how to.. in small business

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How to Avoid Patent Infringement Lawsuits

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Are you planning to sell a new product or service? Have you checked to make sure that your idea doesn’t infringe on another company’s patent? Or, if you’ve been selling a product or service for a while, are you sure that another company isn’t infringing on your intellectual property?

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6 Tips for Making the Perfect YouTube * -

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Chris Doctor owns Delphi Construction, a deck builder in Encinitas, Calif., and, like many small-business owners in a competitive industry, he wants attention. How he gets it has evolved in recent years.

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In the Trenches: Repeat Clients

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There is nothing we like better than getting repeat business from people who have used us in the past. I think just about every business owner would agree that there is no better way to make a living. The key for us is trying to figure out the best way to reach those people to get them to use us again.

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In the Trenches: Missing Something Good

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Being a blogger and a small business owner, I get a silly number of email solicitations every day. That sheer volume of junk leads to some poor decisions: Every so often, it means I miss something good.

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Earning Affiliate Revenue Despite Sales-Tax Nexus Laws

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California, Illinois, and New York recently began cracking down on mega e-commerce retailers, insisting that they charge customers sales tax whenever their web-based stores pay commissions to affiliate advertisers. In response, Amazon, Overstock, and other e-tailers have elected to shut down their affiliate programs within the affected states. This means that thousands of bloggers and website owners who promote Amazon-s and other sellers- products via links can no longer collect money for customer referrals.

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5 Signs That a Work-from-Home Job Is a Scam

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Con artists are taking advantage of America-s high unemployment rate by cashing in on -work from home job- scams: The number of complaints filed with the FTC about such opportunities since before the recession has nearly doubled, from 4,004 in 2004 to 7,955 in 2009. While there are many legitimate work-from-home opportunities as well, it-s important to keep a skeptical eye when considering an online job opportunity.

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How to Set Customer Expectations

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Conventional wisdom has it that unhappy customers are far more likely than happy ones to tell others about their experiences. This axiom seems to ring true now more than ever: According to a recent study by marketing research firm Colluquy, 75 percent of people are inclined to share negative experiences they have with companies.

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Tax Prep for U. S. Expats: It Can Be a Desert Out There

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Being the lone expert in a critical field in foreign country can be a great selling point — and Virginia La Torre Jeker has built a career based on just that. The American lawyer, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, specializes in tax issues for U. S. citizens living abroad. With 10 years of service under her belt, she appears to have cornered the market.

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Women Flex Big Muscle in Small Business

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Women in the 21st century are a powerful growth engine for small business America with growth in women-owned businesses actually outpacing national business growth over the past 14 years. An overwhelming 99 percent of businesses run by women are small businesses. With the U. S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projecting that female-owned businesses will generate up to 57 percent of small business jobs between 2009 and 2018, women in small business are showing no sign of slowing down. In this infographic, we break down the landscape for women-owned businesses. Click the infographic for a larger view.

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Atrium Wellness in Aurora, IL wins $25,000 Intuit hiring grant

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Our August $25,000 Love A Local Business winner is Annie Moore, owner of Atrium Wellness, Inc. in Aurora, Illinois! Along with Marie’s Bed and Biscuits, Atrium Wellness is now a Finalist for the $50,000 Grand Prize. One more $25,000 Finalist will be chosen in September. It could be you!

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5 Things You Should Know About Direct-Sales Product Parties

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If you want to set your own schedule and control your earnings, signing up as an independent representative for a multilevel marketing company, such as Silpada (jewelry) or The Pampered Chef (cookware), may be enticing. After all, you just need to host a few product parties a month to make a good living, right?

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How to Make Money by Self-Publishing E-Books

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With e-books now outpacing hardcover books in sales, it’s easier than ever to make a living by selling your own words. Forget about sending query letters to publishers or paying a self-publishing company to print thousands of copies of a paperback that no one may ever buy. These days, you can turn any manuscript into an e-book at no cost and keep most of the profits for yourself (after marketing expenses, of course). Here are four tips for ensuring successful e-book sales.

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Take it Offsite: Have a Green Company Outing

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Remember those sunny days back in school when the teacher would take class outside? While the lesson plan was the same, being outside added a new, exciting dynamic to group learning. In fact, according to studies, children who are taught outdoors increase their test scores by 27 percent.

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How to Retain Daily Deal Customers

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Daily deals like Groupon have become a common marketing tool for small businesses looking to find new customers and build their brand. But how do you transform those discount shoppers into regulars who are willing to pay full price?

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Psych! Understand the Human Mind to Turn Web Traffic into Sales

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Derek Halpern (@derekhalpern on Twitter) started blogging and creating websites in college so he could make a living without having to work a -real job- while earning his psychology degree. The experience proved even more valuable: By writing and designing websites, he learned what people wanted to buy and read online, and he turned his knowledge into a web-based business.

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5 Ways Small Businesses Are Saving Money

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The recession may be over (at least according to economists) but America-s small businesses are still in cost-cutting mode. In an October 11 article, SmallBizTrends. com cites a National Bureau of Economic Research study. It-s findings? -Owner pessimism is up-, causing cash flow problems that result in fewer business owners expanding sales. Capital investments, hiring, and compensation increases are all down as well. Since these smaller businesses have yet to emerge from the recession mindset, let-s look at how they-re saving money.

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In the Trenches: Touting Success

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One of the more delightful parts of running a service business is celebrating the successes. It-s always good to celebrate, but deciding how to share those successes publicly is a different question. I-m always trying to find the best way.

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Affiliate Marketing

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By Michael Bloch

Friday, November 7, 2003; 2:30pm EST

What is an affiliate program? With the proliferation of goods and services now available on the Internet, advertisers look to individuals and companies to help sell their products by utilizing webmasters and others to spread the word.

This can be in the form of banner advertising on affiliate sites, text links, reviews written by affiliates, direct email etc. The advertisers compensate webmasters by paying them for displaying the ads, or for click throughs sent to them, or (as is most common these days) a commission on sales resulting as a referral from their web site or email message. For a more detailed look at the getting involved with affiliate programs, view the learning resources and tutorial links at the end of this article.

How can I make money from being an affiliate? There are many thousands of affiliate programs out there, all claiming to be the best. Some of them will give you the impression that all you have to do is implement their banners and links and wait for the commission cheques to start rolling in. This CAN be the case, but this scenario usually only applies to very large sites with massive web traffic that is relevant to product or service on offer. For most of us, being a successful affiliate requires a little more work!

As the range of goods and online services offered via the Internet has grown at an incredible rate over the last few years, therefore so has the competition. Web site visitors need to have a very good reason for clicking on a link or banner.

Choosing the right banners In most affiliate programs, you are offered a wide variety of banners to place on your site - very few of them will be effective. If you can attain a clickthrough rate of 2%, then you are doing very well. It has been our experience, and this is generally speaking, that graphically rich banners do not perform as successfully as their simpler counterparts. The main reason for this is download time. If a banner is the last thing to load on your page and the banner ad is excessively byte "heavy", by the time it has loaded your visitor may already have scrolled down the page - missing it entirely. Heavy banner ads can also slow down the loading of your pages, or critical elements of your page and you can lose your visitors altogether! A graphically rich banner can also confuse the actual message - the artwork and marketing blurb can be imbalanced. For these reasons, we suggest that banners you implement be no more that 15kb wherever possible.

Banners that have "extreme" animation, such as rapid flashing, are also something to consider very carefully. While these do achieve high clickthrough rates, they are also highly annoying. If you do decide to implement this form of banner advertising, use it very sparingly.

When selecting any form of graphical advertising, try and keep the theme of your site in mind - while graphical ads are meant to stand out and catch a visitors eye, it shouldn't be to the point that everything else on the page is totally ignored. Wherever possible, ensure that all banner ads (and any advertising for that matter) uses a link that opens in a new window. That way, if a visitor does choose to visit one of your advertisers it is easy for them to return to your page and review what they actually came to your site for!

Pop ups and pop unders Many companies, but mostly agencies representing a number of advertisers, now give their affiliates the options of using pop up and pop under ads. Our opinion - pop ups are evil. They annoy visitors and are usually closed before they even have a chance to load. Go for pop-unders and preferably those that only display once per visit. See below for further articles on this subject.

Using Text Link Ads One of the most successful forms of advertising are text link ads. They are bandwidth friendly, don't take up a lot of space and can be easily implemented into most page layouts. Good text links ads don't just scream "buy me!", they also offer some information as to why your web site visitor should investigate the offer. A company should also supply you with very short text links which only state the product or company name. The reason for this is so that you can implement the links directly into the content of related articles and reviews.

Articles and product/service reviews Now, this is where a bit of hard work comes in. Your regular site visitors will view you as an authority on particular subjects, so why not write a review on a product or service you are advertising? This also supplies excellent content for search engine spiders to latch onto. We have attracted many visitors to our site using what I call "adarticles".

But there's a catch......

If you are going to use the adarticle concept to promote products, you need to believe in what you write. Research the product and company well. Contact the company and let them know what you are doing and ask for further resources and assistance. Once you have created the review, send them the link - you may be suprised at the response you get.

One of our advertisers was so impressed with the effort we put into promoting his company's product that he gave us an extra 15% commission on each sale! This form of web site advertising is a bit time-consuming, so choose your products carefully. The information that you supply to your web site visitors will help them formulate a decision, so be honest in your sales copy. If you are successful in this promotion strategy, over time your reviews won't be seen as hype and bluster, but as a reliable source of information - everybody wins!

Email advertising as an affiliate marketing tool Direct promotion via email has boomed over recent years, but has brought with it mountains of spam. If you intend on using email as a method of advertising products and services, ensure you stand behind the products you're promoting and make yourself available to answer any questions. An effective promotion technique we have found is to combine email with the adarticle strategy. In our ezine we occasionally put a summary of a product or service, just enough information to stir the curiosity of our readers. The summary then contains a link to the adarticle on our site. The benefit of this is not only that you have a good opportunity to promote the product or service, but while visitors are on your site they may also look at other sections. The advertiser benefits through having highly targeted potential clients visit their site.

Original marketing strategies Using the two above strategies combined, you can tailor your own campaign. Visitors sometimes become blind to the advertising resources supplied by companies and your efforts in coming up with something original may spark their (and the company's) interest. As an example, our hosting company has provided great service to us over the last 18 months, which made us very confident in promoting their hosting solutions - so we approached them and negotiated a great deal for all parties involved. They have increased visibility on our site, we receive fantastic benefits in return, while promoting a service we really believe in! Using this example, you can make many of your alliances and business partnerships more beneficial to all concerned.

Successful affiliate marketing requires patience If you are certain that your web site can generate fantastic sales for a certain company, contact them to negotiate a tailored arrangement. If they aren't too enthusiastic to begin with, be patient - companies are approached every day by affiliates wanting to cut a "better deal". The reality of it is that many affiliates cannot deliver what they promise, and the companies are aware of this. Implement their links and banners, go the extra mile with adarticles and other unique strategies, generate some sales and then approach them again. You'll probably find that they'll have a change of heart. Good affiliates are a scarce thing, and if you are performing they'll be very keen to keep you!

Also bear in mind that most forms of advertising take some time to kick into gear. Putting a link up for a couple of days and then pulling it down because it is not generating any interest may not be a reflection on the product, but just in the way that it is being presented to your web site visitors. If you have run successful campaigns before, try to remember the elements that made it a success. What works for one product may not necessarily for another, but it's worth a try. Again, if you are having problems with promotion, contact the company. They will more than likely have thousands of affiliates and will know what strategies are working. A good advertiser may even go to the trouble of reviewing your site and provide you with some tips and hints based on their observations.

Network Advertising Agencies vs. individual advertisers One of the easiest ways to get involved with affiliate programs is through one of the major advertising agencies. They will offer you hundreds or thousands of advertisers to choose from and payment will be consolidated.

It can be quite difficult to keep track of a number of individual advertisers, but this shouldn't turn you away from considering individual companies to represent on your web site. If the company is well known, has a good product, offers excellent affiliate support and commits to regular payments with a low payout threshold, they can actually perform better than some of your agency associations.

This is particularly the case if the company offers residual income; i. e. that you receive monthly commissions from referred clients to services such as web hosting, magazine subscriptions - for as long as the client is with the company. Affiliation with these individual advertisers, over time, can build a steady stream of income for you.

By the way, be extremely wary of affiliate programs that you have to pay to join - they are really MLM (multi-level-marketing) associations. There are some very successful and respectable MLM offers around, but also many that are scams. Do your research into the company offering the program.

Successful Affiliate Marketing - unplugged Be careful of who you advertise for. Many companies set a minimum payout level they know not many will achieve. They greatly benefit from the fact that thousands of affiliates will not make any real money from the association and over time these affiliates will drop off when they can't hit the target - but the company has benefited from the traffic, with minimum outlay.

One sale here, two sales there - it all adds up for them. Consider this - a company launches an affiliate program with a minimum payout level of US$25 (industry standard). They then recruit over 20,000 affiliates. Only the top 1,000 affiliates actually generate enough sales to receive payouts on a regular basis. The remaining 19,000 only average one sale each, lose interest and drop away. These 19,000 affiliates made nothing, but the company still raked in what could run into millions of dollars of sales.

Successful affiliate marketing boils down to survival of the fittest, the fastest, the wisest - but mainly those who put the most effort in. Don't be discouraged if after a couple of months you haven't made enough money to retire - it does take time!

Looking back over our figures, it was approximately 6 months from when we began getting involved with affiliate programs to when it really started to pay off the effort we had put in. The longer you are involved with affiliate marketing, the more savvy you will become as to what will work and won't. Then your effort vs. return will reap greater income in shorter periods of time.

Affiliate marketing can be exciting and frustrating with many highs and lows, but one thing's for sure - it's never boring!

Source of Article This article was written by Michael Bloch. He can be emailed at michael@tamingthebeast. net or you can visit his web site at http://www. tamingthebeast. net for tutorials, web content and tools, software and community. Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development solutions.

 

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What to Do When Business Partners Disagree

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You went into business with a close friend or family member — and now the challenges of building a profitable company are turning your relationship inside out. One of you wants to invest in a new oven for your cafe, while the other wants to put your profits toward opening a new location. How do you come up with a decision that makes you both happy? Here are a few strategies for handling business disputes with your partner.

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How Small Businesses Use and Lose Time

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For small businesses, time is money. Even for expert multitaskers, there never seems to be enough time in the day for small business owners to accomplish everything on their to do lists. In fact, saving time in the back office is the top pain point we hear from small businesses, which is why we focus each new release of QuickBooks on shaving off valuable minutes and even hours in the workday (see what-s new in QuickBooks 2012 here). In this infographic, we look at how small businesses use their time and how they save it, by boosting productivity. Click the infographic for a larger view.

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Low Cost Business Ideas

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So you’d like to open your own business but with limited finances, you want to focus on low cost business opportunities. Well, you’re not alone…

Most of us have bigger business ideas than our bankroll will support but that still doesn’t stop us from pursuing our dreams. Many new businesses owners have had to invest more sweat equity than financial equity to get their small business ideas off the ground.

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Online Business Ideas

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When you’re interested in how to start an online business, there are a number of online business ideas that can help you to use your skills and experience to make money off of your website.

Online businesses are a great way to earn extra income, because they offer you flexibility. In many cases you can start an online business in your spare time and manage your online operations around your schedule. You can also operate your online business virtually anywhere – even on the road.

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How to Get Your Product Featured on a Reality TV Show

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No matter how you feel about reality TV, getting a product featured on a popular show can be a major boon for your company. After Maine-based Kids Crooked House’s custom playhouses appeared on Jon and Kate Plus 8 in 2009, the company was overwhelmed by its newfound popularity. -Within 60 seconds of Kate [Gosselin] saying the phrase -crooked houses- on TV last night, there were 170,000 visitors to our website,- co-owner Glen Halliday told ABC News at the time. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the delivery arrived just as Jon and Kate announced their separation, which became the show-s most-watched episode ever.

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5 Franchising Tips from Author of -Grow Smart, Risk Less-

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How does an entrepreneur get enough franchising firepower to expand her business from one location to more than 200 in just five years? Aspiring franchisors can read all about how Shelly Sun (pictured) grew her health-care staffing agency, BrightStar Care, from a two-location $3 million operation to $100 million operation in the book Grow Smart, Risk Less: A Low-Capital Path to Multiplying Your Business Through Franchising.

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Goorin Brothers- Brimming Hat Business

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When Cassel Goorin founded the family hat business, Goorin Bros., in 1895, covering one’s head was a matter of routine, a practice dictated by fashion sense and good manners. But times have changed since then, and wearing hats isn-t so commonplace anymore. Yet, four generations later, Goorin Bros. is thriving.

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