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15 Tips to Start Successful EXPORT Business

Before You Export – Get Ready

1. Where to start?

Build A Corporate International Image
Your credibility is a key to your global success. Even if you run a small company, you should present yourself internationally as a solid and reliable potential partner.
Some little changes and touches will add considerably to your global appearance.
Adapt corporate stationery to your export activities – add international dial-up code and word “Australia” to contact details.

Develop company logo

Always sign out-coming correspondence indicating you job title, company name and contact details.

When talking to prospective buyers, don’t say “I” – always say “We” and so on.
Talk To Others
Investigate if there is any government programs or other assistance available. Talk to regional Austrade and Victorian Business Centre representatives.

Most likely, there are companies in your region, which sell similar (but not the same) products aboard. Do not hesitate to talk to them. Successful people are usually willing to share their knowledge and experience. Not only can they advise you on some important issues but also may be able to introduce you to key service providers and potential overseas buyers.

Learn About Export/Import Regulations And Terms Of Trade
Contact your industry association and relevant export authority and investigate if there are special requirements for your products to be exported. You may need a licence, export permit, veterinary or fito-sanitary certificate or have to meet some other export requirements.

Austrade and other export bodies will be able to advise you on import requirements and regulations that the selected market may have.

Contact the Consulate of the country you are going to export your products to and talk to the Trade Commissioner.

Spend some time to learn about terms of trade and delivery, methods of international payments, International Trade ethics and so on. You should be able to select the most favourable terms and clearly understand the benefits of these terms.

Hire experienced people or train your staff
Everyone in your company must know that from now on you are a global company. All export inquiries must be referred to appropriate personnel. Do not allow your secretary or a production manager to run your exports and act on your behalf or on behalf of your export manager.

Exporting is complex. It is essential that your staff know the difference between domestic and international sales and understand the rules and ethics of International Trade and most importantly terms of trade.

2. Go Online

Get a web site
Nowadays, having a corporate web site is a “must” in International Trade. Nine out of ten of your potential buyers will try to learn about your company and products through the Internet prior to approaching you and if they can’t find your web site, they may very well choose to deal with your competitors.

Get an online product catalogue and indicate your general terms of trade to the web site. Provide visitors with direct contact details. Introduce a facility to receive export inquiries. Try to develop a web site, which will not only represent your company and products but also will save your time and money.

Take advantage of the Internet
There are numerous free online trade boards, import-export directories, forums, etc. Spend some time and post online offers on these sites. Not only it will increase your chances of being found by potential buyers but also will add value to your web site’s Search Engine ranking.

3. Select And Evaluate Your Market

Data->Information->Knowledge->Wisdom
Given the number of markets worldwide, which might be showing high potential, the question arises as to how to select this market smartly.

Information is what you need to select an appropriate export market. And again, using Austrade, chamber of commerce, your industry association, relevant export authority and your colleagues might be of great assistance. Although nobody will give you direct advice, you can get much better knowledge of where to go global.

Statistical data analysis is essential when selecting the market. You can obtain lots of useful details from the Australian Bureau of Statistics or from commercial companies, which specialise in collecting international trade data. Some companies will be also able to provide you with very specific export/import data about products similar to yours and about most popular markets.

The Internet is a great source of information. Go online and browse the Internet. You wont find the exact answer, but I’m sure you’ll get some good ideas.

A good indication of the export opportunity is the number of inquiries from a particular market. If you receive significantly more inquiries from Korea than from any other market it may be a good sign that there is a significant demand for your products in Korea.

Australia’s geographical location plays a certain role in exports. Asian markets are much more attractive in terms of transportation costs and time. Asian customers are familiar with Australian products and quite often it is easier to negotiate better deals with Asian buyers.

Rapidly growing markets, such as China and India, are usually better targets for commencing export than developed countries.

And so on.

When selecting the market you should:
Know the market’s requirements

Assess your target customers

Examine your competitors

Be prepared to compete against lower-cost, lower-price local companies
Talk to Austrade’s local office
Austrade may assist you greatly in evaluating and entering the market. Do not ignore this option. When contacting Austrade’s local office, do it in writing preferably by fax. Introduce your company, indicate your interest and be specific in your inquiry.

Catch a plane!
Go to a target market personally and get a feel for local conditions. Do your homework before the trip:
Have a list of tasks you want to complete

Arrange a meeting with the Australian Trade Commissioner and several meetings with prospective buyers

Visit a few stores selling products similar to yours

Review competitor’s prices and analyse their pricing policy

Know current affairs and a little history and geography

Learn a little language
4. Understand that every market has different demands and changes every few years

I have deliberately emphasised this issue as a separate topic. To disregard it is one of the most common failures in International Trade. Your products may be highly demanded in one market and be absolutely unsaleable in another. The packaging you’ve introduced in US, most likely would be unattractive for Indonesians. Without an understanding of market trends and demands, its uniqueness, business traditions and people’s mentality it is “mission impossible” to successfully develop the market.

You also should understand that every market changes every few years. Technology, globalisation, privatisation, lifting of the trade barriers and softness in import/export regulations are the major factors, which affect International Trade. And while you might think that these factors are too global to bear in mind when considering your offshore activities, they will influence the market radically and you should adjust your marketing and export strategies according to the current situation.

5. Analyse, “Position” and Modify Your Products

Packaging optimisation for shipment
There are two major objectives in packaging optimisation in regard to shipment:
To reduce shipping costs and

To ensure safety
I used to export fruit juice to Moscow and had to allow up to 5% for damaged stock for each shipment. Because of several loadings/unloadings and temperature fluctuation, air penetrated the bottles and the juice was becoming spoiled.

The problem disappeared when the manufacturer agreed to introduce a special membrane sealing the tops of the bottles.

Packaging, Quality, Price
Australian goods are generally dearer than local produce. On the other hand, the “green & clean” image of Australian products is a great competitive advantage. You’ll be surprised that in International Trade the price is not really a decision making factor. If you sell FMCG, commonly packaging is the first priority, followed by quality and then price.

Be prepared to customise your products to meet customers’ needs
Domestic success of your products doesn’t ultimately mean global success. The major competitive advantage of Australian juice in Russia was the packaging – it was the only juice on the market packed in plastic bottles. However, after several months of sales I discovered that my target audience was very limited … due to the packaging. 90% of end-users simply could not afford to buy a 2L bottle. It took me almost a year to convince the manufacturer to launch 1L PET packaging, and after that my export sales increased by 80% within six months.

6. If You Fail To Plan, You Are Planning To Fail

Create unique marketing strategy
Professor Michael Porter of Harvard University said that a company doesn’t really have a strategy, if it performs the same activities as its competitors, only a little better. To be successful you should have a strategy, which has strong points of difference from your competitors’ strategies.

Develop a marketing plan for each market
Marketing plans don’t have to be a 100+ pages document with numerous tables and diagrams. Try to keep it brief and simple. At a minimum, every marketing plan should contain:
Market analysis

Marketing objectives and goals

Marketing strategy

Marketing action plan

Marketing controls
In other words, before entering a market you must clearly understand what has happened, what’s going on, what do you want to achieve, what do you need to do to achieve it, how are you going to do that, and what might happen.

It is essential to set up realistic market goals, distribute them to everyone within the company and constantly control the progress towards these goals.

Develop an export plan for each market
The common confusion within the business community is the view that marketing and selling are the same. That is not quite right. While selling is part of marketing, your export plan has different objectives and focuses on different tasks.

The export plan should include:

Export readiness analysis

Market Research

Product Development

Trade Regulations and Barriers Assessment

Export Strategy

Pricing

Terms of trade and payments

Logistics and distribution

Financing

After-sale strategy

Export sales forecast

Implementation plan
Set up export prices for each market
There are no rules in setting up export prices and nobody can tell you what is the “right” price. Furthermore, the price for the same product may vary significantly in different markets and most likely you would have several prices for the same product depending on the following factors:
Marketing strategy

Product uniqueness, quality and brand recognition

Quantity

Market trends and demand

Target customers and so on.
How a product is priced is crucial in getting the buyer’s attention, before the buyer becomes familiar with the quality of the product, delivery and service.
Your goal in establishing export price is to be able to sell maximum quantity with maximum profit margin.

SWOT analysis
It is a good idea to start your planning with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Having a list of SW and a list of OT would help you to understand which matters require attention.

Develop a problem solving plan
Delays, damages, quality complaints, stealing, non-payments sometimes happen in International Trade. A detailed problem-solving plan is a vital part of business planning.

7. Build A Network

Exporting is Teamwork
You are not able to conduct an international transaction on your own. There are always several participants who play an important role in your export operations. You’ll be surprised, but usually you can find all you need in your region.

Write down a list of services you need to be provided for your global activities. This list as a matter of fact should be very close to your supply chain plan.

Do you need to open a bank account in US dollars or are you going to receive payments under letters of credit? Then go and introduce your company and yourself to a local international banker.

Extra Tip. It is not necessary to do international banking through the bank you are dealing with domestically. Select the bank with the greater international presence and with the wider network of corresponding foreign banks. The best-case scenario is when your bank has a corresponding bank in the country of your interest.

Do your products require to be certified? Talk to the industry association; export authority or certification company representative and build a personal relationship.

Need insurance cover? Major insurance companies deal through agents. Try to find an insurance broker, who deals with a reliable marine insurance underwriter, in your hometown and build a personal relationship.

A responsible freight forwarder is a key player in your exports. Pay extra attention to selecting a shipper for your goods and again build a personal relationship.

Never stop building your network. The more reliable business partners you get, the less troubles you will have.

Do not concentrate on management only, but also on key personnel
A small present to a secretary or to the employee, who is in charge of your bills of lading, may pay you back greatly and unexpectedly in the future.

When You Export – Market From Strength

8. Develop “Export Inquiries Handling Rules”

Respond in 48 hours
You’ll be surprised by your potential buyers expectations in regards to receiving replies to their inquiries. Especially when you are dealing with Asian or Middle Eastern customers. They send you an e-mail and then call you in a couple of hours later demanding a reply.

We have recently received an inquiry from Kuwait. The initial e-mail came through on Sunday. On Monday morning I had a reminder, in the afternoon – a warning demanding an immediate respond and on Tuesday morning – a phone call from Kuwait. And if you think that that was an urgent matter, it wasn’t. An advertising company acting on behalf of its client wanted to discuss the possibility to promote their business at Export61.

Learn to recognise “genuine” inquiries and beware of the “dream” orders
As a rule, a “genuine” inquiry has a brief introduction, is fairly specific and must have company name, contact name and contact details.

If you clearly understand that an inquiry you received isn’t worth an answer, just ignore it. For example, if you sell oranges and somebody ask you to provide an export quotation for bearings or if a foreign company is looking for a wide range of Australian food products without any further details, most likely these inquiries will take you nowhere.

There are quite a few companies and individuals out there, who are just playing in International Trade. So if you received an inquiry for the supply of 50,000 tons of table grapes, you can simply throw it out and never reply.

Check Your Counterpart
Before any serious negotiations you should try to check your potential buyer. Go online and try to find some information on the Internet, again – contact Austrade’s local office, ask for banking details and contact the foreign bank, ask for referrals and so on.

9. Negotiating Is An Art

Make allowances
Your buyers will be pleased if they manage to negotiate considerable discounts. Don’t disappoint them. Include at least 10% in your export price list for negotiations. By discounting the price you’ll be able to gain better terms. However, you have to be careful with allowances. If the price is too high you may never get a buyer at all.

Learn about cultural differences
You may offend your potential buyers if you fail to learn about cultural differences especially in the Middle East and Asia.

For example, you wouldn’t ask about your host’s wife if you have been invited to visit your counterpart’s home in the Middle East.

In Asia, if you are invited to a business lunch you should be prepared for a 1-2 hours conversation, which has nothing to do with your prospective deal. You’ll be asked about your family, childhood, hobbies, favourite food, etc. and you should react accordingly. Asian people want to know whom they are dealing with before any business discussion.

All oral agreements must be confirmed in writing
This has to be one of the “golden rules” of your operations. You must have a written confirmation of agreed terms on hand before you act. A promise “to send you a written confirmation tomorrow” is not good enough.

Exclusivity is possible but not before you know your buyer
Lots of potential buyers will ask you for the exclusive rights to represent your products or company in a particular market before they start trading with you. Don’t decline this possibility, declare that you are open for a discussion but also get to know each other, establish a relationship, test the market and so on.

When you agree to provide exclusive rights to a foreign company, you should consider which conditions are to be included in the exclusivity agreement.

First of all, do not sign such agreements for longer than a year. If you are happy with your sales, you can always prolong it.

You should require that a certain quantity of your goods would be sold in a certain period of time, say 4 to 6 months, with the possibility to terminate the agreement if the buyer is not able to meet this condition.

The value of the first order is another issue to consider when negotiating exclusivity. 20% of the agreed yearly quantity prepaid is considered to be a fair deal.

If you need a translator – get a good one
Sometimes buyers may require signing a bi-lingual contract. In this case, the accuracy of business translation is crucial. Varied use of terminology in different countries can have an entirely different meaning and cause costly disputes.

10. Be Aware Of Frauds

Some people in International Trade are making a living out of frauds. The most known schemes are non-payments, samples and complaints.

You may very well secure the payment for your products if you do your homework and select the right terms of payments, but it’s much harder to protect your business from the other two.

A good indication that something is not quite right is a request for samples in the very first inquiry. The quantity of samples is another issue to consider. If somebody asks you to send 2 cartons of wine as a sample, it just doesn’t sound right, does it?

False complaints are common and very hard to recognise as scams. The best way to protect your company against these problems is to include a very detailed “complaint clause” in the contract.

After You Export – Add Value

11. Be Market- And Customer- Focused

Build a strong business relationship
This is a cliché. Everyone says that, because you cannot avoid it in your business operations. I just want to add a suggestion of not ignoring small issues in building business relationships. Believe me that if you send a postcard or even an e-mail on major national holydays and on key personnel birthdays, that adds considerably to the relationship.

Win buyers through better service
Remember that the key attributes of every service are
Speed

Cordiality

Knowledge and

Problem solving
Win buyers through exceeding expectations
Philip Kotler, the author of several well known marketing books said: “Meeting customer expectations will only satisfy customers; exceeding their expectation will delight them”.

However, there is a pitfall that the better you act, the higher expectations your customer has and one day you find that the task of exceeding the expectation is too difficult and too costly. You should decide where to draw the line between exceeding the expectation and making profit.

12. Be Prepared To Meet Growing Demand

If you take into account all the above issues than most likely your products will be successful internationally and the demand for them will be increasing. If you can’t meet the demand you risk losing the whole market. People are not interested in dealing with you if there is no future growth. Be ready to increase production or to outsource similar products elsewhere.

Always

13. Be Prepared To Spend Time And Money

Generally, investments in international markets are greater than domestic investments. Furthermore, exploring foreign markets can take longer and cost more than expected.

14. Make Decisions On A Commercial Ground

Making decisions on a commercial ground does not necessarily mean that your profit has to be the only element to consider. However, you should clearly understand what benefits you get by reducing your profit margin or spending all profit on offshore marketing.

15. Don’t Try Too Much At The Beginning And Don’t Grow Too Fast

Concentrate on one market at a time, moving on to the next only after succeeding in the last. Wait until cash flow is good enough to justify your expansion.
by Joseph Zaritski.

A Dozen Tips for Starting an IMPORT/EXPORT Business

 

Thinking of starting an import/export business?
Jennifer Henzel, a Certified Import/Export Trade Professional offers these tips for getting started:

1. Many countries have set up offices (Consulates or Embassies) in foreign countries to promote the exporting of their goods. The Consulates will supply you with industry directories and more. Embassies are located in a nation’s capital and Consulates in different cities. In many cases, the Embassy web site will contain directories and manufacturer lists, as well as an email link that you can use for sourcing

2. To import goods, communicate with that country’s Consulate situated in your own country. If you are uncertain what products the other country wants, you can obtain catalogues and lists of manufacturers.

3. Contact your country’s taxation department to ask about registration numbers or other procedures that you must follow. For example, if you are Canadian, you will require a Registration Number, issued by Canada Customs and Taxation Agency (CATA). When you inform CCTA of your plans to import or export, they issue an extension to your business number. This number is used on all related documents.

4. Find out about licensing requirements, if any. Many countries do not have licensing requirements for most products. However, if you are importing or exporting high-risk products (pharmaceuticals, liquor, chemicals, arms, certain food items and certain articles of apparel), you might need a license. “I strongly recommend that people start out with low risk items that can be easily traded and have fewer barrierslike giftware and consumer items,” said Henzel. “Certain industries, like dairy, are guarded by lobby groups in some countries. You will be faced with quotas and restrictions.”

5. Embargoes are trade barriers set up against other countries. Many countries have embargoes against Cuba, for example. First, contact your own government to determine whether there are restrictions or embargoes against the country you are considering. Next, contact that country’s Consulate or Embassy to see if there are restrictions against goods from your country.

6. Participate in the local Boards of Trades (or Chambers of Commerce if there is no local Board of Trade). In addition to networking, you have access to research libraries and other resources that will offer good trade information.

7. Use customs brokers. “Small businesses attempting their own paperwork can run into delays at borders. If you make a mistake, you can be fined,” said Henzel. “A custom broker’s service is well worth the fee you pay.”

8. When exporting, understand that there is no one solution to shipping and customs handling that will work in every situation. Every deal is different. Each company and each set of products will require a different set of services, or a combination of services. Engaging the services of a freight forwarder is one possibility. Freight forwarders arrange shipping and customs for goods going to other countries. “You have to shop for these services and do your research,” Henzel explained. “Ask a lot of questions. It’s no different than buying a piece of furniture. You shop around first.”

9. Be familiar with Incoterms, as posted to the International Chamber of Commerce Web Site (http://www.iccwbo.org/index_incoterms.asp). Incoterms are standard trade definitions that dictate the shipping and payment responsibilities of each party. The two companies involved negotiate Incoterms for each deal. The best known Incoterms include EXW (Ex works), FOB (Free on Board), CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight), DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid), and CPT (Carriage Paid To). “You negotiate according to the Incoterms,” Henzel said. “You decide who pays for shipping, who pays for insurance, etc.”

10. Consult your bank for information about Letters of Credit, the most common form of payment when trading internationally. With a Letter of Credit, you minimize your risk because the banks assure that the goods are delivered before the money is exchanged. As an importer, a Letter of Credit reduces the risk of having to pay in advance for goods, or of paying for goods that are inconsistent with the product description in the Letter. As an exporter, you have the buyer’s bank’s assurance that you will receive payment provided you ship the goods as specified within an agreed-upon time.

11. Participate in Trade Missions. Consult your Board of Trade or local Chamber of Commerce to discover what is available.

12. Finally, look to the Web for information about international trade. Many web sites offer an array of information that you can access for no charge.
by: June Campbell

Why Do People Go Bankrupt?

 

#1 Bad luck
Let’s face it, sometimes, no matter what you do, you can fall prey to bad karma. Stuff happens beyond our control and the saying “bad stuff comes in threes” was made up for a reason. You may have all the resources you thought you needed to build your financial buffers, but when unexpected disasters befall you one after another, those resources dwindle and vanish. The #1 reason for bankruptcy in America, responsible for more than half of bankruptcies filed nation-wide, happens to be ill or failing health. Medical and health problems cause a legion of other issues such as unemployment and large medical bills that can easily cripple your bank account. These are other events that can wipe you out even if you are reasonably well off: accidents, natural disasters, economic shifts, even crime. A loss of income brought about by any sudden event can do that damage. The question is, how formidable is your financial fortress so that despite the gravity of any situation, you’re still able to get back on your feet and recover. Don’t let that fortress be a house of cards.

#2 Lack of preparation
Depending on how well prepared you are with handling unexpected, unpredictable and undesirable situations that cost a lot of money, you’ll be able to determine if you sink or swim with the consequences of misfortune. How thick are those walls you built around your pocket book? This is where emergency funds, insurance policies and estate planning enter the picture. Part of a sound financial plan is to make sure the caulking is tight and you’ve got a strong defense to protect your assets and valuables. For instance, do you have enough savings to tide you over the next tax season? There are those who’ve gone bankrupt when the IRS decided to pound them with penalties along with their accumulated back taxes.

#3 Foolish financial mistakes or other decisions gone wrong
We can certainly blame the heavens or bad karma for our losses, but many causes for bankruptcy do stem from our own actions. The rest of the reasons I can think of, such as divorce, bad relationships, massive debt, overextension, gambling, self-destructive behavior, business and job losses are within our control to avoid or even just to mitigate. Being on any side of a financial crime will take you down as well, so don’t get into that suspicious sounding investment, join in that Ponzi scheme, nor even think of perpetrating something that sounds remotely too good to be true. As they say, there’s no such thing. Either way, you’re bound to lose big.

To put things into perspective, here are some interesting facts about bankruptcy, thanks to Bankruptcy Action. I’m reprinting some of their data here.
by Silicon Valley Blogger

8 Debt Signals that Tell You How Serious is Your Debt

Synopsis: People can’t get out of debt because they don’t know or care about how serious their debts are. It is usually too late the time they realize this.

In this article, I also want to talk about another mindset preparation – knowing how serious your debts are. In most cases, people tends to avoid the issue of debts simply because they don’t know how serious their debts and financials are. They just don’t know they are living around the cliff and under the hot water. Because of this, most people don’t really take any actions or care about their finance until the problem becomes big enough to catch their attention. I saw a lot of people never control their expenses or manage their money even they are in deep debt. It is really hurt to see that they keep buying unnecessary items while they should use the money to pay off their debts. All this because of they never pay attention on the debts signals.

The Debts Signals

So below are some of the signals that are trying to tell you – You are in debt and please pay attention on it! However, this is also the signals that people try to avoid and deny
1.High Minimum Payment. If your minimum payments of all your debts are more than 20% of your income, then your debts are too big.
2.You only able to pay minimum payment. Each month you only able to pay the minimum payment for your debt. In this condition, you are fully become a debt slave for the creditors.
3.Cash and Debt Ratio is deeply negative. One of the features I found from Mint.com, a free online money management tool, is the cash VS Debt ratio. It simply shows you the ratio between cash in your accounts and your debts. If it is deeply negative, you are in risk.
4.You can’t charge your credit card anymore. You already used up all the credit available in your credit card until you can’t charge anymore. You are 100% deeply in debts.
5.Looking for a second income/job/business to pay your credit cards. Your main income is not enough to cover both your living expenses and debts.
6.Creditors are calling you. Your creditors know how “good” your account is. If they are calling you, you are in financial trouble.
7.You are living credit card to credit card. You can’t live without a credit card because you have no cash on hands. In fact, this is a cycle where you keep on charging your credit card and keep adding the debt while you still lack of cash on hands.
8.You are worry and avoid looking at your bills. I believe that we can feel the level of our personal finance. So if you are worry or always avoid opening your bills and looking at the figure, actually your subconscious is telling you that you are in danger. So stop cheating yourself and face the problem directly.
As you know, a debt is a cycle. If you don’t do anything, you just get deeper in debt from time to time until you have to declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not a joke because it just a “hell of money” for your life. So before this, please pay attention on every signal that your debts are giving you, feel it and take action to get out of it. It never too late if you start today! In fact you have no reasons to delay or procrastinate, have you?

by Finandom.com

Tips on Starting a HANDICRAFT Business

 

The handicraft industry is showing signs of growth due to increases in:

The number of people who want to personalize their surroundings with original handmade items which are often functional as well as eye-catching and more affordable than other types of artwork such as paintings.

The number and variety of handicraft courses which grant an appreciation for the skill, time and money needed to produce high quality craftwork.

Tourists who are now purchasing unique cultural items for their own personal use, rather than small souvenirs for family and friends.

Before Starting

Whether part-time or full-time, starting a craft business offers two possibilities: (1) the production of handicrafts, (2) the selling of handicrafts. This factsheet focuses on producing handicrafts. However, before starting either type of operation:
Know with some certainty that people will want and will buy your handicrafts.

Understand all the requirements and have reserve capital to meet expenses before you are able to produce sales and earn a profit.

Understand the basics of managing, bookkeeping, purchasing and advertising.
Studio Design and Location

Your studio must fit your needs in terms of size, services, security and safety. Aim for efficiency, while creating a pleasing space to work in and visit. Consider a home studio. Register a business name and mailing address and get a separate business phone line. This allows you to:
1.Operate with lower overhead and start with a smaller amount of capital.

2.Work flexible hours and begin on a part-time basis.

3.Claim a portion of home expenses as tax deductions.

4.Eliminate travel time and hassle.

5.If operating at home is not an option, consider leasing a separate location. Consult with a lawyer before signing any lease agreement. Locate in an area with lots of traffic and convenient parking. Make sure that any noises, fumes and traffic you generate in your work do not affect your neighbors. Also ensure that the building:

Offers room to expand, shelving and storage space, an office and visitors area, wide doors to accommodate materials and suitable pick-up/delivery areas.

Has an efficient electrical service and ventilation system, especially if you use kilns or toxic solvents, plastics or chemical dyes.

Selling Your Crafts

You can sell your crafts directly from your studio, or through:
Retail stores
Specialty craft, gift, or department stores are the most popular ways of selling crafts, especially if you produce in limited quantities. Stores usually sell your work at double your price. Craft stores have traditionally sold mostly on consignment they pay you only after they sell your work, keeping 30-40%. This is changing though as artisans gain more business experience. Be careful with terms and conditions of consignment sales.
Galleries

Choose respected, well-known galleries. Put all agreements in writing before delivering your work. Ask for an individual showing. These are usually done on a consignment basis, with the gallery keeping up to 50%. You may be asked to pay for invitations or refreshments.

Agents

Agents are not commonly used for handicrafts but in certain cases, they can help to promote and expose your work. Commissions usually range between 20 and 50%.

Prices

When pricing your handicrafts:
Cost approach: add up all your expenses, including raw materials, labor and overhead costs such as rent, heating, advertising, as well as a factor for profit.

Comparative approach: talk to other artisans and retailers; compare the prices of similar items in stores and galleries.

Select a price from within the price range formed by the approaches in steps 1 and 2.
Purchasing Materials
Find suppliers of materials by checking the Yellow Pages, trade magazines and local craft associations and organizations.

Compare prices, shipping costs and volume purchase discounts.

Plan in advance, combine orders and ‘group-purchase’ with other artisans.

Take advantage of possible sales tax exemptions if buying in large quantities.
Advertising

A reputation for fine work is the best form of advertising. When getting started however, consider these methods:
Rent display space at a shopping mall for a weekend.

Hold open houses which can also be helpful for developing mailing lists.

Design business cards and pamphlets which describe and illustrate your work.

Send press releases to the feature editors of newspapers and magazines.

Build a portfolio of photographed pieces, which can be particularly effective when meeting with gallery owners, retailers, architects or interior designers.

Enter competitions which offer exposure and often some compensation.
Copyright and Trademarks

Copyright – Intellectual property code of the Philippines [republic act no. 8293]. An act prescribing the intellectual property code and establishing the intellectual property office, providing for its powers and functions, and for other purposes.

Trademarks – A trademark is a word, mark, distinctive coloring or finishing method that distinctly identifies the origin or ownership of an item and is legally reserved for the exclusive use of the owner.

Labeling is a powerful marketing tool in convincing consumers to buy your product. Therefore, making the labeling information clear and relevant to the needs of consumers can be a vital step toward consumer patronage.

As a State policy, government is enforcing compulsory labeling to enable consumers to get accurate information as to the nature, quality and quantity of the contents of consumer products. Minimum labeling requirements have been imposed for businesses to comply with: such as registered trade or brand name, the business name and address of the manufacturer or importer, the general make or active ingredients, the net quantity of contents, and the country of manufacture.

Human Resources

If your handicraft business expands, you must be able to hire and keep excellent employees. Educate yourself in all areas of human resources — how to recruit, interview, motivate, train and develop personnel policies (wages, benefits). Promote continuous training and upgrading through related courses and programs.
by cbsc.org

8 Tips to Start as a Freelance DIGITAL ARTIST

We know there are plenty of people out there making so much money doing freelancing that neither do they need to work being hired by someone , nor they seek work any longer . Why you ask? Because now the works comes to them. First thing first if you are thinking of starting doing photography or illustration freelance work for your self here are a couple of things step by step you would like to work upon

1-Create Portfolio

Create your portfolio, people want to know what you have done already. No one wants to buy word of mouth ….people want to see what you have done. Biggest mistake I myself have done in the past was that I didn’t get time to create my own portfolio at one place as well. It was completely scattered . My advice to you would be to place everything at one professional place buy a domain name, brand yourself and showcase your work. This is to show a professional side of you which shows you are capable of doing and handling jobs.

2-Go Social

The most important thing a freelancer has to face is to get the word out, let people know that you are available for work and hire. So one must let the world know that you are there and you are available. Most of all show the world your abilities and what you are capable of doing . You need to show people friendly side of you as well. These days every next person needs a logo , a button a banner on these social networking sites . A user with less or none graphic ability would drool over heavy and nicely presented social pages these are the people who are not only willing to pay but it is a good start for a freelance designer to get work and get to know people and most of all get some experience and expand portfolio .

3-Be a Provider

Till now you have been doing work as told and as wanted, be your own boss and become a provider. As a designer you would go all the time to download the works of other artists , I don’t find any harm in placing your works on these stock agencies as well which pays regularly besides your regular income.

4-creating logos/Banners

For me Creating Logo is one thing that opens up your mind more than anything, in the start do this for friends. Create logos for friends, and fellow bloggers or my spacers . It hurts no one to receive a low cost or free logo and even if they don’t use it you have put your effort in and giving yourself small targets like this everyday .

5-selling illustrations

Yes !…do illustration portraits , create avatars or simply artistic illustrative artwork. Sell these illustrations as prints…… there are many compnies out there who do all the hasstle work for you and you can relax and be creative. You can sell the same work over and over on different sites . For example create images and illustrations sell them on stock agencies , use these illustrations to create Mugs , greetings , prints or shirts on dealer websites. Set yourself a task of creating 4-5 illustrations one week and spend the next week submitting and creating products with them.

6- Selling artwork

Sell artwork through your blog or your own website by using any of these helpful merchant softwares. Paypal is itself as easy to set up and integrate as E-junkie is . Have your prints printed and then sell them on ebay or Etsy to get a good price.

7-Make reusable resources

Look back and see what you have been creating . I believe that every designer finds a set of tools and resources that works best for him . These tools and resources can be of any form , ie brushes , symbols or series of images which always come handy in those times when your creative spirits are low. Try to resell these resources making them your own.

8-Free Services

Last but not the least Most of all offer free services once in a while through your blog or myspace a person who came to get that 125×125 ad box for free next time wants a banner he will know where to go then.. J
By 180Degree

Top 10 Reasons People Spend More Than They Earn

Rule #1 of financial freedom is spending less than you earn. If you can’t do that, you’ll never be financially successful no matter how hard you work, how many hours you put in, how many promotions you receive, or how much money you make.

It’s a simple rule, and most would consider it common sense. But, the U.S. has a negative savings rate, meaning this common sense rule may not be so common place. I recently saw a statistic that claimed that about 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year.

It’s helpful to understand why people over spend, and be aware of any that might apply to you.

10.Keeping up with the Jones’ – Psychology plays a big role in our spending habits. We want to feel as successful or more successful than those around us. We spend a lot of money to keep up that image. The reality is, the neighbors probably can’t afford that new boat either.

9. Avoiding the truth – It’s easy to overspend when you don’t keep tabs on how much you have. People will go for years unaware of their true financial situation because they’re afraid to look at what kind of mess they are in. It’s easier (temporarily) to just avoid it. They’ll pay their minimums and add new credit cards as necessary ignoring the growing debt total.

8. Counting the chickens before they hatch – In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold made a large down-payment on his swimming pool expecting that his upcoming Christmas bonus would cover it. Instead, he was enrolled in a Jelly of the Month club. We are often similarly optimistic about incoming money. It’s spent before it’s received, and it’s often not as much as was expected nor received when expected.

7. Plastic doesn’t feel like real money – It’s common to spend more when using credit cards than cash. The experience of hading over a card that you get back is just not the same as handing over some cold hard cash and seeing it disappear.

6. Immediate gratification – It’s all around us. We’re bombarded with the immediate gratification mentality. “Instant pain relief”, “fast food”, “on demand video”, and the big financial one, “buy now, pay later”. We’re too used to getting what we want now even if we don’t know how we’ll pay later.

5. Lifestyle maintenance – Most people increase their expenses as quickly as they increase their income. The same cannot be said for decreases in income. Once we become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it’s pretty difficult to cut back, even if our financial situation changes for the worse.

4. Poor as a child – Whether they’re trying to make up for their deprivation as a child, a fear of money being taken away that isn’t spent immediately, or a lack of financial understanding, being poor as a child is an often used excuse of overspending adults.

3. Sense of power – Spending money actually makes some people feel powerful. The more they spend, the more powerful they feel, and the only way to get that rush is to spend more money.

2. Prove self worth – Buying that fancy new car proves you are somebody, right? For some people spending makes them feel like they are worth something to the world.

1. Can’t say no – Some people feel like a failure when they can’t meet the wants of others. Whether it’s new toys for the kids, new outfit for the spouse, or a night out with the friends, some people just can’t say no, even when they can’t afford to say yes.

Written by Clint

Managing Your Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Get Out Of Debt

You’ve seen it everywhere … Track Your Spending … and it sounds like a good idea but how do you do it where it doesn’t take all day?

Here are some tips on managing your spending that will help you understand the process that will only take 10 minutes a day to help you get out of debt.

First thing you have to do is understand you have a problem; if you don’t admit to having a spending problem (which means you don’t know where your money is going) then you won’t be successful in using this process to get out of debt. Which also likely means you won’t get out of debt, you will continue to spiral deeper and deeper into debt until you have no recourse but to file bankruptcy.

Tracking your spending isn’t as hard as it sounds; and certainly doesn’t take more than 10 minutes a day to do it properly.

The How To Of Managing Your Spending

You can use one of several different ways to track everything such as:

1. Keep a small 3×5 notebook with you to write in each time you spend
2. Get a receipt each time you spend & log them into a tracking sheet each day
3. Use a special budget register to keep track of all spending & carry it with you
4. Use a software program to track your expenses

Managing Your Spending With A Notebook

The 3×5 Notebook is a very inexpensive and easy to do way of writing expenses; the problem with it is you still have to sort through all your notes in order to categorize and total your spending on a monthly basis. You can minimize this by setting up a series of pages in your notebook by category. This will help keep your notes organized and easier to calculate.

Managing Your Spending With Receipts

Getting a receipt each time you spend money isn’t that hard; making sure you don’t lose them is something else however. Just be sure and keep them in one place (perhaps a small envelope in your wallet or purse). This is what I do all the time; have for several years now and it works great for me. I’ve even trained hubby and the kids to get receipts for everything they spend as well! Each evening I enter the receipts into my tracking spreadsheet and know exactly where our money is going and how much is left.

I’ve set these worksheets up with basic categories to keep tracking simple. The categories are:
Housing (Rent or mortgage, utilities, maintenance, house/rental insurance, etc.)

Transportation (Bus, subway, or cab fare; car payment, car insurance, gas, maintenance, etc.)

Medical (Health insurance as well as any medical related expenses)

Personal Care & Allowances (Clothing, haircuts, child care, allowances, etc.)

Groceries & Sundries (Over the counter products, food, cleaning supplies, etc.)

Entertainment (Going out; renting videos, vacations, etc.)

Debt Payments (All other debt payments not included above)

Other (Anything not fitting in a category above)

Recommended Ways of Managing Your Spending

If you prefer something that is easier to carry with you, I recommend Budgetmap. It is a check register that will replace your regular checking account register. It opens up into a spreadsheet with columns you can use to track your cash, checking and other balances, as well as spread your expenses to the proper category. This particular tool can go a long way in helping you stay organized and on track in your goal to get out of debt.

Now, if you are more into software that does the calculations for you after you make a few entries, then you just have to try Mvelopes. This online tool will help you set up your budget, track your spending, compare your spending with your budget, and also download your bank account activity so you don’t have to make the entries yourself. Definitely try it out, as it makes budgeting and tracking absolutely simple!

by DebtSteps.com

12 Tips for Your DESIGN Business

1. Always Get Paid

Be sure to get a deposit before starting a project and never send the final files until the remaining balance has been paid.

2. Don’t Work For Chicken Scratch

Don’t low ball yourself. At first its tempting to take jobs for low prices, but sooner than later you will need to make sure you are charging enough to cover all your expenses.

3. Make Everything Clear

Establish a time line and any other project specifications and deadlines upfront.

4. Get it all in Writing

Save all your emails and get anything you can in writing; such as clients signing off on projects and project agreements.

5. Save Everything

Save all your receipts and print out anything you buy online for tax purposes.

6. Organization is Essential

Be as organized as possible. Keep a folder for every project and client and clean your office and computer at least once a week.

7. Backup, Backup, Backup!

Back up all of your files and then back them up again.

8. Behave in Professional Manner

Be honest, helpful and never leave a client unhappy. Referrals are a big part of business and happy clients will recommend you left and right.

9. Don’t Overwork Yourself

Stick to your normal office hours. If you work from home its easy to get caught up working and making phone calls late at night and clients will get used to this.

10. Never Stop Networking

Network with other designers, programmers and other skilled people. This will enable you to outsource work and get help when you need it.

11. Never Stop Marketing

No matter how busy you are at the current time you never know when a dry spell might come along. Always keep promoting your business site and never stop looking for new clients.

12. Knowledge is Power

Never stop Learning. You should always be building up your list of bookmarks, blogs, websites and other resources so you can be on the top of your game.

by Gino

Smart tips for managing your debt

Debt is not always a bad thing. Taking out a loan can make it possible to buy a home, purchase a new car or send your child to college. However, building up too much debt—and failing to manage your outstanding balances wisely—can be costly mistakes, according to The Ohio Society of CPAs. Many American families have allowed their debt to get out of control, but there are smart steps you can take to remedy the problem.

Consider consolidation

People often accumulate various debts over the years and end up paying off many small loans that all carry different interest rates. Consolidating all of these debts into one loan may be a better choice. When you consolidate, you take out one large loan and use it to pay off the smaller ones. While this can be a great convenience, remember that you should only take out a consolidation loan if you can find an attractive, low interest rate, which will allow you to pay less in finance charges and which will translate into a lower monthly payment.

If you want to consolidate your debt, your choices include taking a bank loan or transferring your outstanding balances to a credit card with a low interest rate. You can also take out a home equity loan, which usually features a low rate as well as tax advantages, because you can deduct the interest on a qualifying home equity loan up to $100,000. No matter what your choice, be sure that you use the consolidation loan for its intended purpose rather than spending the money on new purchases. And if you consolidate using a home equity loan, remember that you could potentially lose your home if you fail to pay it off. Consider carefully whether you will be able to make your payments before risking your home ownership.

Choose the best credit card

If you are carrying consumer debt on a credit card, make sure that you are paying the lowest rate possible on the outstanding balance. Low interest payments will be particularly important if you plan to carry a balance, transfer debt from another card or get a cash advance, because that interest will add up over time until you pay off your balance. Find out, too, about other charges such as annual fees or penalties for late payments. If you’re interested in getting rewards or rebates, check to see whether the card provides them, when they apply and when they expire. To evaluate your choices, create a chart with the name of each card issuer across the top and details—interest rates, fees, penalties—listed vertically down the page. The chart will help you narrow your options and pick the best card for you.

Make a new plan

Debt consolidation and lowering your interest rates are great steps, but it’s important, too, to ensure that you don’t slide into debt again. Take time to analyze your current situation and consider whether you need to change your spending habits to avoid taking on more debt in the future. Creating an emergency fund can help to safeguard your finances when illness or loss of a job strikes. If day-to-day overspending is the culprit, take time to create a budget and then make sure your purchases do not exceed the amount you budgeted.

Consult an expert

Your local CPA can help you assess consolidation loans or compare your borrowing options. He or she can also provide advice on how to create a budget so that you can live within your income. Contact your CPA today for advice on questions about managing your debt or any other financial issues.


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