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Think Like an Entrepreneur Virtual Book Tour - Tuesday, June 29

Join us for a virtual book tour stop at the “Your Focus Blog” on June 29th. You’ll get to ask questions about my new book, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life” (and about self publishing in general) and have the chance to win a few prizes.

Think Like an Entrepreneur Virtual Book Tour
Where: Your Focus Blog
URL: http://yourfocus.wordpress.com/
Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Time: 7:30 pm Eastern time

Business Planning and Funding for the Start Up

by Shannon Suetos

When starting a business there are a few initial steps you need to take, such as writing a business plan, how to get financial backing and so on. If you didn’t take many business classes, or marketing courses you may not know exactly how to get started with everything.

Business Plan

Writing a business plan can help you organize your business early on, not to mention help you get capital. If you aren’t sure how to write your business plan, there are many services you can take advantage of. You can find templates starting at around $10 and you could spend up to $5000, depending on what you need done.

Even with the initial sticker shock, investing in your business plan can yield a positive ROI. Your business plan is what investors are going to want to read, and it needs to be laid out well, and have specific information.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to answer this question, “how will you make your investor money?” Once you answer that question, the rest should fall into place. “I will be able to make money because of A, B and C—I will do this by XYZ.” Avoid using a lot of buzz words—instead be straight forward, and get to the point.


According to CNN Small Business, the top ten best cities to start a business are:

  1. Oklahoma City, OK
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Raleigh, NC
  4. Houston, TX
  5. Hartford, CT
  6. Washington, DC
  7. Charlotte, NC
  8. Austin, TX
  9. New York City, NY
  10. Baltimore, MD
CNN goes on to report, the best cities to get capital from banks are:

  1. Salt Lake City, UT
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Milwaukee, WI
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Dallas, TX
  7. Detroit, MI
  8. Columbus, OH
  9. Boston, Ma
  10. Newark, NJ
If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in one of these cities, there are still plenty of viable options to choose from other than bank lending. Such as angle investors and VC loans.

Gaining Capital

Angle investors are a great place to start for the new entrepreneur. There are now social networking sites that help you connect directly with angle investors.

This site helps connect entrepreneurs to the right lending source based on their future company’s needs.

This site has a state by state run down of angle investors.

Similar to FundingUniverse, this site connects people to the right kind of investors.
These are just three of many sites you can find by doing a quick search on Google. The SBA is also a great resource for new entrepreneurs for business plan writing, all legal documents you may need, and how to find investors.

Shannon Suetos is an expert on lead generation writer based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as telephone answering systems at Resource Nation.

Speaker & Trainer Marcus Smith on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Marcus Smith is a Professional Speaker and Trainer.  In this capacity he creates seminars and workshops designed to meet the objectives of his clients through the power of public speaking and communicating.

His background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, well over 50 speeches and workshops, and over 1 million views as a TV anchor at Home Depot’s Corporate offices.  He  blends hardcore analytical ability and natural communication skills to address business concerns from all conceivable angles.  His experiences have shown him that communication (or lack thereof) can significantly impact the bottom line of a business.



How to Create a Landing Page that Gets Strong Results

business woman working on a laptop
by Kristin Marquet

The Internet is saturated with content, sales pitches and products. As a result, you have to make your business standout from the rest of the businesses out there.

Landing pages are one of the best ways to do this. They are mini web pages with opt in forms to catch the name and email addresses of prospects. They are used to build email subscriber lists.

Your landing page should look something like this:

  • Use a headline (in red size 18 or larger font), a sub-headline (in black size 16 or larger font), followed by 5 to 7 bullets (in black font)
  • Keep your sales copy concise. The entire objective is to get the prospect to sign up through the opt in form
  • Use 200 to 300 words on the page
  • Use headline generator software to help come up with compelling headlines
  • Use a keyword selector tool to help pick the best keyword search phrases for SEO purposes
  • Use video to personalize your message. This helps you connect with prospects. (Check out www.marketingmakeovergenerator.com)
  • Use product or service benefits as bullet points
  • Use a simple opt in form from www.aweber.com, www.constantcontact.com or www.verticalresponse.com
  • Adding bonus products with (high perceived values) will help convert prospects
  • Use a privacy policy. Let prospects know that you respect their privacy and will never sell, rent, or lend out their personal information

If you're in a market where prospects are used to filling out opt in forms, consider using a longer landing page. You have to sell prospects to opt-in. Use a strong headline and sub-headline. Highlight all of the benefits of your product or service.

Answer these questions:
How can your business help your market?
Why is your business better than the rest?
What are you offering? Make sure it is something that is useful.

With a no B.S. attitude, Kristin Marquet is the founder and managing director of Creative Development Agency (formerly award-winning firm, Marquet Media). Kristin also develops, manages, and implements various internal and external communication and social media initiatives. With a strong eye for creating memorable brands and a diverse range of knowledge, Kristin provides strategic counsel to clients interested in developing successful internal and external communication programs across all media platforms. https://creativedevelopmentagency.com/

Kristin Marquet is a regular contributor to the Secrets of Success blog.

Photo credit:


With SMBs Finally Seeing Lending — How Can You Attain Extra Capital

by Shannon Suetos

We all know times are hard these days. Money is hard to attain, and most don’t want to part with what money they do have. Small businesses are the bread and butter of our economy, but what happens when they can’t find the capital they need to stay afloat during hard times?

The government understands how important small businesses are to our society, and has asked banks to start lending again. It seems they have listened. Bank of America for instance, announced back at the beginning of June that it would, “purchase $10 billion in products and services from those companies over five years, with the spending amount expected to grow by an average of more than 5 percent each year.”

Even with banks like BOA pledging to give more, “credit is still pretty tight for small businesses,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James and Associates to Market Watch. With that being said, what can you do as a small business owner to get the gears rolling again?

Tax Incentives

Getting creative with your taxes can be extremely beneficial—and there are some out there to help you do this. A bill passed this week will allow, “long-term investors in some small businesses [to] escape capital gains taxes. The bill [will] also increase tax deductions for startup expenses by new small businesses.”

Another bill passed earlier this year, will allow businesses to receive tax deductions for hiring the unemployed. “Companies will be exempt from paying their share of Social Security payroll taxes, normally 6.2% of a worker's wages, for any new worker who was unemployed for the prior 60 days. The legislation extends a provision to that allows small businesses to write off as much as $250,000 of their capital expenditures in 2010,” reported CNN.

If you aren’t familiar with factoring, basically factoring is when you “sell” your outstanding invoices from a client to a factoring company. The company then pays you a certain amount of money, takes over the debt, and works with the outstanding balance on their end.

Although you won’t get the full amount owed by the customer, you will be attaining more money. Getting your advance from the factor usually happens within two to five days following the validation of your clients’ invoices, though a factoring company allows online invoicing, you may be able to receive your funding in as little as twenty-four hours.

Many times businesses cut down on their marketing efforts when business is hurting. When in fact the opposite be happening. Investing in marketing can help get the exposure you need to attain more sales. A major reason small businesses are hurting currently isn’t the bank lending problem but, “businesses of all sizes are telling us they need most right now is more business," said Brian T. Moynihan, president and chief executive officer, Bank of America.

Online marketing efforts such as new media tactics are very cost effective, and can help get you more brand exposure. Even the B2B marketing is starting to implement social media, according to eMarketer, “studies from HubSpot have found B2Bs can find leads for less through inbound social marketing, and that social participation can help increase B2B leads.”

Telemarketing services may also be able to boost brand awareness, and help with promotions. There have been some reports lately of companies getting in hot water with “robocalls” where people have not signed up to receive these calls. If you do find this tactic useful, make sure you are calling only people who have signed up for the call list.

What types of tactics have you found useful to keep your company afloat? Let us know in the comments below.

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as b2b telemarketing at Resource Nation.

Public Speaking Fear - Will They Reject What I Say?

by Janet Hilts

Is your fear of speaking really a fear of rejection? That's at the bottom of public speaking anxiety for a lot of people. The way to deal with this fear is to first take a closer look. What are you afraid might be rejected? Your words?

Rejection Of Your Words
Here are a few facts to consider:
  • Fact A: Your words only count for 7% of the actual message that you deliver. 7%! Can you believe it? The biggest part of your message is conveyed through your body language, facial expression and tone of voice. So that seriously takes the pressure off your words, doesn't it?  When you're speaking - whether that's to a client or a big audience - your intention is to connect with them, isn't it? That's what communication is all about. And people connect at the heart. That's where those nonverbal elements come into play. They're watching your eyes. They're looking to see if you're paying attention to them. They want the feeling that you care about them and their problem.
  • Fact B: They want to feel positive emotions from hearing you - relief, hope, peace of mind. That experience does not come from your words.
    We've all heard words that sound empty, where the emotion doesn't match the actual words. Picture an eye-rolling teenager saying "I'm sorry" to a scolding teacher. The words aren't conveying their real meaning, are they? See how this reduces the pressure for you to get your words perfect? If your fear of rejection is about words, I hope your fear is shrinking.

On the positive side of things, think of the people you enjoy doing business with. They're just regular people, right? Just like you.

Now think of their speaking styles. Do they all have perfect grammar? Are they all fabulous speech writers and award-winning orators? Is their language completely clear of "uh" and "y'know"? Of course not!

And yours doesn't have to be either. For now, stop worrying about your words and focus on relaxing so your voice, face and body can react naturally. That's what helps you connect to people so you can really get your message across.

Once you get some practice speaking naturally, you'll find it much easier to work with improving your actual words if you want to. It's ironic that once you let go of the fear about the words, your options for words open up. Your creative ability and willingness to experiment with new phrases totally expands once your speaking anxiety is gone.

From the desk of Janet Hilts MPH, EFT-ADV

Copyright © 2010 Janet Hilts, Speak Up & Shine | Clearing Pathways, Inc.

Vistaprint to Select Four Micro Businesses for $10,000 Marketing Overhaul

Vistaprint, a leading online provider of professional marketing products and services to micro businesses, has announced the "Make an Impression® Contest," which gives U.S.-based micro businesses (1-20 employees) a chance to tell their story and win a unique prize package valued at $10,000.

"Over the past 10 years, Vistaprint® has been a champion of micro businesses everywhere, giving them the tools and services to succeed in presenting a professional brand image to customers," said Bridget O'Brien, vice president of marketing communications at Vistaprint. "The company launched this contest as a way to give back to that community and allow them to showcase their businesses. This gives them a forum to tell their story, but also have a chance at a prize package that will dramatically impact their marketing efforts, increase their customer base and enhance their brand."

To enter the contest, users can log onto www.1-800-Vistaprint.com/contest. Once on the site, entrants are asked to answer a number of questions that will let them tell their story and explain how they have made an impression on their own customer base. Small businesses will be judged by a Vistaprint panel and also by the general public. Entrants will have the ability to have their customers, friends, employees and fans vote for their entry in the contest, which will account for 10 percent of the final vote.

Four micro-businesses will be selected as winners of a grand prize including a $600 HP gift card, a Web commercial produced by Pixability and a full marketing package -- including a targeted direct mail campaign -- designed by Vistaprint's creative design team. The contest is open to all legal residents of the United States of America (located in the 50 U.S. states or District of Columbia).

Complete contest and sweepstakes terms and conditions are located at http://www.1-800-vistaprint.com/contest/terms-and-conditions.php.

Vistaprint offers a multitude of products and services micro businesses need to effectively market to and increase a customer base on a limited budget. Products include printed options such as postcards, address labels, and business cards; promotional apparel like hats and custom T-shirts; and marketing services such as websites and email marketing.www.vistaprint.com

Michele DeKinder-Smith Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Michele DeKinder-Smith is a seasoned researcher having specialized in marketing, consumer and business research for over 20 years. She has interviewed thousands of business owners and is an entrepreneur herself, who’s taken her business over the million-dollar mark! She understands the needs of large corporations, government agencies and the female entrepreneur. Through her research, publications, consulting and training Michele helps each of these audiences achieve their goals.

Michele is married to Rob and proud mom to RJ, who currently attends DePaul University in Chicago.  In addition to Jane Out of the Box, Michele owns Linkage Research & Consulting, founded in 1998 and Rob has recently started his own business, Beautiful Day Yacht Charters.


Persistence Sells With The Right Intent

by Tessa Stowe

Are you persistent in your efforts when selling? Or do you resist being persistent because of the bad impression you think you might make? Perhaps you believe that if your behavior is overly persistent, your prospect will think you are too "salesy" or even pushy.

So should you be persistent when selling? The answer is absolutely YES!

If you are going to be successful in selling, you must be persistent in the right way. Sales persistence is definitely a prerequisite for success, but if you are persistent for the wrong reasons, your behavior will cause you to lose sales fast.

Persistence is a double edge sword. Think about the following scenario. As often happens, your prospect cannot make a decision right now so you need to follow up with them. When you contact them again, they are still not ready, so you need to follow up with them again and again.

But after a few follow-ups, you are probably going to find that your relationship with the prospect is improving or deteriorating. You are going to find that your chance of making a sale - assuming there is one to be made - is either increasing or decreasing. Why is that?

It all comes back to their perception of your persistent behavior. It's as simple as that.

If someone keeps following up with you and you think the reason for their persistence is because they want to make a sale and get your money, how do you feel? Do you take their call and enjoy talking to them? Or when you see their number come up on caller ID, do you route their call to voicemail? Do you feel more inclined to do business with them each time they call? Does your relationship deteriorate each time they call?

In contrast, if someone keeps following up with you and you believe the reason for their persistence is that they are sincere about how their solution can help you and they are committed about getting you the results they know you can achieve, how do you feel? Do you take their call? Do you feel more inclined to do business with them each time they call? Does your relationship improve each time they call?

The major difference - and it is most important - is the intent behind the persistence.

If your intent when being persistent in selling is all about you - about making a sale - your persistent behavior will cause you to lose sales. Your prospects will avoid you. They will feel that you care about yourself and not them. They will also wonder about whether you'll care about them after the sale if you don't seem to care about them before the sale.

If you are openly passionate about helping them to be successful, your persistence will help you to make sales. Your prospects will be attracted to you and thank you for your efforts. They will view your persistent behavior as being of measurable value to them.

They will also think that if you are persistent in wanting to help them, then you will be similarly persistent and dedicated in making sure they get the end results they expect.

In summary, you must absolutely be persistent in your sales efforts. But make sure that your persistence speaks volumes to your prospects about how sincerely committed you are about in ensuring they will achieve their goals and get the results they want.

Tessa Stowe teaches small business owners and recovering salespeople simple steps to turn conversations into clients without being sales-y or pushy. Her FREE monthly Sales Conversation newsletter is full of tips on how to sell your services by just being yourself. Sign up now at www.salesconversation.com.

©Tessa Stowe, Sales Conversation, 2010

How Creative Entrepreneurs Can Mix Business with Pleasure

by Deborah A. Bailey

It can be a challenge to take a "right-brained" person and drop them into a "left-brained" endeavor like running a business. Spreadsheets, accounting programs, business plans – just thinking about those things can send a creative person into a tailspin.

What drives a lot of creative people into self-employment is that they are stifled in structured work environments. I’m a coach, and a writer, a photographer, an artist, a musician (if my years in the high school band count) and a lot of other things.

After working as a copywriter in the fashion industry, I changed careers and went into information technology. It may seem like I made a huge leap from the right brain to the left, but actually it wasn’t as big as it sounds.

 Learning a computer programming language was similar to learning any other language. In fact, when I met with the computer school’s counselor I was told that people who had a background in music or languages actually had an advantage in learning computer programming.

Who’d have thought it? Most people believe that there’s a firm line between the two worlds, but it is possible to cross from one to the other when necessary.

As a creative entrepreneur, are you dealing with any of these challenges?

Finishing what you start

When you are creative and you want to be self-employed, you will have to deal with schedules, structure and systems. Otherwise, you’ll either start a lot of projects and never finish anything, or spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to do, but never starting.

Being comfortable with money

Putting a price on your creations can be challenge, especially if you feel that money doesn’t mix with creative expression. Pricing is a challenge for most business owners, but you should never feel guilty about asking to be paid. On the other side of the coin, you’ll work against yourself if you feel that being paid equals selling out.

Working for exposure

A lot of the time creative people are expected to give their work away for the “exposure.” Well, at what point have you been exposed enough? When do you start asking for compensation? If you don’t have an answer to that, it’s time to take an honest look at things. Are you running a charity or a business?

Being uncomfortable with making money

Have you ever been told that you’ll never make any money making art? Were you discouraged from becoming a writer because “books don’t make any money?” When those messages are in the back of your mind, it will be difficult to build a successful business.

Being a creative entrepreneur comes with a built-in set of challenges, such as how to deal with structure when it feels totally uncomfortable.  

Here are a few tips for balancing creativity with business productivity

A schedule can be your friend

Make a schedule for yourself – nothing fancy. Just write down what you have to accomplish each day. When get distracted, it’ll help to have your list of tasks to refer to.

Admitting you can't do it all 

Hire help if you can. You may have a lot of interests, but some things are better left to the experts. Rather than struggle with an accounting program, you can have a bookkeeper handle things much quicker.

You don't have to be an expert in everything

Be honest about what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at. Delegation is not a dirty word. If you can hand off administrative tasks to a VA or an assistant, you will have even more time to work on the things that you do best.

Coaches and mentors are there to help

Get a coach. No, I’m not suggesting that because I am a coach. I’m saying it because no one needs accountability like a right-brained entrepreneur. There’s always a new idea that seems so much better than the idea you had yesterday. When you’re always chasing the next new thing you’re going to leave a trail of things undone. A coach will keep you honest by providing the feedback, direction and accountability that you require to stay on track.

If you’re a right-brained entrepreneur, you are a visionary. But every vision requires action so that you can bring it to life. It is possible to stop struggling and manage your creativity and your business.

Deborah A. Bailey is author of several novels and non-fiction books including, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life .” Visit her site at: http://DBaileyCoach.com

Picture credit:

unsplash-logoChristopher Ayme

How to Stay Focused at Home

by Shannon Suetos

There are many great benefits from working from home: you can set your own hours, wear what you want to and be your own boss. These types of benefits are what most people see when deciding to start a business at home. What they don’t think about, are the many distractions they are faced with such as: television, Internet browsing and family members.

Structure is something we all need for work—whether this means going to an office or staying at home there needs to be boundaries. The hard part about working from home is you are blending your work life and home life. Setting boundaries will help keep the two lives separate, even if they are in the same place.

Scheduling your day is just as important when working from home as it is when going to the office. Many people find it beneficial to take a few minutes at the end of their day to schedule their tasks for the following day. This can help streamline your work and get everything you need done in a timely manner.

If you use Gmail, Google Calendar is a great tool to use to get yourself organized. You can set up reminders and even sync text message reminders to your cell phone. Evernote is another popular smartphone app to help you organize your thoughts, and keep notes while on the go.

Internet Browsing
One of the many benefits of working from home is knowing you can take a few minutes to check out your Facebook without getting reprimanded by your boss. On the flip side of things, a few minutes can quickly become an hour or more. Lazyman.com recommends, “creat[ing] separate Firefox profiles for increased productivity…when I'm in the work profile, I don't have the quick auto-complete to my "fun" sites. During breaks I can load up my fun Firefox profile and quickly get to what I want.”

Work Space
Some people work well with distractions. Others need a closed room with no distractions. Decide what works best for you and go with it. There are plenty of companies who have televisions, and other types of distractions in the office to help promote creativity. Knowing how to assess what works well for you is a must for the home based business owner.

Taking a Step Back
Being your own boss also means you have to know how to successful critique yourself. Knowing what you need to get done and asking yourself how you could have streamlined the process is a must. Ask yourself questions such as, “ if I could only work for half of the day tomorrow, what would have to get done?” Doing this will help you set your priorities straight and help you stay focused on the big picture.
What do you do to help you stay focused while working from home?

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on direct mail companies based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as direct mail at Resource Nation.

Maintaining a Professional Image While Working at Home

by Ali Brown

One of the benefits of a home office is never having to wear a scratchy wool suit or pantyhose (unless you want to). The danger is that it’s easy to let that professional image slide if you spend the workday sitting on your couch wearing yoga pants and channel surfing in between conference calls. Follow these tips to maintain a professional image while working at home:

Stick to a schedule. True, working from home allows you to set your own schedule and gives you the flexibility to travel, take care of children, or otherwise tend to your personal life. But if clients never know when they’ll be able to reach you or if you sometimes sleep ‘til noon because you stayed up late watching movies, that can jeopardize your professional reputation. Your work hours will depend on the nature of your business and when you work best, but once you get into a schedule, try to follow it. And let your regular clients or customers know what those hours are. Being self-disciplined with your time means customers or clients can count on you and makes it easier to get work done.

Mind your social media use. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be excellent tools for promoting your business and keeping in touch with old friends or colleagues. But if you get too personal or casual online, it can have an adverse effect on your business. Remember, anything you post online is public. Even if your settings are supposedly private, it’s easy for one of your contacts to take a screenshot or retweet something they find funny and/or offensive. Be friendly, but put on a professional face and always ask yourself how potential customers or clients might react to something you’ve posted.

Manage your incoming phone calls. If you use your cell phone for business and personal calls, remember to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers in a professional manner. Resist the urge to answer if you’re in a noisy bar or next to a screaming child. In fact, if you have young children, you should set up a separate phone line for your business and make sure you’re the only person who answers it.

Set up a separate workspace. Even if it’s a converted closet or a corner of your living room, having a space devoted to work helps you get into a business mindset that you’ll project to clients or customers. Having a designated workspace also helps you navigate issues of work/life balance. When you’re at your desk, it’s time to work. When you’re sitting on the couch watching TV, it’s time to relax.

Get out of the house when you have to. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like a professional when you’re surrounded by laundry that needs to be folded or toys that need to be put away. In those cases, it makes sense to work somewhere else, at least part of the time. It’s also smart to have a place outside of your home for meetings. Coworking spaces often let you rent conference space by the hour or the day. You could also partner with another small business to share meeting or office space.

The bottom line? Maintain a professional mindset and create some separation (physically and mentally) between your business and your personal life.

© 2010 Ali International

 Self-made millionaire entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at www.AliBrown.com

Author Q&A: "Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months" by Melinda Emerson

Author and Small Business Coach Melinda Emerson was a very informative guest on the Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ show. In this post she shares more of her insights about starting a business and her new book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works

Why did you write Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months?

My mission as small business coach is to End Small Business Failure. I wanted to develop a tool for people who are unhappy with their jobs and wanted to start a business. I also wanted to discourage people from just quitting their jobs without a well-researched plan. Too often I got calls from people seeking my advice about starting a business—after they had already quit their job which is just too late to start planning. I started out sending these would-be entrepreneurs a one pager with start-up tips. Then it was expanded into a special report, 44 Things To Do Before Going Into Business, which was the basis for this book. Over the years I became a business coach and lecturer on small business best practices. Since the recession began, small business owners have even less time to hit it big with their niche target customer now. I thought the best way to help entrepreneurs would be to provide a step-by-step proven method to start a successful small business.

What makes your book different from all the other start-up business books?

Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months provides a realistic, month-by-month planning guide to start a sustainable and profitable small business. If you’re planning to start a business soon, the key to being successful is not only to create a sound business concept, but also taking the time to figure out the business of running a business. This book will point out the important and necessary steps to take – so you will have the right foundation for a small business. Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months is not a book about writing a business plan; it’s about planning your successful small business.

Why does it take 12 months to start a business?

12 Months is an ideal time-frame to start a business, it’s not meant to be restrictive. I have been an entrepreneur for more than 11 years. Based on my experience, I believe the longer you plan, the more research you will do, and the more money you save, the more likely you are to succeed in business.

What if you don’t have 12 months?

Sometimes people are forced to start sooner. This is triggered by layoffs, getting fired, buyouts or retirement packages. I only planned for three months with my first business, but the challenge with that approach is you learn plenty of lessons the hard way, and that can be expensive. If you live by a budget, have your debt under control, and have a significant amount of savings, you will be able to start your business much sooner. Depending on your individual situation, it may take more than a year to get your personal finances in order.

Who should start a business?

Anyone with a solid, profitable business idea, willing to learn the business of running a business, can start a successful small business.

Why do small businesses fail so often?

1) No Life Plan—You need to develop a life plan and then build a business around that.
2) No Network—People do business with people they like and people they know. Who do you know and, more importantly, who knows you?
3) Lack of Target Market Focus—You have limited time and limited resources. Choose a niche so you can focus your marketing efforts.
4) Undercapitalized—If you do not save enough money to run your household for at least a year and fund the business, you may not be able to hang on until the business can generate any real revenue.
5) Lack of Fiscal Discipline—Do you run your business with a budget? Do you just rob the cash register when you need some cash? Do you make business decisions based on up-to-date financial information?

What are the 7 Essential Principals of Small Business Success?

Throughout the past five years, I have interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and business executives. After listening to what they said about running their businesses and observing how they did business, I realized that there were 7 things they all had in common. They include having an entrepreneurial mindset, utilizing strict fiscal discipline, and having a kitchen cabinet of advisors. They make use of a well-defined brand identity; have a niche market customer, excellent customer service, and a firm understanding every day of their cash position by carefully managing their banking relationship. Using these principles can help any business run at its best. It’s the gold standard all businesses need to strive for from the very beginning.

Who is this target audience for this book?

This book is for anyone looking to create a plan to fire their boss and start a small business. It will also help people who are within their few years of launching a new enterprise. I have also heard from seasoned business owners who tell me that this book could serve as a professional development course or a great roadmap to reinventing a struggling business.

Melinda F. Emerson, also known as Twitter’s SmallBizLady is a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media. She hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs. She is the founder and CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, an award-winning strategic communications firm. She has created productions for such companies as Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Comcast. Her book Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works!” was released in March 2010 by Adams Media.

Melinda Emerson on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Melinda Emerson, “SmallBizLady,” is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing.

Melinda‘s mission is to End Small Business Failure. She publishes a resource blog, www.succeedasyourownboss.com. She hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs.

As one on the nation’s leading small business experts, Melinda has been featured on NBC Nightly News and in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report and Black Enterprise. Her first book “Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works” was released in March 2010 by Adams Media. Melinda also founded Quintessence Multimedia, a full service strategic communications firm where her clients include Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Comcast and IKEA.

Listen to the archived show: http://womenentrepreneursradio.libsyn.com/melinda-emerson-the-smallbizlady


Save Time with These Five Web-Based Tools

by Julie Barnes

As busy entrepreneurs, we are always looking for ways to save time in our businesses. Using the following web-based tools will not only save you time, but could save you some money, as well.

1. Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/) – Gone are the days, when we have to rely on a web designer to build our websites, or wait days for just a simple copy change. Not to mention the cost associated with the website. Besides static websites are a thing of the past. You can easily install Wordpress on any domain through your web hosting service. In Wordpress, you can add pages, make copy changes or make blog post without waiting or paying a website designer. Another benefit – Google loves Wordpress when crawling sites. Wordpress is free to install.

2. Hootesuite (http://hootsuite.com/) – Let’s face it. We have to utilize social media as part of our marketing, but it can take so much of our time. If we don’t watch it, a whole day can go by where all we have done is Twittered and Facebooked. With Hootsuite, you can manage multiple social media accounts at one location. One of the greatest features of Hootesuite is that you can track any link posted. You can also schedule your post, so you do not constantly have to log on and post. Now you can schedule your social media time. Hootesuite is a free service.

3. Tweet Adder (http://tweetadder.com/) – Researching people to follow on Twitter is another time-consuming process. By the time you look at their page, then their website you can spend hours on Twitter. Tweet Adder is a fabulous service that allows you to search Twitter using keywords. Tweet Adder will search for followers using the keywords entered, and then follow that person. Tweet Adder will also follow back anyone who is already following you. You should limit your following to about 50 a day to prevent Twitter from thinking you’re a spammer. You can take your Twitter time down to minutes a day. Tweet Adder has a demo that you can try, and then it will cost you $55.00 for 1 profile. This is a lifetime membership with no monthly fees.

4. Skype (http://www.skype.com) – You can do so many things with Skype from instant messaging, phone calls, video calls, and video presentations. You can set up different profiles from customer service, consulting, to personal to utilize in your business. Some features are free while some have a cost associated with them, so be sure to check the features out that you need.

5. Carbonite (http://www.carbonite.com/) – Carbonite is one of the best time saving services out there. No longer do you have to schedule a time to backup your system. You simply download the software onto your computer; Carbonite then scans and backs up your computer, then continually backs up your system as long as you are connected to the internet. Another fabulous thing is, if you have a hard drive that crashes, you can access all of you backed up files and then download them onto your new computer. How fabulous is that? Carbonite will cost you $54.95.

Implement these tools to see how you can find more time in your day.

Julie Barnes is the author is this post. Julie is excited to be living in Generation E – the age of the Entrepreneur. As a writer, she enjoys writing about all aspects of the entrepreneur journey. She enjoys interviewing entrepreneurs whose experience and wisdom can inspire others to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. Julie lives and works in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, KS with her husband Ron and lovable dog Hank. You can visit her site at http://www.julieabarnes.com . Follow Julie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/juliebarnesks. Become a Facebook friend at http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Barnes/1003024246

How Can You Help Your Website Load Time?

by Shannon Suetos

If you have a company website, it is probably safe to assume that you want to rank high with the search engines. You want your brand out for everyone to see, and what better way to get it out with a company website. But what are you doing to get your site up on that ever coveted first page of Google?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become more popular over the years as businesses are making a profit from helping other companies rank high on the major search engines. You may not be an SEO guru, but there are certain tactics you can utilize to help.

Google announced at the beginning of April that page loading time will now be a factor in their mysterious algorithm. If you don’t have an in-house programmer, or you aren’t an expert programmer, there are a few tactics you can do to help you optimize for faster loading times.

Reduce HTTP requests

HTTP, short for hypertext transfer protocol is a lot less intimidating then what it sounds like. Basically the Internet works like this—you have web crawlers (like the ones Google and Yahoo! send out) that read your site, and then they index your site and tell the search engines what keywords are relevant to your site.

If your HTTP requests are not in order, or you have too many it could slow down your loading time. In non web speak, if you are looking for a pair of shoes to wear and your closet is a mess, it’s going to take longer to find them than if your closet was in order.

To reduce your HTTP files you can do the following:

  • Combine your files so that there is less information to search. Make it as easy as possible for the web crawlers. There are plenty of tools available to help you if you are not knowledgeable on combining your files. SL Combinator, CSS Mixer and minify are just a few programs you can use.
  • Group images into one large image—doing this will reduce your HTTP requests and can help prevent a longer loading time. To do this you should use, “the data: URL scheme to embed the image data in the actual page.” You will need to do a little digging around though, because using an inline image isn’t supported on all browsers quite yet.

Avoid Flash

You don’t have to take Steve Job’s stance on Flash and cut it out all together, but many Flash files take a longer time to load. If you can’t live without your Flash, then think of ways you can use minimal amounts of Flash. Other great alternative to Flash is to use a large image or oversized header image. Both of these options can add a lot of value to your site, and will have less loading times than Flash files. HTML5, which is the newest upgrade to HTML code also brings an alternative to Flash files. Although HTML5 is not quite ready, their video tag will allow people to insert video files without Flash.

Clean Up the Code

Keeping your HTML code neat and tidy will also help with your loading time. Get rid of any, “white spaces and excessive tags that you don’t really need such as empty tags.”

Tools to Assess Your Loading Time

Google wrote in their blog after announcing the loading time factor now incorporated in their algorithm some useful tools to help you gauge your loading time. These include:

  • Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows a waterfall view of your pages' load performance plus an optimization checklist.
  • In Webmaster Tools, Labs > Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world as in the chart below. We've also blogged about site performance.

You probably won’t be able to change your loading time over night, but it is something you should have on your radar. Getting higher rankings in the search engines is a must if anyone is going to see your great product and services. Although many companies utilize pay per click campaigns to help get their website out there, it is a good idea to supplement those costly ads with high organic search optimization as well.

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing.

How to Attract all the Clients You Need

by Ileana Kane

I was taught if I work hard and take one step at a time, I'd get to my goal. For awhile that did serve me and it's only one way. What I'm talking about is day to day, striving and struggling to make incremental gains in business. It's the path of conventional growth. What I call ladder climbing instead of leap-frogging. What I'm asking of you is to be open to stop accepting present circumstances and being content with incremental growth in your business.

Take a risk on going for unconventional success by going the route of unconventional approaches. Go for a breakthrough! A quantum leap!

Focus On The End Result

Start first with a crystal clear vision (dream) of the outcome you want. Create a strong focal point for yourself and your business. Go ahead and visualize your arrival - just as if you were a runner readying yourself for a race. Forget the how! The answers will come to you like simple and streamlined solutions. No forcing necessary - stay out of your own way and let it occur. Now for you perfectionists, forget making the perfect plan, forget getting everything neatly organized and eliminating the risks. Be willing to be with ambiguity, confusion or chaos. All that you're doing is what Columbus did. He sailed into uncharted territory. Just keep your focal point of where you're going to land.

Light The Fire In Your Heart

Passion is the single element that will energize the soul, fill the spirit and put fire in your heart. Go with your burning desire, the fire in your heart, and you will never be let down. In order to allow this to happen, shift the limits on your thinking and give yourself the permission to carry you past the point of wishful thinking and halfhearted effort.

Employ New Behavior

If you want unconventional success, be willing for the unconventional approaches. Accelerate your achievement by rapidly employing the new behaviors. Otherwise, more of the same gives more of the same. So, if you lean on the dependable behaviors from the past they turn into major obstacles to your future success. To have a business without boundaries you must think without boundaries. Trying harder will take you down the path to burnout. Hint: More effort isn't the answer. Get uncomfortable and go for it!

Ditch the Doubt!

Imagine a new definition of rational thinking. What if rational thinking is the same as skepticism? The truth is doubts are the product of habitual thinking, not accurate thinking. Put the old inhibiting ideas aside (just in case you may want to pick them up again at some other time. Try on accurate thinking. Imagine for a moment you could double your income or even triple your income in less than a year. Suspend your disbelief from what's probable to believing in what's possible.

Ready Aim Fire

In the ready, aim, fire strategy, getting ready is the con game you're playing with yourself. If you wait to get all prepared, organized and perfect - you'll never get there. Taking action is an act of faith. Once you take a step the next step will appear. Your dreams will begin to crystallize into your reality when pursued-how cool is that?

Breakthroughs In Action

Ready to take a shortcut? Have you ever felt resistance to something that you want to take action on? Then you don't take action and you resist the resistance. Ready to change? Make a list of all that you are resisting. The next thing to do is to take action on each one. Go ahead try it...you'll be pleased.

**If you would like personalized coaching to assist you in overcoming your obstacles, email Ileana at Ileana@ileanakane.com for further details.

© 2010 Ileana Kane   All Rights Reserved

Ileana Kane, CEO of Ileana Intl, teaches Enterprising Entrepreneurs how to express their true value and get paid what they are worth. Her products and services show you how to make more money, save more time while enjoying the freedom in your business.  Get your FREE audio: www.ileanakane.com

The Power of 1 -- The First Numeral's Ability to Change Your Life

by Kathryn Weber

Feng shui is often called the Chinese "art of placement." But it is deceptively deep. There is so much depth to feng shui that at first blush it's easy to just chalk it up as a decorating method or fun esoteric technique.

Feng shui is related to time, space, elements, colors, shapes, numbers, people, and parts of the body. It's a way for understanding and categorizing energy that is difficult to understand. We discover the "qualities" of energy by learning and knowing feng shui. It's those qualities that makes important distinctions for us.

A man once wrote and asked me what possible difference could there be between a candle and a light bulb because I recommended light in a location, but not fire (candles). I explained that it is the quality of light that is the distinguishing factor.

Think about it: a light bulb will light up a room, but even the tiniest candle could burn down a whole house. Understanding these fine philosophical and physics-related differences isn't what's important - it's the implications they have on your life that is.

The number one relates to the north and to water. It is associated with the wave shape. That's because even one small change can create big waves! So, let's talk about what the Power of One means to you and how you can harness its power to bring about more results, more success and more focus in your life.

1. One small change creates many outcomes.

Dieticians often recommend patients make one small change to their diet rather than a sweeping one that is impossible to keep up. In cutting out just one thing from their diet, such as soft drinks, patients can see a remarkable change in many areas, such as looks, weight, the way his or her clothes fit and the way others see them.

There are many ways you can apply this "one small change" tactic. Each day do one small change and over time, you will see how this can impact your life. What's one small change you can make - a 10 minute walk at lunch, giving up morning lattes, organizing one drawer a day?

2. Singular focus brings big results.

We have been taught to believe that, like the cat in the poster on a unicycle balancing plates in one hand, and bouncing a ball in the other, that in order to be effective, you must multitask. This could not be further from the effectiveness truth.

According to the journal NeuroImage, doing two things at once cuts down your effectiveness to do either thing well. The problem is that we all fall prey to the trap of the "law of excluded alternatives," that in doing one thing, we are not doing fifteen other things.

Try this instead:

a. Do one task at a time and don't get distracted until it's complete.

b. Pick one single goal for the day, week, or year to focus on and work at.

c. Stop distractions like email audible and visual alerts - these break your concentration.

3. Problem solve.

Typically there is only one single problem that stands in the way of our happiness and effectiveness. See if you can answer the following questions:

a. If I handled_________________my life would be instantly happier.

b. If I removed ___________________from my life, everything would be better.

c. __________is the one thing that stands in the way of feeling good about myself.

Working to resolve the one major thing in your life that frustrates you is very powerful and freeing. What's the one thing standing in your way?

4. Concentrated feng shui.

If you have something big you need to accomplish, you need Single Minded Determination. This concentration follows the principle of compounding feng shui. If you have an east-facing house that's painted brown, your kua success direction is east, and you face east at work, you are compounding, or concentrating, your feng shui.

Use single-minded determination to remain focused on one thing and refuse to be distracted. Make all your efforts at completing that task, whether that's running a marathon, cutting out credit card debt, or gaining better health. Being single-minded can take you far.

5. Skill and accomplishment.

When we learn a new skill and have an accomplishment, there is a tremendous shift in our inner selves. We perceive ourselves as better and more competent. What's something that you would like to learn or accomplish? Maybe learning a foreign language, a computer software skill (both of these help advance careers and business, both!) or travel to a new and completely foreign-to-you location - maybe Japan, Iceland or Peru. Pick one thing and then get good at it or get going to it!

© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2010
Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook "Easy Money - 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui" visit www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

Kelli Wilkins on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Kelli Wilkins is a multi-published author who has written short stories, novels and non-fiction books. She publishes a newsletter, Kelli's Quill and posts on Facebook, Goodreads and the Amber Quill Press author blog.

She writes in many genres, including romance and horror. Some people think that's an odd combination, but she likes to say that one half of her creative side writes the horror stories, and the other half writes the romance. Writing across a broad spectrum makes for an eclectic writing resume, and her work has been published in The Sun, Weird Tales, and with Amber Quill Press.

Several of her romances have won or placed in writing contests, including the 2005 Amber Quill Press 'Amber Heat' writing contest, the 2004 Romantic Times 'American Title' contest, and the 2003 RWA 'Frontiers in Writing' contest. Her website, www.KelliWilkins.com is the best place to find all of her writings.


How to Think Like an Entrepreneur on the Job

by Deborah A. Bailey

As a direct result of economic realities, more people are looking into starting their own businesses.

For some, this will be a new and welcome direction. However, starting and running a business isn’t for everyone.

If you're an employee who prefers to apply entrepreneurial traits to your career, instead of starting a business, you can choose to think like an entrepreneur, while on the job.

Instead of being reactive and not having any control over your career, you can use entrepreneurial traits to be more proactive in your career.

No one wants to feel that their work has no purpose. It’s hard to get through a day, or feel any excitement for what you’re doing if you can’t see why that what you do matters. One reason why people go into business for themselves is because they want more freedom over their lives. They’re tired of being in an environment where they spend the day reacting to the decisions of others.

This is why tapping into entrepreneurial thinking can change your entire outlook. If you’re ready to adopt entrepreneurial behaviors, such as taking more risks and creating a vision for what you want to achieve, you’ll be less likely to get stuck in a career rut. It means taking responsibility for your decisions and for the results.

Here are tips to think like an entrepreneur in your career right now:

1. Take an honest look at your job situation. How do things look in your company and in your industry? Are there growth opportunities?

2. Be open to learning and growing. If your skills have not been updated in years, find opportunities to upgrade them now.

3. What’s your vision for your future? Where do you see yourself in six months or in a year? Are you willing to take steps to reach your goal?

4. Become more of a risk taker. Is there a project that you’d like to work on or a new process you’d like to introduce to your department? Are you willing to share your ideas or make a request for what you want?

5. Learn to trust yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself or your ideas, it will be difficult for you to take charge of your career. You have to believe that you deserve to have a better experience and that you do have something to offer.

Whether you stay in your work environment or decide to move out into business ownership, you can transform your relationship with your work.

Copyright © 2009 Deborah A. Bailey

This article originally appeared in Identity Magazine.

Deborah A. Bailey is author of novels and non-fiction books including, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life .”
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