You can’t be everything to everyone.


In marketing a business or a product, the question should be asked who are we trying to reach with this product or service? For example, people wear clothes for warmth and modesty, but what customer would be interested in your specific item? Are you marketing to someone in high fashion wanting to be on the cutting edge of design or to an oil field worker needing rugged clothes that can last harsh conditions? Knowing who will be likely to purchase your goods comes down to what problem does it solve. The oil field worker needs durable clothes that can withstand chemicals, wicks moisture away, and are made from materials that are resistant to tearing. If you are offering something for this line of work, then that customer segment would fit your ideal customer. Not to say that other people could be customers, but they would be secondary.


If your product delivers these qualities, then you must look at what problems does it solve beyond what is already offered by other products. The marketing of the product should reflex the problem solving to your customer and should drive your marketing message. The marketing message should be an idea or concept that the customer can associate with your product. Nike’s tagline of “Just Do It” has been around for decades but still is associated with products and lifestyles. The marketing message should be used throughout the marketing campaign and add to the product image.


Lastly, the marketing campaign should be directed to generate results. Just as we identified that there are different ideal customers for high fashion and sturdy work clothes, there are different avenues to market to these different groups. Using the examples above, high fashion would be advertised in fashion magazines whereas work clothes would not. Using the ideal customer model, the marketing team should look at where the customer would have contact with the advertisement. With the growth of online marketing is the use of social media and websites, a business can target their customers to ensure that the correct demographic could see the marketing campaign.

Jantsch, B. J. (2006). by John Jantsch Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide (text only)[Paperback]2008. Thomas Nelson.

Blog II

If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” – Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett makes an interesting point with this quote about business. This point can be used about brick and mortar companies needing to find ways to do business even when the doors are closed. This can be accomplished with a robust website allowing customers to shop online 24 hours a day. However, to add to the last blog post, I will be mentioning how this can be applied to blogs, vlogs, or other websites.

Blog and vlogs are interesting in that they can be monetized and draw revenue anytime that a person views them. A prime example of this platform that most people are familiar with is YouTube. Once you have enough views and subscribers you can make money every time someone watches one of your videos. The following is what is needed to be a partner and become monetized for YouTube.

  • Have at least 1,000 subscribers
  • Reach 4,000 valid public watch hours in the past 12 months
  • Sign and agree to the terms and conditions
  • Have an AdSense account
  • Get reviewed and approved

Once you have become a partner, then you can choose to make money from advertisements that are placed in the videos.

The interesting thing is that the revenue is not limited to YouTube and advertisements. The other way to make money is the use of affiliated links and sponsorship. Affiliated links are links to products or services that the YouTuber might mention in the video with a link to the website of said products or services. When a viewer clicks the link, a code is generated with the website and the YouTuber receives a portion of the sale. Sponsorship is when a brand or company pays a person to wear or endorse their products in the video. Lastly, another way to generate money is from the sale of merchandise. Many YouTubers have their website where they sell products with their logos for fans of their channel. This form of merchandising can be used by regular brick and mortar establishments to drive business to their website.

 All of this sounds well and good but how do you get to the place where you can earn your first check from YouTube? As mentioned in the last post, it’s all about content. Content can be broken into three categories; what you post, how often you post, and the quality of the post. A person should focus on “what” they post in two ways, either entertainment or educational. To have viewers subscribe and follow your channel, you need to have videos that meet a niche that makes them want to watch not only the videos you have posted, but want to know when you have posted new videos. Next, the frequency of your posts should be addressed. The more videos you post the more chances you have for a viewer to find your channel. The last thing to consider, and in most opinions, the most important, is the quality of the videos you post. A channel can have strong content but have a poor-quality video you will not gain followers.

Source: Mint. (2021, February 19). How Much Do Youtubers Make & How to Become a Youtuber. MintLife Blog. https://mint.intuit.com/blog/relationships/how-much-do-youtubers-make-5035/#:%7E:text=%2414.89%20billion%20increase.-,How%20many%20views%20do%20YouTubers%20need%20to%20get%20paid%3F,receive%20%245%20per%201%2C000%20views.

Blog

If I was honest with myself and those reading this, if I said when this program started, I didn’t understand what a blog was. The first assignment in the program was to make a blog and share the web address on the discussion board. That sounded easy enough for a person that works with computers every day. Make a webpage and post content, two simple things for having a blog. However, I never felt comfortable about posting on the blog, because most things that I was working on for the class had to be posted on the discussion board, so why should I post on the blog? Over the last week, I have done some honest research about blogs and vlogs.


I have never been the type of person that liked to write about myself. Even as a child, I would hear about friends that had their journals taken, and their thoughts shared without their consent. These events caused me to be guarded about putting my thoughts to paper, short of academic writing. With this mentality, I never understood what would drive a person to write all their thoughts out for others to read and judge them. The more I researched “blogging” I came to realize that having a blog isn’t only about sharing thoughts but can be about sharing experiences or skills.


I thought about the program’s assignment and concentrated on the business side of blogging. Firstly, how can a person have a blog that generates money? In principle, it comes down to content and the hosting of the content. If the author/content is interesting, engaging, and appealing then readers visit the page which equates to views or visits. When a blog has enough people visiting the page, the author can have the page monetized with advertisements. The more people view the page, the more that the advertisers will pay the author.


All of this sounds too easy; pick a topic, write, and get paid. But the truth is that it can be easy or extremely hard. Making money from a blog uses the same principles as most businesses. What sets you apart from the competition, who is your target market or audience, and the advertising to attract customers or in this case readers to your site. The principle of business that affects blogs the most, is what sets you apart. As mentioned, several times, it is all about content.

Harvesting Plan/Exit Strategy

Many entrepreneurs view their venture as something more than just a business. The venture is something that they dreamed about, built from nothing more than just an idea, and have a hard time picturing anyone running it in any way beyond how they think it should be run. This thought process has blinded these entrepreneurs from seeing the inevitable, they need an exit plan. Unfortunately, until this assignment, I was one of these individuals that never gave much thought about how or when I would want to step down from a proposed venture.

As I looked at the many ways that a business owner can step down from a company and implement an exit plan, the one that stood out to me the best was the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP is a “retirement plan that allows employees to own a share of the business they work for” (Watkins, 2020). An ESOP is like profit-sharing programs except instead of paying employees dividends at the end of the year, an employee can either earn or buy a share of the company. These shares in the company are held by the employees until the time of retirement or leaving the company.

After a feasibility study and valuation of the business, an ESOP attorney can be hired to draft the plan to be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After the plan is accepted by the IRS, an ESOP can be set up by starting a trust fund (NCEO, 2016). Employees at this point can own shares of the company.

The advantages of an ESOP for the company is that the company has a way to obtain extra cash to upgrade equipment or expand. The advantages of an ESOP for the owner is that the owner can take out money to fund retirement while transferring ownership to the employees that have helped build the company into what it is at that point (ESOP, 2020). The advantages for the employees are that they will not be taxed for contributions to the ESOP plan.

The disadvantages of an ESOP are that it is not easy, fast, or cheap. The company needs to have enough cash available to buy back stock from employees that retire or leave. And lastly when the company is good well in the market ESOP is a strong investment, but if the company is doing poorly the threat of losing a job is compounded by possibly losing their investment.

An ESOP is a sound exit plan when the company is sound. By having shares of the company, employees are part owners of the company. By being part owners of the company, studies show that employees are more invested in the company and work harder to see the goals of the company met. Work satisfaction is higher in employees that are part owners. Ultimately, the owner knows that when the time comes to leave that the business is being run by people that want to see success even though the owner is no longer there.

ESOP. (2020). ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Facts. ESOP.ORG. https://www.esop.org/

NCEO. (2016). Steps to Setting Up an ESOP | NCEO. Nceo.Org. https://www.nceo.org/articles/setting-up-esop

Watkins, D. (2020). What Is an ESOP Plan? Chron.Com. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/esop-plan-888.html

Could your garage, basement, or spare room be your second source of income?

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that most people could use a second source of income that is social distance acceptable. Last year the big way to generate a second income was though renting out a vacant room or house to strangers. The only real labor in this venture was ensuring the house was cleaned and stocked for their guests.  This concept afforded many families a second income, but the drawback this year is that many people aren’t traveling and are leery of being in someone’s home that they don’t know.

Since renting out these spaces is slow, there are other ways to utilize them to make money. Plenty of people have turned hobbies into cash as of late doing, things that people want or don’t want to; building/craftwork, assembling furniture, fixing electronics, or digital online work. Some of these allow you to work part-time for someone else, however, there are ways to work for yourself and set your hours.

I will take the example of printing shirts in your garage. Silk screening shirts is a business that is scalable to the amount of time that you want to invest. Some people have online t-shirt printing businesses that are running out of their garage and make shirts in the evenings and weekends while working a regular job. I know the first thing you are thinking; I don’t know the first thing about how to silkscreen. That is probably the easiest part to sort out, just watch videos online and read the manuals. The second thing you will think; I can’t afford the equipment to try something like that. Which turns out isn’t that hard either.

When trying to gather money together to turn a hobby/interest into a business, an easy way to get customers, as well as your start-up money, is two simple words Crowd Funding. Every day while scrolling through any social media, you will see advertisements or crowd sourcing style campaigns of people or businesses that are trying to get people to help launch a concept. If you have clicked on one of these links, you will have seen the business offering to give the person donating some reward for different donation amounts.

Let’s go back and look at the example of t-shirts. A person wanting to crowd fund a silk-screening start-up can use a reward system that not only gets donations but gets future customers while getting your name out there. By offering several donations tiers, you allow for different people to be involved. Some examples are as follows:

$1-5 show your support

$15 a limited first run shirt

$20 a customized first run shirt

$100 family bundle

$200 business pack

(These numbers and prices are just ideas. Before offering these rewards, research how much the cost per shirt and ink will cost to know that you will be able to fulfill your promise.)

After you have your idea for the business and the rewards, the next thing you will need is an amount that you need to raise. At this point, you will need to add up all the costs of equipment and resources to not only launch the idea but fund your obligations to your donors. Using our t-shirt example, find a t-shirt printing machine to meet your needs, the cost of the shirts to fulfill the orders from the donors, and then the raw materials of ink and such. Once you have a total for your campaign goal, set a number slightly above your goal.

Before you launch your campaign, you need to sell your idea to friends and family. You will need the maximum amount of people to know about your idea and be willing to share with their connections in real life and via social media. Another route is something that will cost in the beginning but can pay off, in the long run, is to buy advertisements on social media.

The final step is to launch the campaign. If the campaign goal is met, you collect from the website and then you can launch the business from your home with your first customers. If the campaign fails, you can go back to the drawing board, but you haven’t invested a lot of money on a project that people were not interested in.

It takes money to make money.

About three weeks ago, I was sitting with my children discussing their latest idea to start a kids’ business. They have this notion of making oatmeal cookies to sell to make some money to buy a game console that they have been eyeing. While the cookies are rather tasty, and I love their enthusiasm for trying to come with an idea to get the console without resorting to begging, I had them lay out their concept and how they would accomplish their goals. Like many entrepreneurs, they had a product, they had the start-up funds, but they didn’t think of all the additional costs to get the product to their market. They wanted to mail the cookies to friends and family, this concept led me to tell them about shipping costs. While this is a simple issue to fix by adding additional cost to the cookies’ final price it showed them that “It takes money to make money.”

In Roger’s, Entrepreneurial Finance, he states that businesses can fail from not having cash to cover costs while a business wait for customers to pay for products or services.  One of the main reasons for a lack of cash is caused by the Cash Gap (Rogers, 2020, pp. 123-127). The Cash Gap is caused by a period from when the business spends money on resources until the customer pays for the final product. The way that this gap affects the business is that having inventory or customers owing you money does not pay for the utilities or wages for laborers.

To better understand the Cash Gap lets investigate the factors of the Cash Gap. The three factors that cause the Cash Gap are; DAYS PAYABLE, INVENTORY DAYS, and DAYS RECEIVABLE.

Days payable is the amount of time that the supplier gives your business to pay for your resources to sell to your customer.

Inventory time is the amount of time your products sit on a shelf waiting to be sold. If your business produces the final product, the inventory time before production should be investigated to determine if it needs to be added to the inventory days.

Days receivable is the amount of time that your product is no longer in your possession, yet you have not been paid yet.

The Cash Gap can be calculated by the following formula;

Inventory days + Days receivable – Days payable = the Total Cash Gap.

To increase cash to pay for business needs, the business should be looking into how to lower the Cash Gap. By increasing or decreasing the days for each of the three factors of the Cash Gap, a business can have more cash on hand.

Days payable; can be altered by paying for supplies at the maximum amount authorized by your supplier. Talking with your supplier to extend your timeline to add day can be viewed in the same way as getting a no-interest loan on supplies. Remember that as you are trying to keep you Cash Gap as small as possible your supplier will be looking to do the same, so work with them and not against them.

Inventory days; can be reduced by ordering what only what you need. Having bench stock a good practice to ensure that you don’t run out of supplies when trying to fulfill product orders, however, having too much can tie up funds during this period that will not be turned into profit until the next period. Businesses in retail know that not having product on the shelf means that when customers are looking for the product and leave your establishment that is money walking out of the door. By managing an inventory accounting process will allow the business to have the product on hand without having too much in the stockroom.

Days receivable; is the hardest thing to manage because you cannot always make a customer pay for products and services rendered when the bill is posted. While this factor is the hardest to control, there are things in which a prudent business can do to limit the waiting period. Before opening lines of credit from your business know the business history. Asking for references and look at their history of how well they pay will keep you from going into a business relationship blind. If a business doesn’t have a track record that meets your standard, your business can investigate other options such as; partial payments upfront, cash on delivery, or be paid in full before they take possession of the product.

By lowering inventory days and days receivable and gaining additional time on days payable a business can lower their Cash Gap and not only have funds for more resources but have the funds to pay the employees that keep the business going.

Source:

Rogers, S. (2020). Entrepreneurial Finance, Fourth Edition: Finance and Business Strategies for the Serious Entrepreneur (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Crowd Start

Crowdfunding can be a powerful way for a business, project, or organization to generate capital. Crowdfunding is not a new concept for the internet with the first successfully known event in 1997. A British rock band, named Marillion, raised $60,000 to fund a U.S. tour by their fans (Startups.com, 2020). There are many different types of crowdfunding, but the most notable ones are peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding, rewards-based crowdfunding, and donation-based crowdfunding.

Peer-to-peer lending; this form of crowdfunding is when friends and family loan money to launch a project or venture with the understanding that they will be paid back (all so known as bootstrapping).

Equity crowdfunding; this form of crowdfunding is when an investor or investors loan money and gain a stake in the business (Angel investing or stocks).

Rewards-based crowdfunding; this form of crowdfunding is when people donate to a business or project and receive goods or products which are tiered based on the amount donated (Kickstarter).

Donation-based crowdfunding; this form of crowdfunding is when people donate to a cause or project with no expectation of compensation or products (Gofundme).

Ariel Hyatt doesn’t specifically tailor the book, Crowdstart: The Ultimate Guide to a Powerful and Profitable Crowdfunding Campaign, to one specific type of crowdfunding campaign. Ariel Hyatt does not gear the book Crowdstart to the which platform the campaign should use or how to reward customers or investors but focuses on the path to a successful campaign. Crowdstart is divided into five sections; The Basics, No Crowd No Crowdfunding, Building A Great Crowdfunding Campaign, Your Complete Crowdstart Roadmap, and Five Secret for Greater Campaign Success. (Hyatt, 2016)

In our society, it is all too often that we are expected to take advice from authors, celebrities, and other business personalities about how to conduct our lives and this advice doesn’t work for the person giving it, then why should we listen. Ariel Hyatt had an interesting way of making me take notice of her point of view. Crowdstart, the book about crowdfunding, was actually funded by crowdfunding. Ariel Hyatt doesn’t just write about crowdfunding, but she works with independent musicians to help them launch their products which use the same techniques that she describes in the Crowdstart.

After finishing the book, I think the part that sticks out is the simple concept of being engaged with your supporters. Having a huge following on social media is not required with the help of advertising but keeping in contact with your supporters whether they are new or have been friends for years, contact is the key. Supporters in crowdfunding are buying into an idea or lifestyle and want to be informed on how things are going with the project or launch. A project doesn’t have to be covered on every social media platform but needs to have a location for supporters to check on progress. If the project is only on a website, traffic to the project will be lost because supporters cannot share your information with others that you might not have reached on your own.

Hyatt, A. (2016). Crowdstart: The Ultimate Guide to a Powerful and Profitable Crowdfunding Campaign. Hunter Cat Press.

Startups.com. (2020). The History of Crowdfunding. Https://Www.Fundable.Com/Crowdfunding101/History-of-Crowdfunding.

There is an old saying that “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck.”

In case anyone has wondered what, I have been up to, I will give you a quick update.


I was not able to attend the last class. I had every intention of taking the class, however, there was a clerical error with the Army’s tuition assistance. Even though I was enrolled in the class I had to drop due to funding.


While I was attempting to get the funding issue resolved, I was also packing up my household goods and moving my family to two separate locations. I moved from Arizona to Washington (that’s the Army for you), during the peak of quarantine. I made this move with two kids (12 & 13) and two full-size dogs. To make matters slightly more chaotic my wife had to stay in Arizona. The university that was going to allow her to transfer the nursing program that she is currently pursuing, would no longer accept her due to the pandemic. A family friend has graciously offered my wife a place to live while she completes her degree. After living in a hotel for just shy of a month, I am pleased to report that the kids and I are in a house and are settling in.


When this class opened, I was able to quickly look at the information but due to my new job, I would not have the time to work on anything until the weekend. When I logged into the class on Friday, I had found out that I was dropped from the class even though I had spoken to my advisor and paid my tuition. After working with the administration, I was able to be placed back in the class.


I felt rather behind because of the loss of a week and a half, but as I am reading over the course material, I now have a new sense of dread. It appears that by missing the last class I might have missed information that will be built upon for this class. I see some long nights ahead and hopefully, I will see everyone on the other side of this.

Never judge a book by it’s cover.


Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing

Almost everyone has heard the adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I hate to admit it, but I fell victim to judging this book upon opening the package.

A little bit about the situation; the book arrived almost two weeks early of the original delivery date, I ordered a paperback and received a hardcover, and the picture of the book from the website (that I ordered the book from) did not match what arrived.

When I opened the package I was confused, because this did not look like the book I ordered. The first thing that caught my eye was the picture on the dust cover; a cloud with sunrays bursting over the cloud surrounded by a blue-sky background. The cover looked more like an inspirational photo you would see in doctor’s or minister’s office and not that of a book that would assist me in understanding start-up venture capitalism. The next thing that I noticed was that the title was all lower case, which only made me think I wasn’t even sure if I had the correct book until I continued to read the rest of the cover page.

As I look at the book laying on the desk beside my laptop, I am struck by the thought that this would never have been I would have picked up in a bookstore. This thought is making me think of all the times I looked past a book that could have been something special and I missed out because I didn’t fall the one important advice of “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Please follow my reflections on this book. I will be updating weekly.


Amis, D., & Stevenson, H. H. (2001). Winning angels: the seven fundamentals of early-stage investing. London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

ENT610 Week 7 Reflection


As this class is coming to an end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my overall thoughts of ENT610.

Spring 2020 ENT610-50: Entrepreneurial Creation

When I signed up for this class, I looked at the title and thought “Creation” was about writing business plans and making pitches to secure backing. There were aspects of this class that would fit into the creation of a business, I feel that this class was more about making a presence for your business.

The main subject in this class that I learned about was marketing. I have covered marketing in a class during my undergrad studies, but not to the extent that I was exposed to in this class. I have always thought of marketing like television, radio, and print advertisements. The deeper we dove into marketing I was surprised to think about the ads that scroll on the sides of social media, web pages, and even different mobile applications.  While these ads can gain exposure to businesses, the ability to have your business found at the top of a web search might be more lucrative to many businesses. The range of products that a marketing firm offers is much more than the products shown in the sitcom “Mad Men”.

While I have never given much thought about marketing from a small business perspective, I now understand that it is something to budget and focus on. The first year of any business can be the “make it or break it” year, and the “making it” probability can be greatly increased with a solid marketing plan.

I want to thank my professor and his aid, but I also want to thank my fellow students because I have learned just as much from them as my research. Hopefully, I will be able to learn from them the next class or fall semester.

Take care everyone, and as always wash your hands.