5 Home Business Success Tips

A lot of people avoid having a home based business for various reasons.

Some do not wish to have the responsibility associated with one and others are just simply clueless on how or where to start. This article focuses on some help in getting you started with a home based business and getting you on your way to success.

1) Advertising is always the most important aspect of any business. Even if your business is not home based, you still spend a significant amount of money on advertising. Since a home based business does not have a store front or a public office where they can advertise themselves, you must invest money in getting the word out to the world about your company. Consider internet marketing as a way for your business to expand in the world as well as advertising in local newspapers, billboards, and newsletters.

2) It takes time to develop clientele and make a significant amount of money through any business and this is not any different when it comes to a home based business. It is important to keep in mind not to get discouraged because your first few months are tough. Every business out there started somehow and many of them did not grow to be an overnight success. Keep at your business regardless how bleak it may seem at first, and you will eventually build your own trusted clientele and following.

3) Consider what types of equipment you need to purchase to run your business even if it is just a new printer or computer. It is important to shop around for the cheapest prices possible and opt to purchase what you can second hand. Make sure what you need is something that you have budgeted for.

4) It is important to understand the different tax laws and regulations associated with your business. Some businesses need permits as well as tax forms filed before even starting. You need to have a basic idea of how taxes work before starting your business so you ensure you will not lose any money when it comes to filing your taxes for the next year. Many items you purchase to start your business are considered tax deductible and it is in your best interest to research as much as possible to save money.

5) Come up with your own business plan. The most important thing that you can do for your home based business is to come up with a one year plan and what you hope to accomplish in that time frame. Make sure that you keep notes and ideas separate from your actual home information. Reserve a space for yourself within your house where you can work by yourself undisturbed. If you treat your business with dedication and as an actual business, you will more likely succeed.

Although starting up a home based business is a lot of responsibility and can be time consuming, you will find that the time will be worth it. Knowing what to do will provide you more success. It is important to take your time and plan things out and then take the plan and put it into action.

Should You Use Twitter?

What is Twitter?

Firstly, Twitter is a free service that allows users to publish short messages (called “tweets”) that are read by “followers” – people who choose to subscribe to your messages and have them delivered to their own Twitter home pages.

After you sign up, you join in by answering the question “What are you doing?” on the home page in 140 characters or less. The small number of characters allowed forces you to be concise and to the point. The home page is also where you read all the tweets written by the people you are following and you can reply to these if you want to.

When I first heard about twitter, I didn’t see any use for it, rather thought it would be a waste of time to read what other people are saying about themselves, their families, how they feel, what they’re wearing and whatever else they think is important, then I realised that Twitter was about forming relationships, just as all social networking tools were. So do I use it now? Yes I do, my twitter name is plfbus – I am still new to it, but am getting the idea now.

Is Twitter for you?

I’d say, think about why you might want to use it. Here are some of the different reasons I can think of and there will be a whole lot more that will occur to you I’m sure:

  • to share common interests & ask questions of experts
  • to follow the links to good resources & special offers
  • to get feedback about other people’s experience with anything from a purchased program to how to get the baby to sleep
  • to meet people in a special niche or just people generally
  • to keep up with news, opinion and happenings in your field
  • to get news of updates to programs you run
  • to get general news, like from CNN
  • because there’s buzz about it
  • to keep people in your personal life updated
  • to build business contacts

Thanks to Twitter I’ve been able to learn from, get to know better and have online conversations with many people I hadn’t heard about before. Give it a go – if it’s not for you, just delete your account.

A New Year – a New Start

Did you make any New Year resolutions last year? If you did, how did you go with them? Did you achieve them all, some of them, partly some of them or did they mostly fall by the wayside?

The start of a new year is often the time when we are fired up with enthusiasm to make changes in our lives, but after a few weeks of getting back into our usual routine, we maybe just slip back into the same old ways.

Why is this? Perhaps we had too many resolutions (goals) and it was overwhelming. Or perhaps the goals were unrealistic or too complicated to achieve in a year’s time.

It’s so easy to come up with reasons (excuses) why we let our enthusiasm slip; I’m sure these will sound familiar:

I don’t have time / I’m too busy
I don’t have enough money
It’s not my fault – (someone else) stopped me from doing it
It was too hard / harder than I expected
I’ll do it later
I don’t know how
It’s just not “the right time”

BUT – it doesn’t have to be like that. If we really want to make change, there are some proven ways to go about it.

Instead of having a lot of new year’s resolutions, pick just one, or perhaps two, but it is better to work on one at a time. Think about what you want to achieve; see it in your mind, imagine that you have already reached this goal.

SMART is an acronym for goal-setting to make it easy to remember.

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

For example, if you want to earn more money so you can give up your day job, start with “earn $50 more every week by 31st March 2009″ or if you want to lose weight, have a goal to “lose 5kg or pounds by the end of January”.

Both of these goals would pass the SMART test.

The more specific you are about anything you want to achieve, the easier it will be to keep on track and be able to measure how you’re going with it.

Naturally a goal must be something it is possible for you to achieve, but you also need to be realistic about how long it will take to achieve. If you want something that doesn’t seem realistic, break the goal down into smaller manageable chunks and work on one at a time. When that is completed, start on the next chunk.

Small steps + consistency  =  success

If you don’t achieve your objective in the set time, don’t just slip back to the excuses, just take a realistic look at what happened, and set a new milestone date.

Demonstrated ways to help you as you go along:

  • Write your goals down and look at them every day, several times is better
  • Use a notebook, a small card to carry round or tape them to a wall or mirror
  • Read out aloud – this helps to fix them in your subconscious mind
  • Tell someone else – having someone ask you how it’s going will keep you trying
  • Believe that you deserve to achieve this goal
  • Respect yourself enough to keep your commitments
  • Act as if you have already achieved your goal, imagine it in your mind, feel how it will feel. Put as much emotion into your visualisations as you can – you might be surprised how much this can help.

So as you start the new year, set SMART goals and use the hints above to help you achieve them. Make 2009 will be the best year ever!

Computer Crash! Prevent Loss of Your Valuable Data

Have you ever had a computer crash and all your data was lost?

Most likely your computer’s hard drive failed & this happens more frequently than we’d like and for all sorts of reasons. Another major risk to your data is fire, flood or theft. The following strategies will help you to protect and recover your data.

Although the software files for the programs that run on your computer is also data, you don’t need to back that up as it is easily recoverable from the installation disks you received when software is purchased.

The data that we will focus on is “user” data specifically, the data that you create from the software programs that run on your computer.

For example, if a word processor is used to create a document or a letter, the word processor provides functions to save this data. The data that is created and saved through the word processor is “user” data. Most programs will create and save data somewhere on the hard drive.

There are many kinds of user data that are usually stored on the hard drive, do you have some of these?

  • letters you write in a word processors
  • flyers / posters for your clubs
  • business cards
  • spreadsheets
  • greeting cards you’ve made
  • accounting data from a money management program
  • picture files
  • music files
  • video files
  • email and email addresess

This is not a complete list, but to give you an idea of what you might have created and could lose if your computer crashed or in a fire or theft. Most people do not pay enough attention to this basic fact about computer systems until it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you!

Remember, the key is “prevention” and in order to prevent loss of valuable data you must be prepared, so let’s look at some basic backup plans.

Option 1: Save your data to CD or DVD disks
This is by far the cheapest option and a very good approach to securing user data, especially if you don’t have too much. All that is needed is a CD or DVD burner and some blank disks, which cost very little these days.

When using this option, make two copies so that one of the copies can be stored off site, to protect you against fire, flood & theft. Another reason is that a CD or DVD backup can also become corrupted & it’s better to have two or more copies.

Option 2: Use a memory stick (USB stick)
This will cost a bit more than option 1, but USB sticks are getting cheaper & cheaper all the time, and holding more data as well. One advantage is how small they are and easy to carry around. I bought a waterproof one when they first came out for my client’s data and was very glad I did so, as it went through the wash twice and still worked fine! (I did have other backups though & I still use that drive today!.)

Option 3: Consider having two internal hard drives, especially if you have a lot of user data, especially big pictures or music files.

Most home computers generally all come with only one internal hard drive, which stores both software and user data. This means that this one single hard drive is experiencing a lot of wear and tear. Every time a program is launched it’s being accessed. Every single function that the operating system invokes will likely hit the hard drive etc. This heavy wear and tear can eventually lead to physical failures.

Also, many viruses are designed to hit the operating system & if the user data is on the same physical drive as the operating system, then it can be severely impacted by viruses as well. The disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t protect you from fire, flood or theft, etc, but it is probably the easiest way to automate backing up your files.

Option 4: Attach an external USB Hard Drive to the system

With the price of hard drives getting much cheaper, this is another really good option. By attaching an external USB hard drive to the system, special backup programs can be installed and scheduled to run over night. There are many cost effective backup programs available. Some will be built into your operating system and others are available free – search on the internet and you’ll find plenty of options. The advantage of the external drive is that your work is still physically separated from the main hard drive and can be taken off-site with you.

Option 5: Online backup service
The services are fairly inexpensive (typically about $5 a month), and the best ones won’t noticeably slow down your PC use or Web browsing (after the initial large upload, at least). They also encrypt your data before, during, and after it’s been sent to industrial-strength servers. There are no discs or USB drives to worry about, either. The service can start processing and uploading files automatically on a schedule or in the background when there are enough free cycles available.

How often should you make backups?

This really depends on what your data is. If you are only using your computer for emails and writing letters, perhaps once a week is sufficient. When you’re doing work for someone else, it’s wise to keep doing incremental backups as you go, every ten minutes, every hour perhaps. It’s a decision you need to make for your personal circumstances. I personally do my backups before I go away from my work area and every night. The main thing is, remember to DO IT!

Summary

  • You need to backup your user data in case of computer crash or fire or theft
  • Back-up frequently, as often as needed to make it easy to restore your work to where you were
  • Use at least two different methods
  • Keep one copy of your backup data away from the computer (prevent loss if fire or theft)

Hopefully this helped you become more aware of the importance of your data and the need to back it up.

The options presented here are the very same methods used by many highly experience data processing centers and can be easily adopted by the average computer user. The most important point to remember is that good planning for potential disasters is the best protection against loss of valuable user data. You may not think of it this way at first but the user data that you accumulate on your computer takes time to build up and acquire.

If you value your time then you’ll value your data. Your data has a lot of value. So why not take a few simple steps to protect it.

New Blog for Senior Computer Users

Hi everyone, welcome to the new blog.

The purpose of this blog is to create a community where folk of senior years and other beginner computer users can all learn from each other and support each other in our journey towards making more use of our computers and finding ways to earn extra income from them and from the internet.

For those unfamiliar with the word ‘blog’, it is derived from the term web log and is basically a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. These entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.

Blogs are a great way to involve people because they give everyone a chance to make comments on any material posted or to send in helpful answers to problems other members have written in about, so this blog will be replacing the newsletter that some of you were receiving.

Many of you don’t know me, so I’d like to introduce myself. I am a baby boomer, living in Queensland, Australia at present, but thanks to the internet, am in frequent contact with people all over the world. I have two daughters and three grandchildren living on the other side of Australia and the rest of my family living in New Zealand or scattered all over the globe. Naturally I am a frequent user of email & Skype to keep in contact with them. (For those who don’t know about, or use skype, it uses the internet to make long distance phone calls that are free to other skype users or allow you to ring someone’s regular phone very cheaply. We will be doing an article about skype and other similar systems, so stay tuned. If you register to receive email notification of new posts, you’ll get the news immediately this topic is posted.)

I have been a computer buff for twenty years or so after buying my first home computer. Believe it or not, it didn’t have a hard drive at all, just 2 single sided 5.25″ floppy disks and just a little amber screen about 150 x 100mm!

While not an expert in any area, over the years I have helped many, many people to learn how to use their computer better and about eight years ago I started giving structured, one-on-one computer lessons, mainly for seniors.

During this time, I came across a great number of people who had acquired a computer by various means, some by being given an outgrown desktop model from family members who had upgraded, or buying a cheaper PC (personal computer), new or second-hand for themselves or even, as my own mother has done, buying a laptop for the convenience of being able to use it anywhere (like in a warm room in winter!).

One of the things that saddened me was to find that many of these owners would like to get more use from their PC, but were scared to do much in case they damaged something; they didn’t know how to do more than just some of the basic tasks and in many cases, ended up only using these marvellous tools for email and playing patience (or solitaire, if that is how you know it). If this is you, don’t worry – playing solitaire is a great way to become proficient with your mouse!

Now that’s fine if you are happy to be just using your computer for email because it certainly allows you take keep in touch with distant relatives and friends almost instantly. However, for those who would like to take advantage of other functions and features, I’m hoping that the information in this blog, and the comments from others, will inspire you and bring you information and tools to assist you as you learn to make your computer work for you.

Learning can be great fun or it can be a drag, it all depends on how you approach it and what you want to get out of it. Naturally the reasons for people wanting to learn more will be many and varied so the plan is to present some projects/information for beginners and some in varying levels for more advanced users. I won’t be re-inventing the wheel, but will be bringing together ideas, games and projects devised by others into this blog, so that you have a base to work outwards from.

Working along alone is sometimes hard and we lose momentum and hope. I’ve found from personal experience that by belonging to a community of like-minded people, there’s nearly always someone ‘out there’ who can help with something you’re stuck on, or just to say ‘hey, I know what it’s like. I nearly gave up, but hang in there, try this and you’ll soon have the hang of it’.

Do you know that studies have shown that the point where most of us give up is when we are nearly there? I’m sure this resonates with some of you, it certainly did for me when I first heard it. So, hang in there, ask a question, make a post – just don’t feel isolated as there are thousands of people our age out there getting a great deal in so many ways from our PCs.

There will be articles from other senior clubs and forums, ‘how to’ articles, reviews of products and also a special area devoted to using your computer and the internet to earn money. I doubt that there is anyone, not matter what age, who would not find it useful to have another stream of residual income, so there will also be links to information, programs and products that could be helpful on your journey.

I would love to hear suggestions from readers on topics they’d like to learn about so please write your ideas in the ‘Suggest Ideas’ area. You also have the opportunity to make comments after any post. Perhaps add extra ideas or methods that have worked for you and would help others. If you think what is written is rubbish, you are free to say that also, but please abide by the rules, no spamming, no personal attacks and no offensive language.

It is my hope that by coming here often to check out what is on offer we can become a community that shares and grows together.

If you would like to be sent an email whenever there is a new post, enter you name and email address in the form on the home page.

Please be assured, this site is not primarily to push you to buy anything. I would be happy for you to join in, contribute your ideas and never buy a single thing, but please respect the position of others who may want to do so, especially if they are building an on-line business. I would not be where I am today without buying products and mentoring along the way so there will be space for featured & recommended products as well as helpful hints, ideas and general information here on the site. If any readers wish to contribute original articles, please email me.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes, Trish