EMPLOYMENT: starting a small business

Small Business Success Program:
Welcome to the Small Business Success program!
Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. The first step to becoming more successful is to evaluate where you are now, which will give you a benchmark against which you can track your progress through the Small Business Success Program and evaluate your success at the end. We’ll do this by tracking your daily activities.
Tracking Your Daily Activities
First, we need to know what you actually do each day. As business people, we all wear many hats during the day (and sometimes at night, too). But what does this mean? What tasks are we actually performing and how much time do we spend on each activity?
Tracking your daily activities lets you see where your valuable time is being spent, and gives you the data you need to set goals and make the changes to your work habits that will make you more successful.
Daily Activity Tracking Tips
Use a device to record your daily activities that is constantly accessible to you, so you can record exactly what you do when you do it. Memory is fallible – and kind.
A Day-Timer or calendar, a PDA, an organizer software program, a digital recorder, or an ordinary notebook will all work to record your daily activities; choose whichever method you are already comfortable with and find the easiest to use.
I use a Day-Timer because I like the way it’s organized and most of my work takes place in my office. Using a device to track your daily activities that’s preformatted into days and hours saves you the time of formatting the device yourself.
Don’t record unnecessary information; it’s the activity and the time you spent on it that’s important for our purposes. For instance, my entry related to writing this article would be only “writing Tracking Daily Activities”, covering the amount of time it took to write it.
Coming To Grips With The Time Management Myth
Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven’t accomplished much?
Time management skills are especially important for small business people, who often find themselves performing many different jobs during the course of a single day. These time management tips will help you increase your productivity and stay cool and collected.
1) Realize that time management is a myth.
No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.
2) Find out where you’re wasting time.
Many of us are prey to time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively. What are your time-bandits? Do you spend too much time ‘Net surfing, reading email, or making personal calls?
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11 Time Management Tips
Coming To Grips With The Time Management Myth
Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven’t accomplished much?
Time management skills are especially important for small business people, who often find themselves performing many different jobs during the course of a single day. These time management tips will help you increase your productivity and stay cool and collected.
1) Realize that time management is a myth.
No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.

2) Find out where you’re wasting time.
Many of us are prey to time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively. What are your time-bandits? Do you spend too much time ‘Net surfing, reading email, or making personal calls? “Tracking Daily Activities” explains how to track your activities so you can form a accurate picture of what you actually do.
3) Create time management goals.
Remember, the focus of time management is actually changing your behaviors, not changing time. A good place to start is by eliminating your personal time-wasters. For one week, for example, set a goal that you’re not going to take personal phone calls while you’re working. See “Set Specific Goals” for help with goal setting. For a fun look at behaviors that can interfere with successful time management, see my article “Time Management Personality Types”. Find out if you’re a Fireman, an Aquarian or a Chatty Kathy!

4) Implement a time management plan.
Think of this as an extension of time management tip # 3. The objective is to change your behaviors over time to achieve whatever general goal you’ve set for yourself, such as increasing your productivity or decreasing your stress. So you need to not only set your specific goals, but track them over time to see whether or not you’re accomplishing them.

Are You Sabotaging Your Time Management Efforts?
The key to time management is knowing ourselves, as we can’t actually “manage” time; all we can manage is our own behavior.
For many of us this is more than enough of a challenge. While we claim that effective time management is a top priority and that we just have to get more organized, our actions don’t match our stated desires. I’ve invented these time management personality “types” to describe patterns of behavior that sabotage many people’s attempts at time management.
Which of the following time management “types” are you? While intended as fun, this time management exercise may provide you with some clues for more effective time management.
The Fireman – For you, every event is a crisis. You’re so busy putting out fires that you have no time to deal with anything else – especially the boring, mundane things such as time management. Tasks pile up around you while you rush from fire to fire all day.
Typically seen – Running to car.
The Over-Committer – Your problem is you can’t say ‘No’. All anyone has to do is ask, and you’ll chair another committee, take on another project, or organize yet another community event. You’re so busy you don’t even have time to write down all the things you do!
Typically seen – Hiding in rest room.
The Aquarian – There is such as thing as being too “laid-back” – especially when it starts interfering with your ability to finish tasks or bother to return phone calls. Getting to things when you get to them isn’t time management; it’s simple task avoidance.
Typically seen – Hanging out with feet on desk.
The Chatty Kathy – Born to socialize, you have astounding oral communication skills and can’t resist exercising them at every opportunity. Every interaction becomes a long drawn out conversation – especially if there’s an unpleasant task dawning that you’d like to put off.
Typically seen – Talking on cell phone.
The Perfectionist – You have a compulsion to cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “i’s”, preferably with elaborate whorls and curlicues. Exactitude is your watchword, and you feel that no rushed job can be a good job. Finishing tasks to your satisfaction is such a problem you need more time zones, not just more time.
Typically seen – Hunched over latest project.
Hopefully none of these time management personality profiles is a photograph of you! But perhaps these descriptions will provoke some thought about the different ways we manage or mismanage time, and some clues about how we might change our behaviors to make our time management efforts more successful.
4) Implement a time management plan.
Think of this as an extension of time management tip # 3. The objective is to change your behaviors over time to achieve whatever general goal you’ve set for yourself, such as increasing your productivity or decreasing your stress. So you need to not only set your specific goals, but track them over time to see whether or not you’re accomplishing them.
More Time Management Tips
Here are more time management tips to help you get more organized and be more productive:
5) Use time management tools.
Whether it’s a Day-Timer or a software program, the first step to physically managing your time is to know where it’s going now and planning how you’re going to spend your time in the future. A software program such as Outlook, for instance, lets you schedule events easily and can be set to remind you of events in advance, making your time management easier.
We all know the importance of starting our day by eating a healthy breakfast; a proper breakfast provides your body with the fuel it needs to function well after the night’s fast.
It’s just as important to start your work day right by starting with a business planning session; it will provide you with the fuel you need to make the most out of your business day.
Business Planning Doesn’t Take Long
A daily business planning session of just 20 to 30 minutes will let you focus on your business goals and energize yourself for the day ahead. And spending this time organizing yourself at the start of the day will save you time during the day.
The Purpose of The Daily Business Planning Session
Your daily business planning session is your chance to:
• review your progress on the specific goals you’ve set;
• set your daily agenda;
• prioritize your tasks of the day.
Getting your day organized and knowing that you’re focused on achieving the business goals you have set for yourself will give you that “I’ve-gotten-out-of-bed-on-the-right-side” feeling.

Add Some Inspiration
To pack even more punch to your daily business planning session, include an inspirational moment in each session. For instance, I like to read and reflect on an inspirational quote from a successful person each day. It gives me positive motivation for my day ahead.
What inspires you? Some people like to look at a cartoon or artwork, read a short religious passage, or listen to a musical selection.
Daily Business Planning Session Tips
Your daily business planning session needs to be uninterrupted. Do not take phone calls during this time, or do your planning in a place that other people are wandering through.
When you’re setting your daily agenda, slot your most demanding tasks into your most productive working time(s). For example, if you’re a morning person, schedule whatever creative tasks you need to accomplish into the morning rather than into the late afternoon when your mental energy is low.
A quick way to prioritize is to highlight the three or four most important tasks of the day. It’s not necessary to obsessively order tasks to get a sense of what’s most important that day.
Resist the temptation to grade yourself on your performance of your daily agenda. If you don’t accomplish all the tasks you’ve listed for that day, that doesn’t mean you’ve “failed”. It just means you didn’t accomplish everything on your list.
Want to increase your productivity? Overplanning your day will help you stay focused.
We all know how important it is to plan our time and make the most of it. But sometimes we shortchange ourselves by not paying enough attention to planning our daily activities.
Work expands to fill the time allotted. If you plan to accomplish one task on a particular day, you’ll accomplish that task. But that task will have consumed a lot more time than it would have if you had other goals to accomplish that day, too.
If you plan to accomplish three tasks in a day, you’ll get all three of them done. If you plan to accomplish twelve tasks in a day, chances are good you won’t complete them all, but you’ll get seven or eight of them done.
The more we have on our plates, the more we’re likely to accomplish. Overplanning your day will provide a pressure to get more done, and to do that, you’ll be more likely to delegate and be less tolerant of interruptions. Instead of lollygagging or giving in to distractions, you’ll stay focused on what you have to do.
Planning to do more than you can actually accomplish in one day will help you concentrate on the tasks at hand, and give you a real sense of accomplishment when you discover that you can accomplish so much more than you thought you could.

Check Email When You Want
Is your email killing your productivity? Then it’s time for some basic email management.
Checking email, reading email and answering email can take up hours of time if you let it. But only if you let it.
The first rule of email management is to let your email program manage your email as much as possible. Email management starts with setting up and using filters. If you’re using an email program such as Outlook, you can configure email rules to send your spam directly to the trash – meaning that you don’t waste your time reading and deleting it.
The second rule of email management is to NOT respond to your email on demand. You don’t need to see every piece of email the second it arrives. If you’re using an email program that announces the arrival of new email, turn off the program’s announcement features, such as making a sound or having a pop-up screen announce the arrival of email. Checking email on demand can seriously interfere with whatever other tasks you’re trying to accomplish because most people will read email when they check it.
The third rule of email management is closely related to the second rule: DON’T read and answer your email all day long. You may get anywhere from a handful to hundreds of emails each day that need to be answered, but they don’t need to be answered immediately, interrupting whatever else you’re doing. Instead, set aside a particular time each day to review and answer your email. Schedule the hour or whatever time it takes you to answer the volume of email you get, and stick to that schedule as regularly as possible.
And don’t answer your email at your most productive time of day (the fourth rule of basic email management). For me, (and for many others, I suspect), my most productive work time is the morning. If I start my work day by answering my email, I lose the time that I’m at my most creative. If I’m writing a piece, for instance, it takes me twice as long to compose it in the afternoon or evening than it would in the morning, when I feel fresh and alert.
Answering email, on the other hand, isn’t usually a task that calls for a great deal of creativity. So by ignoring my email until the late afternoon, and answering it then, I get the dual benefit of saving my most productive time for other more demanding tasks, and not continually interrupting whatever other tasks I’m trying to accomplish.
What time of day is your most productive? Scheduling less demanding tasks such as checking, reading and answering email outside of your “best” working time will help you make the most of your working day – and that’s good email management.
Business Planning
Start each day this week with a daily business planning session.
Make your preparations by finding something that inspires you, whether it’s a humorous calendar or a collection of quotes. Arrange to be uninterrupted.
In each daily business planning session, review your goals, think about how you’re going to work towards each goal today, set your daily agenda, and prioritize your daily activities. Close your daily planning session with whatever you’ve chosen to inspire you.
The renewed focus and energy from your business planning session will get you off to a successful start each day.

Small Business Success Program:
To sell, you must believe in your product or service – and believe in yourself. Your selling skills depend, in large part, on your level of self confidence.
Other people sense whether or not you believe in yourself, and by extension, whether or not you believe in what you’re doing. That belief is what persuades the customer or client to buy the product or service. Therefore, increasing your self confidence will improve your selling skills.
Cultivate Self Confidence
Do you believe that you personally are not good at selling? Are worry and anxiety eroding your self confidence?
Everyone has these feelings at one time or another. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t sell successfully. Believing in yourself is like any other attitude; self confidence can be learned. You can increase your self confidence through practice, and that in turn will increase your selling skills.
Develop A Building Self Confidence Routine
Like many other people, I don’t wake up each day revved up with self confidence. But if you met me in person, you would think I was a confident person. That’s because whether I’m going to present a workshop, meet with a client, or even work at home that day, I go through a routine that I’ve developed to pump up my self confidence and get me ready to sell.
The focus of the building self confidence routine is to eliminate all those distractions that are interfering with my concentration on the event at hand, and to put me into the positive, confident frame of mind that I want to present to others, whether in person, or via technology.
My building self confidence routine involves going over all my preparations, going through a ritual of bathing and dressing, and conducting a mental rehearsal that includes using self-praise.
Use Self-Praise To Build Self Confidence
We are surrounded by negative influences. But most of these negative influences exist in our own heads. Awake or asleep, our minds constantly produce a series of thoughts and images, and for many of us, these produce a constant barrage of negative messages.
Using self-praise is a self confidence building technique for combating these negative messages. Instead of allowing your mind to produce whatever messages it wants, consciously override these messages with positive praise about what you’ve done or do well. For instance, say to yourself, “You really handled that crisis well yesterday, when you…” , or “You’re really great at…”. Your self confidence will bloom more readily in a positive mental climate.
Building Self Confidence Routine Tips
Like the daily planning session, your building self confidence routine needs to be uninterrupted. Do not take phone calls during this time, or let family members interrupt you.
It helps to physically confront yourself when you’re conducting a self-praise session to build your self confidence. Many people find it helpful to stand in front of a mirror when they’re doing this, and to speak out loud. Once you’ve become comfortable with the technique, you may wish to go through the self-praise exercise mentally, and combine it with other activities, such as exercise or household tasks.
If you haven’t used a self confidence building technique such as self-praise at first, you’ll probably feel silly when you first start. Ignore these feelings and persevere. Over time, you’ll find your feelings of silliness diminish as your self confidence grows.
The more specific you make your self-praise, the more powerful it will be. And the more you use your building self confidence routine, the more your internal self confidence will develop – the self confidence you need to sell your product or service successfully.

Increase Your Business Success By Visualizing Success
Do you remember the scene in American Beauty where Annette Benning, playing a realtor, is getting a house ready to view, vacuuming and opening drapes while chanting, “I WILL sell this house”? Every time I see this movie, everyone around me laughs.
But I don’t, because this scene illustrates an important feature of achieving success. You have to not only want success, but create it. And one of the ways of creating success is to act with the self-confidence of a successful person. What Annette Benning’s character was doing was raising her self-confidence so she could act successfully, and it’s a technique for achieving success that will work for you, too.
Visualize success to achieve success. Whatever your specific goal is, picture the scenario and see yourself acting successfully.
For instance, if your goal is to get venture capital for your company, imagine yourself presenting your business plan to a group of potential venture capitalists. See yourself making your presentation to the group. Picture yourself as confident, relaxed, knowledgeable. Go through the pitch in your head. See and hear your audience asking questions and answer them. Picture a successful outcome, such as, in this case, the audience wanting to invest in your company.
When you’ve finished running through this visualizing success exercise, you’ll feel your confidence rising and feel more relaxed. Do this exercise every day, as many times as possible before the actual event.
In the example above, for instance, you might visualize this successful presentation for several weeks before the actual meeting. What will happen is that the image will become the reality. By imagining success, you will achieve success. When it comes time to make the presentation, you will be confident, relaxed, and knowledgeable – because you’ve already done it so many times – and have a much better chance at a favourable outcome.
Hokey? Sure. But it works. Achieving business success isn’t just a matter of preparing plans and financial reports; you also need to prepare yourself to act and be successful, and visualizing success will help you do that.
Develop profitable, win/win relationships
No question about it; you provide one of the most valuable services imaginable. However, without an ongoing and ever-increasing number of new, quality prospects, you’ll eventually run out of people with whom to share the benefits. You might even end up asking yourself that most dreaded of questions in the world of sales, which is, “Who do I talk to next, now that my original list of names has run out?” That thought can be downright discouraging, can’t it? Then again, it need not happen.
Develop profitable, win/win relationships with practically every new person you meet – whether one on one or in a social setting.
How? Ask questions. Specifically, “feel-good” questions. These are questions designed to put your conversation partner at ease, and begin the rapport-building process.
So what are some of these “Feel-good” type questions?
1. “How did you get started in the ‘widget’ business?” I call this the “Movie-of-the-Week” question because most people love the opportunity to “tell their story” to someone. This, in a world where most people don’t care enough to want to know their story.

2. “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” Again, you are giving them something very positive to associate with you and your conversation. You are making them feel special, important.
You’ve begun to establish a nice rapport with your new prospect. You are focusing on him or her, as opposed to you and your awesome product, as most salespeople do. He or she is starting to feel good about you and has enjoyed answering your first two “Feel-good” questions. Now it’s time for the “One key question,” and here it is:
“Pat, how can I know if someone I speaking with would be a good prospect for you?”
Here, you’ve continued to establish yourself as being different from all others they meet who are in business, who only seem to want to know, “How can you help me.” Also, since you are asking for help in identifying their prospects, she will gladly supply you with an answer. And the fact is, nothing builds trust and credibility with a prospect than actually referring business to them whenever possible.
Your conversation has ended and you never even mentioned your products or services. Good, since your relationship with this new prospect may not be far enough along for him or her to be receptive to this. (At other times it’s very advisable to bring up.) That’s fine. Hopefully, you’ve gotten your prospect’s business card. Now you are in the position to follow up correctly and systematically in order to nurture this new relationship.
Whenever meeting new people, the above questions will help you to very quickly build your prospect list with high-quality people. And, in a manner that is fun and without stress. You’ll never again feel the “discomfort” in the pit of your stomach, knowing that you have to nervously and clumsily approach someone you don’t want to approach, and whom you can just sense, does not want to be approached.
Know this: the typical person knows about 250 people. Thus, every time you meet one new person, and develop a relationship based on the fact that he or she now feels as though they “know you, like you and trust you” you’ve actually just increased your personal prospect list a potential 250 people, every single time. Do this often enough and before long, you’ll cultivate a network of endless referrals.
Ways To Increase Your Personal Motivation
Here are a few suggestions to help you develop and maintain your motivation.
Attend a personal development workshop. Identify an area in your business or personal live that you would like to improve. At the beginning of each year, I determine what types of programs I want to attend and begin looking for them. I find that these sessions give me a short break from the daily grind of my business and help me see things from a different perspective. Training programs, night courses, or weekend seminars that focus on a specific topic can give you a much needed boost in your energy.
Join a Master Mind group. Meeting with other like-minded people can help you see your business from a different perspective. An effective group will have between six and eight members from a variety of industries and will usually meet several times a year.
Exercise. I am an avid runner and have completed two marathons and several half marathons. I occasionally find myself in a position when I cannot run for a period of time due to illness, injury, or the demands of work. Without fail, I notice a decrease in my personal motivation during these times. Regular exercise helps your body work more effectively and efficiently. Although I usually catch myself thinking about work related issues during my runs, I often notice that I develop more creative solutions when I am exercising.
Read or listen to motivational material. Instead of reading the daily newspaper with breakfast or coffee in the morning, try reading inspirational material instead. A well-written book that offers sound advice is more motivating than reading about the latest market declines. Listening to motivational tapes or CD’s in your car for one hour everyday can actually give you the equivalent of a university degree in a few years time.
Take time off. It is not a badge of honor to state, “I’m too busy to take time off.” In today’s fast-paced business world, it is critical to take time off for vacation and rest and relaxation. Even a long weekend away from your business can be restful. A true vacation also means completely avoiding email and voicemail. Yes, you will have hundreds of messages to deal with when you return, but you will have a renewed focus and energy to do this.
Lastly, associate with positive people. I have made it a point in the latter part of my career to distance myself from negative individuals. They drain your energy, will not support your goals and desires, and do little to motivate you. On the other hand, positive and optimistic people will uplift your spirits and help you through challenging times
Cold Calling Is Still An Effective Sales Tactic If Done Right
The obituary for cold calling is premature. While in the perfect world, your phone would be ringing off the hook all day with clients offering you business, the reality is that if you want business, you need to go after it, and cold calling is an effective sales tactic if it’s done properly.
But many small business people would rather spend an entire day in a dentist’s chair than go cold calling. Does the thought of cold calling makes your stomach drop to your toes? These cold calling tips won’t eliminate your fear, but they will help you make cold calling a more successful experience.
1) Focus on the goal. Beginners tend to think that cold calling is about making the sale. It’s not. It’s about getting the chance to make the sale. Specifically, the purpose of a cold call is to set an appointment to make the pitch.
2) Research your markets and prospects. You need to target your cold calling to the right audience. Use market research to focus on your target market. (See “How To Find And Sell To Your Target Market”.) Then find out as much as you possibly can about the company or individual you’re going to cold call in advance. This gives you the huge advantage of being able to talk about their business and their needs when you call them.
3) Prepare an opening statement. This lets you organize your thoughts before cold calling, and helps you avoid common mistakes in the cold call opening that would give the person you’re calling the chance to terminate the conversation. For instance, you should never ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” or “How are you today?” Don’t read your opening statement into the phone, but use it as a framework to get the conversation off to a good start.
4) What should be in the opening statement of your cold call? This organizational scheme (from AllBusiness.com) works well: “Include a greeting and an introduction, a reference point (something about the prospect), the benefits of your product or service, and a transition to a question or dialogue. For example, ‘Good afternoon, Ms. Marshall. This is Ken Brown with Green Works. I read in the local paper that you recently broke ground for a new office complex. We specialize in commercial landscape services that allow you to reduce in-house maintenance costs and comply with the city’s new environmental regulations. I’d like to ask a few questions to determine whether one of our programs might meet your needs.

Finding Your Target Market
When I teach small business classes on marketing strategy, I often ask participants the question, “Who are your customers? Who will buy your product?” I am often surprised that otherwise savvy small business people either have no idea who will buy from them, or they assume that ‘everyone’ will.
Assumptions like this can lead to wrong decisions, wrong pricing, wrong marketing strategy – and ultimately, business failure.
The most successful small businesses understand that only a limited number of people will buy their product or service. The task then becomes determining, as closely as possible, exactly who those people are, and ‘targeting’ the business’s marketing efforts and dollars toward them.
You, too, can build a better, stronger business, by identifying and serving a particular customer group – your target market.
One of the first things you need to do is to refine your product or service so that you are NOT trying to be ‘all things to all people.’ Become a specialist!
For example, in my business, an eco-tourism company, we made some specific decisions early in our market planning. As a charter boat business, we knew that there were plenty of fishing charter operators in the area, and ‘party boats’ as well. So we decided that we would offer sightseeing or special event charters, and that we would not allow alcohol on board, or fishing rods. Yes, this decision eliminated a percentage of the market – but it also gave us a ‘niche’ that we could capitalize on, and expanded our market in a way that other charter operators could not take advantage of.
Next, you need to understand that people purchase products or services for three basic reasons:
• To satisfy basic needs.
• To solve problems.
To make themselves feel good.
Using Market Segmentation To Define Your Target Market
Zero in on your target market by using Market Segmentation.
First of all, is your product international or national in scope? Or is it more likely that you will sell it primarily in your own region or community? In the case of our charter business, our primary market is actually national or international – tourists who come to this area from all over the world. Our secondary market is local – people who have a special event to celebrate, a company meeting or retreat to plan, or company coming from out of town.
Let’s say that your primary market is local or regional, and that you live in a community with a population of 25,000 people. The first thing you’ll need to do is research the ‘demographics’ of your community, and divide it into market segments:
• Age: children, teens, young, middle, elderly
• Gender: male, female
• Education: high school, college, university
• Income: low, medium, high
• Marital status: single, married, divorced
• Ethnic and/or religious background
• Family life cycle: newly married, married for 10 – 20 years, with or without children.
This information should be available to you through your local town , hall, library, or Chamber of Commerce – and the more detail you can get, the better.
Next, you need to segment the market as much as possible using ‘psychographics’ as your guide:
• Lifestyle: conservative, exciting, trendy, economical
• Social class: lower, middle, upper
• Opinion: easily led or opinionated
• Activities and interests: sports, physical fitness, shopping, books
• Attitudes and beliefs: environmentalist, security conscious.
*Note: if you are a B2B company, you’ll also need to consider the types of industries available to you, and their number of employees, annual sales volume, location, and company stability. In addition, you might want to find out how they purchase: seasonally, locally, only in volume, who makes the decisions? It is important to note that businesses, unlike individuals, buy products or services for three reasons only: to increase revenue, to maintain the status quo, or to decrease expenses. If you fill one or more of these corporate needs, you may have found a target market.
By now you should have a picture emerging of who you think your ‘ideal’ customer is … or who you want it to be. Depending on the nature of your business, you might even be able to write a description of your customer. “My target customer is a middle-class woman in her 30s or 40s who is married and has children, and is environmentally conscious and physically fit.” Based on the numbers you uncovered in your research, above, you may even know, for example, that there are approximately 9000 of those potential customers in your area! It may well be that 3000 of them are already loyal to a competitor, but that still leaves 6000 who are not, or who have not yet purchased the product from anyone. Do the research!
Lots of times prospective customers don’t know about your company, or can’t tell the difference between your company and others. It is your job, once you know who your best customers are, to ‘target’ the group that you’ve identified – even if you have competition.
In addition, you may decide, using the example above, that you’d also like to extend your target market to include women from 50 – 60 years of age. If you go back to the basic reasons why people purchase goods or services, and can find ways to target your efforts to that age group, you may be successful in capturing a bigger share
Know Your Target Market So Your Marketing Will Reach Them
Don’t make the mistake of marketing your product or service before you’ve defined your customer or client. If you do, you’re just throwing your marketing money away.
Marketing isn’t just a matter of placing ads. It’s a method of attracting new business. Before you can hope to achieve this, you have to know exactly who you want to target with your marketing. You need to know your target market before you can reach them.
What’s the point, for instance, in buying an advertising spot on TV if you’re trying to sell whitewater rafting adventures? Are these sorts of people really going to be sitting in front of the tube?
Define your customer by getting to know everything you possibly can about him or her. Think carefully about your product or service. Exactly who would want to purchase it? How old is this person? What is her marital status? Where does she live? How does she like to spend her spare time? What are her hobbies? What other products does she buy? Where does she go on vacation?
You need to develop your target market as specifically as possible if you’re going to market your product or service effectively.

So think of your “ideal” client or customer as a person. Visualize him or her in detail. “See” what he or she does, thinks, and wants.
If you can’t visualize this person clearly and distinctly, then you need to research your potential customer or client until you can. Because until you can define your target market, you won’t be able to make the decisions that need to be made about
f the market!
On the other hand, what if you ‘specialized’ your product or service and then researched your target market, only to discover that there are probably less than 75 people who will buy from you?
First of all, if those 75 are corporate customers who will spend hundreds on your product or service annually, then you have nothing to fear. But if those 75 are only going to spend $10 every decade on your product or service – then you need to go ‘back to the drawing board’ of planning your business and perhaps determining a wider target market – but at least you are armed with all the information you need to start again, or go in a different direction.
Let’s face it – there’s a market, and a target market, for everything.
If you don’t think so, remember pet rocks?

You’ll need to determine which of those categories your product or service is the solution to, and be prepared to market it accordingly.
Your product or service may fit more than one category, too – our charter business primarily targets folks who just want to feel good – spending a day out on the water, relaxing and being waited on. But it also targets people who have visitors coming from out of town, or even overseas, because we represent a solution to the problem of “What will we do while our company is here? How can we entertain them, or show them our area?”
The next step in creating an effective marketing strategy is to zero in on your target market. Continue on to the next page to learn how to use market segmentation to define your target market.