Starting a new business is easy and it doesn’t require a lot of money, and that’s why everyone can do it. Making a startup profitable is entirely different. It requires hard work, patience, and careful money management.

To put it simply – Business profits will occur only when the income is greater than all business expenses combined.

Let’s take a look at some important things you should consider before starting your own business.

Make a Great Product

The most important thing about any great product is to have a clearly defined sense of purpose. It should also deliver value in a focused way as well or better than any other similar product on the market.

Do your research before making a product. Inform yourself about potential clients and consult with them. For example, if you’re looking to make an app focused on fitness, ask fitness experts what useful feature they would like to see implemented in your app.

Make a must-have product, not the one that’s just nice and cool to have. The true key to success is making a product that will solve your customer’s problems once and for all. Make your client dependent on your product.

Sell Your Product

Some startups fail simply because they don’t take themselves seriously. Startup founders who think that going viral and being popular is being successful are lying to themselves. If you’re not selling anything that means you have a project and not a product.

Unless you’re starting your business with a lot of money, focus on making profits first. Targeting growth first instead of profits is very risky, and it’s not recommended for new startups.

Avoid Making Products That Rely on the Community to Grow

If your product is dependent on something that you can’t control, you’re setting yourself up for a disaster. Building a community is hard, but building a community of people who constantly communicate is even harder. If you’re inexperienced, and you’re just starting to dip your toes into the business waters, stay far away from community-based startups.

Don’t Plan an Exit Strategy

If you’re already thinking about getting acquired or about selling your startup for a lot of money, you need to stop right now. The key to success is making a product and selling it, and that should be your focus. Make a product that will still be relevant in two or more years. Make a profit from selling your product before even thinking about selling your company.

Minimize Losses

No one likes to lose money, but it’s a well-recognized fact that a new business will certainly lose money. There’s no reason to be ashamed of that fact. Some businesses simply have longer gestation periods, and if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, losing money is not a problem. However, that doesn’t mean that you should sit around and just watch your money burn.

Most startups hire consultants and companies that offer loss management services, and they actually save money by spending it on detecting and preventing any possible future losses.

Market Your Product

You won’t sell your product if you don’t put yourself out there. Fortunately, in this age, information is free and valuable. Learn everything about marketing strategies and pick the one which will make your potential customers trust you.

In this day and age, you simply have to use social media to market your product, so make a team of experts to manage your social media pages. Gain the trust and attention of your potential customers.

If your product is digital, offer free trials to everyone in exchange for a simple share of your post on Facebook or Instagram. By doing that you’ll get free exposure and gain lots of potential customers.

There’s no such thing as a simple recipe for a startup. Every new business is different. Just keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take things slowly, minimize your losses, and make a product that will make your customer’s life easier.

You may think that your limited liability company (LLC) will limit your personal liability if someone sues your company. But will it? In reality, this liability protection can be breached purely based on the way you run the company.

If there are multiple members in the LLC and one member exposes the company to liability, are all the other members protected in their personal assets? Will a court limit any claims strictly to member contributions, or will it reach behind the protections you think you have, and come for your home, your spouse’s income, or any other personal asset?

A court can “pierce the veil” of your LLC protection if it determines fraudulent intent or activity, either through lack of funding in starting the company, or lack of care in running the business. The single-member LLC and the small family-owned LLC are the most common business entities exposed to personal liability in this way.

What are the holes in your liability protection, and how can you close them?

What The Court Looks For

Courts rely on two main principles to pierce a company’s veil: lack of adequate capitalization, and using the company as your “alter ego” in name only while pursuing personal gain, as a front for your personal affairs. Ultimately a court is looking for fraud, and there are several common indicators that can trigger that appearance.

Here are some common chinks in your armor that will expose you to danger. See if you recognize any of these factors in your own business.

• Did you contribute enough money into the LLC when you formed it, a realistic amount to run the business?
• Have you bought or rented goods or services and now can’t pay a vendor’s bill?
• Are you current with all the filings required by the state (or states) the LLC is registered in?
• Did you secure business credit without the ability to pay back the debt, or by making a false representation?
• Has the company paid income to its members that leaves insufficient funds to pay debts?
• Do you make business payments from your personal account, or pay personal bills with company checks?
• Do you keep company records, including minutes of any meetings and company decisions?
• Do you hold the meetings required by your LLC operating agreement?
• Is one member of the LLC the leader of the group, making arbitrary decisions without consulting other members?

How To Stay Safe

To protect your personal assets from liability arising out of your business, you should be diligent in keeping business actions strictly separate from personal matters. You must avoid commingling funds, blurring company roles and responsibilities, and acting recklessly with money and credit. You should keep a clear paper trail of company actions.

Pay attention to the legal requirements placed on your LLC by the state. Be sure to file your statements as required, and keep licenses and any required permits and documents current.

Also, if you’re a single-member LLC, you should know how your state regards a single-member LLC, since the states have different laws regarding this business entity. Will your state accord you the same liability protection as a multi-member LLC?

Commingling funds is one of the more common errors made by small companies. Don’t deposit revenues into a personal account. Don’t use company checks to pay personal obligations. Don’t pay company bills with your personal check.

This doesn’t mean you can’t move money around at need. You can make added contributions to your LLC, and you can make disbursements to yourself as a member. You can be paid a salary. But all this must happen formally on paper, and according the terms of your operating agreement.

If it requires a meeting of the members to approve such things, then be sure to hold one, keeping minutes and recording decisions. If actions should be taken by certain persons, make sure they’re the ones to take them.

A paper trail is similarly important with expenses incurred for business reasons, and the use of shared assets such as a vehicle. You can share assets for mixed purposes, but you must keep them separate with written reimbursements and claims, mileage logs, and all the records that would exist if you were simply an employee of someone else’s company.

It’s easy for a small-family or single-member LLC to be casual with these paperwork aspects of running the business. You certainly may not need meticulous records just to manage your business affairs, but you should remind yourself what’s at stake―you’re maintaining a paper trail to preserve your liability protection.

Stan Huser is the founder of SunDoc Filings, a California-based company that helps entrepreneurs with their business filings in any U.S. state. A pioneer in document filing and retrieval, Stan started his first company in 1979.

If you are among those who have always wanted to start their own business but the notion of leaving the current 9 to 5 job seemed too risky, do not give up on the entire idea yet. The best way to go is to gradually start developing the kind of work you dream about as a side business. The risk involved is significantly lower and if the success starts to grow, giving up your current job will not seem that scary anymore. Consider these ideas; there is a great chance you will be able to find one that will work for you.

Home Repairs

If you are handy with household tools and proud in keeping your home perfectly functional and representative state all by yourself, offering such services to others is a clear win-win situation. The majority of people have a problematic experience with household repairs. They are either unskilled or lack time and equipment to do them. On the other hand, you have both the tools and the knowledge. If you have been doing it for a longtime as well, you will hardly find a better side work occupation.  

Make Your Hobby Profitable

Being passionate about a practical hobby is something that can easily slide into a beneficial additional occupation.  You would be doing what you like in the first place and make money at the same time without really noticing that you are doing a side job. For example, if you are good at knitting or sewing, find pleasure in making different flower arrangements or excel at any other arts and crafts creation, it is high time you offered that talent to others. Start by doing it online and see where it takes you. 

Pursue Your Talent

Talented people, as well as the products of their work, have the innate potential to stand out. Naturally, it takes being in the right place at the right time, but you will never know if the opportunities in front of you are just right unless you give them a try. If someone wants to have a great piano player at their wedding reception, order a portrait as a birthday present or hire a comedian for a special occasion, it is your ad and recommendations from satisfied customers they will see both in the local paper and online.  

Tutoring

Transferring knowledge to other people, even though rewarding in itself, can be turned into a profitable side business. If you are proficient in any of the regularly sought after areas of expertise, offer tutoring services to those in need. These include a variety of school subjects (particularly math, sciences and literature) at any level of education, painting techniques to playing an instrument or business counseling, to name just a few. Having people come over to your place for classes will make it even more profitable and naturally less time consuming.

Blogging

Tutoring is not the only way of transferring knowledge and making profitable use of your expertise. If you have a writing gift and a wish to share your vast knowledge of a particular subject with others, starting a blog would be a perfect opportunity. It will not happen overnight and it does rely on selling ad space and having a continually expanding list of followers. Still, by regularly providing new, useful and intriguing content there is great chance your blog will bring steady profit.

There are numerous side business ideas to choose from. Opt for the one you will feel both competent and relaxed doing; there is no point in starting a side business and feeling stressed and pressured doing it regardless of how profitable it may be. Enjoying your extra job and earning additional income is the most rewarding way of doing it.

Currently among the most popular ways of doing business, startups are often thought of as something that is designated to rise fast and fall quickly. Despite this misconception, proper startups often turn into quality companies that thrive in success as the years go by. In order to run a quality business, getting introduced to the basics of starting a startup is necessary.

The Main Idea

Simply jumping into the world of business based on the need to achieve success is important, yet far from enough. Startups that are a result of starting a business for the sake of business are the ones that are quick to initially rise but even quicker to crash and burn. When you think about it, one of the most basic human needs is the need for legacy – something to leave behind. All of this is based on innovation. As an entrepreneur, you should either come up with a revolutionary new idea (way more difficult than you might think) or find a way to make an existing product or technology more efficient and affordable. Google is a prime example of the latter – it wasn’t the world’s first search engine, but is now by and large the most popular. They made it faster and slicker than Yahoo and broke into the world of success. Startups are all about the idea; the money comes in later.

Hiring

It is obvious that you probably won’t be able to do business on your own – you’ll need personnel. Employees are the very backbone of every company out there and the stronger your workers are, the more likely your business will thrive. Big data is something that has made the whole hiring process significantly easier for HR departments around the world. Rather than shuffling through piles of documents within cabinets, gathering data from social media websites such as LinkedIn and even Facebook and Twitter can turn out both easier, cheaper and more efficient – the three pillars of modern-day success.

Financing

Without a doubt, financing is the most difficult part of getting the gears turning within a startup. Coming up with a solid financial plan is crucial here, but using and presenting it properly is also extremely important. A valid ‘tactic’ for getting financed is refusing to display the financial plan without meeting all the parties face-to-face. This is the best way to make sure that your financial plan is properly understood – people won’t necessarily share your vision without proper introduction.

Getting a business loan is another way of obtaining the necessary financing for your project. Professionals such as ALC Commercial provide fast business loans and are a great choice if you are based in Australia.

Finally, getting a personal loan from your friends and family is always an option and you can even choose to make the party your partner.

Product

Let’s not kid ourselves – regardless of how thorough you might have been in covering all the previously outlined steps, without a proper product to distribute, the preparations will all be in vein. Much like the case is with your business idea, coming up with a product should by all means be your very first step. Saving product placement for later is fine, but without an idea for it, your business has no future. Investigating the market is key here – keep an eye on the demand and make sure that what you are planning on offering is unique. People are going to need a reason for opting for your product.

To sum it up, startups should definitely not be considered as something that is destined for failure. Instead, think of them as cheap and easy ways to realize your idea. Keep things innovative, planned and efficient and your small business is likely to boom!

It is always tough to run a business, whether you own a big or small one. As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of things you need to think of before you start your new venture. You have to ensure that everything is prepared and planned out well.

Once you have built your enterprise, you need to take a serious look of your finances. This is one of the most vital factors in every business, so you really have to exert more effort in managing your finances. It might not be easy to do it at first, but you will be able to understand the entire process in the long run.

As everyone knows, a business has its downturn, especially when it comes to money. You will always encounter struggles and challenges along the way. However, these are just trials that you need to overcome and will help you to become a wiser entrepreneur. You can check out https://www.kikka.com.au/ in case you are in need of financial business assistance. Banks and government agency websites also provide helpful tips and guides on how you can improve your business. And in a lot of cases, you could meet with industry leaders to ask for tips and solutions to your business problems. There is usually someone that will be willing to help you with your company.

Difficult times and failures are simply part of a new or existing venture. All you have to do is focus and follow these simple money-saving tips for your business.

Cut Traditional Advertising

Getting rid of traditional advertising is a popular move for most small businesses out there. Internet marketing and advertising has numerous options to still reach clients and customers as well as cut the traditional advertising costs. Additionally, it is highly recommended to use public relations, for it is a more effective and affordable form of advertising. Using SEO techniques in your company website and focusing on inbound marketing are also great ways to save more money.

Get Sponsors for Events

To grow your client base, you can host various events. However, this can be costly, since each event requires a significant amount of money to push through. Thus, you can always look for sponsors who will help you pay the expenses and in return you will have to advertise and acknowledge them. You just need  patience in searching for sponsors and making sure that you prepare for an event by planning ahead of time, so you can show it to your prospective sponsors.

Outsource

One of the major parts of a business that costs you big is your employees— their salaries, insurance, and benefits. In fact, your employees are a fundamental factor to getting work done. However, you can also try outsourcing to lessen your expenses. Simply keep your full-time staff to a minimum and outsource work to independent contractors for the job that your employees cannot finish as needed. By doing so, you will have a lot of savings by the end of each year.

As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything you can to save money for your business. There’s no need to overspend on things that are unnecessary, since your venture only needs things that are vital to its success. So, be sure to consider these tips mentioned above when you need to cut down expenses to your business.

Many people know precisely what they wish to be when they grow up, perhaps following in the footsteps of a family member or having been inspired by some experience. But for others, just choosing what to study at college was hard enough, never mind what to do upon earning their degree. If you majored in accounting, for example, you have many career options to explore.

You’ll be glad you completed this degree, since the earnings gap between those with and without four-year college degrees in accounting has widened in recent decades, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that holders of bachelor degrees earned 63 percent more than those with high school diplomas and 35 percent more than those with associate degrees.

This article is going to focus on various options you have at your disposal once you’ve obtain a degree in accounting.

What Accountants Do

First, let’s cover the basics and find out exactly what an account does. Many people are unclear as to what accountants actually do. This is essentially score keeping for business activity. Accountants reduce costs and suggest ways to improve financial efficiency; they examine financial statements for accuracy; they organize and store financial documents; they ensure that taxes are paid on time; they keep all accounting systems and books up-to-date; they ensure that financial records comply with local and federal regulations; and they audit financial systems and particular documents.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1.3 million accountants in the United States, with a median annual salary of $66,000; partners in the Big Four accounting firms of Deloitte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG can be paid more than $2 million a year. Accountant came out as #3 Best Business Job in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Ranking. A retirement wave is sweeping through the baby boom generation, and these places must be filled. It’s little surprise that accounting is a field where more than 80 percent of graduates find work within six months of graduation.

Public or Certified Public Accountant?

The first path is that of public or certified public accountant (CPA), the most obvious for people with this major. Public accountants provide a wide selection of financial advisory services for their clients, who can be private individuals, companies, non-profit organizations, or government bodies. Services include assurance (audit), estate and financial planning, mergers and acquisitions due diligence, and tax compliance. You could even find yourself working for a big-name actor, musician, or author.

Special mention is warranted for financial forensics, which is investigation of embezzlement, insurance claims, money laundering, and other forms of fraud; this might lead to your being called as an expert witness in court. It is a forensic accountant who will examine criminal enterprises to recover ill-gotten cash or identify money laundering. Or, they might scrutinize the financial affairs of individuals undergoing divorce or bankruptcy or under suspicion of fraud. Financial forensics can require additional qualifications as a CPA or Certified Fraud Examiner. Starting salaries range from $30,000 to $60,000.

The most frequently-requested certification asked of accountants by employers is a CPA certificate. To be a certified CPA it is necessary to work in the field for at least two years and pass exams. In most states, 150 semester hours are called for. All accountants must pass the four parts of the Uniform CPA Exam of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in an 18-month period. Certification is required to be able to submit filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Employment is expected to grow by 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, more than the average. The median salary for CPAs was $65,080 in 2013.

Private or Industry Accountant?

A private or industry accountant works for a company. One avenue is that of internal auditor, reviewing and verifying the company’s financial results, policies, and internal controls. Others are those of staff accountant and financial analyst. Experience in a corporate structure can be most valuable, as evidenced by the number of high-level executives and political leaders with backgrounds in accounting and particularly internal auditing.

The FBI

While it may not be the most glaringly obvious career choice for holders of an accounting degree, many agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are CPAs. Most are in fact either attorneys or CPAs. It’s possible to work as an internal accountant or Special Agent. It’s necessary to pass a physical fitness test, but, in its favor, the FBI was once named as one of the 10 most desired places of employment for undergraduate business majors. The starting salary was $47,297 in 2013.

Stockbroker

Stockbrokers facilitate the trade of bonds, stocks, or other securities. They can also provide investment advice or education. While a degree is not formally required, most stockbrokers will have one in the field, if not accounting then business management, economics, finance, or mathematics. Stockbrokers must acquire four months of experience at a brokerage firm and pass the General Securities Registered Representative Examination. The median salary in 2013 was $72,640.

Teaching

Another available option is teaching college level courses. This might not be suitable for recent graduates lacking work experience, but it’s great if you have a few years of accounting practice under your belt. This skill is marketable on account of the ever-increasing demand for CPAs. Additional certification would be required to teach at elementary or high school in most states.

Accounting Information Technology

Accounting information technology is a career field rather than a specific job. Serious companies shouldn’t be using pen and paper to track their finances, and such software as QuickBooks has made accounting considerably less time consuming. In addition to programmers, companies require accountants to come up with this.

Other Job Options

Some options are non-traditional. Environmental accountants possess a degree in accounting and a knowledge of environmental law. They work with businesses that must comply with environmental regulations. Entertainment accounting encompasses copyright law and royalties. Possible clients include organizations such as film studios, production companies, radio stations, and television networks and individuals who include actors, musicians, and writers. Agricultural business and economics examines the relationship between economics and industrial practices in agricultural production, which extends from harvest to consumption. This discipline oversees the management of farms, ranches, and farm-related industry.

If you specialized in accounting but desire to use your degree in some other area of business, you will have acquired transferable skills, including self-management, teamwork, relationship management, ethics, IT, attention to detail, organizing, and problem solving. Skill with words as well as numbers is called for in order to read business documents critically and make compelling presentations. Bear in mind that employers hire people, not degrees, and accounting teaches you what many people term the language of business. You could end up as a real estate broker or in some other sales-related position.

With an accounting degree, you could become a loan officer, interviewing applicants and determining their creditworthiness then negotiating borrowing terms and monitoring loan repayments.  Or you could be a personal financial adviser, helping clients to understand their investments and plan for such things as retirement, paying for college education, or divorce. Claims adjusters evaluate insurance claims. Other choices are those of actuary, bank examiner, commercial banker, estate planner, or consumer credit officer.

Joining a professional association can be a fantastic way to enhance your career, giving you the opportunity to grow your professional network, participate in educational opportunities, or volunteer to gain leadership experience. The leading options to hand are the American Accounting Association, the American Institute of CPAs, and the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business.

These are just some of the choices open to anyone with a degree in accounting. Every business needs employees proficient in money management. You could work in finance departments, education, sales, production management, client management, product development, banking or financial planning. You’re spoiled for choice.

woman-with-penIn the business world, there is not much difference on who runs it. Even though business is unisex, there is still a difference between what some business ideas can be, and if it will work or not. Unfortunately, business women have it a bit tougher as not everyone will accept their ideas, and it could backfire in some cases, too.

A Consulting Business Is Always Nice

If you have amassed a great knowledge in one or two various fields, it will be possible to sell it to those in need. Consulting will be a great way to earn money for those who feel they can help by giving healthy and handy advice. Nevertheless, before you start, it is important that you review the market and see if there is a need for it at all.

Working in Affiliate Marketing

Creating a business that will be able to generate you a passive income sounds great to almost everyone. However, getting stared might be a bit difficult, as there will be a lot of things you will have to find out and make sure that you can do. Finding the right niche and ensuring that you have returning customers will take time, which is why you should expect to work with a budget at the beginning, to ensure you do not lose too much money. Be sure to be patient, as it will help you grow a strong business.

Are You Good With Words?

If you have a way with social media and if you like giving out advice, then why not look into what the blogosphere can offer. After a while, it might be a good way to help your writing get jumpstarted and ensure that you will become famous. You will have to stay up-to-date with current happenings if you want your blogging to be a success, and you must pay attention to ongoing Internet fads as well. Also, make sure that you choose a viable theme for your blog to make it appealing.

Make Use of Your Eyes

Women have a tendency to see colors better which will make them great at either making them or selling it to those who need it the most. Nevertheless, working with color can be tedious at times, and you will have to get training to be able to work well. This skill can be useful for those who want to enjoy interior design. Moreover, some colors have an influence on people, and it could help you when working with design.

Teaching Can Be Fun

Many believe that women are better at teaching, and so far it has seemed that it is true. However, not all fields can be easily tamed, and some will need a bit more care to be able to do the job well. Nevertheless, it does not mean that it is not possible and that you should shy away from a challenge. Female driving instructors are becoming popular to work in driving schools, as they will show more patience and compassion, which some students need.

Find what inspires you the most and try to turn it into a profitable business, otherwise you will be left asking yourself what would have happened. Prior to starting anything though, make sure to look through the market and find out if there is a need for your idea. After all, having a great business idea is not enough to make it work, as some people might not be interested in it. Do not be afraid to try out daring things either, as it could be what you need to become successful.

laptop-on-tableHome-based businesses truly are a blast – you get to be something most people only dream about – your own boss. However, if it was that simple, no one would ever have a 9-to-5 job, so before getting the big idea of starting a home-based business out of the blue, you have to keep a couple of things in mind. The list that follows outlines these things for your convenience, so if you’re looking to get into the type of business in question, you should definitely read on.

Legalities

Neighborhoods and municipalities differ in many terms and the legal stuff is definitely one of these. While some are extremely beneficial for a home-based business, others frown upon this field of work. To make things even more complicated, there are some municipalities that require special permits and licenses, so making sure that you properly check the legal stuff with authorities is of essence – having your dreams end up a shipwreck isn’t the worst thing that might happen, you might also experience financial loss, owing to the fact that you didn’t properly check everything.

Company Structure

Do you want to be a limited company, business partnership, or a sole trader? This question should arise at the very top of your list. Technicalities such as paperwork depend a lot on the choice you make. More questions are outlined in terms of taxes you pay, how you take profit, as well as what occurs if and when you go through financial loss.

Company Name

It might seem trivial, but the company name you choose will greatly impact your customer base. If it’s a catchy name, people will talk about your home business more, which is a form of marketing that’s free of charge and, thus, something you definitely want for your business. Do you want your name to display what you do and stand for, or do you want it to be more abstract? You can find answers to this question right inside the product and/or service you’re pitching. On another note, choosing the company name early in the game is vital, so as to make sure that the one you’ve come up with isn’t already taken, which can easily lead to unnecessary complications.

Security

One of the downsides to a home-based business is outlined in the fact that you can’t really hire a security team – you don’t want armed personnel roaming around your house and backyard, with your children around, now do you? This is why it is vital for you, as a home-based entrepreneur to opt for proper security measures, physical and virtual alike. When it comes to online safety, a quality cloud service can go a long way in protecting your personal data. Installing cameras, however, will definitely cover your physical safety, but won’t protect your hard-copied documents from theft. This is why safes from Buy a Safe are so popular – even though we live in a progressive, virtual era, some businessmen still feel safer if they can physically touch their valuable data.

Start-up Strategy

Face it, it is extremely difficult to get a home-based business going nowadays, without stepping into the fast waters of the world of start-ups. It is the role of your business plan to outline the strategy you’re going to go for and your strategy will, in turn, help you determine the company structure, mentioned before. Researching the competition, of course, goes without saying.

Although home-based business tend to sound dreamy, and although the successful ones truly end up this way, there’s a lot of consideration that should be done beforehand. Analyze this guide thoroughly, stick to it, but don’t refrain from doing a bit of your own research – there is never enough information.

Starting your own cleaning business is not only possible to do on your own, it can also be lucrative. With a minimum amount of experience and very little capital, you could build up this business in a short time. If you aren’t afraid of hard work, you might like to consider starting your own cleaning business.

Finding Customers

You can advertise your cleaning service online, and by posting your business card on local bulletin boards at supermarkets, dentist offices and day care centers. Keep a supply in your wallet to hand out on-the-spot. Tell everyone you know about your endeavor. Ask them to pass the word around that you are accepting new clients. Someone will know someone else who needs a house cleaner.

Another good way to find cleaning jobs is to approach real estate offices, property management companies and individuals who advertise apartments for rent. These markets frequently need cleaning services in-between rentals. Even if they don’t need you right now, ask them if it’s okay for you to mail them your business card for their future use. When you mail the card, enclose a handwritten personal note.

One of the most efficient ways of finding customers is to network with similar businesses. Consider teaming up with a local carpet company, a tile or hardwood flooring company, a furniture company or other similar businesses. When their loyal customers ask them for advice or referrals for cleaning their products, they will give out your contact information. In return, you can give your customers the flooring company’s business cards when they are looking to replace their carpet instead of cleaning it. This is networking the way it is supposed to be. Reciprocity and partnership are the name of the game.

How Much to Charge?

Cleaning service prices vary from region to region. The best way to find out how much to charge is by doing a little private detective work. Call up other cleaning services and pretend you might be a new client. Ask them about their rate structure. Be polite and appreciative. Instead of drastically undercutting their prices, be respectful of the local economy and be competitive in other ways.

Supplies

You’ll need to outfit yourself with a few supplies for your cleaning jobs. Luckily, you probably already own most of them. Fill a bucket with rags, disinfectant, furniture polish and glass cleaner, plus all the things you would normally use to clean your own house. When you set out for your first job, pack your car with your vacuum, a mop and your bucket of supplies. Since you’re working for yourself, you can dress in whatever is comfortable for you, so no uniform is needed. What you don’t own, you can rent. You can rent carpet steam cleaners at the local supermarket. If you need specialty items, your hardware store might rent more expensive tools out until you can afford to buy your own.

Accounting

Decide ahead of time what payment methods you are willing to accept. Payment for cleaning services is usually at the time of service. There are various ways to accept credit card payments using just your smart phone. These services charge a small commission fee that you can either pass on to the customer or deduct as a business expense on your taxes. If you’re working for a corporation rather than an individual, they might like to cut a check once a week. Be firm about getting payment on time, and about any late fees or insufficient funds charges. Working for yourself has many benefits, but it also leaves you exposed to people who might not pay their bills on time. If you have a client who habitually pays you late or not at all, drop them. You can always find a better-paying customer to replace them.

Keep track of all your expenses and income. When tax time comes around, your accountant will thank you if everything is well-documented. Consider using an accounting software. Even if you have a learning curve, it’s worth it in the end to have your money situation organized.

The most successful companies are the ones where people are hard workers and they try to please their customers. If you do a good job, you’ll find that many of your jobs will come to you by word-of-mouth and you won’t need to advertise as much. Your reputation will earn you respect and a handsome bank account. Good Luck!

Kate Supino writes extensively about marketing and best business practices. She is a small business owner and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other entrepreneurs.

It may not have a splashy storefront, an eye-catching neon sign, or a gaggle of go-getting employees, but your home-based business doesn’t need any of those things to thrive. After all, it offers top-notch products and services, provides excellent customer care, and, most importantly, it has you–the most dedicated and hard-working employee your business will ever have. And you will do anything to help your home business–your baby–achieve its full potential.

home business If you are eager to take your home business to the next level, here are a few easy and cost-effective ways to get started.

A Professional Web Site

While bricks and mortar stores have stunning signage and window displays to welcome their customers, you can become equally “present” by creating a professional website. A well-designed site will enable you to develop a brand image, showcase your products and services, make it easy for customers to contact you, and provide links to your blog or social media platforms.

And, as Entrepreneur‘s “10 Ways to Grow Your Home-Based Business” adds, creating a web site no longer involves a huge outlay of cash as do-it-yourself sites are now available for less than $30 per month with no technical knowledge required.

A Social Media Presence

If you wish to build your customer base, you will need to hit the hot spots where the people are hanging out–and, the hottest spots around are popular social media platforms. And, as an added bonus, they are free.

The hottest spot of all is Facebook with Twitter placing second, but depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to tap into some of the other platforms as well. If you offer a professional service or a largely B2B enterprise, you may wish to consider LinkedIn. If your business lends itself to visuals, you will want to operate a Pinterest account. Familiarize yourself with the different social media venues available and choose the ones that suit your business best.

And, remember, as Insightly’s “Like Bears to Honey: Find that Sweet Social Media Spot for Your Audience” warns, “the end game here should not be to make direct sales, but rather to create long time customers who keep coming back for more because they know they can trust you.”

A Platform for your Prowess

One great way to build brand loyalty and win the trust–and business–of your customers is to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. And there are several ways to do this.

One effective method involves creating a blog that is designed to discuss industry matters, educate consumers, and, of course, entertain your audience. WordPress, for example, offers an easy-to-use platform that even the blogging beginner can master without difficulty.

You may wish to conduct a seminar in person or strut your stuff on a YouTube video. And, as “10 Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses” suggests, offering to speak for local organizations, trade associations, or other gatherings will help you reach a wider audience.

A Thirst for Knowledge

One great way to grow your business is to grow your mind. The more you learn about your industry and the world of business in general, the better equipped you will be to defeat the competition and take your company to the next level.

Connect with industry experts through LinkedIn. Invite them to compose guest posts for your blog. And join industry organizations. If you’d like to learn business techniques, take a course at your local college, join the Chamber of Commerce to meet other business people, and embrace mastering new technologies.

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Who needs a splashy storefront to attract customers? Certainly not you. By following a few easy steps, you can transform your humble home-based business into a force to be reckoned with.

If you need help accomplishing the first step–setting up your website– you may want to check out “The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching a Website for Your Home Business.”

Kimberley Laws is a freelance writer and avid blogger who operates her own home business. You can follow her at The Embiggens Project.

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