Do you like to cook, clean and bake?

Let me ask that question again. Hands up how many of you like to cook, clean and bake? I’m not being nosey, there’s a good reason I’m asking this question. After this discussion, it could very well do wonders for our lives (yes, I’m including myself in this equation too). So, do you like to cook, clean or bake? To be fair, I’ll start answering those questions too.

I forgot to ask whether any of you can, in fact, cook, clean or bake. But we’ll get to that in a moment. I have two confessions to share with you here. No, I cannot bake, nor have I ever tried. It’s ironic because I can read recipe books quite well (part of my job as I’ve said before). I have this old stove, it’s not broken, it just needs a guy’s tinkering hands to put the settings right for me. I’m no handyman and, this may shock some of you, I’m not the best of housekeepers either.

Yes, it is quite uncharacteristic of a woman like me not to tend to her household chores in a timeous and organized manner. But I do have an excuse. I won’t go into that here because then it would take us away from our mission. Our mission is to create new opportunities for ourselves where previously there seemed to be none. And anyway, when I do get down to it, I do get down on my hands and knees and apply the old elbow grease to get my housekeeping done.

Thankfully, I can cook rather well, although my culinary skills may never reach the giddy standards set by my mother and those celebrity chefs you see on the TV. I am quite sure though that if I really put my mind to it I could pull this cooking thing off. Let me tell you a little story before we go onto our mission of creating great self-employment opportunities for ourselves. There was a time when I was fresh out of high school and onto my first office job. I may have told you this before, I have always valued my independence and was making just enough to pay my own way.

So, I moved out of my mother’s house and into my first small apartment. But lo and behold, I had not taken much note of my mother’s instructions and demonstrations in her kitchen, and so found myself not being able to cook. I could barely open a can of beans that time. I began to grow a little desperate. My waistline started to bulge and I was growing a little tired of regular take-outs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Then I had a stroke of genius. I said to myself; if I can read well then surely it should not be much of a bother to read a recipe book. So off I went to the library and pulled out a couple of recipe books. Curries and pasta were always my favorite dishes, so I was going to focus on that. And before you knew it, girlfriends (no boyfriends at that time) were soon coming over to enjoy my own, original specialties. As I’ve always told the kids down at the community center; if I can do it then so can you.

If you are one of those girls who cannot cook then it’s high time that you give it a try. But this is a mission and is aimed at those of you who are already deft hands in the kitchen and around the house. Now, whether you are currently stuck in a dead-end job, working long hours and low wages, or unemployed, a housewife or not, you could have it all if you started up your own home-based business. And why not start with something that you know well and can do well too? For starters, your overheads are going to be low.

You will be working from home and won’t be paying high rentals for business premises. Then there’s the matter of the IRS. You can deduct a portion of your regular household expenses and rental (or mortgage) as a tax-deductible working expense. Just before the holidays you could be eligible for a refund. But that comes much later. First you have to make a start.

All successful start-ups start small with low overheads. You may have a passion for baking cakes, cupcakes and muffins. So why not beat the delis and take-out joints at their own game? Home-made goodies taste a lot better than the commercially-made cookies and donuts anyway. Begin by baking a tray of your family favorites, pack a bin and go door to door, selling to your neighbors at a competitive rate. If you are a mother of growing kids, this would also be a great way to contribute towards their college fund.

Get them to help out with deliveries and pay them fairly. There’s a limit to what children should be spending anyway. So, as your small home business grows, and with that your confidence and bookkeeping expertise, you could graduate towards something a little more ambitious. Start experimenting with your favorite home-cooked meals. Delis are always on the look-out for new ideas and recipe brands which may become a hit with their loyal clientele.

Once you’ve mastered the art of small-scale selling (and your cooking, of course) you could be paying these delis a call. Small business development includes many rejections in its early days, so don’t be discouraged when no early interest is shown in your wares. Persistence and patience pays. So keep at it. What about sewing, ladies? Anyone thought about that?

I have a long-time friend who has a good sewing machine stored away in her cupboard somewhere, collecting dust. If I remember correctly, her boyfriend bought this machine for her birthday with the caveat that she could start something special with her untested passion for making kids’ clothes. Today, she’s still sitting at home wondering why she struggles so much trying to make ends meet.


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