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Whimsy

Small Business Owners Unite!

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I thought it may be a nice idea to have a thread for small business owners to come to for advice- both getting and giving.  As a teeny-tiny business owner myself (not my full-time job), I am interested in learning from others who have similar businesses. 

In order to avoid this page just being filled with spam and website links- there is one rule (for now): NO posting your website link in this thread.  I will delete immediately.  Instead, link your page on your profile and if anyone is interested, they can visit your profile and click the link (see my profile for an example).

This thread isn't to promote your business- but to learn from other business owners and to help out with your own experiences.

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Great idea!

I'm a self employed designer who started out freelancing on the side but was laid off many years later, so it is my only income now. My advice for anyone starting a business is pretty common-sense stuff. Consult with a tax professional well before tax season. Research the regulations for where you live (city, county, state, country -- depending on your business, you may have to file papers with any or all of these). Keep your business finances separate from your personal. Depending on your business, you might wish to take legal action to protect yourself in case a client decides to sue -- you don't want to risk losing your personal assets. Developing a business plan is a good idea, and something I wish I'd done.

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There's a business idea I've been thinking about but I wondered if it was feasible.

I'm looking to go back to school for a Masters in Education.  I have been told that I should be a teacher because of my educated background (though I do not have a teaching degree).  I personally liked the idea of homeschooling and wondered if I could set myself up to either be a private homeschooling tutor or perhaps a consultant who can help parents get started on personalizing lesson plans for their kids.  My sister, who happens to be a special ed teacher,  thinks I'd be better suited to being an "online teacher" for a charter school.  

The idea originally came about in part due to my dissatisfaction of modern public education in general (the schools in my area rank quite low nationally), the potential for kids to learn without having to be part of the school district's schedule (the one who's getting the material has to be held back for those who aren't), and bullying/peer pressure (which is an awful distraction) .   If I were a tutor working "in person", there would have to be safeguards to prevent accusations of inappropriate behavior, and I'd have to be able to prove results, which I'm not in a position to do yet.

Thoughts?

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A quick google of teaching as a second career will give you some good resources and things to consider.  There are alternate options for getting certified for people who already have a degree and relevant experience in a subject.  I seem to recall that private schools may have different requirements than public schools too.

As for having to prove results for being a tutor, I doubt if that would be necessary unless you were focusing on the most advanced students.  As for safeguards, just set up sessions at a public place - most libraries have some available rooms or maybe a community center.

Perhaps it would help if you had some in-the-classroom training.  If the schools in your area are underperforming and resources tight, they would probably be open to having you volunteer as a classroom aide.  In my area, anyone who wants to do so has to fill out an application and they run a background check on you, including criminal.  That might help you refine your areas of focus and age groups that you would like to work with.

I'd love to hear more about this if you move forward.

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Getting classroom experience wouldn't be too hard - the district is always looking for substitutes, although they get none of the bennies an official teacher gets.  They get paid about 90 bucks a day.  My current schedule at my job (overnights) would make it tough to do since class starts around 7am-ish and I won't be out until 8am at the earliest.  I also worry about dealing with the political end of things.  My sister had her share of stories (bitchy principals and the incompetents who cozy up to them), and I'm worried I wouldn't be able to teach what needs to be taught or lose control of the classroom.

 

I did find a tutoring certification group, although it may not necessarily hold the gravitas of a college degree for some prospective clients.

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In addition to @forumfish's original suggestions, my advice for anyone starting a small business is about privacy. If you will be freelancing or working out of your home (meaning you will not have a storefront or an official office space), get a PO box and use that address for your business correspondence so that you don't have to use your home address on all of the official paperwork for your business license, filing for a fictitious name, mailing lists (many online mailing list services require you to provide a physical mailing address and that information is included in every mass email sent to your client list), etc. It may sound paranoid, but you may find down the road that you don't want your home address to be on so many documents that are easily accessible to the public. Set up a separate phone number for your business. Even if that just means using a google voice number (rather than getting a second cell phone), it's the same principle. It may seem fine to hand out your personal cell phone number when you're starting out but later you may not want that information floating around. It's also a good way to set boundaries for your personal and professional life. If you have a separate phone number for your small business, you can turn it off.

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