Category Archives: Decide and Plan for a Small Business

The first step to starting a small business is to decide on an idea and create a plan.

Entrepreneurship Ideas

Entrepreneurship: Should You Quit Your 9-5?

Do you have to quit your job in order to become an entrepreneur? The 40-50-80 theory will help you put things into the right perspective.

If you survey a group of would-be entrepreneurs on what holds them back from starting their own businesses, one of the most common reasons is lack of time. They already work a full-time job, so they don’t think it’s possible to pursue entrepreneurship unless they quit their jobs.

I think a bit of reframing is necessary to dispel this myth that in order to start your own business you have to quit your job first.

So here is my 40-50-80 theory. It says that if you work 40 hours a week, and sleep about 50 hours per week (7 hours per day), you still have roughly 80 hours left in a week left to yourself. Let’s call it YOU TIME. Some of your you time will be spent eating, cooking, running errands and doing other necessary duties, but that still leaves plenty of hours to pursue your entrepreneurial goals.

Entrepreneurship Ideas

80 hours. That’s DOUBLE the average number of hours you spend at a standard 9-5 job. So no, it’s not necessary to quit your job in order to start your own business and pursue entrepreneurship.

Your Current 80 Hours

How do you currently spend the majority of those non-working, non-sleeping 80 hours in a week?

How many hours out of those 80 do you spend watching television?

Playing video or cellphone games?

Going to parties or buying entertainment on the weekends?

Tweeting or reading social media sites?

There’s definitely nothing wrong with some play time, but you have to ask yourself if using the majority of those 80 hours for playtime at this time in your life is the best idea. OR do you make some sacrifices now so that you can play more later (with more cash and freedom).

How to Best Invest Those 80 Hours

Now that you’ve reframed your week a bit, here are some suggestions for how to use those other 80 hours in your week.

– Start writing your business plan outline.

– Listen to motivational and educational audiobooks written by great business minds like Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell and Brian Tracy.



– Spend time practicing your talent, whether it’s art, music, writing screenplays, crafting jewelry, creating designs, speaking or serving customers. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that people who spend 10,000 hours on their talent will MASTER it, so every single hour counts.

– Schedule weekly lunches with a potential business mentor (on you of course).

Join Toastmasters in your area or a similar skill building group and attend at least twice per month.

– Start building social media accounts that are only to be used for business purposes.

– Start building a small, modest yet professional business website where interested parties can contact you.

– Create a money plan and budget that will allow you to invest a portion of your monthly check into your entrepreneurial activities.

These are just a few examples of how you can spend those 80 hours. Start off by investing about an hour or two per day into the things that you really love that could make you a profit, and you’ll probably start to look forward to getting off of work so that you can invest even more time into those things.

In fact, if you put a microscope to your average day, you’ll probably find blocks of time when you can focus on your plans. For instance, if you take a train to work, how long do you spend sitting and looking out of the window each day (back and forth)? What about your down time when waiting for your bacon to fry or egg to boil? Pull out a tablet or an actual pad of paper and start writing down notes and ideas — if only for a few minutes.

Everyone Has Potential But…

I am a firm believer that everyone has a special skill or talent that would make them a good living if they invested time and effort into it. At the very least you can make a side residual income that will be a part of your personal retirement plan for a lifetime and beyond.

BUT not everyone truly WANTS to be an entrepreneur. And that’s okay. If that’s you, then no amount of motivation can make you change the way you use your 80 hours.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who definitely wants to pursue entrepreneurship but just feels a little “stuck,” you have to be willing to put your all into it—that means making some sacrifices and embracing change. Just a small shift in your daily or weekly habits can put you on the road to being a successful working entrepreneur or solopreneur.

The 40-50-80 theory doesn’t apply to everyone—at least not those specific ratios. Your work week, chores and sleeping schedule may be more complex than the traditional 40 hour-work week (especially if you have kids).

But even if your schedule is more demanding than the average 9-5 lifestyle, you can dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour per day to starting a small business and pursuing entrepreneurship. As you will see in the coming years, now is the best time to get your feet wet in the pool of people who choose to create an income stream for themselves.

Louise Gaillard

Louise is a prolific writer, social media manager and marketing consultant.



Running a Consignment Business

This is a discussion regarding consignment businesses–types of consignment businesses, advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities.

There is a good chance that you have patronized at least one consignment business in your life. Consignment businesses are stores that sell items that they have not yet paid for. The store owners contract with suppliers (usually small business people in the area) to display products in the store for sale to the public. The supplier is only paid if and when the store sells an item to a customer.

Advantages of a Consignment Arrangement

The advantages of consignment arrangements are mostly one sided in favor of the consignment shop. Consignment businesses can display and sell items without ever having to make an upfront investment related to stock; they only pay rent and overhead. Consignment business owners are basically go-betweens, connecting artists and small manufacturers with the public. The most popular consignment shops you will find usually sell artwork, clothing, and other small trinkets.

The plus for consignment shop suppliers is that they finally have a venue to distribute their products. This is an ideal situation for business people who do not have a storefront, such as a furniture maker who manufactures products from home or an individual looking to unload used items of value.

Challenges and Payment Concerns

The process of setting up a consignment arrangement seems pretty basic, but there are some downsides and challenges. The biggest issue that consignment businesses have to manage is how to pay their suppliers once the products are sold.

The shop and supplier will agree upon a fair split, usually about 60/40 in favor of the supplier/artist. A meticulous consignment shop owner will call a supplier immediately after an item is sold to tell him to come pick up his check. This makes for better accounting and is a common practice for consignment businesses who work with more expensive items, such as artwork.

On the other hand, many consignment shop owners are not as consistent with their bookkeeping and won’t call their suppliers regarding payment. Instead, the supplier will have to call constantly to check on her products. This process can create potential problems for both sides.

For one, there is an increased possibility that there will be discrepancies and disagreements between the shop owner and the supplier as time goes along. Suppliers can become increasingly mistrustful of the shop owner when they go months and even years without receiving proper payment. It is also sometimes difficult to end a consignment arrangement.

For a consignment business, the customers are number one, but the suppliers are a very close second, so the best practice when operating a consignment shop is to maintain very regular communications with suppliers and pay them promptly.

Online Consignment Businesses

With the growth of the wildly popular web auction site Ebay, there has been an explosion in online consignment businesses, sometimes called drop off stores. Many brick and mortar consignment shops are set up with the sole intention of selling the products people bring in on Ebay and other online sites. The overhead costs are minimal and online consignment shop owners can sell the consigned items from the comfort of their home offices.

Are Consignment Businesses Viable?

It seems that nowadays, due to increasing costs across the board, setting up a consignment business is only practical when the sales are being made online. More and more customers are choosing to forgo the physical shopping experience and buy their items online to find the best deals possible. In addition, rents in popular shopping districts are sometimes prohibitive for new business owners.

If you are thinking about starting your own consignment business and want to learn more about the advantages and challenges, the best thing you can do is gather as much information as possible from existing business owners.

Ask your local shop owners about their business model and browse online forums to read what other online and brick and mortar consignment business owners are experiencing. Setting up a consignment shop may seem easy, but just as with any other business idea, you need to be 100% positive that you’re fit for the task.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Advice for Starting a Real Estate Business

Downward trends in the housing market between 2007 and 2009 caused real estate professionals to become concerned about the future of the industry. However, since real estate is a necessity for most, like food and water, some small business owners still choose to enter this industry.

Wooden house
© Josefuente | Dreamstime Stock Photos

If you’re interested in starting a real estate business as your small business idea, do a thorough analysis of the real estate industry first to prepare yourself for the various challenges you may face as well as potential opportunities.

Types of Real Estate Businesses

You have a few different options for starting up a real estate business. Some people start as real estate investors or “flippers.” A real estate investor purchases properties with the intention of fixing them up and reselling them (or becoming a landlord) at a profit. You can also establish your own real estate agency (franchise, independent operation, or partnership), which requires a real estate license and training. Real estate mortgage brokers (professionals who work with big lenders) and construction professionals are also important role-players in the real estate business.

Home Prices and Home Sales

According to a 2009 study by Altos Research home prices dropped in 20 major U.S. cities, which in turn helped increase demand for homes. Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research confirmed this trend saying, “The percent of homes on the market with price reductions is a really insightful indicator of organic levels of demand.”

Despite unfavorable economic news regarding the real estate market in 2008 and 2009, including an increase in foreclosures and home debts that exceed the value, Plunkett Research estimates that existing home sales increased from 4.69 million in 2009 to 5.02 million in 2010.

This news is an indication that someone going into the real estate business post-2009 will likely have plenty of opportunities to make money. An increase in home sales and demand is good news for everyone in the real estate business, from investors and to brokers.

Trends in the Real Estate Business

Plunkett Research reveals that the popularity of the Internet will likely change the real estate industry significantly. Traditional residential brokers may not be able to compete with internet-based real estate operations. This puts a spotlight on the importance of establishing an internet presence as a real estate business owner, including social media and web blogs. Plunkett also recognizes a trend in “green” (environmentally friendly) buildings and smaller homes as opposed to “McMansions.” These are all important points to consider as you navigate any level of the real estate business, from construction to selling.

Innovative Solutions

When the real estate business is slow, as it was after the housing market crashed in 2007, small business owners sometimes find success through creativity. For instance, Kevin Lisota and Shannon Ressler of Findwell, an online real estate company, found success by holding seminars and taking advantage of social networking websites. In an article published in the Puget Sound Business Journal Ressler states, “We’re finding that giving away free advice is working for us.”

If you’re interested in starting a real estate business, it’s crucial that you stay updated on the various trends and news about the industry to ensure long-term success. Subscribe to real estate newsletters, journals and magazines. Also, follow plenty of other real estate entrepreneurs on social media, including Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn, to stay in the loop and always be prepared for new opportunities.

 

Sources:

msnbc.msn.com/id/32970895/ns/business-forbescom/

plunkettresearch.com/Industries/RealEstateConstruction/RealEstateConstructionStatistics/tabid/278/Default.aspx

businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100519007025&newsLang=en

seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2009/02/16/smallb2.html

work.com/starting-a-real-estate-business-742/

 



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

3 Ways to Sell Shoes Online

If you have shoes that you want to sell, whether they’re used or new, online outlets make it easier to advertise and sell your wares.

If you are a shoe fanatic looking for a low-maintenance way to make money online, consider combining your two interests. Sell shoes online for a profit as a small business idea. You choose the latest styles to feature and push your fashion ideas to the public while making money. When you decide to sell shoes online, you have a number of options to choose from to accomplish your goal.

Sell Shoes Online Using Amazon Services

Sign up as a professional seller with Amazon Services. This program allows you to sell your shoes on the popular Amazon website. You will either pay a per-item fee (small individual sellers) or a monthly service charge to keep your account open (professional sellers) in addition to a few other expenses. You can establish and design your own seller store where customers can view your shoe catalog. Amazon is an ideal way to get your small online shoe store exposure fairly quickly because of the millions of visitors to this website. Choose between a monthly plan or a per sale arrangement to get your Amazon shoe store started.

Sell Shoes Online on eBay

Set up an account on eBay.com as an alternative. eBay is an ideal choice for someone who wants to start off small to test the waters with a few pairs of shoes, gauge demand, then grow by posting more shoe styles. You’ll pay a per-listing fee for each item you want to sell. Enter information about the color and style of each shoe you are selling. If you are selling a “lot” of the same style of shoes, select the “Fixed Price” option on the “Sell Your Item” wizard. Set the duration of the eBay listing for as long as possible (at least 30 days) to allow plenty of time for shoe lovers to find and browse your collection.

Sell Shoes Online by Creating Your Own Website

Create your own web store to sell shoes online. Sign up for a web-hosting service that has a “web store” feature and start adding shoe pictures and descriptions as well as available sizes and colors to your product catalog. If you don’t want to apply for an internet merchant account, you can sign up for a business account with PayPal to accept payments from customers. PayPal also allows you to set up an online store without any additional monthly fees. Keep in mind that this option requires a lot more work than selling on an established website. You have to generate traffic to your website, design the site from scratch and develop a reputation with customers all on your own.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

A “Crazy” Idea: Instead of College Loans, Fund an 18 Year Old’s Small Business Idea

I received a tweet from Forbes magazine today that says the United States is now $1.2 trillion in tuition debt. People are taking out college loans for students at an alarming rate.

In light of these startling stats, I think it’s time we got off of the “gotta go to college at 18” train for a moment and start seriously considering alternative ideas .

Parents in Debt

Pocket Watch And Five Dollar Bills
© Alan Crosthwaite | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Parents are going into serious debt to help fund their kids’ college education. Many of them still have this debt at age 50, 60, 70 and beyond. Some of them are literally *dying* burdened with this debt.

Then the cycle continues with their children, who also find themselves in debt with private and public loans. When their kids’ kids reach 18 they will also feel the pressure to take out tuition loans. Then those kids will have to go through life with this great burden. And so on and so forth.

I believe the main source of this grief is colleges, who keep increasing their tuition costs year after year because they know how easy it is for parents and students to get these college loans. They should be ashamed at how they are sucking families dry, but as corporations they are mostly concerned with making their shareholders as wealthy as possible, so they’re not ashamed one bit.

The only real answer is for the general public to get off that merry-go-round ride that tells us we have to do whatever possible to send kids to college at the age of 18.

A New Idea (“Crazy” Talk)
So here’s a new “crazy” idea for parents to consider for their 18-year olds:

– Save as much money as you can from the time your child is a baby if possible. Even if you put just $30 per month into a savings fund earning 6% per year your child can have at least $12,000 saved in an account by the time she’s 18.

– Enroll your 14-year-old child into a local or nearby entrepreneur school or take him to an SBDC center to learn about entrepreneurship. Ensure that the child attends classes at least once every month up until he is 18 and starts running a business by 16.

– At age 18 give the child a choice: 1) take the money you have saved to put toward a college education 2) put it toward his business or 3) put half toward starting a small business and the other half toward going to college in the near future.

– Encourage, promote and fund self-education for your child (books, audiobooks, courses) while she’s in high school about her industry of interest, marketing, sales and general self-improvement concepts.

– If the child chooses option 2 or 3, encourage and assist her with growing her small business so that in 2-3 years she is making enough income from it (still living with you) to afford to pay for her college education. Every dollar of profit she earns from running her business should go toward a fund to help pay for her education.

– After 3 years has passed, the child can still enroll in college if she chooses. She may even decide at that point that college isn’t that important because of the success of her small business, which she can run and maintain for as long as she wishes.

Here are the benefits of this “crazy” idea:

– You teach your child from a young age about entrepreneurship. You also teach her from age 14 that going to college at 18 doesn’t have to be her only choice for success.

– You teach your child from a young age that she doesn’t have to go along with the “crowd” (all you have to do is show her what the “crowd” is doing when they’re 40,50, and 60 years old and still knee-deep in debt).

– Your child still has the option to go to college if he wants, if only for having a chance to live the “college experience.”

– You jump-start your child’s future, giving her a real shot at becoming a millionaire instead of limiting her mind to being happy with a $35,000 per year 40 hour, 9-5 job for the rest of her life.

– You give your child the opportunity to avoid being burdened by large amounts of debt at a young age

– YOU avoid being in debt with college loans for your child until you’re 100

Also, if enough people were to take this or a similar route for educating 18-year-old kids, colleges would eventually be forced to reduce or plateau their tuition costs just to stay in business.

College Loans for Students – Something to Think About
This may not be a perfect alternative for every case, but it’s something to think about, right?

Remember that high school education is a necessity but a college education is not (unless your child is determined to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer). Ask Bill Gates and most of the country’s self-made millionaires.

Parents of today who have already taken out college loans for students may have to deal with this great tuition crisis, but we can start making changes today so that young children don’t have to go through the same situation. Giving your child an education in how to be financially independent and run his own business is just as valuable if not more than a basic college education.

 

Louise Gaillard is a prolific writer, marketing consultant, small biz owner and author.

 



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

Your Small Business Website: Planning Tips

The purpose of a small business website is to increase sales, leads and exposure to your brand. It’s also a way to inform prospective buyers and clients about your products and services so that they can make an educated buying decision. But your website has to be planned and executed correctly in order to be effective. Here are some tips for planning and developing your website.

Picking the Right Domain Name

The first detail to consider when you’re planning to create a small business website is the domain name you will choose. This is not a small matter — this is the name that people will come to recognize you by over time. Here are a few tips for picking the right domain name:

  • Use your company name for the domain name (i.e. HomeDepot.com or Forbes.com) if this website will be used mainly to establish and build your brand.
  • Use a name that describes what you do (FlowersandVeggies.com) if your main goal is to increase web traffic from search engines.
  • Do keyword research to find out what your target audience is searching for online when they want what you sell, then try to incorporate that word or phrase into your domain name.
  • Keep your domain name as short and catchy as possible so that it’s easy to remember.
  • Use simple, everyday terms in your domain name; words that an 8th grader would understand.
  • Stick with a dot com or dot net domain name whenever possible (maybe dot biz); most people trust clicking to a “com” or “net” address over the others.

Will Your Website Be Information-Rich or Action-Oriented?

Some business websites are designed to educate the consumer and provide extensive guidance or advice on a subject while others are meant to inspire quick action (a sale or a sign up). Decide which method best fits what you’re trying to sell because it will have an effect on how you build the site (the approach to designing and planning your site is also called “website architecture”).

Choosing a Design Platform

Once you know the general style and focus for your website, the next step is to decide which tool or program you will use to create it. Here are a few of the most popular methods:

–          HTML text editor. This is the most basic yet time-consuming way to create a website. You would use Notepad or a similar text editor program to manually type in HTML, PHP, JavaScript and other code to develop the website. Heavy website coding skills and knowledge are needed.

–          Web-based multiple page website builder. A number of online website building services give you web-based tools that you can use from your browser to put a multiple page site together using drag and drop features.

–          Web-based one-page website builder. This is a fairly new way to create a small business website. It is a web-based tool that also has “drag and drop” and “type and save” functionality, but it creates a dynamic and responsive one-pager site. All this means is that the entire website, including specific sections, is on one scrollable page that’s mobile-friendly. This is best for a modern, action-oriented website.

–         Standalone Software. There are standalone web design software programs that you can use to build a basic multi-page or mobile-friendly website. You should be at least moderately familiar with HTML and web design.

–          WordPress.org (or WordPress.com). If you’re planning to create an information-rich small business website with plenty of content (namely blog posts) posted over time, a WordPress site may be your best bet. It allows you to set up your site design using a free or paid WordPress template, then post blog updates whenever you want. You can also add new pages to your site that have the same design with just a few clicks. With WordPress.org you host the files on your own server (maintaining total control; flexibility) and with WordPress.com they are hosted by WordPress (limited control and options).

If you are not familiar with how to use these tools to create a website and would rather focus your time on other matters, hire someone who does. A designer will also be able to provide more guidance on what tool is best for creating your small business website.

Your Content Plan

Once your small business website is up and running you will quickly realize that you need content — a whole lot of it — on a regular basis. The more high quality, search engine optimized content you post to your website (namely the blog), the higher its chance of being picked up by search engines. One statistic shows that companies who blog get 55% more web traffic. So if there’s an investment you definitely want to make in your website, it should be in writing content yourself or buying content from skilled writers.

Planning your small business website will take some time, but that’s okay — it’s best to take your time to ensure that it’s right. Once your site is finally up and running you can focus your attention on other details, like how to funnel more traffic to your site using social media, ads and promotions.

 

Louise Gaillard is a professional writer, marketing consultant and the author of Easy Twitter Marketing Tips for Business Success.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

3 Tips to Win As a Real Estate Investor

Going into the real estate business as an investor definitely is no piece of cake—it takes an immense amount of patience and hard work to find success. You need three important skills to win as a real estate investor: a business plan, a bold attitude, and a reliable source of information that the general public doesn’t know about happenings in the real estate market.

Wooden house
© Josefuente | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Business Plan

Before you make any move that requires a financial investment or contractual commitment on your part, draw up a business plan that outlines all of your intentions. Start with your goals—what do you wish to accomplish in the next three to five years? How do you plan to achieve those goals? What kind of budget do you have and how do you plan to raise the needed funds to buy properties? Get it all down on paper before you start making decisions and signing agreements.

A Bold Attitude

When working as a real estate investor, you are going to have to deal with a number of different parties including contractors, agents and potential renters or buyers. You definitely can’t be afraid to boldly request what you need and want from them if you are to do business.

If you plan to pursue a career in real estate investing, you can’t be a person who is afraid to say “no” or who cares too much about what people will think of you if you challenge them. What matters first and foremost is that you get things accomplished in the most economical and efficient manner possible so that it’s consistent with your business plan. Contractors and carpenters will try to put you on the backburner and charge you for unexpected extras. Agents will try to convince you to agree to terms that may not vibe with your business plan. Potential renters will try to get away with not paying you rent if you let them. Be bold and set your foot down early on to let these different parties know that you mean business. When you find service providers who are reliable and efficient, value them and treat them right.

Inside Information

Many people jump into real estate investing without doing any research. Before you buy your first property, pick up a library of books on the subject. This will teach you what other first-timers have learned so that you can avoid making the same mistakes that they did. Next, invest in journals and subscriptions that will update you on what’s going on in the real estate market in your area before the average man on the street. For instance, you should know in advance if a new major business is planning to build in an area that might attract higher rents or home values in the future.

Also, find a mentor if you can (you might be able to find one using the SBA’s database). Find someone who has experience in real estate investing so that he can provide you with insight into the business. However, be sure that you pick a mentor that is respectable and has good character.

If you want to win as a real estate investor, you have to be willing to invest time and planning as well as money into your venture. Stay positive and on top of new developments in the real estate market if you want to find success buying and selling or renting properties.



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.

The Real Barriers to Starting a Successful Small Business

I’ve lost count of the number of people I know or have met who have a major talent that they could “bottle up and sell.” 90 percent of the time they are also very unhappy in their current jobs.

Business Woman
© Dnadigital | Dreamstime Stock Photos

“Why not start your own side or small business?” I ask.

Here are the most common answers I receive:

– I don’t have the money to invest
– My job takes up too much of my time / too tired
– I don’t know how or where to start

But I have a theory.

The real reasons behind why most people don’t start up a small business are:

– lack of motivation
– lack of inspiration
– lack of knowledge (self-education)

Somewhere along the way you got the idea that the only way you could ever make money is to work for another person. Maybe it was your family pushing you toward a particular “way” of living life. Maybe it was college indoctrination where you and your peers are taught to compete for the best jobs. Maybe it’s just a limiting belief that you have about your skills, talents and ability to make or manage money.

But the truth is that anyone can start a successful small business — even if it’s just something you do on the side for the time being. It’s about offering value to the world — when you do that consistently and reliably they give you value in return.

Here’s what you really need to get started:
– the Knowledge/Know-how (self-educating yourself on the type of business you’d like to run, marketing, communication, how to use technology like social media to your advantage)

Inspiration (the idea, the innovation, the thing that gives you butterflies when you think about it)

Motivation (a push in the right direction)

K.I.M. for short. Keep it moving.

So this start up a small business website is mainly targeted at resolving those three barriers to starting a successful small business.

You have the basic steps outlined, conveniently to the left (see that nice little menu over there?) — that list alone can help you start forming your business plan. But you also need help with motivation, inspiration and self-education to start your own successful small business.

So subscribe to our posts below or sign up for the email list for updates, advice and tips.

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About the Author:

Louise Gaillard is a prolific writer, marketing consultant and author writing about small business, marketing and social media success.

Tips for Selling Your Services Online

In order to successfully sell your services online, you must have a few skills. The first is a reliable system for finding good clients and making it easy for them to find you online. Second is the ability to communicate fluidly and consistently—even if it is only via email messages. You must develop a rapport with your clients that lasts from the start of the project right up until the end. Thirdly, you must demonstrate that you are a true and trusted expert at the service that you plan to provide. Finally, you must have great organizational skills, as you will often find yourself juggling multiple clients and projects at the same time. Here are a few simple tips for success if you plan to sell your professional services online.

Provide Contact Information to Gain Trust

When you sell your services online, trust is a major issue. Potential clients need to be assured that you are a legitimate business person before they send you money and it is customary to ask for a deposit before work begins on a service project. One way to reassure your client that you are trustworthy is to provide as much contact information and details about your business as possible. Get an 800 number for your business—some toll-free services even allow you to pick a local number. Provide a business address as well, even if it is just a post office box (some offices now allow you to use the post office’s full mailing address along with your box number) or a rented office address where you can receive mail.

Always Lay Out Terms in Writing

One common challenge that you may experience when selling your services online is managing confusion regarding your terms after the project begins. Some service providers figure that it’s such a small job that a contract or discussion isn’t really necessary, but that can turn into hours of unpaid work. Avoid this issue by making it a point to outline your general terms on your website for all to view. Go over the specific terms of your service project in an email so that you both are clear before you proceed and outline them all in a clear-cut contract. In some cases, the email itself can serve as a contract for a very small project. Some clients like to finalize things over the phone, but this is tricky because there’s no proof of your agreement. Get everything in writing.

Provide As Many Samples and Testimonials as Possible

When a potential client is deciding whether you are the right service professional for his needs, he’ll want to know if and how you’ve helped other clients in the past. If you’ve successfully completed projects in the past, contact your past clients to ask for a review of your services along with permission to publish their comments.

Selling your services online is not a simple feat and comes with its share of challenges. But you’ll find success if you set forth a clear-cut process for attracting, accepting and servicing clients.



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Tips for Working as an Independent Contractor

An independent contractor is a professional who often acts in the capacity of an employee to a business, but without the strings attached. As a contractor you may work with multiple clients on very different assignments. The way you market your services, manage your time and choose your clients are all key to success in this type of job.

Market Your Services

Consistently finding clients who need your services is one of the most difficult challenges of working as an independent contractor. The ideal scenario is to have multiple projects going at any given time to ensure a consistent income. Put your virtual business card down in as many different reputable places as possible. Set up a profile on the major reputable freelance sites. Send bids to businesses who request contractors online. Create an SEO-optimized website to draw traffic for keywords that specifically describe your service. Consider hiring an online advertising expert to help you use Google AdWords and other advertising vehicles to bring in serious potential clients.

Set a Reasonable Schedule

It is very easy to find yourself working well into the night as an independent contractor. After you spend a long night burning the midnight oil, you finally go to sleep at 4:00 a.m., then your client on the other side of the country calls at 7:00 a.m. To avoid this scenario, you must set firm business hours that clearly indicate time zones and make sure that all of your clients know them. Request that clients email you in advance to set an appointment for a phone call or instant messaging session so that you aren’t thrown off of your schedule with other clients.

Be Choosy

As excited as you may be to have a potential new client, sometimes it is best to pass on certain projects. Evaluate the client the same way he is evaluating you. Are his demands reasonable? Does he communicate with you in a productive and respectful manner? Does he complain about past contractors? If you ignore warning signs you might be setting yourself up for issues down the line. Work for people who have plenty of experience working successfully with independent contractors, and who communicate their needs clearly.

It takes time to get the hang of working as an independent contractor. Ideally, over time you will learn how to successfully navigate different personalities and situations. If you need help, talk to more experienced contractors and read their blogs to learn how they manage client relationships.

 



Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.