Opportunities Hidden in Plain View

There is no shortage of gloomy economic news & tear jerking accounts of personal financial turmoil.  These stories have to be told, but occasionally hearing an upbeat story can be refreshing and inspiring.  Accounts of people finding ways to counter the effects of an economic downturn may be in short supply but they are out there.

Some people have started businesses directly in response to the foreclosure crisis, some have started money making projects in an attempt to learn about money basics, others found ways to recover from hurricane Katrina & some are working at home doing jobs that would otherwise be outsourced overseas.  These stories feature creative money making ventures (big & small) but they also serve as a reminder that there are non conventional answers to common problems.

The story of the Cornbread Millionaire had us cheering Beverly Davis on in her attempt to repurchase her foreclosed house.  Earlier this year her house went into foreclosure & she decided to raise money to buy it back at an auction.  She took her grandmother’s cornbread recipe & made a business out of it, one that will hopefully put her back in her home.  I can’t think of a better reason to start a business.

Mike Lane wanted his daughters Megan & Emma, 10 & 12 respectively, to learn the value of money & the basics of money management.  So the two girls decided to rent out their 106sf tree house for a few months during the summer to seasonal employees working in and around California’s Sequoia National Forest.  Check out their story at Marketplace Money and see the slide show of their tree house.  Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

Before hurricane Katrina, Jerome Boykin had plans to go to graduate school but the storm changed all that.  One night after the storm, his father took him to a mall parking lot & showed him a sweeper truck and asked if he would be interested in a lot sweeping business.  With no previous experience, Jerome learned to operated the sweeper truck & is now running a successful business that has provided jobs and helped numerous businesses in 8 parishes in Southeastern Louisiana.  No telling how many people drove past that same parking lot & sweeper truck without seeing what Jerome and his father saw.

Although not a new small business, there are some customer service call centers that are bringing jobs back to the US.  Calls that were for many years answered overseas are increasingly being taken by Americans working from home.  This new arrangement is good for businesses that are seeing the costs of operating overseas skyrocketing.  It’s also good for Americans that due to illness or family responsibilities prefer to work from home.  One of the best known companies offering such “home sourcing” opportunities is Alpine Access & there are an estimated 60,000 Americans taking customer service calls at home.

One of this country’s greatest strengths is the abundance of opportunities available to all of us to create our own success stories. We are surrounded by exciting possibilities waiting to be recognized.

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