Making a Name for Yourself

You’re Not Alone — Two Resources For Work At Home Moms

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on You’re Not Alone — Two Resources For Work At Home Moms

Before the Internet, most moms typically had to choose between working outside of the home or being a stay-at-home mom. There were some women, of course, that tried to do both by working part-time. But part-time opportunities that paid well and were flexible were often hard to come by. Thankfully, the Internet has changed the employment landscape for moms. According to Parenting.com, women are not just working out of their homes; many are also starting successful, lucrative business ventures. Some have even used their experiences as stay-at-home moms to create and market successful products for their fellow mothers. Julie Aigner-Clark, for example, was a stay-at-home mom who started the Baby Einstein series, which she eventually sold to Disney. But working out of one’s home can have its drawbacks. For some, it can have its lonely and sometimes overwhelming moments. And it is at those times that home-based business owners really wish they had a peer or two to lean on. Fortunately, there are ways for these women to stay connected through a social network and to also find fellow work-at-home moms (WAHMs) to bounce ideas off of. Co-Working Spaces There are many pluses to having a home-based business. A WAHM could, if she wanted to, wear her pajamas to work every day. And she could also arrange her schedule around her children’s school and activities. But there will also be times when she may want adult interaction. And she’s not alone. Many other entrepreneurs are also seeking those types of interactions. That is one reason why so-called incubators and co-working spaces are beginning to crop up all across the nation.  Both incubators and co-working spaces offer home-based entrepreneurs all of the amenities of an office, including Internet access, desk space, copiers, and conference rooms. Some even offer receptionists. There are slight differences between the two. For instance:  Incubators are typically geared towards young start-up companies and offer a space where budding entrepreneurs can work closely with others who are also fighting to get their businesses off of the ground. In an incubator, these entrepreneurs can have their own office space, but they also share common areas where everyone can interact with and bounce ideas off of one another.  Co-working spaces are also popular with start-ups but are typically geared towards individuals or companies that need office space or a conference room on occasion. So if, for example, a freelance graphic artist wants to meet with a new client without having to worry about her children interrupting her, she could rent a conference room at a co-working space. Co-working spaces are also utilized by companies who have employees who work off site and occasionally need access to an office and all of its amenities.  Online Sites WAHMs often have questions that are very specific to their needs. For example, they may need to figure out if they can write their children’s summer camps off of their taxes if they are working from home. Or they may have questions on how best to market their new company or to find sub-contractors. Fortunately, there are online sites that offer a wealth of resources for WAHMs that can possibly answer these and other questions.  In addition, these sites also offer something that WAHMs need just as much as information. And that is a...

read more

3 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Custom Software Design Firm

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Custom Software Design Firm

When building custom software for a business, finding a developer who will provide high-quality work is of the utmost importance. Everyone who hires someone to build a custom software development solution wants them to do a good job. For businesses, though, this is especially important because company processes will be run on this software for years. Any inefficiency or incongruity in the programming could lead to inefficiencies or errors in business practices. If you run a company that needs custom software, here are three questions to help you find a developer who will do a great job. Do you have any references? Almost all developers will have references that they’ve hand-picked from among their happiest clients. Because a developer isn’t likely to refer you to a displeased client, references’ comments are only marginally useful when evaluating a developer. It’s not their reviews that you should listen for when asking this question. Instead, you should focus on what references the developer provides. At least some, if not all of them, should be businesses like yours. You may not find a developer that has worked with one company that’s identical to yours in every way. Their list of references, however, should include several businesses that have at least one commonality with your company. Peruse their list of references looking for businesses that are the same size as yours in your company’s industry located near your company If a developer worked with a lot of businesses that have one or two similarities with your company, they should be able to use that experience to anticipate and meet your company’s needs. If a developer’s never worked with a company that has at least something in common with your business, they won’t be familiar with your company’s unique needs. Are you willing to provide a paid discovery? Translating a vision for a program into a detailed custom software design proposal takes time. The process of turning your idea into a developer’s proposed course of action is called the Discovery Phase. Often, it can take four or five meetings until the developer has all the information they need to create the proposal. Paying for five meetings before any coding is done might sound unusual, but you should only work with developers who regularly do paid discoveries. Developers who insist on being paid for this part of the work realize that the phase is vital to the entire project and takes time. They know that investing time in meetings early on will reduce the number of delays they encounter while actually programming. By insisting that you pay for this phase, a developer is showing that it’s an important part of the work they won’t gloss over or rush. As long as you have hired a reputable developer who has good references, you shouldn’t be worried about losing the money paid for these meetings. By how much do your estimates and final bills vary? A project’s final cost may vary slightly from the initial estimate, but the two figures should be relatively close. If they are off by a lot, scope creep may be an issue with the developer’s projects. Scope creep is the slow expansion of a project by adding on new features as the work is being done. Whenever a new feature is added on,...

read more

What Are Some Inexpensive (& Effective) Ways to Market Your Service-Based Business?

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Are Some Inexpensive (& Effective) Ways to Market Your Service-Based Business?

If you’ve recently made the decision to start your own business providing a needed service to local residents, you’re likely feeling excited about what the future may hold—and feeling concerned about your ability to scratch out a living by yourself without the cushion of paid vacation days or employer-sponsored health insurance. Marketing your business early (and well) can be the key to gaining customers, but in today’s tech-savvy market, taking out a newspaper advertisement or listing your business in the yellow pages may not be enough. How can you engage social media and technology to effectively market your service-based business? Read on for several trends and ideas that can help you give your business some staying power in a competitive field. Offer a price or promotion customers can’t refuse Whether you’re building on an existing client base or starting from scratch, many of the most effective ad campaigns seem to always involve the word “free”—and letting people feel they’re getting a good deal is often enough to turn them from potential customers to regular or long-term customers once they’ve discovered your high quality of service, even if the prices you charge are slightly higher than those of surrounding businesses. By offering an introductory teaser rate (even one that leaves you with only a negligible profit on those deals), you’ll be able to reach a much wider audience than you would by keeping your head down and charging your normal rates.  Provide tangible rewards for loyal customers who pass along your name While giving out coupons or free services in exchange for positive online reviews is questionably ethical at best, you are permitted to reward those who recommend your products or services to a friend or family member who then hires your business. Making these rewards contingent on future purchases (such as offering a $50 credit to reward those who recommend others) can be a sneaky but effective way to sell even more services to a satisfied customer.   Seek out inexpensive community sponsorship opportunities  One of the most cost-effective ways to promote a fledgling business in a relatively close-knit community is to invest your advertising dollars into community youth and sports sponsorship. By sponsoring a T-ball team or gymnastics squad, you’ll be able to have your business’s name and logo emblazoned on shirts or uniforms viewed by hundreds of parents and spectators.  You may also be permitted to hang a banner with your logo at games or performances, and should rate a mention in programs and other promotional materials. As most of these types of sponsorship are for fairly low dollar amounts, this can be one of the best uses of your advertising dollars during a period of time where every penny spent counts.  Keep data on effective (and not-so-effective) marketing methods One thing you may want to keep in mind each time you begin a new marketing campaign is including a way to track effectiveness. Something as simple as a “mention this ad for a 10 percent discount!” coupon can let you know who is seeing your advertisements and whether these ads are enticing customers to choose you over a rival business.  Digital marketing services can provide you with more ways to track effectiveness than ever before. With a simple algorithm, you should be able to determine the...

read more