Pear Tree Holiday Party, 2010 (l-r: Me, photographer Darlene Foster, musician Jim Cuthbert, artist Ed Hicks and his wife).
Pear Tree Enterprises, http://www.peartreeenterprises.com, is my home-based business which will be four years old this summer.
My business consists of doing what I do best: writing, book editing, promoting and some personal assistance. Sometimes I even model and do commercials when an attractive older woman is needed (like the time I was a mom in an Intel internet commercial).
While I have my slow periods, in the four years that I’ve been in business for myself, each year I earned more than the year before. I think that’s pretty good, considering the situation of our economy.
Sometimes I’ve been so bombarded with work I need to have an assistant help me. Other times, like today, I’m sitting around waiting for the phone to ring while watching junk TV. But that always changes in a heartbeat, as I just got two phone calls that will have my days filled to the brim for the rest of the week.
When I first started my business, one of my clients suggested a newsletter. That was the most brilliant suggestion, because every month when over 1000 people get that newsletter, either a new client comes on board, or a former client decides to return.
Other sources of income result from business cards and word-of-mouth.
I’m still trying to “work” Twitter and Linked-In — nothing yet, but I remain hopeful.
And there is one Mother Source where I get most of my work and clients.
Believe it or not — Craig’s List.
Some people are resistant to Craig’s List for so many reasons: the Craig’s List Killer, all the porn and prostitution advertising on it, all the cheapo companies that want to low-ball you with a pay scale that dates back to the 1950s, scams, links to viruses, and all the competition (people say they send out resumes and never hear back from anyone).
But trust me, once you sift through all the bullshit (and there is a super quick way to do that, once you know how to navigate — there are thinks you can look for to know what NOT to click on), there is a world of greatness on Craig’s List.
Just meet everyone for the first time in a public place and get references before working with them.
Now, not only have I met clients and scored work from Craig’s List, I met really nice people that remained acquainted with me long after the job I was hired for was done.
And that brings me to what I like most about having my own business. The variety of working with different people over the years. They come and go, but some stay a very long time. Two of my current clients have been with me since nearly the beginning; one of which has sent several other clients my way.
I’m so happy that I’ve been able to keep my small business going for four years now. It’s fun to be your own boss, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes I wish I had a “normal” 9 to 5 job and just used my talents as a creative outlet during my free time. I wouldn’t be digging it, but I wouldn’t be worrying about half the things I worry about like getting new clients, checks getting lost in the mail, chasing after people to get paid, etc.
And that is just during the slow times! Sometimes I’m so bombarded with work, I’m glued to the computer all day long without a break. While some people are 9 to 5, I could be 8:30 to 7:30! And I worry if I’ll get it all done.
Besides the slow periods, other things that can literally make or break my day are depending on tools such as: computer, telephone and car. They always have to be in tip top working condition. Early on, there was a day when the phone went out for the entire day — what a nightmare.
And sometimes there are clients that you just can’t get along with and you have to break up the working relationship; which is okay according to a life coach that I speak with from time to time, who says it’s not important to keep every client.
When it comes to clients, there are four categories:
High profit/high maintenance
High profit/low maintenance
Low profit/high maintenance
Low profit/low maintenance
Out of these four types, the ones you should obviously not keep are the low profit, high maintenance ones. Even if I have no work to do at all, I won’t work with a low profit, high maintenance client. It’s just not worth it. However, a low profit/low maintenance client can be a dream because you’re still making money but they’re not sapping your energy — which you will need when a high profit/high maintenance client comes along!
And of course, everyone wants a high profit/low maintenance client. To me, those are the high paying writing jobs that I can do very quickly — scoring $100 or more per hour.
I feel that through the ups and downs of having my own business, I am blessed to have something I believe in. Some people have the luck of the Irish and their businesses boom overnight. Others, like myself, are considered lucky because when things look their worst a ray of sunshine peers out from behind the clouds.
If Pear Tree continues to grow a little bit each year as it has been, I’ll be okay with that. It would be even better if it grew in leaps and bounds — but then again, a pear tree doesn’t grow overnight.