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Day 21. Sharing success.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to Day 21. Well done, that sets you apart from the majority.

What have you achieved?

As we complete the challenge it’s a great time to stop and reflect upon your achievements. The first one is getting to this stage! What would you describe as the your three greatest gains from the challenge? You may have learned something new. You may have developed some new habits. You may have a clear goal and a workable plan to achieve it. You may have found a new tool that has made life easier or more focused. Or your gains may be about the money you’ve made or the decisions you’ve taken, I would love it if you would share your achievements here or in the Facebook group but if you don’t want to go public then it would be great to get an email from you to glenda.shawley@thetrainingpack.co.uk

Celebrate your success

My mentee, Sarah Webb of justsayhi.co.uk has just won Best New Business  in the Hounslow Business Awards. I'm delighted to share her success and look forward to buying her a glass of bubbly.

My mentee, Sarah Webb of justsayhi.co.uk has just won Best New Business in the Hounslow Business Awards. I’m delighted to celebrate her success and look forward to buying her a glass of bubbly.

Success can be a great motivator. It puts a spring in our steps and a smile on our faces. It lifts the people around us, our family, friends, colleagues, customers, mentors, and suppliers. Who can you share your success with? Who will understand what it really means. I remember coming home one day thrilled to have won a big contract we were tendering for, my husband’s reaction was a somewhat unemotional, ‘Well done’ quickly followed by ‘how much money is it worth’ and then some minor domestic details. My bubble was burst! Yes my husband was pleased but he really didn’t understand what a big deal it was. My colleagues on the other hand shared my delight and the odd glass of something sparkling in celebration. They made all the effort really worthwhile.

Who are  you going to share your success with?  Who will understand what it has taken to get to this point? Who will be impressed? One of my goals for this challenge was to give you a means with which to generate your news story to get you some PR. (see Day 19), don’t miss out on the opportunity. Share your success with fellow challengers because if they’ve got to this stage they really know how much effort has gone in to your achievement.

ACTION: Celebrate your achievements. Don’t dwell on what is still a work in progress. When you have reached your financial target please send me an email and tell me how much you have raised. I won’t share your personal figure but add it to a running total made by all challengers and that will be my story!

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’m celebrating completing @Glenda_S 21 Day Make Money Challenge #21DMMC
  4. Stay focused on the goal and the vision and let us know when you reach your goal.
  5. If you would like to keep getting tips and ideas for growing business why not follow my blog ? There are new stories every Monday and Thursday.
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Day 20. Taking action.

These action takers don't let excuses get in their way.

These action takers don’t let excuses get in their way.

If you have kept up so far you should have a plan by now but a plan is of no use unless you take action so that’s our focus for today.

Take action now!

One of the major differences between achievers and everyone else is that achievers take action. They don’t wait for everything to be perfect. They don’t wait until everything is in place. They don’t wait until they have done just a bit more training. They dive in! The learn as they go. They bring in help for the things that they can’t do themselves. Are you an action taker?

By now you should have an idea, a budget, a project management plan and a promotional plan so you are ready to take action. If you have implemented some of the tips from Days 8 and 9 you will be using some tools to help your productivity and you should be ready to take action.

ACTION: If you haven’t done it already plan what you are going to achieve in each of your Power Hours for the next week. Make your targets visible. Pin them on the fridge, make simpleology.com your home page, stick a post it on your computer!

Commit.

I don’t know about you but I break more promises to myself than anyone else. That’s why we need to make a commitment. I’ve published all these challenges because I made a commitment to you to post one a day for 21 days, I’ll let you into a secret, they weren’t all ready on day one, the plan was but there have been times when I’ve only been one step ahead of you! Going public with a promise will keep you on track. Selling tickets to an event or places on a course will make it happen.   So what are you going to go public with? Where are you going to go public? How about here in the comments section? What about making the commitment on our Facebook page or on Twitter?

Why not find yourself an accountability partner? Someone who will hold you to your commitments. Someone who will be tough enough with you when you wobble. You could use a friend or fellow business owner or you could get yourself a mentor. Whoever you choose be very clear about what you want to be held accountable for. Agree your objectives and your measures. What will happen if you don’t make your commitment?

Don’t give up now! Make a public commitment to what you are going to achieve and then take the first step. Good luck.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’m taking action to make money on #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow to when for the final day of the challenge.

Day 18. Using off line marketing.

If you listened to some experts you might believe that the only place to be is online but this isn’t true. Yes there are opportunities to make money online but it can be easier to cut through the noise when we do what others are not doing so today’s challenge is going to consider some offline marketing activities and tactics.

Build a database

Every marketing expert will tell you that you need to build a database of prospects and customers and who am I to disagree? There are a number of different ways to do this but you need to make sure that you operate within the data protection legislation in your own country, typically this means making sure that you have the recipients permission to contact them.

I think people are becoming more reticent about handing over their details because we are all struggling with the amount of information we are bombarded with. We therefore need to make sure that we offer something of real value in return for someone’s contact details and that we keep offering them value to retain their interest. It’s probably easiest to collect names and email addresses in return for an interesting e-book or a valuable report but then the only means we have of staying in touch is by email. It is very easy for someone to unsubscribe once they’ve taken advantage of your free offer.

A direct mail letter may get more attention than an email.

A direct mail letter may get more attention than an email.

What we really need is someone’s mailing address. One way to get this is to follow up your free online product with an offer of a sample or a physical product, for example a CD or DVD or a book (but remember that you’ll have to pay postage so the lighter the better). Another option is to rent a mailing list. Check that the company you are using is reputable and that they collect data legally. Typically mailing lists are compiled from membership lists, magazine subscriptions, company information etc. so it should be quite easy to be very specific about the kind of contacts you want. For example you should be able to refine a request by, for example, location, job title, type and size of company or interests of an individual. So if you are very clear about your target market you should be able to purchase a mailing list of people who fit your specification. Think carefully about what data you would like to pay for. Given that it typically takes eight or more approaches to turn a prospect into a customer it can be a good idea to purchase a name and mailing address together with email and phone number so that you can vary the methods by which you follow up your approach.

A word of warning, a mailing list does not belong to you so you can’t add the names to your database unless you get a response from a name on the list and then you can add that person to your database. Mailing lists are typically sold for single or multiple use. If you buy for single use you can only mail that list once, it will be seeded with names to catch you out if you use it more often. A multiple use list will usually specify how many times you can use it over what period. I recommend buying a list for multiple use as you will rarely make a sale on your first contact.

Another way to build your list is to run a competition in which entries have to be accompanied by the data you want to collect. Do be careful to check that you are operating your competition legally. If you decide to sponsor a competition in a newspaper or magazine make sure that your agreement with the publication allows you to collect entrants’ contact details otherwise you may find that the data belongs to them.

ACTION: Decide on at least one action you will take to build your mailing list.

Crafting your message

Whether you are going to send direct mail letters to named individuals, brochures, fliers, postcards or any other print material there are a few things that you will need to consider when producing your material:

  1. Focus on your prospect and their needs, If you really understand your target market you will be able to ‘speak their language’.
  2. Use your headline to gain your prospect’s attention. A question will make them think. A question that helps them ‘feel the pain’ is even better.

    This postcard has worked well for one of my clients.

    This postcard has worked well for one of my clients.

  3. Rub a bit of salt in the wound so that your prospect is really intrigued by how you can help them.
  4. Show how your solution will help them.
  5. Make sure your copy is benefit rich. Too many people focus on features not benefits. Turn your features into benefits: ‘We offer one hour delivery slots’ (feature) ‘so you don’t have to stay in all day waiting for us’ (benefit); ‘our trousers are teflon coated’ (feature) ‘so you don’t have to iron them’ (benefit). Make sure that the benefits you describe are the ones that are most important to your target audience.
  6. Use testimonials and guarantees to make a purchase less risky.
  7. Make sure you have a strong call to action preferably appearing at several points throughout your communication. Use action verbs: Call, visit, ring etc.
  8. Consider offering a time limited incentive to take action now. Make this really clear.
  9. Check that you use ‘you’ much more frequently than ‘we’. Customers are not interested in your history but in what you can do for them.
  10. Resist the temptation to put your business name at the top of the page, a prospect isn’t interested in who you are until they are interested in what you can do for them.
  11. If you are writing a letter use a P.S. to encourage your reader to take action now. The PS might be the only thing they read unless you can make them realise that they could be missing out if they don’t read the whole letter.
  12. Long copy outperforms short in most tests. In other words longer letters allow you to work on your prospect’s emotions and make them want to take the action you want them to take. Remember people buy with their emotions far more frequently than they buy with logic.
  13. Consider using photographs to grab attention and to appeal to your target. If you can find a photo to increase emotional connection so much the better. Take a lesson from charities who show the suffering that they are trying to relieve in order to persuade their targets to support them.

ACTION: Draft one letter, brochure or flier and test it on a small sample of your target market, if it works send it to more people, if it doesn’t change one thing and test again.

Networking

I can’t write a challenge about off line marketing without mentioning networking. There are plenty of people who will tell you that it doesn’t work but I’m not one of them. I believe that networking with your target market will work but it may take time. Networking is about building relationships so never go for the hard sell and be as generous as you can. This post is long enough without me writing reams on successful networking so I’m just going to direct you to some articles on my regular blog:

http://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/a-networking-conundrum/

http://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/if-networking-doesnt-work-its-your-own-fault/

http://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/how-to-make-networking-work-for-you/

http://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/12-top-tips-for-networking-success/

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’m busy developing marketing ideas on @Glenda_S 21 day make money challenge #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow to when we’ll be working out how to generate PR.

Day 15. Developing your promotional plan.

Welcome to the third and final week of the challenge. By now you should have a plan and a budget and be ready to start selling. We’re going to spend the next five days looking at how you are going to find and win customers for your money making project.Today we’re going to start thinking about your promotional plan, you’ll probably want to add to this as we cover different marketing activities in the following days.

First things first.

There are a number of things we need to think about before you can develop your promotional plan. On Day 3 you identified your target market, how specific were you? Did you really drill down until you had a narrow but deep niche of potential customers? If not I suggest that you take another look. The more precise you can be the better. When you know exactly who your target customer is it is easier to find them and speak their language. Try and build a picture of your target in your mind’s eye, give her a name and a personality, then you’ll be able to have a conversation with her when you start promoting your offer.

On Day 5 you researched your competition. What did that tell you about where your offer is different? How is your offer better than your prospect’s? Why should customers buy from you in preference to your competitors? You need to understand this in order to communicate it to your prospects in a persuasive manner. Some people refer to this as your USP or Unique Selling Proposition, others as your points of difference.

What problems are you solving for your prospects? How do those problems make them feel? What would life be like for them if their problem was solved? These are the messages your prospects need to hear. This is what you should be promoting.

N.B. If you are doing this challenge to make money for a good cause you will need to find an emotional reason for your prospects to connect with that good cause. You might have to make them feel guilty, sympathetic or sad.

Remember people buy more with their emotions than with their reason!

ACTION: Be specific about your target market and the problems that you will be solving for them and identify how your solution differs from your competitors. Write this down.

Developing your promotional plan

Nobody can buy a product or service that they’ve never heard of so your promotional plan needs to be focused on raising awareness and desire in your target audience and then getting them to take action and buy.

Here’s a template for you to use to scope out your promotional plan. Be clear about which target market you want to sell to, if you have more than one you may wish to focus on different groups in different months. Set your self a clear objective for what you want to achieve each month. Your objectives might include:

  • a sales target
  • number of signups to your mailing list
  • number of downloads on a free product given in exchange for names and contact details
  • number of enquiries
  • number of hits on website
  • number of people booking a trial session

As you will see all of the objectives should be very specific and measurable, they should also be achievable and have a deadline. So set yourself a specific objective for each month. You might find this example helpful.

ACTION: Complete at least the first two columns on the marketing plan template. You might also like to start thinking about activities that you could do in the remaining columns but I’ll have more ideas for those in coming days.

A quick lesson in marketing.

 

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’ve started work on my marketing plan with @Glenda_S #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow to when we’ll be thinking about blogging..

Day 14. Planning your cashflow.

We’ve worked out our budgets and considered where the start up money will come from so now we just need to make sure we have cash available when we need it. More businesses fail because they run out of cash than fail because they are unprofitable. Profits are important but you need cash to keep your money making venture afloat.

Completing your cashflow forecast

Download your cashflow template and get planning.

Download your cashflow template and get planning.

Predicting your cashflow is not an exact science, whilst there are some entirely predictable incomings and outgoings others are less easy to forecast. One of the things that I’ve found in 21 years in business is that money goes out sooner than we would like and comes in later than we wanted. The challenge is managing the bit in the middle! Today I want you to have your best shot at predicting what your cashflow will be for your money making venture. Click here to download a template to help.

Completing your forecast:

  • start by changing the dates to reflect the period you are covering including the months at the top of each column
  • next fill in your known, fixed expenditure e.g. if you pay a fixed amount for electricity each month put that amount in to the relevant boxes
  • now take a look at your project plan and your budget and enter your budgeted figures for marketing etc. in the months you expect to spend the money
  • if you need to buy raw materials, how much will you need to buy and when? Remember this expense may be spread over several months as and when you need more supplies
  • now calculate when you can expect to receive the income from sales and in what amounts. How long is the gap from buying raw materials to receiving payment for finished goods? Be realistic. If you buy your raw materials in month 1, make them into product in month 2, even if you sell direct you may not receive payment until month 3 and then you probably won’t sell all that you have produced in the first month. It may therefore take you four to six months to cover your investment in raw materials. This can be even longer if you are selling via a third party, especially large companies who are notorious for having 60 or even 90 day terms to payment of invoices.
  • check that you have forecast your income and expenditure in all areas

If you are using the template without adding any rows or columns your totals should calculate automatically, are there any minus figures? These are the months when you run out of cash.

Dealing with a cash shortfall

If you are going to run out of cash there are a number of options for you to consider:

  • be less ambitious with your sales targets in the early stages so you can reduce your raw materials costs and, possibly, your labour costs
  • go for slower growth
  • increase your prices
  • offer customers an early payment discount
  • take a bigger deposit
  • invest more money in the beginning
  • ask your bank for an overdraft
  • review other expenses and either cut them down or delay them until you have the money
  • negotiate a trade account with your suppliers to give you longer to pay for your raw materials
  • if you are selling to large companies who are slow paying you could consider factoring where you sell the invoice to a factor company. Typically you will receive payment for around 80% of the invoice amount with the factoring company retaining the other 20% when your customer eventually pays the bill.

The one thing you must not do is bury your head in the sand! If you run out of money you may be trading illegally and you will certainly spend your time fending off creditors. Your bank is less likely to help you if they think you are not on top of your finances but they may well be helpful if you go to them with a well organised cashflow forecast when you ask for an overdraft or loan.

ACTION: Complete your cashflow forecast and amend your plans if you have a problem with a lack of cash.

RECOMMENDATION: The Training Pack uses www.kashflow.com to manage it’s finances. This is a user friendly book keeping and accounting package designed for use by the small business owner with no accountancy training but also accountant friendly. It is a cloud based package so accessible any time any where. If you would like to try it you can sign up here. You will save £1 per month and I will make a little bit of money too! I am not an affiliate for many products but this is one I am very happy to recommend, it makes managing my numbers so easy.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’m working on my cashflow forecast as part of @Glenda_S’s money making challenge. #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow to when we’ll be starting work on our marketing plan.

Day 11. Getting help.

If you have completed yesterday’s challenge you will now have your project plan so today we’re going to consider where you might need to get help and how to get it.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses, the things we do really well and the things that are best left to others. How much time do you spend doing tasks that someone else could do better and more quickly? Ask yourself, is doing this task the best use of my time? If you can sell your time at £50 per hour why are you doing a task you could delegate to someone who charges £25 per hour?

Do you ever find yourself saying, ‘By the time I’ve explained what I want to someone else I could have done it myself’? Do you think Richard Branson does everything himself? No, of course not, he knows his strengths and his weaknesses and has built a team to work alongside those. He appreciates the value of delegation and knows how to do it. I know that, for many small business owners, the costs of employing other people to do things for you may seem prohibitive but we’re going to look at ways of making it affordable in today’s challenge.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

My profile proves how right brain dominant I am. Focus is something I have to work hard to achieve!

My profile proves how right brain dominant I am. Focus is something I have to work hard to achieve!

 

Do you show a preference for left brained or right brained traits? If you’re left brained you are more task focused, you may be analytical, results driven and detail conscious. If you are right brained you will be more concerned with people, building relationships and may be more creative.

Of course we’re all a bit of both although one side is likely to be more dominant than the other. If your dominant side is right brained then you may need help getting things done and if you are left brain dominant you may need some help to generate ideas.

When we’re looking for help it is tempting to go for people like ourselves but this is often a mistake, two right brained people will probably have a lot of fun but struggle to get things done whereas two left brained people will have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed but may not be able to find creative solutions to problems. Which are you?

ACTION: Use the SWOT analysis tool from Day 7 to analyse your own strengths and weaknesses; be honest!

If you would like a more objective view of your strengths and weaknesses I am offering 20% off Prism Brain Mapping profiling for the duration of this challenge. You complete a questionnaire and then receive a report detailing your strengths and weaknesses which I will go through with you by telephone or, if you are close enough, in person. Click here for more information.

Work to your strengths and delegate the rest

 

Take a look at the project management plan you completed yesterday. Which of the tasks on the list are ones that you are good at and should be done by you? Which will take you a long time and cause you anxiety? What skills, qualities or experience will someone need in order to those tasks well and speedily? Develop those into a job description or project brief which you can then use to recruit the help you need. You can then get on with making money at what you do best.

Finding help

Do you have other members of your team whose skills are better suited to those tasks? Do they have capacity in their working day to take on these new tasks or is there something you can do to rejig workloads?

If you don’t have anyone on your team is there someone in your network with the right skills and experience whom you could pay as a freelancer? If paying for help is not an option is there something you could trade in return for the help you need? For example a beauty therapist might be able to trade a treatment in return for some copywriting; a virtual assistant might be able to offer some admin support in return for a wardrobe makeover.

How about turning your problem into an opportunity for someone else? For example many graduates are looking for work experience to help them get a better job. Could you offer an internship or  work experience to help them and help yourself (whilst graduates are sometimes willing to work in the right job for no money they do have to live so try to pay them a minimum wage or at least their expenses). N.B. Employment law varies from country to country so make sure you know what you are allowed to do in your country.

Could you offer an Apprenticeship to a young person looking for training and qualifications to improve their career prospects? In the UK there is some government help to support employers taking on an apprentice (the Mayor for London is topping up that help for a limited number of London employers to encourage them to take apprentices.) Apprentices have to be paid and receive training but this is still less expensive than taking on a more experienced person and allows you to do something to help young people and your business.

Do you need the sort of help that can be done from anywhere? If so why not post your job on the internet and invite bids from people who would like the work? Websites such as http://www.peopleperhour.com/ can connect you with people who are willing to work at very affordable rates. Other options are http://www.guru.com/ and https://www.elance.com which allow you to post your job opportunities which freelancers can then pitch for. To find more just Google ‘posting freelance opportunities’.

ACTION: Decide which tasks to delegate and give yourself time to recruit the appropriate help in line with your project plan.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Share any insights or recommendations in the comments section here.
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.)
  3. Tweet this ‘I’m working on Day 11 of @Glenda_S 21 Day Make money Challenge #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow to when we’ll be putting together our budgets.

Day 6. Will you be able to make a profit?

So here we are at Day 6, hopefully with some potential money making ideas taking shape and an understanding of the competition that  you face. Over the next couple of days we’re going to start evaluating your ideas to see which has the best chance of success. Today we’re going to look at the numbers.

What are your costs?

Will you sell all your products or do you need to allow for some wastage?

Will you sell all your products or do you need to allow for some wastage?

Most ideas need some form of investment at least in time if not in money.

ACTION: Make a list of all the things that you are going to need to invest in and how much they will cost, be consistent about the way you deal with tax, either include it in all calculations or in none.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Raw materials: what will you need? How much will it cost? How long will it last? (Are there minimum order quantities and do these work for you?) What will the wastage be? Can you put the waste to other uses? Is there any resale value in unused raw materials? Try to work out a cost per unit.
  • Premises: are you going to need to rent premises? How much will it cost you? Don’t forget that you may have to pay for set up and take down time? Do the charges include gas, electric, cleaning and any other premises costs, if not how much do you estimate these will be?
  • Staffing: nobody wants to work for nothing so don’t forget to include your time calculations plus any staffing costs for your helpers. Be realistic about how long it will take you and set yourself a reasonable hourly rate. If the amount you can charge won’t cover your staffing costs the idea isn’t viable! All too often I see small business owners not paying themselves enough money. Get this calculation right from the outset even if you don’t actually draw the money until you are consistently making your targets.
  • Packaging & distribution: if these costs are relevant to your idea calculate these too.
  • Insurance: will you need any extra insurance cover and, if so, how much will it cost you?
  • Equipment: if you don’t already have the equipment you need is it something you can borrow or hire? What will those costs be? If you need to buy equipment, how much will it cost? How long will it last? Will you be able to use it for any other purpose or do you have to cover all the costs with the idea you are currently working on?

How much can you charge?

I suggest you try out a number of different figures to ensure financial viability. So think about the figure you would really like to charge, think about the average price your competitors charge and think about your absolute lowest ‘sale’ figure which we hope you would only use to clear places or stock.

Work out your break even point

Add up all your fixed costs (costs which don’t change whether or not you sell anything) things like rent, salaries, insurance, loan repayments etc. It’s probably best to work these out for a week or a month but you could choose a different period.

Now work out your variable costs, those that are directly related to generating sales and fluctuate accordingly. Work these out on an individual item basis.

Once you’ve got all these figures we can work out how many items/tickets etc. you will need to sell to cover your costs and break even. Here’s an example, we’re selling widgets:

Fixed costs for one month:

Salary                          £1400

Rent                            £   700

Insurance                 £      50

Loan repayments  £   100

Total                           £2250

Costs per widget

Raw materials         £   25

Packaging                 £      1

Delivery                     £      5

Total                          £     31

Research tells us that we can sell our widgets for £60 so to work out how many we need to sell to break even:

£60 (Selling price) – £31 (Direct costs per widget) = £29

The difference between the selling price and costs is known as the contribution to your fixed costs. So if we divide £2250 (our monthly fixed costs) by £29 (contribution) we can see that we will need to sell 78 widgets (77.59 rounded up) to ‘break even’, once we sell 79 we will be in profit, just!

So let’s see what happens if we could sell our widgets at £70, our direct costs would still be £31. £70-£31 =£39. £2250 divided by £39 = 57.69 so we will need to sell 58 widgets to ‘break even’

However if we have to reduce prices to £50 we have to sell many more. £50-£31= £19. £2250 divided by £19 = 118.42 so we will need to sell 119 widgets to break even.  That’s a 50% increase in the sales needed just by reducing our price by 16.66%.

ACTION: Work out your break even point at the three different price points we discussed earlier.

Some things to think about when testing the viability of your idea

  • How many items, tickets or how much time will you need to sell to reach break even?
  • How much repeat business are you likely to get?
  • How many new customers will you need to find to maintain sales? (I was recently working on targets with a client, we decided she needed 6 clients per week which seemed very achievable but when we worked out that, on average, her clients book two appointments it meant that she would need to find 138 customers a year to reach her target which seemed a bit more daunting.
  • How long do you expect to maintain sales for and will this be long enough to cover all your investments, particularly equipment?

ACTION: Do these calculations for the top two or three of your ideas to see which is most viable. If none of them work then I’m afraid it is back to the drawing board 😦

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. If you need help with today’s task do email me.
  2. Share any insights in the comments section here.
  3. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.
  4. Tweet this I’m working out whether my idea is viable on @Glenda_S 21 Day Make Money Challenge #21DMMC
  5. Join us tomorrow to when we’ll consider some other evaluation tools.

Day 5. What about the competition?

Welcome back! Hopefully you now have some ideas simmering and are getting closer to finding a way to make money. So today I want you to start investigating the competition.

Competition is a good thing. Competition means that people want what you have to sell. A lack of competition indicates that there is no market. I believe we can learn from our competitors and even do business with them. In the 21 years I have been in business my most lucrative contracts have come by working collaboratively with my competitors.

What form does your competition take?

The obvious form of competition is from your direct competitors, people offering a very similar service to yours. Of course these people can be a threat but they can also be really helpful to our businesses. Have you noticed how restaurants in proximity to other restaurants usually do much better than those that are isolated? The more you understand about your direct competitors the better.

  • Exactly what do they offer?
  • What do they charge?
  • How do they trade?
  • What are their operating hours?
  • Who are their customers?
  • What do they do well?
  • What do they not do so well?
  • How busy are they?
  • What marketing do they do?
  • Are there gaps in their service provision that you could fill?

Most businesses also have indirect competitors, in other words another business competing for your customer’s pound or dollar but in a different way. For example, you might take your hostess a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, some handmade toiletries or something else. Your customers have a budget and can only spend it once, what options do they consider? Understanding how your prospects think about what they will buy will help you to identify your indirect competitors. When you know that you can go through the questions above to understand where you can compete.

Be inspired by your competitors

CompetitionStrong competition will keep you on your toes. It will encourage you to look for new ideas, to challenge yourself and your colleagues to even better customer service and to find your point of difference. Take an in depth look at your immediate competition. Look at what they do well and where there is scope for you to compete.

ACTION: Draw up a table to record your findings.

You probably know who your local competitors are but if not talk to potential customers about where they currently go to meet their needs. Take a walk around your neigbourhood with your eyes wide open. Look in local business directories or talk to your Chamber of Commerce or local authority. It might even be worth trying out their services.

For competition further afield do an internet search, visit their websites, track them on social media, look at review sites such as Trip Adviser if appropriate. Read their blogs, watch their You Tube videos. These will usually give you an insight into the personality and interests of your competitors which might help you find your point of difference.

Read your trade press, some of your brightest competitors are probably using PR to build their businesses so may well be featured in articles. What can you learn?

Don’t be intimidated!

I go back to my first point, competition is a good thing, don’t be put off by it unless your market is already saturated and you are only offering a ‘me too’ service. Use your understanding of your competitors and your understanding of your own unique personality to craft an offering that is right for your target market. One that will appeal, that will have a character of its own and one that you will be proud to be associated with. I look forward to reading about how your offer is different.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. When you have completed today’s task  why not tell us how your offer will be different to your competitors?
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge) but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.
  3. Tweet this Today I’m working on understanding my competitors on Day 5 of @Glenda_S 21 day challenge, #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow when we’ll be starting to look at tools to evaluate our ideas.

Day 4. How will you make your money?

Hello again.

As we discussed yesterday the best way to make money is to find a target market with a problem that you could solve at a profit. If you struggled with that exercise then today’s activity might help you to identify other ways in which you could make money.

Ideas for businesses

If you are already in business then your best source for making more money is your existing customers. These are the people who already know, like and trust you.

  • Ask these people what else you could do to help them.
  • Review your existing customer’s purchase history & offer them a product/service that they haven’t bought before, perhaps as a special deal with something they buy regularly
  • Remind customers that it’s probably time to buy again. For example we have a water filter that needs changing every six months or so, if the supplier reminded us it was time for a new one we would probably buy from them rather than going back to Google!
  • Offer your existing customers a reward for introducing new customers when those people buy from you
  • Put your prices up!
  • Run an exclusive ‘customer and their friends’ event. Make it a party but use the opportunity to sell.
  • Consider joining an affiliate scheme to sell other people’s products which would appeal to your existing customers.
  • Introduce a new product or service based on your understanding of your current customers’ needs.
  • If you run a delivery scheme could you charge another business a service fee for delivering a product on their behalf? For example a greengrocer could deliver bread or flowers.

Bring in new customers

  • Every business needs new customers, do you have a regular marketing campaign to enable more people to hear about what you do? (We’ll be developing a marketing plan later in the challenge)
  • Use your shop window or exhibitions etc. to showcase your offer in a way to appeal to new customers

Explore new routes to market

  • Take your business out into new spaces. For example, Simon Osborne of Poisson fishmongers in Ealing is getting great results from a stall in Brentford market.
  • Look out for pop up shop opportunities, for example Barclay’s Bank in Hounslow is offering opportunities for businesses to display their wares in their banking halls
  • Should you have an Amazon or Ebay shop?
  • Are you selling online either through your own website or via Facebook. Facebook seems to work particularly well for craft type businesses.
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate with other businesses

Getting new ideas

  • Read relevant trade press, visit exhibitions and trade shows to make sure you are aware of new developments and opportunities in your industry (more about that tomorrow)
  • Keep your eyes and ears open, it’s surprising how easy it is to pick up new ideas by seeing what other people are doing or hearing people discussing their problems, likes and dislikes. (You might find this article useful http://thetrainingpack.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/are-you-an-entrepreneur/)
  • Do a customer survey
  • Borrow ideas you see on your travels especially when you are in a different environment
  • Watch some of the business TV shows such as Dragon’s Den or the Apprentice
  • Try some creative thinking techniques. Read the works of Edward de Bono or search ‘Creative thinking techniques’ on the internet.
Stimulate your creative thinking by coming up with a list of different uses for this plastic bottle. Try doing the exercise with other people to get even more ideas. I challenge you to get 50!

Stimulate your creative thinking by coming up with a list of different uses for this plastic bottle. Try doing the exercise with other people to get even more ideas. I challenge you to get 50!

Ideas for new businesses  

  • Do you have a skill or a hobby that you could make money from?
  • What problems frustrate you? Do other people have the same problems? Can you find a solution that other people would pay for?
  • What are other business owners struggling with? Could you offer a product or service to help them?  (Book keeping, marketing, administration, deliveries, customer research are just a few ideas)
  • What new technologies are in development? Do these offer you an opportunity (think iPhone/iPad apps etc.)
  • Are there any infrastructure developments where you live that you could take advantage of?
  • What government initiatives could you exploit? (energy efficiency, recycling, employment support immediately come to mind)

Ideas for all

  • Have a clear out! Have a sale or sell on Ebay
  • Re-package your products and run a limited time offer on your existing range
  • Christmas is coming, how about putting together some gift packages, maybe in collaboration with other traders.
  • Sell your time by offering a service other people need: cleaning, ironing, gardening, baby-sitting, shopping etc. (This doesn’t have to be a long term option but can be a way of making cash whilst you get your big idea off the ground. A friend of mine did early morning cleaning when she was setting up her marketing business, it gave her immediate cash without encroaching on the time she needed to be available for her clients. Just make sure that you comply with relevant legislation)
  • Do you have a skill that can make you money? Have you noticed how many cooks are turning their hands to running supper clubs?
  • Write a blog, build your audience and then use it to generate an income from advertising. This is not easy but is working very well for some people.

ACTION: Read this article and then take some time out to let the ideas form. Go for a walk, do some gardening, go to the gym or just sit. Switch off interruptions. Put up the ‘Do not disturb sign’. Tell other people to go away! Just give yourself some thinking time. Write down your ideas today but don’t evaluate them, we’ll do that on Day 7 when your ideas have had time to develop.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. Why not use the Facebook group or the comments section to share your ideas and seek input from other challengers.
  2. Click to Tweet this I’m busy generating money making ideas on @Glenda_S Training Pack’s 21 Day Make Money Challenge #21DMMC 
  3. Join us tomorrow when we’ll be understanding our competition.

Day 3. Who will you be selling to?

If we are going to make money we are going to need people who are willing to buy from us so, before we can decide what to sell, we need to understand our target market and what their needs are. Ideally this challenge is about making money by doing something different to your normal business. It might be by reaching out to a new target market. It might be by selling a different product or service. It might be by leveraging your time and skills in a different way. It might be by doing something completely different.

Too often people start with a product or service that they want to sell rather than a problem that people want solving. You may be familiar with this song from the musical Oliver, it demonstrates the classic mistake.

Who will buy?

Ideally your target market will be one you know something about, perhaps one you fit into yourself. If you are a parent of a pre-schooler you will understand some of the challenges that other parents of young children have, you will also have connections with some of your prospects which will make it easier to test out your idea.

If you own a small business you will understand some of the issues other business owners face and you’ll probably have prospects in your network. If you are having problems supporting aged parents then there are probably others with the same problems so if you can find a solution others might be willing to pay for it. You get the idea.

ACTION: Decide what market you want to sell to.

Understanding your target.

So now you know what your market is you need to develop as much understanding of that market as you can. Here are some questions to help:

  • Are they male or female?
  • What age are they?
  • What is their marital status?
  • How many children do they have? What age are they?
  • Where do they live? Are they home owners or renters?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • Where do they work and how do they get there?
  • What do they do in their leisure time?
  • What do they read? Do they read in print or digitally?
  • What problems keep them awake at night? Can you solve those problems at an affordable price?

And if you are selling to a business audience here are a few more questions to consider:

  • What does the business do?
  • How long have they been trading?
  • Who are their customers?
  • What route(s) to market do they use?
  • How do they find new customers?
  • What networks do they belong to?
  • How do they source supplies?
  • What problems keep them awake at night? Think staff, customers, profit, production, marketing, finance etc. I’m sure you’ll find at least one thing!

ACTION: Decide what problem you can solve profitably and describe your target for that solution in detail using the questions above and any others that will help you build a clear picture.

Next steps, should you choose to take them…

  1. When you have completed today’s task  why not share your targets here?
  2. Join the conversation on Facebook to gain support from the 21 Day Challenge community (we’ll be looking at some of the benefits of social media later in the challenge) but for now being active on this page and on Facebook can help boost the way people can find you on the Internet.
  3. Tweet this I’m working on developing my understanding of my target market on the 21 Day Make Money Challenge. #21DMMC
  4. Join us tomorrow when we’ll be generating some money raising ideas.