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05/07/2010
IconDeducting Your "Peanuts" And "Bubbles" Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I just began selling stuff on eBay last year, and am in the process of filling out my first tax return (ugh). I have a question about whether or not I can deduct the cost of postage, duct tape, packaging materials such as 'plastic peanuts' and Bubblewrap, and other supplies. I pay for these items out of my own pocket, but I don't pass the actual cost on to the buyer because they're too difficult to track. Instead, I charge each buyer a 'shipping and handling fee' of $10 for each auction, regardless of the amount involved. Does the $10 'shipping and handling fee' wipe out any deduction I might have for my packaging and shipping materials?" When selling on eBay, it's often hard to come up with deductible business expenses when tax time rolls around. You probably have a computer or laptop that you use in your business (and which you probably share with your videogame-playing teenagers), a couple of eBay "how to" books, and maybe some paper clips. But that's about it. Unless you are selling so much on eBay that you need to rent a warehouse, buy forklifts and hire guys with tattoos to run them, you really don't have a lot of expenses in a selling business on eBay. The one exception, of course, is "postage, packing and shipping". Whenever someone buys something from you on eBay, you've got to get it into their hands somehow. How should you deal with these on your tax return? Well, believe it or not, there are two ways. The first (and better) method - and what the IRS really wants you to do - is to "inventory" your postage, packing and shipping costs by adding them to your "cost of goods sold" or "COGS". "Cost of goods sold" (COGS for short) is basically the total of everything you spent to acquire your inventory -- the stuff you sell on eBay. Whatever you paid for your inventory is part of the COGS of your inventory, but COGS also includes such things as postage and packaging materials. The COGS method requires you to keep track of the COGS of each item of inventory you sell on eBay, because you cannot deduct your COGS for inventory until it is actually sold. When you sell an item on eBay, you record the winning bid amount as income, and deduct the COGS for that item to offset the income. The COGS method works well when you are selling only a relatively few high-priced items on eBay. But what if you are like the vast majority of eBay sellers, who are selling lots and lots of low-priced items? In that situation it is difficult, if not impossible, to track the COGS of each item you sell unless you have lots of discipline and patience, too much time on your hands, and some sophisticated accounting software. You probably will not get into too much hot water with the IRS if you take the total cost of your postage, packaging and shipping materials as a current deduction on Schedule C of your federal tax return (that's the Schedule on which you report your income and deductions from a "trade or business"), especially if the total amount of these expenses is relatively small such that it would be "too much of a pain" to track them precisely. What complicates the situation here is the "shipping and handling fee" you charge your eBay buyers. You will have to keep close track of the amount you actually spend on postage, packaging and shipping materials, total them all at the end of the year, and then compare them to the total "shipping and handling fees" your charged your eBay buyers during the year. If your total shipping and handling expenses exceeded the total shipping and handling fees you received from eBay buyers, you can deduct the excess expenses on your tax return. If the total shipping and handling fees you charged your eBay buyers exceeded your actual shipping and handling costs, you must report the excess as income on your tax return. Keep in mind that charging a flat shipping and handling fee regardless of your actual costs, while legal, may violate certain eBay policies (see pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-shipping.html). If your eBay buyers find out you are making money on your shipping and handling fees, they will feel cheated, and will find a way to let the eBay community know about it, either by giving you "negative feedback" on eBay's Feedback Forum, or by "flaming" you on the many chat rooms, bulletin boards and other "community" features on eBay's Website. If you value your reputation as an eBay seller, you will find a way to make sure your shipping and handling fees reflect your actual postage, shipping and packaging costs. And while you're at it, start using the COGS method, which will help you keep track of what these actual costs are. You will make both your customers, and the IRS, very happy indeed. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). 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 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconChoosing The Right Way To Account For Sales Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "Last year I started a business selling on eBay. I'm doing my taxes now, and my accountant is telling me I have to choose between the 'cash' and 'accrual' methods of accounting. Frankly, I haven't been doing any accounting as such. When people pay me, I just deposit their checks or money orders into my business checking account (I'm not using PayPalReg; yet, though I plan to next year). Could you please explain the difference between these two accounting methods in language I can understand?" As Curly Joe Howard of the Three Stooges used to say, "soitenly." The IRS allows small businesses to use two different accounting methods - the cash method and the accrual method. Under the cash method of accounting, you report sales when, and only when, you actually receive the "cash" from your winning bidder. So, if someone buys something from you on eBay and pays with a check money order, you do not report the sale until the check or money order has arrived. If you hold onto the check for a few days before depositing it in your account (as many folks do, especially in late December when they're trying to 'push' income into the next tax year), it doesn't matter - you record the sale when the buyer's check hits your mailbox. EXAMPLE: Joe sells laptop computers on eBay. Joe puts a laptop computer up for sale on eBay using a 7-day "traditional" auction format, closing on Sunday night. At the end of the auction Mary is the winning bidder at $500. Mary elects to pay by personal check, and mails the money order to Joe on Monday morning. Joe receives Mary's check on Thursday, deposits it in his business checking account on Friday, and the check clears the same day. Using the cash method of accounting, Joe records the $500 sale on Thursday, when he receives the check from Mary. Under the accrual method of accounting, you report sales when you have the legal right to payment, even if you haven't received the cash yet. So, if someone buys something from you on eBay and pays with a check or money order, you can report the sale as having occurred the moment the auction ended, even though it will be a few days yet before you receive the buyer's check or money order. EXAMPLE: Mary sells Barbie Dolls on eBay. On Monday, Mary puts a genuine 1971 "Malibu Barbie" (the one with the sunglasses sewn to her head) up for sale on eBay for a fixed price of $1,000 using eBay's "Buy It Now!" feature. On Wednesday, Alphonse clicks the "Buy It Now!" button and buys the Malibu Barbie doll for $1,000. Alphonse chooses to pay for the doll by personal check, and mails the check to Mary on Thursday morning. Mary receives the check on Monday and waits until Tuesday to deposit the check to her business checking account, which means the check doesn't clear the bank until the following Friday. Because Mary uses the accrual method of accounting, Mary must record the $1,000 sale on Wednesday - the day Alphonse buys the doll on eBay and becomes legally obligated to purchase the doll - even though Mary doesn't actually receive "good funds" until the following Friday, when Alphonse's personal check clears her bank. Under either the cash or accrual method of accounting, holding onto a check or money order for several days before depositing it does not affect in any way the recording of the sale. You record the sale either when the check or money order arrives in your mailbox (cash method), or when the eBay auction closes and the winning bidder has been identified (accrual method). If you have a PayPalreg; account and use the cash method of accounting, you record a sale when the buyer's payment hits your PayPalreg; account. Still not sure what to do? When in doubt, select the "accrual" method of accounting. Just about all eBay selling businesses have inventory, and the accrual method of accounting gives a more accurate picture of sales and income for a business that has inventory. Besides, when you find yourself selling more than $1 million worth of stuff on eBay each year (you should be so lucky, right?), the IRS is going to require you to use the accrual method of accounting anyway, so you might as well get familiar with accrual accounting now. Hey, you never know . . . Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). 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 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon10 Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Candy Wrapping Business - Part II By Liz Folger, Work-at-home Mom Expert The business of candy wrapping (and it's far more than just wrapping chocolate bars) is getting more and more popular. Personalized gifts and favors are always well received. Once your personalized gifts are seen at a wedding or being sold at a fundraiser, you're going to start to get calls from other people and companies who will want to put in their order. Your candy/favor wrapping business just needs a little marketing so your business can get moving. Below you'll find 10 ways to market your candy wrapping business. Use one, five, or all the ideas that you need. One thing I do recommend is that you have a fun and use the marketing ideas that you enjoy the most. Because the more marketing ideas that sound like fun to you, the more you'll work at it and the more business you will find. Business Cards With any business you have it's key to have some type of business card. Making your business card unique is also a great way to get a future customer's attention. With a Candy wrapping business you can do this very easily. Take a small chocolate bar or a Lifesaver roll and print your business card on a wrapper to fit the candy. This is sure to make a tasty impression. Get Your Yummy Business Cards Into The Right Hands Now that you have your cards created, think about who you'd like to market your business to. You could start with event and wedding planners and specialty gift shop owners. Wedding Trade Shows Throughout the year there are several wedding trade shows. Think about booking a table at one of these shows to display your wedding favor ideas. Fundraising Organizations Your children's school might be the perfect place to start. What's great about this business is you can create some wonderful samples to show your potential client. Other groups might be daycares, sporting teams, and hospitals. Local Shops Is there something special about your town? Do you get a lot of tourists? What attracts them? Create a special wrapper for your particular area. For more options offer seasonal themes like Halloween, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July. Press Releases Get the word out on your business by writing a press release for your local newspapers and local TV news stations. To help them remember you even more, create a special candy bar with the reporters name on it. Online Marketing Ideas Website Have a website so your customers can check out your work 7 days a week 24 hours a day. Include that website URL on all your marketing materials like your business cards. eNewsletter Get the email address of all your customers. This way you can send them a monthly or quarterly enewsletter that tells them about your specials and new products or ideas that you have. Include some freebie ideas like new party trends and ideas. Make the enewsletter something your customers are going to want to receive. Network Network with those who have similar businesses. With the Internet you can do business with a wedding planner in another state. You no longer have to do business just with the people who are in your local town. This is especially good news for those who live in very small towns. Post On Message Boards and Mailing Lists. Find wedding and fundraising idea sites. The key here is not to promote your business blatantly. Just answer questions, be helpful, and then include a nice signature line that includes your name, name of business, URL and email address. Liz Folger is the founder of http://www.bizymoms.com . Bizymoms.com is the leading online resource for work-from-home ideas. The site offers home-based business start-up kits, online classes, e-books, chats and enthusiastic support for moms who want to have it all - a family and a career. Visit http://www.bizymoms.com for more information. * The author gives permission for the use of this article on drlaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHow To Start A Candy Wrapping Business - Part I By Liz Folger, work-at-home mom expert What woman doesn't love chocolate? Combine that with all the emails I get from moms who want to find a business where they are able to make money with their home computer and boy, have I got an idea for you! Chocolate + your computer = your new home business! If you haven't heard about the business of candy wrapping then let me give you a quick explanation. This is where you take a candy bar and you design and print your own wrapper to put over the candy bar's original wrapper. Now you might be wondering why would someone want to do this? Well these favors make wonderful birthday and wedding favors. They are great for special events and get-togethers like family reunions and retirement parties, and can be used in fundraising events. And it isn't just chocolate bars that candy wrappers are finding to wrap. They're also wrapping lifesavers, gum, tic tacs, mint, and even popcorn bags. Some wrappers are even wrapping non-food items like bubbles and matchbooks. More Ideas Of People and Groups Who Might Want Your Service: Bridal shops Wedding planners Event planners Baby shops Obstetrician offices Florists Gift shops Specialty toy stores Trade shows Professional fundraising groups (try the school your kids go to) Skills Needed: The skills you will need for this business might be something you already posses. But it helps to be creative and have some knowledge of graphics software. However, there are lots of programs and free ready-made wrappers available on the Internet. Customer service skills are important too. You'll need to market your business and there are so many great ways to get your business name out there. A chocolate bar with your business card wrapped around it would be a great way to get people's attention. Supplies: Equipment that you might already have is a computer, color printer, some type of graphics software, paper for your wrappers, and in some cases you might need candy bars (sometimes clients will provide the candy bars and you just need to sell them the wrappers). When just starting out, scissors work great for cutting your wrappers, but as your business grows you'll want to look into a nice paper cutter. You'll also need something to stick your wrappers together. Glue sticks or tape works great. Make sure whatever you choose is acid free and photo safe. Once you're business gets rolling a little more, you might want to invest in a scanner and/or Digital camera if you don't already have one. These are useful if you want to add personal photos to your wrapper designs. When looking for paper, candy bars, ink etc. Try to buy in bulk. You'll usually get a better deal and be able to keep more of your profits if you shop wisely. Liz Folger is the founder of http://www.bizymoms.com . Bizymoms.com is the leading online resource for work-from-home ideas. The site offers home-based business start-up kits, online classes, e-books, chats and enthusiastic support for moms who want to have it all - a family and a career. Visit http://www.bizymoms.com for more information. * The author gives permission for the use of this article on drlaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconReviving The "Living Dead" Corporation Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "In the late 1990s, I invented a product for the health care industry. I obtained patents for the product, and registered trademarks for the product name. I even formed a corporation in Delaware and registered it in Texas, where my husband and I were living at that time. Then, my husband (also an entrepreneur) moved his business to New York to be closer to his customers, and I moved with him. I had to help him with his business for a while, as well as raise two kids, so I put my dreams on hold for a while. The patents and trademarks expired because I did not renew them, and the Delaware corporation was 'voided' because I didn't pay the annual franchise tax in Delaware for a couple of years. Now my kids are off to private school, and I really want to revive this product and the company. I have some potential investors who are really excited about the product, but they want to deal with a 'real' company. Can I revive the company that I had in the 1990s, or should I start all over again from scratch?" We all have our priorities in life, and it sounds like you made the right choices, although I would love to know more about this product. Anyway, here goes. Your first step should be to talk to a good "intellectual property" attorney who specializes in patents and trademarks. When you invented your product back in the 1990s, it was probably "state of the art" at the time, but I'll bet you the technology for this product has advanced leaps and bounds since then. Generally, if you had a patent for this product and it expired because you didn't renew it in time, you should be able to "revive" the patent (by refiling it from scratch) unless someone else has come along and claimed a patent for improved technology. Similarly, unless someone has come along and claimed the same trademark for a similar product or service, you should be able to file an application for the trademarks you want to use to identify this product in the marketplace. When talking to the patent attorney, there are two questions you have to ask: whether you can "revive" your patents and trademarks that have lain dormant for several years; and if you can, whether the patents and trademarks will be "strong" ones that will withstand challenge from new players who will claim that their designs are superior to yours because they are "state of the art". The second question is actually the more important of the two. Even if you can revive your patents and trademarks from the 1990s, they won't be worth much if a bad person (say, in China or another Asian country where patent protection isn't that strong) can "tweak" your design (say, by adding a screw here or rounding off a corner there) and claim their product is a significant improvement from yours. "Knockoffs" are a fact of life these days, and if the "state of the art" technology of your product hasn't advanced much since the 1990s, there's a good chance that an imitator or "knockoff artist" will be able to design around your patent without too much effort. If your patent attorney can't give you solid comfort on this issue, do not proceed further. If your "intellectual property" attorney tells you your patents and trademarks (1) are still strong, and (2) can easily be revived, spend the money on that first. When your patents and trademarks have been secured, it's time now to revive your Delaware corporation. A Delaware corporation that has been "voided" because it hasn't paid Delaware's annual franchise tax is a bit like the "living dead" in a bad horror movie: it still has a pulse, and appears on Delaware's corporate records, but anyone who comes along and wants to use the same corporate name will be able to get it as if the "voided" corporation did not exist. To "revive" the corporation (assuming someone else hasn't grabbed the name), you have to call the Franchise Tax Unit of the Delaware Secretary of State's office (telephone 302-739-3073), and find out how much you owe in unpaid Delaware franchise taxes. Once they tell you the amount, you must: file a Certificate of Renewal with the Delaware Secretary of State's office (your attorney will prepare this for you for a fee of one hour's time, plus a filing fee of $104); pay the unpaid Delaware franchise taxes; and contact the company that acted as your "registered agent" in Delaware and tell them you have revived the company - the "registered agent" will probably want an annual fee of $200 to $300 to continue acting as your "registered agent" in Delaware. Since you no longer live in Texas, there is probably no reason for you to "revive" your Delaware corporation's presence there. Once you revive your "living dead" Delaware corporation, though, you will have to register it as a "foreign" corporation in New York, where you now live and do business. Your attorney can prepare and file the necessary paperwork for a fee equal to one hour of his or her time plus filing fees that are usually in the $200 to $300 range. Since forming a new corporation in New York (or Delaware) to manufacture and market this product will probably cost you between $1,500 and $2,500, it probably makes economic sense to revive your Delaware corporation and register it in New York. That way your corporation will have an "unbroken" legal existence from the late 1990s to today. Just make sure you pay the annual taxes and fees in Delaware and New York to keep this corporation alive after you have "risen it from the dead". Just like in a bad horror movie, the more frequently a "zombie" dies, the harder it is for it to get back on its feet again. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). 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 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconFirst Get The Customers, Then Set Up The Business Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "For the past several years, I've been working for our state university. They have a toll-free 'hot line' where people can call with questions about their trees and shrubs, and I'm the person who gives the answers. We get tons of questions every day, and I'm thinking there's a business opportunity for someone to go out there and provide one-on-one consulting. I am worried, though, about how best to protect myself against lawsuits - is it better to take out liability insurance, or form a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) to run the business? Doing both seems a little like wearing both suspenders and a belt - you don't need both." Sounds like you're having trouble seeing the forest for the trees (sorry, I couldn't resist that). The first thing you need to do is find out if there's really a business here. Just because people are calling a toll-free line and getting free advice over the phone does not mean they will actually shell out their hard-earned cash for the same advice, no matter how good it may be. Before spending any money on setting up an LLC or taking out insurance, I would throw together a quick-and-dirty marketing brochure, get it out there, and see if homeowners really will bite. If they don't, then you won't have to spend any MORE money to shut down the LLC, close out the insurance policy, etc., etc. If the customers really are there, the next question you need to ask is: how much will I get paid for this? You are going to be spending considerable time visiting each customer, looking at their landscape layout, putting together a proposal, and so forth, and the hours are going to rack up quickly. I'm not sure most homeowners are willing to spend $100 or more an hour for advice on their shrubs - realistically, you are probably going to be charging something in the $20 to $30 range for an hourly fee. If it takes you 10 hours to advise a client, and you charge $200 for your services, that's only $20 an hour. Not bad, but you are going to need to have tons of customers at that rate before you earn a six-figure income from this business and quit your day job. Only when you know the customers will be there, and the economics make sense, do you start putting things like LLCs and insurance policies in place. How much protection you need, of course, depends on the real likelihood of your getting sued. If you are giving advice on chemical treatments, for example, you will need not only a belt and suspenders for this business, but a suit of armor as well - one sick kid (or pet), and you're toast. Even if you form a corporation or LLC for your business, I usually suggest that people carry liability insurance for the LLC's (and their own) "errors and omissions". If someone is injured because of your bad advice, and a nasty judge sympathizes with them and sees you have only $100 in the LLC checking account, he or she will be sorely tempted to "pierce the LLC veil" and give the plaintiff access to your personal assets. Having an insurance policy for the plaintiff to go after will make it easier for the judge to respect the limited liability your LLC offers. One more thing: make sure you check with the university and make sure you haven't signed anything that would prohibit you from doing consulting work on the side. I take it you are not quite ready to quit your day job at the university yet. Even if you haven't signed a formal noncompete agreement, I would run this by your immediate supervisor before taking any action. University people sometimes get prickly about their employees doing outside consulting work for real money (jealousy probably has something to do with that), and you're usually better off disclosing your plans up front than having them "catch" you doing it behind their backs. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). 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 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSomething All My Own Owning my own business has taught me many things about myself. I've learned that I can make wise business decisions, I can manage the accounts and taxes for my company, and I can type with one hand while holding a sleeping 6 month old. All of these things have helped me develop into a much more confidant person. My business has also given me the freedom to test my limits and see what I can accomplish. Running a home-based business has become a large part of my identity. Not in a selfish, "See what I can do!" way, but in a positive sense. It has given me the confidence to know that I accomplish things that I never thought possible. Before I was a work-at-home mom, I wanted to be able to be at home with my children, but I also felt that I needed more. I needed something for me alone that would make me feel strong and confident. I also needed the opportunity to keep in touch with others to avoid the isolation that often accompanies stay-at-home moms. There are three keys areas in my life that I believe my home-based business has helped me develop: Passion When I began my website it truly was something for ME. I wanted to compile work at home information all in one spot so that I could find the perfect opportunity that would allow me to stay at home with my children. However, in running CWAHM I have found that I have a passion for helping other moms work from home. My business has taught me that to succeed you must give to others and expect nothing in return. This may not seem like a sensible business technique, but it is a biblical principle. Put others before yourself, help others to succeed and you will be successful yourself. Gina Neef with The MOM Team, told me recently, "I didn't realize I even wanted "something of my own" three years ago. When I began - it all unfolded... so nice to have my passion fueled." Confidence In college I was shy and very unsure of myself. I felt like there was not any one thing that I was truly good at. My grades were average, my athletic ability was average, and on and on. Being a successful business owner has opened my eyes to the fact that there are things that I am good at. Melody Spier, owner of Ballyhoo Virtual Services , felt similarly. She states, "Owning a business has taught me so much about myself and my capabilities. I used to let fear of the unknown, fear of success and of failure hold me back, but now that I'm a business owner, I've learned that it's okay to succeed at some things and fail at others. I take each experience and learn from it - what worked, what didn't? Today if I want to do something but don't know how, I find someone who has knowledge of the topic and I ask for help. Owning a business has taught me to believe in my skills and myself. My fear of success has long since vanished as well; I can now say that I'm proud to own a successful virtual assistant business." Courage Being a business owner has given me courage. Courage to take chances and go beyond my comfort level. Once I have a few successes behind me, I realized that I could do it all. Also, even my failures make me stronger. I found that my business didn't shut down with each mistake I made and I always found a better way of doing things. Diana Ennen, president of Virtual Word Publishing , agrees. She states, "Owning my own business has inspired me to do more in all aspects of my life. I love the warmth of success so I try and take the right steps to achieve it. Just as I want the best for my family, I also want the best for my business as well. I'll often find the courage to go the extra mile and reach far beyond what I think is possible and what I find is that most of the time, I reach those goals." Having "something all my own" has benefited me in many ways - passion, confidence, courage - and so much more. I've been inspired to do things that I never thought possible. If you desire to work from home you'll find that it's worth the time and effort that it takes to get started. Take the chance, step out on faith and work until you succeed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jill Hart is the author of the e-book, 2 Weeks Devotional Journey for Christian Work at Home Moms, and the founder and editor of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com. This site is dedicated to providing work at home moms with opportunities to promote their businesses while at the same time providing them spiritual encouragement and articles. Jill's work has been published across the internet, including DrLaura.com. She also has work published in the Xulon Press book, I'll Be Home For Christmas . Visit http://www.CWAHM.com for additional information. This article is free to reprint if the Author's Bio remains in tact. For additional articles, please contact Jill Hart. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMarketing Offline Can Substantially Increase Your Online Business by Jill Hart The Internet can be a scary place for those looking for a home-based business opportunity. The fear of not connecting personally with others is one concern and many people have been "taken" by online scams in their search for a legitimate business and are fearful to take any more risks. One way to overcome fears such as these is to market your online business locally. By simply offering the person a contact that they can speak to and possibly even meet face to face you will making the statement that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. It is effective to market your online business locally primarily because potential customers and business recruits prefer to have the option of speaking with the business owner face to face. By attracting customers locally, you can maximize the opportunities to meet with them. You will no longer be that "someone they found online," but someone that they will be able to relate to and feel confident doing business with. But how do you market locally? Here are some excellent tips: Besides the common local advertising routes, such as Newspaper Ads, Yellow Pages, Etc., another effective (and inexpensive) way to advertise locally is to post business related flyers around your community. Many grocery stores, libraries, bookstores, and office supply stores offer bulletin boards for this purpose. Make yours stand out and be recognized, yet professional enough to warrant someone trusting you with their business. Also, if possibly have a tear-off section on your flyer so they can take your number and leave your flyer. Look for events geared toward work-at-home businesses. There are organizations, such as the National Work at Home Mom Association, that hold events across the nation to help promote the work-at-home business owner. At events such as these, you can purchase a booth and make hundreds of local contacts, as well as sales, all in one day. Reach out to your community. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, get involved in community events and become known to those around you. Pass out flyers and hand out business cards to everyone you meet. Door Flyers also work well for marketing - pick one neighborhood a week and go door to door. Be consistent with your marketing with door flyers, too. If a potential customer sees your ad repeatedly, they will feel more inclined to use your services in the future. Magnets can be great promotional items as well. You can have magnets printed with your business information and hand them out to people that you speak to about your products. Potential clients can keep these on their refrigerator or filing cabinet. You can also leave flyers, magnets or even catalogs around town in places like doctor's offices, hair salons, etc. Volunteer in your community for marketing success. Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing, Inc. suggests, "Volunteer at school events such as PTA meetings or community functions. When your child's school needs a flyer, volunteer to do it and attach your card to it. Look to see where you can also inexpensively advertise. Often ads in the kid's yearbook or community events newsletter will get your more exposure than the expensive ads in the daily newspapers." Direct mail is another great tool for gaining local clients. Get the Yellow Pages out and write a professional letter or send your brochures or postcards to those that would be interested in your products or services. Send a mailing to local businesses that may be interested in offering your products to their customers. For example, if you sell home decor products, send a professional letter to real estate agents in your local area. In the letter, describe how your products would be valuable for them to use as thank you gifts when they sell a home. It's important to talk to everyone you possibly can about your business. You can find prospective customers in line at the grocery store, while waiting at a doctor's office, or even while playing at the park with your children. Let others know that you are excited about it and believe in it. If the people around you hear the excitement in your voice, they may become excited about your business, too! You'll be rewarded with more sales and a business that prospers from year to year. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Hart is the founder and editor of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com, and the author of the e-book, The Two Week Devotional Journey for Christian Work at Home Moms. The CWAHM.com website is dedicated to providing moms with free resources to aid them in their work at home search. E-mail Jill at jill@cwahm.com for additional information or stop by her site at www.cwahm.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconYou Know A "Derivative Work" When You See One Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I am a public relations consultant who works out of his home. To promote my firm, I have written several articles for my local business weekly newspaper, without charge, and posted them on my Website. Well, I must be doing a pretty good job at these, because a regional business magazine contacted me and asked me if they could reprint one of my articles in the magazine for $250. I said 'sure', of course, but then they hit me with a 10 page contract they want me to sign. It looks pretty harmless overall, but there's a clause in there that says I'm assigning to them all of my rights to this article and any 'derivative works'. Does that mean I can't write on this topic ever again? I would love the free publicity this article would provide, but I'm not willing to put limits on my writing activities for a mere $250." Whenever you look to publish an article or book with an established publisher, they will want you to sign their standard "publishing contract". Generally, you should not sign these without having your lawyer look at them first (most lawyers will do less for less than one hour of their time if you ask nicely), but in this case the fee you are being paid is so small it probably isn't worth bringing an attorney on board. Generally, when you write an article or any other "original work", you own the copyright to it from the moment it is created, even though you don't "register" your copyright with the Library of Congress in Washington. The only way you can lose that copyright is to sell or assign it to someone else. So in this case, even though your articles appeared in the local business newspaper, the copyright is yours and no one can reprint it without your permission (for which, of course, you will charge a fee). Most publishers will want you to "assign" your copyright to them in the contract. What the publisher doesn't want is to publish your article and pay you for it, only to have you then turn around and sell the same article to other publishers. When you think about it, that's a pretty legitimate concern, and the publisher is unlikely to strike the "assignment of rights" clause if you ask them to. If the publisher's contract requires you to assign your copyright to "the Work" (usually a defined term in the contract), you should look at the definition of "Work" very carefully. Usually, it refers only to the article you are submitting. You are not prohibited from writing articles on similar topics, or from taking pieces of your article and using them elsewhere, as long as you don't take the article verbatim, word for word, and sell it to someone else. When I negotiate publishing contracts, though, I always add a sentence clarifying that you may "copy or reprint the article, either in written or electronic form, and use it solely for promotional purposes." That way you can put the article up on your Website, along with the wonderful tagline "reprinted with permission of XXX magazine". In your contract, however, the definition of "Work" is slightly broader, and includes not only the article you are submitting to the magazine for publication, but also "derivative works" of that article. The term "derivative work" is defined in the federal copyright laws as "a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted." Not exactly a model of clarity, is it? A "derivative work" is a bit like the famous U.S. Supreme Court judge's description of pornography: you can't define it precisely, but you know it when you see it. Common sense will rule the day here. If the magazine publishes your article, and you change just a few words and sell it to another publisher, the magazine is likely to look at that as a "derivative work" of your article, and will be very upset. Likewise, if you read your article word for word into an audio recorder and post it as an "audio clip" on your Website, that is probably also a "derivative work". Generally, however, another article on the same topic - using entirely different words than your published article - will not be a "derivative work" and the magazine will have no rights to it, as under the copyright laws it will be considered a separate, "original" work. Likewise, taking just one paragraph from your article and including it in another, original article on the same topic, should not get you into hot water with your publisher. Still, since this is only going to be a one-time publication in the magazine, I would ask the publisher either (1) to clarify in writing that other works on the same general topic will not be considered "derivative works" under the contract, or (2) to make the assignment of copyright "nonexclusive" six months after the article appears in print in the magazine. That way, the publisher has the right to control publication that they want, while you have the peace of mind that you need. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). 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 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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