- Writing a Business Plan
- Financial Statements
- Business Forecasting
- Business Checklist
MARKETING (Internet Company)
The Internet Company is proposing to provide FREE Entrepreneurship Training to various markets in an extremely unique and innovative manner - vis-a-vis the Internet. As mentioned earlier, the information will provide in-depth discussions on topics such as Management Styles and Techniques, Human Resource Development, Business Operations, General Principals of Accounting, Financial Forecasting, Capital Requirements, Strategic Planning, Business Plan Development, and many other essential components required in owning and maintaining a business venture. The information is organized in an effortless format where individuals rapidly learn a variety of business concepts, terminology, laws, regulations, and strategies which will assist them in developing the prerequisite skills required in owning and maintaining a business venture.
The training module is currently under construction and, to date, consists of approximately 700 pages of information. The Internet Company anticipates the training module will be complete as early as February, 200X. At which time, the information will become available on the Internet to all interested parties, free to all users. At this point, lets take a glance at what the Internet is and how it evolved.
HOW DO WE GENERATE REVENUE?
Revenue will be generated by selling advertising space to primarily national and international corporations. Moreover, corporate names, logos, slogans and a combination thereof will be shown in various locations throughout our entrepreneurship training module. These advertisements will be placed at the top, bottom, and left hand side of selected web pages. Although we have a capacity to have 4900 advertisements in the company's initial 700 page information database (700 at the top of each page + 700 at the bottom of each page + 5 along the side of each page), it is not realistic and would certainly seem unattractive to users of the business training information. Instead, we plan to attract a maximum of 40 advertisers in 200X each spending on average $3,200 per year and 50 corporate advertisers in 200Y each spending on average $3,500 per year.
Also, many of these companies will have their own Web Site which allows us to create a "link" with the their advertisements (on The Internet Company's Web Site) and their Web Site. In other words, lets assume that VISA placed an advertisement on our Web Site. We would place their logo, for example, at the top of a selected page of information. Users of the entrepreneurship training module could simply click their mouse on the VISA logo and immediately be transferred to VISA's Web Site.
Internet advertising is similar to any other form of advertising sponsorship such as newspaper advertising, TV advertising, direct mail, to name a few. Companies advertise in newspapers, for example, in an attempt to reach a large portion of their target markets. The same principals are being employed by The Internet Company with one exception - we can determine, with great accuracy, the age, sex, household income, occupation, and family size of each of the users of our business training guide (information). A simple computer program along with various strategies allow us to gain this invaluable demographic information that eventually sets the stage for enticing existing businesses to place their advertisements on our Web Site.
Demographic statistics is extremely useful to companies since most products and services are targeted towards specific groups or segments of the population. For example, if 40% of our customers (users of the information) are male, between the ages of 30 and 35, married, having no children, with an household income of $95,000 , then companies selling products to this segment of the market would greatly benefit by advertising on our Web Site. The knowledge of demographic information will not be considered crucial for some corporations since the individuals we'll attract are primarily those wishing to open their own business venture. Moreover, many generic products and services are required by most potential businesses such as office supplies, office equipment, marketing services, accounting services, law services, insurances, licences, financing, rental spaces, transportation etc. These corporations will inherently benefit from any one of our clients opening a business venture.
Jane Roberts, author of The Internet Handbook and The Internet Age, was recently profiled in Money Magazine. Roberts states "if your Web Site ends up costing you more than you can handle, you might wish to use it to recover some of its costs - Either by charging subscription fees to users or selling advertising space. But Roberts thinks subscription fees are the wrong way to go. "Part of the challenge is because there is so much information on the Net, we're really not willing to pay for it unless it's really, really special". Later in the article Roberts provides an example of how profitable selling advertising space can really be. Roberts says that New York based company, Computer Meca, the innovative magazine of computer culture, collects $20,000 per month from companies who place advertisements on its Web Site. Anyone can "register" by filling out an online questionnaire. "They do that to build a demographic profile" says Roberts. "They can then take that to advertisers and say, 'Look we got X number of people who do this, here's their income levels, here's who they are......"
As mentioned earlier, The Internet Company is proposing the same method of generating revenue. See appendix # 1 for a listing of some of the businesses we plan to sell advertising space to. Now lets take a look at other products and services that The Internet Company plans to offere in conjunction with its information database.
AUGMENTED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES;
As mentioned earlier, the actual product is a database of information developed to cultivate entrepreneurial skills such as creative thinking, decision making, management skills, personal characteristics, organizational skills, marketing proficiencies, financial management, record keeping, strategic planning, goal setting, use of technology and business plan development. Although the information is geared towards developing these skills, we feel compelled to provide augmented products and services that will further enhance their chance of business success. And by doing so, The Internet Company will increase traffic flow to its Web Site which will eventually stimulate corporate sponsorship. Below lists and describes nine-teen (19) products and services that will compliment our actual product. Keep in mind, all products and services listed below are free to users - unless otherwise stated.
Self-Evaluation - Entrepreneurship Quiz;
This section will focus on the importance of entrepreneurship and the dedication required to be an entrepreneur. We will discuss what entrepreneurship generally means in terms of long hours, financial sacrifice, stress, and hard work. Each participant will be encouraged to complete a questionnaire that will help answer a very important question - Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The Questionnaire has already been developed and will be implemented in February of 200X.
Entrepreneurship Club - Newsgroup:
An Entrepreneurship Newsgroup will be initiated soon after the introduction of our Web Site - February of 200X. The purpose of the Newsgroup is to allow the user of our Web Site to communicate with other users in order to ask questions, brainstorm, to conduct market research, to locate suppliers of raw materials, to ask for suggestions, and the list goes on and on. This will add further value to our Web Site is anticipated to create loyal users. Newsgroups are very popular since people, in general, need to find information while others enjoy providing suggestions and answers. Newsgroups are discussed in greater detail later on in the business plan.
Problem Solving and Creative Thinking - Cases:
"Cases" will be developed each month that deal with situations that may arise in any business venture. For example, users may be given background information on a fictitious company that is experiencing financial difficulties. Their task may be to develop a marketing plan, for instance, for the struggling company. Or users may ask a series of questions such as should the company change its selling price, what is the companies break-even point, what is the current ratio, and so on. This method of learning is anticipated to be very useful (developing problem solving and creative thinking skills) and popular at the same time. Implementation is scheduled for February, 200X.
Monthly Interactive Sample Business Plans:
We have already developed five comprehensive sample business plans that potential entrepreneurs can use as a blueprint. These plans have been created with "hypertext links" which allow users the option of clicking on a specific word or phase that they do not understand. For instance, one sample business plan states that XYZ Company anticipates a market share of 15% of the total industry. If the reader does not understand what "Market Share" means or if he/she wants to know how the XYZ's market share was calculated, they would simply click their mouse on the word Market Share. At this point, a thorough definition and calculation of the company's market share would appear on their screen. This feature (hypertext) greatly increases the rate at which people learn and it can be classified as our main competitive advantage. The Internet Company will develop one sample business plan each month during 200X.
Small Business Publicity Column:
The company plans to develop a monthly "Publicity Column" that provides users with actual "stories" of various entrepreneurs and the growing pains in which they have experienced. We have decided to profile only companies who export products and who are located within the state of Mississippi. This strategy will provide great publicity to several chosen Mississippi firms and may in fact stimulate additional sales for these businesses. The Internet Company has already profiled two Mississippi based companies - Ed's Figurines and The Widget Company. Implementation Date: February 200X.
Users of our corporate Web Site will have access to various software packages many of which will assist them in planning and operating their business venture. For instance, a word processing software package would be used to type most sections of a business plan, while a spreadsheet software application is used to develop a company's forecasted financial statements. And once in business, entrepreneurs are required to track each of their business transactions using one of several accounting software packages. The above software packages as well as several others will be free to all interested parties. These programs can be easily downloaded or transferred from our Internet location and into any personal computer vis-a-vis phone lines. This service will be offered in February, 200X, with additional software packages added on a regular basis.
Tip of the Week:
Each week the company will provide a 'tip' to our web site users. Each tip will be classified into major sections such as marketing tips, research tips, financial tips, tax strategy tips, forecasting tips, sales tips, strategic planning tips and so on. Each tip will be stored so that users may view previous tips of the week. For example, a user can view the current tip of the week and past tips of the week in specific categories such as "Marketing Tips" for example. This strategy will be used to increase the traffic flow to our Web Site and act as an augmented service to the users. This endeavor will commence February, 200X.
Business owners and potential entrepreneurs must have superior mathematical skills. Such skills are required in all functional areas of a business and are essential in developing a business plan. Investors pay great attention to the financial aspect of a business plan when deciding on whether or not to invest into a business venture. If the numbers are not accurate or incorrectly calculated, then chances of receiving financing could in fact be reduced to nil. In addition, a business plan requires the writer to provide an overall analysis of the proposed business's profitability. By providing training in mathematics, potential entrepreneurs will not only improve their chances of receiving financing, but such training will prove advantageous in operating their businesses. This information will become available in March of 200X.
On-line Business Trivia
To add to the uniqueness of our Web Site and to provide a fun way to learn business terms and concepts, we plan to initiate an on-line trivia game. We have currently developed over 500 questions and answers which will serve as a test market for the concept. The Internet programmer will be required to develop a program that will allow full interaction (IE people playing the trivia game with other members of the Internet world). We plan to test market this concept in March 97.
Sales of the Information on Disk
The company is currently developing the business information database on a word processor. This information is organized in the same fashion as if it were the Internet. In other words, individuals may use their word processor to access the same information instead of connecting to the Internet. This method will prove advantageous for people who have a computer but are not connected to the Internet or for people who do not wish to spend their Internet hours viewing the 700 pages of information. Interested parties, however, would be required to pay a modest fee ($30.00) since the information would have to be placed on computer diskettes and distributed to the customer's desired location. Customers will be advised to utilize the "other services" provided only through our Internet Web Site. In addition, advertising space will be sold and placed on selected pages of the diskettes. We plan to promote this alternative on our web site possibly in March of 200X. The conservatory principal has been applied in the forecasted financial statements which excludes any anticipated revenues resulting from this endeavor.
The company plans to develop a tool that allows potential entrepreneurs to conduct market research for their planned business venture. Instead of individuals developing surveys and asking others to complete them (which many will not do), individuals would simply ask other users of our Web Site to fill out their surveys online. This will be an extremely popular service which will ultimately keep users coming back to our Web Site to see what new businesses people plan to open. Anticipated start date is July, 200X.
Staying motivated is an extremely important factor in the business planning and implementation phases. During these phases, many people lose confidence in their idea and eventually abandon an exceptional business opportunity. In July of 200X we plan to initiate a section that will ultimately keep potential entrepreneurs motivated and energized. By increasing a potential entrepreneur's confidence and motivation in their ideas, we are in essence stabilizing the number of users and traffic flow to our Web Site. Once again, this initiative is scheduled for July of 200X and will be updated on a regular basis.
Manual Accounting Training:
The initial information database as of February, 200X will provide training in the fundamental principles of accounting, as it relates to financial forecasting (forecasting financial statements). In August of 200X, however, we plan to initiate an accounting course where participants would obtain a greater knowledge of accounting as it relates to the day to day operations of a business. In other words, how to record business transactions, establishing a journal and a ledger system, year end adjustments and other general bookkeeping duties. Participants would be required to complete reading assignments and exercises. This training is important since it ultimately decreases the amount a business owner would pay professional accounting services. If a company can maintain its day to day accounting system, it can save hundreds of dollars in accounting fees. As well, management will be more equipped to make important financial decisions.
Many business owners lack the essential computer skills necessary to effectively compete in a competitive global environment. Moreover, training in spreadsheet applications, word processing applications, and computerized accounting applications, to name a few, will greatly enhance the efficiency and productivity of most business endeavors. Management, Brian Smith, has been providing such computer training to individuals on a regular basis for the past four (4) years. Moreover, much of this material has been developed, thus requiring minor revisions. By offering computer training we can essentially increase traffic flow to our web site. We plan to implement the computer training in September of 200X.
An investors group is similar to a Newsgroup. Its purpose is to "bring together" investors with entrepreneurs who need funding for their business endeavors. For example, if a business owner or a potential entrepreneur requires funding for their company they would post a message to the investor's group stating that he or she is in need of financing for their business. A brief description of the business endeavor would be posted and any interested investors would simply contact the entity vis-a- vis E-mail. The investee and potential investor then may communicate with one another privately in order to reach an agreement. This service is extremely easy to implement requiring very little labor or technical skills. The anticipated implementation date is scheduled for October of 200X.
Automatic Forecasting Financial Statements Software
Many people find forecasting financial statements a tedious and difficult task. In October 200X, the company plans to provide users of our Web Site with a software package that will automatically construct their forecasted financial statements. This software will construct statements required in analyzing the profitability of any proposed business venture; namely, forecasted income statement, forecasted balance sheet, forecasted cash flow statement, ratios, and break-even calculations. The individuals would simply fill in the "assumptions section" and their computer would automatically develop their three year forecasted financial statements.
On-Line Business Board Game
Several years ago, Brian Smith developed a business board game that allows players to challenge their business skills and knowledge. The product concept is beyond its development stage, however, it still requires a great deal of work and human resources before it's fully functional and Internet compatible. Further research will be given to this endeavor since it has potential of becoming a major revenue generator. Implementation date, if feasible, will occur in January, 200Y.
On-line Business Simulation:
A business simulation is a computer program used to improve an individual's business skills in areas of cash management, ordering materials, production, quality control, wages disbursement, understanding financial statements, setting prices, setting promotional campaigns, and so on. The business simulation allows individuals to form their own fictitious company and compete with other fictitious companies for market share. Participants of the simulation would be given complete details of the industry, the product that they are selling, and parameters or restrictions placed on the industry as a whole. Each week participants would fill out their company's "Decision Sheets". The Decision Sheets would allocate dollar amounts to raw material purchases, wages, quality control, maintenance, advertising, etc. The idea concept has already been developed, however, time is required for developing the program that will allow participants to compete against one another directly on the Internet. Implementation date is scheduled for January 200Y.
Other Planned Product:
The Internet Company plans to diversify into another market that has not yet been satisfied or adequately catered to. Much research has been conducted into this new and exciting market which is expected to generate huge profits. It is our intention, however, to create a sound capital base before we attempt to enter this market.
The following page provides a summary list of the above products and services along with their respective implementation dates.
SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL PRODUCTS & SERVICES:
|Products and Services||Scheduled Start Date|
|Self-Evaluation - Entrepreneurship Quiz||February, 200X|
|Entrepreneurship Club - Newsgroup||February, 200X|
|Problem Solving - Cases||February, 200X|
|Interactive Sample Business Plans||February, 200X|
|Small Business Publicity Column||February, 200X|
|Downloadable software||February, 200X|
|Tips of the Week||February, 200X|
|Business Mathematics||March, 200X|
|Business Trivia||March, 200X|
|Sale of Information on disk||April, 200X|
|Online Surveying||July, 200X|
|Motivational Techniques||July, 200X|
|Accounting Training||August, 200X|
|Computer Training Courses||September, 200X|
|Financial Forecasting Software||October, 200X|
|Investors Group||October, 200X|
|Business Board Game||January, 200Y|
|Business Simulation||January, 200Y|
|Other Markets||January, 200Y|
The above augmented products and services will certainly increase the number of users to our Web Site, thus enticing additional companies to place advertisements. Now lets briefly examine the potential users of our business training information and augmented services; namely our target markets.
TARGET MARKETS - USERS OF THE BUSINESS TRAINING
Various target markets or users of our business training information database can be identified. Not only will the general public utilize this information but we envision several profit and non-profit organizations exercising it. More specifically, individuals wishing to establish a business venture, individuals interested in learning more about business related concepts, fourth year university students enrolled in Business Administration, individuals looking for computer and accounting training, Internet Service Providers, economic development organizations, and other non-profit organizations are all considered potential users of the business information database. In -depth discussions of each of the above markets is provided under the Promotions Section of this plan. Now lets explore the reasons why this product seems desirable.
Why is this Information Needed:
The information in which we propose to offer is extremely important to both the individuals absorbing the information and to society as a whole. Lets begin this section by discussing the factors that motivate people into entrepreneurship and then summarize the skills required to be an entrepreneur.
Many factors that motivate people into new business development have been identified; wanting to be one's own boss, to be independent, the search for greater challenges, the opportunity to make more money or to secure an economic livelihood, seeing a compelling opportunity, wanting to have more freedom in making decisions, to have more control over the work one performs, lose of employment as a result of down sizing for example, and the desire for greater time flexibility. Although many factors motivate individuals to start a business venture, if the requisite personal and technical skills, however, are not present within, their chance of success is greatly reduced. Below lists some of the personal and technical skills required in owning and maintaining a business venture.
|Personal Skills Important for Entrepreneurs:|
|have a spirit of adventure||be persistent|
|have a strong need to achieve||be hard working and energetic|
|be self confident and self reliant||have a positive attitude|
|be goal oriented||be willing to take initiative|
|be innovative, creative and versatile||have a strong sense of commitment|
Technical Skills Important for Entrepreneurs:
|decision making||strategic planning|
|team building||knowledge of technology (computers, etc)|
We are not born with the above skills, rather they can be learned over a period of time. Therefore, we can say that entrepreneurs are not born entrepreneurs, they develop into entrepreneurs; usually through their own initiative and motivation. Now lets briefly discuss the role businesses have in an economy and the benefits entrepreneurship training has on our society.
Role of Business in the Economy:
Private enterprise and particularly small business development, play a vital role in any free market economy through its contributions to the GNP (gross national product), to employment, to innovation, and economic renewal, to stability in rural areas, to economic growth, to enhance utilization of human and capital resources, to trade, and to overall social and economic development. Moreover, society is critically dependant on the emergence of new, small and medium sized businesses and the retention of these businesses. Through entrepreneurship education the role of business in society becomes more important and is strengthened at the same time. Here's how entrepreneurship education can strengthen a society.
Importance of Entrepreneurship Education for Our Society:
Our business information database is intended to sculpture potential entrepreneurs by developing their personal and technical skills so that each is fully "equipped" for the road less traveled. By providing these people will the equipment necessary for the "game" they inevitably will play longer and be aware of the challenges that lie ahead. And in doing so, our society can advance closer to self sufficiency - through fewer bankruptcies, higher employment rates, greater innovations, fewer personal tensions, and so on.
Almost all new business startups required some sort of financing whether it be from a bank, the government, a family member, an outside investor, or venture capitalist. If an aspiring entrepreneur is not fully equipped with the personal skills and know how, many of these institutions will not provide financing - even if their idea is spectacular. Banks and governments fully support entrepreneurship and its movement, however, they are demanding more from potential entrepreneurs. They carefully scrutinize the technical and personal skills of the aspiring entrepreneur and their ability to implement their ideas into a profitable business (and rightfully so). These individuals are required to have comprehensive business plans and to fully understand all functional areas of their proposed business endeavor. Through our information and training, participants will not only develop the skills required in owning and maintaining a business, but they will greatly improve their chances of receiving the necessary financing required for their proposed business venture.
In summary, most understand the importance of business as it effects the economy and each member of society. Therefore, governments and other organizations highly endorse entrepreneurship as a viable career alternative. By providing extensive information and training, not only in entrepreneurship but in the difficulties entrepreneurs experience on a day to day basis, we will eventually "weed out" those "unsuited" for such an endeavor and develop the skills of those who are willing to sacrifice the time and money required. Many books, guides and articles have been published in order to provide training in owning and maintaining a business. Most of these sources, however, fall short since they do not provide thorough examples nor do they attempt to create situations that a business owner may experience.
Now lets take a look at The Internet Company's pricing policy and break-even point.
PRICING & BREAK-EVEN POINT
As mentioned earlier, revenue will be generated by selling advertising space to national and international corporations (sponsors). The average cost to a sponsor has been estimated at $3,200 for one year exposure. Each sponsor will be guaranteed 20 advertising locations throughout the business training information database. Their advertisements may consist of their logo, a logo and text, or a picture of their product with text. The size of the advertisements will vary depending on the advertisement selected. For example, a sponsor may decide on a banner or footer advertisement which will appear across the top or the bottom of selected pages. Other sponsors may wish to purchase a block ad that depicts their advertisement on the left hand side of selected pages. Some corporations may decide on a combination of banner, footer, and block advertisements. Whatever they choose, the process and development is extremely simple. Moreover, a color scanner is used to scan an image (logo) into the computer. These images are saved and "pasted" in various locations throughout the information database.
If you recall in earlier discussions, Jane Roberts, a renowned American author of various Internet publications, states that selling advertising space to corporations is a viable means of absorbing the costs of a company's Internet Web Site. Many people and organizations are using this approach and charging corporations anywhere from $200 (per ad, per week) or $10,400 (per ad, per year) to $2,500 per ad, per month or $30,000 per ad, per year. As you can see, overhead costs can be easily absorbed using this approach, however, the information must be useful, abundant, and interactive. All Internet Service Providers use this approach to assist in financing the costs required in maintaining their Internet Service. The price charged by Internet Service Providers are astounding - from $1,200 to $1,500 per ad per week or between $62,400 to $78,000 per ad per year. We plan to undercut all other companies who currently sell advertising space by offering annual and semi-annual advertising rates at "reduced" prices - averaging $3,200 per year.
The company's break-even analysis consists of determining the number of corporate sponsors required in order to achieve a net income of ZERO (0). Here are some of the assumptions required in determining our break-even point.
Below depicts our forecasted expenses, average selling prices, and contribution margins for 200X and 200Y. Verification of these forecasts can be viewed under the forecasted financial statements.
|Fixed Costs :||200X||200Y|
|Fixed Marketing Expenses||$ 15,784||$ 19,662|
|Fixed Administrative Expenses||$ 92,583||$123,092|
|Total Fixed Costs||$108,367||$142,754|
|Average Selling Price per Sponsor||$ 3,200||3,500|
|Variable costs per unit sold||$ 0.00||$ 0.00|
|Contribution Margin||$ 3,200||$3,500|
|(selling price - variable costs)|
|Break-even in corporate sponsors:|
|Contribution Margin||$ 3,200||$ 3,500|
|34 sponsors||41 sponsors|
Therefore, in order to break-even, The Internet Company must obtain 34 advertisers (sponsors) in 200X and 41 sponsors in 200Y. This break-even point seems easily attainable since the figures are based on a one year period. That means we have to attain 3.4 sponsors per month in 200X (34 sponsors divided by 10 months - March to December) and 3.4 sponsors per month in 200Y (41 sponsors divide by 12 months). Each sponsor we acquire above and beyond the break-even will be considered full profit and reinvested back into the company. In other words, in 200X each sponsor beyond the required 34 sponsors will provide the company with an average profit of $3,200. Thus, if the company receives 48 sponsors in 200X (4 sponsor per month), the company will achieve a net income before taxes of $44,800 (48 sponsors less 34 sponsors multiplied by the selling price of $3,200).
In summary, The Internet Company has great confidence in its ability to reach and surpass its break-even point. Now lets look at the company's promotional campaign and strategies.
For this business endeavor to be successful the company must effectively promote to two separate entities. First, users must be aware that our business training information is present on the Internet and secondly, we must persuade existing businesses that our Web Site is a viable method of promoting their products and services. The more successful we are at informing our target market about our Web Site information, the easier it will be to acquire corporate sponsors since more people will ultimately view the corporate sponsors' advertisements. Below we will discuss methods of promoting to both Users and Corporate Sponsors. Lets begin by discussing the methods required to inform users of our Web Site.
PROMOTING TO USERS - THE FIRST STEP
Hundreds of thousands of web sites are present in cyberspace (the Internet), however, most are not seen because either they are not accurately promoted or the web site developers are trying to sell something to Internet users who have little confidence in purchasing products over the Internet with their credit cards. Since our information is free to Internet users, we will not experience any difficulties in informing people of our presence. Our goal is to acquire 200,000 visits per month. This goal will be reached by promoting our Web Site through Internet newsgroups, Internet classified ads, Internet service providers, corporate web sites, search engines, economic development agencies, press releases, and through newspaper advertising. Seven of the above methods of promoting to Internet users are basically free to implement. Lets explore each medium starting with Internet Newsgroups.
Internet Newsgroups - Free:
Newsgroups are subject-specific electronic discussions on the Internet. They're like a community bulletin board where questions are posted on specific topics and others respond or answer the posted questions or messages . Approximately 12,000 Internet newsgroups are available on the Internet, each focusing on a specific topic.
Newsgroup promotion requires subtlety and tact. Rather then boosting about our product as required in Internet classified advertising, we will respond to messages or questions posted by others.
Many people in business Newsgroups ask other people this question "where can I find a sample business plan"?. People answering this question, in most cases, refer them to a United States federal agency known as The Small Business Administration (SBA). The sample business plan here, however is very basic and does not describe the steps required in obtaining the information and underlying assumptions. Our Internet specialist will "scan" business Newsgroups and direct our target market to our Web Site. Not only will this particular individual go to our site, but other people within the Newsgroups will be enticed upon reading the response. We can easily say this because many people using Newsgroups will read other people's questions and the responses made to each question. In other words, by attracting one person to our web site through newsgroups, we are possibly attracting hundreds of people.
Internet Classified Ads - Free:
An additional method of promoting our online presence is through classified advertisements. In the Internet world, classified advertising is like a discussion group or bulletin board. The only difference is that the message delivered contains advertisements rather than discussion about a particular topic. An online classified ad section contains a list of messages, each of which has a title. When people browse this section, they can scan the titles and then select a particular title to read. For example, our company may have a title such as "Learn How to Own Your Own Business - Free !!!!" When our target markets read this title they will invariable click their mouse to receive a message describing our free business training information. Our Web Site page address will be included in our message, thus allowing all interested parties the opportunity to view the site. The Internet specialist will post classified advertisements on a daily basis. Like Internet newsgroups, posting classified advertisements are free and will inevitably increase the traffic flow to our web site.
Internet Service Providers (ISP) - Free
Internet Service Providers (ISP) are companies that provide Internet accounts (and other related services) to organizations, individuals and businesses. Well known Internet Service Provides (ISP) include, Sympatico, Cycor, CompuServe, America on Line (AOL), and Prodigy to name a few. There are, however hundreds and hundreds of Internet Service Providers all of which are competing for increased market share by providing information and augmented services to their customers. By informing the ISP's of our extensive business training information, they would include our Web Site on a business related topic list. For example, Sympatico provides its customers with a "business" section and under that section is a subsection titled "Entrepreneurs on the Web". Entrepreneurs on the Web is a listing of many web sites that may provide "assistance" to entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs. If we were to receive a listing on this subsection, for instance, traffic flow to our Web Site would increase dramatically. In talking to several Internet Service Providers (ISP), they had indicated that this approach is realistic and Web Sites deemed "beneficial" to an ISP and their customers, would certainly be used and given an attractive location.
Through Corporate Web Sites - Free
Corporate Web Sites are Web Sites that have been developed by other companies in order to sell their products or services. We plan to contact various organizations and inform them of our Internet presence. Also, we will give them permission to use our information to improve the traffic flow to their own web site. For instance, the Bank of Montreal provides many services to business owners and potential business owners. By enticing more and more people into entrepreneurship, the need for corporate financing ultimately increases. Also, financial institutions want to lend to individuals and businesses who will not default on a loan. By providing in-depth information on owning and maintaining a business, it reduces the risk of any possible loan defaults and therefore increase their revenues. The financial institutions such as the Bank of Montreal would certainly entertain placing a "link" to our Web Site if, in fact, it could increase their revenues and reduce the risk they are required to assume. Other organizations that we plan to approach with this idea include the following;
|Small Business Administration (SBA)||SCORE|
|The American Business Institute||Financial Institutions|
|Industry Canada||Business Service Centers|
|Canadian Business Development Bank||Universities & Community Colleges|
|Other Development Agencies||Canada Opportunities Agency|
|Private Organizations||Other Web Sites ***|
*** Other Web Sites include personal and other organizational Web Sites that provide a listing of topic-specific locations for "Netizens" to explore. For instance, Queens University provides listings of various web sites that provide information important to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs. These suggested web sites do not pose a great threat to our company since we are positioning ourselves as a "one-stop entrepreneurship information center" where users may receive in depth training in all functional areas of a business and sophisticated business plan models. By gaining visibility on these web sites we will dramatically increase the traffic flow to our business training information database ( IE our web site).
Search Engines - free
A search engine is a tool used by many Internet users to locate specific types of information. Popular search engines include Yahoo, Excite, and Web Crawler to name a few. Since a great deal of information exists on the Internet, search engines have become extremely popular in helping Internet users find specific information. For example, a Internet user may want information on FREE BUSINESS TRAINING. If so, they would simply type this phase and the search engine would attempt to find any information that contains the words "free business training". If the search engine does not find any information or Web Site(s) containing these words, it would prompt the user to try other words or phrases.
When our Web Page is complete, we will construct a list of "Buzz" words or phases such as FREE BUSINESS TRAINING. When a search engine user, types in this phase, for instance, our Web Site will be listed along with a brief description. Interested parties would then click on our company name and immediately be transferred to our web site. By developing several buzz words and having them as precise as possible, we will inevitably increase the traffic to our Site.
Economic Development Agencies
Various development agencies will be contacted throughout Canada and the United States. The initial contact will be by phone, followed by a letter of reminder. Many of these organizations cater to individuals contemplating entrepreneurship as a career alternative. By informing these organizations of our product they can, in turn, refer individuals interested in owning a business venture to our web site. The cost of this endeavor is extremely minimal.
Publicity - Free
In order to gain further exposure, the company plans to develop press releases and distribute them to major newspapers, business oriented magazines, and Internet magazines throughout Canada and the United States. Our publicity objective is to inform the target markets of the company's Web Site and of the useful information contained within. We plan to further endorse entrepreneurship as a career alternative and stress the importance of training and planning as it relates to owning and maintaining a business venture. Our Web Site address will be included in the body of the press release so that interested parties may view the many services in which we provide.
Additional, press releases will be developed to reach fourth year business university students who are required to complete a comprehensive business plan. These releases will be constructed and distributed for release in university newspapers.
A relatively inexpensive promotional vehicle is newspaper advertising. By placing advertisements in selected North American newspapers we can further increase visibility and traffic flow to our corporate Web Site. Since we are not selling the information within our web site, this form of advertising will be considered highly acceptable and can be viewed as goodwill to the community.
Newspaper advertising will be used in conjunction with our publicity campaign. For instance, some newspapers will write a publicity article on a company and its product, in exchange, for a paid advertisement in their newspaper. We plan to monitor this activity very closely and place advertisements only in papers that are deemed to create a significant traffic flow. Alternatively, we plan to partner with several major newspapers. If successful, promotional services can be traded without any monetary outlays. For example, we may offer free advertising space to selected newspapers in exchange for publicity and free advertising messages. This approach will prove beneficial by increasing the number of users at an alarming rate.
Internet Newsgroups, Internet Classified Advertisements, Internet Service Providers, existing Web Sites, through Search Engines, promotion to Economic Development Agencies, Publicity Campaigns, and Newspaper Advertisements will provide the company with exceptional exposure and visibility and thus increase the number of visitors to our web site. By increasing the number of users to our web site, we are ultimately increasing the number of people seeing the sponsors' advertisements. As you can see, our promotional campaign for attracting users to our Web Site is essentially free and requires very little time to plan and implement (with the exception of newspaper advertising which a budget of $2,500 has been allocated to the 200X marketing campaign).
In summary, the company's objective is to maintain 200,000 visits per month. This forecasted traffic is not unrealistic and certainly will entice sponsors into buying advertising space. Lets now explore the methods of promoting to corporate sponsors.
PROMOTING TO CORPORATE SPONSORS - STEP TWO
Now that we have examined the methods of attracting people to our web site, it is imperative to look at the approaches necessary for acquiring corporate sponsors and, hence, revenue. As indicated under the pricing section, The Internet Company plans to sell advertising space to each corporate sponsor at an average of $3,200 per year (substantially lower than the "going rate"). Also, we anticipate to acquire forty (40) national and international corporate sponsors in 200X and fifty (50) corporate sponsors in 200Y. These sales objectives will materialize by using various promotional models such as personal selling, correspondence, promotional kits, publicity, and Web Site communications. Below, briefly describes the steps we plan to take in order to entice local, national and international corporations into buying advertising space.
Promoting to Local Companies:
As mentioned earlier, The Internet Company will begin soliciting local firms from the county of Wild Stone Creek, Mississippi in late February, 200X. As indicated in the forecasted financial statements, local companies will be charged $500 (per year) for twenty (20) advertising locations throughout the business training information web site. This strategy will in fact serve two purposes; 1) act as revenue generator in the initial stages of operations as we develop the demographic information necessary for enticing major corporations and 2) allow us to test our communication strategy.
The promotional tools used in soliciting local companies will be through personal selling and information packages. An "appointment" will be made with selected businesses (potential sponsors) in order for us to demonstrate the merits of our product and the benefits it may provide to both the residents and the sponsoring organizations of Wild Stone Creek, Mississippi. We anticipate selling advertising space to both profit and non-profit organizations throughout the county of Wild Stone Creek. We are forecasting that 20 local sponsors will purchase advertising space which is extremely low considering the cost, benefits, and experience of our sales agent within this region. Now lets look at the manner in which we plan to attract national and international sponsors.
Promoting to Major Corporations
The Internet Company's initial contact to national and international sponsors will be by way of telephone. Moreover, corporations will be informed of our product and the several benefits it holds as a advertising and promotional vehicle. After two months on the Internet, we will be equipped with the demographics of our users, allowing us to better target the companies to sell advertising space to. In other words, we will have a breakdown of the number of users by age, sex, family size, occupation, average household income, geographic location, and other important information. Each corporation (sponsor) will be advised to visit our web site so that they can receive an appreciation of its quality. Also, each corporation will be given their own PASSWORD allowing them access to the "Sponsor Information Section" (on our Web Site). This section will throughly discuss user demographics and advertising rates. By providing each corporation with their own password, we can ultimately monitor those corporations who take the time to visit our web site and read the "Sponsor information Section". Those corporations not reading this information are assumed to be too busy or unable to see the benefit in buying advertising space. Moreover, these corporations would later receive a promotional kit - moving them further along their "buyers readiness state". A phone call will follow the promotional kit - acting as a reminder of our existence and the services in which we provide. Alternatively, corporations who do take the time to visit our Web Site and, hence, read the Sponsor Information Section, will be contacted for feedback purposes and possibly a sale. This contact is necessary only in the case where entities have not yet contacted us vis-a-vis E-mail, phone, or by some other means.
Another method of promoting our product/service to corporations is through advertising agencies or marketing firms. These firms are designed to assist corporations in allocating advertising and promotional dollars. They attempt to use media vehicles that reach a company's specified target market. By informing such agencies across Canada and the United States of our presence, we will ultimately increase our exposure and network. In essence, these advertising agencies can be viewed as our major, 'unpaid', sales-force - contacting us whenever a company's product is targeted towards the majority of users of our web site.
Although we have various strategies to entice corporate sponsors into buying advertising space, we feel that promotional kits will be our main thrust. Moreover, "successful organizations selling advertising space over the Internet to national and international corporations develop promotional kits as an additional selling tool." Promotional kits are information packages that throughly describe a firm's product(s) (service(s)) and attempts to outline the benefits gained by utilizing such products and services. A promotional kit, as it relates to the advertising industry, will throughly explain the medium being used and the benefits of using such a media. In essence, The Internet Company is using the Internet as a means of promoting, not only "needed" information, but also the merit of various sponsoring organizations. Since corporations sell many products and services that are geared towards specific segments of the marketplace, these entities are required to place their advertisements in locations that will "reach" a large percentage of their defined target audience [segment(s)]. If users of our Web Site match a company's target market(s), then these corporations will buy advertising space form us.
As mentioned earlier, the most important component in our promotional campaign is, in fact, the methods of attracting as many users as possible to our web site. A great deal of time has been spent on researching these methods which are anticipated to attract 200,000 visitors each month. When a large user clientele has been established and their demographics have been determined, we can then offer corporations an additional means of reaching their desired target markets. Now lets examine the expected costs of the company's promotional campaign.
COST OF THE PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN:
The Internet Company will hire Resource Marketing Associates Inc., a local marketing agency, to assist in the development of our communication plan and promotional materials. The required materials include an ID package (logo, business cards, letterhead, envelops, etc), Brochures, Photographs and Images, and Presentation Kit Folders. Also, we have allowed for twenty hours of consultation which will bring additional "balance" to our firm. The estimated 200X after tax cost of the above promotional items are summarized below. The actual quotation can be viewed in the appendix of the business plan.
|ID Package||$ 2,848.80|
|Photography & Images||$ 706.20|
|Presentation Kit Folders||$ 3,696.67|
Since the promotional kits will be sent to national and international corporations, it is imperative to use high quality promotional materials. This will provide the company with a strong positioning image that will coincide with our product and augmented services. Resource Marketing Associates Inc. has been chosen based on its ability to assist us in achieving our positioning objective, its cost of quality printing and materials, and its established national and international network of resources which The Internet Company will certainly utilize.
Other marketing costs scheduled for 200X include distribution of the promotional kits and print advertising. Furthermore, we have budgeted the following amounts for these additional items;
|Print Advertising||$ 2,500|
|Distribution of Kits||$ 500|
|Total Other Marketing Costs||$3,000|
Therefore, the total marketing budget for 200X, is estimated at $15,784, most of which will be required in March and April, 200X. For actual dollar disbursements, please refer to the 200X forecasted cash flow statement.