Monday, October 26, 2009

Starting your own business, using your natural given talents

Do you remember that homemade doll that Aunt Sally gave you?  How about the homemade stationery your cousin made for you for your birthday? Or the hand tooled leather purse or belt that your son made for you?  The picture that Grandma hand painted that hangs proudly in your living room?  That wooden wagon or rocking horse that your Grandfather gave you when you were little?

Perhaps you are a person who has natural craft talents that you may not even be aware of yourself that you can sell.

Have you ever given a homemade gift to someone and had them say to you "you really should sell this" or "I can't believe that you actually made this yourself."

As our economy tightens, so does our buying power but also so does our desire to help our fellow countrymen.  There seems to be a big influx of people wanting to "buy American" right now.  They are looking specifically for products that are made here in the United States. They are also looking for items that are basically nostalgic, which bring back fond memories of better times or of their own youth.

I've heard many people speak of "days gone by" and how many of the natural talents that were once taught either in school or passed down from mother to daughter or father to son are no longer done.I know personally that if you asked either of my daughter's how to darn a sock they would laugh because neither of them would have the faintest idea on how to do it. The skills of darning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting, and embroidering have all seemed to but disappeared. How many know how to make homemade butter, jams and jellies, do canning and preserving of food products. How many would have the slightest idea on how to make their own soaps or candles or make your own yarn and do your own weaving? Do you paint, make your own pottery or jewelry? Can you bake a cake, plan a party, make a piece of clothing?

The same with the skills that were passed from father to son, they too seem to have gone by the wayside.  How many young boys know the art of fishing and which type of bait to use, tracking game such as deer or rabbits, how to set a trap or shoot a rifle, gut a fish, dress out a deer or skin a rabbit for food?  Do many know how to tan hides or tool leather goods? A handful, if we are lucky.   How many have been taught the art of woodworking?  Do they know how to use carpentry tools or mechanical tools? Could they build a birdhouse or a bench or fix a car?

I know that I myself am lacking in many of the above skills, especially when it comes to the culinary skills. I hardly knew how to boil water when I first got married!

As a teenager, I knew a young man who was an excellent magician. He started his own business doing magic shows at childrens parties. His brother and a group of friends put together a band and they started playing at parties, weddings and high school dances.

A friend of my mother's came to America from France as a WWII bride and spoke little english, but she was an excellent seamstress and started her own business making and altering clothes for people just by word of mouth, operating out of her home. Her business became so well known, she eventually opened up her own shop. 

What I am trying to get you to do is make you realize that you do have some natural given talents that are saleable.

You will need to do some researching to find out the laws in your particular state about getting a license for your products. Most states will require you to get a business license and collect sales tax from your customers and forward them to the state either quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

If you produce food products, many states will require that you have a separate commercial kitchen to prepare your products, not allowing you to use your own personal kitchen.  You will be required to have a health permit and inspections either by the city or state health department. You will need to get the guidelines for labeling the contents of your products as to the ingredients and calorie content.

When it comes to making clothing, you will need to be sure if making items for infants that you follow guidelines on using materials with flame retardants when it comes to making night wear.   Be careful using licensed materials such as disney prints or college insignia prints when making products for resale. You may be in violation of copyright laws and subject to fines.

If you make pottery goods, you will need to be sure of the properties of the clay, that if making products that will be eaten off of that there is nothing in them that will harm a person such as lead content.

When starting your very own business, be sure to put together a good business plan. Launching your own business without one is like a ship without a rudder and a sail.  Depending on how tightly you structure the business plan will help keep your business on target, help you reach your goals and be the sail to your business ship. Also having a good business plan is an asset if you need to go to a lending institution to apply for operating capital.  They can see your projections in black and white of what you feel the potential profits are for your business over a period of time. You should have figures together for years one through seven as this is when most new businesses will fail if they are not capitalized properly or structured soundly.

I guess what I am trying to say is what might sound like a wonderful idea on paper could not turn out so well if not thoroughly thought out and researched ahead of time but if you have done your homework and it all looks good, proceed ahead and launch your dream business.

Reference Resources:  Check your public library for books on how to sell your crafts, Amazon Books and Borders Books also carry a nice selection of books on the subject.
Check the Internet for articles.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So you want to work from home?

Oh how so many of us dream of working at home, in our "jammies" and slippers. It really can be more than just a dream and become a reality! With today's economy and more and more people being laid off from work, searching for new employment is becoming more difficult since many "brick and mortar" companies are not hiring right now.

There are all different types of positions available to work at home and luckily a wide variety of people with the skills to fill these different positions.

Perhaps you like Customer Service or Sales, while others like to do transcriptions and data entry.

Lets speak of some of the requirements needed before you start working at home.

First of all, you must be self motivated, first and foremost!

You need to enjoy working independently. Many companies allow you to set your own schedule working as an independent contractor, while others you are considered an employee and will need to work a set schedule that you have agreed upon.

A quiet place to work is a must. If you have children, working while they are at school, down for naps or in the evenings when someone else can watch them or they are sleeping is important.

You need to have a fast computer with at least 1 GB of memory to work for most companies.

You will need to have DSL because dial-up or satellite connections will not work for most companies.There are a few exceptions on the satellite, but none that I know of will allow you to use a dial-up connection.

A good headset. Many prefer Plantronics but search for one that is comfortable. You can find both single ear and dual ear headsets. Be sure to get one that is noise canceling!

You will need a separate land line (one connected to the wall) with which to work. It can not have any additional features such as call waiting, caller id, call forwarding or voice mail.

Many people are now using cell phones as their primary phone line which is fine but you will need this secondary line to work from home. I personally use AT&T and my basic phone service runs about $18 per month. I also use the base package DSL which runs $25 per month.

Be prepared to submit a resume along with your application.
Most companies will charge a small fee, from $30-50 to do a background check on you once you have passed the initial screening process.

Most companies will be giving you on the job training in order to work for their company. Some will be self paced, with tests or quizzes at the end.

Many companies will continue to have ongoing training, in the form of meetings on the internet through what is known as web-ex or where you dial in for conferences for additional training and assistance.

Most companies have mid-management personnel who will be your contacts for assistance in performing your job.

Working as an Independent Contractor

There are many advantages as well as some disadvantages to working as an independent contractor. The one thing that I like about it is that I can set my own hours. Being one who does function well at 8AM, I prefer to start my work day later and am willing to work into the wee hours overnight. I like the ability to take breaks and go do something else and not be tied into a work environment for a steady 8 hours each day. There are also times when I can work 10 hours or more in a given day while on other days I might only be able to work 1 or 2 hours.

As an independent contractor, I am not tied into a 40 hour work week. I can work more or less as to my choosing.

You will be responsible for all of your own taxes, filing a 1099 form. You do have the advantages of writing off your home office and any products and equipment that you purchase in performing your job. You can also write off a portion of your actual home's expenses, such as heating, cooling, the office phone, etc.

Work At Home Employee

With this type of position, the company you work for will be supplying you with a W-4 withholding form and they will be picking up part of the tab for your withholding allowances and they will also be withholding your share from your paycheck.

You are usually limited to a 40 hour work week and you work according to a schedule that the two of you have agreed upon.

Starting your own business from home

Many types of skills are adaptable to you starting your own work at home business.

For instance, someone with construction background could start their own home renovations business, work with banks or mortgage companies to repair repossessed homes for resale.

Someone with medical background could be contacting doctors or hospitals about outsourcing medical transcription or medical coding, processing insurance claims for them.

Good organizing skills could be used to assist someone get their homes organized or their businesses organized.

Of course you will need to check with your state regarding proper business licenses and bonding that might be required.

Where to start looking for work

Here are a few of my favorite websites to go to to look for work. They have listings of many companies and they screen them well to be sure they are not scams. Which is Work At Home Mom and one of the first sites I visited when I started working at home

These will get you started in your job search

Sign up today to follow this blog so you will be notified of new posts