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Business Ideas

How to Make Your Living Doing What You Love

In the beginning, my hobby: Electronic Prozac

Back in the 90’s, boy, does that sound old for someone born in the middle of the 20th century because when I was coming up, something in the 90’s meant 19th Century so, yes, I just had an ‘Oh, wow” moment. Anyways back in the 90’s, the 1990s, that is, AOL, Prodigy, and my local BBS aka Bulletin Board System were my hobbies. Rushing home from work, I would fire up my lightspeed fast 2400 baud modem and I am cruising far away libraries, arguing with Windows fans over why IBM’s OS/2 Warp 3.0 was better than Windows and downloading electronic versions of research papers, and playing Tournament L.O.R.D.

It was a rush and it was intoxicating for many reasons not the least of which I was able for a while, to be someone else in a land or lands that was somewhere else. It was admittedly and consciously pain relieving escapism because I sorely hated my job and wanted opportunity walked in and slapped me down, hard. I was fired.

Bouncing back, I landed a job as an OS/2 trainer for IBM through one of their contracting companies. My job was to go out and train Value Added Resellers on the benefits of using and promoting OS/2 Warp. We did an excellent job, moving 5 times as many copies of Warp as IBM indicated would save, EXTEND our job contracts. IBM’s version of saving my job included moving my family to Dallas, Texas. No, but thanks anyway. They probably feel they kept their end of the bargain; I do not agree.

Starting My Own Business: What Was I Thinking: First Steps

In my estimation, if you are going to start your own business, there are some groundwork got to haves that need to be lain in stone. First, have no partners. I will leave that for you to think about as I know thousands of business partnerships succeed everyday. Let me just say, like the fellow in the movie The Italian Job who did not like dogs but would not elaborate, I had a bad experience.

Second, you have to read some basic primers on starting your own business. The Small Business Administration has tons of free resources and yes, much of it is not applicable, but much is. Besides, wading through all those resources with eyes wide open will trigger a lot of thinking you may not have done yet and that is never a bad thing. Take a week, a month, or even heckfire until Christmas and browse the business sections of your local bookstores. Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million are the ones local to me. Some of your more niche oriented bookstores may not be the way to go. Many are too narrowly focused on the personal interests of the proprietor which is perfectly fine, but you need material to stimulate your brain and these stores often are too narrow in their in house collections. Barnes and Nobel and Books-A-Million all carry vast selections based on repeat sales (presumably because the books are helpful and recommended by word of mouth.)

Third, write a business plan. Go ahead, write one out freehand, outlining all the things you want to do and how you think you will do them. Define what and how you will make money and how you will get paid. Then run it past your accountant. After he gets through shooting holes in your plan, THEN go and find some business plan software, read books on the subject, and go back again for another evaluation to see what holes still need to be plugged. Don’t get aggravated at your accountant, either. He or she does not understand your dream and that is perfectly jake. Their business is not to understand your dream, it is to understand where your business is as a business so they can help you get on track. I say do it freehand first because that is the only way I know to make sure your dreams are the ones instilled in the plan and not just those you soaked up from reading business plan template language that will overwhelm you in your current naive state.

On the issue of accountants, that brings us to the whole issue of advisors. You need them. You will, in my opinion, need an accountant, a banker, an attorney, and once you get going, a financial planner, hopefully of the certified kind holding either a CLU or designation, my preference being the latter since they seem to be more service rather than product oriented, but again that is my opinion based on my time owning my own business running an Internet Service Provider as well as having worked in the financial planning side of the life insurance business for …

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Business Ideas

Small Business Success – Don’t Let Your Big Customer Sink Your Business

A big, repeat customer for a new small business can be both a blessing and a curse. The positive side is more obvious-the business establishes an early recurring source of revenue. Since revenue is the lifeblood of any business, what could be wrong with that? Nothing, if you don’t stop there.
Any new small business owner will tell you that there is never enough time to do everything he or she knows they need to do to grow their business. In addition to fulfilling customer orders, there are personnel issues, the website and other marketing activities, and an unbelievable number of administrative tasks that must be done even if they don’t help to grow the business.
It seems perfectly logical to focus on just that one big customer when keeping up with that customer’s orders is taking all of your time. After all, you have too much work to do now. Why go out and look for new customers? Wouldn’t it be better to just take care of the business you have? The answer is ‘absolutely not.’ Don’t fall into that trap.
Of course you want to take care of your big customer. But you cannot stop there even for a short time. Doing so becomes a habit and a way of life for too many small business owners. Remember, if you only have one customer, no matter how big, you don’t have a business, you have a job. Eventually it will become clear that you have no leverage and no control even over the fate of your own company.
To drive this point home, imagine that your new business gets off to a great start. You land that big customer that everyone would want and you take care of them like no other. Your business grows, you’re hiring people, taking on more office space, profits are strong and you’re living the American dream. Then, after three years, they still account for 80% of your business and suddenly something changes. For any of a hundred reasons, you’re notified that your number one customer will be your customer no more.
Within 90 days, you lay off more than half your staff, take a pay cut and are negotiating with an unsympathetic landlord to take back some of the office space. As you sit in your office alone at night with your head in your hands, you say to yourself, ‘If only we had gone after other customers when we had the chance.’ This story and this pattern are far too common among small business owners. It leaves previously successful small business leaders feeling betrayed, humiliated and defeated.
Regardless of your success with any given customer, it is essential that you build a broad base of customers as if your business depends on it-because it does. To ensure that your team gets behind this goal include “number of new customers” as a metric in your incentive compensation or bonus plans. As the business owner, delegate less important tasks and stay involved in both the ‘big’ customer account and the effort to bring in new customers. If you’re just starting a business, be sure that in your business plan outline you demonstrate how you will pursue a broad customer base.
Be sure that your small business plan and operating plan make a commitment to developing a diversified base of customers. This is a winning long term strategy. In doing so, you’ll even out the ups and downs in revenue and profitability. This will serve you well if you ever seek a small business loan or line of credit. You’ll be creating a business with a higher valuation and one that delivers stability and peace of mind to its employees and owners. Make sure your small business plan includes a commitment to building a broad base of customers.…

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Business Letter

How To Focus On The Task At Hand With Your Online Home Business

When most people decide to take the plunge and go into business for themselves with an online home based enterprise they’re sometimes so excited about the prospect of working from home with no boss to hold them accountable that they fail to realize this responsibility, along with many others, now falls into their hands.
This is one of the main reasons why 95% of new home business start-ups fail and this should be one of the main reasons why we need to plan ahead and take this situation into account. Unfortunately some of us need someone to fill the role of the supervisor who knows how to get the most out of us when they need it most.
Sometimes we need someone on the job to motivate us, to chastise us, to redirect us when we lose sight of our goals and to congratulate us on a job well done. So when we’re on our own in our home office and we get a phone call from one of our friends inviting us to go out for a beer or we’re just wondering if we should take the afternoon off because it’s such a beautiful day who is going to crack the whip and get us focused on what we should be doing.
The answer of course is us and we have to understand how to do this before we entertain any notion of quitting our day jobs and going it alone. The question remains how do we stay focused and keep ourselves motivated on a daily basis when we’re working from home. This is where self discipline comes into play and in order to have any hope of succeeding online we need to find a way to keep ourselves in line so we stay focused on the task at hand.
One way to accomplish this is to try to eliminate as many distractions as possible from our work environment. Your home business office must be your sanctuary so you can concentrate on making the money you need to succeed. This means you have a business telephone in your work space with no one other than your business contacts having access to the number.
Also, television and radio seem to break our concentration when we need it most so it’s best to eliminate these distractions from your office. If something happens you must know about you have immediate access to the information you need at your finger tips via your computer.
Alert your family to the fact that things have changed at home and you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. There are to be no requests to run to the store for milk and bread and if anyone needs a drive somewhere they can call a friend. You’re at work during the designated hours and that’s how everyone in the family has to approach the situation.
If you’re tempted to take a day off and go to the beach just remind yourself why you’re working from home. Your reason “why” should provide instant motivation because if you fail with your home business you know what the alternative will be. If you’re lucky you’ll get your old job back with your old boss who’ll never let you forget that you tried to be your own boss and failed, so this alone should deter you from taking that unscheduled day off.
Self discipline is a tremendous technique for remaining focused on the task at hand and if you don’t have it you need to acquire it in order to have any hope of succeeding online with your home based business.…

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Business Checks

Effectiveness of the Business Plan Presentation

Client communication is of an utmost requirement for any business organization. This communication is achieved by conferences, meetings, multimedia presentations’,’ etc. Fine communication includes company introduction, its product showcase and services provided by it. All this should be carefully thought out and informative business plan presentation will be a good idea. A business plan presentation should be impressive and should deal with all the aspects of products and services provided by the company.
All the key features which make your services and products better to others can prove to be on an extra edge which should be included in business plan presentation. Multimedia presentations with features like video, graphics, voiceover, music, sound effects, captions, etc. are interactive and highly persuasive. Greater retention and interacting are what make presentations more appealing. Interactive corporate presentations are best when you can’t be with the customers, but you can effectively say your words with ease. A video presentation should have original design and ideas. These multimedia presentations can take place of old CBTs, and can be used in offline mode.
Professional help can make a lot of difference to the overall presentation. A good business plan presentation should include a mission statement which emphasizes the vision behind the particular business idea. Describe every aspect of business in detail. Long term and short term goals for a period of at least 3 years should be discussed. Targeted customers and why they would buy your product should be discussed. This will help you to work at your business strategy and various advertisement modules that are to be included in the marketing of business. Healthy competition is always good it’s an old saying keep your friends close and enemy closer so it’s vital to learn about your competition, their strength and weaknesses. Realistic financial analysis is essential having a monthly expense estimate. This will tell us about the requirement of loans. Most important and a key features in smooth running of business is marketing through advertisement via newspapers, websites, bullets and pamphlets.
The most important use is communication with your business partners, employees, and family members’ and consultants. Valuation of business is done by a business plan for tax purposes and growth. Loan application is filled only when a business plan is well versed with its objectives and vision in the future. Any legal or sale purposes are solved by the business plan.…

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Business Ideas

Home Business Reviews

What is the worst business that you have ever seen? The answer to that question will depend on how long you spend on the internet and the fundamental understanding that you have of how the market operates. The sad truth is that there are some pretty horrific businesses that have no business advertising their services. You might be laughing at someone else when in reality everyone else is laughing at your home business. How do I avoid being a fool in business? Well, the first thing is not to run after hair brained schemes. You will be amazed to learn that there are people who will click on a link that is quite clearly a scam.
This is the nature of some entrepreneurs. They do not learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. You cannot afford to be too stubborn in business. There comes a time when you have to accept the fact that your precious business is not all that it is cracked up to be. That is when you have to take some really tough decisions. It is better to cut your losses early than to support the sick man of Europe in the hope that they will get better. It will not get better.
Bad business ideas tend to become worse as time goes by. You will be hemorrhaging customers and money. The creditors will be demanding to sell your grandma and the wife will give you an unpleasant ultimatum. In such a situation the bad business model has to be shown the door. One interesting statistic is the fact that many small businesses fail within the first two years of their existence. The failure is not a problem as long as the entrepreneur learns something. They might learn that that idea is bad business or they might learn that they are not really entrepreneurs in the conventional sense.
What about the people who seem to get away with murder? Every entrepreneur has their own luck. The things that work for one situation will be totally inappropriate for another. You have to be prepared to make the difference between other success and your own success. It is easy to copy someone but it is much more difficult to copy their success. You have to rely on your own home business ideas to sustain you through the difficult patches that will inevitably come your way. It is also important that you have the ability to separate gems from rubbish.…

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Business Letter

New Business Development Strategies

While it is true that a few businesses can subsist without having a business plan in place, it’s likely that they are not doing as well as those who have a plan. Without proper direction and guidance, it’s nearly impossible to execute new business development strategies. Business plans provide the appropriate guidance and direction. Loan officers, partners and investors will be apprehensive in supporting your business unless the direction and vision for your company is clearly defined. We have developed an overview to provide guidance in order to assist you in establishing a business plan.
You will need to arrange funds from banks, venture capitalists and private investors. There are numerous new business development tactics for exactly this purpose: finding these investors, convincing them to join your venture and taking advantage of the financial backing you have received. Of course, this is all good information to be aware of, but each strategy assumes you have a sound business plan. There is no alternative method to persuade potential investors from climbing aboard unless they are clearly informed as to where this ship is headed and have the confidence and trust in you to steer the boat. Your business plan needs to convey your vision, provide in detail the talent and duties of your employees as well as yourself, and project your business’s growth and development.
A solid plan must prove to investors that your venture is going to be successful enough to equal the investment they originally made and then prosper enough so they are given an ample return on that investment. They will expect to see intelligent strategies in the new business development, so you must regard these elements as critical:
1. A cover letter of sorts: a straightforward overview of your business that emphasizes your plans and provides a summation of your principal idea.
2. Present the history of your business, as you most likely are not starting your venture from scratch. Even if it just summarizes the time spent in your garage tinkering or the experience and knowledge you acquired when employed for another individual.
3. Describe how the products and services you offer are going to defeat the competition. For extra persuasion, supply a full market analysis which summarizes potential customers, your competitors disposition, size of the market, and your estimation of growth.
4. Communicate the strategies for new business development that you intend to follow: how you plan to market, promote and sell the products, methods in which your plan will be enacted, and the targets you plan on reaching.
5. Lastly, provide information pertaining to financials, especially your projected profits, sales, and general cash flow. Finally, summarize all financially related information, including sales projections, cash flow and profits.
You are going to have a greater chance of being successful with a plan that is clear, fluent and rational and with a vision that is comprehensive. This overview should provide you a rough estimate on how to compose your plan, but note that it is without a doubt more detailed and complicated than just a blog posting can express. For additional assistance there are countless reference books and software, as well as consultants who concentrate on business plan development. It will take much focus and effort, but we are certain that even the best strategies for new business development will not succeed unless they are coupled with a solid and articulate business plan.…

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Business Line

The Importance of Social Media Tracking

It’s a well-known fact that being active on social networks can be advantageous to building your business and your customer relationships. Your marketing strategies should therefore include networking as a significant factor in marketing your brand. However I can’t put enough stress on the importance of Social Media Tracking because sooner or later you need to take a look at the return on your efforts. Participating is all very well but in the end it all comes down to revenue generation versus the cost to your business.

Here are a few tips to help you decide on the best strategies for your business.

Are you in the right place?

There is only a limited amount of time that can be made available for your online activities and hence it is vital that you don’t waste time that’s better spent elsewhere. Almost every business needs to be online but there is no need to be everywhere. You only need to be in the places that are right for you. Look at it this way, if you’re at a party where the guests are devout vegans then talking about your interest in the latest beef barbeque recipes would well and truly fall on deaf ears. So ask yourself these questions:

Is the site relevant?

There are numerous free sites that you can join but they are not necessarily all relevant to your business. For example, there is a plethora of free blogging sites but you only need one or two to promote your business. It’s much better for your business to have a strong presence on one or two relevant sites than to be one of many everywhere.

Can you beat the competition?

There are millions of businesses with an online presence and getting noticed can be difficult, particularly if you’re new to the game and are still trying to introduce your startup business ideas. A perfect example is YouTube. Yes millions of people do indeed watch the videos but will you be able to make your business stand out from the competition? Do some planning before you decide to jump in.

Is your time well spent?

Keeping track of the cost of your offline marketing activities is simple. One look at your bills will tell you exactly how much you’ve spent. What’s often overlooked however is the hidden cost of your online marketing activities. As the saying goes; time is money and what you need to measure is the cost of the time invested on your social media marketing versus the return on that investment.

Putting a price on your online activities.

You will need to make a budget allocation for the cost of your time invested in your online activities as much as you make a budget allocation for your actual marketing costs. A few simple steps can help with this.

Quantify your online time

Start by analysing the time spent on your various online activities over the past year and note them in order of your most profitable business ideas to the worst results achieved. Based on this analysis estimate the time that you are likely to spend on various activities in the next twelve months and allocate it to individual projects.

Cost your effort

Put a realistic hourly rate on your time. You can either vary this rate depending on the complexity of a task or use a base rate and vary the duration of a task. The latter tends to be the simplest approach.

Tracking your costs versus benefits

As I’ve said in the introduction; Participating in Social Media is all very well but in the end it all comes down to revenue generation versus the cost to your business.

Budgeting for a Social Media Presence

Divide the time allocated to each one of next year’s projects by task. A simple but effective time allocation principle is:

25% reading – keeping up to date by reading online material, including what’s being said about you and related or competing businesses.

50% communication – replying to comments on your blog, emailing, re-tweeting interesting articles, etc

25% creating content – writing blog posts, Facebook updates, creating videos, etc. Creating regular new content is vital to being found by the Search Engines.

Now apply your base rate to each task within a project.

Monitor your progress

Track your results for each activity e.g.

– use Google Analytics to check the performance of your blog

– calculate the conversion rate for your Facebook ads

– monitor the views of your YouTube videos

Check the ROI of time invested on your Social Media Strategies and make regular adjustments to your budget projections as needed.

I hope this article is of help to you. Do you use any form of Social Media Tracking to measure the results of your efforts? I’d love to get …