How to Start Greeting Cards Home Business

2009/02/28 at 5:42 pm (Article)

Do you like to create pictures and designs, or writing? Do you love to look at the greeting cards in your local stores? Then a greeting cards home business could be for you. This is a business with incredible growth, and income potential. It also gives the greeting card home based business owner several options in the business itself.

A greeting card home business opportunity can have you doing only one part, such as drawing or writing. This same business can be selling e-cards or cards sold in stores. It could also entail purchasing a territory from a larger card distributor.

The first step in how to start a greeting card company is to decide what part of the greeting card business you want to focus on. As a freelance greeting card artist, you would focus only on designing cards for other companies. There are costs associated with this option and could include the purchase of a computer and graphic art software if you don’t already have these items.

If you decide to be a freelance greeting card writer, your home based greeting card business would focus on only writing the phrases to be used on greeting cards. For this, you only need a computer and quick turn around time.

Of course, you can always freelance as both a writer and artist. To get jobs you must contact companies to see if they are in need of freelancers. They pay from $50 an assignment to several hundred dollars per assignment. However, until you build up a portfolio of samples, and sometimes even after, jobs can be hard to find.

Another option is to purchase a vending route from a larger greeting card company. This route becomes your way of starting a greeting card company. You are required to keep current clients stocked in cards, replace old cards with new ones and get new clients to build your income. You have start up costs that can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars in inventory. However, when you take the cards to the clients, you receive your payments right then.

If you want to start your own line of cards, your greeting card business plan would focus on all aspects of greeting card businesses. You will design and write each greeting card inside and out. Your creative freedom would not be hindered by someone telling you what they want. You would make all the decisions and it would truly be your greeting cards business.

Being a greeting cards home business owner would make the internet your best marketing tool. You wouldn’t be able to compete with larger greeting card companies, so you will want to create a special niche for your cards on the web and in small local stores.

This option requires research before beginning the creation of cards for your greeting cards home business. You will need to price printing services and software. Once you have these ready, you can being creating. Go ahead a start creating cards, but at the same time, think of a name for your greeting cards home business and create a website.

Websites are very easy to create, depending on the provider you decide on. Research domain name registries and web site providers. The more web pages and information you want to provide will influence the charge of the web site. A greeting cards home business web site should be able to be effective without many extras at first. The extras can come later.

Once your website is ready, put pictures of your cards and ordering information into it. If you create the web site yourself or pay someone else to do it, make sure the site is search engine optimized. This will bring more people to your greeting card web site and start selling your cards.

Since some people like to hold cards and feel their quality before purchasing, it may be best to have your greeting cards home business web site offer one free card, or one free sample package per household. This gets your cards on the market and helps drive customers to your web site. Also, consider creating a special “Thank You” card that you personalized by you for all inquiries and orders. This is another way to let people know the quality of your cards.

Have the cards printed as the orders come in to the web site. Offer personalized cards to increase sales. Make sure you have plenty of designs for each category. You want your greeting cards home business website to look full, but not cluttered.

You now know several of the options available to start your greeting cards home business. Now all you have to do is to decide which is the best option for you. This business can grow to be as large or as small as you want it.

by:Randy Wilson-ezinearticles.com

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Choosing the Right Home Business For You

2009/02/28 at 2:16 pm (Article)

Pay any attention at all to your email inbox and you’d be
forgiven for thinking that the only way to run a business
from home is on the Internet.  Sure, many people are
running spectacularly successful Internet-based home
businesses.  Many, many more are doing so even more
spectacularly unsuccessfully.

But what if you’re not interested in running an Internet
business?  What if you want to start and run a home
business the old-fashioned way?  Where do you start?

Actually starting any home business is the easy part. 
The hard part’s deciding what that business should be. 

So how do you even start the process of deciding on the
right home business for you?  The key is to be methodical,
realistic, objective and patient.

Step 1 : Personal Inventory

The first place to start is to inventory your skills,
experience, interests, and personality characteristics.
These are what you have to work with – your raw
ingredients, so to speak.

Make a list of personal qualities and factors that you can
throw into the mix.  Include things like:

=> your personal background;
=> training and education;
=> work and volunteer experience;
=> special interests and hobbies;
=> leisure activities;
=> your personality and temperament.

All of these qualities and factors make up what you know
and what you’re good at.

Step 2 : Identify What You Like

It’s one thing to know a lot about something or be good at
it.  It’s quite another to enjoy it enough to want to make it
your life’s work.  So, remove from the list you created in
Step 1 anything that you don’t really, really like doing or
which plain doesn’t interest you.  No matter how good you
are at it.  If you’re lucky enough to like what you’re good at,
as a general rule, stick with what you know.

Step 3 : Match Your Likes With Marketable Activities

If Steps 1 and 2 still haven’t suggested feasible home
business ideas, review the following activities that have
proven marketable for others and weigh them against
your “likes” from Step 2:

Crafts – pottery, ceramics, leadlighting
Health and Fitness – aerobics instructor, network marketing
for a health products company, home health care
Household Services – cleaning, gardening, shopping
Professional Services – attorney, architect, interior
designer
Personal Services – make-up artist, hairdresser
Business Services – business plan writer, meeting planner
Wholesale Sales – antique dealer, dropshipper
Retail Sales – children’s clothing, widgets
Computers – web design, internet training.

You get the idea.  This is not an exhaustive list, obviously.
You can visit the AHBBO Ideas Page for a list of over 500
home business ideas at http://www.ahbbo.com/ideas.html .

Step 4 : Make a List of Business Ideas That Fit With Your
Likes From Step 2

By the time you’re done, you’ll have a hitlist of possible
matches between your skills and interests on the one
hand and home business ideas utilizing those skills and
interests on the other.

Step 5 : Research

Armed with your list from Step 4, identify those ideas that
you think have marketable potential and then research
whether that belief is accurate.  In order to have
marketable potential, the idea must satisfy the following
criteria:

=> It must satisfy or create a need in the market.  The
golden rule for any business is to either find or create a
need and then fill it.

=> It must have longevity.  If your idea is trendy or faddish,
it doesn’t have longevity.  Go for substance over form in
all things.

=> It must be unique.  This doesn’t mean you have to invent
something completely new but it does mean that there has
to be some *aspect* of your product or service that sets it
apart from the competition.  This is easy if you go for the
niche, rather than mass, market.  Don’t try to be all things
to all people.  You’ll only end up being too little to too many.

=> It must not be an oversaturated market.  The more
competition you have, the harder it will be to make your mark.
It’s unrealistic to expect no competition, of course.  In fact,
too little competition is a warning sign either that your business
idea has no market or that the market is controlled by a few
big players.  What you want is healthy competition where
it’s possible to differentiate yourself from competing
businesses.

This all gets back to uniqueness.  If you can’t compete on
uniqueness, you must compete on price (or convenience). 
If you’re forced to compete on price alone, that just drives
down your profit margin.  Not smart business.

=> You must be able to price competitively yet profitably.
The price you set for your product or service must allow
you to compete effectively with other businesses in your
market, it must be acceptable to consumers and it must
return you a fair profit.  If any one of these three is off,
move on.

=> Your business must fit with your lifestyle.  If you’re
a parent of young children and you primarily want to start
a business from home so you can stay home with them,
a real estate brokerage business that requires you to be
out and about meeting with prospective clients is obviously
not going to work.

You’ll instead need to choose a business that can be
conducted entirely (or near enough entirely) from within the
four walls of your home office.  Similarly, if your business idea
would involve having clients come to your home, you’re not
going to want an unruly 3 year old underfoot as you’re trying
to conduct business.

=> Your financial resources must be sufficient to launch and
carry the business until it becomes profitable.  No business is
profitable from day one, of course.  But some are quicker to
break even than others.  If your business requires a
considerable initial capital outlay to start – computer, printer
and software for a web design business, for example – it will
take you longer to break even than if the only prerequisite
was the knowledge inside your own head, such as working
from home as an attorney.

If your financial situation is such that you can’t afford to quit
your day job until your business is paying its way, this, too,
will mean it will take longer to break even than if you’re able
to devote every waking hour to your business.  Just do what
you have to do.  That’s all any of us can do.

Step 6 : Business Plan

Once you’ve gone through the above process and identified
what appears to be the right business for you, the final “gut
check” is to write a business plan for your business, much as
you would for a presentation to a bank for financing.  Include
sections for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,
and set goals for what your business needs to achieve for
you, by when, and how you are going to get there. 

There are plenty of good resources online about how to
prepare a thorough business plan.  A great place to start is
at About.com (http://www.about.com).  Just type “business
plans” into the search box.

Although it may seem like a waste of time and effort to
complete a business plan if you don’t intend to seek outside
financing, taking the time and exercising the discipline needed
to really focus your mind on the important issues facing your
business, you will be forced to take a long hard look at your
idea through very objective and realistic eyes. 

If your idea passes the business plan test, then you can be
reasonably confident that this is the right business for you. 
If you come away from this exercise feeling hesitant,
uncertain and unsure, either do more research (if the reason
for your hesitancy and uncertainty is lack of information) or
discard the idea (if it’s because you don’t think your idea is
going to fly).  If this happens, just keep repeating Steps 5
and 6 until you end up with an idea and a business plan that
you’re confident is going to work!

Although it’s frustrating to wait once you’ve made up your
mind to start a business from home, this really is one situation
where the tortoise wins the race.  By taking a methodical,
systematic and disciplined approach to identifying the right
home business for you, you give your business the best
possible chance for long-term survival, hopefully avoiding
some very expensive mistakes along the way.

from:ahbbo.com

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How Do I Start A Home Business?

2009/02/28 at 1:07 pm (Article)

From time to time (at least once a day actually) I’ll get an
impossible-to-respond-to email that says something like,
“How can I work from home?”, or “I want to start my own
home business.  Please send info.” or even, “Please send
free info.”.  Naturally such vague, generalized requests are
not, for reasons of time (among others), going to elicit a
particularly helpful response but it does exemplify the
mindset of a proportion of my site visitors – they think they
want to start a home business but where on earth do they
start?

HOW DO I START A HOME BUSINESS?

The best advice I can give to someone who asks a question
as vague as this is that they’re asking the wrong question.
The first question they should be asking themselves is:
“SHOULD I start a home business?”, not HOW do they do so. 

The person who asks how to start a home business has not
given much, if any, thought to what they might do as such
a business (otherwise, their question would be “How do I start
an errand service home business?” or “How do I start a gourmet
gift basket home business?”). 

So, first things first.  Why do you want to start a home
business?  What are the advantages as you see them?
What are the disadvantages?  What entrepreneurial qualities
do you bring to the table that make you think you could
make a success of your own business?  What is your plan?
What product or service will you market?  Who are your
customers?  When will you give up your day job?  Are you
thinking about this because you just LOST your day job
(if so, warning bells should be ringing very loudly!)?  A home
business is most definitely NOT for everyone and it’s
certainly not a solution to unemployment per se. 

There are financial considerations too, obviously.  How will
you support yourself until you generate a profit?  Where will
you obtain financing? 

For more thought starters, read “Look Before You Leap …
Is a Home-Based Business REALLY For You?” in the AHBBO
Articles Library at http://www.ahbbo.com/lookb4uleap.html .

Assuming you work your way through the above considerations
and conclude that you do, indeed, want to start your own
home business, then, and only then, should you ask “HOW do I
start a home business?”

There are as many answers to this question as there are
individuals who ask it.  There is no one answer that fits all
sizes.  Generally speaking, however, the process of starting
one’s own home business can be broken down into seven
broad steps.

=> IDENTIFY YOUR PASSIONS

If you’re truly starting at ground zero and you don’t already
do something on the side that you’d kind of like to see if
you could make fly, your first step is to decide what it is
you’d like to do as your business.

I’m a firm believer in following your passion, whether that
be for gardening (start a herb and spice business or
cultivate cuttings for distribution via mail order), lead-
lighting (design and create stained glass lampshades),
accounting (run a home-based small business accountancy
service) or website design.  It doesn’t matter whether
other people are equally as passionate about what
you’re passionate about.  It’s YOUR passion that counts
and it’s YOUR passion that will propel you towards
success.  Do something you love to do in other words.
Make your work your joy and you won’t be able to help
but succeed.

=> IDENTIFY A NICHE MARKET FOR YOUR PASSION

Now, it’s one thing to know what you’re passionate
about, it’s quite another to identify an unmet need in
that field.  But that’s what you must do if you want to
turn your passion into a truly profitable business venture.

Identifying your niche is a pretty straightforward
process:

1.  Identify your general category and sub-category

Let’s say your general passion is gardening.  Gardening is
your general category.  Let’s also say that you’re
particularly interested in growing herbs and how they
can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes.  Herb
growing is your sub-category.

2.  Hang out with people interested in your sub-category

In order to identify unmet needs in your sub-category
(step 3.), you must find out from people interested in
your sub-category what they’re looking for that they
can’t find.  A good way to find out is to hang out where
they hang out – offline and on.  Offline, you may belong
to a local gardening club or cooking class at which you
hear that so-and-so has been looking high and low for
a certain type of specialty herb that isn’t commonly
grown in your country.  Online, you may sign up for
mailing lists and hang out in newsgroups to listen to
what people are asking time and again. 

3.  Identify unmet or under-met needs in your sub-category

If you follow step 2, chances are, if you hear the same
things repeatedly, you’ve found potential unmet needs
or needs that aren’t being adequately serviced by your
competition.   After all, if the need is being met, it won’t be
the subject of repeated questions.

4.  Inventory your experience, interests and competencies

In order to decide what to focus on in particular out of
a group of potential unmet or under-met needs, take account
of your experience, interests and competencies.  People are
generally good at what they enjoy and are interested in,
after all.

5.  Fill the unmet or under-met need

Once you’ve identified the unmet need(s) in your
sub-category, you can start thinking about how your
business can fill that unmet need.

=> SURVEY THE MARKET AND YOUR COMPETITION

At this stage, you need to take your business idea
and survey your niche market and your competition.
If you have competition, can you be better?  If your
market is dominated by a few large, well-established
players and you really don’t bring anything new or
different to the table, then the competition is probably
going to be too stiff.  On the other hand, if that
competition is focused on the high end of the market
leaving the lower end largely uncatered for, then this
could well be an excellent niche for you.

The bottom line is to identify your best competition in
your niche and decide whether you can be better.
Only if you believe you can be the best in your
niche should you proceed.  If not, keep looking until
you find a niche perfectly suited to your particular
blend of experience, interests and competencies in
which you can be the absolute best.

=> BUSINESS PLAN

Once you’ve identified your niche and surveyed your
market and competition and are reasonably confident
you can be at least as good as your best competitor,
it’s time to get down to brass tacks.

This is where you take your business idea and shape
it into a battle plan.  Formulating a business plan is
goal-setting for your business.  For a more detailed
treatment of writing a business plan, read
“Putting the Plan Back Into Your Business Plan”
at http://www.ahbbo.com/busplan.html .

Once you’ve thought through and recorded your
business plan you should have an extremely
thorough understanding of your industry and the
challenges you must overcome to make a success
of your business.  Take your business plan and
establish objectives, goals (which support attainment
of the objectives) and tasks (which support attainment
of the goals).

Put your tasks and goals into action to achieve
your objectives.  Decide where you want your business
to be in five years time and work backwards until
you have 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 year objectives and goals
to support them and tasks to support the goals.  The
end result should be a daily to-do list of things that
will directly lead you closer to the achievement of
your goals and objectives.

=> ACTION

Once you have your daily to-do list, DO IT!  The best laid
plans of mice and men are useless if not translated into
action.  It’s action that will propel you and your business
towards success.  Mere thoughts and plans are necessary
but insufficient.  They must be translated into activity.

=> TRANSITION

If possible, transition from whatever you’re doing now
into your business.  Test the waters, in other words.
If you’re currently in a paid job, stay there and run
your business part-time, taking the risk on someone
else’s nickel until you can be confident this thing’s
going to float.  Know when you’re better off devoting
your full time and attention to your business (i.e.,
know when an hour of your time is worth more when
spent invested in your business than your job) for
that is the time to shift into full-time entrepreneurship.

=> MAKING THE LEAP

Finally, make the leap with faith and courage.  Sure,
you’ll have moments of self-doubt, thoughts of
“can I do this?” when you’re wondering where the next
order’s going to come from and you think back to the
nice, safe, secure paycheck you used to be able to
count on in your job.  But recognize these insecurities
for what they are.  They are your mind playing tricks
on you.  You can do anything you set your mind to.
You just have to want it badly enough.  So, when the
time comes to make the leap, do it and hold nothing
back.  Your success or failure is up to you alone.
There are no excuses. 

So, in answer to the question “how do I start my own
home business?”, it’s quite simple really.  You do what it
takes.

from:ahbbo.com

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12 Secrets To Website Success

2009/02/28 at 12:53 pm (Article)

by Janet Attard

Are you finally getting around to getting a website set up for your company? Or, are you ready to have your existing website redesigned because you’re unhappy with the way it looks or performs?

If so, you’ll want the new website to be successful. In fact, as more and more business and consumers research and make purchases online, a successful website is critical to the success of your business. So, what can you do to make the new website successful? And how can you build a successful website on a small business budget?

Here are twelve secrets to website success. I know they work because I’ve used them to build BusinessKnowHow.com into a website that reaches 2.5 to 3 million unique individuals a year. And, I’ve done it the way most of you build your businesses – on my own nickel.

  1. Have specific goals for your website.
  2. Know your customer or site visitors and what they want to get out of your site.
  3. Have pages dedicated to specific items or subjects the customer or site visitor is looking for.
  4. Don’t make the home page of your site a “flash” animation. Web visitors routinely skip those animations (or just leave) because they aren’t interested in pretty graphics. They want facts. If you’re going to use flash to demonstrate your product (or a video) let people choose to view it, don’t force them to.
  5. Make it easy for visitors to find what they want. Use a simple navigation structure, and if you absolutely must use drop down menus, make sure visitors can actually click on the links without the drop down rolling up before the person hits the link they want.
  6. If you’re selling products, have category pages plus individual pages for each type of product. (For example, if you are selling jewelry, have one page for earrings with links to individual pages for different types of earrings, such as diamond earrings, ruby earrings, pearl earrings, etc.)
  7. Pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in setting up pages. The more closely the page title, page description, and keywords match what someone would search for, the more likely they’ll find the website, and the more likely they’ll buy whatever product is advertised on the page.
  8. Have a means for legally and ethically capturing visitors’ email addresses so you can contact them in the future.
  9. Plan to advertise and market your site on an ongoing basis through all methods available to you.
  10. Track and measure traffic, bounce rates, sales conversions and progress.
  11. Ask for feedback from site visitors.
  12. Stay in contact with site visitors (those who gave you their email addresses) on a regular basis so they remember to come back to your website.

from:businessknowhow.com

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Straightforward Steps For Time Management

2009/02/28 at 12:40 pm (Article)

  1. Plan ahead. Look a week, a month, even a year into the future. Don’t let deadlines surprise you. Note them down and plan a strategy to deal with them.
  2. Get organized. Install time management software or simply get a pen and paper and just make a good, old-fashioned to-do list. Include a do-by date for each item. Schedule each task on your daily calendar. Besides the date, include the time block you’ll need to accomplish the task. Learn how to organize your time.
  3. Streamline your work flow. If a certain procedure, habit or circumstance is choking off your personal productivity, find the source of the bottleneck and make the necessary changes.
  4. Resist the urge to focus exclusively on the tasks you’re best at. If you’re a sales guru, great. But don’t devote every moment of the day to sales. Give market research and production some of your time.
  5. On the other hand, don’t expect to do everything yourself – people management is key. Hire an accountant if keeping books is not your strength. Determine which tasks you can delegate to someone else – ideally, those tasks you’re less suited to. Schedule the tasks with the appropriate consultant, agency, or employee as early as possible. As much as you delegate, it’s your business riding on the line if the work doesn’t get done, or gets done badly, so schedule a follow-up. The best steps for time management often result in working less, not more.
  6. Know when to call it a day. Walking the line between thoroughness and efficiency is the most commonly neglected of the steps to better time management. Resist the temptation to give your all to everything, 100% of the time. While that’s a commendable attitude, it’s far better to figure out what you can’t afford to stint on, and what you can.
  7. Organize your personal life. Let your family and friends know you’re working hard to build up a small business. Arrange with them any necessary changes to your routine so your personal relationships become a resource rather than a hindrance.
  8. Get enough rest every night and maintain your good health. Take vacations and take weekends off whenever possible. No matter how well you plan, if you’re too tired or unwell to function, a hundred steps for time management won’t do you any good. Rejuvenate yourself so you can function at your best when you’re most needed. Ample rest is one of the best ways to improve memory – helping you keep track of your tasks and activities from step #2.
  9. You can’t create extra hours in a day. But you can learn the steps for better time management, streamline your business processes, and increase your efficiency to help your small business thrive from the very beginning.

    from:mysmallbiz.com

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Examples Of Creative Business Ideas

2009/02/28 at 12:01 pm (Article)

Art Studio – If painting or drawing is your love, set up an art studio in your home. Not only will you have a place where you can do your own work, but you can also conduct classes and lessons. Check the zoning laws in your town to make sure you follow any licensing requirements.

Photography Business – You can easily set up a photography business in your home. With a digital camera, a computer and a good quality printer, you can show off your work – with a little arranging of a room in your home, you can also set up a photography studio.

Music Lessons – People old and young enjoy music and voice lessons. If you have a musical background, some instruments, and a room with privacy, you can encourage this talent in others.

Sewing, Crocheting or Knitting Business- Nothing can replicate a handmade item. Hand sewn wedding gowns, draperies and baby clothes are lifelong treasures. Likewise, crocheted or knitted items such as hats, gloves and baby blankets are great items to give and to own. With a needlecraft, you can have flexible hours and also enjoy the pleasures of creating something unique.

Jewelry Business – One of the fastest growing crafts is beadwork, as people love the variety of beaded jewelry. You can classic, contemporary, or funky designs. Many of the components are inexpensive which makes it easy for you to buy the materials and still give a healthy markup for the final product.

Woodworking – Making things wood is a dying art, and this makes toys or other items fashioned from wood even more special. If this is your talent or interest, explore it.

from:mysmallbiz.com

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