Resources to Use When You’re Stuck

It’s scary when you first venture out on your own. Whether you’ve quit your 9-5 job to work from home or you’re a stay-at-home mom trying to make a living, depending on yourself for a paycheck is nerve-wrecking. I’ve talked with other entrepreneurs who struggled the first few months of opening. Some gained weight and others lost weight. Some blew through all of their savings in the first month and some even developed a short-term twitch. I’m not saying you’re going to gain 20 pounds, I’m just trying to let you know that, although the rewards are great, being your own boss can be very stressful. With that being said, this blog post was created to help preserve your sanity.

SCORE

Finding a mentor is hard. Many local people in your field are competitors, and competitors certainly don’t want to help you. What if you could find someone in your field, with years of experience, willing to counsel you for free. That’s what SCORE is all about. What better way to sum up an organization than to use their own words? I’ve taken this excerpt from SCORE’s website:

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for nearly fifty years.

Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our services at no charge or at very low cost.

Their website is full of wonderful, free resources. They have numerous articles about any topic that you can think of (business plans, marketing, finance, technology) and every single one offers advice to make your business run smoother. SCORE offers free mentoring sessions, free workshops, free webinars and free business tools. With 326 chapters, there’s bound to be a local chapter. Check their website to see if there are any near you.

*You can get lost in their wealth of information. While it’s great to learn, don’t forget why you’re there in the first place – your business. I suggest that you choose one topic that’s pressing to your business right now (like a business plan), read advice and suggestions, and then implement those suggestions. Return to the site when you have spare time or when you need specific help.

SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a plethora of advice. The SBA offers free advice on everything regarding small businesses. It’s similar to SCORE’s website and has more free tools, but I find SCORE’s website a little easier to maneuver. SBA.gov has so many resources, that unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be more than a little daunting.

Local Help

You can also go to your area’s Chamber of Commerce website to see other local offerings. It’s nice to meet with other business owners. Sure, you’ll talk about your business and marketing, but socializing is always nice too. Another group to check out is MeetUp.com.  Meetup is an organization made of various groups that “meet up.” Some groups have similar hobbies, like hikers or knitters, but some are business oriented. It’s relatively new, so there may not be groups in your area. It’s definitely worth checking out. Time spent networking is never wasted time.

A Little Help Can Go a Long Way

You will want help at some point in your business venture. These are great places to search for your answers. The Internet is great, but search results can sometimes be overwhelming. SBA and SCORE are great resources for any business owner, whether you started your business years ago or just yesterday. Use them. As I find reliable resources for different businesses, I will probably post them here, so check this post every now and then.

What’s Even Out There? Ways to Make Money Working From Home

You’ve decided that you want to start working from home and you’re looking for ways to make money. You’ve scoured the Internet, hoping that you can just find something, anything, that’s legitimate and pays more than minimum wage.

There are many solid reasons why people work from home. Here are few guesses why you’ve decided that it’s time for you to try.

  • You’re tired of working for someone else.
  • You want to follow your passion.
  • You want to make your own schedule.
  • You want to spend more time with your family.
  • You want to get paid for something you enjoy doing.
  • You want to make more money.
  •  All of the above

We’ve discussed what type of sites to avoid, now let’s discuss where to start. Note: This is just a brief overview; I will cover each one in depth through other blog posts.

So Many Decisions

There are five main business categories that you could choose to pursue: Ecommerce, Creative, Service, Information, and Direct Sales. The categories are not set in stone and some overlap, but the categories will help you understand your options.

Ecommerce

Essentially, this is selling stuff (really anything) online. Making money while you sleep is a nice idea. If you’re creative, you can make and sell your crafts on sites like Etsy. If you have an idea for a product, research what it would take to actually it into production. Setting up an online store takes a little legwork. If you want to offer shoppers the ideal experience, your ecommerce website will have to be top-notch. You will either have to know a little about developing your website, or you will have to turn to a professional to help you.

Creative

Being creative covers many entrepreneurial options, such as: writing, crafting, baking or photography. Many times creativity will make more money when blended into Ecommerce and Service. Writing and illustrating children’s books, selling your product at craft fairs, or even selling your photos on stock image sites can be a great way to produce an income.

Service

The service industry can include creative careers such photography and writing, but it also includes jobs that require little to no creativity. Residential or commercial cleaner, landscaper/mower, interior decorator, dog walker, pet sitter, childcare provider and seamstress are just a few examples. You see a problem and you fix it. There are many business ideas for service oriented people, not to mention you can charge hefty sums for services that others either don’t want to do or don’t have the time to. To your advantage, convenience comes at a price and you stand the chance of making quite a profit.

Information

This is when you use your knowledge to help others. Sell yourself as an expert, offer one-on-one calls, lead workshops or create an online class. You can also write blogs, articles or books. You can even sign up as an expert for question-answer sites like JustAnswer. Give free webinars or podcasts to demonstrate your valuable knowledge. Make some money and help others. It’s a win-win situation.

Direct Sales

If you are looking for a fun way to make extra spending money, you can become a consultant for companies like Tupperware, Mary Kay, or Avon. Make sure to choose a product that you can get excited about. Remember, a direct sales position is just that – selling. If you don’t like asking family and friend members to buy something, this probably isn’t the best choice for you.

If you love the company’s products, look into becoming a representative. Reps typically get a large discount and can generate a little extra income by selling to family, friends and acquaintances, and by hosting shows. Make sure to read the fine print though. Many companies require a start-up fee, and people considering direct sales are prime targets for scam artists. Do your research and go with a company that has a solid background and reputation.

What’s Right for You?

Only you can decide the right avenue to try. There may be one perfect idea that stands out from the others, or there might be several that could work for you. If nothing seems right for you, spend some quiet time praying and meditating. You’ll find that when you focus and ask for guidance, many times the answer that seemed so far away, will present itself.

Market Yourself – Help Customers Find You

Once you’ve started your business, you need customers and clients so you can, well, make money. How do you find them?

You don’t.

You help them find you. Market yourself and you’ll get the customers you need to survive and thrive.

You can have the best-tasting cupcakes in town, but unless people know about those fabulous cupcakes, you will never sell them.

Marketing Tactics

ü  signs

ü  flyers

ü  home shows

ü  press releases

ü  direct mailings

ü  social media

ü  Internet ads

ü  the dreaded cold-calling

Full disclosure: I’m not a marketing expert or marketing professional. I just know that I’ve tried different marketing tactics, and some worked for me. Others might work for you. If you have money to hire a consultant, they will offer you better advice than I can. There are many knowledgeable online experts that blog about marketing for a living. Search around and follow the ones that you like. I’m just here to give you a few ideas.

Local

If you’re trying to attract local area customers, use print media: signs, flyers, and direct mailings. Nicely printed signs work well on public corners. I know that I’ve found flyers on my car, advertising a new restaurant. If I’m hungry and the flyer has a coupon, I definitely think about trying it out. Another idea is to set up a booth at home or craft shows. The more that people hear about you and see your name, the more curious they will be to try your product or skill. Contact local businesses that are in the same industry (but not a competitor) that you could advertise with. Maybe you sell cosmetics, and an acquaintance owns a hair salon. Arrange for her to recommend you to her clients, while you return the favor.

Even the dreaded cold-calling has helped people gain clients. Any sales person will tell you, “It’s a numbers game.” To use a fishing analogy: if you place enough bait out there, you’ll catch a fish.

Virtual

Even if you’re trying to attract local customers, you need to pay attention to your online presence. This especially applies to those managing an online store. Distribute press releases for your opening or special events.

Manage social media accounts. Potential customers will want to know about you. You don’t need to be everywhere or mange 7 different social media accounts. Just be somewhere. Figure out where your potential clients are, and go there. Are they on Facebook? Spend a few minutes a day updating your Facebook page. Are they on Pinterest? Keep your Pinterest account fresh and updated. What about Twitter? You get my point. Don’t be everywhere haphazardly. Be one or two places, but manage and maintain them daily.

Write blog posts. Not only can blog posts help a search engine find your website, but more importantly, a blog is a place for readers to gain valuable information. When you give away information, it helps build your credibility, your reader’s trust and your following. The more people know about you, the more you’re going to sell.

I’ve noticed that Internet ads works well for some businesses, specifically GoogleAds. You might have heard the term “pay-per-click.” When Internet users type your chosen words, your ad will pop up at the top of the screen. They can click it to visit your site, and then you pay Google for that click. For instance, let’s say that you are selling homemade quilts for the Chicago area. One of chosen phrases may be “Chicago handmade quilts.” This can get expensive, but depending on your target words and targeted audience, it may work for you.

What Will Work for You?

I’m not sure what will work for your business. I suggest trying a few local approaches and a few virtual approaches and see what works best. Unless you can hire a marketing consultant, I’m afraid trial and error are your best bet for finding out what works best for your business and targeted market.

Finding Your Passion and Answering that Question: “What should I do?”

You’re searching for way to make a living on your own terms.

Whether it’s because you want control of your hours or more time with family, or you simply just want out of the “rat race,” you know what you want. You want to work for yourself. You want to be your boss.

You just don’t know how to get there.

I’ve been through that mess and I want to help you get through it too. Maybe you’ve tried to research ideas and maybe you already know your strengths, you just don’t know how to get to that next step. I’m here to help you through that.

You don’t want to go from one mundane job to another, and you certainly don’t want your start-up to fail. Figure out what you have to offer. Find your passion. What would you consider to be the best work day imaginable?

Sometimes You Just Need to Think Like a Child

One way to figure out what you enjoy is to take a quick trip down memory lane. Think back to when you were a child. You didn’t have the stresses of paying for a mortgage or utilities. You didn’t worrying about health care or health insurance.  What did you enjoy doing? I’ll bet those activities still make you happy.

Now, you’re not going to paid to be a princess, play video games or ride ponies (unless you’re lucky), but you can get paid to write children’s books about princesses, review video games, or teach riding lessons.

  • Did you like to draw pictures or paint? If you don’t have the aspiration to become the next “biggest thing” in the art world, get involved with graphic design. You don’t need a four-year degree. There are lots of free online resources to help you learn. If you feel that you need a certificate, community colleges have affordable graphic design programs.
  • Did you enjoy being outside or taking pictures? Become a photographer. All you need is a camera, a work ethic and little bit of marketing.
  • Was your dog your best friend, or did you take care of every stray animal that you came across? Become a pet sitter or dog walker.

There are people out there enjoying every day of their work life. They are photographers, graphic designers and writers. There are people doing what you are dreaming about. They are entrepreneurs and small business owners.

We Can’t All Be Princess Ballerinas

Just because you like to dance doesn’t mean that you would be successful at (or even enjoy) owning a ballet studio.

Search through your education, your background, and your past job experiences to figure out a marketable skill that goes along with the activities that you enjoy. Figure out whether you need to take additional classes, or you just want to go with what you know.

There are many opportunities for you to make a living doing what you enjoy. It might appear to be too simple, maybe even slightly unbelievable, but it’s completely doable. That being said, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of responsibility and you will make mistakes.

You must treat your business like a business and not like a hobby. It will take hard work and you will need to market yourself, but there opportunities out there for you to work your own hours, live comfortably and still make enough money to save for retirement.

Yes, your business will still be there tomorrow!

Congratulations, you peeled your eyes off of your inbox long enough to read this blog.  Yes, Ma’am I know how much easier said than done that is.  You hear that ding or fell the vibration from your phones email notification alert and feel compelled to see what that next customer inquiry may be.  An angry complaint, a lost package, or god forbid a freaking compliment?! But guess what?  IF you take a break and ignore it.  Take a break and enjoy your family.  Take a break and just veg out; Yes, your business will still be there tomorrow!