How to Ensure That Your Business Continues to Run in the Event of a PC Failure

Have you ever stopped to think what would happen to your business if your PC were to crash? Would you be able to continue to support your clients and/or generate income in the event of a computer failure?

If you run an online solo service business having a system in place that automatically creates a back-up of your PC's files and folders is essential. It's not just older PCs that are prone to glitches and complete system failures - it can happen to newer PCs too! Whatever age your PC and/or laptop is, you need to ensure that you have a system in place that will automatically back-up your critical files and folders should anything happen.

And to make the back-up process smoother, critical files and folder should ideally be stored in one place i.e. ALL files/folders relating to your business should be stored within the My Documents folder; downloaded programs should be stored in a downloaded programs folder; and any password and login data should be printed out as well as being stored within your My Documents folder.

So, what is the basic system you need? I recommend that you have two file back-up systems in place:

1. An external hard drive that you back-up to each day; and

2. An off-site back-up service, such as an online data back-up service, that backs up files automatically as soon as they've been updated.

Just stop and think for a minute how something like a hard drive failure would affect you and your business if you hadn't got a recent back-up of your work; not just your day-to-day work but all your software programs too?

I'll share a story with you about one of my clients who had some computer problems. Her laptop had died, and she said to me during one of our weekly check-in calls:

"I haven't backed up my desktop. So if this goes, as well as the laptop ... I'm sunk."

How would you feel if you found yourself sunk? If you don't have any back-up systems in place I suggest you take action now to avoid being in that same situation. Unfortunately I had an incident where my hard drive failed and needed to be replaced. Fortunately, I'd backed up all my critical work the day before on to CDs, but I still spent a lot of time recovering and downloading files and programs which I hadn't backed up. Lesson learned!

The system that I had been using involved backing up files and folders to several CDs i.e. one for clients, one for accounts, one for business etc. It was time-consuming and a bit of a fiddle; consequently I didn't backup as regularly as I should!

For a system (any system, not just back-up systems) to work it needs to be simple and easy to maintain, and once it's in place should run like clockwork.

As a result of the situation I was in I created some new backup policies. I needed a more reliable system - one that was simple and easy to maintain, and would run like clockwork once I'd set it up.

My back-up system now consists of:

1. An external hard drive that I back-up to at the end of each day;

2. An online back-up service that automatically backs up my files, offsite and that I can access from any PC with an internet connection if I need to.

In addition to having this back-up system in place I also have my desktop computer connected to an automatic battery back-up so that if the power suddenly goes out I don't lose the work I'm currently working on. I have four minutes to save and shut down the PC in the event of a power outage!

I recommend that you implement at least one of these back-up systems NOW! Both would be better. And get your desktop PC connected to an automatic battery back-up too!

Office organization expert, Tracey Lawton, teaches professional speakers, coaches, and authors how to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free how-to articles at


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Festive and Effective Holiday Marketing Ideas

In addition to being the "Season of Sweets," the period of time between Halloween and New Year's Day presents a wonderful opportunity for your company to thank your customers. It also is a time that you can drive new business to you. Here is a list of easy and effective marketing ideas to help you promote your business for the holidays.

1. Send a Card: Send a holiday card to all of your customers - depending on your target audience, it can be for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or simply "Seasons Greetings." You can also send a Happy New Year card. But don't stop there. Don't forget about your vast referral base. Be sure to send business holiday cards to your friends, family, associates, and vendors.

2. Send your database a gift: Hopefully, you have a list of both clients and prospects. Whether these individuals have purchased from you or not, treat them well. Take the holiday season as an opportunity to send them a gift. It can be as simple as a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Small gestures are what impress people - they work to keep customers loyal and to convert prospects to customers.

3. Offer a "Something of the Month" club: People are always looking for unique gifts to give. Why not help them out and create ongoing cash flow for your company? You can do this type of gift series with almost anything. Seriously. Did you know there is a Bacon of the Month club? You could sell CDs that you record each month, dinners, jelly, or even a teleseminar series. With a little creative brainstorming, I'm certain that any business could develop this type of program.

4. Bundle items as a holiday theme: Sell holiday specials to entice people to buy bundles of products or services. Instead of selling single items, offer a theme. For example, a financial planning company could put together a New Year's Planning Kit that includes a book, tax software, and a one-hour consultation.

5. Give a coupon or discount: As both a gift to your customers and a way to boost your seasonal revenue, why not offer a discount or send out a coupon that promotes one or more of your services or products. This could be for a report, a CD, a session, or a special program. Again - be creative! People love discounts.

6. Offer a holiday special: You can encourage larger purchases by offering a holiday special like Buy Two and Get a Third Item for Free. Here is a different variation on this same strategy: Tell your customers when they purchase a certain amount, the will get something for free. For instance, Buy $100 worth of products and get a free CD.

These are just a few ways that you can both thank your customers and offer them something special for the holidays. These marketing strategies also help build customer loyalty, convert prospects into customers, and help to bring cash flow into your company. Best of success to your business!

Wendy Maynard publishes MAVEN MARKETING, a weekly marketing ezine for business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. If you're ready to skyrocket your sales, easily attract customers, and have more fun, subscribe at
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Direct Email Marketing - A Basic Guide

Email marketing is one of the more popular forms of marketing on the internet because it allows people to send a single message to a large number of people. It is a perfect way to pass on information about your business and any updates you have.

Email is one of the main reasons why people use the internet. It is something that is checked once a day, once an hour or even more frequently. It has become so useful that it has surpassed anything anyone could have planned for it.

Businesses have been using email lists since their conception to forward marketing messages onto people. Early marketers simply bought lists and sent unsolicited mail which lead to the creation and the crack down on Spam. Direct email marketing is something that can help to prevent the dangers of having your message labeled as spam.

When direct email marketing or using any type of email marketing strategy in your promotion plans there are a few things to consider and do in order to protect yourself and still receive all the benefits that comes from using email marketing. The first thing to do is build the relationship with the customer. This means you should set up a guestbook or an opt-in selection that allows people to choose if they want to receive information from you. Get their name, email address make sure, when you send the email that their name is placed on the top of the page.

Refrain from sending unsolicited emails and always include a message giving instructions on how to remove themselves from the mailing list in every email. Often times you will see a message saying that you have opted to receive messages and if not please click here to unsubscribe. This gives people the freedom of refusing mail from you even if they requested it. It usually is not marked as spam. However, it can be in some cases so be careful. Send messages only when necessary. For example, a monthly update letter and then only emails when you have sales. This will help to prevent people from thinking you are sending spam message.

Direct email marketing is great and one of the safest forms of email marketing however; do not let it be the only method you use. Email marketing should be only one piece of a whole strategy that is used to promote your service or product. Email marketing is something that must be handled carefully if you are going to use it effectively in your marketing strategy. There are a number of things to consider and certain ways to present and write things so that people do not treat your messages as unsolicited mail.

Remember to make sure that with direct email marketing you have permission to send emails to your customers and that you build the relationship with them by making the emails personal. When you are small and only have a few people this can easily be done yourself. However, after a certain point it is a good idea to pick up a program that will help you process your email marketing messages.

Roy Chan is a business consultant and provides business online advices at:

For a limited time, you may obtain an email software valued $37, at no cost in:
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Interview: CoreCommerce

What do you consider sets you apart from your competitors?

We believe in order to be the best, you have to provide a great product at a competitive price with excellent support. We believe that because we have all 3, that sets us apart from our competition.

What is your pricing structure?
Our pricing structure is based on the amount of bandwidth, hard drive space, products and email accounts you wish to have or require, and starts at $39.99 for the basic plan and up to $179.99 for the Platinum plan. Our pricing can be found at
How many pages long is your checkout process?
With CoreCommerce, you can choose between a 1 page checkout (so 1 page) or a traditional checkout process (max 5 pages).
Does your solution come with hosting?
Yes, it does and it is covered within the monthly fee. Our hosting is all done via Rackspace, the leader in managed hosting on the web.
How many shipping options do you provide?
We offer many real time options, such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, Canada Post, Australia Post, plus many “offline” shipping options such as “subtotal based shipping”, “weight based shipping”, “quantity based shipping”, “Product Based Shipping”, “State Based Shipping” and “Country Based Shipping”.
What are your contract term sizes?
With CoreCommerce you can cancel at any time. There is no contract.
Do you provide a free trial?

Yes! CoreCommerce comes with a 100% free 30 day trial so you can get a feel for CoreCommerce and confirm it will be the solution for you.

How can a potential buyer find out more?
They can go to our website ( and find everything they need to know, or they can give us a call at 1-800-747-4270.

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Book Review: Streetwise eCommerce

Today's book is Streetwise eCommerce. Written by Aliza Risdahl, this book is useful for anyone learning ecommerce.


This is the type of book that you will keep coming back to. Even now as I am writing this, I discovered a section about writing online press releases that I not noticed the first time I read it. Streetwise eCommerce covers (nearly) everything I can think of including the history of the internet, online marketing, website design, online selling, website maintenance, and even how to write online press releases :) .

One of my favorite parts of this book is the layout. This book includes easy-to-read lists, enjoyable boxes of extra information that standout, and a summary at the end of each chapter all in addition to the main writing. The lists and boxes of extra info are easy to read and aborb. The summaries (if you read them) help you to remember the main points of each chapter.

The only drawback that I can think of is that it does not recommend any books for additional reading.

Quick Facts

Title: Streetwise eCommerce
Author: Aliza Risdahl
Publisher: Adams Media Corp.
Target Audience: Anyone learning or doing ecommerce.
Topic Covered: Ecommerce, Internet History, Email, Marketing, Website Building,
My Rating: 7

Get This Book
You can get this book from the library or through my Amazon affiliate link below.

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Interview: digiSHOP

What do you consider sets you apart from your competitors?

We believe in order to be the best, you have to provide a great product at a competitive price with excellent support. We believe that because we have all 3, that sets us apart from our competition.

What is your pricing structure?
digiSHOP Basic is $249, digiSHOP Standard is $349 and digiSHOP Pro is $799. You can see all the pricing and compare the features of each version at
How many pages long is your checkout process?
With digiSHOP, you can choose between a 1 page checkout (so 1 page) or a traditional checkout process (max 5 pages).
How can a potential buyer find out more?
They can go to our website ( and find everything they need to know, or they can give us a call at 1-800-747-4270.
Does your solution come with hosting?
digiSHOP is an off the shelf solution, and does not come with hosting.
How many shipping options do you provide?
We offer many real time options, such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, Canada Post, Australia Post, plus many “offline” shipping options such as “subtotal based shipping”, “weight based shipping”, “quantity based shipping”, “Product Based Shipping”, “State Based Shipping” and “Country Based Shipping”.
What are your contract term sizes?
With digiSHOP you get 1 year of support and 1 year of upgrades, and you can return the product within 30 days for a full refund. There is no contract for use.
8.Do you provide a free trial?
No there is no free trial of digiSHOP. But there is a live demo.

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SEO - Just Add Water.....NO!

I miss the old was simple. Your TV had just a few channels, your phone was attached to a wall, and the computer was cool thing to have for the few who could afford one. But times change, our world changes and technology grows. TV has 200 plus channels (and still nothing on), your phone is attached to your hip and you could not live without a computer and the Internet is filled with billions of pages.

SEO was an easy job then. It was a no brainer. It was fast, it worked and the stress was little. Well, those days are long gone and the facts of SEO are no longer as easy as it use to be. It is not a quick fix and it is an ongoing process.

Sure, there are hundreds of SEO companies available for you to choose from. Cheap ones that say they submit your site to 1000's of engines (big deal), ones that add 100's of doorway pages (look out for spam), those that promise fast top rankings (they lie). Let's face it, for SEO there is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. But lets not focus on the bad and ugly....they may be cheap, but you get what you pay for...nothing!

SEO is not instant, not any more. You need to look at many factors, you need to be prepared to make changes, you need to be willing to work closely with your SEO expert and be willing to be in it for the long haul. SEO changes and you need to be ready to meet those changes.

You should be serious about your web site. This is your business and you need to treat it as so. Canned web sites, website templates that offer everything from stores to products to hosting and say you have no worries on updating the site and still can achieve rankings may be a bit misleading. SEO is ongoing work and one you need to be prepared to handle.

Your SEO Expert serves two guide you in changes that you need to make to a web site and to help you optimize your web site by actually working within the site so that you can be found for relevant keyword phrases.

Your Web Site Design

It used to be that design aspects really did not matter. Well, now they do and it is a big deal. If your site is poorly designed, poorly coded and developed using complex databases or heavily graphic, you face issues. You may need to make changes, you may want to develop a new site...whatever the need, your SEO will inform you what issues may be causing the site from being read correctly.

Your Keywords
Please...generic words may seem like the best, but with billions of pages, is it really feasible? Keyword phrases are extremely important, phrases that target your audience is imperative. Your SEO expert should work with you on helping you to make the most important choices on good, targeted and precise phrases that will target your consumer or product line.

Your Content
Using your keywords in content is important for the engines. Having good content is important to your consumer as well. Lack of content is not going to help you gain on the engines and lack of content is not going to help your consumer understand your product line. Your SEO expert can provide you writing assistance for those do it yourself folks or provide you with their expert content writers. Do not be fooled...if you are not using keywords with content, how can you expect to achieve rankings for those phrases?

Your Site Link Popularity
If no one else thinks your web site is important, then why would a consumer. You web site needs to be found on relevant web sites. You need to get your site out needs to be seen on other web sites. Not doing so means that even you do not think your site is important enough to share with others. Your SEO can help you achieve a successful link campaign or even consult with you on the process. This is a time consuming task, and it needs to be done right. I mean, you want you site to be seen on the best of sites, so take the time to consider getting a link to those sites that can help you be seen as an expert in your product field.

Your Blog
Funny word...Blog. I mean, what does it really mean? Who came up with it...well who cares. What is important is that they are fabulous for helping with you SEO campaign. They are informative, they are easy to navigate, they contain content and so much more. Bogs are the way to go to help enhance your site. Again, your SEO can help you by developing a blog, you can easily learn to maintain it, keep it fresh, keep it current.

Sure, SEO is just part of your marketing game plan. But it is a vital one when used with your other online and offline marketing. Gone are the days of easy rankings. Just because you built it, doesn't mean they'll come. A website is a business and as such deserves your time and your professional SEO to help you achieve your goals and bottom line success.

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for Over the past 10 years Jennifer's expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more:
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Book Review: Complete Business Plan

This week's book is Complete Business Plan. Written by Bob Adams, this book is especially useful for someone writing their first business plan. I have used it to write my business plan, and I found it very useful. I have read about three other business plan books, but this one is my favorite.


This book starts out by telling you the basics of business planning in Part I. Then, in Part II, it leads you through writing your business plan. Next, Part III tells how to prepare the financial section of your business plan. Finally, Part IV gives you two example business plans.

What really sets this book apart in my mind is the simplicity and ease of use. Basically, this book provides a number of ways to write each section of your business plan. You simply choose one or more ways, depending on the section, and fill in the blanks. This makes it a lot easier to write your business plan.

Quick Facts

Title: Complete Business Plan
Author: Bob Adams
Publisher: Adams Media Corp.
Target Audience: Someone writing a business plan.
Topic Covered: Business Plan
My Rating: 10

Get This Book
You can get this book from the library or through my Amazon affiliate link below.

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6 Reasons Why You Need to Have a Blog with Your Website.

Blogs are powerful marketing tools that can help you reach more customers, establish credibility, increase sales, and share company news without having a huge advertising budget.

Blogs have a number of advantages that make them highly effective in promoting your business:

1. You don't have to be a tech geek to start a blog.

Anyone can do it, and sites like Blogger can help you create and publish your blog in less than 5 minutes.

2. Blogs can boost your search engine ranking.

The content of your blog is ripe for the search engines and encourages other bloggers who write on similar topics to link to you. Regularly updated, keyword-rich content (not spam) and linking will help boost your site's visibility and in turn attract more customers.

3. Blogs offer multiple ways to deliver your message.

If you're not the best writer, you can start an audio or video blog and can therefore still reach your customers in a personal way.

4. Blog posts encourage immediate responses from your customers.

Questions, comments and feedback from your customers can help you better address their needs, adjust your campaigns, and react to the market's changing demands.

5. Blogs help you expand your reach online.

By pinging search engines and using RSS feeds you can syndicate your content online, boost your reach and influence, and allow customers to control their communications with your company.

6. Blogs increase transparency and help you establish credibility.

Blogs are much more personal than a corporate website and because they are regularly updated, customers can remain informed about your business and feel more connected to you. Your blog can be your selling point and can sway prospective customers to choose you and your services over the competition.

Blogs are about communicating and building relationships with your readers. Use your blog for branding your business, building your reputation and communicating with your audience ' not just for making a sale.

There are a variety of ways you can use your blog to communicate with your readers and promote your business, while unobtrusively going after the sale.

You can use your blog to:

· Write product reviews and link to product pages (consider signing up to be an affiliate)

· Write insightful articles or tips relevant to your audience

· Recommend products and services (yours or someone else's)

· Post and archive company newsletters

· Share company news and product updates

· Offer special incentives and promotions

· Ask customers to complete surveys and provide feedback

Generating new content for your blog does not have to be a daunting task. You don't have to worry about writing it all yourself. Instead, you can directly post your company newsletters as well as relevant third-party articles, reviews, and links found using sites like StumbleUpon and Google News.

Remember to include links where appropriate to your own website and product pages. Having a blog also allows you to make regular updates quickly and without needing a webmaster.

A blog is a highly effective tool in promoting your business, so start now.

Bjorn Brands is a successful entrepreneur who transitioned from having his own building company to a great online business. Check out his site and see for yourself how his FREE course can help you do the same.

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Do You Hesitate to Send Email to Your Subscribers and Customers?

If you're one of the people who worries that your customers will think you're spamming if you send them email, no matter HOW useful the information is, I urge you to reconsider.

The truth is, when you do your email marketing right, not only is it an excellent source of income for you, but your subscribers and customers will actually appreciate hearing from you!

Here are three tried and tested ideas for successful email promotions:

Damaged or returned stock promotions - Offer damaged or returned stock for 50% off! Everyone gets returns, it's a part of doing business. And of course damaged stock is unavoidable.Why not take advantage of email to clear out your stock that's otherwise going to take up space, while at the same time offering your customers deals that they're sure to appreciate?

Limited time offer - By offering a great discount on your products for a limited amount of time, people who receive the email feel like it's urgent they respond, so there's less chance they'll close the email to "think about it" and never come back.

Limited quantity offer - Similar to the limited time offer, the people who receive this email will also feel a sense of urgency.

If you go with "limited time or quantity offer stick with the offer. If you write in your email that a product is availeble for a .... time, stick to it.

Sometimes you see that a product is availible till midnight, 14 days later it's still availible till midnight.

And those are just a few to get you started. Use your imagination, and I'm sure you'll come up with all kinds of things to send your list that they'll really ENJOY having. And if you find an email promotion that really works for you.

Do you panic at the thought of writing your own promotional email?

Here's something you should know: writing an email is 95% rules, and only 5% creativity. So as long as you stick to the rules, you'll write an email that's suitable for sending to your customers every time!

Hypnotize the reader with compelling benefits - The most effective email promotions grab readers' attention with compelling benefits that speak directly to the readers' deepest desires and greatest fears.Benefits build the value you need to drive people to act when presented with your call to action.

Write your email like you were talking to a friend - Be informal, use contractions, and don't be afraid to start a sentence with "and" or "but."To transfer ownership, you want to make sure your reader can actually picture themselves using your product

Use automation to create personalized offers - Nothing is more appealing to people than the 'sound' of their own names, and nothing grabs someone's attention faster than something that affects them directly!

We don't recommend you try to get yours subscriber to purchase directly from your email. Instead, you should ask them to "click here now to learn more," or something similar.

How it LOOKS makes a big impact on readers, too.

Here is how to format your email:

Width - Be sure to format your email message in a table that is not over 60/65 caracters wide. If you exceed that, your message may be cut off on the right side of the screen -- or at the very least, not print properly

Images - Try to avoid using graphics whenever possible. People with slow connections will have trouble downloading them, and people reading your message offline won't see them at all.

Bolding - Use bolding just to emphasize the biggest and best benefits in the offer. You should be able to scan the message and instantly understand the biggest benefits

Bullets - Using bulleted points is one of the best ways to break up your copy and make some of your key points really stand out. As will all formatting techniques, make sure to don't swamp your email with bullet points.

Finally, once you've written the letter, give it a final "scan test." Set it aside for an hour, then return to it with fresh eyes BUT don't read it word for word. Scan over the letter and see which sections jump out at you. Make sure that those sections contain the key benefits.

Stick to these few simple rules, and you'll have no trouble turning out emails that get a response, because your customers actually WANT to receive them!

Bjorn Brands is a successful entrepreneur who transitioned from having his own building company to a great online business. Check out his site and see for yourself how his FREE course can help you do the same.

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