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Home Business - 9 to 5 Tug of War

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By Elena Fawkner

Friday, November 19, 2003; 12:00pm EST

Perhaps the scarcest commodity the new home business owner just starting out has is time. This is particularly so if you are also working a traditional, full-time job and building up your home based business "on the side" in your spare time.

This is a situation I am all too familiar with. I still work a full-time 8:30 - 5:00 job while building my own internet-based business in my spare time. So how do you go about burning the candle at both ends without burning yourself out in the process?

First off, let's think about priorities. Working a full-time job while developing a business requires stamina and endurance if other areas of your life are not to be neglected. This means being fit and healthy. Make time to exercise at least three times a week. Four or five is better. I know how hard it can be to commit an hour to working out when you've got an endless (and I mean ENDLESS!) list of things you need to be doing NOW for your business. But make the time. It pays BIG dividends in terms of stamina and endurance. For me, this means getting up at 4:00 am on workout days. If that's what it takes for you, do it!

Second, eat right. Don't just grab a McBurger on the way home from work and scoff it down as you're driving. Take the time to cook a proper meal and relax for a half hour or an hour before getting down to business. This gives you a break and time to unwind from the pressures of the day, making you much more productive when you do get down to work. Eating proper meals will keep you in good health and, coupled with a regular exercise routine, will help keep your energy levels high.

OK, so you're physically in shape and taking care of yourself. The next major thing to think about is time management. Every weekend, before the working week starts, prepare a business plan for the coming week. This is nothing more complicated that writing down the various business-related activities you must do over the course of the coming week and then scheduling them according to how much time you know you are going to have on a particular day. By planning out your time this way, you can schedule your business activities alongside your other activities. Take care of as many of them as you can through the course of the day. Whether you are able to do this depends on the nature of your 9 to 5 job but if you have even a little autonomy you should be able to squeeze out a little time here and there. Not huge chunks, just 10 minutes here and there.

The nature of your job may mean you don't have the luxury of that sort of autonomy. If this is you, then there's nothing for it but to free up time before and after work. This may mean getting up an hour earlier every day, for example. Whatever your personal situation, by planning ahead you will at least have the peace of mind of knowing that time has been allocated to all important business-related tasks.

By eliminating the "scatter gun" approach you will find that the limited time you do have will be much more productive.

There are going to be some activities that you have to do day in, day out. Decide what time of the day is best for you to attend to these routine tasks. The more you can integrate business activities into your daily routine the more efficient will be your use of time. Let's take email, for example. Anyone running an online business has to deal with email on a daily basis. I use the time between when I get up in the morning and when I start my workout for this. It gives me time to wake up before I launch into physical activity and it is a relatively undemanding task that does not require precision concentration.

Make use of auto responders for as much of your email processing as possible. This will further reduce the amount of time you have to spend on this aspect of your business.

Other routine activities include things like site promotion and search engine position monitoring. Now there are a lot of great tools to help webmasters with this part of their business. For example, WebPosition Gold will automatically review your position in all the major search engines and report back to you with the results. It can also be programmed to auto-submit at appropriate intervals. Be sure to use quality automated tools wherever possible. They can save you literally hours of work every week and as we all know, time is money in this business.

Keep a journal for a week. Record in it everything you do during the day from the moment you get up in the morning to the moment you go to bed. What activities can you eliminate in favor of freeing up some time for your business? Maybe it means getting up an hour earlier. Maybe it's forgoing the sleep-in on the weekend. Maybe it means giving up those two hours of TV every night. You will find even 15-20 minutes blocks here and there can add up to a sizeable chunk of time over a week or a month.

If you travel, keep a copy of your website on your laptop and work on it while you're in the air or waiting for a flight. Or answer your email ready to send it when you get plugged in again.

As you can see, the trick is to practice the "nibble" technique. If you wait until you have a great chunk of time in one block, such as the weekend, you'll only waste all of those little bits of time you could have put to good use during the week and fritter away your "quality" time on routine tasks rather than business development.

One final piece of advice. Take time every week to just relax and do something you want to do. Although the pressures of a new business are demanding, failing to take time out will only lead to burn out.

Source of Article Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online... practical home business ideas for the work-from-home entrepreneur. Visit http://www. ahbbo. com/.

 

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Affiliate Program

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By Adam Buhler

Friday, November 7, 2003; 1:00pm EST

If we could all have one wish granted chances are most of us would wish for a huge flood of sales. That is the point right? We're all in the game to make (at the very least) a little extra pocket money. There's only one problem. Sales don't come easy. Unless you receive hundreds, or even thousands of visitors to your website each and every day you end up struggling just to break even.

This is especially true for 'newbies' who are just learning what it takes to be successful online. Most don't have the benefits of a huge opt-in mailing list to promote to, or hundreds of dollars to invest in getting set up, heck, some don't even have a website to send visitors to!

Chances are, if you fall into any of these categories your 'driving yourself insane' and spending long sleepless (unproductive) nights searching for that 'magic bullet' that will open the floodgates and secure you a spot on easy street.

Unfortunately it's not that easy. On the other hand, it's not extremely difficult either. It's a proven fact that most (around 98%) of affiliates who receive a check never make any serious money. A check here and there, usually the bare minimum payout. So they continue the struggle. Night after night, day after day, week after week, etc.. Swapping ads, posting to ffa pages, and writing articles, desperately seeking another 'one hit wonder'.

There's a better way. Instead of drudging along, a sale here and there, concentrate your efforts on products and programs that pay you over and over again for the initial sale. This is called recurring or 'passive' income.

Imagine making a sale for a $30 product. Now let's say you make a generous 50% commission for each sale of this product. That's a modest $15. Now instead of the one time $15, let's pretend you are selling a product that pays recurring (passive) commissions.

You will automatically make that same $15 at the beginning of each month! So instead of starting from square one each month you can calculate exactly how much 'start up income' you stand to earn at the beginning of the month. For as long as your visitor remains a customer.

Will you eventually lose some of these customers? Yes, but in the meantime you'll be setting up more 'passive' income for the next month. This begins what I like to call a 'snowball effect' and your income can add up FAST.

You'll find a good deal of programs that offer 'passive' income so sticking with your targeted niche is usually not a problem. A few examples of programs that offer ongoing commissions are web hosting, autoresponders, Isp services, membership sites, email accounts, etc..

By achieving just a handful of sales each month with a program that offers ongoing commissions you can stand to make hundreds of dollars off of what began as a single sale. Good luck, now go out and start building those snowballs.

About Source of Article Adam Buhler is the publisher of the Affiliate Secrets Newsletter http://www. smokesoft. net/newsletter. html. For more information on how you can profit over and over without a product, mailing list, or even a website visit: http://www. smokesoft. net/passive. html.

 

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Answer Prospect's Questions, Before They Ask

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By Larry Dotson

Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 3:30pm EST

How many times have you read an ad and you had a question that would determine whether you would buy or not? Did you take the extra time to e-mail the business your question? If so, did you have the extra patience to wait for the answer or did you go to the competition's web site to buy?

Do you see why it's really crucial to answer all your prospects questions before they ask? How do you accomplish this obstacle?

First of all, you want to place yourself inside your prospects shoes. Think like your prospect. Read your ad, what questions would you have if you were the prospect? Can I pay by check? Can I have the product delivered within 3 days? Do you guarantee the product?

To get a even better point of view, have your friends or family members go through your ad. Have them point out questions they might ask.

Go through your past customer questions. You may have answered them each individually, but did you answer those same questions for your future prospects? If not, add those answers to your ad copy. If you do not want to clutter up your ad you could set up a separate FAQ section that's linked to it.

Now there will always be questions that arise you weren't prepared for. You should provide quick and easy ways for them to get in contact with you by phone, fax, e-mail, instant messaging, etc. Offer 24 hour customer service. If that's not possible, tell them you will answer all questions ASAP or within a reasonable or quick time frame.

In the future keep track of all questions that arise and update your ad copy or FAQ regularly. It can be the difference between your sale or your competitions sale.

About Source of Article

? 2002 by Larry Dotson *FREE* eBook! "Hypnotic Sales Letters: 92 Hypnotic Sales Letter Templates!" Just add your product info and...BAM! You've just written a hypnotic sales letter in a few minutes! Visit my site to download it: http://www. ldpublishing. com/.

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Earn Living Online

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By Lil Waldner

Monday, April 25, 2005; 11:50pm EST

Many people seek for a way to earn their living independently. They want to be their own boss. They want manage their time themselves ? and enjoy their leisure time when others go to work.

There are convincing arguments to work from home. A lot of lifetime gets lost on the way to work. Sticking in traffic jams can be avoided. Parents can spend their time near their children.

Financial independence through work from home is possible

A viable online business can be a fine option to achieve this target. It can me managed from home.

The beginning is not easy for newcomers in the online business. Do the right things right! This sounds easy, but you may ask: What can I do?

Let?s evolve the scheme of a viable online business opportunity!

How to start?

You need a professional website. You can sell all the kinds of goods through the internet and achieve an unlimited income potential, if you get enough traffic to your website. A tip: The best way is to sell information through the internet. No goods have to be shipped and you can cash in immediately. Services that can be downloaded or booked through the internet are also very fine, e. g. games, music, ebooks, travel.

It?s a good way to start with an affiliate business. This means to promote websites that sell and ship the goods physically. The affiliate receives the commission.

Here is a the example of a website that you can have set up on your behalf. It?s simple, hassle free. You will see, everything is there for you. You can get even more than that. You can join a package with three income generating websites. You can customize and modify them. Have a look at the website of the Affiliate Programs Directory: http://affiliatechain. com/

Make a Living from the Internet!

There is a recommendable no-hype, step-by-step Guide to Making a Living from the Internet. This unique web-based guide cuts through all the hype and confusion.

There's no hype or wild claims here to waste your time. Just the facts. A free web business starter kit is available. It can be downloaded from the cited website.

Is it really possible to make money in the web?

Yes it is and many affiliates and webmasters have made their way and earn a lot of money. Traffic to your website is the key of success. Everybody can learn how to build up strong sources of traffic. Everyone can learn the HTML language and how to create strong META tags in order to promote your website. You can get support on the phone or join a forum at the mentioned website.

You can learn the secrets of viral marketing. This is a powerful instrument to generate traffic.

This is great, isn?t it?

Does it cost a lot of money?

It?s not necessary to have a great budget to start into the internet business. The advantage of the internet business is that almost no money is needed. You even can start with a free site that you can download at the affiliatechain. com website. If you really want to make big money, some moderate expenses are needed. You will receive a lot of free tips, articles and low cost resources to run your business from this website. Great internet Gurus like Jim Daniels write there.

Do not stop here! Just try it!

Do not postpone what you can do today. Take your chance and use all the free information that is available on the internet! This is a key to to an independent life in the field of internet marketing. A free website is offered to start. It?s free to grab it.

The source to test and check out everything is: http://affiliatechain. com/

About the Author

Lil Waldner is a business economist. She is experienced in project management and marketing. She has worked for public entities as well as for private companies.

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

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Wednesday, July 30, 2003; 5:00pm EST

9. Computer Equipment

Luckily for work at home business owners, the costs associated with outfitting your home with the appropriate computer equipment has plummeted over the past year. The generally low system requirements for typical office productivity applications means that even today's entry point desktops are for the most part suitable for what you need ? if on a budget. If you have more money to allocate to hardware, today?s mid-range desktops and notebooks will perform well for years with the applications of today. The equipment you purchase will much depend on the type of work your business will perform on it...

    General Business (generally under $1000 per workstation) A Pentium 4 processor based computer with a minimum of 256 or 512 megabytes of memory, a motherboard integrated or mid-range graphics card, and at least 30 gigabytes of hard drive space will suffice for all of your word processing, spreadsheet, email, internet and other such programs.

    Development and Programming (generally between $1000 - $2000)

    For companies that will be involved in development web sites, application programming, and other such work, the specifications will be higher. For some programming it requires as little as a Windows notepad and a simple command line parameter. For others it requires expansive amounts of memory and processing power. Only your program requirements will be able to guide you to the right system. Typically if you will be doing development in such environments as Web Sphere, Microsoft. Net, or other complex development environments, a high end Pentium 4 with 1GB of memory would be recommended.

    Graphics and Multimedia (generally $3000 and upward)

    This category is by far the most demanding on a workstation. High end processing, memory, storage, video cards, audio processing and imaging / video capturing equipment will most likely be on your list of things you need. All of which commend a high price for their elite performance. The specifications of this type of workstation would also be tightly integrated into the requirements of the tools you will be using.

    Network Server If you will be having multiple employees working with you in the same location, you may wish to consider a network server. Depending on the number of people you have as part of your business will determine the specifications of your server. For the most part, for a small business to operate, requires not as much of an investment as you may have thought. Prices of servers and workstations have plummeted over the past year and your typical office applications simply do not require specifications beyond today?s entry to mid range desktops. Then, depending on the configuration of your network, you will need to invest in some cabling and a router and / or hub to allow the computers on your network to talk with one another. This is very typically low cost equipment and can be implemented without the help of external computer experts.

    Printing and Scanning

    No matter how paperless you want your office to be, it is still advisable to at least have one printer around in the even you need to print off such things as documentation, a letter to a client, marketing materials, handouts for presentations and many other uses. Today, the ultimate solution for home and small businesses are called "all-in-one" multifunction devices. These single box solutions have the functionality of a Printer, Scanner, Photocopier and even Fax machine, all in one nifty unit - and the cost of these things is unbelievably cheap. Most small businesses have to cope with less than their desirable space to work with, these units bring a number of important business machine together into one compact unit. They also only require a single connection to your computer, versus the many required if all of these functions were handled by individual machines. Just keep in mind, if your business category falls more under the "graphics and marketing" role, the print and scan quality and resolution of these all-in-one units will most likely not be sufficient for your needs - a dedicated printer and flatbed scanner will be required.

10. Employees or Contractors

When deciding how your company will handle the people aspect of business, it is important for a small businesses to weigh the differences between hiring employees or hiring contractors to do the work needed.

    Contractors

    Contractors are a great way of paying for the employee power that you need for any given time or any given skill set, without the overheads of hiring a full time employee. Contractors are people that you hire based on a contract to perform specific tasks or to augment your team for a pre-determined period of time that is renewable based on performance. While their hourly rate is typically higher than that of an employee - they have many benefits. Based on the contract agreed to by both parties (contractor and your business), you have the ability to determine how long the individual stays with your company thus reducing bench time that employees sometimes experience. You are not required to offer any benefits such as medical, dental, etc. You are not responsible for their taxation, or other government related issues for the most part. Their billing is as easy a multiplying their hourly unit cost by the number of hours worked, cutting them a check at the end of the month or term, and that is it! An excellent aspect of today's economy is that many large firms are culling their staff by the thousands, leaving highly experienced people out of a job. The more entrepreneurial of these individuals, go off and become contractors. Therefore you are getting the process driven skill set and expertise of someone who originally worked at a large international company, to be part of your team. Which brings with it all of the experience and training that is typically obtained through the large companies. Over time you will find that contractors, especially in small business environments can be very loyal and place importance on the wellbeing and progress of the company.

    Employees

    The great part about Employees is that they are now part of your business's "family". Therefore, the loyalty will be higher, and they could potentially have a stronger interest in the wellbeing of the company's long term growth and well being, especially in a small business environment. The negative aspect of employees is that they take significantly more effort and have more ongoing costs than a contractor. With employees you must handle such things as employee taxation, liability, benefits, insurance, government regulations regarding employees and their safety. All of this adds costs and man hours to manage. Also, the process of removing them from your company is not as easy as with a contractor, with regulations that must be adhered to. So there are both positive and somewhat negative aspects about employees that must be carefully compared against contracting. Depending on the complexity of the work needing to be performed, hiring an eager and "ready to go" part time high school or college student may be an excellent idea. Typically they are very strong in their computer proficiency, are eager to prove themselves and can be very cost effective for your business. There are also many school and government based programs that promote such employment or co-op type arrangements that are extremely cost effective. The best part about it is that they will learn much about business, grow with your business, and over time may become an integral part of your business. Although there is a downfall of a steep learning curve and training time, the long term rewards may offset this.

11. Web Site

In this day and age it is absolutely expected for business both big and small, whether 100,000 employees or 1 employee, to have a web site. It is important early on in the development of your business, to get at least the domain name that best represents your company branding registered so that even if you decide to build a web site later on down the road, that you have the domain name kept safe from anyone else registering it and using it. If someone already has it, but they don't look like they are using it for anything too important, you may wish to approach the owner of domain and request to purchase it. Carefully not mentioning that it will be used for business purposes - otherwise they will try to obtain as much money as possible from you as they will determine its importance to you. Now that the whole domain name hording fad is gone, and people are tired of having to pay for renewal of these domains, their value has plummeted and it is an excellent time to approach those who have domains that you want. Web sites should contain your company background, contact details, information about your products and services and any other relevant information your customers would typically want to know, or be presented with in your regular marketing materials. It is also important that it maintains consistency with the rest of your marketing materials so that it can be used to further concrete your branding and overall service. If you do not have the in-house expertise to make a professional looking web site that can represent your company - it is highly recommended that you look for a suitable web design and development company that can produce one for you. In the price range of a small business, there are basically two types of web development services out there, template and original.

    Template Based Web Development

    Typically when you see ads online advertising unbelievably cheap web design packages such as "$199 for your own custom web site!" or "$99 for complete web site!", they are typically using templates that they use for hundreds of other web sites, to make putting your web page together - faster. They will simply use the template as a basis of the site, stick your logo, contact details and content into it and that is it. Not recommended. That means that your brand will have a web site that looks the same as potentially thousands of other sites that may not even be related to your field. They their design shares little in common with your business or products.

    Original Custom Web Development

    The ultimate solution is to have a web page that specifically matches your brand, company values, marketing material and expectations of your customers. This can only be achieved by having a web site made from the ground up, specific to your needs. Although this will be significantly more money, it will be well worth the long term investment.

12. Ongoing Costs & Expenditures

This is a checklist of some of the ongoing costs and expenses that you may incur running a home or small business. Some items may not be applicable to all business, and some businesses will most likely have more.

Telecommunications

(phone, fax, cell phones, pagers, long distance) Monthly Internet

(broadband connections, dial-up) Monthly Web Site Hosting

(domain names, server space) Monthly Computer Equipment

(computers, printers, upgrades, projectors) As Needed Software

(applications, upgrades) As Needed Incorporation Renewal

(government fees, lawyer) Depending on Term Trademark Renewal

(government fees, lawyer) Depending on Term Consumables

(paper, pens, staples, envelopes, etc) As Needed Computer Consumables

(printer refills, mouse / wrist pads) As Needed Lawyer Fees

(legal advice and issues) As Needed Accountant

(filing corporate tax, book keeping) Monthly / Yearly Real Estate, Rent, Lease

(office space) Monthly Utilities

(electricity, water, gas) Monthly Company Vehicles

(lease, insurance, maintenance, fuel) Monthly Employees

(payments, salary, benefits plan if applicable) Monthly Marketing

(newspaper, radio, television, internet, sponsor) As Needed Office Furniture

(chairs, bookshelves, desks) As Needed Kitchen Supplies

(coffee, cr?me, purified water, juice, candies) As Needed Entertainment

(client meetings, presentations) As Needed Postage

(mail, couriers, international parcels) As Needed Petty Cash

(immediate needs) As Needed Taxation

(corporate tax, employee tax if applicable) Monthly / Yearly Travel Expenses

(transportation, hotel, meal allowance) As Needed

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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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Choosing Merchant Account Providers

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Mary Hedden

Wednesday, March 02, 2005; 2:00pm EST

When looking for merchant account providers, it is important to do a lot of research. You do not want to pay too much or sign up with a disreputable company. However, you do need to keep in mind that once you do sign up it could take up to a week for your application to be approved once it has been submitted.

There are three main factors that you should consider when selecting a merchant account provider.

1. Price

2. Integrity

3. Customer Service

Price (Merchant Account Rates and Fees)

When shopping for a merchant account, it is important to understand all of the rates and fees that the merchant account provider charges.

You will typically be charged the following fees:

Monthly Fee - Normally around $25 US and could vary depending on whether you meet your minimum monthly transactions.

Discount Rate - Percentage taken from a sale that the merchant pays to cover the costs of the transactions and the risk involved. Usually 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

Transaction Fee - A flat fee charged for each transaction. Typically between $0.20 and $1.00 US per transaction.

Application Fee - The initial fee you are charged to open the merchant account. Many merchant account providers do not charge application fees.

Equipment and Installation - Software can range from $0 to $1200 US or more depending on whether you have batch or real-time processing. Costs for hardware (POS terminals) can range from $500 to $1,500+ depending on the model you purchase.

If you have current or projected sales data, you can forecast what your fees will be for different merchant account providers. Searchmerchants. com has done this for you with the top internet merchant account providers in their database. If you visit Searchmerchants. com, you may enter your monthly sales data to compare fees for their recommended providers.

Integrity of the Merchant Account Provider

It is extremely important to consider the integrity of the merchant account provider that you select. There are a number of providers in the merchant account industry that cannot be trusted.

Here is a list of some red flags to look for while shopping for a merchant account.

1. The website of the company has misleading ads such as ?Free Merchant Account? or ?Lowest Prices Guaranteed?. Research these ads carefully to find out exactly what they mean.

2. You repeatedly get an answering machine every time you call.

3. They are using a free domain name or a free web hosting service. (If they cannot afford a domain name, then they probably should not be in the merchant account business.)

4. They do not answer your questions precisely.

5. They have rates and fees that are not posted on their website.

Make sure you search the internet for reviews of the company and for any unsatisfactory remarks.

Customer Service

Customer Service is key for smooth transaction processing. Try calling their customer service number to ask them some questions. Pay attention to the amount of time that you are on hold. Make sure that have friendly representatives that are knowledgeable and answer your questions precisely. They should be genuinely interested in helping you.

Superior customer service should also have a toll free number and provide 24/7 availability.

Although the integrity and the customer service are extremely important when choosing a merchant account provider, don?t be fooled into thinking that you should pay more for these services. If you do your research and shop around, you should be able to find a quality provider that does not charge high fees.

About the Author

Mary Hedden is the owner of http://www. searchmerchants. com - Searchmerchants. com is dedicated to helping you find a merchant account provider so that your retail or internet business can start accepting credit cards for less. Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as no changes are made and the resource box is included with a link to http://www. searchmerchants. com

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Making Dollars - Google AdSense

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Adam Buhler

Friday, November 7, 2003; 1:00pm EST

As the dust settles and the excitement caused by Google's AdSense gives way to the normal, everyday routines of old, it's time to put some serious thought into how you can "milk this cash cow" on your own web site. For the past couple months AdSense has dominated forums, discussions, and newsletters all over the Internet. I've heard tales of fabulous riches to be made with Ad Sense, but up until now I've been admittedly skeptical of placing someone else's ads on my pages.

Why? In short, I didn't like the idea of losing even a single visitor to another site.

The key to success with AdSense is to place your ads on pages that receive high traffic for high demand keywords. The higher the cost-per-click to the advertiser, the more you will receive per click from your site. It doesn't pay to target low cost-per-click keywords and place them on pages that don't receive hits.

Instinctively, my mind drifted to horrible images in which my homepage was buried in little ads promoting other people's services. . .

Then I thought of what's proving to be an excellent idea on my first AdSense page. By placing my first Ad Sense link on a page that offers free e-books related to marketing, I successfully blended a mix of two major factors for overall success.

1) Target high traffic pages on your site. I checked my logs and discovered many of my visitors take advantage of the free affiliate marketing resources and e-books offered on my site. Hmm...

2) If possible place AdSense links on pages that produce little or better yet, no profit. By placing AdSense on a free resources page I have drastically reduced the amount of potential customers lost to other sites. Bingo!

End result? A high traffic page producing a minimal amount of revenue. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to pick up some extra cash with AdSense.

This is especially rewarding to informational sites that focus their efforts on delivering powerful affiliate link free content to their visitors. Now they can gain a return on their services.

By no means is AdSense a perfect program, but, I've yet to stumble across a program that didn't have room for improvement in one category or another. My main gripe concerning AdSense is the inability to determine the profitability of a chosen keyword. competitive, high demand keywords will undoubtedly generate larger commissions, but the exact number is withheld by the big 'G'.

Google promises to update AdSense frequently, tweaking and polishing in order to maintain their 'squeaky-clean' image. Who knows, maybe some day we'll see AdSense add a 2nd tier? Can you imagine the smiles on the faces of webmasters around the world as they sign sub-affiliates and double, triple, quadruple etc... the amount they earn from AdSense!

One particularly handy feature available with AdSense is the ability to filter out up to 200 URL's. This gives you the option of 'blocking' spammy low value offers from your pages as well as competitors to your site.

The possibilities are limitless, yet looming on the edge of my consciousness is the fear that one day someone will find a way to exploit this 'golden goose' and force Google to crack down (much like the pay-per-click affiliate programs of old.). For now they enforce a strict anti-spamming policy, anyone found to be spamming their own links or abusing AdSense by other means will find their AdSense privileges terminated. My advice is quite simple... Hop on the AdSense bandwagon while you can at: http://www. google. com/adsense.

For a step-by-step walkthrough of how YOU can use AdSense on your site visit: http://www. smokesoft. net/adsense. html.

About Source of Article Adam Buhler is the owner of Affiliate Programs Directory: http://www. smokesoft. net Adam is the author of the weekly newsletter "Affiliate Secrets". He is offering a free trial copy of the BIBLE of selling on the net, "Make Your Site SELL!" For a limited time to anyone who subscribes at: http://www. smokesoft. net/newsletter. html

 

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With a Little Help Pulling Strings, Puppeteer Profits

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Like many other successful entrepreneurs, Dusty Dutton has turned her passion into a profession. For the past six years, the popular puppeteer in Marin County, Calif., has made a profitable business out of entertaining children at schools, birthday parties, and public events. But what makes Dutton particularly noteworthy is that she’s among the 13 percent of adults with developmental disabilities statewide who hold down a job, and one of even fewer who’s self-employed.

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In the Trenches: Taking the Cloud for a Spin

. Posted in how to.. in small business

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was debating taking my company-s accounting into the cloud. Well, I-ve gone ahead and done it. What-s the verdict? It-s not perfect, but I do like what I see. I doubt I-ll ever go back.

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Selling to Customers Again and Again

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By Larry Dotson

Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 3:30pm EST

You're always going to have people that buy once and never purchase again. Once they quit buying, that's lost revenue for your business. To stay in business these days you must persuade your one time purchasers into buying again and again.

First, you must set up the process to re-contact them after they order. This will remind them that you're still in business, ready and willing to sell to them again. Ask visitors to sign up to your free e-zine, associate program, mailing list, opt-in list, etc.

Now that you have the opportunity to re-contact them you must learn their future needs and wants. When you send them any information remind them that you're open to any questions or advice and give them a customer satisfaction survey. This kind of data can be useful to successfully present new offers and products to them.

Next, you can send your back end offers. Give your customers plenty of incentives and deadlines to order. You could offer them a discount for ordering before a certain date. Tell them "first come first serve" you have only so many left in stock. Offer them bonus products if they order in a certain number of minutes. All these techniques can greatly

increase your chances.

Finally, show your customers that you care about their business. Mail them greeting cards on holidays and birthdays. Send them surprise gifts

once in a while. Invite them to company get togethers and parties. You can always include a subtle offer with each card, invitation or gift.

About Source of Article

? 2002 by Larry Dotson *FREE* eBook! "Hypnotic Sales Letters: 92 Hypnotic Sales Letter Templates!" Just add your product info and...BAM! You've just written a hypnotic sales letter in a few minutes! Visit my site to download it: http://www. ldpublishing. com/.

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Top 10 Business Lessons Learned in Internet Business

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Shelley Lowery

Wednesday, February 04, 2004; 2:30pm EST

Since starting my Internet business back in 1997, I have learned many lessons along the way. These lessons have played a major role in my success, and I'd like to share them with you.

Lesson #1

Collecting your visitors' email addresses should be one of your top priorities.

Start collecting email addresses the moment you put your site up. Developing a list of targeted potential customers is an absolute must.

Although publishing an ezine is usually the best route to go, it is not a necessity. You can use your list to send out web site updates, product updates, or whatever you'd like.

Lesson #2

Your web site can either make or break you.

A professional looking web site will play a major role in your success. If you aren't secure in your abilities to design a professional looking site, you will be much better off hiring a professional.

Lesson #3

If you want to make a lot of money, you must create a niche.

A niche fills a specific customer need.

People want products and services that fulfill a specific personal need. If you are the first to fulfill the need, you'll reap the rewards.

Lesson #4

Generating web site traffic takes a lot of time and effort.

The key to generating a lot of traffic to your site is getting your link on as many sites as possible. Sure, listing your site with the Search Engines is your first step; however, you must not solely rely on Search Engines to bring you traffic.

My two biggest traffic generators are as follows:

Affiliate Program - Having your own affiliate program is one of the best ways to get hundreds, even thousands of links to your web site.

Providing a Free Product or Service - Providing your visitors with a free product or service is a great way to drive traffic to your site.

For example, I offer a free article syndication service. This service provides free content for web sites branded with a link to my site.

Lesson #5

Selling your own products and services is much more profitable than marketing affiliate programs.

Some of the top Internet sellers include:

? Software

? Information

? Private sites

? Internet services

Lesson #6

People do not like to be sold. You will be far more successful if you have a sincere desire to assist your potential customers. This can be accomplished by writing informative articles, courses, tutorials, or even providing advice within discussion forums in your area of expertise.

Trust plays a major role on the Internet. You must build your credibility with your target audience.

Lesson #7

Automation can save you hours of valuable time. Although there are certain areas of business that must be personally dealt with, there are many areas that can be completely automated:

? List management

? Customer follow-up

? Welcome messages

? Thank you messages

? Order processing

? Order fulfillment

? Order confirmation

This can be accomplished using auto responders, scripts and software programs.

Lesson #8

Organization is an essential part of developing a successful business:

? Create a daily work schedule for an organized approach to each day.

? Use an email program that will filter your messages into specific folders.

? Organize your computer folders and files for quick and easy access.

? Create a "Frequently Asked Questions" page to lessen support requests.

? Create templates for frequently used messages.

? Create a page (residing on your computer) that contains a list of affiliate programs you're promoting. Include your log-in information and hyperlinks for easy access.

Lesson #9

Customer satisfaction and support should be your top priority.

Lesson #10

You have to spend money to make money. You must be willing to invest in your Internet business including:

? Computer

? Internet Access

? Software

? Domain Name

? Web Hosting

? Education (books, courses, etc.)

? Advertising

Lesson #11 (I know, there were only supposed to be ten, but this one is important...)

SPAM is a four letter word and will be treated as such.

Although this list is far from complete, these lessons should provide you with some basic guidelines to assist you in developing a successful online business.

Source of Article Shelley Lowery is the author of Web Design Mastery - An in - depth guide to professional web design. And, Ebook Starter - A complete ebook design kit. Subscribe to Etips and receive a free copy of the highly acclaimed ebook, "Killer Internet Marketing Strategies." http://www. web-source. net/. Copyright ? Shelley Lowery 2003. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Web Site Usability Checklist

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Larisa Thomason

Monday, February 23, 2004; 4:15pm EST

Search engine promotion is important: most visitors use a search engine to find your site. But once they arrive, they have to be able to actually use the site and understand the content. Otherwise, your site is a waste of their time.

Our usability checklist highlights five important components of a usable Web site. This month's Webmaster Tips issue also contains handy, annotated checklists that address other important areas:

Design a clear and simple navigation system. According to Web usability expert, Jakob Nielsen, a good navigation system should answer three questions:

Where am I?

Where have I been?

Where can I go?

Your site's navigation system will answer all three questions if you're careful to include these basic elements:

    Keep it consistent. The navigation system should be in the same place on every page and have the same format. Visitors will get confused and frustrated if links appear and disappear unpredictably. Consider using Server Side Includes for your main navigation system to make certain the navigation system stays consistent.

    Use appropriate text inside links. Don't make your visitors guess where a link is going to take them. Visitors should be able to anticipate a link's destination by reading the text in the link or on the navigation button. This isn't the time to be cute or obscure - visitors don't have the time or patience for it. If there's any question about a link's destination, clarify the issue with a TITLE attribute that explains exactly where the link goes.

    Use CSS to emphasize text links. Some designers dislike underlined text links inside page content - although visitors expect to be able to click on underlined text. If you decide to remove this important visual navigation clue, style your links with CSS to replace underlining with another, consistent visual technique like a background color, different font, or text color that indicates a hyperlink.

    Always include text links. You can create some great looking menus using JavaScript or other scripting language, but never rely completely on a dynamic menu system. Some users may have problems using a mouse to navigate through the menu and others may be listening to the page using a screen reader. Every page should have basic text links that link to all major sections of the site.

    Add a text-based site map. Large or complex sites should always have a text-based site map in addition to text links. Every page should contain a text link to the site map. Lost visitors will use it to find their way, while search engines spiders will have reliable access to all your pages.

    Include a home page link inside your main navigation system. Visitors may enter your site via an internal page, but hopefully they'll want to head for the home page next.

    Site logo links to home page. Most sites include their logo somewhere at the top of every page - generally in the top, left-hand corner. Visitors expect this logo to be a link to your site's home page. They'll often go there before looking for the home link in the navigation system.

    Include a site search box. A robust site search feature helps visitors quickly locate the information they want. Make the search box prominent and be sure that it searches all of your site - and only your site. We've run across far too many Web sites that include a "Search the Web" search box on their home page. The result? Visitors hardly get to the site before the search function sends them to another site!

Keep the content clear and simple. You may attract visitors with an eye-catching design, but content is what keeps them at the site and encourages them to return. Content is also the best way to boost your site in search engine rankings.

Always keep search engines in mind when you write content, but remember that your ultimate audience is human visitors. Present your content with humans in mind.

    Don't save the best for last. Place your most important content high on the page. Think of a newspaper: the top story is always prominently displayed above the fold. Check your page display at in a number of different screen resolutions to make sure that your most important content is visible when the page loads.

    Make page content easy to scan. You'll spend hours - maybe days - writing your page content and it's really annoying to think that visitors may read less than half of it. Format your content so that it's easy to scan. Emphasize important points (or product characteristics) with a combination of header tags, bold type, color, or lists.

    Avoid using text inside images whenever possible. Text in images is invisible to search engine spiders and to visitors who may have images turned off in their browsers or who use assistive technologies like screen readers.

    Add ALT and TITLE attributes to all images. Each image should have a descriptive ALT attribute and TITLE attribute associated with it - particularly images that are also links to other pages. That way, they can quickly jump to the page they're interested in without having to wait for the entire page to load.

    Contrast, contrast, contrast! Be careful with background images and colors because they can obscure the text content on the page. Make sure you have a good reason to deviate from the successful dark text on a light background model. Visitors can't buy your products if they can't read the content.

Support your brand. A good brand creates or reinforces a user's impression of the site. When your site is strongly branded, that means that visitors will think of you first when they go shopping for your product or service. Branding on a Web site takes time, effort, and close attention to page design and layout.

    Keep colors and typefaces consistent. Visitors should never click on an internal link in your site and wonder if they've left your Web site. Choose your colors and fonts carefully and use them consistently throughout the site.

    Keep page layout consistent. Use a Web site template to enforce a uniform page structure. Visitors should be able to predict the location of important page elements after visiting just one page in your site.

    Custom error page. Create a useful custom error page that helps visitors if they should click on a broken internal link or type a URL incorrectly. The custom error page should reflect the site's overall color, type, and layout structure as much as possible and provide useful links to help visitors find what they're looking for.

    Create a good tagline and use it on every page. A good tagline clearly and concisely explains your "value proposition" or what makes your site stand out from competing sites. It should be memorable and reinforce your brand in one quick phrase.

Provide for visitor feedback. Forms are critical to the success of ecommerce sites. Without forms, you can't have a shopping cart. But any site usually needs at least one form to allow for user feedback. A form helps you hide from email spiders and also helps you control how user feedback is formatted and sent.

    Keep feedback forms short and clearly note which information is required to successfully submit the form. Take care to design accessible forms that all visitors can use.

    Remember your international users and don't require information they may not have - like area codes or ZIP codes.

    Present complete contact information including your business phone number and postal address. A street address is preferred, but you may want to use a PO box if yours is a home-based business. Visitors will probably prefer to contact you using email or a form, but they feel more comfortable with a site that allows other contact methods.

Test the site on real users. Remember that you're the designer so of course you effortlessly use the navigation system, love the content, and understand the value proposition. But now it's time to get user feedback - before your online users start sending it in.

Usability testing helps you replicate the experience of the average Web site user and correct problems before online visitors find them. It also gives you valuable answers to other questions:

    Do visitors enjoy using the site? If so, they'll stay longer and read more content.

    Do they understand the purpose of the site? If not, there's no compelling reason to return.

    Is there any incentive to return after the first visit? Your site should try to be the ultimate authority on the Web for your topic. A site with depth and breadth encourages visitors to bookmark it and refer friends interested in the same topic.

    Can they recover from errors? Usability testing is the best way to test how well your site search, site map, forms, and custom error pages function. They should all work together to guide a visitor through the site and help him get where he's going. Frustrated visitors aren't likely to return - ever.

Web usability means designing for your visitors instead of for yourself or your client. A site that conforms to user expectations makes visitors more comfortable and more apt to visit again and recommend the site to their friends. Good usability is critical to your site's success.

Source of Article The author of this article is Larisa Thomason, Senior Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc. NetMechanic is an online service specializing in html code checking, search engine optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For more information visit http://www. netmechanic. com/.

 

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The Fickle State of Small Real Estate Businesses

. Posted in how to.. in small business

We-ve all read reports about the dismal state of the national real estate market, but what-s the pulse among small businesses in the real estate industry? After all, small businesses are the engine behind our national economic recovery, including the real estate game. Where are the bright spots in this industry?

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5 of the World-s Coolest Internship Opportunities

. Posted in how to.. in small business

The word “intern” is often taken to mean “person who makes coffee and distributes memos.” Not at these five companies. If you’re looking for some real-world experience with an exciting, successful organization before launching your own entrepreneurial venture, these innovative internship programs could help you hit the ground running.

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Stroke of Brilliance: Live Event Artist Taps Into Wedding Market

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Painter Ken Lund discovered his unusual market niche in 2005, after a chance meeting with a “live event artist.” These creative types are commissioned to attend parties and other functions and paint the festivities as they transpire; the client then takes home the personalized artwork as a memento. Lund shadowed the artist for a few events and then built his live event business by taking referrals when his mentor was booked. Today he mostly paints weddings.

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Do Green Hotels Get More Guests?

. Posted in how to.. in small business

As businesses across industries are learning, going green is all about the numbers. Hospitality and lodging is no different. If you-re in the lodging biz, how would you like to increase your bookings by 7.5 percent in the next year? That’s the jump in consumers who said they “researched and booked green accommodations” between 2009 and 2010. How about half a million travelers viewing your website? That’s the average number of times the term “green hotel” was searched on Google through August of 2011.

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Brian Solis on Making Sure Your Social Media Efforts Aren-t Antisocial

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Many companies work hard to build a following on Facebook and Twitter, yet their social media presence is often quite antisocial. So says Brian Solis, author of Engage! and the upcoming The End of Business As Usual. For more than a decade, Solis has been blogging — and, more recently, tweeting (@briansolis) — about how businesses can better interact with their customers.

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Outspoken Media-s Lisa Barone on Managing Your Online Brand

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Lisa Barone, co-founder and chief branding officer of Outspoken Media, has been working on the front lines of search engine optimization and social media for more than five years. A prolific blogger and Tweeter, Barone provides timely information about and insight into trends in blogging, branding, and online reputation management. We spoke with her about what businesses can do to build their brands and cultivate loyal followings.

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Why Bike-Sharing Programs Are Good Business

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Amy Harcourt and Kurt Wallace Martin are life and work partners who’ve turned their passion for cycling into a consulting business. Bikes Make Life Better helps companies provide bicycle sharing and commuting programs for their employees.

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Terry -Starbucker- St. Marie on the Power of Positive Blogging

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie is a success story about the power of positive thinking. His blog, TerryStarbucker. com, spreads “realistic optimism” through a philosophy he calls “half-fullism.” After working in various leadership positions for more than 25 years, St. Marie and his partner, Liz Strauss, co-founded a company called SOBCon in 2007. The annual Successful Online Business Conference gives bloggers an opportunity to meet face-to-face.

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6 Reasons Your Small Business Should Offer a 401(k) Plan

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Most people realize that, in the 21st century, we all have to accept more responsibility for saving for our own retirement. According to a Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey, nearly 50 percent of small-business owners are concerned that they won-t have enough money to retire. And what about our employees? They’re going to need nest eggs, too. Offering to help create them can benefit a small business in more ways than one.

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How To Avoid Getting Scammed. SCAMS: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SERIES

. Posted in how to.. in small business

By Dean Philips

Monday, November 22, 2004; 7:40pm EST

Listed below are some of the most popular and common scams:

1. Nigerian Letter Scam:

This one's been around for many years but continues to flourish. Many of these e-mails claim to be from a person in Africa, usually Nigeria. The writer claims to have access to millions of dollars, either from a relative or from knowledge of an idle account. A percentage of this money is promised to the victim if they will allow the money to be processed through their personal bank account. The victim is instructed to keep their share and send the remaining money to the scammer.

The check given to the victims is fraudulent. The victim is then liable to the bank for the check they wrote to the scammer.

Here's what will happen when you give strangers your bank account information: They will take your money. Period.

2. Phishing Scams:

"Phishing" is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-

up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card

numbers, bank account information, Social Security number,

passwords, or other sensitive information.

Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be

from a business or organization that you deal with--for

example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online

payment service, or even a government agency. The message

usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your

account information.

Recent phishing victims include Yahoo, Citibank, eBay, Best

Buy and Bank of America among others.

If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to spam@uce. gov.

3. Chain Letters:

In this classic scam, you're asked to send a small amount of money (usually $5.00) to each of several names on a list, and then forward the letter including your name at the top of the list, via bulk e-mail. Many of these letters claim to be legal. They even include a section of the U. S. Postal Code on illegal schemes. Don't be fooled. They are not legal. And if you participate, not only will you be breaking the law, you'll lose your money as well.

4. Work-At-Home And Business Opportunity Scams:

These scams tempt victims with ads stating "no experience necessary," promise high earnings and claim to have inside information. The scammers usually require victims to pay anywhere from $35 to several hundred dollars or more for information, kits or materials that do not provide the promised results.

Frequently, these schemes involve making handicrafts, stuffing envelopes, medical billing, or state, "Use your home PC to make money fast in your spare time!"

In the craft making or envelope stuffing scam, after paying fees and completing the assembly of the products, victims are told their work is low quality and unworthy of compensation.

Medical billing scams require victims to purchase supplies and lists of doctors who, inevitably don't exist or are not interested in the service.

5. Bulk E-mail Scams:

These solicitations offer to sell you bulk e-mail addresses (spam software) or services to send spam on your behalf. Example: "Reach 100 million websites, $39.95"! The software is usually of poor quality. It's spam and a scam. Don't do it.

6. Auction and retail scams:

These schemes typically offer high-value items, such as Cartier watches, Beanie Babies and computers, in hopes of attracting many consumers. What happens is the victim wins the bid, sends the money and receives nothing or receives products of much lower quality than advertised.

7. Guaranteed Loans or Credit Scams:

This scam comes in a variety of flavors: home equity loans that don't require equity in your home, personal loans regardless of credit history, etc. After you pay the application fees, you receive a letter saying that your loan request was denied. Usually, you never here from these companies again.

8. Credit Repair Scams:

These scams promise to erase accurate, negative information from your credit file so that you can qualify for loans, mortgages, unsecured credit cards, etc. It doesn't work. Not only that. If you follow their advice and lie on loan or credit applications, misrepresent your social security number, or get an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses, you will be committing fraud and violating federal laws. Another variation of this scam is the promise of a brand new credit file. Don't do it.

9. Vacation, Sweepstakes And Prize Award Scams:

In these scams you receive notification congratulating you because you've won a fabulous vacation, a car or some other prize award. All you have to do to collect your prize is pay a small fee (usually several hundred dollars). In return, what you end up getting is a toy car, (I kid you not) or a vacation certificate to the Bahamas or some other exotic vacation spot. It's really a lousy deal. You have to pay for your own airfare, and the accommodations that they arrange are usually in rundown hotels. Let the buyer beware!

10. Employment Scams:

Employment scammers take advantage of job seekers. They claim to offer employment services, inside information or inside contacts to jobs. After paying a fee, victims learn they only provide advice, help writing a resume--or less. Some fraudulent employment services simply sell lists of companies that they have gotten from public directories. They usually have not contacted those companies directly or know if there really are any job openings.

11. Multi-level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing Scams:

I know I'm going to ruffle a few feathers with this one, so let me just say right now that all MLM or network marketing companies are not scams. Obviously, there are some good, reputable companies out there. However, there are so many bad ones that I'm compelled to include the entire industry on this list. Before getting involved with any MLM or network marketing company, investigate, investigate and then investigate some more. Don't get caught up in the hype. And here's a fact no MLM or network marketing company will ever tell you--not even the legitimate ones: Unless you have outstanding sales ability and/or people skills, it is extremely difficult to make any money in MLM or network marketing.

Here are some other things you should watch out for: Make sure the website you're visiting contains all three of the following:

1. A real persons name (not just a company or business name)

2. A telephone number

3. A street address (not just a P. O. Box)

If all three of the above are not present, walk away from the offer.

Before purchasing anything, you should always check first to see if the company has had any complaints lodged against it. The following websites publish complaints and/or scams:

http://www. scamwatch. com

http://www. worldwidescam. com

http://www. bbb. org

If you do get scammed, report it to the aforementioned websites immediately. You probably won't be able to recover your money. Few people ever do. But at least by reporting the crime and making it public record, you make it harder for that company to scam anyone else.

In closing, always carefully investigate any business opportunity, and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

About the Author

Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer,

publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be

reached at mailto: dean@lets-make-money. net. Website: http://www. lets-make-money. net

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Our Small Business AppNation

. Posted in how to.. in small business

Since Apple first tickled our fancies with the concept four years ago, the world has embraced the mobile app industry. Even in small businesses, apps are ubiquitous, and in fact, small businesses are seeing measurable results from using apps in the workplace, particularly noting that they save lots of time. Today we look at apps that go to work for small business - and the results they achieve. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.

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Super 8 Ukiah Brings Green to the Hospitality Industry

. Posted in how to.. in small business

As electric and hybrid cars have begun to enter the auto mainstream, states like California have been leading the way in promoting the use of these low - or no-emission vehicles. Through tax rebates, HOV commuting lane privileges, and increasingly strict emissions requirements, the market for electric and hybrid vehicles has been building, and it-s great to see businesses taking steps to stay ahead of the game.

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