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January 19, 2010

Business Planning: Your 17-Point New Year’s Business Inventory and Cleanup

A new year always brings New Year’s resolutions, as well as the urge to purge things from your life and business and begin anew. I caught the decluttering bug between Christmas and New Year’s Day this year and removed from my office many boxes of physical materials that had served me well once upon a time but I had now “outgrown.”

The physical act of removing clutter from my workspace left me free to focus on what remained. Much of what’s left is not physical, however. Like me, many online business owners have more electronic items in their business than physical ones. This is the point where many independent service professionals get stuck — trying to organize and take inventory of all those electronic assets and determine how to best utilize them in the coming year.

How can you track these electronic pieces of your business? By taking an inventory. You can take this inventory on paper, on a white board, on your computer, or wherever works for you.

Here are 17 points to include in your online business inventory:

  1. Target Market. Describe the market(s) you serve and how you serve it/them. This will help you streamline other assets you find in your business to help you evaluate whether certain projects are right for your business.
  2. Domains and hosting. Track down all the domains you own and where they are registered and where they are hosted. Note which domains are attached to web sites or are in use some way (even those that are forwarded to other sites). Which ones are not being used at all? What fees are you paying annually to renew these domains and hosting accounts?
  3. Web sites. List all the web sites that you are currently using, including where they are hosted, the username and password to access the hosting control panel, FTP information, and emails associated with the site. Note how much traffic each web site has received over the past few months and estimate how much revenue the site is producing. Then, make a second list of all the web sites you own that are currently under development or are currently working on.
  4. Blogs. List all the blogs you use, separating those that are inactive from the ones that are active. Note where they are hosted or the service hosting them, the username and password to access the hosting control panel, and login information. Note how much traffic each blog has received over the past few months, the number of subscribers you have to the blog, and estimate how much revenue the blog is producing, if you can.
  5. Email marketing. List every mailing list, including your newsletters, autoresponders, customer lists, affiliate lists, prospect lists, etc. Note the purpose of the list, number of subscribers for each, and estimate how much revenue that list is producing.
  6. Products. If you sell information products, make a note of both those that have been completed and are for sale and those in development. Also note any products that you give away for bonuses or give away on your site. If you sell physical products for which you keep an inventory, write them all down. Record how many you’ve sold of each product in the past year.
  7. Paid Memberships. Inventory all the paid memberships you have in paid forums, PLR sites, professional associations, membership sites, and other memberships you pay for that are directly related to your business, along with their URLs, usernames and passwords. Take note of how much you pay for this membership and how often and how you use it.
  8. Free Memberships. Note all the free memberships you have in various groups, forums, social networks, etc. Outline why these memberships are valuable to you and how much time you spend on each of them on a daily/weekly basis.
  9. Software. Record all the software you have on your computer that is related to your business, including license/registration info, purchase price, and date purchased. Make a note of how frequently you use this software.
  10. Outsourcing Team. Write down who works with you, what they do, how much you pay them per hour or per job, and their average monthly payment.
  11. Affiliate links. Regularly recommending products and services for which you are an affiliate is a great way to add another stream of income in your business. Make a list of the products and services for which you are an affiliate, including your affiliate URL, affiliate account URL and username and password, and how much you have made in sales from each affiliate relationship.
  12. Master password list. Incorporate all the passwords you have collected thus far into a master list, along with others you use regularly.
  13. Speaking topics. Note the title, description, learning points, and interview questions of talks that you give regularly both face-to-face or virtually as a presentation or an interview.
  14. Articles. Note the titles of all of the articles you have authored, along with a summary description of each. If you use an article distribution service, you may find your article index there. Move all of your articles under one folder on your computer so that you can easily access them in the future.
  15. Recordings. Note the titles of all of the audio and video recordings you have made, including those where you were someone else’s guest, along with a summary description of each. Write down how the recordings are being used — for sale as an info product, as a bonus for one of your products or someone else’s product, or as a free giveaway.
  16. Services. Note the nature of all services you currently provide, and those you plan to offer in the coming year, as well as your current pricing plans, future pricing plans, and how much money you made from each service in the past year.
  17. Clean it up. Now it’s time for serious evaluation and to make some difficult choices. Remember, these will be some of the most important business decisions you’ll make to help you refocus for a highly productive and profitable business. There are just two rules to follow here: — If it doesn’t fit in with your chosen target market and business plan – GET RID OF IT! — If you still decide to hang on to it anyway, but it weighs on you in any way – GET RID OF IT!

This business inventory and cleanup may take a week or more, but once it’s completed, you’ll have a visual accounting of all of your business assets, which will help you plan for a profitable year in your business.

Internet Marketing Automation Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals create prosperous online businesses that make more profit in less time. Would you like to create a business inventory for your business? Discover how to set up your business to run without you at