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Archive for April, 2009

planIn part 1 I discussed how to identify your future business. In this second post, I’ll teach you how to set up a business plan.

Here’s a secret: you don’t write business plans for the bank. Nor for Venture Capitalists. You write a business plan for you. At this point, I can hear you say ‘but I got everything in my head, what do I need a business plan for, then?’ You’re partly right. The stuff is in your head, but it needs to come out. When you have all your ideas and plans layed out in front of you, things will become clear. You’ll get aware of problems and their solutions, and of new ideas.

So how do you write a business plan?
There is a ton of business plans and business planning software online. You’d do wise NOT spending any money on them. Since you are making the plan for yourself, there’s no right or wrong. As a guide, here’s what business plans usually consist of:

  1. A description of your business
  2. Marketing
  3. Finance
  4. Management

1: A description of your business
State here what your business is all about. What are you going to sell/offer? What need does your business fill?

2: Marketing
To me, this is the most fun part. How are you going to get people to sell your product/service? I highly recommend Perry Belcher‘s blog and Seth Godin‘s blog for inspiration No wait, make that mandatory reading!

3: Finance
The financial stuff. What do you need to buy, and how much you have to sell to get profitable. If you’re writing for a VC, this part is super important. If you’re a roach, don’t spend too much time on this. How the heck can anyone predict how much you’re going to sell in three years?

4: Management
In regular business plans, this is where you put bio’s, backgrounds and data of your management team. In your case… that’s right.

If you need an outline of a ‘real’ business plan, check out this link.

One last tip
As you write your business plan, it’s inevitable that you come up with new great ideas. The key is to stay focused on your original idea. If you don’t, you’ll end up chasing one dream after another, not finishing even one of them. Write down the new ideas, but stay focused.

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hurryWhile procastinating a dull task, you might as well check out these blog posts:

Business ideas
Seth Godin: which comes first, the product or the marketing?
Small Business Blog: startup ideas: holiday decorating
Microsoft Small Business blog: from hobby to home business
Noobpreneur: why you have to do business online (part 1)
Noobpreneur: why you have to do business online (part 2)

Resources
Seth Godin: How to make money with SEO (or: how to be no. 1 on Google)
TechTreak.com: 25 best Photoshop logo design tutorials

Marketing
Perry Belcher: why customers won’t sleep with you on the first date
Perry Belcher: get a 33% opt-in rate for your newsletter

Do you know of another useful blog post, or do you want me to cover a specific subject? Please share!

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boredThere are numerous things that you can do at your paid dayjob that will help you startup your own company. You can use your company-issue desktop computer for all of them. To help you get started, I’ll name you 5:

  1. Learn HTML. There are so many online courses on the internet and several good free HTML editing software programs. Take advantage of these, and save money on website design!
  2. Build a network using Ning or Linkedin.
  3. Keep up with the latest news. Outlook has an exellent RSS reader built into it. Subscribe to your favorite blogs and receive all that useful information in your mailbox. It’ll look like you’re actually working!
  4. Conduct market research, scavenging the internet for useful information
  5. Write your business plan

So… the next time you’re procastinating (that’s putting off) one of your boring tasks, take advantage of that time. Plus: to your boss, it’ll seem like you’re actually being productive. It sure beats patience!

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So you’ve decided to roach your startup: doing everything during your day job. Congratulations! There are a couple of steps you have to take:

1. Identify the business you want to start up
2. Write a business plan (during work hours of course!)
3. Making your first sales
4. Growing your roach

This time, we’ll discuss the first step: identifying the business you want to start.

learnWhat business is suitable for roaching?
Any business that is not overly costly to start (i.e. no large initial investments) and does not require you to be physically around a lot (at first) is suitable. Anything that has to do with internet is a good choice.

So where do I start?
Here’s the thing: get proficient. In social media. In internet. In design. In programming languages (HTML, PHP, Ruby, ASP. The technology doesn’t really matter, it’s just a means to an end).  These are things that take time to learn, but are doable. And, of course, you can learn them during your day job! Maybe you can even get your boss to pay for a course, but there’s a load of good tutorials out there, too.  I’ve included a bunch of links on the bottom of this article for you to start with.

You’ll see that when you get into these things something will emerge from your brain. Maybe you’re good at designing, or maybe you got this crazy idea of a social media networking website that nobody thought about yet. Also, you’ll be able to build your own website and design your own stationairy.

So far, you haven’t spent a dime yet, which is good! Next time, we’ll discuss making a business plan. Should you? If yes, how?

Some links to help you get started
Photoshop tutorials: 1, 2 and 3
Illustrator tutorials: 1 and 2
Adobe software on education license
Learn HTML, PHP, Ruby on Rails
Get a free HTML-editor (also for other programming languages)

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Ethics of roaching
signpostStarting up a business while at your job doesn’t sound really ethical, right? You’re getting paid to do your job, sbut you’re NOT actually doing your job. That’s like, slacking, right? Even worse than slacking!

Well, no. First of all, slacking isn’t that bad. This article from CNN Money points out that slacking is a way to recharge your batteries, come up with new business ideas, and to strengthen bonds between co-workers.

The fact that you’re reading this blog tells me you’re not satisfied with your job. So, in terms of motivation, you’re at the bottom end of the spectrum. You procrastinate every menial, pointless task your boss hands you, and you count down the hours until the day is done. I know, I feel exactly the same. So here’s the deal: when you know you can do so much fun and important stuff for your own startup, you don’t delay your day job tasks. You do them first. Or, even better: when the boss is watching. Look at it this way: are you getting paid to work for a certain amount of hours, or are you getting paid to do a certain amount of work?

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