What Not To Do When You Start A Business

What Not To Do When You Start A Business

There are a million tips out there for starting your business. But there are a few things NOT to do until you spend some time doing some serious research.

Don’t write a business plan yet

Research your idea and if it already exists, who the competition is, and who the perceived competition is. What’s “perceived competition” you ask?  Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of believing they don’t have any competition in the market because no one else does EXACTLY what their idea does. But, the public doesn’t necessarily know or believe that. You need to research the companies who are doing something similar- even if you don’t think they are really competition, the public may not realize that.

Don’t name your business/ product yet

Research your concepts, and please please hire a professional designer and brand strategist to help you with this. You need to make sure no one else has that name, or similar concept- because I expect you want to avoid trademark infringement.  Plus, you need to know who your target audience is and how they will respond to your brand.

Don’t  start searching for funding yet

You need to have more than an idea. You need to have completed the research on your competition, market, target audience and overall idea before you even think about approaching someone and asking for funding. Serious investors are going to want to see a full business plan that is well written and well developed through research. Hire a professional capital generation firm to help you find qualified funders when you are ready.

Don’t rely on what your friends and family say

Listen, they are your friends and family, there are certain things that they will tell you and certain things they will not. Asking people in your inner most circle will not reveal how the general public and your target audience actually feel about your idea. Most people who know you will not share their full feelings- good or bad- with you as the idea originator. Instead, invest in a focus group. It will reveal a great deal about your idea and will ultimately lead you in the best direction possible for success.

So, get to work, you have a lot of homework to do! And, after you do all that- talk to a professional third party to do some additional research for you.  Being armed with the back up you need will make all the difference in your success.

4 Surprising Facts About Millennial Spending Habits

4 Surprising Facts About Millennial Spending Habits

You may ask, “What does this have to do with marketing?” well my friend, let me explain. Millennials are the hottest target audience in the market today. The majority of companies are targeting 18-30 year olds because they know that’s where they will get the most out of their branding and ROI’s. Millennials are constantly sharing and promoting products they love and voicing they’re opinions on products they don’t, so you can see how such an influential group of people can mean success for any business.

As a “selfish” and “entitled” Millennial though, I feel it is my duty to defend my own (hmmm maybe this what they were referring to as entitled?), especially when it comes to my spending habits, because c’mon, lets me realistic…they’re not that great. We often get a bad rap for not contributing to society: being unemployed, living with our parents, and putting off getting married or having kids. But with a collective $1 trillion in student debt and the constant rejection of employers, can you really blame us?

I recently stumbled upon a Business Insider article that summarized a report by Mizuho Securities surveying more than 1,500 millennials aged 18-34 on their spending habits, and was pleasantly surprised to find that millennial spending habits aren’t as bad as society makes them out to be. I guess there is more to us than meets the eye (and our wallets). Here are 4 [surprising] facts about millennial spending habits and my thoughts on them:

1. “Millennials do most of their shopping in physical stores. Sure, they are tech savvy and frequently shop online, but millennials haven't completely abandoned stores and shopping malls. They like to touch and feel products before they buy them, and still appreciate the experience of shopping in a store. In fact, millennials still complete 54% of shopping in physical stores, according to the report.”

 Yes. Yes. Yes. I am a first-hand account of this one, partly due to my slight shopping addiction, but nonetheless, factual.

2. “Millennials save more money than the national average. "Contrary to popular rhetoric regarding a highly challenged consumer who may be burdened with debt and living 'paycheck to paycheck,' our survey of millennials suggests the majority of the demographic (74% of total responses) saves money every month compared to 26% who do not," the report says.”

Listen, budgets are hard work. First of all, actually building a budget is a task in itself, but actually following through? Forget about it. But in all seriousness, saving is important. We know it’s annoying, but we also know its necessary. Even saving $20 a month, could be very beneficial in the long run! To my fellow millennials who don’t have a savings account: get on it!

3. “Millennials are planning to buy homes. They are delaying home-buying and marriage and kids, but they are planning to get to those life milestones eventually. When asked what they are saving for, millennials said (1) a house, (2) a car, and (3) retirement.”

Of course we want homes, what do you think we’re saving up for? Maybe we’re not looking to have the traditional “white picket fence” home, but we still want a place to call our own. As far as having kids, some of us want to wait because we want to be financially prepared for the expenses that come with raising a family (aka responsibility) OR some of us just simply don’t want kids. Is that such a crime? Plus, why change diapers when you can cuddle with a dog? Just saying. 

4. “Millennials aren't just relying on Uber and Lyft to get around. They are actually buying cars. Like with homeownership, many millennials have delayed purchasing cars. But car buying among this demographic is rapidly rising and will continue to grow, according to the report. About 64% of millennials plan to buy a car in the next two years, and most of those who don't plan to buy a car already own one, according to the data. Only 5% of respondents said car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft serve as a replacement for owning a car.”

I believe this 100%. Sure, Uber and Lyft are life-savers after a Saturday night out at the bar, but relying on a car-sharing service 24/7 can get a little stressful. As I mentioned before, we want something to call our own and having to depend on an Uber simply isn’t cutting it. I’m not saying we’re out purchasing Range Rovers and Mercedes Benz left and right (although it would be nice to be able to afford a Rover), but we are still financing cars and steadily growing that sales market. 

To end today’s article, or what appears to sound more like a rant, don’t underestimate Millennial spending habits. We work hard for what we want and no matter how many obstacles you throw at as (yes, this is directed to you baby boomers) we will continue to contribute our part to this world and grow any business who wishes to pursue us. We are loyal to the products/brands that we love, thus making our presence in the market very valuable!

10 Thoughts I Have While Trying To Be A Creative Goddess

10 Thoughts I Have While Trying To Be A Creative Goddess

How am I going to make sure the design/concept is going to stand out?

I’m going to scour the internet and designs trends to do the necessary preliminary research and brainstorming. If someone says they can do a logo for you in 1hr for $20, they are a lying liar and you will get clipart.

Am I good enough?

Yes, I am. I am a magical unicorn dipped in peanut butter (don’t think about it, just stay with me here). I have worked hard to get where I am. There is a reason clients chose to do business with me.

Is the client going to like it?

As long as I have collaborated with the client and really made sure I asked them the right questions, 9 times out of 10 they are going to like it. I always go through concepts with the client as well. They will appreciate the process and there is no point in keeping them in the dark.

Is my dog going to like it?

Yes, it will be the most gorgeous thing she’s ever seen and she will cry little doggy tears of happiness.

Is my cat going to like it?

No, he’s a judgmental a**hole. He just wants my scrap paper to lay on.

Does the design suit the company or business?

If I have done my research on the client and audience before I begin the preliminary work, then yes. This helps me determine the best design style from the start and saves me the tragedy of being hangry later on.

What’s that over there?

It’s usually a stray tortilla chip. And it will get eaten.

...now I want some more chips....

I need to just walk away.

This is an important step. Sometimes I get so in my head and overwhelmed with making everything perfect that I lose sight of what I am trying to accomplish. At this point I am doubting my entire existence. The best thing at this point is to get up, walk around, pet a furry friend, go for a run, eat some queso, anything to give your mind a break.

Why is the client so dead set on purple everything?

This question will never be answered. Don’t judge me. Purple is terrible. Except purple grapes. They make wine. They win at everything.

What To Expect (And Not Expect) From Your Marketing Firm

What To Expect (And Not Expect) From Your Marketing Firm

Working with your marketing firm or ad agency should be a partnership.  A partnership that allows for open communication, integrity and respect.

You should expect this from your firm.  And they should be able to expect this from you.

When this kind of partnership exists you can expect the following:

  1. Expect them to want the best for your business.
  2. Expect them to give you their best.

In order to do that, they’ll expect you to give them the time, consideration and trust to do the job you hired them to do—this is why you chose them.

Expect to be frustrated at some time during the process.  Usually that happens early on, because a great deal of work is being done that you may not be aware of.  There is much data to be gathered, research to be done, competitive analysis to assemble, and it all needs to be assessed and processed.  There is an extraordinary amount of information to sort through in order to determine what’s valid vs what’s relevant as it relates to the marketing, branding and communication of your product, service or business. Good ideas take time. Don’t expect to rush the process.

That said, expect them to keep you updated on what’s happening and the progress that’s being made. Expect weekly communication at the very least.

Expect them to first give you what you ask for…then to bring you alternative thinking if they believe it will serve you better. They’ll expect you to be open to hearing their ideas. If you have doubts just ask questions to understand their thinking—there might be something that didn’t occur to you, something even better than you asked for.

All in all, don’t expect miracles.  But expect really good stuff if you’ve established the kind of partnership described above.