Copyright 2006 Peter Dobler
Every internet marketer wants to make as money as possible. But how much money do you really need? What are the financial goals you want to achieve with your online business? These are the fundamental questions you have to answer when you start an online business.
Like many others you probably stumbled into the demanding task of managing an online business by accident. You bought some ebooks, signed up for multiple affiliate programs, set up your own website, subscribed to several membership sites and at the end of the day you realized that this all costs a lot of money.
You are in desperate need of more income from your business. Common sense tells you that you need to advertise for your business. So you go out there and buy any kind of advertising. This leaves you with even more expenses and like many others not much to show for.
Now you are at the turning point. You have substantial expenses, but not enough earnings to support these expenses. The foolish continue what they are doing and hope for the best. Theres a better way to get your business finances under control. The following 7 steps should give you an idea how to straighten out your business finances and how you can prevent a financial Waterloo for your business.
1. Create a business plan.
This sounds like a broken record, but without a clear business plan you are setting yourself up for disaster. A business plan can be as simple as a few pages describing what you want to do, how you want to do it, how much profit you plan to make, how much money you have to begin with and how long you can survive before you run out of money or you break even with income and expenses.
The idea of a business plan is not to predict the future, but to create a roadmap for yourself, in case you get lost on your journey and need directions to save your business.
2. Separate your finances
It doesnt matter if you operate your online business as a real incorporated business or if you just want to test the waters. Mixing your business finances with your personal finances is a bad idea period. Create a separate checking account. Use it to deposit the checks you will receive and as the linked account for your business PayPal account. Yes, a separate PayPal account is necessary to track your business finances and to provide a more polished, professional image for your business.
If you dont have a separate credit card for your business, use one of your personal credit cards and use it for your business expenses only. This way you can easily track your expenses. Knowing the exact financial situation of your business is vital for your survival. If youre loosing money you need to know right away to make necessary adjustments and if youre making money you dont want to wait until tax time to get a rude awakening.
A rule of thumb is to reinvest 75% of your earnings back into advertising for your business. In the beginning it can be as high as 100%, because you need to get the word out. Without customers you are not making any money. You do know that an online business is by definition a sales business? You are selling either a product or a service. If you dont, you dont have an online business.
Of course a startup online business has no income to be reinvested. However the same rules apply to the startup capital that every new business needs to get started. A new computer and a fancy new car wont get you any new customers, but good advertising will.
4. Keep track
You need to know where you spend your money at all times. In order to do this, a simple spreadsheet will get you started. Later you need a little bit more help from a professional finance program. Either way this will keep you on track with your spending and you will know how well youre doing at all times.
Keep track of your advertising. You need to know if your advertising is working or not. Like a real store you need to know why a visitor entered your store and if they dont buy get at least their contact information. Hardly anybody sells to first time visitors. Repeat business from visitors and customers are the bread and butter for any online business.
This is not only for tax purposes, but you need to organize everything youre doing with your business. Nothing kills your business faster than not knowing what pays your bills and to whom you owe money. Imagine you forget to renew your domain name registration. A few bucks could cost you a million dollar business. So do yourself a big favor and get organized with your business.
Readjust non working advertising immediately. If it is not working, dump it. On the other hand repeat a profitable advertising campaign. Rule of thumb, if it brings in more money than it costs to run, keep doing it. This seems to be a simple rule, but many online business owners simply ignore this rule. Instead they are chasing the white elephant and end up with nothing to show for.
If you have a successful advertising campaign, keep it running and build a new campaign next to it. Never drop a profitable campaign, always expand. This is your safety net. In case the new campaign fails. In marketing theres never a guarantee. Be creative, track and repeat. Thats the only way to get something going.
If your business is not growing your business is dieing. Unfortunately this is reality in todays business world. This means that you need to adjust your financial goals for your business to allow for expansion. Consult your business plan to determine what went well and what went wrong. Whatever you do, always aim higher.
There you have it, 7 steps to set the financial goals of your online business. I know that it takes more than filling out a membership application to run a successful online business, but you can do it if you keep these steps in mind.