Marketing for Teachers: How to Sell Out Your Courses

VivianaYou think marketing isn’t for you? Think about it this way: If you don’t fill up your classes, you don’t maximize all the work you put into the preparation and planning of your course. It’s like blogging. Writing a great content will only get you so far. You need to actively spread your content to reach out to those who are interested in it, but don’t know you exist…YET!

We want to see fruition of your efforts to create your courses. That’s why we put together some tips and resources to set you off on your way:

1. Know your customer

The first step in any marketing activity is to understand your audience. To whom should you market and how do you most efficiently reach them?

What you should know about the students who are most likely to purchase your services:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • socioeconomic status
  • demographic or physiographic traits
Asian family shopping

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Are you teaching kids or adults? Does your discipline skew towards one gender? It is always a good idea to start marketing your teaching services in the nearby vicinity, and then branching out as the word about how great your classes are spreads. Price is another important factor that will determine your target audience. Some people prefer highly experienced tutor and are gladly willing to pay higher hourly rate. Others look for the cheapest private teacher on the market and are willing to sacrifice the quality.

It is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your discipline. Maybe you find out there is a high demand for your subject in a certain age group or that people are interested in a specific area that is not easily available in your town. Try and narrow your expertise down to something more specific and start growing your student base incrementally.

2. Reach your audience

Now that you determined your target demographic, you need to research how to best reach them. You have a myriad of options when it comes to marketing your business. The critical part is to choose the most effective mediums. Are you willing to pay for advertising or are you going to rely on free media? Are you going to promote your courses in the real world, online or both?

Audience at concert

Image by Nomadic Lass via Flickr

How to determine the best method

This is why understanding your audience is so important. You want to be wherever they are! If you provide educational services for kids, you want to appear wherever their parents are. If you target the younger crowd, you will probably be using social media channels to promote your classes. Or you might want to hold an event to showcase your handicraft skills where  your potential students can learn some basics and get interested in your craft.

It is OK to experiment and try different methods. Testing is one of the vital parts of any successful marketing strategy execution. Make sure you measure the results of each activity so that you can easily determine the most effective one!

No matter how you plan to promote your services, there are some universally proven tactics that will help you sell out your courses:

Start marketing well in advance

Time

Image by Lel4nd via Flickr

Whatever method or channel you choose, allow time to spread your message. Especially if you are new in the business or you just launched a new course. Start marketing your classes 3-6 months in advance. The marketing cycle takes longer than you think. You can start blogging about topics related to your course and start collecting email addresses of your followers.

You can hold events and ask people to give you their phone numbers to get notified when you launch the course. There are many ways you can spread the word about your services and collect contact details of those interested in them. You just need to start early enough. Don’t get disappointed if your first course doesn’t sell out. You have to build your reputation over time!

Offer discounts and freebies 

Sale

Image by by IvanWalsh.com via Flickr

Everyone loves deals! No matter what your opinion is on offers and discounts, they work. If your offer is good enough, people just won’t say NO. There is a trap though. By giving everyone a discount, you lose money on the customers who would otherwise be willing to pay the full price.

Be smart about your offers. Create online custom codes and share then only with your followers. Print special flyers that you only distribute in certain cafes. You can create custom codes with different offers according to who you’re targeting. Again, experiment with what works the best and roll out the most effective method.

Give the first lesson for free. Or offer the entire course for a reduced rate in exchange for a review or a blog post. This way you can build your reputation faster and gain the very much needed credibility.

Provide a money-back guarantee

Guaranteed

Image by missfitzphotos via Flickr

Guarantees help build trust. People are more comfortable buying your service if they see that you offer a satisfaction guarantee. Although most of them will never ask for their money back, it creates a sense of confidence in them.

You will probably have to see whether a free first lesson or a money back guarantee work better for you. Neil Patel provides a comprehensive case study of the two tactics in this article. Try both, measure the results, and decide which alternative is the best for your business!

A standard 30-day money back guarantee can make the difference between someone enrolling into your class or not. Your course cannot be possibly suitable for anyone so do not take it personally if people do ask for their money back. You should rather try to use this as an opportunity to receive an honest feedback.

How do you sell out your courses? Do you have a proven method? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

Did you like our post? Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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Score Your Dream Job: Become a Fashion Stylist

Wendy MakWendy Mak is a Success Stylist™ who helps women entrepreneurs get the successful mindset and realize their full potential. Wendy is a well-known fashion stylist (as seen on The Morning Show, Channel 10 and Today Tonight), coach, and regular media commentator on all things stylish.

When I started my personal styling business there was no training available and I struggled to find a mentor and coach in this industry who was willing to teach me what they knew.

Fast forward to today and I’m proud to say I lead one of the most amazing styling agencies in Australia.

Now I’ve packaged my knowledge in running a successful styling business into an easy-to-understand, fun short course on how to become a personal fashion stylist, so that you don’t have to go through my experience when starting out.

A personal fashion stylist is quite a unique profession. How did you come up with the idea to become one?

When I first decided to start my own business as a personal stylist, I saw a gap in the market. At the time there really were only more traditional image consultants or very expensive fashion stylists for celebrities / someone with lots of money to spend. No one was offering an affordable service to help the every day woman with her wardrobe and style dilemmas.

What were the main challenges you faced as a starting fashion stylist without reputation?

Because personal styling as a service wasn’t very common in Australia at the time, a lot of my focus was on educating people to understand what a stylist is, how we can help and why they should hire one.

You are an advocate of “more is less” when it comes to clothes. Can you explain us your wardrobe philosophy?

A good wardrobe that gives maximum bang for your buck needs balance. I always tell my clients it should have enough of the basics so you can mix-and-match your everyday wear and enough of the “frills” – stuff that’s fun, interesting, colourful and on trend so you can add extra flair to your basics.

Where do you find inspiration for styling your clients?

My inspiration is really from the client herself. I dress every client to reflect their personality, what they are comfortable with and to show off the best of their body shape.

How does an average day of a fashion stylist look like?

It can vary so much! Some days you could be out with clients, in their homes doing a wardrobe review or in the stores helping them with new outfits. Other times you’ll be working on things like your newsletter, social media or following up bookings and appointments. It’s never routine and never dull that’s for sure! You’re always meeting new people too which is most of the fun!

What is the most important skill a fashion stylist needs to have?

Communication skills are THE most important. You need to understand what a client wants, work with their feedback and communicate why you have chosen to dress them in a particular way. So you’re listening, talking and trying to draw out information from your client all the time.

You now train others to become a personal stylist. In a nutshell, what can we expect to learn in your course?

In a nutshell, mine is a 3-day express course for those that love fashion and helping others. In the course you’ll learn how to style women of all shapes, sizes and ages . I also give you step by step instructions on how to conduct a successful wardrobe consultation, shopping trip and how to set up and market your personal styling business.

Fashion Stylist Course

What is the one piece of advice you would give anyone who wants to follow your steps?

Just give it a crack – I think that’s my philosophy for most things in life! If this is what you want to do, get out there, get some training and then DO IT. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you!

More information about Wendy: www.wendymak.com
Enrol in her course Become a personal / fashion stylist course (women’s styling)

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Get the Word Out: How to Market Your Courses Offline

VivianaThe biggest challenge of any new business is to get a continuous flow of clients. And new tutors or teachers are no exception to the rule. Let’s have a look at how you can spread the word about your teaching business with a limited budget. It is the combination of your marketing activities and your reputation that will help you attract new students and grow your business.

Low Cost Methods for Offline Marketing

Notice Board Advertising

Bulletin boards are great places for advertising your teaching business; new or old. They usually get a lot of traffic from your target audience – students and/or their parents. What are the best locations for placing your advertisements? Schools, community centers, public libraries or cafes are one of the best places to promote your services. Try to maximize your reach by advertising in as many of these locations in your area.

Notice Board

Image by by Stew Dean via Flickr

Read more: How to Advertise Offline

Leafleting and Flyers

Another easy and affordable way to spread the word about your teaching services is to distribute leaflets and flyers. It is a popular marketing method for small businesses. Unaddressed mailbox distribution involves delivering flyers to homes or offices in your area. It is a mass marketing method on a local scale with a great possibility to reach your target audience. Door-drop marketing is an affordable option that can bring you in new students. You just need to be careful not to breach any regulations that apply to this method; e.g. “No Junkmail” system in Australia.

Read more: Leafleting in your area

Local Print

Local Print

Image by ilamont.com via Flickr

Advertising in your local newspaper is definitely a great way to let your potential customers know about your business. You will be guaranteed a certain amount of eyeballs and can target your audience by choosing the right publisher. On the other hand, this is probably the most expensive option you have. You might want to use this type of advertising for special promotions and deals to increase the impact of your advertising dollars.

Read more: Print is Dead? Not so Fast.

Merchandise

Branded merchandise can mean pretty much anything with your brand/name/logo on it. A cup, pen or a calendar – anything. Since you are only a starting brand and people have no incentive to show your brand, you want to provide them with something useful. Think about what products can be a good fit for your students.

Read more: How to Make Great Brand Merchandise

Referrals

Word of Mouth

Image by dobrych via Flickr

Word of mouth is a truly powerful marketing method, namely for small business. However, it takes a long time. How can you help the process of spreading the word? Incentivize your current students. Offer them discounts for inviting their friends to join. Leverage your relationships with advocates and influencers to help share your message. Offer them something of value when they work with your brand.

Read More: 4 Steps to Executing a Successful Influencer-Driven, Word-Of-Mouth Campaign

Do you use some interesting offline methods that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

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How to Set Your Tutoring Rate (Part 6)

VivianaThe pricing decision is a crucial one when starting your tutoring or private teaching business. I highly recommend doing a bit of market research as there is an enormous range in the prices in this market. You need to find the RIGHT rate for YOUR services; you don’t want to sell yourself short, but you still need enough students to pay your bills.

How do you determine the right lessons fee for your teaching business?

1. Do Your Own Research

Start with looking around to see what other teachers or tutors charge for their classes. Call teachers offering similar classes and ask for their rates. There are a lot of online forums out there where you can ask other teachers about their fees. Another option is to check Craiglist or Gumtree to see what what is the average rate in your area.

Money

Image by Aaron Patterson via Flickr

TIP: Do not charge less than your competition! Why? First, it sends a signal that you are an amateur without experience. There are people out there who are willing to pay a premium for a reputable teacher. Second, it is always easier to lower your price if you’re not able to attract students at that rate.

2. Consider Your Location 

World Map

Image by Nina Matthews Photography via Flickr

Your location is one of the most important aspects to determine your tutoring rate. In general, prices are higher in big urban areas than in rural regions. You should also take into account your local economy. What does a term of music lessons or dance classes cost? This should give you a rough idea of how much are people willing to pay for extracurricular activities in your area.

3. Evaluate Your Experience

Do you have more or less experience than other tutors who offer comparable classes? Do you have special skills that are currently in high demand? Have you received any awards for your work or do you have extensive performance experience? Naturally, the more experience you have, the more you can charge for your lessons. Have a good think about what sets you apart and what you can offer to your students.

4. Consider Your Educational Background

College Degree

Image by nyuhuhuu via Flickr

What is your highest degree of education? Someone with a PhD can usually charge a lot more than someone with a BA. Do you have a pedagogical background or did you do some kind of a teacher training? Do you have the necessary qualifications to work with children in your country?

As a rule of thumb, any credentials you can show to your prospective students can help. Some parents might place quite a lot of importance on degrees and prefer to pay more for a well educated and experienced tutor or private teacher.

5. Define Your Target Market

Are you targeting higher income individuals or poorer families?  Why do your students attend your classes? Do they need a certificate at the end of the course? Another important factor is the size of the group – Are you offering individual, small group or large group classes?

6. Think About the Nature of Your Subject

Some disciplines require a significant time for preparation while others are not as time-consuming. Do you need to spend a lot of time studying and improving your skills yourself? Are the study materials expensive? Does your subject require a special qualification which is hard to obtain? If you are teaching common subjects such as English or Maths, you normally cannot charge as much for your classes as someone offering specialized IT training.

7. Factor the Distance you Have to Travel

If you offer private lessons at your students’ home, you are likely to spend many hours travelling. Don’t forget to factor this time to your rates as you would otherwise sell yourself short and end up being frustrated with how much you get paid per hour. On the other hand, if you teach at a particular location, this factor is probably irrelevant for you as you have one base for all your classes.

At the end of the day, the amount you can charge for your services depend on the students’ willingness to pay. It’s all about supply and demand and you need to find your sweet spot. Charge everyone exactly the same fee. You don’t want people to find out that someone else is paying less for your classes.

Do you have any other tips on how to determine a lessons fee? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your comments below.

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Part 5. Teaching Face-To-Face Versus Online

VivianaRecent proliferation of online educational tools has changed the way learning experiences are created and shared. Both teachers and students have access to a great variety of online options to either deliver or access classes. Understanding the pros and cons of the different formats can help you decide which environment best suits your needs.

Face-To-Face

Student and Tutor

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

Face-to-face method implies that the lessons are delivered fully on-site with face-to-face interaction between the teacher or tutor and student. This does not mean digital resources and technologies cannot be used as a part of the course. In many cases, they do complement classroom learning and can serve as additional study materials.

Advantages

  • multi-sensory appeal – your students can listen, ask you questions, see your presentations and participate in class activities
  • immediate feedback – you can see when students don’t understand and can immediately interact with them

Disadvatages

  • limited flexibility – you need to follow a set schedule which is not necessarily the best learning time for everyone. Unless you record your lessons, students have only one chance to keep up with the requirements.
  • distraction – students get easily distracted in group classes

A face-to-face meeting in a classroom imposes accountability, inspires effort and promotes academic responsibility in subtle ways that we don’t fully appreciate. On a campus, students attend class and stay alert because they worry what the teacher will think if they don’t.

~ Adam D. Chandler; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Online

Online teaching workspace

Photo by athlwulf via Flickr

An online course is a distance learning course that is provided entirely through a digital learning management system. All assessments occur within the online platform. Students usually interact with their teachers and peers via classroom chats or forums.

It is namely the rising popularity of “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) that is disrupting traditional education and changing the way learning experiences are delivered, accessed and shared.

Advantages

  • convenience – you can manage the course from anywhere at any time. Your students can do their coursework at their own pace from the comfort of their home.
  • efficiency – you save both money and time on travelling and copying materials. Online courses also allow you to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations.

Disadvantages

  • self-discipline – online courses can be challenging it terms of time management and motivation, especially for students. It is difficult for the instructor to stimulate engagement and motivation of the class.
  • limited interaction  the common downsides of online education can be a lack of personal contact and limited student-teacher and student-student interaction. There is a higher potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Good courses, whether on campus or online, are engaging and foster active learning communities. In the best online courses, learners connect, collaborate, inspire, discover and create through myriad technologies.

~ Sara Hill; Learning in Classroom Versus Online

Blended

A blended or hybrid course is a combination of the two methods outlined above. A portion of a course is delivered online and a portion is delivered on-site face-to-face.

Blended Learning

Photo by Cooperating School Districts of STL via Flickr

Advantages 

  • variability – using a variety of online and in-class teaching strategies make it possible to achieve learning objectives more effectively
  • the best of both – a good blended course can take advantage of the pros of both traditional and online education. It allows for class interaction as well as interactive and independent learning activities that are not possible in traditional courses.

Disadvantages

  • challenge – teaching a blended course can be quite challenging. You have to manage content for both online and in-class and prepare students to work in a hybrid format.

Another popular way of teaching is via Skype where student and teacher interact almost face-to-face using video calls. This method allows you to broaden you reach and has similar characteristics to traditional one-on-one education. Many instructors also use Google Hangouts for their classes as it provides them with additional tools that can improve students’ learning experience.

There is no good or bad delivery method of your classes. It ultimately depends on your discipline and your personal preference in terms of how you want to manage your courses.

How do you deliver your classes? What are the challenges you are facing? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share your comments below.

Did you like our post? Next week, we will cover how to set your tutoring rates. Keep in touch for more updates and great links:

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 4. Lesson Policy

VivianaProtecting your teaching business is as important as building it. Sooner or later you will have to deal with students cancelling classes or paying late. This can have a negative effect on your business growth and can quickly zap you of enthusiasm. Be one step ahead and create a Lesson Policy Agreement to establish the rules. It is crucial to create and maintain a teacher-student relationship in order for the lessons to be successful.

Every tutor, studio or school will have different conditions under which the operate. At the same time, there are some common areas that should be included in every lesson policy. It is always better to have things spelled out in a written document to form a partnership where everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Your lesson policy should be fair to both parties to protect you as well as the student.

This information is meant to serve as guide only. You should always seek the advice of a professional  before acting on it.

Roles and Responsibilities

Rules for the teacher

Image by mick62 via Flickr

What is your responsibility as a teacher and what do you commit to? In this section you can outline your teaching style and your role as a teacher in terms of motivation and encouragement of your students; as well as your commitment to creating a stimulating and friendly atmosphere.

What do you expect from your students and what are their responsibilities towards you and your lessons? Perhaps you can specify how often you expect them to practice, state whether you will require them to complete their weekly assignments, or explain that it is their responsibility to show up on time.

These points may sound like a common sense but it is always good to lay down the ground rules to articulate a set of expected behaviors for everyone.

Attendance

It’s a common practice to require certain attendance rate for your course, namely if you provide some kind of certificate at the end of the term. Students are usually required to miss no more than 20 – 25% of the classes. This can be an important information for some people as they might need a course completion certificate for their employer or school.

Cancellations and Reschedules

Closely related to the attendance point is a question of cancellations and reschedules. From talking to many freelancing tutors and teachers, I understand this is one of the main issues they have to deal with and that continuously frustrates them. Even though you put your conditions down on paper, people will try and negotiate with you later and request make-up lessons when they are not, according to your policy, entitled to them. It’s ultimately at your discretion how strictly you will stick to the rules, but you need to be prepared for these situations.

Schedule

Image by theogeo

What you should consider when creating your cancellation policy:

  • How much notice will you require for reschedule?
  • Will you allow exceptions to this requirement, e.g. illness, family emergency?
  • Who will determine the time of make-up lessons?
  • Will you allow reschedules of make-ups?
  • How do you want to be notified of scheduling issues and cancellations?
  • Will you issue credits for cancelled classes?
  • What is the notice period required for termination of the course?
  • Will you charge a fine for terminating the course before the end date?

I did some research around and it seems to be fairly common to ask for 24-48 hour notice for any schedule changes. Same day cancellations and no shows usually results in full lesson fee being forfeited with no rescheduling available. In most cases, make-up lessons are solely based on teacher’s availability and cannot be rescheduled again. I also came across a teacher who has a make-up lesson week at the end of each semester for all students who missed a lesson, which I thought was a great way to deal with this issue. It is a common practice not to issue credits for cancelled classes, unless cancelled by the teacher. Some teachers reserve the right to terminate the contract after two unexcused absences, some charge a fine if the student terminates the course early. The conditions differ from business to business.

It might be a good idea to include all days with no lessons held in your policy, e.g. public holidays or school holidays. Do your lessons follow the local school calendar? Are they weather dependent?  If so, indicate what will happen in the case of bad weather.

Read more about make-up lessons:

Payment

Money

Image by martinhoward via Flickr

This is obviously one of the most important parts of your lesson policy as it determines how you will get paid for your teaching services. You have to determine how much you will charge for you classes and what are the conditions of any discount you may offer. Specify how and when you want to be paid. Do you want your students to pay on a monthly basis or do you require them to pay the entire course upon enrollment? Will you accept late payments? How are you going to deal with consistently overdue accounts? These are some thought starters for you to consider. In any case, you might want to seek the advice of an accountant and/or a lawyer to determine the best terms and conditions for your business.

Teacher Absence and Refunds

As mentioned earlier, you need to decide under which conditions you will issue refunds for cancelled classes. It is recommendable that you, as a business, offer compensation for services you could not provide; for any reason. In the event of absence from your part, you might want to offer make-up lessons based on the student’s availability. If you don’t find a suitable time, issuing them a credit is probably the best solution.

Some more questions to think about: How much notice will you have to let them know of your absence? What happen in case you need to terminate the entire course due to unforeseen circumstances?

Tardiness

Time Flies

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

How long are you willing to wait for your students? Again, it’s ultimately up to you, but you it’s a good idea to include this in you lesson policy so they are not surprised next time they arrive twenty minutes late and you’re gone. To play fair, you should apply the same time limit to yourself and offer them a make-up class or a refund if you are significantly late. Having said that, you want to aim at not being late under any circumstances! It is your prime responsibility to be on time and prepared for each lesson.

What Is Included

What is covered in the tuition and what is not? Do you provide your students with any study materials as part of the course? Are your travel expenses included in the fee? Are students expected to bring any specific books, tools and equipment? This will obviously depend of what you teach and where. Just make sure everyone knows exactly what they’re paying for, so there is no surprises later.

I hope by now you are ready to create your own Lesson Policy Agreement. Do you have any other tips I didn’t include in the post? I’d love to know them, so please share them with us in the comments section.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 3. Create a Business Plan

VivianaMany people think creating a business plan is a complicated process and see it as a necessary evil. But… it can actually be quite an exciting activity! Look at it from this perspective: you are laying down the foundations of your future entrepreneurial endeavor. And a business plan will help you articulate your idea and get you started on the right foot

Don’t worry, you won’t have to spend hours writing it. All you need to do is answer 10 simple questions! The days of a 60-page business plans are long gone, thank God! The process can be actually done in an hour, or maybe an afternoon. Still not convinced? It can be done on one page too!

To help you with this matter, I created a one-page business plan template so that you can just fill it out and get your teaching business started today!

The One-Page Business Plan

I created this business plan template based on my own research and experience. I used it for the purpose of starting my own business as I strongly believe in the power of “less is more”. If you can define your business in one simple sentence, you’re likely in a good position to launch and grow your company.

Less is More

Image by hooverine via Flickr

How to fill out the One-Page Business Plan

Now that you have your business plan template in front of you, you can see how simple it is to fill it out. You don’t have to be an experienced business strategist or a marketeer to be able to answer those questions. As an example, I will use my fictitious “Chili Cooking School” to walk you through the template. I love to cook spicy food so if anyone actually offers these courses, please get in touch with me.

Now, let’s get started!

OVERVIEW

In the first section, you are asked to describe WHAT you offer, WHO are your customers and WHO are your competitors. This section outlines of your (future) business and will serve as a foundation for the strategic part of the plan.

Q1. What service(s) will you offer? What do you do and what is special about it?Try to provide one-sentence description of your business. You can pretend this is a question a friend asked you. What would you respond so they immediately understand the nature of your business?

Example: We offer cooking courses specializing in spicy ethnic foods. Our renowned chefs only use fresh local produce and home-grown organic chilies and spices.

Chilies

Image by Nina Yasmine via Flickr

2. Who will buy your service(s) and why? Define your potential customer and explain why they will pay for your service. Ask your (potential) customers why they (will) use your service, if you’re not sure. You need to get to know your target market and understand their needs well.

Example: Our classes are for spicy food lovers who want to learn how to prepare quality hot dishes. They will attend our classes to learn about exotic chilies spices and their preparation methods.

3. List your three main competitors. Start gathering information about your competitors, or at least identify who they are. Keeping an eye on your competition is necessary for growing your business. Even if there is no direct competition in your local area, there are always indirect competitors you will have to face sooner or later.

Example: There is no other school in Sydney offering spicy cooking classes. Jay’s Culinary School offers ethnic cooking classes, Fresh Cuisine and Cook Healthier provide organic cooking lessons.

Read more: 10 Tips on How to Research Your Competition

STRATEGY

The second part of the template should help you develop a compelling value proposition and define what is it that you business will bring to the market.

“Strategy is not planning — it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.”

Source: Harvard Business Review

4. How will your product solve your customers’ problems? This question is closely related to the question number 2. What problem is your business solving and how? Every time we buy something we are, in a way, solving a problem we have. To simplify the matter; if we’re hungry, we buy ourselves a snack.

Problem Solving

Image by StockMonkeys.com via Flickr

Think about your business as a solution to someone’s problem. Why do your customers need you? What problem is your product responding to by being on the market? These are very important questions. To offer a service is not enough, you need to offer a service that people need!

Example: It is difficult to find exotic chilies in Sydney. People spend long time researching exotic spicy recipes with an uncertain outcome. We have a great selection of fresh chilies and work with experienced chefs so spicy food lovers can discover new flavors through a hands-on experience.

5. What makes you different? Why is your service different and better than the competition? It is unlikely your service is one-of a-kind. I bet there are other tutors or private schools in your area who have similar courses in the same discipline. You have to think about what makes you stand out from the crowd and how you can distinguish yourself from the competitors. In other words, you have to create a Unique Selling Proposition.

Example: We offer unique cooking experience for anyone interested in spicy cuisine. We pride ourselves in providing organic fresh produce and grow the largest selection of fresh chili peppers in the country.We work with renowned chefs in Sydney. 

6. How are you going to make money? How much does it cost you to provide the service you want to offer? How much does your service cost and how many customers can you expect? You need to get into the basic financial modelling to make sure your business will be profitable. Again, start with simple assumptions and basic calculations to have an overall idea.

Example: We will host 50 cooking courses in 2014. Each course costs $500. We expect to have 10 students per course. Our estimated costs are $150.000. Our projected profit for 2014 is $100.000.

Gap

Image by S John Davey via Flickr

7. Describe the gap in your market. Questions 3 and 7 are not about your business but about your competition. After you have found your main competitors, you should be able to identify what is missing on the market you are planning to enter. And more importantly, are you filling that gap?

Example: While there are multiple quality cooking schools in Sydney, none of them specialises in spicy foods. While other schools provide organic local produce, none of them grow their own spices. Classes taught by renowned chefs are rare to find.

8. How will your potential customers learn about your business? How will you attract your first students? Outline your go-to-market strategy. You need to think about how you will reach your target market and where you will promote your service. Your marketing strategy will depend on many elements: the nature of your business, who your customers are and how they consume information; and obviously your budget. You cannot expect that people will find you. Especially at the beginning, you need to FIND THEM!

Example: Offline: We will advertise our courses on the local radio stations and in the local newspaper. Online: We will be using Google AdWords and Facebook Ads to promote our school. We will give all new students a 10% discount. We will use our chefs as our brand ambassadors to spread the word.

Find your destination

Image by VinothChandar via Flickr

9. What are you aiming at? What is your long-term vision? Think about where you want your company to be in three years. Your vision should be inspiring and extincting for everyone that works with you. Having a vision is about knowing where you’re going, not how you’re going to get there. First, you need to choose a destination, then you figure out the best way to get there.

Read more: Creating a Company Vision

Example: To become one of the most renowned Sydney’s cooking schools; providing world-class customer experience. To be the destination for spicy food lovers.

10. How will you measure success? Your business, like everybody else’s, is based on assumptions. There are different metrics you can employ to measure performance of your business against those assumptions. It’s a hard call because these will depend on how you actually define success of your business. Is your success going to be measured by profit, company productivity, customer or employee satisfaction? Probably by a combination of at least some of these.

Read more: Five measures for micro business success

Example: The most important metrics we will use to measure success are: brand awareness, sales conversion rate, customer satisfaction index, revenue growth.

I hope by now you are ready to create your own business plan and you will have fun doing so! I’d love to hear your experience with filling out the One-Page Business Plan. Please share your comments or questions below.

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