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One of my closest friends is a freelance graphic artist. She specializes in designing book covers, and has designed the covers of several publications. But right now, she is branching out to web design given the myriad opportunities of the Web.Seeing her navigate the difficulties of self employment gave me some perspective that I am able to share with a subscriber who asked how she can find clients for a graphic design startup. Sheryl used our Consult Your Guides free service to post her question on how she can market and promote her new graphic design business in Atlanta.Read the tips I gave
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on how to market a graphic design business and let me know any other strategies that have worked for others

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Starting a business is tough. More so when things are heading south and not enough income is coming in that you have to dip into your personal resources to get by.The worst part, of course, is when your personal resources are almost depleted and you see nothing in the horizon that could change the situation. And you've got a family to support, bills to pay, and the creditors are already starting to call! Qué barbaridad!Before you end up in this situation, you need to take a good hard look at what is wrong with your business. Look at your operations, and write down the reasons why you are not
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getting the revenues you need.At this point, don't be afraid to ask for help. Financial help of course is always welcome -- and needed. But you may want to find assistance in helping you understand what is going wrong with the business, and advice you on strategies you can use to turn it around. This is when a mentor comes in.A knowledgeable mentor -- someone who has been in business and experienced ups and downs -- can give you an objective assessment of what ails your business. Sometimes it is hard for you to see clearly the complete picture, and need a fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to see the problems -- and more importantly, recommend how you can improve your business situation:Is there really no market for your product/service?Is there a way to restructure your debt? What are the problems in your cashflow?What are the loopholes in your marketing strategy and what strategies are not giving you the results you need?Is there something you can improve with regards to your price points?How can you improve your distribution?What are the bottlenecks in your product mix?What expense items can you cut without further jeopardizing your revenue position?These are but some of the questions that you need to ask to help you understand the causes of your business' poor performance.Go to your local SBDC Small Business Development Center http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html and ask for a free consultation. They can give you mentors or consultants who can guide you. Some SBDCs will require you to attend a free seminar first, while others will just ask you to send an email detailing the type of help you need before the SBDC can schedule you for a free consultation with one of their consultants.Another way is to find another business owner you trust, and who is willing to spend the time with you to analyze your business. If you are part of a local business organization such as the Chamber of Commerce, there might be someone you can talk to who can help you understand the problem and give you some suggestions.But more importantly, you need to accept first and foremost that something is wrong with the business (I know some who stubbornly cling to their systems and processes -- even when things are going so bad). Only by accepting that you need to change something can the positive change really come.

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If you have a product you want manufactured, going overseas may allow you to save on costs. However, the main question is: how do you find international manufacturers?One of the most popular destinations for those looking for international manufacturers and suppliers from China is Alibaba.com. The site can connect you to any Chinese manufacturer for whatever products you want to produce. Be careful though with "phantom" suppliers who will simply take your money and run without sending you the goods you ordered (and there are plenty of these horror stories).To protect yourself against these sca
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mmers, look for suppliers and manufacturers that participate in Alibaba's TrustPass program . Chinese suppliers and manufacturers pay to be part of this program, where they are verified by a third party service to give buyers like you the confidence to deal with the company.Alibaba also has a Gold Supplier program . This is again another paid program where suppliers and manufacturers need to be verified, and Gold Suppliers are given TrustPass accreditation as well.Still, entrusting the manufacturing of your product to a company half the world away without ever meeting takes a lot of faith in the inate goodness of man. So savvy inventors and businesses prefer finding manufacturers by attending international trade shows and actually talking to the representatives of the company.If you are looking for international sourcing trade shows, check out GlobalSources.com which offers a good list of upcoming international trade shows and sourcing fairs around the globe. You can also check out their Verified Suppliers for various product categories. Other trade show listings include TSNN.com.Another way is to use a sourcing agent. While hiring a sourcing agent makes it more expensive compared to dealing directly with the manufacturer, the agent can help you with the whole process. They will find the right manufacturers for you, and some can even help you with advice on how to set-up letters of credit, shipping concerns such as customs, duties, and brokerage.Do a search on the Web for sourcing agents for your products. Or call your local Small Business Development Center for recommendations. Your state' Department of Commerce can also help you and may have some recommendations for you. Check out the Trade Information Center as well.

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Why did you become an entrepreneur? Or if you are just planning to become one, why be an entrepreneur? Is it because:You love the idea of succeeding based on your own terms?You love the game and challenge of entrepreneurship?You want to become rich?You want to become financially secure?You know you can change the world with your business?You like to be financially secure?You enjoy giving back to the community?You feel you can do and gain so much more on your own outside the confines of employment?Or is it because you have no other option at this point but try to make it on your own?Whatever re
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asons you have for becoming an entrepreneur, I'd love to hear it!

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Scott Fox in his new book "Internet Riches: The Simple Money-Making Secrets of Online Millionaires" gave one of the best (yet succinct) explanations on how to turn your blog into a profitable business:By targeting a market of desirable consumers with timely and concise information that is hard to find elsewhere, it's possible to build a blog publishing business with no employees and minimal overhead, using ost effective marketing and dministrative software services and the Internet to freely distribute your commentaryThe secret has always been simple: great content that offers value to its cus
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tomers.

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The mortgage broker will compare the entire market to find you the perfect mortgage.
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Angel investors are an important source of capital, whether you need startup capital or second stage financing for more established businesses. High net worth individuals, angel investors typically invest in high growth fields.Compared to a venture capitalist, an angel investor generally want less control of your company and a even a slower return on investment. They have a more patient exit strategy and often driven by factors other than the bottom line (e.g. foster economic growth in the community). But don't think though that they are some kind of a saint who is willing to give away money t
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o see you succeed. They'll give money because they want to make more money -- from you!So what do these angel investors look for in a business? Here are some qualities angel investors are looking for when making a decision whether to invest or not in a particular business:High growth company: your business is likely to grow by 30-40% annuallyRevenue increases: evidence that your business can deliver continued growth over time, to provide a return on investment. Strong leadership and managementHas an exit strategy: your company is likely to be bought or soldReady to go to market: you have a product prototype that you can show to the angel investor (not just a product in your head), even initial partnerships and dealsAs to where to find angel investors, read the article Find an Angel Investor for Your Small Business

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