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Unique Gifts for Moms

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Make any day Mother’s Day with these unique gifts for moms. From gifts that help her relax to presents that take her away, young and old mothers alike are sure to love these unique gifts for mothers.

Unique Gifts for Moms Who Love to Read: Book & DVD Gift Combos

A nice way to make an ordinary gift an extraordinary one is to pair an award-winning book with its (hopefully) award-winning movie adaptation. Great for readers and movie lovers alike, a book/DVD combo present is a gift that gives mom a chance to feed her imagination and her senses (in whichever order she chooses).

Give Mom the Gift of Romance, Inspiration or Just a Good Thrill

Not sure what books to choose? Here are three popular novels paired with their equally-popular film adaptations, any one of which makes a great gift for a book-loving mother:

  • Dear John: Based on a novel by the perennially popular Nicholas Sparks, Dear John (2010) is a romantic drama about a young Army office who falls in love while on leave and must face the inevitable pain of separating with his lover when he re-enlists after the 9/11 attack.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Nominated for seven Oscars, The Shawshank Redemption (1995) is the award-winning film adaption of Stephen King’s short story, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption. It’s an amazing story of human friendship, spirit and ingenuity. Want to make your present a double (or triple) feature? Stephen King’s short story is available in a four-story collection called Different Seasons that also includes the stories that were later adapted into the movies Apt Pupil (1998) and Stand by Me (1986).
  • Capote: Does your mother prefer biographies to romance? Then spare her the romcom combo and pair Gerald Clarke’s fascinating Capote with the 2005 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the same name (starring an amazing performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman). This pair is so good she’ll have a hard time deciding with which to start.

Unique Gifts for Moms who Need a Day Off: Spa & Slipper Gift Sets

What mother doesn’t deserve the gift of leisure and relaxation? Show her you know she deserves some time to herself by pairing a luxurious spa day with a pair of equally luxurious slippers for a unique present that she’s sure to appreciate. The slippers let her kick up her heels and remember her well-deserved day of indulgence long after the massage and mud bath have ended.

Pamper Mom’s Feet with These Plush Presents

Depending on whether your mom/wife is budget-minded, eco-friendly or eager to be outdoors, paired with a spa certificate, the slippers below make thoughtful gifts for mothers who need some me-time:

  • Bath & Body Works Sweetest, Softest Ever Slippers: Soft and affordably decadent, these plush microfiber slippers come in different mom-friendly colors and sizes.
  • Eco-Friendly Spa Slippers from Acorn: Velvety soft and vegan, Acorn’s line of Spa Wrap slippers are foot- and eco-friendly slippers that make special gifts for mothers.
  • REI’s Keen Howser Slippers: Cozy, breathable and water-resistant, Keen Howser slippers are durable slippers that let moms keep their feet comfy and snug for quick trips outside.

Unique Gifts for Moms who Cook Everyday: Gourmet Gift Packages

She’s probably cooked for you and your kids, so isn’t it time you repaid the favor with a unique gift that lets her enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal without all the hassle and dishes? Gourmet gift packages make wonderful edible presents for moms that pamper their taste buds–without the clean up.

Unique Gourmet Gifts for Moms

These tried-and-true commercial kitchens offer frozen, gourmet meals that you can have delivered right to mom’s door. Special gift baskets and gift meals are available too.

  • DineWise: With 45 years of experience and 1,000s of choices available, DineWise offers nutritious frozen meals and includes different diet plans for those watching their waistlines.
  • MagicKitchen: With dozens of main courses to choose from, MagicKitchen offers healthy, chef-prepared meals for every palate. From gourmet to special diets, there’s something for every mother on their menu.
  • iGourmet: Voted Forbes Best of the Web in Gourmet Food, iGourmet offers loads of gourmet prepared meals that make delicious, unique gifts for moms. Appetizers, desserts and dinners galore, everything’s there to give your mother a special present she’ll love (and if you’re lucky, share).

What Gifts Make Moms Feel Special?

For the most part, any gift that you put time and thought into is special. If your mom or wife loves to take long, bubbly baths, then, by all means, get her another bath soap gift basket. But if those same bath soaps hang around year after year, maybe it’s time to find a new gift for your loving mother – you can click here to find out some great options. If you think of her day and what she likes to do, you’re sure to find a meaningful present that she’s sure to love.

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Basic Search Engine Marketing Tips for SEO and PPC

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Search engine marketing (SEM) remains one of the most important ways to generate traffic to your website. With SEM, you can choose between either search engine optimisation (SEO) or pay per click marketing (PPC). Both of these techniques will require considerable planning, resources and budget. However, there are some basic SEM tricks that anyone involved in digital marketing should know about.

 

Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is all about getting a high search engine results rank. Unlike PPC, which always requires a budget, some elements of SEO can be done at little or no cost. The result can also have a longer lasting impact than paid advertising. But to make the most of SEO, there are activities that do need the budget – and probably the resources – of SEO professionals. 

 

Key Phrase Analysis

Key phrase analysis is an important first step towards SEO. This is due to how key phrase analysis will determine your search engine ranking. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a great help with this. This is because it will tell you how many people search for the words or phrases you’re researching. It will also suggest alternatives you can use. Try using these key phrases in Google to see which of your competitors appear.

 

Using Key Phrases in Your Content

Keywords

The next SEO step is to match your online content with these key phrases. You need to make sure to use the most searched for terms. Also make sure to use any relevant key phrases. This will help you capture as many visitors as possible. Picking the right key phrases is one of the most important factors for determining your search engine ranking. You should aim to use these key phrases in around 3-4% of your page’s content. This means that these words and phrases should appear no more than three or four times for every 100 words used. This may also mean that you need to create new pages to optimize them for specific key phrases. However, over-using keywords, what’s known as keyword stuffing, is bad. You must avoid this as much as possible. This is because it can have a negative impact on page ranking.

 

You should also use key phrases in your page titles, headings, and bold text within the body copy. To do this, you might need to also make changes to your template. Inbound and outbound links are also important for SEO. This is because both can impact ranking in search engines. So a link-building strategy is important.

 

Inbound Links

Links puzzle

Inbound links are basically links from other sites that point to yours. A great way to achieve this is by having good quality content. You can also list your site in directories. Contact other site owners who may be interested in swapping links. Finally, you can try syndicating content, such as press releases, which contain your URL. Keep in mind that having inbound links from a few relevant websites with good page ranking is more important than links from many that don’t.

 

Outbound Links

By comparison, outbound links are links to other sites you include in your own content. SEO experts believe this helps you add value to visitors by giving them access to more information on the subject. Google will also rate your site more highly if it sees that a lot of users engage with it by clicking on the links.

 

Pay Per Click Marketing

PPC marketing involves paid advertising on search engines. Google AdWords is a great tool for this. Although the tool itself is free to use, you might need a significant budget. This is because there is a cost involved every time a user clicks on one of your ads.

 

Like SEO, key phrase analysis is also the first step in PPC management. Here, you need to determine which words and phrases to bid on. Failure to do this effectively can result in ads appearing to the wrong target audiences. As a result, people who click on the ads will likely not convert. High performing key phrases can cost many dollars per click. So pay attention to lower volume but lower cost words and phrases.

 

Setting realistic budgets is important at the start of PPC marketing. Tools such as Google AdWords allow users to set limits on how much money they want to bid. This can also impact your positioning. A key strategy that you can use is day parting and hourly parting. This is where your ads only show during the hours or days when there is the most potential for clicks.

 

Equally important is ad creative. Your ads should capture attention, achieve interest, develop desire and achieve action. You should use keywords in the headlines and body copy. The text should also be specific and  include a call to action.

 

Review and Web Site Optimisation

You should continuously review all your search engine marketing activities. This may mean further key phrase analysis or even changing your ad creatives. You should also ensure to properly optimise your website for converting visitors into customers. Otherwise, you will just be wasting money by generating a lot of traffic but few sales.

 

 

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Spring Cleaning

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This time of year, I always get a hankering for cleaning… the windows, the dreaded garage (uugh), baseboards, carpets, closets, and yes, even my website!

I like to get rid of affiliate programs that are not doing anything for me, links that no longer reciprocate (or exist), marketing strategies that no longer produce, and of course, content that is no longer compelling, old, stale, and just plain dormant.

To help with the task of Spring Cleaning my website, I decided to share a few of the chores on my to-do list, as well as tips for handling the dirty jobs. Enjoy.

#1 CONTENT – How fresh is your content? Clean it up with some of your latest accomplishments, client testimonials, or even an updated picture of yourself. Static sites do not sell! Let your potential clients know that you are still in business by posting dates of your last updates. Skilled marketers can help you to write new and enticing content. Offer a Spring special on a product or service – but make sure it is worth your client’s while.

#2 KEYWORDS & META TAGS – How is your site currently ranking in the search engines? Time to do some testing and spring cleaning of those keywords and meta tags. Keywords and phrases that worked last year may not be so hot this year. You can see how many times your keywords are being used by using different keyword trackers and how well those search engines like your meta tags & content.

#3 LINKS – As you know, link exchanges help boost your Google PR, but what you may not know is that you will be ranked higher by exchanging links with content relevant to yours. This Spring, be sure to go through your links and remove those that are no longer linking to your site, as well as those that no longer exist.

#4 AFFILIATE PROGRAMS – Have you checked your affiliate commissions lately? I’ve been burned time and again by affiliate programs that refuse to pay me. Either they move their thresh holds up, or they do not acknowledge qualified clicks/sales. Stay on top of this! Be sure to check your commissions and request payouts once your commissions meet the required thresh hold. Move your affiliate links around – and pick up some new link codes to keep this content fresh as well.

#5 DO SOMETHING NEW – Try a different marketing strategy with your coaching, e-books or e-zines. Giveaways are always a great way to encourage sales. A professional marketing company can help you come up with a compelling marketing startup strategy that will move the potential client or customer from being a looker to being a buyer:

Awareness – Generate awareness of the product or service you’re promoting by prominently placing information about it throughout your website.
Consideration – What is the best way to make your viewers consider the product or service you are trying to sell? Is it an attractive price? Is it something that makes the viewer believe that you will fill a need that they have? Is it being consistent in mentioning the benefits of this “thing” you are promoting throughout your entire site? Absolutely. All of the above.
Try – What is the best way to get your potential clients/customers to try your product? Offer them a taste of what it would be like! Give them a sample coaching session or free consult that will ultimately move them into the final phase of the ACT-B model. This is your time to shine!
Buy – The potential client/customer becomes a paying client or customer.

# 6 REVIEW YOUR SERVICES – Make sure you’re all up to date with your domain name renewal and hosting services. If you are paying more than $9.99 per month, consider moving to another host. I personally use Living dot. They offer free BLOG installation! (If you aren’t already blogging… there’s another line item to add to your Spring Cleaning to-do list).

#7 ADD SOME AUDIO TO YOUR SITE – How about a 10-15 minute recording that speaks about one of the products or services you are selling from your site? This is another great way to build awareness & consideration from the ACT-B model. Here is a source you can use: Instant Audio

#8 REFRESH YOUR MIND & BODY – Take daily walks. Ok, not so much related to your online marketing, but the fresh air will certainly help with writer’s block… and your body won’t mind getting out and moving either. Summer will be here before you know it.

#9 EDUCATION – Take a new class to educate yourself on online marketing, niche’ ing, personal branding, and the like. The more you know about today’s marketing trends, the better you can prepare and position your business.

#10 PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR – Figure out which of these items you are going to implement on your site and put it on the calendar. Give yourself a deadline. Get it done.

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Small Business Startup Tips

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Taking the Right First Steps to Business Success

Small Business Startup Tips

Taking the Right First Steps to Business Success

First time investors need to make the right choice for the type of business to pursue. Mistakes are rampant when an idea has not been researched thoroughly from the onset.

Here are important business tips to consider:

  • Taking the Right First Steps to Business SuccessStay away from seminars that offer business opportunities in the evening hours. Fatigue will hamper good sense reasoning when the urgency to sign on the dotted line and hand over the credit card arises.
  • Before going to a seminar or taking any financial steps, research the idea thoroughly. Check out demographics, the target market, legal compliances and restrictions for your area, availability of product, etc. Talk with friends and relatives or run a survey on the viability of the product or service that is being considered.
  • Research companies before attending a seminar. Do research online, check with the Better Business Bureau and other agencies. Look for other people who have had experience and who are not paid for testimony by the company.
  • Beware of marketing companies that offer discounts if you sign up right away. These companies don’t want you to have time to think about it. If there is pressure to jump in now, walk away.
  • Online marketing is a great thing if you make the right choices. However, fraud and deception is rampant. Take precautions. Don’t answer email ads offering business opportunities. Use search engines and go directly to websites that offer information.
  • Note the difference between how-to books and packets and startup business opportunities. There is a lot of free information online. You may or may not need the how-to books offered.
  • Realize that the startup cost is the first hook. Consider the overall cost to potential beginning sales. For instance: Jack and Dianne started an online product website that initially cost $300.00 for the kit. Since they had no product of their own and no idea how to run a website business, they paid $6,000 for a website to be set up, training and a membership in the companies warehouse. A list was provided for other warehouses. They learned how to run the website on their own and worked tirelessly day and night inputting product. Then they realized the cost of keywords, pay pal and auction fees. The truth that warehouses prices were not really wholesale struck them hard. So they tried selling their own things on an auction site. The fees were horrendous and buyers were upset about shipping and handling fees. At the end of the year, Jack and Dianne had lost $10,000 and many of their treasured possessions that they had in reality given away.

    financial advise

  • Get financial advise and consider it well. Check any proposed business plan over with the banker or financial adviser. Keep an open mind.
  • For startup cost, check out grants with your local business bureau or business administration office. Stay away from companies or online sites that offer grant information for a price. Anything you need to know about grants can be obtained for free or a small mailing fee from government agencies. Beware of illegal claims of connection to government agencies. Go directly to the source.
  • Sign up for classes through reputable websites. Level of education has no baring on the need for training from experts that have many years of experience in business. Be humble and realize that a business owner can never have enough education or advice to swim with the sharks.

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How to Get Small Business Bank Loans

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How to Get Small Business Bank LoansBusiness owners can expect to be scrutinised and taken through strict financial processes before getting credit approval and loans from lenders. However, when one has knowledge about lending requirements and adopts the appropriate strategies, one can access small business loans with ease.

In a May 26, 2009 Timesfreepress.com article titled: “Small Business Owners Get Help from SBA Loan,” Amy Williams reported the Small Business Administration (SBA) announcing that more businesses will be eligible for SBA-backed financing. The policy took effect from May 1, 2009, will continue till 2010.

The Timesfreepress.com article also reported lenders who deal with the SBA as pointing out that the volume of credit available to undersized companies in the United States has been up more than 25% since March 2009. The SBA’s decision to guarantee more loans and the increase in volume opens a great opportunity for easy access to credit from banks among owners of smaller companies.

Despite the opportunities created, prospective borrowers have to know how to take advantage of the situation to secure credit approval from financial institutions who continue to apply strict lending procedures. The following are some of the basic tips on how to obtain small business financial support.

Good Business Plans for Loans 

In order to have a credit application approved, applicants need to provide sound business ideas and be in a position to justify the viability of the projects for which the money is being sought. In an articles published in the New York Times on May 27, 2009, Scott Medinz wrote that to be able to get credit, those who want to apply for a small business loan should be able to show bankers that they have a viable plan on how they would utilize the money.

It is therefore important for prospective borrowers to know how to tailor their business plans to the specific requirements of lending institutions. Medinz pointed out in the NYT article that bankers are emphasizing the need for small business borrowers to know which measures lenders place emphasis on when evaluating applications. Applicants should learn to rationalise and defend projects they are seeking money for.

Building Strong Relations with Banks

How to Get Small Business Bank Loans - maintain good relationships with banks

To enhance the chances of getting money from creditors, borrowers need to build good relationships with potentential financiers. AllBusiness.com, an online e-commerce company, pointed out in a 2005 article headlined: “Small Business Loan Tips,” that building personal relationships with bankers is a very crucial practice. “A lender who knows and trust you is more likely to take a gamble on your …loan,” the publication emphasized. It is also important that such relationships are built for long-term purposes.

Quick money from Small lenders

Bigger banks may appear to be ideal creditors but a survey conducted in May 2009, by Barlow Research Associates demonstrated that smaller banks tend to give out loans to smaller businesses than larger ones. Furthermore, the study revealed that businesses that had loans from small banks in the preceding year were three times likely to be approved for loans than companies that chose to apply to larger banks.  Chances of small company owners getting money from smaller financial institutions could thus be greater than it may be with bigger ones.

How to Get Small Business Bank Loans - credit historyImprove Credit History Score

Demonstrable credit worthiness is perhaps the biggest asset a company owner could have. With a good credit score, it will be always easier to obtain the needed amounts for company expansion or setting up new businesses. Though most potential borrowers may often complain about unwillingness of lenders to give out money, the NYT article quoted Sherrill Stockton, senior Vice President of Sonoma Bank as saying, “fact is, a lot of borrowers are just aren’t credit worthy.”

Good business plans, strong relationships with lenders and smaller banks, and improved credit history and score are among the essential requirements for obtaining small business loans.

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Find the Perfect Location- Small Business Success

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Find the Perfect Location- Small Business Success

Searching for a location for your small business may be overwhelming and time consuming. It depends upon what your needs are. Is it a place that your customers will drive to or is location the key due to heavy traffic. Whether location is important depends on what type of business you are? And, getting the best deal is important as well so let’s start the process.

What type of business

Business location - gas stationLet’s take some examples. A gas station is location driven. It must be on a busy road where cars pass on a regular basis. Another example might be a fast food restaurant. Most people frequent a fast food drive through because it is on the way to work/school/home, for example. A location based business depends on the traffic that passes during the open hours. A small business owner of this type of business would pick a busy shopping mall or a facility at the corner of two busy streets.

A destination small business is a place where people, your customer, are willing to drive to. You may be out of the way but the service you offer is worth the time. An example of this might be a restaurant that has the best steaks in town at a great price. Their customers would come from all over the city and maybe neighboring cities as well. A customer might be willing to drive to an architect’s office to see the design of his future house.

Do you need the space for manufacturing or storage? Is it an office to operate from or a storefront? Ask the question: Do you need heavy pedestrian traffic to succeed or can you bring your clients to your place where ever it is?

Additional Items to consider

Business location - foot traffic

– Access to highways, the building for deliveries, the airport, parking, transportation.

– Price is always an issue. Rates depend on the location and size.

– Draw your customers by locating near a complimentary store such as a shoe store next to an apparel store.

– Zoning requirements may not approve your small business so check.

– If a destination, make sure there is plenty of parking before signing the lease.

– Flexibility allows you to negotiate lower rental prices.

– Landlords may help you, in today’s economy negotiation is a practice.

If you pursue your destination in an organized fashion and evaluate each property thoroughly, the small business owner will find the perfect location for their purpose. Try to keep emotion out of it, although excitement is necessary, logic is needed for the best deal.

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How Employers Should Handle Staff Motivators

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How Employers Should Handle Staff Motivators - employee motivation

Staff motivation remains a challenge for employers. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs principle and Herzberg’s theory of motivation-dissatisfiers have always been a part of business lessons. What creates a motivated employee? How does a business system or an employer recognize and reward their staff for jobs well done, at the same time making them fulfilled to stay on being loyal and motivated to the company?

Understanding employee motivation should be important from a management perspective. Motivation is a complex concept. It is not just about remuneration and recognition. To motivate employees, there should be communication within the workplace. Management should look into how working under pressure, having a competitive environment, and other factors motivate employees.

Giving Employee Task Control. These are issues such as objectives, planning, responsibility, quality, competition, challenge and accountability. Initially, objectives should be set for tasks that provide a challenge, for example, reduce cost or increase quality. Motivation may be increased when a staff member is given greater control over tasks. Managers should also provide for task variety, within the capabilities of the staff.

Employee Recognition and Rewards. These include status, praise, recognition, freedom in decision making, fun at work and corporate social contact. Any action related to ego boosters should be visible to others for it to be effective.

 

Money as Motivator. A major motivator is the employee salary. Aside from cash, it includes cash, bonuses, fringe benefits, etc. In general, this is out of direct control of the manager. In any case, the performance management report should be used to the fullest. The staff should be advised that remuneration is directly related to performance.

How Employers Should Handle Staff Motivators - career developmentStaff Career Development. This is an important motivator that includes areas as a career path, job security, training, personal development, sense of belonging and actual promotion. Among others, the staff should be advised of job movements within the organization so that they are aware of opportunities. The manager should perform some strategic staff planning. Results may not be provided to the staff but they should be aware that it exists, along with implications.

The responsibilities of employees to their employer begin once they become a part of the company, and vice-versa, for employers to ensure that employees are motivated for the mutual benefit of both. One way or another, the motivation of employees also matters whether they want to be motivated or not. Managers have the ‘buy in’ from their employees, a kind of “what is in it for them to be skilled up and experienced.” They should clearly explain what is required, and how that skill or experience will get them to the next point of their goals, whether in micro steps or giant leaps.

As the manager supports the employee to set up an individual career development program, be it short, medium or long-term plan, the skills and experiences of the staff need to be included in the equation in order to fulfill the business goal along with the employee’s career objectives. Managers’ awareness of staff motivators and knowing the proper ways of handling them will achieve a win-win situation for both employee and the business.

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Home-based Business Startup Requirements

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Home-based business startup requirementsHow does one start a home-based business? And more, a successful one? Before venturing into any business set-up, it is important to work through the entire business selection process. Otherwise, the potential business runs the risk of investing time, energy and money in a losing business venture.

Here are basic requirements of the process that a potential business owner need to consider to start a home-based business that has a potential for success.

Acknowledge Intent for a Home-Based Business Idea

You are on your own. A decision between you and family has been made that you will work in the comforts of your home away from the stresses of annoying traffic. Whatever reasons made, this will motivate you to forge your business plan and ensure that the right thing is done.

Assess Talents as a Business Owner

Home-based business startup requirements - entrepreneur

What are your inherent gifts? Identify your unique traits and what makes you stand out. For example, you have a gift for communicating and ear for listening. These are talents that will assist your business venture.

Analyze Skills Set as a Business Owner

Talent and skill are two different aspects. You also need to identify your skills to be utilized in your home business venture. Talents, aside from being inherent are often passive, but skills can be developed over time. For example, a creative person may have excellent skills in design or writing, while a person with a talent in details may have strong organizational skills.

Consolidate Talents and Skills to Generate Business Ideas

Write down your talents and skills, and brainstorm your input honestly. Don’t censor yourself but rather, list all your ideas at this point. Ask yourself, “With my talents and skills, are they enough to proceed with my business ideas in mind?” You may want to consult with a professional friend to help you brainstorm further. If you are bent in pursuing a particular small or home-based business, and realize that your talents and skills are insufficient, train or educate yourself with those skills you need and don’t have.

Run a Test of the Home-Based Business Ideas

Once you have gone through the initial phase of your business plan, it is important that a test run of your ideas is done. Not all business ideas will work out. By running a test, ideas that will not work can be crossed out. Review your list thoroughly and eliminate any ideas that will not work.

Consider the Profit Component of the Home-Based Business Idea

For this matter, the financial aspect should always be looked into. You need to understand and factor out how much customers will pay for your services, and just as critical, if your income will be sufficient to justify the business.

Formulate a Business Plan to Assess the Viability of the Home-Based Business Idea

Home-based business startup requirements - business plan

The Internet is a great source of information how a business plan can be prepared. Some people think that a business plan is only to secure a business loan. It is not. A business plan is able to tell if a business has a chance of becoming successful.

Planning the business is crucial. There is no point in going after a business venture, home-based or not, if the planned venture is not profitable. If the business plan shows that the idea for a home-based business is not viable, the project should be postponed. Another home-based business idea can be considered. The required process will have to be done again until a viable or workable home-based business turns up.

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