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Archive for the ‘How-to’ Category

Facebook has gone in the last five years from a small, closed website for Harvard students, to one of the largest sites on the web, with more than 500 million active users, and with over half of those users logging in every day.  A thriving community like that can’t be ignored, especially by an up and coming small business.  While it may seem overwhelming to some, you may be surprised how easy it is to get up and running; in fact, (if you don’t have one already) head over to and create a page for your business…..done? Ok, now read the following 5 tips for getting started with putting your business out there and utilizing Facebook to the best of your abilities.

  1. Stand Out
    With 500 million users, just creating a profile is about as effective as stapling some fliers to a tree in the middle of the woods (sure someone may see it someday, but it’s not really doing much for you).  So, how do you differentiate yourself?  There are so many ways to modify and change the look of your page, but the most effective Facebook pages are actually pretty simple, the key is that they let the content drive the page (sell the steak, not the sizzle).  This is what keeps people coming back and what builds a strong following, which ultimately leads to more profits.
  2. Find Your Voice
    The meat of a Facebook page is text and pictures.  For most businesses, you’ll want to consistently be posting (2-3 times per day, not 15-20) and keep a common feel to your posts, so that your readers/followers know what to expect, but feel free to toss is some random quotes/images now and then to mix things up.  A Facebook page should never feel buttoned-down and corporate, but make sure that you always keep it family-friendly and appropriate for your typical clientele.
  3. Cross Promote
    This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but in the same way that you’ll tell people on the Facebook page to visit your store, tell people in the store to visit you on Facebook.  Put up a sign in the shop with your URL, or if you do something like a buy 10 get one free punch card (or just a plain old business card) print your Facebook info on it.

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The internet has come a long way in the last few decades, and e-commerce has become big business; not just for mega corporations like, but also for the little guys, selling niche-market products in virtual stores that would never sustain themselves in the brick and mortar world.  It’s this freedom and low overhead that allows the internet to be the most versatile and unique marketplace that’s ever existed, and there’s always room for more vendors.  If this is you, but you don’t know where to start, here’s a few tips for the beginner looking to wade into the waters of e-commerce.

Establish Your Site
First thing’s first, you’ll need a website.  Yes, you can launch your website with a tightly integrated e-commerce solution, but chances are, people will be reluctant to hand over their credit card information to a website they’ve never heard of.  The best bet for a brand new site is to integrate an e-wallet solution while you establish your credibility.  E-wallets are essentially a middle-man service where you (the seller) received money from an account that the buyer has setup with the e-wallet vendor.  Popular e-wallet methods include Paypal and Google checkout.  There are others, but if your goal is credibility, your best bet is to stick with these two.

Weigh Your E-commerce Options
Once you’ve established your name and your brand, it’s time to setup your own e-commerce solution on your website.  You may ask why you would do this, since services like Google checkout and Paypal will gladly handle this for you;  well, the main reason is that e-wallet services charge a pretty hefty commission (as high as 15% in many situations).  The ideal situation is to handle your own billing (which will be essential if you plan to do high volume sales) but if you see yourself doing something more in the sub-$100k/month range, consider some of the e-commerce vendors that exist on the web.  Recommending specific vendors is beyond the scope of this article, but look around, compare the fees, lookup user reviews and make sure, above all, that whoever you work with is trustworthy.

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Being a mom is a full time job, so if you’re a work at home mom, it’s really important to find the proper balance your primary and secondary jobs (and hopefully, you’ll see raising your children as the primary :).

This balancing act is one that takes time and experience to succeed in; there will often be the pull to chose between the work projects seeking your attention and your attention seeking children. While no amount of preparation can get you ready for all of the hurdles you’ll encounter as a work from home mom, here are some ways to practically set up your home office to maximize both your jobs, and hopefully avoid some of the push/pull with your children.

Have a desk that is clean, cleared and by a window. Your space is where focus and productivity needs to happen. To do this, keep it clean and clear of clutter.

This can happen by doing a quick sweep of garbage and papers at the end of your time working. It doesn’t matter whether your desk is an office desk, kitchen table or breakfast bar, but the importance of clutter free will help you focus when you sit down the next time to work.

Keep in mind the need for daylight — which also gives you a way to keep an eye on the kids when they play outside.

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Social networking has become a valuable part of most businesses today, and with the overwhelming adoption of sites like Facebook (over 500 million users) it’s easy to see why companies don’t want to pass up such a large, tech-savvy market.  Along the way, however, you need to be smart about the way you use social marketing for your business, because just like in the real world, a first impression is hard to overcome.  Here’s some do’s and don’t’s for anyone starting out their business in the social arena.

Don’t Scattershot Your Message
Sure, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of social networks out there, but there’s really only two you need to worry about (Facebook and Twitter).  While it may be tempting to use tools that will just shotgun blast your posts out to a bunch of networks, understand that each network has different nuances and people learn quickly to tune you out if you’re not engaging on the platform they’re following you on.

Do Collaborate
It may seem like cheating, but there are some great tools that allow shared usage of a Facebook or Twitter account.  This way multiple people can be posting and you can also schedule your posts to release at a certain day and time.  This is a crucial part of a good social marketing campaign, so make sure that you plan at least a few days worth of posts ahead of time, and then when news breaks, feel free to interject it into the stream.

Don’t Use Social Media For Advertising
The amount of ‘spammers’ on social networking sites is out of control, and people are keenly aware of the problem.  If you begin posting ‘spammy’ sounding posts, people will be quick to ignore you.

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From angel investors to venture capitalists, these days there are plenty of ways to fund a business, but in the past, the most common and usually the only option was to get a loan from a bank.  This may not seem as exciting as finding an angel investor to put up the money with little to no risk to you, but it definitely has it’s advantages (not the least of which is that the bank will not take a hefty founder\’s share of your company).  So, you’ve decided that a bank loan is the best move for your new small business; but what\’s the best way to go about securing the loan you need?  The best place to start is to get prepared for what banks are looking for when they draft a loan, and here\’s the top 3.

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As the recession of 2008 doesn’t seem to be bouncing back as fast as everyone had hoped, one thing that many people are noting is that now, more than ever, being an entrepreneur makes a lot of sense.  And while home based businesses are becoming increasingly popular, there are still some additional steps that you should take to maximize your effectiveness and minimize your bottom line.  The idea here is that while you’re immediately going to be able to run a lot leaner as a home based business, cutting down as much as possible within your home business will not only help you net the highest profits possible, but it could ultimately be the difference between your business failing or succeeding.

Read about three methods to saving money while growing your home business,

When you’re getting your business off the ground, many entrepreneurs will run into the dilemma of either needed some positive cash flow, or needing an initial client base and quite often, the first place to turn will be friends and family.  This can be a somewhat awkward proposition, since you’re using an existing relationship to further your business needs, but if done properly it doesn’t have to be awkward at all, and can even help bolster the relationship.  However, if done improperly, the results can be catastrophic.  Here’s a couple suggestions for how to approach this delicate subject with the people you care about the most.

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