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Fascinating Ways to Make a Living Doing What You Love May Be Closer Than You Think: Start Your Own Opportunity File and Open Your Mind to Endless Possibilities

By Valerie Young

You don’t have to look very far to find fascinating ways to turn interests into income. Opportunities are literally everywhere… if you’re looking, that is. It seems I can’t turn on the television or radio or open a magazine or newspaper without seeing at least one good business idea.

Maybe that’s why, one of my “passions into profits” clients said to me, “Boy, you sure have a lot of information in your head.” I appreciated the compliment, but he was only half right.

When you’ve been in the business of helping people change course for as long as I have, it’s only natural to know a lot about creative income streams. But most of them aren’t in my head – they’re in my Opportunity File!

What’s an Opportunity File?

Basically any time I happen upon an interesting story about someone who is making money doing what they love, I add it to a big file called Opportunities. If you don’t yet have an Opportunity File, I encourage you to set one up. It’s positively addicting!

For example, collecting is all the rage these days. After his grandfather died and left him his old wooden skis, Mark Miller began collecting vintage skis. Soon neighbors in his small hometown in New Hampshire started dropping off their old skis. Then Mark began buying skis at auctions. Before long, he had over 100 pair!

In 1994, he decided to turn his hobby into a business and moved himself and his collection to Park City, Utah, where he became a ski instructor. Today, Mark has the largest collection of antique winter sports equipment in the world. Two warehouses hold his collection of 3,000 pairs of skis, 2,000 pairs of snowshoes, 500 vintage sleds, and 400 pairs of wooden skates.

Increasingly, Mark’s collection comes from Europe where he managed to track down 500 pairs of American snow shoes used by the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II. The shoes were just sitting in an old barn in Turkey. Mark does all the refinishing work himself before selling his vintage finds through his web site at and through home décor shops in four western states.

Next is an article I spied in Fortune Small Business (FSB) magazine about hot franchises. I’m not usually very interested in franchises. I’ve got nothing against them mind you, it’s just hard for me to picture someone who wakes up in the morning excited about opening their own Subway or Jiffy Lube shop. (My friend Barbara Winter describes a franchise as “buying a job.”)

On the other hand, a franchise can be the ideal solution for someone who basically wants to run his or her own business but doesn’t want to build something from scratch. Besides, I’m a rabid recycler. So when I spotted an article about Canadian franchise entirely geared around turning trash into cash, I was even more interested in the story behind it.

Brian Scudamore got into the business of clearing out unwanted things from people’s basements, garages, attics and such when he was 19 and still in college. He bought an old truck for $700, and in an attempt to make his business sound bigger than it was, he named it Rubbish Boys. (Despite being the only rubbish boy, Brian was already thinking big). His business was so successful, he ended up dropping out of school to haul junk full time.

The junk hauling business itself is nothing new. But over time Brian got the bright idea of modernizing the business with uniformed drivers driving fancy trucks who show up when they say they will. So he decide to start a company called Got-Junk (think UPS but with junk pick up). Today this Vancouver-based company is one of the fastest growing franchises in North America.

Is there really that much money in junk? Got-Junk posts revenues system-wide in the tens of millions and has 300 locations Canada, the US, and Australia. And get this… Brian and/or his company have been on Oprah and Dr. Phil. Not bad for a former rubbish boy!

Do you want to work at something you truly love? Opportunities are all around you. Get a note pad and a file folder and start your own Opportunities File. Let it be a source of inspiration and ideas. And one of these days, the right opportunity will click for you.


A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

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