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It’s your Business so do what you want to-Part Two

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=sunshine%2blandscape&iid=5276696″ src=”6/0/b/1/Rays_of_sunshine_8254.jpg?adImageId=9515058&imageId=5276696″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]See the sun peeking through the trees?  There is hope for spring to come and there is good news in this conversation.  *This is Part Two of a 2-part post: It’s your Business so do what you want to.

PART TWO: It is your BUSINESS so do WHAT you want to.

Yesterday I took a break at noon to have lunch and while eating my sandwich [I’m one of those people who just loves sandwiches…my favorite is on homemade white bread with mayo, a couple of green leaf lettuce leaves, slice of provolone cheese, Virginia baked ham slices and thinly sliced yellow onion – good!] I watched the latest episode of Castle.  I’m such a fan of Nathan Fillion – ever since Firefly.  Anyway, the commercials were from Blackberry and their newest tag line is Love what you do and Do what you love. Great advice.  Especially for small business folks – those of us with tiny businesses…the less than 5 employees and the solo-preneurs.

Yes 2009 – even 2008 – simply was awful economically.  However I don’t want to talk about that today.  I’m one of those people who suffer from sunshine deprivation in the winter and we’ve had over a week straight of rain and clouds and I’m missing the sun…I do live in California after all…so I want to bring some sunshine into this conversation.  It’s not all bad out there and there is hope.

One of the proofs of that was in my morning newspaper’s business section.  A medical device maker is going to call my community “home” this year.  In fact it was the second company in two weeks to announce a move to my city.  According to the article by George Avalos five companies have done significant things in the past few months that will bring jobs and commerce to my community.  The companies are Bridgelux IncJLA Inc.Wiley X Inc. Enray Inc. and Admedes Inc. This is good news.  The newest mention is Admedes, a medical equipment maker and, according to the article:

  • “…Admedes has bought an 18,000-square-foot office and research building that it will use for a manufacturing center and a showcase for its medical products. The company makes miniature components for medical devices…’Our plan is to get to 50 employees in about five years,’ said Eric Veit, a vice president with Admedes Inc. ‘We are looking at and interviewing a number of people right now.’….”

There are more positive notes out there in the ether

In an article at Forbes.com, Mark Wolf wrote about “…A remarkable trend is emerging in the U.S. job market–one that will greatly impact the workplace of tomorrow. Women are becoming the nation’s job-creation engine, starting small businesses and stimulating new jobs at a rate that outdistances their male counterparts and disproportionately exceeds their current contribution to U.S. employment….”  He was referencing a newly published report by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute and summarized it by saying, “…Specifically, the Institute expects that women who own small businesses will create from 5 million to 5.5 million new jobs across the U.S. by 2018, and in the process transform the workplace of tomorrow into a far more inclusive, horizontally managed environment….”

I know I’m a woman business person and chose this tidbit for inclusion in this post, but don’t take it that I don’t see that men who start new small businesses aren’t also a positive factor for this year because they are.  There are only two genders and we’re all in this together.

INC.Com has a great article, 9 Home based Businesses You Can Start In Your Pajamas In 2010, and gives a short description of the 9 people who are making a go of it:

This article tells me two things: 1) there are innovative and interesting niche markets that people are creatively finding ways to have businesses in – I, for one, had never considered “Online Content Aggregation” prior to this and love the way Chris Jordan has approached the insurance business.  and 2) have you noticed that I was able to find a link to each and every one of those businesses?  Just a marketing hint: no business is too small to have a presence on the web.

Small Business Trends had an article earlier this month by Dawn Rivers Baker, Top Microbusiness Trends for 2010. She says, “…there’s no reason to imagine that there are no opportunities to be had in a sluggish economy, as any astute student of entrepreneurship will tell you. And right now is a particularly good time to run a lean, efficient microbusiness that doesn’t need a bank loan to chase growth prospects….”  Of the trends she mentions the one I’d like to highlight:

  • “…Federal contracting. Plenty of people will tell you that microbusinesses are too small to fulfill government contracts but I’m not one of them. There is still plenty of money appropriated for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects that hasn’t gone out the door yet. For microbusiness contractors in construction and related sectors, there will be plenty of contracting and subcontracting opportunities….”
  • Also, in the comment section following the article Ms. Baker responds to a commenter in part: “…nonemployers are a subset of the microbusiness universe. Micros are defined as firms with fewer than five employees. Nonemployers are firms with no paid employees outside the business owner(s), which means they certainly fit the micro definition. They are, in fact, the largest portion of the microbusiness population, comprising about 80% of it….”

I found this article interesting because (a) it reminds us that the government [in the U.S.] does have money to spend on contractors and why shouldn’t the tiny businesses be included?  And (b) I found it a very interesting statistic that 80% of micro-businesses are what I call solo-preneurs…a business that is comprised of me, myself and I.  Just like the business here in my community where my husband and I take our vehicles for maintenance – Ron’s Valley Brake & Auto Repair.  Ron has a shop downtown and he’s the owner and only employee.

Another article at Small Business Trends, this one by Anita Campbell, 10 Small Business Trends and Opportunities, speaks to solo-preneurship; her trend #10:

  • “…More Sole Proprietorships – One thing that we know is that during and in the aftermath of recessions, more  people who are out of work will turn to starting their own businesses…If you are looking for businesses to start, these typically require little startup capital and may not require highly-specialized training or degrees:  pet businesses;  kids products;  Web businesses; consulting for your former employer or industry; virtual assistants; apps development; home based franchises.…”

Again, there is a mention of small business ideas I hadn’t thought of like apps development.  Interestingly, my husband’s cousin is currently developing just such a small business.  This is very cool to learn of an industry about which I previously had not known and discover it is a trend.  Cool.

Even in my industry, fine arts – I consider myself an artist-preneur – there is hope.  This Friday I will participate in the first art event of the year and who knows maybe there will be a sale or two.

So all-in-all there is hope regardless of the screaming headlines.  The sun will indeed shine again and I won’t have to rely on my Ott Lite.

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It’s your Business so do what you want to-Part One

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=business+graphs&iid=6752210″ src=”9/8/3/5/GM_CEO_Fritz_1d7c.jpg?adImageId=9360485&imageId=6752210″ width=”234″ height=”152″ /]*This is Part One of a 2-part post: It’s your Business so do what you want to.

PART ONE: It IS your Business so do what YOU want to.

Sometimes when people are asked to choose between two kinds of news, good and bad, they will take the bad first, to get it over with so they can end the conversation on a more pleasant note.  That’s what we’ll do here.  To that end, here’s the bad part of the conversation for those with tiny businesses, the very small business owner and the home-based business owner – if you happen to have a truly large business or you influence great chunks of our global commerce, well this is the bad news for you too.  If you do what YOU want to with your business at the expense of your integrity, your ethics, your clients and customers, your friends and family and your industry…then you ought not to be in business at all.

That’s a pretty bold statement.  I’ve actually heard a person or two say, ‘it’s MY business so I’ll do whatever I want to do with it.’  I wonder if that was the sentiments of those bullies on Wall Street who claimed recently before the U.S. congress that they were ever so sorry for “…severity of the 2008 financial crisis and apologized for risky behavior and poor decisions….”  I pulled this from the Associated Press story as it appears online at Tampa Bay Online.  Of the quotes that appear in the article that continue to raise my blood pressure:

  • “…Americans are furious and “have a right to be” about the hefty bonuses banks paid out after getting billions of dollars in federal help,….”
  • “…’Over the course of the crisis, we as an industry caused a lot of damage,’ Moynihan said….”
  • “…Like the other witnesses, Blankfein acknowledged lapses in judgment in some practices leading up to the crisis….”
  • “…Dimon said a crucial blunder was ‘how we just missed that housing prices don’t go up forever…..'”

Let’s talk for a moment about lapses of judgment as Mr. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs said in the quote above.  I would ask: lapses of judgment?  How could these people have such huge lapses of judgment as to cause the near collapse of an entire economic structure?  As a home business owner I have to watch very carefully every business judgment I make because I can see instantly what the ramifications of my decisions will be.  Is it that these institutions are so huge that the people who make the decisions and carry the influence can no longer see anything beyond their pen to paper?

Shoshana Zuboff, the author of The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism,  said in a BusinessWeek article :

  • “…The economic crisis is not the Holocaust but, I would argue, it derives from a business model that routinely produced a similar kind of remoteness and thoughtlessness, compounded by a widespread abrogation of individual moral judgment. As we learn more about the behavior within our financial institutions, we see that just about everyone accepted a reckless system that rewards transactions but rejects responsibility for the consequences of those transactions. Bankers, brokers, and financial specialists were all willing participants in a self-centered business model that celebrates what’s good for organization insiders while dehumanizing and distancing everyone else—the outsiders…..”

Don’t you think this hints at an erosion of personal business integrity and an erosion of personal business ethics?  I’m not so naive as to think that money and power won’t always be addictive aphrodisiacs for some people and that the siren call of more zeroes on the check can blind some people as to what cost those zeroes were arrived at?  [clumsy sentence but asks my question]  But what about the folks around those people?  Wasn’t there someone in those overpriced offices who thought, just for a moment, that perhaps this was a bit too good to be true and whenever this question arises it means that someone somewhere down the line is being hurt?

Ms. Zuboff’s references in her article another she had read about the Nazi war trials and the conclusions of “…Hannah Arendt’s ruminations on Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann as she reported on his trial in Jerusalem for The New Yorker 45 years ago….”  What at first might seem an unfair comparison, I find not so and agree as Ms. Zuboff says:

  • “…This message is not restricted to the unspeakable horrors of mass murder. It is relevant to the relationship between individual judgment and institutional processes in any situation. It’s a message that says: you can’t just blame the system for the bad things you’ve done. Yet to the world’s dismay, thousands of men and women entrusted with our economic well being systematically failed to meet this minimum standard of civilized behavior. They did not capably discern right and wrong. They either did not judge, or they did not act on their judgment….”

I guess what I want to say is that just because it is YOUR business doesn’t mean that you get to do what you WANT to do at the expense of other people. Ms. Zuboff says, “…The economic crisis has demonstrated that the banality of evil concealed within a widely accepted business model can put the entire world and its peoples at risk….” Then she asks, “… Shouldn’t those businesses be held accountable to agreed international standards of rights, obligations, and conduct? Shouldn’t the individuals whose actions unleashed such devastating consequences be held accountable to these moral standards?….”

Then she says, “…I believe the answer is yes….”  And so do I.

And why not?  Small business owners are expected to pay their taxes, not cheat their customers, have truth in advertising,  make their prices competitive [not gouging the customer or stealing market share from competitors], recall products that don’t work, offer replacements and a host of other ethical practices…as well as giving to their communities and being good citizens.  So how are small business owners any different from the “big guys?”

I think it’s a matter of personal integrity.  I think a person has to choose to be ethical and to do so it requires that he or she begin with personal integrity.  In an article at Columbus Business First, John Maxwell, author of  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, said: “…In the midst of an ever-changing and uncertain environment, there is one thing over which you have absolute control – your integrity….When it comes to being principled and ethical, you are the master of your destiny. Other people and external forces might test it in various ways, but ultimately you alone control your integrity….”

Mr. Maxwell continues in the article with, “…This is a good way to think of us as leaders when it comes to integrity. People of integrity don’t live divided lives; their morals, ethics and treatment of others are the same wherever they are and whatever they’re doing….”

Yesterday Arianna Huffington wrote about renewing the hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘…What we need is Hope 2.0: the realization that our system is too broken to be fixed by politicians, however well intentioned — that change is going to have to come from outside Washington…This realization is especially resonant as we celebrate Dr. King, whose life and work demonstrate the vital importance of social movements in bringing about change. Indeed, King showed that no real change can be accomplished without a movement demanding it….”

Maybe what’s needed is a movement from all of “us” – the individual citizens of the world [is that too broad a movement?] or to start local, the individual citizens of the U.S. – to ask that the leaders of policies [government] and industry [commerce] rediscover the meaning of personal integrity and business ethics and apply those meanings to themselves and to their business and political practices.

Is this a naive thing to ask?  No, I think it’s necessary.  The small business sector needs a healthy economy within which to prosper.  Home business owners need homes from which to conduct their business.  Everyone needs customers who have spendable income.  Can we expect a utopia?  Goodness, no…never happen because human beings are involved.  We’re fallible, but we’re also educate-able.  We can learn and grow and improve.  So let’s do so.

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Standing for the tiny business sector

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=paperboy&iid=75238″ src=”0072/8b6b57a7-cc06-4e2d-b8ac-6459166865c6.jpg?adImageId=8110054&imageId=75238″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]There exists a business segment that I’d like to hear and read about more – the tiny business sector.  Businesses with 10 employees or less. Businesses with only one person – the solo-preneur.  Just like the newsboy in the photo, there are millions of people working [or trying to] around the world to make their living out of their home office or garage or a corner of the kitchen.  Or they have a small shop downtown with two or three employees.   You don’t read about federal government bailouts for owners of lemonade stands or taco lunch trucks do you?

I’ve been noticing some articles around the news that seem to be addressing small business, but most seem to be in the jobs creation department rather than the stimulating more consumer spending department which is what the tiny business sector needs.  One interesting article is at  The Huffington Post [dot com], written December 3 by Shahien Nasiripour and titled, “No Easy Jumpstart to Get Small Business Hiring Again.”  There was one spot in the article that caught my attention and I thought was right on the money [so-to-speak]:

  • “…The two leading small-business advocacy organizations – the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA) – have differing views. The NSBA points to the lack of credit as one of its top priorities. But in a report released last month based on survey data, the NFIB noted that while its members were having difficulty getting loans, it was far from a top priority. ‘Too many [business] owners have no reason to borrow,’ the authors wrote. ‘The biggest problem was a dearth of customers.’…” [note: I kept Mr. Nasiripour’s links intact in this excerpt except one]

What I want to point out is the last statement of that excerpt: “…’The biggest problem was a dearth of customers.’…” – For the tiny business sector getting a business loan seems pointless…what for?  What we need are customers, cash-in-hand paying consumers.  I read a comment on an article somewhere yesterday [forgive my faulty memory as I’m fighting a cold and laryngitis this week] that suggested the U.S. federal government give all taxpayers a monthly ATM card pre-filled with $500 that has to be spent within the 30 days.  The idea was given as a way to boost consumer spending.  An interesting one.

Another article I found today at the Wall Street Journal online by Diana Ransom and titled, “The White House Works It,” summarizes the most recent ideas to create jobs.  Small business owners, about 130 of them, were among those who met at the White House with others representing differing business segments and sectors.  But in looking at those top ideas, none seemed to benefit the tiny business sector – the one sector most probably not expected to be part of  job creation.  The top ideas from the article:

  1. Work Share Tax Credit – the one comment I found relevant was “…Micro-businesses (firms with fewer than 20 employees) would likely be left out, says Dean Baker, a co-director at the nonpartisan Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. “Presumably, you would want to aid firms other than ones that employ close friends and family members,” he says….”
  2. Jobs Tax Credit – solo-preneur businesses will not benefit from this as this type of business does not hire or job share.
  3. ‘Cash for Caulkers’ “…Depending on how many property owners take up the initiative, the plan could not only provide jobs to the hard-hit construction sector, it would limit carbon emissions and reduce owners’ energy costs….” My thought on this one was that if you had a fellow who was an independent contractor, this could be a help to him…and I know two personally; however, this idea does depend on property owners having the budget to hire the work done. [As an aside, it is one thing to offer home owners tax incentives to participate in this type of initiative, but the reality is that they still must have the budget to afford it in the first place.]
  4. Public Works Projects – This one might be valuable to solo-preneurs if there are people with their own business who have these skills and if the initiative would include the solo-preneur.
  5. Payroll Tax Holiday – again this idea is vested in job creation rather than increasing consumer spending.
  6. Capitalizing Community Banks “…would give small businesses a greater chance of landing loans…” – this idea is grounded in the getting loans for expansion which would result in more hiring.  Tiny businesses might need loans for improvement or supplies…what about that kind of loan?

As followers of this weblog may have noted, recently I changed my own solo-preneur business from that as an independent distributor of a direct selling company’s product to being the direct seller of my own [art] product(s).  Life is a journey and it has been interesting to me to watch my own understandings and ‘light bulb’ moments as my business has grown and changed.  I have friends who remain in that other business and this past year their customers have been buying less or dropping as customers altogether.  If any reader is familiar with the art market, for the home-based artist-preneur, the art market for the past two to three years has been like a desert.  I participated in a huge Open Studios tour in 2008 that the previous year had been a financial success for many artists…last year sales were dismal and attendance was down 50%.  People just weren’t buying art.  Even the artists at the event who normally can expect a portion of their annual income went home greatly disappointed and in the red.

So. In all the plans and discussions about economic recovery and helping small business, where are the ideas for the tiny business sector and for jump-starting consumer spending?

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Horns of a dilemma, have a job or go “green?”

I have two publications in front of me this morning.  As usual the business section of my morning newspaper is one of them.  The other is a magazine I purchased while grocery shopping yesterday, “Whole Living: Body+Soul.”  The flip side of the September 2009 issue is titled, “the going greener guidebook.” [flip side is a marketing technique to put two differing kinds of editorial content into one binding…pretty clever really]

The headline of the newspaper says, “Jobs, retail reports discouraging,” with the subhead: “Economic numbers point to a slow and bumpy recovery as companies remain unwilling to hire.”

Here’s the dilemma I saw this morning: millions of people are currently out of work and their unemployment insurance is due to run out – and as the newspaper story alluded, companies are being unwilling to hire.  What are they going to do for income?  Another thought is that those who still have jobs are still worried about layoffs and income cuts.  What would happen if the greening of one sector resulted in thousands of people out of work?  Save the planet or eat?  Save the planet or keep people in their homes?

I know it’s not this simple, but let’s take an imaginary case: the paper napkin industry.  In the magazine, in the article “Reduce and Reuse,” is a list of “5 steps to less waste.”  [page 21]  These are great bits of advice.  Number two is:

  • “…use cloth towels and napkins – If just one family of four switched to cloth napkins at each meal for one year, this green step would prevent 4,380 paper napkins from ending up in the trash….”

Pro – getting rid of paper napkins:

  1. they won’t end up in the trash – however, aren’t they biodegradable?
  2. the plastic packaging material that the napkins come in from the manufacturer won’t end up in the trash – maybe this isn’t biodegradable?
  3. carbon savings from not having to truck/train/plane this product around the country and the world
  4. one less thing to purchase at the store, thus maybe one less bag necessary for carrying groceries home
  5. one less item of inventory for the grocer/drug store/super-mega store to stock
  6. good use of fabric that is left over from other projects…recycle

Con – getting rid of paper napkins:

  1. convenience – frankly, it’s just plain convenient to pull out fresh, clean napkins at breakfast and dinner
  2. buying ready-made cloth napkins means there is another industry that is perhaps contributing to the carbon footprint thing with truck/train/plane delivery
  3. buying ready-made cloth napkins means there is another industry that is perhaps contributing to industrial waste – unless their manufacturing techniques [especially in dyes] are “green”
  4. putting people out of work in the paper napkin industry – the people who work in the factories, the clerical staff, the sales staff, the managers and executives; putting people out of work in the related industries of advertising, delivery and point-of-sale locations
  5. saves having to put more into the laundry basket…saves on detergent,  water and energy use

This is a non-scientific look at how going green might impact us.  But how can you argue with the advice to give up paper napkins?  I admit: right now I purchase paper napkins.  I love the convenience of them and I like not having to wash cloth napkins.  Having said that, I’m becoming convicted to the fact that:

  • they contribute to the trash I throw away every single day; my trash, added to my neighbors, is filling our landfills;
  • adding them to my shopping list takes that amount of money away from something else I could be buying – like more fresh fruit;
  • the knowledge that I’ve been pretty lazy…the thought of having one more item to add to my weekly laundry task isn’t a welcome one.  However, a few cloth napkins added in with the bath towels and sheets…what is the real impact of that?

What really got me to thinking about the correlations between the job market and going green was the recent article in Time magazine, “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food.” [see article online here] I was appalled at the description of pigs:

  • “…Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap,….”

Up until reading this article, I had regularly gotten smoked bacon at the butcher’s counter at my local grocery store.  After reading this article I won’t anymore.  That article spoke to me clearly.  I’m now going to work to find meats for my family that come from local, sustainable farms…including eggs and poultry and fish.  I will declare that I’ll never be a vegetarian…I’ve always known that I’m an omnivore…meat and plants are what my body needs for health, in their proper amounts.

But here’s the dilemma: that article did a good job painting a picture of a planet in trouble environmentally.  And it painted a good picture of the health risks to humans of continuing as that industry stands now.

  • How do you turn it around?
  • How do you feed millions using environmentally-conscious methods that result in human-healthy foods that are “humane” to the living things used as food?
  • And how do you do it without putting people out of work in all the industries involved?  It’s not just the farms/ranches themselves…it’s the advertising agencies that need them as clients; it’s the delivery industry that needs them as clients; it’s the water and energy suppliers and communication company suppliers and clerical equipment suppliers.

It’s a huge pond with many ripples.  This was seen when the auto and housing  industries were so hugely impacted last year and this;  many small industries also suffer, putting many more people out of work and their incomes at jeopardy.

I have no answers.  But I’m liking the conversation and it’s getting my attention.  It’s making me look at my tiny business and its impact.  Is my business green?  It could be greener.  Yes, I do turn off my computer at the end of my work day – one small step at saving energy.

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Glad Disney’s okay

My newspaper’s business section has a great segment, the Motley Fool – which is certainly not found only in my newspaper – but I love the bits ‘o biz news it gives.  The other day it had some heartening news about the Disney company that made me glad.  I was glad not because I’m a business woman…I have a home-based business and I write a business blog…but frankly because I’m a grandmom.

My grandson is only 2-years old.  Matty is not yet old enough to enjoy the sites, sounds and experiences of  The Magic Kingdom and in my estimation…expectation, hope and prayer…The Magic Kingdom just has to stay economically healthy enough to be there when he is old enough to enjoy it…and his grandmom with him!  I reported last October that my husband, brother and sister-in-law and I spent a week at Disneyland in southern California.  It was so very much fun.  As enjoyable as it was to me now, as an adult visiting with other adults, oh my…I simply can’t wait to see it all through the eyes of my grandson.

So.

As reported by the Motley Fool,  “…All told, revenue fell 7% from 2008 levels to $8.6 billion, and net income stopped at $0.51 per share — 23% below last year’s $0.66 per share. Still, that’s $954 million of earnings and $881 million in free cash flow, straight into the bank. Disney remains a true cash machine, even at the worst of times…Disney’s strong brands and near-constant stream of fresh, high-quality entertainment content drives this strength….”

I love news like this.  Business just has to be good somewhere for somebody or why are we all trying so hard?

Okay, I do have a couple more newspaper story-related comments to make from today’s read:

  • EBay is selling off Skype – [from the article online] “…EBay hoped the service would catch on with users of its auction site, but it never became a popular way for buyers and sellers to connect….”

I tried EBay as a home business several years ago, but it just wasn’t me.  However, even with my limited experience, I would not have found offering a phone option for seller-buyer communication convenient…email seems optimal.  [I have a comic book collection I was selling – I know, who would think I have a comic book collection?]  For my limited totally uninformed opinion, selling Skype now appears to make sense.  Maybe if EBay goes back to being what it began as, then folks like me would re-visit and not think it so complicated.  Just my thoughts.

  • Ford, Toyota and Honda Gain.… – I love the final sentence of the article as found online: “…Consumers are expected to steer clear of dealers this autumn now that the clunker rebates are no longer available….”

This was my thought when I saw the headline.  Sales only went up because of the rebate and now that it is over, so are the sales.  When people have no money to spend [or to risk] they have no money.  Also…who really won?  The rebate was paid with taxpayers’ money.  Having asked that, I am glad for the auto salespeople who made commission on those sales…they have families to feed too.

Grandmom and Matty-he's playing an "air trumpet"

Grandmom and Matty-he's playing an "air trumpet"

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Home-based business owner’s take on the headlines

The really HUGE things of the universe seem to be beyond the ken of the solo-preneur, home-based business person.  After all…there is nothing my little business is going to do to affect the way the U.S. congress votes…there is no reason for any of those fine folks to take me to dinner in the hopes of garnering my vote and that of my employees for some bit of pork barrel legislation.  I don’t have employees.  There’s just me.

However, the doings of the universe can, and sometimes do, effect my micro-business.  This global economic slow-down is a real bummer because not only do I conduct commerce in my local geographical area, I am now seeking commerce via the world wide web.  I’ve chosen to overhaul my business…I’m still a proponent of direct selling.  I still am passionate about the products I previously shared information about with others.  But after writing about business for nearly two years and after reading about business for far longer, I decided to take the advice of making my business that which I am most passionate about.  For me that is my art.  I’m an artist and I am now making my art my product line. I have both paintings and and photo prints available.  I am the manufacturer, in a manner of speaking, of the products I represent.  The many skills learned in the world of direct selling remain quite valuable because I believe artists are in the direct selling business.

Headlines in the newspaper the other day that caught my attention:

  • Reader’s Digest files for bankruptcy protection” – say it isn’t so!  I’ve read this little publication for as long as I have been able to read.  My grandparents and my parents were subscribers.  My most favorite feature was the ‘drama in real life’ stories.  I remember when the magazine was thick and full of dozens of articles and stories.  I remember that it would take a few days to read it all.  Recently I thumbed through an issue [which was very thin] and was disappointed to see the preponderance of advertisements.  And now this.  Remember the Reader’s Digest Condensed books?  When my mom passed away a few years ago, I took boxes of her collection of those books to the thrift store.
  • “Sporting Chance” – in this world of shaky economics, it is heartening and hopeful to hear of the start up of a new business.  MakeItPro is a web-based business that is based not far from where I live in the Bay Area of California.  In the ‘about’ section of the website they say of themselves:   “…MakeItPro™ is the only sports destination in existence that is a total resource, marketplace and interactive social network for athletes, fans, coaches and parents — anywhere on the planet.…” What I think is so cool about this is that (a) this is a NEW business starting at a time when that might seem risky, and (b) it seems to be a NEW idea…a new niche.  Who knew that someone could still come up with something new and cool-to-boot?

Two news headlines and stories, two very different flavors.  What a world we live in.

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A home-based business in the face of a trillion dollar deficit

In terms I can understand, deficit spending is when my back account has an overdraft charge [happened once]…I spent more money than I had…or if my credit card got max-ed out [happened once]…again, spending more money than I had coming in.  To me that is deficit spending.  And, for me the average Josephine citizen here in the good old U.S.A., I can only go so far on a deficit.  Even with a bank program for overdraft protection, a person can only over-draft by so much.  Also, when a credit card is max-ed, that’s it…you can’t use it anymore.  The average citizen can never achieve the lofty stratosphere of a trillion dollar deficit – it’s difficult to even imagine.  Yet the country [the U.S.] keeps on deficit-ing [this isn’t an actual word, but it works] and it’ll get worse.  This article in the Roanoke Times, dated yesterday and written by AP Economic writer Martin Crutsinger, makes these points:

  • “…Government revenues have fallen by 17.9 percent in the October-to-June period compared with a year ago. That reflects the severity of the current recession, which is one of the deepest in decades and the longest downturn in the post-World War II period. That has meant millions of people losing their jobs — and thus not paying payroll taxes into the government’s coffers — and a big drop in corporate tax collections as well….”
  • “…Government spending is being driven higher not only by the financial bailouts and the stimulus spending but also by what economists call “automatic stabilizers.”   That is spending that automatically occurs in times of economic troubles to help cushion the shock of a downturn.  The government is spending billions of dollars more on these expenditures — such things as food stamps and unemployment compensation for the millions of workers who have lost their jobs.  In all, government outlays are up 20.5 percent through the first nine months of this budget year compared to the same period a year ago….”

I mention these two points from the article because I wanted to point out two phrases in particular:

  1. “…That has meant millions of people losing their jobs — and thus not paying payroll taxes into the government’s coffers….
  2. “…such things as food stamps and unemployment compensation for the millions of workers who have lost their jobs….”

It may seem that the ordinary citizen can’t do anything about a trillion dollar deficit but I’m going to suggest that there is something the ordinary citizen can do.  I’m going to suggest that the ordinary citizen can start a home-based business to either get themselves off the unemployment rolls by employing themselves or start a home-based business as a hedge against possible job loss or to augment a current situation.

Losing your job is an awful thing.  In the past six years, my husband has been laid off twice – I know very well how frightening that is when you live in a society where every single thing costs money: the food you eat, the water you drink, the roof over your head…everything.  We do not live in a time or place where you can pack up the buckboard wagon and move on to another unclaimed area and try to live off the land…here all the land is taken.

Starting something new does take a few things:

  • courage and initiative
  • perseverance and determination
  • time and energy

Starting something new like a home-based business can make the difference between making a mortgage payment or not; buying groceries with money you’ve earned as opposed to utilizing state or federal funds through food stamps or other subsidy programs [thus becoming a drop in the deficit bucket].  Starting a home-based business can give you leverage and freedom and pride of accomplishment.

There are a great many companies out there that offer a wide variety of products and services that are conducive to becoming a home-based business.  One suggestion is to look at Direct Selling 411 – this site can get you started looking in the right direction and answer some basic questions.

Is having a home-based business for everyone?  Probably not, but I do think it is an option that anyone can consider.

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