Tag Archives: Home Business

Starting a New Business

Starting a New BusinessMany consumers across North America are thinking about starting a new business. These consumers may have either been laid off prematurely. Or they retired prematurely or have retired but need something to do in their daily lives. As a result starting a new business is one solution to meet this need to be busy and involved in their lives.

Many consumers find themselves in a position where they are able to start a new business. Technology is providing many new solutions and opportunities for business people. Whether it is a technology solution that is being offered. Or technology that is being used to enable a small business, many consumers are taking advantage of this huge opportunity. Therefore they are creating their own small businesses. Millions of Canadians and Americans this year will develop and start their own small business.

Starting a New Business – Seniors

Seniors and people over 50 are part of the fastest growing group of people who are starting new businesses. The majority prefer to be self-employed and prefer to be their own bosses. Even though they may have left an employee position, they have much more freedom and opportunity when they run their own business. The self-employed are more likely to be educated with over a third of new business owners having a university degree. Women tend to be more successful than men at starting and maintaining a new business.

Educational services and healthcare services are the fastest-growing new business opportunities.

As a result, the following segments appear to be some of the major areas the people are starting new businesses in and provide many opportunities.

Starting a New Business is a Challenge

Starting a small business is not for the faint of heart. Government regulations, incorporation, banking and technology services need to be resolved. They are needed to operate the business. For example a strategic plan and a business plan are required. Along with a product development, service development and marketing plans. They are all required to develop a long-term successful business opportunity. A lot of hard work and long hours is often needed to get the business started. Subsequently you must keep it profitable in the short-term.

Increased connectivity – Technology is increasingly leading to a higher level of cooperation between small business, self-employed and larger firms. As a result larger firms are calling upon the specific expertise of smaller enterprises to complete projects. This kind of cluster of competencies and strategic alliances will be temporary. As a result at the end of a particular project they will dissolve. They will reform into other groups that are focusing on a particular solution, project or customer.

Outsourcing

Growth in outsourcing – Canadian small businesses are in a co-evolutionary relationship with corporate business in the economic landscape. Small businesses are needed by large corporations to create the necessary reach and depth into local markets as distributors and agents for products and services. Small-business owners also provide temporary manpower in terms of contract services to larger business and government.

Increased demand for personalized products – An aging population means growing sophistication and a rapid change in consumer tastes. This is positive for self-employment as small scale operations are flexible and can support increased demand for personalized services given their ability to focus on niche markets. Small-business owners can focus on providing services to a growing senior population. They are unable or unwilling to do much of their own work around their homes and yards.

For more thoughts about changing lifestyles, click here.

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Give Up the Office Desk

Give Up the Office DeskMore and more people are transitioning from the office to move from their cubicle at work to working out of their home or even at a coffee shop. Some people leave the office just so they can concentrate on a project or task. They need to get away from the constant interruptions that may occur at the office from colleague’s etc stopping by their office. Being able to focus 100% on writing a report means you have can get so much more done in less time. Some business people have made that transition out of the office all together. They no longer maintain an office. How do they give up the office desk and where do they work? We will examine this in some more detail.

Give Up the Office Desk – Working at Home

Working at home has many advantages for the employee as well as the company you work for. No more commutes to the office, no office space to maintain and a more relaxed atmosphere at home can reduce overall stress for everyone. Working at home takes dedication and commitment to doing one’s job without slacking off out of site of the boss. It also means being available all of the time with set hours and having the tools to do your job.

This usually means a separate phone line, a high speed data connection, printers, copiers, fax machine and a smart phone to be able to monitor messages all of the time and to respond to calls while out of the home office.  The advantage is that you save that commute time which for many people can be two hours a day or more assuming a one hour one way trip to the company office. This is a huge improvement to quality of life for many people.

Working at the Coffee Shop

We often see people working on their computers at coffee shops and even in some restaurants. The key appears to be having access to the internet, although some will be working off line on reports or assignments if they are a student. If you are the type that can concentrate with all of the distractions around you in a coffee shop, you have it made. Otherwise coffee shops may be a bit difficult to work in. Especially if they are noisy and you are also taking calls from people at work or customers. Personally I have worked at my computer in a coffee shop, but it is not my favorite place.

Give Up the Office Desk -Cheaper for Business

The jury is out regarding whether it is cheaper for business or not. Sure there are savings in terms of corporate office space that is not needed in a office building. You still have the communication costs that go along with having an employee, the benefits etc. The question is whether these savings are countered by people goofing off at home or elsewhere whey they are supposed to be working.

Most people will actually work more than they would at the office and get more done as well. Some will not and this is the group that manages need to pay attention to. In reality, every job should have a set of expectations and deliverables that can be measured in some way. If these are well defined, then an employee and the employer both know what the expectations are and can be measured accordingly.

More Flexibility

There certainly is more flexibility for employees when they work at home. Taking the kids to school, looking after sick kids and dealing with other personal issues is much easier. Flexible working hours make this all possible and employees typically will make up these hours and much more. They actually put in more hours that they might otherwise if they were at the office. How many times have you been to meetings in the office, when someone gets up, apologizes that they have to leave the meeting. They have to catch the train home or their ride home. When they work at home, there is no train or ride to worry about. They can stay on the conference call until the meeting is concluded.

Always Available – Mobile Phones. PDA’s etc

With the tools available today, such as smart phones and PDA’s, everyone can stay in touch with the office. They can keep up with email and other productivity requirements almost anywhere. Get equipped with the latest gadgets and you will have the freedom to work almost anywhere.

Setting up Your Writing Business

Setting up Your Writing BusinessRecently we saw an article about setting up a home business doing writing for a living. This was really a catch-all title and had some good ideas in the article. Since we have some personal experience with running a home business, we thought it would be a good idea to add our two cents worth about Setting up Your Writing Business.  We also added a couple of suggestions as well, which people may find interesting and useful. Our own home business is a combination of writing, SEO work, and creating web sites for our customers. We have been in this business for the past 5 years and have gained a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure out of working for customers around the globe.

Issues You Should Consider About Setting up Your Writing Business

  • Find a place were you can concentrate and will not be interrupted by the rest of the family.  Make this your “Home Office” or  “writing” place and designate it as your office. It could be a den or one of the bedrooms. Living rooms and family rooms are really not good locations, too many distractions.
  • Make that your official “home office,” then read up on what the tax people will allow you as a tax deduction. Check with your accountant as well.
  • Get an accountant to do your books. While this might be expensive for some, it is well worth the expense. The tax people will be less inclined to audit you if they know a professional accountant has completed your tax statements.

Work Time and Schedules and Work Organization

  • Establish your work hours. Working at home gives you lots of flexibility, however most of us need a schedule to be effective. Some people work better during the morning while others are better later in the day.
  • Protect a time each day when you can do some actual productive work and not just checking email, answering letters, meeting people for coffee, etc.
  • Create a filing system. This applies to your computers disk drive as well as paper files you may have. Be organized , it will save you lots of time.
  • Set up your address book. Keep emails and phone numbers handy…and if you want to move into the bold new world of 2010, invest in a smart phone or something that will keep those handy and allow you to respond on the fly if needed by a customer.
  • Create a calendar for personal as well as your business. Not just for your day, but for the big projects you’ve got. It’ll help you figure out what you’re doing and when.
  • Group similar activities. Do all your mail at one time. Group your phone calls back to back so you get through them all. Ditto email, if that were possible.
  • At the same time flexibility is key in a competitive world. You may have to drop everything to deal with an important clients requirements.

Finances and Accounting

  • Set up a bank account that is just for your business so you can easily keep track of your business income and expenses. Sign up for PayPal.
  • Keep detailed summaries of all expenses. I do this every Saturday morning so I am always up to date.
  • Be very organized about your income and expenses. This will only help to make it easier to complete your taxes at the end of the year.
  • Pay yourself a salary to establish a regular income. This will help you budget in your personal life and meet cash flow requirements. Of course you need to have the income to support your salary.
  • If you are concerned about liability, you may also want to consider incorporating and track all of your income and expenses through your incorporated company.

Good luck with setting you your business. These are relatively simple and straight forward guidelines that will help anyone in setting up a small business.

We welcome tips from our readers. Please leave a post with your suggestions. Spam comments will be deleted.

Home Sitting Basics

Home Sitting BasicsThere are lots of companies that advertise that they will look after your home while you are away on vacation or business. But what services do you really need and what should you do to check these people out? This is the most common question that most people ask me about home sitting services. All you need to do is set up a web site and you are in business! Anyone can do that so you need to be careful. We will cover some of the Home Sitting Basics that you may want to think about.

There is much more to it than that. We encourage customers to read though the rest of this blog to fully understand what is needed.

Home Sitting Basics You May Need

The most import thing is to protect your investment and that is your home. You may have pets and plants and stuff. But the real investment that can make or break you is your home. Many people lock the door and away they go, not thinking about their home until they return from their vacation.

What they may not realize is that their insurance company has specific guidelines about what they require in order to maintain your property insurance. Some require that the home be checked every 48 hour. While others are ok with as long as a week if the water is turned off. If you do not make arrangements for this type of check, then your insurance may be become invalid.  You could suffer a significant loss because they will not pay for your losses.

This point is the most important of all the points we will discuss in this blog. Call your insurance company. Verify what you need to do to maintain your insurance on your home. Then make the appropriate arrangements. Your home sitter should be able to provide a record of visits to substantiate your claims!

Your home sitter should check that there is no water leakage from any source inside the home, that the heat is on and set to the level indicated by the homeowner and that the security of the home has not been jeopardized in any way.

Other Services You May ask of Your Home Sitter

Depending on the time of year, consumers who are leaving their homes may need other services to be performed. These include removal of newspapers from outside, checking the mail, forwarding the mail, watering the plants, flushing toilets once per week, feeding pets, watering plants outdoors, cutting the lawn, clearing snow, over site of other services provided by outside contractors.

These are just a few of the services required by a home sitter which may or may not be included in the price quoted for checking on your home. Consumers can discuss their needs and the home sitting company can help them understand the costs and alternatives they may wish to consider.

We once had a situation where the homeowner really did not want us in the house and did not want to give us a key, but she still needed someone to confirm that the heat was on and then call her if there was a problem. Our solution was for her to place an indoor thermometer on a chair so that it could be seen through the window. This allowed us to confirm that the heat was on, check security and confirm that all was ok for her and her home while she was away

What to Look for from a Home Sitter

Your most cherished possession is your home and no one wants a stranger in the home while they are away. Yet our insurance company wants a check completed on a schedule to maintain your home insurance.

Our recommendation is to deal with professional companies who act in a professional manner. For example, every time you hire a home sitter, there should be a contract. Both parties should sign as an agreement.

There should also be a detailed list of what needs to be checked and not checked. Many times we get the response. “Oh I did not think of that”! Go through a detailed checklist and noting the specifics of what will be done by the home sitter. Both the customer and the home sitter will have an excellent understanding of what services are being provided.

Finally there should also be a report that states dates and times your home was entered and checked, along with the services provided. Many companies can also send an email every time that the home is entered and checked. This is really about peace of mind knowing that your home is in good hands.

Always have a Contract

In summary, always have a contract. It should contain a detailed list of when, were and what will be provided by the service provider. If you would like to learn more about our services in Ottawa, Ontario, feel free to click on the link Ottawa Home Sitters.  You can also go to our home site were you can learn much more about Home security and steps you can take to protect your home while you are away on business or vacation. Home security systems, cameras, home sitting, neighborhood watch and much more. Visit our site today to learn about passive steps you can take to make your home less attractive to burglars. You can also learn how to protect your investment from the ravages of water damage.