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Mike Scanlin is a software engineer and stock trader. He’s been working at home since 2009 as the CEO of BornToSell.com (a web site for covered call investors).
1) How did you get started working from home?
Was tired of my day job. Wanted to be my own boss. Saved up some money so I could live for a year without income, quit my job, and started writing software and hiring freelancers to build BornToSell.com. Ended up taking 18 months instead of 12, but was profitable soon after launching in July 2010.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I had been a part-time stock and options trader for 20 years (while I had a different job during the day). Never had the perfect software tool that matched the style of trading I do (an investment strategy known as ‘covered calls’). My Excel spreadsheet was too cumbersome and didn’t import real-time stock quotes, earnings release dates, dividend dates, or anything else. Way too much manual data entry. Slow and painful. So I wrote a web-based app that does it all automatically.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
Spent a month in PowerPoint designing the user interface. Showed it to several active covered call investors (potential customers) to get their feedback. Once the UI was done (about 20 slides in PowerPoint) I started hiring low-cost programmers to implement various pieces of it. Found them on Upwork and paid about $10-15 per hour for most of them.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
After 18 months of development work we launched the web site. The first announcement was on an investment forum that attracted covered call investors. We had 30 signups the first day. It was awesome.
5) How do you market your business?
SEO, PPC, affiliate network, speak at investor conferences, write guest blogs for other investment sites, issue press releases, have a free email newsletter list.
6) What does your usual day look like?
My days are flexible. Now that we’ve been online for 7 years things are calmer. Most of my interaction with customers is via email. I spend a lot of time writing new blog content for our own blog as well as guest blog articles on other people’s blogs. But I’m passionate about the subject matter so it’s easy to write about it.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Software development always takes 1.5x or more times longer to develop than you think it will. Plan accordingly! The final 6 months before launch was stressful.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
If you’re not a self-starter then forget it. No one is going to ride you to make sure you get stuff done. You have to really want it, and work really hard at it. During the first 6 months, I was working 60 hours/week to make the dream happen. If you can, while you still have a day job, test the waters by working nights and weekends on your new home business. Sacrificing your free time to start the business is a good start to help you realize what owning your own business is like (lots of hard work and sacrifice).
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