Self Employed Web

ASK Priority: Tired of Retirement

Posted on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 by

Tired of Retirement

Q. After nearly 25 years in the corporate harness, I took early retirement last year, yet I miss interacting with my peers and the excitement of doing something other than mowing grass and playing golf. Recently, I’ve been thinking about starting a business of my own, but I’m not really sure what I want to do or how to best go about doing it.

A. Your predicament is increasingly common, says Jeff Williams, president of Bizstarters in Arlington Heights, Ill. ( “I see a lot of retired corporate burnouts who want to start a business,” he says. “The first thing I recommend is to take the time to figure out what you love doing, something that really holds your interest.”
The next step is to be honest about the lifestyle you want to lead. “I’ve had people come in and tell me that they recently signed up to take over a franchise operation where they’re expected to be onsite every day, but they want to be able to travel extensively,” Williams says. “They’d have been better off going into something along the lines of an import business.”
Once you figure out the kind of business you want to start, make sure that you have sufficient capital to cover both start-up and operating expenses for an entire year—and set aside something for outside services such as accounting. “You can’t grow a business and do it all yourself,” Williams warns.
As for replacing the comradery that existed in your former career, Williams suggests joining the local chamber of commerce, which is what he did when he left corporate life 16 years ago. It will help you to develop a network of other self-employed business people. Finally, try setting up your office in a shared office suite that can accommodate several dozen professionals and small business owners. There, you can exchange gossip around the coffee machine and maybe even land a new customer or two.

Web Surfing at Work
Q. My wife and I run a successful real estate business in the Midwest. We have a dozen desktop computers for our main office and two regional branches. How do we ensure that they aren’t being used for personal e-mail, online shopping and the like by our sales and administrative staffs?

A. Using company property for personal uses is a common problem—one that can have a negative impact on employee productivity and sometimes lead to more serious problems. The first step in ensuring your computers are used strictly for business is to establish usage policies that are spelled out in your company’s policy and procedure manual, says Carl Kreienkamp, an independent business consultant based in Madison, Wis.
This type of manual typically contains basic information about your business—company benefits, vacation policies and working hours. While this may seem obvious, Kreienkamp says “40 to 50 percent of the small business clients I see” don’t include policies on e-mail or Internet usage. Many times, business owners have manuals their attorneys provided when they started up, but they never bother to update them.

 Policies for company e-mail and Internet usage should make it clear that if your business owns the computers, including laptops that employees take home, they should not be put to personal use. Moreover, as the business owner you have the right to monitor usage. Spell out these guidelines and make sure that your employees thoroughly understand them.

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