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Aug 30, 2008

The Enemy: Words and How We Use Them

As a home based or small business owner you want to exude confidence and authority. You are an expert in your field. How are you conveying your message to your customer? Just like your body language, the words you use and how you use them can take on a whole new meaning.

Some of the words we all have a tendency to use say something completely different to our customers. Let’s say you are placing a call to a customer. When I call I say, “Hi, Joe, I’m calling to tell you about the latest property we have available”. I am very clear, succinct, I have a smile in my voice, and once I finish my reason for calling, I shut up and let my customer or prospect talk.

One of our clients, who we were consulting with on sales, couldn’t figure out why he was having a hard time during his sales calls. What we found out was when he would call rather than being firm and confident, with a smile in his voice; he sounded very tentative, “Hi, I am just calling to see if”. No this verbiage does not work. He did not identify himself, his company, and this client sounded very nervous on the telephone.

So be very careful you don’t use words or phrases that sound as if you are apologizing to your customer right the off bat. In fact, don’t use them at all. Take them out of your vocabulary. Be clear and concise. Speak in an even tone. Nervous people have a tendency to speak way too loudly; or so softly you can’t understand them, or some people speak very quickly. Also, be aware this is not something you are going to fix overnight. These phrases are a habit for many of us. So practice, practice and practice some more. Do role plays and tape yourself. Then listen to yourself, or have family members listen to you and critique you.

Think of the teachers you had in school, or a professor in college who was able to speak in a nice even tone, yet his or her voice carried. Now obviously this is not necessary on the telephone. However, this kind of even toned, lower than usual voice is the kind you want to use.  Try to emulate this person in your telephone calling or in dealing with customers face to face.

The way you speak is very important.  The pitch and inflection of your voice are also very important. If you have a lot of trouble with this you might want to purchase books on speaking that address the issues of pitch and inflection in your speaking voice.  Check out Amazon or Barnes and Noble. They have a wide selection. Again, you are not going to change this overnight. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Two additional  common phrases we all have a tendency to use are I believe, and I think. This is fine for your friends and family. However, as a business owner and “an expert” you had better “know”.

For all of you coaches out there be careful with the “we will hopefully achieve”.  Make a list of all that they will achieve by going with your program, obviously with the caveat that they do the work outlined.

So take inventory of what you are saying on the telephone; your in-person sales and in your dealings with your customers (for those of you in a storefront). Is your “word language” conveying what you want it to. Or like our body language sometimes, are your words conveying something totally different to your customer. Check to see if you are using any of the above phrases and stop!  It may take a while but you will be happy you did.

Aug 28, 2008

Help For Your Time Management and Organizational Issues

Many home-based businesses find they have a greater sense of control over how they use time. Working from home affords them fewer interruptions and more flexible ways to work, which makes them even more productive than if they worked in a corporate environment. On the other hand, others have a hard time getting started, sticking to business, and some become workaholics.
Let's start with a self diagnosis of what might be your time management problems.
1. Do you have a hard time getting started and sticking to business?
2. Do you have a hard time organizing your workday?
3. Do you procrastinate?
4. Are you constantly being interrupted?
5. Do you have a hard time getting away from work?
6. Do you find yourself overworking?
If you have any of the above problems you need help with managing your time.
The following will help you to deal with these issues.

Time management and organization of your office are very much tied together. An unorganized office will cost you a lot of time. Time getting started for the day, time finding phone numbers, letters or materials you need.
Some of the basics elements of Time Management are as follows:
1. Setting up a Work Schedule - Some of the ways to set up a workable schedule are to:
a) establish your schedule around the demands of your work.
b) establish your schedule around those times of the day you work best. For Chuck and I, our high energy hours are in the morning.
c) establish your work schedule around the other priorities of your life. For example, some single dads and moms with children might need to work before the kids get up, stop working, and get them off to school, work during the school day, pick up the kids, and spend some quality time with your family, and then do some additional work in the evening. Others work hard for 3-4 days a week and take long weekends.
d) Organize your schedule around a particular work task. This won't work for everyone, but if your business allows you to break off certain aspects of jobs into different days and time periods, do so.
e) Set up an arbitrary schedule. For some of you, any kind of schedule is better than nothing in the beginning. Eventually you will find your high and low points during the day, which will allow you to eventually establish a schedule for yourself that works best for you and one you can stick to.
2. Getting Started - Chuck and I start working after we walk the dogs. This is our trigger to start our day. When we come back in from walking them we immediately head for the office. For others, it might simply be to walk into your office, or set a timer to go off, or once you drop the kids off.
3. Staying With Business Matters - Once you do get started, don't let yourself be distracted by household items or anything else. Don't procrastinate. You want to be efficient. To do so, plan your day, set reasonable goals, praise yourself for the work your doing. You no longer have the water cooler or coffee klatch around to give you that praise, so you must give it to yourself. In fact, reward yourself for a job well done with something you enjoy doing.
The following are some everyday time-savers to build into your daily routine to help you work more efficiently.
a) Be sure you have organized your contacts, and files.
b) Use time saving technology - a touch tone phone, with re-dial button, your computer, printer, copy machine, e-mail. Prioritize your To do List. Use your mail folders.
c) Learn to say no.
d) Make use of down time. File while your printing something or back up your data during lunch.
e) Build a time cushion into your day. It is much better to overestimate the time it takes to do something than to underestimate.
f) Don't make a big deal over little decisions. For example, supplies.
g) Plan to do two things at once. Read after business hours; or get audiocassettes and listen while doing household chores; proof items while printing or backing up.
h) If you prioritize your To Do list, you will have a bunch of little items that will take you 3-5 minutes to complete; filing, update tickle, proofreading are some of these short tasks.
Some of the best ways to maximize your efficiency are to: plan your workday; safeguard your work from unwanted distraction and interruptions; recognize and sidetrack procrastination; set reasonable work goals, praise yourself for your work and reward yourself for a job well done; take frequent regular breaks; schedule your work so it won't conflict with you favorite activities; and arrange for a change of scenery. By doing all this you keep yourself fresh and able to work at your best.
Some of your most time consuming tasks will be: keeping up to date in your area of expertise by reading. Read only pertinent material. For many items you receive just highlighting or skimming the article will suffice.
Meetings are another area that take up a lot of time. Be sure before you schedule the meeting to ask yourself, is it necessary? Can I do this by telephone, mail or teleconference? If you do have to schedule a meeting, be sure you are organized with an outline of what you need to cover, and a specific time limit. If the meeting does run over, see if you can finish it by phone or mail, if possible, rather than rescheduling.
For those of you in lease purchasing, remember your telephone script. You don't leave the office until you get all the information on the script, check out that information, finalize your numbers, then call the seller to schedule a meeting. When you go to your meeting with the seller, be sure to take your flyers and signs to place after you and the seller sign the contract. Don't waste time having to make a second trip.
Correspondence, projects, phone calls and errands are other areas that take up a lot of time. For your correspondence, set up an efficient routine for processing your mail (See the Articles: Organizing Your Office For The Year 2000, Part 1 & 2).
Keep your errands to a minimum, or schedule a specific day when you do them in a morning or afternoon. To expedite your phone calls, have names and numbers handy, use your egg timer to set a time limit for each call. Ask them to send written material to review, or if they need information from you, you do the same.
For your large projects, break them down into smaller manageable tasks. Give each of these tasks a deadline, and be sure to place all of the information in your project file on a sheet stapled to the inside of the file.
Stress is a part of our lives. When you become overwhelmed or something upsets your day, don't let it ruin the remainder of the day or carry over to the next. Take a deep breath; count to 10, take a break; sing a song that comforts you; take a walk around the block; play with the dogs. When you do get back to your desk - remember - nothing lasts forever, and tomorrow is a new day.
4. Interruptions, Distractions and Procrastinating - To safeguard yourself from the interruptions and distractions of household responsibilities: interruptions from family, friends or neighbors; remind yourself and them that even though you are at home YOU ARE AT WORK. If you were at an office outside the home you wouldn't be able to solve their problems or take a break to spend time with them.
Work out a plan with your family of what your hours are, when you can and can't be disturbed. You need to keep focused on your work. The ability to maintain a deep concentration can prevent you from being distracted.
Procrastination is one the of the biggest problems with many home-based businesses. It is very easy to put off or never get to something you want to avoid. One way to avoid this is to think performance not perfection. If you set small manageable goals to be accomplished you won't fear not being able to accomplish them. You need to recognize and side step procrastination.
Procrastination is one of the hardest things to overcome for so many people. However, if you start by doing the one thing you like to do, this could help you to move on to do the other things you don't like. For those of you that have a extremely difficult time with procrastination, start with your favorite thing to do, and then the next and so on down the line. At least this is a start. Eventually you will be able to put all of these items in priority order, not procrastinate and move on to a normal work day..
5. How Not To Become A Workaholic
a) Close the door on work.
b) Set up a end of day ritual. Some people take an exercise class, others will walk around the block. Chuck and I feed the dogs.
c) Set A Firm Schedule - Set firm beginning and ending times. Yes, these will fluctuate on some days if you have early morning meetings or evening meetings. However, for the most part your day begins at a certain time and ends around the same time each day. Take a day off a week, or two if that is what you need. Be sure to put your off time on your calendar.
d) Take time to get out of the house- You want to schedule time away from home. Whether it is a shopping trip with a friend, lunch with a friend, a weekend away with your family.
Make the above mentioned ideas and tips a part of your business and life. They will keep you on track and help you manage your time so you can run a successful home-based business, without sacrificing your personal life.

Aug 26, 2008

The Future Of Partnering

Partnering between home-based businesses is a natural result of corporate downsizing. Many professionals who have left large companies and started home-based businesses are successful and don’t want to return to the corporate world, but they recognize the need for and benefit of alliances.

Partnering will continue to gain respect and recognition among home-based entrepreneurs seeking top talent for short and long-term business needs. Across the scope of business today, joint-venturing is in. When it comes to partnering, the home-based business has an advantage in flexibility, overhead structure and unique sources of talent. In other words, getting together to combine the best of talents, the best of direction and the best of enthusiasm is a win-win situation, period.

A couple of examples would be: you partnering with real estate agents, and brokers in regards to lease purchasing; or to use a specific company for inspections or clean up of the property. Or contracting with a web designer to design pages for your clients.

Tips for Effective Partnering

Choose your partners carefully. Be sure they have the skills and abilities you need, and share your level of commitment. Define the scope of the partnership. Are you working on an equal basis, or will one of you function as the managing partner? What roles will each partner play? How will the compensation be calculated and distributed?

Put it in writing. A detailed, well-crafted partnership agreement prevents misunderstandings, memory lapses and future conflicts. Develop and stick to an operations plan. How will the work actually happen? How and when will the partners interact?

Plan for the unexpected. How do you plan to handle problems and resolve conflicts? If a partner wants to dissolve the agreement, who ends up with what?

Set a minimum “no exit” time period. New ventures take time to become productive. Make a mutual commitment to stick with the partnership long enough to give it a chance to prove itself.

So, who do you want to partner with?

Aug 24, 2008

The Summertime Blues

The day is sunny and warm. It's 9 a.m., the sky is a bright blue and the temperature is already a toasty 80 degrees. Work is the farthest thing from your mind. The kids want to go to Waterland. "Come on Mom, can't we go!" Even though you don't feel like it, you insist to them, you have to work. Stop, right there! When you feel that you need a break - take one.

Spending a day with the kids, or just by yourself - doing what pleases you, is sometimes just what you need to rejuvenate yourself.

Remember many times just getting away for a while gives you a new perspective on work and even life! So .......go for it.......indulge in those SUMMERTIME BLUES!

Aug 22, 2008

Staying Focused

Three of the biggest areas of concern to our home based business owners are repeat sales, getting new business and staying focused while working at home.

First, let's discuss staying focused at home. Remember, to have a separate office or to delineate one area and one area only to your home business. This can be your kitchen table, a desk in your dining or living area, but only one place for the business paperwork. Obviously, if you have to place supplies in a different area, this is OK. In addition, if you have clients come to your home, you can do this in your living room, or family room area, or an area you have designated for clients.

I know, it's summer and all that sunshine and water beckons you. Remember, folks this is your business. If you need a few days off to get it out of your system, do it. You'll come back more motivated, refreshed, and ready to tackle anything.

Your home-based business is no different than that job many of us had years ago, that when Spring and Summer came along we had a hard time concentrating, and maybe took some time off. However, when we came back we were ready to work. And this time it's your own business, so that should motivate you even more.

Don't forget one of the basic tenets of running a business from your home, set distinct hours for that business and stick to them. When the work day is done, close the door, or clean up that area, and go on to household chores, or outside interests.

Use that To Do List to keep you focused. Make it up at the end of each day. Use that last half hour of the day to set up your work schedule for the next, put your work and To Do List in your tickler file, check your daily scheduler, check your goals for the day, did you meet your goals for the day, if not, why not, and what do you need to do to be sure you meet them for the next day, and for the week. Use your goals to keep you focused on your work day and what needs to be accomplished.

What time of day is it when your focus is wandering. Is it late afternoon, early evening? Maybe you need to get up earlier, and adjust your schedule so that your work day is done sooner, and your down time coincides with the periods of time you are having trouble focusing.

We all go through periods when we need to get away or take time off, even from our own businesses. I don't care how passionate you are and how much you love what you do, sometimes you just need to get away from it all. We say DO IT, have your fun in the sun, pool, golfing, whatever. Then come back with a vengeance to that business with renewed purpose and energy.

Aug 20, 2008

"Penny Wise and Pound Foolish"

This saying came to mind when reading one of the newsletters I receive. The author was discussing things that Chuck and I talk about all the time. A couple of weeks ago while listening to Jim Edwards’ audio newsletters he ranted about the “psycho freebie seekers” (love that name). Jim rants almost as well as Dennis Miller.

Anyway these two newsletters and what they had to say have been rolling around in my head for a couple of days now. What came to mind is that people who run Internet businesses from their home are no different than those who ran businesses out of their home in the 80’s…..they don’t want to pay for anything. You would think with all the failed businesses they’ve had it would dawn on them that it is because they have done no research, no business plan, no determination on whether or not there is a market for their business in their vicinity. They don’t do mission statements. I could go on and on.

Unfortunately, too many people still think all they need is a computer, fax, and some business cards. In fact, they don’t even give out the business cards, they leave those in their office in nice little card files. A lot of good that’s doing them.

They will spend money on all the trappings but not on education, mentoring or consulting. As Chuck once said to me when I started my first business, and didn’t do any marketing “You will be the most organized business in bankruptcy court”. It was a wake up call.

As Jim and JL discussed, and Chuck and I run into every day, people want to pick our brains for information and answers. After all, they have been conditioned that IT’S FREE. They feel it is their right to do so.

The Internet especially has made people think that information is FREE. Yes, it is, but those of us who have niches, and have written books all put in a lot of time, effort, and energy in researching, writing and marketing our products. SO NO IT IS NOT FREE. We worked very hard to put together excellent products to the best of our ability and WE EXPECT TO GET PAID FOR THEM.

These individuals also have over inflated egos. “Who me, ask someone for help, and what pay for it. Oh, no I’m sure my way is the right way. People just don’t appreciate my great product (service or fill in the blank). I’m just as good, if not better than he/she is.”

It would never occur to them to pay someone to show them what is wrong. Or take a class, or purchase a book that might help. Nope, they say, it’s not that, it must be something else. It’s always some one else’s’ fault or some things’ fault, never theirs.

Unfortunately, the impetus for this behavior was fostered starting back in the 80’s when home based businesses were just starting to come into their own. Many of  the magazines and publications of the 80’s (and now the Internet) fostered the idea that ANYONE can run a home based business. Remember those magazines that had little kits for Word Processing businesses, basket making, medical records, etc. People bought them, followed them. Some did well, but others couldn’t figure out why they didn’t succeed.

They didn’t succeed for several reasons. First, none of them did the basics, the grunt work. Checking first to ascertain whether or not this business was even a viable one in their area. If it was, checking out the competition, making up a business plan, a mission statement. Setting up goals for themselves for daily, weekly, monthly, short and long term. Setting up a publicity campaign, working with the different media, setting up a marketing plan, networking.

All of the things that those of us that have been in business did so that we can stay in business. We were not “penny wise and pound foolish! “ We succeeded, through a great deal of hard work, effort and hard knocks that we plan to get compensated for. We are not going to give it away for “free”.

Aug 18, 2008

Partnering For Progress and Growth

Many home-based entrepreneurs are gaining new ground with partnering arrangements. Although it takes many shapes, the core of the partnering concept is two or more businesses teaming up to achieve together what they can’t do alone. Partnering with other businesses can help you offer a broader product or service package to a particular market segment, provide the resources to handle a single major project, or organize resources to meet your customers’ needs. Whatever the scenario, partnering gives you the image of seamless capacity typically associated with large corporations.

Even though it has been around for a while, don’t expect to find fixed rules for individual partnering agreements. With the concept rapidly evolving, some partnerships resemble entities unto themselves; others parallel outsourcing or subcontracting relationships. Some business owners partner only under carefully drawn contracts; others do it on a handshake. What’s important is developing an arrangement that satisfies all parties involved.

Partnering allows very niche-oriented businesses to serve clients’ complex needs and to compete against large firms that have all the necessary staff in-house. Partnering also allows you to handle a large one-time project without actually hiring employees.

Another advantage of partnering is it provides a home-based business the opportunity to grow substantially without having to move to a commercial location.

Get It In Writing

While partnering enthusiasts claim there are no serious drawbacks to the process, you should still proceed with caution, especially in the beginning. Formalize your agreement with a detailed written contract that clearly defines each partner’s role and responsibilities.

The contract covers what each is responsible for and what the compensation will be. It also includes short and long-term goals. The process of drawing up the contract forces you to think things through and be sure both are on the same page before starting. A business relationship is like a marriage-it takes work and sometimes you have to compromise. Just like a marriage certificate doesn’t guarantee a happy relationship, a contract doesn’t guarantee a successful partnership.

Even so, a contract can provide the foundation of a mutually beneficial business relationship and give you processes to end the alliance should that become necessary.

Think about all the things that could go wrong and how you would deal with them. What if one of the partners wants out? If the partnership splits up, who keeps the clients? Who signs contracts? How will you handle a situation where one partner fails to fulfill his or her obligation?

Consider the issue of liability not only from the legal perspective but also as it pertains to image. What happens if one of the partners either performs poorly or fails to perform at all? An attorney can review your agreement and advise you so you’re protected against legal liability, but you may still be putting your reputation at risk. Take the time to get to know a prospective partner, gain confidence in his or her abilities and reliability, and check references.

Where do you find good partners? They’re pretty much everywhere. Clients may also serve as the catalyst for a partnership, or contacts may be made through various networks.

As successful as partnering can be, don’t rush into it. Define your niche and your client base, and develop trust with your clients first. Once your business is established on its own, then look for ways to enhance it through partnerships.

Aug 16, 2008

Office Set Up

OK, you say, I've decided to start my business. I have my idea, my identity package, my licensing and zoning done. Now I need to set up my office.

Your first step is to decide whether to convert a room into an office or a space/area in your home to office space.

If your space is limited you might want to get the type of desk that looks like an armoire so you can close it up at the end of the day. Or use a folding table that can be put away at the end of the business day. Or you can set up a mini-office in the corner of a room and put up a screen to hide this area at the end of the work day.

In addition, depending on the type of business you are running, you need to think of files you will need and how you will house those files. For some businesses a small letter file will suffice, which you can cover with a table cloth at the end of the day or you could use an end table with space for files, or you can purchase crates for files and stack those in a corner or closet.

Most businesses today need a computer, along with a printer, fax, and/or scanner. Again, if you use the armoire type of desk they use have space for most of this equipment, and you can close it at the end of the day.

For those of you that devote a separate room to your office, you have a lot more latitude in the design of your office. However, size of your office will come into play. To utilize the space to the best advantage, choose your desk and the placing of equipment based on your office size. This means measure items before purchasing them. Do a mock set up. While this might take a little more time initially, it will pay off in the long run.

The basics for most offices are phone, fax, computer and printer, and file cabinets. The file cabinet can also be used for miscellaneous supplies if you are tight on space.

We all have a picture in our minds of the ideal office. Unfortunately, we have to work within certain parameters. It can be done. You just need a little ingenuity sometimes.

Since there are so many differences between individuals and what they have to work with it is very difficult to be very specific in what to purchase. We would suggest being sure to get the basics: phone, fax, computer, printer and file cabinet, and work from there. Obviously, if you can devote a whole room to an office it will be a lot easier than if your space is limited.

Aug 14, 2008

My Family Doesn't Take Me Seriously!

I can't tell you how many times I hear from working mom's that people don't take their home based business seriously. Unfortunately, when I ask them how they react, they don't have real definitive answers for me.

Remember, unless you take your own business seriously, no one else will. You must establish working hours, rules that family members must follow, and rules you must follow.

I know, you started your business so you could be your own boss, work when you want, spend more time with your family, have more flex time.

Yes, you can have these things, but you also have to make decisions regarding your business. If your business is secondary to all of the other things, then just like everyone else you are not taking your own business seriously, so why should anyone else. Your business has to be the first priority, not your house, your yard, your cooking and cleaning, your kids and/or family. I am not saying your family is not important, they are; but you must make them realize that what you do as a business person is important, and that you need your time and space to do this.

Remind them that when you worked outside the home they couldn't ask you a question whenever they wanted or to talk with you whenever they wanted to. I know, this is one of the reasons you wanted to work from home so that you could better deal with these issues. Well you can, but you have to schedule them in. Put the time in your daily schedule to deal with the unexpected and you will be better able to deal with it all.

I work my business, but still get the other things done. However, I have a schedule and I stick to it. My work day starts after the cleaning is done. I've set time aside Friday morning to shop, Saturday to do a full cleaning. I still have plenty of time to myself and to have fun.

So schedule the fun things in. Time with the kids, and the family. And remember, unless you take your business seriously... neither will anyone else.

Aug 12, 2008

7 Attributes of a Successful Home Biz Opportunity

Many people are looking for a home business to
give them financial freedom. With so many small
business opportunities to choose from, how do you
discern a truly great home business from the
wannabes? Rather than take a gamble with your
future financial security read on to find out
exactly what to look for with these seven keys to
home business success.

Key 1: How big is the market? What type of people
would be interested in the products and services?
The businesses that go further are those that can
serve the needs and wants of potentially millions
of people; are not restrained by demographics and
that appeal to people with disposable income.
Many small business opportunities would satisfy
one or two of these criteria but few satisfy all
three. The more people interested in your
products the more money you will make.

Key 2: What is the industry trend? What is the
general direction of the industry in which your
business will operate? Is the industry expanding,
staying level or worse still, shrinking? Are
people finding alternatives to your products and
services? Do you remember some years ago the
explosion in home entertainment through videos?
For a short time having movies at home on video
was highly lucrative but has been quickly replaced
with DVDs. Be aware that a product or service may
be considered *hot*...but for how long?

You will need to look for an industry that is
expanding as well as a highly desirable product or
service. If the industry is expanding, it is
possible get a sense for how long that industry
will continue to grow by taking a look at the
generation of Baby Boomers.

Baby Boomers are the people born between 1945 and
1960 who have caused significant industries to
emerge in the past. For example, as they have
aged, the following industries have expanded:
baby foods, station wagon cars, tertiary
education, computers and IT. Baby Boomers are
approaching the latter part of their working
lives and are interested in products and services
that promise financial security, health and
flexible lifestyle.

A home based business satisfying an emerging need
of the Baby Boomers is one that will have some
significant future.

Key 3: The nature of the product or service
itself? Is the product one that people will use
often? Look for a product that is consumed (used
up) and needs to be replaced regularly. This
will give you repeat orders from the same customer
and create a steady flow of income.

Do customers fall in love with the product or
simply use it? The best home business
opportunities are with products that people love,
rather than simply, like. People love products
that save them time, or deliver a solution to a
recurring problem. The product should also
represent value for money and most importantly,
be one that people can’t get anywhere else.

Key 4: How is the product delivered to the
customer? This is an important point as you will
want to leverage or use your limited time in the
most effective way possible. If you physically
deliver to your customers, you significantly
limit your income and market potential. No
business, even your own will pay you for
delivery. Businesses pay on generating sales!
Your time is much more valuable spent in lead
generation than to allow it to be squandered in
delivering the product.

Look for a business where the products can be
delivered electronically over the internet, or
are delivered directly to the consumers by the
parent company - without you having to be
involved, other than placing the order.

Key 5: Is there a proven business system? Is there
a successful business system you can plug into?
Let's face it, you want to get up and running and
be making money as soon as possible, not creating
a business system! Or, worse still trying to make
a bad business system workable!

Look for a business opportunity with well-designed
marketing tools; efficient, automated processes,
simplicity and track record of creating business
success for newbies. A great business is one that
even Homer can master!

Key 6: Is there a support system? Is there a
support structure you can plug into until you grow
your business and learn your businses to stand
independent? Once you get started, are you going
to be left alone or will there be someone there
to guide you?

Choose a home business where someone will teach
you how to run the business and if need be, show
you how to develop your own leaders. Make sure
there is a mentoring system in place so you have
the opportunity to regularly learn from
successful leaders who have gone before you.

Key 7: The credibility factor. Is the organization
believable, stable and have a track record of
delivering on their promises? Have a good look at
the people who are in charge and ask the
following questions.

How long has this organization been in business?
Is the company well respected? Does the company
make unsubstantiated claims? Have they been able
to establish a loyal customer base so far? Do
they meet all government standards and
qualifications in the countries they operate? Is
there a refund policy? Can they deliver on their
remuneration promises?

You should take the time to get to know the
company you will be relying on. Don't just be
dazzled by the so-called income testimonies!

Now there are a number of home business
opportunities out there all vying for your
attention. Armed with these seven success
factors you are well equipped to sort out those
work at home business opportunities that have the
best potential of providing you with true
financial freedom.

Aug 10, 2008

Strategies for Success in the Exciting and Lucrative Home-Based Business of Jewelry & Gemstones

The business of jewelry is one of the most fun, exciting and profitable businesses that exist. The demand for jewelry by consumers is unrelenting and consistently growing. Like any other business worth pursuing by a new- comer; the jewelry business requires research, ongoing education, focus and persistence. Fear not,the rewards for this effort can be well-worth the investment of time and energy making jewelry one of the best home-based business opportunities available.

Finding your Niche

The world of jewelry is vast and can be overwhelming. It is imperative that the prospective jewelry entrepreneur narrow down to a specific area in which to concentrate there marketing efforts. In other words, you must avoid the temptation to spread-out in several directions. Rather, you should become an expert, a specialist. The ideal is to find a niche within a niche. Stake your claim and mine that pocket deep and hard. For example, sterling silver cat jewelry ,14 KT. gold Celtic jewelry, wire -wrapped birthstone jewelry etc.

Selecting your Approach

After the budding jewelry entrepeneur has settled on their niche, they must decide which business model makes the most sense to them. The following represent five basic strategies that one might follow:

1. Buy wholesale-sell retail- Remember, you make your profit by buying well. Any Search Engine will reveal countless wholesale sources, move steadily forward. Do your research. Not all wholesalers are equal. In fact, many so-called wholesalers are not really wholesalers at all and prey on the unsophisticated. Applied knowledge is key here.

2. Import directly from manufacturer and sell wholesale. This strategy is not the best for beginners, but if you have ties and are comfortable with a country like India, Thailand, Mexico and others. This can be a lucrative approach. Start small and learn the ropes before you grow.

3. Become an affiliate for an existing web-based jewelry company. This strategy is excellent for beginners, as it requires no inventory and you use the company's web-site. Also, they handle the product fulfillment and shipping. This is a great, low-risk way to get started.

4. Join a jewelry MLM- There are some advantages here and some individuals enjoy this type of marketing, again, do your due-diligence before you jump-in.

5. Make and sell your own jewelry- If you have the talent and the time, this path can be very rewarding. One tip, unless you want to be a starving artist; find out what type of handcrafted jewelry consumers will actually buy and produce jewelry for that market.

Marketing and Selling Jewelry
Once you have identified your niche and selected your approach, you need to explore marketing and selling for profit. Here are some suggestions for how and where to sell jewelry.

1. Special Events- Craft shows, wine festivals, Celtic festivals, street fairs etc. In the beginning, concentrate on low-cost booth fees i.e. under $100 until you gain experience.

2. Home parties- Low overhead. These can be a goldmine if you work them well. Referrals are the key to success.

3. Ebay- an easy, low-cost way to sell jewelry on the internet.

4. Your own website.

A. Ebay or yahoo store- both are excellent because of there built-in shopping audience and credibility.

B. Buy and fix-up a previously owned website-Many websites are For Sale by Owner on ebay.

The jewelry business can be a wonderful full or part-time home-based business. Use this article as a basis for your education. Learn everything you can about your chosen niche, study marketing and develop your selling skills. Keep a positive attitude and success will certainly follow.

Aug 8, 2008

Making Money Online With Personals Ads

When I first started looking for ways to make money online the first program I joined was One&Only internet personals. They were a personals dating affiliate program that dealt with matchmaking and singles personals ads online.

One&Only has since been taken over by Match.com one of the largest match making personals dating sites on the internet today. I still get paid monthly from them for the advertising I do on my internet personals web site. http://www.free-love-personals.com

Internet personals have become big business. And the amount of affiliate programs you could join to make money online with has quadrupled.

The way these sites work is that you the advertiser advertise on your site free personals ads or look at free personals ads with photos. Now here comes the catch. Let’s say that the person reading the ads actually finds someone they are interested in. They will not be able to contact that person until they purchase a subscription. After they have purchased a subscription and you have received a commission only then will they be given the persons contact information.

Match.com pays out $18.71 for a one month subscription $33.64 for a 3 month subscription and $49.28 for a six month subscription. As you can see, with just a few subscriptions you’re looking at a pretty decent commission check. And they pay out every month regardless of how much is owed to you.

These programs are real and paying out real money. Even Yahoo has its own internet personals service called Yahoo Personals. You can make money selling subscriptions to Yahoo personals by joining a 3rd party affiliate program called commission junction. Commission Junction actually has 100s of affiliate programs you could join to make money online. But we will leave that for another article.

If you want to make money online with internet personals it is highly recommended that you get your own domain name and create a web site. In fact with any make money online business you should have your own domain and create a content rich web site that is relevant to the programs you want to promote.

Relevance is the key to the success of any good web site. Pick a topic then build your site around that topic.

Example. With a personals site add content which includes such thing as horoscopes, zodiac signs, ask Ann or ask whomever, dating articles or advice columns you name it. There are probably hundreds of thing you can put on your dating site. Be creative and don’t be afraid to trade links with other dating sites.

Next you’re going to want to find a few good dating affiliate programs. As I mentioned above Match.com is one of the best. If you would like to join Match.com affiliate program click o the following link.

http://www.free-love-personals.com/match.html

Also join commission junction and add the Yahoo Personals affiliate program to your arsenal.

Try not to over do it. 2 or 3 programs will do to get you started. After that it’s up to you to build good content around your site and advertise ill you get the desired traffic.

Aug 6, 2008

Hens Lay Eggs (HLE)

“HLE” is a bit of a joke term, (or possible tongue in cheek could be a better label) coined in my Network Marketing Group - it stands for "Hens Lay Eggs" and is a take on the exponential growth theory - recruit two people, who recruit two, etc, and in six weeks you'll have 50,000 people sending you $250,000 - the false promise of MLM.

The MLM exponential growth chart makes sense mathematically but is flawed. Unfortunately the ordinary person can't see the flaw, so buy into it, and you get your 95% of people who do MLM and can't make it work. We all know the story.

The logic is the same as "Zeno's arrow", based on an ancient greek philosopher and mathematician who preceeds Archimedes and Pythagoras. Or in the famous “missing pound” logic problem. More on these in future issues.

But here is the HLE analogy explained:

A hen lays six eggs. If the chicks grow up to be hens they also lay eggs and the hen becomes a “grandmother”. There is no guarantee that all 6 chicks will lay 6 eggs, etc. Also there's nothing to stop the hen laying another batch of eggs, maybe six, maybe 5 or 8. It's not set or guaranteed.

Also there is no guarantee that the eggs will hatch into chicks – “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” after all. In this sense, an egg is a prospect, a chick is an affiliate who has signed up. Whether that chick now grows into a hen and lays their own eggs is the next issue. And a lot of that is down to how you – the mentor – or “Mother Hen” – help them develop in their early days, months, even years.

So it is with network marketing, MLM, EMM - whatever you want to call it - we call it "HLE". As Shakespeare said "a rose by any other name will still give you hay fever", or to quote Bruce Lee "it's just a name don't fuss over it"

The same goes for EMM - Exact Method Marketing - the McDonalds formula example (more on that later).

So what I now do is lead with FREE affiliate programs, the best of which is the SFI scheme with their free online VStore. This means no signup fees, no upgrade fees, no forcing the distributors to buy inventory. The money is ONLY made from the sale of the product and money is ONLY made by helping your downline make sales.

When someone joins under me they HAVE to sell the products and I HAVE to help them, I can't just sell them the opportunity as they do in so many companies that are DESIGNED to take advantage of the fact that the new affiliate won't be able to make any sales or recruit any downline. THESE schemes don't need them to - they have made the money from selling them the opportunity - the startup fee, upgrade fee, and they sell product to the distribrutor who "must stock inventory" - they don't ever expect him to be able to sell it on - they don't need him to.

HLE, taken literally, is more "viral". It's like when someone sends you a joke on email, if you look, each "level" has dozens of different names the joke has been spidered out to.

That is "viral", and that is how you pass on the products and opportunity. It spreads like a virus – person to person – which is how network marketing is supposed to work. No spam, no sticking people on autoresponders – no junk mail.

Real people, real products, real opportunities, real results.

Aug 4, 2008

Prospecting for Your Nutrition Business: Icebreakers

Being able to bring up the topic of nutrition or the topic of home businesses during a conversation is an important part of prospecting. We develop a formal technique for cold calling but we want to be able to talk to friends, acquaintances, and certain strangers in a warm, easy, natural, and informal way. In some ways bringing up a business topic in informal situations is more difficult than it is in more formal settings.
 
The best advice is to be conversational and natural with people.  In informal situations topics should come up easily and naturally.  The conversation should not be forced and good humor should be used.  However, what people often don’t appreciate is that being “easy and natural” generally has to be learned and practiced.  Good conversational ice breakers may not seem natural to a person when first used.  But with good practice and usage they become natural.  Remember how uncomfortable it felt as a child to talk to people?  Practice, practice, practice.
 
So, what are some good ice breakers?  See if some of the ideas in the list below help you.
 
Books

Carry Dr. Ray Strand’s book, What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition May Be Killing You.  The book can be placed in a location that will cause people to notice it and ask questions.  Or when you see someone glance at the book you can make an appropriate comment about it to get the conversation started.  A good provocative statement to use early in the conversation would be, “This book helped me to think about nutrition in a very different way.”
 
Carry Robert Allen’s book, Multiple Streams of Income.  As with Dr. Strand’s book, place this book in a convenient spot and wait for comments and opportunities to open a conversation with.  Also, use a similar provocative statement like, “This book helped me to think about wealth and income in a very different way.”
 
There are numerous other books, even magazines that you can carry to accomplish the same goals.  The choices are up to your imagination and familiarity with the literature.

Brochures
As with books, product brochures and catalogs can also be carried and placed in such a way as to spur a person’s interest.  One of the advantages of a brochure or a catalog is that it can be given to the prospect who has shown interest.  The brochure should have your name and contact information on it somewhere.

Business Cards

It’s hard to start a conversation with a business card, but they should be handy to give away once the conversation has been started.  The card can have an interesting design or provocative facts to help elicit a comment and further conversation.

Carrying Bag

This is not an ice breaker but it is a good idea to carry books, brochures, catalogs, business cards, and products with you in your car.  Put them into a canvas bag that can be purchased at a craft store or a discount store inexpensively.  Have your children decorate the bag and you’ll enjoy keeping it in the car at all times.  You may think of additional items that you want to have handy in the bag.  That way you will be prepared for a variety of situations.

Signs

Have you noticed how many people have magnetic signs on the side or the back of their vehicle?  They are quite noticeable and not prohibitively expensive.  The signs produce many questions and comments, and if the phone number is easy to read and remember, you’ll receive some phone calls.  It pays to advertise.

Lapel Pin

I’m sure you notice the pins that people wear on their shirt or jacket.  Well, other people will notice yours if you wear one.  Either someone will ask you about the pin or you will notice someone glancing at it and you can start a conversation about it.  Call it a pin of achievement so that you can talk about success.
 
Button

Similar to a lapel pin, a good button can initiate a conversation.  Buttons often are humorous, sometimes large and gaudy, so the conversation they start may be different from the one started by a lapel pin.
 
Friends and Acquaintances

How are you doing?  Certainly this is the most obvious ice breaker question to ask and it is appropriate to ask of strangers as well as of friends.  If the person goes into some detail about how they are feeling and doing healthwise, you have the perfect opportunity to talk about your nutrition products.  Do so with a conversational tone and ask numerous questions about the other person’s health.  Since people like to talk about themselves this will build a significant amount of trust.  Then, add some testimonials from your own experience or from someone else’s experience.  The stories help to ensure your position as an expert on the subject.
 
If the person does not respond to your question with details about their own health, you do have the opportunity to talk about your own.  You can talk about how you recently recovered from a cold or slight illness that didn’t last nearly as long or was nearly as severe as such illnesses used to be.  The reason?  The new nutritional supplements that you are now taking.  Be sure to add that these products have gotten you to thinking about health in a very different way.

Perhaps you have not had an illness in a very long time and your health is super.  That’s good to talk about, and the reason your health is so good is because of the nutritional supplements that you have been taking regularly.









Has someone in your family recently recovered from a mild illness?  Talk about them.  Or perhaps someone in the family is not taking the same nutritional supplements that you are and they have had some recent illnesses that they did not recover from quickly.  Both types of stories will allow you to talk about the nutritional products and the business opportunity that goes with it.

What have you been doing lately?  People usually respond to such a question with remarks about working hard as usual and not having enough time for anything else.  They’re busy, busy, busy.  This presents a good opportunity to talk about how a good home business would allow them possibly to replace their current income and give them the time freedom that they want and deserve. 

Ask the person if there have been any layoffs at their workplace.  If there have been, then you’ll be able to talk about backup plans and residual income.  You can point out how wise it is to take action now just in case something happens to their current job.

Usually the person will return the question and inquire about what you have been doing recently.  With that opening you can freely talk about your favorite business opportunity in appropriate detail.  Be sure to ask some questions here so that you know how much detail is appropriate.  Avoid boring the person and losing out on the chance to follow up with them at a later date.  Your objective is to inspire their curiosity and then ask their permission to send them more information about the products or opportunity or to make a personal presentation.

Have you found any good money making ideas?  It’s okay to ask an off the wall question of someone who knows you.  Their answer may surprise you.  You may find that they have no desire to do anything other than what they have been doing for years.  Or you may find that they have been actively looking for a good idea.  Probably they will ask you if you have found a good money making idea. Give an enthusiastic response and then ask for their permission to share your idea with them.


Strangers
How are you doing?   The same advice applies here as under the Friends heading.  Look for the opportunity to say good things about the nutritional supplements that you are using.   Be sure to add that these are not just good products but this is a good business.

What do you do?  Listen intently to their answer so that you can detect any dissatisfaction with their current situation.  Ask a few appropriate questions and show an interest in what they do.  Hopefully they will return the question to you.  Even if they don’t return the question you have the chance here to give them your 30 second introduction.

You should have a 30 second intro, sometimes called an elevator speech, already thought out and rehearsed.  This short speech should mention the problem that you help to solve, give a short statement about how you solve the problem, and provide an opening for the other person to learn more.  If it is provocative and with some humor, so much the better.

Here’s a short example:  “You know how as people get older they start to think more and more about their health and about retirement?  What I do is teach people how to improve their health and how to add sources of income to their lives.”  If you are truly in an elevator or some other very brief meeting situation you might add, “Could I talk to you sometime about some ideas I have that would benefit you?  Perhaps we could meet?  Do you have a card?  Here is mine.”

If the time element is not so short you should have the basis for the start of a good conversation.  Just keep it lively and full of self confidence.  Let the other person pick up on how satisfied you are with what you are doing. 

Conclusion
 
Practice, practice, practice as many of these ideas as you can.  Add your own ideas.  A few failures will help to guide you to success.  A few successes will build your confidence.  I believe that the learning curve is fairly fast here, and eventually you will find that being able to bring up your products and opportunity in a conversation is easy and natural.

Aug 2, 2008

Top 10 Steps for Harnessing Your Emotional Power for Business Success

Do you find yourself trying to make sense out of the emotions you feel at work? Do you wish that you could get rid of the "negative" emotions that you feel? Do you wish that your boss or co-workers or clients and other people involved in your business could change so that you don't have to feel the way you feel? If you answered "Yes" to these question, you are not alone. Emotions are a huge part of your work life. Whether positive or negative, it's important to not only feel your emotions but pay attention to them. In truth, your emotions are a flashing red light, warning you that it's time to take your life to the next level.

Here are 10 steps to help you harness your emotional power:
1. Be aware of and identify your emotions.

So many of us were taught that certain emotions were good and certain ones were bad so we try to ignore the “bad” emotions. In response we learned all sorts of ways to ignore or bury the emotions we didn't want to feel, ways like overeating, smoking, drinking, becoming a workhaholic, and so on. The truth is that there are no “good” or “bad” emotions. All emotions have something to teach us. So the first step is to get in touch with what you're feeling. Are you angry, frustrated, happy, or sad? Give it a label. Notice, too, how the feeling manifests in your body. Are your shoulders tense, your teeth clenched, or your stomach jittery? These physical symptoms are proof positive that emotions impact our physical lives. They teach us also, that it really is important to take charge of our emotions, instead of letting them take charge of us.

2. Trace the emotion to its root cause.

You may need help from a coach or friend to do this step. The trouble is, it's not always easy to trace the emotion back to its root cause. Often, what we think is the cause is actually a decoy taking us away from the real reason we're experiencing a particular emotion. Say, for example, you feel pressured and tense because you have been given a project that is supposed to be someone else’s responsibility. Do you feel pressured because it is a project outside of your expertise or do you feel pressured because you hate the fact that your colleague always gets good projects and you don’t? Or do you feel pressured because you never get the projects you want? You can't resolve the situation until you know what's really bothering you.

3. Interpret the situation.

Positive emotions tell you that your needs are being met and satisfied. They reflect to you what you like and what you dislike, what fits you well and what doesn't. Negative emotions signal you that change is needed. Get incredibly curious about what the emotion is telling you. It may be trying to signal you that adjustment is needed in order to cope with the future or to move to the next level.

4. Clarify what you want & design solutions.

Once you've interpreted the meaning of the emotion, determine what you need to change to make your life better. Maybe you are no longer happy in your current position. If so, can you talk to your manager or whoever is appropriate about changing to another group within the company? Maybe you don’t know what you need to do in order to change the situation for better, and that’s okay too. Admit it and find ways to get clarification. Maybe you need to work it out with a mentor or a coach.

5. Set a realistic deadline.

Time frames and deadlines make plans come alive. Once you have a plan for changing, set yourself a realistic deadline. Then, based on the deadline, work backwards and set short-term goals for yourself.

6. Take on the challenge and start moving.

Too often, we spend all our time in the analysis of the what's and the why’s and the design of the how’s. While important, these are just the beginning of the whole process. Real change happens when you are determined to make it happen. So make the commitment to change and go for it. No more talking. Just do it!!!

7. Get support.

If you are serious about making big and important behavioral changes, don’t do it alone. Get whatever kind of support you need from a friend, a family member, a coach or a mentor. Then help your support team to help you by communicating your plan as clearly as possible. Communicate what you are doing, describe your desired outcome, and ask your supporters to help you achieve your goals.

8. Take action and more action.

Follow your plan and take action. Don't stop. If it looks like your original plan may not succeed, consider other options, and adjust your plan. But do not go back to dwelling in the emotion. Repeat the steps, and keep moving and moving. Do not stop until you get your desired result. Adjust, change, start over, and keep moving.

9. Stay focused.

Many times, it takes a season for a change to happen. Especially, when you are feeling negative emotions and when circumstances aren’t changing, it is easy to loose sight, get discouraged and give up. Stay focused. Be patient and persistent. Picture in your mind the feeling you will get when your outcome is fulfilled. It takes a while for a seed to germinate and grow into a plant. You don’t stop watering the seed after a week just because you have not seen any leaves. You keep the faith and you keep watering. In the same way, be patient. Don't get discouraged. Stay focused on your outcome. Keep taking actions. Most people fail in this step. If you are can visualize your goal, make it real, and keep moving towards it, you will win the race.

10. Reward yourself.

Don't forget to reward yourself along the way. You are mastering the use of your emotions as a tool of empowerment. Give yourself a lot of credit for that. Write down your successes. Share them with friends. These will serve as your fuel the next time you need to face another emotion and turn it to your advantage. You will remember that since you successfully used this process the last time to create a better life, you can surely do it again and again. You will have a positive outlook on what comes to you, knowing that you will come out of it stronger and more powerful. You will become more and more confident that you are capable of becoming Emotional Intelligent and shaping your own life for better.