Home Business Ideas and Opportunities

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Legal Protection Tips for Your Home-Based Business

Legal Protection Tips for Your Home-Based BusinessHome-based business owners have to juggle many aspects to keep their business running. The last thing they need is to be faced with a lawsuit. However, in today’s litigious society, there is a high likelihood that either a customer or the federal authorities may threaten a home-based business with court action.

Looking at the reasons behind many such lawsuits, legal counselors have noted one key aspect: these lawsuits could have been prevented. In many situations, a simple misunderstanding can escalate beyond control; in others, failure to keep track of paperwork will result in a lawsuit. Such a legal action can potentially ruin your small business. Lawsuits are expensive and, even if you win, you would have spent lots of time preparing your defense and appearing in court, neglecting your business.

This is why today we will share some of the most effective ways in which you can protect your business from being sued. Please remember, though, that the advice included in this article does not represent legal counseling. Before taking any action, you should always seek advice from a licensed attorney.

1. Put Everything in Writing
Never engage in any activity on behalf of a customer without a written and signed agreement. This agreement should state clearly the scope of the services, the price, the duration of the agreement, the parties’ rights and obligations and the limit of liability. This agreement will be your strongest defense weapon if a customer tries to sue you for failure to perform the services adequately or if they refuse to pay for your services.

Agreements are also required by the law to justify billing your customers for services. This is why you should create and maintain a rigorous filing system and keep track of all the documents.

2. Keep Your Business Insured at All Times
Be very careful about your business insurance policies. Create alerts and reminders for renewing them. One single day when you are not covered by insurance is all it takes to be taken to court by a customer. If you receive customers in your house, to pick up their orders for example, you need a third party general liability insurance (for example, if a customer slips and falls on your property they can sue you for medical expenses).

If you provide consulting services, you should purchase insurance that protects you from errors and omissions in the advice you gave your customer. This insurance is called a professional liability policy.

3. Know the Laws in Your State
General business advice websites offer tips and advice encompassing a large spectrum of issues, but they rarely go in depth on a state by state basis. Therefore, reading advice on the type of licensing you need for your business should serve you as initial guidance. Your local city or county council office is the place you must go to in order to find out all the documents and permits you actually need.

4. Trademark Your Intellectual Property
Your unique business name, tag line, motto, and proprietary method of working belong to you in the eyes of the law only if you have a trademark over them. A copycat could steal your idea, trademark it and then legally prevent you from using it. It is one of those things which so few business owners remember to do and they end up being caught in legal battles and unable to prove that they are the originators of that idea. Yes, it costs some hundreds of dollars, but in the future your trademark may be worth millions. Protect it at all costs.

5. Keep Your Business and Personal Assets Separate
This is something we have advised before, and will keep doing so until no home-based business owner receives a single payment from customers into their personal accounts. For some people, it may seem more convenient to keep their money together. Or to buy a new computer for their business in their personal name. If you do not have a clear, traceable separation between what you, as a person, own and what your business owns, a judge could award your personal assets to a person suing you who wins the case in court.

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5 Lucrative Home-Based Business Ideas You Can Start in 2017

5 Lucrative Home-Based Business Ideas You Can Start in 2017The world of business is forever changing. Products and services in demand today may become obsolete tomorrow. At the same time, new and in-demand products and services appear, in line with people’s changing needs and interests. Knowing what is lucrative and in-demand ahead of time helps entrepreneurs adapt their business models and keep their companies relevant over time.

For home-based business owners, 2017 is a year in which both craft businesses and professional services are in great demand. There are no surprising changes from last year (so you can breathe out in relief) but there are some shifts in popularity among various niches.

This article is also aimed at potential entrepreneurs who are not sure if their skills and experience are a good fit for starting a home-based business. Without further delay, these are the most in-demand and lucrative home-based business ideas for 2017:

1. Affiliate Marketing

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2. Crowdfunding Consulting
Crowdfunding websites such as Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Kickstarter feature hundreds of thousands of projects. Some of them succeed, but many fail. And, among the successful ones, some crowdfunding projects fall apart in a very public and unpleasant manner, with negative legal consequences.

To avoid this, many people hire a crowdfunding consultant to advise them on the best way to formulate their project and ensure transparency and a fair treatment of all contributors. At the same time, potential entrepreneurs want to make their project stand out, be visible and have an adequate promotion on the social media and other channels to attract more contributors. All these fall among the scope of work of a home-based crowdfunding consultant.

3. Woodworking
From abstract services, we move now to a craft home-based business, more specifically to woodworking. There is an increasing demand for unique, handmade furniture, toys and decorations made of wood. People want to add a personal note to their homes and are willing to pay more for a crafted item than for mass-produced items. If you love carving wood and are good at it, this is the moment to open a home-based business and start making money from your hobby.

4. Social Media Consulting
The social media has long exceeded the status of an online forum for people to meet, share photos, and build conversations. It is a thriving world where businesses find potential customers, build relationships with them and advertise their products and services.

There are many unwritten dos and don’ts in social media engagement, and small businesses need advice or even a manager for their social media pages. As a social media consultant or manager, you can build a thriving customer base and establish your authority as an expert. In time, you can expand your business to publishing eBooks and hosting webinars.

5. Candle Making
Candles have appeared over 2,000 years ago and it seems that they are here to stay. No longer used as a lighting source, candles (especially scented ones) are now popular in spas, for creating a romantic atmosphere and for scent therapy.

Handmade beeswax candles are very popular, especially if you craft them in creative shapes and colors, adequate for various celebrations (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.).

If you didn’t find your skill or hobby in this list, do not despair: you still stand a great chance to open a successful home-based business.

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5 Types of Challenging Customers and How to Deal with Them

5 Types of Challenging Customers and How to Deal with ThemCustomers are the heart and soul of any business. Business owners are working hard to attract new customers for their business and increase the retention rate through various loyalty programs. And, most of the time, they are rewarded for their efforts.

However, not all customers are the nice and easy-going type. Some of them are nagging, never happy or even litigious. As a home-based business owner, without an army of counselors and lawyers at your disposal, the perspective of an angry customer ruining your reputation online or even taking you to court is a nightmare. What should you do when you sense that a customer is encroaching on your business and proving more of a liability than an asset?

In general, challenging customers fall into certain categories and there are tested and proven ways of dealing with them. Today we will discuss exactly this aspect – how to deal with the most frequent types of challenging customer in a diplomatic and time-saving manner, so that your business and your peace of mind are both safe from turmoil.

1. Mr. Know-It-All
This type of nagging customer will frequently comment on your blog posts and social media accounts, pointing out aspects which you have missed in the topic you were discussing. This customer has tried this, done that and has a clever way of turning your words around. The problem with such a customer is that they undermine your authority in your own niche in the eyes of other potential customers. They will also prolong a purchase process way beyond the usual time required for any other client with questions and hypothetical situations in which your product or service may or may not be used.

The solution: this type of customer responds well to a little ego tickling and will be mollified quickly by praising their sharp wit, experience and know-how on that specific topic. This customer has the potential to become a loyal customer for the simple fact that they finally found a business which values their intelligence.

2. The Customer without Limits
This customer does not really grasp the fact that you have a private life and expects you to check your email around the clock. Also, if you had the unfortunate idea of supplying your mobile phone number for quick orders, you will have your phone beeping at all hours with messages.

The solution: Be firm in setting boundaries with the customer. Post your business hours on your website and on your social media accounts and enforce them. That is, refrain from answering texts or emails outside your business hours. The customer without limits will soon learn them and act accordingly.

3. The Overly Friendly Customer
This type of customer is not a danger to your business other than by being a tremendous time waster. This person keeps engaging you in conversations on the social media, requires one-on-one video conferences to discuss your products or services and their next order, and starts approaching topics completely unrelated to your business dealings. Most of the time there is a disproportion between the total purchases made by the chatty customer and the time spent with them.

The solution: Be friendly, but firm in steering the conversation back to the key topic (the sale). Do not encourage off-topic discussions by your silence, but politely intervene and stop the conversation flow.

4. The Customer Is Always Right
This is a potentially litigious customer and you should be very careful in dealing with them. There are lots of people who try to exploit small business owners by forcing the limits of the law in the customer’s favor at all costs. They will read your warranty policy, terms and conditions of sale and return word by word and attempt to find any small flaw they can use. Their general attitude is unfriendly, brisk and focused on what they consider their rights and your failure to satisfy them.

The solution: Exert all caution in dealing with this customer and do everything by the book. Keep all email and text exchanges with the customer in case you have to use them to prove them that they are not right.

5. The Undecided
This customer will take forever until they decide to make a purchase. They will analyze, compare your products against each other and with other products, and they will keep nagging you with questions, requests for more clarification, etc. This means that you are wasting time without the guarantee of getting a sale from that person.

The solution: Get to the bottom of their indecision: is it the price, the quality of the products, the terms and conditions for warranty? Once you have identified the core problem, you are in a position to make them an offer they cannot refuse. If they do – at least you stopped wasting valuable time.

Last but not least, remember to have all your business insurances in good standing and to make a clear legal separation between your personal assets and those belonging to your business. In case of an angry customer suing you, you need to protect yourself and your family from their claims (justified or not).

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