Words of wisdom for small business owners

Here are a few words of wisdom which any entrepreneur should take heed of. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or a reason to get started, these quotes will help you get back to working on what’s important:

1. “I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.”

Estee Lauder

2. “Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.”

Pablo Picasso

3. “Give them QUALITY. That’s the best kind of advertising.”

Milton Hershey

4. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Henry Ford

5. “Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

6. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Walt Disney

7. “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

Bill Cosby

8. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

Beverly Sills

9. “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

Napoleon Hill

10. “The best use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it.”

William James

11. “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.”

Thomas Edison

12. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

13. “Show me a person who never made a mistake, and I will show you a person who never did anything.”

William Rosenberg

14. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Vidal Sassoon

15. “So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”

Caterina Fake

16. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle

17. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

 Chinese Proverb

 

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Creating new products (part 1)

Although the vast majority of people are not aware of it, creating a new product involves hundreds and thousands of hours of work. A product needs to be well designed, must meet the needs of the customers, and must meet quality standards. Most companies will take product creation through six steps, which make up the two vital stages of product development.

The first stage, which we discuss in the following article, addresses product development conceptual issues, and comprises three steps:

 

1. Product conception

A product starts with an idea, and companies will often brainstorm ideas in order to decide the types of products they need to add to meet customer and market demands. Conceiving a product doesn’t stop here, however. Next, the number of potential customers is weighed in, and profitability calculated in order to determine whether the product should get the go ahead.

 

2. Concept statement

The concept statement is drafted based on the ideas from the previous stage. Through the concept statement a product gains shape and purpose – this is the point where the design and functions and features of the product are determined. At this point, companies should also determine the pricing for the product and where they plan to distribute it, as well as calculate a marketing budget and a marketing plan for the product. It’s common for companies to create more than one version of the product to cater for different customers with different needs.

 

3. The focus group method

Companies use the focus group method in order to see what the customers think about their new product. A focus group consists of 7 – 15 customers and a moderator, who uses a guide in order to introduce the product to the focus group members. The customers are asked if they like the product, if they’d purchase it, and what else would they like to see added to the product. The company representative can assist to the focus group discussions and usually he can see what is happening through an one-way mirror.  The information is then used to perfect the product.

 

Check out what happens in the second stage of product development!

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Why you should think of home business ideas

The past few years, the economy hasn’t been in such a good state. Countless small businesses closed shop, and many larger companies fired employees in order to stay profitable or at least keep on floating in a quicksand economy. Although recently the economy has started slowly recover, and the number of job ads is increasing, most of the demand is for part-time positions which show that employers are not very confident that their companies will stay prosperous for long.

Given the lower job security which characterizes today’s labor market, the fewer hours you get to work, and the fewer benefits you enjoy as employee, an increasing number of people are turning to working from home as a solution to make a little extra during their spare time. Although ten or twenty years ago doing something like that was pretty difficult, today it is much easier, and practically anyone can do it with minimum hassle.

This is why now is the time to start looking for business ideas. Working from home will not make you a millionaire in 6 months, nor will it allow you to retire early and go cruising around the world. However, it’s a great way to use your free time in a constructive manner, whether it is to pursue a hobby and make some money out of it, make ends meet or just in order to make enough to invest in your hobbies and interests.

You have complete control over the sum you invest in your home business. While some businesses will require you to invest a hefty amount, for specialized tools, materials, and so on, if you have the right set of skills you can start a business with zero costs, just by working on your computer, or by teaching people how to speak a language (including English), ride a bike, hold presentations, swim or get that six pack they always wished to get.

Finding the right home business idea for you is not as difficult as it may seem. There are countless options to choose from. We advise you to choose wisely and wish you good luck.

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Creating new products (part 2)

While the first stage in planning new products addresses product development conceptual issues, the second stage is one in which the company has a pretty good idea of what they want to make and are already starting to test in the field the potential profitability of the product:

1. Marketing Research

At this point, the company has a pretty clear idea of what the product will look like, what the features and design will be. So, the only reasonable thing to do is see if it appeals to the public. For this reason, companies take surveys on various demographics categories and in different markets in order to see where they stand. Most of the times, the company is not involved directly – instead, it contracts specialized agencies that have the information and the infrastructure needed to conduct surveys by a diversity of means.

2. Small-scale production

Once the results show that the product will be a hit, or at least profitable, companies start production on a small scale. That’s because they’re not yet convinced the product will actually sell. So they only start production and distribution on markets involved in beta testing.

3. The Beta testing

Usually, companies will use two different markets for their Beta tests. The markets are usually cities comparable in size and demographic characteristics. That way the company can avoid other variables influencing the results of the testing phase.

During Beta tests, companies market their products as planned during the first stage of product development. At the end of the Beta test, financial officers will calculate the sales and evaluate profits. At this point the decisions factors in the company will meet with project managers and discuss whether the product should be sold on other markets as well.

 

Planning and creating new products is an expensive endeavor – in terms of time, financial, and human resources. However, the potential benefits outweigh the costs, and not cutting corners will ensure you are at least positive whether your product idea would have been a success or a dud.

 

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The first steps in setting up a business

Starting a business is a long-term commitment to excellence. It requires discipline, knowledge, determination, but most of all motivation. Here are the first steps in setting up a business:

 

1. Deciding on the area of activity of your business

The most important thing is to decide on an area in which you are experienced, or which you are very passionate about. However, ensure that you are going into a profitable industry. Investing in a business in a soon-to-disappear industry is, as you’ve probably guessed, a very bad idea.

2. Write a plan

Having a business plan can be a tremendous advantage for a newly opened business. It gives you insight on how the industry works, what your competition is doing, and what areas you need to focus in order to make it on the market. This level of information will lead to higher profits and sales.

3. Funding

Any business needs a starting investment. It’s up to you to find the money to finance your dream. Of course, depending on the business, you might only need a few thousand dollars – which is not a huge amount. However, some business opportunities will involve much larger investments. This is why you need to be able to identify potential investment sources and convince them your business plan is solid.

4. Choose a business name and logo

While it may not sound important, the name you choose for a business can be the key to success. A name has a lot of power, and can add some to your products. Similarly, the logo can make your products very memorable for potential customers, and a memorable product is a better selling one.

 

Following these steps is just the beginning. There are many other things you need to get done in order to launch your business, from getting your license and decorating your office to starting to hire your future team. However, these 4 steps represent the initial phase, which is vital to the success of any business.

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8 Great Small Business Ideas

Are you looking for something new? A new business venture to engage in? Here are some suggestions for eight small business ideas you might not have thought of. Some have low overhead fees and don’t require much specialized knowledge, while others require that you gain some skills or make an initial investment. The choices vary, but hopefully you’ll find something for you:

E-waste recycling.

Most municipalities have programs for regular recycling, but there often isn’t a curbside program to get rid of broken or unusable electronic waste short of just throwing it away. As an e-waste recycler, you would collect waste and charge by weight for its removal and transport it to a local e-waste recycling center.

Green home cleaning.

There are many house cleaners available for hire in any given area, but green home cleaning is much more targeted market where there may not be as much competition. Green home cleaning is just regular house cleaning done using environmentally friendly and natural cleaning products. For instance, instead of using ammonia-based glass cleaners, you could use a mixture of four tablespoons lemon juice and a half gallon of water. Instead of using traditional furniture polish – which usually contains a high amount of petroleum distillates – you could polish wood with a mixture of two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice. Those are just some examples, though – the internet is full of natural and environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives. It’s a low overhead business and you can pretty much keep all your work supplies in the back of your car.

Computer tutor.

You don’t actually have to be a computer genius to be a computer tutor. There are plenty of people out there who need help with the basics – Miscrosoft Word, web research, or just basic photo editing. You can both offer private tutoring and also start teaching classes through local community centers and organizations that offer adult education classes. Of course, if you have more advanced skills – like advanced Photoshop skills, programming, or web design, then being a computer tutor should be a complete no-brainer.

Food truck.

Although there are more substantial start-up costs for a food truck than for the ideas listed above, it is still a less significant investment that a traditional restaurant and it also has a very low failure rate. The failure rate for food trucks is estimated to be under 20 percent, while the failure rate for restaurants is somewhere between 60 and 90 percent. You can stick with the basics or thrive on a slew of unique recipes of your own creation. Some food trucks become a jumping-off point for successful brick-and-mortar restaurants, and some just continue to thrive as food trucks.

Traveling salon.

Some people prefer to have their hair stylist or nail artist come to them simply as a matter of convenience. Now, though, there is also an increasing market for the growing group of elderly baby boomers who need their hair done at home. Traveling salons are becoming increasingly popular, and are poised to continue growing in popularity for some time as the elderly population increases in size and more and more people demand services at home.

E-commerce warehouse.

This is a business that requires a lot of space. With the growing number of e-commerce businesses out there, there is a continual need for the storing and shipping of inventory. Because many e-commerce businesspeople don’t have a physical store location, many of them don’t have storage space. That’s where you come in, as a storage and shipping center for small e-commerce retailers. You’d be responsible for storing, keeping inventory, and packaging then shipping e-commerce goods for one or many retailers. The number of clients would be largely contingent on the amount of storage space that you have available.

Testing. Apps, websites, programs – almost everything digital needs a tester.

How many times have you found a business site or order form that just didn’t work properly? Untested sites and software are not only frustrating for the user, but they’re also quite detrimental to business. As a tester, you would help insure businesses that they don’t lose customers by relying on apps or websites that don’t work like they’re supposed to. You wouldn’t have to have the skills to fix the problem; a tester just needs to be able to identify the problem and test thoroughly to make sure that all problems are identified.

Smartphone repair.

Unless you’re already a techie handyman, this is a job that might require some self-training. All the information you need is on the internet – you just have to take the time to familiarize yourself with it and have the handyman skills to follow through. See, smartphones break all the time, but fixing them can be pretty tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing – and replacing them is incredibly expensive. That’s why there’s a good space in the market for smartphone repair businesses these days.

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The value of alternative dispute resolution for small business owners

Statistically speaking, most businesses today are small businesses. Small businesses are also the most vulnerable to market fluctuations or to any internal or external issues that can arise and threaten their operations. Competition at this level is fierce: corporations can afford to lower prices, while small businesses can’t. Moreover, the new global market makes it easy for foreign companies to compete with local, small businesses.

But small businesses are also very vulnerable in the event of a dispute. Disputes are costly – both in terms of time and financially. The traditional way of handling disputes involved a negotiation process with lawyers present. In case no amiable solution can be found, the case goes to court.

Proceedings can stretch over months or even years, and parties will need lawyers for the entire duration. As we all know, lawyers are pretty expensive, and the longer the proceedings drag, the more they will cost. Additionally, a dispute with one of your collaborators interrupts supply to your customers, or means you’re losing a big client. That means you need to put effort in finding new customers and new clients, which translates in wasted time and financial losses.

But going to court also has other disadvantages for small businesses. The parties don’t have the possibility of reaching an understanding any longer, and the decisions rests in the hands of a jury with little, if any, experience in the matter.

Most often, small businesses target narrow markets and work on tight budgets. The main problem here is that big companies can afford the costs easier, and they can outlast small businesses in a dispute.

This is why alternative dispute resolution methods are essential for small businesses in the event of a dispute. Today, an increasing number of companies include specific clauses which make mediation mandatory should a dispute arise. Mediation helps the two parties reach an agreement by discussing the issue. It’s not only focused on problem-solving, but also on building a stronger relationship between the parties and on maintaining mutual trust.

 

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