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Website Profit Starts with Solid Business Plan

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Website profit require a thoughtful business plan — even something as simple as one or two pages — and consistently sticking with it. In some ways, planning is more important than revenue itself.

Classical management planning often includes eight major sections: vision, mission, values, strategies, goals, objectives, tactics and actions.

Large businesses emphasize many of these elements in an annual budget process. But building a complex and profitable website — or even a small one — requires focusing on important parts of the plan throughout the entire year.

Otherwise, a site will eventually run into slower growth because the publisher will lack focus or act too slowly in changing priorities. And in a constantly changing online environment, it is critical for publishers to stay nimble and act quickly.

Some online managers at large companies prepare budget presentations with dozens or even hundreds of slides and documents to communicate their plan to executives. They know the frustration of making the presentation and then having the plan forgotton by upper management in the mad growth pace of Internet businesses.

Inexperienced managers who lose sight of their own business plans may end up missing budgets. They also may end up unemployed.

Keeping Profit Plan Simple

Large companies with large websites often have to create lengthy and complicated website profit plans. Small businesses with small websites can keep it simple.

Managers of smaller sites can edit a plan down to one or two pages and keep it readily available on a computer desktop. They can:

  1. Add parts of it to weekly staff meeting agendas.
  2. Set up targets in reports (audience goals are especially overlooked during the year).
  3. Build reminders in Outlook or other calendars to review the plan, especially the goals and objectives.

Keeping it simple also means focusing on key metrics. Track the three most important numbers — audience, revenue and website profit — against budget on a monthly basis. Weekly is even better. Distribute the results regularly to staff and management. Shift time and attention over to the goal with a shortfall if one starts to show up.

The ability of site managers to track several major goals and stay on top of them regularly will result in a better-managed online business with stronger results in the long run.

Adapting to New Conditions

Although sticking to a plan is important, especially the major goals and objectives, flexibility also is important. That’s why sometimes a length and complicated plan turns out to be largely a waste of time. The environment changes fast, so plans also end up changing fast.

New products come and old ones go. So do competitors, technology and other factors that influence the performance of a website.

One of the biggest factors of all is the changing nature of major search engines. it is especially true for Google, which is the largest source of traffic for many sites. It benefits publishers to keep a close eye on these changes.

So keeping a focus on profit, revenue and audience goals is critical to the long-term success of a website business. But the details can and do often change.

An effective website profit plan stays largely true to the important goals while changing with the ebb and flow of the industry. Standing still and refusing to adapt because of what used to work is a sure path to failure as a business.

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