Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Locations and facilities

Your Location Matters

Most online only businesses operate in an online space so a physical location may not be needed. However, your location still affects your business’s marketing efforts even as an online company.

For example, if your company is located within the state of Texas, but seeking to do business in New York or another, you need to make certain that your website addresses the concerns of each target customers’ location

Things to consider:

  • Is your location/website convenient (address / online address)
  • Is it consistent with your brand image?
  • Is it what customers want and expect?

Creating financials for your business

Sales plan

The sales plan is designed to reach new customers. The plan is the process used to close the deals that the marketing plan opens. The sales plan explains how salespersons are rewarded or commissioned, how orders are processed and tracked, and how the business keeps in contact with the customer throughout the sales process.

Revenue forecast

Lists major products, services, and other revenue streams. Organizes them into sensible higher-level groups as appropriate. Revenue forecast can also be used as a comparison against actual results.

Budget

This section includes estimated expenses for the creation, development, and distribution of materials. The budget plan includes the estimated purchase cost of raw materials, printing and postage. Additionally, it analyzes the budget of taking part in trade shows, travel costs, booth fees, setup costs, and any other particular expenses.

Cash Flow Assumptions

Managing cash flow is one of the most important aspects of business. In the planning phase, the business can radically change its cash outlook by adjusting a few basic assumptions about when it pays and gets paid. This section, which is a required part of a detailed forecast, walks through those assumptions.

Hiring the right graphic artist

Hiring the right designer

While it’s easy to find a designer, hiring a graphic artist who understands marketing and web design will save you time, headaches, and printing dollars.

A graphic artist has a responsibility to efficiently combine art and technology by using strategic placement of text and images. This combination should communicate a message that generates a sale.

When seeking a graphic artist, you need to view their portfolio of work and be sure that they show versatility. Once you find a designer that matches your style, you need to assess their professionalism and reliability. This includes references, experience, knowledge, education, and price.

Having the right professional means that you will end up with a more creative, appealing, and polished project the first time around.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is about optimizing your website to increase traffic by improving internal and external strategies that will ultimately increase site traffic to your website. Businesses that practice SEO can vary, and there are many unique elements to consider when optimizing a website. The goal of SEO is to discover the search terms and phrases needed to build and generate website traffic. Don’t worry, if you’re confused about this, you are not alone.

Most web traffic is guided by three major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!). If your site isn’t found by search engines or your content isn’t optimized enough to be picked-up by their databases, you lose a great opportunity of marketing your website to potential clients or customers. Whether your site provides services, content, information, or products search engines are a primary navigation method for almost all internet users. Experience and statistics have proven that search engine traffic can make (or break) a website’s or business’ success. SEO targeted website visitors provide revenue, publicity, and exposure like no other. Investing in SEO, whether through finances or time, can create an exceptional rate of return.

Working With SEO. To create a successful website with proper SEO, you must first be sure that the website is well built as it plays a significant role in how search engines analyze your domain rank and relevancy. In creating your website, you must first be sure that the website is appealing to the customer and that the site is easily navigable. The way to create the proper architecture for a website is to build a site that is flat and has minimum clicks necessary for the user to get to the destination page.

In addition to creating the proper navigational structure of the website, you must also check for broken internal and external links. There are many useful tools for finding broken links which will crawl through your website and recognize any broken links that forward to 404 or corrupted pages. Another technique for improving the architecture of your website is to check the server header response code and duplicate content. If either of these is found, they should be corrected. While some of the concerns may need to be fixed by the sites developer, others can be fixed by simply changing some wording or taking the proper steps with search engines to correct the information.

Finally, make sure that your website has the proper architecture and has one main URL by setting up a canonical 301 redirect if needed to change www… to non-www. To search engines, having your site accessible by both looks like two different websites and your domain authority may be negatively affected. In addition, be sure to remove any developmental site that was used to originally create the website. By leaving the developmental website on its server, this creates duplicate content that can get crawled by search engines and create a negative impact on your main website. Once the live site is up and running, the developmental site should be taken down and removed from search engines if it exists.

An SEO campaign is based on the cornerstone of on-page optimization. However, when it comes to which on-page SEO techniques really work, there are 8 opinions for every 5 experts. When your business is at stake, you can’t just optimize your website and hope that it works. You need to be completely confident that everything you do will help your rankings. Moreover, you need to be sure that you’ve done everything on the SEO checklist and your website is optimized across the board.

Don’t try to do everything

One of the biggest business mistakes I have ever made was trying to do everything myself. I wore the hats of the marketing department, sales, customer service, collections, technical support, developer, graphic artist, etc.

I understand that you may want to save money or may simply not have the financial support to hire someone else to complete additional task. However, do what you need until you can get help and then get the help. If you have to cut your pay temporarily to hire a project manager while you handle sales, you will be grateful in the end. Else, you’ll drain yourself empty and never have the time to do what you love.

Do yourself a favor and focus on what made you love the idea of being a business owner in the first place.

Security Breach and Ethics

As a healthcare patient, I feel that the privacy of my personal information is a major concern. Organizations should focus on making ethical decisions when handling patient information in regards to implementing effective security and privacy measures (Haag & Cummings, 2008). Many organizations including healthcare spend thousands or millions of dollars on securing patient privacy and protecting data against breaches and hackers (Farahmand, Navathe, Sharp, & Enslow, 2005). It is the responsibility of leaders and management to understand and influence ethical practices which relate to privacy and security threats (Haag & Cummings, 2008). Security breaches have the ability to disable the functions of a business and pilfer confidential consumer information such as healthcare information, social security numbers, and passwords (Tran & Atkinson, 2002). In addition to potential loss in revenue, breaches also create consumer distrust, and negatively affect brand reputation (Farahmand et al., 2005).  The risks associated with breaches such as loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability, should cause organizations to be aware and active with threats that generate concerns (Halliday, Badenhorst, & Solms, 1996).

 

Suggested Readings

Farahmand, F., Navathe, S. B., Sharp, G. P., & Enslow, P. H. (2005). A management perspective on risk of security threats to information systems. Information Technology and Management, 6(2–3). doi:10.1007/s10799-005-5880-5

Haag, S., & Cummings, M. (2008). Management information systems for the information age (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

Halliday, S., Badenhorst, K., & Solms, R. (1996). A business approach to effective information technology risk analysis and management. Information Management & Computer Security, 4(1). doi:10.1108/09685229610114178

Tran, E., & Atkinson, M. (2002). Security of personal data across national borders. Information Management & Computer Security, 10(5). doi:10.1108/09685220210446588

Outlining your personnel expenses

The Right Personnel

Businesses generally have multiple employees completing various task. If this is your business, then you need to evaluate the expenses needed when hiring new personnel.

Personnel expenses may include expenses of current and future employees, which are needed to successfully implement the marketing strategy.

Expenses to consider include:

  • Number of employees
  • Type of labor (skilled, unskilled, professional)
  • Where to find new employees
  • Quality of existing staff
  • Pay structure
  • Responsibility

Building your perceived value

Perceived value is based on how much money the consumer or business believes the product is worth. It is the marketer’s responsibility to generate a positive perceived value of the company’s products. Whether marketing a service or a product, the results are similar in that both rely on the consumers’ perception of the company’s or individual’s expertise, quality, and reputation.

If your business and your competitors are to sell the exact same item, built exactly the same way, and from the same materials, it is likely that the business with the better brand value reputation can sell the item at a higher price because of the perceived value by the consumer.

If your customer perceives the value of your product high, the customer will likely show more interest and loyalty. The customers’ perception of your company’s customer support, trust, loyalty, and product quality determine the products value.

Developing your personal brand

Your brand matters most

Your brand is often your business’s most valuable asset. A strong brand can generate loyal customers and positive sales. It is the responsibility of the marketer to create a brand that customers view as positive and valuable. For the brand to be valuable to the customers, it needs to simplify the decision-making process and reduce the risk for the customers. Positive branding can influence customer behavior. Having a strong brand will result in better earnings and profit performance, which will generate greater shareholder value for your business.

A personal brand is a presentation of your unique skills, knowledge, experience, and expertise that help make you memorable. These unique assets influence employers to hire and professionals to want to work with you. For you to expand your social brand and generate brand awareness, you can start by creating or cleaning up your social media pages. On social media pages, you should not post anything that you don’t want employers or customers to see. This includes both text and images. In addition to social media pages, you should create digital portfolios and personal websites. The benefits of these are that customers can easily find websites, and it allows you to present yourself in favorable conditions.

Privacy and Ethical Concerns

Ethical considerations within businesses are largely over-looked within marketing management research (Bell & Bryman, 2007). Business ethics research inherently focuses on sensitive and controversial issues (Miyazaki & Taylor, 2008). Consequently, most business ethics research is susceptible to interaction biases (Miyazaki & Taylor, 2008).

There is a growing concern from consumers that their privacy and personal information is being digitized and sold without their permission (Foxman & Kilcoyne, 1993). The concern is that credit cards, billing details, and other private data is bought and sold across the marketing industry between businesses and organizations to use as soliciting tools. Consumers agree that the lack of organizational ethics when collecting the information is morally wrong (Foxman & Kilcoyne, 1993). The debate amongst consumers and businesses is that both parties feel they own the information submitted. Businesses believe that they have the right to use the information any way they choose to help better their organizational goals and to produce better marketing services (Foxman & Kilcoyne, 1993). Additionally, the organizations that purchase the user information feel they own the data because they purchased it.

If the results show that a company is being unethical by confusing or misinforming consumers on how their private information is used, management should work diligently to resolve the confusion by making privacy details clear. In formulating a research-oriented approach that would benefit the practice in regards to the issue presented, I recommend utilizing a qualitative format similar to the constructivist format. I would begin by outlining the problems being addressed and then focus on presenting existing literature regarding the problem and the significance of the study (Creswell, 2009). Next, I would present procedures including a qualitative research strategy for collecting the necessary data. Finally, I would focus on validating my finding using various forms of interview questions, observational forms, timelines, and proposed budgets (Creswell, 2009).

Recommended Readings

Bell, E., & Bryman, A. (2007). The ethics of management research: An exploratory content analysis. British Journal of Management, 18(1), 63–77. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8551.2006.00487.x

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Foxman, E. R., & Kilcoyne, P. (1993). Information technology, marketing practice, and consumer privacy: Ethical issues. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 12(1), 106-119. doi: 10.1007/s10660-007-9000-y

Miyazaki , A. D., & Taylor, K. A. (2008). Researcher interaction biases and business ethics research: Respondent reactions to researcher characteristics. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(4), 779–795. doi:10.1007/s10551-007-9547-5

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