I’d love to believe I’m not alone in frequently waiting until the eleventh hour to make or purchase the perfect gift. It’s not that I don’t think about it ahead of time. It’s just that tomorrow is always here before I expect it. (that alone is a topic for a future post.) So, for those of you who haven’t yet crafted or purchased a gift for mom, or even if you have but haven’t wrapped or carded, let’s look at some ideas for giving mom a sustainable gift.
If you are efficient and have mom’s gift wrapped and shipped, these ideas work birthdays and other occasions for green giving.
I’m sad when I see those piles of wrapping paper, boxes and ribbon that are part of most holidays, birthdays, bridal or baby showers, and disappointed that so few people even notice. I made a commitment last holiday season to only give something that had been recycled or could be recycled and to only use for wrapping material that is used or can be used. There are of course lots of organic, recycled and earth friendly gifts on the market and there are some simple eco-conscious steps each of us can take in gift giving.
Those of us who love paper have difficulty sending e-cards and e-gift certificates, and some of our mother’s are not web savvy. My mom loves books and I used to send her gift certificates to a bookstore when she could get out and about. (she has started using the library now that they deliver, but she has to wait so long for new books.) It’s difficult to get Mom to appreciate or understand recycling when she’s always associated “used” with “can’t afford new” rather than earth-friendly. I’d considered giving my mom a Kindle both to cut down on paper waste and for the “instant gratification” factor of “get it now”. But the idea of teaching my eighty-three year old mother to use a Kindle is daunting-she still struggles with voice-mail. So, I do still buy her books but ask her to pass them on to her freinds after she has read them. That way, I know they won’t end up in a landfill. I’ve started always including a handcrafted re-purposed bookmark. Last December, I noticed how many boxes of Kleenex we go through and found they were the perfect weight cardboard to make book marks. Now, when I stand at the recycle been at the post office, rather than dump all the catalogs I receive, I keep the ones that have cool patterns or graphics to make cards.
If you’ve already made or purchased a gift, consider making the wrapping part of the gift. Is there a scarf you have that your mom’s admired? Do you have a tea towel or apron that she’d enjoy? Wrap her gift with them. Are there pieces of hand dyed silk or handmade paper that you haven’t used for a project? She’d appreciate it more than commercial wrapping paper and could then use it for her own project is she’s crafty.
I’d love to hear about the earth- friendly crafts you’ve made for your mom or the eco-conscious way you’ve packaged her gift. Please post and share your green genius with all of us.
Think you need an MBA to start a business? Here are 6 less costly, more relevant, more fun alternatives
Recently I read a statistic that shouldn’t have surprised me but did. As many as 90% of MBA students plan to work in corporate jobs after graduation. What? Only 10% intend to start their own businesses? Shocking, right?
Not really. Because you see, business school doesn’t prepare you to start a business. It teaches you theory and vocabulary. If you want to climb the ladder and become a corporate VP or CEO, you’ll probably need the credentials. In fact, a CNN.com article early this week claimed that even in a tight economy, 93% of 2010 MBA grads were EMPLOYED earning a median salary of $94,542, with their additional median bonus compensation of $17,565. Note the word “EMPLOYED”. I found the title “Is an MBA worth it for the entrepreneur?” ironic because the article weighs how quickly MBAs climb the corporate ladder, not how fast they hit six figures in self-employment.
We all know about the tech start-ups that began in dorm rooms or garages by college drop outs. But it’s not just high tech companies that have their roots outside of business school. In fact, several years ago, I was having brunch with a group of competitors in the furniture business when the discussion turned to where we’d gone to college and what we’d majored in. We were all earning at least high six figures at the time and some were well above the million mark. We ranged from a PhD in Pschology, a BA in Theatre, to freshman year drop-outs but not one of us had done even an undergrad in business. I wonder if any of us would have started our businesses if we’d spent the time and money to get MBAs. Probably not because we’d have left school with lots of theory, no practical experience and gobs of debt. I’m not trying to discouraging anyone from going to college. It’s a valuable experience and I hope to continue taking courses the rest of my life. But, if you want to start a business, not become a corporate employee, an MBA is probably not going to be the best route. Let me suggest a few less costly and more fun alternatives.
-If you know the field you want to pursue, go to work for someone who has a complimentary business. If they can’t afford to pay you, offer to apprentice. Yes, for free if need be. Remember this is YOUR MBA and you’re not paying $150,000 for it. Be a detective. Listen to the customers. What’s missing? Look for what you could do to better meet the needs of the clientele.
-Travel. Things you observe in different cultures can definitely spark a BIG idea. But if you can’t afford or don’t have the desire to back-pack around the world, just get in your car, hop a train or, as my son did at 18, buy an unlimited Greyhound pass and get what I call a “street view” of your own country. Visit big cities and rural areas. Talk to people in small towns. Not just shop-keepers, although you’ll learn a lot. Interview people. Find out what’s missing in their lives. Something you hear from a stranger could set your creative cogs turning and inspire your entrepreneurial spirit.
-Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don’t worry that your curiosity will be seen as nosey. (The only person who ever gets annoyed with and embarrassed by my “interrogations” is my sister, who thinks all entrepreneurs are pushy and she’ll always be an employee.) Most owners will be flattered that you’re interested enough to ask questions about their business.
-Read. Read. Read. Not just traditional business books and trade journals. Read biographies of entrepreneurs you admire. Read magazines about anything that interests you. You might be flipping through a home or garden magazine and suddenly get inspired to start a fireplace business, design indoor fountains or custom garden gates.
-Go to trade shows. In most states, you can secure a resale license without incurring much cost. That and a business card should allow you entrance to all but the most elite trade shows. Attend shows in your own area of interest but also complementary industries. Make notes of trends and costs and of course, talk to people. Talk to buyers over lunch and vendors when they aren’t busy. Of course, be cognizant of their purpose and don’t keep them from customers but try to connect with them after hours. If you meet someone whose business is similar to the one you want to start but in a different geographical area, ask them to mentor you. Expect to pay them well for their time and expertise. Remember: this is you MBA.
-Surround yourself with entrepreneurs. We’re a curious, enthusiastic, optimistic and innovative bunch. It’s contagious.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is “what’s the best time to start a business?”.
While there’s no simple answer because everyone’s circumstances are different, there are certain factors that apply to every aspiring entrepreneur’s timing.
It’s a good time to start a business if:
-You are tired of working to make someone else successful. If you’ve been in a situation to solve problems for your employer, imagine what you could do if you put that energy into your own business.
-You’re holding onto your job mainly for security. Forget it. Sorry, but there’s no such thing. You know that boss who finds you so vital to his business? Well, you are only that important until you aren’t, which can happen in a flash and what you did in the past for him won’t matter a bit if he either can’t afford you or doesn’t need you right now. While you still have that job is a great time to start your own business on the side so you’ll be prepared should you be laid off. Best case scenario is you’re up and running, making money and you can quit your job to focus full time on your own business.
-You’ve been laid off. I know people who have spent a year or more looking for work. Some have found jobs but there’s no guarantee they’ll be long term. Others are still looking. Imagine if they’d spent that year starting their own business. They’d have job security and control of their income and benefits. And the best boss ever.
-You’ve had this business idea for awhile and you can’t get it out of your head. Even when you try to convince yourself you should hang onto your job because you are lucky to have one, that business idea keeps boomeranging back. You know the world will be missing something important if you don’t do that thing you are obsessed with.
So what’s holding you back? Perceived job security? Fear? Overwhelm? If it’s timing, consider this: Birthing a business is like getting pregnant. If we waited for the perfect timing, many of us would be childless. I’m sure glad I didn’t wait until every single area of my life was in absolute order before deciding to have a baby or my wonderful son would never have been born. Nor would any of my businesses.
You’re reading this article -yes, YOU, and you read articles like this all the time. You obviously want to start your own business. You can wait until your kids are grown, your house is paid off, the economy picks up, you’re thinner and the stars are in perfect alignment but you know what? None of those factors will guarantee you’ll be any more successful. Fortunes are made in good economic times and during recessions. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and ages and the only thing that really matters about the timing is that you are finally determined to make it a success.
So, my answer: NOW is the best time. Go for it. NOW. Because you can convince yourself you face all these risks but the biggest risk is the REGRET you’ll feel if you don’t even give it a try.
If you really, really want to do this, which you obviously do, join Barbara Winter and me at the Obstacle Buster Mastermind in May. We’ll pull the plug on excuses and roadblocks and help you make it happen NOW. HERE’S THE SCOOP.
You have some great ideas for a business and maybe you’ve taken some first steps to get it going but suddenly you are spinning in place because you’re overwhelmed by too much information and not knowing where to begin so you do nothing.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. That feeling of overwhelm is one of the main reasons I hear fledgling entrepreneurs give for not moving forward in their dreams of self-employment.
Are you feeling like there’s just so much to do and so much to learn, you can’t keep up with all the new information? Every time you open your email inbox, there’s an invite to a tele-class about something you absolutely must learn in order to make your business succeed. If overwhelm is keeping you from either launching or growing your business, here are a few recommendations to help you get unstuck and get moving forward.
-Limit the time you spend on social media. Stop concerning yourself with what everyone else is doing and focus on what YOU can do with your own business.
-Accept that you are not going to stay on top of each and every new change in online marketing. You can spread yourself so thin trying to learn every new platform that you do none effectively. Just start with what you know and once your business is growing, gradually take a bit of time each day to learn something new.
-A good rule of thumb is to spend more time on output than input. It’s easy to let the time get away from you when you subscribe to too many e-newsletters. Pick two or three that resonate with you and unsubscribe to the rest. I know, it’s hard because you feel like you don’t want to miss anything but if you don’t limit your input, you’ll spend more time reading and less time doing and you’ll never get your business going.
-Think baby-steps. Commit to take one small action a day. You’ll get a lot closer to your goal if you do one tiny step a day than if you wait until you have time to do it all.
-Hire a mentor or a coach to keep you focused and on track but be careful who you listen to! Everyone claims to be a “coach” and while there are some wonderful mentors out there, there are a lot more who are teaching what they’ve never done themselves. Those programs that certify coaches do not require someone to have had their own successful business to be a business coach. If you choose to work with a coach or mentor, ignore their “certification” and find someone who has successfully started and run businesses other than coaching.
-Join a mastermind group. Being part of an entrepreneurs mastermind is like having an advisory board for your business and a support group for your dreams. Many mastermind groups charge tens of thousands of dollars for monthly group calls and one or two in-person meetings but you don’t have to pay that kind of money to benefit from a mastermind group. You could start your own group of like-minded entrepreneurs but it’s been proven that a mastermind group with a facilitator is more effective.
If you’d like the ongoing support of a group, join Barbara Winter, best-selling author or “Making a Living without a Job” and me in Denver for the Second Obstacle-Buster Mastermind. Find out more about it HERE.
2 Important Reasons to get excited about April 15th if you are an entrepreneur or aspiring small business owner
- As an entrepreneur, you get to deduct your travel, cell phone bill, internet, computer, i-pad, business books, trade publications, a portion of the utilities and rent or mortgage on your home office and other expenses that you would incur anyway but if you are an employee, your boss takes the deduction. Each April 15th, I am reminded of how much I would have to earn as an employee to pay all those expenses that my business covers. Do the math-you’ll be surprised.
- The other reason to pay attention to April 15th is that it is the LAST DAY to take advantage of the Early Bird Special for the Obstacle-Buster Mastermind. Best-selling author , Barbara Winter of “Making a Living without a Job” and I are excited to again share this life-changing experience with those of you who are ready to work around the stumbling blocks that have been holding you back from creating your ideal livelihood. We’ll spend two and a half days addressing your BIG ideas and put our heads together to find solutions and guide you over the hurdles so that you can finally make it happen NOW. Read what attendees from the last Obstacle-Buster Mastermind had to say and find out more HERE