The Birth of a Successful Internet Business Part four of ten -- Developing Your Business Plan

Developing a strategic business plan is an essential part of your success. Not only will it assist you in visualizing your business strategy, but it will also give you an organized approach to achieving your goals.

Your plan will be used as a step by step guide to assist you in accomplishing your goals. Without a solid plan of action, you won't have any direction. You'll travel in circles and ultimately never reach your goals.

Your Internet business plan should include all of the

Business Summary

Your business summary will completely summarize your entire business strategy from start to finish.


Your business objectives will consist of a description of your products and services, and exactly what you want to

Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should consist of all of the following:

=> Identify your target market

If your product or service doesn't have a market, you definitely won't be successful. You must identify who your customers will be to determine whether or not there will be an interest in what you're offering.

Your product should not only fill a void, but should also be unique. The less competition you have, the better. If you enter a market in which you're competing against hundreds of other products similar to yours, your chance of success will be minimal. Develop a high-quality product that fills a void and provides people with exactly what they want.

=> Identify your competition

You must know who your competition is in order to compete. What are they offering? How are their products priced? How is their website designed? How are their products delivered?

In order to compete with your competition, you must continuously keep an eye on them. Do a search at the Search Engines to locate your competition and evaluate their business.

=> How do you plan to advertise?

Although setting up a website is an essential part of your advertising plan, it is only the first step. You must develop an advertising plan that will drive a continuous stream of targeted traffic to you website.

Your first step will be to submit your site to the Search

Although there are many Internet marketers that are constantly trying to maintain a top listing in the Search Engines, in my humble opinion, it's simply a waste of time.

Each Search Engine is different and has different guidelines in regard to how they rank a web page. In addition, their guidelines change very frequently and it is literally impossible to keep up with them. Your best option will be to optimize your website to the best of your ability, submit your pages to the Search Engines and forget it. (Resubmit your main pages any time you make any significant changes.) Your time can be better spent using other marketing
techniques other than fighting the Search Engine wars.

If you really want to build your business online, you must be willing to invest a portion of your profits back into your business. There are many advertising opportunities available on the Internet that will enable you to purchase targeted advertising very reasonably.

Ezine Advertising

Pay-per-click Search Engines

Pay-per-lead / Pay-per-sales

=> How will your product or services be priced?

Although pricing your product or service may seem like a simple task, it is a little more difficult than you may realize. If you price your product too low, it may be perceived as a poor quality product. Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for?" A higher price is naturally perceived as a better quality product. However, if you price it too high, your product may not measure up.

Make sure you take your time and select your selling price very carefully. Visit your competitor sites and see how they're pricing their products. Test different prices to determine the best price for your product.

=> How will your product or services be delivered?

If you're selling a tangible or physical product, what shipping options will you offer? What shipping prices will you charge? Will you charge higher shipping rates for orders outside your country?

If you're selling an intangible or electronic product, will you have security measures in place? Will your product be password protected? How will your customers retrieve your product? Will your product delivery be automated or manual?

=> How will you accept payment?

How many payment options will you offer your customers? Will you have a merchant account to process credit card orders? If you don't want to get a merchant account, will you be using a third party credit card processing company? Which companies will you use? Will you accept checks and money orders?

If you decide to get your own merchant account, you will also need access to a secure server and a shopping cart system. A secure server will protect your customers' information. A shopping cart system will provide your customer with a running total of what they've ordered and the total cost.

The following website can provide you with a merchant

Total Merchant Services (TMS)

If you'd rather not have your own merchant account, third party credit card processors will process your credit card orders for you. There are usually no monthly fees. They charge a "per transaction" fee and send you payment for all your orders processed, minus their fee and a reserve fee.




If you're just starting out, you may want to use one of the third party credit card processors, as this is the easiest route. Each company provides you with step by step instructions to assist you in getting your website set up to accept credit cards. The great thing about third party credit card processors is that they handle everything for you. You don't have to hassle with processing your credit card payments or charge backs, as everything is taken care of for you.

Developing an Internet business plan will provide you with a road map to achieving your dreams. Plan each step very carefully and fully research your options. Plan your work then work your plan and you'll be well on your way to achieving your goals.

Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2002.