Archive for Small Business


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(ARA) – As the world’s economy becomes more and more challenging, small business owners need to find ways to keep their business afloat. Here are some tips to maintaining good customer relations while managing the bottom line:

Invest in technology.

Maintaining your computer systems is vital to keeping your business running smoothly. If you’re not a technical whiz and you don’t want to pay for ongoing information technology support, consider Macintosh computers for your business. Although they cost a little more initially, many people find the investment pays back in ease of use and longer life. More companies are releasing business software that runs on the Mac and you can also use a program such as Parallels to run any needed Windows-only software on the Mac. Investing in technology will allow you to implement other cost-saving processes and programs.

Share files and data.

When you share a centralized database and critical files between computers, it can increase productivity. For example, if a customer gets a new phone number or moves, updating it in the central database that everyone uses will keep you connected to customers. “Synchronization and file sharing are easy and intuitive on the Mac and these were key reasons driving the move to Mac,” says John Ives, who runs a defense-industry consulting firm and recently made the switch to Mac.

Communicate with your customers and prospects efficiently.

In a tougher economy, don’t stop marketing, just do it more efficiently. Rather than sending out direct mail, consider e-mail marketing as a way to reach out to customers and prospects alike. Using a tool such as CardScan contact management system, you can capture all your contact information electronically. Scan and read all your business cards with the card reader and use “drag–and-drop” to capture e-mail signatures or prospect contact information from Web sites. Using CardScan software, you can create and assign categories for your contacts. If you meet a group of prospects at a meeting, scan in the cards, assign the category with the meeting name and then you can send targeted follow-up e-mails to these prospects in just a few steps.

CardScan for Mac also keeps a photo of each business card, so you can flip through the various images of them on your computer, rather than losing them in a folder or a pocket. For business-owners on the go, the scanner plugs directly into your laptop’s USB power source, allowing you to scan your cards on a bus, in the hotel or on an airplane – before you return to the home office.

With over 7200 contacts, Ives, needs to be organized. Using a CardScan system, he quickly enters notes for contacts such as special interests or where he met the person. “I can type in a few letters or words and instantly find the one person I need with the CardScan system,” he says. “It’s very easy to use and synchronizing to Address Book ensures we are using accurate and up-to-date information.”

Get your business online.

Many small businesses put off building a Web site, or they let it get out of date because it costs money to maintain. But there are now many non-technical and free tools to build and maintain a Web presence. For example, using WordPress, an open-source blogging tool, you can build a blog that looks professional and is very easy to maintain. It’s also a more modern approach to communicate with customers and prospects.

Use inexpensive creative resources.

If you need photos, illustrations or graphics for your marketing materials or blog, resist the urge to use the amateur-looking clip art packaged with your software programs. Instead try inexpensive online sources such as iStockphoto.com for low-cost photos and graphics, or tempatemonster.com for Web templates and blog themes.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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By Anna D. Banks

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs can get thousands of dollars in free publicity by following the tips, tricks and tools, courtesy of Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound®. She’s a former newspaper editor, a small business owner AND she was tapped by Entrepreneur.com as its public relations expert. Click here to read all the columns she wrote for Entrepreneur.com and click here click here to check out her educational tools for small business owners.

What do you do once you have your press release prepared? Use free release distribution services to get the word out about you, your company, product, service or sponsored event. I’ve used many services and the following have given the best results:

www.24-7PressRelease.com – Free release distribution with ad-support

www.1888PressRelease.com – Free distribution, paid services gives you better placement and permanent archiving.

www.Free-Press-Release.com – Easy press release distribution for free, more features for paid accounts.

www.PR.com – Not only will they distribute your press releases, but you can also set up a full company profile.

www.PRCompass.com – Distribute your press release with a free or paid version, others can vote it up ala Digg.com style.

Have a Fearless Day!

Anna D. Banks
Anna@ImagineMoreLLC.com
Anna@AnnaBanks.com

Follow me on TWITTER – www.Twitter.com/annabanks

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Anna D. Banks, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

By Anna D. Banks, GCDF

Most people nearing retirement age begin to think about what they can do next. Even though you may want to start a small home based business, but you could be stuck wondering if you are too old for entrepreneurship after retirement. You may even think that over 60 is an age that is too old for getting into entrepreneurship.

However, recent studies have shown that older entrepreneurs actually have the odds in their favor. As many as 22% men over 65 and 14% of the women over retirement age are self-employed, and entrepreneurs in the age group of 45 to 64 are a group expected to grow rapidly in the near future. Older entrepreneurs clearly have an edge because of their experience gained over many years of working life. They have also generally earned more financial stability, and assets that can finance a startup. Today, entrepreneurs over 50 are quite willing to devote the time and energy to build their small businesses.

There are more than 10 million businesses in the US alone that are women-owned, and employ 18 million people! Women-owned businesses are actually a good 28% of the total business world and total over 700,000 new startups a year! These statistics are a good reason to get ready for the transition from an employee to a business owner. As the Baby Boomer generation hits retirement age, people are living longer and healthier lives, making many of them want to continue an active and productive work life.

By the time you are 50, you have gained a number of skills and accumulated experience that really makes the difference in entrepreneurship. However, prepare well before you make the transition from an employee to a business owner. It requires some precautions that may not apply to young entrepreneur. Starting a new business at this stage can be more risky and you can afford fewer mistakes. There is simply less time to bounce back and the money you are investing might just be your retirement assets. So if you are an older entrepreneur, you need to plan and prepare, getting ready for the transition from an employee to a business owner, with caution.

Don’t stake all your reserves on this one venture. Borrow only as much as you need to start the business and try to avoid a personal guarantee or second mortgages. Pick a business that you have experience in, in a field that you know well. Failing that, pick an industry where your current skills transfer and translate easily. A totally different industry, based on a hobby or an interest, can work quite well if you spend enough time in learning the ins and outs of the industry and familiarizing yourself with the business.

Consider buying up an already established business. Starting a new business from scratch is risky. If you buy an established business, you get processes already in place, and a ready client or buyer base. A running business has a track record, and financial statements; check these out before you buy, with your lawyer and accountant. Also, another good idea might be to consider a franchise.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF

ANNA D. BANKS, GCDF is an adjunct professor at Essex County College, career development and marketing coach, speaker, and author. Anna helps individuals design a game plan for an extraordinary career or business. Since 1996, Anna has helped hundreds of job-seekers, managers, business owners, and sales professionals achieve career success. For more information send an email to Anna@AnnaBanks.com.
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Author’s Note:
Do you have any questions about career development or lifestyle changes for Baby Boomers, which you think others, like you, would want to know the answers? Post your questions on this website or email your questions to me at Anna@AnnaBanks.com.

Categories : Small Business
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Anna D. Banks, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

By Anna D. Banks, GCDF

So, here at last are your golden years! After enjoying the honeymoon period of holidaying and chilling out, you could be wondering what to do next. Maybe you are toying with the idea of starting your own business, not only to keep yourself occupied, but also to bring in some extra income. If that is so, then here are some basics you need to take into consideration in order to make it a success.

All successful businesses are based on a single factor – a good business idea. A good idea is the best launching pad for any kind of business. Once you have that idea, and you are eager to get started, you will have to channel that energy in order to get started with the business. Getting a business started is not complicated if you know the basics.

One of the first considerations you will have to take into account is the marketability of your business idea. Will people buy the product or service you want to sell? Examine the market closely and find out what kind of competition there is. If you think there is too much competition out there, then you could think about narrowing your idea to fit a particular niche. Determine which area requires your product or service the most, and make it your target to promote and sell your idea.

The next thing you need to do is find out about your state’s laws. You will need to ensure that you have the correct certification and licenses to sell your product or service. For example, if it is a day care center you are opening in your house, it may need to be inspected by the state. Special papers may need to be filled out. Obtaining a license to start your business will be required in many areas. Find out from your municipality about what you will require. Business licenses are generally not expensive.

Creating a business plan is another thing that is advisable to do. It lets you set values and goals for your business. Concepts that may be useful later can also be written down on paper. It lets you see how your business will be run and what you will do for it to grow. A business plan doesn’t take a lot of time to write, and yet it is one of the best tools to bring your business into fruition.

Assessing your financial requirements is the next thing you need to do.
You need to find out what the costs of operating your business will be, and whether you will need to get a business loan to get it started. If you need investors or require loans, you will certainly require a business plan.

Another important aspect of getting your business running is advertising. This is about the only way your customers will get to know that you exist. Creating a website is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of advertising your business. The Internet these days has become the primary source for people to get information about products and services, hence having a website has become essential and is not an option any longer. You can create a rudimentary website that does not cost much if you are on a budget. But if it is a high quality website that you want for your business, it is best to hire a website designer.

By advertising, you also put yourself out in the market, promoting your business constantly. Become a member of networking groups and mail out flyers. If you can afford it, place ads in magazines and newspapers. Although it is not required to do everything all at once, however, always look for chances to promote and expand your business.

Take enough time for building your business in the right way. It is most probable that you are excited about your business scheme; however, you need to turn this excitement into productivity in order to get your business up and running.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF
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Author’s Note:

Do you have any questions about career development or lifestyle changes for Baby Boomers, which you think others, like you, would want to know the answers? Please email your questions to me at Anna@AnnaBanks.com.

Categories : Small Business
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Anna D. Banks, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

By Anna D. Banks, GCDF

Whether you want to start a small business, while you are still working in order to make a little extra income, and as a sort of retirement plan; or you want to get into the business after you have retired, there are many business ideas for baby boomers operating on a shoe string budget. You can actually start up one of many businesses quite inexpensively and all of them may have the potential to become much larger money spinning enterprises.

Put up a web site and the money will start coming in. Remember that it won’t happen immediately. However, it is not a very difficult undertaking. Just pick a subject that you are well versed with, register a domain name, and create your web site. Make sure it looks good and that you are able to give the users useful content. The money comes from appropriate affiliate programs and ads. In order to maximize your revenues, learn how to achieve search engine optimization and market and promote your site well. Set aside a fixed time every single week to update the content on your site, make sure your keep up the maintenance and delete links that no longer work. If you choose the right topics you can easily make a decent income from this. The only real costs are the money you pay to register the domain and for web hosting.

• Become a consultant.
It is relatively easy to get into. All of us have at least one thing that we are experts at, something we know in more detail than many others. Experience or talent can usually provide at least one sphere that we can teach people or work for them. Make a list of all your business and social contacts and give them a call, network, ask for references. Your only expenses would be business cards, with the price of some coffee for networking.

• Become a house-sitter or a stay at home pet-sitter.
People now have a greater need for all kind of security, and that’s where house-sitting comes in. It provides reassurance to homeowners while they are away. Becoming a house-sitter requires no special skills. All you have to do is prove that people can trust you, that you are reliable. Get personal references and make them available to prospective clients. Make sure you have transportation. If you get along with animals, pet-sitting can be an add-on service that you provide. Alternatively take in pets and take care of them while owners are away. Expenses are the cost of putting up flyers on bulletin boards, and placing classifieds in local newspapers.

•Tutor Students.

With a growing dissatisfaction of students and parents with the current system of education, there is a sharp growth in the number of kids being home-schooled. If you are strong in a subject that you can teach students, contact your local schools, and home-school groups, and talk to them about tutoring.

• Try your hand at desktop publishing.
Most people own a computer but have no idea how to make a decent presentation. With a good sense of design, and some familiarity with your computer and word processor, all you need is a good quality printer to venture into desktop publishing. Your total expense would be high quality paper for samples of your portfolio.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF

ANNA D. BANKS, GCDF is an adjunct professor at Essex County College, career development and marketing coach, speaker, and author. Anna helps individuals design a game plan for an extraordinary career or business. Since 1996, Anna has helped hundreds of job-seekers, managers, business owners, and sales professionals achieve career success. For more information send an email to Anna@AnnaBanks.com.
_______________

Author’s Note:
Do you have any questions about career development or lifestyle changes for Baby Boomers, which you think others, like you, would want to know the answers? Please post a comment or email your questions to me at Anna@AnnaBanks.com.

by Anna D. Banks, GCDF


The retired life

The baby boomers are those who were born in the mid 1940s to the mid 1950s and are now retired and living the cozy life. But is it cozy? If you were to ask any one of these retired individual how they are enjoying being retired, you would get a response saying they enjoyed it initially but now they are bored, with lots of free time and nothing to do. Adjusting to a retired life can be difficult for some, especially those who are used to being active and working. How much golf and sailing can one person do any way?

One of the biggest disadvantages of being retired is the fact that there is a problem of money. You are retired and do not have a monthly income coming in, so playing golf, sailing or just going shopping may not be an option to those who have money constraints.

Pick a hobby

Every single person, man, woman, teenager or child has a hobby. Something they enjoy doing when they have free time. It could be reading, singing, swimming, dancing, painting, gardening, shopping, and decorating…. the list is endless. Hobbies help people relax and distress. When we get involved in our hobby we forget all our troubles and worries.

Each one of us is talented and enthusiastic about our hobby. Wouldn’t it be great if our hobby could help us make money? This is what most of the baby boomers are doing. They are converting their hobby into money making ventures. But do not confuse this with a quick money making scheme, because it is not that simple. It involves hard work and dedication.

Make your hobby work for you

Once you have decided that you are going to use your hobby to make money and get an extra income, then comes the time to make your hobby work for you. Before you start with earning money through your hobby, you have to evaluate whether or not your hobby is marketable. You need a hobby that is marketable or you need to think of a way to make your hobby into a marketable resource.

If you enjoy collecting books, open up a small library with a monthly subscription. If you are a woman who enjoys shopping and is aware of the latest styles and trends then become a personal shopper for those who need it. If gardening is your forte then write a book on gardening or create a website that generates money on gardening. If you like writing, then work with a magazine or a local newspaper.

If you love kids, open up a crèche at home or start teaching or helping out at the local kindergarten. If you enjoy cooking, start a small catering business or work with a restaurant. If you are poetic, then get in touch with a greeting card company and help create the copy for greeting cards. If photography is your passion, make that work for you. If you are interested in tarot cards, then become a tarot card reader. There are so many options and so many avenues open for you.

© 2008 Anna D. Banks, GCDF
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Author’s Note:
Do you have any questions about career development or lifestyle changes for Baby Boomers, which you think others, like you, would want to know the answers? Email your questions to me at Anna@AnnaBanks.com.

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