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Learn from Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter, and me...

Turning Problems Into Opportunities

By Valerie Young

[This article originally appeared in the Changing Course Newsletter.]

"In the middle of difficulty," observed Albert Einstein, "lies opportunity." Some of the best opportunities often originate from problems -- either yours or someone else's. Like a lot of parents, Debra Cohen's problem was that after her first child was born she wanted to find a way to be a stay-at-home Mom.

Listen in as Deb answers frequently asked questions about owning and operating a Homeowner Referral Network:

Part 1:
Part 2:

Around that same time, Debra became aware of a real problem for most homeowners -- namely finding someone reputable to do home repairs or improvements. By putting these two problems together, she came up with the perfect solution for both her problem and that of her neighbors.

Since 1997 Debra has been owner of a highly successful company called Home Remedies of NY, Inc., an organized referral company that matches homeowners with skilled, pre-screened independent home-repair workers.

Home Remedies offers homeowners referrals to reputable home improvement contractors free of charge and the contractors represented in the network pay a commission to HRN for any work secured. If you've seen any of NBC's Dateline segments on unscrupulous home repair men (I would say home repair "people" but I've never seen a segment that featured a woman) then you can imagine what a relief it would be to homeowners to be able to easily find trustworthy and competent contractors.

In fact, a few years back I remember picking up a brochure at my local hardware store about a service that sounded a lot like this one. I only wish I'd looked into it before I hired the fly by night guy who replaced my roof last summer. What a NIGHTMARE!

I first learned about Debra when the Work from Home channel at iVillage.com featured her as their May "Mompreneur of the Month." I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Debra's business has become so successful that she has expanded to offer others the chance to launch a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) in their community. As someone who sees a LOT of work-from-home business opportunity scams, I felt instantly reassured when I read that to date, there are more than 200 Homeowner Referral Networks operating in the U.S., Canada and abroad and that HRN was Rated The #1 Business Opportunity for 1999 by Small Business Opportunities Magazine.

What's nice too, is that aspiring entrepreneurs can choose from a range of business start-up kits at different price points. The kits offer step-by-step procedures on how to start a network in your area including how to locate, screen and represent a comprehensive network of home improvement contractors, contractor commission structures, liability information, a complete direct mail and advertising campaign and more.

All kits include The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Successful Homeowner Referral Network and unlimited leads from the HRN website. Kits range in cost from $1,795 -- $3,590 with the higher priced kits including options ranging from business forms to individual phone consultations with Debra to a turnkey website.

This also seems like a good opportunity for someone who wants to start their own home repair/improvement business because HRN takes care of all of the marketing and you are instantly affiliated with a company that is known for referring only quality professionals. If you've had a good experience with a home repair person, HRN is actively seeking referrals from satisfied homeowners.

If you've been searching for a legitimate work from home business, and this one sounds appealing, I think it is well worth a look.

Ask the Expert

About Deb Cohen

Debra Cohen is President of Home Debra Cohen - owner of Home Remedies an a NY HRN home-based businessRemedies of NY™, Inc. -- a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) which has served more than 500 residents of Nassau County, New York. Ms. Cohen is also author of a business manual entitled The Complete Guide To Owning And Operating A Successful Homeowner Referral Network which is sold individually or as part of an HRN Business Package. To date, Ms. Cohen has assisted more than 400 other entrepreneurs launch successful HRN's all over the globe.

For more information about starting an HRN in your area, visit the HRN website by clicking here.

Note from Valerie: I used to have several stories up about people who decided to start their own home referral network businesses in their area and were so successful that they were able to quit their jobs in six months. But Deb asked me to take them down. Why? These new business owners were getting bombarded with phone calls from Changing Course visitors wanting to hear more about their stories. So, if you want to hear about real people turned their dream into reality, ask Deb. She'll be more than happy to share the good news!"

"To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything else be more fun?" ~ Katharine Graham

"Whenever we dream out loud, we're criticized for being foolish by people who really have no idea how special we are. As a result, we crush our dreams without giving them half a chance." ~ Barbara Sher Author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was

"The big break for me was deciding that this is my life." ~ Jon Stewart

"Your entire life has been getting you ready for this moment. Use everything you've got to create a future that is your dream." ~ Barbara Winter Author of Making a Living Without a Job

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

"When you love what you do you'll never have to work a day in your life." ~ Harvey McKay

"If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it." ~ Jonathan Winter

"Indecision is the thief of opportunity. You cannot change your destination overnight but you can change your direction overnight." ~ Jim Roan

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