Define Your Target Market as an LGBT Entrepreneur

You can’t go far in business without customers. Make sure you know who yours are, and what they want. Use these tips to help learn more about your target market.

What does it mean to define a target market?

From the moment you came up with your business idea, you probably had a specific customer in mind. When you tweak your service or product, you do it with them in mind. When you write your promos, you highlight the features that will interest them most – and use language that they get.

This is a great way to think. It gives focus to everything you do. But you’re probably making a lot of assumptions about what your target customers really want, and how much they want it. When you define your target market, you’re doing a little research to make sure you’re not misleading yourself about who’s going to spend money with you.

When to do it

It’s a good idea to define your target market before launching your business. The exercise will help you test a lot of assumptions before you sink too much money into the wrong things. It’s a lot less expensive to change direction at this early stage.

But even if you’ve been in business for years, it’s helpful to keep defining your target market to stay in touch with who your customers are.

What will you know at the end?

Defining a target market can give you three important pieces of information.

1. Is there a market? 

Dig around and see if there’s enough demand to sustain your business. Are people (or businesses) buying your category of product? What portion of that market is gettable for you?

2. Who’s in the market?

Once you’ve confirmed there are customers out there, start to get more focused. Who are those people?

What’s their age? Do they have certain types of jobs? Where are they most likely to work or live? Do they have common interests? Are they more likely to be men or women? Do they have a lot of money, or are they on a budget? These are the demographics of your target customer.

Start by going after a specific cross-section of the market. That way you can get to know your target customers even better.

3. How do they think?

Once you’ve identified who your target customers are, you can start to find out what makes them tick.

What do they care about? Use this information to promote the product benefits that are most relevant to them. Where and how do they shop? Try to get your products into those places (and make sure you’re online if that’s how they like to buy). Where do they get information? Run your ads, promos and PR in these places. Who do they take advice from? See if you can enlist those key opinion leaders to give you some profile.

Where to get information about your target market

The internet is a good place to start looking for demographic data. Search for statistics on your target customers. You should be able to find credible research that’s been done by governments, trade and industry groups, universities, marketing institutions or even other companies who serve that same market (check out their annual reports).

Once you’ve got some of this basic information, go talk to your target customers. Nothing beats getting their input, either one-on-one, through focus groups, or by sending surveys.

Example of targeted marketing

Let’s assume you have a video production company offering engagement, wedding, and new baby videos. On a really basic level, your potential customers are all couples who are engaged and/or pregnant. Resist the temptation to stop there. You don’t have a big enough budget to market to them all.

Try targeting a subgroup like unmarried double-income couples, aged 25 to 35, who live within two hours of your studio. They should have money to spend on recording upcoming life events, and they’re nearby so you can easily meet with them.

This is also a group you can get to know. Find out what local 25-35 year olds care about. Where do they shop? Where do they get their information? Who do they take a lead from? Maybe there’s an Instagram account they follow closely – so see if you can get a credited photo posted there, for example.

Defining your target market is just the start

You don’t need to get too carried away with this type of research in the startup phase of your business. You’re just aiming to confirm there’s a market there, and to learn a little about who they are. It’ll slow you down if you do a heap of research now.

As you get underway, however, you’ll want to keep learning more about your target customers. The more you know them, the better you can serve them – and the smarter (and more cost-effective) your marketing can be.

Learn more about how to do market research.

OutBuro where you belong lgbtq entrprenuers out gay business owers lesbian startups queer professionals employer ratings customer reviews bisexual transgender equality community 1

10 Tips: Email Marketing for LGBT Businesses

Email marketing is often a great way for a business to get high returns. We gathered ten tips for successful email marketing.

Keep your content interesting and fresh, and always relevant. You will build an engaged audience of loyal customers that way.

The top 10 must-have tips for email marketing

Part I of this guide focused on small business marketing on a budget and the tools to do this. There are many different ways of marketing to your customers, ranging from direct mail to telephone calls, online banners to radio ads, Facebook to Twitter. But businesses often see high returns from email marketing.

People regularly check their email and spend a lot of time in front of it. Sending email is cheap, too, but how do you get your message across effectively?

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, business will be much more fun. Connect with other LGBT entrepreneurs, startups, business leaders and professionals here on OutBüro – the LGBT business, entrepreneur, and professional global community.

 

  1. Build relationships with your readers
    Not all of your readers are the same. Some may be lifelong customers, while others will be new to your business, so segmenting your email lists is very important. Have a goal in mind when you send an email, whether it’s attracting new customers to your store, driving traffic to your website or simply raising awareness. That goal should dictate how you craft your message. Take your time to think this through, so your customers feel connected to you.
  2. Start small
    Don’t send your first email newsletter to your entire mailing list. Start small, with perhaps a few dozen or a few hundred recipients. Then watch the response. If it’s good, send it to more people. If it’s not, tweak and test out a new version.
  3. Make it easy to opt-in and opt-out
    Email marketing is permission-based. That means customers have indicated (through a sign-up form on a website or a number of other ways) that they want to receive emails from you. But they might change their mind. As important as it as to make it easy for people to receive your emails, you must also make it easy for them to opt-out or unsubscribe. Be sure to follow their wishes, or risk being labeled a spammer.
  4. Personalize your emails
    If half your customers are middle-aged women then there’s no point sending them emails offering cheap soccer cleats. Or is there? If their children play sports at school, they could be just the customers you’re looking for. This is why business information is so important. Never make assumptions. Use the data to find out what you need to know, then send the right offers to the right customers.
  5. Use good content to keep your readers engaged
    Think of the recipients of your emails as more than customers. Think of them as readers too. Give them a narrative, a story about the products you’re selling. Help them to engage with your products, to find a way to weave them into their own lives. Your emails should not just be used as a sales vehicle but also as an opportunity to foster relationships. Be sure to include helpful hints and best practices that will bring value to your readers. Keep your content interesting and fresh, and always relevant. You will build an engaged audience of loyal customers this way.
  6. Strike a balance with the length
    It’s important to find the sweet spot in terms of the length of your emails. You need to figure out what’s going to be most effective for the majority of people on your list. Keep in mind that a lot of emails are read on mobile devices, so you’re working with less real estate. On the other hand, an email can be too short. If there isn’t sufficient content to grab your readers’ interest, they’ll move on to the next email. It’s all about testing out different options to find a balance that works for you and your readers.
  7. Get the tone right
    There’s a fine line between marketing emails that add value and are welcomed by the recipient, and ‘spam’ or junk mail which will be deleted immediately. Don’t go over the top with exclamation marks and wild claims. Try to use a friendly, authoritative but not arrogant tone. Your goal is to get the customer on your side and keep them there.
  8. Offer something of value
    There’s nothing wrong with simply listing your products and their prices. That’s useful information for people who are already looking to buy. But you can go further, to convert those who are undecided. Offer discounts for people ordering in response to your email. Two-for-one deals, discounts on multiple purchases, free shipping for orders over a certain value – there are plenty of ways to add value and get your customers to spend more.
  9. Track email responses
    With the right software, email marketing lets you track the response of your campaigns, by embedding unique links into each message. Some of the response metrics might include:
    • Who opened your email.
    • Which links in the email were clicked.
    • Who forwarded your email to others.
    • Who shared your email on social media.
    • Which emails led to sales, online reviews, event registrations and other destinations.

    This will provide insight into the type of information your audience is most interested in, and will give you a benchmark to improve upon every time you hit ‘Send’.

  10. Don’t spam!
    Sending out email ‘blasts’ of generic, over-the-top sales text is a waste of time – for you and for your customers. You’ll lose existing subscribers faster than you can sign up new ones. Effective email marketing takes time, thought, and consideration. You must be focused on building relationships.

Email communication is a good way to hone your marketing skills. Once you’ve mastered it, you can move on to other outlets, such as social media and mobile marketing. Although the platforms might be different, many of the skills and tactics required are the same.

Understand what your customers want

The two main goals of marketing are to get repeat business and to win new customers. Even small businesses can do this successfully, with the right attitude and the right software. The key is to understand what your customers want, and then tell them that you can provide it.

Once you get used to analyzing and using business information for marketing purposes, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. “Insight” is the right word for this business knowledge, because without it you are blind to the behavior and needs of your customers.

The best combination of cloud software and marketing strategy will give you hyper-targeted marketing campaigns that hit your customers at the right time, in the right place and with the right information or offer. Marketing for your small business has never been more effective.

 

Want to be an LGBT Entrepreneur? How to find the best business ideas

Some of the best business ideas are crazy. Others are plain boring. There aren’t any magic rules for finding the good ones. Your best shot at picking the right idea is to make sure it’s a good fit for your personality and your skills.

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, the business will be much more fun.

About the idea

Maybe you already have a lot of business ideas but you can’t pick one. Or perhaps you want to start brainstorming. There are just two things to remember about business ideas.

They’re allowed to be crazy

  • Amazon started selling books online when everyone was perfectly happy going to the store, and keeping their credit card details off the internet.
  • Airbnb invited users to let their homes to complete strangers – people they might never meet.

They’re allowed to be mundane

  • You might take an existing product or service and do your own version of it at a lower price, or in a different location, or with some other minor tweak.
  • Or you might find a weird little niche that no one else has explored yet. Throx did that. They sell socks in threes so people don’t need to worry about losing one in the laundry.

Tips for landing on the best business ideas

As you come up with ideas, you need a way to pick the good ones. It’s an important choice because your next step is to invest time, energy and possibly cash exploring that idea. These three tests will help you decide on the best ones for you.

  1. Find ideas you’re passionate about
    Does the idea excite you? If you’re wildly passionate about your business then you’ll have much more energy and focus.
  2. Choose a business idea that fits with your skills
    Do you have years of experience, qualifications, contacts, or special talent to use to your advantage? The more you do, the greater your chances of success and the less you have to pay someone else.
  3. Make sure you can make money from your idea
    You’ll need a plan for turning your idea into revenue. Some ideas can be monetized in many different ways.

Find a small business idea you’re passionate about

Examine the ideas circling your mind. Do a few stand out as something you’d really like to try? Bring those to the top of your list. If you’re only just starting to brainstorm small business ideas, then focus first on areas where you have a passion.

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, business will be much more fun. You’ll also find it easier to get up early, work late, and battle through obstacles. Plus your mind is better at absorbing information that genuinely interests you, which could help you learn faster.

Choose an idea that fits with your skills

It’s much easier to get a business off the ground if you can do a lot of the early work yourself. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a lot of professionals, and that’s going to get expensive.

Idea for an app? You should be able to develop a minimum viable product on your own. Want to open a hospitality business? You should know a thing or two about the service industry.

You don’t have to be a total expert before you start. It’s okay to learn on the job. But when you look at all the steps required to start your business, make sure you can take responsibility for a good chunk of them yourself.

How to make money from your small business idea

Once you’ve chosen your best business ideas, you need to figure out how to turn them into cash. That’s what a business model is for. It’s your plan for making money.

Business models are many and varied. Some types of businesses make money by selling goods to consumers (retail), others by selling goods to shops (wholesale), and others by leasing goods. Some businesses make money by charging clients an hourly fee for a service, while others charge a flat fee. These are just basic examples of business models. There are all sorts of creative variations.

Business models generally fall into broad categories like retail, manufacturing, software-as-a-service, professional services, and so on. Many categories have general rules about:

  • what customers are charged for
  • average markups on products or services
  • reasonable operating costs

Mixing business models

Your small business idea might lock you into a particular business model. If you open a shop, you’re going to operate pretty much the way other retailers do. But your business might allow you to mix up a bunch of business models.

If you’ve invented a product, for example, you might manufacture it, supply it to retailers, and sell it directly to customers through your own store. Try to investigate the business models that apply to you. An accountant familiar with your type of industry can give you great insights.

Remember that you’re just choosing between business ideas at this stage. You don’t need a full financial plan yet. But make sure you ask yourself:

  • can I really make money from this idea?
  • do I need special expertise (such as wholesale experience) to make the business work?

Once you’ve picked an idea to explore further, you should get a financial advisor to help work out the business model in more detail.

The best business idea is the one that fits you

When deciding on a business idea to pursue, make sure:

  • you’re genuinely excited by it, because you’ll spend a lot of time on it
  • you can carry it out (while doing a lot of the work yourself)
  • you have a plan for monetizing it

Once you’re satisfied you can pour energy and skill into it, and you can see a financial return for those efforts, you’re ready to move to the next step. Start thinking about how to start a small business.

 

OutBuro where you belong lgbtq entrprenuers out gay business owers lesbian startups queer professionals employer ratings customer reviews bisexual transgender equality community 1

Turning Your Hobby into a LGBT Owned Business

Ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a business? It can be a rewarding way to make a living.

Want to monetize your hobby and become an LGBT entrepreneur?

Are you an artist, artisan, crafter, treasure hunter, up-cycler, baker, farmer or the many many other hobbies that find or produce stuff?  Is your storage area starting to overtake the garage and house?  Have you considered selling at local weekend markets?  Maybe it’s time to think a little larger and reach a global audience.  Maybe it’s time to turn your passion into a business.

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, business will be much more fun. Connect with other LGBT entrepreneurs, startups, business leaders and professionals here on OutBüro – the LGBT business, entrepreneur, and professional global community.

 

You may consider local and regional farmer’s markets and rent a booth.  This typically is renting the space and often comes with power (but check to be sure).  If there are no such local markets, there is yet another business idea for you.  Start one.  These markets provide a fairly low cost to participate and have a limited schedule often being once a month to once a week.  Find one that fits your schedule.  Attend a couple times to get a feel for the other vendors and the crowd it draws.  Approach local stores, shops, cafes, salons, and others to inquire if your product might be a fit for their location and customers.  Shopping local is a huge trend so be part of it.

Local is a great start, but why stop there?  With the continued growth of online shopping and affordable e-commerce platforms, many of the traditional barriers to launching a small business are gone. You can likely start or grow your own business and sales nationally and globally all from the comforts of your home office.

 

When turning your passion into a business here are some things to consider:

1. Be prepared to lose some love

Once you turn your passion into a business, you’ll never feel the same way about your hobby again. The idealism of doing what you love for a living will crash head-on with the reality of:

  • tracking sales and cash flow
  • hitting targets
  • managing inventory
  • watching competitors
  • filing taxes
  • finding the right staff as you grow

You are in control of your business.  For some, the business side becomes a little overwhelming and begins to take personal fulfillment out of the once hobby.  Luckily, you get to choose how much you grow as a business by the actions you take.  It is absolutely 100% OK to keep it very small just as it’s 100% to go as big as you can.  It’s your business and you decide what’s right for you.

2. Balancing creativity and commercialism

When you create something for personal fulfillment, you can make it however you like. But when that creation becomes a service or product, you often have to work within boundaries. Maybe you make the world’s most awesome blueberry muffins, but will you be happy making over and over again exactly the same each time?

You have to ask: OutBuro - LGBT Entrepreneurs and Professionals Gay Lesbian Male Female Business Owner Small business information resources community empoyees job postings Metal Dog Yard Scupture

  • how long does it take to make?
  • what does it cost to produce?
  • how much do I need to sell it for?
  • how much will it cost to ship?

It’s a very different approach to creativity. You should also remember that the thing you want to make might not be the exact same thing your customer wants to buy. Be practical about it. Changing your offering to meet market demand is not selling out, Emma says, it’s the reality of running a business.

I’m sure you’ve seen the metal garden figures of dogs and cats.  They are made of raw metal and often incorporate gears and springs.  They are super cute and there is an assortment of styles.  That started with a metal works artists who wanted to turn a hobby into a product that was enticing to the consumer and at affordable prices.  If you’re moderately successful, be ready for copycats too wanting to jump in on your success.

If you’re going to turn your passion into a business, be prepared for compromise.

3. Listening to feedback is vital and sometimes brutal

You’re enthusiastic about your hobby and the business idea that flows from it. That’s awesome. It means you’ll have a lot of energy to pour into your new venture. But don’t assume your market will be as excited by your product or service as you are. When you turn your passion into a business, it can be difficult to keep perspective.

Try testing ideas with your market to find out what works and what doesn’t.  Get as much nonbiased feedback as possible.  While you may get some constructive criticism, don’t take it all to heart.  Remember that you cannot please everyone, but still take it seriously because if similar comments keep popping up you might need to take a hard review and be open to change.  Keep your cool and always be thankful for the feedback, even if it’s not delivered in the kindest manner.  Some people are harshly honest.  Don’t get your feeling hurt.  Learn, adapt if needed and grow from it.

4. Building your brand with free content

If you want to start your business online, a great way to attract customers is to offer content on the topic.  Just be prepared to invest the time to research and build the content.  Add value to your customer’s experience.

For example, if you offer local honey, you might consider content about bees, their lives, their process and maybe video content of the process for starters.  If you can get a bee to wear a helmet with a live camera that would be awesome. You might consider information on Honey Cookoffs, ways to use honey holistically and recipes.

What kind of content might you be able to accumulate, regurgitate into your own voice and offer in your niche that connects you with your audience?

 

5. A pragmatic approach to social media

You don’t have to be active on every social media platform. Find out where your audience spends their time and focus there. It sounds obvious but this simple piece of research can save hundreds of hours of lost effort.

With an audience that’s really visual and predominantly women Pinterest and Instagram may currently be the most relevant social media for your business.  You may still want a Facebook presence, but you might find other social media channels to garner you more attention.

6. What you should think about when hiring staff

As you grow, you will need to expand the workforce.  That’s a huge deal. Suddenly, you are responsible for other people’s livelihoods – not just your own. The decision about when and who to hire was driven by three factors.

Check out the short article on Hiring your First Employee.

7. Separate your personal and professional goals

When you turn your hobby into a business, it’s easy to lose track of time. Both the passion and the business soak up a lot of energy – making it hard to get your work-life balance right.

It’s important to remember your personal goals. If you want to travel, start a family, or just spend less time working – try to plan accordingly:

  • Hire people who can take work off your plate.
  • Give up control and delegate tasks to your staff.
  • Don’t feel obliged to pursue every business opportunity – turn some down.

Turn your passion into a business

Turning your passion into a business is an exciting prospect. Just be prepared to have a different relationship with your hobby when things get going. It’s also important to:

  • test and refine your idea with your target market
  • prepare for compromise – you may need to tweak your vision
  • prepare for a long haul

It’s probably wise to hold onto your day job while you find your feet. Once you’ve put in the time, however, the rewards can be great. You could earn money doing what you love.

 
OutBuro where you belong lgbtq entrprenuers out gay business owers lesbian startups queer professionals employer ratings customer reviews bisexual transgender equality community 1

LGBT Entrepreneurs Hiring Your First Employee

At a startup business hiring the first employee(s) could be a rather stressful encounter. Proceeding with care a fantastic idea. Congratulations on getting to this degree that extra help is necessary. As the LGBT entrepreneur who has launched and built the business up to now on a great deal of sweat equity together with probably tears and utter dedication, to cover the income of another individual to do everything you’ve been doing could be a frightening thought.

Things the LGBT Entrepreneur should ask while hiring first employees

The very first question is, can the business afford to bring extra staff along with considering all the factors? Committing to wages and benefits is pricey any way you slice it.  Rarely can an LGBT startup manage to have even one staff person who is not functioning at full capability.  Firing a worker may mean not just severance pay but there might be litigation. What’s more, the price of the downtime, locating a replacement, and attracting the new individual along with ramping them up would be added expenses and drain any company but particularly a small startup.

The second questions LGBT entrepreneurs typically encounter when hiring your first employees are where and how to when locating excellent candidates. The following is a rundown of some basics.

What jobs/tasks to fill/delegate first will be different for every company, based on business, location, and also the abilities of the LGBT business owners.  LGBT entrepreneurs have to boil their staffing searches down to a handful of quality people who connect with the company’s mission. Frequently the early hires both include people with the ability to do many tasks across the business and be willing to be trained to perform more job junctions they may not have been hired to do. High-level executives are not usually hired before the business has experienced some substantial growth.  You typically do not require a vice president of sales or marketing before there is a customer load to warrant it. In smaller local companies like Pet Grooming, it might be just one or two individuals in the business.  Expanding in this sort of business may be adding part-time team members for customer pet pick-ups and drop-off. Be smart and strategic when hiring.

 

LGBT Entrepreneur Startup Factors

As a business founded by an LGBT person(s) hiring with a sensitivity to the built-in diversity is important.  The founder’s sexuality should not be an issue, yet in a small growing company personality fit is a key component.  Hiring persons and making it very clear up front that diversity is valued including sexual orientation and validating that there is no apparent conflict is important for both you and the new employee.

Consider Freelance Contractors for your LGBT Owned Business

Ask yourself, “Do I really need to hire someone?”  Today so many services can be outsourced or accomplished by freelance contractors. Some work that may be able to be outsourced could include manufacturing, financial/CPA work, technical support, website design, traditional marketing, graphic design, social media marketing, sales, and public relations — even administrative assistants can be hired on a “virtual” basis now online.

Deciding what activities to farm out versus hiring an LGBT friendly employee may come down to deciding if the work activity is centered on your core business strength and how much time is dedicated to the tasks on a regular basis.  There may be other LGBT businesses or community friendly vendors that have more resources, skills, and experience than a single individual you may be able to afford to hire.

LGBT Small Company Benefits

When hiring your first staff, LGBT entrepreneur business owners often do best with flexible job seekers who are familiar working in small companies. Typically, the best candidate can perform their job with a lot of independence and doesn’t need a lot of hand-holding.

You might want to consider hiring someone with a large-business background, but they are all too often not an ideal match. In a large business, the daily work process is very different than in a small company.  Small companies require each person to do a bit of everything.

On the plus side, an LGBT small business is usually less bureaucratic and so staff typically have a larger array of projects and tasks their jobs than large companies where jobs tend to be siloed. Also, LGBT small business owners typically have a closer relationship with each employee creating a family-like atmosphere.  For the prospective employee, landing a job in a small and growing LGBT owned business offers the new employee the possibility for accelerated professional growth as well as being a part of making that growth take place.

Hunting for a Great LGBT Business Employee Match

An LGBT entrepreneur’s best source for hiring your first LGBT friendly employee typically starts with professional networking. Don’t be shy about asking for referrals from your friends and industry colleagues.  Also let your professional contacts know such as your accountant, lawyer, board members, and members of any organizations (professional and non-profession) you belong to. Since these trusted people will only recommend someone they know, they have accomplished some of your new hire screening for you. LGBT start-ups typically find their first several candidates levering their personal and professional network this way.

You also enlarge your networking reach with each new employee hire.  Candidates through current employees receive an insider trusted perspective of you and your business.  Typically current staff will only suggest someone he or she believes will be a great fit for skills and culture.  Providing employee referrals bonus program is a fairly inexpensive way to incentivize current employees to offer up great candidates.

No matter how professionally networked you and your staff are this approach will eventually reach it’s maximum ability to continue to deliver the best candidates.  Therefore, you also need to consider niche online job portals such as the OutBüro LGBT Job Portal. Large job boards like ZipRecruiter.com, have advantages yet they can often drown you in a see of low quality resumes.  In a small LGBT business time is money and sorting through a large volume of candidates is costly and exhausting.  Smaller niche sites like the OutBüro LGBT Job Portal can narrow your interested applicants to LGBT friendly quality candidates.

It’s important to be active in professional groups such as the OutBüro LGBT community groups and the OutBüro LinkedIn LGBT Professional networking group.   Keep watch on popular blogs and industry websites for great talent seeking a change.

Employment agencies and headhunters can help you find employees from entry-level to executive. Recruiters do all your legwork — for a fee, of course — and are particularly useful if you are hiring a top-level executive.

OutBuro where you belong lgbtq entrprenuers out gay business owers lesbian startups queer professionals employer ratings customer reviews bisexual transgender equality community 1