Your Great Business Idea

Do you have a business idea that you are sure that people will love? Do you have a product that everyone just must have? Do you have a service that everyone needs? Sorry, but you do not know. No one cares about your product or service. And they will not care until they know and trust you. And even then, they may not buy that revolutionary new product that you are sure is set to change the world.

Did you know that people prefer to buy from just 3 types of people? Those who they know, those who like them or those that they feel they can trust. That's it! Think of it. Millions of people buy off eBay every day but would you feel more comfortable buying clothes from a friend you have known for 10 years or buying from someone online that you've never met before? It's all about getting to know your customer, putting yourself in their shoes and getting their trust. Then you invite them to come back by over delivering.

Did you know that the people who make the most money in business often have five things in common?

  • A useful product or service that solves a problem or plugs a gap in the marketplace
  • A “niche market”
  • A strong, unshakeable belief in their business idea
  • The ability and desire to keep learning
  • A business mindset

For example, the inventors of the toothbrush, the TV remote control and the mousetrap would have made a fortune. Their products all solved problems and they focused on a niche and they had a belief. Whether these guys continued to learn or had a business mindset, we do not know. However, the first three criteria were met and that was enough to make the inventors very rich. Three very simple ideas that solved everyday household problems. That's all it took. What problems can you solve for your niche market? Can you identify a product or service that they want and need?

Choosing a Product or Service

As you can see, the secret is that you really do not need a brilliant new product or idea.

What you do need is something that –

  1. saves time, Egypt
  2. saves money, or
  3. increases a person's wealth, or
  4. decreases weight, or
  5. takes away pain, or
  6. makes people feel good about themselves and lifts their self esteem.

If you can do just one of these things for a highly targeted group of people and make it seem easy, you are on the right track. Anything new that solves a problem for your customer, and comes with little or no effort, is a game changer.

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Are You Struggling In Business?

Are you struggling in business? Trying to stay afloat? Do you know why? Is it lack of capital or business skills? Are you networking with other business owners? If not, why not? Ask yourself what is working for you … and then keep it. If it is not working, drop it and try something else.

Business networking is an inexpensive way to get new customers, get referrals and form all that have mutual benefits with other business owners. Networking has produced over 70% of my business over the past 3 years. Social Media, articles and eBooks I have written have produced the other 30%. I do not advertise in newspapers, magazines, radio or TV. I do no letterbox drops. I use business cards, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote myself and my business. The only promotional costs to me are breakfast, lunch or dinner at the various networks I attend.

People do business with me because we form personal relationships. We ask questions of each other. If we like what the other person says, and we feel that there is a good fit, we choose to hire each other's skills when required. We also actively promote each other's businesses and refer potential clients to each other. Networking can be true Win / Win situation when done right. A good Networker will attract clients because they ask questions, listen carefully and show a genuine interest in people.

A good Business Mentor can also be a great asset. They can point you in the right direction and guide you all the way. They will lead you by the hand and show you how to make your business work for YOU, instead of you working for it.

However make sure, before hiring a Mentor, that they have experience in running a business. There are a lot of Business Coaches out there with no “hands on” experience. Would you hire a builder who had never built a house? Or an Accountant who had never done a Tax Return? The worst mistake you can make is locking into a contract with a Mentor that has a Certificate but no real substance to back it up.

When hiring a Professional, always look for someone who has been there and done what you need done. This does not mean that you need to pay top dollar for all your tasks. Outsourcing work such as web design, social media, videos, newsletters, presentations and bookkeeping can be very inexpensive, even for the little guy, if you take the time to look around. Even accounting can be sent offshore.

For more details, connect with me on Facebook or visit my site.

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The Business Of Deception And How Not To Be A Victim

Every year Florida business owners lose money to all kinds of scams. The best protection from such fraud and deception is to be informed on the different scams out there. The Florida Department of Agriculture's Consumer Services Division keeps a “Little Black Book of Scams” that contains a list of the most common scams in Florida.

The following is a list of scams that may most commonly affect you and your business:

Government Scams. This scam consist of scammers claiming to be officials from government agencies and legitimate businesses. The purpose is to get money and personal information in order to steal your identity.

What you need to know:

  • Be skeptical of anyone asking for money through a wire transfer or money order.
  • Never give your checking account number or Social Security number to anyone you do not know.
  • Do your homework. Find out who you are really dealing with.
  • Ignore unsolicited emails.

Tax Scams. As if tax season was not stressful enough, identity thieves take this time to steal identities and money. According to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Florida has become the state with the highest rate of tax refund fraud.

What you need to know:

  • The only legitimate website for the IRS is www.irs.gov .
  • Make sure whoever is helping you has a Preparer Tax ID Number and that they provide this information on any returns they prepare for you.
  • The IRS will never contact you by email to get detailed personal financial information. If you are expected to receive an email from the IRS, contact them directly to find out if they are trying to reach you.

Service / Contractor Scams. If you frequently hire contractors pay close attention. This scam consist of contractors who take deposits before starting work or take money before finishing.

What you need to know:

  • If you need to hire a contractor get at least three itemized estimates and check their address, license, and complaint history by calling the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or by visiting their website www.myfloridalicense.com .
  • Never agree to a cash-only deal. Get a written estimate and carefully inspect the contract before signing or agreeing.

Internet Scams. In a day and age when we use the internet for almost everything it is important to keep an eye out for fraud. Online, scammers can easily imitate a legitimate organization by copying their logo or even the entire website. The purpose is to get your personal information or convince you to download malware.

What you need to know:

  • Never provide your personal or bank account information unless you are absolutely certain the website is authentic.
  • Do not reply to unsolicited emails. Unsubscribe to them. Never click on any links in emails from unknown email addresses.
  • Banks and financial institutions will never ask you to follow a link in an email or provide your bank account information through an email or website.

While we've only mentioned some of the common scams to hit Floridians there are many more. For more information on these scams and how to protect yourself take a look at the Division's website at FreshFromFlorida.com. Click on the “Divisions and Offices” tab then select “Consumer Services”.

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Occupational Fraud: Protect Your Business From the Enemies Within!

Occupational Fraud: Protect your Business from the Enemies within!

When times are tough and the economy is struggling to regain its footing, many businesses and individuals find themselves under intense financial and emotional pressure. Salaries are being reduced, lay-offs are rampant, house values ​​are falling, and their financial safety net has been disregarded. Morale is down and fear is up. Survival instincts kick in and good people do bad things. It's a fact of life and, because of this, all businesses are susceptible to a fraudulent attack.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) surveyed its members and found a 49% increase in the dollar amount of frauds in the latest economic down turn. Sadly, employee embezzlement or occupied fraud was the number one category of fraud in the survey.

Fraud refers to an act committed by a person with the intent of deceiving another person / entity and taking unjust or illegal advantage of it. Occupational fraud refers to such deceptive actions committed by present or potential employees against their employers.

There are generally three factors that need to be present for fraud to occur: pressure, opportunity, and the ability to rationalize illegal behavior. Unfortunately, the presence of each of these factors may increase in periods of economic hardship.

There are many different types of deceptive acts (fraud) committed by employees, including:

  • Misappropriation of funds
  • Theft of cash and checks
  • Theft of goods
  • Inflation of expense claims
  • Creation of ghost employees and inflation of expenses
  • Forging a signature on a check and other documents
  • False document creation
  • Misuse of petty cash
  • Use of office assets for personal purposes
  • Overriding of the company policies and decisions
  • Withdrawal of money from customers' accounts
  • Creation of ghost vendors
  • False information on an employee resume
  • Leaking confidential information about the business to third parties in return for money or money's worth
  • Sale of a firm's goods or assets without the authority

Are you sure that your business is protected from these types of frauds?

If your answer is “no,” “do not know,” “not sure” or “can not say,” then it would mean that you are among many business owners who are unaware of the financial control measures that help shield businesses against such types of fraud. Comparatively, small businesses tend to fall prey to this act, due to a lack of effective control measures. Financial control measures are usually given low priority by small business owners, as they do not realize the need and importance of these measures until it is too late.

Financial control refers to the techniques implemented by a business to ensure that every financial transaction is recorded and maintained accurately and is not tampered with – intentally or unintentionally. It refers to the policies and procedures established by an organization concerning documenting, reporting, and managing financial transactions.

Examples of financial control measures include:

  1. Strong Internal Control System: Refers to the various systematic procedures and methods set up by a firm to carry out its business in an orderly and efficient manner.
  2. Effective Accounting System: Consists of the methods and records established to identify, assemble, analyze, classify, record and report an entity's transactions, and to maintain accountability of the related assets and liabilities.
  3. Regular and irregular audits.
  4. Creation and communication of a written and transparent “Fraud Policy” for your firm that describes the term “fraud,” the company's zero tolerance level against fraud, and the investigation processes and consequences of fraud, etc.
  5. Creation of a positive work environment for your employees.
  6. Hiring honest people by conducting a thorough background check.

Theft usually starts with petty cash, a small amount. So, it would be advisable to be cautious and aware of the environment in your business. You may need to watch out for warning signals, such as noticeable employee behavioral changes, personal financial problems, obvious usage of drugs or alcohol, etc.

More than one-third of surveyed organizations have had some controls eliminated as a consequence of staff reductions during the economic down turn. Paradoxically, it is these organizations that most likely need anti-fraud controls. After layoffs, morale is usually at a low point, workload is often increased; the pressure to perform can be unbearable and lead to the perfect storm for fraud.

Oftentimes, fraud is committed by your most loyal and trusted employees. Controls are for everyone, family included.

Embezzlement (of funds by employees) has been the number one financial crime over the past few decades, so much so, that almost one-third of all company bankruptcies can be attributed to embezzlement. The cost of fraud is estimated at $ 6 billion in the US alone! It is therefore imperative to protect your business from the enemies within! Ultimately, what you would be guarding is not a few thousand dollars, but your business, the effort it took you to bring it to the present stage and the dreams associated with it! Remain vigilant. Be proactive.

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From Humble Beginnings

In 1898 you and your family, the Goldean's traveled by ship to escape the violent massacres in Russia of Jewish families condoned by Czar Alexander 111.

You have just arrived in America, the land of opportunity where you have the right to religious freedom to worship as you choose. Your home will be in Newport News, Virginia with your parents and sister. Your parents are very religious and have chosen a man for you to marry from the old country. But you have met and fallen in love with an American boy.

Your parents say you can not marry him. “We have chosen your husband, David Shapiro.” The man you are to marry speaks many languages ​​and is considered very educated and is a Hebrew school teacher. He has no refinement, but to honor your parents you must marry him. Your name is Bechie Goldean Shapiro.

After a year of marriage, you make a wonderful dinner with a lovely tablecloth on the table with your finest china, silver ware, and glassware. Your new husband sits down and pulls off the tablecloth saying, “It is much to fancy for me.” He has a remarkable gift for removing the Tablecloth from the table without damaging the dishes or silverware but, he is unable to earn a living with that skill.

What will you do? You have to find a way to support your husband and child. You have a baby daughter Belle.

You have several beautiful teacups and saucers. You decide to try selling them on the side of Jefferson Avenue. That day you discover you have a gift for selling and over time you start a department store called Shapiro's. It becomes a family department store where housewares, clothes, and shoes are sold for men, women, and children. Your daughter Belle will work at your store as a teenager as will your son Max.

On her daughter Belle's 20 th birthday on August 12, 1924 Bechie Goldean Shapiro dies of Cancer. Belle Shapiro Frank, my father's mother, and my grandmother continue the store. Belle buys beautiful clothes for women in New York City. She married before her mother's death a man she chose, my grandpa Louis Charles Frank from Lithuania.

Grandpa came to America as a young teen-ager, 11 or 12 years old, and always jokingly said he arrived by covered wagon to America. He worked in the men's department store of Shapiro's as did their son, Robert, my father. Robert worked as a teenager in the shoe department. After working at Shapiro's Department store helping people who had forgotten to wash their feet try on shoes, he was inspired to study harder so he could go to college and become an engineer or a doctor. He was the first in his family to graduate college. Shapiro's Department Store lived on to support the Shapiro and Frank family for over 25 years.

What are the 3 lessons you can learn from Great- Grandma Shapiro about solving your problems?

1) Have a positive attitude and always have a paper and pencil ready, wherever you are, in case you think of a solution to your problem.

2) Give yourself time each day to ponder your problem. Be observant and listen carefully to others, as you never know where you will find your solution.

3) Think of your problem as an opportunity and a new door or window will open up for you and never give up on solving your problem.

Great- Grandma Shapiro found that she had a gift for selling and it was her opportunity to make a living and support her husband and child.

By following these three steps you will be able to solve your problem like

Great- Grandma Beckie Goldean Shapiro and make it into an opportunity to learn, grow, and change your life for the better.

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5 Office Cleaning Tips

If you're anything like the average office worker in North America, you spend somewhere around 40 or 50 hours in your office every week. Between busy schedules and the demands of your job, you probably have not got a lot of time at the end of the week to spare for cleanup, but there are distinct benefits associated with keeping your works tidy. From increased productivity and efficiency to reduced fatigue and stress, these 5 office cleaning tips will not only help you work better but feel better too.

Tidy as you Go

Do not let your works get out of control by cleaning up as you go. One of the biggest problems office workers face is files and papers piling up on their desk. So, make sure to file and organize your desk and shelves as you go. Stack papers for filing at the end of the day or create trays or folders that are clearly labeled so you can easily put things away and find them when needed.

Clean your Desk and Computer

The busiest office workers can really relate to what it means to have a “working lunch.” This is the kind of meal you enjoy while you're sitting at your desk. Unfortunately, food splattered on your computer monitor and keyboard as well as free desk space is unsightly and unhygienic. Take a few minutes at the end of the day or week to wipe your keyboard and computer as well as your desk to keep germs away.

Remove Clutter

The more time you spend in an office, the more likely you are to have clutter on your desk. We're not talking about files or papers, but other tools of the trade. Sure, you have a pen organizer and you need your stapler, but your desk invariably becomes the place where you drop everything. Empty coffee cups, water bottles, picture frames, clocks, and other knickknacks perfectly clutter your desk and reduce productivity. Schedule some time in your day to remove unnecessary objects and keep only work essentials on your desk.

A Place for Everything

One of the easiest ways to keep your office clean is to assign a place for everything. You can even label drawers and organizers so you can find things quickly in a pinch. Ensuring you have an assigned spot for everything – even plants and your phone – will make the job of tidying and de-cluttering much easier. And remember, you always want to make sure you have some empty desk or shelf space for new work essentials, so consider taking some time to regularly reorganize and trash what you do not need.

Trash what you Do not Need

So, speaking of junk, you need to get rid of it. Old business cards, pens you never use, random coffee cups, and outdated calendars – these are all items that can add up over time. Maybe they're strewn around your desk or hidden in a drawer, either way this kind of junk takes up valuable storage space and distracts you from the job at hand. Decide what you really need and what is obviously unnecessary and get down to the essentials.

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How to Select the Best Network Design and Implementation Company

Businesses now have many choices when selecting an IT services, network design and implementation company. There are many companies in the market now which offer very similar services. You should choose the best service provider that can meet your requirements and offer the best solution. Always think about the future objectives for your company and select the right local company for setting up your network and future IT services and support needs.

Remember network implementation is not just about plugging some cables in and out. It involves customizing the network and software to meet your requirements and the servers. Using expert network consultants your business can have a simple to use and adaptable solution. With the many companies out there it is important to remember to hire a dependable and reputable company to integrate the right software for your network needs.

Whether you are looking to install a brand new network infrastructure or looking to update your current network setup always look for experts in the industry. Always make sure that the network meets your requirements and is flexible to any changes you may need to allow your business to grow.

Professional network support companies work 24×7. You should be able to contact at night and on weekends for help with your network. Always choose the company that is available 24×7 as this will help you reduce or avoid any downtime.

When implementing a network change or implementation you must pay special attention to security. Your business can not afford to have any network threats; therefore every business should take a backup of the system to protect important information. A good network company would integrate backup solutions into the network design.

Expect good employee efficiency when you have a good network for your business.The network design and implementation company must be cost effective for your business. Always shop around for a company that can best meet your needs.

You will be working closely with the network support company, therefore you should find out what their customer service is like. It is always a good idea to speak to their references and find out what support they received. Never choose a company that does not provide you with references.

Make sure the IT company provides you the deliverables and a contract. Good local IT companies will help you save a lot of time and money. Look for companies that provide flexible solutions that met your short term and long term objectives.

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Starter Tips for Your Own Commercial Cleaning Business

When venturing into the commercial cleaning business, it is most likely that you are someone who values ​​a perfectly organized, immaculate spot in your home and anywhere you are. As most business owners, this passion for cleanliness – and seeing how important it is – must be your drive to establishing your own cleaning service.

Just like any other, this professional service requires a truckload of must-dos. Starting this business entails that you have what it takes to get it started in the first place. You may want to consider these tips about starting your new commercial cleaning venture:

1. Identify your target market.

Essentially, starting a business may mean identifying a need and filling it. However, you can not serve everyone, much less please them. This applies to living the real life, but it is also the promise behind the idea of ​​determining the specific people whom you will be calling your customers. If your focus is the commercial sector, narrow your client profile down to whatever the size of the market you are serving. Will you be equipped to handle services for huge universities? Focusing on particular niche enables you to zone in strategies for marketing and advertising.

2. Set the specific services you will offer.

When it comes to cleaning your clients' offices and places of business, will you be sticking to the basics or will you be offering more? Vacuuming, sweeping, wiping, mopping, dusting and bathroom are generally part of your services but you can also opt to magnify your scope. Make sure you paint a clear picture of what you can and what you can not do, so when your clients ask you to do extra, more complex cleaning services, you'll know how to respond. Through this step, you will be clearly set the number and the types of supplies and equipment you will need to procure.

3. Determine where you will be offering the service.

One of the first steps you need to take when trying to start your commercial cleaning business is to decide where you intend to your business to be known and established. This is important because this is the step where you need to fix your licensing, registration, and other requirements for your startup.

4. Hire the right people .

If you have the financial capacity for it, hire the people you need to start the business and run it for the long term. You may also opt to have a few employees trained and working for you on an as-need basis, but decide to keep them as your regular crew as your business grows.

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Expand Out Of The Economic Storm

In a time of economic contracting, you could be forgiven for thinking the best way to weather the storm is to batten down the hatches and wait. From a business perspective, this makes a lot of sense. I mean, some of the most robust economies in the first world imposes self-austerity in times of crisis, so sure that's the correct thing to do for small business right?

Not necessarily.

As any budding, or even successful entrepreneur will testify to, fortune does indeed favor the brave, and an economic free-fall can often be a blessing in disguise if you're savvy about how to work it to your advantage. While common sense dictates that we should hold onto our cash in a time of uncertainty, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that going further into debt, and expanding out of the fiscal contraction is something akin to taking a steam ship through the breakers; it just plows through it, while the cautious either get swept away, or never make through the squall.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group is one such captain who steered his ship through many-a rough economic sea, and almost always his gut reaction was to reinvest, reinvent and leverage the companies' equity into another business vertical. With his first enterprise, Student Magazine, floundering, he saw an opportunity to sell records by mail order and made that business profitable. When the British Post Office went on strike, mail order was no longer viable so Sir Richard opened up what was to become the first Virgin Megastore on Oxford St, and sold records direct to the public. Several years later, he leveraged the industry contacts he made selling records into starting Virgin Records and signed the likes of Mike Oldfield, Phil Collins, Boy George and the Sex Pistols. Itchy feet then saw Branson take to the skies, and incur the wrath of the indomitable Lord King, head of British Airways. This rivalry almost sunk Branson's ship, but it won a few landmark libel cases against British Airways and subsequently sold Virgin Records to EMI for a billion dollars (US) and Virgin Air became the most cash-rich companies on earth, and British Airways were no longer a problem.

The point is this; Branson saw crisis and opportunity much as the ancient Chinese did; as the same thing. There were times when he was overdrawn, taking no wages for himself, sleeping in basics and negotiating with banks, creditors and equity partners, yet he was always prepared to outgrow his fiscal problems and make some very intelligent decisions when it came to the expansion of the Virgin empire.

Having said that, Sir Richard would say that business and life are about one thing, and one thing alone; Survival. If you can survive the storm and learn to recognize it as it forms on the horizon, you will always be able to navigate around it, or go through it, as many of the great entrepreneurs have done.

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Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing IT an Outsourcing Company

Outsourcing many different business functions has grown considerable over the last decade. Outsourcing is a great and cost effective way to get experts into your business for the fraction of a cost of a full time employee or department. As your business grows IT outsourcing becomes a realistic option, as it allows you to focus on your businesses core objectives.

Some companies use IT outsourcing to manage a specific project along their in-house IT department or hand over the entire IT functions and services to an outsourced company for the day to day management and all IT related projects for a monthly flat fee.

It is important to pick the right outsourced IT support team that fits in with your business objectives. Does the IT company represent value for money? Do their objectives match yours? Do they have the resources to deal with your business needs? Can they grow as your company grows? Find out all this information and more before making a decision.

Whenever a decision is made it can either workout great or it can become a costly mistake. Outlined below are common mistakes made when looking for an outsourced IT services and support company.

1. I just need a quick fix.

Do not look for a quick fix. Yes at first you may have one issue that may need fixing. Get the company to come in and evaluate your network. It is important that you take a long term view to IT services and support. This will be cost effective in the long term.

Look for an IT company with the dedication and long term objectives that matches your businesses. Contact your local tech support guy or local IT company to learn more.

2. You are not involved with the management or interaction with the outsourced IT support team.

Great you signed the contract, handed the keys over to them and let them do what they need to ensure they deliver on the promise of “the best IT company in town”. Yes you may allow them to carry out the work as they need to however, it is important to keep communication channels as open as possible. Remember communication is a two way street, you must ensure that you are involved with your IT services provider, communicating your long term strategy and ensuring that they are delivering on what they promised you.

It is important to have one main point of contact from your company for the IT support provider. It is best to request a short term and long term technology plan from your IT service company so that you know you're on the same page from the start. Ensure that you choose an IT services company that has a simple centralized system for receiving requests from your employees.

3. You have an outsourced IT company. Problem solved. Nothing will ever go wrong again.

Do not assume that once you've signed with an IT company that there will be no more issues and problems with your computers, servers and network. Remember computers are machines they do breakdown and require maintenance. Common problems are: user errors, hardware failures, software corruption / viruses / hackers and regular updates to the computers. These are issues you will encounter no matter which provider you choose. Remember now that you have an expert IT company on board you might find out you have more problems than you first thought, as someone is paying attention to your needs and making you aware of them.

4. The IT services and support company with the lowest monthly cost is the best one.

Remember you get what you pay for in most cases. Do not make your decision solely based on price. If someone sends you a contract that is substantially lower than the others you have received received ask why. A reason could be that they do not have qualified staff or many staff to deal with your issues in a timely manner. It can work out cost effective to not go with the cheaper option in the short and long term. Look for IT companies with certified IT consultant and an infrastructure to handle your needs. If you've signed a contract with an IT company for 24×7 support test them and make sure they are delivering on their promises. Choose a company with several staff, therefore your needs will be taken care of in a timely manner.

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How Businesses Can Lower Their IT Costs

Technology is rapidly changing and evolving every minute. It is common to see a new product or service being released every day that takes the world by storm. Business owners can be apprehensive about spending large amounts of money on technology that is constantly changing. The thinking behind this is why spend money on new technology that will be old technology tomorrow.

In the current market keeping up with the latest technology can become very costly for businesses, especially for small and medium sized businesses. However, with the emergence of cloud technology getting access to the latest hardware and software technologies can be more cost effective. Many IT services companies offer Hardware as a Service (HaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for a monthly fee. These technologies have lowered the costs for managed IT services, allowing small and medium sized companies the access of these services for a fraction of the cost with no upfront cost. Here are some methods that businesses can reduce their IT costs.

1. Managed Monthly IT Service Contracts – move away from the cost break fix IT services and support method. It is outdated and extremely costly, with no guarantee of a resolution. It is important that businesses keep in mind that things do break in IT and products do have a shelf life. Having a managed IT service provider that knows the business network and configuration will help save time and money.

2. Long Term Planning – believe it or not technology is here to stay. Make technology part of your long term business strategy because businesses need technology to succeed in this day and age. Choose a managed IT service provider that has the capacity to grow with business requirements, whether this is adding new employees, new offices in various locations choose the IT services and support company that has the capacity to meet these requirements. Do not make IT services decisions solely based on price.

3. Centralize Technology – managing technology centrally will save time, money and resources. Systems require updates and patches on a regularly basis, having these centrally managed will ensure that these are never overlooked. Centralizing technology will ensure that data will be backed up and reduce the risk of data loss. This might involve an initial upfront cost dependent on your IT service provider although in the long run this is very cost effective and critical for business.

4. Spend Money on Quality – invest money in high quality products that will last a long time. Buy hardware products with warranty's and service agreements. Choose products that allow growth.

It is imperative to find an IT service company that can align technology with businesses long and short term goals. Every company will require something different from their technology, it is important that the local tech support guy at the local IT company can understand this.

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4 Business Strategies to Market Your Start-Up Business

A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs start small for a variety of reasons – lack of enough capital, constant worry about the possible success of the business, marketability of the products and services, and so on. Even if you're a start-up small business owner or a large company manager, though, you'll always have to think of your marketing strategies to promote your business to the right people. Here are a few tips you can try:

Go online

Even if you own a brick and mortar store, promoting your business should not be bound there. Social media nowdays is not anything new. People also gather to talk about business and various events online, and it's up to you how you can utilize the web to target specific audiences. Whether you have a physical store or an online shop, establishing your presence on the web is highly recommended. Invest in your own site or blog (which you should update regularly) or start by building interactive pages in social networking sites like Twitter.

Build your network

Always be in the lookout for ways and opportunities to build your network. These can be business contacts, existing customers and potential clients, suppliers, as well as industry professionals. However, networking just for the sake of networking will be useless in the end. Make it a point to get to know your contacts professionally so you can share your business ideas and maybe get professional advice in the process. Networking can provide you a variety of opportunities not only to market your business and expand your start up, but also innovative ideas to be successful in the industry.

Maintain relationship with customers

Doing business with a client does not end in providing excellent products or services. If you want to build a solid database of customers, make sure you maintain contact with your clients. After all, businesses should not only be about building relationships; sustaining these client and prospect relationships is also essential to business success. Extend business relationships through various platforms (whether online or offline) and continue to be visible so your customers will remember your business.

Connect with prospects and existing clients

Future sales do not only depend on new people you meet or do business with; you can also benefit a lot from your existing and prospect clients. Look for ways to connect with customers regularly so you can continue doing business with them. It can involve offering promos or free product samplings, calling or emailing them for monthly updates and newsletters – basically anything that can help you ensure their continued patronage. Aside from continued support, connecting with your existing customer database can also be a great way to bring in more clients through word-of-mouth.

Aside from time and effort, promoting a business also requires money. But since you're starting small, be sure to look for various marketing opportunities that are free, or at the very least, something you can afford. Look for options you can try and do not allow to do some trial and error to better market your products and services to your target audience.

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Booklet Tips – Community or Not

Looking at the topic of your expertise and the tips you write, you may serve audiences and markets that are more community based than not. Or the reverse may be true. This matters most when it comes to how you market your booklet and your other products and services both in attracting customers and in retaining them.

A group or a community of some sort can work well for people who want camaraderie and idea exchanges often associated with self-improvement in some way. You are probably pushing a rock uphill, however, if you expect to form a group amongst buyers and prospects for pre-employment assessments you sell, for instance. Those people search for the best vendor for them that product and service and are not typically interested in participating in a group focused on what's involved with pre-employment assessments. They just are not.

Knowing what your current and future clients want when it comes to community helps guide you in your marketing efforts and in your product and service development.

It can make a lot of sense to create an online discussion group on Facebook or LinkedIn or a face-to-face MeetUp group in your region if that's how your people behave and if that's what they want. That's a match when they tend to learn from and get support from each other. They absolutely can often become more informed, more educated buyers of what you offer.

No matter how much you've got to teach your buyers about using the pre-employment assessments you sell, they will probably not respond to learning the ups and downs, ins and outs of those hiring tools from other people within a group. It makes no sense to put your efforts into establishing and expecting to support any type of community online or offline for those folks.

Evaluate where your sales come from and requests and suggestions your people make. Do they respond to your online presence and, if so, at which social media sites, if any? Maybe they reach you primarily through a key word search, arriving at your website rather than any social media site at all. Or you may have a company or a practice that thrives primarily on referrals, and your publicity and promotional activities are a secondary way of attracting and retaining those who are sent to you from satisfied clients or people who know your excellent reputation.

ACTION – Pay attention to your people, to what they do and do not do. It is very possible that they have completely opposed to “popular” trends. Your mission is to serve your clients the way they want to be served, which means taking stock of what that is. You may want to do a small test to see if other means of attracting and supporting them make sense. Whatever you do, stay alert to the sometimes-enticing statement that starts with or includes the concept of “everyone is …” That is simply not true. One size does not and never will fit everyone. It is up to you to notice and offer what best fits your audience, whether it is online, offline, community, no community, or something that no one else is doing at all.

Turn Your Tips Into Products, Your Tips Products Into Moneymakers TM “

© 2014 Paulette Ensign

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Internet-Based Tools for Business Success

You're probably one of those enthusiasts entrepreneurs who up to start a new business. That's actually very commendable as many large corporations started as small business franchises once upon a time; however, there may be unforeseeable roadblocks that may rise ahead as your business develops. To avoid turning small mishaps into a monstrous problems you'll need to do something called “lateral warfare.” This is a military term / strategy that is employed when you're facing an overwhelming number of enemy forces. that you have the essential tools for business success readily available at your disposal.

Since you have limited time, manpower, and budgets, you'll need to spend your money on cost effective tools. Having a solid team and the right tools will ensure that you'll be able to do more with what little you have and it's called efficiency. You may want to try these 8 useful tools for business success if you're a small business owner.

Internal Chat Systems

It takes about 11 seconds – 1 minute and 12 seconds for an employee to get up from his desk, go to another desk and discuss something important with his / her boss or co-worker. Imagine if 50 employees does this on a daily basis. You would lose 1 precious hour each day which was supposed to be used for office productivity. You will essentially eliminate that problem with an internal chat system in your company.

Document Storage Systems

Since the computer was invented and marketed for public use, the one most important uses of computers was its ability to store large files in hard drives the size of a salad plate. Document storage systems has proven over decades to be one of the most essential tools for business success.

Time Tracking Solutions

Time is the number 1 enemy of any business franchise whether small businesses or large companies. Sometimes you'll get frustrated over a project that takes forever to complete and this is bad, because it will greatly affect your ROI (return-on-investment). Fortunately we now have excellent time tracking software! They'll help you accomplish tasks and big projects with a customizable time management system, so you can gain huge grosses on your fiscal income.

Billing and Invoicing Software

The pile of invoice receipts and bills can be such a pain in the neck when the time comes to pay them off or call the customers for a paycheck. You will find that a billing and invoicing software will like cut all the time it needs to do all this, and that it is one of the important tools for business success.

Enterprise Q & A Programs

Employees are at the forefront of your business and they would know best how to improve it (although collectively of course and not as individuals). This is why it might be good to encourage a Q & A program for the improvement of your business from their perspective. Think of all the money you'll save instead of hiring a think tank.

Website Traffic & Rankings Software

Let's not forget that virtual every business franchise now needs an internet portal. If you want to track your website's progress and prominence on the web, then the best tools for business success would include web traffic and ranking software. Google Analytics and Alexa are good examples of this.

Social Media Management Tool

It is a fact that you can get customers from social networking sites within those that walk in your business establishment's front door. Well there are only 40+ social sites on the web and more are popping up each year. In order to counter the management fiasco you're going to have to use Hoot-suite or Social Flow. These and many other social media managing tools allow you to post and update your social media portals from a centralized platform.

Third Party Sites where you can Outsource Small Jobs

Due to the state of the economy these days it is more beneficial to have an employee do 3 or more different tasks for their fixed salary, than to hire more people to fill in the needed job positions. But that's only possible if your business is in China or somewhere in Asia, it's not usually the case here in America. I'll have you know that there are literally hundreds of thousands of qualified freelancers online who can do those small jobs for you at half the cost. Some of the best tools for business success are those that you least expected.

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How To Qualify For The Women-Owned Small Business Certification

If you are a woman and run a small business, you can apply for the women-owned small business certification. To qualify, the business must be at least fifty-one percent unconditionally and directly owned and actively controlled by a woman who is a US citizen. The business must be considered a small business as defined by the NAISC code. It is recommended for a company to be in business for at least six months before applying for the certification.

Why certify?

Most local, federal, and state government procurement agencies, as well as big corporate buyers, have programs in place which ensure that a certain percentage of business gets alloted to women-owned companies. That's why they want to be sure that their reporting for dollars spent with women-owned businesses is credible – hence the certification.

That makes getting certified as a women-owned small business an added advantage for your business when competing for contracts, as your contracting opportunities are expanded. This certification is going to supply credit to women-owned small business owners by providing them with the proof of ownership, which is increasingly being requested by both the private and the public sector.

If you want to get supplier contracts with the government, getting certified is the way to go. So, how can you get the women-owned small business certification? Be prepared to set aside quite a big chunk of your time, and start collecting papers!

There are three types of certification available.

You can get certified by the federal contracting agency. This type of certification does not require a formal certification process (with the exception of the US Transportation Dept.), though that may change in the future.

You can apply for a formal certification process in many cities, states, and counties. This type of certification requires a site visit and providing financial statements. There are also private certificates, but they may not be a good fit for every small business, as the return on investment is just not there (for most).

In terms of getting business, one type of certification is not more advantageous than another. Many businesses, though, opt to get certified on multiple levels, depending on which type of work they plan to bid on.

The application process consists of submitting all the paperwork required, and an in-person interview at your place of business. If for any reason your business is denied certification, you are allowed to appeal the decision, or wait for one year to reapply. Once you are certified, to maintain the certification, you must apply for renewal each year or it will expire.

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