Monday, February 24, 2014

"Someday" is not on the calendar

There is a dream that I have had for about 6 years now. This month, I actually did something to make it happen.

I've been a salsa dancer for most of my adult life. I started dancing when I was 21 and never looked back. I had finally found my identity in life, my purpose. When I went to a salsa club, the feeling of the beats flowing through my body immediately made me feel like a fish who had finally found water.

About a year later I  was introduced to the world of ballroom dancing, and soon after I made a living of teaching dance. A seed was planted at that time. A seed of desire. I began dreaming of owning my own studio someday. I dreamed of my own dance classes, my own name on a business, my own students.

Unfortunately, Someday is not on the calendar. As time went on, my dream slowly became more of a hazy thought. Like a fuzzy memory of a dream after I've woken up too quickly and tried to remember it hours into the day.

After realizing I couldn't make more than minimum wage as a dance teacher, I moved on to the corporate world. This was where I was taught what would later become the roots to that seed. The roots to my dream. As a manager for the corporate office of a small company, I was taught several things about running a business. I worked there for two years, each day I felt my wings growing. I managed the sales, the advertising, the front office staff, the hiring, firing, training of sales reps, assisted in writing a training manual, among other things. By that time I felt like my wings had expanded as far as they could in that environment.

It's been a couple years since I've had that job. My dream, which was a distant memory to say the least, has been awoken in the most startling way.

I've re-enrolled in school to become a court reporter, and I work a part-time job as a size model for Hot Topic. And although I'm in my 30's now, I still struggle to make ends meet. I am always behind on rent, scraping together quarters for gas, and the idea of trying to pay back any debt on my credit report is laughable. I've received my w2's in the mail. I made less than $9,000 last year. I was loathing the feeling of being broke and poor for the rest of my life, like I've felt is my destiny for so many years.

So in early December last year, I decided that I would start teaching salsa lessons to make extra money. I wanted to do it on my own, not look for a studio to work for. So I built a website and posted it on Facebook. Within a week two of my friends who I used to teach with contacted me and said that if I needed help teaching they'd be thrilled to help me out. Both of them are stay-at-home moms now, so I knew they were not expecting, or even wanted, full-time work. They're both highly qualified, skilled, and trained exactly the way I am, so I trust their abilities.

Suddenly my eyes were opened and I started to realize how many more possibilities there were in having three dance teachers instead of just one. I restructured my website, wrote a business plan, put an ad in a local newspaper and applied for a Groupon. I was so excited! But I'm smart enough to know that a successful business is not built over night, and definitely not built with the type of budget I have. With my small budget for advertising, on my opening week I still had no students enrolled. But my excitement is still sky high. I am finally taking steps towards my dream. Towards my dream life. I've found something I'm
passionate about. Where there's a will there's a way!

Steve Jobs once said that you have to be crazy to start a business. The amount of time that you have to put into it and the amount of failures you will have before success would be more than enough to make any sane person give up. I'm already starting to understand what he's talking about. I am proud of myself for taking a step.

I know that the life I'm living now is not the life I'm meant to live. I'm capable of SO much more. I completely resonate with the last scene of Wanted. It sums up exactly how I feel at this moment in my life.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Death to New Year's Resolutions and How to Set Goals

At a mild stab at a new hobby last year, I created this blog as a journal, of sorts, for me to share my thoughts, ideas, and actions for getting out of debt. After writing a few entries, I lost sight of my vision, got bored, and ended up abandoning it after just six entries.

Today I remembered that I had this blog and came to visit it, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? 556 views on my blog! I was utterly amazed. I'm sure that's a small number to some people who blog full time, but for someone who is new to this and did't actively do anything to promote this site for several months, I was ecstatic.

So I am back again (yay for New Year's Resolutions!) to take another stab at it. But to be honest, I don't believe in making resolutions. They are just so vague and ambiguous, and are too easy to lose sight of by February. There's no way to know if you've achieved your resolutions and there's no sense of accountability.

For example, some that I've heard recently include things like: spend more time with family, eat healthier, volunteer, be the best parent I can be, and get more organized. The problem with all these types of 'resolutions' is that there is no way to track your progress. By the time December roles around, if someone were to ask this person how they did with their resolutions, the answers would be just like the resolutions themselves - vague and ambiguous. Who knows if they really did what they wanted to do?

I am a strong advocate for goal setting. And for me, goal setting comes with a lot more than just a goal. It must include a plan of action, check points for progress and a final deadline, a list of people to help me, possible deterrents, things I may need to learn in order to achieve it, and finally, what the benefits will be for achieving the goal. If any of this sounds familiar to you, maybe you're familiar with Zig Ziglar's 7 Steps to Goal Setting.

That's a lot of steps! Sure is a lot more thought than what most people put into their New Year's Resolutions. So here we go....

Goal #1 Write a minimum of one blog entry each month.

This one will be easy enough to track - by the time December gets here, I'll have twelve blog posts, minimum (and I've already go one down!). I'll have until the last day of each month to write, and therefore, I'll also have twelve checkpoints for progress. In the event that I miss a month, I will make up for it the next month. I don't have any friends that are into blogging or tracking personal finance, or (my personal favorite) business, so I will rely on my friends in the blogosphere for my inspiration. A couple of my favorites include Tonya from Budget and the Beach and a couple that blogs together on Planting our Pennies. Both of those blogs are just fantastic! Possible deterrents will be my lack of ideas on topics to write about. So this will force me to be more active in my efforts of saving and budgeting. If I'm doing both of those every month, I'll have something to write about, however small. I like the idea of this goal, because I'll have twelve months of progress to look back on by the time December gets here. Deadline will be December 31, 2014.

Goal #2 Complete the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge

This one will be fun and easy! Best benefit: I'll have $1378 at the end of the year to be proud of. Currently my bank account sits at $0 and has been that way for a while. Reason? Living paycheck to paycheck. I plan on remedying this problem this year by increasing my income, which we'll get to in a minute. This is easy to track progress week by week, and in the event that I somehow get behind, it'll be so easy to catch up. I'm putting a twist on it though. Instead of following it week by week. Each week I'll see how much I'm able to put aside and chose from the list. So on week 5, if I have $10 that I can squirrel away, I'll put it aside and scratch week 10 off the list. On week 35, if I have $50 extra, I'll cross that off the list. If on week 40, I've only got some spare change left, I'll scratch week 1 off the list. There is no way I'll mess up on this one! Deadline will be December 31, 2014.

Goal #3 Start a Dance Company

My favorite one! In my attempts to increase my income, I'm starting a dance company. On February 17, I'll be teaching my first class. I have about 5 years of experience in teaching dance, but I've always worked for someone else. This time I'm venturing out on my own. I have many dance friends to lean on for support, ask questions, use as substitutes and celebrate with! I'm learning how to build a website and I've also found a business that will host a scheduling and payment processing site for me, that I'll be able to link to my website. I'm very excited about this! I have a whole set of plans, goals, deadlines, dates, and charts that go with this one. I'll keep that separate from this post, but I'll keep you updated on my progress and whether or not it even works! LOL Oh! This can be one of my topics to write about each month! See? I'm solving problems already. :)

Those are the three goals that I am going to focus on the most this year. I'm going to be taking two trips this year: one to South Carolina for a sibling reunion, and another to Maine in November to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. I will be conscious not to let either of those get in the way of any of my goals this year! I'm also going to school full time and I already have a part-time job, so I've got a lot on my plate. I look forward to reading this again in December and seeing how the year went!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chasing the American Dream

In my last post I outlined my entire life's worth of goals and a basic outline of how I plan to achieve all of those outlandish desires. I say outlandish because I think if the average American were to look at them, they would not believe I was serious. But I think if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big! It's free, so why not?

The two things I need to work on first are building my AVON business and finishing my degree.
Last weekend I attended my first event as an Avon vendor. It was fun! I did not bring home a handful of cash, like I was hoping for. But I did meet a lot of great people to network with. The next day I immediately sent them all emails and I've retained three customers from that experience. I'm always looking long term, so that day was a success. This weekend coming up I have a two-day event that I'm hoping will be a little bit busier, since they have estimated a higher number of attendants than my first event.

The second thing I'm really focused on is finishing school. I hope that I will be finished up by next year. I started this quarter typing about 50 wpm on my steno machine, and now I'm up to 80 words per minute. I love feeling that progress! Hopefully by the end of Spring quarter I'll be up to 100 wpm at least.

For anyone who feels they are able to generously donate to a student working towards her future, please follow this link to help me out with my Spring Quarter textbooks! Every dollar is greatly appreciated, so please do not feel that any donation is too small. Thank you in advance!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chasing my pot o' gold

So for a while now, I've been meaning to write a post about my goals. I have them all in my head, but they are more like plans than actual goals. For me, in order for a goal to be an official goal, it has to have a deadline, a plan of attack and mini check points to be sure I'm staying on track. Weeks have gone by since I 'planned' on writing this post. One reason is because I don't have a schedule (deadline) for my blog posts, and the second reason is because I realized I don't have any deadlines for any of my goals! All I know right now is what I want to accomplish in life and generally what order those things are going to come in.

It's been hard for me to settle down and take some time to write this post. Right now I feel like my brain is too busy trying to focus on building up my Avon team and making it to my next title advancement. Just a few minutes ago I finally looked at a calendar to figure out how long it'll take for me to do that. I'm torn between two dates. But I think that for the sake of pushing myself a little (actually a lot) I'll go with the first date. So here we go - My goals:

Starting with the most immediate goals

  1. Avon
    • Obtain my next title, Advanced Unit Leader (which is the second step up) by May 31
    • This means I need to have two Unit Leaders, 12 people submitting orders, $250 in my own sales and a team total of $4,500 in sales. 
    • I'd also like to have 30 team members; an increase of 13 new members. If I aim to sign up 5 new team members for each vendor event I have scheduled (eight) between now and April, I will be able to reach that goal, and hopefully surpass it.
    • By November 15 I would like to have 100 customers in my mailing list.
  2. School
    • I'm attending school to obtain an Associates Degree in Certified Shorthand Reporting. I'd like to be finished up by March of 2014. 
  3. Move to Colorado
    • I have absolutely no idea when this is going to happen. It's truly dependent on when I finish up with school.  I have no idea the actual dates of these, but it would be nice if they would happen sometime next summer or fall.
  4. Work as a court reporter
    • The only reason I am going to school for this profession is because many people in this field earn six figure incomes. I'm pretty sure I could handle that kind of money, considering I have $40 in my savings account right now. 
  5. Earn six figures with Avon
  6. Earn six figures with my degree
  7. Buy my first rental property
  8. Buy my first 'me' property
  9. Retire from court reporting
  10. Support my family with Avon and rental properties

Whoa... pretty lofty goals. I'm sure most people would believe I will not achieve all of this. I've never actually seen my own goals in life laid out like that before, I've just had them floating around in my head. I don't talk to anybody about these goals. At least not all of them all at once. My boyfriend knows I plan on doing most of this. My upline knows I plan on making Senior Executive Unit Leader someday. But that's about it. 

I think sharing your goals with someone needs to have some serious consideration behind it. I don't share any of my goals with my mom because I know she doesn't believe all of them can be achieved. She would say 'that would be nice if you could do that.' But that's as far as her input would go. Mostly she would just encourage me to get a job that could support me, but for me getting a job is out of the question, save for the few years (maybe 5-10) that I will work as a court reporter. I think the reason I'll be able to manage that job for a while is because I'm not working in customer service, not in sales and really not trying to promote a business for an owner while I make $8/hour. Court reporters go in to work, sit down and type and later hand over transcripts. Not much interaction with a boss who wants more money. But I digress...

I've had a lot of training on goal setting in all my years of sales experience. Zig Ziglar has the greatest videos on setting goals. Here is a good place to start. As one of the greatest motivational speakers in our time, I'm proud to be able to say that I had the opportunity to see him speak before he passed on.

From Zig Ziglar, I learned that to set a goal, there are 7 steps you have to take in order to be sure you will be successful. I have used these 7 steps many many times, and every time I has kept me going in the right direction. And these can be used for any and every goal you'll ever want to achieve.

I've also read many books and have collected many quotes on goal setting. Here are a few of my favorites:

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.  ~John Dewey

You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.  ~Charles C. Noble

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.  ~Lawrence J. Peter

Goals are dreams with deadlines.  ~Diana Scharf Hunt

So there you have it. And, consequently, so do I. Here's to the next 10 weeks of Avon work. I'll keep you updated on how it goes!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hands off my Starbucks!

One of the things I hate the most about finance articles I read online is how they are always telling you 'NO' to everything that you want. You have to say NO to cable, NO to credit cards, NO to shopping and NO to Starbucks. Many of them include calculations that show how you're spending x amount of dollars on gourmet coffee every year. There's even a blog out there about how one family lives on $14,000/year like it's a good thing. That's pathetic! Why would anyone really want to live on $14,000/year???

Mark Twain once said, "I'm opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position." I'm pretty sure most people would rather have more money than less. So instead of trying to find dozens of ways to cut corners and deprive yourself of what you really want in life, why not find a way to increase your earnings? The wife in that family even started out by saying that she had a shopping habit that was stopping her and her husband from reaching their financial goals together. But instead of trying to find a way to make more money, they decided to cut corners.

Growing up, I've always been told to live below your means. Why do people say that? Why don't people tell you to earn more so that you can live the way that you want to?

The only thing I can think of is that people are afraid to chase their dreams. Or maybe they don't know how to. Schools these days don't dare teach you any business skills, finance skills or how to budget your money. They don't teach you how to invest, or how credit cards are actually a good thing, or how to be a CEO, or even how to set goals in your life! No, instead they consistently crank out employees every year at graduation. The only thing most people know what to do after high school or even after college is that they need to go out and get a job.

One of my near future blog posts is going to include all of my life goals, and I can guarantee you they are not going to include telling you to stop going to Starbucks.

And for my fellow Starbucks lovers who may not be aware of this yet, here's a special treat for you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The safe way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket ~Frank Hubbard

Woohooo! I have just earned a $500 bonus check from AVON for reaching one of my goals! Goal setting does pay off! Hard work does pay off! Imagine that! 

From the day I made the decision to hand over my $10 and sign up to become an AVON representative, I knew that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it all the way. I let my sponsor know that I wanted to immediately get into the leadership program, instead of just the sales program. It was very hard for me to imagine myself actually recruiting other girls, but boy am I glad that I did. 

Zig Ziglar once said, "You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want." I believe in that whole heartily. I hope that the 14 girls who have signed up as a representative with me will also take advantage of the opportunity they have before them.

A part of me wishes that I could say this $500 was going to be spent at the spa, or a shopping trip, or a weekend vacation, or even to pay of a small portion of all the debt I owe. But no, this $500 is going to be spent on the three vendor events I have scheduled between now and next month. The first event that I have scheduled is for a local car show that is a fundraiser event for Arizona Middle School. They have estimated about 350 people to attend. The next event I have scheduled is two nights at the Storm Stadium for six high school championship games and they have estimated approximately 2,000 to attend! I am not even sure, yet, how I am going to prepare for those events, or what supplies I should be bringing. But I'm hoping that I'll be able to find at least 20 more girls who are interested in signing up as AVON representatives over these three events. 

The next goal I am working towards is the Advanced Unit Leader Title. I have just earned my Unit Leader title this week. I have 26 weeks to earn this title if I want to receive the $1,000 bonus check, but since I want that check sooner rather than later, I'm going to try to do it in 6 weeks. I am hoping by the end of this year I will be earning $2,000/month with my AVON income. I feel like I have a better chance at this than to find a job that will pay me that same amount before then. 

Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America.  If I'm not there, I go to work.  ~Robert Orben

Monday, March 4, 2013

Entrepreneurs have two characteristics - ignorance and courage ~Robert Kiyosaki

There are as many pros to being an entrepreneur as there are cons. But I believe that the weight of one pro can outweigh any one, or even several, of those from the con list. Whereas I feel that the con of having a job outweighs even one of its pros.

Obviously, the first pro of having a job is the paycheck. But if you stop right there, we already have a problem. As soon as you take a look at that paycheck stub, you see that the government has already stuck it's grimy little hands into your earnings and taken at least 30% of your hard earned money! I have more problems with that concept than I have time to express.

Other pros can include things like being able to learn skills on the job and you have a few networking opportunities in this situation as well. But other than that, you are a marionette puppet with your strings immediately attached to your employer. They tell you what to do, when to do it, how to do it and how often to do it, when to show up for work, when to leave for lunch and when you're allowed to go home. I am way too stubborn to put up with any of that! I'm an adult, not a child.

If you do even one thing wrong, such as being too attractive or posting a picture of a receipt, or even doing the Harlem Shake you can wake up one day without a job! You are at the mercy of the employer. I've been an employer before. It's not the most fun thing in the world, especially when you have an employee who needs a job yet is no longer capable of performing the required duties. Sometimes you get fired for doing the right thing and likely saving someones life.

As an entrepreneur, you have freedom and flexibility. You set your own goals, you decide what you're going to do, how you're going to do it and when you're going to do it. Your schedule is yours and no one else's. The harder I work, the more money I make. When you have a job, no matter how hard you work one day, you're still earning the same amount of money as the next.

The first entrepreneurial endeavor I plan to accomplish is that of my Avon business. One of my mentors, Donald Trump, once said "If you're going to be thinking anyways, you might as well think big." So if I'm going to be an Avon representative, why not be one of the representatives who has 900 people in their downline and earns $100,000/year? If there are people out there who can do it, why couldn't I be one of those people? I've met those people. The only difference is they've been with Avon a whole lot longer than me.

With a home business, I have the freedom to work on the days I want to work, schedule my camping trips, vacations and lunch dates whenever I want to, and still work towards my ultimate goal. There is a different type of work effort that is involved in being self employed, and requires an acute sense of self discipline in order to accomplish what you want to get out of the freedom. Like Spidy's uncle once said, "With great power comes great responsibility." And so with entrepreneurship, with great freedom comes great responsibilities.

I do everything in life looking at the bigger picture. Right now, my big picture is earning a substantial income and being my own boss. I want to be the type of person who loves what they do for a living.