Is Running Your Business From Home a Good Idea?

For many business owners, starting a business from home seems like a good idea. Working from home lowers business expenses and offers a familiar work environment. However, working from home can hinder the business’ opportunity for growth. Here are a few factors to consider before deciding whether you and your business are well suited for home or the office.

What type of business are you running?

Some businesses are well suited to operate from home and others require an office or store. To determine which format of operation is best, it’s important to consider what type of business you are running. Nearly all product based businesses require a store. Coffee shops, corner stores and restaurants require a unit of operation separate from the owner’s home. The store or office of your business should be the primary work locale as the owner. Although you may not have an active role in the physical operation of your product based business as the owner, being on site helps your business. Questions from your employees can be answered directly and concerns of your customers can be treated personally. Having a store helps to advertise your business and running a product based business from home is not an effective way to sell your products. On the contrary, most service based businesses can be operated from home. This is because most services take place outside of the office. Despite this, sometimes having a store can help advertise your business and promote walk-in business.

Do you enjoy interacting with customers and employees?

Although some business can be operated from home, it’s important to consider if this matches your business model. Sometimes working from home is not an option if your business model demands highly personalized service. A business owner that strives to serve his or her customers with a personal touch should avoid working from home.  In fact, interacting with employees and customers can give business owners insights about new directions for their business.

Do you have employees?

Usually, small businesses are best operated from home and larger businesses are best operated in a store setting. This is because working from home makes it difficult to accommodate employees. Working from home is a good provisional step to make until you grow your business to a point where employees are necessary. Prior to hiring, consider investing in a store or office space for your business. Employees are easier to manage from one central location.

Do you have a family?

Having a family is often an incentive to work from home, especially for parents with young kids. This is not a good motive to run your business from home. Working in a bothersome environment reduces productivity and divides your attention. It is advisable to find a good work-family divide when running your business.

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Creating a Logo for Your Business

Every successful business has a logo. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks all have logos. You might think they have logos because they are successful businesses, but in fact having a logo can make your business succeed. This is because logos foster the idea of brand name recognition.

People don’t like to read things. People prefer symbols and images. This is why logos are such effective tools to market your business. When people see an image they immediately associate what they feel with what they see. As such, people attach the experience they have with the image they see. Use of logos offers potential customers with a way to easily recognize your brand. But how do you create a logo?

A logo should reflect your brand

A logo should be more than a picture or text. It should have meaning to you and your business. Logos should be a symbol or images, sometimes text, that reflect what you are selling or how you want the customer to feel. Remember, a logo isn’t only a branding technique; it can also be used to differentiate your business from your competitors.

The colour scheme is important

The colours you choose to use with your logo have a surprisingly important impact on people’s perception of your business. People inherently associate colours with emotions. They don’t even recognize it. This is why it’s important to choose colours that support the message you want your logo to express. A graphic designer can help you organize your logo’s colour scheme to match the message you want your logo to convey.

Hire a graphic designer

Although you may have an idea of the logo you want for your business, hiring a graphic designer is a good idea. Graphic designers understand how to make a logo look professional and can provide feedback and modifications to your logo as your business grows.

Trademark

Before publicly using your logo, make sure that you trademark your logo to prevent other companies from using your brand.

 

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Investing in Mutual Funds

Investments in equity and debt have distinctive features. Stocks earn money quickly, but are dangerously volatile. Bonds are very safe places to keep your money, but sometimes the return on your investment isn’t quick enough. Although both of these investments have different advantages, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. The best of both investments can be achieved through a mutual fund. When you invest in a mutual fund, you are pooling your money with other investors to buy a selection of stocks and bonds. The stocks and securities in the mutual fund are normally chosen by the manager of the mutual fund. Much like with stocks, when you invest in a mutual fund you are essentially buying shares of the fund. Thus, the way you make money is very similar to that of equity investments.

Advantages to mutual funds

Mutual funds are a desirable alternative to choosing stocks and bonds alone because someone invests your money for you. Mutual funds offer moderate risk and moderate rewards on your investment. Keep in mind that there is still a risk on your investment since you own a share of the mutual fund, yet this risk is less than if you invested in stocks alone. The risk is less than with stocks because trading many stocks and bonds in the same fund dilutes the losses from your investments. Any losses on investments in mutual funds are diluted by the fact that a loss on a stock is distributed over every share in the mutual fund. Also, even if one stock in the mutual fund loses money, other earning stocks can mitigate the effects of the losing stock. The same principle applies to the devaluation of any securities held by the mutual fund.

Another reason that people like mutual funds is because they are liquid investments. Shares of a mutual fund can be traded like shares of a company. Investment choices made by the mutual fund are left at the discretion of the manager; however you still get to make decisions about your individual shares in the mutual fund.

Money is made on your investment in multiple ways when you invest in a mutual fund since multiple forms of investment are made. Distributions accumulate on investments also. These come from any money earned as dividends or interest on securities or stocks in the mutual fund. Money can be earned on your investment as capital gains when you sell your shares in the mutual fund. This is not always advisable because selling your shares in a mutual fund is essentially cashing out of any future distributions the will be made unless you buy back your shares at another time.

Disadvantages to mutual funds

While mutual funds are good ways to invest your money, there are downsides. Firstly, mutual funds are not without risk. While any stock losses are diluted, this does not mean that risk is entirely eliminated from your investment. In addition, mutual funds do not normally allow you to choose specific stocks or bonds. Normally the manager does this. While you do get to know what stocks and bonds are in the mutual fund, you do not get to make executive decisions about how the fund deals with these investments. This often means that savvy investors need to take the back seat and allow the manager of the mutual fund to make investments they would make differently. Finally, mutually funds are taxed and fees are associated with investing. These two properties of mutual funds reduce the value of your earnings.

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Name a Business

Naming your business can be a very difficult part of its establishment. The names of businesses vary. Some businesses have names that directly describe their products or services. Other businesses have names that are made-up, but encapsulate the tone of their service. How do you decide which style of business name to use? There are numerous factors to consider when naming a business.

Types of business names

Naming a business is not a trivial task. The name of your business carries weight with the consumer and can sometimes influence their decision about your product. This is a strange statement given that many times there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the names of many successful businesses. Despite this, the name of a business can be more reflective of its product than you give it credit for.

Made-up business names, or coined names for short, are names using words that are not formally defined in the business’ language of operation. An example of a coined business name is Microsoft. Coined names are often the product of practical psychology concepts, namely the use of morphemes. Morphemes are small pieces of real words that are used in coined names. By utilizing segments of one or many words in a business name, you are effectively telling customers what your business strives to accomplish in its products and services without explicitly saying it. The name Microsoft is comprised of two morphemes. “Micro” is used to stress small and “soft” is used to stress software. By putting these two word segments together, customers think that Microsoft produces miniaturized computers and software. In a world where miniaturization is at a premium, this name inspires technological confidence in the company before customers even look at the product.

Other business names are descriptive and directly tell you what the business aims to do. These names are easy to understand, but are not as easy to use as you may think. There are many strategies to achieve a good descriptive business name.

Advantages and disadvantages of descriptive business names

Descriptive business names describe the products or services you sell. An example of a descriptive business name is Captain George’s Fish and Chips. The name explicitly tells you what the restaurant is selling. These names are efficient ways to inform your clientele about your business, but sometimes run into legal trouble. Given that nearly every business trademarks their name, sometimes a simple descriptive name will infringe on trademarks. For this reason, it’s important to consult a trademark lawyer to check that your name is usable before opening your business. Other naming strategies can certainly be used to achieve a good descriptive business name without trademark infringement. Metaphorical names are increasingly popular. These names capitalize on the concept of metaphors to find an original business name. An example of a metaphorical business name is Twitter. In addition, by misspelling words in your business name, you can avoid trademark infringement of other companies with the same name. This can often be achieved in a way that is aesthetically pleasing by using a pun for a word in your business name if it’s fitting to your company.

Advantages and disadvantages of coined business names

Coined business names can be equally valued amongst consumers. This is because many businesses choose morphemes from buzzwords that tell you what the business does without directly stating it. This is an effective way to avoid the complications of descriptive business names in terms of trademark infringement but can sometimes raise additional complications. A disadvantage of coined names for businesses is that they are often difficult to create. Any coined name will not suffice. It’s often necessary to enlist the help of a professional to create a business name for you. Professionals know how to create a name that will market well to prospective clients and also doesn’t sound ridiculous. The tradeoff of hiring someone to create a business name is the fact that this costs time and money. This isn’t a practical approach to a new business with no revenues.

Which naming strategy should I use?

Different types of business names have different advantages. The law that binds all good business names with their customers is that good business names tell the customer what the company strives to accomplish. There are many different approaches to name a business, and different levels of success can be achieved through different naming strategies, but the name must register with the customer in a way that informs them of the qualities or brand of your business.

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Setting Good Business Goals

Business goals are difficult to set. Some business owners set goals that are too ambitious whereas others sell themselves short of their business’ true potential.  Luckily, savvy business owners have established a set of guidelines to help businesses determine reasonable goals to become more successful.

The SMART acronym is used to summarize the factors that need to be considered when setting a business goal. Each letter in the SMART criteria encapsulates a factor your goal needs to bypass before proceeding with the goal. These factors are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. If your goal takes into account all five factors of SMART, your goal is reasonable and can be pursued for the purposes of growing your business.

Specific

Specificity is an important factor to consider when establishing a business goal. A goal that is too broad will not get your business where you want it to be. This is why a specific goal, or a detailed plan of action, is a requirement for your goal. An example of a broad goal is earning a larger salary from your business. This would not pass the specificity requirement of the SMART criteria because the goal does not specify a target value. A specific goal is earning a salary of $50,000 from your small business.  A specific plan of action helps make the goal you’re setting a reality by putting wheels in motion that will contribute to your overall goal, rather than hoping your goal will become a reality by stating it.

Measurable

Measurable goals are a corollary of specific goals. Measurable goals are important because they are an unbiased way of monitoring the progress of your specific goal. Measurability comes in many forms. Goals like increasing business volume are measurable because the amount of people in your store or shop can be counted. Goals that cannot be conceivably measured are often flawed and should be avoided. These normally stem from a lack of specificity in your goal.

When measuring your progress towards a certain goal, keep in mind that certain goals are attainable through short term modifications and other goals require a long term commitment to a certain business plan. For this reason, it’s important to anticipate the rate of progress of your goal so you can properly assess the measured information. For instance, attempting to increase the daily volume in your store by 50 people by the end of the year is a measurable goal. However, increasing business volume is a long term goal. Do not abandon the goal because your daily volume has only increased by 15 people in two months.

Attainable

Assessing the attainability of a goal is often difficult to do. Outlandish goals are sometimes reached and seemingly simple goals are sometimes not. The factor of attainability ensures that the goal traces a plan of action for your business. This falls under the umbrella of setting a specific business goal, however the factor of attainability takes into account the business plan that will be implemented to reach the goal. By doing so, the goal can be qualified as potentially attainable given that the business plan has a possibility of working. The reality of all business plans is that sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Utilizing the factor of measurability will help assess the validity of your plan and make course corrections to attain the goal.

The criterion for attainability can also take into account whether the goal’s mandate is specific to your business’ market. For example, setting the goal of increasing daily volume in your café through newspaper advertisement is a specific and measurable goal. However, if the target clientele of your café are people aged 18-22 year olds, your goal is not likely to be attained relative to your market. This is because newspaper advertisement does not normally reach 18-22 year olds. A more attainable goal would be to reach these people through social media and a business website.

Relevant

Relevancy helps to determine whether the goal is moving your business in the right direction. Some goals can be accomplished, but the goal itself is not helpful in a way that is significant to the desired direction of the business. Relevancy helps business owners decide whether their business goal is worth pursuing at all. For instance, a goal to increase restaurant clientele is not relevant to a business that wants to attract an exclusive customer base.

Time-based

The goal you set must have a timeline. It’s important that the timeline of the goal not be arbitrary. Rather, the timeline should be based on the type of goal you set. Time-based goals are important to set because they help establish your expected rate of progress. Time dependant goals also help you stay on track with your business goal to help make it a reality.

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Writing a Good Business Plan

A business plan is a requirement before starting a business. It tells people what you are planning to do and takes into consideration the cost of running the business, the projected profitability of your business and your target customers. Although a business plan seems simple, writing a good business plan is essential to reassure investors that their money is safe in your hands.  Business plans also highlight any obstacles you may face while starting and running your business. The following article provides steps about writing a good business plan so you can build your business.

Identify your business

The first step of writing a business plan is to identify what type of business you are running. This includes the type of business entity you will establish, the goods or services you will provide and the clientele you aim to serve .While this seems simple, it’s important to correctly identify your business so you can assess market factors.

Analyze the market

The market encapsulates all forms of goods and services being traded at any given time. Market factors are factors influencing which goods or services are traded and at what rate. Market factors help anticipate if your business will be successful. There are many market factors to consider. A few include if the market is suited for your product and whether you can compete with companies selling the same type of products. By doing market research about your business, namely demographics and competing businesses, you can identify how market factors will influence your business.

Property and protection

To sell you products, you need to make sure that your product is legally available to sell. If the technology you plan to sell has already been patented, you will need permission from the entity holding the patent to sell your product. In addition, you will need to legalize your company name and trademark your business name and logo. You should also determine what types of insurance you will need to operate your business.

Create a financing strategy

Creating a financing strategy will tell you how much money you will need to start your business.  Financing strategies are also excellent ways to reassure banks and investors that you plan to pay them back. A revenue model should also be provided to indicate how you plan to divvy up the revenue of your business.  A revenue model should be realistic based on your product and the market you are entering.

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Utilizing the Internet to Market Your Small Business

The Internet may be the largest publicly accessible toolbox known to man, so why not use it to grow your business? Easier said than done I suppose. With so many available options, how do you know which tools to use and which ones to avoid? This article will teach you how to master the synergistic effects of Internet advertising to grow your small business effectively.

Start a website (or a blog!)

A website allows you to inform your clientele about your business. Furthermore, a website can be used for many purposes relating to your business. It can be used to communicate news and messages with clients that visit your page, to sell products or to express information about your business. A website is the ultimate tool to interact with your clientele in a way that reaches many people and helps move your business forward.

Despite the advantages of starting a website for your business, maintaining and updating a website can be difficult and tedious for those who are not familiar with HTML or web design. This can translate to more business expenses as you will need to employ someone to maintain your website. A simpler alternative is to start a blog. Blogs are much simpler to maintain than a website for someone with no web design experience.

Having a blog is not the same thing as having a website, although a blog can be equally effective if used properly. A blog acts more like a message board where the blogger can communicate whatever he or she wishes about a topic. The topic for an entrepreneur would be his or her business. It is important to blog within the scope of your business. Blogs can be used to communicate deals or events, post new job openings within your business or virtually anything in between so long as it’s business related.

Interact over social media

A social media account for your business is a step in the right direction, but is not an equal substitute to a website or a blog. Rather, a social media account should act as a way to attract people’s attention to your business and to steer them towards your website or blog. People cannot use your small business if they do not know it exists, and the same goes for your website. Posting on social media in tandem with a business website or blog can greatly improve your client base, although simply opening a Facebook or Twitter account will not suffice. You need to post and tweet continually!

Maximize social media effectiveness

Do you ever wonder how Facebook knows which posts to show on your homepage or which friends to suggest? It seems like this website understands your social network better than you do. That’s because social media websites track your activity using algorithms. Algorithms are essentially flowcharts that tell the social media program how to proceed when the user makes a specific choice. In turn, your preferences are tracked and the website knows which information to show you based on those preferences. Knowledge about social media algorithms can be used to increase the prominence of your businesses Internet presence. The name of the game is to make friends of your friends your friends.

The first rule of social media algorithms is to post frequently. By posting frequently, you open the doors for people to see your posts or tweets. Frequency of posting is important because old posts are less likely to turn up on users’ feeds because the priority of your post decays with time. In addition, when people see and like your posts, their friends may see your message and learn about your business.

Pro Tip**: When possible, insert videos and photos into posts or tweets. Photos and videos carry greater weight, or importance, in social media algorithms and are more likely to reach more people.

The second rule of mastering social media algorithms is to like posts and follow people. By liking posts and following other businesses and people, posts are more likely to appear on your feed, and as such, you will be able to comment on what is happening with your clientele. By interacting with more people, you increase the presence of your business in the community.

The third rule of mastering social media algorithms is to comment. By commenting on posts or tweets related to your community, your business and other businesses, potential customers are more likely to learn about your business.

When people visit your social media page, they should have the option to visit your webpage. This is the ultimate goal of social media. When people browse social media, their focus is divided between all their friends and every business that reaches them. Social media should be used as a pathway to direct traffic towards your website or blog, and not the reverse. When people visit your webpage, their sole focus is your business, which is the best way to gain a new customer.

 

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