Can You Make Real Money with Affiliate Programs?

Affiliate programs are a very powerful way of making money while doing very little work. The best part, however, is that you really don’t have to invest any money. An affiliate program is ideal for most people looking to make money in their spare time for many reasons.

You can earn a handsome commission from each sale that a company makes without having invested in that company. Your new on line business can be operated automatically, with no office space, phone lines, employees, etc. While most affiliates start working this opportunity in their spare time; you’ll soon find that the more time you spend marketing your new business, the more money you can make! One example of this is Iceland travel guide Iceland in 8 Days. The site owner runs affiliate offers through Google AdSense, Booking.com, and Amazon based on a variety of things.

But you need to take some precautions before you get started. go take a look at the company`s payment page: Is it secure? if the ‘s’ is missing from the ‘HTTP’ and the padlock is not below the task bar, do not join the program. Of what use will it be for you to deal with a group of fraudulent people? If they want to scam their clients, there is no guarantee that you, their partner in business will not be scammed. I cannot tell you what sorrows I once went through with a program like that.

Also important for you to is making your research about the company. How long has it been around? What reputation do they have on line. The best affiliate programs on line usually have credit heaped on them by others either through what people discuss on forums, or on other websites. You could also see whether they have one type of on line reliability program or not.

In any affiliate program you join, you expect to deal with real people who care about you. This requires you to ask questions if you are not sure about some things pertaining to the business. Do they have a physical address? What about a phone number? Can you see the company members` photos online? Do they seek to really help you when you are stuck in the middle of somewhere? If they are driven by excellent service to you, then you can be assured of a better result.

Further, you can also find out if their products are selling. Where ever you live, the type of products you sell may not be in vogue, and as you know people are so interested in buying items on line. Of what use will it be if the product do not sell and you join on line companies that soon find that they want to close down. You end up losing all the money you made when the company closes down. If on the other hand they are selling see to it that they provide resources for you to benefit from tools and training that helps you, if you are new to affiliate marketing.

Lastly, do not pay to join any affiliate programs. the best programs usually will let you join for free. There are many of these on line. Make your search for these companies on the more popular search engines. When finally you find those you want to join, make sure you join those that offer a two-tier compensation plan, or that gives you the opportunity of enjoying a residual income.

As a lead toward the best on line affiliate programs, you get hooked up with Amazon or Click bank and make sure you avoid those that do nothing but shout on line. If you succeed with the ones I mentioned above and you feel like you want to look for another affiliate program then you can search for them on line


Business Words to Abolish in 2008

There is something about walking through the doors of any major that turns normally well-spoken people into complete idiots. They may tell their kids, “get a coat, it’s going to be cold,” and by the time they get to work, they’ll tell a coworker, “obtain a cloth thermal insulating system, a meteorogical event involving a decrease in the warmth system.”

It’s time to strike these words from our vocabulary and start speaking English again.

 

Associate

 

This term was coined to replace “employee”. It is supposed to represent that the company is not a hierarchy, but one big happy family where everyone is equal, an associate of their fellow coworker.

Of course, this soon spawned these same companies referring to “leadership” and associates, making sure that people didn’t get TOO comfortable thinking they could walk up to the CEO in the bathroom and tell them what they felt about the decision to acquire ACME industries.

Go back to employee.

 

Space

 

This term is used to describe an area or market, as in Apple is a major player in the portable music player space. Like many buzzwords, the problem is that if you take it away, what you’re saying loses nothing.

When you start to talk about “space” in your business writing or on television, I start to wonder about the space between your ears.

 

Solution

 

When a dumpster company tells me that they’re the leader in sanitation solutions, I start to worry. You collect trash. And frankly, trash has never been a problem because there are 5 or 10 different companies who will pick it up for me. With the exception of not putting my trash can back on the curb accurately, most of them do the same type of work. In recent years I’ve heard about people who offer “copier solutions”, “IT solutions”, “building solutions”, and just about every other type of “solution” you could think of.

Again, you can eliminate the word and not lose the meaning of your sentence.

 

Customer focused or Consumer Centric

 

When you hear a company say they’re customer focused or consumer-centric, it may be time to run away. This is something the consumer decides, not the company. The reality is that with a few exceptions, every company strives in some form or fashion to be customer focused. If you’re making something or providing a service they want (either with exceptional prices, innovations, or customer service), you’re focused on the customer.

Even Wal-Mart, where Customer Service followed the giant smiley face out the door and down the road to Target, is customer focused. They provide cheap stuff that almost anyone can afford. As much as I hate going there, I always encounter enough people in one to realize that people still are shopping there.

 

Paradigm

 

When someone starts talking about “paradigms”, I immediately think of two dimes, and how little I can buy with them anymore. Can’t even buy a ring out of one of those machines with all the plastic capsules that used to be in front of the grocery store.

Paradigm means example of something. A paradigm shift is usually a change in thinking. Why not use those and not confuse those of us who enjoy pocket change?

 

Offline

 

Ever been in a meeting and hear “let’s take this offline”? The implication is that in the meeting you’re “online”, and out of the meeting, you’ll be “offlne”. Indeed, meetings are a lot like the time I spend online. I often go on the web for one reason, wind up wasting an hour two on unimportant things, and wind up going offline with little accomplished and just a little bit tired.

But the reality of the situation is that if you’re using “online” as a metaphor, aren’t you just as “online’ in a face to face meeting as you are in a group setting? And why use this stupid term anyway? Why not just say, “let’s discuss this after the meeting?” Yes, it doesn’t sound as high tech or important, but it also keeps someone from wanting to string YOU up on a line.

 

Utilize

 

The word is use. I know utilize sounds fancier, but it isn’t. Nobody will hire you over the guy who says use. So stop using it.

 

Think Outside The Box

 

I am not sure who first pointed out (but it probably was Dilbert) that it’s tough to think outside the box when most of us work in cubicles that are shaped like one. Thinking outside the box has the unfortunate problem that its very success ensured its demise. Originally the phrase was a great way of describing trying to do something new and looking for new ways to be better. The problem with the phrase now is that it is a cliche, and cliches are the opposite of thinking outside the box. And if everyone is thinking outside the box, doesn’t that simply become a new box that they’re inside of?

Besides, sometimes doing something different for the sake of doing something different doesn’t work. Just ask Wal-Mart how well their attempt to market more upscale clothing went.

Ramp Up

 

Another phrase that instantly calls to mind something unintended. When I think of ramp up, my brain immediately goes to Evel Knievel. I think of playing with my Evel Knievel stunt cycle and putting two really cool plastic ramps down for him to jump off of and crash into, breaking several bones and becoming a bitter old man with a bad liver.

Ramping up means to increase. Why not just say increase, and that way, nobody gets hurt.

 

Leverage our strengths

Again, the word is use. When a 50 dollar word can do the same heavy lifting as a 5 cent word, then you know you’ve over spent. Leverage your dictionary to find out what a word means before you use it.

 

Human Capital

 

This phrase is supposed to refer to your employees. Overpaid HR wonks and consultants will tell you that this refers to the strength of your workforce in making you money. The problem is that capital takes the humanity out of your people and turns them into just more stuff your company has.

Actually, this phrase is probably more appropriate than “associate” when explaining how many companies view their employees.

Now go forth and utilize the knowledge you’ve gained here to ramp up your ability to create a paradigm shift in the associate value added space.


The Rise of Big Business in America: Robber Barons Vs. Captains of Industry

 

The 19th century entrepreneurs were Captains of Industry leading the nation’s shift to industrialization. These Captains of Industry made the industries they were involved in more efficient, set fair prices for their products, and accumulated large amounts of wealth for themselves through their efforts.

In the late 19th century, American Captains of Industry were greatly successful in making America more efficient due to their competitive nature and their ability to consolidate resources and create an effective enterprise, even while facing harsh resistance from those who viewed them as ruthless. The enterprises used combination to make their industries more efficient. John D. Rockefeller combined various oil and refining companies, increasing production and making the industry more efficient (The Prize). Rockefeller also created the Standard Oil Company to increase efficiency (The Prize). Andrew Carnegie made the steel industry more efficient by eliminating the middle man (Kennedy). Technological innovations increased efficiency as well by providing faster ways to produce superior products. Henry Ford realized the assembly line was the most efficient way to quality automobiles at an affordable price (Kennedy). Cotton mills were erected in the south which allowed farmers to delegate their personnel more efficiently (Kennedy). Railroads allowed for faster transportation of oil, steel, and many other products to more people across the country (Kennedy).

 

In the late 19th century, all the way up to present day 2008, in the United States, businessmen have had the right to set their own price, allowing for a healthy profit, even if it is viewed as overcharging because the consumer still has the final say about the price which they will pay for a product. Allowing the businessmen to set prices is good for healthy competition. Rockefeller set prices at an affordable rate for the consumer (The Prize). Setting his price as he did led Rockefeller’s business to become a monopoly, which made it more successful (The Prize). The consumer continued to have a choice in which company to buy from. Rockefeller cut his prices in order to compete better with the other businesses (Klein). A businessman’s objective is to make a profit, and they have a right to do so. Pursuit of happiness in guaranteed in the Constitution and allowing the businessmen to set their prices so they can earn a profit allows them to do this. The only way a capitalistic society can function is by allowing the businesses to make a profit. Ford was able to introduce automobiles at an affordable price and still managed to make a profit (Kennedy).

 

In the late 19th century, Captains of Industry accumulated vast amounts of wealth through their entrepreneurial efforts in the United States, despite the hardship the corporations and the owners themselves faced. Without the efforts in producing more efficient products, profits would have been minimal. Rockefeller increased profits by consolidating his resources, including oil drilling companies and oil refining companies (The Prize). Southern farmers worked to find new technologies to replace the work done by former slaves without losing money (Kennedy). Ford invested his money to develop an assembly line, which eventually lead to large profits for him (Kennedy). Carnegie combined different parts of manufacturing to increase the wealth of his steel industry (Kennedy). Many Captains of Industry were able to create their business empires though they started with little wealth or experience. In 1848 Carnegie was earning only $1.20 a week, but by 1900 he was taking in $25 million each year (Kennedy). Rockefeller almost lost his enterprise with the invention of the light bulb, but he adapted his industry to suit the combustible engine (The Prize). J. P. Morgan was originally a banker, but began accumulating wealth much faster after his acquisition of the steel industry (Kennedy).

 

For all of these reasons the entrepreneurs of the 19th century are better described as Captains of Industry and not as Robber Barons.


eBay Fee and Feedback Change is Part of Doing Business: Devil’s Advocate View

There seems to be quite a ruckus in the eBay seller community regarding the recent decision by the company to restructure fees and change policies relating to buyer feedback. An article currently in Associated Content by a seller stated they felt “betrayed and confused” by the changes, and it will cause them to stop selling inexpensive items on eBay. As a fellow seller for the past six years, I believe these concerns are nonsense.

With respect to the fees, the primary changes are as follows:

* The final sales fee charged by the company will increase from 5.75% to 8.75%.

* Gallery fees, which had been $.35, will now be free.

* The listing fees will be reduced by $.05 per listing, no matter what price range applies to the item.

 

This means that any item which sells for $13 or less is beneficial to the seller. How is this the case? The final listing fee for a $13 item will increase by $.39. With the savings of $.40 from the change in gallery and listing fees, the seller is a penny richer. Therefore, this policy will not cause any seller of inexpensive products to stop listing them, as the above mentioned author indicated.

For higher priced items, sure, the seller is now being charged more. Let’s say the final listing amount is $25. The applicable final sales fee is now $2.19 (as opposed to $1.44 under the old system), or an increase of $.75. The seller is now out $.35, after the gallery and listing fee difference. If you as seller are concerned about this, simply raise the shipping and handling fee charged to the buyer by $.35. Do you think a buyer would complain about being charged $5.00 shipping instead of $4.65?

I know, I know….about 65% of you are saying how unethical this is right now. Well, this is simply the way capitalism works, and the practice employed by any company in the world which ships products. Even printers of Bibles, Korans, and Torahs will do this when shipping. Companies are in the business of making money, not having their profits chipped away to nil. Remember, the fee charged to buyers is Shipping and Handling. The “and Handling” could mean the price of the box, gas to get to the Post Office, a band-aid for a paper cut on the envelope, or a plethora of other items.

Moving along to the changes in feedback, sellers can now only leave positive comments for buyers. The main complaint from sellers is they should be able to leave negative feedback to deadbeat buyers (buyers that win an auction and do not pay). This certainly is a legitimate concern, but eBay states that neutral or negative feedback left by a non-paying bidder will be removed from the seller’s comments.

I have conservatively sold 300 items on eBay in the past six years and have only come across one non-paying bidder. There have also been many occasions in which a bidder with a terrible rating has helped to bid up my items, only to lose out at the end of an auction.

The truth is sellers want the option of giving a dissatisfied buyer retaliatory negative feedback. I have seen this multiple times in buyers’ feedback. For example, I recall one instance in which a buyer left a seller a neutral rating because it took three weeks to receive the package. The seller promptly gave that buyer a negative saying something to the effect of, “THE BIN LADEN OF EBAY. AVOID THIS BUYER”. That is like going to a restaurant, paying the bill, mentioning the food was a little cold and the server was slow – and then having the cook slap you in the face with a fish and the waiter throw you out of the place like Nick threw George Bailey out of his bar in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Isn’t it the goal of any business to satisfy their customers and earn their trust?

 

The simple fact is the US is in a recession and eBay is trying to maximize their profits. I cannot begrudge them for that. I am sure that anyone who has ever used eBay will attest they are better off than before it was created. As a seller, I have been able to make money selling old stuff from my house, and as a buyer I have found a vintage 1970 GI Joe helicopter in its original box. I would have had to go to about 80 million garage sales before I found that treasure…and by the time I got there, I’d be dead. Happy bidding….thanks for looking!


How to Protect Your Small Businesses from Burglars

Small business employees should stay silent during a robbery unless they are asked a question by the robber, and they should move slowly and deliberately to avoid the perception of an attack. Furthermore, it isn’t a good idea to try to follow the criminal out of the store to get a description or a license plate number, especially if he is armed.

Small businesses are arguably the best targets for robbery because they rarely have advanced security measures to guard against potential crime. If you own a small business, your job is to make it as difficult as possible for someone to commit a robbery in your store or office. To do this, you’ll need to know a bit about how to keep your business safe.

Opening and Closing

When you or an employee opens or closes your small business, you can avoid robbery by working in twos or threes. A lone employee trying to open or close is extremely vulnerable to attack, so make sure there are at least two people present at all times. This might be difficult if you’re a one-person shop, but bringing a friend or relative is just as effective as having another store employee.

Alarm Systems

Homes are not the only structures that benefit from security systems. A standard alarm system will do wonders for your small business, and can protect it against robbery when you aren’t there to stand guard. In addition to the security system itself, place a notice in a window or out front that tells potential criminals that your store is constantly monitored.

Cameras

Even small businesses need technological devices that can help guard against robbery and theft. Installing a security camera that faces the cash register is the best way to do this, and can increase the safety quotient for your entire store. Additionally, this can help police officers find the perpetrator if you are ever a victim.

Bank Deposits

If your small business involves accepting cash or checks from customers, it is important to practice safety measures when making bank deposits. Don’t carry the money in a bank-issued satchel, for example, because this alerts the public to what you’re doing. Furthermore, it is a good idea to take different routes to the bank every day, and to go at different types. A schedule is something that a robber can memorize, and therefore use against you.

View

It is best for your small business to place the cash register near a front window or glass door so that police officers and other passerby can see it from the street or parking lot. This makes thieves feel exposed, and might consequently avoid a robbery. Avoid putting the cash register at the back where it can’t be seen by anyone.

Law Enforcement

It is beneficial for the owner of a small business to build a friendly relationship with the local police department. Give officers discounts so that they will stop by your store frequently, which can also discourage a robbery. You can also order a routine patrol so that law enforcement is constantly on the lookout for potential safety issues.

Lighting

When a criminal feels vulnerable, he or she is unlikely to commit a robbery, so make sure your small business is adequately lighted. Both interior and exterior lights should be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are in working order, and you should make sure employees report outages immediately.

Cash Registers

It is never a good idea to keep large amounts of cash in your cash registers, especially after dark. Empty them out on a regular basis and place the excess in a well-hidden safe so that robbery is discouraged. If you have multiple registers, leave them open when not in use to show that there is a limited amount of cash on hand.

Personal Items

Employee theft is another concern of your small business, and you should take measures to avoid it at all costs so that your employees feel safe at work. Give each member of your staff a locker or area where they can store their personal belongings, such as purses, wallets and clothes. Each locker should have a separate combination.

In Case of a Robbery

If your small business is unable to avoid a robbery, despite all of the above precautions, it is important that you and your staff are trained to deal with a criminal. For example, never look directly at a robber while handing over money because he will be more likely to injure you to keep you from identifying him.

Additionally, money and merchandise should come in second to safety, which means that you should comply with whatever the robber demands. Tell your employees to avoid being a hero or protecting the store because it could cost them their lives. Instead, just hand over whatever is requested with no complaints.

Small business employees should stay silent during a robbery unless they are asked a question by the robber, and they should move slowly and deliberately to avoid the perception of an attack. Furthermore, it isn’t a good idea to try to follow the criminal out of the store to get a description or a license plate number, especially if he is armed.

When all else fails, grab a Lincoln 210 MP MIG welder and weld everything shut!


Turbo Tax Home and Business 2007 in Depth Review

My husband and I own three small businesses in two different states, and I’ve used Turbo Tax Home  amp; Business for over six years and absolutely love it. Our taxes can be a nightmare…there are receipts here and receipts there; money coming in and money going out, and it takes at least two days to gather everything together so I can input the financial records into Turbo Tax. And then, the easy part begins.

Turbo Tax is extremely self-explanatory as the Turbo Tax Home and Business Program asks questions as you click your mouse. It’s very similar to going to a tax counselor, but with Turbo Tax you get to do this in your own home. The questions that Turbo Tax asks are more in depth than going to a face to face meeting. You can also go back and answer the same question again in case you made a mistake or misjudged your deductions. For example, you misjudged your charitable contributions. Just go back into the program and change it with one click. This can be difficult to do if you’re paying a tax counselor for their services. With Turbo Tax, you don’t have to make a phone call to adjust this amount with the tax counselor, and you don’t have to start up your car and go to someone’s office. You can literally do your taxes in your pajamas, at four o’clock in the morning, or outside on your patio while you sit in your shorts and drink iced tea.

 

Turbo Tax also has the advantage that you can work on your taxes for a brief period of time, save them, and then work on them again in your leisure. You don’t have to do your taxes all at one time.

 

With Turbo Tax, you have the option of answering questions via the interview method or entering items directly on the tax forms. Turbo Tax will check your return for errors and also alert you to any kind of audit risks. I recommend the interview method because Turbo Tax asks every question imaginable about your deductions. If I realize that the answer I typed in was wrong after I’ve completed my taxes, this is when I directly type it into the form. It seems to be easier that way.

 

If you’re fortunate enough to have used Turbo Tax last year, Turbo Tax will transfer your personal information from last years return onto this years tax returns so you don’t have to re-enter it again. It will ask if you still own the same business, it will remember your deductions and compare them to this year’s deductions, and it will remember any tax write-offs you were not able to claim last year and add them to this year’s tax form. Turbo Tax will guide you through every imaginable expense.

 

If you own a small business, Turbo Tax will also help you prepare W-2s and 1099-MISC Forms.

 

Turbo Tax also finds the most profitable depreciation method for your business assets. For example, you’ve recently purchased an automobile for business. Is it more profitable to deduct the asset over a five-year depreciation period or is it more advantageous to use the mileage deduction? What depreciation period is allowed for this asset? Turbo Tax will tell you this and also compare both methods for the biggest deduction. This program can save you thousands of dollars just by these comparisions.

 

You also receive one free state download with Turbo Tax Home and Business.

 

After you’ve entered all your information in Turbo Tax, Turbo Tax will do a final review and find any errors or omissions and prompt you to fix them. It will also give you the option to either e-file or send your tax returns in through the mail.

 

As tax laws are sometimes changed after the beginning of the year, Turbo Tax will connect to the Internet and update your program. I usually do my taxes in January, but then do final reviews again in March to make sure that I have all the updated forms and everything is done correctly. All the updates are free and are painlessly and quickly downloaded though the Turbo Tax Software.

 

There’s also a free edition – Turbo Tax Free Edition for the 1040EZ Simple Return. It’s very simple and quick to use. For years, I’ve completed my son’s taxes in less than an hour. You also have the option of the refund directly deposited into your bank account (it takes as little as eight days to receive your refund) or a check in the mail. This free Turbo Tax can be downloaded here or here

I purchased my Turbo Tax Home and Business at Sams Club for $70.87. It’s less expensive at a warehouse store so you might want to give it a try.

I highly recommend Turbo Tax and will continue to use it every year.Turbo Tax Home and Business has also been helpful when there was a death in my family and an estate was involved. I had to file Schedule K because a home was sold at a loss. Turbo Tax remembered this deduction from last year and carried it over to this year, thus helping me not to miss this important deduction. This is an area where I would have needed a face to face meeting with a tax counselor (who understands Schedule K?), but Turbo Tax helped me through it.


Understanding Business: What is a Letter of Intent?

Although it seems to sad to admit it, there are many times in life when we are not able to guarantee the things we say or what we want to do. However, this simply is not acceptable in the business world. With that in mind, one of the most important pieces of paper, and one that has significance even into everyday life is something known as a letter of intent. Even though some aspects of business may be difficult to understand at times, the idea behind the letter of intent, and understanding it is thankfully, both important and fairly simple.

Often, when we think of business agreements, or any legally binding action, we think only of contracts and other such documents. However, this is simply not the case, and an equally important document, that also possesses legally binding characteristics is known as the “Letter of Intent”. Basically, a letter of intent is a signed, documented and witnessed letter that contains evidence of an agreement between two parties. While it may be different from a contract in many ways, there are also many circumstances in which the letter of inent is faster, more convenient, and simply a better choice than a signed contract, which can take long period of time and often comes with far more paperwork and legal foot work.

 

In fact, the letter of intent has become a common element for anyone who has considered making a promise as to what college they would like to attend. If a student commits in a signed letter that he or she would like to attend and is accepting the invitation of a college, than we have evidence of a letter of intent, which is binding. Simply, what this means is that a student cannot agree to go to one college and then pull out and attend another when a better offer comes along.

 

In addition to college, letters of intent have also popped up in broad places across the legal spectrum. Different companies may use these letters to communicate delivery or pick up promises far more quickly and efficiently than a normal contract could be used in the past. A letter of intent may also be used as an intermediate step before an actual deal or agreement takes place. For example, the owner of one business may send a letter of intent wishing to setup up a time and place for initial negotiations of a proposed deal. The letter would also state several other important factors, such as the matter to be negotiated, the parties involved, the possible limits of the deal, and any other relevant information. This, then, insures that the parties are dedicated to their meeting and that the actual deal or agreement will go far more smoothly and efficiently had it been a haphazard or unplanned affair.

 

However, many businesses also make mistakes when it comes to letters of intent. Specifically, many tend to leave them in far too broad or general terms. It is incredibly important to remember that the letter of intent is a legally binding contract, and it should be treated as one regardless. When a company or individual becomes lazy when laying out the basics set forth in the letter, or simply signs away and sends without proper considerations, we can have many of the same problems that we would experience in a contract that has not been properly constructed or properly read and evaluated. For this reason, it is incredibly important that the letter be made as accurate and checked as thoroughly as possible. Poorly written or constructed letters of intent can be a major legal liability, and this is simply one more reason why it is important to make sure they are as accurate, clean, and clear as possible.

 

While he letter of intent definitely may not be the first legally related term we think of when considering binding agreements and other documents, it is quickly becoming an important method of communication and information of intent among concerned parties. However, as useful and convenient as a letter of intent can be, it is also important that the letter of intent is used responsibly and the true meaning and significance (as well as the legally binding nature of the letter) is considered and always kept in mind and respected.


Starbucks Joins Wal-Mart as Businesses Facing Consumer Animosity

An interesting development has been taking place across the business landscape around the country as Starbucks finds itself in the unenviable position of being seen as a corporate titan similar to Wal-Mart and Microsoft. For years, Starbucks has been seen as the best thing to hit a community since sliced bread. But with its continued expansion and some would say oversaturation and impact on community coffee shops, Starbucks has become enemy No. 2 for community activists who want to keep Mom-and-Pop businesses alive, including the independent coffee houses that have long served the communities around them.

Fifteen years ago, Wal-Mart and Sam Walton were seen as consumer-oriented and a friend to all. While their focus has remained, communities have seen the destruction that comes with the entrance of the world’s largest retailer. Without comparison, when Wal-Mart commits to a community, small businesses suffer or are even forced to close up shop because of their inability to compete with Wal-Mart on price and the number of offerings Wal-Mart can put on shelves. In a typical small storefront, the most of any single product a store can put on a shelf is three or four. At Wal-Mart, dozens of choices, with different prices and qualities align the store shelves for the waiting eyes of consumers looking for the best bang for the buck.

 

The inability to compete has enabled Wal-Mart to gobble up chunks of market share in every community that they have entered. Has anyone ever heard of a Wal-Mart closing because store sales were down? It is unheard of because no company can compete with Wal-Mart because of the scale and scope that Sam Walton’s creation brings to the table. That same complex has found its way to Starbucks as the Seattle-based company now finds itself the brunt of community activism. In Memphis, the earliest Starbucks were inside Barnes and Noble restaurants before stand alone operations began to appear in earnest. That was ten years ago. Since that time, Starbucks has exploded with expansion as it has in every major city across the country and globe. This year alone, Starbucks plans to launch 2,500 new stores. That has to come with some consequences as consumers watch the decline of the coffee houses they have visited all of their lives dwindle in the face of the Starbucks effect.

 

Which is why web sites such as Ihatestarbucks.com are creeping up on the Internet in large scale. On the anti-Starbucks site you can find a list, state-by-state of where you can go get good coffee instead of Starbucks. While Starbucks continues to make Fortune’s list of the Twenty Most Admired Companies, that admiration is fleeting as droves of baristas jump ship to less corporate coffee houses like High Point Coffee and other startup coffee spaces. Beyond the baristas, the communities have become anti-Starbucks as well. Many have heard of the litigation Wal-Mart faces in some communities when it tries to enter it with a new superstore. For the first time, Starbucks is feeling that same pain.

 

With the CEO of Starbucks recently talking about the commodization of coffee and the Starbucks brand in a memo the ardent voice of displeasure has been heard in the coffeebean bought offices of the world’s largest coffee retailer. Beyond simple saturation and brand-weariness, communities take a great deal of pride in their local businesses, even when Starbucks sells better coffee, with more choices than their neighborhood business. If they could both survive and thrive in the face of each other, the backlash against Starbucks would certainly die down. But seeing that the death of one is an obvious inevitability communities have taken up the cause of the underdog, the little man; as they rightfully should. It could be one of them.


How to Name Your Business

When it comes to naming your business, be it a website, a brick-and-mortar storefront, a firm or a multinational, the right name choice can make a difference in your success. The name is the “first impression” you make on your customers. It has to strike like lighting with the best intended effect, or all your work may be for naught.

Therefore it doesn’t pay to take your business name lightly. Even the most whimsical-sounding business names are often carefully-selected. Instead of a “Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream”, you might wind up with a “Hank’s Lingerie”. Keep the following factors in mind when selecting your business name.

 

A good business name should…

 

Be Original

 

It goes without saying that the name cannot already belong to another business. But more than this, if your business is “The Happy Sun Company”, take care that customers can find you when searching online; and not the hundred other businesses scattered across five continents, and thousand other products and services that share this name.

 

Be Easy to Spell and Remember

 

Do yourself a favor and make the name recognizable, and one which you will not have to spell for your customers. Otherwise you’ll be explaining it ten times a day, and you’ll soon wish you had that time to do something else. If it takes ten seconds to explain your name, six times a day, that’s a minute a day, and over one day a year you take just to explain your company name to customers.

 

Yes, misspelling Truck Repair as Trux Repairs might earn you a top spot in the search engines, but you will get tired of spelling your business name in about a week.

 

Be SEO-Friendly

 

The ideal business name of course would have a search engine search result page all to itself. This is unlikely. But you can sometimes find combinations of words that would give your site first rank in a search. Instead of Café, or even Jay’s Café, you might try an unrelated name, like “Fencepost Café”. When a customer searches for your business online, they can see it right at the top of the results.

 

Fulfill a Trademark Search

 

No DBA (Doing Business As) registration can be allowed prior to a government trademark search. Yes, your construction contracting business is called Ace Contractors, inc, and you’re the only one in the city. Yes, there are probably a hundred others just like it in other cities. However the first one who registers his or her trademark to that name, is the only one legally able to use it – and can then possibly litigate against others who use it commercially, if they deem your business to affect their bottom line.

 

Trademark registration can take many months; in the meantime, your company can display the ® mark on your name, which means Registered. This will keep any other company from using the brand you have pending.

 

It should be noted that your trademark must be registered in any country you intend to do business in. One country at a time. Many people see your successful business and squat on your overseas trademark in hopes of making a “sale”. That’s “business”.

 

Represent the USP of Your Business

 

Your business name should reflect the special service or quality that distinguishes your company from the competition – the USP, or Unique Selling Proposition. Are you the cheapest? Fastest? Most adaptable? Say so with your business name.

 

Capture the Tone or Feeling of Your Business

 

Cute? Serious? Corporate? Family-Owned? Community-Centered? As Steve Martin once opined, nobody will put their money into “Fred’s Bank”! Yes, you might call your dogwalking service “Alice’s Dog Walking Service”. Or you might take it a step further from the Name/Type cliché and capture a feeling, such as “Puppy Walkies and Frisbee Service”. You get the idea. The whimsical name reflects the right kind of personality people would entrust their dog’s daily welfare to – a happy and energetic person.

 

Avoid Clichés

 

Common cliches probably include the first things that come to your mind when naming a business. Healthy Home Care, Clean Car Wash, Cheap Web Host, etc. Fill a page with ideas, then tear it up and throw it away. Your naming enterprise begins on page two.

 

Avoid Bluster

 

Ok, you sell your homemade cookies and baked goods on the internet, but is it fair to call your business “Nibbles Conglomerated International Company”? You partner with a web designer in Sydney, is it accurate to call your company “Trans-Pacific Advertising”? The best way to name your business is to more accurately describe what it is your business does, and who, in fact, it serves. If it’s a choice between a difficult original name, and a generic accurate one, choose a generic accurate one. “Bright Cove Carpet Cleaning”, though less imaginative, will win more new customers than “Custom Warp  amp; Weave”.

 

Have Credibility – For Your Niche

 

Finally, your name must reflect your own credibility and reliability, as an established business that will be here tomorrow. The name should adhere to the standards of the business niche in which you operate. A hair salon might have a creative name, while an investment agency might promote conservative values. There are even name generators on the internet to help you come up with creative new words for your business!

 

Put some thought into the naming of your business – if you find it too challenging, get yourself a professional copywriter or branding agency to help you. Your business name operates in conjunction with your business image, brand, niche, USP, and web presence, all functioning together like a perpetual-motion machine. Your business, like you, has a special place in the universe, that might be imitated but never duplicated.


Marketing 101: Developing a Core Message

When it comes to communicating to consumers, your core message is the one thing that has the ability to set you apart from your competitors. On a business landscape that is filled with businesses whose products and services are similar, the business that is best able to communicate how it is different from the other players in the marketplace will position itself for continued growth in a sector where every business is not able to succeed. The method through which a business communicates its differences is through its core message. A business’s core message allows it to quickly communicate what separates it from its peers and competitors.

The process for developing a core message begins with the belief that the market values the difference. If the market does not value the difference the marketing campaign and core message will fall upon deaf ears. There are three aspects from which a business can separate itself: product, service, or market niche.

 

When it comes to the core message, a business must remember that its customers always know best. Gathering information from them will help you uncover what it is about your business, industry, and competition from the people you value most. Finding out why they hired you and what separated you from your competitors is good information to know. You should also find out some perceptions they have of your industry and ways you can bring value to them.

 

It should be noted that your competition can also clue you in on some very valuable information. What are they offering that you have ignored? Are there some obvious differences between you and them? In your competitors you will be able to see buying patterns that may be different from yours. Their client base may be more mature than yours and therefore more consistent. They may have departed from their focus on one thing in order to fully invest themselves in something else. All that information is valuable for you in crafting your message to consumers.

 

When you begin to craft your core message take time to discover what you really sell. There is a perception in the minds of consumers of what they expect to get in their purchases. This perception has value. The core message is not for your clients. The message is based on information that is valuable to you. It is the basis for all your marketing and consumer service activity. It also will help you filter every marketing decision that you make. The primary motivating factor for some businesses is competition or beating an enemy. A great way to press the envelope is to identify and focus on beating something or someone or creating and communicating a reason for being that trumps competition.

 

When it comes to your message, that one sentence that conveys so much to potential customers a variant of the talking logo could be employed. The talking logo is a communications technique used to market a very specific point to consumers. Imagine someone asking you what you did for a living. Most of us would answer that question based on a title or short job description. When it comes to your customers, that information is useless. What they want to know is what you do to bring value to someone else. Your core message should communicate the latter not the former.

 

A core message can be broken down into two parts or steps. The first step is the message itself. It is typically one sentence long and no more than ten words or so. It is quick and to the point. At the same time, its power is evident and it grabs the attention of whoever hears it. A core message could be something as simple as: I equip men and women to live life to the fullest. The core message has three sections to it. They are the action verb which stages the message, the target market, and then the how-to at the end. Take a look at this core message: I teach entrepreneurs to manage their business better. For companies, their core message could be: We partner with small businesses to make their businesses grow.

 

Now upon hearing any of those core messages the potential customer is going to be unable to simply walk away. The goal is to get them to ask how you fulfill your message. That opens the door for part or step two in the core message process and that is a short to the point answer that conveys how you do what you just said. For the life coach who was the first message above he may have said: By creating practical tools and hosting motivational events I am able to give people the nuts and bolts needed to build the life they always dreamed.

 

The core message has tremendous potential if used properly. What has happened is small business owners have been so consumed with running or maintaining their business they have been unable to focus on value-driven actions such as developing a core message. By taking the time and putting the work in to craft a core message that hits home to your consumers you will have an easier time converting them because they will buy-in based on your core message alone.

 

Your strategy for growing your business will be based largely on your ability to communicate what you do that separates you from every Tom, Dick, and Harry business operating today. Your core message is a quick, simple way of telling consumers not only are you different but if that you do business with their success in mind. And that message will always be heard.