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Business Is Running, Now What?

Established giant corporations are the envy of many. They are run with efficiency we cannot even begin to imagine. Some have huge staffs comprised of all sorts of specialists who attend to the smallest issues to insulate both the owners and the management from what is seen as small matters. As a small business owner, you wear many hats and because of the early complexities of going solo, you are trying your hand at every facet of your operation, even in the areas where you are not necessarily competent. With few exceptions, the other parts of your operation are run on a need basis and as a result some things do not get the attention they deserve which in turn makes you feel as if you were playing catch up.
It is well accepted that success in business favors the swift – the ones able to create the most value much faster than the competition. As such, ambition, energy, industry, and perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in any business. So far as I can tell, very few people achieve success in business accidentally. Those who do pursue a very deliberate plan, sometimes measurable, sometimes not. Therefore, in order to achieve success in business, it is first necessary to come to terms with your own definition of success. To avoid feeling as if you are going in circles, it is critical to identify those things in which you excel and apply yourself there while carefully, you delegate the other duties to persons best qualify to deliver.
Business success is a matter of application. It’s a matter of experience and skill and intelligence, and wonderfully enough, you can learn what you need to know to be successful. You must be willing to reinvent yourself now that you have chosen the solo route. In her book, the Power of Many, Meg Ryan of eBay fame says: “To run a successful organization in the Internet Age requires constant reinvention”.
Fear not, make a decision and please do not waste time over analyzing your decision as time is of essence; however, be firm in your decision-making process. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of Sony once said: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following others”. A marathon is won by hitting short consistent strides for the long haul. Celebrate small victories today and you will look like a genius tomorrow.…

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The Start Up Costs of Opening a Craft Store

Some craftspersons open retail stores to sell their work direct to the public. They may carry a selection of their own pieces or craftwork from several craft artists to help fill the shelves and displays. If you have thought of opening a craft store, this article will help you understand the costs involved and perhaps help you save some money.
The monthly expenses of your new store include (but are not limited to):
Business license. Most counties require that every business have a license. The fee varies but expect to pay around $100 a year. If you plan on opening a checking account for your business, most banks require the business license before opening a business account.
Signs. The cost of your signage will depend on the size of your store and local sign restrictions. Some tourist areas have limitations on how high or large a business sign can be.
Rental or lease deposits, first and last month rental payments at commercial rates. Renting a commercial retail space will not be cheap. Expect to pay at least $1,000 a month in low traffic areas and much much more in popular locations. When calculating your expenses, don’t forget to account for first and last month rental fees which are typically due up front.
Insurance against fire, theft and other loss. Full coverage insurance for your retail store may run you anywhere from $50 to $200 a month.
Telephone at business rates. A business phone listing gets you in the Yellow Pages. Business phone rates average around $60 to $70 a month.
Utilities. Some retail spaces may include your utilities in your rental fee. However, even if they aren’t, figure an electric and water bill of around $25 to $50 a month.
Advertising. There are many ways to get the word out about your store without spending a fortune. Do an online search for “guerrilla marketing examples” to learn ways to market your business with free and low-cost methods.
Merchant account for processing credit cards. Having the ability to accept credit cards can boost your sales by at least 40 percent; even more so in tourist areas where travelers use their credit cards instead of cash. A merchant account can run you anywhere from $30 to $75 a month, plus around 3.5 percent of every sale.
Employees. If you will need employees, count on paying the government 30 percent of what you pay per hour. If you hire someone at $9 per hour, you’ll pay another $3 an hour in social security and workman’s compensation.
Inventory. If you intend to open a gallery of handcrafted work, get your inventory on consignment. Consignment means that the artist retains ownership of their items but you display them in your store and only pay for the items after they sell. Consignment costs you nothing except the bookkeeping and many craftspeople prefer to get their work in the stores rather than have it sitting at home in a box.
Fixtures. New fixtures are expensive. Shop around before you buy. Sometimes you can find retail stores going out of business who are forced to sell everything for whatever they can get. Budget a couple of thousand dollars or more depending on the size of your display areas.
Office equipment and supplies. To handle transactions, you will need a cash register or personal computer set up to handle over the counter sales. Figure $1,000 and up depending on how many registers you will have. You can save some money here by having a cash drawer built into your sales counter and keep track of sales with a receipt book.
Promotional materials. You’ll need business cards, brochures, price sheets and hang tags; count on a few hundred dollars for all of these.
Travel and auto expenses. Depending on where your store is located, you’ll have some daily travel costs going back and forth. You’ll also incur the costs of going to the bank, the post office or UPS, picking up supplies and more. Add in at least $200 or more per month for gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Your salary, though you may want to hold off drawing a salary for a few months. If you have a spouse who can help with your other financial obligations, you are in a better position.
What’s the Bill?
If you handle most of what is mentioned above as frugally as possible, you can count on monthly costs of at least $2,500 to $3,000 a month; and that’s a very low-end operation. You’ll also have one time up front expenses of another $4,000 to $10,000 for fixtures, inventory, installations, rental deposits, equipment and promotional materials. Hopefully, you’ll have great products and be located in a high traffic area.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing the right location is the most important …

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Blog and Article Topics For Startups

The toughest part of article and blog marketing is coming up with interesting topics to write about. Typically, the way you write up a publishable article differs a bit from what you put on the company’s blog. Articles tend to be more fact-based and educational, while blog posts provide an opportunity for more of a personal, op-ed bent. In either case, you need something to start with. Here are some ideas for each of these writing tasks:
Topic Ideas for Articles
The purpose of publishing online articles is two-fold – to increase the number of backlinks to your site and to encourage potential customers to click through to your business site. Thus, article topics should focus on what your potential clients want and need to know.
Start with what you do and how you get it done. Break it down by product line, single service, or some step in the process. Explain why what you do is important, and how it benefits your customer. Publishable articles typically must be at least 500 words (about 6 to 8 paragraphs) but rarely need to be much longer. This means that you can write a separate article not only for each product or service you offer, but for individual features of each – what the feature is, what problem it solves or benefit it provides, why it’s a great deal, and where to find them. Bam – 500 words. Do not sell in your article… save the sales pitch for your resource box or the landing page on your website.
For example, a hardwood floor retailer has started carrying a line of glues that have low VOCs. An article may compare standard glue to low VOC glues, explain the differences, explain why a low VOC product is a better choice and in what situations, and how to identify a low VOC product. Then, in the resource box, the reader is directed to the landing page on their website that provides more information on the new line of low VOC glues and a way to contact their company to order.
Once you have published an article for each product and feature, you can always start over again. While you generally cannot submit the identical article twice, the odds are that writing a fresh article on the same topic will end up with a different approach than the previous one. Any time you add a new product or discover a new benefit, be sure that idea goes on your article topics list.
Aside from products, services and features, effective article topics include any tangentially relevant subject that would get your target market thinking about what you offer. For example, if you sell dog grooming supplies, write about different breeds of dogs and the best matches of lifestyle and breed. People thinking about getting a new dog look for that type of they will be looking for the supplies you sell. If you sell tile flooring, publish articles about the allergy problems carpet can cause.
If you sell business services, you may write articles about aspects of accounting or taxes that are interesting to business owners – possibly even the ones that you have dealt with. If a struggling entrepreneur is reading an accounting article by a small business expert who also happens to provide SEO services, they might well click through and continue reading… and realize they need those services too.
Include a tool on your website for potential customers to ask questions. Very often, these questions will lead you to excellent article topics. You get two benefits here — the opportunity to interact directly with a potential customer by answering their question, and the ability to turn that answer into a general interest article.
Topic Ideas for Blogs
Blog topics, and posts, for that matter, are much easier to come up with. You can blog about your business, the industry, recent news, your customers… the list goes on and on. Every time you submit an article, bust out a quick blog with a link to the article (on your own site, preferably). Include a little opinion in your blogs, and ask for responses from your readers.
Sign up for newsfeeds related to your business and industry and jot down quick 150 to 300 word response to the news. Feature an employee or customer, promote community events that your business sponsors, evaluate the competition (professionally, of course). Because blog postings can be so much shorter than published articles, they should be far easier to create and post.
Keep the tone positive and professional, and keep the content interesting. Faithful blog followers often become excellent reference — they will forward your link through their own blogs and even through Twitter and Facebook, building your traffic as they go.
Just Keep Writing
Whether you focus your efforts …

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Structuring My Business to Save Tax

Whether you are a new business or have been trading for some time, you will at some point wonder whether you should you think of incorporating your business. Is it best to trade through your own limited company rather than as a sole trader or partnership? It’s a very good question to ask for both business and potential tax reasons. In general, it makes more sense to incorporate for business reasons rather than just to save tax, as the tax regime changes and any planned savings may no longer be available.
In some sectors, such as IT contractors, it is hard to obtain contracts unless you trade through a limited company. The reasons for this are not always obvious; it is just the way things are. If you are taking risks such as in ordering large stock for an order that could be cancelled, then there can be a real benefit in the limited liability offered by trading as a company. Your own possessions are generally protected from any claim made against the company. However, in many situations, taking out a good insurance policy is all you need.
Perhaps most significantly though, a company structure makes it easier to involve outside investors in the company. Any business seeking to involve new investors will find it easier to structure the business by issuing or selling shares rather than complicated partnership agreements.
There can be tax advantages in trading through a company as there is also more flexibility in handling the owner’s remuneration in such a way as to minimise the tax liability. Limited Companies are taxed on their trading profits, in addition to other sources of income such as interest and rent, and corporation tax is assessed after any owner’s salary has been deducted. It is possible therefore to adjust the amount taken from the company in any one tax year, as well as the way in which it is taken out. Some profits can be retained in the company if the owner would otherwise be likely to pay higher rate tax personally.
For sole traders all income is taxable on their business profits, in addition to any other sources of income. There is little or no flexibility for deferring some of those profits to another year if you happen to have a particularly good year and are taxed at the higher rate. An additional advantage of a company is that shareholders can take profits as dividends which do not attract National Insurance Contributions. It may not sound exciting but significant savings can be made by an appropriate remuneration strategy.
The company will be regulated by Companies House, which has strict rules for reporting trading accounts and for the conduct of directors and other company officials. You will need to be satisfied that you can manage the additional administrative burden. You can always start as a sole trader and later incorporate. In fact, this is a common route when a new business is unsure of how large it will grow and whether the savings will outweigh the costs. It may be that there is also a potential tax saving on incorporating the company but this will depend on whether there is any realistic goodwill in the business.
To consider this and other issues properly, you will need to consult a professional advisor. Incorporating tends to be a decision business owners make a few times at most over a lifetime, and it makes sense to consult an experienced expert before acting.…

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Starting An Internet Business: The Plan

If you are looking for financial independence, there is no better and low cost, sometimes free, way than starting an internet business. However, without the right plan and approach, you may not realize the financial freedom you are looking for. The plan below will help you be successful with your online business.
What type of internet business should you undertake?
There are many types of online business you can undertake. You can either sell your own product or sell someone’s. Selling your own product will take you some time as you will have to identify the product, have it developed, develop the shipping mechanism and initiate a marketing campaign.
On the other hand, when starting an internet business, you can decide to sell someone’s products as an affiliate. Here, you will only have to get customers to buy the products and for each sale, you will be given a commission. Starting and internet business as an affiliate is much easier than starting to sell your own products.
Is there a market available for the product or service you are offering?
When starting an internet business, find out whether there is demand for the product or service you want to offer. You can use various tools to know whether your offer has a demand in the market. Also, find out trends in the media on what people are looking for. The best way to get a winning product or service is to offer a solution to problems many people are facing.
Do you have the necessary equipment to carry out the business?
When starting an internet business, you will need an internet enabled computer. Apart from this, you will also need things like a phone for live support, different computer application software, a printer, web hosting company, domain name among others. Unlike traditional business models, you do not require an office as you can work from home. You will save a lot on things like taxes, rent, electricity and other overheads associated with traditional business models.
What is your marketing plan?
Starting an internet business also required you to think of your target customers. Your business will not survive if customers cannot find you on the web. You have to come up with a marketing campaign for your products or services. You can use a combination of free and paid marketing strategies to reduce your cost and increase your leverage.
Before starting an internet business, you should understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to your online business. Adopt different SEO to ensure your target customers get to your website.
When starting an internet business, have the above plan at hand and you will be on your way to a long term recurring income and will be able to achieve financial independence.…

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Understanding How Network Marketing Can Help You

Make sure your source is reliable so you don’t get sucked in to scams and gimmicks. Here are some timely, accurate, helpful network marketing tips that will send you successfully on your way!

In network marketing, it is easy to get pulled into the numbers game and focus on the quantity of prospects when in truth your success depends on the quality of your leads. In order to earn a profit, you must have dedicated hard-working people in your network that are actively developing their own set of business contacts.

As with many things, being a successful network marketer can be a matter of visualizing your success. This may not seem very complicated, but you really need to envision the future to make your networking business a success. Anyone can benefit from positive visualization, and network marketing is no different.

One way to progress in your field is to learn as much as possible from your failures. Analyze how you failed and take the information learned to heart. Knowing your weaknesses is the only way to correct them. Always learn from your failures, and apply that knowledge to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Likewise, repeat those things that are successful.

If your offerings are different, there may be people interested. It is alright to give people a choice as long as you let them make the final decision.

A vision board helps to make your goals clear so that your network marketing strategies can stay on track to meet those fixed goals. What exactly would you like to achieve through the business? Is it a yacht, fast car or mansion, or something else?

Having an e-mail list, and using it consistently is a fundamental part of successful network marketing. It does not matter if you derive this list from feedback on your site or if you purchase it, having a lengthy list you can use will aid you in increasing your business.

Become the leader of your network marketing campaigns. Be creative with unique offerings from your company. A great approach can generate a wealth of traffic. Consider it flattering if your success leads competitors to try to copy you. Try to refrain from copying other sites, as you should always be as original as possible when marketing.

It is important to be knowledgeable about the product you are marketing. Really believing in your own product, helps to build confidence in your potential consumers. If they see what a true believer you are, they will be motivated to sign up with you to support your product too. Your knowledge of the product is key to being able to answer any questions. This also shows your potential clients you are an expert and qualified to lead them with marketing the products.

Let your networking contacts determine the course of the conversation. Your promotions will be more successful when you use what you learn about your contacts. Take advantage of the information you can glean from social media outlets. When you understand their needs and desires, you can target them directly in your marketing strategy.

Success depends on your willingness to work hard, doing your research and being persistent. If you can use these suggestions, you can become successful.…

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Tips For Using Facebook Marketing In Your Business

Do you want to get a leg up on the competition? Would you like to market on Facebook just like they do? Would you be interested in out-marketing them on Facebook? You need to fully understand the principles of Facebook marketing laid out in the following article.

Offering contests is an effective way to increase your fan base. You could throw a photo contest, for instance, with customers using your product in unusual ways. If you do offer a cash or gift prize, though, make sure it is actually awarded. Be honest in business, of course.

Generate a buzz by offering a freebie through Facebook. You should encourage your customers to join by offering a few free products to some of your subscribers. Just announce a winner and repeat the promotion as necessary.

It is important that all online content is linked back to your Facebook. Set up your blog so that new posts are automatically linked on Facebook. You can even program a connection between your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that each time you tweet, it automatically appears on Facebook.

When marketing through Facebook, you’ve got to make your page stand out from the competition. Put up neat visuals or add some color. People are much more drawn to decorative pages than plain ones.

Don’t let your Facebook page become overrun with spam. There are some filters that can be used when editing your page that help monitor the page, even if you are not around. Page administrators are able to put keywords in that will be filtered out.

Check comments on your Facebook page regularly and respond promptly. Thank people if they have contacted you, and follow it up with an answer to whatever they have asked you. If you have a page on your site that holds the information they need, share the link with them.

Have different links that your visitors can sign up to on your Facebook. If they are able to get something for clicking Like, they’re more likely to do so. Try holding sweepstakes and contests, or just have a place for them to sign up for something valuable.

Consider Facebook carefully when choosing a platform for marketing on social media. Some segments of the population actually prefer other sites. Find out more about those who you are targeting before beginning a campaign so you can become a part of the appropriate social network.

Ask followers for insights on how to improve your business. Subscribers love to feel a connection to the brands that they follow. There’s no better way than to get your community involved in making decisions for your company. You may also want to ask what they want to know more about.

Keep your audience as informed as possible regarding your products and services offered. That doesn’t mean that you should post multiple times a day; regular updates will do. Also, don’t waste your followers’ time by posting needless information just for the sake of posting; keep posts interesting and pertinent.

Considering all the information available, you have no reason to fail at beating the competition with Facebook marketing. You will now be able to show them who is the real leader in Facebook marketing! Use what you’ve just learned and start marketing today.…