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A Checklist for Your Home Business

Planning on launching your own home-based business? It’s a great way to make a bit of extra money, and possibly even support yourself and your family while doing something you love, but it will be a challenge to say the least.

If you’re going to start your own home business, make sure you have all the following things:

1. An idea

What’s going to make your new business different from all the others out there on the market? If you are going to succeed in the world of home-based businesses, you’ll need a creative new idea that will set your company apart.

Whether it’s repairing car windshields at home, selling your home-made cookies, or being an exotic animal walker, an idea is the first step in the process!

2. A business plan

You may think that coming up with a business plan and model is unnecessary if you’re going to start a home business, but it’s still important.

You’ll need the business plan to guide your company through the steps that will lead you to success. Without a plan of how to reach your target market, promote your product, and organize operations, your company is going to struggle to stay afloat.

3. Personnel

Most home-based businesses start out with just one person running everything, but how long will it take you to realize that you’re in over your head?

If you have to do accounting, shipping and handling, sales, invoicing, and all the other business functions, you may not be able to do a good job at any of them. Bring in people that will help you to succeed.

4. Capital

Perhaps you only need $5,000 to open your home bakery, or $50,000 to get your home car shop up and running. It doesn’t matter how much you need; what matters is that you have it!

You need to be sure you have enough capital to get your company up and running, because you’ll need to keep food on your table for the first few months of your company’s operations (there’s little if any profit for the first few months, and possibly even years).

5. The necessary tools

Do you need to set up a workshop in your home, or to install a pizza oven for your home-based pizza joint? Do you need to get managed hosting for your company website, or could you work through your Facebook or Twitter account?

You’re doomed to failure without the right tools, but having what you need will increase your chances of success!

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LifeProof Your Phone From Everything You Throw It At

For as long as there have been smartphones, companies have been searching for ways to protect them. But there are certainly tradeoffs associated with any protective case. Most that offer the best protection are enormous and clunky, more slim cases retain your devices original form factor, but sacrifice protection for aesthetics. But what happens when you drop it in the toilet? Both are useless. In comes LifeProof, which has made quite possibly the best case ever. It’s slim profile means that it wont be taking up too much real-estate in your pants or purse. It’s rigid construction is built to protect your phone from a seven foot drop and an airtight seal protects it from dust, debris and is fully waterproof. Visit their site here or watch their commercial:

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last update: July 29, 2014

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5 Reasons Outlook May Never Die

Microsoft Outlook is so much more than an email client. In fact, it’s a personal information manager, and it should be viewed as such rather than as just another option in the email client market.

There are numerous reasons why Microsoft Outlook remains superior to other email offerings. Here are five of them.

1. The New Search folder

Some email clients make it difficult for you to filter out the “bad” emails from the good ones. When an inbox becomes cluttered with a lot of new inbound mail, it’s too easy for some of the really important emails to get lost in the clutter.

Microsoft Outlook anticipates this problem and has a feature to resolve it: The New Search folder. This feature enables you to search for email based on sender name, sender address, or text in the actual body of the email. One especially user-friendly component of this feature is that the search is automatically saved.

That way, you don’t need to worry about missing out on important emails in the future.

2. Newslsetter Unsubscribe

Sometimes newsletters and email threads can also clutter up an inbox. In the case of some newsletters, certain ones may have been the result of an accidental subscription. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy means of unsubscribing from those unwanted emails? Microsoft Outlook comes to the rescue. It doesn’t require you to unsubscribe manually from a list. Instead, you can simply “mute” the email, and all emails associated with it.

Here’s how it works: you highlight the message in question and then navigate to the “Home” menu. From the “Home” menu, select the “Ignore” option. The application will take care of everything else. You will have to confirm that you in fact no longer want to see anything in the same thread. Once you do that, that message plus all the previous ones in the same thread will be thrown in the trash. Further messages on that thread will not be visible in your inbox.

Be careful with this option. The messages are deleted based on the subject. So if you get another message with the same subject, even if it’s from a different source, it will also be deleted.

3. Space consumption is not a problem

Some email clients let your gathered emails (including the deleted ones) take up precious hard-drive space. Of course, you could go into your deleted mail folder for any of those clients and manually empty what’s in there. But that’s an extra step and one more thing you have to remember.

With Microsoft Outlook, the process of removing the deleted emails is handled automatically for you. From the “File” menu, go to “Options.” Next, select the “Advanced” option and you’ll see a section called “Outlook Start And Exit.” In that section, there is a checkbox that gives you the option to empty the email in the Deleted folder once you quit Outlook. Check that box.

That’s all you need to do. Now, the next time you quit Microsoft Outlook (and every time thereafter), your trash will automatically be emptied.

4. Increased focus on people

With Outlook 2013, you can connect Outlook to social networks. This gives you more online interaction with your email correspondents via social media. It’s a distinct advantage over other email clients, where you only interact with email addresses. Outlook puts the focus on the person behind the email address.

5. An attachment reminder

How often has this happened: You responded to someone in an email, and claimed you were sending an attachment that answered the person’s question/concern, but when you clicked “Send,” you realized that you forgot to add the attachment?

Fortunately, Microsoft Outlook will prompt you with a pleasant reminder when you try to send an email that references an attachment, and you haven’t attached anything. This should prevent you from forgetting to send the attachment.

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3 Tools A Freelance Writer Needs In Their Arsenal

Any freelance writer will tell you that anything you do for an income, the work comes with an ongoing list of pros and cons. It’s not always easy to stay on track of invoicing clients, coming up with pitches, or keeping yourself from distractions, but with a little push in the right direction and a few simple recommendations, you’ll be one step ahead of the curve. Below is a list of 3 things that most freelance writers could benefit from.

1. A Lightweight Text Editor

There are already way too many options for text editors out there, but if you’re looking for something clean, lightweight, and are offline compatible, here are a few reasonable editors without the pricetag:

Google Drive – The easy answer if you’re already familiar with it.
FocusWriter – This is ideal if you are easily distracted by the many tabs in your browser.

2. Invoicing and Time Tracking

Stop guessing at how many hours you spent working on your fifth draft of copy for a client. Oh, and by the way, you’re about to be late with the invoice that you’ll need to pay your rent with. Keeping track of time and finances feels like it should be someone elses job, but you’re freelancing. It’s a part of your job whether you like it or not. The solution? Enter Ballpark, an online invoicing software that allows you to invoice clients and get paid via Paypal. It’s free to use for 30 days, and after your trial period expires, you can send up to three invoices per month without paying a dime for the product.

3. A Way of Getting Work

So, you can write. Unfortunately, so can a lot of others! A lot of web based companies are shifting their focus to content marketing, which gives ample opportunity for writers these companies choose to outsource. The problem is getting their attention. You’re going to need a little bit of a portfolio, and a little bravery as you email these companies to tell them you’re available to write your heart out for them.

Instead of building a website to show your published work, keep the links handy in a document somewhere that you can access, or even in an email draft that you can copy and paste from. That way you don’t have to rely on the person reading your pitch to actually click on your personal website link, but rather they can read the URL and find out if you’re who they are looking to work with.

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Flow Keeps Your Projects On Track

Project management software is nothing new—for multi-faceted teams, for individual consultants, for freelancers interfacing with organizations remotely, task-managing services have been crucial from the moment they appeared. And yet, with so many options on the scene, the most valuable project management software still has but one job to do: Making sure the user never forgets a task again.

This is where Flow comes onto the scene.  As task management goes, Flow is not overly flashy; the interface is simple, the colors are easy on the eyes, and the view is minimalistic. But what’s most important is that Flow makes it nearly impossible to overlook a due date or deadline. Individual tasks can be created with as much or as little detail as needed. Type out a short list of what is to be included in a project, or go into detail by attaching documents, creating tags, and getting specific with your Flow folder system.  However detailed the task, Flow’s reminder system is there to ensure task completion. When you’re creating a new task, set a due date for it by selecting the date on your Flow calendar, or by simply typing a time-frame command, such as “tomorrow” or “one week.”  Flow’s alert system will tell you when that task’s completion time has come.

Unlike many other project management services available, Flow’s interface includes multiple tabs for multiple project views. This provides even further assurance that tasks won’t be lost or forgotten at any point in your process.

Notable ways that Flow’s tabs can keep you on top of tasks include:

The “upcoming” tab – If you’re a traditional, calendar-abiding worker, the “upcoming” tab offers a simple calendar view of your tasks.  Choose from daily, weekly, monthly, or list views.  If you’re looking for an at-a-glance view of your tasks, the “upcoming” tab is going to be your quickest bet.

The “delegated” tab – If you create a task that is to be completed by a member of your team, rather than yourself, Flow provides an option to delegate the task you created to someone in your contact list.  This task then will appear under the “delegated” tab.  This way, even if the task is to be completed by someone other than yourself, you’ll be able to keep an eye on its progress from afar.  The task will remain in the “delegated” tab until it’s checked off as being completed.

The “flagged” tab – For projects that need to be noted as especially urgent, marking them as such will keep them filed in the “flagged” tab.  Similarly, if someone on your team delegates a task to you and marks it as being important, it will also show up as “flagged,” so even if a Flow task wasn’t conceived and created by you, you’ll still be notified of its importance.

Project management software should do just that—manage your projects from their beginning to the time of completion.  A task management service that allows projects to be forgotten is useless to those who rely on it.  This makes Flow a valuable service indeed.

Flow is a software created by the brilliant minds at MetaLab.

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6 Things to Consider When Upgrading Your Analytics Software

For those conducting online business and marketing, analytics software is recognized as an invaluable tool. This is why the use of analytics software has been a mainstay in online business for years. However, both the type of software available and the analytics needs of businesses have been evolving steadily over the years and what may have been an excellent software choice five or more years ago may be out of date now.

This is why it is important for companies to look at the different options available to them and to consider upgrading their analytics software from time to time. Though the task may seem daunting, business owners that look at the following 6 things will be able to proactively and confidently determine if an analytics software upgrade is the right option for the business and what software is best suited for their unique business needs.

1. Does new analytics software have useful features that older software doesn’t offer?

No two analytics software options are identical and just because a piece of software is older, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not still useful. If the software is updated frequently, chances are that it may have features comparable to newer software on the market. Business owners should look at what the program offers and then determine if there are features that they need that the software doesn’t support.

2. How is easy is the software to use?

Adopting new analytics software will inevitably require employees and business owners to learn how to use that software. When comparing providers it is important to look at how easy the program is to use and how long it will take to train people to use the software efficiently. The more difficult a piece of software is to adopt, the more it will cost the company in time and training expenses.

3. How much will using the software cost your business?

Business owners should be sure to look at the type of payment model associated with any software they are considering. Different payment models include lump sum payments, annual upgrade or subscription fees and monthly subscription fees. Analyzing the costs associate with using the software will all business owners to do a cost-benefit analysis when they are comparing providers.

4. Will the software be able to accommodate business growth?

Due to the fast pace of the business world, it is unwise to assume that small businesses will always be small. For this reason, any analytics software used for the purposes of the business should be easily scaled or upgraded if the company sees sudden growth in employees or client base. By selecting software that can grow with the company, business owners are able to ensure that they won’t have to go through upgrading again in the event of business growth.

5. How detailed is the visualization that the software offers?

Visualization of analytics is incredibly useful because it makes it much easier to interpret the data derived from analytics software. This is not only useful for people using the software regularly, but also for conveying analytics data to employees that don’t use the software and people outside the company such as potential investors.

6. What kind of pre made models does the software provide?

Though most software offers an option for users to create their own models, doing so takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the business owner. For that reason, business owners comparing providers should look at the types of pre made models that come with the software and give preference to software that offers models that are best suited to current business needs and specifications.

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Carbonite Reaches 300 Billion Backed-Up Files

Can we imagine for a second the sheer magnitude of the number 300,000,000,000?  If we do this in terms of what’s tangible, we’d be looking at roughly 73x the population of the top 10 most populated countries on earth. If we just considered China even, that would mean every single one of China’s over 1.34 billion citizens would have 233 files backed-up on their computer. Now, if you’re more of the intangible/imagination type, then let’s put it this way; According to legend, Thor’s hammer is made of neutron-star matter, which means it weighs approximately as much as a herd of 300-billion elephants. Just saying, 300 billion is a huge number and to fathom this many files backed-up, indefinitely – especially for a company that’s only eight-years-old? It’s pretty miraculous.

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First Solar Powered Plane About to Fly Across U.S.

With concerns about limited energy sources, solar power is becoming one of the hottest trends in tech development. Still, the fact that the first solar-powered plane has started a cross-country journey in the U.S. is incredible to most. The ultra-lightweight solar-powered plane, named Solar Impulse, is powered by the sun’s rays along with on-board batteries for reserve power. During it’s cross-country flight, not a drop of fuel will be utilized, making it the first flight of its kind.

The flight, which took off from San Francisco, California for the first of five segments of the trip, will reach an altitude of round 21,000 feet. A live feed on the plane’s website will broadcast the aircraft’s altitude, speed and location along with interior and exterior camera views. Two pilots, the founders of the plane, will take turns navigating.

That first leg of the trip concluded 18 hours after takeoff in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the plane travels much slower than traditional airlines (the average speed is about 43 miles per hour or 69 km per hour), the technology is still in development and further advances will likely lead to faster planes. Also, the plane’s costs are significantly diminished thanks to the use of solar power and battery power as opposed to fuel.

High fuel prices have caused air travel to become more expensive in more recent years. However, travelers have found great alternatives in terms of deals on accommodations and transportation which have allowed them to make up for that extra cost. New technologies like solar-powered flight may one day contribute to the growing means of transportation both in and around the U.S.

A few hurdles continue to stand in the way of solar power as a practical energy source for air flight. First, the plane’s lightweight design means that it cannot stand up to strong winds. Rain and clouds are also adverse conditions that which produce only minor setbacks for regular passenger planes while delaying a solar-powered flight for hours or even days.

Naturally, the inventors of this solar-powered airplane and the proponents of solar energy continue to work hard to improve the plane’s design and usability. For the time being, however, these achievements prove that we live in an exciting time where major advances in technology and green energy are being made each and every day.

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