May 1, 2003 Issue #8


IN THIS ISSUE

  • 3 simple things to do for your business this month
  • Entrepreneurship: The entrepreneur's most underutilized tool
  • Free download
  • Business Odyssey.com renovation
  • Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

3 simple things to do for your business this month

  1. ESTABLISH AN OUTGOING E-MAIL "SIG FILE." You've all seen this - it's a short "ad" at the end of an e-mail. If you aren't using one in your own outgoing e-mails, you're missing a really easy and FREE way to keep your message in front of customers and prospects.

    If you are using one, great! But when was the last time you changed it? Just like all ad messages, these can get "tired" after a while.

    Develop a short, punchy "teaser" and a link to your web site or the product you are offering. Instruct your e-mail program to add this to each outgoing e-mail automatically. If you aren't sure of how to do this, go into "Help" and type in "signatures" for instructions. (In Outlook Espress, click on Tools, then Options then the Signature tab.)

  2. SCHEDULE TIME OFF. Entrepreneurs often have a very, very hard time with this but it is essential to maintaining health and sanity and for staying on top of your game.

    Schedule time with your family and time for yourself. Do something you love. Each week plan at least one 24 hour period in which you do nothing business related. It's also important to schedule longer periods of time away from work - 3 or more days away a couple of times a year at minimum. It will help relieve stress and recharge your batteries. You'll return to work energized and more productive.

  3. SIGN UP FOR A SEMINAR. Busy entrepreneurs often neglect one of the biggest contributors to success - constant upgrading of skills. At conferences and seminars you can catch up on new developments, strengthen your skills and learn new ones, get fresh ideas, and network with other entrepreneurs. Some seminars are only an hour or two. Check out local business publications, community colleges and universities, and business organizations for announcements.


Entrepreneurship: The entrepreneur's most underutilized tool

How do you tell if that great idea you have is going to pay off before you invest time, money and energy? Whether you're starting a new business or extending your current offerings, checking things out before you dive in is always prudent. Feasibility testing is the best way to avoid wasting time and resources on non-starters so you can focus your energy on the winners. There are 2 phases to doing a feasibility analysis.

1. Do one or more "quick tests" to start the process. A quick test gives you a snapshot of the situation and allows you to make an informed decision without investing a lot of time. Here are several quick test approaches.

TALK to respected peers about your idea. Weigh their responses. Keep in mind that a totally unique idea might be rejected even if it has merit. You have to be the final judge of the responses that you receive. That's why it is a good idea to do several different quick tests.

LIST the pros and cons. Judge the results by both the quantity and the quality of items in each column.

ANSWER critical questions such as why you are interested in this idea, if the market is interested in it, if people are willing to pay you money for this product or service.

EXAMINE the results of your quick tests to see if the facts support the idea being marketable and if you are motivated to go on to the second phase of your feasibility analysis.

2. The second phase is more involved and will actually serve multiple purposes. It will tell you exactly what has to happen in order to bring your idea to market and it will be the foundation for your business plan.

The feasibility study begins with a good written description of your business concept. This will include detailed descriptions of the new product or service, your prospective customers, what benefits the customer will derive from the products, and how that value will be delivered.

Next, develop an industry and market analysis. This information will help you determine your entry strategy. This involves doing some research to answer important questions including whether:

  • the industry will support a new player
  • competition is strong or weak
  • raw materials are available
  • there are threats such as regulatory changes
  • you can overcome the hurdles to entering this market
You will also want to develop a detailed description of who will be buying your product or service. This will be the basis for developing a unique selling proposition and marketing strategy that will appeal to your prospects.

Pro forma financial statements will help you determine your probable break-even point and profit potential. As you research the industry andmarket, develop an estimate of demand. This will be your starting point. Research will also reveal your costs and give you an idea of how much will have to be spent on marketing.

The product development analysis of the feasibility study lays out exactly what has to happen to make the product marketable. Will you need prototype development, product testing, patent protection, etc. Even services need to go through this process.

Establishing your founding team will ensure that you have people with the skill, experience and time to launch the new product.

Then you determine the timeline to launch.

At each point along the way you will have the opportunity to make a decision about whether or not you want to go on with the project. As you gather infor mation, you can refine and improve your concept so that you go to market with the best product you can produce. You will know the likelihood of success BEFORE you dive in and understand what needs to be done to be successful.

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For a more detailed look at the feasibility analysis, see Kathleen Allen's excellent book, Entrepreneurship for Dummies. Available at many public libraries and at this Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764552627/businessodyss-20


Free download

Business Odyssey is always on the lookout for solid information sources that will benefit entrepreneurs. When we find something that we think is useful, we pass it along - especially if it's a freebie.

Whether you have had a business for years or if you are just starting out, the Service Sellers Master Course offers tons if great information that would take you years to find on your own.

This free download provides 230 pages packed with insider tips and tricks for successfully developing and marketing your service. It takes you from the beginning brainstorming of your product idea through start-up and marketing. For beginners, this is a terrific format for getting started on the right foot with minimal investment. For veterans, the course will provide you with dozens of new ideas for landing new prospects and for keeping them coming back.

Why is this being offered for free? Well, there is a sales pitch for the Site Sell web site hosting service, Site Build It! However, the information is excellent and can be used by anyone no matter what hosting service they are using. At this price, there is certainly no risk. Take a look. I think you will be impressed by the quality of information here. If you aren't, please let me know.

Download here: http://services.sitesell.com/odyssey1.html


Business Odyssey.com renovation

We are in the midst of a major overhaul of the Business Odyssey web site. This has been a less-than-smooth-going project but I firmly believe that the results will be worth the pain. At the moment of this writing, the old web site is still up. I hope that changes soon.

Initially the new page will have only a limited amount of information on it. All of the links and resources will be restored in short order with lots of new additions.

The new format will allow me to more easily make additions and to update more frequently. I am looking forward to the increased flexibility. It will make it a lot easier to add new features, tools, information and products that make life easier for entrepreneurs.

In the meanwhile, if you have problems accessing the site, my apologies. The problems should not last long so check back often.

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Want a web site but don't know how to start? Afraid it will cost too much? Suffering from "technophobia"? Site Build It! is an incredible, complete package - hosting, software, powerful e-commerce tools, detailed, non-technical instructions - all at a very affordable price. Take a "quick tour" at http://quicktour.sitesell.com/odyssey1.html


Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

If you have questions, comments or an idea for an article you would like to see in The Chronicle, please drop us a line at

info@businessodyssey.com.

Feel free to pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it of interest. If you do, be sure to forward it in its entirety and include the copyright notice.

To use an article in your own publication, just send me an e-mail telling me which article you want to use. I will e-mail you the complete article withan information block which MUST be included.


Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio

www.businessodyssey.com