CategoryBusiness

Have a Successful Career Working at Home

It is important that at home workers, entrepreneurs and the self-employed are certain to take care of their health, spiritual, mental and physical. Working at home can call for long hours, especially if business is booming. It can be tempting to work late into the night and on weekends. Over time, this can find a person spending large amounts of time indoors.

Successful At Home Workers Taking Regular Breaks and Days Off

A few weeks of sitting in front of the computer for ten or more straight hours a day without venturing outdoors might find one’s mood and energy levels dropping. For this reason, at home workers are strongly encouraged to take regular breaks throughout the day. Get up and walk away from the work area and do something completely relaxing and unrelated to the project that one was working on. At least one hour a day, be certain to get outdoors and soak up the benefits found in the sun.

Vitamin D is one of the key benefits gained from being outdoors beneath the sun. Women’s Health Magazine reports in their “Why You Need More Vitamin D” article that the vitamin helps to balance the body’s calcium levels. It also helps to boosts immunity and helps to regulate blood pressure.

Getting outdoors is also a great way to shift one’s thoughts and take a break from focusing on work. And who knows? One might also meet someone and make a new friend while outdoors walking at the local track and field or while walking or bike riding around the neighborhood.

Importance of Organization and Scheduling for Successful At Home Workers

In addition to taking regular short breaks throughout the day and for at least one to two hours a day, at home workers can find it highly beneficially to schedule and take regular vacations. These are times when at home workers leave their work for five or more consecutive days. Simply step away. Doing this can rebuild and strengthen one’s passion for the art or work that one earns a living doing. It can also hedge off burn out and allow insight and profitable ideas to surface.

Day calendars, Blackberries, Internet provider calendars and Microsoft Outlook are tools entrepreneurs, self-employed and at home workers can use to create their calendars. Retailers and office superstores sale day, week and monthly calendars. The calendars come in various colors including black, brown, pink, green and blue. The calendars also come in an assortment of sizes including pocket size, 8” X 11”, 4-7/8” X 8” to 24” X 37”.

Prices for the calendars and day planners range from $5.99 to over $24.00 per item. Some day planners like the At A Glance desk calendars come with a base stand that allow at home workers to simply buy annual refills to replace the former year’s calendar pages with.

Using Day Planners and Calendars to Stay on Track

Entrepreneurs and self-employed at home workers might find that shopping for the calendars and day planners early in the fourth quarter of the year or in February of the new year might allow them to realize the greatest cost savings. Reason for this is that retailers and office superstores often lower the prices on their calendars and day planners at the times of year when demand for the products is lowest.

At home workers can also purchase office supplies like staplers, staples, pens, desktop computers, laptops, ruled notebooks, erasers, journals, envelopes, shredders, copiers, printers and copy and print paper from office superstores. Be sure to check prices across products online before venturing out to the store. This can save at home workers time and gasoline money.

Also check local newspapers and coupon websites for coupons and rebates on office equipment. These costs saving websites allow users to locate and print coupons and rebates directly from their website. Most major retailers and office superstores accept coupons on manufacturer products that are sold at their store.

Married Business Partners: Working with a Spouse

A large percentage of new entrepreneurs are operating a family owned business where a husband and wife team are involved daily in the business management. This might cause a unique set of problems. Often many conflicts arise that are outside the framework of managing the business. These personal conflicts between married partners overpower any business problems and should be addressed at the onset of the business. It’s inevitable, when married partners experience conflict the business will suffer. Without communication there is a total breakdown in the business and marriage.

First, the husband and wife business team should outline a complete business plan before any troubles arises. The following tips are effective in alleviating personal conflicts which might affect the business relationship between spouses.

Discuss Business Plans

Both partners should discuss the business intimately to make sure they both share a passion for the business venture. It would be to the detriment of the business to discover later that the wife initially wanted to open a health food store and the husband wanted to invest in a sports bar. But they both decided on a family restaurant because it’s what they thought the other wanted.

Obligations

Discuss which family obligations might interfere with the business operation and commitments. Decide which is more important, attending your daughters softball game or answering client questions about a new business proposal on the table.

Business Decision Making

Discuss any problems you might encounter in the decision making process concerning the business.

For example:

  • Who will make financial decisions
  • Who will make marketing decisions
  • Who is responsible for sales
  • Which partner will make major purchases
  • Who will work with the clients
  • Who will handle the office work
  • Will both partners have to agree or will one make all decisions

Business Profit Shares

Agree how the profits will be allocated. Decide beforehand who is responsible for bill payments. What are the partners salaries. How much of the business profit shares will be invested back into the business.

Duties

Clearly outline who is responsible for what duties on a daily basis. Write it down in the initial business plans. This will decrease conflicts before they start.

Respect

Always treat each other as professionals and with proper respect, recognizing the others unique contribution to the business.

And finally, married business partners should always remember that their marriage is more important than any business conflict that might arise. And they will discover that the benefits surpass any conflict issues that arise. Following this will lead to long term success in the business world and marriage.

Small Business Selling in a Recession: Entrepreneurs Need to Sell Smarter in this Economy

There are a lot of books and videos, to help sales people sell better. Few, however, tell salespeople how to sell in a recession. That is often handled with a Darwinian approach that eliminates the weak. While survival of the fittest may be a common way to deal with this problem, it is not necessarily the best way to survive – particularly if the small business owner is the prime salesperson.

Understanding the business opportunities available to a small business is necessary to sell successfully. Small business owners should find ways to make more sales by finding solutions to the issues that prevent sales from occurring. During a recession, prospects are reluctant to spend money on anything they do not perceive as absolutely necessary. To make sales to these people, sellers must clearly show the need for their products and services. Additionally, sellers must approach their jobs differently. Here are a few suggestions.

Don’t Reduce the Price

The product has value. If a small business owner reduces prices, it can often lead to the perception that the product was never worth the original price. In an article for bnet.com called Five Strategies for Selling During a Recession, author Christina Salerno quotes HR Chally Group Chairman and CEO, Howard Stevens who said, “Most people think in tough times you have to give a special offer or cut prices. But that ends up devaluing the product – and the salesperson’s reputation.”

Stevens suggests that sellers should offer additional services or stronger guarantees with their products so customers will get added value without paying more.

Work Harder on Fewer Leads

Many sales people will try to accumulate as many leads as possible calling on each lead three or four times. John Asher, chairman and CEO of Asher, a sales training firm, says his firm’s research indicates that it takes 12 contacts to make a sale. Those contacts include emails, voice mails, face-to-face meetings, and phone conversations.

Asher believes the average salesperson will pick 50 prospects and give up on them after three contacts. “Elite salespeople,” says Asher, “will pick their top 10 prospects and give them 15 or 16 contacts.”

Work More Efficiently

During a recession, it is critical for salespeople to use their time wisely. Inefficient practices can cost money.

Most salespeople understand the importance of time management and do whatever they can to consolidate appointments and make all their cold calls in between those scheduled meetings.

Poor planning can result in lost opportunities which are not good for the bottom line.

Philip Mydlach writing for biztimes.com says that employees spend 30 minutes per day looking for misplaced papers and electronic files and are distracted or interrupted every 11 minutes. He suggests that salespeople take some time to determine how distractions are eating away at their work day and find ways to be more efficient. It can make a difference.

Focus on Solutions

Selling business solutions has always been a winning sales pitch, but in a recession, it offers even more opportunities for success. All products and services are designed to solve business problems. During a recession, a good salesperson will find more solutions than the obvious.

For example, a bicycle is not only a solution to transportation; it is an exercise machine, a hobby, a sport, and a faster way to travel in rush hour. An iron is not only a way to press a pair of pants; it is a way to look fresh on a business trip, a technique to apply a decal to a t-shirt, and a good door stop. The benefits are limited only by the imagination.

Don’t Give Up

Every small business owner should not throw up his or her arms and accept poor or low sales as part of the recession. Instead, they should make the effort to overcome the obstacles of this recession.

By maintaining their price and adding more services to their products, business owners will add more value to what they sell.

Working harder on fewer and better leads will increase the salesperson’s productivity and, combined with working more efficiently, will eventually result in more sales.

Lastly, a salesperson should find more solutions to a customer’s problems. Using solutions as a selling technique in a creative way will lead to more sales – even in a recession.

Think First for Better Business Writing: Start With the Brain, Not the Fingers, for Results-oriented Writing

For business correspondence that gets results, think carefully about what needs to be said and how it needs to be said before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

While technology may be helping people communicate more frequently (some might say incessantly), there’s little indication that people are communicating more clearly. In the business world, lack of clarity often translates into lack of results–which, in today’s competitive environment, can have disastrous results on individuals and companies. Clear writing begins with clear thinking. The following tips can help insure that clarity before writing that next business email, letter, report, or proposal.

Think Outcome

Ask, “What’s the objective of this email (or letter)?” An answer? An agreement? An appointment? If the purpose isn’t clearly defined, the chances of getting the desired outcome is greatly diminished. So before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, identify the purpose of the correspondence. Examples:

  • To get our customers excited about the new product enhancement.
  • To gain additional pricing information in order to complete this report.
  • To inform the Board of Directors of first-quarter earnings.
  • To demonstrate that we appreciate the customer’s business and to check for additional opportunities.

Knowing the objective before the first word is written keeps messages on track and increases the chances of getting the desired results faster and more efficiently.

Think Tone

After identifying the objective, decide on the appropriate tone; in other words, how the message, information, or request will sound. Is a light, conversational tone appropriate, or is there the need to be more formal?

Be careful about being too chatty and informal. Readers might form the impression that the message or request is not all that important. By the same token, avoid sounding too “corporat.” Even the most formal letters, reports, and presentations can have a friendly tone. Forget about trying to dazzle that person with literary style and command of business jargon. Just talk to that person.

Think Reader, not Writer

To influence someone to act, appeal to what that person cares about most. A fail-safe way to grab readers’ attention is to include them in the very first sentence. Whether offering information, making a recommendation, identifying a potential solution, or simply asking a question, involve the reader from the start. Examples:

  • “I think I can help with the delivery problem you mentioned yesterday.”
  • “There’s a seminar coming up that I can help you generate more revenue.”
  • “I’m disappointed you turned down our proposal, I’d like to offer one last suggestion before I wish you well with our competitor.”

Think Draft

There comes a time when the actual words must be put on paper or computer screen. Go for it. But don’t plan to send a first-and-only draft. Check to make sure the message is clear, the tone is appropriate. Correct the misspellings and typos. And remember that 99% of writing is re-writing. Don’t use the excuse that there’s no time to re-write. That’s like saying there’s no time to dress properly for a meeting.

Think Reputation

Remember that every piece of writing–be it an email, letter, instant message, or Twitter “tweet”–is a reflection of the writer and the writer’s professionalism. Smart professionals pay as much attention to their written correspondence as they do to any other aspect of their careers.

3 Ways to Bulletproof Business Editing: Prevent Embarrassing, Money-Losing Mistakes while Proofreading

In the likely case that your company doesn’t have an editing and proofreading budget, some advice for keeping your copy clear of errors.

As online communications become more and more prevalent, self-publishing makes self-editing a much more critical skill to master in business writing. Errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation may seem minor, but could dissuade potential customers from moving forward with business. Moreover, mistakes can be distributed globally with just the click of a mouse, multiplying the error over and over again. Proofreading is a skill that can take years to master, but these three tips will help create copy that is virtually bulletproof, compared to the errors in the competition’s written materials.

Proofreading Should not be the Writer’s Job

The reason why professional proofreaders and editors exist is because errors are far more likely to be spotted by anyone but the writer of the document. The writer who has spent hours poring over a proposal or business plan isn’t not going to be able to see that the comma on page 6 really should have been a semicolon. Handing off the document to an employee, partner, or family member to look over will yield surprising results: even those untutored in editing may spot glaring errors that the original author missed.

The high-paced, budget-restricted business world that makes professional editing rare likewise can make it feel strange to have one’s writing checked at all. Any business writer that appears to feel threatened by this new level of oversight should be assured that proofreading isn’t a professional threat so much as it is a competitive advantage.

Grammar and Spell Check

Most word processing programs will flag not only spelling errors, but potential grammar problems as well. The grammar function is less likely to be correct, but if it flags something, it’s worth looking at the passage again to make it says what it’s supposed to say. Typically, words that the programs doesn’t recognize will be underscored with a red squiggly line, while passages where the grammar is questionable will be highlighted with a green-colored squiggle underneath. There still isn’t a perfect substitute for human knowledge, but a word processor can at least nudge writers in the correct direction.

Reading Backwards

An old proofreader’s trick is to read a passage or paragraph backwards, one word at a time. It certainly won’t make as much sense, but the separation of the words allows the mind to divorce itself from the intended meaning and focus on what was actually written. It is limited to the reader’s own knowledge, however; misuse of “their,” for example, won’t be noticed by someone that isn’t clear on the difference any more than a spelling error could be. Giving this trick a try will yield many more mistakes, all identified before the client sees the finished product.

Editing business writing on a shoestring is possible, but care must be taken not to cut so many corners that the value can no longer be seen in the document.

Setting Up A Stamp Collection Export Business: Turning a Fun Hobby into a Profitable Home Enterprise

This article shows how an entrepreneurial stamp collector can market commemorative stamps to millions of stamp collectors around the world at very little expense.

Exports of collector items including antiques, artwork and stamps represent a thriving niche market in international trade. America shipped US$8.5 billion worth of collectibles to its trade partners, up 12.7% from 2014 according to the US Census Bureau – Foreign Trade Statistics.

Many countries issue commemorative postage stamps to honor special events, sports heroes and other celebrities. While superstar series stamps may be readily available in their country of issue, those same stamps will be scarce and possibly in high demand in other countries.

Whether new or used, exporting postage stamps is a virtually risk-free way to profit from a product uniquely made in the exporter’s home country.

Examples of Special Issue Stamps

Back in January, Australia issued stamps to celebrate Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush and Russell Crowe – all Aussie winners of Oscar awards. With each celebrity stamp costing only AUD$0.55 (US$0.39), the expenses for selling 4-stamp sets of Australian Oscar winner stamps to stamp collecting fans in North America, Europe and Asia would be minimal. Shipping costs would also be small since an exporter could use lettermail to send collectible stamp sets, rather than have to rely on more expensive parcel delivery.

If the US Postal Service issues a set of commemorative stamps to celebrate the life of pop star Michael Jackson, American stamp collectors will be presented with an opportunity to export Michael Jackson stamp souvenirs to collectors and fans around the globe.

Canada has released a set of domestic postage stamps that feature competitive sports for the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics. These include bobsleigh, curling, freestyle skiing, ice sledge hockey and snowboarding. Canadian stamp collectors can easily set up an export business selling these special stamps to collectors in the more than 80 nations that will compete at the Winter Games.

Stamps are Free from Export Restrictions

As confirmed with Canada Border Services Agency, collectible stamps are non-restricted goods for export purposes. Similarly, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services website excludes postage stamps from its list of prohibited and restricted imports.

Export documentation for collectible stamp shipments will be minimal, with no requirements for extra permits and certificates. In Canada, shipment of rare stamps valued at C$2,000 or above would require the exporter to fill out an export declaration form. Exporters should also consider insurance for higher value shipments.

Collectors’ pieces including postage stamps are duty-free in countries like Canada. Exporters should research whether other importing country charges any customs duties on stamps under tariff item code 97050000.

Other Advantages of Exporting Collectible Stamps

Partly due to small size, collector stamps also enjoy the following advantages as export products.

  • Stamp collecting is a hobby that people of all ages around the globe can enjoy
  • Very little storage space is required for inventory
  • Unlike perishable food products, postage stamps are durable if properly stored
  • Unlike technology product exports, collectible postage stamps never go obsolete
  • While many products depreciate, stamps can appreciate in value over time
  • Variety of stamps available enables exporter to creatively mix and match stamp sets
  • Stamps encourge repeat business as international hobbyists expand their collections.

The Competition Bureau of Canada has no labeling and packaging regulations that apply to exported postage stamps.

Marketing Stamps and Stamp Collections

A large percentage of the population in more developed countries are Internet users. Collectible stamp exporters can reach that international audience by tapping available web resources. Below are ideas for prospective stamp exporters to consider; most of these are free.

  • Amazon.com collector item sale listings
  • eBay sale listings on main (eBay.com) and local websites (Australian eBay site)
  • Craigslist collectibles listings in city sites of the target country (8 Australian cities)
  • YouTube videos that educate consumers about special stamp issues
  • Google Ads that target keywords pertinent to stamp collections
  • Blogger site where one can post articles promoting collectible stamps
  • Trade portals like Alibaba and Kompass allow free business-to-business listings.

Collectible stamp exporters can also tap into popular social networking sites in target foreign markets. For example, an American entrepreneur looking to sell stamps to Australian collectors might join:

  • Facebook Australia
  • Twitter Australia.

Responsible, Ethical and Sustainable Businesses: Business Ethics Involves a Concern for Environment and Social Issues

Responsible business practices include dealing fairly with employees and the community, using non-renewable natural resources carefully and avoiding environmental damage.

At a global level, the ethical issues facing businesses include reducing poverty, fighting corruption and adopting sustainable business models while they go about their main role of making money. Institutions like the World Bank are encouraging and equipping the private sector in corporate social responsibility and care for environment and the community.

Why Bother with Responsible Business Practices?

Irresponsible business practices lead to social instability and even damages the prospects of business itself. Businesses prosper when they can sell increasing volumes of products and services. This can happen only if the buyers can afford to buy what is offered.

Irresponsible business practices that lead to reduction of employment opportunities tends to reduce the volume of demand by concentrating wealth in the hands of a few and reducing the purchasing power of the majority.

Unethical business practices such as using bribery to get orders or to get out of trouble lead to distortions. They reduce the competitiveness of industry, lead to lower quality products and services, and also to an environment where rule of law is the exception rather than the rule.

Irresponsible businesses also damage our environment by polluting it and exhausting non-renewable resources. These lead to lower quality life in the present with polluted air, waterways and new kinds of diseases. Indiscriminate exploitation of non-renewable energy and other resources is equivalent to robbing future generations.

The Responsible Business Movement

With increasing awareness about the consequences outlined above, the public is becoming more assertive. They try to punish irresponsible businesses by boycotting their products and refusing to buy their shares. Highly skilled and talented employees, who can find employment where they want, tend to join companies with a reputation for responsible behavior.

The public also constitute the voters and governments have to bow to their wishes. The increasing reach and complexity of government business regulations seek to prevent irresponsible business practices.

In such an environment, businesses that do not adopt responsible practices tend to lose business and also run foul of the law. Instead of running the business, they have to fight the public and government regulators.

Just as working conditions and compensation of workers have improved dramatically over the centuries, responsible and ethical business practices are also likely to be adopted by more and more businesses as time goes along. They will be the winners in the long run because they will get greater public support and business.

This tendency will be strengthened by the increasing levels of public communication in the forms of blogs, social networking and other such forums. Programs like the World Bank’s sustainable and equitable business development campaigns also support this trend.

Businesses that are aware of their social and environmental responsibilities, and implement good governance and accountability, will get increasing public support and their orders. On a global scale, responsibility will also involve poverty reduction and creating health awareness. Gender equality, fighting corruption, job creation and preventing climate change will become part of accepted corporate responsibility.