FINANCE

Start Your Own Business

Effective Business Communicators Employment Of Disabled Veterans Veterans Retraining Assistance Three Career Trends Workplace Diversity Franchise A Shipping Shop Buying Local

Starting Your Own Business—An Alternative To The Job Search

(NAPSI)—While being laid off or "downsized" can be a traumatic time for anyone, especially in a tight job market, it could also be an opportunity to change your career direction. One popular alternative is to start your own business. After all, how many of us dream of "being our own boss" and controlling our own destiny? But is starting your own business right for you?

There are four key questions you will need to ask yourself before making the transition from worker to entrepreneur:

• What sets you apart? According to CNN, there are nearly 6 million small businesses in the U.S. What skills are you able to perform, or what products are you able to produce that will set you apart and make you better than the rest? It is vital that you do your research to see how saturated this particular segment of the market is.

• What skills are you lacking? When you start your own business, you become responsible for every aspect. Do you know how to write a business plan, analyze profit margins and set prices? Do you know the regulations governing your industry? What tax implications do you need to understand? Does your industry require particular certifications? You may need to consider additional education, whether it be a certificate or a full academic degree. Speak with other small-business owners; ask them if there is education they wish they had pursued before starting out.

• How are you going to pay for this? Consider all your expenses. Will you operate your business out of your home or will you need a physical office space? Will you be a sole proprietor or hiring contractors and employees? What types of insurance and precautionary measures are necessary? It is crucial to keep in mind the amount of time it takes to build a customer base; it is likely that you will be operating at a loss for the first couple years. Do you plan on taking out a loan or seeking investors? Also, consider the amount of risk involved-is there another steady income in your household or is this business the sole income?

• Where can you seek help? Many small businesses thrive by helping each other out. If you are not willing to get out there and talk up your business, entrepreneurship is probably not for you. Work with your local chamber of commerce and small-business administration; they provide resources for promoting your business and networking and serve as excellent resources for the inevitable bevy of questions you will have along the way.

Most communities have entrepreneur groups that assist with strategic planning, securing funding and promotion. Many colleges and universities also offer similar opportunities. "Our Center for Entrepreneurship and Market Capitalism works with business owners for the good of the entire business community," said Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University. "Entrepreneurs are a unique breed-whether you have a high school diploma or a master's degree, there are specific skills that may only come into play once you are in charge of your own endeavor. We offer one-on-one business mentoring-seek out services like these to ensure your own success."

Now may be a crucial time to branch out on your own and take a new path. In the end, the better you prepare, the more successful you will be. Learn more at www.makeithappennow.org.

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Tips On Improving Your Communication Skills

(NAPSI)—Experts agree that communication is key to success, no matter what your line of work. One of the first steps to becoming a better communicator is being more self-aware so that you can better understand the situation, your audience and your role in the conversation.

That's the word according to Dr. Annie Shibata, faculty member in Walden University's B.S. in Communication program. In order to become more conscious of what you are trying to communicate and how you are going about it, Dr. Shibata suggests reflecting on the following questions:

• What is my communication goal? Consider your short- and long-term goals as well as what action, information or commitment you want as a result of your communication--both now and in the future.

• Am I deliberate and conscious in how I communicate? Be conscious of both your oral and written communication. Remember, when speaking, it's estimated that the total impact of a message is about 7 percent verbal (words only), 38 percent vocal (including tone of voice, inflection and other sounds) and 55 percent nonverbal.

• Do I know who my audience is? Try to be aware of various factors, such as cultural differences, that may exist within your audience and can play a role in how the message is received.

• Am I aware of my emotions when I communicate? Think about your emotions and how appropriate they are for the situation to determine if you're prepared. In situations such as asking for a raise from your supervisor, it's important to be clear and unemotional and focus on communicating what you've been doing well.

• What nonverbal message am I communicating? Consider how you sit or stand, your facial expressions and how you're dressed. Most of the messages we send other people when communicating are nonverbal.

• Am I an honest communicator? Do you state your needs and desires clearly? Do you communicate with integrity? The answer to all of these should be "yes."

• Am I listener focused? Do you often use slang, idioms, acronyms or technical jargon? Such language can exclude some or all of your audience. Be clear and concise in your communication and consider how the listener is following and understanding your message.

For more tips on becoming an effective communicator, visit www.WaldenU.edu/success.

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Three Myths Prevent Employment Of Disabled Veterans

(NAPSI)—Jon Zagami is a leader. He gets results. He motivates his peers and he works hard. Most employers would be grateful to have an employee like him. Yet each year, many employers will turn down the opportunity to hire eligible candidates like Zagami, simply because of one factor: They are disabled veterans.

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that there are three key misperceptions that employers have about hiring wounded warriors like Zagami. These include lack of knowledge about how military skills translate into a civilian job, fear of post-traumatic stress disorder on job performance, and confusion that the cost of accommodations will be high.

During the next five years, more than 80,000 disabled veterans will be entering the workforce in search of jobs. Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop, Commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, says that the Army is doing all it can to help support the long-term success of veterans.

Part of this support lies in the Army's "Hire a Veteran" campaign, which aims to eliminate misperceptions that impede the employment of disabled veterans through employer and veteran firsthand accounts and new research.

"Our campaign aims to reduce anxiety around hiring a veteran and level the hiring field for our wounded warriors," said Bishop. "Veterans bring discipline and leadership to any organization that they join. Employers and their bottom line would benefit from their unique skills and experience in the workplace."

Timothy Warrington, a supervisor for the General Building Laborers' Local 79, is featured in the campaign's educational video. He hired disabled veteran William Plotner, who now works as a laborer for Tishman Construction at World Trade Center projects. Warrington says that Plotner is a benefit to the company and that other employers should give veterans a chance like he did.

"You know, we all want to put yellow magnets on our car. We all want to say we support veterans and that we support the troops," he said. "Well, it is easy to say that, it feels good to say that, but why don't you just do it? Just do it. Hire the veteran."

For more information about hiring disabled veterans and to access an educational video and online employer toolkit, visit the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command website, www.WTC.army.mil/employers.

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Program To Retrain Veterans

(NAPSI)—The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor are teaming up on a program to provide retraining and employment assistance for up to 99,000 unemployed veterans, ages 35 to 60, to prepare them for high-demand jobs.

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) offers 12 months of training assistance to qualified unemployed veterans, equal to Montgomery GI Bill active duty rates-$1,564 per month. Eligible veterans must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-college degree or a certificate and train the veteran for a high-demand occupation, as defined by the Department of Labor. Each VRAP participant will receive employment assistance from the DOL.

"The VRAP program gives unemployed veterans the opportunity to sharpen their skills through technical, vocational or academic retraining so they can find meaningful employment in high-demand jobs," said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. "Through collaborative outreach efforts with the DOL and other federal, state, local and public-private partners around the country, we will reach as many eligible unemployed veterans as possible, and help 99,000 veterans and their families secure lasting employment."

For more information on VRAP, the definition of "high-demand occupations" and how to apply, veterans can go to www.benefits.va.gov/VOW or call VA's call center at 1-888-GI-BILL-1. Veterans may also access the VRAP application through eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov.

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Three Career Trends

(NAPSI)—As the economy improves, so do career prospects. Here are three trends to watch.

• Robust job growth in health care and IT: The health care industry employed one in five Americans in 2012 and could grow 29 percent by 2020. More than half of the 30 fastest-growing jobs over the next decade will be in health care, with nursing positions expected to increase by 26 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With technology driving nearly every industry in today's economy, IT professionals will also continue to be in high demand. By decade's end, 1.4 million positions should open in software engineering, network operations and related areas.

• Detours lead to new career paths: Today's workers are more likely to "zigzag" through jobs in diverse industries than follow a linear career track. Nearly 90 percent of women professionals and executives will take time off or shift careers in midlife, according to the new book "Women Lead" by Apollo Research Institute. Recent research shows that more than 8 million baby boomers have entered "encore careers," often in jobs that give back to the community.

• Small business creates big opportunities: Small businesses have provided 55 percent of U.S. jobs since the 1970s and have added 8 million positions since 1990, during which time large firms shed 4 million jobs. A recent report noted that nearly 90 percent of businesses with under 99 employees plan to hire or maintain current staff in 2013 and more than half expect revenue to rise.

Learn more at www.apolloresearchinstitute.org or find Apollo Research Institute on Facebook.

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Preparing The Workplace For "Deep Diversity"

(NAPSI)—By 2015, it's predicted that immigration will fuel half of all U.S. workforce growth; by 2035, this number may reach 100 percent. The good news for employers: These workers bring skills, experiences and cultures that can spark greater innovation and prosperity.

According to "The Future of Work," a report by Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute, diversity now includes not just different nationalities but varied professional backgrounds, generations and ways of thinking. Because this "deep diversity" inspires creativity and flexibility, the faster that foreign-born workers can become part of the team, the better.

Although over two-thirds of workers think they're ready for a diverse workplace, Apollo Research Institute's report "The Great Divide" notes, a quarter of employers report difficulty hiring workers who function well in such settings. But there are ways for workers to get up to speed:

• See your work through a colleague's viewpoint, to learn how being from a different country, age group or professional background can add new depth to your own career or life. Over half of employers feature programs to attract diverse employees, so you shouldn't have to look far for a fresh perspective.

• By discussing mutual interests, hobbies and other nonwork subjects with diverse colleagues, you can find common points of interest and build relationships that strengthen teamwork.

• Learn a new language for global versatility. As firms expand overseas, hiring managers will need more workers fluent in Spanish, Chinese or other widely spoken languages.

Learn more at www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.

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Franchise A Shipping Shop

(NAPSI)—You can provide an important benefit to the neighborhood—and make money at the same time. How? By running your own franchised package-shipping service.

You don't have to have a lot of retail or entrepreneurial experience to run a thriving, competitive and highly successful business that can flourish even in uncertain economic times.

More than just a pack-and-ship store, your shop can be a local ser-vice center with a basket of needed services for the community.

Postal Connections of America franchise stores make life easier for people on the go, as well as small businesses, by offering shipping alternatives; packaging; freight; printing and copies; mail receiving; ink-jet, toner and laser cartridges; notary; fax; and a unique variety of online buying and selling services.

For example, there's Media Trader, a unique and proprietary software that lets customers sell old CDs, DVDs, video games and textbooks for cash. The store resells the items through Amazon.com.

Learn more at www.postalconnections.com, info@postalconnections.com and (800) 767-8257.

 

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Independent We Stand Makes It Easy To Find Your Favorite Independent Business

(NAPSI)—Independent We Stand, a movement of locally owned businesses and people across the country, is dedicated to educating their communities about the importance of buying local. More than 100 million people are expected to "shop small" this year, and Independent We Stand is now offering its first mobile phone app to help consumers search for their favorite local businesses, anywhere.

Whether you're looking for pizza places in Chicago, bike shops in Portland, or hardware stores in Florida, the Independent We Stand mobile app has you covered. The search engine has five categories: Shop Local, Eat Local, Local Services, Play Local, and Other, making it easy to localize your lifestyle and support your local economy. Once a category is selected, users can search by current location or select an address, city, state or zip code. Users also have the ability to recommend their favorite locally owned businesses. Business owners can also use the app to become a member of Independent We Stand.

Independent We Stand also offers support to its members from its Independent We Stand Resource Center, offering marketing materials, step-by-step activation tips and more. Independent We Stand members can take advantage of the free materials to promote their locally owned status. Members also have access to free signage, as well as information on how to create an online presence with social media.

"Buying local encourages people to reinvest in their communities by shopping with local businesses like our Independent We Stand members," said Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand. "Locally owned businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60 percent higher rate than chains and Internet retailers, helping to revitalize their economies."

Consumers can dramatically affect their own communities by shopping local. When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local economy versus $43 when spent with a national chain. Find out what kind of economic impact shopping local in your city can have by visiting www.IndependentWeStand.org/spend_local.

Independent We Stand is proudly sponsored by STIHL Inc. To download the app visit: www.independentwestand.org/introducing-the-independent-we stand-mobile-app/.

For more information about Independent We Stand visit www.IndependentWeStand.org.

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