When a work fix-up works

I just finished a marathon week answering questions about small business with Kevin Salwen over at the Yahoo! Small Business Center.

We got a slew of interesting questions ranging from how to use social networking to grow a small business, to how to prevent people from stealing your idea, and how a small business can become more socially responsible. You can read all the questions and answers here, under the “See Expert Answers,” tab.

I always enjoy answering reader questions, but this time I also got a cool work experience out of the deal. Though I’d been aware of Salwen from his days at the Wall Street Journal, I’d only met him briefly before Yahoo! asked us to work together on this project.

If that match hadn’t gone so smoothly this week would have been a disaster.  Instead it was one of the smoothest collaborations I’ve ever had. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Do you have a small-business question?

Wondering whether your idea for a pet rental business would be viable? Whether you should go back for an MBA? How best to structure a loan from a family member to your business? Or anything else having to do with running a small business now?

My colleague, Kevin Salwen, is answering questions about small business as part of a contest being sponsored by Yahoo! Answers and Bank of America.

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Getting a self-employed mindset: 5 questions for Pamela Slim

I was raised with business in the background and the foreground. When I was in middle school, my parents bought their first motel — a small beachfront property on the Jersey Shore — and moved our family into an apartment on the second floor. We lived like that, alongside my parents’ work, for the rest of my teen years until I went off to college. Working for yourself feels natural to me, so it’s not all that surprising that I followed their path. But the model of self-employment I’ve chosen is worlds apart from theirs. They ran a physical business with employees and property. I work entirely on my own, with a laptop, a phone, a virtual assistant and a rotating group of colleagues and clients.

Like it or not, more people are going to be joining the ranks of the self-employed whether they do it in my parents’ style, in mine, or in some other way altogether.

If you didn’t grow up with entrepreneurship in your DNA, one way to catch up is to study at the heels of Pamela Slim, a consultant, life coach and blogger whose new book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is a roadmap to self-employment. I chatted with Slim about how the current economy is affecting people striking out on their own, how to launch a business on the side, and whether it’s possible to warm to self-employment when it’s not your natural inclination. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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The Best Side Businesses

Earlier this week I wrote about how to find the perfect part-time work to fit your life and I recommended considering something entrepreneurial rather than a job since it would provide more flexibility.  And as if the blogosphere were listening, soon after that, I discovered this excellent post, 50 Side Businesses You Can Start on Your Own, by Trent Lamm, the author of 365 Ways to Live on the Cheap, which sounds like a good title for these times. (Actually, Lifehacker discovered it first.)

Clearly, Trent is a man who likes lists. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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Using Business to Tackle Social Problems

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks learning about social entrepreneurship — a growing niche in which people use the skills of entrepreneurship to solve social problems. The result is a story in today’s New York Times: “A Social Solution, Without Going the Nonprofit Route, which looks at when and why these entrepreneurs would choose a business rather than a nonprofit to accomplish their goals.

While reporting this article, I stumbled across so many other story ideas that I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this terrain often in the coming months. Writing about people doing good in the world gave me a nice dose of inspiration, something that is in short supply when so much of the current news is anything but inspiring.
Read more »

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A Time for Bartering, and Winter Colds

My yoga instructor just canceled a private yoga session we had planned for tomorrow. I was so looking forward to starting my yoga program, especially because we had crafted an experiment perfect for tough times. She wants to work on her writing. I want to work on my yoga. So we’re bartering services — private writing classes for private yoga sessions — something ideally suited to freelancers with a marketable skill, and even for small businesses thinking creatively in tough times

But my yoga instructor was feeling sick, and she wrote me a sweet note telling me she didn’t want to infect me. So despite my disappointment, I thanked her. And then I sent her this post, “Feeling Sick? Stay Home,” which I wrote last winter in the thick of the season when large numbers of people were spreading around their germs by going to work and meetings when they should be staying home.  

So as the current environment continues — with unpredictable weather and turmoil in the economy — think about ways you can barter, and whether you can avoid meeting with other people when you’re sick.

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Keeping Kids Off the Streets, Through Business

Talking Business With Guy Kawasaki

A conversation with Guy Kawasaki, a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, blogger, speaker and author, about his new book, "Reality Check."

Talking Business With Guy Kawasaki

Entrepreneurs Get Out the Vote, for Themselves

A rash of small business contests has turned small business owners into get-out-the-vote advocates -- for their own companies.

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