Entrepreneurship http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4815/all en-US 8 Smart Ways to Save Money as a Small Business http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-ways-to-save-money-as-a-small-business <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-smart-ways-to-save-money-as-a-small-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-small-business-owners.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_8_strategies_for_saving_money_smallbiz"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>It&rsquo;s tough out there for a small business. When you&rsquo;re running your business on a shoestring and grit, you need to save money wherever you can. The good news is that technology makes it possible for you to run a viable small business without a huge cost. Here are eight strategies for saving money as a small business.</p> <h3>1. Share Your Space</h3> <p>Office space can get expensive. Instead of shelling out for a high-end building all on your own, consider sharing your office space. For many small businesses, it&rsquo;s possible to share space and split the rent.</p> <p>Another option gaining popularity is coworking. In this arrangement, you can work for free, or you can lock up specific desks for a reasonable cost. Some coworking environments include conference rooms you can rent as needed, and other amenities of a small business office &ndash; without the cost.</p> <h3>2. Hire Homeworkers</h3> <p>As a freelance writer, I&rsquo;ve been on the other end of this equation. Small businesses often hire me to provide them with everything from marketing copy to internal documents to white papers. When you allow telecommuting, you cut down on your overhead costs, since you don&rsquo;t have to pay for equipment, power, and office space. You can manage your business from a coworking space while your employees or independent contractors work remotely.</p> <p>If you hire independent contractors, you have the further benefit of avoiding payroll taxes and the cost of other benefits.</p> <p>Many jobs can be handled remotely, and you can function quite well as a small business when you hire virtual assistants and outsource such items as bookkeeping, graphic design, writing, and marketing.</p> <h3>3. Use Interns</h3> <p>Even with the recent dust-up over interns, they can still be a great source of low-cost &ndash; or even free &ndash; labor. Before you hire an intern, though, make sure that you can provide a worthwhile experience for the intern, and that you are willing to devote the time to properly oversee and evaluate him or her. My experiences as an intern were quite valuable because I was given meaningful tasks, and my supervisor offered useful feedback. Everyone benefitted: I received good experience and college credit, and the business received months of free services.</p> <h3>4. Hold Online Meetings</h3> <p>If you have remote workers, or if you want to set up meetings with geographically diverse clients, use online meetings. In today&rsquo;s world, there is no reason to spend money on expensive airfare to travel to business meetings. There are a number of online tools you can use to hold meetings inexpensively. For example, Skype has a video conferencing option that I&rsquo;ve used to good effect. You might want to invest in a decent camera and microphone for your computer, but it&rsquo;s much less expensive than travel costs.</p> <div style="text-align:center;" class="ggnoads" id="kamidarticle"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0" style="width:300px; height:250px;"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>5. Keep in Touch With Clients Using Skype</h3> <p>As a freelance writer, I&rsquo;ve had to call people all over the world. Whether interviewing scientists for Discover magazine, or talking to business leaders for my <a href="http://experts.allbusiness.com/author/miranda-marquit/#.UzNGlfldV8E">AllBusiness column</a>, I&rsquo;ve called experts from China to Brazil to Australia. I find that Skype is a great way to keep in touch with all my international contacts without the high cost.</p> <p>While you can call other Skype users for free, sometimes you need to call a landline or mobile phone; not everyone uses Skype. Buy&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_8_strategies_for_saving_money_smallbiz" target="_blank">Skype Credit</a>, and you can call landlines and mobile phones internationally (or close to home too!) for very competitive rates. For example, I find calling China from the US using&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_8_strategies_for_saving_money_smallbiz" target="_blank">Skype Credit</a>&nbsp;is a fraction of the cost compared to using a landline.</p> <h3>6. Combine Resources</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s possible to combine resources with other small businesses to save money. Talk to other small businesses and consider making orders together. By making larger orders, you have better negotiating power. From business cards to office supplies, it&rsquo;s possible to split costs and qualify for perks, like free shipping, when you combine with others.</p> <p>Another strategy related to combining resources is to barter. When writing my book about online freelancing, I offered free content and other services in exchange for help designing and formatting the book, and taking care of other issues. Connect with other small business owners to arrange such exchanges. Everyone saves money, and you all get what you need.</p> <h3>7. Turn to Crowdsourcing</h3> <p>One of the rising trends in small business is crowdsourcing. You can use crowdsourcing to raise money for a specific project within your small business through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It&rsquo;s also possible for you to raise money with the help of securities crowdfunding sites like iCrowd and Offerboard, which allow you to sell shares of your company without venture capitalists or angel investors.</p> <p>Crowdsourcing can also help you get professional services for a low cost. Sites like 99designs and Fiverr can help you find people to provide graphic design, marketing, writing, and other freelancing services. And, while I despise freelance marketplaces as a freelance writer, small businesses can use sites like Elance, oDesk, and Guru to their advantage.</p> <h3>8. Rebates and Rewards</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t forget that you can save money as a small business when you use rebates and rewards. There are plenty of places to find online coupons and promotions that can save you money. Sign up for a program like Ebates, and you can get money back. Additionally, there are plenty of rewards cards that you can use for your business to get cash back, discounts, and other perks.</p> <p>With the right planning and approach, it&rsquo;s possible to save money on your small business and increase your profits. &nbsp;</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_8_strategies_for_saving_money_smallbiz"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i><i><br /> </i></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-ways-to-save-money-as-a-small-business" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Smart Ways to Save Money as a Small Business" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/miranda-marquit">Miranda Marquit</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Skype Credit Fri, 11 Apr 2014 04:07:23 +0000 Miranda Marquit 1134733 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Frugal Ways to Land a Client http://www.wisebread.com/11-frugal-ways-to-land-a-client <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-frugal-ways-to-land-a-client" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-client-605.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_11_frugal_ways_to_land_a_client"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>You&rsquo;re probably familiar with one of the oldest terms in business, or the ABCs of sales: &ldquo;Always Be Closing.&rdquo;&nbsp;This phrase would almost be cliché if it wasn&rsquo;t true; a thriving business needs to keep prospects throughout all phases of the sales cycle, with special emphasis on getting a signed contract.&nbsp;</p> <p>The glossy business mags say that the key to closing a sale depends on wining and dining, often at a cost that&rsquo;s greater than what you can afford.&nbsp;Today&rsquo;s savvy small business pro can do deals on the cheap, however, and we have almost a dozen budget-friendly strategies for getting the job done.</p> <h3>Share the celebrations<b> </b></h3> <p>When our 6<sup>th</sup> son was born, a local bank sent me a laminated cut-out of the baby&rsquo;s newspaper birth announcement, along with a card and a special offer to open a new account. It was one of the few cards we received, so it stuck out. You can do the same for your prospects by making notes of wedding news, promotion announcements, or awards, and sending them along with a personalized card of recognition and an invitation to do business.&nbsp;(<a href="http://www.linkedin.com">LinkedIn</a> can be a wealth of information for finding out about these milestones.)</p> <h3>Do Coffee</h3> <p>Pricey dinners may not be in the budget, but a cup of joe is.&nbsp;If the thought of meeting in a crowded Starbucks seems impersonal, set up a meeting at a gourmet cupcake shoppe or an outdoor bistro with beignets on the menu.</p> <h3>Offer an Actual Freebie</h3> <p>&ldquo;30 minute free consultations&rdquo; are popular for service providers, but they may not actually give value to a prospective client.&nbsp;Keep tabs on your precious time and wow potential clients by letting them ask a single question via email &ndash; no strings attached.&nbsp;If they like what you have to say, a contract is closer to reality.</p> <h3>Use the Power of Public Speaking</h3> <p>Most conferences require that their speakers use the presentation time to educate, not solicit; this doesn&rsquo;t mean that you can&rsquo;t sell from the stage, however.&nbsp;Amaze the crowd with your knowledge of the subject matter and personable delivery. Remember that a good presentation offers solutions to real problems, as well as reminds the audience that there will be other issues you are ready to help them solve.&nbsp;By the end, potential clients will be coming up to YOU and wanting to know how you can work together.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Build Relationships With Skype Credit</h3> <p>Just meeting potential clients isn&rsquo;t enough if you don&rsquo;t call them to follow up. You should also schedule time to call current clients to see if they&rsquo;re happy with your service, as well as old clients to see if there&rsquo;s anything new you can do for them. As long as your calls are helpful and sincere, your clients will love the attention. You can use <a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_11_frugal_ways_to_land_a_client">Skype Credit</a> to call mobiles and landlines all over the world at extremely cost-effective rates.</p> <div style="text-align:center;" class="ggnoads" id="kamidarticle"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0" style="width:300px; height:250px;"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>Reinvent the &ldquo;Free Lunch&rdquo; Fishbowl</h3> <p>Offer a fresh take on this tired tactic by giving prospects a chance to win a prize when they sign up for your email list and ask one question related to how you can help them. You&rsquo;ll get their contact info AND insight into how to address their specific needs.&nbsp;(Prize winners often feel obligated to at least accept your cold calls.)</p> <h3>Attend Conferences No One Else (But Your Client) Does</h3> <p>If you are a roofer, attending a conference with a thousand other roofers likely won&rsquo;t get you new business.&nbsp;If you attend a conference with a thousand building managers, however, that is a different story.&nbsp;It takes research to find out where your best customers will gather, but it&rsquo;s worth it.&nbsp;Use sites like <a href="http://www.eventbrite.com">Eventbrite</a> to track industry events around the country and meet future clients where they gather!</p> <h3>Offer Referral Bonuses</h3> <p>This very traditional tactic still works! Let your existing clients know that any new business they send to you will be rewarded with a discount (usually 5-15%) and keep reminding them of this fact on every invoice you send. Offer bonuses for everyone &ndash; not just clients &ndash; by putting a referral &ldquo;code&rdquo; on business cards.</p> <h3>Speak in &ldquo;ROI&rdquo;</h3> <p>It can be difficult to assign a monetary value to using your products or services, but it can be done.&nbsp;Look at others in your industry to see what case studies they offer on past successes with clients.&nbsp;Can you do the same? If so, build a projection of the value you can offer to a potential client, and don&rsquo;t be afraid to throw it out as a possibility.&nbsp;Seeing the value is often all a prospect needs to move forward.</p> <h3>Ask</h3> <p>Sometimes, all a prospect needs to become a client is to be asked.&nbsp;The old &ldquo;what can I do to get a signed contract from you today?&rdquo; trick actually works.&nbsp;Maybe they simply need some reassuring, a small process change on your part, or a little more information.&nbsp;If you can deliver that final puzzle piece, business can happen!</p> <h3>Offer (almost) 24/7 availability</h3> <p>Do you know what really impresses a client? Being there. If you can&rsquo;t always be around, at least give the appearance of it by having a wide variety of ways for a potential client to reach you. Text, email, phone and social media are the bare minimum methods of seamless communication. (Can&rsquo;t be by your desk? Forwarding calls from your Skype account to your mobile or landline lets clients get to you anywhere, with just one number. There&rsquo;s no charge to the caller this feature.)</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href="http://www.skype.com/go/rates/?cm_mmc=SMAD_2214_wisebread_article_11_frugal_ways_to_land_a_client"><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-frugal-ways-to-land-a-client" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Frugal Ways to Land a Client" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Productivity Skype Credit Thu, 10 Apr 2014 04:06:25 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1134731 at http://www.wisebread.com Starting Your Dream Business Is Easier Than You Think — Here's How http://www.wisebread.com/starting-your-dream-business-is-easier-than-you-think-heres-how <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/starting-your-dream-business-is-easier-than-you-think-heres-how" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/small-business-5322435-small.jpg" alt="designer" title="designer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the great pleasures of owning my own business and working for myself is that I get to talk to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs.</p> <p>They <em>want</em> to be entrepreneurs, but they aren't quite there yet. They read all the business articles online, they constantly make plans, they aspire to own their business and maybe one day they will get there. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-home-based-side-business-ideas?ref=seealso">10 Home-Based Side Business Ideas</a>)</p> <p>I've heard Mark Cuban, and others, call them &quot;wantrepreneurs&quot; on Shark Tank because they are perpetually in the pre-business phase. Having ideas is great, but executing them is what separates true entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs.</p> <p>Unfortunately, so many of them never start a business because they put up barriers in their own mind. One of those barriers is that they think &quot;starting a business&quot; is an arduous task that will take them months and months, if not years, of planning and preparation.</p> <p>In reality, the paperwork of starting a business is almost trivial compared to everything else you'll need to do to start and run a business. But before you embark on filing anything, make one sale.</p> <h2>Make One Sale</h2> <p>Before you go down the route of &quot;starting&quot; a side business, make a sale. Just one.</p> <p>If you wanted to start a snow shoveling service, would you start by incorporating your business, getting insurance, paying for advertising, or opening a bank account?</p> <p>No, that's crazy. You would find a shovel and go door to door looking for people to pay you to shovel their driveway.</p> <p>That's what you should be doing with whatever business you're considering. Make one sale. You will learn a tremendous amount about your market by selling your product or service to one person. After you make one sale, sell it to a second.</p> <p>After you've made the first dozen sales, you'll know whether you have a business on your hands, a nice hobby, or a dream that can't be realized. It's valuable to do this before you waste time and money doing the paperwork of forming a business. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-money-making-hobbies?ref=seealso">Awesome Money-Making Hobbies</a>)</p> <p>Also, it's important to actually sell a product or service, not ask people if they would buy it. Most people are polite and tell you they would buy. But few people are so polite that they'd actually pay you for something they don't want.</p> <p>Once you've made enough sales to be sure this is a business, it's time to make it legitimate.</p> <h2>Startup Paperwork</h2> <p>So you've made some sales and you're ready to make it official. You need to do some paperwork. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners?ref=seealso">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a>)</p> <h3>State Licenses</h3> <p>The first step is to research the licensing and bonding requirements of your state. Some businesses need a license to operate. If you're starting a blog, you don't need to get a license or a bond to operate. If you're starting a tattoo parlor in Maryland, you need a Tattoo License before you can do business. Check your state's laws for what you'll need as it's different for each state.</p> <h3>Insurance and Bonds</h3> <p>The next step is to research your insurance needs. A surety bond covers guarantee of service but liability insurance protects you from accidents, lawsuits, and other business disasters. Some businesses need a surety bond, nearly all businesses should have liability insurance. If you intend to hire employees, workers comp insurance may also be necessary, as it protects your business from any medical or legal expenses associated with accidents on the job.</p> <h3>LLC, EIN, and a Checking Account</h3> <p>If you're starting a simple business that has no licensing, bonding, or major insurance requirements, the rest is easy. It's a three step process:</p> <ol> <li>Incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Open a Business Checking Account</li> </ol> <p><em>Do you need to incorporate?</em></p> <p>It depends. Incorporating is a must if there are any potential liabilities associated with your business because it shields you from your business, if set up properly. You are often not required to incorporate and can operate as a sole proprietor. As is the case with any type of legal advice, check with a professional and with the requirements of your state.</p> <h3>Incorporate as an LLC</h3> <p>Incorporating is often a straightforward process, but it depends on your state because the complexity varies. In Maryland, it's a one-page form (Articles of Organization) with a handful of fields.</p> <p>One minor bit of advice, in the area where you write in the &quot;purpose&quot; of the company, use this: &quot;To engage in any lawful activity for which a limited liability company may be organized.&quot;</p> <p>Some states leave this Purpose field blank, some states automatically fill it out with a similar phrase (California automatically fills it out with &quot;The purpose of the limited liability company is to engage in any lawful act or activity for which a limited liability company may be organized under the California Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.&quot; Don't get caught up in writing something descriptive here, it'll only slow you down.</p> <p>The cost associated with incorporating will include the one-time filing fee. In some cases, it may also include annual fees too. In Maryland, every business has to file a personal property tax return that has a minimum $300 tax. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-starting-a-small-business-for-the-tax-deductions-worth-it?ref=seealso">Is Starting a Small Business for the Tax Deductions Worth It?</a>)</p> <h3>Obtain an EIN</h3> <p>An EIN is like a Social Security Number for your business &mdash; you can get one for free by <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-%26-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online">applying with the IRS</a>.</p> <p>Once you get an EIN, use this instead of your Social Security Number on all forms for your business. Congratulations! You've graduated from sole proprietorship to an LLC.</p> <h3>Open a Business Checking Account</h3> <p>Once you have the incorporation confirmation letter (original with stamps) and your EIN, go to your favorite bank and open a business checking account. Look for one with low minimums and no fees. Most banks make their money off business accounts with merchant processing and other add-ons, so the base checking product shouldn't cost you anything. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a>)</p> <p>Use this checking account as the center of your business banking world. Any revenue you receive should go into this account. Any bills you pay should come out of this account.</p> <h2>Now Go Back to Selling</h2> <p>Once you do those three steps, you're officially a business. Don't forget to file the necessary tax forms and get back to the important part of business, getting more of it.</p> <p>Good luck!</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/starting-your-dream-business-is-easier-than-you-think-heres-how" class="sharethis-link" title="Starting Your Dream Business Is Easier Than You Think — Here&#039;s How" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jim shares insights and lessons learned with new bloggers at Microblogger.com. Be sure to <a href="http://microblogger.com/introducing-lifetime-income-blog-course/">sign up for his free (and very in-depth) Create a Lifetime Income Blog course</a> to learn from his experiences.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jim-wang">Jim Wang</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship business entrepreneurship starting a business Thu, 13 Feb 2014 11:36:35 +0000 Jim Wang 1124504 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/laptop-2187978-small_0.jpg" alt="running a mom-and-pop online store" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Building an online store seems like an impossible dream for most people. But after talking to Steve Chou at the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/fincon">FinCon conference</a>, I learned that even <strong>normal people can build successful, six-figure income, mom-and-pop online stores</strong> that allow them to earn a good living and live their passions.</p> <p>What I love about Steve's message is that he's not promising overnight riches, or even millions in income. He's saying that regular folks can build online businesses that allow them to escape the grind of a job and live the lives they're passionate about.</p> <h2>Meet Four Normal People Who Built Thriving Online Stores</h2> <p>When Steve and his wife were expecting their first child, they knew that they wanted one parent to stay at home. The problem was that they lived in Silicon Valley, and losing the six-figure income of one parent would put a tremendous strain on their finances. After considering several options, they decided to start an online store, <a href="http://bumblebeelinens.com/">Bumblebee Linens</a>, which sells custom embroidered handkerchiefs. Within a year, the store more than made up for his wife's income; generating more than $100,000 in profit.</p> <p>Nowadays, in addition to running the online store, Steve writes the popular blog <a href="http://mywifequitherjob.com/">My Wife Quit Her Job</a> where he talks about their adventures in entrepreneurship. He also has a course to help others do what he and his wife have done with their online store. (Check out his <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/profitableonlinecourse">free 6-day email mini-course on running a profitable online store</a> to get a sense of what the full course provides.)</p> <p>I'm excited to interview Steve and three of his students &mdash; fellow normal people who run successful online stores:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Ron and his wife started <a href="http://www.sunnydecals.com">Sunny Decals</a> because they weren't happy with the wall decal products available on the market. They felt like they could provide better, non-toxic wall decals for their baby's nursery.<br/><br/></li> <li>Tracey quit her accounting job and moved to Ecuador. Her store, <a href="http://www.artisansintheandes.com/">Artisans in the Andes</a>, fulfills her passion for providing hand-made and fair-trade products.<br/><br/></li> <li>Single-mother Sandy launched <a href="http://getunrobed.com">Get Unrobed</a>, selling custom embroidered kimono robes, when she wanted to quit her job in order to raise and homeschool her child.</li> </ul> </p> <p>All four of these people now have thriving online stores, even though they weren't born entrepreneurs. It hasn't been easy, but their examples show that anyone, even the most non-technical person, can do it. Here are their stories.</p> <hr/> <h2>Why did you decide to start an online store?</h2> <p><strong>Steve / Bumblebee Linens</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>When I first thought about how to replace my wife's six-figure income, I thought about taking on another job. But I knew that that wouldn't work. Afterall, it would defeat the purpose of our goal to spend more time together as a family. So ultimately, we decided to start an online store.</p> <p>The online store business model was perfect. You could have a computer server take orders on your website 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You didn't have to be physically present to run the store and all you had to worry about was order fulfillment.</p> <p>Basically, we could run our online business from our house and that is exactly what we did!</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Ron / Sunny Decals </strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.sunnydecals.com/jungle-wall-decals/" style="float:right;margin:0 0 15px 15px;border:none;" title="Jungle Wall Decals at SunnyDecals.com"><img src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/jungle_wall_decals_250.jpg" /></a>The idea for our business venture started a few months before the birth of our son. We were looking for ways to decorate the walls for the nursery, and decided to use wall decals.</p> <p>But when we opened the large envelope there was a terrible, toxic smell of vinyl coming from the decals. We had to keep the windows open to try to air out the room from the vinyl smell and eventually the scent did improve. But a few months after applying the decals to the wall, they started to shrink a little and now there was a noticeable gap between all the pieces that we put together.</p> <p>That's when my wife and I decided that we should make our own decals and create a better product than what was available.</p> </blockquote> <p><center><a href="http://getunrobed.com/collections/bridesmaid-robes" title="Bridesmaid robes from GetUnrobed.com" style="border:none;"><img src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/persbridalrobes1_large.jpg" /></a></center></p> <p><strong>Sandy / Get Unrobed</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Ask yourself what is really important and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around your answer." - Lee Jampolsky</p> <p>After I had my son, my answer to that question, what is really important, changed a little. Like any other new parent, I now had a little being who needed a lot of my time and attention. Without question, he needed to rise to the top of my priority list.</p> <p>I knew that I had to redesign my life to ultimately stay true to my priorities. However, redesigning a life isn’t easy and moving away from the traditional 9-5 job can be scary. It was a big decision. </p> <p>It took courage, but I finally began to design my life around what was important to me. So, I decided to open an online retail shop.</p> <p>I’m so glad I decided to do it because it is slowly opening up more opportunities for me and allowing me to move closer to my ultimate goal: provide nurture and education through homeschooling my son.</p> <p>I knew that I needed to think outside of the traditional 9-5 system. Here is where the courage came in. It was time to design my life.</p> </blockquote> <h2>How did you find products and decide what to sell?</h2> <p><a href="http://www.artisansintheandes.com/beaded-necklaces-bib-necklace-chunky" style="border:none;" title="Beaded necklaces and other accessories at ArtisansInTheAndes.com"><img src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/artisan-andes-stitched-600x120.jpg"/></a></p> <p><strong>Tracey / Artisans in the Andes:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>The first step was to find a niche for my store. This involved many hours of research on Google and Market Samurai. Steve's guidance at this point was crucial to finding a profitable niche. I finally found a gorgeous niche among the handmade jewelry available in Ecuador.</p> <p>I thought that it offered many selling points that would be appreciated by today's consumer. The jewelry is colorful, unique, and handmade. The organic beads are sustainably harvested from trees that grow as a natural part of the Amazon rainforest. For me, this niche combined my passion for handmade with my respect for the earth.</p> <p>Now that I had a niche, I turned my attention to sourcing my products and developing a unique value proposition around handmade. Since I was looking at handmade items, I couldn't exactly phone up local factories. I only had a limited understanding of Spanish and the local indigenous culture. But I stayed persistent, talking to people, learning a little bit here and there. I finally tracked down my first artisan, Olga, a talented woman with an eye for fashion who handcrafts tagua jewelry.</p> <p>My values once more came into play as Olga and I were negotiating the price for my initial batch of inventory. I was interested in making a difference by working with artisans to build their businesses and provide them with more opportunities through access to a wider market.</p> <p>Olga and I established a relationship where I paid a fair price upfront and she provided me with her best work. We spent time together to calculate the cost of the inputs and the time to create the product. I ensured that the price paid covered both elements. From here, I added the idea of fair trade to the core values that underpin my store and made it part of my unique value proposition.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Ron / Sunny Decals</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>When we decided to create a better wall decal, the first thing that we wanted to do was find a material that was not vinyl and non-toxic. Seems like a no brainer that you shouldn't put a toxic substance next to your baby's crib or child's bed, right? After a lot of research we discovered a polyester fabric material with a water based adhesive. The material is non-toxic, works well with a variety of surfaces like textured walls, and it can be repositioned dozens of times.</p> <p>Unlike vinyl, this material did not need transfer paper or special tools to apply. All you have to do is remove the decal from the wax paper with your fingers and apply it anywhere you want. If you don't like where you applied it, then you can peel it off and reposition it.</p> <p>The only drawback is the price. The reason everyone online is using vinyl is because of the cheap cost. We believe that the extra cost is worth it for a top quality product for your child's bedroom.</p> </blockquote> <h2>How much did it cost to start your online store?</h2> <p><strong>Steve / Bumblebee Linens</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The best part about an online store is it costs very little to start. You don't need office space. You don't need to hire anyone. Renting a computer server only cost about $7/month.</p> <p><a href="http://bumblebeelinens.com/wedding-handkerchiefs-personalized-monogrammed-c-21_45.html" title="Personalized monogramed hankies for wedding parties by BumblebeeLinens.com" style="float:right;border:none;margin:0 0 15px 15px;"><img src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/bumblebee-200x448.jpg"/></a>It cost us about $630 to get our ecommerce store open for business. Here the breakdown:</p> <p><ul> <li><em>Webhosting - $7/month</em><br/> We launched our online store on shared hosting and stayed on a shared server for about 2 years until we outgrew it. At $7/month it was cheap enough that we knew we could keep our store open indefinitely even if sales were slow.<br/><br/></li> <li><em>Shopping Cart/Website - Free</em><br/> Most people are scared of the technical aspects of running an online store and creating a website. But did you know that there are many open source shopping cart packages available that are absolutely free. What that means is that you can start a fully functional online store for very little money.<br/><br/></li> <li><em>Digital Camera - $200</em><br/> We took pictures of our products with a cheap point and shoot digital camera. These days, you can probably even get by with just your smart phone.<br/><br/></li> <li><em>Computer - $100 </em><br/> For our "business" computer, we commandeered a cheap box that we found on Craigslist. Creating a website doesn't require a powerful computer. You just need a basic box that can surf the web.<br/><br/></li> <li><em>Inventory - $322.90</em><br/> When we first started, we stocked a wide variety of products in very small quantities. This allowed us to test the market in order to see which products sold well. Then we placed larger orders of our bestsellers.<br/><br/></li> <li><em>Shipping Materials - Free</em><br/> Most shipping carriers such as USPS offer free shipping boxes if you use their services. So in most cases, you don't have to worry about buying shipping materials at all.</li> </ul> </p> </blockquote> <h2>What shopping cart software did you choose?</h2> <p><strong>Tracey / Artisans in the Andes</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>I chose to use Opencart, an open source shopping cart, as the basis for the shop. Going with an open source cart has been a challenge for me as I had to learn some programming to set the shop up as I envisioned it. On the other hand, I really wanted to understand how my business operates from the bottom up, so this was a good choice for me.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Ron / Sunny Decals</strong>:</p> <blockquote><p>One of the most difficult decisions at first was whether we should use a hosted or open source shopping cart. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. We finally ended up choosing to go with a hosted option with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/bigcommerce">Big Commerce</a>.</p> <p>The reason we chose to go this route is because there is less setup and maintenance involved. We do not have to worry about updates and security. Looking back, I believe that we made the best decision for our needs.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Steve / Bumblebee Linens</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>We use OSCommerce to run Bumblebee Linens, but for those that don't want to deal with the technical aspects of hosting and setting up a free open source cart, there are three great fully-hosted solutions. <a href="http://volusion.com">Volusion</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/bigcommerce">Big Commerce</a> and <a href="http://www.shopify.com/wisebread">Shopify</a> will all allow you to launch a fully functional online store within a matter of minutes without knowing a lick of HTML.</p> </blockquote> <p>(<em>Editor's Note:</em> <a href="http://www.shopify.com/wisebread">Wise Bread readers get 20% off all plans on Shopify by clicking here.</a>)</p> <h2>How did you get sales once you opened for business?</h2> <p><strong>Ron / Sunny Decals</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>One of the most time consuming things involving a new store online, is trying to get your name and brand out to the public. There are no short cuts here; it just takes a lot of time and effort. To accomplish this we write a blog, we try to write on other peoples' blogs, and we try to get our product in front of companies specializing in our field.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Tracey / Artisans in the Andes:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>Right after launching, we took a break and went on a rafting vacation to Tena, a little town in the rainforest. I found out about my first sale of $93 when I ducked into an internet cafe. I was amazed to see that I had recovered <em>20% of my initial investment with my very first sale!</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Steve / Bumblebee Linens:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>Truth be told, business was very slow in the beginning. After all, my wife and I had never run any sort of business before. We didn't know the first thing about selling online. And we had no idea how to market ourselves either.</p> <p>So we picked up as many books about the subject and forced ourselves to learn. We learned how to use pay per click advertising. We learned about search engine optimization. We did the leg work and the grunt work of calling event planners and wedding planners who would buy our products in bulk!</p> <p>Slowly but surely, business started picking up and by the 6 month mark, our business started to snowball. By the end of the year, we had made over <em>$100,000 in profit</em> which was enough to supplant my wife's lost income!</p> <p>So when my wife's maternity leave ended, she was able to quit her job knowing that we wouldn't have to make any major sacrifices for her to stay at home. And here's the best part. Over the past 5 years, our business has continued to grow in the double and triple digits.</p> <p>What started out as a small side business now generates enough income so that neither one of us has to work at all!</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Sandy / Get Unrobed:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>One of my favorite things about running this site is getting sales out of the blue. Back when I was in B2B sales, I would have to have a long discussion with each of my prospective clients. Even then, I was never certain of a sale. With an online shop, the work I do will carry over to every other potential customer. For instance, the work to get a product shoot done is only done once. Yet, it goes a long way in reaching each of my potential customers. I don’t have to re-shoot for each new potential customer, whereas while I was calling up businesses in the past, I needed to go through the entire sales pitch every single time.</p> <p>My favorite example of this idea in action was about 2 months into opening my site. I had recently had a professional product shoot and sales were starting to come in a little quicker than before. It was Friday night and I was at the park with my son. In between games of tag and trips down the slide, I checked my phone and saw a sale close to $250. It was my biggest sale at the time.</p> <p>I was excited, especially because it came just hours after sending out a decent sized shipment for the past few days. About thirty minutes later, another sale rolled in. Not as big, but enough to make that my biggest sales day up to that point. After that, sales came more frequently. They came in the middle of the night, while I was at my day job and while I was out with friends.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Any final inspiring thoughts?</h2> <p><strong>Tracey / Artisans in the Andes</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Setting up a business and keeping it going requires focused work over a long period of time. Having a business where I have a strong connection to the product and the underlying values keeps me on track and motivated. I kept moving forward, starting with the things that I knew for sure, then allowing my values to creatively guide me at each major decision point.</p> <p>I have ended up with a business that has a deep meaning for me with potential for making a difference in the lives of others. The underlying basis is respectful to both artisans and to the earth. I feel thankful that I got to this point and look forward to how my shop will grow and develop.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Sandy / Get Unrobed</strong>:</p> <blockquote> <p>When I review my reason for heading down this path, to stop trading time for money, to increase both simultaneously, running my own store from home does it. This allows me to work once and carry the results of that work through. This allows me to spend time doing things that are important to me. It allows me to design my life rather than default to whatever is thrown my way.</p> <p>If you have the courage to step outside the norm and the wisdom to do it right, you can design your life to reflect what is important to you.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Steve / Bumblebee Linens:</strong></p> <blockquote> <p>Starting an online business is not that scary. And it doesn't take a lot of money.</p> <p>$100,000 per year &mdash; that was our magic number. At first, it seemed like an unobtainable amount of money to make. But when you break it down by the numbers, $100k per year is $8,333 per month, or only $278 per day.</p> <p>The average order size of our online store is roughly $50. So when we first cracked the $100k barrier (in our first year, by the way), we were only getting <em>6 orders per day</em>.</p> <p>In retrospect, 6 orders per day doesn't sound like a whole lot does it? The world is a very big place and you'd be surprised by how many people shop online. And it only cost us $630 to start. So do you have $630 to spare?</p> <p>The bottom line is that starting your own online business is not very risky and doesn't cost that much either.</p> </blockquote> <hr/> <p>I'd like to thank Steve and his students Ron, Tracey, and Sandy for taking the time to share their stories. These non-technical people were able to launch their own online stores, and in turn, live out their dreams and passions. I'm glad to know the mom-and-pop store is still alive and kicking in this internet age!</p> <p>You can join these four entrepreneurs in Steve's online course: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/profitableonlinestore">Profitable Online Store</a>. At the very least, I highly recommend <strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go/profitableonlinecourse">subscribing to Steve's free email mini-course</a></strong>. It's chock full of useful advice for people thinking about starting an online store, and even if you never sign up for the full course, you'll get plently of great advice that will help you get started in launching your own online store.</p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship ecommerce online store small business Sat, 01 Feb 2014 11:42:58 +0000 Greg Go 1122923 at http://www.wisebread.com How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/obstacle-167160369.jpg" alt="obstacle" title="obstacle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's note: Jim Wang launched the personal finance blog Bargaineering.com in 2005. Five years later, he sold the site for $3 million. Today, he runs <a href="http://microblogger.com/introducing-lifetime-income-blog-course/">Microblogger.com</a>, where he teaches new bloggers how to build successful blog businesses.</em></p> <p>There's always a wall. A hump. A plateau.</p> <p>It might come on day two, it might come on year two, but there's always a point in every business where you feel like you've hit a wall. That moment when you aren't quite sure if you're just going up a small hill or if you've just run into Mount Everest.</p> <p>For me, that moment was about six months in. I'd started <a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/?utm_source">Bargaineering</a> in January of 2005 and by July and August, in the depths of the summer slowdown, I felt as if the site might have run its course. I started it as a journal to document everything I was learning about personal finance. Six months in, when the rush of constant discovery and of daily growth had subsided, I was left with a website that was only making a few cents to maybe a dollar a day and a feeling that I'd learned enough.</p> <p>This is very common. When the euphoria of starting a new venture, of meeting all these new people, and of discovering something fresh and new subsides, you're left with the reality of running your own business &mdash; and it's tough.</p> <p>Fortunately there are techniques you can use to get over the wall, crest that hump, and overcome the plateau so you can escape the local peak and reach your full potential.</p> <h2>Hit the Reset Button</h2> <p>Any business can be a grind; sometimes you need to hit the reset button. I don't mean that you should reset the business &mdash; reset <em>yourself</em>. If the business can handle it, step away and go on a sabbatical. Use this time to think about what's important to you, what you want to focus on, and whether you can adjust your situation so that you spend more time on the things that are important, rather than the things you &quot;must&quot; do.</p> <p>If you can't get away, take some time to re-evaluate your situation. Are you doing tasks that drain you of your energy and could be outsourced? Are you stuck doing the day to day, which you hate, instead of strategizing and planning? Oftentimes it's the day to day minutiae, which is a necessary evil, that causes us to feel like we're in a rut &mdash; not the business itself.</p> <h2>Lean on Your Support Network</h2> <p>A strong support network, whether it's just a handful of close friends or a more structured mastermind group, can help you overcome many of the emotional challenges of running your own business.</p> <p>You just spent the last week putting together these awesome posts that you swore would become popular, but didn't. You just recorded and edited these amazing podcasts, but only a few people listened. You just released several new products, but no one is buying.</p> <p>You're starting to doubt yourself, doubt the mission, and ponder quitting.</p> <p>Lean on your support network. Ask for their opinions, bounce ideas off them to see what might work better next time, and otherwise just use them as a way to get things off your chest.</p> <h2>Network, Network, Network</h2> <p>Ask anyone who has ever been successful and they'll often point to their network. Networking, which is a fancy term for going out and meeting new people, is absolutely essential to any business and can be a lifeline when you've hit that proverbial wall.</p> <p>Meeting new people gives you the opportunity to constantly evolve that support network, and it also gives you the opportunity rely on the expertise of others when yours might be insufficient. There is so much you can learn by meeting new people, especially if they're outside your domain, and you can only do so if you meet them!</p> <h2>Create or Update Your Plan of Attack</h2> <p>When you started your business, you probably had a plan of attack. A list of things you were going to accomplish, target milestones, and a schedule managing it all. Oftentimes, we run into that wall when our business reaches the end of that plan or we get derailed somehow. Our efforts become unfocused, we don't see progress, and we feel like we're in a rut.</p> <p>Use this opportunity to update your plan of attack, reset your milestones, and focus on your effort, rather than the results. It's very difficult to get over the hump if you have no plan for doing so.</p> <h2>Pick Up a New Hobby</h2> <p>I love the concept of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)">flow</a>, which is defined as a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full engagement, and enjoyment of some activity. When someone says they're &quot;in the moment&quot; or &quot;in the zone,&quot; that's the feeling we're talking about.</p> <p>You want to pick up a hobby so that you have something else that you are constantly improving and can feel &quot;in the flow.&quot; I started running, and it's given me an opportunity to both exercise and think about my business with a clear mind.</p> <h2>Focus on Data, Not Emotions</h2> <p>Why do you feel like you've hit a wall? Is it because sales have stagnated? Traffic? Revenue or profits? Has growth slowed? In many cases, it's data that's driving the emotion, so why not focus on that and dig deeper?</p> <p>If your business is a blog and you measure your progress based on traffic, dig into the numbers to see if you should be focusing on one channel over another. How much traffic do you get from social media? Search? Referrals? Which channel needs more attention? Should you be doing more in social or perhaps writing more guest posts?</p> <p>In almost every case, there is always something you can do. If you can't think of what that might be, ask people you trust for their advice.</p> <p>I'm glad I was able to persevere through those moments of doubt because by September of 2005, just a couple months after I had hit that wall, I was featured in the New York Times, and I never looked back. I hit a few more bumps in the road, found myself stuck on a few plateaus, but the rush of being on the New York Times, the prospect of being in it again (I would eventually get mentioned three times, each one was a thrill), and of the techniques I shared was enough to push me through.</p> <p>If you ever need a little help getting through the hump, reach out to me. I'm happy to help.</p> <p><em>Jim shares insights and lessons learned with new bloggers at Microblogger.com. Be sure to </em><a href="http://microblogger.com/introducing-lifetime-income-blog-course/"><em>sign up for his free (and very in-depth)</em> Create a Lifetime Income Blog <em>course</em></a><em> to learn from his experiences.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-got-over-the-hump-and-sold-my-blog-for-3-million" class="sharethis-link" title="How I Got Over the Hump and Sold My Blog for $3 Million" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jim-wang">Jim Wang</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship blogging extra income freelance small business work at home Thu, 05 Dec 2013 11:36:19 +0000 Jim Wang 1098710 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways to Make Money With Friends http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-money-with-friends <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-make-money-with-friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-4912069-small.jpg" alt="friends" title="friends" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tired of your boring job? Wish you could find a way to earn a living while spending your days with people you actually like? You can. All you have to do is look to your friends. Check out these seven ways to make cash with your buddies. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-talk-to-friends-about-money">Should You Talk to Friends About Money?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Set Up a Group Yard Sale</h2> <p>While a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-mistakes-that-can-ruin-your-yard-sale">massive yard sale</a> with your friends won&rsquo;t make you rich or even make you a decent living, it will put fast cash in your pocket while helping you unload years worth of accumulated clutter. There are several benefits to partnering for yard sale with friends. First, you&rsquo;ll benefit from a larger network of people who will help promote and market the event to friends and family and around the neighborhood, so you can increase the number of visitors to the sale. Second, when the sale is over, you&rsquo;ll have extra hands to help load up all the leftovers so you can cart them off to a donation drop.</p> <h2>2. Start a Business Together</h2> <p>I could have made this article a big list of all the different kinds of businesses you can start with a friend &mdash; restaurant, day care center, moving company &mdash; but that list is virtually endless. The most important message I need to send in this regard is that if you want to start a business with friends, you should have a meeting, discuss your strengths and passions, and start tossing around ideas for potential companies you can launch that will make you all happy. A good amount of capital in the bank doesn&rsquo;t hurt either.</p> <h2>3. Make Each Other Your Go-To Resources&nbsp;</h2> <p>Your and your friends don&rsquo;t actually have to work with each other to work <em>for</em> each other. If you have friends who are great at what they do &mdash; let&rsquo;s say one of them is an investment banker &mdash; use that friend as your sole referral when your contacts ask if you know someone. I&rsquo;m queried a lot by my contacts on who I&rsquo;d recommend. Of course, I always recommend a friend that I know can get a job done. Do that once or twice and a good friend will start returning the favor &mdash; which means more money in the bank for both of you.&nbsp;</p> <h2>4. Join Rent a Friend&nbsp;</h2> <p>Have you heard of this social networking site wherein random strangers pay for your company? It exists. Join <a href="http://rentafriend.com/">Rent a Friend</a>, and you could set your own fee for how much you&rsquo;ll make per hour or establish a flat rate for an outing with a potential new friend. Sure, it&rsquo;ll become a tricky situation if you actually become friends with the person who bought your time, but there&rsquo;s no harm in padding your pockets in the meantime.</p> <h2>5. Become Secret Shoppers</h2> <p>You have to be super savvy to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-truths-from-a-mystery-shopper-you-must-read-before-you-get-started">make secret shopping work for you</a> &mdash; you generally don&rsquo;t get &ldquo;paid&rdquo; but rather are provided a fee for your outing in the form of a reimbursement &mdash; but if you can master the art of secret shopping, it&rsquo;s a great way to add a little cash to your pocket while enjoying quality time over meals and activities with your pal. The key is to spend less than the fee allotted for the scheduled event so you can score the free meal, etc., while pocketing whatever is left from the fee. If both of you get in on the act, you may never have to pay for lunch again.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Pool Your Money and Invest</h2> <p>This is along the same lines of starting a business with your friends &mdash; you&rsquo;ll need to put your money together to launch a company &mdash; but there are other ways to invest without having to go to an office every day. There&rsquo;s investing in the stock market, of course, but also think about hands-on projects into which you can each invest your money and talents and from which you can each reap the financial benefits of the final projects, like flipping a house, for example.</p> <h2>7. Buy a Bunch of Lottery Tickets</h2> <p>Granted, this is a long shot &mdash; but <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mega-millions-14m-jackpot-won-2-old-pals-article-1.1174983">it happens</a>. You don&rsquo;t have to be a rocket scientist to know that those 100 tickets you bought by pooling your cash increases your odds more than the 50 tickets you&rsquo;d buy on your own. Certainly <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/playing-the-lottery-is-a-bad-gamble">not the most frugal or even the smartest way to spend your money</a> to make money, I admit. But, hey, we all have to take a gamble sometime. Every lottery winner in history has &mdash; and it paid it off.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-money-with-friends" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways to Make Money With Friends" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Extra Income friends and money how to start a business lottery secret shopping yard sales Mon, 15 Apr 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Mikey Rox 973370 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons Your Great Startup Business Is Doomed http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8411025404_fee3bbdd24_z.jpg" alt="empty office" title="empty office" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are many people who have great ideas and the spurt of ambition to pursue their dream of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-lies-business-owners-tell-themselves">working for themselves</a>. Unfortunately, many of these same people have also gone bust &mdash; even before getting their business up and running. If you have been toying with the idea of starting your own venture, you should take time to evaluate what you think running a startup is really like, and what it means to be in business for yourself. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right">Freelancing:&nbsp;A Beginner's Guide to&nbsp;Doing It Right</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Think You Can Bootstrap It</h2> <p>There are many that go into a business idea without a dime to their name, utterly convinced they were going to make it big. Before telling your boss to take your job and shove it, you should really work through the realities. No matter what your business idea is, there will be overhead expenses to be covered until your business makes money, which can take years to happen. Consider working fulltime for a paycheck until you can truly stabilize your side business.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Believe in Business Plans</h2> <p>As a writer, I&rsquo;ve been asked to create a lot of different types of material. To date, my least favorite inquiry was from a couple who wanted me to write their business plan.</p> <p>At first I thought they meant &quot;rewrite&quot; their plan into something more professional. What they actually meant was for me to create a business plan for their proposed trucking company. This couple had not a single clue about what it would take to get the business up and running. They had absolutely no idea how to deal with the immediate future of their company let alone the long-term vision or profitability.</p> <p>Whether or not you plan to seek the financial assistance of investors, you need to work through a business plan. If you cannot answer the questions common in every business plan, do not open for business until you can answer those questions clearly and confidently.</p> <h2>3. You Are All Talk</h2> <p>Again, in my line of work, I deal with a lot of startup companies looking to cement their presence on the Internet. There are some who will ask for 20 quotes for web content and in the end never do anything about it. It&rsquo;s one thing to feel excitement about a business idea, but if you are unable to see the project through to completion, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-business-lessons-i-learned-the-hard-way">starting your own business</a> may not be the best move for you.</p> <h2>4. You Cannot Follow Through</h2> <p>There are some people that are so full of ideas but rarely does one stick around long enough to see it through. Jumping from one idea to the next can be dangerous, especially if you are putting forth your hard earned money for something that is going nowhere. Sort through your ideas in writing and sit with them for a while to see if any stick. Then consider pursuing that idea.</p> <h2>5. You Don't Understand the Business</h2> <p>There are some businesses that fail right off the bat because people fantasize about what the business would be like rather than researching the realities. For example, opening a bakery may look great on television, but it would be to your advantage to really see what it is like on a day to day basis. You should make an effort to talk to owners of businesses you are interested in starting for yourself and find out what really happens. You can even shadow a few business owners for real life experience.</p> <h2>6. You Rely on Others to Do the Hard Work</h2> <p>As a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times">business owner</a> getting ready to launch a startup, it is important to realize just how much of the actual work falls on your shoulders. You wear many hats, especially during the first few years when paid help may not be a viable option. You have to be committed to doing all of the hard work and seeing it through or you will be closing the doors soon after they open.</p> <p>You also need to really consider your target audience. If you are planning to open a jewelry business and think having only your friends and family as customers will keep you afloat, you may want to reconsider your business plans and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-money-making-hobbies">keep your jewelry-making skills as a favorite hobby</a>.</p> <p>Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Surely there are things that can only be learned through trial and error, but when you are investing your own time and money, you may not be able to afford too many errors. Do your research, complete a full business plan if only for your own benefit, and really consider the pros and cons of what you are venturing into.</p> <p><em>Have you gotten your startup business through the difficult first few years? What do you know now that you didn't know then?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Reasons Your Great Startup Business Is Doomed" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship business plan marketing startup business Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Tisha Tolar 971377 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Businesses You Can Start Online http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-businesses-you-can-start-online <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-businesses-you-can-start-online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6829327061_495cb4753d_z%281%29.jpg" alt="Businesses You Can Start Online" title="Businesses You Can Start Online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on businesses you can start online, saving money at the drug store, and principles for growing wealth.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.business.com/blog/6-businesses-you-can-start-online/">6 Businesses You Can Start Online</a> &mdash; Want to start a business online? Consider being an internet researcher. [Business.com Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://canadianfinanceblog.com/how-to-save-money-at-the-drug-store/">How to Save Money at the Drug Store</a> &mdash; Asking the pharmacist about what you need can help you save money at the drug store. [Canadian Finance Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://beingfrugal.net/basic-principles-for-growing-wealth/">5 Basic Principles for Growing Wealth</a> &mdash; To grow your wealth, live within your means and invest in yourself. [BeingFrugal.net]</p> <p><a href="http://mom.me/home/5459-10-ways-moms-can-make-money-home/">10 Ways Moms Can Make Money At Home</a> &mdash; Moms can make money at home by selling their kids' books. [mom.me]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Find-Out-Your-Co-Workers-Salary-27065984">6 Ways To Find Out What Your Peers Are Making</a> &mdash; If you want to know what your peers are making, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [SavvySugar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moolanomy.com/6416/8-easy-ways-anyone-can-make-money/">8 Easy Ways Anyone Can Make Money</a> &mdash; To make money easily, enter giveaways or review books. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2013/01/29/a-former-insiders-guide-to-choosing-an-investment-manager/">A (Former) Insider's Guide to Choosing an Investment Manager</a> &mdash; When choosing an investment manager, focus on market cycle performance. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2013/01/28/party-philosophy-when-to-spend-big-on-fiestas/">Party philosophy: When to spend big on fiestas</a> &mdash; It's ok to spend big on fiestas when you can do so without incurring debt. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2013/01/second-act-career-teachertrainer.html">Second-Act Career: Teacher/Trainer</a> &mdash; If you want to earn some extra income and are good at teaching, try your hand at being an online professor. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/4-steps-to-toy-organization">4 Steps to Toy Organization</a> &mdash; Get your children's toys organized by first taking inventory of what they have. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-businesses-you-can-start-online" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Businesses You Can Start Online" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship best money tips business online Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:00:35 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 967595 at http://www.wisebread.com Freelancing: A Beginner’s Guide to Doing It Right http://www.wisebread.com/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/wisebreadfreelance.jpg" alt="Coffeeshop Telecommuter " title="Coffeeshop Telecommuter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Depending on the field you&rsquo;re in, freelancing can be a great way to make extra money or transition into a full-time flexible career. But doing it right takes some planning and strategy. If you&rsquo;re considering freelancing as a way to supplement or replace your current income, here are the basics on how to get started. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-great-side-jobs">30&nbsp;Great Side Jobs</a>)</p> <h2>Network</h2> <p>As with any other business, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-simple-networking-tricks">networking makes all the difference in the freelance world</a>.</p> <p>Use past work connections, friendships, social media sites, and professional groups to get the word out about your services. Have an elevator pitch ready to explain what you do, your qualifications, and what sets you apart from the competition. Though networking is a never-ending process, it&rsquo;ll become easier as your body of independent work builds and satisfied customers begin spreading the word.</p> <h2>Research and Set Fees</h2> <p>Knowing what to charge can be tricky. Most freelancers make one of two mistakes when it comes to setting their fee structure. Either they underestimate what the market is willing to pay (short changing themselves in the long run), or they price their services too high for their experience level (alienating potential new clients).</p> <p>Use <a href="http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2012/09/08/freelancing-pricing-services/" target="_blank">online research tools to determine</a> what independent contractors are making in your field and in your area. Find the sweet spot based upon your background and skill set.</p> <h2>Establish a Rate Card</h2> <p>Once you know the general range of what you&rsquo;ll be charging, establish a rate card that outlines your menu of services.</p> <p>Think of every potential project you could land.</p> <ul> <li>Will you charge per hour or per project?</li> <li>How might your hourly rate change based upon the complexity of the work?</li> </ul> <p>A clear outline of prices (or even a good estimate) will help clients anticipate expenditures and budget for your services.</p> <h2>Pitch Recurring Projects</h2> <p>Big projects are great, but they&rsquo;re inconsistent. Pitching recurring monthly or quarterly projects to clients will show initiative and help smooth the peaks and valleys in your freelance income. Even a few modestly priced &ldquo;maintenance&rdquo; projects that you can count on every month will make a world of difference financially &mdash; especially in the beginning.</p> <h2>Create an Invoicing System</h2> <p>Once you have a rate card and are assertively pursuing projects, it&rsquo;s time to create an invoice. Here, simplicity is key. Create a one page Word document that includes:</p> <ul> <li>Date</li> <li>Your business name, address, and phone</li> <li>Tax ID number (if applicable)</li> <li>Client name, address, and contact person</li> <li>Project description</li> <li>Date work was completed</li> <li>Agreed upon fees and totals</li> <li>Method of remittance</li> <li>A thank you</li> </ul> <p>For examples of invoices that tick all the right boxes, check out <a href="http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/05/invoice-like-a-pro/" target="_blank">these slick designs</a> from Smashing Magazine.</p> <p>Every client has a different payment schedule and as your work expands, you&rsquo;ll need a way to track your invoices quickly and easily. I use a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/excel-the-most-underrated-software-you-already-own">simple Excel sheet</a> with six columns: Client Name, Project Description, Hours Worked, Amount of Invoice, Date Invoiced, and Payment Status. It&rsquo;s a bare bones way for me to check the status of my billings and helps ensure that no client gets invoiced twice for the same job.</p> <h2>Don&rsquo;t Forget About Taxes</h2> <p>Remember, freelance work typically means you&rsquo;ll be receiving a 1099 tax form and will be responsible for setting aside the proper income tax amount yourself. Depending on how you structure your freelance work and how much revenue you&rsquo;re bringing in, you may be required to file estimated taxes quarterly. Discuss the particulars of your business with a tax advisor to make sure you&rsquo;re organized for Uncle Sam.</p> <h2>Create a Freelance Resume and Portfolio</h2> <p>Typically, your first few clients as freelancer will be people who know you and know your work. But once you have some projects under your belt, it&rsquo;s time to formalize it and reflect it in your resume. Create a separate resume or portfolio of work that you can use when pitching projects marketing your business to new clients.</p> <h2>Market, Market, Market</h2> <p>A successful freelance business takes constant attention. The work you&rsquo;re doing today is probably work you pitched three months ago to a client you met last year. That long horizon must be factored into to your daily work and it&rsquo;s a discipline that takes some practice to master.</p> <p>Market your services online, offline, formally, and informally &mdash; always with an eye toward where you want to be in six months or a year. Oh, and don&rsquo;t forget to thank current customers who send new clients your way &mdash; referrals are golden.</p> <p>Are you ready to test the waters of a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/part-time-jobs-that-can-get-you-serious-discounts">part-time</a> or full-time freelance career? If so, some upfront planning focused on the basics can save you a lot of time and stress later. Happy freelancing!</p> <p><em>Are you a freelancer or have you worked solo in the past? What tips do you have for newbies?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right" class="sharethis-link" title="Freelancing: A Beginner’s Guide to Doing It Right" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Extra Income freelance income side jobs start a business Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:48:33 +0000 Kentin Waits 967361 at http://www.wisebread.com Great Ways to Generate Passive Income http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-generate-passive-income <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/great-ways-to-generate-passive-income" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3412060489_9a61077f6b_z.jpg" alt="woman holding cash" title="woman holding cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earning income passively is a dream for most people, since it essentially means you make money without putting in a significant time investment.&nbsp;Most sources of passive income will require time and some money to get started, but if successful, these opportunities can generate income for you long-term and without your direct involvement. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-everyone-needs-side-income">4 Reasons Why Everyone Needs Side Income</a>)</p> <p>Here are some great ways to generate passive income.</p> <h2>Create a Product</h2> <p>You can earn passive income by creating a digital product, whether it is an e-book, audio file, video, or some type of presentation, and then sell it over and over again automatically. Once the initial creation of your product is complete, the sales of the product become passive if you set up an automated system to deliver prospects to your sales page, collect payment, and send out their purchased product.</p> <p>Other opportunities for passive income by creating a product might include writing a physical book and getting it published &mdash; ongoing sales of your book are earned passively. Some people become television writers, and when their series is picked up for reruns, royalties earned are considered passive income.</p> <h2>Sell Advertising</h2> <p>As a website owner or publisher of a popular e-zine, magazine, blog, or newsletter, you can sell advertising space. While you will have to do the initial legwork to create a successful website with a large following, once established, advertising revenue is a passive income opportunity where other business owners will pay you to include an advertisement on your website or in your newsletter.</p> <h2>Own a Business</h2> <p>When people think of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/passive-income-for-every-entrepreneur">passive income</a>, chances are they will immediately think about an online business of some type. The internet makes it possible to start and run a business with low start-up costs and low overhead expenses &mdash; which means more profit in your pocket. It also creates opportunities for automation, and anything you can automate provides a potential passive income stream.</p> <p>While it&rsquo;s often easier to break into the world of passive income online, passive income is not limited to the internet.&nbsp;Any business you own can generate passive income for you if it is established the right way. If you hire people to fulfill the day-to-day activities of your business, your business should generate a profit after all the expenses are paid.&nbsp;The profit you receive as the owner of the business is passive if you aren&rsquo;t directly involved in the daily operations.</p> <h2>Become a Landlord</h2> <p>People who own apartments or commercial space earn passive income through the rent payments they receive from their tenants.&nbsp;You receive the payment every month simply because you own the property; and you aren&rsquo;t exchanging a direct service or time for the rent payment.&nbsp;There are of course, responsibilities that come with being a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-landlord-part-i">landlord</a> &mdash; but many people find the experience rewarding and a way to establish consistent income without directly trading their hours for dollars.</p> <p>If buying a property to rent out is out of your comfort zone, you can start on a smaller scale and rent out an extra room in your home, your garage, or even your driveway. <a href="http://www.parkatmyhouse.com">Park at&nbsp;My&nbsp;House</a> will tell you the &ldquo;value&rdquo; of your driveway and help connect you to people looking for a place to park near event venues or who just need a place to park their vehicle in your area.</p> <h2>Investing</h2> <p>A variety of social lending opportunities online allow you to earn a return by helping fund other people&rsquo;s loan requests in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peer-to-peer-lending-prosper-marketplace-or-lending-club">peer-to-peer lending</a>.&nbsp;Your total investment in the peer-to-peer lending site is generally divided up across multiple borrowers to help reduce your risks, but your money helps others gain the money they need, and you benefit by earning a return on the investment in the form of interest.&nbsp;Two of the more popular social lenders include <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/prosper">Prosper</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/lendingclub">Lending Club</a>.</p> <p>When saving your money in a bank, take some time to compare savings accounts to earn as much interest on your money as you can. If you meet minimum balance requirements, you can also earn interest on money saved in a checking account. Earning interest on your money is a passive way to increase your income, so you may as well take some time to discover your highest earning potential.</p> <p>You can also build an income investing portfolio to create passive income while growing long-term investments. You may include a variety of investments from dividend stocks to CDs, bonds, and annuities, with the goal of earning money quarterly, semi-annually, or annually without having to sell the investment.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-generate-passive-income" class="sharethis-link" title="Great Ways to Generate Passive Income" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debbie-dragon">Debbie Dragon</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Extra Income Investment extra money passive income start a business Fri, 04 May 2012 10:24:15 +0000 Debbie Dragon 924887 at http://www.wisebread.com Coworking Spaces: The Office Alternative http://www.wisebread.com/coworking-spaces-the-office-alternative <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/coworking-spaces-the-office-alternative" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5869798689_f7a9cbb984.jpg" alt="People in a coworking facility" title="People in a coworking facility" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly popular approach to working these days, and starting your own business is as popular as ever. Both options mean that you need a place to work of your own, though, because an employer won&rsquo;t be providing it.</p> <p>A home office may be an easy option, but there are a lot of downsides to working in the same environment your kids are playing in or your chores need to be done in. The main alternative &mdash; renting office space &mdash; can be an expensive proposition, especially if you&rsquo;re just starting out. A new trend may offer a much easier option, though &mdash; coworking. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/setting-up-a-home-office-on-the-cheap">Setting Up a Home Office on the Cheap</a>)</p> <h3>A Brief History of Coworking</h3> <p>Coworking spaces are shared offices. Usually one person or a small organization rents a larger office space and then makes parts of it available to other individuals. The trend started in San Francisco in 2005 with the Hat Factory, a place where three people lived, and, during the day, made the space available to others to work in. The concept gained traction and has spread like wildfire. Most major cities have at least one coworking space these days, and there are an estimated 700 locations in the U.S. alone. The <a href="http://wiki.coworking.info/w/page/29303049/Directory">Coworking Directory</a> serves as the best resource for checking into what&rsquo;s available near you.</p> <p>Coworking spaces are meant to provide an improvement over working in a coffee shop (you don&rsquo;t have to keep buying an ever increasing number of cups of coffee) or at home (you can reduce the overlap between work time and your personal life). The movement, as a whole, also provides an organic approach to office space. No one needs a license or a franchise to open a coworking space. That&rsquo;s how they can pop up all over, and why each one is very different from the next.</p> <h3>How to Get the Most Out of Coworking</h3> <p>Just about any coworking space offers you a place to plunk down with your laptop and work, completely tuning out everyone else. Most of us need that sometimes &mdash; when we&rsquo;re on deadline, paying for the privilege of quiet workspace makes sense. But the rest of the time, there are a lot of other benefits you can get from a coworking space.</p> <p>Most coworking spaces operate on the assumption that if a bunch of people are going to work in the same area, they might as well form a community. Many spaces host events, but even those that don&rsquo;t offer plenty of informal opportunities to sit down and talk with other people in the space. Depending on your own background, this can be an easy way to find new clients, a freelancer to help you with a project, or even a team member for a new company. The <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-friends-and-be-happy-why-cultivating-relationships-is-good-for-you">human interaction</a> can be one of the biggest benefits of a coworking space, especially for those of us who are used to sitting home alone to work.</p> <h3>Understanding the Amenities and Prices</h3> <p>Most coworking spaces make a point of posting both their amenities and prices on their websites. If you&rsquo;re lucky enough to be in an area with multiple spaces, this information can help you decide where you should work, but it&rsquo;s also important to understand what you&rsquo;re getting.</p> <p>You may be able to choose between a variety of different plans, from a one-day drop in option to monthly plans giving you full-time access and your own key. You may have access to a range of amenities:</p> <ul> <li>A key allowing you access anytime you want</li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee">Coffee</a> and other beverages</li> <li>Storage spaces</li> <li>Reduced costs for events</li> <li>Membership discounts for other businesses</li> <li>Access to printers, fax machines, and other office equipment</li> </ul> <p>Every coworking space is different, so if there&rsquo;s a feature you really need, it&rsquo;s important to ask about it. If an amenity isn&rsquo;t available, your request may prompt the space organizer to look into it.</p> <p>Prices are mostly influenced by location &mdash; the simple fact that office space in New York City is more expensive than in Austin means that you&rsquo;ll pay more to join a coworking space in New York. I&rsquo;ve usually paid around $25 per day for dropping in at spaces in California, Oklahoma, and along the East Coast. Monthly memberships are often tiered to allow for different levels of access. In my experience, full-time access starts around $200 and goes up from there, based on location and features.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/coworking-spaces-the-office-alternative" class="sharethis-link" title="Coworking Spaces: The Office Alternative" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship coworking space freelancing office savings small business Fri, 06 Apr 2012 09:48:16 +0000 Thursday Bram 915082 at http://www.wisebread.com 35 Resources for Female Entrepreneurs http://www.wisebread.com/35-resources-for-female-entrepreneurs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/35-resources-for-female-entrepreneurs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4715022811_784d706e12_z.jpg" alt="woman at seminar" title="woman at seminar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Female entrepreneurship has spiked in the last decade. While the most recent U.S. government statistics are from 2007, women-owned (non-farm) businesses increased by over 20% from 2002 to 2007 according to the <a href="http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/get07sof.html?12">U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners</a>, and now make up nearly 30% of all businesses.</p> <p>Luckily, there are an enormous number of resources available to help female entrepreneurs succeed. Here are the top resources and websites by category. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-small-business-mentors-you-can-access-for-nearly-free">6 Small Business Mentors You Can Access for Nearly Free!</a>)</p> <h2>Brick and Mortar Resources</h2> <p>These organizations tend to be more of the traditional resource centers that you might think of when you imagine getting assistance with your business. Most have actual buildings you can visit, local chapters you can meet with, or numbers you can call to get help.</p> <p><strong>The Office of Women's Business Ownership</strong></p> <p>Part of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2895">Office of Women's Business Ownership</a> is the most reliable source for federal government grants for women and general information about starting a business.</p> <p><strong>American Business Women's Association</strong></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.abwa.org/">American Business Women's Association</a> offers networking events, mentoring opportunities, and more.</p> <p><strong>National Association of Women Business Owners</strong></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.nawbo.org/">National Association of Women Business Owners</a> hosts an online resource center and can connect you with your local chapter.</p> <p><strong>U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce</strong></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.uswcc.org/">Women's Chamber of Commerce</a> not only unifies some of the top women leaders in the U.S., but their site also offers great resources for women planning for retirement.</p> <h2>Collections of Resources</h2> <p>The following sites have their own extensive lists of articles, tool kits, and resources that are definitely worth checking out.</p> <p><strong>Entrepreneurship.org</strong></p> <p>You can find an annotated list of over 25 books and articles for women entrepreneurs at <a href="http://www.entrepreneurship.org/en/entrepreneurship-law/women-in-entrepreneurship-business-resource-materials.aspx">Entrepreneurship.org</a>.</p> <p><strong>Create Worth</strong></p> <p>On offshoot of DailyWorth, <a href="http://dailyworth.com/create/">Create Worth</a> has an excellent selection of articles on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-questions-to-ask-when-starting-a-business">starting your own business</a>.</p> <p><strong>Ladies Who Launch</strong></p> <p>Ladies Who Launch features a killer list of<a href="http://www.ladieswholaunch.com/magazine/tools-docs-templates"> free and paid tool</a>.</p> <p><strong>Smith College</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.smith.edu/wfi/toolbox_entrepreneurship.php">Smith College</a> has a toolbox of resources for women college-age and up.</p> <p><strong>Women Entrepreneur</strong></p> <p>The women's section of Entrepreneur magazine, <a href="http://forum.womenentrepreneur.com/">Women&nbsp;Entrepreneur</a> has great articles for every type of female entrepreneur &mdash; from home-based businesses to startups.</p> <p><strong>Mompreneurs</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.mompreneursonline.com/">Mompreneurs</a> helps mom entrepreneurs with lists of books and resources on their message boards.</p> <p><strong>Women 2.0</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.women2.org/">Women 2.0</a> wants to help more women become founders of technology startups and has superb information to get your startup started.</p> <h2>Blogs</h2> <p>Blogs can serve as great resources and sources of inspiration for women entrepreneurs who are looking to break into the business world. This list can get you started &mdash; and please share more of your favorites in the comments.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.alexismartinneely.com/">Alexis Neely</a></li> <li><a href="http://allisonnazarian.com/">Allison Nazarian</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.amyporterfield.com/">Amy Porterfield</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.anti9to5guide.com/">Anti 9-5 Guide</a></li> <li><a href="http://balanceinme.com/">Balance in Me</a></li> <li><a href="http://connection-revolution.com/blog/">Connection Revolution</a></li> <li><a href="http://dissolveprocrastination.com/">Dissolve Procrastination</a></li> <li><a href="http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com/">Elizabeth Potts Weinstein</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/">Escape From Cubicle Nation</a></li> <li><a href="http://escaping-mediocrity.com/">Escaping Mediocrity</a></li> <li><a href="http://everydaybright.com/">Everyday Bright</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.femalepreneurs.com/">Femalepreneurs</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.lauraroeder.com/">Laura Roeder</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.lifeaftercollege.org/">Life After College</a></li> <li><a href="http://manishathakor.com/">Manisha Thakor</a></li> <li><a href="http://marieforleo.com/">Marie Forleo</a></li> <li><a href="http://jackiepurnell.com/">Respectfully Disobedient</a></li> <li><a href="http://rowdykittens.com/">Rowdy Kittens</a></li> <li><a href="http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/">Suitcase Entrepreneur</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.taragentile.com/">Tara Gentile</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org/">The Middle Finger Project</a></li> <li><a href="http://alexisgrant.com/">The Traveling Writer</a></li> <li><a href="http://whenigrowupcoach.com/blog/">When I Grow Up</a></li> <li><a href="http://whitehottruth.com/">White Hot Truth</a></li> </ul> <p>What's your top resource for starting a business?</p> <p><em>This post is part of Women's Money Week 2012. For more great articles on Women's Entrepreneurship, check out <a href="http://womensmoneyweek.com/">WomensMoneyWeek.com</a></em>.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-resources-for-female-entrepreneurs" class="sharethis-link" title="35 Resources for Female Entrepreneurs" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elizabeth-lang">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career Building Entrepreneurship business resources career advice women Mon, 05 Mar 2012 10:48:15 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 908074 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3255517.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems like most credit card users only consider half the products on the market. Consumer credit and charge cards are heavily advertised, with the link to the business version of these cards sometimes appearing the bottom corner of the webpage. Yet failing to consider business as well as consumer products is a fundamental mistake that many credit card users make. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a>)</p> <h2>Who Are Business Cards For?</h2> <p>Business cards are intended for small businesses, sole proprietors, or any consumer who wishes to divide his or her company&rsquo;s spending with a separate card. For example, when I was a business traveler, I used a business card to charge my reimbursable expenses. I still had to apply for the card using my own credit, and I alone was responsible for payment. Using a business card allowed me to segregate my personal expenses from those my company was reimbursing me for. Eventually, I realized that there was no reason why I couldn&rsquo;t use whichever card offered the best combination of features and benefits for my personal or business expenses. Today, I hold a variety of business and personal cards to maximize the features of each.</p> <h2>Business Card Rewards</h2> <p>Like personal cards, the market for business cards has been characterized by ever-increasing rewards and perks. Whether you are using a business card for actual business expenses or merely to compliment the personal cards in your wallet, those who do not carry a balance will want to generate the highest possible return on their spending. On the other hand, any person or business that uses a credit card to finance purchases should be almost exclusively concerned with the finance terms. Therefore, the selection criteria for these top five business cards have been weighted heavily towards the rewards offered.</p> <h2>Credit Versus Charge Cards</h2> <p>It is also important to note that this list contains both credit cards and charge cards, as many of the best business products fall into the latter category. With a charge card, all balances must be paid in full or the account holder will be considered delinquent.</p> <h2>The Five Best Credit Cards for Small&nbsp;Businesses</h2> <p>Here are my top picks.</p> <p><strong>1. U.S. Bank FlexPerks&reg; Business Travel Rewards Visa&reg;</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042146" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'cardimage', 'usbankflexbustrav']);"><img width="154" height="98" alt="credit card" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/sharedimages/products/202680/600864.png" /></a>The FlexPerks Business Travel Rewards Visa Card will help you see award travel in a whole new light. Enjoy award travel on more than 150 airlines with faster earning, more award seat availability and expanded reward choices.</p> <p>Here are the latest offer details:</p> <ul> <li>Get 20,000 bonus FlexPoints after the first $3,500 in net purchases in the first 4 months</li> <li>Award travel starts at just 20,000 FlexPoints (up to a $400 ticket value) on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates or online redemption fees</li> <li>Earn one FlexPoint for every $1 of eligible net purchases charged to your card</li> <li>Earn two FlexPoints for every $1 spent on gas, office supplies or airline purchases - whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle - and on most cell phone expenses</li> <li>Earn Triple FlexPoints for your charitable donations</li> <li>Receive an airline allowance of up to $25 with every award travel ticket to use toward baggage fees, in-flight food or drinks and more</li> <li>Earn 5,000 FlexPoints when you refer a friend who acquires and uses the card</li> <li>$0 Annual Fee* the first year, after that $55 (+$10 for employees)</li> <li>$0 annual fee the first year and every year after when your company has combined net spend of over $24,000 each year</li> </ul> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042146" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'usbankflexbustrav']);"><strong>Click here to apply for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks&reg; Business Travel Rewards Visa&reg;</strong></a></p> <p><strong>2. Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Cash for Business</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042142" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'cardimage', 'caponespa']);"><img width="154" height="98" alt="credit card" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/sharedimages/products/164409/592740.gif" /></a>This is the credit card for those who would like to receive the maximum cash back instead of loyalty points. The Spark card offers 2% cash back on all purchases with no limits, the highest rate on the market. There is a $59 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042142" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'caponespa']);"><strong>Click here to apply for the Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Cash for Business</strong></a></p> <p><strong>3. Ink Bold&reg; Business Charge Card</strong></p> <p><!--<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042143" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'cardimage', 'chainkbol']);"><img width="147" height="98" alt="credit card" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/wisebread/banners/cc_chaseinkbold.jpg" /></a>-->Chase offers a dedicated line of business products called Ink. Their top-of-the-line product is the Ink Bold® Business Card. While it is not a simple knock off of a consumer card, it bears a close resemblance to Chase&rsquo;s excellent Sapphire Preferred product.</p> <p>Like its consumer cousin, Ink Bold card members earn points in Chase&rsquo;s Ultimate Rewards program. New applicants will receive 50,000 bonus points as a sign up bonus, after spending $5,000 in the first three months from opening the account. That can be redeemed for $500 in rewards or $625 in travel (airfare, hotels, cruises and car rental). Thereafter, cardholders will earn five points per dollar spent at office supply stores, on cable, wireless, internet services, and landline communications. Two points per dollar are earned at gas stations and hotel rooms, with one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Once earned, points can be redeemed for one cent each towards cash back or a variety of merchandise options. Cardholders can also transfer points to the programs of several airline and hotel partners, as well as Amtrak Guest Rewards. Finally, this card includes complimentary airport lounge access to over 350 worldwide, with amenities like internet, phone and fax, snacks and drinks, conference rooms, and more.</p> <p>This is a charge card, not a credit card, so there's no interest but balances must be paid in full. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, but there are no foreign transaction fees.</p> <!-- <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042143" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'chainkbol']);"><strong>Click here to apply for the Ink Bold&reg; Business Charge Card</strong></a></p> --> <p><strong>4. CitiBusiness&reg; / AAdvantage&reg; World MasterCard&reg;</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042147" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'cardimage', 'citibusaaworldmc']);"><img width="154" height="98" alt="credit card" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/sharedimages/products/166257/598719.png" /></a>This is a card exclusively for business owners.</p> <p>Here are the latest offer details:</p> <ul> <li>Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership</li> <li>Get the first checked bag free for you and up to 4 travel companions.</li> <li>Enjoy Group 1 Boarding and use the extra time to prepare for your flight.</li> <li>Earn 2 American Airlines AsignAdvantage® miles for every $1 you spend on American Airlines purchases3 and on purchases at certain office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants.4 Plus, earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases.</li> <li>Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card.</li> </ul> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042147" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'citibusaaworldmc']);"><strong>Click here to apply for the CitiBusiness&reg; / AAdvantage&reg; World MasterCard&reg;</strong></a></p> <p><strong>5. Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Miles Select for Business</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042148" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'cardimage', 'caponesparkmilesselbus']);"><img width="154" height="98" alt="credit card" style="float:right;margin:0 5px 5px 10px;" src="http://content.linkoffers.net/sharedimages/products/164410/592698.gif" /></a> Here are the updated offer details: </p> <ul> <li>Get a one-time bonus of 10,000 miles once you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months</li> <li>Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day</li> <li>0% intro APR on all purchases until October 2014</li> <li>Fly on any airline with no blackout dates or seat restrictions</li> <li>There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn</li> <li>Miles don't expire</li> </ul> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.wisebread.com/redir/9042148" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'afclick', 'applytext', 'caponesparkmilesselbus']);"><strong>Click here to apply for the Capital One&reg; Spark&reg; Miles Select for Business</strong></a></p> <p>By carefully considering the best business cards on the market, you can choose the product that best meets your needs.</p> <!--disclosure--> <p style="font-size:13px;font-family:Verdana;"><em>Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.</em></p> <!--/disclosure--><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Entrepreneurship best credit cards small business tracking spending Fri, 24 Feb 2012 11:36:32 +0000 Jason Steele 904214 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways Blazing Internet Speeds Can Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/ways-blazing-internet-speeds-can-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ways-blazing-internet-speeds-can-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Business_Savings_3962124_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This technology article is sponsored by </em><em><a href="http://r1.fmpub.net/?r=http%3A%2F%2Fad.doubleclick.net%2Fclk%3B251254516%3B75598114%3Bk&amp;k4=3149&amp;k5={banner_id}">Comcast Business Class</a>, the nation's leading communication services provider.</em></p> <p>Benjamin Franklin said it best &mdash; time is money.</p> <p>This is especially true today, when the speed of your internet connection can directly impact your bottom line. There are many ways employees, entrepreneurs, and business owners can benefit financially from blazing fast internet connections. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Knowledge</h2> <p>If you want to thrive in today&rsquo;s world, you need to know everything you possibly can about your competition, your industry, and your reputation. That means keeping up with the latest research, news, and trends.</p> <p>The average American consumes <a href="http://www.techdirt.com/blog/innovation/articles/20091209/2356107282.shtml">34 gigabytes of data</a> per day. That&rsquo;s a lot of presentations, video feeds, emails, and documents. Wouldn&rsquo;t you rather spend time digesting that information instead of waiting around for them to download?</p> <p>Imagine if faster internet saved you 1 minute per hour. If you worked 8 hours days, you would save 40 minutes a week, which adds up to 2,080 minutes (34.6 hours) a year. That&rsquo;s 4.3 work days saved per year for just one person.</p> <p>Faster internet speeds also help you look ahead and grow.</p> <p>For example, iTunes lets you take entire <a href="http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/">college-level courses</a> in a bunch of different subjects. MIT&rsquo;s business school also offers all of their <a href="http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/#sloan-school-of-management">course materials online</a> free of charge. If you run a business, you can add more talent to your team and employees get to develop their skill sets without spending a fortune.</p> <h2>2. Telecommuting and Communication</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/605x340/blog-images/iStock_000015597389Small.jpg" /></p> <p>High speed internet is needed to power high-quality video conferencing and VoIP &mdash; two key tools for improving employee collaboration, reducing travel costs, and making your company appear more professional to clients.</p> <p>If you look at the gas prices lately, telecommuting should be a no-brainer. Having one employee work half of his time from home saves his company about $10,000 per year, and the employee up to $6,800 per year, according to the <a href="http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com/">Telework Research Network</a>.</p> <p>A drawback of telecommuting is that you get cut off from coworkers. This is why quality high speed video conferencing is so important. <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_102425.html">Studies</a> show that only 7% of communication involves actual words; &nbsp;55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact), and 38% is vocal (pitch, tone of voice).</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a world of difference between a pixelated version of you chopping in and out of a video conference versus an HD version that&rsquo;s crystal clear. The right connection correctly projects your body language and tone of voice &mdash; fully bringing you into a meeting. On the other hand, a slow connection can create disastrous misunderstandings (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1OvVKAga2k">Cartwright!</a>) that will inevitably cost you money.</p> <h2>3. Efficiency and Happiness</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/605x340/blog-images/iStock_000006121440Small.jpg" /></p> <p>Slow internet speed creates distractions that lower your efficiency. Think about it &mdash; you&rsquo;re trying to complete a task, and then you run into a speed bump. Say the large PDF you&rsquo;re downloading has stalled or the training video you&rsquo;re watching stops streaming. So you switch over to your email or Facebook to see what&rsquo;s going on there. You&rsquo;ve just distracted yourself and become inefficient.</p> <p>Doesn&rsquo;t sound like a big deal right? Well, those seconds add up. The average worker switches tasks every three minutes, and, once distracted, that worker takes nearly a half-hour to get back to work, reports the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/jobs/22shifting.html">New York Times</a>. Interruptions and the time it takes to recover from them consume 28% of a worker&rsquo;s day.<b><br /> </b></p> <p>Aside from distracting you, slow internet speed can also frustrate you to the point of throwing things. Nobody likes to wait for downloads, especially when it&rsquo;s crunch time and things need to get done. Frustrations at work are not only annoying, but they also affect an employer&rsquo;s bottom line. Unhappy workers are less engaged with their work, and are generally <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jul/11/happy-workers-are-more-productive">10% less productive</a>.</p> <p>On the other hand, happier workers are 12% more productive. <a href="http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/psychology-web-performance/">Studies</a> show that when websites loads faster, the users experience less frustration, lower blood pressure, higher engagement, and deeper flow states. All these positive effects can lead to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and a general sense of well-being around the office.</p> <h2>4. The Cloud</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static2.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/605x340/blog-images/iStock_000001925406Small.jpg" /></p> <p>Productivity and morale are important, but every business knows that without data, nothing gets done. Whether it&rsquo;s your database or your research, you need to have fast, immediate access to all your data if you&rsquo;re going to make educated decisions.</p> <p>The last thing you want to worry about is losing all your precious data, and that&rsquo;s why cloud technology has been such a boon. Storing your data in the cloud ensures it&rsquo;s safe no matter what happens to your hardware.</p> <p>Cloud storage also saves you money. When files are stored on remote servers, your local computer spends less energy storing and processing data. According to <a href="http://inthepersonalcloud.com/2011/12/28/green-stats-the-clouds-energy-savings-in-dollars/">recent reports</a>, cloud technology will save the global business community $12.3 billion on energy bills, and save the planet from 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions.</p> <p>Of course, there&rsquo;s a catch to backing up to the cloud &mdash; it&rsquo;s not going to be convenient unless you have a fast internet connection. Storing everything in the cloud would be a huge mistake if you can&rsquo;t get to your data quickly. Implementing cloud computing without upgrading your internet connection is like putting rocket fuel into a Model T.</p> <h2>5. The Future</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/605x340/blog-images/iStock_000015720408Small.jpg" /></p> <p>If your goal is to grow and maintain your business indefinitely, you have to be prepared to adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing business. Who knew ten years ago that Facebook and Twitter would play such an important role in everyday life?</p> <p>Nobody did &mdash; and that&rsquo;s the point.</p> <p>There are going to be new technologies that are going to kick ass&hellip;if you have the speed for it. YouTube would&rsquo;ve been useless to most people back in the day of slow, screeching modems. But today&rsquo;s speeds mean HD video is available to most of us.</p> <p>I wish I could tell you I know which new technology is going to take the world by storm, but I don&rsquo;t. I do know this &mdash; it&rsquo;s going to be neat for most people and killer for businesses with fast Internet. Maybe it&rsquo;s 3D videoconferencing that actually looks good or virtual reality or a better way of cooperating with people across the world.</p> <p>Who knows...but if you want in, you&rsquo;d better step on the gas.</p> <p>Personally, having faster internet has made me smarter (I&rsquo;m taking a programming course on iTunes) and more inspired (<a href="http://www.ted.com/">TED talks</a>, anyone?). What has speed done for you?</p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ways-blazing-internet-speeds-can-save-you-money" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Ways Blazing Internet Speeds Can Save You Money" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income Entrepreneurship Technology Tue, 14 Feb 2012 14:00:15 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 893900 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Myths about Deducting T&E Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-myths-about-deducting-tampe-expenses" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/5-myths-about-deducting-tampe-expenses</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000017020332Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-myths-about-deducting-te-expenses" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Myths about Deducting T&amp;E Expenses" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Travel and entertainment costs are a common expense for most businesses. Unfortunately, the <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/whats-tax-deductible-for-your-next-business-trip-1" target="_blank">rules for deducting T&amp;E costs</a> can be complicated and are often misunderstood. Here are five myths that you should be aware of.</p> <p><strong>Myth 1. The Full Cost of Business Meals and Entertainment is Tax Deductible</strong></p> <p>Taking a customer to lunch, wining and dining a vendor, or taking a prospective client to the theater or sporting event are normal business practices. Regardless of how much or how little you spend, you can only write off 50 percent. For example, you take an out-of-town customer to dinner and the theater. It costs you $350 for the evening. You can deduct $175; the balance is not deductible.</p> <p><strong>Myth 2. The Cost of Commuting To and From Work is Deductible</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how far you have to commute, the method of transportation you use, or what it costs you, you <i>cannot </i>deduct the cost of commuting. This is considered to be a nondeductible personal expense.</p> <p>If you have to pay extra to transport business-related tools during your commute, such as heavy equipment or large musical instruments, the added expense is deductible.</p> <p>Once you are at work, your travel to other business locations becomes deductible. A doctor can deduct the travel costs between her medical office and the hospitals at which she had privileges, but not the cost of getting to the medical office. If you have a home office for which you take a tax deduction, all trips from home for business&mdash;to see a customer or vendor, do banking, or buy supplies&mdash;are deductible; this is not commuting.</p> <p><strong>Myth 3. You Need Receipts for All T&amp;E Costs</strong></p> <p>You do <i>not</i> need receipts for expenses of $75 or less. Thus, if you take a taxi from your office to see a customer for a cost of $12, no receipt is required. Exception: You need a receipt for lodging of any amount, even at a Motel 6.</p> <p>While you may not be required to keep all receipts, it doesn&rsquo;t hurt to do so. They often serve as a reminder for a deductible expense, especially if you&rsquo;ve paid cash (e.g., the taxi ride).</p> <p><strong>Myth 4. There is a Dollar Limit on What You Can Deduct</strong></p> <p>There is no overall dollar limit on your deduction for T&amp;E expenses. However, you can&rsquo;t deduct meal and entertainment costs that are &ldquo;lavish and extravagant.&rdquo; The tax law does not define these terms. It&rsquo;s up to you (and your tax advisor) to decide whether costs are &ldquo;too much&rdquo; before you deduct them.</p> <p><strong>Myth 5. You can&rsquo;t Deduct a Trip if Your Family Comes Along</strong></p> <p>The tax law lets you combine business with pleasure under the right conditions. If you travel within the U.S. and the <i>primary</i> reason for the trip is business, you can deduct all of your travel (e.g., airfare) costs. The fact that your spouse, significant other, or your family comes with you does not negate your deduction.</p> <p>It may not even cost you anything extra (other than meals) to bring your spouse with you. If you drive, there&rsquo;s no extra cost, and usually there&rsquo;s no additional charge for another person in your hotel room.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t deduct your costs for the portion of your trip spent sightseeing, visiting family, or pursuing other personal endeavors. For example, say you travel from Trenton to Los Angeles to meet with clients on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You spend the rest of the week sightseeing and take the redeye home on Sunday night. The cost of your hotel and meals on the non-business days is not deductible. But your entire airfare remains deductible because the primary purpose of the trip was for business. Remember, even on the business days, only 50 percent of your meals are deductible.</p> <p><strong>Final Word</strong></p> <p>You can learn more about deducting travel and entertainment costs in <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication 463</a> (the IRS has not yet released the version for the 2011 return, but the general rules still apply). Also check with your tax advisor to determine the tax impact of your T&amp;E activities.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Taxes Travel deductible expenses expenses small business t&e deductions tax deductions travel and entertainment Mon, 12 Dec 2011 21:36:58 +0000 Barbara Weltman 816775 at http://www.wisebread.com