Business Planning – Short Term, Medium Term and Long Term Goals

As the owner or executive of a business, you have business goals. You have your 5-year goals or your long-term goals, and then there are steps along the way to reach those goals: medium-term goals and short-term goals.

If you were a retailer you might have the following goals:

Short term: sell a certain amount each sunny day, a certain amount each rainy day, a certain amount each holiday, weekend and weekday.

Medium term: Identify your best suppliers. Establish relationships with the most efficient, timely, reliable and innovative suppliers. Attract a higher number of baby boomers than your competition.

Long term: Continue to create innovations in the marketplace that can set you apart from your competition, such as innovative loyalty programs or bleeding edge point-of-purchase technology.

In business planning and business performance management, key performance indicators (KPIs) are fundamental to knowing where you are in your path towards a certain goal.

This is what Wikipedia says about KPIs:


A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) is a measure of performance. Such measures are commonly used to help an organization define and evaluate how successful it is, typically in terms of making progress towards its long-term organizational goals. KPIs can be specified by answering the question, “What is really important to different stakeholders?”

Wikipedia mentions long-term, but that misses out on important short-term and medium-term goals which I’ll explain shortly. The other key term here is “stakeholders.”

Each goal, whether short-term or long-term, has different stakeholders.

If you have daily retail sales goals, then a store manager has to have access to data that shows him or her in real time what’s going on in the store.

If you have quarterly or yearly goals vis-a-vís your suppliers and different customer segments, then an operations person or sales director needs access to information that shows how you’re doing along these paths.

If you have long-term plans to create innovative solutions and become a market leader, then the CEO or owner needs access to key data to know how you’re doing against these plans.

Different time-frames, different stakeholders, different goals, different KPIs.

What tools are available to help you along the path?

David Abdo wrote a post entitled “Business Intelligence Software: Who Is It Really For?” where he argued for the democratization of business intelligence software across the enterprise.

The existence of a multi-tiered goal structure as illustrated above implies the requirement of a company to implement a business intelligence tool that’s accessible to all people within the company.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

The Home Based Business Explosion Is Upon Us!

INTRODUCTION

Perhaps I should start by asking the question “What is a Home Based Business? This is any business operated from the comfort of the residential home of the owner.

The next question is who is a Home Based Business owner? This refers to an Entrepreneur who decides to run his business from the comfort of his home.

I decided to clarify these terms because there is a huge difference between a Home Based Business owner and a Home worker who might be working with a government/private organization but decides to be working from home once or twice during the week.

Evolution of Home based Business

Many businesses operated from home usually start as a Micro or Small Enterprise. Some eventually metamorphose into Medium Scale Enterprise and others eventually grow into quite large companies.

The desire by Entrepreneurs to start operating businesses from home actually started in the 1980s. During this period, a lot of things combined to precipitate this massive desire by people to own Home based businesses.

In the main, the combination of many factors like socio- economic change, improved technology and new management thinking resulted in the loss of otherwise permanent paid employment and this encouraged people to attempt to revalidate their freedom by opting to set up a business at home.

The advent of new management thinking and theories like downsizing to make an organization Lean and more agile and efficient created fears in the mind of the average worker

So mass lay- offs helped create the right environment for some workers to go it alone and set up a Home based business.

The period of late 1990 to 2010 can be appropriately described as the period of massive explosion in the establishment of businesses at home. The use of Computer, Internet and Mobile Technology helped in the growth of this idea.

I strongly believe the idea of setting up business at home will continue to be positive and will remain so for a long time.

The continued upsurge in the desire of people to own businesses has attracted the attention of Universities and other higher institutions. They have responded by introducing different courses and programs on Entrepreneurial studies to cater for these needs.

Unlike earlier belief that businesses run from home are not well managed and don’t make good money, the present situation is that many Entrepreneurs motivated to set up business at home now have college degrees including a lot of high level professionals with business exposure.

The entrepreneurial spirit is innate in all of us and we only need to be adequately motivated to take the necessary action.

It’s really an exciting world out there.

THE HOME BASED BUSINESS EXPLOSION

As stated earlier, though the crave for running businesses from home started way back in the 1980s, what can be termed the explosion of this way of doing business was between the late 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium.(2010+)

This coincided with the time when the setting up of a Home based business became a Fad. According to Mr Lewis of the National Association of Home Based Businesses, Home based business in the United States grew from about 6 million in 1984 to 23 million by 2007.

With the help of modern technology like computers, mobile phones, printers and the huge power of the internet, more work is being done virtually than ever before and more global businesses are routinely being run from home.

According to the 2012 GEM report, 69 percent of American entrepreneurs start their business at home from either a spare room in the house, the dining table or from the garage. The report further revealed that more than 50 percent of entrepreneurs continue to operate from home even after the business has taken off successfully and stabilized.

Again according to Mr. Lewis of the National Association of Home Based Businesses, his own companies do training in 20 countries, import eyeglass frames from China and also develop condominiums.

Mr. Nuyten of the Home Based Business Statistics in America quoted the following statistics as at 2012:

38 million Businesses were operating from residential homes in America

A new business is started from home every 12 seconds in the United States

The Home Based Business sector in the United States earned Four Hundred and Twenty Seven billion dollars.

It revealed that 70 percent of Americans would like to be self- employed.

Entrepreneurship has become entrenched in the psyche of the average person. The Baylor University study of 2005 revealed then that more than 5 million jobs had been lost in Fortune 500 companies since 1980 while 34 million were created in small businesses.

The United States Census Bureau data of October 2012, also revealed that the number of businesses being operated from home have been on the rise since 1999.

The United Kingdom Experience

The continued growth in the Home based business sector appears to be a global phenomenon as the report from the United Kingdom will show shortly.

The United Kingdom department of Business, Innovation and Skills released a report titled ” Backing for Home Business” which revealed that 2.9 million home based businesses in the United Kingdom contributed 300 billion pounds sterling to the UK economy. The report also stated that 70 percent of all new businesses in the United Kingdom started from home.

According to Home Business report compiled by Enterprise Nation, 1,400 new businesses are started from home each week.

This report also confirmed that out of a total of 4.5 million small and medium enterprises, 2.1 million are Home based businesses.

Factors contributing to the growth of Home Based Businesses

There are many factors motivating people to set up Home based businesses such as:

  • .Losing one’s job

Being laid off in a time of economic downturn could be very devastating. With difficulty in getting new job offers, the next best thing would be to start a Home based business.

  • Flexible lifestyle

You are your own Boss. Literally, you can come and go as you please. You maintain better work/family balance. There are no set opening and closing times. You go for lunch and vacation when you feel like

  • .Reduction in Stress level

The daily commuting, especially with the present heavy fuel costs is avoided. Also those train/bus rides to and from work with all sorts of characters is avoided.

  • No corporate office politics

You are not thinking of how to always please the boss and climb the corporate ladder. You don’t have to engage with difficult colleagues. Best of all, there are no dress codes.

  • Cheaper start up and running costs

It’s cheaper to set up a Home based business. A serious entrepreneur can get started with just $5,000. The main requirements could just be a computer, mobile phone, printer and a good internet connection. No rent of physical store space.

  • Secondary Income

Some entrepreneurs set up business at home to bring in extra income to support a day job. Some people start the business as a part time hobby. Eventually the business may become very successful and the entrepreneur will now take the decision to resign from the day job.

  • Be your own boss

You are your own boss. You have the freedom to do things the way you want. There is nobody breathing down your neck reminding you of targets.

  • Job dissatisfaction

An otherwise loyal employee may become unhappy with the company for lack of promotion and motivation. The next thought is to set up a Home based business.

  • Opportunity to achieve Self actualization

Having your own business gives you the opportunity to make as much money as you desire. This of course depends on how much money you want to make and the amount of time and effort you decide to invest in the business.

Advantages of running a business from home

The desire to get out of the rat race, avoid the daily grind coupled with the power of modern technology make telecommuting more productive.

Together with some of the factors already mentioned above, listed below are more advantages:

  • Tax advantages

You can deduct some of your expenses as business expenses. These could be utility bills, insurance, mortgage and property tax.

  • Opportunities for Professional improvement

It is safe to assume that with the day to day running of your business, you will develop more business management skills.

  • Multiple streams of Income

With more time to yourself and the freedom to follow your lead, you can decide to explore other areas of interest and create multiple streams of income.

Disadvantages of running a business from home.

In spite of the almost glamorous attraction of Entrepreneurship, there are some disadvantages which must be effectively managed in order to improve the chances of success.

  • .Irregular Income

For some one that had been used to regular pay checks, having to go through some weeks without income could be a huge challenge.

  • Lack of adequate space

This could arise where work sometimes spills into the home space

  • Nearness of Family and Friends

The nearness of family and friends could become a distraction if not properly managed.

  • Lack of Fringe benefits

Fringe benefits like health and dental insurance and paid vacations which were hitherto being enjoyed in paid employment are no longer available.

  • Friction with neighbors

The type of business you are involved in could create friction with neighbors due to noise pollution and lack of packing space

  • Health Issues

Staying glued to the computer screen and in a small space may affect health and fitness. So try and create time for exercise and recreation.

CONCLUSION

So as the French would say Voila! There you are! The idea of starting a business at home has become engraved in the mind of people. Every day, people are starting thousands of businesses in their residences all over the world.

Though there are disadvantages in running a business from home, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Some industry watchers believe that crave for setting up businesses at home is waning and the general trend could be heading downwards.

However, I personally believe that the trend can only continue northwards. Why? Because I see all the indices still pointing positive. The factors that motivate people to set up Home based business are still very much around. There are still massive lay- offs going on in many companies and workers are still feeling short changed by employers.

To crown it all, the technological tools like Computers, Mobile Phones, Printers and the Internet which assist Home Based Business owners to work smarter and achieve more with lesser effort are still evolving.

Therefore I’m of the view that the trend of setting up businesses at home is still on the upward swing.

So, how about you? What do you think? Is the trend moving up or going down.

Let’s have your thoughts.

Small Business Social Media Talk is Cheap

Recently there seems to be a number of articles and adverts discussing social media for small business, particularly helping to integrate and provide social media services. Is it that small businesses are somehow different to their larger counterparts and need to be provided for in a different way?

The answer to this question isn’t a straight yes or no.

Most companies big or small adhere to rules of best business practice but because of the different size of the companies their internal structures differ greatly.

Larger businesses often develop into flat organizational structures with each separate department being responsible for decision making who then report to a senior manager whilst smaller companies have a taller, narrower structure with one or two decision makers responsible for the majority of company decisions, so much more multi-tasking involved.

In a report conducted over the last few months by King Fish Media in association with Junta 42 and Hubspot, 72% of businesses claimed that they have a social media policy in place and of the other companies, 80% of them claimed that they will be implementing one within the next year.

It’s almost hard to believe then that only 9% of these companies have a full time position within the company to handle all of the social media requirements. However these figures need to be put into context. Of all the businesses in this report, 77% of them were companies with 50 staff or fewer but only 3% had 500 – 1,000 employees.

We can begin to see the difference here between small and big business. The bigger businesses have taken the opportunity to benefit from this new and effective form of customer communication and marketing, a lot of them have sought professional advice from exterior professional companies and as a result have taken steps to set up specific departments or included their efforts into the existing marketing or PR departments. Smaller business can be seen to claim a strategy but as we can make out from these figures the majority have not committed enough resources or made the required effort to adopt a successful policy.

Examples of the success that social networking, communication and marketing can bring can clearly be seen by Starbucks, Ford and Dell who all have realistic budgets and professionals working on their campaigns.

Now I know that for many smaller companies the logistics of actually hiring a full time professional may be somewhat daunting, especially if you do not know what qualities you should be looking for or what kind of parameters to set your new employee.

Outsourcing the requirements of smaller companies makes far more business sense in most cases. Companies can consult or seek professional advice from social media companies and engage them on more favorable terms than hiring a full time employee.

In answer the original question then, it does appear that small and large companies should be treated differently when looking at their social media requirements and logistics. When it comes to their social media needs, small businesses are largely missing out on the benefits that a well executed campaign can bring them.

The place to start for a smaller business is to gather as much information as you can before jumping in.

PJD Social Media are for a limited time offering a 30 minute free consultation to help small businesses benefit from this great business channel. Arrange a call as all it will cost you is 30 minutes of your time but you can learn so much. Ask all the questions that you are unsure of, how to get started, how to maximize your time and effort and where you should be spending your time as well as the best ways to outsource part of your social media tasks.

10 Tips To Optimize Your Insurance Agent LinkedIn Profile

Social media marketing is moving front and center when it comes to insurance agency web marketing strategies, which may encompass other terms such as insurance agency search engine marketing or insurance agency search marketing optimization. Agents and producers, owners and executives should be cognizant of this new frontier, perhaps changing the famous saying of “Go West, young man, go West” as popularized by Horace Greeley, to “Go Web young man, go Web”. As social media websites for business go, surely LinkedIn is one of the most preeminent, and one that insurance agents and agencies should leverage in their daily routine. Here are 10 tips to help better leverage your LinkedIn presence.

1. Professional Headline– Create a professional headline that explains your expertise and is keyword friendly. For example, I am an “Insurance Agency Marketing Expert” rather than a “Business Development Manager.”

2. Complete Education & Experience – Process can be accelerated by uploading a current resume from a Word document.

3. Request Recommendations – Request a minimum of 3 recommendations. We suggest a client, a colleague and someone else. Recommendations for previous work are also powerful.

4. Include Website Links – Add links to your website, your blog, and a personal website (if possible).

5. Integrate Twitter Feed – If you are using Twitter, add your Twitter ID.

6. Summary – Create a 1-2 paragraph professional summary that explains what you do and why it is important. Make sure to include your areas of expertise and leverage your SEO keywords.

7. Specialties – A short list of specialties that should look very much like your Top 3 SEO keyword phrases.

8. Blog Application – Under the “Applications” menu, select “Get More Applications.” Choose the WordPress application and enter the blog address. Select the options to display the blog on your homepage and profile.

9. Other Application(s)– If possible add 1-2 more applications that you feel would be of interest.

10.Make Regular Updates – Post regular profile updates. What you are working on, webinar invites, blog links and announcements are all great updates. Make sure to include your SEO keywords in the updates as well.

LinkedIn’s website states they now have over 90 million members around the world as of January 2011. Most of these members are business centric, as LinkedIn seemingly becomes the Facebook of business. Every insurance agent should have a presence on LinkedIn, and every insurance agency should have a company page on LinkedIn. Does that mean agents should ignore Facebook and other social media sites? Insurance agents and producers, should embrace the major social networking sites. However, if you are a B2B oriented agency or broker, LinkedIn should be a top priority as a social media marketing venue.

The Basic Components of a Business Plan for a Catering Business

Creating a business plan for a catering business may not be as tough as some of us consider. Moreover, developing a business plan is very important for all of us that are interested in starting their own catering business. A catering business plan helps lay the foundation for the main components of your business. It also serves as a vital tool if you are seeking funding for your start-up; since all lenders will request your business plan. Keep in mind that starting a small catering business is also a start-up option which may only require the use of some of your personal savings.

The benefit of a catering business plan includes allowing you to focus on the mission and goals as well as identify the basic components of your company.

Let us look at the basic points of a business plan for a catering company.

Description of your company.

In this section you need to describe your catering business in a clear and enlightening manner. You will need to include the name and location of the company, owner(s) background and experience, and the type of catering services that will be provided. Note that you would want come up with a business name that accurately represents your business.

Unique Selling Position also known as your USP

Your USP is what makes you different from the competition. When someone is looking for a caterer why should they select you? It goes without saying that you will provide delicious dishes and professional and friendly services; these days that just is not enough. How are you going to stand out from the competition? When writing this section I would recommend that you focus on determining how you will create a memorable and exciting experience for each of your clients. The goal is to have every client think of you when they are in need of catering services.

Organizational Structure

As the business owner you cannot single handedly take care of every aspect of your catering company; this means that you will need staff to assist you in running the business. In this section you will need to list the key people that will be engaged in your catering business. You not only want to include the names of key people but specific information about their background and experiences, and the role each of them will play in your company.

Competition

You need to know what the competition doing because this is what could possibly keep you from getting clients? You will have to do some research to determine which services may be directly competing with your catering business. In this section you will need will need to see how your compare to the competition. What are your strengths and weaknesses; and are there any opportunities or threats that can have an impact on your business?

Marketing

The first step is to determine specifically who you will sell your catering services to; this is called your target market. You may initially think that you plan to offer your services to everyone, which is fine but it is best to focus on your ideal clients. Taking this approach will also assist in focusing your marketing budget on specific clientele.

Finances

Be prepared to include how much money will invest in your catering business and how much income, expenses and profits you plan to generate in this section. Optimism is great but the best approach in this section is the realistic approach. Often times section this can be challenging for the preparer; and you are not alone. Seek help from the Small Business Administration and other agencies like SCORE and the Small Business Development Centers.

The Best Selling Item On eBay!

What is the best selling item on eBay you ask?

I'm not going to play you out with lame ideas for eBay businesses that do not work, or tell you to go out and research everything yourself. Nope, not here! All you need to know right now is that sunglasses are an easy money machine selling in eBay. Even with summer ending soon, sunglasses remain popular year round. I know you've probably seen a lot of articles like these throughout the years, but this is not your typical fake out. I'm going to tell you everything that I've done (recently) this past summer to buy a car, get my own place, and conquer eBay.

When people ask me "what is the best thing to sell on eBay", I usually do not tell them. I've decided to spill the beans on here now because I have moved on from eBay, and have started my own company. Why waste good advice when I can offer you (the people) great eBay tips for selling and the ability to make money?

So here's what you do. Create an eBay account. If you do not have one already it's easy so I will not explain it here. Now while creating your eBay account think of a business name you want to go by. Something catchy like shademebaby or whatever. It's not a big deal if you do not like it, because eBay lets you change your name after a month anyway. Also, most customers on eBay do not care about your name and will not repeat shop with you anyway.

Now I'm going to give you an eBayer ID I want you to look at, and copy as much as possible. They sell the most sunglasses on eBay, and are good at it. They sell like 10,000 pairs of sunglasses on eBay a month. The name is "SHARPKO". Search for it on eBay and check out how he sells sunglasses, and see what his listings look like. This is going to come into play later when I tell you how to create your listings effectively.

Some other notes about your eBay account you should take into consideration is the following: setup your paypal account and link it to eBay. You're going to need to create an eBay store at some point so look into that. It costs 16.00 a month.Don't buy it yet though. If you're not familiar with your eBay account you should be by now.

The next obvious step we have to take is to look for inventory to sell. Well, instead of sending you off and wishing you good luck on your search I'm going to provide a link to the best sunglasses wholesaler out there right now. Olympic Eyewear has the best quality sunglasses out of any other wholesaler website out there. Trust me, I went through this process already so I know first hand. If you want to search for your own wholesaler feel free. Simply type in wholesale sunglasses on Google and you'll find plenty. Be warned though, other quality of sunglasses out there suck balls.

So now that you're at Olympic eyewear's website we need to focus on 3 brands. The DG sunglasses, XLoop sunglasses, and Aviators. These are the three most popular brands of sunglasses on eBay. Do not bother with most of the other brands unless you see something you really like. Now depending on how much money you have, will depend on how much stock you buy. The average cost is around $ 30 a dozen per box. But, wait! Guess what? You can sell your sunglasses without buying them first. Here's how …

Pick a group of 5-10 sunglass styles you like. Now right-click and save the images for the sunglasses. Now when you go and create listings on eBay, just use the stock images the website provides and "act" like you already have the sunglasses. Now, when you start selling them you can use the money other people pay you and use that to buy your inventory. Since Olympic Eyewear accepts paypal it makes it even easier. Words of caution though … you are not going to sell all 12 pairs of a certain style before you have to purchase them. So you're going to have to pay some of it. Also, look at Olympic eyewears shipping times and see how long it's going to take to arrive to your house. You do not want to keep your eBay customers waiting or they will leave you negative feedback and ruin your eBay account. It took like 4 or 5 business days to reach me. As soon as they came to my house I shipped them out and it was never a problem.

Of course that is the risky way to do business. The proper way would be to pick 5-10 styles and purchase them upfront. Do not worry you will sell them eventually. A word of advice is not to go overboard on the styles you choose. Stick with 5 to 10 styles of the brands I mentioned above. If you discover a certain style sells a lot, I recommend buying multiple dozens. The only flaw olympiceyewear.com has is that their sunglasses sell FAST. They run out of stock quickly, so if you find a good seller buy as much as you can afford. It sucks when you sell out of a style and go to purchase more and they have run out … trust me I've been there multiple times.

Oh, one more note. Try to purchase in bulk. If you only buy one or two dozen at a time you're going to get killed with the shipping costs. The best way to do it is find what sunglasses sell first, and then spend over $ 500 on an order at a time. I frequently spent over 1k on sunglasses. The positives to this are that you do not have to worry about stock for awhile, and olympiceyewear offers discounts the more you buy. I think I saved like 10% on my order for spending over a thousand dollars, so that paid for the shipping costs right there.

Now that you have your sunglasses picked out and ready to sell, you have to find shipping supplies! Forgot about those did not ya? Do not worry I have the hookup. Purchase your tape from Walmart. You're going to need a lot of it so buy 3-4 rolls at a time. Also, I recommend buying "stuffing" for your boxes so that the sunglasses are more secure. It's not necessary but I found that the customers liked it better this way.

It does not matter what sunglasses you buy, they all fit into 6x3x3 shaped boxes. I scoured the internet for the cheapest box prices and formed a relationship with mobe packaging you can find here. I know there website looks a little bad, but the prices are great and shipping is SUPER fast. I received my boxes within 2 days every time! Here is the exact page to get the boxes. I always bought white corrugated boxes because I thought they looked better, but you can get brown if you prefer. They are pretty much the same price. So for 50 boxes it costs 9.75, and the shipping is also a great deal. Make sure you select the FedEx option for shipping. I would recommend buying at least 100 boxes to start.

Okay, now that you have the shipping supplies and sunglasses it's time to start listing them on eBay. I hope you know HTML / CSS because it makes it a lot easier to create listings on eBay that look good. If you do not, no worries. I'll post the outline that I used to list my sunglasses. I'm not expert in this area, so feel free to design your own outline. Think of eBay listings as a one-page advertisement for your product. Did you look at SHARPKO eBay profile yet and his listings? You want your listings to look like his.

Anything that looks like the above example is what we are aiming for. It does not have to be exactly the same. For more ideas look at other eBay'ers selling sunglasses and what their listings look like. Make sure though that you come up with an outline you like, and use it for all of your listings! You want all your listings to be identical except for the sunglass images. It makes it a lot easier for you and your potential customers to identify you and organize your listings. When you have over 1000 listings up at a time, you want to make it as easy as possible for you to make changes.

Designing an outline is going to take a day or two. It's probably one of the biggest details you have to pay attention to. It's not as easy as slapping up an image with a simple description anymore. If you need help designing an outline there are a few programs and websites out there to help you. Simply type in eBay outlines or designs on Google, or search eBays forums for help and advice. If you know someone who can design a sweet outline for you, then you'll have a huge advantage over the competition.

Okay, so now that you have your stock, shipping supplies, and listing outlines ready to go, it's time to post them for the world to buy. The single, most important aspect of selling on eBay is your posting strategy. Here are some questions you need to take into consideration before posting anything. How much are you selling for? How many listings are you going to have? Are you going to sell auction or fixed price format? What days and times should you post your listings? How many days should your listings run for? How much should you charge for shipping and handling? etc.etc.

I can not answer all of these for you, but I'll focus on the more important ones in this article. Shipping costs. I know exactly how much it costs to ship sunglasses, and lucky for you, I'm nice enough to share it with the world. Sunglasses (including the box) weigh around 4 ounces. Sometimes you'll have them weigh a little over that depending on if the sunglasses are heavy, but no worries. You are going to ship via the USPS (regular post office). Each box going out anywhere in the USA is going to cost you a little less then $ 2.00. Packages leaving the US are around $ 4 depending on exactly where. All you need to know is how much the box weighs because you're going to be printing all your shipping labels from home.

Before all of this though, you need to decide how much to charge customers for shipping. I recommend charging more then the actual cost. People do not know how much it costs for you to ship so take advantage. I was charging 2.99 per package, and 4.99 for international. I made an extra dollar every time. Some people charge more, some people charge less. Play around with whatever works for you. You also have to take into consideration the price you charge for the product vs the price for shipping. If your selling sunglasses for 6.99, you can get away with charging more for shipping. If you sell for 9.99 a pair, you probably want to charge only 1.99 shipping. It's all relative. Find your sweet spot.

If you're not familiar with printing your own shipping labels, it's really easy. Make sure you have a printer. It can be any old printer, nothing special. If you're shipping a lot of sunglasses though, you're going to need to buy ink a lot. After someone makes a purchase from you on eBay, you go to it and find the link that says print shipping label. Fill out whatever information it asks for, and it will create a label for you that you print. Since you know the sunglass packages weigh 4oz, the label will automatically calculate the cost. After you print the label, cut it down to size, and tape it to your box. Now you can walk right into your post office, and drop the boxes off without waiting in line. It was funny walking in the post office when there was a long line, walking past everyone, and setting my boxes on the counter and walking away. Oh, and you pay for the shipping labels through your PayPal account so its really easy. They just deduct the cost right from there for you.

How much to sell for? This question is really up to you. Like I talked about with the shipping costs, you have to find what people are comfortable paying for. I will tell you that people prefer a lower overall price vs the higher one (obviously). I charged 7.99-8.99 per pair with 2.99 shipping and it worked great. You may want to charge 9.99 w / 1.99 s & h or even higher then that. I will also tell you that the eBay average selling price is 10 bucks for a pair of the sunglasses you're selling. So work with that and develop a winning price strategy.

Remember, selling sunglasses is about VOLUME! You're going to be making around 4-5 dollars per profit per pair. The more you sell, the more money you make. Since they are so easy to sell, it should not be hard for you to grow into a power seller.

How many listings should you have? My advice is A LOT. As many as you can afford. The more listings you have up, the better chance you have of selling something and attracting attention to your store. It's a numbers game, and if you want to compete you're going to have to put up big numbers. It's okay if you start small though. Focus on growing your inventory so that you have at least 200-300 listings up at one given time. I know a lot of sellers that have 1k + listings going at once, and I know that SHARPKO usually has between 4-5k listings rotating around the clock. Think more listings = more exposure = more customers = more money!

How should I list my items? This is the big question you need to answer. Will you sell auction style or fixed priced? Well before you can answer that question you need to see how many items you have available to sell? You see the problem lies in how eBay lets you create listings. You can not post duplicate items when you sell via the fixed price format. So every fixed price listing has to be a different color sunglasses. eBay will remove duplicates real fast. Auction style listings though let you create as many duplicate listings you want. So it would make more sense to sell auction style then right?

Well, yes and no. Auction style lets you reach the front page, sell duplicates, and more. However, auction style costs more overall. Its 25c to post an auction style listing. If you purchase the basic store, and post a fixed price listing, it's only 20c. However, the big difference is fixed price listings can be set to the "good till 'cancelled" duration. Auction listings can only be set to 7 days max. Huge difference here.

If I have 200 pairs of sunglasses and decide to list them at fixed price it's only going to cost me $ 40 a month, plus the selling fee. If i take those same 200 sunglasses and list them auction style its going to cost $ 50 + selling fee, and only last 7 days until I have to repay another $ 50 to list them again. The fees will begin adding up really fast. Yes, you will sell more using the auction style because you'll receive more exposure, but in the end, eBay fees will kill you.

The best method I found to work is this. List all of your sunglasses via the fixed price method and set the duration to "good til 'cancelled". Also list the quantity to more then 1 (even if you only have 1 of them, you can buy more). This way, your listings never end and you will not be paying crazy fees. You can test the auction style waters if you'd like, but be warned, the fees do add up fast.

What times / days should I create listings? It really does not matter what day you have your listings end for. You would think that the weekends would be a good time right? Well, after months of thinking that, I came to find that I sold more on Mondays or Tuesdays then the weekends usually. With that said, Saturday still seems like the best day to have your listings end. There are programs on eBay that can give you information on how many people are searching for your listings and things like that. You can use those to your advantage since most of them are free. One of the eBay apps I used was outright. It shows you how much money your making vs spending. It's a great tool to see if what you're doing is working or not.

Make sure when you create listings that you spread the time out a little. Do not have all your listings end at the same time. I would use a timer (you can Google timer), and set the timer to 2-3 minutes at a time, and every time the timer goes off post one of the listings. If you're going to use the fixed price format, it really does not matter because they run for a month. Setting your listings by time is a strategy you should use when listing by auction format because it makes sure you have listings on the front page of eBay every time someone searches for the word sunglasses. This helps get your listings more exposure, which leads to more bids.

Well, that's all I got for now. There's a lot more I could probably go into, and I might in a future article, but my fingers hurt right now – Thanks for reading and I hope you can make as much money as I was selling sunglasses this past year! It's really not that hard, trust me.

Business Needs: Importance of Social Media Analytics

Social media analytics, the process of analyzing social media content as well as data to provide insight from the millions of conversations. It is primarily useful for brands that wish to know about what the market or customers are saying about them on social media. Undoubtedly, it has immensely changed the way of using marketing to promote several offers and businesses. With the help of it, we now have an unprecedented opportunity of disseminating targeted messages through a plethora of channels and tools, in a cost free manner.

Let's discuss about a number of ways of keeping the track of your data in order to get the most out of your campaigns.

This is such an amazing concept with the help of which you collect all kinds of information related to your social media pages. Obviously, you can not keep a record of each and everything, so you have to plan well regarding the data that is more important to you, ignoring the ones that are least important.

A few advantages of analytics are mentioned below that can extremely help you out with your marketing.

· Examine the results along with the reach of your posts

· Analyze followers

· Save time

· Identify influencers

· Compare platforms

· Improve your ROI

Gathering a huge amount of data from social networks will not help you. It is essential to choose a tool that can help you get acquainted with the information available to you. In simple words, you require something that can show you the economic impact of your marketing efforts have on your business. You can begin by taking the advantage of tools that are located right within the social media networks themselves.

Twitter analytics will tell you at a glance about your number of tweets, profile visits, tweet impressions, mentions as well as followers. Facebook insights gives you page post metrics like the number of people posts, reactions and clicks. LinkedIn provides analytical data related to company pages for example measuring your posts, engagement together with supplying information about your follower's demographics.

Refer below the lists of major social networks:

Google+

YouTube

Instagram

SlideShare

Pinterest

Vine

Vimeo

Tumblr

Blogs

Compare the effectiveness of all your social media accounts for your business. Statistics that are collected will help you out in tracking the latest trends, industry standards along with the interaction and engagement rates of it.

It is essential to track your data so as to produce better results through your campaigns. If you do not track the data then you are definitely wasting your time on missing or hitting type campaigns. Social media analytics is mainly the difference between success and failure for obtaining the desired results.

Reasons for Globalization

Most companies move their business operations to foreign countries by going global. They take their business overseas for different reasons. These companies adopt the reactive or defensive approach to stay ahead of the competition. A few of them take the proactive or aggressive approach to accomplish the same purpose. A majority of them choose to adopt both approaches to avoid a decrease in their competition. In order to remain competitive, companies move as quickly as possible to secure a strong position in some of the key world or emerging markets with products customized for the need of the people in such areas in which they plan to establish. Most of these world markets are attracting companies with new capital investments with very good incentives. Some of the reactive or defensive reasons for going global are:

(1) Trade Barriers

(2) Customer Demands

(3) Globalization of Competitors

(4) Regulations and Restrictions

In the case of trade barriers, companies move from exporting their products to manufacturing them overseas in order to avoid the burden of tariffs, quotas, the policy of buy-local and other restrictions that make export too expensive to foreign markets. Companies respond to customer demands for effective operations and product assurance and reliability, or / and logistical problem solutions. Most foreign customers, who seek accessibility to suppliers may request that supply stay local in order to enhance the flow of production. Companies usually follow that request to avoid losing the business. For the globalization of competitors, companies are aware that if they leave companies overseas too long without challenge or competition, their investments or foreign operations in the world market may be so solid that competition will be difficult. Therefore, they try to act quickly. Most companies 'home government may have regulations and restrictions that are so inconvenient and expensive, thus limiting the expansion, encroaching in the companies' profits, and making their costs uncontrollable. Hence the reason for the companies moving to different market environment with few foreign restrictive operations. The proactive or aggressive reasons for going global are:

(A) Growth opportunities

(B) Economies of Scale

(C) Incentives

(D) Resource assess and Cost Savings

Many companies will prefer to invest their excess profits in order to expand, but sometimes they are limited because of the maturity of the markets in their area. Therefore, they seek the overseas new markets to provide such growth opportunities. So, these companies, in addition to investing their excess profits, also try to maximize efficiency by employing their underutilized resources in human and capital assets such as management, machinery, and technology. Companies seek economies of scale in order to achieve a higher level of output spread over large fixed costs to lower the per-unit cost. They also, want to maximize the use of their manufacturing equipment and spread the high costs of research and development over the product life cycle. Some of the developing countries that need improvement and development through capital infusion, skills, and technology voluntarily provide incentives such as fixed assets, tax exemptions, subsidies, tax holidays, human capital, and low wages. These incentives seem attractive to these companies due to their increase in profits and reduction of risks. Caution: The repatriation of profits and foreign exchange risks due to instability in leadership of these developing countries should be put into consideration in negotiation. Access to raw materials and low operational costs in financing, transportation, low wages, lower unit costs, and power are attractive in terms of resource access and cost savings. Most companies move their headquarters to overseas to avoid their respective home countries' high taxes and other costs associated in business operation in those countries.

Companies need to develop strategies, design and operate systems, and also work with people, different companies, and countries around the world in the form of strategic alliance to ensure sustained competitive advantage. Global management and management functions are usually formed by the prevailing conditions and ongoing stable and unstable developments in the world. A few countries take advantage of these companies, but when companies become aware that they are being used, they should then learn how they can be useful in that different cultural environment in order to make a lot of profits.

Coffee Shop Business Plan – The Basic Points You Must Cover

Many coffee shop owners do not realize the importance of having a good coffee shop business plan. A business plan is basically a document that list down your competitive strategy and execution during the operations. Having a compelling strategy will inspire you to great heights in business success and having a good execution business plan will ensure that your castle is not built on clouds. It forces you to dream big and at the same time to come out with operations to make this dream a reality.

Having a well thought out business plan will give you an advantage over your competitors. It give any your potential bankers and investors a big boost in confidence in your vision. They realized that most of the coffee shop owners can not put down their strategy into paper; mush to execute them well.

In general, the language in the coffee shop business plan should be factual and business like. You can use any prospectus of a listed company as a reference. You may say that you are not going for listing! You must realize that the investors are really looking for good deals and there is no better way to show them you mean business by having a world class business plan. Use graphs and government statistics to back up your research and this will give you instant credibility. A good business plan will basically cover two things, your business strategy and execution.

A. Strategy
A strategy is the goal you want to achieve in your business in the short run, which is the first one year and for the long run, which is 5 year. As this is a big topic by itself, I shall cover the few critical components briefly.

i) Target market
The first thing you must cover is your target market. This includes the demographics, where they eat and how affluent they are. Then you need to estimate the market size. This will depend on how big an area you think you can realistically cover.

ii) Competitions
No business exists by itself. If there really is none, that is a sign of no demand in the market. You must list down your nearest competitor in your chosen niche and their strengths and weaknesses. If you can, list down their revenue per month and estimated market share as well.

iii) Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP )
Your USP is how you position you business differently from other competitors. It answers the question of why your customers must be crazy not to do business with you compared with your competitors. It could be your quality food, your service, your cozy environments or your pricing. Give them a compelling reason why and they will flock to your coffee shop.

iv) Target location and rationale
The location you choose to start your business really depends on your USP. You may choose to do an upscale coffee shop and naturally, a nice and relaxed environment is important. The renovation costs and may skyrocket but you can charge more for your products. You may want to pick a shopping mall to cater for students or workers who wants to relax. If you choose to compete on speed and delivery, you are catering more on the morning crowd who wants a quick sip of coffee and quality food.

v) Management team / investors
In this section, you must list down who is in your management team or investors. An experienced manager or investors with more than twenty years running a coffee shop is more valuable than a new one. So, it makes sense to have someone who knows the operations well.

vi) Risk factors
All business carries some inherent risks. This may be the changing taste and demands, technology changes, legal and regulatory changes and new entrants. You must anticipate them and take the necessary actions to mitigate them.

vii) Exit strategy
You may provide some plan for exiting in two scenarios. First, you made a lot of money and plan to open more chains. Then, you need a lot of investor financing by selling some shares to them. Second, if the business fails, you may want to negotiate to shorten the lease on the shop and find ways to sell off the coffee equipments.

B. Operations
This part covers the detailed aspects of the day to day running of your coffee shop business. This is where the rubber meets the road and you must successfully execute to get your business off the ground.

i) Startup costs
These are the costs to get your business off the ground. These include renovation, coffee shop layout, cost of buying or leasing equipments and legal costs like license and permits. How much you need to spend depends on your USP you have targeted.

ii) Monthly revenue and expenses
After estimating the market size in your niche, you can estimate how many customers you can have as you monthly revenue. You can then estimate the monthly operating costs, which includes leasing, staff salaries and utilities. You must estimate how much cash you need to sustain for the slow months, especially in the early months of operations.

iii) Operations
This covers the day to day operations of you coffee shop such as operations hours, how many staffs are in the kitchen and serving customers as well as the type of furniture you need to buy. You may also detail down the types of kitchen utensils to buy and when the equipments need to be serviced.

iv) Marketing
You marketing methods will depend on your USP and the image you want to portray. If you plan to do an upscale type, you can send postcards or flyers to your local areas. You can also organize special events like birthday parties or meetings. You company logo and staff uniforms also must reflect this upscale image.

If your niche is speed and price, you may advertise in a billboard near any busses or transit railways. You may want to give out special discounts for regular customers.

v) Funding needs and sources of funds
You may start by using your own funds but as your business grows, you will need more financing. If the interest rate is favorable and you have been in business for over a year, you may approach banks for borrowings. If not, look for investors who are wiling to take some risks. Even if all else fails, you can still get your supplier to finance you in the form of discounts or longer repayments. See if you can qualify for any small business grants from the government.

Conclusion:
After finishing the first draft, you may want to get someone experienced such as a lawyer or accountant to give a second opinion. It may take you a few more draft before it is ready to be presentable to the investors. You are advised to revise this at least yearly to see if it is still applicable.

Growing Flower Bulbs For Profit

Flower bulbs are the perfect crop for any grower. They're fairly easy to grow, and can bring you big profits. They can also multiply rapidly with the right amount of care. That's one of the many things that makes them so appealing. So how can you make good money growing bulbs? Here's how:

Flower growers make, on average, $ 20 to $ 30 an hour. It's simply a great business for anyone looking to turn their backyard nursery into a garden of profitable plants. In particular, bulbs continue to be top sellers. Marvin Joslin makes over $ 100,000 a year selling bulbs and flowers from the garden he started out in the country. He focuses on lilies, because they're hardy perennials that can grow in all four seasons. Plus, lilies grow into long-lasting cut flowers that are always top sellers.

In addition to lilies, there are many other bulbs that have something you probably did not know about them:

* Daffodils – They're virtually immune to pests and disease.

* Iris – There are around 200 species in a variety of color and form.

* Tulips – These were once a holy flower in Turkey and Iran.

* Hyacinth – These are known for their delicate scent.

Plus, bulbs can be forced to grow outside of their normal season, which can be especially profitable. "Forcing" can cause bulbs to grow months before the normal cycle by simulating the natural conditions. Some popular bulbs for forcing include:

* "Paperwhite" daffodil for Christmas

* "Olaf" tulip for Valentine's Day

* "Anne Marie" hyacinth for Valentine's Day

* "Peerless Pink" tulip for Mother's Day

When you're ready to sell your flowers, you have many places you could try, such as the local farmers' market. These events continually draw big crowds eager to buy from local growers. Set up a stand or booth and get ready for the big profits. It's also a good idea to put out a mailing list that your customers can sign up for. That way you can keep in contact with your customers and let them know when and where you'll be selling your flowers next.

Or how about selling to hotels and restaurants. Many hotels and restaurants buy flowers to make their tables and entryways look nice. It's a simple way to bring class to any room. Plus, these restaurants and hotels will want to keep their tables and entryways looking classy, ​​so you could see a lot of repeat sales.

Mail-order sales work well for many growers. The more exotic or unusual your bulbs, the better they will sell with a small classified in gardening magazines and newsletters. You can be growing flower bulbs for profit in no time. They're easy to grow, and can provide some beautiful results. Soon you could be making $ 20 to $ 30 an hour, or more, from growing flowers for profit. Learn more To, Growing Flowers . Read for Profit, available at Http://profitableplants.com