Thursday, June 30, 2011

How do you expect me to get health insurance?

A Resource for the Unemployed/Underemployed/Self-employed.

By Lay Hughes

Okay, friends! Acquiring health insurance, or shall I say my inability to acquire health insurance has been a huge obstacle since being let go of my last 9-to-5 job in 2010. Now that I am self-employed, I am finding that there aren't as many services/resources available to individuals whose income level is above the poverty line.

Well, with all due respect, I haven't quite hit the Forbes List yet! So, I can't imagine how the government (or anyone else) could expect that I would be able to afford standard monthly insurance premiums of over $300 to cover my personal health insurance costs. And strangely enough, even while I was receiving unemployment benefits, I was STILL deemed as ineligible for state-funded resources because my income was too high! [Pardon me as I chuckle about that...What an oxymoron]. Beyond this, exploring the option of adding coverage for my husband would be double the standard monthly premium noted above, and that is just outlandish!

Now, I must say that for many persons in my position, they do qualify for state-funded health coverage, primarily because they have dependent children. Subsequently, I certainly have to give the government credit for wanting to ensure that the children, the disabled and the elderly are provided with health coverage. My husband and I, however, do not have dependent children, we are not disabled and are nowhere near elderly! LOL! And with more and more couples choosing to start families much later in their relationships, this scenario of working adults without dependent children is becoming increasingly common.

My husband is an independent contractor. His company once offered benefits, but they terminated those benefits because of the rising costs. Now, everyone employed at his company is responsible for acquiring his or her own health care and other benefits. So, with neither one of us being connected to a company that offers benefits, we've been facing major obstacles with trying to maintain our health. Fortunately for us, we have not had any major medical issues to arise. But, needless to say, there is certainly a gap in the health care system for us folks whose income is above the poverty level and don't have dependent children. I anticipate that the new Health Care Reform Act may address some of this. But, in the meantime, we have to do something. So, I have continued to be proactive and vigilant about getting health insurance.

Many other people generally resolve to go without coverage because they simply cannot afford it. Well, for those of you in a similar situation such as mine, I am here to pass on some encouragement. So, don't fret! It has definitely taken me a long while, but I believe that I have finally identified substantial resources for those of us who are unemployed/underemployed/or self-employed and do not qualify for Medicaid, Medicare and other state-funded benefits. Check out these resources below:

a. Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program. The Bridge Plan is for individuals who find they can't afford health coverage but aren't eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, medical assistance programs or other health care coverage. Members pay a low monthly premium (starting at approximately $20/month) for up to three years of enrollment, as long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements. Kaiser Permanente covers between 90 and 95 percent of the cost for standard monthly premiums.
b. National Association for the Self-Employed. The NASE offers access to health insurance through Assurant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, UnitedHealthOne, Humana and others. These respected companies offer a variety of health plans, which can be customized to meet the special needs of micro-business owners. With several companies offering customizable health options, there's a plan for everyone. You must be a registered member in order to access these benefits. The annual membership fee is $72.
c. Foundation of Health Coverage Education. The FHCE offers four unique ways to help you find health coverage in your area, including an 800- number that uninsured persons can use to speak directly with a live counselor 24 hours a day/seven days a week.
d. Aflac. While major medical pays your doctors and hospitals, Aflac is a supplemental insurance that pays you directly any time you are hurt or sick. Aflac does not replace major medical and serves as a complement to your primary health coverage. However, you are able to obtain Aflac regardless of whether you have primary medical or not. Once you enroll, you get cash benefits to help with daily living activities any time you are sick or injured. The cash you receive can be used however you'd like such as for utilities, rent/mortgage, prescriptions, high deductibles, groceries, etc. Aflac is also a great way for small/micro-business owners to enhance their benefits packages. Aflac is no direct cost to the business owner because it is 100 percent employee paid. Plus, employers also get a tax break. (Read more via the postings on my Facebook fan page).

I hope the resources above are helpful to you in your search for health insurance. Here's to happy, healthy living!

About the Author

Mrs. LayƩida R. Hughes is an accomplished speaker, business leader, consultant and community activist. She has been featured on several local and national news broadcasts wherein she has shared her expertise and supplied commentary on pertinent social topics.
     Mrs. Hughes has served on many political forums and has spoken to groups as large as 4,000, advocating on a variety of issues. She has received many prestigious honors from a number of organizations as well as a host of network and social groups for her service to the community. She continues to be called on for her insight and unique abilities in providing services to under-privileged and disadvantaged individuals and families.
       As founder of the Progressive Spaces blog site-- and online resource center serving the unemployed/underemployed/self-employed-- Mrs. Hughes plans to continue her mission of working with persons who are overcoming challenges and intends to do so on a more massive scale.
      You can contact Mrs. Hughes by email at and by voicemail at 240.286.2235. Also, "like" the Progressive Spaces Facebook Page and follow them on Twitter.

[Photo Credit]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Motivational Mondays- 6.27.11

Motivational quotes to inspire you!

"Morning affirmation: I am in the right place, doing the right thing, achieving what I have envisioned and feeling fulfilled and complete."

- Michael Rawls

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rockstar Business: Sweet Justice

Rockstar Business is an interview series featuring businesses that rock!

LaKeitha Daniels, Owner of Sweet Justice

Mocha Writer: What is Sweet Justice?
LaKeitha: Sweet Justice is a "cakery" that specializes in traditional and gourmet cakes and cupcakes made of the freshest ingredients and in fun and exciting combinations. Our cupcakes are custom-ordered and baked in small batches to preserve our quality and improve your cupcake experience!

MW: When and why did you start your business?
LaKeitha: I started my business in October of 2009. I had been practicing law for six years, and until the summer of 2009, was working at what many consider to be a "golden" job as in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company. One day, after a year of layoffs (many executed by yours truly, unfortunately), my number came up. So, I took my severance package and went on a two week vacation to Spain. Maybe in my own private version of "Eat, Pray, Love," I came back with this renewed energy to get in the kitchen. So, I started cooking for free and taking it to friends. The response was so good [that] someone suggested I start baking as a business. And that's how Sweet Justice was born!
       From laywer to baker, do tell!

MW: Who do you cater to?
LaKeitha: I cater to anyone and everyone who loves a great tasting cupcake (or cake). We love doing custom designs for moms-to-be or brides and even kids' parties.

MW: How and when did you become interested in baking?
LaKeitha: When I was younger, my godmother used to bake with me all the time. I remember my first cake was a bunny rabbit covered in coconut for Easter! Also, my great aunt Dorothy is the cake lady (and matriarch) of our family. She sends pound cake to everyone for their birthdays every year, and she is 86! I grew up thinking, 'I want to be the cake lady one day!'
     So, growing up and in college, I would  bake when I was sad. Boyfriend made me sad, everyone had cookies. Got a bad grade, cupcakes all around. Eventually, as the years went by, I realized that when I baked (even out of sadness), it made other people HAPPY! So, I stopped baking only when I was sad and did it just to bring smiles to people's faces.

MW: What are your specialty items or flavors?
LaKeitha: Our signature flavor is Chocolate Covered Strawberry, which is a strawberry cake made with fresh strawberries and topped with Belgian White Chocolate. We also have your traditional red velvet, chocolate and vanilla, but our newest fun flavor is Peanut Butter & Jelly! It is awesome!

MW: What are some of your future goals?
LaKeitha: I'd like to open a brick-and-mortar where people can come and enjoy as little or as much of Sweet Justice as they would like! I also want to be a resource to other people who, like me, start out knowing absolutely NOTHING about starting a baking business. I'd also like to be the personal baker to the President of the United States (don't look like that! It's possible!).

MW: Who and what inspires you?
LaKeitha: People who strike out on their own and do what they love and become a huge success! I NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always thought I would "work for the man" and just draw a check every two weeks. But, I was always in awe of those who worked for themselves and made a real business out of doing what they loved. So, now that I have totally shifted gears, I look at all the people around me who are starting financial businesses, bakeries, catering companies and more, and I am literally in awe of the talent that my colleagues have. I'm also inspired by the ability of these folks to step out on faith and go after their dreams. And I'm right behind them!

MW: What do you love most about owning your own business?
LaKeitha: Waking up to do what I love every day. If I have to wake up at 4 A.M. to start a major order, or go to bed at 3 A.M. after a long day, I know that whatever I sent out the door is going to make a customer happy and that I'm the one who reaps the benefit for all my hard work. Oh, and most of all, I LOVE my flexibility. I control my own schedule and can make decisions on how hard and how long I want to work each day. Being your own boss definitely is sweet (no pun intended).

MW: What is your favorite inspirational quote or saying?
LaKeitha: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

MW: What tips/advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
LaKeitha: First, don't hesitate, and JUST DO IT! If you have a great, novel idea or just something you are passionate about, jump into it! I'm not saying quit your good, full-time, benefit-having 9-5 gig. But, start planting seeds that can take root and grow months or years down the line.
     Second, find yourself a good support system. Whether it's friends or family, you will always need people you can trust to bounce ideas off and to help you look at things from different perspectives.
     Lastly, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! Real talk, it is HARD to start a business with no money. If you know you want to start a business, save your pennies! Fortunately, when I started working years ago, I saved as much as I could out of each pay check, not knowing that one day, I would need to live on it while I started my business. Even if you didn't have the money saved up, figure out how to live on less now so that you can have more later. Cut down the cable, eat out less, streamline all excess spending. It is super hard (especially for a shopaholic like me), but when you see the fruits of your labor, it will all be worth it.

MW: How can people reach you?
                  Twitter: @MySweetJustice
                  Phone: (404) 362.7216
                  Fax: (404) 492.7153

Do you have a Rockstar business? You could be featured on Mocha Writes! Send me information about your business for consideration: jamiefleming [at] mochawriter [dot] com.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivational Mondays- 6.20.11

Motivational quotes to inspire you!

"If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done."

- Dale Carnegie

Thursday, June 16, 2011

THREE Easy Ways to Reinvent Your Business

June is Rebuild Your Life Month! Here are some fabulous tips on how to rebuild and reinvent your business:

By Ali Brown

When we think of the word "reinvention," most of us think of a BIG, flashy change. With hit TV shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, we're a society that LOVES the "big unveil." But, in business and in real life, the best results come from strategic and deliberate action.

Think about those great ideas you have, just sitting on the backburners of your mind. You want to makeover your brand, but you just can't afford to hire a designer right now. Or, maybe you know your fulfillment processes are a nightmare, but you're so swamped that you just need to get by for a little bit longer. You don't have to unearth your business in order to make these changes happen. If you choose one area to work on at a time, you'll eventually start to see a shiny new version of your business appear.

Let's take a look at THREE easy ways you can reinvent your business. They might not be high drama, but they'll likely get you dramatic results.

1. Change Your Target Market. If you cast a wide net when you first started your business, it might be time to focus on a specific niche. With the amount of information flying around on the Internet, Smart Phones, etc., your typical consumer doesn't have the time or mental bandwith to decide to like you or not like you-- unless you have something they specifically need. As a business owner, the best way to grab their attention is by meeting a specific, targeted demand.
        For example, a Virtual Assistant will probably have more success targeting work-from-home entrepreneurs and startups versus any and all businesses. And a copywriter who specializes in writing for Internet Marketers will probably be a top choice for a new blogger or online marketer.

2. Change your Model. Look at your product or service, and think creatively about some new ways you could offer your expertise in the market.
       If you're a coach or consultant and tired of doing one-on-ones, it could be time to start group coaching. Remember, this doesn't have to be dramatic. You could start with a group as small as three, and expand slowly and steadily. Once you get into a groove with doing small workshops, you could even take things a step further by developing a curriculum based on your live lectures and turning it into a packaged home-study program. All of a sudden, you're a coach/consultant with live workshops and products to offer.
       Don't underestimate how powerful this one little change can be for your business. You can substantially increase your income this way. A great example of a model shift: One of my Millionaire Protege Club's Diamond members, Ciara Daykin, took her wedding planning business up to the six-figure mark. Then, after incorporating coaching into her model, her revenues blasted up into the multiple six-figures. She just wrote me recently to share her business had surpassed the MILLION dollar mark! And this all happened in the span of three years in which she was in my programs.

3. Change your marketing. It may be time to change your message. Pick a bold angle, and go with it. Appeal to a new sense, and adapt your message to the current climate. Customers usually appreciate a change of pace from the norm now and then -- and if they don't, they're usually not shy about telling you what they think. And, you can use their feedback to keep honing your messaging until it's just right.
       Or, you can also change the vehicle you use to deliver your message. Many online marketers are so used to using the Internet to promote their businesses that they completely ignore effective print marketing campaigns. A published article in your local print newspaper, a postcard or brochure mailing or an ad in a regional glossy magazine still goes a long way when it comes to introducing your business to new leads.
       When it comes to online media, you have plenty of options to choose from. For instance, you could announce your new product in a video and send it to your list instead of sending your usual email blast. Or, offer a free MP3 download to incentivize people to buy your product instead of the usual coupon.

By far the BEST place to immerse yourself in new ideas for reinvention is at a live event with leading-edge expert presenters and hundreds of other successful business owners. If you're ready to experience your own reinvention, then join me at SHINE 2011 in Dallas, Texas (November 2-4!).

Millionaire entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD and articles at

[Photo Credit]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WAHMs WIN Twitter Party- 6.17

This Friday, from 8-9 P.M. EST, WAHMs WIN is hosting its second Twitter Party!

What is a Twitter party, you ask? Well, according to Twitter Party Guide, it's a fast and fun virtual party, using the twitter platform. They're usually held in the evenings, typically last one to two hours and are an awesome way for people to connect and discuss the topic of choice. Most Twitter parties have an expert panelist and party host to keep the party on topic.

Why should you attend WAHMs WIN Twitter Party? You have the opportunity to:
  • Meet new tweeters who are savvy in business, and build a quality community of new connections.
  • Win complimentary products and/or services.
  • Hear golden nuggests of wisdom, tips, tricks and tools to help you in your business.
To be a part of this Fabulous (and free) event, register here. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Can't wait to see you there! : - )

The purpose of WAHMs is to help Work-At-Home Moms intentionally network, not just online but also offline.

The goal is to bridge the digital divide in our local communities, throughout the globe, by bringing together our collective expertise for outreach to work-at-home moms who are in our local communities but lack access, skills and/or resources to successfully build a sustainable online presence for their businesses. For more information, please visit

Monday, June 13, 2011

Motivational Mondays- 6.13.11

Motivational quotes to inspire you!

"Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin."

- Robert Collier

Friday, June 10, 2011

4 Ways a Copywriter Can Benefit Your Business

Business is all about communication-- communication with your prospects and your clients and customers. It's very important that you stay on people's minds so you can ultimately make more profits.

Here are four ways a copywriter can benefit your business and help you communicate with your audience:

1. Enhance your online image. If you tell someone about your business, more than likely, the first thing they're going to check out is your website. Of course, you can write your own copy for your site, but will it be professional, efficient and free of spelling and grammar errors? A copywriter will make sure that your website's content is the absolute best it can be.
      Also, copywriters can help make your site sticky with articles or even a business blog. Constantly having fresh and relevant content for your clients and customers will keep them coming back for more. Think of it like this: If your business is the first one that comes to a customer's mind when she has a question, how likely do you think she is to use you when it's time to buy the kind of product or service you're selling?

2. Assist you in implementing ideas you've been putting off. If you're a solopreneur (i.e., wear all the hats in your business), you probably stay plenty busy with the day-to-day aspects of your business. That may mean that you have ideas that will increase your business, but you haven't had time to put them into place. And that's where a copywriter comes in. So, for instance, if you've been wanting to send out a monthly e-newsletter, publish weekly blog posts or create a Facebook fan page but haven't had the time (or desire) to do so, a copywriter can benefit you in this area.

3. Get your marketing materials out there-- constantly. Do you want to send a monthly newsletter to your customers or want to update your Facebook and Twitter pages but don't seem to have the time? A copywriter could be your solution so you don't have to worry about doing it yourself. Whatever your writing needs are-- e-newsletter, blog posts, social media maintenance-- a copywriter can handle it for you, which will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business.
      Also, as mentioned earlier, it's so important to stay on people's minds. In fact, it could take anywhere from seven to 28 times for a prospect to see your message before purchasing from you, and you'll have to wait until they need what you're selling. With that said, if your business is the first that pops into their minds when they're ready to purchase, the odds of you making the sale are higher.

4. Saves you time and money. In business, time = money. Say you've been meaning to have your website content updated but haven't found the time. Guess what? That could be costing you money. Each time you put off a task because you never get around to it, ask yourself this: "How much is not getting this done costing me in possible sales?"

Through my service, Mocha Writer, I provide fabulous and affordable copy and content for small businesses, nonprofits and individuals.

On my website,, you can learn more about the copywriting services provided, testimonials from satisfied clients, writing samples and more. If you have questions or want more information about copywriting services, please contact me at or (864) 202.9568.
[Photo Credit]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Motivational Mondays- 6.6.11

Motivational quotes to inspire you!

"Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life."
- Les Brown

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 2011 Goals!

Y'all, I seriously can't believe it's June already! Anyhoo, here are my goals for this month:
  • I successfully increase my income and earn the amount of money I want by 6.31.11!
  • I work hard to make Mocha Writer and For Colored Gurls the best they can be!
  • I get three sponsors this month on FCG!
  • I successfully increase the exposure of MW and FCG!
  • I have 1,300 likers on FCG's Facebook and 450 likers on MW's!
  • I increase the number of visits and page views on FCG; and I increase the number of suscribers on both newsletters!
  • I attract clients that allow me to earn the income I want this month!
  • I host one more BlogTalk Radio shows this month, and both are Fantastic!
  • I remain positive and at peace during any and all situations and circumstances!
  • I consistently live in a state of peace, happiness and GREAT expectation!
  • I am free from procrastination! I do what needs to be done when it needs to be done by staying focused on what I want to achieve!
  • I expect the best!

What are some of your goals for this month?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 Tips for Reinventing Your Life

June is Rebuild Your Life Month! And one way to rebuild your life is to reinvent yourself. There comes a time when we want to make changes for the better; however, we may not be exactly sure how to go about doing so. Well, no worries. Here are five tips to help:

  1. Determine what's not working. The first step to take when it comes to changing your life is to be aware of what's going on in it. So, create a list of the things that aren't working and the people/situations holding you back. Keep in mind that when you're doing this, you need to be completely honest with yourself. Additionally, devise a plan to eliminate those things.
  2. Make YOU your top priority. I know, as women, it can be difficult to do this, especially if you have a spouse and children. But, you have to learn how to put others to the side, and do what's best for you. If you don't take responsibility for you and your well being, who will?
  3. Dream big. Y'all know I'm a huge advocate of dreaming big; and, of course, it's something I do all the time. Whether your dream is to be a work-at-home mom or the owner of several boutiques, remember, if you can dream it, you can do it. Believe it!
  4. Learn to let go. Many times, it's more simple to get rid of a few small tasks instead of tackling one huge new task. Getting rid of a few tasks will make room for all the other things you've been wanting to do.
  5. Begin your evolution. In other words, do something! Whatever it is you want to do-- start a business, write a book or change careers-- start on it today!

What steps have you taken to reinvent yourself?

[Photo Credit, Source]
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