Club Asteria is dedicated to helping our members succeed in whatever business they choose to start.
When you begin a business, there are so many tasks to check off your list, it seems almost impossible. As time passes, and you establish a routine, life doesn’t seem as overwhelming.
However, it’s easy to forget that a business is more than one simple product or service, and that there are plenty of steps you can take to grow your business into something big!
The first thing you need to do is see where you are the strongest, and then make sure that everything is running the right way. Are orders being filled on time? Are your customers happy with the service?
With your main business doing well, take a look at other markets that are similar to yours. Are there any spaces that haven’t been filled by your competition? That’s where you want to start.
Before you take a big step, it’s vital to conduct research of this new market. Check out the competition and figure out what it takes to be successful. As always, you want to enter with a sound strategy, and tactics to support it.
If your business is virtual, it’s easy to build it with a website that carries a new product or service. Remember that cross marketing is a simple, yet effective way, to grow two separate entities.
Adding new lines of products is another sure-fire way to grow your business. Competitive pricing is a must, but you should take time to educate yourself about each new product line and its strengths and weaknesses.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to building a business is lack of patience!
We all want success to come almost instantaneously, and when it doesn’t we’re disappointed and quick to look for a solution. You know what? Many times there is no solution because there is no problem! You’re not failing, you’re expecting too much, too soon.
Allow new ventures to grow; it takes time, but as they gain momentum you’ll be happy that you waited. Think of these new ventures as struggling plants, they need care and shelter and lots of water to survive – and again the key ingredient is time!
Building a business is an exciting venture, and as you add new products and other offerings, you’ll be rewarded with additional income and chance to share that with your family, friends and community.
Just remember to be patient and keep working hard!
Tags: education business opportunities, entrepreneurial education, financial stability, developed countries
Every culture has a phrase that urges the listener to prepare today so they can be ready for any trouble that surfaces tomorrow.
The English version of this saying is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and it’s no surprise, since he’s regarded as one of the most forward thinkers of his time.
What Mr. Franklin was saying that by planning, you’ll be ready to weather tougher times – and not be caught by surprise when an emergency occurs. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, preparation is vital to success!
Being prepared doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money in the form of insurance, there are simple strategies and tactics you can follow, and gain that pound of cure without going bankrupt!
* Calendar – this simple tool helps you plan your year, and anticipate busy times and slow times. Divide each year into four quarters, and review each quarter separately. Write down ideas for advertising, marketing and projected sales.
* Journal – another investment, this simple notebook is a place where you can record daily and weekly happenings with your business. You don’t have to write lengthy entries, just accurate snapshots of cash flow, sales, advertising that worked, etc. When you’re planning the next year, this journal will be incredibly valuable.
* Savings – if you’re eventually going to have an emergency fund, you have to start one at some point in time! It doesn’t have to be a lot, but setting aside a small sum each week gets you into the habit, and after a year you’ll be amazed at what you’ve saved.
* Idea File – whenever you receive a mailer or email advertisement that you like, put it in this file. When you’re ready to start your own campaign, you won’t be starting from scratch. Samples from other businesses are excellent ways to get your creative energy revved up – and it saves you time.
* Relationship building – your network of contacts is vital to building a business, and when you’re in need of a service or product quickly, knowing someone who can provide it will greatly reduce your downtime in the event of unseen circumstances, like a power outage or machinery breakdown.
Preparing your business for future challenges isn’t a futile exercise, it’s what smart entrepreneurs do. When an emergency occurs, or you’re facing a sudden change, you’ll feel more confident because you’re prepared – and because you’re ready, you won’t waste time or money.Tags: emergency fund, education business opportunities, prospective entrepreneurs
Here in the Western world, we have a different idea of what a retail store is like. Ask somebody in a big city like New York, Chicago, or Toronto how much it would take to open up even a small retail store, and you will get a figure quoted to you in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s an entrepreneurial door that is closed to the poor in developed nations.
Most retail activity however, in countries like India and the Philippines, is informal, very small, and neighborhood-oriented. More often than not, these small retail stores are operated by family members, and usually are set up in a “shop house,” or a type of modest dwelling where the residents live in the back, and have a small store in front. Such a thing isn’t possible in most Western cities, where zoning regulations would forbid it, but it’s very common in many Asian cities.
These small shops are low-budget operations. They’re not fancy, with brand new, glistening shelves and huge refrigeration sections that cost tens of thousands of dollars to install. If there is any refrigeration at all, it’s in the form of an old, used refrigerator or two. In the Philippines, they call this a “sari-sari” store, which is the Tagalog word for “variety”. When you’re walking around Manila you’ll see this on nearly every block. No, they’re not big franchises—we’re not talking about your neighborhood 7-11 here. I’ve shopped at sari-sari stores all over Manila, and it’s a great experience. They’re very local, very informal, and always friendly. Once you see how it operates, you realize that it wouldn’t take much money to stock one of these stores, and it wouldn’t take much to set it up, either. All someone needs to do is transform a back room of their house into a shop, put up an awning, and install a few home-made shelves, and they’re good to go.
What I’ve always found fascinating about the friendly neighborhood sari-sari is that it automatically becomes a hangout. The proprietor will usually put out a few cheap plastic tables and chairs in front, and people come, buy their drinks and snacks, and sit and talk for a while.
Thirty-two year old Jesusa wanted to supplement her family income. Her hard-working husband is a farmer, but his income is inconsistent, and she needed to be able to stay at home to take care of their two-year old child, Rafael. She saw an opportunity right away, after realizing that the nearest sari-sari was four blocks away. Their simple home didn’t need that many modifications, and her husband and brother were able to transform the back of the home into a sari-sari in just a couple weekends, with some basic building materials. But now came the hard part—Jesusa had to find enough money to stock up the store with goods people in the neighborhood would want to buy, purchase a few tables and chairs, and put up a sign. All totaled, she figured she would have to spend about $750, a small fortune to a family that lives a day at a time.
When her microloan came through, she was in business within a week, and within a month, her little sari-sari had already become the most popular spot in the neighborhood! Now there’s never any worries about what to do when the farming income isn’t coming in—Jesusa’s income has transformed the young family’s lives.
Club Asteria is actively pursuing microfinance opportunities the world over, and we’re very interested in providing funds to people like Jesusa. Join us today, and start making a difference in the world!Tags: financial stability, earn income, business loans
The Indian subcontinent is an exotic success story, home to some of the largest business process outsourcing companies in the world, some of the best technical colleges in Asia, and at least 69 billionaires. But while business journals hail the success of India Inc., there’s still another story to be told.
Microfinance in India is catching on—there are plenty of people in local villages who want to take advantage of it, and perhaps even more importantly, there are plenty of people in the monied class who are willing to fund it. Microfinance works especially well in India because of the way retail works. Although we always hear of big multinational chains wanting to move into the Indian market, the majority of retail is still informal—that is, most shops are very small, specialized, and run by family members. Unlike in the U.S., where you need an expensive storefront and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory, somebody in India can launch a small, informal retail shop with a relatively small amount of money. That start-up capital can easily be provided with microfinance.
Take the case of a young jewelry maker named Gulab, who has a talent for putting together beautiful necklaces. Never having finished high school, she was sent to work by her parents early on in a bidi factory, rolling the small, hand-rolled cigarettes in a tiny factory for less than a hundred rupees a day, to help support her family. The factory was actually one small room in the upstairs portion of an apartment building in Kolkata, where some twenty young people labored for ten hours a day in the stifling heat, with just one ancient electric fan to cool the entire room.
When the boss wasn’t looking one day, she started folding the cigarette papers into elaborate shapes and chaining them together into necklaces. She was caught, and was beaten for her trouble—but the necklace was a thing of beauty. She had a talent and an eye for design. She never made jewelry out of the cigarette papers again, but whenever she could get her hands on a few beads, she would save them in a tin box, and when it was full, she would beg her mother for a spool of thread, and string them together in wonderful patterns. One day she got up enough courage to offer one of her necklaces to a tourist that was wandering through the village, and she was presented with two American dollars—almost a full day’s wages at the bidi factory! She was uneducated, but smart enough to know where her future would be, if only she could get enough money to invest in some beads and a small push cart. When she heard of a microfinance opportunity from some of the village elders, she got some help in applying, and was fortunate enough to be able to make her plea in person and show her talent with some attractive hand-made jewelry. With an initial microfinance investment of 4,500 rupees – about US$100 – she was able to get everything she needed. She was able to pay back the loan in just a few months, and today is enjoying her new life as a jewelry vendor. And she’s set a new goal for herself—she wants to save up for a motorbike!Tags: indian subcontinent, cigarette papers, business process outsourcing, financial stability
Keeping a secret can be tough – you want to share it with someone, but once you do, it stops being a secret. However, the secret we have is worth telling, because it’s going to help every member of Club Asteria who takes advantage of it!
As the owner of Auto Marketing Pros, Nate is an experienced leader in internet marketing, and his secret is showing you how to take advantage of our Affiliate Program. This program rewards members who refer their friends and business associates to Club Asteria – when that person becomes a member, you receive a monthly financial reward!
Once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to Nate’s personal coaching, training videos and other resources. He’ll hand you tips, tricks and strategies that unlock the door to success with Club Asteria!
We’re happy to be partnering with Nate Bloom, and his resources and experiences are going to help out Club Asteria members who are interested in succeeding. The extra income you generate with Nate’s guidance will improve the lives of your family members, friends and members of the community.Tags: innovative programs, internet marketer, gold level, internet marketing, financial reward, club asteria, level member
Enjoying lunch at an outdoor restaurant by the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, I sat watching the boats go up and down the river. A mahout with his elephant walked by, and I was savoring the delightful flavors of an exceptionally spicy tom kha gai. A young girl, maybe 11 or 12 years old, came up to me and held out a box full of colorful pens, pencils, and other sundries. She just looked right into my eyes, without saying a word, holding out her box. She obviously wanted to sell me something, but this girl seemed different somehow. Usually even a youngster will try to say a few words to me, and will almost always give me a broad smile, but this one just stood there. She seemed a little frightened, somehow, but I couldn’t quite tell what was wrong.
I tried speaking a few words to her with my limited knowledge of Thai, but no response. Then my friend who was with me clued me in. “She’s Burmese,” said my friend. “She doesn’t speak Thai.” I shook my head in understanding, took a pen out of her box and handed her a 100-baht note, and she scurried away. A little while later I saw her handing over her box and her money to a well-dressed man in a car. He seemed unpleasant, and I saw him forcing her into the back seat.
“You shouldn’t have given her that money,” said my friend. I have to admit to having been a little clueless as to what was going on. This wasn’t just a little girl looking for food money. I found out later that gangs enslave these children, smuggling them over the border and forcing them to go out and sell these items on the streets of Bangkok. Most of the money goes to the gang, and not the children, which is why my friend admonished me about making a purchase. But at the same time, if the girls fail to bring in the gang boss’s requisite amount of cash, they get beaten. And so I saw an immediate dilemma. If you give her money, it goes to the gang boss, and if you don’t, she might get beaten. There’s no way to win.
Burma is a difficult place to visit, and a more difficult place to live. But the following week I knew I had to venture over there and see for myself what the people lived like. Cut off for the most part from Western culture, they still dress in traditional clothing. Across the border in Tachilek, Burma, it is a different world from Thailand. Venturing out from the busy border crossing area and nearby bazaar, you start to get a feel for what this country is really all about, and how the people there live.
I heard a story there from a European aid worker who verified my tale of the little Burmese girl who had been forced to sell pens and pencils in Bangkok. “It happens all the time,” he told me. “They’re terrified. They don’t know where they are, they don’t speak the language, and the big city is totally unfamiliar to them.” He told me a story of a young family whose daughter went missing one day. There was no way to know for sure, but they suspected that the gangs had gotten to her. The girl’s mother was distraught but completely helpless. A couple years passed and the mother had discovered microloans, and was able to start a small business, and purchased a food cart. She had never gotten over her daughter, and dreamed that some day they would be together again. The mother was able to save a little money over time, and was eventually able to take a trip to Bangkok, on the extremely remote chance that she could find her daughter. People told her Bangkok was a city of ten million people, and she would never find her—and she didn’t even know for sure that’s where she had been taken. But she had to take a chance. She took every last bit of money she had earned from her microfinance-funded business and spent the next two months in Bangkok, searching desperately for her missing daughter. Can you guess how the story ended? Yes, she found her, and they both immediately ran for shelter before the gang boss knew she was missing. And today, mother and daughter are happily reunited.
You never know what long-term effects microlending may have, and how dramatically it may affect somebody’s life. Club Asteria supports microlending programs all over the world. Small amounts of money can make more of a difference than anyone could possibly realize. Please support our efforts to support new microlending programs in Burma, Thailand, and all over the world—and help make a difference in peoples’ lives.
Both in the United States and abroad, in economically mature countries and poor or “emerging” nations, there’s one constant you can count on: Computer literacy helps to lift people out of poverty. The Internet economy has broken down barriers and borders, for the first time making it realistic for somebody in rural Thailand, in Kolkata India, or even in sub-Saharan Africa to begin the path towards self-sufficiency. Because of the available technology, it’s possible for the first time to realistically work at home in your own cottage industry, and more people are doing that every day. It’s no longer a pipe dream—it’s realistic, and the technology is here to make it happen.
The challenge of course, is to get computers in the hands of the world’s poorest people, to provide Internet access and electricity to rural villages, and to educate them on how to use the technology to their benefit. It’s already happening, on all fronts. Thailand’s well-regarded rural distance learning program pipes in first-class education to the most remote villages in the country, from the “King’s School” in HuaHin—the best school in the country. Satellite Internet access provides coverage to nearly all of Southeast Asia, no matter how remote. In India, even the poorest citizens have been able to get computer literate, and go into business providing services on a telecommuting basis to Western countries.
The innovative “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) program even has a solution to help get computers into the hands of young people in poor villages. This program isn’t just about providing computers to people—it’s about alleviating poverty. It’s about giving children a skill that they can use the rest of their lives. The goal of OLPC is to create very inexpensive, minimally configured laptops, which can even be used in a village with no electricity (remarkably, it’s powered by a hand crank). Thailand was actually the first country to sign up with the program, and Nigeria has also made great strides with it. Rwanda has made a commitment to provide laptops to all school children.
There’s no disputing that technology is the key. When Nehru established the Indian Institute of Technology, India was deep in poverty. There’s no doubt that poverty is still rampant there, but India has made great strides—and it’s largely due to the country’s focus on developing a framework for technological education. What has become known as the “Asian miracle” can be replicated around the world.
Microfinance has a role to play in establishing this technological base. While it’s up to NGOs like OLPC, and local governments, to provide the framework and the educational infrastructure, microfinance can actually give poor people the tools they need to become self-sufficient.
Take the case of a teenager from a poor family in Delhi. Through hands-on learning and some low-cost direct training, he has become very proficient at web site design, and he’s quickly discovered he has a talent for graphic arts. He’s already created the web site for his school, which has become widely recognized as one of the best school web sites in the country. But until recently, he has always relied on using computers at the school, or even paying to use the local Internet café. A small microfinance loan enabled him to buy a low-cost laptop and Internet service at home—and how he’s building web sites for schools and small businesses all over India. This small, home-based business has turned around his own life and the lives of his parents and siblings, and he’s just received some very good news. He’s been accepted to attend the Indian Institute of Technology, and because of his work, he will be able to afford to put himself through school.Tags: hand crank, getting a loan, poor villages, western countries, pipe dream
I’ve written in these pages in the past about how the retail industry in poor and developing nations is very informal, with stores often being run out of peoples’ homes, and put together on a very low budget. Now I’d like to tell you about how the restaurant business works in rural Thailand.
There are different types of restaurants throughout Thailand, ranging from five-star tourist destinations with the finest international cuisine, to very informal “footpath restaurants” that are set up along the sidewalk, and everything in between. In most of Thailand, you’ll see these footpath restaurants everywhere. What does it take to become a restaurateur in Thailand? You could of course, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a high-end destination, bring in one of the finest French chefs from Paris, and cater to rich tourists. But of course, if you’re like most people there, you don’t have that kind of money. In fact, you probably don’t have any money at all. But launching your own footpath restaurant isn’t a capital-intensive venture. You buy some cheap plastic tables and chairs, a wok and a propane tank, throw it in the back of your old pickup truck, and find a spot on the sidewalk. Make a few signs. Unload your paraphernalia and start cooking. Voila, you’re a restaurateur! If only it were so easy in the U.S. and Canada!
Tourists are often afraid to eat at these places, because the food tends to be very local and unfamiliar, and English is less likely to be spoken. Many are skittish about eating food that is being cooked out in the open. But it’s a great experience, and I recommend it highly if you ever have the chance to travel to Southeast Asia. You’ll get the real experience—real Thai food that the locals eat—and get to interact with some of the most friendly and interesting people in the world. The first time I ate at one of these places, I was with my Thai friend who ordered for us. I had no idea what was in store, but the food was wonderful, savory and fresh, and lunch for both of us cost 150 baht—about four U.S. dollars. I have to admit, I ate some things I probably wouldn’t have ordinarily ordered, but the fried fish maw was a lot tastier than I ever would have imagined. We ordered an exceptionally spicy Tom Yum Goong soup, and cooled off with a wonderful dessert of mango and sticky rice.
Everywhere in the country, from Hat Yai to Chiang Mai, these food stalls provide good food at cheap prices to locals and tourists alike. But the biggest miracle is the opportunities these small food stalls present to people with few options at hand. Twenty-six year old Noi learned how to make pad thai noodles from her grandma. Grandma had a reputation for making the best noodles in the neighborhood when Noi was a little girl, and Noi always paid special attention when Grandma was cooking in her traditional outdoor cooking area.
A year ago Noi, having lost her job at a small retail store, decided she’d like to open up her own footpath noodle stall near her modest apartment in Nonthaburi, a bustling suburb of Bangkok. With the help of a microloan, she was able to get the equipment she needed, an initial supply of ingredients, and some signage. She already had the most important part—the lessons and inspiration her grandmother had given her years ago as a little girl.
Today, Noi makes twice as much as she ever did as a retail clerk (minimum wage in Thailand is about fifty cents an hour), and she’s fast gaining a reputation as the “Noodle Lady of Nonthaburi”.
We’re always so pleased when we here at Club Asteria hear about people like Noi, whose lives have been transformed for the better, with just a little help from some unknown friends. Join our group today and help us in our effort to promote microlending around the world.Tags: restaurant business, plastic tables, international cuisine
Cambodia has a turbulent history and is still struggling to establish stability and peace, though it has a democratically elected government and a constitutional monarchy. During my visits to the country, I have never ceased to marvel at the amazing cultural heritage of the country and its imposing architecture. Juxtaposed against this is the daily life of the common people, who literally fight a battle for survival.
Kolab lives 40 kilometers outside Phnom Penh the capital city with her husband and 6 children, 4 daughters and 2 sons. She is 35 and her husband just 4 years older and like most of the local people, their livelihood is from rice farming in the small plot of land adjacent to their humble home. It is a struggle to feed and clothe her family and obviously there is no money left to send the children to school. The eldest son helps in the farm while the younger ones fend for themselves.
I met Kolab on one of my visits and saw how the family was struggling to survive with a little dignity. Kolab, as is usual in Asia, was the pivot around whom the others revolved and I noticed her desperation to give her children a better life. A chance encounter with a friend in the capital was the proverbial coincidence that did just that. Kolab and her husband had gone there to the government center to buy some seeds and fertilizer with the meager money they had and their farmer friend was also there. He started talking about the NGO that had advanced him a loan without any collateral and how he had expanded his farming land and bought a tractor with the money. Kolab felt a little hope blossoming in her heart, perhaps they could try?
A few days later the representative from the micro-lending NGO came to their home and the formalities were completed. Pheakdel, her husband, signed the papers and the loan amount of $700 was sanctioned with a monthly repayment plan starting from the 3rd month. Kolab and Pheakdel bought seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and a water pumping machine with the major portion of the money. They also managed to buy a small additional plot of land for planting more rice and potatoes.
My recent visit saw a changed scenario; Kolab’s entire personality had changed as she wore a colorful dress and the children looked well-fed and happy. They were all going to school, including Sovann, her eldest son. They had repaid the earlier loan and applied for a new one. Now, Pheakdel wanted to branch out into the fishing business and decided that he would buy the necessary equipment with the new loan. More land acquisition was also planned as Kolab brimmed over with her enthusiastic chatter about how good the yield was with all their hard work.
Microfinance is an effective way to help the poor and marginalized in many countries to generate income and find a way out of grinding poverty. Club Asteria finds a ray of hope in such stories of revival and will continue working for such communities around the world. We trust you will join us on this voyage of discovery to support the many that need a helping hand.Tags: eldest son, getting a loan, club asteria, repayment plan
Whenever I entertain my friends with tales of my travels throughout the world, they always love to hear about exotic, tropical locales like Thailand. Nobody ever questions why I would want to spend time on a tropical island, but when I turn the discussion to my last trip to Beirut, there’s a different reaction. “Beirut?!” they say. “Why on earth would anybody want to go there?”
Of course, they’re thinking of the war and destruction that has gone on in recent years, but since then, Beirut has been rebuilt and restored to its former glory. It has for centuries been a major center for culture and commerce, and one of the great jewels of the middle east. And yes, people really do go on vacations there.
Traveling to exotic destinations though isn’t all about luxurious hotels and five-star restaurants. It’s great to enjoy those things, but one of the most enlightening things about traveling is being exposed to how the rest of the world lives. Sometimes people who have traveled to places like Beirut are shocked at the levels of poverty and desperation they see. That’s not what they signed up for—they just want a few palm trees and a tropical rum drink served in a coconut shell. But that’s the reality, and it’s important to see it.
In Beirut, despite the rebuilding and the wonderful tourist destinations, there is still poverty—poverty that you will not see in much of the West. Poverty that will shock you. An article in today’s Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper, gives us some insight and some hope into the situation there. Microcredit is starting to reach Beirut and the rural areas of Lebanon, offering hope in the form of small loans to poor families. According to the World Bank, Lebanon’s microloan portfolio now stands at about $50 million, with somewhere between 38,000 and 55,700 active clients. Sounds impressive, until you read the World Bank report a little further, which says that the number of eligible borrowers in that area is about 190,000. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of people to reach.
If you’re on the tourist path, you won’t see much of that desperate poverty, and in fact, Lebanon is one of the wealthier nations of the Middle East. But there is a disparity, and about 28 percent of the population falls under the UNDP’s poverty line of about four dollars a day. The article in the Star relates the story of two microcredit clients who have done well for themselves. Hajjeh, a Syrian woman in her mid-sixties, uses microcredit funds to buy make-up which she re-sells on the street; and Amal, a young Palestinian mother of three, makes delicious Arabic sweets to sell. How I love Middle Eastern sweets. I wish I were there to sample them! Remarkably, both of these ladies are now earning about $100 a week in their new small businesses.
Club Asteria supports microcredit programs like this, helping to lift people out of poverty the world over. Please join us today, and help support our efforts to bring prosperity to the world.Tags: elimate poverty, entrepreneurial education, five star restaurants, former glory, membership organization, exotic destinations, education business opportunities