Online Business Planning for Newbs

Have you discovered a need that can be filled online? Are you decided in your approach to fill that need? Are you clueless or brand new to the process of creating, publishing and maintaining a website? If so, this article is for you.

At this point, you may have already outlined your operations strategy and colorfully grown your brain child into an impressive embryo of idea rich DNA. And, if you are a business mind worth anywhere near your salt, you are preparing to tackle all those unknown expletives…lol…or rather variables

1. Know Your 1, 2, 3s

First thing’s first. A decision to proceed and capitalize on the shiny new “land of opportunity,” found in the WWW, is a decision to either spend money (hopefully wisely) OR invest considerable time. Again, just to be clear, your success will be a derivative of either 1. Monetary Investment or 2. Substantial Time Investment. And, in most cases, depending on the lofty or lowly goals you may set, 3. Both could be imperative.

It is, therefore, necessary to ensure you make the “right” decision for YOU and your business model. There is typically a direct relationship between the quality of development and the amount of monetary investment required. A good web developer will cost a good amount of money while a great developer will cost a great amount of money. The same is true of your time investment. If you are completely inexperienced, developing a site, alone, from scratch, will require serious time in order to conquer the learning curve involved. The more complex or polished you desire your site to be, the more the time investment you must make in order to get it that way.

You must also consider that websites are not static. Generally speaking. They will consequently require occasional or frequent updates. These updates could be necessary on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis depending on your business needs.

Again, this will cost either money or time. Unless, of course, you have an awesome friend who is adept at all things “web” and can give you a courtesy hook-up. Otherwise, build this cost into your business budget and plan. It is an absolute.

2. Mark Your Method

Once you have picked your poison and chosen your pill, outline the next steps of your process (realistically). Example: When tying shoes, step 1 is take string A and crossover string B…In other words, you want a REAL step by step process in place so you can quickly identify your preferred criteria and make an informed decision. That process can take a while. So, we created the following starter checklist just to get you started:

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When evaluating potential developers you will want to evaluate:

1. Are their prices competitive?

2. Does their work portfolio include examples similar to your expectations?

3. Can they provide ongoing maintenance as you would need it?

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When deciding on a DIY-business project you will want to do the following:

1.  Establish a set period of time (start and finish) during which you will commit to hone your skills as a developer.

2. Decide what information (i.e. books, websites, how-to articles, etc.) you need to study in order to create the vision you have in mind.

3. Consider and plan to study all necessary security measures if developing an e-commerce site.

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3. EXECUTE!!!

A plan means NOTHING without action. Therefore, plan the execution of your plan. Set a solid start date and develop a timeline with various (practical) goals. Understand that the nature of planning denotes that everything will not always go according to plan. So, plan for change. Build a “review period” into your timeline and prioritize celebrating your successes in addition to acknowledging where/how you need to improve.

4. Launch

Never approach a launch casually. Be sure to check and double check and triple check site functionality. Have others proofread and test the site thoroughly. After all is officially approved-set and promote your launch. And, when you arrive at this point in the process, give yourself a pat on the back. Invite your friends over for a party. Go out on the town. Whatever you do, make sure you do something AND enjoy yourself!!! You have reached a significant milestone in the life of your business. Whether you contracted someone to help put flesh on your idea or you did all the grunt work alone, you still have great cause to be excited. Make a big deal about your launch. You earned it!

Quick recap, understand the different types of investments that will be required. Choose one (or a combination). Build your plan according to the corresponding investment method. Execute your plan. Launch your business!

Would You Like to Talk with Your Hands?

Would You Like to Talk with Your Hands?

What do I do for work?  I talk a lot with my hands.  While that is definitely an oversimplification, it is not wrong.  I am an interpreter for American Sign Language and spoken English.  I specify “American” because each country has its own unique signed language and it is not based on the spoken language of the land.  British Sign Language even uses a different alphabet from American Sign Language!

I never dreamed I would be an interpreter growing up.  I have no Deaf family members nor had I met a Deaf person until I went to college.  I had a myriad of jobs before becoming an interpreter: firefighter/EMT, karate instructor, weight loss counselor, nanny, CPR instructor trainer, veterinary technician, and more.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being introduced to this rich sociolinguistic culture and community.

The Deaf community is tightknit and can be cautious with newcomers, but its members are very welcoming when they see sincerity and commitment.  They are generous with their time, investing in future interpreters to help us improve our skills. They are nurturing, loving, blunt, and very much my second family.

So why am I telling you all of this?  There are not enough interpreters to fill the job requests in Houston and nationwide.   While Deaf people do not need interpreters, they certainly have the right to interpreters in many instances.  Deaf people have a wide array of interests and professions; there are Deaf skydivers, doctors, attorneys, scuba divers, politicians, cruise goers, etc.  I interpret phone calls between Deaf and hearing people, which has involved anything from calling in pizza orders and prescription refills to interpreting phone sex and drug deals.  The latter two are not that common, but those types of calls come in from time to time. Interpreting is such an enjoyable profession because there is never a dull moment. One of my favorite venues to interpret is at comic cons and pop culture events because there are Deaf people attending who are nerds like me.  The fact that I worked in such a sundry of areas prior to becoming an interpreter has really proved invaluable.

Not only is there a paucity of interpreters nationwide, but there is also a lack of diversity in the pool of available interpreters.  Deaf and hearing consumers desire interpreters who accurately represent their cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds but as it stands, most interpreters are white, cisgender women.  Men do not want me following them into their prostate exams, nor would I be an ideal choice for interpreting a Black Lives Matter rally. I may possess the knowledge and vocabulary to interpret both assignments, but being a white, cisgender female, I do not believe I would be the best fit.  For that reason, it is imperative that we reach out to various populations to recruit interpreters who mirror the diversity of the Deaf community and the community at-large.

Depending on where you live, the credentials for becoming an interpreter vary.  In Texas, we have a state certification called the BEI (Board of Evaluation of Interpreters).  In order to sit for the performance portion of that exam, applicants are required to have completed 60 credit hours of college coursework in any subject.  For the National Interpreter Certification (NIC), applicants are required to have a four-year degree or a combination of education and work experience in order to sit for the exam.  

Now for the question many people ask…don’t you just volunteer your time?  I mean, you can’t actually make a living as an interpreter, right? Wrong.  Interpreters earn a decent wage, which again varies dependent upon where they live.  I work for Lone Star College and our part-time interpreters make between $32-$46/hour dependent upon their certification levels.  Interpreters working a full-time job with benefits typically earn less per hour but can count on a steady paycheck. The low cost of living in Houston, Texas must also be factored into that equation.  For example, interpreters in the Washington, D.C. area may earn more but the cost of living is significantly higher.

So, what do you think?  Is interpreting for you?  I am not going to sugar coat it: interpreting is a tough profession.  ASL is as difficult to learn as any other language. Learning the language and immersing yourself in the community is a significant time commitment and truly a life-long process.  This job is not for everyone, but I would not trade it for anything. Check out Discover Interpreting for information on interpreting nationwide.  If you are in Houston, I can direct you to the program closest to you or you can visit the Lone Star College System Interpreter Training Program information on our webpage.  You are also welcome to contact me at leyelhudson@gmail.com if you would like more information on how to pursue this exciting and fulfilling field.  Who knows, maybe one day we will be on an assignment together professionally talking with our hands!

Keep Swinging

It has been said that the best hitters in baseball have a visual acuity that far exceeds that of any other type of athlete. In fact, it has been reported that the best player’s vision is closer to 20/12 than the 20/20 vision most people experience. So, not only can they see better than most, they, necessarily, have to focus harder and move faster. Why? Because hitting a three inch ball moving at speeds greater than any allowed on every major freeway in America is hard! However, despite those improved skills and heightened senses, statistics show the best hitters in the game miss nearly two-thirds of the time. How is it, then, that they become the Satchel Pages, Ty Cobb’s and Jackie Robinson’s of the game? One word… perseverance.

The best players realize that the path to greatness isn’t determined by how often they fail, but instead by how often they swing for the fences. The same can be said for those successful in business. No matter how many times a person swings and misses an opportunity, they have to be willing to step up to the plate and swing again. All of us, no matter how great or small our accomplishments have to keep playing to win.

Life is going to throw us some hard pitches. Some fast, some curved and yes, some sinkers, but we have to keep swinging. Only then, do we have a chance to knock it out of the park. Right now, life may have you down by one. You may feel like you’re at the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes, but don’t be afraid. Keep your eye on the ball, focus and keep swinging for the stands. Maybe you’ll miss. Maybe you’ll strike out. But at least, you’ll be in the game.