Tips for Choosing A Legitimate Home Based Business Opportunity

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to work from home, a home-based business opportunity can be a great option. Business opportunities provide you with a turnkey system and support so that you can be in business “for yourself, not by yourself”.

Unfortunately, a multitude of unscrupulous companies have cropped up on the internet over the past several years, making the search for a legitimate home based business a bit of a challenge. The good news is that there are legitimate and profitable home based business opportunities out there and if you’re able to identify certain “red flags”, it won’t be that difficult to eliminate the “scams” and spot the opportunity that’s right for you:

Red Flag #1: You visit a business opportunity website and there are pages of copy promising financial freedom and personal wealth but it doesn’t tell you anything about what the company does. If a company doesn’t clearly state their product and/or service, be wary.

Red Flag #2: The company website states that you’ll make unrealistic amounts of money, with minimal effort, in a very short period of time. This is simply not true. Businesses take time to grow. If any business opportunity website promises that you’ll be a millionaire in 3 months or less, ask yourself, “If there was a way to get rich overnight, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?”

Red Flag #3: While there may be several testimonials of successful business owners listed on a business opportunity’s website, you still need to ask for references and contact them by phone or e-mail. And, if a company isn’t willing to provide references, they’re not legit.

Red Flag #4: Once you’ve found a business that interests you, request additional information. If the company asks you to provide a credit card number or to pay a fee-no matter how small-it’s a scam.

Red Flag #5: Ask how your business will make money. If your ability to make money relies on you recruiting other people to sell a product or service, the company is most likely a multi-level marketing business and, in most cases, the only people who make legitimate money with MLM’s are the people at the top!

Finally, keep in mind that when you do find a business opportunity that feels like the right fit for you, don’t fall in love too quickly. Take the time to research your market for competition to be sure that your area isn’t saturated with a similar product or service. And most importantly, make sure that the business capitalizes on your strengths and talents and allows you to do something you love each day. It’s a well-known fact that entrepreneurs who love what they do are much more likely to succeed!

Business And Advertising Are Connected In Many Ways

We all as business owners want to have more and more customers in our contacts for encountering a huge profit in exchange of the services and products offered by us. But not all customers come to the business just by wandering around, they have to be called and attracted by the products. This is when advertising plays its role by making sure that the product reaches the hands of the person who needs it.

Advertising is the marketing communication that is used for the promotion and selling of a product or service that is offered by a business. Many people access Fresno advertising to accomplish varied goals and companies use these ads in diverse media for their benefit through many means. In case of a new product launch, it can serve as the pathway towards a larger market, making more and more people aware of the product. The advertisement should be focused on a common problem encountered by people and how your product or service serves as a solution to that particular problem.

One can use this effective means to inform the market about the product and illustrate how the product looks like. Commercial ads seek to generate increased consumption of their product or service by showing the pros inherited with it. Fresno advertising is frequently used for the purpose to show the dramatic product breakthroughs by aggressively highlighting their products. Virtually any medium can be used for the purpose of advertisement and the choice of medium is based basically on the type of product, target audience, popularity of the medium and etc.

The market is analyzed by the advertising agency to understand whether the product or service offered is fit and has all the credentials that will help it to stand in the competition. Customers will never get to know about the product if there is no promotion and advertisement, he/she will not include the product in the decision making process due to this advertising can be both powerful and magical, selling the dreams to the people of the society. The economy also prospers with advertising and allows the people to be aware of the several choices present as well as available to them.

In present market scenario, advertising is crucial and is needed to invite more and more people to use the product in order to quench their thirst. It works as a guide book telling what to buy and what not.

7 Small Business Tax Deductions That You Don’t Want To Miss

Are you neglecting to deduct business expenses on your tax return?

You could be leaving money on the table. Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or just setting up shop, you can save thousands of dollars in tax deductions. So which expenses qualify? To receive a tax deduction, business expenses must be necessary and typical for the type of business you run.

There are exceptions to the rule. You can’t write off speeding or parking tickets. But don’t let this stop you from saving serious money on your tax return. Place those dollar bills back into your wallet by adding these commonly overlooked business expenses to the list.

1. Costs to Keep Your Business Running

As you maintain your business, you’re bound to purchase office supplies and advertising. But did you know that you can also write off equipment repair, business calls, and office furniture payments?

There are limits though.

  • If your business goes under, you can’t deduct costs for exploring a business opportunity. But you can deduct costs for products, materials, and supplies in your inventory.
  • You also can’t completely deduct costs from starting your business. Instead, you can deduct up to $5,000 the first year and write off any remaining startup costs periodically over the course of 15 years.
  • Every cent you invest into your business is referred to as either a capital expense or a current expense.

Capital expenses are your business asset purchases, long-lasting equipment that will continually improve your business in subsequent years. Because capital expenses normally don’t wear out after the first year, these expenses are depreciated and deducted over a period of time.

Current expenses are charges for equipment or services used every day to maintain a profitable business. They’re normally used up in the first year, so you can deduct the total cost of current expenses on your tax return.

  • Repairs that add value to equipment, prolong the lifespan, or adapt an item to a different use can be deducted on your tax return.
  • Advertising fees to create promotional materials like business cards and print, radio, yellow pages, and banner advertisements are completely deductible.
  • If you regularly use the phone to call clients or customers, you can deduct charges relevant to your business.

Be forewarned though: if you try to mask personal purchases by claiming them as business expenses, you might be in deep waters when your tax return triggers an audit.

2. Home Office Fees and Rent

Do you work from home? Deduct a portion of rent, insurance, and utility payments if you have an office that is dedicated to business.

There is one drawback. Your office has to be exclusively for business use.

It’s fine to work in your slippers, but you can’t take a home office deduction if your bed is in the room unless your office is sectioned off. You also can’t let your children play Legos in your workspace. And you most certainly can’t watch TV in your office during downtime.If you do, your office won’t be considered exclusively for business.

You also have to use your office consistently to take advantage of the home office deduction. Feel free to call clients, bill customers, take notes, set appointments, meet with clients, order materials, or write reports in your office. But an office that you only use occasionally doesn’t count.

There are exceptions to the rule. If you run a daycare business or you have a room set up for inventory storage, you can still take the deduction even if the room isn’t used 100% for business.

3. Auto Payments

Did you know that you can deduct the cost of gas consumed while driving to and from client meetings?

Whether you own a real estate business, regularly meet with clients, or rent an office away from home, you can save hundreds of dollars on your tax return.

Use your car for business? You can calculate your deduction one of two ways.

  • Deduct based on the standard mileage rate. If your regular business routine requires that you constantly be on the road, you might be able to save more by deducting a certain amount of money after every mile driven, along with toll and parking costs.
  • Deduct actual expenses. If you occasionally meet with clients or your car consumes more gas than average, you can save a great deal more by deducting a portion of expenses for gas, replacement tires, oil changes, insurance, and car registration.

Always keep an organized record of your car usage, and filing your federal and state income taxes will be as simple as doing a few math calculations.

4. Travel and Entertainment Costs

Do you remember that vacation deal you purchased right before your last business trip?

Write off a portion of your plane fare, depending on how you spent your vacation. Part of your transportation costs is qualified as a deduction if over half of your trip was spent on business. The more time you devoted to your business, the higher the deduction.

Needed to pay for clean clothes while you were away? You can deduct laundry and dry cleaning expenses. You can also deduct commuting costs, lodging fees, tips, fax charges, and costs to ship product samples and display materials.

Moreover, if you’ve ever hosted an event for your business at your office, restaurant, or another location, you can deduct entertainment expenses that helped promote business growth or well-being. Keep in mind that only 50% of meals are deductible.

You can even deduct moving costs if you had to relocate your home because of work. If the move wasn’t directly related to your business though, you can’t claim the deduction.

5. Educational Materials and Professional Fees

Have you purchased a book to learn a skill that would directly impact your business? How about that copywriter you hired to craft a sales page that would later transform a product launch into a massive success?

Business-related books, legal fees, and professional services are all fully deductible on your tax return.

You’re not just limited to books and independent contractors though. If you pay an accountant or purchase a tax program every year, you can deduct tax preparation fees.

Own a business with hired staff? You can reduce taxes by deducting salaries, bonuses, and fringe benefits like health insurance and sick leave.

6. Bad Debts

If you sell your own services, you’ve likely stumbled across an occasional troublesome client. Your client might refuse to pay you for work performed, lowering your profit margin for the month. Maybe you’ve even loaned money to customers or suppliers, but the loan was never paid off.

Luckily, this income loss is completely deductible as long as you provide written documentation stating the amount of the debt, interest rate if applicable, and the steps you took to collect the debt. If you can prove that you’ve made several attempts to receive payment and the debt is impossible to collect, you can write it off on your tax return.

Save your hard-earned cash at the end of the year by keeping a detailed record of business-related purchases and activities. You can use financial software to help with this, but simply opening an excel spreadsheet to jot down expenses as they pop up works as well.

Separate payments into clearly marked categories and you’ll save both time and money the next time you file taxes.

7. The Hummer Deduction

Has your business purchased a car or a large machine recently? This can be converted into a large tax benefit using “The Hummer Deduction”, also know as section 179 of the tax code. Learn More

Disclaimer: You should consult with your tax advisor before following any of the ideas in this article. This article is a starting point for discussion with your advisor. I am not a tax professional and while I believe that what is contained in this article is generally true, it may not be true in your particular case.

How to Become a Better Marketer & Tips For Your Business Startup

You just launched your business. You make all the operations, finance, and marketing decisions. But how well do you really know your market? Are you doing everything you can to maximize ROI from your campaigns? Many people think they know their market all too well, unfortunately, that is not the case. In this post, I will discuss the various steps you should consider to better understand your market and hopefully maximize your return. The biggest pitfall is lack of planning because people don’t take the time to layout a map of what they need to do. That is why I’ve developed an outline for you to consider when planning for your own business.

Step 1 – Know Your Environment

The first thing you should do is prepare a situation analysis. You should firstly start by looking at past business and marketing plans. The whole point to this step is to analyze your environment. This includes identifying competitors, the various macroeconomic factors that impact your environment and the various driving forces behind these changes. Typically, the driving forces affect legal, technological, and market related factors, so you should be aware of how these changes will affect your environment and hence ability to sell. The next step is for you to prepare a SWOT analysis of your own company. This is an effective tool to analyze your company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, and your external opportunities and threats you could face. One of the most important parts is to consider your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses since that will ultimately help you identify your own competitive advantages.

Step 2 – Objectives

After you understand your environment, your next step should be to formulate your objectives. Your objectives should be unambiguous and very specific. Each objective should cover three broad aspects: What are you trying to accomplish, what and how much do you need to get there, and a specific time frame. Essentially, this ensures your objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time bound). An example would be: Increase online sales by 25% by the end of Q1 09. Knowing your objectives means knowing exactly what you want to do.

Step 3 – E-marketing Planning

After you’ve established where your company is and where it should be going, you must prepare the strategic planning process that will outline how your company will get to where you want it to be, that is, to accomplish your goals. You should then conduct a Market Opportunity analysis which includes demand and supply analyses for segmenting and targeting. The demand analysis evaluates the potential profitability and sustainability of potential market segments. The segment analysis should draw conclusions about the characteristics about your target market, including the demographics, psychographics, and past behavior of consumers with similar products. By doing the Segment analysis, you can determine the level of demand for your product or service and you can better anticipate behavior. You can also tailor your product to conform to your target markets needs you have identified. The next thing you should do is consider how you’re going to differentiate your offerings and how you plan to position your product, services, and brand against your competitors in the target market.

Step 4 – Marketing strategy

The next step is for you to develop strategies regarding the 4Ps. You should outline specific plans regarding your product offering, your value proposition (price), how you’re going to distribute your offering (place), and how you’re going to effectively promote it. One of the most important parts to this step is your value proposition. You must consider the margins you think are fair by deciding how much you are going to charge, and you should also have done some simple financial calculations such as breakeven points, NPV, and IRR so you have a better idea of what price to charge. By taking the time to plan, you can better forecast future cash flows and mitigate capital shortages and also even determine if your goals are realistic. You should charge a price as close to the industry equilibrium or try to differentiate your price based on value added.

Step 5 – Budget

This is one of the most important parts in your marketing plan. Here you should try to forecast the revenue in units and dollars you will receive from each of your revenue streams. Also, don’t forget to consider intangible benefits as they count as well. It is important to be reasonably conservative (especially forecasting near your launch or at the first level of your product cycle) because most of the time revenue is materially less of what was first expected. You should also carefully consider your expenses, including marketing, operating, administrative, technology and other expenses. Expenses are also usually more than you first anticipate, so plan accordingly. You should then calculate the return on investment (ROI) and the internal rate of return. These results will tell you if what your doing has potential and if you should pursue your business idea. Just remember, not all businesses are initially profitable, it may take some time, just ensure you have the required capital to be successful over time.

Step 6 – Implementation

This step is all about what you’re going to do to accomplish your objectives. There are a variety of marketing mediums, including online marketing, direct marketing, website advertising partnerships, etc. There are endless possibilities to begin implementing your plans and to promote your products/services; you just need to choose what’s best for your offerings based on price, value, and simply what’s appropriate.

Step 7 – Feedback

Feedback is extremely important. You should implement various performance metrics to help you evaluate your progress. You can do this effectively by developing a Balance Scorecard with all four dimensions, including the Customer, Internal Financial, and the Innovative/Learning dimensions. For each dimension, you should come up with a goal, and how you can measure that goal. Here are two examples.

Financial Perspective:

Goal: Lower customer acquisition costs. Measure: promotion costs/number of customers

Internal:

Goal: Improve tech support. Measure: Time to complete calls, number of satisfied callers.

Side Note: If you have a website, it is important to ensure your website becomes noticeable online. You should ensure you optimize your content for search engines (SEO). You can do this by making SEO friendly URLs (the long ones that describe your title/date). You should also note search engines analyze the number of times keywords appear within pages. Search engines also consider the number of high ranking websites that link to your site, so try to partner up! Why is SEO important? Because it drives traffic which can convert into sales. A good page rank can also keep prospects away from your competitors.