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So You Want to Start a Small Business

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Have you ever dreamed of working for yourself or being your own boss? Wherever you are on the path to entrepreneurship, AARP is here to help. Felicia Brown (@febrown67) is leading AARP’s small business initiative to educate aspiring entrepreneurs. Ask her about your business ideas, writing a business plan, sources of funding, and more.

 

Ask AARP Expert Felicia about starting a small business!

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AARP Expert

@tspott it must be a good feeling to be at that place of retirement and can now decide on your "what next".  Based on what you've decribed, wanting to find work that you can do online - from the comforts of your home, I would encourage you to explore several online gig platforms that offer opportunities for you to use your skills and talents to earn money.  I would start with several that i'm aware of like PennyHoader, Thumbtack, SpareHire, Freelancer, Etsy, Upwork, Fiverr, SkillsShare - to name a few.  While I dont know exactly what you would be interested in, starting here may be a good launching pad for you.  I would also encourage you to goggle stay at home jobs.  In your search just be aware that there are scams.  Read carefully how you actually earn your money and read reviews from others about the company.  Happy Retirement and be sure to visit someplace fun!

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AARP Expert

@King1982 I would recommend you reach out to SCORE or your local SBA Business Development Center.  They have representatives who can help you develop, tweak and finalize a plan that meets your business needs.  SBA also has a tool where you can develop the plan, save and edit as necessary, but first view AARP's video (https://aarptek.aarp.org/write-a-business-plan/) to learn the key elements of a business plan and other tools at www.aarp.org/50plusentrepreneurship.

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AARP Expert

@bm6658 here is some information about an EIN  -

Though it's commonly called an employer Identification Number (EIN), there are times when you may need an EIN even though you do not have employees. An EIN can be used to identify a business entity that is legally separate from yourself, such as your corporation, partnership or retirement plan. Generally, businesses need an EIN. One exception is a sole proprietor with no employees. However, sole proprietors who must pay federal excise or payroll taxes will need an EIN, too.

Frequently asked questions about whether you need an EIN and how to apply for one can be found at the Small Business/Self Employed section of the IRS website.

If you need to apply for an EIN, complete Application for Employer Identification Number (IRS Form SS4). The instructions to Form SS-4 and Publication 1635 provide addresses and fax numbers by geographic location for submitting your application. Publications and forms are available by phone at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).  For questions about your business I would consult a local SBA Development Center.  You can walk in rather than waiting from someone to call you from SCORE.

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Contributor

A DBA is only Doing Business As: Some Fictitious Name but is really just you as far as the IRS is concerned so they will be using your SS#. And even if you get an EIN, it is pretty much a pass thru on your personal return.

DBA's provide NO LIABILITY PROTECTION. If you do not want your personal assets as risk, you may want to now, or later when you have enough interaction with the public to be concerned, to obtain an LLC or Corporation. There will be some added book work and expenses. And an EIN will be required.

SCORE can help you prepare a business plan and an application for an SBA loan if desired, Experience in the field with a proven track record will be very helpful. You will probably be required to have Debt not to exceed 3 times your equity (personal investment). Skin in the game gives
lender a higher level of confidence. To capitalize beyond that will probably require you to have a partner with some added financial strength and/or experience.
Two years (24 mo) is a likely target for a banking relationship, or a business relationship.

Good Luck
Don
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Newbie

Yes, this is what I'm looking for. I've given up on the job search. There's too much competition; there's age discrimination. The last in-person interview I had was for a PR position with a start-up. The very last interview was with two girls young enough to be my grandaughters. They had already hired a surfer dude, about 30 years old, who admitted he couldn't write. My guess is I didn't fit their Apple-like culture. I don't even have a smart phone. So, anyway, I'm a former journalist and assistant professor of English in his 60's. I wrote commercial blogs most recently. The pay was pathetic. So I've gone back to starting my own business, which I started to do in 2014, but it was too slow, not bringing in enough money. But now I don't have much of a choice. What I plan to do is to be a writing consultant and to start a business called Literate in a Minute. I haven't gone through the formal dba process yet. So for now, it's just W. Curry, PhD, Writing Consultant. I've spent about $300 advertising in a church bulletin but no luck, so I'm offering a free initial consultation. The client sends me a speech, resume, letter, essay, whatever. If the client is in business, I just fix it for him/her. If a student, I mark weak spots and give examples of something done right that he/she is doing wrong. To all I offer overall advice. I own the domain name, literateinaminute.com, where you'll find a perfectly horrible website, but it does have contact info. Part of the problem is I started writing it in 2014, when my target was professionals, then came back to it in 2017, when I decided to include students. My message was originally, just let me do it; you don't know the difference between "everyday" and "every day." But my message to students is "I'm not going to write this for you. You need to learn it." Anyway, since 2014 Weebly, the web host, has gone from easy to write to difficult. I don't need their bells and whistles. One afternoon I spent maybe three hours with phone support trying to access my old site. We failed. Then my 14-year-old son arrived from school. He had me up and running in about a minute and a half. My 12-year-old got me in checkmate after 3-4 moves the first time we played. So I have a good brain trust behind me. But, seriously, I want to start Literate in a Minute in part to give English grads, probably at least MAs, a place to work. The academic job market for liberal arts majors is brutal. Unfortunately, I don't even have a car at the moment. Some woman stopped for no apparent reason at a green light, causing a three-car collision, as the road was slick from a recent rainstorm. My car was the only one disabled, and I didn't have comprehensive insurance. Even though the collision was the woman's fault, legally, the guy in back is always to blame. That's why I left law school. I don't believe in blind justice. I'd like to see a lawyer ski down a mountain blindfolded, with no help from another skier. He/she might have an epiphany if he/she lived. Anyhow, I've been pretty much living on the edge financially. On the bright side is my wife, unless the email had a typo, will be inheriting a small fortune in a few days. I'm serious. My father-in-law died last summer, and his will just came out of probate. Apparently, he was a wealthy man. So, if she gets the money, I'm sure she would invest in my company or supplement my pathetic Social Security check and I could retire. On the other hand, my mother-in-law typed the email and the number of zeros behind the dollar sign could be a mistake. Then I'm stuck trying to start a business w/a checking account, the balance of which goes down every month. I believe the contact person is Ms. Felicia Brown. I'd like her advice in both cases. One, if I have a pile of money behind me, and two, if I'm almost broke and don't want to borrow. One credit card is killing me as it is. Well, that's all I have to say. Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Periodic Contributor

A great place to find writing gigs is to visit Upwork.com or Fivver. com. These are online communities that host job listings for independent contractors and freelancers. It's a wonderful place where many folks from many industries find work. I highly recommend that you visit Upwork.com, I have hired many talented people from Upwork.
Living the Dream!
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I would love to see the responses to this gentleman questions from Ms. Alecia. However, I would like to let this gentleman knows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Networking is critical at this point. I mean great networking. You will need to connect with people that are serious about running a business. I want to open a language school in China and the US where both Chinese and English is taught. I would welcome you if you are interested. Your educational background is valuable overseas unfortunately in the US they do not see to appreciate education, experience and true talents. Let me know if you are or for anyone who might be interested email me at [email address removed to protect your online privacy]

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AARP Expert

@MaximeD823154 networking is good advice for someone interested in starting a business.  It is equally important to network with someone your desired industry so you can talk with people who have perhaps encountered similar challenges, can align you with additional networks where you can connect and receive solid advice.  Networking is also key if you are seeking full or part-time employment.  Regarding your language school in China, I wish you well with that endeavor.  I'm sure you will have lessons to share about launching a business internationally.

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Dear Bill,

 

This is the most delightful tale I've read in a very long time.  I hope you don't mind but I had to laugh (several times) at your remarks - great stories!  I hope you find a way to make it work because I love your business idea and the name, Literate in a Minute.  It's great for people in business and English grads but I'm not sure a student would have the patience to rewrite with your corrections/suggestions (slackers).  My guess is that they would want you to just do it.  The way you write is very entertaining.  Have you ever thought of writing a book that includes your life stories?  It's humorous and I think you'd do well.  I would buy a copy. 

 

I checked out your website and read your blog from 9/2017.  If you're blogging it's a good idea to do it consistantly...weekly or bi-weekly.  If you include a photo in the blog it adds some visual interest. Did you know that you can embed it on your Facebook page?  Then it will link back from Facebook to your website. I see you worked at BlogMutt so you probably already know that.

 

Best Wishes,

Vicky Lynn

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Good morning and welcome to the AARP Online Community!

 

This is a great chance to connect with an AARP Work & Job experts. "Starting A Small Business" is the final in a series of topics brought to you by AARP.

 

Ask AARP Expert Felicia Brown (@FeeBrown) your questions and share your stories here!

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Contributor

Hi, I am so ready to retire and at the same time I still want to work part-time but online.  I have many creative skills and know my way around the internet and social media quite nicely but trying to put it all together to create an idea of what I can do is eluding me.  Help!  My husband and I want to travel and work part-time via our laptops.  I can't seem to find jobs that allow us to do this.  Any ideas?  Thanks so much for your time.  Toni 

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AARP Expert

@tspott it must be a good feeling to be at that place of retirement and can now decide on your "what next".  Based on what you've decribed, wanting to find work that you can do online - from the comforts of your home, I would encourage you to explore several online gig platforms that offer opportunities for you to use your skills and talents to earn money.  I would start with several that i'm aware of like PennyHoader, Thumbtack, SpareHire, Freelancer, Etsy, Upwork, Fiverr, SkillsShare - to name a few.  While I dont know exactly what you would be interested in, starting here may be a good launching pad for you.  I would also encourage you to goggle stay at home jobs.  In your search just be aware that there are scams.  Read carefully how you actually earn your money and read reviews from others about the company.  Happy Retirement and be sure to visit someplace fun!

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Contributor

Thanks so much for your feedback. I will look into those sites. 

 

Toni

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AARP Expert

So, it's day three of our online community conversation around starting a business.  I wanted to end by providing some information on funding your business.  We all know that funding is the most challenging obstacle small business encounter either during the start-up or growth phase of the business cycle.  While in the start-up phase we find that many small businesses are not quite ready to secure a loan from SBA or their local banking institution and find it difficult to open the door.  Non-traditional funding as become a viable option for many.  Here are some options to consider - Angel Investors, persons who might be interested in investing in your business that may include family and friends, lending groups, and/or individuals;  Microloans, having more flexible repayment options include entities such as Kiva and Kabbage; and, Crowdfunders, people who are willing to invest in your idea, such GoFundMe and Kickstarter.  These are just a few suggestions for those who are ready to get started.

 

I encourage you to continue to submit your questions and suggestions.  Again, I invite you to attend AARP's two upcoming events on Feb 19 and Feb 21.  You can register for both at www.aarp.org/startabusiness.

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Gold Conversationalist

I am hoping to find a successful business partner for a mentor or a business owner who is interested in investors in their venture.

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AARP Expert

@SIMPLEGAL I'm not so sure I understand your question.  Are you looking for a business partner; looking to mentor a small business owner help start and/or grow their business; or, looking to invest in a small business?  If you are looking for a business mentor, I suggest you look to SCORE (https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/score) and find a local office in your locale.  They have proven success on helping business thrive.  If you are looking to serve as a mentor, you can volunteer with SCORE to offer your business expertise.  If you are looking to invest in a business, one place to visit is www.KIVA.org where you can find a list of microbusinesses in need of financial assistance. 

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AARP Expert

Good afternoon!  AARP is here to answer your question(s) about Starting a Business.  This year, we are hosting some informative sessions via Webinars and Telephone Town Halls, which you can find more information about here in the Online Community.  In addition, we are exploring the creation of some online tools that will help aspiring entrepreneurs launch a business.  I invite you to visit www.aarp.org/50plusentrepreneurship to explore the various learning tools available that span from developing a business to pitch to financing and marketing your business.  If there is something you'd like to see AARP do to increase your learning and success, please let us know.  In the meantime, if you have a question, please don't hesitate to ask, now.

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I am interested in starting a 'sewing' business out of my home in Las Vegas, NV.  What do I need to do as far as permits, etc. to be able to work out of my home.

 

I want to sell my items on Facebook Marketplace.  Is there anything else I need to do in order to begin this type of business?

 

Thank you,

 

Sue 

biotechsue@gmail.com

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AARP Expert

@sg73416766 I would suggest you check with your local Chamber of Commerce to learn about the necessary permits to have a home based business.  Each state has different laws, so be sure you adhere to what required in your state and local juridiction.  Regarding the Facebook Marketplace you can set up a business page as you would do your personal page, but have a business email and images of your items.  Make sure your page looks like a business - showing people wearing the items you sew and items placed in a way that highlights the items well - and not your personal photos of you and your friends.  You will be directed on requirements and restrictions related to that designation.  I would also encourage you to look at Amazon Marketplace and Etsy.  While Etsy is pretty popular and you pay of percentage of your sell, Amazon is growing so there may be little to no cost to to sell your items.  Be encouraged to comb the internet on ways to sell your items digitally - but know that the more you are visable, the more you could sell which will require you to increase your inventory. I wish you luck with your business.

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AARP Expert

@billcurryjr55 

Thank you for question. If i understand you correctly, it is your desire to start Literate in a Minute that helps MA English students fine writing opportunites that pays. It’s great that you want to create a pathway for students to get a jumpstart in the work world. Regarding financing the business, I would start first with developing your business model/plan that outlines your services and how you plan to generate business to pay the writers. Will you become a temp agency for contractors or freelance writers? Once you have that system in place, you can then begin to market your services low-cost through social media, which your tech savvy son can assist with, and networking with companies that find your services beneficial. From what I can tell, your start-up cost would be low to include a computer, which it appears you already have, paper and phone, perhaps. The writers could work from wherever they are - you would not need to have a physical place for them to write. If you get a windfall of money, use it to pay off debt and rebuild your nest egg. Before you spend money determine your business cost, how you will build the business and move from there.  I would encourage you also attend AARP’s Telephone Town Hall on Feb 21 at 7pm EST on Turning Your Passion to Profit. You can register here https://vekeo.com/event/aarpfinancialresilience-37309/ to participate.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@febrown67 wrote:

@billcurryjr55 

Thank you for question. If i understand you correctly, it is your desire to start Literate in a Minute that helps MA English students fine writing opportunites that pays. It’s great that you want to create a pathway for students to get a jumpstart in the work world. Regarding financing the business, I would start first with developing your business model/plan that outlines your services and how you plan to generate business to pay the writers. Will you become a temp agency for contractors or freelance writers? Once you have that system in place, you can then begin to market your services low-cost through social media, which your tech savvy son can assist with, and networking with companies that find your services beneficial. From what I can tell, your start-up cost would be low to include a computer, which it appears you already have, paper and phone, perhaps. The writers could work from wherever they are - you would not need to have a physical place for them to write. If you get a windfall of money, use it to pay off debt and rebuild your nest egg. Before you spend money determine your business cost, how you will build the business and move from there.  I would encourage you also attend AARP’s Telephone Town Hall on Feb 21 at 7pm EST on Turning Your Passion to Profit. You can register here https://vekeo.com/event/aarpfinancialresilience-37309/ to participate.


@I saw that the @reply to @billcurryjr55 didn't work as intended, so quoted your post, @FeeBrown in its entirety so that a.) Bill will get an email with a link to this post telling him he was mentioned, and b.) so that he'd know of your response. 🙂

 

Best wishes to both of you. 🙂

 

 

 

"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving
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