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  1. #1
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Business Plans for new website

    I've spent the past few months mulling over a website idea, and now I'm thinking of taking it to the next level by coming up with a business plan and creating this idea by the book. I've had a lot of interest in the idea I've pitched and if this works it could be the only website of its kind.

    It didn't take me long to find some Business Plan templates that work well, but getting the overall content looks pretty difficult. How would I go about getting these bits of data?

    1) Similar products on the market. As far as I know there aren't any, so what should I do about this one? If there are products working in closed sectors or not on the Internet do they could as similar products?

    2) Cash Flow Projection. I have no experience with this, and would need to work out what everything would cost to pitch it as an idea, such as legal costs, copyright details, insurance, hosting, whatever an e-business needs?

    3) Plagiarism. My website relies on users submissions as well as its own content. How would I go about covering myself with IP. Is it worthwhile to contact a lawyer (even though I'm very young and lacking tons of cash to pour into this idea).

    4) Getting an e-business off the ground. I'm a student by day, but have always had an interest of running a business online if started properly. As far as hosting goes I've always stuck with shared, but with interest from third-parties dedicated may become an immediate option. Any good guides on buying hosting for those looking for something with a bit of bulk? I'm a CS student so technical information isn't too much of a problem.

    I've been holding these ideas of mine off for way too long and really want to start this one up. Any stories of how you guys and girls got your businesses off from idea to development would be fantastic, as well as some information on how business is going now. What is your day-to-day schedule like? Are you part-time and if so how does that affect your business?

    Any book recommendations would be great as well.

  2. #2
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    webhostingtalk.com for all web hosting related things.

  3. #3
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reldapimp View Post
    webhostingtalk.com for all web hosting related things.
    This board has a Web Hosting forum too. My questions aren't about web hosting either, they are about getting a real business set up from an idea.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict JNKlein's Avatar
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    There is a school of thought that suggests you should skip the business plan entirely, or at least delay it for awhile.

    As a student, you have a great opportunity to just plow forward with the project. You shouldn't waste too much time distracting yourself from getting the project live and in the hands of users.

    A business plan is just a formulaic way of planning your actions. Unless you're pitching to investors, all it really serves to do is ensure you know what end goal you are racing towards.

    So sure, templates are a great way to see how other people do it, but I wouldn't take too much time to worry about it. You're a CS student, so your true strength probably lies in your ability to execute. So get executing and the rest can fall in line.

    Anyway, things will change as you go based on the lessons you learn.

    Imagine if instead of spending all that time mulling over the site, you just started coding.
    I write about making and promoting websites
    worth caring about at my web strategy blog.

    @joshklein on Twitter!

  5. #5
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    That is the school of thought I've taken for nearly every other website I've created, only for it to either completely lose direction, not achieve what is wanted, or to just generally fail. Don't get me wrong! I'm dominantly doing this for the fun of coding and designing something this complex, but I'd like some success with a website, and for once I've stumbled across a fantastic idea.

    Whilst the Business Plan is also so I know exactly what to do with my time and to keep logs of my original goals it's also for outsiders that I may be pitching this idea to. I have given basic outlines of my idea to some business types, and some have even expressed interest in helping me get off the ground as long as I can come up with a good plan. I'm still going ahead with the designing and the building of this website, but almost as a prototype so if this were to get some sort of backing I could build on top of it to create a higher quality result.

    Also, money is a big issue for me right now. It would take me a while to gain enough money to make working on this worthwhile. As a student currently paying his own way through it's pretty hard to find time for everything else. I've spent the past couple of weeks working on this and I think I'm pretty much done with the design, but past that and the coding I'm pretty much stuck. I'm not a phenomenal coder, and even worse at business. I want to get this idea noticed once it's live, but aside from propping it up on the Internet and doing a bit of SEO/SEM I'm stumped.

    The idea is pretty solid, so solid in fact that I wouldn't doubt there is to be at least one other person out there working on making it a profitable website. I do really need to get this website off the ground, but I want it done by the books this time, instead of ad-hoc coding and putting it up only for no one to be interested.

  6. #6
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    I've been in internet businesses long enough to know, someone's working on every idea. But the truth is, 99.5% will never do anything with it so you're right, just plow ahead.

    As far as marketing, my favorite subject, imo the days of put up a site and they will come is long gone. SEO is way overrated. Most techno-heads, like I used to only be, have no clue about marketing. That's okay because to do an engineering job you don't have to know about it. But you've also crossed the line over to business owner so you have to wear all the hats. Which means, when you have your marketing hat you have to forget that your "engineering department" exists and all it's biases and preconceptions about what people should do should be ignored.

    Okay, you already know what a business plan does. All company documentation like a business plan in essence does only two things; what comes in and what goes out. The in-between is the purpose of other documents that also have an input and output but includes the how-to.

    So the business plan explains to the organization, you, about where you'll get the money, how you'll make more money and what you'll do with the money you've made to reach an end. That takes maybe 1 hour to do effectively enough for just you. You can always hire someone on elance.com to write up a good one but it's really not that hard.

    I'm in the camp of get it done and document it later. I've made the mistake of thinking I had to have all my ducks in a row when it turns out the pond is polluted. Which I end up thinking I just wasted my time documenting something that never happens.

    My suggestion is to spend as much time as you possibly can in defining your target market down to the minutia, look for cheap effective ways to reach them and hit them hard and often with marketing. You can market an idea that doesn't exist, just let them know you'll be launching soon. If nobody bites, you'll save months of headache. If they do, you'll have strong motivation and hopefully the money you need to get the idea done quickly. GL
    I study speed waiting. I can wait an entire hour in 10 minutes.

  7. #7
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHPCamp.com View Post
    So the business plan explains to the organization, you, about where you'll get the money, how you'll make more money and what you'll do with the money you've made to reach an end. That takes maybe 1 hour to do effectively enough for just you. You can always hire someone on elance.com to write up a good one but it's really not that hard.
    This is where the problem is. I have no issues with writing up a Business Plan and with my typing speed I'd expect one knocked-out pretty quickly. However, as far as earning on the Internet goes how am I supposed to show expected Cash Flows and the rest? Hosting is so far the only cost as I've already designed it and am working on the coding, but how do I go about detailing how I'll earn back that money? Advertising is really my only safe bet, and how would I put a value on something that will change every single month?

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast theburlster's Avatar
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    Stealin ideas!

    I have a question whilst we're on this topic actually. Supposing you do want to check to see whether there are any bites for your idea... how do you stop someone else coming along and just outright taking it, then claiming they'd never heard of it.

    Say I stuck up a "IDEA XYZ - COMING SOON" page, but then a month later when I was ready, found out someone had rushed out a site doing a similar thing, most likely having browsed upon mine and thought "Hmmm... good idea"??

    I'm like you said... An engineer who accepts a lack of knowledge in the marketing arena. But I also have a great idea I can't wait to code and kick out. Oh, and even once its on-line, how do you then stay on top of the market? Surely all someone needs to do is put up a similar site shortly afterwards, market it better, and your idea makes someone else rich??

    Sorry, must have my pessimist head on today. Usually I'm quite upbeat about this stuff.
    The Burlster of www.burlster.com fame

  9. #9
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theburlster View Post
    I have a question whilst we're on this topic actually. Supposing you do want to check to see whether there are any bites for your idea... how do you stop someone else coming along and just outright taking it, then claiming they'd never heard of it.

    Say I stuck up a "IDEA XYZ - COMING SOON" page, but then a month later when I was ready, found out someone had rushed out a site doing a similar thing, most likely having browsed upon mine and thought "Hmmm... good idea"??

    I'm like you said... An engineer who accepts a lack of knowledge in the marketing arena. But I also have a great idea I can't wait to code and kick out. Oh, and even once its on-line, how do you then stay on top of the market? Surely all someone needs to do is put up a similar site shortly afterwards, market it better, and your idea makes someone else rich??

    Sorry, must have my pessimist head on today. Usually I'm quite upbeat about this stuff.
    The problem is there is nothing stopping them from taking this idea and doing something with it. Sadly, the best thing to do is to get it out there as fast as possible. In fact, the best possible way of going about it is to not put a coming soon page up at all. Just release it with a welcoming notice and wait for the users to flood in.

  10. #10
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    1. if you want talk about similar products, then there is always be .5 propbablity that you are using someones knowhow without authorization, so dont scare. Give it a name and registered it as your Trademark. Do some patent search..uspto/wipo/epo. If the product or the process involved to produce such products is Patentable...file a provisional patent with your patent office. LOCKyourIP.
    2. Cash Flow Projection>> lots of application is freely available. Do some Google.
    3. Plagiarism>> Privacy policy and Users terms & condition, the only help. and some technological measures is still possible, I am talking about e-signature technology.
    4. Try to found as much as FREE things as possible in the start up. I dont want to explain this point.
    5. An informal legal guy is truly needed.

    These are free advise too, so not the best quality.

  11. #11
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    If you've determined there's a market and you can reach that market then just go for it. There's so many people who have thought of an idea but never done anything with it. If someone steals your idea they may have considered it but been afraid to do anything then they see your site and they jump into action.

    I don't know if you watch moto-x but nobody wanted to try a backflip on a moto-x bike then one guy does it now they all do it. Today, it doesn't matter who did it first now it's who can take it further and do a superman backflip or whatever. The innovators keep pushing forward while the copycats trail behind. You want to be the innovator and stay one step ahead of your competitors.

    The key however is to ensure you're spending your valuable engineering time on the tasks that your market really wants and is willing to spend money on today. Hope that helps.
    I study speed waiting. I can wait an entire hour in 10 minutes.


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