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Tools for Creating the Life You Want!

Create an Ace in the Hole
A Small, Low Risk Home Based Business
by Marc Eisenson

Once upon a time, hard work, dedication to the company, and/or a strong union guaranteed your job for life. Today, it's far more prudent to assume that sooner or later, you and your job will part company (if you haven't already).

When that occurs, will you feel victimized, depressed, and desperate? Or will you be ready to seize the opportunity for a great new beginning? Your choice.

It is our firm belief,and long term experience, that developing and maintaining a teeny, tiny business of your own, what we call an Ace in the Hole, is the best investment you can make for your family's future.

You can create your own Ace, almost painlessly, with very little money, with virtually no financial risk, and in far less than the 25 hours a week typical Americans spend being boobs-in-front-of-the-tube.

You don't need to burn any bridges, mortgage the farm, quit your job, hire attorneys and accountants, or invent a better mousetrap.You just need to pick a reasonable path, take a few well calculated, very low risk steps, and let your Ace grow slowly. Along the way, you'll get two bonuses:

So why isn't there a business booming on every kitchen table? Despite its reputation as "The Land of Opportunity," you probably believe that starting a business here is so costly, risky, and regulated, that you'd be nuts to try. Nonsense! Allow us to demystify the process:

1. Start now. Begin by simply giving the possibility of creating an Ace in the Hole some serious consideration. Our friend Al Lococo always dreamed of retiring into his own business, and gave the notion a lot of thought. Eventually, Al came to believe that he really could be his own boss. So, about 18 months ago, he got permission from his employer to moonlight in a non-competitive computer business.

Though he could have waited, Al soon filed his chosen business name at the county courthouse, opened a business checking account, registered with the state sales tax people, and converted one room of his house into a workshop/office. His total investment was pocket change, but Al's Ace was in place, and public.

The next steps were equally painless.

2. Find a niche.Your journey to entrepreneurial glory can't begin until you have a product or service that people will happily pay you to provide. Do you already know what your Ace will be? Great. But don't rush to place a full page ad in the newspaper, just yet.

If inspiration hasn't struck, there are lots of ways to find your niche. For example, skim through the yellow pages, scan the classified ads in newspapers, walk down Main Street, or through a mall. Pay attention to how others are making a living on their own, and tune in whenever you hear, "I wish there were someone I could call to ... ."

Then, make a list of things you know how to do. Really! Be serious, be silly, be creative, but fill up at least a page.

3. Listen to your gut. Put a star next to a few things on your list that you'd enjoy doing. Then pick one to try.

Although Al could have easily parlayed his love of old cars, for example, into a perfectly reasonable business, he wisely decided to build on his love of computers.

4. Here's the key to developing a successful business: Focus on something you'll find interesting, exciting, and meaningful. Something worth crawling out of bed to do, day after day. Your Ace may be unique, but it doesn't have to be.

While there's a benefit to doing something better, cheaper, faster, or with a dazzlingly brilliant twist, the only requirement is that you serve a real need at a fair price. There really are very few new ideas under the sun.

5. Stop to look and listen. Talk to everyone you know about your idea, but don't take everything you hear to heart. You'll get good advice, helpful insights, and a hefty dose of discouragement. Still, great ideas lurk in strange places, and disclose themselves when least expected.

Al initially decided to transfer his computer expertise into a desktop publishing business, which he named "Viable Visuals." But, because he was flexible, and open to opportunity, Al soon found a more appropriate niche.

He happened to mention his new business venture to his gastroenterologist, while undergoing a colonoscopy, of all things. Caught with his pants down, so to speak, Al was asked the perfectly reasonable question, "Do you know anything about desktop publishing?"

      "A little ... not much," he admitted.

Then the doctor said, "I'd like to hire someone to make monthly backups of the data on my computer's hard drive, and to check my PC for viruses."

By the time Al's pants were back on, he'd found a great service he could provide to local doctors ... and other small businesses, including ours. He also received a clean bill of health and acquired his first paying customer. (We love the idea of Al diagnosing and curing viruses for doctors!)

6. Slow and steady still wins most races. Set your sights on developing a modest backup source of income, not on creating a new corporate empire. Micro-mini businesses expose you to micro-mini risks.

Since Al enjoyed, and could keep his full-time job, he was in an ideal position to start small, while he slowly and steadily nurtured and focused his business. Then, when Al was offered a generous, early retirement package, after 28 years on the job, he was ready. Now he's working at his Ace full-time, and loving it.

Remember: Rarely is it the fancy stationery, high rent, excess staff, expensive advertising, state-of-the-art equipment, or high priced consultants that insure success. Don't construct and equip a modern factory, before you've sold an awful lot of widgets.

7. What's more valuable than money? Experience and moral support, to name two. Al got important experience by generously providing us with free advice, usually including "house calls," as we upgraded our computers, discovered various hardware and software ailments, and needed virus protection of our own.

As soon as he let us, we happily became paying clients, and we'd like to think, two of Al's biggest boosters. His service is a real blessing for us, so it's in our interest to help him succeed. You want people to feel that way about you, too, which they probably will, if they were there at the beginning, helping you perfect your Ace.

As Al is discovering, word of mouth is the best advertisement. But it takes time to get the word out. So the smaller you can afford to start, the more time you'll have to develop all the business you need, before you need more of it.

8. There's a lot in a name. Take your time picking out a name and logo. Al's desktop publishing career was history, before he typeset his first flyer, but not before he picked his business name and printed his stationery. We believe that Viable Visuals might have worked for desktop publishing, but it doesn't come close to describing the computer backups, upgrades, trouble-shooting, and virus protection services Al's actually providing.

The last handicap any business needs is a bad name.

9. If at first you don't succeed ... The nice thing about a really tiny business is the ease with which you can change direction, purpose, or speed. So don't hold on to an idea that turns out not to work. Try another. Eventually, one idea (or more) will be right for you.

Al thought desktop publishing would be his ticket to a smooth passage from the corporate world to his dream of self-employment. Fortunately, he wasn't afraid to alter his course. We've certainly done it often, ourselves.

10. Perseverance pays off. If you keep at it, regularly putting in some time and energy, you'll come up with an Ace that will make you money, give you tax breaks, and protect you from the vagaries of our economy.

One Last Thought
New adventures add to the excitement of life and keep us from growing stale. Starting your own business can be wonderfully exhilarating, especially if you believe that it's not whether you make it big that matters, but whether you make it fun, or meaningful.

The Pocket Change Investor
The Secrets to Getting Ahead -- Even If You Have a Pile of Credit Card Bills, Hefty Mortgage Payments,
Loans Out on a Clunker or Two, & a Bad Case of the "I'm Tired of Living Payday to Payday" Blues.

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