As February rushes by, those New Year resolutions may be turning into distant memories if not forgotten dreams. Except for that one significant promise, to become master of your own destiny and invest in your own business.

If you are dreaming of owning your own business, there are some trends in your favour. Slow to moderate overall economic growth in many countries hard hit by the recession is forecast to continue through 2011. In the US, the small business sector remained in recession in 2010, lagging in recovery, and is now predicted to see stronger demand and better business conditions this coming year. Key trends seen as driving the growth of small business are
small manufacturing businesses in niche markets aided by technology making barriers to entry lower,
the weak dollar aiding US manufacturing cost competitiveness,
the internet becoming more widely known to small business as a low cost way of sourcing and selling goods and services.
Small business growing more familiar with and making greater use of social media in their local marketing efforts -think Groupon Inc and its highly successful coupon business supporting local deals!

When time is not on your side, the resilient and proven franchise business model allows you a faster and often comparatively risk adverse track to generating positive cash flow. Although its your own business, you don`t have to go it alone making a proven franchise operation a smart choice. Strong viable franchise opportunities are there for the qualified buyer, so how to join that select group?

Access to financing from traditional sources is expected to remain tight in the US throughout 2011, in spite of the Governments continuing efforts to support small business through tough times. We recommend that potential franchise buyers be cautious when selecting companies to do their 401(k) rollovers or when selecting a financing company with all of the fraud that has occurred in the banking sector over the last several years, finding a reputable company to provide your financing is more important than ever and a winning point in your favor with franchisors.

MatchPoint Franchise Consulting Network was founded in 2006 with a mission of helping companies expand their franchise networks and improve their system. The advice offered freely to franchise buyers by MatchPoint consultants is vital to the buyer in making a better, prudent, buying decision. The advice offered by our consultants does not make us lawyers; it is there to help the investor with a high quality due diligence process.

MatchPoint consultants know the red flags in the investment field. It takes the very few promoters that practice business fraud to taint the dream of the franchisee and their family.

That`s where seeking the independent advice of an expert franchising consultant is prudent and invaluable.

Starting a small business online

How to take the first steps to starting a small business online. Today you can easily access anything from online shopping to job information online with just a click of your mouse.

If you already have an idea of the kind of business you plan to start you can begin by researching on the internet to see if this is something people are really searching to buy. You need to establish there is a demand for your idea. If not, however good you think it is, it is not likely to be successful.

If you are not sure exactly what your business will be you can browse the internet to find ideas. You can also visit your local bookstore and look for books and magazines on topics of interest to you. Again you should make sure there is a large group of people, or market, for this product or service.

By browsing the internet and clicking on a few sites of interest to you, it is easy to start an avalanche of information flowing into your email inbox. If you are venturing online for the first time and you have no previous experience it is very easy to feel overwhelmed very quickly. Most people seem to experience what is now referred to as “information overload” at some time.

One way round this problem is to look for an online marketing offer which will help starting a small business online a little easier. There are many online marketers offering a solution to your problem but how can you choose a good fit for you? Beginners in the online business field are often referred to as “newbies” so this is a good place to start.

You should look for an offer that concentrates on the basics for any online business rather than the latest trend at this time. If you can find a course that will take you step by step from the creation of your website, setting up your offer and getting visitors to your website this will reduce the time it takes. Why start from scratch when there are plenty of proven systems that work already.
I highly recommend you stick to one method to start with.

Enjoy the 5 minute video

One of the most important decisions a small business owner, or any business owner for that matter makes is what bank they are going to use. Small business banking provides a wealth of financial services beyond simple deposits, check writing, and withdrawal. Many small businesses need to establish a line of credit or perhaps even take out a loan. Another one of the many services that small businesses need to setup is credit card processing, payroll services, and automatic bill pay. A small company cannot function without the proper financial setup. In order to withstand the financial needs of a successful business, the company needs to set up an account with a bank that is familiar with small business needs.

In order for a bank to attract small businesses, they need to provide aggressive attractions and a wide variety of services. The bank must offer convenience. For example, many small businesses deal with cash and coin. Therefore, they will likely make many trips to the bank to deposit and withdraw money. A bank must also offer plenty of convenient ATM locations so that the small business can have access to their account at any time of the day or night when they need it.

Many banks charge fees ranging from credit card fees to ATM charges, wire transfer fees, and many other normal fees. As a small business owner, you should not find any surprises. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask the small business bank of your choice what fees they charge so that they are not caught by surprise. Make sure and choose a bank that is upfront about their charges, one that is capable of providing you with the lowest rates, the most feasible financial options, and the best in banking service so that you can run your business smoothly and efficiently.

Small business banks must also provide excellent customer service so that when a small business owner has a problem; bankers that can guide the business owner through their problems address the problem. There are many reasons why a small business owner would experience a banking problem such as transaction issues or a forgotten PIN. That is where the small banking specialists step in and take care of your worries so that they can get you and your account straightened out.

For the business user, the main advantages to working in a company that has an exchange server are:

1. File sharing
2. Access to email from any configured computer
3. Contacts access
4. calendar syncrhonized and shared between all employees

Essentially it means the office worker can use any configured computer to access his or her files, emails and calendar. The company will often configure a laptop and provide remote access so the member of staff can also work from home or while travelling and still have complete access.

The problem with this kind of product when it comes to a small or mid sized company, is that it requires someone to manage it and there is a huge cost, in terms of both initial cost and ongoing expenses.

So if you manage a small business and you want your employees to have a high level of flexibility i.e. to be able to telework or while travelling, or even to hotdesk at the office, you will need an exchange substitute.

There are two alternatives which will offer you many of the features of Exchange without the expenditure.

The first is a hosted exchange server. The second is the Easy-Email synchronization solution plus file synchronization software.

A Hosted Exchange server is a great solution. You get almost all the advantages but you are spared the resource cost and management time. You simply pay according to the number of users. This allows for quick expansion so as the business grows you just increase a user.

Easy-Email is a fabulous alternative for small firms.
Its an email sync answer set out in the form of a series of guides that you, or an IT professional you hire, can follow. It will sync a users mail and contacts on their desktop, laptop, home computer, pda or netbook. In addition it will allow them to manage their email from any other computer via Gmail.

The Easy-Email solution is incredibly good value compared to any other alternative solutions It’s just $67 US for the Advanced Guide to Outlook and you can get all of your staff set up for this fee!
The disadvantage in comparison with exchange is that there is at present no shared calendar so you will need to use a google calendar or similar.

And in terms of shared files and folders its really simple. Set up Dropbox. Dropbox provides you with a system of shared folders that are all automatically sync’d via the internet but they are also stored on the computer so you dont have to be online to access the files. You can select which people have access to which folders and the first 2GB of storage space is free (and it’s very reasonable after that).

All types of businesses, be it home based, manufacturing or a start up business, must have online presence today. Small Business Websites have the possibility to appeal new customers and have many growth opportunities.

What is needed is to make these websites attractive to project a very good image of the business and they should be able to present the exact business activities in a very professional manner. For this, the content material must be full of important information.

There are quite a few website designing companies that provide professional service but out of those companies, choosing one such company that would serve your requirement is tough. Prior to getting into any kind of agreement with these web designing provider, one needs to be certain of the quality of services in the long run and also availability of the support staff. The contract need to be handed over only if the business owner is comfortable with everything the firm offers.

The most important thing to have Small Business Websites would be that the firm developing such websites should have a knowledge of buildig websites for small businesses, SMEs and individuals so that their performance and competence could be checked. It is important to make sure that they look after the needs of the small business and listen to the marketing aspect also.

Such websites hold the ability to create recession proof business so that in times of volatility the marketability of businesses doesn’t get affected. The design of the website can be optimized for the search engines and are accountable to rank high in SEO parameters.

Since a designed website gives the initial impression to a customer about a item, it should be created very carefully. The first impression to website visitors with well designed websites is far greater than that of an in house website and thus it can bring in much greater business.

The cost factor is also accountable for driving a website. The setup and maintenance costs should be estimated properly and competing prices should be compared thoroughly prior to engaging a firm to build a website. It’s prudent to compare the prices of few other web designing agencies to select one that designs Small Business Websites at a fair price and one that understands how to market your business.

One more essential thing to consider is the after sales support. Also, they are supposed to give one month free post sales service to make alterations if needed. Even there should be provisions for add-on features like ecommerce, SEO and others.

Blogs have revolutionized the way that people do business. It seems that all the big companies are making use of blogs to promote themselves and market their products. However, corporate blogs aren’t just for big companies. Blogs can also be utilized by small businesses with great effect.

Setting up a small business blog is easy and has many benefits. They are powerful promotional tools and a great way to communicate with clients.

Here are some tips on using a small business blog:

1. Write Naturally and Honestly

Small business blogs can be more personal than large corporate blogs. It’s best to write in way that feels natural to you. Avoid writing needlessly complex posts filled with technical jargon. Doing so will endear customers and promote conversation, which is what a blog is for, after all.

As with any blog, you must always tell the truth. Blogs should address all issues, be it good or bad. This will ultimately beneficial as it helps builds trust the customers.

2. Post often and Respond to Comments

Remember to post frequently. Provide readers with plenty of content, so that they will keep coming back to your blog.

Comments are a vital part of blogs, providing useful feedback. Respond to reader comments often to build strong ties between them and your company.

3. Promote your business, Promote yourself

A small business blog is an innovative way to promote a business.

A good technique is to document your projects. This is good way to show how capable you are at your profession and to garner trust. This is especially important with small business, where reputations can make a big difference.

Blogs allow for unparalleled interaction with customers. Use this to get closer to clients, and to build bonds of trust. The information gained from readers is invaluable for improving your small business.

4. Be Informed and Informative

Read plenty of other blogs to gain useful information. Post comments and promote your own blog. Be an active part of the blogosphere.

Post links of related information on your blog, and use technology like RSS/Atom feeds to constantly provide your blog with interesting content. This is a great way to promote your business and be informed of everything concerning you industry. Besides informing your readers, it can lead to interaction and possible collaborations with other businesses, all of which will benefit a small business.

5. Search Engines

For those who wish to achieve higher search engine rankings, a blog can be an invaluable asset. The constant updating combined with the right keywords can raise search engine results dramatically.

If you are like most businesses, the answer lies somewhere between ambivalence and total disdain.

All small business owners know the importance of low cost overhead. Working smart with your money has never been more important than it is in today’s economy. A very efficient way for small businesses to save huge dollars is by subscribing to a small voip phone system, also referred to as voice over internet protocol services. It is a method for making telephone calls by using the Internet. The technology became available around 1990 but with the recent advancements it has become a strong replacement for the traditional land line service.

One of the reasons that Internet VoIP is so popular is because it is very inexpensive as well as dependable. All of the equipment such as bluetooth voip headset, voip phone adapter, and headaches are hosted by the provider so all the business needs to worry about is the Internet connection and a telephone. In some cases you’ll be able to use the same telephones that you used for your land-line while others a special Voip broadband phone will be the best solution. The call quality is so good that rarely would anyone know that you were not using a land line. The provider keeps all the updates and relative maintenance up to date so having equipment or a service that becomes obsolete is not a concern.

The cost of Internet VoIP is so inexpensive because the calls are able to transmit over the Internet in place of a local telephone company’s system. By bypassing the local telephone company there is no fees that have to be paid to them. The process of dialing out and receiving calls is the same. You will need a high speed Internet connection and small voip phone system that is on at all times with a bandwidth large enough for the transmissions to always be clear.

To get started with Internet VoIP you’ll need to choose a voice over internet protocol providers and subscribe to the voip phone plans that best fits your business needs. With all the Internet VoIP options and providers now in the market place, it can be confusing for businesses to know what they need and the best provider for them.

AVAD Technologies, specialists is small business Hosted VoIP, has launched aggressive new pricing on its Hosted VoIP Phone Service. If you are thinking about switching your business to VoIP or just have some questions, please feel free to call (800) 733-4136

Click for Business voip telephone and Hosted pbx providers

As a network computer technician I’ve come to the choice that I don’t think my small business clients that employ between 2-10 people should even bother with installing what we might consider a regular server nowadays. It is overkill, expensive and a major source of problems if something goes wrong. So what do I recommend instead? I would recommend a file server with local and offline backup. What made me come to this decision? A number of real world issues, actually.

Too many computer consultants come from an environment where they were taught and schooled on how to maintain servers. To me this is the old way of doing things. Unless you are hosting your email in-house there isn’t the need for the old server.

Think about this…what services do you really want to provide that are mission critical for your clients? For my clients the most important need is a way to create and access files that are backed up on a regular basis. I have seen too many small businesses shut down for days on end because they put all of their trust in a old server and a tape backup system. Why are these servers and tapes such a problem?

Think about this for a second. If a piece of hardware fails in your server, chance are that you won’t be able to replace that broken or failing part with something you can buy locally. Often times you have to call the server manufacturer and wait patiently for them to ship you a replacement part, all the while your business is at a stand still.

And tapes for backing up data? Unless you have an enormous amount of data, backing up to multiple hard drives is faster. And these hard drives will be able to access that data in other computer while you get your server fixed.

Another solution I recommend is using a service such as Dropbox to backup files. I don’t completely rely on Dropbox, though. I prefer to have a physical backup of the client’s data at the site of their business and then use Dropbox as a way to get a backup off-site. If anything catastrophic were to happen to the small business, such as a fire of a flood, it is easier to get a computer up and running, re-attach it to Dropbox and the data is back and ready to be used.

The mobile marketing and advertising news-wires are abuzz and more and more companies are jumping into the game on a daily basis. Powerhouses like Google and Apple are building their arsenal for the mobile advertising phenomenon that is all the talk right now.

Companies large and small are jockeying for position within their target markets and local niches in an effort to get a first mover advantage in the inevitable transformation to the Mobile computing tsunami that is already taking shape.

What this means to the Small Business owner and in-house marketers is that the mobile marketplace has gained momentum. A solid mobile strategy can provide a huge advantage and be your secret weapon for success among a targeted niche audience or in a localized small to medium size metropolitan area.

You see, we understand that you don’t have the time to keep you ear to the ground on all of this Mobile mayhem, because you are busy with your two hands on the wheel with your companies. What we also know is that you rely on other small businesses to provide you with the knowledge and the tools to make sure that you are keeping you marketing and advertising efforts relevant and effective. In the ever evolving multimedia e-marketplace, you need solutions and you either need them to be service based and low cost, or you need them to be extremely easy to understand and integrate on a do it yourself basis.

After all, one of the coolest things about being a small business owner is the adventure of wearing a variety of hats and learning the latest and greatest techniques to stay ahead of the competition. Today, Mobile Marketing might be one of the most effective and efficient means to push your business out ahead of the pack. Whether you are a retail shop, professional service, restaurant, hotel, craftsman or independent artist, you can engage your customers like never before.

The tools, knowledge and abilities to put this into motion for your specific marketplace are right at your fingertips. Although this might seem like a complicated technological maze, you’ll be pleased to find that many other small companies within the Mobile Marketing industry have brought forth some interesting and easy to understand guidelines and tools that you can utilize today in efforts to launching your company into the Mobile arena.

Marketing is the keyword which makes businesses run, no matter what their running capital is. From huge energy companies to companies who sell sports goods, you always require a good marketing tool or a help to get your job done. Small business marketing is a tricky area and if the marketing is not proper, it can even kill your business.

This is where Ad trackers come to bail out and rescue small businesses. Advertising a small business with an Ad tracker helps you monitor your online advertising expenditure against your actual earnings and revenues from the website, in real time. This way you can know which ads produce results for you and which do not and hence choose ads accordingly.

This will undoubtedly help you market your small business in a better way by attracting the right traffic to your website. Let us see the other attractive ways by which you can market your small business for FREE.

Online free video sharing sites like YouTube.

Create a Jingle!

Use the jingle as your caller tune!

Ad tracking = Affiliate Marketing

Undoubtedly, a lot of money can be made from affiliate marketing, more precisely Ad tracking. People are making money and the very fact that they are making money by launching not-so-useful sites must wake you up and get running to get affiliate marketing tools to your benefit.

The catch lies in how smartly you choose your ads. For example, the most incentive oriented affiliate product might not bring in good revenues! It depends on the relevance of the product with your small business and also how the ad is being displayed on the site. It is not hard to imagine that flashy sites with some relevance will get clicked on first than those ad links which are in words only.

If you can use Ad trackers, you will benefit from the software and get more worth and return for your vested business. This can be found from a service provider with some monthly fees or can be purchased with a 2-3 year license or as the product comes with. The best part is that they keep their algorithms updated by synchronizing with their main server and thereby giving you the best results. This is handy tool to organize your small business especially if youre hosting advertisements for multiple affiliate products.

There are other ways to run a business than to just run it on pure gut feeling or intuitions. You may get lucky once, twice or even thrice, but will not be able to sustain a long run. Planning is therefore of prime importance and small business marketing with advertisement trackers can help you achieve the optimum.