10 tips to help you start a business in 2018!

Are you thinking of starting a business in 2018?

Here are some pointers to help you along the way. I have started a lot of businesses. Some have been a success, and others barely made a profit. There are a lot of things to consider before jumping right into getting incorporated. One big mistake I’ve made was not having a clear business plan before starting. When my husband and I started our first business, it was a dog training business called The Doggy Guru. We did great at first, but as the business grew my husband could not keep up with the demand, and we eventually had to shut the doors. Now, you might be thinking if you were growing, why would you have to close? We were growing in customers, but still not making enough money to hire additional trainers, and that caused him to only be able to take on so many new clients. What ended up happening is my husband got burnt out within only a few short years, and decided it was time to move on. If we would have had a set business plan, we would have been prepared for the spike in clients and knew how to deal with that. Just jumping head first into owning a business will be a sure way to fail, it may not happen at first, but over time without a clear guideline of where you want to go with your business, you end up getting stuck, scared, and lost!

After that, we learned that we needed a clear goal and business plan, so our next business was a great success. We started a commercial cleaning company called Matos Clean. I had a business plan, we had rules and guidelines for employees, and even had a lawyer who helped with the paperwork. This business felt different going in because we knew we had all our ducks in a row. Businesses saw how professional our paperwork was, and we got hired early on with some big companies. We even got a contract with an apartment complex that gave us steady work. What we didn’t plan for was a bad employee. Yeah, we went through all the proper channels and background checks, but still, you never know if a person is going to be a good employee. We were cleaning a big bank, and we had just hired a new guy. A really sweet older man and he and my husband got along right away. During one of the routine cleanings of the bank, this new guy stole money! Yep, he stole money from every single donation jar in the bank. Now, because this was a very large bank there were jars in every office and on most of the counters. There are camera’s everywhere, and needless to say, the next day we got a call from the police, asking us to meet with the bank supervisor. We were terrified and didn’t know what to expect until we saw the camera footage. We were embarrassed, devastated, and also grateful the bank did not press charges on us. Instead, they asked us to pay back what was taken from the jars, and since it was donations they really had no idea how much it was, so they gave us a number, and it pretty much bankrupted our little business. I don’t tell you this to scare you, instead, I tell you this to prepare you. We hired the wrong person and that untimely was our demise. You may do everything right and by the book, but there is always going to be something unexpected that pops up no matter what business you have, so have a little money stashed away for those incidents, just in case. I just hope that never happens to you!

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way by owning businesses. This info is based in Florida, as this is the only state I’ve ever started a business in, so be sure to check your state’s guidelines, and county licenses needed before going any further with a business plan!

1. Paying customers– Before you ever even think about getting incorporated be sure you have a product or service that people want. If you don’t have clients already, then you may be wasting money by starting a business. If you have a product, test it by selling in on Ebay, or Facebook first. If you want to bake cakes, sell them to friends and family to be sure you can actually make a profit. If you’re offering a service, get a portfolio of jobs, or gigs you have done so that you will have references once you start your business. Ultimately, you don’t want to spend money on getting your licenses if you don’t already have interest in your product or service. With our business Sunshine Breeders, we were selling the worms long before we started our LLC.  The reason we had to incorporate, is that we started selling the worms to local stores, who could only pay us if we had a business checking account. In order to get a business checking, you have to have a registered business.

2. Business plan – I know I touched on this earlier, but it’s vital to have a set-out goal or plan for what you want for your business. Starting a business just because you have customers is not going to last long term. Don’t be too anxious, patients is a blessing sometimes. You need a clear idea of where you want your business to go, how much money you expect to make, if you want employees, or what your end goal is for this business. Having these ideas are going to help you focus on them, and help make those goals happen, it’s also going to keep you on track for what you need to change if you missed the goals in the first year. I can’t stress enough how important this is when you are thinking of starting a business. Also, a great idea is a vision board or journal for your business goals. If you want help with writing a business plan feel free to email me. SheenaDiane@gmail.com

3. Should you get an LLC– This is a question I get asked a lot and it’s one that’s honestly hard to answer. Currently, our business is an LLC but when we had our cleaning business it was an S Corporation. Here is the definition found on www.legalzoom.com “A limited liability company (LLC) combines elements of a partnership, sole proprietorship, and a corporation. Consider your type of business, personal assets, and liability risk when deciding whether to form an LLC. what does LLC mean? Limited liability means that its owners, also called members, are usually not personally responsible for the LLC’s debts and lawsuits. If an LLC files for bankruptcy, the members do not have to use personal money to pay the company’s debts. If the LLC faces a lawsuit, the members do not risk losing their home to cover a settlement”.

4. What is an S Corp – Here is what an S Corp is – this was taken directly from the IRS website: “S corporations are corporations that elect to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes. Shareholders of S corporations report the flow-through of income and losses on their personal tax returns and are assessed tax at their individual income tax rates. This allows S corporations to avoid double taxation on the corporate income. S corporations are responsible for tax on certain built-in gains and passive income at the entity level. To qualify for S corporation status, the corporation must meet the following requirements:
• Be a domestic corporation
• Have only allowable shareholders
o May be individuals, certain trusts, and estates and
o May not be partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders
• Have no more than 100 shareholders
• Have only one class of stock
• Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e. certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations).
Whether you get an S corp, C corp or LLC really depends on what you want out of your business. I suggest speaking with a business lawyer, or Business advisor on the correct one to choose. There is also Sole Proprietorship and that is where you act as the business using your own social. However, I was advised against that being if you ever get sued or go in debt all your assets like your house, car, etc. become the businesses and you can lose everything you own in your name. If you are incorporated as an LLC or S Corp then the business acts as a separate entity and your personal assets cannot be touched!

5. Marketing – One thing I had to learn the hard way, to have a successful business of any sort, you have got to learn to market it. Going back to the Doggy Guru days, I would have spent all day long marketing for my husband, and it paid off because again we got so much business we had to turn people away. I had to learn the hard way on what worked and what didn’t. You have got to have some sort of online presence so that people will buy whatever it is your selling. This does not necessarily mean you need to run out and buy a website right away. Places like Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter can act as your website until you start making enough money to put back into the business. If you are not good at marketing but have high hopes for your business, I would suggest hiring someone to market your business for you. It really is going to make or break your business. It’s the difference between having friends and family as customers, to growing into a big enough business that you have customers for years to come. Social media is really the best and most cost-friendly way to market. If you need tips on this, check out Gary Vaynerchuk, he is literally the master of social media, and he has taught me so much more than I ever would have learned on my own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3w3YvhbHVA

6. Knowledge is power – I say this a lot but it’s so true. If you are going to brand any type of product or service, you have to be knowledgeable about what the people want. If you are not reading about your craft and learning all there is to know, then what makes you stand out next to the other guy selling something. There are no original ideas. We are all fighting for someone to spend their money on whatever it is we are selling. If you are not an expert in your craft, then I’m going to go to someone else who can answer my questions about the product or service. You have to know everything there is to know about your business. If you don’t know it, then research it. Get the answer and memorize it!

7. Customer Service – This by far goes such a long way. For instance, I also sell Scentsy, the scented wax, but there are literally hundreds of people in my area selling Scentsy. So, why would you buy from me? I strive to give great customer service. I will meet you wherever you need me to, I will take time out of my day to speak with you if you have questions, and I always give thank you cards, or gifts when you purchase from me. I go above and beyond for my customers and they know that when they book a party with me, they are going to get lots of goodies in return. Another example of this is our phone company. Note, that I am not being paid in any way, shape, or form to plug T-Mobile, but I’m going to use them as an example. We have been with T-Mobile for over 12 years. Do you know why? Because their customer service is amazing. I can’t tell you the number of times they have replaced our phones or given us a discounted phone. They may not have the best cellular service, nor the best data plans, but we would not go anywhere else because over the past 12 years T-Mobile has given us the best customer service possible. No, the customer is not always right, and yes, there will be times people will try to take advantage, but the truth is, keeping the customer happy makes everyone’s life a little better. Without good customer service, it’s going to be hard to keep people coming back.

8. Taxes – This is one of those things that I have no clue about, but, it’s also something I didn’t think about when starting our first few businesses. When you are a business owner, the taxes that come out of your check in a regular job no longer happens. You have to manually deduct the taxes from your income. What helped me was having two bank accounts. I had my main business account, and I had my tax account. I actually set up a checking and savings together and used the business savings for taxes only. This way when it was time to file, I would not get a huge tax bill that I had no clue how I was going to pay. Another suggestion I can give unless you are an accountant yourself is to hire a CPA to help in this department. The last thing you want is to not file your taxes correctly and get the IRS after you.

9. Files – Be sure you keep all your receipts going out and coming in. A huge help to me was getting Quickbooks. Yes, it is a bit costly. I want to say it cost about $200, but in my opinion, it’s worth it to keep everything organized and filed. I get sidetracked really easily, so having a program like this really keeps me accountable. If I don’t file a receipt, then I won’t have the correct amount on my budget paperwork. Definitely look into purchasing a program like Quickbooks to help you keep everything in one place, and keep all your sales in order. You will need this at the end of the year when filing your taxes or when filing your business report. I also use a filing system with folders. You can set up one folder for income, and one for business expenses.

10. Florida – Because I live in Florida I register my business name through Sunbiz.org. Depending on where you live you will have guidelines to follow. Also, depending on the county you live in you might need a county license in order to do business in your area. I say do all the above before paying to get incorporated, let getting an LLC or S corp be the last thing you do. The reason I say this is because you don’t want to drop $150 bucks if you’re not truly ready for the long haul in your business. There are so many little steps you will learn along the way. You will make mistakes, but learn from them and keep moving forward. Once you register your name on Sunbiz.org then you will need to get a tax ID number. You can get this by going to IRS.com. It’s pretty easy, you just fill out the form with your new business info that you get from Sunbiz, then you get emailed your tax ID or EIN. With this number, you can open a business bank account, and have a business PayPal. If you are not sure where to find info for your state, call your local tax office. They can direct you to the right locations, and answer a lot of your questions.

I hope that my experiences can help you in yours. I want to wish you a very prosperous 2018, and all the best in starting your new business! I am always glad to help, and love hearing from you so feel free to shoot me an email below, or find me on social media! Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter.

Check out my podcast on starting a business: https://anchor.fm/sheenawahm?at=2125452

Become a food critic!

With the internet, anyone can pop online and write a review about a place they dined at. I do this all the time, and one of my favorite places to review the places I’ve eaten at is Trip Advisory. I give more details in my podcast about how to become a food critic

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I have been trying to break into the food critic industry for a while now and to be honest, it’s not an easy task, but it can be done! My husband and I love going out to eat, he has pretty much turned me into a foodie. I went from being this country girl living out in the sticks, eating at Sonny’s BBQ or Taco Bell, to now knowing the correct way to eat lobster. Most of our dates for the past 12 years have revolved around food. This has given me a pretty good palate! For the past 2 years I have been writing reviews on the places we eat at, and a few months back I got contacted by one of the sites I give free reviews too, letting me know my reviews were one of the higher ranked ones! I was so excited that I started thinking about becoming a paid food critic. Who doesn’t want to get paid to eat?

Here are my 10 tips for becoming a paid food critic.

  1. BA, or degree in journalism – Most of the places I’ve found that hire food critics always ask that you have a BA or have a degree in journalism. I don’t have either of these, so most of the higher paying jobs are not on the table for me, but don’t count me out yet. Just because I don’t have a degree in journalism doesn’t mean I can’t be a food Critic!
  2. Experience – Even without a degree, almost everywhere I’ve looked ask for experience. This is great for me personally because I have a ton of experience being a freelance writer, as well as all the reviews I’ve done online. I can refer potential employers to my reviews, and they can see how well my reviews rank, and how much influence I’ve had on my readers. So, go get some experience. Start writing reviews. Go to Trip Advisor, Yelp or other sites that ask for your reviews on places you’ve been. Even Google has a place where you can review places. This is the best way to start getting experience! When you eat somewhere, write about it.
  3. Take Notes – Whenever you go out to eat, always have a pen and paper in your purse. Jot down the dish you ate, your wait time, and any little details you may have liked or disliked about the place. If you are anything like me you tend to forget things once you leave, so having notes always helps me remember what I want to say about that place. Remember to be unbiased and honest. You don’t want to complain about the guy next to you smelling bad if it has nothing to do with the service you got.
  4. Become knowledgeable about the food – One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a food critic, is not knowing the correct name of the restaurant or food that you ate there. Familiarize yourself with the place, and the menu. Make sure you are spelling the food names correctly, or as it’s written on their menu. For example, Over the moon tots instead of tater tots. Know what you ordered and how to spell it!
  5. Research – The one thing I always do when I want to learn about something is research it. I go to Google, or Youtube, and search for as many things possible about the subject. Not all of them will be good information, but you have to take the good with the bad and know when to call a bluff on some post out there. Meaning, if you see something that says for $200 I’ll teach you how to make money as a food critic…walk away. You can find this knowledge on your own for free. Don’t pay for something you can do yourself.
  6. Blog – The best way to get started is to just start writing! This goes along with experience, but when you start your own blog you are in control of the content. There are a ton of FREE blog sites you can start with like Blogspot, WordPress, or Medium. You don’t need to invest money upfront for this, just start your blog on one of these free platforms and see if you get any feedback. In my opinion, a blog is the best way to get started in this industry. Especially if you don’t have any schooling on the subject. If you can become known as the local go-to person for places in the area, then you are bound to be picked up by your local newspaper, or other places that want your influence for their gain. Start blogging and marketing your blog to local sites. Once you get content to share, you can start getting momentum! See where it leads!
  7. Networking – Finding like-minded people is a great way to learn what the do’s and don’t are to this industry. Facebook has a ton of groups for all sorts of things. I know you can find one for food critics or if not, make your own group for food reviews in your area. Become the ADMIN of your own group and connect it to your blog. A win, win for marketing and connecting with locals all at the same time!
  8. Go incognito – The one thing you don’t want to do when you are working as a food critic is to tell the restaurant that you are a food blogger or food critic. This will change your experience, and you want it to be authentic. If the place you review knows you are doing a review, they will go out of their way to make sure you get the best service possible, and it won’t be a real review. Stay anonymous so that you can have a real authentic experience, and so that your readers will know the real story of the place you go to. Now, as you gain popularity, you may start to get recognized, but ultimately you just don’t want to announce you’re a food critic.
  9. Be fearless – What I mean by this is that when you are reviewing food, you want to not be scared to try new things. Actually, you kind of have to try new things. If you go to 10 places and always order the steak and mashed potatoes, then your reviews are going to start getting pretty boring. I know we all are picky when it comes to the food we like, and dislike but if you want to be a well-paid food reviewer, you’re going to have to get out of that comfort zone and try new things. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to eat mealworm cookies or chocolate covered ants, that is unless you want to, but it does mean you need to expand your palate and taste those grits you never cared for, or the fattening chicken and dumplings your momma told you that go straight to your thighs. Hey, if you want to eat for a living you might want to invest in a Gym membership as well, cause you need to try it all. Not all at once though…In moderation. HAHA
  10. Food Poisoning – The bitter truth about eating for a living is there will come a time when you get food poisoning. Unfortunately, it’s part of the job. Whenever you are dealing with numerous restaurants and even mom and pop type places, there is a chance you can get food poisoning. Just look at Gordon Ramsay for instance, he has been on many TV shows and talks about the hundreds of times he’s gotten food poisoning. It stinks, and yes I mean that literally, but it’s one of the downfalls of eating for a living. On the plus side, at least you can expose them for unsanitary food.

These are my personal tips that have been helping me along the way, and I hope they help you as well. Get eating and writing about it now, it’s never too late to start!  As always, I would love to hear from you so feel free to find me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook. Or send me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!

12 unique ways you can make money

 

Thinking outside the box

This is for those of you who just can’t get into the flow of your everyday job. Maybe you’ve tried a lot of different jobs and for one reason or another, it just never works out. Your interest always changes, and working for someone else is not what makes you happy.

Well, friend, I am here to tell you that we are living in the best time possible for thinking outside the box, and making money where you never thought possible. We are in the age of the internet, and word of mouth does not have to be from the people next door, you can literally reach millions of people with a click of a button on the internet.

TODAY IS YOUR DAY! MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Here are 12 ways to make money thinking outside the box:

  1. Selling Cow Poop – I know a guy whose dad owns a cattle farm. He sells cows for a living. His son (my friend) was always made to go out and clean the cow poop from the pasture. As this boy grew up, he was still cleaning out the cow pasture, but now instead of dumping all that poop…he sells it. Yeah, he makes money selling manure to fertilizer plants. Yes, it is a stinky job but he is an example of how thinking outside the box can bring you income.
  2. Worm Farming – This is what I am doing as my side hustle. People buy my worms for bait or to feed their reptiles. We are a small operation as of now, and we make about $200 a month, but it’s for worms! If you like bugs you can also breed roaches. Depending on where you live Dubia Roaches are a very popular feeder bug. You cannot farm those in Florida but roaches are even easier to farm if you can handle knowing roaches are in your house.
  3. Busking – A busker is an entertainer who performs on the street, or at a show for cash. You’ve probably seen someone at a beach or park singing with a hat on the ground.  Well, that is a busker. My cousin actually makes a living as a bucket drummer. He is amazing to watch by the way. If you have a talent, why not make a show out of it. Sing, belly dance, be a living statue or make up your own show. You might be surprised at how much money you might make. I even know The Tampa Bay Girl on Fire. She’s from the Tampa area and puts on amazing fire shows, even does naughty body painting as her full-time job! Cool right? I’ll link their info below if you want to check them out later. 
  4. Birthday Party Act – Ever consider dressing up as a mermaid or fairy for a birthday party? I actually know a mermaid performer personally named Mermaid Raquel, and she gets booked every year to come to a preschool & talk about ocean conservation. If you really hustled with this, you could bring in some money during the year. I can tell you from personal experience that I hired two Princesses to come to my daughter’s Princess tea party. One painted faces, and the other read stories. They were teenage girls who got to split $350. That was for only a few hours of work. The birthday party market can bring in cash like crazy.
  5. Fetish Videos – Oh no I just went there. I may not have personal experience with this category but I do know that sex sells & if you are in a pinch for money then maybe this sort of thing might be the answer. Now the good thing about fetish stuff is most the time you don’t have to show your face. You can stomp on fruit, or just walk around the room in heels only showing your feet. You can even just rub your elbows if that is what you want to do. I guarantee you someone will pay to see it, there are plenty of sites that will buy your videos. Along these lines is also sex phone operator. I can’t do this one because I never have a quiet house, plus I’d just feel weird doing it, but I have heard many college girls were put through college being a sex phone operator. It’s definitely outside the box and an easy money maker!
  6. Cleaning Crime Scenes – This is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle it, you can make so much money with just one crime scene. We are talking thousands of dollars. Now this takes a little more effort on your part, and you’ll need some classes to be up on all your hazardous materials and what not, but talk about big money!!! One or two clean up’s and you would not have to work again for months! 
  7. Rock Painter – This one might take you by surprise but I am a part of a lot of painted rock groups. This is the new craze that has hit just about every town on the map. On one of my local groups, a lady paints rocks and sells them to people on the page. I kid you not! She is an amazing artist and some of the rocks she paints belong in a frame for sure, but I was shocked when I found out she sells some of her rocks for $45! And yes, they do sell at that price. When you consider you can get a rock in your yard for free, this is pure profit, and since it’s the new hot thing to do, right now is the time to jump on this bandwagon.
  8. Yard Sale – Okay, this one may not be outside of the box; however, you can actually make a living by going to yard sales, and reselling stuff online. Ebay, Amazon, Let Go, and Craigslist are all sites where you can sell your stuff. If you buy a really nice product for $1 at a yard sale, but you research it and see it’s selling for $10 on eBay then you just made a $9 profit. This is something you can do on weekends as a side hustle, or turn it into a full-time income. Also, you can make money just by selling your stuff. Need an extra $500 to make rent this month? Do your own yard sale. I know you have crap tucked away that you can sell for a profit if you really wanted to. On that note, you can also do consignment sales. Most consignments sales will give you top dollar for your kids hand me down toys & clothes. 
  9. Twitch – Oh I love watching Twitch streams. If you have not heard of this, go check it out (link below). It’s a place where you can watch people play video games live. You can also draw, sing, whatever you want on the live stream, as long as you keep it PG 13. So, with Twitch you get followers just like other social media platforms, but people can actually donate to your channel. If you have good content and are consistent, people will start subscribing. If you subscribe on Twitch, you actually pay to subscribe to that user, so they get paid for you watching them. It’s actually brilliant, and I watched a girl make over 5 grand in one 12-hour gaming stream. Whoever is watching gets to see the donations pop up on the screen, it was insane but that girl had a ton of money in her PayPal that night. She was pretty entertaining to watch, but the crazy thing is that in one night she made more than I make in one month. 
  10. Emails – Did you know that you can actually make money by checking someone’s email’s and answering them professionally? It’s true. Some big businesses get millions of emails a day and the boss cannot keep up with them all, so they hire people to check their emails and answer them with the message they provide. If you want to find more details on this, you can Google it. There are now sites that the company can hire and you’d work for that email writing company. However, some places would rather work with you one on one, so having a good landing page to tell them who you are could help you start your own email reading business. Worth a shot, right?
  11. YouTube – So many people are making money on YouTube these days. I can actually say I am one of them. Okay, so I have never made enough money to quit my job or anything, but I use Henna in my hair. Henna is a plant used in body art, but you can also use it to dye your hair naturally. Anyway, I have a ton of YouTube videos on it (link below) and have made a few hundred dollars just from my videos. Now, I have not posted a new video in years, but if I would put the time into it as I used to, then I might be able to make more, but I am proof that you actually can get paid from YouTube videos. If you have something interesting to say, teach, or share why not document it! You might just get a following, although most channels do not become big overnight. Like any business, YouTube is a huge commitment, and it will be years before you see money coming in, but if you have the gift, why not post videos! I would love to see them…
  12. Doggy Daycare – If you have space and don’t mind dogs, then why not offer your yard to a few friends as a doggy daycare. A lot of people have to leave their dogs locked up for hours when they go to work, and most owners feel like their dog is like their child. Dogs bring in cash, whether it’s baking dog treats (another great idea) or selling blinged out dog collars, in the right area dog businesses are pure gold. In my town, the #1 food truck is a dog bakery. It’s true. So if you love dogs, why not open your home to a few of your friends or neighbor’s dogs. See how it works out. If that fails, you can always offer to walk the dogs, and even for an extra charge clean up their yard of doggy doo doo! Why not?

Those were 12 ideas that I thought could help you think outside the box. Now, I am going to tell you about my own experience with a side hustle that actually has brought in more income then we expected. My husband and I are longtime exotic animal lovers, we have nine lizards. We started spending so much money on mealworms, plus they always looked so small and barely alive when we bought them from the pet store, so we decided to start raising mealworms for our lizards. This way we can feed the worms organically, and gut load them for our lizards. After a year we ended up with so many worms that we didn’t know what to do with them all. That’s when my husband came up with the idea to sell them. We got a local store interested in some to use for bait and then Sunshine Breeders was born. Now we have regular customers each week and the store that buys from us monthly. It does take work to separate the worms, a few hours a week, but considering we only paid for the 500 worms $12 last year and now we have thousands of worms we have already tripled our investment. Now that we are an official LLC I did have to invest in cups, labels, cards ETC… but still overall a small overhead when you consider we feed the worms our food. Like the head of lettuce, the peel of a banana stems of broccoli, all things that would have been thrown out. This is a great example of how you can make money just by thinking outside the box.

Here are some links for you to check out.

Chris the Bucket Drummer – http://www.bucketdrummer.com/

Tampa Girl on Fire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY8sp0895IM

Naughty Body art – http://www.naughtybodyart.com/

Twitch – https://go.twitch.tv/

Mermaid Raquel – https://www.facebook.com/raquelthemermaid/?fref=mentions

Sheena The Henna Queen – https://www.youtube.com/sheenathehennaqueen

Sunshine Breeders – http://www.sunshinebreeders.com