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THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO TURN YOUR HOBBY INTO A BUSINESS

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More and more, we see a phenomenon expanding in the economy: skilled workers opting to stay at home and choosing to do contractual jobs over the internet. They take on employers based on task-specific contracts, going through several employees one after another. Sometimes, they even juggle several employees at once. They hand in excellent work, the arrangement expires, and they go on to the next contract.

This is the gig economy.

If making, hacking, and creating on the side isn’t enough for you, you may be thinking of taking your hobby legit. However, turning a hobby into a business isn’t just a matter of scaling up. Whether you’re selling creations, ideas, or services, here are three things you need to cut it in the business world.

A Platform
It doesn’t matter how awesome your products or services are if you don’t have a way to sell them. To monetize your hobby, you need a way to get the word out.

One option is selling through established marketplaces, including Etsy and Tindie. These platforms offer the benefit of already existing, so all you have to do is upload your information and list your items. However, with so many makers, crafters and DIYers using these marketplaces, it can be hard to stand out and find customers.

If you’re serious about your business, create an e-commerce website to list your wares. You can drive traffic and gain customers by marketing your business through social media, attending Maker Faires, and networking with your local maker community. Traditional marketing channels not doing it for you? Read Neil Patel’s guide to growth hacking for creative ways to expand your business.

Collaboration
Working from home has its limits. While a home office is great for focusing and cranking out work, it’s not the most creative environment. For exposure to new technologies and fresh ideas, seek a workspace you share with other makers.

Not only does co-working offices and maker spaces provide a place to work, but also these collaborative workspaces host events where you can learn, socialize and hear from leaders in the field. Make the right connection at a networking event and you can land yourself a partner for your newest project or an investor with a passion for your work. Collaborative workspaces expand your social capital and provide access to tools and technology that you might not be able to afford on your own.

To find a maker space in your area, check out the directory at Make.

Financial Savvy
The difference between a hobby and a business isn’t in how much time you commit to the pursuit. Rather, it’s all about how you handle the finances.

If you’re considered a business by the IRS, your business expenses are fully deductible. However, businesses have to check a few boxes, such as keeping financial records, paying estimated taxes and generating profit. You can learn more about the business-hobby distinction at The Simple Dollar.

You’ll need to keep financial records such as business expenses and income, receipts, invoices and inventory logs. How you maintain these records is up to you. While many small-business owners turn to software solutions like QuickBooks, when you’re first starting out, basic spreadsheets may be sufficient. However, some tech solutions are worth the effort.

Two apps that every new freelancer, side-gigger, or small-business owner should have in their pocket are a receipt-tracking app, and an invoicing app. A receipt app collects receipts in one place using pictures, so you’re not sorting through stacks of faded, crumpled receipts at tax time. An invoice app lets you send invoices right from your phone, so you can keep your business running on the go. More importantly, it makes it easy to see which invoices are outstanding so you don’t forget to get paid!

Turning a hobby into a successful enterprise is every maker’s dream. However, running a successful business requires more than passion and a great idea. If you want to see your dreams come to fruition, you need to pay just as much attention to these behind-the-scenes details as you do to the main attraction.

Article by Lucy Reed, lucy_reed@gigmine.co>The Gig Mine, http://gigmine.co/.

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Why you Can’t get What you Want

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Not getting what you want can be a blessing.

Not getting what you want can be a blessing.

We really are a society, of ‘I want what I want now.’ I spent most of my younger life wanting something. One year it was a new car or another car, and then it was more clothes and a different color hair. At one point, I had four cars in various states of restoration.

Yes, I wanted something but I never knew what it was. I was attracted to ‘bright shiny objects’ and wanted everything. It never stopped; I had to have every color lipstick and shoe.

At this point, I can own up to the facts—I was trying to be more desirable.  One day, I realized that I was being taken on a ‘proverbial ride.’ Not only that, but my credit card bills were mounting, and my bank accounts weren’t growing. I was adding to everyone’s success but my own! I was being seduced by marketing geniuses and my own need to cover up my insecurities.

I was looking outside myself for the answers to my life. It has taken me many years to realize that what’s important to me not anyone else. Why do I care what others’ think about me?

The point is I believe you can get what you want if you know what it is. As I listen to people talk about their next new car, when there’s a perfectly good one in the garage, I ponder whether they’re wondering why they need a new one. Think about the millions spent on advertising that tries to make us feel like a new soft drink will make us smarter and a new car will make us sexier. (One of my friends told me he felt sexy in his new car. This is a sad commentary on how he views himself.)

So what’s the solution?

Before you run out of money and need a second or third job, stop and think about what you’re trying to accomplish with your buying.  Take a good look in the mirror and do a self-inventory. Ask yourself, who am I looking at?

Stop being afraid of who you are. Eckhart Tolle tells his own story of depression and discontent in his first spiritual teaching, The Power of Now. He could no longer live with himself. And in his repetition, he then asked, “Who the ‘I’ is and who is ‘myself’?” These are powerful questions.

Bring your conversations to reality. How many times have you thought you would like to do change careers but are afraid of what your spouse might think? Maybe you’re worried that it doesn’t’ pay as well as the job you have now.

I’m starting to realize I’m passed the point of trying to please everyone in my life. Of course there are still those I love and want to please but I don’t think a new car will do it.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses for over 25 years get what they really want’—more customers. To schedule a call or have her speak at your business, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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By |2017-03-03T12:06:52+00:00July 14th, 2015|Blog, Building a Brand, general, Motivation|0 Comments

Are you a Victor or Victim of the Environment?

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American novelist.

American novelist.

Today I attended a Weight Watchers meeting. What started out as a “fact-finding mission,” has turned into a lifetime membership. I’ve been attending for a year; weighing in weekly and often staying for the meetings. I never thought I would stay, but I find the people and the meeting inspiring. Today we discussed things in the environment that we can’t change.

I went out to eat the other night and noticed that everyone was taking home more than I was eating. There were mounds and mounds of food on everyone’s plate. I kept thinking, if I ate all that food I would just continue to gain weight, but the food looked so appetizing. I heard a little voice say in my head, “It’s not for me.” I guess that’s what going to Weight Watchers for a year will do for you.

You become what you hand around.

You become what you hand around.

Is your environment unhealthy? Here are some tips for staying on top of it.

1. Remember stress of some form will always be in your life. You may choose to see it as stress or change it to excitement. We may not be able to change the stress but we can change how we react to it.

2. Have an escape plan. If things get too much for you, get out. One of the men said he was so overwhelmed by the food at an open house; he just left via the back door. Occupy your mind with something different. I have a friend who “worries it forward.” Instead of waiting for the “think to happen, “ in her mind, a “possibility that it might” means it has. According to a poll on the health site, for example, roughly 70% of readers find themselves ruminating quite often, and only around 5% find that they are able to let things go almost immediately. To ruminate is one way to think or exercise the mind or one’s power of reason in order to make inferences, decisions or arrive at a solution. Instead of getting done with it, you think about it over and over.  Do you think you’re prone to “ruminating?” Take this test and find some helpful tips to get you away from this habit.

3. Distract yourself from the uncomfortable thing. This will help you forget about it and put together a new plan. You can read a book, turn on the television or take your dog for a walk. Be a good friend and look for positive people.

Get some exercise

Get some exercise

4. Be mindful of your situation. Instead of going off into the “what if,” become grounded in reality. Reality might not feel like the safest place to be, but you will have more options there.

5. If you’re stressed, make sure you get enough sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, things look a lot worse. Consider a short nap to perk up your stress coping abilities.

6. The best way to lessen your stress is to go for a run or exercise. Exercise raises your endorphins and will give you energy. The environment continually changes giving us more things to deal with. The better we are with coping the more pleasant our lives.

Lisbeth helps businesses improve their customer service and the customer experience. To have her talk to your team or schedule a call, reach her at 518.495.5380.

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Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones…

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Photo The other day I found a note under my windshield wiper. It was an angry note calling me some choice words for parking so close to this person's car on the packed streets in downtown Albany.

So do I get it? 

Yes I do – having lived in downtown Albany for 20 plus years and having to park on the street. What I’m wondering is, why the rant? I don’t believe I hit his/her bumper, I always check and I know I didn’t hit the side of his/her car. Sure we all get angry, but suppose I just turn out to be your boss or your mom’s best friend or your father’s new girlfriend!

Consider this lovely note written by Dan Gilbert, Majority Owner, Cleveland Cavaliers, about Lebron James'  “defection” to Miami. 

“This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.”

And then this morning:

COBLESKILL, NY — A racial controversy in the Town of Cobleskill came to a head Monday night, as roughly 130 people showed up at a town meeting demanding answers. (The mayor has been recorded as using racial slurs.)

And then there’s Mel Gibson. Could he get himself in anymore trouble?

From presidents to presidents, words have managed to destroy many careers.

“I did not have sex with that woman.” One of the most famous lines.

What happens to us in the heat of emotion? Do our real feelings come out? Do we feel we have the right to say “what we really think?” I think not.

Anger is just as much violence as if one took a baseball bat to the victim; we think it doesn’t cause as much hurt as it does.

My thoughts: words can bring you down.

Remember when you were a kid, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me?” I don’t think it’s true, words are just as harmful, words often lead to “sticks and stones.” Children start of the playground with harmless words and then graduate into sticks and stones. I was walking behind a group of tykes and they were cursing like the big boys!

You never know who is listening, or judging.

Why would you want to air opinions in anger that you would never air if you were in your right mind?

As a business owner, you are always in the public light, anything you say will be used for or against you.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:13+00:00July 20th, 2010|general|0 Comments

What’s the Purpose of a Birthday?

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People yell, "Don’t remind me of my birthday – it just reminds me of my age." And what’s wrong with that?

Why are birthdays only important to kids and not most adults? They could remind us of a most important time in our life, our birth. I don’t know anyone who actually remembers their birth but I’ve heard some do. I bet your parents remember; it was probably one of the most memorable days of their lives. I remember when my sister was born, I was six at the time, and it was a terribly snowy night. I remember dad putting me in the back seat of the car, wrapped in my raggedy blanket (I never went anywhere without it) with a bottle of juice. Maybe you have a brother or sister who remembers your birthday event.
I started thinking differently about my birthday about 30 years ago when my parents were still alive. I sent my mother flowers on my birthday, she was thrilled. I told her that without her participation I wouldn’t be here. She actually thought it was quite funny until I asked her about my birth. She asked how many times did she have to go through it. We laughed about the snow and daddy pacing outside the delivery room. These days anyone is allowed in the delivery room including the paparazzi. I asked my mom if her doctor, Dr. Bowerhan, was a good doctor to which she replied, he made house calls and in those days that made him good. Mom said I cried all the way home, no mommy and nothing to show for the night intrusion. Like many 6 year olds I thought birth meant the possibility of a horse.

I asked my older cousin about my birth; she said everyone was excited — except her, she didn’t really care!

I also talked to my dad; he laughed and said "your mother never made anything easy. Both you and your sister were born in the middle of the worst snow storms in history."  What about your grandparents? Your birth was also their special event. When did they first get to see you, what presents did they bring? I called my grandparents, they cried. I was the first grandchild. I wish I had some videos.
My friend Mary celebrates her dog’s (Basil) birthday by giving him a party in the park with his dog friends and their parents. She orders dog biscuits and pizza, take your pick. Basil gets to dress up and Mary gets to throw a party—any excuse. It’s actually quite an event, Basil has about 20 friends and he looks cute with his balloons tied to his collar. I used to celebrate my cat Maguai’s birthday; she used to walk on a leash but wasn’t friendly with the dogs in the park and we never found any cat friends.
Some people name their cars/trucks and celebrate their birthdays. Some people celebrate their home’s birthday. Some celebrate the birth of the house and the death of the mortgage.

Maybe you’re adopted and have two sets of parents to thank. You can’t have too much love.
How about your business? Do you celebrate its birth and all the hard work you put into keeping it alive?

Every day I think, what can I give thanks for, what can I celebrate? I have two new kittens and have given them birthdates so we can celebrate. Spring is worth celebrating and so is the sun. How about to be alive and celebrate the day? If you’ve ever been really sick, you know what I mean.

I went to a workshop and they had us build a life chart on graph paper. The chart represented a carnival and the years used were considered rides. We were asked to chart our life from year one to the date of our probable death.. We then colored in the “rides” already taken and to compare them with the ones left. I used hot pink for the rides I had already enjoyed and left the others blank. Scary, there were fewer rides for the future. How many rides do you have left?

How many seasons do you have left to enjoy, how many vacations will you take?

Let your birthday be the reminder of who you are and those you love the most. Italian food and a movie with my friends suit me just fine. Hey enjoy the rides. Thank you all for the wonderful notes, cards and telephone calls. Today’s the day to thank you all for your support throughout the years. I’m so lucky to have you in my life. I love you all.

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By |2010-03-14T15:11:51+00:00March 14th, 2010|fun, general|1 Comment