Why Small Businesses Need Public Relations

In today’s challenging economy it is imperative for businesses to be proactive with marketing and advertising efforts. However, marketing and advertising can become quite expensive and often times only last for a small period of time and then – its forgotten. That is why it’s so important for small businesses to take advantage of PR efforts. Not only is public relations a great alternative to spending thousands on advertising and marketing, but its much more effective and highly respected.

Any business, well mostly any business, can go out and purchase an ad in the newspaper or magazine. But on the contrary, not any company or entrepreneur can have a respected journalist or publication write an article or broadcast information about their business. Only small businesses that understand the importance of branding itself and building a reputation with its targeted audience, receive the benefits of community recognition and respect among consumers, media and investors. This can only be achieved through strategic public relation efforts.

Not only is the competition for small businesses fierce, but there’s almost a new business established everyday. And the launching of that new company could potentially put yours out of business. But if you already have a solid foundation and reputation within your community, its very likely that your customers and audience have a sense of loyalty and trust within your organization and will not jump ship very easily.

But what exactly is public relations and how do you achieve that consistent, trusted and recognizable image? Simple… the first thing you do is consult an experienced PR specialist to assist you with branding your company and creating a unique identity. Your PR Pro will help you identify your competition and develop a strategic plan to propel you ahead of your competitors, while implementing a comprehensive campaign to reach your audience. The key to a successful PR campaign is consistency and creativity. Consistency basically means to incorporate ongoing strategies and not something that’s just going to disappear in a few months and to understand the point of constantly communicating your message and remaining in the public eye. And well the creativity part speaks for itself… don’t just do the same old thing that everyone else is doing or has done. Incorporate a twist, a spark or something that catches attention and grabs interest.

Public relations is an important tool for the survival of your business. If you’re not communicating your organization’s message and informing the community what you have to offer, then how will they know? And what’s worst is to communicate, but not communicate effectively which could only confuse your audience and have them quickly running to your competitors. Don’t make that crucial mistake – Take advantage of public relations to ensure the success of your small business.

The Most Effective Environments For Entrepreneurs

Every person has different types of environments that they work better in. Some people need be in a place where background music is playing, while others need to be in a completely pin-drop quiet atmosphere.

I believe that a good working environment greatly affects the productivity of one’s work.

And although the two necessary things you need to make money online – a computer and the internet – can be found in many places, or anywhere if you just have a laptop, I believe that working home, the library, or a nearby coffee shop are the places that most of us go to get most of work done online.

Since I like hearing bad news before good news, I’ll go through this article describing about these places, starting with the cons first and the pros last.

Your Home

You’ll probably spend most of your time working at home Working at home is great if you live by yourself. If you live with your family, then you probably know what it feels like to have one of your family members walk into the room every ten minutes and telling you, “Go do something besides being online!”

You might be shaking your head right now. I agree, it can be somewhat annoying at times.

What about living with your friends? You might start working and then all of the sudden hear the TV outside of your room, driving you practically insane, r hearing people talking outside of your room, which you have no choice but to hear their conversion, and if it’s interesting enough, you’ll probably get distracted and want to join in.

Basically, the biggest disadvantage of working at home is the potential distraction caused by other people living in the same house, and these things can really be endless.

But, there are good upsides to working at your home. When you’re working at home, you’re most likely working in a room, meaning that you’re free to be completely comfortable with yourself. You can stretch whenever you want, walk around, sing, dance, shout, and do whatever you want.

You also have easy access to the bathroom and refrigerator, rather than having to wait for vacancy or starve when you feel hungry and low on cash. You can take a break anywhere you want in your house such as lie on the couch for ten minutes and relieve some stress.

Finally, you get to create your own working environment, however you like; whether you to have a plant next to the window or having your desk completely clean and clutter free, you have control over your own space.

To me, I find it best working at home early in the morning where everyone’s sleeping and you have a fresh mind, or working at home late at night like at 1 A.M. when everyone’s asleep and the house is in complete silence.

Other than that, I find that working at home during the day can get you easily distracted, in which case the library or coffee shop would be a better option to getting more work done.

The Library

Although libraries seem to be “the place” to do some studying or get work done, I find it difficult to stay there for very long periods of time.

First of all, libraries can get really cold fast.

Have you ever been to one expecting the temperature to be okay, then ten minutes into it you realize that your legs are getting chili because all you’re wearing is shorts, and now you’re stuck because you don’t want to drive back home which is twenty minutes away?

It’s one of the feelings where you just have to work while adapting to the temperature where you have no control over.

Another thing about the library is that with so many people around, it gets way too quiet sometimes.

I don’t mind being in a quiet atmosphere when I’m working alone, but in the library, do you ever notice that any sudden actions you make can cause awkward eye contact or stares from nearby people?

It almost feels like you are constrained in your own space and can’t and can be as free as you would be in your own home. This kind of cold atmosphere can become quite uncomfortable if you’re not a person that can sit still in one place around people in complete silence.

Nevertheless, some people like the feeling being in complete silence all the way until their work is done. The good thing about the library is that if your house is too loud, the library is always a place you can rely on for quietness.

Plus there are usually computers, books, dictionaries, articles, and magazines that you can use as additional resources.

But the best aspect of libraries is the social working atmosphere. When you take look around and see other people working hard; whether it’s working on graduate papers, studying for math exams, preparing for the GRE, these are people who go to the library because they are serious in passing their test, achieving good grades, and doing well in life.

Seeing everybody working on something motivates you to work as well with them, resulting in getting more of your work done. It gives you the feeling that even though you don’t know anyone, everybody is kind of in this together.

This “quiet energy” is one of the better advantages that working in the library has, compared to working in busier environments.

A Coffee Shop

The coffee shop is my favorite place to work. However, it’s not free.

You could probably pass by just bringing your laptop, saying “hello” to the workers, and sitting down without ordering anything, but, well, that would just be weird.

Usually you go in and order something out of courtesy that you’re using their environment, even if it’s something small like coffee, and it can add up.

One round of coffee costs about $3 or $4, and if you plan to stay the whole day, you might need multiple rounds of coffee, which could cost $10 or more. This doesn’t include the internet fee that some coffee places charge, which would be another $3 for 24 hours.

Not that great if you already have internet at home…

Also, unlike the library, if you’re a person that needs minimal noise level, it can get distracting at peak hours at coffee shops.

Imagine finally settling down in the table you choose and starting your work, only to be interrupted by the voices of two best friends, sitting in the table next to you telling each other about their entire awesome, awesome weekend.

“Just great…” you mutter, looking at them with an unfavorable smile.

But most of the times, this won’t happen. It’s part of the best part of working at a coffee shop – the social atmosphere. You sit down anywhere, and it’s completely relaxed. There are people reading the newspaper, people chatting and laughing, usually some nice enjoyable background music, and finally, there’s coffee to stimulate your mind.

The place is just alive.

Even though it’s of a somewhat noisy environment, it’s still one that’s definitely workable in. Plus, unless you spill your coffee on someone’s newspaper, you don’t have to worry about awkward tension from people because no one cares. Everyone’s just doing their own thing and in the time that they are there and enjoying a cup of coffee.

In conclusion, there will be pros and cons to every place you work. Try to figure out where you can work the best because it can greatly affect the outcome of your work.

If you’re pissed off that your family members or roommates keep talking to in the house, apply for a library membership and stay there for a couple of hours. If you feel like the library is too cold or serious of a place for you to work, change your location to the nearest Starbucks. If you feel like you’re wasting money on music that you can listen at home or drinks that make you too antsy, get some earphones, close the door, and work in your room.

The joy of a home base business doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work at home, as long as you have access to the internet, you can work anywhere.

Assessing Your IT Needs

There are those who say that in order to start a home based business, all you really need is a table, a chair and a telephone, along with some writing materials and a calculator. This may be true in the very beginning – depending on what sort of business it is and what it is you’re selling – but (hopefully!) your needs will expand along with the business.

For example, if your home based business involves doing research for second and third parties, local libraries, universities and colleges and state and county government offices are great places to access, and may be necessary.

However, as more and more information is posted online, you’ll find it possible to save a great deal in travel costs by accessing the information on the Web, or at least confirming that the information you’re seeking is there and the trip is justified. (You could call on the phone and ask, but anymore, chances are you’ll spend considerable amounts of time wading through menus and trying to get to the person with whom you need to speak.)

Basically, information technology is about two things: (A) saving time and (B) providing secure access to data.

Assessing Your I.T. Needs

There are certain needs common to every home based business, regardless of what product or service it’s offering. At a minimum, every office will need:

A desk and a comfortable chair

At least one good-sized bookcase or shelving unit

A table

A telephone

A computer and good monitor

A printer, copier and FAX machine

Let’s look at these one by one:

Desk and chair

This is where you’re going to be spending a great deal of time, and if you don’t choose wisely, you’ll find yourself getting aches and pains in places you didn’t know existed. While it may not seem to have much to do with your I.T. equipment needs, it has everything to do with your long-term chiropractic health – and without that, the best I.T. and electronic equipment in the world won’t help you.

On the next page, you’ll see three set-ups. Can you tell which one is ergonomically correct?

Choose the chair where thighs are nearly straight out in front , wrists are at a slightly raised angle, and there is support both wrists and the lumbar region for back. Also, head is at the optimum level for viewing his monitor. Don’t Get a chair where , the monitor height forces you to bend your head and/or neck – which you’ll be feeling in a few hours.

You can get away with buying many things for your office second-hand and “on the cheap” – but do not skimp on the desk and chair setup. Go to a store that specializes in office furniture and try several until you find something that works for you

Bookcase/Shelves

You can probably get away with starting out small, here – but chances are good that your storage needs will expand substantially over the years. It may be tempting to go with a lighter model simply for ease of movement. If your home based business is a success however, those shelves will soon be groaning under the weight of reference books, ledgers, and more.

If portability is an issue, there are models available with casters – or you can add some prior to filling the shelves. Just make sure that the shelves and the casters are of sufficient capacity; plan on about 100 lbs. per shelf.

A word about home based business office supplies (including writing and computer supplies): shelves can be a great storage place for these as well. Just make sure they’re organized into small boxes, and store these items on the top shelves (since they’re lighter in weight).

Table

A table – aside from your desk – is an infinitely useful place for holding brainstorming sessions (by yourself or with others), meeting with clients, having a “working lunch,” or doing any work involving pen (or pencil) and paper away from the computer (which is probably taking up most of your desk space in any event).

One caveat: there’s a real danger that a table will turn into a “catch-all” for books, important papers, and more. Resist this temptation by making sure that (A) your desk has sufficient drawer space, (B) you have a decent file cabinet, and (C) you have enough shelf space (and you’ve made a habit of using it).

Telephone (And Phone System)

This is something to think about. If you plan on being able to talk on the phone while having your hands free, you’ll need either (A) a headset or (B) a speaker phone, or (C) both. Having both affords you a bit of flexibility, as you can conduct both a private conversation and a conference with yourself, the person on the other end and whoever is in the office with you.

Other elements of this system include answering machine, message forwarding and paging. There are numerous ways to set this up.

The easiest and most economical is to simply have an answering machine (and be sure to get one that allows the caller to leave a message longer than 30 seconds – or you’ll have a lot of abbreviated and unfinished messages), then provide a cell number in the outgoing greeting. That way, if it’s important enough, your clients and/or customers can always reach you, and you can avoid the expense of a paging/messaging service.

If you plan on taking cell phone calls while on the road, a “hands-free” set-up is absolutely necessary. Many auto accidents are caused by people attempting to talk on a cell phone while driving, and many states are beginning to crack down on the practice, issuing stiff fines.

Such “hands-free” set-ups are available at many electronic and even automotive stores. Top-of-the-line set ups will run no more than $150, and there are many (of varying quality) that cost less than that.

Another thing to think about is whether or not you want a second phone line. If you have teenagers, this is practically a necessity. There are now numerous companies on-line who can provide your business with a toll-free phone number. Typically, you’ll be charged a monthly fee ranging from $9.95 to over $80 depending on what features you choose, plus a per-minute charge that can vary between .02¢ and .08¢.

Many companies offer a set amount of “free” minutes (that is, minutes included with the monthly charge) before you wind up paying for additional minutes. As with every other service and tool, it pays to shop around.

Computer and Monitor

Here is the heart and soul of your operation. You’ll spend a great deal of time with this machine – which will probably be obsolete within two years. For this reason, it really doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on this year’s latest and greatest model. Last year’s top model will work just fine, and you’ll save a LOT of money by going that direction. During the summer of 2006, this writer purchased a one-year old Dell Dimension with an Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 3.2 GHz, complete with Ethernet, 3 GB of RAM, advanced ATI video card and a 160 GB hard drive from a private party for $750, including a 17″ monitor and keyboard. This is about half of what it cost new. It is suitable for high-end 3-D graphics and rendering, runs graphic-intensive 3d games at a good resolution, and allows for satisfactory mid-range video editing (the book you are reading was written and published on this same machine). Chances are, a computer similar to this one will serve about 95% of the small businesses out there quite well for several years.

There are of course risks to purchasing a used computer. You have no idea if it has been protected by a firewall (more on this later), what viruses may be lurking, and you have no way of knowing how well it has been maintained. 98% of all computer problems are software-related, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll experience a great deal of frustration and downtime. If you’re going to purchase a second-hand computer, make sure you have some computer knowledge, or bring a friend with you who does. The best cure for most all computer problems is prevention of course, so later on, we’ll be discussing the care and feeding of your computer.

If you are determined to have a brand new computer however, it’s best to have it custom configured for your needs.

This U.S. – based company uses unionized, U.S. American labor to assemble their products. Their machines are priced very competitively with those of the major manufacturers who use off-shore factories in Asia. You can purchase a new computer with an Intel Pentium 4 3 Ghz processor, 512 MB of DDR RAM, 80 GB hard drive, 52X CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive with Windows XP Pro operating system installed for $1018, and includes an optical mouse, enhanced keyboard and stereo speakers. That is nearly $70 less than the lowest-priced, overseas-manufactured name brand, which does not include mouse, keyboard nor speakers. Union Built PC offers a one-year warranty on its computers, and has additional products and business-related services available. The base price of their machines starts at $825, and a “wizard” is available on their website that enables you to add upgrades and see the price difference in real time.

About monitors: today’s standard is the 19″, flat screen LCD. Anything smaller will cause eyestrain if used continually. Unfortunately, the prices on LCD screens go up dramatically with every inch. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that like all technology, monitor prices have been dropping a great deal. We are now seeing 22″ LCD monitors on auction websites for less than $350, and 19″ monitors for a little over half that. Our advice is that you select the largest monitor you can afford – your eyes will thank you for it.

Printer, Copier, FAX Machine

Today, you can get one machine that performs all of these functions. Sometimes called an “all-in-one,” a printer-copier-FAX can run about $150 new. If you decide to purchase a used one, you may find a perfectly functional device for as little as $20 (more on this, later).

It should be pointed out that the copier function of these low-priced all-in-one machines is intended for light duty. If you are planning on making a large number of copies on a regular basis, you’ll be better off with something larger and more durable. PC Magazine and Consumer Reports generally have good, reliable independent reviews of the various brands and machines available that will help you make an informed choice.

Other I.T. Options

As mentioned earlier, laptops have the advantage of portability. However, unless you’re planning to be on the road or out in the field a great deal of the time, it’s probably not the best choice.

If you need to gather, store and even transmit information in the field, a Personal Digital Assistant – more popularly known as a “PDA” – is an extremely economical choice. Due to their size, they are limited as to what they are able to do, but for the price (ranging from as little as $25 to $150), it’s an excellent extension of your PC (though not a substitute), and can be used to transfer information back to your main machine at the home office. PDAs will be discussed in more detail in a later section.

When it comes to staying in touch, the answering machine and cell phone solution is definitely the easiest. The drawback of using a cell phone is that it is not always an economical solution. However, there are hundreds of companies offering literally thousands of different plans at prices ranging from $30 all the way to $250 per month. Many plans include free minutes; many do not. “Roaming” charges – the price you are charged for air time outside your service area – can really add up as well. Unlike a “land line,” cell phone users are charged each time they talk, whether the call is incoming or outgoing.

Only due diligence and some thorough comparison shopping will determine which cell phone plan will best serve your business’ needs.

An answering service, while expensive (plans start out around $40 per month), can be a great investment in customer and client relations. Having to speak with machines and mechanical voices while wading through menus has increasingly become a “turn-off” for many people. At least two marketing studies have shown than 30-35% more customer/clients will leave a message for a live person than they will on a machine or voice mail.3

All Those Bells And Whistles; Do You Really Need Them?

As far as hardware is concerned: again, this depends a great deal on the nature of the business. If you’re doing high-end video editing or graphics-intensive desktop publishing, you’ll definitely want to get the best video card you can afford. A video card is like a co-processor for your computer’s main processor unit, and handles most of the mathematical calculations required to display images. The three most popular brands – ATI Radeon, GeForce and Nvidia – offer hundreds of different choices, ranging in price from as little as $30 to as much as $750. The price goes up with the amount of video memory installed on the card. More video memory (RAM) equals better quality video.

The same can be said for audio cards. If you business involves processing any sort of sound files, you’ll want the best one you can afford. Fortunately, audio cards are less expensive than video cards.

Speaking of RAM – that is, the main memory used by your computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) – more is better. No matter what you use your computer for, more memory will allow your computer to run faster, with more applications open at the same time. Main memory is called either SD RAM or DD RAM, and like your processor comes in various speeds.

RAM modules typically must be installed in pairs, and are purchased as such – so if your computer has 512 MB of RAM already installed and you want to upgrade to a total of 1 GB, you’ll need to buy two 256 MB RAM modules. All of this will depend on the number of slots your computer’s motherboard contains. Most today have at least four, and will accept up to 4 GB of RAM (that’s two pairs of 1 GB memory modules). Unfortunately, the operating system used on most business computers today – Windows XP – addresses no more than 3 GB. The upcoming Windows Vista OS may solve this issue, however.

In any event, RAM today is fairly inexpensive, especially compared to prices in the early and mid 1990’s. In 1992, you might have paid $400 per megabyte and considered it a heck of a deal. Today, RAM prices have dropped to around $100 per gigabyte – a mere 0.4% of what it was fifteen years ago. Regardless of what software you’re running, always install as much RAM as you can afford. When shopping for RAM, also make sure it is compatible with your particular system, and that all your modules are rated at the same clock speed.

Most of the “extras” that constitute the “bells and whistles” on a computer system consist of software that you really don’t need. They take up room on your hard drive, and may provide some limited functional or entertainment purpose, but if they’re applications you don’t use very often, its best to get rid of them. If you don’t know which programs are merely “taking up space,” there is an easy way to find out.

In order to bring up the screen in windows xp for example, you would click on “start” in the lower left-hand corner, then “Control Panel” and “Add Or Remove Programs.” Other systems have similar commands As you can see, highlighting the name of a program will tell you when the program was last used, and whether it’s used rarely, occasionally, or frequently. You then have the option of removing it by clicking on the “Change/Remove” button.

Uninstalling an application in Mac OS X is as simple as dragging it to the “Trash.” Although this will leave behind some of the application’s related files in the cache and the System, these will not interfere with your computer’s operation in any way due to the OS X Unix-based architecture. You have the option of removing them manually, if you like.

Getting It Cheap
Earlier, we mentioned that the best way to go is with last year’s equipment. The best places to obtain this equipment at a low price are (A) newspaper classified ads, (B) online want ads and (C) Internet auction sites.

When dealing with potential sellers found on Internet want ads, it’s best to deal with someone local with whom you can meet face-to-face. If you know little or nothing about computers, take someone along who does and who can look at the system and run some diagnostic routines. Otherwise, you’re better off buying a new system.

Reputable online auctions are another way to go. Sites such as eBay and Ubid have procedures in place that protect both parties in a transaction. If you are buying a used system, it’s important to look at the seller’s feedback rating. If an eBay seller has a feedback score of 100 or more and it’s 99.5% positive, chances are good that you’ll get your money’s worth and that the seller will stand behind his or her product. In addition, if you use Pay-Pal, you are protected for purchases up to $10,000 – although there is a lengthy procedure involved, and getting your money back may take some time.

When it comes to peripherals such as printers, these are showing up increasingly on the shelves of second-hand stores such as Goodwill and Value Village. Reputable second-hand stores will allow you to test the item before you buy it, and if it doesn’t work when you get it home, they’ll allow you to return it in exchange for an in-store credit.

We encourage the purchase of second-hand computer equipment for two reasons: (A) electronic waste – much of which is highly toxic – has become a major environmental problem.

The purchase of used equipment reduces consumption of resources and keeps this waste out of the landfills. (B) Buying equipment second hand keeps money in the local community (or at least the country), and – in the case of many second-hand stores – contributes to charitable causes. Likewise, when you purchase a custom system from Union Built PCs, you are keeping money in the U.S. economy and supporting domestic industry. Supporting your community and nation is always an excellent investment in your own business that will pay big dividends in the future.

7 Crucial Things Every Entrepreneur Must Know Before Starting an Online Business

I wanted to write this blog for one reason. According to Forbes Magazine, there are approximately 40 million people who are going to be looking to start a home based business. I personally believe that even in the current economic conditions more people will be looking to replace their income, and come into our industry.

Everyone will resonate with a different home based business. But this article gives you the yardstick, from my personal experiences over the last 3 years in this industry, to compare the company you want to partner with. If you do your research well, using these points, it will help you immensely so that you can an informed decision for yourself.

1. Find a Business That Has a Unique Product With High Demand in the Market Place.

I found out that there are a lot of businesses out there on the internet that are too similar. The Nutrition and Supplement department of our industry is a perfect example. If you go into this areas with a new nutrition product, it will be very difficult to break into the market and overtake those that have been in the market for 50-60 years.

Also the product must have a high demand in the market place. If people try to convince you to join their company, ask yourself ‘if this product did not have money making opportunity attached to it, would it have been of any benefit to me at all? If your answer is no then be a bit careful because not many people are going to need it.

2. The Company Has Really Lucrative Compensation Plan.

This is really important. Why? Because you want to paid big upfront commission on the front end as well as big residual commission on the back end. Most companies pay either a big upfront commission and small residual back end commission, or the other way round. You want the first situation because it will give momentum to go and make more sales if you are paid a big upfront commission. And also a big back end residual commission will give you enough money to rely on when you retire or are unable to work.

3. Marketing System and Training.

I found out that a lot of companies come short on this big time. You know you can have the best products, best compensation plan, BUT if the company does not have a sound, tried and tested, duplicatable marketing and training system in place, you are not going to make any money. Why? Because products do not sell themselves. Marketing and training does. So ensure the company you are trying to partner with have this in place. If you don’t like hotel meetings, and this is your company’s means of marketing, then my advice be wary! The future of marketing in on the internet. If you the company does not have an effective internet marketing system, they are probably behind the times and you are going to struggle if you join them.

4. Company Management

Do your homework. Make sure you research those behind the company. How long have they been in this industry? Have they been profitable before or they just in it for a quick buck? You don’t want to wake up one day to find out that the company owners have absconded with the company profits.

5. Global Expansion

Does the company intend to go global? Or can the business be done only in US? I found out that marketing information products attract less red tape than consumables. This is because consumables like supplements have too much legislation on them from country to country.

6. Does the Company Give Back?

What is the company doing to impact lives in the future and even now? Of what benefit are they to society?

7. Support and Training Network

This is extremely important and again a lot of companies come short on this. If people are going to start on a new adventure, do they have to rely solely on their sponsor or is there a team of successful members who can guide them through the steps they need to take to be successful?

Conclusion

So use these points in deciding which company you want to partner with and I am sure that you will not be too far from success. Obviously our company has incorporated these into our system because we know you will need it.

An Alternative to Starting or Buying a Business

Franchising is a type of business arrangement that lies somewhere between buying a business and starting your own business. It involves an agreement between a Franchisor (Burger King, Subway, Mail Boxes etc,) and you, the individual business person, called the Franchisee.

The Franchisor offers their established corporate brand name, experience, expertise, training, support, and proven methodology to the Franchisee. In return, the Franchisee pays an upfront fee and continuing royalties.

I bring Franchising up in the Bootstrapping context as it almost completely solves the experience/know-how part of the limited resources equation. As to the cost part, many Franchises will be clearly out of most start-ups’ reach. However, the franchising industry is so big and diverse that many have a relatively low initial cost. Recently Entrepreneur magazine had an article on 80+ Franchises that required an initial cost of $25,000 or less. (Entrepreneur.com)

Franchising is a large business sector. There are over 300 types of business categories supporting over 18,000,000 employees and accounting for 3% of US gross domestic product (GDP). There are many and diverse categories of businesses available for Franchising. A partial list of the different franchise businesses is Automotive, Business Services, Children’s Products & Services, Education Financial Services, Food, Health Care, Home Improvement, Hotels & Motels, Maintenance, Personal Care, Pets, Recreation, Service & Tech businesses, and more every year.

Jeffrey Tannenbaum, the former Wall Street Journal’s expert on Franchising, described franchising as a mixed bag. He said, “For many people becoming a franchisee is the shortcut to prosperity, but for others, it is the shortcut to hell.”

Let’s look at the pros and cons of franchising.

ADVANTAGES

    • Allows you to be in your own business with a limited knowledge of the industry and of running a business. You get the advantage of the Franchisor’s proven track record of success, their training, their operating methods, their suppliers, their credibility, their ongoing support, etc.

 

    • Some major risks of business failure are reduced.

 

    • Quick start to get your business operational. Every facet of starting and running the business is provided to you. An entrepreneur, starting on his or her own, would take considerably longer to begin.

 

    • Expansion: If you become successful, you can expand quite rapidly through the expertise and cooperation of the Franchisor. They are anxious to discover successful operators who have proven they have what it takes to grow. Sometimes the Franchisor will block your expansion plans, despite your proven success. If this happens, you can draw inspiration from Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. Sam’s initial entry to retailing was as a Franchisee for the Ben Franklin 5 & 10 Cent stores. He followed their formula and added his creativity and work ethic to become a leading franchisee. He started to expand in neighboring Arkansas towns. Early on, Sam spotted the advent of retail discount stores. He approached the Ben Franklin management to let him pioneer a discount store under their umbrella. They summarily dismissed him, and Wal-Mart was born. Little did the Ben Franklin management realize how profoundly they would affect retail history.

 

    • Due Diligence: Franchising is a highly regulated business. By law, every potential Franchisee upon asking must be provided with a Franchise Disclosure Document from the Franchisor. This will give you details of the arrangement with Franchisees, financial strength of Franchisors, their list of existing Franchisees, and, in many cases, lists of past Franchisees. You want to know everything you can about your potential partner.

 

    • Training is provided to you and to your employees. The learning curve of running a business is accelerated.

 

    • In most cases Advertising and Marketing of the brand is provided. In some cases, you may be required to contribute to the costs of it.

 

  • Territory: You are assigned an exclusive Franchise for a specified geographic area. No one else can use your brand in this defined area. This provision should be specifically spelled out in the contract.

DISADVANTAGES

    • Lack of Control: You don’t have the independence of an owner of a business. The Franchisor requires you to strictly follow their rules and to use their systems. Changes require approval. You are also limited in where to buy your supplies, how to advertise, which products you can and cannot offer, volume goals, etc. The arrangement can be frustrating for a creative personality.

 

    • Costs can be high, both the initial fee and ongoing royalties. However, costs are never to be considered in a vacuum. They need to be measured against the profits you create.

 

    • Royalties are paid on volume and not on profits in most instances. This is usually not a great arrangement as one party can lose money while the other profits. Their interests are not aligned even though it is a partnership.

 

    • Inequality: It is an unequal partnership. The Franchisor has much more power. If the Franchisor does not deliver on their support promises, you may not have much recourse, as most contracts favor the Franchisor. Also, you may not have the money to pursue your expensive legal options.

 

  • Selling the company may be difficult. Let’s say you’ve been successful over the years in building the franchise and want to now retire or change your lifestyle. In an independent business, you are completely free to sell to anyone at any price you desire. This is not necessarily so for a Franchisee. Some contracts won’t allow you to sell, or you can only sell back to the Franchisor. This might not allow you to get a fair price. So, you should try to address this issue in your original contract.

Promotional Products for Travel and Leisure

Choosing promotional products can be tricky for your business. The key however, is to make them as relevant to your business as possible. The next step would be to personalise them to make them not only attractive, but also to define them as representing your company. This can be achieved with a range of printing and design work, aimed to market the product to your target audience.

If your business is involved in the travel and leisure industry, then it goes without saying that you should be searching for relevant products. Thankfully, the market is awash with all kinds of promotional products geared up for every line of industry, large or small.

Travel and leisure encompasses a vast array of products, so you will certainly not be lacking for choice. The one problem will be selecting individual products from such a large list. Even so, having such a range can only be a positive thing.

If your business caters for a type of sport, then you’ll find an excellent amount of products and will be pleasantly surprised by what you can make your own and personalise. Just for golf alone, you can purchase tees, golf balls, gloves, ball markers, club covers, pencils, caps, socks and more still.

Other fantastic options in terms of more general travel and leisure would be luggage tags, bank card holders, travel toothbrush, drawstring bags, beach balls, water bottles, travel games, first aid kits, pool inflatables, travel cushions and pocket fans. The list just goes on and on. Take bottles for instance – this is a single item but one that has a hundred variants, shapes, colours and sizes. It is some task to narrow it down to one particular item, but one that will be worth it in the long run.

The vast amount of goods available out there for travel and leisure makes it a very competitive market and so choose wisely before you buy and not act on impulses alone. The cost varies greatly between each item and you want to try and get the best value for money as possible, without losing too much in terms of quality.

By using the best travel and leisure promotional products, displaying them well and having them printed with your company details, you stand a great chance for a successful campaign. Products like those described are a fantastic marketing tool for getting the word out there about your business.

The Best Deals of Travel and Leisure Magazine

Constant travelers who want to score the best deals in every continent that they step into should never do without a copy of travel and leisure magazine. This magazine which is well known as travel + leisure magazine provides the A lists of the best hotels, restaurants, wellness clubs, cruise ships, events and festivals, resorts and beaches, food and drinks, and other significant facts that are essential to the well-being of one’s travel itinerary. The travel and leisure magazine is a top rated, professional travel companion that would make sure you do not lose your way in every travel decision that you make.

The travel and leisure magazine used to be a compiled journal of travel photographs which placed emphasis on leisure travel and often features contributions from novelists, poets, travel columnists, artists, and avid travelers who are eager to share their acquired wisdom and serve as a helpful guide especially for those who are still neophyte in the realm of travel. The magazine publishes in a monthly basis and has several international editions such as China, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and South East Asia though most of them were already defunct.

The magazine is famous for their World’s Best Awards which is announced every August and has been practiced since 1995. This is an award body created on a basis of an annual survey from magazine readers who gave out their quantitative rating of world’s best travel destination and accommodation. For the 2010’s survey of the World’s Best Awards, the travel and leisure magazine offers a chance to those who will take the survey of winning a $10,000 dream trip. This award has various categories namely hotels, islands, cities, airlines and cruises, wellness and spas and business hotels. These categories are featured on all continents that the travel and leisure magazine encompass such as US and Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific. Last 2009, the Bushman’s Kloof atop the Cedarberg Mountains in Western Cape, South Africa emerged as the record holder of the number one spot in the survey with an overall score of 98.67.

Aside from the World’s Best Awards, the travel and leisure magazine also has what they call T+L 500 Best Hotels and America’s Favorite Cities where subscribers and magazine readers rank cities in the U.S. based on several categories. The categories are very informative because it covers almost all the things that one needs to know in famous cities such as their culture, hotels, nightlife, shopping malls, food and dining places, and airports.

The travel and leisure magazine also provides educational articles that are full of ideas not just about traveling but also informative discussions such as books and movies, charity programs, sports and fitness, gadgets, arts and culture, and basic photography lessons.

For those who are interested in subscribing to the travel and leisure magazine, the publication is giving out two risk-free issues of the magazine.

Use a Travel and Leisure Magazine to Plan Your Getaway

Whether you are looking to find a romantic weekend for two or a week long getaway for the whole family, a travel and leisure mag can make your planning easier. You can find recommendations for destinations and hotels in the area, a list of things to do, and reviews on lodging, restaurants, and attractions. In addition, you can usually find special offers available only to the readers of the travel and leisure mag that can save you some serious money.

You can read your travel and leisure mag online, or purchase a copy at your local newsstand. Either way, you will find fascinating articles and a wealth of information. Many sponsor contests for the readers of their travel and leisure mag, so you just might win the trip you’ve been longing to take.

Detailed hotel reviews are to be found at almost every travel and leisure site. You can find out whether they are quiet, clean, and efficient, as well as whether they have restaurants or clubs on the premises. Any other services, such as valet parking, turn down service, concierge, and currency exchange will also be provided by the travel and leisure mag.

One of the best sources for information on cruises is a travel and leisure mag. You will discover which lines or ships provide the most activities for children and which ones are planned for adults. You can also find out whether cruises are planned for singles, couples wishing to take a second honeymoon, or the entire family from Grandma to toddler. Often, you can find discount coupons at a travel and leisure magazine online site that will make your cruise even more affordable.

A travel and leisure magazine can also provide recommendations for destinations that may not have been on your list, but are exactly what you are seeking. Perhaps you want to find a beach resort that is off the beaten track, affordable, and far from the crush of civilization. Browsing a travel and leisure mag may be able to provide you with a list of several destinations that fit the bill.

Even if your travel plans are many years in the future, you can still use a travel and leisure mag to plan the vacation you will someday take. Anticipation is half the fun, anyway, and a vacation that you take only in your imagination still offers some benefit to your psyche.

A travel and leisure mag is practically an essential for couples planning a honeymoon. Together they can search for potential destinations and select one with features of interest to both. They can compare hotel rates and amenities, learn how to reach their destination, and perhaps find discounts to make their honeymoon even more special.

You can also use a travel and leisure mag to plan a day trip for the entire family. Almost everyone has state or national parks, amusement parks, or museums within a few hours’ drive. The magazine will provide with information on location, hours of operation, cost, and what is offered. That way, you will know in advance what to expect when you take your crew out for the day or weekend.

Travel and Leisure Hotels to Fit Your Budget

When it is time to plan a vacation or a weekend trip, you may need to find travel and leisure hotels that will work with your budget. You also want to find choices that offer the amenities you need and the location you want.

The Internet is a good place to locate travel and leisure hotels. Many travel sites offer an excellent starting point, although few have enough information available to make your final decision. However, you can find the names of the travel and leisure hotels that meet your minimum requirements and then visit their home pages individually.

Start by answering why you need to find travel and leisure hotels and for whom. Are you traveling for business or taking a romantic vacation? Who will be in the party? Will it be adults only, or will children be included? If children are going, what are their ages? Will you need child care services? Do you plan to rent a car or walk to local attractions? Once you have defined why you are looking for travel and leisure hotels and who will comprise the party, you can start looking for travel and leisure hotels that will fit those needs.

As you find hotels that might suit your requirements, map out their locations in relation to other attractions you want to visit. Travel and leisure hotels with a slightly higher daily rate may not be the best option if everything else is on the opposite side of a large city, since taxi fares will quickly exceed any savings.

Investigate all amenities offered by all the different hotels. If you work out daily, you might want to find one with a free gym for guests. Perhaps you want a hotel with an indoor pool for taking the children for a swim. You might want to limit your potential travel and leisure hotels to those with 24 hour room service, particularly if you are planning a second honeymoon or romantic weekend. Or if you are traveling on business, you might need on-site cleaning and laundry service.

Certain individuals with health needs may need travel and leisure hotels with specific amenities. For example, those who need to keep insulin refrigerated would probably prefer a room with a mini-fridge. Those with breathing problems might prefer a room on a lower floor just in case there is a power failure or other emergency requiring the use of stairs.

Perhaps you want to narrow your search for hotels to only those with onsite restaurants. This can save time and make it easier when traveling with a large party, since people can eat when they want and there is no need to try to coordinate a meal time for a group.

Once you have a list of hotels that seem like suitable candidates, you can check further on things like cancellation policies, check-in and check-out times and procedures, and parking availability. You may also want to know if there is a club, spa, or convenience store onsite.

With just a little research, you will no doubt find many travel and leisure hotels that interest you. By finding the one with the most qualities you desire, you will make sure that you and everyone traveling with you will have the best trip possible.

Travel and Leisure Resorts

If you are planning to embark on a luxury cruise voyage, then do not hesitate any more. As much as it may look like just an ordinary leisure outing, at the end of it all you will have developed great and lasting friendship with your cruising partners. It is from such friendships that you get to learn very many things that you never knew.

During your journey, you will be overjoyed to spend some time in the travel and leisure resorts which offer marvelous services and delicacies. As you cruise all over the fabulous ports and any other place that the cruise ship sails, you should not be worried of where you will sleep or eat. Almost all travel and leisure resorts operate all day and night long. Other than the mega cruise liners, there also exist a number of various types of ships that are of different sizes. Despite the big craze of travelling in the big ships, the smaller cruise ships are better when it comes to inland waterways navigation. This makes it very simple to view historic landmarks and cities.

Travel and leisure resorts offer some good place to relax after all the day’s site seeing and travelling. If you choose to travel on a larger cruise, they organize one or two shore excursions at every port of call. You get to go for one excursion in the morning hours, and the other one in the afternoon then from there you get your time to rest at any of the travel and leisure resorts. After the first excursion, all people gather back at the travel and leisure resorts for a sumptuous lunch buffet.

Although travel and leisure resorts also offer dinner, you might always miss it on the days that you go out for an afternoon excursion and come back late at night or early evening. However, you should not miss out on any adventure just because of one meal or two. The travel and leisure resorts are always open and all of them offer very good and high quality meals. Sometimes, you can even explore the city, an island, town, or other landmarks and tourist attractions on your own provided you get to the ship on time or else, it will sail without you.

Do not forget that your vacation time is limited. You should distribute your time effectively so that you do not spend too much time in the travel and leisure resorts at the expense of shore excursions. The other very important thing that you should not forget to carry with you is the travel guide book. Without this book, you may end up lost or you may never know where certain sites are found. Some travel and leisure resorts have these guides but they cannot allow you to leave with them. Similarly, you can also carry a camera which you will use to take photos and videos. You should therefore make sure that the memory card is big enough to store all those images and videos.