Do I really need a business plan for this Internet thingamajig?

by ellush
22 replies
OK, so I have this website (among many) that was my original darling, the hobby site that craved, and got, much of my attention a year or two ago. It hardly gets any of that sweet, tender loving anymore, but still pulls in some decent stats (PR4, 100k page views a month, 2k followers on Twitter) and still raises interest.

The site is basically a guide to the country I reside in, a guide to the good AND bad. People have even told me they've used my site to fully plan their vacation, which made me feel all fuzzy and warm...

Now, with my wife fully on board (she's a great saleswoman and has a few hours spare during the week after going part-time), we've decided to give this site a real GO. But my question is, HOW?

I've scoured the forums here many a time, and have loads of ideas floating about in my head. But how do I make this site work - without converting it into an ad-riddled monster?

People have told us we need a business plan, a business plan, and, of course, a business plan.

But do we really?

My thoughts are leaning towards getting a Facebook fan page for the site, making it go viral with some nice prizes, building a list through that, and generally getting some decent advertisers on board.

But what do you guys think? Any suggestions? Any sure-fire tricks to get people on to a list, or to get advertisers begging for an ad spot on my site?

Cheers!
#business #internet #plan #thingamajig
  • Profile picture of the author abnation
    This interests me greatly.
    I'm actually working on a social network of a similar kind right now (not gonna reveal much here, lets just say it revolves around users submitting their maps of their places. We'll be going live rather soon).

    Now, your business model (and you shoudl have one, IMHO) needs to be adjusted to the type of reveneu, traffic and traffic type you are likely to receive. Consider that ad-riddled monsters are usually sites that do not benefit from reacuring visitors, thus they need to make the best buck in that short time when a user is actually browsing around, looking for information. Will your site be of that type? If not, then you are right, other monetization models might be more suitable.

    Could you sell targeted adspace, provide feature listings and so on to local businesses and venues? Something that would benefit your visitors as well as provide your local business community with another sales channel?

    Could you offer several membership levels to your visitors? A free one gets you this and this much while a VIP member (or maybe exclusive VIP??) might gain access to hidden resources on your site? Maybe a guide to shoppign in your country? Cheap hotels guide? Or a guide to whatever it is your country is famous for.

    Anyhow, I believe there are a tonne of possibilities with these kinds of sites, but you will have to determind the current state of your resource as well as your future plans for this website.

    Hope this helps you a little.

    Cheers,

    Chris
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  • Profile picture of the author blalock61
    If you don't have a business plan, you don't have a business. You have a hobby.

    Like my daddy all ways told me: Don't let yourself fall victim to the four P's.

    Piss
    Poor
    Prior
    Preparation
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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      If you don't plot out the map, how will you know where you are going or where you are supposed to wind up?
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      "May I have ten thousand marbles, please?"

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  • Profile picture of the author JonAlfredsson
    Business is still business whether you do it online or in a conventional way. a business plan is important as it can help you to be organize and still look for ways on how you can improve it. with a business plan, you will not only assess your business but also your competition for comparison.
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    • Profile picture of the author bryllescot
      Originally Posted by JonAlfredsson View Post

      Business is still business whether you do it online or in a conventional way. a business plan is important as it can help you to be organize and still look for ways on how you can improve it. with a business plan, you will not only assess your business but also your competition for comparison.
      Yes, I agree... No matter what kind of business it is, it would still a business and a business does need thorough planning. Your business plan is one of the key to have business success..
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  • Quite frankly, I started without a business plan and I'm not 100% sure I even "know" what a business plan is... but I still make a good living out my sites so... My advise is that you get walking before you worry about how to get running.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Newman
    Hello,

    Action and planning are not mutually exclusive.Part of your plan should be to do more research,check out people with similar business models to yours (those who are successful).I think you will achieve a higher level of success if you have a business plan.You should highlight your objectives and the specific strategies that will help you achieve them.

    Of course,there is no substitute for action.I think they complement each other.Just don't use the BP as an excuse not to take action.Don't expect that everything will be perfect.

    I wish you success.

    Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author ellush
    OK, thanks guys.
    Nice points Chris, I am looking to create some kind of listings feature, a kind of local directory. And I have some resources, though not unlimited.

    I should point out that the wife is set to meet a local small business organization next week, to hopefully get some guidance. I'm just not so sure they're as clued up to the power of the Net as they could be...
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    • Profile picture of the author SantiSantana
      Everything you have pointed out, the facebook fan page, the directory... they are tools, not the plan.

      So picture the scene: you go to a hardware store and start browsing. "NIce jackhammer! I´d love to have one!" or " that Star wars themed lawn mower sure would look good back home". You get the two of them. You get home. Missus looks at you:

      " Dear, we have a foundation problem at home. I don´t know if the jackhammer will help solve it s im not an expert but I´m definitely not so sure about that thing with R2D2´s head on it. How about you get a Surveyor or a building contractor to tell you what the real problem is, what causes it, how do we solve it and which tools do we need? maybe then you would know what to buy at the hardware store".

      You need a business plan. Definitely. Abusiness plan doesn´t have to be a 200 page report that will gather dust on a drawer. A self employed plumber can have a business plan drafted in no more than a single page.

      In your plan you need to know where you are now with the business, where you want to bein 1, 3 and (or) 5 years time.

      You need to writedown what your vision is for the business, what you want it to achieve and if possible how. Saying I want it to make money is not enough:

      - You need to know how to monetize it: affiliate marketing, partnering with a travel agent, selling advertising space, pure content with Adsense as the only means of revenue, all or some of the above together or some way not mentioned there.

      - You need to have an exit plan: would you be willing to sell it if someone came and said I´ll buy it? how much would it sell for? how do I calculate that? Do I want to keep it instead? Do I want o grow it to the point where it would go way beyond what my current plan is with it?

      - You should crunch some numbers (I could write on and on about this one because I love this part but I´ll leave it at that for now).

      - You should do a basic SWOT analysis


      And possibly a few other things that now escape me because I just woke up ( night shift is a killer).

      Don´t be scared if all of what I just wrote seems like an abyss you can´t cross. It´s just not the case. There are many organizations that will help you create your business plan, even free of charge (many banks will even give you a simple software kit to do it, It happens in UK, I´m sure other places have other ways too.)

      Once you have these few things placed in your mind you will look at your business as... well... a business, rather than a thingamajig.

      Most people don´t understand the incredible opportunity the Internet represents. For the first time ever you can setup a full blown business at only a fraction of the cost of a bricks and mortar one.

      Problem is, in most people´s mind, the fact that you cand do this with so little risks means they don´t feel the pressure to perform they would if they had bought or rented office space, where paying 3 or 4 full time employees, business supplies, commuting costs, etc.

      Don´t allow yourself to think because you don´t have those expenses and you don´t lose much if it doesn´t work you can just do whatever. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of the world to make the damn thing work. I want to visit your country ( I know because I want to visit every country in the world), and if I end up having a ****ty experience because I read some other guy´s website and he wasn´t anywhere near as good as you with his guide I will be very pissed off, because he failed... and so did you.

      Of course this is just my personal opinion, so feel free to disregard it at your earliest convenience.
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  • Profile picture of the author LovelyCornSyrup
    You need a business plan so don't throw all you eggs into a single basket. In other words, just because you're making good money with a single method doesn't mean that one method should be your entire business. If that method should no longer work thanks to competitors, Google, or whatever your business is sunk.
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    No fancy products, just stuff that works: The Gutenberg Diagram | Pareto Principle
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  • Profile picture of the author ellush
    Good stuff Santi!

    I think you're spot on about lack of pressure building a business online because of the relative lack of investment needed. I feel that lack of pressure a bit, so will have to change my mindset. The wife already has that mindset, fortunately.
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    • Profile picture of the author rrm
      If you don't have a goal(s) or plans to get there (call it a business plan, an action plan, or just a plain ol' plan), how will you know what you need to do, how you need to do it, and whether what you did was worth it?

      I can guarantee you only one thing: if you don't have a goal, you will surely get there.

      Ron
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      It's not enough to want it... you have to want it enough.

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  • Profile picture of the author kenny5
    That Facebook thing is a good idea. You could also create a product related to what is on your website, and sell it on your site.

    Just my two cents
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  • Originally Posted by ellush View Post

    People have told us we need a business plan, a business plan, and, of course, a business plan.

    But do we really? But what do you guys think? Any suggestions? Any sure-fire tricks to get people on to a list, or to get advertisers begging for an ad spot on my site?
    Having a plan is very helpful. A good plan helps you pick among the "best of the best" -- at the time and monitor your efforts.

    It gives you a starting point, middle point and ending point.

    Find yourself a copy of the One Page Business Plan for Consultants or Creative Entrepreneur. I'm sure you'll find it worthwhile.
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    Maria Marsala,
    Financial Advisors Coach, Author, Speaker at http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com/

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  • Profile picture of the author thomarv29
    Only if you want to raise capital
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    Im president of White Label Links Inc. A leading SEO and Internet marketing company based out of Jacksonville FL

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  • Profile picture of the author pethanks
    If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Therefore planning is very important.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    Your plan is mainly to provide you with action steps to follow, so that you do not get distracted or lose focus along the way. You want to actually write it out and post it in a prominent place in your home or office where you can see it every day, and be reminded of its importance.

    In my opinion, one of the easier ways to build a buzz around your website and get potential advertisers excited is to build a massive social campaign around it with Twitter and Facebook, and it wouldn't hurt to run contests and give away attractive prizes in the beginning to get that big initial burst of visitors.

    At the very least, you need to have an action plan for what to do daily with your social media promotion so that you don't neglect and overlook anything. Ideally, you'd want to have a general business plan that's fairly detailed, and encompasses this and everything else that you have planned for your business.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jacqueline Smith
    The process of preparing a business plan makes you really think both short and long term about your plans. It can often save you from learning the hard way later on and having to back track.

    It may seem like a boring task but can actually be very interesting and enlightening.

    Good Luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author Warren Tibbotts
    Yes, a business plan is essential for any business. It can often be a moving and changing landscape, but you need to always start with something, and it should written down, not just in your head!
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    • Profile picture of the author dawnbreaker
      Originally Posted by Warren Tibbotts View Post

      Yes, a business plan is essential for any business. It can often be a moving and changing landscape, but you need to always start with something, and it should written down, not just in your head!
      Your right! And He should include listing those plans and steps he fails to implement. In one or way or another, this can help us not to keep on repeating the plans we already fails to achieved.
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  • Profile picture of the author FamBizDoc
    Everybody has a plan, but often not written down. I use the One Page Business Plan with clients. There are five simple questions:
    1. What am i building? (Vision)
    2.What is the purpose of my company? (Mission)
    3. What will I measure? (Objectives)
    4. What needs to be done for long term success? (Strategy)
    5. What are the specific steps I need to do now? (Action Steps)

    Jim Horan's book, The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur is a great introduction and resource.

    Many people benefit from going through the process with a consultant or coach. A One Page Business Plan consultant can guide you through drafting and revising your business plan and creating a desktop or online version that becomes a living process, including resources for monitoring progress.

    Will be happy to provide more info or online demo.
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