Category Archives: Marketing

The Benefits of Starting A Home-Based Business

The U.S economy continues to grow and corporations are enjoying large profits, but the majority of Americans still struggle with finances. This is one of the main reasons many people are looking into the benefits that a home-based business can offer. There is no stressful morning commute, extremely low overhead, fewer restrictions, and few or no employees. Many laws don’t apply to small businesses with no employees or only a small number of employees. It has been estimated that 95% of home based businesses are successful their first year with an average income of over $50,000. The general benefits of starting a home based business are many when you consider the tax advantages, money making potential, and savings on transportation and clothing.

Small businesses, including home-based businesses, receive numerous tax advantages. They can deduct their home, spouse and children (if you employ them), business vacations, cars, and business meals. You can even set up a pension plan while operating a home-based business. In addition, any losses you incur can be tax deductible and may even be refunded by the IRS, depending on your particular circumstances. To make your home-based business a success, you need to determine the factors that make one business succeed and another identical business to fail. Taking the incorrect actions can mean a failed home based business. Wanting the benefits of a home based business but taking no action at all surely means failure as well.

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Starting a home-based business is an excellent financial opportunity. The tax benefits alone can make starting a business from your home the best financial move you’ll ever make. The degree of success you have in your business is directly related to the amount of pleasure you get out of the business and the amount of work you put into it. Choose a home-based business that you enjoy, that you can comfortably finance, and a business in which there is a large market in need of your service or product. Will your business require you to invite clients to your home? Do you need extra insurance coverage to operate a business from home? Will you need an extra office or workspace to conduct your business?

What about a second phone line, fax, or Internet connection? Some research and planning done ahead of time can save you time and money after your business is established. The benefits of starting a home based business are many, but be sure you have the time and energy to devote to your business so that you’ll enjoy the financial and personal freedom you are searching for. Keep in mind that you may have expenses for bookkeeping unless you plan to keep your books yourself. Keeping accurate, up-to-date records is critical in operating a successful business. With adequate research, common sense, and a passion for your job, you can enjoy the many benefits and potential profits owning a home-based business brings.

Managing Your Home Based Online Business

In the first part of this series of articles, on managing your online business at home, I wrote about the many management responsibilities and functions you have rolled into one if you have your own sole proprietor business, with no staff. Your management task is perhaps the most difficult of all. You have to manage yourself, in all those different areas of your business such as finance, marketing, purchasing and computing. If the marketing director in you is too cavalier, and unrealistic about sales prospects, you may ruin your business in one or two rash decisions.  If the finance director in you is too risk averse, you may stifle the growth of your business.

I believe that if you think of your new home business as having different areas of management for you to concentrate on, you are more likely to succeed long term. If you can adopt some of the techniques of good management, you will end up with a more sound business that will stand the test of time. You will be a better decision maker, and it is decisions that dictate the progress or downfall of any business. Decision making needs to be unemotional and as scientific as possible, but as much as anything needs to be based on common sense. Good management is often a matter of common sense, and that is why I believe you, whatever your background, can run a successful business limited only by your ambitions.

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The other virtue you will need in abundance is patience, and this an area where you definitely need to manage yourself. Impatience brings emotion into your decision making. It also brings self criticism, or criticism of others, when none is either deserved or necessary. Patience, realism and common sense combined will contribute greatly to making you a good business manager. With those three attributes, you will be well placed to learn the skills of management in the context of your own small business. You will be able to learn how the different functions of a business relate to each other and interact. You, of course, have no need to study or be an expert in all of those things. But it does help to at least be aware that some of them are, in their own way, critical to your success.

Finance

Whatever your business, this is a very critical function for you to understand and manage, so when it comes to learning all you can, financial management is a priority. Much of this is again common sense, and realism, and there are many tools around to help you keep good financial records. But as I mentioned before, it is decisions that dictate the progress or downfall of any business. All decisions you make will have a financial impact on your business. However, good financial records alone will not bring the reward of better decision making. If you want to maximize the profits of your home business, you may find it helps to have other, non-financial records to aid your decisions. I will discuss this more in part 3 of this series of articles.

Marketing

Marketing is what I love most about business, and it is equally important to finance in all free enterprises. With an online business, the marketing side is an ever moving area of expertise. Offline, marketing has long since stabilised. Online, it has not stabilised at all; it is still developing and evolving. You need to be aware of what’s happening in the world of internet marketing, what has happened, and what is likely to happen. Always remember, though, there will always be a financial impact of your marketing decisions. You are obviously prepared to take risks, as you have started or are starting an online business at home. As the manager of your business you will need to balance the financial and marketing conflicts as they arise. You have to strike the right balance.

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The Chief Cause of Business Failure & Success

Business rises and falls on leadership. According to business guru, Brian Tracy, “Leadership is the most important single factor in determining business success or failure in our competitive, turbulent, fast-moving economy.” Still not convinced? Based on a study by Jessie Hagen of the US Bank, here are the main reasons why businesses fail someone who sees the birth certificates, successions, and autopsy reports of thousands of business entities. It just makes good business sense. But many people will ignore this advice and eventually meet with business disaster.  I highly recommend reading Jay Conrad Levinson’s book, Guerrilla Marketing, which has oodles of useful information and tips on promoting for small business.

Proper application of these key factors is a function of good leadership. Let’s look at some of the conclusions of the US Bank report. According to Hagen’s study, in the Business Planning category,  of businesses fail due to lack of a well-developed business plan. It boggles my mind that so many people go into business without a plan, as if it were the ice cream flavor-of-the-month! Is it any wonder that when I came across the DEA Police & Government auction site of confiscated property, there is a gleeful statement that declares, “Most businesses fail within their first two years, so chances are, you will come across some relatively new merchandise. At auction, get what you need without paying full price.”

If you just rolled out of bed with ‘a great business idea’ and don’t want to be a part of this grim statistic, run to your nearest bank, get a free business plan template, and write your plan now! Honor the time-proven cliché, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Leadership is about planning for success before it happens. Sun Tzu, the 6th century Chinese philosopher, in his epic work The Art of War, gave some sound business advice that still applies today: When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, then what you gain by your calculations is much, so you can win before you even fight. When your strategic thinking is shallow and near-sighted, then what you gain by your calculations is little, so you lose before you do battle.

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In the Financial Planning category, a whopping 82% of businesses failed due to poor cash flow management skills followed closely by starting out with too little money. Business leadership is about taking financial responsibility, conducting sound financial planning and research, and understanding the unique financial dynamics of one’s business. Before even starting a business, show your plan to your accountant and get their counsel. What a concept! Asking for the advice of someone who sees the bottom-line realities of business day in and day out;  Word of caution: don’t rely on just one opinion. Get at least two or three opinions from different accountants to get a more informed view.

The third business failure factor profiled in the report, and a critical one, was Marketing. Over 64% of the businesses surveyed in the Marketing category failed because of owners minimizing the importance of properly promoting their business followed by ignoring their competition. Again, as a business leader, you must be able to effectively communicate your idea to the right people and understand their unique needs and wants. Leadership is all about taking initiative, taking action, getting things done, and making decisions. If you’re not doing anything of significance to market and promote your business, you are most likely headed for business failure.

Know your competition. Leadership is also about providing value to people. If your main competitors are all providing a better quality and lower priced product than yours, how can you possibly create any value? Either you harness your strengths to provide different benefits such as speed, convenience, better service; lower your price and improve quality; create a different product for an unmet demand; or get out of the game. Finally, one of the most important reasons why businesses fail is due to poor management. In the Management category, 70% of businesses failed due to owners not recognizing what they don’t do well and not seeking help, followed by insufficient relevant business experience.

Will Your Home Business Succeed Or Fail?

You may operate a home business selling services or products, but no matter which kind of business you’re in, there’s always a question in the back of your mind: will my home business succeed or fail, or do I have the motivation it takes to keep it afloat? Whichever type of home business you have, it’s important that you know ways that you can keep your business going during slack times and/or economic downturns. If cash flow is a problem in your business, you should be sure to make certain that your money management techniques are on target and well refined. However, take particular care that you are courteous so these vendors will consider you a friend.

Some of the things you can do to make sure your business will survive in the 21st century is to avoid impulse expenditures. There are many reasons for impulse spending, even as it applies to business. We may fall under the persuasive spell of a salesperson who has talked us into buying things we don’t need. Maybe we simply made impulsive purchases because we had a little extra money, or perhaps to keep up the appearance of prosperity. Then you realize a few days later that you’ve committed some of your business funds to products or services that are not necessary for the success of your business.

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Here are some tips to help you avoid these impulse purchases and make certain your business succeeds:

You can help control impulse purchases by requiring two (or more) signatures on all company checks over a set amount. This will give you time to seriously consider whether or not you really need the product or service you are about to buy. If you are vulnerable, you can get yourself out of the grasp of an insistent salesperson if you explain that all purchasing decisions are contingent upon the approval of a second party. This so-called second party can be anyone – a partner or a department head or even a family member.

If you are the sole owner of your business, you won’t need to worry about these impulse spending patterns because you normally have three days to cancel your purchase if you decide you don’t need it or that you can’t afford to spend the money. However, be sure that you don’t skimp on services or products that you really need. When business is slow, you must learn to say “no” to anyone, even friends, who are trying to sell you unnecessary items. When business is good, you will probably allow more vendors to show you new equipment or new lines of so-called “new and improved” merchandise; otherwise, concentrate on your basic needs.

If you commit yourself without investigating all details and charge ahead, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Be certain that you are prepared for all situations and emergencies that could arise. It pays in the long run – regardless of cost – to ask for professional advice before you start on any plan; it may prevent failure of your business. A business without a plan is like a boat without a rudder, you may be lucky and drift safely shore but most likely you’ll end up on the rocks with 90% of other home business owners who fail because they don’t have a plan and goals.

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Which Type of Fear Might Be Holding You Back from Success in Business

Good ideas are literally a dime a dozen. Individuals conceptualize revolutionary new products and new services with each passing minute of each day. Although there is such a steady stream of ideas that can be marketed successfully and developed into a lucrative business, there are actually few new businesses that make it past the initial stages into actual existence. Why is this, and what factors contribute to the abandonment of great ideas that could’ve possibly netted the creators a small fortune? Fear can also be unhealthy when an individual experiences such fear that it leads to inaction and the business never really gets off the ground as a result. They can be seen by their family and friends as mere schemers/ daydreamers.

There seem to be two major psychological forces at work when a great idea is abandoned before completion or a business fails for no apparent reason. These two psychological syndromes are. It is a very frightening prospect to start and maintain a home-based business. There’s no doubt about that. And every business owner feels the “fear” of being responsible for their own destinies, and for their own futures. It’s quite common, to be somewhat nervous and stressed about our businesses, especially in the beginning. Conquering this fear is a necessity, however, as no one can be effective in a business if they allow the fear to overwhelm them. Fear can be healthy in a way, as it can keep an individual alert and aware of any failures of the business, which thwarts problems before they start.

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The two fears above seem to be the most prominent among new business owners. In the first, Fear of Success, a new business owner may have a great idea, and may develop every facet of the business thoroughly, yet they never seem to “open” the doors of the business. They may find excuse after excuse, why they can’t really put the business into play, although all facets of the business are established. They may find that they run into repeated crises in their lives, sickness of themselves or a loved one, disasters that are not “really” disasters crop up repeatedly. This is simple Fear of Success, and part of a psychological pattern.

Although crises do occur to us all, we go on with life despite these, and no one has crises that are continuous. A business owner with this syndrome is merely afraid that success will “change” their lives and they are afraid they won’t be able to cope with the changes. Of course, success will change someone’s life. However, the Fear of Success can be so overwhelming, that some new business owners simply let the business fall by the wayside, thereby ensuring its failure. After all, if the business fails to get started or to succeed, they never have to face the reality of their Fear of Success.

The second fear is just as detrimental as the Fear of Success. This fear is the Fear of Failure. This fear seems slightly more common and is characterized by the inability of future business owners to even get “started” with any plans or any concrete method of establishing a business. They constantly procrastinate in even the most simple of business chores. They fail to ever establish the business in any way, and for the most part are always promising to “start tomorrow”, only tomorrow may never come. They also may jump from “idea to idea” always hatching a new plan for the next great business. Unfortunately, the plans are the only thing that is ever hatched, as nothing concrete ever materializes.

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