Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Integrating Home and Work Space (continued)

...continuing the last blog entry...

*"Spend some time planning how you will use your time, and always allow for the unexpected by scheduling 'just-in-case time,' says one home-based working mother of several children. She suggests to help eliminate stress caused by attempts to balancing parenting and money-maker roles, that you concentrate on time management and planning.

*Realize family "emergencies" can happen any time and disrupt your business schedule. Prepare for this with back-up plans and building in some extra time to complete a project.

*Take breaks with your family. Depending on the age of your child, take periodic breaks to eat lunch, take a walk, play a short game, or do some other one-on-one activity with them.

*"Do not forget why you are home in the first place," says another home-based mother. She says to take time with your children and significant other. "They grow up so quickly, and you can never have yesterday back. Live today to the fullest." One parent often takes turns taking her daughters to lunch or shopping, one-on-one time.

to be continued...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


One of the reasons many women and men want to work from home is to stay home with their children, usually with their pre-school children. But older children and teens may need even more support these days with their academic and activities' demands (not to mention the potential for all kinds of "trouble" that can occur in a home with no adult supervision!). It can be especially hectic to work from home with children of any ages, but here are some helpful tips from parents who do:

*Involve your children when possible. When her four children were at home, Patricia C. Gallagher (, MBA and professional speaker, says to involve your children so they really feel they are contributing, and celebrate with them when something special happens in your business.

*Try to keep to a working schedule so your children will know when you are and are not working. Have a sign posted or a signal they know that means you are busy at the moment.

(excerpt, 101 Best Home-Business Success Secrets for Women) be continued.

Friday, October 21, 2011

“Hot” Jobs May Be Leads for In-Demand Businesses;

“Hot” Jobs May Be Leads for In-Demand Businesses;

A tip for starting a business is to see what industry and types of jobs need employees. For example, a feature described how there is a shortage of chemical engineers…and especially a need for truckers ( Thus, if you have experience and training in chemical engineering, for example, you might consider being a consultant; or conduct your own independent studies; or in being a long-short haul trucker, you might start your own trucking company.

Stay updated with the jobs in demand by taking note of “hot” job news stories, government occupational jobs’ outlook, and trade and industry reports. Then see how you might create a business based on the demand for these services and-or products. Depending on your present skills and knowledge, you may need extra training and-or schooling to start a business.
If you are creative with phrases, illustrations, and-or photography, look in designing your own apparel and other products using Here are a tie and a t-shirt I designed for my son, a biologist; and my friend who raises Monarch butterflies.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Miss Stephanie’s Potions

Here is a creative entrepreneur that I read about on Linked-in:

Stephanie Corey left Corporate America to start her own company after her seven year old son developed a debilitating fear of zombies and refused to go to bed at night. She now makes:

*5 all-natural, deliciously scented products that repel monsters (or turn them into friends if you happen to catch them);

*"Monster Armor” bath products that cover children in all night protective monster armor;

*Fairy attraction spray to bring fairies and sweet dreams.

She uses a certified green manufacturer out of Michigan. Along with her sprays and bath products, and       T-shirts, Stephanie Corey’s company will soon be offering stuffed animals with all the characters, as well as “Essence of Fairy Dust” bath products.

Stephanie Corey has her M.B.A. from Lehigh University, and B.A. in Economics from Wilkes University

For more information: and direct email is


Thursday, August 18, 2011

U. S. Factory Tours; Made by U. S. Companies.

A relative of my husband’s loves to visit factories wherever she travels, especially those that are (1) free; and (2) offer product samples. These tours are an excellent marketing tool for these companies; plus it helps to support companies that make and produce items here in the U. S.

In middle school, one of our class trips was a tour of the candy company, Hershey Chocolate. They no longer have these, but instead have turned it into a ride, “Hershey’s Chocolate World,” located just outside the Hershey Amusement Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

My husband, friends and I visited the Yuengling Brewery in April. A fun, short tour ending with a cup of free brew or soda.
We also enjoy a local cable network, “PCN Tours,” featuring local businesses and manufacturers in Pennsylvania:

Here are two related sites of interest for you:

*Factory Tours –
*Reviews of U. S companies –



Friday, August 5, 2011

FEATURE INTERVIEW: Eva Asmar - Bionée Certified Organic Maternity Skin Care

1) What inspired you to start your business (es)?

What inspired me were my pregnancy and my experience in product development at international cosmetics companies.  While pregnant with my first child I was unsatisfied with the products available to me on the market.  With 10+ years of experience in the industry I knew there was more out there that I could offer women like myself. 

2) A brief description of your business (es)?

Bionée is an organic certified skin care brand dedicated to mothers, moms to be and babies. We strive to provide safe and efficient products for women and their children.  Our skin care line is divided into 3 categories: Pregnancy, Motherhood and Baby.

3) Your most effective method(s) of promoting your businesses?

I believe that if you have a good product there is no need for actual promotion in its strong sense. I truly believe that moms are savvy and very educated about what is safe for their babies and themselves, and they share that knowledge with other moms! Bionée offers the safest and most indulgent ingredients in the market, so it’s only a matter of trying the products to be convinced about its effectiveness. We are also becoming a player in the direct selling industry where ‘playdates’ become opportunities for sharing knowledge about healthy beauty care and Bionée’s products among moms!

 4) Your best customers?

Women, Mothers, Moms-to-be, and children!

5) What do you consider your best business achievement?

My best business achievement is the great feedback I’m receiving from other moms that introduced Bionée into their beauty routine. I also consider an achievement the fact that moms are very serene about applying these gentle ingredients on their babies and on their own skin, and seeing children playing with the lotion and loving the fragrances!

6) What do you like about being a business owner?

As an entrepreneur and work at home mom I love the freedom of being able to make my own schedule so that I can spend more time with my son Gabriel and prepare for the new baby that is on the way, as well as build my new business!

7) Do you have a business success tip in tough economic times?

There is nothing more important than being close to your customers; at Bionée we rate our success by building friendships and relationships with other moms through our playdates. We are also in contact with mom-bloggers, and we try to assist at and attend every mom event we can! I am pregnant with my second child at the moment so I perfectly understand future moms and young moms. I relate to them and they relate to me. There is nothing more important than to understand the needs of your customers and their purchase behaviors:  where she shops, what she eats, what she does in her free time, where she buys diapers from, etc...

8) Do you have a favorite business-building idea(s)?

At Bionée we say “Become who you are” and do not force yourself into roles imposed by others. My business building idea to share, is that you have to know the market you are entering well, inform yourself and evaluate issues that your products may face, be prepared! But most importantly I believe that every successful entrepreneur has to be an expert in his/her domain as well as a good business person. My past experience in the beauty industry was a key factor in the success of Bionée.

9) Do you wish to add any additional comments or tips for our readers?

My tips for a new entrepreneur would be - Be patient because things will happen if you work hard!  And be passionate to inspire others and make them follow you!

10) Goals for your business in 2011 and beyond?

Right now we are trying to bring together moms who want to be part of our adventure and become an entrepreneur like me!  We are currently enlisting passionate mothers and women to join our “Advocate” program ( to promote our products through “educational playdates”.  In the next year we would like to grow and expand this program.  We also have 11 new products in the making that we hope will hit the market soon!

11) Your Name, name of business, web site, other?

Name: Eva Asmar

Business: Bionée Certified Organic Maternity Skin Care

Website:, Facebook:, Twitter:, Blog:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips for Starting a Home-Based Business in a Recession


If you are one of those who has been laid-off, downsized, or fear you are about to be, this may be the time for you to consider joining the ranks of the millions of home-based business owners.

Prepare, Plan, and Persevere

No matter if you expect or expected a job loss, or if you were unceremoniously “dumped” from your position, you may still suffer an emotional “shock” of sorts. However, #1 if you see your unemployment time as an opportunity to follow a work “passion” or “dream,” you will be more likely to recover faster and accomplish the goal of being a successful home-business owner. Here are common-sense tips to help you succeed in a home-business startup if you are either unemployed or may be shortly:


Even though you may want to start a home business immediately, taking preparation steps like the following will help insure your venture’ success:
*Research a home business idea(s) that interests you to see if a profitable market exists (potential customers).
*Assess what marketable skills you have gained through job and volunteer experiences. You could write a resume’ for yourself and then list all the skills you have gained from each paid and volunteer experience and decide which will be best utilized in your business. Choose a business idea you really like, because you will be working many hours to make your home-business startup a success.
*“Match” your skills with your desired business idea. Decide if you will need more training, education, and/or work experience in order to pursue your chosen venture.
*Consult with your family and discuss the impact a new business could have on their lives in terms of your time and the money that will be involved. Enlist their help and reward them accordingly.
*Gather your business’ experts such as a lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, business coach, computer consultant, financial advisor and other professionals before you start-up so you will know whom to turn to when you need their advice.
*Legal Considerations. Find out from local, state, and federal agencies what licenses, permits, you need, and if there are zoning considerations for your home business. Determine your business’ structure.

Essential Plans

The adage that explains why many businesses go under, ‘Businesses do not plan to fail; they fail to plan,’ really is true. Do not neglect to create the following plans:

*Business Plan – A business plan is a blueprint or strategic plan for you to follow in setting up and managing a business. If you need help in writing one, seek a small business consultant, or use books and software like Linda Pinson’s Anatomy of a Business Plan and Automate Your Business Plan.

*Financial Plan – This will include two parts: personal financial planning; and one for your business start-up and on-going finances. Eliminate as much personal debt as you can and try to have at least six months living expenses saved before you start a business full-time. Do not underestimate your business’ startup costs. Make sure your business’ prices factor in your overhead and other expenses, your profit margin, and a salary for yourself.

*Marketing Plan – Experts recommend that a new business owner spend 50 to 75 percent of his/her time in marketing their new business. Take time to plan your marketing strategies. Research your competition and strive to find your business’ market “niche” –what will make your business unique in its offerings to its customers.


True entrepreneurs persevere and never give up until they find the answers that lead them to business success. Persevere until you…

*Conquer your fear of failure. – Many successful entrepreneurs have failed in their previous startup ventures, but learned from their mistakes and have gone on have profitable enterprises. *Learn to manage your business. – Monitor your business’ cashflow, and its expenditures and profits, and make adjustments as needed to keep your businesses thriving and going forward.

*Know how to stay current. Know the latest in trends and technology in your industry and be flexible to change if the profits are to be made in those new directions. Trade groups and business publications are good sources of this information.

*Put customers’ needs first and have lots of them! Maintain a quality product, service, and treat all customers with respect. This policy will help develop loyalty with current customers and attract new ones, without having to lower your prices in the face of competition or in a slow economy.

Working a Home Business Venture Around Your Day Job

If you fear that your days in your current job may be numbered, you might consider starting a venture now and operating it inconspicuously while at your day job. Make use of mobile technology, such as a cell phone, a laptop computer with a business e-mail address, and other devices that you can use in during work and lunch breaks to market your business and reach customers. In using time more efficiently, many new entrepreneurs discover they can free up time for business tasks they can do at their current job or later when they are home. (SEE article, “Sneak a Part-Time Home Business Around Your Day Job”).

First Customers—Your Former Boss, Co-Workers, Clients

Many home business entrepreneurs’ first clients are the people with whom they have worked for or with previously. If you have been a valued employee, but management was forced to let you go, you may be able to work for them as an independent contractor. If your business will compete with your former company, it is best to first check with an experienced attorney about non-compete contract issues, protected trade secrets, and former client business relationships so you will not be sued. However, if your business does not compete, people you know will be more likely to become your first customers because generally, people like doing business with people they know.

Possible Start-Up Funds from Your Existing or Previous Job

Realize that it make take six months or longer for your business to turn a profit, so the more funds you have available for your new venture, the longer your business can survive. If you are still employed, check to see if you will be getting a severance or retirement package, and if you will qualify for unemployment compensation that could help finance a business or pay living expenses. You may be able to cash in company stock or use money form your 401K, but know there may be restrictions and possible taxes to pay.

It may be daunting to start a business, especially when a regular paycheck is no longer a reality, but with careful planning and preparation, your home business can provide a good living and you and your family a good life.

SIDEBAR: Resources Close to Home

Some of the best resources for information for your home business startup can be found right in your own neighborhood. Here are some of the best:

1) Public and College Libraries – Provides business-related books, publications, directories, and Internet access (if you do not have a computer).

2) Business Owners’ Organizations – Local chamber of commerce organizations, women’s business clubs, and local chapters of trade associations can provide you with networking opportunities, business tips and and possibly mentors to guide you.

3) Government: – Offices of local agencies, state (or province) officials, and regional offices of federal agencies such as Women’s Business Development Centers (, Small Business Development Centers (, and offices of SCORE ( can provide you with free or low-cost business consulting.
Previously published in HOME BUSINESS® Magazine, an international publication for the growing and dynamic home-based market. Available on newsstands, in bookstores and chain stores, and via subscriptions ($15.00 for 1 year, six issues). Visit
Read other similar articles that I wrote for Home Business Magazine about starting in tough times: (

“Selecting the Right Business for Tough Economic Times: Match Your Talents, Skills, and Interests with an Economic Downturn”

“Ten Start-Up Success Tips for a Recession”

                                                                        # # #

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Profiles of Entrepreneurs

If you are a micro-small business owner-entrepreneur, and wish to be featured here on this blog, contact me. Here are the interview questions:

1) What inspired you to start your business(es)?

2) A brief description of your business(es)?

3) Your most effective method(s) of promoting your businesses?

4) Your best customers?

5) What do you consider your best business achievement?

6) What do you like about being a business owner?

7) Do you have a business success tip in tough economic times?

8) Do you have a favorite business-building idea(s)?

9) Do you wish to add any additional comments or tips for our readers?

10) Goals for your business in 2011 and beyond?

11) Your Name, name of business, web site, other?

Looking forward to hearing from you (post a comment below).

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Are YOU the Next Millionaire Next Door?"

"Are YOU the Next Millionaire Next Door? - Home Business Magazine ( - August, 2011 Issue

This was my fifth year writing this feature, interviewing home-based business owners whose businesses have grossed a million+ dollars. Here are those featured:

#1 - Samy Liechti - Founder, - providing customers with "sockscriptions" of black socks.

#2 - Heather Schuck, Glamajama children's clothing -

#3 - Marc Ostrofsky, Author & Serial Internet Entrepreneur -

#4 - Dan Engel, E-commerce services -

#5 - Shelly Palmer - media and technology expert -

#6 - Dina Amico-Kriescher - stuffed animal workshops -

#7 - Mark Faust - author, speaker, business consultant -

#8 - Stacy DeBroff - information for Moms; brand consulttant -

#9 - Dr. Farrah Gray - author, speaker, publisher -

#10 & #11 - Collette Larsen & Zachary Ross - direct sales -

#12- Paul Mann - pet boarding business opportunity -

This issue is presently for sale at major magazine and newsstands. Read their profiles to encourage you to start your own successful home-based business!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Successful Entrepreneurial Couples Do

With affordable technology and home networking, many couples conduct two or more home-based businesses. Here is how they do it:

*Assess their individual strengths and skills an match them accordingly to their businesses' tasks.

*Integrate their businesses with their family, but do not permit them to interfere with the sheer enjoyment of their families' activities.

*Demonstrate respect and appreciation for each others' contributions to their businesses with positive comments and support instead of criticisms and rdiicule.

*Regularly plan business goals together.

*Share house-hold chores and child-raising.

An example of a successful entrepreneurial couple: Leisa and Mark Bates, Owners BellaSvago™ Enterprises;;

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Will Your Family Be Involved in Your Entrepreneurial Plans?

 As a new business may demand even more time than a job outside the home, it may cause conflicts and build resentment between you and your spouse and other family members. Here are some guidelines to help you prevent this from happening.
Working with a Spouse
     A husband-wife team who write historical romance novels under one pseudonym, share in raising their children and in developing their writing career. In working together they say, “We want our life relationship with one another to be distinctly separate from our work relationship. This is sometimes tough, but this is how we go about it.”
     “We consider each novel that we write as a “product.” As collaborative writers, each of us is contributing to the process of creating that product. However, we force ourselves to remember that ‘we’ are not the same as the ‘product.” In separating ourselves (or at least distancing ourselves) from the product, we avoid investing all of our feelings of ‘self-worth in it. Sure, we produced it, but we also have other things more important in our lives. By thinking this way, we make ourselves less defensive about our contribution, and our relationship as a couple can continue to operate and develop (and maybe even flourish) on an entirely separate plane of existence.” 
     Before a couple enters into a business together, partners should ask one another the following questions:
*“Do you have the kind of relationship that thrives on plenty of time spent together?
*Does distance make the heart grow fonder, or do you prefer to spend as much time as possible with your mate?
*Do you each have unique skills and interests to contribute to the venture, and a shared passion for the product or type of business?
*Have you worked out a way to resolve conflict?
*Are you willing to share power and control with your spouse?
*Have you considered the financial risk of “putting all of your eggs in one basket?

“Remember this," says one entrepreneurial partner. "Rewards for entrepreneurial partners are enormous—and so are the risks. Be sure that you are coupling for the right reasons, and that you communicate up front about your concerns and fears. And then, keep the communication open as you proceed."

SIDEBAR: What Successful Entrepreneurial Couples Do...
*Assess their strengths and skills and match them accordingly to the business’ tasks.
*Integrate the business with the family but not allowing it to interfere with the sheer enjoyment of family life activities.
*Show appreciation for each person’s contribution to the business with positive comments and support instead of criticism and ridicule.
*Regularly plan their business’ goals together.
*Share household chores and child-rearing.

Next: Tips for Two Entrepreneurs Working Under One Roof

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Timing Your Business' Launch Date

From Part-Time to Full-Time does not happen overnight—it is a process.
     When Joanne was divorced twelve years ago, she realized she needed to get a job to help support herself and her children. Joanne was skilled in quilting, but it was too labor intensive and she needed to bring in cash to meet expenses. She took a job selling wallpaper in a home decorating store where she became familiar with wallpapers and paints.

     When one of the customers asked Joann to paper her walls, she decided to give it a try. This first customer was a dean of a women’s college and encouraged Joann to go into business for herself and advised her to attend the business seminars held at a nearby Small Business Development Center. “They gave invaluable advice about beginning a business,” she says. In the meantime others began to ask Joann if she would paper and paint their houses.

     For six months Joann worked at one job and her papering and painting business until it became just too much. “Working two jobs, and being a mother was more than I could handle,” she says. “I liked my business, so I stepped out in faith, and went full-time.”

Overcome Your Apprehension with Adequate Preparation
     The better-prepared you are, the more you will know the risks of your undertaking. Take the time to research and prepare for going full-time. A woman home business expert said at a talk I attended, “If you are going to sell apple pies to restaurants, try baking 100 pies in a week, to see if this is something you really want to do, full-time.”

Be Self-Confident
     You will have “nay-sayers” who may try to discourage you, but if you believe in yourself, you will be more likely than someone who is overwhelmed by self-doubts.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Options to Consider Before You Quit Your Day Job

Options to Consider Before You Quit Your Day Job
     You may have dreamed of starting a home business for various reasons, but before you tell your boss off and quit your day job, consider these tips:
1. While at Your Present Job:
*If there are company benefit plans, see when they will increase in value and if and when you might receive money from them.
*Schedule routine physical, dental, or eye examinations covered by your company’s health insurance.  Determine the cost of the health coverage if you had to pay for it.
*Update your references.  If your boss commended you for doing a good job, ask if she would put in writing and placed into your file.
*Take courses, training sessions, etc., paid by your employer that could be used in a future business.
2. Develop a Financial Plan:
*Make sure you have good credit.  If not, take the time to establish it—preferably while you are still employed.
*Save money.  Try living on the bare minimum to see if you can get by on less money when you start your business. Put the savings toward your venture.  Moonlight at a part-time job.  Experts recommend you save two years’ living expenses—the average time for a business to become profitable—before quitting to start a full-time venture.
*See if you will be getting a severance or retirement package that could help finance a business or pay living expenses. 
3. Self-Evaluation:
*Ask yourself and the honest opinion of others if you have what it takes to be a business owner.  Setting goals, flexibility, self-discipline, confidence to take calculated risks, being willing to market yourself and your business, and others are all important characteristics of an entrepreneur.
*Evaluate your skills and/or education to decide if you need additional training for your venture.
4. Business Start-Up Preparation:
*Write a business plan you could take to a banker.
*Do thorough market research for your business idea.  Use both primary research—asking persons directly for feedback—and secondary research—collecting data and demographic information from business organizations, legislators and government agencies to develop a customer profile and to discover if a market exists.
*Start your business part-time—2/3  of new business owners do.
*Develop a business network of experts and contacts in your industry and in the community in which you will be doing business.  These will be invaluable in getting referrals and clients.
*Set goals—long range and short-term—to establish a plan of action.
5. Family Preparation
*Discuss with your partner and family the impact a business start-up could have on their lives.  Their backing will be important to your business’ success.
     You will need some sort of support until your business can sustain itself.  By heeding practical tips like these, your business will be more likely to succeed when you do go out on your own.

Further Discussion:

When to go Solo
     You can go full-time with your business if... have set a commitment of time to dedicate to launching this business. have the savings (six months to two years), a life partner’s income, or  the financial backing you need to sustain your cost of  living expenses until the business becomes profitable. have the funds and/or financial backing of friends, acquaintances, bank loans to  start and sustain your business until it makes a profit. have written a business plan to guide your business. have the customers who want or need your business service or product. have a support team of mentors, business experts, and networking friend
Timing your Business’ Launch date

From Part-Time to Full-Time does not happen overnight—it is a process.

     When Joanne was divorced twelve years ago, she realized she needed to get a job to help support herself and her children. Joanne was skilled in quilting, but it was too labor intensive and she needed to bring in cash to meet expenses. She took a job selling wallpaper in a home decorating store where she became familiar with wallpapers and paints.
     When one of the customers asked Joann to paper her walls, she decided to give it a try. This first customer was a dean of a women’s college and encouraged Joann to go into business for herself and advised her to attend the business seminars held at a nearby Small Business Development Center. “They gave invaluable advice about beginning a business,” says Kaiser. In the meantime others began to ask Joann if she would paper and paint their houses.
     For six months Joann worked at one job and her papering and painting business until it became just too much. “Working two jobs, and being a mother was more than I could handle,” she says. “I liked my business, so I stepped out in faith, and went full-time.”
Overcome Your Apprehension with Adequate Preparation
     The better-prepared you are, the more you will know the risks of your undertaking. Take the time to research and prepare for going full-time. Phyllis Gillis, one of the first to write about this home business movement (Entrepreneurial Mothers), said at a talk I attended, “If you are going to sell apple pies to restaurants, try baking 100 pies in a week, to see if this is something you really want to do, full-time.”
Be Self-Confident
     You will have “nay-sayers” who may try to discourage you, but if you believe in yourself, you will be more likely than someone who is overwhelmed by self-doubts.

For Further Information:
"This Is Your Life, Not A Dress Rehersal: Proven Pinciples for Creating The Life of Your
Dreams" by Jim Donovan -


Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Do Market Research for Your Home-Small Business Idea

SUCCESS SECRET #13: Learn how to market research for your home business idea to determine if there are potential customers.

Finding Your Customers; Your Niche
     No matter what business idea you consider, if you do not have customers for your service or products, your business cannot succeed. To determine this you have to identify your target market—the customers most likely to patronize your business—and if there is a “niche”—some service or product that is not yet being provided to your target customers.
     Establish parameters of your Target Market by asking the following:
1) What are their demographics?
2) What are their needs and requirements?
3) What benefits do they want?
4) What are their concerns about your type of product or service?
5) Who is your competition?
   Knowing your Target Audience will minimize the risks of doing business. It will uncover and identify potential problems. It will help you recognize opportunities in the marketplace that otherwise would be missed. It can save you time and money by focusing your energy on the potential BUYERS.”

How To Analyze Your Competitors
     In your quest to find Target Customers, you need to analyze your competitors and what they are and are not providing their customers. Here are some suggestions:
1) Study their advertisements to see which services or products they are pushing. Get copies of their promotional materials. Then see if there is a service or product they do not provide.
2) Do informal surveys of your target customers at business trade shows or events, or via the telephone, flyers, word-of-mouth, ads in the newspapers or direct mailings with response cards.
3) Test a product and or service similar to your competitor’s by offering a free consultation or sample and then ask for feedback about its quality.
4) Be bold and honest and contact your competitors directly and ask them if there are customers’ jobs that they cannot or prefer not to handle. My husband and I who did lawn care on the side a couple of years ago discovered a niche of mowing the tiny lawns of townhouse owners. We received the tip from an owner of a large lawn and tree care business. He told us it was not worth his time to mow small lawns and preferred to mow business sites. We had more business than we could handle mowing these little lawns!
     Call your competitors, and tell them you will be grateful for any smaller referrals and that you are worthy of their recommendations.

How Be Smarter Than Your Competitors
     No matter what business you start you are likely to have competition from other businesses for some (or all) of the same customers. Here are some tips to help you get an advantage:
*Be available more hours or at times when your competitors are not. For example, a child care business has hours on weekends or some evenings for parents who are students or work evening shifts.
*Surprise your customer with little extras. Provide free estimates with no obligation. Send them thank you notes or congratulatory cards on special occasions. Offer them special sales. Sue, who has a home-based salon offers refreshments and free handmade ornaments to all customers during holiday seasons.
*Be honest with your customers. If you made a mistake, take steps to rectify it. Tell them immediately if you cannot handle a certain request and have a list of others they can call. When we did the lawn care, we also had requests to rototill gardens or trim trees. We did not have the equipment to do that, but we did have a list of other recommended business owners who performed those services.
*Treat all customers with respect. You do not have to like every customer, but you do have treat them as persons and with professionalism and common courtesy.
*Communicate! Be available for your customers and be sure to get back to them promptly if they have a question. A lawyer with a home office says, “I often answer my own business telephone even though I have a secretary. My clients are surprised and pleased that they can often talk directly to me.”
*Let them know if you are having a problem completing a project. Make sure you understand exactly what the customer wants—do not assume anything! Send out “customer report cards” for their feedback.
Next: "Before You Quit Your Day Job"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Avoiding Work-at-Home & Other Business Opportunity Scams

SUCCESS SECRET #11: Learn how to avoid home business scams.

      You know the old adage: “If it sounds too good to be usually is!”  However, many persons frustrated with their present jobs and who would love to stay at home and work, fall victim to the increasing number of work-at-home scams that appear on the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and other media. The National Consumer League estimates more than $200 billion is lost to home business scams and fraud each year!

      Be suspect of all ads like the ones saying they pay persons to  “stuff envelopes, assemble crafts at home,” or those full-page ads that never tell you exactly what work the person in the picture is doing on their kitchen table (where else?) but that she has made millions doing this simple and easy job and all you need to do is send them $49.95 and you can know how to do it too!   

Here are some tell-tale signs of a home business opportunity scam:

1. Promises of huge profits running this business in your spare time.
2. Asks you for money before they send you any of the business details.
3. Refuses to give the names (addresses, telephone numbers, etc.) of others who have invested in this business opportunity.
4. Requests money for work-at-home sources.
5. Very willing to negotiate the price of the home business opportunity if you complain about the high prices—these scam artists want to get whatever money you are willing to spend!
6. Refuses to send you a demo disk if they are selling business software.
7. Wants to sell you the business opportunity but offer no advice how you will market this business in your community.
8. Pressures you to sign a contract without giving you time to check out the company.


     One older couple in my community took a second mortgage on their home to invest $15,000 in a business opportunity which included a computer and software for three different business packages (all out-of-date). They were promised free support in their business start-up. This couple even flew out to the company and interviewed the owners and observe their headquarters.

     Unfortunately, this couple had no experience or training in any of the business packages they purchased or knew anything about business start-up and marketing. They also had not done any market research in their community to see if such business services were needed. It would have been much better if they had taken that $15,000 and invested in their own business venture—one they knew and one that had a market existing for it! (Note: this company was finally charged with false advertising and ordered to pay back the money it took, but the victims only received a small percentage of their investments.)

     You may be anxious—even desperate to start a business, but take the time to thoroughly research your business ideas and do not spend a single penny until you are satisfied with the credentials of the company with whom you are dealing. Better yet—avoid them altogether!  Better to “invest in yourself,” and start a business based on your own expertise and strengths.  Chambers of Commerce, home-based business groups, U. S. Small Business Administration’s small business development and women’s business development centers, etc., all can help you get information you need to start a successful (and legitimate) venture in your own community!    

Suggested Resources

"Scam-Proof Your Life" by Sid Kirchheimer (book)
* - FTC info about business opportunity scams
* - check out opportunities


Next topic: How to conduct market research for your home-business idea.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finding Spin-Offs to Your Business

Do not limit yourself to just one product, service, or business.
     Sometimes a home business can offer more opportunities than just one business.

Options for you to consider.
Spin-offs: Polly made different brands of potpourri mixes to be sold in various sewn items. She loved the
fragrances so much that she decide to incorporate them into creating handmade soaps which she sells to various craft and gift shops.

One for profit, One for Your Passion: Regina uses one home business to help her fund another. She cleans homes during the
week and on the weekends sells her own specially-designed jewelry at artisan shows and specialty shops which fulfills her creative outlets.

Seasonal: One woman featured in a business magazine has three businesses based on her area: She is a ski instructor in the winter months; grows fresh herbs to sell to restaurants; and makes flavored vinegars which she sells to gourmet cooking shops.
Here are some tips in handling multiple ventures:

*Keep each business completely separate (even if they are related) especially with your records, advertising, accounts, etc. Consult regularly with your accountant to monitor your financial statements.

*Have a separate business plan for each venture including short-and-long-range goals, market research and planning,  and review them regularly.

*Contract with a home-based, virtual assistant for a few hours a week to help you keep up-to-date with correspondence so you can concentrate on the business’ services, production and marketing.

*Use customer feedback and market research to (1) improve and expand each business and (2) possibly find lucrative spin-offs in these businesses, also.
     As I tell women in my business workshops, one man in my community has eighteen businesses, so why not you someday?

SIDEBAR: Six Ways to Find Spin-Offs in Your Current Business(es)

1. Self-publish your expertise in books, booklets, or publications. People love to read success tips by someone who has “made it.” Offer these for sale especially in your industry. Patricia Gallagher ran a successful at-home day care business and then put her practical experiences into a book which she sold to two different publishers.
2. Create software of templates, mini-programs, or training manuals for other entrepreneurs in your industry based on your experiences.
3. Offer yourself as a workshop leader, keynote speaker, or panel participant for industry conferences.
4. At the end of the talks, or for persons who are not able to attend conferences, offer audio or videotapes or transcripts of the tapes.
5. Write articles (online social sites or through print-media) and/or columns in industry or consumer publications that will reach your target audiences.
6. Look to see if your local cable or radio show will allow you to have a regular show about on your expertise.

Next post: Avoiding Home-Business Scams

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Determining the Best Home-Based Franchise for You

Here are several considerations in evaluating a franchise for your home-business setting:

*Request the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) and copies of their franchise
agreements that interest you, to acquire a  better understanding of their operations.
Make a list of questions to ask about anything that is unclear.

*Visit several of the operating franchises and talk to their franchisees
for their feedback about working with the franchise company.

*Visit the franchise's headquarters and ask permission to observe
the training sessions.

*Ask about the company's expansion plans and whether their franchises
have exclusive territories; or do they compete against one another.

*Ask if this franchise can be operated from a home-based office.

*Consult with a lawyer familiar with franchise agreements.

Investing in a franchise provides the franchisee (the investor) with
a turnkey operation and a company's backing.

Suggested Resource:

International Franchise Association -

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fun Holiday Money-Making Ideas

Though the November and December holidays are over, here are some
money-making ideas to help those who have too many items on their
"to do" lists for any holiday:

*Make holiday cookies, cakes, treats, snack trays (need a food license).

*Do on- and off-line shopping.

*Find the best travel bargains.

*Decorate clients' offices, personal homes, realtors' for-sale houses.

*Use your artist skills to window paint holiday figures for businesses with storefronts.

*Address holiday cards.

*Offer sitter services for parents; pet-owners.

*Take seasonal pet photos for personal holiday cards.

*Organize parties.

Your idea?

Next: Tips on Investing in a Franchise