Get Your Business On the Web

It’s more important than ever to have an online presence for your at-home business. Whether it’s a dedicated website or an store in Etsy.com, having your business available on the Internet is essential given today’s tech-savvy consumer.

A recent article in the Commercial Appeal (Tenn.) found that “online sales will reach $248.7 billion in the next five years, accounting for 8 percent of total U.S. retail sales by 2014.” However, the article also pointed out that half of small businesses did not have a website or other online presence.

Using the Internet to talk about your business via a website, online store (like Etsy or eBay), or social media (Facebook) can build your brand and increase your outreach to clients both near and far. Don’t neglect this vital aspect of your at-home business.

Until next time,

Sarah

Fall in Love With Social Media

Think you don’t have time for Facebook and Twitter? You should make the time because building your brand (i.e., business) via the social web can bring huge dividends in the long run, according to a recent blog on Small Business Trends called “Why The Social Web Is Like Falling in Love.”

The author recommends viewing brand-building as a long-term relationship. Put the effort in and receive the fruits of your labor later. See the value of social media and embrace that as part of your marketing plan.

I plan on tackling how to use social media as a marketing tool in an upcoming issue of At Home News. Sign up for this free monthly e-newsletter by clicking on the newsletter tab.

Until next time,

Sarah

Starting Startups

A new study looks at how startup formations follow consistent patterns, the Kansas City Business Journal reports.

“This study reveals an important structural context in which firm formation and job creation occur that helps explain why new and young companies dominate net job creation,” said Robert Litan, Kauffman’s vice president of research and policy. “We need to understand the structural features of entrepreneurial capitalism — the why of firm formation and job creation — so we can take steps that support and encourage those features and not unknowingly undermine them.”

Of interest to at-home businesses because the easier it is for new companies to form, the better the survival rate could become. For now, “formation and survival rates for new companies end up being fairly consistent through time, boosting the number of U.S. companies each year. Those 5 years old or younger make up the largest chunk each year, adding the most net new jobs,” the newspaper reported.

Self Employment Numbers Drop

The recession is hitting the self-employed hard, new numbers from the Department of Labor reveal, Bloomberg reports. Last month, 8.68 million people worked for themselves, the fewest since January eight years ago. Those numbers fell a whopping 13 percent from December 2006 numbers of 9.98 million.

Some experts point to a lack of credit as one reason small businesses are failing. Scott Shane, a professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said that “the failure rate of self-employment picked up a lot during the recession. … I think the indications are not good at all.”

“This is not a good environment for starting a business,” said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse. “Look at the headwinds the household sector faces. These are headwinds that are going to be in place for some time.”

Finding the Money

Need some tips on how to fund your at-home business? Check out the July issue of At Home News, which covers places to get money for your business. A reader recently wrote me this about At Home News: “Just wanted to let you know that your newsletter articles are helpful.”

Contact me for the July issue and sign up today by clicking on the newsletter tab for the free, monthly At Home News.

Until next time,

Sarah

Keeping Your Business Skills Sharp

As professionals, albiet those with an office down the hall from our bedrooms, we all need to stay in tip-top shape when it comes to our business skills. A recent article in the Sun Journal gives some good tips on how to “Sharpen Your Business Skills“.

Check out online courses in your field. These often cost little or no money and can provide valuable insights.

Investigate the “tools” section of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Web site for articles and other information on running a business.

Look at your local college or university’s courses to see if any would enhance your business. Often you can audit a course without enrolling as a student.

Finally, SCORE provides numerous resources for the small-business person that can help you succeed.

Until next time,

Sarah