Friday, May 29, 2015

How Can I Help My Son Who Was Just Released from Prison?

May 29, 2015

Dear Cathy:

My son was just released from prison for a non-violent crime after 10 years and he can’t find a job and in some cases can’t get a business license for some businesses.  What kind of business do you recommend for him?  Helping Son Move Forward, Alabama

Dear Helping Son Move Forward:

The system is not set up to really help anyone when they get out of jail.  There are several non-profits out there that say they help prisoners get acquainted with society again but they are overwhelmed and unorganized and many don’t follow their own mission statements.

The only way for many of these prisoners to move forward after prison is to start businesses with or work for a relative so former prisoners will have to be progressive in pursuing potential job and business opportunities. 

The minute former prisoners put down on a job application that they are a felon, many companies will not hire them.  With all these odds against them, many former prisoners commit crimes just to go back to prison because they don’t have anywhere to go, no jobs or no food to eat, so your son is lucky to have you.

Some prisons, not all of them, allow books to be sent into prisons, so you should have been sending your son books on business so he could have been learning how business works while he was in prison. 

It’s extremely important for prisoners to start conducting research while they are still incarcerated.  They need to take a look at their own skills and background and even some of the skills that they learned in prison.

Two business books recommended are "The New CEO: 185 Easy-To-Set Up Businesses for Youth and Adult Entrepreneurs" and "How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business" -- both available as an e-book or paperback and can be read by 12 year olds and above.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Business Owners Biggest Website Mistake

May 28, 2015

Dear Cathy:

What is the biggest mistake with most business websites?  Going Online, California

Dear Going Online:

Taking your business online means that it can be viewed day and night by a local, national and international audience.  If you do not have a website it will eat away at your creditability and run potential clients, customers and even investors away.

So the biggest mistake is not having a website.  Over 60% of businesses in business networks will not have a website.  Also many businesses with storefronts will not have an online presence.

Your website needs to have a good and clear explanation of the products and services you are trying to provide.  A good rule of thumb is if you make your website easy to maneuver through with good information, then chances are people will come back again. 

Remember the function of a business website is to: 1) Attract as many qualified prospects as possible; 2) Build a target list of people who want you to market to them; 3) Convert prospects to clients and paying customers; and 4) Convert clients to repeat clients.

To learn more about how business works read "How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business" -- available as an e-book and paperback.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Son Seeking Employment

May 27, 2015

Dear Cathy:

After high school my son had a job that lasted for 2 years but was let go because of his seniority.  He has looked for a new job everywhere but can’t find anything so he has given up all hope of finding a job.  He thinks he might want to start a business since he can’t find suitable employment.  What are your suggestions?  Seeking Employment, Georgia

Dear Seeking Employment:

When your son try to get back into the workplace, knowing someone on the inside is often the key to gaining employment again.  He needs to use word-of-mouth advertising to let people know that he is actively seeking employment.

Ask family, friends, and neighbors to inform others that he is seeking employment and what type of job he is seeking – so he should never stop networking. 

Young people are resourceful so he should use this extra time to go back to school to learn a trade either at a community college or technical school.  Some of these schools will even help him find employment or he can use his new skills to start a business.

Since he has all this time on his hand, there are business leagues, networks, incubators or resource centers in many cities which will provide him with plenty of information on how to get started in business.  Just make sure that he doesn’t become isolated and start hanging out with friends who have taken up bad habits. 

You can read more on how business works in the book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business” – available as an e-book and paperback.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How Can I Keep Potential Investors from Stealing My Business Idea?

May 26, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I decided to use potential investors to fund my business but how can I protect my business idea?  Future Business Owner, Texas

Dear Future Business Owner:

Closely related misconceptions include the one that says you must keep your business idea secret for fear of "copycats."  That leads new entrepreneurs to be overly protective.  These new or potential business owners don’t want to write down their ideas because they’re afraid somebody will steal it.  It takes a complicated operations plan to make a product into a stream of revenue, and that takes a long time. 

Remember business owners are “risk-takers” but you need to be an intelligent risk-taker.  If you are that afraid that an investor, or someone else, is going to steal your business idea - then patent it, get a trademark or copyright it before you present it to investors. 

You can do this yourself over the internet by copyrighting it or get a trademark or patent attorney.  Sometimes investors will want you to give them part of your company, but don’t be so paranoid that you run potential investors away.

To view a list of 30 potential ways to fund your business read “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business – available as an e-book and paperback.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Do I Need A Storefront for My Business?

May 25, 2015

Dear Cathy:

If I open a business out of my house, what do I have to watch out for? What advice would you give me to stay balanced in my family life? Moving Toward Business Ownership, Sacramento

Dear Moving Toward Business Ownership:

First of all after applying for a business license and other requirements for your particular business, you need to check zoning laws to see if you can operate that type of business out of your home.  Not all businesses can be ran out of your home but many can and remember that most businesses need to start off on a part-time basic.

As a matter of fact, one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is to go out and get a storefront or building, when they could have actually set their businesses up at home.  Also many times the biggest fees in a business will be the business rent so having a business at home just makes sense.

You need to understand upfront that there are five (5) toxic things in your house, condo or apartment that can keep you from being productive as a business owner: 1) your bed, 2) alcohol, 3) radio, 4) TV, and 5) your children -- so balance is the key and don't forget to invest in a comfortable chair.   If you feel there will be too many distractions or if you feel you are not balanced enough to start your business off at home, look for small or large business incubators where you can share the utilities with other businesses.  

Whether you have your own office or operate on the kitchen table, it’s important to stay balanced by involving the entire family in your business by making them a part of your business.  Kids can mop and sweep the floors, xerox, and answer the phone.

Remember running a family business should include the entire family which will create true generational wealth.  Also stay balanced by planning family outings and during that time don’t talk about your business.

To learn more about business ownership read "How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business" (Series 2) - available as an e-book and paperback.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduate Student in Constant Pain

May 20, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I am a young graduate student.  Over the past 2 years, I have been in and out of hospitals and the doctors can’t find anything wrong with me even though I am in constant pain.  I have been to 13 doctors who cannot figure out what is wrong with me but they have put me on several medications.  What can you tell me about holistic and natural healing?  Seeking Answers, Georgia

Dear Seeking Answers:

It doesn't matter if you are young or old, pain is definitely a sign that something is going wrong with your body so no one, including senior citizens, should ever be in any type of pain.  Therefore, it should be your goal to get to the root of your pain.  Medications will only mask the pain or cause your organs to give out.  Just look around your community and you will see pain clinics located all over the place so having pain is a major issue in this country. 

Living a natural and holistic lifestyle will be the only way for you to fully recover from your ordeal.  Holistic and natural healing means getting back to the basics.  It's means eating only organic foods in as natural forms as possible and using only natural products inside your home and especially on your body.

What you need to understand is that doctors knows very little about health and nutrition.  They only exist to keep everyone on medications so if you are constantly seeing doctors outside of your regular yearly visits, then you are definitely moving toward living a diseased and sickly life.

You need to investigate how to live a natural and holistic lifestyle by reading the book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Becoming Healthier Over the Next 30 Days” –- available as an e-book and paperback.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Should I Start a Sole Proprietorship or Limited Liability Company (LLC) for My Business?

May 19, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I am not sure which business structure I need to set up for my business.  What is the benefit of opening a Sole Proprietorship versus a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?  Ready to Go in Birmingham

Dear Ready To Go:

You really should sit down with a business attorney and let him or her explain each legal structure to you but a few things that you need to know include is -- over 80% of all businesses are Sole Proprietorships, especially many youth businesses, but these businesses linger below the radar because they don’t conduct the proper research to build and grow successful businesses. 

They tend to continue to be a one person business where you are self-employed or a micro business where you have a few employees. The Small Business Administration don’t even recognize your business unless you have a significant number of employees. 

Remember businesses are designed to create jobs.  If you have a business that does not hire people, then you might have a hobby not a business. Opening a Limited Liability Company (LLC) will give you more legal protection for your business in case you are sued and will make the business more attractive to investors. 

Also having an LLC versus a Sole Proprietorship will lessen your chance of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).   For a list of steps to take to launch a successful business read Chapter 2 in the book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business” available as an e-book and paperback.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When Should I Open A Business Bank Account?

March 18, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I just started the research stage of starting a business.  When should I open up a business bank account?  How much will it cost?  Should I open up a business account at the same bank as my personal bank account?  Ready to Get Started Mississippi

Dear Ready To Get Started:

If you are still in your research stage of opening a business, you don’t have to open up a business bank account until you start making money in your business.  Some people are in the research stage, which is the first phase of starting a business, anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  But you do want to keep your personal and business expenses separate. 

The cost of a business account will be around $100.  You need to provide your business license, Employers Identification Number (EIN), and any other legal documents to open a business account.  You can open a personal and business account at the same bank but you can chose two different banks because again these are going to be two totally separate accounts. 

For your business bank account, you should try to build relationships with banks in the community that caters to small businesses because they might even know of potential investors for your business.  So it’s important to get to know the officers of these banks.

For a complete list of the steps to take to set up a successful business read Chapter 2 of “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Starting Your Own Business” -- available as an e-book and paperback.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Should I Seek Out Experts When Setting Up A Business?

May 13, 2015

Dear Cathy:

Do every business need a mentor, business consultants or business coaches?  Learning More About Business, Minnesota

Dear Learning More About Business: 

Yes every business needs to brainstorm with mentors, business consultants and coaches along with legal, financial, and marketing advisors who might also be investors.  

Most potential business owners don’t want to admit that they don’t know everything. They are afraid to brainstorm with others especially those smarter than them.  They rather "Fake It Until You Make It!"  For some this will mean never telling the truth about themselves or their businesses and if they keep faking it -- they will eventually become perpetual liars.

Don’t get stuck thinking that you have to do everything yourself.  If you are the smartest person in your group, you should get another group.  Always, always, always brainstorm with people smarter than you.  Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak, it simply means you want to remain strong so let others know you need help. 

Read more on how business works in the business book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business” – available as an e-book and paperback.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Seeking Business Investors

May 12, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I recently started conducting research for a business.  I might think about looking for investors for my business to help me finance my business.  Who are investors and where can I find them? Seeking Investors, Oregon

Dear Seeking Business Investors:

There are two types of business investors, Angel Investors and Private Investors. 

Angel Investors:  Angel Investors can be family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues.  They can also be doctors, dentists, small business owners, successful salespeople, retired executives or anyone else with money. 

Private Investors:  There are about 250,000 high net-worth private investors (rich people) in the U.S. who fund over 30,000 small companies each year.  These are individuals who might give you $25,000 to 1 million for your business. They typically like to invest in groups so each can get a piece of the deal.  Private investors are sophisticated, drive a hard bargain and are looking for a big return usually within 3 to five years.

To learn more about business investors or other ways to finance your business read "How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Starting Your Own Business" - available as an e-book and paperback.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Whistleblower Police Officer Turned Educator

May 11, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I am a whistleblower and former police officer and would like to set up a business educating the community on abusive law enforcement practices?  How do I get started? Law Enforcement Educator, Washington, DC

Dear Law Enforcement Educator:

First of all coming from law enforcement you have what they call “specialized knowledge.”  Many people have “general knowledge” but not everyone has specialized knowledge so I applaud you for wanting to share your knowledge with the world.

Other fields that have specialized knowledge are the education field, mortgage industry, healthcare field -- amongst others.  Anyone with specialized knowledge can write a book, become a speaker, teach a class, give seminars, workshops, webinars, consultations and educate the community. 

In order to be successful in these fields though, you will need to create a product such as a book, booklet, CD, DVD or some other product. 

To learn more about how business works, you can read my business book “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide To Starting Your Own Business" – available as an e-book or paperback.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I Filed Two Bankruptcies So Can I Start A Business?

May 5, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I have filed two bankruptcies and my credit is horrible.  How can a person like me even think about going into business?  Bad Credit, Iowa

Dear Bad Credit:

A bankruptcy is nothing but a reorganization of your finances and sometimes it is needed -- but only as a last choice.  A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years.  It takes at least 1 to 2 years or longer to clean up your credit.  So you definitely do not want to wait that long to start a business. 

Remember most of the companies claiming they can clean up your credit are not legitimate.  Only you can clean up your credit so as you build and grow your business, you do need to order your credit reports yearly from the three credit bureaus (,, at

This means you are going to have 3 different credit scores.  If your credit scores are between 300 – 500, then you are in bad financial shape.  A 620 is pretty good but your goal is to have a credit score over 700 or 750.

Remember you might have to make phone calls and write letters to fix your credit.  It’s estimated that 79% of all credit reports have some type of errors, over 25% have major errors and over 30% have accounts opened that should have been closed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What is the Purpose of the Small Business Administration?

May 6, 2015 

Dear Cathy:

I am finally ready to start a business.  What is the true purpose of the Small Business Administration? Future Business Owner, Alabama

Dear Future Business Owner:

The Small Business Administration (SBA), was mandated by Congress to help finance small businesses.  But remember the Small Business Administration is “Uncle Sam” or the “Federal Government.” 

If you have a one person business, you are self-employed.  If you have a few employees you have a micro-business.  Unless you have a significant number of employees, the SBA does not even recognize you as a small business.

Their chapters provide advice on how to start and expand a business; Development of a business plan; how to promote a product or service, etc.

They provide loans, however, the SBA doesn’t lend money directly to you, instead, the SBA is a guarantor of loans made by private and other institutions. 

SBA general lending criteria includes:
1) outstanding credit history (FICO/Credit Score of over 700)
2) cash flow adequate to service the debt
3) they look at your collateral
4) they look at your equity
5) they look at character
6) they look at your experience

For a complete guide on the steps to take to set up a successful business read “How To Take Control of Your Own Life: A Self-Help Guide to Starting Your Own Business” – available as an e-book and paperback.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Divorcee Seeks To Start A Business

May 4, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I am a 60 year old divorcee who recently retired.  I am interested in starting a business but I am not sure which would be the best for me.  My ex-husband and I have real estate holdings in 3 different states, however, I would like to do something else.  I am unsure of how to start a business so how do I proceed?  Unsure in Missouri

Dear Unsure:

First of all, everyone needs to look at their own skills or background.  Sometimes we don’t have to duplicate the wheel.  You don’t get to be 60 years old without picking up certain talents in your life so everyone has some type of talent or passion which is of value to others. 

You need to find out where the pain is at in the community and create a business that is going to solve problems in the community. But remember second careers are about passions so start a business around your passions.  

Some exercises you can take to help you look at your own skills and talents include: 
1)    Write down all your past titles:  As a business owner, you need to have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.  Writing down your titles will not only help you realize your strengths and weaknesses, it will also help you see some of the skills you have that will help you market your business.

2)    Write down successes:  All of us have had small and large successes in our lives.  We need to celebrate those successes and apply that same type of behavior that we used to gain those successes to become successful business owners. 

To obtain a list of easy-to-start businesses you can read “The New CEO: 185 Easy-To-Set Up Businesses for Youth and Adult Entrepreneurs” – available as an e-book and paperback and coming soon as an audiobook.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Can Collection Agencies Call Me On My Job?

May 1, 2015

Dear Cathy:

This year I ordered my credit reports and I am seriously trying to pay my bills.  What rights do collection agencies really have and can they call me on my job to harass me?  Trying to Pay Bills in Virginia

Dear Trying To Pay Bills:

You have strong rights under federal law to prevent collection agencies from harassing you especially at your job. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bars collectors from threatening to harm you, your reputation, or your property, and from using profane language or falsely claiming to be an attorney or a government representative.

The law also prohibits claims that you will be arrested or imprisoned if you don’t pay and it prohibits late-night calls and repeated phone calls intended to harass you especially at your place of business.  Keep track of phone conversations and other interactions.

You can send a “drop-dead” letter by certified mail to a collection agency.  Once they receive it, they can only contact you to let you know they will not bother you again or they will be filing a lawsuit against you.

File a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office if you are being harassed or if they are not legitimate. If they continue to harass you after that, you can sue them for actual damages, punitive damages of up to $1000.

To put more money in your pocket this year read “Recession Survival Guide: How To Get Back Into the Driver’s Seat” – available as an e-book and paperback.