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05/07/2010
IconLittle Adventures - "Adorable Dress Ups at an Affordable Price" By Jenny Farnsworth www.littleadventures.com As a mother of five, it is a challenge to make ends meet each month. I ran a day care business for two years so I could remain home with my children. As a day care provider, I discovered how much children love to dress up. I went out to purchase some dress ups but was very disappointed. There were no dress ups on the market that met the needs of an active child. I decided to design dress ups for children that were made of quality fabrics, were washable and comfortable. I tried them out on my own children as well as the day care kids. The children loved them so much that many mothers expressed an interest in purchasing them. I saw this as a great opportunity to create a way to get out of the daycare business once and for all. I approached my friend Heather, the mother of one of the children in my day care, with the idea of starting a dress up business. It has not been easy. Pregnant with my fifth child, I have memories of Heather and I sewing hundreds of costumes in the basement after the kids had gone to bed. Sometimes we were nearly in tears. The machines never seemed to cooperate when we were facing deadlines. Broken needles and jammed threads frustrated our efforts. To help us get through the struggles, our husbands tried to make us laugh and helped out a little more at home. There were times we wondered if our business was going to fail, which would have forced me to return to daycare or find employment elsewhere. I desperately wanted to stay at home with my kids and that motivated me to push my own limits. Heather and I decided to look into a local factory where we could turn the sewing over to someone else freeing us up to grow our business. In order to utilize a factory, we faced minimum requirements which meant large, expensive fabric purchases on our tight budget. I remember the big freight truck arriving and filling my driveway with fabrics in every color of the rainbow. I sat next to the pile wondering what I was going to do with all that fabric if our business did not succeed. Amazingly, that fabric was quickly sewn into hundreds of costumes that all sold. In fact, we outgrew the factory and were forced into other options. We currently have our dress ups sewn at a factory dedicated to our products in a small town in Idaho where the economy is depressed and many people are in need of jobs. We also employ five stay-at-home moms to make our accessories. Here we are two and a half years later. We are able to be full time moms to our seven kids. Although we are up late with the business (as most work begins after bedtime hugs) and up early with the kids, we wouldn#146;t have it any other way. We love what we do and are proud to say that We are our kids' moms! We believe that no matter the circumstances, all little girls are princesses and deserve to feel special. We have seen the joy of our own little girls as they dance and play as princesses. We would like to share that same experience with Dr. Laura#146;s kids and allow some to escape their circumstances, if only for a moment, and become princesses. We consider it an honor to donate to Dr. Laura#146;s "My Stuff Bags" program. We hope that as our at-home business continues to grow, our donations will be able to grow as well. Little Adventures Email: info@litteadventures.com Wholesale Website: www.littleadventures.com Retail eBay store: www.stores.ebay.com/mydressuptrunk?refid=stores Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSome Really Cool Things I Learned At Ebay Live! By Cliff Ennico cennico@legalcareer.com If you are selling stuff on eBay, and missed last weekend#146;s eBay Live! conference in New Orleans (co-sponsored by eBay and Entrepreneur magazine), shame on you! More than 12,000 of your competitors were there, and they came away with some great advice about how to build their eBay businesses from over 100 of America#146;s leading business experts (including myself, who spoke on how to avoid being sued by disgruntled buyers). When not speaking myself, I tried to attend as many of the classes, workshops and roundtable discussions as I could. Here are some of the best tips I picked up: To see some of the weirdest things being sold on eBay, go to the home page and type #147;one of a kind#148; or #147;OOAK#148; into the search engine (Jim #147;Griff#148; Griffith, author of #147;The Official eBay Bible#148;) #150; a warning, though, some of this stuff is not for the squeamish When choosing #147;keywords#148; to advertise your auction sites on the popular search engines (such as Google or Yahoo!), do not use somebody else#146;s registered trademark, as the trademark owner can sue you for infringement (Catherine Seda, author of #147;Search Engine Advertising#148;) Don#146;t rely on accountants to tell you about all the tax deductions you can take when running an eBay business; you will be able to deduct more than most accountants will allow if you learn the rules yourself (Barbara Weltman, author of #147;J.K. Lasser#146;s Small Business Taxes 6th edition#148;) More than 20 states have adopted legislation in support of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SSTP), which requires out-of-state vendors such as eBay sellers to charge sales tax when selling to in-state consumers; a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision forbids states from enforcing the SSTP, but legislation is pending in Congress to reverse this decision and allow states to pursue out-of-state vendors who don#146;t comply with the SSTP (Steve DelBianco, Executive Director of the NetChoice Coalition) When hiring employees, don#146;t look for #147;safe#148; people #150; people you know won#146;t sue you if things don#146;t work out; instead, hire the #147;right#148; people for your business and learn to manage them the right way so lawsuits won#146;t happen (Eric Winegardner, Director of Product Certification for monster.com) Don#146;t just list your auction on eBay#146;s site in the United States; for a small additional fee, you can list your auction on each of eBay#146;s overseas sites and reach millions of overseas buyers who don#146;t frequent the U.S. site (John and Kim Kincaid, CollectorBookstore.com) According to a recent survey, 83% of eBay buyers won#146;t even look at your auction site unless you have posted a digital photo of the item you are selling (#147;Beginning Digital Photography#148;, a free handout from the Hewlett-Packard Corporation) By listing your auction site with eBay Giving Works, you can donate a portion of each sale to your favorite charity (#147;eBay Giving Works#148;) Consider changing your eBay user name to your Website address #150; that way people interested in your auction listings can visit your Website and see what else you#146;ve got for sale that isn#146;t on eBay (Chris Murch, President of the eBay Radio Network) If you still don#146;t think eBay isn#146;t #147;big business#148; these days, more than 100 entrepreneurs rented booths on the trade show floor at eBay Live! to talk about the resources they provide for eBay sellers. Some of the more interesting exhibitors I talked to were: The Disabled Online Users Association (DOUA), a nonprofit organization formed to helped handicapped people start eBay businesses out of their homes iSold ItTM, a nationwide franchise of eBay consignment shops formed to help sellers who don#146;t have Internet access, can#146;t figure out how a digital camera works, or otherwise do not want to list their auctions themselves Diane Kennedy#146;s TaxLoopholesTM, which provides a three-day #147;tax strategy camp#148; to teach eBay sellers about all of the business tax deductions they can take TalkinAuction.com, which helps you add audio commentary to your eBay auction listings WhatsItWorthToYou.com, which will review digital photos of your merchandise and give you online appraisals of specific items for $9.95 each MyStoreCredit.com, which helps you offer #147;in-store credits#148; to successful bidders in your eBay auctions that they can use if they bid successfully in your future auctions FreightQuote.com, which calculates the shipping charges for your eBay merchandise and helps you post a #147;calculator#148; on each auction listing so your buyers can figure out the shipping, handling and insurance charges without your having to do it for them #150; really useful if you are running lots of auctions and don#146;t want to calculate shipping for each one separately. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2004 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconCreative Ways to Raise Money To Start a Home Based Business Carrie Lauth is a work from home Mom of 3 If you're like many women who want to start a home based business, one of the things that may be stopping you is a lack of funds. While there are many new Network Marketing and Direct Sales businesses that are free to join, it will take at least some money to get things rolling...money for business cards, inexpensive marketing and advertising methods, postage, your own personal products to experiment with, samples, etc. Even if you are starting an online business that markets a service, or that has no physical product, you will need money for domain name registration, web site hosting, low cost advertising and the like. Here are some ideas for raising the needed capital. Get a loan Do you have a relative who would loan you the money to get started? What about that Great Aunt who always said you'd be great in your own business? How about Mom or Grandma? Perhaps they would accept barter (your new product, for instance...good rejection-proof way to get them hooked on it!) in lieu of repayment? Does Grandma have a shed full of stuff that she's been wanting to sell on eBay but doesn't have the energy? Would Mom like to have her house cleaned for the next few months? Ask your sponsor for help If you join a MLM (Multi Level Marketing company) ask your upline sponsor if they would consider buying the starter kit for you, and then taking the profits from your first parties or commission checks as repayment? Some sponsors do this already, but if not, she may be so impressed with your drive to succeed that she will say yes. Have a yard sale This is what I did to get started in my business. This one has twofold benefits...you're making some extra cash but also have a captive audience of people coming to you! If you're really energetic, go around to your neighbors and tell them that if they leave their castaways in a box on the curb, you will come pick them up. Do this before your sale. Slap a price tag on the merchandise and cha-ching! Be sure to make a sign advertising your new product or service and plenty of flyers or business cards to give to each shopper. Sell some stuff on eBay Sell things from your own home (name brand kid's clothes and popular book titles are easy and almost always pull a good price). Go to library book sales and buy books for .10 or .25 and list those. Use your my eBay page to advertise your new website! Release the clutter, sell a useless piece of furniture or item in your home For me, it was the dusty electric guitar. Kitchen appliances (you know what I'm talking about here!) that were going to make your life easier, exercise equipment that makes you feel guilty when you trip over it... Use the money you receive from your tax return Pre-sell the product I got this one from my beloved Kim Klaver. Go around to your tribe (the people who love you enough to do anything you say), your coworkers, neighbors, playgroup Mommies, and show them a "picture" of the product, tell them what it does, collect the checks, deposit them and order your product. You buy the product wholesale and they pay the retail price so you make a profit. Do a quick, temporary odd job A friend of mine just did this one. She put a sign up at a local health food market that said "Non-toxic cleaning services". (Notice that she created a niche). That day she got a call, did a job for an elderly women and made $150. Of course, she used her own nontoxic cleaning product and will probably end up getting a customer out of the deal too! Babysitting for a couple of weeks, dogsitting, housesitting...you get the picture. Talk to your husband Notice I'm leaving this one until last! Hopefully you have the kind of relationship where your husband will be overjoyed that you want to improve your financial standing. If you garner his support in the beginning he is much more likely to be helpful along your journey, with the inevitable ups and downs of business life. Carrie Lauth is a work from home Mom of 3. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSome Tough Questions About "Business Opportunities" By Cliff Ennico This week#146;s crop of e-mails all have to do with buying a #147;business opportunity#148;, and the pitfalls of doing so. #147;I was approached at a trade show recently by a man who is a leading computer consultant for large companies. This man told me he had an arrangement with several #145;apprentices#146; who were learning the business under his guidance. The man assigns one or more #145;apprentices#146; to work for his clients. He bills the clients for each hour an #145;apprentice#146; works, and remits all the hourly fees to the #145;apprentice#146; except for $5,000 a month, which this man keeps as a training fee. Is this legal?#148; This arrangement falls squarely into the definition of a #147;business opportunity#148;. Generally, a business opportunity is any kind of investment program in which you are offered a chance to act as a distributor, marketing agent or reseller for a company#146;s products or services. While the most common business opportunities involve vending machines (you buy the machines from the seller, find locations for them, and stock them with the seller#146;s stuff in exchange for a portion of the proceeds), and farm animals (you buy a training kit and supplies, raise the animals in your back yard, and sell the animals back to the seller for slaughter when they#146;re fully grown), any type of #147;distributor#148; or #147;affiliate program#148; arrangement can be a #147;business opportunity#148; if it#146;s not put together carefully. Business opportunities often must register with state government agencies (see next question) and comply with a host of state laws designed to protect consumers against fraudulent investments, and I#146;ll betcha this guy hasn#146;t done any of that. I#146;m particularly troubled by the $5,000-a-month fixed fee, which #147;apprentices#148; must pay regardless of the number of hours they actually work. What happens if this guy doesn#146;t give them enough work to cover the $5,000 fee #150; do the #147;apprentices#148; pay the training fee out of their own pockets? I also think there#146;s a serious chance the #147;apprentices#148; will be considered #147;employees#148; of this man for tax purposes, since he determines where and when they work, and how much they get paid. Next time you see him, show him this column, and tell him he needs to talk to a lawyer, pronto. #147;I am thinking of buying a business opportunity, and have just recently learned that the business opportunity has not registered in my state, as the law requires it to do. The process will take months, though, and I really want to get going. What is my exposure if I go ahead and buy into the business opportunity anyway?#148; Most states require business opportunities to register with a state government agency (usually the same one that regulates offerings of securities in the state) and/or disclose certain information to people, before they are allowed to sell the opportunity to state residents. While these laws impose fines and penalties on a business opportunity that fails to comply, they are often quite vague about the consequences to the person who buys an unregistered business opportunity. Most state laws I#146;m aware of allow an unhappy purchaser to obtain a full refund of his money within a period of time (usually six months or 1 year) after learning that a business opportunity hadn#146;t registered. This #147;rescission right#148; usually disappears, however, if you knew at the time you bought into the business opportunity that it wasn#146;t registered. Since you know this business opportunity isn#146;t registered in your state, you probably will not be able to get your money back if it turns out to be a sham. But be careful: if the business opportunity wants you to solicit other prospective purchasers in your state, you may be legally responsible for registering the business opportunity with your state government, and paying the fees out of your own pocket. You may also be subject to the same fines and penalties as the out-of-state company if they catch you selling an unregistered business opportunity within the state. #147;I am looking into a business opportunity where I buy vending machines and lease them to area businesses. I#146;m a little nervous, though. They want a lot of money up front for their training materials, plus I have to pay cash when buying the machines from them. When I talk to the president, it#146;s always on his personal cell phone. The company address is a P.O. Box, they don#146;t have a Website, and the e-mail address is at America Online. How can I find out more information about this business opportunity?#148; I think you have all the information you need about this one, pal. Walk . . . no, run away as fast as you can. This one has #147;F-R-A-U-D#148; written all over it. If you buy into this, I foresee a basement full of vending machines you can#146;t give away, and a very angry spouse. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2004 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconStickers of the Month Club By Diane Rosenberg www.creativemailings.net Listening to Dr. Laura gave me the strength to quit my job and open my own business. I started listening to Dr. Laura about 8 years ago when my husband walked out on me and our sons who were 1 and 2 at the time. He left us with nothing. I was in an expensive house with a new car and two babies to feed. My dream was to be a stay-at-home mom so I could raise my children, but to my dismay my dream was suddenly shattered. In search of a job I found a sales position selling advertising. Working in sales provided me with flexible hours so I could take time off to be with my kids for all of their activities. I tried to run my life as if I was a stay at home mom. Things were pretty good, I made good money and the kids were growing up to be wellbehaved happy children until about two years ago when my company was bought out.Unfortunately, the new company had no tolerance for families. I tried to side step them for a while but eventually I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life and how I would support myself and the kids. I could have looked for another position in another company but the nausea I felt every time I considered it made me realized that that wasn#146;t the right thing to do either. So I started my own home business. It#146;s a sticker of the month club for children 3 to 6 years of age. It is similar to a magazine subscription but instead of getting magazines the children receive stickers each month. Both kids and parents love it and it provides hours of entertainment. I love it because I can finally live my dream and my kids love having me home. Plus, they tell me that I#146;m calmer now that I#146;m not working outside of the home. Proof that when you enjoy your work and you#146;re home raising your children the entire family benefits. I came up with the idea when my oldest son turned 3 years old. A friend gave my son stickers as a birthday gift and said that he would be receiving them each month. This was what inspired me to eventually start my own Sticker of the Month Club. One of the first things I observed when my son received his stickers was that he didn#146;t get very many each month and several of them were duplicates from previous months. I knew I could do a better job and I thought it would be fun. I kept everything that this company sent me and put it away in my cabinet. From time to time I would mention the idea to friends and family and everyone shrugged at the idea and said it wouldn#146;t make any money. But, when my employer changed for the worse the stickers of the month idea just started sounding better and better. It took seven years for me to gain the strength to say #147;I can do this and it#146;s a good idea and it will work!#148; As soon as I made up my mind and decided that starting the stickers of the month club was my goal I had to figure out what to do first. I knew I needed to come up with a name for my company that was catchy and would let people know what I was selling. The name I decided on was Creative Mailings. Once you choose a name, you need to find out if the area you reside in needs youto have a business license and if you need to register your company name. Whenyou do this you also need to publish a fictitious name in a local paper. Make sure you check the cost for several different newspapers because some of the local papers are very pricey. The next thing that you might want to do is get a business phone line. I have a localand an 800 number. When you do this you should really sit down and plan out how andwhere in your home you will operate your business it is best to set a separate corner orroom aside just for your business. You will also need to get a sellers permit and a business bank account. I think it#146;simportant to keep your business expenses separate from your personal spending. The toughest challenge for me was getting money to finance my business venture. I looked into all sorts of loans and decided to take out an equity line of credit. That worked best for me because I wasn#146;t sure exactly how much money I would need. This allowed me to take a little out at a time and only pay for the amount that I borrowed. My monthly payment was much smaller than if I had taken a loan for a large amount. A few other things I had to find were vendors for merchandise, a good graphic artist to design a flyer or a brochure, a website and ways to advertise and promote my business. After you get your feet wet you will start revamping your ideas because you will findthat things that sounded so great in your head when you were getting started sometimes are not that great in reality. You may want to find a person who has a business to be your mentor or the Small Business Association has information to help you get started so you can develop a thriving business. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconGolden Tennis Shoes by Chellie Campbell #147;To do good marketing, you want to attract the people you want#133;and repel the people you don#146;t want!#148;#151;Unknown If there#146;s one thing I#146;ve learned traveling along this life#146;s highways and byways, is that in all things it is best to completely be yourself. Take a stand for yourself, choose your likes and dislikes, and stand proudly in them. When you are clearly you, other people will see it and know you for who you are. This simplifies life immeasurably. Your people will be drawn to you more quickly, and the other people will pass you by. I was thinking about this as I drove to the Jonathan Club downtown Los Angeles, to speak to the Los Angeles Chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). I was dressed in my usual #147;Give-a-speech-costume#148;#151;blouse, blazer, pants and gold tennis shoes. Mind you, I wear gold tennis shoes all the time. I have casual gold tennies that have a quilted pattern and gold beads for everyday wear, but for speeches, I wear my dressy gold tennis shoes that have rhinestones all over them. I had thought briefly of wearing #147;real shoes#148; to this event, since this was a rather corporate environment, but then I decided just to stick with my usual style. Wouldn#146;t you know, my momentary hesitation manifested itself in a challenge issued to me by one of the Jonathan Club employees in the lobby. #147;Excuse me, miss,#148; he said frowning disapprovingly at my feet, #147;but we don#146;t allow tennis shoes in our club.#148; Oops! Caught already. I grinned up at him and said, #147;I#146;m terribly sorry, but I am the speaker this evening and this is my costume!#148; He wasn#146;t buying it. #147;Don#146;t you have any other shoes?#148; he inquired. #147;No,#148; I shrugged, #147;not with me.#148; Oh, dear, I thought, am I going to be thrown out? Barred from the club? My eyes widened and I said, #147;You know, I#146;m sure your dress code means tennis shoes as in gym shoes. These are clearly not gym shoes#151;they are gold mesh, dressy shoes with diamonds on them!#148; He paused for a long moment as he thought this over. It must have made sense to him, because he said, #147;Okay#133;but hurry!#148; He wanted me out of his jurisdiction as soon as possible, and I was happy to oblige him as I scurried upstairs to the meeting room. The meeting was fabulous with lots of great people#151;no one else in tennis shoes, I noted. (They must have been tipped off to the dress code.) The reactions to my gold shoes are always very interesting. Lots of people smile and comment how they just love my shoes, how comfortable they look, etc. I know these are #147;my people.#148; And of course, some people don#146;t like them#151;one woman told me after the talk that I should look more professional if I was going to talk about a serious subject like money. I just smiled, because I think that#146;s one of the problems I#146;m trying to solve#151;that people are too serious about money. So don#146;t judge me until you walk a mile in my gold tennis shoes. Today#146;s Affirmation: #147;I am a powerful, fun-filled person, swinging passionately through the chandeliers of life!#148; Chellie Campbell is the author of The Wealthy Spirit: Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction , selected as one of Dr. Laura#146;s book recommendations in March, 2003. She created and teaches the Financial Stress Reductionreg; Workshops on which her book is based in the Los Angeles area and gives programs throughout the country. Her free e-newsletter is available at www.thewealthyspirit.com . Permission granted for use on Dr.Laura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAvoiding Home Business "Time Wasters" by copy; 2004 Priscilla Y. Huff We all have the same 24 hours in a day -- but some of us make better use of those hours better than others -- especially when it comes to managing a home business#146; operations amidst all the other demands on our lives. What are some examples of #147;time-wasters#148; and causes of wasting one#146;s time? Having work-related items scattered about the house and not keeping or returning those work-related items in the office area where they belong! Solution: When possible, conduct most of your business work in your home office or space. If you do have to take it out of the room, return it immediately when you are finished so important papers or phone numbers or other work-related items do not become misplaced or #147;buried#148; amongst household #147;piles.#148; Unnecessary telephone usage can be a large disruption in one#146;s work schedule. Solution: Thankfully, phones#151;ground lines or cellular phones#151;are easily set-up to take messages. Unless you are expecting an important call, let voice mail or another answering system handle your calls and then periodically return them all in one block of time Not setting specific work hours. Solution: If you set specific times for your work#151;while factoring in scheduled breaks and allowing some extra time for unexpected interruptions#151;you will be accomplishing the #147;must do#148; tasks in your business #147;space#148; where you can focus better in accomplishing them. Not having a plan of action. Solution: You can create a daily #147;to do#148; list from a weekly plan you can draw-up each weekend. Prioritize business and personal chores; but be realistic about how many tasks you can actually accomplish. Do not overwhelm yourself with too many duties or you will become frustrated when you cannot achieve all that you hoped to do for the day. The Clutter!! Solution: Hire or (or barter time with) a professional organizer! I hired one and together we filled 4 frac12; trash bags from my files and office space!! If you cannot find one in your area, go to the site of the National Association of Professional Organizers www.napo.net to find one in your area. Additional Tips One time management expert says, home business owners and managers should learn their own personal time wasters. Once known, they can then be eliminated.#148; Other time-management experts suggest that you set apart blocks of time to carry out specific tasks. For example, block out specific days and hours to run business and/or personal errands and assign yourself as many as you can do into your designated time period in order to save time and gas money. Keep a time diary of all your activities for a week and then closely analyze your most productive work times. Take advantage of technology#151;PDAs, software, daily planners, and other organizational aids to assist you in your time management. Do you have a "time-waster," of which you are guilty? Mine is being on the Internet too long (even though I write for a number of Internet sites!). I find that if I go online at the end of my workday or at least until I finish the most important tasks of the day, I am more productive and less likely to #147;wander#148; around in cyberspace. The challenge here of every home or small business entrepreneur is to find his or her own #147;balance#148; of business and personal-related tasks. It may take a while -- but believe it or not, you will find the best schedule that fits your business and your life! It goes without saying, that even with the best daily plan, life #147;happens#148; and is filled with unexpected #147;surprises; but that is one of the great advantages of being self-employed -- flexibility. Unlike most 9 to 5 jobs, you can pick up your child from school when they are suddenly sick or miss their bus, and re-schedule a task at a later time or day. Being aware of how you use your time can increase your business#146; productivity, profits, and organization, while helping you also find more time for yourself and for those people who are most important to you. FOR MORE INFORMATION Books: Home Based Business Mom: A Practical Guide to Time Management and Organization for the Working Woman by Juli Shulem (Newhoff Publishing) (out of print, but look for copies in your local public or college library). Home Management 101:A Guide for Busy Parents by Debbie Williams www.organizedtimes.com Internet sites: Organized U.com. www.organizedu.com www.thebusywoman.com Susie Glennan#146;s The Busy Woman'sTM Daily PlannerTM ( Time Management Strategies and Tools for Busy Women) #147; Controlling Time Waste #148; #150; article on the Women#146;s Online Business Center Priscilla Y. Huff is the author of 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women , 3rd ed.; and The Self-Employed Woman#146;s Guide to Launching a Home-Based Business ; for business-related questions or to request a listing of resources for women entrepreneurs, e-mail Priscilla: pyhuff@hotmail.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconLAND A BOOK DEAL FROM JUST TWENTY PAGES By Mahesh Grossman Author of Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger www.AuthorsTeam.com My father used to tell me that you could build or fix anything with the right tools. If you want to land a book deal, the right tool (for a non-fiction book) is called a book proposal. It consists of some marketing information, your biography, and a twenty-page sample of your book, hence the title of this article. Even if you have written a complete manuscript, make sure you submit a book proposal first#151;not the manuscript. Here#146;s why publishing pros want a sample instead of the whole book: They are incredibly busy. The major publishing houses receive as many as 5000 book proposals a week. Literary agents get inundated as well. They just don#146;t have time to read complete manuscripts. They want to know why they should invest in you. Publishing is a business. More than half of a book proposal is a business plan that explains how and why your book will make money. They may only like part of your idea. An editor may think, #145;gee, if he writes #145;x#146; instead of #145;y#146;, I might be interested.#146; And she#146;ll tell you. But with a complete manuscript, it#146;s hard to tell someone they should have taken a different path starting on page 37. Instead, you#146;ll just hear #145;no#146;. If publishing pros do like your idea, they need it in a form that they can present to other people. Agents present your material to editors. And editors submit your idea to an editorial board. They make the final decision, and they don#146;t have enough time to read your whole book. THE SECRET FORMULA If you want significant attention from agents and publishers, make sure your book proposal includes each of these ingredients: A GREAT TITLE PAGE A great title can go a long way toward selling your book. So your title page is very important. Include your name and contact information on this page. TABLE OF CONTENTS (for the proposal) Just list the sections of your book proposal and the pages they are on. THE OVERVIEW An overview is a one to three page mini-version of your proposal. Start off with a short paragraph that#146;s an attention-grabber. This is called the hook. Look at any bestselling paperback for an example of how to write three or four sentences that will quickly grab a reader#146;s attention. Include a paragraph or two on each of the following: the main benefits and features of your book, who its audience will be, and why they#146;ll buy your book instead of another one that is already published. Add a paragraph that explains why you#146;re especially qualified to be the author of this text. THE AUDIENCE Prove to an agent or editor that there are enough people interested in your subject to make your book worth publishing. Make sure you use statistics. THE COMPETITION For this section, answer these two questions: What are five or six of the bestselling books that compete with yours? How does your book differ from each of those books? What does your book do better than they do? Write six short paragraphs, one per book, about what your book does better than each of these books. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Show why you are qualified to write on your particular topic here. Also mention your general writing experience. Mention anything that indicates you have a built-in audience for your book. FORMAT What will your book look like when it#146;s published? Describe it here. How many words will it be? (A double-spaced manuscript page contains 250 words.) How long it will take you to finish? (Take your best guess and then add three months.) What format do you want it to be published in#151;hardcover, trade paperback, or mass market paperback? Will there be any drawings or photographs? PROMOTION STRATEGIES Publishers need to be convinced that your book will sell. Show them how you plan on getting your book in front of the specific target audiences you mentioned earlier in the proposal. Will you hire a publicist? Do you speak in front of groups? Do you have a syndicated column, or an e-zine with lots of subscribers? Are you planning on starting off with a great media event for charity? You need to have some plan so that people can become aware of you and your book. OUTLINE This section is a short outline of your book. CHAPTER SUMMARIES Build evidence that you have a whole book, not just a long magazine article. Briefly describe the material you will include in each chapter. Use at least half a page, but don#146;t go over a full page per chapter, unless you have a really good reason. SAMPLE CHAPTERS What do agents and editors want to see in your sample chapters? Your knowledge, your heart, your personality and your writing skill. Include about twenty pages of your book, or one to three chapters. Start each chapter in a way that will captivate readers. Use a stunning statistic, a metaphor, tell a story, or ask questions that will make your reader feel like you are writing about her. Close each chapter in a way that will leave your wanting to read more. That#146;s the formula. Write a strong enough book proposal and you could wind up getting paid to write your book. It may seem like the odds are against you, but as literary agent and author Peter Rubie says, #147;if you have a polished and well-written book idea, you#146;re in competition, not with all the others who submit, but with the 5 to 10 percent whose material cries out to be taken seriously by editors and agents.#148; To look at four samples of book proposals that sold (two by first-time authors who received over 100K to write their books), read Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger , available at www.writeabooktoday.com . For a free ezine with tips on how to find an agent, get published, publish your own book and get publicity for it, go to www.AuthorsTeam.com . Mahesh Grossman is the author of Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger ( www.writeabooktoday.com ) and President of The Authors Team ( www.AuthorsTeam.com ), a company that helps credible experts become Incredible Authors, through ghostwriting, editing, coaching, publishing and distributing books to bookstores nationwide. He can be reached via e-mail at: GetPublished@AuthorsTeam.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon11 Creative Ways To Brand Your Name, Sell Lots of Books, and Become a Best-Selling Author By Randy Gilbert Author of the best-selling book "Success Bound" www.randygilbert.com Amazon.com is not just another place to sell books. The proactive author, speaker, coach, and consultant can use it creatively to brand their name, sell tons of products, and create a flood of traffic to their own Internet Web Sites. Yes, you can turn Amazon into your very own "River of Gold!" Don't believe me? Then just stand back for a moment and consider that Amazon is consistently rated in the top 15 websites for traffic and they have over 27 million customers annually (and its growing). The typical Amazon customer loves to buy books and products ONLINE, and, they are trained to USE THEIR CREDIT CARDS. They are the kind of people you want to have come to your own website and buy lots of things from you. By helping them to flow into your own sales funnel, they will become gold to you. Also think about this for a moment. Since Amazon is the largest bookstore in the world, they have every book that is related to your subject area. Therefore, all of your perfect customers, who love the books and products, are already being filtered into your niche by Amazon. You can get these people to your website if you take advantage of the opportunities that Amazon is giving you. If you are not introducing yourself to your potential customers every time they are logging onto Amazon, you are making a really big mistake (HUGE!). ** Your Perfect Customers Are Visiting Amazon! ** How do I know your "perfect customers" are visiting Amazon? Well, simply because they are buying every type of book on Amazon that is in your specialty area, genre, and niche. If you don't believe me, then who do you think are buying all those books? How do I know people who shop on Amazon use their credit card online? Because that is how you buy things on Amazon. Additionally consider this, Amazon knows they are a proven source of people who buy on the Internet, because they have branched out and are now selling just about everything else under the sun. I'll say it again, Amazon has trained millions of your potential "perfect customers" to use their credit cards online (impulsively), and you can attract them to your websites by branding your name in front of them every time they shop there. ** Amazon Is Ten Times Better Than Walmart! ** Amazon is fast becoming the Walmart of the Internet; however, size is not the issue. What makes Amazon far superior to Walmart is that Amazon is willing to share its customer traffic with you!! Can you imagine being able to duplicate yourself and being allowed to stand in every Walmart store in the country, holding out your book and introducing yourself? And even better, can you imagine having a display of your books and products next to every other complimentary product that is sold in every Walmart? Well, that is what you CAN DO virtually on Amazon. ** Here Are 11 Golden Tips You Can Start Using Right Away ** Below are listed 11 creative ideas for turning the people who visit Amazon into your own "perfect customers." Follow these 'Golden Tips' and you will see your book sales on Amazon increase dramatically and you will lots of perfect customers to your other websites. You will literally be turning Amazon into your own river of Gold. [Author's Side Note: I almost hate to share these, because I feel some of them have been my own little money making secrets. However, I know that if I give good things away, eventually I'll get good things in return. So here they are...please use them for your own benefit and feel free to share them with others.] Golden Tip #1 - Tell People 'Who You Are and What You Sell' Amazon has given you a very special place called "Your About You Area," that is a goldmine in itself. This is your own area that you have complete control over. You can post a flattering picture of yourself, and if you want, include your family or even your book. You should use your "About Me" area to its maximum extent allowed. You can post who you are, what books you've written, how you can help people, and most importantly, which of your websites they can go visit to get your help. This description of yourself can go on and on for up to 4000 characters (~650 to 700 words). But here's a note to the wise; be sincere, be personal, don't include any hype, and stay within Amazon's guidelines. Amazon's guidelines say no domain names, URLs, or hyperlinks. Also, no commercial advertising, promotion, or solicitation. Therefore, you only promote yourself and describe your websites and their addresses with words. I also describe what I will give to people who contact me and so far Amazon says that's OK. To find "Your About You Area," click on your store tab. For example, if your name is Jan, then the tab will most likely say "Jan's Store." Then click on the sub-tab "Friends Favorites." Next, look down on the left of the page and click on "Your About You Area." Please, don't let this vein of gold go untouched. To see a sample of mine, I've set up a link that will take you there directly: http://AmazonBestSellerSecrets.com/about-me-area Golden Tip #2 - Use Your Branded Name or Web Address as Your 'Amazon Name' In "Your About You Area" there is a place for you to type in 'Your Name.' It may sound like a simpleton idea, but I recommend you enter the name that you want people to know you by. Here are some possibilities. Use your branded name (ex. Randy Gilbert, Host, The Inside Success Show). You can also make it easy for people to get in touch with you if you use your branded name email address (ex. RandyGilbert@RandyGilbert.com , or your vanity toll free telephone number (ex. Randy Gilbert, call 866-MAUI-BOY). Check out this vein of gold. If you have more than one specialty or branded website, you can open an Amazon account for each. All you have to do is create a separate account using another email and purchase something from that Amazon account. I have three accounts. One for my "Dr. Proactive" niche, one for my Host of "The Inside Success Show" niche, and one for my "Amazon Best Seller Secrets" niche. There's no cost, so why not? Gold Tip #3 - Don't Be Shy, Recommend Your Book! As you view a book that you like and it is even remotely related to your book, you should recommend your book on that page. This is a great opportunity for you to get the name of your book all over Amazon. The only caution is, don't do this in any sort of SPAM fashion. Just do it at the same pace as you normally use Amazon. The Amazon sales page only shows one recommended book title for each category, which is the one with the most number of recommendations. So, if you have a mailing list of loyal readers and customers, you should by bold and ask them to recommend your book too. Gold Tip #4 - Review Other Books and Let People Know You Are The Expert If you're like me, you have just about every other book in your subject area and you have read them all (that's another reason why you are an expert). Use your expertise to review other books and review them in such a way as to give yourself credibility. In addition to becoming known as the person people can trust (which in itself is a sufficient reason to write reviews), people will find out what books you've written because you are going to close each review with "Your Name, author of YOUR BOOK." This is a legitimate credential that Amazon wants you to use (because they like it when you sell lots of your books and they wish everybody did). And, if you're a speaker, consultant, or coach, you can also use your other legitimate credentials. For example, I often use, "Randy Gilbert, Host of The Inside Success Show" on my radio show account. On my Dr. Proactive account I end with, "Randy Gilbert, Proactive Success Coach." You need to be cautioned on a couple of points. You cannot sell yourself in the review or it will not be posted. It should definitely be an honest review of the book. Also, never, ever use a demeaning tone in your review. You will quickly brand yourself as vindictive and nobody will read any more of your reviews or your book. If you always have the highest respect for other people's thoughts, and you write objectively, you will earn the trust of the people who read your review and they will want to read your book too. Gold Tip #5 - Post A Review Of Your Competitor's Book and Sell Your Book Too In addition to reviewing all of the other books in your subject area, you should post a review of the books that might be considered your competition. For those of you who are unfamiliar with writing book proposals, these are the books you identify as being available to people who are looking for information in your subject or specialty area. Since you're going to put your name and book title at the bottom of a very well written review that makes you look like the true expert in your field, people will take the time to search for your book and buy it too. The thing I like most about doing this is, whenever your competitor is receiving a boost in sales, perhaps due to some good PR they've received, your name and book will be seem more often too and your own book sales will inevitably rise. Golden Tip #6 - Use Listmania and Become THE EXPERT In Your Subject Area On every sales page and "Your About You Area" there is an opportunity to create a list of books for whatever reason you choose - it's called "Listmania. This is one of easiest and most effective things you can do on Amazon to brand your name and become known everywhere as THE EXPERT in your subject area. Some people create really corny lists, but not you. You are going to create lists of books in your subject area and write short (200 character) reviews that will create the picture in other people's minds of you being the top expert in your field. I love Listmania, because it allows you to put your branded contact information (see Golden Tip 2) on every sales page for the books in your subject area (or any other area you choose). Another great thing about Listmania is that it will show up almost instantaneously, where as a review can take several days. Golden Tip #7 - Become The "Answer-Man" on Amazon If you are an authority in a field (which you are as an author) there is a wonderful feature on Amazon that has your name written all over it (or it should have your name all over it). It's called "So You'd Like To..." and it's the place where you can post your 'how to' articles. Use this to show the world you can help them find the answers to difficult questions and solver their pressing problems. In your articles you will list all of the books that are appropriate to the topic, which then does a magical job of posting your articles everywhere in your subject area. So, when your perfect customer is out looking for an answer, they will quickly be introduced to you. This is the ultimate article publishing phenomenon and Amazon has brought it to you free of charge. A word to the wise, don't pitch your book, just write interesting articles and people will want more of what you write. They will eventually want to buy your book because you are the one answering their questions and meeting their needs. Golden Tip #8 - Look Like a Prolific Author and a Big Publisher In addition to paper books, you can sell ebooks and other products online on Amazon. Your ebooks by the same title will be shown with the same type of page. The reviews for your ebook will even show up on your paper book. It's a fine way to get more exposure. Under the Amazon Advantage program and you cannot list a book for sale that isn't ready for sale. However, if the e-book is ready (and the paper book has not been printed,) you can begin to sell your ebook and begin getting reviews. If you have them, you can also sell lots of low cost ebooks (that might otherwise be booklets or reports) and by doing so make yourself look like a prolific writer. I'm discovering that you are not limited to just written ebooks either, because you can sell audio and video pdf file ebooks (the kind with links in them for listening or viewing online). This is a feature of Amazon that is still being explored, but by the looks of things, it is going to turn out to be another area of pure gold for 'infopreneurs' like us. Another good reason to sell as much as possible on Amazon, is that your titles will automatically be available on a range of other major web sites: Borders.com, CDnow.com, Target.com, VirginMega.com and Waldenbooks.com. Golden Tip #9 - Use Google Adwords To Put Your Domain URL All Over Amazon Amazon is a joint venture (JV) Partner with Google Adwords and they post the top selling Google Adword ads on every book sales page that has the same keywords, which includes the words in the title and author's names. When you select the title or authors name as your keywords, your ad will show up under "Customers interested in this title may also be interested in..." on that book's page. Although advertising on Google Adwords isn't free (you set the amount it will cost you), the payback can be enormous, especially if your product is pulling in more money than it costs to advertise. Even if it costs you money, the exposure on Amazon is worth every penny, especially when you combine it with the next Golden Tip. Golden Tip #10 - Link Your Main Website to Each of Your Book (orproduct) Reviews. (This tip is a 'two-fer,' so pay attention) By linking your main website page to each book's sales page that you've posted a review for, you can make your review show up on Google. I noticed this happening a short while ago when I was studying how to use the new strategy called "Link Meshing" to improve my own site's ranking on Google. And, if you use this tip in conjunction with the Golden Tip #9, it will turbo-charge your own websites ranking, because it is very likely that your website's URL link will show up when Amazon's sales page is indexed. And, because Amazon is so popular, it will make your own website jump up; maybe even to the third, second, or (cross your fingers) first place listing. (Isn't that cool?) I can't tell you any more right now because I'm still testing it, but don't forget to sign up for getting information about the guide when it is completed. Just send a blank email to: Branding@AmazonBestSellerSecrets.com Golden Tip #11 - Get your book onto Amazon's Top 100 Bestseller List I've saved the best for last -- YOU can proactively control your sales rankings on Amazon. Therefore, by intentionally driving up the sales of your book, you can earn yourself the lifetime credential, "Best-Selling Author." Amazon rankings are completely systematized, so when you get people to buy more of your books on Amazon, your ranking will increase accordingly. The more books you sell, the higher your book's ranking will go. Your goal should be to sell enough in one day, for your book's ranking to go all the way up to the #1 position on Amazon's Top 100 Bestseller List. After you have followed all of the first 10, this will be a lot easier, but the others are not a pre-requisite. There is now a proven Internet marketing strategy that you can use to deliberately drive up the sales of your book. You don't need to be an online expert (you don't even need to have previous experience), you don't need to have a large mailing list (in fact, you don't need a list at all), and best of all you don't need a fortune in cash (believe it or not, it can be done with ZERO COST). What you DO need, is a proven strategy and someone who has done it for himself (and others) and who can explain it in terms you can follow. For more tips on how to do this send a blank email to: tips@amazonbestsellersecrets.com There You Have It! Now you have 11 Golden Tips, each of which will help to increase sales of your books and other products and will help brand your name as an expert in your subject area. Amazon is rich with resources, so you can be sure more gold is going to be found by me as time goes on. If you would like to be kept up to date with future explorations of how to brand yourself as an export and sell more of your info products, send a blank email to branding@amazonbestsellersecrets.com Randy Gilbert is the best-selling author of "Success Bound: Breaking Free of Mediocrity" ( www.Success-Bound.com ) and the creator of "AmazonBestSellerSecrets: How To Quickly and Easily Make Your Book a Bestseller on Amazon in Only 28 Days. www.AmazonBestSellerSecrets.com P: 540-856-3318, F: 540-856-2698, E: randy@randygilbert.com He can show you how to be a Best-Selling Author on Amazon! Fast, Easy, Powerful. Randy is also the host of "The Inside Success Show," the most talked aboutradio talk show www.TheInsideSuccessShow.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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