Thursday, October 18, 2007

Choosing A Home Based Business Opportunity: The Selection Process

The primary purpose of this article is to perhaps help others make their selection with a little less time and effort than I had to expend.

It was back in 2001 when I started looking for viable work at home opportunities. It was a time consuming process, but in retrospect, I give myself a pat on the back every month when I cash the check from my home based business.

Having spent many years running traditional "bricks and mortar" type businesses, I didn't buy for one second the numerous heavily hyped, or worse yet, scam operations that touted the instant and fantastic riches that could be achieved (often with little or no effort required). While doing my research as to which business I would eventually pursue, this type of claim became an instant trigger for me to move on to check out some other "opportunity".

I mean, give me a break, if those claims were close to being true, why would they share their "secret" with anyone else? They would just execute their "magic system" and in short order would have made all the money that exists in the world...yeah, right!

In the course of my investigations, a few other natural filters surfaced to help me narrow down the realistic and legitimate opportunities from among the far too numerous unfounded offers. Early on, I determined that the "get in on the ground floor" offers were essentially smoke. After all, if I wanted to take a chance on the lottery, I would have purchased a ticket. Because of my business management experience, it soon became clear to me that three of the primary factors that would influence my choice would be:

*successful longevity (how long has this particular company been successfully doing business?)

*reasonable income expectations touted by the top management of the company offering the opportunity.

*support systems and training resources available to help the participants succeed.

One thing that really struck home with me was a statement made by the founder of the company that I eventually selected for my home based business. It went something like the following:

"Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear from an affiliate questioning why he or she is not seeing a big check yet. More times than not, the person asking hasn't even been involved for more than 90 days and is only barely beginning to even understand how the whole system works. And frankly, even if the number was six months, it's still much too early to be expecting a significant income stream to have developed.

I always say that if you're not willing to give a business at least a year, don't even bother getting involved. You need to understand that it takes time to get to know all the nuances of the compensation plan. It takes time to determine which products you want to lead with. It takes time to develop a game plan. It takes time to figure out what marketing activities deliver the biggest bang for the buck. Anything worthwhile takes sustained effort. If you're not thinking long term, you've set yourself up for failure."

To sum it up, the selection process should focus on reality (there is no "magic" in home based businesses) and reject any so-called "opportunities" that seem too good to be true.
How to Prepare for Your Start-Up Venture

When you awoke this morning, you found yourself buzzing with a fantastic idea for starting a new business and you hadn't a doubt in your mind that you could turn it into a huge success. But now what? All those great ideas floating around in your head and you're excited about making them happen, but at the moment you don't know where to begin. What is the first thing you should do as you contemplate your plan of action?

Start Writing Things Down!

The best suggestion in the early stages of your start-up venture would be to start writing things down. Even if the thoughts that occur to you seem insignificant at the moment, keep all your ideas in a simple notebook so that when you're ready to start moving forward, all your ideas are in one place and ready to go. It's amazing how quickly you can forget something that you thought would stay with you forever, so keeping notes on all your ideas is crucial. I can't count the times I didn't write something down immediately upon thinking of it and later couldn't remember it no matter how hard I tried. Now I make it a point to quickly jot down a few words on a notepad no matter when they occur. Even if it's just a few brief terms, those few words will jolt your memory and bring the idea to the forefront when you're ready to address it.

Preparing a Business Plan!

The next step would be to start preparation for a business plan. Whether you are applying for a loan, seeking investors or are presenting your idea to other business associates you need a well thought out plan. No one will take you seriously unless you have a strategy in place. Furthermore, your plan will not only be utilized for presentation purposes, but it will in addition make your idea a reality and propel you to the next stage of your venture. Seeing your plan in place provides the impetus needed to forge ahead.

How to Write a Business Plan!

At this point you are probably thinking that you have no idea where to start your plan or even what it should include. A good place to start is by constructing a summary of what your plan will contain. Create a table of contents that includes whatever you think a good plan should encompass. In all likelihood your plan will contain an objective, an executive summary, information about your product or service, marketing strategies, target market, competition, financial analysis, and profiles of key decision-makers. There may be other aspects that should be included in the plan but for now, the above mentioned are the primary ingredients for a good start up plan.

Seeking the Counsel of Professionals!

You might also consider seeking the counsel of an attorney to be sure your plan and business venture is legal. What a disappointment it would be if you put a lot of hard work into your plan and later found out that some important legality was overlooked, requiring you to start from scratch. In addition, unless you are prepared to construct spreadsheets and projections explaining how you intend to use your money and what you expect for the future, you might want to hire someone who knows all the financial ins and outs of a business.

Obviously, this is only a brief summation of what to do with your ideas for a start up venture, but it is a good place to start. Remember, words have power so use persuasive, influential language that demonstrates your enthusiasm, experience and knowledge regarding your idea. The words you choose to sell yourself could mean the difference between attracting the right investor or failing to be heard.
The Highs and Lows of a New Online Business

When you finally make the decision to start your own online business I can safely say that you will feel slightly anxious, overwhelmed, unsure and even scared! You are not alone in this. This is a natural feeling for anybody whether they are starting an online business or jumping out of an aeroplane on their first parachute jump. But people do overcome their fears and that is why the internet marketing industry is booming.

Okay, your domain name is registered, you have found a host, your autoresponder is set up, your website is all ready to be introduced to the world. So, you start advertising the way you have been taught, you buy leads, you join traffic exchanges, you write articles, you use pay per click advertising and so on. You are now highly excited at the prospect of earning a fortune overnight. DOH!

The very next day finds you in your website host statistics area, checking to see how many visitors have been to your website. You feel quite impressed that over one hundred people have been to your new site and had a look around. So, you then go to check out how many sales you have made. WAIT! None ? Zilch ? Zada ? What the hell happened here ? You were expecting at least a couple of sales, surely !

Oh well you say, never mind, let me check how many have signed up for my newsletter. Wow ! You have gained twenty five new subscribers. This is an instant high and you feel like you have achieved a miracle.

A week goes by with lots of visitors and maybe more subscribers but still no sales. You are now starting to feel a little despondent but strangely still optimistic because you are still advertising like you have been taught.

Time goes by and you have changed your sales copy, maybe you have even tweaked your website design a little. You feel that anything you can do to improve what your visitors experience when they visit your website will surely improve your sales. You try and try and try. You scratch your head and twiddle your thumbs, waiting with baited breath for that first sale.

Boom, bang , zap, wallop ! You have received notification of your first sale and now your feelings change dramatically. You have, in an instant, gone from feeling despondent and bemused to suddenly feeling like climbing Everest with one hand tied behind your back and your trousers missing would be no problem whatsoever. From just one sale the transformation in you is amazing. Of course, now you are hoping for more sales, so you repeat your advertising techniques hoping and praying that you will become rich in a short space of time.

Now, as all internet marketers will tell you, getting rich quickly does not happen unless you happen upon a miracle. Internet businesses need to be grown, like a seed, from baby into fully grown adult. Obviously this takes time and over this period of time you will probably experience a multitude of emotions. I know I have !

Anyway, from my own experiences with this business all I can say to you is this, do not give up, no matter how low you feel, because with perseverance, your online business can succeed. No, I am not a massively successful guru but like thousands of others I am willing to learn and put the effort in. You can too, regardless of what emotions you go through. You have to stay focused.
Choosing a Mind-jarring Name for Your Business

One of the most important things your new business needs is a name. Your business’ name will often be the very first thing your customers see, and the very first impression you make on any potential customers.

Endeavor to select a name that says something about you and your business that people in your target market will remember easily. If the name conjures up an easily recalled mental image, so much the better! This can be especially true on the World Wide Web where competition is fierce, and you really can’t bank on anyone bookmarking your site or adding it to her or his favorite’s list.

In the everyday brick and mortar world, a good basic idea is to simply use your last name followed by what you do. For example, Smith’s Lawnmower Sales and Repair or Jones’ Heating and Air are suitable. They are also easy to remember. You might also consider expanding the name by adding the town where your business is located. For example, you could use Smith’s St. Louis Lawnmower Sales and Repair.

Another avenue of thought might be to leave out your personal name entirely, and simply become Tulsa Heating and Air. This makes you sound like the first choice locally, and will make it easy for you to target your potential local customers. However, if you’re in a business with lots of competition, be sure to check with the proper authorities in your city, county or state to make sure the name is not already registered to someone else’s business.

If you are planning an internet business, or preparing to put an existing business online, you should consider placing the actual name of your product or service in the URL (web address) even if that is different from your usual business name. For example, if you are selling cookies, you would want your URL to be something like If that name is already in use, consider or anything else appropriate for your product. This is extremely important because many internet search engines will assign added value or weight when ranking your web site for anyone looking for your particular product or service!

If you are going to be a business-to-business service provider or vendor, you might want to consider a more corporate sounding name. Think of a word to describe your business, and then add the word “Consulting.” I know, people are tired of consultants, but it will nevertheless work better with business-to-business customers and vendors.

If you’re pursuing an even trendier market, you might consider choosing a less formal name. For example, you might want to name your business after an animal, and incorporate that animal into your logo. If you don’t have a large marketing budget, a logo is an excellent way to get started branding your business. Be sure to have your logo professionally designed. It’s going to become your public face! Branding can be incredibly important for your future success. For example, look at Government Employees Insurance Company - GEICO. GEICO utilizes that cute sounding gecko for virtually all its commercials now. What do you remember when you think of car insurance? Well, you might also think of Allstate. Are you in good hands? Yes, a catchy, attention-grabbing phrase is also an excellent way to identify your business to the public!

You can also employ a very short name or acronym. Take two or three words that describe your business, and shorten them to create one new word or acronym. So you end up with IHOP (International House of Pancakes) or IBM (International Business Machines) or P&G (Procter & Gamble)… This is a terrific way to express what your business does without anyone having a hard time remembering your business’ name. Even better, it makes for a great, easy to remember, and easy to type URL (web address).

Inevitably, for some businesses finding a good fit will be nearly impossible. In that event, you’ll just have to play with combinations of words until you come up with a name that sounds right and fits your business. If you do it well enough, it will be completely unique to your business. In fact, that’s not such a bad idea!

Another thing you might try is going to one or two of the web sites which show you the current key word phrases that are being searched for in your product line or field. You could also google some appropriate key words, and check the results pages for ideas.

Caveat - whatever name you select, invent, or decide on should be 1) easy to remember 2) easy to pronounce, 3) easy to type and 3) easy to spell. Also, as mentioned earlier, insure that no one else has a prior claim on your new name. Do that before you do any advertising or logo design work. You certainly don’t want to design and build a web site around someone else’s name!

It is a good idea to bounce your planned name off a few other people to make sure it really is suitable. One good way to do this is to post a note in appropriate internet newsgroups, or in a business oriented online forum.

Finally, after you have made a choice, sleep on it for a few days to make absolutely sure it is the right choice. Sometimes a couple days make a big difference in your thinking and in your perception.
Guarantee Success in Your Direct Sales Business

How exciting! You’ve started your own business through a direct sales company. You’ve got the support of a fabulous upline, and the promise of building a business that will allow you to have a flexible schedule and all the money you need to support your family.

Don’t forget, this business is, well, a business. You must treat it just like a business that you start from scratch.

Yes, you have the backing of a credible, well-known company, but, you still need to get the word out about the fact that you’re selling these products. There are three things you can do that will ensure your business is powerful.

Make a plan. Every single business must have a business plan. Your business plan will be your roadmap to success. Your business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The essential components to a business plan are a vision for your business, a mission for your business, your goals and your strategies.

A business vision is where you see your business at a point in the future. For example, “in three years, Jenn’s Home Comforts will be bringing in an income of $XXX,XXX. I will have 10 consultants under me and I will do 4 home parties per month.”

The mission for your business describes why you are in business. An example of a mission might be, “the mission of Jenn’s Home Comforts is to help women feel great about the space in their home.”

The goals in your business plan are specific, concise achievements that you want to accomplish in a certain time-frame. These are tied directly to the vision. Taking the vision above, a goal might be “recruit 1 new sales consultant at each home party.” Another goal might be “hold 6 home parties per month.”

Strategies in a business plan are the steps you will take to accomplish your goals. For example, how are you going to ensure that you’ll hold 6 home parties per month? One strategy might be to start by sending a letter to 100 contacts introducing your business. From there, your strategy might be to have incredible host(ess) incentives.

There are many other sections you can include in your business plan. The sections outlined here are easy to set-up, easy to maintain, and easy to follow.

You must market your business. This means, just like every other business, you must tell people what you do over and over and over again. And, you must be consistent. Create a marketing plan that includes marketing activities that you enjoy doing. Put your marketing activities on your calendar and do them.

A great way to start marketing your business is to create an e-zine. Your e-zine can be simple, and you can send it for free using a service like Yahoo Groups. By creating an e-zine, you’ll be developing a list of prospects that you can market your business to over and over again. You can offer special deals and incentives through your e-zine to encourage people to sign up. Just be sure that you send your e-zine on a regular schedule.

Create space for your business. Create space in your office and on your computer that is devoted to your business and nothing else. Also, carve out time for your business as often as you can. If you can only work on it a few hours a week, make sure you spend those hours having laser-sharp focus on your business.

Follow these three steps and you’re on your way to guaranteed success in your direct sales business!
Don't Be Intimidated About Starting An Online Home Based Business

A few years ago when I first started my online home business I didn't have a clue regarding how to go about it. I had never done any Internet marketing, and didn't know anything about websites or search engines or any of that other online business short, I was a complete rookie. In retrospect, the two major things that really helped me was that I refused to be intimidated and I kept a realistic perspective (both in terms of initial financial results and the time frame necessary to become successful).

I know from my own years of experience that relatively few business ventures are started on the Internet by people with the experience, motivation, determination, backing, and support that it takes to even have a reasonable chance of success.

Real online business people are those who work hard, who immerse themselves deeply in marketing and advertising, and who put in long hours in the beginning in order to see their Internet-based businesses succeed.

Achieving success in an online business is not difficult to comprehend. There is indeed a learning curve, but it's not brain surgery. The process of learning isn't as much the issue as are the personal traits of motivation and determination.

Develop your marketing plan and execute it. There's no magic in this online home based business stuff. We're talking real world here. It's not nearly as romantic as winning the lottery, yet many of the thousands of people I have helped to start up their home businesses on the Internet clearly came in with what I have come to refer to as the "magic/lottery" mentality. Many of those folks went off to chase another rainbow after a few months, but some of them also came to their senses and buckled down to develop very successful home based businesses.

Run, don't walk, away from all of those people that offer you "shortcuts" or "success secrets" (probably in exchange for some of your money). I mean, if they had it all figured out, why would they sell this "magic answer" to you for a few bucks instead of just keeping it private and then making tons of money for themselves? (I'll leave it to you to connect the dots)

Run your online home business just like a real company because it is, in fact, a real business and you have a real opportunity to either be successful or to fail. The primary difference between an online business and a traditional business is location (no traditional "storefront"). Nearly everything else is essentially the same. You have products and your objective is to sell those products to people who want/need your products.

Remember, building a business takes time, determination, and patience. Far too many people seem to think that the traffic is just going to pour in once they have put up their own website on the Internet. As anyone who has had a website for a while knows...this simply is not true, but it is often the reason people get frustrated and quit. The fact of the matter is that you need to diligently promote/advertise your website in order for your online home based business to flourish and prosper.

One of the most important bits of advice that I can pass on to you is that you must be patient. Most people start their online home business with great enthusiasm and high expectations. Often, after a few months, they become disappointed and frustrated because they are not already making a large amount of money.

These impatient home business entrepreneurs then often start to jump from one program to another every few months (never allowing themselves enough time to succeed at any of them) and, finally, throw up their hands in frustration and declare that they just can't make money online.

Stick with your business and don't give up. Dogged persistence (much like the tenacity of a pit bull) is an absolutely vital key to your eventual success. Don't give up when things become frustrating and you are not achieving the immediate success you expected. Give your online home based business sufficient time to develop and you realize the success you are seeking.

There is nothing magical about running an online home based business. It should be run the same as any traditional "bricks and mortar" business and it will succeed or fail depending on the time and effort you put into it.

There are many very ordinary people working at home and making a very good living on the Internet, will you be the next one
Starting a Direct Sales Company

The goal in starting a direct sales company is the same for each and every entrepreneur, which is to build a profitable business that earns a regular income. How to accomplish this can be confusing, especially with the large number of direct sales opportunities available to you. The way to choose the best direct sales opportunity is not unlike purchasing a car or home. You must study the information that is relevant to your personal goals and make informed decisions. If you simply choose a product and/or company without first researching the company itself and the products it sells, you could end up disappointed and unable to move forward with your plans. Before you make your decision as to which direct sales opportunity is right for you, ask yourself a few key questions:

What do you think of the products the company offers?

The products you offer must sell well in the present, but continue to sell in the future as well. The price range of the products is also important. You need to make sure the products you sell are affordable enough to use on a regular basis.

Consider how often the products will need to be reordered. You will want to ensure that you have repeat customers on a very regular basis. Also consider the commission or other money that you will earn for your efforts. What is it that you will be required to do or achieve before you will get your commission or bonus? Also, is there a yearly fee for your membership and if so, how much is it?

How will you advertise your direct sales company and how much will it cost?

Many companies will give you a web site that you can promote as you see fit while others are not internet friendly. You need to make sure you are free to use the company name and logo in your advertising campaigns and that your advertising plans are in sync with what the company has in mind. Talk with those who are already selling the products and collect all the information you can to help you make an informed decision.

Determine how much money you want to invest.

You will be the business owner, even if you purchase products from another company with the intent of reselling them. You will be solely responsible for your success or failure. Success will come a lot easier for you if you set your budget in the beginning and stick to it. You should only invest the amount of money you are willing to lose. With every business there is a chance of failure, the reasons for which may be due to many different factors.

You will have to be available for meetings, training, and other functions. As a business owner, you will benefit from networking with other business owners. Check into what the company in question offers as far as seminars, training sessions, and product releases.

The most important thing for you to keep in mind is that direct sales will require hard work and determination. You will not be able to simply join one company or another and expect that the products will sell themselves. You will have busy times and slow times and you must be prepared financially for the slow times. Basically, if you are happy with the products you sell and are willing to put forth the effort; you will succeed in starting and profiting from a direct sales company.
Are You Living the Life You Imagined?

Do you feel strong, healthy, financially secure?

Are you too busy working to take the time to make more money than you need just to 'get by'?

Will you be in the same position five years from now?

So you've scoured the internet for a home business and are now totally confused, how do you separate the real diamonds from the fake?

Most business opportunity websites focus on money and success stories. Do you REALLY think that you can:
  1. make money with no investment of money, time or energy, or all three;
  2. make money legally without selling a product or service;
  3. make a thousand dollars between Friday and the weekend;
  4. trust someone who tricks you into reading a web page with a dishonest headline?

What YOU need to focus on is deciding what you want to do, so that you will recognize it when you find it.

You need to learn how to be just as insistent as those scam artists. Learn what it is that you're looking for, and never settle for less.

Here are some of the questions you need to ask in order to clarify exactly what you want.

What do you really want in life? No matter what your current situation, you need to look beyond those particular circumstances and decide what it is you ultimately want to achieve.

For example, you may have bill collectors calling you every day. Your automatic answer may be "I want them to go away, I want to be able to pay off my debts."
You need to look beyond that. What you really want is financial stability and security so you can do what you really want to do, whether it be charitable, recreational, etc.

Yes, you want to be your own boss, regulate and schedule your own time, and control your hours and income, but maybe you also want to work with others who will train you to be just as successful as they are.

Do you want to market on the internet, sell, host parties, take orders, deliver products, handle stocking, inventory, or money collecting? Do you want to work independently most of the time, or do you want to work closely every day with others.

Don't forget that there are many aspects of going to work for others that you may be overlooking because of current stresses or worries. Will you be content to sit at home alone in your home office day in and day out? Will you miss the commaraderie of conversations around the water cooler or over lunch?
Maybe you want to stay home with your young children. Will you miss having adult conversations?

What I'm suggesting here, is to look beyond the lure of the "quick dollar" and pay attention to the details of what you will actually be doing every day in any online business. If you don't see it in print, ask! Ask those who are already working the business. Ask the owner.

Maybe what you are looking for is what is called the intellectual distribution business. It's the next trillion dollar industry. It's all about educating consumers about products and services that will improve their lives, that they didn't even know existed; products and services they already need and use which may be safer, healthier, more convenient alternatives; it's about wholesale prices, ordering online or on the phone, and deliveries right to their door.

Do you also want a system you can just plug in to, simple enough for beginners? Even if you know nothing about personal websites, live online conference rooms, or how to identify prospects interested in your products or services, you want to be successful and to have those tools and talents at your disposal.

You have the will to learn and earn, the persistence and the ability to follow directions. If you are a beginner, expect to find a business that will train you completely for free.

Which takes us to costs. If you pay nothing, you will get something that is worth just that. You must expect to have to make an investment, but just don't pay for training. Every legitimate business, both online and offline, needs startup cash. You should be able to get training for free, however. Find a business that fits your budget. I've tried many things, and I know that $100 a month is reasonable; I wouldn't pay much more, however.

Not to say that it might not be easier to start with more money, but it is possible to earn as you learn. There are many ways to substitute time for money; learn what they are.

So if you read a website and think "this sounds too good to be true" or "this sounds suspicious", then probably it is! Learn what you want, and trust your instincts. If you want to work with others, find an opportunity that allows you to do just that.

Shop around, do your due diligence, but remember, ultimately this is your decision. Make it based on concrete knowledge of what you want and what is out there. You will find something that fits you; just believe that you deserve it!