Archive for the ‘Home business’ Category

To Pinterest or Not to Pinterest

There’s no doubt about it — interest in Pinterest is on the rise. You’ll see it mentioned all over Facebook and you’re likely to stumble across “pins” from people on message boards. But does it make sense for YOU to take up your pins and start a Pinterest page for your small business?

Maybe. Pinterest already has over five million members, so it’s attractive to people who are working from home or who are starting a small business. But — if you “pin” it, will they come? The answer is “maybe.”

Pinterest is a very visual site — if you’re a writer, you may be out of luck unless you like to hunt down and pin pictures of funny sayings and cute animals or awesome landscape. Photos of interesting (or vintage) clothing seem popular, so people who also use Craigslist to sell vintage garments can use Pinterest to their advantage. Artists and crafters also post pictures of items that they have ready to sell (in, say, their Etsy store) tend to get a lot of visitors. But be aware that a single picture isn’t going to get hordes clicking madly at the link to buy the product — it helps to include a detailed description, along with the price.

Already have a Pinterest account? Want a few more eyeballs roaming past your page? Two working strategies are to repin other posts and to make sure you consistently pin up news about your interests. If you have time and the technology, think about creating a video tutorial that tells people about your home business or comments about something interesting relating to your page. Video is not that common on Pinterest, so you can set yourself apart from others by adding things for them to watch.

Happy pinning!

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Avoiding the Dreaded Business Slump

SyskittyGuest editorial by Patricia Snodgrass

My father, stone mason by trade, didn’t turn his construction business into a fortune 500 company, and chances are you probably won’t either. However, like him, you can still grow a very successful business, if you avoid these five problems that plague nearly every company at some point.

Pitfall #1. Poor time management

If you wish to be successful, whether it being in the business of writing or the business of constructing high rises, then you must plan your business accordingly.   Create a sane, workable plan and stick with it. Generate a list of reasonable reachable goals, then implement them.  A daily goal sheet is helpful in breaking down larger tasks into smaller manageable chunks.

Pitfall #2. Inadequate marketing

One of the basic principles of capitalism states that successful companies are growing companies.  Therefore, good advertising is essential in order to let people know who you are, what your product is and how to find you. Traditional promotions such as television and radio and are good, but you can also reach a greater audience online by advertising on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as creating online shops that will give your business a chance to grow in a number of areas. And best of all, social media is free, and it’s everywhere.

Pitfall #3. Hiring before you’re ready

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of opening your first business and then hiring before you are ready. Training, bonding (if handling large sums of money) preparing taxes, scheduling, unemployment benefits and insurance must all be considered before hiring someone. Make a plan early on to handle all of these considerations before hanging out that help wanted sign.

Pitfall #4.  Babying your business

We often treat our burgeoning companies like adoring parents. The problem with this is that child prodigies are only brilliant to their doting parents.  In reality, they’re just another kid on the block.


The best way to avoid this pitfall is to get an annual business valuation report from a professional agency.  A valuation report wipes away any glimmer of false hope about your child star and forces you to see things as they are, warts and all.  A valuation will show you exactly where the flaws lie in your business, and from there you will be able to correct them.

Pitfall#5. So much overhead, so little profit.

You can reduce your overhead by following a few simple rules.  You can buy used and recycled office supplies, or recycle what you already have. Develop a co-op with neighboring businesses in order to share advertising and marketing strategies. And most of all, utilize those tax deductions to your advantage.  Your local IRS agent will be more than happy to show you how.



Mark Bowser has a nice little article on discipline (which works well for the home entrepreneur) here: has a good article on surviving business slumps and hard times

Over at, this book had a lot of good reviews from people over 50 — Best home Businesses for People Over 50




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Do Your Business Blog Posts Have Long Enough Tails?

guest post by my friend, author Patricia Snodgrass

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What Do Long Tail Keywords Mean?

What is a long tail keyword?  Do you pick one up at the rescue shelter? Does it require a cat box, food, water, regular grooming? Does your new long tail keyword require spaying or neutering?


The answer is of course, none of the above.  Simply stated, a long tail keyword is a string of specific key words designed to bring better quality hits to your webpage.  Long tail keywords are designed to help searchers find your site quicker and easier.


The average keyword could get lots of hits to your website, but that isn’t going to do you any good if those hits are unproductive. When someone uses a long tail keyword, they are able to find your site because you have what the searcher is looking for. You may not get as many hits with long term keywords, as you would with the average garden variety keyword, but what you will get is people who will be more interested in what you have to say, or in what you are trying to sell.


Lets say you’re looking for a book on how to use keywords more efficiently, but you are as clueless as I am when it comes to talking about adwords, rankings and SERPS. So, you go to to find a book that’s easy to understand, but once you type in keyword  in their books menu, you get far too many hits. You have neither time nor energy to pick through all the books to find the one you want. How do you find the book you’re looking for?


If you were to type in, easy to understand book keywords ad words, you will find the book you’re searching for quickly.  For example, I typed in easy to understand keywords and the Book For Dummies was the top hit. Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes


In order for your article to receive a high ranking on SERPS, you need to create long tail keywords to sprinkle into your article, so the search engine can “see” you. For example, you are writing an article about bearded irises, but you wish to write about specific irises, like purple bearded irises.  You would sprinkle the long tail keywords ‘purple bearded irises’ into your article along with any other long tail keywords you would like to use.  However, you don’t want to overdo it, otherwise your article will sound weird.  The author must never dilute the quality of their work by adding too many keywords, be they long or small.


Drawing a blank? Try the free keyword tool, Ubersuggest


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Social media — have someone else do it for you?

Syskitty simple internet

(c) Mel. White

With the advent of sites like (where people post about jobs they’ll be willing to do for a paltry sum — often $5.00), many people have taken the plunge and hired others to do some simple stuff — like making Tweets and so forth.


It sounds like a great idea for the overworked microentrepreneur — who’s sometimes working more than one regular job AND trying to get a small home business off the ground — doesn’t it?  The answer is, “probably not.”


And that’s a darn shame, too, because a lot of time folks need some sort of virtual assistant for their business (stay at home moms often need a bit of extra help with their businesses, what with juggling kids and households and everything else and THEN trying to produce a bit of income on top of it.)  While there are virtual assistants out there, the sad fact is that anyone competent is beyond the reach (price-wise) of people with start-up home businesses.


But it can also be a mistake for others as well.  I’ve seen several reports about a  certain marketing Guru who recently sent his subscribers his newsletter where he talks about how careful you have to be if you outsource your social media to someone else.   One of the blogs was a commentary on an exchange between blogger and Guru which consisted of the blogger sending along some material and getting an answer — not from the Guru, but from the Guru’s “director of marketing” who explained that the Guru was “traveling” and therefore the Marketing director (who turned out to know nothing about how Guru handled business) was answering the emails.


Another person who had a similar exchange said they also felt miffed that their message (which had always had a personal response from Guru in the past) suddenly was shuffled to the “let the hireling handle it.”


Should this stop you from compensating your best buddy to help promote something with a few tweets or some comments?  No.  Should it stop you from hiring a part-time virtual assistant if you can afford one?  No.  But when you do, you need to announce to the world that this is a part of your new team and carefully consider what role they’ll have, because they do represent your credibility and your image to the rest of the world.

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I Need A Plan? For A Home Business?

SyskittyIn a word, yes.


When most people start a small business or any sort of work from home, they generally leap right into things and after about three weeks start to wonder, “why isn’t this working?”  If they’re running a “business in a box” or some sort of website or program that they’ve purchased (guaranteed to make you a thousand bucks a week, working from home, on your very own computer, while you sleep or go shopping) they often abandon it as a failed dream and run around looking for something else that’s going to “make it happen” any second now.

Some of these home business ideas are salvageable

What’s needed is a little planning.  There are a number of business templates around for businesses (I’ll link some at the bottom) that you can use as a checklist to make sure you’ve got the bases covered.  But there are several questions you need to ask yourself right now.  If you can’t answer them, you’re probably not headed in the right direction

  1.  What’s this business all about, anyway?  (it should be one thing, not ten.  If it’s ten things (I’m guilty of this) divide the lot into ten micro businesses and start answering for one.  Then go to the next one)
  2.  Who’s your ideal customer? (are they male?  female?  both?  kids?  adults?  English speaking?  Working poor?  Middle class?  Wealthy?  How do you think they find your products?)
  3. Where do these ideal customers hang out online and offline?  What do they read or listen to?
  4.  How much competition is out there?
  5. What makes you different from the competition?
  6. What’s your income goal for the next 12 months (be realistic, and lowball it.)
  7. How many dollars per day will you need to make to meet that goal?


Some recommended business plan templates

  • SBA has a GREAT site (including thoughts about your market) here
  • SCORE has some business plan templates that are pretty long but ideal if you’re determined to turn a business around.
  • Microsoft has something similar for download into Word.

But what if you don’t know where to start?

Check out some of the business plan templates at Bplans. also has business plans for many of their sections, like this guide to starting an arts and crafts business.


Niche Business with staying potential — tutorial websites

We all like learning new things, and in this particular business environment where people are looking for small home business ideas that will generate income, one of the untapped resources is the tutorial website. From crafts to math to … just about anything you can think of, there’s someone out there interested in what you have to teach — and this goes double if you happen to have “mad skillz” in certain kinds of programs (like Photoshop, Excel, Gimp, and others.)  I would, however, advise you to NOT make a tutorial involving an MLM product or “how to start in business” — there’s a lot of those out there and you’ll struggle to be seen.

So — you’ve got a glimmer of an idea and you think you might like to start into business as an entrepreneur with a tutorial site.  But before you go racing off to build your tutorial website on tinsmithing (one of my interests, actually), there are several things you need to take into consideration.

Starting Up A Tutorial Website For Fun And Profit

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad Financial Times And Entrepreneurship

SyskittyAccording to the University of Maryland, small businesses are beginning feel that they are healthy enough to the point where they’re considering hiring more people.  Some of the more chirpy spins on this article say that it could mean up to 3.8 million new jobs this year and reduce unemployment by over 2%.  That would be lovely for the ones out job hunting who haven’t given up — though the pay scale is likely to be low.  In this economy, many people (like the history teacher who was waiting tables at the restaurant where we ate last night) are ready to work at almost any job that gives them some sort of income.  I’ve seen some self-announced Internet business experts say that this means this year is the perfect time to start a small home business — perhaps by becoming an affiliate or joining MLM.


It sounds lovely.  Makes you want to run out and start a small business, right?


The problem with this logic is that what the news reports mean by “small business” and what most of us think of as “small business” are as different as cats and cows.  To the newspaper or researcher, a small business is something like your little local restaurant.  It has a business address, a business license, pays business taxes, and has employees.  To the rest of us, a home business also is a “small business.”


And therein lies a big problem.  The way you handle a small business is different than the way you handle a home business.


Although I’d love to have six employees here helping me with my writing and art and internet things, the truth is that I can’t pay them.  Lesley (MaaMaw) got to the point where she was able to hire typists for her medical transcription business, but that took several years.  A “small business” (as opposed to a microbusiness or home business) can go to a bank and ask for a business loan.  If I toddle up there and try to apply for one, I’m going to be laughed out of the bank — but only after I get offered a “personal loan.”


The article is right in one way — there’s a lot of people doing small things on the side to try and get through the bad financial times and there will be a lot of these tiny entrepreneurial jobs created to help support families.  I’m not sure what the success rate is on these things (entrepreneurs, as we’ve all found out, often lie about how well they’re doing) but I’d be willing to bet that it’s pretty small.


Most of the time, the problem lies in “you want a business but you don’t have a plan.”  So I’m going to blog about plans and so forth — and if you haven’t gone to the Friends In Business site and read MCA Hogarth’s article about mindset and business , you really should do that.  Meanwhile, I’ll be blogging about setting up a business over the next few weeks (along with websites and other goodies) to help folks who are getting started working from home in a small business figure out where to start and how to start and what to do.

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