Look Before You Leap: Market Research Made EasyWhether you're starting a new business, thinking about a new product line, figuring out what you can charge for your product or service, or simply trying to figure out how you can make more sales, then the book, Look Before You Leap: Market Research Made Easy, can help you.
Small Business Articles
HOW TO REORGANIZE YOUR TIME TO ACCOMMODATE A HOME-BASED BUSINESS
By Justin Tyme
Almost everyone needs or wants more money coming in, and with this desire most would like to start some sort of extra income - producing project. The trouble is, not many of these people seem able to fit "a second job" into their time schedules.
It's true that most people are busy, but extra time for some sort of home-based extra income-producing project can almost always be found. It may mean giving up or changing a few of your favorite pastimes - such as having a couple of beers with the guys or watching TV - but if you score big with your extra income project, you will have all the time you want for doing whatever you want to do.
The first thing to do is to sit down with pencil and paper and list your daily schedule. What time do you wake up? Then step-by-step, list everything you do each day. Most people will find that they have about three hours each day that can be utilized in a more constructive or efficient manner. As we've noted above, you may have to give up the time you waste in your local pub or a few television programs you watch, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Efficient time management boils down to planning what you're going to do, and then doing it without backtracking. Start by making a list of the things you want to do tomorrow, each evening before you go to bed. Schedule your trips to the store or wherever to coincide with the other things you have to do, and with your trips to or from work. Organize your trips to take care of as many things as possible while you're out of the house. Take stock of the time you spend standing around shooting the breeze - especially the time you spend on the telephone - and eliminate all that isn't necessary.
Whatever chores you have to do at home, set aside a specific time to do them, and a specific amount of time to devote to them. For instance, just one hour a day devoted to yard work would probably make your property the envy of all your neighbors. Don't try to do a week's work in one big flurry. Whether it's painting your house, fixing leaky faucets, or mowing your lawn and trimming your shrubs, do a part of it, or one particular job each day, and you'll be amazed at your progress.
Take care of all your mail the day you receive it. Don't let those bills and letters pile up on you. If you're unable to pay a bill immediately, file it in a special place that's visible, and note on the envelope the date you intend to pay it. Answer your letters the same day you get them.
The important thing is to think of time as your most valuable asset, because it is. So organize! Decide what you have to do, and what you want to do. From there, it's just a matter of arranging priorities.
Once you start listing and planning what you want to do, and then carry out your plans, you'll find plenty of "extra time" for handling virtually any kind of home-based income-producing project. People in general may not like routines or schedules, but without some sort of plan as to what is supposed to be done, the world would be mired in mass confusion
Laws, ordinances and regulations are for the purpose of guiding people. We live according to an accepted plan or way of life, and the better we can organize ourselves, the more productive and happy we become.
The secret of all financially successful people is simply that they are organized and do not waste time. Think about it. Review your own activities, and then see if you can't find a couple of extra hours in each day for more constructive accomplishments.
When you begin planning, and then when you really become involved in an extra in come-producing endeavor, you should work it exactly as you have organized your regular day-to-day activities - on a time-efficient basis. Do what has to be done immediately. Don't try to get done in an hour something that's realistically going to take a week. Plan out on paper what you have to do - what you want to do - and when you are going to do it. Then get right on each project without procrastination.
Finally, and above all else, when you're organizing your time and your business, be sure to set aside some time for relaxation. Be sure to schedule time when you and your spouse can be together. You must not involve yourself in anything to an extent that you exclude other people - particularly your loved ones - from your life.
Taking stock of the time you waste each day, and from there, reorganizing your activities is what it's all about. It's a matter of becoming more efficient in the use of your time. It's really easy to do, and you will not only accomplish a lot more, you will also find greater fulfillment in your life.
HOW TO RAISE MONEY FOR STARTING A BUSINESS
By Justin Tyme
The task of raising money for a business is not as difficult as most people seem to think. This is especially true when you have an idea that can make you and your backers rich. Actually, there's more money available for new business ventures than there are good business ideas.
A very important rule of the game to learn: Anytime you want to raise money, your first move should be to put together a proper prospectus.
This prospectus should include a resume of your background, your education, training, experience and any other personal qualities that might be counted as an asset to your potential success. It's also a good idea to list the various loans you've had in the past, what they were for, and your history in paying them off.
You'll have to explain in detail how the money you want is going to be used. If it's for an existing business, you'll need a profit and loss record for at least the preceding six months, and a plan showing how this additional money will produce greater profits. If it's a new business, you'll have to show your proposed business plan, your marketing research and projected costs, as well as anticipated income figures, with a summary for each year, over at least a three year period.
It'll be advantageous to you to base your cost estimates high, and your income projections on minimal returns. This will enable you to "ride thru" those extreme "ups and downs" inherent in any beginning business. You should also describe what makes your business unique - how it differs from your competition, and the opportunities for expansion or secondary products.
This prospectus will have to state precisely what you're offering the investor in return for the use of his money. He'll want to know the percentage of interest you're willing to pay, and whether monthly, quarterly or on an annual basis. Are you offering a certain percentage of the profits? A percentage of the business? A seat on your board of directors?
An investor uses his money to make more money. He wants to make as much as he can, regardless whether it's a short term or long term deal. In order to attract him, interest him, and persuade him to "put up" the money you need, you'll not only have to offer him an opportunity for big profits, but you'll have to spell it out in detail, and further, back up your claims with proof from your marketing research.
Venture investors are usually quite familiar with "high risk" proposals, yet they all want to minimize that risk as much as possible. Therefore, your prospectus should include a listing of your business and personal assets with documentation - usually copies of your tax returns for the past three years or more. Your prospective investor may not know anything about you or your business, but if he wants to know, he can pick up his telephone and know everything there is to know within 24 hours. The point here is, don't ever try to "con" a potential investor. Be honest with him. Lay all the facts on the table for him. In most cases, if you've got a good idea and you've done your homework properly, an "interested investor" will understand your position and offer more help than you dared to ask.
When you have your prospectus prepared, know how much money you want, exactly how it will be used, and how you intend to repay it, you're ready to start looking for investors.
As simple as it seems, one of the easiest ways of raising money is by advertising in a newspaper or a national publication featuring such ads. Your ad should state the amount of money you want - always ask for more money than you need so you have room for negotiating. Your ad should also state the type of business involved (to separate the curious from the truly interested), and the kind of return you're promising on the investment.
Take a page from the party plan merchandisers. Set up a party and invite your friends over. Explain your business plan, the profit potentials, and how much you need. Give them each a copy of your prospectus and ask that they pledge a thousand dollars as a non-participating partner in your business. Check with the current tax regulations. You may be allowed up to 25 partners in Sub Chapter S enterprises, opening the door for anyone to gather a group of friends around himself with something to offer them in return for their assistance in capitalizing his business.
You can also issue and sell up to $300,000 worth of stock in your company with out going through the Federal Trade Commission. You'll need the help of an attorney to do this, however, and of course a good tax accountant as well wouldn't hurt.
It's always a good idea to have an attorney and an accountant help you make up your business prospectus. As you explain your plan to them, and ask for their advice, casually ask them if they'd mind letting you know of, or steer your way any potential investors they might happen to meet. Do the same with your banker. Give him a copy of your prospectus and ask him if he'd look it over and offer any suggestions for improving it, and of course, let you know of any potential investors. In either case, it's always a good idea to let them know you're willing to pay a "finder's fee" if you can be directed to the right investor.
Professional people such as doctors and dentists are known to have a tendency to join occupational investment groups. The next time you talk with your doctor or dentist, give him a prospectus and explain your plan. He may want to invest on his own or perhaps set up an appointment for you to talk with the manager of his investment group. Either way, you win because when you're looking for money, it's essential that you get the word out to as many potential investors as possible.
Don't overlook the possibilities of the Small Business Investment Companies in your area. Look them up in your telephone book under "Investment Services"." These companies exist for the sole purpose of lending money to businesses which they feel have a good chance of making money. In many instances, they trade their help for a small interest in your company.
Many states have Business Development Commissions whose goal is to assist in the establishment and growth of new businesses. Not only do they offer favorable taxes and business expertise, most also offer money or facilities to help a new business get started. Your Chamber of Commerce is the place to check for further information on this idea.
Industrial banks are usually much more amenable to making business loans than regular banks, so be sure to check out these institutions in your area. Insurance companies are prime sources of long term business capital, but each company varies its policies regarding the type of business it will consider. Check your local agent for the name and address of the person to contact. It's also quite possible to get the directors of an other company to invest in your business. Look for a company that can benefit from your product or service. Also, be sure to check at your public library for available foundation grants. These can be the final answer to all your money needs if your business is perceived to be related to the objectives and activities of the foundation.
Finally, there's the Money Broker or Finder. These are the people who take your prospectus and circulate it with various known lenders or investors. They always require an up-front or retainer fee, and there is no way they can guarantee to get you the loan or the money you want.
There are many very good money brokers, and there are some that are not so good. They all take a percentage of the gross amount that's finally procured for your needs. The important thing is to check them out fully; find out about the successful loans or investment plans they've arranged, and what kind of investor contacts they have - all of this before you put up any front money or pay any retainer fees.
There are many ways to raise money - from staging garage sales to selling stocks. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the only place you can find the money you need is through the bank or finance company.
Start thinking about the idea of inviting investors to share in your business as silent partners. Think about the idea of obtaining financing for a primary business by arranging financing for another business that will support the start-up, establishment and development of the primary business. Consider the feasibility of merging with a company that's already organized, and with facilities that are compatible or related to your needs. Give some thought to the possibilities of getting the people supplying your production equipment to co-sign the loan you need for start- up capital.
Remember, there are thousands upon thousands of ways to obtain business start-up capital. This is truly the age of creative financing.
Disregard the stories you hear of "tight money," and start making phone calls, talking to people, and making appointments to discuss your plans with the people who have money to invest. There's more money now than there's ever been for new business investment. The problem is that most beginning "business builders" don't know what to believe or which way to turn for help. They tend to believe the stories of "tight money," and they set aside their plans for a business of their own until a time when start-up money might be easier to find.
The truth is this: Now is the time to make your move. Now is the time to act. The person with a truly viable business plan, and determination to succeed, will make use of every possible idea that can be imagined. And idea I've suggested here should serve as just a few of the unlimited sources of monetary help available and waiting for you!
SUPER PROFITABLE NEW TECHNIQUES FOR SELLING BOOKS BY MAIL!
By Justin Tyme
The total number of books sold by small, part-time mail order entrepreneurs is growing each year. Total sales each year for the past five years have increased by almost 30 percent over the previous year's sales.
Three "new angles" have greatly contributed to this phenomenal growth in total sales.
One is the practice of offering a wide selection of books via "mini-catalogs" to prospective buyers as "inserts" imprinted materials the prospect has already ordered.
Mini-catalogs are usually printed on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper, then folded in half along the length, and simply slipped inside the covers of a magazine or the folds of a newspaper. Often-times, a mini-catalog is folded and sent out as a self-mailer. Both of these methods of obtaining circulation are very profitable.
A book-selling "mini-catalog" is made up of a "full-page commercial" on the front page. This is your mail sales thrust, or primary attempt to sell a "featured" book with each of your mailings. The second, third, and half of the last page of the mini-catalog should be two columns of listings of other books you have to offer.
Each listing should consist of the title of the book offered, followed by a short description of either the book itself, or how the book can benefit the buyer. This is then followed by the catalog number of the book, and the price.
The bottom half of the last page of your mini-catalog should be devoted to your customer order coupon. The "mini-catalog" should be typeset, and printed on a different color paper for each mailing. Recent sales analysis results indicate that the better quality paper your mini-catalog is printed on, the more sales it brings in for you.
Once you have got a mini-catalog with which to advertise your books, you must bring all your efforts to bear on the problem of obtaining maximum circulation of your mini-catalog among the prospective book buyers.
The easiest and least expensive method is as follows: check at your area newspaper offices for a listing of all their distributors and/or route carriers. Contact these people and ask them to give you a price they would charge to include one of your mini-catalogs with each paper they sell or deliver. Determine how many "mini-catalogs" you will need for this kind of distribution, have that number of mini-catalogs printed, hand them out to your contracted distributors and newspaper carriers; then sit back and prepare to fill book orders. It's simple and easy, but best of all it really results in big profits for your book-selling business.
Another simple method would be to line up students from difference junior high schools in your area, and pay them each $10 per thousand to deliver your mini-catalogs door-to-door. If you have junior high school age children, this could be the easiest and least expensive method of distribution for you.
Major cities also have professional distributing services which deliver advertising material to the residents. Check your local phone directory yellow pages for their names and addresses.
The orders which you develop through the local distribution method can be filled by mail.
To expand your market beyond the local area, you need to solicit the business by mail. Several excellent books are available on methods of developing sales by mail, however, I won't attempt to steer you toward any particular publisher or author in this report.
The least expensive way angle to market your books is the Internet. Each book could have its own website. Each website would be registered with the major search engines and e-mail press releases could be sent.
Which ever method you use, remain constant. Set your goals, make a plan and follow through.
GOOD LUCK SELLING BOOKS BY MAIL!
HOW TO START A PROFITABLE HOME-BASED BUSINESS
By Justin Tyme
In these days, it's becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet with just one source of income. Thus, more and more people are investigating the possibilities of starting their own extra-income business. Most of these part-time endeavors are started and operated from the comfort and privacy of the home.
Most of these people are making the extra money they need. Some have wisely and carefully built these extra income efforts into full-time, very profitable businesses. Others are just keeping busy, having fun, and enjoying life as never before. The important thing is that they are doing something other than waiting for the government to give them a handout; they are improving their lot in life, and you can do it, too!
The fields of mail order selling, multi-level marketing, and in-home party sales have never been more popular. If any of these kinds of extra income producing ideas appeal to you, then you owe it to yourself to check them out. But these aren't the only fields of endeavor you can start and operate from home, with little or no investment, and learn as you go.
If you type, you can start a home-based typing service; if you have a truck or have access to a trailer, you can start a clean-up/hauling service. Simply collecting old news papers from your neighbors can get you started in the paper recycling business. More than a few enterprising housewives have found success and fortune by starting home and/or apartment cleaning services. If you have a yard full of flowers, you can make good extra money by supplying fresh cut flowers to restaurants and offices in your area on a regular basis. You might turn a ceramics hobby into a lucrative personalized coffee mug business. What I'm saying is that in reality, there's literally no end to the ways you can start and operate a profitable extra income business from your home.
The first thing you must do, however, is some basic market research. Find out for yourself, first-hand, just how many people there are in your area who are interested in your proposed product or service, and would be "willing to stand in line and pay money for it." This is known as defining your market and pinpointing your customers. If after checking around, talking about your idea with a whole lot of people over a period of one to three months, you get the idea that these people would be paying customers, your next effort should be directed toward the "detailing" of your business plan.
The more precise and detailed your plan - covering all the bases relating to how you'll do everything that needs to be done - the easier it's going to be for you to attain success. Such a plan should show your start-up investment needs, your advertising plan, your production costs and procedures, your sales program, and how your time will be allocated.
Too often, enthusiastic and ambitious entrepreneurs jump in on an extra income project and suddenly find that the costs are beyond their abilities, and the time requirements more than they can meet. It pays to lay it all out on paper before you get involved, and the clearer you can "see" everything before you start, the better your chances for success.
Now, assuming you've got your market targeted, you know who your customers are going to be and how you're going to reach them with your product or service. And you have all your costs as well as time requirements itemized. The next step is to set your plan in motion and start making money.
Here is the most important "secret" of all, relating to starting and building a profitable home-based business, so read very carefully. Regardless of what kind of business you start, you must have the capital and the available time to sustain your business through the first six months of operation. Specifically, you must not count on receiving or spending any money coming in from your business on yourself or for your bills during those first six months. All the income from your business during those first six months should be reinvested in your business in order for it to grow and reach our planned first year potential.
Once you've passed that first six months milestone, you can set up a small monthly salary for yourself, and begin enjoying the fruits of your labor. But the first six months or operation for any business are critical, so do not plan to use any of the money your business generates for yourself during that period.
If you've got your business plan properly organized, and have implemented the plan, you should at the end of your first year be able to begin thinking about hiring other people to alleviate some of your workload. Remember this: Starting a successful business is not a means towards either a job for yourself or a way to keep busy. It should be regarded as the beginning of an enterprise that will grow and prosper, with you as the top dog. Eventually, you'll have other people doing all the work for you, even running the entire operation, while you vacation in the Bahamas or Hawaii and collect or receive regular income from your initial efforts.
For more details on market research, business planning, advertising, selling, order fulfillment, and other aspects of home-based businesses, keep checking out my articles in The Tacoma Weekly On-Line. Each week brings more information your way.
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