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10 Ways To Make More Money In Network Marketing
September 14, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Network Marketing is an excellent way for the “average Joe or Jane” to make an extra income. This business concept has been around for decades, and it will not disappear any time soon. The reason for its popularity is simple… It Works! It does however, require lots of work and most importantly, dedication and persistance to get the job done. The best part is, once you are able to set up a solid network, your business becomes MUCH less time intensive. Almost like going on “autopilot”. The key is to get there as fast as possible.

Here are just a couple of tips I have found to be helpful in maximizing your Network Marketing Business:

1. Use your products regularly. This is Number 1 for a reason, this is the most ignored part of ANY network marketing business. How do you expect your business to succeed if you will not even use your own products? It does seem silly to even have to bring this up, but there are many who are not using their own products, and wonder why they are not making any money. Make a commitment to use your products for a year, and see where your business goes.

2. Educate yourself constantly. This is very important! You must rid yourself of negative ideas, sometimes referred to as “stinkin thinkin”. This can be done in a variety of ways. I recommend reading at least 15 minutes a day, but try to shoot for 30. Business and self-help books are a great way to start. Don’t forget your Multi-level magazines, as they are full of tips and advice. Lastly, listen to cassette tapes on multi-level tips from top earners in your business.

3. Spend as much time as possible with your upline. Your upline should have only one goal in mind, To Help You Succeed! They are a vast source of knowledge and information. Mingle with top distributors in your group, or other groups, and ask how they made it. Most everyone should be more than happy to provide you with excellent tips and advice.

4. Present your products and marketing plan personally to at least one person daily. Remember above when I said you are going to have to work, well here it is. Now here is the key, the prospects to whom you present your plan, do not have to be yours personally. Show the plan for your downline, and not only will you create “security” by placing members in your downlines’ downline, it will also give you a boost in your personal income! I can guarantee if you were to follow this rule for 6 months, you would create a downline with enough width and depth to create an income to sustain you and your family for life.

5. Care for your downline. An entire book can be written on this topic. Usually, it’s the little things that show you really care. Try to maintain regular contact, and always praise your distributor’s accomplishments. You can even offer incentives for specific achievements, such as money, travel, recognition, or other rewards, to help motivate your group.

6. Duplicate yourself by making distributors independent of you. This will help to multiply your time, thus making you and your group more effective. Always lead by example. Never stop recruiting, training and retailing. Remember the KISS formula – “Keep It Simple, Sweety” I know, I know, I changed the last word, but it maintains the meaning. This can be done my conducting simple, brief, yet dramatic presentations, and teaching your downline to do the same.

7. Create a large customer base. This is another largely ignored, yet very important, piece of your network marketing business. Many try so hard to build a huge downline, that they forget how much profit they could also make by selling their products to retail customers. Some people will just not want to become part of your downline, no matter how great a product/system you may have. This does not mean they will not be personally interested in your product. Try to make everyone your customer. Once you earn their trust, they will come to you more, and perhaps even join your downline later. Always “leave the door open”, as people’s needs do change.

8. Focus on your customers needs. You must give customers more than they expect, and always satisfy your customers complaints immediately. Try to listen 80% of the time, and talk only 20%. As stated above, your customers can be a huge source of future referrals and/or business. You must earn and maintain their trust. Once you have their trust, you can always ask for referrals, which leads to even more business and a larger downline.

9. Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals – and Write Them Down! You may have heard the expression, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Breaking up a larger goal into smaller easily attainable goals, is the key to success. You cannot just jump to the end, you have to make progress everyday. Writing them down is another largely ignored, important tip to help you succeed. A goal is just a “passing thought”, or “wish” until you put it in writing. That is when it becomes concrete and real. It is also a great idea to keep a business journal of your daily activities, as it will help you to become more productive and time-conscious.

10. Get Out There And Do It Now! All of the knowledge in the world is useless and unprofitable, until you put the most important ingredient of them all in place. This “secret” ingredient should come as no surprise at all, but this is the #1 reason for failure at anything in life. It is ACTION! Remember, knowledge is useless without action.

Following these steps will almost give you immediate results. Thank you for reading this, and I truly hope this has provided you with valuable information to help you and your business grow and succeed.

Filed under Networking, Uncategorized Tagged with network marketing, mlm, downline, business opportunity

8 Tips to Help You Become a Networking Guru!
September 14, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Effective business networking is the bringing together of like minded individuals who, through relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

Keep in mind that networking is about being bona fide, building trust, and seeing how your relationship can genuinely help others.
1. Always figure out before you even walk into a room, what your specific goals are in attending each networking meeting. This helps you to pick groups or associations that will help you get what you are looking for.

2. Ask open-ended questions during your networking conversations, questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how. Try to avoid questions that require a simple yes or no response. By using this line of questioning you can open us the discussion and show listeners that you are interested.

3. Become a walking resource centre. When you become known as a strong resource, others remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you at their “top of mind”.

4. Make sure you have your “elevator speech” prepared and know it like the back of your hand. An elevator speech is the commonly known as the response you would give in the amount of time it would take to reach the tenth floor in an elevator. Always rehearse your spiel and be genuine, so that you don’t sound automated when you relay it to someone who asks what you do.

5. Always know what is going on in current affairs, if you don’t feel comfortable just rolling into a spiel when you first meet someone, have a back up topic to break the ice until you do.

6. Never just throw your business card at someone the minute you meet them, you must get to know the person and their business as well as explaining your business before you even contemplate a business card exchange. Some people will find you rude, pushy and unprofessional which will in turn reflect badly on your business.

7. Always phone or email your new contacts and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them. If possible mention things that you discussed on a more personal note (i.e. I hope you enjoyed that movie you were going to see that night.) people will come to know you as someone who listens, remembers them and they will form a trust with you.

8. The most important thing to remember is to follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor their trust and your referrals will grow exponentially.

Filed under Networking, Uncategorized Tagged with Networking, business growth, business networking, business card, referrals, enterprise

7 Traffic Techniques for Network Marketers
September 14, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Network marketing is a numbers game. The more people you introduce to your opportunity, the more money you’ll make. To start generating a steady stream of traffic to your site, try these 7 creative techniques:

1. Write and Distribute Articles, Reports and Ebooks. Internet users are all interested in one thing – information. Use this to promote your business by creating high quality content and allowing others to reprint it for you. One great way to do this is to distribute a brandable ebook or special report. This is one that a website or list owner can change to include a reference to their website. This doesn’t mean that it looks like they are the publisher, it’s just a way for them to include information on where the ebook was downloaded from and (if applicable) to include their affiliate link for your products and services.

2. Participate in Newsgroups, Forums, and Mailing Lists. There are hundreds of forums online and you can find one for almost any topic imaginable. Most allow you to include a signature line that will be attached to every message. This is a chance for you to advertise your site. Visiting these forums to post thoughtful questions and offer your expertise will mean your signature is viewed by others and will bring you free, targeted traffic. Of course how much traffic you get depends on how often you post and whether your signature makes people want to visit your site. A good approach is to use an ad you’ve had success with elsewhere as your signature.

3. Join Networking Sites to Build your Personal Network. Networking sites are designed to make it easy for people to meet others in their industry and to advertise their products and service. Similar to offline networking events where lots of people come together for the sole purpose of meeting people, online networking sites work the same way.

4. Use Classified Sites and Traffic Exchanges. Classified ad sites and traffic exchanges have gotten a bad reputation, but they really do work if you know how to use them. If you’re promoting a product or service that advertisers can benefit from then they’re a great place to get traffic. Although not very many consumers visit this type of advertising sites, lots of website owners do in order to make sure their ad appears on the site. While there they can’t help but notice other ads and if one catches their attention you’re likely to get a visitor.

5. Run a Contest. People love the prospect of winning something – that’s why a contest can be a great traffic generator. The key is to choose a prize that will attract people from your target audience. If you make the grand prize a new laptop you’ll get entries from everyone who would like to win a new laptop (which is basically every computer user in the world!). Get more targeted traffic by choosing something that your target audience is interested in but wouldn’t mean much to other people. To start promoting your contest do a search in Google for “Contest Directories” and you’ll find lots of places to list your contest for free.

6. Include a Powerful Signature on all Outgoing Email. Every time you send a piece of mail you have the potential to get a visitor to your site. Simply create a “signature” that is automatically added to every outgoing message. Use the signature to briefly explain what you do, give your USP or slogan and add a hyperlink to your site. Once it’s set up you don’t have to think about it again!

7. Try Newsletter Classified Ads. There are lots of newsletter publishers who give classified ads to new subscribers. Although these don’t typically bring a huge response, they can generate some traffic if you offer something with a high perceived value but low price tag. They’re also a great way to test new ads to see which ones get the best response. Once you’ve found a winner use it in a PPC campaign, make it your new email signature, run it as a top sponsor newsletter ad or use it as your forum signature.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Networking, Uncategorized Tagged with network marketing, internet marketing

7 Step Plan To Get Going With Networking
September 14, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, feel like you have the gift of gab or just don’t know how to make small talk, networking know-how is very important for your business success. There is a notion in business that I believe most of us subscribe to that says “all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those they know, like and trust.” And the key to this is obviously being able to develop relationships.

Think of networking as the cultivation of mutually beneficial, win-win relationships. In order to be win-win, there must be GIVE and take (notice the emphasis on give). Networking shouldn’t be viewed as “events” where you go to sell your business. When effective networking is taking place, the parties involved actively share ideas, information, resources, etc.

Ok, so you know that you should be networking because it is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities when used wisely, appropriately and professionally. But, maybe that seems easier said than done. Here’s a seven step plan to really get going with networking for your business.

1. Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. Most groups will allow you to come and visit at least a couple of times before you have to join. Go and ask around to find out why others have joined and what value they get out of belonging.

Resist the urge to just go join the Chamber of Commerce simply because everyone tells you that’s what you need to do. If that’s not where your target group can be found, then you might just be wasting a considerable amount of time (and money).

I’m not telling you not to join the Chamber. Just be clear about what you’d like to get out of this or any other group. If it’s to find prospective clients or referral sources, then you need to be networking where those resources can be found.

2. When you find a group or two, join and go to all the meetings you can. Don’t go just once or twice expecting things to happen and then if they don’t quit. Building mutually beneficial, win-win relationships will take some time.

The contacts you make need to constantly see your face and hear your message. Continual contact with others over time will open up opportunities for you to go deeper and learn more about each others thoughts, ideas and capabilities in regards to your respective businesses.

Know, like, and trust generally only happens over time. Being regular and persistent will pay off.

3. Get involved – be visible. Do as much as you can to make yourself more visible within the organization. Volunteer to help with meetings, be on committees, or become a leader or board member.

Being involved does a couple of things for you and your business. First, you’ll get more opportunities to establish connections and get to know some of the contacts you’ve made even better. Secondly, the higher the visibility you have in the group, the less you’ll have to work to make new connections. Instead, as new people come into the group, they will likely seek you out because they view you as a leader within the organization.

4. Keep your circles of contacts informed. Don’t just assume that running in to someone once a month (or even once a week) will cause them to start doing business with you or sending it your way. You need to let them know what’s going on when you’re not at that particular group in order to inform and educate them.

Send them invitations to your events or open houses. Send them email or letters to share big news or success stories, especially anything of relevance to them or those in their networks of contacts. If you believe that you have valuable ideas, information and resources to share with others, then doesn’t this just make sense?

5. Work at GIVING referrals and sharing valuable information. That’s right, you need to be willing to GIVE before you get. That means you need to get to know other members and what makes a good prospect for them. What kinds of information might you have access to that could be useful to them?

You may initially think you don’t have much of value to share with others (besides your business and what you provide). Part of the key to getting good at giving is to not make assumptions. For example, don’t assume that some basic resource (e.g., a web site) that you’re aware of is familiar to someone you might be talking to just because they are the “expert” in that field. Be willing to ask if they know about the resource and ready to share if they don’t.

Want to get better at actually giving referrals? Here’s a simple question to ask someone you’re connecting with. “How am I going to know when I meet a really good prospect for you?”

Just the fact that you are willing to explore giving will elevate your know, like and trust factor.

6. Focus on Quality, not Quantity, Quantity, Quantity. It’s not necessarily about the number of connections you make, but about the quality of the ones you do make. Are they mutually beneficial, win-win relationships?

Quality connections will be identifiable because all involved parties will be actively sharing ideas, information, and resources. Yes, it is true that you need to spend some time and effort getting to know the other person(s) and what’s important to them. But, you also need to be clear and actively thinking about what information or resources you want and need.

Staying in touch with and following up with a smaller number of quality relationships will generally be much more productive than trying to follow up with a larger number of superficial contacts.

7. Be persistent, but be patient. The goal of a networking event shouldn’t necessarily be to come away with prospects every time you go out, but to come away with great connections. Networking usually takes time to get the relationships developed and nurtured.

Don’t approach networking as a scary proposition or a necessary evil for being in business. Take the pressure off yourself and really focus on how you might be able to connect with someone you meet. Focus on them first and look for ways to be useful to them. As you become known as a connector you’ll eventually be ready to reap what you sow.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Networking, Uncategorized Tagged with small business marketing, marketing tips, marketing ideas, marketing strategy

15 Easy Steps to Starting Your Small Business
September 13, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Yeah, sure it’s easy, and of course, that title is a little tongue in cheek. It takes a lot of hard work to get a business off the ground. But, it’s worth every hour I’ve spent getting to where I am now.
When I decided to start my communication and image consulting business, I tried hard to find a good startup guide. I couldn’t find any that had all the steps. So, I decided to write one. So far, it’s mostly just the bare-bones outline (which is long enough as it is) you see in this article.
I’ll be adding to it every week or two, and writing more detailed articles on all the steps, so try to stop by and check it out from time to time. Let me know how I’m doing. Shoot off an email to me if I’ve forgotten something or you have questions.

Before you spend so much as a dollar, talk to a few experts. Go to the library or get on the internet and research, research, research. Take a little time to make sure entrepreneurship is right for you.

Make a pro and con list of business ownership, and evaluate yourself honestly. How many characteristics do you have in common with successful entrepreneurs? Is your financial position strong enough? Do you have the necessary technical and management skills?

You’re not going to be the perfect entrepreneur. Nobody is. But in order to make yourself the best entrepreneur you can be, consider ways to compensate for any weaknesses you might have.

I’m from Canada, so the government agencies I’ve mentioned in this guide are Canadian, but really, it can be used by anyone. All you have to do, if you’re from somewhere other than Canada, is find out where you need to find some of the things I’ll talk about. Some of the steps might be slightly different, and you may not have to worry about things like GST for example, but I’m sure you’ll find this discussion helpful all the same.

These steps to starting a business are in reasonably good order, but you might find yourself varying from it under your particular circumstances. That really isn’t a big deal, as long as you get most of it done. There are some steps you’ll be able to skip as well, but please don’t skip any of the “big ones”, which I’m sure you’ll pretty much figure out from taking a look at the list.

So, assuming you’ve done your evaluation and you still want to start a business, take a deep breath, and let’s get started.

1. Conduct a feasibility study of your business. Describe your typical customer, your product and your competitors. Who will your suppliers be? What will you charge for your product? How will you market your product? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.

2. Write a complete business plan for your company, using the information you gathered from your feasibility study. This vitally important, often overlooked step needs to include a description of your company, its goals, competitors, market, financial information, and of course, how you intend to meet your goals.

3. Get your financing in place. There are many ways to finance your business, from your own savings to personal credit cards to bank loans. If you need credit, know your business plan from front to back and maybe even sideways.

4. Decide what kind of structure your company will have. From a legal standpoint, there are three basic choices, sole proprietorship, partnership and incorporation, each with advantages and disadvantages.

5. Choose a name for your company and check on name availability. Naming your company is highly individual, but it’s the first thing associated with your business, so choose your name carefully. You’ll need to do a NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) report, which checks your name choices for uniqueness against a database of other business names. A reserved name is valid for 90 days.

6. Decide whether you want to register federally or provincially and register your company. If you register federally, you’ll also have to register provincially, which almost doubles the cost. You don’t have to have a lawyer process them for you, but it might be a good idea to at least consult with one. You can get the forms from your local government office, have them faxed to you or download them. You can fax or email printed copies, or complete the forms online

7. Contact Canada Revenue Agency Business Window for your business number, and to register for GST/HST, payroll, corporate income tax and import/export (if applicable). You can also contact the CRA if you need general information about business expenses. Chances are you’ll have to collect GST, but you may want to register for a GST number even if you don’t have to collect it because of input tax credits.

8. Decide whether you need to collect PST. If you do, you need to submit “Registration as a Vendor” documents with your province.

9. Determine whether there are special permits or licenses in your municipality. It’s highly unlikely that your municipality does not have special permits or licenses.

10. Develop the marketing materials you decided on in your business plan. They should include at least a company identity package, press kit and website. Your identity package is your logo, business card and letterhead. A press kit can include letters of introduction, biography sheets, press releases, articles and a brochure. In today’s electronic age, printed materials aren’t enough. You need a website that looks professional, matches your printed material and has great copy. You’ll also want to make sure it’s optimized for search engines.

11. Set up your business bank account and record-keeping system. Your banker will need to see your incorporation documents, and you should probably set up more than one account so you can keep track of your finances better. Record-keeping is required, and can be done manually or with a computer program.

12. Purchase insurance. There are many different types of insurance, but most probably your company will need at least one. For example, if you’re going to have employees, you need to contact the Worker’s Compensation Board. Depending on your type of business, you might want to contact them even if you don’t have employees to insure yourself.

13. Contact potential creditors and set up credit terms. You should have researched suppliers when you were doing your feasibility study. Now is the time to contact them.

14. Decide where your business will be located. Lease your business’ space. Alternatively, you could choose to start your business from home if it’s feasible. There are advantages and disadvantages to starting your business from home. You have tax write-offs for example, but sometimes your image suffers.

15. Purchase supplies and office equipment. You’ll need too many things to list here, and of course, each business has different needs. You might need a fax machine and printer. You’ll probably need a computer. You’ll definitely need paper, pens, pencils and a calculator.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized Tagged with blog, dedia, small buisness startup guide, starting a small business

10 Ways To Reduce Tax Burden For Your Small Business
September 13, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

An ideal lawyer will not just have a string of impressive credentials or gold lettering on his door. He or she will be caring, concerned, and devoted to their work. You need to think carefully before laying your trust in a lawyer after all in some cases your life, future, money or property will be in his hands.

Apart from doing extensive research to short list possible lawyers you must ensure that there is not conflict of interest, that you understand everything the retainer agreement states, and that you have checked the references and details regarding the practice.

You will know the lawyer you have chosen is the perfect one if:

1. He makes an effort to spend time to understand your case himself. He will not assign a legal assistant to take facts of the case down.

2. From experience and knowledge he will know what is relevant and what is not. He will set aside and ignore irrelevant facts, opinions, and personal emotions that cloud the case on hand.

3. He will insist that the footwork for the case be done thoroughly. All facts must be checked for accuracy and solid arguments jotted down with backing of earlier rulings.

4. He will not just focus on the problem at hand but examine the problem from all sides. This will create a complete picture highlighting all factors of relevance and the different ways one can approach the case.

5. He will use his foresight and anticipate moves by the opposition or opinions of the jury or judge and plan way ahead. Like a master chess player he will plan the case not by the day but by many hearings ahead.

6. He will not waste time beating around the bush or create verbose statements—many words strung together which look impressive but mean nothing. He will insist that the case and its arguments be clearly stated.

7. He will be self-disciplined, thorough, and self confident. Courteous at all times he will respect you as well as all the staff who work for him.

8. He is recommended by not just his friends and relatives but by other professionals of good standing and from his field.

9. He will not just present to you his victories but be happy to tell you why and how he lost certain cases.

10. He will lay the cards on the table and tell you clearly whether your case stands to win or loose. He will not claim that winning is guaranteed. He will be honest and upfront about his opinions and advice.

The bottom line is that the lawyer must be worthy of your trust. Use your inborn instincts and don’t go by the lawyer’s good looks or fancy car or office. After all it is competence in law and in court that is of essence to you.

Everyone worries about taxes and looks for ways and means of reducing the tax burden. When you have a small business of your own you must up date your knowledge of tax laws that pertain to “small businesses.” As a business owner you must understand clearly about accounting systems and tax planning. Sit down with your accountant and plan on ways of maintaining business expenses, filing receipts, planning on “tax saving” investments, and a strategy for running the business in the most beneficial way.

Did you know that:

1. According to law you can reduce your tax liability by hiring family members to carry out work in your business. Pay your children and spouse to perform assigned duties. This way you can shift from higher tax rates to lower ones.

2. Consider hiring independent contractors instead of employees. You will save on payroll taxes. However ensure that you meet the IRS’s criteria.

3. Think about “deferring income” postpone receiving money to January instead of December. This means that payments received will be up for “tax” calculations a year away. However ask your accountant’s advice as the benefits are dependant on profit and losses for the year and your corporate legal structure.

4. Take advantage of tax deductions allowed for charitable donations. Make donations in November or December instead of January so that you can include the donations for tax deductions in the current year.

5. Maximize your expenditure on equipment and office supplies. Buy in advance for a quarter and use the tax deductions allowed in the current fiscal year.

6. Include expenses of business related travel in the current year.

7. Pay all bills due before the end of the year. Payment to cell services, rent, insurance, and utilities related to the business can be included for accounting and applicable tax waivers.

8. Plan a retirement plan and make payments before the end of the year. This will reduce your income for the year and proportionately the tax due. Be sure to check on the limits. Plan a feasible and beneficial strategy with your accountant.

9. Be sure to deduct from your taxable income money paid to licensing fees, businesses taxes, and annual memberships to businesses related organizations. Be sure to deduct interest paid on borrowings for running the business and related fees. Insurance premiums paid to insure the business office and machinery are eligible for tax deductions. Make a list of your memberships and check which ones are eligible for tax deductions.

10. Check whether you have deducted management and administration expenses as well as money spent on maintenance and repairs of equipment.

Decide whether a cash accounting system or accrual one will benefit your business. The tax deductions are different depending on the system you use. When setting up your small business take the advice of a tax and accounting professional as to which accounting system would be most suitable.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Small Business, Web Content Tagged with Legal Advice Forum, legal advices, legal information, lawyers, laws, tax, legal insurance

8 Important Elements for Small Business Web Sites
September 13, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Key visitors to your commercial pages include web robots that crawl the internet and catalog your content. Having proper HTML source code, plus the right combination of text and graphic presentation, is just one secret to success. Proper code may mean higher robot ratings, and the “look” is equally important. Once a new prospect finds your web site, you have 5 seconds to get them to stay.

As a small business web site owner, you may have asked “Why don’t we get any hits?”. Did you know web pages can load and appear correct with improper or deprecated HTML code? A browser may ignore your mistakes, and display what it thinks you meant, and it may look great. Web robots may not be as forgiving.

Following is a list of 8 basic elements for good search engine placement that need to be considered in your design and web site promotion. For details on code issues from the worldwide authority, visit the World Wide Web Consortium to view DOCTYPE and other quality standards.

1. DOCTYPE Statement
2. Page Title
3. Proper HTML Code
4. META Description
5. META Key Words
6. First Paragraph of the Home Page
7. An Extra Page of Just LINKS
8. Backlinks (Links to your pages)

These 8 key items are either missing or poorly designed in 85% of all web sites. Some search engines may only list the other 15% in their directories. In other words, as few as 15% of the 6 billion web pages online ever make it into some search engines. Even worse, there are mistakes that may result in your page being blacklisted, and the search engine web crawlers may never come back to see if it’s corrected. This could explain why you “never get any hits”.

Web sites can be simple and professional without using fancy software to create your pages. Veteran programmers hand code and many create the HTML in NotePad. Web authors who choose to use flash, frames, or the latest software may be losing a significant portion of new visitors (customers) because the visitor may lack the technology or newest version of browsers. If they are turned off and leave without giving your site a fair viewing, it could mean lost profits.

Most designers use prepackaged software to create web pages. If the software leaves out any of the key elements, the code is hidden, and you’ll never know your site was not optimized for search engines. The designer may not know, or care, about these items as long as the page looks attractive. Note: Search engine algorithms vary by company, so some elements such as “an extra page of links” may not be as important today with some search robots. Backlinks refer to marketing your site and getting other web sites to link to yours.

Finally, business visitors want information. They do not visit your home page to be entertained. Most have a need (problem) and want a fast answer (solution), so designs should be created to minimize the use of music or video unless that’s your core business. Anything that distracts from a positive first impression may violate my “5 Second Rule”.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized Tagged with html validation, html validator, small business advice, web site design, web site evaluation

8 BIG Small Business Mistakes
September 13, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

Here’s an interesting notion: Do you realize that there are mistakes you can make at various stages of your business’ growth that can be slowly killing it for months or even years if you don’t watch for them?

Well, these mistakes do exist and they are not just reserved for the rookie companies. Many working businesses, including those you might think are “successful” because they’ve been around for 10+ years, are often still making them… and are possibly losing a lot of money and/or wasting a lot of time in the process.

Although some of these big and sneaky mistakes seem aimed more at service type companies, they really do fit the bill for almost any type of industry. I’ve done my best with the listings below to give examples to prove it.

Underestimating Project/Service Time- This is a big one and it pertains to service companies as well as companies that sell a product. This is a service company’s bread and butter. If you don’t estimate your time to perform each and every service in your repertoire, you will get burned and there is little you can do about it but bite the bullet and learn from it. The best way to estimate time is to do it once yourself or watch your best employee do the task and then throw in a little fudge factor on top of it. For product companies, time becomes an issue with logistics so be aware!

Not Knowing YOUR Company Numbers/Incorrectly Setting Prices- Notice I emphasized the word “your”. It’s a common mistake to use a competitor’s as your pricing gauge without actually knowing why they use those numbers. Think about the nightmare you will get yourself into if you take a competitor’s price, cut it by 10% and then start selling. What if the competition has a bad pricing structure and is barely making money or even losing money?!?! What if your costs are more than theirs?!?! You can use competitor as a starting point but you can’t base your whole strategy on it.

Different industries have their own variables as far as costs go and you need to be aware of them for your project or product pricing. What you pay for a product you are going to sell is not the only cost to have in your head when you are pricing products. How much your labor and materials cost for a service is only a piece of an hourly rate. Employees cost more than just salary and not every employee is part of your labor cost. Every company has insurance to pay for. There are tons of overhead expenditures that need to be part of your price. Oh, by the way, the big one that many people forget about in their price is the quality factor. What you include as “standard services” or “standard product features” as well as job site etiquette or in store service or warranties all need to go into your pricing. I’ll get to more on why in the next segment.

Not Charging for All of Your Time & Costs- This seems like a stupid statement to some but I bet most business owners will admit that they have given away a little too much of the farm at times. Hey, there is nothing wrong with giving a little extra here and there to show you care. But either way, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What concerns me are those that put a lot of quality into their work or products or stores and do not cover the cost for it. As an example, say you run a service company and your competitors don’t do a certain standard service that you do. You can’t just undercut their price to steal a job; you need to have that cost covered in your rate and advertise the fact that it comes with the price upfront. Stores undermine themselves, for example, when they put more people on the floor for customer service but don’t charge for it. These things cost you money and when your competitors don’t do them it costs them less money. Put out better service and then under price them, and your competition just has to wait a little bit for you to fall on your face so they can swoop back in.

As a business owner you need to believe that you are providing your clients worthwhile wares that deserve to be paid for. If you get the chance to explain why your prices are higher, then take that opportunity and do it. If they don’t like the fact that you include things that others charge extra for later or that you treat them better, then they are most likely completely price shoppers. You don’t want them as regular customers anyway. Trust me.

Not Getting Paid Fast Enough- That’s right, the old cash flow issue. As long as you are actually making enough money to pay the bills, this problem can be solved, prevented or at least made to be not as bad as it could be. Here’s the deal:

First off all, bill customers very promptly. It is very common for a small business to not have the procedures or systems in place to get invoices generated and out the door in a timely fashion (see the next segment for more). Again, this would seem unlikely since that’s the reason why we are doing the work- to get paid. But it is very easy for the people responsible for getting this info to the billing people to be too busy to get it there or not have enough organization to give it to them the right way.

The second part to slowing down or stopping a regular cash flow crunch is to make the quickest payment deals possible with customers and the slowest possible with vendors and employees. If there is any way not to pay employees any more than twice a month, you better do it. Contractors always have an issue with this. If you must pay weekly, then tell them before they are hired that they will be getting the first week held back, essentially buying you a week. It will help, I promise.

Part three involves credit. If your company can get a credit card, then get it. This allows for certain important things to be bought (that you can afford) that might come up during a cash flow crunch. Better yet, especially if you have no choice but to deal with 45+ day customer payments, do your best to get a company line of credit. This is a must if you plan on selling to the government or doing commercial service work. These clients often have 60 to 90 day wait periods.

Failure to Have Solid Systems and Procedures in Place- Too many procedures (known as “red tape”) is the reason why many people start their own business in the first place. Unfortunately, having no procedures and systems in place at all is not an alternative. Depending on the type of industry, business owners must come to a happy medium or chaos and the unknown will ensue. Some basic examples where procedures or systems are needed include billing, collections, payroll, hr (interviewing, hiring, vacations, benefits, job responsibilities, etc.), manufacturing, operating equipment, maintaining equipment, inventory, sales calls/visits and logistics to name a few.

Even a one person show needs to have some admin procedures in place. This will make it easier to hire temps and subcontractors and control what they are doing for you. Without at least a watered down version of a system or procedure to do everyday work, you will be to blame for causing many major headaches as your company grows. I can’t emphasize how important this is for when you bring on new employees. I’m sure you heard this before, but I am also a big proponent of having an employee handbook even for one employee. It’s amazing the trouble people can cause business owners just because they allow you to pay them.

Spending Advertising Money Just to Say You Advertise- I would almost rather see my clients not advertise then to spend without regard to tracking the results. There is no point in a marketing campaign if you do not put things in place that allow you to measure how well the plan is working. The other wasteful part of marketing that many people make the mistake of doing, is not tracking their previously successful campaigns. Why some people think that just because a $400 dollar a month ad worked once very well for one busy season, that it will automatically work every year after that is beyond me.

Spreading Yourself Too Thin- This is a classic mistake made by every entrepreneur. The key is to figure out when you are at that “wearing too many hats” point and start getting some help. The solution here is to know your strengths and to be able see when you are not performing the duties that demand these skills. If you are the best sales person on the company, you can’t get caught up in day-to-day operations. If you do, sales will slip and eventually you won’t have any operations to worry about. Think about this to help you figure out if you are spread too thin: Did you really go into business for yourself to work 80+ hours a week?

Not Getting Help Soon Enough- Set goals to know when to hire people to take over where you are light on knowledge. Not getting help or waiting too long can kill a company. Most people who start a business do it because they are good at the technical end or the sales end. If you know the best way to make a widget, then your strength is in production and that is where your time should be spent. Hire an outside company or consultant to take care of the sales and marketing and then hire inside when you can afford someone full time. Don’t be something to your company that you are not. It will only hold you back.

The three big issues people like to tackle themselves but usually are least knowledgeable about are legal issues, accounting/bookkeeping issues and daily operations issues. The odds are that these three things are your weakest link so if you don’t have a partner that has the background for these subjects, then be prepared to get help as soon as possible. It’s preferable that you do this before you start a business.

Although looking for these problems at any time is a good idea, the end of a year or season is an excellent business interval to make sure you are not making these errors. Take the time, or make the time, to fix these problems. If you don’t know how to reverse the problems, then get some help. If you really don’t have enough time to either figure out if you have these issues or know they are there and can’t break away long enough to do it right, then get some help.

Filed under Internet Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized Tagged with dedia, free, web, content, internet, blogs, small, business

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September 12, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment

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September 12, 2010 by Hanging out with Profs! Leave a Comment



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