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IT consulting is a very different animal when working with government and school districts. Consider persuing theses businesses only after you've exhausted the ones in the sweet spot of IT consulting.

IT Consulting: Moving from Micro Businesses to the Sweet Spot

IT Consulting: Moving from Micro Businesses to the Sweet SpotIn IT consulting you have many different options in who you choose as your clients. Larger than the sweet spot businesses are the large small businesses, which provides a different "IT consulting" opportunity.Large/Small Businesses DefinedLarge/Small Businesses have 5-100 seats, 50-100 computers, anywhere from 50-200 employees and US annual revenue somewhere in the ballpark of 5 million up to 20 million. At that size, you are going to start running into a lot more publicly run corporations.They are generally going to have at least 2 or more dedicated servers. At that size, beyond the sweet spot you start to see something very different about the dynamics of working with that account. You start to see an in-house IT manager, in most cases that is hired to handle a lot of the generalist work.These Companies Have An On-Staff ProfessionalThese large/small businesses wont just have a technician, coordinator, or guru. They will actually have a person whose skills on probably on par with yours. They may be vendor certified they may know a couple of different operating systems, a couple of different database platforms, or a software developer.Whatever it is, but they definitely have the skills to qualify them as a full-fledged IT pro. And they are brought in a lot of times to handle the generalist work. If you want to be able to provide IT consulting to these businesses, youre going to need to deeply specialize.Copyright MMI-MMVI, Small Biz Tech Talk. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Sweepstakes: You really can be a winner

Sweepstakes: You really can be a winner

Anybody can win a sweepstakes. No special skills are required. Unlike a contest, you don't have to have a way with words, a knack for cooking, or any particular ability. In this article I'll show you how easy it is to get started with sweepstakes. Make no mistake about it, sweepstakes are games of luck. But you'd be amazed by how much you can improve your chances of winning them. Anybody can win a sweepstakes. No special skills are required. Unlike a contest, you don't have to have a way with words, a knack for cooking, or any particular ability.I believe that entering sweepstakes and contests has been widely overlooked as a means of unwinding from the stresses and strains of everyday life. I find that sitting down in front of the television after a long day at the office, and taking a little time to fill our entry forms can be quite therapeutic. You should enjoy the process of entering sweepstakes and contests and not just its rewards. If you can do that, then you'll never be a loser. Your life will be enriched by spending your free time doing something you find truly entertaining.Tips to help you win more.Enter The Small Ones. Its natural to skip over the events with smaller prizes and go for the big ones. However, since they get fewer entries, the odds of winning the events with small prizes are better. A smaller prize might not be as appealing, but youll probably have a better chance of winning it.Enter The Hard Ones. Some events require you to jump through hoops to enter. You may have to complete a survey, answer questions, or perform some other activity. Once again, fewer people will enter these types of events giving you much better odds. A few of the hard ones will also allow you to mail in your entries without performing any of their online tasksHow to get started.First you need to find the sweepstakes and for that you can use one of the free sweepstakes directories like www.sweepswire.com or www.prizetune.com here you'll find new fresh sweepstakes everyday grouped in categories and entry type. Daily Sweepstakes, weekly sweepstakes, monthly sweepstakes and new sweepstakes.Automated entry services, speed up winning.If you would like to speed up your number of entries you can use a service like www.fastsweeper.com. Here you can enter hundreds of sweepstakes everyday with a single click. I have tested fastsweeper and it returned 4 wins in three months; $500 cash, Ipod, 3days/2nights vacation to Florida and a new laptop computer.At this point, it's all up to you. The work isn't hard, and if you find it as relaxing and therapeutic as I do, then you can't go wrong. You're one step closer to winning already.

10 Financial Yardsticks for Your Small Business

10 Financial Yardsticks for Your Small Business

Time and again, accountants and consultants who specialise in small businesses say that such enterprises don't pay enough attention to cash flow. That's the measure of how much money you really have in the business.

Be Wary of Big Contracts

"Small entrepreneurs wind up taking big orders that get them in trouble," says Ronald Lowy, who heads a college business administration department. "They want the big contract, but they're not getting enough money at the front end of it and they don't have the cash reserves to pay workers and other bills while they're waiting to get paid themselves. They might show a profit on an accrual basis, but from a cash-flow standpoint, they don't."

Judith Dacey, a certified public accountant, calls a cash-flow statement "probably the most important thing in telling you if your business is on or off target." As an example she describes how board members of a non-profit group were not examining their cash-flow statements.

"They were hiring people and spending money on membership campaigns, and doing all of these things based on money they thought they had from looking at the profit-and-loss (P&L) statements," Dacey says. "They didn't realise that the profit-and-loss statement was an accrual statement, which basically means you are including paper promises of payments to come, not money that you have in the bank."

The non-profit board became aware of the difficulty only when the organisation bounced a check. Employees had to be laid off, and belts were tightened. "That could have been avoided if they'd seen the cash-flow statements," Dacey says. "A cash-flow statement tells you here's the cash that has actually come in and that you can work with."

A statement of cash flow starts with the bottom of your profit and loss statement the line that shows your net income. Several adjustments are made to that number. The details are a little complex but a good accounting program that does a P&L and a balance sheet will also calculate this statement for you.

Tracking the Big 10

If you've established a way to track cash flow, then you can go on to organise and track 10 financials for your business. That's a big list, but don't panic: As with profit and loss statements, you can take advantage of software programs to automate tracking for many of the following:

Your Assets

Tracking your equipment, furniture, real estate and other holdings should be easy. But to have a true idea of the value of your business, you also have to track changes in the value of those assets. More than one small business has found itself located on a piece of land that's worth more than the business itself. Similarly, you also will want to track the declining value of assets such as computers and office furniture.

Your Liabilities

On the face of it, this is easy liabilities are what you owe. But what you owe isn't always as obvious as a bill from your landlord. Payroll taxes are a liability that depend on the size of your payroll. Loans are a clear liability, but in repaying them you'll want to be able to track how much of a payment is applied against principal and interest.

What does it Cost You to Produce What You Sell?

If you're buying a finished item for resale, this is relatively easy. It's trickier if you have to calculate all the factors, such as labour, that go into manufacturing a product.

What's it Costing You to Sell What You Sell?

Advertising, marketing, labour, storage and the catch-all category of overhead it's useful to know how much it costs you to get a product sold as well as what it costs you to create it.

What's Your Gross Profit Margin?

This is calculated by dividing your total sales into your gross profit. If your gross profit margin is staying consistent or trending upward, you're probably on track.

Being able to track a declining margin can give you a heads-up that you must adjust your prices or your costs. In the worst cases your gross profit and profit margin disappear altogether. At that point, you'll be like the fellow who lost money on every sale but figured he could make it up in volume. Don't do it.

What's Your Debt-to-asset Ratio?

This ratio can let you know how much of the stuff you have in your company is actually owned by someone else your lender. Having this ratio climb can be a bad sign. It can happen as part of a major expansion, but it can also indicate that you're getting in over your head.

What's the Value of Your Accounts Receivable?

This is the money you are owed. If accounts receivable are on the rise, you may be getting a warning that the folks you sell to are starting to stumble.

What's Your Average Collection Time on Accounts Receivable?

This is probably one of the most aggravating pieces of information for cash-strapped businesses, because it tells you how many days you're acting as 'banker' for the people who owe you money.

What Are Your Accounts Payable?

The flip side of accounts receivable. An increase in your accounts payable may merely reflect a larger amount of purchases overall. But an increase that hasn't been planned or managed can be an internal warning that your company's financial strength is waning.

What's Happening With Your Inventory?

There are occasions, even in this just-in-time business world, when building up a significant inventory can be a good thing.

If prices for items you sell or use in production are relatively low, putting some of your money into inventory may make sense.

Being able to track your inventory can tell you whether business is increasing or slowing down. It also tells you how much money is tied up in this unproductive asset.

Knowing what's up with your cash flow is essential to your business. But sometimes the figures can be difficult to understand. Don't ever be afraid to turn to professionals for some help.

Working with information

Working with information

Its not a secret any more that our century is a very rapid and changing era. People own huge amounts of data, which sometimes have to be transported. And here some difficulties emerge.First of all, there is a problem of large files that cannot be saved on a removable flash drive because of their size. Another complication comes when you need to share a large amount of information that cannot be sent by e-mail.Who can encounter such difficulties? First of all, people who need to carry a lot of data with them. For example, travelers, who cannot do without their favorite movies and music and dont want to carry a lot of discs. Businessmen who spend a lot of time in business trips need to have a lot of information close at a hand to succeed in negotiations or presentations. People, who make a lot of video, want much place to keep their records. The simplest way out is to upload all your files to some file-hosting site and just put down your link.Sometimes you have to make urgent changes in a huge report or presentation and send it to your boss immediately. Or, being a member or a fan of some sports team, which played some out match, you want the video from the game to appear in the video section of you home University news as soon as possible. The only appropriate decision is to upload your file and send a link. It saves a lot of time. People dont have to wait till your arrival. And you dont waste precious days, hours or even minutes and seconds.So now it is obvious that working with information requires data storage, transportation and sharing. And the easiest, safest and most reliable way out is using file-hosting resources.

7 Strategies Guaranteed to Increase Your Productivity

Copyright 2006 Sandra P. MartiniHave you ever felt exhausted at the end of the day, knowing you worked your butt off and yet wondering what the heck you actually accomplished or, worse yet, wondering why nothing has been crossed off your to do list? Its frustrating to say the least.Here are seven strategies guaranteed to increase your productivityand I dont use the word guaranteed lightly!1. Most To-Do lists are useless.There, Ive said it and those time management companies who insist we make lists and put pretty-colored A, B, and C identifiers after tasks will have to deal with it.The reason why, quite simply, is that tasks have start times, but no end times. If you make just one change, do this: Put a start and an end time for everything you do and watch how much you get done!2. The right toolsYou need to have a schedule one where YOU purposefully script out those things that are your priorities for the day and you insure that nothing bumps them. I have a schedule for each day, week and for the year so if a client asks me to attend a call or visit his office, I know what Im doing.Your schedule should include those things that you need to do every day until you have built a routine around them. I write every day. Not some days, not most days, but every day and it was only by having it on my schedule that it got done. Its now a routine that I rarely miss.Another critical tool is what I affectionately call my Chat Pad. I have a steno notebook for each client/key person that I deal with and keep a list of what I need to discuss with them (and the resulting actions of that discussion) so I can group phone calls or send one summary email rather than several throughout the day.3. Ask this question.What is the most effective use of your time RIGHT NOW?For those rare times when you havent scheduled your time, ask yourself the above question and then follow through with working on the answer. You will dramatically increase the quality of the work you do.4. Know your worth.How much money do you want to make this year? If we assume that you work 8-hour workdays and you will earn $50,000 this year, then each hour is worth $25.61 and every minute is worth $0.427.You intend on making $100,000 this year? Then double the above figures: every hour is worth $51.23 and every minute is worth $0.852.So for every workday hour that you waste, you have lost $6,250 on a $50,000 income and $12,500 on a $100,000 income.5. Delegate, dont abdicate.As an entrepreneur (or aspiring entrepreneur) who now knows the value of his time, you recognize that it is worthwhile to delegate those activities that you either arent good at or dislike.While delegating is critical to the most optimal use of your time and energies, be sure not to abdicate responsibility for those items. Keep a running list of the tasks youve delegated and check in with that person (remind yourself using your Chat Pad).6. Post your goals.Having your goals posted provides consistent motivation on why you are doing the things you are doing.Want an extra kick in the pants? Post a picture of that new car, new home, or dream vacation. Seeing the reason you are working to meet your goals will provide your subconscious with extra motivation to get the job done.7. Keep a success journalSuccess journals can be done several ways. You can simply keep a written record of all your successes or, you can follow Arnold Palmers method: he had a table wherein he inlaid his golf medals and, when he placed one medal in the table, he had a new hole grouted for the next, as-yet-to-be-won medal. Always looking ahead, always anticipating the next success.Remember this: time can not be replaced. You can replace money, you can replace clients or projects. You can not replace time. Use it wisely.

The Great Back Door Secret to Creating Wealth

If you're interested in creating wealth, there are some steps of preparation you don't want to miss. While there is a great back door secret to "creating wealth" , the road to discovering that secret differs from person to person. Let's explore some simple ways you can get started on that road and how these steps apply to your daily life.Study about Attracting WealthThis might seem obvious, but probably one of the best ways to create wealth is to study how others have done it in the past. Choose carefully whose life and which methods of creating wealth you study. Some people have created wealth through not-so-honest means, and you'll definitely want to stay honest and happy while attracting wealth in your life.Look for entrepreneurs who built companies from the bottom up. Look for their "great back door secret" to "attracting wealth" . Perhaps they started going door to door as salesmen or started as a clerk and worked their way up to the position of president or vice president of a large company. There are those who used wise investments (stocks or real estate) to build their fortune. You can find plenty of books written by wealthy men and women or go online to read about how to be successful. The key is to study before leaping into an opportunity, and take notes as you go.Determine What Brings You HappinessWealth means nothing without happiness. Being wealthy makes life easier in a financial sense, but nothing satisfies like doing what you love most. The great news is you can do both. Why not do what you love most while simultaneously attracting wealth? Write down some hobbies and the type of work you enjoy. Then, do research to find out if this would make a feasible business for long-term success.Set Goals for Financial FreedomSet some goals for your business by writing down the income you would like to earn this coming year, in five years, and even ten years from now. Be sure to create goals for both the short term and long term, and write a business plan with the steps needed to reach the goals. Also, create a budget for your new venture to determine spending for advertising, inventory (if applicable), and normal operating expenses.Creating Wealth by Helping OthersOne way to be successful is to help others reach their goals. You will attract wealth as you help others realize their dreams. You can do this by finding out the problems and concerns others may have in business or even in their personal lives, and then create solutions for them. For example, if you're good at marketing, you can be a marketing consultant to help business owners increase their profits. If you're interested in health and fitness, you can develop products or services to help others lead a healthier life. If you're a financial guru, help others gain control of their finances. The possibilities are endless!Creating wealth is not so difficult once you discover your own skills and potential. This great back door secret is simple to understand, but many people are so busy trudging along in their current job that they never make an effort to better themselves. Keep a positive mindset as you reach for your goals and you'll soon be attracting wealth like never before!

Summary

IT consulting is a very different animal when working with government and school districts. Consider persuing theses businesses only after you've exhausted the ones in the sweet spot of IT consulting.