I have learned the hard way how to make money selling products and services locally. What I now know is this. To consistently make money selling products and services locally, you need to have a business plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to exist.
People and businesses don’t fail, they fail to plan. Effective planning has become an increasingly important factor in the success of any local business. Airline pilots don’t take off without a flight plan, even if they have flown the same route hundreds of times. The results could be catastrophic. Similarly people selling products locally shouldn’t assume they don’t need a business plan or marketing plan to successfully sell enough products and services within the local community to make money. Without a step by step plan, the results could be financially disastrous.
Some Facts about Making Money
Losing money is easy, anyone can do it. Learning how to make money selling products and services locally isn’t necessarily very hard. But to be successful, it does require some additional thought and planning. The good news is that there are so many people and businesses in the world with the knowledge and experience to provide quality help and support that creating a business plan from scratch isn’t that complicated. In addition there are plenty of companies that provide all kinds of business planning services.
To create and implement a business plan that will ultimately help you make money you need to be familiar this term; flexibility. Because there are so many variables associated with starting and running any local business in our world today, it becomes almost impossible to specifically point to any one particular step by step process that will guarantee that you will make money if you accomplish the steps in that process. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan, it means you need to be flexible and understand that a step in the process that works for one person may not necessarily work for you.
Research now clearly indicates that if you don’t have a plan that has specific steps to follow, you’re much more likely to lose money selling products and services locally than you are to make money in the long term.
Learning How to Make Money is a Process
There are plenty of people that are successfully selling products and services locally that claim that they never had a business plan. What studies indicate is that most of these people spent very little time writing about an idea and more time just doing it. Many of these people attribute their success to a personal feeling of clarity and purpose that enabled them to operate with a passion that not only ruled the day, but saw them through adversity.
What has become increasingly apparent in local economies around the world is this; the days of hanging a sign on the door and waiting for customers to walk through are gone. The marketplace today is more complicated than it used to be. Consumers are savvy and smart. Consumers have options. Consumers are in control.
As a result, to make money selling products and services locally, not only do you need to have a sense of purpose and passion for what you are doing, but you need to have a sense of what your plan is going to help you accomplish.
In general your plan should help you do the following:
- Identify and clearly articulate your why. Why are you going to do this? Understanding your purpose is essential to creating passion.
- Define how you are going to help people. If you truly focus on helping people get what they want, eventually you will get what you want.
- Outline the scope of your project. It’s generally much smarter to start small and go from there. If you realize it isn’t going to work, if you’ve started small, you have less to lose.
- Identify who your customers are. Focus on a well-defined market or niche.Can you potentially be the best in this market? This strategy is almost always more successful than being just another player in a massive market.
- Define your business model.How are you going to make money? Is it through transactions, advertising, subscriptions, etc.
A Step-By-Step Guide – How to Make Money Selling Products and Services Locally
1. Identify a problem or desire that people have.
Its basic human nature to have needs and desires and consequently the very first step in a consumers purchasing decision making process is to consciously recognize they have a need or desire. A product or service that will helps someone else solve that need or satisfy that desire then has a specific value to that individual. Selling that product or service in turn provides you opportunity to financially benefit.
2. Ask yourself a serious question; do you have a genuine interest in helping people solve this problem or satisfy this desire?
In our world today it’s simply not enough to put up a stand on the side of the road and wait for people to stop and purchase whatever you’re selling. If it was that easy, everybody would do it. It just doesn’t work that way. Today’s consumers are smart and savvy. They have access to more resources and information than ever before and subsequently can make better decisions. From the consumers viewpoint that decision making process includes “evaluating options.” You wouldn’t knowingly pay more for the same product or service unless paying more had some additional value to you. Neither will anybody else.
As a result, if you are going to sell products and services locally you need to be able to specifically identify what unique value you offer potential customers. Is it your personality, your knowledge, your location, your packaging, your pricing or something else? The point is this; to be unique you really must have a genuine interest in helping people solve a particular problem or satisfy a specific desire.
3. Decide what a good solution to the problem or desire is.
For any given problem or personal desire there are usually multiple ways to solve that problem or satisfy that desire.
4. Look for existing products and services that are already being sold that provide a solution to the problem or satisfy the desire.
Who is selling these products and services? At what price are these products and services being sold? Make a list of the people and businesses that you would consider to be competitors if you were in the business right now.
5. If there is more than one type of product or service that fixes the problem or satisfy the desire, make a list of them.
6. Make a comparison chart for your list of products and services and list the pros and cons of each one.
7. Identify what you like and dislike about each of the products and services on your list.
8. Identify which of the products and services you think is the best and why. Write them down.
9. If you can, identify how you might improve the current product or service if you started selling it today.
10. Make a list of people and businesses that you think have a need and/or desire to purchase the current product or service that you have identified as the one you like the best.
11. Identify where the people on your list purchase that particular product or service.
12. Identify how you think the people purchasing that particular product or service know where to purchase that product or service. How do you know where to purchase that product or service?
13. Read as much as you can about the products and services you have chosen. Read the product and service online reviews. What do the people writing reviews say about that product or service?
14. Ask yourself this: does the product or service appear to solve the problem or satisfy the desire for the people writing the reviews as you thought it would?
15. Are the people purchasing those product and services and then writing the reviews the same people you identified in step number 10 as people who need and want this product or service?
16. Are the people using the product or service using it the way it was intended or are they using it to solve a different problem or satisfy a different desire?
17. Ask yourself another question; based on your research, do you need to revise the list of people and businesses you think have a need or desire for this product or service?
18. Consider working in some way with an organization that already sells the products and services you are considering.
19. Based on what you now know. Make a list of features or elements that you could add or change to this product or service to improve and/or add value to the product or service. This could be in almost any form; the design of the product or service, the packaging, the delivery of the product or service, the purchasing location etc.
20. Decide how you want to sell this product or service; from a store front, online, through the mail, etc.
21. Who is going to supply the products and services you are going to sell? Are you going to purchase the product from a whole seller? Are you manufacturing the product yourself? Are you going to provide a service yourself? Do you need a license or certificate to provide the service or sell the product?
22. Calculate how much it is going to cost you to purchase the product or deliver the service.
23. Calculate how much it is going to cost you monthly to rent or purchase a store front, have a website, for telephone, electricity, insurance, transportation, licenses, taxes, etc.
24. What type of entity are you going to use to sell this product or service? Are you a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership etc.
25. Are you going to hire employees? Who are they going to be? Do they need to be licensed? How are you going to pay them? Be sure you understand your responsibilities and obligations as an employer before you start hiring.
26. How are customers going to pay you for the product or service? If you are going to accept credit and/or debit cards you need to have a merchant account and a way of securely accepting those cards.
27. Decide the price you are going to charge for the product or service.
28. Calculate how many pieces of the product or service you need to sell each month to cover all the expenses you have identified so far.
29. How are you going to market your products and services? This is important. The days of hanging a sign on the door and waiting for customers to walk through are gone.
30. What is the cost of this type of marketing? How effective is it for other people in your niche?
31. How are you going to manage your time? Are you going to be the one building the product or providing the service? How will that impact your ability to grow your business and/or accomplish the other necessary tasks that need to be accomplished to be successful?
32. Try to learn and understand the mistakes other people have made selling this product or service in the past. Take the steps necessary to avoid making the same.
33. Make sure you have the financial resources to execute your plan. This includes the possible need for credit to purchase the product with the understanding that you may not be able to re-sell that product for some period of time.
34. Make sure that you have enough of a financial reserve to support the operation if you have unexpected expenses and/or your business plan does not produce the results you expected.
35. Be flexible. Murphy’s law states that if anything can go wrong, it will.
36. If you have a family or other people that you are close to and are a part of your life, make sure you have their support and understanding.
37. You must have a marketing plan. In fact a marketing plan is the most important part of your business plan. You might have the best product and service in the world, if potential customers don’t know you exist; they won’t buy it from you.
38. Avoid these general mistakes:
- Purchasing a property or signing a lease to open your store without a thorough understanding of exactly what you are going to be selling and who you are going to be selling to. You wouldn’t go out and purchase new furniture for a house and then go looking for a house to put it in, nor should you purchase or lease a store front and then look for products and services to sell.
- Signing legal documents like leases without knowing exactly what you are signing. Many legal contracts include personal guarantees and/or assign financial responsibilities that you definitely want to know and understand before you commit to them.
- Not having a business plan. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to exist. People and businesses don’t just fail, they fail to plan.
- Revenue assumptions. Not many people are lucky enough to start selling a product or service and be instantly successful. You can’t bet your future on an assumption that you are going to sell a certain number of products and services immediately and then suddenly realize you’re not anywhere close to being correct. Plan to not be successful immediately.
39. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek assistance. Most capitalistic societies have tremendous resources available to help people and businesses selling product and services succeed.
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