Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Know My Business and Don't Need a Loan - So Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

You have a smooth running business and aren't looking for a loan - so business plans are only for banks surely? Not really they are for you the business first and foremost. Why?

Well first of all you need to spend some time checking through your business and talking to your key employees just to check that your business is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Business planning is a good discipline to ensure that you business is as you think it is. Start with your business vision, financial and marketing strategies. You do have them don't you?

Your business vision is where you want your business to be, how you want it perceived and is what gets you out of bed each day to face the daily grind.

Your financial strategy is how you will spend and utilise your capital, how you will manage your cash flow and what level of profits you are expecting.

Your marketing strategy is what you are selling, to whom, when at what cost and in what format.

You are starting to see how important your business plan is to your business.

Now look at your business goals - are you still heading for them or have they changed a bit and you need to rethink where your company is going and what it is doing?

Now go down a few levels and start to look at your products and services - are you selling them at the correct price and the correct mix for your expected market? Is there a gap that you can fill with another product? Is there a product that is not performing as well a it should?

Next look at your company structure. Is your manufacturing, selling and fulfilment process as efficient as possible? Do you have the right staff at the correct place and are they trained?

Lastly look at your financials. Do you have enough capital and cash flow to do what you want to do and keep your company afloat? Are your staff, fulfilment and manufacturing costs about right?

All of the above items are in a good, sound business plan. So write your plan and keep updating it on a regular basis.

Good luck.

By : Lee_Lister

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why is an Executive Summary So Important to Your Business Plan?

The Executive Summary is an overview about your business. It is one of the first sections in your business plan. It is generally about a half page to a page in the half.

The Executive Summary has eight main sections they are the:

Management Team
Production and Delivery
Target Market
Goals and Objectives

Please note: that the Target Market section has a subsection, the Competitive Position.

Also the good thing about writing an Executive Summary is that you don't have to include all of the sections in your summary. You should only include the ones that are relevant to the type of business you have.

For example, if you have a service business, you may not need to include the Production and Delivery section. This is because you have a service business and not an actual product to deliver to your customers.

The Introduction/Overview tells who your business is and what your business is about.

The Company Direction is what your company or business plans on accomplishing in the near future.

The Management Team is the people that manage the company. These are the key players who are running the company.

The Product/Service Strategy is what your products/services are and the plans for the future products/services.

The Production and Delivery is how and where your products are produced and the delivery is how you plan to get them to your customers.

The Target Market is the specific demographic of people you are marketing.

The Goals and Objectives are the plans for your business. These are the items you plan on completing somewhere between 6 months and 5 years.

The Finances are how you plan to pay for your business in start up, the day to day operations and in the future.

The Executive Summary is so important to your business plan, because it sums up the general idea about what your business is about. And it gives the persons reading a general brief executive overview about the details of your business.

By : Shaunta_Pleasant

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Importance of Indoor Team Building Activities

Corporations around the world have learned that one way to improve productivity and enhance cooperation within their ranks is to schedule team building days where employees are paid to participate in exercises away from work that are designed to encourage teamwork and strengthen the bonds between team members.

While many employees look forward to such days with anticipation because they expect some extravagant outdoor activities, it is very important not to overlook the importance of indoor team building activities.

While outdoor team building activities are normally quite exciting, it is also possible for the message that managers are trying to communicate to be lost amid all the fun.

Indoor activities can be just as exciting and just as much fun while being carried out in a setting that reinforces the lessons being taught.

It is generally easier to create a scene indoors that uses the visual, auditory, tactile, or other sensory stimuli to reinforce the point of the activities being engaged in by forming a link in the minds of the participants between the sensory stimuli and the game or activity.

It is often a standard practice to include some sort of motivational speech that contains an outline of which team functions are going to be worked on and strengthened before the actual activities begin.

It is not at all uncommon, when putting together a group for the first time, to schedule indoor team building activities of a nature that allow the group to break the ice and get to know one another.

The indoor setting provides for a level of proximity that is much more difficult to achieve outdoors. Therefore, members of the group are more or less forced to get to know one another and to redefine their own personal space in reference to the other members of the group.

Another important aspect of these activities is personal safety. By their very nature, many outdoor activities are more dangerous to individuals in that there is a greater chance of injury if even one team member fails to do what is required.

This is not necessarily the case with indoor activities. These activities usually never leave the floor, thus eliminating the risk of falling. They also do not normally involve any type of projectile they can achieve enough velocity to do a person harm.

While outdoor team building exercises are often more energetic and in many cases more entertaining than indoor team building activities, the importance of these indoor activities cannot be overstressed.

They can provide for a group to develop their ability to work together as a team in a safe, controlled environment and provide for the team members to be placed into closer proximity to one another than would be possible outdoors.

By : James_Carruthers

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

14 Bootstrapping Ideas - Build Your Small Business on a Budget

The sluggish economy has every small or solo business owner figuring out how they can get the biggest "bang for their buck". Whether its money you spend on technology, systems, outsourced help or training, you want to get a great return on investment.

And if you're a start up you want to figure out how to avoid wasting money on services you don't need. Even if you're already profitable, conserving your cash and resources is crucial if you want to maximize your income. So, bootstrapping needs to be part of your small business planning.

Bootstrapping is all about finding ways to build your business without huge infusions of outside cash. It's also about being conservative and strategic about how and where you spend.

Most micro businesses don't have access to angel investors or venture funding. They use their own financial resources to get started. They borrow from savings, friends, family, credit cards or home equity.

Or they get people in their personal network to invest in their business. After all, who will invest in your business if you won't take a bit of financial risk and invest in yourself?

Bootstrapping is about getting the most value and forward momentum from your limited budget. This is where many small businesses stumble. My motto for all business owners is this: "Shop Around".

Remember that old song, "You Better Shop Around"? Well if you latch onto the first vendor or solution you run across without understanding the questions to ask and competitive rates, chances are you're either paying more than you need to, or not getting what you need.

Everyone today is talking about going green and conserving resources. This applies to your business as well and you'll also be doing the environment a favor!

Great Bootstrapping Ideas

1. If you're a service business, start out with a home office. You can always rent or borrow conference room space if you need it once in a while.

2. Once you're ready to rent space, don't rent more than you need. Don't pay for prime retail space unless you're a retail business.

3. Another option- rent a larger, nicer space and sub-lease some of it to offset the rent. Then when you need the extra space take it back when the sub-lease expires.

4. Don't overspend on web or graphic design. This is one of my "pet peeves" since I've seen so many business owners overpay simply because they didn't understand exactly what they needed to ask a web designer before they hired them. Know what you need and shop around.

5. DO invest in getting expert help from a coach or mentor. It can end up saving you thousands of dollars and help you increase your income faster. This is why even the most successful coaches and Entrepreneurs also have coaches.

6. Use Voice Over Internet or VOIP, like Vonnage or Skype. You'll save a lot on your phone services. I do video coaching using Skype and my clients love it.

7. If you have a home office, listing your phone as a residential number will also save you money. Of course, if you need your business listing in the Yellow Pages (few businesses do these days), this won't work. But if people look for you online, you don't need a business phone listing.

8. Don't pay more than you need to for web hosting--under $10 a month for a basic site with no shopping cart.

9. Search on eBay for software and computers. Buying a slightly older version of the software you need can save a bundle. Almost anything can be found on eBay or Amazon.

10. Search for open source or free download software before buying something expensive. You can also do a Google search for the type of software you need and type "free" before the phrase--for example: "free scheduling software for chiropractors".

11. For anything you need, take my "shop around" advice and search the Internet for the best prices or options.

12. Use independent freelancers rather than hiring employees and you'll save a bundle on payroll taxes and workmen's compensation insurance (US).

13. Consider outsourcing specific projects and tasks overseas where hourly rates are lower.

14. Remember that cheap is not always better!

Take a good look at your business and see where you need to spend more to make more and where you can cut back because you're just not getting results. Even as your business grows, keep your expenses in check so your income can grow.

By : Janis_D._Pettit

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Become a Top Wedding Planner - 6 Ways to Expand Your Wedding Planning Business

Once your wedding planning business gets established, you may want to expand and offer additional services and products so you can help your couples with more of their wedding needs, create long term relationships with them, and bring in additional revenue.

Here are 6 ways you can expand your current business:

1) Plan wedding related parties

You may already be doing this. While you are planning a wedding, you can plan the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties, bridesmaids' luncheon, rehearsal dinner, after-party or post-wedding brunch for the couple or their families and friends.

You can also plan receptions for couples who have gotten married at city hall, eloped or had small destination weddings and want larger celebrations when they return home.

2) Social events

Don't think that planning a wedding is the only event planning your clients could ever want. Many people hire event planners for anniversary and birthday parties, retirements, graduations, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceanera celebrations and large holiday parties. Keep in touch so they remember you when they need help planning events for these milestones in their lives or the lives of their families and friends.

3) Teach wedding planning to do-it-yourself brides

There will always be some brides who want to plan their weddings themselves. Why not help them by holding classes and sharing some of your expert advice? You may even turn some students into clients when they realize how difficult it would be to plan their weddings on their own.

4) Offer products

Carry a line of invitations, favors or gift items. There are companies that sell these items and allow you to be affiliates and dealers. You can sell on your website or, in the case of invitations, you can carry wedding invitation albums to show your clients and sell them just like they do in stationery stores.

5) Rent out party items

Small venues and party rental businesses in some cities do not have the appropriate high-end chairs, china and other items you need for weddings. Therefore, you may want to purchase the items and rent them to your clients yourself.

However, if you do decide to do this, make sure you have the ability to transport the items to your events and have the space to store them. If you have to rent space, do some homework and make sure you are able to recoup the monthly costs involved in renting a storage unit.

6) Plan destination weddings and honeymoons

If you have done a lot of traveling and have knowledge of wedding venues and romantic vacation spots in other states and countries, you might want to learn the travel business and help couples plan their destination weddings and honeymoons.

Remember that you do not want to stretch yourself too thin when you decide to add services and products. Your couples deserve your full attention for their weddings, and you should not be busy offering services that you do not have the time or the expertise to do with excellence. Also, if you are beginning to think about expanding, it is also time to think about adding employees to your business.

By : Sharon_Hill

Top Networking Tips For Your Business

Anyone who is into any scale of business can't over emphasize the importance of social networking. Business gets proliferated if you can reach out to a larger market; cater to everyone who might benefit from your services.

For this to happen, you need to adopt a communications strategy which is avant-garde as well as deeply rooted in the human laws of hospitality and fraternal feelings. A careful balance of the public and private spheres can help you forge such contacts, which can just take help you destructively make your way to the top of The Forbes' list.

But connect with people, conveying a genuine interest in them. Don't let your private gains come in the way of these essential moments of relationship building. Do a bit of research on any person you are going to meet.

The company they keep, the interests they endow, the food or drink or TV program they love to "consume." When you strike up a conversation with anyone in a social gathering like a business party, you need to have a game plan in mind.

Let's discuss that game plan.

Knowing the Right People and their Weakness.

An integral part of networking is about knows the right people to talk with. In a party, there are is equal proportion to good to worthless people. Don't waste your time on someone whose vision is so short sighted that he or she might detract you form the path of success. You might be wondering that if you try to grab the attention of the bigwigs, you might come across as a wannabe. It doesn't exactly work that way.

Maintain Amiable Relations with Everyone

Not everyone needs to know about your business. Interact with them on an informal basis. They will find that approach a lot friendlier than your useful proposal presentation techniques. Make the connection matter, by checking on these people from time to time. Pay attention to their needs and requirements and fulfill these to your best possible means.

The First Impression Makes all the Difference

Dress for the occasion. Your attitude gets reflected in your fashion sense, whether you are laid back in your approach, flamboyant in your business moves, sober at your moments of personal victories, everything can be perceived by your unconscious wardrobe choices.

Casuals are a strict no-no since they give off an impression of lack of seriousness. Be washed up and look refreshed. Don't let those dark circles show that you have been burning the midnight oil to make your enterprise stand on its feet.

Hide those imperfections beneath a veil of meticulously acquired sophistication. Have your witty anecdotes and relevant quips up your sleeves. If there is any particular opposite gender business executive you wish to impress, don't come across as a flirt.

Stay updated with the current business trends, you might need to make a value judgment. Be informed and diplomatic in your statements. You are going there to make friends, not increase your competition.

By : Simon_Johnnson

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Select Indoor Team Building Activities

One of the numerous strategies being used by corporations around the world to build cohesive groups that work well together is called team building. Many corporations go so far as scheduling a special day every so often for employees to participate in these activities.

These exercises can be divided into indoor and outdoor team building exercises based on the scale and type of activity involved. Sometimes the weather makes outdoor activities impossible. This is why it is a good idea to know how to select the right indoor activities.

The first step is to determine exactly what level of team building is to be worked on. Is this the first time a group has been brought together? If it is, would a fairly simple and fun game be appropriate to break the ice? This would be identified as a level 1 to 3 team building exercise.

Level 4 to 6 goes a little more in depth by engaging team members and activities that help them to develop a more cohesive and positive team capable of working together to reach a goal.

It should be noted that activities designed for this level of team building, especially games, cannot rely on any single individual in the group to excel. These activities must be designed so that only by working together can a team or group expect to complete the project.

Level 7 to 10 breaks things down to a level that has the team members in evaluating different aspects of team dynamics, making note of shortcomings within the team, noting which members of the team seem to be more natural leaders, and providing the group with ideas and options that will help to improve any of these situations that seem to be lacking.

Once it is determined what level of team building activity is needed with a particular group, it then becomes time to choose an activity that will work to this level and help the group come together into a single cohesive unit.

Most of these activities involve some sort of game. The difficult part lies in creating a game in which those who work together as a team are rewarded with success without making it in some way competitive, which can be damaging to the morale of individuals in a separate group performing the same activity.

The purpose of team building activities is to foster a feeling of trust and reliance in individuals so that they can tackle projects as a group and depend on each member of the group to perform to the best of his/her ability for the good of the group.

Choosing activities that are competitive in nature can have the opposite effect in the grand scheme of things.

Such activities may help to bring one group closer together, but if another group is in competition with them and does not perform as well, this can lead to hard feelings and competition in the workplace as those on the losing side attempt to make up for this loss.

Care must be taken when selecting indoor team building activities to ensure that they function to bring workers closer together rather than driving a wedge between two groups that must function closely together for the good of the company.

By : James_Carruthers

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Promoting Your Vancouver Business Online

With beautiful scenery nearby, the mighty Columbia river bordering the South edge, and no personal income tax for Washington residents, Vancouver has become a popular spot for new business owners to open up shop.

For most businesses today, having an Internet presence and online marketing is almost mandatory, and Clark county businesses are no exception. There are some pitfalls and issues to be aware of though, if you wish to market your Vancouver business online.

The proximity to Oregon is one of the chief geographical distinctions that can affect your online marketing presence.

Web surfers searching for your particular kind of business are likely to be overrrun by offers from Portland, since it is the closest metropolitan city and most online searches display results based on the searcher's geographic location, That is why you often see advertisements for Portland businesses even when you did not include the city name in your search.

The fact that Oregon does not have a sales tax puts Washington businesses that sell physical goods at a distinct disadvantage, particularly since shoppers can cross the state border on I-5 or I-205 just as easily as they can drive to downtown Vancouver.

Professional service businesses in Washington (for example, attorneys or doctors) are less affected by the sales tax discrepancy, but still must deal with the larger number of competitors in the city of Portland.

One of the major unique challenges facing Vancouver Washington businesses in their quest to market online is actually the city name itself, Vancouver. As residents well know, we share a name with one of the largest cities in Canada.

This makes it extremely difficult to rank for searches that include the city name, and causes confusion to local residents searching for Vancouver businesses, only to be bombarded with ads for companies from the country to our North.

For example, a search in Google for "Vancouver attorney" results in a list that includes mostly Canadian attorneys (called "barristers" there). Oftentimes, looking at the telephone prefix is the only way to determine which "Vancouver" the business is actually in.

If you wish to market your small business online, make sure to be aware of this overlap, and always clearly identify that your firm is located in the United States on your website to avoid confusion from potential clients.

If you are looking for a Vancouver attorney to help you incorporate your new business, please visit

By : John_MacNamara

Starting a Coffee Shop - Living the Cappuccino Dream

So, you're starting a coffee shop. Congratulations. You'll be tapping into a 330 million cup a day national habit. There is money to be made and success to be had. However, that success will depend on how well you plan.

Starting a coffee shop starts with deciding what type of coffee shop you want. There are five basic scenarios to consider:

1. Coffee Kiosk
2. Internet Cafe
3. Coffee Shop/Coffee Bar
4. Coffee House
5. Religious Coffee Shop

The business plan for each of these will vary, so you need to carefully define your objective and design your business plan around that objective. Take into account the demographics of your community and your target market. Who is likely to come into your business? Who do you want to attract? What are they looking for?

The type of coffee shop you want to open will determine the next decision you make: the menu. That's because the menu will determine what equipment you'll need, what kind of build-out (cabinetry) will be necessary, and to a large degree, the layout of the your shop.

"Location, location, location." This isn't just a jazzy real estate quip. Location can make or break your coffee business. Do your research. Your location will depend on your concept. An up-scale sit down shop will require a different location from a drive through.

The key is still traffic, however, be it foot traffic or car traffic. Look for locations with easy access, egress, and high visibility.

People aren't likely to go out of their way for what is usually an impulse purchase. In fact, that impulse is generally put in their heads by seeing a coffee shop. "Gee. An iced coffee sounds good." Or "Hey, I could use a pick-me-up right about now."

The type of shop will also dictate the start up cost.

For a coffee cart, you can expect to spend between $20,000 - $25,000. The average cost of a kiosk depending on the size and your menu can be $25,000 - $75,000. It is not unheard of for a small drive thru to open for less than $35,000. A large one can run $80,000 - $200,000.

While it can seem like a lot of money (and it is) it's comparatively low when you consider that a small clothing store will cost a cool half million, minimum.

Become a student of the coffee business. Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. Ignorance is curable and there is no substitute for hands on learning.

Attend tradeshows and subscribe to industry periodicals. There are several comprehensive books on the subject that are well worth the time invested in reading. (Perhaps in a quiet corner of a future competitor's coffee shop.)

By : Kevin_T_Hope

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Window Cleaning - A Recession-Proof Service Business

Though we're all seeing some tough economic times, many homeowners and commercial property owners still want to keep their windows looking nice. It can brighten up someone's day to look out a sparkling clean window.

For a business owner, they want to keep business coming in and clean windows could help do just that. Plus, windows get dirty whether the economy is good or bad. It's simply a recession-proof business.

The window cleaning business is not too difficult to get into and you can make some sizeable profits. Whether you're someone wanting to earn some extra cash or you'd like to start a new career, window cleaning is something you should consider.

When people want to start a new part-time job or a new career, one of the first worries is, will I have to go back to school? I don't have time for that. Plus, I don't want to pile up more debt. The good news is that you don't need extra schooling.

Window cleaning is a learn-while-you-earn job. Plus, there are several great instructional videos available online for free. Just visit YouTube and type in "window cleaning techniques" and you'll be on your way to mastering this fairly easy profession.

But what about debt? Won't it be expensive to buy all those materials? Not necessarily. You can get everything you need to get started for under $600. While there are high-end professional tools available, you don't really need those to start out.

If your business is going well, then you should maybe consider buying these high-end tools, but you can be successful without them. Best of all, after a couple window cleaning jobs, you'll have paid for all your supplies.

Okay, you've purchased your supplies and watched some instructional videos on YouTube. So now what? Now you're ready to get some customers. Flyers are a great promotional tool. Pay a couple teenagers a little money and you could flyer an entire neighborhood in no time.

And try to target neighborhoods with large, expensive houses. Those homeowners will be more likely to be able to afford window cleaning, especially several times a year.

When trying to find customers in commercial properties, pay special attention to new businesses. They might not already have a window cleaner lined up. This is where you can come in.

Many commercial property owners or managers will want their windows cleaned regularly. Even better! Newly-constructed buildings will need to remove all of the construction gunk and other things on them. Get in good with a builder and you could see continued work.

A struggling economy doesn't mean window cleaning jobs are impossible to find. People still want their windows to be clean. Businesses want to keep a professional appearance and sparkling windows could do just that.

Be persistent, flyer the right neighborhoods, and keep a watchful eye out for new businesses and newly-constructed properties. Before long, you could be a success in the window cleaning business without going into debt or having to take classes.

To learn more about this recession proof business, read Profitable Window Cleaning, available at:

By : Craig_Wallin

How to Develop a Handyman Business

A handyman business fits into the lifestyle of many people, including contractors, retired tradesmen, or even handy stay-at-home parents who need to have a flexible work schedule.

It can be rewarding, and as a handyman you will have a respected and welcome profession. To get started as a handyman, as with any company it is important to have a plan written first.

The right type of business plan will outline exactly how you will run the business, who else, if anyone will be involved, and the market you will solicit business from.

The executive summary of the handyman business plan also gives the basic details of the business; who owns it, brief background information on the owner/s, where it is located, etc.

The next section gives general information about the size of the market, and the specific numbers of potential target customers in the aforementioned area.

Knowing how many people you may be advertising to, and the rate at which these numbers will grow, can help plan future financing and expansion of your business.

One of the most important sections of this business plan talks about the specific services the business specializes in, as well as how this handyman business will be different from the others competing in the same market.

No part of the handyman business plan can be taken too lightly. A well written business plan can secure lines of credit and start up financing that will be needed for day-to-day operations, as well as future growth.

By : Jack_Goldhammer

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Profit From What Sets You Apart

If you want to gain and keep good clients and boost profits, you must clearly understand and keep top of mind the benefits your products or services offer that set you apart from the competition.

Know Your Customer

Before you can begin to effectively communicate those benefits that set you apart, you must define your target customer as narrowly as you can.

Then get to know how they think, and what's meaningful and important to them. Understand the challenges they face in business and life that your products could solve. Ask yourself what problems they'll gladly pay to resolve.

Identify Your Rivals

You also need to know who your competitors are and the products they offer that are similar to yours-their features, benefits, pricing, strengths and weaknesses.

Define Your Differentiators

From your target customers' perspective, describe all your products' benefits-those differentiators that set them apart.

Make a list of all these differentiators and how they will directly affect your customers in positive ways to make their lives easier, or help them save time and/or money.

Then go over the list again and delete any benefits that your competition could also claim. Use the remaining benefits to market and sell your product.

Note: Price shouldn't be a differentiator. There will always be someone willing to sell for less. Plus, price-driven customers may not be the kind you want.

You can learn a lot by talking with your best clients. Ask them why they chose you over the competition.

Refine Your Message

Using your list of benefits, write down how your products will meet your target clients' perceived needs.

Understand the related emotions-remember, people make buying decisions based on emotion-and use this information in your marketing communications.

Consistently and clearly communicating to prospective clients what sets you and your products apart and how this benefits them is key to your success.

Update and Profit from What Sets You Apart

In our rapidly changing world, clients' needs and wants are also constantly evolving. You must regularly assess and revise the list of benefits you offer and your message.

Review the list often and adjust it to address your potential clients' most current perceived needs. This will involve some time in research and a lot of thought, but the results will be rewarding.

Plan now to create or review, and perhaps revise, your list of unique benefits and your message. Then go sell what truly sets you apart.

By : Victoria_K._Munro

When Life Knocks You Down, Fire Up the Barbecue Grill!

My friend Harley has always loved southern barbecue and just about anything you could cook on a barbecue grill. His story is one that celebrates the spirit of a man to get back up when life has knocked him down.

When I first met him about all we talked about was barbecue ideas and the best barbecue recipes to use at any given time of year. We also discussed the virtues of charcoal grills over electric or gasoline cookers. He was obsessed with anything that had to do with cooking over a hot smoky fire.

We would see each other from time to time and you could always smell the aroma of barbecue smoke on his body and clothes, with fragrant wisps of whatever kind of meat he had been cooking over the weekend.

His ever-patient wife threatened to become a vegetarian due to the amounts of barbecued ribs, barbecued chicken and barbecued pork his family had to consume just to keep up with Harley's passion for outdoor cooking.

Harley worked in the large offices of various defense contractors and over the years developed a small barbecue catering service for the companies where he worked. He simply brought his grills and provided meat for celebrations at Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day festivities.

On weekends I would pass by his house and see it encircled in a halo of smoke. He always had several barbecue smokers and grills working in his back yard. This was in the early days of his passion with barbecue, before he graduated to something bigger with which to cook.

When the time came to purchase a new grill, he went to a foreign country, Mississippi, and bought one on wheels. This was indeed a fabulous piece of craftsmanship, with a new huge barbecue grill welded to a trailer big enough to hold a bass boat.

In addition to the 6 foot firebox that is fueled by hickory logs that would be carried on the trailer, it had a smoker welded to the side. It was made out of quarter inch steel and had two temperature gauges; one on the firebox and the other on the smoker hood.

The trailer also carried a water tank to cool down the fire if it got too hot. The whole unit was ringed in silvery chrome, which I though was a little ostentatious, but he never consulted me before buying the grill.

Somewhere along the way, the economy went sour and people all over the country were losing their jobs and livelihood; so did Harley. After the initial shock had passed and the self-pity had worn thin, he began to count his blessings and take stock of his assets.

Thanksgiving was approaching and he had a list of satisfied customers from his sideline business. He began calling them and suggesting that this year they have smoked turkey or ham instead of the old tired traditional bird that usually graced their table on that holiday. He also told them to tell their friends and neighbors about his service.

The response was overwhelming. Harley kept that huge barbecue grill and smoker going for three days straight as he tried to keep up with the demand for his product. He made it through Thanksgiving and by Christmas was doing it again, but this time with bbq beef ribs and briskets, bbq chickens and pork ribs along with a few turkeys and hams.

Driving down a street on the wrong side of the tracks just after Christmas, I saw Harley's marvelous barbecue machine tied to a sign post near a small empty restaurant. The sign on the door said, "Harley's BBQ Restaurant, Opening Soon!"

This is a testament to the resiliency of the American working man and a tribute to the power of good southern barbecue. My hat's off to both of them!

By : Bob_Alexander

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ideas About Starting Your Own Business - Are You an Entrepreneur Or an Employee? Choosing a Business

Do you want to start a business or have a job? Do you want to make extra money or create an income? Many work at home opportunities are nothing more than jobs you do in your home. If that is what you want there are many reliable options to choose from to just earn extra money.

But if you have real ideas about starting your own business, if you have the heart of a true entrepreneur, than you need to learn to weed out those opportunities and focus on owning a business. Something you control, succeed or fail. If a true business is what you want then you have some choices to make.

Brick and Mortar or Online?

What do your ideas about starting your own business look like? Do you want a traditional brick and mortar business or one online? A brick and mortar business will have more overhead, possible employees, insurance, and other headaches you will have to face and overcome.

If you choose to be like the millions who have taken their businesses online you will have a low overhead, comparably low startup, and if you do it out of your home you may have enticing tax benefits. You also have a greater potential for earning a profit faster with an online business than the traditional brick and mortar business.

Online Entrepreneur

If you have decided to do a business online, your next decision is what kind of business you are going to create.

Some ideas about starting your own business are:

1. Create your own product. Many creative people have looked to the Internet to launch a new product idea. If you are creative and have a great idea for a product that you want to sell, doing it online is the best way to find a wide customer base. You will instantly have a worldwide company.

2. Offer a service. Do you know how to design web pages, or do you have another service you can offer online? If you do you can be very successful. With more than a billion people online around the world everyday your customer base can be huge with the right marketing.

3. Market someone else's product. If you don't have a product or service of your own, you can learn the skill of Internet marketing, and become a successful online marketer. By learning, mastering, and effectively implementing online marketing techniques, you will be able to choose any product or service online and be able to earn an income successfully marketing that product or service.

Whether you choose to create your own product or offer a service, anything done online needs to have an effective marketing campaign. Without marketing, your ideas about starting your own business will not be profitable and we are all in business to earn money, not lose it.

By : Kari_Day

Become a Top Wedding Planner - 11 Steps to Starting Your Wedding Planning Business

If you want to become a wedding planner and have your own business, you need to do more than learn how to plan weddings. You have to follow the steps it takes to start and run a professional business.

Here are the 11 steps:

1) Write a business plan

This isn't difficult. Just start by writing down answers to basic questions such as: Why do you want to start a wedding planning business? What do you want your business to look like? Who do you want your clients to be? When do you plan to be up and running? Where will you work?

How will you make money - what services, packages and products do you plan to offer? After you have answered these questions, flush out details so it is clear what you business will look like when you start, then one year from now and five years from now. You can revisit and revise your plan at any time.

2) Talk to an accountant, attorney, and insurance agent about setting up your business

These are the business professionals who can help you decide the best structure for your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation) and they can make sure you are legally covered and protected.

3) Obtain financing

It doesn't cost a lot of money to start your business. You might finance it yourself, get help from your family or you might approach a financial institution or a non-profit, such as the Small Business Administration, for a loan.

4) Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Instead of using your social security number for your business, you will want to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service so your personal number can be kept private.

5) Determine your niche and services

Do some research and set up your wedding planning business so you target a niche and don't just market to every bride. Find out what your niche wants and create your business selling those services.

6) Select a business name and buy the domain name

Your business name should be one that is easy to spell, understand and say and it should be attractive to your niche. Also the domain name for a website must be available for the business name that you select.

7) Get the proper licenses

Check your local government offices for requirements for running a business in your area. You may need to register your business name, get a license that allows you to do business in your city and you may need to get a sellers permit.

8) Set up bookkeeping and banking

Get bookkeeping software so you can keep track of your income and expenses and easily handle your taxes at the end of the year. Also you must open a business bank account to keep your business finances separate from your personal ones.

9) Set up your office

Make sure you have a space in which you can work quietly, without interruption, that is set up with the furniture and tools you need to run a business. This includes a desk, chair, filing cabinets, computer, printer and phone.

10) Set up your website and blog and order business cards

Hire a designer who can work with you to create a professional logo or image for your website, blog and cards. They may also be able to build your website and blog or you can hire a webmaster to do that for you. Do not invest too much of your budget into these things, new wedding planners often change their images after being in business for about a year.

11) Put together a portfolio

Gather photographs and information from weddings you have planned and assemble them in an album. You can present this to potential clients and vendors so they can see your work.

By : Sharon_Hill

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Everyone is an 'Out'

There are four types of people and we all fit into one of these categories. The types I'm talking about are "OUT" people. Where we are can be caused by various conditions and thankfully we aren't bound in that situation.

These four types are Cop Outs, Hold Outs, Drop Outs and All Outs. It is our choice to stay in our place or move to another yes, our choice.

Each of us has the traits of one of these types of "OUT' groups. Cop Outs are those people who have no goals and don't commit to any thing.

Their attitudes and actions reflect that of the employee with the just finish the job attitude. Their only drive is do enough to get by and don't want to be bothered with anything else. Their time is spent being entertained with thoughtless activity.

The Hold Outs are those who want change but are afraid if they try they will fail. They don't know if they can do it, if it is worth the cost and if they did, how would that mess up their lives.

The fear is so great it hinders them from even investigating the process and investments to accomplish it. They don't want to give up or risk what they have and in turn they remain where they are living with the misery.

Drop Outs take things a step further and begin the task of going toward their goal. They start the learning process and make the investment in themselves and their opportunity. They feel the challenges of accomplishment and try to work through them.

Soon they become overwhelmed and question if they should have attempted it. They finally convince themselves they can't complete it and that they should quit. That is when they drop out and accept defeat.

All Outs are the select group who set their goals, commit to them and follow through with the process to reach them. They know the tasks will not be easy and learning new skills will require time and effort, but they also know the reward will far outweigh the labor.

Their determination and drive is focused and unyielding, pointed toward the final victory. They celebrate every accomplishment along the way and constantly adjust their mindset and attitude to overcome the difficulties. With nowhere to stop or quit they can only continue the trek.

Since we understand the actions of each, the question now is, which "OUT" am I? What position do I hold in relationship to the "OUT" scenario? The next inquiry is, am I satisfied where I am and what should I do to accomplish a change?

We all know those who are ALL OUTS and that is who most of us want to be. We want to be successful and satisfied but how do I become one? Becoming dissatisfied with our present selves and not tolerable with us is usually the time for change.

We know something must be done no matter the cost or how uncomfortable it may be. This is when we begin to search for avenues of escape and we welcome any possibility. We consider everything and assess the best means to achieve that change.

Still the best opportunity isn't enough, it requires the determination and desire to attain the results. No product or venture will produce success on it's own, it must be implemented.

Recognize where you are and decide where you wish to be. Start toward your goal having the faith and knowledge you cannot be stopped if you apply yourself. You can receive the required results if you have the desire and determination to do so.

By : Duane_Hatfield

Networking Skills - Leverage Your Committee Work

Once you've found the right committee to join, it's a good idea to leverage your work. Remember the goal is to contribute while maximizing your efforts.

Rata PenuhPay Attention

The first stage is relatively easy. If you want to stand out, be quiet and say very little. Confused? Your first task should be to observe how the committee functions.

Remember you're new to the committee. Communication protocols and working relationships already exist. Let other committee members get used to your presence and get to know you over coffee during a break or after the meeting.

Ask the Right Question

A great way to start participating is to look for an opportunity to ask a question. Assuming you've read your briefing notes before the meeting and are prepared for the meeting, you still can't possibly know everything because it's all new. At some point someone will say something or use a term which is unfamiliar to you.

Jump right in with something like this, "Excuse me, please. Since I'm new to the committee and eager to learn, would you please briefly clarify for me what this means?" Listen, take notes and then close with, "Thank you."

Speak Only When...

After engaging with two or three questions over a few meetings, you're ready - and the committee is ready - for more contributions. The key is to speak only when you have something else of value to add to a discussion or to support one of your fellow committee members.

Nothing is more painful then people who talk and talk, but don't really add anything. One committee member, Harry, had a habit of adding his opinion to every single item on the agenda. In addition, he always took several minutes to simply repeat what everyone else had said in his own words.

This poor habit of Harry's ensured that no one paid any attention to what he said. In addition, Harry always talked, but rarely did anything. Fellow committee members just thought he was full of hot air.

Take the Right Action

The final step in standing out is taking action. Look for little things you can handle. The key here is to take care of it quickly. The faster, the better. If you fill in for someone and take the minutes for the meeting, try getting those finished within a day or two. Once you develop this habit, you'll develop a solid reputation. Then, of course, look for other ways you can contribute over a longer term.

No doubt if you've joined a committee you have all kinds of energy and great ideas as to how things could be better. That's fantastic. However, if you dump all of that when you first meet your fellow committee members they'll be overwhelmed.

Practice the disciplined steps outlined here and you'll find yourself having many successes and enjoy a well-earned reputation.

By : Kai_Rambow

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Corporate Entertainment That Will Have Your Staff Riveted

When it comes to corporate entertainment there is a whole host of opportunities and avenues that can be explored. Whether your ideal event is shooting off to a sporting event, attending a plush and lavish dinner party, or attending the premiere of a film, there is something that can please even the toughest customer. The only limiting factor is your imagination.

Some of the more popular choices for corporate entertainment revolve around more simple solutions like having music or dance events.

Obviously this can be a great idea to get people out of the restraints of the office and participating in a social event. However, obviously if some people don't like to dance or feel that they have any rhythm then they are less likely to get involved.

A more plausible option would be to organise different form of corporate entertainment involving giant games. Electronic games are becoming more of a social event now and with the invention of the Nintendo Wii everything has become more accessible.

The Nintendo Wii is incredibly easy to use and can be used by people who are 4 or 40 years old without discriminating about their physical prowess.

After searching the internet I found that one of the most popular corporate entertainment events actually centres around the use of a Nintendo Wii and a 6ft by 4ft projection screen. This way everyone feels a part of the action and can get involved in cheering their colleagues on.

If you have ever had a go on a Nintendo Wii you will know just how exciting they are. Whether you are playing bowling, tennis, boxing, baseball or golf it will have you and your colleagues gripped from the start to the finish.

The key aspect is that it has actually got you involved. Instead of sitting around and just pressing a few buttons with the Nintendo Wii you actually have to get up and participate with the activity that you are taking part in.

If possible it actually seems that performing these activities on the Nintendo Wii is slightly more fun than actually doing them for real.

We live in an age with so much choice, we have more options than we have ever had, so there is no need to scrimp and provide your employees with corporate entertainment that isn't riveting and gripping.

If you need help planning a corporate event then there are several companies that offer consultancy services available through the internet by typing corporate entertainment into your Google search bar.

By : Gino_Hitshopi

Motivational Speaker - Urban Myth Or Real Creature?

The cynics who flatly deny that motivational speakers offer anything of any value and who smirk and sneer at the suggestion that everyone should adopt a positive mental attitude and get on together nicely have been forced to eat their words because the motivational speaker market is big business.

Traditionalists might mock this American cultural import and decry it as useless, but it won't change the fact that people are really going in for it.

In the corporate world more than anywhere else, what was once the preserve of grand American conferences is becoming ordinary in Britain too.

Professionals, powers dressed to the nines nonchalantly name-drop the latest pseudo-celebrity to have given them a motivational talking to. But who, or indeed what is a motivational speaker?

As far as can be seen, the motivational speaker's natural habitat is any American corporate affair. They are men and women with proven success in their sector, industry or specialism.

Or they are sports stars with inspirational stories of success against the odds, through hard times or owing to exceptional teamwork.

Either way, they are respected and influential. Couple those key features with some high quality public speaking training and you've got a motivational speaker.

Their primary role, as the name rather implies, is to motivate. They are drafted in when sales figures or morale, or more probably both are low. They are brought in during company buy-outs to soften the buyees for the buyers.

They are called upon when businesses take a new direction or adopt a different strategy, to advocate whatever is new and influence people to embrace it. In short they can bend and flex themselves to motivate your crowd for whatever you need.

Whether you truly believe they work or not is almost irrelevant. Especially now that it is practically expected there'll be a motivational speaker present at your big corporate event.

You may think it's a stupid idea and perhaps you'd be right in believing that one speech can't really manipulate and motivate the audience that much.

But one thing's for sure: weeks and years after events, it's the speech not the food, decoration or location that people are still discussing.

By : Jessica_L_Moss

Monday, February 8, 2010

7 Savvy Secrets to Networking Success

If you thought you could avoid people and survive in the business world, think again. Success in business is all about people. Without people, there would be no reason for your business.

Whether you are just starting out or wanting to give your business a boost, you may want to consider these savvy secrets to building relationships with your customers that go beyond a quick handshake and money in your pocket.

Be Yourself. Remember you are your personal brand. People want to do business with people who are "real" or authentic. They do not want to do business with phoney people.

You want to look professional and well-groomed at all times because you never know who you may meet at the supermarket or at your child's sporting event. Look at yourself in the mirror before you leave the house or your office. Would you do business with the person you see looking back at you in the mirror?

Preparation is the key. Be able to deliver a clear and concise 30 second commercial or elevator speech about what you do and how it can be of benefit to others.

Engage the person before you with your smile. Maintain eye contact and stand with confidence and belief in your business. What are some things that you need in the next 30-60 days?

Increase Your Visibility. Give people the opportunity to learn about you and your business. Volunteer in your community.

Attend networking events, meet-up groups, and professional association functions. Get a website so people searching the internet can find you. It does not need to be fancy to get noticed and remembered.

Go Beyond the Business Card. You attended a networking event a while ago and have a stack on business cards on your desk. What are you doing with them? Are you following up with the people you meet?

Mark the ones you want to follow up with and follow up with them within 48 hours of meeting by phoning them or meeting for a cup of coffee. Send a personal thank you card after meeting with them.

How do you follow up with your current customers and the customers you want to attract to your business? Host an appreciation night or offer a discount for your product or service.

Use a weekly or monthly newsletter to stay in touch and keep you on their minds. Write articles of value to bring new clients to your website to find out more about you.

Give First Attitude. Develop the "give first" attitude; it will serve you well. Help others to achieve their aspirations and do not measure what you do for them. When you give of yourself first, you will reap infinite returns. You will be repaid in others ways and not necessarily by the people you help.

Deliver Value. Social networking, newsletters, and blogs are a great way for people to get to know you and another way to stay in touch with others.

If you are going to post something, make sure you are giving something of value. You may want to leave a thought provoking quote, a link to an information-packed article, or a referral to another business. Ultimately, people want to know what's in it for them.

Create Your Own Circle of Influence. Get to know the people within your network and create a mastermind group or a circle of influence. Discover something you have in common or a mutual interest. Develop a relationship with your network.

Give first - show them that you are not just after the sale; you are there to serve them. They need to get to know, like, and trust you. People would sooner do business with a friend than a sales person.

It can often take 7-9 "touches" or contacts with you or your business before you actually make a sale. If your business is not for them, they may refer you to others because they know the person you are.

These savvy secrets to success are about building relationships with people that last. People are the key to business success and long lasting relationships with your customers are the key to the longevity of your business. Be the key that opens the doors of opportunity for others, and doors will open for you!

By : Debra_Kasowski

Networking For Career Success - How to Prioritize Your Network Contacts

As soon as you start collecting names for your network list and you have done some preliminary evaluation, the next step is to prioritize your contacts. In other words, you want to learn more about these people - find out what you and they can offer each other and why.

For each person in your list, you will make a personal profile, containing some basic data about that person. This profile should include contact information and details about his or her professional and personal life. Think about if you are writing a self-portrait, whatever you might write about yourself, that is what you want to put in each personal profile.

Look at your contact list and you can sort it out based on the significance. Then contact the people you like from the bottom five percent to 30 percent of your list. Doing this is just has a practice, which you do not want to do with your top contacts in the list. Follow the steps below:

Prepare by determining whom you want to contact and what you want from him or her. Let the person know that you would like to meet to have some advice at his or her convenience.

Be specific about what you want when you meet. Explain that you want to take your career, business, or organization to the next level and you need some advice. Also make it easy for the person to decline. However, you should work on the reasons for him or her to agree.

The next step is to follow up with a thank-you note within 24 to 48 hours and in return you ask what you can do for him or her. Then you can have this person updated in your list. Ask yourself these questions for evaluation: What did you learn from it? What would you do differently and why? Is this the person with whom you should meet regularly?

When you keep prioritizing your network, you will discover how to best use your time and who can help you succeed. You should also be aware of your netbank. This is each person in your network. Simply, if you have helped someone, then you have made a deposit. If that person has helped you, you have made a withdrawal.

What happen if you find out the balance of your netbank with someone is low or nonexistent? There are three simple things you can do:

Build a balance: Quickly try to find a way to make a deposit in that netbank as soon as possible. That is, find some ways to help him or her.

Wait: Do not ask for anything this time.

Find people with whom you have a sufficient netbank: Can they help yo

By : Tom_Chung

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is Networking an Effective Way to Grow Your Business?

You can have fun and make networking effective for your business if you are intentional in what you do. Many aspects of networking are common sense, however, if you do not have a plan when you go to the event, you will find yourself talking to the same people every time and never finding those new prospects for your business.

Are you aware that every person knows an average of 250 other people? If you connect with five new people at each event, you are potentially introducing your business to 1,250 potential customers/clients for your business.

Keep a few simple don'ts in mind:

Don't make it about you. How many times have you been at a business after hours and someone comes up to you and tells you their life story? You can't get a word in edgewise. All you want to do is escape. It is important that you show interest in them. Be a good listener.

Ask them questions. People like to talk about themselves. If they are a business owner, ask them why they chose their type of business. Who would be a good referral for them?

If someone were looking to get into their industry, what words of advice would they give? Try and avoid personal questions that would be inappropriate.

Don't give your 60 second elevator speech. Many of us who attend a professional networking group on a regular basis are accustomed to giving this speech. However, a networking event is not the place for this speech. When someone asks you "What do you do?"

Give them a response that evokes the question, "How do you do that?" For example, if you are a painter, you may say "I beautify homes and office buildings." This encourages a continued conversation.

Don't offer your business card. At an appropriate time during the conversation, ask the person if they have a business card (you may want to ask for more than one.) If possible, I write a few notes on the card while they are talking, such as what would make a good referral for them.

One other item I try to get is the day and month of their birthday. This will take them by surprise when you ask!

Don't interrupt conversations where a few others are gathered. Don't monopolize their time. If you see two or more people are gathered in an area and you know one of the people, walk up next to them and wait to be recognized or acknowledged.

Always introduce yourself - never assume the other person will remember you. Once you have met someone new, offer to introduce them to others at the event that you know.

Don't return to your office and throw the business cards on your desk and forget about the other person. Send them a follow-up note. This should be a snail mail note, not email. You will be remembered for your personal note. If possible, be a connector. Look for others who could benefit your new contact and try to connect them.

You may want to include the business card of someone that would be a good referral source - thus the reason for asking for more than one business card. Call and ask to meet for coffee or lunch to get to know the other person better. Add them to your contact manager and make a note of their birthday. Won't they be surprised to hear from you months later!

Networking takes practice. If you are a naturally shy person, I suggest you read Bob Burg's book Endless Referrals for tips on breaking the ice.

By : Sue_White

Personal Trainers - How to Network With Other Businesses

Here you are, dreams of your own personal training business about to be made into reality. You have everything you need to succeed: a realistic set of goals, a solid business strategy, and a loyal client base.

Most people would think that you've done everything you can to ensure your success, but there's still one more thing to consider: using other businesses to help boost your client base.

Just as referrals from other clients generate more clients, networking with other businesses is a powerful technique you can use to get your name out there, with less work involved.

An alliance between businesses - that's the idea behind networking, and it's just as incredible as it sounds. Businesses in a network trade referrals between themselves, ensuring that the clients get what they need and the businesses get more business.

There might be a local nutrition center that you can recommend to your clients, for instance, and they in turn can recommend you as a fitness professional to their customers..

People won't trust recommendations from just anybody: they're far more likely to trust product or service recommendations that come from a trusted individual or establishment, such as a business they frequent.

By aligning yourself with other reputable businesses, their clients will quickly become your clients - and your income will easily double with almost no effort!

A local networking organization can help you get started: you can find an existing network to join, or you can look for other people who are interested in starting a network of their own.

You can find even more networking opportunities with other businesses through meetings and conferences held by such groups.

You can find out how to join a networking group through your local business bureau, or you can look for personal training forums online. Don't have a local chapter?

No problem! There's nothing stopping you from starting your own. It won't take long before you find other well-reputed businesses that will be eager to trade referrals with you.

Don't forget to join any national chapters as well; you can find some of the best fitness professionals in the business, and they can offer you advice on your own venture.

For personal trainers, some of the easiest networking opportunities can be found with makers of dietary supplements.

By : Casey_Kaldal