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Best Home Businesses Are Those That Deliver on Promise – Beware of the Hype

The best home businesses out there are those that deliver on the promise but how will you know that when you are researching?  If you were to put the phrase into the search engines there will be hundreds, perhaps even thousands of results because after all everyone thinks their home business is one of the best home businesses out there, right?

My definition of the best home businesses is those that are right for you, those that meet your needs and exceed your expectations. People have a number of reasons why they want to start up a home business. It may be that you want to get out of the rat race, you want to sack your boss, want to spend more time with your loved ones doing things that you want to do that a regular job prevented you from doing. It is very easy to get caught up in the marketing hype that is out there and to lose sight of your reasons for wanting to find the best work at home business.

How to find the best online home businesses out there

The first place you would start is the search engines. Your decision should not be taken lightly nor should you act on a whim by jumping straight into the first home business that is attractive to you. You want to be asking yourself a number of questions:

  • What is it I enjoy and am good at (my motivators and strengths?)
  • What is my level of IT ability – do I want an online home business or offline?
  • Do I want to buy into an already established business or do I innovate and start a business in a low niche market?
  • Can the home based business be worked alongside my regular job, at least in the early stages?
  • How much time do I have to devote to the home business?
  • Is the business time sensitive, i.e. do I have to have things done by a specific time each day?
  • How much money am I willing to invest and what is the predicted return on my investment?
  • How long could it take me to get my initial investment back?
  • Are these home businesses I am researching aligned with my strengths and motivations? 
  • If not, is there a new skills set I could learn, something that will both challenge and develop me?

Home based business ideas?

You may have a number of home based business ideas you are toying with and that is good. If your home based business is something you have a real passion for, then this will be evident to those potential customers as you will build your business around your passion. On the other hand, if you are moving into the home business arena out of necessity, then this could lead to desperation and again this will come across to your potential prospects.

What if it is something I have never done before?

The best home businesses that are out there tend to be those that have a mentoring program already built in. You will probably find that alongside the mentoring, there is a whole plethora of training tutorials also built into the business. Caution though, please do your due diligence with these types of home based businesses as all too often they do not deliver on the promise and you could find yourself really struggling. Do ask questions, lots of them; speak to others who are in the industry, research the organisation through all mediums such as articles, blogs, videos etc and find out what people are saying about it.

Most of all though, never give up on your dream of finding that freedom that the best home based businesses can offer you. Even after you have made your purchase, be mindful of the reasons why you came into the industry and ensure the promises made to you are being delivered upon. Do not settle for less because you deserve more.

5 Steps to a Professional eBay Business

Setting your eBay business up as described in this article will give you a professional presence on eBay that will instill confidence in your potential customers making them more inclined to do business with you than your less professional competition …

1. Open an eBay Business Account

If you already have a personal eBay account which you use to buy and sell personal stuff, I recommend opening a separate BUSINESS account. Remember potential customers can view your other auctions and can also see what you have bought by clicking on the links in your feedback. If you are buying and selling personal stuff using the same account as you use to run your business, you will look less professional and less credible which may affect potential buyers’ confidence in buying from you.

You will appear more professional and credible to your customers if your business account only has business related transactions. There are other advantages to having a business account:

When selling on eBay, “Business Seller” will be displayed in the Seller Information Box of your listing, identifying you as a professional.

As a business seller, you can register with your business name on eBay which enhances your credibility (“AntiqueBookStore” is a much more professional ID than “JohnSmith267″)

Your business name will be displayed in all communications with the buyer, such as invoices, which again enhances your professional image and credibility.

As a business seller you can register for VAT and provide eBay with your VAT identification number and receive invoices net of VAT on your eBay fees.

To set up a separate business eBay account in addition to your personal eBay account you will need to choose a separate ID and have a separate email address.

If you don’t already have a separate email address that you can use for your eBay business, don’t let this hold you up. Get your business started using your personal eBay account but change your ID to your business name.

But I recommend that you sort out a separate business account as soon as possible so you can have separate personal and business eBay accounts. In the meantime you can upgrade your personal eBay account to a business account.

2. How To Choose An eBay User ID

As far as your eBay customers are concerned, your eBay User ID is your business name. You should choose your eBay business User ID carefully to ensure that it appears professional which will give customers more confidence to transact business with you. Your User ID needs to be memorable so customers can easily find you if they want to come back to you to do repeat business with you.

Ideally your eBay business User ID should be linked to your product line. So if you sell ebooks, your User ID could be ebooksgalore or ebookseller. You can also use your User ID to advertise your offline business if you have one. Obviously eBay doesn’t want to encourage anyone to do business with you not through eBay, as they won’t earn their fees. So you can’t blatantly advertise your non-eBay business by using a URL (such as ebooksgalore.com) as your User ID. But you could use ebooksgalore as your User ID and it would be very easy for someone on eBay to find your non-eBay website if they wanted to (by guessing that it is ebooksgalore.com).

3. Get A Business Email Address

You should also have a separate business email address because johnsmith @ WidgetsRUs, or info @ WidgetsRUs or support @ WidgetsRUs are much more professional and will instil more confidence in prospective customers than johnsmith @ hotmail.

Also, you can put your email address in your eBay listing which can drive traffic from your listing to your non eBay website if you have one. If you add “For further information, send me an email at info @ WidgetsRUs” to your listing, visitors to your listing will realise that you have a website at WidgetsRUs .com and might visit your site.

If you already have a commercial website, you probably already have a business email. If you don’t, you first need to get a domain name and then use that as your email address. Again, if this seems daunting, don’t let it hold you up. Get started using your existing email but I recommend you get a business email address as soon as possible.

4. Get A Business ‘Phone Number

Ideally you should have a separate business telephone number rather than using the same number that you use socially. This ensures that your business calls are always answered professionally in the name of your business. This is particularly important if your existing number gets answered by other people that you live with. You can have a separate line to your home but this will incur installation and line rental charges. You can use a separate mobile just for business calls but having a mobile number as your only business number will not instil confidence in your customers who will not see you as a proper business.

Alternatively you can use a call answering service. This will enable you to advertise your business with a proper telephone number that is answered professionally in your business name 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will enhance your business image.

The way it works is the call answering service provider allocates a ‘phone number that is unique to your business. When someone dials your number, the operator’s computer knows the caller is trying to contact your business and the computer screen tells the operator what company name they need to answer the call with and how they should answer the call, depending on your instructions. The operator will then explain to the caller that you are unavailable to take the call, take a message and email it to you so that you can respond as and when you like.

If you set up your business properly, you shouldn’t get too many ‘phone calls so this service can be set up on a pay as you go basis so that you only pay for each call received. If you do receive a large number of calls, you can switch to a monthly tariff that is likely to be cheaper.

Again, I recommend that you have a separate business ‘phone number but if you don’t want to set this up just yet, do not let this delay the start of your eBay business.

5. Open A Business PayPal Account

Most people want to pay by credit card online. If you don’t accept credit card payments, your business will not seem professional and you WILL lose sales. In the past, to accept credit card payments, you had to have a merchant account. These could be costly and difficult to get. PayPal enables you to accept credit card payments without having a merchant account.

PayPal is a service that allows buyers to send payments SECURELY online to sellers WITHOUT having to disclose their bank account or credit card details. The small percentage that you have to pay PayPal per transaction is a business expense that is well worth paying. PayPal is owned by eBay and it is now compulsory for you to have a PayPal account to sell on eBay.

When paying by PayPal, buyers can pay from their PayPal account balance, direct from their bank account or via credit cards – whichever suits them. So a PayPal account enables you to accept credit card payments WITHOUT having to open a merchant account which can be difficult and expensive. PayPal also enables you to get paid INSTANTLY without having to wait for a cheque to arrive and clear.

When buyers pay you by PayPal, their payment goes into your PayPal account. You can leave it there to use when you buy things on the internet via PayPal or transfer the money in your PayPal account into your bank account.

Again, ideally you should have a business PayPal account that is SEPARATE from your personal PayPal account so that business transactions are done in your business name, not your personal name. PayPal allows you to have separate business and personal accounts as long as each account is linked to a different email address, bank account and credit card.

Having a PayPal account also entitles you to PayPal’s Seller Protection policy.

Setting your eBay business up as described above will give you a professional presence on eBay that will instil confidence in your potential customers making them more inclined to do business with you than your less professional competition.

Business Sale – An Event Or a Process?

How to get the most out of a business transition

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Zigler

Most of the business owners we talk with have a fundamental misconception about the business sale or the business transition – they see exiting their businesses as an event instead of a process. From our experience, viewing the business transition as an event instead of a process can lead business owners to make decisions that lead to unwanted outcomes. Without a proper mindset, business owners who go through the transition process typically do not end up optimizing either their business or their personal outcomes.

For many mid market privately held business owners, a majority of their wealth is tied up in their business. Consequently, lack of proper perspective and planning for the business transition can lead to significant financial distress for the business owner.

A mid-market business owner typically plays two roles: The first role is that of an executive who runs a well oiled machine with obligations to employees, suppliers, customers and the community. The other role is that of a shareholder who is trying to maximize the return on investment for the benefit of self or family or an estate. Depending on individual perspective and situation, the transition being sought could be to get out of one or both of these roles.

We view business transition as a multi step process that should be started several years in advance of the planned exit date. The first step in business transition planning is establishing the motives for seeking the transition and identifying the desired outcomes of the process. Depending on the individual situation this could be a very simple or complex matter.

The next step in the process is to establish a proper transition channel that can produce the desired outcomes. The transition channel could be internal or external. An internal channel could be a business transition to heirs, employees, co-owners, etc. An external channel could be an acquisition by another company, PEG, individual buyer, or going public, etc.

Once the proper transition channel is established, the next step is to check the feasibility of making the transaction work with the desired target within the chosen channel and the methods that can be applied to make the transition occur. The methods used should be picked after careful tax and estate considerations. In cases where the owner is relying on the cash flow from the business to retire, special consideration needs to be given to ensure the seller gets a cash flow that is commiserate with his or her expectations. Care also should be taken to protect the cash flow and ensure a comfortable retirement. For internal transitions, ensuring the company has a good capital position and access to needed capital helps to make sure the transfer is successful.

Once the motivations, goals and outcomes are well established and refined, the business owner needs to establish a timeline for the process. A properly planned transition will allow the business owner to position the company in a desirable light during the exit process. Positioning the company makes the value of the company visible to the acquirers. Attention needs to be paid to topics such as:

- Has the business been built for a transition?

- How will the transition occur?

- Is there a logical evolution path for the business? What is the potential?

- What level of investment is necessary to sustain the business or grow it to the next level?

- Who would be the ideal person or what would be the ideal entity to be the next owner?

- Is there a legacy that the owner wants to leave behind?

- Is the business environment expected to face a head wind or tail wind in the coming years?

These questions and others need to be answered in the context of the mindset of the likely acquirer. For example, a typical acquirer for a mid market company is likely to be a PEG, a consolidator or a large company. The business owner needs to be keenly aware that these acquirers have considerable experience making acquisitions and among other things they are going to be looking carefully at how the company performed in the past and how it will perform during the exit process.

A business is ready for the market only after the business is prepared for the anticipated inquisition. The subsequent steps including the transaction itself and satisfaction of the post transaction obligations are complex matters that require a tremendous amount of creativity, negotiation skills, understanding of the tax laws, attention to details, and other deal making skills.

In summary, business transition can be a complex process and needs to be tended to with care. Lack of understanding of the process means that the business could wither away without a transition ever occurring or the business owner could get much less out of the business than what is possible. The business owner needs a disciplined process that can achieve the necessary outcomes. Having a proper mindset about business exits is imperative to protect one’s nest egg and the family estate.

A competent mergers and acquisition advisor who can walk the business owner through these steps can help the business owner to establish and achieve the desired outcomes.