Great Ideas for Marketing Your Tile Business on the Internet

If you want to be successful at marketing your tile business, you will need to turn to the internet as your marketing solution. Thanks to the fact that most people will search online before leaving their homes to make a purchase, you will find that your tile business can have a huge advantage over your competitors if you can turn to the internet for marketing.

There are many ways that the internet can help you market your tile business. The world of internet marketing is fast becoming one of the most competitive arenas in the world, and you will find that you will have to do a good deal of work in order to market your tile business online. However, if you are willing to do the work, you will find that marketing your tile business on the internet is the best thing that you can do for your company.

Step 1: Build a Website

The first step that you will need to take to begin marketing your tile business on the internet is to create a website for your company. You can have a simple website created, as it will just be the face of your company. If you want to truly succeed, you will find that a more advanced website will be advantageous and will help you to market your website more effectively.

The reason that a more advanced website will be more effective is that more people will be enticed to visit your website. The more people you can attract to your website, the more advertising you will be able to achieve. There are many aspects of your website that will lead to your success online, but nothing will be more important than having a website that is constantly being updated. The best way to have the ability to add new information to your website is to create a blog on your website. If you can post informational articles related to your tile business, you will be able to generate more traffic that will direct people to your site. The more people that visit your site, the more likely you are to receive customers.

Step 2: Internet Marketing

Once you have built your website, you will need to start trying the various techniques involved in the internet marketing game. There are hundreds of techniques that you can try, but here are some of the techniques that will be most effective in leading customers to your website:

Social media marketing is one of the most effective internet marketing techniques, and you can start driving traffic to your site through Facebook and YouTube. Facebook is the largest social network, and you can tell all of your friends about your website. Ask them to mention it to your friends, and you will start driving traffic towards your website. YouTube is a great place for you to post videos, and you can post some instructional videos on how to lay the different types of tiles effectively. Insert a link to your website at the end of your videos, and upload them all to YouTube. The more people search for your videos, the more people will see the link at the end that will lead them to your website.

Craigslist is the largest online classified ads website in the world, and you can harness it to help you advertise your business. All you need to do is write up an advertisement for your tile services, insert a link to your website, and create a unique title that will catch the attention of readers. Post the ad in the Craigslist section for your city, and ensure that it is in the right category. Millions of people use Facebook every day, and you will find that it is one of the best platforms for advertising.

If you want to succeed in the world of internet marketing, you will find the search engine optimization is the key. The higher your ranking is on the search engines, the more likely it will be that people will find your website. Learn as much as you can about SEO, or hire a company to optimize your web page to make it as search engine friendly as possible.

Exchange links with other companies in a parallel industry to yours. Find a website that promotes painting or other construction services, and offer to promote their link on your site in exchange for them promoting your link on their site. This link exchange can be one of the most effective methods of getting your website known, as many links directed to your page will usually increase your SEO ranking. You will also find that people browsing the other websites will be interested in clicking on yours, as you are providing a service similar to the one that they are looking for.

Use Pay per Click advertisements to promote your website. Pay Per Click ads are posted all over the internet, and they are usually displayed on websites that are similar to yours. You will pay for every time someone clicks on your advertisement to visit your web page, but you will find that these PPC ads will be some of the most effective methods of driving targeted traffic towards your site.

These are just a few ways that you can start marketing your website on the internet, and the sky is the limit. The world of internet marketing is growing every day, and hundreds of new ways to market your tile business online are being discovered every month. If you are serious about marketing your tile business on the internet, you will find that you can easily learn by investing a bit of time into studying internet marketing.

Rodan and Fields Business Opportunity: A Comprehensive Review

Rodan and Fields is a rising network marketing company. Since it launched in 2008, the growth has been impressive and on track to break sales records. But what does this mean to a new distributor looking to join Rodan and Fields?

The company seems solid and backed by two well-known Stanford dermatologists: Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields – the creators of Proactiv.

Since they launched their own network marketing company, the leadership team not only includes an online nurse to assist with product related questions but also corporate staff that includes the former CEO of Arbonne, Bob Henry. The company has all the ingredients for success and poised to continue growing with a stellar leadership team in place.

There are numerous training and support from corporate as well as field training and multiple live business opportunities/seminars for consultants and guests.

My only concern is in the business opportunity itself and the high-end prices. I talked to several consultants during my research and there seems to be a big emphasis on ‘leading the business with the business opportunity first’ rather than selling the products to customers.

In my experience, to sustain long-term growth, a network marketing company should include active business builders but also customers.

The only cost to become a consultant is $45. However, some uplines encourage consultants to invest in business builder kits costing $395 or $695 because there’s a bonus for the uplines to sign up new consultants that start with these kits. This is particularly worrisome to me and tends to bring out the not-s-honest folks.

Frontloading is an issue in some network marketing opportunities. You don’t have to look hard to find all kinds of network marketing products on Ebay. I’m particularly weary of companies that offer mutliple start kit options loaded with products.

Not that it’s not a good value from a savings standpoint because it is. As long as you plan on re-selling the products so you can profit sooner than later, otherwise you’ll be stuck with those products.

The only cost to become a consultant is $45. However, some uplines encourage consultants to invest in business builder kits costing $395 or $695 because there’s a bonus for them to sign up new consultants that start with these kits. This is particularly worrisome to me and tends to bring out the not-so-honest reps.

With that said, if you are planning on hosting home parties, and demonstrating products then having these product lines available for your guests to sample wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Unfortunately, most people start out with this intention because they’re excited about the opportunity but inevitably end up stuck with these products. Hence, always ask if there’s a buy-back policy or if there’s a limit to discourage overstocking.

As for the products… they are pricey. I’ve used Proactiv a few times with success and they costs around $19.99. The new Rodan and Fields acne line Unblemish is a whopping $160 for four products. And yes, they are from the same creators, however the new line has some slight changes to them.

That’s not to say you can’t convince people to buy the products. But since there are no samples to try before you buy, I’m not a likely customer to cough up $160 plus shipping to test the products.

Even though there’s a guaranteed 60-days to return the products. Nevertheless, it’s an investment but more importantly, returning products is simply a pain in a (you know what I mean).

If you are serious about joining Rodan and Fields as a business builder, I would do a thorough research and contact corporate directly if something doesn’t sound right to you. Network marketing is a fantastic industry however as with any industry, a few rotten apples can ruin it for the rest of the honest folks that are building the business with integrity.

Regardless of what you do, you must take 100% responsibility for your business, and only do what is comfortable for you. More importantly, Rodan and Fields is one of many network marketing opportunities available to you.

No company will make you rich unless you DO the work yourself. And when it comes to any business success – products don’t sell themselves. Nor can you piggyback a reputable brand such as Rodan and Fields. Your success is up to your entrepreneurial mindset and your marketing skills.

In today’s competitive marketplace – if you don’t know how to position yourself and leverage the internet to attract prospects, your business will eventually fail without new leads.

**Do You Want to Attract Endless Leads the RIGHT way? Tips Revealed in my new FREE 27 Pages Report
–> http://www.marketingdirectsales.com

Sample Roofing Contractor Business Plan Outline

Is it worth writing a lengthy business plan for your roofing startup? Business plan preparation can be time consuming and many entrepreneurs are tempted to go ahead without one unless they really need it to prove the viability of ideas to partners or investors.

Your roofing business won’t be a huge, complicated business for a few years anyway so why bother? Well, while I would not suggest that you spend months writing a 100 page report, it could be useful for you to have a 10 to 20 page document on your PC that can be your company blueprint for success. You can make changes to it as you slowly learn more about the business.

It will be the key document that sets out exactly how your business is run. If done properly you should basically be able to hand this document over to somebody when they buy your business and they can take over with very little of your time needed to explain things to them.

Here is a brief business roofing business plan template to give you some ideas on how to put your own together.

Contents Page and Executive Summary

This should be a summary of your entire roofing business plan. If you will be presenting the plan to interested parties then let them know the contents. Include a basic summary of your plans to start a roofing business. Outline the opportunities that you see in the market and what you plan to do in order to capture a piece of the pie for yourself.

Background in the Roofing Business

Prove to yourself or others why you are cut out to go into this business. List details on your education and any relevant experience that you have had in the roofing industry or in business in general. Outline your reasons for wanting to start a roofing business.

Mission Statement

Set out your company mission or philosophy in a few words or a short phrase. Try to think about what you want to achieve with your business apart from profits. You should be driven by a desire to deliver a quality service to people in way that satisfies them and provides great value for them while still allowing you to meet your goals. What kind of products and services do you want to deliver? How will you be different from all the other roofing companies?

Business Goals

Set out the goals that you have for your business in its first few years. Set realistic targets that you know are attainable so that you won’t be discouraged if you don’t meet them. Success can be measured by a number of metrics such as the total number of roofing jobs completed per month, the percentage of leads that become new customers or the productivity of your employees for example.

Startup Requirements

List down all of the products and services that your company will offer and then set out a list of equipment and inventory that you will need to get started. If you need to buy a truck then you will be looking at minimum startup costs of around $20,000.

Startup requirements will also include compliance costs. Depending on what state you are operating out of you may need a contractors license, insurance, bonding or to comply with a number of other relevant regulations.

Don’t forget that as well as purchasing all of the necessary roofing equipment you will also have to purchase materials for your first job. Clients will typically pay a large chunk of your total invoice upon completion of the job so you will have to foot the bill until you get reimbursed when they pay their invoice in full.

Structure, Ownership and Management

There are four basic options to consider for your business structure and they include sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability corporation (LLC).

Outline how your business will be owned and make a note of the various parties that may have an ownership stake.

Set out a management structure so that there is no confusion among those involved with the business as to who is responsible for managing each part of the business.

Marketing Plan

Identify your target market both by location as well as other demographic factors and describe the kind of people or properties that make up your target market. Include the results of any market research that you do or local industry statistics that you are able to gather.

Set out a detailed plan for your roofing business marketing. This should include how you plan on getting enquiries, converting them into new accounts and maintaining them over the long term. It should also include brand development, pricing, advertising, a sales approach and other marketing methods.

Competitive Analysis

Write up profiles of your main local competitors and try to understand how they run their businesses. Borrow and adapt characteristics of their business that work and look for weaknesses in their business models that you may be able to capitalize on. Figure out how you will differentiate your brand from theirs in a way that allows you to stand out in the market.

Operations

Include details of the day to day operations of the proposed roofing business. Make a note of your office location, business administration and record keeping systems, plans to hire employees and procedures regarding roofing installations or repairs.

Financial Analysis

Outline some of the methods that you could use to obtain financing for your new venture.

Create a spreadsheet that shows anticipated cash flow forecasts over the first few years of business for a variety of scenarios. You can then determine how profitable you think the business will be in a number of different economic climates.

You will be able to find many free business plan examples online but it can be harder to find a specific sample of a roofing business plan. There are some business planning software programs that you can buy but they are usually just generic business plans that have been adapted anyway.

Unless you can persuade other roofing business owners to share their plan with you then you really have to look at templates from other industries and model your roofing business plan on them.

How to Start a Pet Transportation Business

Pet Transportation Services are needed as the number of pets in the U.S. has grown tremendously over the past few decades. According to the U.S. Pet ownership and Demographics sourcebook, there are an estimated 60 million dogs and 70 million cats in American homes today. Apart from that, households which own pets have been recorded to spend 36% more in 2001 as compared to 1996. With this, owning a business that caters to the pet market, including a pet transportation service has lots of potential for healthy growth.

This is due to the fact that many Americans move around the country yearly and thus would require pet transportation services to move their pets as well. On a smaller scale, pet transportation services can also cater for local residents who require these services to transport their pets to and from the vet, within a local area or even to the crematorium for pets which have died.

Start Up Costs and Financing Sources:

Starting a pet transportation business really depends on the scale that you want your business to be. If you want to start on a smaller scale, all you really need is probably a pickup truck that has been modified to be safe and suitable for the transport of animals. Of course, you will need to set up an office or operate from your home with just a telephone, email and a fax machine. All of these will cost you less than $20,000.

On a larger scale, especially when you are considering cross border transportation, you will probably need to invest on a larger truck that can accommodate a few pets at the same time. Apart from that, the insides of the truck will need to be made suitable, safe and clean for pets, with adequate ventilation and cleaning facilities. In order to make this business viable, you may need to quickly expand your business to include sales agent offices in various locations. This way, you can build up business volume in order to increase profitability. All of these may cost you anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 in initial start up costs.

Financing can be obtained from investors who may be interested in the potentials of such a business. Other than that, lending institutions such as banks can be approached to obtain a loan for the business. As with any business start-up, an impressive business plan must be developed for potential investors and financiers, indicating the potential growth as well as the estimated annual costs and revenue of the business.

Pricing Guidelines for Service:

The pricing strategy for a pet transportation service business fluctuates based on the fixed and variable cost of the business, as well as the nature of the service provided. Local transportation services may start with a minimum charge of $20 to $40 for the first 20 miles and an additional $10 for every 10 miles after that.

As for interstate transportation or transportation between cities, the distance between the origin and the destination will be the major price determinant. With this, prices may range from $100 and up, depending also on the size of the animal and the pet carrier.

Advertising and Marketing:

As you are targeting pet owners, the best marketing approach would to advertise in locations where pet owners would go. Reading material for pet owners as well as events that are attended by the same target group. Placing brochures within pet stores and probably awarding pet stores with commissions for every customer they recommend to you would be a good idea. Advertising in pet magazines or getting a write up on your services would be helpful. Of course, classified ads in the Yellow pages are a must in order to make it easy for customers to locate you.

Other channels of promotion would be participation as a vendor in dog shows or exhibitions. Doing this will help increase awareness on the existence of the business. Additionally, working with associations such as the American Kennel Association would create and improve visibility to pet breeders and pet store owners. Especially when you participate in events organized by these associations.

Launching a website and allowing potential customers to get instant price estimates from your website would also be a great idea.

Essential Equipment

This business requires a fair amount of equipment, in which the most important would be the vehicle that is used to transport the animals. Apart from that, other equipment such as crates, kennels and carriers may be required as some customers do not have these items with them. The size and usage of these crates must be according to the guidelines set by the Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA).

Handlers and drivers will need to be employed to care for the animals while they are in transit. Other equipment required would be built-in sinks within the vehicle to allow for easy cleaning and water refills.

Recommended training, experience, or needed skills:

There is no extensive training required for a pet transportation service business. However, good and responsible drivers and animal handlers need to be engaged. It would be best if you have a background and experience in handling animals during travel so you can train your staff and ensure that they are handling animals in the correct manner. Apart from that, your staff must also know what to do if they encounter problems during the journey, and should also be equipped with the latest kennel and vet location information in case of emergencies.

Apart from that, the business owner must be well informed on all legal requirements pertaining to pet transportation. For example, there are IPATA guidelines on the size of crates and wire crates that are required by law. Moreover, all pets must be accompanied by an inter-state travel certificate that has been certified by a veterinarian.

Income potential:

The income potential of this business is dependent on how large the business grows to. A larger business with multiple offices and destinations will be able to sustain a higher sales volume. With this, the pet transportation business will be able to generate at least a six- figure income each year.

Target market:

Pet owners, pet stores and animal breeders.

Success tips:

A pet transportation business requires investment and a passion for welfare of animals in order for it to be successful. As it is also a niche market, lots of marketing and advertising need to be invested into the business in order to create the awareness of the services.

Important Steps to Start A Septic Truck Business!

Today more than ever, as the economy remains unstable, layoffs have increased and rehiring has been slow. Many jobless individuals have turned to starting their own business which is a great way for many to make a living and have complete control over their livelihood; however, finding the right business to start is a key decision to make.

In a period when general spending and consumption of luxuries is down, business in the service industry can still do well and prosper, especially those niche areas within major industries that face little competition. Due to the very nature of the industry, starting a septic maintenance company has proven to be a profitable choice that is often made since beyond any doubts, there will always be a need for this very necessary service. Best of all, a service business such as this one can be started with as little as only one vacuum truck and some technical knowledge.

Household Necessity

Starting a septic truck service is a solid business plan because there will always be a constant need for this specific requirement. Over a third of all households and other buildings have septic systems that need regular pumping, cleaning, and maintenance; the need for maintaining the system is not going to disappear. With such a captive audience, a small septic company can do quite well as long as all operators are well trained, a high quality service is provided, and a competitive price is being offered. With good quality work ethics, word of mouth can spread quickly in neighborhoods and towns, and help smaller companies grow quickly in the septic service profession.

Low Start-up Requirements

Requirements for starting a septic service are fairly low when compared to other businesses, another plus when considering such an idea. Naturally, the largest expense is obtaining a reliable vacuum truck, closely followed by learning how to properly operate one. Used vacuum trucks can be found at great low prices through auction companies. If a good used vehicle that has been properly maintained is found, it can be more than enough for a fledgling company to start with while money is saved for a newer version. A brand new model can cost nearly $80,000, although it does have better features. Other than these two requirements, the only other necessity is to know where to dump septic waste as well as the cost and requirements to use a dump site for the disposition of the septic waste. The rest is a matter of advertising to attract customers and build a book of business.

Consider Creative Start-up Options

If the cost of buying vacuum trucks is too much at first, a recommendation is to look at businesses that are either selling or looking for partners as a means to expand existing operations. Additionally, some large septic companies offer franchise agreements to small business owners and can help with the initial financial outlay in order to get another franchise owner on the road to success. The reason why there are so many options in this type of business relates directly to the fact that, regardless of the economy, the need for septic services will always exist. Starting this kind of business merely depends on acquiring the necessary tools, then offering a competitive, reliable company to do the work.

Naturally this type of service requires the same sound business plan as any other start-up; however, when all things are carefully considered, it can be relatively easy to get started with a septic pumping service. It is one of the few cases when a less popular or unpleasant job has created a greater demand for those willing to handle it. With the right prior planning and the right septic truck, even an owner-operator type venture can do well and eventually grow to become a profitable endeavor!

How to Start a Discount Card Business

Things you will need:

Business cards, business cards, and more business cards! You can easily find 1,000 quality cards for under $25, and this is an essential tool when promoting your service to local businesses.

Your business name. Something catchy, something available, and something that will appeal to your community. Registering your business name is important, if only to ensure that you don’t set up all the work just to have someone steal the name out from under you.

Getting your business license should be put off. The first year you will not charge anything, assuming you build the business in preparation for a January launch, and as a result it will prove to be an unnecessary fee. But we’ll get into that a bit later.

HOWEVER, there is an amendment to the above suggestion. There are many reasons to join your local chamber of commerce, mostly related to meeting and networking with other local business owners. This will, however, require that you have your business license. Also, one or two businesses may not work with you without this. I’ve only had one person make a fuss. I went out and got my license the next day. But I still feel that this can be started without it, if you are short on money.

How the process works:

You find businesses that are willing to offer a year round discount to exclusive card holders. With some hard work, you should have no less than 70 businesses in time to print.

The point is, people will pay for the card for two reasons: That it benefits the community, via fundraisers, etc, and that it appeals to them in the way of offering some serious savings. Big businesses will often say no. Not always, but even offered free, some people will either believe you to be up to something, or they have been hassled by advertisers for so long that they are cold inside.

Do not get discouraged. Start focusing on small businesses. These people don’t have a lot of money for advertising. They are excited to find something that’s free. And once you have THEM, you have a legitimate image which paves the way to more businesses joining.

So, you’ll offer to add businesses for free for the first year. This gives you the numbers you need, and, let’s be honest, you really need them. But don’t worry. The sales of your cards will generate an impressive ROI, all of which will be used to continue the next year with the goal of charging businesses between $100 and $800 to participate.

You will need to design the booklets yourself, assuming that you are a bit short on cash. Photoshop should do nicely. If you stick to a basic color listing, including a logo, discount and contact info, you should be able to fit all your businesses within an 8 to 12 page booklet. If you do not have the technical know-how, you should be able to hire someone locally, and at a reasonable price.

Your plastic card should have your website, business name and expiration date printed on the card. It should be stylish, something that people won’t mind looking at 4 to 5 times a day. If you can number the cards this will cut down on a few issues later down the road, but realistically, it will prove to be more expensive, and will ultimately be unnecessary.

Also, have a spot for them to sign or print their name. You’ll find that business owners, whether it’s a deal breaker or not, will ask if the cards are numbered, or if there is any way of making sure that a membership card is not being passed around. A signature cuts down on this and gives business owners peace of mind.

But really, if you fail to offer a place for his/her name, just say “who cares if it’s passed around? Regardless of whether someone paid for the card or not, they came to YOU because of your ad and discount.”

Plastic cards will run you approx. $300 for 2,000.

Booklets will cost approx. $500 for 2,000.

Both of these can be purchased at a number of online stores. Do plenty of studying. You’d be surprised what feels like a good deal, until you’re kicking yourself for paying more than you had to.

And drum roll…. BUILD A WEBSITE!

This is so important. You need a website. People expect it. Without a website you might as well be operating out of the garage. And maybe you are, but there is no reason for people to know that. A website can be built in such a way that YOU appear to be a TEAM of fancy business people. This is important for both the customers and the businesses that you represent.

The website should be clean and SEO. It should offer listings of all your businesses. Chances are that your customers will not always have their booklet on them. Likewise, they will not always be on the internet. The website and booklet will work hand in hand.

Dixie Rewards is a business started by Dan Bringhurst. The Dixie Rewards Card was started following the guidelines written above, and the website, while only a part of our business, is an essential tool without which we would not be in business.

Drywall Repair – How to Make an Extra $300, $600 and More Per Week Specializing in Drywall Repair

If you have been a house painter for very long you have undoubtedly come into some form of drywall repair on every interior painting job. As a matter of fact, if you don’t get good at mastering drywall repair, your painting jobs will not be as professional as they could be.

In this article I want to reveal how small drywall repair jobs can mean big profits for you. I am talking about making $350 to $500 on average for just 7 – 10 hours of work. Each job is different of course and may turn out to be just a $200 repair or maybe a $1,500 repair.

The fact is that when it comes to drywall repair people always call someone to do the work. As a house painter I know that most people think they know how to paint and the keyword here is “think”. But when it comes to things like drywall repair they go running home to momma.

And this is why you can make good money doing small repair jobs like plumbers and electricians do. The things that most people are unskilled to do themselves are simple and easy for us that decide to specialize in them.

Some people have the money but lack the time and would rather have someone else do the work anyway. 99% of the time though, people just don’t know the trade. Drywall repair is a secret art. As for the ones that attempt to repair their own drywall themselves, the job always turns out lousy.

Where is the target market for getting business? The answer is residential, light commercial, rental properties, etc. As a house painter you can be limited to a higher end market if you wish to earn professional painters wages. But no so with drywall repair. Your market can be low end to high end simply because of the tremendous profits in smaller jobs that most people can afford.

Most of the time you get calls from people when they have water damage. Sometimes it is from reckless teens roughhousing. I had one job where bees ate a hole in the ceiling. I would say that 95% of drywall repair is from water damage and half of that can be from bad plumbing, a leaky shower that needs to be re-grouted, etc. A leaky roof is usually the other reason.

Sometimes you can get jobs hanging and taping small projects like a garage or part of a basement. You don’t have to take on these bigger projects though. Many times people want to sell their house so they are motivated to fix their walls or ceilings finally.

You may ask yourself, if drywall repairs are so simple how can I get good at doing them? First, You need to learn how to duplicate a few common textures, which is easy once you figure out which tool was used to make it. You will also get repairs for common drywall holes of all sizes, which includes plaster (thin set and lathe). And you will need to know how to repair loose tape seams.

And believe it or not, that’s about all there is to successful drywall repair. These techniques are hidden to the public but easy for you and I. If you ever have seen what homeowners try to do to repair their own drywall you will know instantly that this is an easy profitable business.

Here is the amazing part. Most drywall repairs that I see look awful. Yet the homeowner seems happy with it. The job looks like someone came in and slopped a little mud on the ceiling and left. Yet the repair guy ran off with something like $200 and the homeowner for some odd reason usually thinks the job was done O.K. I have seen this too often.

On a serious note though, doing good professional looking work at affordable prices will give you tons of referrals and repeat business. If you can learn the basics of proper drywall repair and even do a little touch up painting afterward you will do just fine. You can indeed earn $30 – $70 per hour due to the nature of the work.

How can I get business? Shopper guides, classified ads in places like Craig’s List, local online ads, small Yellow Pages ads, word-of-mouth, etc. Why should I start a small drywall repair business? Is there a big future in it? Yes for two reasons. First, self-employment is becoming the new work force and secondly, home repair will always be with us.

Who can do this type of work? Anyone who loves to restore things can do well. People who are gifted at home repairs, house painters, drywall, etc. Anyone who learns a few secrets to successful drywall repair.

Categories of Ethical Dilemmas in Business

First published in Exchange, the magazine of the Brigham Young University School of Business, the following twelve categories were developed to cover the root or cause of most ethical business dilemmas that one might encounter in their jobs. I have summarized them to keep them short and simple.

1. Taking Things That Don’t Belong To You

Everything from taking highlighters from the storage room, to sending personal mail through the mailroom, to downloading unauthorized games to play on your work computer fall into this category. A CFO of a major corporation took a cab from the airport to his home in the city. When he asked the cabbie for receipt, he was handed a full book of blank receipts. Apparently this dilemma of accurately reporting business expenses involves more than just one employee.

2. Saying Things That You Know Are Not True

When a car salesperson insists to a customer that a used car has not been in a previous accident, when it has, an ethical breach has occurred. When a clerk in a store assures a customer that a product has a money-back guarantee, when only trade-ins are allowed, another ethical violation occurred (and perhaps a violation of the law).

3. Giving Or Allowing False Impressions

There is an urban legend in which 2 CD’s were being sold on a TV infomercial that claimed that that all the hits of the 1980’s were on the CDs. The infomercial emphasized over and over again that all songs were performed by the original artists. When they received the CDs, upon closer inspection, they found that all songs had been covered by a band called The Original Artists. While technically true, the impression given by the infomercial was false.

4. Buying Influence or Engaging in Conflict of Interest

When a company awards a construction contract to an organization owned by the brother of the attorney general, or when a county committee who is charged with choosing a new road construction company is traveling around the state looking at roads at the expense of one of the bidders, a conflict of interest arises which might affect the results of that choice.

5. Hiding or Divulging Information

Failing to divulge information from the results of a study on the safety of a new product, or choosing to take your companies proprietary product information to a new job are examples that fall into this category.

6. Taking Unfair Advantage

Have you ever wondered why there seem to be so many product safety rules and procedures? It is primarily the result of laws passed by government institutions to protect the consumer from companies that previously took unfair advantage of them because of their lack of knowledge or through complex contractual obligations.

7. Committing Acts of Personal Decadence

Over time, it has become increasing clear that the acts of employees outside of work can have a negative effect on a businesses image. This is one of the primary reasons companies are minimizing social interactions or events, outside of the office, so that drug or alcohol related events can not be tracked back to the company.

8. Perpetuating Interpersonal Abuse

At the heart of this category of ethical misbehavior is the abuse of employees through sexual harassment, verbal lashing, or public humiliation by a company leader.

9. Permitting Organizational Abuse

When an organization chooses to operate in another country, it sometimes butts up against social culture in which child labor, demeaning work environments or excessive hours are required. It is at this point that the leaders of the company have a choice…whether to perpetuate that abuse or alleviate it.

10. Violating Rules

In some cases, people or organizations violate rules to expedite a process or decision. In many of these cases, the results would have been the same regardless, but by violating the rules or required procedures for that outcome, they can potentially scar the reputation of the organization they work for.

11. Condoning Unethical Actions

Suppose you are at work one day and you notice that a colleague of yours is using petty cash for personal purchases and fail to report it. Perhaps you know that a new product in development has safety issues, but you don’t speak out. In these examples, failing to do right creates a wrong.

12. Balancing Ethical Dilemmas

What about a situation that would be considered neither right, nor wrong? What should be done here? Should Google or Microsoft do business in China when human rights violations are committed daily? Sometimes an organization must balance the need to do business with any ethical dilemmas that might arise from doing business.

How Profitable is the Pressure Washing Business?

The Power Washing Business is a lucrative business that most anyone can start and make a honest living. The start-up capital required is low and there isn’t expensive overhead required to keep your business running. In many areas there is low competition and high demand for both residential and commercial work.

You may have noticed how competitive the landscaping business is in your area. Everyone seems to be driving around a landscaping truck with a lawn mower in the back these days. How often do you see a pressure washing company in your area? The reason being, pressure washing is more of a niche business that most people aren’t knowledgeable about.

A question, commonly asked by people interested in starting their own pressure

washing business is, “How much money can I make running my own pressure washing business?”

Of course this depends on what the demand is in their area and how much work they are willing to put into marketing their business, but here are some numbers that will give you an idea of the profitability:

The average price you can charge to wash a single story house is $350-$450 dollars. Most single story residences on average will take 6 hours of work to accomplish. Often the homeowner will want other things pressure washed or cleaned such as the driveway, roof, fence, area around the pool, etc.

You can charge $100-$150 dollars more for each additional thing they want pressure washed. It’s not uncommon to make $650 dollars for washing a single story house and the fence area, or maybe the house and driveway together.

The commercial side of the business has even higher profit margins. There are a wide range of jobs that have high returns such as cleaning apartment complexes, fleet washing, and parking lots.

A strong desire to succeed along with an effective marketing plan is the key running your own power washing business, and earning a stable, long-term income.

Starting a Taxi Business in Uganda? There Is More Than Meets the Eye

A typical investor in the taxi business in Uganda is going to encounter two key issues even before they start making their first shilling. I explain these issues below.

When I first bought a used taxi from my grandparents, I took it for repair to a mechanic in the Wandegeya suburb. He “over hauled” it and told me it was in perfect condition. One week later, the differential had developed a few problems. Next the crank shaft had a few issues. I eventually over came these issues but then came the witchcraft story.

A typical Ugandan reader is probably surprised that I haven’t raised the issue of business and witchcraft before. It seems many Ugandans firmly believe that going to the witch doctor and giving your last white goat(and with no spot of black) is going to turn your business into an overnight success even if you cannot differentiate(no pun intended) between cash as profit(which you can use as dividends) and cash from sales(which you should not use until all expenses are settled).

So the witchcraft story is this; I hired my cousin John [not real name for obvious reasons] to work as the taxi’s first conductor. He according to the family rumour mill “bewitched” the taxi because:

*Day 1. The suspension broke.

*Day 3: The crank shaft developed further problems.

*Day 5. The differential was shaking again.

*Day 7: The taxi knocked someone crossing the road at Ndeeba.

In the 1 month that the taxi was in business, I made only Shs 7,000! Oh, I used that to bail out the driver at the police station. I am not one to consider the validity of the witchcraft story but that brings me to the taxi business and factors to consider if you are to invest in it.

First the CONS (of course)

1. Mechanics without ethics

There is a possibility that when I took the taxi for refurbishment, the mechanic to whom I entrusted the repair provided me with a pro-forma invoice for parts he didn’t install, obtained them second hand or third hand or even that he didn’t carry out all the necessary repairs. How could I verify that with no knowledge of the intricacies of a car, let alone a second hand taxi from Bungokho?

You can of course get round this issue by instead taking your Toyota Hiace (the predominant model used for taxi business in Uganda) to Toyota Uganda’s repair workshop. Don’t expect of course to pay Shs. 7,000 for repair. They use computerised diagnostics and their mechanics use a logging system to bill you by the hour. Oh and of course they use new and genuine parts so forget that used crank shaft your mechanic Kakooza will find you from Kisekka market. As per the Toyota Uganda website, you can expect to start paying for servicing for a Toyota Hiace Model from Shs. 183,900.

2. Difficulty of revenue verification

Unless you are driving the taxi yourself or install cameras just like the London Buses or National Express buses in the UK, it is virtually impossible to ascertain passenger numbers on any given route at any given time. I know many a business owner will circumvent the issue by not paying the driver/conductor wages an instead demanding a fixed daily/weekly sum say 6 days a week with Sunday being the “driver’s day”. The driver’s day being the day he doesn’t pay you as all revenue will go to wards earning their keep. This may work to an extent until the driver/conductor tells you:

“Mukama wange, Walk to work etuletedde bizibu” [My Lord, we were unable to make sufficient money today owing to the “Walk to work” demonstrations].

He then proceeds to hand you half the agreed fee. How do you verify that driver’s story?

Oh there will be numerous of those stories. Next time it will be that Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA) is fleecing them and they have fought back, then another day; Traffic Police “search and stop” operations have resulted in massive delays followed the next day by a strike by drivers. Of course you as their “Lord” cannot be inhumane and continue to demand the fixed sum can you?

Like I have hinted, if you are seriously considering investing in this sector, perhaps you can find a supplier for on board cameras. However for simplicity and line with the norm in Uganda, I will therefore propose that the potential investor stick to the common practice of agreeing with the driver a fixed “contractor” rate for a given route. I would however recommend that this rate be verified through corroborating with different drivers of the route the taxi will ply.

3. Starting capital and cost of financing

Owing to a vehicle being considered to be a key asset in Uganda,it is pretty common for this investment to be financed by a commercial bank loan or lease financing from companies such as DFCU Leasing Limited. In addition many car dealers are happy to provide loan financing. You can get a decent used taxi (complete with stripes and fixed seats) for about Shs 17m going by my research information from autotrader.ug.

Now the key issue in respect of cost of financing. Following the recent increase(November 2011) by Bank of Uganda of the Bank Rate to 29%, I can expect that the commercial banks will increase their lending rates to an average of 31%. The Bank rate is the rate at which commercial banks can borrow from the Central Bank as a lender of last resort. The significant cost of financing will as we shall see later on will have a significant impact on expected return on capital.

4. Long period over which to realise profitability and to recover your investment

I now set out my analysis of the estimated profitability for this business.

I have estimated that the investor is purchasing a taxi to ply any one of Kampala and its suburb routes. I am using the most common model which is the “contractor model”. The model being that the driver provides the investor with a fixed agreed daily sum for 5- 6 days a week with the 7th day for the driver/conductor to earn their keep.

In this model, the driver/conductor therefore incur all day to day expenses that is; fuel, daily and monthly UTODA fees, loading fees,KCC fees, stage fees et al. The owner will however incur costs of repairs and maintenance as well as insurance costs.

Summary of profit position:

Revenue per month: Shs 750,000 (estimated at Shs 30,000 per day for 25 days)

Repairs and maintenance per month: 183, 900 (estimated from Toyota Uganda workshop information)

Financing costs: 439,167. (estimated on interest rate of 31% on a 17m car. The rate is estimated on Nov 2011 Bank of Uganda Bank rate plus a 2% margin)

Insurance(3rd party): 4,167

Monthly net profit: 122,767

Annual profit(A): 1,473,200

Capital cost(1994 Toyota Hiace, used)(B): 17,000,000

Return on capital(B/A): 11.54 years!

As can be seen from the above analysis, forget your money in this sector. You can of course now at this stage if you like go visit the witch doctor who will perhaps use his spells so that customers prefer your taxi to all others and he will also magically my analysis above to give a return in perhaps 1 month. [Please note that the last statement is made in jest and I wouldn’t expect a serious investor to consider witchcraft for business success].

5. Saturation of the market and related moves.

There are too many taxis in Kampala or almost anywhere else in Uganda. It seems every where you turn there is a taxi and so I don’t even need to go into the details of this but it is certainly worth noting the trend for this sector. As there are too many taxis in Uganda, judging by several reports from UTODA, eventually the politics surrounding this industry will be played out and then the several government initiatives to try to de-congest the new and old taxi parks in down town Kampala; and instead move taxis to out of town satellite taxi parks like Ndeeba will become a reality. Alternatively we may finally see a move to commuter buses instead of taxis as promised by former Mayor Nasser “Seya” Sebagala.

And Now the PROS

1. Fair return on capital, assuming no financing.

The main advantage for this sector therefore is for the investor who is going to invest without incurring the cost of borrowing. I set out below the projected return on capital without the cost of financing:

Revenue per month: Shs 750,000 (estimated at Shs 30,000 per day for 25 days)

Monthly Repairs and maintenance: Shs 183, 900 (estimated from Toyota Uganda workshop information)

Insurance(3rd party): 4,167

Monthly net profit: 561,933

Annual profit: 6,743,200

Capital cost(1994 Toyota Hiace, used): 17,000,000

Return on capital: 2.52 years

As can be seen from above, the return on capital without cost of financing reduces to a 2.52 years from the onerous 11 years in the first analysis.

2. Security for further financing

Assuming you have not borrowed to purchase the taxi then a further advantage is that in Uganda, vehicles are preferred assets to use as collateral for borrowing owing to the fluidity of the used car market.

3. Alternative one off uses

The advantage of the taxi of course is that you can use it for one off uses like private charters or for example for private uses of advantage to the investor for example; taking the children to school, for funerals or; like me in Uganda who in 2005 mustered the courage to take the taxi on a test drive in the night by going to visit that “Mzungu” girl I wanted to impress.

I think John’s witchcraft was already at work because when I returned home from visiting the girl, I crashed into the neighbour’s wall as I tried to reverse the taxi so as to make the tight turn into the home gate. I insist it was the witchcraft at work and of course not the fact that I had no experience whatsoever in driving a long vehicle!

SUMMARISING AND THE FINAL WORD

First the numbers.

On the basis of my analysis:

*Capital investment(A): Shs 17,000,000

*Revenue per year: 9,000,000

*Profit per year (revenue excluding all expenses and interest) (B) is Shs 1,473,200

*Return on capital(years to get capital back) (A/B) is 11.54 years.

*If you however don’t incur the cost of financing then this return period is estimated at 2.54 years.

Now the basics you must get right before investing:

*Research on a fair contractor rate. As the preferred model in Uganda is to hire out your taxi to the driver/conductor, it is worth spending time speaking to various drivers and perhaps even UTODA to establish a fair price for your route and ensuring you get the agreed rate without any “mukama wange” stories.

*Consider cheaper financing options. Too often we ignore the advantage of pooling funds say from family members and friends. This can provide equity financing(interest free credit) rather than the crippling commercial bank loans.

*A decent and trustworthy mechanic is a must. Best of luck!

FINAL WORD

By principle I am wary of business models where you are unable to understand or verify the intricacies of the revenue recognition and can hardly verify the costs to establish efficiencies and so on that basis, for me this would be a “no-no” sector.

It however has the key advantage of simplicity of revenue stream and perhaps that is why this has resulted in the over investment in this sector including by [financially] illiterate people.

If you are therefore drawn to the simplicity of this type of investment plus the advantage that the vehicle is security for further borrowing then by all means invest in it and then all you have to ensure is that you do not hear tales from Kakooza of the “differential is shaking.”