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05/07/2010
IconTen Questions to Ask When Considering a Direct Sales Home Business By Cheryl Demas If you need extra income, a flexible work schedule, and you like the idea of owning your own business, you might want to consider joining a direct sales company. There are hundreds of companies to choose from, offering a wide variety of products. But there are also things to watch out for, so use this list to ask the right questions. Do you love the products? Don't think only about the company's commission plan. Think about the products. It is better to make a 25% commission on a product you can sell than a 50% commission on a product you can't sell. Ask yourself, "Would I buy these products even if I wasn't involved with the company?" To be an enthusiastic salesperson, you have to believe in your products. Do you know exactly what you will receive in your starter kit? Most direct sales companies have a starter kit that new representatives must buy. The costs can range from $20 to over $200. You should be given an inventory of exactly what your kit will include before you send your money. The contents should also be listed in specific details. For example: "You will receive 50 full color, 25 page catalogs and 25 tri-fold opportunity brochures" not just "sales materials". Is the starter kit a good value? If you are told that you will be getting a kit worth $300, add up the contents and make sure you're getting your money's worth. Some companies may include an instructional video that they claim is worth $50, or forms that you could buy yourself for much less. The company shouldn't be making money on their starter kits. Do the math. Is there a clear return policy? Be sure that you can return your starter kit if you aren't satisfied, and that you can also return unsold inventory. Some companies specify that items you return must be in reusable condition. Be sure you know what they mean by "reusable." It may mean that your kit or products have to be returned unopened. So ask specific questions about the company's return policy. What is the "buzz" on the company? Search the Internet for the company and ask questions on bulletin boards. Look for forums of people who used to be involved with this company. Find out what they're saying and listen to the reasons they left the company. You can't beat the voice of experience. People who are trying to get you to sign up have a financial interest in getting you to join their company; you need to also talk to people who can give you an unbiased opinion. Is the company a member of the Direct Sales Association (DSA)? Every member company of the DSA pledges to abide by the DSA's code of ethics. It is a good place to start a search for reputable companies: http://www.dsa.org What is the minimum amount of sales you must achieve each month to remain active? Many companies require a certain dollar amount of personal sales that must be met each month for you to receive your commission checks. Find out if your company has such a policy and what their personal sales goals are. How much will you have to sell to make a decent profit? Set income goals for yourself and calculate how much you will have to sell to reach your goals. Also calculate how much of your time will be required to complete a sale, and then calculate your hourly rate. For example, if you present a 2-hour home party and make a $100 profit, you may think that you've earned $50/hour. However if you spent 5 hours recruiting a hostess, preparing your presentation, mailing invitations, and making follow-up calls, then 2 hours on the actual night of the party, and 3 more hours of follow-up and product delivery, your hourly rate would actually be $10/hour. Still not bad, but you need to consider all the tasks that will require your time when you're looking at an opportunity. How long will it take to establish a profitable business? Every business has a startup phase. Calculate what your startup expenses will be and how long you estimate it will take you to build up your customer base and start making a profit. It's important to have a realistic picture and a plan for your business so you won't get frustrated as you begin your business. You will be able to look at your plan and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Will there be pressure to recruit other sales representatives? Direct sales organizations are often set up so that you make a commission on the sales of people you have recruited to become representative themselves, this is known as your downline. This is also called Multilevel Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing. Many legitimate companies use this method of payment, but some may encourage you to use high-pressure sales tactics to recruit your downline. Your income should be based on sales of actual products, and perhaps eventually the sales of those in your downline. But your focus should not be on recruiting others. Find out if you can earn a decent amount through your own personal sales, or if you will be expected to recruit others. Many moms have found great success running their direct sales home businesses. They appreciate the freedom and flexibility it gives them to earn income while staying home with their children. If this sounds good to you, take your time, research the opportunities, and ask questions. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it will save you a lot of headaches.Cheryl Demas has published her web site: WAHM.com the Online Magazine for Work-at-Home Moms, since 1995. Her book "The Work-at-Home Moms Guide to Home Business" is available online or at your favorite bookstore. Cheryl lives in California with her husband and two daughters. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconVan Antwerp Pottery - Christina Anderson testimonial For ten years, I had worked 40 -60 hrs/week at ahigh paced photo lab, while my two small childrenlived at daycare. I told myself that this was the bestsituation for everyone. My family would have a house,a good car, new clothes, savings and extra money todo things with as a family. But, being raised myself bybaby-sitters and daycare, I had always dreamed, as ayoung child, of being home everyday with my mom ordad. As nice and loving as the people who baby-sat forme were, nothing was as good as my own mother.Remembering my own childhood yearnings and watching my2 small children go down the same road I had gonedown, I decided to turn things around. I wasdetermined to give my kids what I had, as a child sowished for; a full time mom. At the age of 30, thatchildhood dream became my goal for my own kids. The sacrifices my husband and I have endured inorder for me to stay at home were beyond the credulityof dual income families. We had no cable, never wentout to dinner, had no vacation, no magazinesubscriptions, no new clothes unless absolutelynecessary. But we were a happy family, and I knew mykids#146; every thought, action, need and secret. I wasmom 24 hours/day. What a privilege! Eventually, our living expenses started to rise andmy husband's income remained the same. I knew I had todo something with out giving up my new foundobligation to my kids. With an interest and someexperience in pottery, and a 2 hour gap of free timewhen my kids napped, I knew I could make some money. Van Antwerp Pottery was soon created! I started atthe library. I read every book there was on pottery,marketing and small businesses. I visited localpotters, only listening to the optimistic ones (Ilater learned they were also the successful ones). Atthat point I knew what I needed to start: clay, a kilnand a wheel. I found everything 2nd hand. I practiced during my kid's nap time and at nightuntil I had a line I thought people would want. I thenapproached almost every gift shop in my adjoiningneighborhoods until I had one store in each town whoagreed to buy my pottery wholesale. Customers soon started making requests for differentpieces and colors, so I adapted my line accordingly. Idecided whatever the customers wanted, I woulddevelop that product as part of my line. They werealways right! Now, 4 kids and 8 years later, I am a successfulbusiness mom! My grungy, dark basement has become abright, efficient workshop. I have 4 salesrepresentatives in NY state and WV who do all theselling for me. I also set up a web site to sellretail. ( www.vapottery.com ) There will always be those trying times when I havea big job to get out, and that emergencyparent/teacher conference, but I found that once yourpriorities are set, the solutions are close at hand!As St. Catherine of Siena says, "Nothing great wasever done without much enduring." Christina Anderson Christine's daughter designed pencil holders specifically to help The Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation in which 50% of the proceeds go to the foundation. To view/purchase those: Donations and Fund Raising at www.vapottery.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconThe Mop Flops Story By Gaile Spalione I became a stay at home mom upon the birth of my first daughter in 1986. It was never planned that I would give up my paying job, so of course we were not financially prepared to cut our income in half. But the moment I held her, I knew I couldn't leave her. I used to roll pennies to go grocery shopping. We gave up a car, so I used to ride the bus with a baby and a bag of rolled coins. I was always looking for ways to make a little extra (with my baby by my side), and I did start up a little side business along the way. (But that's another story!) My most important job was being a mom (and housewife). I soon became the mother of four. So, it seemed for years I had crawlers and toddlers in my home. Believe it or not, I am not crazy clean....as some assume by my invention. However, it did bother me to have my babies crawling around on a dirty floor. This led to my constant washing of my floors. My last daughter was the most attached (still is), and maybe because she's my last baby...I too was more attached. I mean literally....I held her 20 hours out of 24 a day!! This made my floor maintenance quite difficult. So I progressed to towels all over the floor and I would shimmy around with a baby on my hip. Since I sew, I eventually took some old towels and made them into booties so I would no longer have to hop and shimmy around the kitchen floor. Now I could wear my booties around the kitchen and spot clean as I go! This cut down tremendously on big mopping jobs. It prevented muddy prints when water dripped from the sink or dishwasher (or refrigerator ice maker...or dog bowl... and who knows what else)! I also loved wearing them when I did mop so I could walk all over the wet floor. I was no longer restricted to working my way out of the kitchen. I could even go back in and retrieve anything if needed. (Also, my kids love wearing them and playing on the floor with a squirt bottle!) My friends and family loved the idea and asked for their own pairs. I began sewing more and perfecting them by lining them in vinyl and adding a pocket for towels or sponges or whatever! And, well, as I said in the beginning I'm always looking for ways to make a little extra, so I decided to invent MOP FLOPS! I have a lot of people who believe in me and MOP FLOPS, especially my parents. Even though, they work two jobs each themselves to make ends meet, they mortgaged their home to help me get started. We have just gotten the official Patent from the US Patent office this past October and are currently trying to market on a restricted budget, since of course I am still a stay at home mom struggling to pay the bills and buy shoes and braces for four. I am currently selling MOP FLOPS at the local swap meet and by word of mouth. You can also order MOP FLOPS from my website....check it out! www.mopflops.com and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Dr. Laura Foundation for neglected and abused children. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat's On Your Desk? Top 25 Clutter Culprits in the Home Office By Amanda Formaro According to a recent poll conducted amongst busy parents who operate their businesses out of their home, clutter is an ongoing problem in search of a solution. Between business calls and diaper changes, these parents do all they can for their families while busily earning their income that allows them to stay home. Unfortunately, something has to suffer. If it's not their family life or their thriving businesses, then who? In this case it's not a "who", but a "what". You guessed it... their desks. Top 25 Clutter Culprits in the Home Office #25) tools; screwdrivers, screws #24) articles of clothing; socks, children's underwear, t-shirts #23) electronics; radios, walkmans, mini TV's, video camera #22) keys #21) aromatherapy; candles, rooms spray, essential oil #20) bank statements/bills; misc papers, applications, insurance #19) books #18) household cleaners #17) magazines/newspapers; full or clippings #16) music CD's #15) purse/wallet #14) receipts; ATM, grocery store, credit card #13) shoes #12) make up, hair brushes, hair accessories #11) photos; loose and in albums #10) medicine; creams, pills, ointment, sprays, sunscreen #9) baby items; diapers, wipes, bottles, hygeine #8) coins, money, loose change #7) camera/film #6) toiletries; toothpaste, soap, toothbrushes, toilet paper, kleenex #5) dirty dishes utensils #4) food, edible or otherwise #3) kid's papers; school literature, artwork, coloring books, markers, crayons, stickers #2) toys And the Number One (by an overwhelming margin) cause of clutter on the desk of a work at home parent is........... GARBAGE; candy wrappers, scraps of paper, popsicle sticks, used kleenex, broken crayons, unidentifiable objects, empty bags, etc. What's on your desk? This question was asked in the WAHM.com Question of the Week . Amanda Formaro lives in Wisconsin with her husband and four children. She is the publisher of familycorner.com magazine. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconNational Association of At-Home Mothers Info Guide #22 How to Look For and Get Legitimate At-Home Work From an Employer in Your Area Maybe you#146;re a new mom, amazed and drawn to the joy of motherhood at a level deeper than you ever imagined. You can#146;t bear the thought of returning to your job after nine short weeks of maternity leave. Or maybe you have returned to work, your children are a little older now, and your dream of at-home motherhood is calling you just as strongly as the day you gave birth. It#146;s the modern day dilemma for moms in the outside working world. Often, while your heart keeps pleading for you to stay at home, your head keeps talking you out of it. You can#146;t afford to quit your job and give up the income, right? Well, maybe not. Today, quitting your outside job doesn#146;t necessarily mean having to give up an income. For the entrepreneurial type, the good news is small home businesses are on the rise, and there are an array of resources to help you get started. But what if you#146;re not the entrepreneurial type. Maybe investing in your own home business isn#146;t an option, or it might be that you work best within the structure that corporate American provides. But is working for an employer from home really a possibility? Believe it or not, corporate downsizing has actually increased your opportunities for working for an employer from home. Work usually done by full-time employees is being contracted out, and the need for part-time and/or seasonal work has grown. More than ever before, earning a livable income from home is possible, including doing work for an employer. With a sincere effort on your part, some help from sources you#146;ll read about in this Info Guide, and, of course, determination to follow your heart#146;s desire, you can stay at home and still earn the income you need. Where Do You Look for At-Home Work Opportunities from an Employer?Below are some ideas to help stimulate your thinking and point you in a direction that can help you uncover work-from-home opportunities from employers near you. Be sure to enlist your own creativity. Where else might you look; what other talents, skills, or hobbies do you have that you personally use but haven#146;t applied to a job setting yet; what other benefits of a work-at-home arrangement can you present to a potential employer to gain their interest in giving you a chance? Just a line of caution: what we are talking about is working for an employer that has offices in your area. We are not endorsing independent work-at-home, assembly-type or other work offered nationally by companies that may or may not have an office in your area. Classified, Help Wanted, or Employment Ads One of the most obvious places to check on what kind of work is available in your area is in the classified advertising section of area newspapers and shoppers. You#146;ll probably find that most often an employer wants you on-site. However, some employees can be persuaded to hire you on your terms, working from home, if you have the skills they are looking for, and the work lends itself to this arrangement. Personnel Departments at Major Local Employers Call and talk to people in the personnel departments of the larger employers in your area. Find out which ones are open to alternative work options for their employees. Find out what kinds of skills they#146;re looking for, and about the need for contract work. Past or Current Employers Be sure to explore all the options that might be available to you in your current job, or jobs past. If you have been a reliable, contributing employee, chances are good that you boss will listen to your ideas for working at home rather than risk losing your valuable skills. Network Ask your relatives, friends and neighbors about employers they#146;re aware of that are in need of help and/or are open to alternative work options. Once your family and friends are aware of what you are trying to do, they#146;ll also be on the look-out for an opportunity for you. Mailing Services / Fulfillment Houses Many businesses offer assembly/production-type piece work. And many times, this is work that can be taken home. Check with businesses that produce parts, fulfill orders, or provide mailing services for other larger businesses. Sheer volume often forces these types of businesses to look for help however they can get it, and they remain flexible to varying work options. As you consider these businesses in your area, also keep in mind which ones may have seasonal pushes, i.e., especially busy during Christmas, springtime, and/or other times of the year. Printers / Publishers Again, volumes of material produced by printers and publishers often leaves employers in this industry flexible to work options that include at-home work. Schools and Universities I you are skilled at work processing, you might consider checking with local schools and universities on the need for contracted services. You could help them with processing their own paperwork, or be available to students or faculty who need typing assistance for a research project or thesis paper, for example. Temporary Agencies Check with temporary agencies in the area about their work-from-home opportunities. Temporary agencies are a good source for finding part-time work that can later be turned into a work-from-home situation after proving your value and negotiating such an arrangement. On-line Employment Agencies You may be able to find a job with a local business on-line, with the many job opportunity Web sites, but the chances are slim. More likely you#146;ll find various computer-related jobs such as telecommuting, research, Web site board or #147;channel#148; moderators or developers, etc. There are legitimate jobs on-line, but remember, the same opportunity scams that are in the newspapers are on-line, plus more! You must be very cautious, and check-out both the opportunity and the business carefully through the Better Business Bureau, Attorneys General, etc. Unfortunately, you may not easily find a mailing address, etc. Insist on this type of information plus references before getting involved. Ask, Ask, Ask! Ask everybody and anybody you get into conversation with, who they know of that might need your help and would be open to talking to you about work options. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in their book, The Aladdin Factor , suggest asking according to the following principles: Ask as if you expect to get what you want. Ask someone who can give you what you want. Be clear and specific about what you want. Ask from your heart. Ask with humor and creativity. Give in order to get. Ask repeatedly. And, most importantly, keep asking! You have nothing to loose and everything to gain; all the while you are asking, you are increasing your odds of finding just the opportunity you#146;ve been looking for. Consider the list you#146;ve just read a start. Nothing can replace your own ingenuity and the knowledge you have of the business community in which you live. Hopefully the above suggestions have stimulated your thinking and have given you the push you need to begin your search. Your greatest ally in reaching your dreams is your own personal desire and commitment. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Simply keep focused on your goal, through the valleys as well as the peaks, and leave no stone unturned until you have landed that at-home job you have worked so hard to get. Preparing Yourself for Getting At-Home Work Write a resume similar to one you would prepare for any other job. List your technical skills and experience, of course, but be particularly sure to stress qualities that reinforce your ability to be as productive from home as the work site: reliable, highly self-motivated, efficient, independent worker, trustworthy, focused, goal-oriented, etc. Don#146;t forget to include references that will verify not only your technical abilities but your valuable personal qualities as well. Include a cover letter that lists the advantages of hiring an at-home employee. Some of the advantages include: Studies have shown improved productivity by 15-20%. Reduced cost of office space and equipment. Improved morale, which consistently raises performance. At-home workers are pleased with their work arrangement, which shows in the quality of their work. Improved management skills and outputs result from creating clear goals, measuring results, and managing work and time. Access to new labor pools. The skills a company needs aren#146;t always available if full-time, on-site employment is the only work option. Less office socializing and wasting of time and money. Reduced turnover. At-home workers value their work arrangement. Reduced cost of training due to turnover. Reduced need for parking and other logistical concerns. Bottom line: Work-from-home saves money when planned and managed properly. Also, stress your flexibility to drop-off, pick-up, attend important meetings, work on a trial basis, etc. Advertise yourself! Placing a classified can be an inexpensive way of gauging what#146;s out there. Your ad may read something like, #147;Highly skilled, highly motivated worker looking for flexible work option. Benefits are: increased output, quality, and productivity. To discuss, call me personally at 123-4567. Jeann.#148; Make the ad personal by listing your specific skills and include the benefits you think sell your offer the best. You may even use classified advertising to advertise the varying skills representing a network of mothers looking for at-home work (see #4 below). Consider forming a network of mothers who are all seeking at-home work. With the power of numbers in everyone#146; favor, the network acts as a marketing force, where everyone is looking for opportunities for everyone else. You can also advertise the collective skills of the group, and pass along work between each other when a project requires many hours and/or different sets of skills. Going the Extra Mile You#146;ve worked all the angles, remained persistent, and have finally landed the work-from-home opportunity you set out to get. The hard part is over, right? Basically, yes. But to insure that all your hard-fought effort doesn#146;t slip between the cracks, you need to go the extra mile in carefully managing your work arrangement and boss#146;s satisfaction as closely as the work itself. Include regular communication with your boss as a part of your work schedule. Checking in on a consistent basis to talk about how things are going and to identify any problems, helps you avert anything that could jeopardize your job. And continue to sell yourself by gently reminding your boss from time to time of the benefits the company is gaining from this work-from-home arrangement. ### In the end, it#146;s up to you. Finding a work-from-home job arrangement and then following through with the work in a way that pleases the company will take time and determination on your part. Be with a strong desire in your heart and your goal clearly focused in your head, you can build a lasting work-from-home arrangement and live the at-home motherhood lifestyle you#146;ve been dreaming about. copy; 1998 National Association of At-Home Mothers. All rights reserved. Permission granted for use on drlaura.com This Info Guide was provided by AtHomeMothers.com where you#146;ll find complete support and practical information for the at-home motherhood lifestyle, including the National Association of At-Home Mothers, At Home Mother magazine, and much more! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconNational Association of At-Home Mothers Info Guide #G37 The 20 Best Home Businesses For MomsThat You Can Start For Under $100 by Priscilla Y. Huff For one reason or another, you have decided you want to work from home, but (1) you are not sure what kind of business you would like to do and (2) you do not have much money for your home business start-up. Are there any home businesses that fit both criteria? Fortunately, there are. The businesses profiled in this Info Guide are ones recommended by entrepreneurial mothers, but any business idea can be started up relatively inexpensively if you plan and research. Generally, the businesses that cost the least to start-up are service businesses as opposed to product-oriented businesses. A service business is exactly that: doing chores or tasks for individuals and/or companies who do not have the time or knowledge to carry out. Usually a minimum of equipment is needed#151;you are the main facilitator of this type of business. A product-oriented business most often requires the purchasing of materials and supplies as well as financing the sales and distribution of your product(s). You are responsible for creation and production#151;which can include mass production, one-of-a-kind, or both. Some businesses can be conducted almost exclusively from home, while others require part or more time with your clients. If you are a mother, you may need to plan to have some type of child care coverage, especially if your children are small. Possibilities can be your spouse, a relative, a sitter who comes in your home, a drop-in child care center, work during the hours your child is in nursery or school, or taking turns with other mothers who also need time to work or do errands. You may also need a way to meet with customers#151;having them come to your home office or going to meet them at their homes or offices. These are important considerations that you need to deliberate before you open your doors. Choose a home business around something you enjoy doing, and one that fits your family situation including the amount of time you have which may depend on your children#146;s ages, etc. Helpful Tips for Starting Any Business, Regardless of the Start-up Costs: Do your research to see if there is a demand or market for your business idea#151;with customers willing to pay for your business#146; services and/or products. Set aside a room or a screened-off corner or space exclusively for your business. Fit your skills and interests with your business idea. Decide what skills or experience you may need to obtain or upgrade. Find a mentor, another home-based business mom, or a home-based business or trade association with whom you can network information and ideas. Sometimes contacting another person in a similar business#151;but in a non-competing region#151;can be the most helpful of all. They can give you tips on what has worked (and not worked) for them, plus other valuable information you can use. Discuss your venture(s) with your spouse and family. It is much easier to start a business with a good support network than it is without. Decide how much actual #147;working time#148; you will have to devote to your business and customers. Be honest and realistic with the time you will have available. Keep organized with your own bookkeeping and files. Consult with an accountant to make sure you know what the IRS (and your state and local taxing authorities) requires of a small business. Never stop learning about your business, your customers, and from your mistakes. Keep current by reading newsletters, journals, home and small business publications, and of course, networking with other entrepreneurs. Develop the quality of persistence. The successful entrepreneur is one who persists until she finds the answer(s) for which she was seeking! Develop customer loyalty by treating them with respect and giving the very best products and/or service. Never take them for granted. It costs three times as much in marketing expenses to get a new customer than to keep a present customer satisfied. Keep your business venture in perspective. Cut out or cut back the extraneous activities in your life and save time for you and those you love. Enjoy your new business, but do not let it consume you. Basic Home Office Essentials: A #147;bare bones,#148; basic home office set-up can consist of the following: Equipment: desk or flat work area; chair; equipment needed for your specific business Office supplies: files, business ledger, pens, pencils, stationery, etc. Telephone (you can have special rings designated on your home telephone line) Answering machine Business cards and/or flyers (you can have a home-based desktop publisher make fewer quantities for less money than going to a commercial printer) Reference materials: guides, manuals, books, etc. relevant to your business and trade When your business begins to bring in money, you can then add the following essentials: Computer,* peripherals and business-related software * Note: Though not needed to start most businesses, a computer with business-related software has become almost a standard for all businesses. If you cannot afford one, you may be able to start with good, used ones, pay or barter to use a friend#146;s, or even your customer#146;s computers. Remember, you do not need to know everything there is to know about computers. You just need to know how to use the basic operating procedures of the computer and the business-related software on which you are working! It will help you, too, to have access to a person who can help you if you run into computer trouble. Often times, this can be your own children! Fax machine* Photocopier* Business stationery Scanner Upgrade and/or purchase of additional equipment, etc. needed for your specific business* Note: Some of these machines have multi-capabilities such as a plain paper fax machine with photocopying capabilities. BUSINESSES These are some of the best low-cost businesses for mothers featured in categories that experts say will be in demand as we enter the next century. However, they are not the only ones and de-pending what equipment you already have and will need, you may spend more (or less) than $100 to get started. For some businesses a trade association* is listed or some recommended publications or other helpful sources. *Please note: Many of these associations do not have business start-up information and also are often staffed by volunteers, so a LSASE (long, self-addressed, stamped envelope) from you for inquiries would be helpful. As mentioned before, also check your local library and other entrepreneurs for additional information. BUSINESS SERVICES In recent years, many businesses #147;downsized#148; their employees in efforts to economize or often as the results of #147;take-overs or buy-outs#148; by large companies. However, in this process, they often let workers go who performed valuable services for them. You can take advantage of this by offering to do these tasks that their remaining employees may not be able to handle or are too over-burdened to perform. 1. BILLING SERVICE Often times, small businesses or seasonal businesses need assistance with their customer billing as they cannot afford to hire staff and/or only need to do their billing on a weekly or monthly basis. They forget or delay their billing and may fail to systematically check which of their customers has or has not paid. Your billing service could provide accurate, on-time monthly invoices for your clients. You can add collection services to your fees for customers who have overdue accounts. Resources: *Sage U.S. Inc., Timeslips. 17950 Preston Rd., Suite 800, Dallas, TX 75252. (972) 818-3900. http://www.timeslips.com Timeslips is a popular time and billing program. It has versatile invoicing capabilities and includes a variety of billing arrangements and full customizable bill formatting. You may also want to specialize in certain types of billing, such as in the health care field. 2. BOOKKEEPING If you have worked in bookkeeping departments or have had bookkeeping basics in high school or business school, you will have skills valuable to many companies. As with billing, many owners of small, growing companies are overwhelmed by business bookkeeping and do not have the time to do an adequate job or they may relegate a (reluctant) spouse to do this. Small, seasonal businesses many times fit this criteria. With your bookkeeping business, you can arrange to make regular visits to your customers#146; offices, but do the majority of the work from your home. One tip is to consult with your clients#146; accountants so you know how they would prefer to have the bookkeeping records organized. They may also refer you to other of their clients because you will help make their accounting easier. Resources: * Bookkeeping Tax Preparation: Start Build a Prosperous Bookkeeping, Tax Financial Services Business , by Gordon P. Lewis. 1997, Acton Circle Pub. Co.; ISBN: 0963937170. 3. TRANSCRIPTION SERVICES A transcription service involves the typing of notes made from recorded records. Many transcriptionists specialize in certain professions: medical and health care, legal, commercial, journalism, investigative reporting, etc. Transcription can also be part of a business service such as a secretarial/word processing service or office support service. Resources: * How To Start a Home-Based Secretarial Business , 2nd ed. by Jan Melnick. 1997, Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, CT. * Transcription Skills for Business , 5th ed. by Linda Mallison, Lois Meyer, Ruth Moyer. 1997, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 4. MYSTERY SHOPPING SERVICE One way small businesses can compete against the huge #147;mega-stores#148; is to offer exceptional customer service. To do this, you can start a mystery or secret shopper service for companies to help them evaluate the treatment of their customers. If you have worked in a certain industry or part of a chain of stores, you can offer this service based on your experience. Resources: *Judith Rappold, President, Business Resourcesreg;, 2222 Western Trails, Ste. 107, Austin, TX 78745; Workshops, materials ($599 + $10 shipping for materials only). Send a SASE for info.*Feedback Plus, Inc., 5580 Peterson Ln., #120, Dallas, TX 75240-5157; a company that sends independent contractors to report on companies#146; customer service. Send a SASE for info.*National Shopping Service Network LLC, 3190 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80210. http://www.mysteryshopping.net CREATIVE BUSINESSES 5. CANDLES In almost every household, you will find candles#151;both practical and decorative. They are popular gift items and can be made for every occasion. They can be sold in gift and specialty stores, through mail order, at craft shows, and through the Internet. Candles can be made at a relatively low cost. Some people purchase candles already made and add decorative touches such as pressed, dried flowers to the outside. If this creative craft interests you, research as to what kinds of candles are being produced, and see what creative ideas you can use to originate your own unique candle line. Resources: * The Candlemaker#146;s Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to Rolling, Pouring, Dipping Decorating Your Own Candles , by Betty Oppenheimer. 1997, StoreyCommunications, Pownal, VT. *Barker Enterprises, Inc., 15106 10th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98166. (800) 543-0601 http://www.barkerco.com ; $3 for catalog#151;features supplies and books for a candlemaker hobbyist or entrepreneur. *The Wax House, P. O. Box 103, Mequon, WI 53092; has the book, Starting A Candle Business , $12; $3 for catalog. 6. CUSTOM SEWING The American Home Sewing and Craft Association estimates that more than 21 million people sew from their homes. If you have the ability to sew, you can offer such services as alterations, canvas repair, antique quilt restoration as well as sewing your original creations such as Christmas ornaments, custom slip and chair covers, hats, Christening gowns, prom dresses, chef and barbecue outfits, swim suits, ladies#146; suits, soft toys and sculpture etc., etc! Resources: * The Business of Sewing , by Barbara Wright Sykes. 1992, Collins Publications, 3233 Grand Ave., Chino Hills, CA 91709-1318. http://collinspub.com * How to Start Making Money with Your Sewing , by Karen L. Maslowski. 1997, Betterway Books, Cincinnati, OH. *American Home Sewing and Craft Association (HSA), 1350 Broadway, Suite 160, New York, NY 10018, (212) 302-2150, http://www.sewing.org . 7. HANDCRAFTS Experts in the handcraft field estimate that the crafts industry generates almost $10 billion in annual sales. Depending on your craft, you can sell your crafts retail, wholesale, or one-of-a-kind. The hardest obstacle to overcome is to find that market for your particular product. You will have to do your own #147;test-marketing#148; by trying the different ways to sell your items: craft shows#151;retail or wholesale; galleries; to catalog houses; mail order; custom orders, kits, etc. Keep up-to-date with the latest trends and try to find your own #147;niche#148; market for your crafts. Resources: * The Crafts Report (magazine for the professional crafter), P.O. Box 1992, Wilmington, DE 19899; 1(800) 777-7098; http://www.craftsreport.com * How To Start a Home-Based Craft Business , 2nd ed. by Kenn Oberrecht. 1997, The Globe Pequot Press, Inc. P.O. Box 833, Old Saybrook, CT 06475-0833. www.globe-pequot.com * The Craft Business Answer Book: Answers to Hundreds of Troublesome Questions About Starting, Marketing, Managing a Homebased Business Efficiently , by Barbara Brabec. 1998, M. Evans Co.; ISBN: 0871318326. FOOD-RELATED BUSINESSES 8. SPECIALTY FOODS If you have a knack for cooking, canning, or a special recipe that has been in the family for generations, it is possible to make money with your culinary skills or information. You must check with your state regulations on cooking from your kitchen. You may be able to use a church#146;s or organization#146;s kitchen if you cannot use your own. Here are just a few of the money-making food businesses that women are running: Special Desserts#151;selling to caterers, restaurants Cooking Instructions#151;lessons in your home or your clients Special Cakes#151;birthday, wedding, novelty Cookbook Author Special Condiments Meals-to-Go for busy families Resources: * Entrepreneur Magazine#146;s Start-Up Guide, #147;Marketing a Family Recipe.#148; $69.50 + $6.75 shipping, 1(800) 421-2300. * From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty , by Stephen Hall, Upstart Publishing Co., Inc., Dover, NH. 9. MENU-PLANNING If you love to cook and have expertise and training/background in meal planning, you may want to start a menu-planning service for families and individuals on special diets. Plan a month#146;s meals and provide the recipes. Resources: * Menu Celebration! Menu Planning for the Family Every Day of the Year , by Lee Cannon, Dorothy Wells. 1995, Owl Bay Pub; ISBN: 0963856898. GREEN BUSINESSES 10. HERBS With the popularity of specialty foods and cooking, and homeopathic medicines, herbs are much in demand. Herbal oils and fragrances are also being used in aromatherapy. They can be grown in almost all seasons, in greenhouses, sun rooms and/or outdoors in relatively small spaces. Dried herbs can also be sold to crafters and florists for wreaths, floral arrangements, etc. Resources: * Growing Your Herb Business , by Bertha Reppert, 1994, Storey/Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT. *Herb Growing and Marketing Network, PO Box 254, Silver Springs, PA 17575-0245, www.herbworld.com 11. SPECIALTY CROPS Specialty fruits and vegetables will continue to grow in demand as people want to have chemically-free produce and professional and hobbyist chefs look to expand their culinary skills with new recipes. Old and new varieties of peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and many others are sought out by cooks. Even small plots can be profitable. Resources: * Backyard Market Gardening: The Entrepreneur#146;s Guide to Selling What You Grow , by Andrew Lee (Burlington, VT: Good Earth, 1995). * How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops , by John Jeavons, Ten Speed Pr; ISBN: 0898157676 HOME SERVICES 12. LAMPS LAMPSHADES Home decor and home remodeling are popular pastimes for many homeowners. Many people also like to shop at flea markets for good, used items, especially lamps and wood furniture, but often the lampshades need to be replaced or re-covered. If you have basic sewing and mechanical skills, you can have a lucrative home business making lampshades, re-covering old ones and doing simple lamp repairs. Lampshades can be covered by cloth or paper which can be decora-tively pierced. Resources: * Lamps Shades: Beautiful Ideas to Make Decorate , by Juliet Bawden. 1997, Sterling Publishing, Inc., NY. * Mainely Shades, 100 Gray Rd., Falmouth, ME 04105; 1(207) 797-7568. www.mainelyshades.com *The Lamp Shop, PO Box 3606, Concord, NH 03302-3606, (603) 224-1603, www.lampshop.com 13. REFERRAL SERVICES With our hectic lifestyles these days, many people do not have the time or expertise to look for the best personal or home services they may need. A referral service refers people to the busi-nesses and/or professionals they need. These can range from child and elder care to home repair services. You can specialize in the services in which you have knowledge and/or the experience to evaluate their quality. You are paid by the services you list or sometimes by both the business owners and customers coming to you. Resources: * How to Start Manage a Referral Services Business , by Jerre G. Lewis Leslie Renn. 1996, Lewis Renn Associates, 10315 Harmony Dr., Interlochen, MI 49643. (231) 275-7287 PERSONAL SERVICES 14. CHILDREN#146;S PARTY BAGS If you love children and enjoy planning for parties, you can give busy parents help by having a children#146;s party business. You can plan the parties and arrange the cake and entertainment, etc., or do the entertainment yourself. Also popular now is to sell all the #147;fixings#148; for the parties (related to popular children#146;s characters or themes) in bags that can be ordered from you in advance containing all the decorations, favors, and even game ideas. Resources :* Child Magazine#146;s Book of Children#146;s Parties , by Angela Wilkes. 1996, Dorling-Kindersley, NY. * Children#146;s Party Business (booklet), info: SASE to PY Huff, Box 286, Sellersville, PA 18960. * It#146;s Party Time: How to Start Operate Your Own Home-Based Party Planning Business , by M.L. Hine. 1996, Carlton Press, NY. 15. IN-HOME CHILD / ELDER CARE The need for quality in-home child care and eldercare (with the #145;aging#146; of the U. S. pop-ulation) is predicted to grow in the next century. If you are interested in providing care of either children or mature adults in your home, check with your state#146;s regulations. You can also start your own home-care placement service to provide caregivers to give assisted living to elders on temporary or long-term basis. A background in child development, health care, geriatrics, social work, or psychology is helpful. Resources: *National Association for Family Child Care, PO Box 10373, Des Moines, Iowa 50306. 515.282.8192, www.nafcc.com Send a LSASE for more information. *National Association for Home Care, 228 7th St., S.E., Washington, DC 20003; LSASE for info. www.nahc.org *Start Your Own At-Home Child Care Business, rev. ed., by Patricia Gallagher. 1994, Mosby-Year Book, St. Louis, MO. 16. ERRAND SERVICE As the baby boomers reach their fifties, so will the market for personal services needed by this aging population. Errand services are also needed today for busy parents, persons with disabilities, and even businesses. You can specialize in one-type of errand like grocery shopping or offer a diverse selection for your clients. Resources: * How to Start and Operate an Errand Service , by Rob Spina. Legacy Marketing, $29.95, 1(888) 725-2639. 17. IN-HOME TUTORING If you have the credentials and expertise in such subjects as reading, English as a second language (ESL), high school math and science or college entrance-exam preparation, or other school subjects, and you enjoy teaching on a one-to-one basis, you may want to start an in-home tutoring business. One woman started tutoring junior high and high school students after school, in her home, who needed academic help and those seniors applying for scholarships. In ten years her venture has grown to a state-licensed business offering tutoring by one of her fifteen, part-time teachers in the remodeled Victorian home she purchased for her business or in the homes of the students themselves. Resources: * Becoming an Effective Tutor , by Lynd B. Myers. 1990, Crisp Publications, Menlo Park, CA. *National Association of Tutoring, Jacksonville State University, Ramona Wood Bldg. #105, 700 Pelham Rd. N., Jacksonville, AL 36265-1402; Send a LSASE for information. 18. TRAVEL PLANNING Travel will continue to be #147;hot#148; in the next century. You can work as an independent travel sales representative. You refer clients to travel agencies with whom you work and receive a commission for this referral. If you live in a tourist area or have a town with historical significance, you could arrange your own tours. One woman writer of ghost stories gives tours of her town#146;s homes that are reported to be haunted. Resources: * Home-Based Travel Agent: How to Cash in on the Exciting New World of Travel Marketing , by Kelly Monaghan. 1997, Intrepid Traveler; ISBN: 1887140042. 19. PERSONAL ORGANIZER If you have a passion for organization and order, you may turn these skills into a successful business helping individuals and business persons organize their homes and offices. You can help market your business by giving #147;How to Get Organized#148; lectures or courses in your community. Resources: *National Association of Professional Organizers, Po Box 140647, Austin, TX 78714; Send a LSASE for membership information. www.napo.net 20. PET BUSINESSES If you have knowledge of certain animals and pets, you may be able to specialize in one or more services for them. These ventures can include cleaning pet yards, grooming, pet sitting in your home, running a pet taxi, and others. Knowledge and a love of the animals for whom you care is a must. Resources: * Career Success with Pets: How to Get Started, Get Going, Get Ahead , by Kim Barber. 1996, Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., NY. * From Problems to Profits: The Madison Management System for Pet Grooming Business , by Madeline Bright Ogle. 1995, Madison Gray, Inc.; ISBN: 1878795252. * Pet Sitting for Profit: A Complete Manual for Professional Success , by Patti J. Moran. 1997, Howell Book House, Inc., NY. *Pet Sitters International, 418 East King St., King, NC 27021-9163, www.petsit.com Whether you choose one of the above businesses or not, let them stimulate your thinking. Draw upon your own skills, and interests, and research to find the best business for you. For more information on these and other home business ideas try these helpful books: 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women , by Priscilla Y. Huff, 1998, Prima Publishing. More 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women , by Priscilla Y. Huff, 1998, Prima Publishing. Mompreneurs#151;A Mother#146;s Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Work-at-Home Success , by Ellen H. Parlapiano Patricia Cobe, 1996, Perigee Books. copy; 1998 National Association of At-Home Mothers. All rights reserved. Permission granted for use on drlaura.com This Info Guide was provided by AtHomeMothers.com where you#146;ll find complete support and practical information for the at-home motherhood lifestyle, including the National Association of At-Home Mothers, At Home Mother magazine, and much more! Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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05/07/2010
IconGrant Consultant, A Great Work At Home Biz Jillian Coleman copy;2003 www.GrantMeRich.com Are you racking your brain, looking for a way to stay at home with your family, and still make a comfortable living? Are you a good communicator? Can you sit with another person and understand what it is she wants? Then can you talk to her so she has a clear idea of your thoughts and opinions? Can you express yourself well in writing - take scattered information and put it together on the page so it makes sense to the reader? Do you like doing research - digging deep and finding information? Are you computer and Internet savvy? Are you good at conceptualizing ideas, making plans and implementing them effectively? Do you get a charge out of helping other people accomplish their goals? Are you inspired to improve your community and create new resources? Do you enjoy variety, and managing your own time and workload? Want to be your own boss? Would you like a career that provides some visibility, and the opportunity to be well respected for your contributions, while you earn $50 to $150 an hour? If this sounds like you, I'd like to suggest the best career you've probably never considered: grants consultant. A career as a grants consultant does not require a college degree. This is a career in which your performance is much more important than any educational credential. Of course, grants consultants must be professional in their appearance and presentation of themselves and their services. That doesn't mean suits and high heels, however. The majority of clients are in the helping profession, so the dress code is usually business casual. Grants consultants provide services to non-profit agencies and businesses in their communities. These services may range along a continuum from very simple to very complex. At the simplest end of the continuum, a non-profit agency, such as a shelter for battered women, may not have sufficient staff to write a proposal for a grant they have identified. So they enter into a contractual arrangement with a grant writer to prepare the proposal. Many agencies routinely use contract grant writers. Other agencies hire staff grant writers, and allow them to work from home. At the more complex end of the continuum, a group of investors may be interested in building an affordable housing project. The consultant may participate in planning the project, help structure a consortium, lobby legislators, provide public relations, work with neighborhood associations, find a variety of funding resources, and write the grants proposals. At this level, the grants consultant may take an equity position and own part of the project, as well as earning a developer's fee. Obviously, the services you could provide as a grants consultant depend upon your training and your existing knowledge base. If you have a background in business, management, finance, or real estate, that background has provided you with skills you may be able to share with your clients. But even if your experience does not touch upon those areas, you can learn all the skills necessary to find funding resources and write effective grant proposals. And as you work on more projects, and gain more experience, you have ever-greater skills to offer your clients. Here are three steps to get started on a career as a grants consultant: Make an assessment of what you have to offer now. Write down the skills you have developed thus far, through previous work experience, volunteer work, education or training. Enroll in a comprehensive, high-quality training program for grant writers. Be sure the training emphasizes research skills; writing foundation, corporate, and government proposals; and the politics and procedures of dealing with funders and clients. Jump right in! Select a cause you support within your own community, perhaps your child's sports team, or a non-profit daycare center. Identify a small need (under $10,000), such as uniforms or playground equipment. Then volunteer to find money for them and write a grant proposal. With a couple of successful grants under your belt, you can begin to market your services to paying clients. Jillian Coleman is a consultant to businesses and non-profit organizations. Her website, www.GrantMeRich.com , is a resource site for entrepreneurs, grant writers and consultants, and offers online training for grants consultants. Jillian is the author of books related to grants and business, including Big Bucks: The Complete e-Guide to U.S. Government Grants, and Build Your Small Business Now! Secrets of Success for Entrepreneurs. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com . More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAre You Stuck In Startup Phase? By Kristie Tamsevicius www.WebMomz.com In reality, the business that you have built may be nomore than an elaborate "job" for yourself. Sure you getto be your own boss and work from home, but if you wantto make more money, you need to start thinking like a franchise. Ask yourself, "How can I systematize and automate my business so that it can run without me?" How can you make the process of delivering your product or service turnkey so someone else can easily replicate it? In his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most SmallBusinesses Don't Work and What to Do About It ,Michael Gerber explains this concept perfectly.He explains why McDonald's restaurant calls their business"The Most Successful Small Business in the World." In1952 Ray Kroc experienced great success when he discovereda way to create hamburgers "quickly, efficiently, inexpensively, and identically." He devised a process so simple that any high school kid, anywhere, could replicate it. He took that "process" and developed his franchise. That's why you don't need Ray Kroc himself to grill your burger in order to get that McDonald's experience. If you go to a McDonald's anywhere in the world and order a hamburger, you know exactly what to expect because of the standards and procedures he established. If you were to sell your business today, could it runwithout you? Try to see yourself as a young Ray Kroc, creatively think about how you can make the move from being self-employed to being in command of an efficient self-serving business enterprise. TOP FIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE STAY STUCK IN STARTUP STAGE Many new business owners seem to get "stuck" at thisbeginning stage of business and don't push to the nextlevel. Here are the major reasons why people fail tomove past the startup phase of business: Complacency: It's easy to get caught in thestatus quo and become so busy that you forget to planfor the future. When things are going smoothly, it'sa perfect time to dream, ponder, and plan your next moves. Lack of vision: If you could do anything in yourbusiness with no limitations what would you do? Spend some time daydreaming. Brainstorm with your business coach or a friend about what's possible. Don't stifle yourself by waiting for the "good" ideas. Let the ideas flow out of you. Then narrow the list down to the winners. Keep an idea file and store all your thoughts there. Loss of control: If you aren't careful, expandingyour business could lead to added responsibilities,lack of control, and loss of freedom unless you systematize your work duties. Imagine your business as a machine. If you wanted a machine to perform better, you would probably need to add a high performance engine, oil it, and make sure it is well maintained. Similarly, when you grow your business, you will need to add the people and parts to perform the extra tasks. Growing the business does NOT have to mean that you personally do more. Fear of change: Routines feel comfortable, like aworn pair of jeans. And changing your business can bea fearful thing if you let it. Once you acknowledgethe things you are afraid of, they lose power over you.Like the mice in the book More >>

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05/07/2010
IconNavigating the Choppy Waters of Family Owned Business By Dr. J. Mitchell Perry President/CEO JM Perry Learning Technologies The US Small Business Administration reports that family owned businesses in this country are alive and well. In fact, 90% of small businesses are family owned. So the good news is that there are a lot of families out there involved in owning and managing businesses. The bad news is that managing the business while keeping family members functional, well adjusted, and happy is a tall order indeed. Most family businesses have poor futures: 3 in 10 will survive transition of ownership to the next generation. Why? Most of the time the issues that arise center around reconciling: 1. For the business: power, control, and succession, and 2. For the Family: Love, loyalty, and #147;fairness#148; On one hand, family members often have good intentions. They want to feel love, loyalty and protective of each other. Too often feelings of suspicion, self-protection, jealousy, hostility, betrayal, avarice, and guilt take center stage when conflicts emerge surrounding the major omnipresent question: #147;How do we make this business grow, become profitable, and be successful while at the same time making family members involved feel loved, reinforced and rewarded?#148; Many times huge conflicts evolve that either break up families and/or ruin businesses because the efforts to answer this question are managed so poorly. Because you love a family member has often little to do with that same member being competent, equipped, or suited to handle a specific job in the company. Your interest in being #147;fair#148; can be in direct conflict what is best for the company. Problems arose at International Rectifier in the mid 90s when the two sons of International Rectifier chairman Eric Lidow almost lost the company due to sibling rivalry. Alex Lidow, current CEO of the company, said about his brother, #147;We were products of a competitive upbringing and I had to resolve a lifetime of issues.#148; What can your company do? KEEP THE DIALOGUE GOING: The moment family members quit talking for whatever reason is the minute the conflicts become untenable and the stage is set for lawyers to take over. Remember, the more talking and conversations occur the better the chance for resolution. GET OUTSIDE HELP: Too often, family members are too emotionally involved and therefore will have trouble thinking objectively about what is good for the business. So, get outside facilitation, mediation, and consultation when it comes to securing succession plans, control assignments, and organizational changes. STAY FOCUSSED ON THE BUSINESS: Make the hard calls on what the business needs. Sometimes that means removing and/or reassigning some family members. While tactically this is often painful, strategically this will insure the business being solvent and secure. REGULARLY DISCUSS THE PLANS AND GET THEM IN WRITING: Have family members participate in the making the agreements and plans. Make sure you write them down in plain English and then review them periodically. MAKE SURE LOVE IN THE FAMILY IS DEMONSTRATED IN OTHER WAYS: If love is shown only through compensation, control, status, and other rewards in the business, you have trouble. Take the time to develop and nurture other dimensions of family closeness outside the business. MAINTAIN THE USE OF MULTILE OPTIONS: People naturally polarize when there is conflict and tension. This creates right/wrong, good/bad, win/lose, success/failure thinking which results in escalation of anger, suspicion and defensiveness. Remember that 3 options or more will always calm down this problem. Always use the magic of multiple options and you will be amazed how you can balance business with family priorities. Remember the purpose of business is to be successful which requires competence and intelligent planning. At the same time, family success is determined by different variables like love, reinforcement, loyalty, and closeness. Managing these two major systems requires skillful navigation in often stormy seas. Keep the above ideas on your radar and the sailing is likely to be much smoother. Dr. J. Mitchell Perry is CEO of JM Perry Learning Technologies. To reach him call 800 JM PERRY or go to www.jmperry.com Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com More >>

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