Work life

Starting a Small Business: Tips for Parents with Disabilities

starting small businessStarting a small business comes with a lot to consider, from figuring out whether you want a storefront or a solely online company to making sure you have the motivation and energy to put into running everything yourself. When you’re also a parent who is living with a disability, it’s important to also think about the best ways you can make life easier for yourself during the process of getting things off the ground. For some entrepreneurs, working from home is much easier than going into an office every day, but this can present its own set of challenges, especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to get the ball rolling smoothly. First, think about the details: a brick-and-mortar store can bring a lot of benefits, such as bringing in lots of foot traffic, but it can also come with a lot more issues and responsibilities than an online business. Will you keep your stock on-site or dropship? Once you’ve figured out the details, you can move on to the big things, such as securing the necessary financing.

Keep reading for some helpful tips on how to start a successful small business when you’re a parent with a disability.

Understand What It Takes

Starting your own business may sound like a dream come true, but it’s much harder in many ways than finding a job with an established company. You need to be self-motivated, a problem-solver who can minimize distractions at home and get things done even when there’s no one giving you direction. Being able to give your all even when you’re sick or have lots of things going on at home will help you find success as an entrepreneur.

Consider How You’ll Support Yourself

Financing a small business is no small feat; there are many things to consider, from startup costs to maintaining your home and lifestyle until you begin making a profit. Often, new businesses don’t turn a profit for at least a year, although those run exclusively online can save a lot of money by not having a storefront. You might think about a loan or grant for disabled business owners to boost your funds, but make sure you find the right one for your needs. Look online to find out more about the resources available to you.

Think About Your Family

As a parent, you want to ensure that your family is well taken care of while you’re getting your dream up and running. This might mean securing daycare for your children if you’ve been a stay-at-home parent in the past, which can be a big change for everyone. Sit down with your family members and talk about your goals, and plan for the future together. Allowing your children to be involved in the preparation process will help them feel a little bit in control.

Take Care of Yourself

Starting a business can be a dream come true, but it’s also a lot of work, and it can be very stressful even if you’re organized. This is especially true when you’re living with a disability. Practicing self-care can help you reduce stress and anxiety when things become overwhelming, so take time out for yourself when you find things are getting busy. Ask for help when you need it. Get plenty of exercise and eat right, even on busy days.

Starting a plan for your future can be scary, but if you keep in mind that it’s a big step in the right direction when it comes to your goals, you’ll be able to stay motivated no matter how difficult things get. Start with some prep work and do some research online before you make any decisions. As a disabled business owner, juggling parenting and your dreams might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your goals.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   ashley@disabledparents.org

Tips For New Graduates To Land Their First Job

Getting that first job is a critical step into future careers, but all too often it can be a real catch 22: all jobs seem to require experience, yet you need to get a job to gain that experience. It can leave you feeling very frustrated and wondering what to do next.

If that sounds like you, don’t worry – with our expert tips you will be able to find and secure that all important first job in no time.

Finding a job opportunity

When you are relatively inexperienced in job searching it can be hard to even find opportunities that might be relevant. It can pay to be a bit creative here; there are jobs available, it’s just a case of finding them (or even making them appear). Here are some suggestions:

  • Job adverts are probably the most obvious options – there are many websites that advertise jobs (indeed.com, monster.co.uk, reed.com etc.). This is good in that it lets you see the types of jobs that are out there, but often the competition can be particularly high when jobs are advertised in this way. Not all organisations advertise their opportunities, so if there’s an opportunity you’re particularly interested in, make a list of employers in that area and check their websites directly.
  • Graduate schemes are eternally popular for fresh graduates, but they’re not for everyone. Not only are they really competitive, a lot of people may find that the nature of the work might not suit them, that said there are many jobs available and it’s always worth taking a look at sites like www.prospects.ac.uk.
  • Internships/work experience are great for getting a foot in the door of your career – particularly if you want to work in the creative industries. However, these are often unpaid which can leave you with a dilemma – if you can afford to work for free then this can really open doors for you. Some organisations do pay interns so it is worth looking around for these.
  • Directly approaching employers can be surprisingly successful. If you want to work in a particular field, then it can be worth sending your CV and a covering letter to a number of organisations in that area. You can improve your chances of success by making sure the letter is addressed to a particular person, and following up with a phone call.
  • Use your network. Don’t be shy to ask people to give you a job or even introduce you to potential employers. It can be useful to draw a network diagram highlighting all of the people you/family/close friends know who might be able to help you. LinkedIn is also good for this.

Acing an assessment

Once you’ve got an invitation to a selection event/interview you’re halfway there – next you need to secure the position. If you’ve never had a (successful) interview in the past you need to spend some time preparing. Here are some useful suggestions:

Research the company. Make sure you know all about the company and the job; you need to be able to talk intelligently about this. Take a look at the organisation’s website, do a google search, talk to people who already work there. Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • Why do you want this role?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Who do you see as our main competitors?

Package up your experience. You are going to need to talk about yourself and what you can bring to this role. If you haven’t had a job in the past then this can seem quite hard, but don’t worry, you will probably have plenty of relevant experiences to draw upon. The key here is to look for the specific competencies (or knowledge, skills and experience) the organisation is looking for; you’ll be able to find these in the job description or advert.

Let’s look at an example. Perhaps an organisation is looking for experience in ‘Planning and Organising’. Whilst you might not have experience of doing this in the workplace, you probably do have experience of doing this elsewhere. Maybe you had to complete a project or dissertation as part of your studies. How can you relate the things you did to achieve this to competency of ‘Planning and Organising’? Did you make a to do list? Add items to your calendar? Make a plan? These are all good indicators that you can do this so make sure you are really selling the experience you do have.

Practice, practice, practice. We get better at things when we practice and getting jobs is no exception. Get someone to do a mock interview with you so that you know what it feels like to be in that situation. Make sure they give you feedback so that you know how to improve the next time. Lots of careers services offer this for free, but if that isn’t available to you, ask friends or family. There are also organisations or individuals who offer mock interviews and you can find them on google.

Some jobs require you to complete psychometric tests of ability as well as an interview. These tests present you with a number of problems and ask you to solve them within a specified time period. They typically include Numerical, Verbal or Abstract Reasoning. These tests can be tricky and feel very different to things you might have done before, so sitting some practice papers and getting some advice about how to answer the questions is really important this guide is a good place to start.

Manage your impact. It is really important to make a good first impression in an interview, here are some ideas to help you do this:

  • Dress smartly and ensure you are well presented. Neat and tidy is what we’re aiming for here so keep hair styling and make up elegant, and wear clean, smart and ironed clothes. Polish your shoes.
  • Be polite and friendly. Make eye contact and smile. Shake the hand of the interviewer and look at them when you are talking.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before the interview and have something light and healthy to eat before you go in, you need to make sure you have enough energy to perform well.

About the author:   Ed Mellett is an entrepreneur, careers professional and founder of practicereasoningtests.com. He is known for co-founding and launching the leading student and graduate careers website wikijob.co.uk. Now in its 11th year, wikijob attracts over 400,000 unique users per month and is a must-visit resource for students considering their careers post-university. Ed’s other interests include AI, neuroscience and psychology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Getting a Job during Divorce

The days of getting maintenance for life are over. High wealth spouses may get a large settlement, but it is rare to receive spousal support for decades. If you have been a stay-at-home parent – your solicitor may insist upon you finding a job during divorce proceedings for these reasons:

  • You have a source of income.
  • To get a sense of empowerment. One feels more in control of their life when being employed and not being financially dependent upon someone else. When both spouses are making some money (no matter how little) the balance of power shifts away from the sole earner. One does not appear desperate during divorce, even if earning much less than their former partner.
  • The new job’s salary can factor into the maintenance equation. In some countries the amount of income for both spouses is taken into consideration. Instead looking at a potential salary which can be unrealistic, what one is presently earning in the new job may be used when determining maintenance. For example, a nurse who worked with her husband in an office got a divorce and lost her job. Her solicitor mandated that she get another one immediately. She did, but in retail. She had not worked in a hospital in over two decades, yet her husband and his solicitor were trying to say her salary would be X amount if she got a job in the operating room. This was an unreasonable expectation, especially when other candidates would be more qualified for that position. Her solicitor said no, what she is currently earning would be the guide for the amount of spousal support. Had she not gotten that lower paying job quickly, she would have received less in support.

How do you go about getting a job in a hurry? Update your curriculum vitae (CV), getting professional help if needed. Check the classified sections to get an idea of what jobs are available and their requirements. The way many of us in the midst of divorce got jobs, was to ask businesses that we patronize if there was an opening.  Yes that takes guts, but I did this and worked five years at that company post-divorce. An acquaintance going broke paying legal fees, unloaded her wardrobe at a consignment shop. They gave her a job which she really enjoyed until she moved out of the city. A fellow with no experience in a restaurant got a job as a waiter, because the staff like his positive attitude as a customer. A woman in my parenting class got a receptionist job at her cat’s veterinarian clinic. She then used some of this money after divorce to train as a masseuse. Even if a business that knows you does not have any job availability, they may know someone that does.

Let your friends and family know that you have to get a job right away and ask if they have any leads. Go to an employment centre for assistance. There are some charities that help people find work. Ask other parents at your children’s school if they have any ideas. A few parents got part-time jobs at the schools, doing after school activities and other duties. The nice thing about this is that they see their children when they have shared care time with the other parent. Be creative, but not too picky. This is not something you have to do for the rest of your life.

Please read more  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/go-back-to-work/

Starting a New Business Post-Divorce

Divorce brings changes into one’s life with the opportunity to embark on a new career path. You may decide to train for a different field which you are passionate about. Plenty of people have opened cafes, boutiques or became entrepreneurs. The trick is not to jump into starting a business without doing the groundwork first, no matter how exciting your idea is.

  • Do market research to see how feasible your idea is and to determine your target group of consumers. Some hire a professional to analyse the competition and if the product will fulfil a need. They will look at demographics and suggest a location if it is to have a physical place. Make sure you found a niche or are presenting something in a unique way, whether online or not. For example, if you dream of making cakes and the result of a market analysis shows there are already two shops selling them, do it differently. Perhaps produce luscious cupcakes and traditional European cookies in a coffee house setting for better sales.
  • Write a detailed business plan. This includes determining the cost of each unit, where it will be made and logistics, such as the shipping from a factory. Will you make a product yourself or hire staff? Think about web site design, start-up costs, how you plan to market it and cover all aspects of your business. Globally there are charities which help budding entrepreneurs write a business plan or mentor when getting started with a business. There are templates online to help one with this task. Banks will need to examine your business plan to decide whether to give a loan. Will you be selling online exclusively or is there a possibility of wanting a store?

Sort out your financial situation. Can you cover the start-up yourself or with loans from friends and family? Will you try to get funding such as with Go Fund Me or Crowdfunding?

  • Some charities make small loans when banks will not do so. You may want to keep you day job or at least go part time until some money starts trickling in. Talk to or hire an accountant. Start cutting your living expenses now.

There are special considerations when going into business with a friend. Sometimes a Type A and Type B may not get on well. In one case two teachers were going into business together and started designing teaching materials to be sold online. They had the business plan done and were being mentored by some retired professionals. However, the Type A demanded that the Type B keep a log of how many hours she worked and then insisted upon a bigger share than the 50/50 legally agreed upon split. She also mandated that her friend take some college courses on social media and so forth. It was a spectacular blow up that ended their business partnership. Make sure that you can work with someone and can calmly discuss issues that are bound to come up in your business.

Have a solicitor draw up a business contract when going into business with someone else. This will cover the eventuality that one wants to quit and how to have an exit plan. If one partner dies, how will the heirs get some compensation? It could be a nightmare if they try to step in and co-run your business.      Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/going-into-business-after-divorce/

 

Balancing Work and Family Life as a Single Parent

It is possible to keep one’s sanity and sense of humor, yet still be a single parent in the workforce. The trick is to be extra organized and do as much as possible when the kids are with the co-parent. It is challenging stepping back into a career when being a stay-at-home mom, or changing to full-time. These tips make life a bit easier.

  1. Work more during visitation. I went to my father’s every other weekend and my nurse mother worked at a hospital during that time. She also picked up extra shifts for the two weeks that I was on vacation with my father and at camp. Another woman worked 8-3 without a formal lunch break. She then went into the office for five hours every Saturday while the kids were at visitation. Since the office was closed, it was peaceful enabling her to get ahead with work. See if you can build flexibility into your job. A dad might work extra on the weekend that he is not with the kids.
  2. Make a huge quantity of lasagne or another dish, and freeze single portions (your work lunches) and family size ones. When you are tired – reheat with a prepared salad. Do a cooking marathon when the kids are at visitation. I buy organic, but yummy prepared meals to give to hungry fellows in a hurry. My sons like Trader Joe’s pot pies and their frozen meat which is quick to cook.
  3. Team up with other single parents to have potlucks or share some tasks. Three moms decided to rotate cooking evening meals, each doing one night a week. One cooks enough for the other two families and packs up the complete meals into containers. They are delivered to those houses nearby and for the next two evenings, she is off the hook for providing dinner. These three have been doing this arrangement for years and treasure those blissful cooking-free nights.
  4. Nurture yourself. If you are frazzled, then you are less able to give your full attention to the kids. Pop in for a pedicure or an occasional facial. Indulge in high end, but low cost organic plant based skin care, such as Boot’s Botanic line. My skin is smooth and I feel heavenly. Sitting on the couch reading a magazine with a cat on my lap is so relaxing. Do what rejuvenates you. Some divorced dads got back into sports and enjoy the camaraderie as well as increasing physical well-being.    Please read more …  divorcedmoms.com/articles/balancing-single-parenting-and-work-10-tips-for-the-overwhelmed

Starting Back to Work after a Hiatus or Divorce

It is challenging going back to work during or post-divorce, especially when you have had a hiatus for a decade or two. Your co-workers may be close in age to your children and your boss could be twenty years younger than you.

Before you step foot in the office, do a little homework. My local community college has a free service in writing a resume. The advisor was a magician in writing mine, emphasizing my volunteer experiences along with my paid jobs. They will help write a cover letter if you have a job in mind.

Many places do aptitude testing, guiding one to careers that are in line with strengths and talents. Also check if there is a non-profit helping women to get back into the job market. One in my city even specializes helping women over fifty trying to get back into a career. They have leads and can give advice. One place to call is United Way who has a list of local non-profits who can be of assistance.

1. Brush up on skills and update your computer knowledge. You can pay your kid or a neighbor computer geek to teach you new computer tricks. A company may not expect you to know their specific program, but will want you to be proficient with general computer usage. I took some short non-credit computer courses at my community college. Learn programs such as Quick Books and ask people in your profession for other ones that they recommend. One boss let a woman go on her first day because she could not even insert an attachment to an e-mail.

2. Ask a fashion savvy friend to inspect your wardrobe. You may want to buy a few special work/interview outfits or at least have some contemporary accessories. Larger department stores have a personal shopper to give you advice and put different pieces together to stretch your wardrobe. They are used to working within various budgets and pull clothes from different departments.   Please read more…
divorcedmoms.com/articles/going-back-to-work-youve-got-this

Fighting Sexual Harrassment in the Military and at Workplaces

Things are looking more promising for people fighting sexual discrimination or harassment in the military. There are more safeguards now in place for reporting these infractions. My friend was successful with her gender discrimination allegation on an Air Force base and is happy in her new department. One Air Force Region has Special Victim’s Counsel (SVC)  which has these important services:

Represents just the victim, providing confidential legal advice and assistance. Protects rights and advises on the investigation & prosecution.

Attends interviews, hearings and court-martials with the victim. The SVC does not work for anyone else on base and their chain of command is a separate office in Washington DC.

The actual report can remain restricted so others can’t see it.

In the Office or Job site:

If appropriate, speak to the perpetrator or have a co-worker do so on your behalf as in the following situation. The boss in one office was a sports coach outside of the work environment and gave his players mini massages to keep their shoulders and neck muscles relaxed during the game. His employees enjoyed these same quick massages when having a frenetic or stressful day and told him so.   A new woman joined this work team and felt like her personal boundary was being invaded and was uncomfortable with these massages. Telling her boss, or having a co-worker tell him that she did not want to be touched would have been more simple.  Instead, she went to the HR department and lodged a formal complaint.  The boss was reprimanded and had to attend a sexual harassment class.  He was banned from touching any employees.  The other employees were miffed about losing their mini massages that helped them be relaxed at work and were not happy with how the new employee handled this situation.

Tips for dealing with Sexual Harassment

Published February 3, 2013 | By Wendi Schuller
If you are dealing with  sexual harassment at work and want to nip it in the bud, here are some suggestions. 1.  Ask around, is it just directed at you, or are there other victims?  Go to the offender’s supervisor, or to HR, enmass.  There is more crediblity with a group complaint. 2.  If you think the offender is just plain stupid , then talk to him and let him know that the line has been crossed. Possibly just educating the clueless one will do the trick.  He may erroneously think that you are “one of the guys”. 3.  Keep meticulous  records with times and dates of what happened. 4.  Use a sense of humor to set the record straight. 5.  Consult an attorney, if all else fails. I read how an ingenius group of women, who worked in a factory, handled this issue.  The floor supervisor would come around and sexually proposition the female workers individually. They talked amoung themselves and realized that they were all his victims.  They decided to take matters in their own hands and stop the problem once and for all.  Their plan was when the supervisor would come around to talk to someone, all of them would shut off their machines to make it quieter.  The victim would yell, whatever the proposition was, like  ” you want to do what to me?”  They knew it would be especially difficult for the first couple of women.  Soon, the  men also turned off their machines when it happened and laughed whenever the supervisor tried his tricks.  After a short while, the supervisor gave up and mainly stayed in his office overlooking the factory floor. Try being creative to avoid a lengthy lawsuit.

 

 

Returning to the Workplace During Divorce

The April 11, 2013  New York Times newspaper’s magazine section had an article by Judith Warner that discussed returning to work after a long hiatus raising children. Some of the women were facing divorce and had to jump back into the workplace.  A question was raised, is it better to get a job during the divorce or wait until it has ended. A woman’s divorce attorney told her “Before you do anything, you get a job.  You have to look at the next 30 years of your life, and if you are in control of the situation, and you have a job that’s paying you money, he’s going to be far less powerful over you in the divorce.”

Before my divorce, I was forced out of my job in our jointly owned business. My divorce attorney also insisted that I immediately find employment. Besides earning a little extra cash in this part-time position, it helped keep my sanity intact and gave me more power in my divorce proceedings.  Since it was far less income than co-owning a business, it may have given me more leverage in my alimony amount. One hurdle with determining alimony is that it can be calculated on what you can potentially earn, even if out of the workplace for many years.  It is a toss up  if quickly finding any old job during a divorce helps with increased alimony, but it can boost self-esteem.

The article discussed how women may be able to get back into the job market.  Schools are great places to network with well placed parents who have contacts in one’s field. One woman said that she did not even have to fill out a resume because these parents knew her talents and a job materialized. Warner stated “those who hadn’t been sufficiently strategic in their volunteering often struggled greatly.” Listing volunteer fund-raising efforts at schools and clubs can especially put one in the path of nonprofit organizations.

It would be interesting to hear what divorce attorneys around the country advise clients about getting a job during their divorce.

 

 

Collaborative Divorce – A New Team Member

There is a new member on the Collaborative divorce team.  A career coach is becoming an invaluable asset in collabortive divorce negotioations. Quite a few women have put aside their work aspirations to raise a family and have been out of the job market for awhile.  A career coach may be brought in to help these women determine their strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan of action. An intial assessment of skills and interest is performed and then the woman and career coach investigate potential jobs and career paths. It may be that the woman has developed different interest areas and accomplishments from her previous jobs and requires some vocational guidence during and post-divorce.  The career coach can assist with concrete tasks, such as helping to write a resume and check job wanted ads. Another function is to provide  reassurance and support for the spouse who is now hunting for a job.

An additional reason that a career coach is brought onboard is to help determine alimony and child support during collaborative divorce negotiations. These are determined by the earning potential of both spouses.  If one spouse has to go back to school or training to update her skills or license, then the career coach can point this out for a fairer  alimony/child support settlement.

In an acrimonious divorce, the career coach is a neutral person who can help set alimony/child support in an impartial manner.

 

How to patent your invention

                        Tips for getting your great idea a patent.
  Get a blank notebook and draw out your idea.  Write a description for your diagram.
If it is something that you can make yourself, for a prototype, then do so.  If you need to get outside help, then have the artist, welder, or whoever sign a confidentiality agreement.  The most important tip is to get a patent attorney, who regularly does patents.  It is okay if this attorney is in another city, because you may not have a patent attorney in your home town. 
  Don’t make my major mistake.  I asked an attorney, who I used to do business with to recommend someone.  He endorsed his new, just passed the bar partner, and said that she would do a great job.  An inexperience lawyer, who did not specialize in patents should have raised a red flag.  My patent application was so botched that it was returned and I had to have a patent attorney in another city to tend to it.
  You can go online and see if there are any other products, like the one you want to patent.   when you get a great idea, write it down right away.  I’m still trying to remember my fantastic, can’t live without it one, from several months ago. Think of this as an adventure.

Tips for dealing with Sexual Harassment

If you are dealing with  sexual harassment at work and want to nip it in the bud, here are some suggestions.
1.  Ask around, is it just directed at you, or are there other victims?  Go to the offender’s supervisor, or to HR, enmass.  There is more crediblity with a group complaint.
2.  If you think the offender is just plain stupid , then talk to him and let him know that the line has been crossed. Possibly just educating the clueless one will do the trick.  He may erroneously think that you are “one of the guys”.
3.  Keep meticulous  records with times and dates of what happened.
4.  Use a sense of humor to set the record straight.
5.  Consult an attorney, if all else fails.
I read how an ingenius group of women, who worked in a factory, handled this issue.  The floor supervisor would come around and sexually proposition the female workers individually. They talked amoung themselves and realized that they were all his victims.  They decided to take matters in their own hands and stop the problem once and for all.  Their plan was when the supervisor would come around to talk to someone, all of them would shut off their machines to make it quieter.  The victim would yell, whatever the proposition was, like  ” you want to do what to me?”  They knew it would be especially difficult for the first couple of women.  Soon, the  men also turned off their machines when it happened and laughed whenever the supervisor tried his tricks.  After a short while, the supervisor gave up and mainly stayed in his office overlooking the factory floor. Try being creative to avoid a lengthy lawsuit.