How to Achieve E-commerce Success ?You Gotta Plan!

Before becoming a netpreneaur, I was an entrepreneur. First, I owned a successful child care center which grew to capacity in less than two years. When I sold that, I bought a little flower shop that had less than 300 customers and grew it to what it is today, one of the most successful, award winning companies in South Florida with more than 7,000 customers who purchase from us on a regular business. To better serve our customers, we took our business to the Internet. We still have a brick and mortar storefront, yet everyday we receive more and more customers via the Internet.

How about you? Do you or did you have a traditional business or professional practice? Is it successful? Unless you were born under the star called "LUCKY," you probably did lots of planning. A business plan, a marketing plan, maybe even a succession plan for what to do with your business when you were through.

You may have heard the statistics that half of all small businesses fail in their first year and of those, only 25% make it through to five years. According to youngbiz.com it can be even less for e-businesses.

Build it and they will come! Not! You can have a terrific site, with lots of bells and whistles and if people don't know you exist, you never get any visitors, let alone customers.

Planning is the key to success in business. Amazon.com had a plan, Bill Gates had a plan, eDiets had a plan, and I'll bet they still do. Once a business launches on the net, you will need a marketing plan to be successful. Your biggest challenge will be to find time to plan. However, if you don't find time now, you will find yourself with plenty of it (time, that is) later on, and no business to speak of.

Unlike a business, generally created to get financial backing from investors, Netpreneurs create marketing plans for themselves. Where do you start? First you have to ask yourself these questions. Where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? How many customers do you want or better yet, how much money do you want to make? Who are your customers? Do you know what they want, need and expect? Can you give it to them? What are your competitors doing? What are you doing that is different? How will you promote your business?

Now Create your Website marketing plan.

Put it in writing! Not only do you have to plan, you have to write it down! Take a notebook or idea book and write the following: your vision, mission strategies, goals and the time frame you wish to accomplish these goals. Keep this notebook next to your computer to refer to. It will help you stay focused.

What is your vision for your business? Your vision is what you want your web site to accomplish. Write your vision statement in your notebook. The vision statement for my flower shop is to "Make a reasonable profit via the Internet by providing a quality product, delivering exceptional service, at a price my customers will pay."

What are your goals? What do you believe you can accomplish that may be a bit of a stretch but doable? If the goals are too easy, you are not getting the most out of your planning process. And you could be losing money. Can make a profit of 20% in 3 months? Can double your customer base in 6 months? If so, write it in your notebook.

What steps do you need to take to achieve your goals? How much do you have to sell to achieve your goals? You must first know your profit margin to determine this figure. Then you have to figure out how you are going to find the customers to make your goals come true.

What are your marketing strategies? Start with those goals you know you can attain. How will you reach your market? Are you going to use search engine optimization, email, newsletters, networking, advertising on related sites, advertising in trade magazines, or write an article to submit to online publications? Participate in online forums, message boards and newsgroups. Include your URL (Internet address) in your signature file.

What is the time-frame for accomplishing your goals? Create a time-line for every goal in your notebook. Next to each goal, write down the starting and ending dates of when you plan to accomplish that goal as well as what type of marketing strategies you are using.

Are you keeping track of your marketing results? If you are doing any advertising whether it is online or offline, track the results. You can track online advertising using ad tracking software such as adtrackz.com, to track all the links you place online. Analyze web site statistics to find out how visits found you. For offline advertising, place codes or words in your advertising to keep track. Your online order forms should have a place to enter the code. To learn how customers found us, we use a numeric code on all advertising/marketing materials.

What is your return on investment? How much money did the marketing strategy cost? How much money did you take in? Subtract the second figure from the first and that is your profit (or loss).

Keep track of those marketing campaigns that worked and those that didn't. Do more of the first. Reevaluate the second. Can you change one thing in the strategy and achieve different results? Try it! Add new strategies to the mix.

Stay focused on your goals. Nothing feels better than accomplishing a goal. Except maybe, all the money you are going to make when you do!

© 2004 - Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of the Women's ECommerce Association, International www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kī) ? an Internet organization that "Helps Women Do Business on the WEB." She can be reached at www.HeidiRichards.com.

In The News:


Longview News-Journal

Pine Tree ISD implements new strategic plan
Longview News-Journal
A strategic plan being implemented this year at Pine Tree ISD seeks to challenge students and enhance learning throughout the district. It's the work of a nearly yearlong process that brought together administrators, teachers, students, parents and ...


CUinsight.com (press release)

Keeping your strategic plan out of the weeds
CUinsight.com (press release)
Credit unions that engage in strategic planning are committing time and valuable resources towards planning for the future. Your leadership team will likely spend hours at the table hammering out the details of your strategic plan for the next several ...


UNCG Now

New strategic plan highlights where today's 'Giant Steps' will take UNCG in the future
UNCG Now
UNCG has unveiled its new 5-year strategic plan, a road map for the university that outlines significant areas of focus, key goals and initiatives, and a number of important metrics that will be tracked over time. Dubbed “Taking Giant Steps,” the ...


OCRegister

Readers say OC Parks failed to be inclusive with strategic plan survey
OCRegister
Following last week's column about OC Parks' upcoming 10-year Strategic Plan, an outpouring of emails, online comments and telephone calls criticized the agency for failing to widely publicize both the project and a survey. Dozens of park volunteers ...


Blount County BOE begins strategic planning process
THE BLOUNT COUNTIAN
The Blount County Board of Education announced yesterday that it will begin a strategic planning process soon involving school system stakeholders to “redefine and refocus our priorities”, and “to make well-informed decisions about the future direction ...

and more »

Freeport Journal-Standard

City hires strategic planning partner
Freeport Journal-Standard
FREEPORT — City Council tonight unanimously voted to hire Next Level as a strategic planning partner. Next Level's representatives will meet with City Manager Lowell Crow, Mayor Jodi Miller, city department heads and aldermen to help create a ...


School Board Holds Visioning Workshop - For New Strategic Plan ...
The Missourian
Continuous improvement is what the Washington School Board wants to see as officials develop a new five-year strategic plan for the district.

and more »

Sherman Denison Herald Democrat

SISD lays out strategic planning goals for bond
Sherman Denison Herald Democrat
Sherman Independent School District laid out its strategic planning goals for the upcoming bond election at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday. The board also discussed the community communication plan leading up to the bond election for $176 ...


Greensboro News & Record

UNC-Greensboro unveils five-year strategic plan | Schools ...
Greensboro News & Record
The campus leader of the strategic planning process said it took several years to create the plan based on ideas from employees, students and alumni.

and more »

The Heights

Boston College Announces 10-Year Strategic Plan
Boston College Chronicle
Re-envisioning liberal arts education through a renewed Core Curriculum; advancing student formation; bolstering scholarship and research; and expanding ...
Boston College Releases Four-Point Strategic Plan - The HeightsThe Heights

all 2 news articles »
Google News

Insurance Requirements in Franchised Companies

Franchised companies often require what some believe to be excessive... Read More

If You Dont Focus, Innovate and Evolve, You Die

After 128 years of business, a household word, Montgomery Wards,... Read More

Top 10 Tips to Create A Business Plan! (For People Who Hate Business Plans)

One of the key challenges for any business is to... Read More

Strategic Planning Fundamentals

Strategic planning is vital while starting a new business or... Read More

What is Your MSP?

For many consumers and producers, MSP is an acronym for... Read More

Online Promotion: 10 Ways To Use Focus Groups To Ignite Your Profits

A focus group is a group of employees or current... Read More

The Chasm of Change---- Restructuring ----- The Goliath

Richard L. Daft one of the country's recognized academic leadership... Read More

SWOT Analysis Is No Magic 8 Ball

Q: A key investor in my business has suggested that... Read More

Connecting Your Offline Business to Your Online Business

These may sound like no brainers, but you'd be surprised.... Read More

Buying Used Detailing Equipment and Rainy Day Services

Mobile auto detailing equipment becomes very inexpensive around March each... Read More

Dayton, OH; Why your Company needs to expand there

In Ohio: besides the 3-Cs you should look at Akron,... Read More

Resilience

I. INTRODUCTIONThe term resilience, which is of frequent use in... Read More

The Impact of Price Popularity on Profits

The goal of almost every business owner is to generate... Read More

Mobile Franchise Business Expansion Strategy

If you own a mobile franchise business and wish to... Read More

5 Strategies That Will Boost Your Business Productivity Today! - Part 2

Growing your own small business can be one of the... Read More

Site Selection and Demographic Tips for Establishing Outlets

Many cities have home pages on the Internet. Many of... Read More

Don?t Just Talk About the Weather, Use It to Advantage

A well known, national chain of restaurants discovered that certain... Read More

Mastermind Your Way to Success

What do Mark Victor Hansen, Robert Allen, Anthony Robbins, Andrew... Read More

The Six Sigma Method and Design of Experiments

Six Sigma is becoming a proven approach for businesses and... Read More

Vendor Relations Strategies Sample Outline

One of the quintessential parts to any business is your... Read More

How To Prepare A Business Plan That Guarantees Big Profits

It is always said "If you Fail to Plan, you... Read More

Hunters and Gatherers - Are You Serving Both Their Needs?

The University of Exeter in the United Kingdom recently published... Read More

A Rough Cut on Feasibility

A piano tuner recently moved to Buffalo, NY, and would... Read More

How To Kick Start Your Business And Double Your Profits

This will make some people angry as hell, but it's... Read More

A Unique Joint Venture Twist: Make Huge Profits Even If You Have No Money, No Products, and No List

Would you like to jumpstart your online or offline business... Read More