What Is the Best Online Home Business for You?

Deciding to work at home to supplement your income or to replace your income requires some research. There are many options to work at home, but only one best online home business for you. Choices, choices where to start?

Consider the opportunity that appeals to you the most and one that you feel you can do well. However, before committing to any of these positions, do make sure to do your homework and sign up to work for a reputable company. Researching several companies will help you decide which company has the system that will make it the best online home business for you.

The first and most commonly thought of is data entry. Is it the best online home business for you?
• For this position your typing skills as far as accuracy better be wonderful. So if you are interested in this take time to brush up your skills. If your skills are good you can start quickly.
• Upside, easy to find reputable data entry companies. The work is generally steady and you can make own schedule. Pay days are on a schedule and the more you work the more you get paid.
• Down side, the work can be very monotonous; minimum wage is common so it would take lots of time to get financially ahead without investing a lot of work hours..

The second area to consider is telemarketing. Is this the best online home business for you?
• Many local companies hire folks to work from their call centers or from home to schedule in home demonstrations of their products or services. The pay rate is per appointment made and commission on resulting appointment, if any sales are made.
• Upside: generally steady work, flexible schedule, can work from home for a specific number of hours to make calls. The company provides you with a list of numbers to call and a script to use when talking to the potential customers..
• Downside again is pay rate which is usually minimal wage plus possible commission.

The third area to consider is product demonstration: This might be the best online home business for you. Home party sales e.g. Avon, Tupperware and many, many others. These companies may have company sponsored website to supplement the actual product demonstration.
• Upside: The face to face interaction and demonstrating the products for the parties may be lots of fun. You can make your own schedule. For example: evening parties will allow Dad to babysit the kids. With high sales and good hostess referrals you can be quite busy.
• Downside for face to face parties: You will need to purchase catalogs, sample products and travel to party location set up what you will demonstrate and then break down.
• For catalog parties you will need to purchase the catalogs. For both you will also, in most cases, have to receive the order yourself and then repack it and deliver it to your customers.
• Should the company have a sponsored web site, there are limits in what the company will allow you to do to promote the web site as you can not create additional key words for search or other individualization’s.
• To do more individualization online you need to purchase your own domain name, put up a web site explaining what you would like to focus on then link to the specific page on the company sponsored web site to make the sale.
• Pay rate is usually totally commission. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on how many parties you can book and how much the customers buy.

The fourth area to consider is perfect for the crafter: Might this be the best online home business for you? This would involve making crafts or other items for sale online [eBay & own web site]
• Upside: If you enjoy making things with your hands this would be lots of fun while making money.
• You will spend time making a lot of items taking pictures that best display them on e-bay and write advertisement.
• Down side is you need to make a LOT of items or outsource the construction of the craft which may be expensive.
• Outsourcing also may reduce your product quality control. You also have to do research to determine what item[s] are most likely to be big sellers.
• Pay rate will be commission after all fees and services are paid for.

The fifth area of working at home is virtual customer service: Hmm this one’s different, it might be the best online home business for you.
• This is similar pay rate as for those in office $8-15 per hour as these positions are usually attached to a big box store or an online store.
• Upside: You can work at home with a phone and a computer and make your own schedule.
• This is usually steady work so you can count on the pay check.
• The area of virtual customer service is rapidly growing field as companies are downsizing and outsourcing this valuable skill.
• Customer service can be rewarding to help people, but can be very stressful situations with really upset customers.
• Downside: Dealing with the public can be stressful.

The sixth area of working at home is tutoring: Or would this be the best online home business for you?
• Online tutor for regular class room materials or online skills [e.g "how to" help on instant message, file sharing, word, spread sheet creation etc.] is a growing field.
• Upside: You do not need a teaching certificate for many, but you will need a college degree.
• Pay rate is usually $10-15 per hour.
• Downside: The work may be sporadic e.g. less financial security and you must have expertise in a specific skill or course to market.

The seventh area to consider for working at home is writing: If you love writing this just might be the best online business for you.
• Copy-writing, resume writing, ad writing are a few areas..
• So you are a good writer and you want to profit by it.
• You will need to learn to market yourself with a web site, social marketing, professional journals and college/tech school newspapers or web sites.
• The pay for these will either be flat fee per item or an hourly rate usually $10-15 per hour.
• Upside: you can make your own schedule and focus your work on things that you enjoy doing and that you are good at doing.
• Downside: Being a good writer is not enough, you will need to sell yourself and set up marketing plan so people can find you and hire you.
• Work may be sporadic until you get to be well known or if you have a very small selective skill niche.

The eighth area to consider for working at home is web design. This would be the best online home business for a teckie.
• Have good technical skills? You can succeed and make some rather decent money.
• Upside: Can name own pay, within reason, and can make own schedule.
• Downside: When you design a site you may be responsible for it staying “up” and may have emergency calls about “down” issues or change issues.
• You will have to learn to market yourself so that you get any work.

The ninth area to consider for working at home is financial adviser: For a specialized and trained person this may best online home business.
• To succeed you would need to have specialized education and lots of liability insurance and most importantly a good track record of success.
• Upside: May be able to make own schedule.
• The best way to get a good track record of success may be to work for a company that allows its advisers to work off site.
• Downside: Even with risk disclaimers you can be sued.
• The real successful ones appear to be attached to brick & mortar company.
• The free lance financial adviser work is usually paid by percentage of profits.

The tenth area to consider for working at home is to work at your own current job from home. Hmm, the best online home business may be yours already.
• You may be lucky that your company is online and will permit telecommunication for meetings and online work.
• Congratulations, you have a job that is portable, but is it profitable? After all it’s still a job.
• Upside: You are familiar with the company and the work, and the pay rate is consistent.
• Downside: May have earnings ceiling, just like at the brick & mortar office.
• Your company may not have full time online work opportunity. Part of the week may still involve the commute to the office.

The eleventh area to consider for working at home is online marketing. This is my choice for the best online home business.
• A good company will have online training and mentoring support to assist you in gaining the skills you need to succeed.
• College degree not required.
• Earnest desire to learn and discipline to work independently required for the entrepreneur.
• There is an unlimited earning potential.
• Earnings will depend on your skills and your time not some artificial pay ceiling established by the company.

Building Your Business in 2012 on Rock Solid Foundations

Learning From the Three Little Pigs

In the tough current economic climate we are in today the story of the Three Little Pigs comes to mind.

It’s common in human nature to want to get to the top as quickly as possible with the minimum amount of effort and then to sit back and reap the rewards we hope will come our way. You know the sort of thing I mean, the big house, flash car and holidays abroad in the sun, that sort of thing.

The two pigs who built their house of straw and wood represent those who put minimum or little effort into the planning and building of their business and as a result ultimately fail when things get tough. The third, wise pig represents the person, who has a good sound business plan, takes their time and with hard work and effort survives economic downturns and difficult times to eventually succeed and enjoy for long sustained periods the fruit of their labours. This third pig knows there are no real short cuts to the top.

The rapid rise in small to medium size business enterprises (SME’s) over the last two decades is astonishing. If the business survives the first year it has got off to a good start.

Even if your business is a ‘one man band’ it is almost certain you will be using a computer in some way or other. Computers have become an essential tool for all businesses, whatever their size. There is simply no getting away from this fact. For example HMRC require that all VAT returns for 2010/11 are now completed online if businesses missed the October 2011 paper deadline.

Having the Right Tool

For the SME with upwards of 5 employees there is no doubt that one of the best IT tools on the market is Microsoft’s Small Business Server® 2011 (SBS 2011).

The hallmark of a ‘good tool’ is that it becomes invisible to the user. When I jump into my car to get from A to B, for the most part I am not conscious of the engine. I could get nowhere without it and the only time I really notice it, is when it’s playing up. I want the engine to work without me having to think about it.

Now before you think I have lost complete touch with reality in comparing the reliability of a good car to any computer system, the point I am making is that business owners need their vital computers and IT infrastructure to be the least of their concerns.

Why SBS 2011?

First off you get literally thousands of pounds worth of software bundled and combined into one product for a ‘snip of the price’ compared to the individual components, based on scalability. It has been specifically designed to give SME’s the sort of power and facilities that previously had only been available to corporate companies with a big purse.

Secondly SBS 2011 is the fourth generation of small business servers. Each generation has evolved with significant improvements on its predecessors. This latest product is head and shoulders above the fore runners, with reliability and remote working at its core.

SBS 2011 vs. Cloud Computing

There is no doubt about it Cloud computing is becoming a big word in IT. 2012 will no doubt see a big explosion in this technology, but before you think of switching your applications to The Cloud there are still some real concerns that have to be taken into account.

Security

Despite all the reassurances from providers of cloud technology, security is probably the number one concern. Do you remember how Sony® were embarrassed to wake up one morning last year and find that some of their customers details including credit card information had been published on the web?

Accessibility

Working in the Cloud could be the answer to keeping operating costs low, but what happens if the Internet is down, even for a few hours? At least if you lose the Internet connection in an office based server, you can continue processing accounts, documents, drawings etc. Blackberry® Servers went down last year causing major disruption for days if not weeks while they struggled to identify and rectify the problem.

I wrote in one of my newsletters last year that users of online email accounts woke up to find that their accounts had simply been ‘lost’ with no redress whatsoever.

Data Protection

In Cloud computing your data may be located anywhere in the world. Different countries have different regulations regarding data protection. In some cases it is a legal requirement that account information from one company is not stored alongside any others.

Disputes

What happens in the case of dispute? Can a supplier of Cloud services simply shut down access to your account?

Microsoft, who will no doubt be big players in Cloud technology have said:

‘……To add to this pressure, many small businesses are now looking toward cloud services, and what they may offer. However, this can add even more complexity and apprehension in adopting new technology…’ ( http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/Windows-Small-Business-Server/benefits.aspx )

Remote Access

One of the big advantages of SBS 2011 is Remote Access, which in all but name is Cloud Computing.

You can access your desktop computer from anywhere in the world and have full control. Your emails can be accessed and acted on remotely.

Backup

This feature has been completely overhauled providing a new disk based image technology which takes a fraction of the time to complete. In fact by default backup occurs twice a day. If the day comes when you have to rebuild your server from the backup then you have the option to restore to a whole new hardware platform, I have tried it and it works!

Upgrading from previous versions?

One of our polices is not to fix anything that is not broken! Although there are significant improvements on previous Microsoft® Small Business Server products there is no reason you should rush to change if your requirements are still being adequately met.

SBS 2011 The Three Little Pigs – The Moral

Ok what’s the connection? SBS 2011 does involve some cost both in terms of hardware platform, software licences and installation. That’s the hard work, effort and commitment that is required.

Without going into detail here’s a quick idea of cost:

Hardware platform equivalent to bricks: circa £1000.00 +VAT
SBS 2011 Standard including 5 user licence £595.00 +VAT
4 to 5 days labour costs: TBA

Once done however, you can expect the system to be robust, reliable and good for at least the next 5 years.

8 Steps To A Local Business Marketing Strategy

Local businesses often have difficulty organizing a marketing plan. Many local businesses don’t even have a marketing plan!

It doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are eight things a small or local business owner can start doing today that will develop their business.

1. Organize your marketing materials. You’ll need a website, folders that match, and a “company overview” sales sheet. That’s it. The folder will hold the sales sheet and your proposals. It will all match. You can get a local designer to put together a package like this very inexpensively.

2. Get your website fixed up. So many websites are just plain broken. Getting your site found in search engines will yield new customers. To start, get your on-page Search Engine Optimization set up. Here, you will be going to each page of your website and adding relevant keywords to each of five key areas: Title tag, meta description tag, header tag (aka h1), your body copy, and in the ALT text. There is a tremendous amount of information about each of these items to be found online, if you are unsure what these elements are. Remember, each page should have unique keywords associated with it.

3. Use Online Advertising. Setting up a Pay Per Click account is not hard. Either hire a company like Reach Local to handle everything, or do it yourself and save money. If you launch a Google Advertising (Called Google AdWords), please spend the $49 bucks and buy the Definitive Guide To Google AdWords. This is the best couple of bucks you will ever spend to educate yourself on marketing.

4. Use Flyer Delivery. Get a large postcard sized marketing piece designed (my designer charges about $150 to do this). Once designed, get about 5000 copies made. This will cost you about $300-$400 for the print job. Hire a flyer delivery service to drop them on doorsteps in your target market area. In northern Virginia the costs for flyer delivery are between $25 and $50 per thousand. For most home service companies and local businesses, I would ALWAYS have this happening.

5. Local NewsPaper – if you have extra budget. Most local papers will charge between $100 and $400 for a ¼ page advertisement. Having your business seen by local readers month in and month out will help with your name recognition, your credibility and ultimately to your reputation and success.

6. Develop partnerships. Contact the businesses right near yours and see if you can swap customers. Don’t waste your time leaving a stack of cards by their reception desk. I’m talking about real partnerships. If you’re a Chiropractor, get together with the massage therapist and send a joint email with a joint offer: Buy a package of 6 massages, get 50% off your adjustment. Then, have the massage therapist give you 10% of every new sale. It’s a win win. Get creative with this. Spend 1 hour every week on contacting or meeting with potential local business development partners.

7. Hold Seminars. It doesn’t matter if you’re a landscape architect or an Occuloplastic Surgeon. Arrange for a conference room somewhere. It could even be off-site, at a neighborhood community room. Invite a neighborhood to hear your 1-hour presentation about how to care for your lawn in the Spring. Or invite your existing patients to a seminar about Eyelid Laser Surgery. If you get people into a room and provide great value for 90 minutes, they will be much more likely to buy from you. Shoot for one seminar per quarter.

8. Go to Networking Events. Networking works. Do your best to get to at least one (1) networking event per month. BNI, Chamber of Commerce, SBA, there are dozens of networking groups in every town in the country. Start with your local Chamber of Commerce. Join the chamber and start participating, again at least once per month.

With these items completed, you will be well on your way to making a success of your local business.