Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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DR.JOB Q&A: Do I Dare Start a Business?



(Q.1) I HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA and I think it could become a really terrific business. But I wonder if this is viable. So many people have good ideas, and it doesn't seem as though they turn into anything. I have a job, and I'm not thinking about quitting. Do  you think my wife and I should invest some of our savings in pursuing this? We really worked hard to build that nest egg and we're not young.

(ANS.) YOU MUST MAKE the final decision about whether or not to risk some of your savings. But if you believe in the idea, and you still will have enough left in the savings account for old age-and you aren't going to quit your job-all that is in favor of pursuing this dream. First check with your banker, attorney and/or accountant to see if they believe your plan is workable and get a more accurate account of what it really will cost in the long term.. Search the Web to see if your idea has been used before. While many fail, some succeed, such as Lori and Michael Bredemeier, a husband and wife who founded Little Toader, makers of AppeTEETHERS, patented teething toys after their children were born and they saw a need for this.  See www.littletoader.com
Similarly, Kathleen Pisano, mom, nurse, and former forest fire fighter invented a beach umbrella anchor to prevent injuries flyaway beach umbrellas cause. Her device, called the Noblo Umbrella Buddy, and the story behind it, can be found at www.thenoblo.com .

STAND OUT IN INTERVIEWS

(Q.2) I FEEL I'VE BEEN LUCKY to get called in for interviews after I answered ads online, but I'm not sure I'm doing and saying the right things when I get there. So far I haven't had callbacks. Do you have some ideas?

(ANS.)  THE ECONOMY MAY HAVE something to do with your not being called back. There are many people lining up for every interview. But consider these ideas from Andrea Kay, author of This Is How To Get  Your Next Job. She says: Don't talk about things you can't back up. Employers want proof. Never say, "I have good people skills." Almost everyone says those and the words mean nothing. Don't say, "I just want to learn" They're not there to teach, but to deliver their product. Also, don't blurt out any dumb thing that comes into your head, and never give too much personal information. Answer only what you are asked.

NURSES CAN GET CORNER OFFICE TOO

(Q.3) I'M IN THE NURSING profession and would like to work toward an administrative position. I've been networking as everyone tells me is necessary, but I'm not sure I'm involving the right people. Any suggestions?

(ANS.) YOUR INSTINCTS ARE RIGHT. Just becoming popular throughout the organization is nice, but the key place to network is in the finance department. In her book, Claiming the Corner Office: Executive Leadership Lessons for Nurses, authors Connie Curran and Therese Fitzpatrick give the example of a nurse who realized her nurses training didn't include knowledge of finance. The one thing she did early on, she says, was to get to know the finance guys. She asked several to sit down with her with the income statement and the balance sheet and explain them to her. They trusted her because they knew she was informed, and she believes their support helped her get promoted to administration. That technique could help anyone.

USE CAUTION RAISING PRICE

(Q.4) I'VE BEEN RUNNING a suburban cleaning service 25 years and have raised prices modestly over that time. Customers now pay $80 for one cleaning lady for six hours. A corporation in the nearby city contacted me to clean their entire building . That will take most of my ladies, and it's hard for me to find replacements  to go to the suburbs for less than minimum wage, which is what I pay them. So I'm thinking of raising my daily fee to $90 a day which is higher than my competitors' price. How can I explain that to my customers without making them angry and quitting my service?

(ANS.) IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO CHARGE more than your competitors, you can expect your customers (who probably will call other services to check) to become irritated. Do some arithmetic with your accountant. See if your total annual profit from a contract with the corporation will surpass the income you make now for the same amount of work on your part. Also consider whether or not you are being honest and paying the required taxes on housework your ladies perform. If not, the taxes you'll pay from the corporate contract may influence your decision. Also consider whether or not you believe all the past years of customer loyalty is worth something.

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