Tag Archives: how to start your own business

How to Start a Business Online. 4 Fundamental Steps

8 Jun

As I’m nearing the end of my master’s degree (only 3 more months, I can’t believe it!) I have been taking time these past couple of weeks to really focus on my business model and its online presence. Keeping up with the times is an absolute necessity for any online business with hopes of success.

So I’ll delve into some notes on my recent experiences and discoveries when it comes to running a business online.

1-    What is your brand image?

This is something that I have personally struggled with over time. Being that I am very versatile and love so many different clothing styles, it was hard for me to really narrow down and choose what specific niche my clothing design is.

But trust me, as hard as it may be, targeting your brand image is a must. The main piece of advice I can stand on is this: stay true to yourself. Doing something because a person of authority tells you, or you think you may make more money, or it’s a quicker path to success will only dig a deeper hole. I ended up changing things around multiple times, finally landing back where I started in the first place.

Some things to consider about brand image:

  • Who is your client? This means you need to know more than just their age and ethnicity. What do they do on the weekends? What are their hobbies? What music do they like, etc.
  • What do you want your brand to feel like? This takes some thinking. What does the Starbucks brand feel like? And why does it seem to match the feeling of the Apple brand? Consider your senses the next time you go into your favorite store, coffee house or restaurant. Notice the things around you that carry the vibe that you recognize so easily when you think of that place.
  • Consider your competition. Who are they and what are they doing to get the attention of your potential clients? What strong and weak points do you notice? How can you differentiate yourself?
  • What’s your story? Consider your goals as a business. What is the hook that makes you different or intriguing? Consider the emotional triggers you will ignite when telling people about your brand’s story.

2-    Your own website vs. third party platforms.

Making a website for your business is always the best option. It gives the feeling of professionalism and creates trust in the eyes of the client. However, this may not be an option right away as most startups are funded solely by the owner. Putting together a makeshift website from a template is an option, but I guarantee it will make most people shy away. It makes the company look less reputable. Having a solid, professional looking website is truly the best option.

Then there is the choice of using third party as a platform to sell your merchandise. As an example, ww.reverbnation.com is a great site for music artists to network and sell their music.

Weigh your platform options:

  • Having your own website gives you more control.  It also gains better search engine optimization than third party platforms.
  • Consider your customer. What will they feel most comfortable with?
  • How are you going to get paid? Paypal is by far the most trusted way to send and receive money online. Get an account. It’s free and you can transfer money straight to your bank account with minimal fees.

3-    Create a marketing plan. Without question, you absolutely must have all the standard social networks in tact if your business is online. The first thing people want to do when they find your business is check out your Facebook, twitter, etc. It builds credibility and status instantly. The key is finding where exactly your customer is online and formulating your marketing plan around that.

  • Do more than just be present- Interact!
  • Find people who have similar businesses. For example, if you have a make up line, friend and follow others in the beauty industry as well as related industries like fashion and photography. Forums are a great place to do this. People share insights, tips and carry great discussions in forums.
  • Don’t forget about the offline world. Be present at related events in your area. Learn who’s who. Have your professional business cards ready to direct people to where you are online.
  • Create a campaign. Something that you will focus on and push for a set amount of time. This could be a sale, a special product launch, a grand opening, etc. This will help your new audience understand what your all about. Consistent brand image is vital in this stage.

4-    Blog. The main thing about blogging is establishing yourself as an expert in your craft. People will come to your blog to learn from you. So you want to blog about a topic you’re confident in.

  • Post consistently. At least once a week is ideal.
  • Find sites that you can submit your articles to.
  • The more links your blog is tied to, the higher Google ranks you in searches.
  • Make sure you’re using the right keywords and tags. This is how people find you!
  • Check out other blogs to see what is working for others.

Final thoughts on this topic; be honest. Keeping up communication with clients and colleagues is the best way to build and maintain your online relationships. Never forget that on the other side of that screen is an actual person with thoughts and feelings, just like you.

Thoughts? Suggestions? As always, I’m open to improvement. 🙂

~A. Roze

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How to Balance Finances as an Entrepreneur. Bboy Spot’s Mex breaks it down.

5 Feb

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For a recent project in my Finance class in my Master’s program at Full Sail University, I interviewed David “Mexone” Alvarado, henceforth referred to as Mex. He is the founder of The Bboy Spot, B&B Printing and Biggest & Baddest clothing in Orlando, FL. His three businesses are run seamlessly as a unit, piggy backing off of each other creating a culture and community of hip hop.

I chose to interview Mex after visiting The Bboy Spot January 19th for a live broadcast of the local radio show, OUR Show 91.5 (www.itsourshow.net). I was extremely impressed with the venue, the culture and sense of unity that I found there. I was also taken by the fact that someone else was doing something very close to what my husband and I have wanted to do with our businesses, as far as the collaboration of fashion and music. It was very refreshing to find a place that has kept the values and traditions of hip hop, even with the major mainstream turn the industry has taken within the last five years or so. Continue reading for a fresh perspective on entrepreneurial finance.

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My College Review :Final Thoughts:

11 Feb

I have been trying to get around to doing this update blog for over a month now. My last college term has had me so wrapped up since November. I can’t believe it’s over! Wwoooooo.. I can breathe! Stages of life are strange. I never feel like I’m growing up. I remember looking at people who were older than me and not being able to imagine myself at that age. But then becoming that age, I don’t feel like I thought I would. It’s complicated and hard to explain, but I think everyone can agree that you certainly can’t predict what life will throw at you.

I honestly had no plans for college. I was intimidated. I thought that you had to be rich and extremely smart to attend a good school. Funny how someone else’s perception of something can be installed in you without your even realizing it. I am glad I went, but I don’t think college is for everyone. Most people are just working for a grade. They lose sight of why they are there.. or didn’t have good intentions in the first place.. and they get caught up in simply trying to pass. But then what? No one seems to think about what happens next. And the colleges, well mine at least, was only keen on preparing us for hourly, entry level positions with possibilities of working your way up. They never touched on how to start your own business. Yes, we had an entrepreneurship course. But if you didn’t go beyond what was required, you wouldn’t get a real grasp on what it means to run a business.

In my last term, it was the general consensus among my classmates that the last couple classes held the information that they needed the whole time. Being that they had been thrown into the fire in the end left them feeling unprepared and like they could have done better given more time to mull over what the last term was going to be like. I must admit I feel the same. Being that the last term includes doing your final portfolio, which is what you will take with you after college as a canvas of your abilities, there is already pressure and importance attached to the term. Not doing your absolute best feels heart shattering.. especially when you’re out of time. They seemed to feel like the school had held out the good stuff until the end, and just dragged us on with filler classes in the middle. Having such an overflow of requirements thrown at you in the end, especially when proper, thought provoking information was not given in the middle, left most people feeling intimidated about what might come from the real world. There could be several people to blame here. Whether it’s the business side of the school who will bring in anyone who will sign a loan contract, the teachers who don’t care enough to be 100% real with the students, the teachers who don’t know that they’re not being 100% real or accurate (not saying this includes all teachers) or the students who don’t care enough to push themselves further than what is asked from them (this does not include all students). Keep in mind that I am not bashing anyone. I still vouch that I am happy with my personal end results, these are just improvement suggestions, advice, and forewarnings.

Our economy is not in good shape. Corporations who pay minimum wage, source most of their supplies and manufacturing from other countries, and continually run out the small businesses will not put our economy back in good shape. Educating young, willing and able people to start new, small businesses will in fact do our economy the most good. Isn’t that what capitalism is supposed to be all about? But yet and still colleges continue to push the issue of molding us into some sort of ‘workbot’ to fill a slot that you will be in competition with 300 other trained graduates to get. I’m not campaigning against working. I understand the need for steady income. I’m saying that we should be aware of what we are paying tuition for, and to make sure that it gets put to the best possible use, while we are still able to do something we love. Personally, I know my tuition money was well spent. I tried to go above and beyond what was required, to get a full understanding of everything that was brought up and learn the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind everything, not just the ‘what’- as was taught. Getting the ‘why’ and ‘how’ allows you to test theories, and come up with new ones. That is the only way we will ever have true innovation and progression. I also was working on my business while I was in school. Putting theories to the test in the real world is one of the best ways to learn.

Since I am being blatant about what is bad, I will also be blatant about what is good. I feel that I should mention a few names of awesome instructors who really went the extra mile for me as a student. Sharon Smith, for her honesty and great advice, Daphne Dalge for being the best at what she does, and her extra advice on sewing, Kate Saccone (who was let go because she didn’t have a masters degree- another issue I won’t get into) for her blatant honesty and all around good leadership, Matthew Mercer for being determined and teaching in a creative fashion, and Laura Cox, just for being a super cool teacher. There are others, but I won’t go into an extensive roll call..

College is a touchy subject. I suppose in the end, it comes down to the student. What you put in is what you will get out. Don’t fall into a trap. Keep your integrity, and remember why you’re there. And remember that you will be on your own once your done. Besides the hands digging in your pockets for loan repayment! So there you have my summed up honest advice as a recent graduate if you are thinking of going to school.

Just a few quotes I found relating to the subject…

My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors. – Maya Angelou

College isn’t the place to go for ideas. – Helen Keller

College is a refuge from hasty judgment. – Robert Frost

A liberal-arts education is supposed to provide you with a value system, a standard, a set of ideas, not a job. – Caroline Bird

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. – Theodore Roosevelt

If you have a college degree you can be absolutely sure of one thing… you have a college degree. – Author Unknown

A liberal education… frees a man from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family and even his nation. – Robert Maynard Hutchins

The new appears as a minority point of view, and hence is unpopular. The function of a university is to give it a sanctuary. – Martin H. Fischer

No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows. – J. Robert Oppenheimer

Standardization is the fertilizer of college education. A little may be useful, but flowers do not grow in pure manure. – Martin H. Fischer

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