
  • Income – Even if you have products and services that can be sold to multiple income levels, you will want to use income information to help you segment your offerings. In this way, you can sell luxury items to high income buyers while closing lower income buyers with less costly offerings.
  • Ethnicity – Culture can determine buying habits, so it’s not unreasonable to track ethnicity, if it applies to your product and service offerings.
  • Platform – You’ll want to know if people are visiting your site via mobile devices, so that you can reach them with mobile-friendly sites. Those with smartphones and tablets also tell you that they are early adopters of new technology, thus they can be ideal for marketing new technical products or services.
  • Lifestyle – Household size, occupation, and other lifestyle choices can determine whether someone is open to buying in quantity or often.

Where Do Your Ideal Customers Congregate?

Other demographic data that is important to your market that can be obtained to help you design advertising campaigns include:

Location – Local businesses that can take advantage of walk-in traffic will want to know the location of their online visitors. Some countries have a higher rate of fraud than others, like Nigeria, and many online marketers exclude it in their campaigns. Other marketers want to only serve customers in their own country and that’s another way to limit the campaign. Location is becoming one of the most relevant demographics to track because Google places a high importance on content and websites that are optimized for local SEO, using hyperlocal keywords that sometimes are designed down to the neighborhood level. It’s also easier to attract those mobile customers through the physical door, if you know where the local traffic is apt to come from in the first place.

Advertising Channels – Online advertising channels can include social media, referral sites, directories, search engines, and other content sites. Facebook offers their own version of advertising that costs different than Google Adwords and follows a different scheme. Facebook has an older crowd, so even though you can limit the audience by other demographics using their advertising campaign features, you’ll still start out with an older crowd than those that visit Instagram. Check out your potential advertising channel’s demographics first before choosing your venue.

Size of Potential Market Audience – Within each venue, you’ll be able to target your ideal demographic, but the more you limit it the less people see your ads. Consider how big your potential market audience should be in order to get enough marketing leads and conversions to justify the cost of the campaign. For Google Adwords, you can do this based on traffic numbers and the size of your budget, only paying for clicks that lead to your products and services.

Market Segment – If you’re selling B2B, then LinkedIn is the best social network to use for advertising. However, you should also look at joint ventures and trade sites that get your campaigns in front of the right audience too. Reserve the social campaigns on Facebook or Instagram for direct consumer sales. Your market segment is going to also be important in figuring out what demographic is going to buy and where they are online.

Tools To Get The Raw Data

To get some of this information, you can look at your own or other people’s websites, using some tools:

Quantcast.com – One of the best tools online to see the demographics of your sites as well as others in your niche market is Quantcast.com. Plug in the url and if the site is Quantacized, you’ll get a good idea of gender as well as other age, ethnicity, and household income level.

Google Analytics – If you’re trying to generate information from your own site and it is not Quantacized, then you can get that information from Google Analytics. You’ll have to configure it to do reporting and collection of the data, but it can be a straightforward way to start grabbing demographic data from people who visit your site.

Your Website’s Panel – Reporting features in your website panel can tell you the number of visitors, what location that came from, and what platform they’re on. By knowing who is visiting from where and whether they’re on a mobile device or not, you can start getting valuable information that will save you money in your advertising campaigns.

Use Demographics to Design Targeted Campaigns

After you’ve collected and defined your demographics, how do you use that information to target your market? You can use it to create content that appeals to your specific demographic, for advertising, and for segmenting your audience to create higher conversion rates. The key is to serve up the right offer to the right audience, thus increasing the likelihood they’ll hit the buy button at some point. Read on to find out how to use your demographic data in these three key areas of marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Creation

You will not only optimize your content around keywords that your ideal demographic searches often, but you’ll also want to publish topics of interest to them on your blog. If you’re selling anti-aging cosmetics, then you might try to target older women more than men too. You might publish content on the science of different anti-aging ingredients and point out which products that you offer have said ingredients. You would embed keywords like “natural anti-oxidant anti-aging eye cosmetic” to drive traffic from search engines too.

  1. Advertising Campaigns

You will know how to pick the right advertising venue with demographic data that matches your chosen target demographic. You can either exclude bad demographics, like location mismatches, or include them based on who you want to target. This will match the traffic stream you get from advertising to the offerings you have on your site, making it more likely that they are viable marketing leads you’re paying for in your campaigns.

  1. Multiple Sales Funnels and Offers

Once that traffic arrives on your site, you can further segment offers by income level so that your high income visitors see luxury products and your low income visitors get a free introductory offer to get them on into your email list. You can also  use that demographic data in your email list a to create different sales funnels and provide just the right offerings to households with slightly different household budgets or needs, using multiple sales campaigns.

If you would like to request a free SCORE Mentor to assist you with identifying your target market request one here.

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Man writing his business plan

Comprehensive Business Plan Outline

Comprehensive Business Plan Outline

  • Your Company’s Name, Address, Phone, Fax, email, and web site address.
  • Owners or owners-to-be
  • Prepared by
  • List contact information for someone to answer questions about the plan.
  • Personalize where submitted to a prospective stakeholder.

I.  Non-Disclosure Agreement (where appropriate)

II.  Table of Contents

III.  Executive Summary

  • This is a one to three page highlight of the business concept • Demonstrate management expertise, and market potential
    • Provide sales and profit forecast and financing needed

IV.  Operations Plan

  • Business Concept
    • Type and size of business
    • History (if any)
    • The product/service and what makes it unique
    • General description of customers
    • Patents/Copyrights (if any)
  • Production/Service Plan (typical cycle in your business operations)
  • The Facility
  • Suppliers

V.  The Market

  • Market size-past and projected
    • Market trends-future
    • Products in the market
    • Market players
    • Market segments and growth potential
    • Market distribution methods
    • Competitive analysis

VI.  Market Strategy/Implementation

  • Target market by segment; identify your niche
    • Pricing strategy, such as lowest priced, value priced, or premium priced.

There are three Briefs on pricing; see 7.00 (Retail), 7.01 (Services), 7.02 (Manufacture) • Desired company image

  • Advertising and public relations
    • Methods of selling and servicing, distribution channels to be used • Warranty policies

VII.  Products/Services

  • Describe the product/service
    • What is its competitive advantage/disadvantage?
    • Identify the costs involved; set necessary margin amount • Explore future Products/Services

VIII.  Research & Development (where applicable)

IX.  Operations

  • Facilities requirements
    • Labor requirements
    • Production options
    • Capital needs, equipment list
    • Controls and other considerations

X.  Management

  • The Management Team
    • Legal structure of the business
    • Personnel hired, and expected to be hired • Business advisors

XI.  Goals and Milestones

  • A statement of business objectives
    • A listing of measurable near-term and long-term goals • Milestone dates.

XII.  Financial

  1. Current Conditions
  • Personal financial statement
  • Past tax reports
  • Historical financial statements of the business, where applicable (balance sheets, profit and loss and cash flow statements).
    1. Forecasts (three to five years) • Profit and loss statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Cash flow forecasts
  • Changes in Shareholders’ Equity
    1. Request for financing, sources and uses of funds

If you would like to request a free SCORE Mentor to assist you with developing a business plan request one here.

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Cincinnati Entrepreneurial Support

Small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth, and SCORE is America’s premier source of free, confidential business advice. In addition to the one-on-one mentoring and coaching the SCORE organization offers, and team/group counseling sessions for local entrepreneurs in the Tristate area, SCORE partners with numerous organizations in the community to provide additional resources which impact entrepreneurial growth.

Small Business

This blog will focus on three SCORE partners that help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. These additional resources include organizations, such as, (1) Bad Girl Ventures (2) Mortar, and (3) University of Cincinnati. First, the Bad Girls Ventures nonprofit organization supports female entrepreneurs in the area, by way of, providing business education services, office space and capital funding to launch their businesses through an intense nine-week Launch! Program. Second, Mortar is a local nonprofit organization with a premier nine-week entrepreneurship program that is designed to help low-income entrepreneurs with tools needed to grow their businesses successfully within the surrounding neighborhoods. Lastly, the University of Cincinnati (UC) has developed a StartupUC Incubator program where mentors assist UC students throughout the duration of an extensive entrepreneurial experiential-learning business program.

As an entrepreneur, partnering with these local resources, in addition to, taking advantage of SCORE services, gives clients immediate access to specialized mentoring and coaching from certified business professionals, opportunities to win capital funding to launch their businesses even further into the marketplace, and numerous additional support services, such as, office space, business education and training, and peer rapport building.

 

Contributed by Luci Parmer, Ph.D.

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