Monday, 11 May 2009

Mother's Day

I have been battling with my inner demons this last week. Dreading to go to work each morning, but also dreading the day when the paycheck stops coming regularly. At night my mind wanders into darker corners; wondering whether this project will be successful or whether I'll have to take a job to make ends meet. It's been a rollercoaster ride as my termination date nears. I have started telling friends, but none of my family yet. I'm not ready to deal with the constant barrage of questions on how I will support the family and pay the mortgage. Family mean well, and their concerns are duly noted, but more than anything I need constant positive energy; not added concerns to a list of my concerns.

On to Mother's Day; AG's mom (Karen) came to visit from Humboldt county. Starting in September last year, she's been making the trek every month or so to visit us for a week and spend time with her grand daughter. Except for her 12 year old dog Coco, there's nothing she loves more than my daughter (A.M.) who will be 20 months on the 15th. Saturday night we had dinner over at Sandy/Carla's house but left at 10pm an hour past AM's bedtime. AG has been insistent that we keep her more on schedule now that getting off schedule has so many residual effects. We've just realized that children don't sleep longer to make up hours if they don't get their sleep. It's counter-intuitive to me. AG and I had high hopes of painting the town red since Karen was here to babysit. We were lame and couldn't get ourselves to muster the energy once we arrived home. Instead, AG caught up on work and I slept on the couch with AM.

Sunday morning - Mother's Day. For the first time, I really felt appreciated for being a mom this year; and I also felt a new appreciation for all moms. This time last year, I hadn't connected with that word quite yet. It took me a year of being a mother for that word to sink into me. All the late nights, holding your daughter, fretting over every breath, toss/turn, bottle, fever, diaper rash - a year of initiation before I now understand the weight and honor of that word. It is such an honor to be a mother.

At 6am, AM woke up and AG took her to the living room allowing me an additional 2 hours to sleep in. Later, Karen took AM out for a walk while AG and I showered and got ready. AG and I took a leisurely stroll on 24th street, stopping to check out Philz coffee; picking up fresh fruit for a Mother's Day fruit salad brunch; and grabbing coffee at a new coffee shop on 24th. 24th street is changing. When we first moved into our flat in 2005, it was still a rough and tumble neighborhood. It's still not the best neighborhood in SF, but new citizens are taking over. We've seen bars and tattoo shops closing while 6 coffee shops and skateboarding stores open. A clear sign of gentrification. I'm not sure what to make of it. I love the Mission neighborhood for several reasons; it's sunniest/warmest area in SF with a good mix of culture. That culture is moving out as demand for SF housing increases. The Mission has become a desirable place for the young and hip crowd to party and to live. As a homeowner and a coffee lover, I am thrilled about the new neighbors, but I'm also worried that too much gentrification will change the neighborhood beyond recognition.

As we strolled home with our goodies, AG's childhood friend, Zach met us. AG, Zach and I began cooking brunch: organic omega-3 rich scrambled eggs; baguette; mango/kiwi/banana/pear fruit salad; rosemary potatotes; campari tomatoes/avacodo salad with organic lemonade mimosos. I drank half of the champagne and passed out on the couch after brunch. I haven't had that luxury in months.

We didn't make it out to the How Weird Street Fair or the Imax viewing of the movie Star Trek as planned. But it was a wonderful Mother's Day and one I'll remember for a long time.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Snags that can get you down

I did not launch my website on Friday as planned. I needed better pricing for some of my products. With little time to research online and find wholesale dropshippers, I bit the bullet on Friday and paid $200 for a dropshipping service. The Service marketed that it would connect me with wholesale companies that dropped shipped. I then paid another $75 for to apply as an authorized dealer. I received approval this morning to enter the website look at pricing. I was disheartened to find out that their costs weren't low enough for me to make a good profit.

A little snag here, a little snag there all adds up to a big snag making me feel like quitting. But I can't. I don't have a choice; I need to make this work. I will be out of work and a paystub by the end of the month. Unemployment is less than $2k a month and my expenses far exceed that. So, what do I do? I will have to sell products that are more expensive and work on my SEO strategy to bring enough traffic to make some money. If that doesn't work, I'll have to find another niche to sell in.

As the clock winds down on my time here at work; and the money from flowing in; I've become more conscience of expenses. I looked through our budget and cutting costs where I can. For example, we have a storage space and paying $122/mo for that space. It's a huge sum - especially when most of the stuff stored there could be sold. So by the end of this month I'll go through our storage unit and organize it; getting rid of what we can and perhaps pay the penalty fee of 2 months to get out of the remaining contract term.

I also looked into another daycare alternative for my daughter. Daycare is expensive here. We pay $1150/mo. I found a great place last night for 3 days/week, but it's all the way across town in the Sunset district. The two women are Brazilian, one is a Yoga instructor. They provide meals, diapers, potty training, Yoga, music lessons, and even Brazilian lessons. I paid for June's daycare expenses up front to save a spot and see how things go for the one month. More on that later.

This morning I was starting to feel the pinch of unemployment and the stress that rides the coat tails. Laying out what to do, what needs to happen and understanding where my stress derives from is very helpful. I hope someday I'll look back at this time as a huge learning opportunity and where I've taken the road less traveled and am happier.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Information Overload

When I first started to look for alternative income opportunities, I definitely felt overwhelmed by the information provided on the internet. Looking into all the possibilities of launching an online company was terrifying in so many ways. Where do you begin, what do you do, what do you want to sell? How do you know what to do if you don't know what to ask?

So began my search for an online business. But the more I researched and surfed, the more overwhelmed I became. So many choices, too many choices. I finally read an article on the internet about how paralyzing it can be when you become overwhelmed with choices and in this instance with knowledge. With the rise of the internet and the extensive information on every subject matter, it's difficult to maneuver through the pages and links of information. My mind ran in circles and I couldn't think straight.

Finally, I decided I just needed to do something (advice provided in a daily newsletter that I signed up for called "Early to Rise"). I'm not recommending this website and all the offers and promotions they provide in their newsletter, but I do get some pearls of wisdom from them from time to time. I connect intuitively with the reasoning. It's better to do something and learn from any mistakes or successes made than to not do anything and learn nothing.

With that input, I decided to purchase a money making system called NicheBlueprint. It's expensive and since my purchase of this system in November, it's costed me close to $2k to set up a website. The basis of this system is to research a niche that gets enough traffic but has less competition. They suggest using Market Samurai to check online traffic and competition. If you follow their direction, you will end up with a niche that has a minimum traffic of 500 searches per day and less than 50,000 website competition. The product has 9 modules and each module provides instructions on how to research a niche, find a domain name, set up a hosting site, set up your website, get traffic etc.

Since I've been working full time and taking care of a family, I've had little time to dedicate to this project. I started in November. At this stage, I've set up a hosting site with a domain name, found a niche, and began calling wholesalers. I have yet to do the following before launching the site:

1. establish dropship wholesale accounts
2. finish setting up the website to include products, taxes, return policies, etc.
3. setup paypal and credit card on the website
4. and SEO planning

Today, I feel completely overwhelmed. Even though I try to remember that in order to get past this feeling, I need to focus on what to do, it's a difficult task while working full time. Even though I'm getting laid off, I continue to feel a duty towards the company to complete the projects assigned to me and leave on good standing. In the meantime, it's time consuming to research wholesalers and call them about dropshipping. Regardless of my awareness of the paraylzying effects of "Information Overload" it still happens to me at least once a week.

I'm also terrible at processing things quickly. Sometimes it will take me a good day to realize that I'm paralyzed in Information Overload before I recognize it and put in the steps to pull out of it. Writing my thoughts here helps to expedite that processing time. I had set out a date to launch my website on May 1st. I am pushing to maintain my target launch date, but we will see if it can be done.

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Pink Slip

A Pink SlipImage by rutthenut via Flickr

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Last month I was called into my Senior Director's office and quietly told that I was be 1 out of 30 employees (this round) to be laid off due to the economy. It was Monday, April 23, 2009.

I had a tip off from a coworker that Friday about a potential layoff. When I received a meeting invite from my Senior Director Sunday evening I knew. When I finally heard the words, my emotions ranged from the feeling of being kicked in the gut to later, relief that this job would be over. The Universe was forcing my hand. I'm legally trained (aka lawyer) and negotiate contracts for large companies. But face it, who loves to read and negotiate the minute boring details of contracts? I didn't hate my job, but I didn't love it either. After 10 years in the industry, I was good at it and made a very decent living. But like most people, I looked forward to Fridays and detested Mondays.

After the birth of my daughter, it got worse. I wanted to work at home. I wanted to be with my daughter. I didn't want to drop her off at daycare for 10 hours and spend 2 hours picking her up, feeding, bathing and then putting her to sleep. Where was the joy in parenthood when all you have are 2 hours a workday? All the things I wanted to do with her, now that she's older: (i) going to the parks; (ii) taking her to the zoo, museums, and exploratoriums.... is only possible during the weekends. But the weekends are about catching up on sleep, when you can, and running all the errands you couldn't do on the weekdays.

My mind started to wander. How could I make enough money to stay at home and be with my daughter? I had to start a business at home, online. I make a 6 figure salary. Starting an online business would require a lot of time and education. Something I had very little of. So when I received my notice, it was a calling from the Universe telling me that this was my opportunity to get out of the corporate world and create a career to balance the time I needed to be with my daughter. This blog documents that journey ....