Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scam Update

The National Association of Professional Women finally gave me my money back. As for the other Corporate Filing scams... there seems to be no recourse. I have not given up, however. If I learn anything more, I will let you know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Watch out for Scams Attacking New Business Owners

First rule of owning your own business … have an accountant on-hand to review all documentation that is sent to you asking for money and paperwork. My business was recently subject to some serious scams, and I want to take the time to warn others so they do not also fall victim.

Once your business is filed with the Federal Government and you are established as a new business owner, you will find many offers coming to you for this and that. Keep an eye out for the scams!

Annual Minutes Disclosure Filing scams (listed below) found me. Keep on the look out for such requests and ignore/discard them. They appear very legit equip with your business EIN and are firm in their wording, so if you are unsure as to how to respond run them by a trusted accountant first before acting in any way.

I received three Annual Minutes Disclosure Filing scams and each one was generated from a different office, thus checks were to be made out to three separate offices. Check amounts varied from $125 to $150 to $175.

The following I received were:

1. Annual Minutes Disclosure Filing: Corporate Compliance Filings Office
2. Annual Minutes Discloser Filing: Corporation Compliance Recorder Office
3. Annual Minutes Discloser Filing: Compliance Annual Minutes Board Office

The following sites represent a handful out of many and provide more information on the same scam:

http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2005/05/corporation_com.html - HinesSight blog
http://www.santabarbara.bbb.org/BBBWEB/Forms/General/BBBNewsArchivesPageDetail.aspx?News_ID=109&sm - Better Business Bureau, Santa Barbara County
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/75059/annual_minutes_mail_fraud_scam_strikes.html - Associated Content Article
http://akuaku.org/archives/2006/09/california_corp.shtml - Another personal experience
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/288/RipOff0288052.htm - Rip Off Report
http://www.incorporate.com/scam_alerts.html - The Company Corporation

Women! Watch out for Scams Targeting Female Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs

The National Association of Professional Women and the Cambridge Who’s Who seem to be in cahoots with one another. Coincidentally they are both owned by Scam Artist Matt Roman. There are also several other Who’s Who and other professional female organizations possibly owned by Roman that play the same game. Their play is to send you a direct mail postcard stating that you have been selected to receive a FREE one-year membership. After sending them your name and contact information to receive the complimentary membership someone calls and interviews you to see if you meet their high standards and criteria. It is some of the best scripted bait and switch scam sales crap I have ever heard. After you pass the interview they stroke your ego by congratulating you as if you’ve just won the Oscar™. Then the pitch comes on thick. They begin by trying to sell you two packages (neither of which is free, by the way).

The first level package is over $500 and the other is more than $800. When you mention the free membership offered through the mail they push harder to get you to cough up cash. When you resist further they offer a package at $189. When you push back even further they finally let up and tell you they will send you an email for the very basic membership package. The call ends there and the promised email never arrives. One lady badgered me so badly for not wanting to pay she made me feel like a derelict entrepreneur. So much so I simply recoiled and figured “it’s a good cause.” After all, I am a female entrepreneur trying to network with and assist other female entrepreneurs, so what the hell. Now I want to gouge her eyes out.

Almost immediately after the purging of funds I had immense buyer’s remorse, but I kept telling myself there will be benefits, right? So I kept a look out for the membership package said to arrive in 10 business days. The package, of course, never arrived. I felt ill having been scammed. The fact is that I am not stupid, but rather I am a trusting person - obviously to a fault. But if you were to read my CV you’d clearly see that my nature is giving and trusting just by the career and schooling choices I’ve made. They probably have professional profilers working for them lining up the perfect candidates to be bait and switched. And usually I am very good about letting things go, but not this. I’ve been relentless in demanding my money back. The last time I called I was so irate… “You f----d with the wrong bitch this time, Craig” … was among the most mild of utterances that rolled off my tongue. After being on hold for 20 minutes and routed back to the receptionist I finally got Craig back on the phone and was assured that I’d be getting my money back. We’ll see about that, but I can assure you that I will call everyday as part of my daily routine and will personally threaten Craig’s family jewels until I get my money back. Remember Lorena Bobbitt, Craig?

Below are some sites that also reference these two organizations as scams.


Here is a link that lists legitimate, qualified professional organizations for females:

Matt Roman buys his lists for his DM campaigns from this company:http://www.infinite-media.com/clients.aspx

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The One Month Whirlwind

What a whirlwind it has been, but Women Work Smart, Inc. is up and running at half speed putting me closer to my goal of having a better balance between paycheck and family. While I am still building the business alongside my full-time job, all of the pieces are beginning to fall into place. Spending a minimum of one hour per day has really enabled me to take one step at a time and lay the foundation of Women Work Smart. It’s been like building a pyramid. You cannot go to the next level without the level below being complete. And still, there are details that need restructuring down on some of the lower levels, but nothing remaining that will hinder furhter build out. Since I have decided to stop talking and start doing, I have completed the following tasks – tasks that may help some of you who are looking to leave your office cubicle (or as I refer to it, your cell block) behind to start your own thing. I will try to re-cap what was done in the order it was done, so it can be utilized as a checklist for others looking to do the same.

  • Created a business name, idea, purpose and target-market segment
  • Received some free advice from a lawyer about registering a business name and logo

  • Searched (and so did my lawyer friend) to see if the business name was already trademarked.

  • Bought a domain name/url complete with web hosting services

  • Drafted copy for the website

  • Created a website and logo design

  • Uploaded my website

  • Registered the business name and logo for trademark with lawyer assistance

  • Set up a PO Box in my town of business

  • Discussed with my accountant the best way to set up my business, i.e., d/b/a, LLC, S Corp, etc.

  • Took the advice of my accountant and met with a lawyer who helped me set up my corporation on both a state and federal level

  • Applied for and received a small start up loan --- you can do this through the Small Business Association (http://www.sba.gov/) or you can use your own line of credit. My credit is strong, so I chose the second option as I received a good rate and a quick turn-around for receiving the cash

  • Received my business ID Number and loan allotment and set up a free business checking account at Washington Mutual – making note with then that I will be using Quick Books Deluxe

  • Purchased Quick Books Deluxe as recommended by my accountant - the Deluxe edition allows you to not only mind your accounting, but also offers tools for invoicing and check writing. But in order to use the check writing feature, you must notify your bank that you plan to do so.

  • Applied for an in-home business license through the city council office.

  • Acquired a separate phone line. I found the best solution to be a basic cell phone plan. Limited minutes, no texting, no email. Once the business ramps up, the phone plan can be extended to include whatever is needed to conduct business from a mobile device.

  • Created business cards. This step had to wait until all of my contact information was in place, i.e., business phone, address, url, trademark, etc.

All of this was done in one-month’s time. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The day will come that I can support myself by my own mompreneurial means leaving me more time for family and me. It’s a great feeling and way to get you through the daily office grind to know that something is brewing – something healthy, something all yours and something you want to share and implement with and for others like you to help them achieve what they want.

The next step toward my goal of working full-time from as my own home business owner is to build up my bank account or nest egg so that it contains enough cash for me to survive through an entire six-week billing cycle. Once that goal is achieved, I can cut all ties to my current full-time job and fly solo. This crucial step I hope to achieve by (no later than) August of 2009 – the month that my daughter starts kindergarten through the public school system. This will be the same month that I cease paying 12K per year for daycare, and the month that she returns home from school after only a half-day (around 2PM) rather than 5PM.

August 2009 will be when the real test comes into play… Will I sink or swim? It’s a risk, but it’s one that I am willing and ready to take.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Four Day Work Week

It seems like no matter how hard we work and the better we become at what we do, we never feel appropriately compensated. The money is never enough. The more you have, the more you need and want. And at the end of the day, what is it that we really need and want? Depending on the individual it may be more money, but for me, more valuable than money is more time, more flexibility and more freedom.

Balancing work with a family is hard. No one ever said it would be easy, but females like me growing up in the 70’s were promised more. It seemed that we were taught that we could have it all. An empty promise at best, taught to us by women hoping to achieve it all. Don’t get me wrong, without the bra-burners of the late 60's and early 70’s, the Suffragettes of the early 1900’s, and many women before that, we’d have no rights at all. And while there have been times in our history when women have filled men’s jobs, prior to the 1970’s most women were not both tending house and working full-time. And if they were, they rarely filled high-powered career roles. Nonetheless, the bra-burning mothers of the 70’s raised a female generation to think they could have it all. Truth is, we can have it all, but something has to give. So where do we place the sacrifice?

Inevitably, as a woman, wife and mother, personal sacrifices are made. The household is a business and guess what; we (the women) are the CEOs. That’s not to say our husband and children do not help out, but it’s usually up to the women to set the rules and dish out the duties. So without doing anything but saying ‘I do’ and bearing children – our biological birth rite - we make a sacrifice… that of our personal time and freedom. At first I found this to be a challenge, but no longer do I feel that my personal time is a sacrifice compared to what I have gained. But when you start to pile on your plate a 9-5 job, or career, (as if that makes it sound better) then your time is really sacrificed, and for what? Who really reaps the benefits? We get the paycheck, but someone else has the flexibility, freedom and finances of owning the business. This is why women must work smart – to find a balance between time and freedom but still earn the big bucks, hence Women Work Smart, Inc. We know we are smart…If we weren’t, we would not be able to keep up the pace of the juggling act it takes these days to run a household – the one to which you contribute your blood, sweat, tears AND paycheck. And if you can be the CEO of that operation while holding down a 9-5, why not be the CEO of your own profitable business?

If time is more precious than money, and you are more willing to sacrifice career over family, then start working smart by negotiating a four-day work week as a salary increase. That is, see if your boss is willing to allow you to work a shorter week. Instead of a 40-hour, 5-day work week see if you can arrange a 32-hour, four-day work week at your current salary and in-lieu of any annual monetary raises. A few girlfriends of mine have been very successful negotiating this situation, and they cannot be happier. Occasionally, their supervisors will ask them to work an extra day for a bit more money, but they always say no because time is more important to them than climbing the corporate ladder. For some us the corporate grass is not necessarily greener, but we still must hail our founding foremothers who proudly fought for equal rights and taught us that we can do anything a man can do – including owning and running our own businesses.

While I was not as successful as some of my soul sisters in negotiating a four-day work week, I have found another way to still make Women Work Smart a reality. Instead of having one extra day each week to build the business, I have one extra hour each day. That said, I dedicate one hour, Monday-Friday, working on my business plan, website, etc. According to a very wise friend of mine, an empire can be built dedicating your focus to one hour everyday. So let’s see how far Women Work Smart has come after only one month of applying the one hour per day motto.

Although I didn’t get my four-day work week, I did get a nice raise. After all, we still have to bring home the bacon… then fry it up in a pan, then wash the pan … well you get the point.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Old Friends and Spontaneity

Yesterday was a fabulous day. Old friends and spontaneity, the perfect elixir.

It was a beautiful day, and with my 4-year old in tow, I set out to meet some delicious old friends. You know the kind ... the free-flowing conversations so meaty and deep you can truly sink your heart, mind and teeth into them. And unlike our usual planned 'girl' get togethers, this one was completely spontaneous. I love spontaneity, and man do I miss the ability to act on it. Marriage, kids, responsibility, all the elements of adulthood that sometimes make spur of the moment engagements hard, if not impossible. Our get togethers are usually planned, and making the arrangments can be painstaking... Five to eight email exchanges among us just to verify which dates on the calendar are free for all of us. By the time the strand of emails come to a close, the date is usually so far off in the distance its months away. The process alone is the antithesis of spontaneity. But not this encounter. This time was perfect ... just meant to be, I guess.

And man was I tired, but I wasn't going to let lack of sleep stop me from spur of the moment fun. The night before, my 4-year old decided that wake up time was 4 AM, and that I needed to be her playmate. Ah, restful sleep, another quality of life luxury out the window with parenting. Tired as we were, we managed to trudge on through the next day, and I'm so glad we did because this tired mom needed some down and out girl time.

I think we all can agree that one thing universally female is the need to meet up with other women. Not just any women, but THE women who have helped shape us into the people we are today. THE women with whom you share your secrets, desires, and the you name it [insert answer here]. Nothing interferes with the need - there are no boundaries that cannot be overcome. If one of THE women in your life moves out of your zipcode, the connection stays strong, even if face to face encounters are few and far between. It just doesn't matter. Once that connecton is made, the bond lasts forever, and so does the need to converse with THAT woman.

So this past Sunday I got to spend some time with some of THE women in my life. Women I met in the Peace Corps, halfway across the globe. Now, ten plus years later, we live within 60 miles of one another, and for years we didn't even know it! None of us born where we live today, yet something brought each of us here... I guess it was just meant to be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Day of Enlightenment

Today is the day I stop talking and start doing.

For some time now I have realized that my career must have a sense of importance, usefulness, be heart-felt and somehow help others and benefit my community. Having the flexibilty and freedom of self-employment while performing it, that is my dream...

Thanks to some fabulous friends and many months of introspection, I now know how all aspects of my abilities, knowledge, passion and desire to work hard and help others can work together to form the perfect storm.

Today, Women Work Smart was born. Its principles, foundation and pilars are all the inspiration I need to take charge, act now and push forward.