Thoughts on Starting a Business….

First, my apologies for the lapse in posting; another jammed week. With that said, I occasionally have guests who post and this is one of those times. A woman who has been successful in starting up her own business is sharing some of her insights:

Turning Your Hobby Into a Business: A Guide to Making it Happen

If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a business, now is the time. With the rise of the entrepreneurial spirit and technological advances, more people are starting their own businesses than ever before. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Abby Holt of Craftability to help make this dream a reality.

Get Started as a Side Hustle Business

Making the leap from hobbyist to business owner can be daunting. It’s best to start by turning your hobby into a side hustle. This will give you an opportunity to gain experience in running a business and test out ideas without fully committing yourself right away. Starting your business as a side hustle also allows you to earn income while working full-time or studying until you are able to fully commit yourself to your business.

One thing you’ll have to do, though, is choose a business structure. There are a number of options but many entrepreneurs choose to start a limited liability company because of the legal protections and tax benefits. If you aren’t sure how to get started, a formation service that’s already familiar with all the rules for launching an LLC in Louisiana can get you started in a matter of minutes.

Having Specific Objectives

It is important to set clear goals for yourself when starting any kind of business venture – big or small. Think about what success looks like for your particular venture, and then create specific objectives that will help you get there. Having clearly defined goals makes it easier to measure progress along the way so that you can track your success (or areas for improvement).

Create a Business Plan

Writing out a comprehensive business plan is one of the most important steps when starting any type of venture, regardless of whether it is large or small scale. A good business plan should include information such as an executive summary, a financial plan (including estimated startup costs), market research, product/service description, marketing and sales strategy, and operational plan. This framework serves as an essential roadmap that helps shape how you run and grow your business over time.

Creating A Marketing Strategy

 A well-developed marketing plan is essential when trying to reach customers in order to build brand awareness and generate sales for your new venture. Consider researching different marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, online advertising campaigns, and social media marketing, all of which can help spread the word about your new venture. Additionally, consider investing in virtual assistant services if needed so that someone can manage clerical aspects while you focus on other areas of running your business.

Setting Up A Web Presence

Having an online presence is essential for any business in today’s digital age. When launching a venture, it is important to take the time to set up websites and social media accounts with content tailored toward potential customers. This could include blog posts, articles, videos, and images that showcase your product or service offering.

Printing Up Brochures

Marketing through your website and social media is a great start, but you should also print up some brochures to help showcase your talents. These can include high quality images of your craft to really highlight what you’re offering. If you’re on a tight budget, using free templates is the best option. This is also a great way to supplement your other advertising efforts with something that potential customers can actually see and hold.

Obtaining Funds

Starting a business can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding funding through grants, loans, and crowdfunding can provide much-needed assistance during the startup phase. Once successful, reinvestment opportunities can provide extra resources for your business to grow sustainably.

Turning a hobby into a business takes dedication and hard work. It may be beneficial to start by launching a side hustle while developing plans that set clear goals. Having a web presence and an efficient ecommerce platform are also important steps, and additional funding may be necessary depending on your situation. With the right planning, your dream of turning a hobby into a business can become reality.

End of guest post.

Thanks for this!

In Praise of Tea, Too…..

I do love coffee for my mornings and after a meal when I am out. And yes, depending on one’s definition of “too much”, my standard 3-4 mugs each morning, might be considered in that category. Also, since I work from home, there are times when I meet people “for coffee”, which means I will usually have that. Unless someone specifically asks for another place, my “go-to” is our local Panera. (That actually allows me to pick a chocolate croissant which Hubby loves.)

Anyway, Daddy was the only coffee drinker at home and interestingly, my maternal grandfather drank hot tea while my maternal grandmother drank coffee. Being raised in the deep South, we of course drank copious quantities of ice tea. In reality, I didn’t drink hot beverages much growing up. Even though I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in the Army, my tea experiences came even later. When I say that, I mean anything beyond basic Lipton. It might even have been during my first trip to London. The tour didn’t include a “high tea”, however, there was always afternoon tea. I can’t recall my first herbal tea which was probably something like lemon or orange. My brother, who never drank coffee, became the first person I knew who was really into tea. He got to the point he would buy different loose teas and blend his own. He and my sister-in-law do “afternoon tea” and there is also condensed milk involved, but that’s another thing.

Basically, I usually have afternoon tea now if I’m home; herbal unless I need the extra caffeine. Publix carries a nice variety box with Earl Grey, Jane Grey, English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast. For herbals, I range from the citrus through others, and of course chamomile in those early morning hours when I’m dealing with insomnia. So when I created the “Small Town” quilting-themed cozy series, I decided to make the main character a tea lover even though she does drink coffee, too. I admit I don’t bother with loose tea, so I’m not sure if I can be considered a “true” tea person.

You’ll Be Missed, Jimmy……

I have posted before about the experience of a Jimmy Buffet concert and our long time as Parrotheads. I don’t tear up when I hear about celebrities passing away and this morning was the exception. I was surprised to hear he had been battling an as yet undisclosed illness for the past two years. According to the statement released, he died peacefully, surrounded by family and those closest to him; passing away in the same way he lived.

To say he was a phenomenon is no exaggeration. Many years ago, he was simply one more singer/songwriter struggling to be heard, dreaming some day of making it big. I doubt his definition of “big” actually included the extent to which his empire grew; music of course, a few acting roles, merchandising, then restaurants as in not uncommon. Resorts and casinos don’t usually follow nor do 55-and-better active adult communities. The number of his “Latitude Margaritaville” communities were supposed to expand and perhaps his heirs will keep with that plan.

Although certain of his songs were iconic and as he always said, “a must play” at his concerts, his body of work was such that he had fans of them all. In fact, his song, “Bama Breeze”, inspired me to write my short story, “Closing Time, Closing Day” (

I can only imagine the kind of partying that will be going on in Key West and Mobile, where he was originally from, this weekend. If we had a Margaritaville Cafe close by, we’d go around for at least a couple of drinks ourselves.

Did the Birthday Dive….

We were successful although conditions were impacted by the approaching hurricane. Weather was good, waves were a bit high, but nothing difficult. Visibility was down and as I’ve mentioned before, when you’ve been diving for a while, in these cases, you look closer for the small stuff. Big stuff does sometimes come right up to you, but mostly you see it from a distance and turn in that direction. The exceptions are eels and octopus as they aren’t out in the open anyway. Not a single eel on either dive and I haven’t seen an octopus in ages. We did the two smaller shallow wrecks and there were lots of the “regulars” I enjoy. In fact, I saw a juvenile queen angel, then realized there was another one; the smallest one I have ever seen. Still brightly colored and cute as could be. There were several rock beauties on the second dive and in what was a surprise, there was a rock beauty and a queen angel in the same spot. Don’t know if Hubby’s photo will come out. I hope so as it will make a nice piece. On the second dive, there were four large barracuda and that made for a good shot, too.

We did go see the yellow-headed jaw fish on the second dive before we went over to the wreck. Oh, both of these are genuine wrecks, so it’s really more “wreckage” as there’s very little that looks like a vessel any longer. On the Hannah Bell though, when Hurricane Irma came through a few years ago, the cannon off in the sand was uncovered. Not a huge cannon, but hey it is a cannon. Oh, in coming back from the second dive, there were like two dozen jellyfish. I like seeing them and this type is pretty easy to avoid. Their sting isn’t strong; a bit uncomfortable though.

What did make the day a bit special was there weren’t many people on the boat and most were actually from Horizon Divers. The regular crew of two required, two instructors with only a few students between them, and one of the others training for his Captain’s license. It was very “family-like”. If I had known there would be so few, I would have brought cookies or cupcakes.

Scrawled File Fish on Reef

Chromis are seen on most of the local reefs.

And Here We Are……

Probably other than my 18th birthday (back when the federal government didn’t intervene with the states so that was the legal age for alcohol in Louisiana), I haven’t marked any of “the big ones”.  Today as my 70th isn’t an exception other than to reflect generally on birthday celebrations. I don’t go in for them much anymore and I have certainly worked on more than one occasion. I like doing things for other people’s birthdays though and for me, it’s kind of a sure, let’s have a nice dinner either going out somewhere special or doing something special at home.

Living here, I do try to make it a point to go diving, although I have a “window” of about ten days to count that as a “birthday dive”. The span is in order to allow for weather and boat availability. In fact, because I have two kind of complex articles for next week’s paper, I’m working this weekend in case Mother Nature is kind enough to allow me to go dive tomorrow afternoon. We shall see.

Okay, back to celebrating. I don’t feel as keen on driving down into the Keys as we have in the past because weekend traffic has gotten much worse and a few of our restaurants do qualify for special occasion. I wanted lobster last night and we would have gone to Capri, but they were having a huge party in and I knew it would be hectic for them. Hubby was puzzled when I told him I wanted to go to Red Crab. It is nice, although no tablecloths. Anyway, I didn’t explain that when I was in there Wednesday with friends, the waiter told us about a special of exotic meats with bison, ostrich, and venison. I was surprised and I knew Hubby would love it. I didn’t explain that to him because I wasn’t sure they would have it. He does love whole fried snapper, which he didn’t realize they had and was all set to order it. Our waitress remembered us from a previous time and I asked about the specials. They did still have the exotic meats although they were out of bison. He was quite happy and now understood why we were there. They doubled up on the venison, my lobster was delicious, and I do use my birthday as an excuse for dessert. We shared a key lime pie because I have chocolate cake for tonight.

“Perfect as the Enemy of Good”….

There is a saying in the military as well as business, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”, and I’m not sure what caused this thought to pop into my head yesterday. When making a plan or trying to find a solution to something, there are times when you aren’t likely to have the perfect plan. That is not to say you shouldn’t plan carefully and do as much analysis as is practical. If you are dealing with a committee/group decision situation, a single individual can keep coming up with “what ifs” or concerns that cause a decision about what to do to be delayed indefinitely.

The flip side to that, however, is the military saying of, “No plan survives first contact”. In other words, once you engage in an operation, it can come apart. While it may seem contradictory to move ahead with a plan even if you don’t have it exactly as you want, it isn’t really. The ability to accurately assess a situation and realize you need to adapt is important, too. We are human and make mistakes which, if properly applied, provides good lessons. Granted, some can be fatal, yet most aren’t. There may be some pain and even humiliation involved, and I have had my share of both. I am on the periphery of a rather ambitious plan being undertaken by an organization and I suppose that’s why I got to thinking about the above saying. I was quite skeptical of initial discussions, although I wasn’t in a position to be consulted, nor did I want to engage. In learning a little more, I think “good enough” plan is accurate and if successful, it will be a plus for the community. I’m not sure though how much adapting can be done if anything major goes wrong, so I will cross my fingers, too – can’t hurt.

Another Local Story…..

As I have mentioned, writing for the paper pays basically nothing, but it’s part of why I know so much about the community. We get stories different ways and this is a case of someone coming to the paper to ask if we could cover it. That was last year and the event is now an annual one.

We only have a few nice assisted living places in town and the fancy one (with applicable high costs) is appropriately name The Palace. Not surprisingly, they have a wide variety of activities for the residents.  Also not surprisingly, they include arts and crafts sessions.  While the residents enjoy that, many of them were quite active in the community in their younger time. The instructor, who has been teaching at this and other facilities owned by the same company for ten years, came up with the idea of the residents at the Palace should sell their items and use the money for a back-to-school contribution. They all loved the idea, but how to actually do it was the question. Enter one of the local individuals who is involved in many different non-profits, to include one he established specifically to support things for children. He and a couple of others set up sales events around town as well as on-line sales opportunities. Then he reached out to a couple of other non-profits to help select twenty children as recipients.

The children and family (or usually a parent) come to the Palace for a luncheon, meet the residents, and are presented with an electronic tablet and a backpack filled with school supplies. The food at the Palace is one of the things residents pay for, but in this case, they make it a kid-type lunch which probably also brings back memories for the residents. The twenty residents who created items this past year (actually twenty-two as two passed away before the event) are planning to keep with it for the coming year.

Including Tips…..

As the population here increases and we’re getting more new restaurants, and there has been no genuine let-up with inflation, a number of restaurants have begun to include an automatic tip (service charge). Several of them previously noted that only for parties of six or more. The new practice is generating a lot of discussion among people who are fairly well split in opinion. We do have quite a few foreign tourists who claim not to know about tipping. I have always doubted that as most travel books include that kind of information. Let’s set that aside for the moment.

We always tip well (pretty much 20%) and there have been times when it was over-tipping considering the service, but that’s not the point either. The automatic tips being added here are mostly 18%, although one is at 20%. One friend in one of my three lunch groups especially doesn’t like it because she gives cash to servers. Ironically, I had started doing that if the tip less than $20 since I don’t know when I add it to the card, if the server gets the full tip or if the service fee is held back. Moving on to another issue though.

A number of the restaurants now also use the table side card readers which is nice. Except the software on the readers automatically displays blocks to touch to add tips; 10%, 15%, 18%, 20% and custom or No Tip. If an individual is not aware a tip is already included and hasn’t looked closely at the itemized bill, a second tip is likely to be added. I know of three or four people who have done this. To start with, “service charge included” should be clearly marked on the menu – each page of the menu. More importantly, the servers should explain the inclusion when they present the bill. I understand the human inclination to not do so and pretend it’s the customer’s fault for not paying attention and sure, it will work a few times. On the other hand, how many people will continue to patronize a place where this occurs?

Kids and Summer Camp….

I’m wrapping up a piece for the paper on a long-running summer camp that is only six weeks long, but it does provide enrichment for children ages 5-high school whose families would not otherwise be able to afford it. There are quite a few programs around that do assist with similar camps and we try to spread the word through the paper about these.

Further along the spectrum; granddaughter has her first time at a day camp this week. She was excited about the idea and we hope it works out. Her mom and dad are heavily involved in wrapping up the summer intensive dance camp and they need to be able to focus.

In looking back with what we did with son – and I may have mentioned this before – we sent him to multiple camps; all of which were science-type with the expectation he would be pursuing such a thing. Although he did love Space and Aviation camps, the Audubon and Marine Mammal camps were what led him to the plan of Wildlife Ecology. If you happen to be new to the blog, that of course derailed when he fell headlong in love with dance his freshman year at university and college went by the wayside. The utter irony is if we had had a clue, we could have put him into dance and performing arts camps and he would have had at least a chance of getting on the professional dance ladder at a much better time. Ah, the “you don’t know what you don’t know” truism strikes again. A potential irony which might not unfold for a bit is granddaughter has literally been raised in the dance studio and she’s already swapped from ballet to tap. Currently either of her planned careers include being a dancer. On the other hand, at age eight there will no doubt be other ideas to come about.

Not the Same Town……

When I travel back to Louisiana to visit family and friends, the three (now will only be two) towns have different degrees of change. Minden, where Daddy lived, is a bit larger, yet not by much. Natchitoches, the historic town had changed more although not that it has lost it’s core nor has it become so populated as to strain the infrastructure. Many, the very small town where my mother was from, has few new things. It is in great contrast to Florida and especially South Florida where population is exploding.

When we moved here in late 2004, even though I was disappointed to learn this area is one of the only places on the East Coast that doesn’t have actual beaches, there were other aspects to enjoy. A fair amount of building was going on and as I have posted before, I wasn’t thrilled about living in a gated community. That, however, was the only viable choice for the type of house we wanted. It was enough of a small town to be reminiscent of where we both respectively grew up. As a quick reminder, the building boom went bust in 2008-2009, and was grim for people who were caught in bad timing. That cycle did pass and the book has come back multi-fold.

As always, it’s much faster to build houses than infrastructure and you can only do so much to improve traffic flow if you increase the density of traffic beyond a certain point. We may not be quite there yet, although crawling, stop-and-go patterns are common now in a number of places. There are those who have left, seeking somewhere else in Florida or neighboring states where growth is limited. Others are adapting, while those who recently arrive from even more crowded places find it “normal”. There are new services coming in as well which are generally more positive than negative. We shall see what the next few years bring.