Great Time to Get New Business From Old Clients and Gain Referrals

36Know someone who just bought a new home or is about to? Afraid to buy a housewarming gift they won’t like? Maybe you’re an insurance agent, a financial planner, a travel agent or a salesperson for home theater equipment or game rooms, perhaps you’re a landscaper. No matter what your line of work is, business gifts for your clients will make you stand out from your competition. Clients will see you as someone that cares about their needs not just as a salesperson or marketer. They will trust you and turn to you again in the future for more business deals and potentially supply you with referrals. There are many gifts to choose from that can save you search time, money and that will please your clients, not end up in the trash can.

So what are some business gifts that your clients will like and save you the agony of searching for?

Why not delicious desserts? Tasty desserts are sure to please anyone. Who doesn’t like desserts? Next to no one, that’s who. However, be a little creative with your desserts in order to make them stand out more. You want them to think “Wow, he/she went the extra mile, to not only find a gift for me, but found me a treat that I will want to eat and something I would not just pick up at the store.” And rest assured if they see you pay attention to small details with gifts then they will assume you always put forth the same effort in your work. This will help comfort them when asking for referrals. In other words, you are creating a reputation for competence and thoroughness.

You can consider two approaches to your gifts: homemade treats, which add a more personalized touch from you directly or the easier approach of ordering the gifts online for delivery. If you make the desserts yourself you will earn more “points” with your clients since it takes more time and effort, although less time and pain than brainstorming for a new gift idea and shopping for it. Not to mention this will be more economical. Only choose the homemade option if you already have the supplies. You could pick up the ingredients during a routine shopping trip. Many desserts are easy to make and there are many candy recipes to choose from that will please your clients’ palates from homemade sugar cookies shaped like houses and chocolate-covered rice crispy treats shaped like front doors to yummy Oreo cookie cake and cherry cheesecake. If you have several clients to make gifts for, then you should make cookies or rice crispy treats because you can yield several gifts from one batch.

There are a number of advantages to buying the dessert gifts online, however. The gifts will be packaged in a presentable fashion either in gift tins or unique boxes, your clients will be surprised since they are delivered right to their door and you could send several to many different clients at the same time (not just for housewarming occasions) all with a just few clicks with your mouse. Ordering the gifts through a website will also provide you with a “gift headquarters” in which to visit every time you desire to send a gift since your orders are recorded as well as your client list. Cookies again are great gifts that can also be packaged in gift baskets with other treats. Some unique housewarming dessert gifts to consider would be cookie cakes. You can have messages placed on top such as “Welcome home John and Lisa” or “Enjoy your new home”.

A “Dessert/Cookies of the Month Club” is a tremendous idea too for your best clients who have the most potential for future business transactions or referrals. They cost more so that is why you want be selective on who you purchase them for. Every month of the year or every 3 months you could have a different dessert or batch of cookies sent to them which will remind them you exist throughout the year. This would set the groundwork to be able to call them for a long time in order to ask them about their enjoyment of their house and inquire about any problems or potential special occasions that may soon occur. Then you could set up an appointment in which to offer a solution which will solve a problem currently have. Don’t assume they will seek help because often times they don’t. Don’t forget new problems arise throughout the year so I would highly recommend a Dessert of the Month Club.

Any business person can benefit from giving housewarming gifts to clients. Who would expect to receive a gift from their insurance agent? No one, right? This is a great opportunity to establish your credibility, to get new business and gain referrals for future business. Most business professionals look for clients who fit the profile of families with kids and homeowners. Now here’s your excuse to talk with them again. By just paying attention to them you will earn credibility “points” with them instantly. Set up an appointment with them for life insurance, college-savings plans, a design for a backyard playground, pool table, beautiful landscaping, etc. New homeowners need a long list of new products and services and more than anything- advice. Do you want to be one of their advisers?

And a current relationship with new homeowners is not a requirement to send them a gift. You can establish a new relationship.

So who do you know that just bought a home or is about to? You’d better start asking around. Seek out your current clients of centers of influence. The purchase of a new home is an ideal situation in which to expand your client list or get new business from old clients. It will be easier to do business with them later if you speak with them before they move into the house.

4 Steps on How to Start Your Candle Business at Home

35Is recession slowly keeping up with your potential debts or losses of income? Are you a stay at home mother and wife? Surely, finding yourself in any of these situations is frustrating at times, which is why you might want to test your skills and earn additional income.

Putting up a candle business at home is one great way to make good use of your time. You are not only starting a trend, but you are also creating what could have been an opportunity of a lifetime. Besides, how many have tried and become great entrepreneurs by simply making their items at home and selling them afterward.

In starting your own candle business at home, you have to make sure that you are up for every responsibility and task. Remember, this may start as a hobby but once you engaged in actual production and marketing of products, the playing field becomes noticeably hard. Considerations with regards to time are also required, since you have to practice and learn how to make your scented candles and products.

Here are the steps in establishing your candle business at home.

1. Evaluate your options. Do you want to produce your own candles or start selling other people’s items? Choosing the former may lead to eventual costs while the latter gives you the chance to source out your candles and sell them on behalf of someone else’s investment or cost.

2. Do extensive research. A candle business at home is not comparable to buying or selling cupcakes or pies. Remember that you are trying to sell a product by simply producing them or selling other’s items for a start. Try to expand your knowledge regarding potential expenses. Determine any relative costs or fees that come along with each candle batch. From there, you can define whether you have the capacity to start and manage a personal business or not.

For example, if you decide to make your own candles, you have to be specific with designs and candle types. Do you prefer rolled beeswax candles or tea lights? How about gel candles or birthday candles as products?

3. Equip yourself with the right details. Try to see existing prices or competitor’s rates. Determine the best price for your candles and slowly, you can anticipate probable profits. Be reminded that putting up a candle business at home also speaks of profit and loss margins. Be wise and always pay attention to important trends and price movements.

4. Try to effectively market your products. Whether you are selling your own candles or someone else’s products, it is important to find the right place in selling them. Visibility is an effective tool in marketing and one way of doing this is through selling items online. On the other hand, if you prefer a small candle business at home, then you can always start with friends, relatives and co-workers as potential market or possible sources of income.

Some Useful Tips On How To Start A Small Catering Business

34Since a lot of people love to eat, many entrepreneurs view this is an opportunity for them start a business that can be quite profitable. However, setting up and opening a restaurant or food truck can be an expensive and time-consuming venture. If your heart is into succeeding in the food industry but don’t want to go through the hustle and bustle of opening a restaurant or food truck, starting a catering business may be your best option.

The good thing about opening a small catering business is that you can operate one right in the comfort of your home. This means you won’t have to spend more money on buying certain cooking or baking equipment and wares since you already have the basic items or even everything you may need for this venture.

To make sure that you are on the path to starting a small catering business the right way and to ensure its success, there are certain useful tips you can follow. These tips include the following:

Make sure you meet the local health and safety codes for home-based catering. Although you are not opening a restaurant, you still need to apply for and get a business permit or operating license. Learn about the process of getting one and the different health and safety codes that you will have to meet or pass as well.

Create a list of all the equipment and wares you need and make sure you have them. The equipment, wares, and supplies you will need for your kitchen will depend on your type of operation. If you plan on cooking your food at the venue’s kitchen for a particular event, you will only need the most basic commercial prep supplies in your home. The same principle will also work if you will be cooking from a mobile kitchen or creating a temporary kitchen at the event sites. In such instances, you will need mobile coolers or refrigeration units, basic kitchen supplies, steam table pans, kitchen work tables, disposable catering supplies and food carriers. You will have to invest in cooking equipment like a fryer, convection oven, and range (if you don’t have them yet) if you will not be using a temporary or mobile kitchen for the events you are catering. Since you are just starting, you can rent other items such as chafing dishes, catering display items, and table skirts. Once your business is going well, you can consider buying these items to save money in the long run by reducing your rental costs.

Invest in catering software. Using the right software for catering can help you a lot in keeping track of and managing your business. Catering software can help you quickly and effectively calculate your costs. It will help you become more organized with all the tasks and information that you need to manage since this will provide you a platform where you can document contacts, data, budgets, team schedules, activities, etc. Finally, with this software, you can come up with and present your clients with professional and impressive proposals.

Finally, work on getting clients for your catering business. Using catering software can already help you out in getting clients. Aside from this, come up with a solid marketing strategy, capitalize on your low profile (ie. sell your business as providing “the best homemade comfort food”) and offer tastings so that you can win some clients.

Are You Wasting Time and Money Printing Business Cards?

33If you use business cards, you’ve probably thought about printing your own. After all, you own an inkjet printer, a computer, and some graphics software. How hard could it be to save a few bucks?

To check out how well this works in practice, my employees and I conducted a small experiment. We created 3 batches of business cards, using 3 different techniques.

The first technique was fairly straightforward: We took the business card down to our neighborhood print shop, and asked them to print up some more. We brought a blown up copy of our logo, which served as “camera ready artwork.” The copy shop took care of the typesetting, proofreading, printing, etc. It was fairly painless, although it did involve physically getting to the print shop. Next time we’ll email them a TIF file. We had planned on getting 500 cards, but the price for 1,000 was only a little higher, so we went with the larger quantity. The cards took 5 business days, apparently because they were not printed on-site, but rather outsourced to a wholesale printer.

The second technique may sound unorthodox, but it worked. We used a custom made rubber stamp to create the cards. This was fun, though it took a while. We also wrecked a few cards by stamping carelessly.

Finally, we created some cards on our inkjet printer, an Epson Stylus C84. There’s special software available for placing the images 10-up on the page, but we opted to use Adobe PageMaker, since that’s what we’re familiar with. We printed the cards on Avery #8871 Clean Edge Business Card paper.

All three methods have their proponents, and none of the methods was clearly the best choice for everyone. The rubber stamped cards were definitely funky looking. If you work at a bank, don’t even think about it. On the other hand, if you just need a few dozen cards for your part time cookie baking business, rubber stamped cards might be just what you need to convey the “home made” impression. Art stamp enthusiasts often have fun with multiple ink colors. The more ink pads you have, the more variety your cards can have. The cost of rubber stamped cards was 12.4 cents each. Unfortunately, our 8 year-old assistant got bored, so we aborted the experiment after an hour and a half, and about 150 cards.

The inkjet printed cards were a little harder to evaluate. The image was clear and sharp, and we chose to use the printer’s abilities to mix several colors and a blend on the page. However, the designing is not quite as trivial as it sounds. You can easily end up designing a card that’s too busy. Also, our first few designs had type that went too close to the edge. If you’re not a professional designer, count on printing out some experiments to look at before you hit the “Print” button for 200 cards.

No matter how careful you are, however, you still end up with cards that look like they were printed on an inkjet printer. The “clean” edges were still perceptibly perforated, and the ink ran a little when it got damp. An informal poll of small business owners in New England showed that inkjet printed cards still convey a “less serious” impression. Of course, this could be fine for many businesses, but it deserves some consideration. All together, we spent about 3 hours designing and printing 200 cards. We saved the design, so next time it could be quicker.

We expected the inkjet printed cards to be much cheaper than the professionally printed ones. That was before we tallied the cost of ink cartridges and paper. The paper was $16.88 online, plus $7.95 shipping, for 200 cards. That works out to 12.4 cents per card. If you include a 10% waste factor, the final paper cost is 13.66 cents per card. Then we calculated the ink cost. Overall, we averaged 42 cents per page, or 4.2 cents per card. (Each page had room for 10 cards.) Again, a waste factor of 10% meant a final ink cost of 4.62 cents per card. Total cost for ink and paper was 18.28 cents per card. An excellent price if you only need a few dozen, but for larger quantities, we could do better.

The professionally printed cards were simple 2 color (black and dark blue inks) raised printing on an off-white card stock. The raised printing and lack of perforations won the thumbs up from the New England small business owners. One middle aged woman observed that “they look like a real business printed them.” The price of professionally printed business cards varied quite a bit when we called around, so it may pay you to do a little shopping. Remember that you’ll likely use the same printer again in the future, if only for the convenience. Most print shops keep your data on file for quick reordering.

The print shop we chose charged us $43.00 for 1,000 cards, which works out to 4.3 cents per card, or about a 76% discount from the inkjet printed cards. Had we chosen to order only 500 cards, the price would have been $38.00, or 7.6 cents per card. That’s still a savings of 58.4%. More importantly, we felt we had a good looking card. While not exciting, it was professional enough to hand out anywhere.

A few other points to consider: The price we paid at the print shop was for a fairly simple job. We didn’t choose, for example, to have solid ink coverage extending all the way to the edge (a “bleed”.) Nor did we have a custom color mixed up for us. These charges can add up, so if your design isn’t set in stone just yet, you might want to check with the print shop about their policies. Also, we chose to do our inkjet printing on specially made inkjet paper. You can save money by choosing a cheaper paper, but we haven’t had good results with any we’ve found so far.

Our verdict: Go with the method that’s right for you! For the homemade cookie business, get a rubber stamp. If you only need a few business cards, and aren’t overly concerned with appearances, go with the inkjet method. However, for most people in business, the professionally printed business card wins on convenience, cost, and professional image.

SWOT Analysis on Organic Pesticide Products

32When you are looking to start your own business of organic pesticide and insecticide products, you need to make a SWOT analysis before you get into it. Now “SWOT”, comprising of (S, W, O, T), is an anagram for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Now let me begin with Strengths concern to organic pesticide and insecticide products.

Here are the explanations:

Strengths:

• It’s eco-friendly.
• Not harmful for user.
• Healthier for plants and crops
• More profitable for business
• Helps to stand you out of the crowd.

Weaknesses:

Here weakness totally depends on you. They might be like that:
• Poor technical expertise in pesticides
• Limited capital
• Poor book keeping
• Not getting pesticide certification
• Pesticide labelling
• The cost of pesticide testing

Opportunities:

• It has a growing market-place
• As per as environment is concerned, organic pesticide and insecticides are eco-friendly.

Threats:

Buffer competition in the marketplace
Threats from other competitive pesticide brands and products like: Non-organic pesticide products, homemade pesticide products, agro-chemical pesticide products etc.

But there are some note-worthy factors you need to be confirmed about. Select a suitable place for your business location where there is an adequate demand for organic pesticide and insecticide products. Your business location should be in an agricultural belt. Know about your competitive suppliers. Make sure if there is any other pesticide and insecticide product outlets available to your close. Collect required information of the products to be sold to your customers.

Inform them or if possible train them how to use them and the quantity required for their crops. Let your customer know about the time of using them. If any problem arises try to solve it instantly. Inform the farmer about the cautions, pros and cons of these pesticides and insecticides. Make them aware of safe and suitable places to preserve these pesticides and right doings to keep its vitality. Side by side by make them familiar with the environmental issues related to these products. Tell them about the possible ways to keep environment pollution-free during and after their using. Inform them about the harmful issues which might act upon users’ health and prevention against these malign effects.

After getting confirmation on the above mentioned points, you can start-off your organic pesticides and insecticides business. These will surely help you not only to start but to run your business smoothly. You will soon get your far-fetched success on it. So don’t worry follow the guidelines and make your identity in the market-place.