How to Start a Home Based Business

Starting a home internet business has become very popular in recent years because people know that there is potential to build a very lucrative business. With millions of people surfing the web everyday, the number of potential customers is endless. A home based business can fit into any kind of lifestyle and allows a person to set their own hours, be their own boss and work from the comfort of their home. Needless to say, some people are scared to start their own business because they often do not know where to begin. Here are some great business ideas to help you get started.

Start with a Business Idea

Home based businesses fall into three main categories: selling products, offering a service or offering a program. When making a decision on what kind of home business you want to start, research your business ideas thoroughly so you understand the nature of each business. Once you have a few potential business ventures, compare your ideas by weighing out all the pros and cons to determine which business best suits you. Choose what you feel most passionate about and that suits you best. Think about whether or not you can run this kind of business long-term.

Stick to a Budget

Determine a monthly budget and start up costs for your business and stick to it! It is easy to get carried away, which could bring your business to a halt if you have exhausted all your resources. Likewise, ensure you budget your time and decide how many hours a week you are planning to commit to your new home business. When building an internet business, expect to put in more hours initially to build clientele or momentum. Be consistent with your efforts and you may reap the benefits in the long run.

Effective Marketing Tips

When starting a home based business focus on your marketing strategies because these will have a huge impact on the success of your business. Use a variety of marketing tools and once you know what works best for you focus on your best strategies. Consider advertising tools like: web design, blogging, article marketing, press releases, or even offline advertisement. Your marketing strategies will be much more effective if you focus on building trust with your customers as well as meeting their needs. Ask your customers to give you regular feedback in order to improve your home business and make it as successful as possible. Treat your customers well and they will be your customers for life.

Stay Focused

Starting a home based business whether from home or not will have its challenges. Nevertheless, be prepared to work hard, to be self motivated and eager to take on new challenges. Set reasonable goals and expectations for yourself and your business. Revisit your short-term and long-term goals to help you stay determined and focused.

Network

Tell family and friends about your new home based business because your warm market can give you lots of referrals and these individuals can be your biggest supporters. Definitely, take advantage of forums that have like-minded professionals in your field. In these forums, you have a support network of individuals in your profession who can help answer your questions or help you overcome obstacles. In the first year, your learning curve is growing exponentially and these forums can help your business excel a little faster. You may develop friendships and who knows even business partners. Forums and discussion groups are a great resource and can help you expand your business and take it to a new level.

In summary, decide on a business venture that you are passionate about and stay focused. Stick to your budget, market to your clients needs and develop good relationships with people you meet along the way because you never know what opportunities lay ahead. With these tips, you should be confident enough to take that leap of faith and start a successful home based business.

Why Own Your Own Business?

Many people work in jobs that pay you just enough so you come back on Monday morning. That means you’re working in someone else’s business, helping them grow revenues and adding to their net worth rather than your own.

By contrast, owning your own company is the most direct way to control your economic future. Whether you are a business entrepreneur or a real estate investor, working for yourself and focusing on financial goals that are personal to you and your family gives you several advantages. This article is a short course on doing just that.

Is Owning a Business in Your Future?

Look at your own financial situation. Are you satisfied with it? Does it provide you the freedom to control your own time and financial choices? What are your talents and strengths? If you have the desire to be more in control of your financial future, then you may very well possess the necessary attributes to have your own business.

Many small business owners start part-time. That is, they keep their ‘day jobs’ and begin developing their own business on the side, on their own time. That might be having an eBay┬« business – as do some 1.5 million others. Or it might be investing in real estate. It might be providing a local service to your neighbors and community. Either way, you have lots of resources – from both the federal and state departments of commerce, to the national and local chamber of commerce, and the Small Business Administration.

What’s the SCORE?

Your community probably has access to a local chapter of SCORE – the Service Corps of Retired Executives. This is a volunteer-based service initiative of the Small Business Administration. Retired business executives who still want to contribute voluntarily join together to serve as mentors and consultants to new business owners starting out in their local community. They hold monthly seminars for new business, review and make suggestions for business plans, and often help open doors by using contacts and resources you may not know about.

Where Do You Start?

The start-up phase of any business can at first seem daunting, yet exciting. Choose a name for your business and check the website of your secretary of state to see if that name is available. Get a business license in your city or county in that name, and follow any local requirements such as filing a Fictitious Business Name statement in the local legal newspaper.

You’re going to need a business plan – one that helps you get focused and get financing. Though many business minimize the importance of a dynamic business plan, those willing to devote the time and attention it takes often see longer term success. Many of my clients over the years have come to see the wisdom of updating their business plans and financing arrangements so as to make their business as attractive as possible to potential business lenders.

What’s the Best Form of Business Entity?

The vast majority of business owners operate as a ‘Sole Proprietor’ – meaning that they do not choose to form either a corporation or LLC but rather operate solely in their own name. That is certainly the least expensive way to start a business. It requires little in the way of capital. It has only the most minimal of legal requirements. Yet though it is inexpensive, it is also potentially the most financially unstable due to the fact that if you and your business are legally one-and-the-same, then any liability arising from the business can result in complete financial devastation to you – since all of your personal assets are 100% at risk and can potentially be taken away from you.

It makes much more sense to use a company to start with. Having a company of your own provides a separate identity – that is, you are not the company and the company is not you. Plus, a company gives you a better way to control your taxes. There are approximately 4 times the number of tax deductions available to a company than are available to a sole proprietor. In addition, you can do so much more for yourself financially in retirement planning through a company than you can on your own as a sole proprietor.

There is clearly a national trend today towards the formation and registration of more Limited Liability Companies (‘LLC’) than corporations. This is primarily due to the fact that corporations require far more formalities and have far less flexibility than do LLCs. Using a corporation is still a viable option for many. It is perpetual in nature and can be an effective and tax-efficient way to do business for many. Corporations are used by many business owners and if you plan to take your company public for shares to be sold on a stock exchange, you’ll want to use a corporation rather than an LLC.

However, there is no denying that the number of LLCs formed every year now exceeds the number of corporations being formed on a national basis. With an LLC, the Operating Agreement drafted by a competent attorney will be a key element to the management of your business. It will set forth who is responsible for management, the sharing of profits and losses, the contributions of additional capital to the business, the nature of the business investments and holdings, and much more.

You cannot overlook the wisdom of having a solid business plan, however. It should set forth a clear mission statement and set of goals, as well as a description of how you and your business will achieve those goals. It should set forth a financial picture, including what you need in the way of financing so that your loan application to a small business lending source will have credibility and can be funded. It would make sense to attend live-training events that show you step-by-step exactly how to prepare a dynamic business plan and how to build a small business loan application that a lender will find credible enough to fund.

Bottom Line: You and not your current employer is responsible for your financial future. Your employer sees you as a means to an end – their own, and not you. The lifestyle you enjoy, the money to pay your bills and make purchases, and the way you spend your work time and time away from work can be within your control but you must act. The tax laws favor small business owners, and you should be one of them.

Include Joint Ventures in Your Small Business Target Marketing For Dramatic Profit Increases

What is consistently rated as one of the most effective small business target marketing strategies? Without a doubt it is the Joint Venture (JV), also known as a strategic alliance. Target, or niche marketing means that you are marketing directly to the prospect most likely to buy your product or service. Your JV strategy can be the ultimate form of target marketing since you are using the targeted customer and prospect list of another business owner.

The JV and strategic alliance are so popular and profitable because they leverage the assets (customer list, goodwill, relationship, etc.) your partner has developed with their client and prospect base. Nearly all potential buyers (business and consumer) prefer to do business with a company, firm or practice for which they have a degree of trust.

Marketing legend Dan Kennedy likes to say that we are all walking around holding an umbilical cord saying “plug me in and tell me what to do.” Whether you are looking for a place to buy a hot dog, to buy a yacht, or looking for a brain surgeon or a new church in your community, you are looking for someone to recommend where you should go to obtain the product, service or advice.

Don’t confuse the JV with referrals. Referrals are great for new business and are an effective small business target marketing strategy but generally are given only one or two at a time. Referrals can also dry up if you are not diligent about keeping in touch with your clients and letting them know how much you appreciate and value their business.

JV’s can be as simple as selecting a retail partner and issuing a joint coupon to one another’s client base. They can also be very complex, multi-million dollar deals between large companies. American Express is an example of a very large and sophisticated company that partners with several other large businesses to leverage the client lists of both firms. If you have one of their cards, you have received numerous calls and mailers from them endorsing their JV partners. The partners get the implied endorsement of a blue chip company like Amex and Amex gets increased card purchases as you use the card to buy the recommended partners products.

Now that you’ve decided to add the JV to your small business marketing tools, where do you start? The first thing you must do is to create a demographic profile of your target client. What else do they buy and where do they buy it? For example, Paul Flood Marketing, which is my company, implements a unique and non-traditional marketing system in small businesses and I guarantee profit increases of 25% or more in as little as 90 days. As the old saying goes, “Fish where the fish are,” so I have partnered with other small business consultants, primarily CPA’s and small business attorneys, who have endorsed my services to their clients.

If I had tried to contact many of these business owners cold, I would have probably been turned away but the endorsement of my trusted partners established trust. This is the trust you want to leverage with your potential JV partners.

Armed with the list of potential partners, you formulate your contact strategy. You could try writing letters but I am a strong believer in just picking up the phone and saying to the owner, “Hi, I am a local business owner and I have an idea that could help us both dramatically increase our sales and profits and I’d like to talk with you about it. Do you have a minute so I can explain the concept?

Great, if makes sense for us to talk in more depth, we can arrange a time to get together.” The thing I like about the phone is that I can immediately get a feel about the business and the person in just a couple of minutes.

When you first meet, you will most likely need to explain how the Joint Venture small business target marketing strategy works and how it will benefit both of your businesses. Most small business owners are only familiar with traditional marketing or networking so it may take a bit of explaining to get the concept across.

The most common objection you will encounter is the trust factor so bring testimonials and samples of your product, service, practice or whatever you are selling to the meeting. You need to show why the other business owner person know they can trust you and your business? People are naturally wary (as they should be) about referring others to their clients because their reputation is on the line, as is yours.

Always conduct due diligence. Talk to a couple of their clients and understand their product and commitment to quality service. If you feel uncomfortable at the beginning, bow out of the relationship gracefully. There’s no sense in adding aggravation to your life!

The other objection is the confidentiality of av client list, but that is easily overcome by offering to mail your endorsement of your partner to your list and they mail their endorsement of you to their list. What if you don’t have a list? Pay for a mailing to your partner’s list and pay them a commission or finder’s fee for leads you convert to customers. There are some professions that are prevented from paying or receiving finder’s fees so if this applies to you, you need to investigate alternatives.

What is the simplest JV strategy? Each partner mails an endorsement of the other’s business to their list with a description of the benefits of doing business with them and why they are recommending one another. It’s that simple. The key to success of the JV as your small business target marketing strategy is that you and your partners must be proactive in promoting one another and in managing the relationship. As the person who originated the partnership, take control and action to make it happen. If you have a partner who isn’t committed, drop them and find another.

When you are actively using the JV as a small business marketing tool, you will be amazed at the results you can achieve in a relatively short period of time. Of course, as with any other business strategy, there are experts like myself who can be delivering profits while you are attempting to find your first partner. The key is to make the decision to make it happen, to leverage your contacts and your list and get started!