CHANGING COURSE BEGINS WITH A GREAT IDEA

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Is Fear Killing Your Dream?

Comic high angle portrait of a middle-aged businessman with a scThe closer you come to leaving the security of your 9-to-5 job to do your own thing, the greater your level of excitement… and fear.

Anyone who has ever ventured out of their safe little world will tell you they had doubts. Me included.

The thing is, when it comes to making a major life change, not only is a certain amount of fear normal, it’s actually helpful.

After all, there is a reason I named my business ChangingCourse.com and not Jump-off-a-Cliff.com.

The healthy part of fear is what will keep you from quitting your job in a huff before you’ve put some other things in place.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with fear before it permanently derails your dream of changing course.

Take it S-L-O-W

If you already have a business idea, the best way to manage the fear of venturing out on your own is to start small.

If the thought of just up and quitting your day job frightens you, start building your client base on the side.

Small rapid experiments are better than one huge step.

For instance, instead of dropping six figures on a franchise, you could get a job working for that, or a similar, business to see how you like it.

Or instead of buying a bed and breakfast, try becoming a bed and breakfast sitter.

Begin with low-risk steps and gradually work your way up to the harder stuff.

Laugh in the Face of Fear

Asian woman pointing and laughing at you, closeup portrait.Did I tell you I’m closing my Changing Course business to take a senior level position at a toxic chemical company in New York City? The job pays half what I earn now and requires a horrendous three hour commute.

Do you believe me? Of course not.

The reason you don’t is because the mind rejects that which it considers absurd.

Which makes ridiculing your fears a highly effective technique for managing them. That way, you allow your natural human reaction to absurdity to take over and dismiss them.

Try it yourself. Pick your biggest fear and take it to extremes.

Paralyzed by the fear of failure?

Then picture everyone you ever knew standing outside the homeless shelter you are now forced to live in, holding a sign that reads: “We Told You So!”

Pretty ridiculous, right?

When you realize that your worst-case fantasy is just that − a fantasy – making a proactive change can now feel far more manageable.

Calculate the Risk-Reward

Fear of the unknown keeps far too many people miserably locked in job jail.

It’s why my mantra for the last 20 years has been, information will set you free.

After all, the more you know going into something, the less there is to fear.

At least that’s what the 854+ people who signed up for my recent information-packed Paid to Brainstorm webinar discovered.

The vast majority were there because they were curious about becoming a licensed Profiting From Your Passions® Business Idea Generator.

ineedidea

What they discovered is the program hands “idea people” like them, a proven system to they can use to help future paying clients to connect the dots between:

  1. What they want their life to look
  2. The things they love to do
  3. And ways they can make money doing it.

Still, I know that training for this – or any new career – can trigger another fear: “What if I make the wrong choice?”

I totally get it.

Over the years I’ve had plenty of clients who’ve spent tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on their education only to realize they hate being a nurse, engineer, college professor, electrician….

Not so with my training.

For starters, considering everything you get with the Profiting From Your Passions® program, the cost to attend is surprisingly low. (And it’s even lower if you register soon.)

Still, let’s say you take the course and then decide you’d rather write children’s books and then make money helping others do the same like former student and friend Beau Blackwell did.

skyladderThen the worst case scenario is you’ll have mastered a system to instantly recognize income-generating opportunities – a skill you will use quite literally for the rest of their life.

If you missed the Paid to Brainstorm webinar, you can watch the Replay here.

Just go to  http://PaidToBrainstorm.com/webinar now.

Don’t wait long though, because the webinar replay is only available for another two days.

Also, for a very limited time, is your chance to save an additional $250 on the cost of registering for the upcoming Profiting From Your Passions® coach training.

Combine that savings with the Early Bird discount that ends Monday, July 20th and your total savings is $500.

VY-500

I don’t know about you, but as worse case scenarios go, learning how to turn your interests into income — seems like a pretty low risk for an exceedingly high reward!

The Best Solution of All

Several people who were on the webinar wanted to know the same thing:

How do I get over the fear of starting something new?

If you have the same question I’ll tell you what I told them:

Stop trying. Seriously.

With any change – even positive changes like a new job, relocating, starting a business – you should expect a certain amount of fear to just go with the territory.

So if you’re waiting until you’re no longer afraid to pursue this or any dream — nothing will ever change.

And do you really want look back on your life with a lot of regretful “what ifs…”?

Instead of worrying about the unknown risks, change the question from, “What will happen if I take this leap?” to “What will happen if I do nothing?”

Let’s face it – no matter what your dream – shaking up your life is scary.

As Tom Peters said, “Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.”

Remember, courage is not a matter of losing your fear so you can take action; courage comes from taking action. And that, in turn, helps you overcome your fear.

When you can act despite your fear, you will be rewarded many times over.

Life is short my friend. The thing you should be most afraid of, is doing nothing.


Most People Never Even THINK of This

lightbulbRight now 26,584 people subscribe to the Changing Course newsletter.

That alone tells me you probably want to find a way to be your own boss.

That might mean starting a business that can generate enough income to replace your current salary.

Or maybe you just want to supplement your retirement earnings or otherwise start a little side gig.

There’s just one little problem… you need a great idea!

Surprisingly most people fail to see the vast array of opportunities hiding in plain sight.

In fact, all you need to do is follow the trends!

  • Millennials are driving cars far less often than previous generations
  • More women are traveling internationally their own
  • Aging baby boomers… the so-called “silver tsunami”

Whenever something is increasing or decreasing in significant observable ways… you’ve got yourself a trend.

A trend that, IF you pay attention, can lead to an opportunity to make money doing what you love!

Here are three examples to get your wheels turning and kick your transition into self-bossing into high gear!

Trend #1 Rise in tainted imports

In a world where 3-year-olds play video games on their parent’s devices, it seems unlikely that the simple wooden toys of my youth would make a come-back.

But then a few years ago millions of toys manufactured in China were recalled due to lead paint and other dangerous chemicals.

Couple that crisis with the growing trend about product safety and voila!

Opportunity Knocks

planeAccording to an article in the New York Times, home-based wooden toy makers like Ron Voake of Vermont Wooden Toys can barely keep up and are hiring extra employees. “Every time there was a story about a recall,” said the 61-year-old Voake, “I got flooded with orders.”

Trend #2 Increasing Interest in All-Natural Products

Even when a product is considered safe, an increasing number of consumers are gravitating to organic and all-natural products.

Opportunity Knocks

Canadian parents and grandparents seeking all natural products can shop online at a family-business called by Nature.ca.

Started in 2004 by mother of three and long-time cloth diaper advocate Tamara Champion, the site sells a wide range of products like organic baby skin care line, cloth diapers… and wooden toys!

A big attraction for those who create or re-sell natural products is consumers will pay a premium for them.

auntieelsielogoI recently dropped $6 on a small package of Aunt Elsie’s Cookies at my local farmer’s market.

I did it despite my working class sensibilities saying, “Six bucks! Are you nuts?!”

So why did I buy? Because…

a) I like to support local entrepreneurs

b) I prefer all-natural, non-processed foods

c) They were a gift for my Dad,

d) I was really hungry… so sorry Dad

When I asked Aunt Elsie why she decided to start her business, her answer spoke directly to another trend… and opportunity!

Trend #3 People who want to do work that pays the bills… and feeds their soul

On Saturday I’m doing a live encore of an information-packed webinar for “idea people” called Paid to Brainstorm.

There’s a section of the webinar titled:


“Why Helping People Think Outside the Job Box Is the Next BIG Wave”

How can I make such a bold claim?

Because of the sheer number of trends that support it. Like the fact that:

  • half of survey respondents rated having a job they enjoy as “extremely important.”

  • 57 percent of Canadian women said they dream of launching a business doing “something they love.” (Bank of Montreal)

  • baby boomers aged 55 to 64 represent the most significant spike in people starting their own businesses in the US and Canada

There are SO many trends to support this claim that I put them all together in a handy free fact sheet www.PaidToBrainstorm.com/fact-sheet.

lightbulb

Trends can definitely stimulate a cool business idea. But they serve another purpose too.

Trends offer hope.

Hope that because researchers have proved that the marketplace is hungry for more funny dog videos… or are willing to spend more for natural products… or evidence that supports a need wherever your passion lies…

Then your dream of being your own boss really is achievable.

This hopefulness was clear from people who heard my talk on Wednesday

At the end of the presentation I asked people how they felt about their ability to use their creative mind to generate income.

Here’s just a small sampling of what your fellow change seekers said…

Tina – Inspired
Deborah – Confirmed
Kenny – Excited
Tina – Inspired
Clarissa – Curious and Hopeful
Butch – Courage
Deborah – Confirmed
Dori – Excited
Jennifer – Intrigued
Henry – JOY
Deana – Freedom
Gigi – Encouraged
Marsha – Validated-finally
Shaun – Not feeling flighty
Nicki – AUTHENTIC!!!!!!!!!!!
Rosalyn – Freedom
Henry – Fulfillment
Lynda – Transformation!

So if you want to find your great idea – and feel hopeful about being able to make it happen then get yourself a small note book and label it Trends = Ideas= Hope.

Then actively be on the look-out for the thousands of trends that can be the catalyst to your own brilliant small business idea – and life!

If what you read in the fact sheet spoke to you and you…

  • Are a creative problem solver who instinctively jumps in to help others  

  • Are always turning other people on to resources they never knew existed  

  • Constantly think up potential business ideas  

  • Love thinking creatively and “outside of the box” 

Then there’s still time to join me this Saturday, July 11th from noon-2PM ET for my LIVE Paid to Brainstorm encore.

That’s where I’ll personally share with you key elements of my proven system for connecting the dots between what you love to do… and how you can make money doing it.

This informational live session is FREE. Once you attend, check your email for a gift… just for showing up!

Share Your Ideas

Do you have a business idea based on a trend? Know about some trends that can help a fellow dreamer?

Share your ideas and stories below.


Avoid This Dream Crusher At All Costs

make your dreams come true - motivational slogan on a napkin witThis is a cautionary tale.

One that if heeded, will definitely help you to go from talking (and talking and talking and talking…) about being your own boss… to actually having your dream life.

Like many cautionary tales, this one starts with an encouraging one… and some advice.

The advice part is this: If you’re still looking for a money-making idea, you may not need to look any further than your own circle of family and friends.

In Kristen Bassick’s case that inspiration was her children – or little “sprouts” as she likes to call them.

Kristen wanted to find a natural way to treat her kid’s persistent dry skin.

After throwing away money at products that didn’t work her husband urged her to start her own line of all natural kid’s skin care products

stuff4sproutsToday Kristen is the proud owner of Stuff 4 Sprouts. Her company motto is to produce products with “Nothing weird. Nothing gross. Just good stuff for dry skin.”

I am particularly proud of Kristen because she attended one of my Work at What You Love workshops.

Take a moment to read this letter I received from Kristen and see what jumps out at you:

When I came to the seminar I was unhappy with my “job” and with an idea for a new business venture. 

But I was terrified by the idea of building a “business” with employees, and a building, and a manufacturing site…and all that stuff that just seemed like more than I wanted to take on.

Sitting there listening to all of the stories of micro-business owners, who didn’t have a “job” and didn’t have what I had initially thought that a “business” would need to be, opened my eyes to what was possible.

I launched my company after two years of putting all of the pieces into place.

Manufacturing is outsourced, distribution will be soon.  I work from my home office, available for all of the things in my actual life that demand my presence.

I was lucky to be on the receiving end of a well-timed downsizing/ severance at my corporate job and now have the chance to move
Stuff for Sprouts to the next level. Life is good and my new jobless job is so completely cool I just had to share!

Got “Grass Is Greener” Syndrome?

grassisgreenerThere’s nothing safer than staying miserably where you are.

And, one of the best ways to play it safe is to come up with a litany of excuses about why dream making is always “easier” for the next person.

I call it the “Grass is Always Greener” Syndrome.

For instance, did you zero in on the line about Kristen’s well-timed severance package and thought…

“Hey, I could start my own business too if I had money coming in from a severance package!”

If so, did you also see the line about spending two years putting all the pieces into place?

I’ve worked with my share of desperate people who received a full year – sometimes two – of unemployment checks.

They had income and they had all the time in the world to find and launch a business idea.

But instead they waited until they had just one month of severance pay to act.

Money-In-Glass-jarThen they called me in full out panic to schedule a Find My Perfect Business session, terrified they were going to have to find another mind-numbing j-o-b.

There are plenty of other people out there with either the time or the money to start their own thing.

But because they are too afraid… or they lack confidence… or they don’t know where to begin, or all of the above, they do nothing.

Kristen did something. And so can you.

As the American judge who served as the first United States Secretary of Education Shirley Hufstedler once said, “If you play it safe in life, you’ve decided that you don’t want to grow anymore.

If you are tired of coming up with reasons why you can’t leave your safe but ultimately soul-sucking job then do something about it.

When you finally do get the entrepreneurial ball rolling, you’ll find it’s hard to stop.

Besides, as Hufstedler put it, “Security is not the meaning of my life. Great opportunities are worth the risks.

Tomorrow I’m offering a free informational Webinar called Paid to Brainstorm: Why Helping People Think Outside the Job Box is the Next Big Wave.

If you…

  • Are you a creative problem solver who instinctively jumps in to help others?
  • Are you always turning other people on to resources they never knew existed?
  • Do you constantly think up potential business ideas?
  • Do you love thinking creatively and “outside of the box”?


If you answered YES to any of these questions, I urge you to join me and the 430 people (and counting) who have already registered.

The webinar is free, but you do need to register. Then look for an email about your free gift just for showing up!

Your Story Matters

Is the “Grass Is Always Greener” Syndrome undermining your dream? If so, how? Share your story in the comments below!


Still Searching for the Perfect
Business Idea? How to Brainstorm
Your Way Out of Job Jail

manwithlightbulbAnyone who knows me knows, I LOVE brainstorming cool business ideas.

And with next week’s informational webinar on How to Get Paid to Brainstorm fast approaching, I’m even more obsessed than normal with the topic.

In fact, as soon as the webinar hit 200 sign ups, I knew I had to make July unofficial Business Idea Brainstorming Month!

So in celebration of both that – and Independence Day here in the US – I figure it’s the perfect time to gather with friends and family to help you gain your own independence from job jail!

The Power of Brainstorming and Why Two Minds (Or Three or Ten!) Are Better Than One 

The whole concept of brainstorming has been around for so long, it may just seem like common sense.

In fact, the notion of gathering people together to encourage them to come up with wild and crazy ideas was actually invented by an advertising executive back in the 1950s!

Fortunately, today brainstorming is used everywhere as a powerful solution finding tool for groups and individuals.

And for anyone seeking the perfect business idea, brainstorming definitely has benefits. That’s because brainstorming:

  • leverages the brainpower of every participant, each bringing their own unique experiences to the group
  • shakes up our accustomed ways of thinking and clears the way for new ideas that otherwise might never see the light of day
  • allows group members to shed their usual inhibitions, communicate freely, and generate off-the-wall, innovative ideas 

Added bonus: Researchers find that fast and varied thinking causes people to experience elevated mood and energy levels.

In plain English: Brainstorming actually makes you happy too!

10 Ways to Have Productive – and Fun – Business Idea Brainstorming Session 

ineedidea1) Appoint a facilitator. As fun as brainstorming can be… some people can get pretty excited or (defensive) about their business ideas.

This first tip is optional. But still it never hurts to have a neutral facilitator whose job is to keep the idea generation moving and on topic.

2) Establish a time frame and stick to it. People can only stay focused for so long, so limit sessions to no more than an hour. Remember, shorter is better!

3) Begin with a specific outcome in mind. Instead of trying to find answers to the question: “How can I make a living without a job-job?” focus on a specific outcome like, “How can I turn my passion for [fill in the blank] into income?” Doing so will save time, keep people focused, and yield more useful ideas.

4) Set an idea target. I once participated in a brainstorming exercise where one group was told to list as many birds as they could. The other group was instructed to list 30 birds. The group without a target stopped at around 18. But the group who was given a numerical target met and exceeded their goal.

The lesson for aspiring escape artists: Be even more specific by asking the group to come up with 20 ways you could paid to write, make art, serve others, or whatever your passion.

5) Combine group and individual brainstorming: Studies have shown that combining the two is far more effective at generating ideas than group brainstorming alone.

That’s because allowing time for people to think and learn about the topic on their own before the session begins produces better results.

6) One person speaks at a time. When you have a great idea it can be hard to contain yourself.

But when people talk over each other, a great idea can get missed! So breath and remember that everyone will get their turn to talk.

7) No judgments! Okay so maybe you’re pretty confident you’re not going to be invited to be a pitcher in the major leagues. So what? The whole idea of brainstorming is to make people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, no matter how weird or unlikely.

The more accepting the group, the better the ideas will flow. Too much judgment and analysis at this stage kills creativity.

8) Encourage off-the-wall ideas. Those crazy ideas are where creative quantum leaps come from. They’re the true expression of where our imaginations take us before we start nitpicking.

And big ideas that seem impossible at first may lead eventually to revolutionary new thoughts.

9) Build on other people’s ideas. Be positive and encouraging. Say “Yes, and…” not “Yes, but…”

So instead of “Yes, but you’ll need a lot of money to open a B&B…” or “Yes, but you don’t have space for an art studio…” or “Yes, but don’t have any coaching experience…”

You want to say, “Yes, and I’m sure we can figure out a way to fund your dream… find a space… help you gain experience.”

10) Quantity over quality. Nobel Prize winning scientist and humanitarian Linus Pauling got it right when he said,The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”-

The whole point of brainstorming is to generate as many new ideas as possible and crank them out quickly. You can sort them out at the end of the session and build on the best ones.

Opportunity Knocks  

lightbulbAnd if in the process of your brainstorming session you discover you…

  • love thinking outside the job box
  • are constantly coming up with neat business ideas
  • are forever turning other people on to cool resources…

Then I encourage you to join me and hundreds of your fellow “idea people” from around the globe to discover how you too can get paid to do what comes naturally!

To learn more and register for this free webinar go to Paid to Brainstorm.


The Secret to Finding a GREAT Business Idea

bigstock-Blueprint-of-bulb-lamp-Styliz-58749746The Nobel Prize winning scientist and humanitarian Linus Pauling said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

After all, the more paths you have to get where you want to go, the better your odds of getting there.

In fact, in my two decades at Changing Course I’ve found that next to fear, the biggest thing keeping people trapped in job jail is lack of ideas.

And that’s a shame.

Because if your dream is to have a portable business so you can live and work from anywhere…

Or if you crave ditching the cubicle to work from home as I do…

Or if you want to find a way you to get paid for your creativity or your writing…

Or you otherwise want to be your own boss – then a great idea is your ticket to freedom.

For instance, last week I posted seven unique ways you – or someone – could cash in on the booming wedding industry.

I say “someone” because the fact is it’s always easier to come up with ideas for other people.

Which is actually very good news.

Because if you search only for cool business ideas for yourself, then you run the very real risk that opportunity will pass you by.

Let me explain…

Why You Need To Be An Idea Junkie

If you opted to skip the wedding article because you have zero interest in a wedding-themed business – then you are missing not only the point but you are also potentially missing the boat to freedom.

fearThat’s because when you only look for ideas for yourself, then you’re far more apt to hit a wall.

Maybe it’s the “That will never work” wall…

Or, the “I can’t make enough money doing that” wall…

Or, the “But I don’t have any experience” wall…

Sound familiar?

But when you get in the habit of seeing money-making opportunities unrelated to your unique gifts or interests, you are fearless.

And because there are no walls, you’re more receptive to possibility.

Knowing that things are possible, you’ll also see how one great idea can lead to another!

And before long, you’ll find the perfect path for you.

Share the Wealth

Ideas are meant to be shared.

Thankfully, many of your fellow travelers on the road to right livelihood not only read the wedding article, but they know how fun it can be to brainstorm with others – if even virtually.

dollarinhandFive generous souls took up the Brainstorm Nation challenge and posted their own money-making ideas for all of us.

Handy with a sewing machine? Debra suggests you could make custom bridal headpieces, purses, garters, and ring bear pillows.

Lee Ann Vermeulen-Roberts from Holland by way of California took a different approach.

Being a singer, songwriter, musician, and creativity coach herself, Lee Ann naturally came up with performing live music (singing or instrumental) during the ceremony itself or being a DJ at reception.

Once you have a great idea, you need to know where to start.

So building on the helpful resources already in the article Debbie DiClaudio Orwat from Colorado posted:

If you want to be a wedding planner PlannersLounge.com has a lot of free information and articles on getting started.

Finally, for Denise Washington the wedding theme was personal – and timely!

If you have a knack for finding bargains, and you enjoy entertaining on the cheap, Denise shared a great idea for a profitable and FUN niche.

brideYou see Denise is getting married on July 24th and wisely she is doing her wedding on a budget.

So she knows first-hand that some people can or choose to drop $50,000 to well over a million dollars on their wedding, for others there is a real need for budget wedding planners and coordinators who know how to put on an event for $15K or less that still looks nice.

And Debbie adds, there is also a need for wedding planners/coordinators who specialize in showing people how to do-it-yourself (DIY) regarding flowers, dresses, decorations, and the like.

But our bride-to-be didn’t stop there. Denise generously offered not one, not two, but NINE more income-generating ideas!

1. Wedding vows writer
2. Graphic designer for programs, invites, placeholders, etc.
3. Wedding toasts writer
4. Engagement and/or wedding scrapbook (digital or printed) creator
5. Wedding day video production
6. Engagement story video production
7. Silk flowers floral arrangements and bouquets
8. Specialty garter belts
9. Offbeat wedding coordinator (roller derby, superheroes, zombie)

You see there truly is no shortage of ways to make money doing what you love!

Tap A Tribe of Idea Generators

freshideasStill I know there are lots more ways to cash in on the booming wedding industry. And when it comes to brainstorming, more brains are always better than one!

And who better to tap than people who get paid to come up with neat business ideas?

So I headed over to the private Facebook page for graduates of the Profiting From Your Passions® coach training to get their thoughts.

Cathy Summers of Inspired 4 Life Coaching in the UK also had a musical idea. But instead of singing at the ceremony, she suggested organizing an entire chorus.

childrenschoirWhen I read Cathy’s pitch to the happy couple to “hire your own chorus of angels,” I thought hmmm, wouldn’t it be interesting to organize a children’s choir! You make money as the organizer and the kids learn the value of earning their own money too.

For planner types, Cathy also suggested hanging out your shingle as a travel planner to design and run local excursions and otherwise manage travel for out of town guests.

Someone who knows a lot about weddings is Tim Grover the Career Optioneer at Changing Life Bulbs. That’s because for 25 years prior to changing course, Tim owned his own DJ service.

Since leaving the business, he’s observed a few new trends other aspiring DJs could offer. Like playing music videos in the background, bringing in a live drummer (presumably to give more of a live feel to recorded music), and providing tambourines and cowbells for guests to get into the act.

Finally, building on Denise’s pre-wedding video ideas, LA-based Solo-Entrepreneurship coach Susan Baker of EscapeHatcher.com wrote:

…my hubby is an editor and I have a background as a producer so our wedding video was editing together and interspersed with in depth interviews with both of us as well as b-roll [background shots or video of the couple] – I suspect this would be a huge hit with other couples.

Turns out Dr. Pauling was right.

The best way to have a good idea truly IS to have lots of ideas – and a Tribe of idea generators in your corner doesn’t hurt either!

It’s why I chose as my company motto: Changing Course begins with a great idea.

Armed with an idea you then need the courage to act on it.

If fear is holding you back, you’re in luck!

Keep your eye out on Monday for a great article on courage by another graduate of the Profiting From Your Passions® program — Redesign Strategist Peggy Fall of RedesignYourLife.com.

And if you love coming up with small business ideas like Cathy, Tim, Susan, and Peggy, stay tuned!

Summer School for the Profiting From Your Passions® training program begins in July.

For more information on this first and only class for people who want to get paid to brainstorm sign up here now to get on the early notification list.

Join the Brainstorm Nation Family! 

Do you have additional ideas for self-bossers who want to break into the wedding business?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post!

Don’t use Facebook? Just scroll to the bottom of this page to post your ideas!


Want to Live Happily Ever After? Start a Wedding Business!

Placing_a_wedding_ringWith all the talk from some about how marriage is “under siege,” you’d think it was a dying institution. Nonsense!

In fact, the wedding industry is booming. And with 2.5 million weddings being celebrated last year, there’s never been a better time to launch a business catering to happy couples!

So how did an industry that’s been around for over a century become red hot again?

Demographics and Cultural Shifts = Opportunity

Part of the credit goes to the Millennial Generation, or what statisticians call “Baby Boom 2.0.”

Since the late 1980s, the US birth rate has surpassed 4 million a year, the threshold that is officially considered a baby boom. The first wave of this demographic group is now in their mid to late 20s so just entering the marriage market.

Another major shift is marriage equality.

Currently more than 70 percent of the US population lives in jurisdictions where same sex-couples can legally marry.

And 19 countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland – outright acknowledge same-sex marriage.

moneytreeThis seismic shift in social attitudes toward the GLBT community has a huge financial upside.

In the first year of legalization alone, gay couples made up 17% of the total weddings in Washington State. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, same-sex weddings infused $39 million into Washington’s economy – and that only includes couples who actually reside in the state.

Both same-sex couples and Millennials are statistically a little older when they marry and thus have higher incomes.

That means they have a bigger budget to spend on all the bells and whistles – fancy catering, posh venues, and other amenities.

They’re also more likely to want a unique wedding that expresses their personal values and interests.

And current or aspiring small business owners are perfectly positioned to reap the benefits, especially if you can offer a niche service or product.

You already know the obvious ones… wedding photographers, florists, and caterers.

If any of these float your boat, there’s always room for talented people to join in the fun.

In fact, if you’re highly organized, love managing projects, and are a romantic at heart you can train to become a certified wedding planner. Click here for a list of schools.

At the same time there are lots of other, less obvious ways you can grab your share of the $100 billion wedding industry.

Maybe one of these 7 ideas may be your perfect full or side-line business:

  1. Wedding tableDay-of-Event Coordinator – If you are highly organized but don’t want the responsibility of organizing an entire wedding consider hanging out your shingle as a Day-of-Event Coordinator.
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    Unlike a traditional wedding planner, a Day-of-Event Coordinator specializes in running the show on the big day, making sure things run smoothly and preventing wedding-day disasters.
  1. Wedding Officiant – A number of online interfaith organizations will ordain you as a minister, entitling you to legally perform marriage ceremonies.
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    At WeddingOfficiants.com I learned you can make up to $1,000 for a single wedding. During the busy summer season you could easily officiate two or more weddings a week. Cha-ching!Obviously prices vary regionally. When I entered my zip code I found local officiant Amanda Brown whose fees to preside over a wedding and write the service start at $550.There’s more to officiating weddings than understanding scripture or asking objectors to speak now or forever hold their peace.Which is why, it may be worthwhile for you to check out the training offered by the Celebrant Institute. (A very outside the box idea itself – and one with room for competition… from you!)Using Amanda’s fee as an example, the $2,400 you’d pay to be trained by the Celebrant Institute would be recouped after officiating just four weddings.

    Plus you can deduct the cost of the training as a business expense. Sweet!

    And for couples who are outside your geographic range or for do-it-yourselfers, you could always follow Amanda’s wise example and create a Do It Yourself (DIY) course on UDEMY on how to write your own wedding ceremony.

  1. Same-Sex Wedding Consultant –That means the demand for wedding consultants who know the ropes for same-sex couples is skyrocketing.
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    A same-sex wedding expert can recommend officiants and venues for the ceremony and can refer the couple to specific vendors who are gay-friendly.Live in a state or country that bans gay marriages? Remember, problem = opportunity.In these locations you could perhaps specialize in destination weddings and “Elopement Packages,” including travel, accommodations, and touring.
  1. "Dancing lesson 16507650" by Jerry Daykin from Cambridge, United Kingdom, upload by Herrick - IMG_0975. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dancing_lesson_16507650.jpg#/media/File:Dancing_lesson_16507650.jpgPrivate Dance Lessons – Have a background in dance? More and more people are seeking out instructors for private classes for the couple (or perhaps a group class for the wedding party) who want to make a big impression when they hit the dance floor at the reception.
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    Here again prices vary.In pricey London it appears you can fetch £80 for a single hour to as much as £495 for more sessions. (In dollars that’s around $89-$550).For the same number of lessons in Billings, Montana you can ask $48-$335.
  1. Pre-Wedding Boot Camp – Everyone wants to look their best for the big event. Services offered might include fitness training, teeth whitening, skin treatments, and hair removal.
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    If you don’t have the skills or licensing to provide hair and makeup services on the actual wedding day then partner with practitioners who can.
  1. Start a Wedding Website – If you’re tech savvy then create a website as an aggregator for wedding information and tips and/or to match couples with local vendors.
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    The vendors pay a fee to be on the site and you can earn more cash as an affiliate or by accepting ads.
  1. Close Up Of Detail On Wedding Breakfast Dining Table Setting WitCreate a coordinated wedding themeNot just old-fashioned stationery – more like personalized branding complete with a custom wedding theme for stationery, table linens, even decorative banners.

Thanks to social and cultural shifts, the wedding industry is hot again. And with such a wide range of opportunities, there’s something for every aspiring entrepreneur.

Join the Brainstorm Nation Family! 

Do you have additional ideas for self-bossers who want to break into the wedding business?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post!

Don’t use Facebook? Just scroll to the bottom of this page to post your ideas!


7 Ways to Cash In On the College Market

students

I just returned from on a whirlwind 5-city speaking tour in beautiful British Columbia.

Coincidentally, my topic – the impostor syndrome – was also a major theme of actress Natalie Portman’s Commencement address at her alma mater, Harvard.

May is the time when millions of students graduate from college.

And if you want to be your own boss, May should also be the time when you start thinking about creative ways to tap the college market.

Within a 10 mile radius of my home are three Ivy League colleges, a small super expensive private college, and a large state university.

If you live near a college you know how much the student population contributes to your local economy.

If you want to be your own boss, then these same students can boost your personal economy as well!

There are lots of ways to profit from the lucrative student or faculty market. Here are 7 ideas to get you started.

Sell to Parents

Conventional business wisdom says to avoid a target market that lacks a lot of disposable income. When it comes to college students however, you’ll want to ignore that rule.

For one, there are plenty of students attending elite schools who have money to spend.

More importantly, there will always be parents with both the desire and the financial means to provide every advantage for their pampered offspring.

So let’s begin with ideas aimed primarily at parents of current or college bound students.

1. Private admissions consultant Competition at elite colleges and universities is fierce. So much so that according to USA Today, there’s a huge surge in parents are willing to plunk down as much as $3,000 for a “private admissions consultant” to assist with their kids’ college application. How huge? In 2013, 26% of applicants to Stanford University hired a consultant – triple the number from just a decade earlier.

Man underwear2. Student concierge Wealthy parents are eager to eliminate anything that might otherwise distract their child from his or her studies. Enter Lana Drew’s Student Concierge Service.

Parents of students attending elite Brown University and other colleges in Providence, Rhode Island tap Lana’s “Lifestyle Management” services to do anything from moving into dorms to handling dry cleaning and laundry to installing a sound system. Her company even has doctors, attorneys, and bankers on call to assist her client’s offspring as needed.Clearly aimed at wealthy parents who will gladly pay to give their kid every possible advantage, Lana’s concierge services start at a whopping $2,500 a semester and can go much higher.

3. Care package creator  CarePackages.com understands that virtually all parents (and grandparents) want to make college life a little easier – and fun. The site offers an assortment of care packages for different occasions like new students, final exam period and Sample cpa exam questions, or graduation.There’s definitely room in this space for you to put together your own care packages of healthy snacks or junk food, toys, birthday cakes, funny t-shirts, gift certificates to a local yoga studio, iTunes… get creative!

duster-with-glove_M11i8PKu4. Dorm cleaning service – College janitorial services are typically limited to bathrooms, hallways, and other public areas. A lot of students with dorm or fraternity/sorority rooms that resemble those in the film Animal House would love to hire someone to clean up.

Since they’re small, dorm rooms can be cleaned quickly. And if parents aren’t willing to cover the cost then suite occupants may be willing to split it.

If you don’t want to do the actual cleaning yourself then build on the Dorm Mom app model and find local students to do the work.

5. Tutor If you’re knowledgeable in a particular academic subject, earn money helping a struggling student pass a class. If you’re targeting undergraduates, marketing-wise you may want to target the paying parent, it may be the parent footing the bill.

When I was studying for the Graduate Entrance Exam (GRE) I personally hired a math tutor to help me brush up on my algebra and geometry.

So don’t forget to tap all those students either applying for advanced degree programs or who need to pass final licensing exams also need help preparing for the various examinations.

If you don’t want to deal with promoting your services yourself then sign up with a clearing house like Take Lessons. Algebra tutors on their site get paid $15-$35 for 30 minutes of tutoring.

Push pin on sudy text6. Coach ADD/ADHD/autistic students – Most schools have on-site professionals to assist with students with a variety of special needs including attention deficit and/or hyperactivity or autism.

That said, there’s plenty of room for customized private coaching for those students who need one-to-one help to negotiate the maze of university bureaucracy, deal with the social and academic demands of college, manage money, stay fit, and juggle laundry and other chores new to many young people out on their for the first time.

Parents are already paying through the nose for tuition. What’s another $200-$500 a month to ensure their son or daughter graduates?

7. Career advising for lost students – Imagine spending a small fortune on your kid’s tuition only to have him or her drop out, flunk out, or graduate but still be utterly directionless.

My friends Tim and Martha were dismayed when their daughter Katie flunked out of her pricey private high school. So they sent her to a private career counselor.

In addition to doing a bunch of testing, the counselor arranged for Katie to spend a month with a volunteer organization in Latin America as well as other experiential outings.

The bill… $3,000 plus the cost of travel!

Once again, you don’t need to be the one providing the counseling. You just need to find the counselors and promote and manage the business.

With 21 million college students in the US and another 1.7 in Canada, there’s ample opportunity to cash in on students — and their paying parents.

And since college doesn’t start up again until the fall, that gives you a full three months to start putting your ideas in place. So… what are you waiting for? Your future profit center is waiting for you!

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have another idea for tapping the lucrative college market? Share it with your fellow Changing Course change seekers here!

If you don’t use Facebook, just scroll down to post there.

The best idea will receive a FREE copy of Being Realistic is Killing Your Dream (a $19 value)


How to Cash in on a Trend… And This is No Game

Chess against grunge background

By far one of the best ways to come up with a cool – and profitable – business idea is to pay attention to trends.

For example, if you spend much time on public transportation, in coffee shops, or other public places you’ll see people of all of ages compulsively playing Angry Birds or other games on their devices. (I am an admitted Solitaire junkie!)

But did you know there’s a huge surge in the popularity of good old fashioned board games like Monopoly or Dungeons and Dragons?

According to a recent segment on NBC news, board game sales increased 10 percent in 2014. Sales of the childhood favorite Operation are up a whopping 40 percent!

Fueling this increase is another trend — the growing desire to unplug from our devices and connect on a more personal level.

Some entrepreneurial souls are cashing in on the board game trend in a big way. And with a little creative thinking, so can you.

Cup Of Coffee And A Couple Of Cookies Making A Welcome BreakTake for instance, the aspiring entrepreneurs from Gold Ira Company Glendale, CA who launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to open a game-themed café. It took just two months to raise the funds to open GameHaus Café.

Besides enjoying the wide-ranging menu of drinks and casual fare, for a $5 cover charge customers can access over 900 board games. The café also hosts events like International Table Top day at a cost of $15 for the day.

Other game bars and cafes like The Uncommon in population dense New York City are heavily events driven with specific dates and times regularly reserved for lovers of chess, Star Trek, and other games.

Even though they’re in a pricier area, The Uncommon also charges just $5 a head. Undoubtedly, the owners know the games are a way to bring the customers in. The real money is made on the food and beverage side.

The mark up on coffee alone explains why it’s known in the restaurant industry as “black gold.”

Still, when you consider 100-200 people at 5 bucks that’s an additional $500 to $1,000 a day in revenue! Even if they pull in that many people over the course of an entire week, you’re looking at $26,000-$52,000 annual profit just on the cover charge. Not bad for a one-time purchase of a bunch of board games.

Opportunity Knocks

moneytreeExamples of location-specific businesses like these are ripe with opportunities for people who want to change course. After all, being a brick and mortar operation means they can’t be everywhere. So unless these café owners plan to offer franchises, anyone can replicate or modify what is now a tested business model.You can now even get some of the best coupon deals online and save money with it.

You could of course open your own bar or café. But if you’re looking for a more modest investment or something that doesn’t require you to be tethered for hours on end to a physical location, there are other potential options.

Set Up a Board Game Events Company I can see a lot of restaurant or coffee shop owners loving this idea but not having the time or energy to set it up.

What if you purchase a bunch of new or used board games to rent out to restaurants looking to host their own events?

To earn even more, provide a done-for-you service that, in addition to publicizing the event, includes board game delivery and set up. For a more engaging experience (at an additional charge), include MC services where you lead quirky contests complete with equally quirky prizes.

The restaurant or café gets the additional food and drink revenue and you keep the cover charge.

Whether you offer your services to existing businesses OR you rent out space to host your own events, consider offerings specific to different demographics groups. For instance:

Singles: What better way to meet a potential romantic partner than at a low pressure environment like board game night? In addition to lots of laughter, you definitely learn a lot about a person based on how they play individually competitive games like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Battleship or a team game like Pictionary or Taboo. Be sure to bring name tags for this one.

Single Parents: The kids get to meet and have no-tech fun with their peers. The parents get a much needed break playing games or conversing with other adults. For single parents who need to get employee, business, or school related work done you can set up workstations with printers.

Rent out Saturday mornings at a dinner-only restaurant, a childcare center, or other space. Set up a cereal buffet bar for the kids and maybe some children’s films for the toddlers and you’ve got yourself a great weekend business.

Family playing board gameFamily Game Night: Pizza for the kids… a glass of beer or wine event for the adults…  What could be more fun? If your venue does not have a liquor license check with your local officials to see if a “bring your own” permit is available where you live. Or host an alcohol free event.

There could be college student, young professionals unplug, or new guy or gal in town night. Game days for kids with special needs or corporate team building events. Afternoon events aimed at retirees. Even bring your dog to game day complete a supervised romper room for canine play.

Once you start thinking outside the job box you’ll quickly see the possibilities are truly endless!

Finally, for the record, you can still tap into this trend without organizing events. That’s what the founders of Board Game Quest did.

The site began as a simple blog. It was a way says founder and avid gamer known simply as Tony to, “play games, post reviews and session reports, and maybe encourage others to discover something new.” [Wonder if the reason Tony and the other staffers don’t use last names is because they’re in the process of changing course from having a job-job to being full-time self-bossers…]

However, like so many enterprises that started out small, things grew from there. Today Board Game Quest features weekly board game reviews, news, interviews with game designers, and information on upcoming board game related Kickstarter campaigns.

That’s why its so important not to wait until you’ve got it all figured out. Instead just jump in and be open to where your business takes you!

The key is to stay alert to trends. When you find one that peeks your interest, look for proven — or creative — ways to build a business around it.

Join the “Brainstorm Nation” Family!

When it comes to ways to make a living without a j-o-b, lots of heads are always better than one!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post including other interesting ways someone could turn similar interests into income! (Non-Facebook users, scroll down to the comment section.)


25 Cool Business Ideas for Introverts

Shy Bold Signpost Means Introvert Or ExtrovertWhen you picture a successful entrepreneur, you probably imagine someone with an outgoing, talkative personality. The kind of person who loves to socialize and meet new people.

The person you probably don’t picture is someone who is quiet, who becomes overwhelmed and exhausted by noisy environments, or avoids spending too much time around other people, especially large groups.

So where does that leave the stereotypical shy, socially reserved introvert who wants to start a business?

Better off than you think!

For starters, most experts see introversion/extraversion as a spectrum with few people at the extremes. Instead most of us fall closer to the middle. What about you?

Take the Quiz: Are You An Introvert?

  • Do you feel exhausted after an evening out with a lot of people (like at a party or networking event)?
  • Do you find you really need quiet time alone, for example, just reading, meditating, listening to music, or watching TV?
  • Do you tend to prefer to socialize in a very small group (just a couple close friends)?
  • Do you find it difficult to initiate a conversation with a stranger?
  • Do you label yourself (or do other people label you) as shy or quiet or socially inept?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you’re probably closer to the introvert end of the spectrum. But that doesn’t mean you’re not cut out to start your own business.

Hugely successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett are not the kind of guys you’d find chatting it up at a party. And there are plenty of actors, professional speakers, and other performers who can “do” extrovert but are in fact quite introverted – myself included!

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s important to know yourself and where your energy lies. In fact, think of your energy like a battery; if you are an extrovert your batteries are charged by social interaction, if you are an introvert your batteries will be drained.

That means you need to play to your strengths and get help in the areas where you’re weaker. For example, if you are an extreme introvert, you may prefer to run a home-based business rather than founding a company that requires you to interact with employees.

Or if you really do want to build an empire then like Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffets then just know you’ll probably need to partner or hire an extrovert who loves the social stuff.

25 Small Business Ideas for Introverts

As an introvert it’s important to find the right business for you.

For instance, an online business where you sell new or used products or where you create and sell information products (written materials, audio downloads, etc.), can be a great fit for introverts because it allows all the freedom, control, and income of self-bossing with less of the frequent people contact that you find so draining.

Another benefit to a web-based business is you get to use your online interactions and presence to determine the persona the world sees. So you can be reserved Rachel or Rick at home and Rock Star Rachel or Rick in your business!

But selling stuff online is not your only option. Here are 25 other ideas that are well suited to people who enjoy solitude:

  1. Webmaster or IT consultant
  2. Artist
  3. Graphic design
  4. Photography
  5. Copywriter (using words to sell a product or service or to promote causes)
  6. Fiction writing (romance, novels, etc.)
  7. Blogger
  8. Genealogy
  9. Social media consultant
  10. Editing and/or proofreading
  11. Web designer
  12. Craft-related businesses
  13. Creating patterns: Sewing, knitting, woodworking
  14. Creating software or apps
  15. Woodworking
  16. Cooking/baking
  17. Clothing designer
  18. Working with animals
  19. Growing and selling flowers, vegetables, and/or herbs
  20. Errand service
  21. Translating
  22. Bookkeeping
  23. Fixing things: Cars, appliances, clothes alterations, broken pottery, antique clocks/watches
  24. Making things better: Custom cars, motorcycles, campers, etc.
  25. Building things: Furniture, boats, decks, etc.

Success Strategies for the Introvert Entrepreneur

Once you find your perfect business, you need to take action. To help ensure your success you’ll want to follow these simple strategies:

  • Find your passion. Your enthusiasm for your business can help you overcome your reluctance toward social interaction because you’re so eager to share it with the world.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Introverts may have social issues to overcome, but they have a knack for seeing the big picture and focusing on the important details.
  • Know what drains and energizes you. If you know that client meetings, long phone calls, or networking events drain you, try to schedule your day to include blocks of time for things that recharge your batteries like listening to music, meditation, reading, or even watching TV or playing a video game.
  • Automate and delegate. When you’re juggling a lot of balls it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Create systems and automation that will allow you to remove people from the equation – i.e., eliminate the need for employees, for making personal phone calls, etc. And where you can’t eliminate it, delegate heavily people tasks to a Virtual Assistant (VA) or others who are more extroverted.
  • Seek out other introverted entrepreneurs. This may sound counterintuitive, but a fellow introvert is more likely to understand where you’re coming from and is more likely to respect your social boundaries. Having other like-minded entrepreneurs around you – even if only virtually via social media– will also give you more confidence
  • Step out of your comfort zone. Finally, you may be an introvert but if you want to be your own boss then you still need to stretch yourself. Join a Toastmasters club to conquer your fear of public speaking. If you must attend a networking event set a goal of talking to just four people.

To this last point, you may even choose a business precisely because it pushes you to talk to strangers.

For example, according to International Living magazine editor Jen Stevens, one of the many great things about travel writing is it gives introverts a built-in excuse for initiating conversations with owners of inns, shops, cafes and others along the journey who can add value to your article.

(As an aside: If you’d like to learn how to become a travel writer, I highly recommend The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.)

With so many ways today to build a small business, to communicate with clients and customers, and to make business connections without ever venturing into public, you don’t need to be bigger, louder, funnier, or more charming to build a successful business.

Instead, be true to yourself, find the right business for you, and then take action!

Join the “Brainstorm Nation” Family!

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, when it comes to ways to make a living without a j-o-b, lots of heads are always better than one!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, including any ideas you have for the introvert entrepreneur! (Non-Facebook users, scroll down to the comment section.)


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