how to.. in small business

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Ashton Kutcher on What He Looks for in a Startup

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On Sept. 19, Ashton Kutcher made his first appearance on the CBS comedy Two and a Half Men, replacing Charlie Sheen. Kutcher’s fictional role on the show as an internet billionaire isn’t a far cry from his real-life persona: Over the past few years, the actor has become a regular figure in Silicon Valley’s tech scene, helping to fund some 40 companies, including Airbnb, a peer-to-peer vacation rental service, and Hipmunk, a travel site.

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Tips For Improving Credit Scores

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Credit, credit, credit. Without it, it can be difficult to rent an apartment, buy a house, even get a job.

And when applying for a small business startup loan, your credit score will largely determine whether the bank approves your loan as well as how favorable your terms are.

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Getting Reporters to Open Your E-Mails

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By Bill Stoller

Tuesday, July 27, 2003; 3:00pm EST

You know that getting publicity is vital to the health of your business. You probably also know that e-mail is the way most publicity seekers get in touch with reporters to score that precious coverage. Here?s what you don?t know: The vast majority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read.

Bottom line: if your e-mails don?t get read, you have no shot at getting the publicity you so desperately need.

Here's how to beat the odds:

Avoiding the Spam Trap

To an email filter, your humble e-mail pitch may appear to contain an array of trigger words and suspicious phrases. A server that relayed your message may be on a blacklist - a "do not open" list of known spammers. Or perhaps the filter?s having a tough day and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. You can?t prevent every instance of filter blocking, but you can take some steps to help lessen the chances of your e-mail ending up in a black hole.

The most important step is learning how email filters think, and creating e-mails that avoid the usual pitfalls. Fortunately, you?ll find that -- once you can do this -- many spam triggers are easily avoided.

Rather than taking up space here with all the how-to?s, allow me to simply direct you a terrific site on the subject:

http://www. wordbiz. com/avoidspamfilters. html

Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read

After beating the email filter, next up is getting your e-mail opened and read. The key: the subject line. No matter how on-the-money your pitch, a subpar subject line will kill any chance of getting the reporter?s attention. You?ve got one shot at getting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killer subject line.

Here?s how to do it: 1) Place the word "News" or "Press Info" or "Story Idea" at the beginning of your e-mail subject line, in brackets e. g.: [Story Idea]:

2) Try to incorporate the reporter's first name also at the beginning of the subject line.

3) If you know the name of the reporter's column, for instance "Cooking with Linda", also try to incorporate that. One more thing -- if the reporter doesn?t write a regular column, try to at least include their beat (e. g. Joe, re: your future pieces on the Wi-Fi industry).

With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject line might read:

[Story Idea]: Linda, Here's a Tip for Your "Cooking with Linda" Column

That?s a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Here are a few more e-mail do's and don'ts:

Do:

* Make the information you place in the subject line short and to the point. Often, reporter's e-mail software cuts off the subject at only a few words.

* Don?t get cute or be too vague in your subject line. For example "Here?s a Great Story!" is vague and sounds like spam; "This Will Win You A Pulitzer!" will make you look silly (unless you?re delivering the scoop of the century, of course!).

* Try to make your most newsworthy points at the top of your e-mail message - don't expect a reporter to scroll down to find the news.

* Include your contact information, including cell phone, e-mail address, regular address, fax number & website URL at the beginning and end of the e-mail.

* Include a link to your website if you have additional information such as: photos, press releases, bios, surveys, etc.

Don?t:

* Include more than a short pitch letter or press release in the body of your e-mail.

* Allow typos or grammatical errors.

* Include an attachment with your e-mail. In this day and age of sinister viruses, reporters automatically delete e-mail with attachments.

* Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line: "Hi", "Hello" - the media's spam filters will pounce and destroy.

* Send an e-mail with a blank subject line.

A cool tip: Use Google News (www. news. google. com) to search for recent stories that have appeared relating to your industry or field of interest. Then, e-mail the reporter directly (use a subject line such as Re: Your July 5th piece on electric cars). Give positive feedback on the story and let him know that, next time he?s working an electric car story, he should get in touch, as you?re an expert with provocative things to say. Give a couple of supporting facts to back up the assertion, include your phone number and web link, and ask if he?d like to see a full press kit. This technique really works!

Source of Article Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www. PublicityInsider. com/freepub. asp, he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips and much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive new site: http://www. publicityinsider. com/.

 

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The Correct Business Plan Format

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A business plan is a document that outlines what your business concept is and how you’re going to turn that concept into financial success.

Following a proper business plan format can make a huge difference when shopping your plan around to potential lenders.

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Advertise Your Business Online with Search Engine Marketing

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After you build your website and optimize it for organic search results, you can drive additional traffic to your site through search engine marketing. SEM generates visibility in the paid advertising section of search engine results. Unlike SEO, SEM works instantly, sending visitors to your site as soon as you start advertising. The trade-off is that SEM costs money.

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QuickBooks 2012 and More

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It-s an exciting day for QuickBooks fans! Today Intuit is introducing its QuickBooks 2012 lineup, which goes on sale September 26, as well as announcing a new offering that extends the power of QuickBooks and brings customer relationship management to small businesses. It-s called Salesforce for QuickBooks.

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Power Line Broadband Has Arrived

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By Dana Greenlee, Co-host WebTalk Radio

Monday, March 08, 2004; 5:00pm EST

Promises easier and more convenient access to the Internet, although some critics note it could cause radio interference problems.

Broadband connectivity over power lines has been in development for years with the promise of easy and convenient Internet access. A recent announcement this month proclaimed the first large-scale deployment of broadband over power line (BPL) technology to millions of Cinergy power customers in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Luke Stewart, CEO of Media Fusion?s HyperWires. com thinks ?broadband over power lines? is an idea whose time has come. The goal is to enable everyday net user?s access to the Internet simply by plugging their Internet appliance, laptop, media center or desktop PC into an electrical outlet in their house and get cable and DSL speeds.

BPL is not without its detractors. A member of the National Association of Amateur Radio e-mailed me a few days after my interview with Stewart was broadcast on the radio. He said, ?The negative aspects of power line broadband are potential interference problems.?

The Amateur Radio Relay League CEO David Sumner posted this on their organization?s Website: ?Any listing of the pros and cons of using power lines to deliver broadband services must mention its major disadvantage: It pollutes the radio spectrum, interfering with nearby radio receivers. The frequencies in question are used by public safety agencies, the military, aeronautical and maritime services, broadcasters, radio astronomers, radio amateurs, and others.?

Solutions are in the works, however. Massachusetts-based Ambient states that it is possible to avoid interference to nearby transceivers.

The Federal Communication Commission wants filter technology used whenever BPL is deployed. The FCC's proposed amendment for requirements and guidelines on this issue says "Ambient states that if a sub-band is being used by a nearby transceiver, the BPL modem transmitter can be programmed to avoid transmitting on that sub-band, or "notch" it out."

Stewart took a few minutes to elaborate on the new BPL development.

Q: Broadband over power lines has been in development for many years. Give us a little description of what the technology does and how it works.

Stewart: Inductive couplers are used to put a signal onto the actual electrical wire that generally brings power to your home. These couplers are excited in such a way as to put a signal in parallel streaming with your electricity, carrying either content or opening a channel for communication much like your home phone line would. Many of the companies use different coupling and encoding technology, but it all does basically the same thing where you have the coupler that puts the signal on the wire, then you have a set of repeaters that carries the signal for some distance and then you have something that looks like a plug that goes into your outlet that you can plug your computer into and get Internet capability.

Q: It?s a cool idea to plug in your laptop to any outlet in your house and get on the Internet. What type of hardware do you have to have in order to make that connection happen in your home?

Stewart: You just need to have the modem and you need to be in the service area where one of the BPL providers has put it on the grid.

Q: Why will broadband over power lines catch on in the marketplace where we already have DSL and cable and growing wireless access? What differentiates BPL so it can compete, or will it just be a complementary technology?

Stewart: I would like the ease of going to any place in my home or large building and access my own electronic data spaces by moving from plug to plug or by putting any number of people online by plugging them in. It?s a very novel notion.

Besides the convenience, look at the way technology has improved. For instance, when the cellular business first came out, it had spotty services, dropped calls and not very good coverage. Now you have nationwide coverage. The wireless industry has proved to be very robust.

In the beginning, BPL may look similar because it may only appear in certain areas. But as the technology is more integrated within the electrical systems, not only will the technology become more robust and available at lower costs, but the acceleration of putting content to your home through the wall outlet will occur in parallel.

Q: Is this option a threat to the Baby Bells and ISP providers?

Stewart: The two things that drive the industry are costs and consumer confidence. If the phone companies decided it would make more sense to incorporate additional technologies including broadband over power lines, I don?t think they would find it such a threat. When you try to segregate your technology and force the federal government to go under deregulation and special regulatory practices, that sets the stage that threatens those entities far worse than any new technology. From the consumers point of view, any way he can get services that are cheaper and more reliable is a benefit to him. The battlefield isn?t really between technology issues, but business practice issues.

Q: One of the concepts that your company is pushing is what you?re referring to as a hybrid version. It uses existing optical fiber networks in conjunction with power lines?

Stewart: Absolutely. We know a lot of utilities not only have electrical infrastructures but have large amounts of fiber that are pulled in various service territories. In order to bring speedier access - or hyper access, as we like to talk about it - a customer would be able to take advantage of both the current technology of DSL speeds and, by putting this link with the fiber to the first injection where you put your signals on the wire to the home, you open up the back end for interoperability - we call it making it upward compatible - so you can now start delivering other types of content because you have a fiber connection point directly to it. We think that?s the best scenario. We think people are really going to like getting 450 channels out of the wall plug!

Q: Sounds great. What can we do to encourage this next up?

Stewart: Talk to your local power coordinators. Maybe talk to people in the utility industry. It?s certainly good to let the FCC and your local representatives, Senators and Congressman know that there is an interest because all the effort translates to grass root changes. I always think about all the consumers who get this ability to move around in their home to get Internet access, but it?s also really neat that schools get the capability to let everybody plug in wherever they want. Hospitals and other large structures can benefit a great deal as well.

Information about broadband over power lines is available at www. hyperwires. com. For more conversation with Luke Stewart, the full interview is available at WebTalkRadio. com.

About Source of Article Dana Greenlee is co-host/producer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show http://www. webtalkguys. com/, a Tacoma-based radio and Webcast show featuring technology news and interviews.

 

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The Top 10 Reasons Your Online Marketing Fails

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By Dr. Keith Webb

Thursday, September 23, 2010; 7:15pm EST

If you are in the field of online business you must have heard of online marketing. Internet marketing, online marketing, e-marketing and web marketing are just the same terms to describe the use of the internet in marketing and promoting your products, services or business. In recent years, online marketing has provided global consumers a higher distribution of information. With today's increased competition, you must possess the skills and capabilities to attain success. Every success story entails hardships, ups and down, but it's up to you to learn how to avoid the pitfalls with online marketing. That's why we are going to discuss the top ten reasons online marketing fails.

Reason #1: The lack of effort and time needed to learn new information about online marketing.

To reach the success you are aspiring to obtain, you must spend adequate efforts and time learning what can lead you to it. Get as much as new online marketing information you can and take time to study them before you use of them for your company's growth. The more knowledge and experience you can possess, the quicker you will reach your goals. Often the best online marketing techniques will come to you suddenly, but evolves out of all the information you might know. Do not let your business be deserted by others, make it stand out by utilizing new online marketing strategies. Wide varieties of new information are available throughout the web; just encode an online marketing in Google and you will find what you are looking for. Never stop craving for more and new information, techniques, or techniques about online marketing for you will never grow personally or financially if you are not learning something new.

Reason #2: Similarity with other online business websites.

To increase customer's interest, your website must be different from other online business web pages. Visitors get easily bored if they browse and always see the same products, content, and pictures. In order for your online marketing to be successful, you should make your website distinguished from your other competitors. Always make use of unique online marketing ideas when creating your web pages, for it will matter a tremendous amount when trying to attract more potential customers.

Reason #3: Your website is confusing and inconvenient for visitors.

One of the reasons for using online marketing is to promote your products or services to your target audience on the internet. Having too many products, pictures, links, etc. in your web pages can cause confusion and a confused mind will take no action; thereby leaving you without the number of customers that you could and should attract with your online marketing efforts. Try to be simple and focus on a particular product or service with your website. Making sure your other products are in the background of the main product or service you would like to promote. A long navigation system will make people get tired of finding what they want and can cause them to prefer other convenient sites.

Reason #4: Your website is just a sales presentation.

Increasing your sales may result from online marketing, but you must not totally focus on sales alone. Online marketing will benefit you if you provide useful information about your business within your website and attract more potential and actual customers to purchase your products. or services. Most of the time sales do not arise from the first visit, so make use of your online marketing techniques such as providing free information, tips or newsletters to give visitors a reason to come back to visit your website.

Reason #5: Failure to set specific demographic targets.

With online marketing, setting a specific demographic target is very important because you will be more focused on what type of customers you want and what you must do to attract them. Failure to settle the target will increase the risk of failure when promoting your products, services or business; moreover you will not gain the full benefits of online marketing when it comes to increasing your sales and growing your business.

Reason #6: Unsecured ordering pages.

Security for any type of investment matters for almost everybody. Unsecured ordering pages will greatly cause your business to lose sales which contradicts the goals of effective online marketing. Numerous free secure ordering forms are made available on the internet, so this should never be an issue.

Reason #7: A lack of back links to your website as a useful strategy in effective online marketing.

Providing links leading back to your website from a high ranking web page will also give your site a high rank. Linking is the key to success in having your website found on the major search engines and will bring traffic to your website; therefore, increasing you number of potential and actual customers.

Reason #8: Lack of perseverance.

Most businesses fail online due to lack of persistence and giving up too soon. Online marketing will take a lot of time to fully succeed. It could even entail years to become a major player and to develop strong customer relationships, build partnerships and see financial rewards.

Reason #9: Insufficient follow-up.

Within any business following up with a prospect or customer is very important because it will provide you with more of the same types of results that your business desperately needs to grow. Online marketing often fails because many companies fall short in following up with its online visitors; thereby, stunting the growth of brand awareness.

Reason #10: No promoting your website.

Increasing the consumer awareness of your online business can leverage your success. Several online marketing elements and strategies can be used to promote your website, increase traffic and attract more customers. If you lack the funds to pay for promotions, you can use many free ways of advertising your business awareness online such as participating in forums, chats and submitting free links to search engines.

You will need all the help you can to survive in this competitive marketplace, so make use of the online resources you have to gain greater success with online marketing and learn from these failures. Prepare yourself properly and get ready to do what you must due because the success of your business online is in direct proportion to your knowledge gained from other's mistakes.

About the Author

Assassin Marketing - Dr. Keith Webb, of Assassin Marketing, a Dallas marketing company which created the Online Domination System, an online marketing system which allows businesses to dominate the front page of the search engines. Visit http://assassinmarketing. com or contact us at 866-998-8641.

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What Is A Business Partnership

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Understanding what is a partnership is essential if you’re considering this as your business entity. We’ll outline the three most common types of partnerships.

In business, you can’t always go it alone. There are a number of complexities involved with running a business and these complexities may require strategic partnerships. In certain instances, two sole proprietors will come together in forming a partnership in the form of a joint ownership.

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The ASBDC and Intuit: Partners at a Critical Time

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One of the goals of the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) is “To help new entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership.” Intuit of course shares this vision. In fact, it runs so deep on our DNA that we-ve been close partners with the ASBDC since 2003.

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5 Entrepreneurial Lessons We-ve Learned from Steve Jobs

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Apple fans everywhere were shocked by the recent news that CEO Steve Jobs is stepping down. The innovative company’s iconic leader — known for parading across stages in his black turtlenecks and New Balance shoes to demonstrate Apple’s latest products, each one smaller and sleeker than the last — is so representative of the brand that Apple’s stock fell by 7 percent immediately after he announced his departure.

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Green Tours Offer a Glimpse of Sustainable Resources

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Many people wish they could do more to protect the planet, but they aren-t aware of the resources available in their area. Marissa LaMagna is making it her business to educate them, at least in Northern California. Her Berkeley-based Bay Area Green Tours leads individuals and organizations to the doorsteps of innovative companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about what they offer.

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Better Business Through Better Judgment

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By K. K. Merriman, Ph. D.

Thursday, September 1, 2005; 2:30pm EST

The future success of your business hinges on the quality of the decisions you make today. It?s not as critical to have good business judgment as it is to avoid poor judgment. Average quality decisions may slow growth, but it?s the mistakes that bring a business down. There are two common judgment traps in particular to avoid: Anchoring and Investment Traps.

Anchoring

The average home business has a 75% chance of success. What do you estimate as your chance of success? What if I had told you the average home business has a 25% chance of success? Does your estimate change?

Individuals are heavily influenced by ?anchor? values. We use the anchor as a starting point and then adjust our response around it, both consciously and subconsciously. This process can be very helpful at times. It provides a decision making short-cut by narrowing the range so we don?t have to consider all possible values. The problem occurs when anchors are misleading.

Misleading anchor values can unjustly influence your perception of a fair price or a good deal. This is very common in negotiations where the opening side sets a starting point at a high or low extreme. They probably don?t expect to get the extreme number, but it helps steer you towards that end.

Most of us are on the alert for this during formal negotiations. We are less aware of anchors in other daily business decisions. For instance, what fee we charge customers may be anchored in our start-up rate - that low rate we offered when we had no clients and were anxious to attract business. It?s time to reevaluate that anchor. What we decide is a fair price to pay for supplies or equipment may be anchored in our last purchase. It?s better to compare current market prices. Computers aren?t the only item to have dropped in price over time.

The key to avoiding anchor traps is to first recognize the influence an anchor is having on your judgment. Remember, many times anchoring occurs at a subconscious level. Once you?re actually conscious of the effect, you can simply evaluate the anchor and determine its usefulness.

Investment Traps

Joe Entrepreneur joined a professional organization six months ago in hopes of networking for new customers. Joe paid a large initial joining fee, monthly dues over the past six months, attended ten meetings, and did a free guest speaker session for the group. It?s gradually become clear though that the chances of gaining new customers from this organization are very slim. Should Joe continue paying monthly dues and actively finish out his annual membership or end his membership immediately?

What if Cathy Entrepreneur was contemplating newly joining the same organization? Should she invest money and time in this area?

Regardless of your answer for Joe, it likely took some consideration on your part, whereas an immediate ?no way? should have come to mind with Cathy. This is known as a sunk cost effect.

Once time, effort, and/or money are invested towards a goal we are naturally reluctant to lose these ?sunk costs?. This reluctance keeps many of us in business situations that are no longer ideal, as if by staying in the situation we can somehow justify or recoup our investment. The larger our investment, the more determined we become to stay the course. So when what started as a smart investment devolves to something less desirable, we are very slow to cut our losses and walk away.

The key to avoiding investment traps is to reevaluate situations in the present, without undue consideration given to past investment. Ask yourself: Would I pursue this course of action if I was freshly presented the opportunity today? Given this perspective, you might get rid of a draining client, dump a losing investment, or drop an under performing business pursuit. If you?re still reluctant to cut your losses, remind yourself that time and money are limited resources. You want to invest your resources where they can get the maximum return.

It?s said that better judgment comes from experience. Fortunately, it doesn?t have to be your own experience. Anchoring and investment traps have been identified and examined by academic researchers extensively. Put this knowledge to use and it will vastly improve the quality of your business decisions and ultimately increase the success of your business.

About the Author

About the Author: Kimberly Merriman is a business writer and educator based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at kkm@kkmerriman. com.

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Starting Home Business Part 1 of 3. Thousands of Americans every year follow their dreams and start a home business.&nbsp; You can too, and you won't believe just how easy it can be

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By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Thursday, July 10, 2003; 1:20pm EST

Starting a home business is easier than you may think. Although there are a number of steps involved, most of them are more easily obtainable than you may think and require little up-front investment. In particular, businesses based on revenue from a web business requires some of the least amount of capital expenditures and setup. Resulting in the highest potential for a return on your investment and efforts.

Having an entrepreneurial mindset is the key to unlocking the creativity, determination and willingness to get through such a checklist and produce a profit generating business. However, even if you are unfamiliar with the world of business, and have had little exposure to the elements of business, it is still absolutely possible, with strong willingness to learn, research and work, to achieve excellent results. Starting a home business is not limited to people who have had years of background and experience. It is something that is available to each and every person that has the will power and desire to succeed.

This three part article will take you through a checklist of important items you should consider when starting your own home business. If starting a business seems like a daunting task to you, the checklist will help simplify the process by breaking it down into more manageable components and describing them in detail. Tips and pointers will also be given throughout the article to get you on the right track.

1. Mission Statement / Business Objectives

The most important thing you can do is be completely clear in your mind from day one what your business objectives and goals are and how you are going to achieve them. Set milestones, revenue goals and have a feeling of where you want the business to go. 

Determine who your competitors are; the benefits of your offerings over the competitions; the target audience of your product; how your products and services will cover costs and create profit; and the lifespan of your product cycles. All of which should be captured on paper in the form of a mission statement and a business plan. Both of which, however, may not always remain concrete throughout the life of your business. As your business grows and matures, you may make modifications to your original business plan to adapt to current market conditions, expectations and other factors. When these changes come into play, it is important to evaluate them against your original mission statement to be sure you are not losing focus on the fundamentals of what your business is all about. If it is inline with the basis of your business, revise or append the plan to meet your current needs while always retaining the original. There have been many cases throughout history where companies small and large have wandered away from their mission statement with disastrous consequences. This is because they became unfocused and became unaligned with their goals. Keeping focused and up to date with your written business plan, and always keeping your mission statement in mind is always advisable. Actually envisioning your company say 3, 5 and 10 years down the road - so that you have a mental picture of where you want things can help as well. Just as a runner in a race envisioning being number one through the finish line has a greater chance of accomplishing that goal.

2. Branding, Logo, Marketing

The critical importance of having the right branding, logo and marketed image cannot be stressed enough. Time and time again you will discover how much people will use your logo or your brand name as a basis of whether or not they can identify with your company, products or services. Therefore careful attention must be paid to developing a brand and image that is highly consistent with the expectations of your potential client base. Branding such as your logo in an advertisement is sometimes the very first impression a person will get of your company - therefore, like the old adage says, make that first impression the right impression. Every piece of marketing material you send out should shout the values that are important to your customers. Professional development of your branding, logo, and related materials is recommended.

3. Stationary, Branded Materials

Once your branding and logos have been established, use them! Everything from your business cards, outgoing faxes, envelopes, letterheads, right down to the coffee mug you hold - should all be leveraged to promote brand awareness. Think of it this way, if all of these things will be used anyway, such as envelopes, utilizing them as an advertising medium is a cost effective way in building mindshare. Since advertising in newspapers, television and billboards is expensive - it is important to be creative in your efforts to get the word out about your business. Creating mind share (peoples ability to recall your businesses name when thinking of the products or services that your company offer, example when thinking "I want a cold beverage", and recalling "Coca-Cola") has a lot to do with repetition in marketing (sometimes to the point of saturation), experiences with the brand, and many other factors. You can start this process by increasing the number of potential times a customer or potential customer will see your branding and associate it with a positive experience.

4. Incorporating

Yet another important initial step is the incorporation of your company. Depending on the country you will be based in there is typically two ways of starting your company (in the eyes of the government). One way is to register a 'business name', the other is to 'incorporate'.

Business Name

By registering a business name, what you are essentially doing is attaching a company name to yourself. You become the company. Revenue generated through this business name is typically taxed at your personal income rate, and the amount of things you can 'write-off' as a business expense and other tax advantages are somewhat limited. A negative aspect of this approach is your liability in the event the company fails or is subject to litigation. Since your company and you are one, you stand the possibility of losing personal possessions and the damage of credit ratings - rather than isolating the liability of the company to the company its self.

Incorporation

Incorporating is literally like creating a new entity in the eyes of the government. And this entity acts as a company. This company functions completely independently from yourself, and you become the company's 'sole proprietor', meaning you have been designated as the person which overlooks the operation of the company. You also become an actual employee of your own company as well, for such things as management of payroll. This way money the company generates and retains within the company will be taxed at a corporate rate, while money which is paid to you or others that are part of your company are taxed at the individuals personal tax rate. Corporations require their own bank accounts, checking, and other financial details - they cannot share your personal accounts as with using a business name. However, in the event of such things as bankruptcy or litigation - it is isolated to the company entity its self. This has the stronger likelihood of preventing such things as personal bankruptcy, personal liability, credit damage, liquidation of personal assets (house, furniture). Of course keep in mind that your own actions may cause you to incur personal bankruptcy, decrease in your credit rating or be subject to litigation.

Incorporating also offers some excellent opportunities for tax savings and ability to claim expenses, capitol costs and other things. Items such as your car, office space etc can all be expenses which will fall under your business as tax write-offs. This is the area where registering a business name is much weaker at achieving. You can then take advantage of this by using a company car versus a personal car, write off part of your home mortgage by claiming square feet of your property as office space. All of which has the potential to save you money both in the short and long term. Therefore it is very important to have an accountant that is very familiar with corporate accounting and how to maximize your tax savings. Be sure to set up an appointment with a reputable corporate tax specialist to help advise you on the best ways to conduct your purchases and route revenues generated. Although a corporate accountant can be expensive, they will also save you a lot in recuperated tax. For example, leasing a company car will typically allow for a much better tax savings than purchasing the car and allowing it to depreciate - accountants are great at this sort of thing, and as a business owner starting your business, you don't have time to research all of this yourself - let the people that know it best, advise you.

Go Directly to Part << [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] >>

In the next part of this article, we will examine the following:

    Trade Marking

    Copyrighting

    Advertising and Marketing

    Software and Licensing

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding this article or interest in the services available from Visca Consulting.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/

 

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What to Do If There-s Limited Parking Near Your Store

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Your new store may be just what the neighborhood needs, but if people can’t easily find a free parking space within a few blocks, you may find it difficult to build up a customer base. Here are a few strategies for overcoming parking issues.

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Five Ways to Use Green To Grow Your Business with Marketing and PR

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Green messaging is everywhere these days – from billboards to magazine advertisements, restaurant menus to gas pumps. There’s a reason for that. While going green can drive down costs and can mean big savings from an operations standpoint, the flip side of the sustainability coin is the opportunity it presents to expose your product or service to the more than 40 million U. S. consumers who identify themselves as green. This sector represents about 20 percent of U. S. adults, and is expected to grow by an additional 38 percent over the next three to ten years. And they have money to spend. Despite the recent economic downturn, two-thirds of these consumers say they are spending just as much (and 25 percent say they’re spending more) than they were before the recession.

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3 Elements For a Successful Home Business

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Jim Noel

Wednesday, October 27, 2004; 2:00pm EST

Product, Leads, and advertising the 3 most important elements of any successful home based business.

For this article we will focus on leads. Leads are people that are interested in making money from home. How do we know this?

For starters, they have either put an ad on the internet stating they want a home based business, or they have filled out a form with one of the lead generation companies.

Now how do we go about getting these so called leads? Some businesses put a simple questioner out over the internet that people can access to answer some simple questions.

These questions are usually, how much time a week you can put towards your business, how much money can you invest in your business, why do you want to work from home, etc.

These questioners are usually short and to the point. Once all this information is gathered the business then contacts that individual to sell them on his business opportunity.

Another way to find leads is through the lead generation companies that are on the internet. There business is to compile all the information and then sell it to business owners to use.

This is where it gets touchy. Today there are so many of these ?so called? email list, lead lists etc. How do you know who is legit and who isn?t?

My rule of thumb on this is, a company offering a large amount (over 5000) leads a month is probably not a very good source.

So what makes a good source to find leads? Well what you want to look at is companies that offer what we call ?double opt-in? leads.

What that means is each lead had to fill out one of those questioners and had to put a valid email address on that questioner, so that company could email them for confirmation.

That is double opt-in, that person filed out the form, and then got an email from the company asking if they filed out the form. If they did they hit a link that would confirm that to the company.

Then you want to look to see if that company also supplies the address, phone, IP address of the lead.

And what I think is most important, does the company offer leads that are spam compliant! This means you will not be accused of spam when you contact that lead! And will this lead be unique to you.

What I mean by unique to you is, once that lead shows up on your list, it will not show up on anyone else?s lead list.

And last but not least price! Please don?t think that the higher the fee the better the leads will be. This is definitely not true; I can vouch for that one.

I have used lead sources to promote my business that cost anywhere from $30 a month for 1000 leads, to $150 a month for 4000 leads. Which do you think I had the better luck with?

You guessed it, the one that gave me 1000 leads for $30 a month was the best deal, and I am averaging about a 28% signup to my business.

It does not sound like a lot, but think, that is 280 people a month, and if only 100 of those do any business for me, that is a bunch of money in my pocket each month. And all that for $30 a month.

So remember when choosing a lead generation company, look for price, double opt-in lead, spam compliant, unique to you, all pert ant information for the lead, and of course how many leads do you get each month!

About the Author Jim Noel is a member of LeadsRus and has used it to triple his home business revenue. More information go to: http://www. sequential-mktg-grp. com/members/401/

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Preparing Your Business for the Next Big Hurricane

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Although Hurricane Irene wasn’t as ferocious as many people anticipated, the storm still caused plenty of damage to homes and businesses all over the East Coast. If you didn’t do enough to prepare your business ahead of time, you may be dealing with the repercussions now. Here are a few ways to prevent problems the next time a major weather event is forecast in your area.

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In the Trenches: Getting Connected Overseas

. Posted in how to.. in small business

In my business, I need to be connected pretty much all the time. That-s easy to do when I-m in the U. S., but when I leave, it-s a whole different story. Staying connected abroad is still insanely expensive and incredibly frustrating.

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Solvate CEO on Helping Creatives Find, Companies Fill Contract Jobs

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Looking for a new opportunity? Freelancing could be your best option. Nearly seven in 10 new hires last year were free agents, and one in four people now work on a contract basis, according to figures from Solvate. com, an online marketplace for creative, marketing, and digital freelance professionals. The service charges a subscription-based fee to clients and receives a commission from its talent pool, which sets its own rates. We recently asked Michael Paolucci, the company’s co-founder and CEO, about his value proposition — and what sets his service apart from other job boards.

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Affiliate Marketing - Ten Great Reasons To Do It

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Elaine Currie

Wednesday, March 23, 2005; 6:15pm EST

There are many opportunities to make money working on the Internet. Becoming an affiliate marketer is a great way of having your own online business. Here are ten excellent reasons why you should choose affiliate marketing for your home based business.

1. Be Your Own Boss - What a magical ring that phrase has to it! This is my absolute favourite reason for being an affiliate marketer. Actually, it is my top reason for having any home based business.

2. Low cost set-up - Most affiliate programmes are free to join, so all you need to start your business is an Internet-connected computer and word-processing software. You can work from absolutely anywhere in the world and it makes no difference whether you have a cosy office or work from a corner of your kitchen table.

3. No shipping costs - You don't need to worry about paying for postage or buying packing stuff such as boxes, wrapping paper, parcel tape, labels and so on. You never have to struggle with carrying heavy packages to the post office. The cost and bother of packing and shipping products to customers belongs to the merchant, not the affiliate.

4. Choice of thousands of products and services - All you have to do is decide what you want to sell (and, of course, what you think people will want to buy), just about everything is available online. With affiliate directories like Clickbank it's easy to find products to sell.

5. No merchant account or invoicing software required - You can forget the problems associated with invoicing, collecting payments and processing credit cards. The merchant handles all payment processing; as an affiliate, you never have to worry about chargebacks, fraud or losing your merchant account.

6. On sale everywhere - Your sales area has no geographic limits but you don't have to leave home. You can promote your web site worldwide, every Internet user in the whole world is potentially your customer (and you call this a small business!).

7. High income potential - With your own affiliate business your income level is limited only by your desire and effort - not by corporate salary scale structure or the whim of your boss.

8. No inventory to carry - You can sell any item, large or small without having to worry about storage space. You could sell trucks from a one-bedroom apartment! You don't have to the worry or expense of insuring stock or having extra security to protect it.

9. Low running costs - Apart from a modest budget for advertising and a small amount to pay for your internet connection, you have nothing much in the way of overheads. You work from home, so the big expense of renting premises is avoided and it is possible to get income tax reductions to cover some things such as part of your electricity and phone bills.

10.Always open for business - As an affiliate, your business keeps running and pulling in profits for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on Bank Holidays. You are open for business even while you are asleep. You don't have to worry about business hours or delivery deadlines, all that proceeds on autopilot. You don't have to worry about scheduling staff holidays: you don't even need any staff!

About the Author

This is one of a series of articles published by

the author, Elaine Currie, BA(Hons) at

http://www. Huntingvenus. com

Subscribe to Online Profit newsletter by

mailto:huntingvenus@SubscribeMeNow. com

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Use StumbleUpon to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

. Posted in how to.. in small business

The popular discovery engine StumbleUpon is a great resource for finding tasty new recipes and amusing cat * - s, but did you know that it’s also a savvy way to send extremely targeted traffic to your small-business site? In fact, StumbleUpon drives even more social media traffic than Facebook does.

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Bite Your Tongue

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Kelley Robertson

Tuesday, June 20 2005; 11:00am EST

Most people don?t realize how powerful a negotiating tool silence is. I discovered exactly how effective as I recently observed someone discussing a deal with a prospective customer this past week.

The customer started describing his situation and after a few moments he paused ? briefly. It was an opportune time for the sales person to make a comment or talk about her product and service. However, she remained silent, sensing that the customer had more to say. Her intuition proved correct - a few seconds later he continued talking about his needs, and when he had finished discussing his point he paused. The sales person refrained from speaking and her customer began talking again.

During this last monologue the sales person learned the exact information that she needed to close the sale without resorting to discounting. If she had spoken during those moments of silence, she may still have closed the sale but not as effectively.

I remember watching my wife use silence as a customer several years ago in a retail store. She had brought a few items to the cash desk and when the sales associate rang them in my wife noticed a discrepancy in price. When she questioned this difference, the employee mentioned that the items in question were not available for the price my wife had thought. Instead of complaining or arguing my wife chose to remain silent. The sales associate immediately began talking to fill up the ?dead air? space, and before long, had talked herself into giving my wife the discount she had hoped for.

The next time you meet with a client or customer ? either face-to-face or over the telephone ? bite your tongue. Resist the temptation to talk immediately after they have spoken. Instead, pause for a few moments. Because most people are uncomfortable with silence they will automatically say something. This is a very effective recruiting technique (called the pregnant pause) and it can be used in the sales process as well.

Here are a few other situations when biting your tongue will benefit you:

1. After you ask a question. I?ve seen more sales people answer their own questions instead of holding back and allowing their customer to talk. Let a customer tell you what?s on their mind and encourage them to give you more information. This is extremely easy to do when you refrain from talking after asking someone a question.

2. Anytime you ask for the sale. When you ask a person to make a financial commitment (aka a buying decision) you need to give them time to think about their decision and to respond. Too many sales people talk themselves out of a sale by continuing to speak afterwards. I recall one sales person telling me he would give me time to make a decision even though I had told him I wanted his product.

3. When you are not sure what to say next. From time to time, I have found myself unsure of what I should say after a comment made a prospect or customer. In these situations, an effective approach is to remain silent. It takes patience and a lot of control. However, in most cases, the other person will fill up that dead air space and give you information you would not have learned otherwise.

4. When people express disappointment. In situations of conflict our natural tendency is to explain why something went wrong or to immediately offer a solution. However, allowing people the opportunity to vent gives you the chance to offer the best possible solution. Many years ago I had a disgruntled employee and I gave her time to express her opinions. After several minutes of heated words and angry dialogue, I discovered that all she really wanted from me was the opportunity to vent her frustration. In another situation, my customer actually told me what he wanted done which was less than I had originally planned to offer.

I remember reading the following advice from an author some years ago ? spend one day every few months being as quiet as possible and responding only when it adds value to that particular conversation. This will be incredibly difficult for the majority of people but imagine how much you will hear and learn that day.

Most people who sell a product or service mistakenly think that they must do most of the talking. However, my experience has taught me that some of the best sales people are also the quietest. And it?s because they actually hear what their customer or prospect has to say. They learn what?s important to that person. They find out the motivating factors behind the purchase. They allow the other person to dominate the conversation. And let?s face it, the majority of people will always talk when given the opportunity.

About the Author

? 2005 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved

Kelley Robertson, President of the Robertson Training Group, works with businesses to help them increase their sales and motivate their employees. He is also the author of ?Stop, Ask & Listen ? Proven Sales Techniques To Turn Browsers Into Buyers.? Receive a FREE copy of ?100 Ways to Increase Your Sales? by subscribing to his free sales and motivational newsletter available at www. kelleyrobertson. com. Contact him at 905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup. com

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How to Start a Baking Business Without a Commercial Kitchen

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Most state laws mandate that any food products sold to the public must be prepared in a commercial kitchen. But opening a retail bakery is a big investment for an unproven business. For example, when Erin McKenna founded the vegan bakery BabyCakes NYC in 2006, she was out some $38,000 in startup costs for construction, equipment, inventory, and permits, and more than $11,600 in monthly expenses for rent and utilities, staffing, inventory, and insurance. If you don’t have access to that kind of dough, here are a few other ways to bring your baking business to life.

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Largest Online News Website Launches

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Dana Greenlee, WebTalk Radio

Monday, June 7, 2004; 12:00pm EST

A conversation with CEO Rich Skrenta...

News and information online is so vast that it can be unmanageable in its volume. This is precisely why news aggregation search Websites like Yahoo News and Google News are growing like crazy. Last month marks the launch of a new entry - Topix. net, said to be the world?s largest online news Website with over 150,000 news categories and news sources from around the world.

Rich Skrenta, CEO of Topix. net and co-founder of Netscape?s Open Directory Project took a few minutes out of his news day to explain his huge online news creation.

Q: What does your site do and how does it work?

Skrenta: Topix. net is reading all of the news published online constantly and categorizing stories, both geographically as well as by subject. We?ve got a basic news roll-up for every zip code in the United States ? for 30,000 towns across the U. S. We also have 150,000 subject categories. We have a page about every sports team, about every celebrity, every music style. We even have a page about mobile home manufacturing, which has a surprisingly large amount of news on it.

Q: You can?t fit 30,000 zip codes on your front page. Does the cream of the crop rise to the top so that when you go to your home page you see some of the major hot topics?

Skrenta: We have links to the major cities in the country and users can type in zip codes and go to a page just for news about their town. We?ve got some of the categories surfaced on our front page: U. S. and world news, journalism news, health, technology ? basically a random assortment of categories from deep within our system. But to get the full experience of Topix, you have to click around and experience the full breadth by viewing the internal parts of the site.

Q: There are a lot of people saying you?re the largest news Website that?s ever been created. Would that be a true statement?

Skrenta: Based on the number of categories, yes. If you look at Google News, they?ve got eight categories: health, politics, entertainment, sports and so on, basically corresponding to the standard Associated Press taxonomy. Yahoo News has 100 full coverage sections. We have 150,000 pages. Our goal is to have a page constantly updated from the broadest variety of sources about every person, place and thing in the world. We haven?t done every person, place or thing yet, but we?ve done the first 150,000. We?ve got a page about every public company. There are 5,500 public companies. We?re tracking references to every disease and drug - both brand and generic - 21,000 sports personalities, 45,000 celebrities, anyone who?s ever been in a movie, anyone who?s ever put out a music album.

Q: Building out your keyword database ? you must have spent a lot of long nights working.

Skrenta: Yeah ? it?s a massive knowledge base which drives our system in conjunction with some artificial intelligence that we developed. The knowledge base knows the name of every street in the country, every bridge, tunnel, hospital, school, body of water, baseball stadium, park ? in addition to the other subjects and keywords its looking for. It?s about 10 million lines of text that are constantly being looked for in every story that comes through our system.

Q: What?s the difference between what Topix. net is doing and what Google is doing in terms of the broad picture of what you?re actually indexing?

Skrenta: If you go to Google News and want to get information about, say, IBM, you?d find a lot of stories that contained the three letters ?IBM,? but it might not be a good relevant overview of IBM?s current business. When we look at a story, we?re trying to determine not just if a story contains certain keywords, but actually if it?s about the concept that our topic is about.

A story we recently saw said, ?Dot-com survivors have aged like fine bordeaux.? Now this is a reference to a style of wine and we have a wine page in Topix, but it?s not a wine story. It?s a business story. It?s a stray reference to something else. If you search for bordeaux on Google News, you would get this story. But it?s not what you?re looking for. Our system can tell the difference between stray references to concepts and stories that are actually about the concept.

Q: You come from an incredible background of creating things we now take for granted on the Web. Have you now created this artificial intelligence (AI) that?s just proprietary to Topix that no one else has duplicated?

Skrenta: Yeah, it?s pretty unique in the industry. I haven?t seen anything else like it. We looked at what had been done in academic AI. If you?re going to develop an AI technique, 85 percent accuracy is pretty good. But for our purposes, we had to get far above 85 percent to make the stories look good on a page. If our AI was only 85 percent, that would mean that on every one of our pages, 2-3 stories would be bad. We had to get way above 99 percent.

Q: It?s a pleasing site. You don?t get just a list of headlines; it?s formatted beautifully and very well organized. It?s a pleasure to read and it?s exciting.

Skrenta: I?m glad to hear you say that. When we looked at creating a look and feel for the site, we looked at a bunch of newspaper sites out there. I didn?t really feel like a lot of them looked like a newspaper. The Wall Street Journal Online is the one that was closest to a newspaper look and feel.

We did some research and found that newspaper layout design is actually a rich feel with a 150-year history and there are books and guidelines about rules to follow to make things visually appealing in a print newspaper. Things like if you have a photo to a story and the photo is a picture of a person in profile, the person should be facing the text of the story; very subtle, not obvious rules about how to do newspaper layout properly. When we looked at online newspapers, many didn?t follow any of these rules at all. I couldn?t figure out why ? maybe the separation between the print and online divisions at the company. We thought we?d bring some of these rules to bear on a Website design, adapt it to the Web and come up with something a little more reminiscent of a newspaper.

Q: You were one of the founders of the Open Directory Project. What did you learn from building the Open Directory that you?ve applied to this new site?

Skrenta: The Open Directory was built with 60,000 volunteer editors. We built a giant Web directory similar to Yahoo, but 3-4 times bigger than Yahoo Directory. It?s actually the directory tab on Google. com, in addition to being used by AOL and Netscape. It was a very successful project, but we sort of took the opposite tact with Topix. net. We have zero human editors at Topix ? it?s all done with AI. Humans are really good at some tasks, but the scale of what we?re doing here is just so vast that we couldn?t have humans manually editing stories or selecting topics or categorizing them. It?s too big a project for even 60,000 people to undertake.

Q: What?s fascinating is what it seems like what you?re building is somewhat of a dynamically populated directory. It looks like you still have that focus on categorizations of content, which is different than a regular search engine. Was your vision to create a directory-type of search engine?

Skrenta: What we?re trying to do is classify text by concept instead of keyword. When you go to Google and type in a name like Scott Peterson or Janet Jackson, these are actually relatively common names. There are thousands of people in the country with those names. Some of them make it into the media, besides the ones we commonly think of. We wanted a system that could be intelligent enough to decide a document was actually about that concept as opposed to being a strict keyword match.

About Source of Article Dana Greenlee is producer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show.  WebTalkGuys, a Seattle-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. It is broadcast on WebTalkGuys Radio, Sonic Box, via Pocket PC at Mazingo Networks and the telephone via the Mobile Broadcast Network.  It's on the radio in Seattle at KLAY 1180 AM.  Past show and interviews are also webcast via the Internet at http://www. webtalkguys. com/. Greenlee is also a member of the The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.

 

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Selecting Affiliate Programs That Work for You

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Thomas Wall

Wednesday, November 10, 2004; 6:10pm EST

Affiliate programs are a great means of earning some handy cash; but not all affiliate programs are profitable. Some will only take up your time and energy and some others may even spoil your website reputation. This is why you got to carefully select your affiliate marketing programs and make sure that they work for you same as your work for them. Given below are a few points that will help you make better decision in choosing an affiliate program that works for you rather than working only for the affiliate merchant.

Points to take into consideration before selecting an affiliate program

1.) Your website and your visitors

If you already have a website, make sure to go for affiliate programs that jell with your website theme. If your website is about cars then promoting cycle related products is going to have very less or no impact.

Secondly finding and scrutinizing your visitors and your target market is a good idea. In any affiliate program, your visitor is the one who is going to get you returns. So primarily get to know your visitors. Analyze your visitor behavior using your website statistics before deciding on which affiliate program to go for. Your objective should be to find out what your visitors are looking for and then promote products of their interest which also match with your existing products or services (if any).

2.) Affiliate merchant?s website

Most affiliates don?t give much importance to the affiliate merchant?s website, forgetting the fact that here?s where the actual sales conversion is to take place. It?s very important that the affiliate merchant?s website is designed to sell. So check and make sure that the merchant?s website is free from unwanted banner advertisements/pop-ups and focus on the affiliate product.

Other important things to check out are the sales copy, privacy policy, product guarantees, after sales service and special discounts/offers available with the product/service. Your main aim must be to find out if the product/service features would actually prompt the referred visitor to make a purchase.

Some affiliate merchants promote more than one product/service on a webpage which can dilute the conversion rate. It is best to go for affiliate programs that focus on a single product/service per webpage.

3.) Quality of goods/services

Just imagine how you would feel, if you were referred by a website to a product that turned out to be of inferior quality? Your visitors will feel the same way about your website if you promote inferior or overly priced goods/services. Always make sure to know about the product/service you are planning to promote. Check for testimonials and references from existing customers to find out about the quality of goods. If possible you can even plan on using them yourself to be on the safer side. In addition, also make sure to compare similar products available over the internet for features and rates.

There are many products that have trial periods or return policies associated with them. Products having return policies can increase the conversion rate but may also lead to debiting in case of a chargeback. Promoting products sold on a trial period basis requires cookie detection to track sales at the end of the period which is very unreliable. So it?s better to confirm with the affiliate merchant the tracking method used or the affiliate payment scheme, in case the products have trial periods.

4.) Reputation of the affiliate merchant

The reputation of the affiliate merchant is important because the odds are against you. There are chances that some affiliate merchants may not payout or make deductions to your actual payments. So make sure to find out using references about the affiliate merchant?s history of making proper payments.

Already existing affiliates of the affiliate merchant are your best source of information. In addition be sure to read their business literature to get an idea about their history of past and present operations.

5.) Commission scheme of the affiliate program

There are many different types of commission schemes that affiliate programs use to reward their affiliates. Some of the most popular ones are pay per click, pay per lead and pay per sale schemes. Some others even offer two tiered and multi tiered commission schemes. Some commission schemes can even be a mix and match of the above.

In case of a pay per click/hit scheme the minimum commission that you can expect is $0.5 to $0.10 per click. For pay per sale a good commission rate would be 15% to 50%. Some companies even offer lifetime commissions, but as most of them are based on cookie identification, they may not work out well.

With the competition increasing almost all merchants have started offering two tiered commissions, some even offer multi tiered ones. Joining these schemes can give you a chance to get paid for the direct sales you make and also for the sales made by affiliates referred by you.

6.) Tracking software used

Tracking software is used by the affiliate merchant to track individual affiliate sales. An affiliate merchant can make use of in-house tracking software, join an affiliate network or use services of an ASP in order to track leads.

In case the affiliate merchant makes use of independent tracking software or ASP services, make sure to find out if the software is reliable and has the ability to track all kinds of sales. If the software uses cookie tracking, find out the duration of the cookie. Although using cookies to track affiliates does not always work fine as the cookies can be deleted by the buyer.

Most affiliate merchants today make use of affiliate network services. Affiliate network services are the safest when it comes to making payments on time, conflict resolution and accurate tracking. Affiliate Networks are also great sources to find good affiliate programs and can help you get payments from different merchants through a single cheque. So make sure to register at some good networks. Some reputed affiliate network services are commission junction, LinkShare, Clickxgalore, and ClickTrade.

7.) Terms and conditions for payment

You do all the hard work as an affiliate and hence you should make sure that you get paid for it. There are chances that the affiliate merchant might have some unwanted rules and regulations in his affiliate agreement; so in-case you don?t like to get a bitter shock in the aftermath, be sure to check out the terms and conditions with utmost care. Some things that you got to look out for in the terms and conditions are as follows,

a.) Payment frequency/Payout rate

Make sure that the affiliate merchant makes payments at the end of every month or with - in a few days afterward. Anything above 2 months for making payments is not advisable. Also find out the mode of making payments. Payment gateways are safer and faster as compared to cheques.

b.) Payment for future sales

Many visitors won?t buy products on their first visit. They might come back though after some time to make the purchase. Make sure that the affiliate merchant pays you for future sales made by a customer referred by you. Although the chances that you get credit for future sales is low due to cookie deletion possibilities, but it is better to have options open.

c.) Minimum Balance Amount for payout

Most affiliate merchants and affiliate networks have a minimum amount for payout. An affiliate would require reaching that amount to get a payment. Find out the minimum balance and estimate if the target is easily achievable for the given product/service.

d.) Roll over/carry over terms

Roll-overs or carry-overs are related to the minimum balance. If the affiliate fails to achieve the minimum balance within a month (or the set payment date), the payment keeps rolling on. Although this is not a problem, some merchant?s may have a fixed rollover period after which the payments will not be issued. Joining such programs is not recommended.

e.) Conditions for Charge-backs on product return

Some merchants have a product return policy which allows the buyer to get full refund in-case he is dissatisfied with the product. The period within which the buyer should return the product to get a refund is called the chargeback period. Make sure to take note of the chargeback period of the merchant and also find out how much of your commission will be debited if this happens. Although products having a return policy will have a better conversion rate they can also lead to the affiliate?s cash getting debited or completely taken back.

In addition to the payment terms some other conditions that you got to check out are the ?condition of exclusivity? (which could mean the affiliate cannot promote any other product except the affiliate product/service or that he should not promote competitor products/services) and conflict resolution method of the merchant.

8.) Additional facilities offered

In addition to simply offering banner ads most good affiliate merchants offer other facilities like, real time sales statistics and tracking information, free training on how to promote the products/services, newsletters, affiliate help lines and even website improvement programs. Some affiliate merchants even offer their affiliates a say in their decision making process.

Many good affiliate merchants also have a policy of rewarding better performing affiliates with incentives, over and above the commissions. Joining such programs can really be a rewarding experience.

To succeed in the affiliate marketing game requires knowledge of promoting goods/services not only through your website but also using other online promotion means like email marketing, online advertisements etc. So, make it a point to do lots of reading and information gathering before plunging into the arena. There are many websites that offer quality resources and information on affiliate programs. Some good ones to refer are http://www. bizbrim. com, affiliate-programs-guide. com and affiliatesdirectory. com.

About the Author

http://www. buytemplates. net is a leading web templates provider and has hundreds of great looking, website templates in various categories that come at surprisingly affordable prices. Apart from offering copyrighted and non-copyrighted web templates, this site also offers allied services like custom templates, content insertion service, search engine optimization service.

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