A CPA could help Yonkman project her first year's cash flow and baseline salary, Mobley said. And a business lawyer (who'll probably charge between $500 and $1,500 for services) can aid Yonkman in drawing up contracts, incorporating and addressing potential legal problems that may arise in her new line of work, said Tom Morsch, director of the Small Business Opportunity Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law in Evanston, Ill.
* Consider formulating a product. Those who have succeeded in this field have invested substantial resources in their skin-care companies. After she's gotten her financial house in order, Yonkman would need to do the same if she's serious about marketing a successful line, experts say.
Previously, Yonkman had affixed her private label to already-formulated skin-care products. This approach is unlikely to generate much income, say field experts. Typically, only celebrities, well-known models, makeup artists and dermatologists can successfully lend their names to existing products and garner encouraging sales.
"This business is extremely competitive," said Adrien Arpel, who launched her own eponymous cosmetics and skin-care line 32 years ago. "You can't just slap a label on something, because the customer will read right through it. You have to sell something unique, something you believe in."
That's why Yonkman may want to look into formulating an original skin-care product, said Robin Coe-Hutshing, creative director of Santa Monica-based Fred Segal Essentials. Such an endeavor doesn't come cheap, though. Both Josie Kletter, co-founder of British Columbia-based Kinesys Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Lucy Larson, co-owner of Edina, Minn.-based SoySoft, estimate that launching their skin-care products cost more than $200,000.
To raise capital, Yonkman could team up with experienced partners, securing a celebrity endorsement and rallying investors. She'd need to hire a chemist (who would charge from $75 to $125 an hour) to professionally formulate her product. Then she'd have to test-market it, perhaps at trade shows, women's conferences and health expos. She should consider giving it a sophisticated, possibly French-sounding name to radiate prestige and mystique, suggested Elizabeth Goodgold, chief executive of San Diego-based Nuancing Group, which develops brand identities.
Raves from beauty editors, models, actors and other notables could lead to media attention for the product, said Douglas Toews, an executive vice president at Coty Inc., in New York. A quality infomercial campaign could trumpet the uniqueness of the product, while educating consumers and boosting sales, said infomercial mogul Victoria Jackson, CEO of Victoria Jackson Cosmetics Inc. and author of "Make Up Your Life," (Cliff Street Books, 2000).
"Whatever you do, choose something you love," said Liz Davidson, CEO of Financial Finesse in San Francisco. "If it's about the money, you're not going to succeed. You won't be creating something lasting, something that will make a difference."
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Time for a Change
* Name: Sharyn Yonkman
* Occupation: Accounting manager
* Desired occupation: Business owner
* Quote: "I've had a few false starts in self-employment, and I got discouraged. ... [But] I'd like the sense of freedom it would give me."
* Create a unified business plan.
* Make the transition into self-employment slowly and methodically.
* Pay down debts.
Meet the Coach
Thomas J. Leonard is founder of Coach University and the International Coach Federation. He also is author of six coaching-themed books, including "Working Wisdom," "The Portable Coach" and "Simply Brilliant.'