August is Small Business Month!!

August is small business month! For boomers who are planning to retire but still want to work for whatever reason, whether it is to pay bills or to keep busy, this is a great time to consider starting a small business.

Before you get started, there are few things that you need to consider. We’ll cover these here in my blog over the next few days.

One of the first things that should be considered, is whether the opportunity that you are looking at is a scam or not.

The prevalence of scams, particularly for seniors may scare some people from certain business opportunities. Work-from-home scams have been around long before online work-from-home scams existed. In the past these were often magazine advertisements that promised millions for doing nothing, you just had to send in your money to find out how.

Here are some suggestions to help you determine whether a business opportunity is real, or simply too good to be true.

* No Way to Contact the Business – If the opportunity is real, they’ll have a real business website with a real business email address at the minimum, not a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail address. You should easily be able to look up the people and the name of the business to find out more information.

* Promises of Riches Overnight – Any plan that claims you’ll become rich overnight is a scam. It’s just not going to happen. Working from home at a job, or running your own business, requires skill, work, and more work to make money. You’re not going to just set up a business and do nothing to get paid.

* They Ask for Money Up Front (and Now) – Many MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing) do ask for money up front, which is a business investment. Even if you do not like MLMs, some of them are legitimate companies with real opportunity. However, some jobs or opportunities only want your money. You should have plenty of time to do research before giving anyone money. Never pay for a job, although an investment in a business opportunity is considered normal. If you do invest in a business, make sure you do your due diligence and check it out. These days it’s easy to check out most businesses on-line. I usually do a Google search of the business or product and add “scam” in the search. One thing to be wary of is the practice of businesses to write their own scam info where they dispel any suggestions of scamming. Check the source of your information before you make a decision based on on-line reviews.

* You Feel Pressured to Act Now – If you’ve been contacted by someone making a lot of promises to you about making tons of money and claiming you must act right now or lose out forever, it’s a scam. A real opportunity is going to be there tomorrow.  Some on-line offers will have a limited time offer with a reduced price for a specific time. A legitimate business will still offer the product after the initial introductory price. Again, do your research before buying.

* It Has Anything to Do with Western Union – Sorry to name a place like this but it’s true; if you need to use Western Union to send money to anyone, run. In fact, any type of money-changing, bank-involved delivery system is usually a scam and it’s not only that; it’s illegal and you could end up in jail. There are all kinds of “business opportunities” where the money is tied up in a foreign bank and all you have to do to release it is send a few thousand dollars. It’s a scam.

* It Sounds Too Good to Be True – You know it in your gut that it’s just too good to be true, but you are tempted. Stop. Take some time to research the company and not just the people and places they give you to research. Do your due diligence and walk away if you can’t prove they’re legitimate. If you have the type of personality that would take a chance, or you get to a point where you feel trapped, have a standard line ready like “I’m going to run this by my son/daughter who is a police officer and I’ll get back to you”. When I use this line they never call back.

* Random Email Offering Position You Did Not Apply For Directly – This happens sometimes when you apply for or fill out real job opportunities online. They get the information online and then they send you unsolicited jobs or offers of advice for a fee. It’s no different than a phone call during dinner making you promises. Delete.

* They Offer ridiculously high pay for low wage positions – This is a common indication of a scam. You’ll see the advertisement on a seemingly legitimate website that promises a lot of money for many different positions that just do not earn that kind of money. Be realistic. You’re not going to make $45 dollars an hour as a receptionist.

Above all, pay attention to your gut. If it feels fishy, it probably is. Some of these scammers only want you to fill out their applications so they can steal your identity. To protect yourself if you’re in the USA, get a free employment identification number (EIN) from the IRS so that you don’t give out your social security number. Other countries may have similar set-ups, but you’ll have to check. Otherwise, don’t blindly give out this information to strangers.

Take Care,

Kerri

How to Make Money Before You Have Products to Sell

If you’ve decided that you want to work from home running your own business, you may need to have an income while you finish creating products and develop your business infrastructure. There are a number of ways to bring in some income while you get your business off the ground. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Provide a Service – If you plan to make your own products and sell them, you likely have skills that other people will want or need. Try finding out if anyone needs the types of service you could offer. Perhaps you’re good at graphic design, database management, transcription, or something else entirely. Put it out there and people may buy your time. Investigate opportunities on Fivrr or your local Kijiji market.

Part-Time Job – If you can’t wait for services to take off, you can get a part-time job. Sign up to be a substitute teacher or a temp at an agency, or head over to your nearest fast food place and you’re likely to be hired on the spot.

Work-at-Home Job – There are also work-from-home jobs that you can get pretty quickly if you have experience, education and skills. Look for call center work, and you could be bringing in money within the month.

Sell Stuff on eBay  – Have too much stuff in your house? Try selling some of it of it on eBay. You can also buy from stores on sale, and then sell for a higher price on eBay. Believe it or not, not everyone is able to make to the same sales you can. I know of people who regularly go to the local thrift stores to look for toys and other collectibles that they sell on eBay for a profit.

Sell Stuff on Amazon – Sort of the same idea as eBay, but you may not be aware that you can sell your old books and pretty much any items that Amazon sells, right from your home office. You can even ship some qualifying items to their fulfillment service and you then just collect checks. Look up “fulfillment by Amazon”.

Sell Stuff on Etsy – This is a marketplace for crafters. If you are a knitter or crafter, its a great place to start selling your wares. It’s not limited to crafters, check it out and see if there is an opportunity for you to sell unique items in this marketplace.

Hold a Yard Sale – One of the fastest and most tried and true methods of bringing in a little cash is the old-fashioned yard or garage sale. You can still do that, and if the weather is not right, look on Facebook for groups dedicated to online yard sales in your area to make quick cash.

Babysit or Dog Sit – One of the fastest ways to make a buck is to babysit or dog sit, if you do it in their house you may not have to worry about licensing or insurance, but if you provide these services in your home, be sure to get insurance to protect yourself. Tell everyone you know that you’d like to babysit or provide animal care or both in their home, and your fee. You’ll be amazed at how many will jump at the chance. I have a friend who walks dogs, provides doggie day care and home visits while people are away and she makes a very nice income.

Return Stuff You Don’t Use – Have you made recent purchases and the tags are still on them? Do you have the receipts? Typically you can take those items back for a full refund. If you’re not using them right now, why not take them back. Most of us have far more stuff than we need anyway.

Rent Out a Room – Do you have an extra room or two in your home? You’ll get more money if you rent out the master bedroom offering the renter their own bathroom. In some places you can earn close to a grand a month offering something like this. Some school exchange programs and sports teams also offer payment for billeting students.

Join a Medical Experiment – In the U.S. human trials and studies are often conducted right in your area at your local hospital. You can usually find out which studies are being done with a quick search on the net. You’ll be paid for your time, and get free healthcare for the associated issue.

There are always ways to get cash when you need it while you get your business off the ground. You just need to start looking around to see what is out there, and think of money making in a new way.

Where will you start?

Kerri

The Pros and Cons of Working for Yourself

Working for yourself isn’t all wine and roses. Sometimes there are huge thorns! It’s up to you to determine whether the roses are sweeter than the thorns. But, it’s a good idea to know in advance what the pros and cons of working for yourself are so that you can be realistic about what you’re getting into.

Cons:

* Work and Home Life Often Collide – Due to the lack of regimen, and no clear boundaries for work versus time off, you may find yourself working odd hours to accommodate the needs of your family; so you may feel as if you never have a day off. To avoid this, it will be important to set a work schedule and boundaries for your family as you set up your business.

* You’ll Do a Lot of Work for Free – Much of the work you do for your business is not billable, therefore will feel like free work until you start making a profit. It can be hard to push yourself to do things that aren’t producing income right now, but you must push through so that you can keep your business running smoothly. If you are in a position to hire a VA or other support, do it so that you can concentrate on the money making aspects of the business.

* Family Will Ask You to Do Stuff (since you’re not doing anything) – Not just family, but sometimes friends will start to depend on you being there for them for everything. They’ll ask you to do their chores, like watching their sick kid so they can go to work. Your spouse and children will stop helping out around the house as much, since you’re there anyway. It never ends. This happens to me all the time. I finally had to be strict about carving out time to work on my business and fiercely protecting that time in order to get it off the ground.

* You May Crave Being out of the House – Sometimes, when you go out, as you’re on your way home you’ll get the distinct feeling you’re going to jail. You will want to do anything but go home, even grocery shop.

* Stuff Will Distract You – Without supervision, even the most organized individual can go off the rails due to the internet, television and stuff that is around to distract you from work. It’s up to you and only you to set up a good working schedule to help you avoid this. Another suggestion is to use time tools like timers and alarms to limit the time you spend on household chores and work project s.

Pros:

* No More Living by the Clock – If you arrange your business right you can wake up naturally without an alarm forcing you to get up when your body isn’t ready. You can also go to bed when you want to as well. It’s freedom not to always live by the clock.

* No More Traffic Jams – One of the best perks is not being caught in a traffic jam during rush hour when you need to pee or having to rely on public transit to get you to and from work. You won’t have to do that anymore and it will be a relief, most especially on bad weather days when everyone else has to trudge through the snow or a heat wave.

* Fewer Work-Related Interruptions – Office chatter can get overwhelming at times and it can be difficult to get work done due to it. Not to mention office meetings. Be honest, did you ever really get work done due to a meeting? During the meeting you’re thinking about how you could be getting work done right now instead of talking about it.

* You Really Can Work in Your PJs – Oh yes you can. You can wear PJs, yoga pants, or a moo-moo; no one cares. You can even get inspired right out of the shower and work naked if you want to. It’s your business and your house. Of course, if you are meeting with a client on Skype, you’ll want to look professional!

* A Flexible Schedule – If you have a parent-teacher meeting you don’t have to ask permission to go. If you want to get your hair done, go for it. Whatever you want to do during the day is up to you as long as you find time to also get your work done so you can get paid. Your schedule is your own.

* You Can Eat Healthier – Going out to work often causes everyone to eat out for lunch five days a week. That can not only be super expensive, but unless you are super strict with your diet, it could also be very unhealthy. Now you can prepare healthy lunches for yourself or eat leftovers from dinner the night before. Save money, and save your life.

Working from home offers many benefits and a few drawbacks. It’s up to you to determine if you have the personality for it. You’ll need to rein in family and friends who want to take advantage of you, as well as yourself, to so that you stay on track to create a healthy, profitable home business.

Kerri

Finding the Right Balance – Home Business or Work-at-Home Job?

Boomers want to work from home for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to care for grandchildren or want more work-life balance, or perhaps a life event like an illness or caring for someone has made it necessary to change careers. Or maybe they just like being home and want the freedom to work in their own way.

Whatever the reasons for wanting to work at home, a decision will have to be made whether to work at a job from home, or start a home business. Here are eight questions to help you decide which is best for you.

Are You Self-Motivated?

If you want your own business so that you can set your own hours, you will need to be very self-motivated. You’ll need to take time out of your day for marketing, interviewing clients, closing the deal and then doing the work too. You’ll be 100 percent responsible for delivering the work, billing and collecting. You’ll even be responsible for deciding the methods you’ll use to do the work. To do that you’ll need to be a very self-motivated individual.

What Skills Do You Have?

Take a piece of paper and write down a list of the skills you currently have, based on what you’ve done in the past. Can any of these transfer into a business? Label them appropriately. Do any of these translate into common work-from-home positions such as call center agent or transcriptionist? Some skills cross over into both, but which side of the list gets full faster?

What Sort of Lifestyle Do You Want?

With a work-at-home job you’ll be required to “show up” for work on time each day that you’re scheduled, and you may have little control over that schedule. What’s more, with work-at-home positions it’s a lot harder than typical jobs to call in sick, whether it’s you or a child who is sick. Often the first 90 days you cannot miss your schedule at all if you want to keep the position. Are you ready for that? Or, would you prefer a more family-oriented type of schedule that can be adjusted more easily and is more deliverables-based than hourly-based?

Do You Already Have a Business Idea?

If you have already researched a business idea, and feel as if you want to do that instead of working for someone else, can you pull it off? What steps do you need to take to make it a reality? Are you the type of person to be able to organize and take the steps needed to get your business off the ground? Can you find and afford help if you’re not sure what to do to get the business going? Does the thought of all this stress you out?

How Do You Feel about Punching a Clock?

For some people the idea of clock punching is relaxing, for others it feels like a nightmare. Neither feeling is right or wrong as it takes all types of people to make this world work. If you know up front that you are fine with punching a clock and you’d rather someone else tell you when to be someplace and what to do, then a work-at-home job is best for you. If that feels like prison to you, then a business is probably better if you can do what it takes to get it going.

Do You Have Money to Start a Business?

Starting any type of business, even an online business, requires an investment not only of time, but also of money. Have you worked out a business plan and do you know how much money you need to get started? Do you have that money available? If not, do you have a way to get it? Perhaps working at a job first, while you save for and work on your business on the side, is the way to go if you don’t have the funds to start.

Do You Need Training and Education?

Both working at a job and owning a business sometimes require skills that you don’t have yet. But that’s okay. Decide if you want to invest in the training yourself to get your business off the ground, or if you would like to try to find a work-at-home job where they will train you from the ground up even if you have little experience and due to that, the pay may be low.

What Is Your Biggest Dream for Your Life?

When you think of the future, what do you see? Does it sound relaxing to get up in the morning, have breakfast, and move to your home office where you sign in to work at your job, taking a break when needed by telling your manager that you have to use the restroom, or go eat lunch and so forth, then when you get off work you’re totally and fully off? Plus, each week you collect a certain paycheck? Or, do you like the idea of being able to do what you want when you want (and likely working more hours than you ever thought you could) but without the surety of income each week, knowing you’re forging your own future?

Whatever you decide, neither is right or wrong. If you want a work-at-home job so you can sign off after the day and focus 100 percent on your family, or whether you want a business that will cross boundaries into family time and vice versa but that puts you 100 percent in charge, these are both good choices and choices that you are fortunate to have in this age of high speed internet.

What do you think will work best for you?

Kerri

 

My Perfect Day

I have always wanted to start an on-line business and make money at it. Every year I promise myself that I will work on the business on my vacation time. Every year something happens to detract me from actually doing the work. This year is different. I booked a week off work (four days really, because Monday was a holiday) and didn’t tell my family. Yesterday and today I left for work as if I was going to my paid job. I went to a park and worked all day on setting up the business. I felt pretty good about myself. Today, despite efforts to detract me from doing the same, I stuck to my guns and headed to the park. The park has a beach and I found a picnic table in the shade where I am sitting now, facing the beach, writing this post.

So, I am treating this day as a work day, the only difference is that I am working for myself.

The sun is shining brightly, the flock of geese that was here when I arrived have floated away. It was quiet and lovely until about 10 minutes ago when a mother and her two daughters parked themselves in front of me on the beach. They speak Italian and have no concept of quiet. The beach is pretty deserted and of all the places they could have chosen to sun bathe, they sat right in front of me! They are 10 feet away and can clearly see that I am working on my laptop. Well, it’s just noise for now since I don’t understand the language so I am able to resist the temptation to eavesdrop. The laptop battery won’t last too long, perhaps til noon. Then I’ll have to plug it into the car charger for a reboot for the afternoon.

I ate lunch here yesterday. There is a Taco Truck in the park. Gourmet tacos for a reasonable price provides a perfect lunch for a working day.

Back to my perfect day. I’ve dreamed about working at the beach for a few years now. Although I live close to the beach, the last few years there hasn’t been much beach where I live and there are no tables to sit at and type. I have brought resource materials to the beach but haven’t really stuck to the plan.

Right now its 10:30 am. I love this time of day and would have liked to be here even earlier, perhaps around 7-8 am. I think I’ll try to do that tomorrow, weather permitting. I hear that they are calling for rain for the next few days.

For lunch I went back to the Taco Truck. I had the spicy fish taco today plus nacho chips and tomato salsa. The salsa was runny and made everything soggy. Didn’t matter. It was still delicious.

The day was perfect until about 3:30 when the sky darkened and a thunderstorm rumbled through for about an hour. Ir was really a blessing because it was so hot and humid. After the rain it was cooler but still humid.

Still, I was able to work on my business in an awesome environment.

The perfect day.

What would be your perfect day?

Kerri