Eight Questions to Ask Before Jumping into a Business Opportunity

Business owners sometimes make the mistake of jumping into business opportunities too impulsively, without doing the appropriate amount of due diligence.

This observation is not as obvious as it may seem, because many entrepreneurs fail to separate facts from myths about their business.

Here are two examples:

First, what do you conclude when you see a business featured in Entreprenuer, Inc. or Fast Company magazines? Our instant reaction is that the business must be profitable. However, this turns out to be untrue. Most businesses featured in media have a certain glamor factor to them, or are backed by huge publicity efforts. The media features stories on businesses that are interesting first, and profitable second. For instance, one company that specialized in promoting extreme sporting events for 18-34 year olds appeared in many publications as a highly successful venture. However, on looking at the numbers (not published in the media), this company was sucking up cash and mainly feeding the ego of the owner rather than having any chance of being profitable.

The same principle applies to industry analysis in the media. When I worked for a Wall Street firm, the first thing the senior management taught us was, “If it appears in the newspaper, it is already too late.” Two years ago, every newspaper was featuring articles about real estate moguls who were speculating in hot markets like Southwest Florida. I know some of these moguls, and they are struggling to keep their own homes (and cars, in one case) today. Had you begun to invest in real estate after reading a newspaper article, you would have been way too late, and in worse shape than speculators who got in before the media frenzy.

If you are about to make a business decision and are not already independently wealthy, forget about the “glamor factor,” forget your ego, and forget about status. Focus on facts and on detailed due diligence.

Eight questions to ask include:

– How big can this opportunity get?

– What is the worst possible case?

– What are the relative probabilities of achieving a high, moderate, low, and loss rate of return?

– Given the probabilities, what is the expected outcome of this decision?

– Is my investment worthwhile given the expected outcome?

– Do I have the talent and resources in place to act quickly and take advantage of this opportunity?

– How do I exit?

– What reserves are available when it takes twice as long and twice as much money to achieve success?

Sound business leadership requires an emphasis on cold hard facts, not the temptations of status, glamor, and being in the newspaper.

Use These 3 Ecommerce Solutions For Small Business Features To Tweak Your Marketing Campaign

Business is relatively simple. Offer people what they want at an affordable price and they would probably buy it from you. But therein lies the problem. There are all sorts of people out there and, the truth is, you cannot please them all. However, you should play the numbers game and try to please the majority.

In order to find out what people actually want, you need information. Fortunately, typical ecommerce solutions come with at least 3 basic features which you can attain information from.

Search Terms
Many shoppers land on a store’s main page. If they like what they see, they would probably type in what they are looking for in your store’s Search box. The search terms used are then stored in your store’s ecommerce solutions data base.

Many ecommerce solutions display the keyed-in search terms together with corresponding results which lets you know if you have or do not have the required product in your store.

Check this data every week. If you see a rising trend for a certain product, you might want to give the product more prominence on your front page or even display it on your content slider. You could even put it on sale to try to sell as many as possible while it is still hot.

Email Inquiry
Sometimes, merchants receive email inquiries about products. Email is a good way to interact with a potential customer. It is also a good way to mine for information.

Once you have answered an inquiry, thank the sender and offer a discount coupon or gift certificate as a gesture of goodwill. Then, try to get useful information such as what would the shopper usually buy along with the product which was inquired about.

One important question which many do not ask is what is stopping a shopper from making a purchase at a store.

Live Chat
Live Chat Software is a standard feature with most ecommerce solutions. Many merchants do not turn on this ecommerce solutions feature because they do not want to interact with shoppers. However, this feature has proven to be a cost-effective way of improving conversion rates because inquiries and concerns can be addressed immediately.

Also, information can be garnered in real-time from potential shoppers. You could ask what day of the week or what time of the month do they do their shopping. How much do they usually spend per purchase?

With all this information, you can tweak your marketing campaign to greater effect. For example, if you know how much people are willing to spend per purchase, you can configure your cross sell strategy to fit their price range and boost your bottom line.

BlackBerry V iPhone for Your Business – You Decide!

Many would really like to know which smartphone is better value, easier to use and the most useful. To be honest, it all depends on what you are using the business smartphone for. Both are very useful and have some great applications they offer a variety of different features that can be beneficial for your business. Deciding whether BlackBerry or iPhone is better for your business comes down to comparing the business features offered by each company.

Think about what the main features you would like to use. If for instance, you are an estate agent then a good camera might be what you are looking for. If you are a general business corporation and need to access information on the road then emails and calendars maybe more important to access.

Email

If like many, your business needs to stay in contact with colleagues and clients at all times, email is going to be your most essential feature. Both BlackBerry and iPhone have built-in email functions with numerous beneficial features. BlackBerry and iPhone each integrate with Microsoft Outlook, support HTML viewing, which allows messages to show text formatting and images, provide folder management systems for separating emails and also allowing you to view attachments. I would say BlackBerry has the edge with this feature as you can search emails on your office based computers even if those emails have been deleted from your BlackBerry smartphone and you can set up out-of-office replies in Outlook from your phone, something the iPhone cannot do.

Verdict = BlackBerry

Calendar

A calendar system is offered by both BlackBerry and iPhone to keep track of your appointments, events or meetings. BlackBerry offers automatic synchronization with the Microsoft Outlook so that your office calendar is updated without needing to connect to your computer. The iPhone does not do this, however it does support multiple time zone support so depending on what you need from your business smartphone would determine which is more useful.

Verdict = non-conclusive

Integration

BlackBerry and iPhone both integrate with desktop computers. BlackBerry phones use their own BlackBerry Desktop software, which can sync information stored on the business smartphone, including calendar and contacts with one sync process, while also providing the automatic sync features with Microsoft Outlook. iPhone synchronizes to desktop programs like Microsoft Exchange, but the process requires the exporting and importing of files from the iPhone, making the process long winded and time consuming.

Verdict = BlackBerry

Camera

Both smartphones have excellent camera features, although the iPhone’s 8-megapixel camera and 1080p HD video recorder is somewhat better than the BlackBerry’s 5-megapixel camera and 720p HD video recorder, however for most business people the latter is more than sufficient for a business smartphone.

The iPhone also has a larger memory, but is this better than the BlackBerry’s expandable memory? BlackBerry’s 8GB internal memory will be more than enough for the average business user depending on what you would be using it for, but others may prefer the iPhone’s 16/32/66GB capabilities.

Verdict = iPhone

So to conclude, although the iPhone is a fantastic piece of equipment it is more suited for personal use or if you have a real need for a high spec camera or application use. If you are using you smartphone to receive emails, upload appointment information or to synchronize your calendar then the BlackBerry is the best on the market!