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05/07/2010
IconThe Graduation Speech Your Kids Will Never Hear By Cliff Ennico Members of the Class of 2004: I was sorry to hear that the children#146;s TV show host who was to have been your commencement speaker today had to bow out at the last minute. I was delighted, however, when the Trustees called me about an hour ago and asked me to fill in. While I know some of you already have jobs and some (OK most of you) do not, I know that all of you are wondering today what your lives are going to be like. There are two things you need to know about your future. First, whatever dreams you hope to fulfill in your lives, you won#146;t be able to do them until you are making a living. Your first priority is to achieve financial security, and it may well take you the next 50 years to achieve it. If you thought that was bad, here#146;s the second thing. It has never been a more challenging time to make a living in America. Many of your parents worked for large corporations, but you cannot count on them any longer to provide you with a lifetime living. Today#146;s computer technology has eliminated the need for large corporate staffs. Our global economy often forces corporations to hire people overseas who can work for a fraction of the salaries and benefits their American competitors need. If only Americans can do the job, many companies prefer to hire them as independent contractors who will not receive benefits, health insurance or other employee #147;perks#148;. And in today#146;s volatile economy even the most #147;employee friendly#148; company can be taken over by a competitor, lose a key product due to obsolescence, or fail due to poor management. The Government won#146;t be there to bail you out. Social Security, Medicare and other government programs that helped your parents either won#146;t be there when you are ready for them, or they will be so scaled back that only the most poverty-stricken Americans will qualify for them. Hopefully that won#146;t include any of you. And you won#146;t be able to fall back upon blue-collar or service jobs, because you will be competing with a massive wave of new immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America who are only too willing, for a lot less money, to take the jobs we educated Americans are too proud to do. Make no mistake -- when it comes to earning a living, sooner or later you will be on your own. My prediction #150; no, my guarantee #150; is that at some point (maybe next year, maybe when you turn 50) all of you will find yourself in a situation, at least temporarily, where you must rely on your own efforts to generate the income you need. You will do this by owning and running your own business. My advice to all of you is to begin preparing for that day now. Start developing hobbies and other interests that you can turn into profit making businesses someday. Start reading and learning now about how successful businesses are run. Look for opportunities to start a business, and don#146;t wait until the #147;time is right#148; before you launch. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be able to support yourself without having to rely on anyone else for your income. And then you can get on with the fun stuff you#146;ve always wanted to do. Now for the good news . . . you#146;re gonna have a blast! Unlike your parents, who often had no choice but to slave away in a boring, repetitive job, you have the power to take control of your own destiny. Yes, it takes a lot of courage. Yes, there will be some sleepless nights. But I have worked with over 10,000 people who have done it and succeeded, and believe me, a lot of them weren#146;t as smart as you. Don#146;t fall into the trap, as many of your parents did, of thinking that your career has to be #147;only one thing#148;. Some of my most successful clients do a number of different things #150; they have a day job, they do some part-time consulting, they write books, they teach evening classes at a local college, they buy and sell stuff on eBay, they sell home-made wood carvings at crafts fairs, they own apartment buildings. Yes, it sometimes gets a little crazy, but it all adds up to a living, and if any one of those things doesn#146;t pan out, they#146;ve got the rest to fall back on. Diversification is a good thing for careers as well as investment portfolios. Also, don#146;t fall into the trap of thinking you must #147;make use of your education#148; when planning your career. Some of the most successful people in America today are college dropouts. In the business world, a lot of A students end up working for people who were C students in school. A business need not be intellectually stimulating, or require a knowledge of calculus, to be wildly successful. So by all means reach for the stars and follow your passions (this is a graduation speech, after all). Without guts and determination, you will have trouble earning a living in this new, tough business world, even if you#146;re as smart as Einstein. May you succeed beyond your wildest dreams, and may you never run out of money. Thank you. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2004 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMaking MoneyHow To Run A Yard Sale Dear Dollar Stretcher, How about an article on "How To Run A Yard Sale"? -- Darlene My pleasure! Yard sales, or in some parts of the country 'tag' or 'garage' sales, can be a lot of fun whether you're the buyer or the seller. But, a successful sale is more than taking stuff out of your garage and putting up a few signs. There's been a lot written about yard sales. But in all the articles I've seen, none have tried to apply techniques that are used by retailers to make the most of every sales opportunity. Let's see if we can't take some ideas from the big stores and use them in our simple yard sale. The first thing that any serious retailer does is to try to understand their customer. They'll do focus groups and surveys to find out what the customer wants. For you it's much easier. Just think like a yard sale shopper! Start by remembering the signs that you've seen when you've been yard saling. Ever stop for the ones that were written in crayon and couldn't be read? Me either. And there's no excuse for a bad sign. All it really needs to say is "Yard Sale" and your address in big block letters. You can use a computer or draw the letters free hand. Just make sure they can be easily read. Make the sign overly large. Get something that's 18" x 24" or larger. If you can't find cardboard, go to a home center and buy a 4' x 8' sheet of drywall. You can cut it with a razor knife into whatever size and shape you want. For less than $5 you can have a whole bunch of big signs. And draw attention to the sign. Helium filled balloons or bright colors on the sign will attract drivers' eyes. Next you'll want to consider the different types of shoppers. They have different styles. Take the young mother shopping for children's clothes. She might have her children with her. That can be a distraction. But if you put kids' toys next to kids' clothes, the little ones will play while mom shops. And it's likely that the kids will ask mom to buy a toy, too! Just like your grocery store puts the milk in the farthest corner, you can take things like children's clothes and put them in the back. That's because your most likely buyer is determined to find bargains. Another type of shopper is looking for collectibles and antiques. Not serious Louis XIV antiques, but rather the kind of thing that hasn't fit in your decor for 15 years but is becoming trendy again. These are people who 'see the possibilities' when looking at an item. They tend to be creative and you'll do better if you can help them trigger their imagination. Sometimes just mentioning that an item reminds you of your grandmother's house during the 60's will be enough to get them going. And remember that you won't get antique prices here. People are looking for bargains, not museum pieces. You can place collectibles towards the back of your store. For collectors half the fun is in the search. Men are a totally different type of yard sale shopper. Even when they're just browsing, they'll shop with a goal in mind. And they want to shop quickly. If you'll be offering tools or building supplies put them up front where they'll be easily seen. And have an extension cord available if anything is electric powered. Items must be marked. Many guys won't even take the time to ask a price. How you display items can also work to your advantage. Try to put the most valuable items on tables so that they can be more easily seen. Toys, on the other hand, should be on the ground where kids can pick them up and get attached to them. Use removable stickers to clearly mark prices. We can also learn some pricing tips from the big retailers. Be creative with pricing. Things like "buy one, get one free" can work for you, too. Don't be afraid to mark things down as the sale progresses. Or announce a 'blue light special' to the next person who buys a particular type of item. Don't hesitate to do something unusual. Informing your next customer that they're the 25th shopper and entitled to a 25% discount will get a conversation started and could lead to a sale. If nothing else, you'll have more fun. Pricing items for a garage sale is almost an artform. It's hard to say what an item is really worth. Leave room so that you can come down 25% to 50% and still make what you want from an item. Try to think what type of buyer would be interested and how much they'd be willing to pay. Having a successful yard sale is no accident. It does take some work. In fact, unless you have enough items so that you can reasonably expect to make a couple of hundred dollars, it might be wise to take the better items to a consignment shop and give the rest to charity for the tax deduction. But if you don't mind a little effort, a yard sale can make you a few bucks and provide some fun at the same time. I've read that many big retailers started with just a few items. Who knows, you might be the next J.C. Penney! Gary Foreman is a former Purchasing Manager and Certified Financial Planner. He currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website www.stretcher.com . It contains the web's largest collect of free articles to save you time and money. There's even a free weekly email newsletter. Visit and save some money today! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSEW proud to be Her "Kids#146; Mom" by Pamela Tripaldi Pamela Tripaldi is the founder of "You Can Make It." Hundreds of parents have begun to earn money from home by teaching sewing, using lesson plans and instructional videos from "You Can Make It." When reflecting on her priorities in life, Pamela says, "My children are gifts that God has given me. My first obligation is to nurture those gifts. The second gift that I got was sewing. I am very lucky to be able to work with all the gifts that I was given, and to help other people achieve that dream also." Starting "You Can Make It" When my first daughter was born in 1987 I became a stay-at-home mom. My second daughter came in 1989. After many years of being home with my girls, I felt the need for a creative outlet. I wanted to do something, but didn#146;t want to work full-time. Having been involved with sewing since my teen years, I decided in 1992 to approach my local fabric store and ask if I could offer sewing lessons. The classes were very successful. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband who stayed at home in the evening to watch the girls when I was starting the business. (Spending time with the kids while the wife launches a business from home is a bonus for fathers, in my opinion.) After offering sewing lessons locally I realized that teaching others to sew is something that other people could do. I decided to write out my seven-level sewing curriculum and offer it to others, so they could do what I did. After two years of writing into the wee hours of the morning -- days were too much fun to give up -- my lesson plan was complete. I started marketing it nationally in 1994. This was the beginning of my company, "You Can Make It." Making it Work Along with the curriculum, I have produced a series of sewing videos. The videos follow the same seven- level curriculum as the teaching manuals. Producing the "You Can Make It" videos has been a seven-year project for my company and my family. My girls have been in each video and my husband will be in Level Seven. With the help of a teacher, or just by watching the videos, anyone can learn to sew. Although I no longer have time to offer sewing lessons personally, my business keeps me very busy. We have over 300 teachers using our curriculum. Most of them are in the United States, but we also have affiliates in China, Canada and other countries. My office is in my home, and I employ local high-school students to help me after school so I can shuffle my kids (now 13 and 12) around. Occasionally it is still necessary to work late at night, because I#146;ve taken time to see a school play or spend the day with my girls. I am truly blessed to have had the support of my family, and, all the while, being available to my family when they need me. We now have experienced sewing teachers all over the world, sharing their talents and the skills they#146;ve learned. My dream of teaching others to sew, while keeping my family as my first priority, has come true. How How Others Can "Make It" Too "You Can Make It" is structured so that people can earn extra income by using our program to help them offer sewing lessons. We supply everything that an experienced seamstress needs to teach. There is a one-time purchase price for the program, with no franchise, monthly or student fees. The teacher#146;s initial cost is minimal. He/she needs two or three sewing machines, which we recommend they borrow from friends until their income is sufficient to purchase their own. Teachers pay a small yearly fee to continue to receive student referrals, our newsletter with pattern suggestions and all updates to our program. "You Can Make It" teachers can offer lessons at a local fabric store, community center, church, or in their own homes. Some of our teachers offer free classes at shelters for abused women, in jails or in other community service settings. Our curriculum includes commercially available patterns, so there is no need to keep returning to us to buy supplies. We#146;ve made it easy to start earning money by offering complete lesson plans, advertising materials, marketing tips, and other sewing teachers to network with. We even have a free referral service. When potential students contact us, we refer them to a "You Can Make It" teacher near them. Sewing is becoming popular again, and many more adults than children wish to learn to sew. In addition to being a wonderful hobby, sewing can be a means for anyone to become financially independent. With the skill of sewing, the prospects are wide open in home decorating, alterations, dressmaking, and dress designing and other services. All are excellent avenues for providing income while allowing one to structure a life around family. If you would like to learn more about You Can Make It, visit us on the web at: www.youcanmakeit.com or call us toll-free at (888) LRN-2-SEW. You can purchase "You Can Make It" sewing videos . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconON-LINE RESOURCES FOR STAY-AT-HOME PARENTS 1) At-Home Mothers www.athomemothers.com The National Association of At-Home Mothers offers complete support for theat-home motherhood lifestyle, including a quarterly magazine called At-HomeMother, as well as numerous other member benefits. NAAHM is "committed tofinding solutions to all of your at-home mothering concerns". Membership is$18 per year. You can get more information by writing the NationalAssociation of At-Home Mothers, 406 E. Buchanan Ave., Fairfield, IA 52556,or by e-mail: information@AtHomeMothers.com . Also take a look at theircomprehensive website, which offers free information, sample articles andInfo Guides, a bookstore of publications chosen specifically for at-homemothers, and much more. 2) Caring at Home www.momsnetwork.com/suites/parentchild/caringathome/ Caring at Home is a non-profit organization operated by work at home momswho would like to make a difference in the lives of the nation's childrenand the people that care for them. They want to create a link among allpeople who share the same concern and help them reach the ears ofgovernmental decision-makers. Their motto: Together we can make adifference! 3) Cheapskate Monthly www.cheapskatemonthly.com Author Mary Hunt's Cheapskate Monthly is a 12-page newsletter published 12times a year and delivered either to your mailbox or via the Internet.Cheapskate Monthly's purpose is (1) to empower and educate those that areliving financially responsible lives to become even more effective moneymanagers, and (2) to help those who are struggling to live within theirmeans find practical and realistic solutions to their financial problems, toget out of debt and begin living joyfully beneath their means. Bothversions of Cheapskate Monthly are filled with tips, humor and greatinformation to help you stretch those dollars till they scream! Tosubscribe to Cheapskate Monthly, send a check or money order for $18.00 toCheapskate Monthly, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723-8135. For moreinformation, call (562) 630-6474. 4) Cyber Working Moms www.cyberworking.com Cyber Working Moms site was built to encourage working women who chose to stay at home with their children, by providing helpful information, encouragement, tips on how to make things easier and secondly for support and advice from other "work at home moms." 5) Daddy's Home www.Daddyshome.com An on-line resource for primary caregiver fathers. 6) The Dollar Stretcher www.stretcher.com The Dollar Stretcher is dedicated to "living better...for less" and featuresways to help you stretch your day and your budget. The website includes alibrary with over 3,000 free articles covering everything from babies tovacations. There are also three free electronic newsletters, as well as amonthly print newsletter that is available by paid subscription. The site'seditor, Gary Foreman, is a former Certified Financial Planner and purchasingmanager. If you want to save money, this is the place to start. 7) Frugal Moms www.frugal-moms.com Practical advice and ideas on how to save money, make the most of yourincome and still enjoy life around you. Topics include anything with afrugal slant: cooking, cleaning, decorating, crafts, help for beginners,gardening, humor and more. Discussion lists, newsletters and weekly articleson saving, scrimping and clipping. Where is YOUR money going? 8) Hearts at Home www.hearts-at-home.org Founded by Jill Savage in 1993, Hearts at Home offers a variety of resourcesand events to assist women in their job as wife and mother. Resourcesinclude the Hearts at Home magazine, the Hearts at Home devotional, and theHearts at Home website. Additionally, Hearts at Home conferences make agreat getaway for individuals, moms' groups, or that special friend, sister,or sister-in-law. Regional conferences attended by over 10,000 women eachyear provide a unique, affordable and highly encouraging weekend for thewoman who takes the profession of motherhood seriously. Contact: Hearts atHome, 900 W. College Avenue, Normal, Illinois 61761. Phone: (309) 888-MOMS. 9) Home-Based Working Moms www.hbwm.com This is a professional association and an online community of parents whowork at home and those who would like to. HBWM members receive a monthly(print) newsletter, free advertising options, Hire-A-Mom directory listing,national publicity opportunities, e-mail discussion list, private messageboards, support, networking, information, more! Home-Based Working Moms,PO Box 500164, Austin, TX 78750. Phone: (512) 266-0900 10) Homebodies www.homebodies.org Author and speaker Cheryl Gochnauer's aim is to empower and encourageat-home parents and working mothers who are considering the at-homelifestyle by providing practical financial, emotional and career-planningadvice. Her website features columnists, resources and message boards whereyou can interact in a safe environment with likeminded parents around theworld. Read how she cut $1000 from her family's monthly budget: www.homebodies.org/dollars.html . 11) Main Street Moms www.mainstreetmom.com Main Street Moms is the online magazine for modern mothers with traditionalvalues. You will find articles on parenting, marriage, family budgeting,craft ideas, spiritual growth, family life, and more. You will also findlively discussion boards, free newsletters, and monthly contests. Foundedin 1998, MainStreetMom.com has developed into a community of at-home momswho network their ideas, joys, and frustrations. Money is tight for all ofus, but through sharing ideas, we help each other get through the toughtimes so that we can fully put our children first. 12) Miserly Moms www.miserlymoms.com Miserly Moms is a multi-faceted organization founded by Jonni McCoy in 1992.Jonni's goal is to help people (especially moms) get the tools that theirfamilies need to save money and spend more time together. Jonni writes booksand articles, teaches workshops, runs discussion groups, and does radio andtelevision appearances, all for the purpose of educating people on how toshop more wisely to stretch their dollar. 13) Mommies on the Web www.mommiesontheweb.com A site offering not only parenting information and articles, but alsosupport and friendship to all moms. Join the online community to meet andinteract with other mothers. Enjoy planned chats, special events, recipeexchanges, and many mailing lists. Or shop in the MomVentures mallfeaturing services and products offered by work at home moms. 14) Mommy Savers www.mommysavers.com This website is for thrifty moms who want the best for their families butdon't want to spend an arm and a leg to get it. The decision to be astay-at-home mom is one of the most difficult many new or prospectiveparents face. The main reason many parents feel it is not possible isfinancial. How can a couple with two wage-earners get by on one salary whileadding another member to the family? It certainly is not easy. While everyfamily is different, they all have one thing in common: nobody takes hometheir entire salary. That is where the cost of work comes in. To read therest of the article, go to www.mommysavers.com/moneywise/cost_of_work.htm 15) MOMS Clubs International www.momsclub.org MOMS Clubs are exclusively for at-home mothers, no matter how old theirchildren are. Founded in California in 1983, they now have over 1,250chapters with more than 63,000 members across the United States. MOMS Clubsmeet during the day, and children are welcome. 16) Moms Promoting Moms www.joemamaproductions.com Ann Diaz of Joe Mama Productions in Littleton, Colorado, has a great idea:She provides a business opportunity for parents who want to work from home -and the opportunity involves having that parent create opportunities forother parents who want to work from home. It's a real win-win. Says Ann, "Iam in the business of helping other work-at-home moms to be more successful,by presenting them to their local communities as a group, giving them aunique co-op type of marketing venue. I do this by publishing a bookletcalled Moms Inc.: Business Directory of Work-at-Home Moms T." For a modest upfront fee, Ann provides essential materials, businessguidebook and marketing support that a person needs in order to create adirectory in her own city. "One of the great features of this businessopportunity is that your out-of-pocket expenses are very low. "When I wasdoing my first directory, I started from scratch and with no workingcapital. I didn't go to the printer until I had generated enoughadvertising income to pay for it. That way, there was no risk. If Ifailed, I would have simply returned everyone's checks. Fortunately, ittook off!" Interested in creating a Moms Inc. directory for your city? For informationabout becoming a licensed publisher of Moms Inc.: Business Directory ofWork-at-Home Moms in your local area, or to find out if there's a Directorycoming soon to your area, contact Ann Diaz at (970) 593-0604; or e-mail: joemamapro@aol.com . You can also visit her web-site at www.joemamaproductions.com . 17) Mothers More www.mothersandmore.org Mothers More is an international not-for-profit organization supportingsequencing women - mothers who have altered their career paths in order tocare for their children at home. The organization addresses women'spersonal needs and interests during their active parenting years, promotesrecognition and respect for sequencing women, and respects the right ofevery mother to choose if and how she will combine parenting and paidemployment. Mothers More also acts as an advocate for public andemployment policies that accommodate sequencing. Visit their website orcall (800) 223-9399 to find a chapter close to you. 18) Mothers at Home www.mah.org Mothers At Home is the first and largest national non-profit organizationdedicated to the support and encouragement of at-home parenting. Founded in1984, Mothers At Home publishes an award-winning monthly journal, WelcomeHome, as well as books and information on at-home parenting issues. MothersAt Home serves as an advocate on behalf of at-home parents through mediainterviews, public policy analysis, and presentations to parenting groups.For more information visit our website, e-mail us at: mah@mah.org , call(800) 783-4666 for a free information packet, or write Mothers At Home,9493-C Silver King Ct., Fairfax, VA 22031. 19) Stay At-Home Dads www.Slowlane.com The Slowlane web site is a friendly online environment to help support,advocate and inform dads, with particular attention given to stay-at-homedads (SAHD). The site is a comprehensive collection of resources includingthose that handle the common issues like starting a playgroup with otherdads and running a home business as well as the tough issues (divorce,death, custody, etc.), so a dad who needs specific information will easily beable to find a resource to fit his personal search criteria. 20) Work-at-Home Moms www.wahm.com The Online Magazine for Work-at-Home Moms ( www.wahm.com ). This site ispacked with useful information about succeeding in the work-at-home mom(WAHM) arena. Excellent links and resources, plus a smattering of cartoonsand light commentary, make this an excellent resource for current WAHM's orWAHM wanna-be's. 21) Working From Home www.workingfromhome.com Paul and Sarah Edwards, authors of this month's Perspective Guest Essay,have been trailblazing the topic of working from home for over 20 years.Their books on working from home are essential resources. Their web site at www.workingfromhome.com also contains a wealth of ideas and advicefor those of you who want to take control of your lives and realize yourdreams. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconHave You Thought About Scoping to Make Money? '...A scopist works with a court reporter and will use whatever resources are provided, as well as any they have at their disposal, to produce a clean transcript for the court reporter...' Check out www.scopists.com . They have information about what scoping is and they also have a place that you can register your name as a scoper or proofreader. Proofing is a good thing to do if you don't want to invest the money in the software needed to scope. Proofing for court reporters is a little different than proofing for, say, a book editor or some other profession. However, most court reporters would be more than willing to give feed back on how things should be done. In fact, when I have someone come to me who is interested in proofing I kind of give them an overview of what I'm looking for. Basically what I tell them is that I really need them to concentrate on the words -- sometimes, though, what they're reading contains wrong words -- and I can deal with the punctuation, et cetera. If you would like more information regarding this, please email me: paula414@cox-internet.com Sincerely, Paula Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAt-Home-Parents in Dr. Laura Perspective The Dr. Laura Perspective now has a section devoted to the needs and interests of parents who wish to be at home while their children are at home. This month#146;s column features Pamela Tripaldi, whose business, #147;You Can Make It#148; has enabled hundreds of people to begin earning extra income by offering sewing lessons. #147;You Can Make It#148; supplies everything that an experienced seamstress needs to teach. There is a one-time purchase price for the program, with no franchise, monthly or student fees. The program includes complete lesson plans, advertising materials, marketing tips, and other sewing teachers to network with. If you would like to learn more about You Can Make It, go to www.youcanmakeit.com or call them toll-free at (888) LRN-2-SEW. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMaster the Pitfalls of Your Home Business Christine Kloser www.newentrepreneurs.com Ok, you made the choice to leave the SAFE job and venture out on your own. Now what? You know your experience or product and understand the inner workings of your industry. The product or service is ready and you have spent time on your materials, brochures and website. You are ready for business#133;Monday comes and you are staring at the phone waiting for customers#133;this is the place that most at-home and small businesses fall short#133;MARKETING! Isn#146;t it funny that we spend all the time in preparation of who we are, what our product will provide but not who is the customer and where do I find them? What are the different cost-effective channels of marketing? What#146;s the best use of my resources? What are ways to reach my target market with a message that will generate sales? Don#146;t use demographics and agency research#133;you know who your buyer is, and only you understand the habits and day to day patterns. Industry related websites are usually good resources. We now have this amazing tool called the Internet. Find ways to use the Internet as a cost-effective means to reach your target market. Identify the problem that you are a solution for; let websites and the media know that you have a solution of value for their readers and you#146;d like to submit an article (or would they write about you?). Articles and PR are THE most cost-effective adverting a small business can use to get great exposure. Be willing to be creative and to think outside the box. Attend seminars where you can network with people like you who have relationships that could be valuable. Get out of the house or office and find new customers, business will not come to you until you get the word out there#151;and don#146;t be afraid to ask people who have used your service or product for referrals. Christine Kloser, founder of the Network for Empowering Women, educates, inspires and empowers women entrepreneurs to start and expand their business and turn their dreams into reality! NEW is one of the fastest growing organizations of its kind and the only one that dedicates itself to helping women make money AND MAKE A DIFERENCE. Christine can be reached at ck@newentrepreneurs.com or by calling (310) 745-0794. Get her FREE newsletter, or find an upcoming workshop or teleseminar at www.newentrepreneurs.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhen Buying A Franchise Look For The "Dirty Lowdown" By Cliff Ennico #147;About two weeks ago, we got the approval paperwork for a real estate franchise. My partner and I are now finding out that the franchise we bought has a bad name around town, and it is hampering our development. We had no idea of the bad reputation of this franchise, and also that they had problems in the past in our area. This is looming over everything we try to do. We want out, but we paid a $15,000 franchise fee and we want to get it back. Is this possible? We initially asked to cancel, but were talked back into it.#148; You really have to do your homework before you buy a franchise. Once upon a time, companies didn#146;t franchise their operations until they had dozens of outlets going in different parts of the country, so you knew you were buying a #147;sure thing#148;. With franchising so popular now, fueled by middle-aged downsized executives looking to buy themselves a job, more and more franchises are being launched before they have had the chance to test and prove their business model. The result often is a lot of unhappy franchisees. While franchises are required to deliver a Uniform Franchise Offering Circular to prospective franchisees disclosing certain facts about the franchise and its business, they are not required to disclose any information about their reputation. This is something you have to do yourself. Remember Ennico#146;s Rule: when buying a franchise, gossip, hearsay and innuendo is far more important than hard data. Some of the best information you can learn about a franchise will come from sources that will not want to be quoted. You should talk to as many franchisees as possible and ask them if they were happy with their decision. In my experience, it#146;s hard for people to hide it when they#146;re really unhappy #150; be sure to watch their facial expressions and listen to the #147;music#148; in their voices as well as what they tell you. You should also ask the franchise for a list of ex-franchisees (the franchise is required by law to disclose this to you), and talk to all of them. You should also visit 2 or 3 franchisees in person and spend the day looking at what actually happens in their business. But what about a franchise#146;s reputation? There is absolutely no excuse for not #147;Googling#148; the franchise and finding out what people are saying about it on the Web. The process takes about five minutes. As for local reputation, call the local Better Business Bureau. Visit the nearest library and chat up the librarians when they#146;re not busy #150; they tend to know a lot that goes on in their community. And if they don#146;t, ask the old men sitting in the magazine section (in most libraries, there are always old men sitting in the magazine section). Of course, it#146;s too late for you to do that now that you#146;ve forked over the money. Most franchises will not give you your money back under any circumstances, and this is usually stated very clearly in the franchise agreement. The concept is that the franchise incurred significant expense by training you in the franchised business, as well as an #147;opportunity cost#148; by turning away other prospective franchisees once you signed on board. In practice, however, many franchises will give you at least some of your money back if you yell and scream loudly enough. This is because they are concerned you will complain to other franchisees about how unfairly you were treated, and the franchise will want to keep #147;peace in the family#148;. Keep in mind, though, that if the franchise does refund your money, you will have to sign a noncompete agreement saying you will not engage in the same business as the franchise for a number of years. By claiming a refund you may be locking yourself out of the real estate business entirely. Make sure it#146;s worth the tradeoff. Given the #147;hard sell#148; this franchise apparently gave you, I wouldn#146;t expect them to be very flexible. You have clearly been too gentle in negotiating with these sleazeballs, and you now have an uphill fight ahead of you. If you#146;re not comfortable playing hardball at this point, hire an attorney to act as your #147;bad cop#148;. A couple of nasty letters threatening litigation should get these guys to the bargaining table. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2004 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWelcome to Stay-At-Home on DrLaura.com The most frequently asked question on my radio show is "How can I become a stay at home mom?" So, in response to everyone who wants to know the steps to take to stay home or for parents who need moral support, tips or advice, we are debuting a new section on my website, devoted to YOU and your needs. You'll find success stories from parents who are committed to staying at home and making it work-- they'll tell you in their own words how they did it. You can also get ideas and information on how to make money at home to supplement the family income, as well as seminars, associations and more! I promise you, you'll want to keep visiting my website for new tips and to read about people like Lisa Barnes, who started Baby Bee, Inc. Lisa found a way to stay at home and to help less fortunate children at the same time. There are only two types of mothers. The ones who happily stay at home and the ones who wish they could. Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." I hope my website will be the vehicle to help you take charge of your life. So if you stay at home or just dream about being home with your little bunchkins take a look at the entire Stay-At-Home section on my website. -- Dr. Laura More >>

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