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Work for Free and Get Rich in the Process

When You are Trying to Make Money, It Shows
By Ally Loprete

Starting my own business has been a huge educational experience for me. My business partner, Kelli, and I realized that in order to build a national directory of parent-owned businesses, we needed to have the businesses with which to build it. It was because of this that we decided to give away every membership we could while the site was being built. Since we already threw out the idea that we would make any income whatsoever in our first year, our true passion for our project came through and, for three months, we received hundreds of inquiries every day from parents all over the country asking how they could be a part of our mission. Some were willing to pay even though we were offering these listings for free.
What we learned from this is something that we’d like to share with you. If you are a business owner, you know that there are trends, cycles, up swings, and downward spirals. Very often we think that the state of our business has to do with the state of the economy. We blame our worst days on things like the recession and forget to give ourselves credit for the good days. We need to believe that we are more responsible for the cause and effect of business trends than we can comprehend to giving ourselves credit for.
Your energy and passion for your business is a powerful tool. Although we are big believers in the “Law of Attraction” we don’t believe that anything is as easy as just “willing it.”
It’s important to see the dynamics of how your positive (or negative) energy works for or against you.
When in doubt, ask yourself these five simple questions:

1.) What am I trying to accomplish? The answer should never be “earn more money.” If it is, people feel it, and they are hestitant about your true sincerity. It may not be obvious, but it’s probably enough to make your potential clients decide at the last minute not to make a purchase from you — even if they don’t really know why.

2.) Am I as excited about what I am doing that first week when I decided to do it? If not, do what you can to get back to that point. If you did not take notes for yourself or journal right at the beginning, now is a terrific time to start. Journaling can help you get back to your original goals when other things begin to cloud your vision.

3.) Do I believe that what I am offering is valuable? This goes back to why you first started. If you no longer feel that is it is valuable, this may not be all your fault. Any occurrence can change a trend. This does not, however mean you should give up your once valuable business or concept. Find a way to adjust with societies changes. Large companies do it all the time. Or perhaps you do still feel that your product or service is valuable, but others aren’t seeing it that way. What can you do to reach out and convince people? Your clients do want to hear it from you, and you must believe that your explanation will be valuable to them.

4.) Do others appreciate knowing me? It’s important to be an expert in your field. But more important than that, people need to feel comfortable coming to you for advice, and not feel worried that you will charge them for your time, or request something in return. If others sense that you are trying to “sell” them, it won’t matter how much of an expert you are. That icky feeling will cause them to look for another expert who seems genuinely concerned for their needs.

5.) Am I giving to others for the sake of giving? Whether you believe in karma or not, a good exercise is to look for a way to help someone else the moment you need someone to reach out to you. When we are struggling, the most difficult thing in the world is focus on someone else’s struggles — yet it’s been proven to me time and time again that it’s the best time to walk away from your own issues and offer assistance to someone else. It never fails. Giving to someone else almost always yields assistance waiting for you in the wings. Don’t believe me? Put it to the test sometime. You’ll be pleasingly surprised.

These may be simple suggestions, but if it helps you to set your energy back to a healthy balance, you will see a change in your business for the better. Donate your time, and your passion to others, and they will flock to you. Ironically, when the money starts rolling in, you probably won’t notice and may not care about it as much. That is the best way to take control of it, rather than letting it control you.

Ally Loprete is the Co-Founder of OurMilkMoney.com, an online directory of self-employed parents across the country. Ally’s focus is to help expose parents working to create a better life for their families and her mission is to educate consumers on the value of purchasing from the small business owner. Ally is passionate about inspiring parents to connect with one another, and will often write about the brilliant ideas that seem to come to her only in the shower or while blowing her hair dry.

Surviving the Recession (Yes, It’s Possible)

Surviving the Recession (Yes, It’s Possible)

Written by Ally Loprete

I have a plan that I’d like to share with you — because it involves YOU. Actually, it involves everybody. If everybody does their part, we not only have a chance of surviving the recession together, we have a chance of rebuilding our society into something spectacular.
First, let me ask you a question: When was the last time you were given amazing customer service? I don’t mean service that simply gave you what you paid for and did it with a smile and a bonus “have a nice day.” I mean the kind of service that throws out the rules of business and treats you like someone of value and an individual with needs different than the last customer’s needs. Not a one-size-fit all approach that we’ve come to know as the norm.
Is good old fashion customer service so far a thing of the past that the majority of this generation never really knew what it was to begin with? Have we gotten so used to the automated systems and virtual relationships that nothing is genuine anymore?
I am not complaining. I am proud of where we are… although I wasn’t at first. I was more skeptical and angrier than most. I don’t mean to harp on the big businesses — after all they are run by people who have needs just as you and I do. But very often in big business we are unable to speak to real people who are able to meet our needs as their customers. Big business has become a large robot not programmed to care about our feelings, sensitivities, and real human experience. We grew up being told that everyone is special, but big business has taught us that everyone is exactly the same and that extraordinary needs are not tolerated — or, at least, the robot is not programmed to understand them.
However, the good news is that recently I’ve seen a shift in that energy. People are needing to connect on a more human level. True we are communicating through text messages, emails, and blogs (ahem), but we are still connecting. And in some ways there is more of a connection because we all have access to one another on a level much greater than ever before: The Internet.
The Wonderful World of Web is a really good thing! So good that, if we read between the lines, we will see our unlimited potential and how capable we are of getting back to that sense of good old fashion customer service mentality.
Since we are able to shop and do business online, we can now choose from literally millions of companies to work with. If we don’t like their service, we can go elsewhere, just as easily. It’s not like we have to drive over to the next town because we didn’t like the clerk at the grocery store. We can buy from just about anyone we want.

Do you realize how much power this gives us?
It means the big businesses are losing us and, actually, the loss that big corporations have already suffered is a primary contribution to the recession we are in right now.
But that’s OK. It’s all part of how society rebuilds itself. Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can go forward.
So, if we see the recession as a not-so-bad thing, we can use it to our advantage. Are you with me?
What this means is that smaller businesses, for the first time in decades, have a fighting chance. And in case you haven’t noticed, small business is exploding.
They have something big businesses don’t have: a personal touch.
For those of you who don’t remember what it was like to have this so-called “good customer service,” don’t feel bad. I don’t know that I do either, but I’ve seen a lot of movies and I’ve listened to a lot of old people talk about what it was like in “their day.” I imagine it to be something like this:
People GAVE because they were in a position TO GIVE. I imagine there were some people who didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, but hey, it probably all evened out in the end. Some people call it Karma — and Karma is a concept that has been around since the beginning of time.
So, there is your answer! Karma is the way that we are going to survive this recession.
You have something? Give. You need something? Take.
This recession is a way for the universe to clean the world up a bit, and rebuild the social order of our culture. You can’t have a rainbow without first having a storm.
This new (or should I say old fashioned) way of business is creeping into the general public more and more. And I am mighty impressed, I have to say.
Here is the best part: You can choose who to do business with, and if you choose to support the small business men and women in our society, I can pretty much guarantee that they will support you, and give you that personal touch which has been missing for the last 30 years.
P.S. You can find those men and women at http://www.ourmilkmoney.com/.

Ally Loprete is the Co-Founder of OurMilkMoney.com, an online directory of self-employed parents across the country. Ally’s focus is to help expose parents working to create a better life for their families and her mission is to educate consumers on the value of purchasing from the small business owner. Ally is passionate about inspiring parents to connect with one another, and will often write about the brilliant ideas that seem to come to her only in the shower or while blowing her hair dry.

10 Steps to Becoming a Self-Employed Parent

(Or What to Expect When You Are Expecting to Work from Home)

Written by Ally Loprete

First, let me say that I realize that the title to this piece may seem a bit partial, and while I supposed that it probably is, my intention is not to be inequitable against those who don’t have children and wish to be self-employed. However, this article is not really about becoming a wealthy entrepreneur. It’s about earning legitimate revenue to contribute to the survival of your household while balancing parenthood.
If you are a parent looking to be self-employed, my guess is that you are willing to make sacrifices. You would like the option of spending the majority of the time that you are awake with your children, and would prefer that your child not see a nanny, or the inside of a daycare more than they see you. This is not about how you may or may not feel judged by society. It is about what you innately desire as a parent, which is not in the least bit selfish. It’s a parental instinct, and there should never be any shame in that.
You are not alone in wanting more for yourself and your children. If you are like most parents you would give up your job in a heart beat to stay home with your children, but you probably believe that you cannot afford to do so. Or maybe you have already decided to stay home with your children, but you promised your spouse you’d find a way to earn an income, and it has yet to happen. Maybe it’s harder than you thought, and the research that you’ve done online has given you an overload of work-at-home “schemes” that has succeeded only in information overload. Well, I am here to give you some good news: Becoming a self-employed parent is a possibility….yes…even for you.
It’s a scary leap to make, yes. But you are no slacker, and you are willing to work hard…if only you had some sort of inkling how to go about it, knew for sure that quitting your job to start over wouldn’t be the worst mistake you ever made in your life. If all that you are missing is some necessary information to help you make that leap, than you’ve come to the right place.
To be clear, this list will not make you self-employed, but it will open your eyes to the possibility. It requires is diligence, focus, and some risk.
Here is the truth about what to expect:

  1. Stop looking online for the perfect work-at-home job. It doesn’t exist. There are a million companies that will tell you otherwise because they want you to buy into one of their programs, take their courses, or purchase a franchise. They promise all sorts of things, and make their programs sound really good…too good. Your instinct is to stay away from them, and there is a good reason for that. You know it can’t be that easy, and you don’t have the luxury of wasting any amount of time or money on something that won’t pan out in the end. Time and money are more precious now than ever. The key here is to find a legitimate way to bring in an income….it may not be a substantial amount, but it will be enough to contribute to the survival of your family while you are staying at home.
  2. Multi-level marketing opportunities are not scams, but recognize them for what they are before investing in one. There are millions of people who have found success in MLMs, and if they help to provide an income for a family, terrific! We support them, and we do not judge. However, don’t jump into the business of one without realizing what it is going to take to be successful. If your business relies solely on recruiting your family and friends, they may start to feel the need to avoid you because they are afraid of being “sold.” Unless you come from a sales background and you are already surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends who has no problem buying all of your MLM products, this may not be the best choice for you and your family. If you DO choose to go this route, don’t blame your relatives for not investing in your products. It’s not fair to them, nor is it their responsibility to grow your business.
  3. Realize that you already have what it takes to become self-employed. You don’t need to invent a new product, or come up with a new concept that has never been tried before. You have skills and the ability to do exactly what it is you have already been
    doing. You don’t have to have a business degree to be a CEO, you just have to know how to offer a service. The question you need to ask yourself is this: “What am I currently doing for someone else that I can be doing for myself?” You are skilled at something. Accounting, marketing, graphic design, administrative support, dog grooming, hair cutting…Just to be clear, this is not a question of what you’ve always wanted to do, it’s what you are ALREADY doing. Chances are, you know how to do it well, and you know what it takes to keep doing it. Remember that this is a REALISTC approach to becoming self-employed. This is most likely NOT going to make you millions. It is simply going to allow you to survive doing exactly what you want to do- earn a bit of revenue while raising your children.
  4. Take a look at your finances. Don’t just ponder it for a moment and try to add up things in your head. Really, take out a piece of paper and write out what you are currently spending on things, paying special attention to the categories that will shrink once you are working from home: business attire, dry-cleaning, gas mileage and car maintenance, car insurance (yes, it will go down if you no longer have a long commute each day), daily lunches eaten out, daycare, etc…) Don’t judge the situation just yet, just do the task. You can also take into account that if your spouse becomes the sole provider, The family will get a significant tax reduction. Letting go of your stable paycheck will be the scariest thing of all, but if being at home is truly where you want to be, you’ll be able to make the sacrifice.
  5. Make some cuts. This is one of the hardest first steps to becoming a self-employed parent, because it means you are going to let some things go. First, realize that just because you have to cut down on some indulgences does not mean that you are living in poverty. You will survive. Look at your credit card statements, your cell phone bills, your other spending habits. Lower your cell phone plan minutes, brew your own coffee, use the library to borrow books and videos. Consider how often you use your gym membership and if your physical activity can be replaced by taking the kids for a walk, or joining a weekly stroller strides group. You will not be seeing as many movies, so invest in a video service such as Netflix, which is significantly less expensive. Instead of meeting friends out for drinks, (which has suddenly become even MORE costly from the need to hire a babysitter) invite them over for a game night. Let go of your season tickets and watch the games on TV for free, or check your local listings for community events such as free concerts in the park. You must learn to change your lifestyle a bit, but now that you have become a parent, your life has already changed and you may have found that you have said goodbye to a lot of these luxuries anyway. It won’t be long before you may actually prefer a night in with the kids and an animated video. Most likely, you will begin to enjoy the creative activities that you are able to come up with as a family. On the rare occasion that you are able to hire a sitter and get out with your grown-up friends, it will mean more to you than it ever did before.
  6. Start with the basics. Make a list of the things you need in order to offer your service- even just on a limited basis. Hold off on hiring that webdesigner for just a bit, and ordering those businesses cards. Start with the basic tools you need to
    be able to provide your service. You may find that you already have much of what you need. If not, then make a small investment in these basic tools. This is a lot more cost effective than purchasing a franchise, or renting an office space. You can always upgrade later, as your business grows. Once you become self-employed, you will be your own boss, and that means you will be able to create your own rules. You can charge less that your competitors, because you will be working out of your home, and your overhead will be absorbed into what you are already paying for rent. You can choose your own hours, and re-arrange your schedule around naps, playdates, or your spouses work schedule. Remember to get creative. You are the boss, so you call the shots. For example, if you are a hairstylist, you can offer to go to you clients home. This will circumvent paying rent at a salon so you will be able to charge less than your competitors (which your clients will appreciate). You may even be able to bring your kids with you to play with your client’s kids- a playdate while you work! It’s a win-win.
  7. Start slow. Offer your services for free to family and friends- just in the beginning. This will help you build up a client base, as well as give you a chance to get the hang of things without the added pressure of being perfect. Send out an email to friends and family telling them of the service that you are offering, and tell them that you are willing to waive your fees just so you can gain a bit of necessary experience. In exchange, you may ask for them to support you in another way such as contributing to an email campaign, or watching your kids for a few hours a month. If you have never done anything like this before, give yourself room to grow, and don’t be so hard on yourself if you mess up. You will learn from the mistakes that you make, and this will make you a better entrepreneur.
  8. Barter your services. This is a great way to minimize those start-up costs that you were worried about. It’s also a great way to network, and get testimonials, not to mention gain experience in your chosen field.
  9. Use the internet and become a master of online research. You can get just about anything you need to start your business for free. Basic websites, templates, voicemail boxes, advertising opportunities, legal advice, newsletter services, even business cards. Some services are free for only a certain amount of time, so take advantage while you can. Check out the OurMilkMoney.com Resource Page for a list of services that are free or minimal. Talk to other parents and ask them about the resources that they use. Everything else can be bartered – especially with other self-employed parents- and that is who you want to be supporting from now on, anyway. It’s good karma. Trust me, it always comes back to you.
  10. You are not in this alone. There are currently more than 5 million work-at-home parents and that number grows every single day. These are not your competitors, this is a large support network of people, who are just like you. They need you just as much as you need them. Reach out, ask for help, and be ready to listen and learn. There is an abundance of information out there at your finger tips FOR FREE. This can sometimes feel like information overload, but it can provide you with exactly what you are looking for the moment that you need it.

    Remember to pat yourself on the back often. As your own boss, you will need it. Rome was not built in a day. Earning a revenue will take time, so expect to struggle for a few months. Even the most successful businesses take time to become profitable. Finances will be tight, and it may seem like you are working twice as hard for less reward. But keep your eye on the prize, and trust that you are as good as anyone else who has chosen to work from home. Your greatest reward may not be the income, but the abundance of time you can now afford to have with your children, and being able to call the shots in your own life.

Kid Kwotes

Kid Kwotes

I peeled an orange for my son, Braden and put it on a plate for him on the kitchen table while he was on the couch watching TV. Then I told him, “Braden, there is an orange here with your name on it.” He got up off the couch very enthusiastically, and ran over to the table where the orange was. After a moment of looking very confused, he looked up and asked, “where is my name?”

Is your kid hilarious? Share your funny stories and kid quotes here. We will be choosing the ones that make us laugh the hardest and posting them on our newsletter. The next one may be yours!!

Virus Alert!! Trojan:Win32/FakeVimes

Wow. The reason I am writing about this because I hope that someone else will be saved by my very frightening experience. I am not exactly a computer pro and could have easily fallen for this just as anyone could, so please just read this and educate yourself about it. Maybe it will save you!
This Trojan:Win32/FakeVimes is actually a VIRUS imitating a VIRUS, so that you will purchase fake software- that would ultimately get into your computer and steal private information. It has a horrible noise a long with the pop ups- super scary- telling you that someone is currently “in” your computer and if you don’t hurry up and purchase, it will be too late.
The good news is that I didn’t get infected… I almost did…but something told me too look into the situation further before I went in complete panic mode. I am super grateful.
So, I was just doing an innocent google search when all of a sudden a bright red warning popped up on my computer telling me that I was horribly infected. The computer automatically started running (what seemed to be) a legitimate scan of Windows Defender…which resulted in 22 threats. This just scared the twinkies right out of me. But whats even more frightening was that I wasn’t able to continue on with any of my work. The warnings just kept popping up, sort of freezing my computer and telling me that if I continued, my entire system would be taken over by a hacker. Little did I know that these 22 threats were really just lies being told to me by one REAL THREAT… The Trojan:Win32/FakeVimes Virus…which apparently comes from – are you ready? – surfing the internet. Pretty Scary, huh?

The way I figured it out was this:
I logged off the internet…I figured no one could steal info as long as there was no connection. I don’t even know if that is true, but it made sense in my mind. It seemed to be the thing that saved me. As soon as I logged off, the warnings stopped.
Then I went into the control panel and ran my *real* windows defender. It took a much longer time to scan, and for the most part showed up clean. That is when I got my first clue that the others scans were not legitimate.
Ahhh, but the scan wasn’t 100% clean. There was one threat found- the real culprit- the trojan threat. So, only 1 threat as opposed to 22 that the virus was impersonating. Also, my *real* windows defender allowed me to clean and remove it right away (labeling it as “quarantined”) and I did not have to purchase anything new.
I then went to the Microsoft site to read more about it. Here is the link: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/Threat/Encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?name=Trojan%3aWin32%2fFakeVimes&threatid=4295108636
That is where it showed examples of the exact fake warning that were popping up telling me to purchase the software (which I admit, I actually considered for a mere moment!)
Phew!! Just wanted to share, incase this happened to you. If it has not…perhaps this blog will help you avoid it.