Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Not Completely Retired? 8 Tips for Working From Home

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what actually “counts” as being retired. Obviously, times have changed, and “retirement” is looking a great deal different than it did during my parents’ time. In reinventing ourselves on the Voyage, hubs and I decided to start our own business, partly because we wanted the additional income stream, but also because we enjoy the creativity and opportunities we’ve discovered. Hubs will remind you that Frank Lloyd Wright did not actually hit his stride until he was 70 years old!

But we don’t pay for the overhead of an outside office space and instead, we work out of our home. In living and working together 24/7, let’s just say we’ve learned a few things as they relate to working from home. You might find these tips helpful:

1. Keep a workday schedule – If you want to operate a business, you need to treat it as you would a business outside of the home. Hubs gets up every morning, showers and is in his office generally before 7:00 AM. He recognizes that business is taking place out there, even across time zones, and he wants to be at his computer and participating in it!

2. Dress for the job – It’s a mindset. No, really it is. Hubs may start the day in khaki pants and a polo, change into jeans and a t-shirt to mow the lawn later in the day, then change back into “work clothes” when he returns to his office. Now I will admit that I’ve done some paperwork in my jammies, and occasionally I’m barefoot – but as a rule, we respect our business enough to dress the part.

3. Have a “space” dedicated to doing business – Perhaps it’s an office, maybe it’s a desk or even a table in a corner. The point is, it’s a space that is way different than sitting on the couch or recliner. It’s pretty darned easy to get distracted away from the task at hand if that TV flipper is too close! Wherever that space is, it needs to be functional for the demands of the job, with easy access to whatever materials and resources are necessary.

4. Professionalism on the phone is important – This was sort of weird for us at first, as we both use our personal cell phones. Decide, in advance, how you will answer your phone to take business calls or to answer numbers which are unknown. Your business persona is most likely quite different than the way you answer calls from your mom! In some cases, you may want a phone and dedicated line specifically for business. Either way, the current state of cellular technology has convinced us that “the world is flat” and that we can conduct business from nearly anywhere that we have a cell signal!

5. It helps to have a “hotspot.” – We’ve found that having a Wi-Fi hotspot, separate from our phones, has allowed us to have secure internet connection no matter where we travel. When we have traveled out of the country, we have put the hotspot on the international plan with our provider, allowing us to hook up as many as 5 different devices on the road.

6. Be aware of background noise – There is nothing that will make a business seem more questionable than a barking dog or a crying baby in the background! Do you want to do business with someone when you can hear the sounds of “Days of Our Lives” in the background? Didn’t think so…

7. Have a place to meet “clients” – Do you want to have clients come to your home? Early on, we laughed at having “Conference Room East” and “Conference Room West” – coffee shops on both sides of town where we would offer to meet and buy coffee for potential business associates. We also have several professional partners who have offered to let us use their business conference rooms when needed. Some cities have “incubator spaces” where a conference room could be rented on an as-needed basis. Once, when needing to meet with a members of a visiting out of town architectural firm, we had to scramble to find a professional place to meet! It would have been helpful to have a plan up front!

8. Know how to communicate, “I’m Working!” – This has been one of the trickier aspects of the Voyage, and while every instance will be personal, it is fairly universal for those working from home. It is easy for well-intentioned friends and family to believe that you should be able to set business pursuits aside in favor of other activities. “What do you mean you can’t go shopping this afternoon??? Can’t you just do that later?” It can be difficult to explain that while being your own boss does allow for some flexibility, business often must come first!

On the Encore Voyage, we claim to be one-third Frank Lloyd Wright, one-third Warren Buffet, and one-third Jimmy Buffet. We spend quite a bit of time on the Frank Lloyd portion of this gig…it’s not all Jimmy having cheeseburgers in paradise. And while we absolutely love being in charge of every day, stretching our entrepreneurial wings, working from home has been an interesting part of the journey. So how about it…any other tips you’d like to add? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!

Lynn

Photo credit: Bench Accounting – Unsplash

Our Encore Career – 10 Steps to Success

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to us, “I want to do what you guys did!”, we could retire all over again!  If you have read our history, then you know that we sort of got thrown into the voyage head first.  Even so, there are some things we learned along the way that we can share.  So if you are feeling crushed by your current job, and want to start your own Encore Career, here are some things that you might find helpful.

 1.  Have some sort of savings in place.  That’s right – If you are going to strike out on your own, you need a bit of a safety cushion to cover the cost of day to day expenses for a few months while you get things off the ground.  I’m not talking about your retirement account! Do Not Ever steal from an IRA, even if you think you’ll pay it back!  It’s highly unlikely you ever will!  I’m not talking about a business loan.  It may be the case that you will secure a business loan to get your ideas off the ground – but you need some funds to sustain you outside of business expenses, at least for a little while.

2.  Find your passion.  I asked hubs what his dream job would be if he could choose.  Figure out what the thing is that you would like to do every day, even if it didn’t make you a dime…then figure out a way to make money doing that!  The whole point of the Encore Voyage is not just to be self-employed, but to be on a soul fulfilling journey!  Decide what you want your dream life to look like.

The voice inside

3.  Create an SOQ – A Statement of Qualifications.  It’s where you sit down and write out all of the marketable skills you have that you wish to promote. What are those things you do particularly well?  What goods do you have to sell?  Here is where you showcase your talents and abilities, and describe them in a nice format.

4.  Determine some short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.  Where do you want to be in 6 months, a year, or even five years? How will you know if this voyage is working for you?  Yes, not starving is a good indicator, but it shouldn’t be the only one!  It should be observable and measurable.

5.  Establish your business identity. What will you call yourself?  How will you explain what it is that you do? Will you have a logo? A business name and website?  Do you need/want to register your business with your state? Do you need to establish a separate business banking account? These were all the nagging little details that made the voyage seem scary and intimidating at first.

6.  Establish a fee structure. Do some research to determine the going rates for services or products similar to yours, and to determine what the market will bear.  Get an idea firmly written down of what you will charge for your services or goods.

7.  Take as many steps as possible to minimize business debt at first. Just because you start “a business” does not mean you can take a trip and call it a business expense!  You still need to consider profit and loss.  Hubs and I have very little overhead, because we work from our home, and have no other employees.  We are careful to keep control of our costs.

8.  Keep excellent records. It has taken us a couple of years to wrap our arms around the record keeping.  From costs related to each job, to keeping receipts and filing, you need to be able to see the bottom line quickly and clearly.

9.  Network and advertise yourself.  I think this was the thing that sets Jeremy apart from many others. He has a huge network of people he has met during the years, and I don’t believe he ever burned a bridge!  He started smilin’ and dialin’ – letting people know what he was up to, what he was wanting to do, and what he could possibly do for them.  Sometimes he met colleagues for coffee.  He took others to lunch.  He attended meetings of professional organizations and actively sought out places where he could make an impact.  From helping others to volunteering, the idea is to stay in front of potential clients.  This is not the time to adopt the notion that, “I’m good at what I do, so people will come to me.”  We’ve known several fellow voyagers who followed this course, and have sunk!

10.  Don’t. Stop. Moving.  To be successful on the Encore, you need to have some hustle!  Those who fail are the ones with an “I’ll do it later” attitude.  If you believe that you can do this with a TV flipper in your hand, you are sadly mistaken. Success is not easy…and it is certainly not for the lazy!

Being an entrepreneur

I know what you are thinking…You’re saying, “Wait…I thought you guys were retired!!”  Well, we are…sort of.  We are designing a life doing exactly what we want to do, when we want to do it, where we want to do it, and with whom we want to do it!   All of the steps above sound like crazy hard work, and initially, they were frightening, and nerve wracking. That said, the end result is that

We get to decide what to make of each day!

And as we’ve become more comfortable on the voyage, we often look at each other and say,

“Dang…This is a really sweet gig we’ve got going here!”

Here’s to hoping that you, too, can end up with a “sweet gig!”

Lynn

Photo credit: Sergey Zolkin – Unsplash