All posts by Raymond Manley

Find a ‘Free’ Business Coach

free_business_coachI once wrote all of the website copy for an experienced business coach. Whenever I take on a project like that, some of the first steps involve scouting the competition and trying to determine who has the best websites.

Reviewing different sites for business coaches, I found that a person can learn a lot about what business coaches would do just by looking at their websites. In other words, you can get some good business coaching without paying for the coach.

As well as writing this coach’s website, I have other clients who are business coaches or who are professionals that consult businesses in different ways. I do a lot of ghostwriting and editing for these clients. In the course of this work, I have gathered some favorite websites that offer ideas to improve businesses.

Be your own coach

Think of these as the beginning of a “do-it-yourself” business coach. I suggest you explore a wide variety business coach websites yourself to glean tips and possible directions for your project. By the way, there are coaches who specialize in certain niches. I found one who specializes in yoga studios. Search for a specialist in your area.

When you start to explore various business coach websites, you have to dig a little to find where they have hidden away their tips. This coach specializes in restaurants and the site’s blog offers a lot of great advice.

Check out the homepage of this coach’s website. Scroll down to the box that has the headline, “What’s gotten you here, won’t get you there.” You’ll find a long list of areas where they coach businesses to improve, like time management, communication skills, selling skills and CRM development strategies. If you feel you are weak in any of these areas, do additional online research to find ways to improve.

Take the quiz

I initially got the idea to write this article when I found a site that offers a rather extensive quiz for business owners or managers. Take this quiz and answer the questions honestly. As you work your way through the process, the quiz itself will cause you to think about the various aspects of your operation. The areas that need improvement will be revealed by the time you finish the quiz. At that point you’ll probably realize what you need to do to get your business back on track.

Of course, after looking at the websites for a variety of businesses coaches, you might realize that you need far more advise than you can gather on your own. Now you’ll have a good overview of the available coaches and be in a better position to hire one.

Finally, if you think you have all of this down, maybe you should consider starting your own business coaching service…

3 Tips for Vacation Travel on a Budget

Be creative and save on vacation travel.In spring a young man’s fancy turns to love, and for the rest of us, we start thinking about our vacation plans. Of course, with today’s economy we’re specifically thinking about ways to save money on vacation.

With these 3 tips for vacation travel on a budget you can plan for summer vacation time with your family and not worry about smashing your budget.

1. Reduce travel costs.

Quite simply, driving instead of flying is a great way to save on vacation costs. Last time I checked, your car doesn’t charge extra for luggage.

But, if you really want to think out of the box as you work on your plan for summer vacation, consider ride sharing. Ridester and eRideShare are two websites that put riders together with drivers. If your vacation plans include a major city, often you don’t need your wheels after your arrive. This strategy can work.

Much of the Midwest and East is served by Megabus. If you’re really into frugal vacations and can plan well in advance, this is the way to go.

And, if you need suggestions where to go within a “tank of gas” distance from your home, check out this cool tool at TripAdvisor.

2. Explore alternative lodging.

“Youth” Hostels are for the young and the young at heart today. Many major cities have them as well as a lot of smaller towns and even rural areas. This worldwide hostel mobile app is a great way to find hostels and learn more about each facility as you’re drawing up your plan for summer vacation.

Home exchange programs and lodging in private residences is experiencing a surge in popularity due to the Internet and they’re one of the best ways to save money on vacation. You can do a Google search to find groups that facilitate home exchanges. Also, check out Airbnb, which recently boasted offering private lodging in 19,732 cities throughout 192 countries.

Hotel Tonight is an excellent app that connects you with deeply discounted hotel rooms in about 30 major U.S. cities. If you live near one of the cities it covers, you can enjoy a quick, inexpensive, last-minute getaway—perhaps the most frugal vacation of them all.

3. Coupon clip.

Look for deals ahead of time, especially using web-based services like Living Social, Groupon, Sweet Jack and Goldstar. They often feature “adventures” and lodging deals in major cities. The savings can be huge. You might find an activity you couldn’t otherwise afford and build your vacation plans around it.

With a little flexibility and creativity, your summer vacation plan can please everyone in the family, even the person who’s responsible for keeping to a budget.

2 Keys to Starting a Successful Home Based Business

Tips for a home based business or how to make money on the Internet.I started writing these articles to show readers how to make money online and I’ve written about several specific ways to leverage the Internet to improve your finances. I’ve done them all.

Here’s my problem. I’m getting so busy earning money on the Internet that I’m left with little time to share these ideas with you. However, I wanted to share a “big idea” or two that, if taken to heart, can dramatically increase your income and reward you with a strong launch as you’re starting a home based business.

First, Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than facts.”

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, that may be today’s “fact” but can you imagine a better tomorrow? That’s the first hurdle you need to overcome.

For some reason there are people who would like us to think that the rich will always be rich and the poor will always be poor, but that’s not the picture painted by U.S. income statistics.

During the decade between 1996 and 2005, half of all U.S. taxpayers moved to a different income bracket. For example, half the earners in the bottom fifth of income, moved up to a higher bracket by 2005.

At the other end of the scale, 75 percent of the people who were in the top 1/100 of 1 percent of all earners—the most wealthy—fell out of that group. To put it another way, different people came up from below to knock them out of that ultra-elite group of earners. For the top 1 percent of earners, the turnover rate was about 60 percent.

Can you imagine yourself rising above your current income level? These statistics show that it happens all the time. Why not for you?

Maybe you think that’s easier said than done. I want to give you a one-two punch that will help you take the first steps to start a business from home:

  • Figure out how to create value, and
  • Start out small.

I’ve written a lot here about how to make money on the Internet selling on eBay, and Etsy. Underlying all of those ideas is your ability to recognize or find value in something that you can turn around and sell.

I’ve also discussed making videos and writing as ways to make money on the Internet. Writing has been where I’ve been able to create value, and I started out small. The first articles I wrote for the Internet paid as little as $1.50. Some of the articles I write now earn me $100 and I expect that to increase even more over time.

What do you know or what can you do that creates value? Start doing it. If you have a regular job, but you see it as a dead end, start to pursue your “value creating” activity on the weekends or in the evenings. You can start a home business with a very small investment, at least in terms of your finances—you time is another story.

The beauty of the Internet is that it is a low-cost way to reach people. Let’s take two simple examples: house cleaning and catering. These are two businesses you can start on either a full-time or part-time basis.

If you have a presence on Facebook, you already have potential customers, or at least potential references. Let all your friends and family know what you want to accomplish. If you can afford it, build a very simple, clean website to communicate what you’re doing. Make it reflect the value you are offering.

Start small and then ramp up. Again, using our housecleaning and catering examples, you can start as a one-man or one-woman show and as you become successful, add employees. When you’re small and make mistakes, the mistakes are small, but the lessons learned can be huge. The most recent example of this approach is Mark Zuckerberg, who started Facebook with just the students in the dorms at Harvard. Now there are nearly one billion active users.

Find a way to create value, start small and scale up.