Plan for working at home

Working a full-time job I usually get home and find my motivation drained and I wind up spending the rest of my afternoon and evening doing nothing to improve my situation. I just can’t seem to plug my work ethic into my spare time.

I thought about how I can run a business from home. On the clock I do great. I clearly define a task and work hard at it until it is completed. Then it’s on to the next. It’s all a series of tasks and sticking to one at a time. The hard thing at work is when I’m not sure about something and I can’t move forward until that gets cleared up.

The boss has the knowledge and authority to help me out when that happens. He can make executive decisions or talk to the right people to get things clarified or changed. In my own business I need to be the man to talk to. I need to come up with specific job descriptions so I can see what exactly I am going to do in the amount of time I have. I need to specify what tasks need to be done.

Sometimes its a matter of pushing through rough spots. At work I find times when the task is a real drag. I’d like to just move on to something else, but there will be consequences so I just have to keep going. At home I usually stop when it starts to drag. There is no immediate consequence besides feelings of failure and inadequacy. No big deal. What I need to do is act as though I am going to a second job. I clock in, work part time hours and clock out when I’m done, and not a second before. That way I will be on someone else’s time, I’ll be working for myself.

I can tell people I have a second job. Is it a lie? No, unless I don’t perform. I have to treat myself like a boss. I must think of myself as a separate entity, someone to return and report to at the end of the day or week.

At this job I will be boss, supervisor, and underling. I’ll have the flexibility of experiencing every role. I can dictate my own wage, and know just how much I am capable of making. If I want a day off I’ll know exactly how it will affect my business and whether or not I can afford to take time off.

This job can be an excuse to not do things, go places, or deal with people I don’t want to. I can say that I have to work, or that I don’t have that day off. I can say that I have to get up early tomorrow morning for work, so I can’t stay very long.

Will I be able to be productive on the job? Well, I’ll have to figure out what tasks need to be done to be profitable. When I am feeling motivated I can make plans and move things forward. When I feel like just going through the motions I will have specific tasks to accomplish so I can just put the time in and know that I have done the business good.

10 Small Things

I don’t know of one big secret to becoming financially independent. Here are 10 little things I can do.

1. Maintain a steady source of income
2. Make sure your income is greater than your expenses
3. Save a portion of everything you earn
4. Minimize necessary spending
5. Cut out unnecessary spending
6. Work smarter, not harder
7. Make your money work for you
8. Increase your income (get a raise, add an income stream, find a better paying job)
9. Develop an emergency fund
10. Give back

These seem simple enough, but realizing them is a bit harder. To make things even more manageable I will break them down again.

1. Maintain a steady stream of income
– Find a day job
– Keep a day job
– Make yourself more valuable within that job

2. Make sure your income is greater than your expenses
– List all your expenditures over the last month or two
– Figure out whether you are living within your means
– Write down each necessary item on one list and save for step 4
– Write down each unnecessary item on another list and save for step 5

3. Save a portion of everything you earn
– Find out how much of your income goes towards fixed expenses
– Pick a percentage of what is left
– Set that much aside every time you get paid
– Leave that money alone

4. Minimize necessary spending
– Look at list of necessaries
– Seek a discount or cheaper alternative for each
– Decide whether it is really a necessary expenditure
– When you are about to acquire a new expense (internet, car, longer commute, etc.) restart this process.

5.Cut unnecessary spending
– Look at your list of unnecessary items
– Keep it handy
– When you feel the urge to spend money on something, check to see if it is on the list
– If it is not on the list, decide whether it belongs there or on your other list
– If it is on the list, don’t spend the money

6. Work smarter, not harder
– Keep your work space clean and organized
– Sharpen the saw (take care of yourself and your equipment)
– Eliminate distractions
– Get enough sleep to function properly
– Seek additional education and training
– Take breaks to avoid burn out

7. Make your money work for you
– Try to buy things that won’t lose their value
– Buy things that will appreciate in value
– Add to your career education and training
– Learn a new skill
– Get a savings account with higher interest

8. Increase your income
– Ask for a raise
– Add an income stream
– Find a better paying job

9. Develop an emergency fund
– Figure out how much you would need to function for one month with no income
– Start saving a portion of your income until you have one month’s expenses in reserve
– When you have one month saved, go for six months
– Have at least $500 set aside for car trouble, preferably $1,000
– Keep it in cash

10. Give back
– Recognize how lucky you are to be where you are and have what you have, even if it isn’t much
– Help someone out of a bind
– Pay for someone’s lunch
– Gas up someone’s car
– Help someone find gainful employment
– Teach a man to fish

Paper Work

Determined to do things right the first time, I walked into the city hall to get a business license. A nice lady handed me a form and instructed me that I needed to register online in the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code and then fill out the municipal form and hand it in to be considered/rehashed. I would then be told, in two or more weeks, if my application had been accepted. Then it would cost about $75 for the license. The reason for the state of our economy became a little clearer that day. I’d imagined that I would have the form done and handed in by later that day. Actually it took me a couple of days just to get the online registration figured out. I had to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) before even starting that process.

I had to learn about the different business organizations, and discern which applied to me. This all probably sounds amusing to those who have done business for years or have been to business school, but most of this I learned as I figured out what to put on the forms.

For those who are just as ignorant as I, someday I’ll write my understanding of each business organization (with a link to the real definitions). As I delve into this maze of policies and regulations I’ll try to keep checking in here, that those who come after might have a reference of what they need to do (or not do) to get their business off the ground.

Sometimes you just need to step back and remind yourself that it’s possible, that others have done it, and that you have what it takes to make it happen if you just apply yourself and don’t let the thick of things sap your strength. In football they taught us to keep our feet moving and chopping with such intensity that our opponents would hesitate to grab hold of us, and if they did then we might break their grip. If we were doing the tackling then we needed to have so much power behind us that grip didn’t matter. Nothing is more exhausting than paper work.

—Post Ideas—

  1. Thrift ideas and paradigms from The Tightwad Gazette
  2. Study the scriptures for teachings found on value, wealth and finances.
  3. starting a business,
  4. getting the paperwork out-of-the-way, 5 most commonly used business organizations, taxes, municipal licensing, and all that comes with it.
  5. a typical bid
  6. capital, and buying equipment for the job
  7. on the job
  8. Employees

Pounding the Pavement

On a Saturday I had nothing going on but a fire in my bones to move forward and accomplish something. Instead of sitting down with pen and page to plot business ideas I decided to get out and try.

I chose window cleaning for several reasons. Firstly, a cousin of mine had a similar business and it had worked out pretty well for him and his friends. Second, it requires much less capital than most ideas I had kicking around in my head. Then, I have had a bit of experience from working for a janitorial service. Also, heights don’t bother me like they do many people.

So 8:00 Saturday morning I took off for main street. I was nervous but determined. Doing my best impression of Gregory Peck, I strode up to a hardware store. The first thing I did was buy myself a tape measure to help me get an estimate on prospective jobs. I bought the tape and then asked the employee if they would like to get their windows cleaned. The first thing I learned is that the manager makes those kinds of decisions. I also learned that most managers don’t work on Saturdays. Call back on Monday.

I went on to enter another 20 stores and businesses, offering window cleaning services. I learned several more things before I decided I’d had enough. Most businesses don’t open until 9 or 10:00 on Saturdays, and some don’t even open. Mondays are the best time to find managers at work. A business card is very convenient (though I’m glad I could work out some bugs before setting my offer in stone). Most people will want your card to call if they decide they want you. It is good to ask for referrals from everyone and anyone.

Everyone I met was very nice and polite, but, en fin I had contacted about 30 people and still didn’t have any work.

I noticed a couple of buildings that really needed cleaning up on the exterior but they were empty and up for sale or lease. Then I had the idea to call the real estate agency and see if they would let me bid on some of their buildings around town. If I could land a job like that I would be plenty busy and then I’d be able to show the locals my work. I called a couple different agencies and one accepted to let me bid on a building. Though I still didn’t have anything definite, that was enough to keep me from scrapping the endeavor. I felt like that was a decent start and rewarded myself with a doughnut. The bakery took my number but said they already had a regular cleaning.

I kept hearing that a guy came by regularly to wash everyone’s windows and that the guy was handicapped. One employee mentioned that he knew the man and said that he was considering quitting the profession. This was some interesting news. News that just might define the fate of my business. Had I given up after the first few establishments I wouldn’t have learned this valuable insight. It was like one of those omens mentioned in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Woe To The Unjust

Just as Six Element expanded on Isaiah’s words, I wish to flesh it out a bit more. When we work for money we look at wages and basically try to do the least for the most, or try to become a scarce commodity like a doctor or a good mechanic, and wages are what we get. But when we work for others – not necessarily as an employee, but seek to add value to others, or make life better for them – we will never find ourselves wanting. Being valuable for what you do is one thing, being valuable for how you do it is irreplaceable.

How much am I worth if my money disappears? Keeping this question in mind might be the most important thing you can do to prepare for economic downturn.


The Six Element

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.  What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar?  To whom will you run for help?  Where will you leave your riches?”                                                                                                 – Isaiah 10:1-3 –

What do you trust to save you when hard times come?  The things you have amassed in times of plenty, or people?  The answer to that question can say a lot about the way you treat people in your workplace.

We all know this to be true on some level, but it bears repeating – people are more important than money and power.

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Becoming Valuable

There is a law known as the law of the harvest. I cannot break that law. I can’t reap that which I haven’t sown.  There is no shortcut through it.  Any shortcut that exists leads straight to fraud or disappointment. How, then, am I going to sow one hundred thousand dollars worth of value, to be reaped within 600 days? Putting it this way kind of wet-blankets such ambition. But I know there is a way.

Apparently, at this point I’m not worth much to the marketplace. I have sold my time and effort for up to 10 dollars an hour (give or take) for a long time. Up ’til now I thought that was a pretty good deal. But that isn’t going to reach my goal. Not for a good ten years, assuming that my expenses were to stay the same for ten years and inflation didn’t exist.

How do I increase my value?

The standard method is to get an education, specialize in something, be the expert whose advice or know-how is in demand. Others build a business which fills a need so well that society pays it to exist.

I don’t know much of anything, and the only use society has for my existence is to take up space where convenient (a.k.a., manual labor).

But even if i don’t go out and build a successful business I can increase my value by giving greater value to the market with which I am familiar.

So if I were to go back to working as a welder’s assistant I could increase my value by better anticipating the welder’s needs. I could talk to him more, making sure I am on board with the objectives, seeking out tasks that need doing and doing them without having to be asked. On the other hand one shouldn’t get ahead of things and get the welder in a bind. That would be the point of diminishing returns. I can see though how this mindset would make the job more engaging and exciting. You’re not just putting in time and looking busy, but anxiously engaging yourself to build your value and brand yourself as a hardworking, intuitive,and irreplaceable employee.

Though I’m afraid that by doing this I would only gain job security, instead of a raise. Which would be great if that were the aim. But jobs like that are a dime a dozen, I don’t need to worry too much about job security at that level.

Not to shortchange myself I don’t believe that I was ever really satisfied with a slipshod job in the first place, but I know that there is room for improvement. It can be hard to maintain the correct perspective.