My next self-funded business hit $160,000 in revenue in its first year alone. After that first taste of self-made success, I’ve gone on to sign consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars with startups like LinkedIn and Google, launch profitable online courses, and build a following of hundreds of thousands for this blog and my podcast series.
Conducting thorough market research on your field and demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups and researching SEO and public data. A guide to conducting market research can be found on our sister site, Business.com. It's also a good idea to consider an exit strategy as you compile your business plan. Generating some of idea of how you'll eventually exit the business forces you to look to the future.
Start researching your potential rivals or partners within the market by using this guide. It breaks down the objectives you need to complete with your research and the methods you can use to do just that. For example, you can conduct interviews by telephone or face to face. You can also offer surveys or questionnaires that ask questions like “What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?” and “What areas would you suggest for improvement?”
Now, it’s time to plan out your show. If you’re doing an interview-style show, you’ll now want to start getting some guests involved. You can use your existing social network to reach out to people you already know or are connected with on Twitter or Facebook. You can also head to Medium or Amazon to find authors or experts on topics specific to your niche.
But, if you do need to expand your one-page business plan into a more full-fledged plan that includes more details on your company and your target market, you can follow our step-by-step guide for writing a detailed business plan, download our free business plan template, or review any of our more than 500 complete sample business plans. These resources are all free, and if you have questions, please reach out on Twitter @Bplans.
If you love leaving customer reviews on sites like Amazon, it may be beneficial to look into affiliate marketing as a source of income. Word-of-mouth advertising is still a huge lead generator for many companies, and a lot of businesses are willing to share a portion of their profits with persuasive individuals who will promote their products to the public.
By building an extensive following, this will allow you to gain profit by attracting key advertisers or get commissions by promoting other brand products (think affiliate). Blogging is big business; just ask Heather from Dooce.com. She’s a mom that blogs daily about her children and pets and has successfully turned her daily adventures into a very lucrative business by simply making money blogging. One of my favourite ways to make money from a blog is by creating your own online course.
Write pitches. If you have located a client for whom you want to write, send pitches, which are topic ideas for articles. Write pitches that not only show your expertise, but also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the topic. First, read the publication to which you are sending pitches to familiarize yourself with what they publish. If applicable, identify a specific section and send our pitch to the appropriate editor. Also, include a brief summary of who you are.
If you're thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don't (or deliver the same thing, but faster and cheaper), you've got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.
Provide numbers for revenue and expenses. To calculate revenue, base a sales forecast on pricing of your product or service and how many customers you plan to serve. Estimate sales over the next 3-5 years. You may need to make an educated guess on this section, as it might be difficult to absolutely say for sure how many units you’ll sell or how many people you’ll serve. It’s best to be somewhat conservative at this point. Expenses will include fixed costs (such as salaries, rent, etc.) and variable costs (such as promotions or advertising). Think about costs to launch the business, operate the business, hire and retain staff, pay advertising, and so on. Also include expenses like fees, licenses, and taxes. Consider too assets and liabilities that you have; assets can include property or equipment, while liabilities might be loans you owe for this business.
If managing a blog seems a bit overwhelming but you still desire to indulge your writing passion, you can write for other sites or blogs like PayPerPost, Textbroker, or Helium. Also, writing an interesting e-book may also be an option for you as well. E-books do not have any printing or shipping fees, which makes them a viable investment. If you’re someone who possesses strong language skills, you could potentially become an expert copy editor that webmasters will gladly pay to read and edit articles and also correct any overlooked grammatical errors concerning web copy.
So, where are we supposed to turn to make money the legitimate way online? This isn't just about generating passive income; this is also about finding ways and means to create an active income through the conveniences afforded to us by the internet that will not only help us with our debt obligations, but also empower us to save, invest and get really rich in the future.