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Friday, July 17, 2009

Office Stationery Supplies

Today, I would like to spend some time speaking about the various office stationery supplies on the market. A business, especially a new enterprise, should have an ample supply of letterhead on hand. The letterhead should include at a minimum, the business name and address. Also, the business logo (if applicable) along with the business phone, fax and email contact information.

There are numerous grades of office supply paper from which to choose for your office stationery. It is good to use matching grade paper for your envelopes. On the subject of envelopes are the windowed variety and the plain variety. Depending on the needs of your business, both these types of envelopes have their usefulness. It is good to have on hand plain letter and legal size paper for additional correspondence. One may choose to have business envelopes printed with the business name and address, One may also choose to hand-write, ink stamp, or use printed labels. In regards to this matter of choosing a return address format, it is often a matter of personal preference.

So, take a shopping trip to your local stationery store, discount store, office supply store, etc. and comparison shop. There are many options available to obtain the most cost-effective and useful paper products on the market today. Not to be overlooked, there is a plethora of office and stationery supply sites on the web! Then, you can carefully browse the online catalogs and take advantage of discount savings and/or free shipping options. As the summer season comes to a close, this is often an excellent time to replenish your office stationery supplies.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Local Library Resources

Today, I would like to direct attention to local library resources. There are many resources available to a new entrepreneur to use including (if available) internet, computers, typing, books, periodicals, magazines, seminars, etc. These materials are free with a user's library card. Also, cassettes, CD's and DVD's with entrepreneurship information may be available to check out. Some resources are labeled "reference" and may only be viewed while in the library itself. Most libraries today also have their own websites on which to access information.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Setting Up Shop

Okay, so now you have your business license and/or permits. You are ready to set up shop. What items are on your shopping list? Once you decide upon renting a space , or working out of your home, what office equipment is needed?

Depending up the nature of your business, the inventory may vary. Most every office will need a phone, computer and/or typewriter, paper, envelopes, stamps, pens, pencils, tape, paper clips and a stapler. This would also include furniture such as tables, desks, chairs, lighting, etc.

Where to obtain these items is the next question? Some items you may already have on hand. There are many office supply stores who sell in store, via catalog or online. Many offer discounts to new customers. Also, discounts are often offered depending upon the total purchase amount. Some offer discounts to customers who may sign up for a store credit card (if applicable.)

Some items may be obtained by shopping at local thrift stores and yard/tag sales. I myself obtained my fax machine and my Smith Corona word processor from these venues. I also obtained a nice desk at a very reasonable price at a local auction site.

It is good to make a list of items needed to complete services and products offered. For my business, writing paper of all grades and sizes is a must. Also, assorted envelopes for mailing purposes.

Keep receipts, especially for items under warranty. These will be useful at tax time when calculating your business expenditures. Also, for any items which may prove defective in some way. It will facilitate refunds and exchanges.

You will need to contact utilities if renting a space and these are not included with the rent. You will need to inquire about any necessary insurance not covered by the landlord. When I attended courses offered through the local Small Business Center, it was repeatedly stated that the number one reason new businesses go out of business is lack of operating capital. So, in setting up shop, the costs need to be estimated in advance. It would be sad if a new business opened and needed to be closed down due to lack of finances. So, prepare and calculate the needs and costs to set up shop and remain open for business.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Introducing Your New Business Via Business Cards

One of the best ways to introduce your new business to potential clients is via business cards. It is important to include all necessary contact information. There are printing companies today who advertise free business cards for just the cost of shipping and handling. For one example, I myself used VistaPrint.com to obtain my first 250 business cards. These cards were printed with a color image on quality paper. I was very impressed when the small package arrived. I received it in a timely manner, although I did not pay extra for expediated shipping. A word to the wise, verify all information including correct URL address if applicable.

I went on to distribute these cards to local businesses and acquaintances. This proved effective to introduce my business to other local entrepreneurs and residents. As my service includes resume writing, it was of interest to many who had not even had put together a resume before. My resume writing experience was first hand through many years of submitting job applications to diverse companies. Also, writing resumes for family members.

In today's difficult economic times, job seekers need to highlight their accomplishments and abilities. I am hoping to continue placing out my business cards, both directly and indirectly, to attract potential customers to my writing service. I keep a handful with me both in my bag and in my vehicle. I never know from day to day who I may meet who will be interested in enlisting a writing service. I might meet a vendor willing to display a card or two for me. I offer to reciprocate to advertise their business.

I have worked at several businesses in such positions as head teller, front desk receptionist, customer service rep and inside sales person. All these positions allowed for me to have business cards to hand out to customers. Now, I can clearly see the benefit of using business cards as a very effective marketing tool to introduce my new business to potential customers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Marketing Strategies on a Shoestring Budget

Now you have obtained the necessary permits and/or licenses to start up your new business. Then you opened up shop and the necessary business banking accounts. You find you do not have much financing available for marketing strategies. What options are available when on a shoestring budget? Surprisingly, for new entrepreneurs there are options out there for very little cost.

One important way to market your business is through word of mouth. This is linked to networking your business through personal contacts. The more people to whom you mention your business products and services, the more people to whom they may mention your business. Of course, as you produce products and perform services for clients, ask if you may reference them and any testimonials they may give you. Keep a portfolio.

Some banks may offer free business checking accounts. There is one that even gives free checks and a free endorsement stamp for your new checks! Mention your new services and products to bank employees. You never know if they may one day be in need of your business services.

There are local online ad sites which may offer to list your business for free or very little cost. Same with local trade papers. Also, local businesses may agree to let you post flyers and business cards to advertise your business to their customers. You may want to agree to display ads for them.

There are printing companies online that offer free business cards, pens, and a host of other products for just the cost of shipping and handling. One company offers magnetic signs for your vehicle to display your business to all you pass by on the road. Again, just for the cost of shipping and handling. A bargain in today's world! I will speak more of the use of business cards next time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Small Business Centers - Invaluable Resources

In the matter of starting up one's own business, small business centers prove to be invaluable resource. These centers are often affiliated with local colleges. They offer both printed information and courses. These courses range in topic from A to Z. The instructors are most often individual entrepreneurs who have started up their own businesses.

These instructors can be a resource in themselves as to answering the hows and whys regarding the steps necessary in starting up a new business. I attended several courses offered by the Small Business Center in Wilkesboro, NC which greatly aided me in starting JAE. I had decided upon a Sole Proprietorship, however, one instructor who taught 3 of the courses gave much of his insight into growing a business from a SP to a LLC or eventually incorporating. He also covered legal issues and marketing options.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Starting Up Your Own Business

Have you ever wondered if you had what it takes to start up your own business? I am living proof that it often only takes an idea and a small fee to apply for a Doing Business As (DBA) permit with your local city and /or county offices.

For many years now, I had contemplated various business ideas. For example, becoming a petsitter. I even downloaded trial software for a month, to see what would be needed to start up this type of business. I researched and read all I could find on the subject. I paid particular attention to the monetary costs and the potential pitfalls. The need for insurance and/or bonding held me back due to my financial circumstances at the time. Also, I became hesitate due to the responsibilities of entering clients' homes. Suppose a theft took place on my watch? It discouraged me from continuing. However, I would pet sit for friends and family.

So, I continued to work for employers rather than to become self-employed. Then, this year, I finally settled on starting Jeanne Armonk Enterprises. I was amazed at the relative ease of applying and paying for the DBA permit to get started. Writing and reading are passions of mine and it became an easy choice to decide on starting a freelance writing service.

Much assistance can be found at local libraries, the IRS, the local community college business center and the Small Business Administration itself. In April 2008, I attended a small business exposition in Poughkeepsie, New York. In speaking with local entrepreneurs, I was motivated to reach out to achieve my goal. I was able to attain it within 11 months.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From City Sales Rep to Rural Writing Service Entrepreneur

My story, as with so many others who have found themselves unemployed, reflects the success that can be obtained despite unfavorable circumstances. Success obtained through the combination of old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity. This story begins when I relocated from the New York City area to rural Wilkesboro in the foothills of North Carolina. Last summer, I found myself unemployed after only three weeks at a local Fortune 500 corporation. This was followed by many weeks of submitting over forty employment applications at diverse companies in the area and getting little or no response. Finally, I decided it was time to start up my own business.

Owning my own business had been a dream of mine for many years. However, the ideas for the business had gone from opening up a craft store with my sister to pet-sitting to freelance writing. My interest with writing first began by composing poems about nature in my childhood. I also wrote a play in my 4th grade class at Trinity Elementary in New Rochelle, New York. It generated enough positive feedback that my class put on the play in the school auditorium. It was a very enriching experience for me at the ripe old age of nine! I was also fortunate to have a lead part.

Thus, I decided upon the freelance writing service idea and obtained my very first Doing Business As (DBA) this past March. This action has opened up a few doors to business opportunities that were previously not opened to me.

To further my dream of Jeanne Armonk Enterprises becoming a successful business, I realized I was in need of assistance. So, I utilized several internet search engines that lead me to a plethora of extremely helpful information. I am indebted to the local Wilkes Community College here in Wilkesboro, North Carolina for its very fine Small Business Center. I attended courses offered during the Winter and Spring of 2009 Semesters. What a bargain with free tuition costs!

The Small Business Center courses recharged my batteries. I was now very enthusiastic to begin marketing my new freelance writing service. My new business cards served the purpose of introducing me to an individual who just happened to be starting up a business of her own. A new paper in the county now named The Wilkes Gazette. She was in need of reporters, writers and sales people. She agreed to hire me on as both freelance reporter and writer. In essence, she gave wings to my dream in that now my articles appear on the printed page.

Thus, I have made the transition from city sales rep to rural writing service entrepreneur.

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Wilkesboro, NC, United States
My interest with writing began by composing poems about nature in my childhood. I also co-wrote a play in my 4th grade class when I lived in New Rochelle, NY. It generated enough positive feedback that my class put on the play in the school auditorium. I was fortunate to have a lead part. After my high school graduation, I entered the working world. For over 30 years I have been steadily gaining writing, editing and digital publishing skills. I began by composing letters and emails to company clients. I contributed to articles written for The Commuters Register based in Windsor, CT. Since 2009, I have added social media, digital publishing and blogging here in Wilkesboro, NC. Since 2010, I write ad copy for the listing descriptions for each of my 3 Internet shops open at Etsy.com. In 2012, I entered a poem about my dog Red in the World Poetry Contest. The poem was chosen for publication. I have written articles for the Winston-Salem Frugal Living Examiner and Hub Pages. In 2012, I acquired The Wilkes Gazette digital newspaper that was renamed the Wilkes County Gazette in 2014. I write under both my own name and my pen name, Jeanne Armonk.

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