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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    31

    Starting out with nothing

    A couple of years back I was in a car accident and it messed up my back to the point that no one wants to hire me. My wife is currently the only one working and she will be going on maturnity leave soon. She doesn't make very much money and we have two kids already. Most times it's all we can do to make our car payment and we are currently living with our inlaws. Now with that said. Since I can't find a job around here I decided to try my hand at hosting. I'm not new to hosting I have been doing tech support, server administration and some design work for about 3 years now and I think I can hold my own. I have a few friends that have there own hosting companies and they have helped me out tremedously and so far this is what I have. I got a free reseller account. SSL cert, Domain Name, and a 50 user leased license of MB from one and another gave me a template to use for my site to help me get up and running a little faster. Now the problem I am having is that I don't have the finances to offer a lot of the services and frills that a lot of other hosts do and I was wondering if any of you can help me on how I would relay to potential customers that even though I don't have a lot of frills I still offer reliable hosting and I have great customer relation and support skills. Any advice is welcome cause I do plan on getting my own server and and hiring on more staff to help with support and things like that. but for now I need this to get clients going so I can hopefully have a good enough client base built up to help support my family.
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for the offer GCHosting but right now I can't even afford to pay myself
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    If you can do web design, perhaps you could offer your services to local businesses for an affordable rate. To put their new website on the internet they will need hosting, and that is where you come in and gain a client.

    All the best
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    812
    In many cases it's less the features that will get you the customers. It's more great customer service that makes the difference. My guess would be that most hosting customers never use all the features an account has to offer. I would say, if 50% of the features get used by Joe Average, then it is already a lot.
    Web Hosting Resource Kit - Web Hosting Reviews & Hosting Tutorials
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Jeremy Burge, that's a good call I have already started things like that but I run into a snag where I live because it's a very very very small town and there aren't that many businesses around adn the ones that are around think that slapping some colored tables and bright yellow text on a page is a good design.

    TheFish, I agree 100% agree and hope that potential clients will realize that I love hosting and don't mind answering the what's my database host questions at 3:00 in the morning. I would really appreciate it if maybe I could send some of you a link at my site for pre-launch and get some feed back from people who know.
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  6. #6
    I started my business up making roughly $200/month at some crap job I used to work. If I can do it, I'm sure you can do it.

    Regards,
    Dan
    Download my eBook + Videos: Starting your own successful web hosting company.
    Learn from a web host with 7 years of experience.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    You could also offer a free web design type thing with some of your packages. No other host seems to do this. I think it may attract clients
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    dbbrock1, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    CPQIS, I have already began making some templates that I will offer my customers free of charge with my biggest package. I also thought of running some specials where if you buy one package for 1 year you get the smallest package stacked on top of it... I'm not too sure about offering it with one year plans though because really in the long run I want more monthly plans than yearly but I could really use the start up money.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    243
    One thing-

    If this is your first time starting a hosting business, I suggest you stay away from yearly plans. Here's why:

    What if your unsuccessful and your business crumbles within 6 months? Your clients payed for a years service. If you don't make it, you would have some very angry clients. Plus, if your an honest host, you would have to refund some of their payment. If you have a few dozen clients, this can be a hassle.

    I don't think the upfront money is worth it, just my opinion.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Not sure if you have done these already, but I think this might help:

    1) See if your hosting friends need a support or admin and work for them instead. Since you are short in capital, you won't be able to expand/run this business if you have zero cash. Since you don't have market budget, it will be pretty hard to get new customers. Save some capital first and start your own business later.

    2)Like the other said already, if you have webdesign skills, offer web design service as well.
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  11. #11
    I am in the same boat you are in, bad back and unable to get hired by someone else. I think you can do this if you are patient.

    You said nothing about a business plan, if you don't have one, I would recommend doing one. Someone here posted a sample one, and I will pass it along, just PM me. Please forgive me for not crediting the proper source.

    Although capital does help, if you use sweat equity you can overcome that quite a bit. Networking is cheap advertising (church, you kids Bday parties, etc) Also, you can put advertisment on your car, it also works very well at low cost.

    Bon chance.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    CPQIS
    I think that's a good Idea, I may remove my yearly plans for now and go with 6 month's as my longest term.
    peacev
    I actually worked for the help they have givin me. Unfortuanately none of them have the budget for another tech atm.
    vantaticman7
    I have a business plan to an extent kinda floating around in my head. this is actually something I have been planning on doing for quite sometime and now for some reason just feels like the right time. I would like to see the example though I want make the best decisions because the greatest fear I have in doing this is letting customers down.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    West Michigan, USA
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    Originally posted by vantaticman7
    I am in the same boat you are in, bad back and unable to get hired by someone else.

    How is that even possible? I have Muscular Dystrophy and am in a wheelchair...and I have a work history. I chose to go into business for myself because I hated working for others, but never had a real problem getting hired anywhere. Especially if you're in the U.S. I would think the ADA would protect you from discrimination. Have you talked to an attorney??

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    London | UK
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    Work as a system admin, do web design jobs. And when you have enough money you can go into web hosting. It will take alot of effort on your side to pull it off. But it can be done.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    AffordableHost,
    I have talked to another attorney but it's a hard thing to prove. You are in a little different boat though. A lot of employers are afraid that I'm going to go to work and fake making my back worse and try to hold them responsible. I wouldn't cause that's not the way I am but enough ppl do and so I can understand the companies point of view.
    3en,
    Trust me if that was an option I'ld be all over it. I'm on my last leg now and I am pretty sure I'll make it because I have to. I'm not starting this because it sounds like fun. I'm doing it because I love to do it, I know I can do it, and my family is depending on me.
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    How would they even know you have a bad back, unless you tell them? Unless you're going after industrial-type jobs, which your physical limitations obviously make that a bad choice.

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    West Michigan, USA
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    Oh, and its not entirely a different boat. Employers see me coming and they think "Wow, how much is it going to cost us to make accomodations for her to do her job?" ...and silently hire someone else. Again, I can't prove they did that...but I know its happened. But, that doesn't mean its not impossible to get work.

    Frankly, if you have the attitude that "no one will hire me because of my back, therefore I am unemployed." You probably don't have what it takes to run your own business. Part of running a successful business is having excellent problem-solving skills. That is, you see an obstacle and you think of every possible way to get around it. I'm not saying YOU have that attitude...I'm saying that if you do, you need to get over it.

    --Tina
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)
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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    250
    This is your in, and your niche. One of my niche markets is small business hosting. We go in with some white papers that inform the customer why a bad web-site is worse than no web-site. We talk about SEO, (not the crazy promises you see on the net), professional design, reliable hosting. . . I have "leave behinds" that build value in our company, and generally lessen the value of there existing site. (Not critically, and not specifically).

    Doing this we hope (and generally do) build credibility in who we are as a company.

    Hopefully you are mobile, still have some professional threads, and reasonable good at presenting yourself and your company. If this is true, you can make it.

    It will NOT happen fast (and I think at all), building a web store front and hoping they will come. Internet generated business takes a while, and in my experience does not bring in the better paying, easier to satisfy customers. You do NOT need all the bells and whistles of the big guys. You need experience, service and credibility. Experience seems like you have. Service seems like you have. Credibilty is a potential customers call, you just have to supply enough information, in the right packet-sizes for them to get their.

    Good luck

    Bob


    Originally posted by ICMitchell
    Jeremy Burge, that's a good call I have already started things like that but I run into a snag where I live because it's a very very very small town and there aren't that many businesses around adn the ones that are around think that slapping some colored tables and bright yellow text on a page is a good design.
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Affordablehost,
    I was mistaken when I said we were in a different boat, I'm sorry. I have tried for the past two years to get work in all kinds of fields but with technical jobs I get left out because I am entirely self taught and with industrial work It is because I have restrictions on weight I can lift or carry and how long I can stand and sit. I would probably have better luck in a larger area where there are more jobs available but the job market is mighty slim where I live. They find out about my back because it is illegal for me to deny it if I am asked by a potential employer and could cause a lot of problems for me in the even of an accident and put me in a worse spot than I am now. I actually have a very upbeat attitude considering the amount of rejections I get and every interview I go to I get very positive feed back but, like with you, Every time I think I have a chance they hire someone else. I am very sure of my ability to run a business and know I can do a good job I'm just not real sure how to convince my target customer that but I will if I have to spend 12 hours on the phone explaining to there two year old what I can offer them that others can't. I will not be defeated and I don't think I have just because someone else doesn't want to hire me I just figure I am spinning my wheels waiting on someone else to give me a job so if they don't want to do it I'll do it myself.

    pickles,
    I don't expect things to happen fast and would actually prefer them not too I think that actually hinders a lot of companies rather than help them. I have seen a lot of hosts that start small and in less than a year have 5 servers and no one who knows how to run them or support the clients they have. The main goal of my company is not only to help my customers grow but to be flexible enough to grow with them. I actually even thought about only accepting x number of customers until I know for a fact that I will have the staff and the ability to handle more while still being able to ensure fast support response and a kind of personalized service. I also though about losing my predefined package and with each customer sitting down and finding out what exactly they want to do with there site and then custom build each package to there needs so they are not spending money on a huge package but only using a few of the features.

    Thanks again to everyone for your input. I do actually feel mutch better about not having the bells and whistles or being able to offer hordes of disk space for a dollar. I am still open to any ideas and comments as I am taking them all very seriousely and have spent a lot of time thinking about what every one has said and I am still set on doing this because even if I fail I will have at least tried but I don't expect to fail, as a matter of fact I won't accept failure. I am still refining my business plan as new things happen and I think I have a good foundation and know I have the drive and determination to do this.
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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    243
    ICMitchell -

    I think your very devoted to this and I think you will do very good with your attitude. I can tell that you do what you say your going to do, and I admire that. A lot of people give up, or slow down, but your right on top of things and your still going, for your family.

    I think with all the potential clients that read this post, you will end up hosting half of them. Clients need reliability and honesty, I think you've proven that you have these qualities and more.

    If I were your son, I would be glad to have a dad like you

    Best of luck to you and your family.
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  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    31
    CPQOS,
    Thanks I really appreciate your post. I hope that I do get a chance to prove myself and I guarentee I will give 100% all the time. I think this forum is awsome. I never imagined getting this kind of support and help from such a large amount of hosts. I think that it shows one thing and that's Proffesionalism. I for some reason I cannot offer the level of service my customers deserve I know that they will be in good hands if they come to any of you and if ever a need arises I know where to send them.... don't get any hopes up though I won't give up unless I know for a fact that it's the best thing for everyone involved... especially my customers.
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  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    .INdiana
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    2,451
    some federal computer assistant jobs are being advertised here:
    >> http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/advanced_search.asp

    search for series 0335

    some are open to the general public , others you need to be a veteran or prior civil service
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  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    31
    thanks CD Burnt I will check them out maybe my my stint in the military will pay off. Hopefully I will have time to devote to my customers if I get a job from there. If not I'll have a very tough decision ahead of me.
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  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lisbon - Portugal - Europ
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    268
    Good luck! Improve your skills. We never have enough knowledge. Build your webdesigner portfolio. And advertise in your local community.
    Lookup your IP: snoopmyip.com
    Proxy Guide: proxyspot.com
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  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
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    Thanks WebVilla. I am actually thinking of finding a free lance designer to send webdesign work to since I'm really not that great of a designer. I designed my own site http://www.imagicreations.net . I was going with a template but found that there was so much going on in the template that even when I would go to the site to check the layout I would close the page with out even looking at the text just focusing on all the graphics(not something I want potential customers to do.) If any of you know a good designer that would be interested in something like this please let me know.
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  26. #26
    Originally posted by AffordableHost
    How is that even possible? I have Muscular Dystrophy and am in a wheelchair...and I have a work history. I chose to go into business for myself because I hated working for others, but never had a real problem getting hired anywhere. Especially if you're in the U.S. I would think the ADA would protect you from discrimination. Have you talked to an attorney??

    --Tina
    California. Despite the intent of the ADA if you have a work injury, like I have, you are really **ahem** not well off. Workers Comp in California is so high that one work injury will toast you. Its illegal but its real.

    Its easier to get a job if your injury or disability is not work related. I have spent 7 of the last 15 years in lawsuits, so no, I have not talked to an attorney, I am a little burned out by the court process.

    I am thrilled you have been able to find work Tina. Employers avoid me like the plague although I have 18 years of management experience. I could avoid telling them, but my slow movement would give me away. Managerial jobs require me to be on my feet most of a 12 hour day, and I cannot do that anymore. I cannot return to my career field.
    "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" -- Ben Franklin
    Twice Tied Laces
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  27. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    West Michigan, USA
    Posts
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    I don't know of anyone that was ever asked to take a back X-ray for anything other than an industrial job. If that's the problem...look at a different field.
    ||| 99.999% Uptime SLA!!!
    Plenty of space and bandwidth to fit your needs!
    www.AEIandYou.com - - (WP Friendly - Premium Reseller Hosting and Cheap Dedicated Servers)
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  28. #28
    IMO, if you can manage servers, dont bother to go into webhosting as its too much trouble and hassle to earn that amount. Go into being system admins for companies, or your own server management company. Tends to bring in more revenue
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  29. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
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    Toonz I would actually like to do something like that some day. but as for working for somone esle around here since I haven't been to school I have no idea what I'm talking about and I figured since I actually enjoy hosting and love working with customers and helping them out with stuff then I should do it. I don't know why but it give me more of a sense of accomplishment to have one client say thank you I couldn't have done it with out you than it would to do anything else no matter how great.
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  30. #30
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
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    Originally posted by vantasticman7
    Although capital does help, if you use sweat equity you can overcome that quite a bit.
    Very good point. Sweat equity can often overcome almost all obstacles in your way.
    Bryan Jaskolka, CEO
    Nevidia Internet Solutions Ltd.
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  31. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
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    Originally posted by ICMitchell
    dbbrock1, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

    CPQIS, I have already began making some templates that I will offer my customers free of charge with my biggest package. I also thought of running some specials where if you buy one package for 1 year you get the smallest package stacked on top of it... I'm not too sure about offering it with one year plans though because really in the long run I want more monthly plans than yearly but I could really use the start up money.

    Having a good flow of monthly income/plans is important, but don't ignore/undervalue the lending power of the consumer .... and VISA!


    1) Yearly plans give you the ability to finance now on tomorrow's dollar, typically at a somewhat substantial interest rate (ie: you will discount your annual plans 10%? 20%? etc ...). However, this is somewhat negated by the fact that you have now "sold" this customer for a 12-month service.

    A lot of people will say this is "underhanded", but it really lies in the intentions if you ask me. If you intention is to "swindle" the customer and disappear in 3 months, then yes of course this is not an honest thing to do! But from the sounds of it, you aren't going to be that way and thus you can tap into this very valuable resource!

    Finally, to the true true skeptics, a pragmatic approach would be to set aside your "costs" on that sale in a seperate bank account, and then you can use 100% of the profits however you should desire. Meanwhile, you have set aside the funds to support that customer throughout the terms of your contractual obligation to them.


    2) You can start off with very very low-level advertising (using your profits/reinvesting any/all profits), and tweak until you are targetting your niche market. Once you can make more $$$ on your ads then you are spending (including actual costs for providing the service) then you are in good shape. At that point, you've got a winning formula and you can afford to borrow potentially on either a> a credit card ... or b> your customers (ie: 12 month plans, 6 months, etc ...) ... and know with confidence that the money you are using will be replaced by new revenues from that month.


    By offering both monthly + annual (or other pre-purchase type of plans) you can you can establish both a semi-substantial immediate income as well as a long-term recurring revenue source + customer base.

    Your thoughts of partnering with a developer is also a great one, as you can expand your turnkey-type solutions to your client base and potential customers.

    I think that you are on the right track. Look at your own needs, your own setup, costs, etc ... and then build a business plan that will work for YOU, and that YOU will LOVE. When you can do this, then you will truly be successful ... far more successful than ever working for anybody else.

    Whatever they might be paying you, they're still earning at LEAST that much from you, and most of the time quite a bit more ...

    ~ My 2 cents
    Bryan Jaskolka, CEO
    Nevidia Internet Solutions Ltd.
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  32. #32

    * Maybe we can help each other out

    I need some web design done and you need to have your own hosting ... I can host one our boxes for you so you would have your own s... I am in need of design work ....let me know if you want something like this and we can talk .... we are in the US on EST and have a full T-1 with some pretty decent servers ..... internetseer has info on us with sub 11ms access times and 100% uptime for the last 6 months.
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  33. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
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    Hey, I started my business with $500 and two customers just last year. I was on the self-employment program of social assistance in Canada, because I have never really been able to work. I figured I love computers, I'm online all the time and can contact customers that way, I might as well be doing SOMETHING.

    I am sick all the time with allergies and a weak immune system that catches pretty much every virus that comes around. I can't work outside of the home because I can't guarantee that I'll be able to show up... as well as which, if someone walks into the office and they have perfume, smoke or cat hair on their clothing, I start to lose my voice!

    In my own business, no matter how sick I am, I can roll out of bed, put a blanket around myself if necessary and sit at the computer and WORK. Even when my brain is fried with allergic brainfog I can answer control panel questions and ftp questions... and every customer but one is already expressing interest in renewing.

    This past year, I got one major design client and two portfolio-building clients, got a new computer for the first time in five years, and now have several new hosting customers as well. This year, I might even make some profit, and if I can get design work will be able to actually pay myself something or *gasp* actually buy advertising!

    All this, while being so sick I couldn't make it to very many networking events or even out to get groceries sometimes...

    It can be done if you're determined enough. So good luck!

    (And if you need to outsource design, please PM me and I'll send you some portfolio links.)
    DStar
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  34. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Hey everyone sorry it took me so long to respond to this post but my DSL has been down for a week. I actually have some good news about my venture. I met have a friend who wants to get into hosting and we share the same goals and basic business principles so we have kinda teamed up so now we have my know how and a little better budget to start things off. We are still looking to outsource design work so when I have a more stable connection I will definately be contacting some of you and maybe set up a meeting with my partner and see if we can work something out. I want to (yes once again) thank every one who has givin me advice, support and positive feedback. I'm very excited about going live and have all of you to thank. I hope that soon I will be able to stand among some of you that have posted with my head held high knowing that I have given my all and in return not only turned a profit but also earned the respect of my peers.
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  35. #35
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    Oct 2003
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    Be sure to post your URL here so we can see!
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  36. #36
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    Many hosting companies are looking for support staff. Perhaps earn a bit there then start your own hosting company.
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  37. #37

    Networking

    i don't know how its like working in the states. i presume you're from there... but don't give up no matter what, coz the harder and deeper you're in, the easier things will be for you {i know I might not make any sense now, but you'll see what I mean in a couple of years}...

    you might want to check this link. http://thewhir.com/webhostingjobs/jobs.cfm?categoryid=0

    apart from that, you might also want to check my business pageto seriously start networking. I would recommend this to everyone here as being there will help you gain an edge, both for your business as well as socially.

    Well hope goes well, all the best,
    Lord speed,

    AA
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  38. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Pasadena, CA
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    Originally posted by TheFish
    In many cases it's less the features that will get you the customers. It's more great customer service that makes the difference. My guess would be that most hosting customers never use all the features an account has to offer. I would say, if 50% of the features get used by Joe Average, then it is already a lot.
    TheFish is 100% right! It's not the features that sells most people, but the human factor: customer support, being friendly, and caring about your customers.

    Remember: if you don't take care of your customers, someone else will!
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  39. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Pasadena, CA
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    Another thing to remember about the money question:

    You don't have to put up the money out of _your_ pocket. It can be someone elses pocket. Go out and seek people who want to invest in your company.
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  40. #40
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Yuba City, CA
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    358
    I've read some of the postings here with interest and thought I'd add a couple of thoughts.

    I do not advertise for hosting on the Internet. I focus on local businesses and I also get referrals from a computer consultant in another state.

    If you focus on local business, you will find that your customers don't care about all the bells and whistles. They pretty much want their web site up and running and they want to be able to get email from people that visit their web site. They also want to see how many visitors they get. Aside from that, they really don't ask for anything else.

    With those requirements, I can sell hosting for $25 a month. While they might ask about how much space they get, most have not. And those who do, I tell them how much, and emphasize that it is probably 100 times more than they need and that if they need more, I'll add it at no charge.

    Most of my clients use less than 1 MB of space. Althought I have a couple that use between 200 and 400 MB. My highest paying client pays $65 a month for his service (the 400MB user), but he also uses SSL, PHP, MySQL, etc. Most clients only use static HTML pages and maybe a Perl or PHP based form.

    I'm sure if you focus on the local market you can charge a fair price that compensates you for your services. I have no interest in competing with the sub $5 offers on this forum, although the idea of getting signups online interests me a lot.

    On a seperate note... if your area doesn't offer many opportunities for either work or business, have you considered moving? I find it really interesting how people complain about the job market in their area but they refuse to relocate to where they will find more opportunity. No one is chained down to where they are. Yes, I admit it can be difficult to leave an area that you are accustomed to and where your family and friends are located, but no one ever said that opportunity would just drop in your lap. I admire those people from foreign countries who will leave EVERYTHING behind to go in search of opportunity in the USA, many times thousands of miles from home. But it seems many Americans can't move across the state in order to provide a better life for their family because its too 'hard'.

    David
      0 Not allowed!

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