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A Home-Based Business Online
Issue 96 : August 20
Sent to 10,854 Opt-In Subscribers
Editor: Elena Fawkner
Publisher: AHBBO Publishing
Contact By Email
IN THIS ISSUE
Hello again and a warm welcome to all the new subscribers who
have joined us since the last issue!
First off, I want to share with you my find of the year. For those
of you who run your own mailing list (ezine, direct mail, whatever)
but want to manage it in-house rather than using an outside service
(and you get what you pay for), I'm sure that, like me, one of your
greatest frustrations has been finding software that is cost-effective,
easy to use, powerful and with the functionality you require (at a
minimum, automatic processing of subscribe/unsubscribe requests,
the ability to block certain domains or specific addresses, the
ability to handle an unlimited number of lists and subscribers).
Well, this week I found it. It's add2it's Mailman Pro. Best $69 I've
spent in a long time.
And one other really neat feature (that I didn't know I needed until I
had it) is the ability to notify the subscriber in the welcome email
the IP address that the subscribe request came from. For those of
you plagued by idiots who subscribe using someone else's email
address to harrass that person (not to mention the hapless ezine
publisher), this is a very useful piece of armory indeed. Publicize
the fact that you record IP addresses and send them to the
"subscriber" and see how many bogus sign-ups you get.
Here's the link (and yes it is an affiliate link - I was so impressed I
signed up as an affiliate).
This week's article is topical following Ford's announcement
Friday that it would be laying off between 4,000 and 5,000
employees from its U.S. operation ... how to create your own
employment security by choosing self-employment for your
Finally, for those of you with bookmarked,
please change your bookmark to AHBBO . Both
sites had been running in tandem until now but as of yesterday,
fawkner.com now does nothing but redirect you to ahbbo.com.
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this week's
Remember, this ezine is for YOU! If you have comments or
suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed, or would
just like to share your experiences with other subscribers, I want
to hear from you. Please send comments, questions and stories
to Contact By Email .
A professional organizer, sometimes called an organizing consultant,
assists clients to organize various aspects of their lives. The
services offered by professional organizers are widely varied and
include cleaning out closets, kitchens, storage areas, bedrooms,
attics and garages, etc.; remodeling closets and storage areas;
rearranging living space to be more aesthetically pleasing and
functional; personal coaching and goal setting; planning, packing
and unpacking for relocation; garage and estate sales; organizing
children and teenagers (yes, you can actually PAY someone to do
this!); errands and personal shopping; computer organizing and
training; setting up filing systems and developing paperflow systems;
information management systems; accounting and bookkeeping;
filing; setting up recordkeeping systems; sorting through paper piles;
paying bills; developing procedures manuals; preparing medical
insurance forms; event planning; disaster preparedness; photo and
memorabilia organization; time management training and seminars
and public speaking.
The clients of professional organizers are as varied as their services
and include individuals in their homes, small and large businesses,
clients with disabilities, clients with attention deficit disorder or
chronic disorganization problems.
All organizers don't do all of these things. Most specialize in one or
more areas. Also, most organizers do not do cleaning or clerical work.
Once a client contacts you, you should conduct an initial consultation
in person or over the phone to assess the client's needs and provide a
time and money estimate for the project. Some organizers do this
consultation for free, others charge a fee. Depending upon the project
size, you may need to provide the client with a verbal or written plan
for the project, and develop a schedule for project completion.
An organizing project requires the participation and cooperation of both
the professional organizer and the client. As the professional organizer,
you will provide solutions, suggestions, choices and methods; do the
physical work; give the client encouragement and support; and tailor
the solution to the client's needs, preferences and lifestyle. The client's
role is to make the time to participate in all steps of the organizing
project; make decisions; be willing to make changes; be willing to do
maintenance once the organizing project is complete.
If you are interested in becoming a professional organizer and have
questions, contact your local chapter of the National Association of
Professional Organizers. If you need more extensive information about
how to become an organizer, ask the nearest chapter if they know of
any workshops in your area. They can also recommend the names of
coaches who will work with you for a fee while you set up your
There are many more ideas like this at the AHBBO Home Business
Ideas page at free home based business ideas with more being
added all the time.
© 2013 Elena Fawkner
"Well, it's happening. My employer, the County Health and Welfare
System, is buying me out. I leave in April, 2013. Seems like a long
time from now, but I know it's really just around the corner. So how
do I evaluate my skills? And how do I begin a new career? And how
do I deal with the fear of the unknown, of the lack of income (other
than the retirement check), of maybe working alone out of this office?"
This is an extract of an email I received this week from an AHBBO
subscriber, Cecily. Just Friday, driving home from work, I heard that
Ford was about to lay off between 4,000 and 5,000 employees from its
U.S. operation. So nothing unusual about Cecily's situation,
unfortunately. Seems like every day we hear of more and more
businesses being "forced" to downsize their workforces. What we
don't hear about every day is what happens to all those displaced
Many people just look for another job, find one and get back into the
ratrace, all the while anxiously monitoring the financial performance of
their new employer, hoping they won't get laid off again. For many,
this is just the way the world works. And it always will be as long as
they continue to work for someone else. Do you really want to live
like this? Well, you don't have to. The solution, albeit not for everyone,
In this article, we look at how to determine whether self-employment
could be for you and how to turn that dream into reality.
As Cecily correctly identified, a personal skills analysis is an important
early step. Your personal skills inventory is only one factor to take
into account when considering whether self-employment may be for
you, however. Equally important are your strengths and weaknesses,
interests, resources, attitude and other personal qualities.
Your personal inventory should encompass at least the following:
=> Skills Assessment
Just because you're good at something does not mean that you
necessarily enjoy it. If you're good at something that bores you to
tears, then don't use that skill as the basis for your new business.
You'll be miserable! But, if what you're good at is something you also
happen to enjoy, then there's a HUGE clue about what your business
should be all about.
When thinking about your skills, think also in terms of skills you don't
presently possess but which you could acquire with a reasonable
investment in training. If acquiring a new skill would equip you to enter
a business that you think you could make succeed, then by all means
acquire that skill.
To come up with an inventory of your particular skills, pull out all of your
old resumes (or create them if you don't have them) and recall what you
did in every job you had. Make a list of your activities and the skills that
were necessary to perform them effectively.
Here's some broad categories to start organizing your thoughts:
* Communication - speaking and writing effectively; listening; expressing
thoughts and ideas; negotiating; persuading; interviewing; editing;
facilitating; responding appropriately.
* Human Relations - motivating; delegating; dispute resolution;
assertiveness; giving credit where due; developing team cohesiveness
and rapport; sensitivity; listening skills; supportiveness; cooperation;
cooperation; developing others.
* Leadership - coordinating and motivating; coaching; counseling;
change agent; conflict resolution; decision making; teaching; managing
groups; multitasking; initiating new ideas and programs.
* Planning - forecasting and predicing; information gathering; needs
analysis; evaluation strategies; acquiring important information; idea
generation; problem identification; brainstorming; problem solving.
* Effectiveness - implementation of decisions; cooperation; policy
enforcement; accepting responsibility; organizing; making decisions;
punctuality; time management; attention to detail; goal attainment;
When considering what strengths you possess that you could draw
and build upon in a business of your own, think in terms not only of
personal qualities such as determination, commitment and dedication
but also to tangibles such as educational qualifications and financial
Just as you did with your strengths, focus on the tangible as well as
the intangible. Examples include zero financial resources, lack of
personal discipline; and poor health.
Values are the things that are important to you and are divided into
two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values relate to what you
will be doing in a day to day sense and how valuable an activity you
perceive that to be in the overall scheme of things. For example, if
your business provides a service to your community's elders and you
perceive this as being of high importance to society, then your business
meets your intrinsic values.
Extrinsic values, on the other hand, refer to the external features of
your business such as your physical environment and profit
By identifying those intrinsic and extrinsic values that are important
to you, and identifying the types of businesses that will satisfy those
values, is an important step in deciding whether a business of your
own is something worth pursuing. For YOU.
Various personality tests have been devised to determine your
personality "type" with the idea that people belonging to certain types
do particularly well in certain careers and businesses. Perhaps the
most prolific basis of personality tests is Jung's Personality Theory,
dividing people into eight personality types: extroverts, introverts,
thinking, feeling, sensing, intuitive, judging and perceptive.
If this interests you, you'll find no end of information online about the
types of occupations and businesses suited to each personality type.
Don't let the results of such a test play a disproportionate role in your
decision-making process, though. Just use it as one of several factors
you take into account.
=> Interests and Hobbies
This one's a real no-brainer but it bears stating. Try and create a
business around something that you're interested in. Although not a
certain rule, you tend to perform better at what you enjoy and to enjoy
what you're good at.
Be sure to look at the other side of the coin too and inventory what
you're NOT interested in. Sometimes knowing what you DON'T want
to do makes it easier to see what you DO want to do.
These include not only financial resources but others such as your
personal relationship network (who do you know who could help you
in your new venture), office equipment and other facilities.
Do you have a "can do", optimistic attitude? Are you determined to
succeed whatever it takes? Do you believe you control your own
destiny or is life a series of random events that happen to you no
matter what you may have planned?
=> Other Personal Qualities
Finally, think about the personal qualities that make you, you. Are
you energetic and motivated, are you resourceful, are you resilient,
realistic and practical, a hard worker?
Once you have completed your personal inventory, sit down and rank
your positives from highest to lowest. Then do the same thing with
your negatives. Once you've ranked your strengths and weaknesses
in this way, you'll have something of a framework within which any
prospective business idea must fit. If your idea requires great strength
in an area where you're weak, toss it. If it requires strength in an area
where you're strong, keep it. This is not a black and white exercise.
Any idea you have will require any combination of skills and strengths.
You must evaluate objectively whether your particular combination of
skills and strengths is enough to compensate for your particular
weaknesses and make a success of the venture.
So, where are you to get the ideas against which to measure your
skills and strengths? First off, bear in mind there are a number of
approaches to starting a business of your own. You may provide
a service; you may manufacture a product; you may distribute a
product manufactured by someone else.
A well-known schematic which sets out all the possible combinations
is as follows:
1. Existing products/services and existing markets.
2. New products/services and existing markets.
3. Existing products/services and new markets.
4. New products/services and new markets.
If you focus on option 1. you face stiff competition. If you focus on
option 4. you have to invent the wheel first. So pay most attention to
options 2. and 3.
Take your skills inventory. What do you know and enjoy the most?
Are you a specialist? Think about what you know. What do people
buy? What do people want but can't buy? What do people buy but
don't like? What are people buying more of? Where do they buy and
when and how?
When you've considered that, look at how you can change existing
products or services to meet an unmet need, to meet a need in a
different, more convenient way, to improve the quality or service. Be
particularly observant and on the lookout for emerging trends (an
aging population, an increasing number of people working from home
etc.) and expanding market niches (e.g., increased reliance by
businesses on outsourced services).
During this process, employ any technique you can think of including
brainstorming, asking people (novel but effective!), read trade magazines
and directories. Focus on your consumer and market, not on your
product. After all, there's no point in building a better mousetrap if no-one
needs or wants one.
By the way, don't forget, when you think in terms of your own business,
self-employment includes independent contracting and consulting.
Perfect outlets for what you know if what you know is in high demand.
Once you have a shortlist of business ideas to play with, start assessing
them as viable business opportunities. This means devoting time and
effort to assessment, research, development and planning.
Examples of the types of activities you should be engaging in here
=> Talk about your product or service with prospective customers.
Is there really demand for your offerings? If so, how strong? How
price sensitive? What sets you apart from your competition?
Find out everything you can about your target market and your
competition already servicing that market. Are price wars common?
If so, you have too much competition. Are there only one or two
big players and no little ones? If so, the barriers to entry are too
high. Look for markets where there is healthy competition between
product/service providers but where profit margins are reasonable.
=> Analyze your Competition
Who are they, how are they structured, how long have they been
in business, what are their respective market shares, what sets
How would you start out? Can you start out part-time before you
leave your paid job? Can you work from home? Will you start
from scratch or buy and existing business or franchise? How will
you market your business?
=> Prepare Projections
Work out what your expenses are likely to be and how much revenue
you need to be able to generate to break even. Then work out roughly
how much revenue you need to make a predetermined amount of profit
(remembering to factor in the cost of your time and finance expenses
such as loan repayments).
How realistic are your revenue objectives? Are they attainable?
Over what timeframe?
PLANNING AND LAUNCH
Finally, once you've identified an idea that makes it past the first cut
(i.e. everything you've done to date), do the whole idea assessment
routine again but this time being much more detailed and specific. At
the end of this process you need to be able to produce a solid business
plan, one you can take to the bank if necessary. Even if you're not
going to need outside financing, do your formal business plan anyway.
It will help you ensure you've covered all the bases and left nothing out.
By the time you finish your business plan, you should know your
business inside out.
All that's left is to put your plan into action and launch!
Not surprisingly, the whole process from personal inventory to launch
is not something you can do in a week. Ideally, it's something you will
be able to start BEFORE you lose your job since it will likely take you
several months. But the returns on your investment can be substantial.
Do it right and do it well and you will create for yourself your own
employment, never again to be at the mercy of someone else to
determine your fate.
But it's not an easy road. Self-employment is not a safe route. It
rewards the risk-takers and the resilient. You may not succeed on
your first attempt. But, as with anything in life, where there's a will
there's a way. If you are truly determined to create your own security,
nothing compares to putting your destiny back where it belongs - in
your own two hands.
Hopefully this article answers the first two of Cecily's questions. As
for the last two, "And how do I deal with the fear of the unknown, of the
lack of income (other than the retirement check), of maybe working
alone out of this office?", by following the steps outlined above, you
will go a long way to removing the fear of the unknown by replacing it
with something that is no longer unknown. After all, each of us has
unique skills and experiences that can be turned into opportunity
(business or otherwise). Even if you ultimately conclude that a
business of your own is not for you, the very process outlined above
literally forces you to take stock of your strengths and skills, thereby
better preparing you for the challenge of finding the next position.
So, from one who was laid off (in May 2013), to those of you who have
been laid off or are expecting to be, as they say, when life hands you
a lemon, make lemonade. Or as the old Buddhist saying goes: "The
deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus."
** Reprinting of this article is welcome! **
This article may be freely reproduced provided that: (1) you
include the following resource box; and (2) you only mail to a
100% opt-in list. (Articles are no longer being made available
via autoresponder due to large numbers of bounced mails due
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Here's the resource box to use if reprinting this article:
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
practical home business ideas for the work-from-home
4. Frequently Asked Questions
"Hi Elena. I'm developing my own website and I keep hearing
about these new "smart tags". What are they and why is
everyone so down on them? Thanks. Elmo"
So-called smart tags are yet another Microsoft innovation. This
new technology supposedly allows an advertiser to "buy" a
keyword and have a clickable icon appear next to every instance
of that keyword. Even if that keyword happens to appear on
The reason everyone's getting antsy is that when the site visitor
clicks on one of these icons, they're taken away from your
site and to the advertiser's site. In other words, you lose a lot of
How real a threat this is remains to be seen. It's hard to imagine
that anyone, even Microsoft, could get away with such out and
out piracy, but stranger things have happened.
So, assuming the threat itself is real, what can you do about it?
Supposedly (and I'm relaying second hand information here),
inserting the following tag between the <head> and </head> tags
of each of your webpages will prevent smart tags displaying on
<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
For what it's worth folks.
5. Subscription Management
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7. Contact Information
Elena Fawkner, Editor
A Home-Based Business Online
Contact By Email
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