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Good Business Ideas For The Home Business Entrepreneur

The idea of making an income from home is very appealing, especially if you have the drive and ambition to start your own business. However small or large your entrepreneurial dreams, there are plenty of good business ideas to be explored.

Forget the “Get Rich Quick” schemes or the promises of steady income for very little time commitment and “all you have to do” is invest in an upfront program (when something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is), and focus on creating your own business doing something you love. While there are good business ideas that have made money for some you need to find a business that excites and energises you. With the right motivation and a sound business idea you’ll have the tools for success, and the ability to persist with your business over the long term.

Good business ideas for home business entrepreneurs fall into three broad categories:

1. Virtual Services

With the massive increase in outsourcing of certain tasks or jobs, there are many opportunities to offer your services virtually. This means you can work at home and provide services such as admin, writing, marketing, design, information technology or social media to companies. Either on a project basis or as their virtual PA (personal assistant), marketing officer or social media expert.

As a virtual PA you will handle all the tasks a PA would, logging expenses into a spreadsheet, booking trips, organising calendars, booking training, preparing materials for presentations and events, but based at your own home.

With systems and tools such as Google Docs, Dropbox and other online sharing tools, you can easily share information and provide documents, spreadsheets and reports remotely for your clients.

As a freelance writer you can offer to write articles, reports, edit content, post blog comments, handle forum marketing, provide blogging, tweeting or HubPages content, the options are limitless.

If you have knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation) you can provide a service building backlinks for your clients’ websites and blogs.

Find clients by promoting your services on a Facebook fan page and by contributing to relevant discussions on Facebook, blogs and forums. Or you can find freelance work through sites such as Elance, Guru or PeoplePerHour.

2. Local Services

Use your skills and experience to offer services to local businesses. If you have even the most basic marketing, online or social media skills you can offer to be their marketing or social media expert. Charge on a per job, hourly or monthly retainer rate, depending on your local market and the expertise you’re offering.

Many local businesses are good at what they do but struggle to find new clients and promote their business effectively online. Stop in and chat with some local businesses and show them how you can help them get more customers, by improving their online marketing or social media.

A good tip is to get the local papers, school, church and parish newsletters and see which companies are advertising. Contact them and chat with them about how you can help them get more business, or save money.

3. Online Business

Online businesses are booming as demonstrated by the explosion in the numbers of people online and using Facebook. Home business entrepreneurs are finding opportunities online like never before. Start with a hobby, skill or something you feel passionate about and look at ways to make money from it.

Good business ideas include becoming an infopreneur. Create information products to share your ideas and experiences with others to help them solve a problem, or meet a need. This can be by way of a blog, community or forum website, membership site, ebooks, reports, newsletters or online training.

Information can be provided in instantly downloadable formats so customers get the information they want straight away, and you make money every time your product is downloaded.

An information business is easy to set-up, low risk and you can test your ideas on a small scale before creating more comprehensive products. Promote affiliate products to test your market or make money selling products on eBay or Amazon.

If you’re selling physical products you can use drop-shipping to automate the fulfilment and shipping of your products so you never have to handle products. The drop-ship company will handle the invoicing, payment and shipping of the product. All you do is promote the product to the customer.

The goal with an online business is to automate as much of it as possible, so you set the systems up and leave them to run. That way you’ll have a truly automated business that makes money even while you’re sleeping or away on holiday.

I’m a big fan of small niche sites that you set-up and forget. They won’t make you rich but you can create as many small niche sites as you like and multiply your income. A niche site will focus on solving one problem for a specific market, such as weight loss, caring for bearded dragons or betta fish, or getting rid of acne.

Good business ideas are all around. Start looking at the possibilities everywhere you go. See what the hot topics are in magazines and papers, listen to what people are talking about (or complaining that they are missing) and get started with your own home business today.

Buying a Scuba Dive Business in the Tropics: THE INITIAL PROCESS

Buying a Scuba Dive Business in the Tropics is something that seems like a bit of a Black Art to most dive instructors and dive centre owners.

Many of them have spent the past 10 plus years in the tropics, living the good life. After a while working as a Divemaster, they progress onto instructor and spend a few years working for a selection of dive centres and liveaboards around the world.

At some point an opportunity pops up that one of these dive centres is looking for investors, or indeed looking for an all out Buyer…

Next thing that pops up is “Right, this sounds good, what do we do now and what information do we ask for now to make sure we’re not buying a White elephant?” (or words to these effects, to be honest, this is normally uttered after a few beers and has a bit more of a fruity flavour to it, lol. We are still scuba divers after all…)

This article is going to look at the All Out Purchase of a Tropical Destination Dive Centre.

Stage 1: First things first… Have you been there, dived there? Okay, lets say something right here. If you have not been to the dive centre, or even been to the country in which it is, FORGET IT!

You really DO want to have been to the dive centre, dived with the operators, seen the operation and indeed stayed in the village/resort where it is situated. The info ‘on paper’ is NOT the business!

I am going to make the assumption that we are looking a a potential Buyer who is indeed a diver and is looking to set up life in the tropics owning a dive business. If the potential Buyer is looking for a paper investment to make a good financial ROI, then they should read my article The REAL worth of a scuba dive business… for a more realistic view of the dive industry.

You want to have been on the ground, or plan on being on the ground, WAY before you even think about laying out any money or making any offer.

Nuff said, I personally think there is NO exception to this! What information can realistically get up front? A “Sales Memorandum” or a “Memorandum of Sale” should be available almost immediately you have stated an Expression of interest.

This document (or nowadays more likely a webpage) outlines everything needed to assess the scuba dive business. The following information is normally included (but there is no rule or law governing this):

  • Brief description of the business and its history
  • Description of customers and markets (demographics)
  • Description of products, services and pricing (a basic run down of courses, dive trips and retail)
  • How the business generates new business (Sales and Marketing)
  • Description of premises and lease terms
  • Financial highlights for at least 3 years (see below for more on financial info)
  • Number of Employees and basic wages info
  • Asset list owned by the business that are for sale with the business (however not an Asset Register)
  • Basic Explanation of contracts with customers and suppliers
  • Strengths of business
  • Potential for future expansion
  • Reasons for sale
  • Terms for sale
  • Price guide

Prepare yourself In addition to getting information from the Dive Centre for Sale, you need to prepare yourself.

You have to have clear answers on following questions:

  1. What is your price limit?
  2. What can you afford really?
  3. If they ask for your more can you get finance?
  4. What is your exit point from negotiations, maximum acceptable price and terms?

Non-Disclosure Agreements
At this stage the seller will normally ask the potential Buyer to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This will be binding in the country where the Dive Centre is based normally. References It is also normal for the Seller to ask for some business references from the Buyer.

This is to protect themselves from ‘false identities’ which is not an uncommon practice in the scuba diving business. A competitor will see that the seller is for sale and will set up a ‘dead email’ and a false name and ask for more info hoping that the seller will send sensitive and confidential information.

Seriously? YES seriously, I have seen this any times over the years. They see it as “secret shopping’ and a way to get information on their competition. Of course the Courts and law see it as industrial espionage and fraud…

Anyway, be ready for this, it’s not malicious or meant to be causing you costs before any decisions are made. Remember if you end up being the new owners, you want to be secure in the fact that the previous owners have not given away all this confidential information of the, now, your business, to your new competition! Next Stage? In my opinion, after the initial discussions and info have passed between the 2 parties, then it’s time for a face to face sitting outside the Dive Centre to take it to the next stage. This is the subject of my next article, actually heading out there and Visiting the Dive Centre.

Tools to Market Your Business Online Locally

Local search is an inexpensive way to get your business found by prospective customers. In the world of the online business, traffic to your website is the most valuable of assets. And in today’s tight economy, business owners are constantly looking for more efficient ways to market their products or services without breaking the bank. One of the most effective ways to market your business online is locally. People tend to trust local businesses more than they do, for example, one on the other side of the globe. Local marketing online is one of the most cost-efficient yet easy methods of which to market on the Internet. And because most companies already have a web site and a blog, local marketing is easier than ever.

Top 10 Tips for Marketing your Business Locally:

1. Merchant Circle – Claim Your Profile on Merchant Circle. If your business is not already listed on Merchant Circle, sign up and within 5 minutes, you can get your business more exposure on the Internet. Be sure to include correct and relevant information such as your legal business name, street address, hours of operation, and business categories. Categories are important because they help ensure your listing is found easier by searching customers. Add deals and promotions to your Merchant Circle listing. Deals include coupons, sales and offers and are a fantastic way to encourage browsing customers to visit your website.

2. Google Places – Claim your business on Google Local Business Center. In a previous blog entry, we outlined the steps necessary to get your business listed on Google Places for free. 97% of consumers search for local businesses online and because the power of Google, many of your potential customers could be looking for the products and services that you offer online at Google Places. Be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business. Again, this is a free local platform from Google.

Help your business stand out by adding photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you. Display special promotions, post live updates, and respond to reviews from your Places for business account.

3. Yahoo Local – Claim your business on Yahoo Local. Potential customers from your area visit Yahoo! Local every day and could be searching for your products and services. Yahoo Local is easy to setup and gives you the ability to add descriptive information about your business and upload images from your computer. It is simple to manage. You do not have to bid on keywords and you can edit your listing at your convenience, twenty-four hours a day.

These are the building blocks of getting your business found online. These top three sources of website traffic are easy to use and- best of all – they are free.

Next, we will detail some other strategies for building visibility to your business online. Some of them are free, and some of them require an initial deposit to get started. But all of these sources are excellent ways of which to build website traffic, which as we all know equates to more sales!

4. City Search – Add a Business Listing. If you cannot find your business and your business isn’t listed on CitySearch, you can add your business to their directory by completing this form. You need a CitySearch account to submit a new business to them.

5. Local.com – Add a Local.com Business Listing. Setting up your free Local.com business listing is quick and easy and takes just a few simple steps. Get started by entering your business information, preview your listing and edit it with details and special offers to enhance your visibility.

6. MapQuest – Promote your business with MapQuest. The MapQuest Local Business Center listing is free. You can add your business listing within minutes to MapQuest.com by creating a MapQuest Merchant Account. MapQuest powers local search for all AOL properties. You can also buy advertising on MapQuest that gets seen on Yahoo, Yelp and SuperPages business directories.

7. SuperPages – Also called SuperMedia – and is an excellent resource for business owners looking to gain instant access to the millions of potential customers that view the SuperPages business listings each month.

8. YellowBook360 – With a YellowBook360 listing, you are adding your business to one of the top 50 Internet properties on the web. Put your business in more places and reach more customers with YellowBook360.

9. YellowPages.com – The tried and true method of adding your business to the YellowPages is still a strong business strategy. YellowPages has re-branded their business and is now called YP.com, but make no mistake, this directory is still as solid a business investment as ever. Your business can advertise with premium ads and if you are just getting started or are on a strict marketing budget, YP.com offers free business listings.

10. Yelp.com – This website has grown into one of the fastest expanding user communities for reviewing and researching local businesses. Businesses can advertise on Yelp.com with any size budget. Yelp is an excellent website for advertisers to reach an actively engaged audience.

By incorporating each of these steps into your local marketing strategy, you can build a more successful business. Look at these steps and follow through with each one, as your budget allows, and in time you will see more traffic to your website, which will result in more business and sales.

Starting to get the picture? Yeah, you can build traffic, visibility and sales! Give yourself every advantage. Give yourself a better chance to achieve success on-line.

Oh, and don’t forget – go green with green website hosting.