Comment from Cathy: Hi Antoinette! Your chocolates look delicious! What’s your web site, and do you ship your chocolates?
Little: Hi, Cathy. Thanks for asking. My website is http://www.antoinettechocolatier.com.
Comment from Holly: Hi Jane, I just watched the Today Show piece on Antoinette. I was very inspired because I've been thinking about changing careers and starting my own chocolate business at home. Antoinette says in the piece that the health department would not let her do that...so any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!
Pauley: Holly, an important observation Antoinette made is that you should keep in mind if you’re serious about a ‘business’ that about 80% of owning Antoinette Chocolatier was not making chocolate.
Running a business is paperwork, customer service, designing boxes, taking orders, filling out government tax forms, etc. etc. In other words, making chocolate is 20%. Also I’m going to ask Antoinette to follow-up on this question, in particular the part about not being able to run her business from her own kitchen.
Little: Holly, you must check with your local Board of Health because every county or town has its own rules. I checked with the Board of Health and was given the strict rules, one of which was having a separate entrance from the outside directly into your kitchen. Make sure to check your town for licensing as well.
Comment from Ed: I am 54 and at a fork in the road, I have 20 years as a lawyer and feel it’s time to make a change, my wife is very supportive. I just can’t seem to make the leap. I guess fear is the major obstacle, fear of screwing up, failure etc.
Hannon: Ed, Change is scary. But it's important to have your wife on board. You need to go slow. No rash moves. It's tough after you have done something with success for so many years to start over in a new field. It's a psychological challenge. I advise people to take it slow. But do something proactive each day to start your path. Money is the biggest stumbling block to making a change. For most people, a career restart comes with a financial price tag, particularly if you don’t have the cushion of a partner’s income or a retirement or severance package. It might mean a sizable pay cut to pursue work in a more philanthropic field, the costs of a start-up if you're launching your own business, a hefty tuition bill for more schooling, or a temporary loss of medical and retirement
But the key is to get started on a path. Doing one thing each day.
Comment from Sam: Antoinette, do the many responsibilities of owning your own business ever keep you awake at night?
Little: Sam, Jane asked me to compare my wake at night factor now with the sleepless nights I had working at the law firm. I do think about the job and sometimes it keeps me awake, but it is creative thinking and not a worrying process. It’s a much more relaxed “wakefulness,” if that makes sense.
Comment from Paul: This question is for Kerry and Antoinette. What are some tips you would advise for a single person trying to make a reinvention like this without the help of a spouse’s income?
Hannon: Paul, It is harder to make a move without the back-up of a partner's income. But the other side of the coin is that you are nimble. And can make the moves you will need to make in order to make that turn. For most people, it means starting a lower salary at least initially. So I preach, financial fitness.
–Pay down debt. If possible, pay off outstanding high-interest credit card debts, college loans, and auto loans. Or at the very least take a good whack at right sizing. This can take some time, but starting a new endeavor with as clean a balance sheet as you can gives you a leg-up on success. One of my favorite lines: Debt is a dream killer. Repeat after me…
–Stash away savings. It’s smart to have a cushion of up to six months of living expenses in cash or cash equivalent funds set aside for transition costs, as well as unexpected emergencies. The key is to avoid dipping into your retirement savings--and paying penalties--later.
– Lower your housing costs. Depending on the real estate market where you live, it might make sense to move to a smaller home, or even relocate to a cheaper area.
–Refinance your mortgage. Moving is kind of drastic for most of us. With average rates hovering around 4.25 percent for a 30-year fixed loan and 3.62 percent for a 15-year fixed loan, refinancing is a great option, if you qualify. Figure out how much you can save over time with an online refinancing calculator. Check HSH.com or Bankrate.com for the latest rates and then shop around.
–Raise your credit score. Your eyes glaze over at the very sound of it. Mine do too. But that nebulous three- digit number, which generally ranges from 300 to 850, is one number you absolutely can’t ignore today. It impacts your entire financial life. Here’s why: If you need to borrow funds to start your own business, lenders use it to determine whether they should lend you money and what your interest rate will be. Landlords may use it when deciding whether to rent to you. And if you’re switching to a new company, many employers review it when deciding whether to hire you. A good score today is 760 and up.