Social Media Advantages and Disadvantages in Business

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Using social media for your business has its advantages in cost-effective advertising and reaching new customers, but it can also take away resources and productivity as you dedicate time to your online presence. Managing a successful social media campaign can yield great results, but it takes a lot of time to build a following and manage your profiles, especially with no certainty of seeing a return. Weigh the pros and cons to see if dedicating so much time to social media is right for your business.

Cheap, Targeted Advertising

  • Social networks provide a cheap way to advertise your business and spread its name. Some networks offer paid advertising options, but they aren’t mandatory for people to find your page if you use appropriate keywords and maintain an active, consistent presence. If you do opt for paid advertising, you can choose very specific demographic options; your ads will only be shown to the demographics you specify, so you can show your ads only to people who are most likely to be customers. Most ad campaigns will only charge you if someone has clicked your ad, meaning you won’t lose money by showing your ads to people who aren’t interested.

Increased Exposure and Personality

  • Business advertising only goes so far offline or by using banner ads. Posts on social networks are easy to share, so your followers can quickly and efficiently spread any news you post. Maintaining a social network presence also helps make your business a little more personable. Talking with your followers and customers — as well as any newcomers who discover you through word of mouth or have questions — helps you seem accessible and even fun. An online presence helps you avoid looking like a faceless entity; consumers enjoy a little personality, and it can help solidify their loyalty as well as convince potential buyers to choose you over competitors.

Risks of Dedication

  • Using social media isn’t as simple as starting a Facebook page and checking on it every few hours. It takes time to learn how to properly use each network you start using, build a following, post consistent updates and interact with your followers. Monitoring and using social media well takes a lot of time and dedication to the point where it may detract from other duties. There is also no absolute guarantee of success, so you may not see a return on the investment of time you have put into setting up accounts.

Productivity and Reputation

  • The availability of social networks may be a distraction for some employees, and it could affect their productivity if they are too focused on online profiles and comments. There is also a certain risk when giving control of company social networks to employees, as much of your business’s reputation rests on what is posted on your social networks. Mistakes are instantly noticed and hard to take back, and the speed of social media makes it difficult to discuss all content being posted without taking away serious time from your other priorities.

How to Get a Small Business Loan

Small business loans fall into one of two types –– asset-based and factoring financing. Each loan requires different documentation and has different requirements, allowing you to choose the one that works best to keep your business going.

Decide on Loan Type

  • Asset-based loans are similar to traditional loans and require extensive documentation to show both that you are personally credit-worthy and that your business can keep up with the payment plan. Many financial institutions use the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) Loan Program to guarantee asset-based loan so there’s less risk to the lender.

    If you just need short-term funding, consider a factoring loan, sometimes referred to as accounts receivable financing to cover a cash shortage. Factoring involves selling your accounts receivables to get a short-term loan. You’ll get less than the balances owed, with the specific amount dependent on your industry and the perceived risk that any of the debts will go unpaid.

Qualifications

  • Qualifying for an asset-based loan generally requires a credit score that’s in the 700 to 800 range and up, according to Forbes. You may still qualify with a score in the 650-700 range. If you’ve been in business for at least a couple of years and can show a strong history of sales as well as reliable cash flow, you’re more likely to get the loan than a startup. You’re also more likely to get a loan if you have collateral with which to secure the loan, such as equity in real estate or an investment portfolio.

    The bank requires fewer qualifications for a factoring loan. As long as you’ve set up your business properly and have a history of positive cash flow, you likely qualify.

Documentation Required

  • Develop a full business plan for asset-based loans. The plan explains your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, also known as a SWOT analysis. Describe how your background and education help you run the business. Add financial data, including profit and loss statements for the past three years, if available. Include cash flow statements, a current balance sheet and three years of personal tax returns. Use the executive summary of your business plan to explain why you need the money and to tell your company’s unique story so the lender understands where your business is headed.

    For factoring loans, you need an accounts receivables report that shows invoices for the past 90 days. Plan to complete an invoice factoring application and include business documentation that shows your company is set up with the proper government agencies, such as state and federal tax authorities.

Poor Credit Issues

  • Without a strong credit rating, your chances of getting an asset-based loan are greatly diminished. The SBA recommends providing additional documentation as part of your business plan if your credit score is weak or you have experienced bankruptcy. For instance, include bank deposits that show you make regular ongoing deposits and have positive cash flow. Another option is to find a credit partner who has a preferable credit score who is willing to co-sign for the loan.

Social Media Marketing and Strategy

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Social media marketing strategies play a vital role in any successful online branding campaign. Social media is free to implement, but requires time to monitor and deploy. Be sure you have the staff or time to devote to monitoring the messages, conversations and engagement that occurs on social media.

Target Market User Habits

  • The first element in your social media marketing strategy is to understand the target audience you are trying to reach. You need to know both who your target audience is and how they use the Internet. The social media habits of a retired golfer are drastically different than the habits of a young suburban mother. Your message and your platform must speak directly to your audience to capture their attention. Combining various platforms — such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook — is vital for a professional photographer, but not necessary for the local ice cream shop owner. Hang out online where your target audience spends their time and observe their interactions prior to engaging them in conversation.

Provide Solutions for Potential Customers

  • One of the best methods for building an audience of potential customers or readers is to provide a solution to a problem associated with your business. Merge a blog populated with solutions and information, a Twitter account that engages in conversations that educate and a Facebook page that brings new users to your sites to build a solid social media platform. Engage with customers through Twitter and Facebook by asking and answering questions directly, regardless of whether or not they are related to your product. Valuable content helps portray you in a positive manner as an expert in your field and contributes positive information to your Internet community.

Converting Visitors to Customers

  • Visitors to your social media platforms are more likely to convert to customers or loyal readers if you make a personal connection and allow them to interact directly with you. Include your purchasing options or subscription forms on your homepage and link this to all your social media accounts. Capture people’s attention with your informative content, gather their email address on a mailing list and provide valuable reasons for them to return and purchase your services.

Using Transparency and Responsiveness

  • Transparency is vital when engaging with people in the social media space. Spam radars are very strong in people who use social media regularly, and simply sending them marketing and promotional messages will turn people away from your platforms. Be genuine and authentic when engaging with people in social media, just as you would treat a customer or friend in a store or social setting. If someone posts negative comments about your product or service, respond immediately and professionally and work to fix the problem, regardless of who is at fault. Such quick responsiveness shows other potential customers you care about your customers and their user experience. Use various search and monitoring functions, such as www.Search.Twitter.com and Google Alerts, to help monitor your name or your company on a regular basis.

How to Apply for Bailout Money for a Small Business

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The federal government has provided bailout money to assist the many struggling small businesses throughout the United States. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal government has allotted $730 billion for that organization to assist small-business owners in keeping their companies afloat. This funding is primarily available for the SBA to insure or underwrite loans for small businesses. Tapping into the federal bailout money for small businesses is not as easy as picking up the phone and making a request, but with some time spent in research and plenty of patience and persistence, small-business owners will be able to acquire available funding.

Instructions

  1. Contact your local office of the Small Business Administration. The federal bailout money for small businesses will ultimately pass through banks and other lenders, but the SBA can provide the information you need on how to apply for it. The SBA will be responsible for underwriting small-business loans (in the same way that the Federal Housing Administration underwrites housing loans), so you will need to start there. Take the time to visit the local office in person, as you will be much harder to ignore and more likely to receive useful information.
  2. Request a list of approved banks or lenders for SBA loans. The SBA underwrites the loans, but the banks provide the actual loan packages. The workers at your local SBA can tell you more about the banks to which you can apply and the loan options that will be best for your business.
  3. Contact the bank to find out about small-business loans. Let the bank know that you are applying through the Small Business Administration, and make sure the loan package reflects this underwriting. For instance, an SBA-backed loan should have reduced or eliminated fees, as well as SBA guarantee for as much as 90 percent of the loan.
  4. Apply for an SBA-insured loan. Do not complete or sign the loan application until you are sure that the loan is the best for your business and reflects your business’s ability to make the necessary payments.

How to Write a Product or Service Strategy in a Business Plan

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A business plan is made up of certain sections that, combined, give an overall view of your business idea and how you intend to implement it. Those sections include a basic description of your company, industry and competition; your product or service; revenue model; target customer; marketing plan; build-out; management bios; contingency plan; and financial projections. Product or service strategy is most appropriately included in the description of your product or service and should be compared to your industry competition in the section describing your industry.

Instructions

  1. Contact your industry trade associations and read research reports and articles on your industry to learn about economic and legal trends that will affect your business in the future. Your strategy should be forward-looking in order to be effective.
  2. Research your target customer. Product and service strategy focuses partly on creating products that will be enthusiastically received in the marketplace, meet the cost and performance needs of your customers and compare favorably with your competition. Strategy also focuses on how you will market your products and services to that customer.
  3. Write a paragraph or two describing the goals and direction of your product or service strategy. Include this in your section describing your products and services.
  4. Describe how you will implement that strategy, what you will do to differentiate your product or service from a features and benefits point of view, and describe your manufacturing process and how it will support your strategy. A step-by-step bullet point list is a clear way to accomplish this description.
  5. Discuss the marketing implications and needs your strategy presents. This should be included in the marketing section of your business plan.

Modern Meat Processing to Be Showcased at IFFA 2016

The IFFA 2016 show in Frankfurt am Main is only a matter of days away now, and people from across the industry will flock to Germany to see the latest in all things meat-processing.

Exhibitors at IFFA Messe Frankfurt will be demonstrating equipment and sharing information about topics across all stages of the processing chain, from production right through to packaging, and this trade show will not hold back on demonstrating modern techniques and new technology.

Modern Meat Processing to Be Showcased at IFFA 2016

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There will be more than 950 international exhibitors with representatives from all market leaders across the 110,000 m2, and more than 60,000 visitors are expected over the six-day event.

Precise Portions

The demand for fixed-weight products and convenience lines is growing in many countries where cash-rich but time-poor consumers want quick and easy food. With a new diet craze sweeping through the UK every week, consumers are often weighing food or counting calories through weight, so automatic portioning and packaging of meat and meat products are becoming bigger business.

Systems and equipment often uses lasers and x-ray scanners and tend to have integrated scales for accuracy.

The New Automation

Historically, automation has been expensive to run, complicated to understand and lacking in flexibly. One of the key developments to investigate at this year’s show will be industrial robots designed to save your business time and money. They are extremely flexible but also offer speed and precision, with no issues over long-term repetition.

Another benefit of robotic production is that they can pick up skills immediately that might take a human some months or even years to develop. However, due to human senses or difference in bone width, for example, there are some tasks that will never be automated. Dismembering facilities continue to pose challenges for robotic solutions. Investigate the options available and research what will work best for your business.

Many parts of the meat-processing chain are already automated, so expect these exhibitors showing the future of the chain to be extremely busy.

For more information, visit the Messe Frankfurt website and discover all you need to know about IFFA Messe Frankfurt. Information can also be found at the Expo Database.

This is one of the key events for trade customers looking to buy machinery and equipment for the industry. Get your tickets now!

The Costs and Benefits of Working

Working outside the home provides many benefits to the individual – the most obvious of which is financial. Being employed means that you will inevitably have more disposable income than those who do not work, and with this comes more freedom. Having access to money means that you have more choices about how to live your life and spend your free time.

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But the benefits are not always monetary. The Department for Work and Pensions reports that being unemployed leads to poorer health both mentally and physically, as well as higher mortality rates. So working is generally good for your health and well-being.

Travel Costs

As well as all the positive things we gain by working, there are also some costs to weigh up. A major outlay is the cost of actually getting to work, particularly in the South East. For example, according to the Telegraph, residents of Basildon will spend around three hundred pounds per month on commuting into London.

Other Expenses

There are also other expenses associated with working, which may not always be immediately obvious. Of course, those regularly attending a place of work will normally need to make sure they look smart and presentable. This means an additional cost burden of buying suitable clothes for the office.

Many full-time workers are extremely pressed for time, and as a result it is increasingly common to purchase drinks, snacks and lunchtime sandwiches rather than taking the more cost-effective option and bringing them from home. When you are working hard, it can also feel like a little indulgence to treat yourself to a nice lunch made by someone else rather than making your own packed meal.

Obviously, this is all good news for those who run delis and sandwich shops. In order to keep pace with the demand for takeaway lunches and drinks, as a proprietor you will need a reliable range of kitchen equipment such as fridges and commercial bottle coolers. You can view a selection of commercial bottle coolers by FridgeFreezerDirect on their site.

We can see from these points that there are sometimes significant costs associated with being an employee – not all of them readily apparent. However, the gains we make both financially and mentally would seem to make it hugely worthwhile for most people.

List of Steps to Become a Social Worker

Below mentioned are general steps to become successful social worker in the career:

  1. Choosing Social Work Specialty:

There are numerous amount of career path available in social work like interacting with other peoples and focusing on specific demographic location of the country. Child and family related social workers work towards families to provide better assistance. Geriatric social workers will be taking care of elders in the family. Hospice social workers will be taking care of health care clubs and organizations. Also, they are present in school and colleges in order to work closely with both parents and teachers or professors and identify whether students has selected the right course or not.

  1. Obtain a Bachelor Degree:

It is must for the students to undergo four year bachelor degree in social work in order to enter into this career option in future. Some of the majors in social work are psychology, education, child development, and sociology.

Physiology:

This is the field work closely with social work and helps in focusing on human behavior and their motivation. It also helps to gain insight on how clients are overcoming the obstacles for achieving goals.

Education:

This is the good options for the individuals who love to work as school social workers. It also offers instruction in child behavior, disabilities, and other leadership skills.

Child Development:

This is the helpful for the individual who love to help or serve children and families. This offers how children develop mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. It also helps to create strategies for mental health and their behavior.

Sociology:

This field is interacting with social work in many different ways and it is providing focus on human society and some of the interpersonal activities. It helps in creating foundation of social work career.

  1. Competing Internship:

It is more important to gain practical knowledge in social work field. It is must to take an opportunity to serve others. Sometimes the internship also includes working with non-profit health organizations, healthcare center, hospital and healthcare clinic.

  1. Master of Social Work:

Students who are in need of licensed social worker, it is must gain Master of Social Work degree in any accredited university in the world. Any undergraduate degree is eligible to apply for this Master degree in social work. It is more important to choose the master degree with course work in order to ensure that students are gaining proper practical knowledge.

  1. Entry Level Job:

It is more important to gain experience in the entry level when compared to concentrating on pay scale. This would provide understanding of work in various fields. Once required experience is achieved, then it is time to move in the ladder for better pay scale and positions.

  1. Social Work Credentials:

It contains three different licenses and they are: licensed social worker, certified social worker, and licensed clinical and independent social worker.

Rutgers online offer these step by step procedure to get into social worker role in the career path with proper guidance.

 

HSH Lawyers They Will Fight For You

It’s been a rough time for our family of late.  Dad was in an car accident about 2 years ago. We have been taking care of him at home.  He was stopped at a red light on his way to work early in the morning. The light turned green dad started to proceed when this car ran past the red light and slammed right into the driver’s side where dad was.

Dad was severely injured as the force of the other car was so hard that had it took them at least one hour to get dad out of the car, because the front bumper of the other car was edged into the driver’s side door.

Well unfortunately dad had a fractured back, broken ribs along with some neck issues. The other driver had minor injuries, isn’t that always the case. We weren’t happy how things were progressing with the insurance companies. Between medical bills and dad unable to work, it was tough. It was time to find a personal injury lawyer .

After  some research and word of mouth we decided to go with Howie, Sacks & Henry otherwise known as the HSH Lawyers. Why? This is what they do best. They have a great track record along with a great team of lawyers.

We made an appointment to visit one of the locations nearby. The wait time was very short which was unexpected. The lawyer came out introduced himself and took us to one of the rooms. It was there we explained our story.  Once we were finished  the lawyer looked at us and said, we can help you. My mom had tears in her eyes.

They represent people like you and me who are having a hard time dealing with insurance companies. They do not represent insurance companies. For the HSH Lawyers you are not just another case for them to handle, you are someone that matters.

So after some negotiations and deliberations between insurance companies it was decided that we were going to file a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes you have to go that route if everything else is exhausted.

Any time a lawsuit is involved it is draining for anyone. Between the phone calls, filling out papers and so on. in the meantime dad is still in recovery but he is trying his best. It’s nice to have the HSH lawyers ask how he is doing each time the call, it makes you feel good.

Well to keep things short HSH was able to get us a nice settlement which should help our family out. Dad can now focus on getting better while we can have some sense of normalcy again. All I can say is if you are involved in any type of accident claim be it car, medical, slip and fall and others please give HSH Lawyers a call they will do their best to get you the long term disability settlement you deserve.

Funding and Business Development Opportunities For SMEs in Nigeria

Does your business make impact in the following space?
  • Agriculture and Agricultural Processing
  • Manufacturing: Production of affordable products/services with high relevance for women, youth and (or) small holder farmers
  • ICT and Media
  • Recycling and Renewable Energy

Nextzon has been commissioned by Oxfam to implement an Oxfam funded business development service platform for SMEs in Nigeria.

Objective:

The Objective is to identify qualifying SMEs (with specific impact objectives) that can be structured and made bankable for potential funding. This will include Expanding SMEs and Early Growth Enterprises with difficulty accessing finance.

Selected SMEs will have the opportunity to be funded by an Oxfam supported impact fund (in either equity, quasi-equity or debt and as the business case may justify).

Areas of Interest:

SMEs across the listed sectors impacting women, youth and small holder farmers through job creation, improved incomes and the availability of affordable products and services of high relevance (to the target groups).

Your business could be eligible for the Oxfam Impact Investment based on the following criteria:

  • Your business is a few years in operation and has started generating revenues
  • You are socially committed and are willing to take on social and environmental responsibilities.
  • You are committed to meeting environmental, social and corporate governance standards.
  • You have a proven track record in your line of business.
  • You are supported by a strong management team with a proven track record.
  • Your business model is attractive and you have a clear value creation strategy.
  • Your business is well positioned to benefit from market growth.
  • You are looking for an investment size of between € 100,000 and € 1,000,000.

If you think your business is an ideal candidate to receive an Inclusive Impact Investment, proceed to application stage.

Follow this link – APPLY

Please have your financials and financial projections handy for this process.

FunCat Electric Catamaran Business Opportunities

Do you love the water? Live to be outdoors? Do want to run your own business? FunCat has amazing business opportunities that allow you to work in the sunshine, on the shore, and in the water.

FunCats are electrically powered, chaise-lounge style catamarans that are perfect for private rental businesses, large boat rental facilities, and marinas. They are truly unique, offering the relaxing, laid-back feel of sitting side-by-side with friends or family and lounging —like in a paddleboat— but with FunCat you don’t have to peddle! FunCat’s silent motors run on rechargeable batteries that last up to 4 hours with continuous use. The controls are really simple, and fun to use. Children and adults love to drive the FunCat! The propellers are recessed and the pontoons have molded handles making FunCat easy to pull up onto shore.

FunCat is also a green product! You don’t have to hassle with gasoline or oil, and this helps keep your lake or ocean location free from pollution. This also makes each rental more profitable because all you have to do is recharge batteries! And charging batteries has never been easier. We have 3 different systems available that make renting boats and recharging them super simple. You can use a built-in charging system, a plug-in charging system or a bank charging system that will charge up to 8 batteries at a time. With our quick connect battery cables you won’t even need tools to disconnect the batteries!

Andy Berry, owner/operator at Resort Watersports in San Diego, has had lots of success with his FunCat rental business.

“FunCats have proven to be a very popular rental. They’re easy to use, and our guests can relax on the water without the hassle of paddles, oars, sails or gasoline-powered motors. Our customers come back time and again to rent FunCats!”

He has eleven FunCats and they are always out on the water.

FunCats are marine grade, built for commercial use, and are incredibly durable. FunCats come with a one-year warranty, which speaks volumes of our quality product. We also offer specialized accessories to make FunCat even more fun! A convertible bimini shade offers protection from the sun, a fishing pole mount provides convenient, leisurely fishing, and our U.S. Coast Guard approved navigation light system means you can offer boat rentals into dusk.

On approved credit you can team up with us and run your own business as a member of our joint venture program. Check out the terms on our website www.funcats.com

We also offer short term financing plans (on approved credit), and if you act now you can receive up to $500 off of shipping costs.

Call us today and ask about demonstrations in your area. Once you ride a FunCat you will know just why we call it a FunCat!

Which of These Residual Income Business Opportunities Makes More Money?

If you get the right residual income business opportunity, there is no doubt that you will make serious money from your home based business. So, we are all on the same page, a residual income business is one that continues to pay you for the lifetime value of the customer in the business and is based on the principle of repeat business.

In this article, we want to look at three residual business opportunities and decide the best one to start and make some profits from home.

The very first residual income business opportunity is where you create your own product or service to sell. Such product or service must be a repeat business item thereby generating residual income. While this is a highly feasible plan, the key difficulty is that product or service creation is a process with no guarantees. In fact, research indicates that only 10 percent of products ever make it in the world of business.

What this means is that, when you create a new product, you are taking a very high level of risk. The chances that you will fail are significantly higher than those of success. However, if your product or service succeeds on the market, you will definitely be on the road to some serious profits.

The second residual business opportunity to look at is starting your own online store based on the drop shipping model. This is a highly profitable business model especially if you are able to find genuine wholesalers to sell the products to you at truly wholesale prices.

The downside to a drop shipping business is the administrative burden that comes with processing orders and at times refunds. Indeed, beyond certain levels of sales, you may realize that you need to employ staff to keep up with the administrative overload.

The third residual income business opportunity to consider is based on the affiliate marketing model. Affiliate marketing has indeed taken the online business world by storm and has created a few millionaires. With affiliate marketing, you simply promote someone else’s product and receive payment from it.

If the product is a residual income product, as it should be, you will quickly increase your earnings to very high levels. The major downside with affiliate marketing is that you do not own the product and, a decision from the merchant can wipe off your business.

So, which of these three will make you the most money with the least of hassles as you start out in the world of business?

While all three are very solid and, the final choice is based on individual preferences, l personally believe that affiliate marketing is the way to go for a beginning entrepreneur. With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to battle over product creation decisions. All you simply do is to plug onto a successful product or service and start making money.

In addition, the best affiliate programs come with a complete marketing support system, thereby eliminating your chances of failure. This includes ads, banners, eBook that you can customize and distribute and so on.

The best strategy is to first master the online business world through affiliate marketing and then proceed to create your own products. You then have the best of both worlds because, if your product fails, your affiliate business will keep you afloat and, if it succeeds, why, just enjoy the ride.

How to start Red Palm Oil business

 

Palm oil is derived from palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) fruit and is referred to as “red palm oil” because of its rich dark red color in its unprocessed natural state. Palm kernel is also derived from the seed while palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel.

It comes as regular palm oil, but it is less processed and retains the red color from its high concentration of carotenes. It’s rich in vitamins A and E. Apparently, the process of creating regular palm oil strips out the carotenes along with other nutrients.

Palm oil ( dendê oil, from Portuguese) is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms, primarily the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis, and to a lesser extent from the American oil palm Elaeis oleifera and the maripa palm Attalea maripa.

Palm oil is naturally reddish in color because of a high beta-carotene content. It is not to be confused with palm kernel oil derived from the kernel of the same fruit, or coconut oil derived from the kernel of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). The differences are in color (raw palm kernel oil lacks carotenoids and is not red), and in saturated fat content: Palm mesocarp oil is 41% saturated, while Palm Kernel oil and Coconut oil are 81% and 86% saturated respectively.

Along with coconut oil, palm oil is one of the few highly saturated vegetable fats and is semi-solid at room temperature. Like other vegetable oils, palm oil contain zero cholesterol,.

Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa (Nigeria) . Its use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is widespread because of its lower cost and the high oxidative stability (saturation) of the refined product when used for frying.

The use of palm oil in food products has attracted the concern of environmental activist groups; the high oil yield of the trees has encouraged wider cultivation, leading to the clearing of forests in parts of Indonesia in order to make space for oil-palm monoculture. This has resulted in significant acreage losses of the natural habitat of the orangutan, of which both species are endangered; one species in particular, the Sumatran orangutan, has been listed as “critically endangered”. In 2004, an industry group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

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Human use of oil palms may date as far back as 5,000 years; in the late 1800s, archaeologists discovered a substance that they concluded was originally palm oil in a tomb at Abydos dating back to 3,000 BCE. It is believed that Arab traders brought the oil palm to Nigeria.
Palm oil from Elaeis guineensis has long been recognized in West and Nigeria , and is widely used as a cooking oil. European merchants trading with West Africa occasionally purchases palm oil for use as cooking oil in Europe.
Palm oil became a highly sought-after commodity by British traders, for use as an industrial lubricant for machinery during Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
Palm oil formed the basis of soap products, such as Lever Brothers’ (now Unilever) “Sunlight” soap, and the American Palmolive brand.
By around 1870, palm oil constituted the primary export of Nigeria.

Composition

Main article: Fatty acid

Palm oil like all fats, is composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol. Palm oil has an especially high concentration of saturated fat, specifically, of the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid palmitic acid, to which it gives its name. Monounsaturated oleic acid is also a major constituent of palm oil. Unrefined palm oil is a large natural source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.
Many processed foods either contain palm oil or various ingredients derived from it.
After milling, various palm oil products are made using refining processes. First is fractionation, with crystallization and separation processes to obtain solid (stearin), and liquid (olein) fractions Then melting and degumming removes impurities. Then the oil is filtered and bleached. Physical refining, removes smells and coloration to produce “refined, bleached and deodorized palm oil” (RBDPO) and free sheer fatty acids,[clarification needed] which are used in the manufacture of soaps, washing powder and other products. RBDPO is the basic palm oil product sold on the world’s commodity markets. Many companies fractionate it further to produce palm olein for cooking oil, or process it into other products.

Financial Freedom with doTERRA!

 

doTERRA is only 6 years old. Yet in those six years, doTERRA has grown to be the largest essential oil company in the world.  This incredible feat is because doTERRA is an amazing company with internationally respected products and fabulous business incentives for people just like you!
This year doTERRA is positioned to reach the billion dollar sales mark. This has not happened to a Network Marketing Company in well over 20 years. So 2014 is the year (and perfect timing) for YOU to get on board!
doTERRA is unlike any network company I have ever known. You can read more about the company here: doTERRA Company Story. Moreover, doTERRA has over a 65% retention rate of product consultants. This is virtually unheard of in network marketing. The average retention is 20%.

Experience Great Health & Stable Wealth Doing What You Love!

What About the Compensation Plan?

If you are at all familiar with the compensation plan of other network marketing companies, you’ll find this one to be refreshing and very rewarding. The basis of the plan is that you don’t succeed unless you help others succeed. This isn’t about being selfish with our health, wealth, knowledge, or business. It is about being generous all the way around and that is my favorite part!

With doTERRA’s compensation plan there are 5 ways to make money and they all work together for you:

Retail Profits – doTERRA will provide you with a website for free where people can purchase products from you at the retail price. Then doTERRA ships the products directly to your customers. Your site will look like this: doTERRA Retail Site

Fast Start Bonus – This is a bonus that doTERRA pays you when someone signs up for a wholesale membership. You receive 20% on anything they purchase in their first 60 days. This bonus is paid weekly so you get money right away to get you started.

Power of Three Bonus – When three of your customers enroll in the Loyalty Rewards Program and place an order of 100pv or more and together with your LRP you and those three people’s volume it equals 600pv then doTERRA will pay you $50. When you duplicate that for those three people the bonus increases to $250. If you do that one more time for the new 9 people it will increase to $1500!

Terms-

PV = Personal Volume

Generally $1 purchased =1 PV (if you purchase a kit or supplements, the item doesn’t always match up exactly with PV as dollars)

OV = Organizational Volume = All of your organization purchases (e.g. what you and everyone under you purchases).

LRP = Loyalty Rewards Program = You commit to a monthly order that can be changed monthly.

IPC = Independent Product Consultant = now called: Wellness Advocate. A wholesale account which provides the option to do the doTERRA business if interested.

Unilevel Bonus – This doesn’t seem like much at first but it will grow to be the bonus that makes you the most money. You will make from 2%-7% on all purchases after the initial 60 days of a new members enrollment. This will come to you from everyone on your team and is given 7 levels deep. Making 7% on your 7th level (where the most people are) is why you make the most money from this bonus.

Leadership Bonus – Once you reach a certain rank (the rank of Silver) you enter the Leadership Performance Pools. This means doTERRA takes a percentage of their monthly profits and divides it among the higher ranked sellers/consultants. What an incentive to spread the word of natural healing and doTERRA!

Our Team Supports You!

We are here to support you. Whether you want to try the oils to improve your own health, share the oils with others, or create your own health business at home, we will support you every step of the way. We work with an upline of amazing leaders who can work with you, encourage you, and give step-by-step instructions on how to be successful.

When you sign up as a consultant/wholesale member and purchase an enrollment kit, we will provide you with:

Free Essential Oil Guide Booklet for personal and business use
-Access to our team’s private Facebook Group where you can ask questions and get  support
Essential Oil samples
How To Get Started Guide
-Tearsheets to get started in your business (Fantastic information handouts)
Over $500 in free training and essential oil information on our exclusive team training website to learn about essential oils, health ailments, how to build your home business with videos, webinars, trainings and printables!
-Free customized website for your doTERRA business
-Support via phone calls, text and email as needed and wanted
**BONUS: When you join our team, you can offer our team’s monthly specials to anyone YOU enroll! We will mail out the free gifts and/or oils on your behalf to any new enrollments to help support you!

Let me end with this: doTERRA is a fantastic company for work-at-home moms, stay at home moms, bloggers and anyone looking for supplemental or full-time income.

So many people have health problems and are struggling and looking for answers. doTERRA proves a solution for virtually all your health ailments!

Business Opportunities In California Water Problems

I recently wrote a Third Eye OSINT study of potential water supply impacts on global stability.  California is not immune from water supply problems.  The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) reports that California is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in its recorded history.  Every problem presents opportunities for business solutions.  Studying policy trends will point the way to opportunities.

The state government has made the California Water Action Plan an interagency effort.  The undated draft makes it clear that water supplies are stressed and California must manage demand more carefully.  The plan states that over seven million Californians live in a floodplain, and later states that large amounts of floodplains and other natural habitats have been lost in modern history.  The connection is obvious to me.  Development in floodplains puts humans and habitats in danger.  IMHO the state government is in dire need of a UN Agenda 21 smart development plan that will prohibit further residential development in floodplains and gradually unbuild legacy development.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a comprehensive attempt to preserve an ecosystem that sustains California’s agricultural might.  Without this plan, I believe there will not be enough water available in Northern California to support both agriculture and the need for eventual oil and gas drilling in the Monterey Shale Formation.  Southern California developers and residential property owners are probably going to be very disappointed that their fantasies of comfortable life in the desert can longer be sustained by intrastate water transfers.  Metering and rationing mean the California golden age of lush front lawns and leisurely car washes is closing for good.

Note that California’s credit ratings are still in the basement.  California voters won’t tolerate any more bond issues for much of anything, including needed infrastructure.  The Governor’s plan to build huge tunnels through the Delta gets more expensive every time someone turns over a rock.  This means that privately funded infrastructure has a golden opportunity to capture revenue from future projects derived from managed hydrology.  There is simply no constituency outside of inland SoCal for further incarnations of intrastate projects on the scale of the long-proposed Peripheral Canal.

It’s really funny to hear SoCal politicians talk up the fairness of charging ratepayers for new water development.  Any further infrastructure development that diverts freshwater to SoCal will move the saltwater gradient so far inland as to make much of California’s agribusiness nonviable.  It makes zero economic sense to invest in infrastructure projects that benefit agriculturally poor land at the expense of agriculturally rich land.  SoCal ratepayers would eventually face a death spiral of higher water rates to sustain more expensive crops, while those crops are gradually priced out of world markets.  Adding water infrastructure in Kern County will be wasteful investment as more farms in that region become untenable and cease operations.

I see the following business opportunities based on this emerging regulatory framework.

Hydroelectric development.  Any policy planning guidance that calls for more groundwater storage and flood control inevitably means more dams on rivers.  More dams mean more hydroelectric installations and electric transmission lines.  This opens investment opportunities in undeveloped real estate that could serve as rights of way for transmission lines.  HydroWorld notes that the California drought is reducing the amount of hydropower available from larger dams, forcing more reliance on other energy sources.  Always remember the water-energy-food security nexus.  I think the potential for smaller-scale hydroelectric installations deserves study.

Water utilities.  I have never been impressed with the financial performance of US publicly traded water stocks.  I may have to reconsider this stance, at least for companies that serve the California market.

Disruptive water technologies.  Cleantech entrepreneurs can make a difference with new solutions in water delivery, recycling, and decontamination.  SoCal’s soil and climate may not be suited for water-intensive agriculture.  This is one reason why drip irrigation will address a much larger market than flood systems.  Oh BTW, water rationing implies that flooded crops like rice will play less of a role in California’s economy.  GMO crops may have a future if more independent research helps paranoid people get over their hysteria.

Smart metering.  This one’s a no-brainer.  Any unmetered residential parts of California – aside from those suburbs that will eventually become uninhabitable and marked for deconstruction – will soon be metered.  Any vendor of smart meters for water delivery can expect large orders from California utilities.

Desalination.  Making fresh water from seawater along the California coast has long been a policy pipe dream.  The state DWR has a desalination plan for grants and small experiments.  Desalination plants on a scale to meet SoCal’s needs will require a huge investment.  The opportunity exists for visionaries with deep pockets and giant visions.  The market for water in SoCal is huge and water from the Delta won’t supply its needs forever.  Use your imagination.  If you build it, they will come.

I foresee more regulatory control and microeconomic changes in the future, regardless of whether the private sector steps up to the water opportunity.  Here are my predictions for California.  New residential developments will minimize or prohibit front lawns and private swimming pools.  Existing homeowners will remove lawns and replace them with local native plants or drip irrigation gardens.  Some suburbs will cease to exist and be unbuilt, either because their municipalities are bankrupt (Bell, Stockton, Vallejo) or because they are environmentally untenable.  Many golf courses, especially in SoCal, will cease operations.  Those courses occupy space that will be more valuable as farmland or watersheds.  I don’t like making bad investments.  Much of suburban California is malinvestment that will come undone in prolonged periods of water austerity.

What is the Definition of a Business Opportunity? Reveal #1 Review Here!

Working from home and employment opportunities seem to be everywhere, but it is not always specific to get a consistent answer to the question “what is the definition of a business opportunity?” So, before you decide whether a business opportunity is for you and which ones you should go for, you will have in this article the needed information so that you can make an informed decision on what kind of opportunity is the best for you.

What Should You Do In Order To Earn Money From Your Business?

In order to make a living from your empire, you will have to advertise and be able to sell a product or service, which could be anything from an e-book to tool hire. By doing this, you are helping the original business owner to sell more of their produce, which is what they will pay you a percentage of the sale price for.

This will consequently allow them to have more exposure and definitely increase their sales rate and that is why you will be rewarded. The more you are able to sell for the merchant, the better your income will be.

How To Find The Optimal Answer To Your Definition?

Tip #1

In order to get an optimal answer to the question “What is the definition of a business opportunity?”, you will want one that will be able to offer you an income no matter what money you have to put towards it. In this context, I would advise you to be careful of those that ask for a lot of money upfront for allowing you to join their company. You should search quite well for the information regarding this company before you take a decision.

And this kind of information is available free on the internet, if you look for it in the blogs and forums. Remember that if you are selling the products of someone else, it is you who is needed by them just as much as it is the other way round and you should not have to pay to sell the products of someone else. There are lots of legitimate online businesses and you may be given a website as part of your joining to help you with the sales.

Tip #2

Free money making on the internet will allow you to start a business so that you can begin to earn cash without having to put any kind of investment into the venture. This will mean that you will not be turned away, if you cannot afford certain tools as they will be able to find ways around this so that you can earn money pretty much right away and get out of it, what you put in the way of effort.

You may also wish to work at home typing for money, but this kind of work comes in many different forms. One of which is to research certain topics or if you are bi-lingual, you may be able to translate certain information for someone so that their produce or service can be aimed at a wider clientele.

Another way you could earn money from typing is through data entry or you may write short stories or poems that you will allow appearing in online or offline magazines or newspapers. Till the moment of writing this article, I see some online jobs of that sort in which you will be paid up to $45 per hour depending on your level of experiences.

Tip #3

There are a lot of ways to make a living online and some of them you may already be doing for free. So, why not get paid for doing something you enjoy such as blog for work at home. This will mean that the time you spend writing blogs anyway can be made more beneficial by being able to earn money from your work.

Through the time, your blog will be much more popular and some people will ask if they can advertise relevant information on your blog, or maybe you can do it the other way round so that you are writing your blog around a certain produce, then when people read about it they will be able to get the link and make the purchase or join a certain venture

7 Fast Growing Small Business Opportunities In Nigeria

There are untapped business opportunities in every industry both in Nigeria and all over the world; you just need to dig deeper to find such niches. While there are untapped business opportunities in every industry, this post will be pointing out the fastest growing business opportunities in Nigeria. If you’re a non-Nigerian or a Nigerian in Diaspora wishing to start a business in Nigeria; then you will find this list of fastest growing business opportunities in Nigeria very useful.

A lot of things have been said about my country Nigeria and her harsh business terrain. If you are a non-Nigerian entrepreneur or a Nigerian in Diaspora; then this is my take about starting or doing business in Nigeria. If you are an experienced serial entrepreneur or an entrepreneur with guts; then you should know that one of the best places to invest your money and build a business is in a developing terrain.

Nigeria is a developing country and one of the best places to invest or build a business is in a developing environment. Though the risk is high, so also is the reward. Like I said; if you are an entrepreneur with guts to take on business challenges like Richard Branson; then this post is for you. If you are hungry for entrepreneurial ideas and information; then sit back, grab a cup of coffee and read on as I present with you a detailed list of 8 fastest growing business opportunities in Nigeria.

1. CATFISH AND POULTRY FARMING

The first of the fastest growing business opportunities in Nigeria is catfish farming. The primary reason I listed catfish farming as one of the fastest business opportunities in Nigeria is because it’s an emerging industry that hasn’t reached its peak or full potential. The major players in this business are usually regional players. What this means in essence is that each major player in the catfish farming industry is focused only on a particular business terrain within the geographical location of the farm.

All you need to do is look for a region with a growing demand that haven’t been covered by a major player and situate your business there. As for poultry farming, the ban imposed by the federal government of Nigeria with respect to the importation of live or frozen poultry birds has only helped explode the demand.

When accessing any of these business opportunities listed above, you must note three important facts.

*Food is one of the basic necessities of man, thus making catfish and poultry farming a huge potential.

*The population in Nigeria is estimated to be over 150 million and growing so that entails a growing demand for food.

*If the local market with 150 million Nigerians gets saturated (which I strongly doubt as this niche is still in its adolescent phase), there’s still a growing demand for catfish all over the world. So do your own in-depth analysis and put your money to work.

2. INLAND WATER WAY TRANSPORT

Inland water way transport is one of the fastest growing business opportunities in Nigeria. In fact, I believe the niche is still untapped because I am yet to see a modern commercial boat or ferry service system in Nigeria. Though there are a few operators in this industry, I’m yet to see the modern facilities being used by the developed countries.

Another reason inland water way transport business proves viable is because population in states such as Lagos, Ogun state and Rivers is rapidly on the rise thereby resulting in the congestion of roads. Since the roads are becoming heavily congested; the next means of transportation the inhabitants of these heavily populated states will resort to is water transport. With proper planning, a good management team and adequate funding, you can break into this untapped industry and carve a niche for your business.

3. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY

When it comes to ICT, I will say Nigeria is lagging behind when compared to the western world. It may sound like bad news to you but to entrepreneurs and investors, it is good news. ICT is still an emerging trend that hasn’t reached its peak so a lot of opportunities exist for both local and foreign investors. I won’t go into the capital intensive business opportunities that exist in the ICT sector; rather, I will stick with small and medium scale business opportunities.

4. E-SERVICES

Just as the world is going e-crazy, so also is Nigeria catching up with the trend. E-services provision is still a virgin business opportunity that hasn’t fully been tapped. Under the umbrella of providing e-services; you can find the following fast growing business opportunities: E-payment, bulk sms services, web design and hosting, database management services, e-portal management, etc.

5. SCHOOLS

A lot of institutional and private investors have gone into building quality schools and providing quality education but the potential has not been reached. With a population of over 150 million Nigerians, where 65% are below 40; there’s still untapped potential in this niche.

You can access this business opportunity from different entry levels. You can tap into this niche by providing either crèche, primary, secondary or tertiary education but all entry levels holds strong potential. Please carry out your own analysis before investing in any level of this business opportunity.

6. SEMINARS

Not everyone loves being educated within four walls of school. Some prefer street smart education or high speed learning and that’s where you come in. You can set up a seminar company that organizes coaching services according to the current needs and trends of the society.

7. TRAINING CENTERS

Specialized training or educational centers is another fast growing yet untapped business opportunity in Nigeria. Examples of specialized learning centers are Leadership training schools, entrepreneurial centers, training center for the gifted and physically challenged, training center for hobbies and crafts, etc.

In conclusion, I want you to know that of the numerous business opportunities and potentials available in my country Nigeria, I believe the ones listed above are potential money makers but I emphasize you do your own feasibility study before investing a dime in any of these business opportunities.

Business Opportunities in Bungoma County

With Norwegian investors keen on investing in the Bamboo farming in Chesikaki ward, a wide range of business opportunities in Bungoma County exits in many other wards and sectors of its economy.

The population of men in Bungoma County in 2015 is slightly below a million. There are 807,157 men in Bungoma County. On the other hand, the population of women in Bungoma County is much higher. The population of women is 844,593. So as an entrepreneur we are looking at a total population of one million six hundred and fifty thousand people (1,650,750 people to be precise). This population of almost two million people forms a strong foundation for all kinds of investment opportunities in Bungoma County in 2015.

Large and small business opportunities in Bungoma County exist in the following sectors;

  1. Health Sector

The population of people in Bungoma County is large. The population is slightly below two million people. In an area where there are many people there are many health related issues. So with respect to health, an investor can set up a dispensary or a clinic or a chemist (pharmacy outlet). Well, with respect to setting up a pharmacy, an investor can look for towns or shopping centres in Bungoma where there are hospitals or dispensaries which will be sending patients to buy medications.

Since population greatly influences where a health facility such as a clinic or a pharmacy is located, we have the projected population figures for Bungoma County based on constituencies for the year 2015.

The constituency with the highest population in Bungoma County is Kanduyi Constituency which has a population of almost a quarter million people (224,273). The second most populated constituency is Tongaren constituency. The population of Tongaren Constituency is 186,279. The population of other constituencies in Bungoma County is as follows.

  • At third position is Bumula Constituency. The population of Bumula Constituency is 178,438.
  • At fourth position is Mt. Elgon constituency. The population of Mt. Elgon Constituency is 171,348.
  • Kabuchai Constituency takes the firth position in terms of population. The population of Kabuchai constituency is 140,315.
  • Kimilili takes the sixth position with a population of 130,907 people.
  • At the third last position in terms of population size is Webuye West constituency. The population of Webuye West Constituency is 126,808.
  • The second last constituency in terms of population size in Bungoma County is Sirisia constituency. The population of Sirisia Constituency is 102,040.
  • The constituency with the smallest population in Bungoma County is Webuye East has a population of 100,982.

Now that we have explored how the population distribution is like, it is time to hit the nail on the head. Based on population, an investor in the health sector will look for opportunities first in Kanduyi constituency. And if we look further at Kanduyi constituency, it has a very high population of women at 115,238. Now, a high population of women simply implies a higher number of babies and hence a demand for medicines for the small illnesses that normally affect babies (Such as cold flue etc.). A high population of women in Kanduyi Constituency also means that there is a high demand for contraceptives such as family planning pills.

Well, all the constituencies in Bungoma County have populations that are higher than one hundred thousand people (100,000) so health facilities such as clinics and pharmacy shops will make good money in Bungoma county.

  1. Building materials.

Did you know that 79% of residents in Bungoma County are living in houses that have been constructed using earth (Udongo/ Mchanga)? Well, this fact alone sets a new stage in terms of business opportunities in building and construction in Bungoma County.

In spite of 79% of the residents are living in houses made of earth, 20% of the residents have houses made of cement and concrete. Well, what is 20% of 1,659,750? Alright, the answer is 326,848. So what does the future holds for an investor? Here is the thing, with a high population of people living in houses made of earth/mud, opportunities are generated as more and more people endeavor to construct permanent houses.

If you are an investor don’t hold back. Rush to Bungoma and set up a business that sells building materials such as Cement, Corrugated iron sheets, padlocks, window frames, glasses, sand, Terrazzo, etc.

Now, which is the best place to start a business in business in Bungoma County that sells building materials? Mmmh, the answer is here. Pesa Mashinani is proud to give you the answer. Kanduyi Constituency is the best place to start a business that deals with building materials. The residents in Kanduyi constituency are actively building permanent homes using cement and concrete. Bumula constituency trails in the whole of Bungoma County in terms of the number of residents who are building homes using cement and other concrete materials.

At the county assembly level, Township ward has the highest number of residents who are building homes using cement and other concrete materials. Cheoyuk ward trails all the other wards in Bungoma County in terms of the number of people who are building permanent houses using cement and other concrete materials.

  1. Household items.

Cups, plates, Sufurias, spoons and many other utensils are always in demand thanks to the high population in the county. An average family size in Bungoma County has between 4 to 6 children. So apart from utensils, other items that are used at home are in demand. Just set up a small business in an area that has a high population and watch as your business grow bigger and bigger each and every minute.

  1. Spare parts

Well, like in other counties in Kenya, the Boda boda business is booming in Bungoma County. So, for a small investor who is looking for investment opportunities in spare parts business then Bungoma County is the place to have an interest on. Reflector clothing, lubricants, tires and helmets are some of the items that are in demand due to the high number of boda bodas in the county.

Well, Toyota Probox and Toyota Corolla are common care models in the county. So as an investor you can think of setting up a business that sells spare parts in the different parts of the county.

  1. Furniture

Well, with a population that will hit two million people by 2018, it is only obvious for smart investor and small entrepreneurs to set up businesses that make and/or sell furniture. As more and more people construct permanent houses, they generate demand for furniture items such as tables, beds, sofa sets, cupboards, stools and many other related items.

  1. Bamboo Farming

Perhaps this is something that many have not heard of because it is a very new business opportunity in Bungoma County. Well, Norwegian investors have expressed interest in Bamboo trees from Bungoma County which they will use to make electric poles. So, small scale farmers in Bungoma County can consult the county government on the viability of going into Bamboo farming.

  1. Clothing Business

Well, this is a business that has always made good money to small investors. With Uganda just a stone throw away, many entrepreneurs from Bungoma County are crossing the border and importing clothes to sell to the millions of people in Bungoma County.

  1. 10. Electronics

Football is something that a majority of the population of men in Bungoma County loves. So as an investor, you can set up an electronics shop that sells television sets, FM radios, digital receiver boxes (Such as Go TV etc.) and Satellite TV dishes (Such as DSTV).

Sale of Mobile phones and mobile phone accessories is another area that presents opportunities for investors in Bungoma County. Well, don’t start a mobile phones business and stock expensive smart phones. It is wise of you as an investor and an entrepreneur to stock affordable mobile phones that will sell quickly. Some of the common specifications that will make you sell the mobile phones quickly in this county include;

  • Mobile phones/ smart phones with FM radio
  • Affordable smart phones that have internet access.
  • Mobile phones/ smart phones that have a camera.
  • Mobile phones/ smart phones that can play video.

Always remember not to tock your business with expensive smart phones which the majority of the population cannot afford.

Phone accessories that are in high demand in Bungoma County include; memory cards, charges, earphones mobile phone batteries and mobile phone casings.

  1. Electricals

Electrical cables for wiring houses have a very high demand in Bungoma County as much of Bungoma County benefits from rural electrification. Kanduyi constituency for example has a very high rate of electricity connections to new houses every year.

The constituency that has the lowest rate of electricity connectivity is Bumula constituency. So if you want to set up a business that sells electrical cables in Bungoma County, you better consider Kanduyi Constituency. Bumula Constituency should be at the bottom of your priority list in terms of setting up an electrical shop until electricity connectivity in the constituency improves.

So what should be stocked? Well an electrical shop in Bungoma County should stock items such as;

  • Wiring cables
  • Electrical bulbs (energy savers)
  • Sockets
  • Switches and main switches.
  1. Opportunities in Bungoma County Assembly

There are many tenders by Bungoma County government that are always requesting for services and supply of items. Well, the services and items that are needed are wide but some of the common ones include;

  • Supply of office equipment.
  • Supply of computer accessories such as toners, uninterrupted power supply.
  • Construction and implementation of projects such as construction of classrooms, dispensaries and community water projects.

·        Supply of beverages and refreshments.

Business Opportunities in Garissa County

A smooth tarmacked road from Nairobi is the ultimate gateway to lucrative business opportunities in Garissa County. Supermarkets in Garissa town are being established. As at Naivas supermarket is one of the main retail chains which has set foot in Garissa town.

A thirsty investor will not be deterred by the security issues in Garissa. A thirsty investor will open his/her fat/slim wallet and set/ expand his or her business empire in Garissa town.

One area that needs an investor’s attention is the recent upgrading of the Garissa Teachers College to Garissa University College. Some businesses are already opening up close to the main gate of the university college. However, they are young businesses that have just startes. These small businesses are a sign that there are opportunities that relates to the welfare of students.

One business that is conspicuously missing from the young businesses that are close to Garissa University is a pharmacy. Therefore, if there is a person who has the relevant qualifications to start or run a pharmacy then one business opportunity in Garissa town is that of opening a pharmacy close to Garissa University College. The university college is located at about 2KM to the east of Garissa town.

Established investors can also set up major businesses in Garissa such as a supermarket or a money lending firm or a petrol station.

Real Estate investors have the chance to tap into the housing demands that exist in Garissa town and its environs. Much of the county is covered by dry sand. Therefore, obtaining sand for a major construction is at a very low cost. Water for building and construction is also readily available from Tana River which passes through the town. Huge tanks of water dot much of Garissa town. These tanks are fed with water from Tana River and so there is no need to drill a borehole to sustain a major construction project.

Garissa is as peaceful as any other town in Kenya. However, the media always turns the attention of the public to this beautiful and warm county only when bad things are happening. There is a diverse group of people (read customers) in Garissa town who really keep businesses going.

 

Boda Boda business is booming. So there are business opportunities in the sale of new motorbikes and spare parts. Toyota Probox in Garissa are not as common as compared to other towns in Kenya. So a business that will target the boda boda segment will have a higher sales turnover than a business that focuses on the vehicles segment.

eLearning Startup Opportunities

I’m going to be moderating a CalTech MIT Enterprise Forum that looks at Entrepreneurial Opportunities in eLearning – basically where do we mutually see a good opportunity to create a successful eLearning Startup.

I’ve talked a bit about this in eLearning startups:

the startups in eLearning sit in smaller niches or by attacking tangential opportunities in eLearning. They are going after things like:

  • specialized tools and content that meet particular industry or audience needs
  • games and simulations
  • web 2.0 approaches that leverage distributed content creation, social aspects as part of learning, collaborative learning and editing.

and in Business of Learning, Future of Business of Learning,  Future of Learning and the #LCBQ : What will the workplace learning technology look like in 2015, there are a lot more thoughts around where learning is heading from a business perspective.

In the case of the CalTech MIT session, the attendees are mostly interested in where there’s opportunity to do an eLearning Startup.  I’m very much looking forward to hearing from the speakers and panelists, but I thought I would use this as an opportunity to both respond to this month’s #LCBQ (2011 Predictions) and to prepare for the session.

Technology’s Impact on Learning and Education is Greatly Underestimated

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Roy Amara, Institute for the Future.

We are collectively underestimating the incredible impact that technology is going to have on education.  I’ve talked before about a world in which the Best Lecture is available to us anywhere.  This already is available.  Distance is really dead.

If we are going to force students to sit through lectures, shouldn’t they be the absolute best lecture?  Tell me how you are going to compete with Physics Lectures by Professor Lewin?  People will argue that Dr. Lewin’s is not appropriate for all students or in all situations.  Agreed, but you can’t tell me that the high school and college lectures going on around the world is the best way to educate students.

Of course, should it even be a lecture?  How about if it was an interactive experience instead?

With the death of distance, what does this mean for universities?  Should we all be taking online courses from the very best we can access?  How does a local university with a limited brand compare to an online degree from a much bigger brand?  Or compare to someone who aggregates content from various online sources?

What does this mean for high schools?  My daughter last year took an online summer school course taught by her high school teacher.  This year we are trying to find an online high school course (US history but not AP US history) taught by someone else.  It’s hard to find that today, but there are dollars there ready to be spent.

If you doubt this impact, make sure you take a look at what’s happening in things like SAT prep, Driver’s Ed, Tutoring.  In places that are not controlled by government, there’s incredible adoption of technology that has greatly shifted things online.

Books

I’m excited to Rob Angarita co-founder of Cramster that is now part of Chegg on the panel.  Cramster helps students with homework by providing answers to textbook questions and interactive support – think little pieces of eLearning for helping students figure out those problems.  It also wires into an online community and tutoring services.  Chegg is basically Netflix for textbooks.  Rather than buy a textbook, you rent it for the semester.  It will make college bookstores obsolete – think Blockbuster – actually they just won’t be called bookstores – they will be called a campus store – they will sell all sorts of other things and handle local fulfillment to the college market.

Of course, just like Netflix, Chegg is going to face a really interesting battle as books go digital.  Textbooks are going to go digital as well.  And when they go digital, there are going to be eLearning Startup successes like Cramster that can address specific needs.

In fact, more broadly publishers will need help to find ways to make their materials relevant in a digital world.  I’m working right now with two eLearning startups doing exactly that.  They are partnering with publishers to make their books come to life as interactive content and tools.

Niches

There are also a ton of smaller startups emerging that essentially focus on niche topics.  These can be one person shops that selling training to particular audiences.  I recently heard a podcast from a one-person operation that had a list of people in the world of real estate.  He would put out offers for an upcoming course that he would teach online.  If he got enough interest in the course, then he would actually make it happen.  If he didn’t get enough interest he wouldn’t offer it.  He was doing $400K per year as a one man shop with virtually no overhead.

For more about this: Long Tail Learning – Size and Shape

Aggregation, Curation and Social Signals

Of course, this also suggests that there are going to be big time opportunities for an eLearning Startup that aggregates offerings for particular audiences.  For example, my daughter wants to take that online high school course.  It can be from anyone as long as it gets her credit from her high school.  We’d like it to be a great experience from a well known brand.  What are my options?  As the number of options grow, the need for directories grows.  This is an eLearning Startup that someone should do immediately.

More broadly, addressing the issue of information overload for particular audiences is going to provide big time opportunity.  Aggregage does this for particular topics – allowing curators to bring in appropriate content and the wisdom of the crowd through social signals to filter to the best content.  This kind of approach (using curation and social signals) is big time opportunity for dealing with the increasing flow of information.  We’ll see startups providing rating systems, filtering systems, etc.

People

With the death of distance, that also means that you have immediate access to people across the globe.  This greatly changes things like tutoring and language teaching.  You can now be working with a tutor or teacher from anywhere in the world.  We’ve seen quite a few successful eLearning Startups doing these.

But there will be a lot more in things like mentoring, matching,  getting quick help, micro-consulting.  Look at the success of eLance and Amazon’s mechanical turk.  Quora (Q&A) is getting a lot of buzz – I’m still not sold, but it points out the continued interest in connecting people around questions, help, content.

Buyers

I added this after I posted, but here’s a great capture that will help you think about the market more generally and who the buyers are for your startup.eLearning-Buyers

Tools

Of course, during any gold rush the people who have the sure thing are the ones supplying the gold miners (shovels and jeans).  There are likely going to be lots of opportunities to be an eLearning startup providing tools.  Incumbents will definitely be tougher here.  But we still don’t have a really good solution for niche content providers.  The real estate training company has cobbled together a solution.  Lot’s of people have tried the marketplace, but white label has not been done well.

There also will likely be tools around:

  • Creating performance support – Learning meets action.  See: Performance Support in 2015
  • Mobile
  • Augmented reality
  • Communication (leverage platforms, but in a learning context)
  • Virtual environments
  • Integration with Google Docs

Business opportunities in Nakuru County

Fairly good road infrastructure, fast internet, reliable electricity and water supply have opened up a wide range of business opportunities in Nakuru County for thirsty investors. If you have been to Nakuru before or you are a resident of Nakuru then you may have noticed the many factors that are favourable for starting a business in Nakuru County.

Nakuru County has a vast hinterland of potential consumers. Areas in the entire central rift e.g. Baringo, Koibatek, Subukia, Eldama Ravine, Molo and Elburgon form a large source of business opportunities in Nakuru County. There are many people in the Central Rift who made a fortune during the KANU regime and so they have a substantial amount of disposable income.

The main business opportunities in Nakuru County are;

  • Hospitality. The congestion at the town’s Central Business District has opened up a range of business opportunities in Nakuru. For example, most public service vehicles that are travelling to and fro Nairobi are opting to stop at the outskirts of Nakuru Town. This alone has created business opportunities outside town. The only thing that is required is for an investor is to acquire land and build a structure that can accommodate large passenger numbers and buses. Small investor are only require small business stalls at the main structure. From these stalls, they can sell fast food products, airtime and drinking water.
  • Agricultural machinery. Tractors and combined harvesters are dotting most of the showrooms in Nakuru County. Depending on your financial investment ability, you can penetrate this market and rack a fortune. Due to the high demand for the agricultural machinery in Nakuru, spare parts and lubricants offers lucrative business opportunities in Nakuru County.
  • Agricultural Products. Both large scale and small scale farmers are found over much of the central rift. Therefore, with such a large poll of farmers, there are business opportunities in sale of agricultural products such as fertilizers, pesticides and animal feeds. Indeed, hay is produced locally in Nakuru County and so there is an opportunity for middlemen in the hay business.

Other business opportunities in Nakuru are shown below. However, the opportunities below have many competitors.

  • Clothing.
  • Wholesale.
  • Selling of New Boda Boda (Motorbikes)
  • Electronics such as electrical cables, phone accessories etc.

 

  • Tourists ventures.

From new business opportunities to women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management: A journey across Nepali good practices

From new business opportunities to women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management: A journey across Nepali good practices

 

In December 2014, 20 participants from 9 countries, and PROCASUR’s team traveled across Nepal for 8 days. With the crucial support of the  hosts – the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme (LFLP), the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), and the Nepal Agricultural Co-operative Central Federation Ltd (NACCFL) – as well as the technical support garnered from the IFAD Gender Desk during the design, implementation and follow up of the Learning Route (LR), participants learnt of experiences in the districts of Chitwan and Kapilvastu, which are successfully generating new income-generating opportunities through women-led Private-Public Producers Partnerships (4Ps).

The eager practitioners had the opportunity to experience how the leadership role of women in the establishment and management of 4P’s including Saving and Credit Groups (SCGs), as well as the involvement of Dalit, Janajati and other socially marginalised groups, have been crucial factors in their success; these Nepali women have gained increased recognition and respect at community level, mainly through their role in household decision-making and their improved position as SCGs leaders.

 

Our adventure was kicked off in Kathmandu, by WOCAN representative Dibya Gurung who gave us the ins and outs of the present situation for Nepali women ‘an invisible force to be reckoned with’. According to Ms Gurung, increased opportunities in income generation has given more opportunities for rural women in Nepal (75% of Nepali women are engaged in agricultural activities) while men’s support of women’s leadership is increasing, particularly among younger husbands and male youths providing an opportunity to encourage women’s advancement as leaders in the community and the family.

Eight days later, after various field visits to the host communities of Bijuwa, Devitar and Khaireni Parsha, group discussions and analyses the participants were able to glean a number of meaningful lessons under three interconnected areas of learning, including; gender equality and women’s empowerment, rural institutions and natural resource management. Aside from the structured learning, participants were able to engage with ideas and strategize in an informal setting – a regular (and necessary) ingredient in the LR recipe.

Andrew Mwaura from the Department of Social Development, Kenya, shared his learning with the group; ‘Social mobilisation has been the biggest key for the successes we have seen. They (social mobilisers) need to be the female members of the household. Even after the project is over, the social mobiliser will still be there, in the field. That is how we trigger motivation.’ Ripa Shanjida from Bangladesh added; ‘if you have an educated mother you have an educated nation’.

The Learning Route was concluded with the sharing of proposed Innovation Plans by the participants grouped by projects, country groups or individually. Each group/individual prepared an action plan based on the lessons learned from the three host cases during the eight day Learning Route journey. Of the 20 participants, 11 action plans for either women-led businesses or woman-focussed community organisations were presented on a wide range of topics including fruit preservation, organic honey production, empowering pastoralist women in decision making bodies and saving and credit groups for women. Participants were able to leave the LR with the constructive guidance necessary to finalise their plans in consultation with their own organisations. Participants had until January 15th to submit their finalised Innovation Plans in order to take part in a contest that will award the top 5 plans with $2500 USD in start-up capital. Watch this space for announcement of the winners!

Oh, and our Learning Route was packed so full of excitement that our closing ceremony was held on the tarmac of Bijuwa Airport! In keeping with the Learning Route spirit, it was excitement down to the very last minute! For more insights and learning route contents please visit: http://asia.procasur.org/women-empowerment-new-business-and-sustainable-nrm-in-nepal-2014/

Tips: Finding What Works Best For You

 

Yeah, If you search the internet, you would see several work from home business ideas. Because they are so many, you can be confused as to which of them really works best for you.
To simplify things, you need to ask yourself: What is my personality? Am I an introvert (person who prefers to be by herself/himself) or an extrovert (person who likes to be with people)?
Home businesses seems like a solitary venture so if you are the extrovert type, you need to find business ideas that enables you to be with people more often. Examples of these are event organizing, party planning, and the like. On the other hand, if you want less interaction, you can choose the work from home business ideas like online businesses.
Aside from personality, you also need to determine your skills. What can you do? Are you good at some craft or did you train for electronic technology? Learning what your abilities are will help you create a business that you enjoy doing.
Once you identify your personality and skills, you would easily find the business that works best for you. Below are some work from home business ideas that takes into consideration your skills and personality.
1. Craft-making – Are you creative and loves to make things like clothes, paintings, home decorations or any work of art? Then you better turn your hobby into a business. You can just create your artwork from home and sell it to your friends and family members. For a more interactive marketing activity, you can approach hotels, offices and other establishment that will promote or use your home-made products.
2. Skill-oriented business – maybe you are good at photography, graphic design, organizing event or repairing damaged electronic gadgets. Or, perhaps by profession you are a teacher, a musician or an architect. You can open your home to part-time or full time academic tutorial, music tutorial or freelance architectural designing. Whatever your skills are, you can use them to establish a business from home. Just make use of the things you learned from your training and start a business on your own.
3. Multi-level marketing – Most multi-level marketing requires you to stay at home and make a call or two a day. You can actually even invite people to your home or visit friends and families so they can learn more about your business and join your network. MLM is popular these days and people who are sociable are mostly the successful ones.
4. Distributorship – There are lots of big companies that offer distributorship to its members. If you think you have the money, time and interest to become a cosmetic, books, health and wellness product distributor, then you are on your way to owning a work from home business that works for you.
5. Online Businesses – With the popularity of internet, you find that there are many online business opportunities out there. It could be selling items using social media or online stores like eBay, or it could be writing, proofreading, blogging, website creation and internet marketing.

Top 10 Small Business Ideas for Startup Companies in 2010

There’s only three and a half months left of 2010, which, believe it or not, allows entrepreneurs enough time to establish their own startup company before the first of the New Year.  There are tons of innovative small business ideas out there, but which ones have been the most successful in 2010?  Here is a list of the top 10 small business ideas for startup companies in 2010, according to noobpreneur.com.  It’s not too late for any entrepreneur to use one of these business ideas before 2010 ends!

  1.  Online Business

Online business is #1 on the top 10 small business ideas for many reasons.  The main reason, however, is the fact that Internet business and online business opportunities allow for low competition but high demand, which is every entrepreneur’s dream.

  1.  Green Consultancy

2010’s biggest fad was “going green”—and green small businesses are no exception.  As more and more small businesses are going green, it is wise to develop a startup company that helps other businesses to go green.  Examples of this may be implementing green practices, reducing inefficiency in high energy consumption, and the like.  A very successful green consulting company in Kansas City, Small Planet Partners, is an environmentally-sound profitable business located in our own backyard.

  1.  Outsourcing

As businesses continue to cut costs, outsourcing service providers have become a sought-after business.  Small business operations and startup errands have become high-priority and in the long run, become astonishingly profitable.

  1.  Everything Organic

Whether it’s organic food, organic clothing, or even organic grocery bags, the word “organic” is all the rage, which can result in a profitable and successful small business idea.  Organic products are in high demand and offering an organic version of your own niche can provide a startup with small business success.

Parisi Artisan Coffee is dedicated to making organic coffee and sustaining the environment–that’s combining two great business ideas into one!
  1.  Internet-Related Services

Starting up a web hosting company is not only a brilliant 2010 business idea, but it also is cheap.  An Internet startup usually costs no more than $500, yet it can make you $2,000 or more per month.  Some more niche-oriented business ideas for the Internet include web design business, SEO/link building services, and social media marketing businesses.  Kansas City’s new small business, Something Creative Inc., provides focused online marketing resources for other small businesses who need help with Internet-related services.

  1.  Green Construction

Much like the organic fad and the increased demand for green consultancy, green construction is another profitable 2010 business idea.  Green homes and buildings are in high demand and have started to gain momentum in construction business trends.

  1.  DIY Green Energy

Along the same lines as green construction is the small business idea of DIY (Do It Yourself) green energy.  By providing a startup business that advocates the importance of green energy, for example, through wind or solar energy, you are giving customers a high-demand product and saving the planet.  Not only is DIY green energy a profitable business idea, but it is also a sustainable one.

  1.  White Label Fundraising

White label fundraising is when a small business partners with non-profit organizations and charities to provide a chance for someone to raise funds or his or her favorite charities or non-profits without the hassle of resource management and reporting.  An online Kansas City white label fundraising business is DealBug, in which deals and discounts are offered to customers and when they pay for the deal, a portion goes to the charity of their choice.

  1.  Freemium-Based Business

Freemium is a business model (mainly for online businesses) that allows free but limited access to a product or service in which a premium is charged if you want a full-featured access (like Twitter and Flickr).

  1.  Personalized Products and Services 

Personalized products are all about specifications—they feel special and everyone likes them.  There is a growing interested in everything personalized.  Startup businesses with design-your-own, make-your-own or choose-your-own products and services are a profitable business opportunity.  The many self-serve frozen yogurt shops, such as Orange Leaf, that have been popping up all over Kansas City are a great example of personalized products and services.  Orange Leaf promises to promote community and family by providing great tasting, sensible frozen desert made just for you, by you.
Believe it or not, it’s never too late to start up your own new business.  Use one of these smart 2010 business ideas and you will may have a new company up and running by January 1st!

Revisiting the Communicative Event

Another post-Cologne article…

During the workshop, we talked some about customizing training.  But following the discussions within some of the groups, there seemed to be some uncertainty over communicative events.  In general, I thought this idea had spread so far through conferences and blog posts that most trainers understood.  Or maybe it is just so ingrained in my training that I can’t see training without it.

Let’s look quickly at customization.  We can customize a course/lesson at several levels.

A slide I didn’t use in Cologne, but probably should have.

At the top level is the skill (e.g. write a report, lead a meeting).  I don’t really see this as customization.  Sure, we can give the skills various priorities and/or remove a skill completely, but this is still course book territory.

Below that is a skill to perform a certain function.  For presentations, that might be to persuade, introduce, report, etc.  Most course books have taken lessons to this level and include different sections for different types of meetings.  This is nice but we’re really counting on the fact that the course book author hit the nail on the head.

My default level of customization is on the specific event, which includes contextual information (but is still largely content neutral).  For example, writing emails to request information, making a telephone call to confirm arrangements, etc.

Finally, I will customize to what I call the ‘ESP’ level which includes content.  This is usually accompanied by more corpus analysis.

If you look through the levels, the assessment criteria change considerably from one level to the next.  Moving to each level requires that the participants have more uniform needs.  My general rule is to customize to the lowest level, and approach the next level outside of the group.  If the client isn’t willing to pay for the next level, I stop.

Defining performance objectives

This has a huge impact on defining performance objectives.  If you are designing a course, only write the can-do statements to the appropriate level.  For large groups (hundreds of participants), I typically stop at the second level.  For groups which share a job function or field, I can often get to high frequency events.

The difference between a communicative event and an English situation

I am guilty of often using the terms ‘situation’ and ‘event’ interchangeably, but they are decidedly different.  A situation includes one or more communicative events.

For example, a presentation may include several communicative events.

Slide 1 – Inform management on status of a project
Slide 2 – Report on research
Slide 3 – Compare alternatives
Slide 4 – Propose a solution

This presentation may be accompanied by…
– defending an idea
– asking questions of speculation
– responding to factual questions
– eliciting opinions
– adding additional comments to presented information
– summarize an agreed decision
– delegate tasks

These generally look like a classical list of functions from a course book.  The contextual information makes them communicative events.  How many people are in the meeting and who are they?  How much time do you have?  What types of interference (or ‘noise’) are present?  These factors affect communication style, register, etc.

The same is also true for things like emails.  In well written emails, each paragraph performs a different function.  How you organize those paragraphs and the wording you use depends on the context.

As you can see, we are starting to enter the world of communication skills here.

Does a description of the situation give you the communicative events?

Yes and no.  I still use the needs analysis form I mentioned at BESIG Stuttgart (blog post), but it takes some further questioning and analysis to get to the communicative events.  I typically do this by asking a series of questions to describe the ‘steps’ of the situation.  I may draw a diagram of the situation on the board and ask about the participants, objectives, etc.

Back to sourcing materials… this is where getting a look at artifacts can be really helpful.  Without question, some background in business really helps in ‘visualizing’ a situation and dissecting it into its various communicative events.

I have found that there is considerable overlap among communicative events.  This is true among different fields, job descriptions and channel (email, telephone, meeting, etc.).  The interlocutors are generally the same (i.e. the learner communicates with a certain group) and the purpose of the communication is often similar.  For example, adding a comment to a pdf report written by a colleague is often identical to adding a verbal comment in a meeting.  However, if the report/presentation is by a manager or someone external to the company, the language changes.

Is there a list of communicative events?

Not yet.  If there were, it would probably look like a matrix.

We can assume that there are a definite number of functions.  We can also assume that there are definite number of contextual combinations.  Theoretically then, there is a relatively fixed number of communicative events.  It may then be possible to somehow create a database which takes contextual information and matches it with the purpose of communication to spit out the best possible language.

Life inside a virtual team: Communication, language and culture

 I have had the opportunity to work in or observe countless virtual teams over the past 15 years. From the military, an online degree program and my in-company work, it is clear that virtual team communication is a critical component of success in international organizations.

Over the past two years, I have largely specialized my training to deal with the unique challenges virtual teams face.

So let’s look at a few of the key factors which support or hinder communication in virtual teams.

1.  Technical Skills

The members of a virtual team must master a range of technical applications to communicate effectively. Often this is taken for granted and the team members have only a superficial knowledge of communication tools.  Additionally, team members tend to rely on communication methods they use to enhance face-to-face communication in the local workplace (dear email, I am talking about you).

Here are some examples of technical skills which can support better virtual communication. But of course, this is not all.

  • Use all the tools in virtual meeting software (and no, companies do not use Skype).
  • Create PowerPoint slides which are designed to be read and not presented. This includes things like inserting documents and objects into slides, drastically changing formatting, etc.
  • Create and manage an organized document library, including naming standards, types, searchability, etc.
  • Use graphics tools like MS Visio to create diagrams (preferably those linked to data).
  • Troubleshoot and diagnose technical issues like bandwidth limitations, audio and video problems, etc.
  • Create and maintain a team website/portal in applications like SharePoint or SalesForce
  • Use the complete functionality of Outlook

2.  Communication Channels

Understanding communication channels within organizations has always been an important part of collaboration and communication in teams, but it is especially important in virtual groups. I notice that virtual team members and managers do not completely understand the communication channels within their organization or how to change them.

Employees talk about long (or non-existent) feedback loops quite often without understanding the communication exact ‘workflow’. Virtual team members typically complain about lack of information without seeing the number of stops between the origin of the information and their location in the social network.

A lack of understanding of how information flows through the team leads to unnecessary and unproductive meetings, massive communication overhead among network nodes, and a lack of information transparency among the team. The result is often redundant work and even unproductive affective conflicts between team members.

3.  Stages of Team Development and Team Dynamics

Many managers these days are trained in team building and educated in how teams change over time.  But in reality I see a couple of things happening. First, virtual groups evolve into teams and aren’t expressly formed. For example, a team in India begins as an ‘internal supplier’ for a team in the US. The Americans send clearly defined workpackages to the Indians, which are then completed and sent back as deliverables. But over time, the two groups start working more closely together and eventually collaborate on a new product innovation jointly. The result is a team. The manager and the team members likely didn’t even feel the change because it happened gradually and we cannot point to specific formation.

Second, managers attempt to copy team development strategies from their co-located teams in the past. They organize kick-offs and team building activities. They create team rituals and talk a lot about values and mindset. This is valuable of course, but virtual team development faces some unique challenges the managers and members are unprepared for. Especially in building trust, the written word of email leaves a lot of space for misinterpretation and I see that virtual teams move a slower through Tuckman’s stages than co-located colleagues.

4.  Culture

Everybody likes talking about culture these days and I can see why. After all, you can explain nearly any misunderstanding or awkward moment simply by saying, “It must be the culture.” But let’s take a step back here for a moment and look at this sentence for the cop out it really is. From my observation, nearly all misunderstanding and awkward moments are caused by something other than culture.

  • Okay, so he didn’t respond to you email. – Not culture, he’s busy and you’re not a priority.
  • She always goes off on a tangent. – Guess what… she does that with everyone.  Not culture.
  • They are always very direct. – Well, they are working in a second language and the meeting is only 30 minutes long. They are trying to avoid a misunderstanding and get things done. Not culture (well, okay some might say there is some culture here).

Now, I am not saying that culture does not play a role in virtual teams. I am sure it does, but let’s not place the culture label on everything. One problem with culture is the national culture idea. Research like Hofstede and Trompenaars is based on huge sample sizes to draw conclusions about values, tendencies and behaviors. But in virtual teams we are talking about individuals with distinct backgrounds, goals and personalities.

My clients don’t need to know how to convince ‘Germans’, they need to know how to convince Anja, Thomas and Hans. I’m not advocating the abolition of country-specific culture training, but it should certainly include a large warning label, “Some or all of this may not apply to the person you are talking to. If in doubt, get to know the person.” Character assumptions are the fastest way to make someone not like you.

There is another aspect of culture which plays a role: company culture. Employees are sick of hearing about it because I think every company in the world is trying to refine it, change it or implement it. They are largely numb to the whole topic, but there is a certain ‘way of doing things’ in companies and departments. Organizations have values, methods and rituals. If you want to improve communication in a virtual team, it might be helpful to look at how it works in the local offices, not a generalization about the whole country. (I have been guilty of this in the past… lesson learned.)

5.  Communication Norms

Building on points 2, 3 and 4, we come to communication norms.  Communication norms consist of agreements on channels, methods and formats. At the lowest level we are talking about terminology. At an organizational level we are talking about the project communication plan. Somewhere in between we look at things like slide templates, forms, collaborative document set up, standards for correspondence, meeting agendas, etc.

The local team members come into a virtual team with certain communication norms like how they report information, what meetings look like, etc.. Often, these norms are incompatible and virtual teams need to compromise their norms. At a low level, we may agree (explicitly or implicitly) on certain vocabulary and terms. At a larger level, the group may agree on norms for meeting presentations (e.g. no more than 10 minutes).

The point is that norms will emerge. The key is making sure they are appropriate for the group. One type of meeting agenda may work great in a face-to-face setting, but fall flat when we have a large virtual meeting.  That report structure may be perfect for stimulating discussion at the home office, but might not include enough information to be shared to a distributed team.

I see that managers and employees take norms for granted and several things happen.

  • The team does not discuss the norms, which results in ambiguity (no meta-communication)
  • The team adopts norms from one location which are ineffective (e.g. bad meeting styles are copied into the virtual team)
  • The team adopts norms which do not fit the communication tools and methods
  • Team members and managers do not hold others accountable when they violate the norms (e.g. no one says anything when the presenter takes too long)
6.  Language

This is typically the default diagnosis (along with culture) for why many virtual teams are underperforming. And managers and team members are not completely wrong. Communication in a second language takes more time and effort than in a first language. Meetings are longer or cover less content. Proper understanding often takes more repetition (either synchronously or via follow up correspondence). Writing takes longer, including emails, reports, documentation, etc. But where there is the will and need to communicate an idea, there is a way. Teams make it work, but it is frustrating and puts pressure on their already busy schedule. After all, project schedules and team goals are set on the assumption that worker efficiency is constant.

The magic level seems to be around B1-B2. Team members who are lower than B1 cost the team efficiency and time. Due to poor comprehension, meetings have to be slower and the communication overhead is higher for repetition and follow up. On the other side, the team suffers from their inability to contribute effectively – costing time and energy. Notice, I am talking about the communication workload on the whole team, not just the low-level speaker.

At B1 or B2, the team is generally able to coordinate action effectively if the right norms, channels and strategies are used to accommodate the distributed team set up and language burden. Groups of workers at this level are able to achieve L1-like efficiency under the right conditions. Team members in the B2-C1 levels are instrumental in helping to set up these norms. These are the team members who are best suited for moderating discussions and chairing meetings.

If there are team members above C1 or native speakers in the group, the challenge changes. As many have mentioned, the ability of high-level/native speakers to adapt to ELF is crucial. In my experience, learners come with ELF and it is not something I train. Their English has been formed by their exposure prior to the training. My job then is so simply formalize ELF as a standard and get everyone speaking the same ‘English’. If left ‘untuned’ to ELF, high-level speakers cause higher communication overhead and actually hurt the team’s efficiency. With the natural belief among language learners that greater proficiency means greater communicative skill, the realization that they are actually causing problems can be a real eye-opener.

Conclusion

I have highlighted six aspects to communication in the virtual team environment. Many Business English Trainers will be focused on the language aspect because they either do not have access to the inner workings of the organization or their mandate does not include broader communication issues. But I suspect that many trainers are willing to expand their ‘English teacher’ role if they see the opportunity to deliver added value or help solve the real communication barriers of the company.

My advice is that training experts enhance their skill set to stay one step ahead of clients in virtual team communication. This includes obtaining the technical know-how, matching reality with organizational theory, revisiting the field of communications and expanding their approach to language in the workplace. Clients will be extremely grateful for you ability to deliver greater efficiency and project success.

10 Things you should learn when starting Business English training

Just doing a little Sunday blog catch up when I came across Rachel Dew’s report from week two of her CELTA training in Berlin. It was interesting for me because she is attending the same program I finished six years ago. I thought it was (and I see it still is) a well-run program. Of course looking back, some things are more useful and some less so, but it is not a training course for Business English trainers. It is a preparation course for the more educational side of the ELT industry.

With that in mind, here are 10 things you should learn when starting work in Business English.

1. How to complete a proper needs analysis

This is the starting point with every client. There are many examples of poor needs analysis from the ELT industry. They fit into two categories: 1) those that assess the big four language skills of the reading, writing, speaking and listening; and 2) those that focus solely on the big skills of meetings, telephoning, emails, presentations and negotiations without digging deeper.  Neither will give you much information about what content to bring to the training.

International Business English communication is either event driven (often problem-related) or time driven (routine). Each time the learner needs to communicate in English, there is a clear purpose and desired outcome. The method is secondary (written, in a presentation, etc.).  I recommend either using my analysis of the communicative events or using business processes as Even Frendo has shown. They approach the same problem (why someone is communicating) from two perspectives.

2. How to teach one-to-one

Teaching one-to-one is much different than training a group. The skills for teaching one-to-one are much more closely related to coaching. The training materials needed are different, the methods are different, etc. You will also likely find yourself in very small groups (2-3) which is closer to one-to-one teaching than some of the group methods taught in teacher-training courses. Onestop English has some useful starter tips about managing the one-to-one environment.

As a further step, you may want to learn some methods coaches use to help their clients meet their goals.

3. How to design a training plan assuming fluctuating attendance

Assuming you are working with ‘in-service’ learners (I hate that term :)) you will most likely face wildly fluctuating attendance. The best you can expect in an in-company course is 80%, but 50-60% is more realistic if there is no training certificate. Do not take attendance personally, it is not completely connected to enjoyment and usefulness. It is often simply a result of the participants’ busy lives.

Because of that, you should learn how to be flexible in your course design. In general, each lesson should complete the learning objective for the session – stand-alone. Course plans need to have a more modular structure. It is generally not a good idea to assume the same people will attend next week and they will have prepared thoroughly for the training. This is one reason coursebooks are a bad idea. Books are only slightly modular by lesson (some more than others). I suspect this is to thwart photocopying.

4. How to effectively monitor and give feedback

You will quickly find that speaking is the most desired and most important language skill. Without question, people read and write a lot in their work. But they get by with dictionaries and clarification. It’s not the most efficient method, but most learners are focused on speaking.

This means you need to learn how to take effective monitoring notes. Understand the difference between fluency and accuracy speaking activities. I write my notes/monitor on different levels.

  1. Content – What are they saying? What are they talking about?
  2. Errors – Are they making mistakes they shouldn’t? Will they lead to misunderstandings or distract the purpose of communication?
  3. Gaps – What are they avoiding? Are they explaining around missing vocabulary or grammar?
  4. Emergence – Are they taking risks? What are they creating which we should share with everyone?

Giving feedback is also a skill to learn. It’s a good idea for you to process your feedback before throwing it back at the learners. It’s also nice to explain the effect of the performance (e.g. how it could cause a misunderstanding). And don’t forget the praise – put yourself in their shoes.

5. How to be flexible in the training room

Current teacher training courses stress planning on the assumption of linear course plans. Business English courses (outside of educational institutions) are rarely linear. You will find yourself helping the learners to be highly proficient at one communicative event while largely ignoring others. You will also have to respond quickly to requests or ‘just-in-time’ learning needs.

As a first step, you should develop and perfect materials-free mini-lessons for common grammar points. Grammar is by far the easiest subset to train because there are a limited number of learning points and they generally have rules. Plus, mistakes are easier to identify than gaps. The greater flexibility you have in the training room to create off-the-cuff activities, the better you can respond to needs and feedback.

6. How to write simple materials quickly

Simple materials are things like vocabulary worksheets and role-plays. You don’t need to write an entire coursebook, but you should be able to pound out a worksheet in under a half-hour. In fact, a real skill is to be able to make the worksheet in class with the participants.

Vocabulary is the main issue here. Few available materials can correctly identify the vocabulary your students need. Business communication is content high and quite specific. Publisher have to approach things from a much higher level. You will find yourself collecting dozens of words and terms (don’t forget to bring the internet) and you need to do something with them.

You will get better at writing and organizing your simple materials so that they are re-usable and easy to locate at the spur of the moment.

7. How to be a ‘model’ for skills training

Coursebook audio files are often abysmal. Many are good for listening comprehension because they bring another voice in the training room, but the modelling is often so far from reality that they border on humor. In many cases it is up to the trainer to model certain communicative events.

You will often be the chair of meetings, the presenter, the negotiating partner. You should learn how to do these things well and in the context of the their needs. If you are teaching language for leading a workshop… lead a workshop. Monitor yourself and highlight key strategies and language. And finally, make the model authentic.

8. How to find ‘target language’ from authentic materials

Authenticity and relevance are key words in Business English and they support something called transfer design, which means to design training so that it is clear and easy to transfer the skill into the workplace. The short cut for transfer is using authentic materials. Be aware that there are two types of authentic materials, those which talk about work (e.g. articles) and those which perform work (e.g. slide decks and emails). In my jargon, I use ‘authentic’ only for the latter.

If you are working in the company, it’s slightly easier to come by authentic materials than sitting in a language school. There are fewer concerns about confidentiality and it’s just logistically simpler. When mining authentic materials, it is a good idea to focus more on vocabulary (especially high frequency lexis) than on grammar. You are starting to tap the discourse community, this is only the first step on a long road. 🙂

9. How to walk and talk like someone on the same level as the participants

You will likely hear at some point that “we bring the language and they bring the business”. In other words, we don’t need to know their field (or even that it is impossible). Don’t fall into this trap. Naturally, it is not possible to be an expert in the field of the learners, but it is possible to become an ‘informed interlocutor’. This is someone who can carry on a meaningful conversation about the field and understand the concepts (and even many details) about the work. This takes time and research.

The value of becoming an informed interlocutor is that you can drive the learners into greater detail and create more realistic training. Everyday business communication is extremely content heavy and detail focused. Whenever starting work in a new field (e.g. finance or engineering), do some research about the company, processes and concepts in the industry. Seek to drive learners into greater and greater detail.

Finally, your whole presence and appearance should emulate their discourse community.

10. How to take from coursebooks without breaking copyright

Content will be one of your main concerns when starting out in Business English. Published materials are most people’s starting point. Keep in mind that while coursebooks are pedagogically sound, they are not designed with your specific participants in mind. It is also unethical (and illegal) to break copyrights. But coursebooks are extremely helpful.

First, they provide great ideas for activities, especially role-plays. One trick is to read the role-play and think about how you can perform the intent of the activity without the content, or alter the situation to better fit your participants. Plus, nearly every activity type in coursebooks can be replaced with a materials light alternative using the whiteboard, note cards, flip chart paper, etc. Deconstruct coursebook activities to find the core process and insert your own content.

Second, they are a useful resource for determining learning objectives. The table of contents is perhaps the most useful section and I like to consult several books of the same level when laying out course plans. Caution however, most books cover much more grammar than is needed by your participants. For example, if you find yourself inserting the Past Perfect into an intermediate-level course plan, make sure that is really the best use of everyone’s time for reaching their communication goals. Also, double-check the communicative events of your learners before embarking on that phrasal verb and idioms module. You can probably find something more valuable.

So, those are my top ten things to learn (and master) during your first view years in Business English.  Also, these are basically the starting points for every trend in BE including coaching, English as a Lingua Franca, materials and learner motivation. I wish you the best of luck and don’t forget to have fun.

Adding pragmatics to training: Example lesson

It’s great that the field of pragmatics is getting so much attention in Business English at the moment.  I see the Chua Suan Chong gave a presentation on the topic at IATEFL Manchester. And over the last several years, I have been talking with Ed Pegg from The London School of English about the issue, especially as it pertains to the soft-skills aspects of his training.  We see it as an important aspect of the training and perhaps something which is either misunderstood or under-represented in training.

In fact, I am not completely clear about how to integrate the ‘meaning derived from context’ into my training.  I am not educated as a linguist and my knowledge in pragmatics is less than expert to say the least.  Luckily, I have access to the Journal of Pragmatics, but my general thinking comes from Steven Pinker.

But I decided to give it a try with a controlled scenario and topic… namely giving tasks to others and politeness.  This is a good situation because the situation is easily identifiable and there are normally only two people involved.  Second, forms of politeness are probably the simplest form of altering language to fit the relationship and situation; it can done at sentence level.

The lesson

Participants:  2-6
Time:  60 minutes
Level:  B1 and above
Training aids:  whiteboard/flipchart

Training objectives:
– be able to give clear tasks and instructions which include task, method and outcome
– be able to encode the imperative based on the relationship/desired relationship with the audience
– understand how language conveys both content and interpersonal information

Method: presentation with open questions/discussion, modelling and practice

Step 1 – The structure of giving tasks

Note: This structure is based on the military standard of task, condition, standard for giving tasks/orders.

With 60 minute lessons, we don’t have a bunch of time for all that schema activation rigmarole so I tell them that we are going to look at the language for giving tasks.

I write the three steps on the board with space in between:
1.  Clear task statement
2.  Method (tools, resources, etch.)
3.  Outcome (expected result, timeline)

We talked about the consequences for productivity if one of these items is missing.  We all shared examples where one element was missing and how it could cause confusion or some mismatch between the expected outcome and the actual result.

My example: I work embedded in a team and we have worked out a standard method for giving component status updates during their weekly engineering steering meeting with the full development team.  One week, a peripheral member of the team was asked to give an update on his component.  It was a very nice presentation but it did not fit the group norm.  The standard is 1-2 slides, both of which have agreed upon templates, content and style.  The update should take 5-7 minutes with questions and discussions taking 5-10 minutes longer.  His presentation was well done but didn’t follow the template, went into too much detail and took over 20 minutes.  He not only wasted the time of others but also his own by preparing such a long slide deck.  He had been given the task, but not the method (the template) or the outcome (the group expectation).  This caused a slightly embarrassing moment as the manager had to remind him at the end of the presentation to watch the video I created with guidance and ask the others for advice on how we do things.

This is the communication skills section of the lesson.  But as a BE Trainer, my job is also to take it to the next step and break this down to sentence level.

Step 2 – Task and method verbs

The next step is to fill the steps with language.  I focus on the verbs.  I explain that some verbs make good task statements and others don’t.  We should use verbs with a clear outcome like present, report, test, make, create, design, etc.  We should not confuse them with method verbs like consider, talk to, contact, think about, discuss, use, compare, etc. which do not have a clear outcome.

This learning point often generates a little discussion because it is common practice in the company for managers to confuse the two, especially the word discuss.  Then they often wonder why there is no tangible outcome.

To close this section, I write a few example task and method sentences on the board for demonstration (in imperative form).

They practice this by giving me/their partner tasks from their work.

Step 3 – The communication model

With these established, I draw a simple sender-receiver model on the board.  I use light bulbs and binary to represent message and encoding/decoding.  I explain that in the best case the receiver’s light bulb is the same size and color as the sender’s light bulb.  To do that we encode the message, which we have just done by giving it structure and words.

But then I change marker colors and explain that we also encode messages to deal with the relationship with person.  This can be independent of the content.  I draw a second set of binary (encoding/decoding) to show this second layer of communication.

In some groups the discussion moves into eliciting feedback or getting a backbrief from the receiver to ensure the meaning has been transferred accurately.  This is a common question/problem, but it is only a secondary aim of this training session.

Step 4 – Changing politeness

Using the relationship color, we add phrases and formulations to change the imperative task and method sentences.  I add them on a continuum from most polite to more direct.  The usual suspects arrive on the board like “Would you please…” and “We would like you to…”.

The board then looks like this:

This is when things get interesting because as we increase in politeness, the formulations move from command form into either requests or suggestions.  It starts the longest part of the lesson as we discuss and debate situations in which to use these different formulations, how they can change even with the same person, etc.

One issue we discussed at length was whether the receiver would understand the request and suggestion forms as an order, or merely an option.  In other words, would they work?  Of course the answer to that depends on the situation and whether the relationship was dominance, reciprocity or communality.

Another that came up is how relationships can shift and change.  For example, sometimes the participants and I have a reciprocal relationship, but that during this lesson, I was in a position of dominance because I was the content holder.  They were the recipients and even the setup of the room gave me the dominant position (at the board, standing, all eyes on me, note taking).  At that moment, it was perfectly acceptable for me to use the raw imperative to give them instructions.

A third issue was to discuss how the encoding is not just a product of the relationship and context, but also helps define the relationship.  We brought out examples in which the relationship is unclear, such as when they communicate with the engineers in China.  By using the imperative (or even the ‘please version’) we sending interpersonal information.  It seems to create a subordinate role for the Chinese and what happens when we want to change that role?  More importantly, how do they feel about that role?

One discussion went into learning pragmatic understanding.  We all laughed at how children do not understand the request and suggestion forms as a command.  They view it as license to do what they want.  We talked about how we knowingly teach this to our kids.  I used this as an example that we all have the ability to understand pragmatics from our native language.

Another point we discussed is dealing with low-level speakers.  We agreed that in the case of low-levels, we can use a more direct form to assist comprehension, but that we should also plant these sentences in other words/body language to convey the desired relationship information.

A final topic we discussed was how switching occurs within formalized relationships types.  For example, why do some managers encode orders to their assistance as requests even though both sides are fully aware of the dominant relationship?  This corresponds to whether the request and suggestion forms would be understood as the commands they really are.  A second example is what happens when a team member is promoted from within to lead the team.  In that case, the new leader has to ‘work down the ladder’ because an immediate use of the straight imperative can cause awkwardness and animosity.

Throughout the lesson, whenever there was uncertainty or a debatable issue, we acted out the situation at hand and gathered group feedback on how it felt and whether it was appropriate.  The task structure is very simple and requires little prep.

So as you can see, there is a lot to discuss here.  I reminded every group that the best communicators are the ones who can adeptly switch encoding depending on the situation and the audience.  Furthermore, learning these concepts helps open the door to future training in more complex situations.  I can now link this with formality, genre and tone.

So far, I have used this lesson five times.  Each one was slightly different, but I am extremely happy with the results.  The participants were fully engaged, they included repetitive practice of the learning points and I believe they now have a basic understanding of how language affects relationships.  Perhaps I have stumbled upon a nice method for bringing pragmatics into the classroom.

Small, Micro and Cottage Business Ideas

Almost everything you want to do requires some type of monetary input. If you are working for an hourly wage, you do not have much if any control over how much money you make. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people try to use a fixed income as a bargaining strategy, but unless someone owns their own business or is paid commission everyone is on a fixed income. At my regular job I am only allowed to get 40 hours a week, that is a fixed income. What I make may not be as tight as others, but it is also not as flexible as some.
What do you need to get out of debt? Build an emergency fund? Do something a little extra around the home? Just become more self reliant? You need to either cut expenses or earn more money. Say you have cut your expenses as far as you can, how can you earn more money if you are paid an hourly wage enter the small or micro business. When your sole source of income is a corporation you are at the mercy of someone else who most of the time has never met you. Having a small business can give you some security and a sense of fulfillment. So how do you start a small business or what business should you start?

What is a Small, Micro, and Cottage business?

Small Business.

A small business is actually much larger than I thought, but varies by industry. For the purpose of our discussion a small business is one that has less than 500 employees but more than 5. Individually owned (no stockholders). For profit and not dominant in their field.

Micro Business.

A micro business is less than 5 employees normally manned by family and friends usually on a part-time basis. Micro businesses are typically ran out of a home or outbuilding on an individual’s property. The average micro business requires no or little start-up capital, usually less than $35,000. Micro businesses can be either service or product based.

Cottage Business.

A Cottage Business is one that is operated from home with typically no more than 2 employees. Cottage businesses tend to be part-time in nature, but do not have to be. The focus is normally on manufacturing or production. Service type businesses are not included in the cottage business model. Knitting, sewing, honey, soaps or other body care products, and things like that tend to dominate. Most things produced in a cottage business tend to be labor intensive.

Personal inventory

Now that we have a good understanding of the types of smaller businesses, we will dive into what you will need to look at to decide what business you/we should build for ourselves. We have to take an honest look at ourselves to decide what business we might do well in.

What are your/our skills and talents?

In order to make anything a profitable business, you must lean on your strengths.  If you are really good at knitting, cooking, or sewing these may be things you could look at offering as a business. Homemade items tend to bring a premium from those who care about such things, but the items have to be quality. If you are good at teaching, you might find that teaching others the skills that you are good at may make you more money than making things and selling them.

What do you enjoy?

It doesn’t really matter how good you are at something, if you don’t enjoy it, you will not stick with it. As an example I do not like mowing the yard. Mowing the yard is my idea of absolutely nothing left to do. There are some people who truly enjoy mowing the yard. Now, I love being outside and doing a variety of things, but riding back and forth just watching grass fly is not fun for me. If I were going to start a new business, I would not start a lawn care business. I might start a landscaping business and subcontract out the mowing part, but I do not want to have to spend several days a week mowing.

What tools do you have now?

If you are wanting to start a business and not go into any debt in the process, you will have to use what you have on hand now. If you are really good at construction or repair and you have some basic tools, this is something that you could start anytime you wanted. If you are thinking about going into lawn care and you only have a push mower, you could start your business, but the operations of the business would be greatly restricted by your equipment. The equipment you have will help you determine either what business you wish to start or how soon you could start your business.

Local Laws

Okay, this one is a biggie. You will have to talk to someone at your local courthouse to determine what laws will apply to your new business idea. There are some cities that are very anti small/micro business. There have been cities that have shut down bake sales for local nonprofit organizations because they did not purchase the proper permits. Police have shut down children’s lemonade stands. Officials have confiscated and/or destroyed garden produce because licenses were not in order all under the guise of trying to make sure people are safe. Um okay.

Common Law Issues

If you are a good cook and enjoy doing so you might want to start a business where you cook for those who are physically impaired. You may find that it is illegal for you to cook meals in your home and take them to your customers, but perfectly legal for them to hire you to cook those meals in their home.
In certain cities and communities you may learn that in order to be paid to cut someone’s grass you have to attend a class and be certified as a lawn care technician. There is a community not far from where I live in which that is the case, oh and the class is $300.00 a year. If you are just wanting to make a little side money that alone could knock that idea out. Ask questions, learn as much as you can or you could face fines. You may learn that you live in an area where everything is regulated. I hope not, but it does happen.

Location, Location, Location

This is just a fact of life. Where you live determines some of the types of businesses that you can start. The higher the population density and socioeconomic scale your area is the easier it will be to start a micro or cottage business. I am not saying that if you are very rural you cannot start a business. What I am saying is the more rural you are might determine some businesses unfeasible and will mean that you may have to work harder to create a market or that you will have to deal with distribution on a larger scale that someone who is suburban or urban.
Pet sitting or baby sitting businesses tend to do well in suburban environments. If you were to try to start a pet sitting business in a very rural area, it could quickly turn into a temporary farm hand business. Nothing wrong with doing  temporary farm hand work if that is what you like, but the business will change based on where you are.

Low or No Cost Business Ideas

We are going to talk about as many low or no cost business ideas as I can come up with. For the purpose of this discussion a low start up cost business is one that can be started for less than $500. This price will include all initial capitol equipment, advertising, and if necessary licences. Since I am including licences this list will vary greatly based on your local government’s greed.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitting can be a great micro business. Pet sitting tend to have the least regulations and can be advertised with word of mouth fairly easily. Initial start up cost very small if any. Of course you have to like animals and you have to be willing to welcome small pets into your home. Things to consider:
  • Get to know the animal. The last thing you want is to agree to keep a dog or cat in your home only to find out that the animal is not friendly or even worse the animal is a biter. Being bitten by a small dog hurts. It hurts bad. If you have children you will need to know if the animal likes children.
  • The animal’s veterinary information. If something were to happen you will need to know where to take the animal.
  • If the animal has to go to the vet who will pay? It is really bad to get paid $10.00 a day (or whatever) only to have the animal get sick and you wind up owing hundreds of dollars of veterinary expenses.
  • The animal’s health history. If a pet requires medicine or has allergies, you need to know.
  • Contracts. Sorry but if you are going to do much pet sitting you will need a good contract. This will detail how long the pet will be with you, the payment terms, what to do in case the pet needs medical attention, what you will do with the pet if it is abandoned, and a lot more. You can have an attorney draw up a contract for you or you can create your own Here. If you only pet sit for family and friends you may not need this, but trust me. I have had a pet left with me and had to find it another home.
  • Do a little extra. If you really want to make a name for yourself pet sitting, do something a little extra. It could be something as simple as brushing out the pet or even bathing the pet. Taking the extra step will really get your customers talking.

Baby Sitting

What was once only thought of as a part-time job for teenage girls has turned into a business in many areas of the country. Like pet sitting word of mouth is your best advertisement and there is very little start-up costs. Things that need to be considered are: Will you be keeping the children in your home or the home of the parents? How late will the parents be out? What do they expect you to do while you are taking care of their children? You must have contact information and know any allergies the children have. Being certified in CPR is a big plus.
Like pet sitting, do a little extra. If keeping the children in their home this could be washing the dishes after you have feed the children or just cleaning up the living room a little. This will leave a lasting impact.

House Cleaning

You will need a fairly affluent market in order for this to be feasible. As people’s schedules continue to fill with all kinds of things many are finding less and less times to do things at home. I have known several people who hired individuals to clean their homes. This does not require much to get started, just an attention to detail and a little bit of OCD. Most times you will be using supplies that are provided by the homeowner. The only extra things you will need are the specialty cleaning items that you must have.

Garden or Farm Produce

I have never produced so many chicken eggs that I couldn’t sell them all, but I have produced so much squash that I couldn’t give it away. With farm produce you have to be smart. If everyone with a garden produces something in your area, you are not going to make a lot of money producing that item. Squash and zucchini are good examples, not everyone likes them and those that do can grow them fairly easily. These produce in such abundance that if you have three plants you will be trying to get rid of squash and zucchini.
Anything having to do with animals can do well as a small business. Eggs at least around here are a very easy sell. Raising chickens for meat has also done really well locally. Selling hogs, beef cattle, raw milk, quail, you name it, can do really well. There can be a start-up cost but it doesn’t have to be high. If you have the room this can be an idea for you. Remember to check local laws. Here in Alabama if you sell raw milk it must be labeled Not For Human Consumption.
Economies of Scale. With many businesses you will run into something called economies of scale. What economies of scale means is that as you produce more of an item or type of item, the cost of production for each additional item goes down. Why is this the case? Once you have your capital investments done you do not have to do that again. Your fixed costs are set.

Handyman

If you are a decent carpenter or good at repairs you probably already have your tools. This type of small business can be as big or as small as you like. In many areas basic repairs are not regulated. If you can do basic plumbing and/or basic electrical you could be in good. Plumbing and electrical tend to be more regulated than basic carpentry.

Teaching

If you excel at a skill that others would like to learn, teaching can be an awesome side business. Crafting makes for easily started classes. Knitting, sewing, cooking, and several more do well. I have taught several classes over the years. I have taught basic dog obedience, tracking, competition obedience, foraging, and am now teaching basic preparedness courses. Teach something you are passionate about.

Homemade Items

I am continually astounded by the growing interest in homemade beauty care and homemade cleaning products. I know several people who are making a nice side income making lip balms and beauty care products. This is something that my wife and I are going to do this summer. Not to sell, we just want to move away from all of the chemicals.

Medium Level Initial Investment

All of these can still be a micro business, but can be scaled up or down dependent on the demand. For us medium level initial investment means over $500. These can still be a small family operation.

Welding

If you have the skill, this is a great business, especially if you have a mobile welding unit. Welding is a skill that if you do well you can be in high demand. I have personally paid someone to weld for me because I did not have the equipment.

Elite Services

In the past I have owned and operated two businesses that could be called elite services. What do I mean by elite services? Services that are only used on special occasions that would be considered a luxury. A limousine service would fall into this category but would have a very high initial investment.
Dove Releases. You may have seen one of these. They normally occur at either weddings or funerals. White “doves” are released either from a cage or a basket. They fly around, look real pretty an then go home. Here is a little secret. The white doves that are released at these ceremonies are actually white homing pigeons. Pigeons breed like rats so it is easy to expand your release business. I started out with 3 pairs and by the time I sold the birds I had 20 and some of the birds that were released didn’t make it home. Make sure that you purchase birds that are less than 6 months old. If you purchase birds much older than that as soon as you let them out of their loft they will go to their previous home and the owner can keep them or sell them again. Sorry I don’t have any photos of my old business, but I can tell you I have been out of this business for about 12 years and I got a call the other day asking if I still did releases.
You can learn more about purchasing white homing pigeons at The American White Dove Release Association.  I used the old Department of War training guide you can find that HERE.   Oh, by the way. Do not do a release on opening day of dove season. Very few will make it home. Trust me I know.
Carriage Service. This one can be a fairly large initial investment, but if you hustle can make some good money. I purchased my carriages from Robert’s Carriages in Canada. At the time they were very affordable and delivered right to my farm. I charged $300 for two hours for a wedding and did things like proms, festivals and parades. Not only did this provide me a good income while I was going to school, I was able to sell the business when I was ready to get out of the business. I was able to find some old photos of the carriage service.
Here are my words of warning on a carriage service.
  • Have a good contract. I have had to stand in the rain for hours waiting on a wedding to end, that by the way ended late, very late. Oh and I got a $1.00 tip
  • Presentation is everything. If you are not good at decorating learn. Some wedding parties will want to decorate themselves, have something in the contract about additional non riding hours.
  • Have a cancellation policy.
  • Require a deposit
  • Decide where you will offer your services. When I was running the carriage service, I covered all of North Alabama. At one time I had to have business licenses in 6 cities all in the same year. Research is key.

Final Thoughts

If this a complete list? Oh no. This list could go on forever. Figure out what people want or need and be able to give it to them. Your creativity and drive will help ensure your success. Just because you run into roadblocks does not mean your business is a bad idea.

STARTING A BUSINESS: BASIC SMALL BUSINESS STEPS & BUSINESS IDEAS

INTRODUCTION

Having series of headache in starting a business or probably you don’t know how, where and when to start your business or perhaps you lack small business ideas with this article you can find out about small business ideas and the basic steps required to start a business. It will also give you insight to what plan you need to come-up with and the kind of personality you need to put-up to start your own business. Am pretty sure you will find this article as an antidote to your headache of starting a business or solving business ideas puzzle.

Assess Yourself: Do you have what it takes to start a business? I must confess to you, starting a business as pros and cons. The sad story about starting a business is that it consumes substantial part of your time, your social life, and family relationship. Despite all of these huge sacrifices, it’s a fact that most small business ideas fail within three (3) years of operation. To cap it all, many small businesses who manage to survive the first three (3) years of operation do not realize their return on investment for several years. But the good news is that if you’re able to survive this great hurdle, you’ll get your financial freedom, job security and also, be an employer of labour in return. What a self-actualizing venture. Hence, you really need to access yourself, if you’re truly ready to cross this great hurdle. How do you get to know if you’re truly ready on starting a business mission? Watch out for what you have passion for, What educational qualification do you have, Does your current job experience merge whatever business ideas you’re putting up, Do you have an insight to the financial risk, and more questions to ask.

Identify a Business opportunity: It is quite important to spot marketopportunity so as develop business ideas & to kick start a business. You need to know how and where to find those opportunities so as take advantage of them. Spotting opportunities is not just enough but the readiness and capability to annex the opportunities is the key thing/factor towards starting a business.

Prepare a Business Plan: Preparing a business plan is an important toolkit in starting a business because it enables you to understand your business, what gap exist in the industry/market you’re about entering. It gives room for you to understand how to put the business together. In fact, business plan is a key factor towards starting a business because it gives you room to draw out the business road map in concrete terms, monitor the progress of the business and it enables you to spot your core competencies and competitive advantage. Starting a business could be fun and easy to start but the problem lies in sustaining the business from pre-mature collapse. A business plan forces you to review/evaluate your market plan, financial plan, market gap, available resources and capabilities, projected sales and also help to hold oneself to be accountable for the business finance.

Prepare Marketing Plan: Marketing plan is an important tool in starting a business, after coming up with your business plan next on board is to focus attention on specific products or services that meets the need of your target market. A hindrance to starting a business is the ability to differentiate yourself from existing players in the industry. At this stage, you must be committed towards valuable process, audience building mechanism, prospective customer/client loyalty. To be frank with you, without customers/clients, your business will not survive.

Finance your Business: Like people around me will say in Yoruba Language, “Enu didun, kin ro efo” meaning – You can’t use sweet mouth to cook vegetable soup. After having a well taught out business plan and strategy, you must also pay attention to your source of finance either through personal savings, bank loan, equity share capital, or through venture capitalist, etc.

You have to take the right decision in a bid to starting a business so that you will not fail even before kick starting a business. In our next article, we shall be writing on how to get business grant.

Other things you need to consider in starting a business includes Business name registration and all other regulatory bodies in the line of business you’re about to start.

Also, in starting a business you must give special consideration to proper book-keeping and most importantly, you must be cautious about all the necessary taxation issues such as VAT, Income Tax, etc. These basic requirements must be met if truly you want to start a business and if your business is prone to high risk or is vulnerable, you should consider insuring your business.
Final word: Starting a business is an interesting adventure and a prestigious surgeon. If truly you want to start a business, you must be determined to succeed no matter what hurdles you face and all sort of discouragement from friends, employees and families. You should have a never die spirit and I can assure you starting a business decision will be the best decision you’ll ever take in your lifetime.

Five Reasons to Consider a Communications System Upgrade

Brands like Polycom are offering cutting-edge communications systems and hubs for their lowest prices in the history of the industry, but is now the time to consider an upgrade? After all, if the current system in place seems to be doing its job ok, what’s the point in undertaking an upgrade?

Here’s a look at five reasons why now really is the time to consider speaking to Polycomor any other leading communications specialist about a system upgrade:
To Simplify Your Communications
You might expect that a significant upgrade to your communications system would make things way more difficult for you and those using it, but in practice this really isn’t the case. In fact, the primary motive behind brands like Polycomwhen it comes to creating these devices and hubs is to simplify everything you do. There’s no lengthy training required, no skills necessary and more often than not everything you could ever need is no more than the push of a button away. Comparatively speaking, today’s remaining analogue telephone systems are actually infinitely more complicated.
To Enjoy More Features
If you’re operating your business today and are settling for features that only go as far as call waiting, caller ID and maybe a rudimentary answerphone service, you’re selling yourself short to say the least. When it comes to the most advanced VoIP services on offer for businesses today, there are literally no limits and no rules when it comes to the feature you can make use of for the lowest prices. From complex diverts to automatic responses to multiple answering services and so many more besides, it has literally never been easier to operate a world-class communications hub for minimal costs.
To Expand Your Reach 
For any business that’s never considered reaching out to international clients and audiences due to cost concerns, an upgraded communication system could be the answer. The reason being that services which use the internet as opposed to standard phone lines and networks will more often than not charging the same low rates regardless of whether you’re chatting by phone to a person down the road or conference calling a group on the other side of the world. When it comes to branching out, cutting-edge communications provisions are a must.
To Improve Your Consistency 
And then of course comes the importance of consistency of communications. Even if the majority of the work you do is carried out offline, this doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk of losing an abundance of business and customer faith during the times your dated communication systems let you down.
To Cut Your Costs 
Last but not least, an upgrade that takes the business a thousand steps in the right direction can also lead to immense savings the likes of which can then be reinvested in more profitable areas. Modern business communications systems demand minimal equipment and little more than a stable internet connection to bring an astonishing range of high-quality features into any office of any size. And as far as subscription charges go, there’s really no comparison between the conventional and the future-ready.

Get Algebra Help from Online Tutors

Algebra is the most troublesome subject indeed. students have to deal with it if they want finish in their school life. That is understandable enough since you might also remember how hard you are dealing with algebra so long time ago. If you have to get the help from your family to do your algebra then, now you should not worry anymore since there are many algebra experts will help solving college algebra equations. You might find that algebra is something that you will not want to face when you get the assignments from your teachers. Yet, you will have no choice rather than just to do your algebra assignments when you have to go to school.
That is your duty as a student and you have the privilege to do algebra so that you can do your assignments skillfully after you have become used to do algebra. Unfortunately, not all people have this reaction when they have to do algebra. They mostly find that this is a hard lesson that they have to deal with and sometimes they just do not get it. In this situation then you will need to have tutors that will help you with your algebra. There are many online tutors that can assist you to do your assignments. Without the help from your tutors you might not have your assignments finished on time. It is just so hard for you to do it without getting a help from anyone. When you should look for it from your family then it will be impossible. They have no experience to do algebra for you. You will have your online tutors ready for you whenever you need them. This is why it is easier for you to get help from these people rather than from your family or friends. With their flexible schedule then you can arrange it as you like.

 

Online Business Marketing System-5 Super Tips to build a powerful Marketing system!

A powerful Online Business Marketing System Is like a unstoppable rocket!

What does this really mean? As a matter of fact, I’m glad you asked this question. Everything a rocket does is flying higher and higher, lose some unwanted luggage and then to deploy themselves when the destination is reached.

Ultimately, that’s what you want your online business marketing system to be like. Start fighting the slowness in the first time and then lose overtime and then eventually all the unwanted things to where you want to be your income. Here is the 5 tips to get you there faster.

1) the expert you want to be. Actually most people think their marketing plans should be something similar to that of the current top marketers out there. You don’t, just yourself and market your business if you want to your personality, people of your stature will be attracted to you anyway.

2) Develop a sense of human know-how. You are only as good as the way you deal with others and this is especially true in this online business. Visitors who come to your website and information from you to try are only able to be so personal you trust are you personal and know how to act from real people.

3) Automation Is actually a by Product. The value is True. You should use certain software and tools in your online business marketing system implemented but your automation must be considered as a secondary focus. What you want is to develop a kind of marketing system that anyone can copy.

4) Outsource everything but yourself. I see some marketers parade themselves to be self-professed gurus but in fact the content of the products or services they personally did not create. This is not good, because people know who wrote the content when it comes to online marketing. Really only the more mundane tasks such as order and outsource.

5) Know your audience well. No, this is not the same as item 2 but if you want to understand what I mean, here it is. A savvy online business marketing system will first begin to look for their biggest challenge perspectives or problems in a particular topic that you’re good at. Then, provide the solution to these problems in exchange for a price.
Essential points to consider

Maybe one of the other most important aspects of being able to create a truly robust online business marketing system is really good at what you do. Then, the market only to the most relevant audience who are interested in what you have to offer.

If you want to know more about online marketing? Download this free report: Secrets of Marketing Online [http://www.simple-riches.com]

Vern how is a webmaster, author and web traffic generation expert. His website currently serves more than 4,500 unique visitors per month.

How to Help Your Team Use Social Media Productively

Social media is all about connection and networking, but it’s also distraction and procrastination in their finest, pixelated forms.

Help your team use social media productively with these tips.

Define the End Goals for Social Media Use

Who’s doing what, and why?

Social media professionals know that without clear goals, social media use becomes a chaotic mess of button-clicking and key-tapping. You have to know what you’re attempting in order to know if you’re getting close.

What are the end goals for social media in your business and for your team?

Define these and you are giving your team members a way to quickly determine if their use of social media is helping to reach those goals.

Discuss Limits for Social Media Use

Defining goals and assigning roles will help your team members know how to use social media in a productive way… that is, in a way that is helping them to reach those goals.

For some, social media use is great for a few minutes in the morning and in the afternoon, for a couple of status updates a day, for a distraction on break time or for those five-minute intervals in between meetings.

For others, social media may require more intensive time and input: a few hours crafting updates, researching analytics, finding or creating great content to share.

Discuss how the over-arching goals – and each person’s role in helping reach those goals – necessitate different limits on social media for each person. Then ask your team members to set their own limits, as appropriate.

Encourage Real Breaks

Taking regular breaks is actually great for productivity. But a ten-minute break of browsing Facebook doesn’t come with the same mental and physical payback of a ten-minute brisk walk outside, or chat and cup of tea with a coworker.

However, our social norms and work environments often surreptitiously encourage the wrong kind of break: the social media, mind-numbing kind. It’s easy to pull up a new tab and idle away five minutes, and no one looks unproductive because they’re still staring at their computers.

But leaving the office to go for a ten-minute walk?
Asking a coworker to step down to the lobby for a cuppa and quick chat?

That’s not easy to “get away with.” You can’t disguise that sort of behavior as real work, the way you can with social media binging.

The answer is to encourage real breaks instead of making your people feel like they need to pull them off on the sly.

Education over Enforcement

You can make all sorts of rules about social media, and some of them might be really great rules. Really effective.

Knowledge is the real power, though, and educating people works a lot better than enforcing rules.

You don’t want to waste time having endless round-table discussions about social media and its effect on our productivity. You do want to help your team understand how social media can be either a powerful tool or a deadly distraction, based on their use.

To help educate your team, you can

share articles, studies, and data
ask for their own insight and experience
talk about apps and extensions that streamline social media
set up reminders of social media goals
continue to encourage real breaks
call in a professional to teach techniques for social media use
find the expert on your team and ask for help.

The Habit of Asking

One small but powerful habit can help your team more than anything else. It’s a simple question that each person asks and then answers:

“What am I doing right now?”

It’s the question to ask anytime someone wakes up mindlessly surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, lost in Reddit or Twitter. It’s the question to ask when one project or task is over and people are hanging out in that dangerous dead space before the next project begins.

“What am I doing right now?” is a simple but powerful question when asked and then answered, immediately and honestly.

“I’m looking at pictures of other people’s lives.”
“I’m reading stupid articles about celebrities.”
“I’m searching for a good joke to share.”
“I’m trying out photo filters.”
“I’m trying to think of a clever status update.”

When your people learn to ask and answer that question, they can’t ignore what they’re doing. Or not doing.

In some cases, what they are doing is perfectly legitimate, and they can feel good about that:

“I’m posting my daily update to our company Facebook page.”
“I’m sharing news from the conference I attended.”
“I’m live-tweeting this event.”
“I’m editing product photos.”
“I’m finding great content to share with our followers.”

When you and your whole team know what the social media goals are and get in the habit of thinking about how to use social media well, you get productive social media use.

How to Pull Your Team Together After a Crisis

It might be a merger, a buy-out, company-wide restructuring, a round of layoffs, or an industry-wide economic plummet that’s left your team reeling. Or perhaps it’s something on a smaller scale: an unexpected firing or resignation, the loss of a key client, or a project that exploded in everyone’s faces.

Whatever the crisis, you’ve survived it, but now you’ve got a team of war-weary, discouraged team members looking to you.

Here’s how you can help your team pull together again.

Don’t Ignore the Crisis

One of the worst things you could do as team leader is simply act as if nothing has happened.

Unfortunately, team leaders who are uncomfortable with conflict or unsure of how to talk about a crisis may take this route. What happens, however, is that your team members feel betrayed and abandoned. By ignoring the effects of the crisis or acting as if nothing has happened, you’re sending a clear message: Deal with this yourself. You’re on your own.

That’s not the message you want to send, of course.

Instead, talk through what happened. You do need to exercise leadership: don’t allow a negativity fest, a big round of poor-me stories, a finger-pointing session, or any sort of personal attack.

Honestly recap what happened. Acknowledge the crisis and how it has affected the team: “We’ve just endured a round of layoffs that were extremely stressful for everyone, and we’ve lost three team members. We’re feeling skittish and sad, we miss our team members, we don’t know how we’re going to do our job without them, and we’re wary of how things will work going forward.”

Get Input from Your Team

Give your team time to offer their own insights and opinions.

Perhaps you’re most worried about how your smaller team will handle a workload, while your team members are paralyzed with fear over losing their own positions. Talking about the crisis will help you to deal with unnecessary fears or anxieties and note which major issues need fresh solutions.

Ask for insight, if appropriate, into why the crisis occurred in the first place. If your team missed an important deadline that jeopardized the entire company’s operations, now is the time to talk about why it happened and how you, as a team, can prevent it from happening in the future.

As the team leader, don’t shy away from responsibility, even if much of the situation was out of your control. Own the responsibility, and don’t tolerate blaming and attacking from team members.

Develop a Plan of Action

Move your team’s attention to how you will move forward from this point.

Start with encouragement. You don’t have to have the answers, but you can assure your team that you’ll work together to figure things out.

Avoid the temptation to hand the responsibility off to the team and expect them to come up with all the ideas. Have some practical ideas of your own to offer. Share a few legitimate steps forward.

Let them give input as well. From the combined ideas, work with your team to form a plan of action that make the most sense for everyone involved.

Keep Your Team Informed

People feel insecure after a crisis, so keep communication flowing even more than usual. Knowledge will help your team members to feel informed and aware, which contributes to feeling secure.

Send regular team emails apprising team members of changes, updates, and new information. Be available for phone conversations and casual chats in the hallway or on social media. Be present, visible, and available. Offer open times for one-on-one meetings to help individuals tackle new roles and responsibilities.

Revisit the Core of the Team

To reestablish unity and team identity, revisit the heart of your team. What is the team vision? What is the purpose of the team? What are the values that the team shares and uses to help guide decisions and projects?

A crisis, no matter how small, shakes everyone up; your job is to help them find their foundation again. Remind your team of their purpose, their ideals, and the core methodology will help your team to function together even in new or changed situations.

How to Run Business From Home Without Losing Your Sanity

The main problem of conducting business from home is isolation, broken daily routine and lack of motivation. Here are some tips you can use to conduct your business efficiently.

1. Choose tools for work. It’s the first and foremost thing you have to do. Everything will do – from Excel sheets to complex CRM systems – just make sure you have all the information at hand and don’t forget to update it.

The latest trend is all-in-one collaboration workspaces – Bitrix24 is free and particular popular. Besides Bitrix24, there are, for example, MangoApps, Freedcamp and some other. They substitute multiple tools like Trello or Asana for project management, Slack or Yammer for inner social communication, Dropbox for sharing files, Skype for making calls and provide CRM for maintaining client database.

2. Choose a special workplace at home. You should draw clear line between work and home so that to be able to focus on business. It’ll be good also to change into work clothes.

3. Make more calls. Seriously, you won’t even notice how you become less and less social, especially if you live alone. If you have an alternative: to call or to write a letter, it’s better to make a call (with a written follow-up, of course).

4. Write a plan and always stick to it. Better print it out and have before your eyes. You can use the method of Mark Foster from his book “Do It Tomorrow”: plan all your doings and the approximate required time for them the previous day. If something unplanned turns up, put it off till the next day. Thus, by the end of the day you’ll already have a plan for tomorrow. This will help you to keep yourself together.

5. Track the time you devote to work. You can use Pomodoro timer technique (there are plenty of apps for each smartphone platform) when work process is split into short 25-minute pieces. Or just use your kitchen timer. Always start working the same time and stop working by the end of the day.

How to Use Social Networking

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If you are trying to figure out how to use social networking in today’s age, then look no further! Below you will find a simple step by step guide to get you started in social networking.

You don’t have to own a business or be marketing a particular product or service to use social networking sites. Most sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and LinkedIn) are actually designed for the regular person who just wants to socialize with friends online.

Instructions

  1. Pick one site to start with. Learning how to use social networking can be extremely overwhelming for people in the beginning. So to start, pick one site that you would like to concentrate on for now. Below is a basic description of a few of the sites and what they offer:

    Facebook – A friend based social networking site. You can share as little or as much information as you would like. Networks are formed based on your school, neighborhood, and work groups.

    Myspace – Another friend based social networking site, but this one offers many benefits for musical groups. Myspace allows music to play on your personal page, you also can upload pictures and other personal information.

    Twitter – A short 140 character based platform. You use these short “tweets” to discuss current events, social topics, your life or business, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

    LinkedIn – Used more for business connections. This social networking site helps get your business known in more than 200 countries. You build a virtual contact network to help increase your business contacts.

  2. Sign up for an account. Once you have decided on the first social networking site you would like to use. The next step in how to use social networking is getting your account. This is usually very quick and requires you to set up a username and corresponding web address for you social networking page. You will need to use your own email to verify the account before you can proceed to use your new social networking page.
  3. Set up your profile. Depending on which site you choose to start your social networking with, this process could be extremely short or much more difficult.

    It is best to keep things simple in the beginning. Add a profile picture and some brief information about you or your business. If you are using Myspace or Facebook you may also want to add your school, hometown, and employer information to help you connect with old friends.

  4. Increase your friends. The key to how to use social networking is to continually grow your friends lists. This can be done simply by adding a friend when you are on their page. Here are some general tips to growing your friend base in these four social networking sites:

    Facebook – The easiest way to gain friends on facebook is by finding people you know. As you continue to update your page you will likely find more and more people you know or who are in your network of friends.

    Myspace – This social networking site is more flexible in who you become friends. You don’t need to be friends with one of their friends to add people on Myspace.

    Twitter – It is more important to have others following you than to have you follow hundreds of people on twitter. The key to gaining followers on this social networking page is to continually have useful or entertaining updates. It is also important to interact with your fellow ‘Tweeple’.

    LinkedIn – Is based on the principle “It’s who you know”. You have to actually know a contact or be introduced to a contact before they will be added to your network.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_5847180_use-social-networking.html

How to Become a Social Media Manager

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Social media managers help companies transition into the modern way of doing business, forming relationships with clients or customers and marketing the company. Social media is a relatively new business function, and many people who have become experts in social media are self taught. People interested in social media management can learn through webinars, college courses or books. Becoming a social media manager might be a natural fit from someone with a technology, marketing or corporate relations background.

Instructions

  1. Take a social media course or “boot camp” that teaches best practices on how to use social sites such as Facebook and Google-plus, blogging, email marketing campaigns and Twitter. Several companies offer the boot camps in different locations throughout the country. Social media courses are offered by some colleges and universities, especially in their adult education courses.
  2. Maintain social media sites for yourself or someone else, such as a company or nonprofit organization, to demonstrate your abilities. This would include building a profile you could use on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In profiles and updating information on those sites.
  3. Create, post and update a blog either for yourself or someone else to demonstrate your ability to write and maintain a blog. Include keywords and photos in the blog that will help your audience find the blog on search engines using Search Engine Optimization.
  4. Take a course or even a degree program in marketing, journalism or similar discipline at a local college. Social media is an important piece of the marketing campaign and a social media manager has to understand how the social media efforts are integrated into the company’s marketing campaign so that the company’s message remains consistent through all marketing efforts.

How to Start a Social Networking Website

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Social networking websites are used for business marketing, finding old friends and making new friends. Social networking is a phenomenon that has changed the way people in the world interact with each other and do business. Creating your own website allows you to showcase your passions and ideas online. However, you must dedicate the time to educate yourself about networking, options for building a website and tactics for managing a successful network.

Instructions

  1. Determine who your social networking website represents and what it’s all about. Is your social website for fun, dating or business use? Decide if your networking website will be free to the public or cost a monthly fee.
  2. Pick a name for your social networking website. Purchase a domain name for your site. Choose a name that best represents your intentions for the site. If your site is for business marketing, consider a name that relates to certain products or services. For a website that is more causal, use a name that is unique or describes you and the information displayed on the site.
  3. Hire a professional website designer to help you build a unique social network that attracts regular visitors.
  4. Register and create an account with websites that allow you to build your own social network for free. SocialGo, Spruz, Webnoode and Ning allow you to build your own custom social networking website.
  5. Choose a design template for your networking website. Many free websites have templates for you to choose from. Select a design that best represents the social site you want to create.
  6. Add written content, pictures, music and video to your social networking site. Create a social network that is up-to-date, fun, informative and entertaining. This helps bring in traffic to your website. Add new content daily or weekly to keep returning visitors interested.

About Social Networking

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Social networking has become very popular over the decades, and web sites based on the concept have millions of users. Some companies even hire marketing analysts to create ads for their social networking sites. Whether for personal or business reasons, the connections available through social networking can be a great benefit.

History

  • Social networking has been known to be the root of the establishment of many businesses today. Some of these businesses have been so successful as a result of social networking that they train their employees on how to socially connect with others. Netflix, an online DVD rental site, recognized the benefits of social networking and has begun to allow users to create social media profiles within their accounts. Popular television shows such as the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” which performed well in Nielsen rankings, thrive largely because of social networking. Analysts credited the show’s success to networking sites and the number of people posting reactions to specific quotes from episodes.

Significance

  • Students are taught in college how to socially network. They are offered classes in communication that teach them how to interact with others on business and personal levels. Students are taught about the positive impact social networking can have on a business. In conducting surveys, many businesses report that the majority of their feedback indicates that their clients found out about them through word of mouth.

Geography

  • All over the country, people on all levels seek to network socially. Social networking has become so popular that many web sites have been created to allow users to create profiles and interact with others. This has made it easier for people who may not be in the same location to connect with one another. People who even live in other states have found it easier to communicate this way instead of having to physically be where another person is.

Types

  • Social networking can occur on a business or a personal level. It can help you establish relationships that can benefit you later. In a business prospective, social networking can help you make contacts that can help you professionally. On a personal level, social networking can connect you with others that share similar interests.

Misconceptions

  • Some social networking sites have gotten negative attention and have discouraged people from continuing to network. In some cases, women have been stalked after making contact with others through social networking sites. In any situation, it is best to practice safety but not to let negative attention discourage you from networking. If you choose to social network for business or personal reasons, make sure you are taking precautions and networking safely. Do not give out any of your personal information or home address when you are first connecting with others.

The Importance of Integrating Social Media & Small Business

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Social media can play an important role in your business. It can bring you new business and remind returning customers of what you do. Social media is free to use, and you can use it to expand your business in just a few minutes a day. When you set up your social media profile, include your business contact information and a link to the company website in the About section or description area. Your social media profiles should complement your website, not replace it.

What Social Media Can Do for You

  • Social media provides the opportunity to reach millions of people at the click of a button: customers, prospective customers and potential investors. It is free marketing and free public relations. If you leverage social media tools correctly, you can spread awareness of your business and increase sales. You can also use social media to educate your customers about your products or for research. If you’re choosing between two ad designs, for example, you can put both on Facebook and ask your customers which they like best.

Picking a Platform

  • A lot of social media sites are out there — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few — and they change in popularity regularly. In two years, one may not be popular anymore. You probably don’t need a business presence on all these sites. Choose one or two that you think will benefit your business most. For example, if you’re a fashion designer, an image-driven site such as Pinterest or Instagram might be most helpful to you.

You Can Do It

  • Social media upkeep doesn’t require a five-hour marathon. Set aside a few minutes a day to post content and respond to customers. Vary the times. No one likes a social media friend who hops on, posts 18 things and disappears for a week. Think of it as a conversation with an employee; you might chat a little in the morning, pass each other in the hall and then accompany each other to your cars. Monitor the site regularly and make time to respond to any customer complaints or comments.

What to Post

  • You can do plenty of things on social media: share news about your business, post photos of new products, share stories, post surveys and run contests. The best social media strategy includes a mix. Focus on benefiting your customers. That might mean posting links to other websites so that people can learn about your product, or it might mean posting a funny video that doesn’t promote your product but that’s related to your industry, just to make people smile.

Leveraging Resources

  • Several websites stand ready to help you manage your social media profiles if you feel you don’t have the necessary time. You put in your login information and then you schedule the contents of your posts several days in advance. With the use of these websites, you can set aside 30 minutes at the beginning of the week and plan, write and schedule an entire week’s worth of social media posts. During times of national crisis, you’ll want to turn these updates off so as not to appear insensitive. If you’re overwhelmed by managing your social media presence yourself, consider hiring a part-time social media expert.

The Advantages of Social Networking in Business

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Social networks have become useful tools for businesses looking to market their products and services. eMarketer estimates that Facebook will have $4 billion in ad revenues worldwide in 2011 and Twitter will attract $150 million in spending. Also, worldwide social network spending is expected to reach nearly $6 billion in 2011. With these types of numbers, it’s clear businesses are finding many ways to use social networking to their advantage.

Marketing

  • Marketing is one of the biggest advantages of social networking for a business. There are lots of ways to use social media to market your business. For example, develop a Facebook fan page to keep customers in the loop about important brand updates. Create a YouTube channel to showcase your product features and benefits. Blendtec, a company that develops high-powered blenders, created a series of videos showing people grinding up golf balls, cell phones and iPads in their blenders. The videos became a hit and spread virally, with over 156 million views as of March 2011.

Recruiting

  • Another advantage of using social networking is that you can recruit talented employees for your business. Use Twitter to post a message about an open position at your company. Or, network with job seekers on LinkedIn to recruit talent to your business. People who frequently use social networks can be an asset to your company because they are adept with technology.

Building Relationships

  • Another advantage of using social networking sites in business is the level of acceptability and relationship-building they can bring to your business. If you have an existing customer you engaged on a social networking site, you increase your chances of having that customer become a “fan” of your page or add you to their friends list. Build relationships with customers on LinkedIn by adding them to your network and engaging in conversations about your brand online.

Customer Service and Feedback

  • Using social networking websites to increase your customer service and gather feedback from customers is another advantage. Create a form on your Facebook or link to a form on your website that allows customers to voice their concerns and complaints. Post a survey on your Facebook page or a link to a survey on your Twitter account to gather customer feedback about a new product or service idea.

How to Promote a Business Using Social Media

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Social media has evolved from amusement for kids to sophisticated channels for marketing businesses. Beginning your social media marketing may seem daunting, given the choices you have – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and many others. You may consider a blog as an additional marketing tool. Each allows you to share information and showcase what you know and sell.

Laying the Groundwork

  • As with any marketing campaign, you must first decide what you are marketing and who are your customers. This is especially important with online marketing, since the Internet allows you to reach a global market. Being focused on your target audience will help you build a network of followers who will ultimately become your friends and customers. Your object is to build relationships before you attempt to sell. The best way to do this is by sharing information and tips. The process is gradual — you cannot plunge directly into marketing, or you will drive followers away. Supporting other people will invite reciprocity.

Attracting Followers

  • Attracting followers is the key to a successful social media marketing campaign. If you do not have social media accounts, it is easy to open one. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn all offer easy-to-follow directions on their websites. Whether you are “friending,” “connecting” or commenting on the posts of others, building a following is not difficult. In all four platforms you can join groups of people with shared interests and form your own group built around your business and interests.

Building Recognition

  • Do not start selling immediately upon opening your various sites. No one knows who you are, and your reception will be cold. Instead, look for ways to provide information that is helpful to your followers. Twitter, with its 140-character limit per tweet, lends itself to quick, snappy bits of advice. Use YouTube to showcase products, offer demos and provide useful information. You can even set up your own YouTube channel. Social media requires two-way communication to be successful – so answer people’s questions, like them on Facebook and retweet their comments on Twitter. Conducting polls is a popular way to gather followers. The interaction helps build a sense of community.

Blogging for Profit

  • Blogging is an easy way to build an online presence and to share your expertise. WordPress and Blogger are the two largest blog platforms. Each offers you the ability to customize your site, add pictures, import YouTube videos and add Twitter feeds. As with all your social media outlets, two-way communication is vital. If readers make comments, respond to them. Reference your blog in your other media to attract readers to it. You can even include guest bloggers – experts who share their knowledge — and you gain in reputation by your association with them.

Keeping Track

  • You can quickly become overwhelmed managing multiple social media accounts and struggle to balance that with running your business. Fortunately, there is online help. With social media management sites such as HootSuite and Ping.fm, you can manage all of your accounts at one location. If you wish to send tweets on a scheduled basis, you can set up the schedule ahead of time and make it happen automatically. You can send identical messages with one command to all your account through your manager. Do not overuse this service – your followers may be turned off if they sense they are receiving automated communications. You also can use a social media manager to collect mentions of your company, industry or any search term you wish to use.

How Does Social Networking Help Business?

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First, there was MySpace, and then came the juggernaut Facebook, which has now virtually taken over the web as far as major social networking sites go. Many businesses have had to combat the problem of workers using social network sites while on the job, but some business owners have also come to realize that social networks can be a great help. Used correctly, a social networking site can generate new business and increase productivity.

Increasing Productivity

  • A 2008 article in “USA Today” by Jon Schwartz noted that businesses are increasingly using social networks to boost productivity by allowing employees to work collaboratively online. Employees working for large corporations with offices in different parts of the world can collaborate on various projects using social networking websites. Some companies have even developed their own internal social networks.

Targeted Advertising

  • Some businesses have learned that social networking sites can provide an efficient way to advertise their products. It’s common for Facebook and MySpace users to log in and see advertisements lining the outside column of their Internet browser. Based on information found on individuals’ profiles, companies can post targeted ads on the websites to reach those who may have an interest in the product or service they offer. Geographic location, hobbies and even a person’s career can determine what ads they see.

Providing Information

  • Social networks can also be an integral source of information about a business for consumers. Used properly, social networks can provide the essential information about a business without it having to pay for expensive advertising. Aside from networks like Facebook, blog sites are also social networking vehicles that allow for interaction between the blog’s author and readers. Some social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have internal blogging tools that allow users to share information about their companies.

Getting Opinions

  • A fourth way in which social networking websites can help business is by allowing valuable feedback from customers and potential customers. Online forums provide a way for people to voice their opinions on specific topics, and the use of surveys on sites like Facebook is common. Businesses that know the wants and needs of their customers and respond to them are more likely to survive in the long run.

How to Format a Business Plan

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Your business plan often is the first impression potential investors, partners or lenders get of you and your professionalism. Not only should the contents of your plan be top-notch, but how you present the information also should impress your different audiences. Using standard business plan formatting techniques, you can create a document that looks professional and sends the message you’re serious about presenting your business idea.

The Basic Format

  • There is no universally accepted business plan format, but many follow the same format used for school papers or business reports. Your document should contain a cover page, table of contents, executive summary, the informational sections listed in your outline, a summary and an appendix.

The Different Sections

  • Your cover page should include a brief title describing what the document is and your contact information. Your table of contents should make it easy for readers to find your different sections, which can include topics recommended by the U.S Small Business Administration. These topics include an executive summary followed by your product or concept description, a market analysis, marketing plans, financial information, backgrounds and bios of key personnel, and a summary with your needs from a lender, partner or investor. Your appendix should include supporting documents that, if included in one of your sections, would make it long and tedious. Your section titles might include:
    • Executive Summary
    • Business/Product Overview
    • Market Analysis
    • Marketing
    • Finance
    • Key Personnel
    • Summary
    • Appendix

Sub-Headings

  • To break your document into more easy-to-read content blocks, format your document with sub-headings. In the market analysis section, for example, you might include: target audience, competition, barriers to entry, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In your marketing section, you might include: unique selling benefit, pricing, distribution, branding and marketing communications. In the marketing communications section, further divide your content using subheads such as: advertising, public relations, promotions and social media.

Typography & Graphics

  • Don’t try to “jazz up” your document with different fonts, colors and graphics. Pick one typeface, such as Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, Garamond, Times or Times Roman. Add different fonts of the typeface, such as bold face or italics, to highlight important concepts. Use pictures, illustrations or other graphics only when they are necessary to make a point, such as when the reader would have trouble visualizing what you’re saying without help. AVOID USING ALL CAPS, WHICH CAN BE DIFFICULT TO READ. Instead, use bold face, italics or underlining for sub-headings. Don’t put long blocks of text in italics, which also can make it more difficult to read.

Borders & Line Spacing

  • Experiment with borders and line spacing in your word processing document. Common borders are .75 inches to 1 inch from the sides of the page, with more room at the bottom to accommodate numbering. Start your page numbers where they make sense, based on your document. For example, your executive summary might be page one. If you are having trouble starting the page numbers on a page other than the cover, create your cover page and contents page in one document, then start the page you want to designate as page one as the first page of a new document. Print several pages of your document using single spacing and double spacing to see which you feel offers the best readability. Greater line spacing can help make a short document look longer.

Review Sample Templates

  • Typing “business plan templates” or “business plan examples” into a search engine will produce results that let you examine different business plan formatting and layout. You don’t have to follow one completely — consider choosing different elements from different plans to format your document.

 How to Market a Plan for a Meat Pie Business

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Savory meat pies have appeared on menus for centuries, though their popularity has waxed and waned. By the 1950’s, boxed pies filled supermarket freezers. Over time, their presence has dwindled. If you’re getting ready to re-introduce this classic with a new twist, you’ll need to think outside the box. You’ll need an effective business plan, adequate funding and a complete marketing plan to help your line of meat pies find a new generation of fans.

Instructions

  1. Scope out the competition. Research meat pie companies and purchase samples of their products. Ascertain each competitor’s unique selling proposition (e.g., “our meat pies have no preservatives” or “we cut the fat so you don’t have to compromise your diet”). Invent a unique selling proposition that isn’t being used.
  2. Study your company’s mission statement. Use the mission statement to focus your marketing plan. Strive to make the marketing plan cover the first year of business.
  3. Determine target markets. Decide whether you will focus on general markets that run the gamut from supermarkets to small specialty stores; niche markets made up of schools, cafeterias and other institutional eating environments; or direct response marketing driven by an interactive website selling meat pies to a variety of audiences.
  4. Come up with a creative list of marketing and promotional ideas. These ideas will morph your fledgling meat pie company into a recognized brand. Work in concert with staff to develop a list of brand-building ideas.
  5. Include the placement of print ads in trade and consumer publications to your marketing plan. Ask professional cooks for endorsements and get permission to use their reviews where appropriate.
  6. Develop brochures with tear-off order forms so consumers can order meat pies for shipment or pick them up at retail shops carrying your line. Launch a website to tout company history and introduce new pie flavors to build awareness of your product mix.
  7. Stay on message and don’t eschew gimmicks. Consider jingles, slogans and catch words that can turn an obscure meat pie into a familiar food. Give your meat pies memorable names rather than just beef, chicken and pork.
  8. Keep tabs on your meat pies by soliciting feedback from consumers and retailers. Make adjustments to your marketing plan over time with this feedback. Use sweepstakes, coupons and surveys to guide your next marketing plan once you get through your first year of business.

How to Write a Business Plan Tax Preparation

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If you have training in tax preparation, starting a small business providing tax planning and preparation services is relatively easy. If you have not gone through a tax preparation course, you can find them at your local adult education program or through H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt, where you can also gain experience as one of their employed tax preparers.

Instructions

  1. Describe your business model. What kind of services will you offer? What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities? What are the threats to your success?
  2. Create a marketing plan. Who is your target market and how will you reach them? During tax season you will have little time for marketing but a well-planned marketing campaign that you pursue during the off-season will ensure you have plenty of customers for tax season.
  3. Create your revenue model. Will you only prepare taxes, or will you provide a year-round bookkeeping and accounting service? Will you also provide other services such as notary and financial planning? It is always a good idea to have at least three different revenue streams, particularly in seasonal businesses.
  4. Include a section on how you compare with your competition. Your location is important. Will you have walk-in business or will you travel to your clients? What do your most successful and least successful competitors do? How will your service differ?
  5. Create your pro forma financials. How much will your business cost to start and what will be the monthly costs? Will there be a difference in costs during peak tax season?
  6. Write a back-up plan. What are your benchmarks for success or failure? When will you know to tweak your plan? It is a good idea to envision specific problems that might arise and plan solutions.

 

 How to Develop a Business Plan 

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A business plan is an important factor in successfully creating a business, and is often an essential part of qualifying for funding. Business plans are written documents that describe and analyze your business, and provide detailed information about your short and long-term goals, your strategies for achieving those goals, and your company’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to your market. A properly developed business plan will improve your chances of finding investors, and is an effective guide that can be used to keep you on track in the future. Read on to learn how to develop a business plan.

Instructions

  1. Describe your product or service. This section of your plan should be used to discuss what product or service you are selling, and should detail what benefits your product offers to potential customers. How and where will your product be manufactured? If you are starting a retail business, be certain to include information on the location of your business and on the area demographics. Additionally, you should include information about your competition, and mention any obstacles that may need to be overcome before your product is able to hit the market.
  2. Analyze your market in this section of your business plan. Include information on your customer’s needs, how you intend to reach your customers, how you plan to advertise your product or service, and how much money you intend to spend on your marketing strategy. Documentation should be provided to outline the size and growth potential of your market, and you will need to include a detailed plan showing how you intend to get your product into the hands of consumers.
  3. Identify your competition, and establish the advantage your business has over them in your target market. This section of your business plan is important to investors, and you should use it to highlight the strengths of your business and the weaknesses of the competition. However, it is crucial to be realistic and honest with both yourself and potential funding sources.
  4. Describe your organization’s structure, management, and operational strategy. This section of your plan should detail your plan for manufacturing, purchasing, staffing, and obtaining the needed equipment and facilities for your business. You should include information on how you intend to establish relationships with vendors, and should highlight the experience of your management team. Investors want to know that your management team understands the market and product, and has the experience necessary to successfully start and operate your business.
  5. Provide detailed and accurate financial information to be used by potential investors. You are required to provide both historical and prospective financial information, including income statements and cash flow statements for each year your business has been operating (three to five years typically), and you will need to present your expectations for the future and any anticipated income. Any available collateral should also be listed, as it may be a factor when you attempt to qualify for funding.
  6. Create a persuasive executive summary. This should be included at the beginning of your business plan, but should be written last. Your executive summary should include information on the history of your company, an outline of your objectives, a description of your product or service, information on your market and projected growth, an overview of your management team, and a powerful statement about the strengths of your business and why you expect it to succeed. The executive summary is primarily an outline of your business plan, but must be written in a way that encourages investors to continue reading. Limit your executive summary to one or two pages.

How to Do a Market Analysis for a Business Plan

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The market analysis section of a business plan includes particular information about the industry your business is in and your target market. It also presents conclusions based on the data collected, the facts that support your conclusion and evaluation of major competitors. Even though a market analysis is usually conducted in the start-up phase while constructing a business plan, it should be done each year to adjust to changes in market conditions.

Instructions

  1. Describe the industry and its future outlook. The description of the industry should include its size, growth rate, trends and projections. If the business will be targeting a niche section of the industry, or is introducing a new product where there is no current market, then you may have to hire a market research firm to survey or collect this information.
  2. Determine who is in your target market. The target market is the group of customers that the business intends to market to. When defining the target market, include distinguishing characteristics, size of the market, market share percentage you expect to obtain, pricing and gross margin targets, resources for finding information related to your target market, media that can be used to reach them, their purchasing cycle and trends that could impact sales.
  3. Conduct market tests. While this is not typically a requirement for the market analysis section, it strengthens your findings if you’re presenting the report for financing opportunities. Only the results of market tests should be included in this section, with the details saved for the appendix at the end. The market test should include the target market’s willingness to purchase your products or services at different price points.
  4. Establish lead times. This is the amount of time it takes for a customer to receive the product or service after placing the order. Also, if applicable, include the lead time for the initial orders, reorders and volume purchases.
  5. Perform a competitive analysis. This includes not only naming the top competitors, but also assessing their strengths and weaknesses, their market share and whether there is a window of opportunity and indirect or secondary competitors that can impact your business’s success. In addition, collect data to determine the competition’s ability to satisfy its customers needs, brand strength, reputation, financial resources and key personnel.
  6. Research if there are regulatory restrictions. Find out if there are government regulations in place that can impact the business. Gather information about how the business can meet the requirements, how long it has to comply and the costs involved.

 How to Write a Business Plan for a Flea Market 

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A successful business begins with a good business plan. Whether you are just starting to venture into the flea market business or you already run one, a constantly evolving business plan is essential to success. According to the Small Business Administration, “A business plan should be a work-in-progress. Even successful, growing businesses should maintain a current business plan.”

Preparing a Business Plan for Your Flea Market

  1. Conduct a market analysis on flea markets. Start with the geographic location of your business and begin creating a demographic profile of your customers. According to the Ohio University Fact Sheet on market research, “Demographics include age, gender, income, race, marital status, education, occupation, home ownership, number in the household and age of the home.” Gather this information by interviewing other flea-market owners and shoppers in your area. Ask friends, family and business associates for contacts to interview regarding shoppers. Conduct polls on social networks, such as Facebook. Write a summary of this information for your business plan.
  2. Write a company description. Format your business plan as you would a resume, with bold titles for each section. Compose a brief description of your business, and explain your ideas to distinguish your business from the other flea markets in your area. Include the legal form of your business. For example, if your flea market is a sole proprietorship, state that in this section. However, save information regarding your ideas for attracting and satisfying your market demographic for the marketing-strategy section. Add advertising plans for attracting new customers to that section, too.
  3. Explain your management structure. If you run your business alone, summarize your qualifications for running a successful flea market. Include experience in management, sales and customer service, with specifics about improvements you made during your experience. Supply similar details for all members of your management team, including their titles and specific responsibilities. Add information about their compensation or ownership percentages in the company.
  4. Detail your financial information. According to the SBA, “The financials should be developed after you’ve analyzed the market and set clear objectives.” Write this section using your market research. If you are just starting out, the SBA suggests that you estimate quarterly earnings statements with a budget, projected income and expenses. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, you should consult a professional accountant for the financial section, especially if you are requesting funding for your flea market. Find an accountant that specializes in small businesses to get the most accurate assessment of your financial projections.
  5. Write your executive summary. This section should be written last, but it is the most important section of your business plan. Write a broad overview of the current state of your company, the plans for your flea market and why you think your business will be a success. Include a mission statement, your business name, the location of your flea market and the products you offer. Make your mission statement a single paragraph explaining how your business will benefit your customers. You must interest investors in your flea market, so make sure your executive summary sparkles.

 Difference Between a Business Plan & a Marketing Plan

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Think of a business plan and a marketing plan in terms of a pizza, for illustration purposes. A business plan is the whole pie. A marketing plan is a slice of the pie, but a very important slice. The business plan provides an overview of every aspect of a company. The marketing plan focuses on strategies and efforts to generate sales and revenue.

arts of a Business Plan

  • A business plan typically includes: an overview of the business; a description of products or services and how they are produced; a description of the business model for the company; identification of the executive leadership and management team; cash flow statements; and charts and graphs on financial projections related to sales, costs, expenditures and more.

Parts of a Marketing Summary

  • An organization’s marketing plan is included in the overall business plan; however, it is written in summary format. Included in a marketing summary are the marketing objectives, and the strategies and tactics the company will utilize to generate sales and revenue. The marketing summary section of the business plan also gives a general overview of advertising plans that will be implemented to achieve marketing objectives and goals.

Detailed Marketing Plan

  • The complete marketing plan is a separate, comprehensive document that goes into more detail about objectives, goals and tactics. This document guides the implementation of efforts by the company’s marketing, sales and advertising departments.

    The marketing department uses the plan to align how products and services are to be positioned in the marketplace in terms of distribution channels and pricing. The plan describes in detail monthly, quarterly and annual sales volume goals that need to be reached by the sales team.

    The plan also includes a section that sets forth the communications platform for the advertising team and/or outside advertising agency to use to develop advertising, promotions and events that align with the communications messaging strategy to reach customers and clients in the marketplace.

Business Plan Audience

  • Generally speaking, the business plan is shared only with key executives within the company and external members of the financial community. It is typically written to target potential investors, stockholders and accountants. It is most often used to generate funds to provide working capital to execute the plans and programs the company has identified as necessary to maintain a competitive position and sustainable success in the marketplace.

Marketing Plan Audience

  • The marketing plan is not shared with consumers and clients, but the contents are aimed at them. The complete plan is an internal document that is usually shared only with those responsible for marketing, sales and advertising efforts. The marketing plan includes results from research that help identify tactics to communicate with customers to get them to purchase products.

    The plan includes strategies on pricing and incentives to gain new clients for a service-oriented business and increase sales volume with retail distributors. The marketing plan is an internal strategic document developed to win customers, clients, achieve sales and distribution goals, compete with other businesses and increase the company’s market share.

How to Determine Market Size for a Business Plan

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In order to forecast how much money you can make from your business, you’ll need to calculate how many potential customers you have and how many of them you’ll be able to capture or lure away from your competitors. You also have to know what the growth rate is for your target market, since it’s rarely wise to invest in a stagnant or shrinking market. This can be one of the most challenging, but also one of the most critical, components of the business plan.

Instructions

  1. Determine who your customers are. Your product or service must fill a need that customers have. For instance, a dog walking service fills a dog owner’s need to have their pet taken care of when they’re unable to do so due to work or travel. Once you know what problem you’re solving and for whom, invest time and energy into determining the characteristics of your customers. You may have multiple customer groups, such as vacationing seniors and dual-income families.
  2. Categorize your customers. Describe them according to demographics such as age, gender and income, and psychographics such as technology awareness, fashion consciousness or political views.
  3. Research your customers. Read articles about your target customers and the problems they encounter which your business can solve. Demographic data is available from the US Census Bureau and other reliable government and private sources. Trade publications and industry-focused websites can also be good sources of information about year-to-year trends, customer spending habits and forecasts. Often the most thorough and up-to-date information is for sale in industry market forecasts, and may cost from dozens to many thousands of dollars. Official population statistics will often include projections for up to 10 years in the future.
  4. Understand your competitors and their market share. If you work in a highly fragmented industry such as soap, there may be hundreds of competitors each with a quarter of a percent of market share. In that case, assume that .25% is the most you’ll ever get of the market, and that you’ll start out at a much smaller portion. Hit-based industries such as movies and video games may have three or four major corporations taking 60% or more of the market, with a dozen more vying for the remaining 40%. In that case, assume you’ll have a very small share of the market—1% or less—but that the sky is the limit and wise business decisions could pay huge dividends.
  5. Calculate your market size. Identify the total number of customers available to you and multiply that by your market share percentage. Then take the growth rate projected in your research and calculate the increase in your customer base if the market share percentage is held constant. For instance, out of a million potential customers, assume you can capture one-tenth of a percent in the first year, two-tenths in the second, and up to three-tenths in the third year. Over that same period, assume your target demographic is growing by 10% annually. You’ll therefore have 1,000 customers the first year (1,000,000 x 0.1%), 2,200 the second year (1,100,000 x 0.2%) and 3,630 the third year (1,210,000 x 0.3%).