Get All the Home Business Information You Need Before You Start

When you are considering starting a home business you probably have more questions than answers, and one of the best places to get information about starting a home business is on the internet.

The Internet can also be one of the worst places to find information. That’s because you have to be certain that the information you are getting is factual and worthwhile—and the source you get it from does not have an ulterior motive. It’s probably a good idea to go to a trusted site to get the information you need so that you can make an educated decision about the type of business you want to start, where you should put your money, and how much you can expect to spend.

Here are some basic questions you need to ask yourself before starting a home business. And once you know the questions, it’s much easier to find the information online that you need to start a home business:

– Are you ready to start a business? Seems like a simple question, but don’t be too quick to answer it. You need to know several things such as: are you’re a self starter? How much do you know about the business you want to start? Are there good resources available to you to give you the support you need? Do you work well alone? Do you have a business plan and a financial safety net if your business doesn’t earn as much money as you originally planned? Does your family support your endeavor?

– Is your home set up for your office? You should have a designated area to work. Some condominiums do not allow certain types of businesses to operate in their developments, so it’s a good idea to check the associate bylaws. Have you thought about the difficulties of working at home, especially if you have other family members at home?

– Do you know how to market your business? Many home businesses are entirely internet-based enterprises, which means you will want to drive traffic to a website so you can sell your product or service. Do you know how to do this? Does the business you are involved in help you get customers and give you professional support?

-Do you know the tax implications of starting a home business? For the most part, having a home-based business gives you tax benefits, such as claiming a portion of your expenses on your tax return. The IRS allows several deductions for the home-based business providing you have an area in your home specifically set aside for your business. It’s important to know what you are entitled to deduct and what you are not come tax time.

-Do you know how to make your business seem more professional? Doing simple things like having P.O. Box set up specifically for your business needs is more professional than using a home address, as is having a phone line dedicated to your business. If your business requires a website, it should be professional and easy to navigate.

-Do you know how to organize your business? Lack of organization is one of the main stress-creating factors of running a home business. Business e-mails should be in a separate account from personal ones, earnings should be tracked, clear records of transactions kept, etc.

The answers to all these questions can be found online and it’s important to have an answer to all of them before you start your home business. Having the right home business information can make this an exciting adventure,

Advertising Any Business Offline With Business Cards And Fliers

If you’re promoting any online business with out utilizing business cards then you are doing yourself a disservice of fairly significant proportions. It really is an easy comfortable way to communicate with your potential leads. It is also very cheap in comparison to other methods. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to distribute you business cards. You can give them out to just about anyone you come across. Most people are agreeable to taking and reading a business card if it is just handed to them. Also, you can leave them in conspicuous places where peoples natural curiosity will cause them to pick one up and take it with them.

What are some of the resourceful ways you can get busy with business cards? Well one creative method though not to pleasant to talk about is to leave them in public rest rooms. I leave a few anytime I am in one. In my own business Infinity Downline I find activity to my sales funnel following such placements. You can also leave your business cards in book stores in magazines or books that have to do with the nature of your business. You can leave business cards in cafes and eateries under the salt shakers or such where patrons following you can find them. Or you can leave one with your tip to give to your server if you think your business has appeal to them.

Another good method I like are drive throughs. Think about all of the drive throughs you zip through. You have fast food restaurants, banking institutions ATMs to name a few usually busy situations where people drive through in their vehicles. What you can do is place a couple of your business cards where they can be discovered by the next few people behind you. I have never found yet a drive through where you can’t locate a slot, crack, nook or recess to secretly leave some business cards in.

These two preceding methods if you think about it requires no extra time in your schedule or activities than what you are already doing. All advertising is, whether it be online or offline is communication. If you do these easy methods methodically and every time, it can add up to hundreds if not thousands of eyeballs looking at your business per year from no more effort than what you are already doing. If you have your business websites URL on your card this can create another easy stream of traffic to your website.

Sometimes with business cards rather than putting information on them about my business I put a small appealing contextual ad on them instead. This is designed to get a person curious enough to check out my website later when they are at their computer. On these kind of business card ads I usually only list my business websites URL anyway so if they are curious they have to go online to my website to find out about what it is I am marketing.

I typically like to generate a sense of urgency with my text ad in who ever is looking at my cards. This is accomplished by stating there is a bonus listed on my website that is soon expiring. This lets them know they had better visit my site soon before it is too late and they lose the chance to get my bonus. Often people will visit just to satisfy their curiosity and find out what the bonus is all about if nothing else.

Another thing I do with my business that can be applied to any business is to promote it with colorful or black and white fliers, or circulars as they are sometimes called. These fliers can be placed in local businesses that have bulletin boards. You may need to get permission from the owner first though. If you have any doubt you should definitely ask them before tacking them up. If they do not want them their, they will just throw them a way, and that can be a waste of your time and money.

Often local business establishments have their bulletin boards located right in the entry way of the store and are usually open to the general public. You see all manner of ads from people from furniture sales to home based businesses. Walmart use to have public bulletin boards here in Oklahoma, but they ceased the practice and now entry store boards are only utilized by them and not open to use by the public.

Occasionally businesses have display boards that are only their for their local patrons business cards. Old fashioned Mom and Pop cafes are famous for this practice and these types of boards are usually smaller than the typical bulletin board and are plastered with local businesses business cards. They are usually placed near the cash register where people can look at them while they are waiting to pay their bill.

You can if you have enough aggressive boldness, personally hand out your fliers in community areas like busy city sidewalks. This is effective when large groups of people are using the sidewalks in their daily activities. To give you a good example of this, think of how many movies you have seen depicting hoards of people all transversing the avenue sidewalks of New York City. You could probably pass out a thousand in an hour with hardly any walking on your part just letting people pass you by and handing them one.

A great deal of your evening night clubs and popular bars have bulletin boards as well. These are usually good places to place your fliers. If you are one of the bars patrons and frequent it often, you can do some low key networking as well while you’re out having a good time. Word of mouth is still a very effective low cost offline method to communicate your business. In a social situation it can be done in a manner that generates curiosity and questions where you do not have to chase a person to tell them about your business. People are naturally curious about what other people do for a living so the nature of your business can easily come up in a conversation.

While on the topic of mixing it up socially. College students are notorious for getting out and about with their friends and meeting new people. A great number of college students have a social networks that transverse their personal sphere of influence many times over. Another thing in relation to college campuses is that there are many many bulletin boards to be found on them. In my area the University of Oklahoma is prevalent and they have bulletin boards not only inside in most buildings but outside on public walk ways too. An additional tip, you can add little tear off strips at the bottom of your fliers that each contain your contact info, whether that be a phone number, email address or the URL of your website.

By the way if you are going to use a phone number as your contact, you might consider using a voice mail that is toll free to your prospect. In this method you can have an outgoing promotional message of 2 or 3 minutes in duration that is really there just to garner interest in your business and to possibly elicit to your prospect into leaving their own contact details where you can call them back. This is a good way to pre-sell your business where you do not have to waste time doing it live over the phone.

If you choose to do a toll free voice mail make sure you include a call to action for your prospect to leave their name and phone number as often they won’t unless asked or told to. Then you want to call them back as soon as you can. In this way you might catch them before their enthusiasm has started to fade and it may be you find when you call them you have a new customer to your business. Or in my case a new member to my affiliate business.

Advertise My Business – How Consumers View Businesses Who Advertise During Tough Times

As a small business owner, you are also a consumer, so you’ll be able to completely relate to how advertising your business affects consumers. Whether you are advertising at the current moment or not, you’re sending out messages to your prospects and customers about your company, some of which you may not want to be sending. It is important to understand what your customers think of your business so when they talk about your company, they can send out positive messages that will help your company prosper. If you’re wondering, “Should I advertise my business?”, consider how it will make you look to your prospects for years to come.

When consumers think about businesses who advertise during tough economic times, two things come to mind.

1. They perceive your business to be financially stable. Consumers know it costs you money to advertise and they put value on those companies who have the ability and budget to do so. They understand that although advertising your business is a necessity, it requires extra money to facilitate. Knowing that you have the finances to put money into your business tells them you’re not on the verge of going out of business.

Think of it like this; aren’t you less likely to spend your money with a company you fear will be closing soon? Well, your prospects and customers feel the same way. They wonder about warranties, returns, service or maintenance they may need down the road, upgrading or adding to their previous purchases. They may even wonder how good your customer service is. If you’re not advertising, they may just assume you can’t afford to pay your employees, which leads to unhappy employees who do not take care of customers very well. If you wouldn’t invest your own money into a company as such, you can’t expect your prospects to do it either.

Bottom line, you don’t want to give the consumers any reasons to think you’re hurting for business. More business is always better but tell them you’re doing well with what you’ve got.

2. Seeing more small businesses advertising provides consumers with comfort that prosperity is possible and still happening. With all the boohoo about how down the economy is, it’s a breath of fresh air for consumers to hear of small businesses that are still around. They respect a business owner who can still create a presence for their business even with all the economic problems that so many people are complaining about. Advertising your business says, “If I don’t like the way something is, I’ll do what I need to change it rather than complain about it.”

It seems that advertising your company builds character, respect, and superiority as if “only the strong survive”. Wouldn’t you agree that when you see a small business advertisement, it makes you feel good, like things are moving along? It is the idea of possibilities that excites society and advertising helps create those ideas.

It is a proven fact that businesses who continue to advertise through hard economic times beat out their competition, even decades down the road. I strongly feel it’s not only because they are putting themselves out there but because of how well consumers respond to their efforts. The next time you ask yourself, “Should I advertise my business?”, the answer will be VERY clear to see.

Poor Business Information Management – What Is It Costing Your Business?

Is your business drowning in information?

Are you buried under tons of paperwork and just don’t know where to start? Are you spending more time doing the paperwork than running the business?

Does you current business data management system provide ready access to your business data and perform the analysis necessary to make informed business decisions?

These may seem like simple, basic questions but in many small and medium-sized businesses they go unasked. What does this mean to the bottom line of your business?

Business data management is paramount to making your business profitable and successful. Making your information and data work as hard as you do, and turning it in to an asset rather than a liability, will give you the edge over your competitors. Effective business data management could be the key to the business success that you have been looking for.

The HOW TO of Business Data Management

All businesses today generate and need access to significant amounts of information and data, much of which is critical to the efficient and profitable operation of the business. Information like customer contact details and sales data, appointment scheduling, stock control or managing production flow and financial records is the life-blood of any business. It needs to be managed effectively to get the most out of it.

Just the process of collecting and recording business information can take a great deal of your staff’s time, and therefore your money. Just as important as collecting business data is HOW it is managed and used. Many hours can go into recording business data, and just as many of those hours can be wasted if the information is not stored in a way that provides ready access or analysis of the information it contains. Obviously, recording business information on random notes or even in structured text documents such as Word is better than nothing. But information stored this way is difficult to track and even more difficult to search. Performing any meaningful analysis on large amounts of data stored in this fashion is virtually impossible.

Using spreadsheets, such as Microsoft’s Excel program, will provide access to structured information as well as the ability to perform some effective business analysis over small subsets of data. However filling out spreadsheets and keeping them up-to-date can be a time consuming task. And what do you do when you have voluminous amounts of data that you want to analyse for trends, or business opportunities. Unlike databases, spreadsheets are limited in the number of records they can manipulate and rarely provided the correlation between disparate data holdings that is required to perform meaningful analysis.

Making the Most of your Business Information

I think we all can agree that proper business information management is an important aspect of effective business management and should be a core consideration in ensuring the success of your business.

As you have probably realised by now, using hand written notes, document files and even spreadsheets may not be the most efficient way for you to manage and make the most of your business information. In fact, when you take in to account the time and effort necessary to collect and store the information, collate it, and then try to make sense of what it all means, you have likely come to the conclusion that unstructured business data is costing your business not only tens of thousands of dollars in time and resources handling the information, but also many thousands of dollars in missed opportunities that proper analysis of that data could have identified.

For the efficient and effective management of business information you really need a database. Databases provide significant advantages over other forms of information capture, storage, retrieval and analysis. More importantly a database enables rapid access to any data held within the database through sophisticated, and yet in most cases easy to use, search functionality. Most database systems today handle virtually any size data-set, be it large or small, and have the ability to perform tasks as simple as ‘Customer Relationship’, ‘Inventory Management’ or ‘Asset Management’, right through to the more complex sales and/or trend analysis, across ten or even hundreds of thousands of individual records.

Perhaps equally as important is the ability of relational databases, such as the Microsoft Access database, to vastly decrease the time and effort required to collect the data. With functionality such as data import, default field values, lookup tables, drop-down lists and the ability to enter common data (which may be used often across 1000s of records) only once, they can significantly reduce the time and effort required to collect and store information.

Over time there have been many database applications available. Whilst all these database systems have provided the basic data storage and retrieve capability, more modern-day database applications such as Microsoft Access Database provide a graphical user interface, simplified querying and comprehensive internal reporting functionality which is capable of analysing and charting vast amounts of data in very short periods of time, often only seconds. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to incorporate all the modern features required by any business to effectively handle their information management and analysis needs. Microsoft Access Database comes packaged with the ‘Office’ (professional) suite of software tools, and its integration with those tools makes passing information and data between documents, spreadsheets and databases a simply process which greatly enhances and simplifies its data collection, analysis and reporting capabilities. Existing users of MS Access Database will also be aware that several of the sample databases that ship with the Access Database, whilst basic in design, already provide some good business information management tools.

Whilst Microsoft’s Access database is easy to use, allowing basic databases to be easily built by the novice, it also contains advanced functionality and features that can be used to build more powerful, integrated business information management systems. Consequently, a number of ‘business to business’ companies specialising in the development of custom, business specific, Access Database applications have emerged. Where you have a need to build a database to meet a specific requirement within your business, but just don’t have the time or someone with the advanced training and knowledge required to build the database in-house, then using a specialist Access Database developer may be the answer. As there are many such companies offering this service the development rates are usually very affordable, and you will find that the time required to have a functioning, customized database, up and running will be significantly reduced.

Effective, efficient business information management is a must for anyone wanting to grow their business and their profitability.