Simplify Your Life and Make Your Business More Productive – 5 Systems Every Business Needs

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you oversee all aspects of your enterprise, often doing jobs performed by multiple individuals in much larger companies. Even when everything runs smoothly, this can lead to long days and a significant loss of income-producing hours. Put these five systems in place to simplify your life and make your business more productive.

1. Crisis management

You need to create written procedures for managing your enterprise in an emergency. If you are a solo entrepreneur, this would include everything someone else would need to know to carry on your business in your absence. If you have employees, this would provide the necessary details for completing crucial jobs. The plan would also give specific instructions concerning business disruptions. If you need work to continue as normal, you need a crisis management system.

2. Computer backup

If you use a computer, have a plan in place to back up your files regularly. How often you do this will be determined by your budget and by the amount of data you generate. If you use your computer infrequently, you may only need to do this weekly. If all of your order processing and fulfillment is computerized, you will need to safeguard these records more frequently. If you can’t afford to lose data, you need a computer backup system.

3. Customer follow-up

While you may not need a computer to do business, you do need customers. Even better, you want repeat customers. The best way to build a loyal following is to listen to your clients and provide great customer service. If you want to keep them coming back, you need a deliberate customer follow-up system.

4. Idea capturing

Your business probably started with one great thought. What if inspiration struck and you couldn’t remember your dream? Stay competitive by capturing and implementing great ideas. If you don’t want your business to stagnate, you need an idea capturing system.

5. Online presence content creation

Be systematic about creating content. Determine how frequently you want to publish articles, post to your blog, distribute your newsletter, contribute on social networking sites, and update your Web pages. If you want your ideal customers to find you on the Internet, you need to increase your online presence with a content creation system.

Create these five systems for your business now. By being proactive, you will have plans in place to deal with undesirable situations. The time and energy you invest today can save you time and aggravation in the future.

A crisis management system guards against prolonged business interruptions. Computer backup allows you to restore your files and records without extensive loss of information in the event of a computer crash. Planned customer follow-up cuts down on unhappy customers. Idea capturing decreases lost opportunities and time spent trying to remember. An online presence content creation system increases your visibility to prospects searching the Internet for your product or service. All of this will make your life simpler and your business hours more productive.

Establishing an Online Business Development Strategy

If you have any aspirations of earning an income online you will need to establish a business development strategy. The reasons are simple, your business venture will have to have a product or service, a way to promote it to the public and a plan to make improvements as needed. In this way your chances for online success will increase dramatically. When working online you will need to adapt to an ever changing environment by adopting new and improved strategies as you move forward, you must evolve!

Here are the 3 stages of any successful online business venture you will need to address when working online.

Creation Stage

Perhaps the most critical stage of developing any business venture is the creation of the ideas and/or concepts upon which the venture is to be based. Without a viable product or service all other efforts from this point forward will be futile. It is this point of the developmental process that will ‘dictate’ the strategies and direction of all other future efforts!

Innovation or creative energy can make you a shining shine and a tidy profit. whether it is a new product, new marketing tactic, new niche or something other!

Application Stage

Applying your innovations or creations takes another type of energy which involves more patience and diligence. Although not the flamboyance of the previous ‘creative genius’ stage this energy takes your idea and builds it into something that can deliver you financial security and online success.

Creativity is great and obviously required but until it is applied it is merely a dream. The actual application is what turns your ideas into a reality and what can actually make you money. At this point you are now bringing together your product idea(s) and blending them with your marketing strategies. Here is where you begin to enact your plan and make your creations available to the marketplace.

Refinement Stage

This stage of the business building process is ongoing as alterations will need to be make to adjust to changing demands and the marketplace in general. Refinements will likely need to be made to not only your marketing strategy but also quite possibly to your original creation (product) itself. This is a very natural and expected part of the ‘evolution’ of your business venture and what will make it grow stronger. You are merely adapting to the changing environment!

When starting out online to earn an income it is advisable to have some sort of business development strategy. A plan like this will enable you to put together and grow your business venture from the early stages into an income earning juggernaut. In fact your long term online success is dependent upon establishing and implementing such a plan! As you can see from the 3 stages reviewed above these tactical measure are not complicated, but do not let their simplicity fool you. For anybody with the aspirations of earning a good income by working online a strategy like this will be critical in terms of the degree of success achieved!

How to Start a Successful Business 1, 2, 3 – Part 5 of 6

As I know this is a rather lengthy article, I began trying to cut it down to spare my readers from utter boredom! However, there is a lot of good information listed here, and I feel it is important you have as much information in one shot, especially with these topics. In this article we will be discussing: 1. How to bring inventions and business ideas to the marketplace; 2. Filing for patents; and 3. Pricing your products and inventions for the marketplace.

Let’s get started!

As I started to write this article, I had a flashback… Back to the past, when when I first started working in the web design business, many years ago. Little did I know what a life-altering experience it would be for me, and how it would completely reshape my own business future. During the early ’90s, when the Internet was still in its infancy, we (meaning myself, my then-soon-to-be-husband, and our core group of geeks and crazies) were making websites! Big, funny looking, creative, clunky-yet-exciting, fun, and promising websites that were… by today’s standards… pretty scary looking! Big giant text boxes, giant buttons, images and tons of text links filled the 15″ barely color screen. There were no mentors to look to or gurus to listen to. It was the western frontier! I remember when we all learned how to make this cutting-edge creation known as “the an animated.GIF!” Long before the days of Flash integration or a slew of other technologies, we had parted the Red Sea! The Internet was the wave of the future and the future had arrived!

Back in the day, people from all walks of life would line up in droves at our Internet provider location – our “ISP” – with some of the craziest ideas and “inventions” I had ever seen in my life. When a customer wanted a website built, I would excitedly ask them, “do you have a sketch or idea of what you would like designed?” Proudly, out would come the infamous wrinkled napkin from the previous day’s lunch, filled with crazy doodles, drawings and food stains. THAT was their business plan – their blueprint as it were. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I knew this “napkin thing” wasn’t gonna work for long. Alas, I was introduced to this new “great new program” new to the marketplace, back in the day. Something called Quark Xpress was all the rave! You could draw cool lines and squares and make flow charts and even create newsletters! Wow. How exciting it was. The rest was history for our group; creating layouts and websites, and teaching people the finer points of business creation and management suddenly became a snap. Computer technology was amazing!

Those were fun days in simpler times. But, the Internet has changed dramatically since then, and creating anything has changed form dramatically. Today, when someone has an idea for an invention or a business, there is far more at stake than in yesteryear. Gone are the days of handshake deals, where your word was your merit badge of honor. Unfortunately, this is a day of theft, fraud and striving to protect what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. With that said, let’s talk about how you as an entrepreneur can protect your inventions, your ideas and your business, and bring them to the marketplace.

1. Bringing Your Inventions and Business Ideas to the Marketplace: First you must define a few things:

You must define your product: What is it? Is it a product or a service? Do you know the difference? That may sound silly, but you’d be surprised at how the overlap.
You must define your business model: What are you selling? Goods? Services? Both?
You must define your market: Who is your target audience or purchasing demographic?
You must define your market longevity: Will this product remain popular within a year? Five year? Twenty years? It is a passing fancy? Does it have potential to grow into something prosperous? Does it have the potential to go mass market?
You must definite your competition: How long have they been around? What makes them better or worse than you? Be honest with yourself in your assessment.
Then address these questions and issues:
Understanding your own product/service: If my mother can’t understand it, will the product or service actually sell? Don’t laugh at this concept! You must think about who the has spending dollars in your target market. What is their education level? What is their technology level? What are their needs?
Refining and streamlining what you have: You have to work out all the kinks… and there are always kinks! What can I do to refine, simplify or streamline my invention or product?
Protect Protect Protect! Do you have help protecting your assets? (In legal-eze it’s referred to as the C.Y.A. method or “Cover Your Assets” method. LOL: ) Do you have an attorney or legal service who can assist you?
Get a Marketing Plan, Man! Am I prepared to conduct market research? Do I have a marketing plan in place? Do I need to learn about marketing first? Do I know the current trends? Do I have someone I can hire to help me?
2. Filing Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents: How does a trademark differ from a copyright or patent? Many people are confused over the differences, which is very understandable because it’s confusing! In short, a copyright protects original works of expression such as novels and books, graphic and/or fine art, music, photography, software, video, cinema, choreography, and a whole bunch of other works. The copyright does prevent others from copying, stealing or commercially exploiting the artist or creator’s work. But, copyright doesn’t necessarily protect everything. For example: titles, names, phrases, even aspects of art may not be covered, depending on the nature of the work and what it involves. This is where a trademark comes in to play. A trademark protects distinctive, what I’ll coin, “commercial-esque” creations such as names, phrases, specially used words, logos, symbols, slogans, or any anything used to identify and distinguish products or services in the marketplace. Make a mental note that U.S. protections are different than global protections and involve even greater detail on a worldwide stage.
Now, there are many cases where a copyright and a trademark will be used together to protect different aspects of a particular product. For example, a copyright will protect the artistic creation of a graphic or logo, used to identify a particular business or company, while the trademark serves to stop others from illegally using it in the marketplace (illegally, meaning without the express permission of the company or creators). This approach is commonly used by advertising agencies and creatives. So in short, copyright helps identify and lock in the expression and the brand, the trademark serves to protect it by blocking others from infringing on it. Phew! Hope that explains it, in a nutshell!

The Difference Between a Trademark and a Patent: Here’s a whole other kettle of fish to think about. Patents protect specific inventions. For example, Joe invents a new type of socket wrench that is amazing, incredibly easy to use, and can remove any old socket head from any socket. Joe is going to be a happy camper with this invention. Not only can he block others from making, selling, or using his fabulous socket wrench invention, but he may also be able to obtain monopoly rights, preventing others from making commercial use of his invention, and that patent may last for 15 or 20 years.

Generally, patents and trademarks don’t overlap exactly the same way as copyrights and trademarks do. Patents are a slightly different animal with their own set of issues and conditions. When it comes to a unique product design or invention, you are protecting a “thing” versus a “design,” which has other legal ramifications such as functionality, style, materials used, etc.

Hiring a Patent Attorney or Patent Service: If you have invented a product, I highly recommend you find a good patent attorney. There are specialists in the field that know exactly how it all works, and what exactly is involved. There are also many online services available. My service of choice for these important necessities is LegalZoom (LegalZoom.com). I’ve used them before and I am very pleased with their service and performance. They are cost effective and I found them incredibly easy to deal with. There are all kinds of services available, either online, or you can even consult your local yellow pages directory, if you wish to seek someone local and in person. You may also go directly to the U.S. government websites for details, but I don’t recommend going directly because it is very complicated and confusing. If you do one tiny thing wrong, you have to start over from the beginning, which isn’t fun. When it comes to your creations, don’t skimp on what is important to you. You’ve worked too hard to get there, so make sure to protect your work properly. You’ll be very glad you did!

3. Properly Pricing Your Invention or Services for the Market: There isn’t enough room in this article to fully address the details that go into pricing goods for the marketplace. It is, however, very challenging for anyone in business. Setting the magic price on something can prove to be a bit overwhelming. Whether you’re setting prices for the first time, raising or lowering existing prices, or trying to keep up with varying economic trends, it can be difficult. Overprice your products or services and you risk losing business to competitors. Underprice it and you may drastically hurt your bottom line. What to do? I’ll try to give it to you in a nutshell:

You can’t base everything off of price alone, especially services: Yes, there is the competition. And yes, you need to keep prices lower in challenging economic times. However, “cheapest” rarely means “best.” I have come to find you usually get what you pay for. In many cases, rock bottom prices usually means rock bottom service. For example, my local auto mechanic is an awesome guy. He is not the cheapest or the most expensive mechanic in our local area. What he is, is fabulous. He’s local, he’s fair, he’s reliable, and he’s available. If I need help with my car, he shows me everything he’s doing. He uses the best parts and his entire staff takes great pride in their work. I never have to second-guess anything and that matters a lot to me.

Now, let’s address purchasing vs. selling products: Pricing services and products are very different. Why? Because, using my mechanic as the example, he is not a reproduced “thing.” He’s not a razor blade, or a 9-volt battery, or a package of paper towels. I can purchase those things anywhere at a super discounted rate, in bulk. With those everyday products such as batteries, razor blades, food, clothing, cleaning products, etc., I am going to price match and look for the best bargains for my household. After all, Windex window washing liquid is pretty much the same product anywhere it’s purchased. It’s a pre-fab “thing” being purchased; not a person. With that in mind, you have to price products for a bigger market.

Your bottom business dollar for pricing products: In order to set a good product price, you will need to do the homework on your manufacturing or development costs. What is your product (or products)? Are you the manufacturer of your product(s)? What does it cost to produce it? Can you afford to offer price matching? Will you offer wholesale pricing to distributors? What is your overhead? How much do you need to net out per item? There are countless programs such as QuickBooks and other software applications to assist you. If that isn’t an option for you, don’t be afraid to consult your financial advisor or your CPA to help you do the math. You may be surprised at how quickly you will find that right price with a little guidance. That person can help diffuse the fear out of the situation.

Don’t sacrifice quality if at all possible: This can be tough during inflationary times for many companies. If you produce a food or beverage product that uses, well say, sugar or flour, and those costs have risen dramatically, that affects your expenses and your earnings. But here is the hook: Switch that ingredient to something inferior and your customers will know it. Certain things cannot be faked, so beware of quality cutting. That can be a real killer.

Don’t be afraid to offer discounts and coupons, but do so intelligently: I will use the example of a popular restaurant, especially out here in California, T.G.I.Fridays. Whether you personally like this restaurant or not, I consider this to be a role-model company, to be watched and admired, at least from a business and marketing perspective. Restaurants are definitely a service business, but they also happen to product seller. In fact, restaurants in general, are one of the few business models that are both services and product providers.

So back to our T.G I. Friday’s example…. This restaurant has bent over backwards to help all kinds of communities that are struggling with a difficult economy (as of this writing). They have more discounts and bargains than just about any company I’ve ever seen. They have their “2 for $20” deal, which is a full meal-for-two with all the trimmings, including appetizer and dessert; they offer boat loads of “buy-one-get-one-free” deals; they offer a fantastic discounted Happy Hour, and the food is pretty darned good quality for what it is. It is not a five-star resort experience, but is a successful mainstream marketplace. The Friday’s restaurants. out here in Southern California anyway, are almost always stand-room-only, even during tough economic times. This company knows its market, its current and future market, its product line, and its bottom line. They know how to drive in the traffic, offer the good deals, provide an appetizing menu, and they do it right. There are plenty of large food chains floating around out there, who would never follow this philosophy, and their restaurants are dying on the vine (again, as of this writing).

There is an art, a science and a balance to building a successful business. Get too greedy and you will fail. Become too giving and you give the store away. Become complacent or cut too many corners and your sales will be drab. For those of us who love the art of the deal – the excellence of business creation – it’s an ongoing journey to strive for that perfect hit – that perfect home run.

Revealed – 5 No-Brainer Ways to Increase Your Audio Business Creation

A lot of marketers prefer creating audio products over writing ebooks and other written information base materials. The reason for this is very simple; CD series and MP3s are much easier and quicker to create as you don’t need to put everything into writing. You just have to speak your mind and share your knowledge by doing your recording. Depending on your topic and the length of your audio products, you can potentially create 2-5 units in just a matter of 24 hours.

Here’s how you can increase your audio business creation:

1. Carefully choose your topics. Go with topics that your potential clients will be willing to spend their hard-earned money on so you can easily sell your creations online. It would help if you can do a keyword research to figure out the most common or popular search terms within your niche or if you can send surveys to your opt-in list to determine the kind of information that your potential clients are looking for.

2. Do your research. Before you grab that microphone, I strongly suggest that you obtain more information about your chosen topic so you can make your audio products highly informative and more content-rich. Check out Google news, Yahoo! Answers, relevant forums and blogs, and other reputable sites like Wikipedia dot com.

3. Create a script or an outline. Ensure that your ideas will flow smoothly and that you’ll avoid long pauses and dead air by creating a script or an outline that can greatly help you all throughout the recording process. This can serve as your blueprint so stick to it as much as possible.

4. Make it personal. So as not to alienate your clients, ensure that you communicate your ideas using conversational tone. Be warm, upbeat, friendly, and spontaneous all throughout. Empathize when needed, insert appropriate humor every now and then, and don’t forget to ask questions once in a while to make your content sound more engaging.

5. Deliver quality content. Give your clients their money’s worth by ensuring that your audio products sound clear and crisp. They must also be loaded with valuable and useful information that your potential clients are looking for. In addition, they must be easy to understand, direct to the point, short, concise, and your ideas must flow smoothly to avoid confusing your listeners.

All-In-One Ecommerce Merchant Solutions – Affordable Website Business Creation

Attempting to break into the ecommerce business as a newcomer can be a difficult, if not impossible task these days. Many factors are involved in why it has become so difficult. Factors include web design and marketing. Find out more how you can get these ecommerce merchant solutions in one package that can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.

Product Sales
One of the first things that makes ecommerce difficult is having a product line that you can sell and deliver to your customers. Purchasing products upfront in bulk, storing them yourself and reshipping them to customers can be labor and cost intensive.

Website Design and Software
It requires technical expertise to be able to design and setup an ecommerce website. It can be costly to hire someone else to take care of these areas for your business.

Website Promotion
Once you have spent thousands of dollars setting up a website, purchasing a lot of inventory and paying to store all of it, you then have the obstacle of actually selling your products. This can actually prove to be the most difficult task of all and is the reason most businesses fail. It can cost a lot of money trying to promote your website through online advertising avenues such as PPC marketing.

Fortunately, there are solutions that have been created for people that have the desire to run their own home based business. These solutions are referred to as ‘Merchant Solutions’ and they offer all inclusive services that cover all of the various areas of starting an ecommerce website and business. Compared to the costs of pulling these resources together on your own, these merchant solutions will get your business running for a fraction of the cost.

Innovation and Business Creation

The world has witnessed the growing demand for innovation and business creation. The demands for these are so thick that the Internet is wired with different online schools and programs that cater to these endeavors. This is due to the fact that as far as economical growth is considered.

If you really come to think about it, innovation is all about growth and change. It creates new products and services for the people, which ultimately affect the current marketing trends. On the other hand, business creation sustains the financial needs of people. Job opportunities are produced because of businesses sprouting almost everywhere. Therefore, the two go hand in hand and are indeed necessary in this life.

Innovation Breeds Business Creation

A successful business offers a product or service that is unique from others and that appeal to a certain market. Instead of coming up with variations of what is already existing out there, coming up with something new will prove to be more beneficial for you can get yourself away from the competition and become the leader in an exclusive market.

This is what innovation is about. It gives less focus on the things that should be done and tackles the things that can be done instead. Although it does not have to be always a radical thing that can shift matters on a large scale basis instantly, it should always be a principle of any smart entrepreneur.

In addition to that, it does not have to be always about products or services that would be offered to a certain market. It could be about business procedures, operations, management, advertising, marketing, sales, and other things that can set you apart form others. In the long run, you will come to realize that cyclical innovation is a fundamental way to sustain businesses.

Business Creation Breeds Innovation

Businesses should never be static. They should be active catalysts of change if they want to stay ahead for a long time. Because staying in the stiff competition is one of the major priorities of all businesses for the sake of survival, they never stop from evolving. This is due to their constant presentation of the consumers’ needs and the prediction of these as well.

Web Creation Software: Top Four Reasons Why You Should Use WordPress To Create Your Website

I want to share some thoughts of encouragement with those who want to create their own website, but do not know where to start.

With so many web creation products available in the market today, the newbie may feel overwhelmed by the choices. However, there is a lurking danger embedded in to many choices. It’s called “Procrastination”.

Here’s the problem: You want to create a website – either to help promote your brick and mortar business or you want to create a website to earn an additional income from it. You start your research and now find a so many web creation tools that you feel overwhelmed. The top ten listings of products are investigated – a process which may take hours to do. Often, after these research sessions you are even more confused. Here’s where the danger lies. You do not make a choice. Because you are confused, you procrastinate. It’s also called “the fear of making the wrong choices”.

If this sounds familiar to you, hopefully the ideas I want to share with you will help you to make a breakthrough.

I want to encourage you to take a deep and honest look at a free web creation tool we all know by name: WordPress. With more than 18,000,000 sites built on the WordPress platform, it surely is one of the most used web creation tools available to mankind. Can 18 million users be wrong? I don’t think so!

Let’s look at some advantages of the WordPress software, without going into any technical details.

Why should you consider WordPress?

Reason #1: WordPress is free

Need I say more? Let’s face it, you can’t beat the price!

Reason #2: WordPress is actually easy to use

For the newbie WordPress may seem to be a little intimidating. However, because there are so many users, you can find help on hundreds upon hundreds of support sites and forums should you encounter a problem. If you can send emails, use a word processor and use Facebook, you have enough skills to create and maintain a site with WordPress – it’s that easy. Don’t let the little voice in your head tell you that you are not good enough!

Reason #3: WordPress is loved by the search engines

You sole aim, apart from setting up a blog or website, is that it should attract visitors. There’s absolutely no use of having a site drifting around in a sea of websites and no-one comes to your site. This is where the power of WordPress comes in so handy. In general, WordPress sites are more easily ranked by the search engines than the typical.html static website. With a little tweak here and there and the help of very useful and free plugins, your site may be indexed within a matter of hours. Users will be able to testify that new blogs are often indexed and rewarded with good ranking within a day. I personally have a site that was launched and within less than 24 hours, got ranked in the sixth position on Google.

Reason #4: You can access and update your site from anywhere in the world

Because WordPress is installed on a server and not on your computer, you have the privilege to access you site wherever you are, providing that you have access to the ‘Net. This is a major advantage. Just think for a moment: The previous day, before leaving on a week-long trip, you added a post to your website about the launch of “the next best product” so solve the world’s problems. However, you mistakenly made a typo in the link to the product to be launched (we are all human, aren’t we?). The next morning, hundreds of miles from you office, you discover the error on your site. Obviously it needs to be rectified immediately. With WordPress it’s easy as pie – you can access your site from any Internet connection point in the world and fix what needs to be fixed. (And hopefully become wealthy…)

Conclusion

If you are still sitting “on the wire” and can’t make a decision which web creation tool to use, I urge you to take the plunge now and throw all you weight in getting to know WordPress. Stop procrastinating – just do it! You’ll be glad you did.

Targeted Product Funnel Creation – 4 Intriguing Methods to Energize Your Product Funnel Creation

Today, there are so many online entrepreneurs who are sinking their teeth into creating high ticket information products that can sell up to $12,000. If you are one of them, you must realize that the process of selling these types of products will not happen overnight. As you will be requiring your potential clients to shell out huge amount of money, you have to assure them that they will get their money’s worth and that they will get the most out of their purchase. You can do this by building customer trust and loyalty through product funnel creation.

Product funnel creation is a relatively new marketing technique that involves the process of creating different products (from low-end to high-end) so you can meet the evolving needs of your customer base while earning their trust in the process.

Here are the latest 4 intriguing methods to energize your product funnel creation:

1. Define your audience. Identify the gaps within your chosen niche that you need to fill in. You can do this by knowing the needs, demands, pressing issues, and questions of the people you are creating your products for. You may opt to communicate with them by visiting related forums or asking for their insights by posting questionnaires on your website that these people can easily fill up once they give you a visit.

2. Create low-end products. Based on the needs and demands of your potential clients, create inexpensive products that can teach them the basic of their areas of interest. For instance, if you are serving people who would like to learn the ropes of article marketing, you can create a short ebook designed for beginners that you can sell for $10-$15 dollars. Make sure that your low-end products are impacting and truly useful so you can create a good impression on your customers’ first purchase. This is to increase your chances of convincing these people to do repeat business with you in the long run.

3. Offer middle-end products. Once you were able to sell your low-end products and helped your customers to earn new sets of skills, it’s high time that you help them increase their skill level by offering them middle-end products. If you are selling information base products, you can offer CD series, 8-hour seminar, online tutorials, etc. that will sell from $30-$300.

4. Sell your high ticket products. At the end of your funnel, offer your customer base with your most expensive information products that contain complete, detailed, and in-depth information about their areas of interest. These could be one-on-one coaching, advanced teleseminar programs, bootcamps, etc.