Many special educators and counselors have begun to realize that special needs children, like those with autism spectrum disorder, can respond particularly well to technological programs. This is because these programs behave in a predictable and consistent way. Unlike the earlier technologies for autistic children, these programs run on tabs and smart phones, which make them portable.
Hopes are running high among autistic children and their parents as developers come out with apps like “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” that have helped autistic children with attention deficit disorder to get organized. Other apps can track the personalized education plan of each student, or provide a list of words to prompt those struggling with their writing skills.
At a special school in Brooklyn, about 15 autistic children from the third grade are seated in a classroom. A large interactive whiteboard in front of them displays a turtle shell, honeycomb, and a snake skin. All these are examples of repetitive patterns-called tessellation-and sourced from a science center in Jersey City. An affectionate female voice from the screen asks the kids to draw a triangle, each side six inches long. It’s a bit complex for most of them. But the voice urges them to try. “I’m starving,” she says, “Please finish it in two more minutes so that I can grab my lunch.”
The lecture is coming live to the children from the science center. Meanwhile, huddled in an adjacent room, counselors and special educators takes notes about how the lesson is progressing.
Elsewhere, in an Atlanta neighborhood, the “All Sorts!” app is absorbing a fourth grade autistic girl’s attention in an elementary school. This is special instructor Serena Mill’s classroom. All students are bent over their tabs running the “All Sorts!” app, doing different tasks according to their individual abilities. Serena, meanwhile, gives cues to various expressions to six of her students who tap on their iPad screens and show the relevant reaction to a particular situation.
Serena says that the apps are a key to engage her students in mathematics and reading skills. “These apps are amazing. They target all the special skills that children with autism spectrum disorder will need as they grow up,” she says and stresses that her students are motivated to use these apps. They enjoy working on their tabs, iPads, and smart phones. Their work on these gadgets gives them confidence and reinforcement to push their limitations of learning.
Serena and other teachers in her school for autistic children have observed that students are more attracted to a lesson where technology is involved. Many children’s apps have animated characters, music, attractive colors, prompt responses, and encouraging voices. Autistic students, whose repetitive behaviors often match the action of these apps, are usually attracted to them.
Many educators and therapists working with autistic children say that nowhere the interest in technology greater than those on the autism spectrum. Serena’s four-year old son Brad too has autism spectrum disorder and has lately found interest in the “All Sorts!” app.
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Building as profitable home internet business is not as complicated as you may think. You may be nervous about getting caught up with technical issues that seem impossible to understand. Or you might feel that you’re too old, too young or too inexperienced. Or you may just not know where to start.
As long as you know what you want to sell and who you want to sell it to, you’re ready to get started. Let’s take a look at the 5 steps to building a profitable home internet business.
1. Get Your Website Online
With modern software and technology, building a website is not that difficult. You definitely don’t have to start learning website coding or e-commerce programs. There are many online business systems that can be installed with a few clicks following step-by-step instructions. You can even outsource the whole set up if you feel that it’s too much for you.
2. Get People To Visit Your Website
Your home internet businesses will only make money if you get traffic to your website. Traffic is basically the number of people who visit your website. There are two ways to generate website traffic. You can buy website traffic or you can generate free website traffic. When you buy website traffic, it’s essentially paid advertising. It delivers instant results but the traffic stops as soon as you stop paying for it. So you have to ensure that you spend your money wisely. Free website traffic takes a little longer to generate, but once it starts, it can provide a regular flow of visitor traffic.
3. Provide Valuable Content For Free
It’s highly unlikely that somebody will buy from you the first time that they visit your website. You have gone to a lot of effort to get them to visit your website in the first place and you don’t want that work to go to waste. So, if you can obtain their email address, you can remain in contact with them. To encourage a website visitor to provide you with their email address, offer them something of value for free such a report, a discount or special offer. As long as it is relevant to your business and provides value.
4. Use Emails To Build A Relationship With Your Prospect
Email marketing is considered to be one of the most effective marketing strategies and you will need an email autoresponder. An autoresponder will automatically email your freebie when somebody requests it. It can then continue to send a pre-written series of emails to develop a relationship with your potential buyer.
5. Make Offers Or Recommendations
Email marketing is effective because you are providing regular and meaningful communications. The more value you provide, the more you will be seen as a trusted source of information. Then, when you make offers and recommendations about products and services to buy, your prospects are far more likely to buy from you because they trust your judgement.
In part 1 of this article series we met 3 individuals with unique backgrounds that left corporate and forged their own way. Here we illustrate 2 addition stories along with important strategies and tactics you need s you go forward in your own business. This journey of starting your own business is not for the faint of heart, but the success you will find will be life-changing.
Here is what you will learn:
1. Franchising is a good option for a business.
2. Doing your own business is very rewarding.
3. How coaching is vital to making your business a success.
Our first entrepreneur, was a successful high-level executive first at Ford and then at Terex, a firm focused on lifting and material processing products (e.g. cranes), with all the associated perks and incentives. Meet Pete Gilfillan. He had the good life and no reason to change until one day…
Alan: I saw that your main business is helping people evaluate franchises (FranChoice). How did you get started in your own business? What triggered that decision?
Pete: I was a corporate executive, first with Ford and later with Terex and they literally owned my life. I was traveling all the time. I just decided one day I had had enough and I would be an entrepreneur.
Alan: Tell me more about what happened when you decided to leave corporate life.
Pete: In my last position, I was with Terex. I live in Chicago, but the Terex is headquartered in Connecticut and I was on the road 6 days a week and much of the travel was international. With all the travel I didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise and frankly I was miserable. I was in another country and I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t remember what country I was in. I realized then I had had enough. When I got back to Chicago, I told my wife about the decision. At first my wife wasn’t keen on the idea of my leaving corporate. She saw the practical side of staying in corporate (financial security), but I knew I needed to make a change. I quit my job and I started working with a franchise consultant in order to find a franchise. After a few months we found Junk King and saw that it was be a good fit. I liked that it was a service based business and could be scaled up; such as adding trucks as the business grew and it had little overhead. Later, I started to work with FranChoice, where today I’m one of the top franchise consultants. I really like the way their business model works. There is no cost to individuals (companies pay FranChoice) and it gives me the opportunity to do what I love most, which is to help people find the business that meets their needs.
Alan: That’s great. You are able to do what you love. Let’s change gears for a minute. I saw that you wrote a best-selling book. Writing a book is a big step. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Writing is a key way to demonstrate your expertise and build your business
Pete: Darren Hardy, who is pretty well known in the entrepreneur circles, is my mentor. I went to his High Performance Summit and Darren said one of the best ways to give back is through writing a book. Since I have a lot of knowledge about the franchise business, doing a book on it was a good fit.
Alan: How did you find the time to write?
Pete: There is many ways to write a book. I found a company that would write the actual words while I talked. I would put together an outline for each chapter and talk for a couple of hours with the writers. We would meet for 2 hours a week, either early morning or late at night. After a draft of the book was created, I had someone edit the book. Even then it took a year and a half to complete the book.
Alan: How did you go about publishing it?
Pete: I was able to find a publishing company through my business coach.
Alan: It had to be daunting to start your own business after being in corporate. What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your own business?
Pete: If I could have been able to keep my corporate job and invested in franchise and then make the leap instead of going in cold to my own business, it would have saved me a lot of angst. I may have done something different than Junk King. I could have started a franchise on a part-time basis, say 15 hours week. With Junk King there was no way to do it on a part-time basis.
Alan: What’s next for you?
Pete: Speaking engagements, so I can reach more people and continue to work with ExecuNet, which is a private community made up of over 750,000 CEOs, VPs and various leaders and influencers.
Alan: Any final words?
Pete: I would say that for franchising, people need to have an open mind. When people ask me about franchising, they have already made up their mind that it would be food (McDonalds, etc.) They have that in mind because they see a lot of people eating at those restaurants so they assume it is a good business to get into. I help them understand that the food business is very competitive; has high capital investment and a high cost of goods sold (the food). There are over 3000 franchises in every conceivable business that may fit their needs. It doesn’t have to be food.
But regardless of what business you go in, whether it is a franchise or not, you need to work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.
Alan: Good words to live by. Thanks for your time.
Our second entrepreneur was a successful telecom executive before going into his own business. He shares key ideas on making your business grow. Meet Rick Lochner.
Alan: How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
Rick: I’ve known for some time that I wanted to be in my own business and that it would be in the leadership area. I worked with entrepreneurial company and it was sold 2 years after I started. I went to another company and 2 years later it was sold. The turmoil of being at companies that are going through turnarounds is very difficult for everyone involved. It is very long hours, great stress and often the rewards of that hard work just aren’t there. I’ve been laid off 4 times in my career so I knew corporate has no security. I even negotiated my severance package before I went to work a healthcare company.
Alan: How exactly did going into your own business occur?
Rick: My wife and I were having brunch with a couple and we talked about how it would be great to start business and details on what that business would look like when it started in a few years. At the end of the meal, I said, “Why are we waiting; let’s do it!” It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Alan: What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
Rick: The best thing is I get to do what I love. In corporate, there were many things I had to do that I really didn’t enjoy. Being an entrepreneur, being in my own business, enables me to live with purpose and that is very meaningful to me.
Alan: Is there anything you would do differently now if you were just starting your business?
Rick: I would have pursued the non-profit market right away. I didn’t because people told me there is no money in that business, but that is not true. That market needs to be approached differently than for-profit but they need my services just as much. Now non-profit is 25% of my business. But you asked if I would have done anything differently and the answer is no. The business strategy worked and I would have approached starting the business the same way.
Alan: What challenges did you have starting out?
Rick: I started the business in July 2008. The US was already in a recession and financial markets were in turmoil and little did I know things in the business world were about to get a lot worse. I had worked in telecom for many years as an executive and I had been quite successful. I had a load of contacts at my previous company, Sprint; there were many people that knew me well and respected me but I was not able to get business from them. They still saw me as a telecom executive and not as knowledgeable in leadership development, even though I had been developing leaders at Sprint. I had traveled a lot during me years in corporate and my connections in Chicago were no better than in Atlanta or any other U.S. city. I knew I needed to develop roots in the local community. I joined Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and started to created circles of influence. In time the contacts I made developed into connections for the business. It wasn’t easy, but I went all in; 100% to make the business work.
Why having a part-time business is so important
Alan: What advice would you give to someone that is climbing the corporate ladder?
Rick: Every corporate employee should have a part time gig to provide a bridge to go into business for themselves or just to have a secondary income source. I started teaching leadership at Keller School of Business in 2004. Teaching helped in the 8 months transition to my business full-time. It provided income after getting laid-off; making it easier to focus on the growth of the business and not where the next paycheck was coming from.
Alan: What has been the biggest challenge in your learning curve as an entrepreneur?
Rick: Marketing was new to me; I had not worked in that area. So I put together my business plan and my marketing plan and discussed it in detail with my two mastermind groups. They both said the business plan was great and was going to work but the marketing plan was not good. So I was tutored in marketing from people that were 20 years younger than me and their advice was spot on. This taught me a couple of valuable things. 1) You have to know what you are good at and what you are not good at and find experts in the areas that you are not good. 2) Spend a lot of time with people 20s to early 40s in order to gain insights on trends.
Alan: What additional advice would you give to someone that was looking to start their own business?
Rick: Know what problem you are trying to solve and position yourself so that is clear that you are the only one that can solve it. Too many people get hung up on their product or service and less focused on the problem to be solved. If you are going to go for it, then you really have to go for it. At the core, you have to know how to solve the problem in a unique way.
Alan: How did your writing a book come about?
Rick: The business model I developed has been a work in progress since 1999. I used that model to align the business at every organization I led as an executive. Often we try to fix a problem in an isolated way which doesn’t work. The process may not be broken; it may be the people, so you need a holistic approach. I wrote the first book in 2012 to complete my initial business strategy and a book does that. I was advised by a couple of authors and self-published it. I needed to promote the business alignment method and the book helps clarify the model as well as promote the business. I asked clients what is perfect length for a book and they said a Chicago to Los Angeles flight, which is about 4 ½ hours.
Alan: You’ve actually published multiple books. How did you come with your ideas?
Rick: The second book was to help the individual leader and the third book was for the entrepreneurs. I write books that apply to the business areas I work in.
Alan: How do you find the time to write?
Rick: The secret to success is having a coach. I’ve had 3 accountability coaches so far and each one helped me in a different way. When I first started the business, I needed an accountability coach; someone that would keep me accountable and keep me encouraged. She was the type of person I needed at that time. Keep in mind, I was starting this business during the depths of the Great Recession and needed that support. The second coach helped me write the books, not from the standpoint that he had ideas for the book, but he was able to get me moving along on the development of the book. I actually wrote the first book while my wife was driving during vacation because I was on a self-imposed deadline and needed to get it done. The third coach has helped me grow the business and take it took another level. If I would have had her in the beginning, it would not have worked well. Now that the business is growing and I am at a different place in my thinking and my business, she is exactly what I need.