Your Home Business – The Little Red Engine that Could

No doubt you have heard about the children’s book, ‘The Little Red Engine That Could’ written in the 1930s. If not, the crux of the whole matter is the little train struggling along to haul a huge load of cars and merchandise and as it goes it keeps repeating while it chugs along: “ I think I can, I think I can”.

keep on trucking!

So obviously in motivational literature this book is quoted many times because it shows the determination and strength necessary to stay focused and to ‘keep on trucking’. We will always just about anywhere in this life, no matter what we do, encounter obstacles and difficulties. If we allow them to become our focus then they will prevent us from doing many things we would otherwise accomplish in spite of them.

It’s as if it is some sort of right of passage that we have to struggle. Why? To prove we really want something enough to fight for it? Or conversely to weed out those things that will just be a waste of time because we really don’t care about them enough to fight? It seems appropriate to remind of the saying: ‘What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger’. So this must really relate to the belief that when we overcome difficulties and trials that we become stronger because we are conquerors.

Looking at it from the dark side, if we think we can’t then we probably won’t – Or said another way ‘if you think you can’t you are probably right’. So you have to decide on how you will function with your mindset. Plenty of us are used to being very negative because so many things are not in our control and we wish they would be otherwise, but can’t do anything to change them. We have to ‘accept the things we cannot change’. Very good advice but sometimes it is hard to do and we wonder why that is the best we can do.

We really have to force ourselves sometimes to see things in a positive light – to find the good in things that really don’t appear that way on the surface. If you have to, then try to see conquering your obstacles and problems to continue on to do what you need to do as an exercise that is strengthening you. It is true that if you can learn to overcome the small things that this will help you when you have to overcome something that is really important or substantial.

Believe in yourself and stay positive. Try to focus on the light only and just brush off the rest and keep moving onward! It wasn’t a famous saying, or classic literature, but just a deodorant commercial – however it really stuck and is appropriate to this conversation. “Don’t ever let them see you sweat”. :)

What Are Your Whys?

What are Whys? Whys are the reasons you want to do something. It is important to remember your Whys because they will help to keep you motivated. It is not always easy to start a business especially if you are working a full-time job, have family responsibilities and little ‘extra’ money to work with.

why?

Your Why could be that you want to give your family more than you are able to with just your day job. Your Why could be that you know you are capable of doing more than you are doing now and you enjoy the feeling of gratification or satisfaction when you accomplish more. So both of those sound ‘optional’ or would be categorized as ‘it would be nice’.

Then there may be a Why that is just a driving wish like a new fancy car, a new house or a luxury vacation. These can certainly represent strong Whys but again, they are optional. It all depends on how much you really want something to say how much it will help to motivate you to go that extra mile to achieve it.

However your Why may be more critical such as you cannot meet your commitments and responsibilities unless you have a second income – or a first income if you have lost your job. Or you may have some special need from an emergency that involves medical or other insurance co-pays. You just can’t cover anything extra with your current income.

In some situations you may have no choice but to get a loan of some kind because you need the money right now. Using any kind of credit or loans in a big way is never a good idea and should always be avoided. It is hard to win when you have an albatross around your neck like a huge financial obligation.

…But then you can still develop a way to pay the debt back as fast as possible to minimize the interest going forward. In any case, even if none of these Whys are yours, here is one Why that can cover the whole gamut: Your Why can be that you realize the importance of having savings that you can fall back on in case of an emergency or special need.

This doesn’t have to be endless and you can maybe set benchmarks that you will work hard to save so much and when you reach that point you can spend a little on something nice and ‘optional’. You do deserve a reward for your discipline and hard work. Then go back and start saving again looking forward to the next time you have earned something special!

The Home Office – What is Ergonomics?

“Ergonomics is the scientific study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks.” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ergonomics/

sit straight!

What is becoming more and more evident are warnings about the dangers of sitting for long hours. Some of us can’t help it as we sit at computers or desks doing our jobs. However there are ways to mitigate the situation if we will listen to people who tell us to get up and move around at least every hour. This gets your circulation going, and relieves the pressure on your back from being in the same position for long periods.

If you are in denial about this because you don’t feel any pain, it is more than vague ‘back aches’ etc., it is literally killers like heart disease and diabetes that can develop from too much sitting. This seems to be the case even with people who exercise vigorously every day.

To make things worse, you have to add in commute time and TV time to work time, although you would hope reclining would help at least with some things as you are stretched out and more or less relaxed. So in any case there is every reason to get up at least hourly to stretch and walk around, to focus your eyes on something far away, or even to shut them briefly to relax.

It seems that our life style even though we don’t think we are doing anything that is particularly risky behavior can shorten our shelf life unless we take steps to protect ourselves from a myriad of things that can be harmful. This is a good recent article on this subject below:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618

Certainly those of us who work at home enjoy many freedoms that we might not feel comfortable in exercising if we are working for ‘the man’. It seems apparent that your larger corporations are more cognizant of things like ergonomics as they feel the bite when they have a lot of people out on sick time in addition to normal colds and flu, due to stress and pain. This can represent a massive loss of time and revenue.

Some smaller employers seem to have the attitude that ‘if you don’t like it you can leave’ when it comes to giving anybody extra space, time or resources to improve their health and well-being. They often have more of an attitude that you are being paid and that is all that they are responsible for. It is a very sad day that people have to put up with ogres because they need to put food on the table.

Since home business entrepreneurs are their own boss they should make sure to take care of themselves. This means to have good seating, good lighting, ventilation, etc. and definitely to get up and stretch and if possible walk every hour for a few minutes. Don’t look at it like slacking, look at it like if you get sick who will run your business?

Professional Courtesy Online

For some reason some people think they can just be as rude as they want to be online. It’s as if they believe they are dealing with machines and don’t feel that they need to be courteous in any way. People run the machines, and they do have feelings. Because they are working in ‘service’ does not mean they are sub-human.

be nice

There are several forms of abuse such as those that will just come in and tell you how to do your job or that you haven’t done something they expected, even though they don’t have a clue what is going on yet. They come in with a ready-made agenda and will send you a rudely long, tedious list to explain every single detail they could think of, and assuming you will do everything that they have determined will be necessary. This is usually before they even give the training or documentation so much as a peak to see what is necessary and/or what has already been done for them. If you have to say ‘it’s not my job’ in any shape, way or form, you can expect lots of attitude from there on out.

It would be a nice touch to have enough humility to pose the problem by asking a question rather than making an accusation. For example, ‘is there something I don’t understand?’ or ‘can you please explain why I can’t find such-and-such?’ So much kinder – whereas an accusation basically proclaims ‘you are not doing your job’ and/or ‘you have not met your obligation or promise’. How insulting when you know you have.

Then there are those that refuse to follow instructions. No matter how much time you spend trying to explain something logically so that they will know how to do it, they will not follow. At best, they will give it their own spin or interpretation as to what you must mean to say, and will do just sort of what you said. The problem is many things will not work except one way so they are going around in circles and you are forced to go around with them and wasting your time.

For one thing computers are just machines – they do not understand ambiguity – they understand off and on, yes or no, zero and one. They don’t get it with ‘sort of’ or ‘something like’. Just the same as why passwords have to be exactly what they are (for security) and web addresses need to be the exact correct spelling and syntax in order to function properly. Don’t start screaming that your website is down for the past week, when the problem is only that you can’t spell your own domain name which is running just fine.

Terminology is not inter-changeable so when a technical support or a customer service agent tells you to phrase something a certain way, when referring you to another site for assistance, don’t change the words around at all, especially if you are not sure what you are talking about; the person you are speaking to will not understand what you are trying to say and can only guess. Then they will either give you the wrong information as a result or tell you they can’t help you.

It is not fair that now you will have to take up more of someone’s time to explain again what should have been done or said the first time. Time is a finite resource for everyone – support is there to help you and they wouldn’t do that kind of work if they didn’t like it. But you need to realize they are human and have just so many hours in their day. Oddly enough you may not be the only person who requires assistance so please try to cooperate as much as possible.

Preparing Your Business for the New Year

Part of the preparation for the new year, of course is to close out the old year first. Especially for tax purposes you should be as organized as you can about everything. Even though taxes are not due until April the year actually ends December 31 and begins anew January 1. Don’t get caught off-guard with the April 15 deadline looming and then start scrambling around to find things.

pay the piper!

Particularly since we are talking about possible tax deductions that you can claim for your business expenses, that might make it seem a little bit more palatable to keep track of your expenditures as well as your income. You absolutely want to be able to document every penny you claim in case of an audit. They may be rare but they are always possible when you are self-employed and it will take you many years to live it down if you fail an audit.

It really helps to print out the previous year’s monthly bank statements and highlight any business expenses incurred, as well as payment processors such as Paypal.com and other places where your expenses are documented. Don’t have the denial attitude that you probably will never get audited and you will worry about it when and if it ever happens. You don’t have any idea when it will happen if it ever does and that is a real good reason you always want to be prepared.

You are responsible to keep your financial records for 7-years and you may as well have a folder for your taxes that can be prepared as part of filing your taxes each year. When you have your own business it really may be best to have your taxes done professionally as there are many forms that you need to fill out so that you get for example deductions for use of your home for business. You don’t want to miss anything in this regard just as you don’t want to miss reporting income that may come back to bite you someday.

Keep all paper receipts or printouts when you make purchases of equipment or office supplies, monthly affiliate program membership dues. and invoices for technical support, etc. These are all deductible for a business. It is actually a good idea to have a folder for tax receipts that you keep all year long and just drop things in it as they come in.

A lot of people don’t seem to know that you can file taxes for your business and claim deductions even if you have not made a profit yet. You can do this for a few years but then if you don’t make any money they will deem your business a ‘hobby’ and you won’t be able to deduct expenses anymore. (so one more reason to try as hard as you can to generate a profit with your business!)

p.s. be sure to check the IRS website for any changes or forms each year as well as your state’s tax website. Be sure your tax preparer is familiar with self-employment taxes.

Go to Play Not to Work

There is a new commercial on TV and it is actually from a technical college where someone earned a BS degree and is now able to repair electronic devices. Ho hum until he says, “I just love what I do and my wife says I am not going to work but going to play!” Now that stuck!

love what u do

That is actually a great way to look at things and is very relevant to the idea that we do best what we enjoy doing. This is especially important with a home business when you are starting out and have a full-time day job as well as any number of family and other responsibilities. Would somebody in their right mind add more to do if it either wasn’t necessary or wasn’t fun?

Being necessary never makes anything fun because we are forced to do it rather than choose to do it because we like it. If you can look at your home business start-up as a hobby and maybe by some stretch of the imagination can enjoy doing the research and etc. that is necessary to start a business, chances are we will be able to achieve something significant.

Of course if we really need the extra money we hope to earn from our new business, it can be a positive motivator. Many home business entrepreneurs start out with ‘extra’ money in mind but secretly plot to someday bring the business to the level that they can quit their day job and fire their boss. Don’t try this at home or at least don’t burn any bridges until you are really sure you have replaced your steady income from your day job.

It’s also a real good plan if you have reached somewhere near retirement age and have some benefits possibly even including social security. It is best to save everything as long as you can and accumulate as much as you can for the day when you are really too old to work. If you can save your benefits and live on what you earn from your home business that is ideal.

This may take a few different turns where for example at first it is the other way around and you support yourself on severance pay, early retirement, pension, 401K, savings, or whatever until you develop a business that is actually producing a steady income. Make this time as brief as possible because again you should be thinking in terms of saving as much as you can for the future when you may really be unable to work anymore but still need to live.

It is a very sad fact that statistically way less people than you would imagine have substantial savings for their retirement. Especially thanks to the last recession many that should be looking to retire are looking for part-time work for seniors. Another recession could happen at any minute so try to be prepared. It is a true fact that many people lost their entire life savings, retirement, real estate investments and everything else in the last recession just 8 years ago. Starting over at retirement age must be really heart-breaking as well as an extremely almost insurmountable uphill battle.

Focus is the Only Way to Achieve Balance

It is very difficult to really achieve true balance in your life. Stuff always happens and you may find that that your perfect plan is being bent out of shape constantly. While your home business should be a top priority, obviously your family or any unexpected emergency would take precedence. As well if you are still also working at a day job that would be very important in the scheme of things.

stay focused!

If you have created a real schedule or plan that indicates what hours it is your intention to devote to your home business, then you should try very hard not to procrastinate or push it forward because it is the only one of your top priorities that you really control and can consider ‘flexible’. Ironically the time you spend online can be some of the hardest time to remain focused.

There are a million and one things that vie for your attention online, the minute you logon. So this is the place where you have to be really rigid about what you will spend your time on and what you will need to ignore. This is because you can really waste your time and start spinning your wheels. You don’t really get anything accomplished that will help you develop your business.

One of the worst enemies of keeping focused online is your email. The best thing you can do is make folders for the companies you do use and know; just push the emails into the folders without doing more than glancing at them to see if there is anything time-sensitive.

Companies you don’t know you can either push to the spam folder (wise) or if you see something you may want to read then have a folder for that named ‘Miscellaneous’ or something. However it is a real good idea not to do business with spammers and if you believe that it makes it simpler to get rid of much of the chaos in your inbox.

Honest to God, everything that comes in is not the latest, greatest thing that will save the world. Don’t be afraid to ‘miss opportunities’ by just putting them in the spam folder. What you need to worry about is missing the opportunities you already have because you are wasting time chasing after smoke and mirrors.

Strictly limit your time for email. Of course you want to respond to any customers or prospects as a priority, and be sure you have paid bills or renewed things on time. Maybe take some time to give the folders some brief attention. ‘Take care of business’ and then move on to something more productive.

Reading the jokes people send you, reading the news online, reading social networks and forums that are not directly business related must be seen as entertainment time. That’s fine but don’t include that in the time you commit to spend on your business.

E-Commerce Possibilities for a Home Business

If you have a reasonably up-to-date computer with a decent (reliable, fast as possible) Internet connection, then you have the foundation for starting a business at home. There are other necessary components that are mostly intangible like being consistently motivated and having the discipline to work at your business as a priority just as you would a job.

e-commerce for home business

Now if you have the two main bases covered, all you need to determine is which kind of a business you might want to develop online. If you really have no idea, then perform a search on Google for ‘business opportunities’ and you will be overwhelmed with the number of links that will display. Pick the ones that sound the best and research them further.

Once you have determined one or more avenues that you wish to explore, then you will need a plan. In your plan you need to determine your resources – your time, your skills, your money, etc. Make it loose and flexible as it can and will change as you go along and learn more about what is necessary. It is your creation and you own it. You can add to it, subtract from it or do whatever you want to it.

The ideal situation is to have a job when you first start to develop your online business. This is because it will take some time and you need to live each day as you build your business. If you do not have an income it will tend to make you desperate and you will not be as capable of making the best decisions for the long-term. So maybe your plan needs to start with finding at least a part-time job so that you can cover your bases and will not need to be preoccupied with worry about paying your bills.

You can choose what kind of an opportunity you want to explore, and it may be good to pick a few different ones either so you can see which one you like best and do the best with, or to diversify permanently so that you will have multiple ways to earn money simultaneously. You will find with participating in online business for example affiliate programs, that you will have plenty of time to do everything you need to.

Take one thing at a time from your chosen group of opportunities and get an overview of what is involved – what they are selling, how much it will cost you to participate, how much you can make if you make a sale, what resources they provide to affiliates – i.e., training, marketing tools, etc. Spend enough time to understand clearly, and then move on to the next opportunity and do the same.

Then when you have your research done as far as what your income sources will be, it is time to find out how to promote them. Ideally at least one of the programs you join will provide training in Internet marketing and advertising and in most cases whether you have a combination of programs, services or products, the basic strategies to promote them will work equally well for all of them.

Internet Marketing Business Success

The right mindset is probably the most significant skill to cultivate if you want to succeed with an Internet marketing business. Successful marketers seem not to pay any attention to negativity and almost seem to be in denial sometimes. The point is why waste time and energy on anything that is not conducive to business? This is what you call true focus.

internet marketing success

Successful Internet marketers realize sometimes they have to work hard if they want to achieve a goal. They learn effective techniques and they use them consistently. They are aware of the frequent changes in the industry and do not hesitate to incorporate new ideas and trends into their marketing strategy.

Serious Internet business entrepreneurs realize that there is no magic or gimmick that will ever replace them being engaged in their business. They know even ‘autopilot’ requires their attention at various junctures. While various tools or services can help to get the work done, one must still be cognizant of what is going on in their own organization.

An Internet marketing business is just like any other serious business. It requires discipline, expertise, and hard work. Every business needs time to produce the results you want to achieve. How much time is always variable and depends on many factors. Some we can control, and others that we can’t. We have to be willing to see the big picture and roll with the punches.

Maybe it is easier to stay focused when you are having fun. It does seem that successful Internet marketers are enjoying what they do. Of course you can’t really see people smiling on the Internet but it does always seem that they are when you communicate with someone who has a handle on what they are doing and loves being there!

Components of the success mindset include unconquerable positivity, focus, self-confidence, a willingness to learn and keep learning (an open mind), patience and logic. If some of these things don’t come naturally, we can really cultivate them by focusing our attention on them. Sometimes that happens when we are showing the opposite characteristic and we can remember to counter it.

Kind of like the cartoons where we have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The idea is to listen to the angel if we want to do the right thing. It may sound funny, but really isn’t, because we can really cause our own demise with our attitude, as much as we can create our own success.

Social Network Marketing

Social network marketing is one of the latest in a series of additional avenues available to Internet marketers that can increase their visibility online. Although it seems to be mostly ‘social’ chattering, there is a real potential to promote business on social networks. The concept of ‘networking’ has the perfect atmosphere in this new medium and in fact ‘social’ can translate to ‘professional’ quite nicely.

social network marketing

Some feel that there are other technologies that have a much more focused, more conducive to business environment specifically because it is such a ‘free-for-all’ atmosphere on social networks. If you want to have a focus group or a meeting, there is Skype conference, there are applications like Go to Meeting, or other ways to have a private VoIP web conference room.

Maybe an idea is to meet your friend Charlies’ Aunt Emma on a social network and begin chatting. Then at some point you have a discreet* conversation where you tell her about the glories of having your own home business. If she is interested maybe you invite her to a web conference or group chat to explain the details.

*Discreet – one of the main precepts of ‘networking’ is ‘to know and be known without having an (obvious) agenda’. Don’t insult people by ‘selling’ the first few times you meet them. If you push or rush you may very likely lose a friend and an opportunity. If you take your time and build a relationship it’s much better in both respects.

Creating a casual, natural environment in which to build relationships is conducive to promoting friendships as well as business opportunities. You can find stats that tell you for example a job recruiter is much more likely to consider a candidate who they have met; or who they have an introduction to than just an anonymous person on a message board. Well it is the same thing with trusting someone in a business opportunity. It is very natural to collaborate with someone you know online more so than just some ad that is pushed into their face.

Social network marketing can be a great benefit to many different situations as well as to online business. Again, it can be a natural environment where people can share information. They can promote their various causes and interests to others. Obviously they can reach millions of people online that they probably would not have access to offline.

If we widen our circle of ‘friends’ we are then going to be exposed to more networks of friends and families. It is a really great opportunity if done right. Much like the ‘old-school’ online forums, we are able to communicate with others publically. We can therefore reach a large audience.

If applicable the conversation can become private with the use of instant (chat) and private (text) messaging if you wish to go into more depth and answer specific questions. Instant communications is a great benefit to conducting business. It has none of the difficulties that tedious phone calls, voice mail messages, and email present.