Establishing a relationship with an expert can bring peace of mind
When it comes to making important decisions about technology, small business owners often find themselves in a difficult position. Many lack the time to thoroughly research solutions that could benefit their operations. But they also lack the resources to dedicate staff to information technology (IT) matters.
So what often happens is the small business owner takes the advice of friends and relatives ... or does nothing.
A better alternative is to find an IT expert with experience helping small businesses address their technology needs. And that can be a challenge. Many consulting firms focus on larger enterprises where commitment to IT is often stronger and revenue potential greater.
However that is changing as more technology providers are focusing on the small business market and developing partner networks to ensure support for the solutions they're providing to small businesses.
Signs You Need an IT Expert
There are some obvious signs that your business needs IT help:
Downtime from increasingly frequent computer crashes is seriously affecting productivity
Employees who think they know how to fix problems are actually creating new problems
You've patched together several different systems and they aren't working well together
You know your business could benefit from a technology upgrade but you have no idea where to begin
If you've decided you need to bring in professional IT help, you have a couple of choices on how to proceed. Short-term, you could locate an IT expert to fix what is broken and perhaps set up a maintenance contract to help avoid similar problems in the future. This may be an appropriate scenario if technology isn't central to your business operations.
However, you may want to take a longer term approach and develop a true "partnership" with an IT expert who specialises in small business. That way you get assistance with your immediate concerns. At the same time, the expert will get to know you and how your business operates. Together you can develop and implement as resources permit an IT strategy that fulfills your vision of where you want to take your business.
Finding the Right Expert
There are various qualifications to consider when you select an IT expert to partner with. But all things being equal, it may come down to your best instincts about who is the right fit for your business. You want to develop a long-term relationship with someone you can trust will do what is best for your business. You are hiring a technology expert because you don't have the time and/or the expertise to investigate solutions yourself. That means you need to convey what you want to achieve, what your budget allows and in the end you'll have to be able to trust the recommendations your IT expert makes.
Here are other considerations as you interview IT experts:
Referrals You may be reluctant to take technology advice from friends and relatives, but it never hurts to ask for referrals from trusted business colleagues who are satisfied with their IT experts. It's a good place to begin your search.
Location With the internet it is possible to problem-solve technology issues from thousands of miles away. But not everyone is comfortable with that arrangement. You need to decide whether you would prefer to find a local expert who is available to come on-site?
Expertise IT experts who specialise in working with small businesses have experience working with solutions designed for small businesses. They also understand the resource constraints that small businesses typically face. As you talk to potential experts, ask about their knowledge of operations similar to yours; some may specialise by industry. Also enquire about certifications in products you currently use or are likely to consider. If you use line-of-business applications, enquire about the expert's background working with these as well.
Support If you are seeking a long-term arrangement, make sure the prospective experts you talk to understand that. Find out if they are able to train and support your team as they learn a new system. Are they available around the clock if you need them to be? If you're working with a small firm, is there adequate backup so your needs are met during vacations or illness?
In the end, what you are after is peace of mind. Make sure your IT expert can deliver it.
Which one of these three do you think that is the most important? All of them! They differ from each other slightly but all of them are important and necessary. I will explain on this article the difference and some examples for you to understand how valuable they are.I.Passive income is to receive money while you are not actively working on the business. There are many ways to do this. The following are just a few examples:1.To own rental properties.2.To own vendor machines.3.To set up affiliate marketing websites.4.To have different investments.5.To receive royalties from art and other intellectual properties.The good thing about receiving passive income is that it frees you up to work on other ventures while you earn the money or to have fun and relax. They all require some maintenance on your part. They are different from a traditional business or job though. You can become financially free and even rich if you get a few good sources of passive income.The catch is that the big effort is on the beginning. You may have to work hard to set up the initial business or venture. Once it starts making money for you and everything is set up, then you can most likely go relax or keep working on other venture to further boost your income.II.Now, residual income, what is it? Residual income is when you make an effort once and you profit several times, sometimes into the thousands and ten of thousands. For example, you write a book once and you sell 70,000 copies for $19 each. It may take some years to sell that many copies but during that time you could write another book, which leads us to the third topic on this article.So, remember, residual income is to make an effort once and profit several times. You can find examples of how to do this bellow.1.You write a book or e-book and sell it many times.2.You create a music/software/information CD and sell thousands of copies.3.You take 5,000 photographs and sell them as stock photography to receive royalties for many years.4.You make an investment once and receive gradual payments like with land and real estate.5.You sell online memberships like those offered by dating and hosting websites and as long as the client stays subscribed you keep receiving monthly payments. III.Finally, multiple streams of income. Once you find your first stream of passive recurring income you should jump to the next opportunity. Your goal should be to have a handful of projects or businesses generating passive income for you. Diversification is the key to success. You never know what could happen tomorrow. Most wealthy people know this. They try to have different sources of revenues.They invest, trade, start new businesses. They are always looking for new opportunities. You need to think like the rich if you want to become rich. When your first stream of passive income is making money for you, it is a good idea to look for a few other opportunities. Once you have multiple streams of passive income, you can relax and work a few hours per day to make sure that everything is running smoothly. The idea is not to jump from one business to the other without tying up anything well. Work to set up your first stream of passive residual income and once it is making substantial profits for you, then go find another and another and another, until you have several of them.Don’t overdo it either because you may find yourself working too much. The idea is to have diversification, so that if one of your ventures fail you will still have the others. Don’t worry, once you start making money like this your life will change. The rest of the profits will come from your investments. So, you don’t need a thousand streams of income just 5 or 6 could be great. Some people handle as much as 12 and they feel OK with it. Depending on what you choose to do you may realize soon that this is one of the easiest ways to attain financial freedom and to "become rich" . The rich know this and they do it and you can do it too!EasyWebRiches 2006
Many are called but few are chosen. Upper management decided that youve got what it takes to implement change. They combed your credentials with a fine-tooth comb, watched you in action during business, and appreciate your leadership qualities and people skills. As a change agent, you could be venturing into uncharted territory. Even if youve spent many years in the company and think that you know it like the back of your hand, taking on critical responsibilities puts you back on learning mode. When youve served in a specific position for years, youre familiar with the rules of the game. But when youre appointed as a change agent, youll need to transition into new functions, deal with people youve probably never dealt with before, and get acquainted with processes that you dont recognize.So youve earned the vote. Whats next?Essentials for a Change AgentThe role of change agent is scary. It could make or break your career. In their book, The Change Agents Guide to Radical Improvement (American Society for Quality, 2002), Miller and Lawton say: Ideally, as change agents, projects would come to us crystal clear. We would know what the issue is and who needs to be involved...Unfortunately, things seldom work that way. Change agents are often recruited by someone...who has only the vaguest idea of how the project should unfold.Well discuss five indispensable traits that a change agent must have:Know thy culture knowing the hot buttons of your organization will help make your task easier. How much you know of culture determines the amount of influence you can wield over people. Some issues to consider: is the company known as an early adopter of new ideas and technologies? Is there an atmosphere of distrust or collaboration among staff? Do employees nurture career aspirations? Do employees use the suggestion box frequently or do they ignore it? Collect the right data knowledge is power, they say. The data you collect will depend on the type of change being implemented. If the change is to improve the rate of repeat orders from a certain geographical area that your company serves, you need to ask: who services this area, what products or services are sold, which of these products and services bring in the least and greatest amounts of business, how are complaints handled, and whats the competition doing? When you gather the right data, you ask the right questions and then decide on the right processes. Good data can reveal a gap between what company staff perceive to be the problems of the product versus what the customers think are the problems.Be specific the problem with large companies is that they acquire what is called organization-speak. This means that the entire communications network is camouflaged in terms that mean nothing at the grassroots level. To say our company needs to be profitable in the next quarter is vague. To announce that changes are underway to make the company more efficient is vague.As a change agent, you need to say it like it is. Take the first example above. Wouldnt it be more meaningful to say, our company recorded profits of $800,000 last quarter. For the next quarter, we need to increase that by 10% so we should all aim for $880,000 by the end of the next quarter. If we make this profit, 50% will be devoted to upgrading our training rooms and materials so we can train 25 more people every month. By stating figures and targets and the reasons for them, team members will have something to work with. Master the tools, experiment with new ones it isnt enough to know the principles of Six Sigma. You have to master its statistical tools: pie charts, T curves, value stream mapping, amd variance tables. If Six Sigma tools dont apply to the specific change, there are other change management tools that you can use. An example would be the Prosci Change Management Maturity Model which utilizes benchmarking and assessments of interactions with companies underdoing change. Delegate refusing to delegate is a sure sign that the team spirit may not be all there. When a change agent delegates, he or she spreads the fun by letting others discover their own talents. Team members need to feel that you value their core competencies and that youre giving them free rein to use their talents to bring about change.
Q: How important is the name of a business? Should the name of a business reflect what the business does or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?-- Randy P.A: What's in a name? When it comes to your business, Randy, a lot more than you might think. In fact, deciding on a business name is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business. Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. It seems like all the good business names are either married or no wait, that's a different subject, but the analogy holds true. We live in an age when a business called "The Body Shop" might repair wrecked cars or sell skintight jeans to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that's right for you. The first thing you should do is conduct a little research to determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You would be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. Check with the county clerk and the secretary of state to make sure the name isn't already licensed for use or incorporated with the state. Also check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to see if the name is already trademarked, i.e., owned, by someone else. Using another company's trademarked name exposes you to legal action by the trademark owner. Even if your name is just similar to the trademarked name, you may find yourself in court defending your right to use the name. And odds are it's a battle you will lose.If the name you choose is not in use, you should immediately reserve the name with the secretary of state (if you plan on incorporating) and apply for a trademark to ensure your legal ownership. If you do not trademark the name someone can come along later and attempt to steal the name out from under you. Imagine spending years building up your business only to have some upstart trademark the name and engage you in a legal battle over rightful ownership. This is one fight you don't need, especially when the hassle could have been easily avoided with a few bucks and a few forms.Another important thing to consider is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the website address a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you're considering? You will undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive, and preferably have the .com or .net extension. You can use other extensions (I've even used the ".to" extension on occasion) if necessary, just keep in mind that you will need to put forth a little extra marketing effort to promote the website address as people typically assume a .com extension as the norm. Whatever you do, don't use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that is hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type in. One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customer's point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customer's shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? If you were in the market for computer parts, for example, wouldn't you look for a business that has "computer parts" reflected in the business name? Jim's Computer Parts may not sound as snazzy as Jim's Electronics Emporium, but snazzy doesn't pay the bills. Happy customers who quickly identify you as the source of their purchase do.The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in a customer that may drive them to you or drive them away. Words like quality, complete, executive, best, low-cost, and on time often spark positive reactions in the mind of the consumer. Words like cheap, discount, and used tend to create negative emotions. You'll notice that no one claims to sell used cars anymore, but the dealer lots are loaded with vehicles that are "previously owned."Finally, let's talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners, and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use. Can you tell me what any of these companies do: ABC Corporation, Big Dog Enterprises, M&B Partners, and Discounts Unlimited sell? I didn't think so.Also avoid abstract names like Yahoo, Google, Monster and Flip Dog (I am not going to list the names of the numerous local high tech firms that have bucked this rule :o). Abstract names will require a subtitle to explain what the business does or an expensive marketing campaign that brands the name into the minds of consumers. Unless you have deep pockets, I suggest you go with a name that describes your business at first glance and leave abstraction to the likes of Cher.Finally, you should avoid hokey names, unless of course, you are starting a hokey business. Crazy Dave's Stereo Shop is a great name if the business is really run by Crazy Dave and his personality is exploited in the marketing of the business. However, if you want to be taken serious, then give your business a serious name. Would you go to Crazy Dave's House of Dentistry? Neither would I.Here's to your success.
Its no secret that information products can be a highly profitable online business. For products like ebooks, mp3 recordings and other digital downloads, the start-up and overhead costs are minimal allowing for a high profit margin. In addition, the ability to attract affiliates with high commission percentage gives you a great advantage in the online marketplace. But maybe you just dont think your idea is good enough. Or maybe you dont think youre a good enough writer. Enough! Youre a smart cookie with great ideas and with the right plan, you can make your information product a success.Even though we may have the best intentions, its true that just because we think something might be a good information product idea, it may not pan out that way. To feel confident that you should move forward with your project, you need to do your research first.Heres some ideas to conduct research:1. Look for other products on the same topic. If there is no other information product or book on the same topic, that may be a sign that the idea may not be profitable. A bit of competition is a healthy sign of a viable market and if you create a better product and have better marketing; you can blow your competition right out of the water.2. Promote similar products as an affiliate. Sign up for the affiliate programs for these type of products and sell them through a Google Adwords campaign, to your mailing lists and/or on your website. If they sell, you might just have a winner.3. Poll your readers and your target market. If you already have a mailing list reaching your target market, poll them on whether they are interested in such a product and ask what kinds of information theyd like included. You can also conduct polls through Google Adwords campaigns and other advertising methods.Dont be afraid to spend a bit of money on an advertising campaign to research your ideas. Its better to spend $50 or so to find out that your idea may not be so fruitful than to spend countless hours developing your product and your marketing to find out youve created a dud. And hey, if youve done your research, you may find that you may just have a great seller and, in that case, youll have found out a lot of useful information by studying your competition and polling your target market. That means youre REALLY ready to roll with your information product.But Do You Have Good Enough Information to Share?Many people seem to doubt their knowledge and expertise, but when they finally get the courage to share what they know, its amazing what results come with it. Even if you dont think you can create your whole information product, there are options to help you along the way.Heres some ideas to develop your content easily:1. Interview industry experts. You can record audio interviews with noted experts and sell the mp3s and transcripts.2. Hire a ghostwriter to help you. Theres plenty of people who are excellent researchers and can help you put your content together for a fee. And dont worry; it doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg. You can use a service like elance.com to find a quality writer to help you write an ebook for a few hundred dollars. The time and agony you save may be well worth it.3. Answer questions. If youve done surveys, youll probably have plenty of questions from your target market. So, instead of trying to create all your content from scratch, you can simply answer some of the most frequently asked questions.Creating your first information product doesnt have to be complicated. Just do your research and get started. Once youve done one, youll see how fulfilling it can beand youll be creating your own Information product empire in no time.
Copyright 2006 Jim EdwardsOne of the best things about doing business online involves the fact that with a computer and Internet connection you can do just about anything you want.One of the worst things about doing business online involves the fact that with a computer and Internet connection you can do just about anything you want.In a business context, computers and Internet access represent the ultimate double-edged sword that requires discipline and self-control when it comes to the endless possibilities of how to spend your time.Now, for all of us who fall into the category of needing a tad more will-power to stay on task, help arrives in the form of a free software app for PC called "Temptation Blocker."Originally developed to help the software's author avoid playing "Half Life 2" (a great game, by the way) while under pressure to meet a critical deadline for his work, "Temptation Blocker" operates with a very simple purpose.He knew that if he could just let the sane part of himself set limits, he would head off the game playing in moments of weakness later on during the day.Now, for the rest of us who need a little help avoiding temptation throughout the day, we can use this same program in a variety of ways.The software comes free of charge for PC users (sorry, no MAC version at this time) by logging on to http://thenetreporter.com/temptation-blocker.htmlDownload the software and follow the simple installation steps and then restart your computer.Once the software installs, you start it up and see a list of the programs in your computer's Start Menu.You can check off the ones you want to block, tell it how long to block them, and then get to work.If you ever give in to temptation and try to start the blocked programs, a dialogue box pops up telling you how much longer until the programs are available again.If the program you wish to block doesn't show up in the list, you can browse for it and add it to the program list.If it lists programs you know you'll never want to block, you can right mouse click them and remove them individually from the list.You can then create profiles to block specific programs based on the job you need to get done.* The Email Addict *I admit it: I'm addicted to email.I've developed a compulsion to click the "Send/Receive" button on my Mail Washer software at least every 5-10 minutes throughout the day.Not only does it distract me to run down at least a half- dozen rabbit-holes daily, but it also adds greatly to my overall stress level.By blocking access to my email program, I'm actually weaning myself out of the habit of constantly checking email every few minutes and reclaiming valuable time.* Get Work Done! *No matter what deadline you face, by blocking those programs which tempt you to sidetrack and waste time, you'll actually get more time to enjoy them!Instead of fragmenting your time into inefficient bits, you can concentrate on one task at a time, get it completed, and then do whatever you want with the extra free time - and do it with a guilt-free conscience.
Establishing a relationship with an expert can bring peace of mind