Online Entrepreneurial Success Team, continued

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Online Entrepreneurial Success Team, continued

Postby happykat » Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:36 pm

Do you have a serious idea for starting your own business, and need some advice or encouragement for going ahead with it? Or alternatively, do you already own your own business and are wanting to in some way change, improve or expand it? The previous topic at http://www.barbarasher.com/boards/viewt ... c&&start=0 was the genesis of this group, which is a small online team of people who are seriously committed to making their business ideas and plans a reality. If you fit this description, feel free to browse the above link to familiarize yourself with the group, and then post in this new thread. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:08 pm

Hi, happykat! Thanks for kicking us off! I'm really excited about getting my new business off the ground. I'm working on launching a gift basket (to start) business. I'm presently in the mortgage business and this new venture is my exit strategy. I'm looking forward to getting to know y'all and watching all our dreams become reality. Deb
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Postby ubu » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:16 pm

Found you! I add my Thanks, too, Happykat! I currently own PJ's Gifts, which is both a physical store in Bennett Colorado (run by my husband) and a website business (which I oversee and direct). I am interested in growing this business, specifically the website. My current problem is twofold, I think: (1) I'm at a standstill on ideas for marketing (inexpensively) the website and thus growing the clientelle list (if I were a writer, I think this would be called a \"writer's block\"), and (2) most days I'm at total burnout by the time I get home from my full-time job and am supposed to be trying to focus on PJ's Gifts! :? Exit-Strategy: What steps have you taken toward your gift basket business thus far? What do you think your immediate next steps (e.g., maybe looking only 1 week out) should be?
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:39 pm

My current problem is twofold, I think: (1) I'm at a standstill on ideas for marketing (inexpensively) the website and thus growing the clientelle list (if I were a writer, I think this would be called a "writer's block") most days I'm at total burnout by the time I get home from my full-time job and am supposed to be trying to focus on PJ's Gifts!
What are you doing right now for marketing? What clientele base are you currently servicing? Actually, the first thing that popped into my head was see if there's a local college whereby you could acquire an intern. You get cheap labor & some fresh blood & they get work experience! You could supervise/approve the process, but have someone else actually do the work. That would keep your additional time burden to a minimum.
Exit-Strategy: What steps have you taken toward your gift basket business thus far? What do you think your immediate next steps (e.g., maybe looking only 1 week out) should be?
I have been scribbling down ideas for possible client bases (local mortgage industry is huge and I know people after 20+ yrs in the biz. I've picked up some some basic supplies to experiment with and have a concept for a item to differentiate me from the 'crowd'. I need to nail down some legalities on that, too. My goals for this week are to have a completed basket ready for sale by this weekend. I also plan to have the final product 'costed out' in detail and a basic accounting system started. That'll do for now, I think.
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Postby ubu » Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:16 pm

I think y'all have been just the shot in the arm I've needed! Exit Strategy - To answer your questions: 1. Marketing? Don't know if this quite qualifies, but my "alternative" to SEO optimization (which I could not afford) was to seek out other "online" people I thought might be open to a reciprocal link arrangement. This gave birth to our "links" tab (just last month) on the website (also on the blog). I contact these people via email to see if they'd be interested. I just received another "You bet" just last night! 2. Who is my clientele? I send out occasional email announcements/newsletters whenever I have something fun or interesting to let people know about regarding the website (e.g., new vendor, updated home page, special sale, etc.). I'm always afraid of being a "pain" or a "nuisance", so these tend to average only about 1 per month, or so. My distribution list started with absolutely everyone I knew personally that had an email address (friends, co-workers, family, friends of family), and I just keep adding to it as word-of-mouth spreads and more people sign up for the emailed newsletter. In fact, one will be coming out soon as my web developer just finished updating the home page and the links tab. I'm always careful to include, at the end, an offer to "unsubscribe" in case someone should no longer want to receive the newsletter. So, for now, I'm guessing this distribution is my "clientele". And, of course, I hold a special place in my heart for the disabled. But truly, we offer enough of a variety I believe, that just about anyone could be a potential customer. In other words, I don't think what we have to offer is particularly "niche-able"?? I also approached a fellow entrepreneur (not here on the boards, but someone I know) who is, for now, stuck having to work a "day job" until his "dream" job can take off. Since his dream work is computer related, and I'm always hungry to learn computer stuff, I approached him with an idea for a mutual support group, starting with him and I and "let's see where it goes from there." The concept is that we'd both help each other out, as we could and according to our strengths. As background - I have to offer this explanation: This was a BIG step for me! I've always been afraid of making these types of proposals because, for all my bravado - I am afraid of rejection! That is why I said y'all have been such a shot in the arm for me! You've given me the courage to overcome that fear!! And guess what?!?! He said he's intrigued and is most definitely thinking about it! Yippee!! On a different note, E_S: today is Wednesday (roughly mid-point of the week), so was just wondering how you've been doing on your goals for this week? I meant to tell you that I thought you had set just about the right amount of goals for a 1-week period -- but the proof is always in the pudding, as they say. Just curious as to whether you're doing OK, or if there is something we can help you with? Happykat -- How can we help you? What are your needs at this point in time?
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Postby happykat » Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:02 pm

I don't actually have any questions at this point in time. I'm working at building up my business running baby classes, and it seems quite promising for this year. I'm happy to fill you all in with any information about what I am doing, if there is anything you want to ask:)
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:25 pm

ubu Regarding marketing and clientele... sounds like you've got the online angle covered pretty well. Good job! (And excellent news on facing down your fears!) I hear you on the e-mail advertising dilemma, too. How much is too much, eh? I do have a couple thoughts (take 'em or leave 'em, as you choose) that you could use expand your online presence by going offline! Try some small contests. Perhaps have some coupons to give out that have some kind of a code number and your website address. Maybe tie it in with a holiday. They have to enter the contest by going to the website and entering their name, address, etc plus the code. (The codes will help you identify which contests worked best and allow you to repeat them.) That way you've added to your client database and increased the hits on your website! Oh, and make them 'dig' thru a page or two for the entry form - more exposure to your products. Have some inexpensive bumper stickers or book covers/bookmarkers made up with a clever slogan and the website addy prominently featured. Be sponsor at local community events and give these out to EVERYONE! Ask if you can leave a stack of your business cards (w/web addy) at the neighborhood florist's (and whoever else you can think of) and take some of their's to put on your counter. I guess what I'm trying to get at is not to get locked in to advertising the website only online! I hope that makes sense.... happykat How wonderful that things are looking so great for you! That's a huge inspiration to those of us just launching our dreams. Thanks for sharing. We'd be pleased to hear about anything you'd care to share. Progress Report: Things are coming along nicely. I've purchased some supplies and am experimenting with assembling my first basket. I think I may pick up a few more 'stuffers' just to have some variety. I haven't formally 'costed out' anything yet, but I am keeping my receipts so a tally will be easy when I'm done futzing around with it. The best news is that I've found a really easy shareware bookkeeping and invoicing program. I've got 30 days for a test run and will probably purchase when the trial is up. I'm also keeping a log on the Yahoo site to have a visual record of where I'm at. All in all, I'm very pleased with my progress. Thanks for checking in with me! Deb
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:50 pm

I just thought of something really basic I could use some help with - a company name! D'oh!!! Somehow 'GiftBaskets-R-Us' just doesn't quite do it for me. :shock: :oops: :lol: I'd love something short, clever, and lends itself to a logo. Not asking for much, am I?!? :wink: Of course, once I have a name, then I have to find someone to make the logo for me. I might be able to twist my nephew's arm on that one. Anyway, I'm open to suggestions.... Thanks in advance, Deb
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:21 pm

Progress Report Well, after rolling it around in my head for a few days, I think I have a name for my company! I did a quick 'Google' search and only got one hit that was even close - and it was just the name of a Yahoo group. At least I know I'm not stealing something subconsciously! :shock: :oops: :? If anyone knows about copyright/trademark sites, I'd love to check them out. I've been a little stalled on constructing a basket. I've been wallowing in indecision. Now that I've settled on the company name, I feel I've achieved a more focused goal. (Believe me, it fits!) There's more of a sense of freedom to create something unique - and to claim that. I also have a few ideas bubbling on the back burner, but it's a tad premature at this point. I only mention it because I'm beginning to see how one idea can generate more ideas and the enthusiasm to follow through with it - only if it's to see how it turns out! Very interesting......! Deb
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Postby ubu » Sun Jan 22, 2006 10:11 am

Exit Strategy: Sorry for the delay in response - I've been laid up past few days with some weird stomach thingy (flu? or maybe foodpoisoning? dunno.). Anyway, seems to have past now. Thank you for the great suggestions! I love them all! And the really neat thing is, they can all be adapted to either the website or the brick-and-mortar business! Gave my husband a much needed shot in the arm, too! Congrats on settling on the name for your business! Unfortunately, I don't really know all the ins and outs of how to search to see if anyone else has the name already, but here' hoping one of our other sherboarder helpers will have some advice for us. No worries, really, on the temporary loss of focus and apparent "wallowing". I think that's to be expected from time to time. The important thing is to focus on this coming next week, with a new set of goals to accomplish by end of that week. For myself, my goals for the week are going to be (by necessity and demand) less business focused and more personal focused. That's OK, I think, because my game plan is to spend this coming week doing what I need to do to take care of all personal/family needs, and then refocus next week on the business. How's that sound? Too limited? Too simple or easy? Hmmmmm .....
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Sun Jan 22, 2006 2:27 pm

ubu So sorry to hear you've been under the weather. May you bounce back quickly and twice as strong! I absolutely think you should take care of personal/family needs first. You can't be 'on your game' if your mind is elsewhere and you're battling physical issues. Simple? Yes! Easy........? I'm so glad you found some use for those ideas! I'm excited to hear how they work out for you and your husband. Please keep me posted on your successes. Thank you for the words of reassurance. It's really easy to get side-tracked when I have so much racing through my mind. Having the business named and accomplishing my other goals for the week has had a settling effect. I'm keeping the big picture in mind, but concentrating my focus on the daily/weekly steps. I've also started keeping a Task Tracking Log on the Yahoo site. I'm using it mostly for my immediate & short term tasks. It's here if you'd like to take a peek: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thinktank_central/database Let me know if you see something I might be missing. I'm all ears! :wink: Deb (who should be making up the beds and vacuuming...What can I say? Y'all are much more interesting!)
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Postby bcrogers1970 » Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:57 am

I'm really excited about getting my new business off the ground. I'm working on launching a gift basket (to start) business. Hi Exit, the website bizymoms.com has some info on gift basket business. Barbara
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Postby Exit_Strategy » Mon Jan 23, 2006 5:03 pm

Thank you, Barbara! I'll be sure to check it out. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration! Deb
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Postby Moonracer » Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:21 pm

Exit: I just bought a book on starting a gift basket business. Would you like to borrow it? I live near Chicago. I'd be happy to mail it to you, if you'll just send it back. I have no immediate need for it, so you could keep it a little while. Let me know.
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Postby ubu » Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:57 pm

Exit: I'm so frustrated! At Yahoo groups -- not at you! :wink: I've been trying to get a glimpse of your stuff at thinktank, but evidently Yahoo groups requires you to have an account to do this. Only problem is, every single ID I could think of so far (and I've tried many, believe me) appears to be unavailable (already taken)! Oh well ... it's been that kind of a week thus far. :? Don't worry, I'll keep trying .... :roll:
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