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

Finding your passion!

This is harder than you might think. When I was a child, my mom used to always tell me that whatever I dreamed of becoming as a child was God’s way of showing me what he wanted me to become as an adult.

I don’t know how true that is because now that I am an adult with my own children, I am not doing what I pictured myself as a child. However, I do think she was on to something.

When I was a child I loved to sing and perform for anyone who would watch me. I was called little “Dolly Parton”. She was and is, after all, my favorite singer of all time, and I would even dress up to be Dolly on Halloween. Oh, you should have seen the big stuffed boobs and blonde wig I had. I thought I looked amazing… HAHA ?! I told everyone that one day they would hear me on the radio singing country music. As time went on I sang a lot throughout my life. My friends and I would go karaoke every Friday night, and by the time high school rolled around I joined choir, band, and sang in church. The biggest accomplishment I ever had with my singing was being asked to sing at my high school graduation. I was so nervous. I had never sung in front of that many people before. I even cried when telling my best friend about it. Being she was my singing partner she encouraged me to go for it and so I did. I dedicated the song to my mom, the song was (26 Cents). I never thought that I would lose my mom so early in life, and how much that song would mean to me now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpFBNBFuFw0

Singing took a backseat for a while, but my love for it never faded. I even started my own music class. Music with Ms. Sheena. I had children ages 0 – 7, and I would sing, and dance with them. It was so much fun, but with most small businesses it faded after only one short year. I did marry a singer however, he does not sing for a living but did go to college for it and even got his BA for musical performance. We share music with our children and often sing them to sleep at night. So, music for me was a passion, but not one I ended up doing as a job.  Because, after all, we have more than one passion, but we just have to find the right one to focus on.

One thing that I never realized that I did daily as a teen, that I noticed recently was all of my journals. I wrote in my journal every day of high school. I have 4 years of books with nothing but my thoughts, my stories, and my deep emotions that I had hidden away. Even though I pictured myself as a singer, my actions were saying something else. Yes, I sang with my friends all the time, but every chance I got, I would write. I have a ton of stories that no one will probably ever see, mostly because I was young when I wrote them and wouldn’t think anyone would actually want to read them. So, here I am in my thirties, with three kids, a husband, both parents in heaven, and searching for my true passion in this crazy thing called life.

Being a mom! That has to be my true passion, right? I have always wanted to be a mom. I dreamed of that since I was young so that…that must be my true passion, so why do I still feel lost?

When I had Keira, my first-born child I was 23 years old. Young, newlywed, and clueless how to raise a baby. My mom was a huge help in this department and believe me I called her for everything, but as most new moms do, I fell into a postpartum depression. I was not hating my child, but I felt a loss for my old self. I could no longer go out whenever I wanted to be with friends, and I went from working since the age of 16 to now being a stay at home mom with no interaction with people. Do you know what got me out of my depression? Blogging! Yeah, I have a personal blog that maybe 5 people have read, but I wrote down my thoughts, just as I had in high school. I wrote down the good, the bad, and the ugly and I finally got a grip on my reality and stopped being down. Here is a link if you care to see my raw and very personal blog (my adult diary).

http://sheenadiane.blogspot.com/2009/

I am just discovering this now, as I started this new blog how much I love and actually missed writing. So, I have found my passion! It’s writing. It always has been, I just never considered it a passion because it was something I was just good at and liked doing but never thought of it as a career. Now that I have discovered writing again when I am working at my day job, I find myself thinking about my next topic on my blog. This is something that sparks a light inside me like nothing else has and I didn’t even see it until I stopped writing and found it again. I honestly did not know writing was my passion until I started doing it again. I took action, and everything else just fell into place. Sometimes thinking will get you frustrated because our brain does not like to shut up, so I encourage you to do it! Feel your way to what it is you love. Art, music, writing, cooking, photography, whatever it is… let your heart walk for you!

So, the point of my story is to get you digging deep into your own soul to find out what you are truly passionate about. Think about you as a child, what you always thought about, what you wanted to be when you grew up, and what you spent most of your time doing. The answer lies somewhere in those memories and hidden somewhere in your actions.

I know a close friend of mine who always used to play Doctor when we were little. She had a doctor kit and would pretend to do checkups on everything that was alive in her house or mine. She loved Band-Aids and every time she would come over she would be covered in colored Band-Aids. Not because she was injured, but because she had given herself a checkup and wanted to wear one to represent the pretend shot she gave herself. Do you know what my friend is doing now as an adult? She is a nurse and loves every minute of it. I call her still to this day and she always raves about her job and how she got to save a life. I love her heart and the fact that she knew what she was meant to do from such a young age. Most of us are not that lucky, and we go through life questioning our purpose.

I can’t answer this for you, and the only one who has that answer is you. So, this is where you have to go back in your memories, think about little you. Think about the times that made you happy and when you felt the most fulfilled. Then write those moments down, and read them over and over. Then take action. The answer is within you, and it may not always be visible right away. Just like with my story, my passion was hiding beneath my voice. But I can reach way more people through my writing than I ever could through my singing and that’s how I know this is my true passion and purpose. Everything about it gets me excited and makes me feel alive. Ask yourself these 13 things. 

  • What is your passion? Dig deep!
  • What makes you happy?
  • What gets you excited when you think about it?
  • What makes you pace back and forth with ideas?
  • What did your heart tell you as a child?
  • What keeps popping up in your head right now?
  • Stop pushing those thoughts out, because you think they seem crazy!
  • What do you love to talk about? 
  • What pretend games did you play as a child?
  • Visualize what feels right. It’s not always the easiest path, and you have to hush your brain when you start telling yourself you could never make money as a dancer.
  • Stop the chatter of your rational self, and just let your mind be free to discover your happiness.  Once you know what it is, make a point to have time for it.
  • If you can’t make this dream a career, make time to do it on weekends.
  • Make it a hobby if nothing else, but above all make it a priority!  

God gives us the desires in our hearts for a reason. He plants the seed, and it’s up to us to make it grow or let it die. But when we let that passion die, we never feel fulfilled. We keep looking for the next thing, for something to fill the void. Stop searching! Sit down in a quiet place and give yourself space to think. To dream, to meditate, and to see your true self. 

I want to help you find your happy place.

So, let me ask you again, what is your true passion?

 

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.

 

Find me on social media: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Periscope, & Facebook.