Building a Strong Sales Team and Retaining Professionals

Having a strong sales team, along with the ability to retain it, is a major condition of revenue growth for every business. It does not matter if your team is large or only has you and your business partner, the rules of the game are the same: your sales team is the blood system of your business, and your success in sales depends on the professionalism and the dynamics of your sales people’s work.

But how can you build a winning sales team? And how can you keep the desired dynamics of their work? In this article, we will try to answer these questions.

The first thing to do for a manager who is about to build a strong sales team is to make decision about the sellers’ competences that he/she needs for the business.

As a manager you need to know what scope of activities your sales people are going to cover;

Secondly, it is necessary to outline the skills required for every sales person you already have and for everyone you are planning to hire. Creating an outline of each role in your sales team would be a useful thing, and of course, you need to collect and analyze regular updates of the results of your sales team’s work: How many new clients have they attracted in a month? Why that many? How much income have they made for the business? What product/service seemed to sell better (worse) last month? Why so? It might be helpful to create a table of such questions and fill it with results of analysis every month. In a year, you can collect valuable information about the work of your sales department. Keeping track of the sales team’s work and doing regular analysis of the results will let you create a rational plan for the next year’s needs of the business in sales people

Now, when you know where you are going and when you have set up the rhythm of your sales, you have to think about keeping that rhythm stable and retaining your sales people in the team. Here are a few basic and “classical” measures that can help you accomplish this task.

  1. Engage every team member into the life of your business, let them sense its rhythm and dynamics and feel that they are a part of it.
  2. Create specific, measurable goals for each team member and set up regular team meetings to let your sales team see how their individual contributions flow into the “pool” of the whole business.
  3. Make sure that the goals you set are monitored, engineered and broken down into activities that a salesperson can control.
  4. Creating a backlog of engagement activities would be a good idea; it helps keep your team working with the same pace and following the right direction.
  5. Set the dynamics of each salesperson’s work. This means that you need to support the development of each salesperson’s skills to achieve their long-term professional development.
  6. Take steps to create retention and promotion opportunities for your sales people. Every worker will appreciate knowing that your company has a thought-through system and a set of traditions for retaining/promoting sales people.
  7. Organize frequent coaching for all team members, let them exchange experiences; make sure that they obtain trainings from experienced sales people representing other businesses.
  8. Also, certification is a powerful tool to ensure success of your sales people.

The one thing you certainly don’t want to happen is to lose your sales worker after you have invested a lot of time and resources into their professional growth. There is always some risk that a sales person who has left your business may join your competition some day; this means double trouble for you.

So, whenever you take new sales people into your team and make a commitment to train them, make sure to do this well. They will remain with your business and contribute into it for years if they feel satisfaction and see promotion opportunities in proportion to their professional growth.

When to Start Marketing Your New Business

If you are new to the whole starting-a-business thing, you certainly have a lot on your plate trying to set up everything you need for it, and of course, you are in a hurry to attract your first sales a.s.a.p. In this situation, marketing seems to be some thing of the future, because… well, there have been no sales, so there is nothing to market yet!

Let me save you the time of reading and say from the very start that this approach would be wrong. Marketing a business is born along with its name, and should grow little by little as you are setting the business up. I will gladly discuss pros and cons of the process with you in comments (or on a chat if you like), but here I am going to share a few particular ways to market your new business as you are setting it up.

Build a community. Every successful business needs returning customers. If you have a little candy store on a street corner, you rely on that elderly couple and that woman with three kids, and that guy in a funny hat who have developed a habit of visiting you daily. Nothing is different in online business: if you have a stable community — a group of like-minded people who keep visiting your website or blog — you feel kind-of backed up by their support. Some of them will certainly buy your products or services once in a while; they will spread a word about you to more people, and thus your community will grow and strengthen.

Connect with your customers via social media. Why not connect with your existing customers via Facebook? Why not place pictures of your store, your goods or just yourself doing various things on Instagram? This will show both, your current and potential customers that you are a creative individual, that you are quite accessible in case if they need to connect with you, and that you are.. well, just a nice person.

Hosting virtual meetings, workshops or masterclasses is another good way to attract people to your business. Call them out to meet you in a chat while you show them how you create your product, or explain how you provide your service. Show them the outcome which they may have if they buy from you. People like to socialize, especially when they can take something (a piece of knowledge, for example) away after a meetup. It is more efficient that hosting conferences or providing webinars where you are the only one who speaks all the time. Think about it. You might make your products and services shine in your customers’ eyes by just showing them how your services work in a virtual meeting.

Do not just tell things to people: show them things. You can attract many customers by simply starting an Instagram account and posting photos related to your business there.

Do not forget about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is another cost-effective way to spread information about your business. It won’t work for you right away, but in the long run it will help create stable inflow of visitors to your website (blog). Read about SEO on the Internet (there are thousands of articles) and consider doing it if you have not done this yet.

As soon as you have your first customers, consider doing so-called referral-based marketing. Before buying your product or service, eight people in ten would like to see some reviews, testimonials or case studies, to build up their opinion about buying or not buying from you. So, do not forget to ask your happy customers for a review or a reference, or a simple comment on your website about their impressions of working with you.

Provide discounts, offer free trials and previews. Do something for free. Why? Because people love it. I think this one does not even require an explanation, 🙂

Well, I think I will finish here today, but of course this is just the beginning of a long ToDo list which you will have as you start marketing your new business. Please, share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below. I will very appreciate any feedback.

Good luck!

Digital Transformation in Business Operations Management

Technology in the hands of businessmen

As a foreword to this article, let me share a request that I seem to receive from our customers with regularity that requires special attention.

“…our operation management system is limited to papers…, so we’ve been thinking about introducing an App integrated into a program/software available to clients on our website…”

In 2020, when half of the world has already gone digital and the other is on the way, many companies — from small outlets to large monsters of business — rethink their management strategies and upgrade their operation management systems.

It is no longer new that in every industry and domain, customers’ digital expectations are becoming higher today. On the one hand, everybody is looking for digital products and services as more innovative and attractive to use; on the other hand, everyone loves the speed, accuracy, productivity, and convenience that digital world offers us.

At the same time, the soaring development of digital products and services raises new questions for the role of operations management, because many businesses have already devoted significant time, resources, and attention to improving management of their operations.

I have heard some company leaders ask about it directly: “If so many of our current operations are going to be automated—what will be left to manage?”

The answer, of course, is evident: “Still a lot.”

The so-called digitizing or digital transformation is new and is happening a bit too fast, indeed. The speed at which digital technologies spread and penetrate into our lives is freaking out. Even balancing between lower investment into traditional operations against greater investment into digital causes questions among leaders of businesses. Because, well, let’s face it: if you do it slowly, you can’t beat the competition, and it is kind of equal to doing nothing. If you do it fast, you can hardly remain the most innovative company for a long time, because while you are implementing your technology, a few others—even more elaborate and efficient—have already appeared on the market.

Then, how should businesses structure their operations management to make it invulnerable to technological change? The only answer that comes to mind is: building people’s capabilities. Today, machines are increasingly capable of complex—even smart—activities, such as developing algorithms for mathematical modeling or even more: the miracles performed by machine learning. So, the people operating machines need to acquire new skills—the ones that enable their work with such savvy machines and programs.

Experts say that in these conditions businesses have to deal with four major shifts.

Firs of all, a business needs to know what combination of digital and analog (or traditional) technologies can be the most desirable in their particular situation. Rather than simply abandon digitization, it would be smart for each company to analyze their processes related to customers and study their employees’ activities, and then determine which reports could be turned into automated products.

A company like the one I am with, CHI Software, can perform such analysis and advise businesses about the best choices to make. A good piece of software that takes care of the ongoing dialogue among customers, employees and some third-party services, can help reduce times, costs and human involvement into those operations in times, which means that the business can quickly develop and test almost any automated report, successfully roll it out in record time and thus, satisfy everyone involved in the process of services.

Secondly, it is important to re-orient many business activities to showcase and sustain digital. This means modifying roles for everyone, from clerks and ordinary workers to investment advisers, by introducing new ways of communication, customer service and general management of operations.

In an example of a project where a portal connecting customers with a company employees was developed, within the first three months of using the new portal, the amount of services increased 70 percent, while the costly manual processing reduces two times, which made bringing new customers on board 60 percent faster!

The next shift lies in rethinking internal roles so that they support the way your business works with its customers. Our client, a European city municipality learned this lesson as it set out on a digital redesign of its complex, manual processes related to providing building permissions to construction companies. The entire process consisted of hundreds of little steps performed by numerous clerks, such as document reviews, compliance checks or paper and payment processing—with no real correlation to what customers wanted to accomplish. The monstrous amount of time and effort was wasted by both parties, the municipal employees and their customers.

The municipal authorities decided to restructure their services so that customers could easily reach their processing clerks and exchange information online; they also allowed to fill out papers online and share information about a client’s package of papers between various municipal departments. The resulting reconfiguration of the whole operations management system reduced handoffs and time loss by two times, effectively doubling total capacity.

The final shift requires managers to develop much stronger day-to-day skills in working with their teams. A top-to-bottom transformation requires time, considerable effort and a good deal of open, progressive thinking. During digital transformation in companies, managers and leaders often report high levels of stress and turnover. But finally, the results are impressive: reduction of operational expenses, increase in general income, success and noticeable growth of business.

Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions regarding digital transformation for your operations management system.

Smart Technologies for Logistics Companies

What  Use Can Logistics Companies Make of the AI and IoT Technology Today?


Since the beginning of the new millennium, when technologies have become capable of replacing people in many complex, smart operations, more and more businesses realize the necessity to optimize their daily processes by digitalizing nearly every step in their performance. As I am focusing on logistics, I will give you a few examples of the use that logistics companies can make of the technology innovations today.

Logistics is changing these days. Technology has penetrated into all of its domains and changed the way how freight, sales orders, materials, goods, production, inventory and accounting are managed. 

Every logistics company, however, performs its own, unique combination of specific operations that aren’t fully covered by ready-made solutions. This is why owners of logistics companies often have to decide whether to adopt a commercial solution or to invest into creation of software which would be tailored to their specific needs (so-called custom, or customized, solution).

Gartner has predicted that 50% of the large global companies will use advanced analytics, IoT and AI in their supply chain operations in 2020, and it seems they already do. Let us take a look at how the most innovative technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and the newest IoT (Internet of Things) solutions work to the advantage of logistics companies. First of all, it is necessary to say that Logistics and Transportation Management (TM) system require continuous analysis of all operations and so every business has to attract logistics professionals who focus on the procurement and planning of transportation of people, goods or materials.

There are eight major areas to deal with in Transportation Management System: in each of them, the use of innovative technologies can boost the business and help companies overcome competition.

Dealing with Pickup and Delivery Requests

Here, a customer assigns pickup/delivery requests that go to the carrier. In this business, a great answer to optimizing daily operations would be to develop an interface for customers to send pickup/delivery requests. To handle the operations effectively, there are many logistics software available in the market. NetSuite and McLeod are popular platforms for logistics operations that are capable of doing many operations like forecasting and budgeting, supply chain and inventory, revenue management, customer relationship management and business intelligence. Companies that would like to make sure that all of their unique operations are covered may decide to develop their own software which will be adapted specifically to their needs.

Dealing with Carrier Management

How can carriers identify if the deliveries are done efficiently or not? The best answer to this task in the 21-st century is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics algorithms can ensure so-called on-time and in-full delivery, meaning that that fleets arrive on time, and goods are received and moved on time so that shipments are delivered to customers when they want it.

To make this  possible, some IoT devices (sensors) are embedded in trucks, trains or ships; they feed data like engine performance, speed (or weight, temperature, humidity – literally any countable data) and send it to the carriers. Based on the received data, logistics specialists can model and predict the estimated arrival times and engine failures. For example, telematics data captured from a vehicle can reveal its speed, position, condition and time left to reach the destination.

The obtained data is also used to notify people about delays along with the load/unload activities, trucks heading to the same destination and product delivery requirements. As a result, all this ensures minimized delays and fulfilled customer expectations.

Smart logistics that uses AI and IoT can help ports, shipping companies, suppliers and agents optimize resource utilization and their schedules.

Another answer to the tasks of logistics is Demand Forecasting – a technology that works in the basis of inventory and orders data. Using it, companies can predict the demand for shipments and products in their supply chain. Logistics companies need to evaluate capacity demand based on the combination of historical data, including inventory data and order data. They implement forecasting models for better decision making. Companies that use custom demand forecasting models, obtain accurate forecasts that help them decide what additional capacity is required, how to routes and times of transportation, and what to do to improve cargo vehicle capacity and asset utilization.

Thanks to accurate predictions of asset and shipment demands, the logistics companies can increase cargo capacity and high-demand goods can be delivered to customers on-time.

Implementing IoT sensors in logistics makes tracking of goods more accessible. Sensors are used to capture and exchange data. IoT allows handling data remotely across the network infrastructure. Sensors can be embedded, for example, in vehicles carrying goods from one place to another. Data captured by sensors can be converted into valuable insights using AI. AI-enabled analytics facilitate tracking of shipments and send tracking reports during the trip. Real-time monitoring of goods provides information like departure and arrival times; loss of goods during the journey; live location of the shipment; any deviations from the scheduled route, etc. With all this information, logistics companies can considerably improve their operations.

In food transportation logistics, IoT sensors can be used to send useful data about food around the whole supply chain, ensuring that all food safety regulations are met and maintaining complete transparency of every operation.

Carriers are always interested in optimizing transportation routes and communication with warehouses, and here the role of IoT and AI technologies cannot be overestimated. IoT provides real-time insights that can be monitored and reported, therefore it becomes easier to identify and deal with delays due to weather conditions or maintenance issues with trucks, and carriers can be effectively traced throughout the whole supply chain.   

Optimized route planning using AI and IoT is becoming a norm, even a necessity, for logistics companies today. Loads can be assigned for pickup to drivers based on their current location: a driver nearby can pick up a load and deliver it to a certain place. Depending on the type of goods to pick up, decisions about transportation can be made right ‘on the go’ due to the information captured by sensors and sent to the service providers.

IoT sensors can provide information on the type of goods, their real time location, changes of the planned route, delivery/pickup from warehouses, temperature, humidity, etc. If AI technologies are also implemented, the providers of logistics services can, for example, estimate delivery times, analyze driver’s behavior, check quality and condition of the transported goods, suggest solutions about the best routes to choose, etc. Thus, warehouses can efficiently plan their operations and do it in advance, which helps optimize the whole chain of the performed operations.

Pickup Optimization

Technologies, including AI and IoT, are used for pickup optimization. As trucks are selected for pickup based on the type of load to be carried, AI learns historical patterns of the previous operations and suggests the most efficient decisions to carriers. An AI-based model can predict which truck should picking up goods at a certain time in a certain place. If a truck is supplied with certain IoT sensors/devices, it is possible to gather information about the temperature under which goods are stored, the real time of the goods location, truck information like speed, fuel expenses, etc.

Warehouse Management

Certain combination of AI and IoT can facilitate carrier and warehouse collaboration. For example, IoT sensors equipped in a truck send the real-time location of the truck and its ETA to warehouse managers. Based on this information, warehouse managers can keep the required space vacant and prepare for the unloading of goods before time. It will help warehouses manage their schedules efficiently and precisely.

If sensors are installed around the warehouse area, they would send the information related to doors near the vacant space to truck drivers based on their GPS data and estimated time of arrival. It will help truck drivers reduce the time of entering the warehouse.  And this is only one example of possible ways to facilitate better collaboration between logistics companies and warehouses.

IoT can be used to ensure safety of drivers and goods : specially designed locks facilitate interlocking of the trailer’s air brakes with the dock door. Smart locks ensure that the truck cannot depart until unloading/loading gets completed. Trailers can only leave the warehouse when the dock door is closed. It can keep your equipment and employees safe.

One more way to ensure the security of the warehouse is by using computer vision. IoT cameras can be installed in the warehouse area that captures the status of loading /unloading and load transfer. Edge computing can be applied to the smart cameras that enable the crucial action based on any event fetched during load transfer activity. If any fragile good gets broken up during unloading due to the bad behavior of labor, warehouse managers can get notified about it.

Transit Operations Optimization

IoT-enabled sensors and AI technology in combination with GPS sensors installed in trucks can provide its real-time location based on which AI model evaluates the estimated time of arrival. Based on the real-time data gathered by IoT devices, logistics companies can track transit operations in real-time.

With the help of predictive analytics companies study the difference between predicted time and the actual time the truck takes to reach the destination. Customers and logistics companies can know if the goods are delivered under the right temperature conditions.

Load Exchange Optimization

When a truck gets overloaded or gets into an accident, truck drivers have to wait for a long time to find alternative options. But IoT and AI can help reduce the wait time by capturing real-time data and enabling intelligent actions. AI-based models for load exchange optimization would allow quick exchange of load from one truck to another. IoT sensors would capture the information about the delay of the truck and a new vehicle will be assigned automatically to exchange the load and deliver it to the final destination. GPS devices installed in the truck provide information, including latitude and longitude, real-time location of the vehicle and motion of the vehicle. So, carriers can quickly determine the condition of a vehicle during an accident and react accordingly.

Delivery Process Management

To deliver goods from warehouses to end customers, trucks can be notified about the vacant door for picking up goods and warehouse operators would be informed about the load preparation. Then, the goods will be transferred to the carrier under the complete security using IoT-enabled locks and computer vision-based cameras. Once the loading is done, the carrier can set on the way and deliver the load to the customers.

Business Intelligence and Reporting

Once transportation operations are done, companies often need a comprehensive report that contain the negative and positive trends of performance during the supply of goods. Everyone knows that the demand for business intelligence within the logistics and transportation space is skyrocketing. They want to identify root causes and analyze negative trends in performance and cost to take intelligent actions.

Business Intelligence allows converting data into valuable information. Earlier, reporting was only limited to extracting data, fetching it from a system and bringing it into a spreadsheet or database where a company would try to use it and convert it into useful data.

But nowadays, business intelligence has reached the next level, where companies can generate valuable reports that showcase all the data about logistics providers in a scorecard format. Factors, including on-time pick-up and delivery, capacity commitments and driver behavior are assigned metrics that help users determine the performance of carriers.

Also, managers who require a daily and quick overview of what is happening can use real-time dashboards that provide real-time information and help users solve problems as they occur. Dashboards offer companies the advantage of quick reaction time as users don’t have to wait for someone to create and send reports.

Companies use BI and reporting to display patterns found in historical data that can predict opportunities and future risks in the supply chain or transportation networks.

Let’s understand how shippers can use business intelligence to improve logistics and supply chain operations with an example.
Suppose one shipper has a 90-percent on-time delivery rate for load transfer consistently, but he wants to go to the root of the problem dragging down the other ten percent of shipment. Did delays occur because of the broken lanes? Is there any problem with the equipment or carrier?

With business intelligence, it becomes possible to narrow down delay-causing factors. For example, if the shipper reached late due to the congestion in that way, companies can discover the issue with business intelligence and take necessary actions.

With BI data, it becomes easier for logistics companies and their team to make operational decisions more efficiently.

Therefore, implementing BI across the shipments can result in an end-to-end pickup and delivery time improvement.

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are disrupting logistics and transportation management by making logistics operations more smarter day by day. It is expected that delays in pickups/deliveries and trucking capacity concerns will become a matter of the past when AI and IoT come into use everywhere.

Dealing with Competition When Starting a Business

Making first steps in business may come as a big turn in life for you and of course it may cause quite a lot of stress. Well, it is a universal fact: starting up a business is always painful.

Suppose you have come up with a great business idea, developed a business plan, built up the website and set up a whole business platform for it, spent time and money on advertisement and general arrangements and finally, when you already have your leg in the doorway, you realize that there are thousands of other companies like yours in the market doing the same business as yours!

Quite upsetting, eh? Well, it is always so. Moreover, there will be dozens of real business monsters that are successful simply because they are large and are covering 80% of your potential clientele, and there are smaller units — just next door — which have been in this market for quite a while and are doing successfully.

How can you overcome this period of uncertainty? What should you do to survive and beat the fierce competition? Well, I have developed a few simple rules for myself; keeping to them has always been very helpful, so let me share them with you here.

Know the competition. Find out what they are offering, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This will identify the areas you need to compete in, and give you a platform for differentiating yourself.

Know your customers.  Their expectations change all the time, at some moments the change may be quite dramatic. Find out what matters to them at this particular moment – it may be a lower price, a change in a product or service, or deficit of particular products – just take time to analyze the situation in the market.

Use individual approach. This rule is as old as the world, but still, only the smartest business people can use it well and with every client they face. First of all, you need to give your customers good reasons to come to you rather than your next door competitor. To attract customers to your business, you need to know very well what they want at this moment. It should be clear and obvious – no-one should have to ask what makes you different.

Never put marketing aside. Make continuous effort to tell people who you are, what you sell and why they should buy from you. It doesn’t have to be expensive – promotional ideas can range from a poster in your window to photos of your products on Instagram and big social media campaigns.

Create an image for yourself and keep it looking nice. Simple steps such as creating a good header for your blog can make your business look more attractive and inviting. Look at your business cards, social media presence, your website layout, packaging of your goods, clothing and so on. How does your business look in your clients’ eyes?

Continuously improve customer services. Think about your customers and try to be more responsive to their needs and expectations. Consider offering little extras such as discounts or loyalty schemes. It is always easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones.

Target new markets. Expanding your markets can do more than just increasing your customer base: it can spread (and therefore minimize) your risk. You may want to reach a wider audience by selling online, you can expand your advertising to sending emails to potential clients overseas, well there may be many ideas, you only need to start thinking in that direction.

Finally, you need to always look to the future. A business that is planned for growth is more successful than those that remain still. Keep up following consumer trends, invest time and funds in new technology, develop a clear idea of where you want to be in one, two and five years’ time. Even if you cannot be absolutely sure, planning for the future helps.

Putting it short, simply set up your mind on development and success. Love your business and your product/service, and never stop studying it. Also, learn to inspire people to buy your products and services, and success will come soon, I am sure. I have been living with this motto: Share love. Educate, Inspire. It works. It works really well.

On Starting an Online Business with Minimum Investment

The world is full of people who were told time and time again that their dream was impossible. They chose not to listen.

There is a saying that every successful enterprise needs three people: a dreamer, a businessman and a son-of-a-bitch. The dreamer would use his boldness and creativity to come up with ideas (read: goals) that do not seem doable; the business person would turn them into plans and strategy, and the third guy would apply his expertise and perseverance to making all of that stuff come true.

If you believe that you have a little drop of each of the three in your character, you should give it a try: start a business of your own. The 21-st century is a perfect time to do this.

I made my first steps in doing business remotely around the year 2000; I was a poor teacher with a family to take care of, and I lived in a country that had just shaken off the burden of the USSR’s ideology and lifestyle, where even the word ‘business’ had somewhat different meaning from the one we are accustomed to now.

No need to say, I had absolutely no money to invest into it: I did not even have a bank account! But I was lucky to have a few friends — the people I could trust, who were very reliable and, like me, had no money — so we decided to invest our energy, time and talents into ‘starting up something (this was how we used to call our business then) that would work with minimum investment’.

A year later, our Something was working in full swing, providing services to dozens of people, growing fast, expanding and generating some income — a modest income, but sufficient for us to live on and continue developing the services. On the day of its first anniversary, we gave our Something a name.

Now, when I look back, I realize that it was successful because we started it wisely:

  • we did a good work of planning it at the very beginning;
  • as we had no money, we had to invest our time and effort: we shared responsibilities between us, so each of us knew what expertise and how much effort they had to contribute into the business;
  • we agreed to spend all income generated during the first 6 months from the day of the first sale into the development of the business (and it worked!)
  • we continued keeping initial pace of the business even after we started generating some income.

Today, if I had to start it all over, I would probably do most of the things the same way. I would only add a few things in order to shorten the setting up phase:

  • I would buy my first website with a simple shopping basket (in my case, we had to build the website, add the shopping module and do all the SEO part by ourselves);
  • I would start a wiser marketing policy (there are many ways to market a business for free before you start investing into marketing);
  • I would start developing useful connections a lot sooner than I did, so by the time my website is up and running, I would have a list of potential clients to come to with my services.

When you start a business online, the only thing you need to invest into is the website — or even a web page — that would have some space to announce about your business and a tool that would allow your visitors to make payments for your goods or services from this web page directly into your bank account. This is a way easier to setup than having to prepare a whole office or a store for accepting customers. This is why I believe that the 21-st century is a perfect time for doing business. If you have some money to invest, you may go to a web-studio and request to have your website (web page) developed. Then, if you really want your business to work, you will be learning a lot every day. So, running the site and developing the online business will be the same thing as doing it in real time but with minimum initial investment.

In my following post, I will share about the things which you need to know before you request the development of a website which is supposed to become your online store or office. Here, I just wanted to say that it is possible. Even if you have very modest funds to start with.

Planning Your Sell-from-Home Business

“Don’t find customers for your products, Find products for your customers” Seth Godin, a famous blogger

The process of selling products face-to-face away from a retail store location, a market or, currently, from the coziness of your home, is called direct sales. When you decide to start selling something for the first time, more often than not, you do direct sales, and your first buyers are your friends, family, and co-workers. Later, you will develop your customer base by getting referrals and marketing your business.

At this moment, when you are only beginning your sell-from-home journey, you must be sitting in front of your computer screen for hours, surfing through the Internet in search of information how to set everything up.

In a perfect world, every business process begins with writing a detailed, formal business plan.

In the real world, most of us are tempted to jump right in and start building business right away, because — well, it is quite clear why. Because we need to start making money. Now.

Still, some planning has to be done if you want to succeed. Here are a few ideas how to simplify the process of planning and how to turn the boring process into fun.

(1) Think over your business opportunities. Write down answers to these questions:

  • Why do my future customers need the product that I am going to sell? (In other words, what creates the demand for your product?) Eg.: In summer, people tend to buy more water, ice-cream, umbrellas, sun glasses, hats etc. because it is hot. In the coming summer, many people may have to work from their homes, so they will be needing things like fans, air conditioners, water filters, home ice-cream machines, etc. The reason of growing demand for these products is the fact that a big [part of population will have to adapt to living and working from homes.
  • What can you offer to your customers as a solution of their problem? (What can you offer your customers to satisfy their demand?

(2) Think about your target market. Who are your potential buyers? What do these people have in common? Write down your thoughts about it. Eg.: Women ____ (ages –, interests — , preferences — etc.); Men ____ (ages –, interests — , preferences — etc.)

(3) Who are your competitors? Who is also going to sell the same products to the people in your sector of interest? Eg. Retail stores? Online stores? Other home business owners? Your next-door neighbor?

(4) Funding needed. Again, it makes sense to write this down and have a good look at your figures. Eg. $3,5k to purchase a webpage with a shopping basket, set up payment options to receive payments, to buy some supplies and do a bit of marketing

(5) Sales and marketing. How will you let people know that you are starting sales of your product or service? If your sales channel is an online store, you’ll need to consider doing specific marketing activities — they are different from the marketing that real store owners do. Write down a few things like these, to keep them at hand for the future: Eg. Set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, learn about GoogleAds, guest blogging, newsletters, Twitter campaigns etc.

(6) Financial Projections. This is the part of planning that everyone likes doing. Try putting this on paper:

  • Plan your sales for the nearest month; 6 months; 1 year; 2 years
  • Plan your expenses for the nearest month; 6 months; 1 year; 2 years
  • Plan your profit for the nearest month; 6 months; 1 year; 2 years

(7) Think about your milestones. Do not forget to write down the dates — then your dream will start looking like a plan — and see how realistic they are. Eg.: June, 1: set up payment module on my webpage; June, 15: prepare first 100 items of the product for sale; June 16: start marketing the product via social networks and among friends, colleagues, etc.; July 1: sell the first 20 items

(8) Your team and key roles. Are you planning to do everything by yourself? Will it become a family business some day? Who is going to help you and how much? What will everyone be responsible for in your business?

Young entrepreneur, teenager business owner work at home, alpha generation life style. checking parcel for deliver

(9) Partnerships and resources. Who can you attract to assisting you in developing your business? Will you need someone to deliver your goods to customers? Are you thinking about using a photographer to take beautiful pictures of your product items for your website? Will you need a packing service or any wrapping materials to buy for your sales process? Write down every item that you can think of and see which of these services/items you can get for free and what will require expenses. Decide who you can partner with in these areas and start negotiating with those people beforehand.

Well, your business plan is not something stable and done once and for all. You will need to work on this document all the time. Set a rule for yourself to look through your plan every morning, especially now, when you are setting everything up and learning a lot. The first week it may be a bit stressful, but as soon as you get into a habit of working with your biz plan daily, you will see that it helps you. It helps you to remain on track. It shows you the direction to go. Finally, it makes you feel more confident, which is so important for your future success.

“What Can I Sell with My Sell-from-Home Business?”

“Care enough to create value for customers. If you get that part right, selling is easy.” Anthony Iannarino, B2B Sales Coach

Since February 2020, online shopping has been developing at amazing speed and has actually managed to beat offline general merchandising stores (department and other non-specialized big-box stores). With so many people trying to minimize their exposure to the outside world, this trend is likely to get supercharged in 2020.

While things like groceries, household goods, medicines, health, beauty and personal care products have been resistant to the digital economy because many people still feel more comfortable picking them out in person rather than trusting the web, other groups of products like electronics and books are already purchased online as often as not. Now, a prolonged period of social distancing and quarantines may go a long way towards convincing people to try the web when buying groceries or shampoo.

Today — and day after day this tendency seems to mature — all businesses and all service providers tend to secure themselves by going online. Even those few lucky guys to still have their doors open to visitors. This whole quarantine thing has given a powerful push to moving all kinds of human relations toward online interaction.

As I spent decades of my life working as a university teacher, researcher and academic books author, I have met thousands of people who never did any kind of business and never believed they could do some. Today, when another crisis has slammed into our lives and smashed whole industries, millions of people who were used to working hard for salary have found themselves overboard, paddling helplessly, not knowing what to do.

So I have been hearing questions, like “Who will employ me now?”, “What shall I do without my office?”, “Learning a new set of skills? Hmm, isn’t it too late for me?”

People tend to develop a habit of doing things again and again: they feel comfortable and protected this way. As soon as the habitual rhythm is broken, many of us start feeling lost. This year, quite all of a sudden, the habitual pace of life was broken for millions of us. People have to rethink their occupations and general lifestyles.

Those who are familiar with doing sales from real offices and stores, as well as those who never did anything of the kind, are ready to try going online: they have no other choice! Their uncertainty often comes out in the same thing they say: “Okay, suppose I set up an online store.. what’s next? What can I sell from it?”

This is the place where our epigraph should go. Anthony Iannarino’s words about creating value for the customers are the roadmap for every beginner in online sales.They mean that one needs to find something — no matter, goods or services — that their potential customers would value and desire to own.

The easiest way to approach this decision would be to look around and ask yourself a series of questions:

  • Which of my skill(s) and knowledge can I share with people to satisfy their needs? (Think well, make a list);
  • What do people around me need most of all today? Which products or services are they eager to buy? (Think well, make a list);
  • Which items in my list are the same or somewhat similar to the list of people’s needs that I just created?
  • Do I have access (at least potentially) to any of these products or services? (Write them down and select the one that seems the least time/effort consuming to you);
  • How much effort/time/investment may it take me to set up an occupation of providing this product or service to people? (At this point, your thinking game will begin to turn into a plan);
  • Which category of people will appreciate my assistance in the first place? (Now, it will begin to turn into a business plan);
  • Here, at this step of creating your plan, I would suggest you to take a break and return to the beginning of this list. After the time break, go down it again and see if your have come up with new ideas or new items in your lists. It is always good to double check. Then, you can go forward with more confidence.

If your notes look well to you after double check, you will begin to notice that actually, business opportunities are everywhere. You only need to be motivated enough to go all the way from seeing them to making them work in your favor.

Suppose, you know that people in your area often complain about having to travel too far to buy fresh bakery for breakfast. With your online store, you could set up a system of bakery delivery requests, where your neighbors would send you requests for bakery delivery, and your only business would be to check your system for requests every evening and forward them to the bakery store, which would take care of the delivery in the morning. At first, your income on every request will be minimal, but the advantages of doing business online are evident:

  • You can do it from home or from anywhere, just keep your laptop or phone at hand at all times and don’t forget to connect to the Internet;
  • It won’t require as much of investment as a real store or office would;
  • You will always have some time left for your family and other businesses;
  • If you set up agreements with other stores and services and if you take effort to market yourself and get many people to visit your site, your income with grow with each service you provide.

This was just an example, probably not a very convincing one… but my main idea was to show you that you need to understand what people around you value most of all at a certain moment of time.

People’s preferences differ. At one moment they need beautiful clothes; in other times all they can think of is food; some want their purchases delivered right to the door; others need to request a consulting or classes online: all their desires and needs present opportunities for a business-thinking person.

Well, in 2020, the truth of life sounds contradictory, but this is how it is:

If you want to feel solid ground under your feet, go virtual! Go online!

Let us see what the coming summer will bring us. Hopefully, by that time you will already have your online business set up and going.

Set up Your Online Business in a Week!

“Business opportunities are like buses, there is always another one coming.” Richard Branson

Richard Branson has a unique talent of explaining complex things in a simple way, don’t you think? Looking at his quote, one is ready to believe that catching business opportunities is as easy as catching a bus. Well, every business requires a lot of thinking, planning, effort and investment — if we asked Richard Branson, he would tell us a lot about it. But this post is not about Branson’s approach to business, it is about the first steps that one needs to take today, in the 21st century, if they want to “catch their bus”: in other words, if they want to catch a new business opportunity.

Today, when many of us are looking for ways to start making income online, I am glad to share about an opportunity that my company offers: you can have an online store set up for your business in only one week!  Having an online store would prepare you to catch up with the complex reality of life: the whole world is going online, people adapt to working remotely; services and goods are available as before, but… they are provided distantly!

The process is fast-moving, and it is irreversible. The owners of physical offices and stores are facing the fact that it is no longer profitable to keep their premises. At the same time, the businesses that already work online, are having much better times these days.

How can you catch up with the fast pace of reality? Well, the only answer is- start an online business, too! And take effort to learn how to operate it. Luckily for many newbies, many of those who have online stores or businesses are quite reluctant about learning how to promote them. If you try herd, you have all the chances to win the race. This will be your bus to catch. Just set a goal, set it up and hop on!

Well, these are the five simple steps that my company, CHI Software, offers to those who are ready to set up an online business.

If you already own a website, we can connect a payment (or/and delivery) module to your existing website; If you don’t,

We can set up a whole online business (or store) for you, and you can have it just in one week!

I won’t go deep into details here, but the idea of the service is this:

1) We meet in a chat: we discuss your needs; you answer a number of questions which will help us understand all details and peculiarities of your particular business;

2) Based on this discussion, we make you an offer and sign an agreement of services;

3) As soon as all terms and conditions have been setup, we start working and you remain in touch with us;

4) When the work is finished, we show you the result and meet you online to demonstrate how everything works;

5) You start using your new system of online sales. From this moment and during the forthcoming month, we remain in touch with you to assist you with site operations, marketing of your online services and general orientation in online sales.

Interested? Please, send me a message or email me to:; I will gladly share more details and connect you with my colleagues.

setup and build your business
setup online business and start making sales in a week!

Starting a Sell From Home Blog

This photo is a joke, it is nothing more than my little attempt to make you smile and remain optimistic through this time of uncertainty and stress.

Staying indoors may be quite hard to many. Millions of people never had such experiences before, and having to adjust to the work-from-home rhythm is quite stressful to them.

Working from home is not new to me, as is working online, but MAKING A LIVING by selling online is a different thing. It involves quite a lot of positive energy, patience, learning and perseverance. This is why I decided to start putting down and sharing my experiences of working from home as a salesperson. Let us see what it is like.

Please, leave your comments and share your experiences with me. Let us go through this uneasy time together… and win!

  • Follow Share love. Educate. Inspire. on
  • New: English for Your Job Interview

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • An Interview

  • Recent: Romantic English Phrasebook

  • Recent: Romantic Russian Phrase Book

  • Rina’s Short Story

  • Languages & Lifestyles

  • Archives

  • Goodreads

  • 101 Books

  • Writing

  • Blogs I Follow

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

Picks & Reads

nonfiction book blog | librocubicularist | tsundoku | scrivener