The Entrepreneur Highway: Blog Your Business

Trying to think of new and inexpensive ways to get your business message out there to buyers?

Well you’re not alone. Every business can have great products and insightful listings. But unless you can reach your intended clientele you might as well be invisible.

One of the many challenges for any small budget business is learning to toot your own horn through creative promoting without putting yourself in a cash bind. That means finding free tools that offer powerful results with the potential to reach a large ongoing viewing audience.

Today’s internet is the source of instant access to information, messaging, selling, buying, data storage, and socializing, to name a few. And all this access is no longer restricted to big desktop computer systems.

Cell phones, iPods, laptops, PDAs, or two-way pagers are now capable of interacting on the Internet. That’s a lot of people browsing the Net, making it essential your business start taking advantage of technology savvy customers.

One of the most popular free tools for reaching out and generating interest is to create a regular blog about your business and the products or services you offer. Blogs also give viewers the ability to interact with your articles via comments and suggestions which creates a forum of value for both seller and buyer.

Blog or ‘web log’ is a website that allows users to inform or share opinions through text, graphics, and video, in an online journal format that readers can express views on.

WordPress.com is a public blog publishing application and considered one of the best. They provide the necessary tools to get your blog up and running fast. Once signed up, take a few minutes to customize the blog with a theme design, your business logo, and plenty of sidebar widgets (i.e. archives, calendar, categories, blog subscription, etc.) to provide viewers with a simple way to access the various information you post.

Unsure how to begin blogging? The best place to start is with a tutorial. This link will help you learn the ins and outs of WordPress.com. If you prefer another blog publishing application, seek out their learning tutorial to familiarize yourself with all the offered features and setup. The key is to spend less time setting up your blog and more time actually publishing articles so viewers can find and get to know you.

Now it’s time to launch those creative juices by putting yourself in the reader’s place.

Aim for informative articles of interest about your business or different categories that relate to your area of skill. Even if it’s just sharing experiences and opinions, be concise until you get the hang of putting together epic articles. A short post with accurate, helpful content is more likely to have viewers tuning back in to your next post than lengthy articles that wander pointlessly with numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.

Find a nice balance of text, graphics, or video to grab the reader’s eye. Be sure to include links that lead to your website, listings, or reference material. Links can be regularly included in your post or made permanent on your sidebar by selecting the link widget. And always double check that all links and button functions perform as they’re supposed to.

Finally, before publishing an article make sure to add a handful of relevant words and phrase tags. Also check the current WordPress category tags to see what’s popular with viewers that day. These keywords help describe the theme of your article and are used by search engines and browsing viewers to get your article found.

When you have that first published post behind you, the trick of getting viewers to become regular readers is to be a regular contributor. Set up a schedule to publish new blogs the same day each week, more often if time and skill permits. Include a sidebar blog subscription widget that lets viewers sign up to receive email notification of your latest post.

Prices for materials, postage, and products are definitely going up. And because of that tread most small online business budgets will remain fixed over the next year. That means rolling up your sleeves and making the most of fantastic free services that can get your message out to the Internet community.

I’m an online entrepreneur. How about you?

TimelessTemptationsbyTopCat.com

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The Entrepreneur Highway: Troubleshooting Tax Time

After the fast-paced sales of the 2010 final quarter, the new year has arrived with inventory stock in short supply while you anticipate delivery of new merchandise to dazzle buyers back to your listings or website. For some small business online sellers January can also herald in an abundance of time that makes for idle hands and unconstructive thinking.

As much as all business owners wish otherwise, January is, without a doubt, the slowest month of the year for sales. Instead of wondering or worrying when that next transaction will happen, take advantage of the sluggish post-holiday drought to organize all those full to bursting computer and paper files.

More important, while cleaning out all that old year information to make room for the new year, start gathering needed documents for your ‘accountant box’ and that fast approaching tax time in April.

Before starting your online business you took the time to research, to get solid advice to provide yourself with the best possible foundation for success. So why jeopardize what’s yours by avoiding professional tax preparation simply to save a few dollars?

The objective is to keep as much hard earned money in your business account and out of the government’s hands. To do that you need someone knowledgeable about small business formats and the numerous tax requirements and deductions allowed.

Going it alone with a tax return for your business can be much more complicated than most of us know how to handle. And unless your hobby is small business accounting, the cost of a Canadian CGA, Certified General Accountant, or a United States CPA, Certified Public Accountant, will more than likely be offset by the money saved through extensive deductions and tax-saving investment advice.

Just remember.  The more facts and figures your accountant has to piece together for your tax return from that shoebox full of receipts, the more you’ll end up paying for their specialized service. Simply asking what records and reports you can organize in advance will help save time for both of you and keep more money in your pocket.

In most cases it’s merely a matter of preparing as much information ahead of time like tracking business expenses on a spreadsheet throughout the year, using an accounting program and saving the data to disk to give the accountant a bird’s eye view of your financial history, or just having everything written down in an orderly manner with all receipts available.

Prepare an accountant’s box to hold disk copies and all the necessary backup paperwork for the tax year in case the accountant needs to backtrack a problem.

As you’re separating out tax information take the time to group similar statements together with folding clasps, sales invoices/refunds by month and have them clearly marked. Create a hardcopy of your expense spreadsheets for the office, vehicle, and remaining year-end inventory reports as backup and for quick reference.

Anything you submit as a business expense needs to have receipts or statements for each, providing the accountant with support material to approve the deduction or reject a questionable claim and avoid an audit headache further down the road.

Having an accountant who understands your business and financial situation makes a great reference resource during the year. Answers are just a quick email or phone call away.

So now your files are cleaned out and all set for 2011. Your accountant box is ready and awaiting those last minute documents and government forms. You’ve been so busy making a positive difference . . . and look, that first sale of the new year has arrived in your inbox!

I’m an online entrepreneur. How about you?

TimelessTemptationsbyTopCat.com