How To Start A Business By Treating It Like A Project

Starting a business can sound like this big, scary thing.  But really, its just a project.

Hey my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique where beginners build businesses.  And this week we are going to talk about that, about building a business.

And how it really can seem overwhelming when you start.  But I’ve found that if you treat it kind of like any other project that you take on, especially a big project, then its something that you can absolutely get it done, tackle it and launch your thing.

So today we’re going to cover four things that you can do to help start your business by treating it like a work project.

Thing One.  Break it down.

So whenever you start a project at work, what do you do?

You think about all the different tasks that have to be completed in order to do the project.

So when you think about starting a business, just go ahead and do the same thing.  You can make an excel spread sheet, you can use sticky notes, however it works for you, but just get it out and start writing down all the things that you actually need to do to launch your business.

So these are all kinds of different things, like you need an EIN number and a bank account and an email address and possibly a website.  You need a marketing plan and you need a niche, you need product, whether thats physical or digital.

The list literally goes on and on and on.  But just write down everything that you can think of that you need to do to start a business.  It’s probably not going to be exhaustive right now because you’re going to realize other things you need to do as you get going and that’s ok but the point here is just start writing.

I also think its really helpful if you go ahead in this step and write out how long you think things are going to take you.  So something like getting an EIN from the IRS website will only take you about 5 minutes.

You can set up an email address really quickly, but if you haven’t found your niche yet, then that is something that you really need to spend some time on.  Just make it your best guess it doesn’t have to be perfect.  We’re keeping everything pretty loosey goosey here so don’t worry, you don’t have to be perfect.  Just get your best estimate.

Ok, Step Two is block it out.

Now you’re going to take all these different actions that you just identified and group like actions together.  So maybe you have like an admin bucket that does include things like get an EIN, set up my email address, get a new bank account with your DBA or your LLC or whatever.  Thats another one, what’s your corporate structure going to be? All these kind of admin things can go together in a nice little bucket.

You would also maybe have a marketing bucket.  So are you going to have a facebook fan page or a closed group? Are you going to have a leadpages site? Are you going to do twitter, periscope, facebook live, whatever.  That’s all going to be headed under your marketing.

There’s lots of other buckets that you’re going to find here.  I don’t know why this means bucket, just stick with me.  But I think you get the idea and you don’t actually want this to be a fifteen minute video so lets just go with those two examples.

Step three is to schedule it.

And this part is important if you work also a day job, because you are really going to be limited to either in the morning, a little bit at lunch, or late at night.  And its crucial that you know how you work best.

So are you an early riser or a night owl?  That’s probably when you are going to be the most productive and actually going to be able to get the most work done.  Because Lord knows, if you told me I couldn’t start on my side job until nine at night, there would be no side job because I am tired by the end of the day.

So thinking about when you work best, go ahead and actually put that time on your calendar and commit to it.  Show up when you say you’re going to show up, even for yourself.  Most importantly for yourself, but we have a hard time doing that sometimes, but make yourself and this business a priority.

My absolute favorite thing to make sure that I am focusing and doing the work when I say I’m going to focus and do the work is something called the Pomodoro Technique.  And that involves doing really focused work for 25 minutes taking a 5 minute break, repeating that four or five times and then taking a 30 minute break or longer at the end of four blocks of that time.  Try that for a little, I think you’ll be impressed at how much you can actually accomplish.

Number Four.  You gotta do the work.

All the tips and all the tricks in the whole wide world will not matter if you don’t sit down and do the work.

Nothing was actually done by daydreaming.  Daydreaming is important, it has its place and I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t sit back and think about how great this is all going to be when I finally get this business up and running, but you know where I am after the end of a day dreaming session, or whatever you call it? Um, exactly where I was when I started it.

Nothing works unless you do, so make sure that you are putting your head down and getting stuff done everyday to move forward in your goal.

Hey, I’m so glad you were able to join me this week, make sure you’re subscribed to this channel, I post new videos every Wednesday, and they are all about how to help beginners build businesses.

I would love for you to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this video, if there is something else that you would like me to talk about or just whatever else you think I should know.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter, I am @megloftin and also now on Snapchat at @meg.loftin.  I will talk to you next week guys, take care!

Amazon FBA: New Product Samples!

There were some other things that we were going to talk about today.  And then, this came!

It’s August, which means it’s been a long time since February, which is when I first found out about Amazon Private Label products and decided, yeah, I think I could do that.  Let’s give it a go.

Since that time, you have seen me attempt and fail to launch two separate private label products.

The first one was totally my fault, I did not have my stuff together, didn’t really know what I was doing and managed to totally turn a supplier off from doing business with me.  That felt good.  That felt really good.

The second product didn’t work yet because it was big.  And because of how big it was, it was going to cost me about a million dollars to ship it.  Honestly though, I was trying to ship kind of a small number of this product and when I went back and told the main supplier that I was working with, “look, I can’t place an order with you right now because I can’t get my shipping cost down to where I can make money off it,” they said “Yeah, usually people order a whole container load.”  Which could be like a twenty eight foot container, which is a lot of product.  Which I am not ready to invest in quite yet.

So that’s why I am really excited and really hopeful about whats in this package and hopeful that it will be the one, that it is something that I can actually get to market.

It is small and light weight as you can see, fits inside a shoebox, ish, if you didn’t have all this extra packaging around it, and it is something that I have actually bought for myself both in real brick and mortar retail stores  and have ordered off the internet.  So I know there’s a market for it because I’m in it.

I found this product by doing a combination of two things.  One was just really starting to pay attention to the things that I use every day.

Scott Voelker calls that his touch list, he actually recommends that you walk around and write down the things that you touch or you use on an every day basis.

But I didn’t do that, I just kind of thought about it at the end of the day, ok what did I do today, did I do anything different or is there anything that might be interesting?

And from there I used Jungle Scout to validate it.  So you know I did a review of Jungle Scout and walked through how to use the tool in a video prior to this.  So go back and review that if you’re not sure what I’m talking about when I say Jungle Scout, but I did use that to validate that this could be a good product to try and bring to market.

Get Jungle Scout here (affiliate link, obviously)

So what happens next? Well I actually have to open this package because the FedEx guy just left here about ten minutes ago and I was so excited, I was like, “oh this is going to be my video for the week, yay!”

Hopefully the quality is good and we can move forward, this supplier has been so easy to work with, they have been prompt to respond to all of my questions, they are willing to put labels on and do all the things that I need to do to make this a good private label product at Amazon.

From there, its about setting up your labels and the marketing, making sure you’ve got all the information right, setting up a shipping plan with Amazon and finding a freight forwarder, oh if they could just send them all like this, that would be the best thing, and we will go from there.

I am really excited guys, I think that there is something happening here.

So, here’s what you can do for me, just keep your fingers crossed that I don’t screw it up this time, because its happened before.

The other thing you can do for me is make sure you are subscribed to this channel so you never miss a video.

I post new ones every Wednesday.

I talk about yes, building a private label company that sells on the Amazon platform, but also about all different types of things related to starting a business or even things related to how to be better at your day job.

I just did a video a couple of weeks ago about how to get a raise and you know what?  I just had my annual review and who got a raise? And it was a good one, I was happy.

And I did all those things I talked about in that video, I’m not making this stuff people it works!  So, whew, got a little carried away there.

But, be sure to come back again next week for more videos about this or something else that I’m going to talk about that got me excited, I don’t know, but I will see you next week.  Bye guys, have a great week, take care!

How To Ask For A Raise

Raise your hand if you want to earn more money at your day job.

Hey everyone, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique where beginners build businesses.  Glad you’re here this week.

I wanted to talk about something that is a little different than the normal focus of the Bootstrap Boutique and that is because most of us, when we start new businesses, we still have a day job, we do not typically just quit your job, cold turkey, and jump into a side business and hope to make some sort of full time income from it.

So something that you need to do if you have a day job, at some point in your career, is ask for a raise.

I know, I know, that makes people incredibly uncomfortable.  But it is so important that if you have earned more that if you have earned more money in your job, that you advocate for yourself to get it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra money to help fund that side business?

At some point, its a conversation you are going to have to have with your boss.  What I want to do today is help you make sure that you are ready to have that conversation.  So, there are a few things that you need to think about before you just go in, sit down in front of your boss and say, “Hey, give me some more money.”

The first thing I want you to think about is did you actually earn the raise? If you just show up, clock in and watch the clock until five and go home, you didn’t earn a raise.  And you’re not going to get one.

But if you earned the raise over the course of the year, if you provided more value to the company than what you took home in your paycheck, then you should be able to make a case for why you deserve more money.

Here’s what I want you to do.

I want you to make it really easy for your boss to say yes.

How do you do that? Well, there’s a couple of things you need to do.

First you need to make sure that you are setting realistic goals.  And meeting them.  Or better, exceeding them.  So these goals need to be actionable and you need to be able to show that you met or exceeded them through the course of the year.  There should be some sort of number tied to them.  Did you save the company money, did you earn the company money, did you increase efficiencies in a process? I don’t know what your job is but there’s probably a million different ways that you can do things over the course of a year that are going to set you up to be able to say, yes, I met the goals that I set for myself at the end of last year.

Here’s another way that is kind of overlooked when it comes to making it easy for your boss to say yes.

You’ve got to get to them before the budget is set for next year.

And this one is a little tricky because not every company works on a calendar year for their fiscal budget so they may be setting budgets for the next operating year now, or it could have already happened, which puts you in kind of a bad place.

When your boss knows that you should earn more money then they can budget that in, but once the budget is set they probably only have a certain number of dollars that they can put towards salary increases for that year.  You want to make sure that you have this conversation with them before budget time or their hands might actually be tied until next year.

You also should ideally have this conversation before your annual performance review.  Because a lot of times and in many companies, that is when your boss tells you what raise you got for the year.

If you don’t want to be the two or three percent cost of living adjustment raise, you’re looking for a five, a ten a fifteen percent raise, if you wait until your performance review you’re too late if that’s the way your company operates.

It’s really important that you tell your boss about all the great things that you’re doing for the company through the course of the year.

Don’t make them rely on their memory of how great you are, you need to make sure that you are reminding them constantly how much value you bring to an organization.

The last thing about this meeting that you’re going to have with your boss is that it really needs to be face to face.

Most people don’t work remotely like I do where I can’t have that conversation face to face, but for most people you can actually get some face time with your boss and this is a conversation that you want to have eyeball to eyeball so you know that they are looking at you, they are listening to you, they are not you know on the computer checking email or thinking about their vacation or something like that.  This is something you want their full attention for.

That can be kind of scary too so something that can really help with getting you in the right mindset to have this conversation is called the Power Pose, and there’s an awesome Ted Talk, I will link to it down in the video description.

Go watch that.

Basically the Power Pose is Wonder Woman, the way she stands in the comic books, you know.  Shoulders back, hands on hips, chest out just very assertive and forceful.

And if you go stand like that, even if you go do it in the bathroom stall or in your office and you shut the door, I mean it’s already kind of awkward, you probably don’t want people watching you and thinking, “What is she doing?”  Just go somewhere where nobody can see you and do that for three for four minutes, you will feel better.

You will feel ready to take on the world. And all you have to do is ask for a raise.

Just a couple of tips to wrap up on how to ask for a raise.  Here’s what I want you to do.  I want you to be really bold in your ask.  So say you’re looking for a ten thousand dollar raise.

Here’s what you do.

First you’re going to prime the pump a little bit, you are going to let your boss know that you would like to have a salary conversation soon.  You don’t want to just dump it in their lap in the middle of your weekly one on one.

Next, when you have the meeting and the boss knows its coming, you just want to be very bold in saying.  Tell them what you want, don’t make them try to guess.  So if you need a ten thousand dollar raise, if you earned a ten thousand dollar raise, you need to say, “Hey, I earned a ten thousand dollar raise.  Here’s why I believe that’s true.”  Make your case.

The next part is the hardest part.  So you just made your case, right?

Shut up.

Just stop talking.

Just stop.

If you’ve ever heard the saying in negotiations that he who speaks first looses, that is true in this case.

Because you don’t want to say, “I need ten thousand dollars” and then be quiet.  And its quiet.  And its awkward.  To fill the space you say, “but I’d take seven.”  Because guess what you just got?  Not ten.

Now we all live in the real world and we know that’s not going to happen immediately, so you’re probably going to need to follow up.

If you’re getting signals from your boss that this is just not in the cards this year then you need to make sure that you are really clear on what you need to be doing for the next year to make sure that there’s more money coming your way.

Maybe your performance wasn’t as good as you thought it was, maybe you were focused on the wrong things and not doing what you needed to do to make your bosses life easier.  Whatever it is, you’ve got to figure that out and go back to the drawing board.

But if you’ve met your goals if you’re focused on the right things, if you’re a rockstar performer at your company, then yeah, you should be able to ask for a raise and get it successfully following these tips.

Alright guys, that’s what I’ve got for you this week.  I hope that was helpful, let me know if you asked for a raise successfully because you earned it, and you got it.  I want to hear those stories.  Also, if this kind of information is helpful for you, let me know that in the comments below also or you can hit me up at twitter, I’m @megloftin and I will talk to you next Wednesday.  Take care! Bye guys!

Jungle Scout Tutorial: How To Find Products to Sell on Amazon

jungle scout tutorial
In this Jungle Scout tutorial, you will learn how to use the tool to evaluate potential private label items.

*Updated: Jungle Scout has a new look, check out the facelift here.

Jungle Scout Tutorial

Get Jungle Scout Here (affiliate link, obviously)

Today we are going to do a walkthrough of how to use the Jungle Scout pro Chrome edition. This Jungle Scout tutorial will help you understand how to use the tool to find private label products to sell on Amazon.

How To Use Jungle Scout

Jungle Scout Pro is a Chrome plug in that you use with the Amazon.com website.  It allows you to easily see the “behind the scenes” sales data for products sold on Amazon to help you make decisions about what you would like to sell.

Jungle Scout gives you estimated sales volume over the prior 30 days, as well as the fees that Amazon will charge to sell your product.  You can use this data to understand if a product will be profitable for you to sell.

Data Tracked in Jungle Scout

  • Product Name
  • Brand
  • Price
  • Category
  • Rank
  • Sales
  • Revenue
  • Reviews
  • Rating
  • Seller
  • Fees
  • Net

 

999 Trick

The 999 trick is a way that you can figure out Amazon sales volume manually, without buying Jungle Scout Pro. It is actually the method that Greg Mercer, founder of Jungle Scout, used before he created Jungle Scout to automate the process for him!

If you have a product that you are interested in, you would need to track it over the course of 30 days and see how many products it is selling each day.

You’re able to do this by adding 999 units to your cart at the same time each day.  Because of a quirk in Amazon’s system, as long as the seller has less than 999 units in stock, they will tell you “Sorry, there are only XX units available.”  This is the number of units in stock.

You record that number in a spreadsheet and do the same thing at the exact same time the next day.  The difference between units is how many were sold the prior day.  Do this every day for 30 days and you will have the number of units sold that month.

This isn’t a foolproof method, a seller could send in more stock half way through the month! But if you want to track a product at no cost, you can get an approximation of the number of sales using this method.

Get Jungle Scout

If you don’t have the Jungle Scout Pro extension yet, what are you waiting for?  Jungle Scout makes your product research time more efficient and productive. Get your copy today (affiliate).