Taking the plunge into full time entrepreneurship is both an exciting and scary endeavor. While some people have no reservations about turning in their notice and starting their work-from-home business, others hem and haw until nearly retirement. You don’t want to fall into either of these groups, though; instead, take your time figuring out if it’s the right decision for you before turning in your notice, but don’t wait a lifetime to do so. Walk through these five simple questions to determine if you’re ready to pursue your dreams.

Is Your Business Legal?

Whether you’re launching an at-home daycare or entering the world of freelance graphics, making sure your business is 100% in the clear legally is imperative. Do your due diligence and set up an LLC or EIN, ensure your business name and logos are not violating any copyrights and check to make sure that your local municipalities will actually allow you to do business.

For instance, finding out four weeks into an organic chicken farm enterprise that your local government doesn’t allow poultry on residential lots will result in a sudden loss of income that’s all your own doing. Do your homework and make sure everything you do is lawful.

Do You Have a Safety Net?

Most business owners struggle to make their business a success, especially in their first years after a new launch. Starting a new stay-at-home career without an adequate safety net is foolish and potentially damaging to your financial and social life. Having an emergency fund capable of keeping you afloat is imperative. Exactly how long it can keep you afloat is up to you. If your expenses are low and you have no dependents, a three month buffer could be sufficient. If you have lots of expenses and no other source of support, a full year of living expenses may be necessary.

Work through worst-case scenarios. Could you survive off your spouse’s income? Is moving back home an option? What would you be willing to give up to continue your dream of working from home? Businesses need time to grow, and you need to be able to give your business a fighting chance at success by being able to endure a few months with minimal income.

Are You Marketing?

Marketing campaigns and blitzes should be happening long before you quit your job. Rarely is work instantaneous and building a loyal following takes time. Prior to serving your notice you should have proposals ready, phone lists being called and postcards in mailboxes.

The worst thing you can do to your business is start unprepared. Marketing is a constant challenge. Even with a strong customer base and work to spare, a lapse in marketing can lead to lean months. Start your business off strong by marketing well before your regular paychecks stop.

Is Your Online Presence Strong?

Setting up an online presence is time intensive, particularly for the not-so-computer literate. Learning about website design and Google analytics takes time and attention. When you launch a new business you want to focus on gaining business and attracting customers, not how to properly format a WordPress site.

Have everything in place for launch prior to resigning. Make sure your business name tops relevant search results, your social media sites are set up and your site looks professional. If mobile marketing will be important to your business, test your site to make sure that it is usable on different devices. It doesn’t have to be perfect because, frankly, it never will be, but it should be close.

Are You Terrified?

While an entrepreneurial lifestyle has its appeals, much can be said for a steady paycheck. Leaving the 9-to-5 grind for the unknown is scary and inconceivable for many cubicle dwellers. You’ll meet nay-sayers and encounter a whole lot of self-doubt along the way.

Thankfully, this fear can drive you to success. Embrace your doubts and fears about starting a stay-at-home business and use them as the motivation that will drive you towards creating a profitable business.

There is no amount of planning that will ensure instant profit and success, but finishing this checklist will start your business in the right direction. Businesses aren’t built the day the doors open; planning starts well before inventory is stocked and salespeople are hired. Find success in your first months in business by setting up beforehand.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

A new mom encounters challenges that go beyond understanding colic or mastering the art of breastfeeding. The anxiety of returning to work is a reality most moms deal with at some point after having a baby. Developing business opportunities at home offers sustainable and profitable advantages for moms who need flexibility and financial resourcefulness.

What Keeps a Mom at Home?Mother and baby in home office with laptop and telephone

Parents commonly feel restricted to keep one spouse at home because of the high costs of childcare. The Vice President’s Middle Class Task Force estimates the average family spends between $4,000 to $15,000 each year for babysitting. Thirty nine states list child care expense as higher than college tuition, notes the a recent statement from the Middle Class Task Force. Secondly, emotions take a toll. Leaving your child in the hands of someone else, especially if they’re not family, while you slave away at a full-time brick-and-mortar office job is difficult for some parents to justify doing.

At-Home Work Options for Moms

Telecommunication opportunities and technological innovations help support the modern-day work-at-home mom and savvy businesswoman. Companies and firms recognize the benefits of outsourcing responsibilities to save on operating expenses, which includes utilizing working-from-home employees. With motherhood comes different perspectives and priorities — such as a career switch to accommodate the new familial role. Consider the following options that offer flexible schedules, yet still provide professional challenges:

  • Interior Decorator – If you have always enjoyed the creative side of life and have an eye for color, style and project management, interior decorating provides an independent schedule and a chance to play with other people’s money for aesthetic expression as an outside contractor.
  • Landscape Architect – Landscape architecture is the outdoor interior design and decorating profession for alfresco creativity. You can partner with local landscapers to transform yards into beautiful masterpieces while still having time to fulfill your motherly duties.
  • Nutritionist – This career is becoming more salient every day as people make the connection between disease and food choices. Build a private practice from a home office, set up an online website to connect with clients remotely via livechat or even write about food and fitness as a freelance writer or blogger.
  • Online Entrepreneur – People can make a serious living on sites like Etsy and eBay. Open a trash-to-treasure business or promote your own crafts or art by establishing a digital storefront. Turn an activity you enjoy for fun, like knitting or making soap, into a moneymaking endeavor.
  • Recipe Developer – Sound too good to be true? Someone has to be the mastermind behind delicious fare and sweet confections. A recipe developer can work from home for local restaurants, online sites, such as the Food Network, or publishers who specialize in cookbooks.

Tips for Working-at-Home Success

The devil is in the details when planning an at home career. If you start on the wrong foot, you may end up in a ditch instead of on a secure and steady career path. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Organize, Organize, Organize: Be proactive, stay organized and strategize when planning. For example, set up your schedule so you can multi-task chores like shop for groceries while gathering work supplies.
  • Get Going Early: Get in the habit of waking up before the family to get a few things done before morning chaos ensues. Set the coffee pot timer and use this early, quiet time to be productive.
  • Don’t Tackle It All Yourself: Let your support system give you a hand when possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Motherhood is a full-time job, but you can still fulfill professional aspirations and a need to separate your identity from motherhood by fostering an at-home business. Working from home, independent consulting and online freelancing can open doors for moms who want to balance family and a career.

Although there have been some major struggles with all of the transitions that many of us have had to deal with thanks to the current state of the economy, one thing that has proven to be a silver lining is that entrepreneurship is at what many experts consider to be a record-high—as a matter of fact, one that we haven’t seen at this level in close to 20 years.

This means that now is a time when many people are stepping out and living their dreams of owning their own businesses and/or working from home as contractors or freelancers. And since so many people are making their living this way, would it not make sense to explore some options for investing that hard earned money?

Are you a freelancer who is looking for a few investment tips? If so, here are five that can further help to empower you as someone who makes money, in many ways, on your own terms, and would like to see it grow as a direct result.

1. Start a Solo 401K

Did you know that there is a 401K plan that is strictly for sole proprietors? If you are someone who has no employees, you can set up a kind of 401K to where you can put away money that can grow tax-deferred. It’s called an Independent or Solo 401K and a huge benefit to this is that it will not be taxed until you withdraw it.

2. Set Up a Flexible Automation

If you’re someone who needs a bit of help when it comes to putting money aside each month for your investments, setting up a flexible automation might be the thing that you need to do. Basically, it’s a monthly transfer. In order to determine how much to transfer, look over the past six months of income that you have made and put aside a percentage that reflects the month that you made the least amount of money. That way, you won’t be investing more than you can afford during your “feast” or “famine” months.

3. Consider Investing Your Tax Payments

There is a “blessed curse” that comes with being a freelancer as it relates to the IRS. Since you are considered to be an independent contractor, you are responsible for the money that you make because none of it is taxed income. That can be a good thing, so long as you pay your taxes on a quarterly basis (especially since you can write off certain expenses by being a contractor).

Here is where the investment part comes in. The money that you do make, you can put into investing; money that people who are taxed do not have at their disposal. However, do keep in mind that if you lose money on those investments that invested cash is still owed to the IRS.

4. Maximize Your Deductions

Again, since you have to pay your own taxes, you definitely want to make sure that you don’t end up paying the IRS any more than you absolutely have to. So, make sure that you read up on all of the kinds of deductions that are applicable to you such as deducting your home office, some of your utilities, work-related travel and office supplies. If the thought of going through all of your receipts feels a bit overwhelming, companies like ShoeBoxed.com will actually organize all of your receipts for you for a pretty fair price.

5. Become a Home Owner

Real estate is definitely still a pretty unstable market, but owning a home (owning property, period) is unquestionably a wise investment especially when it comes to preparing for retirement. So, if you don’t own a home yet, make sure to start saving money so that you can within the next few years. And when you do, don’t forget to get some home insurance too. All the way around, being a home owner is a good thing to be whether you’re a freelancer or not. Both for now and the years that are to come.

About the Author

Evan Fischer is a contributing writer for Tim Sykes, the premier penny stock investment adviser. You can read a Timothy Sykes review here.

Last summer, US News and World Report did an article on how entrepreneurship is at an all-time high (the highest it’s been in 15 years, actually) for people ages 35-44. Sure, the motivation is mostly due to the economy, but with more and more people opting for freelancing and contract work, this also means there are more and more people looking for ways to get health insurance benefits. If you’re one of them, check out some of these health benefit options for freelancers.

We’ll take a look at four health benefit options if you’re a freelancer or do any kind of work from home and don’t have a traditional job.

Private Health Insurance

The first thing that comes to mind is probably this one. When it comes to getting private health insurance, it’s simply a matter of contacting a health insurance provider like Humana or Blue Cross Blue Shield to see what rates they have available for individuals. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, the monthly rates aren’t too much to bear. eHealthInsurance.com has a list of companies within your state that can provide you with a policy that works best for you.

High-Deductible Health Plan

This is an option for people who don’t find themselves needing to go to the doctor for much more than annual check-ups. The upside to this plan is that you typically don’t have to pay high monthly premiums. On the other hand, the deductibles can be a bit steep. Plus, you have to pay for your healthcare needs out of your own pocket until you have reached the price of your annual deductible. Another option for people that don’t see a doctor much is obtaining a health discount card. This is so you can get a discount on some of the services offered by medical professionals; however, if you go this route, make sure to keep in mind that it’s not an insurance policy. It’s more like the Kroger Plus card that you keep on your keychain, only it’s for medical needs instead of groceries.

Join Through Where You (Freelance) Work

There are some websites that contract workers and provide insurance coverage for them through their company. Take oDesk.com, for instance. If you go to oDesk.com/benefits, you will see a variety of health care options that they have available to their subscribers including a Wellness Plan (a pretty standard health care plan) and what they call a Catastrophic Plan; it covers situations where hospitalization is required. They also have a plan that combines the two. You can also look into freelance workers support sites and unions for health care coverage. For writers, there is (for example) the National Writers Union (NWU.org). You have to be a member to get the details, but they do have policies that offer dental and vision. The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE.org) offers some really fair quotes on health insurance policies as well.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Some people freelance for a living, while others pick up contracted work to do while being in between jobs. If you are someone who fits into the latter category, then you might want to go with the short-term health insurance option. If you’re not use something like a COBRA plan (which usually means you’re paying hefty fee to remain on your former employer’s insurance for the next 18 months or so), then there are companies that will give you a short-term policy for a period of time until you can find some employment. In this case, again, the monthly payments are low but the deductibles are pretty high.

High-Risk Pools

For individuals with a pre-existing health condition, sometimes they can find it difficult to get health insurance. For them, there are high risk health insurance pools in existence that vary from HMO and PPO plans to point-of-service plans and various kinds of Health Savings Accounts. For more information on these, visit High-Risk-Health-Insurance.com or HealthInsurance.org (put “risk pools” in the search engine).

Every month I do a roundup of the previous month’s posts, in case you may have missed any. I encourage you to check out and comment on any you may have skipped over or didn’t get a chance to read yet.

As always, I appreciate the continued support from all of you.

Okay, let’s get to last month’s blog posts…

February 2012 Blog Posts on ReplaceYourSalary.com

Work From Home Compatibility Match?

Humans vs. Robots: Who Reads Your Writing?

RSS Feed Now Showing ‘Summary’ Only

5 Great Ways to Get New Clients in 2012

10 Steps to Choosing a Perfect Niche for Your Blog

Blog Blueprint for Beginners – Free eBook by Travis Sago

Got a Hobby on the Side? Turn It Into a Business!

5 Ideas on Marketing to Existing Customers

Covered Call Option – 7 Good Investment Strategies You Can Learn In Front Of Your Computer

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more articles coming soon.

Got anything to say? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…

2012 is here, and this year I’m going to start a tradition… a recap of the previous year, highlighting popular posts, and posts I feel are important to visit (or revisit).

2011 brought many challenges and changes, positives and negatives, and ups and downs, for me both personally and professionally.

My online business, including this blog, has seen steady growth. Slight changes were made here and there as needed, and are still being made… not enough to probably notice, though. Income sources have come and gone, as is common with this type of business.

Overall, I am very pleased in the direction my business is headed, and I’m looking forward to growing it even more.

With that said, I once again want to thank you, my readers, for your support and encouragement over the past year(s) and for your continued support. It would be very difficult to be here without any of you, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for your active participation here on the blog.

Your comments, “likes”, +1’s and Re-Tweets are extremely appreciated. It’s because of you that I’m able to showcase some of the most popular posts of 2011.

I also decided, at my discretion, to include other notable posts from the past year that I feel are worth mentioning. These include guest posts from esteemed authors in related fields.

I’ve broken up the posts into categories to make them easier to sift through. Oh, and the posts are in no particular order whatsoever.

I hope you find the “best” posts from 2011 inspirational and helpful as you embark on your journey through 2012.

Without further ado, here they are…

Blogging

Utilize Your Blog’s RSS Feed

What I’m Grateful for as a Blogger

Akismet Alternative

Should You Pay for a WordPress Theme?

Threaded Comments WordPress Plugin

Finance

5 Tips for Financial Planning

5 Ways to Fund Your Retirement

6 Ways to Save Money at Home

5 Tips to Save Money

SEO

Is Google Counting Your Backlinks?

How to Get Your Site Indexed by Google

Google +1 Button is Live

Internet Business

One Online Business Is Not Enough

Google Adsense: Record-High Monthly Income

June 2011 Google PR Update

Entrepreneurship

What You Should Know About Working from Home

Protect Yourself When Working from Home

Funny Entrepreneur Music Video Parodies

Stay Motivated While Working from Home

Recognize Work from Home Scams

This completes the list of the best (based on your comments and my bias) blog posts from 2011 on ReplaceYourSalary.com.

Which post(s) do YOU consider the “Best?”

I’m curious to know which post you liked the most from last year, so scroll down to the comment area and let me know.

Did I leave something out?

For obvious reasons, I couldn’t include every single post. They don’t make computer screens big enough, or attention spans long enough, for that. If you’ve enjoyed a particular post that I didn’t mention, or enjoy reading my monthly blog post roundups or Income Reports, let me know.

Wishing you a prosperous 2012!

Halloween was just recently, and in the spirit of entrepreneurship (and in Halloween, I suppose), I decided to carve a pumpkin in memory of Steve Jobs. I’m sure by now you’re aware that Steve Jobs had recently passed away, and while reflecting back on technology and seeing how far advanced we have come with all the gadgets we have these days, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show my appreciation, and my artistic abilities.

My first ever pumpkin carving, as shown on the right, lit up. Seriously, my first ever.

That was one of the highlights of October for me. I had a lot of fun doing it and enjoyed getting a little messy. The end result was totally worth it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last forever. They never do.

Looking back on last month’s blog posts, while they may not be as epic as my pumpkin carving, I’m sure you you’ll agree that they’re worth reading. At least I hope so. 😉

Let’s take a look at them.

October 2011 Blog Posts on ReplaceYourSalary.com

What is a ‘Call to Action’ and Why Should You Have One?

Threaded Comments: A WordPress Plug-In Every Blog Owner Should Utilize

5 Tips to Help You Save Money

6 Top Ways to Save Money at Home

Getting More Clicks: Affiliate Links in Images More Profitable than Links in Text

5 Ways to Fund Your Retirement Income

5 Ways to Recognize Work from Home Scams

Tools to Expand Your Home Business Without Breaking the Bank

Akismet Problems: Why You Should Choose an Alternative Blog Comment Spam Solution

Google+: Is the Demise of Facebook Near?

Blog Posts Around the Web

Here are some blog posts I’ve found from other bloggers I follow that I hope you will find helpful. I encourage you to take some time to read these as well.

Every month, Deneil Merritt posts an income report, similar to the ones you’ll find here. What’s different about his income reports is that they include 30 other blog income reports as well, which includes mine each month. Definitely worth checking out and seeing how other blogs are doing in the industry.

Daniel Scocco points out some important no-no’s when emailing a blog owner to pitch a guest post. I find it quite comical as I every now and then get something similar to the one he mentions in the post. If you ever want to get accepted as a guest blogger, you definitely want to read Daniel’s post and take some notes.

If you’ve been following any of the Occupy Wall Street protest (I haven’t) or at least know what it’s about (I do), David over at SEO-Writer has a pretty funny Occupy parody called Occupy Google. It’s a video interview (sound only) and worth checking out if you want a good laugh, or if Google is treating you unfairly and you demand that your website is ranking in the top 10! Ha!

That’s all for now, folks.

I’m a huge fan of forums. They are a massive collection of useful information (hopefully) and a place to network and meet new people in your niche. I have seen some forums come and go, and I have also seen some respectable forums fall by the way-side and become over-run with spammers.

That’s a real shame. I hate to see that happen. There are some reasons why this may happen to a particular forum, but I’ll get into that a little later.

I’m sure there are many forums that focus on entrepreneurship, but I have yet to find one as comprehensive and complete as the EvanCarmichael.com Forums.

Who is Evan Carmichael?

Simply put, Evan is an entrepreneurship expert. He’s been interviewed by numerous media outlets across North America. Evan has worked with many different brands to help them connect with the entrepreneur community. He has been an entrepreneur his entire life and owned his first company at the early age of 19.

Watch this short, five minute video and listen to Evan talk about how he got started and the success he has had…

I wasn’t kidding when I said he was an expert. If you want to view his official bio, check out Evan’s About Page.

Even though the focus of this post is to outline the Forums, I think it’s worth mentioning that the entire site is one massive resource for entrepreneurs. There is so much you can learn from Famous Entrepreneurs – Their business strategies, failures, successes, tips, etc.

Other noteworthy sections of the site include entrepreneur Advice, Blogs, Tools, Articles…

And of course… the Entrepreneur Forums.

The Entrepreneur Forums

The Entrepreneur Forums are comprised of several different sections: From Evan’s Desk, Starting Your Own Business, Making Money in 2011, Other Entrepreneur Topics, and Private MasterMind Groups.

Each of these sections contain various forum categories, and each category has various threads in which members can discuss different topics.

What makes the Forums valuable is the wide range of topics that are covered. Pretty much any and every aspect pertaining to business, both offline and online, can be found there.

What Makes this Forum Different?

The Forums are a friendly community comprised of both successful and aspiring entrepreneurs, who are involved in many different types of business. One aspect that sets them apart from other online forums is that each forum category has its own Moderator.

I happen to be one of the moderators, and have been for over a year now. It’s been an honor for me to be part of such a great community, and I have learned so much, not only from other forum moderators, but also from other forum members.

Each moderator is diligent in welcoming new members and replying to topics, questions and comments left in the Forums. They are also vigilant when it comes forum spam. There is a no spam policy, which is greatly enforced and dealt with quickly.

That, I believe, is commendable on so many levels. The fact that Evan and his team are that committed to ensuring a friendly and spam-free forum says a lot. I have seen other forums become over-run with spammers, with no action being taken against them.

What happens when spammers are left to do as they please? Regular, honest members – pretty much those who have a conscience, get fed up and leave and go elsewhere where the forum owner does care. I’ve seen it happen.

What Say You?

Have you heard of Evan Carmichael before? Ever checked out his website or been to the Forums?

Does this sound like a forum you would want to be a part of or could learn from?

Share your thoughts below…

What a crazy few months. You’re probably wondering why I haven’t posted much, and well, there’s a good reason for that. Life! Yeah… life gets in the way. Funny how that happens. 😉

Seriously, though, I don’t like it at all, and I want to be posting more, and I promise I will be. I’ll still be having guest posts as well, but I want to have more of my own posts mixed in also. I think it’s only fair to you, my readers. That’s my promise to you, so you better hold me to it!

Okay, enough of that. Let’s take a look at last month’s blog posts. All four of them.

May 2011 Blog Posts on ReplaceYourSalary.com

5 Surefire Online Marketing Strategies You Should Know

Organize Your Home Office with Pendaflex Products

Turning Your Talent Into Your Own Business

6 Funny Entrepreneur Music Videos – You definitely have to check these videos out. Seriously!

Blog Posts Around the Web

Here are some blog posts I’ve found from other bloggers I follow that I thought you would find helpful. Take some time to read these as well.

Sabrina shared a post on 5BuckGuy.com about her 3 Worst Internet Marketing Mistakes. I commented on the post sharing mine, although it’s still awaiting moderation. Here are the three mistakes I shared:

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Poorly investing money into programs that simply don’t work
  3. Not investing enough money back into my business

What are your three mistakes? Share them below by leaving a comment.

Alex provided 7 very good reasons why you should switch to Windows 7. I totally agree with him as I’ve been running Windows 7 myself for a couple of months now. I absolutely love it! Read the post to see why should make the switch today.

CompTalks.com offers an easy method to add the Google +1 button to WordPress. This is a new feature from Google that I’ll be posting about a little later in the month. You don’t want to miss it.

Andrew talks about the pages you should have on your blog. This is a must-read. If you don’t have these pages, you need to add them right away!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll talk about a forum I moderate and is a great resource for entrepreneurs.

Cheers! 🙂

I thought I would so something different in this post and give you a different kind of flavor here on the blog, and most likely some laughs, too. I’m into music and videos, and I spend some time on YouTube every now and then. It wasn’t until I came across a post on Daily Blog Tips that included Daniel’s Top 6 Geek Parody Videos, which inspired me to do something similar.

Don’t worry, this is completely on-topic and related to entrepreneurship, as my title suggests. 🙂

I added a couple of Daniel’s favorites here as I also enjoyed them, and I did some digging on YouTube to uncover some other great videos as well.

I hope you enjoy them!

My Top Funny Entrepreneur Music Video Picks