For Business Success, Stand Out from the Crowd

March 2, 2013

How can you be successful in business?  Simple: have something that separates you from the pack. What makes you different is the unique selling proposition (USP) or a competitive advantage.  This advantage isn’t sustainable if it is easily copied. That’s one reason NOT TO use price points to position your business. There’s always a competitor who’s willing to do it cheaper. To identify your USP, start with a personal passion – what makes you stand our as say an artist or photographer. Focus on what you do best, make it a personal niche, and be able to describe in a few words. Linda Strickland of NatureRestoresMe photography, specializes in nature shots.  Linda will shoot photos in the sun for hours at Chicago’s Botanical Gardens to capture a colorful bird.  She certainly takes other photos, but her niche is nature photography and she is well-known for her work.


“I Look Good Around Pink” – All Rights Reserved Linda Strickland

Jack-of- all-trades suggests master of none—so why are you memorable? According to “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” (Ries & Trout, McGraw-Hill), it matters more what YOU do than what the competition does.  When positioning your business, say Ries and Trout, you need to know what consumers think of the competition. “Positioning is not what you do to a product [it’s how] you position the product in the mind of the prospect.” With hundreds to thousands of options in any industry, people typically remember only a few brands in any category. Once you own a niche in a consumer’s mind, it is difficult for others to copy and/or replace your established brand. According to Ries and Trout, positioning is not about creating something new and different, but manipulating an existing perception, and bridging to connections that already exist. If somebody already owns the position you want, work around it.  If you want to capture nature photographs and be known for the niche, travel to a different geographic area and take pictures of bluebirds and orioles instead of hummingbirds.

Photography is one example cited here, but the concept is true for any industry.  Why should a customer buy your line of little stuffed animals when Beanie Babies is the major player in that niche?  Maybe your offering is a hypo-allergenic version or a family of animals – mommy, daddy, and baby lions, rabbits, or deer?  Or pick exotic animals not found in your geographic area or country.  The point here is that many people and companies do the same thing that you want to do.  Many brands are established.  You need to think differently and market your version of the passion that drives you.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity

More on Building a Brand

May 4, 2012

In a previous post, we discussed building the brand: YOU.  We pointed out as a home business owner, you and the business are basically one and the same.  A different home business name may be used, but your clients know you as the owner, manager, and clerk.  Every business decision you make can help or hurt the brand: YOU.

What exactly is a brand or how is a brand defined?  Simply, a brand is a combination of perception, association, and expectation to an audience.  As a home business owner, your clients are the audience.

In an equation: Brand = Expectation + Association + Perception to the relevant community.

A brand communicates value, expertise, ideas, and personality to the audience.  Think about the comedian-ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.  If attending his show, you expect entertainment, laughter, and puppets.  Dunham created a perception, an expectation with Peanut, Walter, Jose, Achmed – and humor.  If your favorite puppets were missing, you’d be disappointed and the show’s value – to you – would drop.  Your expectations were not met, slightly tarnishing Dunham’s brand – to you.

Dunham’s puppets are the same as your service or product inventory.  You may be sick or sold out of certain items, but the client has expectations.  If you can’t deliver, your brand may be damaged a little.  One time is understandable, repeating the problem puts a negative spin on your brand.  Fortunately, the opposite is also true.  Exceed expectations and the following happens:

–        Puts you in a top position in your industry

–        Sets you above competitors – you deliver

–        Creates positive pre-sale expectations

–        Creates new opportunity

–        Adds value to your brand

Hopefully this brief article on branding helps you understand why brands are so important and valuable to individuals and business.  Your goal: create a positive image when the brand is mentioned, each time for every client, current or potential.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2012, All Rights Reserved

Building The YOU Brand

May 2, 2012

You are a brand. Your personality, strengths, education, and accomplishments are all part of the personal brand: YOU. Like corporate brands, the YOU brand is viewed by others in unique ways: responsive, fun, cool, intense, etc. If you decide to start a home business, the YOU brand is associated with the business.

Personal branding is about expertise and marketing the YOU brand. You are an expert in your field and acknowledged as a reliable, go-to person. Ever hear of Conrad Hilton? Hilton was the founder of the well-known Hilton Hotels chain, a name associated with luxury and class. Hilton used his expertise in hotels to create a brand known throughout the world. Everyone is potentially no different than Hilton.

What is the YOU Brand?

Know yourself, what you do best, who you are, and how you want to be known. Are you a comedian? Serious and thought-provoking? A blend? Understanding YOU is the first step in successful building that brand: YOU. Consider the following messages the YOU brand sends:

– The qualities and results people expect

– The difference between your business and the competition

– Emotional reactions when the YOU brand is mentioned

When you sell services, people are buying YOU, not the service, per se. You will bring clients back with your work. That is branding. Be the best and YOU will become known.

Building the YOU Brand

The Internet has revolutionized personal and business branding. Write an article for a blog that gets re-blogged and quoted across the social network arena and YOU become instantly associated with that piece. Branding in days, weeks, and months not years. Repeat this action again and again, and YOU can be the next Suze Orman or Jim ‘Mad Money’ Cramer, Robert ‘Rich Dad’ Kiyosaki or Stephen ‘7 Habits’ Covey.

Choosing to brand using social media means working with the biggest and most frequently visited sites. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, posting often and with unique views and ideas. Engage your readers, responding to their questions and comments, and link to other popular blogs and websites. Be consistent with the message YOU is conveying. Don’t mix messages and confuse people about YOU.

Face to face networking is effective too. Attend industry events and conferences, trade shows and conventions. Expose the YOU brand as much as possible to all interested parties. It is difficult to predict a potential customer or who will talk about YOU.

Use a website to display expertise and experience. Don’t attempt to cover too many areas. Instead, narrow your focus, and make the YOU brand known in that area. Websites are often the first impression for many people; be professional and relevant. People are affected by color, font, text size, and content. Research these and find out what works for your business.

Everything YOU do, every article YOU post, and all clients YOU help become part of the brand: YOU. Do it carefully, responsibly, and confidently, and YOU will be successful.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.

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Start Your Business Planning Now

January 22, 2012

Chris Gattis left an excellent comment on Homepreneurs blog today: “…Most small business start-ups begin with bootstrapping techniques to offset a lack of cash. However, many hopeful entrepreneurs are sitting on the sideline waiting on the economy to get better before starting. Now is a great time to get started. The generally down economy will keep you focused on finding sales and keeping costs in check. Once the economy picks up, and it will in time, you’ll have an organization and systems in place ready to leverage for growth.”

In our opinion, Chris is right on target.  The economy is still down, but starting to show signs of life.  Planning for a small or home business should start now.  As suggested, bootstrapping – to help oneself without the aid of others – is cost-effective and an educational way to learn all aspects of running a business.

Following the idea of bootstrapping, we’d like to suggest some resources and articles that can help you in this effort:


This is often the biggest issue when considering entrepreneurship.  Here are some suggestions to consider:

Use personal savings to start.  Ask family members if they can add a little here and there, look at CrowdFunding options, read these articles for startup funding options and creative funding ideas.


Next to financial concerns, many younger entrepreneurs are concerned with medical benefits.  This is a valid concern, given the lack of national heathcare in the United States and the high cost of buying medical plans for yourself and perhaps a family.  If you currently have a job and are planning on quitting to start your own business, take the COBRA option from the employer.  This will cover medical costs for up to 18 months though you will pay 102% of the personal plan cost.  Paying for COBRA coverage will be far less expensive than an independent plan.

Consider a hybrid of working part-time and running your business on the side.  Hompreneurs recently posted 2 lists of companies that provide benefits for part-time employees.  For as little as 20-25 hours per week, one can get medical coverage and more while working on your dream.

You may also consider starting a business on the side while working your full time job.  This allows you to maintain benefits and financial health while starting the business you’ve always wanted.

Business Ideas

Startup ideas are easy for some, very difficult for others.  Homepreneurs lists dozens of home business ideas for you to consider or perhaps spark an idea of your own.  Here are a few highlights:

8 Great Work-at-Home Business ideas

Starting a Business in a Rough Economy

Home Healthcare Business Options

Home Business Options with Good Income Potential

and for part time business:

Part Time Jobs at Home

Business Resources on the Internet

The Internet is a home business and small business owners best friend, confidant, and resource for information.  The article about free or low cost Internet resources will help guide you and suggest technical and business assistance.

Marketing and Branding Your Product

Successfully launching a business requires considerable effort in marketing, branding, and getting exposure for your product or service.  Here are suggestions for low cost marketing, and bootstrap branding.

Many resources are available to help the novice – or experienced – entrepreneur plan and launch a business for as little startup capital as possible.  We suggest using this free one-page business plan to get started and put your ideas on paper.

We hope this list of resources gives you ideas for a business and provides some helpful tips.  Best wishes for your success!

By Dion D Shaw

Dion D Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunities.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2012

Bootstrap Brand a Business

January 9, 2012

One advantage big name business has it brand recognition.  Small and home business don’t have the years of history, memorable tag lines or high marketing budgets. All is not lost however!  By taking a few simple steps, your business can become at least a local if not regional or nationally known name.  Hopefully this is for positive reasons and not because a welding experiment went bad and burned down your town!

When considering branding a product, service or organization, look beyond your personal borders and limits.  If you want a business to grow in reputation and brand, superior knowledge of the product and (potential) buyers is key.  Even more importantly you must establish a commitment to the brand and growing it.  Below we list a few key bootstrap branding steps to help you and your business become a known quantity.

* Focus on your PRODUCT.  It’s simply naïve to assume even the best product will sell itself – even with strong name recognition behind it.  Remember Sony’s Betamax® or WordPerfect® or IBM’s OS2®?  Each of these products was arguably superior to the competition but ultimately failed the rigors of marketing.  Consider what makes your product special or unique.  Does it provide some kind of physical benefit to your customers, eliminate problems or become the next “gotta have it” thing?  As a newer company, you can’t afford major advertising campaigns and depend mainly on referrals. Become the buzz, the talk of the coffee clutch or water cooler.

* Become an EXPERT.  You just developed a major time-saving kitchen appliance – you are now the expert on that appliance – what it does, the story behind the development, how it benefits people, your customers, and THOSE WHO WON’T BUY YOUR PRODUCT.   A true expert understands as much about the product’s buyers as non-buyers and the reasons for both. The expert conducts industry research to determine the issues and delves deeper into untapped markets.  Perhaps a simple lack of color choice for the appliance is keeping some potential buyers out of the market.  Offer cyan, burnt umber, fuchsia, and sell more of your innovative appliance.  Experts also do additional follow-up research to 1) make customers feel good, 2) determine additional future product offerings, and 3) BUILD THE COMPANY BRAND.

* Deliver on a COMMITMENT.  When your company sells a product or delivers a service to a customer, an expectation is created.  That client in turn relates their positive experience to others and your company’s reputation is initiated.  It is critically important that your commitment to clients via the product or service is consistent each and every time.  In essence, your company offering is a promise and brands your business as reputable or not.  You must deliver 100% on your promise 100% of the time. Since your product or service is making a person’s life better or easier and is consistently delivering at the same level, customers will return.  With repeat clientele, a brand is established.  Congratulations.

The logos and taglines on this page are registered trademarks. Use of the logos and taglines here does not imply endorsement of the organizations by this site.

By Dion D Shaw

Dion D Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunities.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2012

Logos 101: Designing Your Business Identity

December 29, 2011

Creating a unique and polished logo shouldn’t be the province of only large companies with big marketing budgets or in-house creative teams. As the primary image that represents your company in the marketplace, a successful logo is the distillation of the very essence of what your company represents. It’s almost as important to your company’s identity as its name. But how do you get there? What are the key ingredients of a good logo and what identity creation tools are available to companies on a shoestring budget?


Characteristics of a good logo

Simple: Successful logos are founded in simplicity. In a marketplace filled with competitors and store shelves brimming with products, the goal is to get the consumers’ attention and convey a host of complex product or service information with clarity and speed. Refining the design down to a simple, yet memorable and unique visual statement, as discount retailer Target has done, is half the battle.

Memorable: Still, a good logo shouldn’t be so simple that it’s rendered unremarkable. Balancing simplicity with uniqueness helps to strike a chord with consumers and create a visual imprint that can be recognized later. The Apple logo is immediately recognizable due in part to its ruthless simplicity and how that simplicity is leveraged in a unique and memorable way.

Timeless: The very best logos stand the test of time and transcend the ephemeral notions of fashion and trends. Coca-Cola’s logo is an example of durable design. Since the goal of your mark is to create some equity in the marketplace, constant change and updating shouldn’t be required. As you consider and develop your logo, ask yourself, “How will this look in 20 years? Are there any elements which might not age well or could seem outdated in a decade?

Flexible: Potentially, your logo will be produced on large and small scales, in print and online. The best marks can adapt to any media and still look great. Consider FedEx, the overnight package delivery service. Its logo must be identifiable across scores of media and contexts, from Web banner ads to airplane wings. Specifically for print considerations, think about how your logo will look in a single color, in black and white, in reverse color, and reduced to thumbnail size. Can it adapt and still be clear and easily recognizable?

AdaptableWe all know businesses are dynamic and the marketplace is ever-changing. One product line might take off while another withers on the vine. Think about this phenomenon as you brainstorm your logo. The best marks communicate what your business is about today and can adapt to how it may change over time. Marks that are too specific pigeonhole businesses or become irrelevant as products and services evolve. For example, while eBay’s lowercase “e” may link the online bazaar with the early days of Internet commerce, the logo remains dynamic as ever, even as the company has grown and evolved.

Appropriate: Perhaps the strongest design-urge business owners have is to create a logo that’s too literal. A bakery owner wants a rolling pin in the logo; a law firm wants the scales of justice, etc. But great logos don’t have to be self-explanatory to be appropriate. The Starbucks logo is one of the most recognizable on the planet, but it doesn’t feature a mug or a coffee bean. Well-crafted marks use color, scale, font and image choice together to create distinction that’s appropriate without necessarily being literal.

Choosing a logo designer

For a business that wants to create or recreate its identity, there are a wide range designers and online services—like LogoMojo—available to help. Logo creation is big business and the options are as varied as the price point and the results. For the best product, choose someone who will work one-on-one with you to create a mark that’s rooted in an understanding of what makes your business unique. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a designer or an online logo development service.

Portfolio and experience: Does your designer have experience that includes a strong portfolio of work? Pay attention to the ratio of real logos to hypothetical ones. (For example, is the designer creating logos that are actually being used or is he just conceptualizing?)

Customer testimonials: Does the designer or design service offer testimonials from satisfied customers? If so, contact a few of the client companies and check on their level of satisfaction.

Awards, recognition, and affiliations: Has your designer won any awards for identity and branding work? How well-recognized are they in the industry? For talented new designers who may be just starting out, what are their professional affiliations?

Communication: As you research services or designers to work with, gauge their responsiveness and level of professionalism and communication. Do they get back to you quickly? Are they asking questions to learn more about your business and your vision for the logo? Do they protect their work and their clients through sound contracts?

Timing: Ask questions about timing to get a sense of how much effort and customization will be put into your logo. The creation and refining process typically takes three to four weeks, but can last months, depending on complexity.

Price: In identity work, as in most fields, you get what you pay for. The fee for most online logo creation services start around $175. Of course, the cost of working one-on-one with a designer varies by experience and recognition, but there are many young and hungry designers looking to create a body of work who may be flexible on price.

Take a look all around you—what marks get your attention? What labels and logos are on your clothes, on your desk and in your wallet? With a fundamental knowledge of good logo design and by exploring a few creative resources online, your company can develop a lasting mark that represents what it’s all about.

Kentin Waits is a freelance writer and marketing specialist based in Portland, Ore. His work has been featured in US Airways magazine and top-rated blogs such as Wise Bread, the Consumerist and MSN SmartMoney. When he’s not writing, Kentin runs a small online antiques business.

Article Source:

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity

Homepreneurs Success Story – Liam Hughes Shard Jewelry

October 23, 2011

Want to be a successful and recognized home business owner?  Use personal interests and talent to develop a niche product for an in-demand industry.  Add strong marketing, branding, and customer service skills while using multiple channels for product distribution.

Homepreneurs recently attended the Galena County (Illinois) autumn arts and crafts show.  This show is large, with approximately 250 vendors and 40 to 50 thousand visitors over a weekend.  One of the vendors is Liam Hughes, a talented and savvy business owner who has developed a niche product unlike any we’ve seen. Liam uses broken pieces of china – found or purchased at auction – and creates jewelry with them.  His marketing is outstanding, using websites – online store, and appearances at shows throughout the country.

Liam has a degree in art education and previously owned a stained glass studio in upper Michigan.  “I began producing shard jewelry as an experiment to recycle some damaged antique china with friends in 2002. The tests were well-received and Lamplighter Studio/Liam Shard Jewelry was born. I’ve spend many hours mastering my craft and have expanded my collection to include pins, pendants, bracelets and custom beadwork sets. Twice a year, I unveil my new collections at Spring and Winter Shows held every April and November. Meanwhile, I also sell my work at select craft shows, private home showings, and in my online store.”

Hughes is very educated about his product and its history: “My shard jewelry finds its roots in the folk art known as Pique Assiette, French for “stolen from the plate.” The art form was first recognized in Africa where pottery vessels were used to mark the graves of their previous owners. Later, the Victorians placed broken china on jars and vases to make memory jugs. Today, broken china continues to be recycled into tabletops, picture frames and a variety of other items…all forms of Pique Assiette.”  When asked about his more remarkable pieces, he cites an action purchase of broken china from Katherine Hepburn’s estates


Liam Hughes is a prime example of a successful Homepreneurs business.  Turning a personal interest (and education) into a niche product in the arts and crafts world, Hughes has successfully marketed and branded his product.  The name recognition of Liam Hughes Shard Jewelry is significant and has gained a loyal following.  Hughes also accepts pieces of broken china and turn them into art for customers.

Homepreneurs wishes Liam much success in his future efforts and wherever they may lead.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs.

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.

Images by Dion Shaw


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010-2012


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