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Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?​

Should I Start My Own Business During Retirement?

Retirement doesn’t always mean not working. Sometimes, it means pursuing entrepreneurship

  • Retirement provides the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship. Starting a business after retirement gives you a chance to pursue your passions.
  • Evaluate your skills and your willingness to commit time and energy to a new business. Create a business plan to shape what you want your business to look like.
  • Remember to have an exit strategy in place. If you’ve already worked in a profession for years, you don’t want to become stuck in a new business venture indefinitely.

When you think about retirement, you might picture weekdays on the beach with a tall drink, thriving off your 401(k) savings. But today, for many, retirement doesn’t promise much-rewarded time off. In fact, it often means more free time to pursue other types of employment, from freelance work to part-time gigs. Some workers even choose to follow entrepreneurial dreams.

“Starting a business in retirement is becoming a popular next chapter as many pre-retirees or retirees reexamine what they want to do with their lives,” said Kristen Edens, content and brand developer.

Jane Emery of the Business.com community asked: “Is starting a new business a good plan during retirement?” We outlined some ways to determine if you’re in the right position to do so, and how to approach the endeavor.

 

Ask yourself the right questions

Starting a business at any time in your life requires hard work, time, and resources. To ensure you’re ready for that type of responsibility, Edens recommended asking yourself these questions, and answering them honestly:

What skills, knowledge, and interests do you have to build a business?

Who would your intended audience be?

How do your talents fit with what’s needed for your audience?

How much time, money and energy do you have to dedicate to this business?

What resources are available to help you build your business?

“Following the introspective questions, determine what’s needed to move your plan forward,” said Edens.

Reasons to start a business in retirement

One of the main reasons to start a business in retirement is to curb boredom. Many people don’t look forward to staying home. In addition, you may not feel ready to retire if you’re in a profession with young average retirement age, such as police officers or firefighters. Plus, if you’re collecting retirement funds and don’t need to rely on any business revenue, you’re at reduced financial risk when starting a new company. Retirement businesses are also the perfect opportunity to pursue any passion projects. Maybe you worked in finance for years and are looking forward to launching a business related to a hobby, such as cooking or photography.

According to the legal advice website Nolo, prospective business owners who are looking to launch post-retirement should create a chart to evaluate potential business ideas. The chart should demonstrate that your business idea matches your goals, work style, and current skill set.

Know the risks

There’s always a risk when creating a business from the ground up, and some might seem too severe to follow through with your plan. Weigh the possibilities to determine the best course of action.

“Starting a business in retirement is not a risk-free endeavor,” said Wendy Ann Payne, CSA, CEP, founding partner of Centurion Wealth Management LLC. “Be certain that your business structure protects your personal assets. If your business venture does not work out the way you intended, you certainly don’t want to lose your personal savings and assets.”

You don’t necessarily have to go all-in for your business. If you aren’t sure your idea will take off, proceed with caution and go part-time until you’re more confident in your plan.

“Possible risks are based on an individual’s time, money, and energy,” said Eden. “There is give-and-take at all levels, and the risk is how much is one willing to dedicate to their business.”

Consider your finances

According to Payne, you should be mindful of startup costs and ongoing expenses. Will your business require a physical location? Will you need a substantial amount to launch your brand, or can you do so without breaking the bank? Calculate all possible costs, then map out your financial plan from there.

If you’re in good shape to retire, then you likely have hefty retirement savings. And while you might be tempted to dig into your 401(k) to fund your business, you shouldn’t blow it all in one place.

“Many people will cover their business expenses with distributions from their 401(k) or IRA,” said Nathan Garcia, CFP(r) and retirement planning specialist at Strategic Wealth Partners. “Most of the time, these distributions are taxable as ordinary income. Large distributions can cause higher tax bills, thus reducing your capital base.”

Garcia advised outlining your personal expenses before withdrawing money to limit taxes and extend your savings.

“Most businesses will require 18 to 36 months to develop positive cash flow,” he added. “During this time, you should understand how much expenses will be and how they will be paid. It’s critical to know your personal expenses first than to layer your business expenses on top.”

“Be careful when borrowing funds for business purposes,” added Payne. “If you obtain personal loans, use your personal line of credit, and/or personally guarantee business debt, it is vital to know that you are personally on the hook for repayment of that business debt. If you voluntarily close the business, or things don’t go as planned and the business fails, you are still personally liable.”

Have an exit strategy

Payne stated that you should plan your business down to the exit strategy. Figure out what would happen when you want to stop working for good, i.e., selling the business, passing it along to someone else, shutting it down permanently, etc.

“Once you become a business owner, it is extremely important to have a written succession plan,” she said. “This is especially true for aging business owners.”

You can settle this from the start by choosing an ownership structure that compliments your intentions. Because you’re starting your business later in life, you might want to choose a structure that allows you to involve family, like your children, Garcia said. That way, if you plan to eventually pass down ownership, you can consider co-owning with that person to ease the process.

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5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

5 key elements for managing your after-sales service

The service you provide to your customers reflects on your company. As the central pillar for ensuring a productive future, the after-sales service also has a great deal of impact on customer loyalty, whose expectations are becoming increasingly high. 

It is a major part of business, and will allow you to build close relationships with your customers, who will then be more inclined to trust you. A customer who has a satisfactory after-sales service experience is more likely to come back, to relive their positive buying experience.

Because quality customer service is a source of income, referrals and continuous improvement, this article contains 5 key elements to help you effectively manage your after-sales service!

1. Get to know your customers and listen to them

Customers can be a great cause for concern. It is your duty to get to know them, in order to be able to fully satisfy their needs. In other words, your strategy, and your after-sales service, must be customer-centric.

In order to get acquainted with your customers, there should be no secrets: get in direct contact with your customers using satisfaction surveys. Your customers are a valuable resource for relevant and interesting feedback. They will provide you with valuable indicators for enhancing those services with which they are most satisfied, and highlight those that need to be reviewed. 

Also, pay close attention to customer reviews. Showcase the most positive reviews, and respond pro-actively to the negative ones. They allow you to keep track of customers’ changing needs, and to improve the results of your after-sales service. Another significant advantage: they can have a positive impact on your ranking on search engines! You can turn to SEO experts to help you optimize your SEO strategy.

Knowing your customers also means listening to them and paying particular attention to any problems they encounter. After-purchase difficulties vary greatly from one customer to another. Nevertheless, the aim remains the same, regardless of the type of problem. 

Generally speaking, if your customers contact your after-sales service, it is to report a possible problem-or to obtain further information about a product. Pinpoint it quickly and process it as soon as possible. Make sure you fully understand your client’s problem by reiterating it to avoid any misunderstanding. 

2. Expand your communication channels to benefit your customers

You cannot simply offer your customers a single means of contact. You must expand the communication media for your customer service. It is essential to allow the customer to choose the channel which seems the fastest and most appropriate for their request. Your level of responsiveness ought to be the same for each channel of communication.

Don’t limit your means of contact to the phone; many customers are becoming more and more reluctant to call (waiting times, potential call cost, hotline opening times, etc.).

It is important to ensure that your advisers proficient in these different communication media. The codes on these platforms differ: a customer is not addressed in the same way when making a phone call or an e-mail, for example. 

3. Facilitate the internal flow of information and establish a CRM solution

The effectiveness of a quality after-sales service also depends on impeccable internal communication. It is important to internally manage the flow of information and listen to your advisers’ suggestions, as they are in direct contact with clients. Adopt a transversal way of working to facilitate communication, enabling your after-sales service staff to quickly share the feedback received from customer interactions. 

Facilitating the internal circulation of information also means implementing an effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. It will allow you to centralize customer requests and allocate resources according to priorities. Task automation frees up valuable time for your advisers: no longer will they have to deal with time-consuming or repetitive tasks, and will be able to focus on important, strategic tasks. A CRM solution promotes better collaboration between different departments and increases responsiveness!

4. Be able to anticipate and know how to deal with conflicts

Handling delicate and conflictual situations during an interaction is not easy. Knowing how to manage these situations in the best possible way is a real asset for your after-sales service.

Your advisers have to deal with numerous problems which can be more or less urgent, and very stressful. You have to be able to control your emotions and keep your cool. 

Clients should be encouraged to express their views, and then you can try to find a quick solution. Never get into an argument with your customer; this could seriously damage your reputation and insult the customer.

This will lead to customer dissatisfaction. An attentive and empathetic approach will help to calm your customers and find a suitable solution.

5. Set up FAQs

Most consumers wish to solve their problems on their own. Contacting an after-sales service by telephone or any other communication medium is a constraint for your customers. This could put customers and potential customers off.

Setting up an FAQ section proves that you are professionally managing your business and that you pay particular attention to your customers’ questions. The answers must be clear, detailed, and satisfy your customers. The advantage of FAQs is that they are available 24 hours a day and your advisers are left to focus on requests which require more time and involvement. 

Conclusion

The after-sales service, which reflects your image and professionalism, demonstrates your ability to handle your customers’ problems and to solve them. It is your duty to do everything possible to satisfy your customers, regardless of the situation. Therefore, the management of your after-sales service must be fluid, organized, and optimal!

 

Content By: Yves Attias Read More Here

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Small Business Finance Tips

Small Business Finance Tips

Managing your company’s finances can be challenging, especially when you have so many other core business processes and activities to deal with. However, poor finance management can have serious consequences on your business and lead to overspending and issues with cash flow. For that reason, all business owners must develop the skills needed to manage their finances efficiently. Here are some useful small business finance tips to help you run a successful business.

Invest in accounting software

If you want to manage your business finances efficiently, then you must monitor your spending regularly and keep on top of your monthly cash flow. One of the simplest ways to manage your business finances is by installing accounting software. According to financeonline.com, some of the major benefits of accounting software include fast and efficient data entry, detailed financial reports, increased accuracy, and automatic record-keeping. 

Having your accounting processes automated will give you additional time to focus on key business activities that will aid growth and profits. There is a great selection of free accounting software available to download online, or you can opt for paid systems that offer premium services and extras. 

Reduce business costs 

Reducing business costs is one of the easiest ways to increase profits within your company. You should review your spending regularly and try to identify any ways to cut business expenses. Here are some ideas to help you minimize spending in the workplace: 

  • Negotiate lower rates with suppliers and vendors. 
  • Move to a smaller, less expensive business site. 
  • Search for a cheaper energy provider on business utilities comparison websites. 
  • Advertise your products using free or low-cost marketing techniques such as social media. 
  • Carry out energy-saving improvements to lower your monthly utility bills. This may involve adding extra insulation, installing eco-friendly appliances, or adding double glazing.

Create a cash flow budget 

Every business owner should have a cash flow budget in place to help them manage their finances efficiently. To create a realistic cash flow budget, you need to consider all expenses and financial obligations within your business, such as salaries, office rental fees, and loan repayments. You can then calculate your projected cash inflow and outflow to determine your ending cash balance. You must try to stick with your cash flow budget to avoid overspending or getting into debt. You can easily create a cash flow budget for your business by using a cash flow management tool online. 

Adopt good financial habits 

All business owners should make an effort to adopt good financial habits in the workplace. It may take some time to develop these skills, but it is well worth taking the time to learn how to become responsible with your spending, especially when it comes to your business. Some of the most important financial habits to adopt include creating clear financial goals for your business, monitoring expenses accurately, and avoiding overspending on your monthly budget. You can develop your financial management skills by completing online courses, reading financial blogs and websites, or seeking advice and guidance from a finance expert. 

Content By: Samuel Bavor Read More Here

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3 Tips for Converting Sales Online

3 Tips for Converting Sales Online

The traditional sales funnel was built to anticipate the customer’s purchase journey, from initial brand contact to the moment a sale is made. But marketing funnels aren’t simple, linear paths any longer.

As marketing expert Andrew Davis perfectly illustrates In a talk about meatloaf — both the entrée and the artist — the Internet makes it impossible to devise a one-size-fits-all customer journey. Struck with a craving for the dish, Davis Googled meatloaf recipes. Twenty minutes later, he was on Ticketmaster buying passes to a Meatloaf concert. Everyone who uses the Internet has a similar story of searching for one thing and ending up diving deep into a completely different topic.

Prospects don’t necessarily follow a linear purchase path, which is why brands need to reach them at multiple inspiration points. A solid content strategy is the most effective way to accomplish this goal. Publishing articles on a diverse range of topics enables companies to be there when customers need answers.

Advertising for today, not yesterday.

Although radio and TV once dominated the advertising space, companies that cling to these old strategies will suffer if they don’t provide younger consumers with valuable content online.

In the nearly five years since my company launched, we’ve grown to a substantial revenue point with only eight team members and zero paid media or outbound sales. We’ve focused on content since Day One, and that’s helped us build the industry and client relationships that have enabled our success.

Here are the three key practices we’ve discovered during this period of growth:

1. Offer a product that’s up to scratch.
All the great content in the world won’t mask a crappy platform or service. Insightful blog posts and articles intrigue people enough to give you a chance, so don’t break their trust with a lackluster product or nonexistent customer support. 

2. Staff up appropriately.
A content-driven marketing funnel requires a team of writers, social media and SEO experts, designers, and technologists. Not all of these roles must be filled in-house, and there are agencies that can fill in the gaps. But companies that are serious about content marketing must constantly answer questions about whether an article provides value, which topics resonate with the target audience, and how best to capture email addresses and nurture leads. It takes a top-notch team to execute all of the above consistently.

3. Partner with passionate thought leaders.
There’s a difference between customers and advocates, and you want to cultivate the latter. My company’s best leads are referred from top clients who rave on social media or write their own blog posts about their experiences with our product. They share their success stories and link their contacts to us, and suddenly we have a new crop of qualified prospects. Our high-profile clients are hugely important in driving referral traffic because when they say a company is good, a lot of people listen.

There’s no magic number for how many blog posts convert a customer, so companies need to look at what questions their prospects want to be answered. River Pools, a fiberglass pool company based in Virginia, rebounded from a difficult quarter by blogging around every question the company ever received. Nothing was off-limits, and co-owner Marcus Sheridan said he tracked $1.7 million in sales to a single popular article. That’s not to say every brand needs to adopt the same strategy, but it goes to show that anticipating customers’ needs impacts your sales.

Articles that respond to customers’ needs and questions humanize the brand, developing trust between prospects and companies. Although the customer journey changes with the technology of the day, good content should always be a cornerstone of the marketing funnel.

Content By: Brody Dorland Read More Here

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4 Effective Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media

4 Effective Ways to Generate Leads with Social Media

These four strategies will help you overcome the challenge of generating quality leads.

Now that you have established your business, the next step is to expand it. And for that, you need to generate leads. However, you don’t want to generate just any leads. You want to attract people who are relevant and likely to convert. But that’s easier said than done. Generating leads is the top marketing challenge, according to 61 percent of marketers.

That said, channels like social media can help you overcome that challenge. There is a tremendous increase in the number of people using social media. By 2021, you can expect to see 3.02 billion people using it.

With those kinds of numbers, brands have realized the potential of social media. It is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage with your target audience.

This post will talk about four of the most effective ways to generate quality leads with social media.

1. Use custom hashtags.
Use personalized and brand-specific hashtags in your posts to stand out from your competitors. This will help you increase brand awareness and generate high-quality leads.

However, you need to make sure that you add hashtags only when it’s relevant and applicable. And try not to add too many hashtags to your posts just for the sake of adding them. Hashtags need to be precise and targeted.

You should create a mix of unique yet simple hashtags for your brand. Make sure that it’s not too long or too simple. This will help your potential customers discover you and your posts easily. And don’t forget to encourage your existing customers to use those hashtags for even better visibility.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s hashtag campaign to generate quality leads was one of the most successful campaigns. In 2017, the brand wanted to promote its personalized Coke bottles and boost sales. So, they came up with the #ShareACoke hashtag on their social media posts.

The hashtag campaign went viral, and it resulted in increased sales of personalized Coke bottles. The brand even launched a website just to take orders for personalized Coke bottles from consumers. Like Coca-Cola, perhaps you can create and run unique hashtag campaigns for your brand on social media to generate leads.

2. Organize contests.
Organizing contests on social media platforms is another effective way of generating leads for your brand. When done correctly, it will help you get the attention of your target audience. Contests are one of the best ways to excite your audience since you’re giving them a chance to win prizes.

If the prize includes your products, it’s a great way to give them a taste of what you’re offering so they will come back for more. You can either organize a contest related to your brand or collaborate with influencers and ask them to run contests on your behalf. Influencers can help you expand your reach and engage with a highly relevant audience.

However, there are a few important things to consider when organizing contests on social media. Always use simple and clear language to write the rules and instructions, and don’t forget to mention the criteria to win the contest. If you’re going to randomly select a winner using software or an app, mention that beforehand. This will avoid any confusion among your contest participants.

3. Host live videos.
Live videos are a fairly new feature on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. But regardless of their age, they have made it much easier for brands to engage their audience and generate leads. This is mainly because videos are simple and fun to watch, and everyone can understand them easily.

In fact, 80 percent of people on social media prefer to watch a video instead of reading a post. Using videos, you can easily establish a connection with your target audience and get their attention. If your live video was compelling and engaging enough, your target audience will remember you for a longer time. This means you’ll be generating leads.

You can use live videos to communicate your brand’s value and emotions so your target audience can relate to you. And it will give them the chance to communicate with you by commenting.

It’s common for brands to host a Q&A session through live videos so their target audience can ask important questions about the brand and products. This is a highly effective way to generate more leads, as the audience will have their doubts answered and get more assurance to buy the product.

You could also leverage live videos to talk about your new product and pitch it to your target audience.

4. Offer flash sales and discount codes.
No one can resist a discount or flash sale on their favorite products or services. So you can leverage them to generate high-quality leads. This also helps you raise brand awareness, as people are likely to share the news with their friends.

Create a sense of urgency when you organize flash sales by clearly mentioning the deadline and using a timer to count down to the hour. Don’t forget to use attractive templates to write a strong call to action to make it even more effective.

Promoting your discounts on social media platforms is a cost-effective tactic to get the attention of your audience. This will help you generate more quality leads through the channel.

You can also collaborate with bloggers and micro-influencers on social media who are looking for affiliate marketing opportunities. This strategy can also help you boost engagement with your target audience on social media. This will likely result in building a strong community of people who are followers and fans of your brand.

Final thoughts
Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to generate quality leads, but this is a challenge for most marketers. These four tactics can help you generate quality leads using social media channels. Organize contests or promote attractive discounts to get the attention of your target audience and generate leads. You can also use hashtags specific to your brand and host live videos to engage with your audience.

Content By: Shane Barker Read More Here

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How To Handle Your Business Finances When You’re Not Profitable Yet

How To Handle Your Business Finances When You’re Not Profitable Yet

Despite all the hype online, according to SmallBusinessTrends.com, only 40% of small businesses today are profitable (i.e., they have money left over after they’ve paid expenses).  When you add gender to the mix, the numbers get even more real. Only 25% of women entrepreneurs earn more than $50,000/year.  Of that number, only 12% make $100,000 or more. These stats are enough to make any entrepreneur wonder why they keep showing up to run their business every day.

There are many, many benefits to running your own business besides money. (I talk about a few of those reasons here.)  But the truth is that most entrepreneurs continue to move forward despite their lack of revenue on the hope that they will turn a profit in the future. 

Even though we (entrepreneurs) may not be generating profits in our businesses today, we wholeheartedly that we will make the money of our dreams in the future if we just keep going.   I mean, isn’t that what this Instagram photo tells us?

Entrepreneurs aren’t completely mad for having the belief that their hard work will lead to revenue, profits, and debt-free living in the future. In the past 11 years, the number of women-led businesses generating $1 million or more increased by 46%.  That’s a lot of women making a lot more money than they used to. Moreover, every How I Built This podcast episode starts with an entrepreneur explaining how they either started without any money or figured out a way to stay afloat when they ran out of money.  The bottom line is they kept going and built something great.  

So what do you do when you are in between being totally out of money and making the money of your dreams like the majority of entrepreneurs?  If this is where you are, here are some tips that can help. 

1. Realize You Are Not Alone
Even though every FB ad talks about how a business owner made 6 figures in 6 months, what they don’t talk about is the years of failure, unprofitability, and debt that came before that big revenue breakthrough. If you look hard enough, you’ll see that most of those entrepreneurs had businesses or platforms that didn’t work before they found something that did. So if that’s where you are, you are in good company. Remember, only 40% of small businesses are profitable. That means the other 60% is right in the trenches with you.

2. Simplify + Automate = Saving Money On Expenses
Sometimes it makes sense to outsource to a freelancer or to hire someone to get things done quickly. However, if you are strapped for cash, automation can do a lot for you at a much lower price.

Use Gmail for Business’ ($5-$10/month) filters and canned response features to archive message that aren’t important and quickly reply to those that are. Use IFTTT (free) or Zapier (free to $20)) to automate communication between your apps and software. And if you must bring in help, hire a virtual assistant on Fiverr for 5 bucks. Bottom line, if a task in your business can be automated, do it. Most of the time, these automation tools will give you the most bang for your buck.

3. Choose Business or Personal Loans over Credit Cards
If you need an injection of cash, choose a business or personal loan over credit cards. Most loans have better interest rates and terms than any credit card out there.

4. Be Profitable First
Run, don’t walk, and read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I know you’re thinking, “But Toya, I don’t have any profits yet.” That doesn’t matter. The Profit First system will ensure that you have profits even when you think you don’t.

With Profit First, the equation isn’t revenue – expenses = profit, it’s revenue – profit = expenses. You pay yourself first and then use anything left over to pay your bills. This seems like a small shift, but it’s a complete game changer. Paying yourself first now, even when it feels like you don’t have any money, will go a long way toward making you the profitable entrepreneur you always wanted to be down the road.

Content By: Legally Bold |  Read More Here

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6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

6 Tips To Finding And Hiring Freelancers For Your Small Business

If you’re a micropreneur like me, you might have stumbled upon a little secret that helps you do more in your business: freelancers. When you run a business, you may not need (or be able to afford) a full-time staff, and that’s where hiring outside help is such a boon. You only pay the freelancer for the services they offer or the time they work, and it’s usually an affordable way to service more customers and offer more to them.

I’ve been working with freelance writers, editors, and designers for about 10 years, and, as a result, I’ve been able to grow my content marketing firm much faster than I could have if I had handled all projects on my own. I’ve worked with highly skilled freelancers—and some not-so-professional ones—so I want to share some tips to help you ensure that you hire the best ones for your needs.

 

1. Determine what you need
For me, this starts with identifying projects I’m less than excited to work on. Maybe I don’t have knowledge in the client’s field or I’d rather spend time writing other types of content. Doing this helps me to identify the skills I will need from a freelancer. I’ll make a list of attributes I want this person to have and then put my feelers out.

2. Assess what you can pay
One of my pet peeves is people who try to hire freelancers for pennies. Yes, you can hire writers overseas who will write $5 articles, but we all know you get what you pay for. Sure, I like to save as much money as I can when hiring freelancers, but I have found there’s a balance between getting a reasonable price for a project and also getting professional results. You will need to find your own balance.

Even if you have a number in mind, if you find a writer who charges a little more, give them a test project to see how they do. It might be worth it to increase your budget if they do a great job. And don’t be shy about negotiating. If you have lots of work, a freelancer may be willing to reduce their rate for the assurance of steady work.

3. Sniff around your network
Before you post a job online, see what your network turns up. Start with people you know in your industry and see if they have recommendations for freelancers they’ve done business with. You can also ask around at business networking groups you participate in or even ask your clients. If you already work with freelancers, you can ask them if they know people they can refer.

If doing this doesn’t net results, go to social media. Tweet or post a brief description of what you’re looking for and ask people to direct message you if they have a referral or are interested in the work themselves. You’d be surprised how well this can help you find talent.


4. Post on job boards
Post on freelance job boards like Freelance Writing Jobs, ProBlogger, and Craigslist Gigs section. Freelancers don’t look on Monster and CareerBuilder for projects, so you need to go where they do.

Specify in the description how many hours a week or month you expect the project to take. You can either list what you’re willing to pay or ask people to include their rate in their cover letters. (The former may help you weed out people who charge more than you’re willing to pay.) Include any specific industry or creative experience you’re looking for and what the work will entail. The more detailed you are in the job description, the quicker you’ll find the right person.

5. Weed through the applicants
Fair warning: you’re going to get inundated with applications. You should be able to easily weed out those that are unqualified (yes, people who have none of the experience you require will still apply) to get to the applicants you want to consider.

There are a few ways you can proceed from here. Some people will conduct phone or video interviews to get to know freelancers—I’m not a big fan of that. I prefer hiring someone based on their work, so I will ask people to do a paid test assignment. I provide detailed instructions of what I’m looking for and give them a firm deadline. If a person misses the deadline (without a really good excuse) or doesn’t follow instructions, I probably won’t want to work with them.

And having a test assignment is great. You get something you need to be done completed without the commitment of having to work with this person long-term. If they are not a good fit, you simply pay them and move on to the next candidate.

6. Be picky
Sometimes you may feel like settling on a less-than-100% freelancer. If a project needs to get done by yesterday, it may seem easier to just deal with a freelancer’s quirks rather than to continue searching for a better person.

I’ll tell you from personal experience: those quirks tend to be magnified over time, and often at the worst possible moments. A freelancer who consistently turns work in late will do so when you are on a deadline with a client. A person who needs hand-holding will require extra attention when you have none to give.

Hold out for the perfect freelancer, even though it may take time. And you may need to hire more than one person to ensure you have different skillsets covered, but know that there are amazing freelancers out there if you’re willing to put in the time to look for them.

Content By: Susan Guillory |  Read More Here

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How to Work From Home Successfully

How to Work From Home Successfully

Whenever the idea of working from home comes to mind, it’s natural to fantasize yourself lounging around in pajamas, taking long lunches and embracing extended sleeping hours. Unfortunately, the reality for successful home workers is very different.

It’s important to realize that even though working from home offers some amount of flexibility, it is still a professional job and needs to be treated that way.

There is a fine line between home life and your work setting when you work from home. And when this line gets blurred, strategies for working from home efficiently go haywire. At that moment, your efforts become a journey without any destination.

If you take the plunge and decide to turn a little corner of your home into a work station, here are some proven tips for success learned by others who have managed this approach effectively.

Create a Routine & Try To Stick to It

The first secret weapon is to make a well-planned routine for each day so that you have equal time for work and daily household chores. When you will start working from home, you will fall prey to distractions.

Gradually, you will realize that only concentrated efforts will lead to success. Be consistent with your business hours to create a sense of stability and professionalism.

Focus on the Right Setup

If you have made up your mind to work from home, you should work to give yourself the feel of an office.

The area where you plan to work should be away from distractions and should have all the needed supplies and proper lighting.

Further, if you are running a business through your online project then you need to invest in the right equipment and software to get the job done.

Stay Focused & Don’t Mix Work and Home Duties

Your tangible work efforts will be in vain if you aren’t focused or get distracted easily.

Strive to minimize such obvious distractions as personal emails and social media, uninvited calls, noisy children, and answering the doorbell. Such distractions can suck the focus out of you and keep you from being as productive as you need to be to provide the service your company and/or clients expect.

Rendezvous With the Latest Technology

Working from home is all about taking up the task on your own and getting it down within a reasonable timeframe. Therefore, make sure that you stay abreast of the latest technological updates and breakthroughs as you may never know what software or hardware update you may need to succeed now and in the future.

Polish Your Communication Skills

Working remotely and getting your tasks done can be challenging as you will be interacting with clients and others via email and phone – not in person – and you’ll need to make sure you capture all communication between you thoroughly and effectively.

There will be instances when you might have to explain verbal or visual cues, and having good communication skills can help you do this in an efficient way.

Take Breaks and Relax

We all take breaks during the workday, and working from home should be no different. You may want to consider working in smaller spurts and allowing yourself to relax in between, which can be really refreshing and help you both physically and mentally. Getting up from your chair for a while at regular intervals can also help your eyes and spine relax.

Don’t fall into the trap of working non-stop without breaks just because you’re comfortable at home – you’ll burn out.

Content By: Vineeta Tiwari |  Read More Here

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55 Business Ideas

Need a Business Idea? Here Are 55.

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

1. ACCOUNTANT
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Create a flier outlining your services. Before you do that, you need to know what those services will be. Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for a small business? A more involved level of accounting would be to work up balance sheets, income statements, and other financial reports on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, depending on the needs of the business. Other specializations can include tax accounting, a huge area of potential work. 

2. BICYCLE REPAIR

In many parts of the country, this business tends to be seasonal, but you can find ways around that. Rent a storage unit and offer to store people’s bicycles over the winter after you do a tune-up and any needed repairs on them. If you want to cater to the Lance Armstrong wannabes, you can have business all year round. These road race riders are training through snow, sleet and dark of night. Some of them work on their own bicycles, but many of them don’t, so you can get their business all year. And if you keep Saturday shop hours, you can be sure you will have a group of enthusiasts coming by to talk all things cycling.

3. BOAT CLEANING
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Boats that are hauled out of the water for the winter or even just for mid-season repairs will need the hull cleaned. And depending on the type of boat, it is a good time to give a major cleaning everything else too–the decks, the sleeping quarters, the head, and the holds. Start by approaching homes that have a boat sitting in the yard. Or you could market your services to the marina to contract you to do the boat cleaning it offers to customers.

4. BUSINESS PLAN SERVICE
Has expansion possibilities

Offer a soup-to-nuts business plan, including market research, the business plan narrative and the financial statements. Plan your fee around the main one that the client will want and offer the others as add-on services. You can give clients an electronic file and allow them to take it from there, or you can keep the business plan on file and offer the service of tweaking it whenever necessary. Have business plan samples to show clients–and make sure to include your own!

5. RIDE-SHARING DRIVER

Getting paid to drive during your free time is a great way to make extra money. It won’t likely replace a full-time paycheck but can be a lucrative extra revenue stream. According to Nerd Wallet, here is a break down of the income you can expect: “To make an annual income of $50,000, the average Uber driver needs to provide 60.21 rides each week, while those working for Lyft need to give 83.76 rides a week, and Sidecar drivers would have had to provide 72.03 rides in a week.”

6. CLEANING SERVICE

There are many directions you can take this business. If you want to work during hours when no one else does, you can focus on office clients. You can focus on retail businesses and keep your customers clumped into one or two blocks. Restaurants are in great need of daily thorough cleaning and can be a great source of steady clients. Perhaps you would be more interested in house cleaning. Many times with cleaning services you don’t have to spend lots of money on advertising or marketing because your customers will come by word of mouth.

7. CHILDREN’S PARTY PLANNER

The children’s birthday party business is a multiple-million dollar industry, with the average American spending $500 per party. The book Start Your Own Kid-Focused Business tells you everything you need to know to get your own kid biz off the ground: from insurance costs to food and beverage selection to arranging unforgettable entertainment that gets lots of smiles and lots of referrals from happy customers.  

8. CONSULTANT
Has expansion possibilities

To be a consultant, you need to have expertise in something so you can market yourself as an advisor to others looking to work in that area. Perhaps you managed several large warehouses in your career with a drugstore company, you did all the marketing for many years for a large shoe manufacturer or you set up a chain of beauty supply shops or take-out restaurants. You can use this experience to help others do similar things without making the same mistakes that you made along the way. A good calendar app will likely come in handy as time tracking is crucial to accurate billing.

9. DOG WALKING

Experience, training, or licensing may be needed

Dog walkers take pooches out for their daily constitutional one or more times a day, either individually or in small groups. In some cities across the United States, like New York, dog walking alone can be a booming business. But it’s actually more common for dog walkers to offer additional services, including playing with and feeding pets, bringing in newspapers and mail, and turning lights on and off.

10. EBAY ASSISTANT

Do you have items lurking around your household that you could sell on eBay? Figure out your asking price and decide whether to auction it or put it in your eBay store. Then decide if you want a minimum bid and how long you want the auction to last. You will want to establish a PayPal account to use for transactions. The eBay website provides all the information you need to know to get up and running with an eBay business. Chatbots are offering creative new ways to help businesses with these functions.

11. EDITORIAL SERVICES

Has expansion possibilities

Here are some of the editorial services you can provide from the quiet of your own home:

  • Copyediting. This is where fact checking takes place, and where grammatical, stylistic and typographical errors are caught.
  • Proofreading. This is the last stop for a “finished” piece. The proofreader makes sure the copyediting changes have been properly made and no new errors are created in the process.
  • Indexing. There are indexing courses available and you can get indexing software.
  • Developmental editing. A developmental editor works with a manuscript on big-picture things like organization and content issues.
  • Book doctoring. This is an editorial service provided for manuscripts written by experts. They create a manuscript as best they can and then a book doctor puts it into publishable shape.
  • Ghostwriting. As a ghost writer, you actually do the research and write the book and someone else’s name is attached as the author.
  • Copywriting. Also known as business writing, this is writing that promotes a product or a service.
  • Book writing. Do you have expertise in something professional, such as accounting or interior decorating? Or personally, like knitting? Why not write a book about it?
  • Magazine article writing. Magazines and newspapers are a great way to get your writing published before tackling the daunting task of writing a whole book.
  • Web page content provider. Providing content for a web site is a good way to make some money writing.

12. ELECTRONICS REPAIR

Has expansion possibilities

This business is similar to the computer repair business, but you will take on all sorts of electronic equipment besides just computers. With smaller electronics, you will need to be prepared to have customers bring their repair projects to you, as you would have difficulty recovering the cost of driving around picking up broken equipment and returning it. You may also want to encourage people to give you their old electronics so you can use them for parts.

13. EVENT PLANNING
Has expansion possibilities

One of the first things you need to do is visit every potential event location with which you plan to work. Work with the marketing manager to tour each site and learn what is available at each location. Start a database that will allow you to sort venues by varying features, such as the number of people each site holds, AV equipment available on site, if you will need to arrange for rental chairs, etc. Then when you are beginning to plan an event with a client, you can find out what the key parameters are for the event and easily pull up the three or four sites that meet the basic criteria. and engagement parties, etc.

14. EXPERT WITNESS SERVICE

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

One way to make money in this field is by being an expert witness yourself. If you have expertise that could be useful in legal cases, you can market yourself to attorneys to act as an expert witness. Another way to be active in the expert witness field is to play a sort of matchmaker, matching attorneys up with expert witnesses for their cases–either for the defense or for the prosecution. Expert witnesses for big money cases can be expected to fly anywhere to testify. There’s no reason your database of witnesses can’t be from all parts of the country.

15. FINANCIAL PLANNER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

To start, you should go through the certification process so that you can label yourself a CFP (Certified Financial Planner). Your certificate shows that you have expertise and credibility, and this differentiation will help people choose you as their financial planner.

16. FLEA MARKET
Has expansion possibilities

People love to spend weekends rummaging through tables full of other people’s unwanted items, looking for treasures. Make sure to change your layout and put new stuff out for sale often. You want people to come back time and again to see what’s new. You don’t even have to have that much new stuff to make things look new. Just moving an item from a table to the top of a bookshelf might get it noticed, even though the item has been in your inventory since you first started having sales.

17. GOLF COACH

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Let the local public courses know about your coaching business. Cultivate relationships with the staff and encourage them to recommend you as a coach. Another place to look for customers is in the corporate world. Golfing is a game that business people use to develop relationships outside the office. You do need to be a better than average golfer to develop a reputation as a golf coach. You also need to be a good teacher, know how to be motivational and be willing to work with many different types of people.

18. HOME ENERGY AUDITOR
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

All homeowners are always on the lookout for ways to save on their utility bills. You can come to their aid by providing them with an audit of their house and giving them a breakdown of how they could accomplish real savings in heating, cooling and electrical use. You can go one step further and do the implementation and installation of some of your suggestions in their home yourself. Do a complete appliance audit, with efficiency ratings and calculations based on the age of the appliance. And don’t forget the water heater!

19. HOME INSPECTION
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

In order to be successful, you will want to establish contacts with real estate agents who can recommend your services to customers. The home inspection field is one where you will need to do constant updating of your education and knowledge. New products are constantly coming out on the market–if you only know about decks made of wood, you will not know how to inspect and assess the new materials on the market, such as composites that are made to look like real wood. Also keep apprised of all safety updates of materials and issues with things like off-gassing, carbon monoxide production, and other chemical precautions.

20. HOUSEHOLD ORGANIZER

Has expansion possibilities

You can choose either to do the organizing work or consult on the things that the homeowner could do to better organize themselves. Have a portfolio of different organizational scenarios in different rooms in the home and talk with the homeowner about the style he or she likes. Create checklists and questionnaires to understand how the family uses the home. Are the kids wildly busy with after-school activities? Or are they usually home after school and want access to their toys? Do they share rooms? All of these things will help you tailor an organizing plan and become a family’s hero.

21. IMPORT/EXPORT SPECIALIST
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you don’t already have work experience with importing and/or exporting, you will have a longer learning curve. You can start by learning the basics and hosting educational sessions to teach others what they need to know to get started in import/export. That alone would probably gain you your first couple of clients. If you keep going with educational seminars and expand your reach to outside your immediate region, you could probably develop a sufficient and ongoing customer base very quickly, but be careful not to outpace your learning curve!

22. INTERIOR DECORATOR

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Market your talents to building contractors. People purchasing new homes can often be overwhelmed with the choices and possibilities in home decorating. Design some questionnaires for each major element and each major room in the house. Find out how the homeowner will use the home–are there children? Pets? Does the woman of the house wear high heels? Do the home’s residents neglect to remove shoes? How will each room be used? Where might task lighting and ambient lighting be most appropriate?

23. JEWELRY MAKING
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

There are many different ways of getting into the jewelry business and many different types of materials with which you can work. Working in metal will probably require the most in the way of specific tools. You need to be able to heat the metal to manipulate it, and you need metalworking tools to cut and engrave it. But there are many other materials that you can work with to make jewelry–glass, plastic, beads, feathers, even wood, to name just a few.

24. MARKETING COPYWRITER

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you can write copy that gets people excited about purchasing what your client has to sell, you can make good money in this business. Unless you are highly experienced from working in the copywriting field, take a course. There are online courses or classes at community colleges and universities that can give you a leg up in getting savvy at writing copy for brochures, catalogs, advertising and, of course, marketing copy for the web.

25. NOTARY PUBLIC/JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

In most states in the U.S., a notary public is a state officer who is authorized to witness and attest to the legalities of certain documents by signature and stamping a seal. Most states require that you pass an exam and a background check. It costs very little to become a notary and your income from notary work is negligible. A justice of the peace typically performs wedding ceremonies. States have varying rules and procedures for becoming a JP and performing services. Becoming a JP and/or notary public does not cost much money. And it is not a big moneymaking venture! Many states set the fees you can charge for JP services. JPs can add additional fees, and often do, including travel and hourly rates for additional meetings such as rehearsals, other prep time and any special requests.

26. PERSONAL CONCIERGE

This business is for someone who is supremely efficient and has the ability to make things happen. People who hire you will expect things when they want them and you need to be able to come through with not only what they want, but with a personal touch and a smile on your face. The most likely clients for a personal concierge service are top executives who find themselves at the office by 7 a.m. and are there most nights until 9 p.m., leaving them very little time to do all those things that often need to be done during those very hours.

27. PERSONAL TRAINER

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Advertise your services in places where everyone goes, like restaurants and grocery stores. Having a website is a good idea–people want some privacy in their decision-making when it comes to getting fit. They can go to your website and determine if your approach to personal training is an approach that would work for them. It is important to emphasize the safety aspect of using a personal trainer. You can help clients get fit and avoid injury.

28. PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Your job, in the case of rental units, will be to make sure the property is running smoothly. For seasonal properties, you will most likely spend your management time making sure the property is ready for seasonal visits and well-maintained when no one is around. If the owners go away for six weeks in the winter, the property manager makes regular checks on the property. You will be the contact number if the security system operator needs to contact someone about a breach in security.

29. SMALL ENGINE REPAIR
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most community colleges offer some level of engine-repair courses. Another way to learn would be to take a part-time position at a repair shop or a rental facility where you could learn on the job, although you will want to be open about your plans. You should be prepared to work on push-behind lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers, generators, garden tools such as rototillers and edgers, chainsaws, wood chippers and snowblowers. You need to decide whether you’ll want to take on bigger jobs, such as tractors, snowmobiles and ATVs; space may be your decision-maker.

30. SOLAR ENERGY CONSULTANT
Experience, training or licensing may be needed
Has expansion possibilities

As a solar consultant, you can basically conduct a home inspection and give clients a report on their solar options for their particular home and site. This can range from full-fledged general solar installations that generate electricity to simple solar walkway lighting. You might want to start by working in a solar products company to become knowledgeable in the solar energy field. However, to be a consultant, it is often best not to be affiliated with any one company or product and be able to recommend products and options across the field of solar energy.

31. TAX PREPARER

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most tax preparation franchises offer courses, seminars, and training to get you ready to work for them. You will learn a lot about tax preparation while working for them before going out on your own. There is a lot of educational support out there to learn tax preparation and all its complexities. And there are lots of individuals and businesses willing to spend a few hundred dollars a year to have someone else prepare their taxes and keep watch for tax breaks or tax burdens on their behalf.

32. MUSIC LESSONS
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Turn down the volume and listen up: your music skills can earn you between $50—$75 an hour. There are a few ways to approach running your own music biz: you can be mobile and teach in your clients’ homes, or you can run it out of your own space (a separate building or designated area of your home.) To get started, try to connect with local music schools for part-time gigs, which will allow you to see if you really like it, and also help you build a reputation with clients.

33. UPHOLSTERING

If you have a knack for sewing, upholstery repair might be a perfect business for you. One of the best ways to learn how to upholster is to get some discarded upholstered furniture and start tearing it apart. Many books and some videos are available to help you learn this trade. Often furniture ready for upholstering will also need repairs. Have a list available of furniture repair people you can recommend to your customers. Or you can take the piece in, have repair people you work with do this work for you, and add it to the overall cost. You can also learn to do this work, especially minor repairs, yourself.

34. USED BOOK SALES

Almost everyone has a few boxes of books stashed away in the house somewhere. Why not make a business out of them? In order to gain customers–especially repeat customers–you will need to have some regular shop hours. Make your shop known for something-a specific category (or two) of books, having some first editions for sale, all paperbacks a dollar and all hardcovers two bucks, and/or a swap program. Maps, illustrations, postcards, greeting cards and magazines are good sidelines to include in your shop.

35. WEDDING PLANNER

You will need to be up-to-date on wedding trends and fads, dress styles, color trends–almost everything under the sun! Offer your customers an ala carte menu of services, from helping pick flowers, the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses to picking the venue and hiring the caterer. Before you open your business, shop at all the wedding shops, and even pretend you are a bride-to-be to see what kinds of services the wedding gown shop provides and how they treat potential customers. You need to know every detail of the business to give the accurate impression that you are the go-to person for anyone planning a wedding.

36. APPLIANCE REPAIR
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls–or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.

37. COMPUTER TRAINING
Experience, training or licensing may be needed
Has expansion possibilities

If you are proficient in both Macintosh and PC, you should offer training in both types of computers. You could probably make a living helping seniors learn how to use the internet and e-mail to keep in touch with their loved ones, who are now commonly spread around the country. Err on the side of caution in this business. People do not want to know all the details about what makes a computer work. If you overload them with information from the beginning by explaining bits, bytes, and megapixels, they will stick to their paper and pencil forever.

38. DESKTOP PUBLISHER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You can use desktop publishing software to create newsletters, magazines, books or even marketing materials. You can create the content for your desktop publications, or you can pay a writer to create the content for you. Alternatively, you can advertise your desktop publishing services to design and create newsletters and books for others with their content.

39. FENCE INSTALLATIONS

Fences are everywhere. And they don’t last forever, so they need to be repaired and replaced with a certain amount of frequency. The most common fence material is wood. However, vinyl has become a popular fence choice due to its longevity and relative freedom from maintenance. Wrought iron is another common fencing, especially in urban environments. You can have fun shopping for vintage wrought iron fencing at salvage yards.

40. FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Despite the proliferation of the internet, print media is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Fliers, newsletters, magazines, information sheets, letters and advertisements are just a few of the types of print media that business hire freelancers to create for them. Websites and online advertising need graphic design services as well. Even if your expertise is only in design, offer the works for potential clients, including the editorial creation and the printing and even mailing of the final piece. You can line up regular freelancers for those parts of the job you can’t do.

41. GIFT BASKET SERVICE
Has expansion possibilities

Finding a niche is the best way to start out in the gift basket business. Are you a dog lover, horse lover, or exercise guru who could put together baskets that hold the things that people with this interest would like? Do you already create a product that a gift basket could be built around? Have you made your own soaps for the past 10 years? A gift basket that included one or two of your soaps, hand lotion, a scrub brush and manicure kit could be a lovely basket to receive.

42. GRAFFITI REMOVAL

Create an arsenal of cleaning products that can clean almost every kind of product (paint, chalk, markers) from every kind of surface (cement, wood, pavement). The best way to conduct a graffiti service is to offer a subscription-like arrangement. Once a month or whatever interval makes sense for your clients, go around to their property and clean off the graffiti. Charge them a monthly or quarterly fee and make it simple for everyone–they don’t have to think about graffiti, and you just do your job.

43. HAIRSTYLIST
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Hairstyling is a popular business that can be quite lucrative. Generally a home based hairstylist business is likely to be started by someone who has already has a cosmetology career and wants a change. If you already have your cosmetology training and license, and loads of experience under your belt working in a hairstyling salon, you probably have a following that will follow you right home without any hesitation.

4. HERBAL FARM STAND

You need to decide whether you will sell your herbs as live plants, picked or cut in bunches and packed, or dried. If you plan to market to cooks instead of gardeners, you will want to sell your herbs either fresh cut and packed in sealed bags, or dried and sold in baggies. You can also consider a “pick-your-own” arrangement; however, be aware that herbs are more delicate than most P.Y.O. products. You may save your garden a lot of strife and your plants a lot of wear and tear if you do the picking.

45. LANDSCAPER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you have a knack for this type of work, a degree won’t be necessary. Most people want their yards tidied up in the spring, their lawns mowed in the summer, their leaves removed in the fall, and their shrubs and driveways ready for winter snow. You will also want to offer garden work such as spring planting of annuals and perennials; vegetable garden preparation, planting and fall cleanup; pest control and watering. You can offer tree care service. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, irrigation system installation.

46. MASSAGE THERAPIST

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You will want to become certified in massage therapy to be able to effectively market your services. Courses that lead to certification include not only information on human anatomy and physiology and the effects that massage has on both, but also on how to make a business out of the field of massage. You could do either a certification program or an associate’s degree and stay within the $5,000 scope of this book.

47. MOVING SERVICE

Lots of people who are moving want to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for them. You can leave the large-scale, long-distance moving to the big moving companies. Your work can be the local, moving-across-town or to the town-next-door jobs. These are the ones that people start off thinking perhaps they could do themselves, and it will be your job to convince them otherwise. Your signs around town will tempt them to let you take care of that part of the move, while they are busy taking care of those other 500 items on their list.

48. FRANCHISE OWNER

The benefits of owning a franchise are many: you have a proven business model, a built-in brand and corporate support. And the good news, not every franchise will cost you millions of dollars to start. There are many you can start for less than $10,000, in fact, including: Dream Vacations, Cruise Planners and Jazzercise Inc. 

49. PHOTOGRAPHER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Making money as a photographer can be done in a number of different ways. You can specialize in one area, the most common being weddings. There are niches you can explore for photography: portraits of people and their pets, families, and homes; photographs of holiday events, birthday parties or Christmas cards; the possibilities are endless.

50. RUG CLEANING

You will need to learn how to work with all kinds of carpet fabrics, from synthetic to wool carpets. Decide whether you will take on valuable antique carpets and family heirlooms; if so, you will want to get specialized training in how to handle these carpets and the specialized ways of cleaning them. Learn how to get tough stains and odors out of carpets–such as dog and cat odors–and your services will be in great demand.

51. WEBSITE DEVELOPER
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Many courses exist (many of which, logically, are offered online) where you can learn the language of website creation and can learn about the details, like how to set up shopping cart systems, security concerns, etc. You will, of course, need to learn about each company you design for. What is the atmosphere of the company that you need to reflect in the website design–is it wild and contemporary, meaning brilliant colors and fun graphics? Or will more classic colors like black, navy blue and maroon be more appropriate?

52. BED AND BREAKFAST

Do you have a room that has its own bathroom and is private from the rest of the living space? Are you near attractions such as a tourist area, sports stadium or venue for a large annual event? Or is your home in the country with spring peepers, summer crickets and crisp fall nights that could give a city-dweller a weekend of peaceful living? Say you can rent the room for $150 a night for Friday and Saturday nights 48 weeks a year–that’s $14,400 in revenue! Utilize what you have and create a unique experience.

53. CHRISTMAS TREE SALES

If you want to start a Christmas tree farm, you need to plan ahead. It takes approximately seven years for a Balsam fir–perhaps the most traditional Christmas tree–to grow from a small sapling to a 5- to 6-foot tree. Selling your trees yourself is the best option. Consumers come to the property, pick the one they want, and you harvest it for them. The other option is to buy your trees from a wholesaler and sell them either in your yard or in a vacant lot that you rent from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

54. DAY CARE
Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Perhaps you love children. Perhaps you have children of your own and the idea of taking care of a few more for part of the day appeals to you. Childcare needs continue to soar in the United States. Many people prefer the option of their child being cared for in a home environment while they are at work, as opposed to a more institutional-like setting. These things mean that a home-based childcare business can get off and running immediately.

55. PET SITTING

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Starting a pet sitting service requires almost nothing in start-up costs. You do need some general credentials that will cost little or nothing to acquire. Your list of credentials should probably include personal pet ownership–if not currently, at least in the past–as well as other pet-related experience, including working at a pet food store, an animal hospital or other animal-related business. You will need to spend a little to become “bonded.” This is known as “honesty insurance,” and ensures your clients that you won’t get their house keys and make off with their valuables (or that they’ll get their money back if you do).

Content By: Entrepreneur.com |  Read More Here

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Working From Home Is Hard Work

Working From Home Is Hard Work

A few guidelines to help you work from home efficiently--no pajamas allowed

For many, a home office sounds like the ultimate work fantasy. Visions of working in pajamas, spending more time with family, scheduling your own time–what could be better?

Unfortunately, all those images are exactly that–fantasy.

When the line between home and work gets blurred, things can get a little complicated. There are several obstacles that make working from home more difficult than it seems at first, and it actually requires a lot of discipline to make sure you’re staying at the top of your game when you’re not in an office.

Fortunately, we have a few guidelines to help you do just that. We consulted a few experts and self-employed sources to find out how you can maximize your home office situation.

 

First: Should you work from home?
Working from home is most definitely not for everyone.

Some personality traits to be conscious of: Do you need the presence of others to hold you accountable? Do you already have trouble putting down your BlackBerry when the day is done? Do you thrive on professional interaction? Characteristics like these can mean that you’re not a great candidate for working from home.

Most importantly, “you have to be self-motivated. Some folks just need someone to push them along or to be sure they stay on task,” Jeff Erickson, a self-employed strategic marketing consultant advises. “That’s hard to do on your own.”

You know yourself best–do the hard self-evaluation before you commit to the idea of a home office.

 

Set it up right: You’ll need a desk, a door, and business-quality materials.
Setting up a professional-quality workspace is crucial.

“Have a real office with a real desk. Tucking it in the family room or kitchen just doesn’t give you the separation and quiet you need to work. At the very least, put it in a room that you can shut the door,” Erickson suggests. “Have the right equipment for your job–computer, monitor, printer, high-speed internet, etc. Make sure you have good lighting as well.”

A separate room, in particular, “helps create a sense of separation, making it easier to ‘go home’ at the end of the day,” says Kate Lister, co-author of Undress For Success–The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home.

And it’s very important that you “get along with technology,” Lister adds. You are your own IT person now–not having the latest business tools could put you at a disadvantage.

Of course, your home office should also be a space where you look forward to going and where you enjoy spending time. Need inspiration? Check out Lifehacker’s series on cool home workspaces here.

 

Treat your home office like a “real” office.
One of the best ways to maximize working from home is to act like you’re in a “real” office.

Erickson lays out a potential schedule: “Get up at a normal hour, have breakfast, get dressed, make your coffee and go to your home office. Stay off Facebook and other personal sites except for lunch. End the day like you would a normal work day and go off to do what you normally would have done after work–pick up the kids, go to the gym, happy hour, whatever.”

The bottom line is to “create some structure for your day.” It’ll minimize distraction, force you to work efficiently, and allow for clear demarcation between work and play. Easier said than done, of course, but doing so should be a top priority.

 

Keep your work life separate from your personal life…
Getting distracted by your personal to-do list can be one of the biggest obstacles to effectively working from home. If it becomes a habit, your productivity will quickly go down the tubes.

One source advises to adopt the mindset that your office environment is miles away from your home. Whether that requires just closing your office door or more drastic measures, like turning off your personal phone, be sure you have some system for barring personal distractions while you are “at work.”

 

And keep your personal life separate from your work life.
At the same time, “one of the biggest problems cited by home-based workers is over-working […] you’ll continually have to wrestle with working too much. It’s by far a bigger challenge than staying motivated,” Lister comments.

The solution? “One guy we interviewed for the book resorted to getting in his car at the end of the day, driving around the block, and returning home to start his evening routine,” says Lister.

Ken Sheridan, Managing Director and co-founder of Remote Employment, advises:”Set helpful rules: I don’t talk about work when the laptop is switched off. I don’t talk about work in this room (i.e. the main family room). No work chat between [these hours], etc. Set a forfeit if the rules are broken.”

“And don’t have ‘creeping hours’,” he adds.

 

A special note for those with children:
Building an effective home office can be especially difficult for people with children, but it is not impossible.

“Help the kids understand what it means to work from home. Draw the boundaries–as in be quiet when you’re on the phone, knock on the office door, etc. The sooner you start, the more likely they’ll eventually do it,” Erickson suggests.

One source offers this creative solution: Place a sign on your office door that let’s them know right away whether it’s alright for them to come in, or if they shouldn’t disturb you. For younger kids, use colors–green for “go” and red for “stop.”

Setting boundaries and instilling certain habits from the start helps make the situation work.

 

Home offices can be lonely…
When you work out of your home, you don’t have the opportunity to build the deep personal connections you can make when you work with the same people every day. Without that interaction, it’s easy to feel isolated, one source notes.

That physical remoteness can also result in mental isolation, too–which can in turn stifle innovation and affect the quality of your work.

“Don’t lose your external focus. Get out and stay in touch. Meet people. Seek advice. Get a process for acquiring and sounding out ideas,” Sheridan says.

 

So make a concerted effort to not turn into a hermit.
Above all, don’t isolate yourself further. “[Avoid] turning into a hermit. Because you’re out of sight, you need to be particularly vigilant about staying in touch” with clients, partners, and other associates, says Lister.

Don’t fall into the trap of doing everything remotely, either; when appropriate, encourage real interaction.

“I had a situation the other day where a local client (who also works at home) and I needed to have a quick one hour meeting. Easy to do over the phone,” recalls Erickson. “His immediate suggestion was ‘Let’s do it over lunch!’ After 40 years surrounded by people at work, he was missing the social interaction–and desperately needed to get out of the house.”

 

Some other take-aways:
Sheridan offers a few more points to consider:

  • Don’t under-price because you are home-based.
  • Stay productive and be able to prove it. Never charge by the hour: charge for output/results–it’s a big plus versus office workers.
  • Know when to upgrade [your] business infrastructure; don’t stay small and miss the bigger opportunity.
  • Keep your other interests. Stay driven, but don’t get boring.

Lister says, “Common sense suggests that working at home, away from the watchful eye of society, will exaggerate any other ‘holic tendencies you may have. If food, alcohol, drugs, or other indulgences are a problem for you, [a home office] may not be a healthy choice.”

“While I’ve been successfully working from home for over 20 years, my personality and skills aren’t a perfect fit,” she adds. But, “if you’re motivated and willing to work, you’re more than halfway there.”

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