building a home-based internet business

Beth’s Website: Taming Technology

I founded an advertising agency in 1982 with a partner,
building up a clientele of Fortune 500 companies.
After a difficult divorce from a husband who was
involved in my business I struggled along, not happy
having contact with my ex but mindful of the financial benefits of the business.

Several years later I met a very special person whom I married.
I decided to close the agency, but I wasn’t quite ready for retirement.
With the encouragement of my new husband,
I hit upon the idea of a brand new business.

As a young mother I had created personalized
line drawings as gifts for new babies, friends’ birthdays,
anniversaries and other events, adding details
that reflected the hobbies and interests of the recipients.
Now, urged to “do something” with my drawings,
I began to see the possibilities of marketing them
as made-to-order gifts online, although
I had no clue as to what going online meant.

My focus wasn’t just mastering the internet.
I was determined to get a new “change of life”
business going that I could manage on my own at home.
One that would bring me pleasure and, of course,
eventually become profitable.
I knew just enough about computers to know
that I’d have to go beyond occasional word processing
into computer graphics, which I knew nothing about.

My research led me to Adobe Photoshop.
Of course I didn’t know what to do with the software once I had it.
All the Photoshop courses I investigated covered too much information.
I was overwhelmed, confused and unlikely to retain the course material.
So I took the manual and began working on my own.
This was not easy as I needed an interpreter
to put computer manual talk into language I could understand.
Eventually I found Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a book,
a tutorial/lesson based manual and CD that I was able to deal with on my own.

In late 1999 I produced a layout for the website,
a draft of the text and a plan of how I wanted the website to function.
In shopping for a website designer I wanted to look only at companies
in my geographic area so we could work directly together.
I decided that the developer would also be responsible
for the hosting so that if problems arose the developer
and host wouldn’t blame each other.
Each person with whom I spoke increased my knowledge
and understanding of website processes.
It took about 2 years to get the site up and running.
There were plenty of delays, glitches, setbacks
and disappointments along the way.

The site finally launched on the same day my husband
and I became grandparents for the first time.
Now, with a growing business that I love
and more family to enjoy, I’m really having some wonderful “golden” years.
Both the business and the grandchild keep me young in their own special ways.


Stepping Stones: Planning for Change

Beth’s efforts at combining her past passion with newly
learned skills resulted in an exciting and successful business venture.
Through effort and patience she achieved the right balance
between work and the other important aspects of her life.

The decision Beth made to create a home-based business
and her strategy for mastering the computer may be an incentive
for you to focus on how you can move forward with your own ideas.
Think about the following questions and how they might apply to you:

What are your passions?
What have you done in the past that you loved?
What have you always wanted to do?

What are your strengths?
What do you do well?
Look at your skills and talents.
What have you learned in your past volunteer or paid positions?
Are you technologically skilled or challenged?
Do you consider yourself artistic?
Good with numbers?
A”people person?”

What are your core values?
What things matter most to you?
These may include values such as: recognition, financial reward,
helping others, integrity, intellectual curiosity, or creativity.

What are your goals?
Financial independence?
Freedom to set your own schedule?
Balancing work, leisure, family?

This stage can be a pivotal time for women.
Having spent years nurturing and caring for family, or working
at a job that made sense at an earlier age,
you now have an opportunity to focus on your many acquired skills
to create new visions for yourself.
Once you have a clearer notion of your own goals,
enjoy the process of planning to make your future what you want it to be.


Recommended Resources For Web-Based Business:

There are certain advantages that may come with
establishing a home-based business through the internet.
Often you have more freedom in setting up your time commitments,
it may take less money to launch your business on the internet
and you may enjoy the change of pace.
If you plan to set up this type of business, we have some suggestions for you.

You may want to visit Beth’s site,
to get a better understanding of her dream and what she was able to accomplish.
You can note the similarities and differences between her brainchild and yours.

Beth felt it was important to find a local designer and host for her website.
Others may choose to work with “virtual” developers on the internet;
a new company at
soon will be providing this type of assistance to help you “do what you do best…better.”
In either case, one way to choose a website developer is to surf
the internet and find layouts you like. At the bottom of the home page of a website,
you will find the names of the developers.
You can then contact them to see if you want to work together.

Beth felt that she learned better and at her own pace by reading manuals herself.
If you think that style works for you,
become familiar with your local computer store
and browse through the software and manuals they sell.
If you learn better when someone is there to guide you in person,
ask out about local computer classes or individuals
who will come into your home to tutor you.

We have heard many stories from women beginning new business
ventures in their transition years and have printed several
of these in our Stepping Stones ™ Newsletter.
Please go back to the “narratives” section on our website
to re-read these stories with our comments on the Steps
that these women took to accomplish their goals.
Each of our newsletters also includes Resources
that we recommend to get you started: information, books and websites.

You will especially want to look at the first issue of our newsletter
in which Claudette describes her experiences as a mid-life entrepreneur.
You will find that our “Steps” provide you with a detailed
and comprehensive outline for your business strategy.
The Resources that we provided then remain pertinent and useful now.
Visit for information about
local Small Business Administration offices
and other groups to support you as you grow your business.

Finally, be aware that technology does not always run smoothly
and be prepared for glitches along the way.
Re-read our Stepping Stones ™ Newsletter Issue #19, “Technology Run Amok,”
to see how we reacted to and then dealt with the problems
that we encountered on our own website.

We hope this stimulates you in moving forward.
We invite you to be a resource to other women by sharing your ideas
and experiences with us.


IV. Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us.

(c) HerMentorCenter, 2004