CHANGING COURSE BEGINS WITH A GREAT IDEA

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A Letter from a Fellow Traveler on the Road to Changing Course

It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since I ditched my 90-mile-a-day commute to become the Dreamer in Residence here at Changing Course.

In that time I’ve received scores of letters from change seekers just like you.

Some had recently taken the leap to being their own boss and wanted to share the good news.

Others, like the woman you’re about to meet, were just starting the journey.

I found Jody’s letter while I was cleaning out old files.

Her story once again brought me to tears.

Dear Valerie,
 
I have felt driven to write to you all day today, to tell you how finding your web site has changed my life.
 
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Jody and I am from the Detroit area. I am a forty-eight year old grandmother of three, and someone who has spent the past twenty years of her life not having a life.
 
Being a retail manager in a 24-hour store for years meant not only working long shifts or undesirable shifts, but every shift. It meant being robbed at gun-point twice, being spit on, insulted, spoken down to, and just generally abused on a daily basis. It also required being open for every holiday, missing family weddings, graduations, anniversaries; you name it. Sobbing in my car to and from work had become the norm. All the while, I did this while raising four sons alone in Detroit.
 
Fortunately, my sons grew up and moved out; I paid off my house and the company closed down my store; all in that order. I did not know what to do, so I went back to college.
 
College has been a wonderful experience! It is stimulating and has built my self-esteem, both of which are things I was in great need of. Every word they say to you however is specifically directed at landing you in a corporate office somewhere. That is the last place I want to be!
 
To continue, I ran across your site quite by accident two weeks ago. I did not pay it much attention at first and thought it was just another one of those, “Buy my book and you’ll be rich”, scams. Something made me keep going back and reading more. You see, I have been telling myself for all these years that I do not know how to do anything except pump gas, sell candy bars, and write “A” papers at school. (Who really cares about that except me?) Nevertheless, I read on.
 
Something strange started to happen. I became excited! It had been so long since I had been excited about much of anything, that it was a little scary. I was reminded of the times when I used to do things I loved, and proved that I was also very good at. Writing has always been a passion of mine. The back of my closet holds volumes of books and children’s stories which have only been passed around to my family and neighbors.
 
I continually find myself editing letters and reports for people, tweaking their resumes, and all on my own time and without compensation. I also thought back to all of the years I was the neighborhood pet-sitter for vacations and what-have-you, and again, all for free. I had thought of two things which I could be good at and love doing! Suddenly I thought of myself, “wow”!
 
Since then, I have been like the “Energizer Bunny”; going non-stop. I have read everything I can get my hands on. I have decided to pursue both of my ideas.
 
As for pet-sitting, I have already checked into and received the forms for licensing, registered for a certification class, and also for a pet first aid course. At this time I am researching domain names, business forms, and professional organizations to join.
 
While in class on Saturday, I mentioned my idea to the class, and had four people ask me if I was serious, and if so, they were in need of my services. Three people have offered to give me paying jobs this week alone, although I have not yet begun to open a business.
 
It has been very uplifting, and through this endeavor I am fortunate to have received compliments, which otherwise I may have never known. Compliments from fellow students and my professor about how I am thought of as trustworthy and responsible because of my academic demeanor.
 
Finally, I would like to say that even if this idea does not pan out in the end, something else will. Running across your site was the kick in the pants I needed. I suppose someone else needed to remind me that I’m still in here somewhere. Just the motivation to remember myself for the past two weeks has been a huge thrill. Thanks a million for the boost and the support!
 
Regards,
 
Jody
 
P.S. I believe that it is no small accident that the same day I found your site, I had just read an article by Dr. Phil McGraw concerning the difference between living your “authentic” life and living your “fictional” life.

What You Can Learn From Jody

It’s been nine years since Jody sent her letter.

And I’m as moved by her story now as I was then.

Her’s is a wonderful reminder that, as George Elliot wrote, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

True, it took Jody 48 years to realize it really is possible to live and work on your own terms.

Still, it’s a lesson that so many others trapped in low-wage, low satisfaction jobs never learn.

And “learn” truly is the operative word here.

So many people throw up their hands claiming they can’t move ahead because, “I don’t know how.”

Instead Jody rolled up her sleeves and did her homework.

She put her dream out there and the universe rewarded Jody with encouragement — and very likely, her first customers.

Most importantly, Jody took A-C-T-I-O-N.

I wish I could tell you Jody’s launched her businesses and lived happily ever after.

The fact is, I don’t know what happened next.

And that made me a little teary.

Because there are only two ways this story ends.

The optimist in me hopes a very determined Jody took the next step and the next and the next… and is now blissfully self-employed.

But after 22 years in this business, I also know how easy dreams can get derailed.

6 Reasons Dreams Fail

1) You got side-tracked by the next cool idea.

2) You hit a road bump and lost faith… and confidence.

3) Worse, you never had the confidence to begin in the first place.

4) You’re surrounded by people who say you need to be”realistic.”

5) You expected overnight success and when that didn’t happen… you gave up.

6) You love so many things that you can’t pick one. Which makes you what my friend, Barbara Sher, calls a scanner.

The reason all of these dream killers make me cry is because they are SO freakin’ avoidable!

So I’m considering putting something together to help make sure you and all the Jody’s of the world don’t get stuck.

I haven’t put all the pieces together in my head…

But it will definitely be online so no one has to travel.

I may make it free (still noodling that one in my head) or at least super affordable.

But before I put too much work into creating something, I really need to get a handle on where YOU are in the changing course journey.

In other words are you:

1) Still trying to figure out what you love to do

2) Know what you love to do — but don’t know how to make money doing it

3) Have a great idea but don’t know where to begin

4) Other…

Tell me which number best describes where you’re at in the comment section below, or email me at info@ChangingCourse.com.

If I get enough interest, then I’ll move to phase 2… making a plan.

And if Jody from Lincoln Park, Michigan is out there…

Your fellow travelers and I would love to know how you’re doing on the road to changing course!

Join the Conversation!

Let me know where YOU are in the changing course journey by commenting below.


3 Fab New Biz Ideas You Can Steal

I’ve been on a bit of a yoga kick these days.

If you caught the last two newsletters, you know I’ve been using examples of yoga related businesses as a way to get your own creative juices going.

And I’m going to do it one last time.

It’s worth repeating…

This is NOT an article about starting a yoga business.

Instead, I’m going to do the same thing I did in Part 1 and Part 2.

Namely… I’m going to show you three more examples and ways you can “steal” what makes these businesses successful in order to jumpstart your own!

Idea #1 Organize a conference

If you’re good at throwing a party or planning a move, then you can organize a conference.

Conferences or training events can be highly profitable.

Of course, one source of revenue is the registration fees.

Fees are all over the map. I’d attended training events that cost $3,000-5,000 and others that charged $199.

Generally speaking, if the point of the event is to show people how they can make money by say blogging or investing in real estate or making money online, the more you can charge.

When I produced the Making Dreams Happen workshop featuring Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter and myself, I charged $1700 for the four-day event.

We capped it at 55. So, that event grossed $93,000.

But when I put on the popular 3-day Work at What You Love workshops around the country, we only charged $399-$499 but we also brought in 100-150 people.

For some, the real money comes in the form of fees from sponsors and vendors who pay for things like:

  • space at a tradeshow
  • ads in the conference brochure
  • company-branded items in the swag bag
  • the opportunity to present to your audience that ends with an offer to purchase their product or service (with this model the event host typically receives 50 percent of all sales)

I know entrepreneurs who regularly bring in a quarter of a million dollars on sponsor and vendor fees alone.

Every single month there are dozens of yoga conferences happening around the world.

And not all vendors at these events are selling yoga gear.

Sponsors at Canada’s big Yoga Conference included coffee brewers, kale chips makers, and dozens of other small businesses targeting health-conscious consumers.

Even regional conferences can pull in big numbers.

The Northwest Yoga Conference attracts 1,000 participants from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, and elsewhere.

A booth costs vendors $800.

The more participants you have the more vendors you can attract.

You don’t have to fill a huge exhibit hall.

If you had five rows with 20 vendors per row (10 on each side), at $800 that would be $80,000 in fees.

A conference can also be a way for a company to expand its reach.

Yo Kid organization teaches yoga instructors how to work with children.

But by hosting the 2017 National Kids Yoga Conference, the Alexandria, Virginia-based company is able to attract a national audience and position itself as a leader in its field.

How You Can Steal This Idea

If you love organizing events, look for opportunities to host niche-specific conferences.

If you don’t know where to start, begin by researching entrepreneurial trends.

For inspiration read up on the many YouTube conferences.

Many were started by regular people who saw an opportunity and grabbed it.

You can also make money on the back-end by selling recordings of the live event to people who couldn’t be there.

To have the entire Making Dreams Happen workshop recorded and then turned into a product cost around $15,000.

But we made that back 10 times over.

A big part of the initial costs was the production and packaging of a 24 CD set.

However, since most people today just want to download Mp3s it will cost you a lot less to steal this idea.

(Converting to a downloadable product also allowed me to knock off $100 and pass the savings along to customers.)

Finally, you can always do what Yoga Festival did and capitalize on conferences by charging hosts a fee to be listed.

Idea #2 Sell to other businesses within a specific niche

Businesses that cater to the needs of other businesses are known as B2B.

Services like event planning or senior day-care can benefit a wide range of businesses.

But a B2B business can also be aimed at a single market.

Obviously the bigger the market – the greater the opportunity.

It’s worth repeating…

Yoga is more popular in Canada than in India.

And third on the list is the United States where a whopping 20.4 million Americans partake in the ancient practice.

Which means there are lots of other yoga-related businesses in need of solutions too. Like…

  • independent yoga instructors
  • studio owners
  • retreat centers
  • businesses that make yoga gear

Take for example, the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance,

The non-profit business was created to provide community support and networking among a specific demographic group with a shared interest.

With 100 people attending their first major event, I’d say the organizations’ two founders tapped into a very real need.

Then there’s a company called International Yoga.

Most of their revenue comes from individuals who sign up for a yoga retreat.

But the company also saw an opportunity to help instructors wanting to host their own retreats internationally.

Planning and running a retreat are the easy parts.

The challenge for instructors (like all business owners) is the marketing.

But remember, problem = opportunity.

Wisely, International Yoga also offers instructors full retreat management and logistical services “so teachers can focus on what they do best.”

To qualify for these services, however, instructors must already have some international retreat experience under their belt.

The easiest way to gain experience is to teach at someone else’s event.

The problem, of course, is finding one.

For Yoga Trade it’s also an opportunity since they match travel-loving instructors looking for adventure with yoga centers seeking instructors.

How You Can Steal This Idea

Think of a group you’d love to work with.

Then make a list of the problems, complaints, or threats that are unique to that demographic.

Next, brainstorm ways you can address these issues.

Have a knack for videotaping or marketing? Find a niche market who needs marketing help and pursue them.

Love to teach? Compile a list of resources like the ones listed here and teach a class on how to grow a yoga – or other niche – business for fun and profit.

Like doing research and writing? Put together an ebook on 101 Cool Ways to Cash in On the Yoga Craze.

Have a winning personality? Create a YouTube channel on this or any number of niche topics.

Love connecting people? Start your own association or matching service.

Idea #3 Make money by making a difference

For most, yoga people is a form of exercise.

But for others, it’s a means to serve the greater good.

In 2003 nurse practitioner and yoga instructor Mary Lynn Fitton decided to pilot a program to teach yoga to under-served, exploited, and incarcerated girls who had experienced trauma.

Today, Fitton’s California-based 501C3 nonprofit organization The Art of Yoga Project has served over 6,000 girls.

There are other initiatives using yoga to help underserved and incarcerated youth and adults of both genders.

Like Uprising Yoga in Los Angeles.

And the inspiring Africa Yoga Project (be sure to watch the video!) which is making yoga accessible to even impoverished communities.

How You Can Steal This Idea

If you think you’d like to start a non-profit, take a year or so to pilot your idea like Mary did.

If the initiative has legs, figure out how you’ll serve your audience and what grants, fundraising efforts, and other revenue models you’ll need to cover basic expenses moving forward.

Figure out too who your natural partners and potentially paying customers will be.

For example, Uprising Yoga works directly with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, mental health facilities, group homes, and social work agencies.

You might also partner with a local hospital, center for cancer survivors, substance abuse treatment program, or senior center.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to coming up with viable ways to generate income, there are endless ways to take a single idea and build on it.

And remember, changing course starts with a great idea – and the willingness to act on it.

Ready to find your perfect business idea?

Learn more about my laser focused idea generation and planning consultation here.

Life is short my change seeking friend.

And I can only take a few clients a month.

Whether you work with me or not — please don’t let your dream wait another day.


Steal This Idea Part 2

A few weeks back I shared some very cool ways people are cashing in on the enormous popularity of yoga.

Well, I’ve dug up some more neat business ideas. These too, happen to be in the yoga space.

WARNING: If you think this article is about starting a yoga business you’re not only missing the boat, you may be missing your calling!

Because just like last time, this article is really about how you can “steal” the essence of other business ideas to come up with your own money-making business.

1) Combine Two Unrelated Things

For instance, last time I told you about how enterprising self-bossers who found a way to link yoga with kids, dogs, even horses.

Indeed, some of the best business ideas come from combining two unrelated things.

Would you ever think to combine knitting and yoga?

Knitting enthusiast Lisa B. Evans did.

She took these two unrelated interests and turned them into popular workshop-retreats in scenic Vermont, Maine, and New Mexico.

For the last twelve years, enthusiastic knitters have paid between $975 and $1,875 plus lodging to go on one of Lisa’s “Knitting and Yoga Adventures!

Steal this idea

Make a list of your own interests and gifts. Think too about any enduring trends…

  • football
  • Reiki
  • rodeos
  • shopping
  • the environment
  • mystery novels
  • auto repair
  • specialty teas
  • anthropology
  • beer making
  • gardening
  • orienteering
  • Italian cooking

Then look for unlikely connections between your interest and other seemingly unrelated things.

What about a mystery tea shopping tour in London?

Or a pop-up massage studio for rodeo riders?

Or beer making classes that end with participants enjoying a frosty one while watching Monday night football or include a visit by a former NFL player?

Keep in mind your new income stream could be:

  • full time or part-time
  • seasonal
  • something you do once a year in connection with a fair, film festival, or other local event
  • holiday-related
  • something that builds on some other date-specific theme or event like a championship series, the summer solstice, etc.

Instead of trying to find an idea that will replace your entire salary, see if you can come up with a way to generate $10,000. And start there.

2) Make it a vacation

If someone will pay to engage in an activity at home, there’s an excellent chance they’ll travel to partake in that same interest elsewhere.

No wonder Yoga retreats are hugely popular.

So much so that when Jessie and Brad Wigh were looking for a way to make Belize their year round home they decided a full-time yoga retreat was the way to go.

yoga, fitness, sport and healthy lifestyle concept – group of people in tree pose on beach

Today Belize Yoga offers both ocean side and jungle getaways.

You don’t need to relocate or own your own retreat center to cash in on the vacation-retreat model.

The Kalani in Hawaii is one of many existing centers eager for you hold your gathering at their location.

Steal this idea

Remember, you don’t have to practice yoga to sell to people who do.

But the fact that there are so many yoga retreats tells us there are opportunities to be had.

One way to exercise your idea muscles is to visit some yoga retreat centers (or any niche business really) to see what add-on products or services you might provide to owners.

For example, if there’s no store on site, you could provide a pop-up store featuring customized yoga-apparel as well as some of the more unusual products featured in the last post.

Or forget yoga

Instead make a list of other popular hobbies or interests like ballroom dancing, dogs, or photography.

Next research vacations that cater to people with these interests and study these offerings.

Then design a lower or higher priced, longer or shorter, or otherwise unique vacation experience aimed at that same market

3) Go corporate

There are two ways to sell products or services.

You can sell to individual consumers.

Or you can start a business that sells products or services to other businesses – otherwise known as B2B.

Sticking with our yoga example…

Every day medium to large cities and resort areas play hosts to conferences and corporate gatherings.

If you’ve been to one of these, then you know participants spend eight or more hours sitting.

Yoga Farm is one of many studios that partners with hotels or event meeting planners to supply early morning and break time yoga for sitting-weary conference participants.

Steal this idea

How can your current idea or business lend itself to the needs of other businesses – or for that matter, government or non-profits?

What value can you offer these organization’s employees, customers, or constituents?

For instance, someone who teaches art or cooking, could partner with local employers to bring your class into the workplace or offer employee discounts.

If you think corporations wouldn’t bother with a solo-business person like yourself – think again.

I once partnered with a local bank to lead a lunch-and-learn series for small business owners.

Participants paid a small fee to attend and as importantly, I gained the credibility of being endorsed by the bank.

Every day corporations hire coaches, fitness instructors, personal chefs, product vendors, social media consultants, senior assistance and pre-retirement experts, and others to help them achieve their HR and sales goals.

Belinda Pruyne ought to know. As a corporate executive, she was one of the people signing big contracts with outside vendors.

Belinda put together a training video training on what it takes for the “little guy” to get big corporate contracts.

And who better to learn from than someone who was essentially writing the checks!

Are You Ready to Find YOUR Calling?

Learn more about my laser focused idea generation and planning consultation here.

I still have a few openings in October.

Life is short my change seeking friend.

If you’re ready to work at what you love – even if you don’t work with me — please don’t let your dream wait another day.


How Yoga Can Teach You to Turn Your Ideas into Income

Would it surprise you to know that yoga is more popular in Canada than in India?

It definitely surprised me!

Third on the list is the US where a whopping 20.4 million Americans partake in the ancient practice.

Sometimes a single surprising fact is all it takes to discover your perfect business idea.

And you don’t even have to do yoga to benefit from its enormous popularity.

In fact, anything with millions of fans from golf to quilting to Harry Potter presents enterprising change seekers opportunities to turn interests into income.

Here are four unique ways people are profiting from the yoga boom plus ways you can “steal” these ideas to profit from your own passion.

1) Lighten Up

Who would have thought yoga had a humorous side?

I suppose it’s not surprising when you consider the well-documented health benefits of laughter.

It’s why in 1995, a family physician in Mumbai, India, Dr. Madan Kataria, decided to experiment with ways to apply those benefits.

Like most ideas, this one took some trial and error.

But it didn’t take long before laughter yoga was born.

Today it’s so popular there’s even an annual conference!

Search the term “funny yoga products” and you’ll find scores of humorous ways people are making money.

You’ll find clothes sporting slogans like “Let’s get it om,” and “My favorite pose is downward facing naps.”

There are humorous calendars that use digital technology or illustration to feature puppies and farm animals positioned in classic yoga postures.

And of course, funny yoga videos.

Some are parodies. Others are the always popular bloopers.

Steal This Idea

Have video scripting or editing skills?

Build on the success of others by putting your own unique spin on a funny yoga video.

Attract a large enough YouTube following on and you can generate some serious ad revenue.

Certainly, not everything lends itself to humor.

But if you can find a way to bring some humor to your business/idea, you may be laughing all the way to the bank.

2) Make it hip

AirBnB is now advertising classes, tours, and other things to do when you travel.

That’s where I learned about “sky yoga.”

Part yoga, part dance, part cool social meetup, event production company, Bender, describes itself as an “urban playground for body and soul.”

The company produces yoga-dance events complete with DJs.

And they do it on warehouse rooftops and in other inspiring places in LA, Chicago, and coming soon — Melbourne.

The evening events seamlessly transition from yoga to a night of dancing and cocktails under the stars.

The Bender website says that they “work with a team of the most experienced and creative yoga teachers, DJs, designers, and other collaborators – each hand-picked for their specific voice and fit with our flavor.”

Sounds to me like they may be open to proposals for collaboration from other creative/healing types or people with access to creative urban settings.

Steal this idea

It’s hard to make certain businesses like bookkeeping or SEO consulting cool.

That said, I know a realtor who hosts an annual April 15th/IRS deadline happy hour for clients, building contractors, lenders, and others in her vast network.

Depending on what you want to do, look for ways to make it newsworthy by adding an element of hip to it!

3) Tap a new demographic

When you think of yoga enthusiasts you probably picture fit people in their 20s and 30s. Or at least adults.

That’s what Jamie Dix thought too until the early childhood educator and certified yoga instructor started using storytelling to get her students to experience different yoga positions.

Soon her colleagues were asking her to teach them how to do the same with their students.

So Jamie and her siblings teamed up to launch Imagination Yoga.

Today, her program is offered to kids aged 2-to-12 in schools, daycare centers, and camps across the US.

Even within the adult population, there’s plenty of opportunity to niche.

There are yoga classes designed specifically for people with diabetes and chronic fatigue, as well as yoga for veterans, pregnant women, and people who use a wheelchair.

There’s even yoga laughter designed for the unique needs of seniors in nursing or other elder care facilities.

Steal this idea

As you think about your own gifts or interests (travel, creative writing, repairing things, sports, etc.) – ask yourself, what are the obvious and less obvious markets you can tap?

Don’t just think in terms of age, gender, race, and the like.

Consider too, groups who share a common experience or challenge…

Maybe grieving parents… teens aging out of foster care… people struggling with addiction… survivalists… rural singles…

Whether you feel personally called to serve a specific group — or you just see a market need — additional audiences mean additional income.

4) Tap a new species!

Third graders and seniors are one thing.

But who connects yoga and animals?

Miami-based yoga instructor Suzi Teitelman and the creator of Doga Dog did.

Her classes consist of a series of yoga poses that dog owners can incorporate with their pooch.

The dogs seem to lap up the light stretches, massage, and relaxed bonding time with their humans.

And their time-squeezed/guilt-ridden dog owners appreciate being able to get in some exercise while also spending time with their best friend.

Dogs aren’t the only four-legged creatures getting into the yoga act.

Yoga classes end with the traditional Hindu salutation “nameste” which in Hinduism means, “I bow to the divine in you.”

But if you’re showing people how to do yoga atop a horse, then make that “neighmaste.”

There are several books on equestrian yoga which emphasizes balance, building core strength, breathing, and mindfulness.

At the cleverly named Equine Om in Saint Augustine, Florida, yoga instructor and horsewoman Miranda Inabinett teaches classes to riders and trains other instructors in her method as well.

Finally, the vacationers at Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado near Steamboat Springs don’t do yoga while atop a horse.

Instead, they enjoy a popular girlfriend getaway that combines the fun of riding with a morning yoga class all wrapped around a luxury vacation.

If you haven’t acted on your own great idea because it feels too overwhelming to tackle on your own, take heart.

This unique vacation idea was born when a cowgirl from Montana who went to college on a rodeo scholarship (who knew?!) and a former social worker turned yoga and meditation instructor living in Florida were introduced by a mutual friend at a horse sanctuary in Hawaii.

They went out and found a ranch to partner with and have been riding strong ever since!

Steal this idea

Like to write?

Then take a page out of Brenda Bryan’s book Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi.

It’s just one of half a dozen books on the subject. Proof that writing pays.

Again, you don’t have to be engaged in a given activity to look for practitioners in need of a ghost writer for their own niche-specific book.

Or maybe you have an insider’s perspective on the horse world and think equine yoga could be the next big thing.

If you have marketing experience — or just a determination to learn — then partner with an equestrian yoga instructor to scale the training nationally or internationally.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to making money without a job-job, there are endless ways to take a single idea and build on it.

Just remember… changing course starts with a great idea – and the willingness to act on it.

Ready to find your perfect business idea? Check out my laser-focused Profit From Your Passion coaching now.

(I’m booked for August but still have a few fall openings.)

Life is short my friend. Whatever your dream, please don’t make it wait another day.


Find Your Dream Biz Fast! PLUS — Booming Vintage Trend!

Want to find your dream business? All you have to do is connect the dots!

But which dots?

Traditional career coaches are all about helping clients find the perfect job-job.

So they work with dots like skills assessments, personality profiles, resumes, and job search tools.

But, if you want to do your own thing then you need to connect a very different set of dots.

Over my two decades at Changing Course, I’ve come up with some 60 potential dots.

Once you know what to look for, you’re able to quickly make that all important connection between the things you like to do and ways to turn those interests into income.

I’m going to share some of the dots I used to turn a 53-year-old change seeker named Roy on to a fun and potentially lucrative business idea.

And you can use these same dots to discover your dream business too!

Or you can just steal one of the many ideas you’ll find here!

Step 1: Identify the Dots

The “What Do I Want My Life to Look Like” Dot 

I’ve talked about my signature Life First-Work Second approach to career planning before.

In a nutshell — Roy doesn’t need a new job… he needs a whole new LIFE!

After spending most of his career in IT, Roy is burned out on spending 40-plus hours a week sitting at a desk and staring at a monitor.

But it goes beyond just working in tech.

Roy does what I call “head work.” And now he’s eager to find a way he can work with his hands.

He mostly wants to work on his own. But Roy is also open to working with a partner.

The Happiness Dot

Roy has lots of gifts and interests.

Among them, he enjoys being handy. He can get lost tinkering in his workshop or garage.

The Experience Dot 

Let me be clear on this one.

Lack of experience or a track record should never be a barrier. There are ways to acquire both.

That said, turns out that while he was in the military Roy used to supplement his meager salary by repairing and selling used washer/dryers to other young families on the base.

Step 2: Look for Ways to Monetize 

The Opportunity Dot 

This is where you take the known dots above, and connect them to one or more income-generating opportunities.

Opportunities come in the different forms. It could be…

  • a problem, complaint, or threat
  • the desire to work with or otherwise cater to a particular demographic group
  • a particular interest or hobby
  • a personal experience or crisis
  • a growing or shrinking trend – BINGO!

The Enormous Trend in Vintage Restoration

As Roy and I talked, I instantly thought of a company out of northwest Georgia called Antique Appliances.

The company does a thriving business restoring vintage stoves and refrigerators from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Some of the appliances are ones they buy, repair, and sell themselves.

However, most of their work is done on commission by clients looking for refurbished appliances that will fit in with their period home or business.

The All Important “Money Dot”

Some opportunities hold the potential to generate more income than others.

That’s why before you begin any new venture you need to do your homework.

A great place to start is to see what other people are charging.

At Antique Appliances I found this 1930 Frigidaire 2-door selling for $12,000!

And this 1951 mint green Chambers stove is priced at $7,800.

Coincidentally, I once rented a house with a Chambers stove just like this one only white.

I LOVED that stove – especially the griddle!

When I moved out my landlord wanted to take it to the dump.

I was so upset I paid to have it carted to my new house, stored it in my garage for a few years, then sold it for a couple hundred bucks.

Somebody got a great deal on that one!

The Demand Dot

Ok, so we know people will pay thousands of dollars for a restored appliance.

But is there really enough market demand for Roy to jump in?

Another visit to Antique Appliances and I learned that as of April, the company had approximately 159 antique appliances under contract for restoration.

The wait for gas stoves is two years and for electric ones, a year.

And if you want to get your vintage refrigerator restored, you’ll have to wait 36 months!

Knowing this, do you think Roy – or anyone who loves working with their hands and has a willingness to learn a new skill – would be wise to get in on the vintage appliance trend?

Other Vintage Restoration Opportunities

Appliances aren’t the only way to cash in on the restoration boom.

There’s a market for vintage vending machines

Vintage RVs are very hot right now.

And if the prices they’re pulling in at Steel Vintage in the UK are any indication, vintage bicycles present a great opportunity as well.

(If you really want to dig deep into the vintage bike world, check out this list of resources courtesy of The Ann Arbor Bicycle Show.)

Once you settle on a product, Craigslist, eBay, garage and estate sales, old barns in rural areas are all good places to either find or advertise for vintage stuff in need of repair.

Not Just for Men

Bailey Sisson is one of three mechanics at Nova Motorcycles vintage repair shop up the road from me in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

According to her bio, after growing up in a family of machinists, “she realized she wanted to be a mechanic professionally when she discovered the art and pleasure of making things work perfectly.”

Adding that Bailey, “…has a strong desire to leave things better than she found them.”

And check out this You Tube video about Carlita Belgrove AKA “The Stove Lady” in Yonkers, New York

After 30 years in business Belgrove Appliances must be doing something right!

Getting Started

Look for “how to” books

I couldn’t find one specifically on appliances… which itself presents an opportunity to team up with a restorer to write one.

But there are books on repairing vintage and other items.

If you’re open to exploring possibilities, go to Amazon and type in: How to repair vintage [leave the what part blank] – and see what comes up!

Look for “how to” videos on You Tube

I didn’t find any training videos that take you soup-to-nuts.

But there are some shorter ones where you can pick up some tips.

Or see if you can find other sites like PopMachines.com where they post photos that break down the restoration process one stage at a time.

Magazines

There are lots of magazines out there that cater to the vintage and antique markets:

Join the club — literally

Sure their website looks like something out of the 1980s… (Another opportunity?)!

But what matters are the how-to manuals and other benefits available to members of the Old Appliance Club.

Apprentice with someone

Years ago a local bookbinder named Bill Streeter used to take on apprentices.

Every three months another student would happily plunk down $3,000 for the chance to learn from a master craftsman.

Go to school

After graduating high school early, Bailey attended the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Arizona – one of 12 locations in the US.

Better Yet… Start Your Own School

You don’t need to be handy to cash in on the vintage restoration craze.

The biggest challenge for Roy – or anyone who needs to learn a new hands-on skill – is lack of experience.

But remember, problems are just opportunities in disguise.

Are you organized?

Do you like setting up events or programs?

Have a background in education?

Are you a go-getter who likes to make things happen?

Any of these things position you to partner with an existing company who likes the “idea” of establishing a training business but doesn’t have the time to make it happen on their own.

Or just hire one or two people who know the repair end and start your own.

Let’s say you charge $5,000 tuition.

All you need are 40 students a year and you’ve got yourself a nice little $200,000 a year business!

Remember, changing course starts with a great idea… and the willingness to act on it.

FREE OFFER: Need Help Connecting the Dots to YOUR Dream Business?

Do you have no clue what it is you even love to do?

Or, do you know what you love to do, but have no clue how to make money doing it?

Life is short my friend.

Click here now to discover more about how my surprisingly affordable Outside the Job Box brainstorming session can help you.

Be among the first three people to schedule your consultation and you’ll receive my inspirational ebook – a $19 value!

So, if you’re ready to take control over your time and life and work at what you love – give me a call! 

And, if you liked this article… please share the love!


6 Reasons Why Summer is the Best Time to Launch YOUR Dream Business

The school calendar of your youth may have hardwired you to see Fall as the time for new beginnings.

But summertime is THE best time to launch your dream business.

Don’t worry — you can change course and still have time for summertime recreation.

After all, the word recreation literally means to “re-create.”

And what better way to spend this summer than recreating your LIFE!

Here are six ways you can use this summer to grow your dream:

1) Be lazy and still make progress

As the most carefree of the four seasons, summer is made for dreaming big. The key is to be deliberate about it.

One way is to make an appointment with yourself to go to your favorite park bench or other outdoor spot.

Give yourself a full half hour (ideally longer) to just lay back and watch the clouds roll by or gaze lazily at a star-filled sky.

As your breathing slows you’ll find the day-to-day trials and tribulations that consume us now seem trivial.

Start to imagine what could be…

Taking in the vastness of the sky reminds you to see your life in more expansive terms as well.

If you find yourself still thinking small, remember the wise words of Michelangelo…

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

2) Take advantage of the longer days

Yes, lazy days of summer are still busy.

Still, the additional hours of daylight do add a bit more time to our lives.

Why not use this “found time” to do things like…

  • take a class
  • start your blog
  • build your inventory
  • hone your craft or other skills like writing or speaking
  • read up on ways to make money doing what you love

Even if you can only dedicate 20 minutes a day or one morning a month, it’s all forward motion!

3) You don’t need a yard to plant seeds

Summer is the ideal time to cultivate that dream.

Start with good soil by asking yourself some core questions like…

  • Who and what do I care deeply about?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What do I want my life to look like? (click here for some tips on where to start)

Now get rid of the weeds – the lame excuses, apathy, self-doubt, and fear born from lack of information.

Next plant a few seeds that move you closer to your dream life.

  • Interview someone doing your dream job
  • Start or join a group of other self-bossers
  • Write a business plan (or at least a loose outline) of what you want to do and steps needed to get there.

Of course you could always plant a real garden – and make some real money doing it!

To get started check out Homesteading for Beginners: How To Build A Profitable Homestead Backyard Farm and Make Money From Urban Farming by an enterprising Brit named William Walsworth.

The biggest “complaint” about his book is that it focuses on the business aspect of homesteading… which is precisely the info every aspiring self-bosser needs!

4) Find yourself in a real summer thriller

Light summer novels are great.

But how about treating your life like the adventure it could be by reading some books to help you change course? Like…

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski

Or if you’re still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up there’s always…

Wishcraft by Barbara Sher (her first and still my favorite book)

Or instead of losing yourself in a summer novel, why not find yourself one of the many exercises in my own book — It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Calling.

Or, if you already have a new direction in mind, use this time to read a “how to” book on this new path.

Go to Amazon and search for “How to start a [fill in the blank] business.” You’ll be amazed at what you find!

Or check out courses with a proven track record on things like how to turn your photos into cash or how to get paid to travel.

5) Take a tax-deductible vacation

If your dream includes relocating, hit the road by using your vacation as an exciting research expedition.

Plan ahead to do things like arrange informational interviews with local entrepreneurs or craftspeople or to otherwise gather research about things like local costs, vendors, groups, and opportunities.

Say you spend two out of seven days doing research, calling on future customers, or even collaborators.

As long as you make what the IRS* considers a “good faith effort” to make a future profit within three years, then you should be able to deduct that portion of your trip as a tax-deductible business expense. (Tip: Be sure to document how you use your time)

You don’t have to be contemplating a move to take a tax-deductible road trip.

If you want to cash in on the profitable romance writing genre then head to the annual Romance Writers of America conference happening this July in Orlando.

I was at the 2016 conference to deliver a keynote to 3,000 attendees.

And I was blown away at the quantity and quality of the workshops as well as opportunities for aspiring writers to pitch to agents and publishers.

Or maybe beer making school in Germany or one of the many boat building schools are more your thing!

Again, if you’re acquiring training in order to go on and earn money — then it should be a tax-deductible expense.

*My friends outside the US will want to check on your country’s tax law.

6) Or take a “staycation” and invest in your dream

Use some or all of your summer vacation time to gain more passion-related knowledge, experience or connections locally.

In addition to doing any or all of the actions listed in #5, use your vacation time to take a local class, to volunteer, or maybe even do a super part-time apprenticeship.

Or just save both money and time by spending your vacation at home.

If you do, be sure to make it a real vacation by doing the kinds of things a tourist on a budget might do – go on a picnic, head to a museum, take a day trip to a place you’ve always wanted to go.

Then stash the money you would have spent on a costly vacation into a “dream fund.”

Use your savings to take career-expanding classes or even start your own business.

Then use at least a few vacation days to work on your action plan.

Re-creating your life is about making choices.

Hop on down to the comments and share one way you can use your summer to launch YOUR dream business… and life!

May I ask a favor?

If you liked this article, would you please share with others? Thanks in advance for your support!


Give Your New Food-Related Business a Huge Jump Start!

Are your friends and family constantly saying you should sell your homemade cheesecake, meat rub, or cucumber coconut lemonade?

Or maybe you have a food blog or you have lots of followers to your Trip Advisor restaurant reviews or your food photos on Instagram? 

If so, run don’t walk to the fast-approaching Summer Specialty Food Show.

Billed as North America’s largest specialty food and beverage event, you’ll find 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic foods, natural, organic and more.

Plus its your chance to connect with 2,400 exhibitors from 50 countries and regions.

Who knows… one may turn out to be your future customer or partner!

And if you’re just starting out, the Summer Specialty Food Show is your chance to attend three days of education programs for both explorers and beginners as well as seasoned entrepreneurs alike.  

Topics include:

  • funding your business
  • hot trends in the food industry
  • basics of the specialty food business
  • and many more…

You’ll learn from experts like Jon Taffer, host of the popular TV show “Bar Rescue.”

And Josh Treuhaft, founder and creative director of Salvage Supperclub.

 

Among other things, Josh started a communal dining experience where guests eat a gourmet dinner in a giant dumpster as a way to “highlight the untapped potential in often-overlooked foods and solve the world-wide problem of food waste.”

And this year you can get a front row seat as a celebrity Greek chef, a specialty produce supplier, and others pitch their business to industry experts.

Think of it as Shark Tank for the specialty food industry!

But instead of funding, they’re pitching for profitable promotional opportunities.

And speaking of funding — the cost to attend is anywhere from $99-$200 depending on your situation.

But Sorry — You Can’t Go

After I got totally pumped about the Summer Fancy Food Show it turns out it’s not open to the general public. What??!!!

The site states that because they are “a trade event designed to promote growth in commerce in the specialty food industry… [the] event is open to qualified buyers and industry professionals (18 years of age or older).”

Reading that I knew a lot of change seekers would be discouraged and give up.

And like I always say, information will set you free.

So I picked up the phone and called the organizers for more information.

I was right.

 
Turns out all you need to establish that you are a “qualified professional” is a business card (how hard can that be?!)…

Or a certificate from a culinary or wine school.

Or a pay stub that says you work in some food related job like a restaurant or a local cheese shop or on a local farm.

Or a link to your food/beverage related blog or Instagram account.

Or other evidence that you are even exploring the world of food and beverages.

If you’re not sure, post your situation on the in the comments below, and I’m happy to try to help you find a way.

The bottom line — GO FOR IT!

Can’t make it to the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC for the June 24-27th event?

They’ve already posted dates and locations for the next three years!

That gives you plenty of time to become a “qualified professional!”

So start saving your pennies and find a way to make it happen.

And remember — when you work for yourself, anything is possible!


I’m moving to Canada! (And How You Too Can Live Where and How You Want)

I was only in Canada for seven days. Just long enough to fall in love.

My trip began with three speaking engagements in British Columbia.

One of the many great things about being your own boss is you can take vacation whenever you want.

So after my last gig, a friend and I hopped a plane for a little R&R in the spectacular Canadian Rockies.

You know how certain settings just seem to feed your soul?

Maybe for you that place is the ocean… or the desert… or the prairie.

For me it’s the mountains. (Add a lake and I’m in heaven!)

Check out this view from the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff…

And at the still frozen but still breathtaking Lake Louise…

And check out this view from the deck of our Airbnb rental in Canmore, Alberta!

As I sat there enjoying my morning coffee this one phrase kept running through my head…

I could live here.

Hey, with a view like this – who wouldn’t?!

Being in Canada re-affirmed for me just how important it is to live life on your own terms.

It also confirmed the approach that helped to transition me from my 90-mile-a-day commute to a cubicle to my comfy home office and the view of Mount Tom that I enjoy today.

I call it…

The Life First – Work Second Approach to Career Change

What exactly does it mean to consider your life before your career?

Well, remember how when you were a kid, adults were forever asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

But do you remember anyone ever asking, “What do you want your life to look like?”

If they had, no one in their right mind would have replied, “I’d love to wake up to an alarm clock, sit in commuter traffic, and spend five days a week working 8-to-late under florescent lights.”

Yet that describes the life of countless, millions of people.

Here’s a novel idea…

What if parents… guidance counselors… and college career advisers had focused less on what you wanted to be when you grew up and more on helping you figure out how you wanted to feel when you grew up?

I call it the Life First – Work Second© approach to career planning.

In fact, I begin every business idea generation session with the same simple question:

What do you want your L-I-F-E to look like?

The fact that you want to be your own boss tells me you have a strong desire for more control over your time.

From here though, everyone’s picture is unique.

Like the vast majority of my clients, you may want to have some sort of home-based business.

After all, being at home automatically gives you more work-life balance.

Other clients crave variety. Maybe you do too.

Maybe you want to do freelance writing or coaching or something that would allow for a portable lifestyle.

Or perhaps you want to have a seasonal business so you can work intensely for six months then take the rest of the year off.

Or maybe you just want to find a way to enjoy summers off to spend with your kids or grandchildren.

That’s why it’s so important to start on the life side of the work life equation.

If you know ahead of time that your idea of heaven on earth would be to not work in the summertime, then you’d know to look for ways to earn money that would allow for this kind of schedule.

That’s why it’s so important to continually evaluate work options through the lens of life.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There is only one success: To be able to live your life in your own way.”

If you’re seeking a life and not just a living, start by getting crystal clear on what having a life means to you.

If you’re determined to follow your own road then you must take the time to really answer the question, “What do I want my life to look like?”

Then use your answers to evaluate any business ideas to determine if it passes the life test?

From there it’s all about taking action.

You Are Tougher Than You Know

While I was in Canada I had the honor of giving the opening keynote at the annual Spark conference WAY up north in Fort Saint John, BC.

You’ve got to be tough to live in an area with such extreme weather.

On top of that, it’s been a rough few years for the people in a region that relies heavily on the oil and gas industry.

The conference organizers could have canceled the event, waiting for a “better” time.

To their great credit, they chose instead to turn adversity into a positive by making the conference theme… “Inspired by Tough.”

Maybe you’ve had a rough go of it too.

Or, maybe you’ve just put off taking the leap because of all the things that could go wrong.

After two decades of self-employment, I can tell you with great certainty that things will go wrong.

You’re going to face rejection and setbacks. More than once.

You may even outright fail. I know because I’ve done it a few times.

It’s called life.

However, once you understand that all that worrying about what could go wrong only slows your chance to create the life you really want… it changes everything.

As Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin more intelligently.”

Like every successful person, Ford understood that failures and setbacks offer valuable lessons.

Adversity is also what makes us stronger… tougher.

If you’re waiting for that perfect time to jump — forget it.

Start now and remember — you are tougher than you know.

I’m not moving to Canada yet… but I could definitely spend my summers there.

Why not?

When you work for yourself – anything is possible!


From BROKE to writing for NFL players

My brother-in-law Eddie spent 30 years as a field technician for a major manufacturer of office equipment.

Then at age 58 the company laid him and most of their other long-time technicians off… only to later ask them to come back at minimum wage with no benefits.

So much for job security and loyalty.

He did his job well. But for Eddie, repairing office equipment was just that — a job.

His true passion was following sports – and especially football.

Eddie once told me his dream job would be to work for ESPN. He said he didn’t care if he was the guy who hauled equipment around – he just wanted to part of the game.

When I got an email from Michelle Hill I immediately thought of my brother-in-law.

Because Michelle is doing what sports lovers like my brother-law only dream about.

She found a way to make money hanging out with NFL players.

I first met Michelle in 2006 when she attended the Work at What You Love workshop in Ventura, California.

(This happens to be the same workshop Dyan deNapoli AKA The Penguin Lady attended back in Massachusetts. If you missed my interview with Dyan and her spectacular photos from Antarctica, you can still get the replay here.)

Back then, Michelle was in the baking business.

In fact, I still have the business card for Michelle’s Cookie Kitchen.

But after a year-and-a half, Michelle realized she liked donating her cookies for various non-profit benefits a lot more than she liked selling them.

So, she closed the door on her budding baking business.

But unlike my brother-in-law who’s hardwired to be an employee, Michelle was determined to be her own boss.

Considering she’d been downsized three times in nine years, it’s easy to see why.

When the economy collapsed in 2008 Michelle found herself in the same boat as millions of other Americans — living off unemployment and tapping her 401k.

Broke but not broken, Michelle sold her possessions and moved to the other side of the country to start over.

Today Michelle’s life is very different.

For Michelle, the turn-around began when she signed up for a course on how to become a freelance copywriter. (Click here for my review.)

Writing sales copy is a skill anyone can learn – and you can make great money doing it.

I know because I’ve personally paid up to three thousand dollars for promotional copy for a single product.

But for Michelle, copywriting turned out to be more of a launch pad.

Today Michelle is a ghostwriter for a number of current and former National Football League players and others in the sports world who want to publish a book.

The “Strong Copy QB” as she dubs herself, counts Levar Fisher formerly with the Arizona Cardinals and Brandon Williams who played with the Baltimore Ravens among her impressive roster.

I wanted to know how Michelle went from having to borrow gas money to working alongside major league players.

What I quickly discovered is that like all success stories, Michelle’s journey offers valuable lessons for anyone seeking to change course.

That’s why I’ve asked Michelle to be my next guest on the NEW Big Dreams Small Steps Success Stories Series!

From Broke to
Ghostwriter for NFL Players

With Michelle Hill of Winning Proof

Listen in here.

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
www.ChangingCourse.com


Coolest Success Story E-V-E-R!

How the “Penguin Lady” Turned Her Passion Into an Adventure and Income (And How You Can Too!)

In my 22 years as the Dreamer in Residence at Changing Course I’ve heard some amazing success stories.

But this is one of my VERY favorites!

Partly because, wildlife lover Dyan deNapoli already had her dream job.

As the senior penguin aquarist at the prestigious New England Aquarium in Boston, she got to work closely with these fascinating birds — both at her facility and in nature.

Then sadly, Dyan’s mother died.
My own Mom died unexpectedly at just 61 years old.

So, I know first-hand how wake-up calls can cause us to re-evaluate our lives.

After nine years at her job, Dyan had already begun to feel restless. And losing her mother just accelerated the desire for change.

She was still passionate about protecting wildlife – particularly penguins.

But Dyan now longed for the same freedom and flexibility she’d enjoyed during her days as a jewelry maker.

But how in the world do you become a self-employed penguin expert???

That was the question Dyan brought to the Work at What You Love workshop in Northampton, Massachusetts.

There, among some 125 other change seekers, is where the idea to offer interactive educational programs was hatched.

Most people talk about their business idea… they endlessly research and plan and tweak and perfect.

But they never begin.

Not Dyan.

Within days of the workshop she secured the domain The Penguin Lady and reached out to local schools, libraries, and senior citizen centers to book gigs.

And she never looked back.

Since then Dyan’s dream, her adventures, and her income have all grown in ways she could have never imagined.

She has…

  • traveled to Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, and South Africa to work with, teach about, and observe penguins in the wild

  • appeared as an expert on numerous television and radio shows, including CNN and BBC Radio

  • landed a six-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster (woo-hoo!)

  • written the award-winning book The Great Penguin Rescue
  • delivered not one but four – count ‘em – FOUR – TEDx talks!

  • been a guest lecturer on nature cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands

  • was selected to be one of 76 women scientists to take part in a leadership training program aboard a cruise ship in Antarctica

Dyan’s been doing some OTHER REALLY cool stuff — but I’m going to let her tell you herself.

And you’ll even get to ask questions!

Because… drum roll please!

Dyan is the first guest to appear in my new Dream Big – Start Small Success Stories Series!

How to Leverage Your Passion for a
Life of Adventure & Profits

With Dyan deNapoli AKA The Penguin Lady

In this inspiring and advice-packed webinar Dyan will share how she turned an unlikely interest into a life of adventure and income.

As importantly, Dyan will offer valuable tips for how you too can leverage YOUR passion for a life of adventure and profits!

And as an extra treat, I’ve also asked Dyan to share some of the spectacular photos from her most recent trip to Antarctica!

Sign up here to join the fun!

To your dreams,

Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
www.ChangingCourse.com

 


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