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By Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess! and author of “But Are You Making Any Money?”

It often starts like this: “You’re so amazing at [fill in the blank], Julia, you really should go into business.” And I cringe every time a newly minted entrepreneur tells me their story. Why? Because, it takes so much more than a great idea or amazing pastry skills to make a profit. And that is the difference between a hobby and a business: Profit. Yes, it takes talent, passion and a lot of other things. But one of the most important is the commitment to a plan.

Following is my quick and dirty system for going from Betty, the neighbor down the street who can help you with your daughter’s birthday party, to Betty, the go to girl if you want to knock it out of the park for your super spawn.

1. Make a plan and write it down. You MUST address the key components of a business plan before you go from hobbyist to the real deal. What makes you better, stronger or faster than everyone else in the marketplace and why are your future customers desperate to have you solve their problems or mix their martinis? You cannot merely be great at baking cakes. No matter what the neighbors say, they’re not enough to sustain you when it’s time to whip out the credit card.

2. Show me the money. What is your pricing strategy, your upfront costs and your overhead? Have you really drilled down on ALL of your Cost of Goods Sold, even the ones that seem inconsequential like that 10 cent label on the bottom of your magic lotion? It’s not enough to hope your sales will exceed your forecasts and you’ll get to somehow take a salary.

3. Create a time tracking system. From. Day. 1. Get used to it. You can always make more money, you can never get back lost time. How you spend your time will directly correlate to the success of your venture.

4. Get the ROI for your time, just like your money. You wouldn’t give your stock broker $10,000 without some sort of expected ROI, yet we don’t approach our time with nearly the same ferocity. Then we wonder why we can’t get everything done. Say adios to long lunches with friends of friends of cousins who just want to “pick your brain” — your core activities must all contribute to the bottom line.

5. Assemble a support system. My old business professor calls it a “Kitchen Cabinet” since a Board of Directors sounds a little formal for your spare bedroom scrapbooking company. But rest assured, entrepreneurship can be lonely. Save yourself a lot of sleepless nights and assemble a group of the smartest people you can think of, especially in key areas where you’re weak.

6. Tweak your model. Know going in that things aren’t going to go exactly as planned, but that doesn’t mean the planning was faulty or fruitless. Expect to react to the market and be nimble, lean and decisive.

Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess!, has planned events for A-list celebs such as Pierce Brosnan and Sofia Vergara, and now, with her book, “But Are You Making Any Money?” she has become a sought-after expert on issues and trends facing entrepreneurs and small business owners. Her business savvy has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur magazine and more. For more information, please visit www.marleymajcher.com, or follow @ThePartyGoddess on Twitter and Instagram.

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When you work in Direct Sales you will experience some party cancellations from time to time for genuine emergencies that have been encountered by your party hosts. However, you will also encounter party cancellations that are just “excuses” by hosts who were not properly prepared for his/her party or by hosts who do not take your business seriously.

Today I thought I would share some of my Host Coaching techniques that worked well for me in cutting down party cancellations and re-schedulings of my host’s parties.

Tip #1. When you first set the date for the host’s party you need to be very firm and very clear that this is “YOUR BUSINESS” and that you take it seriously. Let them know that this is not a hobby and that you are counting on them to hold the party on the date they selected.

Let them know up front that if they need to cancel (in an emergency) that you would appreciate a minimum of 72 hours notice and that you expect the party to be rescheduled only one time within a week of the original party date.

This is very important because some hosts will reschedule a gazillion times with 100 excuses to go along with it. Those dates that you marked off for that particular host could of been filled with other excited hosts who really want to host a party.

Tip #2. Many times a host will cancel a party using the excuse that they forgot to mail the invitations or that only 1-2 people said they were coming. To cut down on this entire problem I recommend that you personally fill out the invitations and that you personally mail them out!

Tell your host when you sent them and ask your host to call everyone on the guest list a week after you sent out the party invitations to get a RSVP out of them. In is also advisable that you ask your host to recontact all of the party guests 2-3 days before the party date to remind them about the party.

Tip #3. Keep in touch with your party host at least once a week leading up to the party date. Do your best to keep her excited about her upcoming party and keep reminding her about all of those fabulous booking gifts, free gifts and 1/2 price gifts he/she will receive for having a successful party. Communicating with your party host on a regular basis is one of the BEST keys to a successful home party.

Shelly Hill has been working in Direct Sales for over 25+ years and owns the popular Work at Home Business Options web site at www.workathomebusinessoptions.com where Direct Sales consultants can get free business tips, read Direct Sales articles and get free business related resources geared towards those in Direct Sales.

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Educational Development Corp. (EDUC—NASDAQ), parent of bookseller Usborne Books & More, is marking 24 consecutive months of growth following a nine-year decline, according to the company’s quarterly earnings report.

Oklahoma-based Educational Development Corp. (EDC) operates EDC Publishing as well as the larger Usborne direct selling division. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, the combined businesses recorded net revenue of $9.6 million, up 34 percent from a year ago. Net income for the quarter ended May 31 rose 35 percent to $324,600.

At Usborne Books & More, a 108 percent increase in new sales associates spurred 59 percent revenue growth in the first quarter. The marketer of educational children’s books, twice recognized by Forbes magazine as one of “The 200 Best Small Companies in America,” is in the midst of a turnaround that began in 2012. In a recent interview with DSN, CEO Randall White attributed Usborne’s growth to a number of factors, including the decision to cancel an account with one of the brand’s primary wholesalers, thereby boxing out competition from Amazon.

White sees plenty of opportunity for Usborne’s continued growth, particularly via social media, where an increasing number of transactions are taking place. “We are a debt-free company; the last few months have been spectacular, and so I think there’s a huge market we can tap,” he told DSN.