What the New “Netpreneur” Must Consider – A Business Checklist

Business Checklist: Define Your Product or Products

What is it you are actually selling? Is this a physical product that has to be packaged and shipped, or an “Information Product” that must be downloaded?

Physical Product

  • How will it be manufactured?
  • How will it be shipped?
  • What packaging is necessary?
  • Are there any restrictions on content?
  • Are there any regulations that control this?
  • Will it be manufactured in house or outsourced?
  • Will I maintain stock or will it be custom made per customer?
  • What materials are necessary?
  • Where will I get the materials?
  • Will the product be fully assembled or in kit form?
  • What user instructions are necessary?
  • What required warnings must I include?
  • What patents for copyrights might be necessary?
  • Will the product be licensed?
  • Who will be my primary suppliers?
  • What is the warranty?

Information Products

  • What exactly is the product line selling?
  • While the product be available in online?
  • Will the customer be able to download the product?
  • What copyrights are necessary for that product?
  • What rights does the buyer have with the information product?
  • How will enforce the copyright?
  • Will I sell this product to others for resale?
  • What components are with the information product?
  • Educational materials?
  • Videos?
  • Marketing Materials?
  • Will the product be a subscription product?
  • Only online product also be available on CD/dvd or a physical package?
  • Other product be a computer program?
  • Who will do the program development?
  • How will all upgrades be handled?
  • What is the warranty?

Business Checklist: Determine the Market Geography and Demographics for Your Products/Services

Believe it or not, just because your business is primarily on the web, you must still consider the geographical considerations for your business. Rather than thinking in terms of physical location and distance to customers, you must now consider the international implications of doing business on the web.

  • In what countries will you be doing business?
  • Is your product of a legal to sell in all countries?
  • What are the import and export restrictions?
  • What countries do you not want to do business with?
  • What will be your base currency?
  • How will currency exchanges be handled?
  • What are the tax implications of international business?
  • Do I need to have a presence in every country that I market my product?
  • What are the business reporting requirements for each country I do business with?
  • If sued, will I need to go to court in that country?

Business Checklist: Determine Prices for Your Products/Services

Everything for sale is not $47 with an up-sell of $97. There is actual competition in the marketplace, because the marketplace is broader than just the internet. Before you can determine prices, you need to understand your target market and tangential markets that may have an effect on how you price your product. A more important question is. “What is the customer’s perception of the value of your product and what you think that customer would be willing to pay”? Another question to ask would be “What would the customer have to pay or what would it cost this customer if they did NOT have your product?”

  • Market research. What are the prevailing prices for similar products and services?
  • What makes your product unique? Why would someone want to pay more for your product?
  • What are the costs of using your product?
  • What are the benefits of using your product?
  • What are the benefits of using your product as opposed to a competing product?
  • Is this a product that your customer would ask for or must you convince your customer that he needs this product?
  • Who is your competition?

Business Checklist: Determine Image You Want to Convey (in Light of your Target Market)

How to achieve that image though advertising, business cards and letterhead, brochures, office/store appearance, your appearance, etc.)

  • How many different types of exposure would you have with your customers?
  • Will you have face to face contact with your customers?
  • Will you conduct webinars for your customers?
  • Who would you want to be associated with in business that will give you a better image?

Business Checklist: Draft a Marketing Plan

Include the types of marketing, advertising, and promotions strategies you will use to reach each of your target markets.

  • Advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Mass media
  • Press releases
  • Internet Advertising
  • Web pages
  • Social media
  • Videos and YouTube

Business Checklist: Create Customer Order Collection Method

At some point you are going to need to take orders from customers.

  • How will this ordered be handled?
  • Who will handle the orders?
  • How will the orders be fulfilled?
  • What forms are necessary?
  • Will orders be taken over the web?

Business Checklist: Join Applicable Trade and Professional Associations

What trade associations or professional associations would apply to your new business?

  • How do you engage with those associations?
  • How much does it cost to be part of those associations?
  • What kinds of time commitments are required for these associations?
  • Where do the associations meet?

Business Checklist: Investigate the Cost of Advertising in Various Publications

Believe it or not, the local Yellow Pages may still be a viable channel for your advertising. Who else?

  • There are many yellow pages knockoffs out there. Which ones are worth subscribing to?
  • Business directories can provide an online presence and also free or low cost advertising.
  • Newspapers have gone, electronic. Consider placing ads in the local newspaper which will also give you an electronic presence for your news releases
  • Determine what activities in your company would actually warrant advertising or news releases.
  • To determine what prevents you can participate in that would give you advertising exposure.
  • What is the cost to participate in those events?

Business Checklist: Define Web-based Marketing and Advertising Strategies

Web based marketing is not all “viral”, in your face offers. Again, your marketing and advertising strategies must reflect the image you wish to project. That image could be blatant, painting you as a 2 AM car salesman or infomercial spokesman, or could be subtle, intellectual, informed, and business like. Each approach has its merits and downsides. The one thing you must protect is your image: how OTHER PEOPLE see you.

  • Which internet mediums will you pursue?
  • What are your goals of Internet Marketing?
  • What is the audience you’re attempting to engage?
  • What is the frequency of contact?
  • What is the cost of this contact?
  • How would you test the marketing mediums?

Business Checklist: Draft Sales Literature

Sales literature reflects not only your image but the image of your company and the image and perception of your products must be in line with those desired profiles.

  • Should you engage a professional image consultant?
  • Should you engage professional designers?
  • Should you outsource your literature distribution?

Business Checklist: Determine Need for Sales Force (In-House or Outsourced)

Do your products warrant an in-house or outsourced sales force?

  • What channels will you use to market your product?
  • We’re product be direct marketing to customers?
  • Business to business?
  • For resale?
  • Through consolidators?
  • Big box retail?
  • Will your products be distributed to other channels?
  • Telemarketing?

This is just a memory jogger for you, to give you a start at creating an individualized Marketing Plan. In my experience, the entrepreneur is the visionary, but is probably too close to that vision that it is best to engage a third party, professional facilitator to help him answer these questions. The entrepreneur is generally so involved in the day to day fire fighting that they might gloss over the necessity for the level of detail required to answer these questions.

Unfortunately, the Marketing Plan is only one part of the whole package of business documentation that should be completed BEFORE you hang out a shingle. If your business requires funding from a bank, venture capitalist, or any other reputable source, the first thing they will ask for is documentation that shows you are a viable business, you have the proper business structure, licensing, and permits, have filed the appropriate statutory and regulatory documents, and have done your due diligence in creating a solid basis for your business.

Due to the detail necessary, and to be sure your business documents reflect your image in a professional way, you should consider engaging the Magic Triangle of Advisors:

  • An Attorney
  • An Accountant
  • A Business Consultant

I always add one more to this list if your business infrastructure is dependent on any web presence, servers, applications, PC hardware and software, tablets, and smartphones:

  • An IT Consultant

It is critical that these advisers have open lines of communication, and it is clear as to the responsibilities each is charged with to create the best singular outcome for you: a successful business.

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