THRIVING IN HARD TIMES SERIES: El Cajon Mom Finds Her Calling, Builds Recession-Proof Business Selling Phone Services From Home

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By Miriam Raftery

a few months after starting a home-based business in fall 2008, Karie Schmidt
of El Cajon has a team of entrepreneurs working for her. She is earning a comfortable
income, has flexible hours to spend with her family, and enjoys perks such
as free phone service and free travel--including a trip to a pre-Kentucky Derby
race in Lexington. Her success in an era when many large companies are struggling
amid a difficult economy makes her  accomplishments even more remarkable. 

"I committed to being a homemaker and a Mom," said Schmidt, who devoted herself
to being a full-time, stay at home mother for 15 years. With her son now a
teenager, she wanted to return to the work force and earn a part-time income,
but didn't want a traditional full-time office job. Then she discovered a "perfect
storm" of factors that enabled her to start a home-based business with Lightyear
Network Solutions, a telecommunications marketing company founded in 1993.

Lightyear was launching the first wholesale company specializing in wireless
phone service. "A cell phone used to be considered a luxury, but now it's a
necessity," observed Schmidt, who got in on the ground floor of the new venture.
The company sells cell-phone services provided by one of the nation's leading
wireless network providers, she added. Lightyear also offers representatives
the opportunity to earn free phone service and to sell other telecommunication
services, if people wish to expand their income opportunities. In addition,
representatives can earn credits towards other items, such as a Blackberry
or a smart phone.

Incomes vary widely depending on how many hours a person works, and what other
options are chosen. Some team members have earned a couple of thousand dollars
a month working part-time, Schmidt confirmed. "A Cuban immigrant who came over
on a raft is now making a ton of money," she said, adding that the man started
out selling voice-over protocol, a reloadable card for Internet phone service.
"The price of calls on the Internet is incredibly great."

People who want to join Schmidt's network of home-based entrepreneurs get
a free cell phone and have their monthly cell phone bills paid for through
their own home-based businesses--plus they receive income based on products
and services that they sell, as well as people they recruit to join the company.
The cost to join is under $100--minimal compared to most other home-based or
network marketing businesses.

Schmidt is able to write off a percentage of meals, travel, and other costs
associated with her home-based business. "It's a perfect fit," she says of
her new-found career. "I am able to use skills I love--meeting and talking to
people. I'm also building a residual income that Chuck, my husband, and I can
depend on for later--and I get to travel and have fun."

Recently, she traveled to Dallas to meet with other team members. She also
attended a conference in Louisville, where Lightyear's chief executive officer
rewarded team leaders with a special treat. "He took a bunch of us in a stretch
limo to a Kentucky Derby pre-event horse race," said Schmidt.

In today's hard times, Schmidt takes pride in helping each newcomer to her
team get his or her own home-based business out of the starting gate, off and

"This really is an economy-proof business," she concluded with a smile.

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