Better Smarter Richer

  • Encore Entrepreneur Stories: Roland Zapata bounces back with home inspection solo business after lay off

    After 17 years in the corporate world, Roland Zapata was laid off.  Eventually, He explored a solo career doing home inspections and soon his company, Ideal Home Inspections LLC launched.  Roland wonders why he didn’t do this sooner.

    What the business does:  Ideal Home Inspections LLC offer home buyers an in-depth inspection of their future home.  In addition, IHI offers homeowners who are thinking about selling Pre-Inspections.  This process gives sellers the chance to correct any items that would prevent them from getting the maximum sale value of their home.

    Roland’s business also offers 72 hour continuous radon testing as well as Lead Based Paint Testing.  He is becoming a Home Energy Assessor (to be completed by the early Fall 2017).  Concurrently, Roland is taking the steps necessary to come a certified Commercial Inspector for businesses less than 10,000 square feet (to be completed by November 1, 2017).

    This is going to give Roland several strong streams of income for his company. He is never again going to count on one customer or one product. He believes that being laid off taught him a difficult lesson; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    Roland’s Journey of re-imagining, re-creation, re-visioning:  After 17 years of corporate sales, Roland was laid off, told to clean out his office and his whole working career was turned upside down and disappeared within 30 minutes.  Roland was really surprised and took some time to recover from the lay off.  He began a process of self-exploration, and looked into home inspections.  He said he had always worked on houses and that his father was a general contractor so he was very familiar with the building industry.

    “Getting out of your comfort zone is important for a solo business”, says Roland.   “Establishing relationships with realtors, title companies, brokers, and contractors has also been important for me. People come and go in this business.  It takes a bit of effort to get regular work.”
    Roalnd likes working with first time home buyers because he has been through that process.  “I alleviate their concerns and fears.  I know what they are going through.”

    Roland adds that follow through and integrity are key.  “If you don’t have that, your credibility goes south fairly quickly.”  He now has six regular clients.

    BSR Take Away:   “When first starting out, it’s vital to meet as many people as you can. Develop a network that is actively promoting you and your services.  Knocking on doors, Facebook, and LinkedIn are some ways Roland markets.  He recently got six contacts on Alignable.

    “Integrity— follow through is extremely important.  I work with six real estate companies on a fairly consistent basis.”  His goal is to increase his client base.
    Roland concludes, “If you are going to own your business, be prepared to work 24/7.  Being self-employed means everyday is a work day.  You know what?  Two years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love every minute of it!!!  I wish I had become a home inspector 10 years ago.”







  • Encore Entrepreneurs Stories: James Pedersen’s response to retirement crisis with his small firm Investra


    Investra founder, owner James Pedersen

    James Pedersen founded Investra to help people maximize their retirement.

    James (Jim) Pedersen decided to take action with the retirement crisis when he experienced life changing events.  The result of that action was Investra when he was 37.

    What the business does: Jim helps people with retirement.  Most people will not have enough money by the time they would generally be ready to retire.  “My program shows them how they will be able to have enough and have control over their investments as they are progress towards retirement.” Specifically:

    1.  Shows people how to keep track of their retirement and other investments to make sure they are performing at the rate that they should be.
    2. It shows them a simple way to determine on a monthly basis how their investment is doing.  A simple form has been developed  in order to be able to do this tracking.
    3. It shows them how to keep track of their individual investments letting them know which investments look promising.
    4. It teaches how to research and accurately make accurate investment decisions.
    5. Jim does not charge for these services.

    Jim’s Story of Re-Vision, Re-Creation:

    A long time math and science teacher, Jim Pedersen found himself in a situation where he wanted to educate people about managing their retirement.  Specifically those who worked in the non-profit sector enrolled in 403b pension plans.  He, also realized that so few people aged 50 have even $10,000 in retirement.

    His wife’s disability was an event that urged him to take action.  He had a brick and mortar insurance and brokerage firm.  He sold it after he recovered from heart surgery and when his wife’s care need increased.

    Jim learned about a software program that analyzes mutual funds, and he boiled it down to a simple teaching template.  He was able to take the complex to a simple form.  He developed a second form to help decide Where to put the money afterward?  “No one keeps track of their retirement largely due to lack of education.”  James adds: “If you worked at your first job the way you worked at your second job – your retirement – would you be fired?”

    The Future: Jim’s company is still in start up phase.  But it is evident that he was able to apply skills of education and math and science.  All of those experiences together are working for him to create a service for something timely such as the retirement crisis.  He helps others and he can then help himself.

    Find out more about Encore Entrepreneur classes by taking one of Jackie B. Peterson’s classes by clicking here.













  • Solo Business Success: Sherri Curley is the Practical Sort providing Eco-Organizing Solutions

    Eco-Organizing Solutions

    Sherri Curely is The Practical Sort, Eco-Oganizing Solutions

    Sherri Curley started The Practical Sort to help people organize their living space.

    Sherri Curley started The Practical Sort, a small Eco-organizing business putting her coordination skills to work.

    Origin Story: Sherri Curley does not call herself an “empty nester,” she prefers “free bird,” shedding the negative and hollow connotations of her children leaving the nest.  She asked herself, “what does that look like?”  Jackie’s Better, Smarter, Richer class appeared on her computer screen (“as if Jackie communicated through the universe to me,” she adds).

    Sherri was not sure what she was going to do.  Jackie asked her what she was good at.  With a long history of helping individuals and non-profits find and restore order, an organizing business seemed like a natural conclusion.   The Practical Sort Eco-Organizing Solutions was created.

    Sherri offers organizing services using an eco-friendly paradigm drawing upon her previous work at the US Environmental Protection Agency.  Busy women can feel overwhelmed and scattered by the disorganization cluttering their living spaces.  Most of her clients have little time, desire, or ability to get their personal spaces sorted.  The Practical Sort helps them rediscover productivity and the comforts of their homes by gaining control and transforming their surroundings. She encourages reducing what people bring into their homes.  She then encourages releasing what they no longer need or want in a way that is kind to the environment.

    Journey of re-creation, re-imagination:  Sherri writes, “As my business has evolved, I have added engaging with realtors to assist their clients with pre-sale home prep and project management services.  For example, if a client is too busy or has difficulty getting their home market-ready, I give them a hand.  I help by researching, scheduling and confirming handiwork contractors, painters, carpet installers, stagers, gutter cleaners, etc. I also liaison between the contractors and realtors to ensure the projects are completed thoroughly.”

    She recently teamed up with one of Portland Metro area’s premier home cleaning services, Executive Choice Cleaning and Staging Spaces PDX.  This paring “will offer a one-stop shopping experiences for relocating clients.”

    What’s working now?  Sherri has been trying different approaches to reach potential clients.  Referrals from past clients and realtors have been most lucrative.  Real Estate Open House networking events, realtor broker meetings, and SBDC gatherings have been effective as well.

    Take Away:  “I am currently enrolled in an intensive non-traditional business training curriculum.  We devote considerable time exploring ourselves, our personal roadblocks, and ways to push through them.”  She adds, “Keeping an open mind as to where the journey is taking me is key.”

    For more information about The Practical Sort or to schedule a free phone consultation, please visit or contact

    To take Jackie’s Better, Smarter Richer class or buy the work book, visit the Products links on this web site.

    Subscribe to Jackie’s newsletter to learn about meet ups and other information to further your solo business.


  • Encore Entrepreneur Stories: Anne Hudson works home remodeling small business magic as the Sourceress

    Anne Hudson remodels interiors.

    Anne Hudson’s talent for design serves her well with her home remodeling small business The Sourceress.

    Encore entrepreneur inspiration comes to home interior designer Anne Hudson, age 70, with her home remodeling small business.

    What the business does:  Anne’s specialty is Sourcing interior materials such as furnishings and fixtures for remodeling projects.

    Design, beauty, and a keen eye for aesthetics and design have been an integral part of Anne Hudson’s careers.  Her first career was modeling. Then she worked as a course leader for Career Makers. Now, she is taking advantage of another interest, designing interiors, including working with furnishings and fixtures.  Others have always noticed Anne’s knack for design.  Home remodeling is Anne’s encore career.

    Re-Visiting, Re-Creation, Re-imagining:  The name of her business, “The Sourceress,” came to Anne about a year ago while she was meditating, and became the name of her solo business.  Glimpses of her knack for design has been evident over the years.  She had an apartment at one time that she re-modeled, and after she moved out, the landlord kept the work she had done. Her design was that good.  Later, when she bought her house, she made many modifications to meet her design aesthetic. She loved every minute of the project and her home became a show place for her friends who have encouraged her in her business.

    Anne’s talents developed at at early age, largely thanks to hands-on education from her parents.   The do-it-yourself approach is “in her blood.”  Anne’s father was an electrician, and her mother designed their house.  She learned much from her father as his knowledge of building went beyond the usual work of an electrician. Says Anne, “My daddy could do everything!”

    Anne explored resources to help her with her solo business.  She deliberated over whether or not to to invest the money to take the Solo Business Builder class.   She realized that the benefits, including the moral support, would be well worth the money and the time spent.

    What is working now:  Anne is still called upon occasionally to model.  People in their 70s are not tapped on a regular basis for modeling, but when they are, she is at the top of the list.  But Home design is her priority.

    At this stage, Anne says “I don’t know what I don’t know.”  She recently discovered Oregon Association of Minority Enterprises  (OAME), and plans to have coffee with a different member every week.  Another organization she has connected with is the Metropolitan Contractors Improvement Partnership (MCIP).

    Master Bath Remodel by Anne Hudson The Sourceress

    Master Bath Remodel by Anne Hudson, The Sourceress.  DYI spirit and an eye for design are evident in her work.

    Right now she is looking for who she can partner with.  She is seeking smaller contractors who don’t have the design flair.  Building relationships is key, says Anne.   She plans to meet with people in the industry, find out what they do, what they need.  Anne considers herself to be a “conduit of goodwill.”  She admits she was hesitant with the networking concept originally, thinking it was how people used each other.  Now she sees it in a more positive light.  “That all changed for me when I took a course called Career Makers.  The first morning, the founder talked about ‘the gracious art of networking,’ which for me sounded like blasphemy.  However, Anne soon saw networking as really valuable and went on to be a Career Makers course leader for 17 years.

    “I now refer to my network as ‘sacred ground’ because my network is about building lasting relationships founded in trust.  I network all the time, everywhere, with every body about everything.  It’s become a part of my DNA to have my radar tuned.  I never know who I may need and where that connection may lead.  I may be standing in line at the post office, a conversation starts, and ???  Who knows what magic can come of that.” She wants to connect people who need help with home design to those who offer it.  She is a resource, The Sourceress.  You can find Anne on LinkedIn:



  • Encore Entrepreneurs: Jim Logan saw a need for personalized spiritual consultation and founded SoulVentures

    Taking a leap of faith in a tough job market lead to starting personalized spiritual consultation service. 

    Name of business: SoulVentures

    What the business does:  Jim Logan, 54, operates outside formal religious structures. He provides person-structured spiritual consultation and ceremonies. Especially those marking life’s key transitions.  Categories include weddings, funerals, “living funerals,” the welcoming of a new child.  Jim works with anyone regardless of spiritual orientation or religious background.  “The practice at SoulVentures is based on the belief that spirituality is natural and innate to each person and is cultivated within their own experience.”

    What makes is successful: In a word – courage.  Jim decided to embark on a career transitionTook time to look at his life and think about issues that needed addressing.  He assessed his skills and preferences, and carefully analyzed their relationship to the job market.  He moved to Portland in 2010 and faced a tough job market.  Networking was not working.

    Then a close friend suggested that he pursue his passion, and trust that the money will follow.  He took the leap.

    Re-invention, re-creation, and re-imagination: Jim started out has an ordained minister and had served in that capacity for more than two decades.  He finally realized

    It was not an easy journey.  Facing a tough job market, a diagnosis for prostate cancer, and some scattered contract work here and there, his true niche was still eluding him.  It was only when a good friend challenged him to live his passion that the pieces started falling into place.

    Jim writes, “I believe each person should be respected for the unique personality and individual spiritual leanings and gifts.”

    SoulVentures started from that core vision.  Jim works as a spiritual consultant and facilitator of personalized ceremonies.  He draws on “connecting the dots between the details of a ceremonial celebration and the major events of people’s lives.”  His training in  spiritual guidance is based on Ignatian (Jesuit) spirituality.  He has adopted his approach for anyone regardless of spiritual/religious background.

    When he works with a client at SoulVentures, Jim begins with each client’s personal experience.  This helps the client “choose to stay more intentionally connected to their passion and purpose.”

    BSR Take Away:  SoulVentures is built on a strong foundation of personal integrity and courage.  Jim’s wise philosophy about spirituality applies to your career as well: it should be innate and natural to your personality.  It should be as unique and special as you are.

    For information on how you can learn more about starting and running a solo business, go to Best Beginnings on this site.