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Inc.com's Best How-to Guides of 2010

Need to boost your sales prowess? Want to make money on the iPhone or be a hit on Etsy? Over the past year, Inc.com has become the source for how-to guides on every aspect of entrepreneurship. Here are the 20 guides Inc.com readers loved best.

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Whether you're looking for tips on motivating your employees, need advice on going solo for the first time, or could use some help writing a business plan, Inc.com is the source for comprehensive how-to guides for entrepreneurs. We've decided to see which of our 400-plus 2010 guides our readers loved the most (well, clicked on the most), and have compiled them here. There are some surprise hits, including the guide that topped our list, How to Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy, and some expected winners, including guides on cold-calling, negotiating, and landing your first million-dollar sale. Let us know which is your favorite, and what you'd like to learn about in 2011.

1. How to Sell Handmade Goods on Etsy

Last year Etsy helped mostly home-based start-ups sell $180 million-worth of goods. The Brooklyn-based team behind this online marketplace for handmade crafts is helping many sellers profit handsomely by offering them a platform to sell their merchandise. In 2010, more than a few aspiring entrepreneurs successfully launched their design and craft labels on Etsy, allowing them to quit day jobs to pursue their dream career. With that, maybe it's not such a surprise so many Inc. readers wanted to learn how to make it on Etsy.  Read more.

2. How to Run a One-person Business

So you're sick of your corporate gig and dream of making a living as a solopreneur? Actually, you're not alone (pun intended). And that's the topic of Inc.com's second-most-popular guide of 2010. There are now more than 20 million single-person businesses in the United States, accounting for more than three-fourths of all U.S. businesses, according to recent U.S. Census data. The prospect of running your own business has some obvious appeal. Being your own boss lets you set your own schedule–at least theoretically. Still, one person can only handle so much. Here's how to make the most of your time and efforts. Read more.

3. How to Write a Great Business Plan

A great business plan is a living, breathing blueprint for your business that can help you navigate and manage your company while also helping potential investors, partners, lenders, and others understand your business strategy and your chances at success. A business plan is never quite finished because you're always revising it, reviewing it, and building upon it. In fact, more important to your business' future than having a written, 30-page, coil-bound plan to distribute is the business planning process that you undertake on a regular basis to keep your ship headed in the right direction without losing sight of your long-term destination. Read more.

4. 7 Tips for Motivating Employees

Any CEO knows that employee motivation is a key to individual performance, group productivity, and maintaining a pleasant office culture. So how do you do it exactly? For a dose of inspiration on how to motivate your workers, we've compiled the best recent pointers on the subject from articles published in Inc. magazine and on Inc.com. Read more.

5. How to Land a Million-Dollar Sale

It's the singular goal of many entrepreneurs: landing a million-dollar sale. Nailing down that major-league client or dream contract often marks the transition from a nice little business to an influential industry player. But getting that first big sale is sometimes easier said than done because winning such a contract rarely comes down to being the lowest bidder. Read more.

6. How to Improve Your Cold-Calling Skills

Let's face it: Nobody really enjoys making cold calls. But the ability to spark an almost immediate connection remains a crucial skill to have whether you are a business owner, job seeker or even a volunteer looking to raise money. Here's a guide to closing more deals with fewer dials. Read more.

7. 10 Things to Do Before You Start Your Start-up

Is your great idea good enough? Can it grow in this slow economy? Can it become profitable, and return on any investments it requires? Well, there's no way to know until you try, right? Hardly. There are some ways to prepare yourself, test your idea, and improve it before you actually build a company around it. We compiled the best examples from recent Inc. articles and Inc.com guides of tips for the very early steps of building a start-up. Read more.

8. How to Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business

This guide, part of January's Social Media Tool Kit, has proved useful for small-business owners all year. It includes advice for small businesses on using social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and how to integrate these tools into your company's marketing and recruiting efforts. Read more.

9. 7 Deadly Web Design Mistakes

Flash is cool, right? And that lovely welcome screen and information-rich homepage are just perfect. Or are they? We talked to six top designers and creative directors about their Web design pet peeves. What makes these pros cringe might surprise you. This vaguely Halloween-themed guide was the year's ninth most popular how-to read on Inc.com. Read more.

10. How to Manage a One-person Sales Force

Is your sales force an army of one (namely you)? If that's the case, here are 10 tips to make sure you do the job right. Read more.

11. 10 Tips for Giving an Important Speech

Those preparing for this kind of talk have heard "practice, practice, practice" and "less is more," but there are still speakers who make audience members fight to stay awake. With that in mind, experienced presenters offer these key steps for rallying a large, influential audience of peers around a central idea. Read more.

12. Tips for Great Negotiating

Think confidence, machismo, and stamina are the keys to winning a negotiation? Then your bargaining skills need a reboot. Over the past decade, a growing field of literature on the subject has come to the conclusion that checking your ego at the boardroom door is a must. Compromise and kindness are the new rules of negotiation. How does this gentler approach work? We compiled a short list of pointers to get you started. Read more.

13. How to Design a Great About Us Page

It's one of the most important elements on a company's website and also one of the most undervalued: the ubiquitous "About Us" page—that section on your site that has been collecting virtual dust because you haven't bothered to read it since, well, you first wrote it. You may not be paying it much attention, but visitors to your site are. And considering that your About Us page is where the world clicks to first learn about your company and the services you offer, it deserves a little more consideration and a lot more respect. Read more.

14. Common Sales Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Everyone makes mistakes, but missteps in the selling process can have especially serious consequences. Not only do they deprive your business of revenue, but they can erode confidence among members of your staff as well as potential customers. The following mistakes are particularly common among start-ups, but even the most seasoned entrepreneurs can fall victim to them. Here's how to identify and avoid them. Read more.

15. How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Brand

The aesthetic of your product and its labeling can have a huge impact on sales. If you're handing your own branding, here's how to pick the right colors. Read more.

16. How to Write a Great Marketing Plan

Experts know that careful planning is integral to marketing success. Here's your guide to crafting a thorough marketing plan - and learning more about your customers along the way. Read more.

17. 10 Tips for Making Employees Love Their Office

You take your staff on kayaking trips. You order pizza for meetings. But who cares about the occasional extras if your workers aren't delighted to be in their workspace day-in and day-out? We reviewed the best in office amenities and policies recently covered in Inc. and on Inc.com for the highlights of companies making their offices into places their employees love coming to in the morning. Read more.

18. 25 Ways to Jump-start Your Business

Looking for ways to make your company more productive, your team more creative, and your operations more efficient? If so, then check out these 25 strategies, which range from thoughts on leadership to advice on how to motivate employees to ways of reducing IT costs. Each of these ideas has been tested by other small businesses and yielded a significant pay-off. Here's hoping they work just as well at your business. Read more.

19. How to Cold Call a Big Customer

Does the thought of ringing a Fortune 500 firm and asking an influential executive for some face time give you goose bumps? There's good cause to be anxious. Large corporations are cautious, hierarchical, and difficult to penetrate. On the other hand, such firms have extensive resources, and, if you sell them effectively, can become some of your most lucrative customers. So, how do you ask sales prospects—in this case highly visible companies—to pony up? Here are some tips on how to pitch to the big guys. Read more.

20. How to Make Money on iPhone Apps

How many times has a friend showed you her favorite new iPhone app, and you lamented: Why didn't I think of that? With total downloads from Apple's iTunes app store topping three billion, and monthly sales upwards of $200 million, the marketplace for apps is booming. If you're a designer or programmer, how can you afford not to be creating apps? Well, it's not quite that simple. Apple says it receives between 8,500 and 10,000 application submissions every week. That's a mighty lot of competition, even for experienced game and media designers. Here's how to stay ahead of it. Read more.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Dec 30, 2010




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