Small Business Idea – Cater to Your Local Economy and Grow Your Enterprise

Creative Ways to Make a Big Business Impact in Any Local Small Business

Pay attention to your local demographic.

1.Product offering. This little cafe in Brooklyn is very cool. It has superb coffee, but it’s got some really fabulous, healthy deserts too.  The desserts don’t have white refined sugar in them. They’re fantastic tasting anyway. It also has a juice bar and will juice pretty much anything that’s not pinned down, including your car bumper. Good roughage.

2. Customer behavior. Pay attention to how your customers engage with your business. Using this little shop again, the bathroom had a really wide, sliding door. Great for people in wheelchairs, but also great for mom’s with babies in strollers. They also had a stroller rack where mom’s could hang up those space hogs. There was also a banquette in the back of this narrow store to accommodate small groups. It was a simple place, well designed for the purpose.

A bakery in Portland, Maine had a kiddies table where children could play with real dough. They had kid-sized baking pans and everything. It was like a auto-play date.

The kids loved it, moms and dads loved it. They came for coffee and stayed forever. The bakery became a destination place. It was a clever way to attract all the stakeholders in a family.

3. Employee Knowledge and Attitude. The counter people at this little cafe were terrific. They were very knowledgeable about all the types of coffee, tea, juices, deserts and other savories. They described the food such that, I wanted one of everything, with a double latte. Good salespeople will whet your appetite.

4. Give them a reason to come back. This little cafe wasn’t just a coffee shop; it was a local institution. How does a business become that well-known and loved? First, it greets people like human beings, not like walking ATM machines. Feeling valued is a big deal today. People don’t forget it. Its menu is consistent with the tastes and preferences of the locals. And it’s always changing. The recipes are unique to the shop owner/ chef and each one will make your mouth water. Wow, I wonder what new health bar they’ve created this week?

5. Give people real value and they’ll return. Believe it or not, people don’t buy price, they buy value. Price is just what you have to shell out to get “the thing”. Value is the whole experience; the ambiance, the coffee, the attitude of the place. A smile is worth a whole lot more than most businesses realize.

Regardless of which creative methods you choose to grow your local business, you always want to be paying attention to inventory management and cash flow. They are the life blood of your business.

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A Guide To Container Gardening Ideas

There are many advantages to container gardening such as lack of room or space for a full size garden, apartment living or just to decorate your patio area. Container gardening is also ideal if you have very poor soil in your garden, as growing plants in a container can be controlled and easy to tend. Here I have suggested some container gardening ideas that will add color and interest to any area.

Before you start your container garden there are a few tips that will help to ensure your plants grow healthily. Firstly, although almost any container can be used for container gardening, it must be a container that has sufficient drainage to allow surplus water to drain away from the roots of the plants. If there is not adequate drainage your plants will rot and die.

Choosing your container is only limited by your imagination. You may opt for a traditional wooden garden planter or large plastic garden pots. But you may choose something a little more unconventional such as a garden sink, an old stock pot, buckets or even an old toilet. It all depends on the look you want and how much of a talking point you want your container garden to become. Most garden supply stores and garden nurseries sell a variety of containers.

Secondly, using a good quality garden potting compost should be used as this will contain all the nutrients your plants will need. They may be in the container for some time, so a regular feed with garden fertilizer will also boost the nutrients. Slow release pellets are very useful for container gardening.

Thirdly, consider the location of your container garden. Although your plants will need sunlight to thrive, too much sun and they may burn. Some plants prefer a more direct sunlight, while others prefer a sheltered spot. If unsure always read the growing instructions or seek advice from a garden nursery or online web site.

Once having decided on your container, your next step is to decide what to plant. This will depend very much on the climate of where you live, the size of the container you have chosen and the height you want your display to be.

If you wish to make the most of your container for the whole year, consider planting bulbs for the spring and then refilling your container with summer plants. A container filled with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will not only look beautiful, but smell fragrant too.

Other container gardening ideas for the Spring are bowls full of sweet perfumed Iris. They have beautifully formed blooms that range in color from yellows, blues, purples, deep reds and brown. Pansies and daisies are particularly good for an outdoor display of color at this time of year. These are also suited to a hanging container. A shallow container of crocuses can look stunning if tightly planted.

You may wish to have a color scheme for your container garden. Using gardening catalogues and garden magazines can often help you visualize how you want your container to look.

For a red hot look, sun loving nasturtiums make a long lasting easy to grow container garden display. Their vivid scarlet flowers combined with decorative foliage make nasturtiums a very popular choice. These can be planted along with other plants such as apricot verbena to compliment the reds.

Of course it may not be flowers you want to grow, herbs make ideal container gardening ideas. Having your own fresh herbs for your cooking is made very easy in a container. Containers for herbs are best if the herbs can be grown at several layers, but is not vital. To make your container herb garden, plant your herbs in Spring. If looked after well they could last for several years. Herbs such as parsley, sage, basil, chives and marjoram all make good container grown plants.

If you want a container garden that has some height, putting a garden obelisk or canes constructed as a wigwam into your container for plants to grow up can look quite stunning. Sweet peas will happily grow in a container and give you many sweet smelling flowers to cut. A clematis will also grow happily in a container. These come in a wide variety of colors and shapes and will last for many years. If using a container in this way, other plants can be planted around the base to give extra color, trailing plants such as petunias will give an all summer long display.

Care of your container garden is very important. Although container gardening is fairly simple your plants need to be cared for on a regular basis. Regular watering, especially in hot weather is essential. However, too much water can do as much damage to your plants as too little. Always check your plants need water with your fingertips before you water.

Container gardening is a very enjoyable activity to do and the results can be quite stunning. It is something that the whole family can enjoy and also makes wonderful gifts to give to family and friends for any occasion.

If you would like to know more click on GARDENING FOR NOVICES below.

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Seniors and Reverse Mortgages – Taking a Look at the Road Ahead

As “market weary” mortgage brokers look for a place to hang their hat, the Reverse Mortgage Industry seems like a good fit (and it is a good place to be!). The warning shot across the industry has already been fired- the message reads: ‘one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch’. Everyone who enters this highly regulated market needs to stand back and assess their true interest and reasoning for working with seniors, and for good reason. Senior law and senior needs are complicated at best. One wrong move by a well-meaning originator can disqualify a senior from much needed long-term care services down the road. That being said, there is a fantastic synergy between long-term care and the Reverse Mortgage product. It’s all about suitability and appropriate case design strategy.

Each senior and each family has their own set of issues, needs, and expectations for how the senior family member will live out their remaining days. Staying at home is obviously the first choice for most of us. Maintaining our independence and choice is just as important. Involving adult children of aging parents in this type of financial transaction is almost always a good idea- everyone needs to be on the same page.

Reverse Mortgages and Long-Term Care fit together in two ways:

Using Reverse Mortgage proceeds to pay for care that is needed in the home right now. Using Reverse Mortgage proceeds to pay for Long-Term Care Insurance premiums so that when care is needed in the future, the senior has coverage to receive care at home.

It’s important for all of us to understand what the true cost of care is in the U.S. today.

The national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home is $206, or $75,190 annually. The national average daily rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home is $183, or $66,795 annually. The national average hourly rate for home health aides is $19. For only 5 hours of care 7 days per week, the monthly average cost is $2660 per month or $31,920 annually. The national average hourly rate for homemakers/companions is $17. For only 5 hours of care 7 days per week, the monthly average cost is $2380 per month or $28,560 annually.

Privately paying for long-term care means that a senior would have to find an additional $28,560 to $75,190 per year in their budget for just ONE person to receive care. Most of us, seniors or not, could not afford to privately pay for our own care year after year.

Long-term care insurance will pay for in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care. This is the most appropriate and needed form of insurance protection available to us today. Long-term care insurance should be termed “lifestyle” insurance (it’s NOT nursing home insurance!).

Reverse mortgages (Home Equity Conversion Mortgages) have become one of the most popular and accepted way of paying for many different expenses, including the cost of long-term care. Reverse mortgages are designed to keep seniors at home longer. A reverse mortgage can pay for in-home care, home repair, home modification, and any other need a senior may have.

Example: The Stephenson Family Story

Jim and Sue Stephenson (ages 72 and 65) have lived in the same home in Des Moines, IA for 30 years. Admittedly, their home is less than senior friendly. Jim’s knee problems make it difficult for him to get up and down the stairs. He does not qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance.

He and his family know he is at a significant risk for falling. Their 2-story home is worth about $150,000 and is paid in full. They do not want to move at this time. Jim and Sue’s children have become increasingly worried about the two of them living at home without assistance.

After a one-hour consultation and some education on the options, the Stephenson’s decided to take action. Home modification and repair were one of their first priorities, but the repairs would be expensive. Jim and Sue decided to take out a reverse mortgage to help them afford the needed maintenance. They were able to receive approximately $71,000 from the equity in their home. They used the cash to install a stair lift for Jim ($2500). They also installed safety bars in all bathrooms and showers and installed a safety rail in the hallway for Jim to hold on to if needed ($800).

They then decided to purchase a personal emergency response system for their home in the event that Jim or Sue need additional assistance ($35/month). Sue and her children could feel comfortable leaving Jim at home for short periods of time – long enough to do the grocery shopping or run other errands. Jim and Sue’s children have peace of mind knowing their parents are safe.

Jim and Sue left the rest of the money from the reverse mortgage in a “line of credit” and will access it as needed for further repairs, maintenance or upgrades.

In this case, the Reverse Mortgage was absolutely an appropriate planning strategy for the Stephenson family.

Today many seniors who are healthy enough to qualify- are taking advantage of reverse mortgages to pay their long-term care insurance premiums.

Example: Affording Long-Term Care Insurance

Mary and Joe Brown live in St. Louis, Missouri and are both 65 years old. They own a home worth $200,000. Both are in good health. They are interested in a 5 year long-term care insurance plan, with compound inflation protection, and a 90-day elimination period (waiting period). They chose $150 per day coverage because they have other income and assets to make up for any shortfall. The average cost for a nursing home bed in 2008 is around $206 per day.

The annual premium total for both to have coverage is $5460.

The Browns are eligible to receive $605 per month for life from the equity in their home (a reverse mortgage), or a lump sum of $99, 657, or any combination of the two.

They can also leave the $99,657 in a line of credit.. This means that if they didn’t need the extra cash for any reason, they could take approximately $6328 annually out of their line of credit to pay for their long-term care insurance premium.

Alternatively, they could pay their monthly premium of $455 with the $605 monthly check that they would receive from the reverse mortgage lender.

Either way they have protected themselves from the catastrophic expense of long-term care without touching a penny of their savings, investments, or current income.

The Browns really wanted to give their children the value of their home as an inheritance. They were concerned that if they took out a reverse mortgage to pay for long-term care insurance, there wouldn’t be anything left over to give their children!

So in addition, the Browns increased the value of their estate for their heirs by purchasing a “2nd to Die” life insurance policy (which pays after both spouses have passed away) for $350,000. This leaves an inheritance of $350,000 for their heirs instead of the $200,000 home value. Plus, that inheritance of $350,000 is all tax free money for their heirs, and avoids probate.

Finally, it is important to remember that although Medicare is not affected by Reverse Mortgage proceeds, Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) is easily affected without proper planning. None of us know for sure what the future holds with regard to long-term care. However, when working with seniors who have no assets other than their home, and cannot qualify health-wise for long-term care insurance, beware of Medicaid qualifications looming down the road.

Dumping a lump sum of money from a Reverse Mortgage into the checking or savings account of a senior can have serious consequences with regard to Medicaid. They may end up being disqualified until that money is spent down to almost nothing. As stated from the beginning, senior laws and issues are complicated at best. Anyone who works with seniors, especially in the Reverse Mortgage Industry should brush up on some of the facts related to long-term care and Medicaid in their state. Network with senior service providers who deal with the law on a daily basis- including elder law attorneys, geriatric care managers, and long-term care insurance specialists. Those professionals are not only good referral sources but can help you be a better advocate for the seniors and families you serve.

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Home Based Business Online – Choosing Your Recipe For Success

Starting your homebased business can be compared to baking a cake.  Get all the correct ingredients together, whizz ‘em all up, throw ‘em in the oven, and hey presto – out comes the perfect cake.  If only!  If you have made the decision that your own home based online business is the way forward for your life, how do you choose your recipe for success? 

Although it would be nice to guarantee success online, the bottom line is that there are no guarantees – but there are essential ingredients that can set you up for success far quicker.

Ingredient 1) Find your own business.  Choosing something you are passionate about is a good idea.  If you enjoy working in your niche, you will keep coming back again and again, even when you don’t feel like it. 

Consider something totally new as well.  The challenges of learning a totally new subject will keep you absorbed and coming back for more. Throw in a “never give up, never quit” mindset, and you will overcome all the obstacles that a steep learning curve can throw at you.

Ingredient 2) Follow a daily “To-Do” list.  No matter how much time you have available to develop your online business, get yourself into the habit of working to a list and you will achieve far more than if you wake up and randomly decide what needs to done.  It will also have the added benefit of working definite steps toward your goal.

Ingredient 3)  Learn internet marketing.  It seems a bit obvious, but if you want success online, there are some things you just have to understand about the online world. Sadly, many people have no idea that there are certain skills you need to learn to be successful in selling online. 

For instance, do you know about: pay per click advertising, banner adverts, email marketing, article writing, how to use free ads, keyword research, search engine marketing? Blog marketing?

These are a few of the important strategies to learn if you want to sell successfully on line.

Obviously it is a process – it may take a year to really get some of the strategies safely under your belt, but who’s counting?  With the online marketing world you can earn as you learn and one of the best ways to do that is through an affiliate programme.

Affiliate programmes offer training and support to help get your business up and running really fast and producing good results.  Some offer a home business, which is a good way to start.  Learning new strategies can open up different ideas that may really appeal to you and lead to your very own micro-niche.

Taking your cake out of the oven before it is cooked leaves an inedible mess.  Starting a home based online business without learning the correct mix may leave you with an unsustainable mess.  If failure isn’t an option for you, click the following link. You can learn how to avoid expensive mistakes in building your own home based business online and choose your recipe for success  too.

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