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Whether you run a lawncare or tutoring or cleaning business, here are some ideas on how to get customers for your service business:1. Many service businesses advertise in local ad magazines and coupon services such as ValPak. Study your competitors' ads particularly their offers and come-ons for first time customers. Offer free services that would help you land their account such as free lawn analysis for lawncare businesses or free consultation for an interior design business. The key is to entice the customers to try your service for the first time.2. Place ads in your local newspaper. Under
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stand the cycle of your business. For a landscaping business, it is best to advertise in late February to mid-March as households get ready for the spring. For a tutorial business, it is best to advertise at the tail end of summer when parents are starting to think of school. Make sure that you write effective ads that speak directly to your client.3. Use referral marketing. Many service businesses thrive on referrals, so make sure that you talk to your existing customers and ask them if there's anyone that may benefit your service. Your existing clients can be your biggest help in spreading the word about your business. However, give them a little encouragement and make the act of referring your services to others worthwhile for them. Consider offering your existing customers a discount off their monthly service fee for every account that they refer to you.4. Send or drop off well-written postcards, flyers or doorknob hanger outlining your services to homes in your target area. Give a bonus or promotional offer to prospective clients for responding to your flyer, such as 15% discount for your first lawn mowing or 10% discount for trying your cleaning service.5. Do direct mail. In addition of going door to door handing out your promotional materials, you can use direct marketing to reach your target audience. Direct marketing is a very effective way of reaching potential customers for your lawncare business. You can either create brochures that provide details about your company or a postcard that highlights what your business is all about.6. Network with your competitors in your area. Yes they are your competitors, but sometimes they will have requests for their services that they can no longer do - and they may instead give those accounts to you.7. Put on a professional image. Your appearance is important! As much as possible, present yourself in a clean and tidy manner, and depending on your business, look as professional as you can when talking to your potential clients.8. Maximize the advertising opportunity of your vehicle. Your truck or car is one of your most effective -- and cheapest -- advertising tool you can ever have. It's your walking billboard. Be careful though if you live in an area with strict homeowner's association that disallows business vehicles by the residents parked in the neighborhood.9. Use the Web to market your business. A website is one of the most important marketing tools you can have. Your site will serve as your online brochure, allowing you to sell your services 24x7. But unlike a brochure, you can easily change or update information contained in your website. Your website can also give your customers 24-hour access to you via email.10. Use the Web to advertise your business. With or without a website, use the Web to get the word out about your business. You can advertise in classified ad sites such as Craigslist, Kijiji.com or Google Base. Ensure that your business is listed in Online Yellow pages such as Whitepages.com and YellowPages.com. If there are directories or websites about local businesses, make sure that your site is listed in there.

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Social networking sites are all the rage today. According to web measurement firm Hitwise , MySpace.com alone received 72.73 percent of the market share of U.S. visits in May 2008 among a custom category of 58 of the leading social networking websites commands 73.82% of all social networking traffic (as of May 2008).With the enormous traffic these social networking sites receive, there is a huge opportunity for other online businesses to develop business models that revolve around these massive social networking sites.One entrepreneur who saw this opportunity is Ashley Qualls. Ashley founded W
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hateverLife.com in 2004 at the age of 14 when friends and others clamored for custom MySpace layouts. WhateverLife.com was created to showcase the graphics, pictures, backgrounds, layouts, and skins she has developed for MySpace, which are all free for the taking.Ashley does not create the best graphics in the world – but she creates the graphics that speaks to her target audience. As a teenager herself, her success stems from her unique understanding of her core audience – young teenage girls.And boy, what a large audience this is. FastCompany magazine reports that her site gets 7 million individuals and 60 million page views a month. Given the massive amount of traffic, WhateverLife.com reportedly earns more than $70K a month from advertising, such as popups and Adsense ads.Not bad for a kid who simply wanted to create cool graphics for her MySpace page.

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I was talking to a client today of his plans to start a new website. His site concept is complete, and he is now in the process of creating the content. But he is stumped with a critical element: what domain to give his new website.Finding the right name for your website can be a difficult process. It is often hard to think of snappy domain names or domain names that perfectly capture the essence of your business – that are still available. It seems that all the good ones have been taken, or under the belt of one of these domainers with thousands of domains in their portfolio.Some business o
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wners, and even ordinary users who want to have a Web presence, struggle to think of what domains to use for their websites. The process of naming the site can be long and hard, whatever approach you use – whether to combine key concepts of your site or use keywords describing your site.This is a niche that Dmitry Davydov successfully ventured with PickyDomains.com http://www.pickydomains.com/. Making brainstorming for new domains easier, clients who want a domain name deposit $50 and writes specifications about the desired domain. PickyDomain.com’s team of domain name contributors will come up with a list of names. If the client doesn’t like the suggestions, the client gets the 50 bucks back. Seemingly risk free!The site can also be a revenue source for those who love to come up with domain names. You can apply to be a domain name contributor for PickyDomains.com. If your domain name is selected, you get half of the fee or $25 paid to your Paypal account. [However, be aware of the risks -- clients can say they do not like your domain, yet go out and register it for themselves!]

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If you love shopping, has discriminating taste and loves dealing with people, you may consider starting a personal shopping business. As a personal shopper, you will make purchases for other people or provide advice while the client shop.The personal shopping service has grown through the years mainly because people simply don't have time to shop for themselves anymore. There are those who don't like the hassle of going to the mall. Others may have a list of things to buy but don't have the time to squeeze in a trip to the shopping center or even the supermarket. There are also those who simp
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ly can't decide what top should go with a great pair of pants. And, of course, there are some who just don't like to shop, and those who don't even want to think of what presents to buy.A personal shopper is not limited to shopping for clothes and fashion accessories. Many personal shoppers shop for home furnishings, as well as Christmas presents (or other holiday and special occasion) presents. Others are hired to buy the perfect gifts for companies to give to their important clients.One good thing with a personal shopping business is that you can start immediately. No special experience or education required. So how do you get started as a personal shopper?Get experience by working as a personal shopper for big department stores, boutiques, small designer houses, and then go freelanceBefriend stylists -- they can be a good source of referralsNetwork with busy executives to buy gifts for their employees or family Prepare gift bags for special events such as awards shows and conferences to showcase your discriminating choicesFind elderly people who may need help in going around stores for them to buy gifts and other personal needs.To earn money from this business, there are two common ways to charge your clients. One is through an hourly rate, especially if you are involved with a lot of consultation with the clients. The other way is to charge a certain percentage of the items purchased.

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I came across the book by Louis Barajas entitled "Small Business Big Life," which takes a more philosophical and psychological approach to teaching how to start a business that I find interesting.The book doesn't discuss how to select the right business, or how to patent an idea or how to write a business plan. Rather, it delves into your reasons for starting a business -- and that is to have a fuller life. He tries to put the process of starting a business into perspective. As the author writes at the start of the book:"The true purpose of a business should be to give you not just more money
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but more life."To succeed in your entrepreneurial venture, the author emphasizes the need for planning, designing and calculating -- just like building a house. And like a house, it needs to have a strong foundation or what he calls the "four cornerstones of personal greatness": truth, responsibility, awareness and courage.The core of the book is the author's Five Steps to Build a Small Business, Big Life":Step 1: Your Life Blueprint - consider the emotional ROI for starting a business. You may have the most successful business, but true success does not mean that you hate what you're doing, your business goes against your core values, and it takes you away from what's really important in your life.Step 2: Your Vision - The author describes this step as: "Your business should be a way for you to better express your full potential as a human being, a member of a family, and a contributor to the world." Your business should utilize your unique abilities and gifts to the fullest, and doing so will allow you to create a compelling vision for your business.Step 3: Your Business Blueprint - More than a business plan, a business blueprint is "an accurate description of exactly what is required to run your business on a day-to-day basis." It is basically ensuring that all functions of your business are planned and executed well. The business blueprint shows you what to do.Step 4: Your Business Systems - Business systems are systems that help make your business blueprint automatic. It helps you come up with ways that allow you to do all functions of your business with less effort. Systems can include your process for thinking and strategizing about your business, ensuring compliance with rules and regulations, as well as internal operations systems from accounting to technology to marketing.Step 5: Your Team - Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or employ several people, your team includes everyone that you interact with in your business. These include your customers, suppliers, employees (if any), and outside professionals such as bankers, lawyers, and so on.

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If you want to know how to rank well in Yahoo, read this very insightful interview with Priyank Garg, director of product management for Yahoo! Search Technology (YST).Here are some tips from the interview:The quality of the experience of the users is the most important consideration.Quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to links. Anchor texts are importantGiven the concern about buying links, Yahoo apparently does not automatically discount paid links if their algorithm shows that those links add to the user experience. Use Yahoo Site Explorer to gain some insights on the
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workings of Yahoo searchRead the complete interview

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Many small and home-based entrepreneurs start out small, oftentimes working alone in their businesses. Eventually, their businesses begin to expand that hiring employees become imperative.Then they find that steering their businesses to success is different from managing other people. Managing employees is an entirely different ballgame, and some successful business owners spectacularly fail in this regard!Ryan Allis CEO of iContact and author of Zero to One Million offers 10 tips on how to effectively manage employees. Read the article "10 Management Lessons."

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If you want to start a business that has proven to be viable and less risky, then franchising is the route for you.But don't think that all franchises are as expensive as your local McDonald's. In fact, there is a growing segment of franchises that can be operated from home. These home-based franchises combine the convenience of working from home with the added benefit of low startup costs.To check out what franchises can be operated from home, PowerHomeBiz has prepared a Directory of Home-Based Franchises categorized by the following sectors: Automotive Home-Based Franchises Business and Prof
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essional Home-Based Franchises Child Related Home-Based Franchises Cleaning and Maintenance Home-Based Franchises Computer and Tech Home-Based Franchises Educational Home-Based Franchises Food and Restaurant Home-Based Franchises Healthcare Home-Based Franchises Home Services Home-Based Franchises Pet Home-Based Franchises Service Home-Based Franchises Or if a home-based franchise is not your cup of tea, you can search for other franchise opportunities in our Directory of Franchises for the Small & Home Based Entrepreneurs

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With more websites competing for eyeballs and sales, paid search has become a critical marketing strategy for online businesses.Whether your ad budget is $100 or $10,000 per month, here are useful lessons in paid search marketing from ChannelAdvisor's "Top 12 Paid Search New Years Resolutions"Spend as much money as it takes to yield your desired Return on Ad Spend or Cost per Acquisition (an advice that may be better suited to deeper pocketed big businesses rather an a home-based operation)Manage more keywords on MSN and Yahoo Search MarketingExtensively test variations of ad creativeTarget sp
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ecific campaigns and ad groupsApply successful generalizations: knowing which keywords sell which products and when to bid is crucialTarget international marketsLeverage the lessons of 2007Know your search seasonalityImplement landing page improvementsMonitor affiliatesKnow what your competition is doingConsider outsourcing

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