What Does it Mean to Be or Get Bonded for a Job; And Where Do I Apply for a Bond?

If you’ve given up looking for a job and have decided to become a self employed housekeeper or handyman instead, having yourself bonded is a strategy that will make you more marketable. To be bonded for a job, or “get bonded” means that a person is being insured against theft. For customers concerned about the honesty of housekeepers and handymen coming into their homes, a bond ensures that the individual’s criminal background has been thoroughly checked out by an insurance company. It also means that the insurance company has secured funds that are available to the customer in case of theft. If for example, a housekeeper walks off with a HDTV or a ruby necklace, the insurance company will make every effort to track down the valuables and prosecute the thief if found. In the event that the items are not recoverable, the insurance company will settle a claim with the property owner.

Being bondable or bonded gives a self employed worker a serious advantage against the competition, especially when there is so much competition out there right now for any type of job.

How the process starts is with a phone call to your insurance agent. Many insurance companies provide this service and should be able to give you the best rates for a policy. If you don’t have an insurance agent, another place to check on the internet or in your local phone book. Bonding companies are listed under “Bonds: Surety  amp; Fidelity.” You might even wish to compare rates and shop around for the best deals.

The application usually asks for a social security number, the type of business being operated, and the value of what is being insured. For a housekeeper or handyman, the insurance agent can advise you as to what is a realistic dollar amount.

What you pay for the bond depends on what is being insured and how risky the company feels you may be. The standard fee for a bond of this type seems to run between .5% – 1% of the amount needed. For a very small housecleaning or handyman enterprise, the bond will cost you approximately $100-$150 a year.

Once you’ve cleared the background check from the insurance company, you are mailed a document which shows that you have been bonded. This paper contains the name of your company, the insurance company and the dollar amount being insured. When a customer asks if you are bonded, you can furnish a copy of this document as proof that you are indeed a “bonded” worker.

How to Build Business Success in a Recessed Economy

Less than a year ago, I interviewed young entrepreneurs making it big in San Diego with their fabulous cookies. 410 Degrees is the name of their company (named for the temperature at which they bake). Successful is the status of their company (one of few that are doing so well in the current economy). I asked Adam Koven, business manager and one of the owners, to share his secrets for sweet success in soured times.

Lorraine: Hello, Adam. Thank you for taking time out from raking it in from your new business for this interview. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in a deeply recessed, if not depressed, economy. What made you think you could make a ‘go’ of a brand new business in this environment?

Adam: The economy wasn’t great when we graduated college in 2008. Jobs were hard to get. Friends and peers opted to stay in school while waiting for the economy to recover. We knew, however, that our plan for a gourmet cookie business was a great idea. If we could start a new business in this economy and grow it during the hardest of times, we would be poised for even greater growth when the economy turns around. Besides, when people are down or upset about things like the economy, they always seek comfort. What’s more comforting than a delicious cookie?

Lorraine: Cookies are certainly my comfort food. But I thought that was just me. Because your new business is still in business, it means you’ve kept your risk capital low. Can you explain how you did this?

Adam: We just celebrated our one-year anniversary in the food business, historically the time period in which new ventures fail. We attribute our success to careful planning, seizing opportunity, making sacrifices-both personal and financial-for the business, and putting the business first.

Specifically, we rounded up enough capital for start-up costs and operations for the first few months. We practice just-in-time ordering and production to keep inventory capital low. We partner with other businesses to keep our capital invested in assets low. For example, we rented a commercial kitchen by the hour for the first few months.

We amazed ourselves with the ideas we thought of and tried to keep costs as low as possible while producing our products and growing our sales. Some of the most fun we had was in trying creative new ways of doing business.

Lorraine: Say how and where you distribute your cookies and why those distribution channels contribute to your business success.

Adam: We tried more than 18 different marketing avenues, including farmers markets, online, weddings, events, catering, birthday parties, corporate gifts, and more. From these selling experiences, not only did we find out which ones worked best, but also which ones would help us grow. And we learned two important things: 1. Opportunity for growth exists if your product is truly good and people really like it; 2. No one sells your product like you can.

At our farmers markets, you can always find one of us-the owners-selling cookies. This gives us the chance to meet our customers, and it keeps overhead low. When we’re face to face with our customers, they see our passion and drive for our business. They seem to like meeting us too, and, perhaps, enjoy our cookies even more because they know the guys behind the recipes and the hard work. We take great pride in this. After all, without customers we have no business. Direct-to-customer distribution channels are therefore very important for us.

An area of new focus this year is our online division. We’re developing a brand new website that should be fun and interactive for our customers. We’re very excited about launching it soon.

Lorraine: I’m very excited about ordering cookies and writing your next success story without moving from my computer. Which prompts me to ask: How is it that your cookies sell so prominently in a market environment that’s so calorie-counting, sugar-avoiding, and health-conscious?

Adam: It’s pretty simple. We sample our cookies to anyone willing to try them. Healthy ingredients are featured in all of our cookie creations. While a cookie is still a cookie, we try to create cookies that anyone can enjoy, whether they are on a diet or not. While we continue to work on recipes with lower sugar for our diabetic and dieting customers, for now they can still enjoy our cookies, just in smaller bites.

Lorraine: All good things in moderation, right? With that said, who is your target market?

Adam: We target people seeking an indulgent snack, a way to reward themselves. Our cookies are treats, especially for people delightfully anticipating our next cookie creation. We pride ourselves as an innovative cookie company, pushing the envelope of cookie flavors and new combinations.

Our innovative cookies attract “foodies”-adventurous eaters knowledgeable in the world of cuisine. Because they know so much about food, foodies are very hard to impress. Yet, they’re some of our favorite customers since they recognize the creativity we put into our cookies and attention to the smallest details (for example, the sprinkle of sea salt on our Ultimate Chocolate Chip cookies, not to mention the precise baking temperature of 410 degrees). The foodies just love these little touches.

Lorraine: If I haven’t yet touched the secrets to the success of your business with my previous questions, please say now what you can about why your business is successful while so many others are shutting down.

Adam: Here it is in a nutshell:

Passion, enthusiasm, and drive for the business. We want to succeed. We put a lot of hard work and effort in to every detail of our business. And for all of us–the owners, the business comes first.

Customers. We excel at listening to our customers. It is from their requests, ideas, and suggestions that we formulate many of our ideas. Without them, we don’t do this.

Business decisions. We do our due diligence. We ensure that every decision is in the best interest of the business.

Growth. We look constantly looking for ways to improve. We are always looking for new ways to grow.

Lorraine: The word ‘ growth’ occurs prominently as you talk about your business. May you have the growth your company deserves, not the kind that comes from eating too many cookies. Thank you, Adam, for sharing your keen business insights. And let me know when your business goes public so we can share in your success!

Thank you, readers, for reading but I’m not sharing my 410 Degrees cookies. You can get your own directly from Adam at (858) 444-5059 (but please say that I sent you) or order online at www.410degrees.com. And, no, this is not a commercial. Just thought you’d want to know how and where to get the best cookies in the world!

Tips for Being a Successful Employee

If you pass a guy in the street who looks like he was just hit by a truck, he probably sells digital media on the Internet. If you pass a young woman who looks like she just spent four days in Vegas and slept less than four hours each night, she probably sells digital media to pay the bills. The business of selling digital media on the Internet – whether the format is audio, video or still pictures – has been clobbered in the United States and elsewhere by a pervasive culture of piracy and increasing low-cost options for consumers driven by intense competition.

How badly has the music industry been decimated by changes in consumer habits? A quick look at the numbers for pre-packaged, hard copy music sales speaks volumes. The Chicago Tribune has reported that no less than 115,000 albums were released in 2008. Of those, only 110 sold more than 250,000 copies. Another 1,500 topped 10,000 sales, and fewer than 6,000 even managed to reach 1,000 sales.

Remember when new albums would reach “Platinum” status on a regular basis? Not too long ago, “Gold” albums were so common that popular bands were almost disappointed when new releases only reached that level of success. For an album to be considered “Gold” it needs to reach at least 500,000 sales.

How about the Internet? Are Internet download sales filling the revenue gap left by declining sales of packaged media? The problem that the music industry is facing, beyond piracy, is a glut of new legal services that are driving down the cost of downloads. Some companies like MySpace.com are even rolling out free music services.

Writing on Billboard.biz, Glenn Peoples summed it up nicely: “Give consumers a way out of spending money on music and they’re going to take it.”

At the moment, iTunes dominates the sale of music online. But when iTunes started to roll out slightly more expensive songs in 2009, at $1.29 as opposed to the traditional price of 99 cents, more expensive songs dropped on the charts immediately. 40 songs from the “Top 100” list that were priced at the new $1.29 rate lost an average of 5.3 places in just one day.

On the one hand, small drops in sales volume will be offset by the higher price point – and could still result in an increase in revenue in the short term. On the other hand, chart positions are extremely important to musicians and their individual success. Additionally, lower sales volumes could mean more consumers are switching to “alternatives” to legal download services in reaction to attempts to drive up prices. The set 99 cents price point was likely a key factor in Apple’s success in luring music fans away from illegal downloads in the first place.

Still, to date the per-song download format has proven to be the only model that has enjoyed any real measurable level of success with consumers in the online music industry. What hasn’t worked so far for music sales online is the monthly subscription model – at least, not in the United States.

Rhapsody.com is a music service backed by Real Networks, and Best Buy now owns the formerly infamous Napster.com; both services offer an “all you can eat” approach to music sales. For a monthly subscription price in the $15 range, subscribers can stream all the music they want. But according to the New York Times, both sites muster only a few hundred thousand subscribers and have seen poor growth numbers, meaning neither are a threat to iTunes and the many millions of active customers who use it.

But the Times is reporting that despite the challenges faced by music subscription models in the past, a new group of entrepreneurs are nonetheless targeting that same business model, but for new services likely to make their debut in the American market in the near future.

Do the names Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis sound familiar? They should, because they’re the principals behind Kazaa.com, the P2P file-sharing network that many music execs believe helped lay waste to their business. They also started Skype.com, the increasingly popular VOIP service that’s taking a bite out of the traditional telecommunications companies. But the duo has now turned their focus from file-sharing and voice services to legal music sales, no doubt armed with insider information about the intense popularity of music with Internet users.

And, they’re looking directly at the monthly subscription model.

What we do know about the new service is that it will be called Rdio.com, but the Times has called the startup “secretive” and Zennstrom and Friis themselves have said little. It’s website currently offers only the simple message that “Rdio is coming” plus a chance to join a mailing list to be notified as more develops. The Times has reported that Zennstrom and Friis are currently negotiating with the music labels that fought a bitter legal battle with Kazaa.com, and expect to release Rdio.com to the American market in the not too distant future – though they probably won’t beat the European-based Spotify.com to the American market.

Like Rdio.com, Spotify.com will compete for American dollars with a monthly subscription service. But Spotify.com already has a year of experience under its belt in Europe, where it offers a paid subscription service plus a free ad-supported service. The free service isn’t winning fans with the American music industry executives.

“We like Spotify as our partner in Europe, but we would like them to move more toward a paid subscription environment,” said Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business at Sony Music.

And in another indication that entrepreneurs see promise in the monthly subscription model for music, yet another new company, Berkley-based Mog.com, plans to offer a subscription service this year; Mog’s prices will start around $5 per month. Mog founder David Hyman calls it “radio without restrictions” because it allows users to create their own playlists.

Mog.com currently focuses on music-related blogs and news, but the new “all access” service should be released sometime around Thanksgiving.

All this activity should have sellers of digital media keeping a close watch on the music industry for clues about whether Internet consumers can be convinced by well funded online marketers to abandon the iTunes format and embrace a recurring monthly subscription plan in exchange for access to large quantities of digital audio content.

How to Select the Best Business Advisers

Hiring outside advisers and utilizing members of the entrepreneurial infrastructure are key strategies for operating a successful venture. Too many times such personnel are chosen because they are friends or relatives of the owner. This is one of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make. Those selected should balance out the management team, bringing in expertise that the owner lacks and the business strongly needs.

Entrepreneurs give equally little thought to selecting members of the infrastructure, lawyers, accountants, and other management professionals. Again, they usually choose people they know, regardless of their expertise and reputation. Because most start-up ventures cannot afford to take on additional employees to handle various management functions, infrastructure contacts become especially critical. They must be seasoned professionals, chosen solely on the basis of their expertise. This is the only way to build a strong management team besides hiring one. On an informal level, friends, associates, suppliers, and vendors can be good sources of outside advice.

 

Establishing a board of directors and an outside board or council is one of the best investments entrepreneurs can make to strengthen the stability and growth potential of their ventures. An outside board gives a fresh perspective and objective feedback about the operation and its strategic direction. Unfortunately, few founders seek enough of such advice. Often they neglect to establish a board of directors or advisory council because they think no one would want to serve on a board or that setting one up is too much work.

 

Smart Strategies for Using the Infrastructure and Business Professionals

 

1 – Find a lawyer experienced in small business and establish a working relationship before you ever need to hire counsel.

 

2 – To save on legal fees, complete as much up-front work and information gathering as possible before meeting with your attorney.

 

3 – Never talk to another party’s attorney without having your own attorney present.

 

4 – To reduce legal costs, use standardized forms of conducting routine business, but always have your attorney review them before implementation.

 

5 – To avoid surprises with legal bills, estimate the number of billable hours for your legal project and then negotiate a cap or ceiling on the total fee.

 

6 – Select an accountant who is also a good business adviser, one who is familiar with your industry, knowledgeable about tax planning, and committed to building and managing a sound cash flow.

 

7 – If you are considering raising venture capital or going public, contact an accounting firm that has a track record working with promising smaller businesses.

 

8 – Before you begin a small to mid-size venture, obtain a business-owner’s policy to cover all your major property and business liability exposures.

 

9 – Ask your local or national professional and/or trade association if it has a group insurance arrangement with specialty brokers or insurers.

 

10 – Avoid “I can do it all” consultants.

 

11 – Use a written consulting agreement that specifies work assignments, responsibilities, and compensation.

 

12 – Assemble a board of directors to add credibility to your venture, enhance your corporation’s assets, and obtain management expertise and advice.

 

13 – Establish an advisory board to serve as your in-house management consulting team.

 

14 – Look for advisory board members or board directors who have the specialized knowledge and skills you lack.

6 Business & Marketing Strategies in Canada

As a business entrepreneur, I always look for new opportunities to expand our business ‘” both to increase customer base and revenue opportunities. I had started my business in Australia before I moved to Canada.

Canada has many advantages in terms of business, it is a very open-minded business culture, it is less conservative, although, probably not as active as US enterprises; and best of all, Canada is a multicultural society with very high degree of racial integration; this means, it is very easy to develop international opportunities.

 

Here are 10 strategies that I have gathered from other successful Canadian businesses and also from personal experience:

 

  1. Look beyond Canada

 

With USA next door, Canada has a natural strategic advantage than other markets. When we were in Australia, it was very difficult to discuss opportunities with US clients due to the time-difference. Furthermore, the Canadian and US business cultures are very similar, you will see a lot of Canadian businesses have majority of their clients in the US.

 

  1. Source products and goods from USA

 

This is the 2nd strategy, US is the world’s most affordable market in the world in many areas. If you see an opportunity, why not bring them into Canada and sell them here? This basically means operating an importing business in Canada, lots of people are doing it already and very successfully.

 

  1. A Canadian business in USA

 

This is quite an interesting model I have learnt when I crossed the border a few weeks ago. A lot of businesses near the border are operated by Canadians; they set up simple businesses like personal shopping, delivery from USA to Canadian clients. Many Canadians prefer to deal with Canadians in the US; so you can use this psychology to make a business if you are in the US.

 

  1. Internet is a very good strategy

 

Similar to the customers in the US, Canada has a very advanced Internet / e-commerce industry. It is one of the fastest growing industry in Canada at moment. Canadian customers are also amongst the world’s highest consumers willing to shop on Internet as well.

 

  1. Social Media  amp; Online AD

 

On the same point again ‘” you can see Canadian businesses are expanding rapidly in terms of social media marketing  amp; online advertising. There has been a large number of Internet advertising companies emerging, both small and medium sized companies; this is certainly where the advertising money is at moment in Canada.

 

  1. Multilingual Websites

 

Canada is a multilingual society, with English  amp; French as its official languages. Other popular languages used in Canada include Chinese, Hindi and Arabic. By having your website in different languages, you can open up new opportunities and reach the fast growing ethnic markets in Canada. The same principal is evident in the United States, where multilingual websites (eg. English-Spanish-Chinese) have attracted significant new businesses.

Why My 9-5 Won’t Cut It

I feel like I have been working all of my life. Now that I think about it, 59% of my living years have been spent working, which is more than half my life!! No wonder I feel the way that I do!! For as long as I can remember, I held on to the belief that working, going to school, and saving would lead to retirement with a nice nest egg. Words can’t express how disappointed I was a few years ago when I realized that I was nowhere near retirement. I’d made progress in some areas related to work and finances, but something still wasn’t quite right. I began to look at those around me in comparison to those I’d read about. I was sincerely troubled by media reports of salary gaps based on gender, net worth data differences grouped by ethnicity, and where I stood in the midst of those reports. During this period of listening to media on economic conditions and reading various articles online, I stumbled across a television program in progress. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that one program had a message that changed my life.TD Jakes, said something that I’d never heard of before as he was teaching his congregation about finances. He mentioned “multiple streams of income” and I knew, right then, that my 9-5 had to go!

In that moment, working for someone else, meaning an employer, was no longer my ultimate goal. My goals needed to include having multiple streams of income in addition to phasing myself out of Corporate America. The solution for me was simple and was one that I couldn’t negotiate. I had to begin another stream of income by starting my own business. Life is uncertain and risk is a part of life, but this is something that I had to try. As I conducted research on becoming an entrepreneur, I started my plan to end my 9-5. Within the plan, I measured some of the benefits of owning a business, which include:

 

– Being your own boss; deciding what you want for your business and how to make it happen.

 

– Gaining experience in a variety of disciplines and learning about every aspect of a business.

 

– An opportunity to make more money and build more retirement value in the process.

 

– Having control over how your time is spent.

 

Because I hadn’t always thought of myself as a business owner, I began to look at those who were successful. I contacted local entrepreneurs to schedule meetings so that I could learn from them and I also read about famous business owners. I figured if they could do it, why couldn’t I?? The richest man in the United States of America, Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard. I am not saying that Mr. Gates did anything wrong and I am not saying that education isn’t important. I am merely suggesting that you and I have more in common with Bill Gates than we probably realize. According to Forbes, his net worth in March of this year was $56 billion and this is a result of him becoming a business owner. I don’t know about you, but I’m leaning more towards Bill Gates’ blueprint instead of my employer’s succession plan for me and being an entrepreneur just might pay off!

 

More from this contributor:

 

How to Fireproof Your Career

 

Career Navigation: Your Very Own GPS

 

Are You Engaged (At Work)?

HedgeStop: Profile of a Financial Website

Would a site that offered fantasy stock trading be a hit with the younger generation? In the February issue of Inc. Magazine, Ryan McCarthy details the pitch given by owners of the Chicago web company HedgeStop (McCarthy, Ryan. “HedgeStop wants to be the MySpace of the financial community. Now it needs $2.5 million.” Inc. Feb. 2007: 32). The two young men who started HedgeStop seem to think it would.

Daniel Carroll and Christoper Carlevato are the masterminds behind this project, which aims to bring the popularity of social networking sites to the world of stocks and financing. Being in their mid-twenties themselves, these two are hoping to “sex-up” the world of business with a site that allows young investors (both casual and professional) to interact with others playing the stock game. Email and a fantasy stock market game are available, as are business links, blogs, and profiles.

 

Started in 2005, the company has been functional for a good year now, earning $48,000 in 2006. Membership is free and they already have steady customers, including a foreign exchange site and an online ticket seller. So far, HedgeStop has moved up to 2200 members with an additional 400 popping on about every week.

 

At the moment, Hedgestop has no steady employees. In this article they make their pitch, throwing out the fact that they’re looking for financial backing to hire some full time employees. The investors Inc. brought in to weigh in on HedgesStop and their projected needs had several opinions concerning this “new on the horizon” company.

 

Jonathan Silver of Core Capital Partners worries that HedgeStop hasn’t been proven to stand the test of time. He feels they would be better teaming up with an already made name, like Yahoo. InterWest Partners general manager, Thomas Rosch, feels that the makers of the site should hold off on looking for backing until they’ve gotten at least one million members. He’s also concerned that HedgeStop will lose their viewers once members find their niche and move further up in the business world.

 

The chairman of the board of New York Angels, David Rose, has concerns about whether HedgeStop is “alienating” teenagers, the biggest percentage of the population who use network sites. He feels the growth rate is too low and that Carroll and Carlevato could benefit by adding some tutorials on the subject. Though I personally felt the goal of three million members in five years was rather lofty, the experts find this to be a bit on the low side as far as goals are concerned.

 

Reading this article, Rose makes a good point. When someone thinks of MySpace anymore, it’s usually with the connotation of the teen user. Carroll and Carlevato never come out and say which age group they’re targeting exactly. “Young people” is the closest they get. This term encompasses too general of the population for the reader to find a target audience. Perhaps they are aiming this at teenagers. In a recent article I wrote for AC, I focus on teen entrepreneurs and programs to teach high school students the basics of the business world.

 

If teenagers make the target, my next concern would be whether there would be interest? While a trading website sounds great for the business bound of America, many teenagers are more worried about having a date for the prom than they are about their portfolio. Not to be discriminatory, it is hoped that those who could care less about a dance and really would rather have a nice stock background could access this site.

 

If HedgeStop’s main focus is the twenty-something group, they may be onto something. With those fresh out of college and looking to get some financial experiencing, tracking trading activity and playing the fantasy stock market could be a great learning tool for the future. Those savvy enough to want to keep up on the world of business can follow the links the page offers to get updated news on business and technology, read blogs, and check out interviews. Definitely geared toward the younger trader, this site offers a playlist, a humor section, and entertainment links for when you need something to look at besides the ticker tape. Even if HedgeStop members lose interest after they push their way up in the business world, once they become successful, a whole new generation will be waiting to explore the site.

 

If the focus of society gains strength in the financial aspect, HedgeStop could definitely gain popularity. While it may never be as prolific as MySpace or Facebook, with a little more time, it could easily find its niche on the World Wide Web.

Guidelines for a Successful Home Tutoring Business

Towards a Successful Home Tutoring Experience

With so many children and adults in all different kinds of schools today, it would seem like tutoring could be a successful business venture for a lot of adults – college post-graduates, retired teachers, you name it. It would not simply be successful, but it would be one of those rewarding and satisfying jobs that also happen to be successful in addition. Yet the tutors I have met and talked with about this talk about walking a bit of a tightrope, and say that business is not very constant, and that there are obstacles to success.

 

Second, as regards internet tutoring, the general trend unfortunately seems to be bank account scams and “pay to play” commercial websites. By advertising myself or seeking work as a tutor online, I am opening myself to a lot of spam with requests for receiving money from the United Kingdom and things like this. I have received literally a dozen of these spam e-mails allegedly from the United Kingdom, all with yahoo e-mail addresses, by the way. In the commercial tutoring market, there are literally hundreds of “tutor.com”-type websites asking you to pay a fee for sub-par services – you never hear from students, or if you do it is very few, not enough for a business. Even though the demand should be high, with so many people in school, the actual demand is low. The idea of tutoring just has not caught on. People probably end up going to a big brother or parent, or dropping the class.

 

If individuals are going to succeed at being tutors, they need a consistent supply of students who are willing to pay their rates, whether this is at home or online. Furthermore, if tutors go online, they are going to have to use their own devices to come up with technology that does it for them. Luckily, there are free tools out there. General Electric has a free whiteboard that two people can view and write on at the same time; it is located at http://www.imaginationcubed.com/Imagine. It is called “Imagination Cubed.”

A whiteboard can be really helpful for math and science ideas especially.

 

In addition to a place to write, a tutor might want to offer chat communication. Luckily, all she has to do is get a free Google or Yahoo! e-mail account, and get the student to do the same thing. So they can meet up at Imagination Cubed and open Yahoo! chat on the side, and work away. Finally, for an extra 20 – 40 dollars, the tutor can buy a headset with a microphone and a headset at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. All the student needs is a headset. Then they can use Yahoo! With Voice Chat Beta, and the tutor can talk and the student can hear her. If the student invests 20 – 40 dollars himself, then he can speak back to the tutor.

 

I have tutored both in other people’s homes and in my own apartment. There are a couple of things I have picked up from this. Number one, Very Important! – The tutor’s house is only for adult students. It’s too risky today to work with a minor in your home, period. That’s my opinion, and I have never done otherwise. Unfortunately, the Mary Kay Letourneaus and a small handful of other teachers have made a bad name for the vast majority of teachers by acting unprofessionally with students. So a good rule of thumb is to tutor a minor either at their house, with a parent around, or in a public place like a public library, ideally in a designated “tutoring area.” That said, it is possible and practical to give an adult student directions to your home and tutor them there. There you have the comfort of access to your own computer and your own books to use.

 

Finding adult students is the tricky part. I have advertised myself on Craigslist.net with some success. (I also got the spam I mentioned that way.) Craigslist.net is good for getting started, but it needs to become word-of-mouth in your community, that you are a tutor and you charge such-and-such, and you are good and helpful. If not, you will always be spending your time advertising. You have to develop repeat business and a word-of-mouth reputation. One thing you might try is talking to teachers you know at colleges, and getting them to pass your contact information on to students or put up a sign for you on their campus. My town has two universities and a community college, so there is potentially a nice market there.

 

Tutoring can be very rewarding, and a lot of fun too. You get to “hit the books” in different subjects, and meet interesting people. You may become friends with some of the people you tutor. Tutoring minors is a little more complex, since there are liability issues. And you need to tutor them in a public place, and keep their parent(s)/guardian(s) very involved. Tutoring online is a good opportunity, if you can find the clients, and if you can put together a good system for chatting and writing down facts on the screen and such. So give it a try and have fun!

Business Gadget Guide for 2007

 

With 2007 gone by, it’s the perfect time to brainstorm strategies on how to increase sales for your company. Buying and investing in essential and relatively uncostly technology is the way to go. Here are some essentials you need to know:

Notebooks

 

Try to buy a notebook that is impressive and sleek, but is also powerful enough to handle computer-aided design and managing business statistics. In terms of presenting to clients, if you are a performance or clientele oriented business, you’ll definitely want a bigger screen-preferably a 15-inch or more display.

 

However, for those businesses that are more concentrated on manufacturing than performance that won’t cater to present to the customer, a line of notebooks called the “ruggeds” are a better investments because of their reliability and durability. Nonetheless, they are much more expensive than normal ones, but say, for instance, that you are on a construction site, then the ruggeds are better because it is less fragile.

 

Here’s some recommendations: Search for a notebook with a Pentium M or Pentium 4 processor and at least a 1GB of RAM. Also, be sure to looks for a notebook that has 64MB of memory dedicated to it, as this is a crucial element of any company’s investment in a laptop that some forget is essential. Investing in a good, long-term warranty is a good bet.

 

Because a notebook is generally useful for two to five years before it becomes dysfunctional, many manufacturers do extend the standard one-year warranties to corporate customers because of the value that these high-spending folks will shell out. This is a little know fact, so make sure to take advantage of this opportunity for a very nominal cost. Personally I recommend the HP Compaq Business Notebook because though it is beautiful and powerful, it incorporates all types of business-suited needs. This option tends to be in the $1,987 range.

 

Digital Cameras

 

Digital cameras are the essential way of life for most businesses, so it all comes down to resolution. Though most manufacturers recommend megapixel shopping, it’s definitely not the best advice. What’s really important, in fact, is the color quality, noise, and tonal range, which are much more important in determining imagine quality. However, pixel count is often useful in comparing cameras, so here’s what you should look for: pixels come together to form light-based images.

 

The number of millions of pixels-hence the megapixels-talk about the dimensions of the screen or photograph. For instance, a 6 megapixel camera would translate to imagines of roughly 2,700 by 1,950 pixels. This number-the greater the better-translates into a crisper and more efficient photo. In many industries, the digital camera serves as a paramount importance because it takes pool shots that can be potentially used in the company’s marketing efforts. That’s certainly why most businesses should search for higher-quality cameras, at least 5 megapixels or higher.

 

I personally recommend the Canon Powershot A80 for a relatively low price of $229. It has durability and reliability mixed in with effiency and greatness of image, truly the best combination for any camera.

 

Palms

 

In today’s hectic world of never ending meetings and appointments, handhelds are often vital for any businessperson’s chaotic world. Called personal digital assistants (PDA), they offer not only basic organizational software, such as address books and calendars, but are crammed with cool bonus features such as wireless connectivity-useful to check your email from remote locations-or even GPS navigation systems.

 

Three important things to look for are: 1) Memory-you probably need at least a 32 MB to be used best for a general businessperson that also has a memory expansion slot. 2) Battery life, especially if you are the person who travels much. 3) Finally, expect buying a protective screen or case to protect these not so durable nor cheap tech equipment from ruination. This is a point that many people forget to consider, usually with the consequence of much scratches and occasional, the defunct of the palms.

 

Good luck with your shopping list in 2007 to increase your business’s success in consideration for buying these tech products!

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner

For the small business owner who is consumed with running and working at their own business, balancing their own books, maintaining and training employees, and servicing customers, email may be very far down the list of priorities.

If you are going to use email as an effective way to communicate with your current customers, and want to retain their business, there are some basic email etiquette tips that you should follow.

 

Take the time to follow these tips to best utilize the communication tool of email without the risk of annoying your customer base.

 

7 Email Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 1. Permission-Based List

 

The e-mail list you use to send out notices about the business should be based on email addresses which were received directly from the customers themselves.

 

Do not purchase lists of local email addresses and blindside people will potentially ill-obtained email addresses.

 

This tactic can backfire on you and turn current and potential customers away from your small business. People do not take kindly to unsolicited emails.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 2. Use the BCC

 

The biggest mistake small business owners make when sending out emails to their clientele is to forget to BCC the addresses. Using the BCC protects the privacy of your customers’ email addresses. When the BCC is not used, everyone you send an email to will see the email addresses of your other customers. Some people are very sensitive about unauthorized distribution of their email address, even when it was unintentional.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 3. Spell Check

 

Spell check every single email you send out of your business. After you have use the spell check, proof read the email. When possible, have another employee proofread the email as well. Even if the email is short, it needs to be checked.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 4. Get it Right the First Time

 

When sending emails to your customers, get the information correct the first time out. When the email includes dates, prices, events, or other important information, be sure the information is right the first time you send it out. You donnullt’ want to have to send a correction to all of your customer because you forgot a decimal point or typed in the wrong date.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 5. Lose the Caps

 

This is basic email etiquette that everyone should know by now but they don’t. Do not use all capital letters in the subject line or anywhere in the email body. IT IS ANNOYING AND LOOKS LIKE SCREAMING.

 

Email Marketing Tip for Small Business Owners: 6. Do not Forward Email

 

Never forward a personal email to your customers. This applies to all “scam” alerts, chain letters, and jokes. Just don’t do it. It is unprofessional.

Email Marketing Tip for Small Business Owners: 7. Do not Send Attachments

 

Also do not send email attachments to unsuspecting customers. It is different when you are working with someone and they are expecting an attachment. Do not send attachments of photos or flyers. Find a way to instead to include the flyer information in the email text. Photos can be posted on a web site.

 

Follow these email etiquette tips so customers don’t put your small business emails on their spam or junk email lists.