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Journal of a Goliathus Breeder – Part 3 of 3 – Larva Care

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Larva care: As with all beetles, Goliathus larva undergoes 3 distinct instars: L1, L2 and L3. This can described as the shedding of the old skin. The process starts with the larva refusing to eat for a few days. The shedding begins with a split at the top of its head capsule and eventually splitting the capsule in half. The new instar wiggles its way out of the capsule, leaving its old skin behind. Once shed, the new head capsule is completely white and has not had a chance to harden yet. Handling the larva should be minimized. Within a few hours, the head capsule will turn to an orangey-red, brown and finally black. (Note: Although not verified by myself, some breeders leave the shed skin in the container. The disappearance of the old skin either suggests that it decomposes rapidly or is consumed by the larva, which is a normal behavior in the animal kingdom. )

Newly hatched Goliathus larvae can be kept in a good quality substrate (80% leaf, 20% wood). However, it is best to switch to a protein diet after a week or two in order to obtain larger larvae. Until the next necessary substrate change, the L1 larva can be kept in that substrate for a smoother dietary transition (see Substrate section below). Young larvae (egg-L1) are kept in empty pill containers to observe their development and are transferred to lure boxes (see Keeping and feeding your larvae below) at L2. Once the larva has reached L3, sandwich containers (cheaply available at your local dollar store) are used to rear them. Rubber bands should be used at this point since a large L3 larva can easily lift the lid of the container and escape. You should change the substrate if it starts smelling badly, have mite problems or filled with larva frass (poop). Since an older Goliathus larva does not consume the substrate it lives in, using a smallest possible container is recommend. However, the larva’s living comfort should not be neglected and the larva should still be able to turn around in the container. A smaller container allows the larva to find its protein pellet faster and allows less waste. Once the larva becomes L3, sexing the larva is similar to other Cetonidae species.

I find it extremely fascinating that a larva the size of a Goliathus can reach its maximum size in the span of 6 months before it is ready to pupate. The biggest larva that I was able to rear weighted in at 94 g. which yielded a male of about 90mm. This suggests that the Goliathus larva can grow over 100g since adult males can reach 110mm. You can admire this exploit when you breed other giant beetles such as Dynastes Hercules and Megasomas. Larva development can be as slow as 3 years for some of these species.

Diet: Unlike other Cetonidae species, Goliathus larvae need a high protein diet to grow to maximum size. It is theorize that Goliathus larvae are carnivorous in the wild because a physical difference can be seen between Goliathus and other Cetonidae species. The leg extremity of the Goliathus larva has developed a more pronounced talon than other species which suggest a predacious lifestyle. It may well in fact prey upon other invertebrates found in its environment. I have experimented with most pet foods available on the market and my conclusion for the ideal food that can be given to your larva is fish food flakes and semi-moist cat/dog food. Anything else that is of hard consistency (dog, cat, fish, ferret) is rejected. The food can be deposited on the surface of the substrate and the larva will come to the surface and pull down the flake/pellet. Uneaten food should be removed after a few days as it may attract mites and spoil your substrate.

Fish Flakes: I feed my larvae fish flakes until they reach the last instar. Once L3 stage has been reached, their appetites are enormous. A fish flake diet becomes exorbitant due to its cost. However, fish flakes have the highest protein content of all pet food, some containing as high as 75% crude protein. If you can afford to feed them with flakes throughout their development, it would be the best.

Cannibalistic behavior: It is well documented that Goliathus larvae have a tendency to snack on their siblings. As such, I wanted to know how much truth there was behind it – and also the fact that I was running out of space due to keeping each larva in individual container. So I decided to place 10 newly hatched L1 larvae in a 1 L. container and waited for the result. I continued their daily feeding of protein additive during that time. After two weeks, I decided to verify their development. I observed that more than 50% of the larvae had missing limbs and/or had completely disappeared. Another observation: there were always one or two extra plump larvae amongst the survivors. After this experiment, I decided to slow down on my breeding program and I individually separated each larva.

Techniques to succeed a large breeding program: It was fine and dandy to pamper your larvae on a daily basis when you have a dozen of them, even to the point of giving them individual care. I would sit down for several minutes after adding my protein pellet and waited for the larva come to the surface to grab and pull it under the substrate: that was the first year. (I would often joke that would I sing lullabies to them before going to bed.) For the second generation, I was literally overwhelmed by the quantity of larvae I was raising. So much so that I had to stop the females from ovipositing more eggs. I was getting close to achieving over one hundred larvae. In order to be able to manage my feeding/substrate change schedule (and have a normal life), I came up with as much a “lazy-man” method as possible. I realized that it was quickly become a chore instead of a passion as I was easily spending 45-60 minutes every day on the upkeep of my Goliathus – and that’s after coming back from a regular job, help make supper and putting the kids to bed!

Substrate: Unless you live in Japan where beetle substrate can be bought at your local department store, you have no other choice then to make your own. You have to go in the forest and collect large quantity of dead tree leafs. Even harder is searching the forest floor for fallen tree logs with the proper decay level. And let’s not forget about the strange looks that passers-by give you. (Picture this: Searching a forested area near to a cemetery and I walk out of the woods with a bag on my back and a shovel in my hand…) Once you have the raw ingredients, you have to take the time to process it and shred it to proper consistency. Having said this, your homemade substrate can sometimes be more valuable than the larva itself. So as to facilitate my Goliathus rearing method, I no longer use homemade substrate after the first substrate change. Once the larva has adapted to consume pet food (late L1), it is no longer necessary to use leaf compost because it no longer eats it. This saves you hours of labor to manufacture your substrate. I replace the substrate with 100% peat moss (also known as sphagnum moss) which can be purchased cheaply at your local garden center. Peat moss is basically decomposing sphagnum moss found in bogs and peat lands. It is completely sterile as it is sold in bails of various sizes and with 0% humidity. A light humidification is required before using it for your larvae. A pressure pump vaporizer will humidify your substrate uniformly. Pouring water directly into the peat moss to mix will create clusters of wet peat moss. Once the moisture level is achieved, you should have a very light and well aerated substrate. It is cheap, easy access and makes an ideal substrate for your Goliathus.

Keeping and feeding your larvae: Another time consuming activity is the feeding period. This entails gathering all the containers, opening each individual lid, placing your pet food inside, closing the lid and placing all the containers back. Assuming it takes 2 minutes each, the time spent on feeding each of your larva is considerable when you feed a large population. And that is not considering substrate change when it has been soiled by uneaten food or mites. You can easily add another 2-3 minutes to each larva. I know this sound very much like micro-management but you have to look at the larger picture when rearing a large population. As a result, I have been using transparent lure box. The advantage is that each box has a dozen separated compartments. It saves a considerable amount of time that you have access to a dozen (or more) larvae with the flip of a lid. The time that it took to feed one larva, I can now feed a dozen or more. This technique is no longer cost efficient for the larger L3 larvae due to the higher cost of the lure box.

Getting Ready for Pupation: Raising your larvae to maximum size is the easy part of Goliathus breeding. The majority of failures are caused by the larva’s inability to successfully build its pupal cell. Special attention from the breeder is required to able to read the first sign of readiness to pupate.

These are:

  1. The larva will stop eating. Look for uneaten and moldy food.
  2. The larva will gain a slight yellowish taint, not as pronounced as Dynastidae larvae however. Pay attention to its color.
  3. The larva will be in constant movement (I often use the analogy of a devil in Holy water) and will try to escape its container at all cost. You can compare this behavior to a more docile larva which is still in development. Keep all your larva containers in a larger plastic box and allow them to “escape” its individual container. The larva should be able to lift the lid by itself. When you encounter a larva that is roaming inside the larger box, it’s probably looking to pupate. They move so much that I sometime cannot have a proper weight reading.
  4. The larva will be extremely aggressive and will try to bite you when held. Hold the larva with your fingers and it will “snap” back in a C-shape in the hope of biting you.
  5. The larva will lose up to 10% of its weight. A digital weight scale is a good tool to monitor its development. As soon as the larva starts losing weight, you can put it under observation. However you must weight your larva on a regular basis and keep a weight chart for comparison.
  6. The larva will start crawling on its back on the surface for several weeks, a behavior called the “Wandering Phase.” If kept in a small container; the substrate will be completely compacted due to the constant movement of the larva. If not transferred rapidly at this point, the larva may die from exhaustion.
  7. The larva’s body will lose some of its firmness. With experience you will be able to recognize the firmness of a larva in development and one that is ready to pupate. I believe that all the signs listed above (when combined) should allow a breeder to properly read the behavior that a larva is ready to pupate.

Note: There is nothing more frustrating than to lose a larva just before it’s ready to pupate (such as section #6 above). That is countless of hours wasted! However, if you encounter a larva that is completely flaccid, it may or may not be dead yet. You should burry the larva in fresh substrate and wait 24 hours. It is my experience that if the stress level was not lethal, the larva will slowly reanimate and regain its firmness within the hours. If it is too late, your dead larva will start smelling. I have discovered this behavior after finding a healthy larva in my waste basket that I thought was dead.

Once you have a larva that is ready to pupate, you must transfer it to another container that is only used for pupation. I have experimented with many container sizes (starting with a single larva in a 30 L. bucket at the beginning) and I have narrowed it down to a plastic shoe box which is the most economic in terms of space. As pointed out earlier, a wandering larva will be in constant movement and a dire need to escape whatever container it is placed in. A pair of heavy duty rubber band is recommended to hold the lid in place and prevent the larva from lifting the lid and escape. The wandering will last between 2 to 4 weeks and a trench following the circumference of the container will be made on the surface where the larva crawled through. Once its need to wander is satisfied, it will then disappear under the substrate and form its cocoon. To keep track of the duration of that phase, I would “reset” the trench made by the larva with my hand and keep track of the current date. The dates would give me an idea of when the larva was on the surface last. For example, if you “reset” the substrate and the surface is intact after 4 weeks then there is a good chance that the larva has undergone its cell construction. Once the cocoon is built, any handling should be made with extreme care. I have had a bad experience when I dropped a container too hard on a table and the shock would disturb the larva to the point where it would break and leave the cocoon. Of course, the larva would not build another cell and eventually die. In contrast to some Cetonidae species, Goliathus larvae will never create a cell which shares a side with the wall of the container.

The substrate composition that I use for pupation is 20% peat moss and 80% coarse sand. The coarseness of the sand will dictate the sturdiness of the cocoon. When fine sand was used, the cocoon was much more fragile than when built with a coarser one. This mix of peat moss and sand should be filled to the rim of the pupation container. The great majority of the cells will be created near the bottom of your container. After 4 weeks on inactivity where no further sign of wandering is seen, you can take out pupa cell if needed (for example, needing the pupation container for another larva). This can be done by very gently scooping out the substrate until your fingers feel a hard crust. This will be the pupa cell. Once the cocoon is located, you can work around the cell until it is free from the substrate. Place the cell facing the same orientation as originally found in another container which will hold all your pupal cells until their emergence. This holding container should have a layer of the sand-peat moss mix at the bottom. An important thing is to cover each cocoon with some of its original substrate. This will allow a gradual dehydration of the cocoon starting from its original moisture level. The holding container should never be allowed to completely dry up. Adding moist substrate from newly added cells may be enough to keep the container moist until it is full; at which point, slight misting may be required. The ideal situation would be to allow the pupa to complete its metamorphosis in its original pupation container as this will create the least amount of stress to the cell. This may not be a possibility when you have a large population of larvae.

Humidity level: The humidity level necessitates a paragraph of its own as it is the number one cause of failure experienced by Goliathus breeders (including myself). A substrate which is too dry will discourage the larva from building its cocoon. The opposite is no good either as the larva/pupa may die inside its cocoon. The proper substrate humidity is achieved when substrate particles stain your fingers when rubbed together but not damp enough to make clumps and stick together. As a general rule, you are safer on the drier side than on the damper side. No one knows for sure the reason why the Goliathus pupa is so sensitive to the moisture level. One hypothesis is that the pupa expects the same condition encountered in the wilderness. The adults emerge and lay their eggs during the rainy season and the larvae continue their development until the dry season arrives. At which point, the larvae create their cocoons. As the ambient moisture dissipates, the cocoon hardens gradually and remains dormant until the next rainy season arrives and the cycle continues. At the next rainy season, the imago is stimulated to emerge with the return of a higher humidity. Once the larva has become a pupa, it will take about 3-4 months to become an imago. The imago will lie dormant for another 3-4 months in its pupal cell before it becomes active. When you come near the final few months, you can stimulate the beetle to emerge from its dormancy by placing the cell back to a larva substrate (80% leaf, 20% wood) with a moisture level appropriate for larva care. You can help the beetle a little bit by removing a section of the cell facing the head of the beetle. However, if you do so, you must burry the cell with the beetle at the bottom of your tank. An imago that is not 100% active yet may crawl out of its cell and flip over and die from exhaustion. The female imagos are usually the first to emerge due to their smaller sizes. Once the beetle is capable of locomotion and can eat by itself then you can have successfully completed your cycle.

Similarity (and difference) between the species: My personal experience has been with 4 different species of Goliathus: Goliathus goliatus, Goliatus orientalis, Goliathus regius and Goliathus cacicus. The first 3 species are pretty much kept the same way as described in this article. However for some unknown reason, my Goliathus orientalis did not live very long and the males never emerged from their dormancy. Goliathus cacicus, still remains a mystery. Although kept in the same condition as the other species, I have never achieved the same growth as for my other species. The maximum size for a male larva was about 40g. That is the size of a Mecynorrhina male. A large Goliathus cacicus male can attain 10 cm. Something is missing in the diet or rearing condition and further experiments will be required. As for Goliathus albosignatus, I have communicated with some breeders who have it in their breeding. Due to their smaller sizes (maximum larval weight of 30g.), it takes about half the time to complete the cycle (L1-start of pupation: 3-4 moths; pupation: 4-5 months; dormancy: 1-2 months). The rearing requirement is similar to Goliathus goliatus.

In conclusion, I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to rear these incredible creatures from egg to imago form. Very few people have had the chance to see these beetles live, let alone handle them. Whether I continue my Goliathus breeding or not (due to the lack of time), I sincerely hope other breeders can find this article helpful. Little is known about the ecology of the Goliathus and the information we know about them was found because of a handful of dedicated breeders. As incredibly rewarding as it may be, I would not recommend the breeding of Goliathus to a novice. Other smaller species such as Mecynorrhina or Chelorrhina have similar but simpler requirements.

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SEO Tips for Lawyers – Five Crucial Keys to Organic Search Engine Optimization

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Business referrals also play a huge role in building a practice for attorneys, but can only go so far. What happens when you want more business or would like to expand your firm? This is when many practices turn to marketing and advertising– yellowpage ads, radio, TV commercials, lawyer directories.

These are all good ways to promote your practice, but what if I told you there is a “free” source of leads that would facilitate potential seeking you out, right at the time he/she needed your services? Well there is and it’s called the modern day search engine.

Search engines, when used to the fullest extent, can act as pre-qualifying authoritative referral sources. Just as a consumer is more likely to get product or service recommendations form a friend or family member verses take what a commercial has to say at face value, search engines can be a strong lead source in your practice’s marketing mix because of the trust they are given for finding unbiased information.

Have you ever wondered why some attorney websites have top ten rankings on search engines, while others do not? You’re about to learn some of the secrets. Do not take this information lightly. As an attorney, what you are about to read could earn you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in new cases and legal fees.

Below are Five Basic Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips for Lawyers that have taken me years to understand. While paid listings or “sponsored links” do have a high ROI when managed properly, this article in particular is only speaking toward the natural or unpaid listings you see on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

Some of these techniques may seem very easy to understand, even implement, but that is the beauty of it. With all the false information out there, it takes a long time to know what has value and what does not. As Mark Twain said, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have the time to write a short one.” It has taken me years to weed through the tricks, and fly by night gimmicks, and false information so enjoy and feel free to contact me with any questions. With that said, I present to you five crucial keys to organic search engine optimization.

SEO Tip One: Use Descriptive & Unique Meta Titles

Did you know one of the most important areas for your firm’s site in regard to search ranking is the “Meta Title” of your home page? This is the title that appears on the blue frame around your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox). The title also appears in search listings. You can see your website’s title in its raw coding by choosing “View” and “View source code” from your browser.

Anatomy of the Meta Information

In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). A website’s meta information is typically made up of three distinct areas: title, description, and keywords. According to many well-known SEO gurus, the “keywords” section is completely useless, but it can harm you if you use too many keywords.

Most major search engines have now filtered out the importance of the “keywords” section because of past abuse, “keyword stuffing,” as well as placing long lists of irrelevant highly searched terms. Do not put too many keywords in the keywords section, and do not rely on this section to help with search engine optimization (SEO). Some SEO experts still use it “just in case, ” but only place 10 – 15 keywords never repeating, and using a comma after each single term.

The title however, is still a hugely important area to naturally work in highest level key phrases, along with branding the firm, or your name if acting as an independent practice. However, do not repeat keywords, and do not use more than 12 words or around 65 characters. Otherwise, the full title will not been seen in search and having an overabundance of words will dilute its power anyway. Google also has a filter or penalty block for sites that repeat one word too often in titles.

What’s in a Name?

Check your meta title right now! Choose “View” and “View source code” from your browser. Does it only have the name of your firm? That is fine if you are doing other advertising and your firm has lots of name recognition, but you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

What about those prospects you are missing out on who are typing into the search engines more generic phrases without any firms or attorney names in mind? Example, a search engine user types in “Personal Injury Attorney Dallas.” If you do not have specific words that describe your practice in your meta title, your site is less likely to appear in the top then than an attorney who does.

Be Unique

Your meta title can make or break your search engine rankings for valuable placement. Use a different title for every page of your site, making sure it describes the page’s content and/or user function (such as an “About” page, use the word “About So and So Firm.”). With deeper pages further away from the homepage use varying logical keywords that not only describe the page, but are akin to the words a user might type in seeking out that specific information.

It may seem like if you repeat the same title over and over again on other pages your site will perform better for those keywords, but it will not, you will be cannibalizing your efforts. You can use your name or the name of your firm, but place it near the end of the title. Keep the most unique part toward the beginning. Proximity and density also play a role.

This one tip could warrant a whole article on best practices on its own, but for now start with recognizing your meta title’s importance. I will be publishing a more advanced “nuts and bolts” article covering how you should plan a reverse keyword pyramid for your site titles, as well as other titling recommendations.

SEO Tip Two: Acquire Relevant Backlinks

Links to your site are seen as votes in the major search engines’ eyes. Just so we are on the same page, these are links to your website from another website, not links from your website to another. In this analogy these popularity votes are similar to how voting existing before several human rights were established. Some were considered 3/5ths a person, and some not considered at all. Their votes were counted accordingly. In other words, not all backlinks are created equal. The quality of a link toward your site can be determined on multiple criterion.

a). Relevance – Does the subject matter of the page linking out reflect the subject matter of your site or is it about something completely off topic? Example would be another attorney links to your site from his/her blog unsolicited based on your site’s relevant content and merit verses a random site that sells knockoff Viagra wanting to trade links with you.

b). Link & Text Density – This speaks to the amount of other links on the page linking to yours on the other website. If the other site has a listing of 100s of links on all different topics, including yours, the link is most likely devalued in the search engines eyes, not only because of relevance, but because of perceived importance. These are commonly known as “link farms.” The opposite situation would be your link is the only one listed. The backlink could be considered even more valuable if the other site surrounds it with relevant copy before and after (for example in a blog or article). A less effective, but not completely worthless placement would be a listing on a “Links” page from another site where only a handful of other offsite links existed.

c). Second Generation Link Popularity- Your site is deemed more important in the search engines’ eyes not only by how many other sites link to you, but how many sites link to the sites that link to you. The link popularity is passed on using a formula that one search engine originated called PageRank(TM). In essence, you could have 100s of backlinks, but if no one is linking to the other sites linking to you, many of the links may be worthless from a ranking point of view (but could be valuable in other ways to be discussed in a later article). There are tools you can use to “pull up the curtain” and see just how people are linking to your site, as well as how many are linking to their’s.

This is a simplified explanation on how acquiring backlinks can help your SEO. As with titling, the topic of backlinks could also warrant its own full fledged article, or multiple articles. The important takeaway is: backlinks matter for SEO.

SEO Tip Three: Build a Legal Knowledgebase

The Internet was built on the foundation that people want authoritative, quality information fast. Instead of trying to remember the categories of the Dewy Decimal System and searching through different books’ table of contents, the search engine user uses keywords describing what he/she are looking for in order to find that information as fast as possible.

Not all Visitors are Qualified

First, as an attorney, you have to accept this fact that not all the visitors to your website are prospects. Many may be in the research mode of their buying cycle or may be looking for information for a friend or even a school report. The reality is the more original, helpful, and consistently you can put new information on your website, the more the search engines will show you preference. By high quality content I do not mean a sales pitch. You can use that type of language on your main pages, but you will appeal to a much wider audience if you use non-commercial, unbiased information presented as knowledgebase in your deeper pages.

By building a knowledgebase specific to your areas of practice, you accomplish at least two objectives, you are viewed as an expert becoming the authoritative source for that user’s legal question and you will likely pull prospects looking for those specific services right then and there. This is an indirect, but highly effective method of acquiring prospects.

One Page per Area of Practice

Example, if you practice copyright law and the prospect types in the search engine “copyright laws” you could have a page strictly devoted to explaining the different types, penalties for breaking the laws, defenses, highly popularized landmark cases, and other important information pertaining to copyright infringement. Create a page using at least 500 – 1500 words stratifying every area of your practice in fine detail, and your website will dominate the search engines, command lots of relevant traffic and, combined with other tools, bring a steady stream of leads. I will cover this in more depth giving more information on the best practices in future articles.

SEO Tip Four: Use specific Internal & External Anchor Text

Have you ever seen a link that says “Click here?” Oh course you have. That’s actually a waste of a link as far as SEO is concerned. Ok, maybe not a complete loss, but it does not use the link’s full potential. The words used in a link to another URL are called the anchor text and it can be vitally important to SEO.

There is a huge difference in how the search engines see a link with relevant text verses a non-descriptive or irrelevantly anchored link. This is even true for your site’s internal linking structure and calls to action. For example, instead of directing your website visitors to another internal page using the words “Click Here for information on copyright infringement,” make the words copyright infringement the actual link and avoid the cliché. You may have to change your verbiage schema to something similar to: “Learn more about the laws and penalties pertaining to copyright infringement,” which is better anyway.

Anchor Your Links or Site will walk the Plank

The more internal links on your site pointing to that page with those words, and even more importantly links from offsite with those words, the more likely the search engines will see your site, or that specific page, as being relevant for that term. Check your website right now.

Do you have any pointless “Click Here” links or something else just as useless? Right now, change the anchor text to words that describe the page in which they are linking. Or ask your webmaster to do it tomorrow morning. It’s worth it.

SEO Tip Five: Localize Your Content & Meta Descriptions

Are you an attorney who only operates in one city? Or can you work remotely because most of your work is out of the court room? If you operate in one city, or regional area, you need to make the search engines aware by using the most prominent DMA in your homepage title.

When prospects are using search engines, most are sophisticated enough to know, or have learned through search engine experience, to add the city onto whatever service in which he/she is searching. Example, a user types in “Dallas Commercial Real Estate Attorney.”

You may be a real estate attorney and your practice may be in Dallas, but the search engines will give another lawyer’s site preference if you do not spell it out for them. You may have your physical location in a normal 12 point text on the contact page, but that is not enough, since titles and meta descriptions hold more weight in the hierarchy.

Home Grown Meta Description

Some SEO gurus say descriptions are as defunct as the keywords section of your meta info. I say the meta description is the NEW keywords section of web 2.0, only the keywords must be used in a logical sentence form.

Secondly, you do not want to have to specify on a page describing individual areas of your practice or your knowledgebase that you are a “Dallas insert obscure and wordy law practice attorney” in the viable copy. While not terribly lethal, it’s a little awkward and contrived to the reader. You can use the description area of the meta for this SEO tactic.

Stay tuned for more Internet marketing tips for lawyers including more on SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and social media. Thanks for your time.

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Be a Backyard Mechanic

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Most people agree that owning a home based business is the way to go. In fact, for many people, it is a dream of a lifetime to get out from the 9-to-5 grind and become your own boss. One way to do this is to become a backyard mechanic.

Of course being a backyard mechanic is quite different than operating a regular shop. In fact, you may find legislative challenges to overcome in order to start your business. But there are still ways to operate a accurate mechanic shop without the expense of a regular shop.

Aside from basic repairs and oil changes, you may also be able to do some autobody work on cars that have been accidents. For all of this you will need to have a good supply of inexpensive car parts. So where are you to find them? Here are some ways to find inexpensive car parts when you’re starting out as a backyard mechanic:

· Type “wholesale auto parts” into your search engine browser and find an innumerable amount of car part suppliers who can give you great prices on parts, free delivery over a certain amount, and sometimes even a warranty.

· Use eBay to find a great deal on parts, especially parts that are difficult to find elsewhere, on just about any car imaginable. EBay offers a good warranty on car parts purchased through them and the only drawback is that if you lose an auction you have to buy the part from somewhere else and that can be time-consuming.

· Form an auto-parts buying club with other local car enthusiasts to be able to buy in large quantities and get wholesale discounts.

· Contact your local scrap yard dealers and ask them if they’ll give you a discount if you buy a lot of scrap parts from them and take them off yourself, thereby eliminating their costs for labor and storage.

· If you live in a large city and can specialize in just a handful of vehicles, you can buy several scrap vehicles quite cheaply, store them, and use them for parts.

Many people moonlight as backyard mechanics, fixing the cars of family and friends. If local laws allow it, there is little to stop you from doing the same as a full-time job. And saving money with car parts would help you earn a profit quickly.

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How to Identify Your Small Business Differentiator and Why

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When you are the owner of a small business, there are times when the scale of bigger companies can overwhelm you. At these times, you may wonder what you have that will make potential customers pick your brand over another. This particular factor is a business differentiator, and it helps consumers in the market identify you and set you apart from other brands.

Differentiating your company from the rest is an integral part in developing a brand, and it’s become even more difficult in recent years since it’s not merely enough to be just better than others; you need to be different. You may not have realized it yet, but being a small business is a differentiator on its own, you need to leverage it and market it enough. Here’s how you can identify your small business’ differentiators.

Analyze Your Competition

Finding your differentiators starts by learning what makes your competitors different. You need to maintain a neutral position and evaluate your competitor to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. What do they offer? What do they do better than you? How do they treat their customers?

Once you answer these questions, you discover their weak and strong points, as well as your own. At this point, you can decide whether you want to change the direction of your business to make it better than your competitors or market an aspect of your brand that’s already there.

Be Familiar with the Customer Experience

A benefit of being a small business owner is personally having experienced the life of an average consumer. By knowing the shortcomings of a large-scale company customer experience, you know what to develop in your own company. However, when working on differentiators, it’s time to start by scratch so you should map the various aspects of being a customer. What do they value? What dissuades them from buying?

You need to work on ways to build a consumer’s awareness of a need that your company can fulfill. It’s only after a consumer realizes that they need something that they will look towards brands that can provide them with a solution. You need to assess how your target demographic makes buying decisions, and whether your brand aligns with that thought process or not.

The wrong approach is to focus solely on your product because that’s not what customers emphasize on when buying a product. The best way is to address different aspects of the customer experience and develop all of them.

Know Your Strengths

The first and foremost strength of being a small business is giving customers the attention they need. Since you’re not managing branches everywhere, you can afford to look after a minimal customer base.

Other than that, each business has its strengths when compared to other brands. It could be your amazing marketing, your customer loyalty programs, or your approach to customer service. Also, a small business operates on values, so they understand the needs and requirements of the average person.

Get Involved in the Community

The community you operate in should be your focus when expanding your reach. By making an impact on your community, your brand automatically earns a reputation among the other brands in the area. The people in your district will be in favor of supporting your brand since it will have a positive influence on their community.

The Importance of Having Differentiators

It’s true that ever brand needs differentiators that give them a competitive edge for business rivals, but your brand needs it more as a small business. That’s because large companies can already offer better prices due to cheaper manufacturing practices and access to raw materials at lower costs.

Hence, having a fixed market differentiator will help consumers pick your brand despite the difference between what you and larger brands can offer. However, having a differentiator isn’t only necessary for setting your brand apart from the rest. By knowing what you can do better than other companies can, you’ll have a clear view of what you should focus on when planning a marketing campaign.

A well-planned and targeted marketing effort will help you retain customers and increase your rates of promotion among people outside your community. Without a strong differentiator, you won’t be able to compete with others head-on.

At the same time, you need to uphold the values of honesty and transparency by refraining from overloading your brand profile. By attesting to being better than competitors at ‘everything,’ you risk losing precious customers. That’s why; you need to test all of your differentiators to see if they’re true, provable and relevant.

Only market things about your brands that you believe to be true, and to gain the audience’s trust, you have to prove it; whether through ‘look inside our workshop’ schemes or quality tests. Lastly, your differentiators need to be relevant. Customers won’t consider an aspect of your brand that they don’t care about or if it doesn’t benefit them. To conclude, you need to reflect upon your band’s personality and find something about your small business that differentiates it from the rest.

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Finance

What’s Possible With Ebooks?

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Did you know that your first ebook is a springboard for many different products? That’s why almost every business owner is considering creating not just one ebook but several ebooks. The sooner you get started on your first ebook, the easier your second is to finish.

There are dozens of ebook spinoffs that all can contribute to generating additional revenue for your business. SOme of them are listed in this article. Your ebook can give you the content for 3 to 5 minute podcasts on your topic. It can be the source of inspiration for at least 100 different articles that are posted in article directories that drive traffic back to your site and drive people to buy your product line. It can be the source of content for a speaking engagement in front of a local club or organization, grade schools, high schools, or colleges and corporations.

Your ebook can be the source of info that is spun off into a child’s book or a book suitable for teens. If your ebook is a how-to-type of manual or scientific, it could be used as a foundation for the background knowledge needed to create a screenplay about a story relating to the topic.

Your ebook can be read into a microphone which is then recorded and burned onto a CD. It could be used with video footage and photos/text to create a DVD. You could then take bits of it and use it as a marketing device on YouTube.

Are you starting to see that creating ebooks is really an excellent way to boost your business and business presence? Your ebook could be broken into segments and used as individual articles that are given away as free reports. The individual articles could also be used to send to newspapers and magazines that are looking for filler information for their pages.

Some of these articles could be combined together in a little bundle, which makes them an attractive feature when you sell other products.

Parts of your ebook, such as interesting quotes and textboxes, can be used in some of your flyers and brochures. The table of contents can be used on your website to entice people to buy individual chapters if they don’t want to buy the whole ebook.

Your ebook can be given away as an incentive or sold for profit.

With all these possibilities, is there really any reason NOT to write your first ebook? I can show you how to do it with the least amount of stress.

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Finance

Understanding Miranda

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Most people, who are not criminal defense attorneys, believe that if the police do not inform them of their Miranda warnings when they are arrested, the case will be dismissed on a technicality. This is not the case.

Commonly known as Miranda warnings, these are warnings that many people associate when a person is arrested by the police. People are quite familiar with numerous television shows where the police arrest a suspect and proceed to inform them of their rights. The rights are as follows:

1) You have the right to remain silent;
2) Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
3) You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have the lawyer present during questioning;
4) If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed if you so desire;

Police officers are not required to inform people of their Miranda rights when they question an individual. Miranda warnings are required in very specific situations. A person must be in custody of the police. Custody is not necessarily defined as being in jail or handcuffed. A person can be in custody on a street, in his home, or in a parking lot if the person is deprived of his freedom in a significant way. The other requirement is that the police are questioning the person. Without these two requirements, Miranda is not required.

If a person is in custody and Miranda warnings were not provided, any statements pursuant to the questioning will be barred from being used at trial. In addition, any evidence obtained as a result of the inadmissible statement may also be suppressed. The suppression of that evidence falls under the doctrine of the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”.

The attorneys at Dupage County DUI state that it is best to respectfully decline to answer any questions without an attorney present. Typically, individuals in custody are unsure as to what knowledge the police have and attempt to outsmart the police. Suspects frequently reveal information that can later be used as evidence of their guilt. The advice I give all clients is refuse to answer any questions and obtain an attorney. If the client wishes, he can always answer questions at a later time.

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Finance

Building Customer Loyalty

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The following tips can apply to virtually any profession or industry. If you think that these are self-evident, then I challenge you to take a personal assessment. Print this page and keep the list on your desk for one week. Place a checkmark next to each item when you conduct an activity that fulfills one of these objectives. Can you check all of these items in one week? Are you actively practicing the commitment that you desire from your customers?

If you want loyalty, you have to give it

Makes a list of your most important customers or clients. For your general customers or clients, demonstrate your commitment in general terms and especially when they need you. For the most important customers, demonstrate your commitment and let them know how much you appreciate them. Sometimes loyalty takes sacrifice.

Communicate

Building a lasting relationship requires communication. Communication means listening to your customer or client, as well as conveying your own message. One sided communication is a speech, mutual communication is a conversation. Communicate when things are going well and when there are problems. When things are going as expected, bring it to their attention. When there are problems, provide the scope of the challenge and your solutions, preferably before the customer even knows that the problems exists. This builds credibility, confidence and trust.

Understand Your Customer’s Goals

The products or services that you provide are only meaningful in the context of your customer’s objectives. What you do is intended achieve financial or strategic objectives, or fulfill a need. Understand and communicate your value from the perspective of the customer. Be aware of changes that may affect the customer requirements and your perceived value so you can adjust accordingly.

Be Consistent

One of the best ways to manage expectations is to be consistent. Be consistent with your quality, your responsiveness and delivery of goods or services. Establish a routine schedule for communication with your most important customers, so you can call “just to talk” and check the pulse of the relationship.

Build Credibility

There are two easy ways to build credibility. First, do what you say you are going to do. If you leave a message to call back or make a commitment for follow-up, then call when you said you would call. Even if you do not have all the answers, call when you commit to call back. The second way to build credibility is to take time to get the best answer. Sometimes you may not know the best response to a situation or request. Ask for time to research and come back with the most accurate answer or information that you can obtain. Taking time for accuracy can be far more beneficial to your customer than a quickly but incorrect reply.

Cracker Jack Surprise

Give your customers something more than expected. Don’t tell them in advance, just do something to demonstrate your appreciation. It can be as simple as a greeting card, email or small token to show your appreciation. Loyalty is a relationship, and it should be nurtured as you would care for a friend. Do not take it for granted.

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Words of Wisdom

“An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.”

– Elbert Hubbard

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.”

– Peter Drucker

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

– Vince Lombardi

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