Working A Home Business
Are you working a home business? Chances are you already know that you’re really pulling “double duty”. You probably work on your business while doing the laundry, corralling the kids, or fixing dinner… and let’s not forget all the phone calls from family and friends expecting you to run errands or just “go out” for an afternoon of fun.
One of the hardest parts of working a home business is separating your work from your family and social life. Here are six proven ways to keep your home life running smoothly while keeping your business on track.
1. First, create a work schedule and stick with it. It may be tempting to answer personal calls during the day or take business calls after-hours, but doing this actually shows that you’re expendable – not dependable – and people will take for granted that you’ll “always be there” for any little things that come up. Even though family comes first, stay true to your business hours and resist the urge to chat with friends or pick up groceries during working hours.
2. Your friends may consider “working at home” an invitation to chat during the day or just go out for coffee or shopping for an afternoon. Make it clear that your business hours are just that – for business. Leave personal calls for after-hours, and you’ll find that your friends will gradually accept your schedule without feeling slighted.
3. Just because you have to set up a work schedule, doesn’t mean that you have to keep the same hours as everyone else. One of the benefits of working for yourself is setting your own hours to fit your most productive times. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you’ll find that you’ll get much more done when you’re attuned to your body’s own natural rhythms. Some people work in the morning, take a break in the afternoon when the kids are home from school, and work again in the evening. Schedule your work time when you feel the most productive and you’ll find that things get done easier, faster and better than when you were dragging along during those same rigid work hours that everyone else has.
4. If getting after-hours business calls or work day personal calls is a problem, it helps to have a separate business phone line, or at least an answering machine or voice mail, to take the incoming calls. This also gives your business a more professional appearance to clients than if you and your family make and receive calls from the same phone line.
5. If at all possible, try to separate your “home office” from the rest of your home. If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room, a room partition or screen can be just as helpful. This also serves as a visual cue to family that you’re working and shouldn’t be bothered.
6. Dress and act professionally while working. Some people find it helpful to dress in casual business attire during their working hours. This reinforces that just because you’re working from home doesn’t make you any less of a professional. Answer the phone with your name, or business name, and keep your children off the phone during business hours. Also, spend money investing in the tools you need to do your job right. A cell phone, fax machine or even a budget computer can help turn your home office into a true workspace.
If you follow all of these tips and stick with them, chances are you’ll find a routine that not only makes you feel productive and active when working your business, but also projects the message that you mean business.
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The Developing Field of Search Engine Reputation Management
Estimates show that around 90% of consumers use search engines to find websites. When they undertake a search for your company name or brand, your hope is that your own website is high up on the list. However, you do not have control over what people write about your company or brand on other websites and in forums, blogs, and articles. The search engine results page is the digital front page for your company. Be aware that the good and the bad search engine listings are visible to your potential clients and affect reputation and buying decisions. This has a powerful influence on your company and brand reputation.
What can you do if negative information relating to your company appears in the search results? You may want to consider Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM).
SERM combines reputation management with search engine optimization. Think of it as a mix of PR with technical skills. High rankings of the good publicity is the goal, which will in turn push bad publicity down the list and out of consumers’ view. Consumers rarely view more than two pages of search engine results for any search.
Companies produce a large amount of compelling written content such as press releases, articles, testimonials, case studies, white papers, etc. Often, this information is not published on a company’s website nor optimized in a search friendly way. Therefore it is not indexed or listed by the search engines.
The goal of SERM is high rankings and indexing in the search engines for all corporate communications and press releases. The result is an increase in your overall web presence which will knock negative listings from the top spots of the search engine rankings.
You work hard to build a reputation for yourself and for your clients. SERM enables you to protect and manage these reputations by being actively involved in the results of search engines.
Copyright © James Peggie
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Long Distance and Phone Systems for Small Business
Telecommunication cost is always an obstacle for small business owners, especially if you need to call domestic or international long distance. The long distance cost factor alone, depending on the type of business you’re in, can make the difference in the success of any small business.
The telecommunication market today is one of the most competitive. Rates for both local, domestic long distance or DLL (long distance in the same country) and international long distance (ILD) are going down every day.
The new player in small business phone systems, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), puts big guns like MCI, AT&T and others in competition with smaller providers. Although the quality of VoIP from the big telecommunications companies are usually better, it’s the smaller companies that are proving to offer better rates at an acceptable quality. Business owners have to choose for themselves based on the tradeoff between quality and cost.
Before choosing the proper phone system for your business, you need to figure out exactly what your business needs. If your business relies on the phone for prospecting customers, providing customer support, or giving out important information through the phone, then you should opt for better quality.
If you use the phone for short communication with your business partners or agents, or any other reason which is NOT your main business function, it would be better to save a little and go with the low cost option. The difference in quality is not very apparent in most cases.
If you are just starting you small business, phone cards also provide some sort of temporary solution until you can get enough financing to develop a better system. Phone cards usually let you dial international and national long distance at a lower cost because they use either VoIP as the back end provider or through a special promotion or arrangement between telecommunications companies.
Regardless of which phone system you choose for your small business, make sure you are getting the most out of the money you spend for these long distance or international plans. Forget the bells and whistles. The purpose of having a good phone system is, and always should be, to communicate and express yourself.
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The following article Should You Start Your Own Business? was originally published to: