All posts by Steve C

Business Expenses: What You Can Deduct on Your Taxes

One of the key reasons for starting your own business is that it can provide an effective tax shelter. Many of the expenses that you incur during day to day operations can be deducted directly from your taxable income. Since there are many misconceptions regarding what can and can not be deducted, I thought that I would go over some of the common items that small businesses can write off. The Tax Code The tax code is a little bit vague which is why many people get themselves into trouble. A deductible business expense is defined as any expense...

How to Deduct Your Vehicle on Your Taxes

Deducting your vehicle as a business expense is a bit tricky but well worth it, especially if you’re putting a lot of miles on your car. The number one rule of thumb when expensing your vehicle is to keep detailed records. Make sure you use a trip or mileage log and write down each and every mile that you are using the car for business. This sounds like a major pain, but its not too bad if you keep a log book and pen in your car at all times. Whenever you drive somewhere, just write...

4 Tips on How To Deal With Irate Customers

Even if you sell quality products and deliver your products in a timely manner, you’re still bound to have to deal with irate customers at some point in time. Sometimes they are mad because you are completely in the wrong but most of the time, they are mad due to something beyond your control. Here’s 4 tips to remember the next time you’re in a bad situation with a customer Keep Your Cool, Listen and Empathize Your customer might cuss you out over the phone or they might make ridiculous demands. No matter what, you should never lose...

How To Select a Credit Card Merchant and Gateway

Selecting a credit card merchant and gateway is not inherently a difficult thing to do. But if this is your first online store, the evaluation process can be a bit daunting due to the sheer multitude of options to choose from. To make things easier, you should always select a credit card merchant that is supported by your shopping cart out of the box. For example, below is a list of merchants that are supported by OSCommerce out of the box Authorize.net iPayment 2Checkout PsiGate SecPay Authorize.net is probably the most popular credit card processing option which is supported by a number of popular...

3 Reasons You Should Stock Your Own Items Instead of Drop Shipping

Many people who open an online store naturally assume that drop shipping their items is the best way to go. After all, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of carrying inventory and the product companies themselves are responsible for getting your orders to their end destination. While drop shipping, when employed successfully, can result in a low effort, low risk business model, many online businesses fail to consider the following disadvantages. Customer Support Because the delivery of your product is out of your hands, you may run into customer support issues when your customer does not receive their...

SEO: 10 Ways to Optimize Your Online Store for the Search Engines

The eventual success of your online store will depend on several factors. Probably the single most important factor will be where and how you are indexed in the various search engines. I’ve compiled below a comprehensive list of items that your online store should focus on to obtain the best rankings possible. In my experience, most online stores do not follow all of the rules shown below. Implementing these 10 little SEO techniques on your own online store should give you an advantage over the competition. Make Sure All of Your Internal Links Point to the Same...

5 Tips for Establishing an Efficient Picture Flow For Your Store

If your store is anything like ours, we have to go through hundreds and hundreds of product photos in selecting the best ones to use for our website. If you don’t have a good photo flow from your digital camera to your website, you could easily waste many hours fiddling with the product photos alone. I’ve put together some tips below that will hopefully make your picture flow more efficient. Use a Good Photo Software Manager While there are many good software packages available on the market, I have found Google’s Picasa to be an excellent solution for your photo...

4 Things to Avoid with the Product Pictures on Your Online Store

Taking good product photos is essential to operating a successful online store. Even more important than taking good photos though is how they are displayed on your website. Any online store can have beautiful pictures, but many stores make critical mistakes in the organization and efficiency of their product displays. Below is a list of 4 things to avoid when displaying pictures on your online store. Don’t Use High Resolution Photos I’ve seen many online stores fall into this trap. They use an extremely high resolution photo for all of the product pictures on the site. ...

Choosing the Right Shopping Cart Software Package

So you’ve decided to host your own website and open up your online store. Where do you go from here? There are a multitude of shopping cart packages out there and it’s extremely difficult to compare them all. Hopefully, I can save you some time and tell you what to look for. At the very basic level, there are 2 types of shopping cart packages, paid software packages and open source shopping carts, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Paid Software Shopping Cart Packages With paid software packages such as XCart, Miva Merchant etc…, you usually have...

Why You Should Never Start an Ebay Store

If you are going to take your online store seriously, you need to register your own domain and implement your own website. Many people who don’t consider themselves tech saavy often question their own abilities and end up relying on 3rd party sites such as Ebay, Yahoo etc… to implement their website store for them. Let me tell you why that’s a bad idea. Ebay Doesn’t Have Your Interests In Mind Ebay, like most publicly traded companies are primarily concerned with their own growth and stock price. They don’t care whether you are successful, nor do they care whether...

3 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Start Your Own Business

While everyone has different ways to motivate themselves, here are 3 unique ways to give yourself that little extra kick to jumpstart your business. Look at Your Tax Return Go ahead and dig up your last years tax return and paste it up on the wall directly in front of your desk. Make sure you highlight your adjusted gross income, your taxable income and your total amount of taxes paid. Now take a calculator and take the amount of taxes paid and divide that by your adjusted gross income. Let’s call this number the “Getting Screwed” percentage or GSP for short....

Finding a Niche Market for Your Online Store

Often times, finding the right market to pursue is the hardest part of starting your store. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing which market segment to attack. Choose an Area or Set of Products That You Are Passionate About Many people make the mistake of opening a store and selling a product just because a particular product is hot. If a product is hot, chances are there will be lots of competition and unless you are truly passionate about what you are selling, you will not be able to differentiate your store from your competitors. Having expertise in your...

How We Got Motivated to Start Our Own Business

In theory, it shouldn’t have required much courage at all for us to start an online business. Opening a business, especially on the web, is about as cheap and easy as it gets. All it takes is 10 bucks for a domain name and as little as 5 bucks a month for some web hosting to throw up a website. There are already a plethora of open source web packages already written and presented nicely for you to use and everything is extremely well documented. There is almost zero financial risk involved, so why was it so hard...