You've got an idea for launching a small business. That spark of inner genius in itself is a feat worth celebrating. But that little lightbulb floating above your head – bright as it may be – can dim quickly if your idea isn't an all-around winner. Of course, you must think your idea is good or else you wouldn't consider moving forth, but to really assess its true value and profitability, you'll need to have a solid "yes" as your answer to the four imperative questions below. You've dreamt it up, now make it a reality!

Are You All In?

First and foremost, are you busting at the seams with passion for your project? If you have any doubts, how will you convince anyone else that your business is worth their while? Additionally, you're going to need to go all in to get this thing off the ground and running strong. If your business idea is inspiring, motivating, and you cannot imagine doing anything more, you're off on the right foot.

Business News Daily quotes Melissa Bradley, executive-in-residence and director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Kogod School of Business at American University. She notes, "Since starting a business requires an inordinate amount of time, energy and patience, ideally, the idea will be one that you are passionate about and have skills/experience in."

Not to mention, you'll likely have to put forth a heap of funds into your endeavor. Without a rip roaring inner drive, making the money back (and then some) won't happen easily. Your whole heart and soul must thrive off this idea in order for the world to take notice too.

Does It Fill a Void?

Why exactly do you want to pursue this business? If your answer is that you see something's missing out there, or you've got a way to improve upon what your competition is putting forth, then you're onto something smart. You need to know your goal and stand by it.

B Plans suggests asking yourself the following to assess if your idea is smart: "What's your mission? All new businesses need a sense of purpose. Are you trying to improve people's lives in some way? What are the core differentiators of your business that set you apart from the next person trying to build a similar business?"

If your idea is already a "been there, done that" one, you may need to rethink your strategy. Why would someone buy or use your (at this time, unknown) product or service, when there's already a tried, true, and trusted one out there? If your plan isn't fresh or unique in some way, spending time developing it further could lose you money and take away valuable time and energy that you could put towards a new and more meaningful (and profitable) pursuit.

Do People Want It?

Talk up your idea with friends and family and people in the field who are knowledgable or have been successful. Even run your business idea past strangers – you're going to want as many people as possible to buy or use your product or service, right? Find out if people would actually pay for what you're planning to offer. Because even if they like your idea, it doesn't mean they would spend their money on it. Someone may like the idea of getting a Ferrari, but it doesn't mean they're headed to the dealer any time soon.

Business News Daily quoted Wil Schroter, co-founder and CEO of Fundable. He said, "An idea is just an idea until you have a paying customer attached to it. Anyone can discredit a simple idea, but no one can discredit paying customers."

B Plans suggests running test ads with Google Adwords or on Facebook to see if there's any positive response (or any at all for that matter). Revamp and tweak your ideas with the feedback you receive. Any input you get can be put to good use for you to rethink your strategy, spend, and style. It's all about the basic business principal of supply and demand. Make sure whatever you're dreaming up is going to be sought after with enough power to make your company money.

Do You Have a Solid Marketing Plan?

Just because you build it, it doesn't mean they're going to come. In order to fully get that product or service to the right clients and customers, you'll need to have a unique selling point that's scalable to the point you can and want to take it. Clearly defined marketing plans and goals must be laid out before you introduce your product. First impressions aren't the only ones you get, but they will set the reputation for your brand.

Inc. suggests getting advice from a marketing professional from the get-go. "Doing this will reduce your business risk as well as overhead expenses, while providing you with details about how much your business demands in terms of promotion and advertising. New businesses that ignore the value of marketing and think this is something that can be worked out later are usually seen rectifying errors committed at the outset."

Just because you are a savvy entrepreneur doesn't mean you're a marketing whiz as well, so let the experts guide you. Once you've grown your company, you can hire a marketing team to help the business soar year after year with marketing campaigns, social media presence, and other advertising strategies.

With these 4 items in mind, are you convinced your idea's a good one? If not, use these questions to help you get that plan solid and ready for takeoff. Good luck!

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Between buying a new home and transporting yourself and your belongings to it, moving can be an expensive process. One often underrecognized cost of moving occurs before one's original house has even been sold, and that's staging the house. Homeowners often spend hundreds of dollars making a home appealing to potential buyers. To ease the financial burden of moving, here are several tips for staging your home on a budget.

Downsize Instead of Storing

The goal of staging a home is to create a blank canvas that potential buyers can imagine their own lives painted upon. To accomplish this, homeowners should depersonalize the home as much as possible, removing items that are specific to their family and eliminating clutter. This is where homeowners often incur their first costs as they rush to put as many older things in storage as possible.

To cut costs, focus on downsizing rather than storing items. Look for items that you can sell, donate, or give away. For remaining items, look for alternative places to store them, such as a friend or relative's house. This will also reduce the cost of moving your belongings when it is time to go to the new house.

DIY What You Can

There are times when homeowners should bring in a professional to manage home renovations and decorating, such as when a task requires specialized skills. These types of jobs, when done incorrectly, will incur even greater costs if attempted on your own. However, many of the home improvement tasks that go into staging a home are simple enough that the homeowner can DIY them, such as painting, installing a backsplash, or refinishing the deck. Doing these tasks yourself will save you a significant amount of money.

Don't Redo, Update

Homeowners are often eager to make their houses look as appealing to buyers as possible. However, recall that the point of staging is depersonalization, making a home presentable so buyers can mentally impose their own style onto it. When staging a home on a budget, focus less on completely transforming the space and more on making what is there look presentable. For instance, if you wanted to give your bedroom a facelift, trying to replace the furniture and flooring would be pointless unless it was damaged or unkempt. Simply organizing the space and replacing the bed's comforter would be sufficient.

Maximize Space

Another way to update the space without entirely redoing it is to rearrange it to maximize the space that is already there. For instance, pulling the furniture away from the walls will make a room appear bigger and allows more space for those touring the house. Using window trimmings that maximize natural light and incorporating wall mirrors can also make a room seem more spacious.

Raising a larger family than most means that your lifestyle is going to change. Costs will continue to multiply as your family grows larger. However, just because your family is large doesn't mean your quality of life needs to suffer. It just means you need to make a few adjustments to help things work smoother and more efficiently. We've compiled a couple of money-saving tips for larger families to help you get the most out of your dollars.

Always Buy in Bulk

The benefit of having a larger family is that things you buy in bulk rarely ever go to waste. Smaller families can benefit from buying in bulk, of course, but your large family will see the most use out of shopping in large quantities. You'll want to avoid going to smaller stores for necessities such as groceries and clothes, as these places generally have higher markups on their items.

Buy Wholesale Items Online

If you want to take buying in bulk to the next level, one of the best money-saving tips for large families is to buy online from wholesalers. Buying online comes with a number of benefits that you won't get when you go to a physical store:

  • You don't have to drag your kids to the store with you
  • You have a lower probability of making impulse purchases
  • You can search for exactly what you need
  • Wholesalers sell in very large quantities for a lower price per item

Never Throw Away Something Useful

When you have to buy things for multiple children, your costs to replace items will be much higher. That's why it's so important to keep everything you can. Clothing is a big part of this. Hand-me-downs can prevent you from needing to replace entire closets every year. Try to repair or upcycle any clothes that may have damage, as this is usually much cheaper than buying brand-new items.

Stick to a Budget

When you support a large family, expenses can sometimes get away from you. Proper budgeting helps to keep the extra purchases that add up to a minimum. Budgeting correctly can save you a lot of heartache in the long run. It's up to you how much control you want to take; you can make your budget weekly or monthly, depending on how tight a ship you need to run. What's important to remember is that making the budget is only the first step—sticking to it is where you'll really need to enact some willpower.

Spring may be the most popular time to list, but people need to buy homes in every season. Follow some simple steps to get your home sold in the winter.

Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.

Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!

Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.

Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh

Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.

The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.

Make the Inside Warm and Cozy

In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.

When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.

Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.

Make Your Home Less Personal

Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.

It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.

Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.

Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.