NASE News

Writing Self-Employment

Susie Redfern is the Owner of Milestones Magazine LLC located in Aurora Illinois. Milestones Magazine is both a publication and website dedicated to showcasing programs, products, and services that help people with challenges (any age/type/degree) achieve milestones in their lives.

When and why did you join the NASE?
I joined NASE when I started my home business in the early 1990s, shortly after our family’s move back to the Chicago area. At the time, NASE published a print version of its Self- Employed magazine, and I enjoyed reading the articles

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
Before starting my business, I became the director of a School and Day Care Information Service in New Orleans, where we lived at the time. I was inspired by this experience to enter the information/resource & referral field on my own after we left New Orleans in 1994.

When and why did you start your business?
Milestones Magazine came about earlier this year, as a re-invention of my existing information/resource & referral network and service. The birth of my son, now age 25, who is on the Autism Spectrum, gave me a first-hand look, from a parent’s perspective, of the issues and challenges for a child with disabilities. I decided to use my skill set for finding resources and providing information to use in the current business.

I self-publish an online magazine that showcases programs, products, and services that help people with challenges (any age/type/degree) achieve milestones in their lives. I also maintain a website, www.milestonesmagazine.net, that serves as a link to the magazine, and addresses two important issues: suitable child care for children with special needs and employment for adults with disabilities. I do this by maintaining a Child Care Registry and an At Your Service Registry on the website.

With the Child Care Registry database, families and childcare providers can find each other. Families and providers in the database can also access my library of articles (courtesy of North Carolina Extension Service) about adapting a childcare program to serve children with various challenges and diagnoses.

The “At Your Service” registry is designed to link families, community members and businesses seeking and/or offering home-based work (e.g. yard work, snow shoveling) with each other. The main focus is on families who have children with challenges. This initiative is one avenue through which individuals with challenges can find free-lance work with flexible hours on a temporary or permanent basis, to build up their skills and provide service to their community.

How do you market your business?
The website and newsletter are the primary marketing methods at this time. Social media, primarily Facebook, is also used. Milestones Magazine has a Facebook business page and a Facebook group. Milestones Magazine just joined “Special Needs & Disabilities Professionals Networking Group”, sponsored by Sterk Law Group, based in southwest suburban Chicago. And Milestones Magazine also attends (as a vendor) various disability resource fairs. Organizing and putting on events (both on-line and physical) is also on the radar for marketing purposes.

What challenges have you faced in your business?
The biggest challenge is getting clients and participants in the initiatives intended to be revenue streams. As a for-profit business, I need it to be paying its own way practically from the start. I haven’t yet overcome this challenge, but I do have advertisers in the magazine, article contributors, and lots of moral support.

Do you have any employees?
I do not have any employees currently. I have no current plans to add employees, though the Beginnings program, if it pans out, will hire at least one person to oversee the participants.

Can you tell us about your schedule and what a typical day is like for you?
My schedule is largely home-based work on the computer. I do marketing to get and keep advertisers in Milestones Magazine. I obtain or co-write articles for the magazine and provide content for the newsletters. And most importantly, I serve as a caregiver for my son, who aged out of school district services 3 years ago.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
The ability to shape the business to serve people with disabilities from a parent’s perspective. I have found that many of the enterprises out there have been created by parents to provide products, services, and/or employment for people with disabilities. Milestones Magazine falls into that mold. Also, the ability to work the business around my son and his needs is a great benefit.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
I would advise a start-up business owner to follow your passion and tailor your business to provide products, services, and solutions for your clients’ problems, not your own (though sometimes they are one and the same).

Which NASE member benefit is most important to you?
The Office Max Copying Perk, allowing me to make black/white copies at 2.5 cents per page, is the most valuable benefit. It allows me to give out literature at events at an affordable cost.

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