The SOHO as an Online Business Model for the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Future

Sometimes to understand the future we have to have some historical perspective.

We often forgot that before the 19th century, and prior to the industrial revolution, nearly all offices were small offices and/or home offices, with very few exceptions. Now that small business and the self-employed represent the backbone of the current economy, it seems that history does indeed repeat itself.

The US economy no longer is dominated by giant corporations. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that fully 99% of all independent enterprises employ fewer than 500 people. This accounts for 52% of the US workforce according to the SBA.

Additionally by the end of 1999, the service sector had grown to 104.3 million jobs, representing 81% of non-farm employment, and the goods-producing sector, which includes manufacturing, construction, and mining represented 25.2 million jobs, or only 19% of non-farm employment.

I do not know how many farm related jobs there are, but I do know that 81% and 19% add up to 100%.

This tells me that since at least the year 2000 probably over 80% of jobs are now service related and less than 20% of us are now employed in manufacturing. That means as a nation we do not really manufacture much any more. Can you say trade deficit?

We no longer have an industrial economy, just like we will never again have an economy based on agriculture.

The advent of the personal computer in the mid 1990s, along with breakthroughs in voice and data communication, created opportunities for businesses to decentralize and allowed for a return to the trend of the small office concept.

Since the end of the 20th century the term “SOHO”, an acronym for “Small Office/Home Office” has come to be used to define this important business niche.

New technologies will continue to create a demand for individuals who work from home or in a virtual office. Many people are now employed as consultants, independent contractors, or organized as small business entities with very specialized services designed for the project outsourcing of larger companies, often not even industry or country specific.

The SOHO or online virtual office is not just for consultants and independent contractors any longer. The members of many other occupational ranks, and especially online business owners now help comprise this diverse sector.

A large array of products and services also are designed specifically for the “SOHO” market. Many books are published specifically targeted to this business model, everything from general business advice to guides on setting up fairly sophisticated computer systems, telecom systems, and Internet and Intranet systems.

The small business entrepreneur generally has demanded and usually has always benefited from high technology, allowing small business to be competitive.

So, if you do not own a farm, chances are that in the future you will be working in the service sector and quite possibly from your home office. This probably holds true in most other developed countries as well, due to an increasingly underemployed labor force and shrinking job markets.

The online virtual office is here to stay and is for anyone that seldom needs an office. If you own a laptop with wireless connectivity you may be lucky enough to work pretty much anywhere, if you have access to the Internet.

But let’s take it one step further for those who would dream of living where they wish, and working online from wherever they are. Work is no longer necessarily site specific.

Is it really just a dream? Not any more.

More and more people are finding that with increasingly more affordable technology, VoIP services, videoconferencing, and reliable worldwide courier services, they at one time or another may find themselves working from a beach, or a mountain top…and in some cases may rarely have to make an appearance at the traditional office again.

Charting the Course – Business Plan Development & Research

As it is necessary to understand the direction and strength of the wind, before sailing, one must know the contrary winds in business. Charting a development strategy for a large or small business requires detail information about the competition. Too many entrepreneurs launch out with a dream, but never bring it down to the real world where men, women and children make the decisions “to buy or not to buy.” What are the qualities and flaws of the competitive products or services? Where and how are they sold? What are the prices and discounts? Who sells them? The provider’s reputation, financial strength, history and sales staff provide important clues to the nature of competition a product faces. The best ways to research include:

· Search the Internet for information, critiques, or evaluations of your competitors;
· Purchase the product or service for your personal evaluation;
· Find out what potential consumers think about it;

Getting this information requires a bit of work and research. Visit the competitor, interview their customers, sit in a place where you can observe the operation, and keep records. Who’s buying? What are they buying? At what price? Always look for any wrinkles in the competitor’s operation.

Once you have drawn a picture of the competitor, compare your own business plan to that. What advantage does your business strategy, location, products or services have over the competition? In particular, consider the pricing. Can you compete on price? If your goods are higher in price explain why. You may succeed with higher prices, but there will have to be reasons why people will pay more for your products. The aesthetics of the store, the nature of a guarantee, the skills of the sales staff and other features make be an attraction. How does your business compare to the competition? You want to compose your strategy based on the competition. All of this information will give you a clue to the potential you have of beating the competition. If you can beat the competition you have a better chance of being the business to survive.

Avoid These Mistakes As an Affiliate Home Based Business Entrepreneur

Many internet based business entrepreneurs today, who have websites of their own choose to earn an income with affiliate marketing. This is a great way to make money as there is no need to develop your own product or have any of the hassles that one encounters with collecting payment for products that you have sold, or the headache of having to ship these products to the respective customers.

The beauty of affiliate programs is that they are really simple to join and implement and the affiliate gets paid their commissions on a regular basis. This also gives everyone an equal chance of making money online and this attracts many people who are looking for a way to earn an extra income.

These are some of the mistakes that affiliate marketers need to avoid as these could end up costing them a fair amount of their profits on a daily basis.

1. The first mistake that many new affiliate marketers make is that they want to begin earning right away and they tend to choose a program that appears to be “hot” without actually thinking about whether or not the product really appeals to them or not. Making a decision in this manner is obviously not a good idea.

Instead of blindly following the crowd you would be wise to take a bit of time choosing a product that really interests you. For success in any undertaking you need some time to plan and work out what actions you should be taking.

If you research and choose a product that you find appealing and make sure that it is in demand, you will be able to promote it with far more confidence than something that you are only trying to sell to make money from.

2. Because it is so easy to join affiliate programs the temptation to join a multitude of them to try and earn more is something to avoid. We have all heard how important it is to have multiple sources of income and you may feel that you cannot lose by being a part of all these different programs, but the truth of the matter is that all this will do is dilute your focus as you will find it impossible to concentrate on each one of them.

The result of this is that you will not gain the maximum potential in any one of them and you will lose out on the kind of income that it may be possible to generate. The best way to achieve great results is by initially joining only one affiliate program and concentrating all your effort building that one.

The best time to look at joining another affiliate program is after the first one has begun to make a profit. If you follow the system of adding programs slowly but surely to your arsenal the chances of building a successful online income business are a great deal more achievable.

3. The last mistake that we are going to discuss here is the mistake of not buying and using the product or service yourself.

If your aim is to convince people to purchase a product the best way for you to do that is by using it yourself so that you know what the benefits and drawbacks are. If you have never used a product of service yourself how could you possibly convince someone else that it is good and know that this is true?

It is only when you experience something with a good outcome that you can truly get enthusiastic about it. This is the best way to relay the message that you want to pass on, as your natural excitement will be apparent in the way you promote what you are offering. Failing to do this will cost you dearly.

So to summarize; time is of the essence here. To build a profitable and successful online income based business you must take the necessary time to analyze and plan your strategies and check regularly to see whether or not you are on the right path.