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Planning for the Future

torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
edited August 2008 in Selecting a Business
I appreciate the forum much and have been following with interest over the past six months.  Here`s another "I`m at a crossroads" situation for you.
I have worked in the legal profession for the last fifteen years, primarily as a paralegal, but now as a technology specialist for attorneys (I`m a real geek) in a large, nationally recognized firm.  Recently I`ve become the beneficiary of an estate.  The settlement should come within the next few months and will be around $300g.  I`ve been giving some thought to using this to shift the direction of my life into an area that I might enjoy more.
My options as I see them are:
1. Invest and save (keeping the current profession).
2. Start a business doing something I love doing.
3. Move and start a business.
I`m not a real fan of the area I live in and could use some new surroundings offering a few more things to do in the outdoors.  My loves and passions include nature and the outdoors and photography.  I`ve thought of setting up a website that markets top quality outdoors gear ala REI, Cabellas, Bass Pro, etc., along with furniture that has a distinctive `natural` look.  I`ve also thought of buying into a franchise or business model that would set the stage for my future earnings.  Basically, I could use this money to springboard into a higher bracket if I play my cards right and make clear-headed decisions.
So I guess what I`m looking for are suggestions from the forum in making smart moves.  After working with law for so many years, I am not the gullible type, nor will I use this money frivolously.  I`m not interested in any get rich quick ideas or even MLM, etc.  I am interested in solid opportunity with a proven track record only.  I`m not afraid of risk and definitely have an entrepreneurial spirit, but will reject 99% of what most folks hold out as opportunities these days as merely methods of getting my money.  If I do allocate the funds into a business of some sort, it could become tax sheltered.  The only other way I could accomplish this would be to fund a retirement account.
Any ideas for someone like me? Thanks in advance -


  • torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
    Thank you both for well thought-out replies.
    GreenChip - maxing out employer programs is definitely sound advice.  In addition to matching programs, there are great tax benefits.
    Craig - exactly the type of thinking I`m looking for.  Believe it or not, energy is one of the things at which I`ve been trying to take a closer look.  I appreciate your thoughts on tangible product capable of functioning in a contracting economy.  I have been giving a great deal of thought to this.  It is one reason I`ve leaned heavily toward service-related business in the past, because when people need something done, they need it done.  I`ve never been a fan of the latest "hot" trend or business models that are based on what I might consider frill or luxury items (ala Starbucks).  I like the idea of looking at things that are real and needed no matter what phase the economy currently finds itself.  This is forward-thinking.
  • torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
    I live in the heart of tornado alley.  There was a small town of 1500 people that was completely wiped off the map last year by an EF-5 tornado (Greensburg, Kansas).  In addition to 90% of the homes, the town`s infrastructure was destroyed completely.  In deciding to build back, they have opted to do something unique and become the first "green" town on the map.  The city`s buildings are being rebuilt to Leed Platinum certification levels, which is pretty amazing.  They have attracted quite a bit of attention.  In addition, another nearby small town in Missouri is now completely powered by wind energy.
    I`ve been following the story of Greensburg carefully, because I have always had an interest in weather.  I have chased storms professionally for many years, documenting around 120 or so tornadoes at this point, and I used to be a stringer for The Weather Channel. 
    So Craig, your suggestion has me thinking of a marriage of all of my interests into one perfect company.  My techno-geek aptitude, ability to instruct others about technology, interest in weather, and fascination with renewable energy would all work quite nicely together.  You are right ... renewable energy is not simply a hippie initiative ... it is quickly becoming the most practical choice.  I can see partnerships emerging with not only the technologies but people willing to install and maintain them.  There are already architectural firms in my city that are specializing in the subject, as well.
    This was the type of brain fuel that I`ve been looking for the past few weeks.  Definitely some exciting possibilities to consider.  Thanks for chatting about it -
  • torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
    With anything like this, education is one of the first keys.  Once people are given the insight into what it`s about, the money will take care of itself.  To be honest, potential money making ability doesn`t excite me as much as the subject matter itself and the potential it has to benefit people.
    Green principles don`t necessarily have to be complex, and can start with some simple ideas that make a difference in a person`s utility bills.  A few small changes in a person`s choices as far as electricity consumption make a big impact ... two degrees of your thermostat, the types of lighting you have in your home, etc.  For those interested in seeing a greater impact, there are a lot of exciting technologies that have really come into their own lately.  Just one example is geothermal energy.  With this, a person can take advantage of the earth`s natural ability to retain heat to cool and heat their home.  Wells are dug in which lines run beneath the home.  As water moves through these lines, it carries heat from the house in the summer and that heat is transferred to the ground below.  This results in cooling the home.  In the winter, the lines carry the heat from below ground and transfer that up to the home, heating it.  Here`s the cool part ... geothermal costs a bit more to install, but pays for itself in about five years.  Plus, it instantly adds substantial resale value to the home.  It`s just smart construction.
    That`s the homeowner angle.  But consider a business or company that is paying skyrocketing utility bills.  Many of these are seeking out consultants to come and show them how to put green concepts to work.  And they are willing to invest in the technology to see an improvement in their bottom line. 
    The analogy to the way that computers started out is a good one.  For years people didn`t have a clue what they were or how to use one.  Now there isn`t a house without one, and they are standard learning in elementary schools.  We will see dramatic improvements in the application of green technologies in coming years.  I`m tempted to head to Boston to the Greenbuild conference this year.  Lots of tangible applications are demonstrated there each year that show green technologies at work.torn8o8/14/2008 11:41 PM
  • torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
    ha - I`ll do that.  If there`s one thing I don`t have a problem with, it is coming up with written content.

    I was thinking something along the lines of Momentum Environmental or Momentum Sustainable Products.  I actually came up with a list of ten different names last night - some cool, some descriptive, some technical.  My last name happens to be the name of a relatively high-profile sustainable energy company.  It`s a fairly unique name, but just `cool` enough that there are companies out there actually using it.  It`s been a while since I`ve worked with trademarks, and so I`m not sure if my last name would be usable or not.
    Been doing a lot of research today.  There really has not been a lot of solid development in this area yet and it is truly in its infancy.  Europe is much further along than we are over here.  My local state is going to start requiring net metering this year, so utilities have to allow homeowners to generate their own power and work with the grid, if they choose.  If they are equipped with wind or solar (or both), their meters will be able to flow backwards during times of over-production.  In this case, the home`s excess energy output actually spills back onto the grid.
    There are a few companies in this area offering solar/wind/geothermal under distributorship agreements with some of the players.  These appear to be offering product with installation, as the installation process is a bit technical.  This makes me wonder about what shape I might want this to take.  If the goal of this company were to be primarily instructional or consultative, it would require some degree of training on my part.  And if it is focused on sales and marketing, it would almost require a partnership with qualified installers, or at least the hiring of such.  Is the market ready for something along this line?  I can`t honestly answer that.  I feel like a lot of due diligence would be required.
    At the same time, I may be overcomplicating this.  Maybe something as simple as a website geared toward green, that offers a few good products and information would get things rolling.  Let other more organized opportunities present themselves as time goes on.  It`s a little difficult visualizing a business structure for an industry that is currently fragmented and underdeveloped.
    torn8o8/15/2008 6:25 PM
  • torn8otorn8o subscriber Posts: 1
    Yes - I`ve been wanting to get into the world of e-books lately, and this sounds like a great opportunity to do it.  I`m feeling a new life plan coming together here!
    Currently I own a house in a dense urban core.  Think I`ll start by coming up with a few ways of greening this one up first.  Then find a place that might serve as a green home base, where I can install wind, solar heat and possibly geothermal.  If I find the right place, it could also serve as my home office to write my book and then be the model of efficiency.
    I have another even more creative idea too.  But this one I`m not ready to publicize quite yet ... must say that I`m pretty excited about it, though!
    Thanks for all the great feedback and encouragement.  I`m starting to believe that I know what I would like to do with the rest of my life - - -
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