How To Start, Create And Launch an Online Digital Magazine
How do you create a digital magazine from scratch? At Foundr Magazine, we get countless messages every day asking us how to start a digital magazine. When it comes to creating a digital magazine from scratch, it’s not as simple as people make it seem (and it sure wasn’t easy for us, we promise you […]

How do you create a digital magazine from scratch?

At Foundr Magazine, we get countless messages every day asking us how to start a digital magazine. When it comes to creating a digital magazine from scratch, it’s not as simple as people make it seem (and it sure wasn’t easy for us, we promise you that).

That’s why, for the first time ever, we’ve decided to completely unpack our own process for our readers, and share all of the behind-the-scenes secrets we’ve learned along our journey so far. Foundr is always about actionable advice, so we have an actionable, step-by-step, easy-to-digest article that lays it all out for you.

Let’s start at the first step: the beginning.

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How We Started Our Own Digital Magazine

Foundr Magazine started like any company: small. On March 5th, 2013, Issue #1 of Foundr was published. It made $5.50 in profit with 79 downloads that day.

foundr entrepreneur digital magazine
The very first issue of Foundr Magazine.

It’s a little different from what we publish today, isn’t it?

When it comes to launching your first digital magazine, chances are it won’t be perfect, but it’s a necessary step you need to take in creating that perfect version. The Foundr magazine you may be familiar with today wasn’t always that way, and issue 1 is proof of that.

Even today, we are still tweaking and improving our magazine. Our cover has been graced by some of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, and Daymond John, but we never forget that it all begun with that first issue.

foundr color logo branding

Launching a digital magazine takes a lot of work, but it’s super fun and can be an incredible platform for your business. We’ve broken down our process of creation into easy to follow steps, helping you to understand all the important stuff for planning a digital magazine.

READ MORE: How to Build a Profitable Marketing Strategy

So, You Want to Create a Digital Magazine?

A digital magazine is good for nearly any business, but there are a few questions you need to establish early on. Asking yourself these questions will give you a clearer idea of why you want to create a magazine, but more importantly, it will help guide your decisions further down the track.

Is a Digital Magazine Right for Your Business?

The first thing you need to do before launching your own digital magazine, is you need to make sure that it’s the right move for you and your business.

First off, check to see if there are successful digital magazines in your niche. If not, this may be a red flag that a digital magazine is not well-suited for your target audience. It may be that your target audience is older, and prefers print magazines. Or perhaps there isn’t enough varied content in your niche to create regular publications. You can only find out by doing research to prove your concept.

What’s Your Financial Situation?

Another consideration is money.

Startup costs required to create a quality digital magazine can be relatively high (as detailed below). To compound the problem, digital magazines do not have high price points—in some niches, you’ll find the prices hovering around only $0.99 an issue. In order to recoup your investment and start generating profit, you’ll have to amass a large audience, which may require some further investment.

A digital magazine may not be what gets you to a very high-income point in the short run. That’s not to say that magazines don’t make plenty of money. For example, Forbes magazine generates millions per year. But here at Foundr, we’ve found that a magazine is valuable beyond the profits it directly brings in. Those who will be winning in the future of media will no longer be companies that focus solely on publications.

The reason?

Generating revenue from ads, the primary model used by media historically, is no longer a viable option. You’ll be better off using your magazine as a tool to create diverse revenue streams rather than as the end destination.

Our suggestion? Use your magazine to create a mass of loyal followers, generate some recurring capital, and become positioned as an authority in your niche. Then, it’s all about developing a multi-platform strategy. You want a magazine, but you also want a podcast, a blog, digital products, social media presence, a newsletter, and more.

A magazine is the perfect multi-functional, front-end product for your business:

  • Marketing: It’s a great way for people to learn about your company and offers huge value to interested customers.
  • Building relationships: Magazines build trust between your business and your audience. Here at Foundr, we’ve also been able to use the magazine as a method to build trust and relationships with influencers as well.
  • Recurring revenue: Magazines are born for subscriptions, and if you play your cards right, you can depend on them for consistent and recurring income.
  • Influence: Nothing spells influence in your niche than having a quality magazine going out regularly. It’s more work than a blog, but the dividends in influence are proportional.

As great as this all sounds, keep in mind that magazines take as much work and time as any other business. Our CEO Nathan Chan worked on Foundr Magazine for a full year as a side-hustle before he was able to quit his job and grow his company.

But if you’re up for committing to the work, then read on.

The Tools You Need to Create A Digital Magazine

Digital magazines are easier than physical magazines for several reasons. There’s no need to worry about the logistics and expense of physically delivering the magazine, finding a good printing house, or worrying about misdeliveries.

Nonetheless, the technology landscape for setting up, distributing, and getting paid for your digital magazine issue is important. You need to have the right tools to build your magazine on a solid foundation. Lots of digital magazines will cut corners when it comes to tech, and as a result, they will freeze, break, and readers will bounce. Don’t let this be you!

Foundr Magazine only uses the best tools to support our digital distribution, and we vouch for all of the products that we use below. They’ve all been in use consistently at Foundr for more than two years, successfully distributing our magazine to our now 20,000+ readers per month.

READ MORE: How to Develop Powerful Business Core Values and Mission Statements

Using an App for Your Digital Magazine

When it comes to digital magazine technology, the core decision you’ll need to make is: app or no app?

You can certainly host your magazine on the web, and countless magazines do.

However, there’s something awesome about being able to flip through a magazine on your iPhone, anywhere, and anytime. Most importantly, you can get an app in front of a whole slew of new eyes through app distribution platforms.

This is why Foundr took the app route.

Our first issue of Foundr magazine was sold on the App Store and Google Play. We chose to get in front of a market that had buyers. Steve Jobs conditioned customers visiting the App Store to be prepared to pay for content. What’s more, these stores handle all of the billing, delivery technology, and might even help you with marketing (via “Featured” apps and other sections).

For these reasons, we’ve come to the conclusion that building an app to support your digital magazine is a much stronger play than a web-only magazine.

Digital Magazine Tools

MagCast

start an online digital magazine magcast

MagCast is the technology that Foundr Magazine used to create our app, and from which we publish all of our issues. It allows you to upload your magazine’s PDF through the platform, and publish using the technology. MagCast takes care of the rest—they build your app and set it up in the App Store. They also make it easy to configure your magazine to look good in app form.

Costs:

  • Monthly: $ 297
  • Quarterly: $ 787
  • Annually: $ 2,997

Mag+

digital magazine mag+ how to

Mag+ is another magazine app creation platform, which fulfills a similar function as MagCast. We don’t use it here at Foundr, but there it is for your consideration.

The pricing for Mag+ is variable, with flexible options depending on your needs. They have a “Pay As You Publish” option, as well as an “Unlimited Option”, but as this is your first digital magazine, these options may not be suitable for you.

Cost:

  • Monthly: Ranging from $499-$699
  • Annually: Ranging from $5389- $7549

Issuu

Issu Magazine digital magazine tools

Issuu is a web-only magazine publisher. It’s of particular interest to those who are planning on using their magazines as ad revenue-generating machines. Issuu is great for beginners as it allows you to create for free.

Costs:

  • FREE, and up to $279 annually

FlipSnack

magazine digital flipsnack pdf

FlipSnack is a handy little website that transforms your PDF into an interactive flipbook, which can then be presented on your website. This is the technology that we use to upload past and present copies of Foundr Magazine.

FlipSnack has a tonne of other useful tools for digital creators, including printing services and SEO management, so have a look through and see if it suits your magazine’s goals.

Cost:

Apple iTunes Store and Google Play

foundr digital magazine app store google play

You need a place to distribute your magazine, and where else to go except the iTunes App Store and Google Play, where there are huge audiences waiting for your content. These stores already have the authority, audience, and infrastructure there for the taking. You’ll have to get registered with these platforms and follow their terms of agreement and pricing.

Cost:

Apple iTunes Store:

  • $99/year + 30% of the revenue from your sales

Google Play Store:

  • $25 charge to register + $100/year + 30% of the revenue from your sales

When you start your magazine on a shoestring budget, it’s all about wearing many hats (publisher, editor, writer, interviewer, etc.), and it might stay that way. But if you decide to grow, you can start to flesh out your process and bring on a team. At this point, you may need to expand into productivity and management software. Otherwise, the technology for deploying a digital magazine isn’t too complex, and definitely within reach of the most tech-averse entrepreneur.

READ MORE: 10 Instagram Growth Hacks For More Engaged Followers (Without Running Ads)

Create Awe-Inspiring Designs

Today’s online business landscape is so incredibly competitive, no matter what product you’re selling. That means that you need to find new ways to impress your market and grab their attention.

One key way to do this is with a stellar, standout design.

How many digital magazines have the same serious covers, with predictable font choices, colors, and layouts? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the truth is, those things don’t stick out anymore.

You can’t stand out by fitting in, just look at these covers you’re competing with:

digital magazine newsstand app store competition

Great design is a minimum requirement.

When it comes to digital magazines especially, your potential buyers will not invest in a copy of your work unless it looks great. That’s just part of the experience they’re paying for. Great design also gets you to that trust threshold required for someone to hand their money over the internet. It’s legitimizing.

But the design that gets your digital magazine thousands of readers has to go far beyond this threshold. You can’t just be great—you need to be awesome.

Here at Foundr, everything we put out not only has great design, but we strive to make it unique, edgy, and even daring. We know that our magazine is read mostly by young people, who are full of energy and ready to make a change in this world through entrepreneurship. Our design has to convey that energy:

There are no shortcuts or formulas to good design. It really is just a question of hiring the right person for the job. Finding a quality designer isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. You shouldn’t expect to pay bottom dollar for top work.

There are plenty of websites that connect you to remote designers. These are great because they give you access to a global pool of talent:

These websites include:

  • Behance: Search through the portfolios of thousands of designers and post a job to get applications.
  • Dribbble: Search through portfolios of both individual designers and agencies. Pitch to them individually instead of posting a job and getting deluged by applications.

You might have to go through a few designers or agencies before finding the one that matches your vision and market. Here at Foundr, we went through two designers before landing one designer we work well with.

To find the right designer, always have a trial period or a test project. It could be as simple as having them create a short PDF based on a checklist.

The quality of the designer’s work is just as important as the speed with which they create it. Equally important is the relationship that you have with the designer. Do you jell with them? Do your working styles meld nicely?

In the end, you need to pick a designer you can trust. There is nothing that bothers creatives more than when clients micromanage their work. Many designers will drop clients that do not give them enough creative control.

Round-Up Top Content

You’ve got your magazine looking good, and you’ve got the right tech to put it out into the world. Now it’s time to focus on providing useful content for your readers.

Foundr Magazine is made up of three different “types” of content:

  • General content related to entrepreneurship
  • Feature articles based on top entrepreneurs we interview
  • Virtual Mentor Q&A section

We round the magazine out with an editor’s note at the beginning and Actionable Takeaways at the end. The overarching goal of all of our content is to give great, actionable, fun-to-read content for our audience, who will then take this knowledge to apply it to their business-building efforts.

Overall, we keep the magazine relatively short compared to your standard print publication, at between 10,000-12,000 words an issue. Most articles are between 2,000-5,000 words, with our features and front features leaning on the longer side. We also tend to run shorter pieces at the beginning of each issue.

As a good general rule, we find our readers enjoy the content they can take away and do something with afterward. Whether it’s something that inspires them or gives them precise instructions, we recommend making sure that your content is helpful to your readers in some way.

We’ve also found that it’s best to also include some pieces that are lighter in tone and subject matter since most of what we cover is about the business world. We like to insert some lifestyle pieces that would still add value to a busy entrepreneur’s life, but also offer a bit of a break.

READ MORE: How to Start a Podcast on a Budget

How do we manage to get such amazing content?

The first step to creating meaningful and engaging content is finding excellent writers.

Spend some time searching for a good writer, and always ask to see examples of their work to gauge whether or not their writing style is what you need.

At Foundr, we firmly believe that you get what you pay for. While we do look to keep costs as low as possible, you cannot expect a life-changing magnum opus from a writer if you are offering them peanuts. Be fair with your budget, and consider whether the writer’s budget is doable for quality content.

The second step is getting a great copy editor.

A copy editor will take your magazine from good to high-quality.

They root out those grammar and spelling mistakes that you will miss during writing and editing. It depends on the editor, but ours also assesses the entire product and returns headline suggestions and stylistic feedback, such as the order of the articles, to produce the most polished and cohesive issue possible.

This person provides a fresh, outside set of eyes to go over what you’re creating, and offers insights you would likely miss.

When starting out, you may not be able to afford a professional copy editor right off the bat. Even if you are able to, it’s good to have an understanding of what these people do, and how it is important to creating a quality publication.

First and foremost, copy editors police your use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But they also help ensure a consistent writing style for your magazine.

This means making sure the way you spell certain words, punctuate quotations or present things like titles and headings is the same throughout your writing. It might seem inconsequential, but readers will notice when your publication has all kinds of crazy punctuation, or “startup” in one sentence and “start-up” in the next. This will give your readers the idea that the publication is unprofessional, sloppy, and not worth the money.

A great default tool for this is the Associated Press Stylebook. It’s the style bible for most of the professional media world. It can be old-fashioned at times but is the standard-bearer of all the media rules of the road.

assosiated press digital magazine

As you grow and bring on more writers, you’ll find that having an internal “Style Guide” specific to your magazine will prove extremely helpful. A Style Guide is like a rule book that you set up, which outlines the conventions that your particular magazine follows—that is, the length of articles, how you handle things like headlines, first and last names, titles, the spelling of branded words, etc.

This can serve as a reminder to yourself, and a quick reference for any new editors or writers you are bringing onboard.

At Foundr, we have a style guide that we use with all our copy. Simple things like “US English only”, and “no curly quotation marks” are what helps to keep us consistent.

In the end, the style of your magazine will come down to what you feel will speak more to your audience.

If your publication is aimed towards more professional career people, it may not make sense to adopt a casual tone. If your publication is aimed towards a very tech-savvy audience, it may make more sense to throw in technical jargon or acronyms without much explanation.

Whatever the style of your magazine might be, it’s important to define it and stick to it.

READ MORE: Psychographics 101: Everything You Need to Know; How It’s Used in Marketing

Creating the Layout of Your Digital Magazine

Your magazine will need to have some kind of layout and will most likely have recurring sections.

For example, we have a recurring section called “Life Hacks” as well as our “Virtual Mentor” section, where an industry expert or entrepreneur answers questions sent to us via our Virtual Mentor email box.

In terms of layout, we place our content between the editor’s note from Nathan Chan, and our concluding section, “Actionable Takeaways,” where we list the best actionable ideas from the magazine issue.

How should you layout your magazine? There is no set way, but as with everything, get some inspiration from your own favorite magazines. Grab a few copies of your favorite digital magazine and study each one for:

  • How it organizes its layout
  • Which recurring sections it contains
  • Use of visual points of entry
  • If they have themed issues
  • The length and tone of their articles (First-person? Long narrative stories?)

Historically, magazines are separated into some main sections:

  • Front of the Book (F.O.B): This is the first third of the magazine. It contains elements such as contents, the masthead, letters to the editor, recurring features like Q&As or book reviews, regular columns, mini-stories, infographics, product reviews. The F.O.B. usually tends to be heavy on quick, visual pieces, not long pieces of text. It can sometimes extend to the first half of the entire magazine.
  • The Well: Also known as the “Feature Well” is the heart of the issue. It holds the main stories, including the cover story. These articles take up big chunks of the magazine and are longer, with large pieces of text and illustrative photos mixed in. Sometimes a special issue will have closely themed features, but usually, the topics vary.
  • Back of Book (B.O.B.): This is the last portion of the magazine. It’s usually pretty short, and usually contains one or two shorter pieces to round things out. Sometimes it includes additional resources for readers. Often magazines will have a one-page recurring feature on the last page of every issue.

starting a digital magazine foundr magazine table ot contents

Whatever you do, keep in mind that variety is a worthy goal for any magazine, new or old. Even in the Feature Well, keep your readers engaged by avoiding too many very long stories in a row.

Don’t be afraid to mix things up a little, keeping in mind that your consistent and recurring features create something that readers can look forward to, while variations provide pleasant surprises.

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Get Interviews with Hard-to-Reach People

Interviewing hard-to-reach people will likely be something many, if not all, digital magazines will be interested in doing. Whatever your niche, your magazine will benefit immensely from having a leader or influencer in your field appear in your magazine.

Nathan Chan was struggling to get people to accept interviews with his then small and unknown entrepreneur magazine. Everything changed when Richard Branson was interviewed and featured on the cover.

Nathan knew that he needed a big name to propel the magazine and raise its profile. He aimed right for the top with Richard Branson.

Branson has quite a few books out there, so Nathan thought to first contact the book publishers. From there, he found out who the head of PR was for Branson, which leads him to his main contact person at Virgin.

He then pitched to that assistant at Virgin.

Find your target’s gatekeeper, whether that’s an internal head of PR, their personal assistant, or an agency that represents them.

But the effort wasn’t over yet. Nathan had to call this PR person four or five times, leaving voice messages each time. When he finally caught her over the phone, Nathan made his case and emphasized that he really wanted Branson on the cover of his new publication

The PR person then agreed to an email interview, and the rest is history. The Branson issue was a major turning point for Foundr, with our interviews only getting better and better from there.

starting a digital magazine foundr magazine 08

The Branson issue and the many other rockstar entrepreneur interviews we’ve done have had what is known as the “Oprah Effect” for Foundr Magazine. That’s when you’ve interviewed so many awesome and successful people, that people become interested in what YOU have to say.

That makes YOU the new influencer.

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Promoting and Marketing Your Digital Magazine

When starting Foundr Magazine, we were able to grow at a rapid pace by using many different marketing tactics and strategies. That initially meant throwing things against the wall and seeing what stuck. In the early days, Nathan had to work out and test many channels that were effective for growing Foundr. Below is what worked the best.

Social Media

Nathan was trying out loads of different marketing tactics over social media but was struggling to gain traction.

That was until he tried Instagram.

Once he broke the Instagram marketing code, he started seeing consistent growth in email sign-ups and magazine sales. Instagram has been the top channel for Foundr Magazine’s growth.

On Instagram, Foundr managed to generate 10k followers in two weeks, built an extremely powerful sales funnel, and landed some huge exposure for the brand.

When it comes to Social Media, there’s too much opportunity to put just in this article alone. We have a tonne of content, how-tos, and other hacking guides, so be sure to check out our other articles when you’ve finished with this one.

Keywords

Keyword optimization for the App Store is not as complex as web SEO, although it is no less essential. You want your magazine to rank for key search terms in your niche.

If at all possible, you need to get your keyword into the title of your app. For us, “entrepreneur magazine” is a major keyword for our market, and is featured in our app title: “AA+ Foundr – A Young Entrepreneur Magazine.”

Using keywords can also get you in the top five apps pages, allowing you to piggyback off of the successful and well-known apps. For example, Foundr Magazine benefits from the fact that we show up along Entrepreneur Magazine in the top five apps under “entrepreneur.” We also show up when people search for “Forbes” or “Harvard Business Review.”

You can use tools like Sensortower to help you research your keywords, your competitors’ keywords, and more.

Don’t worry about the competitiveness of the keyword, get it into your title if at all possible. As always, perform A/B testing to refine the keyword that you include in your title.

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Design

As mentioned earlier, the design and look of your magazine is of prime importance. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. They are browsing the store, looking for something cool to read. Your front cover is therefore a marketing tool. Spend time working the covers and headlines because they are the difference between a reader and someone who brushes you aside.

Free App and a Free Issue

Without question, your magazine app must be free to download. This will reduce the friction getting from the App Store to your actual magazine. Up the ante by offering a free magazine issue. Offering even a couple of free issues is very effective in creating long-term subscribers.

At Foundr we give one of our best interviews (Richard Branson) and our guide to 10,000 Instagram followers for free, using our free app. Our 20,000+ monthly readers speak to the effectiveness of this tactic.

Reviews

The more (positive) reviews you have, the better you will rank in the app store. To get good reviews, you need to make sure that your magazine is of top quality. Furthermore, you need to make sure that your technology works perfectly—no crashing, no unnecessary slowness, no annoying technical glitches. That’s why we recommend you go with a dependable publishing technology company, like MagCast, which will take care of that whole aspect for you.

Otherwise, you can collect positive ratings by prompting users to review you in the digital stores, preferably a few times over the course of the user’s interaction with the app.

Influencers

Foundr Magazine does double duty when it comes to influencers. Not only do we get to offer incredible value to our readers by interviewing the top entrepreneurs from around the world, but these Influencers also promote their features to their own audiences, serving as a valuable source of marketing.

foundr magazine cover yancey

Even if you aren’t looking to do interviews for your magazine, you can still network with influencers in your field and ask them to promote your work (for a fair exchange, of course).

READ MORE: 30 Expert Tips on How to Get 10k More Followers on Instagram

Making Money: Pricing the Digital Magazine

The production costs of your magazine will be much lower than a traditional magazine, and as such, you may be tempted to have this reflected in your price.

Don’t guess at your magazine price. Do a methodical competitive analysis. That is, go into the channel through which you will be distributing your magazine—whether that is the App Store, Google Play, or the web—and check out your competitors in the space.

Collect the prices, calculate the median and average. See how these magazines structure discounts for longer-term subscriptions and back issues.

For example, here’s how Foundr has structured its pricing (all pricing in USD):

  • Individual issues cost $4.99
  • 1 Month Subscription costs $2.99 (savings of 40%)
  • 1 Year Subscription costs 21.99 (savings of 63%)

As we’ve done, incentivize your audience with savings for longer-term subscriptions, which offers them a deal, and provides you with higher per-customer revenue.

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Ready to Start Your Online Magazine?

When it comes to launching your own digital magazine, the most important takeaway from this post is to explore different revenue models for your magazine. As mentioned above, traditional media based on ad revenue is on its way out, and we are seeing an emergence of new and exciting models.

Magazines are now hosting conferences, creating courses, selling coaching, and even creating physical products. It’s an exciting time to be a creative entrepreneur in media. At this turning point, the most daring and creative among media entrepreneurs will define the winning business models and become leaders in the field.

But what do you think? Do you think this new model will succeed? Are you thinking of starting a digital magazine? Comment with your thoughts below.

 

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The biggest problem founders and small owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a . That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank. Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is course out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now. You can’t fire bad employees fast enough. You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you ( see next tip ).

The problem is probably you. When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that 90 percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars. This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a vedette employee is enormous, yet business leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated. Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink. If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche ?

Learn to say ' yes ' and ' no ' a lot. The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no. ” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.

It boggles my mind how little most entrepreneurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat is the easiest to get. Learn two words : meritocracy and nepotism. The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don’t run an organization – by playing préférés and being biased.

Know when and when not to be translucide. Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut. This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. ” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property. Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements. You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors ? ” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.

Far too many entrepreneurs run their like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life. Know your finances inside and out. If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits ( gross and net ), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for dysfonctionnement. Big dysfonctionnement.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Humility is a powerful trait for précurseurs, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers. Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business leaders. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.

For every success you have in growing your market share, another business or other businesses will inevitably lose ground. Here are 11 quick and easy business tips to gain a competitive advantage over your rivals and insulate yourself from the threat of new entrants in the market.

Of course, we all want to spark growth and increase revenue. But the way you do this in a sustainable way is to focus instead on the building of a loyal database of avid fans. Content digital, paired with optimized website forms and éclairé fax automation follow-up is critical to success. This approach builds trust by giving away free value before asking for someone’s hard-earned money. Not an professionnel in creating optimized lead generation pages on a website ? No worries, use a trusted tool like Leadpages to make it happen.

Like it or not, folks out there aren’t searching for your brand, they’re just looking to solve a problem or find a particular type of product ( unless you run Starbucks or Adidas ! ) Don’t list all the benefits your product brings. Focus on the solutions. Explain to the customer in simple, straightforward terms how or why your product can help them or assist in the attainment of their goals. Consider FedEx’s iconic slogan : When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. This was a clear example of addressing widely-spread anxiety about the reliability of delivery services. Run through some market research to profile your target customer. How does your product or service – and your delivery and and price point – solve other people’s problems and make their lives easier or more pleasurable ?

Dropping prices doesn’t necessarily raise sales, for instance ( though it will definitely squeeze margins ). If you position yourself as a de haute gamme brand, then your customers aren’t necessarily value-driven in the first place, and cutting prices could even tarnish your brand. Consider this case study from Robert Cialdini’s seminal book ‘Influence : The Psychology of Persuasion’ : a jeweller sold out of turquoise jewelry after accidentally doubling, instead of halving, the price. The inflated price tag lent the product an unwarranted cachet ! If you are a de haute gamme brand, there are ways to optimize your pricing without lowering prices. For example, offer the quality-conscious customer an ‘exclusive’ benefit that your rivals do not or cannot provide. If you are at the value-driven end of the market, on the other hand, don’t assume slashing prices means incurring a loss. Low pricing can help you rapidly onboard a heap of new customers who may also buy other items in your shop and return again. Context also counts for a lot with pricing. The best way to sell a $5, 000 watch, for instance, could be by putting it next to a $10, 000 watch. Think strategically when it comes to deciding any price point.

Yes, it sounds obvious, but it’s so very important ! Whether consciously or not, people are more likely to buy a product if they like the sales assistant who’s attending to them. While the employee’s personality obviously has no bearing on the price or your product’s ability to serve their needs is irrelevant. Friendly customer-facing équipe will always attract more sales. Be rigorous in hiring people who are genuinely cheerful, friendly and outgoing. Make sure your training program teaches them to adopt a consistently friendly approach that puts customers at ease and feel like a priority.

Say you’re a bricks-and-mortar store and you’re getting a rush of customers as closing time approaches… why not close up an hour later ? While this may cause disgruntlement among staff, solve this venant by getting creative with rosters. Monitor customer footfall throughout the day and week to identify your busiest periods, and équipe people accordingly. You can also reduce headcount during quieter periods to offset the higher costs and longer sérieux hours created by your extended opening hours. It’s a win-win !

Even in the digital age, some customers will always prefer to contact you by phone rather than email or Facebook. While many online companies with tight margins eschew manned phone lines altogether, it’s worth giving customers the option of having a voice-to-voice conversation with your brand. By all means, slash the time and cost spent responding to queries by funnelling customers to standardized, pre-existing responses on your webpage ( i. e., FAQs ). But if their query isn’t listed in the drop-down menu of FAQs, then don’t make them click more than once more to find your phone number. Put it front and center on your web page, particularly if you’re a retail offering. ‘Live chat’ bots are an inexpensive way of offering real-time communication, too.

Why not give your happy customers a voucher with their purchase to redeem on your products and services ? If they love what you do already, they’re only going to love you more for this. It’s good for you because : It guarantees they will return to your store again. People hate to waste freebies ! When they return to your store to redeem their voucher, they may buy other items, too. If your operates online, then the freebie could be strategically timed to coincide with a special sale. Oh, and guess what ? Chances are customers who have received vouchers or freebies won’t stay quiet about it either, so you could enjoy some positive buzz on social media.

Local businesses can arguably connect with their unique communities with much greater authority than any global chain. A local retailer, hair salon or gardening company can sponsor a kid’s sports team and offer deep discounts for OAPs at the same time. Some cinemas feature special ‘sensory’ screenings where parents can bring kids with autism ( who would normally be overwhelmed by busy, noisy environments ) to enjoy a movie in a relaxed, stress-free atmosphere. This reflects well on them and also guarantees them a loyal customer niche. Whatever you choose to do to support your community, make sure it authentically fits with your brand offering and business journey to date.

Social media is a great medium through which to build a solid relationship with customers – just don’t forget what ‘social’ actually means ! Soul-less corporate shop-talk won’t work on Twitter. Try to give your brand some ‘personality’ when you write updates or posts. This can bring its own risks, évidemment. But if you get it right, the benefits can be très grande. Develop a tone of voice that aligns well with your brand identity. Seek to inform, help, entertain or amuse. And most importantly – given the dire PR consequences – don’t patronize, try too hard to be funny, or tweet after a few alcoholic drinks !

Sometimes it’s better to be a master of one discipline than a jack of all trades. Admittedly, multiple revenue streams do spread your risk : if one falters, others can take up the slack. Nevertheless, consumers often associate ‘specialists’ with higher quality products or services than generalists. And with good reason, too : specialists typically invest all their resources into perfecting a solo product or service. So what should you specialize in ? tera state the obvious, it should be something in which you excel. You could also pick something with rising or recession-proof demand which is resilient to technological change in which you possess a competitive advantage over your rivals or where there’s an obvious gap in your local market. Own it, whatever you do.

Don’t ever get too satisfied with your business. You can always improve – and improve you must ! Don’t get me wrong : without the odd moment of smug satisfaction, what’s the point ? Do relish in the successful launch of a game-changing product or take pleasure in positive customer feedback. But don’t let your customers hear you banging on about it time after time ! Be alert to the common element that has led to the downfall of countless hitherto thriving brands : complacency. Imaginative, nimble and innovative start-ups often do better than big market leaders that just got lazy. You may be the disruptive innovator today, but tomorrow you could be the complacent market leader with a tired model. So try to be humble and always strive to improve. Seek inspiration from other entrepreneurs, from books and from seminars. The moment you think ‘mission accomplished’ is the same moment you become vulnerable to being usurped.

There are lots of ways in which you can improve your business, and not all of them are complicated ! Try out the above business tips or integrate them with your existing strategies, and let me know how you go in the comments below. Guest Author : Faye Ferris is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Dynamis APAC Pty Ltd offices in Sydney. She develops the DYNAMIS stable of brands and their expansion into the Asia Pacific region as well as BusinessesForSale. com, FranchiseSales. com and PropertySales. com. If you have an interest in partnering up with Faye or advertising on any of these websites in the APAC territories, please do not hesitate to contact her on faye@businessesforsale. com.

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