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

5 ways to find real work at home jobs!

One of the main questions I get on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, is how can I find real work at home jobs?

This is a loaded question. Not because you can’t find legit work at home opportunities but because every person is good at something different. So a job I find may not work for you. Let me give you an example. My husband wanted me to find him a work at home job because he was done working in the Florida heat. So, I worked my magic and found him a job working as a Remote Computer Technician. What he did was when someone would call into the company, he would have to answer their questions while going into their computer with a program from this company and try to fix the issue with them on the phone. Well, this sounds great, right? WRONG! Don’t get me wrong it is a great job for the right person, but for my animal loving, people person husband this was pure hell! He hated it and actually ended up having an anxiety attack before I begged him to quit! He could not handle it.

Now, he is back in his element as a monster truck driver and loving every minute of it. The reason I tell you this story is not to discourage you, but rather to make you think about what you like to do. If you are an outdoor person then being stuck in the house all day is going to drive you crazy. We spend the majority of our time at work, if you don’t enjoy what you do, then you are going to turn into a grumpy, miserable person. Johnny has a blog if you’d like to follow his adventures (Gator Johnny).

So, let’s think about things you enjoy doing. Take me for example, I love talking to people on the phone, and I have been in sales pretty much my entire life. I love social media and writing is a passion of mine. After knowing all that about myself it’s no wonder I find joy in writing blogs, and that I found a perfect remote job for me. I am the marketing and sales specialist at a low voltage firm. Sorry folks they are not hiring, but the real jobs are out there you just have to narrow your search and know what it is you want to do.

Now, let’s say you don’t really want to work for anyone. Maybe you prefer to work for yourself. This is the perfect time to start your own business. However, this is no easy task. You have to have money to make money when you go into owning your own business. This is where opportunities like the MLM sales is a good place to start, just to see if you can actually make money selling stuff. In my case, I think I have done every sales MLM there is. Avon, MaryKay, Juice Plus, I am still currently selling Scentsy. (Shameless plug). Direct sales have actually helped me in my day job and have really given me great customer service skills. So, this might be an idea even if it’s just to test out your marketing and selling skills. I will put my link here if you’d like to join me so I can help you with this process. https://sheenadiane.scentsy.us/join

 

Here are 5 ways that I have found real work at home jobs.

  • Monster and Indeed – These sites are full of real jobs. No one with false info can even post on these job sites or it gets flagged. That means, going to one of these sites is a sure way for you to know the job that’s posted is legit. This is actually how I found the computer tech job for my husband. If you want a work at home job then you would type Remote jobs or work from home. However, you do need to know what you are looking for. So, don’t just type in remote jobs. Instead type in remote sales jobs, or remote computer jobs, remote marketing jobs, transcription, and you could try remote call center jobs. Whatever it is that you are good at then type that in. You will find the occasional Avon and those sort of things but if you have a clear idea what you want, then it’s easy to weed through them.

Here is an example:

 

 

 

  • Google keywords – Another way I have been able to find real work from home is going into a Google or other search engine and typing in keywords. Again, you have to have a clear idea what you want because just putting in work at home is going to give you a bunch of scams to weed through. I used this method when I wanted to book more Freelance writing gigs. My keywords were (write for pay) (paid to write) (paid writing gigs). Now to make it a little easier to narrow it down, instead of just write for pay, I would type in (write for pay dogs). I am a former Vet Tech and my first weekly writing gig was with a pet sitting website that I wrote a blog post for weekly. I loved it because I didn’t have to do a ton of research on the subject. Here is an example of (writing for pay dogs):

 

  • Craigslist – This one is hit or miss and one that I would be really leery of. Yes, I have gotten paid jobs with Craigslist, but I have also heard from so many people who were scammed using this very site. Having a clear idea of what you want gives you a better mindset going into it. If you know you want to work for a company and book cruises, for instance, you are less likely to fall for a person with no website, and asking you to pay them for training. Be professional and that way you can sniff out the fake people right away! Don’t ever give out any personal information until you have done your research and know the company is real, and you have proof. In Florida, we have Sunbiz.org that gives all the legal documentation for businesses. Your state will have one as well, so go on there and make sure it’s a real company before giving out your info. Be smart.

  • Word of mouth – This one is not as quick as going into a search engine, but I got my last job this way. Before I got into Marketing and Sales I was a full-time transcriptionist doing insurance claims. I was at a mom’s group and one of the moms was telling me about her job and that she worked from home. I was all ears at this point, and she gave me the information for her job. I was not cut out for transcription work. Yes, I can type about 80 words a minute, so that part was not bad, but the part I did not enjoy was listening to the people talk about the accidents they were in. It was depressing and I was isolated in my room. I am a people person so, in the end, I could not hack this job. That’s why I say make sure you know what you enjoy because after a few months I started to dread clocking in and that’s not what you want when you work from home. Ask around your group of friends, church, or mom’s group. Chances are someone knows or is working from home. A lot of companies are hiring remotely now because it cost them less!

 

  • Newspaper and classified ads – Yes, the good old-fashioned newspaper always has jobs listed in the classifieds. Every big newspaper has a website. Mine happens to be the Orlando Sentinel. If you don’t want to wait for the paper to come the next day, just head over to your local newspaper website. Go to the classified section and type in remote jobs. In this case being too specific will give you a blank search so don’t get to narrow on these searches. You can even try work from home. These are great because you know a person trying to scam you is not going to pay to put an ad in the paper. These ads are not cheap! Here is an example:

 

These are 5 real ways I have found work at home opportunities. I have had some sort of work at home hustle for the past 10 years. I love being able to have the freedom to work remotely, and I want you to have that as well. I hope this helps you get started on your work at home journey. I would love to hear from you so please feel free to find me on my social media or email SheenaDiane@gmail.com. I also do a daily podcast on iTunes. 

See you soon!

Bonus: I have seen some new remote jobs posted on Apple.com as well as Amazon… Keep me posted and good luck!

So you want to work from home?

With the rat race of traffic, tolls, people, and cost of childcare, working remotely is becoming more popular than ever. It not only benefits the stay at home mom or dad, but it is a win for your employer as well. They get the same amount of work without the overhead of having to add a desk, drug test, and have a lower overhead cost. For the right person working from home can increase their productivity and overall well being. Meaning some people are happier when working from home, which in return produces more business, better customer service, and overall a better employee!

So, Now that you’ve decided that you are ready to jump headfirst into the work at home community, what do you do next?

Finding these opportunities is not always easy, and if you go to the wrong places you could find yourself falling for scams. Believe me, I’ve done it. So here are  10 things you need to know before jumping in head first to this type of career.

  1. Research – You have to really take some time to research the company or the job you are thinking of getting. There are so many fake get rich quick things out there that you can’t trust anyone until you have done your homework.
  2. Your passion – This may seem like a no-brainer but there are actually a ton of jobs you can do from home, so knowing what it is that makes you happy to go to work is what you should be focusing on. For me, I am a huge people person & am great with sales, so when I got a transcription job doing insurance claims I hated it. Why? Because I was listening to a recording all day, never talking to anyone and it was not for me. I started to dread putting on my headphones. Now I work in marketing and sales & I love it & look forward to turning on my laptop for work each day!
  3. Facebook groups – It may seem like a normal thing to log onto Facebook and go looking for groups that offer advice on jobs at home, but from experience, the only thing I ever got from any of those groups were links to click on a landing page and sign up to make someone else rich. It will only bring you confusion, frustration, and scams. I actually had a lady ask me for my name, birthday, and address on private message because she said she was doing a job interview with me at 10 PM on Facebook? I said, lady, I am not giving you any of my info then reported her to Facebook. She was banned after that for trying to steal people’s information. Just be careful, and use good judgment. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, and if someone is asking you for personal info on Facebook, never fall for it!
  4. Indeed & Monster – Once you find what you like to do now you can go job searching, I have had a lot of success using the keyword Remote jobs in Indeed & Monster. If you would like to work in Customer Service, for instance, you would look for “Remote Customer Service jobs”.
  5. Be your own boss – If the thought of working for someone else is not your cup of tea, that’s okay. You can find a lot of jobs that you can do on your own. I have been working as a Freelance Writer for many years & still do it occasionally. I did it as a side hustle so never made it a full-time job, but if you put in the work you can make it a full-time income. There are a lot of other things you can do on your own as well, and we can get into those in another post. Or you can always ask me if you want to know something specific.
  6. Balance – This is something I had to learn the hard way. If you have kids and are going to work from home you have got to learn to balance your time. I still struggle with this one, but I have come up with a system that works for me & helps me to get my work done, pick up my girls from school, have time to be with my two-year-old son, make dinner, help with homework, and do all the after school activities. One thing that works for me is alarms. I set alarms on my phone for lunchtime, this is so I won’t get so caught up with work that I forget to feed the baby and myself. I put alarms on my phone for every task I need to do throughout the day so that I can be sure to get everything done. I have also found little things that help me be more productive, but I can go into more detail in another post.
  7. Distractions – I had no idea just how many distractions I would face being a work at home mom. Being I have a two-year-old home with me while I work you might hear crying in the background while I make that important business call. The dogs start barking when I am trying to close a sale, the doorbell rings.. the list goes on and on. Dealing with distractions is a huge struggle to me. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest, sure does look nice after answering emails for the last twenty minutes. Or the TV has been off for a while, let me see if my show is on! Nope… don’t do it. That five-minute break turns into an hour and then you end up getting behind. Keeping your head focused and on track is a huge hurdle in the work at home life. I can give you some tips and tricks that have helped me overcome some of these distractions in another post.
  8. Keywords – There are many ways to find jobs you can do from home & a great tool to start with is Search Engines. I use Google for my keywords and it always gave me great success at finding side jobs here and there. Going back to the freelance writing career, I used the keywords ‘Write for pay” or “paid writers”. This would bring up things that were paying people to write. I actually found one of my favorite writing jobs this way. I found a pet sitting blog that needed a writer to give her weekly articles on pet related things. This was perfect for me because I am a former Veterinary Technician and had a lot of knowledge on this subject. If you were looking for transcription work, for example, you’d want to search out “Insurance transcription jobs”, or “movie subtitle transcription work”. These types of keywords can help narrow down your searches. Plus you can find a ton of YouTube videos on your given interest and the best keywords to find that particular job!
  9. Direct Sales – A lot of people have asked me if direct sale or MLM (multi-level marketing) businesses are worth it and being I have done my fair share, I can give you my honest opinion on them. I have sold Avon, Mary Kay, Mark, Juice Plus, Jamberry nails & Scentsy. When I first started selling these I did make money. Not a lot but enough to cover the products I wanted to buy & to keep my website going. If you are really serious about making these businesses work you absolutely can be successful doing so. However, you have to have a solid base of friends & family that can help you get started, then after that, it’s up to you to grind & hustle to get new customers each week. If you don’t have a solid network of friends or customers then these type of businesses will fail rather quickly. Each one has its own set of rules and amount you have to make in sales each month to continue selling their products. When the sales slow down, you end up paying out of pocket to keep the business going & it quickly turns into a money taker, rather than a money maker. Yes, It can be done & I have many friends who have climbed up to the top of these ladders, love their jobs, have a great team under them & make a great living doing this. It takes effort & time to make this type of job a successful one. I did not have enough drive to make it work for me, but maybe you will. If you are interested in this I can provide you with more information on these as well as a few contacts to get you started.
  10. Invest in yourself – You are worth it, and just because something costs money does not always mean it’s a scam or not worth it. There are so many webinars, podcast, and books out there to help you on this journey. Knowledge is power! There are some awesome remote jobs that may require a small investment. As a matter of fact, the transcription job I did was doing insurance claims, I had to buy my equipment. I had to buy a transcription pedal, software, and headphones. Now I would not drop a hundred dollars to a company on things that were not for me. Meaning, if they ask me to sign up for this amazing opportunity for only $100 but I get no products/supplies in return, then NO NO NO red flag. But if you are starting a job and you need tools for yourself to do that job then, by all means, invest in yourself, so that you can do the job the best way possible. Having a work desk, a good computer, a nice chair, and the know-how to do the job you choose are all things that will make the transition into the work at home life easier.

I hope this gets you excited about this new journey you are thinking of taking. I am here to help guide you along the way to your work at home life. I have been living the work at home life for many years. I have had many side hustles in the past 11 years, and have been a work at home mom full time for the past few years. I would love to hear from you and feel free to ask me questions about working at home.

 

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