5 Easy Ways to Kick-start Your Business Planning

By Tim Berry | August 26, 2010
Don’t know where to start with your plan? Here are some tips to get you going–today.
Have you been putting off the business planning? You know who you are. Do you mean to start managing better, but keep getting distracted by fires to put out? Here are five quick and easy ways to start planning today.

1. Do a SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s a great way to break out of that planning inertia. It’s especially good when there’s a team involved. Take an hour or two and jot down bullet points under each of these four categories.

Don’t spend all day, much less all week. A couple of hours should work fine.

Don’t argue about what goes where. Don’t criticize contributions. It’s brainstorming. Just jot down the points and record them. Strategy follows. You can’t help it. You do a SWOT, and strategy follows.

And now you’re planning.

2. Compare plans to actual sales.

Think through what turned out differently and what didn’t, and why. Soon, you’ll be thinking about your marketing strategy, target markets, marketing messages, customers, channels, packaging, delivery, complaints and competitors. I’m amazed at how much of business, and the business planning process, pivots around the difference between planned and actual sales.

And now you’re planning.

3. Talk to 10 well-chosen people

Funny how much time goes by for most business owners without really talking even to your customers, much less to a few people who aren’t your customers but could be. I was shocked the first time I did it. I felt like I talked to customers often, but that’s nothing to what you get when you dedicate time and have a real conversation.

First make a good list. Don’t cheat yourself and talk only to the people you always talk to anyway. Stretch yourself further and find some people you don’t know, so you get a fresh look. Ask them for their time, not as a survey taker but as the owner or manager of the business. A lot of people will turn you down (I probably would), but if the conversation is framed right, you’ll find some people interested.

Start the conversation with interesting questions. The first couple of questions are critical to the success of the talk. Grab their interest. Wake their curiosity.

And now you’re planning.

4. Imagine a customer story

That’s right: I say “imagine,” not find or tell a customer story. This isn’t a testimonial for use by marketing.

Imagine your ideal customer. Give her a gender, occupation, family (or not), children (or not), route to work, favorite magazines, television shows, hobbies, websites, music, and movies. If she owns a car, what make, what model. Imagine favorite vacations.

Now imagine how she finds your business. What does he like about you, and what does she dislike? What prompts him to look for you. Where does she look? What does he tell other people about your business?

How do you want to be described by your customers to their friends? What do you want to make them set you apart, in their minds?

Think about that, imagine that, and now you’re planning.

5. Visualize a better future

Where your business
might be three years from now if things go really well. What will your office or store or plant look like three years from now? What will you be selling? How different is it from what you’re selling today? Who will you be selling too? How different will that be from who you sell to today?

Some would call this dreaming. But dreaming ahead, dreaming the future, is a vital part of business planning. Dream it, then focus, set the steps to make it happen. Then track and follow up, and manage.

And now you’re planning.

How to Find the Best Internal Site Pages Based on PageRank and Backlinks

Kristi Hines | Sep 7, 2010

Link builders take many factors into account when determining the quality of a page on which they want to obtain a link. Some of these end goals for link building include, but aren’t limited to, PageRank, incoming links, and popularity.
The question is, how do you find that “Holy Grail” of pages within a large site, especially when it comes to blogs or large directories? Here’s a simple process using two free tools to find the best pages on a website to get your link.

1. Download SEOQuake for Firefox

This free plug-in will allow you to get valuable statistics on pages within Google search results, including incoming links and PageRank. Once installed, be sure to change the following settings under your Firefox menu > Tools SEOQuake > Preferences > SE plug-ins:
By selecting Load Parameters by request, you will prevent the plug-in from trying to pull all of the SEO information for search results every time you do a search. Having it pull this data every time usually slows your browser down when performing multiple searches, as well as heightens the chance of your IP getting temporarily banned by Google and Yahoo.

2. Advanced Search

Do an advanced search query in Google for [example.com site:example.com] and show 50-100 results per page. This query will bring back only pages on a particular domain.
Depending on the number of pages within the website, you may want to add additional details, such as a particular keyword to get more specific results, or use advanced queries like “intitle:keyword” to get only pages with a particular keyword in the title. Under the examples section, you’ll see some useful queries and ways to use them.

3. Sort by Important SEO Parameters

Now that you have your search results, all you have to do is sort your results by the most wanted parameters.
So if you want the highest PageRank results first, click on the Sort: PR: ?, and then the down arrow to show PageRank in descending order. Or use the Yahoo L: ? for the pages with the most amount of Yahoo backlinks (hopefully this will continue to work even though Bing is powering Yahoo) and Delicious I: ? for the number of Delicious bookmarks for a page (great way to indicate overall popularity). Other parameters available include Google cache date, Diggs, Reddit points, and several other page statistics.

Examples of How to Use These Parameters

So with the combination of this search query and being able to sort by different parameters, here are a few simple examples of different link building strategies and relevant queries and parameters to use.

Article Marketing&lt

If you’re building links via article marketing, and want to see which articles have done the best, use the parameters for Yahoo backlinks and Delicious on a query for articles on your favorite directory:
Query: [“ezinearticles.com” site:ezinearticles.com intitle:keyword]

Blog Commenting&lt

Find blog posts on your topic with the highest PageRank for link juice, or the most Yahoo and Delicious backlinks for popularity. Use the following query, depending on the site’s blog URL structure:
Query: [“domain.com/blog” site:domain.com keyword]
If this search brings up a lot of posts that aren’t about your topic (they just happen to have the keyword somewhere on the page), be sure to add “intitle:keyword” to your query to get posts with just the keyword in the title.


Want to know which subcategory has the strongest PageRank? Try the following query, based on the directory’s URL structure:
Query: [“dirjournal.com/arts/” site:dirjournal.com]
Your Strategy for Getting the Best Links?
What other tips would you add for using particular search queries and parameter sorting while link building?

Top 10 Internet Marketing Strategies

Top 10 Internet Marketing Strategies By Laura Lake, About.com Guide
“Internet marketing can attract more people to your website, increase customers for your business, and enhance branding of your company and products. If you are just beginning your online marketing strategy the top 10 list below will get you started on a plan that has worked for many.
1. Start with a web promotion plan and an effective web design and development strategy.
2. Get ranked at the top in major search engines, and practice good Search Optimization Techniques.
3. Lean to use Email Marketing effectively.
4. Dominate your market niche with affiliates, reseller, and associate programs.
5. Request an analysis from an internet marketing coach or internet marketing consultant.
6. Build a responsive opt-in email list.
7. Publish articles or get listed in news stories.
8. Write and publish online releases.
9. Facilitate and run contests and giveaways via your website.
10. Blog and interact with your visitors. By following the above tips you’ll be on your way to creating a concrete internet marketing strategy that could boost your business substantially.”
Laura Lake
Marketing Guide
The above is an excellent road map for businesses that want to effectively use internet marketing.