BSR Wisdom

  • Encore Entrepreneurs: Debbie Durham House Sitter

    Encore Entrepreneurs: Debbie Durham’s story

    Age: 65

    Current income generating activity: Community Education Program Coordinator at Life By Design since 2009.

    Housing Strategy: House Sitting domestic and abroad.

    What she does: Find house sitting gigs as an alternative to paying increasing rents.

    What is making her strategy work now:

    Debbie has been able to find house sitting jobs since she moved out of her apartment in March, 2016. She charges a fee for taking care of pets. She has strung together constant house sitting stints over the months in the Portland area, but realizes that that may not last forever. So far, she has found all her house sitting via word of mouth. So she started looking at other house sitting options abroad.

    When asked how she manages personal effects, mail, etc: use a post office box. But there are certain institutions that require a physical address as well. She uses a storage unit for most items, and assigns respective boxes for bathroom supplies, another for office, suitcases for certain seasons. “The paring down process is ongoing,” she says.

    Debbie’s story of re-visiting, re-creation and re-imagination:

    Debbie was living in Clackamas County, renting an apartment at a reasonable rate for a long time. The location was perfect as it was within walking distance to the store, post office, and other amenities. She was also taking care of her mother at the time. 2009 saw the beginning of an influx of people moving to Portland, and this started to drive up rent. Debbie’s rent traditionally had only gone up $25 a year over the years. But then the rent increased six times the normal amount. She was not willing to sign a lease. She looked at the current housing situation in Portland as a lose-lose situation.

    She looked at her budget, and could not afford the new rent. Her health insurance at the time was about $300 a month, leaving her with a thin margin to live on. “I was working part time by choice to help my mother,” so my income was low and there simply was not enough money for these increases in expenses.

    Debbie also reflected on how people want to do something meaningful in their lives, but don’t always get to do this during their careers. Many put off acting on their passions until after retirement. Debbie attended a housing forum put on by Life By Design in 2015. This housing forum focused on housing issues often faced by those over 50. The discussion focused on getting people to think about where they want to be in five years, and not waiting for a senior housing crisis to hit.

    Given all this, Debbie thought about how to handle the changing housing landscape, what is important to her, what things make her happy, a how to generate income, and what she was going to do come 2017.

    As an erstwhile Peace Corps volunteer, she had experience teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). ESL teachers often have employment opportunities abroad as American ex-pats. She also could find work as a writer or an editor. Debbie also loves traveling alone, speaking different languages, learning about the culture and how people live their daily lives in a country different from her own. After a search on the internet she found house sitting web sites to help potential house sitters find opportunities, including internationally. The international aspect also appealed to Debbie: housing is very expensive in the United States, but considerably less expensive in developing countries. Sure, she realizes there may not be much money in teaching English, but she will be making up for it in terms of paying less rent.

    In her research she found plenty of web sites aimed at “a life of ease,” geared at those who are looking for options in developed countries. Debbie prefers to be in “uncomfortable” settings. That’s a mark of an intrepid traveler! One web site she mentioned is where potential house sitters can build a profile and make themselves available for sitting. Hosts often say they want retirees.

    Her plan as of now is to go to Quito, Ecuador in 2017. She may also go to Nicaragua for awhile. She has connections in both places which helps.

    A nomadic lifestyle fits very well for many people, at any age. When asked how she emotionally manages moving on a regular basis. “I have never had a permanent place to live! I am used to moving every five to seven years. That said, my strategy is to keep myself flexible, allowing for spontaneity. I keep reading travel blogs written by long term house sitters/travelers who are quite happy with their lifestyle. That encourages me. My #1 concern is related to being alone. As I age, sharing meaningful experiences with a travel companion is more attractive.”

    The BSR take away:

    Debbie took stock of her values, experience, and also what made her happy. Being adventurous opens up different avenues for her. She also has experience that puts her in a good position to generate income in an international setting. ESL teachers are frequently sought after in many countries. Many people want to learn English!

    Housing is a reality in our current economy and directly impacts our short term and long term choices. If traveling, particularly in developing countries, is a good fit for your lifestyle, international house sitting could potentially be an option for 50+ people considering how to manage their living arrangements and financial realities. Living abroad may not be for everyone but it might work for you if it is something you have always wanted to do but were not in a position to do so in the past.

  • Encore Entrepreneur Inspiration: Independent Financial Professional Luna Jaffe

    Financial planning and money coaching as a small business

    Luna Jaffe, 55, Lunaria Financial, Ltd.

    Luna Jaffe, Wild Money Owner

    Luna Jaffe, Author of Wild Money

    Financial planning, investment management, and money coaching is Luna’s business.  As an independent financial professional, Luna is the award-winning author of Wild Money: a Creative Journey to Financial Wisdom, “the world’s first beautiful book about money.”  Luna writes, “my life’s work is to inspire a transformation in the way we think about and relate to money – so that money and wealth building become tools of person and social change.”

    Luna created an innovative financial planning firm by drawing on her life experiences,  skills, education gathered over three decades.  She earned a degree in Bilingual Education. She traveled the world in a sailboat.  At 23 started silk painting, running a business called LunaSilks for over a decade.  She then earned a degree in Jungian psychotherapy and had a private practice in her early thirties.  Laid off after 9/11 at age 41, she went from selling security systems, and after that became a financial advisor selling securities.  Now, she successfully brings it all together, creatively advising clients though their own unique financial wilderness.

    “The truth of the matter,” Luna says, “is that I had no clue where I was going when I was 41.”  She had been laid off of the first time in her life, and had a two year old.  She wanted a career that would allow her to be entrepreneurial and stable.  Not knowing what to look for, she made a list of what mattered most: make over $100k, use all the skills and experiences of the past two decades, work close to home so her child could know what she did for a living, and have the freedom of working for herself (although she was open to working for a company).

    Luna was recruited by Edward Jones.  Another financial advisor convinced her that “you can learn the money stuff!”  Putting all of her creative projects aside, she devoted herself to learning the foreign language of stocks, bonds, and financial planning.  Her approach to advising was always rooted in her creativity, and her background as a psychotherapist served her well.

    She grew her business by teaching finance in creative ways; won numerous awards and traveled the world a a result of trips won from exceeding sales expectations.  She mentored new financial advisors, and was a frequent speaker at sales events.  But after seven years with Edward Jones, she began to feel limited by their brand, and wanted to be the brand.  She also had more books to write.

    At 51 years old, she started Lunaria Financial, a company deeply rooted in her creative approach to being an independent financial planner.  It was not easy.  “If I had known how hard it would be, I might not have done it.”  Luna adds, “I was determined that the book I wanted to write wasn’t going to be shaped by some compliance department.”

    For Luna, Encore Entrepreneurship is about owning who she truly is an deciding what she wants to put out into the world.  This is how Wild Money came about.  Luna’s pearls of wisdom:

    1. The key to a successful encore is looking at your entire body of work – experiences, mistakes, adventures, relationships.  They may all look different but look for patterns, which can inform your next act.
    2. Recognize the education you need to be a business owner is equal to the training you needed to acquire whatever skill you’ll be going into business to do, whatever it is.  You need to know how to create systems, how to be repeatable, how to scale your sills.  Get those skills now and “see if it lights you up,” as Luna puts it.
    3. Think about the risk.  How much risk can you tolerate?  Do you have the personality type to be entrepreneurial?  Get to know yourself, but don’t let yourself get scared off by the challenge.  “Just because you’ve never identified has an entrepreneur before doesn’t mean you can’t start now!”
    4. Don’t underestimate the value of helpful people! Engaging with others can make or break your business.
    5. Study what things cost and what’s appropriate to spend.  Practice making money in the beginning. DON’T invest in a web site or marketing program.  Focus on cash flow and building cash reserves.
    6. Your home life will inform your business life and vice versa.  Get your home life in order first.  Hire an independent financial professional.  People loose track of their personal finances when they start a business.
    7. Remember that success is a moving target.  Our definition of success shifts as we reach milestones.  We need to celebrate when we achieve goals, no matter how small.





  • Encore Entrepreneurs: Jim Newcomer

    Name of the Business: Balance Breakthrough Coaching

    What the Business Does: Coaching services for “businesses with purpose,” focusing on helping sustainable, socially- and/or locally-minded companies succeed.  “My calling is to support clients in succeeding: retaining their commitment, surviving as a business, and making a living.”

    What makes it successful: Jim has a passion for learning.  Ha earned three degrees by the time he was 40.  Despite years of experience, he is constantly refining his vision while gaining new skills.  Webinars, guidance from the Small Business Development Center, and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Systems Renewal all contributed to enhancing his skills.

    Re-invention, re-creation, and re-imagination: Jim is a Portland, Oregon native.  He spent decades exploring the globe, serving overseas a as Foreign Service Officer, teaching international relations at three state universities, and doing community organizing, he came back home and turned to a whole new world – business.

    He tried to start a company and failed many times.  But he learned from every mistake, and began to refine his vision, focusing ever more narrowly on environmentalism and sustainability.  His last “real company” produced flooring made from reclaimed materials, the company was bought-out, and Jim stayed on as a marketing manager, and business boomed.

    During this time he earned his Master’s degree, and worked briefly has a business coach.  He then found his niche as the face behind Balance Breakthrough Coaching, where Jim uses his education, experience  – including the failures! – and passion for sustainability and social activism.  He also teaches as an adjunct faculty member at Marylhurst University.

    When asked why he was drawn to Encore Entrepreneurship, Jim gave the standard answer: “I’ve always needed to make a living.”  Despite having social security and a little retirement from teaching, he knew he couldn’t right away.

    But money was not the only motivator; Jim was passionate about what he was doing.

    BSR Take Away: Jim is still exploring, even though things have fallen into place.  One of his coaching clients is an energy healer and wants to work with businesses in systemic transformation.   It is exciting to see how this next chapter turns out.


  • Short Free Webinar on Encore Entrepreneurship

    On Friday January 13 at 1:00 to 1:30 pm SBDC is offering a half hour FREE short webinar on our coming Encore Business Builders Class.

    It will be really great information if you are considering an Encore enterprise.

    It is free, but you do need to register with Eventbrite.

    Here is the link

    Hope you can join us!!!

    Jackie B

  • Encore Entrepreneurs: Jim Staicoff’s story

    Name of business:  Staicoff Design Company and Paper Paint Press, two businesses uniquely intertwined.

    What the businesses do:  Staicoff Design Company is an interior design firm focused on the guest experience in hotels and restaurants.  Paper Paint Press is an outlet for Jim’s creative bent and offers “distinctive, high-quality,  art-inspired wall products.” All made in Oregon, the wall coverings are printed on the finest paper and use environmentally friendly ink.  Bonus: Staicoff Design Company is often able to use Paper Paint Press products in the interiors they design, and clients have loved them.

    Success features: Jim has been an interior designer for 34 years.  When the recession hit, he ended up out of work and on unemployment, like many creatives.  “It was demeaning,” he admits.  “I was ‘unhireable’ … with 30 years of experience!  Firms in the business just weren’t willing to hire someone with that much experience.”  But he was able to rebuild, and offers unique products.  Interior designers are his main markets and, he already has a network he can call upon.

    Re-invention, re-creation, and re-imagination: Jim has had this business under a variety of names since 2000.  His work was very highly regarded and had won awards, but then the recession hit.  “It was horrifying,” Jim says.  But the recession gave him the chance to approach his work from a whole new angle.  Then he started Paper Paint Press.

    “I’m a modernist in terms of design aesthetic, but I also loves patterns and textures,” he explains.  He had a lot of ideas that weren’t available on the market, and thought, “If I have all these ideas, why shouldn’t I see if I can makes some money?”

    He began by selling 35 custom digital wallpaper design and has since started using a wood patterns that is painted over to crate a gorgeous undulating effect.  “There’s nothing else like it on the market! he says proudly.  He’s also made use of his network by “licensing” designs created by his artist friends; “I hire them up front, but they still get a percentage of every sale,” Jim explains.  “I’m the ‘creative director,’ and then they respond to my ideas with something creative and clever that I think will sell.”

    Jim was able to keep the design firm throughout the recession, and today his is the proud owner of two successful businesses.  Staicoff Design Company focuses on creating unique, interesting environments  in hotels and restaurants; Jim has found is “deep and narrow niche” in the hospitality industry.  And he loves being able to use Paper Paint Press products in some of his spaces.  “I always tell the client that this is my product, and they don’t have to use it.”  But the response so far has been overwhelmingly  positive, and the ability to specify to specify his personal design products has the benefit of creating build-in sales.

    BSR Take Away: Jim’s story is the exception of the “mission creep” warning.  He was able to create two lucrative businesses that revolve around his deep and narrow niche.




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