Friday, January 22, 2010

Marketing Flyer for Small Business

This marketing flyer / letter is from a real person providing personal and concierge services.  If you live in the Chicago area - Jody's contact information is at the bottom.  It is also a classic example of marketing ones product and/or services.

   Your Left Hand
There are times in everyone’s life when it is just impossible to get everything completed on your or your family members ‘ 
“To-Do List”.  Let me help make your day more enjoyable and manageable by offering my Personal Assistant/Concierge Services providing the following services:

Grocery shopping, personal shopper and gift shopping
Organize your household, office, closets, personal needs, or just help  dispose of unnecessary items in your home
Run errands, banking deposits, pharmacy, library, video store, dry cleaners, or  
Post Office to name a few
          Make doctors’ appointments
                Pay bills and file and track insurance claim forms
Personal and Business correspondence including tracking special occasions and sending cards out
          Locate qualified repairmen and services
 Wait for installers and deliveries
          Make travel arrangements, assist with parties and help plan events
         Holiday planning, gift wrapping and delivery
Any other services that may be desired
I am committed to assisting you in an efficient manner so you can focus on the more important things in life.

Jody Nesva,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Extra Money from Stock Dividends

The last year has been personally the most difficult financially we've ever had.  Between laid off from my job last January (and only a few contract jobs since), a fire in a rental property, a new furnace, and higher than usual medical costs, we are rapidly burning through our savings.  Unfortunately, despite post-graduate education and many years of work experience, I've been unable to land a position.  I'm overqualified for the basic ones - employers know I'll cut and run if something better comes along - and I'm not specialized enough for what the market demands right now.

What to do?  My wife doesn't make much, I just lost my health insurance, my unemployment will run out shortly, and we've cut all fat from our budget.  We basically live on macaroni and cheese with tuna.  We are considering selling one of the two rental units - that would at least give us a little breathing room - but dislocate one of our daughters and cause family friction.

I've got some small investments outside of IRAs (don't want to touch those) and have decided they can provide some income by either selling for cash or by reallocating from growth to income.  As a quasi-knowledgeable investor, I feel comfortable in researching and doing this.  One of my better sources for information is The Motley Fool's web site.  Do a little poking around there and you'll find a list of the S&P 500 highest 50 dividend stocks.  Many are common recognizable names that pay regular dividends to their shareholders.  Open up an account at a low-cost broker such as Sharebuilder, buy some stock, and have some extra income, via dividends, flowing in.

A word of caution to all: DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST BEFORE INVESTING.  I am NOT a registered financial planner, broker or claim to be so.  Investing involves a certain level of risk, as 2008 clearly demonstrated.  But these are difficult times and investing and dividends can be a viable option.  Also, dividend income typically means taxes too, so consulting your accountant is encouraged.

Luck to all in 2010, may all our ships come in to port!

- AJ 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Free Office Software

WARNING: Read this article only if you want to save money on basic software for your business.

For those of us involved in small business ventures, expenses are an ongoing concern. One easy way to save hundreds to thousands of dollars in software expenses is to take advantage of the increasingly common and available Open Source software.

You may have heard of Linux or Gimp (a PhotoShop-like program) or MySQL (database) – each of these is an General Purpose License (FREE) product that rivals its paid counterparts. While some of these products are preferred by more advanced users, the most common programs used are discussed below.

We've mentioned in previous postings the value of OpenOffice software vs. shrink-wrapped, over the counter products such as Microsoft Office. I realize that almost everyone is familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and the common user interface.

Does Word's interface resemble the above? What you see is OpenOffice's Writer product. All common features and interfaces are much like their counterparts in the MS Office suite.

“The most widely used alternative to Microsoft Office is an open-source program called OpenOffice, which is sponsored by Sun Microsystems. OpenOffice is an entire office collection that consists of a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and some other applications. It also features Base as an alternative to Access, along with two additional applications - Draw and Math.

OpenOffice tries to match all the major features of Microsoft's program. OpenOffice can read files created in Microsoft Office, and it can create new files that can also be opened by Microsoft Office or specific files that can only be open in OpenOfficeOrg. Therefore, you could take home spreadsheets created at work using Excel, and edit them on your home computer without having to buy Office, or you can create Microsoft Office files at home and take them to work.” 1

The cost for this? FREE. Read that line again: the charge for these necessary programs is NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, ZIP. FREE.

The latest versions of the product include compatibility with Office 2007 suite and XML support. Multiple languages are also a feature available in all versions of OpenOffice.

One drawback of OpenOffice is lack of an email client and organizer similar to Outlook. Other free programs are available for email and will be discussed in a future post.

Convinced yet? For more information and to download the products, go here:

By the way, this entire article was written using Open Office Writer.

- AJ

This article is the opinion of the author and Thesmallbizpro. Neither the author nor Thesmallbizpro is affiliated with Sun Microsystems or any other open source developer or distributor, and receives no pay or  compensation in any way, shape or form for this article.