Cashing in Your 401K for Your Second Act? Think Again.

According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: In 2012, almost a quarter of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs 55 and older, a spike from 14 percent in 1996.

Why this spike?

Many of us grew up with our parent’s view of the American Dream: attending college and graduating with a secure job at a top corporation. We were to be the envy of the neighborhood and the pride of the family. However, that vision was tough to realize. We could give the appearance of success and contentment on the outside, but inside was a different story:

  • The job was too stressful
  • The job was stagnant
  • Competition was fierce
  • There was no room for growth
  • We were restless

Similarly, the 2008/2009 recession left many older employees laid off and unable to find new employment. After a year or two of failed job searches, most pursued their own business ventures.

However, desperation played heavily into the need for employment. On the heels of that desire, was the need for capital to fund our entrepreneurial pursuit—and the new American Dream.

But another question emerged: should we take on a small business loan? Many 50+ entrepreneurs already had debt—mortgage, automobile, student loans (most likely their children’s student loans)—and were hesitant to take on more debt.

Understandable. Especially when retirement was 5 to 10 years away and we still wanted to live that dream.

Another big issue: impatience! We’re over 50! We still have visions of some sort of retirement dream and we’re spinning our wheels on what that will be. We want it now and because of that, we are tempted to make hasty decisions…

…like cashing in the 401K, IRA, or other savings plan. As the Entrepreneur in Action blog writer for Missouri SourceLink, 7 of the 9 second act entrepreneurs I interviewed in the last 2 years have turned to their savings to fund their business.

The appeal:

  • Readily available
  • Involved a large, tempting sum
  • No debt
  • The potential to earn it back

Sounds ideal, right? BUT—consider these points first:

  • Do you have other streams of income to balance the risk?
  • How will this decision influence your financial goals?
  • What will be your revised financial growth plans for the future?
  • What will you do if the business fails?
  • Penalties can account for 30% of the funds available if this option is taken.
  • Are you willing to accept these risks?
  • Are you prepared to work as hard, if not harder, than when you worked in a corporate setting?

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but it’s critical to break through the emotional fog. On the plus side of your vision:

  • You have identified a product or service need
  • The potential to build something to call your own is real
  • You have the chance to live life your own way: stay at home with family, no more commute, flexible work hours, etc.

Do the PROS outweigh the risks?

When in the throes of new business excitement and the emotion kicks into high gear, step back and consider your options.

Unlike during the recession, banks are now willing to work with new and small business. Talk with lending officers. Lots of them. Get the facts and seek the options.

Before cashing in your savings, speak with a financial advisor. There are alternatives available that could be applied to your business that don’t carry as much risk or penalties.

Consult others who have cashed in their savings. Listen to their stories, ask their advice. Make an informed decision.

It’s tempting to dip into that magical money pot, taunting us to spend now, but step back, take a breath and weigh all the options. There are several available to help pursue your new American Dream.

 

Seeking Work/Life Balance? The Family Phone Tree May be the Place to Start

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create” ― Jana Kingsford

You are a busy person: you juggle client calls, appointments, and projects on a daily basis, sometimes simultaneously. Similarly, you field random calls and requests from family members that range from rants, venting, or general (unimportant) information. Yes, there is the occasional emergency, but the likelihood of a true emergency tends to be low.

Most often, family calls are predictable, based on plentiful past experience so when their call arrives in the middle of the work day, we’re faced with a few options:

  • Answer immediately because it’s always a joy to speak to this person.
  • Answer immediately because this particular family member rarely calls and it could be critical.
  • Cringe and decide: do we answer knowing the call is a false alarm?
  • Let the call go to voice mail because we’re working in our business.

When was the last time you pressed your way through a company’s phone tree system? These automated recordings are designed to efficiently direct us to the most knowledgeable or helpful person to handle our need. While they are an annoyance, and I’m not convinced this is efficient for us as the caller, there must be some time savings for the business. Following a recent series of distracting calls from various family members, I wondered how this system would work with the family. Would this feature simplify the work/life balance for a business owner wedged in the Sandwich Generation? Here’s how mine would sound:

Hello my dear Family Members. I’m sorry I cannot answer your urgent call at this moment, but I’m involved with clients at this time. Listen to the following options to best serve your needs. Please listen to the full menu as our options change frequently.

  • Mom/Dad, press 1
  • Spouse/partner, press 2
  • Son/Daughter, press 3
  • Sibling, press 4
  • All other family members, press 5

(You will need to personalize your family phone tree for best results.)

Beyond the first level of categories, there would be some similarities. Here is how I would define level 2:

  • Press 1 if you are calling because someone won’t eat their dinner.
  • Press 2 if the family member won’t complete their chores.
  • Press 3 if another family member is annoying you.

You’ll also need to include additional categories for each group:

For your parents (in my case, my mother), I need to include:

  • Press 4 if this is a news flash about April the Giraffe
  • Press 5 if this is regarding the latest political gossip
  • Press 6 if you are worried about something

For your partner/spouse, include:

  • Press 4 if you want to discuss what to have for dinner
  • Press 5 to compare the latest story from our children
  • Press 6 if you want to tell me details about your latest World of Warship battle

For Son/Daughter, include:

  • Press 4 if you are complaining about work
  • Press 5 if you are venting about life in general
  • Press 6 if this is a request for money
  • Press 7 if you are seeking advice which you plan to ignore

For those that receive the rare call from extended family members (cousin, aunt, estranged family member), this signifies something potentially critical, so it’s wise to answer immediately.

Regardless of which direction the person-in-question blunders through the family phone tree, they must record their message, which will then be queued in order of pre-determined urgency. Then on a break, you can address the issues in order of importance.

There are many joys to being a business owner and working from home, but dealing with family members is one of the darker sides of business ownership. It’s best to treat with love, patience, a bit of humor, and the family phone tree. Would such a system improve your quest for work/life balance?

Perhaps there’s an entrepreneur out there who recognizes this need and is building a prototype now!

Kristen Edens

What did you want to be when you grew up?


A doctor? A fireman? An actor? An astronaut?

That question catapults us back to our youth, often with a smile, recalling our youthful answer to that question. Now that we’re a few decades older, have you pursued your childhood dream of becoming a…? What twists and turns got you to where you are now? What obstacles, doubts, or fears did you have to overcome? Or are you still pursuing your goal?

At age 8, I knew I would be a writer. It started with journaling my dreams and progressed to fiction writing: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and romance. I played with several niches without specializing in one. With Dad’s encouragement, I pursued anything related to writing with the intent to be a writer ‘when I grew up’. When it came time to enter college, Dad asked, “What are you going to study?”

“English and writing.”

“That will make a nice hobby, but it isn’t something that will support you,” he debated.

The argument continued for 2 years. While I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dad lovingly, and with the best intention, signed me up for courses he thought would lead to a stable career: chemistry, biology, computer science while I filled the electives with anything related to writing.

At the end of my second year, still an undecided major, Dad once again sat me at the kitchen table and gave me the ultimatum, “You have two weeks to name a major or you’re out of college.”

Those were the most stressful two weeks of my life. On the chosen day, I faced Dad across the kitchen table with Mom sitting between us. “Well?” he glared.

“Writing,” I mumbled, on the verge of tears.

“Try again!”

“Exercise Physiology.”

The look my parents gave me was unforgettable. If I hadn’t been so frightened, I would have laughed.

“What the hell is ‘exercise physiology’?” there was a distinct sneer in his voice.

After I explained the extensive medical and science background involved, the career opportunities, and income potential, Dad roared, “No daughter of mine is going to sweat for a living!”

I cried. Dad cussed. My brothers fled the house. Mom waited for the right moment. “Bill, dear, she fulfilled your requirements. So which will it be—writing or…exercise physiology?”

By 1986, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine at BGSU, and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at Utah State University in 1990.

However, it took me until 1999 to get a job in my ‘chosen’ profession, with a 45-minute one-way commute over a mountain pass (no kidding), working 3 days per week at a dollar above minimum wage. In my off hours, I secretly wrote: stories, articles, resumes, poems, anything to keep my desire-to-be-a-writer alive. I was a niche-less wonder, but enjoyed it all. As Dad predicted, it became a nice hobby. I submitted fiction stories with occasional success, but never gave up. I was still determined to become a writer.

A window of opportunity opened while attending the Cache County Fair. A friend had a booth promoting his fly-fishing shop and was asking passers-by to enter his tagline contest. Intrigued, I read the existing entries added mine, and won. Because of the overwhelming response to my tagline, he asked me to write catalogue descriptions and a brochure. The big bonus: he offered to pay for my writing! Up until then, I had been writing for free, believing ‘free’ would get my writing ‘out there’. That experience became my first entrepreneurial pivot, with a new focus on copywriting.

The second, and scariest opportunity occurred in 2008. I quit the hospital job to pursue writing full-time. I was on the verge of divorce and needed a sustainable income to support myself. By 2009, I still wasn’t making enough to comfortably support a gnat, but the home life was no longer tolerable. In the midst of the economic recession, with no job, and only $729/month as income, I divorced, left the state and moved in with my cousin. I was terrified, heartbroken, and desperate.

Unaware of the true economic impact, I applied to jobs, but soon learned no one was hiring, especially a 45 year old, unemployed exercise physiologist with an outdated degree. Down, but not out, I cast all of Dad’s wisdom of a ‘stable career’ out the window and buckled down as a copywriter.

With my cousin’s help, I built a website and learned the basics of social media. I cussed and cried as I struggled with all the technical intricacies of owning an online business. Writing jobs began to pick up and I was becoming known as the outsourced writing expert for microbusinesses.

Yet the growth didn’t stop there. While I built a business, I also struggled with extreme social anxiety. In my early days as an entrepreneur, I dreaded networking and promoting myself, but knew it had to be done. What had started out as hours of ‘parking lot panic’ before an event, developed into blogs about how to overcome our fears in order to grow a business. The blogs led to offering a series of one-on-one sessions to teach ‘Social Success for the Quiet Entrepreneur’ at a local co-working space. The sessions filled up fast and I soon received requests for private coaching.

Over the last 8 years, I have learned that pursuing our goals isn’t as scary as thinking about it. We paralyze ourselves by the what-ifs, that we never take that first step. Additionally, I listened to, and believed, others who told me my ideas wouldn’t work. When I refused to believe it any further, I took a leap of personal faith. Whatever would happen, I had to trust that something would happen, and that I would be a stronger person for it. What has emerged is a joy of writing, solving content catastrophes for my clients, and an opportunity I never expected: encouraging introverts and others to pursue their own opportunities.

What did I want to be when I grew up? A writer! Did I expect to write for businesses? To become an introvert coach? To own my own business?

NO!!

However, I’m enjoying it all because I accepted the challenges and pursued them as far as they could go. The added bonus is the thrill of discovering what’s yet to come.

What’s your entrepreneurial/growing up story?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Revelations by our Adult Children: Confessions and Lame Excuses, part 2

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. –George Washington

When we become parents, something amazing happens. Yes, we instantly bond with our child, but a sixth sense also emerges. The eye in the back of our head evolves. We learn our child’s habits and personality. We also understand the necessity of playing dumb if we want to have some clue of what our children are up to. When they start telling tall tales, we are (mostly) able to distinguish fact from fiction, but still brush off our sixth sense alarm because we believe ‘my child wouldn’t do that!’ However, the truth emerges later that yes, my child would do, and DID do, that often. Brace yourself for a collection of lame excuses from parents who knew better but were still trapped:

  • A daughter tearfully claimed to be short on cash and struggling to make rent payment. She asked her mother to buy a $200 chemistry book then a week later put a $300 down payment on a $1000 pure breed dog.
  • An Army-reservist son would calmly answer any too-personal query with ‘it’s confidential’, regardless of the question. This convenient reply continued for 2 years after his military service was complete.
  • When parents would ask why their daughter never called to check in at a required time, she would say she left her phone at home. Her cell phone GPS stated otherwise.
  • When a son was asked why he didn’t renew his license plates before the deadline, he replied he had been too stressed to do so.
  • While the father’s car was in the shop for repairs, he asked his son to pick him up after work since the son had his own car (purchased and insured by the father). After being stranded for several hours and finding an alternative ride home, the son stated his phone ran out of juice AND he had other plans with friends.
  • A daughter went against her father’s wishes and moved in with the boyfriend anyway—into an 18-foot trailer, on the boyfriend’s parent’s property. The city later fined the youngsters and it became a rush to find an apartment for the daughter, the boyfriend, and a menagerie of exotic pets. The father paid all expenses, only to have them break up a few months later. When the boyfriend moved out, he shut off all utilities and didn’t tell the ex-girlfriend. The daughter again called dad for help, claiming she had no money, as a pizza-delivery driver, to pay the connection fees.
  • Then there’s the all-time favorite teens & twenty-somethings have tossed out for generations: I forgot.

Are you cringing? What is a parent to do? My best advice is to check in with your spouse, partner or significant other to compare stories; they will vary from person to person, and you may be able to extract elements of truth from the parental collaboration.

On the brighter side: some parents are blessed enough to eventually receive statements of ‘you were right’, ‘I understand now’, or ‘I’ve learned my lesson’. Some of these lame excuses may emerge as confessions later in life, but for now, we must suffer through with love, patience, tolerance, and a little humor. Then maybe when the confessions roll in, you’ll solve some deep family mysteries.

What are some of the lame excuses you have received? What advice can you offer?

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

Adventures in Outsourcing: Realtor

DSCN2653Have you ever noticed how our life appears to be going well one moment and then something unexpected forces us to redirect our path?
Most of the time, these issues appear to pop up out of the blue, but they sneak up on us with such stealth, that we’re unaware the situation is about to explode. Such a situation fell upon my household which culminated July 2016. There were warning signs, but I didn’t put the hints together:

  • My house was showing signs of age:

o Leaking roof
o Multiple woodpecker nests and holes
o Air conditioning repair
o Plumbing issues
o Soffit and fascia decay

  • My roommate’s health was limiting his ability to maintain the household
  • Extensive household repair and knowledge was not my forte
  • 2+ acres of land was requiring more attention than I had time for
  • The home owner I rented from was moving—to Canada.

Add to that my daughter’s month-long bout with pneumonia, my own bout with bronchitis, and a lice scare at my granddaughter’s day care. July was a challenging month for all.

A change was needed and it meant downsizing. It also meant reaching out to a realtor for solutions. I chose Patrick Lane of Patrick Lane Real Estate. I knew him from previous networking events, but also as a client. We already had a professional working relationship and I enjoyed his enthusiasm and dedication to his profession. Plus, during our project interview, he said something that made me chuckle at first, but came to be the reason I chose his realty services:

“I’ll tackle the challenging real estate situation.”

Well…I definitely had a challenging situation!

As all my other outsourcing adventures, this one began with a phone call July 18, 2016. Patrick was pleased to hear from me and flattered that I reached out to him. During our 30-minute call, we discussed my real estate and relocation needs, which included these questions:

• What’s your motivation for the move?

o Life event? Downsizing? Timeline?

• What are your must-have essentials for your new living space?

o School district? Extra bedroom? Pets allowed?

• What are you willing to sacrifice to meet these essentials?

o Determine the absolutes to avoid move-in mistakes.

Those 30 minutes were informative to me as well as Patrick and I was more at ease. The only challenge I had was working around my writing schedule, caregiving activities, and bronchitis.

The good news: Patrick and I scheduled three site visits on July 21, 2016. The second site, a duplex, was my new dream home. Patrick advised me on the application process and I was approved in less than one week. From initial contact, to site visit, application, approval, the move, and writing this blog in my new home office was 27 days. Here’s another thumbs up for outsourcing to the experts!

What are your outsourcing fears? What was the first task you outsourced? I’ll be sharing more of my outsourcing adventures so watch for more. Comment below and share with others who are ready for an adventure in outsourcing.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
Making Midlife Better!

Outsourcing Perspectives—Social Media

Monkey Logo FinalHave you ever wondered how a social media consultant manages his or her day? How many clients can they handle? How do they get stuff done so fast when it would take me HOURS to do one ‘simple’ task?

As part of my Adventures in Outsourcing blog series, I’m adding stories from an outsourced expert’s point of view, called Outsourcing Perspectives. First on my list is Mich Hancock of 100th Monkey Media. I hired her in January 2016 to help manage my social media activity. Since that time, here is a summary of the greatness gained from hiring Mich.

•    Twitter posts have increased from <100 tweets to 1713 as of July 31, 2016.
•    Followers have increased from 212 to 442.
•    She helped me build my Facebook group, Grandparents in Business, with nearly 30 followers.
•    Grandparents in Business gets 10+ daily viewers.
•    Kris the Scribbler’s Facebook page views have increase from <10 views per post to nearly 100!
•    Increased likes, comments, shares, and interaction from all platforms.
•    I’m learning more through working with Mich than from DIY!
•    Hours saved: easily 2 hours/day: since I didn’t understand social media, I would have read articles, observed others’ habits, looked for easy patterns and trends, practiced, posted, messed up, gotten frustrated, and probably cussed a little. And let’s not forget social media distraction! With Mich’s continued support and combined help from my virtual assistant, my involvement time is now ~5 hours/month.
•    The cost: $195/month

Now, for the other side of the partnership. Here are Mich’s answers to those burning questions:

michHow do you help business owners?

We create a dynamic social media presence for their business, as well as manage the pages for them; keep conversations flowing with their audience, addressing concerns and alerting clients to any activity that may require their attention. Our goal is to make it appear as if you have a social media team on staff.

What is the common complaint/pain you address when they reach out to you?

We help businesses that feel lost in social media world, they feel they’ve missed the boat and are being left behind. We can get them up and running quickly. Also, those that simply do not have the time to keep up with daily posting, management and the myriad of social media changes and updated.

How do you initiate a working relationship with your new clients?

We meet and discuss their goals, how to align social media with those goals and how they are most comfortable with sending information to us, whether it be via text, email or through social media channels. We are their megaphone, so whatever information they wish to make sure to get out there, we help them get it out there. Plus, we get to know them, their business, their culture and their voice so we can truly represent them on social media.

What’s a typical day like for you?

For my staff, they are posting, writing blogs, watching the pages, creating and curating content. I meet with clients and potential clients, market 100th Monkey Media and am the face of the company. I also look at our client’s overall social media existence and offer ideas on ways to make them shine. All of us keep up on trends and create content that keeps our clients socially relevant and a part of the conversations going on online.

How many clients can you handle?

We are constantly growing. In fact, we are right now looking for someone who can write, create posts and understand how to use the social media tools.

How do you handle your own sick days or vacation days?

Our staff is awesome, we all pitch in when someone needs to take a day or days off, whether that be due to sickness or vacation.

What tips do you have for business owners seeking your services?

Email us at monkey@100thmm.com or call us at 636-789-1776.

What are some of the obstacles you encounter when working with your clients?

Mainly, expectations. Social media, for whatever reason, has a reputation for creating overnight success. This is far and few between, but gets amazing coverage when it happens. In reality, it takes time, and it is an investment. It takes consistency in posting and engagement, over and over again, in order to get noticed on line.

Anything else? Any interesting tidbit you’d like to include?

We love what we do! We are exactly what any business needs in order to start their social media journey or bring it up to the next level. We have many happy clients that have been with us for a long time – evidence that we really do well for those we serve.

Thanks to Mich and her excellent team, I am enjoying the growth and interaction from improved social media activities.

What are your outsourcing experiences? Comment below and share this with others who are ready to step into their own outsourcing adventure!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
Don’t fight it. Let me write it!

Adventures in Outsourcing: Health Insurance Broker

blog-1337564_1280

Running a business requires many experts to build, develop, and continue to grow a business. On the development side is the web developer, social media expert, and graphic designer. On the support side of business-ownership are: accountant, virtual assistant, and business coach. Then there are experts that we need because we’re self-employed. One of those experts is a health insurance broker. Whether we are the sole-provider for our family’s health insurance or providing for ourselves, we need health coverage. It’s confusing enough to keep up with the buzzwords within the health care industry:

•    Monthly Premiums
•    Co-pay
•    In-network eligibility
•    coverage options
•    Out-of-pocket costs
•    Deductibles
•    Co-insurance
•    Maximum out of pocket
•    Subsidies
•    Major medical & short-term insurances

Not to mention changes continually occurring within the health care industry and government policies. How do we keep track of it all?

At first, I tried. I read blogs. Listened to webinars. Attended seminars provided by SCORE and the local hospital. They all made it sound simple, but one message was clear: hire a broker.

So the search began. I read blogs. Listened to webinars…you get the idea. Then I met Diane Finnestead at a local networking meeting. I asked her a few questions:

•    What kind of insurance do you provide?
•    How many companies do you broker?
•    What’s the process for working with a broker?

Then she fired some unexpected personal questions back at me:

•    What’s your monthly income? (needed to determine subsidy eligibility and affordable options)
•    What insurance have you had in past?
•    How was your past insurance used?
•    Are you seeking insurance for others or just yourself?

I was hesitant to answer, but realized these were standard questions. Unless I answered them, she wouldn’t be able to help me.

After whispering my answers in her ear amidst a bustling networking crowd, she smiled and said, “I know a few programs that should fit your needs. If you give me your email address, I’ll send over a few more questions and then I’ll begin my search.”

I don’t believe I handed over a business card that fast before. I would have happily answered more personal questions or showed her my lung surgery scar if she asked. The relief was tremendous!

Less than 24 hours later, Diane had three programs to choose from. We got on the phone to discuss the benefits of all and which best suited my needs. She was quick with answers. She knew her business. She came up with the ideal program right away.

On my own, it would have taken me weeks, possibly months, to accomplish. By now, I felt like an outsourcing champ! Another outsourcing adventure met with success, saving me hours of time, energy, and frustration. (Diane can best be reached through LinkedIn or by texting her at 314-302-5743)

What are your outsourcing fears? What was the first task you outsourced? I’ll be sharing more of my outsourcing adventures so watch for more. Comment below and share with others who are ready for an adventure in outsourcing!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
Making Midlife Better!

What Does 50 Look Like to a 25 year old?

Sept. 2. 2014 resizedLast week I shared insights from 50 year olds on what it means to be 50. Being that my daughter, 25, inspired the blog, I followed up with viewpoints from others her age.

The original question, What does 50 look like to you? got these responses:

Pauline McLain, 1991, single mother, full-time CNA, part-time nursing student, Missouri:
Many look unhappy, probably because of regrets. I felt my life was going that way but that changed because I now know what I’m doing with my life.

Tiffany Cullum, 1993, married, Alaska, part-time employee at Fred Meyer, working on medical billing and coding certificate:
50 to me looks like just a number & obtaining a golden buckeye card (unless they’ve changed the age for that)

Stevan Jechura, 1992, self-employed graphic designer, Ohio:
It looks more relaxed, more settled-down. I don’t think there would be much difference. More stable employment and politics.

Alyse Baddley, 1990, married, stay-at- home mom, Idaho:
50 doesn’t look all that far away anymore! When I think of 50 I think of my mother and father still living and working as I expect we will still be at that age. I think of the life that I am living now, just a different season. Instead of having babies and raising children, I’ll be playing with grand babies and sleeping in!

Bonnie Easley, 1991, married, stay-at- home mom, Utah:
Time to focus on personal goals and relationships. Hobbies. Family.

What are your personal, professional, and financial goals for the next 25 years?

Pauline:
Personal goals would be to have a family, a big house, and a small farm. Professional goal is finishing nursing school and working in a hospital or doctor’s office as an RN.  Financial goal is to be able to afford everything I want and still have money left over and have a high credit score.

Tiffany:
My personal goals are to raise my children to be respectable adults, to have a home in a good neighborhood, and to hopefully start a pit bull rescue organization. My professional goals are to have a secure job doing medical billing & coding or something similar as well as get my bachelor’s degree. Financial goals I would have to say would be to make enough money between my husband and me so that we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck and to have money set aside for college for my kid(s).

Stevan:
Personally, save and invest; to not have an image that is too specific for my future. Ride the wave, to go where the opportunities are rather than be stubborn about what I think 50 should be like. Professionally—to become a professor and stay in academia, work on policy issues rising with tech; teach newer generations.

Alyse:
When I turn 50 I hope to have a place of my own, of course my hubby can live there too.???? I dream of having a small hobby farm with goats and chickens, maybe a pony. I still want to spend my days outside in the garden or with my family. If I had the choice to go back to school I think I’d like to study Anthropology and history that is always really interested me. Honestly I don’t really have a desire to go back to school for a specific career and this time just a desire to learn and study new things. And if I had to work I hope that I would be able to work closely with people more so even with small children. I’ve always found that highly enjoyable I guess that’s why I love being a stay- at-home mom.

Bonnie:
Raising my babies to be kind and sensible human beings. Buying a house and developing our homestead with my husband. Being financially secure enough to not live paycheck to paycheck.

What advice do you have for others your age? For 50 year olds?

Pauline:
Have goals and reach them, no matter how hard. Don’t come up with excuses not to do them. It’s worth it. 50 year olds need to smile more.

Tiffany:
My advice for other 25 year olds would be to not work your life away. Go out and explore the world and have fun.  My advice for 50 year olds would be to lighten up and enjoy life and to be more accepting of others.

Stevan:
Age-based advice has rarely ever worked for me, and I doubt any advice I could come up with would work for anyone else. Such advice would rely on vague stereotypes of where someone “should” be at a certain point in their life, which isn’t universal. Everyone goes at their own pace, and in my mind that’s entirely acceptable, if not expected.

Alyse:
I don’t know that I have any advice for anyone other than be the best person you can be and don’t live for anyone but yourself. I suppose that is applicable to people of all ages.

Bonnie:
Think about the decisions you make, but don’t keep putting your life off because you’re waiting for the perfect timing. Put in the effort to take care of yourself and your relationships. If something is worth it, fight for it. Same advice holds true for every one of every age.

In conclusion:

Most of us have children in this age group so how do these answers influence your views? Do you feel you need to smile more? Lighten up? Be more accepting—of yourself and others? How do their views help you to understand them or you?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
Making Midlife Better!

Reduce Stress with an Emergency Response System for Your Business

Lifebuoy - blog - resizedI recently shared vacation prep tips for business, but there is another part to the story: emergency prep tips for business. A vacation is always planned in advance, but when emergencies strike, they occur at any time without warning, and without any time to plan.

The best time to plan for an emergency is now. Regardless of the type of emergency: health, family, natural disasters, or business emergencies, having a system in place will keep you on top of the situation. With help from Lisa Smelcer and Jennifer Tamborski of Virtual Admin Experts, we have compiled this list of tips to put into gear seconds after an emergency strikes:

TOP TIP: When an emergency strikes, the first step is to be calm and stay focused. Remember—this is a temporary situation.

Business tips from Lisa:

Have a backup person, contractor, temp or freelancer to handle the situation. This person or agency needs to be found BEFORE an emergency. Explore and interview several agencies or freelancers to find one you like. When an emergency occurs, you already know who to call. If you have a team, let them address the necessary tasks.

Reschedule appointments: Place an ‘out of office’ notice within your email tool stating you have a family or personal emergency. Include an option that says if immediately attention in needed to reply and put URGENT in the subject line. These emails will be addressed first upon your arrival back to the office.

Keep a list of clients you are CURRENTLY doing work for. If you need to leave, you can easily hand over contact information about your clients (to your VA, team members, or freelancer) and where you are with each project. Put past clients on a separate list if you need to contact them.

Make a priority list before you go, if possible. Tackle the most important tasks before you leave or assign which team members will be responsible for each. Then trust your team to get it done.

Keep your team updated as events unfold so they can act appropriately on your behalf.

Business tips from Jennifer:

Include an out of office notice to your voicemail as well. It can be the same or similar to what you put in your email.

Add your business partner or assistant’s contact info to the voicemail and email.

Cancel appointments on your calendar for the next x days.

  • With an assistant, leave the task of cancelling and rescheduling to them.
  • With a partner, allow them to take those appointments for you or reschedule for a later date.

Kris tips:

If your emergency takes you away from your home base, keep these items handy for convenience:

  • Device chargers
  • Phones
  • IDs
  • Contact info
  • Emergency cash
  • Family/friend support
  • Snacks
  • Something to calm you—reading, music, etc.

In the midst of an emergency, you’ll want a system that is simple and quick to implement. Following this list will make it happen.

What stress-reducing emergency tips do you have? Share below!

Kristen Edens
Making midlife better!

Picture courtesy of Pixabay