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Monday, February 13, 2006

Work From Home and Set Your Own Hours.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

How To Make Money with Your Web Site Part 1

Tip #1 Building Your Audience


Often sites don't have enough traffic. Don't despair. There are some great services that actually make your site better that you can just plug-in and many are "ad free". Here's one of the 5 of the free tools/content resources we strongly recommend. Check out the our Audience page for more information.

1. Free Daily News Headlines

Check out other ideas on the Building Your Audience page.

Buying Banner, Text Ads and Search Results Listing

Are you the owner of a business site? Trying to buy ads, set up an affiliate program or search pay per clicks? Visit our Guide to Buying Banner Ads - Pay-Per-Click -Affiliate Programs

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Getting Money to Grow !

You may have used personal savings or money borrowed from friends and family to get started, but where do you go when it's time to grow your business? If you've been in business for less than three years or have nothing to offer as collateral, you might find traditional lending institutions unwilling to finance your business. There are options, though--if you know where to look.

Going back to those same friends and family--but making it a formal loan with a set repayment plan and interest--might be a viable option, if you haven't already gone this route. For instance, an institution like CircleLending--which administers loans between individuals by handling and storing all the documentation, creating a repayment schedule, taking care of payments through debits and direct deposits, and even handling collections if the loans go into default--can make things easier for both you and your loved ones.

"There's this huge volume of loans between individuals in this country, and there really is no third party to reduce the high rates of default which typically occur in these loans," says Asheesh Advani, president and CEO of CircleLending, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Advani, $65 billion a year is transacted between family and friends in the form of loans. In addition, 14 percent of the total amount of money raised by businesses comes from friends and family.

While borrowing from friends and family may be an alternative, however, what if your need exceeds what you can borrow from them? When Paul Entin founded his previous business, Fitnesslink.com, the company grew rapidly, and he knew he needed to seek outside funding to bolster the technology he was using to run the site. Unwilling to give up control of his company to a venture capitalist--he'd been approached several times--he instead got a microloan from an SBA-backed lender. The infusion of funds allowed Entin to beef up the technology in his business, which he subsequently sold.

So when it came time to find funding for his current business--epr, a Washington, New Jersey, marketing and advertising firm specializing in industrial clients--he knew exactly where to look. "We had talked to our bank and investigated other ways, like home equity loans, but this seemed like the most effective way to go. It was a fair interest rate, plus they were able to give us the loan without having a [drawn-out] process upfront," says Entin, who invested the $27,000 from his second loan into office equipment and materials.

And although Entin doesn't plan on adding employees--he outsources a lot of graphic design to a network of freelance professionals--or moving out of his home office anytime soon, any future expansions in the business will likely be funded by microloans.

If you lack funds on a short-term basis, think about creative forms of financing, such as pre-selling. "We teach [our students] to use a customer as the basis of funding," notes Professor Ken Proudfoot, director of the Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. "And the way that works is by pre-selling the product or service--taking a deposit for the delivery of the product or service in advance of actually delivering it," says Proudfoot. You can then use the deposit to purchase the materials you may need to deliver the product at a later date.

Another method of obtaining financing for supplies or materials is to approach vendors of those products about opening a line of credit with them. With flexible terms of payment, you can stock your inventory or buy raw materials for your product without having to put the cash upfront.

Now before you go out and borrow from anyone, make sure you have a bona fide need. Money won't solve problems in your business, warns Proudfoot, and you shouldn't expand your capacity without first ensuring you have the customer base to justify the expansion.

Sam Walton: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Business


Sam Walton grew up poor during the Great Depression, yet rose to start the biggest retail store Wal-Mart. In Sam Walton's "Running a Successful Company: Ten Rules that Worked for Me," learn Walton's winning formula for business.

Excerpted from "The Book of Business Wisdom"
Edited by Peter Krass

The Reality of Working From Home

Time to challenge some conventional wisdom about working from your home. Some home office experts talk about the need to keep your work life and home life strictly separate. You are told that you shouldn't get distracted by chores that need to be done around the house, and that you should tell your family that between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., you cannot be interrupted.

According to these folks, when the septic system is backed up, you should tell your working spouse you are too busy preparing for next week's important client meeting to baby-sit the plumbers. Who are they kidding? The reality of the home office is that you must be available to do at least some household and personal stuff during "normal" business hours.

And not just to keep your spouse or domestic partner happy. "One of the main reasons people want to work from home is to get more control over their personal lives," says Patrick Gilligan, a Michigan-based radio and TV personality and author of Patrick Gilligan Says Be Your Own Boss. "The beauty of a home office is that you can go to the gym in the middle of the week when there are no lines for the Stairmasters; you can get your nails done on Tuesdays; you can be there for the furniture delivery guys who say they'll come to your house 'sometime between noon and 5 p.m.'"

The problem is that household chores (referred to as "honey do's" in the home office literature, even though you are doing them without any prompting from your "honey") have a way of becoming "time vampires," eating up so much of your day that your office work ends up being done evenings and weekends. How to manage your time, get everything done and still have a life?

The first step, according to Gilligan, is to cut down personal chores to an absolute minimum. "If you plan to receive a lot of registered mail or UPS deliveries in your business, get a MailBoxes Etc. account, and have everything go there. Otherwise, you will be running to the door to sign receipts every 10 minutes, to say nothing of the daily trip to your Post Office to pick up the stuff you weren't around to sign for," says Gilligan. "If the lawn is starting to look a little too much like a Nebraska wheat field in July, budget your mowing and showering time into your daily planner the same way you would a work assignment. If there are after-school programs that can keep your kids safely out of the house between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., sign 'em up." Know what your time is worth, on an hourly or daily basis, and ask "Should someone who charges $XXX an hour really be doing this?" If someone can do the job for a fraction of what you charge for your services, hire them.

Next, according to Gilligan, you've got to get really good at multitasking. "Right now, I'm doing this interview with you. I am also responding to e-mails, doing a load of laundry down in the basement and taping two TV shows."

The final step is to negotiate chore time with your family. Ask your spouse or domestic partner "I'm going to the bank this afternoon--do you need anything in that part of town?" or "I may have some down time Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon this week--is there anything I can do for you?" By letting them know the amount of time you have available on given days, you give them the opportunity to pick and choose the things they really need you to do. Don't say "I've only got time to do one household thing today"; it sounds like you think your time is more important than theirs.

One more thing: You should do one thing each day around the house to let your spouse or domestic partner know you love them. Just a small thing--like cleaning out the coffeemaker, setting the dinner table, brushing snow from the birdhouse or picking a beer can out of the gutter. Don't tell your spouse or domestic partner you did it; let them discover it on their own. Nothing says "thank you for supporting my independent lifestyle; I'm doing this for both of us" better, or more effectively.


Cliff Ennico is host of the PBS television series MoneyHunt and a leading expert on managing growing companies. His advice for small businesses regularly appears on the "Protecting Your Business" channel on the Small Business Television Network at www.sbtv.com. E-mail him at cennico@legalcareer.com.

Home Court Advantage


If you've ever thought homebased entrepreneurs were part-time hobbyists with lightweight incomes, or that young entrepreneurs were slackers unaccustomed to big-time responsibility, you're in for an eye-opener. These seven entrepreneurs all started their multimillion-dollar businesses at home when they were under the age of 40. Whether they're working with Fortune 100 companies or getting their products placed on the pages of InStyle, these business owners are living proof that you don't have to operate out of an impressive storefront or be Donald Trump's age to make it in the big leagues.

Marissa Shipman, 31

Company name: Shipman Associates
Location: San Francisco
2004 sales: $2 million
Description: Manufacturer of TheBalm line of cosmetics

Kitchen concoction: This TV-industry veteran didn't know anything about cosmetics when she decided to start creating her own line of lip balm in her kitchen. But after meeting a woman in the cosmetics industry who was completely passionate about her job, Shipman's spark was lit. She concocted lip-plumping glosses with names like Berry My Treasure and Pepper My Mint in 2000 and started pitching her product to stores in 2001.

Big names: It wasn't connections that got her foot in the door, notes Shipman: "When I started, I didn't know anybody in the cosmetics industry." It was good, old-fashioned pavement pounding that got her into major stores like Fred Segal, Henri Bendel and Sephora. Moreover, when stars like Cher purchased the product and TheBalm got a mention in InStyle magazine in 2001 and Cosmopolitan magazine this year, Shipman's place in the fashion and beauty lexicon was cemented.

Homegrown: "I love working from home," says Shipman, who is still homebased. But her home has had to change a few times as her business skyrocketed. "I started getting all these black-and-blue marks" from running into all the boxes in her one-bedroom apartment, she says. At press time, she'd outgrown three apartments and was looking for a new home base for herself and her nine employees.

A family affair: Shipman has even recruited her family to help run the company-though they're all the way across the country. Both her dad, in Greenwich, Connecticut, and her sister in Philadelphia work out of their homes to help build TheBalm brand. Says Shipman, "We're calling and e-mailing constantly."

A call to action: Loving her business as she does, Shipman is full of encouragement for other entrepreneurs. "People always have these great ideas, but they don't do [anything] with them," she says. "If you have something you think could work, do it on a small scale and see."--Nichole L. Torres

Joe Bushey, 30

Company name: POS World Inc.
Location: Atlanta
Estimated 2004 sales: $10.8 million
Description: Point-of-sale online retailer

You've got mail: This IT manager for a concessions management company loved working in the POS field, but was so burnt out by the intense work hours that his doctor recommended a career change. One day, while reading a catalog with reseller pricing for receipt printers, cash drawers, bar-code scanners and other POS items, Bushey realized that not only was the markup outrageous, but also that there was nowhere to purchase POS hardware online. His vision: to create an online marketplace offering fair pricing on these items to the end user. "I wanted to be the Dell of POS," says Bushey.

Home economics: "I didn't have a dime to spare," says Bushey, who continued at his full-time job while starting POS World in 1999 in his off time at home. "It was a virtually no-cost startup." Early on, he focused on establishing vendor relationships and developing a website. His brother Jim moved into his apartment to handle website maintenance.

Image-conscious: One investment--a high-end Nortel phone system with voice mail--presented a professional image to callers, even though Bushey was handling calls for every department. It seemed to work--in 2001, when the Los Alamos National Laboratory's hard drives containing sensitive material went missing, they contacted POS World for recommendations on item-tracking technology. "I realized then we really had a presence," says Bushey, who moved to an office and hired his first nonfamily employees in 2000.

Big business: Most customers do business through POSWorld.com, but they can also visit the office or call in. Customers include many Fortune 100 companies, the Federal Reserve Board, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. court system. POS World is expanding into auto ID, warehouse operations and the biomedical field, and will partner with Microsoft to sell retail-management software in combination with the company's hardware.--April Y. Pennington

Do You Have What It Takes to Work From Home?


1. Am I a jack-of-all-trades? Unlike working at a big corporation that has resources and specialists to send bills, fix computer problems and deal with problem employees, homebased business owners typically have to figure things out on their own. This means mastering the skills necessary to do your own bookkeeping, tech support and hiring/firing—or finding a competent bookkeeper, computer technician or HR service to help you. Even though there are now many outsourced services for small and homebased business owners, a solid grasp of QuickBooks, Microsoft Office and the Internet will make you more self-sufficient and cut down on professional services fees.

2. Am I comfortable setting my own schedule? If you're used to showing up at an office every morning, operating in an environment without set hours or an employer-imposed schedule can be a difficult adjustment. While everybody claims to want freedom, the truth is that most people are creatures of habit and routine. That's why it's a good idea to create some sort of schedule—even if it's artificial—to break up your day. For example, if you start your day at 9 a.m., you could spend the first hour checking your e-mail messages and making cold calls, then tackle two hours of work before lunch. After lunch, you could make another round of calls, then put in another four hours of work before signing off for the day. Generally, it's a good idea to work the same hours that your clients do.

3. Am I good at setting goals? Just like creating a schedule can help structure your time, setting goals can give you milestones to shoot for and tangible rewards for achieving them. For example, when I was a homebased freelance writer, my first goal was to make as much as I'd been making at my old newspaper job. (Fortunately, that wasn't too difficult.) Then I started raising the bar by $1,000 per month. Before long, I had eight newspaper and magazine clients paying me a total of $8,000 per month. As a reward for my hard work and self-discipline, I would sometimes sneak off to see a movie in the middle of the day—the ultimate writer's holiday!

4. Am I easily distracted? Some of the biggest challenges of working from home are the constant distractions. While there may be fewer meetings and less workplace gossip, there will be plenty of other things that compete for your attention, from kids and pets to housework, television and, of course, the refrigerator. It's a good idea to set up your home office in a room with a door to keep intrusions to a minimum.

5. Am I able to call it quits at the end of the day? No matter how much work still needs to get done, it's important to be able to call an end to your day. Even if you go back to the computer after dinner to check your e-mail or do some writing, it's important to set aside some time for your family and yourself. Unfortunately, many people who start working from home discover an inner workaholic they never knew was there. While you may need to put in extra hours initially to get your business off the ground, it's also important to strike a balance between your work and family responsibilities.