Enjoy the Snow

Remember how your parents always seemed old to you, even before they reached middle age? They could never relate to you, they could never remember what it was like to be a kid. Now, you’re an adult with children, but you’ve made a pact with yourself-no matter how old you get, you’re always going to think “young”. You’ll always be able to relate to your kids. Right?Here’s a quick test of your resolve:The weatherman just predicted freezing temperatures and heavy snow-what’s your reaction? You groaned, didn’t you? Your first thoughts were about hazardous driving conditions, shoveling snow, high heating bills, and whether or not you remembered to insulate your water pipes. Yup. You’re officially a grown-up.Now, look at your kids’ reactions. Sheer joy, at the possibility of a snow day, filled with sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights. You remember what that was like, but you can’t really relate, any more, can you? You’re thinking about the potential hazards they face-frostbite, injuries, and pneumonia.You groan, again-it’s gonna be a long week.Look, you can’t change the direction of that storm front. You’re going to be socked in. You might as well accept it and make the most of it-and remember that big snow is big fun for kids. If you’re really going to think “young”, now’s the real test.There are definite and real hazards to very cold weather, and to spending too much time in the snow. But you can prepare yourself and your kids for the outside conditions, by following a few simple guidelines.First of all, before venturing out, feed your kids a meal or a snack. The extra calories will generate extra body heat. Dress everyone in several layers of clothing, starting with long underwear, adding turtlenecks and sweaters, then coats. Avoid cotton clothing-it doesn’t warm well and it absorbs moisture. Synthetics such as Gore-Tex can actually whisk moisture away from skin. Everyone should wear mittens-they keep hands warmer than gloves-and take an extra pair, in case snow works in, underneath, freezing small hands. Of course, warm socks, boots, and hats are essential in the snow. And something many people forget-if the sun is out, wear sunscreen. Snow can reflect 85% of the sun’s UV rays, causing quick sunburns. If the snow is wet, a final, waterproof layer of clothes, even rain-gear, is recommended.If sledding is on the agenda (and if there’s a hill in sight, it definitely is), make sure that it’s done on a slope with no hazards. One slip of the rudder can send a sled into a tree. Have your kids wear their bicycle helmets while sledding-head injuries are the most common result of sledding accidents.But you can have lots of fun with your kids in the snow. It really is fun to build and clothe a snowman, and a snowball fight (play clean-no rocks), is great exercise, especially for you. As long as your kids are dressed properly, there’s no set time-limit for being out. When you get cold, it’s time to come in. If you top the day off with some hot chocolate, you might even remember what it was like to be a kid. You might even really feel young, again.

E-Commerce Web Design: Design A Store That Will Sell Well

When it comes to designing an e-commerce website, creativity is good – but usability is better! Flash animations can needlessly slow down the shopper when he is heading to the checkout; attractive, innovative design elements may prove to be too puzzling for the average user, and too creative color schemes can send the customers the wrong brand signal. A confused visitor is the one that will hit the back button to look elsewhere! An online storefront needs to be designed in order to convert that browser into a buyer!An e-commerce website that not only looks good, but also converts well, is the ultimate goal of any e-commerce web design. Creating a positive user experience on your e-commerce websites directly translates into improved conversion rates. Improved conversion rate equals extra revenue added to your bottom line. An average e-commerce website has a conversion rate from one to five percent, a percentage that could stand to be improved.A profitable e-commerce website is the one that knows its target audience well. When designing an e-commerce website, ask yourself: who are the people who will buy that product from that website? What makes them tick? Do they need a lot of details to make a buying decision, or they just want to make it as quickly as possible? Give them exactly what they are looking for, in a way that they like to be given, and then make it easy for them to buy it from you.Design everything from a buyer’s point of view! Keep things simple and straightforward: the navigation should be smooth and simple to understand, and the customer should never feel “lost” on your website. Make sure that the basic tools like the shopping cart, website’s help and FAQ, or shipping information, are available from every page of the site.Make it easy for them to see the catalog of products; showcase all products properly, using high-quality photos. It is a good idea to use neutral backgrounds when displaying the pictures of the product – preferably detailed pictures, and more than just one. In product descriptions, it is better to use descriptive, rather than technical, terms.Failing to provide a good user experience will result in high shopping cart abandonment rates. Don’t make your visitors frustrated with any aspect of the buying process, or they will never become the paying customers. There are many e-commerce websites on the internet, so why would they buy from yours?
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Book Review: Start Your Own Business

If you want to start a business, but don’t know where to start, then the place to start is with Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsky. The book is put out by Entrepreneur Press and is essentially a compilation of Entrepreneur Magazine’s large knowledge database regarding starting a business.The book literally takes you through the entire business process – from determining if you really have what it takes to run a business to how to deal with failure if your business doesn’t work out, and everything in between. The best part about the book is that it covers nearly EVERYTHING in some capacity. If you need more information, it does a great job of suggesting further reading and pertinent web sites.The book is broken down into seven sections, each with several chapters. The first section, ‘You Gotta Start Somewhere’ covers determining if you can be an entrepreneur, how to come up with an idea for your business, and whether you should launch your business part time or full time. Most people who buy the book will already have answers to these questions, but going through the exercises in the book can still be helpful.The second section of the book is entitled ‘Building Blocks’. It covers how to name your business, choosing a business structure, creating a business plan, and how to hire a lawyer and accountant. I think that this is the most valuable section of the book. These are the things that most entrepreneurs either struggle with or ignore. The Naming Your Business chapter in particular helped me a great deal. Naming your business is not nearly as easy as you think – you need to consider all registered trademark names, registered domain names, and names that are being used but not trademarked. One of the worst things that you can do is to pick a name that is already being used by someone and face a legal battle down the road.The third section covers financing including where and how to get money to run your business. The fourth section, ‘Setting the Stage’ is absolutely massive and covers numerous important things such as choosing a location for your business, creating a professional image, offering customers credit, hiring your first employee, and business insurance. Needless to say, all of these things are extremely important to every business owner.The fifth section covers buying company computers, cell phones, and cars. These things probably won’t be very difficult for most business owners. The sixth section, however, covers one of the hardest thing every business owner faces – marketing. The section is nearly 100 pages about advertising, marketing, and public relations. It also briefly touches on web-marketing but those looking to seriously profit online will need to look elsewhere because the book is a little thin when it comes to e-commerce.The final section, entitled ‘By the Books’ goes over every entrepreneurs favorite things – accounting and taxes. It gives solid advice regarding basic bookkeeping, financial statements, budgeting, and taxes. For most business owners this section and the web resources listed should be more than enough to get them started on keeping their business legal.I can’t overemphasize how important I think it is for every business owner to have this book. It is a mini-encyclopedia (ok, so 800 pages isn’t THAT mini) for everything business related. Having this book on your shelf will save you countless hours. I read it from cover to cover when I got it and I constantly refer back to it. I have recommended it to every person I know that has talked with me about starting a business. Each and every one of them bought it, and each and every one of them came back to me raving about it.For the amount of depth that is covered in the book, Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsky is an amazingly easy read. Anyone over the age of 16 will be able to comprehend the simple nature of the book. Reading this book won’t guarantee your success as an entrepreneur, but it will help reduce the risk of starting a business by providing you with a sound foundation to build upon.