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Conducting Your Online Business Checkup

I recently spoke with an online business owner about the creation of her ideal service business. She wanted to establish a practice with a higher-end clientele who can easily afford to pay her fees. She said that she had a hard time visualizing what a high-end successful practice looked like, because she had never seen one. I responded by telling her that she knew exactly what that kind of business looked like because it was her ideal business — and the vision of that looks very different to each online business owner.

For some online business owners, the ideal online business might be one in which the owner is spending much of her day working with 1:1 clients, interspersed with a few information product sales. For others, the ideal day might consist of implementing Internet marketing strategies to sell many information products, and only a small amount of time spent with high-fee 1:1 clients. The bigger vision to wrap your head around is how do you want to spend your day — your week — your year — your life? How much money do you want to make? How do you want to spend your time — with family, traveling, completing hobby projects, in relaxation, or working in your business?

There are no right or wrong answers here. The great part about being a self-employed service professional is that you have the freedom and the tools to create the perfectly designed business for you — to become a lifestyle entrepreneur, or lifepreneur, in which your life and your business work together in harmony so that you have adequate time and energy to devote to both . And, if that vision changes at some point, you can make changes accordingly.

For my business, that vision includes working many days in my bathrobe, spending time on the phone with hand-picked clients in 1:1 sessions where I get as energized as they do, writing content for additional information products, designing additional revenue streams for my business, enjoying a relaxed lunch while watching Samantha Brown’s travels on the Travel Channel, and spending time with my fiancee when his schedule allows. You won’t find me taking lots of exotic vacations or throwing wild parties or bragging about the new expensive car or house or clothing I just purchased –that’s not a part of who I am. I love the creative process I find through my work, and I find my work to be fun, so I treat my business as others might treat a treasured hobby. Flexibility is also important to me, as is being able to conduct ALL aspects of my business from my home office. I find myself becoming annoyed at even having to go to the Post Office to check my mail!

If your business isn’t developing the way you initially thought, take a long, hard look at your business vision and check to see how close you are the picture of your ideal business. Syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd says it best: “If you settle for less than you deserve, you’ll get even less than you settled for.” So, If you hate the travel component of your business, brainstorm ideas of how to take your information to your target market from your home office. If you’re burned out from working with 1:1 clients, strategize the possibilities of working with them in a group setting. If you want to take more time off, assess some passive revenue possibilities for your business. If you hate in-person networking events, discover where your target market hangs out online and develop relationships there.

Running a successful business isn’t easy — if it were, everyone would be doing it. And, it doesn’t happen overnight — many “overnight successes” have 5, 10, or more years of work that contributed to that “overnight success”. You deserve a full, thriving business — don’t settle for less! To make sure your online service business is on track, conduct a regular checkup of your online business, including:

1. Your service fee structure. Begin with the end in mind here in terms of what amount of money you need to live on for the year in way you’d like to or are accustomed to living and determine what you need to charge to live your life in this fashion. In a service business, your time is precious and should not be squandered. What is the client value of working 1:1 with you? Are you charging adequately for that privilege?

2. Your passive income strategy. What percentage of your business income do you want to derive from passive income streams? Have you devoted time during the course of your work week to develop these passive income streams?

3. Your invoicing and payment policies. Are there multiple ways clients can pay you (check, cash, debit/credit card)? When do you expect payment for a contract? How do you deal with late payments?

4. Your hours of operation. Are you working around the clock, or do you leave time for yourself to enjoy your life? What about vacation and family time? Are there procedures for dealing with clients who want you to work outside your scheduled work hours?

5. Your ideal client profile. Include descriptive adjectives of the characteristics of your ideal clients as well as more statistically-oriented details, such as what industry they’re in, what do they read, where do they hang our on- and off-line, what professional associations do they belong to, how much money do they make each year, what are their most pressing business management concerns. Do your current clients fit this profile? If not, you need to clean house and find clients that are a better fit for you and your business.

6. Kind of work you love to do. Don’t waste your time with tasks that aren’t fun or don’t tap into your special talents/gifts that come easily to you. Do what you do best, and delegate the rest.

Once you’ve reviewed these checkpoints, create an action plan that helps you move forward toward your ideal business vision. The president of the college where I once worked had this motto he established for all the administrative staff, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” You are the creator of your destiny, of your business, of your quality of life. If you are to have a successful online business, it is up to you to do it in the way that works well for you, brings you joy, and permits you to make a decent living in the process.

Minimizing Conflict In A Home Based Business

When the home has to be both a home and a business, conflict can occur. In order to operate a successful home-based business, there must be a separation between the home and the home-based business. Conflict is likely to occur when there is a breach in the home/home-based business barrier. In order for the business to operate smoothly and the family to live comfortably in their home, communication must be established between the family and the business owners. A family and business require individual attention when it comes to designating space for each. If this does not occur, then four areas of family functioning are likely to be affected.

The needs of the family should take priority over the needs of the home-based business. Before a home-based business can be launched, space needs to be set aside for operational purposes. The household should answer the following questions first: How much space will the home-based business require within the home? What does the family absolutely need from the space in the home? Will the space that will be set aside for the business cause the family extreme discomfort? Is there a way for you to create a space management plan for the household space that can accommodate both your family and your home-based business? Family cohesion shouldn’t be severely impacted by a home-based business.

When a business intrudes on the household space, it also intrudes on the time schedules of everyone within it. Operating a home-based business is particularly difficult for families who have full schedules that are fixed and interlocked. In an instance such as this, the business’s needs would take a back seat to the schedules of those who are running it. Personal and family time schedules tend to be disrupted by home-based businesses if the business is given first preference, and the business tends to suffer if the situation is reversed.

Perhaps the biggest conflict occurs when the family feels as if their space has been violated as a result of having a home-based business. Consider all of the needs of the business. Does the business need extensive storage space or an area for customers to pick up merchandise? If customers and workers are constantly parading through your family room while your family is trying to relax then they will likely feel as their space is being violated. Designate particular areas of the home that business can be done in. Office space can be used for meetings, paper work, and other such activities. If a pick up area is necessary, then the most public areas of the home should be used.

Separation of space between the home and the business is not only beneficial to the family and business, but it is necessary for tax purposes if you plan on taking off deductions for business expenses. You must decide if a part of the house has too many uses to be used for both family and business matters.

While there are millions of different types of home-based businesses, almost every one of them can be grouped into a category: production/service; consulting or counseling; sales or marketing and mail order. Every business has different needs. Think about what category your home-based business falls into and consider the amount of space will be needed. Storage space, space for office equipment, production space, an area to meet with clients, and an area for pick up and delivery should be factored into the division of space.

The area in which you operate your business also plays a role in the success of your business. Make sure that there are no county codes that prevent you from operating a business in your neighborhood. If your business generates a lot of traffic, then consider how your neighbors might take to this. A neighborhood with a lot of children who play in or near the streets or even in a culda-sac are likely to become concerned with safety if your business generates a lot of traffic. The hours that you operate your business may also conflict with the comfort of neighbors. Operating a business extremely early or very late may cause tension. Your business hours aren’t the only ones to consider; pick up and delivery can also be disruptive. Shipping and deliveries could be made to post office and you can pick them up from there in order to minimize neighborhood traffic.

How to Understand, Start and Run a Successful Home Based Travel Business

Why this is such an excellent choice for a home based business, and How To Get Started

Are you seeking information on a Home Business, or possibly you’ve read a whole lot and now you are trying to sort out what might be the BEST home based business? This is a long article, but stick with it all the way and we’re very confident you’ll have your answer(s).
Are you looking for the Best Home Based Business ? Recent polls show that over 70% of people who search the Internet are looking for such an opportunity. But does something like this really exist?

Here’s the problem: if you asked ten different people what the “best” home business was, you would probably get ten different answers. The truth of the matter is it really comes down to finding the best one for YOU.

We are all coming from a unique background. Each of us first has different wants and needs, and a want or need will determine what is best. Then we all have different abilities, and yes.. your abilities DO match up to what might be the best for YOU. What’s best for a friend or neighbor and might work for them might be a total mismatch for you. This article will give you a good insigte and provide a direction on what is one of the most universally agreed upon as a “Best” business.

We all have different interests and personalities, interests , abilities, and personalities. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We also come from all sorts of different circumstances. So it makes sense that not all of us are going to be interested in the same home based business model.

If there was truly ONE business that was for everyone, can you imagine how competitive that field would be? It would be VERY difficult for anyone to make any money!

You have probably seen advertisements all over the internet about THE #1 income making opportunity. Don’t get fooled by all the hype and so-called ways to make easy money. There is no such thing.

That’s where this article comes in. This article is NOT a comprehensive list of reviews of the thousands of home based business ideas out there. It’s an article that tells you some parameters of a good home based business, then discusses the travel industry. We give you the pros and cons both of a job and being in business; we tell you the history of our industry, and then why it’s so good and the place to be right now as it rides two major trends: Travel and the Internet.

I have researched and tried (sometimes failing miserably) many home based businesses, both online and in the real world, BUT, I have found and chosen something that is a legitimate way to make a great income from home. That’s what this is about. It’s a great fit for me, but because you are NOT me and probably have a different personality (thank heaven!), it may not be for you.. and that’s ok. But if you see things as I do, and as is presented here…

The best home based business for ME is a HOME BASED TRAVEL BUSINESS. I know it will also be for many of you.

But other than the fact that I’m just a normal, ordinary guy with no special talents.. and in fact, I’m probably older than most readers at 69 and I started this just last year, this article is not about me. It only points out that about anyone can easily get involved in the home based travel business. This is about YOU and what YOU want from life and your “working hours”, whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, a retiree, or any other category.

So the question becomes, out of all the various choices: Why start a online travel business?

We are going to discuss first the “Why”, then a little about the various types, and then the “how”. This will take some time, so grab a beverage of your choice and read on. In fact, I suggest you print this out while the coffee is brewing so you can really digest it. Mark it up. Pencil in questions.. and let’s get going!

First and foremost, when choosing a home based business, it’s really important to ask yourself “Why” are you doing this, and are you prepared to take it seriously and treat it like a business? That means regular hours of commitment of time and a commitment of money as any and all businesses you own are going to require some degree of investment.

This is probably as good of a time as any to differentiate between a JOB and a Business. ..

A job, including a home based “job” is one where you are going to essentially be trading time for money, and the assumption is that you have an employer of some sort who is going to pay you either on a dollar value per hour spent, or some dollar value for certain production. That production could be sales production as it often is; it could be manufacturing production, or it could be service production.. so many envelopes stuffed; so many calls made, so many of about anything done. That person is going to pay you for that, but you know that person or company is only doing this because they are going to make a certain amount of money on you. You are essentially paid what the job is worth; what the employer could get a replacement for you for. Regardless of your skills, you are not being paid what YOU are worth, but what the job is worth. For accepting this, you get some degree of security knowing that if you do “the assignment” or “the job” you are going to receive a certain, predictable amount of money. You may even receive some benefits. But the “security” is a joke because everyone knows that there is very little security. First the employer must remain in business. He must have a market for whatever it is you are doing, and markets change.

Next, your value is relative! Maybe that employer has a cousin who would like to do your job, or maybe someone comes along willing to do your job for less money. How secure are you? People tell me every day, “I don’t want the risks of a business.” Guess again everyone! You certainly have RISK as an employee as well!. And as to investment… well, many businesses have employee borne expenses, and even the IRS recognizes this. It’s just that there are SOME “out there” that don’t require any CASH investment, but don’t kid yourself.. you ARE making an investment, only it’s hidden in the fact you’re paying it in work and in the sense that you’re not being paid as much as you might if you absorbed certain expenses yourself.

In contrast, a BUSINESS, including a home based business, is one where you choose and control what ever it is your business makes or does. It could be virtually anything, and probably the best business is one where you control the product or service. Here on the internet, Information products are tops; these are followed by service products. Then comes those things you manufacture or make, and finally, there’s the category of items someone else controls but makes available to you for resale. Affiliate programs fall into this category. But you really need to be aware that if you are going to have a BUSINESS you are going to have business expenses, even a homebased business. These are the expenses of the office first, and then you may need to have some product or have been a user of some of the service so you truly KNOW what you have and can do business from a credible point. The product or service should be one of value that if you were the buyer, you’d consume it yourself at retail. Watch the line though… you don’t want to is get into a business where you are required to purchase X dollars amount of product every month, whether you can use this or not. That’s not a legitimate business.

Depending on your philosophy, you’ll probably agree that it is very important to choose a business that interests you. Pick one that you will enjoy doing, ideally something you are passionate about. Think about it, if you are going to start a business from home, it makes sense to choose something that you will enjoy. And if you enjoy it, then you’ll probably learn more quickly and have your heart more into it when the going is tough.

But we’d put just a couple things ahead of this and put “enjoyment” as a luxury. Those things are market size and market growth. Where is your business product or service in terms of life cycle? Is your market expanding and you can ride a wave, or is it declining. And what is the market size and potential. Will there be a business available for you in 5 years? Ten?

Then lastly, we’d probably mention that the business should be ethical and compatible with what you believe. Many people who research businesses, particularly Internet businesses, know that the porn and gambling industry meets the criteria of growth and market size. You may be tempted to look in those areas, and if you are, kindly close this report or article and tear up you paper copy. This is not a part of the business world we want anything to do with. Money and income is just not that important to us.

After evaluating many, many, many businesses and participating in several since 1969, including an early successful involvement with Amway, then Free Life, and a couple others, including a few that just didn’t “go” for us, we became aware of the opportunities in the online travel business. This is a business model that has just evolved over the past few years, and is now in full momentum.

It is also important to be a part of trends. Fortunes are made by riding trends. Currently, travel is a trend to the tune of 6 trillion dollars a year! By 2010, that number is estimated to be 14 trillion dollars!

Think of all the baby boomers that will be retiring in the coming years. And what do people like to
do when they retire? What would you like to do when you retire? If you’re like me, travel is probably very near the top of that list.

That is why the travel industry provides the perfect business for opportunity seekers. It is simply taking advantage of a trend that is just starting to gain momentum. When looked at as a home based business, it rides the second trend: the growth of the Internet as a business medium.

Let’s look at how and why this has evolved into a viable Internet Based Travel Business.

People “booking travel” for others has evolved possibly in three stages. We also should consider the two major market segments: Business travel and personal or leisure travel, and in the later category, we’d include as a very close association, travel and leisure and recreational activities and lodging. We are going to focus on personal leisure travel and recreational travel market.

STAGE 1: Probably dates back about 75-80 years when the primary mode was train and ocean liner. There were no condos, few motels, and little air travel. But there were many lodges and luxury hotels. We’ve all heard of the Biltmore and others. And there was some degree of business travel, but not to the extent we had a few years ago before travel (particularly sales meetings) became so expensive. Other than those vacations to places like Atlantic City, travel was really more in the hands of the more wealthy part of the population, and most of THOSE people just did not want to be bothered making their own arrangements, or even checking places out. A small cadre of “travel agents” was born, although they probably had many more duties along the line of concierge, personal assistant, etc. In large companies, specialists were brought on board to do those arrangements… and seek out bargains and discounts for their companies.

STAGE 2: Now we have more cars, the DC-3 and early airlines are starting to emerge. We have reliable telephones; we have some early forms of fax but the telegram was the primary means of communication on short notice as mail took longer, and people are becoming aware that they can earn money booking travel for others. Providing essentially two services: Knowledge of destinations and Administrative tasks such as actually buying the travel arrangements on behalf of a third party. That third party could be a business or an individual.

Natural business evolution follows and at first small partnerships were formed because now two people might have the knowledge and experience of two different travel destinations, but as a single entity (the travel agency) be able to offer clients more options. Then this single agency could bring more volume to a travel provider such as an airline, hotel, etc than a single person, and hence negotiate better discounts, or as more often was the case, better commissions as not all discounts got passed on. Everyone benefited.

Airline traffic was particularly challenging to book, and in the late parts of Stage 2, computers began to come more and more into play, although they were both expensive and highly specialized. The affordable home computer had not yet really evolved and there were limited travel networks. Travel agencies could afford these computer systems and gain access to the various vendors, which at that time were mainly airlines, and book travel conveniently and easily. This was about to change!

STAGE 3: Change took place almost over night. The airlines deregulated as one part, and competition evolved to a point where commissions were almost non existent to the agencies. The Internet and access to travel databases within the airlines and hospitality industry literally exploded into being, and now EVERYONE had at least almost nearly equal administrative access to the services and could bypass the agencies which started going out of business at an alarming rate. The one thing certain agencies DID retain was a cadre of people who HAD traveled and did have personal experience with various providers… resorts, cruise lines, etc. But as profits to the providers themselves started to decline, so did the availability of FAM trips, and there were fewer agencies.

But along with this evolved another trend! The population is growing and there’s more travelers available, particularly in the leisure market than ever. And many of these travelers just don’t have the time to really do the research, or even to truly shop for the best and lowest costs.

But individuals devoted to and loving to travel such as stay at home moms in travel find that they can provide the same services that the old large agencies did!

All they needed was a vendor willing to work with them, and at this time, new vendors started to emerge.

The emergence is primarily in the area of recreation and resorts as unlike the airlines which have cut back and in many cases have a SHORTAGE of seats and product, resorts (and cruise lines) have continued to build and expand where today, they have an excess or surplus of inventory except for very limited times of the year.

The question becomes: How do we fill these empty rooms? These empty staterooms? These empty golf courses? These unused campsites?

The answer is: Through You!

But you don’t know where they are, or how to negotiate the pricing.. but a newly evolved list of consolidators do! Currently there are three major consolidator groups doing business in the USA, and one stands out above the other two as it has more contacts, more experience, more inventory, and essentially a better pay plan offering the customer more options. What YOU have is a list of contacts or the knowledge and time to introduce the traveling public to these options. Because you are working with the suppliers of SURPLUS inventory who is willing to fill these vacancies at deeply discounted rates, you can pass these rates on, if only you knew how to get your hands on them.

Actually, about anyone can get their hands on any one location at any time at a discount, and many people have been doing that using services such as Orbitz, Travelocity, and others But these are very sharply targeted and focused, and deal much more with just hotels, car rentals, and to some extent, airline travel. One can pick up a major magazine or metro newspaper and find condos for rent from owners, at discounts. But again, this is very limited.

How Do You Get Started?

First, you learn about the 3 major consolidator firms offering travel, and if you just let the word out that you are looking for a homebasd travel agency or company, you’ll find that these people find you very quickly. Or you can do an Internet search using terms like that and find them. Most of the firms have a fairly similar makeup in that they are offering an entire travel package or membership for a fee. This entitles the purchaser to the inside track on deeply discounted travel services.

If they are essentially all the same, what do you look for? We focus in a legitimate business first on product, so we look for product value. We look for a company with flexibility and a product mix. Not all people want to travel internationally, so is there just a domestic package? What is offered that you or your customer can do when they get to a destination? Are there name resort and theme parks? Golfing? How about great meal discounts, as we all “eat out” when we travel? We know cruising is “big” but we know the cruise lines vary from very family oriented to “swinging singles”. Is there a good mix? How about time limitations on the travel package?

As a business, what kind of support tools are available? Training is a must, and is it real, and in real time, with real live people you can talk to and ask questions of? A solid, reliable web site is a must. Does the firm you are looking to join provide one? None will do a good site free, but is this a fair and reasonable cost?

Will you have access to a personal mentor? Can you become a certified, card carrying travel agent as well if you want?

These are but a few of the questions.

The “How Do You Get Started” in the home based travel industry is best summarized by 3 words: “Do Your Homework”

Well, now that you know some of the history, let’s look at a couple more things, starting with some of the advantages of this, particularly in comparison to other options you may have selling nutritional products, informational products, skin care, diet products, or many others.

Aside from the money making potential in our industry, there are many other advantages.

It is easy to start. This facet never ceases to blow me away With the invention of the internet, businesses that have traditionally always been brick and mortar establishments are now available to all of us. The internet makes it easy for everyday people like you and me to start a small business online. We can reach people all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the comfort of our own home. People can be checking out your business while you are sleeping, on vacation, or whatever. Phone services like Skype let us actually talk to people all over the world (one of us might be sacrificing some sleep due to time zone differences, but technically, it’s possible!)

Your business is relatively inexpensive to start, particularly compare to a more standard travel agency business. Because you no longer need a regular office, insurance, and employees, businesses. In fact, if you set up a legitimate IRS qualifying home office, many of the costs you have at your current home now become tax deductible (see your accountant, and if you don’t have one.. get one. Maybe you can even barter some travel services for HIS services).

Your potential clients include almost everyone. Who doesn’t like to travel or need a vacation? And if the economy slows, your business grows! Previous travelers who thought nothing of paying full price now start to look for discounts.

You can save a lot of money on your own travel.

What’s the point of owning a business if you don’t get some fringe benefits? With a home based travel business, you become eligible for some incredible discounts. And because you are your own boss, you will have more free time to go on vacation and take advantage of these discounts.

Is there a downside to a home based travel business? Sure, there is in any business.

Travel is a very competitive industry.
In order to have an edge, you have to differentiate yourself from the rest by branding yourself with a superior product. Those who read this article and find a specific interest and contact us as the author will be given some very specific knowledge on how to do this and succeed.

Other than that, I have not come across any other disadvantages to a home based travel business.

We hope you have found this article to be greatly helpful and look forward to seeing a few of you join us in this exciting industry soon.