Aelita Andre the Four Year Old Who is Already a Professional Artist

How many of us would love to be a successful entrepreneur or to have the kind of artistic talent that makes us internationally famous? Aelita Andre from Melbourne in Australia is just that, and she is only four years old.

That’s right, just FOUR YEARS OLD, and this young girl whose abstract impressionist paintings have been compared with those of Picasso and Jackson Pollock, has a collection of her paintings on display in New York, at the Agora Gallery in Manhattan.

Aelita apparently produced her first painting of note before she was even two years old, and a collector from Hong Kong paid $24,000 for one of her paintings last year.

I guess it helps when your parents are also both artists, but it does show what an innocent mind with the right inspiration is capable of. When it comes to art though, beauty is also in the eye of the beholder, so to the untrained eye, like mine, a valuable piece of art could just appear as squiggles and blobs.

But if you think that Aelita’s artwork is just the usual squiggles and blobs like other children of her age produce, then think again. Just look at the first Gallery on her web site to see what she was capable of producing at the age of just two and three years old. I can’t for the life of me produce anything close to this at the age of 56!

I do wonder though, how many Mothers will read this, and then go grab the watercolors for their toddlers to play with. Just how much untapped artistic talent is out there waiting to be discovered?

 

Health Care Reform: Good for the Ambitious

One generally ignored, yet very important benefit to the fight to reform the nation’s health care system is what the health care reform bill can potential do for those with entrepreneurial ambitions. Instead of taking away personal freedoms, reform actually expands and creates new freedoms.

Thousands of workers in this country who wish to become self-employed are chained to their employers in order to continue receiving the group medical care their employer provides. These erstwhile entrepreneurs know that if they quit, they will have to buy health insurance for themselves and their families on the open market. The health insurance market for single purchasers is largely unfettered by price competition or regulations – and it will cripple them financially. That is, if they can buy health insurance at all.

Some of them or their families have a preexisting condition, making it impossible for them to buy any insurance at any price. So they remain on the job, year after year, tamping down their ambitions.

Small business persons and self-starters are what gives the United States its dynamic component. Yet these ambitious persons remain trapped in their cubicles with no way out due to this difficulty.

The mandate to cover everyone is a new, small mandate that is a small imposition on personal freedoms. But the freedoms the new system creates are different and so much better. It will unshackle Americans who wish to strike out on their own, and give them the flexibility to live their dreams.

Their concerns that insurance can’t be purchased will be over. Ditto that it will be canceled once they get sick with a major health problem. The ambitious will be able to quit their jobs and strike out on their own, knowing coverage they can afford is out there.

The struggle for passage has been acrimonious and controversial. The bill isn’t perfect.

But the status quo was unsustainable. The weight of the system’s dysfunction has been crushing to the economy, the nation’s people and had to be addressed. We will be a happier, healthier and more prosperous nation when there is health care security for all.

Mom Turns $90 Investment into Six-Figure Salary: Non-Cooking Housewife Cashes in Big Time at Culinary House Parties

The concept is very simple, explains the Merrick, N.Y. woman during a recent phone interview. In 1996, she was invited to a home-based party where a cooking demonstration took place.

This event featured culinary equipment and gadgets offered exclusively by Chicago-based company Pampered Chef. Conducting the demonstration was a consultant who showed guests how to use each item in the simple preparation of focaccia bread. At show’s end, guests looked over the array of gadgets, ordering those they wanted. “I got so inspired with everything I saw,” recalls Lerner, “and wanted everything right then and there.”

Making Money at Home Parties

The hostess who threw the party earned $100 to $200 in free and discounted merchandise. The consultant running the demonstration made a commission on all the products sold. Curious about the money-making end, Lerner found out that consultants could get even more by signing up and training others, thus collecting a percentage of their sales. “I said ‘Sign me up,'” notes Lerner.

This process involved ordering a starter kit, then costing $90 and containing about $300 worth of merchandise. (The kit now costs $155, offering $500 in merchandise. By following specified company rules, consultants can acquire additional products at no cost to them for use in demonstrations.)

Housewife Turns Culinary Entrepreneur

Lerner called everyone she knew to inform them of her new venture. She asked them to book a show at their home within the next four weeks. Everyone agreed, and she was ready to take the next step. “Basically it was about learning how to make a recipe and playing with the products,” she says. “I knew I was going to fly with this because it looked so simple, and the recipes were so simple.” Subsequently, two friends hosting shows at their homes become consultants too. That meant Lerner would earn commissions not only from home shows she ran but also from products sold at their shows.

“I didn’t even know what I was doing, I was just beginning,” she adds. Her training included watching a few video tapes and guidance from the woman who signed her up. Running two shows weekly as a consultant in people’s homes, she started off earning $100 to $200 per event. Within a year, Lerner was making $2,000 per month. Now, 14 years later, she earns “way over” $100,000. It’s all about team building, says the culinary entrepreneur, who started with 15 consultants the first year and presently has 500 on her team.

And, of course, since entering the business, the non-cook has become quite the chef. Lerner’s repertoire at home parties includes the preparation of simple appetizers, pasta, pizza, vegetables, chicken and desserts. “With the economy the way it is, people aren’t eating out as much as they used to,” she says. “They love learning budget-friendly recipes, and I love teaching them.”

Secrets to Successful Selling in this Self-Motivational Business

Food makes everyone happy, she adds, noting that’s why her job doesn’t feel like employment. “I’m still out of my mind excited.” Her keys to success?

  • Love what you’re doing; you won’t feel like you’re working a day in your life. Smile and have fun with this.
  • Be consistent in booking two shows a week or 10 shows a month. If cancellations occur (typically there are two monthly), you’ll still be doing 8 shows a month.
  • Reschedule cancellations as quickly as possible.
  • Treat your customers well, and you’re sure to get repeat business.
  • Look for untapped opportunities to sign up consultants: For example, fund-raising events such as temple and church holiday boutiques; stay-at-home moms who can work this business into their schedule; or new brides who want to learn how to cook, need culinary gadgets and can use the extra cash. (Lerner rents a booth at bridal expos. “You meet them all in all shot,” she says.)

One of this job’s best features? “It’s really a part-time job,” notes Lerner, “with full-time pay.”

Another option is travel blogging. A very lucrative option but with high barriers to entry, travel sites like Iceland travel blog Iceland in 8 Days are popping up everywhere!

Earn Money With Internet Radio Stations: Perfect Avenue to Instant Fame and Wealth

Internet radio stations have become popular over the last several years. Listeners can dial into their favorite radio station and listen to hosts entertain them while they interview expert guests. They can also tune into programs like “Off The Shelf” and listen to experienced radio hosts interview bestselling authors, editors and other movers and shakers in the literary industry.

Gain Fame Through Internet Radio Programs

With just a little pizzazz and a passion for a specific topic or industry, listeners can create, host, manage and promote their own radio program. It’s an excellent way to gain instant fame on the Internet. The money involved is minimal to none.

Blog Talk Radio is one of the new popular Internet radio station providers. It’s easy to set up an account and start using the existing services. Follow the prompts at Blog Talk Radio, fill out the online registration form and submit it. Pick a catchy name for one’s Internet radio program, a name that will stick with listeners so they easily remember it.

New Internet radio station hosts will benefit from creating a schedule of upcoming guests to feature or interview on their radio program. Hosts can feature a recording artist like Maxwell, Dolly Parton or Willie Nelson. They could also play old Michael Jackson, Duke Ellington or Mozart hits for an entire hour and encourage listeners to leave personal comments about their reflections on the featured artist.

Famous Radio Hosts Interview Expert Guests

Program hosts who want to bring their listeners a wealth of current content by interviewing guests who are experts in their field can create a media sheet to send to potential guests and the press that lists the name of their Internet radio program, the host’s name and background, the show’s format (i.e. self-help, inspirational, sports, arts), days that the show is taped and the length of the show.

For example, “Off The Shelf” at Blog Talk Radio’s media sheet reflects that the entertainment program is hosted by Denise Turney, author of the books Long Walk Up, Portia, Love Has Many Faces, Spiral and Love Pour Over Me. The one page media sheet also reflects that the show is a one hour talk show that features bestselling authors, editors, publishers, poets, songwriters, literary agents and other movers and shakers in the literary industry.

Check out samples of existing Internet radio programs by browsing shows by category at companies like Blog Talk Radio, Live365, Radio Locator, Voice America and Artist First. Listen to three to four shows so that hosting a show starts to feel like second nature.

Search for guests like educators, entertainers, athletes, scientists or motivational speakers using Internet search engines like Google, Excite, Dogpile or Lycos. Invite the guest to be on one’s Internet radio show. Include the show’s one page media sheet with the invitation. Email invitations to keep a record of invites.

As the show’s audience builds, hosts can charge guests a fee to be featured on the show, continue to market and promote their shows and watch profits increase. Hosts can also feature commercial ads on their popular radio shows to generate revenue and grow wealth.

Managing Famous Internet Radio Show Schedules

Manage the show schedule by creating a spreadsheet or table that list the date and time of each show, the guest name and contact information. Update the schedule on a daily or weekly basis. Hosts who have personal websites can post their Internet radio program’s upcoming guests schedule on the main page of their website.

They could also create a special web page at their website to post all information about their Internet radio show. People who do this should include a link to their Internet radio show beneath highlighted information about each upcoming guest including the date and time for the interview. This helps to keep people who are already familiar with the host aware of appearances and speaking engagements that involve the host.

People who want to become locally, nationally or globally famous on the Internet can do so by contacting radio station providers like Artist First, Live365 or Blog Talk Radio and registering to create their own radio show. Internet radio station hosts can gain fame by scheduling engaging guests and using spreadsheets or tables to manage their radio show schedules.

Patrick G. Mackaronis on Choosing Business Advisors: How to Select A Business Advisory Network

The following is a guest post to Shawnee Country Club Online from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick talks about how to properly select business advisory networks.

Business advisors are so important to running a successful business that few entrepreneurs take on a new project without having a solid business advisory network in place before opening up shop. And having business advisors doesn’t just mean paying a professional for business advice related to one’s entrepreneurial venture, it means actually putting the information to good use as well. What follows is a comprehensive list of the business advice folks needed to get a business off the ground, as well as how to locate these people.

Professional Business Advisors

There are two types of business advisors that most entrepreneurs need. The first are the professionals that most people – business savvy or otherwise – inherently know are required partners: these are the bankers, lawyers, consultants, bookkeepers, insurance agents, accountants, advertising agents and business counselors. Most, if not all, will require a fee for services, although it may be possible to find some free assistance via SCORE or the Small Business Administration.

Informal Business Advisors

The second type of business advice-giver to seek out are those who serve more as independent business advisors than formal ones, such as mentors, other business owners in the same field and even friends. These are the folks that can assist more in the day-to-day operations of the business and usually require little more than someone asking them for help, and then being kept apprised of what’s going on.

Bookkeeper or Accountant?

Depending on how complex the business is will determine whether or not a bookkeeper, accountant, or both are needed. If things are complicated (retail businesses are a prime example), an accountant may be able to not only set up the books for the business as well as maintain them. But for those with simpler financial accounting needs, a bookkeeper might be the least expensive option for the majority of the work needed.

Consultants

Consultants can take on a wide variety of independent advisory roles, and will depend on the type of business being run as to which will be the most helpful. Some entrepreneurs may need the services of a marketing guru, while others will require assistance from a health and safety pro. Make a list of the kinds of folks needed to get things going, and then consult with a local business organization to see if there are consultants in the area that can assist. Trade associations are also excellent resources to find these relatively expensive yet crucial partners.

Choosing The Right Business Advisors

Talk to other business owners in the area for referrals of the professionals they use, especially those in the professional business advisory category. Then, interview the candidates, asking them for references, successes and failures, and take note of their responses. Determine comfort levels and communication clarity as well, as these are important factors that may come into play later on when the stresses of running a business start to take their toll.

But no matter what happens, know that these people will directly affect the success of the business, so take the time to interview and mull over which person fits the bill the best before making a final decision about which business advisors to work with.

What Is a Behavioural Interview? An entrepreneur’s guide to behavioural interviews.

A behavioural interview is essentially a different type of job interview, where the applicant is asked to show his or her skills, knowledge and experience to demonstrate their mastery of a particular competency.

Behavioural interviews, instead of asking a potential staff member if they can do something, are asking if they’ve done it before, and to provide examples. Therefore, the basic premise of behavioural interviews is that past performance is an excellent tool to predict one’s future job performance.

What Are These Competencies You Speak Of?

Competencies are the main focus of a behavioural interview, for several reasons. First and foremost, competencies are taken directly from a job description, making it easier for any entrepreneur to interview. Asking the interviewee questions directly related to the predetermined competencies to determine their empoyment suitability therefore becomes simple and straightforward. As well, competencies help with the narrowing down of candidates, since it’s fairly easy to tell in the end, using a competency chart, who’s the best fit for your organization.

And finally, they’re fun. Entrepreneurs can easily deviate from the boring, same old, “So tell me about yourself?” open-ended questions that really don’t tell anyone anything. Instead, behavioural interview questions provide the applicant an opportunity to shine and show exactly what they can bring along to any entrepreneurial venture.

Sample Behavioural Interview Competencies

To provide a general idea as to what kinds of competencies many entrepreneurs look for in their future employees, review this list (all links point to questions focused specifically on that job competency):

  • Analysis
  • Assertion
  • Communication
  • Delegation
  • Flexibility
  • Judgement
  • Inventiveness
  • Motivation
  • Organization
  • Reliability
  • Resourcefulness
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

Sample Behavioural Interview Questions

Behavioural interview questions differ dramatically from other forms of job interviewing. To demonstrate:

  • Did you supervise anyone at your last job?

… is not a behavioural interview question. However,

  • Tell me about the staff you supervised at your last job. What kind of management style did you use, and how did you come about that process? Be specific.

… is a behavioural interview question, because it asks the interviewee to describe specific situations and details related to their performance.

Another behavioural question would be,

  • Have you ever not made a sales target? Tell me what happened, and what you would do differently today if faced with a similar situation.

Whereas a non behavioural question might sound something like this:

  • What were your total sales last year?

Firing Your Staff: How To Let Someone Go Gently, or Employment Termination Notification

Employment termination notification isn’t easy, even for the most experienced entrepreneur. Yet sometimes, there is no other way. Be it from redundancy, poor conduct or performance, employee termination notification policies are the same, and only comprise three rules to stand by: being compassionate, following the law and sticking with the facts.

Have Compassion and Be Fair

This rule is first for a reason: No matter what the situation, level of misconduct or anger at having to let someone go, being compassionate will help a tense situation move from oppositional to understanding. Your staff member may not be thrilled that their job is no longer theirs, but the last thing they need are reasons with which to feel worse about themselves. Plus, all entrepreneurial conduct, should the employment termination notification be contended, will be scrutinized heavily. Save yourself the heartache and remember the person you are interacting with is a feeling human being that has concerns of their own and you’ll be one step closer to as harmonious of an end as possible.

Stick With Quantifiable Facts

When providing an employment termination notification, ensure that all information is quantifiable. If you don’t have your ducks lined up in a row at this stage, its time to start fresh, because nothing looks worse than trying to fire someone when you don’t have the paperwork to prove misdeeds on the job. Look back and review your record keeping: were there client complaints, poor sales performance, fewer transactions to support a position being abolished or massive changes in the industry? Whatever the reason for the employment termination notification, it needs to be cold, hard and clear instead of emotionally-driven hunches.

Follow Employment Termination Notification Law

To avoid future legal frustrations, it pays to review the laws in your jurisdiction. Many require some sort of written proposal with a set time frame for change, as well as escalating disciplinary procedures before the actual employment termination notification can be made. Since employment termination notification law differs greatly from state to state, make sure to investigate your options and rights fully with a lawyer, related government departments, trade unions or other potential legal participants first.

If you, as the entrepreneur in charge, can view the employment termination notification process as a method to part ways amicably instead of as enemies, you reduce the risk of libel, lawsuits, or vengeance – something all of those in a position of power can do without.

Garage Sale Tips for Sellers by Tracy Suttles: Ways to Maximize Profit from Rummage Sales

The following post is a guest post from Houston, Texas area real estate developer and entrepreneur Tracy Suttles. Tracy can be best contacted for questions, comments and concerns on Twitter at @tracydsuttles.

If a person has never put on a garage sale, the task may seem quite intimidating. Some people let their old, unused items pile up simply because they do not think yard sales are worthwhile, or because they think that they are too much work. However, the following tips may help simplify the garage sale mess to make it more manageable, which can help get the cash flowing.

Sorting out Items for a Rummage Sale

Frankly, one of the most difficult tasks when it comes to putting on a garage sale is sorting out the junk to sell from the other junk. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the question “would anyone consider buying this at a yard sale?” If the answer is no, then the item can probably be donated, or thrown out if it is too ragged. If anyone may possibly want the item then it may be worth it to at least try to sell the item. But if space becomes an issue it may be a good idea to try to sort out good sale items from bad ones.

One never knows whether people will be interested in buying in their “junk” or not, but some items are definitely better sellers than others. The following items are examples of items that can be good sellers:

  • antiques and collectibles that were not widely manufactured
  • star wars collectibles, or other collectibles that have a large fan base (like comic books)
  • electronics, like old video game systems
  • musical instruments
  • clothing items
  • kitchen appliances in good condition
  • small items to be sold in bulk, like gems

Just about anything can sell if the price is low enough. However, very cheap or common items are less likely to sell. For instance, Beanie Babies and other fad items seem as if they would sell well, but because so many people have them they will probably not sell as well as other items. Cheap items like plastic rings are also unlikely to sell unless one comes up with a clever marketing idea, like “ten items for ten cents.”

How to Set Up Shop for the Sale

Before starting, it may be a good idea to contact nearby neighbors about the event if one anticipates that any neighbors may have issues with the garage sale. Once any necessary people have been contacted, a set up plan can commence.

It is a good idea to make a simple map of one’s garage beforehand. Make sure that all tables will fit, and that the space is not too small for an effective sale. If it happens to be too small, some larger, less valuable, or sun-resistant items can be placed outside the garage if it is not raining or snowing on the day of the sale. Items to go in the garage may be set up the day before to minimize stress the morning of the sale.

Organizing the sale floor by item type may help buyers navigate the sale. If everything is just thrown together people may miss items that they otherwise would buy. For instance, placing all electronics together may attract a potential buyer who is only interested in buying electronics.

It may also be a smart move to price items, and to place similarly priced items near one another on the tables (or on the ground). While many garage sale hunters love to bargain, others do not. However, it may be wise to price items slightly higher than one expects to sell them for at first, so that bargain hunters do not go below one’s acceptable price.

It is very important to have some cash and change on hand in the event that potential buyers come in with big bills. A cash box and a place to record sales can help one to keep track of any transactions. A calculator is a very important element of any yard sale, as are plastic and paper grocery bags for any buyers who purchase multiple items.

Getting People to Come to Yardsales

Personalized signs can be a great way to let people know that one is having a garage sale. However, as mentioned here, it is important to make sure that this is not against any regulations, and that a permit is not required for a sale. Signs and banners are a very important element, because they can attract people who are in the process of hunting for sales, people who shop on a whim, and people who want to plan their garage sale route ahead of time. Because of this, it is best to place signs up a few days ahead of time to alert potential shoppers.

Signs should not be too descriptive or detailed, as people who are driving by may miss all of the important information if that is the case. The most important elements are the name of the event, date, time, and location. An arrow pointing people in the correct direction may also be helpful.

Another marketing method is to advertise one’s sale on a public site like Craigslist. Sites like these allow users to advertise events free of charge. This can allow one to advertise an event to people who do not live within the immediate vicinity of one’s neighborhood.

With these hints in mind, one may be able to throw together a successful garage sale with minimal headaches.

The Case for a Down Real Estate Market

Many lucky sellers saw their fates rise with the brief uptick in the real estate market. The housing tax credit, optimistic economic data, low mortgage rates and reluctant bank foreclosures set the stage for a fleeting rally in housing process.

More importantly, the real estate market re-opened for business with buyers snapping up homes at a faster rate (albeit at a steep discount to the purchased price). Of the factors listed above, the only enduring attribute of that market rise is the low mortgage rate.

Short-Term Real Estate Market Expectations

The sellers that missed the market or simply priced themselves too high in hopes of eking out a slightly larger profit will soon find themselves without a chair in the fast past game of musical chairs that is the real estate market. Many people are surprised at quickly the market turned sideways.

Unfortunately for many sellers, the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit coincided with renewed economic challenges. The job market remains soft; however, many jobless people face the end of their unemployment benefits. Legislation remains stalled that would either extend those benefits or provide outside financial help for jobless homeowners.

To further add to the perfect negative storm, banks finally got the foreclosure message. Listing of bank owned properties continue to increase and the high foreclosure numbers of the past six months have turned into even higher real estate inventory numbers in the market.

In the short-term, the real estate market faces a major supply and demand problem. On the demand side, consumers lost an $8,000 incentive to purchase a new home and they remain weary of the job outlook. On the supply side, bank foreclosures are flooding the market at extremely competitive prices dragging down an already challenged real estate market.

Real Estate Investor Opportunities

Real estate investors that missed the sale window should de-list their property and hunker down. Now would be a great time to lock a tenant in for one or two years until the market regains traction and the broader economy commits to a real recovery.

On the buy side, it is once again the time to go for big price concessions and target foreclosure opportunities. Given the above, the best strategy today is buy and hold. Flip opportunities will be rare in the next six months to a year and now is a great time to lock in great 30-year fixed interest rates. Buying big at deep discounts should pay huge dividends in the coming years.

Buyers should also avoid the hassle of short sales. There are too many opportunities in the market (read high inventory levels) to waste time, energy and money pursuing a short sale that could take six months or more. Recent foreclosures offer better discounts and can be purchased quickly. Now is the time to buy low

Success as a Landlord- Leadership: Owners of Residential Rental Properties Must Be Assertive

Investors in apartment buildings, single-family homes, duplexes, and other residential properties are landlords. The aim of most landlords is simple: to have tenants who will treat their units like homes they cherish, pay their rent on time, and not be a nuisance to others. That simple goal eludes many novice landlords because they fail to establish their authority over their properties.

Selecting Tenants: Avoid Cash-Flow Erosion, Landlord Burnout

The proper selection of tenants is one of the most important responsibilities of a landlord. To carry out this duty, a landlord must have clear selection criteria and a legal and effective screening process. Shortcuts in this process can result in future problems and misunderstandings with the tenant. This may include expensive and time-consuming court proceedings, which in turn can erode cash flow and contribute to landlord burnout.

Informing Tenants: Strong Lease, Clear Rules

Landlords should use well-drafted leases and rules (the rules may separate or included in the lease) that put the tenants on notice of the course of conduct that is expected of them. For example, the lease should state when the rent is due and how it is to be paid. The rules may specify that the use of illegal narcotics on the premises by anyone or that loud music or noises after a specific hour can lead to eviction procedures.

Notifying Tenants: Following Landlord/Tenant Laws

Landlord/tenant statutes in the United States are written with the view that landlords enjoy a stronger bargaining position than their tenants and, therefore, that leases favor the landlord over the tenants. To level the playing field, the laws of each state specify, among other things, the types and timing of written notices that landlords must give their tenants about lease infractions and eviction proceedings. Landlords who fail to follow these specifications needlessly surrender their legal standing and risk seeing their cases thrown out of court.

In many states, after buying a rental property, a landlord is obliged to advise existing tenants in writing that the ownership has changed. This type of letter also should inform the tenants how to contact the landlord (or property manager), where to send or make the monthly rental payment, where the security deposits are being held, and how to request repairs.

Sometimes, a tenant may test a new owner by not paying rent, paying it late, or making unreasonable demands for upgrades. Perhaps the previous owner had been too timid to confront the tenant about such conduct. To avoid becoming the tenant’s “doormat,” the new landlord must swiftly and unequivocally show that he or she does not tolerate unreasonable demands and the lease being breached.

By applying the lease terms and rules to all of the tenants and by using a system of written notices, landlords demonstrate that they are in control and that no one receives special treatment. This is an effective business practice because it encourages good tenants to stay and bad ones to move.

Landlords Lead by Managing Tenants

Smart investors manage their investments; they do not allow investments to manage them. This is equally true for investors who are landlords: smart landlords do not allow their tenants to dictate how to run their properties.

Demonstrating control of a rental property does not mean being authoritarian, offensive, or uncompromising. It does mean acting like a leader, setting the tone of a tenancy, and enforcing lease terms and property rules in a consistent, even-handed manner.