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4 Tips To Change Your Business Scenario Completely

In this customer focused business environment, it is very difficult to make impact among your targeted customers and to boost your business growth. Various business organizations are fighting a hard battle to make significant gains in terms of sales revenue and customer traffic. Until and unless, you are unable to grab the attention of your targeted customers, you can’t make any significant progress in terms of market capitalization and profit margins. Here are some of the golden tips that can help in transforming your site visitors into your potential customers and can easily change the business winds in the favor of your business organization.

Pay adequate attention towards your customers- Remember you are doing business for your targeted customers so they need to be in the loop while launching new product, changes in your website designs and other such crucial decisions. The habit of being self obsessed with your business activity and neglecting your customers can cost your organization dearly in terms of sales revenue and customer traffic.
Make efforts to address their issues and challenges- Customers are the real king maker in the present business scenario and hence they need to be treated royally. Business organizations need to pay proper attention towards their issues and concerns so as to retain their good will and loyalty towards your business organization. In order to have better understanding about the challenges posed to your customers in the entire process of online payment, business organizations need to take the help of various heat map based tools that can clearly depict the areas that are grabbing maximum attention from the customers and the areas that are generating the least number of attention from them.
Aim towards providing a user friendly site experience- Your site should offer an out- of- the- world shopping experience to your site visitors and should encourage them to make online purchase through your e- commerce store. The customers should not feel getting stuck while performing any crucial activity on your site and the navigation around your site should be an easy cake walk. For this, you need to carefully select heavy graphics, non optimized images, media files, plugins and other such features so as to keep your site loading time upto 2-3 seconds.
Work towards generating leads through effective online visbility and website design- Websites are created with the basic purpose of generating leads for your business organization and to improve your conversion rates. It is a long continuous approach and requires combined efforts in the direction of improving online search rankings, social media promotion, appealing website design and other such factors. In order to improve your online visibility and presence, business organizations need to pay adequate focus on keyword specific content, effective backlinks towards your site, PPC campaigns and other such approaches. Further more, various attention heat map tools can be used to remove any bottlenecks and challenges in the website navigation so as to provide user friendly interface and an appealing and inspiring website design.
Once, you can pay effective emphasis to all these factors, you can easily drive customer traffic towards your business organization. By addresing all these core issues, business organizations can clearly achieve huge customer traffic and sales revenue so as to emerge victorious among their business rivals.

Find Low Cost Business Ideas To Make Big Profit

Find Low Cost Business Ideas To Make Big Profit

==> Click Here To Find Low Cost Business Ideas

Coming up with low cost business ideas while you work from home is a really fantastic cool idea, because let’s face it, most folk who have just started work at home do not have a fortune stashed away to help them along. Research the business opportunities you can run from your home as you work at home, and familiarize yourself with the rules, laws and regulations of the state.

==> Click Here To Find Low Cost Business Ideas

Home working doing data entry is a great opportunity to earn cash for those who want to stay at home with their little ones . Even those who just want to work from the solace of their home can benefit from a career in data entry. Some of the benefits of data entry from home include the ability to set your own schedule, work according to your needs and charge in anyway you see fit.
Low cost business ideas involving typing are becoming very popular as well. For lots of these positions experience is needed because they are in set market areas like medical or law. Typing jobs are most often called transcription. There are not many opportunities in a work at home typing position for someone without training.

It might happen that when you start working from home you may have difficulties switching back to a different working environment. Working from home is comfortable and may bring you more opportunities to make money and fulfill your ideas to the maximum.

Try to structure your own low cost business ideas around your personal talents and skills . You should feel confident about developing your business. Looking at lists of low cost business ideas will help you work out which is the best home business idea for you.

Even though some low cost business ideas are scams, most are legitimate. Estimates say that approximately forty million 40,000,000 people work at home in some capacity . With the web growing, many of those home jobs are work at home PC jobs.

Unlimited Web hosting for small businesses


Unlimited Web hosting for small businesses

When it comes to choosing a web host is set to be one of the biggest problems best free web hosting and cheap web hosting domains.

The word freedom is always tempting, but not all organizations. If you are serious about making money with your site or you have small business, it would be to your advantage to get your site payment platform independent custodian. While Unlimited Web hosting for small businesses is very popular, but consider the fact that the realization of their sites on the Internet for free will not responsible to you in any way. The case has frequent stops, as well as some free web hosting packages with slow connections. The worst may be room you had worked to build and host may just crash, all your data in them will disappear without you having any means of retrieving freely.

Apart from the fact that the company is not maintained to provide any eventuality to your free web site hosting web load, this is crucial, you know, search engines do not like this free web hosting site primarily because they think sub domain. Search engines will start their crawling from the root directory of the main site and normally ‘spiders out’ through a link on the home page. This means that there is the possibility of hosting your free website ‘upgrade’ engine robots Search are very small. This will be the largest network exposure for your site.

If only exists on the Internet, the “small” position is your goal, then you can consider a free web hosting, but if your idea is to make money Unlimited Web hosting for small businesses, it is better to get cheap web hosting. Cheap Web and from less than $ 4 per month, giving you the independence to do what you want your site based on your chosen package hosting restrictions. This is a free web hosting, you need not take place in your website and what is the size of the space and bandwidth have an impact, the principle is used.

If your budget is low, you want to have your site now, you better consider cheap web host instead of a free web hosting. I Strongly suggest Call4Hosting for small business where you get cheap web hosting plan, you must upgrade to what you want increasingly complex options anytime hosting package.

For example, if you find an accommodation price visitors to your site more and more, you’ll have to do is ask your Unlimited Web hosting for small businesses company to give you more space and bandwidth. You will be asked to pay this money to upgrade is usually small.

Transform Your Small Business Into A Lucrative One – Use IP PBX Software

What is IP PBX Software?

Thus enabling businesses houses reduce their long distance communication expenses and also manage their intranet efficiently by having a single network for voice and data. The software also allows the addition of other functionalities like- conferencing, XML- RPC (Extensible Markup Language- Remote Procedure Call) control of live calls, IVR, TTS/ASR (Text to Speech/Automatic Speech Recognition), PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) interconnection ability support digital and analog circuit, VoIP protocols including SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) and others.

Benefits of IP PBX In Small Businesses:
Small entrepreneurs do not have the capital or the capacity to employ enough customer care officials to handle their customers’ queries. IP PBX can help them solve this problem as well as reduce their phone bills to a large extent.

IP PBX helps in managing and switching calls, route calls and handles other messaging. The business house can use its own LAN connection to connect to IP PBX phone system. Therefore the signaling distance and time is shortened and does not have to travel through other networks.

Using IP PBX with VoIP routing lowers average operating cost especially for systems with large number of users.

Tech savvy and people having experience with network are more comfortable with IP PBX software. It’s easier to install than proprietary phone system. It’s user friendly and allows changes and addition without any complication. It also supports movement without any change of connection
Unified messaging and integration with work application like CRM packages can help business performance.

Branch offices can use the same system through an internet connection and employees can use the IP PBX as an extension at their homes by having a compatible IP phone.

Tips To Keep In Mind While Selecting IP PBX for Small Business:
Small business owner should always compare the cost of a hosted PBX and on-premise PBX system.

Always consider the real cost of ownership. Though the ‘on-premise’ PBX system needs a large amount of initial investment, it gets absorbed within a year in contrast to the steady cost increase with hosted PBX.

The ‘on-premise PBX system’ gives greater flexibility on features and functionality; whereas ‘hosted PBX system’ features are bundled for which the service provider charges a particular slab.

Customization of the on-premise system can be handled by any IT professional at the office but you need to depend on the service provider for the maintenance and management of a hosted PBX system. Advanced customization is not possible with latter system; therefore the former would be better option.

A ‘Session Border Controller’ (SBC) device to improve data quality will increase the system cost considerably as well make it complex. Small business houses should therefore evaluate the hosting cost before installing an IP PBX in their office. If they do not have a well trained IT staff it’s better to have the hosted IP PBX and allow the vendor to manage the support work.

Therefore using a VoIP routed IP PBX is very essential today for the growth of small businesses.

How can a CSR and small businesses can assist in setting up a foundation for learning and education for poor people?

Today, organizations are concentrating more on Corporate Social Responsibility, which is a way by which companies deal with its environmental and social impact. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has now become an integral part of every organization’s mission. Corporate Social Responsibility programs help benefit society and facilitate a corporate organization’s public perception.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means the voluntary actions carried out by companies to integrate social and environmental issues in their business operations. The foundation of CSR lies in philanthropic deeds such as donations, charity, relief work, etc. CSR is a popular theory which has become fundamental to several large and small companies around the world. This model aims to provide donations, long-term financial and non-financial support to tackle social problems around the world. Since NGOs have strong potential and experience in handling such philanthropic activities, they are viewed as being one of the significant sources of funding. There are different companies which work towards setting up a foundation for learning and education of poor people by partnering with non-government organizations (NGO’s) to make a difference among local communities.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a kind of self-regulation that organizations implement as an element of their corporate ethics and citizenship. This strategy encourages businesses to build up means to monitor the public’s social awareness. The objective of Corporate Social Responsibility is to promote the company’s actions towards the positive impact of consumer, community and employee responsibility. Organizations concerned with social responsibility often take voluntary actions against the event that could cause harm for the public, regardless of whether they are required by law. For instance, a business might introduce a hazard control program that consists of steps to guard the public from exposure to hazardous situations; through education and awareness.

Many CSR activities focus on promoting education for underprivileged people, by monetary investment and personnnel involvement in academic institutions with the purpose of assisting students in their studies. Corporate Social Responsibility programs assist the community and also display the veracity of businesses that make community partnership a main focus. CSR includes handling a gamut of social activities from charitable contributions to producing services or products that benefit the environment.

CSR assists to help deprived children with education and skills to help themselves and grow up as responsible citizens. The key idea of CSR is to employ the specific percentage for public charity in order to safeguard and support the lawful interests of the society in such a manner that the rights and privileges of the people are protected.

Low Cost Solutions for Small Businesses in a Global and Technologically Evolving Marketplace

Background

Small businesses make up a majority of businesses in America. In 2010 alone, there were around 565,000 businesses started each month. Many business owners struggle to find ways to build and maintain their business and with finding time to keep up with technologies that can help them succeed (Krell, 2011).

I worked with a small store to analyze challenges faced in a globalized/tech infused society to find low cost solutions to some of those challenges. It is understood that many challenges will be difficult to overcome due to cost and time involved, but many issues can be addressed to bring more awareness and revenue to the business.

Issues/Concerns/Analysis

To begin analyzing the business, a SWOT analysis was performed to see the bigger picture in regards to both the store and the industry. Unless otherwise noted, the information is largely based on the observations, along with the proprietor.

The store benefits from being close to a university and proximity to downtown. Most traffic is generated through word of mouth and repeat visitors. The inventory carried is obtained through customer sales and conventions. Customers enjoy the quality and rotating inventory, the close relationship with the vendor, and the search for “buried treasure” (An examination of thrift store shoppers, 2010).

One of the major challenges of a one person operation, are operating limitations. Information is passed on to customers via voicemail and a sign on the door if possible. The store is located in a small shopping center. The store does not have a website or much social media presence. The store only accepts cash or check.

The store misses out on an opportunity with internet sales. EBay is occasionally used, but there is no dedicated website. Other stores offer lessons, tech services, and accessory sales. There is an opportunity to partner with vendors to offer these services.

Threats include large stores. There are many small stores in the area. Internet sales bring convenience to customers and the ability to buy from vendors all over the world (Guitar Attack, 2006). Most large stores have a web presence, and many smaller shops are also taking advantage of setting up web stores, and some cut physical location hours to devote time to internet selling.

To further analyze the market, Porter’s Five Forces was used. Market entry can be easy. There are no extreme barriers, and since most of the goods sold are used, merchandise can be acquired easily. Some stores sell new merchandise and have contracts with the companies they sell for (Shulman & Coughlan, 2007).

Supplier power depends on the type of store. New item stores will have to work with and bend some control to those suppliers. Used item stores have to acquire goods and watch for stolen items. Difficulty on inventory depends on availability of specific and rare items (Schiraldi & Nava, 2012).

Buyer power is dependent on popularity and availability of the item (Schiraldi & Nava, 2012). Prices fluctuate with supply and demand. Many stores utilize published price guides, as well as sell data from auction websites.

Product and technological development can have an impact on the desirability of certain goods. Some consumers prefer older technology and formats over more modern products.

In regards to competitive rivalry, many stores complement each other. Some offer services that others do not, and many will refer customers. Many stores also purchase goods from one another when a store purchases an item, but their market does not fit. Many small businesses see the threat of stores like Walmart and price competition from internet based stores (Guitar Attack, 2006).

Potential Solutions

In narrowing a list of solutions to increase awareness and business, it is important that plans be cost effective and time manageable so that they are not burdensome..

Purchase a Square credit card reader
Create a website/store
Utilize social media
Utilize listing/auction websites
Partner with service providers
Look into selling new commonly used accessories
Look into advertising in local papers
Look into hiring college interns if more employees are cost prohibitive

Recommendations/Implementation Plan

By signing up with Square, a free credit card terminal is offered for your smartphone. This allows the client to offer customers the convenience of credit card payments. The fee is 2.75% of the transaction (Square, 2014). This fee can be passed on to the consumer as a convenience fee.

EBay and Craigslist can be used for select inventory. Craigslist also serves as free advertising. EBay can be used to reach a wider customer base for select items (Wolf, 2009).

Social media can be used to communicate with customers changes to normal store hours. Social media can be used as free advertising, to show off inventory, and for promotions (Constantin, 2012).

Some products eventually need maintenance. There is an opportunity to partner with technicians that offer these services on behalf of the store. A referral commission can be charged for providing the drop off/pickup location and the customer.

Commonly used accessories can be stocked to increase revenue. By selling new low cost accessories customers may be more willing to spend money, even if they came in to browse.

The more expensive investments would be advertising in local papers and building a website/store. Local niche papers tend to have lower advertising costs. A website/store can be expensive to start, but can be designed to be easily updated by the client (McLeod, 2011). An intern from a local university could be used to maintain/update the website, social media sites, and work with web sales.

Most importantly, the client should monitor the changes that are implemented to see what works and what does not. Can there be improvements? If something does not work, would it be more cost effective to improve, or find another solution all together?

Conclusions

It is important for any business owner to have a strategy. Even on the most basic level, it serves as a guide to take the business to where the owner wants to go. Having a strategy and being adaptable to an evolving market and social environment allows the business to keep current with trends and find areas for improvement (Cordeiro, 2013).

References

An examination of thrift store shoppers. (2010). Marketing Management Journal, 20(2), 94-107.

Constantin Logofatu, M. (2012). The social media impact on small and medium sized businesses. Young Economists Journal / Revista Tinerilor Economisti, 9(18), 214-218.

Cordeiro, W. P. (2013). Small businesses ignore strategic planning at their peril. Academy Of Business Research Journal, 322-30.

Guitar Attack. (2006). More love for the small business owner from namm. Retrieved from http://www.guitarattack.com/opinion/transformed.htm.

Krell, E. (2011). The state of small business. Baylor Business Review, 30(1), 4-9.

McLeod, Thomas. (2011). Allow your clients to update their websites on the go. Retrieved from http://net.tutsplus.com/tutorials/cmss/allow-your-clients-to-update-their-websites-on-the-go/

Schiraldi, P., & Nava, F. (2012). Resale and collusion in a dynamic market for semidurable goods. Journal Of Industrial Economics, 60(2), 274-298. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6451.2012.00484.x

Shulman, J., & Coughlan, A. (2007). Used goods, not used bads: profitable secondary market sales for a durable goods channel. Quantitative Marketing & Economics, 5(2), 191-210. doi:10.1007/s11129-006-9017-x

Square. (2014). Retrieved from https://squareup.com/sell-anywhere.

Why Custom Software Solutions are Better than Off-The-Shelf Software

If you are in search in the market for the most appropriate business software solution for your company, you can choose between two main options. In general, you can decide to go for either a pre-packaged or off-the-shelf business software solution, or you can design or purchase a custom software program. The latter can be an in-house project or outsourced from a custom software development company.

The bigger challenge for companies in need of business software solutions is to ascertain which option is most appropriate for the company given its specific needs and requirements and the prevailing conditions in the business environment. Companies become consumers who will have to weigh the cost and benefits of the choices and ultimately make their final decision after serious consideration and study in relation to the needs and requirements of the business.

Off-the-shelf business solutions are considered as the default option. However, this business practice may no longer be relevant in present business conditions. As we are faced with more challenging and complicated business requirements; getting the most appropriate software solution is turning to be a near impossibility. Consider the major caveats that companies must observe when opting for pre-packaged business solutions:

The software features might not actually work
The software feature might work but may not meet the requirements of your company
The software may disrupt other business solutions that are already in place.
On the other hand, custom business software solutions are undeniably adaptable to most business needs and requirements. A custom software development company will be able to provide a full-functional business solution that will exactly meet the needs and requirements as you have exactly specified and defined. The company will also make sure that the custom business solution is able to interact with the existing applications and programs that your company is presently using.
Companies that offer off-the-shelf software solutions will offer after sales service. You will expect all vendors of packaged business solutions to commit excellent technical support. In reality, the highest possible tier of technical support from these vendors pales miserably to the technical support that you will get from custom software development companies. In most cases, business organizations that use off-the-shelf business solutions hire in-house technical staff to manage and troubleshoot any technical issues affecting the off-the-shelf software solutions.

Custom software development companies, on the other hand, can be relied upon to deliver in-depth and timely intervention and support of their technical team. This dedicated service assures companies of the expertise and solution that are not merely work around and patch up jobs to an existing problem. Their service can be considered as an enhanced intervention to meet increasing demands from the custom software solution that they have designed and created for your organization.

Your custom software solution can come out cheaper than the best priced off-the-shelf software solution. In most cases, the off-the-shelf business solution are cheaper upfront, but may turn out more expensive than their custom counterpart in the long run.

There are instances where the company is better off cost-wise with a custom software solution. This can happen for the following reasons:

The chosen off-the-shelf software solution may require further customization
The chosen off-the-shelf software solution may require a top-to-bottom changes and modification to your business operations.
The off-the-shelf software solution can turn out to be more expensive with the specific feature that your company requires

Online Passive Income Business Ideas

Make money while spending time over the internet

Like how you can’t imagine a life without air and water, you can’t imagine a life without money even. It is the fact that money comes and goes. But still each one of us strive hard to make it pass through their hands through various sources of income. Although there are various income building streams, to your surprise the internet offers some multiple money making streams for you to earn income passively just by sitting in front of the computer a few hours at your home. Investing your time and deploying your skills, it is for sure, you could make some money selling products and services over the internet.
If you too could earn a few more bucks to pay up your bills, why don’t you spend some extra hard time over the internet? All that you need is the right information and right platform to build up your regular passive income building stream. Some simple online business and Money Making Ideas Online instead here under this head from which you could opt for the best.
Writing an e-book:
If you could identify a profitable topic and know the tricks and tactics of creating quality content interesting to the readers, you could very well express them in the form of an e-book readily readable to the visitors of the web page. Since the digital downloads are easy to create and less expensive to promote, this would be a genuine Online Passive Income Stream for a regular income.
Sell products on eBay:

The tremendous increase in the online sales has initiated many to enter into the online market for trade. The eBay offers an excellent market place with which you too can promote and sell the products of your choice by posting an eye-appealing photo of the product with its product description. Make an excellent profit selling your products online right from burgeoning collection of cookie jars to your vintage clothing.

Blogging:

The internet, being the primary source of information, people start surfing through the search engines as and when they look for some valuable information. Having some exemplary skills, knowledge or talents that you prefer to share with others, you can start creating a blog of your own and later on monetize them selling the ad spaces on your blog to fetch decent profits in the long run.
Affiliate marketing:
Unlike the traditional techniques of advertising this affiliate marketing, is an emerging technique of promoting products over online through affiliate links. This is a lucrative way of making money, since each and every time when someone clicks onto the links you are entitled to a commission on the desired target action.

Online tutor:
If you feel proud as an expert in a particular field and enjoy teaching the beginners, you could consider this option teaching through an online school. The rapid advancement in technology enables people to learn via virtual classrooms with the help of which you could offer some real time value courses and webinars via Skype attracting the attention of the students to make long term profits.
Develop mobile apps:
In the era of smart phones, you could make some good deal of money by developing interesting mobile applications that could solve the problems of the users or any other entertaining mobile games meeting the intense demand of the increasing mobile phone users.
Stock photos:
The increasing demand for quality photos to produce interesting content to the readers has created a space for you to sell your photos over online. If photography is your passion, sell your photos on the web and earn some income in the form of royalties.

Corporate Business Solutions: Protecting You from Fraud

That company is Corporate Business Solutions. Companies like CBS employ fraud detection and prevention experts who perform fraud analysis on a company and discover weak spots that may be targeted by criminals in the future.

One type of fraud that has become a serious risk to business owners is identity theft. Business owners are more susceptible to this type of fraud than the average person because the personal information of a business owner tends to be more readily available to criminals who are looking for a potential victim. Often times identity theft criminals will utilize a business name that does not belong to them in order to partake in illegal business transactions. These illegal transaction may lead to serious consequences for the business owner who may find themselves in court for all kinds of criminal activity. This is especially the case when the identity theft leads to issues with the IRS. Corporate Business Solutions Inc. not only offers fraud detection services, they also offer representation services for business owners who find themselves facing the IRS.

The significant losses that are incurred by businesses affected by identity theft may lead to eventual closure of the business. Not only can fraud impact a business financially, it can also harm the reputation of the business. The best way to protect your business from fraud is to stop it before it ever occurs. A fraud prevention specialist may be the best option for a business owner who is looking to preserve their finances and defend their reputation. Fraud is ultimately a business killer and it is important to have defenses in place that are robust enough to ensure that no fraud occurs within your business.
Internal fraud is an especially dangerous type of fraud because it impacts the reputation of a business more than any other type of fraud. Internal fraud can also be more difficult to detect because it occurs only within the business affected. External fraud is usually conducted by criminals who have been actively committing the crime in other areas therefore creating a pattern that can be tracked. Internal fraud is often harder to detect because no such pattern has been left. It is possible to learn how to spot internal fraud but it takes years of practice to fine tune the skill. Companies like Corporate Business Solutions have been preventing and detecting fraud for years and that is why they have become such a popular solution for fraud defense. Business owners who are looking for protection against fraud should seriously consider contacting a company like CBS.

5 Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Social media marketing and the businesses that utilize it have become more sophisticated. More small businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.

What follows are five advanced strategies for small businesses that may already have small online communities and understand how to create an online presence, but don’t know what to do next.

What Is An Advanced Strategy?

The definition of an advanced social strategy is a technique that goes beyond the normal social media presence. It introduces or reinforces a marketing message while pushing a user to another profile or business site. Before moving forward with an advanced strategy, it’s important that your business understands social marketing, has experience engaging consumers, and that you possess a basic understanding of online marketing.

Strategy 1: Multimedia Usage

The term “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Consumers are now using the web to look for product pictures and videos; they want more information and want to see what they’re considering buying. The good news is that it’s easy for a company to create and publish videos and pictures.

In addition to taking photos of products, you can also take pictures at office events as a way to highlight company culture. This not only helps convince others to work with you or to buy from you (consumers see that you are down to earth and one of them, instead of a stuffy company), it also helps your HR department recruit new employees. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that celebrates birthdays and has a good time?

Videos are useful for explaining complex how-tos or concepts. Showing step by step directions can have a greater impact than even the most well written article. Businesses don’t have to invest huge sums of money to create good videos, either. I highly recommend the relatively cheap Flip camcorder, which takes great videos and is easy for even a non-technical marketer to use.

Multimedia can break down the faceless business-to-consumer sales flow and make your company appear friendlier. Use videos and images to show that your business is fun, you care about your employees, and most importantly, that you care about your customers.

Strategy 2: Integrate Offline and Online Advertising

Many small businesses do some sort of offline advertising, whether it be radio, print, or cable. Social marketing allows a business to extend their offline sales pitch.

Including your Facebook Page or blog URL in offline ads act as social proof, inviting potential consumers to see your community and increase trust in your business. Not only can integrating online and offline advertising help the conversion process, but it can also help build your community. Introducing potential consumers to your social profiles means they may join your community now and buy later.

integrate advertising image

Strategy 3: Message Adaptation

message adaptation image

As businesses start to become more sophisticated with social media they are starting to leverage more online platforms. However, most deliver the same message over multiple platforms instead of tailoring communications for each individual site.

Social platforms each have an ecosystem of their own. What might be acceptable on Tumblr might be considered spam on Facebook. A specific style of writing might spread on Twitter but fail on FriendFeed. Understanding that each site is different and then customizing your message ensures they do well on each respective site.

Not only does customizing messages across sites help the message spread but it keeps users from receiving multiple identical communications. Be sure to maximize your potential by sending a user that follows the business on Twitter and Facebook two different messages, instead of the same thing.

Strategy 4: Local Social Networks, Beyond Yelp

For a small business, local search can be a big win. Being visible to consumers looking for a business in their area is extremely important. Make sure your site is included in local business directories in order to help ensure that consumers find you when they need you. Sometimes finding that many sites can be difficult, however.

First, make sure you check your competitors. Where are they listed? Check their inbound links to check for business directories you can add yourself to. Also, make sure your business has been added to Google Maps, using the Local Business Center.

Take the time to include all the information you can and update any old news. For many consumers, this will be their first interaction with the business.

Strategy 5: Contests and Discounts

Building a community is only the first part of social marketing. Using that community to drive sales, propagate marketing, or crowdsource operations is the true power of social media. One way to excite the community is to collectively do something to create a contest or offer an exclusive discount (i.e., the contest can create competition between users). Not only does a contest build buzz organically but if contestants need to, for example, publish an article that gets the most comments in order to win, the contest itself becomes viral.

A good social media contest should include some sort of sharing or virality as a requirement for winning.

Discounts are also a great way to connect with your community. By giving exclusive coupons to your social community, you’re rewarding and reminding them that you are not only a brand to engage with, but also to buy from.

Tips On How To Start A Home Based Business

It is a typical American dream to own your own business and to create your own successful career. Home businesses are more possible than ever and there are more chances and ways to make your mark in the business world from your own home. This article can help you along the way to your own home business.

Register your home business with your local chamber of commerce. Sometimes it’s hard to advertise a home business inexpensively, but you can become well-known in your community by letting your chamber of commerce know where you are. People looking for your type of business can inquire and get helpful information, which will help you also. And it won’t cost you anything!

Create a flier for your home business. Promote your company by sending the flier out to others and posting it in different locations in the community. You can also scan the flier and put it up as an attachment on your web page. Each of these steps will increase the visibility of your business.

It is important to set boundaries. They are crucial for those who work at home. Everyone in your life will need the boundaries, your kids, spouse, neighbors, clients, or anyone else you work or live it. These people need to know when you are working, when you will return e-mail, and when you will take phone calls, or when you are not. The better you are at setting and enforcing the boundaries, the more efficient your business, and your life will be.

Make sure your family understands that you are working. Many home based business owners have families who ask them to run errands, without being aware that working at home is still working. Have a talk with them about what you are doing and what kind of support they can give you. You’ll have a smoother day when you can work in peace.

Create an online store to sell your handmade items that you have traditionally sold only to people in your region. The internet is a way to bring your products to people around the world. It is an easy way to create a real store without the investment of a physical store front.

Buy a web site that has ecommerce capability. Before you buy, decide whether you want to hire someone else to build your site or do it yourself. Many services offer a web site domain and hosting package, with tools to help you build your own site and load a catalog of products to sell.

Invest in a toll-free number for your home business. An 800 number makes your business look larger, established and professional to customers. It also gives you a way to separate business calls from personal calls so you can “turn off” your business at the end of the day and make time for family.

Have made or make a banner and logo for your business website. Carry this design through on your business cards, stationery, post cards, and fliers. Use an online printing service that allows you to upload your own artwork or choose one of their default designs. Just add your text, select the products you want and create your business brand.

Keep a mileage log for your business driving. With a home business, you might find yourself driving to meet clients or suppliers, delivering orders or traveling to boutiques and trade shows. The IRS allows a write-off for business mileage, at about 34 cents per mile. That adds up! Check IRS.gov for the current year mileage allowance.

You can claim as a deduction the cost of meals for clients, but it is best if you can show that the clients you are entertaining are really paying customers of your business. Auditors understand that meals at restaurants can be a good way to attract clients, but they are more likely to feel the write-off is justified if the clients you take out also bring you substantial revenue. Keep all receipts.

As revealed at the start of this article, home business are an American dream. They are the very thing that American success stories are made of. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? By taking the advice in this article and putting it into action, you too can be one of those home business success stories.

 

7 Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms (or Dads)

Are you a stay-at-home mom (or dad)? Hoping to kick start an entrepreneurial dream or simply looking to bring in some extra income?

Starting a home-based business is a great way to do this. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. companies operate as home businesses and many of today’s biggest brand names were established by stay-at-home moms – (Dorothy) Gerber, Mrs. (Debbi) Fields, and Julie Aigner-Clark (Baby Einstein), to name but a few. But what types of businesses can grow and thrive in the home environment?

Freelancing

Perhaps the easiest form of business to delve into and operate is freelancing. Whatever your skill – writing, web design, marketing, tax advisor, or photography – freelancing affords an enormous amount of flexibility and freedom, and can be started with little cost or paperwork. Many freelancers get their start by approaching a former employer or customer who could benefit from their services, then branch out as their body of work and reputation grows.

Freelancing does have its challenges and requires discipline – you are running a business after all. Common mistakes freelancers make include not setting the business up properly and legally (getting the right permits, or licenses), forgetting to put money aside to pay estimated taxes, and not planning for peaks and valleys in cash flow.

Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) provide a wide variety of “virtual” services to other businesses including administrative, marketing and technical support from a home office. My local window cleaner, for example, uses a VA to answer his calls and manage his calendar while he’s busy on-site. VAs are growing in popularity, too, as firms look to cut costs and outsource administrative functions. If you are organized and have an administrative background, this might be for you. Start with your own connections or take advantage of the services of a VA organization or association who can help you get started and connect you with clients.

Make Money from Blogging

Yes, you can make money by blogging. I follow several stay-at-home moms who happen to be fashion and style bloggers – and it’s their business. If you can write and have a passion for a specific topic or hobby that you know will garner some attention, then this might be for you. Income generation opportunities can come in the form of affiliate marketing and advertising on your website or from companies who ask you to review and blog about their products. Look for ways to get traffic to your website through social media, search engine optimization and by getting involved in the wider blogosphere (networking with and commenting on the blogs of others in your niche).

Start a Creative Business

Whether it’s making gift baskets or offering interior design consultation services, if you have a creative streak and the room to store and create, then why not consider making money out of your talents? Get to know the market and do some planning to identify an untapped niche. SBA has several tools that can help including the Build your Business Plan tool and SizeUp a market and business analysis tool that lets you benchmark your business against competitors, map your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise.

Start a Home-Based Bakery or Food Business

Food production from a home is heavily regulated but it’s not impossible. Take Martha Stewart, for example—she famously entered the food service business with a basement-based catering company in 1976. Before you start a home-based food business you will need to understand the rules and regulations that govern the production of food for public consumption in an at-home environment. For example do you need a separate kitchen? What about product labeling? And so on.

Child Day Care

Home childcare businesses offer a potentially lucrative and long-lasting business opportunity. A home environment is often appealing to parents and once their kids are settled (and assuming you are doing a great job), then it’s likely you’ll have that business until they are old enough not to need care.

Of course, this is another regulated business and you’ll need to ensure you comply with state and local regulations that govern issues such as the provision of meals, minimum space requirements per child, and the number of licensed care workers per child.

Start an Online Marketplace Store

If you have clutter that you want to get rid of and like the idea of selling products to an established worldwide network of consumers, consider starting a business on eBay, Etsy or Amazon. You can source products to sell from junk/yard sales or charity shops. If you want to get a bit more sophisticated, then consider buying wholesale or adopting a drop-shipping model. The goal is to find products that are in high-demand and not readily available from other sources.

More Ideas

Other business ideas including a dog walking/pet care business, a travel agent, start a home-based franchise business, event planning, architectural design, or tutoring students!

Find Wide Opportunities to Implement Great Business Ideas

There is no need to feel depressed if yourbusiness is in loss. There are now many friends for you and for that matter people who are ready to assist you if you are willing to be a part of the winningplatform. Here people of all walks of life will be coming together and they will be willing to provide ideas, develop the projects and even invest money. Every new startup will get some funds and as well ideas which will be helpful; to cherish. The same is the case for the great business ideasas these will be implemented with lots of talent and using the latest technologies. So the success factors are assured and widely used by people of all niches. There will be no chances for the regrets as there are people around to handle and tackle the situation. The only thing is connect with the right people and thereby expand your business.

Every person will be able to monetize their thoughts and this will be the basis for the collaboration of the business with the people of expertise and skill. You can build any sort of business and experiment on any Innovative Business Ideas as all these will be completely getting the guidance of the people with creative thoughts. As there are many people, it will be wise enough to ask them about the feedback as this is very valuable and useful to judge correctly about a decision and idea whether to implement a business or not. There will be many sources which are helpful to get many funds. All these will result in fast implementation of the project in less time. There areeven chances for the crowd funding. So make sure that all these are useful to enhance business and its online presence.

In addition to the great support there are even chances to get wide reputation by sharing your ideas and the progress of those projects implementation in the social media. There will be more chances to add many more partners and evolve your business. There will be absolutely no loops and all these are very much useful to the robust communications. Each and every connection will be helpful to interact and as well build huge success. In addition to these benefits there are even security and as well privacy for all the people and their projects. This is possible as all the people who are working here are completely professional and they keep to the business secrets accordingly.

All the investors are able to get benefitted as they are funding the upcoming projects which are going to create revolution and there will many rewards for them in terms of returns of the money they have spent. The mentors even will be happier for sharing their impeccable advice and ideas out of their expertise. Try to make use of these resources and let your business proper. Do not even neglect or postpone implementing your creative ideas as they will bring in huge success and profits in return.

Solutions Engineer Job Description

Companies can coordinate and generate ideas more quickly when they have fast networks. Companies can also reach customers more often when they have networks that allow them to efficiently communicate with customers. Many companies do not know how to solve their network problems and solutions engineers are often hired to devise solutions to network problems.

Function

  • Solutions engineers are network engineers who provide solutions to a variety of problems that occur with software or hardware. When customers have a task that they want to accomplish and their network technology is not sufficient, the solutions engineer comes up with solutions that are sold to the customer. These engineers work as a part of a team, designing and implementing the solutions for customers. Solutions engineers are also expected to meet with customers and present the network technology offered by the company that the solutions engineer works for. Solutions engineers are also responsible for creating training programs for customers, when requested.

Conditions

  • Solutions engineers spend most of their time in clean and comfortable offices and laboratories where they develop software. Solutions engineers often have to travel to the offices of customers in order to perform demonstrations. They must also travel to trade events in order to keep up to date on the latest networking technology and also present their solutions. These engineers usually work 40 hours a week. The time spent in front of a computer can lead to eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Skills

  • Solutions engineers need bachelor’s degrees in computer science or engineering. Previous experience in sales and Internet technology will often help the solutions engineers find work. They must have interpersonal skills, since solutions engineers usually work in teams and must interact frequently with customers in order to determine what these customers need. Because of the rapid advances in networking technology, solutions engineers have to continually retrain in order to keep their skill sets from becoming obsolete.

Outlook

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the computer network industry would grow 23 percent from 2008 and 2018. Growth will be driven by the increasing need of companies to communicate effectively both internally and with customers. As more and more commerce is moved online, it is essential that companies have up-to-date networks.

Earnings

  • In 2008, the median earnings for computer network specialists was $66,310, according to the BLS. The highest 10 percent of network specialists earned more than $104,070, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,000.

Best tips for Business Development

When looking to run a successful business, it’s important to know where to start, how to proceed and where one can get their breaks. When doing this, it’s easy to have a successful company in the short and long-term. While true, one should not just follow the basics, even though they are important. With that being said, here is a short guide on how to develop a business.

Simple plan: When starting out, one should write a business plan for their company. Think about it, with a plan, it’s easy to go back to it if there are any issues. For starters, one should list their overall money-making plan, assets, corporate layout and long-term plans. Furthermore, one should have a marketing plan, and the marketing plan should be pretty long as it’s the most important part of a lot of businesses. Remember, with a well-written business plan, one can do everything to get their business in order and under control. This is, simply put, the wisest start and an important step in the strategic planning for business.

Really go deep into the marketing plan: While one should write their marketing plan into their business plan, it’s wise to take it further and write a full marketing plan. Think about it, if one doesn’t have a decent marketing plan, they are going to have a hard time finding clients. To get started, one should have a decent website and a social media presence. Furthermore, one should think of their local marketing plans such as a phone book advertisement, among other things. In the end, this is one of the best tips for business development.

Find the right employees and contractors: A person who is running a company needs to hire the right people to help him or her. Without doing this, it’s hard to enjoy profits as one will struggle if they have bad employees or only hire family members. To take this further and save money, one should consider their long-term needs. Not only that, to take care of simple tasks that require some knowledge of a difficult subject, one should hire contractors. For example, when making the website or getting the accounting in order, one can do well if they hire contractors.

Define roles of everyone: It’s easy to run a company with two or three employees. Often, people will naturally take on their own roles. But, in the long run, one must define the role of every employee, contractor and owner. When doing it this way, one can avoid misunderstandings, which are sure to occur when they don’t define the roles well. Think about it, when an owner or employee doesn’t know what they need to do, it’s easy to miss important deadlines, and one can avoid this by defining roles from day one.

Financial projections: When worrying about strategic planning for business, one should think of their long-term financial projections. By doing this and looking at the long haul, one can avoid problems in the future. However, it’s not always easy to meet projections, and one must hire a professional.

In the end, with these best tips for business development, one will have a better chance at success. Remember, with a decent plan and hard work, a person will do well with his or her business idea.

Tips to promote your business locally

Online businesses are growing with the passing of every single day. But still there is large number of businesses that are operating on local level. If you are a small business owner or a startup business, then it is quite difficult for you to afford the cost of advertising as it is very expensive. This article is all about how to promote a business locally free or in a small budget in order to get more and more new customers.

Online Presence

According to a survey, over 95 percent of people search for a local business online. So it is necessary for every business to have its online presence whether you are an online or offline business. The online presence can be through a website or listing your business on major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, etc.

Local Business Directories

A business directory is a useful tool to promote your business. Business directories are updated every year and a large number of people have subscribed these. Keep your business details always updated on business directories.

Printed Materials

Making your business popular locally can also be done through distribution of printed material like pamphlets, brochures, flyers, postcards and others at places where a large number of people are gathered at once. It can be outside hotels, libraries, cafes, tourist spots, etc.
Public Events

Public events are being organized every day where masses are gathered. You can promote your business in those public events by yourself or appoint someone else to do that. You can carry out demonstration of your products and services at public events and collect information about potential customers.

Press Release

Publish a press release once in a month in the local newspaper as most of the people read newspapers. The press release can be of anything such as launch of a new product or service, getting a new client, increase in sales. The press release does not need to be a big news as it is just for making your presence felt to the people.

Promotional Offers

Giving discount to existing customers can bring a lot of new customers. A business owner has to cut down on profit for offering discounts. It is an excellent way to promote your business.

Word of Mouth

Most of the people believe in recommendation of their friends and others known to them. It is important for a business owner to build trust amongst their existing customers so that they suggest your business to their friends. There is nothing better than a word of mouth advertising.

Top Complementary Business Models For Handmade Entrepreneurs

As you lead your business forward, you will eventually have to do one of three things to grow your handmade business: (1) train others (either employees or contractors) to help you make the products you sell; (2) offer “how to” information products along with handmade products; or (3) add complementary business models within your existing retail business model to boost sales.

A baker kneading dough for breadThis post shares other types of business models (excluding wholesale, another great business model) you can choose from.

1. Customized products

If your customers like your core line of products, you can offer them in customized versions at a premium price. You already have most, if not all, of the ingredients and supplies to do this. Set up a basic ordering structure, a time frame, minimum payment requirements, etc. Use your newsletter and blog to let customers know you can customize products for them and share the pricing differences and the extra special attention they get when you create products in scents designed just for them.

GCD Spa does a good job of this, offering a core line of products and making custom options available and easy to choose from.

A variation on this theme is to offer a very high end product that costs you a bit more to make, but which allows you to increase your profit margin exponentially because you can charge much more for the product. For example, Cirque offers a $40 bottle of nail polish made with 24 karat gold left flake. Sure, it costs a bit more to produce, but the increase in perceived customer value allows you to maximize your profit margin by charging more for the product.

2. Memberships

Launch a “product of the month” club, or a “limited edition club,” where you offer a bulk discount for retail customers who buy quantities in advance and pay a little more for guaranteed delivery of your handmade goodies throughout the year, without them having to place an order. Sometimes called “subscription services,” another spin on this idea is to create a loyalty or membership program where you offer year-long discounts to people who become “members of your brand.”

Your most loyal followers pay an annual membership fee to enjoy a discount on orders all year, along with special perks as you make them available — to members only.

Some examples are Carol’s Daughter’s “Friends of the Family” membership program, and the Level Naturals monthly “Good Box.”

3. Community

Use the Internet to create your own social network or forum where people who love your products gather to talk about their shared likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, and concerns. You can use everything from public or private Facebook groups or pages to services like vbulletin and Ning to do this. The possibilities are endless. Carol’s Daughter’s “Transitioning Movement” site is a good example of this type of community. You can sell ads at these sites and use them to increase brand awareness and create opportunities to create collaborative new products with members of the community and industry colleagues. (Note: Martha recently migrated the community to a Facebook page … though there’s not much going on there at the moment …) While I see this as a super idea for any handmade product, I see special opportunities for businesses selling mineral makeup and ethnic hair care products.

4. Share “How We Make”

Unlike the examples above, this model does not have to be a direct sale. It can be more of a marketing model than a completely new business model. It involves publishing a complimentary monthly e-book or e-report about the ingredients used in your products, and how you incorporate them into the products your customers love. Each month, create a new short booklet and make it available to your customers and prospects in PDF format. Use this to grow your list.

Joan Morais does this very well, offering lots of different types of short “how to” e-books at reasonable prices, and rotating the ones that are available for free each month. This strategy allows you to bring more people into your sphere of influence, while also building your credibility as an expert in your field (which always creates new business opportunities for you). People like buying products (especially handmade ones) from people they know they can trust. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research and people will be more inclined to come to you for their product needs and wants.

5. Sell supplies

The examples above help you sell existing products to retail customers. The “sell supplies” model discussed here is a step removed from that. Unlike the above examples, you will need to expand your list from retail consumers to friends and colleagues in your industry. This is not a huge stretch since you are probably connected to tons of them on Facebook.

The idea here is not to become a big time supplier, but to systematize the sale of a few of the higher end and more exotic ingredients you must buy in bulk in order to maintain a profit margin, and sell those ingredients to your colleagues at prices that beat the huge suppliers you buy from. I’m not suggesting you go into business competing with your supplier (though many a successful small business has started this way …), but really just that you create a temporary measure to boost your profit margin until the sales of your products using particular ingredients reach a point where they can support themselves. Choose 5 or 6 of your top high priced ingredients — ones that are easy to ship and which weigh little but cost a lot. The best examples include things like high priced fruit extracts and mica used in mineral makeup and nail polish.

6. Affiliate programs

You know these when you see them — Amazon is the biggest and most well known example. Invite people to sell your products as affiliates, earning a commission on each product they sell. This is admittedly not my favorite business model, but several people I know make a decent amount of money as affiliates selling other people’s products, and they don’t have to change how they do business or make products to add this. You’ll need a reliable affiliate tracking platform to track your affiliates’s sales, and the amount you owe them for those sales. I have heard good things about iDevAffiliate.

7. Events

This is hot and getting hotter by the minute, as the interest in all things local continues to grow. You can host events, either on your own or with other Indies, where your products are featured. For example, this past holiday season, IBN member Dawn Fitch of Pooka Pure and Simple hosted a Holiday Ladies Night Out with a few other IBN members in her area. They charged $25 for people to come into the Pooka Boutique and shop. (Yes, people paid to enter the store to spend more money …) Tickets had to be purchased in advance and included fun socializing and music, handsome young men to greet guests at the door and take their coats, and a coupon for a complimentary holiday beverage. Check out the flyer for the event.

Another example is a supplier member who opened up her warehouse parking lot a few times a quarter so people could bring their own containers and load up on suppliers at bulk prices. Ingredients were weighed “salad bar style,” and people in the local community met each other and had a great time.

Of course, you could offer classes to teach people how to make the products you sell. (Indie Business Network offers teacher’s insurance for this!) One of our members who does this well is Candance Sweeney and her Nakee Naturals Green Goddess Spa Parties and Workshops.

As you can probably tell, these suggestions are not just for handmade business owners. Anyone who has a business in any industry, and who has a desire to grow and add additional income in a natural way, will be excited by at least one of these ideas.

You Have To Be Ready, and Plan, Plan, PLAN

Of course, not every business is at a time in its evolution where adding new business models make sense. You have to grow into this. Don’t do it too early or you’ll be terribly sidetracked and end up losing not only money, but probably some sanity too.

I want you to get into the habit of zooming out and planning for five years down the road instead of just five months down the road. Putting these ideas into your “knapsack of possibilities” now will help train you to recognize an opportunity to capitalize on them in the future.

Remember, skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.

The Differences Between a Business Plan & Business Model

Every successful small business owner has engaged in some sort of business planning. Whether you are identifying your newest marketing strategy or planning a customer retention campaign, your business strategies must be geared around your business plan and business model to generate overall success.

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Business Model

Your small business’ business model ascertains how your business makes money. It identifies the services that your customers value and shows the reciprocation of funds for the services your small business renders to your customers. Of course, your small business may have more than one method of generating income. Still, the business model simplifies the money process by focusing on the largest income generator. For instance, a grocery store sells many items. It may also provide additional services, such as lottery and check cashing. The business model only recognizes the majority income generator, which is the sale of grocery inventory. Therefore, the business model will reflect the sale of groceries to the customer, which generates income at the time of the customer’s purchase. The customer benefits from the wide selection of inventory and your small business enjoys the profits of the wide inventory selection.

Business Plan

The business plan provides the details of your business. It takes the focus of the business model and builds upon it. It explains the equipment and staff needed to meet the details of the business model. It also explains the marketing strategy of your small business, or how your business will attract and retain customers, and deal with the competition. Furthermore, the business plan explains the financial stability of your small business at a particular point in time, as well as in the forecasted future. Overall, the business plan supports the business model and explains the steps needed to achieve the goals of that model.

Interdependency

The business plan is completely dependent upon the business model. The business model explains the flow of money within the company and the business plan the structure needed to obtain that flow of money. If you change the business model, you will also need to change the business plan. Although the entire business plan may not require change, you may have to address changes in staff, equipment, location or marketing. These changes may also require changes within the financials if additional purchases or other drastic changes are required.

Change

Change is a common force in the business world. Small businesses must be able to adapt to the changes of the industry and the demands of its customers. Failure to adapt to this change can result in the loss of customers and decreased profit margins. It is important that your decisions regarding change align to your business model to avoid wasting time and resources. In addition, it is important that you update your business plan to reflect your small business’ changes. Updating your business plan will not only help to keep you on track with your business’ goals and missions, it will help you to benchmark your business’ progress, and develop new or revised strategies towards success.

How to Compare a Business Model With a Competitive Strategy

To make money, your business must provide something that customers want or need, and must get the word out to a critical mass of consumers. Reaching the right customers involves setting your offerings apart from those of your competition through an effective competitive strategy. Your business model provides the basis for your competitive strategy, defining what you promote and where you target your promotional efforts. Comparing business model and competitive strategy offers an opportunity to craft a consistent message, using your unique strengths to draw the right clientele.

Listen closely to customers to understand their needs and preferences.

SWOT Analysis Comparison

A SWOT analysis outlines your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — and can assist in comparing your current competitive strategy against your business plan. Strengths and weaknesses are internal qualities, determined by who you are and how you have chosen to operate your company. Opportunities and threats relate to the business climate in which your company operates. Compare business model and marketing strategy through a SWOT analysis to determine whether your message reflects your core strengths and whether your outreach efforts successfully set your offerings apart, addressing customer concerns and standing out from the competition.

Target Market Comparison

It’s pointless to market technical manuals to consumers who can’t change their own light bulbs. Your business model should be based on a clear understanding of who is most likely to pay for your products and services. If your marketing strategy is consistent with your business model, your outreach efforts will be targeted towards defining target market demographics, understanding how these consumers absorb information, and positioning your offerings where these potential customers are most likely to find them.

Pricing Strategy Comparison

The price you charge for your product should aim at the sweet spot that provides you with a livelihood while also fitting the budget of your target market. Compare the pricing element of your business model with the pricing element of your marketing strategy by evaluating your prices relative to those of your competition. Your price should reflect your strengths, challenges and priorities. For example, if you value quality and pay close attention to detail, you will likely charge a high price that sets your offerings apart and communicates how product benefits justify the additional expense.

Product Features Comparison

Whether looking at sales results or projections for the coming year, positioning desired features at a competitive price can generate scenarios for product offerings. As you have developed your product or service, you have likely tailored it to meet customer needs by adding or eliminating features. For example, if your product will be used most often by children, it must be small enough to fit in their hands. Compare business model and marketing strategy with regard to product features by placing these features in context, determining whether they are effective and tinkering with them to enhance user experience and craft a relevant marketing message.

Fundamental Facts about Business Models

This article is based on the free eBook "Business Models - Networking, Innovating and Globalizing"

I am sure you’ve heard the term business model before. But can you honestly say you know what exactly it is about? In short: a business model is a sustainable way of doing business. Here sustainability stresses the ambition to survive over time and create a successful, perhaps even profitable, entity in the long run.

The field of business models is gaining more and more importance. It is, for example, becoming a core management discipline alongside accounting, finance, organization etc. and we soon expect to see teaching modules on business models entering leading Masters and MBA programmes. This is just one of the reasons why we’ll take a closer look at what a business model is all about.

(One possible) verbal definition of a business model

A business model describes the coherence in the strategic choices which facilitates the handling of the processes and relations which create value on both the operational, tactical and strategic levels in the organization. The business model is therefore the platform which connects resources, processes and the supply of a service which results in the fact that the company is profitable in the long term.

Ryanair as an example of a business model

One of the best examples of a business model that has changed an existing industry is Ryanair, which has essentially restructured the business model of the airline industry. As the air transport markets have matured, incumbent companies that have developed sophisticated and complex business models now face tremendous pressure to find less costly approaches that meet broad customer needs with minimal complexity in products and processes. While the generic strategy of Ryanair can be denoted as a low-price strategy, this does not render much insight into the business model of the company.

The low-cost option is per se open to all existing airlines, and many already compete alongside Ryanair on price. However, Ryanair was among the first airline companies to mold its business platform to create a sustainable low-price business. It is the “no-service business model”. In fact, the business model is so well thought through that even the arrogance and attitude of the top management matches the rest of the business. But they can make moneyin an industry that has been under pressure for almost a decade, and for this they deserve recognition. Ryanair’s business model narrative is the story of a novel flying experience – irrespective of the attitude of the customer after the ordeal.

The 6 parameters that make up a business model

In 2002 Chesbrough & Rosenbloom tried to corner the important aspects to be considered in order to comprehensively describe the business model of a company.

They define six elements which make up the business model:

  1. Articulate the value proposition, that is, the value created for users by the offering based on the technology
  1. Identify a market segment, that is, the users to whom the technology is useful and for what purpose
  1. Define the structure of the value chain within the firm required to create and distribute the offering
  1. Estimate the cost structure and profit potential of producing the offering, given the value proposition and value chain structure chosen
  1. Describe the position of the firm within the value network linking suppliers and customers, including identification of potential complementors and competitors
  1. Formulate the competitive strategy by which the innovating firm will gain and hold advantage over rivals

Great business models start with the right questions

In order to start working with clarifying the business model of a company or an organization, one can start off by asking questions such as:

  • Which value creation proposition are we trying to sell to our customers and the users of our products?
  • Which connections are we trying to optimize through the value creation of the company?
  • In which way is the product/service of the company unique in comparison to those of major competitors?
  • Are there any critical connections between the different phases of value creation undertaken?
  • Can we describe the activities that we set in motion in order to become better at what we do?
  • Which resources, systems and competences must we attain in order to be able to mobilize our strategy?
  • What do we do in relation to ensuring access to and developing the necessary competences?
  • Which risks can undermine the success of the chosen Business Model?
  • What can we do to control and minimize these?

Definition of Business Model

This describes the method or means by which a company tries to capture value from its business. A business model may be based on many different aspects of a company, such as how it makes, distributes, prices or advertises its products.

http://www.innovationmanagement.se/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/%E2%80%98Borrow%E2%80%99-Business-Models-to-Reinvent-Your-Industry.jpgThe business model concentrates on value creation. It describes a company’s or organisation’s core strategy to generate economic value, normally in the form of revenue.

The model provides the basic template for a business to compete in the market place, it provides a template on how the firm is going to make money, and how the firm will work with internal players (firm’s employees and managers) and external players (stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and investors).

The business model indicates how the firm will convert inputs (capital, raw materials and labour) into outputs (total value of goods produced) and make a return that is greater than the opportunity cost of capital and delivers a return to its investors. This means that a business model’s success is reflected in its ability to create returns that are greater than the (opportunity) cost of capital, invested by its shareholders and bondholders.

Business models are an essential part of strategy – they provide the fundamental link between product markets, within the industry, and the markets for the factors of production such as labour and capital.

Any resilient business model must be able to create and sustain returns for its investors over time, otherwise, it is likely to go out of business or fashion.

Example
The ‘razors and blades’ model used by companies such as Gilette, in which a basic product (the razor) is sold cheaply, but an essential add-on or consumable (the blade) is sold at a high price once the customer has been lured in.

Another example is a mobile phone company may sell handsets (the bait) at a reduced price while signing up customers to buy calls over the period of a contract (the hook).

Also General Motors, for many years, had an unsustainable business model as its returns did not match or exceed its cost of capital. Profitability was focused on the financing of cars, i.e. providing financing to its automotive customers, such as loans to buy the cars, through its finance subsidiary GMAC, rather than by designing and manufacturing sought after cars that are also cost competitive.

When the financial crisis struck, this model encountered problems, and as GMAC had to seek a US government bailout, the company’s already precarious condition turned into bankruptcy.

Business Models Are Under Attack

Most interviewees told us that their old ways of doing business were under serious threat.   Most often, this boiled down to how technology, and the competition enabled by it, is transforming their customer relationships.

UntitledMany consumers have come to expect faster, better and personally tailored responses to their individual needs.  They have grown accustomed to highly flexible, quick service providers like Amazon and Google.  They can report problems, check accounts, order products and make payments easily.  Today, a consumer or a business customer also can find providers of many products and services on the web, and compare their options.  And they can do it almost anywhere with smart mobile devices.  Those expectations are driving our client organizations to completely rethink how they relate to the outside world, as well as to each other as business-to-business vendors and buyers.

Leaders Must Be Increasingly Flexible and Innovative

Evolving business models will place a premium on organizational leaders who are adaptable, strategic and even ingenious in how they recognize and respond to a changing world. New technology can yield better, real time customer information, drive growth, reach new markets and create efficiencies and cost savings.  Much more than simply having a web page or a customer portal, organizations must look critically at all of their capabilities and limitations, especially in light of customers’ convenience and their greater access to information and to competitors.   Leaders must recognize a genuine opportunity or threat and be ready to act on it.  And, they will need to bring along their employees through both informing them of the urgency and motivating real change.

A leader who relies blindly on what has worked before, however successfully, runs the risk of being passed by competitors and left behind.  But there are risks for both fast followers and for trailblazers.  What will happen if an innovation bet fails?  Our interviewees cited the need for leadership courage, but courage balanced with clear strategic thinking.

Driving Appropriate Culture Change

These challenges and leadership needs naturally highlight the importance of skillful culture change.  An organization that fails to respond to a changing business model will see its market share, its profits and its reputation dwindle.  It will suffer demoralizing losses, both financially and in its human capital.  Employees will be required to shoulder the burden of new and different work demands, possibly with fewer co-workers, and a less certain future.  Some will mentally check out.  Others will vote with their feet and leave entirely, particularly in an improving job market.

Successful leaders must get ahead of the changes.  They must become masters of identifying the critical performance enablers of the existing culture, be it outstanding service, leading edge products or operational excellence, as well as the major change inhibitors.  Even more, they must be able to translate that understanding into a compelling view of the future and identify the right activities, policies and decision rules which will drive their organizations forward.

Too much reliance on the past will paralyze an organization that should be in motion.  Too much emphasis on new and different thinking and behavior could take it in entirely the wrong direction.   Leaders for the future must strike the right balance between the old and the new, and demonstrate the will to take action and drive change.   Leading towards the future will not favor the timid.

Optimizing Talent

Of course, culture change alone will not guarantee achieving success.  Part of instituting a new business model necessarily requires blowing up the old organizational structure.  It means reshuffling teams, roles and responsibilities, upgrading talent and placing new expectations and rewards in front of many employees.  Future leaders must be ready to face the inevitable HR consequences of change:  people feeling passed over or pulled in unpleasant new directions, hiring new and essential talent in spite of opposition, and moving employees out of their comfort zones.

Our interviewees told us that the talent implications won’t stop with just these leadership demands. They also include identifying the people who can be a foundation for the future and grooming them to be ready for it.  Several respondents told us how important it is to reach deeper into the organization to identify the leaders of the future, even if they weren’t from the traditional places.  They described the critical value of fully developing and utilizing female employees and minorities.  And they implied that some of the best talent may reside in younger people, too.

All of these considerations shine a different light on talent management.  Rather than having an exclusive focus on the rare, high-level “franchise players,” what emerges is an evident priority to look more broadly and deeply for essential future talents.  It means being talent scouts in the truest sense of that phrase.  And it means that senior leadership must think differently about talent and how to invest in it.  Saving money in the short-term on salaries and administration inevitably will result in higher costs later as the organization under performs.  It will simply delay the consequences and boost current profitability.  Our interviewees told us that their leaders need to think differently, and more often, about genuine, full-fledged talent management.

Putting It Together

We got terrific benefits as our clients shared their thoughts and concerns about the future with us.   Now you, too, have the opportunity to ponder what they told us.

How does this picture fit your organization?  Do you expect to face similar challenges?  Will the future place new demands on your leadership and your employees?  Are you ready to confront tomorrow and to make the necessary changes?  Or, will you be left behind?

Business Models vs. Strategy vs. Tactics

No three concepts are of as much use to managers or as misunderstood as strategy, business models, and tactics. Many use the terms synonymously, which can lead to poor decision making.

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/strategyandbusinessmodel-130425091417-phpapp02/95/strategy-business-model-and-business-plan-4-638.jpg?cb=1366881345To be sure, the three are interrelated. Whereas business models refer to the logic of the company—how it operates and creates and captures value for stakeholders in a competitive marketplace—strategy is the plan to create a unique and valuable position involving a distinctive set of activities. That definition implies that the enterprise has made a choice about how it wishes to compete in the marketplace. The system of choices and consequences is a reflection of the strategy, but it isn’t the strategy; it’s the business model. Strategy refers to the contingent plan about which business model to use. The key word is contingent; strategies contain provisions against a range of contingencies (such as competitors’ moves or environmental shocks), whether or not they take place. While every organization has a business model, not every organization has a strategy—a plan of action for contingencies that may arise.

Consider Ryanair. The airline was on the brink of bankruptcy in the 1990s, and the strategy it chose to reinvent itself was to become the Southwest Airlines of Europe. The new logic of the organization—its way of creating and capturing value for stakeholders—was Ryanair’s new business model.

Changing strategic choices can be expensive, but enterprises still have a range of options to compete that are comparatively easy and inexpensive to deploy. These are tactics—the residual choices open to a company by virtue of the business model that it employs. Business models determine the tactics available to compete in the marketplace. For instance, Metro, the world’s largest newspaper, has created an ad-sponsored business model that dictates that the product must be free. That precludes Metro from using price as a tactic.

Think of a business model as if it were an automobile. Different car designs function differently—conventional engines operate quite differently from hybrids, and standard transmissions from automatics—and create different value for drivers. The way the automobile is built places constraints on what the driver can do; it determines which tactics the driver can use. A low-powered compact would create more value for the driver who wants to maneuver through the narrow streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter than would a large SUV, in which the task would be impossible. Imagine that the driver could modify the features of the car: shape, power, fuel consumption, seats. Such modifications would not be tactical; they would constitute strategies because they would entail changing the machine (the “business model”) itself. In sum, strategy is designing and building the car, the business model is the car, and tactics are how you drive the car.

Strategy focuses on building competitive advantage by defending a unique position or exploiting a valuable and idiosyncratic set of resources. Those positions and resources are created by virtuous cycles, so executives should develop business models that activate those cycles. That’s tough, especially because of their interactions with those of other players such as competitors, complementors, customers, and suppliers that are all fighting to create and capture value too. That’s the essence of competitiveness—and developing strategy, tactics, or innovative business models has never been easy.

Five Viable Online Home Business Ideas Today

There are many online home business ideas that can get you hooked. These ideas will not only make you earn plenty of income; they can also give you the conveniences of running an Internet business. You do not have to be bossed around for you to run an online home business; you are the boss. You can set up any schedule that you choose. You can relax as much as you want, provided that you still keep a close eye to your business matters. Most importantly, you can try out the online home business ideas in your head, instead of being involved in others’ business ideas when you are in an office.

That said, let us take a look of five online home business ideas that you can try today, along with their corresponding benefits:

Freelancing – Freelancing is one of the most viable home business ideas today. Freelancing simply means that you are going to offer your services to other people. Though for most instances an Internet connection is required for your freelancing business to take off, as long as you can build a client base, you are okay with freelancing. The Internet, however, is so vast, so it pays off if you are going to set up a business website for your freelancing.

Affiliate Marketing – In affiliate marketing, you promote the products of another business through your website. You make informative web content that will get customers to buy the products. Once customers have visited your website and bought the products, you are sure to get commissions. The more you work with your affiliate marketing, the more commissions you will get. You can work for many businesses at once through affiliate marketing.Blogging – Despite the proliferation of thousands of blogs in cyberspace, blogging still remains one of the hippest online home business ideas for you to try out. Just write down informative content, then promote your blog with online marketing techniques. Then once your blog gains some renown, you can sell advertising – that’s the way to make money with your blog.

Selling Products – Setting up an online store and selling merchandise can be a decent source of income. Selling products on auction sites can also do. Selling products can also be an expandable enterprise; you can use the capital that you get for growing your business. Selling products can be one of the most fruitful online home business ideas ever there. You can sell nearly anything that you want to sell – you can be sure that there’s someone around the world who’ll like what you sell.

Data Entry – Data entry is not only something that is done in a regular office; it can also become one of the online home business ideas that are the easiest to pull off. Just find data entry jobs on a regular basis, then start entering those data to where they’re supposed to go. You just need to be a fast, accurate typist who can spend long hours in front of a computer.

So there; you now have online home business ideas to choose from. Just choose the one you think you can handle best, then you do your best and let the money trickle in.

5 Business Model Components Every Entrepreneur Needs

Is your business on a collision course with a train, but yet you’re 100% focused on getting more people to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter?

Let me enlighten you: Big mistake.

If your core fundamentals are out of whack, so is your business.

Danny Iny, Founder and CEO of Firepole Marketing, is a guy who sees this everyday. And because of this, he is on a mission. As he stares down the face of one business failure after another, he sees major flaws in the way entrepreneursare taught. And yes — he is taking action to change it.

Dubbed the ‘Business Ignition Bootcamp’, Iny’s focus is to help business owners break through the madness and escape failure.

And guess what? Iny opened up the first module of his bootcamp so I could take a peek and share it with you.

Based on the 5 key Business Model Components from the best selling book ‘Getting To Plan B’ by authors Randy Komisar and John Mullins, module one addresses the importance of these 5 components on your road to entrepreneurial bliss:

1: Your Revenue Model

In a nutshell, this is your strategy to generate revenue. What you plan to sell, and what will convince people to buy. Value propositions, positioning, effective messaging, product/market fit. For example, when I say “Victoria’s Secret”, what comes to mind? Yes — good or bad they have a clear understanding of their revenue model and communicate it well. Although most business owners get the importance of this in theory — why do so many struggle? Perhaps because they really don’t get it after all. Do you?

2: Your Gross Margin Model

Yes — important for you to know how much of the pie you get to keep from each sale. Do you know your piece of the pie? For example, Walmart and Costco know they run low gross margins. Their value game is one of low pricing, so they can’t mark up their products by an exorbitant amount and still play the value card. However, let’s look at the legal service industry. It has, on average, a gross margin of 93.22 percent, according to Butler Consultants. Although I am not advocating you jump into the legal game, it’s critical for you to understand your own gross margin model. Can you see why?

3: Your Operating Model

If you’re Costco, it’s slash and burn the expenses. Which is why they operate out of huge bare warehouses with pallets stacked high of goods. No thrills, no frills, stack ‘em high, watch ‘em fly. However, if you’re in the legal service industry, it’s all about high style and lavish surroundings. Ever visited a big law firm on the top floor of a downtown New York highrise where both the views and service is breathtaking? Both businesses operate and make decisions based on the knowledge of their operating model. Do you have a clear understanding of yours?

4: Your Working Capital Model

Indeed, ‘cash is king’. Do you understand your cash flow requirements? As you may or may not know, cash flow is significantly different than ‘revenue’. For example, if you operate a bricks-n-mortar retail store on the main street in your town, you experience first hand the need for cash. You must spend cash to fill your store with product so it’s available when a customer walks in ready to buy. Thus, inventory sucks up a tremendous amount of your working capital. However, if you’re an author who strictly sells downloadable books online, your need for working capital is significantly different. Laptop, pair of pajamas and an account with Amazon can theoretically produce millions of downloads to create a significant cash river.

5: Your Financing (or Investment) Model

Number one roadblock I hear business owners complain about is lack of capital. Yes — it sometimes does take money to make money. But not always. So to understand the difference is key. For example, say you want to build a better hotel chain than Marriott or Hilton. Well, I can tell you this — you’re going to need some serious upfront financing to even stand a chance to pull it off. However, let’s say you plan to change the world by teaching people how to play the ukulele. Buy a video camera, launch a WordPress website and watch your video lesson series at $79 a pop take off like wildfire. Total capital investment? About 500 bucks.

Does business model innovation deserve more love?

business-model-innovationWhen you think of innovation it’s easy to slip into thoughts about some new technology or other.  Of course, that isn’t the be all and end all of innovation whatsoever, and it certainly isn’t the most important kind.

I’ve written previously about the valuable role process innovation often plays in converting new technologies into something useful and valuable in the way we work and behave.  What’s more, whilst buying a new piece of technology is often incredibly quick, changing our processes and behaviours often takes considerably longer.

We have technologies emerging that can fundamentally change the way our organizations operate, but too many organizations are simply dumping these tools onto the same industrial style processes that existed previously.  The social technologies are generally good enough already, it is the organizational processes that will need to evolve for the productivity gains from social business to fully materialize.

Of course, process innovation isn’t the only unloved element of the innovation landscape.  Business model innovation is often just as unloved as the un-sexy sibling of technological wizardry.  A new paper underlines why we should be giving our business models as much attention as our technology however.

The research, led by Wharton’s Raffi Amit, suggests that business model innovation can be especially valuable in challenging times as it usually involves recombining existing resources within a firm rather than expensive R&D.

For instance, the iPod was a change in business model for Apple, because it allowed them not just to make money from selling the gadget, but also from how people are using the gadget.

The researchers propose a mnemonic called NICE (Novelty, Lock-in, Complementaries), by which managers could assess the current state of their business model.

The paper found that the process used by IDEO for designing products could equally be applied to that of business model design.  This results in a five phase process approach being created:

  1. Observe – how do people use your product or service?  What do they like and dislike about it?  When do they use it and how are buying decisions made?
  2. Synthesize – take the information you’ve gathered above and pull it together into something tangible.
  3. Generation – you then generate various models of how you could potentially do business
  4. Refinement – these models are then refined by vigorous thought and analysis
  5. Implementation – before the most robust is then implemented

Of course, this process should never be a one off event but rather an ongoing process of sense and respond.  The paper suggests that to do this requires employees to shift from a silo’d mindset towards something more holistic, whereby they see things from an organizational perspective.

From a managerial perspective, there’s a need to shift away from thinking as design as something that only applies to products towards something that applies equally to business models.

Generally speaking however, organizations lack the capacity internally to undertake this continuous analysis of their business model, and so organizations need to build this capacity in order to stay on top of changes in their environment.

Does your own organization have the capacity to do this?  How important is business model analysis to you?

What are some examples of different types of business models in major industries?

As an important aspect of a comprehensive business strategy, a company’s business model is a representation of its core business practices. Despite the size or industry in which a business operates, a business model details how an organization creates and delivers products or services, specific business processes, infrastructure, customer acquisition strategies and the intended customer base. Brick-and-mortar and e-commerce form two categories under which business can operate. In the current business environment, business models come in a variety of forms that include direct sales, franchise, freemium and subscription models.

Business Model concept on sticky notes sun

Direct Sales

Under a direct sales business model, sales of products or services generate revenue through a network of salespeople who sell directly to customers. Typically, no fixed retail location exists under a direct sales business model. Instead, individual salespeople are connected with a large parent company and given the tools to become individual entrepreneurs.

Direct sales takes place through presentations or demonstrations of the product or service in a one-on-one setting or during a hosted party at a prospect’s home or business. Business owners in direct sales earn a portion of their sales, while the company providing the product retains the remaining revenue. Companies such as Avon, Arbonne and Herbalife are examples of the direct sales business model.

Franchise Model

Under a franchise business model, business owners purchase another organization’s business strategy. Instead of creating a new product and the distribution chain to deliver that product to consumers, the franchisee purchases an ownership stake in a business model that has already been successfully developed. The company offering its proprietary product or service, its business processes and its brand is known as the franchisor, and it benefits from a reduction in capital output used to build new locations.

Franchise owners earn a portion of the revenue generated by their locations, and the franchisor collects licensing fees in addition to a percentage of sales revenue from the franchisee. Popular companies that depend on the franchise business model for growth include McDonald’s, Subway and Starbucks.

Freemium Model

For companies that offer personal or business services via the Internet, the freemium business model is common. Under a freemium model, business give away a service at no cost to the consumer as a way to establish the foundation for future transactions. Companies that offer a basic-level service for free build relationships with customers and eventually offer advanced services as add-ons or advertisement-free options at a cost. The freemium model tends to work well for Internet-based businesses with little customer acquisition costs but high lifetime value. Spotify and Skype both operate under a freemium business model.

Subscription Model

Businesses that operate in an industry where customer acquisition costs are high may operate under a subscription or recurring revenue business model. The objective of a subscription business model is to retain customers under a long-term contract and secure recurring revenue from repeat purchase of a product or service.

Companies operating online create subscription models that require the customer to sign up for automatic payment plans, and they may charge a cancellation fee for a contract that ends prior to the preset time frame. Credit monitoring organizations such as Experian and Equifax use a subscription business model, as do utility and phone companies.

Defining Your Business Model

A business model isn’t something you build from the ground up. When management-types ask about a business model — as in, “So what’s your business model?” — they really want an answer to a much more direct and basic question: “How do you plan to make money?”

https://bmfiddle.com/img/books/business-model-you.png

Behind that question is a lineup of other questions:

  • Who’s your target customer?
  • What customer problem or challenge do you solve?
  • What value do you deliver?
  • How will you reach, acquire, and keep customers?
  • How will you define and differentiate your offering?
  • How will you generate revenue?
  • What’s your cost structure?
  • What’s your profit margin?

During the 1990s, when the business world was buzzing with talk about a new economy and new business rules, people — even business gurus — seemed to forget the part about making money, and businesspeople sidelined the use of business models. But when the dot-com boom began to bust, suddenly everybody started asking about business models again.

Staying in the black

Sooner rather than later in the business-planning process, you need to invest a good chunk of time delving into the nitty-gritty details of your company’s finances — your income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, budgeting, and all the details that can make or break your company’s future. At this point, however, your assignment is way more basic: Figure out where the money will come from. Who will pay? How much? How often? And what portion of every sale will make its way to your bottom line in the form of — here’s the magic word — profit.

Following are terms that you hear on your journey to profitability:

  • In the black: If your revenues exceed your costs, you’re in the black.
  • Red ink: If you’re not in the black, your company is losing money, which means that you could be drowning in red ink.
  • Fixed costs: Your business will have plenty of costs — from renting an office and buying equipment to paying salaries and buying supplies. Some of these costs — office rental or salaries, for example — don’t change often and must be paid on a regular basis, no matter how good (or bad) your company is looking. These are fixed costs or overhead.
  • Variable costs: Other costs, called variable costs, fluctuate with your sales volume. They include the materials that go into producing your product or service.

To keep out of the red ink, you need enough money coming in to cover all your costs. But to break into the black, you need to price your goods and services to cover your costs plus a little (or more than a little) for your bottom line. That’s called profit. Don’t leave your business plan without it!

Timing your future

How you expect to make money is one part of your business model, but when you expect the money to roll in is another important factor. Some companies run up costs and spend cash months (even years) before a revenue stream begins to flow. For that reason, your business model must include a timeline that takes the following into account:

  • The upfront costs you expect to incur when setting up your business
  • The source of funds to pay for your upfront costs
  • A schedule showing when you expect revenues to pour in

The question of timing isn’t only for big companies with factories to build and products to design. Timing can have a real impact on businesses of any size.

Knowing how customers pay

An effective business model also takes into account how customers pay. When customers buy a product or service, they typically have a number of payment options. The most common choices include paying in one lump sum or spreading the purchase price over monthly installments. In some businesses, customers also have the choice to pay as they go or to prepay for unlimited use of a product or service. Other times, a company invites customers to buy or to rent, to finance their purchases, or to lease products instead of purchasing them.

Each option has financial consequences that affect your business model. As you establish the purchasing options you plan to offer customers, consider how each selection will affect your revenue picture.

Creating a business model that works

Some business models are as old as the marketplace itself; others are as new as the Internet. Some have weathered the test of time; others are almost experimental.

The simplest model involves creating a product and selling it directly to customers. Other models involve selling wholesale to retailers, selling through distributors, licensing products to other companies, selling online, selling through auctions, and countless other alternatives. No one-size-fits-all solution exists. In fact, most companies use some combination of business models to arrive at a unique model.

5 Ideas To Increase Productivity & Make A Difference In Business

1. Get Clear On What You Do
If you are not clear on what your big mission is then you are more likely to get distracted. It can be that simple. You need to spend a little time each day getting clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it. And understand that this is a gradual uncovering. Each day, you may find that you are just a little more clear but does that mean you wait until total clarity? Of course not. You begin anyway and as you consistently do the work and experience more of what you think you want, then you get clearer about what you want in your business and life and what you do not want.

Clarity around your big purpose keeps your eyes on the prize and you stay on path and it helps with the next point which is to prioritize.

2. Prioritize
Each day, as you get clear, write out the actions you need to take to move yourself forward. And then prioritize them. Keep your eyes firmly on the prize as you see it that day and then ask yourself the question “How is it that I am doing blah, blah, blah?” You fill in the gap of your vision for your life.

When you ask yourself that question, your brain gives you ideas of what you did to get to your ideal place. I hope this makes sense. This is starting with the end in mind. Too many people start with the beginning in mind. How can you get to where you want to go by doing exactly the same as you have always done? Your actions to date have brought you here so you need to implement new actions in order to move to your new destination. So, picture yourself living a life you love and having built a business doing what you know your mission is and ask yourself how you got there. Write down the steps as they occur to you and begin doing them.

3. Simultaneous or sequential?
In the western world, we are addicted to step-by-step plans. We want growth to be linear. We mostly think that you must do one thing and then the next thing. Unfortunately, hardly anyone has that much time on the planet. IF you have a big idea, a big goal, a big mission to fulfill, you will find that you never create that much traction if you choose to be sequential.

You must take a simultaneous approach where you do a few things at once. Yes, this may mean realizing that you cannot do it all alone but that is fine. Get someone else or a few other people to help you out. Sell them on your vision and see if you can get them to volunteer and if that is out of the question (which it more likely will be unless they are family members!) then choose to pay someone to help you with some things. No matter how productive you become, you cannot do everything and still the demand is on you to be simultaneous.

4. Add in some physical exercise
I know you think you have no time to do anything else but if you already feel you are spinning wheels and getting nowhere fast, why not include some physical activity into your day. The time away form your business and the blood flowing to your brain could make a huge difference to your creativity and innovation. And you need a whole lot of that when building a big idea.

It is tough at the beginning not to consider this a waste of your time but when you start to experience the increased productivity that comes from taking time away from working, working, working, you may be surprised to see how much more you get done by looking after your body.

5. It is easier to change the direction of a moving vehicle
Get into action!
Don’t stand still waiting for all your ducks to line up perfectly. You get nowhere that way. It is so much easier to pivot if you are already moving. When you are stuck in the mud, waiting for perfect clarity, you cannot know what will work or what will not. You have to actually experience things first and discover what works for you and what does not. And as you determine to keep being productive, you can change direction having experienced something you do not like. Or you can stay on course but ultimately, you have to be moving tofigure thigns out.

Too many people think that clarity is found in trying to figure it out while standing still and trying not to make any mistakes but all that results is that more time is lost and still nothing changes because they have done nothing.

Do not make this mistake. Move, even when uncertain. You will get more certain, the more results you get. Good or bad, they are all feedback to inform your next move.

  Author :Rosemary Nonny Knight

How To Apply For A Small Business Internship

Create the Ideal University Graduate Resume

Just over one and a half million American university students will graduate this year. A percentage will leave without any work experience, but some will begin their post-university job hunt armed with a comprehensive resume. Some graduates will apply for an internship with a small business, mindful that internships often lead to full-time employment.

A good resume should catch the reader’s attention and create a great initial impression. A prospective employer will find it difficult to ignore an excellent resume.

A career expert knows how to form a compelling resume for a recent graduate with some work experience, so what type of information should the ideal resume contain?

A Link to your Professional Profile

Every resume will differ depending on the graduate’s skills. But, the resume should have a link to your professional profile. All graduates should ensure they create at least one online profile and those who work in creative fields should also consider forming an online portfolio. Naturally, the portfolio should contain a backlink to their personal information. A small business internship Melbourne is the first step on the employment ladder, and internships give graduates the opportunity to earn whilst they learn.

Write a Professional Summary

Many American university graduates are tempted to use buzzwords in their professional summary; however, small business recruiters consider words such as “motivated” or “proactive” as fluff. Avoid telling a prospective employer that you are an excellent team player; tell them about the tactics used to make your team successful or how you were acknowledged for your worthy voluntary work. Internship placements are limited, but internships are perfect for graduates looking to further their career.

Enter your Score

Include your examination score in your entry-level resume. Fail to enter your score and you will be asked about it during the interview.

Avoid Mentioning High School
Employers are not interested your achievements prior to university. Any small business employer will be keen to offer an internship to a dynamic graduate. Highlight your recent accomplishments, activities, work experience and other personal accomplishments. Focus on any aspect that supports your job application and hunt down the best graduate internships.

Include Details of Course Work

If you are a job seeker who has completed an internship or any other extra-curricular activities that demonstrate your marketing and sales skills, there is no need to note you have studied the “Principles of Marketing” or taken an “Introduction to Communication”. A small business employer will look at your degree in communications and take this as read. However, students who have no experience of internships should include a list of courses they have taken.

The Use of Pronouns

A percentage of students feel it is right to personalize their resumes, whereas others refrain from using pronouns such as “me” and “I”. Experts state students should avoid using pronouns or referring to themselves in the third person. For example, “He is a recent graduate” or “Shane is seeking the opportunity to”.

Using Action Verbs to Describe Roles and Responsibilities

Look at the example listed above and note that each begins with an action verb. The words fail to mention Shane’s accomplishments. Graduates may have few major achievements or contributions to add to their resumes, but small business employers like to see the use of action verbs. Good action verbs include developed, built, created, led, improved and managed.

There is no need to include a List of Referees

Graduates seeking internships feel bound to state that references are available on request. However, an entry-level professional is allowed to create one page of resume real estate. Add this information and you waste valuable space. If you are invited to attend a face-to-face interview for an internship the small business employers will ask you to provide references.Small Businesses

How to Make a Small Business Famous on the Internet

The days when getting traffic on a newly launched website was so easy, are long gone now. Today it is very difficult for small businesses to get traffic with a limited time as well as budget. This is the main reason why the small businesses become a victim of black hat SEO and up penalizing the websites.

The big question today is,

How small businesses are going to survive in this complicated web of SEO, social media and off-page marketing?

The answer is implementing a few strategies that are correct in order to do SEO, SMO, and other sorts of online marketing. Here are a few of the strategies needed to be done to get a maximum amount of traffic on the website.

1. Claiming Local Listings

Local SEO, a process using which websites are optimized to rank in the top of SERP in the local search. Local SEO is very important for small businesses as they can focus the geo-locations very easily. For claiming the business profile on local SEO, use Google my business. After that provide maps so that the customers can easily navigate to the final destination. Also, make use of the Click-To-Call feature on user’s mobile phones and ask the audience to give reviews so that the customers will read it and it will affect the local search rankings. Getting reviews from satisfied customers also helps in building the credibility of your brand.

2. Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile is the source of local searches. It has also been proved that number of mobile searches has outnumbered desktop searches in almost 10 countries. Also, after mobilegeddon, the businesses should seriously think of responsiveness otherwise get ready to face a drop in search engine rankings. From now on, make sure the template on which the website id getting designed is responsive. This is the main reason why taking web designing services from experts is always recommended.
3. Building Local Citations

Citations can easily be understood as mentions of the business on the web. The mentions can also be in the form of links including the address and contact information of the business.

4. Be active on all social media platforms

Social media is the biggest tool for getting famous online. Therefore, create a business account on Facebook, twitter, Google +, Instagram, Slideshare, LinkedIn, and other. Instead of focusing on only one, pay attention to all and see a drastic increase in the number of online traffic.

The Bottom line

The list mentioned above doesn’t to here, a lot more is there to add. There might be some strategies that work even better for you. Do share them within the comment section. If you are also a small business and are looking for affordable digital marketing services to increase traffic, then contact us. You could also state you opinion/issues in the comments below. We’ll definitely revert.

 

Tips On How To Organize A Home-Based Business

While a home-based business may sound like a luxury you simply can’t afford, there are actually many considerations to take into account, other than the short commute from your bedroom to your home office. Just like any other job, a home business has its benefits, as well as its drawbacks. The following article provides you with all the information you need to decide if a home-based business is for you.

To make sure you aren’t paying more than necessary for your car insurance, be sure to ask about discounts. For example, some drivers might be eligible for reduced rates for passing a defensive driving test. Students can sometimes get discounts for good grades, and seniors who drive less can also get reduced premiums.

Once you’ve decided on a product to sell, do your homework and check out your competition. Look at their prices and study the quality of the goods that they are selling. Make sure not to price yourself out of the market, and figure out how to deliver the best value to your customers.

Set up an advertising and promotional item budget for your home business and make sure you stick to it. Advertising, free products, printing and more can add up quickly. When you stick within your allotted budget, you help your business stay on track. Your budget will grow over time and you will be able to spend more money to promote your business down the line.

It important to have a support network in place when you’re running a home business. It can be a good idea to set up your own home business network to easily communicate with other businesses. The people may not work in the same industry, but you will have one thing in common, the motivation and drive to have a successful home based business.

Join home business forums and discussion groups online. This will allow you to network with others in your field and spread the word about your business. You don’t know where you can make a sale or what the right contact can lead you to.

You should know the product you are selling. Study it, inside and out, before you try to sell it. You may also want to test the product out so you know what it does. This way you will be able to describe it to your customers in a knowledgeable way.

You are likely going to need additional insurance to cover your home business. Check with your insurance agent to learn if there is any insurance that is required by law or that will protect you from any kind of financial fall-out if anything negative was to happen. Your agent will be able to help you or send you to a company that can.

If some people are still using old-fashioned checks to buy your products, deposit them immediately after receiving them. Make a deposit every day instead of having cash around. Always deposit your checks as soon as you get them. Whenever convenient or possible, do your deposits through a human teller, instead of a machine. This helps money go into your accounts without issues.

Do not fall prey to all of the ads that promise you that you can make millions from doing a business within a few weeks. They are not realistic and you would be setting yourself up for disappointment. Understand that you must work hard and stick with it in order to make anything and that the harder you work the more you will make.

From finding a product or service you can market to working around your family’s schedule, starting a home business poses many challenges. However, the perks make it an opportunity well worth considering. The tips in this article can help you decide if working from home offers more pluses or minuses, for your particular situation.

Top 15 Myths About Business

There are a lot of misconceptions, myths, bad advice and outright lies about what it takes to be successful in business.  And most of those are continually spread by people who have never gone into business for themselves.  Unfortunately, some of them are spread by people who went into business, failed at their business, and then were looking for an excuse to shift the blame away from themselves.  Regardless of where you heard them, you will no doubt be familiar with some of the following myths.  You may even have been guilty of passing them along to someone else with the best of intentions.  I used to believe several of these myself, but my own experience, and better yet, learning from others’ experiences, I found that they were false.  Let me share with you 15 of the most common myths about doing business.

In no particular order, the are:

  1. To be successful you have to be first.  This is also sometimes reworded as “the first in, wins”.  While there are some cases where there is such thing as “first mover advantage” it does not guarantee success.  Remember the leading edge is also known as the bleeding edge.  If you had to be first, then explain to me the success of Dell and Microsoft.  Dell was not first in the PC market.  Microsoft was not first with the GUI or the word processor or the spreadsheet, yet it dominates in all those areas.
  2. To be successful, you have to be cheaper.  Oh really?  Please explain to me the success of Nordstrom, Mercedes, and Ferrari.  None of them are the price leader (cheapest) yet all have successful pieces of the market.  Take an SBA (Small Business Administration) course and they will tell you that if your only competetive point is to be cheaper, don’t bother starting your business.  Any dominant company can start a price war and likely wipe you out.  One notable exception to this is Southwest Airlines where they survived price wars because they also had an advantage in lower costs of doing business.  And they are known for friendly service, not just low prices.
  3. I’m a good cook so I should start a restaurant.  This is one of the most abused myths.  It is often brought on or exacerbated by well-meaning friends and family who say things like, “Hey, this meal is fantastic!  You should start a restaurant!”  There is more to running a restaurant than having a good recipe and being able to cook well.  You will also be involved in buying, budgeting, payroll, managing employees, and taxes, just to name a few.  Do you enjoy cooking or do you enjoy running a business?  Maybe you’d make a great chef in someone else’s business.  Or maybe you should get a partner to help with the rest of the business.  Or maybe you’ll learn everything you need to do.  Whatever it is, rest assured there’s more to the restaurant business than just cooking.  This of course is true of every business.  There is more to running an independent programming firm than just writing software.
  4. The customer is always right.  No.  No they’re not.  And sometimes you have to tell them so.  In fact, sometimes they are so wrong that you will actually have to tell them you don’t want them as a customer any more.  It’s a tough thing to do if you only have a couple of customers, but sometimes they cost you more money than you make from them.
  5. I’ll just open my store and people will stream in off the sidewalks and buy from me.  This is also known as the “If you build it, they will come” approach to business.  HA!  You will more likely be out on the sidewalk begging people to come into your store just to look around.  Consider advertising.  Word-of-mouth is the best because it is the most effective and the cheapest.  If you can get personal referrals from friends and family, great!  If you can get free publicity, awesome!  One of the reasons that Amazon.com does as much business as they do is that they have a loud-mouth CEO who went around for several years telling every reporter or anyone who would listen that Amazon is “the world’s largest book store”.  It got them business.  Now they need to work on that profitability thing.
  6. It’s a cool idea.  Everyone will love this.  That may be true, but will they be willing to spend any money on it?  As an entrepreneur, one of the phrases you learn to hate is “That’s a cool idea” when it’s not followed up by “I’ll buy some.”  Just because you like something doesn’t mean enough other people will like it.  A large number of the dot-com busts were cool ideas that were not backed by good business plans, even though they were backed by money.
  7. Ours is better so we’ll be successful.  Many people considered Beta to be a better video recording format than VHS, but VHS won the battle.  Quality is important, but so is marketing and timing.  Remember the Apple Newton?  Today we have TabletPCs.  The Newton was probably the right product at the wrong time.  In my opinion, that is one of Apple’s consistent problems.  They come up with really cool things but are just too far ahead of the market for their new cool thing.
  8. Adding more people to the project will make it go faster.  I run into this all the time in the software business, but it does appear that more and more people are learning the fallacy of this statement.  The truth is that adding more people will make it go faster up to a point.  But more people means more complicated lines of communication.  It also may mean that some productive people currently on the team are slowed down as they help the new people get up to speed.
  9. We’re good friends.  We will work well together / We should form a partnership.  There are certain reasons that your friends are your friends and they don’t necessarily go well with conducting business.  For one thing, friends don’t necessarily have the same work habits.  And it’s easier for a person to take advantage of a friend’s willingness to forgive their laxity.  Before you consider forming a partnership, get a really good lawyer.  Mine reminded me that people act funny when money is involved.  And he refuses to put together the paperwork for a partnership unless they also define the terms for dissolution of the partnership.  Even if people don’t take advantage of each other, things happen.  What if one of you has a major life-changing event happen and no longer wants to participate in the business.  You’re still liable for decisions made by the other party until the partnership is dissolved.
  10. Failure is bad. / Failure is the opposite of success.  This is a myth that is ingrained in us from our schooling where you were graded on an average over the year’s worth of work rather than on whether at the end of the year you really understood the subject or not.  In reality, failure is an integral stepping stone toward success.  How many times did Abraham Lincoln fail in politics before becoming the 16th President of the United States?  How many times did Byrd or Peary fail in their attempts to reach the North and South Poles?  Failure is only a problem when you allow it to be the final stage.  Otherwise it’s just learning.
  11. Knowledge is Power.  Then librarians are the most powerful people in the world.  No disrespect to librarians, they’re great and valuable, but unless the knowledge is applied, it is just potential.
  12. Every customer is equally valuable.  Setting aside the discussion of each person’s inherent value as an individual, in business, some customers are worth more than others.  Some customers are more trouble than they’re worth.  I prefer to treat all my customers as valuable, but if I have to decide how to stretch scarce resources like my time over different customers needs, then one may be more valuable than another.  However, the trick here is that the customer who will pay you more now is not necessarily the one who is truly more valuable to you.  If I have a customer today who is willing to pay me to do a year’s worth of work in VB6 and another one who wants 4 months of work in ASP.NET, the shorter one may be more valuable because it moves me in the direction I want my business to go, even though it’s not as much money right now.
  13. Profit is all that matters in business.  Well, yes, profit is important, but Cash Flow is more important.  I suppose you thought I was going to say something about being fulfilled in your work or being moral.  Those are important, but I find that more people overlook their cash flow than overlook their morals.  Profit can just be a trick of accounting whereas cash flow controls whether you can stay in business.  Many companies go out of business due to cash flow challenges, even though they were profitable on paper.  Your creditors are not interested in how profitable your accounting statements say you are if you don’t have the cash to pay them back.  But don’t sacrifice your morals to get the cash, either.
  14. Having more customers is better than having fewer customers.  Would you believe that some companies go out of business because they have too many customers or too much demand for their product?  Now that would be a depressing way to go out of business if you ask me.  If a company manufactures and sells a product, it can get inundated with demand and not be able to keep up the production to meet demand.  Then the customers who are delayed in getting their goods are unhappy and may cancel their orders.  If word starts to spread that the company is incompetent, it could really be the death-knell.  Or more likely, another company will see the demand, come into the market with greater capitalization and capacity, meet the unmet demand and take away your customers.  In the software business, having too many customers all demanding your primary scarce resource (time) can wear you down leading to poorer quality and possibly errors, which in turn might lead to lawsuits.  Sometimes you have to turn down customers who want your services.  It can be a touch decision to make, but sometimes it’s necessary in order to maintain good relations with your other clients.
  15. Venture Capital and IPOs are good.  This fallacy really took hold in the dot-com boom.  Thousands of companies were scrambling after venture capital, doing IPOs and promising their employees the moon.  Venture Capital and the capital markets (IPOs) have their place in the growth of business, but before you go craving it remember that you are forfeiting complete control, and possibly any control over your business.  A publicly traded company has TONS of more paperwork it has to process just to meet all the legal requirements.  Venture capital firms typically want a significant, if not controlling, interest in the company in exchange for their money.  Once you have done either of these, then somebody else really owns your business and is in control.  How do you think that Steve Jobs once got fired from Apple computer, the company that he founded?  He did not own it any more.  The stockholders did.  The same can happen to you, even by your “white knight” venture capitalist “friend”.

How to Start a Home-Based Facial Business

Unlike many business ventures, a home-based facial business has relatively low start-up costs and can be set up fairly quickly. In order to run a successful facial business, though, you need to ensure your state license is in order and obtain all necessary health, safety and business permits required to run the business out of your home.

Get Licensed

Most states require that individuals have an active state cosmetology or esthetician license to perform skin care services like facials, so make sure yours are up to date.

Exact skincare licensing requirements vary but, in general, licenses require a few hundred course hours and may need to be renewed periodically. Visit your state Department of Consumer Affairs website for more information.

Make Your Space Customer-Centric

To make your facial business successful, you need to provide your clients a relaxing, professional and soothing environment. Evaluate the space in your home and optimize it so it meets those standards. BeautyBiz notes that some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Can you designate an entrance for your treatment room that’s distinct from your home entrance?
  • Is there a separate bathroom your clients can use?
  • Do you have a separate room you can use for the facials?
  • Do you have a waiting area for clients to relax in before the treatment begins?

Get Business Permits and Licenses

There are a handful of licenses and permits involved in operating a facial business out of your home. The U.S. Small Business Administration notes that most business owners need to obtain a general business permit from their city or county, and many localities require a special Home Occupation Permit for home-based businesses.

Warning

  • The Small Business Administration notes that your city or county may require that your home pass a health and safety inspection before you start seeing clients. Contact your city’s business tax and licenses division for more information.

Protect against Liability

If you accidentally hurt a client or a customer injures themselves on your property, you could face a lawsuit. Hiscox recommends that estheticians purchase both professional liability insurance and general liability insurance to protect themselves financially.

Stock up with the Right Supplies

Buy the equipment you need and stock up on supplies. At a very minimum, you’ll need chairs, couches, tables and towels to operate your facial business. You also may want to invest in a hot towel cabinet, gowns, a facial system and storage and carts.

You’ll need supplies, like gloves, applicators, mixing dishes, jars, measuring cups, facial brushes, facial masks and eye masks to do your work. Talk to wholesalers to get the best prices on supplies.

Get the Word Out

Start marketing before your salon opens for business. Join a local chamber of commerce or beauty business association to connect with other local business owners in the area. Make flyers promoting your new salon and drop them off at businesses in the vicinity.

Create a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and an Instagram account. Start connecting with individuals and businesses through your social media outlets. You also may want to call local newspapers and media outlets and let them know that your business is about to open.