Tag Archive: tools


In the earlier blog, we considered the questions that prospective business owners should consider as they think through the possibility of starting a business. Before we answer the questions, let’s create a profile of this possible business owner and the business that they are considering.

For this experiment, let’s say that the prospective business owner (Sam) is an experienced sales manager  who is based out of Western North Carolina and has a personal interest in yard sales, estate sales, auctions and general antiquing. Sam also enjoys refinishing furniture and sometimes, reselling the pieces. Sam does not have any professional experience in estate sale management. Sam has a MBA and values overall work-life balance. Sam has a personal interest that he/she would like to turn into a profession.

Estate Sales are similar to garage sales in that they are selling people’s items, however, an estate sale is different from a garage sale in that a professional group typically runs the sale. The profits are split in a previously agreed upon percentage between the estate owners and the professional sellers. Keys to success in this business is the ability to organize and be organized, recognizing  possibly rare or valuable items, strong advertising and selling skills and a good rapport with people. This is a quick overview just to give us a foundation for this project. There would, of course, be greater detail if this were an actual market research project.

Now onto the overview questions. The first draft of these answers can be formatted in any fashion that is easiest for the prospective business owner. For this experiment, I’ve initially formatted them into a word doc. Take some time to look then over and assess what you can surmise from these answers and we will discuss further early next week.
CASE STUDY_Estate Sale Management_online

 

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Over the next few days, I am going to give a general overview of how to start a community business. Within this conversation, I will try to answer some of the most popular questions and explain why certain steps are taken. I have chosen to focus on a start-up that will provide mobile services to the community. Specifically, managing estate sales. I’m sure some of you are familiar with HGTV’s Cash & Cari. Cash & Cari follows “estate sale guru Cari Cucksey [as she] combs through her clients’ basements, attics and garages in search of hidden treasure. And once she and her team have organized and priced the entire contents of the home, they hold an estate sale right on the premises.” (HGTV) Since we all have or know someone who has lots of stuff and the idea of treasure hunting for money seems kind of cool to me, I decided to let this be our fictional new start-up.

We’ll get started by considering the answer to one of Brand Event Marketing’s most common requests: PLEASE help me figure out where to begin. How do I get started? That is a loaded question because it doesn’t have a simple answer. It always finds its way to what, when, where, why and how. What is the business? Where will the business be located? Who are the clients? Where are the clients? How do you communicate your product/service to and with them? Why is the service/product important to the client? When are the deadlines? As we begin, we will list all of those questions and answer them honestly. This is the self- and business- assessment that can be the difference between failure and success.

The Small Business Administration is a great place to start the process. They have some great tools that will help you make smart decisions. As I go through this process, I will begin with their 20 questions to ask before starting a business. Additionally, below are a few more questions to deepen your thought process. (Competitive Analysis)

  1. Have you thoroughly listed all of your direct and indirect competitors?
  2. Have you done your homework and gathered accurate facts and figures on your competitors?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? We will discuss this in more detail in another post.
  4. Is there a segment of the market that your competitors are overlooking?
  5. Are there services that your competitors are not providing for their customers that you could provide?
  6. Are you pricing goods or services competitively in regard to your competition? Make sure to explain why you are able to price higher or lower than your competition. Undercutting competition with price is not always favorable.
  7. Do you have the finances required to build a business in a competitive market?
  8. What is your competitive advantage?

Tomorrow, I’ll answer those questions for the Estate Sale Start-up and then, we’ll discuss the next step.

A few weeks ago, I discussed some ideas to promote yourself through online social media. Today, I want to take a few minutes and discuss a common branding process. It will help you develop a plan to better understand how others view you and how to create a brand strategy from the current perspective. In brand development, there is a document/process called the SWOT analysis. SWOT is a landscape analysis and stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The first two, SW, are internal and the last two, OT, are external.When you are beginning to determine a plan for a venture, whether business or personal, it is important to recognize all of the factors that will affect your venture.

In developing a SWOT analysis, it is best to create a chart that looks like this:

This way, you can visually see the good and the bad, so to speak. As you decide what to place in each area, remember these guidelines:

  • Strengths: characteristics of yourself that gives you an advantage over others or simply, makes you standout from others.
  • Weaknesses: are characteristics that place you at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: external chances to increase your ability to meet your goals.
  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your goals.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis

So, for example, an early client of mine wanted to expand her home baking business into a full business that would eventually support her financially. To first determine if this was a viable option for her, Brand Event Marketing developed a SWOT analysis for her.

Creating a SWOT analysis to determine the route of your personal goals is a productive and thorough way to begin creating your brand. After you finish the analysis, let me know who you want to BE and how you’re going to get there.

Getting Free Stuff

I decided at the beginning of the year to figure out how I could maintain our standard of living (a small household of 2) while spending less money. The immediate answer, of course, was coupons, but little did I know how intense couponing could be. Now, let me first say that I am not an “Extreme Couponer” like they show on the new TV series. I just wanted to see if using coupons was worth the time and effort that I’ve heard. So, I began with a newspaper, but being who I am, I had to investigate the process and that is when I found my FAVORITE money-saving blog. Hip2Save is a wonderful tool to have in your money-saving arsenal. It is run by Collin, a mother of three and the wife of a Marine, who had a similar goal, to create a certain lifestyle within her family’s budget. When I just happened to find the site, little did I know how much she would teach me, not just about couponing, but about getting products that you love either free or very inexpensively. Since I started reading  Hip2Save,  I’ve learned to save at least 60-70% on each grocery bill, how to organize my coupons so they are easily accessible, but even greater,  very rarely does a day go by that I don’t receive something free in the mail. And if that happens, that simply means that I’ve been too busy to spend the time necessary to do the work.  A few months ago, I was even sent two pairs of jeans to keep. All I had to do was wear them over a two-week period and fill out a survey that took less than 5 minutes to complete.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this process of saving money is not quick. For example, I now use a three-ring binder for my coupons and it took over 5 hours to organize. But, it’s all about what you wish to gain. Saving money while maintaining my lifestyle is important to me and I know that my boyfriend loves not worrying about whether he has all of the items that he needs. Below, I am going to give you a few tips that I’ve learned in six short months. I am, by no means, an expert, but I am getting better.

  1. Join a money-saving blog that will alert you when there is a promo online or if there are any great sales going on. As I mentioned earlier, I love Hip2Save. It is well-written, organized and well-managed. I check it several times a day to make sure I’m not missing anything.
  2. Begin couponing. It takes time, but don’t think you have to go crazy when you first begin. Just get a Sunday paper, sit down and clip the coupons for the items that you like. Use them and see if that process works for you and your lifestyle.
  3. Take the time to compare the coupons with your store’s online ad. Let this guide your grocery list.
  4. Be open to trying new things. Resist being completely brand-loyal about everything. (Can you believe a brand strategist just said that?)
  5. Join market research sites like BzzAgent and All You Reality Checker. You will be given the opportunity to try (and keep) new products for free, with no catch, but a short review.
  6. “Like” your favorite brands on Twitter and Facebook. I liked Tide on FB and received a free full-size bottle of their new Stain Release as well as a full-size bag of the laundry additives.
  7. Join House Party to apply for parties where you are sent items to have a party and introduce/try a product with your friends. I won a Coffee-Mate party earlier this year, where I was sent 18 free Coffee-Mate coupons to share with friends and family at a party. In the party package, I was also sent the board game, Cranium and a full chess set as well as free coffee to make sure everyone could try the new Coffee-Mate flavors at the party.

These are just a few suggestions. It can seem very overwhelming, at first, but do what best fits your lifestyle and you will be excited to see the results. Now, I’m off to go check the daily deal sites to see if there is anything good out there. Happy Saving!