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Archive for Entrepreneur

Simple Strategies To Find Your Business Idea

Whether you want to be an entrepreneur today, or not – some of these strategies outlined below may help you define not only how you might make a few extra dollars, but may also help you define exactly WHO you are.

Have you ever seen “The Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah? One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from that movie – my other fave is from Hitch. The movies are not current – but the content is timeless.

In this movie, Queen Latifah has just learned she has a terminal brain condition. After cashing in all her money, she packs up and heads for a snowy mountain retreat where she intends to live out her last week or two of life. While there she coincidentally meets the owner of the big box store where she had been employed, along with a politician from her district, and their partners.

At dinner one night they learn about her story. When asked why she was spending her time at the resort she says, “You know how it is. You keep your head down, and you hustle and you hustle. Then you look up one day and you wonder, “How did I even get here?””

This is a nearly perfect picture of how we all seem to live our lives these days. Each day is packed with “things to do,” from housework to school work and your job. Somewhere in all this mess you find time to be with your friends and if you are REALLY lucky, you pick up a book or a magazine that isn’t related to anything you HAVE to do.

For some, developing a small business is a way to get out from under a massive mound of debt, while others do it as a way to express themselves and earn a little money at the same time. But, before running off to try the next new thing, let’s figure out a few rules that will make your journey safer and more productive.

SOS

Forget about Shiny Object Syndrome. If you subscribe to any newsletters, you’ll likely have received ads about how you can work from home – if only you purchase the next piece of software, information product or way to produce a service that EVERYONE needs.

In the first place, not everyone needs your product or service – no matter how great you think it is. In the second place, the only thing the ads are selling are products. The owners are not interested in your success, no matter how much they say they are. They are selling a product or a service and whether it is or is not successful is up to YOU.

Your first task is to forget about the next shiny object that comes along and stay focused on what you determine is the road you want to journey.

ACTION

Once you’ve determined the road you’ll travel, it’s time to travel down the road! Right action is the ONLY way to experience success, no matter what anyone else ever tells you. If you want to be a writer, you must hone your craft. If you want to produce videos, you must practice. If you want to produce a physical product, you must have a prototype that you test and use. If you want to have a service, then you must advertise and get clients.

Determine WHAT you want to do. Make a PLAN to do it. Now take right ACTION.

 

Those are the two rules to keep you safe and moving in the right direction. You’ll take a misstep or two or three – but if you get up, revise the plan and keep moving, eventually you’ll get to your destination. Have a business is a lot like going through life. You might not have imagined yourself as a single mom, but this isn’t the end of your journey.

So how do you determine WHAT you want to do?

What you read next may not be news to you, but if you haven’t acted on the information then you are no further ahead than if you did have the information. So – ignore the shiny objects, make a plan and take action.

Research, research, research

You’ve heard the expression that the value of any property is based on three factors? Location, location, location. For the most part, the same is true of any business you start. Without research into many factors, you’ll likely stumble more times than you care to.

Before you can research the actual business idea, you have to HAVE an idea. And that takes research too – just a different kind.

Start by making a list of the things you enjoy, the things you are good at and the things others say you are good at. Don’t keep anything off the list. Maybe you’re good at organization, making lists, writing, research, parenting, relationships, numbers, accounting or building. It doesn’t matter what it is  – write it down. If it helps, make categories to help you think about where your talents lie.

Pay attention to what others have told you in the past. What are the things you’ve done that you’ve enjoyed, done well, had fun with or that others have asked you to do for them? Has anyone ever said to you – “someone would pay for that!” Nothing should be left off the table – this is the time to consider everything.

Part of your research is to find what things may fit together. Maybe you’re great at cleaning and organizing. Have you thought of starting your own housecleaning business? You may clean homes or you may organize people you hire. Maybe you love children and organization. Can you organize a babysitting coop? Are you a whiz at the computer? Can you hire out your skills?

You may not build a business – but maybe you just want to freelance your work to others. Do you build beautiful websites? Can you do the books? Are you a great crafter? Do you make good matches? Does being a dating coach or life coach sound like something you could be good at?

By using talents you already have, you can learn new skills and build a business you love.

But, by learning and recognizing your talents, you can also enhance your performance at your current job, become a better parent, engage more with your friends or just pay greater attention to your own life and get greater enjoyment from what you already know how to do.

Awesome Ideas for Your Teen Entrepreneur

Not all kids want to go to work “for the man.” Bagging groceries, selling clothes, baking bread, serving food . . . these may not be the jobs your teen wants to use to fill their pocketbook with extra cash. Some teens would like to grow their own business and earn what they have worked to achieve, not just because they showed up for work.

Sometimes this may be difficult as you may count on some of their income to make ends meet at home. But, if their income isn’t essential for your budget, the teen years are a great time to learn the intricacies of growing and running their own business. This may spark their interest in starting their own business after high school or college, it may give them greater skills to work at their next job, or it may help grow their self-confidence.

Whatever the benefits – and there are a number of benefits to owning your own business – the question may be . . . what business?

Over 10 years ago my oldest son’s best friend started his own lawn business. It’s a common business for young men. However, Luke took his business to the next step, and learned quite a bit in the meantime.

In the beginning he mowed the neighbor’s yards and pushed his push mower to their home. The next year he bought a riding mower and could mow more homes and further away. With the money from that year he bought a ride behind mower and trailer for the family truck. His mother drove the truck while Luke picked up customers who lived close enough that she could go home for several hours while he worked.

His business grew so large that he was recognized in national magazines and has been quoted in articles and books giving advice to young adults who want to start their own business. He choose a landscaping business because he liked working outside and with his hands.

His parents supported his efforts and today he has graduated college and works as an engineer. The skills he learned about pricing, customer service, product development, marketing and communication he has brought to his new company, making him a valuable asset and prime candidate for advancement over the years.

What can your teen do?

Before making a decision about what business they may or may not start, it’s important your teen knows what they like and decide if they like it enough to do it (or supervise someone else doing it) for years. You may want to invest some time and energy into helping them take several online personality and interest tests to determine what may be the best fit for them.

Whatever they decide to do, you’ll be an integral part of the business and growth by giving them advice, support and showing interest in what they’re doing. Whether they show it or not, your teen really wants to know that you are interested in them, what they do, who they are and what they are becoming.

Teens aren’t always the best communicators, so it might seem they have no interest in your interest in them. But, if you take a few minutes to remember back to your own teen years, you’ll likely remember that it would have been (or was) the best feeling in the world when your parents took an interest in what you said or what you were doing.

Your children are the same.

Whatever they decide to do, they will need to learn how to market their product or service, complete the tasks on time, quote an accurate price, invoice their customers, expect payment for their service or product, keep books, and learn when it’s time to purchase more inventory and when it’s time to wait. If this isn’t your area of expertise then hook your teen up with a volunteer from the Small Business Association who has the expertise and interest in growing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

While you may want your child to have an entrepreneurial spirit – it isn’t what every child wants. In fact, while I have loved the freedom and ability that being an entrepreneur has given to me, none of my children (so far) have expressed an iota of interest. My oldest daughter’s husband would love to have his own business – and someday he likely will. My daughter will be right at his side working with him, but she wouldn’t be the one initiating it.

Remember, your child has his own ideas and interests and they will do best when they follow those and not our dreams. Some of these ideas require that your teen has had some training them self – such as working with animals. Depending upon your child’s age and his interest, this may be the direction they want to go.  As you and your teen look through these ideas, remember to look for the same topics on Pinterest. This social network has an amazing number of creative ways of accomplishing tasks that most people would pay for SOMEONE ELSE to do for them!

Here’s a short list of ideas for you and your teen to discuss. Do any of these interest them? Do they want to explore one or another further?

 

Teen entrepreneur ideas:

Lawn maintenance / landscaping / hanging outdoor Christmas lights
Outdoor pot making 
Downspout hinges
Doggie Daycare
Dog Walking
Dog Training
Homemade Dog Treats
Homemade Dog Toys/Cat Toys/Bird Toys
Freelance – Graphic Design, Writing, Proofreader
Computer Repair
Teaching Online Skills
Tutor Other Students (math, foreign language, science, English)
Music/Voice Lessons
Etsy – selling crafts online and handmade gifts
Craft Jewelry
Fixing Bikes, Lawnmowers etc.
Service Lawn Equipment
Party Planner
Virtual Assistant
App Development
Nanny
Garage Cleaning and Organization
Social Media Consulting
Candle Making

If your teen would like a little inspiration from young people this Fortune article should do the trick.

Even Kids Can Make Money

When my youngest son, Nick, was 10 years old he began complaining about money – and a lack thereof. His older brother was 15 and working for several neighbors, mowing lawns and doing yard work. At 10, Nick felt he could too.

On some of his jobs, the older brother took the younger, but not often and not often enough for Nick. So, Nick and I sat down one day and talked about how he could make money, and why he might want it.

According to CBN Finance, teaching your children how to make and spend money may make for responsible and financially healthier adults. And, this (my point) may mean your adult children don’t come home to roost for years.

Years ago children had summer jobs, every summer. They saved for college and for their own spending money. Today, the social norm has changed just a bit. More parents are sending their children on summer excursions to enjoy different experiences and provide them with the spending money they need.

Sometimes that’s still possible for single moms, and at other times it isn’t. But, whether it’s financially feasible for you to offer your children this freedom or not, the real question is . . .  should you?

Learning how to make money, save it and spend it is a function of being a financially responsible adult that may be learned at an early age. While it’s important to watch the number of hours your child spends building his own micro-business (so it doesn’t interfere with his school work), it is also important to help him through the process of building it and making it successful.

And you may get a few ideas of what you can do to make some extra money too!

If your child has a desire to attend college, it’s important to note that while many colleges value volunteer work, they also value work experience. Producing a well-rounded college application may be a challenge for a busy high school student. However, even adding a part-time job in the summer may help make your student more attractive to the college of their choice than the next applicant.

Research has also demonstrated that teens who take on a summer job, or part-time job during their school year, go on to careers that are better-suited to their interests as these part-time jobs show them what they like and what they don’t like. These jobs also help them hone their interpersonal and work skills that are transferable from job to job. They learn how to interact with their co-workers, bosses and customers. And they’re able to interact with adults who can provide letters of recommendation to the college of their choice.

Although research demonstrates teens who work up to 30 hours each week have better career prospects after college, it’s important for you to help them balance their work/school and social schedules.

But, what if your child is younger than 15 and not able to work at a structured job? Do younger children have options?

The short answer is YES!

Even at a young age, children who start their own business learn about public speaking, sales, customer service, inventory management, financial management and marketing. Each of these are skills they may use in other jobs and in college.

Children who start their own business also quickly learn the value of research and understanding everything about their product. When any sales person truly understands everything about their product, it increases their confidence and credibility – leading to more sales and better customer service.

Self-esteem anyone?

It started in the 1980s when psychologists began warning of the danger to children who failed – at sports, on school papers, in social situations, or on stage. And thus began an all out war against failure. Many children didn’t experience rejection until they reached high school – and then it came as a big surprise.

Suddenly, without prior experience, children were expected to intrinsically know how to handle being cut from the team – any team.

I am not advocating going in the opposite direction – as I’m afraid may have happened with the growth of social media – but, it is important to understand that we all must face, and learn how to deal with, rejection.

The way in which some children (and adults) have started using social media to bully and bash others in the relative safety of anonymity is not about rejection because your efforts weren’t enough to make the grade – but rather about making someone feel powerful by making someone else feel small.

This is what running your own business teaches you – how to handle rejection from clients, potential clients and customers. In a real world situation your child learns real world skills.

And that alone is worth the price of admission.

Starting a New Business in the New Year

It was this time last year when I had an idea for another stream of income in my home business. I hate the term ‘home business,’ but it’s what I do – I work out of my home doing a variety of different things.

Of course, my variety may have something to do with my undiagnosed ADD for which I self-medicate with dark chocolate and consistent change. I must be the only person I know who actually ENJOYS change.

I like changing jobs, learning new things, and having unexpected days. Of course, too much of anything can get overwhelming – but for me, my tolerance level is pretty low for consistent work.

Hence, new line of income and all the planning that comes with it.

Sometimes, the planning is even more fun for me than the execution, which is why my work friends call me the Idea Generator. I have a notebook of ideas, things to consider in the future and plans that I might incorporate into my business as time goes by.

That’s the first hole you can easily sink into as you plan a new business. Once the idea floodgate opens, it’s hard to stop it. You can get caught up in purchasing software you “might” need in a couple months if everything went according to plan. The problem is that it never does go according to plan.

Instead, months down the road you’re in a different place than you thought you’d be, based on changes you had to make because of your customers, market or marketing.

The idea you have must be tested. Are there other people doing something similar? If you have an idea for a book, a product or service . . . has it been done before? If it has, and it’s successful, then there is likely a place in the market for you as well – as long as you can fine tune your marketing and attract the right customers.

If there isn’t a similar product or service, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – but it does mean you’ll be the trailblazer – and trailblazers don’t always make the most money from the business idea. The trailblazer establishes the market and convinces the customers they need the product or service and the next people who come along utilize the work you did.

That’s the position I’m in now.

I’m going to be doing something I haven’t seen done before. But, because it’s a market with money and the product/service is one that makes sense for the customer, I’m willing to take that chance. The entry cost for the customer is minor and the ROI for me is more than adequate, so the projections look promising.

When you’re thinking about starting to offer a product or service, it’s important you also do some projections to determine how long and how much effort it will take before you’re in the black. This isn’t always easy if you’re going to be doing something you’ve not done before.

For instance, you’ll likely need to sell your product or service. If you’ve never done sales or aren’t comfortable learning, you may have to hire someone to do the work – which must be included in your projections.

If you aren’t sure how to determine if you could be profitable, fill in this simple table before moving further forward in your plans. While it is simple, it will help you determine if you could be profitable and where you might want to trim costs to get there.

Item Cost Income
Product development
Market Research
Marketing
Outsource (graphic design, virtual assistant, accountant, web development)
Time
Anticipated profits
TOTAL

In the Time column enter the amount of money you’ll be losing by working on this project and not something that’s already making money – unless you are working in your free time, then enter zero.

Under anticipated profits enter the amount of money you project making in the first three months and then multiply it by 0.66. It’s likely you’ll make ⅓ less than you anticipate.

Total the amount of money you anticipate spending and multiply it by 1.3 because unless you are spot on, you’ll likely spend ⅓ more than you think.

If the numbers are close it’s time to make more detailed projections to see how long you’ll need to be in business before you make a profit.  Be realistic about your idea and how much you want to invest before seeing your business in the black.

I’ve worked with business people who were so enamored of their idea that they couldn’t get it off the ground. It became a baby to them and it was too difficult to ‘put it out there’ to their customer base. Others were so in love with their idea they didn’t realize it wasn’t a good one, and they lost too much money before stopping.

Starting a new business, or a new arm to an old business . . .

. . . can be exciting and fun for you and the people you work with. It is a little like birthing a baby. It takes months for incubation and preparation and then a LOT of hard work in a short time to get it moving in a forward direction.

There are resources in your area to help you get off the ground – and one of the easiest to access is the Small Business Association. They have retired business men and women who enjoy helping new businesses and want to act as a mentor so you don’t make some of the simple mistakes many new business owners make.

Mistakes like. . . hiring people before you need them, buying software and hardware you don’t need immediately, poor planning, not considering investors and not understanding how to find good investors. . . these are the potholes mentors can help you avoid.

Your own business offers you the opportunity to make good money – your money, based on your efforts. When you go to the office, you’re paid whether you make money for the company that day or not. But, you don’t get 20% raises in one year and don’t have the potential for losing all your clients in one month.

 

Because working for yourself is often frightening, exciting and overwhelming, it’s important you do it part-time first until you have enough savings built up that you don’t panic when your clients disappear or your product or service isn’t as successful as you’d hoped.

Prepare for Success in 2017

 

It’s January and this year I’m ahead of the game. I finished my business books and am just waiting on my 1099 forms and other tax statements that are supposed to be in the mail by the end of January to be able to file my taxes.

I’ve not been this prepared in many years. Usually I’m scrambling to complete my business books by the end of February when the tax documents are all in hand. While it is something different for me – it is also one of my resolutions this year – to become better prepared to achieve success, rather than hoping in the first quarter, planning in the second, implementing in the third and wondering what in the world happened in the fourth quarter of every year.

Whether I wanted to improve my running times (when I was running), increase my bottom line or improve my parenting skills – it all happens more effectively and efficiently when I prepare for success and not just make a few plans.

Don’t get me wrong – planning is great. You need a plan to get from point A to B and through to point D. But planning only takes you so far. I find I need something that comes before the planning stage.

It comes before setting goals, making plans and setting that plan in motion. In the years I’ve achieved the greatest success, I’ve done one more step first. I have prepared myself to achieve the success I want.

And, that in and of itself, requires a bit of time and planning.

Success doesn’t just happen. It won’t matter the focus of your goals, strength of your plan or power of your actions – without preparation, these strategies may fall flat.

Sure, you’ll achieve some success – but nothing compared to what you will if you prepare yourself – mind, body and spirit – for accepting, achieving and enjoying success.

This isn’t some new age mantra, because if you’ve read anything from me, you know I believe that Jesus came, died for my sins and rose from the dead to walk this earth and rose to sit at the right hand of the Father. New age doesn’t come close to anything as powerful, as uplifting or as freeing.

God wants you to achieve success – however you and He define it together – but He also wants you to prepare for the experience and get ready for the challenges and obstacles that are sure to come your way.

So, while you’re dreaming about what you want to get accomplished this year, spend some time preparing your mind, body and spirit to achieve those goals. These are the strategies that I’ve used in past years that have helped me. I’ve never done them all in one year – but this time I am!

I am committed to achieving the lofty goals I’ve set for myself this year, and believe from past experience that I CAN. I’ve found it’s important to remember that achieving goals is a journey – some will happen in six months, some by the end of the year, and some may take several years.

What is important is that you stay the journey, keep your eye on the prize and never give up.  You may fall, you may have to re-strategize how you’ll achieve the goal. You might have to change the plan – or even adjust the goal – but you should never, never, ever give up.

  1. Understand what growth or success will mean to you personally or financially.

When times get challenging and you’re not accomplishing the goals you hoped you would, you’ll need to rely on the why of your plan. This is the reason you created goals, developed a plan and took action. When you understand and internalize what that growth or success will mean to you once you’ve achieved it – you’re more likely to jump the obstacles and face the challenges.

  1. Get comfortable with the idea of success.

Sometimes you haven’t achieved your goals for so long that not achieving is your normal. Success then places you outside your comfort zone. Now you’re at risk of sabotaging your efforts. For example, if you’re goal is losing weight and you drop 15 pounds in the first four months of year – you might begin to feel uncomfortable with your new body, the way others comment on your weight loss or the way people look at you. In an effort to get back to “normal” you may be tempted to gain a few of those pounds back – or dress in a tent.

  1. Take care of yourself.

Success, and the effort it takes to achieve it, requires time and energy. You might be tempted to grab a snack from a vending machine, forget your morning workout, or sit through lunch to work on a new project – DO NOT! Success is a task that takes a bit from you physically, so it’s important to get those seven to eight hours of sleep, your workout each day, eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. Amazingly, when you are healthy and well rested you’re also more creative, more productive and more capable of facing everyday challenges.

  1. Prepare mentally for the days ahead.

Know you’ll face challenges, expectations, disappointments and discouragement. When you know it’s coming, you’re better prepared to wait out the “feeling” and rely on reality. Know WHY you’re working this plan, imagine how you’ll feel when you’ve reached your goal, and determine to keep pressing forward. If you know Jesus, determine to develop a deeper relationship with Him as He can lead you through the muck and mire when His goal is your goal.

 

 

  1. Know the tech part.

You might not be a techie, but knowing and understanding the technical aspects of your aspiration is one of the ways you prepare yourself for success. You may not want to become an expert, but know enough to know who the experts are and if you’re getting scammed by someone you’ve hired.

  1. Act like your successful self.

This does not mean that you “fake it till you make it,” as the MLM mantra advises. Rather it means that you act like the successful person you want to become. In fact, you become the success you want to achieve – but don’t live the lifestyle. For instance, if you want to write a book, write each page as if 50,000 people will be reading it the first week it hits the shelves. Acting as if you’ve achieved your goals will help prepare you mentally when you get there, and improve your output along the way.

  1. Have a stake in the game.

You may dream about your goal. You may wish, pray and hope that it comes to pass. You might talk about it with friends or family. You might write it down, make a plan, and figure out what you have to do first second and third – but, unless you have skin in the game, you may not have the push you need to keep moving forward. Some people need more than a great reason why – they also need a reason WHY NOT. For instance, if you don’t apply for the new job you want your children will learn it’s easier to not try than to fail and try again. Or, if you never try to start your own business your friends and family will think you’re just a dreamer and not a doer.

 

In other words, have a stake in what you want that is outside of who you are. Sometimes that’s what you need to push you forward when it all feels a little overwhelming.

Make Yourself Promotable at Work and at Home – Part II

Last week I shared the nine things people do that turn off your boss and your kids, from the boss’ perspective. If you’re looking for a promotion then you don’t do those things. I’ve done a lot of them, and learned the hard way how they make a difference in the workplace and at home.

I didn’t play politics when I was first out of college and paid a dear price. By not recognizing what the unit leader needed to feel special I was fired. One ‘friend’ later told me that the unit leader had taken everyone aside in a meeting and told them to find any reason to fire me – including fabricating evidence.

Difficult way to learn a lesson.

It wasn’t her first time to do something like that – and I probably wasn’t the last. It took a couple of years before any boss asking for a meeting didn’t leave me quaking in my shoes.

We all experience challenges and loss. The hope is that we can learn from those mistakes and move forward.

So, what do you DO to make you more promotable at work and at home with the hardest critics you’ll face – your children?

Some of these tips are just the opposite of what you shouldn’t do, and others are strategies you can actively use each day.

ONE: Look at Yourself – Honestlydec8binoculars

Take an honest look at your communication skills, productivity at work, work performance, relationships and ethics. Before you can make the necessary changes to be promotable, you have to know where you’re starting from.

TWO: Be Honest with Others

Be honest but be gracious. Don’t be rude, but don’t hold back. If you know something, say it – but say it so you aren’t offending your boss, your friends or your kids.

THREE: Bad News First, Then the Solution

Tell someone what’s wrong first – but also tell them the solution. If it’s your boss they will be grateful you identified the problem but also had the solution. Your children need you to give them the solution in way they understand developmentally and in a way they can use.

FOUR: Leave the Drama on the Stage

NO ONE likes drama. You don’t like anyone treating you to their soap opera and they don’t like it in you. Before speaking, take several deep breaths or walk away to collect your thoughts. When you’re angry or full of frustration, it makes conversation difficult and hard for the other person to stay calm as well.

FIVE: Smile!

Your boss is harboring the idea you enjoy your work, and your children like to believe they are loved and cherished. You may not feel it at the time, but it’s important that the people around you believe it.

SIX: Make Notes

When you think of something that should be done, that you want to do, that you want to change or that someone else has done that got them noticed – make notes and determine to integrate it into your performance. Did you see a mom handle a difficult situation well? Take notes. Did someone at work get noticed by the boss? Take notes. It will pay off.

SEVEN: Parties Count

You may not enjoy the office parties, but they are politically important to your future. Don’t make out with anyone, don’t get drunk and don’t do business at the party. It’s time to relax with your co-workers and act like you enjoy everyone’s company.

EIGHT: There is no “I” in TEAM

It’s time to be a team player and hold up your end of the work. You are the leader at home, but you’re still part of the team. If you expect the children to respect you, begin by showing them respect.

NINE: Know Your Job

Whatever you’re expected to do – be sure you know the job, the expectations and the expected results. If you don’t know them, then find out!  If needed, find a mentor who can help answer questions and give you advice you trust.

dec8finishlineTEN: Go Beyond the Expected

Your boss expects your job to be done right, the first time and every time. Can you learn a new skill, make new connections or develop a new solution to a work related problem? Going beyond the expected will get you noticed. Don’t expect you’ll be rewarded immediately, but your efforts will be noticed.

ELEVEN: Be Professional at all Times

Your boss expects you’ll be professional anytime you’re representing the company. If you’re wearing a company shirt in public but you aren’t on the clock, you must act professionally. Believe me, if you aren’t the information will eventually make it’s way back to your boss.

TWELVE: Steer Clear of Gossip

Gossip is conversation of anyone else, aside from yourself, during which you’re discussing behavior, decisions or something about a person who isn’t in the conversation. This covers a huge number of situations. At some point, we’ve all participated in gossip. However, it’s not appropriate at work, not in relationships you expect to keep, and not if you want God or your children to be proud of you.  Gossip is debilitating, demoralizing and demeaning. You don’t like it when others gossip about you – and they feel the same way.

THIRTEEN: Create Your Promotion

A position may not be available, but you may have an idea for a new position in the company. If it improves the functionality and productivity of the company, if it’s in the best interest of the business and if you are the best person for the job, then by all means suggest away!

 

The Truth About Money

Money is essential to living but not to happiness. This is the statement of people who have money – not those who are scraping enough pennies together to feed them self or their children.

Underneath it all, the statement is true. Money can’t buy happiness. But there is a flip side to that coin – you need money to put food in your belly. Most people find it very stressful when they aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.

There are many truths about money and your finances.  There are the functional rules that help you pay your taxes, pay your bills and save money for your vacations and your future.

August18MoneyThen there are the truths about how much you spend your money and where you spend it.  If you look at your credit card bill or your checking account you’ll see exactly where your heart lies. Whatever you spend the most amount of your money on – minus rent/mortgage, food and utilities – is what owns your heart.

There are the truths about your goals to make more, spend more or save more money. Some people are savers for a rainy day and others want to live life to the fullest today and believe tomorrow will take care of itself.

I think there is one truth about money that makes the most difference to you and your family. This is the truth that helps you make and keep your money, stabilize your family’s financial future and enjoy the money you make.

What is that truth?

The truth is that we all have a blueprint through which we live our lives. T. Harv Ekker calls it your money blueprint. It’s a belief about money that runs so deeply through your life that you aren’t even aware that it exists.

You have a blueprint that defines how you feel about saving money, spending money and investing money. When you’re out shopping and you find a great dress 30 percent off on the rack, looks great on you but you don’t need it right now. . . what do you do?

Do you pick it up and justify the purchase by saying you’ll need it soon and you’re saving money in the purchase?

Do you buy it without thinking about what’s in your checking account or how much is on your credit cards?

Do you buy it even though you know you’re overdrawn and may not be able to pay the electric bill this month?

Do you put it down, take a picture and determine to save the money to buy it when you can afford it?

Each of those statements say something about the money blueprint you have. They say something about who you are, how you spend and save money – all of which you must know in order to make a difference in your financial future.

If your first response is to buy the dress without considering how much debt you’re already carrying, this is a August18Questionblueprint you have to change in order to experience a difference in your finances.

But, changing that blueprint is a real challenge. This is something so ingrained in your psyche that you aren’t even aware of it most of the time. It was built by the beliefs and stories your mom and dad told you as you were growing up.

I remember as a child one of my dad’s expressions was “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” It was a fairly common expression from a man who grew up during the Great Depression. It was an expression that dictated the clothes we bought, the cars we used and the way we vacationed.

I had a smart mouth and often retorted that yes, money essentially did grow on trees because paper was made from tree pulp.  Would you want me as your daughter?

I never felt as though we didn’t have money, but looking back I realized from the perspective of an adult, that my parents struggled. My mom pinched pennies all year long so we could drive somewhere on vacation each summer.

My dad worked long hard hours to put food on the table, pay the mortgage and make sure his family was clothed. We had two cars that ran. But, many of our vacations were spent staying with family, our clothes came from K-Mart and we didn’t eat out too often.

It was a good childhood. My parents loved me. My sister loved me and I was happy. It didn’t take money to make me happy, but the things my parents said developed a blueprint in my head that’s taken years to overcome.

For a long time I spent nothing. I saved every penny that I made that didn’t get spent on rent, food and utilities. Every once in a while I would treat myself to something new, but I never went on vacation before I was married.

My ex-husband had a completely different blueprint. Although he grew up in similar circumstances, he liked to spend.  There were several fights about that. Unfortunately, many times he won and when we divorced we split a mountain of debt.

Another way my blueprint affected my life was in my business. For years I couldn’t make enough to make ends meet and that debt continued to grow.

However, once I identified my issues with making money (also tied to my inability to value my skills and knowledge for what they are worth), my business began growing.

Before your finances will change, you have to identify your own money blueprint, write yourself a new one and stick to it. Falling back into old habits is easy to do and not productive. On the other hand, developing new habits can be challenging but very rewarding.

If you aren’t sure where to start, begin by writing down all the expressions you heard growing up that had something to do with money, how your parents spent and saved money, your own history of spending and saving and most importantly, your current financial situation.

You may not see your own habits clearly, but you should be able to see your bank balance and credit card balances clearly. Ask your family how they see you and about their own habits. See how things match up with what you think about yourself.

Whether you are struggling to make ends meet or have enough to support yourself and the family next door, you can always improve your blueprint so you enjoy more out of your life and stress less.

 

Six Mistakes You Must Avoid Starting Your Own Business

My first business opened when I was a mere 10 years old. Making money wasn’t only fun; I did it because I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when someone paid me for something I had created.

That first foray into having a business was a disaster. Not because what I was doing didn’t provide a service, but because my mother didn’t believe I should be selling anything to our neighbors. There was no internet and I couldn’t drive, so my neighbors were my only clients.

I learned a valuable lesson – I must have permission from my mother before I could sell ANYTHING until I was out of the house.

I had to go back to everyone who had purchased from me and return their money, and insist they keep the product. It was a bit degrading, and essentially squashed my desire to have my own business until I was out of college.

Although I continued to write through the years, I didn’t make an effort to sell it or develop a plan. It wasn’t until I was finished with my first degree that I decided it was time to branch out again. I did my research, made a plan, put in the foundation and published a review journal for rehabilitation professionals.

However, while I enjoyed the work, and grew a client base, I didn’t accommodate for technological changes. When the information I provided was easily searchable online, my client base dried up and so did my extra income.

While the loss of income was aggravating, it was the loss of accomplishment I missed the most. The next time it was an embezzling business partner who stole $13,000 of my hard earned money that was a devastating loss.

The third time was a charm and I’ve been rolling along ever since. These are the six mistakes I learned about starting your own business and how you can avoid them.

  1. Do Your Researchaugust12BigData

It seems like a reasonable assumption that research is important, but you might be surprised how many times people start a business because they fall in love with an idea and don’t think it all the way through.

Research is important to the success of your business. But, even more important, is your ability to read the research, interpret the results and listen to advice from people who have been there before you.

You may love the idea of what you want to do, but unless there are people willing to buy from you, it won’t matter how much effort and quality you put into your product, you won’t be successful.

  1. Make a Plan

You might be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of gal, that just doesn’t work. It’s time to make a short-term and long-term plan for your business. Where do you see yourself in 1 year and how do you intend to get there? In five years? In ten years?

Your plan must include the research that needs to be done to identify the viability of your service or product, who you’ll sell to, how you’ll market your product or service, how you’ll grow the business, your merchant accounts, invoicing, paperwork, accounting practice, taxes, production, and more. However, don’t forget to be flexible along the way. If a new opportunity for marketing or something else appears to derail the “Plan,” alter the plan – as long as the new plan is successful!  There is always room for testing.

  1. Consistency

Anything in life grows because you address it consistently and persistently. God says that what you keep your eyes on will grow. When you spend time with God, your family, your friends – those relationships grow. When you spend time in your business with your eyes on the prize, you’ll get there.

It may not happen the way you think, in your time, or how you want it. But when you stay focused on your business it will mature in some form or another.

Don’t give up. If it’s what you want, don’t give up.

  1. Build a Team

August12TeamEvery good business is built on a strong team. You probably won’t have the funds to hire a team quickly, and realistically – you shouldn’t.  The early months and years are time for you to learn how to handle each aspect of your business until there are the funds to bring on an employee.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t hire a virtual assistant as you need one and pay for just the hours you use them. You can talk with the local business schools looking for someone who needs an internship (paid or unpaid) to finish their degree. There are grants you can apply for to help you pay for an intern.

Depending upon what you’re doing, there is a solution. You have to look for it.

  1. You Don’t Need Perfection

PLEASE don’t wait to be perfect! You’ll make less money if you wait until your plan and business is perfect before you open your virtual doors. You’ll learn more about how to change to accommodate your customers by being flexible, opening early and listening to both your customer and your spreadsheets.

Don’t be rigid with your idea. Don’t fall in love with the plan. Instead, listen to what others (including your customers) are saying and learn to change what you’re doing. I also work with a health and wellness company. Before they launched the focus changed two or three times, and once again after launch in response to customer need. It has turned out for the best, for both the company and the customers.

  1. Marketing and Money

Money and marketing are the most painful mistakes you can make. Money hits you right where it hurts and your marketing involves your money. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t skimp on an attorney. Be sure you’re operating within the letter and spirit of the law or you could end up paying fines until you’re old and grey.
  • Never risk your retirement funds, or anyone else’s retirement funds. If your idea is that great, find an angel investor or get a bank loan. You need the money when you retire to eat and put a roof over your head.
  • Don’t skimp on your marketing. Marketing is what drive sales. Sales make money. You can keep to a marketing budget, but use the money wisely and HAVE a marketing budget. That budget can be all your company’s income – but you have to spend some money on marketing.
  • Use a budget for all your business needs and not just the marketing. You must know how much you can spend on virtual assistants, product creation, development, overhead, taxes, Internet costs, merchant accounts and more.
  • Keep your books up-to-date, every month. It might seem like a no-brainer, but you can easily get caught up in your day-to-day events of marketing and selling. Before you know it December rolls around and you’re spending hours, if not days, recreating your business accounts for Uncle Sam. Keeping your books up-to-date is also important when you have investors or a loan from the bank. Even the occasional offer for your business will want to see your books.
  • The tax man cometh. The tax man always cometh! Keeping your books up-to-date helps to keep track of how much money you owe in taxes every quarter. Pay your quarterly taxes, even if they’re only $100 so you won’t be hit with fees at the end of the year.

 

Having your own business is fun, exciting and I have LOVED it for over 10 years now. There are accomplishments, challenges and obstacles to overcome. But the rewards are amazing. Not just money in the bank, but the lessons you learn and the ones you teach your children.

 

Your Inspired Action Reaps Successful Results

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a salesman. This salesman was interested in making currency he spends on his planet. In order to get currency, he had to sell objects. In order to sell objects, he had to convince others in his community they needed his objects.

In order to convince them, he had to take action. Here’s what he did to get results.

Aspiration

The first thing you need to do is find what you aspire to achieve. The basic question is . . . what do YOU want? In the past years one of my favorite expressions has been, “God intended me to live near the ocean, and here I sit landlocked in OH!”

Over the years I’ve put my needs, desires and wants below everyone else’s. Like most women and mothers, I first considered what my ex-husband wanted, what my children would love to do or what my own parents wanted.

I’ve made progress. In the past several months I’ve discovered that I can have one or two things I’d like to have, while still meeting the needs of my family. This has prompted me to set a goal of moving to Florida in the next year. That’s my aspiration in my personal life. It’s what I want and can achieve without upsetting the apple cart . . . too much.

It is important that you find the thing you want to accomplish. Before you can take action, move forward or achieve a goal, you have to know where you’re going and what you’re aiming at.

Ready, Fire, Aim is a best-selling book by Michael Masterson that essentially warns you against striving for perfection before taking action. However, before movement you must at least have a direction. Even the act of searching for what you desire is movement in the right direction.

 

Commitment

June30HopeOnce you know where you’re going, it’s time to make a commitment to achieve your goal. Commitment takes work. No matter how you slice it, success requires work.

You may love what you’re doing so much that you don’t consider it work. But expending energy on anything is the very definition of work.

Although you may be tempted to purchase the Staples Easy button for your desk, pressing it over and over again will achieve nothing. In order to get where you want to go, you must expend energy in the right direction.

Which brings us to the next step . . .

 

Target

You need a target on which to focus your commitment and energy.  Your target is not your aspiration. These are two different things.

The salesman aspired to sell more objects. From this he developed several targets. He needed to learn better sales skills, define his target audience and develop a strong marketing plan. Each of these are his targets.

Once you define the targets needed to achieve your goal, it’s time to stay FOCUSED.

Focus on the target is one of the common places people fail. It might be that you succumb to Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). This happens when another target appears and your focus your energy on that. Soon another one pops up, and you’ve left 2 or 3 other targets to chase after something you may perceive as “easy.”

This happens a LOT in marketing. You think you’ll use social media and start a new marketing plan. A week later a new video software shows up on the market and you decide you can incorporate video marketing with social media marketing.

It’s when something new shows up on your radar and you convince yourself you can somehow make it work with what you’re already doing . . . or worse, you go off in a whole new direction.

These things happen in business, with your siblings, with your boss, parents and spouse.

Basically, it’s time you focus your attention on the targets that move you forward toward . . .

 

Improvement

While focusing on and moving toward your target is important, it is important you evaluate the results you’re getting June30Chocolateand change course if needed.

Improving your products, services, marketing plans, personal development, nutritional plan, marriage counselor, or anything else that might be your target is your first order of business once you start getting results from your actions.

In other words, once you’ve identified your target and begun moving toward it, if you aren’t getting the results you thought were reasonable, then it’s time to change the WAY you’re taking action.

Not all action is created equally. If you are distracted by the next shiny object, then the action you’re taking is definitely NOT inspired action.

Determine strategies you can use to stay focused on your target while taking time at defined intervals to evaluate the results you’re getting.

 

Offer

Ask most psychologists and wealthy individuals – the piece of the puzzle that garners you the best results is making an offer to others they can’t refuse.

And in many cases, that offer means serving them in way that HELPS them first.

People respond best when you do something for them first. In other words, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. And, once you catch the fly, you can convince him of almost anything.

Even when that fly is YOU.

Remember, when you’re taking action toward becoming a better you, it’s easier to do and achieve the results you want, when you use honey to push yourself forward and not vinegar.

For instance, when you want to lose weight you’ll be more successful by framing your goal as a desire to become healthier, look great at the beach, be able to keep up with your children or another positive goal, than you will if you set a number in your head.  You won’t be motivated by a number on a scale, but you will be by a goal to keep up with your children more easily.

 

Normal

Persistence must then become your normal behavior. You achieve your goals through action, but the action must be consistent and persistent toward your goals. This then becomes your normal behavior.

In order for your goals and dreams to become reality, your behavior must change.  If your behavior and action don’t change then you can’t expect to experience different results from the past. You do the same things, you get the same results.

 

ACTION Always Predicts Results

Every action produces an equal reaction. There is a consequence for everything you say and do. Whether talking to your children, eating an extra cupcake, or not taking golf lessons before the company golf outing. Everything you do or say will have a consequence.

The trick is to act in a way that produces the consequences or results you’re looking for. In order to do that you’ll be following a plan much like the one outlined above. You might use different words to achieve successful results, but the ideas will be the same.

Before setting out on your next personal quest, spend some time doing your homework and preparing for success. Find your aspired results, make a commitment, aim at your target, plan for improvement, make an offer that thinks of the other person first and make consistency your norm.

 

Turn Your Hobby Into Your Business

Are you dreaming of being able to work from home but unsure of what you can do?

There are several avenues you may take to develop an income and stay home with your children.

And there is one important rule: NEVER quit your job before you’re making enough money to stay at home.

That might seem like common sense NOW, but soon you’ll be excited about an idea and sure that you’ll be able to sell your product or services. You will be tempted to stay home and pour heart and soul into the business.

But you’d be wrong.

It works in Hallmark movies, but not in real life. Before long you’ll have more credit card debt than you’ll be able to pay off in 10 years and you won’t understand how it happened.

You’re next statement will be, “Well, it must work for other people, but it doesn’t work for me.”

And you would be wrong again.

It will work for you, but you have to follow the path that has been laid out before you by others who have been successful.

Here are several of the Dos and Don’ts that will make your journey less of a challenge. Mark what was said though – LESS of a challenge, not that it won’t BE a challenge – because it will.

  1. June16Lightbulb Ask yourself several questions . . .

Do you like your hobby enough to do it every day?

Do you use this hobby for relaxation? If so, you might want to choose another path.

Do you have a hobby you think others would pay to learn or purchase the fruits of your labor?

  1. Consider what you do and whether others would pay for what you enjoy. Ask your friends how much others might pay. BUT, don’t get discouraged if your friends or family don’t see the potential that you do.  Here are three entrepreneurs who started their own companies in markets you wouldn’t think would be lucrative.
  1. Has anyone else done this before you? Being the first in your market means you’ll be doing all the work for the people who come after you. AND, it may mean that there aren’t people selling the product or service you want to sell because there is no money to be made in that market.
  1. Would this full time business support your lifestyle? Some businesses are wonderful to bring in additional income and others will support you and your family.
  1. Can you expand the business and leverage what you do? In other words, can you get others to create the products while you’re marketing your business?
  1. Are you willing to be the face of your company and sell your products or services? If you can answer yes to the other questions but no to this one, then you may not be suited to working at home. Because, no matter how you slice it, you WILL have to sell yourself or your product/service.

Are you ready to take the first step?

  1. Do an assessment. Consider several aspects to your business idea. Do you have the stamina and endurance to work during the day, take care of your children and THEN pick up your business at night? What once was relaxation and TV time has suddenly become business hour.

If you stay focused and determine to work the business without immediate income, you could work 2 hJune16BusinessPlanours each night and 4 on Saturday to get your business rolling. However, that might mean spending your income on advertising or on product creation.

Is your product or service a viable idea? Are there people willing to pay NOW? Do many searches online for businesses doing exactly what you want to do – you’ll get your answer.

  1. Start your business on the side first. To get started, write out a plan. This isn’t a “business plan” you would approach a bank with, but rather a plan of action you use to move your business forward. It should have some of the same information you would provide a bank – because it’s good information to have and will focus your marketing.

Who is buying similar products or services? Identify these people – they are your target market. You aren’t selling to “everyone” even if you think everyone could use your product. Instead focus on one group – young mothers, single fathers, men over 50, mothers with children younger than 10.

What area of the country will you address first? Is this across the U.S.? Will you eventually expand outside the country?

How much will you sell your product for? How much does it cost to produce? Will you make enough money between cost and price of the product?

Write out your marketing plan – will you use social media, paid advertising, forums, magnets on your car, through your church? There are many ways of getting the word out and you must outline what you’ll use BEFORE you get started.

Where will you source the products from?

  1. Build a network. You have a current network of friends and relatives. This is a network of business relationships you’ll use as you move forward. If you are going to sell on Etsy or eBay, join the forums for sellers. Get to know the people, the culture and the rules. This will help you tremendously as you move forward.
  1. Have a USP. This is a Unique Selling Proposition. What makes your product different from everyone else’s? Are your products cheaper? More expensive? High quality? Do you have a fast turn-around time? Can you create something original for your customers?

Whatever your USP – be sure you’ve identified it, understand it and can express in writing and in person.

 

 

How to Successfully Sell Your Stuff Online

Whether you have a few things at home you’d like to get the best price for or you want to start selling products online for extra income, there are specific things you should do and things you should NOT do.

My sister is the expert at selling her stuff from home. She acquired furniture from our family home after our parents passed away. Some of it fit well with her style, others she kept because there were so many memories, but some of it was just too much and it had to go.

Over the past several years she’s sold many things, from furniture to ceramic figures, books to appliances. Between the two of us, we’ve discovered quite a bit about being sure our “stuff” sold and that we got the best fair price we could.

The first step is to figure out what it is you want to sell. Are you purging your home? Downsizing? Want to make room for something new?

Whatever your reason there are probably a few things in your home you could sell.  There are different steps you’ll want to take if you want to begin selling products consistently, but we’ll cover that another time.

What’s First?

  1. Set aside between one and four things you want to sell. If this isn’t your first time you might want to set aside a few more. Don’t get overwhelmed if you have what feels like hundreds of things. Start with one to four and keep moving forward.

Consider all things fair game. If you bought it, then the likelihood is that someone would too. Children’s toys, clothing, furniture, electronics, books, video games, collectibles, appliances (large and small), crafts, information and art. I needed a new oven for a small space in my last home. New it would have been $2500.00 because of the unique size but I got one used for only two years off of Craigslist for $500.00. He got rid of an oven he thought he’d have to scrap (who had an oven that small anymore?) and I got a gem and a steal!

  1. April7SellingSpend time researching what you’re selling . . . how much it’s selling for on several sites, and what the real value is (if there is one), what descriptions and what pictures appear to be getting the best prices. From this research, determine the price you will start with and what’s the lowest price you’ll accept.
  1. Take a GREAT picture of what you’re selling. Be sure that the lighting is right, the picture is clear and showcases the item in the best light. You don’t need a great camera – the one on your phone will do just fine. Do NOT make any artistic changes to the image or take it at an ‘artsy’ angle.
  1. Be sure the photo shows any damage or problems with the item. Your goal is to BOTH sell the item and get a great review on the sale. This encourages more buyers on your next items.
  1. Write a description that includes:
    What the item is
    How the new user might use it – great for a gift? Nice on the mantel? Speakers work well on the patio?
    Any imperfections or problems with the item
  1. Choose the sites you want to use. Be sure that if you are posting on multiple sites it isn’t against the terms of service. There’s a list of sites below.
  1. Write the total ad including the description of the item. The ad and the picture are the two most important items to getting your item sold quickly and the best price possible. The best way to write the best ad is to read the ones for similar to same items that have sold for the best price. This is easily done on ebay but more difficult on other sites.
  1. If you can add something to the item to sweeten the deal or increase the perception that the individual is getting a better deal, you’ll find your item sells more quickly. If you’re selling a camera, maybe you have an extra case. If you’re selling a couch, you could include the pillows.
  1. On some sites you’ll set your price and on others, like eBay, you’ll list a starting price for an auction. However you list, leave room for negotiating. You’ll likely not get your top price, but when there’s room to negotiate, you’ll probably get a good price.
  1. Your ad may sit for a month or two, so don’t get discouraged. You’re waiting for the right person to see the right ad (yours!). Have patience.

Next Question is Where do You Sell?

You’ll choose sites to sell your stuff based on what you’re selling. Here are some of the top sites and what you can sell.

ExchangeMyPhone (http://www.exchangemyphone.com/): You can recycle your old phone and possibly get some money back in the process. Even if you think NO ONE would want your phone, try this site.

Swappa (https://swappa.com/): Great place to sell a used phone that is in good working order.

Gazelle (https://www.gazelle.com/): Another site to buy and sell used phones.

eBay (http://www.ebay.com/): The mother of all auction sites, you can sell just about anything on eBay, including large items for local pick up. Set up an account and use the advanced search function to see sold items for great descriptions (choose the items that sold well) and what pictures worked best.

Craigslist (https://craigslist.org/): This is a local site available across the world. You can sell just about anything and everything, but it’s all by pickup. Please read the precaution area below.

Facebook (http://facebook.com): More than just a social site, you can find pages for local “garage sales” where you can list your items. If there are more than one page in your area, you often have the ability to cross post.

Locanto (http://www.locanto.com/): Classified ad site, much like Craigslist.

Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/): Sell craft items or anything you’ve designed.

Amazon (http://amazon.com): You know Amazon for books or other household items that are sold in bulk. But, did you know you can list single items on Amazon? They must be in excellent or new condition. List them on the site and ship them from home.

Poshmark (https://poshmark.com/): Do you have brand name clothes you’d like to sell? This is the site to buy or sell from.

EcoATM (https://www.ecoatm.com/): This isn’t really a “site” but rather a group of kiosks around the world. You place your tablet, phone or MP3 player in the kiosk. Your device is evaluated and the computer determines if they can sell it. They quote you a price. If you like it then you get cash on the spot.

 

And Last, But DEFINITELY Not Least . . . ProtectionApril7Safety

Selling your ‘stuff’ online can be one of the safest ways to get rid of your products, IF you’re mailing them. However, much of what you want to get rid of might be too big to mail and you’ll have to meet your buyers.

In all cases you have to take precautions to stay safe.  Here are a few tips you should always follow . . .

  1. Never meet people at your home. Instead, arrange to meet in a public place.
  1. Of course, if you’re selling a couch it might not be possible to cart it to a meeting place! Instead, you’ll want to have someone else at your home when a stranger comes to pick up the furniture or appliance. You may feel funny or mistrusting, but it is the best thing to do to protect yourself and your children. There are too many people who prey on women selling from their home. You don’t want to expose your children to that danger and you don’t want to become a statistic!
  1. Don’t use your personal email or phone number when you’re communicating with buyers. Instead, set up a Google account without identifying information. You can forward a Google Voice number to your cell phone and the person you’re communicating with will never have your personal deets.
  1. Let someone know that you’re meeting to sell your stuff. Be sure they know when, where, with whom and when you’ll be done.
  1. ALWAYS meet during the day and at a public place.
  1. Get paid in cash or a money order.

 

Although you must take precautions, selling your stuff can be fun and provide you with a little extra money you didn’t anticipate. I recently found a home study course on my shelves that was unopened. I’d totally forgotten it was there. When I looked on eBay I found I can probably get $40.00.  Nice little bit of cash for a short amount of ‘work.’

 

How to Avoid the 9 Mistakes Small Business Commonly Make

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to recognize the problems others are having and completely overlook the same thing in yourself?

When I opened my first business I made all the most common mistakes, and then some!  My sister could see what I was doing wrong, and was vocal about it.

I didn’t listen.

Every business article I read seemed to be saying the same thing – exactly opposite of what I was doing.

I didn’t listen.

After several months of pouring hours and hours into a business that didn’t make a single, red cent . . . I started to think that maybe I was doing something wrong. Of course, everywhere I turned I learned I was doing something wrong, but I wasn’t listening!

Unfortunately, the same thing happens to many small businesses. And, while I made many more than five, there are five more common mistakes that businesses make. Whether you are contemplating a home-based business or you are opening a new brick-and-mortar business, you’ll want to pay attention.

  1. Your business is driven by a plan and not something you’ve fallen in love with. My first love was medicine and my second was writing. I spent years working with adults and children who needed physical rehabilitation. At some point I fell in love with the idea of publishing a review journal in the area of head injury and spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

I spent several months contacting over 30 journals who published research content, asking permission to publish the abstracts of each article. Most of the journals that gave me permission also gave me a complimentary copy of the journal.

Next, I set about getting customers. Hospital libraries that served the needs of large rehabilitation departments were my easiest customer to get. Soon, I was copying those abstracts, publishing and binding the review journal and mailing them monthly to my customers.

I loved the idea and it seemed to be growing. That is, until Medscape and Medline came online and did the same thing on the internet – for free. I didn’t have a plan and I wasn’t flexible.  Within the months the business failed.

  1. April4PhoneListen to your customers, but trust your spreadsheets. Mistakes are made when you do either or. Customers and spreadsheets are not an either or approach. Your customers often know what they want and your spreadsheets tell the story if they are buying what they say will.

If you listen to just your customers you may end up losing the farm. If you just watch the spreadsheets, your customers will know their needs aren’t being heard or met. There is a middle ground and it’s your responsibility to find it.

In the same vein, don’t expand your business and employees too quickly. Your spreadsheets will tell you when you’re capable to taking on that overhead expense. Until that time you can plug the holes with a virtual assistant to a couple of freelancers.

  1. NEVER risk your retirement. It took you or your relatives a LONG time to build up their retirement savings. Leave them there. If you need extra capital look to the bank, angel investors or crowd funding. Leave your retirement and the savings of your friends and family exactly where it is.
  1. ALWAYS allow more time than you think you’ll need to get your business running. The first membership program I started started 4 months before it opened and I was up until 3 am the day before to finish the last little bit. No matter how far out you plan something always pops up. Mistakes are made, your products don’t arrive on time, your freelance writer doesn’t complete their projects, the website doesn’t get done. . . something WILL happen. Always best to be flexible and plan for longer than you think you’ll need.
  1. Your personal experience doesn’t translate to business experience, unless it is real business experience. If you are a fitness trainer, it doesn’t mean you know the intricacies of developing a membership based business. You can train the individual, and may have an incredible program to get that done, but that doesn’t translate to running a successful business.

This is the time to get advice and then send it through a filter. You can’t take the advice of everyone you meet, but you must take advice. It’s a fine line you walk between believing everything and believing nothing.

  1. You are the BOSS not all the employees – don’t try to do it all. If this is your first business and you’re operating on a shoestring, it’s likely you’re trying to wear all the hats in the business. However, it is important that you outsource what you can, when you can. You are the BOSS in this business. You will have to have some of the jobs, but you seriously can’t do all the jobs.

Every business needs the following: writer, copywriter, marketer, accountant, financial officer, marketing executive, webmaster, web developer, graphic designer, customer support, and the list goes on . . . There is NO WAY you can do all these things and stay sane. Your business needs the positions, but you don’t need to fill each of these positions.

Choose your assistants and freelancers carefully. Many people can do two or three things. And never, never, never give up control of the money. You might have an accountant or chief financial officer but the “checks” must all be signed by you. Too many businesses have been lost because someone the owner thought was trustworthy really wasn’t.April4Sales

  1. Products don’t sell themselves. You HAVE to be a salesperson whether you want to or not. In fact, when asked what the most important skill they possessed, more than 75 percent of CEOs said it was the ability to sell. You need to sell yourself, your business and your products.

Don’t be the stereotypical car salesman! Instead, learn the skills you need to sell your products, online or in person, because your products won’t sell themselves and people won’t buy from a car salesman.

  1. Focus, focus, focus. Just like location is essential in Real Estate, focus is essential to new and existing businesses. You absolutely need focus to complete a project or you’ll be distracted by the next shiny object in your life. Distraction will mean you miss the important issues in your business and will probably miss your business fairly quickly after that.
  1. Waiting until you’re perfect, or perfectly ready. If you’ve reached perfection then you’ve waited far too long. Every business makes mistakes. You’ll never reach perfection so there is really no point in trying. EXCEPT that waiting for perfection often means you’re either afraid of starting or failure.

Small businesses have a way of making you face your fears, especially if you have any intention of being successful. Here’s something you may have heard before – YOU can do it.

You can face your fears. You can be successful.

The only thing standing in your way is  . . . YOU.

We are all born with specific skills, talents, advantages and disadvantages. It’s how you use those factors that determine whether you’ll experience the success you’re aiming at. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You have the abilities you need or can hire the people who can do what you don’t know how. If you don’t know how to build professional websites, don’t spend months learning. Hire it done and then get a better one later.

If you want a small business, then go out and GET IT!

 

 

Pros and Cons of Online Freelance Work

Freelance work online is definitely NOT all it’s cracked up to be.

Enticed with the promises of the “Internet Lifestyle” and working in my pajamas, I made my first foray into building an online business in 2006 with a website – Your EZ Books.

There was a newsletter, a website and readers. What I didn’t have was a marketing plan, income, motivation to continue and good reason why to work the business.

Understandably I didn’t experience the Internet Lifestyle, but I bought enough educational products promising to teach me exactly how to get there!

Freelancing continues to prove to be the best way to add extra income to your family or to build a thriving business, allowing you to work from home.

While there are some who prove to live out the four hour work week that Tim Ferris promises, there are others who just enjoy doing the work and getting paid.

Freelancers are people who sell their services to other businesses in lieu of working for one business for an hourly wage or salary. Those services can be website design and development, content, graphics, audio, video creation or performance.

Many larger corporations enjoy using freelancers because it reduces their overhead – no insurance, no taxes, no office space, no human resources cost. Freelancers enjoy the work because the pay is often higher since the business can afford more and the freelancer can work around their own schedule while meeting deadlines.

Why Become a Freelancer?

Becoming a freelancer is ideal if you enjoy the idea of working for yourself, marketing your skills and making money March21WritingCIbased on your talents and not just because you were hired.

Learning the skills to be successful is one of the quickest and surest ways of earning a little extra money or of making enough to quit your JOB (Just Over Broke) and strike out on your own. Through using the skills you learn as a freelancer you can branch out to build your own thriving business and reduce your own workload.

This is of course easier if you have a skill set that APPEARS to be in demand – such as writing, coding, website development or video editing – but can be a successful endeavor even if you don’t feel you have immediately marketable skills. In this case you may consider working as a virtual assistant until you can learn more skills.

A virtual assistant is something akin to a “jack-of-all-trades” who doesn’t work in an office space. Virtual assistants may man a help desk, answer company phones or email, do research, schedule projects or perform skills taught by the company.  Successful business owners focus on providing quality to their customers and therefore can’t be trying to do 5 things at once.

In walks the virtual assistant!

The pay for either freelance work or virtual assistants can range between $10 to $100 per hour or you might be paid per piece of work – such as X amount per word writing an article or X amount for designing a website.

Let’s Start with the Pro’s

There are a number of advantages to earning a few extra dollars from home as a freelance worker, not the least of which are low start-up costs. In some instances, you might be able to get your first gig without any start-up costs!

But, for the most part, you’ll need a website to advertise your skills and showcase your past work. The cost for that website can be free or it might cost you $10 for the domain name and another $5 each month for the hosting.

Interestingly, the group of individuals who are doing freelance work is growing and growing quickly. This is because larger companies and smaller home-based businesses both understand the effectiveness of working with freelancers. This means that although you may have to compete for work, there continues to be more work requested each day.

How much you charge for your services will depend totally up to you. From personal experience I can tell you that a writer can make anywhere between 0.005 per word (not a type – one half a cent per word) to 0.20 per word, depending upon the writer, experience and content being developed.

Although the range of compensation is large, you’ll come to know what to charge and how much the market will accept based on your competitors, your own experience and your comfort level (which gets better the longer you work).

Either way you slice it, your income potential is greater working for yourself than it is working for a boss. YOU are the boss!

And as the boss, you pick your clients and your projects. I recently did my last bit of work for a client. It was a company who provided health related content for websites. She did the marketing and found the clients and then hired out the writers. I was one of those writers.

The relationship started out very well. She sent along several large projects which I finished on time and with an excellent review. And then came the trouble. Over the past several months the work has been incredible sporadic and I only received the projects the other writers didn’t want or couldn’t handle.

The last project was the last straw. I wrote it 3 different times and it turned out that I worked for less than one cent per word at the end. Hard to imagine that my own work deteriorated so badly that what was once excellent now had to be rewritten three times!

That’s a company I won’t be doing any more work for.

I believe that the best part of being a freelancer is the independence to move and work where ever I want. Although it’s nice to pick up and work at the local Starbucks or Panera Bread for variety, I am also enamored of moving out of state in the next year, and I can because I don’t have a physical location tying me down.

All That’s Good Has a Flipside

Like all things in life, all advantages have disadvantages. One of the biggest challenges for me as a freelancer is that I can set my own hours.

Many people find this to be an advantage, a significant advantage. But for me it is both a blessing and a curse (for MONK fans).  I can take my work where ever there is a wifi signal, work early in the morning or late into the evening. I can go to my children’s events and work on Sunday evenings to get it all done.

But that’s the issue for me. Discipline. It takes discipline to start early and end early.

Because I home school my youngest daughter I can work from noon until . . . . and therein lies the issue.

Until . . . .  I just don’t shut down until 11:30 pm when it’s time to head to bed!

March21PhotographyCIAs a freelancer you also make as much money as you can make. Your income is dependent upon your work. This is a significant disadvantage to growing a larger business, unless you use it as a platform to get there.

You will also experience inconsistent income from week to week and month to month. If this is your only source of income, it can be a challenge. Which also means that your potential income is also lower than it could be if you worked exclusively for a boss.

There are no traditional benefits at home. If you’re sick, there are no sick days. If you don’t work on vacation, you don’t get paid. No IRA contributions or medical insurance.

And the biggest con, which gets in the way of most freelancers I know

.  .  .  all lead acquisition and marketing lands on your shoulders.

This means without marketing and finding leads you won’t have business and you won’t have income.

Freelance work however, does give you the opportunity to learn marketing and lead acquisition while still working for your boss. So, while this is a huge stumbling block for most people, it is something you can learn while still earning an income from a stable source.

 

 

Do You Need Experience to Achieve Successful Results?

Does being broke make you powerful?

I don’t think so! There IS a certain power behind your desire when you ARE broke.

Suddenly, back to the wall, debts to the ceiling, you realize that push has come to shove and there is no way out except by your own hand.

No one will be there to save you or bring you riches and gold. The only one left to save your behind is you.

Is that the power behind being broke?

Some say it is. Some believe that you first have to experience being broke to understand how to become financially successful.

But, by this logic you must first experience being abused to understand that this is not how anyone should be treated.

You must first jump off the bridge to understand that the water isn’t nearly as soft as it first appears.

Is there a power behind having firsthand, experiential knowledge of a thing and not just reading about it?

Going down this trail, the next question becomes – how can you experience something and gain the power of that experience without firsthand knowledge?

And . . . is there power in the knowledge of something you remember and ‘feel’ rather than read and understand?

Mr7QuestionCIThe answer to the first question lies in the answer to the second.

I remember things from my childhood that have driven my personality and my character as an adult. Many of these memories are good and many are not so good.

I have only to walk into a locker room to remember a conversation I overheard when I was a teenager. It was a conversation between two girls who I thought were my friends.

They never knew I heard what I heard. But those words changed who I became in the coming weeks, months and years. I learned a lesson I’ve not forgotten about the power of gossip and the pain of broken trust.

Of course, we were just teens and, young teenage girls being who they are, this shouldn’t have left an indelible mark.

But it did, and it has – in a good way.

The power of a lesson learned by experience develops into a change in character, decisions and choices.

I remember a young couple who lived in my home town. They both struggled with managing their weight.  One day we saw them out walking, both having dropped many pounds and looking healthier than ever.

My mom asked “what was it that triggered the change?”  The answer was that the man had a mild heart attack, and faced with the choice between better health and eating too much food, they chose health.

The young wife remarked that although it had been a challenge, it was amazing to them that it took a heart attack to show them that it was more important to eat to live, than it was to live to eat.

Experience led to a change in behavior that led to a change in results.

So, can you have the experience and gain the power without firsthand knowledge?

The answer to that question lies in the power behind visualization.

But not just any visualization!

Several years ago the movie “The Secret” made a splash with claims that in order to achieve a goal we must first believe that it’s possible. Of course that’s true.

But it led to many people sitting home in their easy chair, visualizing checks being delivered in the mail and unsure why they were experiencing bankruptcy.

The movie was accurate as far as it went. But without the additional admonition to take action to achieve those goals, too many people continued to wonder where their pot of gold had disappeared to.

Researchers have been able to pinpoint what happens when you visualize something positive happening in your life, without the experiential knowledge.

It saps your energy.March7TigerCI

In effect, positive visualization or fantasies resulted in a larger decrease in energy when they affected a pressing need in your life. (1) Meaning that when you need money and visualize getting a promotion, new client or other means of making that money, you lose the energy to pursue the object.

You have effectively tricked your brain into believing that what you want has already occurred. There is no need to continue to work or drive action toward a goal that has been achieved.

Instead, research finds that when you visualize the movement toward a goal, and not the achievement of the goal, you are more likely to reach your objective.

If it’s a new client you need, you’d best be visualizing yourself taking the action to acquire the client rather than visualizing actually working with a new client. The distinction is important to your results.

And it’s important to the answer to that first question: how can you experience something and gain the power of that experience without firsthand knowledge?

You gain experience and abilities through visualization.

Looking at brain patterns in weight lifters, researchers found that those weight lifters who visualized weight lifting gained an average of 13 percent muscle mass while those who did the actual lifting gained 30 percent muscle mass. (2)

Visualization gave the stationary weight lifters almost one half the gains of those who actually were lifting the weight!

Mental training is important in any sport, in any business and in any aspect of life in which you want to achieve success.

Want to be a better parent? Have more money? Get a better job? Be an entrepreneur?

It’s time to stop dreaming about the idea and take action on the steps to get there. You don’t have to ‘be broke’ or ‘reach rock bottom’ to experience the pain of regret, poor choices or bad decisions in order to drive your actions.

You only have to:

  1. determine that you can achieve the goal you want
  2. visualize the steps to achieve that goal
  3. take action on the visualization

If you don’t know the steps, ASK. There are plenty of people who have ‘been there and done that’ before you.  Most of these people are willing to help and point the way.

They aren’t going to do the work for you . . . but most people are willing to show you what needs to be done.


In his book, The Power of Broke, entrepreneur and branding consultant Daymond John, shares his perspective on the power of being broke and the motivation you’ll experience to drive you toward success. You will learn from each article and book you read. It’s not WHAT you learn but how you USE it that counts!

 

(1) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002210311100031X
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14998709

 

 

Even Kids Can Make Money

At some point in your child’s life they grow up and begin their career. That might be as an accountant, garbage collector, manager at a fast food company, doctor, attorney, or any number of other choices they have in life.

We all have dreams and hopes for our children and most of the time that includes their ability to care for themselves and their family.

One of the best ways we can prepare them is to teach them how to make, manage, spend and invest money while they’re still living at home.

When my now 19-year-old young man was 10 he decided he wanted to make money, but he wasn’t sure how. So we spent several hours investigating and researching ideas that would work.

After we were finished we had a list of over 30 ideas he could do on his own or with minimal help from his mom. It was important to him that he did things independently and I wanted to honor that for him.Feb22BoyDogCI

He picked a few from the list and carried them through, changing occasionally as life circumstances changed. This money paid for clothing he wanted (and didn’t NEED), special shoes, tickets to events he wanted to attend and started padding a savings account that rivaled his older brother’s.

He learned the value of money – how much it took to make it, what he could do with it, how to save it, what was worth spending it on and how to develop a plan for his future.

In the meantime, he and I started to write a book that listed those ideas, how to prepare for them and how to market them. He tested the ideas he enjoyed and shared how he felt about them.

He wanted to write a book with me, but somewhere around age 12 he decided that he was no longer interested. So, mom moved forward on the project on her own – slowly but surely!

The children have never gotten an allowance, so they had to turn to making money outside the home to have spending money. Sometimes this was more difficult for me than if I gave them an allowance for keeping up on their chores. But, for me, it worked.

For other families it might work to use an allowance instead, although there are several ways your child can make money from home or in the neighborhood that are safe.

Here are several of the ways we all worked together to ensure that my children learned strategies that would work for their own lives.

  1. Create an open environment where you discuss money matters with your children. You may or may not want to share your financial situation with your children. However, whether you share part or all, it’s important that your children are able to ask questions and get honest answers. This is where they learn about money . . . at home.
  1. Feb22TeamworkCITalk about how they should receive – money, gifts, time from others. Although not specifically about money, the ability to receive a gift with grace will go a long way to helping them graciously receive more and more money. No one enjoys giving a gift to someone who doesn’t receive well or who refuses out of a misguided sense of being humble. If you can’t receive well, you may not develop into a very good giver.

Life is about two sides. You give or receive. Yes or no. East or west. Up or down. When you learn both – giving and receiving – you’re just happier.

  1. Define for yourself what your family values are about money and spending. If you don’t think you can verbalize the values you already hold, ask your children! They are experts at watching what you do and not necessarily what you say. They’ll be able to tell you about your money habits.

If these aren’t the habits you want for your family, then it’s time to identify the ones you do want, and incorporate them into what you DO and what you SAY.

  1. It’s important to structure times where your children learn about money. That might be through helping them to develop their own micro-business, learning how to invest their allowance, helping you develop a budget or any other number of function things you can do around money.
  1. How will you deal with your children’s differences? Your children are all different and they are different from you! They will have different ideas about money, jobs, careers, politics, friends and everything else in life. How will you deal with that? Determine it before the differences become rifts between your children or between you and your children.
  1. Talking about money today must also include a conversation about advertising. The basis of all advertising and marketing is to convince you, the reader or listener, to BUY, BUY, BUY. Do you need it? Do you want it? Is it necessary? One fun way or talking about marketing is to sit with your children and watch an info-mercial or two. These are some of the best examples of marketing in motion.

Info-mercial companies must pay a LOT of money for their time on television and so their marketing has been fine-tuned to get the highest conversion – or number of people who buy based on the number watching.

Be prepared NOT TO BUY. Instead, talk with your children about what the advertisers are doing to convince you that this product is necessary in your life. It’s an incredible education for both you and your children!

  1. Communication is key. It’s important, like in any other topic in their young lives that you guide and discuss. DO NOT force, dictate or direct. You don’t take well to people who force you – they don’t either. This includes encouraging and praising them without criticizing.
  1. Children need the time to make mistakes under your roof. The time to make money mistakes is when they are making 20 and 30 dollar mistakes – and not 200 and 300 dollar mistakes or even worse, 2,000 and 3,000 dollar mistakes.
  1. Explain to your children what you can and cannot do with the money you have for the family. When they know the limits, they can help you make decisions you can all live with. If your entertainment budget won’t handle both going to the movies and dinner during the week, they can help make a decision with you. Maybe dinner and movie this week and nothing for the next two weeks . . .
  1. Have an expectation that your children do their chores without payment. They aren’t going to be paid to keep their own home clean when they grow up and move out, so it’s probably a great idea that they aren’t paid to help keep their current home clean. Allowance, by definition is something you give them ‘just because.’