Create Your Own Job Security Blog

From Creation to Realization: A Case Study

Frog who would stop winter

I consulted with a client who had a large number of business ideas, but did not have the equipment or skills to properly present them to potential backers.

The client being discussed will remain anonymous, but his experiences are not unusual among disadvantaged populations. His circumstances were briefly that he is in his late 20s, has a disability income, shares a living space and spends much of his free time in the public library where he is an avid reader. He started, but did not complete, being certified as a fitness trainer, and is now overweight without the slim, fit image of your typical fitness expert on TV.

Somehow he has largely by-passed the digital world and is presently stuck in an antilog universe. He would like to own a sophisticated smart phone capable of manipulating digital images that he perceives would be useful in advertising his products and services, but operates the public computers at the library only infrequently and hesitantly.

I found his business ideas to be reasonable, to fill an unmet need in the community, possible to upscale on a local and national basis, but except for a sketch and name of a possible website, completely unrealized. His approach thus far had been to solicit money to finance his project, and he had secured a $10,000 loan, but had not managed to obtain other backers. He had contacted an angel investor and sent in a proposal, but he felt that he never got past the gatekeeper. He came to me discouraged and disappointed. He had not given up, but was uncertain as to which way to go. One of the possibilities that he mentioned was writing a book, but he thought that would be four years away.

I gave him two types of recommendations. The first was two truisms that I developed in my book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business in Midlife.”

  • Creative ideas without realization have little value in the marketplace.
  • Communication in print, visual and auditory media is vital for a business’ success.

This is accurate, if blunt, advice to give to a creative person who has already tried his best available approaches and failed. To make such statements and say nothing else would be to invite depression, reinforce a negative self-image and prevent him from progressing on his own.  The fact that he came to me in the first place indicates that he is still seeking to improve his odds towards owning a successful business. What I am obligated to do is to tell him some positive things that he can do to improve his presentations to the point that serious backers would consider them.

His action plan: Part I. Skill Enhancement.

  1. The client has some catching up to do to become conversant and be able to use computers, smart phones and other equipment to allow him to communicate easily on the web and develop a following. Computer literacy programs are available at local libraries. The Salvation Army thrift stores will sometimes receive workable computers with word processing programs already on them that people have replaced in their home or work environments. Or he may have a relative or friend with an older computer that they will give him. These are typically stripped of personal files, but the operating files and sometimes antivirus programs are still operational. Such units are available at far less costs than if purchased new. Obviously, a computer literate friend or salesperson at the store needs to guide him in the selection of a good instrument. Once he has his own laptop he can began to express his creative concepts on paper, outline them, approach organizations like Kickstarter and Go Fund Me for participation, advertise his services and otherwise communicate his message to the world.  An additional possible problem for the client is to find a place where he can safely store his computer. Libraries may also sometimes have lockers to enable their clients to store items overnight.
  2. It is necessary for any modern business to be able to produce visual files to represent their products or services. The least expensive access to a workable video and image producing system is the present generation of video cameras by Sony, Cannon and others. Desirable features in such a camera are does it have a rechargeable battery and charger with it? Does it have a USB port that is compatible with your computer? Does it have a zoom lens capability? Does it also have the provision to take still, as well as moving pictures? Almost all current cameras will have these capabilities. Make sure that your camera and video equipment are of the same generation. Another accessory that is needed along with the camera is a tripod to enable stable images to be recorded.
  3. Do whatever is necessary to complete certifications in the field/s represented by the new business – particularly, if this is some sort of therapy.

His Action Plan: Part 2. Demonstration of Concept.

  1. If offering a service, as the client proposed for one of his business ideas, he need to be able to show that he has successfully applied it in real-world situations. I suggested that he work as a volunteer and become friends with others with similar interests. This can result in picking up paying clients, having experiences that can be document and perhaps even developing novel techniques and practices that can set the client apart from his competition.
  2. For new products, get them designed and a prototyped along with a copyrighted name and trademark. He might also begin the patent application process. If the concept is to bundle already existing products, assemble the items that are to be offered for a reasonable “show and tell” in person or on video. If this is a new, unpatented product, keep this video private and only have it seen by those that have been approached.
  3. A million books are published each year and my client mentioned writing one. Start now and modify it as new material becomes available. The only thing that is absolutely sure about book writing is that books that are never started will never be finished.
  4. If he is interested in aspects of becoming a personal therapist or trainer it would be helpful if he were in better shape himself. Getting himself into condition could, in-fact, help him sell his own programs.

Once these steps have been taken the client will be in a much better position to present his business concepts to potential investors or clients and might well try a Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign to judge the potential value of this venture. A successful Kickstarter program will considerably enhance the new business’ prospect of attracting independent investors.

Much more information is available on business topics in my most recent book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In this book I advocate starting a series of businesses throughout one’s life to raise immediate cash as needed and plan for medium and long-term goals. The ideal result will be to help you discover your business of passion that will carry you through the remainder of your working life. Create Your Own Job Security is available from Amazon.com in either softcover or an e-book, from other on-line book retailers and from your local bookstore or ordered using the PayPal button below.  I also offer individual or on-site consultations which may be arranged using the contact form below.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.

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Create Your Own Job Seminar/Workshop Video

This video was done on March 15, 2018, at the Salvation Army Center in Augusta, Georgia, as a spin-off activity of my book Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife, and is an example of one sort of on-site training that I offer. The presentation would be followed by one-on-one counseling to individuals who might wish to investigate how to develop another job with their present company, with another company or start their own businesses.

Muddling Mondays

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Exhibition Hall Frankfurt, Germany

You have returned to work on Monday after making a presentation at a trade show and a 4-to- 12 hour flight back home. 

After making a presentation at a trade show or other event and a long flight back home the body, mind and spirit are going to take time to recover, whether it is convenient for you or not. Your objective on returning back to work is to muddle through the day without making any major mistakes, or in more direct language, without fucking up too badly.

At work: Avoid immediate commitments

  • Retire to the quietest place you can find
  • Sort through your materials that you collected on your trip
  • Locate any reports that you may have started at the event
  • Review your card contact lists
  • Promise a written report on Wednesday
  • Triple check anything you that you must send out and have someone else look over it
  • Start immediate treatment of any bugs that you might have picked up
  • Delegate ordinary duties to others as much as possible
  • Organize receipts for your expense report

On the home front

  • If fortunate enough to have a spouse, ask here to get your clothes ready for your next trip
  • Do what you absolutely must in the way of mowing lawn, shoveling snow or taking care of other seasonal yard tasks
  • Make appointments to see about non-working appliances
  • Give your children and spouse something from your trip
  • Try to resume intimate relations with your significant other on Tuesday or later in the week
  • Pay attention to your pets
  • Try to do a little with your kids
  • Bill paying which would usually be done on the weekend should be put off until Wednesday
  • Grab a half-hour of quiet relaxation when you can
  • Resume standard weekly family activities

The general focus on your Muddling Mondays is to get through the day as well as you can manage under the circumstances. Fatigue makes morons of us all. If you try to push yourself to work while you are physically and mentally exhausted and your body is also trying to fight off the latest infectious diseases, the odds of your making some regrettable mistake are very high. These will not be your best days, and your task is not to make them your worst.

Psychologically it is very easy in this condition to engage in potentially hurtful lash-out outbursts that might be triggered by any number of unforeseeable events. Under such conditions of fatigue and stress you are not the same person. Should you have one of these unexpected events, immediately apologize and make amends – regardless if this was at your spouse, boss, employee, pet or taxi driver.  A day’s rest at home, particularly after a long international flight that might be 12-30 hours long will not be completely restorative, but certainly will result in better job performance once you return to work. If such a trip is planned, budget for a recovery day or days before you get back into the full swing of everyday home and business life.

Age, experience and repeated activities can ease these fatigue factors somewhat. First class seating can do much towards reducing your bodily discomforts, but that extra cost is often not in the budget. A neck brace can also help you catch some sleep from time to time. Alcohol will increase your bathroom trips and generally does not do too much as a sleep aid. Provide yourself with what creature comforts that your seating will allow, and if these trips become frequent you may develop a pre-trip preparation scheme that will make your flight more pleasant.  One unusual feature offered at some oriental airports is a foot massage that I can recommend. Other airports have sleep pods where you can get some sleep during long layovers.

Many such tips are contained in my newest business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In the book I advocate that a person start many businesses as and when they are needed to raise immediate cash and plan for medium and long-term goals. Such activities are focused on discovering a “business of passion” that can sustain you throughout the remainder of your life doing work that you love to do. The book may be purchased in either softcover or e-book format at Amazon.com and many other sources or by using the PayPal button below. I will also post a video later today of the presentation that I did that prompted this series.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.

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Presentation Fridays

Augusta Flyer

(click above to see flyer for the event)

Days that involve travel to an event followed by a presentation are often the most stressful.

It is helpful if you can arrive the evening before a presentation to give you, and your body, a chance to unwind prior to the event and eliminate the stress that some transportation delay will disrupt your schedule. Regardless of what you might feel about the material that you are to present, unforeseeable events like accidents, flat tires, flights diverted to alternate airports, airline schedule changes and bad weather can prevent your timely arrival. In addition, there is the possibility that luggage might be lost or that your pre-shipped materials might be delayed in customs.

Home issues

Besides packing for the trip, there are always home issues to be taken care of before you leave. Your spouse will want contact information, the kids will need to know when you will return and often something will need to be done about your pets. Handle as many of these items the night before and reschedule any visits from the cable guy. Another thing that you will need to be sure that you packed up is your medications, if you are taking some for chronic conditions. A tooth brush or razor can be replaced, but it is not convenient to get medications after you leave home.

Have back up materials

A thumb drives containing your Power Point presentation along with at least a few copies of your hand-out materials can go in your carry-on luggage to prevent a catastrophic failure. If necessary, more copies can be made on site. Access to cloud storage might also be possible, but it is always reassuring to have something literally in your pocket.

Luggage and check-in hassles

If things are cut too close, you might be in the position that your just-in-time arrival has you delivered at the lecture hall minutes before you are go appear, and you did not have time to check in at your hotel. You have your materials to get ready as well as your luggage to do something with in the meantime. Most venues will have a check-in facility for coats that can also hold your luggage for a few hours. Draft anyone willing, explain what is going on and have them assist you with your luggage and set-up. In the meantime call the conference organizers and let them know you are on your way. Your presentation might be delayed or perhaps the time swapped with another presenter so that the day’s events are kept on schedule, even though your presentation might not be in the order listed in the program.

Collect yourself

Rushing breathless and sweating onto a stage and fumbling around trying to organize your materials is not likely to give a good impression. Relax make a joke about the weather or airlines or anything appropriate while you get yourself and your materials together. This will elicit some sympathy from your audience and buy you some time. The statement, “And now we may began,” will elicit a laugh from the audience and put you more at ease when you start on your presentation.  Any of this is better than trying to ad-lib something on the fly.

Presenting sick

Attending international events brings you into contact with populations from all over the world who are bringing their infectious agents with them. Major events might have 30,000 attendees and during midwinter’s flu season it seems that everyone you come into contact with has something. Take your flu shots, keep up with any meds that your own physician has given you and take some cough drops and any over the counter medications that you find effective in controlling digestive problems. In extreme cases you might have to cancel or substitute a video for your in-person appearance.

Videoing your presentation

In major conferences it is customary that at least the major presentations will be videoed. If you are presenting to a smaller group it takes a little time to set up an inexpensive video camera and have it record your performance. It is best to place your camera off to one side so that it can capture your image as well as the slides being shown on the screen. Ideally there would be someone who could also zoom in and out on occasion to better show your slides as you discuss them. You can record sound separately so that you also have an audio record that you can use along with the video. Do not place your camera near the projector or other noise sources unless you plan to overdub the sound. Making a video allows you not only to capture your performance but also to add other materials like photographs, written text, a summary of the event or other things that the viewer might find useful.

Tearing down

If you are one of a number of presenters you will have only a few minutes to tear down, pack up and exit the room before the next speaker. Thought needs to be given to make sure you leave with all of the equipment that you brought. For this reason it is best not to bring elaborate displays that take time to remove. It is disrespectful to take some of the next presenter’s time while you are cleaning up your stuff. There may be a group of listeners around you after the presentation, if so, inform them that you need to pack up and leave the stage area and will be happy to speak to them in the hall or at some other location after the event. In the meantime, gather your things and go.

Post event happenings

After securing your materials back in your vehicle or hotel room, you can return to the conference, perhaps attend someone else’s talk and generally mingle with other participants. Take the opportunity to unwind, generally observe what is going on and perhaps even plan what hospitality events that you are going to cover. This is also an appropriate time to link up with those with similar interests from other companies for supper if there is not a scheduled banquet.

Your report

If you are an early riser and managed not to have been overserved the evening before, the morning after your presentation is ideal for cataloging the events of the day. You will have collected business cards and you need to capture the information related to that stack of cards before you mix them up with those you will collect on subsequent days. Your report should include the following:

  • Presentation

Who

Where

When

Why

How

Response

General review and comments

  • People met

Record reasons cards given

Potential value of the relationship

Company

You

  • Other significant papers and presentations
  • Logistical and travel considerations
  • Costs
  • Evaluation of the event

The evaluation of the event is the part of the report that is most often omitted. If the event that you participated in is THE annual trade show for your industry and you were assigned to go, it is fair to comment if you were the correct person to send and perhaps suggest others who might be more interested or adept in going than you found yourself to be. If you have done an honest and workmanship like job on your report, then your evaluation will carry more weight and be taken seriously. This report is in addition to your regular work load and the more rapidly it can be done, including doing much of it at the event, the quicker you can get it behind you and get back to your regular work.

Piling on

Your return home on Sunday after a week-end event leaves you with unpacking, clean-up and reordering your life after being absent for the weekend. More enlightened companies will allow you a day to catch up on personal stuff after attending a major trade show, but many expect you back at your desk the next morning. If so, jet lagged, fighting off some foreign bug and with a sore head you pile into your car and where you may face a Muddling Monday, which will be the next article in this series.

I cover many practical business matters in Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In this book I advocate starting businesses as and when needed to raise immediate cash, work towards getting a better job and longer term goals which may require college degrees or relocations. This book is available in softcover or e-book format at Amazon.com and other e-book sources as well as from your local bookstore or may be ordered using the Pay Pal button below.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.

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Pick Up Tuesdays

Placeholder Image

Most creative people who are not endowed with the “neatness gene” live a messy existence. Pick Up Tuesdays budgets one day a week to restore a degree of order to their environments.

To the frequent dismay of those whose motto is, “Everything has its place and everything is in its’ place,” many creative people had rather create than clean up after themselves. Their desks are often messy, their houses are cluttered and their workshops often have half-finished projects on the workbench.

Pick Up Tuesday designates one day a week where time is allocated to taking care of those 15-minute tasks that have often gone undone for perhaps a month or more. Tuesday is selected because Mondays often bring unexpected work from events that transpired over the weekend and Wednesday through Friday allows sufficient time to receive new tasks and hopefully complete them.

Setting Up Your Pick Up Tuesday

The reason that these things have gone undone is because something more interesting or important had to be accomplished first. When there is a million-dollar contract on the line, who cares if your tools from the last job have not been put away? The new task is just piled on top of the debris of the old and work continues. Right?

Now is the time to designate an hour in the morning to clearing away, filing or throwing out the wreckage that remains from the last pieces of various jobs that litter your environment. The significant thing is to schedule time every Tuesday dedicated to this task. Maybe you need to keep a running list on your bulletin board and cross off things as you do them.

After you have successfully worked for a full hour, give yourself a small reward. Return to your regular work and continue to mid-afternoon. Then, say from 3:30-4:30, you dedicate another hour to clearing out more junk and getting ready for the rest of the week’s work. On your first Pick Up Tuesday you have spent two productive hours that will pay off in that things will be easier to find on your desk, you will be better prepared for the remainder of the week and maybe even uncovered something of value in that pile of papers or material.

Key Points

  • Set aside two hours every week to clear out materials from previous jobs.
  • Break your Pick Up periods into two segments.
  • Don’t walk by something that needs to be put away without attending to it.
  • Reward yourself after each segment.

General Comments

Every job should have a start, completion period and end at which time anything related to that project is cleared out. True. Commonly the put-away period is only partially completed. Project left-overs can hang around for weeks or months after they no longer have any useful function. This is like trash that should have been thrown out, but somehow never was. These bits of accumulated “stuffs” need to be periodically and regularly rooted out of your environment.

Physical clutter reinforces mental clutter in that when a thing is seen it automatically provokes a mental response. These go like, “What is it? What did I use it for? Is it any good now? Why do I still have it? Do I have any more use for it?” When this mental brainwork is taking place your mind is distracted from what should have been your primary task at the moment. If you ignore all of this and plow ahead anyway, it would have been better if your mental stimulations were from something connected with what you were tasking your mind to do; rather than extraneous matters.

Fighting the Packrat Syndrome

The nagging feeling that you might need this someday needs to be counterbalanced with the reality that you can’t keep everything. For guys it is particularly satisfying when that screw that saved or that piece of scrap wood is repurposed to fix something or to make something useful. Yes, go ahead and throw it into your screw jar or put it in your parts bin, but get it off your workbench.  I use my waste paper, boxes and other combustibles to start fires on my burn pile. For a person who works out of his own house, this is a possibility.

In an office setting, there is always the file cabinet for storing work-related documents that might be useful  at some later date, like the notes from a conversation that later became  a contract. Then when the document gets back from legal, you can check to make sure what was agreed upon is actually in the document.

Finding the Mental Groove

We humans respond to different environmental stimuli. Some receive their greatest creative stimulation with when surrounded by nearly ear-splitting volumes of music. Others, like me, want no, or few, outside distractions.  There are also those who are more creative in particular places or when fondling a particular object or looking at something visual. A destructive crutch is alcohol and/or drugs which can lead one down the path that they can only be creative when half or completely stoned.  While it is true that the use of stimulants can cause people to lose their inhibitions, it is also true that this pathway has led many down the path to absolute ruin and early death. The road to rock-and-roll fame might rightly be said to have been paved with the corpses of performers.

While some will maintain that a tidy workplace is the sigh of a tidy mind, as your First Grade Teacher told you, it is equally a sign of the workplace of a person who is likely not doing very much. A bit of disorder, and at times seeming chaos, may be a normal part of a persons’ creative modus operandi. That is fine and acceptable for a time, but cleaning up the leftover mess is necessary to ease the arrival of the next outburst of the creativity.

Many such tips are contained in my newest business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In the book I advocate that a person start many businesses as and when they are needed to raise immediate cash and plan for medium and long-term goals. Such activities are focused on discovering a “business of passion” that can sustain you throughout the remainder of your life doing work that you love to do. The book may be purchased in either softcover or e-book format at Amazon.com and many other sources or ordered using the PayPal box below.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.

$10.99

 

 

 

 

Writing Fiction while Sitting By the Bogwood Fire

 

One of thousands of abandoned croft houses in Ireland.

One of many thousands of abandoned stone croft houses that still dot the landscape which millions of Irish left to try for new lives elsewhere in the world.

Bogwood.n. Darkly colored wood that may be 10s of thousands of years old recovered from marshes and bogs in typically northern latitudes that is dried and used for fuel in areas where other wood is scarce or absent.

 Just as the captive Jews sat by the rivers of Babylon and dreamed of Zion, so the Irish displaced by eviction and starvation in their own land kept their fires in the United States, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, India and China. Scattered in countries of the expanding British Empire, those descended kept ingrained cultural ties with Ireland, even though it might be generations before any of them might return. Like any assimilating population their ties were stronger with the first generation of immigrants and weakened as time and family connections with cultures from other countries were made. As the hand-me-down cultural heritage was weakened, radio, movies, TV and videos brought new exposures of Irish culture to those who had never experienced it first or even second hand, but now will self-identify to be of Irish descent which may be five or more generations past.

Can a person be homesick for a land they have never seen? Travel agents will tell you that this is an unquestioned fact. There is no compelling reason to visit Ireland, vs. Spain, Egypt or Bulgaria, or any other place with more historic sites, gentler climates, better food options, etc.  Yet, many thousands return to Ireland each year to see a storied land that they have thus far only experienced through the creative activities of others. If you cannot go, how can you experience a country without ever having been there? The answer is through writing fiction.

Writing Fiction

Writing fiction is putting mental mind-travel adventures featuring characters of your own creation which you vividly picture in your mind and transfer onto paper. If you cannot visualize a scene and have it play out frame by frame in your mind, you can’t put it down on paper in a convincing manner. Writers and film directors know exactly how they want their next scene to come down before the cameras start rolling.

Can you visualize a set on stage and have your characters move on it? If you can the next step is to write your fiction where you describe the settings you have researched, the characters and allow them, through dialogue, to tell their stories and get the book started. You do not need to know who all the characters are when you start or where they are all going. Give your characters full and exciting lives and their actions and world events can help you set and tell the story of their lives.

People are complicated. They can and have experienced many different events throughout their lives including wars, natural disasters, loves won and loves lost, children, disabilities and ultimately death. These events woven through your characters’ lives can’t help but produce a gripping novel. Whereas a short story may only recount a single incident, the space allowed in a novel allows you to cover an entire lifetime including their interactions with historical and fictional individuals who might be friends at the start, but turn out to be bitter foes in the end.

Watching the bogwood fire burn thought me thinking of the millions who had done the same. Their lives at times gave off brilliant shoots of flame, and at other times more smoke, but beneath was a bed of red-hot coals that radiated warmth into the room and seemingly across the centuries. Put this fire in its hearth in any of the thousands of ruined stone cottages that dot rural Ireland. Read of the times, see photos of the landscape and let your mind’s eye tour the landscape, smell the wet earth, take in a hint of the sea and rotting kelp and let your characters tell their tales by the light of the sparking fire. This how generations of Irish spent the dark winter days when there was no money to buy oil for their lamps and it was too early to go to bed.

Where would I start a story? Perhaps 10,000 years ago with the tree was in full leaf and woolly mammoths walked among them. Maybe I would start during Medieval Times when Viking raids threatened the entire coast each spring. Perhaps there is a tale to be told during “the troubles” that culminated with the Easter Uprising and the formation of an Independent Republic of Ireland. Or I could start it today with the uncertainty of a hard or soft Brexit and its potential impact.

There is ample material to be mined here to keep writers of Irish fiction busy for the rest of their lives, and I have not even touched on magic, superstition and fantasy. It all begins with time. Pick your time, select your characters, give them purpose and let them drive the story through trials, tribulations and conflict towards some ultimate, perhaps not fully realized, success.  This is Ireland after all. All will turn out well, but likely not as quickly or easily as might be imagined – and that is what makes a good story.

One of the best examples of this sort of expansive Irish fiction is the 1992 movie, Far and Away, which was co-written by Director Ron Howard and Bob Dolman and stared Tom Cruise and Nichole Kidman. The movie follows the life of a young Irishman who after a botched attempt to murder his landlord escapes to America with his landlord’s daughter where he and her go through a vividly shown tableau of late 19th Century life to restart their lives by participating in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889. In this case the screenplay was produced without the benefit of a prior book, but Howard and Dolman visualized each step of the process before the first foot of film was shot.

To an imaginative mind a single event, seemingly trivial on its own, can create a novel which might expand into an entire universe of activities as occurred in the unlikely events related by Walt Disney’s animated mouse which grew into an international company with not only movie properties, but theme parks, TV networks and media publications of all sorts.

What Does It Take?

A professional writer can produce a book-length manuscript in about three months. This is working at it every day with only a few breaks during the writing period. Writers are generally not worth living with during this period, or at least I am not. The creative period is followed by the even more daunting tasks of rewriting, reorganizing and polishing follows which might consume another month. Then the manuscript goes through the submittal, editing and publication process that might drag on for a year or more. Manuscripts by new authors have an uphill climb to be noticed in the publication world.  Authors brought to near desperation that this book in which they have invested so much effort might never be published, often decide to self-publish it. It becomes another of the million books  published that year to a lack-luster reception. Is that the end of the book and their writing careers? It could be.

A Following

Even before a potential publisher picks up your book, one thing that they will want to know is how big is your following? Do you have a presence on social media? How many people care what you do? Have you published in the past? Are you for whatever reason, well known? If the answer to these questions is, “Yes.” Then your book might have a chance at being read and perhaps passed on for further consideration. A writer can develop his own following and even serially publish his book in chapter form to gather readers and ultimately buyers of his works. This was done by many writers in the 19th Century whose new books might be serialized in newspapers all over the English-speaking world. The Sherlock Homes’ mysteries, Dickens’ many stories, Mark Twain’s works, etc. were often first published in this manner. You can do the same with a dedicated blog about your writing project and your book. By the time it is ready to be published you will have already received pre-publication orders from your fans. This is; however, a long-term process, that will take months and perhaps years to bring off the first time. The second time, and subsequent, times will be easier as you will have already established a fan base.

Are you meant to be a full or part-time fiction writer? That is a question that only you can answer and time will prove. You might not have the physical attributes to be an athlete. Perhaps you cannot draw, sculpt or paint. But, if you can imagine and paint vivid scenes with words on paper, there might be a book writer in there somewhere. If you do not try, you will never find out.

Have you been writing mini-stories or plays since childhood? Many writers have. Do you enjoy stories told by others and even have invented some of your own? Very often writers are also adept storytellers. Have you participated in impromptu stage performances? If so, this is a good indication. Have others told you that this or that was a good piece of writing and you saved it? That might be worth looking back over, even if it was done many decades ago. If you have been checking off all of these things as you have read them, you have the creative capabilities to produce fictional works.

Learning the skills can be done through taking on-line courses, reading books on techniques and ultimately, sitting down and putting words on paper. You must get over all of the mental and physical hurtles of delayed starts and the “I cant’s” that prevent you from doing anything. Many writers find it convenient to outline the plot and characters on paper and this gives them the skeleton of the novel to flesh out and a way to conveniently keep track of their progress. This is also helpful if elements of the novel are not written in chronological order, as might occur if you are on location where a significant part of the action in your book takes place and you want to capture that portion while you have all of the resources and reference materials at hand.

It makes no difference where in the story line you start. The thing is to start and then flail through it until it is done. Do this and you can write your novel. Go to it. Now.

This, and many more, tips on starting your own business are contained in my most recent business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. This book will help you formulate different business opportunities, sort them out into short, medium and long term activities and implement them. It also provides the nuts-and-bolts information on topics like how to name your business, secure copyrights, trademarks and become registered in your state. This book is available from Amazon.com, other e-booksellers and from your local bookstore. You may also order a copy by using the PayPal button below. I also do individual consulting by telephone and e-mail. Arrangements for a consult may be made by using the contact form.

 

Create Your Own Job Security

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Starting Another Business While Working for Someone Else

Hovey at school

Ethical ways to start another company or create a new job while working for someone else.

 “When you take the King’s shilling, you are the King’s man.” Is a quote from Old English that still resonates today. When you are employed by a company you are expected to abide by company policies and to the best of your ability promote the company’s interests. This practice is enforceable not only by company policies, but also in many circumstances by law. You may be prosecuted for the theft of real or intellectual property. You will, as a condition of your employment, often have signed a non-disclosure agreement where you agree not to disclose a company’s trade secrets, patent information, etc.

Given this constraint, how does a person ethically seek to start his own company while being employed by another?   I strongly advocate this policy in my new business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.”  Not only this, but I maintain that you should actually start and run it quietly in the background while you are working for others in order to have income for you and your family should your job be abruptly terminated.

In the gig economy it is assumed when you are hired to fill a short-term position, and that you will be continually looking for another job either within that company or for your next job somewhere else.  You might even start your own company. Everyone’s options are seemingly open. Just as your company might hire or fire you without notice, you ethically have the right to do the same.

Corporate Jobholder

There are two distinct approaches to starting your own business while working, depending on the job that you hold. If you are a member of a cooperation where you were first hired, say as a junior Tech person and worked up through middle management, you would likely have been with the company for five years or more; but for whatever reason seem to be stuck with no obvious way up within the company organization – or none you want to take. In this case, the concept of starting your own entrepreneurial enterprise is looking more attractive.  You should:

  • Look for new business opportunities in another business or service area.
  • Do all your searching, contacts, interviews, etc. on your own equipment. Keep all this information on your private phone and computer. Separate your employer’s business and your own as much as possible. Pen and paper provide one of the most secure ways of recording your own thoughts as suggested by my booklet, Ideas for New Businesses, which provides inspiration for and a way  of privately recording business concepts on long-distance flights. Keep track of these ideas, especially those that are not appropriate for the company for which you are working.  One of these might become your next business.
  • Volunteer and participate in company workshops, on committees from other parts of the production process and in joint ventures with other companies. Broadening your outlook and experiences not only enhances your personal knowledge base, but also makes you a more obviously valuable employee who is worth promoting. Keep track of such participations and any awards that you might have earned.

Gig Economy Worker

While some companies would try to eek every potential advantage our of a gig worker’s employment, and assert that they have every right to do so, temporary employment is by any standard, just that.  If your “Temporary Employment” has now lasted five years or more, then it is time to think about filing a complaint with your state Labor Relations Board and see if you are not due additional benefits, such as health insurance, from the company that hired you.  Unions and sometime Temp Agencies can help you in filing such a claim or correcting the situation.

  • Your greatest asset in working for a variety of companies perhaps doing radically different jobs is your power of observation and adaptation. Look at jobs all around you. Could you do that job better? Is what that gal is doing really appealing to you? Can you form your own company around any of these things that you are seeing others do?
  • Again, make sure that you keep your own business concepts and job searches remain your property by doing them on your own phone/computer on your own time.
  • Although applicable to both types of employment situations, gig workers are even freer to ask about forthcoming projects that they might participate in, permanent positions in the company and opportunities abroad.
  • Cultivate friendships with those within the company. It is entirely possible that this year’s co-worker might be next year’s boss or they might provide useful tips about future business possibilities that you can exploit.

Being in the Stew of Life

Somehow your next best business opportunity will come from something that you have experienced. Be on the lookout for that opportunity and be ready to act on it when it arrives. Then see what, if anything, can be derived from your present work experience to enable you to find out more about your new potential business without breaking ethical business rules, doing anything illegal or violating your contract. If there are extra company trainings or education, take advantage of it. You might even be able to sound out details of your business plan while taking company-supported educational programs.

A lot of this is going to have to be balanced around family activities and responsibilities. Work on your business as you can and when you can. It might be that commute time can provided your daily business hour. If so, plan for it and work on it while you ride or fly. Each day try to do something towards advancing your business. If you persist through the daily distractions of life, you can accomplish your intermediate objectives and ultimately run your own business.

These and many more tips are in my most recent business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife,” which is available from Amazon.com and many other sources as either a softcover or e-book or by using the PayPal button below.  You can also find more information on my blog https://createyourownjobsecurity.com and over 20 YouTube business videos on the Hovey Smith YouTube Channel.  Individual consultation can also be arranged using the contact form below.

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Working Through Sick Days

 

Tax stuff

How you can continue productive work through your annual bout with colds, flu and sinus infections.

An annual debilitating fight with colds and other respiratory diseases is something that impacts everyone from the CEO to the worker who is contracted to clean the toilets with each employee losing an average of five day’s work a year. The pressure is on to continue work, either because of taxes, project requirements or to pay bills; even though you may be feeling more dead than alive.

Coping with Infectious Diseases

At its worst stages the only one in your household that might not be impacted by the latest crop of infectious bugs may be your fish. This is the time that you really need a Jewish Grandmother. If you don’t have one, adopt one. Besides being good Christian practice to look after your neighbors, extending a cross-cultural bond between religious and ethnic groups cements people-to-people bonds that can help us all get by in society. We humans are social animals and work best when we have caring people around us. In today’s society where families may be separated by continental distances, forming a pseudo-family in your new neighborhood is some lowest costs insurance than you can buy.

If you need help with child care or even to help to look after yourself, ask for it. There are those who can buy groceries and leave them at your door. Some stores are also offering home delivery of medicines and groceries that can allow you to stay home during your typical seven-day recovery period. This recovery might be even longer if you are hit by multiple strands of this junk.

Going to Work Sick

You do no one any good if you are infecting others at the office. In these days of paring down the workforce, back-up workers are often not available to fill in when someone is out. Maybe it is only you who can deliver the annual ——– report that is required by State or Federal law. Even if so, see if this report cannot be delivered electronically, rather than in person. Work from home for as many days as you need to get over your crud, and don’t spread it around.

Besides being good practice from a health point of view, the stress of putting up with a cold and working leads to mental lapses. Such less than optimum thinking results in obvious mistakes that you would have caught. While you might be valued for your ability to see other approaches or options, your mental capacity is reduced during periods of high fever which in extreme cases can result in blackouts or even hallucinations.  You are not setting a good example by going to work sick. If someone tells you to go home, GO HOME.  Take this advice, regardless of whether it comes from the Greeter at the door, or from the CEO.

Good Days, Bad Days and Worse Days

As the disease wracks through your body, some periods will be better than others. There are times when coughing can be so severe that you may double over, lose consciousness and fall to the floor.  This is a common cause of the elderly breaking bones. This is no less dangerous if you are in freeway traffic.  Equally debilitating is if the bug hits you in the digestive tract and you are running at both ends, seemingly unable to keep food inside of your system. If either condition is more than temporary, hospitalization and intravenous fluids and/or feeding will be necessary to keep the body functioning. Don’t try to tough this sort of thing out, and DO NOT take these conditions to the workplace.  Go to your doctor or emergency room for treatment.

Review What You Send

At times the symptoms will be so bad that you cannot sleep. You are up at odd hours and seeking relief by sitting up in your recliner, because lying down brings on more coughing or puking. You are feeling worthless. O.K. Do something. Bring out your laptop and write something. Start to work on your next report, review your e-mails and reply to the most vital of them. However, before your send them, REVIEW WHAT YOU SEND. You are going to make errors, omit words, put in half-baked thoughts and often sound stupid. Respond to what you must, but look it over first. Put most of them in a draft folder, and don’t send them out until you have had a chance to give them a second, or third, look.

You are working at only half-mental capacity or less, so budget taking twice as long to complete anything. Tell your correspondents that you will reply, but later when you have the chance to provide them with a better response. If they don’t or cannot understand, then you should start searching for another job that places a higher value on its personnel. Paradoxically, non-profit organizations may be the worst offenders in this regard. Just because you are working for a good cause for little pay does not mean that you should sacrifice your health to do it. Volunteers who rise through the ranks of such organizations have often not received any management training and may be otherwise worthy, but not good managers.

Delegate Responsibilities

Delayed response should be your default mode when you are sick. The next best tool is to delegate tasks to someone else. This obviously gets sticky.  You may think that there is a danger that the person you delegate the task to might do a better job than you would have. From the company’s point of view, this would be a beneficial result. You might see yourself as allowing a potential rival to replace you at your job because you feel more vulnerable when you are sick. Instead, assign him the report, help him with it and commend him if he did a good job. Your ability to recognize rising corporate talent will be rewarded in most forward-looking organizations. This supposed negative can be turned into a positive for you both.

Diversify Activities

While stuck at home, plan your work and everyday activities to be diverse. This keeps your body moving, may get you out of the house (say doing yardwork) for a period and provide periods of work and entertainment during your illness. Try to make your activities less prison-like. Maybe there are a series of fix-it items that you have been planning to do. You are certainly going to need to clean up after yourself, which may be an even more unwelcome task than usual. The keeping-moving part of this recovery is vital. You may not be able to resume your exercise program, but try to do something even if only for a few minutes every day.  Be especially careful when moving things, as you will tend to drop things much more often, including laptops. You do not want to lose something that you have worked hard to complete because you dropped the device you wrote it on or spilled a cup of coffee on it.

Delay Responses to Get Rest

Just as you work when you can, you must also rest when you can. This illness is interrupting your sleep. If your bug has kept you up most of the night and finally at daylight you have fought through your last coughing episode, go back to bed.  When you awake and feel better, then do some serious work for as long as possible. When your symptoms come back, take another round of medications. When the vomiting, etc. is over and you are physically and mentally hurting, REST. Even if you are a younger person with the faster recouping power of youth, rest is vital for your recovery.   This makes for an irregular, unpredictable work day, and your disease-permitted work periods will be intermittent and irregular.  Typically, it will take you at least twice as long to accomplish things that you would usually do, and at times you might only be able to do half as much. Accept this as your new normal until you are back on your feet.

Complete the Task at Hand

Complex multi-tasking is not something to attempt when you are ill. Make it a point to complete the task at hand, before moving to another. Colds, flu and fevers tend to make one even more forgetful than usual. The old standby of writing it down and crossing it off still works.  Make lists and use them. Perhaps you now  keep such things electronically on your phone, but even having a sheet of paper taped on the refrigerator door can be a considerable aid in getting needed things done and keeping track of how your day is going.

Stressed Systems and Creativity

One aspect of a stressed system is that it provokes creativity, which may or may not be directed towards workplace issues. Look out for this and record these events as they occur.  These flights of mental fancy might be artistic expressions in different directions or in fields that you do not usually think about. These creative thoughts may have commercial value if properly developed. What they do psychologically is to provide mental rewards and relaxations. Allow them to work for you.

Thinking About Another Job

If you are stuck in a job/s  where you are just getting by, your sick days may be the only time you have to seriously investigate the possibilities of starting your own company which is the thrust of my newest business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In this new book I tell how to sort out business possibilities and select those that you can implement immediately, others that take more time and perhaps ultimately discover your “business of passion,” that may sustain you throughout your entire life. In today’s global e-commerce world, anyone, anywhere can start a business that might someday evolve into a multi-million dollar enterprise. Even if your goals are not that lofty, the book explains in detail how to raise immediate cash, invest in your own future and alter your approaches to reach your present and future life goals.  This book is available from Amazon.com and from your local bookstores.  I will be giving a free two hour seminar Create Your Own Job in Augusta, Georgia, on March 15, 2019. Go to https://createyourownjobsecurity.com for details.  Although the event is free, I do need an approximate count so I can get additional space if necessary. If you can attend, please use the reply form below to get more information on the event and follow-up activities.

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Choose Your Partners as Carefully as You Would Choose Your Parents

Eating Insects Athens, 2018 Participants

Gather a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and skills to help you launch your new business or cause. 

While sex appeal and lust-driven emotional responses likely played a large part in your being conceived, such responses need to be set aside when taking on a business partner.  Maybe a sex partner can be a business partner, but the first determination in partnership is “What can you bring to the business that I cannot?”

If the answer is, “Nothing that I can see right now,” then your sex partner is best removed from consideration. In looking for partners or team members, you need to find people whose skill set is different from your own and have different life experiences. This is somewhat counterintuitive, as the default position would be to choose partners who came from the same cultural background, went to the same schools, were the same age, had similar life experiences, etc. It would appear that attracting like-minded individuals would make everyone more compatible and provide for a smoother-running organization. If you want to be in such an organization join a country club, but you need more diversity in your business associates and partners.

In today’s world-connected business environment, partners do not have to come from previous associates, although this is a relatively easy pool of candidates to tap, they can come from anywhere. It is desirable to be able to access those who operate in lower-costs labor markets and having a foreign-based partner can ease your transition from a strictly U.S. into a World-Wide market. This can also help you understand why a product designed for one market might be a failure when introduced to another part of the World? While it is true that we are a World-Wide interdependent manufacturing and business community; that does not mean that we are all the same.

Who do You Need for Partners?

  • Like it or not, this is you. At least for now it is. Although perhaps you feel more intellectually comfortable working strictly on the creative or design side of the business than telling people what to do, this is a necessary business function that must be filled. When you were by yourself it was easy to decide what product to produce, which marketing tactic to try next and what trade shows to attend. After the business has started and you begin to need help to grow it you are, by default the CEO until someone is found who you have sufficient confidence in to take over that position. Because of ego factors that day may never come. There are many who started their own businesses that became so emotionally invested in the business; that they could never sit back and let someone else run it – even when the business is in a death spiral.
  • Usually these people are associated with product design and advertising. These are the folks who produce your promotional materials on social media, print your brochures, design your ads and make your videos. These are people who may see new uses and markets for your products, suggest design improvements and help you investigate new markets. Harley Davidson is a typical company with a universally-known product that has now designed and produced an electric- powered motorbike that looks enough like and sounds enough like the traditional Harley to be immediately identifiable – yet is a forward-looking design.
  • Where, how and to what population groups to approach with new products can determine a company’s success or failure. A product release that is too early or too late and can have huge impacts on its success. Potential buyers can be turned off an entire product line if an expected release date is not met, and they might wait for years before a highly anticipated new product is released.
  • Whether it is an intellectual product, like a book, or a manufactured item, the best production methods must be decided on. “Best” these days is often considered to be the lowest costs, but the highest valued items are most often made in their countries of origin. Many businesses are now attempting to produce items that fall into a low cost, medium cost and higher cost categories that are usually referred to as “good, better and best,” to broaden their brand’s potential appeal. It is a business truism that someone, somewhere in the world will always undercut your lowest costs, and a race to the bottom in product pricing usually results in business failures. Never, ever, price a product below production costs. It is better to scrap a failed product and write off the loss than sell at low dollar because doing so devalues the entire product line.
  • Just-in-time delivery has become widely adopted in modern marketing. Stores plan their product displays on their shelves months in advance. If you are fortunate enough to secure a spot on a major retailer’s shelves, you had damn better meet the delivery date without fail.
  • Often for start-up companies the accounting functions are farmed out to firms who will handle your payroll and file your Federal and State paperwork, etc. Even though they might now be doing these functions, a person who delights in details, has a strong since of order and procedure, keeps track of OSHA regulations and generally keeps the company out of trouble is still needed. Others in the organization who are caught up in the details of meeting their responsibilities will be tempted to employ short-cuts, which may well be illegal. A person who fills this function might be a Lawyer or come from a variety of backgrounds, but he/she needs to have a very meticulous bend to his personality and the strength to point out a shortcoming, even though others in the company may object to his meddling in “their departments.”

Having defined the categories of people that I need, where do I find them?

If you are putting together a team then your search pool is very often restricted to present company employees. If it is a large-enough company perhaps team members might be recruited from other branches, departments or countries to add a diversity of opinions and approaches to your efforts. Certainly select some from your immediate surroundings, but actively solicit others that you have gotten good recommendations from other branches or divisions in your company.

If you are looking for partners in your own company, you are not under any such restrictions, and you have the entire world’s population for you to select from. One of the better ways to select is to do so from those presenting in trade shows or professional meetings. Even though some may be students, their approaches as demonstrated in their papers can be very useful in highlighting their areas of interests and provide a measure of their capabilities.

Self Growth with its hundreds of thousands of members and tens of thousands of experts can provides leads for potential partners at all levels of experience to potentially become part of your international partnership.

If you can look dispassionately at the qualifications of your close friends and family members and say that they fit the qualifications needed to participate in your business then they might also be considered. No one has a blood right to become a part of any business. Even in businesses that are largely family run, members must demonstrate their capabilities to do something the business needs to have done. The most successful assimilations of family members have resulted from the son or daughter of the founder getting professional qualifications, working for another company for a period of three to five years and then being invited to become a member of the family’s company.  The most significant thing is that they must want to be involved. If they do not want to be involved or work with other family members, then they had best seek another career or perhaps even start their own firms. Just because you are a Ford does not mean that you should run Ford Motor Company.

This and many more topics are covered in my most recent business book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.  In this book I advocate starting a series of businesses throughout one’s life to raise cash as needed, train for future careers and ultimately discover a business of passion that can carry you throughout the remainder of your life. This book is available on Amazon.com, other on-line retailers and your local bookstore.  I am also available to speak on business topics and have presented in the U.S., Europe and China.

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Avoid Financial Disaster when Selling Your Company

Hovey with Tennille Bank front

Is selling your company going to reward you financially or leave you with a bankrupt company and debts that you cannot repay?

Thus far your entrepreneurial enterprises have gone well. You started a company, made it a success, ran it for decades and now would like to cash out to move on onto something else. You have solicited offers and some have been received. How to you evaluate which one to accept? A range of options are offered. These include:

  • Cash Purchase with A One-Time Payment
  • An Initial Payment with More Being Made over A Period Of Years
  • No Initial Payment with You Awarded Stock in the New Company

These are three end points that might include more incentives such as continuing health insurance, your receiving retirement benefits along with your cash settlement, housing, a consulting contract, salary during a transition period of months, hunting rights on company owned properties, etc. These sweeteners are significant, and it is easy to get carried away with them while overlooking possible downsides to the deal.

Cash Out Your Company

Advantages of a Cash Out settlement center around the fact that when the deal is done, it is done. Although there might be some perks allowed along with this type of settlement, once you have sold your company you are out of it except for a brief transition period. Your settlement is fixed, and typically after a few months you are free to do whatever you wish. If you are a young guy, you might want to start another company. Whatever, you have your money, and any connection with the company you started is over. It may be hard to let go, but you need to make a clean break, financially, socially and psychologically. It’s all over. Move on to the next stage of your life.

With this type of settlement those buying your company are taking more risks, and the amount being offered might be half, or perhaps only a third, of what you consider that the company is worth. Their giving you cash is taking away money that might otherwise go into improving the company’s physical plant, bringing in a new accounting system or other upgrades to make the company more viable in the present business climate. All too often, these changes also include shifting production facilities to less expensive operating sites in another state or even out of the country. These changes are going to be financed by debt, and your demand for cash increases the buyer’s debt load without any associated improvements to the company. Consequently, many potential buyers will attempt to draw out these payments over a period of years with the ultimate objective of paying you from operational profits. This transfers more of the risks to you.

A Part Cash Part Later Payments

This type of settlement has a longer pay-out period and a larger total settlement which might be made even more attractive because the tax obligations would be less on the total amount. You would pay less to Uncle Sam and be allowed to keep more for yourself and your family. You are betting that the new management team will be able to take your company, run it as least as well as you did and perhaps make it more profitable that it was. They certainly think so, and they will do everything possible to make you believe that this is true. In reality it may not be.  They may have no intention of operating your company, but after selling off its assets, leave it as a shell organization that is unable to function, much less make any money. The company is taken over, its assets sold, debts incurred and goes to bankruptcy with you left out altogether. Their obligation to you now becomes noting more that their obligations to other laid-off employees, which is next to nothing, Except for the initial payments, you will likely receive nothing further, and creditors might even go after your assets if you are still listed as a company officer.

Stock in The New Company

In order to preserve a maximum amount of cash to foster the operation of the new company, the buyers may offer you a minority stock position with a seat on the board. Being a board member is somewhat attractive because it keeps you, the former owner, involved; but does not have nearly the time commitment that you had as owner. You would still have some input as to the direction the new owners were taking the company, but your obligation has changed. You are no longer representing yourself, but you are representing shareholders. The shareholders interests are not yours, and the less paid to you, the more money is available for reinvestment in the company or as dividends to them.

Even if you violently disagree with what the majority owners wish to do with your former company, you are helpless to do anything about it but go along and hope for the best. Again, unwise investments, unnecessary spending for trips and advertising, expansion of the product line without doing sufficient market research, inflated salaries for company officers and outright theft can quickly drain the assets of any once-thriving company. All you can do is watch.

The final result is that you now hold worthless stock, the company goes bankrupt, and you are left with nothing. Maybe you want to put your workers back to work and start up the company again, but you are now likely facing a debt load that you cannot repay.  You make a heroic effort, but it fails. Whatever assets you had in the company are now sold off, and you are left with nothing to show for a lifetime’s work.

This unfortunate chain of events is happening every day to companies large and small. Before you sell your company, know your potential buyers and select your options carefully. My general advice would be to take a smaller settlement as a cash buy-out and then separate yourself from your old company as fast as possible. A continued association may offer some social benefits; but unless they offer some financial benefits as well, such commitments are more of a drain on your time and finances than an enhancement.

It took time and care to grow your company, use equal care in divesting from it.

This is but one of the many issues that I discuss in my most recent business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. I also have a YouTube video on this topic on the Hovey Smith Channel. The book may be purchased from Amazon and other on-line booksellers. If you wish to consult with me on this and other business topics contact me using the reply box below.

Create Your Own Job Security

Generally available for special promotion price of $10.99.

$10.99