Mentor Mama loves Internet Marketing. She loves the excitement; she loves the learning; she loves the connections with new friends. There is a new and different adventure every day. She jumps out of bed in the morning and races to her computer, to blog, facebook, tweet, and hang out with friends.
On Sunday, however, Mentor Mama awoke to something quite different! It was a crisp, clear, country morning in California’s verdant Central Valley. I was visiting my sister and I planned to run downstairs and check my messages before I hung out with the family. Like a good farm girl, my sister was already up and out in the garden.
I poked my head out the door to greet her. Instead of a pleasant, “Good morning,” as I was anticipating, she started waving her arms frantically and running down the driveway. . . . Am I really that scary in the mornings? Then, I heard her yelling, “The goats have jumped the fence again! They’re eating my bushes!” Now, this may not seem worrisome to you, especially if you don’t know much about goats, but goats eat a very wide range of plant material. They are often “hired” to clear a field or even blackberry brambles, so you can imagine what they could do to a meticulously landscaped garden. Fueling the intensity of my sister’s response, is the fact that she has been working extra hard to put the garden into pristine condition for her niece’s upcoming wedding.
Mentor Mama threw on her sandals and raced out front in her pajamas to help! Well, I SAY “raced”, but it was more like “hobbled” on the rough gravel. My sister was wearing her pajamas with farm boots and both of us had bedheads with our hair sticking out in all directions. We were waving our arms and trying to shoo two very aggressive goats (one with really big horns) out of the bushes lining the long drive.
I would have expected these poor animals to be scared to death as two bleary-eyed wild-women came charging towards them. At first, the two billy goats gruff just ignored us, as they chomped away on the apparently delicious shrubbery. As we came closer, they peered at us with curiosity from behind the bushes and moved deeper into the foliage. Finally, as we began yelling and clapping our hands, the escapees darted out from the bushes like we were playing tag!
As the crazy ladies advanced, attempting to accomplish the “simple” task of herding the goats back to their own field, the two miscreants got crafty. When we chased them down the drive, they pretended to run away, but suddenly darted to one side and circled around behind us. When we cornered one behind a bush, hoping to keep him from getting to the rose garden, the other dashed across the lawn, straight towards the potted plants. When we finally rounded them up and guided them close to the gate, they took a sudden hard left and headed towards the highway. . . . Now, mind you, we wanted the goats out of the yard, but we weren’t looking to make goat pancakes. Just picture the Keystone Cops in pajamas, running after two goats who were clearly their intellectual superiors!
When the owner of the goats arrived to subdue the breakout, she calmly called her inmates by name, shook a bucket of feed in their direction, and led them straight back to the field. HUH???? All of our well-intentioned efforts had us running in circles, acting like fools, jeopardizing our own safety as well as that of the goats. In contrast, a skilled professional with the right information and tools was able to calm the melee in moments.
All that running around in the fresh country air cleared Mentor Mama’s brain and set her to thinking. . . . My approach to Internet Marketing is a lot like my approach to herding goats. When I discovered this industry, I threw on my shoes and raced (OK, OK. . . hobbled!) out to meet the challenge. I chased down pay-per-click, which darted past me, so I cornered sales funnels, which circled around behind me, to close in on SEO and article marketing, both of which hid in the shrubs, until I finally cornered social media and blogging.
What passed me by altogether, in this wild, albeit exciting, ”goat herding” of the Internet, is that there is a method in the madness. Internet marketing is a BUSINESS, just like herding goats is a BUSINESS! Before we scrambled in circles around the garden, it might have been prudent to formulate a plan and consult with a professional. . . or two.
Now, Mentor Mama knows that you have taken webinars and classes and you may have even formulated a solid marketing plan. The question remains, however, what have you done to lay the foundation for the business of running your business? Many of us think that the Internet is a vast ocean where traditional rules don’t apply. We dive headlong into the sparkling waters of Internet Marketing, without giving any consideration to steps we would have taken for a brick and mortar business!
Mentor Mama says, “You should know better!” It is easy to get caught up in this feel-good mentality, because internet marketing strategy and selling are the exciting, fun parts. But, running a business is much more than that. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if you have addressed the following issues.
1. Do I have a concrete business plan that has been carefully crafted for my current business?
2. Have I consulted with an attorney and an accountant to select a business entity? Did we discuss taxation as well as limiting liability?
3. Have I created a budget that takes into account the costs of running the business as well as the costs of continuing education?
4. Do I have a bookkeeping system that tracks income and expenses, regularly generates a profit and loss statement, and maintains a record of deductible expenses for taxation?
5. Have I checked out local licensing and permit laws? Do I need to file for a fictitious name?
6. Have I consulted an attorney on any of the following issues:
a. Federal Trade Commission Rules(FTC) for internet marketing.
b. Violations of copyright or trademark laws.
c. Filing for copyrights for intellectual property.
d. Filing for a trademark.
If you have no idea why Items a-d matter, then you are seriously out chasing the goats.
It’s OK! I am here to tell you that EVERYONE, even Mentor Mama, a lawyer for 25 years, has their goat chasing moments. Did you not read about my weekend activities? This is the first in an ongoing series of articles where I will address business issues in more detail and heighten your awareness about these critical matters.
Start following Mentor Mama on this blog, www.ishouldhavelistenedtomymother.com, as she chronicles her business adventures and gets all her “goats” in a row!