Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How to Evaluate Home Based Business Opportunities

With the economy in flux, and whispers of recession turning into frank discussions of how long the downturn is expected to last, it's no wonder that more people than ever before are taking a second look at home based businesses. For some, the ability to make money online is a way to make ends meet as the costs of everything from fuel to food spiral upward. For others, being able to work from home is the best of both worlds: they can earn a decent income while being able to greet the kids when they get home from school. Virtually everyone appreciates a home based business' flexible hours and lack of a commute, as well as the rewarding feeling that comes from creating your own financial security.

As appealing as a home based business is, it's often difficult to evaluate programs. After all, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of opportunities available. Here are five tips to help you separate the best from the rest.

1. Find reputable online reviews. There are websites that specialize in guiding would-be home based business owners toward legitimate opportunities. The best sites offer valuable information so that you can make money at home, as well as essential website marketing tools.

2. Free vs. paid. There are both paid and free home based business opportunities. If you have money to invest in your business, paid opportunities can often reap greater financial rewards. That's not to say, however, that you can't make money at home from a free home based business. You simply need to understand the potential risks and rewards associated with each type.

3. Passive vs. active. When evaluating opportunities, it's important to know how much time you have to devote to your business. Some require actively selling products or services, while others rely on utilizing marketing tools to harness the power of the Internet and create a passive income stream. Many people find that the most lucrative home based businesses fall somewhere in the middle, enabling them to work minimal hours while maximizing income.

4. Diverse revenue streams. Although the ability to make money online has been around for several years now, the path to success is constantly evolving. Those in the know recommend diversifying your home base business revenue streams. In other words, you should launch several different types of online businesses to ensure that if one source of revenue slows, another can make up the difference. Like the old saying, "Don't put your eggs all in one basket," diversification is key.

5. Start small and plan to grow. If you're new to home based businesses, it's going to take a bit of time to learn the ropes. The challenges are by no means insurmountable, but you'll still need to get your systems in place, develop a game plan, and become proficient in your new venture. Most experts recommend that you begin with one opportunity, master that, and then add another. The ramp-up period varies from person to person, but most people are able to launch one home based business per month, and then add about one per month.

Once you find the right opportunities and the right fit, becoming a successful home based business entrepreneur isn't difficult. In fact, it's probably one of the most rewarding efforts you'll ever undertake.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Your Small Business May Be At Risk Unless You Have A Security and Recovery Plan

Don’t think your small business is at risk?  Think again.  Whether you realize it or not, your business has valuable information and assets that probably are not protected right now.   Your business likely has confidential client information, proprietary business knowledge or just internal knowledge that you wouldn't want to be exposed to criminals or competitors.  The loss of this information could have a devastating impact to your business.  While business insurance is an important part of your protection, it cannot protect clients from identity theft or your business from unscrupulous employees or competitors.

No matter how big or small, your business needs to have a security and recovery plan in place that determines what risks you have, helps protect against those risks and sets plans in place to handle the most likely types of losses you may experience.   Your plan should also look at the both the ‘physical’ and the ‘virtual’ aspects of your business.

Start by considering the types of risks to which your business may be vulnerable.   What if your business information was lost or stolen?  Do you have customer files or records, tax receipts, bank statements, business plans, customer work products?

Next, consider the physical aspects of your business that may be vulnerable.  Do you have unique office equipment, inventory, computers or trade specific tools?

Finally, look at how you do business.  Do you rely on technology, the internet or employees with unique skills?  Does your business model depend on repeatable processes that are unique to your business?

Now, consider what would happen to your business if these parts of your business were lost, destroyed or stolen.  Could you continue operating if you lost your client files?  Could you be sued by customers if their personal information was exposed? Could you be the target of negative publicity?  Could your competitors benefit if they gained access to the information?  What if you lost email access for a day?  What if that key employee suddenly left for another job?  What if your office space caught fire or was flooded?

Your security and recovery plan should put in place the safeguards and policies and procedures to prevent some of these risks and the potential to negatively impact your business.  Physical access to buildings is relatively easy to control although most small business have little more than a lock on the front door.    Should you consider locking file drawers? Is inventory controlled?  Does every employee have access, even to things that are not part of his or her job?  Could a disgruntled or fired employee return to the work space after hours with an extra key copy?

Your plan should consider how to protect the ‘virtual’ parts of your business also.  Do you have backups of any important files?  Do you have passwords, account numbers and other ‘keys’ securely guarded?  Do your computers have virus and firewall protection and is it up-to-date?  Do you have internet and email usage policies in place to protect your employees form harassment charges?

What about remote employees or workers who ‘take work home?’  In today’s highly mobile environment vital business information can now be easily accessed outside of your physical controls?  Do your employees know how to safeguard laptops, cell phones, flash drives or even print outs of business information once they leave your work space?  What if a laptop is stolen from a worker’s car or home or hotel room?  Do you have a backup of the data that was on the laptop? What if your employees are accessing your information from a coffee shop Wi-Fi?  How do you know if your clients and business are protected?

Lastly, your security and recovery plan should consider how you would handle the most likely losses. For instance, if the computer that holds all your sales information crashes, you should probably have a plan to immediately restore that information from a backup.  Where is the backup tape or disk kept Who has access to it and most importantly, who knows how to restore a backup?  If you office is flooded, how quickly can you relocate?  Can some employees work from home or other remote locations temporarily?  If client information is stolen, do you have a way to contact them?

Most small business owners likely have taken first steps like purchasing insurance and putting locks on the front door.  Unfortunately, few have taken the time to really understand the potential risks to their business.

Taking the time now to at least put together an informal plan will go a long way in the event of a real disaster or other loss.  Even the best planning obviously won’t protect against all disasters but it can certainly lessen the impact to your business once one occurs.

Aubrey Jones is President and founder of Riverbank Consulting, Inc.  Since 1996 he has worked to protect internet banking clients for one of the top US financial institutions including serving as a Risk Manager.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sales Training Tip - Keeping Customer for Life

Marketing and sales will, of course, be of the utmost importance to the success of your small business.  However, do you even know the difference between the two?  Marketing is everything your company does to reach out to the consumer and find potential clients.  Marketing is preparation for sales.  Sales is everything your company does to actually sell your particular product or service to the consumer and usually involves meetings with clients, calls on prospective clients, networking, and utilizing internet resources.
 
Marketing your company involves identifying and finding your target consumers.  You must find creative ways to get their attention and prepare them to make a purchase.  Marketing itself is made up of the 5 P’s:  product, positioning (how the customer perceives you in comparison with your competitors), place, price, and promotion.

When developing a marketing message, you are priming your customers to make a purchase.  In order to do this effectively, your marketing message must have substance.  Yes, the graphics and logos are important, but consumers want you to make you point as clear as possible as quickly as possible.  In order to do this, address these six issues in your marketing campaign:

1) Capture your audience’s attention with a message that clearly defines who you are addressing.
2) State the problems or desires of your audience.
3) Briefly describe your product.
4) Describe the benefit your customer will derive from your product.
5) Use testimonials or the like to give you message credibility.
6) Let the consumer know exactly what action they need to take next.

Customer Service

One of the most important aspects of small business management is customer relations – the interactions between customers and employees.  As a small business you have to provide the customer with better, more personal service in order to compete with the larger, more established providers in the marketplace.  You also have to look to the future and develop ways to keep your customers coming back year after year.  When a problem does occur, take advantage of the opportunity to build not only customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty.

Tips for Teaching Top-Notch Customer Service:

  • Determine what you really mean by excellent customer service.  You have to have a thorough understanding of what you want to provide so that you can provide it consistently.
  • If you really don’t know what your customers want and expect from you, do some research.  Talk to focus groups and ask your complaint department what the most common complaints are relating to customer service. 
  • Give your employees the freedom to go above and beyond the call of duty without punishment.  Let them know they have a wide array of responses to choose from and that you trust their judgment.
  • Train your employees to share pertinent customer information among themselves – likes, dislikes, quirks, needs, interests, etc. – can all be useful knowledge.
  • Give employees an example to model by committing yourself to excellent customer service as well.  Show them what you expect through your own interactions with customers.  In addition, always reward those who go beyond the call of duty.
  • Provide training for all employees – not just those on the front line.
  • Don’t expect change immediately.  It will take time for a new standard to be set in your organization.
  • Expect mistakes and acknowledge them.  Use these incidents as an opportunity to recommit yourself and your organization to superior service.  Apologize for any slip-ups and really listen to the customers complaints.  


Keeping Customers for Life

As a small business, you must cultivate relationships with your clients in order to ensure their continued patronage.  Studies have shown that it is much easier to continue a customer relationship than to cultivate a new one.  The first step to retaining customers is to keep your word.  Do what you say you are going to do in order to make your business worthy of a customer’s repeat business.  Expect that clients will return.  Many businesses look to the customer to prove that they are worthy of their attention by returning on a regular basis instead of cultivating a relationship from the very beginning.  Once you establish a good relationship, make it a policy to go above and beyond.

The customer should remain your focus – not your bottom line.  Your bottom line will only come into play if you can establish a business based on long-term customers.  Make sure that you are treating your employees as well as you are treating your customers.  You want lifelong employees in order to provide a stable, consistent environment for your lifelong customers.
Offer incentives to repeat customers.  Consider promotions such as “Buy 10 – Get the Next One Free” or “25% off on your next visit” to lure customers back into your establishment.  Finally, be choosy about the relationships you cultivate.  There are customers who are not worth keeping around for the long-run.  If a customer is a troublemaker, don’t worry about letting him move on to a competitor.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Brand Development - You Should Improve Your Branding

It might be almost blasphemous to talk about letting go of old brand equity and laying an old brand to rest, but there are times when change is needed. Reformulating and re-designing, or even overhauling an old brand can be a wise decision. If sales are flat and show no sign of growth, you’d better stop kidding yourself and hire a branding consultant.

Brands are an extremely vital element in your product and corporate value proposition. With communications so pervasive today, corporate branding and product branding are becoming fused as one. Corporate brands are increasingly powering product brands and product sales and that pose some substantial risk, as those sub brands can’t be as easily re-positioned when they falter.

Brand Culture

As time passes, culture changes, new technologies and new competing brands appear and they change the perception of value that is available in a marketplace. Old sales propositions won’t fly in the face of 20 or more other competitors offering the same benefits and features. With cultural, economic, technology changes, and corporate changes, your aging brand image and brand equity may end up doing more harm than good. Your former branding successes could leave your brand and company stuck in the past.

A good example of age related branding problem is in the realm of computer products. I recently bought a new laptop computer because my old one just couldn’t keep up with my multitasking and other work needs. At the retail store, there were computers with Intel or AMD microprocessors to choose from. The key matter wasn’t really microprocessor speed or capability. In the past, the Intel logo would have compelled me to buy only computers with their processors regardless of what other features were available in the computer. The Intel brand was clearly in a class by itself. Not this time. This AMD powered computer was low priced and had the memory I required along with other features such as a 100 Gb hard drive, high-resolution screen, numerous ports and adapters and a long lasting battery. It only weighs a couple of pounds and the AMD logo seemed to look better too.  It says: AMD Turion 64 Mobile Technology. 64 bits and mobile compatibility. Why doesn’t Intel mention that on the computer they have their products in?

Laptops are hot and prices are falling. My 15-year-old nephew just bought his first laptop on eBay, since they are cheaper and more accessible. So the whole “culture” of shopping and purchasing computers has changed.

Everyone is buying high-resolution screens and I was eager to ease my eyestrain from long hours of viewing everyday. The huge hard drive was great and the laptop looks good too. The old Intel brand just didn’t have the effect it once did, and their competitor, AMD, just sold one of their processors. The laptop is working great and now Intel processors don’t dictate which computer I’ll buy.

To me, the Intel logo and brand brings back memories of old Pentium computers. This is worsened by the fact that today’s processors have changed and they are running at lower speeds. This confuses the speed benefit that Intel had its brand positioned around. The technology change in viewing screens, memory, and processor use in the computer has moved the market away from where Intel was positioned. The Intel corporate brand powers sales of their new processors, but they can call those new products anything they want and it won’t effective my decision.

What Intel needs to do now, is to associate its processors with the features and benefits that consumers and B2B buyers make decisions upon. Computer branding is not all about the processors anymore and the old Intel brand image is deeply tied to old technology. Even the brand name Pentium is associated with the computer culture of the 90’s.

Here’s the issue: the old Intel brand was so successful in 90’s that it’s trapped Intel in a time warp. Intel needs new branding that ties it to the future, not the past. To get there, they are probably going to have to jettison the past.

Google is a good example of modern branding and a brand that is not tied solely to web search engines. The brand is now diversified strategically to associate it with everything people are doing on the web. Google is omnipresent, and its brand image is solely in its relevance to the current Internet culture.  Google won’t let its common search engine role diminish its branding power.

Hanging onto to Old Branding Concepts

There’s a lot of reason why brand managers, CEO's, and marketing managers resist rethinking their branding and redeveloping their brands. Most often, they don’t want to leave their comfort zone and risk a short-term blip in profit. Some don’t want to make an investment in hiring a branding consultant to look at the options. Branding experts examine a brand to discover its current problems, the culture of the marketplace, and to determine if a new brand identity or brand positioning would be fruitful. Some old brands are doomed, but most are just stale and not in tune with the target market. A branding consultant can provide crucial insight into market perception, brand value building, brand loyalty development, and to discover the brand value proposition that could breathe new life into your brands.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How To Interview Sales People Successfully

Since the dawn of free trading only two things have ever mattered; producing a quality product or service and the ability to sell it successfully. By successfully, I mean ensuring that you achieve maximum profit from the sale, while the customer is delighted with their purchase. In most cases the Business owner understands what they need to produce, but more often that not rely on someone with sales skills to sell it.

Would you know a good sales person from a bad one?
While many company founders realize that they may not have the requisite sales skills, would they be able to recognize and hire someone who could sell? It is a recognised fact that four times as many business fail due to poor salesmanship, rather than poor products. Can you afford an other Sales person, based on the margins of what you intend to sell?

Thus hiring the right people to sell for you is one of the most important decisions most companies will make.

Unfortunately hiring is a bit like selling. First you must find prospects. These are the candidates that you will interview. To do this you must create a job spec. This will be your advert.

How to create a sales job specification.
Like marketing, this step must not be rushed. First understand exactly what you want the person to sell (Product Mix). Whom you wish them to sell to (territory) and how they should sell (Quota). You then need to ensure that you compensate them appropriately through a mix of base salary, Commission and Benefits.

Assuming you arrived at your targets, using an appropriate mix of sales history and market research, you will need to do a similar exercise on the cost of the sales person. In other words, can you afford them, based on the margins of what you intend to sell. It is also imperative that you offering a competitive package, if you want to attract the right level of person.

So now assuming you have advertised your position on the likes of www.salesjobs.ie or have advised an agency, what do you do next? You should partition the CVs that you get in, by sorting them into piles of “no” and “possibly”. You may have an agency doing this for you, or you might have a stab at it yourself.

The First Interview – by Phone or in Person?
The next step is to telephone interview the “possible” candidates. I would select about 10 candidates to interview by telephone. At ½ an hour each, it is 5 hours well spent. The purpose of this step is to whittle down the number of applicants, to no more than 4 per position to be filled.

I have a telephone interview sheet, which I have refined after years of interviewing sales people, and it works pretty well for me. The key facts that you need to ascertain from the interview is as follows.


  • Does the person have a good telephone manner? 
  • Did they research your company well? 
  • Why they are leaving their current role, what their package expectations are? 
  • Are they a strong performer as quantified by their results – how did they compare to their colleagues, how much money did they earn? 
  • Will they be a good fit with your company and prospects? 
  • Do they understand what a good sales process is, and have they experience of using one? 
  • Can they generate leads for themselves? 


This is a non-exhaustive sample, the key is to get score all of the answers they give – I do it from 1-5, and only when I have completed all of the telephone interviews, do I add up the scores and rank the candidates. You will be surprised how high your “gut feel” candidates rank. The reason behind this is that you used a repeatable process with all candidates.

Does the P65 Really matter?
When bringing the final candidates to your premises for final interview, you should ensure that they bring with them their last 3 years P65. This will verify their “sales figures” and earnings – it is amazing how few potential employers actually check this out. In addition you should also ask them to supply the details of two referees. I like when these referees are previous or existing customers.

If you have not had professional help in interviewing up to now (the most cost effective is at the telephone interview stage), I would strongly recommend you get in someone who has been a sales manager who has hired and fired sales people in their career. There is an old saying that “It takes one to know one” – this basically says that sales managers can smell a rat a mile off that someone who has not had day to day contact with sales people might miss.

On the final interview day, I would suggest that you have all the people come down on one or two days, and have them meet at least three of the following, as well as yourself; the business owner.

- Some of who does marketing
- An existing sales person, if you have one
- Someone in Customer Support
- Someone in Production (or a consultant if you are a service company)

This way, all the people who could end up working with this new person will at least have a view. At the end of the day, you will have the final say, but it pays to hear other people’s opinions.

Could luck, good hiring and most importantly good selling with great profit!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Home Based Business - Important Steps To Success

Ready to start your home based business?

Here's some facts that prevent most beginners from ever reaching that goal, and what you need to get started. The main question lies in the fact of whether you have what it takes to run a home based business?

Take the first steps now to starting your own business and get started right immediately. The first rule is self motivation. This is a key factor to getting started, so please don't pass it off. You must motivate yourself to take action in your life by redirecting and maintaining your attitude and ambition. What drives you to push yourself to the limit when the chance arises? Is it your family, friends, certain environments, tight schedules, love, or maybe even the initial goal on everyone's mind... Money? Whatever thrives you the most is what you need to keep your mind set on during the initial setup. This is what can destroy a vast majority of new business owners during the preparation process. Don't ever lose sight on what is pushing your ambition to rise above.

Second is about attitude and confidence. If you don't have a strong business attitude, then you will not survive in the business world. Be willing to do what it takes to succeed and don't make room for excuses. Excuses don't get the job done. If something needs to be initiated, or completed, then just do it and do it right. This is where confidence comes into play. You must be confident, but not preferably OVER-confident in your journey to succeed. If you have absolutely no confidence in yourself, then get some fast. Everyone can have ambition to succeed given the correct incentive and measurements. Make your own destiny! Don't wait for it to knock you down when you're not looking. You can take control and decide your fate for yourselves. Ambition is locked away in everyone's mind, so whatever it is you need to unlock that particular door, get it done. Clear your head from standard issues that will prevent you from succeeding for your future.

Now, set your mind to goal setting for a minute. What we want to do here is figure out what sort of goals you're looking to get out of life. Where would you like to be right now? How much money do you want to earn every week, month, or year? Have you reached 50% of your goals yet? This is a critical step in inspiration to push your agenda further than can be imagined. Imagine for a second that all of your bills are fully paid, but don't stop there. Imagine all of your bills are paid for the next 5 years without a blink of an eye. Owning your own home, and maybe a beach house or two. Drive anything you want, because it didn't even chip your bank account to purchase it. Basically, how far do you want to go. Would this be considered greed? Absolutely! That is the reason for rapidly advancing technology, health-care drugs for longer survival and better health, and amazing opportunities that are available to the general public... which will also take us to the next step.

Money management is VERY important. If you cannot control your money, then you will need to learn better patience. Patience with money earned will keep you from losing it all, after it's been made. Control yourself, and control your money. Set your daily/weekly/monthly budget and enforce it! If you cannot control your funds now, then start today and write a strict budget. Keep your goals in mind always, so you don't make extravagant purchases that were not necessary. If you do reach high goals and use your money accordingly with investing, or other resources, then you will have plenty of time to "throw your money around". So, be sure your budget is set and let's move on to the next step.

Research, research, research! This is probably one of the MOST important steps that you are going to take in your business planning. Do your research thoroughly and make absolutely sure that your knowledge will cover everything you need to know. Information is the most valuable commodity and most everything you'll need to know can be easily obtained online right now. Find out exactly what you need to be happy in your life, and set your mind to it. What do you have easy access to. There may be many things right under your nose, that you will kick yourself later for not thinking about it sooner. Find out what it is you enjoy. Don't always go with what your heart tells you in business, or you may not survive. Be truthful and realistic with yourself when deciding your business. Be sure that you WILL NOT LOSE MONEY. If you LOSE money from your business, then it's pointless to start in the first place.

Figure out what you want out of life. What is your primary goal? What type of schedule do you require? You can find the easy life, if you dig deep enough.

Do you have easy access to get started right now? Be sure that you know exactly what you are plunging yourself into. "Don't sink with a ship that has a near-sighted captain". What is the history of the businesses in the particular market that you're researching and what strategies were they using. You must find out whether the profit potential is endless? ...or does it have a cap-off point as well. How much time and work is it going to take to setup and ultimately operate? Be sure to keep plenty of "you" time for yourself. You don't have to work 24 hours a day to achieve your goals. Residual income is the key to making effortless money and obtaining your rightful financial freedom. Make your business work for you, instead of the other way around. Remember, you are the driver. You have the control to stop, go, and turn things around at any given point. You can start a business for less than a hundred dollars and turn it into a multi-million dollar success. So, do your research!

Now, we can move on to scheduling your business plan. Write it, or type it, and record it. This will take some time to think over and it definitely should. You should not rush this process by any means, since it will be YOU taking the action which will result in the overall consequences or rewards. Figure out how much money you want to earn on a periodic basis, and be sure to set your goals into a progressive mode. Once you've reached this point, you will need to keep site of your goals and realize you are the ONLY one that is going to make the difference. Time is much too important to waste in any circumstances, so be very careful with your decision making performance. Always take care of your well-being. Your health always plays an important role when you are taking a new leap in life.

Take care for now and good luck finding your success!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Emotional Side of Business

Do your emotions get in the way of sound business decisions?

Women, in particular, let their emotions get in the way of sound business judgment.   In business it is very necessary to be analytically and logical.  Each decision should boil down to one question:

“Will this be good or bad for my business?”

Society views women as nurturing caretakers and many have been raised to fit that model.  The problem stemming from this is that women are always concerned about not hurting the other person’s feelings.  They feel obligated to “be nice” by transacting business even though the action does not fit their business model or make good financial sense.

Have you ever been expected to make an expensive purchase for your business, and did you go through with it even though it was too costly, for fear of “not being liked?”  

Handle business swiftly and politely with a smile to avoid confrontations.  Your first response is to acknowledge the request.  Then, within the framework of the conversation, explain why you cannot meet the request.  For example, I had an exciting opportunity to combine forces with a local TV news program.  Their research was impeccable indicating a very high number of anticipated hits on my website and calls to be received if I were to sign up for the program.

After the presentation, and request for $50,000, I agreed it was of great value.  I then said, “If your statistics are true, I would need to build up my infrastructure which will take longer than your short time frame allowed for commitment.”

I agreed with their statements and used their own words to show the flaw in their reasoning for a quick decision. This method enabled me to excuse myself from the project and eliminated hard feelings.

You cannot afford to purchase from everyone.  You must learn to remove the emotional side of business and set realistic expectations of others.  Too often women will get upset if an acquaintance does not purchase; will not trade links on websites; and will not offer referrals.   They feel it’s owed to them.  

I suggest you take the “I” and “You” out of the equation and, instead, think in terms of the bottom line for your business.

Relationship selling is based on a win-win strategy.  Each business owner must understand the needs and challenges of the other.

When someone tells you ‘No’ at any point in a conversation, the very best thing to do is to stop and ask, “Why?”  Getting angry, walking away and stopping all communication is not the least bit helpful.

If you take the time to ask “Why?” and get a history of experiences, there will be three positive outcomes from the question.  First, if an error was made, you will know what that error was and will not repeat it elsewhere.

Second, you will become adept at always understanding two viewpoints (yours and your prospect’s) which will work in your favor from that point forward.

The third scenario, and best of all, is by questioning you may easily find a solution that will satisfy both of you.

Once you know who your best prospects are, stay with that market and you will be far happier as more business comes your way.  We've all heard, “It’s not personal, it’s just business” and now we must heed that expression.  
 
Ask yourself, am I making reasonable requests of others and am I making the best decisions for my business?

Additional Ideas to Build Business you way include, Determine if the goodwill outweighs the cost on smaller decisions; Analyze the pros and cons of larger decisions; Will you still be able to pay your bills after adding the new commitment;
Feminine intuition is an advantage – listen to your initial reaction as it’s usually correct.  If you are truly uncomfortable making a quick decision, request a day or two to reflect on the ramifications, good and bad, of the request.  No one can be offended by you giving serious consideration to what is being asked of you.  This last step will enhance your relationship selling and will present you as highly credible.

Strive to build a sound business environment.  Your center of influence will grow And Your Business Will Prosper.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Things That Make You A Successful Entrepreneurs

Studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs possess these characteristics:

Self-confidence 

This is that magical power of having confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities.

Achievement Oriented 

Results are gained by focused and sustained effort. They concentrate on achieving a specific goal, not just accomplishing a string of unrelated tasks.

Risk Taker 

They realize that there is a chance of loss inherent in achieving their goals, yet they have the confidence necessary to take calculated risks to achieve their goals.

Entrepreneurs are people who will make decisions, take action, and think that they can control their own destinies. They are often motivated by a spirit of independence which leads them to believe that their success depends on raw effort and hard work, not luck.

So which of these three main characteristics is the most important? Believe it or not, it has to be self-confidence. Without self-confidence, nothing else is possible. If you don't believe in your abilities, then the first challenge that arises may knock you off the path to achieving your goals. Here are a few things to keep in mind for maintaining a higher level of self-confidence.

Positive Thinking 

Well, it all starts with a positive attitude, doesn't it? Believing that something good will happen is the first step. Negative thinking simply is not allowed. You must truly believe that there are no circumstances strong enough to deter you from reaching your goals. Remember too, that positive thinking can be contagious. When positive thinking spreads, it can open doors to new ideas, customers, friends, etc.

Persistent Action 

Now all of the positive thinking and believing in the world is useless if it is not applied towards a goal. You have to take action, no excuses are allowed. This action must also be persistent. Trying once and then giving up is not going to be enough. Keep at it one step at a time. If you can't get by a certain step, then find a creative way to try again or just go around it.

At the beginning of this article we identified a few traits that are common among successful entrepreneurs. You should be able to look ahead and see yourself where you want to be. Now just maintain a strong belief in yourself and your skills, stick with it, and don't give up. If you can do that, you're already half way there!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Voice of Customer Service

Customer relationship management tools abound, yet let's hear it for old technology. Your voice is the most multifaceted customer service tool in your toolkit. Your voice can convey concern, care and compassion. It can alternately convey boredom, neglect or contempt. Your challenge: to insure your voice reinforces the service you strive to deliver through your actual words and action.

Customer service is about more than mouthing the words customers want to hear. You have to sound believable. How do you sound? Try this experiment. Call your own answering machine and leave yourself a message normally intended for your customers. Now replay it. Are you convincing? Does sincerity ring from your voice or are you just mouthing cliches in a disinterested fashion?

Depending your tone of voice you can alternately sound:
Compassionate or Condescending
Confident or Insecure
Knowledgeable or Ignorant
Attentive or Disinterested
Focused or Scattered
Alive or Comatose


Pick one of the following phrases:

“Thank you for calling. We’re excited to serve you.”

“Welcome back. It’s so nice to see you again.”

“We’ve missed you. Thank you for coming in again.”


Mouth it a few times to a colleague next to you or over the phone to a friend.


- Now ask your listener: "How do I sound?"

- When you’re mono-tonal you may sound flat and lifeless.

- How does this sound when you’re tired? Uninspired?

- How does this sound when you’re expressive? Do you generate good will and energy?

- How does this sound when you’re sincere? Is there a genuine quality to your voice?

- How does this sound when you’re friendly? Does warmth emanate from your conversation?

- How does this sound when you are smiling? Does your good humor come translate?

<b>Mirror Mirror on the Desk</b>
There is a reason many telesales and customer service representatives have mirrors on their desk. It’s not to admire their beauty or to insure the proverbial spinach isn’t stuck to their teeth. In this case, the mirror has two purposes. First, as a reminder to reps to smile while on the phone. Even though their smile isn’t seen by listeners, it is felt. When we smile it loosens up our jaws and relaxes us. This is then conveyed through our voice. We sound more relaxed, friendly and open because we are. The act of smiling activates certain muscles in our face and neck and actually alters our disposition for the better. The mirror both reminds us to smile and confirms we are when we glance at it periodically. Not to sound overly Dramatics, but “What you see is what they get.”

<b>Inflection</b>
When we consider the message our voice sends customers, don’t forget to consider your inflection. It is important to understand where in a sentence you put the emphasis. What words do you accentuate? Which words do you emphasize? Depending on your placement of accent you can send different messages with the same set of words. Consider the following statement: “It’s all over my friend.” Depending on the placement of accent and pause, this statement could either lament the end of a successful run of some sort, or be describing the result of a sick bird flying overhead of your pal.

Similarly, this statement, based on inflection, may send two entirely different messages: “What’s that in the road ahead?” or “What’s that in the road, a head?” You can see how inflections inform. Let’s make sure the information we convey is supported by our inflections.

Actors often take the Shakespearean phrase “to be or not to be, that is the question” and repeat it alternately while emphasizing different words. For instance, one variant might be “To be or NOT, to be THAT is the question!”

Revisiting our triplet of phrases let’s see how inflection alters their meaning:

“Thank you for calling. We’re delighted to serve you.”

We can place the accent on different words to convey different sentiments. The capital letters indicate the words being accented through our inflection.

“THANK you for calling. We’re delighted to serve you.”

“Thank you for CALLING. We’re delighted to serve you.”

“Thank you for calling. We’re DELIGHTED to serve you.”

“Thank you for calling. We’re delighted to SERVE you.”

“Thank YOU for calling. We’re delighted to serve YOU.”

For yourself, try this same exercise with each of the statements below, accenting different words within each sentence so as to find the inflection that best conveys your sentiment.

“Welcome back. It’s so nice to see you again.”

“We’ve missed you. Thank you for coming in again.”

<b>Voice Your Concern</b>
Using a pleasant tone, effective intonation, and empathic emotion your voice can go a long way toward helping customers feel heard, valued and cared for. Mama was right, it is more than what you say, it's how you say it too.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Subliminal Advertising - How To Use It

Some of us scoff at subliminal advertising techniques. We like to think our minds are entirely logical and immune to the influence of others. This just isn't true, as any good salesman knows. After studying the subject for some time, I have come to accept that I will not just buy things, but I will be "sold" things, even by way of subliminal techniques.

What I CAN do is learn the techniques that are used on me. Then, if I want to, I can use them too, when I believe it is ethical to do so. More importantly, I can protect myself from these techniques, or at least be sold the RIGHT things. Want to do the same? Would you like to learn a few subliminal advertising techniques? Start with the following sales pitch:

"Does public speaking make you nervous? What if it was easy? Imagine standing at the podium, knowing exactly what to say to make them love you. Wouldn't that feel great? Just apply our simple methods, and you'll have that power. Use the form below to <i>order right now</i>."

Okay, let's dissect the sales pitch, sentence-by-sentence.

Sentence #1 : Does public speaking make you nervous? This gets the reader to say yes, which is habit forming. Getting a prospect to say yes is a classic old technique that still works. It also introduces the problem, for which the solution is coming.

Sentence #2 : What if it was easy? This suggests the possibility of a solution, creating hope and anticipation in the reader.

Sentence #3 : "Imagine standing at the podium, knowing exactly what to say to make them love you." The word "imagine," gets the reader to do just that. Helping a prospect to create a scene in their mind creates desire for that scene to be reality, and creates good feelings too.

Sentence #4 : Wouldn't that feel great? This suggests a positive emotion and gets another yes. Questions involve a prospect more, and it is better to suggest an emotional state (by asking) than to tell a person how to feel.

Sentence #5 : Just apply our simple methods, and you'll have that power. The "and" is used to infer cause and effect (you'll have the power because you used our product). This is subtle way of getting the reader to accept the benefits of a product uncritically.

Sentence #6 : Use the form below to order right now. The last line directs the reader with "Use the form below." The "order right now" is called an "embedded command," because putting it in italics subtly draws attention to it, and influences a prospect without him noticing consciously.

This simple paragraph uses many so-called "hypnotic sales techniques." The idea is that by using the right words and techniques, you can put a person into a kind of "buying trance," in which they are much more receptive to your offer. Do these techniques work?

When I first learned about them, I used them to rewrite the subscription page for the Brain Power Newsletter. A free newsletter may be an easy sell anyhow, but I immediately started to get four times as many subscribers from the same traffic.

This is powerful stuff. Four times the response? I was either the worst copy writer prior to my changes, or these techniques really work. And I was only using a few of the dozens of subliminal advertising techniques available.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Making Money with an Online Business: 5 Things to Watch For

Depending on whom you talk to, today's economy is either on a roller coaster, on the verge of a recession, or in a full-fledged recession. Whichever is the case, there's little doubt that people are anxious about their economic well-being. Some are in danger of losing their homes, some are in danger of losing their jobs, and some are just plain scared about the future. That's why an increasing number of people are looking for new ways to make money; even if they don't get rich, they won't get deeper in debt. Instead of going out and getting another job, more people are opting to start a money making business online.

A home business has many advantages over looking for a second job. For one thing, there's no commute, which means you don't have to get gouged at the gas pump. For another, you can set your own hours and work when it's convenient. Finally a home working opportunity can give you peace of mind, since there's no chance that you're going to be laid off.

When it comes to an online business opportunity, however, it's often hard to choose among the many offerings out there. Here are five things to watch for when reviewing a potential money making business.

1. How Internet savvy do you need to be? One of the big mistakes people make is signing up for an online home working opportunity, and then finding out that they need to design web pages or continually update product offerings. That's simply beyond the ability level of most people. Instead, seek out a business offering that doesn't require you to buy a domain name, find a web host, upload HTML code, and so forth. In other words, you want a system that is as fully automated as possible.

2. How much of a back office is required? Many online business opportunities require you to maintain a complicated back office where you track sales, contact customers, provide support, and so on. In most cases, you even have to set up your own merchant account in order to accept payments and credit cards. That's a major headache, to say the least. Instead, look for an opportunity that doesn't require a back office set up, and that only requires that you have a PayPal account. Remember the more fully automated it is, the less time you have to spend in order to make money.

3. Avoid networking affiliates and MLMs. Multi-level marketing (MLM) and many networking affiliate programs are great get rich quick schemes - if you get in on the ground floor. If you don't, your hard work benefits those above you, but doesn't add much to your bottom line. Select a business where you receive 100 percent of the payments made to you.

4. Find products that sell. In today's environment, the best bet for products are those that are downloadable. For example, there is a huge market for software, e-books, graphics, and website content. If you become a reseller of these kinds of electronic informational products, you will be well on your way to having a successful business.

5. Keep it simple. Many home business opportunities require you to jump through hoops in order to launch your own enterprise. Before you know it, you're signed up for trainings, paying out membership fees, participating in conference calls or web-based seminars, and so on. Instead, find an opportunity that offers a valuable product and that makes it simple to create your own income stream.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How To Bring Originality To Your Business Ideas

If you are immersed in the world of internet marketing, you have probably heard many times the advice: don’t re-invent the wheel, follow someone successful. But simply copying a business idea is sloppy and might not get you the results you are dreaming about, just because it has been done already in that way. So how can you add a zesty twist to your business idea?

Many people use the excellent technique of brainstorming. You simply write down, without editing, all the business ideas you can think of. Remember, you shouldn't judge any idea at this point.

The best place to start, of course, is to think of business ideas relating to your interests and passions, things you know quite a lot about or are passionate about learning more about. Anything can work: pet care, model airplanes, car accessories, home decorating, knitting…

But identifying your passions and interests is only the very first step toward a great business idea. Let’s face it, many people have cats, for example and learn about the best food for their cat or all about the best product for eliminating tics. So how can you come up with original business ideas on such a popular topic?

For your first business idea, try to stick with things you have experienced. Do you have a special tip to share with people? Something you learned while trying something new? Is there a life experience you can describe in detail and through it help others who are going through the same experience as well?

The point is that you will always have an original twist to your basic business idea, because no one has gone through any experience in the exact way you did, with the same emotions and lessons, conclusions and thoughts...

You will always have something different and unique to say about something common, some small change to offer to an already existing system, a personal perspective on things that gives you something to offer. There lies your personal bank of business ideas.

A first original business idea can help you establish yourself as a brand name in the field of your interest. But what about other topics? What about your next business ideas?

Continue to brainstorm, using associations and questions. Associations can help you identify smaller markets, different ideas for complementing products, such as a series of books or a suite of programs, create related websites and much more beyond that. The sky is the limit, plain and simple!

The questions you can ask yourself about a business idea are, for example: does such a product already exist? Can I improve on the same idea? Is there a concern of people who share my interests that has not been taken care of yet? Can I come up with a simple solution to a simple problem?

Remember, someone may have come up with a business idea you are interested in already, but you can always look for a personal twist of your own to add and make it uniquely yours.

Brainstorming is the key to that mind vault of business ideas each one of us has. You can brainstorm everywhere, by your desk or in a restaurant. All you need is a piece of paper or an open file. Most people would prefer peace and quiet for this exercise.

You can write single words or complete sentences, draw pictures that relate to your business ideas or any other technique that will keep the idea clear later when you review it. Let your brain run, don’t hold back.

When you are done, you will be surprised at how many new and unique business ideas you can collect from this list. Simply add your personal twist and you are on your way to fulfilling your dreams.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Business Funding Sources

When you decide to open a business on your own, often times the excitement will have you ready to launch your idea right away, however one thing that may be holding you back. You have several options in gaining much needed capital to begin to implement your business ideas. This article will include some ideas you can use to find funding for your business and begin to make the capital you need to grow.

So where can you begin to find funding sources for your business to gain capital? First place you should look is at the support of your friends and family. Occasionally, some people will get lucky and be able to find a lender within their family or friends to begin a business. You will want to be extremely careful however, borrowing from close friends or family can hurt your relationship with them, if extreme care for repayment is not made.

Another excellent avenue is to investigate any type of small business loans your government may offer. Many governments will offer new business owners loans for business start up, or disaster assistance and training. Also with the fast growing internet population there has been websites that have been created that allow lenders and borrowers to come together in efforts of starting up a business.

Another idea is to seek out venture capital firms; these are types of financial businesses that pulls together all partners resources and use these funds in efforts to help a new business entrepreneur being their business. In addition, look into your home equity, these types of loans typically called a second mortgage, allows you to borrow money from an institution by using the equity contained within your home as a form of collateral.

Lastly, credit cards and angel investors are two other types of funding sources you can investigate. Using your personal credit card can be a very tempting funding source; this typically works if you have enough of a credit limit as well as the means to pay it. With credit cards, you will want to be extremely careful in using them for your business venture and make sure that you keep up with the minimal payments at least; otherwise, you could end up hurting your credit and its rating.

Angel investors are typically retired executives or business owners, which are specifically there to help you start your business. These angel investors typically can provide you beginning capital in excess of what any other funding source can. Generally, these loans can start at $20,000 all the way up to around two million.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Number One Reason For Small Business Failure.

Nearly half of all small businesses fail within the first two years of operation. The number one reason for business failure is inadequate planning. The second reason is under-capitalization.

So before you mortgage your house, or go into debt financing your business, you need to know if your business is going to do more than survive -- you want to know if it's good enough to thrive! Here are three things successful businesses that have stayed in business for five years or longer have in common:

1. The idea. A successful business start-up always starts with an idea. Something that makes your business stand out from all the rest. So how do you know if you've got a good idea?

You've probably got a good idea if you can answer yes to any of the following questions: Does your idea provide the solution to a significant problem for your target market? Does it satisfy a need or want? Does it create an opportunity?

The most successful businesses either fix problems (either real or perceived), or they increase your customer's pleasure. They create a repeat need for a product or service among the target market.

2. The market. Your chances of survival are better if you can answer the following questions with a yes: Is there already a market for your product or service? (It's much easier to fill a need than trying to create an entirely new market.) Can your target market afford to buy your products or services? (If they can't afford it, it doesn't matter how great it is, you won't sell any!) Will your target market perceive your product or service as valuable? (If they want it, but don't think it's worth what you're selling it for, you won't make any sales.)

3. Your ability. Do you have the people, the resources and the knowledge to be able to consistently provide your products or services to your target market? Can you maintain a competitive advantage? Do you have enough manpower? Can you purchase the supplies and materials you need over the long run?

Your first step always is to create a solid business plan. Your business plan is more than an essay on "Why I deserve to get funding for my idea" however. Don't spend all the time creating a business plan and then toss it in the bottom drawer of your desk. Your business plan should be a living, breathing roadmap that helps you make sure you're on course and reaching the goals that you set for your business.

The second step to business survival is getting enough financing. Although the term "bootstrap entrepreneur" describes most small business owners, having enough capital to be able to keep your business afloat is vital to your survival.

When you're creating your financial analysis of your business, make sure you're being realistic about costs and expenditures, so that you give yourself the cushion you need to succeed.

If finding financing is a problem, either because you don't have enough credit or equity, or there are other problems, take the time to look into the resources that are available in your community. There are a wide variety of grants and loans (including microloans) for entrepreneurs, if you know where to look.

Some great resources will be:
-The Small Business Administration
-Local Small Business Development Centers
-Women's Organizations
-Local University or Community College
-Chamber of Commerce
-SCORE (The Association for Retired Executives)
-Nonprofit organizations that work on economic development in your area

Use other successful business models as a guide. When you're getting started, look around. What businesses are successful? Why? What is it they're doing that is working? What attributes do you admire, and why? You stand a better chance of succeeding if you're modeling someone who is already successful.

Find a mentor. Most entrepreneurs have great skills and abilities, but no one does everything well. You probably already know what your strengths and weaknesses are. (If not, there are many resources and tools that can help you figure it out!) Rather than ignoring your weaknesses, find a mentor who can help you either build your skills in your weaker areas, or offer advice for getting what you need.

If you take the time to plan to succeed, you could be creating a legacy that will be enjoyed by future generations, and that other entrepreneurs will look at as a model for building their own businesses.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Making The Sale Of Your Life

Doing things right with your own online marketing of entertainment networking

Be your own business, be for real, and show the world you know how to sell online better than anything else. Building a marketing network that you control uses the same skills you have always used to sell pretty much anything. But online, it is easier because you have the time to develop your sales pitch exactly the way you want it.

Today’s world of sales is very different than from 10 or even five years ago. More and more people are using the internet every single day. The internet is the most efficient way to distribute human knowledge in effect, to the entire globe at present. It will probably continue that way for at least 30 years.

The element to consider now however, is the human one. Most people take their technology for granted, or they hold it so dear to themselves that it is more important than the family house pet. Values have changed so much since the new millennium began that people are becoming more and more cybernetic by the day without even realizing it.

That is something significant, because with the computer becoming a center for work, study and social life, the Acropolis from ancient Greece has now spread out across the world and can reach into the schools of thought that permeate the atmosphere of every cyber café and home office.

Home-business networking online with your very own sales program and structure need not take thousands of dollars in personal investments, or long years of college study at Yale or Harvard. Although it does help, it’s not necessary. What is necessary however, is merely the human factor of a world that seems intent on mechanistic reality.

Sales is about the human element. Selling online means selling to human beings who find themselves attached to a mechanical world through a cybernetic interface. And that means reminding people that they are human. Entertainment is about humans, about a human reality, and one that demands a certain amount of fun and distraction.

Networking online means being real, being honest about what you sell and really showing that you can sell. The skills that we use to make a good sale are still the same human skills as with traditional face to face sales, but now we have an advantage, the electron.

Time to think, time to focus and the time to build a presentation online, of course a little persistence on your part as a sales professional is a world of difference, the electron has forever revolutionized first impressions.

We as a human race are ready to come together in one place “the internet,” and civilizations exist to improve the quality of life. That is the job of the entertainment industry, to improve how we live our lives to the fullest possible potential. Selling catharsis is important to our new cybernetic world order.

Selling cathartic experiences with online business networking in the entertainment industry is selling more than a commodity, it’s selling a basic human need, and it’s selling “an experience.”

Be for real

Long ago in the days of traditional door to door networking sales professionals, selling a product was like having an excellent first impression, creating rapport, getting to know the client’s needs, having a conversation, making friends and then laying the sales pitch down. That hasn't changed with online sales because people are still people.

Building a network has always had the same rules. So what has changed? The fact that instead of going face to face with people at the door step we are now approaching them for the first time through a media of which many are not yet familiar. The internet interacts with images, sounds and movement, just like in the real world, but the movement, the sense of smell and taste are now virtual sensations.

It’s just like having a digital outdoor sign inside a virtual freeway of flowing electrons or a digitally moving poster board inside a coffee shop. By just clicking on them you go to the appropriate electronic address. Online marketing business affiliates that work for the entertainment industry have to build advertisements that really make clients want to visit the entertainment site.

With a little honesty, knowing your product and showing that you know how to be creative in the marketing industry, you will be for real, and have your own company with your own hours. Working for yourself in the world of cyberspace is the only way to be truly successful today.

With your own business, one that you believe in, one that sells a product you believe in and one that provides the proper motivating inspiration to succeed, there is only space for real and honest business professionals.

The Skills to Sell

The skill to sell is one that is very subjective and not everyone yet understands how a person can actually learn to sell something. It is possible to learn to sell something just as it’s possible to learn to read and write or any other ability.

Selling online is an ability that can be learned just as easily as out in the face to face world. Especially for those who are already professionals in the area. Some people are just naturally interested in one thing while other people in another. No one was simply born knowing how to read, yet here, you and countless others are, reading this text.

It takes years before children can read, so, why would things be different for anyone trying anything else for the very first time? It is no different, but sales on the internet is exactly like sales in the real world, and if you know how to do that, you know how it works online.

Basically the point is to ask yourself, are you good at selling and do you want to be even better? Of course you want to be even better than you already are and the internet offers that chance.

It will take a frame of mind that cannot in any way be compromised with things that are not equal to or above your own personal goals. It will take the kind of willpower that you only hear about in tales of great deeds. But most of all, it will take the kind of enduring self-discipline that it takes to conquer your own self.

Time to Think

The greatest advantage to selling online is the time one consecrates to the eternal flow of human creative thought. You have time to research your target public, create enduring and valiant presentations that have never been seen before anywhere and most of all, time to be persistent.

The target public is not just going to pop out of the wood work, they are there though. People are beginning to come together in a new globalized civilization and we are at the very head of those interested in commerce, trade and foremost entertainment.

We sell what people want. Finding them is as easy as putting up signs on the freeway of flowing electrons and in virtual reality cafes that they might chance onto while surfing the silver thread of silicon webs.

Mostly, chat rooms and e-mails do most of the work for affiliate marketers, even more so for those building a home network, but nothing can compare to the power of having a static site on your very own server and a sub-directory for blogging.

Sales is endowed with the coherent patterns of human speech and has been responsible for the development of new linguistic patterns unlike anything else in our history. Creative people have creative ways of dealing with markets, and on the internet nothing could have more potential than network builders who enjoy a good conversation.

Time to think is really that, time to talk over ideas and concepts that directly may not even appear to be related to entertainment, but related to rapport, empathy and feeling. Blogging is a way of creating interesting conversations in forum fashion, that people may discuss their own passions.

Passion is the very blood of a sale. When we see a passionate person talking about their passion, we too become passionate. But it must be for real. Nobody wants to buy a vacuum cleaner from a person who sees the vacuum cleaner as a domestic tool for the unhappy domestic servants of the world.

People want to buy vacuum cleaners from people who see the vacuum cleaner as a revolution to our way of life on earth! But really see! Not acting like they see. Really seeing!

Of course most people probably haven’t received a vacuum cleaner sales person at their door in over a decade, the metaphor is perfect. If you truly believe in what you sell, if you truly know that it is fulfilling of some exceptional role in society, you will sell it well.

This is why blogging sells so well for online networkers. Passion sells, and it is found by the search engines more often than sites that don’t evolve. Chat rooms and blogs do more work for online marketing than static sites do, and that is purely human.

Only a professional sales person can deal with it. Learn the area, research and you will soon find that your marketing company can be for real, even in an ocean of electrons.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tips For Selecting The Right Public Relation Firm

Sometimes, a great product is not enough to get the attention your company deserves from the public. Sometimes, you need to make waves the right waves in order to get noticed and employing a public relation firm can help you gain your place in the limelight.

The relationship between a company and its public relation firm should be long-lasting. IF you change public relation firms periodically, the public may end up being confused with the ever-changing messages of your ads. Start advertising right with the right public relation firm.

Here how to find the perfect public relation firm for your company needs:

Work Experience in a Particular Industry and Location

Hiring a public relation firm with extensive experience in advertising and marketing hotels is not a good decision, no matter how many awards it had garnered, if your business belongs to the medical industry. Hotels and hospitals are two completely different things and that why you need a public relation firm with experience in handling public relations of hospitals, not hotels.

Likewise, hiring a fancy New York public relation firm may not be a good choice to make if your business is located in the smallest and most traditional town of Texas. Again, New York and Texas are two completely different tastes and inhabited by completely different people, so what may work in New York could absolutely fail in Texas!

Party, Party, Party!

Public relation firms are best known for their ability to create glitzy events. Availing the services of the right public relation firm will enable you to create parties that are nothing but exciting and fun without having to spend half as much as you imagine you would for such events.

Offering Something beside Trendy

Most individuals believe that hiring a public relation firm is necessary only when you have to organize a party or get the right people to notice your product. The right public relation firm, however, can give you more than that if you know the right things to ask for.

A public relation firm understands that each company is unique from the other, even if they're competing in the same sector. This means different strategies as well. Given the opportunity, a public relation firm can also help you determine the right positioning in the industry, make brand recognition possible and identify the target market for your company and products.

Public relation firms are not all about parties and fun. They can get down to business too, if you're dealing with the right firm.

The All In One Media Kit

Getting heard is not enough; the best public relation firms know that saying the right things in the right manner are equally, if not more so, important. The right public relation firm takes the time to get to know a company inside and out in order to generate the right kind of media frenzy.

Numbers They know that figures carry considerable impact, but too much of it can make a report boring and uninteresting.

Events Narrating the company history can be tedious, so it must sound exciting while remaining factual at the same time.

Testimonials Customer cases are tricky; too much gushing can make a reader suspicious while lack of information will make a reader lose interest.

Ability to Solve Crises and Sensitive Issues

Publicity firms generally act like problem solvers. When a crisis ensues that threatens the reputation or credibility of a company, a good public relation firms able to step in to smooth out ruffled feathers and restored damaged company images.

Creativity and Out of the Box Thinking

The right public relation firm never runs out of creative ideas to help promote your company. Because it knows that the world around us is constantly changing, its also aware that the company must have continuous use of dynamic advertising for their success.

Adapting a Maternal Role

Lastly, the right public relation firm is one who acts like a mother hen to your company. It knows how important it is to listen to your concerns and your complaints, but it also knows when its right to stand firm and push for its suggestions while ignoring your recommendations. The right public relation firm always has your best interests at heart -even if it may not seem so at first glance!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Strategies For Successful Business Networking

There are a variety of organizations that run networking groups across the country. The largest group is probably BNI, which offers members the chance to attend weekly meetings and develop new professional relationships to help them grow their business. some chambers of commerce are now organizing "leads groups" for their members as well. These groups are intended to offer members a way to connect with each other and potentially refer each other business.

In most "leads groups" each group allows no more then one representative from any industry, so if the group has a mortgage broker other mortgage brokers have to join another group or wait for the seat to open up. The idea is that by restricting membership, you eliminate competition within the group.

The agenda at most structured networking meetings is pretty straightforward. Each member is given an opportunity to introduce themselves, then there is a short presentation by one or two members (each member gets the chance eventually). The meeting ends with members discussing potential referrals for each other. This means that most of the members get about one minute to present who they are and teach the other members of the group how to refer to them.

Most people do a great job of presenting themselves. However, most people do not think to ask for referrals. At most networking events, you are not expected to ask for a referral or explain what a good referral for you is. However, at a leads group it is not only acceptable, it is expected!

I am involved in a number of networking groups and have used the simple outline below to create my elevator pitch (quick introduction). When I deliver my elevator pitch to a leads group, my goal is to educate everyone in the room about my company and what I do, as well as to teach them the best way to refer others to me. In addition, I want to make sure I actually ask for a specific referral. I will go through each piece of the outline in detail, but here are the basics.

    * Introduction
          o Name
          o Position + company name
          o Location of the company
          o Overview of services
    * Tell a story
    * Call to action

The introduction piece of your presentation should stay the same every time you give it. You might say something like, "My name is Joe Smith. I am mortgage broker at ABC mortgages in Anytown, USA. We offer a full line of residential and commercial mortgage products." You can add some additional detail, but you should really focus on keeping this short and on point.

At each meeting, you will have the chance to differentiate yourself from the competition by telling a short story during your presentation. The story can be related to a specific challenge you helped a client overcome, a unique feature of your product or service, or you can simply talk about a new development at your company. Consider writing out your stories in advance so you know what you are going to say at each meeting. In addition, you can schedule the content so that the other members of your group learn more and more about you at each meeting. You need to focus on educating your group a little more each week.

The "call to action" is very important and the piece that most people overlook. You need to tell the other members of your group exactly what type of referral you are looking for. For example, our mortgage broker, Joe Smith, might say, "Today a good referral for me would be a Realtor at XYZ real estate company." Joe may also say, "Today a good referral for me would be anyone who purchased their home more then 10 years ago."

I always recommend that your "call to action" is as specific as possible. If Joe stands up and says that a good referral would be anyone who needs a mortgage, the rest of the group will have a harder time thinking of people to refer. If Joe asks for an introduction to a specific person at a specific company, someone in the group may know that person or know someone at that company who can facilitate Joe's introduction. The more specific the request, the more likely it is to trigger someone else in the group's memory.

A last minute hint:

Keep focused on the networks of the people in the group, not on the people themselves. In other words, when you are participating in a networking or leads group, you should not focus on gaining the business of the people at the table. Instead, you should focus on gaining their trust so that they will refer you people in their network.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

How Can You Lure Consumers Into Loving Your Brand?

Our starting point is to be clear as to what we mean by "love for a brand". The love of a brand is more similar to the love of ice-cream than the love for a spouse. Love for a brand is actually a strong feeling of anticipation for something good, pleasant or beneficial that we believe with great certainty that we will get from the brand. It is the anticipation for good experiences, pleasant sensations or positive emotions. Consumers love the M&M chocolate candies, buying at IKEA, driving a BMW, using a Nokia telephone or searching for information in Google, exactly because of the focused and intensive anticipation which they enthusiastically describe as "love". But we, as professionals, need to understand what is behind the verbal descriptions of consumers, so that we will be able to stimulate such feelings. To stimulate anticipation for benefit is a more approachable task than to "stimulate love".

How do consumers "fall in love" with a brand?

Structurally, it happens in the same process as people falling in love with people. Let me describe how this happens. We all have beliefs as to what will satisfy our needs, what will be good for us and will make us happy. In many cases we are not aware of them or are only partially aware. Often they are not phrased in words, but exist in fleeting images and scenarios that we experience by imagination. They form our pre-disposition to desire.
When a brand succeeds in being perceived by us as a tangible realization of our abstract beliefs regarding what will be good for us (the pre-disposition) - the anticipation that the brand will be good for us is the result. The brand is thus perceived as an opportunity to achieve the benefit that we have in our imagination. This is also what happens when we are seduced or fall in love with a partner, and this is also where the similarity between love for a brand and love as the basis for a relationship between people, ends. We anticipate that the brand will be good for us and therefore we want it. The commitment that we have towards people and the mutual pact that exists in relationships can never be formed towards a brand.

How do we create the "Click"?

The process of developing a brand starts with an insight. To reach such an insight we must unearth and interpret the non-conscious set of rules that constitute the pre-disposition of the consumer. There are advanced research tools that help identify this set of rules. They require psychological expertise and advanced interviewing skills and thus they are not commonly used by research firms (The tool that I personally use is called ForeSearch). The insight is only the beginning of the process. We use this to guide the creative process by which we devise a new concept for providing the consumer with a benefit that realizes his pre-disposition. This concept is the basis for the brand.

How to influence the intensity of love?

The more the benefit of the brand is perceived as important and as rare, so will the emotions be stronger. Then there's the question of how far can the brand be trusted to supply such a benefit in a good and consistent manner. Good management can guarantee the second factor. A brilliant strategy is needed for the first factor.
How can you create an important and rare benefit? What you are looking for is a benefit that is intuitively important to the consumer, but not yet connected with your product category (I call this: Off-Core Differentiation). An example of this is the commitment at the heart of the strategy of The Body Shop chain of stores for the protection of the environment and helping the needy all over the world. In this way, successful brands enjoy immunity from imitation by competitors, as what they are doing seems so irrelevant to the category. The second rule is to supply this benefit in a new manner, unique and different from how it is supplied in other product categories.

The benefit can be intangible

Any off-core benefit is by definition an "added value" to the benefit stemming from the product itself, as the benefit from the product itself is naturally on-core. The off-core differentiation that you adopt can be based on a benefit that is not tangible or experiential, but interpersonal, social or psychological. When De-Beers launched the brand "Right-Hand Ring" in 2003, they created a new instrument to achieve a social benefit. A woman can wear a "Right-Hand Ring" on her right hand of course, to signal that she is single, as opposed to a ring on your left hand, which signals engagement or marriage or simply a gift form her spouse (kindly note: in Eastern Europe, for example, the hand symbolism is reversed!). De-Beers created a symbol whose meaning is known to everyone through an extended advertising campaign, and as a result women can use it to send a message to their surroundings.

How will the consumer "discover" the brand?

It is easier for consumers to fall in love with a brand when they feel that "it comes from within them", as opposed to it being "sold" to them. The key to this is what I call "Electrifying Marketing" instead of "Satisfying Marketing". The usual marketing is "Satisfying Marketing" whose main objective is to please the consumer and satisfy him. In contrast, "Electrifying Marketing" promises surprise and excitement, plays hard to get, toys at the consumer and sets conditions and obstacles on the road to sweet satisfaction.

How will you turn your brand into a great show?

A good way to bring the brand's strategy to life is by using the tools of "Drama Theory". Furthermore, the success of a brand, which has an intangible value beyond the function of the product itself, depends on the consumer's willingness to accept something unreal as real, i.e. be in a trance (I call this "The Brand's Trance"). Drama has been known for centuries to put audiences into a trance where they allow themselves to be swept away by unrealistic plots. I usually begin the development of the creative approach for the brand's expression, presence and unfolding, with an analysis of the "Drama of the Brand". Every powerful brand provides the consumer with a benefit that he yearns for, and that is neither easy nor simple to achieve. The Drama of the Brand is the confrontation of two forces that occurs when the consumer attempts to achieve our brand's promised benefit, even before our brand is known to him. This analysis involves questions such as: what happens to the consumer when he is trying to achieve the benefit in other ways? What attempts and efforts does he make? What is the result? What internal and external difficulties does he encounter? How do they manifest themselves? How does he fail? And then? how does our brand help him in achieving the benefit he is seeking? Such clarification raises all the necessary materials for "dramatizing" the brand in a way that generates inside the consumer an exhilarating feeling of "found it!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Improving Management of Your Business

All companies have business processes that can be improved. Most companies can benefit from automation or further automation of solutions.

Improving Management of Your Business

Improving business processes is all about a work flow plan, often graphic, and implementation of automating and organizing work processes. It is also a way of defining software architectures and applications. Business process solutions help an enterprise monitor human and automated processes. It can also serve as an enterprise application integration (EAI) tool. Business process management solutions help you identify areas of your business that can be automated and used to apply business rules and guidelines. In practical terms, it acts like a virtual machine that executes process models rather than software code.

Business process solutions take business data and determine how the information is used to perform a task. By creating an overview, a business manager can plan and improve an existing business process. Some solutions also send data through a test set of tasks to ensure that a business process is being followed. These solutions permit a business manager to visually describe, control and trail the flow of a work process. Process solutions generally involve computer systems and software to automate a process.

Technologies used to implement process management solutions include work flow charts, BP-XML languages, ERP (Enterprise Resource Management), software development and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration). ERP is a set of applications that can cover financials, manufacturing, human resources and back-office business administration utilities of an enterprise. It is a business management system that integrates all components of the business as well as planning. On the other hand, EAI software operates as a center that interprets data and messages between different applications.

Improving and automating business processes is the path to gaining huge productivity. These management solutions monitor business presentation by defining a series of tasks that must be performed to attain a defined strategic goal. There are three obligatory requirements - flexibility, reliability and security.

A good solution must help in continuous process enhancement, but managing the huge amount of these processes becomes more and more difficult as organizations become highly complex. Process management solutions give you the capability to satisfy and retain your customers and also maximize your joint venture returns with other businesses.

Remember that business processes define your business, and they can also present your organization with a competitive benefit. If you can make your processes efficient, you will reap better customer relations and profits.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why Financial Statements Are Important: A Beginner's Guide

Accounting is considered to be one of those complicated yet necessary chores that keep people's financial affairs relatively clean. For the beginner who is just getting started, the process may not be the first obstacle. Often, it is understanding the special language used by accountants and those that work around them. In other words, one must wade through the jargon in order to understand what's going on. The first step in gaining understanding of accounting is to break concepts down to one fundamental point: financial statements.

Corporations are extremely fond of financial statements – after all, they are required to have them. Financial statements are, in a broader sense, just timely statements of the financial situation of an organization. They hold companies accountable for how money is earned and spent, down to the very last detail. Financial statements are often audited by external auditors to ensure that the company is handling records properly. This also confirms to third parties that the company is displaying a fair and balanced view of the organization's position. These are also called “cash flow statements”. Like most financial concepts, financial statements can be broken down into several smaller concepts. They are: balance sheets, cash flow statements, and profit and loss accounts.

Cash flow statements is another term for financial statements, but a little more specific. This statement shows exactly where the money goes – how it was made, where it was made, and most importantly, how was it spent. A business, after all, has many areas where money flows in and out: operating activities, investing activities, financing activities.

To clarify, operating activities are the daily internal business a company relies on to survive. This may include, but is not limited to: collecting money from customers, paying employees and vendors, interest and taxes, or even revenue from interest payouts. Investing activities are generally investments made by the company to fund purchases of equipment. Finally, financing activities are those that affect the flow of money directly, such as the sale of common stock or adjustments in long or short-term loans.

These calculations are then used to find the total increase (or decrease) in cash and investments. Fluctuations in operations, investing, or financing affect cash flow. This is called the “net change” in cash and marketable securities. From here, these calculations are checked against the balance sheet.

Wait, a balance sheet? Isn't that what we just did, balance?

No. A balance sheet sums up a company's assets, liabilities, and value at a certain point in time. Investors look to the balance sheet to determine a company's value based on what the company owns and what they owe to external sources. The amount of money invested by the shareholders affects company value in this way as well. The balance sheet follows a specific formula, where assets equal liabilities plus shareholder's equity. It is called a balance sheet because the two sides must balance out; after all, a company must pay for assets by either borrowing the money directly, or through shareholders. The balance sheet is clearly a great source of financial information on a company.

The last line of defense, the profit and loss account, shows the activities of a company during a period of time. This differs from the balance sheet in that a profit and loss account serves as a log of a company's activities over a period of time, while the balance sheet is just the financial position at a specific moment in time. Some value the profit and loss account over the balance sheet, as it marks a longer stretch of time than the balance sheet does.

Once broken down into parts, financial statements are not such a hard topic to handle, even for a beginner. Financial statements expose the practices of a company – while one does not get a specific blueprint of how a company makes or loses money, the end results are clearly displayed for people to see.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Avoiding Home Business Scams - Tips and Tricks

Now maybe the reason you’re interested in setting up a home business is because you’ve seen an ad somewhere, or you've been approached by someone. It was all about a great work-from-home money-making opportunity, and you’re excited. Finally, you can quit your job!

If you’re thinking of working from home by someone else’s rules, though, you have to realise that at least 99% of the offers out there are scams – after all, if it was that easy to pay a few dollars and make thousands, wouldn't everyone be doing it by now? Here are the biggest scams out there, how to recognize them, and how to avoid them.

Location, Location, Location. 

Where did you see that work from home offer? If you got it in the post, or by email, or saw it on a poster taped around a telephone pole, then I can guarantee you right now that it’s not a legitimate offer. If you saw the ad in a newspaper, in a jobs magazine or on a jobs website, then it’s a little more likely to be legit – but not much. Always check out any offer, and assume it’s a scam until you have iron-clad proof to the contrary.

Envelope Stuffing. 

This is the most established work-from-home scam, and it’s been going for decades now. Basically, once you pay your money and sign up to work from home, you’re sent a set of envelopes and ads just like the one you responded to. You might make some money if someone responds to your ad, but eventually there just won’t be a market for it any more. Anyway, work from home offers like this are illegal pyramid schemes.

You won’t make any money putting letters in envelopes – get over it.

Charging for Supplies. 

The practice of charging for supplies is hard to pin down to any one scam – it’s the way almost all work-at-home scams work (including the envelope stuffing, above). You’ll be asked to make a small ‘investment’ for whatever materials would be needed to do the work – and then you’ll be sent very shoddy materials that aren't worth anything like what you paid, and you’ll find that there’s no market for the work anyway.

If anyone asks for money upfront, run. A real company should be willing to deduct any ‘fees’ from your first pay cheque – if they won’t do that for you, then that’s because they don’t ever plan to pay you.

Working for Free. 

This variation on the scam is common with crafts. You might be asked to work at home making clothes, ornaments or toys. Everything seems legitimate – you've got the materials without paying out any money, and you’re doing the work. Unfortunately for you, when you send the work back, the company will tell you that it didn't meet their ‘quality standards’, and will refuse to pay you. Then they’ll sell on what you made at a profit, and move on to the next sucker.

Never do craft work from home unless you’re selling the items yourself. Note that you don’t need to be selling to consumers (you could be selling to wholesalers), but you still need to be the one deciding what you make and getting the money.

Home Typing, Medical Billing, and More. 

There are lots of work-from-home scams that involve persuading you that some industry has more work than it can handle, and so has to outsource to people working from home. For example, you might be told that you’d be typing legal documents, or entering medical bills into an electronic database. These scams have one thing in common: they all say that all you need is your computer and they all then go on to say that you need to buy some ‘special software’.

This software might appear to be from a completely unrelated company, but don’t be fooled – the whole reason the ‘work-from-home’ ad was there to begin with was simply as cynical marketing for the software.

As you can see, running a ‘home business’ that just involves ‘working’ for one company is a bad idea. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. Here’s the clincher, though: even with entirely legal work-at-home offers that do pay you for your work, you still won’t make anywhere near as much as you can with your very own home business. So why bother with them at all?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Running a Business on Limited Resources

When I first started my business, I went to the bank for a business loan. Simple enough, right? I had my business plan in order, an itemized list of everything that I would need to successfully run my business, and all the necessary documents. To put it plainly, I was turned down. Why? Not because I did not have the credit to back it up, or did not have a good business plan. The reason the bank man gave me was "because I did not understand that over 90% of businesses fail within the first year, and that I was not prepared in case mine did."

While I understand he was attempting to look out for my best interest, I felt cheated. He was not even going to give me the opportunity to fail. On some level, everyone that goes into business for themselves understand that chances are, the business will not make it past it's first year, and I was no different. The only thing was I had faith in myself that I would not give up trying. The loan processor took that as I would spend my life savings before giving up, and he did not want to see me financially ruin myself.

So what did I do? I set out on the adventure on my own, only using the limited resources and financial backing that I had. I bought second hand office supplies and furniture. I bought the small cheap laptop instead of the multi-thousand dollar computer specifically designed for what I would be doing. Without the proper money for advertising, I had to get creative. My advertising methods was unconventional, but they worked. I found that I did not need large amounts of money in order to get my business to the world.

So would I have been so successful had the loan processor gave me the business loan I asked for? I am not sure, because after all, I made it without the money, what would have happened if I would have had the proper money for advertising? Whatever the case may have been, I am glad he did not, because I am not better able to understand the limited resources that many small businesses face.

So how can you run your business on limited resources? Here are a few things that I learned along the way.

1) New vs. Used- When starting your business, you do not need everything to be "new." Second hand items cost substantially less then new items, and work just as well. Plus, if you think about it, customers will be more comfortable around your office if it feels "broke-in", rather then new and sterile. It gives them the feeling that you have been in business awhile.

2) Creative Advertising- You do not need the hundreds of dollars that it takes to place ads in papers or put commercials on TV.  It costs very little to design and print you own flyers and put them in places where your potential clients would gather. Turn your vehicle into a moving billboard by investing in a vinyl signage for your doors or windows. The best thing? Face to Face meetings with your potential clients do not cost a penny, so look for every opportunity to talk with our potential clients.

3) Work At Home- Depending on your type of business, you may consider working at home rather then renting office space. This will save you a lot of money on rent and furnishing an office. Once your business becomes more successful, then you can always rent office space later.

Overall, be thankful for the struggles that you go through now, because in the future, they will have been well worth it. Plus, it will give you a better understanding when it comes to other small businesses.

And, no matter what, never give up on yourself.