Decision Making In A Home Based Online Business

When you have your own business, each decision that you make may have an impact on the business’s profitability. If you were previously an employee, and not involved in your employer’s decision making processes, then this may all be new to you.

It is important that you make the transition with an acute sense of awareness of:

· how and why you normally make decisions, and have made decisions in the past;

· why making your decisions in your own business can and should be different to your decisions in your personal life;

· the need to separate, in your own mind, business as opposed to personal decisions;

· the benefits of sharpening your business decision making; and,

· the dangers of allowing your business decisions to just “go with the flow” as they probably do in your personal life.

Often, people make decisions without even being aware of it, and then carry that practice into their first business. Being more aware of the mere existence of particular decisions will set you apart from many other small business owners, and that can only be good for competitiveness and profitability. Once you are aware, then and only then can you go into the next stages of a decision making process:

· pinpointing the need to take a particular action;

· gathering sufficient information to assess options open to you in taking, or not taking, that action;

· assessing the risks and uncertainties of a decision;

· reviewing, with a clear and open mind, all the relevant information, and consciously coming to a decision;

· setting up a means and plan to monitor the outcome of that decision.

· setting up a means and plan to monitor the success of the decision making process itself.

The corporate world is littered with examples of large companies who have got into serious financial problems due to bad decision making. This particularly occurs where there is investment in new products, markets or machinery. The fault can lie not just with the idea and the decision, but the decision making process itself.

Hurried decisions, insufficient information, biased assessment, lack of complete investment appraisal, ignorance and over optimism can all play their part in bringing a company to its knees. Such failures can and do happen even with a company staffed by professionals in all the necessary areas of expertise.

You, probably, are not able to employ “experts” and “professionals” to assist you in your decision making. However, you have other things in your favour, the most obvious of which is incentive. Each decision you make affects your business and your income. So long as you are aware that a decision is needed, it is then within your control to ensure that the decision you make is, more likely than not, going to be a good decision.

Before you even start your business, you have some very big decisions to make, such as “should I have my own business at all?”, or “what sort of business should I have?” Now, having taking that major decision to get started, you want to get the best out of the business, and that means making the best decisions for the circumstances that prevail.

Decisions in every part of your business are important, but the following can be amongst the most critical:

· Investment in equipment, or other capital investment of a material nature.

· Investment in software.

· If and when to pack up the day job.

· Outsourcing part/s of your workload.

· Setting priorities for budgeting finances.

· Withdrawal or reinvestment of profits.

· Product lines to sell.

· Product lines to withdraw.

· What types of marketing to use.

There are, of course, many more. You will be aware of the most important decision making areas in your own business. You would then be well advised to focus on those areas, and condition yourself to giving very careful and conscious thought whenever a significant decision is due.

A business decision should not be spontaneous and made in a vacuum. It should be fed by a network of information flows, and that is something that is best prepared in advance. This decision making infrastructure will be discussed in the next issue.

Home Computer Business Opportunities – Make Money Working From

If you are interested in a home-based business, there have never been more opportunities available than now. The rapid expansion of the internet has created a multitude of online businesses and work you can do from home on your personal computer. It is possible to make a steady income from working in your own home, at your own pace, and set your own schedule. The type of business you choose is important. You will want to choose a home-based business that offers products or services that are in demand, and will continue to be in demand.

Along with choosing a business opportunity that is profitable, another important factor in successfully operating a home business is keeping in touch with your clientele. Keeping your customers updated about your products and /or services is imperative if you are going to operate a successful business from your home. An autoresponder is the easiest way to send your clients and potential clients important information about your business, and the best part is that an autoresponder is completely automated. You will be able to contact your subscribers and interested parties automatically, and respond to emails instantly.

Your customers will appreciate that fast responses and you will enjoy the many features and functions an autoresponder can perform. The internet marketplace is highly competitive and if you want to succeed, you must respond to inquiries quickly and have a system in place to follow up with potential clients as well as established customers. A home computer business can provide you with a great income and the freedom you desire. Make sure you have a way to stay in frequent contact with current and future customers. An autoresponder can help you succeed in your home computer business ventures.

Why Keeping Your Business and Time Organized will help You Be

In any business the old saying “Time is Money” is very true. For every minute that is waisted could mean the loss of revenue or another potential client. This is seen for every business including a one or two man operation. Since the duties of the company will be either put on you totally or split between partners. Keeping your time organized will not only free you up to focus on other business related issues, which will allow you take care of more each and every day. It will also help lead you to success.

Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours you need to treat every minute precious. Some businesses work so efficient that it seems they can get 10 hours done in half the time. While other businesses waiste their time and are always trying to play catch up. Every time they get caught up on the work from yesterday, tomorrow they will have to get caught up on the work they had to skip from today. Which usually gets them into a catch 22 , which not only makes you or your employees have to work harder and longer hours to get everything in order. Your clients will also feel the delays that come along with this and may decide to opt-out for a business who can run their business right.

Keeping your company organized will allow you to stay on track when it comes to day to day operations. This is key for any business who has to meet deadlines and deliver products to clients. Organizing day to day operations will allow you to group activities that need to be addressed together. So if you need to pick up paper, ink for the printer and envelopes, you should be able to do this in one shot. So instead of making three trips during the week, do them all in one shot. This will not only save you time on having to go out to the store for the things you need, it will also allow you to stay in a steady progress without having to leave what you are doing to run out.

To organize yourself is actually very easy. Make a list of your day to day operations so that you can see what you need to do during the week. This will help create an outline of what you will need to do for your business and will give you a time table to run your business by. Make each day represent something for your company such as: Mondays – Go To The Store : Tuesday – Send Out Mail ect… Making a time table and tracking your time will help your business run more efficient and effective!

Top 10 Telephone Blunders in Everyday Business

As youngsters, many of us were taught basic telephone etiquette. These lessons taught us the basic components of conducting a phone conversation – politeness, attentiveness, respect, and common courtesy. Unfortunately, it seems these lessons have been forgotten by many of today’s companies. For many, the philosophy seems to say that it’s easier to forgo these practices and, instead, choose to deal with the customer service consequences later. It seems the true cost to the bottom line is of not of any consequence. Why in a time of ever increasing competition locally and abroad, along with the knowledge of customers’ high expectations, would anyone be willing to overlook and undervalue this most basic customer service skill?

Common Sense Common sense and logic aren’t so common. Common sense says solid telephone skills cannot be taken for granted and shows our customers we value them and their business. Here are some common telephone blunders and common sense solutions to keep your company on track. Even if you have been guilty of practicing some or all of these blunders, take charge now and reshape your focus to create a customer-focused organization.

* No Call Back I am referring to calls from a co-worker, business associate, vendor, or someone with which you have a standing business relationship. The reasons people choose not to return a call may include the following: ? �•I don’t have any new information to share.” ? �•I’m waiting for so-and-so to return my call or answer my e- mail.” ? �•I don’t have a need for this service right now.” (Though I may in the future). ? �•I’m not the person with whom they need to speak.” ? �•I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Unfortunately, when you realize you were negligent and overdue for a call back, panic and embarrassment set in and you feel it’s easier to duck, dodge, and dance around rather than make the call. This only compounds the problem and doesn’t alleviate your uneasiness.

The solution is to pick up the phone. Begin by apologizing for not calling back. Do not make excuses such as, �•I was busy.” Instead, be honest and forthright, which goes a long way to building and maintaining solid business relationships and your reputation. Next, proceed to resolve the business at hand. In the future, begin with the positive intention of answering calls in a timely fashion. If you don’t have any news or there is no change in circumstances, let the caller know. Inform him or her when you plan to call back, or provide a future date when the caller can contact you – and be sure to pick up the phone.

* Untimely Voice Mail Imagine you call a business the day after Labor Day and hear the following message, �•Thank you for calling ABC Company. You have reached the desk of Jane Doe. I’ll be out of the office on business from July 3 through July 15th. Please leave a message.” What does this outdated message really say about you to your customers? For one, it says I’m too busy to change a voice message, so, perhaps, I’m too busy to meet and service your business needs. Remember, your message represents you in your absence. Be sure all messages are timely and reflect a professional image. If the customer needs immediate assistance, be sure to state whom they can contact, along with a phone number.

Another voicemail blunder is allowing a mailbox to fill to capacity so the box won’t accept any more messages. I know people who purposefully do this just so they won’t receive any more calls, which translates in their mind to not having more work. This is a very unprofessional and unacceptable practice. Check your voice mail periodically throughout the business day. Save messages when necessary. If you expect you will not be available for an extended period of time, state when you expect to check messages and return calls. If you find your mailbox often fills up faster than you can keep up, consider having a live operator accept your calls.

* Unpreparedness Have you ever had a caller phone and say, �•I need so-and- so’s number.” You offer the information off the top of your head only to have the caller interrupt you and say, �•Hold on a minute. Let me get a something to write with.” Why do people call for specific information and yet are unprepared to take the information down? The caller has now wasted his/her time and yours. Every telephone needs always to have three items beside it: a pen, paper, and a mirror. (See the next item as to why you need the mirror.)

* No Mirror What you see is what the customer gets. Keeping a mirror next to your phone lets you see what your customers hear. A warm smile can be heard over the phone. If a call has come at a bad moment, better to allow the caller to leave a message than risk taking out your frustrations on the caller.

* Hanging Up Before The Customer When you hang up the phone before the customer does, you risk the client hearing comments that aren’t meant for his/her ears. �•That Jim is such an idiot. How dare he try to haggle over price after three months of negotiations! Oh, hi, Jim. I didn’t realize you were still on the line.” Oops, how embarrassing! I have personally heard some very interesting and embarrassing conversations begun before I hung up, and I can assure you I took my business elsewhere because of it.

* The Noisy Hang Up You’ve heard the crackle before –a page is sent over the public address system and at the end of the message you hear what sounds like a shot put thrown at the Olympic games. When the phone is disconnected, it sounds as if the handset was thrown halfway across the room. A better and quieter solution is to click the release or switch hook button first and then put the handset down into place.

* Phone Tag A great game of phone tag not only wastes time, it can be downright frustrating. Cut down on the number of �•tags” and leave a message that tells callers specifically when you can be reached or when you’ll be out of the office (so they don’t call then). Believe it or not, some people call on purpose when you’re out – now why would they ever want to do that?

* Fast Talking I’m a former New Yorker and I usually have no problem understanding the swiftest speaker. However, I’ve had people I have never met leave me a message with a phone number that is spoken as fast as an auctioneer. Slow down! Leave a message assuming the other person doesn’t know how to spell your name or already know your number. A proper message includes your name and number stated twice – once in the beginning of the message and again at the very end. This way if I can’t understand or want to confirm the information, I can do so without replaying the message over and over again. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. Don’t be shy about spelling any piece of information for clarity.

* Choosing Not to Invest in a Headset Juggling a pen, paper, and handset, while typing on a keyboard with the phone cradled in the crook of your stiff shoulder and aching neck, just isn’t productive. Ease your pain and invest in a quality headset and make life easier. You’ll find you can locate information, write, or simply listen with ease. While you’re at it, pick up an extra one for your cell phone, too.

* Misusing the Speakerphone The use of a speakerphone is useful when dialing, waiting on hold, and conference calls. There are times, however, when it is misused and abused. Examples of this are when private information is shouted into the speaker box so loudly that everyone in a one-mile radius can hear or having a speakerphone conversation without informing the caller that others are in the room. Don’t ever assume the caller doesn’t mind being on the speaker. Ask for permission first. Also, always inform callers before they utter a word that someone (if appropriate, who) is present in the room with you to give fair warning.

Telephone blunders are overlooked and all too common. Starting today get back to basics. Identify and correct telephone blunders and you’ll shine as a world-class customer service provider.

Top Eight Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business

Naming a business is like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important — you’re right. With 18 years in the naming and branding business, I’ve witnessed the good, the bad, and the really bad. Here’s how you can avoid the worst of the mistakes and get off to a good start.

Mistake #1: The Committee (Getting all your clients, employees and family members involved)

We live in a democratic society and it seems like the right thing to do- involving everyone in an important decision. This approach, however, presents a few problems. The first and most obvious fact is that you will end up choosing only one name — so you risk alienating the very people you are trying to involve. Second, you often end up with a consensus decision, resulting in a very safe and very vanilla name. A better method is to involve only the key decision makers, the fewer the better, and select only the people you feel have the company’s best interests at heart. The need for personal recognition can skew results– so you are best served by those who can park their egos at the door. Also make sure you have some right brain types in the mix. Too many left brains and the name often ends up too literal and descriptive.

Mistake #2: The Train Wreck (Taking two words and colliding them head on)

When forced to come up with a creative name, many aspiring entrepreneurs will simply take part of an adjective and weld it onto a noun. The results are names that have a certain twisted rationale to them, but look and sound awful. Someone starting a high end service franchise then becomes QualiServe. It’s a bit like mixing chocolate syrup with ketchup- nothing wrong with either but they just don’t go together. Other common truncations include Ameri, Tech, Corp, Tron, etc. The problem with this approach is that it’s simply forced – and it sounds that way.

Mistake #3: Where’s Waldo? (Names so plain they’ll never stand out in a crowd)

The first company in a category can get away with this one. Hence you have General Motors, General Electric, etc. But once you have competition, it requires differentiation. Imagine if Yahoo! had come out as It would be much more descriptive, but hardly memorable. And with the onslaught of new media and advertising channels, it’s more important than ever to carve out your niche by displaying your uniqueness. Nothing does that better than a well conceived name.

Mistake #4: The Atlas Approach (Using a map to name your company)

In the zeal to start a new company, many businesses choose to use their city, state or region as part of their name. While this may actually help in the beginning, it often becomes a hindrance as a company grows. One client came to me with complaints he was serving more of the market than his name implied. He had aptly called it St. Pete Plumbing since he hailed from St. Petersburg, Florida. But yellow page shoppers assumed that was also his entire service area. With a little creative tinkering we changed the image of St. Pete from a city to the image of St. Pete himself, complete with wings and a plumber’s wrench. The new tag line? “We work miracles!”

Other companies have struggled with the same issue. Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining was growing beyond their industry and their state. To avoid limiting their growth they became 3M, a company now known for innovation. Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC, de-emphasizing the regional nature of the original name. Both of these companies made strategic moves to avoid stifling their growth. Learn from them and you can avoid this potential bottleneck.

Mistake #5: Clich•� you say? (A good name is worth a thousand words)

Once past the literal, descriptive stage, the thought process usually turns to metaphors. These can be great if they are not overly used to the point of trite. Since many companies think of themselves as the top in their industry, the world is full of names like Summit, Apex, Pinnacle, Peak, etc. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these names, they are just overworked. Look for combinations of positive words and metaphors and you will be much better served. A good example is the Fortune 1000 data storage company Iron Mountain, which conveys strength and security without sounding commonplace.

Mistake #6: Hide the Meaning (Make it so obscure, the customer will never know!)

It’s great for a name to have a special meaning or significance. It’s sets up a story that can be used to tell the company message. But if the reference is too obscure and too hard to spell and pronounce, you may never have the opportunity to speak to that customer. They will simply pass you by as irrelevant. So resist the urge to name your company after the mythical Greek god of fast service or the Latin phrase for �•We’re number one!” If a name has a natural, intuitive sound and a special meaning, it can work. If it’s too complex and puzzling, it will remain a mystery to your customers. This is especially true if you are reaching out to a mass audience.

I pushed the envelope a little on this one myself, naming my branding firm Tungsten, after the metal that Thomas Edison used to create brilliant light. However, my clientele consists of knowledgeable professionals who appreciate a good metaphor and expect a branding firm to have a story behind its name. It’s also a way to differentiate my services (illuminated, bright, brilliant). So while it works for a branding firm, it would not do well as an ice cream parlor.

Mistake #7: The Campbell’s Approach (Using alphabet soup to name your firm)

This is a trend that is thankfully wearing off. Driven by the need for a matching domain name, many companies have resorted to awkwardly constructed or purposefully misspelled names. The results are company names that sound more like prescription drugs than real life businesses. Mistake #2 sometimes gets combined with this one and results in a name like KwaliTronix. (Or worse- mistakes #2 , #4 & #7, resulting in KwalTronixUSA). It’s amazing how good some names begin to sound after searching for available domain names all night. But resist the urge. Avoid using a �•K” in place of a �•Q” or a �•Ph” in place of an �•F”. This makes spelling the name, and locating you on the internet, all that much harder.

It’s not that coined or invented names cannot work, they often do. Take for example, Xerox or Kodak. But keep it mind, names like these have no intrinsic or linguistic meaning, so they rely heavily on advertising – and that gets expensive. Many of the companies that use this approach were either first in category, or had large marketing budgets. Verizon spent millions on their rebranding effort. So did Accenture. So check your pocketbook before you check into these type of names.

Mistake #8: Sit On It. (When in doubt, make no change at all)

Many business owners know they have a problem with their name and just hope it will somehow magically resolve itself. The original name for one of my clients was �•Portables”, which reminded some people of the outdoor restrooms or the portable class rooms- neither one a good association. This added to the confusion when phone operators tried to explain their new concept of moving and storage. After some careful tweaking, we came up with the name PODS, an acronym for Portable On Demand Storage. The rest is quickly becoming history as they expand both nationally and internationally. Peter Warhust, President and one of the original founders states, �•For the record, changing our name to PODS was one of the best moves we ever made”.

Exercise Experience, a former Florida based company, was frequently confused with a health club. In reality, they sold very high-end fitness equipment. This brings up a very key point — it’s better to have a name that’s gives no impression than a name that gives a wrong impression. Much of the ad budget we spent on Exercise Experience was used to clarify that they sold fitness equipment. This was valuable airtime that could have been put to better use selling the equipment rather than explaining the business. Ultimately, the company folded. It’s not to say it was solely because of the name, but I believe it was a factor.

Mike Harper of Huntington Beach, CA, bought a thirty-year old janitorial and building maintenance company named Regency. We both agreed it sounded more like a downtown movie theatre than a progressive facilities management firm. After a thorough naming search, we developed the name Spruce Facilities Management. Spruce not only conveyed the environmentally friendly image of a spruce tree, (something important to the client), it also meant �•to clean up”. The new tag line fell right in place – Spruce… �•The Everclean Company”.

It’s only a matter of time before Southwest Airlines and Burlington Coat Factory and others who have successfully outgrown their original markets begin to question their positioning. Much like 3M and KFC, they may need to make a change to keep pace with their growth and image.

In the fever to start your new business or expand a current one, take time to think through some of these issues. According to the late Henry Ford, �•Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it”. Albert Einstein took it one step further claiming, �•Imagination is more important than knowledge”. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding these potential pitfalls, you’ll be able to create a name that works both short and long term – one that allows for future growth. Like the original cornerstone of a building, it will support upward expansion as your company reaches new heights.