New Book Closes “Destructive” Gap Between Creativity & Business, that Undermines Humanity’s Future

lobotomyWhile the industrial revolution changed almost every aspect of daily life for the better, it left a huge sociological and psychological scar – the separation of thought processes associated with the rational mind from the intuitive, and the logical from the creative. It kick-started a new culture, one where rational thought was rewarded and creativity was radically devalued. 250 years later, the gap has widened to the point where it severely threatens the very fabric of humanity.

Nobody knows this better than Mike Fitzsimons and Sue Bradley; two music professionals who have also excelled in the world of business. And, before anyone asks, they are not two different skillsets, but rather a multi-disciplinary approach the authors coin as “smart thinking”.

In their new book, ‘Lobotomy: The Marginalisation of Creativity and How to Become Human Again’, the authors lay the gap between business and creativity bare, before helping readers close it in a way that will make them more prosperous and successful than they ever thought possible.


Modern society and work have been radically separated into “creative” and “financial” pursuits. This ideological “lobotomy” has led to silo thinking, stilted growth and personal dissatisfaction for millions of people trapped in the belief that they are either a “creative” or a “business” person. The conflict threatens to undermine our entire future if not resolved soon. This enlightening book reveals how these prejudices hold both sides back, shines a light on this crucial debate and provides practical advice on how to close the ever-widening gap — allowing everyone to embrace both aspects of themselves and to grow personally and professionally.

“I suppose the best way I can describe the book is a business book for creatives and a creative book for business people,” explains Fitzsimons, a published musician and social researcher who advises to the UK Government. “It’s also a great book for those fascinated by creativity, innovation and invention– or individuals deeply concerned about the future. It’s amazing how much the gap between business and creativity has morphed society into a mere shadow of its former self.”

Continuing, “And the book is a complete “journey” in itself; starting with an invite for readers to take a powerful test to see if they’ve been “lobotomized”, before they progress to learn the history of this cultural lobotomy and how and why it has grown to become an epidemic-style problem. Next, readers will be compelled to examine their roles and behaviours to see just how far apart these two worlds have become in their own life, before Sue and I serve up some short and long-term antidotes to the problem.”

It’s certainly a powerful read for individuals, companies and top-level policy makers.

‘Lobotomy: The Marginalisation of Creativity and How to Become Human Again’ is available now: http://amzn.to/2dvzaOp.

About the Authors:

mike-fMike Fitzsimons– Mike graduated from Essex University in 1972, and pursued a career in music until taking a job in social research in 1975. He quickly entered the fast-growing computer sector, specialising in data analysis, and in 1985 headed-up the BBC’s IT section of their audience research team. He has given numerous talks on prediction techniques to international audiences. Mike has also played with several bands, the most notable being The Piranhas (top 10 single) and The Papers (Top 5 indie single) and was signed to EMI and Radioactive Records. Currently he has a music publishing deal in Nashville. He became fascinated in the relationship between creativity and business after working with Sue on a national government contract as an advisor.

sue-bSue Bradley – In the 1980s, Sue worked as a musician and performer with bands and physical theatre companies such as Pookiesnackenburger and Ra Ra Zoo, touring internationally.  She was a scriptwriter and actor for London Weekend Television, co-wrote and acted in her own Channel 4 TV series and was signed to Stiff records with her band.  Then throughout the 1990s she was Head of Expressive Arts in a large urban secondary school. In 2001 she became Creative Director for England’s flagship creative education programme, Creative Partnerships, managed by the Arts Council, England. More recently, she has been a marketing executive for a TV station and is currently managing an employer-led creative apprenticeship scheme.

Sue gave a TEDx talk on this book’s topic in 2011 to an audience of academics, journalists and the general public and has significant media experience.

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Work from Home: How to Become an Online Casino Affiliate


Global online gambling will soar to unprecedented figures in 2018, while the amount for 2017 has been predicted to the volume of 50.65 billion US dollars, according to statistics presented by Statista. This report is an indication of the boom in the industry. Online gaming sites have their plans at the ready to harvest the ripe market.

Online casinos have become a popular source of entertainment and reward for the end users because of the ease of playing. For example, with the paypal casinos paypal-casinos.co, you can access money in you PayPal account and use it on games on the sites. The Mirror reports that an estimated “164 million people in the world will be using mobile devices to access online gambling by 2018.”

For an entrepreneur getting a big cut from the boom requires that you first quit your job! This may sound ridiculous, but it is the way if you ever have that nagging thought to escape the confines of the traditional office environment to start an online business.  You don’t need to gamble. You don’t need to set up an online casino. You can benefit from the industry by becoming a casino affiliate. Sounds easy? It is when you have the right tools. Read on to learn how to become an online casino affiliate. Don’t quit your day job yet though. Get the wheels in motion and start earning before you take the leap.

What is an Online Casino Affiliate?

An affiliate is the subsidiary of a parent company. So, an online casino affiliate is a subsidiary – online marketer – of a big casino company, who gets paid some percentage based on performance by the big casino company.

How Can I Become an Online Casino Affiliate?

  • The start is to launch a website. Bear in mind that launching a website isn’t simple. You will have to consider the following: the content of the website, accessibility by different internet devices, SEO optimization, and layout. Then, since you are launching an online casino, you should consider the payment option. You could drive more traffic when you launch a PayPal Casino strategy.
  • Choose wisely. Once you site is up and running, you have to decide who you want to affiliate to. It’s wise to carry out a research so that you understand how each casino operates.
  • Promote online casino brands. The way to go about this is hosting the banners and other ad materials of online casinos. Once your great website ranks high on Google search, you should see online gamers visit, and when they click on a banner and sign up you get paid.
  • Agree on a payment arrangement. There are two main means of getting paid by the online casinos whose ads you are hosting. The first is revenue sharing method, where you are paid a percentage per number of clicks on online casino ads. You get paid for visitors essentially. You could also opt in for cost per acquisition (CPA) formula, where you are paid more for people who actually sign up for a casino, and even based on the revenue that they go on to provide the casino. Both modes of affiliate income work, but the latter tends to do better if you can generate targeted traffic that converts.

Enjoy the boom in online casinos from inside the industry, rather than as a spectator. It really is easy to start generating income if you get your marketing right.

The post Work from Home: How to Become an Online Casino Affiliate appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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E-commerce for Small Businesses: A User’s Guide

Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

By Tricia Hussung

For most of history, the process of buying and selling remained about the same. Customers visited businesses in person to make purchases, and companies kept all of their stock stored locally. However, the advent of the internet drastically changed retail for both consumers and business owners. It affected the way shoppers and businesses interact because more and more purchases are made online without ever visiting a physical storefront. Even when customers do visit a store in person, it’s usually after completing research online first. According to BusinessZone, 62 percent of consumers say they browse online before making an in-store purchase. It can be difficult for stores with no online presence to keep up, with online retailers offering deep discounts, fast shipping and cost comparisons.

This trend toward online shopping shows no sign of slowing down. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that web sales totaled $341.7 billion during 2015, an increase of 14.6 percent over 2014. This means that e-commerce accounted for more than 60 percent of total retail sales growth last year. For six years in a row, e-commerce sales have grown close to or exceeding 15 percent. Clearly, it has become critically important for small businesses to build a strong online marketing and e-commerce strategy.

Copyright: ideyweb / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: ideyweb / 123RF Stock Photo

Why Small Businesses Need E-commerce

E-commerce strategies are important for businesses of all sizes, because consumers now have multiple channels at their disposal when they shop. Those who shop in store can take their business online and vice versa. However, many small businesses have outdated e-commerce sites. When customers use online research to find nearby locations and product availability, small businesses may lose out to larger companies if they don’t have a solid online presence. In addition, even consumers who prefer to shop in store can ultimately go the online route because it is the most convenient option. Inc. points out that data shows a “real value for businesses that embrace internet marketing and ecommerce to reach the large percentage of customers who are shopping online.”

E-commerce enables small businesses to keep pace with competitors while providing new sources of much-needed revenue as well. Because it’s relatively easy to set up an online store, small businesses really only need an internet connection to run various e-commerce solutions and a shipping process. Developing an e-commerce strategy may require less investment than opening a second brick-and-mortar location, Inc. says. E-commerce allows businesses to sell their products anywhere in the world rather than being restricted to the local area, so they stand to increase sales and profits. Even the smallest businesses can integrate e-commerce with their existing business website. The accessibility of online sales is ideal because it levels the playing field: Smaller operations can compete with large-scale sellers when they leverage e-commerce effectively.

Copyright: yodiyim / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: yodiyim / 123RF Stock Photo

Best E-commerce Platforms for Small Business

In the past, businesses that wanted to develop an online sales presence had to hire in-house web designers and developers to build out these services for them. However, this is no longer required. High-quality, user-friendly e-commerce solutions are readily available on the market. These platforms feature better scalability and functionality than some mid-sized companies have through their e-commerce sites, BusinessZone says. Even better, most providers offer a 14- or 30-day free trial, so you can try out different options and determine which is right for you. Many small companies utilize the same top solutions because they deliver the services and capabilities actual businesses of this size need.

The following are some of the best options available to help small businesses succeed in e-commerce. We sourced our list from this Entrepreneur article.

  • Symphony Commerce: This e-commerce platform offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. It’s ideal because it off-loads the architecture and backend duties that are “critical to maintaining an online store.” This means that you can stay focused on core business processes. Symphony Commerce offers pay-as-you-go pricing, so it’s a great choice for a company that knows what it wants from an e-commerce service. If you are newer to online sales, you might want to go with a more one-size-fits-all option.
  • Squarespace: This “fully loaded” platform is affordable and allows you to choose the perfect theme for your e-commerce site — no coding knowledge required. Squarespace enables you to upload as many items to your online store as you like, and it offers full control over inventory so that you can offer variants of the same product type with no hassle. However, this platform isn’t big on search engine optimization (SEO) or customer relationship management (CRM).
  • Magento: Magento is one of the most scalable e-commerce platforms out there, meaning that you can add or subtract services to meet your specific needs. It is open source, so adding features is easy. It can be more complicated to use than many of these other picks, however, so it may be a little complex for first-time e-commerce retailers.
  • CommerceHub: This cloud-based platform lets you increase the number of products you offer to customers. It “works as a merchandising and fulfillment platform that connects online retailers to suppliers” and allows for integration with any product source. Something important to note about CommerceHub is that it relies on businesses to have a developed sales funnel already, making it a good fit for companies that want to build on existing sourcing practices.
  • Drupal Commerce: Drupal is the only e-commerce platform on this list that is built within an entire content management system, allowing users to customize workflow. It is very flexible, configurable and scalable. However, to get the most out of this option, you’ll probably need to hire an in-house developer to set up workflows and overall configuration, Entrepreneur One thing that makes Drupal stand out is that it doesn’t come with licensing fees, which increases affordability.
  • Shopify: This platform is an all-in-one solution that allows you to set up an online store. It’s one of the most popular e-commerce builders on the market. You can upload as many products as you like with close inventory control. Other valuable elements include a discount code engine and no transaction fees. Shopify comes with an app store. All of these customization options can be overwhelming, but Shopify doesn’t require a tech background to use.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of e-commerce platforms available on the market to help you create the online sales strategy that’s right for your resources and business goals. After identifying your requirements, you’ll be able to settle on a platform to build your online presence and stay competitive in the fast-paced world of e-commerce. Consumers are looking for quick, convenient shopping opportunities that make online the right choice for many. With more do-it-yourself e-commerce tools available than ever before, small businesses have the opportunity to capitalize on the online market with relatively low overhead. Cloud-based solutions make it possible to manage an online shop adeptly without wasting large amounts of time or resources.

If you are interested in topics like these that are relevant to business owners and entrepreneurs, consider Concordia University, St. Paul’s online MBA program.

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A Guide for How to Buy a Business Successfully

Have you ever thought about running your own business? In all likelihood, the answer is yes. There are millions of Americans who would love to be able to be in control of their income. Of course, getting a business off of the ground can be much more difficult than you could ever imagine. This is why many successful business people recommend purchasing a business instead. Doing so will give you the ability to enter into a venture, which is already established and successful. Unfortunately, this will also make the initial price much more expensive. Below, you will discover how to successfully purchase a business.

Copyright: langstrup / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: langstrup / 123RF Stock Photo

Consider The Risks

One of the best things about purchasing a business is that you’ll already know where the business is and what it faces on a daily basis. Suffice to say, you will have a good idea of the risks the business faces. You’ll know exactly how much it spends on a monthly basis, as well as how much the business has been able to generate during the same period. You can use this information to weigh the risks associated with the acquisition. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Do not purchase a business, unless the answer is yes. If the answer is no and you jump in anyway, you may be getting yourself into a detrimental situation that you cannot escape.

Copyright: bezikus / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: bezikus / 123RF Stock Photo

Evaluate The Brand

In today’s world, it is essential to consider a company’s brand, before making the purchase. When looking for an incredibly profitable business for sale, you should look at the brand name. Is this a brand that you’re personally familiar with? In order for the business to be a success, the brand will need to be established. You will need to advertise and promote the brand, until consumers become familiar with it. If the brand is already well known, you won’t have to spend as much. However, if you’ve never heard of the brand before, you should be prepared to spend more in this category.


Be Realistic

When it comes down to it, many entrepreneurs enter into a new business venture with unrealistic expectations. This can result in devastation, when they’re unable to achieve the unreasonable goals they’ve set. With this in mind, it is important to be realistic about what your business will be able to achieve. The truth of the matter is that many businesses actually lose money during their first few months or years. You should first focus on making a profit. Once you’ve done that, you will be able to focus on expansion projects.


Quality Investment

When considering buying an existing business, you must first select a business venture that will provide a quality investment. For instance, if the owner puts the business on the market there must be a reason why. Many business owners that are the retirement age will put their business on the market, because they no longer want the responsibility. This may be the perfect opportunity for you, especially if the business has been in operation for five to ten years or longer. Avoid businesses that are nearing bankruptcy, since this may put you at risk of failure, as well.


Reasonable Prices

Most individuals, like you are working on a strict financial budget. Now, this does not necessarily mean that you should just invest in the first existing business that is for sale at a reasonable price. In fact, the reasonable or below the initial price may be a warning sign. If the business owner appears to be too pushy, you should look for another business venture. You definitely do not want to end up with a business that will not provide you with a substantial size profit. Take a look around the business and speak to other business owners in the community, before moving forward.

A reasonable price is not too much to ask for, but you just need to use your common senses throughout the process.

Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

Choosing The Right Industry

When buying a business, you have to consider what type of industry you want to buy into. This might sound like a moot point, but you would be surprised at the number of small business that are purchased on a daily basis just because someone want to become a business owner. Most of the time the buyer doesn’t care if the business matches his or her passion, background, or experience. Sure, you can be successful in this manner, but it is a major mistake.

Owning and operating a business can be tough enough, but when you are not passionate about what you are doing that is just a recipe for unhappiness. In most cases an unhappy owner is an unsuccessful one. Managing people and working in a field that you deeply care about can make you want to show up every morning, even when things go bad.

Copyright: nastia / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: nastia / 123RF Stock Photo

How Big Do You Want To Go?

Once you know what kind of business that you want to purchase, you have to consider the size. When deciding on the size there is two major things that you must consider. What size of company are you capable of handling, and how much capital are you going to be able to come up with?

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These Tips Will Help You Keep Your Office Up and Running

Ensuring that your office is always up and running can be challenging. Maintaining the order and the coordination among all the units in the office will determine its efficiency. If you are planning on a new office, ensure that you put measures that will be long-term. This will reduce the cost that may be incurred when trying to make sure that your office is in top condition later on. Before you design your office, take time to appreciate the role your office will play in achieving your business goals.


1. The arrangement of the office

Ensure that the arrangement and the furniture layout in the room are convenient. You should make sure that you have an office that has been structured to increase accessibility of the elements you might need in an office. If you find difficulties getting around your office, you should consider rearranging it. While arranging your office, it is crucial to find individuals who will be working in the office. Consider the number of your workers and find arrangements that will help you utilize your office space efficiently.

38186664 - handyman with tools
Copyright: mearicon / 123RF Stock Photo

2. Ensure your office is not faulty

Technical faults usually cause a significant drag on the effectiveness of an office. For your office to be up and running at all times, ensure that these technicalities are kept in check. The technicalities may include piping and the facility lighting. It is advisable to have contacts to a 24 hour emergency plumbing expert so as to avoid delays in attending to the issues related to leakages or other piping problems. If you are renting an office, solicit professional advice to ensure that not a single fault goes unattended.


3. Ensure availability of the right equipment

Lack of the proper equipment in an office will have a significant drag on the competence of your office. Providing all the necessary equipment gives your workers the needed calm when handling your clients. Inadequate equipment will lead to a distracted working condition with the workers looking for things like pens all the time. Enough material ensures that your office is less distracted and more concentrated on the priority issues of your business.


4. Manage your space effectively

It is important to manage the space you have effectively no matter how small. This way you will be able to ensure that equipment used by everyone is accessible to everyone. Space that has been poorly managed will leave your office chaotic and will significantly affect its efficiency. Offices of smaller sizes are harder to manage, especially when the workforce is larger. There are, however, professionals who can help you make the most out of your space. Smaller offices will require more management regarding space. When there is the need, you should always ask for professional help to help you get the most out of your office space.


5. Consider your staff

The team cannot be ignored when it comes to ensuring that your office is in top form. Ensuring that your employees work with sufficient motivation is very crucial. Before making any position changes, always make a note of at least considering your employees’ views. The fact that you share your office with your employees shows how important their opinions are.

Ensuring that your office is not only efficient for you, but for your employees as well. It is crucial to appreciate that your staff is also part of the office. If the office is not sufficient for your employees, it will be significantly less productive. Therefore, always consider your team a priority if you wish to ensure high productivity of your office all the time.


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A Short Primer to Setting up a Legal Home Business

As recently as the 90s the notion that you could run a successful business from the kitchen while you enjoyed your morning coffee seemed like the impossible dream for most. Fast forward 20 years though and wireless broadband, a billion websites and tablets with more processing power than was used to get men to the moon have made the dream of the home business an everyday reality. But while there’s a lot to be said for setting yourself up to work from the kitchen counter, there are still steps you’ll need to take to ensure your new business passes legal muster.

Follow the steps below to set up your home business in a way that will ensure you don’t bring the wrath of officialdom down upon you.

Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo

Be Aware of Possible Restrictions

While most municipalities won’t have a problem with you setting up a home business, some might. In addition, there may be something in the bylaws of your condominium association that forbids you from using the property to generate income. Once you’re sure you can proceed legally it’s time to move on to creating the actual business.

Determine Your Business Structure

According to Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld, Choosing the right structure is a crucial first step to setting up your home-based business. People typically choose one of these two structures:

1) Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest and most basic type of business to establish. The company belongs to you and you alone, which means you’re responsible for any assets and liabilities. The advantages of a sole proprietorship include:

  • Ease of setup.
  • Minimal setup costs.
  • Total control.
  • Simple tax preparation.

No formal action is required to create a sole proprietorship. Keep in mind however that you may need some type of permit or license to operate any type of business out of your home.

36000623 - man working from home with laptop and taking notes
Copyright: goodluz / 123RF Stock Photo

2) Limited Liability Company or LLC

Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the setting up of an LLC though most follow the same basic process:

  • Choose Your Business Name: Your LLC name must A) be unique in your state, B) indicate that it is an LLC and C) avoid restricted words like “Bank”.
  • File Articles of Organization: It’s the AoO that makes your business legitimate in the eyes of government. Different states require you file it with different governmental bodies and there may be a filing fee involved as well.
  • Formulate an Operating Agreement: While not required by most states operating agreements are highly recommended for multi-member LLCs simply because they spell out who is what.
  • Secure any Permits or Licenses: Each state will have its own requirements in this regard but it’s essential you follow through on this after filing your AoO.
  • Shout it from the Rooftops: Some states require that you announce the formation of your LLC publicly. This typically takes the form of a notice in a local paper.
  • LLC Taxes: LLC members pay tax via their personal income tax. Be aware though that while the Federal Government won’t tax your LLC income some states might.
Copyright: ndul / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: ndul / 123RF Stock Photo

Set up Your Website

Sites that offer free hosting don’t usually offer unique domain names and something like “expertresearch.blogspot.com” isn’t going to cut it if you have designs on real success. Pay a few bucks and get a unique domain name and hosting package instead. Then hire a pro to design and build your site. It’s not as expensive as you think.

Copyright: neirfy / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: neirfy / 123RF Stock Photo

Link Your Site to Your Bank Account

If you’re going to be accepting payments online you’ll probably want a PayPal account linked to your bank account. Keep in mind too that there may be sales tax requirements in play so it’s a good idea to talk with an accountant about how those payments should be handled.

Copyright: vadymvdrobot / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: vadymvdrobot / 123RF Stock Photo

Ye Olde Bottom Line

Time was when a person could do pretty much whatever they wanted on their property. Those days, however, passed into golden memory around the time the horseless carriage first appeared on city streets. But that’s okay, because the steps you’ll need to take to set up your at-home business are not as daunting as you think they are. Just follow the above guidelines and you should be good to go.

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Five Ways to Make Your Business Look More Professional

photo-for-article-from-belinda-wasser-rocketgirl-solutionsWhen you work for someone else, your employer provides you with a computer, a phone, an email address and business cards. The company has a logo, a website and procedures established for how to get the work done.

But, when you work for yourself, you start with none of that. It’s up to you to provide these things for your business. And even though many solo professionals have come from a corporate past, they don’t bring many of these items into their own businesses – and that’s a mistake.

As a solo, home-based professional, you may assume that because you are small, you’re under the radar and can get by without pulling together all of the fundamental components of your business. And, because you are likely extremely busy, wearing numerous hats and juggling non-stop responsibilities every day, it’s very easy to push these things to the back burner, thinking they are non-essential.

However, ignoring these things can have a detrimental effect on the professionalism you convey to others.  Whether you’re just starting out or already established and sitting pretty, there are simple things you can do to let the world know that you mean business – and they are far from non-essential. Following are five things every home-based, small business owner should consider:

  1. Obtain a real email address. This doesn’t mean using Gmail, AOL, Yahoo! or Hotmail. If you have a registered domain (www.YourCompany.com), it’s just a few more steps to use it for email (jane@yourcompany.com). It’s worth the little bit of extra effort to demonstrate that you’re serious. Please leave nameofmycompany@gmail.com behind!
  1. Get a professional business card. Your card makes an impression every time you hand it to someone.  A small investment in a professional-looking card will be a good one. Have one designed by someone experienced in doing this, with up-to-date information and nice card stock. It will be well worth your small amount of money and time.
  1. Have a professional head shot taken. This should be retaken every couple of years and used on your website, your LinkedIn profile, your bio, etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be done by a photographer in a professional setting.
  1. Make sure your business has a consistent look and feel. This includes your website, presentations, brochures, etc. Anything you show to clients, prospects and others should feel consistent, instead of reflecting a new expression in creativity in each piece. Use the same fonts and colors, as well as similar wording in the way you describe who you are and what you do throughout all of your materials.
  1. Don’t skimp on your tools. Make sure you have what you need to run your business well, including a good computer, a reliable printer, and a dedicated place to work without background noises, especially important in a home-based business environment. Invest in the software you need not only to do your work, but to maintain your business on the back-end, too.

All five of these things are easy to implement and relatively inexpensive. While it may seem you have a never-ending to-do list, with other tasks taking priority, by investing a small amount of time and money into the five above areas, you will give your prospects, clients and partners a better impression of your business – which in turn can lead to greater success for your company.

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When to Quit Your Job and Start an Online Business

If you have your entrepreneurial nature nagging you throughout the 9 to 5 schedule each day, then you might covet the title of being your own boss. However, while the era of technology is in full bloom, some experts might advise you to test your options before plunging into your own online business. Today, we’ll discover when is the proper time to quit your job and harness the power of the Internet.


1. First and Foremost, Consider Not Quitting on the Spot

Many startup veterans would advise you to juggle with your job and business during the first year of becoming an entrepreneur. The first year of a company is crucial. If you manage to get past this milestone, it means that you are ready to step into the business world.

Studies show that 8 out of 10 startups fail during the first year. There have also been compiled a set of 20 reasons why this happens. The first three obstacles in the entrepreneurial journey are a lack of market research, lack of supporting capital, and lack of a good team.

This means that you should stick with your job a little longer, no matter how loud the business opportunity calls for you. First of all, you need to research the market and identify the right segment of the target audience for you. Your business can’t exist if there are no clients to find your product or service of use.

Secondly, you need one whole year to test if the recruited employees are a good match for your startup. Maybe the most important measure of all is gathering as many financial resources as you can. The economic projections written on paper will never coincide with the reality. You should make enough room in your budget to cover any possible mistakes that may jeopardize the entire mission.

2. Understand the Tax System

If you hit a big enough success with your online business to score a good income, you shouldn’t celebrate the victory too soon. Every April 15th, your annual income will suffer shrinkage of about 20% because of taxes. To prevent this shock that might set back your business, you should create a payment schedule.

The USA has a lot of severe taxes for business owners that will take most of your earnings away. The Schedule C “SE” is only the beginning. There are also personal income taxes that can narrow down your payments to Government up to 55% of your income.

So, in light of these findings, the issue of money is of concern once more. Even though you have a personal accountant, you still need to understand the tax system so that you know how to estimate the price for your service or product.

3. Set Up a Business Foundation

Before going ahead and start making a profit with your business idea, you should lay down a strong foundation for it. This will help you create a client database, test the market and the impact your product will bring to a certain kind of community.

This first business layer consists of a website, official social media profiles, and a blog. The website will be the online shop that people can access without the need to travel long distances to test and purchase your goods. The website should first and foremost be more about information and less about design. The visuals can influence consumers into buying your product. However, it is best to play it honestly and use the website to tell them why they should invest in them. You can go back anytime you want and change the aspect of the website onceyou have the budget for a web designer or you accumulated knowledge of online customer psychology.

Social media profiles will guarantee you the presence of your business on platforms with millions of users. With so many accounts, there are high chances that your potential clients are surfing all the major websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Furthermore, if your business has a brand name, it is important to secure the official title on all main channels. Some other entrepreneurs might think of your business name as well, and once they create social profiles with the same name, there’s nothing you can do to go back to singularity.

You can start writing articles for your blog that your leads might be interested in before buying your product. Think of questions that people might have related to your service, such as “How does it work?” or “In how many ways can I use it?” The consumers will have many questions related to your product. If they can find both answers and quality service through your brand, your digital presence will become a voice of authority. Once you establish a connection based on trust with the consumers, it will be easier to turn them from leads into loyal customers.

So, these are the three main factors to take care of before starting your adventure in the online business medium. It is important to weigh your entrepreneurial opportunity with an objective mind before quitting your unsatisfying job. The moment your online business finds a viable shape, you have the green light to devote your entire time to its success.

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From Idea to Execution: How to Build an E-Commerce Brand

Moving, marriage, and divorce are some of the biggest stress-inducing life moment’s people go through. As someone who is single and stays in place, I would like to add starting a business to that list. Starting a business takes nerves, ambition, and clear thinking. I would like to share what I learned during my first year and a half of starting an ecommerce site that sells clothing and handbags from independent designers.



Remember what your English teacher always told you before a writing assignment: write what you know. Definitely apply this to what you want your business to be about. Sell what you have passion about or even what you want to learn more about. The more excited about your product or even service the better mindset you will have. You don’t want to have your passion for a product you love or a great service you provide turn into a chore.



There are probably two types of business start-ups: those that are being funded by the owner through savings and maybe a little debt and those that have outside funding. For me, my business is being funded through savings and any revenue that it is generating. So when starting you want to be careful about how much money you spend on tools, apps, and other programs that make automation possible. These things come with a price and that money may be better spent elsewhere.

Tools are great because it helps automate things. There are great inventory management programs, shipping programs, analytics, etc. If you are boot-strapping your own business I wouldn’t get too carried away with all of the bells-and-whistles these programs provide. Typically these programs are available for a subscription and that is why I would avoid them in the beginning because it is taking away money that can be used elsewhere.

You already have access to great tools that won’t cost extra. You can use a spreadsheet program to track your inventory, cost per item, selling costs, profit or loss per item, etc. It may not be automated, but when you are first starting out you don’t have a great feel for your volume. You may be surprised how many solutions you can come up with on your own that don’t require fancy software and subscription costs. Plus these are things that you can grow into at a later date. When you are sitting in your storage room filled with inventory and feel confused, nauseous, and feel the urge to curl-up in the fetal position then you know you have outgrown your own simplified programs and it is time to buy specialized software.

Another thing to consider is how much your web platform or shopping cart can handle for you. You would be surprised at the available built-in features and cheaper plug-ins available that work perfectly to help keep you organized. Spend the time to research what is included in your shopping cart program, the costs, different levels of subscriptions and what extra bonuses you get for higher levels.

I’ve been very happy with my selection as it includes inventory management, shipping automation, unlimited products, etc. While you definitely want to keep costs low it is worth paying extra for a nice shopping cart platform.



Stop over thinking and believing that you need to do everything at once. Look at starting your business like you would if you were to make cupcakes. You can’t just dump all of the ingredients into a bowl and place the bowl in the oven and have it transform into individual cupcakes. Once you have all the basics in place and have received feedback from non-friends and non-relatives on your website you need to launch the site and learn as you go as scary as that sounds.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Yes, social media is important and you need to use it for your business, but that doesn’t mean you need to be on every single channel. Start with just a couple of channels that are popular for your industry and when you feel comfortable add a few more. You may learn that certain channels are not that necessary for your product or service. Right now my business is focused on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, I’m really having doubts on whether Twitter is worth it for a brand that is fashion focused. Maybe I’ll ditch Twitter altogether and use all of the resources towards the remaining three, or maybe I’ll replace Twitter with Snapchat. These are things you will have to weigh as you are working your social channels. It is completely okay to start with just two or three channels and add channels later on.

SHIPPING: This one seems easy to handle but there are multiple things to consider and you need to make decisions based on what works best for your customers and what works best for your business. What are you going to charge for shipping? Are you going to do flat rate, minimum charge, will it vary based on what is ordered, etc. Look at what your competitors are doing and match them or beat them. This is something that you want to test and see what type of response you get. You can’t let shipping get in the way of actually getting your business started. In order to figure out the answer you actually need to sell product that needs to be shipped.

WEBSITE DESIGN: Your website design is critical and the only thing your new customers and visitors are going to be judging you on. There are things you need to have in place for your website so that it looks legitimate and people feel that you are not running your business out of a truck in an unlit parking lot. Things I would consider as critical: customer support page, security badges, secure checkout, anything that helps your business provide a sense that you are not running a scam. There are finer details that you will stress over: color scheme, text, placement of content, etc. Yes, things matter but don’t let it stop you from starting. All of these other things can be tested at a later time.entrepreneur-696976_960_720JUST LEARN

My best recommendation is to just launch your business. There are countless scenarios that you will never think of so it is impossible to be 100-percent prepared. The good news is that you are not alone. Any situation you are not sure on how to handle someone else has experienced and can offer a solution. Start visiting entrepreneurial forums, blogs, Facebook groups, etc. They are filled with great ideas that you can apply to your business. After all you are launching your business in the information age so you may as well use it to your advantage.

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Outsourcing is Key to Small Businesses’ Cyber Security


Cybercrime has continued to dominate the news in 2016 – including phishing attacks, malware and ransomware. As attacks grow in sophistication and frequency, businesses of all size are at risk. But small businesses in particular are increasingly becoming the targets of hackers. According to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, phishing campaigns last year targeted small businesses 43 percent of the time, which is up nine percent over 2014. What’s more, ransomware attacks are also on the rise, growing 35 percent in the same timeframe.

With Cyber Security Awareness Month in full swing and the need to protect company assets growing in importance, small businesses are often left wondering what they can do to mitigate risk and reduce damage if they are the next target. What is often the hardest for small businesses, and home business owners in particular, is committing resources and time to their cyber security on an ongoing basis. Cyber security is not as simple as installing an application and walking away. Some of the largest companies have been infiltrated despite significant investment, and small businesses have a higher risk when they try to maintain their own security. This is where outsourcing technology comes in.

Outsourcing IT gives business owners access to a network of professionals to handle cloud-based applications and daily remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM) to protect against cybercrime as well as disaster recovery processing should an attack occur. By managing everything from website functionality and cloud migration to technology updates and data backups, outsourcing partners ultimately provide small businesses with the business continuity they need to compete.


Cyber Risks and Outsourced Resources

The best way to illustrate the true value of outsourcing IT for RMM and disaster recovery is to look at it from the perspective of a small business that manages its own IT operations, including security.

Take for example a small retailer that may rely heavily on its public-facing website for business operations. This is a vehicle for them to showcase their brand and interact with customers, and it serves as a platform for sales and service. Without having a brick and mortar store, they rely on their website for eCommerce sales, which is core to their business.

One day the owner of this company may get an email that asks the owner to click a link to view new shirt designs that look like they would fit in well with the retailer’s current offerings. Unbeknownst to this owner, this is a phishing email. After clicking on the link the retailer’s computer is instantly infected with malware that locks the owner out and demands that the company pay a ransom to access its files and the website’s back end. This particular hacker takes it a step further, threatening to shut down the retailer’s website if payment is not received within 48 hours. With insufficient data backups in place and not wanting to lose business, the retailer decides to pay the ransom via Bitcoin.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common – according to a recent report from PhishMe, 93 percent of phishing emails are now ransomware. And, oftentimes victims pay up rather than struggle to recover the data by other means – just like the retailer. But cyber criminals are just that – criminals. There are even times that hackers do not keep up their half of the deal and stop businesses from accessing the files they paid to have released. Or, they let businesses regain access and lurk within the infrastructure, waiting to cause additional damage. In the case of the small retailer, the hackers may wait until peak season for sales such as the holidays to strike again, knowing the owner would be anxious to pay in hopes of not losing business.

If this retailer were to have an outsourcing partner in place prior to receiving this phishing email, a number of factors would have been different and the risk of losing business would have been reduced dramatically. For example, an outsourcing partner could remove the business’s on-premises email server and migrate it to the cloud via solutions such as Office365. Small businesses cannot easily put the level of security in place that is achievable in a robust cloud environment. On top of this, they don’t have the resources to assess ongoing vulnerabilities of applications, such as on-premises email. The partner would ensure that mailboxes are migrated successfully, including setting up the appropriate security, access and archiving options. Enhanced security tools that integrate with Office365 may also be required to provide proactive monitoring, ensure software updates and protect against advanced attacks such as phishing emails. An outsourcing partner could oversee these technologies and ensure that updates are conducted regularly to maintain the highest level of security.

Another key capability of an outsourcing partner is backup and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) delivered via the cloud; this acts as an insurance policy and enables a quick return to operation (RTO) should a disruption occur. Many small businesses, such as the retailer discussed above, are operating with insufficient backup and disaster recovery. This means that if they are the victim of ransomware, they seemingly have no choice but to pay the fine to regain access to their files and restore business as quickly as possible. Recreating business data can take days if not weeks, in which a small business could be completely taken down. While an outsourcing provider can come in after a breach and help rebuild the business, having it in place to conduct regular backups prior to such an incident means that paying the ransomware is not the only option. From secure cloud-based capabilities to DRaaS, the advanced support an IT outsourcing partner can provide can be priceless. But, once a business recognizes the advantages of leveraging an outsourcing provider to provide these capabilities, it then needs to know what to look for when selecting a partner.


Tips for Selecting the Right Partner

When deciding to outsource IT for RMM and disaster recovery, there are a few considerations small businesses should keep in mind. First and foremost, the partner should be proactive. That provider should use tools to monitor desktops, firewall servers and other areas of intrusion such as email servers and be proactive about reporting any issues to management. The partner should also have the skills to resolve these issues – a good partner can do both, with a strong commitment to communication. Along the same lines, the outsourcer also needs to take ownership of keeping the business up to date on software, such as antivirus. There are new viruses every month, and having a partner devoted to keeping the business current on any updates is critical to safeguarding information.

The partner should also provide the business owner with access to monitoring tools that demonstrate the success of the outsourcing program, including successful completion of backups. Such tools provide alerts, analytics and reports to gain insights about how the businesses’ assets are properly protected and recoverable, and where opportunities for optimization may exist for storage, performance and other factors.

When it comes to disaster recovery specifically, it’s critical to ensure the DRaaS agreement contains an understanding of the frequency of testing the business’s disaster recovery capability, including the partner’s role in supporting the test. A disaster situation should not be the first time these capabilities are tested. Ideally, disaster recovery should be tested two times a year, and a minimum of once a year.

With cybercrime on the rise, business owners need to be more vigilant than ever about protecting assets, backing up data and having a recovery plan in place should a hack occur. Small businesses, and in particular home-owned businesses, often don’t have the time or staff to maintain their own security. By outsourcing IT such as RMM and disaster recovery, these organizations are better equipped to avoid threats and restore operations should they fall victim to an attacker’s advanced tactics. IT outsourcing partners act as an extension of the team, providing 24x7x365 support to mitigate risks and keep business up and running.

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