Tips To Set Up Your Internet Home Based Business

Home Based Business
What are the top three things you should concern yourself about when starting an Internet home based business? Here are some tips to make it in the online business environment.
Setting up an Internet home based business is like starting an actual business. Some people may think that since a business is operated online and from home, it is a smaller-scale venture compared to real businesses. This, however, is a misconception. Some Internet home based business are even bigger and are experiencing more growth than real ones. Starting and operating an online business venture may be a bit challenging when you are new to the field and is used to the conventional business and marketing world. However, there are also many resources on the Internet that you can get your hands on in the actual setting. The difference lies on how you take advantage of these unique Internet resources and make them work for you. Here are some tips on how you can successfully set up your Internet home based business.
PLAN AND SET GOALS
As in any business venture, the key to a successful Internet home based business is to plan. Set goals; determine what you want your business to achieve, and prepare concrete action plans on how you will achieve your business goals. Plan what you are going to need, in terms of investment and tools. In terms of investment, you might need to upgrade your computer for a better one, or you might need to purchase another computer to sustain your business operations. The investment requirements will differ based on the nature of your Internet home based business. In terms of tools, since there are a lot of resources available to you on the Internet, plan which resources can help your business. Do you need to set up a blog site, or join forums to advertise your site? If so, in what way should you advertise? These are just some of the things you should already lay out in detail before you even get started.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Once your Internet home based business is under way, the next thing you need to do is to advertise! There are plenty of ways to advertise on the Internet. You can set up a blog and write articles about your products. You can join forums and post website ads in various sites that your target customers often visit. You can exchange links with other sites to drive traffic to yours. You can post pictures and videos of your products on your site, your blog, and in forums. Also, master the art of search engine optimization to lure people to your website, and thus, to your product. The more visitors you get, the more potential customers you have!
BUILD A CUSTOMER BASE
Just as any actual business will not succeed without a loyal customer base, you also have to build a customer base for your Internet home based business. It is important to build a relationship with those who transact business from you. Chances are that they can even bring in more customers because of their contacts. Social networking is yet another concept that is very popular on the Web, and it will pay to take advantage of the social networking sites and communities online. There are a lot of social networking sites on the Web, such as Facebook and Myspace, which can help increase your customer base. When you have a loyal customer base, coupled with a social network that continues to bring in more and more customers, your Internet home based business will be unstoppable!
The arena where your Internet home based business will perform in may be different from the conventional marketing world, but the same rules applies. No business will be successful without careful planning, focused goals, a loyal customer base, and a source of customers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you put your business on the Internet, it will grow on its own. The Internet is as wide as the world we live in, and your Internet home based business will only be successful if you’re ready for a challenge

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Small Business Start Up Costs

Small Business StartSmall business start up costs can prove to be frustrating and stressful for a beginner business owner. Several entrepreneurs are intimidated by small business start up costs and choose to avoid even trying their knowledge in a small business for fear of not achieving success. Because starting a small business involves many expenses, they often think that having such a business will just lead them to failure. Fortunately, there are various ways to finance start up cost for a business; the ones that can help you some of the mounting business costs.
A business plan is an important catalyst of any successful business. In the absence of business plan, you can not easily get an access to business startup loans offered by banks and investors. Letting them know about your business plan can give them confidence. If you have professional business plan, you are providing a blueprint for successful business because you are making a change for your own business to be showcased to potential business startup funding providers. However, in doing this, you must strive to design a business plan that is really convincing and that pictures your abilities to manage such business reflected in your plan.
A business plan, for the purpose of acquiring a loan for business start up costs, has numbers of components. The first few pages showcases the Executive Summary and the Table of Contents. This is followed by the company descriptions- one of the most essential portion of business plans because this explains the short history, the company backbone, as well as the future plans, to the potential investors. The company description sections also mirrors the plan for business possible expansion. In other words, in this section is where the loan providers are most interested to know.
In the company description, you will need to steer clear of discussing that your business is a startup business. Startup businesses are categorized risky investments by most investors. Instead, convey what you have poured to the industry that you are presently in or plan on entering. You can also discuss the things you did that made others become successful. Another is, you shall discuss the growth of your business in the recent months or years and your forecast growth. You have to be sure that during your business plan presentation, you must be in full enthusiasm and passion for your new business venture and so you will be able to acquire a loan for your business start up costs.
Marketing analysis, in a well-written business plan, must be included. This explains your feasibility/ demographic study regarding your potential clients- this can help to convince your potential investors for your start up costs for a business . This portion of your business plan also tells your potential investors on how you are going to promote your business to clients in your target market. This also must show how intense your marketing research to ensure that your product would hit a great demand.
In order to acquire a loan for your small business start up costs , comprehensive financial plan must also be included in your business plan.
Numbers of new and small businesses struggle with the enormous quantity of small business start up costs incurred in order to materialize their business plan. Many entrepreneurs design a professional business plan to help them offer potential investors with their roadmap that shall poise them for success in their new venture.

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20 Business-Building Practices

Business BuildingYou have nurtured your idea, created a business plan, and secured financing. Now for the make-it or break-it question: How do you continue to grow your business year-after-year?
Building a better “mousetrap” doesn’t guarantee that the world will beat a path to your door. And, contrary to the inspiring message in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” there are no assurances that, “If you build it, they will come.” Increasing demand for your products/services and growing your business is realized by the creation and implementation of well-defined strategies.
Two major factors of marketing are the recruitment of new customers (acquisition) and the retention and expansion of relationships with existing customers (customer relationship management). Once you have converted the prospective buyer, customer relationship management (CRM) takes over. The process for CRM shifts from that of being the marketer, to that of being a builder of relationships. Building customer relationships involves nurturing the links between you and your customer, enhancing the benefits that sold your customer in the first place, and continuously improving the product/service in order to protect your business from competitive advancements.
The marketplace is ever changing; therefore, a marketing strategy that works today does not necessarily mean that the same strategy will work in the future. These changing environments necessitate the need to continually analyze and measure the results of each and every one of your promotional efforts. A system that tracks and monitors incoming sales inquiries, by the lead source, is imperative.
The basis of your business development strategy is the recognition of the concept that marketing is a process and not an event. Building a business is, in fact, building a brand. Building your brand is a process that consistently broadcasts your message through a number of different channels to a targeted audience. The trap in event marketing is that it creates the effect of start and stop marketing and produces gaps in the frequency of your promotional efforts.
The need for a written marketing plan is critical. The American Marketing Association (AMA) states, “Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives”. Your marketing plan is your road map that guides you through the marketing process.
There is a variety of ways to generate greater demand for your business. Whether you are starting a new business or jumpstarting an existing one, you need to identify at what stage of the business life-cycle your company is currently in. This information will impact your choice of strategies.
Here are twenty (20) effective business-building practices:
Review your unique selling proposition: The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is your biggest marketing weapon and the key to differentiating your business. What is a USP? In essence, it is a simple statement that sums up the unique features, benefits and value that you provide, that no one else can. You arrive at your USP after you identify the features, benefits, and advantages of your company’s products/services. After you apply the same process to each of your competitors’ products/services, then compare and isolate the elements that distinguish you from your competition.
Establish a marketing communication budget:: Determining and allocating a specific amount of money to fund your marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Whether you use the affordability method, percentage-of-sales method, competitive-parity method, or objective-and-task method to determine the amount of your marketing budget, you must pre-establish an amount of money that you will spend on marketing activities to achieve your sales/revenue projections.
Incorporate integrated marketing communications: A management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing must work together as a unified force. In practice, the goal of IMC is to create and sustain a single look and message in all elements of your marketing campaign.
Utilize indirect marketing: Needless to say, putting more “boots-on-the-ground” in your sales and marketing activities can pay huge dividends. Some of the more popular indirect marketing methods are networking, strategic alliances, independent sales representatives, affiliate marketers, and dealers/distributors.
Ask for referrals: You know the importance of referrals. But, if you do not continually ask for referrals, you will not generate them. It makes good business sense to always ask for referrals. Just ask your customer if they may know of other companies that could utilize your products/ services. You may be pleasantly surprised by their reply.
Explore different markets: If your products/services are presently being sold to one or two different markets, then it is time to explore the opportunities that may be available to you in other markets. A little brainstorming with your staff about this often produces a good “hit list”. As they say, “think outside the box”.
Consider additional channels of distribution: There are a number channels of distribution that may work for you. For example, selling direct, such as via mail order, Internet and telephone sales. Companies also use sales agents who sell on their behalf and/or
distributors (also called wholesalers) who sell their products to retailers. And finally, there may be possibilities of selling direct to retailers and end users.
Expand your geographic reach: Additional channels of distribution are often needed for you to expand geographically. You may want to consider the possibility of franchising or licensing others to promote and sell your products?
Increase product/service offerings: This is a very common method to increase sales/revenues. Important considerations when evaluating a new product/service offering are: Can the new product/service be sold to your existing customer base? Does the new product/service complement your existing products/services?
Differentiate your business: Differentiating your business means that you define your company in relationship to the competition and that you communicate to your customers the value added benefits of doing business with you, versus doing business with your competition. Differentiating your business also means that you continuously make improvements to sustain a leadership position.
Identify your customers’ competitors: A great source for new prospective customers is your customers’ competition. In most cases, these competing companies have the same or similar needs as that of your existing customers.
Survey your customers: In order to effectively differentiate your business, you need to look at your business from your customers/prospects’ perspectives. A customer survey is a great avenue for your customers to express their opinions, to air their complaints, and to voice their satisfaction with your business. The information collected from a customer survey provides the foundation for your marketing strategy.
Profile your competitors: A competitive analysis lists your leading competitors. It summarizes their products and services, promotional strategies, distribution methods, strengths and weaknesses, locations, offerings, prices, and branding. A competitive analysis also outlines strategies for gaining an edge and defines a course of action to take in order to keep competitors out of your market. The analysis helps you expose the competitor’s weaknesses and areas of vulnerability. With this information, you are better equipped to craft competitive and marketing strategies that you may choose to fine tune your brand and your messaging.
Acquire new customers: This is a given…your business cannot sustain itself without the addition of new customers. New customer acquisition is a process that combines market data with direct marketing tools to identify and reach high-potential prospects and convert those prospects into customers.
Mining your existing customers: It is far less expensive to generate additional business from your existing customer base than it is to generate new business from new customers. A regular review of your customers’ buying history and frequency of purchases can reveal some interesting facts about your customers’ buying habits.
Create customer loyalty programs: As the marketplace continues to be more competitive, more and more businesses are offering loyalty programs. These programs help to transform first-time customers into repeat customers by rewarding them with incentives, coupons, certificates or discounts.
Up-sell: Capitalize on the untapped value of your existing customers by promoting related or more expensive products/services. As an example, your customer who regularly buys golf balls is a strong candidate to purchase golf clubs, apparel and other golf accessories. Make a routine practice of recommending additional items that can be added to your customer’s order.
Merge or acquire a competitor: The benefit of combining your company with another company creates an immediate sales growth opportunity simply from the acquisition of their existing customer base. And everything else being equal, the new “combination business” should have the potential to become even more profitable than the two businesses operating independently. This potential for increased profitability comes as a direct result of both sales increases and operational efficiencies (opportunities to reduce total costs) that accrue from combining the two businesses.
Use SWOT analysis: SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is an assessment technique that paints an accurate picture of how your business stacks up based on those four factors. SWOT can identify your venture’s pros and cons, so that you can align internal strengths and weaknesses with external opportunities and threats. This exercise is essential to sound strategic planning. With SWOT, you can identify and prioritize the issues that will accelerate success.
Revisit lost customers: According to the research in the book, Customer Winback How to Recapture Lost Customers and Keep Them Loyal, written by Jill Griffin and Michael Lowenstein, a firm has a 60% to 70% chance of successfully repeat-selling to an active customer. A 20% to 40% chance of successfully repeat-selling to a lost customer and only a 5% to 20% chance of successfully closing the sale on a brand new customer. These statistics suggest that a key opportunity exists for businesses to increase or maintain a customer base by mining and evaluating their database of defected customers. Bernd Stauss and Christian Friege make this argument even more convincing in a case study entitled, Regaining Service Customers. Their findings show that the net return on investment from a new customer obtained from an external list is 23% compared with a 214% return on investment from the reinstatement of a customer who has defected.
Bonus Item. Dead prospect files: Dig out your old prospect files and make a “hit list” comprised of all of the old prospects that you think may still have life. Contact each one of them. Express your wish to discuss their present-day wants and needs, as well as, the opportunity to explore the possibility of you servicing their needs.
Which of the above business-building practices have you, can you, or will you implement in your business development strategy?

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Captcha Bypass Is In Business Again

We all know CAPTCHAs. We have all times succumbed to some of its more twisted and messy forms at least a dozen times. You know the drill, try to guess the text shown in the image box with the squiggly letters, type it in a text box, hit the submit button, realize you submitted the wrong text, redo everything until you get it right. Yeah, I bet you know what Im talking about.
Nevertheless, we all have learned to live with this short and recurring e-torture given its apparent use.
CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. As it name implies the main function of a CAPTCHA is to distinguish Humans and Computers Apart. All the squiggly letters, weird sizes, color meshes and overall lost of user time are made to prevent bots and/or automated scripts to post content were only real users are supposed to post.
So we deal with the pain of typing and retyping the CAPTCHA texts over and over again to avoid the even greater pain of having a web page overran by marketing accounts and unsolicited messages trying to sell products. So this way it would be hard for bots to bypass the initial account creation procedures and preventing the Black Hat Marketers from creating hundreds and even thousands of accounts. Now we can all use our blogs, social networks and other web 2.0 services in peace without being interrupted by unsolicited messages.
A short term victory that didnt last very long
It turns out that the Black Hat Marketers are sneaky and some of them have very advanced programming skills, so they started to create methods to bypass CAPTCHAs. So at first they began creating CAPTCHA OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems and other CAPTCHA recognition methods to effectively become masters of CAPTCHA bypass. They took away the funny colors, put filters to take away unwanted lines and trained neural network applications to recognize the characters in spite of the funky fonts that were in use.
Again, a short term victory for the Black Hat Marketers
The internet community back lashed with CAPTCHAs that were much more difficult to bypass. The effectiveness of CAPTCHA OCR went down to around 30% for the best automated CAPTCHA recognition systems. The web 2.0 sites were cheering; there was final victory against massive automated marketers. Toasts were made, babies kissed, the new CAPTCHAs were here to save us!
Not so fast
Lets go back to the beginning and reference a piece of text 300 words back: CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Wait, so in the end this test is only to tell Computers and Humans Apart, right? Some crazy Black Marketing fella might have suggested Hey, lets just use Humans then. Now we can Bypass CAPTCHAs since were using humans and not computers. I believed that anyone that heard this just laughed out really loud. Who in their right mind would spend long hours in front of a computer screen inserting the text they see in CAPTCHAs over and over again? Not only that. What would be the costs of having a person sitting down all day long inserting CAPTCHAs into a computer?
Answer to first question: People from very poor countries.
Answer to second question: Very Low.
Black Hat Marketers are the big winners for now. Human-based CAPTCHA bypass services have been established for as low as $1.75 for 1000 solved CAPTCHAs (yes, not a scam) and there is even a new market created for this activity. These Human-based CAPTCHA solving services hire a small army of decoders or operators that are happy to insert text for endless hours in exchange of a small pay. All the web 2.0 sites now have to create additional filters and employ extra tactics to keep automated unsolicited messages away and use CAPTCHAs only to keep away the rookie marketers.
Currently, some new companies have invented some other ways to increase difficulty for Human-based systems to decode a CAPTCHA. We now have audio CAPTCHAs, video CAPTCHAs, puzzle CAPTCHAs, math CAPTCHAs, etc. But none of these CAPTCHA systems has grown in a wide scale or have been deployed to any of the main web 2.0 sites. Either way, Im pretty sure that the Human-based CAPTCHA bypass services will find a way to get over these obstacles and keep the marketers in business.
In the end, site owners and marketers will always be playing the cat and mouse game. CAPTCHAs work partially, but as users we will always have to input them. And with the new increase of mobile traffic, were still to see a standardized multi-platform method from stopping unsolicited marketing messages in web 2.0 sites.
By: William Jardain

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Unethical Behavior In Business

The sad truth is there are people who part take in unethical behavior within the workplace. Unethical behavior includes a variety of activities. Some unethical business behavior may include lying and changing the number of hours they have worked, making a long distance phone call on the business phones, and copying business software so they can use it at home. There can be more serious unethical behavior such as altering business records. There are also behaviors which are deemed as unethical and behavior that is illegal but ultimately is up to the business to decide if the behavior is illegal or not.
When a employee discovers someone that is being unethical, it can sometimes test what their own ethical values are. Sometimes behavior that is unethical and not illegal can fall under a grey area such as, what is right or wrong and can make it difficult to know what to do when they encounter it. However, people will also have different opinions on what is ethical and what isn’t. An example could be saying that it okay to say a white lie, and they make it okay because they can justify it their mind.
The employees own sense of what is right or wrong, comes into play when they witness someone else doing something that isn’t part of the companies standards. The employee will need to address how they are feeling about the activity and will they inform on the activity or do they turn a blind eye.
When the employee witness the employee doing something unethical a decision is made in what to do about it and so they are presented with a number of difficult options. Should they go and talk to the person or do they go and speak to the supervisor.
There are techniques that are put in place to make it easier to help with the decision and manage unethical behaviors. The company needs to create a policy for the company, that is signed by each employee so, they are aware on what to do. This will minimize the awakened feeling of what to do when seeing someone act unethically.
The second part is to show a outline of what will be expected of the person when they discover someone doing something unethical. It should also have the person that needs to be contacted and what the process is involved in doing so. Having a clear set instructions, will have a more proactive way on reporting on someone who is doing something unethical. So, by having this it can deal with this issue easily and quickly before it becomes a big issue.
The consequences should be clearly stated of what the unethical behavior is. That way, the person who witness the activity is aware of what to do which lessens the risk of someone not reporting something that is unethical.

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Is it Smarter to Buy or Lease Your Business Office Space

Entrepreneurs often have several types of questions that arise during the creation of a new small business. Some of these questions have to do with products or services, business models, or even how they will successfully start up and maintain a brand new company. Several of the most commonly asked questions, however, have to do with money and how the business owner is going to completely finance the creation of the new small business.
New people who want to start a business usually have great ideas and suggestions for new businesses but soon discover that the implementation of such ideas is extremely difficult and almost impossible. The biggest reason for such difficulties and complexities is because of the lack of financial resources. Many new businesses owners become discouraged and eliminate their dreams of starting a company simply because of the overwhelming threat of finances.
One of the best ways to overcome these fears, however, is by wisely using the funds that you have to obtain the necessary supplies and things you need to start a business. Many business owners often spend too much money on things that are not yet needed in a brand new company and they soon find themselves stuck in an enormous hole of debt. By only using the funds that are available to purchase things that are absolutely necessary to start a company, business owners will be more likely to become successful.
Probably the biggest investment that new business owners must consider is the acquisition of a business location or property. There are three main ways that a person can do this, which is through buying, leasing, or renting the location. Depending on the type of business that is being started, a person must decide which method is the best for the company.
A business owner must first consider what type of business he or she will be starting and the amount of profit that it will be obtaining. If the business will be obtaining a quick and large profit, then buying a business location would be more logical. If the business will take a large amount of time in getting started and will obtain profit in small increments, then leasing a business property is probably is the best option.
Buying a business property is definitely the best option in the long run, especially if a company is guaranteed to be successful. Owning your own property bring along with it many benefits, including asset appreciation and real estate values. It all depends on the amount of cash flow that the company will have and how long a business will remain at the location.
If the tenure of a small business will not be for very long, then the best option for business owners would be to lease a piece of commercial property. Although the monthly payment for the lease is greater than the mortgage of owning the property, it saves the business owner a substantial amount of money in the long run and gives more flexibility to the company.

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Growing Profitable Plants – A Perfect Home-based Business For Gardeners

Many stay-at-home moms love spending time in their garden. Watching plants sprout and grow can be so rewarding. But many people do don’t realize you can make a great income growing plants, averaging as much as $ 20 to $ 30 an hour. Yes, you really can. It’s all possible by growing plants for profit. It’s simply a perfect business for anyone who wants to work at home. Here’s why:
Many stay-at home moms love what they do, but would still like to make some extra cash. The big question is, how to do that when you have so many responsibilities at home? You need freedom to pick up the kids from school, to run errands and so on. So what business could give you that, plus make you good money? That’s easy, growing profitable plants. Growing plants does doesn’t require a full-time commitment. You can work plant care into your daily schedule, doing it whenever you’re able.
First, you pick the plants you want to grow. Visit local nurseries to see what plants are popular.. Do you have favorites – succulents or ground covers, for example? See if the nurseries are stocking lots of your favorites, as that’s a good clue about their popularity. Talk to local landscapers to find out what their favorite varieties are. Next, get planting! Make sure you have a suitable potting soil mix, plant labels so you can tell which plant is which, slow-release fertilizer (also known as time-release fertilizer) to give your plants healthy nutrients on a slow basis, and a good number of the right size containers to put your plants in. Thrifty growers can often get free containers from local landscapers, who would rather recycle them than haul them to the dump.
When you’re ready to sell your plants, you have lots of ways to market your plants. Here are some popular choices:
Farmers’ markets continue to be popular events drawing big crowds eager to buy high quality plants from local growers.
Fundraisers are a way to bring positive attention to your business. Donate some of your profits to a good cause or charity, and it can benefit the charity or cause and still give you a tidy profit. People are usually more willing to spend money on good products if they know some of the profits are going towards a good cause.
Selling directly to landscapers is a way to make big profits and have steady repeat business. If you can supply landscapers with what they’re looking for at reasonable prices, they’ll be calling you a lot.
These are just three of several ways to make good money growing for market. And get this, it’s the perfect activity to do with your kids and other family members. For one, it can keep your kids involved and close to you. Instead of playing video games, your kids can learn the process of growing plants and how to take care of a living thing. It’s an on-going education in life for everyone.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom that wants to start a rewarding business that you can do on your time, then you should consider starting a backyard plant nursery. Soon you can be growing plants for profit. To learn more, read How to Start a Profitable Backyard Plant Nursery, available at profitableplants.com. There, you can also sign up for a free mini-course, 8 Most Profitable Plants to Grow.

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Itsm – Identifying Core Business Processes Is The First Step Toward Customer Satisfaction

In todays business environment, organisations know that to be competitive, they need to respond to change, especially as customer expectations increase. Customers are more demanding, mobile and informed than ever. Global and distributed organisations need consistency in the quality and levels of service regardless of where and how they conduct business.
It is extremely difficult to meet these challenges in a timely manner if business IT processes are widely dispersed, silo-based and inconsistent. Consistent core IT business processes, language and data representation is essential to allow decision makers to respond quickly to the changing market.
Defining and maintaining consistent IT business processes is a lot easier said than done but critical if an organisation is to survive in todays market. This article will define core business processes and explain how to differentiate these processes from their implementation. It will also review how to prioritise which processes to investigate first.
Defining the core business processes
A “core” business process is defined as the minimum individual tasks to be accomplished to provide a certain level of consistency in output, without any consideration to hardware, software, people resource or performance.
When a core process is implemented, anything can be added to make the process more efficient, but nothing should be eliminated. When the core business process states that certain tasks must be performed in sequence, then it must be reflected in the implementation. In the same manner, any specified steps associated with a task must also be reflected within the implementation.
When asked, most organisations will claim that their core business processes are documented. Yet, typically, it is not the core business process that has been documented but the implementation of that process within a particular system or function. In this scenario, the documentation contains system or application process models reflecting implementation details such as “enter username.” Most times, documentation of a core business process doesnt reflect whether a user is identified by a username, badge number, ID-card, or some other method of authentication, as long as the organisation is satisfied with the accuracy of the documentation. Identifying and authenticating a user is an implementation issue, not a business process.
Its not easy to separate implementation from the core business process. Just take one business process and see how readily you can identify the major tasks involved without letting implementation issues creep into the mix.
And it only gets more difficult when core business processes become more intricate and critical within the enterprise.
Using the right process methodology
The methodology and approach used to identify, derive, or create core business processes will vary with an enterprises size, industry and culture.
There are several proven methodologies and supporting tools for deriving and improving business IT processes (e.g. ITIL and ISO/IEC20000).
Your first steps
1. Investigate and remove hurdles relating to organisational cultural issues, governance processes, and supporting infrastructure up front.
2. Educate participants on what a core business process is, how it will benefit their respective business area, and the chosen methodology that will be used to derive these processes.
3. Dont try and do all of the critical business processes at once. Suggest a phased approach with a sound transition strategy.
Once youve identified core business processes, its important to prioritise which ones to tackle first. A new
business channel or service is a good place to start, as business analysis and requirements gathering have likely already been done, which should provide a good jumping-off point for identifying core processes.
Next, tackle any business process areas featuring disparate results between business units. Then, look at processes for which new enabling technology is being considered. Rounding out the list are those processes supported by different implementation and those supported by more than one location or business.
Process empowerment
It is import that all parties involved in executing the process clearly understand that it is the process that should be empowered, and should not be confused with the organisational function and position performing it. For example the Service Desk working on a major payroll incident, which requires immediate response and resource from the development team.
Process review
Your core processes should be a living entity, it is therefore essential to regularly review the performance of your process and adjust as business demands change. (Refer to the Quality management process review flowchart).
Its never too late to start
If enterprises are to remain competitive; they need to reduce the complexities resulting from widely dispersed and often disparate business processes. Establishing consistent empowered core business processes is just one step toward meeting increasing customer expectations in today’s market.

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The Evolution Of Business Analysts

Software application development has only been around since the late 1970s. Compared to other industries and professions the software industry is still very young. Ever since organizations began to use computers to support their business tasks, the people who create and maintain those “systems” have become more and more sophisticated and specialized. This specialization is necessary because as computer systems become more and more complex, no one person can know how to do everything.
One of the “specialties” to arise is the Business Analyst. A Business Analyst is a person who acts as a liaison between business people who have a business problem and technology people who know how to create solutions. Although some organizations have used this title in non-IT areas of the business, it is an appropriate description for the role that functions as the bridge between people in business and IT. The use of the word “Business” is a constant reminder that any application software developed by an organization should further improve its business operations, either by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or increasing service level to the customers.
History of the Business Analyst Role
In the 1980s when the software development life cycle was well accepted as a necessary step, people doing this work typically came from a technical background and were working in the IT organization. They understood the software development process and often had programming experience. They used textual requirements along with ANSI flowcharts, dataflow diagrams, database diagrams, and prototypes. The biggest complaint about software development was the length of time required to develop a system that didn’t always meet the business needs. Business people had become accustomed to sophisticated software and wanted it better and faster.
In response to the demand for speed, a class of development tools referred to as CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) were invented. These tools were designed to capture requirements and use them to manage a software development project from beginning to end. They required a strict adherence to a methodology, involved a long learning curve, and often alienated the business community from the development process due to the unfamiliar symbols used in the diagrams.
As IT teams struggled to learn to use CASE tools, PCs (personal computers) began to appear in large numbers on desktops around the organization. Suddenly anyone could be a computer programmer, designer and user. IT teams were still perfecting their management of a central mainframe computer and then suddenly had hundreds of independent computers to manage. Client-server technologies emerged as an advanced alternative to the traditional “green screen,” keyboard-based software.
The impact on the software development process was devastating. Methodologies and classic approaches to development had to be revised to support the new distributed systems technology and the increased sophistication of the computer user prompted the number of software requests to skyrocket.
Many business areas got tired of waiting for a large, slow moving IT department to rollout yet another cumbersome application. They began learning to do things for themselves, or hiring consultants, often called Business Analysts, who would report directly to them, to help with automation needs. This caused even more problems for IT which was suddenly asked to support software that they had not written or approved. Small independent databases were created everywhere with inconsistent, and often, unprotected data. During this time, the internal Business Analyst role was minimized and as a result many systems did not solve the right business problem causing an increase in maintenance expenses and rework.
New methodologies and approaches were developed to respond to the changes, RAD (rapid application development), JAD (joint application development), and OO (object oriented) tools and methods were developed.
As we began the new millennium, the Internet emerged as the new technology and IT was again faced with a tremendous change. Once again, more sophisticated users, anxious to take advantage of new technology, often looked outside of their own organizations for the automation they craved. The business side of the organization started driving the technology as never before and in a large percentage of organizations began staffing the Business Analyst role from within the operational units instead of from IT. We now have Marketing Directors, Accountants, Attorneys, and Payroll Clerks performing the role of the Business Analyst.
In addition, the quality movement that had started in the 70s with TQM, came into focus again as companies looked for ways to lower their cost of missed requirements as they expanded globally. The ISO (International Standards Organization) set quality standards that must be adhered to when doing international business. Carnegie Mellon created a software development quality standard CMM (Capability Maturity Model). Additionally, Six Sigma provided a disciplined, data-driven quality approach to process improvement aimed at the near elimination of defects from every product, process, and transaction. Each of these quality efforts required more facts and rigor during requirements gathering and analysis which highlighted the need for more skilled Business Analysts familiar with the business, IT, and quality best practices.
Future of the Business Analyst Role
Today we see Business Analysts coming from both the IT and business areas. In the best situations, the Business Analyst today has a combination of IT and business skills. Each organization has unique titles for these individuals and the structure of Business Analyst groups is as varied as the companies themselves. However, there is a core set of tasks that most Business Analysts are doing regardless of their background or their industry.
The Business Analyst role becomes more critical as project teams become more geographically dispersed.
Outsourcing and globalization of large corporations have been the driving factors for much of this change recently. When the IT development role no longer resides inside our organizations, it becomes necessary to accurately and completely define the requirements in more detail than ever before. A consistent structured approach, while nice to have in the past, is required to be successful in the new environment. Most organizations will maintain the Business Analyst role as an “inhouse” function. As a result, more IT staff are being trained as Business Analysts.
The Business Analyst role will continue to shift its focus from “Software” to “Business System.”
Most Business Analysts today are focused on software development and maintenance, but the skills of the Business Analyst can be utilized on a larger scale. An excellent Business Analyst can study a business area and make recommendations about procedural changes, personnel changes, and policy changes in addition to recommending software. The Business Analyst can help improve the business system not just the business software.
The Business Analyst role will continue to evolve as business dictates.
Future productivity increases will be achieved through re-usability of requirements. Requirements Management will become another key skill in the expanding role of the Business Analyst as organizations mature in their understanding of this critical expertise. The Business Analyst is often described as an “Agent of Change.” Having a detailed understanding of the organization’s key initiatives, a Business Analyst can lead the way to influence people to adapt to major changes that benefit the organization and its business goals. The role of a Business Analyst is an exciting and secure career choice as U.S. companies continue to drive the global economy.
Training for the Business Analyst
The skill set needed for a successful Business Analyst is diverse and can range from communication skills to data modeling. A Business Analyst’s educational and professional background may vary as well–some possess an IT background while others come from the business stakeholder area.
With backgrounds as diverse and broad as these it is difficult for a Business Analyst to possess all the skills necessary to perform successful business analysis. Companies are finding that individuals with a strong business analysis background are difficult to locate in the marketplace and are choosing to train their employees to become Business Analysts in consistent structured approaches. First, organizations seeking formal business analysis training should examine vendors who are considered “experts” on the field with a strong focus on business analysis approaches and methodologies. Second, you will want to examine the quality of the training vendor’s materials. This may be done by researching who wrote a vendor’s materials and how often they are updated to stay abreast of industry best practices. Third, matching the real-world experience of instructors to the needs and experience level of your organization is critical to successful training. Business analysis is an emerging profession and it is critical that the instructors that you choose have been practicing Business Analysts.

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Deadly Principles Of Business Planning. You Must Know These

Whether you are running, or planning to run, an offline or online business the traditional basics of achieving business success apply. For instance, it is well-known that a business that has no plan is almost certain to fail. No matter how small a business is, it needs a plan. A business plan compels you to think before you act. It compels you to find out about your business area before you start; i.e. to research your business area or to establish its groundwork.
A business plan forces you to think hard about your competition and how you are going to beat them in the market. It forces you to establish whether your business idea is worth pursuing. Why start a business that is going to fail? Isn’t that stupid?
A business plan forces you to establish the expected costs and revenues of your business, and hence to determine profitability. Why run a business when, at any time, you cannot tell whether or not the business is succeeding? If you don’t know your costs or your revenues you cannot compare them together to tell whether your business is succeeding or failing.
An online business is no different from an offline business, when it comes to business planning. It needs a business plan! Yet, how many newcomers do we see trying to make it online without even understanding the concept of business planning? Is it then a surprise that too many fail?
This article discusses 12 fundamental principles that you must understand and use in your business planning if you are going to run a successful business. The principles are as follows…
1. The Requirements Principle
A business plan must comply with the requirements of funding bodies. This is particularly key when you are applying for funding, but is also necessary when you are not applying because the compliance act itself makes the business plan rigorous. Funding bodies always have requirements that a plan must meet, and some of these are: technological innovation, presence of technical risk, and presence of commercial potential.
2. The Objectives Principle
A business plan must have clearly defined objectives and it must accomplish those objectives. A business plan is a strategic business document, and fundamental to any strategic planning process is the need to have objectives which the formulated strategies must aim to accomplish.
3. The Motivation Principle
A business plan must have clear motivations which highlight its importance. The motivations of a business plan are the reasons for completing the plan. These reasons tell us why the plan is important.
4. The Background Principle
A business plan must be the work of someone with a relevant background (the founder, for a start-up business), and the plan must comply with its authors background. A business plan should be prepared by the person or team who is going to run the business. For a start-up business, this is critical because the planning process prepares the owner for running the business. If the planning is delegated to someone else then it is unlikely that the owner will understand the plan sufficiently to be able to implement it. In these circumstances, the owner abandons the plan and does his or her own thing with deleterious consequences for the business.
5. The Detail Principle
A business plan must be sufficiently detailed to inspire confident action when executing the business; yet it must be flexible. A detailed plan is easier to implement than a superficial plan. A detailed plan suggests that the plan has been thoroughly researched and thought over. Detail inspires confidence in the owner of the business (assuming that he or she prepared the plan). A detailed plan should be flexible to accommodate changing times.
6. The Conservatism Principle
A business plan must be conservative. This means that it must always underestimate revenues while overestimating expenses. The reasons for this are underpinned by risk. A business is always executed under uncertainty… we never have all the knowledge we would like to make business success certain. An immediate consequence of this is the tendency to underestimate cost, only to find that we run out of money at critical times of a business’s execution. We also have a natural propensity to overestimate revenues… to dream!
7. The Cash Balance Principle
A business plan must always have a positive cash balance. A negative cash balance means that you plan to run out of money… to be insolvent! If you cannot realistically get the cash balance positive, without padding figures, then this is a sign that the business idea is not worth pursuing.
8. The Insolvency Principle
A business plan must guarantee against insolvency… against running out of cash. There are four ways to do this: conservative estimates so that the business always outperforms its plans, detailed cost identification to minimise omitted costs, contingency planning to accommodate forgotten items, and a positive cash balance throughout the plan.
9. The Risk Management Principle
A business plan must manage risks by convincingly dealing with uncertainty, reducing it to as close to zero as possible. This is simply stating that a business plan must be thoroughly researched, including desk research and field research. The more thoroughly a plan is researched the more it rests on sound facts, knowledge, and understanding, and the less the uncertainty and risk associated with the plan.
10. The Evidence Principle
A business plan must rest on supporting evidence, and guess work must be minimised. Sound evidence increases the reliability of a business plan and reduces the risk associated with it. And the less risky a plan is the more likely it will guide a business to success.
11. The Rigour Principle
A business plan must be rigorous  complete, correct, and reliable. This means that the plan must be derived from a systematic process that attends to all the issues that must be addressed. In particular, the plan must not be rushed. The issues must be sequenced and dealt with, each at the right time.
12. The Collaboration Principle
A business plan must be founded on collaboration (not confrontation)  it must satisfy the collaboration principle. This means that a business plan must be based on the works of others. It must not be opinionated. It also means that a collaborative, rather than a confrontational spirit, must exist in any business planning team if the results of that team are to be worthwhile.
Final Remarks
This article has discussed 12 killer principles of business planning that any plan must satisfy if it is to be taken seriously. Five of such principles are: requirements principle, objectives principle, motivation principle, background principle, and detail principle. These principles are a must for anyone running an offline or online business. If your business is failing it is more than likely that your failure to comply with one or more of these principles is to blame.

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Jeff Usner Can Help You Launch Your Own Online Business

When trying to run a successful business, many people will offer bits of obvious advice. However, there is no logic in considering the advice of people who have never been in your shoes. It will be more beneficial to heed the words of a person like Jeff Usner, an experienced business owner who is responsible for his own immense success using tools like the Internet.
As the founder of numerous businesses who has brought his net worth from six-figure debt to six-figure revenue, Jeff is a man you can trust. He knows what it is like to be starting from the ground up, and by being resourceful, he has been quite successful. He generated systems for sales that are responsible for such large net profits and implemented the necessary technological tools; now he wants you to do the same.
Success like this does not need to seem like a freak accident anymore. He is making it easy for anyone and everyone who is interested to get their hands on valuable business plans and marketing information. Simply follow him on his social networks and pay his website a visit to sign up for his mailing lists. This way, you can receive all his latest news and information about products and training.
For example, he is responsible for the creation of ProfitHub, which is a comprehensive program that trains its users on the Internet as a resource. You can learn everything from strategies to branding to creating websites with this product  all information that is vital to online business growth. It is the perfect blueprint for online business strategy, which is what makes it so ideal  it contains everything necessary for getting started.
He even makes himself personally available to anyone who wants to have an in-person consultation with him. This will make it easy to ask questions, have the strategies and skills laid out in front of you, and be informed about his events. Whether you want to meet him one-on-one or with a small group, he is available for scheduling, and it is often these types of meetings that make or break a persons success.
The way technology is advancing, there is no way around it: the Internet is soon going to be your most important resource for running a business, if it is not already. It can help create a clientele base, bring in consumer traffic, advertise, spread information, and much more. Since Jeff Usner is experienced in using it as a tool and puts all the necessary knowledge within your reach, everyone should seize the opportunity.

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How To Make Your Small Business More Secure

Many small business owners take shortcuts when it comes to security. They may not think they have the money to invest in a security system, or they may think that theyre not a target. However, this negligence is precisely the reason many burglars and other criminals go after small businesses. Here are 7 steps every small business owner should take to keep their clients and employees safe.
Stay Alert
Not all criminals strike at night when the building is deserted. In fact, many prefer to slip in unnoticed through a side door during the day. Teach your employees to pay attention to your property and report any strangers who are lingering nearby. CCTV in Calaveras, CA, is a good way of monitoring your property at all times, and you can usually access it from work or home.
Maintain Your Building
Criminals will assume that your building is an easy target if you dont put an effort into keeping it well maintained. Long grass, weeds, graffiti, and other signs of neglect are signs that you cut corners when it comes to expenses and probably dont have a security system installed. Overgrown trees and bushes also provide good hiding places for criminals to conduct surveillance on your building while theyre planning a way to get in. Keep the exterior of your building clean and well lit to encourage burglars to try a different target.
Keep Emergency Plans Handy
Your building should have a written set of instructions for emergency situations posted in an area where all employees can access it. This should include steps for dealing with natural disasters and phone numbers of the local police and fire department. Review these plans with your employees regularly, and discuss what they should do in the event of a burglary or another crime.
Keep Track of Your Keys
The fewer keys to your building, the better. Make copies only for those who absolutely need them, and make sure you have a list of everyone who has a key. Tell your employees to be careful with the keys, especially in public places like the gym or Laundromat. If you lose track of a key, have the locks changed just to be on the safe side.
Dont Advertise Your Cash
Never let on to your customers how much money you have in the store. Your employees dont need to see you counting cash at the end of the day. Make regular deposits at the bank, and never leave large amounts of cash in your store overnight, even in a safe.
Protect Your Computers
Your computers contain sensitive information about your business and your clients, and its important to take steps to keep them safe. Use firewalls to prevent communication with other networks and block people from hacking into your system. Limit computers in your building to official use only–your employees shouldnt be using them to check their personal emails or surf the Internet. They may accidentally stumble onto something that could compromise the safety of your computers. Give every employee their own individual login so that you can keep them accountable for anything that happens while theyre logged on.
Invest in a Security System
A security system is usually the best defense against burglars, and it can also help keep your building safer from natural disasters like fire. Most burglars look for easy targets where they wont be caught, and will avoid your store if they know that its protected by a security company. This is especially true if they think theyll be recorded by CCTV in Calaveras, CA. If someone does break in, your security company can alert you and the police instantly, giving the police the best chance of apprehending the trespasser.

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The Influence Of Internet On Modern Business

An Internet Marketing program has two sides. One is the part devoted to individual customers. The other is the business to business component. E-commerce programs as well as advertising, sales support, customer service and public relations are all elements of an internet marketing program.
Similar companies compete against one another while being only a click of the mouse away. In other words, a buyer can locate numerous sellers offering similar merchandise, similar prices and similar offers in a very short time period. As more people and businesses become comfortable with the internet, the marketing landscape will continue to evolve quickly in the coming years.
Use of the internet has exploded during the last few years in both the consumer and business-to-business markets. Although the experts still debate the future of the internet, no one doubts it is having an impact on how business is taking place in the twenty ‘first century, even with all of the – – dot crashes – – of the late 1990s. Here are some facts about the internet that highlight its tremendous growth and presence in society:
– The most common products consumers’ research online and purchase off-line (at the store or outlet) are: automobiles, computer, hardware, travel, electronics, books, appliances, music, sporting goods and clothing.
– Over 25 percent of all business-to-business purchases are placed through some type of internet connection.
– The five top business-to-business e-commerce products are computers and electronics, motor vehicles, petrochemicals, utilities, papers and office products.
– In 2004, 10 percent of business-to-business advertising dollars were spent on the internet. The total amount spent was $8.7 billion.
– About 54 percent of the e-mail users have responded to an e-mail advertisement. Almost half purchased a product.
– Internet retail sales account for almost 2.5 percent of all retail sales.
Business-to-business marketers were among the first companies actually to make profits using the internet. In today’s marketplace, the web is becoming the communication tool of choice for many business-to-business companies. The internet provides opportunities for communication, customer service, sales support, collaboration and e-commerce.
Some companies use the internet for every aspect of their business including taking orders, inventory control, production scheduling, communications plans, sales programs, service departments and support programs. The change from traditional communication channels such as salespeople, telephone and – – snail mail – -to the internet and e-mail happened quickly in some companies and more slowly in others.
Now, convincing top management of the benefits of internet marketing is essential. There is still a lack of internet expertise in the business community. As a result, many companies are turning to marketing agencies for guidance.
To conclude, the influence of the internet on various businesses and industries has been clearly noted in today’s world. The presence of the internet and e-commerce is so sweeping that the various applications of web technology are now essential elements of a fully integrated marketing communications program.

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