Improving Your Home Based Business is Important

A home based business can be a great method for achieving financial stability and growth. It is an excellent method of earning money for single parents and those who are disabled or not in a position to leave home. Traditional home based businesses were seen as tough as the scope of growing the business and reaching out to the right audience were seen as major challenges. But with the advent of the Internet and its massive ability to reach people across the world, home based business has become comparatively easy.

Having said that, just setting up a home business and connecting to the internet is not enough. Every business has to be constantly worked upon and its processes improved for it to become successful. A home business is no exception. While you might start a home business in a very niche area and grow it quickly to become successful become the competition catches up, in today’s age of fast communication and information sharing, you cannot rest on your laurels and believe you will never have competition; it will turn up sooner than expected and will be tougher than anticipated.

Once competitors get the hang of your niche, they will quickly start giving you a run for your money. In such a scenario, you will have to put in lot of efforts and pay constant attention to your home business to keep it running smoothly and growing. The primary requirement in doing so is to keep improving your home business day in and day out. A home business is not much different from traditional businesses with the exception that you run it from home.

So just like traditional businesses, you also must work at continuously improving your business. When we talk of improvement, it has to be in all areas and all aspects. Whether you are providing a service, or manufacturing and selling a product, or working as a consultant, you will have to pay attention to what and where the market is headed. It is then matter of working out and implementing the changes that improve your business in that direction. With traditional businesses, you have the advantage of being in the market. This gives you faster access to new information as it comes in.

With a home based business, you are often cut off from main stream commerce and if you are not attentive enough, you might miss out on important new developments that could affect your business. This can be considered the first area of improvement for your home business – creating channels of information flow and a system through which you can keep track of new happenings as they happen.

Another major area of improvement of all home businesses is the reach of the business. Many home business owners have a short-coming of focusing only on the domestic market and not looking at reaching out farther. Any home business that does not think of growing out of its initial mold and reaching out to a wider audience is set to fail. Once competition comes in, your market share will drop and the only way to keep your business sustainable is to grow into newer markets.

One other aspect of a home business that calls for improvement is the promotion and branding. Without the right branding, your home business cannot generate the kind of client based you should have to be successful. Home based business owners often make the mistake of believing they do not require branding; no business can make a mark without a proper brand standing.

Home based businesses have traditionally been resistant to change. They are not open to accepting new technologies, which disallows them from competing with professional organizations. But by setting up a learning business that is always ready to change and improve, home business entrepreneurs can easily beat the heat and have a profitable venture that has the ability to ride out any competitor storms.

Home Improvement Contractors – What Homeowners Should Know

With home improvement fraud and scams on the rise in the United States, homeowners must take the necessary precautions to avoid becoming victims of “fly by night contractors.” For those who still own their properties after seeing the rise in foreclosures across this Nation, it is incumbent on you the homeowner to do the following before you go in search of a Home Improvement Contractor.

Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) in most jurisdictions in the United States is regulated by City, State or County Agencies. For example, in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk County in New York, the Department Of Consumer Affairs regulates the operations of Home Improvement Contractors and Home Improvement Salesmen (HIS). These are representatives or sales people who negotiate contracts on behalf of Home Improvement Contractors (HIC).

There are basically three (3) stages of the home improvement process, namely: The Negotiation Stage; The Contract Stage and The Work In Progress and Completion Stage. In the Negotiation Stage, a homeowner should perform a “due diligence” on prospective Home Improvement Contractors and Home Improvement Salesmen, hereinafter referred to as HIC and HIS respectively. This is where you research and check to see if the HIC is a bona fide and legitimate operator. You start by calling the Agency that regulates HIC and HIS in your area. Ask HIC and HIS for proof of licenses, workmen compensation, general liability insurance, performance bonds, and references.

You should also check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with respect to the reputation of such businesses. Check to see any history of complaints and how they were expedited. Make sure that the HIC/HIS has a physical business address, business telephone, fax, email address, website, etc. Beware of “fly by night contractors” that operate out of their trucks, vans, SUV. It is very important also for you the homeowners to get at least 3-5 free written estimates from HIC and HIS. Some HIC/HIS may charge a reasonable fee depending on the size of the job estimate. For example, those estimates that involves blue prints specifications, plans, zoning, etc. However, you should try and negotiate a free written estimate that expressly state in black and white prices, brand names, colors, designs, start date, completion date, etc. Keep in mind that “word of mouth” is the best recommendation. Get references from HIC/HIS and invest the time to check the jobs and speak to the homeowners directly. Ask questions!

In the Contract Stage, before you sign or execute a contract, make sure that you obtain copies of HIC/HIS licenses, workmen compensation, general liability insurance, performance bond (applicable for large projects), and inquire whether the HIC participates in a Home Improvement Trust Fund. This is a trust fund that the Agency requires HIC to pay into so as to protect homeowners from HIC who takes off before a job is completed. You are required also to make sure that all brand names, styles, colors, any oral promises (some high powered HIC/HIS will promise you the moon to get your signature), along with manufacturer’s and labor warranties to be expressly written in your contract. Most importantly, make sure that the HIC/HIS expressly put in writing a start date and completion date, along with giving you your right to cancel (recession rights).

Most contract laws allow you three (3) business days from the date of a contract to withdraw or cancel the contract without any penalty or obligations. So if you gave a deposit to the HIC/HIS, you are entitled to a full refund within a reasonable period of time not to exceed 10 days. Check with your jurisdiction to make sure of this right. With respect to deposits, some HIC/HIS may require a deposit upon the execution of a contract. Be very careful of HIC and HIS who ask for large deposits up front. Beware of HIC and HIS who wants cash or have checks written out to his or her name. Make checks payable to the Business name only. It is advisable to pay using a credit card. If the HIC is a legitimate operator, it is very likely that they accept credit card as a Merchant. However, the Rule is: Do not give a deposit more than what you can afford to lose. In other words, give a very, very small deposit. A bona fide, reputable and legitimate HIC will not ask for a deposit up front. Such HIC has credit accounts with Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other suppliers who will not rely on your money/deposit to buy materials.

If you are not financing the work through the HIC or a third party lender, it is recommended that you pay progress payments to the HIC. Progress payments are incremental payments. In other words, you pay as the work progresses. For example, if you are getting a roof job done, you may want to give a percentage down (one third of contract price) only on delivery of materials and start of work. Then you give another one third payment when the roof is completed and the final one third when the construction debris is removed from your property. It is advisable to hold back at least 10 per cent of the total contract price for at least 90 days to ensure that the work was done properly. For those homeowners who wish to finance their projects through the HIC or a third party lender, make sure that you do not sign any blank bank papers. You should also ask the HIC/HIS whether the amount you finance will cause a lien or second mortgage to be placed on your property. Make sure that the bank does a visual inspection of the work before you sign a completion certificate allowing the bank to pay the HIC.

Finally, the Work in Progress and Completion Stage; this is the most crucial stage of the work. The HIC is ready to walk away from your project, but you want to make sure that the work was done in accordance with municipal building codes and all of your manufacturer’s warranties, warranty on labor, etc., are given to you in writing. This is where you will be asked by the HIC or HIS to release final payment. If you finance the work, the HIC/HIS will ask you to sign a completion certificate which they will take to the bank to get a release of the funds at your permission. Some banks will do a visual inspection to make sure that the work was done. However, it is very crucial that you make sure that the Municipal Building Inspectors give a green light for your project. In other words, they must sign off on the job stating that all work was done professionally and in accordance with municipal building codes. Some jobs may require a certificate of occupancy (CO).

Make sure that you have this CO in your hands before you release final payments to a HIC/HIS. Last but not least, if the HIC hires Sub Contractors such as an electrician or plumber to do work on your property, make sure that they are paid by the HIC. Failure to pay them may result in the Sub Contractors filing a mechanic’s lien against your property. This is legal. While the work is in progress, make sure that the workers are on time on the site. A normal work day for construction workers are from 8:00 am to 6:00 PM. Some industrious workers will work until it gets dark. Beware of workers that show up for a few minutes and take off. There are many HIC who start 20 jobs and cannot finish one. Some HIC take from “Peter to pay Paul” and stall your job in the process. This is why it is crucial that you get a start date and completion date in writing.

If the HIC fail to complete the job within that time, you the homeowner may legally hold back money or charge the HIC for each day that elapsed. If your work is an exterior job that involves ladders, scaffold, etc., make sure that they are erected properly and reasonable standard of care is exercised by the workers. In other words, if a scaffold or ladder fall and injure a neighbor or passerby, they may have a civil claim or lawsuit against you the homeowner. This is why you must ensure that the HIC has proper insurance such as general liability insurance before they start work on your project. If you the homeowner permit the HIC to advertise their companies by erecting a sign on your property, you may request a discount on your contract for such favor.

I hope that this post will help you to select the right Home Improvement Contractor for your project, and most of all, you will not become a victim to the criminals out there who masquerade as Home Improvement Contractors.

Home Based Business Considerations

Before you dive head first into a home-based business, it’s essential that you know why you are doing it and how you will do it. To succeed, your business must be based on something greater than a desire to be your own boss: an honest assessment of your own personality, an understanding of what’s involved, and a lot of hard work.

You have to be willing to plan ahead, then make improvements and adjustments along the way. While there are no “best” or “right” reasons for starting a home-based business, it is vital to have a very clear idea of what you are getting into and why.

Working under the same roof that your family lives under may not prove to be as easy as it seems. It is important that you work in a professional environment; if at all possible, you should set up a separate office in your home.

After taking a good look at yourself, it’s time to consider the business side of the venture, i.e., the realities of running a business from your home. As with anything else, it has good points and bad. The advantages are obvious. Desire for independence, convenience, financial gain, low overhead and low risk, decreased commute time, getting out of the rat race, more control over work hours, low business expenses (for example, money saved on commuting, lunches out and a professional wardrobe), and more time with family are positive factors most often cited. You save money on taxes because deductions for automobile expenses, telephone, home improvements, business cards and major purchases, such as a computer, may be available. The issue of quality of life also comes into play as both men and women look for a way to balance the demands of a career with those of a family. A home-based business allows you to do just that.

On the con side, if you were working in an office downtown you wouldn’t have to worry about a neighbor stopping by for a chat or your kids bursting in the door after a day at school. You must be very self-disciplined and goal oriented to create a good working atmosphere despite kids, spouses, neighbors and the telephone.

Without the deadlines imposed by supervisors or peers, it can be hard to do the least appealing jobs on your list. Now it’s your responsibility to set limits and plan your time.

No longer will you have the luxury of submitting requisitions to the supply department when you need a bigger file cabinet, a new copy machine or basic office supplies. It’s up to you to evaluate features and compare prices when you’re considering a major purchase. You’re also the one who must run out to the store when you’re out of ribbons for your computer printer.

There’s also your family to consider. Their lifestyle and privacy may be disturbed, and you may find it difficult to work out a compromise that’s acceptable to everyone. Your teenager may resent having to turn down the stereo because you’re meeting with a client in the next room. Your spouse may complain about having to move his or her hobby to another room so you can use the space for an office.

Another con for some people is that the buck stops with you. One former home-based business owner has returned to corporate life because “being the boss means taking ultimate responsibility for all decisions. You get the credit when things go right but you get the blame when things go wrong.”

Keeping your business environment professional at home also takes persistence and control. Don’t let the relaxed environment of working at home make you any less disciplined. A professional image is an important part of building credibility with customers and also contributes to your self-esteem.

Create a specific and proper professional mood. Have a business-like office or showroom if you meet customers face to face. A clean and organized environment enhances both your image and customer perception of your product or service. The decor of your home office should be carefully considered. Determine what image and theme you want to create before spending any money remodeling.

Pay attention to what you wear. You are your company. The psychological power of your work clothes will convince customers and clients that you are serious about your business and tell your subconscious that it’s time to get down to business. No matter what you have scheduled for your day, always dress for work.

The identity your business presents to the professional world is also important. Design a logo or have one created, and print business cards and stationery. Set regular business hours and use an answering machine or service. Consider referring to your apartment number as your suite number or rent a post office box rather than using your street address.

When you work at home, it’s often difficult to prevent your personal life from encroaching on your business. Here are a few tips for keeping both under control.

1. Start your day as if heading for the office. Dress appropriately, but comfortably.

2. Commit to routine work hours. Establish a schedule that works for you.

3. Make personal phone calls on your own time. Get an answering machine so you can screen any after-hours business calls.

4. Keep a log of all the hours you devote to work. It will help you manage your day more efficiently.

5. Try to plan your work schedule at least a week in advance. You’ll be better able to gauge your progress and maximize your productivity.

6. Never combine household and business errands, even when the drug store is “on the way.” Always leave and return to your business at designated times.

7. Avoid doing household tasks during work hours. Learn to discipline yourself to stay within your time schedule.

Learning how to persuade and influence will make the difference between hoping for a better income and having a better income. Beware of the common mistakes presenters and persuaders commit that cause them to lose the deal. Get your free report 10 Mistakes That Continue Costing You Thousands and explode your income today.

Home Improvement Career Ideas and How to Implement Them

Thanks to hundreds of home improvement television shows and magazines dedicated to home renovations and decorating, the home improvement industry is exploding. So, if you’ve been thinking about breaking into a career in home improvement, now is a great time to do it.

There are a number of great career options in this fast-paced industry as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for those looking to start their own business. Keep reading for great ideas on new home improvement careers as well as how to get them going.

1. Tile/Bath Resurfacing

Tile and bathtub resurfacing is an easy skill to learn that can lead to significant rewards. With an easy learning curve and minimal up front costs, you can start a business refinishing tile and old bathtubs and showers.

2. Carpet Cleaning

Much like the tile and bath resurfacing business, carpet cleaning is easy to learn. Your up front costs will be your cleaning equipment, transportation and marketing costs. There are also many franchise opportunities, meaning you could purchase a carpet cleaning franchise and save yourself many of the marketing and advertising costs associated with running a business.

3. Home Organization

De-cluttering is the new buzz word in home decorating and home improvement. If you love to organize, put your skills to use by starting a home organization business. Think about all the cluttered garages desperate for some shelving units and a few well-placed labels or all the dusty attics in need of a good sorting. Your start up costs for this business will include some sector research, a minimal amount of equipment and a lot on advertising and marketing.

3. Instruction and Teaching

If you’re a home improvement buff or an expert at refinishing old pieces of furniture, you should consider teaching a class. You can teach online or apply to teach a course at your local community college or YMCA. There are many organizations that would love to host courses or workshops on everything from decorative painting to window treatments to building birdhouses.

4. Sew, Sew, Sew

Any whiz with a sewing machine can start a flourishing business in custom home draperies and upholstery. From window treatments to tablecloths, there is a large market for customized pieces that are sewn in your buyer’s chosen fabric and to her specified instructions. For a successful home sewing business to really take off, try marketing yourself directly to interior decorators and making your name familiar with local fabric shops.