Archive for Home Business Articles
Awkward. The moment I sat in front of a brick and mortar service provider and told him that his logo missed the mark when it came to expressing his brand.
As I came in the building that morning to give him a presentation on my branding programs, a mix match of signs greeted me. One on the building and a different one inside. Okay, that’s confusing!
He wanted to know how he could attract more business, especially wanting to know how his clients could better understand what he provided.
And yet, when I mentioned that his logo needed to communicate the essence of his business and that perhaps it wasn’t doing the job, he rankled.
He had “designed” it himself. Or maybe a relative did it. The logo was cool, he said. I can’t remember, this meeting was so long ago. But I remember how I felt about his response: Oh dear, he is taking his logo personally! He was attached and couldn’t see it objectively.
This scene is all too common among business owners as well as authors or artists. Putting something up on the Internet because it’s pretty or you like it or it’s cool is not a good enough reason to choose a logo mark, book cover, brochure, or any other marketing material you are producing.
Why? Because your logo or any other product/marketing piece needs to communicate your intended message. In particular, a logo needs to communicate what you do and convey trust and credibility to your target market. Read More→
As a work-at-home professional, you will face a different set of challenges and blessings in your job. There are many tips available as you progress with working from home, but some are especially important to keep in mind. These include the following points.
DO designate a specific time to work. Assuming that work will just happen because you are always home is a dangerous assumption. Instead, schedule yourself specific times to work and stick to those hours. This will also help you keep your work and home lives separate, according to Businessinsider.com.
DON’T mix your work and home areas. While working at home can make it seem easy to mesh the two, it is actually quite important to keep them separate. Entrepeneur.com states that this allows you to escape work at the end of the day and will help you preserve time and space for family.
DO take breaks. Of course, keeping these breaks to a moderate length is important. However, Businessinsider.com states that breaks in which you eat or exercise will help you focus better and ultimately get more done. In fact, Agmrc.org suggests that you spend 5-15 minute breaks doing something you enjoy that relaxes you. But stick to the time-limit on these breaks or they can eat away at your day. Read More→
So, Christian work at home mom or dad, have you played with your kids lately?
Why is that important, and what does that have to do with branding your business?
Well, let me illustrate my answer with a story, if I may!
Before, during, and after Thanksgiving I worked myself ragged on a book promotion. After that, I was burned out. It took me a long time to recover. Then came Christmas, with all its family demands. I completely lost focus for awhile in my business. It didn’t help that I threw my back out because I had worked so hard!
As it says in Psalm 32 The Message version, “all the juices of my life dried up.”
Then my nephew, Nathan, and his wife came for an extended visit. A talented young man with many visions and dreams and with the support of his talented and enthusiastic wife, we started to dream and plan together that first full day they were guests in my home.
So it was at our favorite coffee shop that we brainstormed many ideas, including what activity to do in my homeschooling club. This led to us preparing for an amazing creative play experience for my son and a dozen other students.
What was it? We made medieval boffer swords and the children engaged in play sword skirmishes! The kids had a blast and we had a blast facilitating this!
But even more importantly, we had a vision. To continue this creative play not only in the homeschool club, but at home as well as part of our PE time. Read More→
Any mother can tell you how exhausting juggling family, home, and a 9 to 5 job. When spending too much time in an office job, your family life suffers. This is because you tend to miss out on the memories and your children growing up. In addition, some jobs require a lot from you in terms of long hours, out of town trips, and sometimes working on weekends and holidays. It is for this reason that a growing number of parents are all for working from home.
It is usually a terrifying experience leaving a solid source of income into a world of the unknown but you must look at it as a chance for growth and being your own boss. In fact, working from home trains you on time management. The great thing is that you now have the ability to juggle family life, errands, and your home office in a flexible manner. Working from home can have its disadvantages because you may be distracted by the kids when they cry or when company unexpectedly stops by. The trick to handling this is to train the kids to keep away from your home workspace within set hours and informing family and friends of days you can avail yourself socially.
The key to success in working from home is balancing work and home. It is not always easy but with time, you can definitely handle and enjoy both. One of the things you can do is to create a timetable for each day and how you intend to have family time, do your chores and errands and when to buckle down and get some work done. If you are doing work that excites you and requires flexible time to handle it, then it means you will have more time for other things in the home and about town. Read More→
Recently, a friend of mine messaged me horrible news. Her house had been robbed and along with that her electronic valuables. She had no backups! Thankfully, she had some files on Google Drive, but her story reminded me of the importance of always having a backup of computer files.
I’ve been caught several times, too. Not by theft but by the inevitable crashing of hard drives in laptop computers. It only had to happen to me a couple of times to realize–using a backup service is essential to running my business!
Also, years ago one of my external drives had failed. One company quoted me $3,000 dollars to recover the data! Thankfully, a computer whiz I knew managed to restore the data for $75. That was a bargain!
And computer backup cloud services are a bargain, also!
Sure, you can do it yourself. For Macs, there is Time Machine. Um, can’t remember the last time I did it. Besides, if there was a disaster or a theft, most likely your external drives would be history, too!
So if you don’t want to go to the expense of a cloud service, at least backup your computer to a drive you will keep off site!
But suppose you are sold on the idea of paying for a service? Where do you turn?
Here are three companies that can help:
This is the service I have used for years. It’s a no brainer in that it automatically backs up my computer as I work on it. For one or two computers, it’s reasonable. The payments start at $59.99 annually so it’s easy on my budget.
The negatives are that when I did have a computer crash, recovering the files was not as smooth as I would have liked. Some files didn’t appear to work. But I managed to download everything that was important so I don’t think I lost much.
The other drawback is that the charge is per computer. However, if you purchase the office plan you can get unlimited backup for computers, devices, and external drives for $269.99 per year.
One more negative–if you are working on a file and then realize later you need to restore it to its original, it will be too late. The backup is actually so fast that whatever’s on your hard drive currently is what will be on the Carbonite cloud soon after. For those projects that you are continually working on, it would be beneficial to periodically backup these files independently to another cloud service (like iCloud. See below).
iDrive promises to be much more competitive. I like that I can backup all computers (Windows, Macs, external drives, and devices) in one account. It starts at $69.50 for the first year (but there is a sale as I write this so it is even less). It will even do older operating systems. And it has a 5 GB offer that is free. So you can try it and see if you like it.
I did try the free account awhile ago and I found it a bit more complicated to use than Carbonite. But I’m not sure I didn’t give it a fair shake. Considering the amazing deal I will probably try again! Read More→
As a parent who is self-employed or works from home, you are no stranger to the struggle of time management, multitasking and prioritization. Carving out that precious, uninterrupted time for yourself is a necessity to get anything done, but it requires a lot of juggling to get there, with school runs, snack prep and babysitter scheduling.
Most days it feels like you can barely keep your head above water, but somehow you still manage to get many of the most important things accomplished. However, there are many less time-sensitive to-dos that often get pushed down your priorities list that could really use some attention — like financial management. Here are three strategies to implement to make your money management more efficient and effective.
Stay on Top of Bookkeeping
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work duties and overlook seemingly simple tasks like bookkeeping. Then, all of a sudden, the year ends and you begin scrambling to file your taxes and realize that it’s been over six months since you last properly tracked your business expenses.
Avoid the headache of trying to get everything done at the last minute by automating your process as much as possible. Sign up for cloud-based software like QuickBooks Online or Xero to track all of your business expenses in a format that your accountant can easily work with. Choose a service that syncs with your business banking institution so that you can skip entering every line item manually and instead simply categorize and approve each expenditure before reconciling your records with your bank statement every month.
To avoid months of bookkeeping work piling up, create a recurring calendar event every month a few days after your monthly bank statement becomes available so you can update everything for the previous month. Typically, this will only need to take an hour or two.
Diversify Your Income Stream
For the majority of people, working on your own means forgoing a consistent paycheck in favor of flexibility. Sure, by the end of the year, you may even make more money than you would working for someone else, but that money is never really a sure thing until the work is complete and you get paid, making it somewhat unpredictable at times.
To balance things out and try to make your income a little more predictable, try diversifying your income stream. Choose a reliable form of income like renting out a real estate property that you own for a minimum a one-year lease. Or take advantage of a gig economy opportunity with a company that has a strong focus on creating jobs in the U.S., like Amway.
Create a Monthly Budget
If you thrive on structure, a monthly budget could really help you save more money while still covering all of your family’s basic needs. Since your income likely varies on a monthly basis, aim to underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses to help make sure there is money left over for your savings.
If possible, “pay yourself” first by putting a predetermined amount of money into a savings account or 401K at the beginning of every month before you start paying for other routine expenses. If you procrastinate doing so until later in the month, you’ll be less likely to actually put any of that money away and will often use it to pay for other less necessary expenses ahead of time.
Social Media is quickly growing into one of the most-used marketing tools for work-at-home moms. One of the largest social media websites, Twitter.com, can be an effective way to spread the word about your business and learn from other top representatives in your business niche. However, it can take a lot of time to determine the best ways to use Twitter effectively for business. Below are ten tips to help shorten that learning curve.
1. Choose a Meaningful User Name
If possible, grab your business name as well as your own name for use on Twitter. Having an easy-to-find and easy-to-remember username is essential.
2. Brand Your Twitter Page
Don’t leave your Twitter page boring and plain – spice it up. Make sure you add your logo, contact information and any other information that will be helpful for customers and visitors to your page. You can use a website such as TwitBacks.com to create a free or very low-cost background to bring life to your page.
3. Learn the Lingo
Twitter can be very useful, but it can also be very frustrating … especially if you have no idea what all those little symbols mean that fly across the screen. Take the time to research the meanings of the tags most often used on Twitter. One great place to do so is right on Twitter itself.
4. Follow Industry Leaders
Veteran entrepreneur Diana Ennen shares this tip: “I love to follow industry experts on Twitter and gain all their business insight. It’s almost like being right there in their office and getting in on their trade secrets. Not only do they post tips and how to information, they often share their business successes and mistakes and that allows me to learn from them. It’s so worth it!”
Don’t be shy! Take a few minutes each day to comment on what others are discussing or to throw out a question or idea. You never know when a topic is going to spark a response and help you build relationships with customers and your fellow Twitter users. Read More→
Especially as women I find we are more susceptible to false guilt than men.
How often do you find these words coming out of your mouth “I feel guilty….”?
“I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my kids”
“I feel guilty for losing my temper.”
“I feel guilty for not having a better relationship with my mom.”
Can you distinguish between false guilt and real guilt or conviction? False guilt leaves us striving in our homes, work and church.
The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Satan is working to make our thoughts accuse us – it gives him great delight to see us fall into the trap of feeling guilty for everything. On the other hand with Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1), because if we confess our sins He forgives us (1 John 1:9) and doesn’t remember our sin anymore (Hebrews 8:12).
When we have sinned and we go to Christ asking forgiveness our guilt is erased and our sin no longer has hold over us. However, guilt can produce compulsiveness because it torments us. (Beyond Head Knowledge)
The tormenting voice of guilt stems in part from our childhood. A good article from Focus on the Family points out that “hypercritical upbringings create a hyperactive conscience.” Perhaps growing up you never felt good enough, your best efforts didn’t measure up and you felt like you always had to apologize for everything. It could be that you always feel guilty for not trying harder. Or maybe you struggle with feeling bad that you haven’t done better even though you have tried. Read More→
Blogging. It’s all the rage. It seems that everyone and their mother is blogging. As a work at home business owner, what are the step by step actions you need to take to get your blog noticed?
First of all, realize the power of blogging. Your goal is to get eyeballs on your brand. It’s all about leading with value. Giving helpful information that will help your audience. Once you have prospects reading your blog over and over again, you can ascend them up your sales funnel, meaning:
• Offering your target market an irresistible freebie in exchange for their email addresses
• Promoting a low-cost offer to acquire them as customers
• Present your main product or service
• Recommend additional products or services that will further help them
This is how you can MONETIZE your blog, other then ads on your page or affiliate links.
So what are some of the steps you need to take? Here are the exact steps that I’m going to use to develop my husband’s blog about architectural design. I came up with this plan after going through an extensive certification course in digital marketing.
1. Keyword research
What is your target market searching for? What are some of the problems that they desperately need solutions for? What would they write in Google when searching for your product or service? Brainstorm some relevant keywords and identify the top 10 that your market would use to find your product or service. Use a keyword planning tool to analyze competition and volume of searches. You want to choose long tail keywords (a phrase rather than one word) that has highest volume possible at the lowest competition.
2. Brainstorm titles
Think about search marketing when you create a title for your blog. There’s great debate whether the title should be your “personal brand,” but if you are just starting out, how will they know who you are? A descriptive title that includes your main keywords will help you attract more readers. Make sure the title is easy to remember.
3. Reserve a domain
Make sure your title is available for your domain. The easiest site I’ve found to use is GoDaddy. There are many choices these days for an extension, but the most common one is .com.
4. Plan a silo
What is a silo? It is planning blogs around a hub of keywords. For instance, if your blog is about dogs, you might plan the keyword hub “dog training,” and then link a series of blogs to that hub with the keywords “dog training aggression,” “dog training collar,” “dog training at home,” etc. Read More→
I don’t know how most people do it, but when I brush my teeth I like to rinse using a cup. I prefer the little dixie paper cups because I can toss it and there’s no mess. As a mom, I love disposable items – no washing necessary. Sounds harmless enough, right? I thought so, until recently when my husband began giving me little “hints” about throwing away so many paper cups. He finally won me over when he explained that he and the guys at work had been discussing what they could do to be more ‘green’ and this was one of the ways they’d come up with.
Now that I knew my husband and ‘the guys’ were discussing the topic at work, I knew it was something I needed to take more seriously. As I began to take a look at our lifestyle I found many things that I could change to make our home a more eco-friendly place. I also realized that overall, working from home may be one of the best eco-friendly decision one can make.
Less Gas – Other than the occasional errand running, telecommuters use their cars much less frequently than their counterparts in the workplace. This, of course translates into less gas usage, less fumes and smog produced, etc. Simply by staying home, they are making the world a cleaner, healthier place.
Less Paper – Businesses today make it very easy to save paper by allowing home-based workers to do most everything online. When my husband does work from home, he’s able to log in securely to his corporate email account, log his time and even download his pay stubs online. I’m fortunate that as a website owner, very rarely do I make use of paper. The occasional document needs printed, but other than that my work-life takes place entirely on my computer.
Less Grease – Home-based workers tend to eat more meals at home than than employees in the corporate world. My lunches usually consist of something simple and easy to make – fruit, a quick sandwich, etc. Compared to the fat and grease of a fast-food meal, a healthy meal at home goes a long way in becoming ‘green.’ Read More→