Aaron Hoos’ weekly reading list: ‘Business models, prospecting, and social media’ edition

Aaron Hoos: Weekly reading list

Here are a few of the things that caught my attention this week:

  • How to turn your business idea into a business model: I’m totally a sucker for any article that contains the word “business model” in the title. It’s Pavlov’s bell to me. This article by Entrepreneur does a great job of highlighting the difference between a business idea and a business model and then connects the dots to help you turn your great idea into an actual enterprise. This article is a must-read for any entrepreneur who thinks they’ve created a better mousetrap.
  • Live to prospect or prospect to live?: This is a blog post by my friend Mark McLean. Like so many of his blog posts, it contains really practical advice for real estate professionals who want to grow their practice. In this blog posts (which contains video and text — be sure to watch the video!), Mark talks about running (he’s an avid runner) and draws some parallels to prospecting — possibly the most important activity any real estate pro can do.
  • Downtowns: This article by The Economist explores the consequences (both good and bad) of cities. Cities have some advantages, like diminished transportation costs and improved competitiveness (if you’re a Michael Porter fan, you’ll think this stuff is gold!). Cities also have disadvantages, primarily short-term economic thinking that can lead to downturns and even amplify their impact. I live this type of macroeconomic thinking (although I recognize that it’s not going to compel anyone to abolish cities anytime soon). What’s interesting about this article, to me, is that you could exchange the word “city” for “nation” and the article preserves a lot of truth. Many of the opportunities and challenges created by a city are also created, on a larger scale by a nation. This article won’t interest everyone but it’s well worth a read if you love economics as much as I do.
  • 20 astonishing social media statistics for financial advisors: I often hear from financial professionals that social media is not a place where they can do business. It’s hard to target geographically, people don’t want to talk about finances on social media, and there are (of course) regulatory considerations as well. But this article from the Financial Social Media blog, does a great job of presenting a number of social media statistics that should jolt these professionals into taking a second look at social media. I’m not saying it will be easy but it’s definitely worth considering how your financial practice can use social media. If you’re not sure how, start by developing your social presence map.

Aaron’s Answers: Should I buy an existing business, buy a franchise, or start my own business?

There are a lot of choices to make when starting up a new venture. One of the things that entrepreneurs have to decide is whether or not they should buy an existing business, buy a franchise, or start their own business. Each one offers advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed.

BUYING AN EXISTING BUSINESS

Buying an existing business is one that has already started; one that has been marketing, selling, and earning revenue from a client-base. It might be in various stages of start-up — perhaps a relatively new company that the founder is selling, or perhaps a well-established company from which the founder is looking to retire and move on.

I think you’re looking for two types of businesses: Either, you’re looking for an established clientele, positive word of mouth, a strong supply chain, good processes, and strong financials that you can buy, walk in on day one, and continue earning profit; or, you’re looking for a business that is currently struggling but has potential to grow.

Compared to the other two options (buying a franchise or starting your own business), you’ll need a comparatively large amount of money up-front to get into this business because it’s established already. But the advantage is, you can potentially start earning an income almost right away (depending on the stage of the business and whether or not the previous owner was active and successful in the business prior to your buying it). Expect to pay more for a healthy company that has existing cash flow.

BUYING A FRANCHISE

Buying a franchise is when you buy a brand and marketing system from a company for a business that hasn’t yet started. This is a nice hybrid model between buying an existing business and starting your own. The business may not be started up yet but you are shortcutting the process with an established and recognized brand, and a business system already in place.

You’re looking for a company that has a strong, positive presence on a larger scale (i.e. in the national market) but has not saturated your marketplace. Look for a franchise that provides support and education and all of the marketing tools you need. Perhaps compare several franchises within the same industry to identify the best one for you.

Expect to pay a franchise fee for the right to use the brand and the business system, and expect to put in time to grow your business. Depending on the franchise, the up-front fee and the ongoing fee could be small or large. If you have some money and some time, but you want a slightly faster start with an established brand, this might be a good option for you.

STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

Starting your own business is the third option. It’s when you create a brand from scratch and build your own business model and products or services.

You really are starting from zero and building it up from there. Not surprisingly, it can take longer to do but many entrepreneurs prefer it because they have the most control over the process plus it generally has a lower “cost” to start.

There are costs, including financial costs, but most of the costs are likely going to be your time. And it might take a while before you establish your brand and start earning money. This is an advantage for people who want to start a business part time while they are working. But be prepared to spend a lot of time! The fail rate is potentially higher with these types of businesses because they can take a while to get off the ground and there is a lower-perceived cost to start them.

SO WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

The short answer is: It partly depends on how quickly you want to earn money, and it partly depends on how much money and time you have available. (There are other considerations but these are the big ones, in my opinion). If you want to earn money as quickly as possible, buy an existing business; if you have time, start your own business. If you have more money than time, buy an existing business; if you have more time than money, start your own business.

Marketing is an investment. What’s your marketing’s ROI?

Marketing is an investment of time, effort, and money. Entrepreneurs invest these valuable assets in the hopes of getting a return (i.e. a response by prospects that leads to more business).

All of your business’ marketing is an investment, which means you need to decide whether or not a marketing effort is worth it based on the return on that investment.

Recently a business information resource site, I wrote an article called 5 Laws of Marketing ROI in which I outlined 5 useful rules that will help entrepreneurs make decisions about the return they can get on their marketing.

Check out the article here:

5 Laws of Marketing ROI

(The above link opens in a new window and sends you to the article on EvanCarmichael.com)