It may surprise you to know that none of my long-time friends are what I (or they) would consider entrepreneurs. Several are solo practitioners – therapists, coaches, massage therapists and the like. But getting paid “dollars for hours” as they say is very different from turning your creativity into a steady flow of income-generating possibilities.
Last weekend I hosted a small dinner party. Over drinks I mentioned that International Living magazine asked me to speak this fall in Panama at a conference for people who want to live and work overseas. Just as we were sitting down for dinner, my dog Cokie reminded me it was time for his supper too. As I mixed up a concoction of chicken, sweet potato, and dry food I reminisced about this delightful woman I’d just met in Paris who makes her living as a professional dog chef. My guests were especially fascinated to learn that she and her husband run a dog diner in the Arizona desert and that one of her biggest income streams is from speaking engagements (you’ll be hearing more about her soon.)
After dessert I pulled out a fresh tube of Chicken Poop Lip Junk to sooth my chronically dry lips. You can’t very well pull out Chicken Poop without telling the story of how product creator Jamie Tabor Schmidt (and recent Fast Track Teleclass guest speaker) of ILoveChickenPoop.com managed to get her product into a huge national chain like Walgreen’s.
It was at that point that my friend Joanne put her fork down, pushed back her chair, and exclaimed, “Wow, you live in this total other world, don’t you?” I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well, you just got back from reviewing a photography course in Paris. You’re speaking in Panama. You meet these fascinating people that no one else ever seems to meet. It’s like you exist on a planet all your own.”
As I looked around the table at my guests – a district court judge, the training director at a university, a clinical social worker, and a college professor – I realized that I may not live on a different planet, but in a lot of ways I do inhabit a very different world. It’s a place I’ve come to think of as the World of Possibilities.
Life in the Real World
Sadly, most people operate in a world they proudly refer to as the Real World. You can always tell when you’ve met someone who has never lived in – never mind entertained – the World of Possibilities. All you have to do is start talking about your life-long love of anything lavender and how you’ve been thinking of how you would absolutely love to move to the country and start a lavender farm, or create a sense of community among the hundreds of existing lavender farm owners, or run trips to the heart of the lavender industry in Provence, France.
The first thing you’ll notice is that they look at you like, well, like you’re from another planet. Next they are quick to recite with great certainty all of the reasons why your ideas are completely unrealistic. After all, having never started a business and knowing absolutely nothing about lavender farms, being from the Real World they are, nonetheless, authorities on what is and isn’t possible. And to underscore your other world status they will flatly tell you that you just aren’t operating in the Real World, which is actually a very lucky thing. Because when you dwell in the World of Possibilities you know these things are doable for one simple reason – people are doing them!
Take Me to Your Leader… Hurry!
There is of course, no “leader” of the World of Possibilities but fortunately we have very wise friend who is all too eager to disperse accurate information whenever we ask. It’s called the Internet. It took just a few key strokes to learn, for example, that there are literally hundreds of viable farms and lavender related businesses all over the world – many in the U.S. and Canada.
I also learned that the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (NSAIS) has TONS of information in both English and Spanish including a list of government grants to help small farmers.
Want to join the American or Canadian Lavender Growers Association? I bet a lot of other people would too. The problem is that while you can join the Australian Lavender Industry Association for $125 a year ($155 international) or the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association, there is no North American counterpart. Think about it… if 200 lavender farm owners pay just $35 in monthly member fees that’s $7,000 a MONTH in revenue.
Figure It Out
But how can I start a member program for lavender business owners if I’m not in the lavender business? The answer comes down to three little words: Figure it out. How? Go to the source. Ask people in the lavender business what they need. Do they need help marketing? Making operations more efficient? Finding seasonal workers? Breaking into new markets? Understanding new and existing government regulations? Creating joint ventures like advertising campaigns or events with other growers? Learning about new state or provincial programs to support agri-tourism?
Once you understand your market’s needs, your job is to find authors, successful farmers, agricultural marketing experts, botanists, organic food store owners and others who you can interview or who you can get to write articles. Or do Teleclasses, set up regional or national conferences, and generally seek out other resources that your members want. Like I always say, you may not know everything there is to know about a subject but you’re always smart enough to figure out who does! And if you get stuck for help… do what Possibility People do and ask for help from experts and others who are living happily (and profitably) in the World of Possibilities.
And what about the dream of running lavender tours to France? Despite the fact that the NSAIS site says “successful lavender producers typically invest considerable time (at least a year) just doing research, traveling to conferences, and talking with established farmers before setting up operations” and that “(m)any travel to France to view first-hand the lavender industry in Provence,” my internet search did not yield a single person running lavender farm tours to France. If you dwell in the World of Possibilities, then that sound you’re hearing is opportunity knocking!*
Join the Club
I know a lot of you reading this article have a foot in both worlds. A big part of you knows in your heart that it really is possible to open an artist’s retreat or design your own skin care line or find some way get paid to research holistic healing techniques. But the gravitational pull to “be realistic” keeps pulling you back to the Real World.
Hip-hop artist and actor Will Smith once remarked that, “(b)eing realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” When I started this business in 1995, I could never have imagined speaking in Panama or reviewing photo courses in Paris or starting a membership site or forming work and personal relationships with people like Barbara Sher or Barbara Winter or running my own certification training program or meeting people who run the most fascinating businesses… And yet here I am doing all of that and more.
Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” The vacancy sign is always out in the World of Possibilities. Whenever you find yourself thinking that your dream is not possible, find someone who is successfully doing the thing you want to do and follow them. I guarantee that this road will lead you to a lifetime of satisfaction, well-being, and even greater possibilities than you could ever imagine.
* For more information on how anyone can start a member program, listen to the interview I did with two top membership program experts on “How to Generate a Steady Stream of Income With a Membership Program” now available at ChangingCourse.com/asktheexpert.htm#member