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SCOTTS VALLEY –” If all goes as planned, a year from now Suzanne DeLeon will be working entirely for herself, selling cosmetics to a growing circle of customers and spending more time at home raising her two children.
DeLeon is one of a growing community of home-based business owners being shepherded through the initial steps of growing a company by local entrepreneurs Andrew Van Valer, Greg Holsen and Roland Hall. Through Scotts Valley-based Zyzyrgy, and its partners, Home Solutions Institute and Cash Flow Potentials, the trio, are teaching the nuts and bolts of collaborative business-building as well as helping to cultivate the mindset of an entrepreneur.
Instead of traditional workshops and coaching models, however, they suggest novice entrepreneurs strike out and try a well-researched, home-based business to get first-hand knowledge of what it really takes to run a business and whether they like the life of a business owner at all.
“The biggest challenge people have when they start to become an entrepreneur is they either have a lot of fear or they don’t know how to do it,” said Van Valer, who was one of the original Borland employees in the 80s, later helped startup Starfish and LightSurf, and is the chief executive officer and cofounder of Zyzyrgy.
“He outlined what it took to get started,” said Kelly Utic, who was laid off last year after a 25-year career in the telecommunications industry, and is now selling women’s sports attire through her online sporting good site, Joy4Sports.com. “It was advised that you find what you’re passionate about and drill down to a real niche market. I had my doubts that I was ever going to make any money.”
Affiliate marketing, which allows Utic to get commissions from sales that originate from her website, allows her to run a business without inventory and shipping costs.
“I just knew I needed to start something and wasn’t convinced I wanted to go back to corporate America,” she said. “I thought, Why not give it a try and see where it will go?'”
Jennifer Gress who juggles housecleaning, home organizing and is now carving out a new website design business with the help of Van Valer, said she’s having more success selling her own services than finding a job. Van Valer and his team are helping her put together a team of her own to support her business plans.
The novice should be wary of most home-based money-making promotions, however, said Van Valer, who estimated that 95 percent of them are poor opportunities. Some, however, are worthwhile. After researching the plethora of network marketing and home-based business promotions, Van Valer has identified several hundred he would recommend and about 30 in particular as good business propositions. They each require initial investments of about $50-$600 to start. He lists them on his sites http://cashflowpotentials.com and http://www.homesolutionsinstitute.org. Also online is a library of his how-to articles and books aimed at the beginner at http://www.andrewvanvaler.com/books and access to mentors and peer discussions.
The goal is to walk people through the steps and not overwhelm them with information, Van Valer said.
“This is really something for the beginner,” he said.
Whether or not people decide to stay in business a long time, the home-based business is “a nice catalyst for teaching people the basics of business,” said Holsen who teaches sales, marketing and business development in Silicon Valley. Holsen facilitates a weekly small business owner group in San Jose and plans to launch one in Santa Cruz County in the fall. Too often, traditional franchising requires a large up-front investment and the business owner is limited in how much they can earn, he said.
“At the end of the day, some of these people have bought themselves a sales position,” he said.
DeLeon, whose full-time day job is working as an environmental scientist for the Department of Fish and Game, has been selling cosmetics for less than a year but says it has been lucrative so far. “I think with that I can definitely have a full-time income on a part-time basis within a year,” she said. “I’m very excited.”
She also sells travel agency portal websites to nonprofits organizations which in turn raise funds through commissioned travel sales.
This article was first published here.