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One of the many activities online home business owners are involved in is obtaining software tools or services to assist them with running their business. There are usually many different options to choose from and choices are not always easy. Some of the solutions offered work but most do not! Its important to make the right choice.I encountered this scenario recently when choosing an Auto-Responder service. I had done my research and thought I had made a good choice. ...

Online Home Business Owners: Check The References

Online Home Business Owners: Check The ReferencesOne of the many activities online home business owners are involved in is obtaining software tools or services to assist them with running their business. There are usually many different options to choose from and choices are not always easy. Some of the solutions offered work but most do not! Its important to make the right choice.I encountered this scenario recently when choosing an Auto-Responder service. I had done my research and thought I had made a good choice. But then doubt sneaked in about whether I was picking the best solution. Although I felt it was a good choice, it was going to be a little more difficult to integrate this service into one of my web sites. A solution from a different software vendor would integrate easier, but I was uncomfortable with their ability to provide the service I was looking for.Since I was now unsure with my decision and looking at another solution for ease of integration, I spent some time on this vendors site looking into the details of their product. I dont know about you, but I have a tendency to skip over testimonials and references from other companies that are included in website copy. I quite often doubt whether they are real and usually they are difficult to verify.This time however, I did not skip the references listed by the vendor. I picked the first one from their list of successful websites their service had been integrated with. As is common, there was no link to the website, but finding the website proved pretty easy using a well known search engine. Once found, I began looking for the email signup section of their site to see how it was integrated and how it fit in with the site. Again, this was easy to find.To my surprise when I tried the email signup (I didnt enter an email address so as to force the service to display a message), the software service name displayed was not the one that had the testimonial, but the one I had initially decided on. This confirmed my original decision and removed any doubts from my mind.This all seems like common sense, and it is. However, many times online home business owners, including myself, get caught up in marketing hype and forget to check the facts.How do we check the facts?- If possible, check the references or testimonials offered by a website copy as described above.- See what other home business owners are using. Maybe even ask them what works best for them.- If youre part of a network marketing opportunity and have an up line of sponsors then email one of them and ask.- Check out some work at home forums or article distribution services. You can search for the forums and there are many article distribution sources in Yahoo Groups.If youre a software or service vendor, make sure your web site testimonials are accurate and up to date. Nothing kills a potential sale quicker than a false reference.Running an online home business can be fun and rewarding. In many ways it is the same as running an offline business. Making choices is not always easy. But one thing is clear, if a vendor offers references check them out!You are free to copy this article to your site as long as you include the following resource information with an active link to my site:

IT Consulting: Moving from Micro Businesses to the Sweet Spot

IT Consulting: Moving from Micro Businesses to the Sweet Spot

In IT consulting you have many different options in who you choose as your clients. Larger than the sweet spot businesses are the large small businesses, which provides a different "IT consulting" opportunity.Large/Small Businesses DefinedLarge/Small Businesses have 5-100 seats, 50-100 computers, anywhere from 50-200 employees and US annual revenue somewhere in the ballpark of 5 million up to 20 million. At that size, you are going to start running into a lot more publicly run corporations.They are generally going to have at least 2 or more dedicated servers. At that size, beyond the sweet spot you start to see something very different about the dynamics of working with that account. You start to see an in-house IT manager, in most cases that is hired to handle a lot of the generalist work.These Companies Have An On-Staff ProfessionalThese large/small businesses wont just have a technician, coordinator, or guru. They will actually have a person whose skills on probably on par with yours. They may be vendor certified they may know a couple of different operating systems, a couple of different database platforms, or a software developer.Whatever it is, but they definitely have the skills to qualify them as a full-fledged IT pro. And they are brought in a lot of times to handle the generalist work. If you want to be able to provide IT consulting to these businesses, youre going to need to deeply specialize.Copyright MMI-MMVI, Small Biz Tech Talk. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Why it Pays to Specialize

Why it Pays to Specialize

Copyright 2006 Sandra P. MartiniSomeone once said that you cant be all things to everyone. What is true in our personal life is equally true in business.While it may seem counterintuitive to specialize and consciously limit the scope of your target market, its actually a very wise marketing strategy.A niche consists of defining the target audience for your business and the more defined your niche, the more specific your audience, the easier and more cost effective your marketing will be.For example, a virtual assistant who advertises that she can do just about anything for just about anyone, if she is good, will get some clients from referrals, but will likely not get all the clients she otherwise could have if she had a defined "target audience" and targeted marketing.It is far more effective to develop a campaign and strategy aimed at coaches (or any market subset) than it is to scatter marketing over the internet with the hopes that you will find someone who is interested in your services.Why it pays to have a defined target audience.The simplest way to explain this is by illustration. Compare the following:A generic brochure-style website for a "virtual assistant" which portrays her as being all things to everyone, a jack of all trades if you will she is, for all intensive purposes, a generalist.VersusA tailored website for the same virtual assistant which portrays her specialization in working with coaches she has tailored the language on her site to be their language, she addresses their needs and she focuses on their goals.The first, I can do anything and everything type of website, tends to invite skepticism. It creates a too good to be true feeling from your reader and, more often than not, leaves an uneasy feeling in your prospects mind. After all, how can anyone do **everything** and do it ALL well for multiple clients?The second website, however, gives you a more comfortable right at home feeling of security. You know you will be taken care of here. She has listed her strengths and they dont include everything plus the kitchen sink; shes told you that if she cant help you, she has recommendations on who can; and overall the site has a higher level of professionalism. The second site doesnt mean that she doesnt accept other, non-coach clients, just that she has focused her marketing on one specific group; she can still be of great benefit to you."Theres riches in niches.Specializing in a certain area or niche is a path to increased revenue. The more specialized your niche, the more the potential. A virtual assistant who specializes in working with coaches or entrepreneurs or golf pros or widget makers will have more clients, recognize greater efficiencies and make more money than one who works with everyone. Similar to how a brain surgeon makes more money than a primary care physician and yet both are doctors.Because the goals are distinct and, practice makes perfect, the specialized service provider is more able to take advantage of efficiencies born of niching her clientele. Increased efficiencies lead to increased profits as well as a more effective working environment.While this article has used virtual assistants as an example, specializing is appropriate for most professions. The efficiencies that you, the service provider, gain are too great to ignore and the benefits that you can offer your clients make it far easier to attract clients.

Before Going Into Business

Before Going Into Business

1. Why should there be anyone would do business with you? This could be the very first question that you must ask yourself before anything else. You got to demand yourself to an answer to this. Why the heck on earth would anybody pay for this Junk youre selling? Yup, Junk, as I phrased it. It doesnt matter how good your product is to be, to the eye of others, its just another piece of product in a sea pool of other similar products.So, still be very proud of your product or service? Truly youre 100% proud of it? You truthfully and deeply believe people would be dumb by NOT buying from you?Wellyou passed the first barrier! Youre ready to start go to next stage. 2. The basic business needs 3 things: Lawyer, CPA, and Creative or crazy fellow, which could very well be you. Almost every business gets themselves for the first two. Its understandably so. Good creative person are really hard to find, hard to manage, and youll never sure of what youre paying for. Every established and sizeable business knows the creative side plays a heavier weight than the lawyer and CPA. CPAs and lawyers can help you when you are up there. But at the early stage when your business is still an infant, your business live or die depending on its business branding activities in areas like business identities, logos, marketing campaign, advertising copy and business slogans.Now, are you NUTS enough? Have people been calling you NUTS?If so, you are ready for the next stage! Do give yourself a Cheers!3. Singing for Your Own? You Got To Promote Yourself In Every Possible Way.Do all of them. Yes, Do whatever possible to get your business name to be up there! Get your Business Brand being noticed by others. There more the merrier!Business can just comes and go so fast before anybody could hears of them. People are busy, what do they care? They dont care about you and your business. Why should they care? Get serious. Do everything you can possibly and reasonably afford to do. But beware; you must not mislead others because itll backfire quickly enough to wipe your business off.Do you Sing for your own self? Then youve passed! Move on to next stage4. Big Decision: Could You Win The Competition.Its very likely that youre entering a crowded business market when you first started. Take a hard and closer look at what other fellows are doing; what your competitors are doing right now could affect your business greatly. At this stage, you got to decide: Are you going for Head to Head fight? Competing on better quality? Crazier pricing strategy? Extra Mile Service Level? Better Marketing Campaign? or what else? Or you would avoid all that, and create you own niche, where you are the leader? If you decided to be offering the same or very much similar product at the same price, but your marketing materials doesnt look half as good as your competitorshey, youre in deep trouble! If youre charging half compare to others, then its still alright to Look cheap, simply because you are the Cheaper alternative where people are looking for. 5. Marketing is basically just a matter Perception.Perception is just another fancy word for thoughts. The thought by the public has in mind all about you and your Good or Bad business. Good salesmen control the perception more on personal level like putting on neat suit, very nice smile and sincere voice, firm handshakeetc. And your business marketing campaign need to strive to achieve equivalent level of effects. And it needs to be at a more abstract level by means of having an attractive Business Name, Eye Catching Business Graphics, Professionally dressed-up staff. Any things that just might seduce and persuade a potential visitor to become a paying customer.6. Your Business Identity; Your Business Equity.The Business Name, the Logo, the projected Business Look, the publics perception, recognition, or even affection if there is; these are critical to business success. Big businesses routinely pay big buck like million dollars for these aspects for the business.Your Business Identity must be well organized to target at desired market. Its what termed as the Face side, the side which public always sees first. Work on refining it so it works wonders. Improve it to get better and even better, and then protect it, and treasured like your beloved! Yup, there are so many people who just bought a ready business. But every time they run a new marketing campaign, they tend to fall into trap of projecting a different business image and look. Really, dont ever make such mistake like an amateur. Consistently stick on to the business branding strategy that your have chosen on the very early stage. This is your Business Equity. By keep changing the business look, youll get the public confused, and worse still if they see that you dont even have the basic respect for your business identity.Dont destroy the business equity; you need to be utmost concerned with your business image to the public. It has its own personality. It has to stand out from the rest. It has to send clear signal to the targeted market: Here We are, Come To Us, Get Us Today.Do Love Your Business, just like you love yourself.

Don't Eliminate the Middle Man Add One!

Today, there are situations when we actually add a middle person instead of eliminating one for increased service efficiency. If its cost-effective and demand is high, then proper market positioning will make it a worthwhile endeavor. For example, my sister just informed me of a food delivery service in New Mexico that will let you choose one out of many different food outlets (all types of ethnic/fast food)- and then guarantees delivery within a specific time period. This not only gives the customer assurance of reliability, but more choices for dining take out style. In other areas of industry, the same idea holds true. There are electrical suppliers that no longer manufacture the product of electricity, but now are involved only in the delivery process of electricity to the customers. Because of market fluctuations, the new delivery supplier will utilize many other different energy suppliers to get the product of electricity to the customer efficiently and at the best market price. Again, adding the middle man seems to benefit all around. In relating this theory to restaurants, it is the food runner that has become popular, especially in the larger dining establishments that rarely existed years ago. Food runners are employees who only work the rush hours of the dining room- only running food back and forth from the kitchen to the tables with light dining room table interaction (condiments, fresh pepper etc.). It is a 2-4 hr. shift, depending on how long the dining rush lasts. Before large restaurants existed, the waiter would complete the process of order taking and delivering of the food. Today, the food runner can be implemented (additional middle man) relieving the waiter of this time consuming and sometimes painstaking process. The waiter must share a percentage of his tip with the runner, but in return his job is eased because the food is delivered for him- allowing extra time to work more tables and up sell to customers thereby increasing sales. Though, it does remain the waiters responsibility to check the table for additional diner needs-- either while the food is being placed by the runner or shortly thereafter. The tip-out to the runner is usually 10-15% depending on the service system, but well worth it if waiter sales can increase by 20-30 %. The main point is the food runner addition improves delivery service efficiency while being cost-effective (if the sales increase outweighs the payroll increase). Properly integrating employees into the dining room with exact middle man connections always makes for smooth service flow. Its not a matter of just blindly throwing extra employees at a service problem, but organizing the best system possible with the minimal amount of labor. Adding the middle man can sometimes streamline operations in such way that it becomes irresistible and impossible to ignore. Always, the demand arises when delivery routes of a service system become overloaded.

Friends, Family and Neighbors

Copyright 2006 Shannon LaveniaFriends, family and neighbors - the do-gooders who are always willing to give you advice about your life. Ever wonder why, when you are about to take a leap of faith into something awesome, your friends, family and neighbors are all too eager to warn you of the pitfalls. I call it the "Get By Rule". What's this you ask? Well, if you asked your friend for $1500.00 to pay the bills and feed your kids b/c you were down and out, your friend, brother, sister, neighbor would most likely say "Sure Thing - Always Here to Help a Friend in Need." They are happy to help you GET BY. After all, being charitable makes people feel good. So does knowing they are in a better position than you - it's a sense of accomplisment.Now, ask the same person for $1500.00 to start a new business and they'll spend time telling you about how many people fail at "those things", about the times that they failed, that only a few people succeed in business, etc. etc. They'll ramble on giving you tails of unsubstantiated BS to deter you. And, they won't lend you the money. Why? Because although they are willing to help you Get By they aren't willing to have you PASS THEM BY. It's as simple as that.This became so clear to me after listening to Caroline Myss' audio program Invisible Acts of Power. What invariably sets the people who succeed apart from those who never take a chance is the decision to move foward towards their goals regardless of what other people think. My personal success has evolved by choosing carefully who I am willing to take advice from. When someone wants to offer me advice, direction or guidance, I simply look at the results the person is getting in that area of their life and decide whether or not I'm going to choose to listen to them. For example: If someone wants to give me financial or business advice, I look at the level of success that person has had in business or financially, and then I'll choose whether or not to take on their advice/direction. I personally wouldn't take advice from someone making less than $100K a month. I wouldn't have someone with no experience in real estate tell me how to invest in it.If you are about to venture into a business, decide what you want and go for it. Don't allow your friends, family and neighbors to prevent you from passing them by. Many people simply fail in MLM because the company they are with tells them to go out to their friends, family and neighbors - the black cloud of success. Doing so, for the person who chooses to NOT be deflated, can be very profitable. It can also be the kiss of death if that is your only way of marketing. When selecting a company to work with, choose a company with a well formulated system and marketing plan. One that teachers you how to advertise in a wide variety of media to get your phone ringing with people eager to speak with you. And if you need to borrow the money to start your business, use the money you'd pay your bills with and ask your friend for money to pay your bills!

Summary

One of the many activities online home business owners are involved in is obtaining software tools or services to assist them with running their business. There are usually many different options to choose from and choices are not always easy. Some of the solutions offered work but most do not! Its important to make the right choice.I encountered this scenario recently when choosing an Auto-Responder service. I had done my research and thought I had made a good choice. ...