CHANGING COURSE BEGINS WITH A GREAT IDEA

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Special Invite from the Barefoot Executive

I’m really excited to share this special video invitation from Carrie Wilkerson with you.

I’ve known Carrie for several years now… in fact, I was a guest expert on her very first Telesummit! Since then my respect for her and her work only continues to grow.

If you don’t know Carrie, AKA the Barefoot executive – she’s the busy work-from-home mom who exploded her business in a few short years by creating a loyal and enormous – and I do mean ENORMOUS – following.

And, now, so you can learn how to do the same she’s offering a free Teleseminar this Thursday (March 3rd) called “Fill Your Stadium.”

This is the first time Carrie has ever revealed these secrets.

Carrie is from Texas, so she does everything B-I-G – like ordering completely separate conference lines to pack as many people in on the call as possible.

But unless you register right away, I can’t promise you’ll get in – so mark your calendars and go right now to reserve your spot:

http://www.changingcourse.com/recommends/fillyourstadium

During this call, Carrie’s going to reveal…

* The secrets Justin Bieber, Disney and even the NFL use to “fill their stadiums”… and how you can use them starting right away! (And it won’t cost you anything!)

* Why you need to fill your “stadium” and start building a base of raving fans all looking to you – even BEFORE you have a product, package or service defined!

* How to overcome the excuses holding your business back today and instead focus like a laser on discovering exactly what you need to do to reach success!

* The #1 thing you need absolute clarity on before you can start “filling your stadium.”

* What you MUST understand about your fans in order to truly reach them at a deep, emotional level – creating a solid bond built on credibility and trust so they buy more and refer their friends to you.

* Why going for the fast sale with new fans can actually cost you money… easy proven ways to “romance” your customers into loving you long term.

And a whole lot more!

This is the first time Carrie has ever revealed these secrets. She tells me she ordered extra conference lines to pack as many in as possible. But unless you register right away, I can’t promise you’ll get in – so mark your calendars and go right now to reserve your spot:

http://www.changingcourse.com/recommends/fillyourstadium

Like I said, Carrie is the real deal.

If you want to get your message out to the world – and make money doing it – you don’t want to miss this!


The Power of Serendipity in Making Dreams Come True

You always hear how one thing leads to another. Sadly, though, too few people who say they want to be their own boss pay attention to serendipitous connections which means they miss the opportunities right in front of them.

Barbara Perman of Moving Mentor, in Amherst, Massachusetts met her current business partner after being introduced at her hair salon.

My brother bought a small seasonal business that generates up to $3,000 every weekend because he overheard a conversation while at one of my niece’s basketball games.

In my own life, there have been countless times when a single connection or occurrence has taken me into an entirely new and wonderful direction I would have never gone otherwise.

For example, it was only by chance that in 1995 I saw an ad for a series of cassette tapes on how to start a newsletter. The only reason I saw that was because a friend left a magazine in my car.

I wrote a check $150 – a lot of money to me then – and popped it into the mail and 16 years later, the Changing Course Newsletter is still going strong.

Then, a year and a half ago, I spent three days in New York City as a guest of Carrie Wilkerson, AKA the Barefoot Executive. In another serendipitous turn of events, Carrie learned about me from hearing me make comments on a recording she purchased of one of Ali Brown’s seminars.

That’s when I met Suzanne Evans (whom you’ll meet in today’s Featured Workshop). Suffice it to say Suzanne is brilliant at showing people — primarily in the coaching, helping, and healing fields — how to quantum leap their businesses and help more people at the same time.

And once again, thanks to Carrie, on that same NYC trip, I had the chance to interview social media legend Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you don’t know Gary – check him out online. Better yet, grab a copy of his book Crush It: Now Why Is the Best Time to Cash In on Your Passion which is all about how you can attract advertisers through blogging.

Because of that initial connect, I put myself in a position to spend an hour picking Gary’s brilliant mind over coffee. Considering the guy routinely gets $50k a day to consult to major corporations, I felt pretty lucky.

But was it just “luck?” Or was it knowing how to follow serendipity to see where it takes you?

Too Many Messages to Ignore

So imagine if everyone you know who went somewhere came back and not only positively raved about the place — but either moved there or kept going back again and again?

Would you want to go to that place? The reason I’m asking is because that’s exactly what happened to me. In the course of four years I’ve crossed paths with five individuals who ALL told me the same thing…

Ecuador is the most beautiful place they’ve ever been.

The first time I heard it was from a couple named Gary and Mary Scott.

The three of us were guest speakers at a 3-day seminar in San Antonio put on by American Writers and Artists Institute on how to make 6-figures combining travel writing, travel photography, and import-export.

The Scott’s were there specifically to talk about the about opportunities to import and sell products from Ecuador — everything from leather, silver, fine woven products, even long-stemmed roses.

The San Antonio seminar is also where I met Bonnie Keough who, as it turns out, was at the time living not more than 10 miles from me in Massachusetts!

There’s more to Bonnie’s Ecuador story… but the short version is that following that workshop she, too, went to Ecuador. Bonnie fell so in love with its beauty that she began bringing other American’s there on tours.

Bonnie’s own love affair with Ecuador began when she went there for a follow up import-export workshop led by the Scott’s. More than just a classroom experience, participants were brought to different villages where they received help negotiating contracts with local vendors.

The reason the Scott’s are so knowledgeable is that Ecuador is their retirement home for 6 months of the year.

Most ex-pats who are living in Ecuador — of which there are many — purchase a house, hire a housekeeper and a gardener and spend their days writing or painting or visiting neighbors. Amazingly, you can buy a gorgeous condo or house from $45k-$90k.

The Scott’s fell so madly in love with the country and its people that they bought a charming, renovated 180-year-old colonial hotel in Cotacachi. Land of the Sun Inn as it’s called is now officially a non-profit enterprise.

The hotel is part of a two-person campaign the Scott’s went on to help match craftspeople in Ecuador with aspiring entrepreneurs from the US, Canada, and Europe who are interested in essentially getting paid to shop.

Any guesses what Bonnie’s doing now?

Because she attended the AWAI seminar… and because she met the Scott’s there… and because she pursued her passion for South America and for import-export… Bonnie and her husband sold their house in Massachusetts and she’s now running all of the Scott’s import-export workshops in Ecuador!

Alison Talbert (right), posing in the courtyard
of Land of the Sun Inn in Cotacachi

That’s where Alison Talbert comes in. Shorty after I spoke at the AWAI seminar I had a private brainstorming session with Alison. During our session, this former travel agent turned full-time mom spoke about her love of travel and long-time interest in exploring import-export.

At my urging, Alison signed up to attend that same import-export workshop as Bonnie — and a few weeks later she boarded a plane by herself for Quito and then on to Cotacachi.

Did Alison like Ecuador?

No. She LOVED it! So much so that since that first trip, she’s been back a grand total of 10 times! By herself… with her husband and 2 kids (“Best family vacation we ever had!”)… with a friend.

Okay so fast forward to last summer. Alison “happened” to see a blurb for one of the weekend retreats here in Massachusetts. With just three days notice, Alison once again hopped on a plane.

Mind you I hadn’t heard from Alison since our initial consultation. Then here she is sitting in my living room — person #4 to sing the praises of Ecuador.

“Work at What You Love” is also where Alison hatched an idea for how she could profit from her passion… I’ll let her tell you herself.

Personally Alison had me at $25 massages. 🙂

I knew from hosting the hugely successful “Making Dreams Happen” seminar in the Colorado Rockies with Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter that there really IS something about getting to a higher elevation that enables you to see your dreams more clearly…

That’s when I decided someone was trying to tell me something!

So with Alison’s and Bonnie’s help, I’m running my first international “Work at What You Love” retreat in the Andes. The workshop itself runs from April 26– May 1st. It’s going to be one-part workshop and one-part exploration.

Of course you always want to check with a tax advisor, but because this seminar is designed to help you hone in on and then grow a small business, the trip should count as a fully tax deductable business expense.

In terms of my own business, when you see the price you’ll see this not a big profit center for me. But I decided since I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever do another retreat there or anywhere… that it was more important to heed this calling to go to the Andes than anything.

Once you have a business idea, planning is important. But don’t dismiss the powerful role serendipity plays in realizing a dream.

Whether you can join us in Ecuador or not, I encourage you to pay attention to the small occurrences and connections happening in your life right now. More often than not, they are leading you on a path to the life you always wanted.

P.S. The upcoming “Work at What You Love” Ecuador adventure workshop is a unique opportunity for you to step out of your life and benefit from having a bigger view — and like Mary and Gary, Bonnie, and Alison to finally re-invent your life!

For more photos of Ecuador, a full itinerary, and to learn about the Bring a Friend offer go to RelaxRenewReinvent.com. FYI, the Early Bird $1,000 Savings ends March 9th.

As you can imagine, since announcing the Ecuador retreat trip a few weeks ago I’ve been flooded with questions.

Click here for a list of travel tips.

Then tomorrow night — Tuesday, February 22nd at 8:00pm Eastern — Alison Talbert will host a call to answer all of your travel and other questions about Ecuador.

To register for the Q & A call with Alison here: http://www.RelaxRenewReinvent.com/got-questions


What are your earning and learning plans for March?

Let me know what your plans are!


Join Our Next Work at What You Love: Profiting from Your Passions® Retreat, April 26-May 2 – in Ecuador!

We’re holding our next  Work at What You Love: Profiting from Your Passions® Retreat in Ecuador.

We’ll visit the Equator, hike to a sacred waterfall in the Andes, and participate in a shamanic purification ceremony…

We’ll go shopping for beautiful indigenous handicrafts, tour Quito – Ecuador’s beautiful capital, explore a lake in the crater of a volcano by boat, and take advantage of cheap massages, delicious meals, and luxury accommodation…

…all while learning powerful secrets to design a dream lifestyle paid for by doing work that you love – without a job, boss, or commute!

This is a fantastic opportunity to step out of your routine, and into your wildest dreams – from the clarity and perspective of the Andes Mountains.

You’ll come home recharged and excited about your life. Even better, you’ll have a realistic action plan and all the tools and support you need to get started living a new page in your life that’s both profitable and fulfilling!

What does it cost?

YOU CAN ACTUALLY ATTEND THIS RETREAT FOR HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS LESS THAN IT WOULD COST YOU TO ATTEND A WORK AT WHAT YOU LOVE RETREAT IN THE UNITED STATES!

But you’ll need to act fast!

Read more about our Work at What You Love: Profiting from Your Passions® Ecuador Retreat here: www.RelaxRenewReinvent.com

AND if you are among the first 3 people to register, I will personally write you a check for $100.

You can use it any way you like…

Get 5 relaxing massages while you’re in Ecuador (yes you really can get a massage for $20!)…

Shop for fabulous South American leather goods…

Put it toward your flight…

How you use the money I’ll pay you doesn’t matter.

What does matter is this offer is limited to the first 3 people.

What are you waiting for? Learn more here: www.RelaxRenewReinvent.com


Have a Great Idea for a Business? Test the Waters Before Diving In

Now and then I meet someone (usually a young person) who tells me they really like helping with people, so they’re thinking about going into Human Resources or HR as it’s commonly referred to.

They imagine themselves sitting in their large private office eagerly awaiting a long line of interesting employees with interesting problems in need of interesting solutions.

Ask people already in HR though and they’ll paint a very different picture.

Instead of spending time helping people, they end up dealing with things like hiring, terminations, benefits, pensions, payroll, and grievances.

A lot of jobs seem different from the outside.

Think about your current career or job. Now that you’re there, is it what you thought it was going to be? Probably not.

Fantasy vs. Reality

Entrepreneurs are not immune to this “leap before you look” syndrome.

Every business has its more mundane parts, especially in the beginning when you’re bootstrapping your business as a “solo-preneur.”

But still, the goal is to love more of the work than not. So, before you leap, you need to check out just how wide the expanse is between fantasy and reality.

How do you test out a business idea?

Well, if you want to run a bed and breakfast (and for people who are natural hosts, there are lots of wonderful aspects of running a B & B) the best way to get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking is to become a B & B sitter.

Just like it sounds, sitters take over the day-to-day operations of established inns so the owners can go on vacation or otherwise get away.

Companies like Deserve a Break actually match B & B owners in Australia and New Zealand with experienced relief workers. Similarly, in the UK, farmers can turn to a decades old company called Loring, King and Loring for relief and contract milking and agricultural staff.

Another option is to go to “school.”

Sticking with our B & B example, you don’t need to earn a four year degree in hotel and restaurant management to learn how to run an inn.

Many B & B’s offer weekend workshops for aspiring inn-keepers and some owners do individual consulting.

If there are no classes in your area, contact a local B & B and ask if they’d let you intern with them in exchange for some free staffing time once you’re trained.


Virtual “Work at What You Love” Weekend Workshop

Post your comments here!


 If You Must Have a J-O-B, Go for One That Makes a Difference

By Valerie Young

Let’s face it, unless you’re independently wealthy, you can’t just up and quit your day job and be running your own profitable small business immediately. That’s why I love Suzanne Evan’s suggestion that you think of your …


Surprising Year-End Tax Deductions for Dreamers

By Valerie Young
As 2010 comes to a rapid close, I suppose I should be writing an inspirational message about the New Year.

How about a little practical inspiration that can help your wallet?

Every January 1, I set aside time to reflect on my 2011 goals.

But the last week in December is when I make sure I’m taking advantage of every benefit of being self-employed I possibly can.

Benefits you may not be aware are available to you, too.

You see, in the wise words of my friend and Making a Living Without a Job author of Barbara Winter:

“The American tax system is set up to benefit the very wealthy and the self-employed.”

That may not surprise you, especially if you already have a business.

However if you haven’t started your business – no make that ESPECIALLY if you haven’t started a business – there are some important tax facts that may surprise you.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #1: You have to have already started making money to take a deduction

This first one always comes as a surprise to people who haven’t yet launched a business…

Even if you don’t earn a dime until next year – or even the next 3 years — you can still write off legitimate business expenses you had in 2010.

It’s true.

As far as the United States Internal Revenue Service is concerned, as long as you are making what they call a “good faith effort” to earn a profit in the future – you can begin deducting any money you invest in building your business right away.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #2: Home or Away – as Long as You’re Working it’s Deductible

You probably already know about deductions for things like office supplies, books, and magazine subscriptions.

However, when your investment is intended to generate a profit, you may be able to deduct other things.

If you work from home, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage and utilities. Even certain home repair expenses – like a portion of the cost of the new roof I put on or, in some cases, things like landscaping or snow plowing.

It gets even better.

If you take a 7 day vacation to the Caribbean or Florida or London and while you’re there you spend a day calling on local businesses or perhaps scouting out future seminar locales, your expenses for that day should be deductible.

For the last few summers my company (that would be me!) sends me to a lake in New Hampshire for a week to write. I deduct the mileage to and from the lake and groceries to keep me happily full as I work on my laptop from the deck.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #3: Learning is tax deductible!

You may not yet know “how” to make money doing your own thing…

But did you know that your investment in LEARNING how qualifies as a legitimate business expense?

After all, what could be more proof of your intention to succeed then investing in education and training designed to launch you into your own profitable business.

Live Training and Events

If you pay for a live class or a conference in 2010 that isn’t happening until 2011 you can still deduct it now. For instance, if you want to start a business around your love for cooking, or dogs, or clowning check out:

Basic Business Skills

Maybe you already work for yourself but need to improve some more general business skills. You can deduct tuition fees for courses on:

  • Presentation skills: Communispond offers a great course that I took and later taught back when I was in corporate training days.
  • Sales training: My friend Carolyn Herfurth runs a sales bootcamp for people who hate to “sell” (next one starts next week but if you sign up today – it’s deductible this year)
  • Writing your own web site marketing copy There’s not a date set yet but you can sign up for notices about when Matthew Goldfarb is doing his weekend class again

Business Building Training

You can also deduct the full cost of any learn-from-home programs designed to help you start a business. Some of my favorites are:

Profiting From Your Passions®

Okay this part is blatant self-promotion, but just as an example, because the Profiting from Your Passion® Career Coach Training Program is a business launch program, it also qualifies as a tax deductible expense.

If the idea of getting paid to brainstorm interests you, there is another incentive to act on your dream this year.

Order by December 31st, and get up to $1,375 in savings and bonuses. This includes the opportunity to qualify for a private marketing session with me.

Deduct Travel Expenses Too

Even if the event itself is free, you can still enjoy some tax breaks. Last year I attended Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Growth Conference in Miami. This is me with keynote speaker Guerilla Marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson.

Even though the conference is free, I was still able to deduct my travel expenses.

The 2011 conference is happening January 20th in Atlanta If you go I urge you to come prepared to pitch your business to the editors. (The line is long, but it moves fast and you’ll meet really neat people!)

Just book your airfare or pre-paid hotel reservations in 2010 and you can deduct these expenses this year.

Unfortunately I can’t make it this year because I’ll be gearing up for the $99 No Travel/No Brainer Work at What You Love Virtual Workshop happening January 22-23.

I’m still working out some details but if you would like advance notification when I do, click here.

No matter how your learning occurs, the point is it’s probably tax deductible, and if you pay in 2010, you can take the deduction before you take the course.

With any of these programs, even if the course materials don’t arrive until 2011 – as long as it’s on your credit card before December 31, 2010 – and it meets the “good faith” criteria, it’s considered a legitimate business expense.

BONUS FACT

If you want to be your own boss, you need to start thinking like a self-employed person.

I hope I’ve opened your eyes to ways you can realize the 2010 benefits of the American tax system before you’re even officially self-employed.

More importantly, if losing my Mom at the too young age of 61 taught me anything, it’s to not defer something as important as your dreams.

Time is ticking folks. Please don’t let this year end without taking at least one small step in 2010 to get you closer to where you want to be in 2011.

In the wise words of Audré Lorde:

“When I care to be powerful – to use my strengths in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

You can find lots of additional information on deductible expenses and other tax matters on the Self-Employment/Small Business section of the IRS web site at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html.

My Canadian friends can check out http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/taxinfo/Tax_Information.htm

If you live outside the US or Canada I encourage you to learn about possible the tax benefits for entrepreneurs in your country.


Warning Bad Bosses Could Cause a Heart Attack – Literally

The fact that you’re a Changing Course reader tells me you probably don’t need a whole lot of convincing about the benefits of being your own boss.

But even I was taken aback by the results of this study on the very real health consequences of working for a boss who is especially insensitive to your need for some semblance of work-life balance.

Here’s the link to the article that appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail. It’s one you definitely want to share with the people you love:

http://bit.ly/hUhGuM

If you ever needed an incentive to change course – this would be it!

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
www.ChangingCourse.com

P.S. For even more incentive to be your own boss…

Keep your eye out for a special report later this morning on “Surprising End of the Year Tax Deductions for Dreamers.” Even if you haven’t yet started a business, you may be surprised at the ways you can benefit right now.


How One Income-Generating Idea Leads to Another

Valerie Young, Dreamer in Residence, ChangingCourse.com

Valerie Young

By Valerie Young

I take what you might call a more organic approach to organizing. The good thing about being “filing flexible” is that putting together this week’s list of unique ways to make a living without a job meant looking no farther than the foot high pile of newspaper and magazine clippings on my office floor.

But here’s the fascinating part. Despite grabbing a dozen clips, I only got as far as the first one. That’s because when you are an “Opportunity Analyst” like I am, one opportunity invariably leads to another. This is especially true when you start tuning into trends because they are ripe with profitable ideas. Let me show you what I mean.

At the very top of the pile was a section of The Old Farmer’s 2007 Almanac called Tastes & Trends 2007. One such trend to watch for is what are called “ethical wills.” According to an unnamed survey, to some benefactors, gifts such as morality, faith, and religion are more important than money. “Think of it as a love letter to family and friends,” says author of Healthy Aging Andrew Weil. “This makes you take stock of your life experiences and distill from it the values and wisdom that you have gained.”

The editors at the Old Farmer’s Almanac instruct us to watch for Web sites, books, and consultants to teach us how to create ethical wills. They were right. A quick Internet search led me to EthicalWill.com. It was there that I found a listing by state of professionals and organizations using ethical wills.

A few more clicks and I discovered that in nearby Longmeadow, Massachusetts, attorney and personal historian Marian C. Broder of Memories Recorded has created multiple income streams around ethical wills. In addition to leading “workshops on writing ethical wills, transmitting values and telling family stories for community centers, synagogues, book clubs, libraries, support groups and individuals,” Marian also “works with individuals to craft statements that can be presented at life events and works with parents to draft documents of values and beliefs for children’s guardians to accompany estate documents.”

Then there is documentary film maker Carlyn Saltman of YourStoryMatters.com. Carlyn lives and works in the even more nearby village of Turner’s Falls. This fascinating woman combined her training as a holistic counselor, hospice volunteer, and award-winning documentary filmmaker to help clients create ethical wills on Video, DVD, paper, or all three. As interesting as I found the idea of videotaping an individual’s ethical will, I was even more intrigued to discover that Carlyn has also tapped another huge trend – pets.

For Carlyn, producing pet videos was a natural outgrowth of videotaping people. She explains that, “pets usually get into the act in the course of filming a memoir or portrait documentary of their humans. They are family members, too, and they usually know it. Sometimes their unconditional love enriches our lives as much as our human relationships do. So it’s no wonder that beloved pets are popular subjects in their own right.” This is yet another great example of one income stream very naturally leading to another.

Then literally on the same Old Farmer’s Almanac page as the ethical will piece was a finding about cat lovers. If you happen to be a cat lover seeking to change course though, this finding equals opportunity. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, not only do five percent of cat owners hold birthday parties for their cats, cat owners also splurge more on gifts than dog or other pet owners spending on average $30 per year. Imagine offering cat or dog birthday packages in your area complete with sirloin cake, hats, pet photo sessions, and party favors!

And talk about trends! A quick hop over to the Association’s site (APPMA.org) led me to a much longer list of pet related trends and statistics. The information aspiring entrepreneurs will perhaps find most interesting is the 2010 Pet Products Trend Report. Now I already knew that Entrepreneur magazine had designated pet owners as one of the top 10 markets. But I had no idea that big name companies like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire, and name-brand toys to gourmet treats and food.

Another more well-known trend is for big chain hotels to promote themselves as pet-friendly. In addition to pet pillows, plush doggie robes, check-in gift packages that include a pet toy, dog treat, ID tag, bone and turn down treat, some higher end hotels even have a licensed dog masseuse on staff.

So where’s the opportunity for the pet-loving entrepreneur? My guess is that a lot of the smaller chains, independently-owned hotel and motels, and Bed & Breakfasts would like to be pet-friendly but don’t want to go to the fuss of pulling it all together. So, why not create a pet-welcome package where you provide the hotel owners with all the necessary products? Throw in a dog walking service or doggie-care package so guests can go out on the town without worrying about a barking Fido back in the room, and you’ll really distinguish yourself from the competition!

But I’m not done yet. The Opportunity Analyst in me definitely perked up when I saw that film maker Carlyn Saltman has wisely seized another opportunity – teaching what you know. Much to the displeasure of financial planners and realtors, baby boomers are avid do-it-yourselfers. So for people who have video skills and equipment and want to complete a personal history project of their own, Carlyn will set up a schedule of telephone and/or in person consultations to guide them through what she says can be a daunting undertaking. Even if you are just starting out in your business, make the addition of teaching others what you know a part of your longer range income stream plan.

Finding interesting and profitable ways to make a living doing what you love is easier than you think. All that is required is an inquisitive mind, the willingness to be open to the ways that one opportunity may lead to another, and faith to act on a good opportunity when you see one.


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