Monthly Archives: March 2014

Choosing a name is one of the more exciting parts of starting a business! It begins to feel real and you start to build a picture in your head of what it might actually look like one day.

You'll want to choose an appropriate business name that helps attract your ideal clients while abiding by legal and other requirements. Don't forget - names can be changed and sometimes it pays to quickly choose a name to get started and stick with it for a while. You can always re-brand later if you think it necessary - it is not difficult for a small business.

It' s much better to get started and concentrate on building your business than stalling for too long trying to choose a name.

NB Steer away from using JUST your own name or initials - this tells nobody anything about your business and does not prompt them to a) say "Ooh, I must speak to her" or b) to ask more about what you do. If you are going to include your name, say what you do as well - see below!

1. What do your ideal customers want?

No matter what business structure you choose, its name will go a fair way to creating the first impression people get when they see your marketing material.

It's a good idea, then, to try to craft a name that will communicate what you do quickly and make it easier to let your ideal customers know what you can do for them.

When starting a business, people do tend to get a bit stuck finding a name they LIKE and that sounds memorable or quirky in some way. Obviously, you're fairly limited on the amount of words you have to play with here but focusing on what your customers actually WANT should really help.

2. What impression do you want to create?

As well as getting across what your business actually does, its name can also convey other Unique Selling Points such as whether it is family run, has been long established, amongst others.

I think some examples are probably useful here so here goes:

a) Are you looking to attract only local customers, perhaps focusing on the point that you know the area and community? If so, you might want to consider using the name of the town or city in your business name. I purposely called by accountancy practice Yeadon Accounting (Yeadon being the town where I live) because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that it was a small firm so I would in turn attract other small business owners who didn't want to pay the large fees of a national accountancy firm and wanted a more personal service.

b) Another way to 'advertise' a more personal service is by including your own name in the business name - so Emma Hague Cleaning Services, for example. This is also a good way to start to position yourself as an expert in your field and to get your name out there. It also lays the foundations for future expansion, should you decide to make the move from business owner to entrepreneur!

c) Do you want a traditional sounding name? Ye 'Olde Village Ale House', for example? This can imply that the business has been around a long time and, perhaps, has old-fashioned values. A more modern sounding name like 'Emma's Bar a la Mode' might convey a fresh and innovative approach selling new and experimental products.

d) Try to avoid very long names and unusual words or spellings - at best, it will take you forever to answer the phone(!), but people may not be able to find your business when searching the internet or Yellow Pages and (worst of all) they might think you have misspelled your quirky word by accident.

e) Some business owners choose names that will appear at or near the beginning of listings in the Yellow Pages and other directories - this is the reason you will see so many businesses called '123 Advertising' or 'Aadvark Accountancy' etc. They hope that they will be the first listing in their category that the customer sees and will call.

Luckily, marketing methods in the main have moved on and this is quite a dated trick. If your whole marketing strategy is dependent on the customer calling the first number they see you're in for a rough ride!

f) If you are thinking of marketing your services further afield than your immediate local area, just make sure that no words or phrases you use are inappropriate in another language or dialect. A business called 'Sandra's Baps', for example, could be advertising a bakery in one area of the UK but something completely different in another!

3. Consider Similarity to Other Business Names

Limited Companies

If you've decided to set up a limited company, you have to make sure that the name you choose is not the same as that of another limited company. Now when I say the same as, that includes anything that is similar enough to another business name that it might cause confusion - Companies House just won't allow it.

You can check this at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk

Sole Traders & Partnerships

Sole traders and 'ordinary' partnerships don't have to register their name with Companies House and so they aren't subject to such restrictions regarding similarity. There can be any number of sole traders using the name 'Emma's Cakes' out there, for example - and there probably are!
However, it makes sense for a number of reasons to try to make sure you choose a name that is different to other businesses in your sector.

It's also a good idea to check registered trademarks so you don't tread on anyone's toes and get yourself into hot water - you can check trademarks that have been registered or are pending registration with the Intellectual Property Office at http://www.ipo.gov.uk

"Amazing Business Creation mentor Emma Hague teaches mums around the UK how to create a work-from-home business they LOVE with confidence & clarity. Get her FREE PDF "5 Signs You're Ready To Kiss your Boss Goodbye After Maternity Leave" at http://www.mumpreneur-training.co.uk/pdf "

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As a young man rising at 5:30 a.m. every morning to bale hay and milk cows, Edward Dovner grew accustomed to the rewards of hard work at a young age. He left his family farm south of Boston to seek his fortune in sunny Florida, and quickly became the charismatic Cabana Boy at the famed The Diplomat Hotel (now The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa) in Hollywood, Florida. Seeking to apply his skills with people to another arena, Edward Dovner accepted the position of sales agent with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Within three years in the position, Edward Dovner garnered numerous awards and attended the Leader’s Conference. After leaving his sales post at the age of 24, Edward Dovner made a name for himself as a successful entrepreneur and currently holds upwards of 30 years experience as a small business owner. Edward Dovner’s first company, an honor snack-vending pursuit, proved profitable and propelled him towards another venture.

Recognizing the public’s growing interest in finer coffee, Edward Dovner founded Northeast Gourmet Coffee. The products of Edward Dovner’s roasting business quickly found a place on the shelves of supermarkets, in the break rooms of offices, and on the tables of many East Coast restaurants. Edward Dovner then sold the company to take on another market, and conceived First Choice Armor & Equipment, which provided industries of law enforcement, military, and security with lasting protective solutions and accessories.

A multi-faceted professional with an eye for many consumer arenas, Edward Dovner is currently working to release products in bicycle storage and portable fitness. He resides in Delray Beach, Florida, and supports an array of charities, including Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Catholic Charities USA, and Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. An enthusiastic traveler, Edward Dovner enjoys trips to destinations including South America, Mexico, Asia, and Europe. 

Ed Dovner started cultivating his entrepreneurial spirit at the tender age of 21 when he became an acclaimed sales agent at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He then successfully created a niche market company within gourmet coffee industry and sold his business for a substantial profit.  In 1993, Ed launched First Choice Armor & Equipment and grew the company to over $90 million in sales. Again Ed sold the company for a substantial profit in 2010.

Over the past two decades, Ed gravitated into the world of commercial real estate.  Ed’s primary focus in commercial real estate has been with the development of single-family house subdivisions and retail strip centers. Since the sale of his first successful company, the establishing and maintaining of his financial relationships has been the center of Ed’s core business. One Ed’s great strengths lies with his network of financial and real estate contacts. This vast network of financial professionals brings added value to Lockwood’s requirement to borrow debt and raise equity.  To date, Ed has delivered to Lockwood two significant developers along with a number of financial real estate companies.

Ed has supported charities such as Jewish Family Services and Catholic Charities. Ed has three sons and over the years has coached his son’s sports teams and continues to participate in such sports as golf, skiing and sky diving.

In addition to the challenges of maintaining passion and excitement for your business, entrepreneurs also face challenging, economic conditions. However, it is a fact that entrepreneurs and small businesses are the cornerstone of a sustainable economy. This fact alone should be an encouragement, but is it enough to keep the passion alive? Probably not, so now that 2014 is off and running, it is the perfect time to ensure you are moving according to plan and keep the passion ignited.

Exactly, how does an entrepreneur or small business owner maintain the PASSION?

P - Plan and Position

A great resource to help re-evaluate your plan is a book by Michael E. Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Do Not Work and What to Do about It. In this book, Gerber contends that "the problem is that everybody who goes into business is actually three-people in one: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician." Gerber guides the small business owner into a clear understanding of their various roles and how each role is distinctly different but important to the success of the organization. The entrepreneur serves as the visionary, the manager oversees planning and the smaller details that ultimately guide the effectiveness and efficiency of the outcome, and the technician gets the job done. Is your infrastructure designed to maximize each role? Are there areas that can be delegated or outsourced?

Once you have answered these questions, it is a great time to write a one-page business plan if you do not already have one in place. A one-page business plan should include a concise plan for the year. If done appropriately, it will guide a business to success one quarter at a time. It will also encourage clarity on monthly, weekly, and daily planning and tasks. It should include specific themes and marketing strategies for each quarter. It is wise to remember that, typically, marketing strategies take time to work and should be evaluated on a quarterly basis. Always inspect what you expect and make sure systems are in place for consistent follow up and follow through. In addition, effective sales and marketing systems are paramount to the success of the plan but must be supported by strong infrastructure.

A - Attitude

Charles R. Swindoll said, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts... we cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes." What is your attitude toward your business, your clients, and yourself? Does it need a reality check? If so, now is the time. Find the significance in every opportunity even if it appears to be a waste of time but do be mindful of how you invest your time. Embrace change with a can do attitude and constantly monitor your circle of influence. They say you become like the people you are around the most. Attitude can make a huge difference in gaining the trust and confidence of a new client or losing a ton of business because of a poor attitude toward that one client. The news of bad experiences travel much more quickly than pleasant ones.

S - Sound Strategies and Scalable Solutions

Sound strategies create a firm foundation. In his book, Michael E. Gerber stresses the importance of a business implementing the following strategies: Organizational, Management, People, Marketing, and Systems. Now is the time to ensure that your business has these strategies in place. Also, it is important to make certain you are maximizing your team's talents and investing time and money into cost effective resources.

Developing scalable solutions is another vital area. Scalable solutions are systems that can be expanded as your business expands. For instance, if you invest in specific software, be sure that the software has the capacity to serve more functions as your business grows. It helps to keep this in mind as you are developing, re-evaluating your systems and business model or solving a business challenge. It is a cost saving measure to ensure the systems have the capability of being replicated on a larger scale and the ability to be used for multiple functions.

S - Success-Driven Mindset

As an entrepreneur with a success-driven mindset, making solid decisions and taking action is a daily routine and is critical to the success of the company's bottom line. A success-driven mindset requires prioritizing and a great work ethic. It requires doing the most important activity right now and finding the opportunity in every obstacle. A business owner with a success-driven mindset also seeks continual education in his or her industry or profession.

I - Inspect and Expect

Again, the one-page business plan is critical to keeping an entrepreneur focused on the activities that directly impact the bottom line. Many business plans are created but the best plans are the ones that are put into action. Pick up your 100 page business plan, dust it off, and create your one-page plan of action. This will help you inspect what you expect. Here are some categories to consider including (bullet point as much as possible):

 

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Theme
  • Goals
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Total Yearly Budget
  • Income Projection with concise explanation
  • Cost Projection with concise explanation
  • Business Model with income streams (products, services, etc.)
  • Key Performance Indicator Plan
  • Future Income Streams
  • Expenses
  • Personal Growth Goals (skills you want to improve or credentials you are seeking).

 

Whether you alter a system or implement a new one, it is vitally important to do periodic inspections to ensure effectiveness. Also, when delegating tasks, it is important to follow up and make sure you have the right people for the right tasks and that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support the goal.

O - Overdeliver and Underpromise

Superb customer service is guaranteed to keep your pipeline filled. Nothing travels faster than word of mouth and word of mouth can be your greatest ROI (return on investment) because it is FREE. By providing superb customer service, you are telling your customers you appreciate and value their business. One of the main goals of customer service should be to make your customers feel like they are special and that you go beyond the call of duty to fulfill their needs. Great customer service is an ultimate sales tool that is often overlooked and underutilized. If it is not taken seriously, word of mouth can also become your greatest liability. It is also important to refrain from making promises you can not keep. However, communication is key if you are not able to deliver the product or service at the agreed upon time.

N - Network with Impact

The question is not what someone can do for you but what value can you bring to someone else? It is important to manage the investment of time and money when networking or building relationships. Look for organizations where you can develop mutually beneficial relationships, build collaborations, and strategic alliances. Include networking in your one-page business plan because it is a huge discipline and marketing strategy.

After you have identified your networks, what is the next course of action? Determine what you would like to accomplish prior to the event, be sure your business card and elevator speech convey what you offer, identify your uniqueness, and what problem you solve. It is also important to ask your new contacts how you can help them and be specific in telling them what you are looking for. As soon as you receive a business card, record the date, where you met the individual and key reminders. Finally, be sure to follow up within 24 hours. Remember, a new relationship takes time to develop and consistent communication is key.

We can learn from an old Chinese Proverb: "When you hear something, you will forget it; when you see something, you will remember it; but not until you do something, will you understand it." Act on the information provided, focus on the opportunities and not the challenges, and you will keep the passion in your business and continue to make a difference in our communities and the world.

Have you ever wondered how successful people become successful? Throughout my life, I have examined the lives and businesses of those who are labeled as successful and I found two common themes: Mindset and the fact they all have what I refer to as "Success Teams." PBAOTC is a "Success Team" program I developed on a quest to live a healthy, wealthy and well-balanced life. Find out how to develop your "Success Team" with your complimentary gift today, a chapter from my new book on 12 Steps to Building a New Life. Visit me at http://www.lpstrategist.com.

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Step One: Have an Idea or Get One

You heard it before, all you need it a dollar and a dream. Well that dream is the idea that starts us down the road to entrepreneurship. If you have an idea then skip this step and go to the next. If you don't have an idea then you need to generate one. Easier said than done but here is a few ways others have tried.

Ask everyone you meet, (and I mean everyone you meet for 30 days continuously), "Do you have a problem that you would pay to get solved?" Write down all of the answer no matter if no matter if you think you can solve them or not. Think of this step as brainstorming. Remember in a storm, things are flying everywhere and it's chaotic. Decide what the top twenty ideas are and rank them in terms of the frequency they were suggested; next skills you believe you have to accomplish them; and finally how easy they are to accomplish. Remember to save the ones that didn't make the list, you never know the pearls that can be found there, after you have honed your entrepreneurial skills. Now you have 20 ideas, but working on all of these would take a massive amount of time, so you are going to reduce these to five. Once again you are going to use the people you meet and the people around you. Ask them to rank the ideas according to what they believe will best suit you. Don't be afraid to talk about your ideas with people in the beginning because that can give you a reputation of beings a guy with ideas or a guy who is always asking questions. This allows you to spend time with people that are like-minded. Gather all the votes for each idea, then add between 3 to 5 points to each idea you like and take the top 5.

Don't spend the majority of your time convincing other you are right, just find others that think like you and work with them. Once you have your 5 ideas start assessing them. Go to next step (Step Two).

Turn to Google and Google it. Put something into a Google search like, "small businesses to start". Once you have a list of about 50 small businesses to start, then reduce the list to 20. Same as above; rank the ideas by the number of skills you believe you have to accomplish them and also how easy they are to accomplish. As above, you should save the ones that didn't make the cut. With your 20 ideas, you have to further reduce them to 5 ideas. To reduce you will have to utilize the people around you. Ask them to rank the ideas according to what they believe will best suit you. Gather all the votes for each idea, then add between 3 to 5 points to each idea you like and take the top 5. Now let's go to Step Two.

Step Two: Assess Your Idea; Talk to People about It

In this step the 5 ideas from step one will be boiled down to one idea, this is your dream and in the next step you will have to find a dollar. Hone and refine your idea. You need to reduce those 5 ideas down to one. There are three things you have to keep in mind when assessing your ideas and they are set up cost, maintenance and profitability. When assessing set up cost, figure out all the cost associated with set up like any regulatory fees or licenses or zoning requirements.

Step Three: Start with Little or No Money

You might be asking yourself how the hell, do I start a business with no money or little money. Start by looking at the parts of needed for a business to start. The essential ingredients of a business are manpower, capital, product, marketing, financial management, and distribution. How do you accomplish these things when you are starting with nothing? Here are some ways to do this. There is no specific order in which you can try the following or any rule that says you cannot combine the different ways. Crowd sourcing funding, network to find people with the skills you need to start and are willing to invest their time.

Step Four: Create or Assess Your Business Model

The good thing about get to this point is that you have done the first two parts of creating or assessing your business model. You should know the purpose of the business at this point and you know it's more specific that make a profit or get customers. You know what problem you r business solves. You should have a fair idea who your customers are. Also you should know what your business's offerings are. All that is left to figure out is your marketing strategies, the specific steps you move a customer through to get them to the end where they pay you and last but not least, your policies. Policies can make or break a business before it begins. You should have similar policies found in other business like yours but review them carefully before implementing.

So there you have it. It's clear as mud. There is more to these four steps as you will learn but the important things is to start moving and continue till you get through all steps. Happy entrepreneurial trails. Work smart and prosper.

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Running a small business is no small undertaking. Technology systems, processes, and employees need to work in unison to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly.

Effective managers will always find ways to work smarter, not harder. There are countless paths to success in business, but standardizing and leveraging technology resources will make your overall workflow more efficient.

But before you run out and start purchasing new equipment, consider some of what I consider my go-to best IT practices for growing businesses:

Streamline Processes

Consistency is the key to making your workplace comfortable and professional. Perform a comprehensive audit of all your technology resources. Make a list of programs, platforms, and applications that are used on a daily basis. With a sharp eye, you'll quickly recognize those systems that are cost-prohibitive and can be eliminated.

Switches might range from decreasing your overall paper flow, to making the leap from on-premise servers to a hybrid cloud storage solution. Listen to your staff and find out what applications are holding them back from future success.

Use Productivity Tools

Time is money in today's interconnected world, so waiting for computer restarts and file updates should be out of the question. Making sure that there's a constant flow of work through all your digital platforms lets you shift your attention back to generating leads and finalizing deals with new customers.

Messaging platforms, team management tools, and cloud computing can all decrease idle time between projects. Test and re-test your systems before executing your new technology plan to work out any technical difficulties.

Even with all the rave reviews you may see online, make sure you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your tools before handing them over to your employees for immediate implementation.

Make Storage & Security A Priority

Contact information, financial records, and project statuses all must be guarded by several levels of security. Customize your log-ins and revise passwords on a monthly basis. You can never take too many precautions, as even a momentary leak of information can significantly damage a company's reputation.

Select your anti-spam and anti-virus software by comparing the costs and benefits of each choice. Put controls in place and designate a single individual to handle any sensitive data. Even with these safety measures in place, backing up all your files in a central location will give you peace of mind in the case of any system crashes.

Stay Updated At All Times

Technology changes every single day and becomes outdated. What was cutting edge weeks ago can quickly become a relic, leaving your business lost in the past. Installing patches, defragmenting desktops, and subscribing to updates should be standard practice for all your employees.

By doing your IT "homework," you can avoid the one thing that ever small business fears: a total system breakdown. Costing you time and money, don't end up kicking yourself for not taking a few extra minutes to download that latest update, or checking in with an IT Support specialist.

Ask For Professional Help, When Needed

Most blogs preach about the latest and greatest IT breakthroughs, so choosing the correct systems and platforms can be overwhelming. But making an uneducated decision can be just as costly. If you're not a tech geek or self-professed IT guru, turn to outside assistance. Sometimes, approaching an IT consulting firm is the best decision you can make.

To further discuss how Aqueity, a professional IT Support firm, can help support your small business technology needs, visit http://www.aqueity.com.

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Business is not just about the number of hours you work or how many hurdles you overcome. It is about achieving your goals in the shortest time possible without compromising on the quality of your product or service while maintaining healthy margins. Beginning and sustaining a small business entity requires knowledge, motivation and innovation.

Most entrepreneurs take minute factors into consideration when starting a small business. Doing this makes them waste a lot of time, and time is one of the most important factors in a business, as it has a high opportunity cost. The following are the critical steps to be followed to get this rolling in the least time possible:

1. Choose your business opportunity

Identifying what to invest in can be very frustrating, especially when sifting through the numerous, viable opportunities. It is important to choose something that resonates with your passions and personality. Most importantly, it is the skills you possess that will make or break your start up.

2. Draw up a business plan

This will enable you to gain deeper insight of the workings of the sector you have just chosen. It also helps you understand the financial requirements and the competitive landscape. Startups carry a fifty percent chance of making more profits than unplanned businesses. Generally, coming up with a business plan simply makes excellent sense.

3. Come up with the startup capital

To start any enterprise, you have to invest. Coming up with funds for startup is a different journey for each and every individual. Ideas such as setting up a consultancy firm, normally require a couple of thousand dollars to set up a website and print business cards. In contrast, a retail store may need funds in excess of a hundred thousand dollars.

4. Choose a name

Names can make or break a business. Choosing the correct name can help clients in distinguishing you from your competitors. Not only does the correct name help in positively branding your company, it also helps in giving your customers a reason to seek your products and services. Think of something that is easy for someone to remember.

5. Outline a structure.

Choosing the most appropriate structure is a critical decision. Ranging from sole proprietorship to the renowned limited liability company, your choice of business structure will directly affect the taxes you pay, your finance ability and your business liability. It is not recommended to lay too much emphasis on your final business structure because your structure may evolve as your business does.

Learn step by step how to start your business online. After using these resources, I was able to double my income every week. This book will tell you everything you need to know in order to start. Click here http://www.top-investment-insights.com

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A new business venture promises to be very exciting. You have something new that is keeping you busy. It's a different kind of life adventure that you intend to maintain and keep afloat, so that you reap a world of rewards from it for as long as other successful companies all over the globe do. It is ultimately a source of income for you after all.

Keeping your momentum and motivation up, however, is a totally different story that speaks of struggles and issues. Nevertheless, many have conquered the entrepreneurial scene and have made a name for themselves in their respective industries.

A few easy (and some hard) rules apply when it comes to starting a business. With these few winning ideas, you might just be one of those success stories. Let's get a little bit more serious and dig in.

1. Believe that your business can make it.

It's a basic rule for every startup business owner, but it seems to be the most difficult to take to heart. There will be a few bumpy roads here and there, but they're challenges you can expect to come your way. Think how many times the best entrepreneurs and the biggest corporations around the world started small. It is definitely easier said than done, but take inspiration from the way they overcame the hurdles, and how they continue to overcome them.

2. Communicate to your customers all the time.

Social media and communication tools don't exist for nothing. They work not only for individuals who wish to share their lives; they are platforms for making a difference, including in your new business. Make sure you utilize the latest technologies and platforms to relay every message to your target market, as well as to generate response or feedback from them which, in turn, you can analyze to improve the products and services that you already offer.

An important tip: When it comes to communicating with customers, think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and other platforms through which many businesses promote, market or advertise what they can give to the customer.

3. Widen your network, and never stop at anything.

Seeing a lot of enterprises whose businesses are of strategic relevance to yours? Go and network with them. Make sure you participate in online and offline conferences, expos, trade shows and similar business or industry events. Take part in trainings and speak out in gatherings. Get introduced to people who can help you expand your network. Take the risk and approach companies for leads and potential partnerships.

Always bear in mind that customers want to reach you and be able to communicate with you for their orders, inquiries and concerns. Get 1800 number at easyinbound and give the impression that you are a reputable player in the industry that values their every call.

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Small business owners may be able to wear as many hats as they can, but that can be pretty tiring eventually. With the advent of outsourcing, small business owners have found a way to get the assistance they need, especially for activities that they are not skilled at all to begin with. Especially for activities that are not income-generating, but are integral nonetheless to the operations of the business, outsourcing has been the answer to getting it done properly and at the fraction of the cost.

Time is of the essence for small enterprises, hence it is important that small business owners are smart to outsource some of their business activities overseas instead of doing everything all by themselves.

Marketing is probably one of the best activities to outsource for your small business. It is integral in income-generation. However, with countless consultants and PR firms blossoming everywhere from around the world, it wouldn't hurt to consider outsourcing their services and letting them manage your marketing and publicity concerns. Outsource your marketing efforts such that offshore marketing professionals will be the ones managing your business website, your email campaigns, your social media engagements and more. It will definitely help free up your time while you let the pros take care of it for you.

Payroll is another facet of small business management that is best to outsource. Payroll is a time-consuming process. You need to invest time and be organised at all times to keep records updated and accurate, calculate cash amounts per employee and communicate them effectively per employee. Instead of putting a great majority of your time preparing your payroll, you can have payroll professionals overseas to manage it for you. And when tax season comes, you have the necessary documents to submit without errors, which will free you up from incurring penalties. The same with payroll, you can also outsource your bookkeeping and accounting requirements.

Administrative support is best to outsource as well. With most business activities grounded on the computer these days such as creating files in Excel, uploading data on online databases, booking travel arrangements and crafting email replies to name a few, hiring overseas employees to help you with your administrative requirements should be a consideration as well. It is like having virtual assistants who can help you get a variety of business activities done. Further, since it is natural for small business owners to be hands-on with their activities, it helps if they have someone able to rely on and to assist them with whatever activities they need to accomplish.

To make outsourcing successful for you, you need to find the best outsourcing contractor for your small business. Be extra smart in choosing the contractor to partner with by researching and getting referrals from co-business owners you trust. If you are new to outsourcing, it is best to opt for a short-term contract first to test the waters. If you are satisfied with the transactions, extend it. At the end of the day, partner with the outsourcing contractor who will treat your business goals as your own. Everything else will flow smoothly from that point.

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In our law office we advise LOTS of startup companies and we are often asked what actions new entrepreneurs can take to avoid some of the early pitfalls or "rookie mistakes" that can seriously hurt your new business venture. These are our 3 favorite tips for new companies.

Tip #1 - Make Sure Your Clients Can Reach You

When was the last time you left a recorded message, and then simply waited around to be called back? The bottom line is that customers and clients must be able to reach you quickly, and are not going to wait. Many of your prospects have Googled you (and your competition) and are working their way down a list.

If missing a call means missing a sale, I tell all of our service-industry clients to invest in a reliable and affordable answering service. By using a call-answering service, they usually obtain more conversions and higher customer service satisfaction by ensuring someone is there to "listen" to their client's concerns instead sending the calls to an answering machine.

Tip #2 - Solidify Your Marketing Plan

Before you launch your product to your target clients, you should design and implement a marketing plan that addresses this fundamental question: Why should our customers use our products/services instead of our competitor's? If your management team doesn't have a rock-solid answer to this question, you need to rethink your strategy. Being able to clearly identify what sets your company a part from the competition is the foundation of a good marketing plan.

As the newest vendor in the marketplace no one will know about your product unless you tell them about it. You do not want your great product to sit on a shelf due to insufficient marketing.

Tip #3 - Don't Do It All Yourself

As a new business owner, you need to clearly identify which tasks you should do yourself, and which tasks should be assigned to a licensed professional. Your company's bottom line often depends on your availability to either make the products or perform the services. Guard your time fiercely and delegate or outsource those unprofitable time-stealing tasks.

For example, it is not uncommon for start-ups to be faced with several legal hurdles to begin operation. From contracts to compliance, you should consult with a business attorney that can advise you on what legal matters he or she should handle on your behalf to ensure your start-up gets the best terms and stays within the law.

Some start-ups fail to launch because they didn't seek the right permit or license, or failed to successfully navigate the local political minefield. An experienced business attorney can research such matters and (objectively) tell you where you might run into trouble.

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One of the things I find prevents budding mumpreneurs getting going is worrying that the small business idea they have is 'silly' or that people just won't want what they have to offer.

Well, first of all, the beauty of having a small business is that you can change things as you go - it's all about refining what you offer and trying to give people what they really want, and will pay you for. For most of us, that is a continual journey - you keep tweaking and improving what you offer so that a) you feel great about the value you're giving your clients and b) you attract more of them!

But it would be a tad irresponsible to throw yourself into something without having done a little bit of research into whether the service you're going to offer is along the right lines of what people want to start with.

Most of my clients know they should do some kind of research but don't have a clue where to start (or skip it because they think it will cost money they don't have).

Here's the good news: in the age of the internet, you can do a good chunk (and as much as you need to get started, in my opinion) from the comfort of your own sofa - and for free!

All you need are some keywords for the type of service you're thinking about offering (or your 'Promise' as it's known on our campus!) and an internet connection.

So here we go - my top 3 tips for checking whether there is a market for your small business idea (and for tweaking it to fit what people DO want!):

1. Check your keywords

The fact that so many people use internet search engines (rather than the Yellow Pages, say) to find what they're looking for nowadays, means they're a great place for us to start.

The tool I use, at the moment, to research what people are looking for is Keywordspy - although I also use Google's Keyword Planner Tool from time to time as well, depending on what I want to find out.

Keywordspy is a website that gives you insight into activity on the web - you can pay for detailed information but the free access should be enough for what we need here.

Simply navigate to the keywordspy website, type your keywords or phrase into the search bar, choose the 'keywords' button, choose 'United Kingdom' from the list of countries and hit search.

You will be shown a list of the words and phrases that are related to the words you have entered, and that are currently being searched for by others on internet search engines - along with the estimated number of monthly searches.

This shows whether or not people are actually showing an interest in the topic you have chosen. It may also help you narrow down what you decide to do for people (or which people you decide to do it for!) when you see the most popular searched phrases.

Make a note of those words and phrases that have a monthly volume of between, say, 1,000 - 18,000 searches.

While you need to know there are people searching for the information/services/products you want to offer, if the search results come back in the 100,000s, your keywords are probably too broad and you need to try narrow down the field a bit by being more specific. This is something I also use to help people identify their 'niche'.

2. Check out the competition

Many mums are worried about having to compete with other businesses and they will waste months - or years - trying to come up with a small business idea that no-one else has ever thought of, because they think it will be easier if they have no competition.

Well, I have news for you - this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when deciding what business to start, not least because the chances are you will never make that discovery and, therefore, never take the first step.

The chances of you thinking of a brand new business that no-one in the world has EVER thought of are virtually non-existent. And you don't need to.

In fact, you actually want to pick a business that other people ARE already active in - because it means that there is a market for it. If no-one else is bothering with a certain type of business, there's probably a good reason.

The best thing you can do is adapt a small business idea that is already proven to be working and put your own unique twist on it. Believe me - I'm an accountant by profession and we (I'm afraid to say) are a dime a dozen! I had to put my own stamp on the service I provided to attract people to switch to my practice from elsewhere. It's not hard, you just need to find out what people actually want.

Think of the new businesses/products you've seen or heard of recently. you can see good examples on the shopping channel infomercials (very successful marketing method by the way); the H2O Steam Cleaner (yes, we've got one!) - it's a mop. The Insanity workout - it's an exercise DVD. We've got that too!

They are all variations of, or improvements on, things that have been around for a long time. No-one's re-inventing the wheel and you don't have to either. They are simply providing solutions to the specific problems they know their ideal clients are experiencing.

So another factor to consider, when you're looking at your keywords on http://www.keywordspy.com is the competition. How many PPC (Pay Per Click) advertisers are there for the words you've entered? What are they paying per click? Ideally you want to be coming up with words/phrases where people are paying £1-£2 per click.

Any more than this, you'll probably end up paying a lot for your marketing, and again, you'll want to think about focusing on becoming a bit more 'niched'. Any less than this and the demand may not actually be that great which is why advertisers aren't prepared to pay much to come high up in the search engine results.

3. See what people are writing about

Finding out what books have been written about your chosen topic is a great way to judge public interest - most people won't go to the trouble of writing, publishing and marketing a book without having already done extensive research into whether people are interested in their topic. It's a big investment.

These authors have already gone to the pain and expense of market research - and we can use this to our advantage.

So go to http://www.amazon.com and search for books relating to the kind of business you want to start or service you want to offer. Chances are you will find SOME books - see what areas they focus on and read the reviews to see what people think/like/want to see more of.

If there are hundreds of books on the subject, think about what particular area you could focus on - again, what 'niche' can you become an expert in?

Amazing Business Creation mentor Emma Hague teaches mums around the UK how to create a work-from-home business they LOVE with confidence & clarity. Get her FREE PDF "5 Signs You're Ready To Kiss your Boss Goodbye After Maternity Leave" at http://www.mumpreneur-training.co.uk/pdf

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