TELECOMMUTIING employ ment

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TELECOMMUTIING employ ment

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First and foremost, I want to thank my clients and my friends for supporting me when I decided to take the leap into the telecommuting lifestyle. It was very much like skydiving for the first time—massive fear and adrenaline until you land on the ground. If you get it right once, you want to do it again and again. Above all, I want to thank my wife for not passing out the day I showed up at home for lunch—and never went back. Through my odd little twists and turns in my latest endeavors, even though you didn't understand everything I did,...

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  1. TELECOMMUTING EMPLOYMENT The Complete Guide Version 3.10.01.10.02 Edward B. Toupin
  2. All trademarks mentioned throughout this publication are property of their respective owners. Published in 2001 by Edward B. Toupin, Las Vegas, NV, United States. Copyright © 2001, Edward B. Toupin. All rights reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission of Edward B. Toupin. Contact the publisher at publish@toupin.com and the author at etoupin@toupin.com. Visit the online library at http://www.toupin.com/library/. Provide your feedback at http://www.toupin.com/library/form_main.html.
  3. Table of Contents List of Tables .......................................................................................................................................vii List of Figures.....................................................................................................................................viii About The Author .................................................................................................................................ix Acknowledgements ..............................................................................................................................xi Preface ................................................................................................................................................xiii Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................1 Why do it? ...........................................................................................................................................1 Can I do it?..........................................................................................................................................2 What do I do? ......................................................................................................................................2 How do I do it? ....................................................................................................................................2 Making the Decision ..............................................................................................................................3 Influencing Factors ..............................................................................................................................3 Do I have what it takes?.......................................................................................................................4 Making It Happen ................................................................................................................................6 What are the steps?...............................................................................................................................9 Preparing Your Plan ............................................................................................................................9 Set Yourself Up .................................................................................................................................10 Prepare Your Business ......................................................................................................................10 Market Your Product or Service .........................................................................................................10 Pack Away the Money .......................................................................................................................11 Easy Does It ......................................................................................................................................11 Quit Your Job ....................................................................................................................................11 Planning ...............................................................................................................................................13 Determining the Objectives ................................................................................................................13 Steps to Defining your Objectives ..................................................................................................14 Defining Your Mission........................................................................................................................15 Steps to Creating the Mission Statement .......................................................................................16 Defining Your Vision ..........................................................................................................................17 Steps to Creating the Vision Statement..........................................................................................17 Redefining Your Goals.......................................................................................................................18 Steps to Defining Goals .................................................................................................................19 Establishing an Action Plan ...............................................................................................................19 Steps to Creating the Action Plan ..................................................................................................20 The Basic Business Plan ...................................................................................................................20 Setting Yourself Up .............................................................................................................................23 Establish Yourself..............................................................................................................................24 Locating a Job ...................................................................................................................................25 Make Yourself Known........................................................................................................................26 The Presentation ...............................................................................................................................27 Interviews ..........................................................................................................................................28 Offers and Acceptance ......................................................................................................................30 Telecommuting ....................................................................................................................................31
  4. Possible Telecommuting Jobs............................................................................................................32 Business Ideas ....................................................................................................................................35 Business Consulting ..........................................................................................................................35 Booklet Publishing .............................................................................................................................40 Home-Based Typing ..........................................................................................................................41 Personal Factors ...........................................................................................................................42 Imagination....................................................................................................................................42 Ensuring Success and Survival......................................................................................................43 Lack of Money is No Excuse for Failure .........................................................................................43 Your Banker ..................................................................................................................................44 Naming Your Business ..................................................................................................................44 Pricing...........................................................................................................................................45 Service Guidelines.........................................................................................................................45 Pace Yourself................................................................................................................................45 Information Brokering ........................................................................................................................46 Phone Counselor...............................................................................................................................47 How do you qualify? ......................................................................................................................48 How do I get started? ....................................................................................................................48 Ok, I can read tarot. Now what?....................................................................................................49 How does this work? .....................................................................................................................49 What's the catch? ..........................................................................................................................50 For you, I see ... ............................................................................................................................50 Resume Writing.................................................................................................................................50 Setting Up .....................................................................................................................................52 Resumes and Cover Letters ..........................................................................................................52 Marketing ......................................................................................................................................53 Interviewing the Client ...................................................................................................................54 Preparing the Resume...................................................................................................................55 Fees for Your Service....................................................................................................................56 Cover Letter ..................................................................................................................................56 Make It Happen .............................................................................................................................56 Self-Publishing ..................................................................................................................................57 Find Your Market...........................................................................................................................57 Cash in on Your Creativity and Expertise.......................................................................................58 Packaging .....................................................................................................................................58 Focus on Salable Material .............................................................................................................58 Fill the Material with Benefits .........................................................................................................59 Emotional Appeal ..........................................................................................................................59 Advertising ....................................................................................................................................59 Remote Temporary Help....................................................................................................................61 Setting Up Your Business ...................................................................................................................69 Creating the Organization ..................................................................................................................69 Sole Proprietorship ........................................................................................................................70 Partnership....................................................................................................................................70 Limited Liability Company ..............................................................................................................71 Corporation ...................................................................................................................................72 The IRS.............................................................................................................................................73 Payroll Taxes ................................................................................................................................73 Federal Income Tax Obligations ....................................................................................................74 Sales Tax ......................................................................................................................................75 State Tax.......................................................................................................................................76 Insurance ..........................................................................................................................................76 Business Resources ..........................................................................................................................77
  5. Marketing Your Wares .........................................................................................................................79 Writing Free Content..........................................................................................................................80 Using the Internet to Promote ............................................................................................................81 Web Site Madness ........................................................................................................................81 Discussion Groups ........................................................................................................................82 Zines .............................................................................................................................................82 Newsgroups ..................................................................................................................................83 Make Sense of the Search...................................................................................................................85 Why so many?...................................................................................................................................85 I'm over here! ....................................................................................................................................86 The Search Methods .........................................................................................................................87 Using a Tool ......................................................................................................................................88 The Presentation ...............................................................................................................................88 What's next?......................................................................................................................................88 Locating Opportunities........................................................................................................................91 What can I do? ..................................................................................................................................91 How do I smell?.................................................................................................................................92 Locating Opportunities.......................................................................................................................92 Search Sites..................................................................................................................................93 Other Resources ...........................................................................................................................93 Make Yourself Known........................................................................................................................94 The Interview.....................................................................................................................................94 Landing a Job....................................................................................................................................95 Balancing Your Finances ....................................................................................................................97 Financial Planning .............................................................................................................................97 Paying the Bills..................................................................................................................................98 Working & Living at Home................................................................................................................. 101 Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day .................................................................................................... 101 Combining Work and Home............................................................................................................. 102 Your Home Office ............................................................................................................................ 104 Can your business thrive out of your home? ................................................................................ 104 Dealing with Customers and Suppliers......................................................................................... 105 Neighbors and Family.................................................................................................................. 106 Being Your Own Boss ................................................................................................................. 106 Professionalism ........................................................................................................................... 107 Healthy Lifestyle .......................................................................................................................... 107 Work Hours ................................................................................................................................. 108 Legal Restrictions ............................................................................................................................ 108 Tips to Help You Telecommute Successfully.................................................................................... 109 Taking the Leap ................................................................................................................................. 111 Before You Quit............................................................................................................................... 111 Quit—With Dignity! .......................................................................................................................... 112 Things to be aware of... ................................................................................................................... 113 Security....................................................................................................................................... 113 Socializing and Being Liked ......................................................................................................... 114 Promotion and Visibility ............................................................................................................... 114 Fear ............................................................................................................................................ 115 Bartering for Work ....................................................................................................................... 115 Sure, I'll Do It For Free! ............................................................................................................... 116
  6. Scheduling Your Time ....................................................................................................................... 117 Starting Out ..................................................................................................................................... 117 If You Schedule It, Make It Happen.................................................................................................. 119 Last Minute Scheduling ................................................................................................................... 119 A1. General Links ........................................................................................................................ 122 A2. Research Links...................................................................................................................... 124 A3. Tools and Software ............................................................................................................... 125 A4. E-Book Marketing Links........................................................................................................ 127 A5. Web Site Marketing Plan....................................................................................................... 131 A6. Telecommuting Web Sites .................................................................................................... 132 A7. Telecommuting Companies.................................................................................................. 134 A8. Government Links................................................................................................................. 138 A9. Personal Objectives .............................................................................................................. 139 A10. Do I have what it takes?........................................................................................................ 140 A11. Am I ready? ........................................................................................................................... 142 A12. Business Plan ....................................................................................................................... 143 Information Resources..................................................................................................................... 144 A13. Job Search Checklist ............................................................................................................ 147 A14. Glossary ................................................................................................................................ 148 Index................................................................................................................................................... 151
  7. List of Tables Table 1: Potential Telecommuting Jobs..................................................................................................32
  8. List of Figures Figure 1: Creating Your Goals................................................................................................................18
  9. About The Author Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author living in Las Vegas. He currently handles technical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, and Denver as well as imagineers and markets feature-length and short screenplays. Edward provides quality Web site design, development, and marketing as well as writing, document design and planning, and e-book publishing services. You can visit his Web site at http://www.toupin.com or contact him at etoupin@toupin.com.
  10. Acknowledgements First and foremost, I want to thank my clients and my friends for supporting me when I decided to take the leap into the telecommuting lifestyle. It was very much like skydiving for the first time—massive fear and adrenaline until you land on the ground. If you get it right once, you want to do it again and again. Above all, I want to thank my wife for not passing out the day I showed up at home for lunch—and never went back. Through my odd little twists and turns in my latest endeavors, even though you didn't understand everything I did, you have been most supportive! Thank you.
  11. Preface I actually had a wonderful career as a software engineer. I worked on real-time, process control systems for the larger oil companies. I had a big house in the mountains, two fancy trucks, and all the bills that usually come with the idea of living comfortably. I was caught in Corporate America by the golden handcuffs, but I had to have more. Not more money—I wanted more time to spend with the family and more time to do the things that I wanted to do. Being in Corporate America for so long, I took the standard approach to finding more—I started searching for higher paying jobs. I was able to locate and qualify for numerous technical and managerial positions; however, I began to realize that I was going deeper into a corporate hole. Unless I was willing to give up my identity, my creativity, all my spare time, and my ability to enjoy life, then finding a new job was not going to work. I found that I was spending more time at the office, more money maintaining the image and less time with my family. Even with a higher paying job, I still just broke even on all fronts! One of the major issues I had when I left my former company was that I no longer felt like I was accomplishing anything, because everyone wanted me to do something. I know, this sounds whiney, but the problem was that I was a Web developer, a writer, a software engineer, and a mathematician. I was working in every department doing all kinds of things from tutoring developers in software engineering processes, to writing Internet applications, to Web design, to writing manuals and white papers. I was even used in various meetings, and on various documents, to translate highly technical items into layman's terms for the clients. One day, I decided to play hooky. I just relaxed on my deck and read a book. Out of the blue, I felt this cold chill go down my back—all the tiny hairs stood up on end. A vision of freedom flashed through my brain and I finally realized that I had to quit my day job! Yes, tell the boss that I've had it and I quit! Then I realized that I still have that big house in the mountains, two fancy trucks, and all the bills. I was stuck! Here is where I have to explain something. For the past decade or so, I've been writing for various publishers and developing Web sites on the side. My little part-time hobby was grossing more than my full-time day job. I never realized that I could succeed on my own until I took a long, hard look at what was happening in my life. I was brainwashed by the corporate mentality! I felt as though I needed to work for others to make it in this world. My actual realization was not that I just had to quit my job—I had to work for myself. During the past six years, I learned how to find telecommuting work, how to contact publishers, how to contact producers, and how to make it happen. With the experience I gained over the years, I knew how to make it happen all along—I just had to do it!
  12. What I'm going to show you is how to use your experience to begin establishing yourself. In this way, you can eventually break out of your golden handcuffs and turn your life, and your career, into something that you want. It's not easy! In fact, at the beginning, you'll end up with sleepless nights and probably end up wishing you were employed full-time again. But, after all is said and done and you break out of the corporate mind-set, it's rewarding and it's yours!
  13. Introduction About a year ago I wrote Gainfully Unemployed. It was a short e-book about how I planned the steps to quitting my full-time day job and go to work for myself. It sold well, however, readers wanted more than just my view of how to get into telecommuting. So, I took that e-book and expanded it into this e-book to give you what you wanted. Throughout this new e-book, you will notice references to independent and telecommuting. That's because the idea of telecommuting has several different definitions. To some, it is working at home a few days a week. To others, it is working full-time for a company in their home office. For others still, it is simply working at home for themselves. The one common element is the idea of being independent in your life and your choices. In the long run, what it is to you is up to you! Why do it? I had a hundred reasons to want to telecommute and I knew I had to do it. I just didn't know how to go about fine tuning my desires and still maintain my quality of life. I eventually sat down and same up with a small list of reasons why I wanted to telecommute. I ultimately wanted • the freedom to be creative; • to eliminate the commutes to the city; • the time to spend with my family; and
  14. • my wife to enjoy herself. Those few points were my underlying reasons for wanting to telecommute. Of course, my managers, at that time, scoffed at the ideas. But what better reason to do anything than to do it because it is something you want and you enjoy. Do what you enjoy and the You might think that your reasons for telecommuting money will follow! are invalid. Believe it or not, all of the possible reasons that anyone can think of are valid reasons for making it happen. Of course, your current employer might not take kindly to some of the reasons, and others may not fully understand your motivations. It really doesn't matter! As long as you feel strongly enough about your reasons, then you should pursue your desired directions. Once I made the decision, I realized that the money and the flexible hours came along with the package—an added bonus! Can I do it? Of course, various personal attributes that can make or break you, but many of the issues involved in telecommuting can be overcome. There are a few items, however, that are born into each of us making it difficult under any circumstance. These traits, too, can be overcome as long as you can recognize that they do exist. What do I do? You can either take your current experiences and market them or you can change careers altogether! I wouldn't necessarily suggest that you suddenly shift gears and do something that you have always wanted to do, but have no idea how to do it. For starters, focus on your hobbies. What you do after hours is usually a good indication of what you can do beyond your day job. How do I do it? That's what we are here to discuss. There are many ways to break into a telecommuting situation; however, you must be careful to do it in such a way as not to completely disrupt your life. What we will discuss is the way I did it and how I made it work. As with all things, doing it, of course, is much different than talking about it.
  15. Making the Decision Making the decision to leave your full-time job is one of those big decisions. They say marriage, birth, death, changing residence, and changing jobs are five of the more stressful situations that a human being can encounter—they all take a lot of courage. Courage, however, doesn't pay the bills. To be successful, you not only need courage, but you also need a combination of hard work, skill, perseverance, and several personal factors that can ensure your success. I made the change after years of preparation. For some, you may have the time to prepare, but for others, there may not be any time. Downsizing and job loss are two major reasons for starting out on your own. Other reasons may be that you want to take advantage of your talents or simply change careers. There are many reasons. But, if you still have a job, why leave? Right? Maybe not. Influencing Factors Before you can take the leap, you have to step back and look at things to make sure you're making the right decision. First, analyze why you want to make this move. The different reasons that people decide to leave their jobs can be divided into two categories: reactive reasons and active reasons. Reactive reasons detract from working for others—negative reasons that push you out. Active reasons attract you to leaving your current situation—positive reasons that pull you out. It's usually better to be pulled out than pushed out as reactive reasons tend to stick with you
  16. from job to job. If you are pulled out, you're going somewhere for greener pastures instead of leaving because you've become dissatisfied with the environment. In either case, the following list contains some of the more common active reasons that cause people to leave their full-time jobs: • Finances: The desire to get paid for the extra effort you put into your work. • Freedom: The ability to decide for yourself and maintain a flexible schedule. • Quality of Life: Being able to live a better and healthier life. • Family: Being able to spend more time with your family. • Adventure: Breaking out of the mold and taking a risk. • Bureaucracy: Tired of dealing with the red tape and in-fighting. • Creativity: Being able to express your ideas and produce your products. • Control: Taking total control of your life and your direction. Can you see any of your personal reasons listed? If so, you're not alone. But, what can you do to resolve those issues and the reasons you have? Keeping reading, we'll discuss that shortly. Do I have what it takes? Most people do have what it takes, but they don't know it yet. Being able to work independently is not as easy as working for someone else, especially since you become the workforce and the management. Once you take the first step and decide to work for yourself, or by yourself, you then have to make it happen, successfully. That's an entirely different situation. It takes a certain set of characteristics to make an independent endeavor successful. Some of the more common, yet unique, traits of successful independents are as follows. Pay attention to them and judge yourself for each! • Achievement: Many people measure their achievement based on their money, while others through their accomplishments. You'll need to gauge your success on your accomplishments and achievements. This means that you must be able to accomplish your goals and move forward to the next in an established pattern. • Social: It's a lonely world out there, and being independent amplifies this issue. To be successful, you can't have a need to be around people all of the time, nor should it matter if you're liked. Exercising power is important to many people and, in most cases that's all that some people know. You're in business to achieve your goals, and that's all there is to it! Be a non- conformist.
  17. • Commitment: You have to be able to follow through on a commitment. This means that when you sign a contract or shake a hand, you're in to the end. • Objectivity: With commitment comes the need for an objective view. You need to weigh risks associated with a course of action as well as be realistic about your abilities. • Expertise: With your technical expertise and experiences, you should be able to properly judge your projects to determine if you can succeed. • Attitude: You will encounter strange, new worlds and you will have to adapt, learn, and succeed under new circumstances. Always be optimistic and always maintain your emotions when dealing with others. Be positive! • Money: Don't take money for granted and try to view it as a means to an end. Use money as a way to accomplish things and to keep score in your new world. • Resourceful: You have to be able to think on your feet, have enough knowledge to know where to look for answers, have a networking group available, and be a solid problem solver. • Relationships: Personal relationship skills are important, as you will need to properly represent yourself under all circumstances. • Communication Skills: Communications skills are important, as you will need to provide legible presentations, reports, e-mail, and documentation. • Anticipate: Be proactive and anticipate developments before they occur. If the issue is an important one, act on it before it requires attention. • Organized: Be able to maintain a tight, prioritized schedule and don't waste time on items that are better left undone. • Discipline and Hard Work: Sit down and do the work. Ignore distractions and make sure you accomplish your goals. How do your personal traits match up against those mentioned above? Realize that these traits are not only important to someone that wants to break away and become independent, but they also apply to someone who would telecommute, full-time, for a corporation. Take note that age, sex, martial status, and education have very little to do with the actual success of anyone deciding to become an independent. Many people succeed as teenagers while many don't feel the desire to even try until they are in their later 40s. If the information doesn't sound like you, then you'll need to think long and hard about your decision. In some cases, you can learn those aspects that are missing. In others, your ability to succeed is left up to your ability to adapt. Another option is to hire others to handle those tasks, or provide those traits, that you're missing. For instance, if you're a poor organizer, hire a secretary to manage your schedule or hire a project manager to handle your anticipation and objectivity issues.
  18. Making It Happen Actually, once you make the decision, you're already making it happen. I remember waiting for years deciding whether I wanted to take the leap. But, one thing I found was that I could come up with a hundred reasons why I shouldn't take the leap, and only a few reasons why I should. I always worked in the ivory tower of corporations and I always worked to climb the ladder. As I went up the ladder, I missed having my hands in the middle of the work. I wanted to do the work, not watch the work happen around me. My mind was racing and playing tricks. I liked the steady trickle of money from my full-time job because I knew that if something happened, my wife would be okay. I knew that I would have a job for years to come and I would never have to go on another interview. On the other side, I knew that I could make more money if I worked for myself. I also knew that I would have to find work and try to keep it and I would always be interviewing for new work. I did some self-analysis to define the real problems that contributed to my indecision. Stay or go. Do or don't. After some thought, I concluded that I was scared. I was scared to death to take the chance at success. Many of the people that go to a psychiatrist's office aren't failures—many of those people are successes. People have an inherent fear of success. It's easier to wallow in sameness and security than it is to make a change to set yourself up for success. The way I handled my fear was to start jotting down what I thought success was for me. I made a huge list of the things that I thought would put me in a position of being successful, by my own standards. Money, home, high-paying job, writing more books, and numerous other items. The problem was that I was not specific in my success list, which left me just as confused and scared as before. I sat down and rewrote the list, this time, being more specific: 1. $150,000 per year 2. working in a creative position where I could write and develop ideas and direction 3. write and publish 10 books this year covering predefined topics 4. write and self-publish two books this year covering predefined topics 5. ... This is something I could work with. Now I could sit down and create the steps required to achieve each item. But, do you notice the inconsistencies in the list? You can't write creatively and develop your own ideas, write books, make that
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