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Really Getting Started
As soon as you have chosen your new business, you need to do a number of things to insure that you get started correctly.
First, take time to stop and think. and then, take more time to stop and think. This may seem like an odd thing to say since I've repeatedly said things like "do it now", and "go for it". Why am I now asking you to stop? I'm saying this because you need to know where you are going and how you are going to get there before you can embark on your trip. Running off full steam ahead accomplishes nothing if you do not know where you are going. And make no mistake, building a business from ground zero to successful ongoing business is just like taking a trip. You will need to plan, account for things like expenses, wrong turns, getting tired, unexpected problems, feeling like you will never arrive, etc.
In short, make sure that you know which program best suits you and whether it realistically can take you where you want to go with it BEFORE YOU GO ANYPLACE. Do you really want to invest 3 or 4 or more months of your life in a program only to discover that if you had given it more thought you would have chosen a different program? This said, give your chosen business the proper amount of thought, MAKE YOUR DECISION AND GO WITH IT. Indecision will suck the life out of the best of us.
Remember the two questions that I told you to think about? What would you be doing if money were no object? and What would you do if you had just 12 months to live? Now is the time to take your answers to those questions and match them up with your goals and the use the information to pick the business venture that fits into the big picture. Your goal cannot be to make a million dollars a year if you would like nothing better than to be teaching first graders how to swim. You usually cannot run a big company with dozens of employees if your dream is to live on a houseboat cruising down the Mississippi. Get the picture?
While there is nothing wrong with anything you decide, you need to focus on what you REALLY want, and what's REALLY important to you. The point of the two questions is to help you find out where your REAL interests lie and focus your energies on achieving your REAL goals.
Ready to start? Let's keep it simple. Think about where you want to be one year from now and write it down. Be very specific but also be realistic. if you are currently earning $15,000 per year and starting your business on a shoestring, a realistic goal for the end of your first year might be an extra $500 or $1000 per month. Save the "I want to be a millionaire" goal for your 5 year plan! If you do better, wonderful, but an unrealistic initial goal can do more harm than good. From that 1 year goal you can set your short term goals...monthly or even weekly.
Always remember however that Network Marketing programs tend to build slowly and gain momentum after a period of time. Once they gain that momentum however they tend to take on a life of their own and will reward your hard work with residual income. I say this now so that you will not feel disappointed or discouraged when your first few checks do not seem to bear any reasonable resemblance to your efforts. Just keep in mind that you are doing this for your long term security
I have created a sample one year plan and it is outlined on the following pages. It is by no means the only way it can be done. It will however give you a good starting point for creating your own plan or, it might suit your needs perfectly just as its written, so feel free to use it. It is your business and your goals, make it personal to you.
Also, depending upon how much time you can devote, and how your business progresses, many of the goals in the sample plan could be accomplished in much less time. Use your own judgment but do not take on more than you can reasonable hope to accomplish in any one time period.
Goals should be set high enough to challenge you. However, if you set your goals too high and miss you will feel like a failure. If you set them a little low you will feel great when you have accomplished your objective earlier than planned and you can always push yourself harder with the next set of goals.
After you establish your plan, refer to it regularly. Use it to make daily and weekly "to do" lists. Even if your list requires you to accomplish only one or two things a day, write those items down and accomplish those tasks every day as your first priority, your success and the success of your business depend on it.
Note: Do not worry if you do not quite understand everything in the plan as written here. I will go over everything in greater detail later in the book. Just concentrate on getting the general idea.
SAMPLE ONE YEAR PLAN
MONTH ONE - To have accomplished the following:
1. Contact the upline sponsor I spoke with or the parent
company itself regarding joining my program of choice and
2. Contact local authorities about regulations regarding home based business a-nd do what needs to be done to comply.
3. Review information and promotional materials sent by company and have a working knowledge of the products and how the program works.
4. Review promotional and sales materials and decide on an advertising and sales budget.
5. Call my upline sponsor and/or the Company to see if they have any tips on getting started, suggestions etc, that may not have been in the materials given.
6. Decide on a marketing plan and place it in motion.
7. If I have decided to set up a separate telephone #, 800# or Voice mail system, get the information and get it in the works.
8. Set up a system for tracking my income and expenses, and for keeping track of responses so that I can determine the effectiveness of my advertising.
9. Set up a database for keeping track of my customer base
MONTH TWO - To have accomplished the following:
1. Placed my first one or two print ads, or passed out flyers, etc. as planned.
2. Complied a list of Civic, Professional and Business Organizations that I might wish to join to help promote my business.
3. Created an information packet of materials to be sent out to individuals who respond to my advertising.
4. Sponsored at least one new member into my organization.
5. Look into whether there is a postcard that has been created by my upline sponsor or the company which has been tested and proven effective. If yes use it, if no, create one.
6. Send out at least 50 postcards.
7. Decide if I want to take Checks by Phone or become a Credit Card merchant. If yes, start gathering information.
MONTH THREE - To have accomplished the following:
1. Determined whether my initial advertising efforts are
working, expand them if they are and modify them if they
2. Explore and place into action at least two new promotional or advertising avenues.
3. Sponsored at least two new members into my organization.
4. Contacted any newly sponsored members to help set them on the right course.
5. Send out at least 50 postcards.
MONTH FOUR - To have accomplished the following:
1. Review my advertising and promotional budget to decide if it is adequate, decide if it is being efficiently used and decide what is working and revise if necessary.
2. Join at least one business or professional association to network my business
3. Explore and place into action at least two new promotional or advertising avenues.
4. Sponsored at least two new members and to have helped each of the members under me to have each sponsored one.
5. Call my sponsor to "chat", exchange information, tips
6. Look over my lead tracking with regard to my postcard mailing and decide whether its working. If yes...
7. Send out at least 100 post cards. If no...
8. Think about whether the postcard message needs to be changed, is the mailing list at fault or is this the type of business that does not lend itself to postcard promotion.
MONTH FIVE - To have accomplished the following:
1. Contact people (in person, by phone or mail) who had expressed an interest in the program who for whatever reason decided not to move forward at that time.
2. Re-review advertising and promotional budget and if not working, modify as necessary.
3. Get the names and phone numbers of at least 5 persons associated with my program who are upline of me and call them to see how they are doing and see if they have any suggestions, approaches etc. that I may have missed.
4. Send out at least 100 postcards.
5. Calculate how much it costs to generate a lead and what percentage of those leads are converted.
6. Check with my downline to offer encouragement,
MONTH SIX - To have accomplished the following:
1. To be at a break even point or better.
2. Review my entire progress to this point and determine if there is any thing I can be doing to speed things up. And then, to do it!
3. Send out at least 200 postcards.
4. Check with my downline to offer encouragement,
MONTH SEVEN - To have accomplished the following:
1. To have created a steady stream of income that is approximately double my current business expenses.
2. To review all of my advertising and promotional efforts, identify the most successful and begin replicating them elsewhere.
3. Check in with my downline to offer encouragement, offer suggestions give advice, answer questions etc.
MONTH EIGHT - To have accomplished the following:
1. To re-think my business and determine at which point I will be able to make it into a full time income and then start planning for that as my ultimate goal.
2. To take a class, course or seminar designed to keep me
focused and motivated.
3. To re-evaluate my postcard mailings and as long as they are working, set a schedule to send out 300 postcards a month.
4. Check in with my downline to offer support, encouragement
MONTH NINE - To have accomplished the following:
1. Go back and speak to some or all of the upline people I had previously contacted to see how they are doing in relation to me and why.
2. Check with my downline to offer support, encouragement, suggestions and answer questions etc.
3. To have sent out my postcards on schedule.
I am sure that some of what is outlined in the monthly plan does not make sense since it is my abbreviated version of what basically needs to be done. It sets up a very general outline which is meant to be an example of what a plan should look like. It's general focus is on direct marketing rather than face to face selling, telemarketing, group presentations, seminars, home parties etc. I believe that many people shy away from network marketing because they do not want or cannot do this type of promotion. They can however be very effective methods of promoting your business and should be considered as such. Therefore I fully realize that this sample outline may need modification for a large number of readers who may each choose a different business approach.
By the same token, your outline may not make sense to a casual reader. I assure you that no matter how much of a beginner you are, by the end of this book you will understand what you need to do. Later in the book I will take the above outline and go thru it month by month adding explanation and detail so that you can understand exactly how the progression works. If you follow my directions and stick to the program, you will succeed.
The key here is long range planning and consistency. With respect to your new business you need to get into a very specific mindset. Your success is going to depend on your work habits and priorities. For instance, money used advertising and promoting your business is not "spent" it is an investment in the future of your business and in yourself. This is your business, not a hobby, treat it that way and it will reward you.
Whatever your plan/goals and budget are, stick to them, they are your first priority. If you need to modify them then do so for sound business reasons, not because you decided to spend your ad budget on dinner out with friends. Unless, of course, your dinner out with friends is to discuss their interest in joining your new business. In that case its not only good business, it may be a tax deductible expense.
Generally speaking, a home based business can provide some excellent tax deductions, especially in the beginning stages before you are generating large amounts of income. Before you start deducting things however, check into the rules for record keeping and deductibility and follow them.
And, speaking of regulations, I again remind you that before you actually start doing business, check with the local Chamber of Commerce or local Government offices to ask about regulations which pertain to home based business. Most areas require some sort of permit or filing. It is usually very simple and inexpensive to comply so do it now and avoid the possibility of big problems later.
Also, this might be a good time to think about the name of your business and whether you wish to incorporate. Many areas have special rules for businesses operating under "fictitious names". Decide which direction you want to take and follow thru. You do not want to get your business up, running and successful only to find that you have problems relating to your lack of filing as a home based business or that you were improperly doing business under a fictitious name. It is easy enough to do it correctly at the beginning. Usually all you need to do is to fill out a form or two, and place a small classified ad in a local newspaper notifying the public of your intent to do business under whatever name you chose.
While you are at it, your local Chamber may be able to provide you with things like lists of established businesses, information about free or inexpensive business related classes and seminars, names of organizations such as SCORE which provide free or inexpensive advice to new or small businesses.
If you can possibly afford it, it is usually a good idea to join your local Chamber of Commerce. As an active member, the wealth of information, increased credibility and networking availability make it an invaluable asset.
So, now we have our simple one year plan, our "legal" situation is in order and we are ready to go. Or are we? Before doing anything, carefully look over all of the sales and promotional materials provided by the company you have now become associated with. What other materials or promotional assistance do they provide? If you are new to Network Marketing or starting your own business, you should be especially anxious to take advantage of everything the company has to offer by way of support. What we need to do now is create a marketing plan. Without one, you will find yourself jumping haphazardly from one idea to the next, trying one thing and then another and getting no place fast.
In Network Marketing, you can achieve success in one of at least two ways. You can become a "sponsoring machine" and sponsor large #s of people into your program knowing full well that some of them will stick and some of them won't. The sheer numbers will eventually net you enough workers to build your downline.
Or, you can take the second approach and "work smart". This approach concentrates on sponsoring just a few who are interested in working the program and who are willing to in turn sponsor a few and so on down the line. Each of these approaches will eventually get you to the same place, that is, upline of a solid base of people producing a solid income for you.
The first may be faster, but it takes a lot more initial money and effort. As I have indicated earlier, this book is written primarily for the "little guy" starting on a shoestring, starting part-time and with limited business experience. It does not mean that you cannot build a large and lucrative downline, it just means you will do it realistically, based on your current situation. As your business grows you may wish to switch to the first approach to accelerate your progress. But that will be YOUR CHOICE. The beginning of your newfound freedom is that you will be able to CHOOSE YOUR OPTIONS!!!
There is another way to go about building your business. There are businesses that are set up specifically as "downline building" companies. For a fee (usually monthly) these companies will do advertising and promotional work designed to generate leads for you. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a lead is a person or company that is interested in your product or service. The company will usually forward a specific # of those leads to you on a monthly basis and you will follow-up, either by mail, by telephone or both.
Anyone who has been in sales can tell you that the quality of leads can vary tremendously from "hot" to totally useless. This is one reason why before you pay anyone to generate your leads for you, you need to know a few things about the company. Although they come in various forms and offer some different benefits and services, they basically fall into two categories.
The first category of downline building company will do widespread advertising and other promotions to generate leads for you. As I stated earlier, it is now up to you to follow up so that you can hopefully sign some of them into your program. The leads you receive are usually individuals who have answered ads about business opportunities. You can then follow-up with an informational package describing your particular business opportunity.
In addition to generating leads, some of these companies have other products and services, such as free newsletters with tips on promoting your business. They may provide inexpensive fax on demand, 800#s or other services.
It is important to ask about what you receive for your payments. You can then determine if you will really make the most of the benefits and make your decision. There is no point paying for the availability of services that you have already gotten or which are less expensive elsewhere. On the other hand, if you are new to business, and/or feel uncomfortable promoting a business a good downline building program may be the perfect solution. And, even if you are an experienced entrepreneur, the convenience of "one stop shopping" and time savings might make it a real bargain. Before you choose, look into as many as you can, compare costs and benefits and get answers to at least the following questions:
How long has the program been in existence?
Where do they advertise?
To generate leads?
To sign up participants (such as yourself) into the Program?
How else do they generate leads?
What does it cost to participate?
What other benefits are available? How are the leads distributed?
How long does the average member stay with their program?
Do you receive any kind of commission or fee for referring others?
Briefly, you need to ask these questions because while there are no guarantees, the answers will likely make the difference between your getting a real benefit or wasting your money. You want to choose a program that has been in business more than two years. Its more likely that they are now an ongoing business and will be around to send you the leads you paid to receive.
Where they advertise will clue you in to the type of lead you are going to get...business people, housewives etc. Where they advertise and what else they do to generate leads will also give you some idea of how creative they are about generating leads, how fresh the leads will be and how extensively they advertise.
The cost of the program will be well worth it if you generate business from it and if you make use of the other benefits. There is however, going to be a lag time. By this I mean that that if you join in January, receive your first leads 2-3 weeks later, and immediately send out followup materials, it could be 2-3 months before you see any monetary benefit. So budget for it and be prepared to pay out that money for at least 3-4 months before it begins to pay for itself. Again, its better to be pleasantly surprised about a quicker return than to be disappointed because you were unrealistic.
If you can, do not commit initially to more than about three months of a particular program. During that time period, you need to carefully track the leads you receive to see how many of them converted to membership. If you divide that number by the cost of obtaining the leads, you will be able to decide whether or not continued membership is worth the cost.
Just remember however that in Network Marketing there is a long term value to each new member of your downline. it is not a one shot "sale" but hopefully will provide a long term residual income. Let me illustrate. If for example, your program costs you $30 per month and you receive 30 leads per month, each lead costs you $1 . However, if only one of these leads signs up with your program, the promotional cost of obtaining that member is $30.
Going one step further, having that person come into your downline may only result in your receiving $5. Success or failure? If you said failure, you need to go back and read the story about the movie theatre owner. This is not a one shot sale. As long as you take care of your downline, they will stay for the long haul. They will also start building their own business which simultaneously builds yours. That $5 "sale" could ultimately be worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars to you in yearly income.
The second type of downline building program, will also generate leads or even close them for you but will do so for a specific Network Marketing program. In essence, if you join the Network Marketing program that they are promoting, for an additional monthly fee, they will advertise the program and place people under you. Conversely, some of them will automatically place you in one or more Network Marketing programs if you agree to joining their downline building program.
You need to be careful here to determine what is the real focus of the company. Is it to build a downline for the Network Marketing Company or is it to recruit people into their lead generating program? It is very important to make sure that the Network Marketing program they are promoting is a legitimate one, that you understand how it works and that it is something that you would and could promote separate and apart from the downline building program.
I say this with good reason because, in spite of what the programs may tell you, you are not going to get rich letting them do it all for you. Remember, they are doing it all for hundreds or in some cases even thousands of people just like you. A much more realistic approach to these programs is to use them to help jump start your business.
Depending on the cost and how happy you are with the results, use it for 6 months or so to help you get up and running. At that point, you should be comfortable with your business, should have learned a lot about how it works, how its promoted etc. You now also have a track record so when your potential downline people ask you how you are doing you can honestly tell them you are making money. At some point you need to be able to do it yourself. Your business will grow faster and you will not be dependent upon an entity that could disappear tomorrow.
While making your decisions relating to advertising and promoting your business, you need to keep one very basic but also very important concept in mind. It is simply this: ALL of your initial advertising and promotion is designed to generate leads not customers. I'm sure you now think I'm crazy..."I thought the whole point was to get customers" you say. Well it is, but it must be at least a two step process. It will never work as a one step process.
Okay, so what do I mean by this? Again, very simply, how many people do you think will invest in a product costing in some cases as much as $100 based on what they see in a classified ad or written on a post card? Not very many, I can assure you. What your initial advertising needs to do is get people's attention, peak their interest so that they will call or write for additional information. It is the additional information you provide and whatever additional followup you do that is going to close the deal. If you keep this in mind when writing your ads and choosing your promotional pieces, you will be a step ahead of much of your competition. You will also avoid the unnecessary expense and disappointment connected with unsuccessful one step ads.
Once you have chosen your initial advertising and promotional pieces you need to decide to whom the initial inquiries will go. As I indicated earlier, if you are new to business or feel uncomfortable with your ability to persuade or close a sale, you may wish to take advantage of any assistance your upline or the corporate office will have to offer. Virtually all of the Network Marketing programs that I have listed in the back of this book have marketing and promotional information, brochures, proven ads and other assistance available to you.
The type of assistance you are planning to receive from your upline or the company will affect what your ads actually say. Some of the companies have fax on demand, 800#s, follow-up materials, video, audio tapes and more, available to you for this exact purpose. In fact you may wish to choose the company you initially join based on their ability to provide the most support in this regard. If you go back thru my listing, you will see a number of companies that fit the mold perfectly.
Basically, if you generate the leads, they will close them for you. It may cost you a little more per month to maintain the program but it is well worth it if you are uncomfortable presenting the product. As you get going and are more successful, you will find that you will become much more comfortable and proficient at promoting the program yourself.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having someone else do it for you. If you love the products, have had good results with them and like to talk to people then by all means have them call you. It will seem more sincere, more real coming from a you rather than some distant corporate office. If however, you are shy and uncomfortable speaking to people, let the company or your upline sponsor do the followup. They will sound professional and knowledgeable and they have the same interest in sponsoring this person as you do, since your downline is also their downline. Additionally, keep in mind that in responding to ads, some people like to talk to a live voice, others simply want written material sent. Always try to give people the option of one or the other.
When someone else is doing the work for you, remember that you are in one way or another paying for the privilege. You are paying either in the from of additional monthly fees or by giving up part or all of the initial commission on the new membership. Everything is going to be a tradeoff. The more help you get the more you will usually pay.
Sometimes it is well worth it. If you know that you will not have the time, and want to get something started, you may find it more than worth the price. There are also psychological benefits. Many people find that once it is started, they are much more comfortable promoting their business.
As I indicated earlier, the plan outlined on the previous pages is just a sample (there are many other things you can add to it). But for purposes of explanation, lets start with it and go thru the steps month by month. Again, feel free to change or add to the plan as may suit your specific needs.