career – Young Money Money: Earn it, Invest it, Spend it Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:17:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Millennials: Use Your Experience with Technology to Make Good Money Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:59:38 +0000

This post is from guest author Daphne Stanford. Daphne is a DJ for Radio Boise. She writes poetry, nonfiction, and lyric essays. Other ways she enjoys spending her time include hiking, piano, singing at inappropriate times, and good conversation with friends & family. Follow her on Twitter.

Millennials are transforming communication in the workplace by altering the nature of what is considered typical—typical office environment or remote working location—as well as altering the extent to which technology is becoming an integral part of a typical company’s workday. The flow of meetings, instant messaging, editing, and collaboration are becoming faster and more digitally connected in nature.

Read on to learn about a few ways you can utilize your experience with technology to advance your career—whether it be in the for-profit business world, government, or the nonprofit sector.

Technology Equals Opportunity

Due to the necessity that practically every industry these days—from manufacturing and retail to finance to nonprofit and government sectors—has an online presence, the ability to be well-versed with platforms such as WordPress, Slack, Skype, and Google Docs is essential. Moreover, the typical workplace is rapidly changing, and it’s due, in part, to millennials.

This oft-maligned generation’s fondness for technology and collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we communicate, in the workplace. Whether it be through team communication platforms like Slack or via video conferencing, the increasing speed and preference for convenience is spurring greater levels of motivation—as well as innovation. Tools like video conferencing are critical, allowing participants to feel more prepared and engaged than traditional phone conferencing.

Moreover, according to Elizabeth Dukes, millennials value technology over flexibility—often since smart offices naturally foster more flexible work environments. In fact, Dukes cites a study finding that 60 percent of millennials would feel more productive at home than in a traditional office setting. This enthusiasm for flexibility comes with a caveat, however: personal connections are also placed at a high premium by many younger employees.

Workplace Communication

A new study by business communications provider Fuze found that 69 percent of 15-18 year olds believe it’s important to meet people face to face if you work with them, suggesting that a sense of community and well-structured goals and guidelines are also crucial to motivating employees to work together as part of a successful team. Perhaps the influence of the instant communication, social media, and news-driven culture is part of the reason why it’s so crucial that employers provide consistency in communication and fairly regular check-ins via chats, conference calls, or meetings.

A recent Gallup study seems to back up this theory, finding that 44 percent of millennials who have regular meetings with supervisors feel engaged, and thus happier in the workplace, allowing them to concentrate on developing their roles at their current place of work, rather than looking for new positions with companies offering more advanced technology, in the workplace. This finding also finds, again, that millennials value a structured work environment with key objectives and goals explained clearly and directly—rather than the loose, unstructured environment perhaps more valued by Gen Xers and baby boomers.

If you’re eventually interested in an entrepreneurial or management position, practice your remote communication skills on a regular basis and implement them into your life philosophy, as well. Janet Friday, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Merck and Marylhurst University MBA graduate, argues for the benefit of remote work for both business and the environment: “Remote work offers several benefits—for both the business and for the environment… Because I am not commuting to an office on those days, I avoid having to drive my car (lower emissions) and I have more time to devote to my work activities.”

Continuing Education & Business Sectors

If you’re interested in management but also interested in a career in nonprofit administration, public policy, or government, you may want to look into Master’s level public administration or public policy programs. Increasingly, graduate level MPA programs are beginning to offer different attendance options ranging from part-time to full-time. For working professionals who don’t happen to live in the same area of the country, some have fully online options as well.

This kind of convenience is also highly appreciated by students living outside the college’s metro area who would prefer not to have to make the long commute to the city. By taking classes online, students are able to save both time and money. In addition, numerous programs—Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, for example—now offer dual-degree programs like MPA/MBA or JD/MPA programs that take three years, instead of four.

Furthermore, experience with private sector business can lead to roles in government, public policy administration, or nonprofit management. The possibilities are endless and many overlap in fields like healthcare, public communication, and public policy. You might specialize in environmental law and work as an administrator or grant writer for a nonprofit sustainability group, for example; or you might want to become an entrepreneur and focus on developing an app to address a gap in the healthcare app market.

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The future of work is connected, flexible, and operates at hyper-speed. How do you plan to take advantage of this brave new world? Share your thoughts about how you plan to contribute or utilize your knowledge to change the next generation in the comments section, below.

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Top Careers in Demand and How to Get Them Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:05:08 +0000

This post is from guest author Melissa Davidson. You can find her on Twitter @madtris

Wouldn’t it be awesome to pay off your car or credit cards, or even your student loan debt? With a great job, it can be done sooner rather than later.

Setting yourself up for a successful career takes talent, hard work and patience. Everything else will fall into place, including earning enough money to live comfortably without a bunch of debt.

What are the top careers in demand right now and what are some necessary skills you need to land them? Here are a few:

Healthcare/Nursing Careers

There are plenty of high-paying healthcare jobs that don’t involve becoming a doctor, according to a report from job site Glassdoor.

“With nearly half the list comprised of jobs in the tech and healthcare industries, this report reinforces that higher salaries are found in America’s fastest job-creating sectors,” says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

Nursing jobs continue to be on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions for registered nurses are expected to increase 16 percent by 2024, creating 439,300 new jobs for qualified applicants. This is good news for those pursuing nursing, even though these jobs will be competitive.

What skills are required to become a nurse?   

Getting a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing makes someone a more viable candidate. In fact, many hospitals today will only hire those with a BSN. For more than a century, the main focus for nurses in the U.S. has been to treat acute illnesses and tend to immediate injuries. However, because of patients’ changing needs and the evolution of healthcare, medical experts have called for a dramatic increase of nurses with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing – from the current 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. Researchers are also finding that, to become a nurse, it’s important to have emotional intelligence in order to be able to deliver patient-centered care.

Law Careers

According to Business Insider, the median base salary for an attorney is $94,695 a year. Considering the time and financial commitment it takes to become a lawyer, it makes sense the pay is lucrative.

The bad news is an average student graduates with over $100,000 in debt from law school, and there’s no guarantee of a six-figure salary. The good news, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the best-paying jobs for women, the position of lawyer ranked 14th in 2015 and third in 2016. The job market for lawyers has improved in recent years – 74,800 jobs will need to be filled by 2022.

What skills are required to become a lawyer? 

Obviously, stellar grades put you above the rest. In a competitive environment, though, one must have many desirable traits. The ability to balance academics with extracurricular activities, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence make you a more competitive candidate and a top job contender.

Technology Careers

Many technology jobs don’t require a four-year degree or a master’s or doctorate, but still pay well. Computer programmers, web developers, and electrical engineers are a few examples where the pay ranges anywhere from $59,000-$79,000. Highly coveted, high-tech STEM (math, technology, engineering and math) jobs take longer to be filled than others jobs because of the skill-set needed to get hired.

What skills are necessary for STEM jobs?

Success in securing STEM jobs increases with a master’s or doctorate, especially because required skills are “highly sophisticated” and not every candidate can pull off the specific knowledge needed. In addition to specific knowledge in math, science and technology, candidates need good problem-solving, analytical, troubleshooting and, of course, soft skills, including creativity, leadership, and communication skills.

For all of the careers above, you need to be patient, network, research the company, enter the job market right out of college, and create a good resume. Smart interviewing skills and self-development will also set you up to score a great job.

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The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Relocating Thu, 27 Jul 2017 22:15:45 +0000 This post is from guest author Jesse Johnson.

So, you’ve reached the point where you need to establish new roots for your business somewhere else. There are plenty of reasons to relocate, such as moving closer to your main clients, pursuing new market opportunities, seeking lower overhead costs, expanding to a bigger space, or attracting a new workforce. Whatever your reasons, this decision is going to come down to a number of factors, including the demographics of the new area, the potential for your business to engage target markets, the cost of living and operations, and the quality of life.

Although relocating carries risks, it can be the best thing you’ll ever do for your business. Here are a few major considerations any young entrepreneur should keep in mind when relocating.

Where Should You Go?

If you can go anywhere, be sure to choose carefully. There are plenty of smaller towns that offer the potential for strong customer relationships and low overhead costs. Lower costs could allow the business to experiment without the steep financial risks present in larger cities. However, anyone looking to engage within a large professional network may find themselves cut off from other industry professionals. Also, depending on your plans for expansion, it can be difficult to find and retain talented employees in smaller towns.

On the other end of the spectrum, moving to a place like San Francisco would offer a surge of culture, industry, and networking opportunities, but you’ll need to make sure you can afford the cost of living, which is among the highest in the U.S. For a better balance of culture and cost, Austin is a young entrepreneur’s paradise, featuring live music, great food and art, and a relatively young population with a median age of 31. Austin is also home to the University of Texas, which means as your business grows, you’ll have access to a steady flow of qualified graduates who are looking for work.

Of course, relocation doesn’t have to involve a cross-country move. You could find plenty of advantages to relocating within the same area. You might find a more suitable space just down the street that offers lower rent, a bigger space, or better parking for customers and employees.

There is also a trend of businesses moving to the suburbs surrounding large cities in order to lower their costs.

Finding the Right Space

If you have a general area in mind, it’s time to scour the place looking for just the right workspace. Early on in the process, you should make a list of all the requirements a new space must satisfy in order to support your business. This could include things like visibility from the street, a break room or kitchen, sensible parking, technological capabilities, plenty of space to work, room to continue expanding your workforce, and the maximum amount you could feasibly budget each month for rent and other costs.

Look for hard facts about the area, such as traffic numbers, distance to major highways and main streets, property taxes, insurance, operating expenses, build-out costs, the landlord’s reputation, and nearby businesses. You can also subscribe to the local paper or read them online in order to get a basic understanding of the cultural context of the area.

As you move forward with any space, pay attention to the length and terms of the lease. You wouldn’t want to sign on for a multi-year lease if it’s likely you’ll outgrow the space within that time or if business doesn’t pick up as planned. In some cases, even if you sell your business, the responsibilities of maintaining the terms of the lease might fall to the original lessee. This could be particularly disastrous if the person who bought your company hasn’t been paying the rent.

Once you’ve found a few spaces that meet your requirements, be sure to visit each location in person. Aside from inspecting the condition of the facility, make note of the traffic and people you see in order to better understand the dynamic surrounding the location. Spend some time exploring the city in order to get a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for you and your employees.

Employee Considerations

You should let your employees know about the plan to move at least 4 to 6 months in advance. If you are moving to another city, your employees may not be willing to relocate, and for more local moves, an increased commute can also put a strain on employees. You should consider the cost of living as it applies to your employees, and you may need to offer a pay raise or the option to work remotely in order to keep your most essential employees.

Quality of life for employees in a new location can have a significant impact on productivity, for better or worse. Take the time to look into nearby recreational opportunities, schools, crime rates, options for health care, and climate in the area. Moving to a safe place with plenty of fun things to do can increase the chance that you’ll retain current employees, attract new talent, and keep them happy in and outside of the workplace.

Financial Challenges

Before committing to the move, make sure you have enough money to safely carry your business through the transition, and be realistic about what is feasible. Even if the move is intended to save money in the long run, there are short-term costs that you’ll need to account for. These include hiring movers, transportation costs for yourself and employees, finishing and furnishing the space, buying new office equipment and technology, and hiring and training new employees. It’s also common to see a decrease in productivity for a while as your employees and customers adjust to the changes.

While some cities offer incentives for new businesses, some also have stricter laws for businesses as well as higher taxes. Thoroughly research all local regulations as you plan your budget.

Making the Move

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to go, there are all new things you’ll need to consider to make the move successful as well as common mistakes to avoid. If you haven’t done so already, create a comprehensive plan for the move and delegate different responsibilities to your employees. No detail is too small. This could include putting someone in charge of packing any leftover kitchen supplies as well as deciding who should update the address listed on your website.

By dividing the work, you can ensure that no one person has to shoulder too many burdens through the process, including yourself. Refer to this plan before the move, during the transition, and afterward in order to make sure you won’t have any unpleasant surprises later on.

Depending on the distance of the move, it might make more sense to quickly sell or donate some office equipment in order to avoid high shipping costs. If you choose to donate these items, you may be able to receive a tax deduction which can help offset moving costs.

Though you might ask for help from employees during the initial packing process, hiring a moving service is likely your best option for actually transporting equipment, furniture, and documents to the new location. You should plan to hire movers at least 1 to 3 months before the move in order to ensure they will be able to schedule your move well in advance.

Final Tips

Start early. It can take years to find the right place and ensure that you have the funds to sustain your business during the transition. If you feel like your business has the potential to expand to a new location, start looking now. It’s better to understand your options ahead of time rather than waiting until it’s too late and having to make a speedy, uninformed decision.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to let your clients know well in advance that you’re moving. Consider receiving mail at both locations for a few weeks in order to make sure nothing is lost, and station an employee at the new location before the move so clients can begin engaging with the new number and address. This will also make sure essential services like phone and internet are working properly before you’ve fully moved in. It may be worth it to contract additional IT personnel to ensure this part of the transition goes smoothly.

It’s also possible that you don’t need to move at all in order to expand your business. In exploring all of your options, you could look into renting an adjoining space or find a separate location nearby while remaining active at your original site. Either of these options could prevent some of the disruption to productivity that typically takes place during a move and would allow customers who might be put off by a new location to remain loyal.

Even if you find the perfect space, it’s affordable, and everything goes well with the move, there is still a chance that it just won’t work out like you’d planned. Customers may not find the new location convenient, and even if you’ve chosen a location that is closer to your target market, you may risk losing your current customers. You might also find out too late that there isn’t as strong of a demand for your services as you predicted.

Despite these risks, relocation can be the key to expanding your business and creating a powerful brand with a solid customer base and loyal employees. By following these guidelines and creating a detailed plan, you can take the stress out of your move and have a successful transition to your new location.

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Self Employed? Here’s How to Make Good Money Thu, 18 May 2017 15:12:05 +0000

Oftentimes, the stereotype of the young, self-employed businessperson is like that of the starving artist. You’re eking out a living, existing on ramen and chips. You’re a “flash in the pan.” During your brief time on Earth hardly anyone will hear of you. Hopefully, after years and years of hard work, you’ll be able to retire on the money you frugally stashed away in your IRA.

Okay so the IRA part doesn’t normally figure into the starving artist stereotype, but it sounds familiar right? As a young self-employed American, you’re used to hearing that—after you pay off your student debt—it’s wise to start saving for retirement. At the same time, you’re used to hearing you have to spend money to make money. So which is it? Set aside money now or use it to create more wealth?

You’re interested in making more money now—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. To do so, take advantage of your unique position and use the right tools.

Your Brand, Your Unique Position

Your brand is more than just your name, logo, and the colors you choose. Your brand is your unique style, it’s every aspect of how you represent yourself to your audience. There’s no one else exactly like you. If you’re self-employed, you have the advantage of being able to use your distinct personality and experiences to inform your brand.

Start with the best practices for building your brand:

  • Concentrate on experiences: Each time a potential or existing client comes in contact with your brand, it’s an experience. Think hard about the wording and images you’ll use anytime you’re going to represent your brand, and look at examples of experiential marketing to create contact points.
  • Be consistent: On your website, social media, in person, and anywhere else you represent your brand, you’ll be delivering messages. Think ahead about the tone of your messages and what you want to them to convey. Be consistent with your delivery.
  • Develop and curate supportive content: You’ll absolutely want a blog to support your brand, with posts that pair directly with your vision. Include your blog posts in social media activity. Look for like-minded and supportive content from great bloggers and authors. Follow them, include their posts in your social media feed, and reach out to them for guest posts. Try guest posting on their sites and ask them to guest post on yours.
  • Be different: Showcase your uniqueness by taking risks. Start a podcast, develop videos for YouTube and other social media channels, partner with artists and poets, self-publish books, sponsor events that align with your values, hire a mascot—look for things your competitors aren’t doing and do them.
  • Enlist ambassadors: One simple way to create brand ambassadors is to ask for guest posts on your blog, and make sure the posts support your brand values. Also, ask clients to review you online, and if you have employees, empower them to post on your social media pages and write blog posts. Make sure to impart your vision to them clearly so that they represent your brand accurately.

Always look at what your competitors are doing, and think about what you can do to distinguish yourself. Again, take risks; people won’t be able to tell you’re unique unless you put yourself out there.

How will this make you money? The brands that truly succeed create visibility. Build your brand tirelessly and people will pay more attention to you than they do your competitors.

The Right Tools

You want to be able to build your brand and become a thought leader in your industry. But how will you be able to do that if you’re spending all your time and energy on the nuts and bolts of running your business? Use tools to help run the business and save money at the same time.

Marketing Automation

If you don’t automate your marketing, you’ll have to do everything manually, including putting up social media posts and blog posts, doing search engine optimization, sending emails, and so much more. These aren’t a cure-all, but take a look at the best marketing automation tools available. You’re still going to have to be the brains behind your marketing campaigns, but software makes executing a campaign a whole lot easier.

Invoice Software 

Filling out and sending invoices to clients individually takes time you could be spending building your brand. As with almost every aspect of modern business, you could use software to solve this problem. Invoice software lets you customize invoices based on your brand’s colors, logo, and fonts. You can create and send invoices from your smartphone, and you can automate recurring invoices for clients with whom you have ongoing business. Also, you won’t be repeatedly entering information in fields, because the software does that automatically.

Mileage Tracking Software

You can write off business miles on your taxes, but who wants to manually track their miles, log them, and report them when the time comes? Mileage tracking software does the work for you. It’s a great idea to meet with clients face-to-face, but don’t spend more money than you should on the trip to get there.


You can run pretty much every aspect of your business with Excel; from inventory management, to bookkeeping, to payroll, to crawling the web for data, the list goes on and on. Excel can automate any part of your business having to do with numbers—you just have learn how to tell it what to do. Don’t despair about learning Excel, check out a free course on all things Excel-related. All the information you need to learn Excel is available online.

In conclusion, making money when you’re self-employed is about maximizing your brand potential and using the right tools. What can you offer to your audience that’s different and better than your competitors? How can you use tools to reach a wider audience while saving time and money? Master your branding and harness technology, and you’re well on your way to making good money.

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How to Make Change a Positive Experience for Your Millennial Employees Thu, 11 May 2017 19:10:05 +0000

Starting your own business? You’ll need to hire and retain some excellent talent. Millennials are highly trained and skilled, and they’re ready to join your workforce. Yet, at work 71% of millennials are not engaged, and 47% will switch jobs if this doesn’t improve.

As the millennial generation begins to mature and make career inroads, observers keep noting a salient trend: these young people change jobs a lot. Good employers are eager to buck the attrition trend and invest much-needed retention efforts in valuable millennial employees. But why do us millennials jump from job to job so often to begin with?

There’s a lot of competition for our talent. And, there are constant, often abrupt changes happening. Companies get bought out, they grow in leaps and bounds, they alter direction, or they dwindle and suddenly die. In today’s business world, change is the only constant.

You must find strength in change and help employees view developments in a positive light, even if they’re negative. This starts with management.

Empower Managers

According to Terry Petracca, an HR expert from MEL, managers are the number one reason employees leave organizations. This applies big-time to situations of company upheaval and change. Petracca believes authenticity is the number one way for managers to establish a relationship of trust with employees. She says, “A manager needs their employees to believe them because they’re the gatekeeper for truth and knowledge about the company.”

In order for a manager to be authentic, in order for a manager to impart “truth and knowledge” to employees during a time of change, you must empower your managers:

  • Encourage transparency
  • Regularly brief managers with all the facts and bottom line information that affects change
  • Reinforce and encourage their leadership abilities
  • Give them a voice throughout the transitional process, seriously consider their suggestions and act on them whenever possible

Although change is inevitable, losing employees isn’t. Employees value honesty and rapport with you and your managers. Managers are particularly close to employees during day-to-day operations. When they build strong rapport with employees through honesty and communication, employees are less likely to leave. The manager effectively leads them through change as it happens.

Encourage Stress Management

When you’re under a ton of stress due to transition, it can be hard to recognize employees are too. The weight feels like it’s all on you. For anyone, stress triggers a fight or flight response. For employees who aren’t as rooted in the business as you are, it’s easier to quit when stress gets overwhelming. Ignore the fact that employees are stressed, and risk losing employees—and that includes managers.

Coach employees on stress relief tactics; doing so will acknowledge and validate their feelings. They probably know these tactics already, but a quick refresher on the following stress relief techniques will provide everyone with a welcome moment of levity:

  • Listen to music: Listening to relaxing music can lower blood pressure and reduce the release of cortisol, a chemical related to stress
  • Talk to a friend: In and out of the workplace, communicating with someone about stressors really puts things in perspective
  • Coach yourself through it: The most successful individuals know the value of positive self-talk
  • Eat a healthy diet: Foods with high Omega-3 content, such as fish, can help reduce stress symptoms
  • Get humorous: Laughter releases endorphins and minimizes release of cortisol and adrenaline
  • Drink green tea instead of coffee: While coffee increases adrenaline, green tea has an amino acid called theanine, which has a calming effect
  • Practice mindfulness: This is the act of paying attention to one’s senses, thoughts, and surroundings (more on this important one later)
  • Get exercise: Exercise also releases endorphins and relieves stress
  • Get plenty of sleep: Seven to eight hours
  • Do breathing exercises: Deep breathing oxygenates your blood and increases calm

The more you care for the psychological state of your employees under stress, the more likely they are to stick with you. Mindfulness can even improve performance under stress.

Psychologist Ellen Langer has been studying mindfulness for 40 years. She says, “If everyone is working in the same context and is fully present, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get a superior coordinated performance.” She lists improvements in attention, creativity, interpersonal relationships, and stress management as benefits of mindfulness. “Question the belief that you’re the only one who can do it, that there’s only one way to do it, and that the company will collapse if you don’t do it. When you open your views to be mindful, the stress just dissipates.”

Know Best Practices

Langer’s advice on mindfulness can truly guide the entire change management process. Because each company is unique, there is no single set of rules or practices guaranteed to be best for your situation. Context determines the way to manage change. Yet, rules do provide guideposts. Being aware of them is like being a musician who masters the basics to enable improvisation and innovation.

Change management best practices make sense—after all, this is about initiating change as well as letting it happen:

  • Change from the top down: As a leader, take a proactive role in delineating how change will take place and who will be on the change management team
  • Pay attention to timing: You may feel a big shakeup is necessary, but can your company handle it all at once? Is right now the best time? What’s a realistic timeline to mitigate risk?
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: Facilitate communication routinely the whole way through, and disclose technical details to management
  • Pay attention to process: Watch the extent to which various stakeholders in the process need differing levels of assistance and resources, and solicit feedback
  • Plan on disruption: Even when everything seems in place for a transition to go off without a hitch, the theme here is that change is constant; prepare for things not to go as planned, and pinpoint areas where problems may arise

There are a lot of variables that leave room for disruption, such as problems or advances in technology, budget issues, compliance with local and state statutes, personnel losses, etc. Leave room for flexibility. At the same time, with best practices you’re maintaining the framework and order within which disruption and stress are good things.

You want change. You want problems. Without them you don’t improve, you remain stagnant and your employees move onto bigger and better things. Be mindful of change management strategy, and watch your employees flourish as your business does as well.



The Pros, Cons, and In-betweens of Starting Your Own Business Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:47:19 +0000

A black and white world doesn’t exist. If I were to tell you, “There’s absolutely no downside to starting your own business”, I would be be wrong. Rather, starting your own enterprise involves entering a world of complexity you’ve only glimpsed from the outskirts.

The good news: about one-third of new businesses survive 10 years or longer, while about half survive five years or longer. If you’re really in this for the long-term and are ready to go all out, you stand a good chance of sticking around. If you’re not, you stand a good chance of being among the two-thirds who fail.


  • There’s a lot of assistance available: Simply Google “How to start a business” and there’s a wealth of information. The Small Business Association offers a ton of resources, and you can attend conferences, or other meetups; for an example of the type of info available, check out my article about saving money on internet marketing.
  • There are a ton of options: For one, the possibility of e-commerce opens up a world in which all you need is a product and a website. If you don’t have your own product, there are organizations like Amway that supply products for you to sell. The Amway model is called “Direct Selling”, it typically provides a supplemental option for aspiring entrepreneurs. Three million people worldwide are Amway “Independent Business Owners”, and the direct selling model—in general, not just Amway’s—brought in $36.12 billion in 2015.
  • You can do what you want: What you do with your business is only limited by your own ambition. If you want to keep it small, keep it small. If you want to go big, do your best to appeal to a wider and wider audience.
  • You can offer true personalization: You are the shop-next-door, the equivalent of today’s mom-and-pop operation, the underdog, the face of what has made America great from the get-go. You can get to know your customers face-to-face, learn their names, what they like, what their friends like, and, ultimately, what your target audience wants and needs.
  • You can end your job search: Young adults ages 20-28 change careers an average of seven times before arriving where they want to be; start a business doing something you really want to do, and stop the vicious cycle of looking for a new job and being dissatisfied with what you find.


  • There’s a lot of responsibility: Some people thrive on responsibility and love it, while for others the level of responsibility involved in starting a business is just too much. Before starting a business, evaluate what type of person you are and ask yourself if you’re willing to invest your entire life in it.
  • There’s a ton of competition: On one hand, the many advanced, ravenous competitors make it tough to gain an advantage; on the other, competition is good for business because your competitors will push you to be better.
  • You can’t just sit there and focus on product: If your offering is all you’re passionate about, this can be a difficult truth to recognize: a great deal of your success will depend on marketing and branding, networking with other business owners, maintaining inventory and keeping air-tight books. This is why it’s important to raise funds for hiring consultants and specialists, but nothing beats learning how to do everything yourself.


  • People try to take advantage of you: The more your business grows, the more you’ll be on the radar of other businesses and individuals who will try to take advantage of you in one way or another—and there’s simply no escaping the fact that there are bad actors in the world. Beware, do your homework, and don’t go into business with anyone unless they’re squeaky clean. Make sure their proposition is legitimate in terms of how you’ll come out on the other end.
  • You can end up being out-of-touch, overconfident, or overly-stressed: Of course, this won’t necessarily happen, but single-mindedness can be the result of overzealous pursuit. Out of Forbes’ reasons why businesses fail, a big one is leadership failure. The other reasons, such as failure to properly communicate a value proposition, stem from the owner being disconnected from the people upon which the business depends.
  • It’s about nothing but money: In the beginning, making good money was going to be a byproduct, not the end-all-be-all, because you were passionate about people and ideas, not just money; don’t let dollar signs become your only reason for doing business. Those bad actors I talked about earlier? They’re motivated by moolah.
  • It becomes ho-hum: You’re not doing anything different, you’re set in your ways, and so are the people who keep you afloat; continue on this way, and you’ll soon find yourself gasping for air.

The great thing about starting a business is the cons depend on you. Decide to steer clear of the bad actors, not to be one yourself, and to stay attuned to the evolving business world. Evolve with it, even ahead of it, and you’ll see more pros than cons.

Entrepreneurs: How to Minimize Marketing Spend Online Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:11:41 +0000 Are you a young entrepreneur going into business for the first time? If there’s anything you don’t have a lot of at the outset, it’s money. In terms of cash flow, 28% of small businesses that go bankrupt have big problems with their financial structure. There are a multitude of expenses, from product development, to finding and leasing a quality brick-and-mortar location, to hiring and training staff, to paying consultants and accountants—the list goes on.

Thankfully, many of your first-time expenses are tax deductible. You can deduct up to $5,000 in your first year of doing business. After that, deduct your remaining expenses in installments over a period of 5 years.

Things like property, vehicles, and inventory aren’t expenses—they’re capital expenditures. Over time, you can write off the cost of tangible items through depreciation. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that you have to invest money in capital expenditures at the beginning. The same applies for expenses; you could spend well over $5,000 at the beginning. With both capital expenditures and expenses, you have a year during which you’re on your own, and you may not see any return on investment (ROI) unless you do some high quality marketing.

That’s where this guide comes in. If you lower your marketing spend, you may be able to write off all of your marketing expenses in the first year. A great place to start is right here, on the internet.

Understand Google and Internet Advertising

If you’re planning on drawing in customers, invest in a website. There will be costs, such as web hosting fees. If you want to minimize your overall spend, check out a free course on how to make a website. You can DIY and achieve awesome results. It’s purely a matter of how much time and effort you put into your site.

Once you have a site, consider the matter of making yourself visible online. There are several ways of going about this, but let me just get straight to the reality of the situation: You can spend plenty of money on advertising, but not achieve any results. When it comes to display ads, publishers and advertisers have to cope with the fact that over 200 million people use ad-blockers. You are 475 times more likely to survive a plane crash than click a display ad, and 33% of people find ads “intolerable”.

As a first-time entrepreneur, you’re nowhere near the point where you’re a publisher who can prompt people to whitelist you on their ad-blocker extension. The best, and most inexpensive way for you to gain visibility online is to rank as high as you can in Google.

There are two ways to do this. You can buy AdWords, meaning that if you pay Google for certain keywords related to your business, you’ll show up at the top of the page when someone enters that particular search phrase. The unfortunate thing about AdWords is that if someone clicks on your ad, but doesn’t buy anything, you still pay for that click. Also, if you’re looking to compete on a national level, the competition for your keywords will be incredibly fierce unless your product is so niche nobody else is selling it. Fierce competition equals expensive keywords.

The second way to rank in Google is the organic way, otherwise known as content marketing. Organic can also be the least expensive. Start a blog on your website and create informative content related to your product or service. Put the keywords you want to rank for in your posts, but don’t overdo it. Make sure the meta structure of your site is also in good shape. Send clear signals about what you want to rank for. Next, guest post on high authority blogs and create backlinks to your content. Particularly since you’re the business owner, many different sites will want to hear from you.

This is all part of the complex and competitive world of SEO. Before you undertake this, make sure you know exactly what the deal is with Google and links. Some links to your site can be negative, some can be great. You want good links to your site, and you want internal links between your pages, ultimately funneling the user to product pages where they can make purchases. The only way they’re going buy anything is if you’ve convinced them along the way.

Understand Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great tool for valuable, inexpensive marketing. You’ve probably seen plenty of it during your personal time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media sites you might use. There are entire websites devoted to the topic of social media marketing; it’s an art, just as content marketing is to Google.

This is a huge subject so here’s a digestible, step-by-step intro:

  • Set up your business page on Facebook, which is the social grandaddy
  • Decide on your Twitter handle, and start your business Twitter account
  • Sign up with one or two other platforms on which you’d really like to see some engagement; i.e. you’re appealing to a young audience, and they’re all over Instagram and Snapchat
  • On your website, provide social media buttons for sharing content and liking your company
  • Consult these four social media rules for businesses:
  1. Along with promotional content, provide valuable information related to your niche
  2. Pay attention to your brand message by using the right words, images, and other media
  3. Post at good times; e.g. Facebook users prefer 1-4pm, Google+ users 9-11am
  4. Create conversations that evoke emotions
  • Pay attention to video marketing trends and take advantage of them; people love video—about 65% of viewers will visit your website after watching your video
  • There are so many great free tools you can use for social media marketing; even just looking at these will help give you an idea of all the different things you can do
  • Respond to your audience as quickly as possible when they reach out to you

Overall, your reach on social media can be huge and you can get started on most networks for free. Link up your content marketing efforts with your social media efforts. Think about who your customers are and what type of customers you want, then design your marketing messages accordingly. Put your heart into this, and you’ll get great results for a very small investment.




Save money on your first small business brick and mortar location Thu, 02 Mar 2017 23:17:41 +0000 Starting a small business? Real estate will be one of your biggest expenses. Unless you’re committed to doing nothing but ecommerce, there’s no escaping the difficulty of finding just the right location at a price you can afford. Particularly if you’re planning on starting something like a coffee shop, a type of business highly dependent on accessibility, your location is the difference between success and failure.

Getting started

First, you’ve got to determine where the money for your new location is going to come from. Just like The Lenders Network connects homebuyers to lenders, the SBA page on loans and grants is a tool for connecting entrepreneurs to a lender. But loans come at a price. You’ll have to pay the mortgage on your loan, so when all is said and done, you’ll pay more than the actual value of the real estate.

To avoid costly mortgage rates, start with crowdfunding. Indiegogo only charges 4% if you meet your goal, a much smaller amount than you’ll end up paying with a mortgage. Kickstarter allows you to crowdfund the creation of a product–if it takes a brick and mortar location to create that product, acquiring one is part of your campaign. Rockethub bills itself as “The leading global community for entrepreneurs”, with the “Elequity” funding hub as a starting point to guide you through the funding process. Peerbackers also specializes in entrepreneurial and small business funding, with its Crowdfunding Academy there to help educate you on how best to go about crowdfunding your business.

Maximizing your space for sustainability

Once you’ve procured funding to get going, choosing the right location is your next step. In terms of saving money, it pays to think about sustainability.

Have you looked into sustainable commercial real estate? Green buildings can save you up to 20% on utilities alone. If the building isn’t up to sustainability standards, according to Marylhurst University there are income tax credits, rebates, grants, and property tax abatements  “for everything from solar installation projects to interior energy retrofits of commercial buildings”.

If property values on sustainable buildings in your area are too high, the smart route is to identify a building in a good location that hasn’t been updated. Then, determine the price of green renovations and add it to the cost of the building. Next, research the federal, state, and local incentives for installing things like solar panels, double-pane windows, and high quality insulation. Subtract the estimated dollar amount of incentive kickbacks from your first figure, which was the cost of the lease combined with the cost of green renovations. Finally, compare that number with the price of buildings that are already updated for sustainability.

In the long run, you’ll only save money from updated, eco-friendly real estate, because you’ll save on utilities and repairs. You can also use your investment in sustainability as part of your branding, with environmental stewardship as a cornerstone of your business.

Incentives and practical considerations

Incentives don’t just come from modernizing a space for sustainability. Have you ever considered relocating to a different city? In terms of finding the absolute best location for your small business, there are cities such as Chicago that offer grants, loans, fee waivers, tax reductions and land-write downs in exchange for job creation. Do your research on areas where your product is needed, look into state and city incentives, and then consult with the local Small Business Development Center. If you’re willing to relocate beyond the US, consider global hotspots for entrepreneurship, such as Berlin, Tel-Aviv, and London.

Quickbooks points out, “The cheapest choice isn’t always the right choice.” Look for an area with plenty of traffic from your target customers. Be aware of how much competition there is in the area, too. The more competition, the less visibility you’ll have. However, if you find a key price point on which you can undercut competitors, and you have a unique brand, take the risky location with a reasonable price.

When it comes to relocating, some states have lower minimum wage than others. Research minimum wage along with the economic environment of prospective states, and plan accordingly.

In some states, you’ll have multiple power companies to choose from. Find the one with the best rates and be aware of whether they have additional charges during peak hours of use. Large spaces cost more to heat and cool. Don’t get a bigger space than you need. Reserve about 80% of the space for retail, and use low cost rental space for any additional storage, distribution, and offices.

As far as janitorial and maintenance costs, DIY is the cheapest. Another option is to use an app such as TaskRabbit, which connects you to inexpensive and reliable freelance janitors and maintenance personnel.

You’ll need liability insurance in case anyone gets hurt in your store, so use a broker to look hard for the insurance provider with the best rates.

Ultimately, the smart decision on your first location is finding the balance between price and location. A great location with lots of traffic will pay for itself. But if you don’t have a ton of funds at the outset, and don’t want to rack up lots of debt, look for the space with a decent price in a decent area, and work hard at marketing and branding to make customers come to you.

Featured image via Flickr

What is a Career in Law really like? Tue, 06 Jul 2010 13:41:48 +0000 You enjoyed watching Law and Order and those old Perry Mason reruns. The drama and excitement made you certain that becoming a criminal lawyer and having center stage in the courtroom was your calling. After all, you were outstanding as lead in To Kill a Mockingbird and excelled on the high school debate team.

But, you talked with the lawyer who lives next door to Mom and Dad; she gave you a very different view of what lawyers do. Criminal lawyers work with legal cases where the State is the plaintiff and individuals are the defendants. Most of the everyday lawyers you encounter practice civil law. Civil cases usually involve conflicts or litigation between two private parties. On TV, you see lawyers in court, but seldom get the true picture of the many hours spent in their office or doing research.

Lawyers specialize in family law.

Though not particularly glamorous, sometimes petty, and often heartbreaking, messy divorces, ugly custody cases, and other domestic situations require the expertise of a skilled and compassionate family lawyer. Should little Buffy and Skipper spend Christmas or Thanksgiving with Mom or with Dad? When do Grandma and Grandpa get to see the little guys? And, who gets custody the pooch, the pension, and the photos? Good listening skills and patience for ongoing “he said, she said” situations, make some family lawyers function like psychologists, counselors, or social workers at times. Become a family lawyer, and you will come home from work each day and be increasingly thankful for your comfortably sedate personal life.

Writing wills and trusts and handling house closings are generally routine tasks handled by civil lawyers. Knowledge of the specific laws in your state is essential. Clients provide the necessary information; you, their attorney, draft the paperwork.

Lawyers handle personal injury cases, medical neglect and also some traffic situations.

You’ve seen their ads on daytime TV that target down-on-their-luck folks. But, if you decide to be a personal injury lawyer, word-of-mouth recommendation within your own community should attract ample business. For example, John had a routine surgical procedure at the local hospital. His personal injury lawyer is trying to untangle the facts; why is John more disabled now than he was before the surgery? John can no longer dress himself nor do other daily tasks and cannot perform essential functions at work. It may take a while for John’s attorney to receive the financial settlement that John deserves.

Government lawyers have a variety of on-the-job responsibilities.

Though many civil lawyers are self-employed or in small practices, those who work for the government appreciate the steady paycheck and fairly regular hours. Some attorneys are advisers or advocates to legal aid societies that help those who cannot afford legal help. Government lawyers are employed at the city, county, state or federal level, and some are involved in criminal cases. The work is exciting and interesting and varies daily.

Depending on the size of the municipality, a city may have one or several city attorneys. A city attorney can advise a citizen of their legal rights, as in the case of Sara who shares a driveway with an irrational neighbor and repeatedly has her car blocked so she can’t get out. City attorneys generally attend city council meetings and present their expertise as needed.

A Public Defender is employed by the county. Larger counties usually have several public defenders. They represent defendants who cannot afford a lawyer in criminal cases. The psycho who set a fire that destroyed part of a downtown area was represented by a Public Defender, because just like you, alleged criminals are entitled to legal representation, too.

Most State’s Attorney’s are elected county officials. The State’s Attorney is a prosecutor for criminal and some traffic cases. You may recognize the name and face of your county’s State’s Attorney from the TV News reports of high profile cases.

There are other specialties for attorneys.

Landlord and eviction cases are never pretty. Old man Chuck’s case lasted for nearly a year. Widowed and possibly not-of-sound-mind when he quickly remarried, he bequeathed the family home to his young gold-digging widow. Chuck died unexpectedly. When Chuck’s grief-stricken children came to the house to collect family mementos, the widow barricaded herself in the house and wouldn’t allow them access.

Where you live dictates the need for certain attorney jobs. In large cities with much commerce, tax lawyers or corporate lawyers, especially those with expertise in contracts are in demand. Live someplace like New York or Los Angeles and you could be an entertainment lawyer. Also, immigration law is an emerging law specialty. And if you live near a major university, you might enjoy teaching a class in torts or constitutional law.

In a perfect world, people will all get along with each other, and there’s no need for lawyers. Until that happens, you’re likely to find ample employment practicing criminal or civil law. Being a lawyer can be a satisfying and lucrative profession.

Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
Registered Occupational Therapist

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Nursing: The Job of the Future Mon, 24 May 2010 15:02:43 +0000 It’s not news that our economy is in the toilet. Across the board, layoffs are bolstering the ranks of the unemployed and prospects for new jobs are bleak at best (although apparently it’s all going to turn around very soon). Despite this, certain fields seem to be holding steady or even growing. Nursing seems to be at the top of the list (a close tie with customer service…ugh). At one point or another, everyone is going to need health care, and with baby boomers hitting retirement and health care reform set to increase the number of insured Americans by millions, the future looks bright for those entering the nursing profession. So what are your options when it comes to a career in nursing?

Well, if you plan to be a nurse for life, you really should aim for at least a Registered Nurse (RN) degree. It is a two-year degree and seems to be the minimum for almost any job in nursing (from staff to travel to school). You can also get a four year degree, which is a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). Either way, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to practice. Most fields also require additional certification depending on both the area of expertise and the state you will practice in. And now, on to the fun stuff.

Once you have the required schooling taken care of, there are a wealth of options available to those in the nursing profession. You can be a staff nurse at a hospital or private practice. You can work as a school nurse, caring for and educating students. There is also travel nursing, which allows you to see other parts of the country (or the world) and set your own schedule through the contracts you choose (many companies that place travel nurses even offer benefits like insurance and 401k). Another option is in-home care-giving, which can be both fulfilling (working with one patient for an extended period) and lucrative (many care-giver situations are live-in, so you get room and board in addition to a salary). And these are just a few of the options available to those with a degree in nursing.

In these uncertain times, it pays to choose a career that will continue to be in demand regardless of the solvency of our economy. And the benefits of nursing exceed the merely financial. Nursing offers you a unique opportunity to give something of yourself to both individuals and the community at large. You will acquire a sense of satisfaction from helping those in need, as well as enjoy a unique opportunity to connect with other people on the most intimate level. And through mentoring programs, you will even be able to steer others along the path to their own careers. All of these incentives make a move towards nursing look very appealing indeed.

Guest Post by: Sarah Leonard of Online Nursing Programs.