Sunday, February 28, 2010

How To Build Your Online Consignment Business

Get the Word Out! Consignment is a simple concept—taking other people’s products and selling them for a percentage of the sale. According to Skip McGrath, of, a successful eBay PowerSeller, “[Consignment selling] is the fastest growing phenomenon on eBay.” The key to successful online consignment is marketing your services. You really have to promote your business, and McGrath shares some techniques for doing just that. There are four areas you’ll use: advertising, public relations, networking, and creating a website. 1.Advertising: the market you’re in will determine your course of action here. The Retail Market—selling products for ordinary people: • Door hangers • Classified ads in small to medium-sized market newspapers • Flyers • Posters • Radio spots • Attorneys—estate executors and bankruptcy processors The Business to Business Market—selling excess inventory for retailers and manufacturers: • Classified ads in business journals • Direct mail • Attorneys—bankruptcy processors • Local charities and not-for-profits—rather than always asking their supporters for money, they can ask them to donate products you know will sell. So you can build a relationship that’s profitable for both of you. 2.Public Relations. • Write a press release, print out a copy and mail it to all your local newspapers—they’ll promote your new business in hopes you’ll advertise with them. • Community groups—the Lions, the Jaycees, your local chamber of commerce. These are especially useful for business marketing. Your chamber of commerce should have a newsletter that you can advertise in and every chamber member in town will get. If you sign up for a community group, volunteer for something. You’ll make more contacts and be taken more seriously than if you just show up to the meetings to gain more contacts. 3.Networking •The McGrath 3-foot Rule. Explains McGrath, “I always have business cards on me…and anyone that gets within 3 feet of me [is] going to learn what I do.” •Cold call on potential customers. Walk around the business section of town (or your neighborhood for retail) and let them know that you can help them liquidate their surplus merchandise. If businesses seem reticent, offer to let them give you one or two pieces as a trial and then make sure you do a good job selling those. •Build a database of your customers. Collect business cards and stay in contact periodically. Send an email, send a Christmas card. Retaining customers is easier than finding new ones. 4.Create a website • Try to include your city and the word “consignment” in the title—these are very popular search terms right now. • Have a link from your site to your consignors so they can check the status of their own auctions. • Send out emails or newsletters through your website to your customer database. You may find some methods work for you better than others, but the main thing is just to let the world know you’re there—get the word out!

5 Ways Blogging Can Help Your Business

Not long ago, a diary was a deeply personal thing — a journal of thoughts and observations, kept under lock and key and often buried in a dresser drawer.

The Web has a way of changing things. Now, a diary of thoughts, observations and insight — posted on the Internet — may be a way to boost your business.

Web logs, or "blogs" as they're better known, have become a way to engage readers and potential customers of businesses big and small.

A blog is a journal posted on a Web site, updated on a regular basis and containing news, opinions, ideas and brainstorms. It might also have links to other sources of information, other Web sites and other blogs.

Many blogs cut both ways, inviting readers to post feedback on what they see. While that can apply to everything from sports and entertainment, it can also generate interest — and, ultimately, income — for your business.

No, blogs aren't for everyone. But see how they can accomplish these five basic business objectives.

1. Expose a new or little-known product or idea

For Grant Smith, blogging makes a world of sense on a number of levels. Smith operates a business that provides streaming video e-mail and related video communications products. Since many prospective clients might know little about video e-mail, Smith says his blog is a natural way to provide specifics.

"I began blogging to get established in the technology," Smith says. "It can have a positive impact for business. Readers are always looking for more ways to find out information about companies and for ways to interact."

That, in turn, can lead to a more informed customer and a more time-effective sales process. Rather than taking time to pitch your product or service to a client who may not need it, a blog supplants you as an information source. If a prospect contacts you, that's great. If not, you've wasted no time in explaining something that generates nothing in return.

2. Improve your search engine rankings

Blogging also puts you in touch with prospects in other ways. As any company with a position on the Internet realises, Web site visitors that come via Google, MSN and other search engines can provide numerous leads. Blogs can add to the frequency with which search vehicles identify you and your company, particularly if your blog allows readers to post a response.

If done properly, blogs have a tremendous benefit relative to search engines, according to Brad Fallon, president of SEO Research, a search engine marketing firm. "With blogs that allow comments, every new post and every new comment becomes an additional Web page filled with additional keywords to be picked up by the search engine spiders," he says.

3. Position yourself as an expert in an industry or field

Blogging also can also prove an effective marketing tool to establish yourself as an authority in your field. Not only can that generate leads, it also sends a positive message about your credentials through the marketplace and also gives your business a face and a personality.

4. Influence public opinion

Blogging also allows users to bypass traditional journalistic venues and, in effect, become a publisher of their own thoughts and viewpoints. For Steve Rubel, vice president of client services at a public relations firm, blogs are also fast becoming a powerful influence on public opinion.

"Blogs have evolved into legitimate alternative sources of news on niche and micro-niche topics," Rubel says. "Anyone with a passion and dedication could become an amateur journalist. I feel some of these sites — in aggregate — are having just as much sway on public opinion as larger, more established media brands."

5. Engage in a forum openly with your customers

Just as important, blogs that solicit reader comments can provide a sense of immediacy with your customers. In one respect, that's a ready source of feedback on what you're doing right and what you need to improve.

"My blog provides a forum for customers to give feedback after plunking their money down," says Fallon. "The result? While the normal market is lucky to have one-half of 1% of customers send an unsolicited testimonial, I have already collected glowing testimonials from over 15% of my customers."

Product Links

• Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003

• Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003

• Microsoft Dynamics CRM


• Solution Advisor

• Product Advisor

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How do I communicate with my virtual assistant?

A very valid question but also a very easy one to answer. First, you must remember that your professional virtual assistant is a human being, just like you, and just like someone who may sit in the office right next to you. She has feelings, morals, standards, kids, pets, and a life - just like you. While I can't speak for other virtual staffing agencies, at Team Double-ClickSM, we go to great pains to be sure our clients can communicate directly and openly with their virtual assistants. This ability is vitally important to any business relationship and especially that of a businessperson and his or her assistant. Without that communication, there is no exchange of ideas and tasks. We do monitor communication between our virtual staff and our clients, but this is simply the mechanics of our business model in motion. We monitor these communications to first be sure the communications are there and second so that we can step in if we spot a problem or see something that can be done more efficiently. However, we encourage our clients to get to know their virtual assistants on a personal level as well. As with any relationship, the better you know one another, the better you'll be able to anticipate one another's moves, needs, and pet peeves. Now that the "why" is out of the way, we can talk about the "how". Of course, there are several options for communicating tasks, assignments, and other matters to your virtual assistant: E-Mail is a very effective mode of communication when working virtually. It allows you to quickly attach a file and send it to your virtual assistant so that she may make changes, print a letter and mail it, or keep it as a reference. Be sure to talk to our Client Services Rep Denise Schrock or your virtual administrative assistant if you need help attaching and sending files. Using the telephone to communicate with your virtual assistant, while obvious is quite underutilized and so simple to do. Tired of looking up your virtual assistant's phone number each time? Simply program her phone number into your office phones and cell phone's speed dial. One-touch dialing your virtual administrative assistant is a snap and no harder than buzzing a bricks-and-mortar assistant in the next room Instant messenger is another example of a wonderful technology, which is underutilized when it comes to communicating with virtual assistants. There are several excellent instant messaging programs and they're so easy to use. IM programs to check out: Yahoo: MSN: AOL: ICQ: With an instant messaging program you can, with just a couple clicks of the mouse, type messages back and forth with colleagues and your virtual assistant - all in real time. You type, she types, and before you know it, the questions you and she had are all answered and you can move on. Caution - time wasting opportunity: It's easy to get hooked into "chatting" with someone on IM, which can soak up a lot of time. IM should be used for quick questions and quick answers, and then back to your tasks. IM was not meant to take the place of the telephone for giving lengthy instructions or holding very involved e-versations. Snail mail, while very retro, it is sometimes necessary. With so many technologies at our fingertips these days, there's very little use for snail mail except for the most formal of business communications, marketing mailings, or sending supplies to your virtual assistant. Faxing your virtual assistant is also a popular means of communicating tasks and lists to your professional virtual assistant. However, if the items you're intending to send via fax are in electronic (editable) format already - it's best to send it as a file attachment. That way your virtual assistant doesn't need to retype everything and spend unnecessary client dollars. Check out eFax at for the latest in electronic faxing - there's almost no need for a landline fax anymore. VOIM (voice over instant messenger) is my new favorite communications toy. What VOIM allows you to do is simply pull up your instant messaging program, click your virtual assistant's name, click the call button, and voila, it rings through the computer to her. Once the connection is established (which only takes a second or two) you can talk with your virtual assistant through the computer - no phone line involved). You can then quickly delegate tasks, give instructions, or ask questions without stopping to look up her phone number, and without typing out a lengthy email. At Team Double-ClickSM, we've begun implementing the Yahoo! VOIM program and with wonderful results. If you'd like to give it a try, go to and download the software - it's ridiculously easy to use and best of all, it's free! Just keep in mind that VOIM will only work with other people who download the newest version of the Yahoo! software and have a microphone and speakers on their computer. There are many great ways to communicate needs, likes, dislikes, tasks, and training to your virtual assistant. It's all a matter of personal preference and what you're most comfortable using. Professional virtual assistants are flexible and will be happy to use whatever mode of communication you prefer. As technology advances even further, well, who knows how we'll be communicating next year or even next month!

High speed print & apply

A company has launched a high speed print and apply solution for variable information labelling. The ALX 720 is suited to the print and application of information such as pricing, ladder or picket fence barcodes, stock numbers, batch codes and general promotional labelling. It prints and applies up to 250 labels a minute, depending on label size, and has a label stop accuracy of ± 0.5mm. The system uses the latest thermal transfer, near edge, 300dpi print head technology to produce high resolution output in a choice of 17 fonts, including OCR/A and OCR/B, as well as two scaleable fonts. Digitised drawings and logos can be imported for incorporation in print designs. Applying labels to the top, sides and base of a variety of cartons, containers, packages and products, the ALX 720 prints at speeds of up to 300mm per second and labels at speeds of up to 30 metres/min. The company says that, unlike 1:1 print and apply systems – where label application is limited by print speed – the ALX 720 has a label buffer between the print head and dispensing edge. This, it says, enables greater flexibility and optimum speeds to be achieved at both print and apply stages. The unit features the company’s automatic product speed following technology as standard. This ensures accurate labelling through the continuous monitoring and automatic adjustment of the labelling speed to much product presentation to the labelling edge, says the manufacturer. Print and dispense functions are controlled through individual membrane keypads, located on the front of the cabinet, with system status visible on integral LED displays. The control system incorporates 1 Mb of dynamic RAM memory as standard, with an RS 232 serial interface also included. This enables print data to be generated and controlled from a linked PC, mini or mainframe computer system if required. An optional RS 485 interface is also available.

5 Tips To Successful Joint Ventures

When businesses think of team building, business owners usually associate it with building their company’s internal workforce into a lean-mean fighting machine.  Team building, however, should be extended to include external relationships such as those with other businesses.  Enter joint ventures or JVs for short.

Joint ventures generally are business partnerships established between two or more parties (individuals, business groups, companies, corporations) for the purposes of expanding the business and achieving merits by joining forces and working as a team. The parties involved in joint venture agreements complement each other, leverage each other’s assets assets, compensate each other’s weaknesses, and at times equally share risks.

Less than 5% of businesses actually use joint ventures effectively and most don’t even use it at all.  In order to get the most out of joint ventures correctly, multiple factors such as choosing who to partner with, approaching potential partners correctly, negotiating a win-win deal for all parties involved, and having a well-coordinated execution need to be taken into consideration.

There are several types of joint ventures. Big companies may join forces to become even more powerful and thus dominate the market, while small companies may team up to build a stronger presence in their market niche in order to fend off bigger, resource-rich companies. JVs can also be used to gain access into foreign markets. Foreign companies often form joint ventures with indigenous companies that are already present on the market, but lack capital or financing to truly take advantage of the market potential. Foreign companies can bring money, new technologies and competitive strategies into a joint venture deal, while benefiting from the relationships and the brand of the domestic company.

These complementary partnerships benefit all the businesses involved if set up correctly with the right partner.  Here’s a powerful but simple example of a JV that many businesses can take advantage of to grow their small business fast.  It is a highly efficient method of increasing business profits by teaming up with another partner whose business is non-competitive and offers a highly valuable asset, a highly responsive client list that would be interested in your products or services. By tapping into this hidden goldmine, small businesses can save thousands of dollars in marketing expense to reach their target clientele while achieving the goal of boosting the bottom line.  The business offering the vehicle in which to reach these clientele, the client list, benefits from offering complementary products and services that it does not sell and makes a cut of the sales generated from marketing to this list.

Here are 5 tips for joint venture success:

- Choose your partners carefully.  A joint venture has greater chance of being successful if partners have an excellent reputation. An essential component to good team building is having the right partners.  They must be trustworthy and have a high level of integrity.

Joint ventures involve extensive team building effort because it is a relationship between two parties and if the relationship is to last, it must be nurtured and kept going.  Both parties must be able to trust each other and deliver on each other’s promises.  To find the right partner, perform solid market research and approach only businesses you would want to do business with long term.  If you want to form a partnership with a certain company, make sure that its business practices are in-line with yours. It would be very difficult for you to form a reliable team with people who lack motivation or professionalism, so you should look for well-trained, open-minded potential partners.

- Know what to expect from the beginning of any JV relationship.  Know from the start what your goals are, what you want to accomplish, and see if your goals are attuned with the partner.  Each company should come up with a marketing plan and clearly specify what is expected from their potential partners.

Plan your strategy ahead of time and make sure you cover all the legal aspects stipulated in your joint venture contract, like resource availability and management, special allocations, mutual gains, deductions and income issues. Stick to the business development plan and establish new priorities and goals as you progress. By efficiently managing resources and by maintaining a good, competitive business policy, you will secure the longevity and the success of your business.

- Draft proposals like mini-sales letters.  Compose a professional proposal letter explaining the advantages of the joint venture in a convincing way. Keep it short, clear, concise and coherent while briefly introducing your business and why they should do business with you.  Remember to tune in to the radio station your prospective JV partner listens to, WIIFM or What’s In It For Me.

If you want to propose a joint venture to anyone you have to give them a really good reason why they should do it.  Otherwise, they will most likely decline your proposal. Big, successful companies receive many joint venture offers so you have to stand out. You should educate them about the advantages and the benefits of choosing you over the others. If this partner happens to be a dream partner, stay persistent as persistence demonstrates sincerity and determination to make it work for the potential JV partner.

- Avoid shooting too high with your offers.  If you are a smaller business, do not target your offer to a large company first as it will most likely be thrown away.  Instead of aiming too high at this point, establish successful joint ventures with small companies in order to get noticed by the bigger, powerful ones.  Establish a reputation as a solid business owner who knows how to turn joint ventures into gold for their partners.  Businesses naturally gravitate towards successful businesses.  Remember to toot your own horn by announcing JVs through press releases and/or articles in trade magazines.  As your business expands, the competition will quickly become aware of your presence, and there is a chance that powerful companies might come up with proposals of joining forces with your company. 

- Be honest and open with all business transactions always.  Once you have negotiated the details of the joint venture, the actual work begins. In order to keep things going, a lot of trust, understanding and expertise are needed for ongoing team building on both sides.  Maintain an open dialogue and always address issues upfront before it becomes a bigger problem that threatens to break up the partnership.

These are the basic rules for joint ventures and it is ultimately up to you to see whether a deal will be successful.  Learn with each joint venture deal to improve on the next deal.  Deals can only be made if you go after them.  With lots of hard work, you’ll develop enough expertise to be a joint venture expert and take your business to the next level.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Have You Heard About Streamline Magic?

Have You Heard About Streamline Magic? Dear friend, As a valued subscriber, I wanted to let you in on a great opportunity available to you : New members get placed under you from existing members... And, you start earning from there very first one :-) Plus, here's what else you get: * Your very own website setup! * Pre-written ezine-in-a-box! * Instant Daily Cash Bonuses & Two Automated residual income sources! * Step-by-step marketing instructions to make quick cash! * FREE lifetime support and training from "real live" people! * And so much more... Get all the exciting details at: Whatever you do don't miss this revelutionary Internet opportunity To Your Success! Gregory Newton -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I Can Guarantee You Get Paid... Hi, Serious question for people who want to make more money. If I could honestly show you a way to generate up to $10,000 a month by simply visiting my new Streamline Magic website and locking in a position, wouldn't if be worth 5 minutes of your time to click the link below to see how simple it works? Do you see how it's nearly impossible NOT to make money with this system? Imagine... being able to spend $300 to 600 in advertising and still earn a strong residual income with only 20 sales. And 20 sales is a very, very conservative estimate. Most people who spend that much money in advertising make a whole lot more than 20 sales... Start applying the strategy outlined below and you can join that club! Are you ready to get started? To Your Success, Gregory Newton

5 Tips to Choose the Best Home Business Opportunity

With the rise of the Internet, there's never been a better time to launch a home business. Millions of people are choosing to work from home and make money on line, using only their computer and mouse. Millions more are involved in more traditional network marketing, scheduling parties and selling products to their friends, neighbors, and family. If you want to make money on line, how do you know what the best home business opportunity is for you? Read on for five tips to help you choose.

1. Know your options. There are tens of thousands of Internet-based home businesses, if not more. They range from multi level marketing opportunities to ecommerce to intellectual property sales. Your first step should be to find a website that has an overview of the best home business opportunities. This will save you countless hours scouring the Internet in order to find all of the choices available.

2. Know your strengths. Perhaps you're a great writer, and would enjoy - and profit - from taking public domain books and articles and crafting them into books and articles that you could sell on the Internet. Perhaps you're an experience network marketer and would do well selling products or online opportunities to others who want to break into the field of network marketing. When reviewing home business opportunities, narrow your field to those that play to your strengths.

3. Know your weaknesses. If you don't know the first thing about building websites, it doesn't make sense to choose a home business where you'll have to build a bunch of websites. Likewise, if you couldn't sell water to someone in the desert, don't go into direct sales. Even though you might find an incredible home business opportunity, if it doesn't dovetail with your talents, it's not for you. It's like any other job: there are jobs you're automatically qualified for, those that you can learn as you go, and others that are beyond your reach. Again, success lies in playing to your strengths.

4. Diversify your revenue streams. Despite what many opportunities claim, your best chances for success come when you bring in revenue from several sources. You may begin with one home business, but over the course of a few months, you should add several others. By doing this, if one revenue stream goes south in any given month, you'll always have backup sources of revenue.

5. Set goals and meet them. In order to be successful, you need to set goals. The goals you set should include revenue goals, marketing goals, and goals specific to the home businesses you're engaged in. Once you've set your goals, you need to make a plan to reach them. Then, you need to commit to doing whatever it takes to follow your plan.

Having a home business is incredibly rewarding. If you're a parent, you'll have more time to spend with your children. If you're retired, you'll have additional income. If you're a student, you can pay for your education. If you simply like the idea of giving up the hassles of a nine-to-five job, a home business will give you the freedom you desire. Just do your research, play to your strengths, diversify your revenue streams, and set and meet your goals, and you'll experience the satisfaction that being a successful home business owner can bring.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grab This Great Business Opportunity

If you’re looking for a flexible or part-time job, or perhaps one that you can grow into a full-time business over several years, then you should consider the vending industry. We tend to take vending machines for granted, although we use them all the time. Whether we’re at work, at the gym, in a shopping mall or in a bar, vending machines have become an integral part of retail life. Why is vending a good sector to be involved with? With the proper approach, the right sites and great customer service, vending can be a lucrative business. The benefits of working in vending include: • Flexible hours – you can choose when to service and re-fill your site machine • Site choices – you get help to choose profitable sites • Grow at your own speed – add to the number of sites in your own time, expanding as you want to • Local area – use sites in your local area to keep your business close to home • Income control – earn as much or as little as you choose As office parks and out-of-town shopping centres increase and site owners try to keep costs down, the vending sector is ideally placed to take advantage of the demand for quick-access food and other products. As a vending operative, your only responsibility is to ensure that the machines are properly sited, serviced and filled, and the money collected. Once the site owner has received their commission, you divide the remainder in accordance with your agreement with the vending company. By identifying and securing the right sites and providing an excellent service to the site owner, you could find yourself reaping the rewards of the growth in the vending market almost immediately. In the long term, it pays to consider this sector when you’re thinking of starting a fledgling local business.

5 Tips on Maximizing Opportunities to Earn at Home

There are few people who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to earn extra money. After all, the sluggishness of the economy means that our money just doesn't go as far as it used to. When you add in the mortgage crisis and job outsourcing, it only makes sense to find ways to make money at home. In times like these, extra cash can help make ends meet or pad your bank account a bit just in case the unthinkable happens.

Unfortunately, many people who want to work from home don't take the steps necessary to find the right opportunities and ensure their success. Here are five tips to get started and stay on the right track.

1. Write down your motivations. To find the right opportunity, it helps to get clear on why you want to earn money from home. Do you want to supplement your income, to have part-time work while the kids are in school, or do you want to save for a vacation? Whether you are looking for some extra spending money or you need the money for necessities, putting pen to paper and outlining why you want to earn money will help you focus and stay motivated.

2. Make money online. If you have a high-speed Internet connection (as most people do), it literally pays to look for ways to make money online. After all, you already have a computer, so why not work at home and make your own hours? Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people are already making part- or full-time incomes online. Shouldn't you be one of them?

3. Find the right opportunities. It's sometimes difficult to figure out which work at home opportunities are legitimate and which will work well with your skills and interest. The best place to start looking is a website that provides visitors with a comprehensive listing of the top-rated opportunities to earn money from home. That way, you can be assured that the opportunities have been researched and investigated, and that the company or companies you choose to work with pay on time, give excellent support, and will help you earn from home.

4. Do the math. Once you've written down your motivations and have reviewed opportunities to work at home and make money online, you need to determine your financial needs. When you know how much you want to make, you can do the math and figure out the amount of time you'll need to commit to reach your goals.

5. Treat it like a job. While it's true that working from home means that you can set your own hours and work as little or as much as you'd like, the only way you'll truly succeed and earn money at home is if you treat it like a job. That means setting regular "office hours" where you're free from distractions and can concentrate on your efforts to make money online. Perhaps you want to work while the kids are in school, or maybe you're a night owl and want to work from midnight until three in the morning. To increase your likelihood of success, though, set a regular schedule and stick with it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get paid For What You Think

Get Rich Quick Scams Revealed Read this article before you consider paying for a "get rich quick" program. From: Get paid Everybody would love to make lots of money quickly, working from home, and only doing a few hours of work per week. I've spent the past two years trying to find a great way of doing this. Only over the course of the past few months have I found any "get rich quick" programs worth buying. I've been trying to make money online for a long time. I had a few small websites, but they never made much more than a few hundred per month. It was easy money and didn't require much work on my part, but I knew there were people out there doing better than I was and I knew I could do as well as them. Now, I've seen a lot of "get rich quick" programs. Most of these people make claims about earning $2000/day with Google or something similarly insane. Almost all of these people are complete liars. Even if they were making $2000/day with Google AdSense, it'd be because they had high- traffic websites with a lot of quality content. I'd know, because in one whole month, I never even made half of what they promised I'd make daily with their programs. Maybe you've already been scammed by one of these fraudsters. Anyway, I finally got sick of what was being offered. I decided I'd look through the all of the "get rich quick" programs I could find and see if there were any that were actually legitimate. I found that there were owners selling their programs for well over $100, but the information in them could be found almost anywhere online for free. Additionally, they all contained out-of-date information, had no e-mail support, no money back guarantees, and broken links in the downloads section. In conclusion, almost all of the programs I found were completely useless. The owners knew it, but they couldn't care less about their customers since they didn't offer refund policies! Amazingly, while looking through all of the programs, I actually did find a few legitimate programs. They were run by ordinary people like you and me, and they had found some great methods of making money from their home by doing very little work. I spent some time working with those programs, and my income is now ten times what it used to be. These programs provided a large amount of great information on how to make extra money on your computer doing very little work. Numerous customers had provided great feedback and reviews for their products. Many of them have started to make money just days after buying! Their programs have excellent prices, and the authors have a group of paid staff who are dedicating to helping you or providing assistance if you need any. I must say I was amazed! If you do decide to purchase any of the programs listed below, I recommend you join quickly. Most of the owners tell me they are getting an overwhelming number of sales and plan on raising prices in the near future, so order while prices are still low! To Your Online Success, Get paid

5 Tips for Valuing Yourself to Get What You Want and Deserve

Copyright 2006 Red Ladder, Inc.

I often have the opportunity to talk with many women about pricing and valuing - both themselves and their businesses - when delivering two of my popular seminars: profitable pricing and negotiation. The ability to value yourself, coupled with strong negotiation skills, are critical in terms of determining your own worth and value, and the value which others place upon you.

Society typically determines value through monetary measures - what you make in terms of salary if you work within the corporate realm, or revenue generated by your business if you are an entrepreneur. In one of my newsletters, I asked subscribers to respond to the question of whether or not there were disparities in the value that society places on work performed by women. Over 65% of subscribers agreed that there were indeed disparities. Not surprising when you look at the differential in earnings between men and women.  Yet, I also find that women help to perpetrate some of the devaluation that occurs. Does this make me mad? You bet. So, how do we perpetrate the cycle? Let me give you some examples.

Think back to the last time you changed jobs, asked for a promotion or submitted a bid on job that you wanted and perhaps, desperately needed. When it came time to ask for the salary you wanted or the fee you deserved, what did you do?

Many women I talk to tell me that they are guilty of what I term the "psychological" one-down. Instead of asking for what they wanted, they had a conversation with themselves telling themselves why they wouldn't get what they wanted. The outcome: they wound up asking for less than what they wanted or deserved, and in many cases, less than what they would have been able to receive. This sends a subtle message that we don't value ourselves and therefore, society doesn't need to either.

So what can we do to stop this cycle of devaluing women's work and worth in society?

1. Take inventory of yourself and determine your unique value proposition.

2. Determine the skill sets that you need and make time to practice those skills regularly.

3. Help other women by placing a high value on the contributions that they make.

4. Eliminate the negative self-talk and work on improving your own positive self-esteem.

5. Treat yourself with the same respect and value you give to colleagues.

And finally, remember believe in your value and others will too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Friends, Family and Neighbors

Copyright 2006 Shannon Lavenia Friends, family and neighbors - the do-gooders who are always willing to give you advice about your life. Ever wonder why, when you are about to take a leap of faith into something awesome, your friends, family and neighbors are all too eager to warn you of the pitfalls. I call it the "Get By Rule". What's this you ask? Well, if you asked your friend for $1500.00 to pay the bills and feed your kids b/c you were down and out, your friend, brother, sister, neighbor would most likely say "Sure Thing - Always Here to Help a Friend in Need." They are happy to help you GET BY. After all, being charitable makes people feel good. So does knowing they are in a better position than you - it's a sense of accomplisment. Now, ask the same person for $1500.00 to start a new business and they'll spend time telling you about how many people fail at "those things", about the times that they failed, that only a few people succeed in business, etc. etc. They'll ramble on giving you tails of unsubstantiated BS to deter you. And, they won't lend you the money. Why? Because although they are willing to help you Get By they aren't willing to have you PASS THEM BY. It's as simple as that. This became so clear to me after listening to Caroline Myss' audio program Invisible Acts of Power. What invariably sets the people who succeed apart from those who never take a chance is the decision to move foward towards their goals regardless of what other people think. My personal success has evolved by choosing carefully who I am willing to take advice from. When someone wants to offer me advice, direction or guidance, I simply look at the results the person is getting in that area of their life and decide whether or not I'm going to choose to listen to them. For example: If someone wants to give me financial or business advice, I look at the level of success that person has had in business or financially, and then I'll choose whether or not to take on their advice/direction. I personally wouldn't take advice from someone making less than $100K a month. I wouldn't have someone with no experience in real estate tell me how to invest in it. If you are about to venture into a business, decide what you want and go for it. Don't allow your friends, family and neighbors to prevent you from passing them by. Many people simply fail in MLM because the company they are with tells them to go out to their friends, family and neighbors - the black cloud of success. Doing so, for the person who chooses to NOT be deflated, can be very profitable. It can also be the kiss of death if that is your only way of marketing. When selecting a company to work with, choose a company with a well formulated system and marketing plan. One that teachers you how to advertise in a wide variety of media to get your phone ringing with people eager to speak with you. And if you need to borrow the money to start your business, use the money you'd pay your bills with and ask your friend for money to pay your bills!

5 Tips for Estimating Your Start-up Costs

<h3>Before you take out a second mortgage, use these rules to figure out the realistic costs of setting up a business. </h3>

<B>Have a Solid Plan — Then Change It </B>
<p>Most business start-up stories say that you have to have a business plan. And you do. But that's not the beginning and end of figuring out your start-up costs. </p>
<p>Jeff Shuman, who directs entrepreneurial studies at Bentley College, says, "The conventional wisdom is that an entrepreneur sees an opportunity, comes up with a business plan to capitalise on it, determines the capital that needs to be raised, raises the capital and then applies it to building the business described in the business plan." </p>
<p>There's one major problem with that model, says Shuman. It all hinges on getting the business right the first time, and that doesn't often happen. "In reality, it's likely that some of your initial assumptions are pretty good and others aren't going to be worth the paper they're written on," he says. </p>
<p>Shuman and others say that figuring out your start-up costs means regularly reviewing your assumptions and changing your initial model. Writing a plan is good because it forces you to write down everything you are going to need to start your business. </p>
<p>But that initial plan is likely to change repeatedly as you learn new things and incorporate them into the plan. </p>
<B>Be Willing to Pull Back </B>
<p>It's tempting to add up everything you need for the full-fledged business you imagine, and decide it's what you need to start out. </p>
<p>But pulling back and looking for a smaller model can give you a way to get started while also saving money. Shuman uses the example of someone who calculates the total cost of starting a retail business in a local shopping centre. </p>
<p>"You could start that way and write a business plan based on that amount," he says. "But maybe you'd be better off renting a stand and testing what the demand is for your products at that location." </p>
<p>This consumer testing reduces your initial start-up costs. The result is that the initial cycle of your business is dedicated not so much to generating profits as to generating information. "With this, you can fund your business on a cycle-by-cycle basis," Shuman says. "When you go for the second cycle and for expanding your business, the numbers are now based not on focus groups or surveys but on real-world experience." </p>
<B>Calculate Prices and Time Correctly </B>
<p>Calculating your initial cash flow is part of figuring out your start-up costs. It's an area where businesses are sometimes less optimistic than they should be. "Small business owners may under-price their product or service, thinking they have to come in at the lowest price point to compete," says Barbara Bird, who chairs the business management program at an American university. "They don't necessarily need to do that." </p>
<B>Correctly Estimate Your Start-up Time </B>
<p>Yes, when beginning a business, time can be money. Let's say you're going to have fixed costs such as a monthly lease. If you have to make improvements to a space before you can actually open for business, those fixed costs are going to be additional start-up costs until you can actually open for business. I've watched many entrepreneurs draw up a timeline for their ventures and get tripped up on the safety and inspection requirements imposed by local agencies. </p>
<p>For that reason, I think one of the first places a prospective new business owner should go is to the local government planning or license department. Construction permits and inspections can push a prospective opening date back by months. If you fail to take into account the cost of this time, you could be short of working capital right at the start. </p>
<B>Be Realistic About the Cost of Money </B>
<p>Many <a href="">small business</a> owners finance their ventures by running up big balances on their personal credit cards. Others tap the equity in their homes. </p>
<p>But self-financing isn't a practical option for larger ventures. Tom Emerson, who directs the <a href="">entrepreneurship</a> centre at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, says start-ups should figure in the cost of capital when determining initial expenses and cash flow. "The cost is usually based on what the interest would be, were that cash invested in something with similar risk on the market" Emerson says. "It's usually a figure that is a few percentage points or more above the prime rate." </p>

Monday, February 22, 2010

Franchising Information You Can't Live Without

Franchise businesses can be very lucrative. Perhaps you're thinking of starting a franchise business in your area or another type of brick-and-mortar business. If so, here are some quick tips and franchising information to help you get started. Just like wealthy men such as Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, and Robert Kiyosaki, you too can realize success and build wealth for the future. What It Takes to Start a Franchise There are several requirements to start a franchise. Most legitimate businesses do require a start-up investment. You might be required to stock inventory, pay for landscaping, remodeling and advertisements, hire and train employees, pay for legal and insurance fees, and so forth. These are just a few of the costs you may incur. Also, consider the time it might take to make a profit. Sometimes new businesses can take up to a year or two before you can enjoy profits. You also have to be a people person and be willing to learn from others who have tried and tested techniques before you. In a franchise business you can still be creative, but some methods of business and promotion have already been proven to work. You must be willing to follow in the steps of others on the path of success. Franchise Success To realize franchise success, you should also be willing to work hard and be consistent. Keep a steady cash flow so you will have enough capital to operate your business. Find creative ways to meet your business capital needs. Find an established accountant that can guide you through the financial process. You'll need an accountant's wisdom in more ways than one throughout your business years! The Small Business Association (SBA) can also be a great resource of capital. Study Franchising Information and Sales Techniques Study all the franchising information you can gather before deciding on a franchise business. This will help you understand how it works and be prepared for any unexpected bumps in the road. Also, study sales techniques related to your products or services. You can have a fancy building, place full-size ads in the local newspaper, place large, attractive signs and banners at your storefront, but you'll need to know how to sell to the customers when they arrive. Your employees will also need to be trained correctly in sales. Alternatives to Brick-and-Mortar Franchises If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of starting a brick-and-mortar business, there are lucrative alternatives. With certain types of franchise opportunities, you can enjoy the success of a franchise business without all the hassles of owning a physical business in your local area. Business gurus like Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, and Robert Kiyosaki often readily reveal their secrets in step-by-step training materials to help you start and build your franchise. They benefit when you become a success and share your story with others. You benefit by gaining valuable knowledge from people who have already walked the path of success. So before getting started, use the above franchising information to determine if you have what it takes to start your own franchise business and also which type of business will work for you.

5 Tips for Buying Custom Vinyl Decals Online

It's never been easier to purchase custom vinyl decals and other types of custom signage. From custom wall lettering and magnetic signs to boat lettering and registration numbers, you can design your own signage or have a team of designers do it for you with a few simple clicks of the mouse. Here are five tips for buying vinyl graphics online:

1. Look for Versatility

A good online custom sign shop should be able to fill a variety of types of orders. When it comes to custom vinyl decals, for example, they should provide everything from auto decals and bumper stickers to rear window decals and custom wall graphics. Using a full-service online sign company will enable you to get all of your signage needs met, including those for custom signs, custom banners, vehicle lettering, and digital decals.

2. Timeliness is Key

The most reputable online sources for custom signage will make a commitment to providing the fastest on-demand printing at the best prices. An online sign shop should be able to ship your order within three days of your acceptance of the final proof. For large orders, the shop should be willing to give you a shipping date and work with you to accommodate your needs.

3. Guarantees are a Must

There are many inferior products in the marketplace, so the sign shop you choose should stand behind what they sell. Although the lifespan of custom vinyl decals and other signage can shortened by adverse weather conditions, you should receive at least a limited one-year warranty against peeling, fading, or failure.

4. Simple Design Steps

The sign company you select should make it easy for you to design your own custom vinyl decals. They should have a friendly user interface that you can use to enter text and choose options like fonts, sizing, spacing, color, border, shadow, and other effects. You should also be able to upload your logo, images, and other graphic elements within the interface. As you're creating your design, you should be able to preview it to make sure it's exactly what you want.

5. Straightforward Installation

When you receive your custom vinyl decals, you should also receive easy-to-follow installation instructions. The best online companies provide you with some of the materials you need when your order exceeds $30 or so. Similarly, the company should provide you with instructions on how to remove custom vinyl decals, as well as how to care for your vehicle lettering.

Using custom vinyl decals and other forms of signage are a terrific way to advertise your business, express your personality while accessorizing your vehicle, and give friends and family members personalized gifts. Once you find a reputable sign company, you can take advantage of the latest technology and use their online tools to create your own masterpiece from the comfort of your home or office.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Five Considerations for Point of Sale Hardware and Software

Whether you own an apparel boutique, gift shop, sporting goods store, or any other consumer merchandise outlet, deciding upon a point of sale (POS) system implementation can become a crucial factor that affects whether you store succeeds or fails. Here are five elements to consider before you buy: 1. Getting the Right Implementation Team Out-of-the-box solutions may work for some enterprises, but most will benefit from a professional analysis and implementation. Companies that are experienced in, for example, Microsoft point of sale implementations can help guide you toward selecting the right hardware, as well as installing the underlying network and customizing the software. 2. Choosing the Software that Fits Your Needs If you own a boutique, your software needs are different from those of a restaurant owner. Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (also known as Microsoft RMS or Microsoft Dynamics-RMS), for example, is tailored to small- to medium-sized retailers. It can automate inventory, automate purchasing management, and streamline transaction processing, while being scalable to meet your needs as your business grows. 3. Minimizing Disruptions Implementing new hardware and software necessitates a certain level of disruption, but you should choose a solution that is specifically designed for easy implementation and adoption. In other words, your store should stay open for business and your employees should be able to quickly learn the system. Microsoft POS solutions, for example, utilize build-in wizards and intuitive user interfaces to make learning the system quick and painless. 4. Integrating with Other Software Solutions Even if the software you select streamlines POS transactions, unless it's integrated with your other systems you won't get the most out of your investment. Ideally, your point of sale software should connect to your business information and processes and be able to communicate with, for example, Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel. 5. Enhancing Marketing Efforts The best point of sale software can become an important component of your marketing toolkit. Thanks to tracking features, POS software can enable you to launch highly targeted marketing to select customers, such as those who have purchased certain items in the past or those who have indicated a preference for certain merchandise. In addition, it should allow you to set up promotions and discounts, as well as suggest up-sells at the register so your employees can talk about the products to your customers. Keep in mind that, when you select a point of sale software solution, you should be able to get all of the features you need. For example, you may want to quickly add new items to your database, or enable a matrix that allows you to differentiate between similar items (such as the same dress style) by attribute (such as size and color). Likewise, you may wish to print out customized labels for your price tags. Perhaps you need software that will work for multiple stores, or maybe customized reporting and metrics are critical to your business. The bottom line is that, with the right implementation team, point of sale software and hardware can catapult your retail business to the heights of growth and success.

Email Spelling Quiz

How good are your spelling skills? Please don’t say, “It doesn’t matter. I have spell checker!” Remember, the spell check function will only catch misspelled words. It won’t verify you’ve used the correct word. If you haven’t experienced an embarrassing situation where spell checker missed a mistake, I’m sure you have a friend who has. Spell checker is a great tool. But, since you can’t rely on it completely, let’s find out how well you can do on your own. Try this spelling quiz. Spelling Quiz Directions: In each statement, select the correctly spelled word from the choices given within the brackets [ ]. 1. The attorney filed a tax [lean, lien]. 2. The little boy tracked [allot, a lot, alot] of mud onto his mother’s new white carpet. 3. He was [already, all ready] in trouble for putting a green frog in his little sister’s bed. 4. The driver was going 95 miles per hour when he [passed, past] the police officer. 5. The server glared at the man as he made his fifth trip to the [dessert, desert] table. 6. She found a parking spot on her [forth, fourth] time around the block. 7. Please use the blue corporate [stationary, stationery]. 8. The [cite, sight, site] of the world’s biggest ball of string is a great place to take your family. 9. That tie you bought is a wonderful [complement, compliment] to your dark blue suit. 10. His wife’s opinion will [effect, affect] his choice. Solutions 1. Lien is correct. It is a legal claim on property for payment of debt. Lean is incorrect. A loan shark may lean on you for not paying a debt, or you could lean your ladder against a wall. As a noun, “lean” refers to meat that is low in fat — as in a skinny cow. 2. A lot is correct. It refers to an amount or quantity. There is no such word as alot. Allot means to distribute or assign, “I will allot $50 in the budget for new boxes.” 3. Already is correct. It means “previously.” All ready means completely ready. “She is all ready to go.” 4. Passed is correct. It is the past tense of pass. Past means something is over or no longer current. 5. Dessert is correct. If you add an “s” and read it backward, it spells “stressed.” As everyone knows, desserts can cure any stressful situation. As a verb, desert means to leave without permission, or to abandon. As a noun, the word desert is pronounced differently. The noun “desert” is a hot, dry place that is not well known for its sweet stuff, although you might go there if you desert your dessert. 6. Fourth is correct. Simply use the number four and add “th.” Forth means going forward. 7. Stationery is correct. Remember that the word “stationery” has the letters “er” in it, the same as the words “paper” and “letterhead” do. Stationary means not moving or fixed, as in a stationary bike. 8. Site is correct. Site is a noun. Site refers to the place where something is, or will be, located. Cite is a verb meaning to quote or to mention. Sight is the ability to see. 9. Complement is correct. Think of the “e” because the words in the definition also contain “e’s” -- that which completes or perfects. To use compliment, think of the “i” in the word, to say, “I want to give you praise.” 10. Affect is correct. This one is easy, once you remember that “affect” is always used as a verb meaning to influence. Usually, “effect” is a noun. If it is used as a verb, the word effect means to bring about, as in “to effect a change.” Score: 10 = You’re perfect. (But, you knew that already.) Keep emailing! 7 - 9 = You’re okay. Be a little more cautious, though. You could learn a few tips from my book, Email Etiquette Made Easy (see link in resource box). 4 - 6 = You could use some help. Try my book, Email Etiquette Made Easy (see link in resource box). Less than 4 = Ugh! Call me now! We’ll schedule your intense therapy immediately. Spelling Results How did you (do, dew)? Don’t feel (too, to, two) overwhelmed if (you, ewe) didn’t do (very, vary) well. (When, win) it comes to these words, you don’t have to memorize all of (their, they’re, there) meanings. The (key, quay) is to use this quiz as a (cue, queue) to recognize which words to look up.

5 Tips for Becoming a Successful Home Worker

There are a variety of reasons why people consider becoming a home worker. In some cases, people who are retired need some extra income. In other instances, a stay-at-home mom might need money to supplement the family income. Sometimes, a person decides to launch a home based business in order to achieve a specific financial goal, such as a family vacation or home repairs. Other times, people simply get tired of the grind of commuting, answering to a boss, and working predetermined hours.

There's no doubt that a home based business opportunity can provide extra income for retired people, money for moms, and the extra cash for a family vacation. It can even replace a primary income so that a person can quit his or her day job and make his or her own hours. Unfortunately, though, making the decision to become a home worker is only the first - and the easiest - step. The next step is succeeding in your home based business. Here are five tips to help ensure you succeed in your quest to become a home based worker:

1. Set aside time each day for your home based business. Although there are many home based opportunities that will earn revenue with a minimal amount of work, the more time you put into your business, the greater your financial rewards will be. Designating a certain number of hours per day (or per week) will help keep you on track.

2. Minimize distractions while working. If the kids are running around, your friends are calling, or you keep getting up to do laundry or other household chores, it will be difficult to sustain your home business. Create ground rules to minimize distractions, and have the discipline to stick to them.

3. Have patience. Despite "get rich quick" promises, the typical home based business opportunity will not provide you with immediate income. Have patience at keep at it to reap financial rewards, but make sure you have a revenue "bridge" that will keep you going until your business begins to generate returns.

4. Diversify your revenue streams. The successful home worker generally has several - if not many - revenue streams. This way, if one aspect of the business falters or has a slow period, others can fill in the gap. Take a building block approach: start with one home based business and add another when the first starts generating a steady income.

5. Make bookkeeping a priority. Oftentimes, a home worker will let bookkeeping go by the wayside. Revenues from his or her business will be intermingled with personal finances, or his or her recordkeeping will be less that pristine. The Internal Revenue Service keeps a close eye on home businesses, so it's crucial to keep your business income and expenses separate from your personal income and expenses. It's also important to keep and record all receipts for expenses. If you keep good financial records throughout the year, it will be much easier to do your taxes when April rolls around.

Being a home worker is immensely rewarding in terms of income potential, making your own hours, and doing work that interests you. Success lies in choosing the right home based business opportunity, sticking with your commitment, and keeping good records.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

E-Banks that Accept US Casino Players

Recently, the US Federal government banned online casinos from operating in America by making it illegal to transfer money to them through any US bank or payment system. As a result of this law, most of the popular online casino networks such as Party Gaming and PlayTech left the United States. Overnight, online casino players found themselves being chased by the Federal government. But, after a fortnight, the online casino industry came up with a solution and new online casinos started taking root. These began to operate under a different business umbrella, and by doing that, rendered the transfer of money to and from them legal. A major part of this was enlisting electronic banking systems that would accept this new clarification and start doing business with me. Listed in this article are the electronic banking systems that accept players from the United States that wish to play in online casinos. The Payment Systems You Can Use: 1, 2) MasterCard and Visa: The most popular credit cards in the world, you can use these for depositing money into your casino account. But, please note that the casinos do not deposit your winning through your credit card. They use one of the other electronic payment systems. This is also the biggest reason why you should refrain from using your personal credit cards today for gambling. 3, 4) Visa Delta, Visa Electron: These are debit cards that one can use to deposit cash into their casino account. By debit card, it means that the money you pay through the card, is immediately withdrawn from your bank account. This is a comfortable option, but here too, you cannot receive money into it. 5) Neteller: Based in the UK and traded on the London AIM Stock Exchange, this e-bank company is one of the major independent electronic banking entities in the world, and it allows players to transfer money to and from an online casino. 6) Neteller Instacash This is Neteller's version of the Debit Card, and, in fact, it is just like any other debit card with one difference. To use, InstaCash, you have to pay a small amount. But, most casinos will offer to pay this for you, so read their regulations. 7) EcoCard Based in the European Union, EcoCard offers a wider range of electronic banking solutions than the other e-banks. Other than the regular card and debit system, you can decide beforehand how to create a flexible financial account. Because they use a wide network of banks in Europe, transactions made through EcoCard are quick and efficient. 8) FirePay This e-banking system is solely web-based and carries out its transactions just like a debit card. You place cash into your FirePay account, and then, you can use that money to pay or deposit into your casino account. While it will not cost you a dime to open an account, you will be charged a minimal amount each time you transfer money from your bank account to FirePay. 9) Moneybookers All you need to open an account is an email address! This e-banking system uses transactions from your credit or debit card or your bank account to whichever company you wish to move your money to. Regulated in the UK and run by Gatcombe Park Ventures Limited, this is one of the relatively new e-finance companies that allow transferring money to online casinos. 10) eWalletXpress: Owned and run by Navaho Networks Inc, eWalletXpress is a new electronic payment system that has been created to answer the need for US players to transfer funds to online casinos. 11) 900Pay: This is a completely different e-banking system. Instead of charging your bank account or your credit card, 900Pay charges your telephone bill for all your financial transactions. This is one of the fastest methods of electronic payment because you do not have to go through a long and detailed sign up process. And, if you were wondering, this does work to fund your casino account.

5 Tips and Tricks for Using Word for Business

<p><b> Handy features can save you time and money </b></p>
<p>Most people don't use every feature built-in with their software applications. We tend to pinpoint those we find helpful and call it a day. <br>

Here are five features within Microsoft Word, the word-processing software in Microsoft Office that I use in my business to save time and money. <br>

  <li><strong>Create and design your company's letterhead, choosing from an array of free clip art from Microsoft. </strong><br>
    One thing every business needs is official letterhead. You don't have to buy it. If you know the design you want, you can create it in Microsoft Word and save it as a template to use time after time. <br>
    Creating a letterhead doesn't have to be complicated; it can be as simple as the company name, address and telephone number. Word provides a wide variety of fonts, and you can vary type sizes. <br>
    You may want to add art to your letterhead. You can scan in your logo and use it in your letterhead. Or there is another option. <br>
    Microsoft maintains a huge collection of free clip art. For instance, if you want to add a flower, Microsoft has more than 1,000 designs. The clip art collection is available to registered users of Word. You'll find it at Microsoft Office's Design Gallery Live. <br>
    Microsoft also offers free templates for letters, labels and forms. They're located in the Template Gallery. (Most run in Word, although some require other software programs. For example, the project management templates require Microsoft Project 2000 or a later version.) <br>
  <li><strong>Send the same letter to many people without addressing each separately. </strong><br>
    Sometimes you need to make an advertising pitch to all of your customers. Or you want to announce a change in your staff. This can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be. Word's Mail Merge tool simplifies things greatly. <br>
    Basically, Word uses a list of names and addresses from a table. The table can be created in Word, in Microsoft Access or even in Microsoft Outlook. All are part of Microsoft Office. <br>
    This obviously works best with planning. You'll probably need a database and Access is the better way to go for that. But the learning curve here is much steeper than putting everything in Excel (also part of Microsoft Office). I'll use Excel as the example but keep in mind that you have more choices. <br>
    Start this process with your letter. The same letter goes to everyone; you can't do a lot of customisation. When you write the letter, leave space for the person's address and the salutation. <br>
    When setting up Excel, you obviously need the person's name and address. You'll also need a salutation field. If Rocky Jones is one of the people receiving the letter, you might want the salutation to be Dear Rocky. If your relationship with Dr. Rocky Jones is more formal, the salutation might be Dear Dr. Jones. So the names in the Salutation column would be "Rocky" or "Dr. Jones." <br>
    Next, open your letter. Click Tools &gt; Letters and Mailings &gt; Mail Merge. Follow the wizard's directions on the right side of the screen. To select recipients of your letters browse to your list of contacts in Excel, Outlook or another database. <br>
    In addition to letters, you can address envelopes and labels with Mail Merge. It can make life a lot easier. <br>
  <li><strong>Add a watermark to a document so everyone knows that it is a draft. </strong><br>
    If you are circulating a proposal to your staff, you don't want it mistaken for the finished product. A good way to avoid that is a watermark that says "Draft," "Confidential," "Sample" or anything else you'd like. <br>
    A watermark is clearly visible on the document, but does not damage the legibility of the writing. You can even establish it in a variety of colours. <br>
    You can also use a picture for a watermark. Suppose you run a flower shop. You can use a drawing or picture of a flower that would appear on everything you print. How cool is that? <br>
    To use the watermark, click Format &gt; Background &gt; Printed Watermark. Make your selections and click OK. If you expect to use a watermark regularly, create a template (see No. 1 above). <br>
    Remember that there is a fine line between cool and irritating. If people must struggle to read the document because of the watermark, they may give up. Be sure you have "semitransparent" or "washout" selected. <br>
  <li><strong>Keep an eye on changes that people are making to documents. </strong><br>
    When a sales plan or another document is returned to you, it is sometimes difficult to see changes made by others. Word has a simple way to show them to you. <br>
    Here are the instructions for Word 2002/2003: First, open the newer Word document. Click Tools &gt; Compare and Merge Documents. Browse to the original Word document. Click it once to highlight it. In the lower right corner, click the drop-down box and select "Merge Into Current Document." <br>
    For Word 97/2000: Click Tools. Go to Track Changes. Click Compare Document. Find the original Word document and click it once so it is highlighted. Click Open. <br>
    Sometimes, the development of a document is so arduous that we lose sight of what we're trying to do. Looking back at previous versions can help. <br>
    That's easy to do in Word. Click File &gt; Versions. Select "Automatically save a version on close." Every time you close the document, that version will be saved. <br>
    When you want to look at an old version, follow the same path. All of the versions will be listed in the box. The most recent will be on top. Highlight the version you want and click Open. <br>
    You can turn off this "versioning" feature by clearing the check mark from "Automatically save a version on close." Or, you can delete individual versions. Just highlight the ones you want to dump and click Delete. <br>
  <li><strong>Use a shortcut for many of your tasks. </strong><br>
    For some tasks, I can work faster using the keyboard than the mouse. You probably know the standards: Ctrl+C to copy, Ctrl+V to Paste, Ctrl+Z to Undo, Ctrl+A to Select All and Ctrl+P to Print. But here is a list of other shortcuts you might find helpful as you use Word. <br>
<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
    <td width="166" valign="top"><p><strong>Keystroke </strong></p></td>
    <td width="456" valign="top"><p><strong>Result </strong></p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Alt+Ctrl+C </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Copyright symbol </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Alt+Ctrl+Period </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>An ellipsis </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Alt+Ctrl+R </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Registered trademark symbol </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Alt+Ctrl+T </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Trademark symbol </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+B </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Bold text </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+E </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Centres a paragraph </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+End </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Skips to the end of a document </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+Enter </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Inserts a page break </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+F </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Opens the Find menu </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+G </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Go to a page, bookmark, footnote, table, comment, graphic or other location </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+H </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Opens the Replace menu </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+Home </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Skips to the beginning of a document </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+I </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Italics text </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+N </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Creates a new document </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+S </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Saves a document </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+Shift+F </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Changes the font </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+Shift+P </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Changes the font size </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+U </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Underline text </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+W </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Closes adocument </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Ctrl+Y </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Redo the last action </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Esc </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Close an assistant or tip window </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Shift+F3 </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Changes the case of letters </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Tab </p></td>
    <td valign="top"><p>Move between cells in a table </p></td>

Friday, February 19, 2010

Diverse Hampers

Business Services UK carry out independent small business reviews from selected businesses within the UK. Diverse Hampers Diverse Hampers is a relatively new venture that is located in Somerset, the business is owned and managed by Niki Stewart. I asked Niki about her business life and why she decided to start up Diverse Hampers. After leaving school I started up an office supply company that became very successful, the company had an average turnover of £1.5 million. However due to personal circumstances I decided to leave last November. I realised there was a niche in the market for providing unique tower hampers within the UK. After spending 6 months researching the business concept, I launched Diverse Hampers in June this year. Diverse Hampers is slowly growing into a main player in the hamper sector. Niki is well aware she needs to concentrate her efforts on improving her online business model and continue with her marketing strategy. Her company not only provides hampers to the general consumer, she also targets the corporate world by sending out free miniature samples. This strategy is gathering momentum and leading to an increase in orders. I have fully researched the hamper tower business within the UK and I believe Niki is right when she says there is room for Diverse Hampers to become the main provider in the UK. There product is very attractive and I can see franchise opportunities in the future. There is also potential to move this business into the European market. Niki is a passionate about business, she is very experienced in business marketing and although Diverse Hampers is still a relatively new venture it is already showing the signs that it could grow into a much larger business. The best testament we can pay her business is that we have already ordered our own hamper from her company. The team at Business Services UK wish Diverse Hampers all the best for the future. We are sure with a lot of hard work this business will turn this into a huge success.

5 things to keep in mind before you buy a Steel Building

To extract the maximum usage out of a <a href="">Steel Building</a>, it is necessary to invest prudently and wisely in any purchase. The more one is aware of the tricks of the trade the better is one’s judgment regarding <a href="">steel and metal buildings</a> and more will be the possibility of making an appropriate choice while buying.

<b>Factors to be considered while buying a steel building:</b>

<b>1. Building Codes: </b> The primary factor involved in purchase of any steel building is the complete knowledge of various building codes of your state. It is the responsibility of the buyer to seek approval from the building codes office. All the specifications laid down need to be verified by the steel building buyer while keeping in mind the specifications mentioned in the building codes. After the verifications have been done, only then the contract can be signed. These codes; if not present in the contract can lead to difficulties in seeking approvals. Therefore to avoid any obstacles in the way of owning your <a href="">Steel Building</a> it is advisable to be aware of all the building codes.

<b>2. Financial Factors: </b> The second most important factor to consider while buying a <a href="">Steel Building</a>  is the cost of the whole project. The steel building company that is offering you best deals should be able to provide the you with detailed information regarding monetary resources that will be spent in the construction of the steel building. One should not get allured by the companies that offer ‘cheap steel building deals’ without investigating it completely. Make sure that you are not compromising on the quality of your steel building and that the deal doesn’t exclude some obvious charges which will be levied later. As a steel building buyer, you should always have more than one option as far as the choice of the steel building company is concerned; so that you can make the buying decision after completely evaluating all the steel building companies on certain parameters that are vital. This will enable the you, as the steel building buyer, to get the best steel building deal and also ensure the authenticity of the steel building company.

One of the most essential parameters to compare of the <a href="">Steel Building</a> companies you are considering is the parameter of finance; if a steel building company is offering x amount of dollars as the total estimate of the project and the other is offering the same project at a much lower price, then it is important not to get carried away by low price but to critically examine the two offers and try to know the reason of such a discrepancy in the estimated cost of the same steel building project. Today the cost of modulating, installing and assembling also figure in the same building but it is quite less as compared to he conventional method of construction; as the labor used gets reduced and with it 30 to 50 % cost also gets reduced.

<b>3. Quality of the Material Used: </b> Quality of the material i.e steel or metal is an important factor to consider while buying a <a href="">steel building</a> . The strength and lifespan of any steel building depends on the type of material used. Thus quality of the material should not be compromised on.

<b>4. Paperwork:</b> After finalizing the steel building company, the next step is the paperwork - the agreements and contracts. It is to be made sure that all the interaction is organized in writing which will include all the contracts and propositions of the steel building company that you select. Some <a href="">steel building companies</a>  may also ask for a verbal approval for the factories to get the work started.

<b>5. Time Duration:</b> Steel buildings take around 60 to 90 days to be erected. You should be aware of the time that the steel building company will allocate to the completion of the project and also the life span of the steel building that is to be constructed. A <a href="">steel building</a>  generally has a life span of 25 to 30 years.

Information regarding the above mentioned factors will fully equip you - the steel building buyer, or the investor to make the right choice and hence buy the right <a href="">Steel Building</a>.

<b>© Copyright 2008, City Steel Buildings - All rights reserved. </b>

This Article is Copyright protected. Republishing & syndication of this article is granted only with the due credit, as mentioned, retained in the republished article. Permission to reprint or republish does not waive any copyright. The text, hyperlinks embedded on the article and headers should remain unaltered. This article must not be used in unsolicited mail.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Developing a Business Plan!

There are many important steps to consider when developing a business plan for your company, but the first step is to fully understand the main uses of a business-plan. The four main uses of a business-plan are as follows: • A Business Plan is a written document that you can use in your search for external financing. • A Business Plan is a tactical planning and management tool for your business. • A Business Plan is a document showing the capacity of your team to control and manage all the aspects of the company. • A Business Plan brings you new ideas to refine your project by checking and estimating the induced hypothesis. The necessity of Business Plans The drafting or update of your business-plan is essential to the good management of your company. It can be used when searching for a business partner, for obtaining external financing, and for defining some stages of the development of your company, such as: • The creation of your company. • The launching of a new product. • The establishment in a new market. • The transfer, buy-out, or the structural development of your company. Should you call in a consultant or write the Business Plan by yourself? You should be the main (if not single) author of your business-plan, because the Business Plan is, so to speak, your own "baby", it is a reflection of your personality; it is by this means that your investors will discover the person with whom they collaborate. But your project may be too important and you may want to call in a consultant for help and consultation. Even so, you should stay in control of its development! Tips for developing a quality business-plan. 1. To be credible, a business-plan must be coherent and each parameter in the Business Plan must be based on facts. 2. There are many methods to build Business Plans, but very few can help you correctly carry out reliable financial projections based on a preliminary commercial engineering and market study. Indeed, one frequent mistake when building Business Plan's is to first define the target in terms of market share, and then try to "find" the number of customers necessary to fill these objectives! This process should be reversed. 3. In addition, one essential point in a Business Plan is to define concrete policies and measures. This definition aims to gain a reasonable number of customers, based on a sufficient knowledge of the market. The quantitative estimate of this gain must be calculated on realistic monthly and annual increase rates. A well-founded pricing policy then makes it possible to estimate the sales turnover in the years ahead. The calculation of the costs of the planned actions in your Business Plan are essential and make overall financial projections possible. In short, financial forecasts – including those related to the financing of the project – must be elaborated from the basic elements of the project. They should be proceeded by a commercial engineering study which projects a realistic estimate of sales. 4. In a Business Plan, the marketing plans as well as the financial forecasts require a basic understanding of how these important elements are calculated. You can use good software – some of which is free – to faciliate the development of your Business Plan. 5. The last point and certainly not the least significant: A Business Plan is never ended "once and for all". A regular follow-up and comparison between the theoretical Business Plan and the reality of its execution are essential. You can then modify your Business Plan and adapt it to improve performance and achieve your goals.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Make Money Online

There are many ways to make money online today, and thousands of people are earning a substantial income from the comfort of their own homes. How are they making money? With a successful Internet business, of course!

Perhaps you want to earn a part-time income from home or start a full-time Internet business. Maybe you're a mom who wants to stay home while earning a living. Or, maybe you're sick and tired of the "rat race" and want to settle down with your own home business. Whatever the case, you can choose one of the sure-fire methods of making money online below to get started.

1. Offer Services That Other Web Business Owners Will Need

Many people earn money online while offering services that other Web business owners need on a continual basis. These services include Web hosting, domain name registration, web design, and content writing. Every new website must have a Web host, domain name, web designer and content. These services are available everywhere online, but fortunately, there's always room for a few more! Online users are starting new Internet businesses every day. So, the potential for making money online with these services is tremendous.

You can start from scratch with these businesses or find a company that allows you to resell its products and services. For instance, instead of setting up your own servers to become a Web host, you can become a reseller of hosting services and share a part of the profits. With this setup, your primary job is to promote the service. The parent Web host company does the rest.

2. Expand Your Present Business

If you already own a business, you can expand it by using a website. If your company has its own website, your customers can go online to learn more about you, buy your products or ask questions. It's a great way to advertise and build customer trust. Also, you can mention your website address in all your print, television and radio advertising to maximize results.

3. Start a "Niche" Internet Business

Many people start small Internet businesses that reflect who they are or what they enjoy. The word "niche" took on a whole new meaning when the Internet came into existence. A niche business can be anything you want it to be - an online flower shop, online classic car club, online magazine, online clothing store, online shopping mall, online photo stock agency, online candy store, online quilt outlet, or an online shoe store. Choose something you enjoy doing and find a way to build a small Internet business around that theme. And, don't let the word "small" fool you. Owning a small business is a great way to make money on the Internet!

4. Earn Money Online Through Auctions

Don't have time to manage a website? Try online auctions. You can sell just about anything at eBay and other Internet auction sites, but be sure you choose a market that has a strong demand. Some items sell well through auctions, some don't. Also, be sure to choose a product with a high profit margin so you don't lose money each time you list your items.

5. Provide Internet Marketing Services

Online company owners are always looking for effective ways to promote their websites. If you're a savvy Internet marketer, this business offers a tremendous money opportunity for you. You can earn money online while helping others increase their profits. Internet marketing today involves search engine promotion and SEO, Web content and optimization for article pages, pay-per-click campaigns, keyword research, press releases, banner and pop-up advertising, e-zine and mailing lists, and link exchanges. You can specialize in one of these areas or offer marketing techniques for all categories.

These are five proven ways to make money online. Each of these opportunities can provide a steady stream of income if you work diligently to promote your online business and services and always provide excellent customer service. Use these ideas to get started making money today!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cut Crystal And Hand Blown Glass Of European Quality Insures A Cherished Gift

Quality cut crystal from Europe can be a treasure trove for the discerning buyer. Exquisite hand blown glass and cut crystal manufactured by master craftsmen in the Slovak and the Czech Republic is now becoming more available to the western market. Today, cut crystal of anniversary gift and heirloom quality is just one of the many glass products to choose from. Although the Czechs and Slovaks are not the only skilled glass producers in Central Europe, few rival them in artistic range and expertise. Hardly a street in Prague is without a shop window that displays luxury cut crystal or fine hand blown glass. Visitors and tourists find breath-taking works of art exemplified in hand cut crystal and mouth blown glass. In Bohemia, the craft and art of glassmaking goes back over 600 years. Often a family tradition, the craftsmanship of glass is highly specialized from artwork to glassworks production. Today, Czech glass is still one of the European heirloom treasures to look for and select that "perfect unique gift." After the collapse of the Communist Socialist system in 1989, state ran glass factories in Czechoslovakia started down the path of privatization. More and more, they became free to make their own business decisions on which kind of glass they wished to produce and offer to market. Importers from the West also have more choices on goods and glass manufacturers as they are no longer required to go through state specified channels. The result has made world-class custom glass products from Bohemia, readily available to the world economy. Collecting glass is an obsession to some. Locating and acquiring antique glass collectibles can be as exciting as finding new heirloom cut crystal from the shops of master craftsmen. From crystal chandeliers to colored decorative glass, Czech and Slovak pieces have become more sought after as centuries pass. Heirloom crystal pieces can be cut to look like a faceted diamond in appearance. Leaded crystal is not the only top grade cut glass, some of the most elegant and expensive cut glass, in the world, contains no lead in it at all. Quality is reliant on the manufacturer and skill of the craftsmen rather than the type of glass produced. Glass gifts are part of the civilized culture. Royalty often designated custom decorative glass pieces be made for occasions. Today, cut crystal has not lost its allure. Anniversary glass gifts can be cut crystal pieces or hand blown items. Cut crystal is selected for any anniversary year, but very often the 25th Anniversary gift and again for the 50th Anniversary present. Culinary and kitchen items have become popular for glass gifts of distinction. Gourmet kitchens often show off imported olive oil and aged vinegar, in hand blown decanters and cruets. Recently in vogue are glass-within-glass decanters of oil and vinegar. Their unique quality lends them to be an exceptional gift of European style and design.

Creating Blissness From Your Business: Living In Rhythm With Your Heart And Soul

The word blissness came to me as a result of a challenge issued to me by my creativity coach. She was praising me on the progress I’d made in my fledgling business. I actually shuddered when she said the word "business," as it conjured up images of women in austere dark suits clutching heavy briefcases, sitting in endless boring meetings and never having time to do what they really wanted to do. My coach suggested that if I didn’t like the word business, to think of a different word to call it. I accepted the challenge. A few weeks later, the word "blissness" blossomed in my mind and I gleefully chose it for my own. I know that teaching SoulCollage® workshops and building my website, KaleidoSoul, is a business, but I choose to call it my "blissness" because it is giving me something that I never had before: an opportunity to share my passion for SoulCollage® with the world in a way that creates money and spreads joy at the same time. SoulCollage® is a personal growth tool (created by Seena Frost) that is a mystical, magical blend of self-discovery and the fun of collage. Each participant creates his/her own deck of collaged cards using magazine images that speak to the subconscious mind. A SoulCollage® deck has four suits that represent our personality parts, persons who have influenced our lives, animal energies that assist us as allies, and archetypes who resonate with and inform our life’s direction and purpose. Inner surprises abound as we interpret our cards and do soul readings with our decks. I knew immediately on making my first SoulCollage® card that I wanted to create a business revolving around it, but I had no idea what this would involve. However, I was so passionate about SoulCollage® that I dove right in. I had no business plan, and my only goal was to share the wonders of SoulCollage® with as many people as possible. The key to creating a blissness as opposed to a business springs directly from one’s passion (heart) and intuition (soul). There’s no way to create work that sings to you unless you are living that work from your own heart and soul. And in order to allow the flow of universal abundance, you need to be in touch with your own inner wisdom (intuition). I began by avidly continuing work on my own SoulCollage® deck. The deeper I went with the process, the more excited I became about sharing it with others. I set up a few local workshops in eastern Massachusetts, and began teaching. It soon became clear to me that I needed a website, so I did a lot of research and found SiteSell’s Site Build It (SBI), which not only has helped me build, but is helping me to market it as well. Getting KaleidoSoul up and running was a crash course in web design, internet marketing, keywords selection, and the basics of HTML, but I thrilled to the challenge. After that, each step I’ve taken has come from following my intuition. This has been a real lesson for me in being open, aware, and listening at all times. As I have continued on this path, I have found myself led to take the next step, and the next… I trust my inner hunches and follow where they lead. In this fashion I have created a monthly ezine called Soul Songs, found other websites interested in helping me promote KaleidoSoul, developed an active community of SoulCollagers on the Yahoo Groups board, written e-courses about SoulCollage, and am now getting ready for our first KaleidoSoul Kindred Spirits Members-Only Tele-Class as well as our first annual SoulCollage® Weekend Retreat this August. There are plenty of things about this blissness that are tedious, of course- photocopying flyers for my workshops, writing press releases and website updates, to name a few. Yet when I remind myself that this is all a part of my blissness, I am reminded of why I began it in the first place- to live in rhythm with my heart and soul. And then the monotonous tasks carry me forward to the next creative step. I wish you blissness in the daily rhythms of YOUR life and work.