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The Biggest Regret of All May Surprise You

Regrets are an inevitable part of life. Fortunately not all regrets are created equal.

Some regrets are minor.

You regret buying those too tight shoes just because they were on sale….

Or picking up the phone as you were trying to leave the office….

Or ordering the fish when everyone in your party is raving about the pasta.

The good news?

Regrets like these (often referred to as “First World problems”) are ones we can learn from and hopefully, minimize the chance of repeating.

Utmost regrets, on the other hand, are more problematic because the consequences are so much bigger.

Utmost regrets, are also more difficult – and sadly, sometimes even impossible to reverse.

worryI’m referring to the kinds of things you’d absolutely hate to know would one day be etched on your headstone.

Vivian could have been a great writer, if she’d tried.

Sam could have changed a lot of lives, if he’d had the courage to act on his idea.

Ordering the fish is one thing. Bailing on your dream of helping unadoptable kids or entering a writing contest is quite another.

Elizabeth Berg learned a lot about dreams. However, she learned even more about regrets while working as a nurse with terminally ill people.

In an article titled, Dreams Are Not Enough, the award-winning novelist wrote movingly about how not pursuing our dreams may be the riskiest move of all.

It is a lesson she learned from those whose time had almost run out.

Those dying people I cared for believed, as most of us do, that they would have time for everything. So they put things off… Then suddenly their days were almost gone. They were out of the time they thought they would have forever. And while I bathed them, they stared out the window and talked about what they had missed. They might say, ‘I always wanted to see Hawaii, but… I don’t know. I never did.’ The sense of regret was so strong that we both ached. I wanted to lift those people up out of bed, put them in a wheelchair, and take them to the airport. ‘Hawaii, please,’ I wanted to tell the ticket agent.

Everyone has dreams, sadly far too often they get put on hold.

Asking, and then answering her own question, Berg writes:

“What happens to our dreams? They die of lack of nourishment, that’s what. ‘Later,’ we say, and when we turn around, they’re gone.”

The Worry Factor

According to many of the 1,200 elders who took part in Cornell University’s Legacy Project, there is a powerful link between regret about the past and worry in the present.

When asked what they most regret when they look back on their lives, the answer most often given was they wished they hadn’t worried so much.

The way 102-year-old Eleanor sees it,

You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and your life, really…. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping. So the most important thing is one day at a time.

And 87-year-old James Huang agrees…

Why? I ask myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong? When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe.

The thing that takes a lot of people by surprise is this.

regretnothingWe waste our lives worrying about the “unknown risks” that change can bring, when in reality we should be more scared of the known risk of spending the rest of lives in the same place we are today.

If we fail to at least try to create the life we really want, we risk making good on Benjamin Disraeli’s often quoted prediction that “most people die with their music still locked up inside them.”

The sudden loss of my mother at just 61 totally changed how I viewed time (we can choose how we use it), money (things work out), and life (it’s all too short).

I won’t lie. Walking away from a good job with good benefits was – and still is – not without risk.

Yet I knew that the real risk was looking back at my life and saying, “I was miserable; but at least I had a good dental plan.”

What Will You Most Regret?

Take a moment now to choose the THREE things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime.

Now name one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent this utmost regret from occurring.

I invite you to post it either in the Facebook comment section, or scroll down for the general comments area.

If one of your three utmost regrets is spending your life in a soul-sucking job, I have good news.

As I write this, 108 of your fellow change seekers from six countries and 32 states have signed on for the fast approaching Work @ What You Love Virtual Weekend Workshop.

WWL-Virtual

If you share the dream of finding your calling and a way to make money doing it in order to live a life where you get to calls the shots, then don’t worry…

You still have time to join us. The Early Bird 96% SAVINGS ends Tuesday, January 20th.

But don’t wait too long, because after midnight January 20th, the price DOUBLES.

Spending twice as much money is not the worse regret in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to invest the money you’ll save in the service of your dream?

Can’t Make the January 24-25 Dates?

No problem. You can still get access to the Work @ What You Love Roadmap.

For a limited time you can pre-order recordings of the entire 2-day workshop. That way you won’t miss a thing. Plus you can take the class on your own schedule and pace — and retake it as often as you like.

To make sure you get maximum value from the replay, you’ll also receive a complete set of the Work @ What You Love handouts.

Whether you join us live or you take the Work @ What You Love workshop on your own schedule… remember this:

When you go to bed tonight, try not worrying about what will happen if you fail. Instead worry about what you have to lose by not ever trying.


Yes You Can – And I Can Prove It

Fear… self-doubt… procrastination… Are these dream-busters keeping you from going after your dream of being your own boss?

Why wouldn’t they?

“By the time you’ve hit your 20’s,” says Walter Anderson, author of Courage is a Three Letter Word and The Greatest Risk of All, “you’ll have heard a whopping 25,000 ‘can’ts’.”

Twenty-five THOUSAND… that’s a lot of “can’ts.”

“You can’t work at what you love and make a good living.” “Impossible. Can’t be done.”

What most people call “reality” is a very poor place to nurture dreams… and to share them with others? Forget it.

Erma Bombeck once said, “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Erma knew that other people’s fear, skepticism and negativity can be as contagious as the flu. And unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream stompers can knock you – and your precious dreams – for a loop.

Don’t believe me? Try this at your next gathering…

Announce to your family and friends that you’ve decided to quit your job to become a writer… or a personal organizer… or do your art… or be an aroma-therapist… or flip houses… or pursue your love for history… or travel the world for a year… or whatever it is you’d love to do.

What do you think their reaction would be?

Would they encourage you to “go for it?” Or might it sound more like this…

“Yeah right, in your dreams.”  “It’ll never work.”  “Better to play it safe.”

If you listen to the naysayers out there, the message is loud and clear. Stay stuck, don’t even dare to hope, forget your dreams.

Is it any wonder you’re probably finding it hard to take control of your life and whole-heartedly pursue your dreams?

Think about how all the “It’ll never work,” “Forget your crazy dreams,” “You should be happy that you have a job,” messages have buried themselves deep into your psyche and affected how you see the world.

For example, if you sat down right now and took a personal inventory of your life, would your list look something like this?

  • cautionI’m miserable in my job. But it’s impossible to make any money doing what I love.
  • I feel like life is passing me by… but there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • I keep thinking there has to be more to life than this…. I suppose I should just forget my crazy dreams

Sound familiar? Okay, so what do you do?

Well, for starters you might want to think about what will happen if you do nothing.

Close your eyes and picture what your life will be like if you continue to be ruled by your fears and self-doubts and heed the red lights thrown up by your well-meaning family and friends.

In other words, imagine staying where you are right now… day after day, year after year dragging yourself through the work week until you retire.

Pretty scary isn’t it?

Now imagine feeling encouraged and empowered to go after your dream.

Picture yourself looking back at your life and basking in the self-satisfaction of knowing you went for it…. If you like the way that felt then you’ve already begun to experience how powerful it is to readjust your thinking. You see the thing is…

doorfieldIf you really want to create a more balanced, rewarding life doing work you truly love, you’ll need to create a mindset that will instantly turn ‘can’t’ into ‘can.’

There will always be dream dashers.

But the world is also full of people who believe in the power of a dream. You just need to find them.

Fortunately you don’t have to look all that far. A few years ago I compiled a book filled with the voices of just such people.

People like best-selling authors Barbara Sher and Barbara Winter, creativity expert Bob Baker, motivational speaker Steve Simms, and a dozen experts join a chorus of Changing Course readers who allowed me to share their success stories.

Think of Yes You Can as the inspirational kick in the pants you need to take control of your life and go after your dreams.

It’s a message I deemed so important that I’m giving a free copy of Yes You Can away to all the people who’ve been signing up for an online workshop I’m leading called Work @ What You Love.

WWL-VirtualGifting Yes You Can is my way of rewarding you for taking decisive action to turn can’t into can. There’s still time to get yours, but you must act by Thursday, January 15th at 4PM(16:00).

I hope you can join the enthusiastic tribe of change seekers who’ve already registered to attend Work @ What You Love.

There’s just no better way to adjust your mindset than by “hanging out” with people who know how to guide you along your path and give you that inspirational jolt you need to realize that yes you can.

On any given day we all need help remembering this – myself included.

It’s why as a child Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez’s father told her to start each day with this single thought…

“Today is going to be a great day. I can, I will.”

WWL-VirtualThe Half Price Early Bird Price is Still Available – But the Yes You Can Bonus Offer (a $29 Value) Ends Today

 


Remembering My Boy Cokie “Roberts”

If you are a long time subscriber of the Changing Course newsletter than you will no doubt recall this early photo of Cokie and me that appeared in each issue.

We were both a lot younger then!

Cokie was a fixture at the “Work at What You Love” workshop/retreats that I used to hold in the living room of my former home in Montague Massachusetts.

Mostly he just hung out while the participants were busy making plans for how to make a living with a j-o-b.
cokie2cokie1

Other times he preferred to share the teacher’s chair and actively participate in the discussion.



But I’ll let Cokie tell you in his own way, what he loved most about these gatherings…

He was just a year and half when I took him home from a no-kill shelter. The staff there had named him Pokie.

I suppose it was because whereas every other dog would run at the sight of food, Cokie would take his oh-so-sweet time making his way to his dish.

You’d have to really be a dog lover to watch this next video. With that warning, here’s Cokie NOT rushing to his dish.

In fact he was almost never in a rush. Unless that is, there was a squirrel involved. Then he was, I used to tell him, faster than a greyhound!

I wasn’t crazy about the name “Pokie.” At the same time I also didn’t want to confuse him with an entirely new one. So I settled on Cokie.

Despite being a boy, just for fun I added “Roberts” onto his name in honor of a longtime favorite NPR correspondent, Cokie Roberts.

I must admit I did take adolescent humor in the annual call from the vet’s office reminding me about using best vacuum cleaner for pet hair is the best way to please bring in a stool sample from Cokie Roberts. Although I’ve never shared this with Ms. Roberts, I like to think she’d be amused.

Cokie offered many life lessons – like during our morning “delicious selection of treats” ritual

When I first got Cokie there were no cameras in cell phones. In fact, there were no cell phones!
cokie4cokie5




I have some earlier photos of him packed away somewhere.

But finding them and then figuring out how to use my new scanner? Well, that’s just more than my brain can handle today.

Instead here are a few favorites from the last 7 years…

Waiting for the vet… It was not his favorite place (understatement) yet I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Diamond and the team at Valley Veterinary.

cokie6

He’d much rather be in his bed…

cokie7

Preferably dreaming…

Or sledding with the dog sitter (who knew!)

cokie8

Or snuggling on the couch…

cokie10cokie9













I used to always tell Cokie he was “smarter and braver than Lassie.” You decide…

Good Boy! He got it right!

Like any self-bosser, Cokie worked really hard!

cokie11

Yet Cokie still found time to hang out with his many friends.

This is him with his girlfriend Megan. (He always liked older women.)

In fact, the minute I said her name, Cokie would immediately cock his head trying to understand… Is she here? Are we going there? Where’s Megan?!

cokie12

And waiting at the door with his hiking pal Mercie.

cokie13
Cokie even loved cats.

In fact a neighbor’s cat used to rub up against him purring and licking his ears.

Apparently mistaking the cat’s “advances” Cokie tried to have “relations” with her.

When I asked my vet if this was normal behavior in dogs he answered with an emphatic “No.”

cokie14

Cokie’s first toy was a monkey.

So after that all toys were known as monkeys. He had a cow monkey, a giraffe monkey, a bear monkey…

cokie15

Some years before she passed away my mother admired this porcelain dog she saw in a store in Vermont. So my sister Susan surprised her with it.

Though my mother never got to meet Cokie, the resemblance to my future dog is remarkable – even the same red collar!

My dad recently gave me the statue. At first I couldn’t bear to see it. It was too soon. Today his look-alike sits in my office. In the spring I may put it on his grave.

cokie16

Finally, two of my favorite photos: Basking in the sun on the porch at the old house in Montague.

cokie17

I guess like his “Mom,” Cokie understood that life is all about taking the long view.

cokie18

Thanks for letting me share these thoughts and images of Cokie.

Mostly, thank you for letting me share him with all of you for the past 14 years. You rock.

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5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 2

When it comes to changing course, money – or rather the lack of it – stops a lot of people in their tracks.

So to help, I’ve put together a five-part series on creative ways to fund your dream.

You may not be able to take advantage of every idea or resource. In fact, none of the five ideas may be right for you and your personal situation. You need to read them anyway. Why?

First, the strategy that may not be a fit for you today may indeed be the one that launches your dream a few years from now.

Second, just knowing that options truly do exist will remind you that your crazy dream is not so crazy after all.

And finally, one of the ideas or resources you see here may be perfect for someone you know. Pass it on and you just might change a life!

Strategy #2: Get Your Priorities Right

Comedian and actor Chris Rock remarked in an interview, “Having money doesn’t make you rich. Having options makes you rich.”

Arianne and Scott Bennett didn’t have either. The couple desperately wanted to travel. But they didn’t have any expendable income.

However they were both able to afford their $4.50 pack a day cigarette habit. Smoking had become a priority.

So in 1998 they both decided to quit and stash the money they saved into a travel fund. Ten months later the couple had enough money to fly to Amsterdam where some friends had recently moved. Check the e cigarette reviews

falafelThey loved the canals and the old world charm. But what Arianne and Scott really fell in love with were the many falafel shops. So they returned to the states to open their first Amsterdam Falafel shop and today run a booming franchise business.

Arianne and Scott’s dream began with a simple decision to put their money into something that would bring them joy. Can you say that about where your money goes?

If not, where can you cut back? Could you cancel or downgrade a pricey cable bill. Pack your lunch. Skip the daily latte. Whatever you do be sure you redirect the money you save into a special Dream Account.

For my friends Linda and Waino saving money isn’t a strategy. It’s a lifestyle.

Throughout his life Waino had a series of low-paying jobs, including school bus driver and hired hand at a dairy farm. Linda started out as an English teacher but soon discovered a love of making pottery.

For the last 30 years she’s thrown pots in her well-lit basement studio. In the spring and fall, Linda teaches pottery classes at a local college. And for a few weeks each summer, she runs classes for kids in her studio.

Of course like everyone, there are times when, Linda feels pressured by the demands for her work. But while her employed friends get a measly 2-3 weeks of vacation, Linda takes ten.

Freshly-Harvested-VegetablesThe couple grows much of their own food. So she takes three weeks off in May to plant their massive vegetable garden. The entire month of August is spent reading books, playing cards, and swimming at a rustic cottage on a remote lake in Maine that the couple own with Linda’s sister and her husband.

After a hectic few month run up to the busy Christmas craft season Linda takes three weeks off in January to cross country ski from her front door and to catch up on things around the house.

This isn’t Linda’s only vacation time. In the last few years she and Hanne Eidberg cross-country skied their way across a part of Switzerland, spent a week with other long-time friends and me in Cozumel Mexico, and last year she accompanied a friend to Ecuador.

Did I mention that Linda and Waino’s combined income has never been more than $50,000? If you’re wondering how they can do all of this and still afford to take over ten weeks off a year, it has everything to do with priorities.

The couple prides themselves on living a full but frugal life. Ardent environmentalists, they repair rather than replace, buy only what they need and for everything else they go used, barter with friends, or go without. They raise chickens for the eggs and grow and preserve a fair amount of their own food.

The mortgage on their small but comfortable home has long been paid off and they have more saved for retirement than the vast majority of those earning two-to-three times more.

If you live in pricy areas like New York City, Boston, or San Francisco it’s not always easy to live on less. So if you’re ready for a change of scenery, consider relocating to a more affordable place where your dollar will go much further.

cafeIf you’re up for re-prioritizing in a big way, you could always go international. Running an existing portable business or starting a new business in another country is actually pretty doable. There are ex-pats opening cafes, using Skype to continue to work with clients back home, and importing crafts and other products back home.

Getting a job in another country can be a major challenge, but it’s not impossible. The reason Linda went to Ecuador was to accompany a friend who couldn’t afford to retire in the U.S. and wanted to check things out. On her first visit the friend got a job teaching English and has since relocated there full-time.

You don’t have to retire to benefit from this list of best places to retire from International Living magazine.

Nor do you need to move, raise your own chickens or grow your own food. But, if you’re serious about finding a way to fund your dream – and enjoy more life – then consider ways you can live on less. In a word: Prioritize.

As Margaret Young said:

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash
Strategy 4: Barter
Strategy 5: Know Your Options


Chocolate, woodworking & romance oh my!

 

15+ Cool Places to Plug Into Your Tribe, Learn How to Really Make Money Doing What You Love, and Partner With Kindred Spirits Who Share Your Passion

In 2015 there will be literally hundreds of thousands of conferences happening all over the world on topics related to just about every interest imaginable – yours among them.

That’s why I decided to shelve the standard holiday greeting and instead take this week to turn you on to 15 cool events that just might change your life.

For example, if you’ve ever fancied yourself a romance writer but just aren’t sure where to begin, a conference can be the perfect way to find your tribe and learn at the same time.

coupleThere are dozens of conferences for or featuring romance writers including the upcoming Georgia Romance Writers, California Dreamin’, and Ottawa’s Romancing the Capital conferences.

Find Your Tribe and Learn at the Same Time

At the California event you can attend dozens of talks and workshops on topics like creating realistic historical heroines, the eight hero/heroine archetypes, how to write sizzling scenes, creating audio books, time management for writers, and finding a publisher.

Romance not your thing?

Then how about dogs, athletics or fitness, using horses to heal humans, beading, African American music, blogging/podcasting/web TV, historical woodworking, Latinos online, chocolate, selling on eBay or Amazon, or countless passions?

You don’t have to already be actively working in a given field to attend a conference. If you train dogs or think you’d like to then check out the Association of Professional Dog Trainers convention in Dallas.

beadsIf you make beads or think you’d like to there’s the International Society of Glass Bead Makers conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Or for a far more international experience head to The Borneo International Bead conference in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Do you dream of becoming a successful blogger, podcaster or web TV content creator? Then check out the 2015 NMX event (formerly known as Blog World) in Las Vegas.

Want to become a successful blogger, podcaster or web TV and tap into your Latino tribe at the same time?

Hispanicize, whose companies include Latina Mom Bloggers network, Being Latino, Hispanicize Wire, and the Hispanic PR Blog is putting on their 6th annual Hispanicize Week 2015 in Miami.

Billed as “the iconic, largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship,” the organizers expect to draw more than 2,100 of the nation’s most influential Latino professionals from the industries of blogging, journalism, music, marketing, film and business over the five days.

horseLots of horse lovers have long been fascinated by programs that use horses to help disabled children, veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress, and others to learn, heal, and grow.

If you’re one, then either get yourself to Utah for the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) conference or stay posted for details of the next international conference.

And talk about your niche within a niche – for $350 you can register for Colonial Williamsburg’s “17th Annual Working Wood in the 18th Century” conference specifically on 18th century writing desks.

In addition to an inside look at the design, construction, and evolution of 18th-century desk forms, this year’s event features a tool swap and the chance to chat with editors from Fine Woodworking magazine.

chocolateBummed to discover that you just missed Colonial Williamsburg’s conference on “400 Years of Chocolate: Aztec to Artisans”?

Then you’ll be happy to know you can still attend the World Chocolate Forum in London or dozens of other chocolate business gatherings in China, Mexico, and scores of other countries.

For a very different sensory experience, there’s the historic National Association of Negro Musicians National Association of Negro Musicians conference in Washington, DC. The organization awarded their first scholarship in 1919 to Marian Anderson. How cool is that!

Always wanted to open your own gym or other fitness-related business? Then head to the Athletic Business Conference & Expo happening next November in New Orleans. Although the agenda is not yet set, the organizers describe it as a premier educational event and trade show for athletic, fitness and recreation professionals.

Or perhaps you want to sell tangible or e-products online. If so, there’s the Summit for Marketplace Sellers at Amazon, eBay, Sears, Etsy & More happening in May in Philadelphia.

None of these ring your bell?

There’s always the totally free Entrepreneur’s 2015 Growth Conference this February 4th in warm (!) Miami.

Unlike the highly niched gatherings you just learned about, conferences like this that attract people with wildly diverse businesses are ideal if…

  • You live in the area and want to spend a fun and informative day with like-minded people
  • You have a blog, podcast or other business where you profile interesting entrepreneurs
  • Your customers or clients are small business owners.

Regardless of the topic, conferences are a great place to meet and learn alongside “your tribe.”

Plus since most have some sort of expo or tradeshow, attending a conference is also a great way to find potential business ideas and partners.

Want A Solid Business Idea Before You Go to Any Live Event?

Since 1995 I’ve helped thousands of people go from confusion to clarity.

If you’re still trying to find a way to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can get paid to do it, schedule one of a limited number of Find My Perfect Business consultations today.

To find out if a Find My Perfect Business consultation is right for you call 413-535-0451 eastern.

Outside the US send an email to Valerie@changingcourse.com with your Skype ID and I’ll get back to you with a meeting time.

Let 2015 be your year to change course!


Want to MEET Barbara Corcoran?

 

7 Reasons You Need to Attend Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2015 Growth Conference

In 2014 I flew down to Miami to attend Entrepreneur magazine’s Annual Growth Conference. It was hands down one of the best events I’ve ever attended.

Four years later the conference is back in Miami.

There are at least seven reasons why you should move heaven and earth to be there on February 4th.

barbaracI’ll get to how you can meet – and perhaps even be on stage with Barbara Corcoran – in a moment.

But I’ll start first with perhaps the most surprising reason of all.

(I was going to save this reason for last. But I moved it first out of fear that you’d say, “I can’t afford it” click away and never get to reasons 2-6.)

#1 The Entire Conference is Freakin’ Free!

Thanks to long-time sponsors UPS the cost to attend the entire conference is zero, zilch, zippo!

And that includes a continental breakfast and a fabulous sit-down lunch with a table full of fabulous people in your new Entrepreneurs Tribe!

entretable

Of course if you’re not local there’s the cost of getting to Miami.

But your travel expenses are freakin’ tax deductible – even if you’re just starting out and haven’t yet made a dime!

According to the United States Internal Revenue Service, as long as your efforts demonstrate an intention to earn a profit, you can begin deducting any money you invest in building your business right away.

Or as the IRS puts it…

You do not need to actually make a profit to be in a trade or business as long as you have a profit motive.

That means you can deduct the cost of airfare, Amtrak, lodging, rental car, ground transportation, parking, and a portion of meals.

And for my friends up north, did I mention the conference is in hot Miami in frigid February? Now that’s my kind of tax-deductible trip!

Then there’s the amazing Barbara Corcoran and reason #2 to be there. 

#2 You’ll Be Inspired to Think BIG

barbara-corcoranIf you’re a huge fan of ABC’s reality hit Shark Tank like I am, you’ll love hearing from this year’s keynote speaker real estate mogul turned entrepreneur investor Barbara Corcoran.

If Barbara can parlay a $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar real estate business which she later sold for $66 million – then you can certainly make a go of your business.

#3 You’ll Receive Expert Advice

Upon registering you also have the chance to apply for the chance to be one of three lucky entrepreneurs to take the stage with Barbara Corcoran.

Once there you’ll have five minutes to pitch your product or business to receive 1-1 advice from Barbara herself.

What if you don’t make the cut? No worries, you can still jump into a speed mentoring session with a variety of business experts from SCORE.

Conference organizers describe it as your chance to:

Get ideas and answers to your toughest challenges from experienced professionals in marketing, finance, accounting, sales, business management, human resources and more. You’ll move from coach to coach in quick-format pacing, so come prepared to share your challenge succinctly to get the most from this session.

#4 You’ll Learn A Ton

Successful entrepreneurs are all about continuous learning.

You can choose from breakout sessions on a host of topics from branding yourself and your business to choosing the right business structure to funding your business to getting the media to notice you – and more.

#5 The Chance to Pitch Your Company to Entrepreneur Magazine

Years ago I was lucky enough to get a full page feature in the former Entrepreneur Business Start-Ups magazine.

If you already have a company, then you have the chance to pitch your story to the magazine editors.

Here’s how it worked when I attended:

First you stand in a big line which moves pretty quickly and is filled with other fascinating entrepreneurs.

The organizers let a dozen or so entrepreneurs into the pitch room at one time. Once in you grab a seat across from a random editor and launch into your 3 minute pitch.

At the 2010 conference I pitched to then media editor Justin Petruccelli. I had to do it again I’d definitely research the different editors ahead of time to determine which would be most likely to be interested in my particular business.

Regardless of the outcome, just the process of planning your pitch is an incredibly useful exercise for any entrepreneur.

#6 Meet Movers and Shakers

You won’t find any snobby gurus here. To the contrary, the movers and shakers at this conference are all too happy to chat with participants.

Counterclockwise: Entrepreneur Editor in Chief Amy Cosper, 2010 keynote and the late guerilla marketing guru and multiple best-selling author Jay Conrad Levinson, Founder and Chairman of BNI Ivan Misner, and 2009 College Entrepreneur of the Year Bradley Ericson.

movers and shakers

#7 Meet the Most Amazing Entrepreneurs

Honestly, to me the best part of the conference is the opportunity to connect with other amazing entrepreneurs.

feverishpopsLike the engaging Felecia Hatcher. After being laid off from Nintendo in 2008 Felecia and her husband Derick and another partner founded Feverish Pops in Miami.

They began with two ice cream carts they purchased on Craig’s List.

Today Felicia’s company offers handcrafted flavors like Pineapple Basil, Chocolate Salted Coconut Watermelon, even spiked varieties like Ginger Vodka. For more info please visit http://www.lovecustomwaterbottles.com.

Clients include Paypal, Google, TRUMP, JCrew, Tom Cruise, Universal Music, Cirque de Soleil, Bacardi and the US Census Bureau.

And Feverish Pops has been featured on the Cooking Channel, NBC Today Show, Modern Luxury Magazine, Black Enterprise, Air Tran Magazine, and elsewhere.

Four years later and a few million brain cells less, I don’t recall the names of all the amazing self-bossers I met there. But I do remember what a lot of them did.

Like this very happy franchisee of a Schakalad Chocolate Factory store, the successful retail store consultant, and the couple who started Atomic Tattoos now in locations across Florida.

amazing entres

As for these three people… Well I have no memory of their names or businesses. And I definitely don’t remember why this guy was wearing a kilt!

I included them as a reminder of how fun it was to be in a room full of smiling people who all share one thing in common…

A great idea and the confidence to act on it.

smilingentres

Learn more about the 2015 Entrepreneur Growth Conference.

Still Trying to Find Your Calling? 

Imagine how much more exciting this conference would be if you have a solid direction.

There’s still time to roar into the New Year knowing exactly what you love to do and how you can get paid to do it.

Schedule a FREE Find My Perfect Business 15 minute Personal Assessment.

Call my direct line at 413-535-0451 eastern today. Or send a Skype invitation along with your time zone to drvalerieyoung.

Make 2015 the year you say, “I’m finally going to find a way to work when, where, and how I want!”


3 Ways to Find Your Tribe

Caroline Myss wrote, “We evolve at the rate of the tribe we are plugged into.”

Put another way: Who you hang out with now has a lot to do with where you’ll wind up later.

Take “Angela.”

A big reason why she’s failed to evolve into the professional singer she was meant to be is because Angela has never been plugged into the right “tribe.”

Angela grew up imitating legendary singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horn while part of a family of country music fans and surrounded by friends into heavy metal.

singerAs an adult Angela never lost her desire to be a jazz vocalist. She has the talent and the drive.

But Angela is still immersed in her old tribe.

The problem isn’t one of differing musical tastes.

The problem is no one in Angela’s life has the knowledge, experience, or interest in supporting her dream.

Angela needs to find her “tribe” – in this case professional singers who know it’s possible to be paid to perform because they’re doing it themselves.

Everybody Needs a Tribe

In order for you to evolve from employee to self-bosser then you need to find your tribe too.

If you’ve found your passion, then you know who what your tribe looks like. But what if you can’t figure out how to find them?

That was Jessica’s problem. She writes about wartrol review :

questionHi Valerie

My Aunt Cindy recommended your website 7 years ago and I have been following you ever since. My husband and I have begun creating a new life around much of your advice.

After years of searching and experimenting with my different skills and hobbies and creating my own successes, I am starting my own coaching business.  

I want to immerse myself with wonderful people who are doing what I want to do but I am struggling to find seminars, conferences, online groups, anything. I can find individuals online across the country, but I want to meet people in real life. Where can I begin?

Jessica Nason
East Killingly, CT 

Jessica’s tribe is other coaches.

Your own tribe may be other fiber artists, eBay sellers, or whatever it is that you are either doing or dream of doing.

If, like Jessica, you can’t find a local group you still have options.

Option 1: Expand Your Tribe

If you can’t find an industry-specific group then join your local chamber of commerce, inventor group, or any gathering of entrepreneurs.

If Jessica joined a women business owners group I guarantee a number of members will be coaches. That means she can network with her specific tribe and meet prospective clients at the same time!

hercornerKeep in mind too that not all Tribes need to be local. Sorry to leave out my male readers, but if you’re a woman business owner you can join a really neat organization called Her Corner.

Founded by my friend Frederique Irwin, the organization recently launched a new, free Community Membership level with lots of free discounts and perks to help you grow.

It’s a great no cost way to collaborate with other members, get access to discounted products and services, and tap into the collective wisdom of other women business owners who are equally committed to growing their businesses.

Option 2: Start Your Own Tribe

If you want to be in a group made up of people in your specific business– and you can’t find one in your area – then start one!

Like Jessica I couldn’t find a coach networking group in her area either. However, I did find the 2015 Directory of Connecticut Holistic Health Practitioners which lists dozens of life/spiritual and other coaches and practitioners.

Armed with that information, Jessica could easily invite specific coaches to meet for coffee or drinks. Or, for a less targeted approach, she could use Meet Up to start a coaches group in her area.

Option 3: Change Seekers Need a Tribe Too 

If you’re still in search mode you may be thinking… “But, how can I find my tribe if I don’t know what I want to do?”

It doesn’t matter whether you know the passion part of profiting from your passion. What matters is you know you want to be free from job jail.

If you’re surrounded by people who are diehard employees – and you don’t want to wind up as a lifer yourself – then your tribe is other freedom seekers.

One way to connect with your tribe and learn at the same time is to gather a group of likeminded friends or co-workers together for a book reading group.

The War of Art, Making a Living Without a Job, or Your Money or Your Life are all good choices.

Even if you don’t have a specific idea you can still take a business start-up or marketing class through your local adult education program.

Or if you live in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa or the U.S. Virgin Islands it should be easy to find a class offered by one of the 900 Small Business Development Centers.

Even if you’re in search mode you still need to hang out with the people who are where you want to be.

Unless you live in a highly remote location you’re bound to find local business owner, inventor, artisan, and other meet ups in your area.

If you want to evolve into working when, where, and how you want – being plugged into the right tribe is essential!

Finding your tribe is easier than you may think. You just need to try.

Still Looking For A Way To Earn A Living Without A J-O-B?

Another year is almost gone. Isn’t it time you got the clarity and direction you need to get out of job jail?

Schedule a complimentary Find My Perfect Business personal assessment today. It could be the best 15 minutes of your life.

I’m so committed to helping you find your perfect business that I’m willing to give you my personal phone line.

Call me during normal business hours at 413-535-0451 eastern. Outside the US hit reply now to set up an appointment via Skype.

Obviously, I can’t possibly spend this kind of free time with all of my 27,000 readers. In fact, I only have a handful of assessment appointments a month.

If you really want to find your perfect business so you can start living on your own terms, I urge you to call for your Find My Perfect Business personal assessment today.

Add Your Voice to the Changing Course Job Tribe

Thousands of heads are always better than one!

Who is your Tribe? What other options, ideas, or additional resources do you see for finding one’s Tribe? If you could create the ideal Tribe – what would that look like?


Cool Jobs #16 and #17

Get Paid to Speak or Hold Cool Events – Or Both!

Picture yourself delivering a presentation or leading a workshop on a topic you love.

Maybe that topic is spirituality, abundance or effective leadership. Or what about how leading with spirit results in an abundant bottom line?

Or perhaps you’d love to speak about how sports or learning to play a musical instrument can be a metaphor for academic or business success.

Or on how to find your true calling, self-care for caretakers, or a thousand other topics.

excited groupNow imagine earning four – or even five – figures per speaking gig sharing your passion with others.

Welcome to my life!

I became a paid speaker at 26. My first gig earned me a whopping $150. Good money when rent was $400!

Last year I earned six figures speaking, and this year I’m on track to do the same.

Over the years I’ve addressed well over 70,000 people at countless organizations from Intel to the YWCA.

And I’ve had the honor of sharing the main stage with the likes of Martha Stewart and Gloria Steinem (now that’s a combination!)

I’m not telling you this to impress you.

Rather, it’s because I’ve learned a thing or two about how to succeed as a professional speaker – including what mistakes to avoid.

The 3 Biggest Mistakes Aspiring Speakers Make
and How to Avoid Them

The first mistake is actually the worst one because it keeps a lot of talented people with a message to share from ever even trying to get into the speaking business.

Mistake #1: Thinking You Don’t Know Enough

Far too many perfectly capable people think they don’t have enough knowledge to talk about a subject. If you’re one then I have news for you.

speakerYou really don’t know everything there is to know about your topic. But guess what? Neither does anyone else.

There’s always more to learn!

A related mistake is the misguided belief that you can’t possibly speak credibly on a topic unless you have an advanced degree – or indeed any degree.

You don’t need three PhDs and 20 years of experience. You just need to know more than your audience does. As the saying goes, to 3rd graders, 4th graders are gods!

Look at talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Despite regularly dishing out “expert” and often controversial opinions and advice on human behavior, “Dr. Laura” as she is known and is not a physician as many of her listeners presume.

Nor is she a psychiatrist, or even a psychologist. Although she did go back and study marriage counseling after starting in radio, the “doctor” designation is from a doctorate in physiology where she studied the effects of insulin on rats.

In fact, an effective counter to the internal or external pressure to be highly credentialed is to proudly proclaim yourself as the “anti-expert.”

In her book French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guilano lets readers know right up front that she’s not a nutritionist, a psychologist, an exercise physiologist or any other kind of “ist.”

Instead, Guilano says, she’s just a woman who happens to have observed and experienced the French diet and is sharing that knowledge with people who’d like to eat well and not gain weight.

Mistake #2: Not Understanding How Speakers Get Paid

There are three ways you can get paid to speak. You can

a)     Get hired by organizations

b)     Earn money from your adoring audience

c)      Generate revenue from event sponsors

Which model or models you choose depends on your topic, your financial and business goals, and your personal preference. Let’s take a brief look at each.

Get Hired by Organizations

Other than running the occasional workshop or retreat for people who want to change course, this is my primary business model.

Because my topic – confidence – is so far reaching I can speak to a variety of different audiences.

Speaking at corporations

Having worked for a Fortune 500 company I’m comfortable working with such diverse companies as Boeing, IBM, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s Europe division (sweet!) and Motley Fool.

motleyfoolAnother plus of speaking to for-profit companies is they pay the most!

A topic like “how to raise sane, healthy teenagers” or “how to find your calling” typically won’t fly for employee training. But there’s another way most people don’t know about – so called “spousal meetings.”

Lots of large corporations hold at least one multi-day, off-site meeting a year where attendees (usually executives or top performing sales people) are encouraged to bring their spouse or partner and sometimes the kids too.

While the employees attend mandatory meetings, their family can choose from a range of age-appropriate activities which include speakers!

Speaking at colleges and universities

I’ve spoken at over 70 major colleges and universities. Depending on your message you can specialize in addressing undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and/or staff.

Whenever you can try to maximize my travel time by grouping my speaking gigs based on location.

For instance this year I will have spoken at Cornell (4x) and nearby University of Syracuse, at North Carolina State University and the neighboring University of North Carolina as well as two California trips to speak at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and University of the Pacific.

Professional or industry associations or charitable organizations

Large professional or industry associations need keynote and break out session speakers for their national, regional, or state-wide events.

Examples from my own experience include American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Alberta Business Women, and Utah Women Attorneys.

Charitable organizations also hire speakers for their fundraising events. Like the dog chef who travels to speak at events put on by the SPCA and other dog shelters.

These organizations tend to operate on a shoe-string, so expect to earn the least here. Keep in mind though that you may be able to arrange selling your book after your talk or to get a professional videotape of your talk.

Earn Money From Your Adoring Audience or From Sponsors – Or Both

If you know what you’re doing you can make insane amounts of money running your own events.

Registration fees

Registration fees are the most obvious source of income. These can range from $5o for a couple of hours to $5,000 for a multi-day event.

Toss in some big name speakers and depending on your audience it’s not unheard of to charge as much as $25,000.

If the material you’re delivering is intended to help your audience to use the information to earn money themselves, then you can charge more. Here again, it has to do with your topic.

Naturally people are willing to pay more for an event on how to make 7 figures selling information products than they are for one on how to write your first screenplay.

Product sales

Another model is to keep the registration fee low – or even free – and instead earn money from so-called “back of the room” sales.

Most often this would mean selling books, CDs, videos and other information products – your own or other peoples.

However, if your event is on fashion or how to write a best-selling cookbook, then you could just as easily sell clothing and accessories, make up, cookware, and other topic appropriate products on site.

Masterminds and other coaching or mentoring programs

Income from registration fees and products can be substantial. But in addition to these revenue streams, the most financially successful speakers use their events another way.

They still provide attendees with valuable content.

However, the secondary goal is to use the event to showcase your credibility and value in order to inspire a smaller segment of the audience to sign up to join your coaching or mentoring program.

It worked for me. I signed on to “mastermind” with three different experts this way. In all three cases it was money well-spent.

Sponsorships

Selling sponsorships for your event is another highly lucrative and often under-used way to get paid to speak.

Depending on your topic, sponsors could be a local newspaper or bank, a major corporation, or even a solo-practitioner like a chiropractor or life coach.

Sponsors win because they in front of potential customers in a forum that aligns with their brand and message. You win because sponsor fees can cover part or all of your event costs.

Case in point is Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Growth Conference (an event I highly recommend). The event is free to attend because UPS foots the entire bill – including lunch!

When you can attract 5 to 25 corporate or other major sponsors at the $5,000, $15,000, $25,000, and even $50,000 level, then my friend you are looking at serious revenue.

Bottom line, putting on your own events is a great avenue if:

  • There aren’t a lot of organizations who are willing or able to pay you to speak on your particular topic
  • Your topic is entrepreneurial in nature and/or your primary audience is business owners
  • You want to offer coaching or mentoring after the event
  • You have products to sell
  • You can attract enough attendees to make your event attractive to sponsors

Mistake #3: Not Investing In Your Success

Whether you’re just now launching your speaking career or are a seasoned pro who wants to increase your bottom line, from a financial perspective the BIGGEST mistake you can make is not being willing to make even the smallest investment in yourself and your business.

Speaking skills not as strong as they could be?

You don’t need to spend a dime to join a local chapter of Toastmaster or watch Ted Talks.

To get there much faster though I suggest you attend a formal training program where you can learn from someone who is more experienced, skilled, and further along than you.

LarryValThat’s what I did. This is me and my speaking mentor five time New York Times best-selling author and television personality Larry Winget.

As someone who has earned the right to command a $25,000 speaker fee, I knew he could help me take my own business to the next level. And I was right.

Everyone can become a better speaker. That includes me. Like all great speakers, Larry never stops practicing his craft and neither should you.

Working with Larry cost me a small fortune.

Fortunately, there are two free resources that are happening this very week.

Own the Stage: 7 Strategies to Create a Speaking Business that Attracts Clients, Connection and Cash Flow

This three-part video series is compliments of Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA.

darnyelleA sought-after speaker and award-winning business coach, Darnyelle has been featured in Black Enterprise, Essence and O Magazines and has shared the stage with some of the greats – Suze Orman, Les Brown, Brian Tracy, Lisa Nichols, Willey Jolley, Delatorro McNeal, and Ali Brown… to name a few.

Darnyelle will share the tips and techniques that helped her launch a speaking business that generates $20,000 a month from corporate and other speaking gigs. These include:

  • A sure-fire technique to turn your audience into raving fans and grow your own “groupie” line
  • The three different types of speaking engagements and how to maximize your earnings in each
  • Must-have marketing materials you need to get you booked again and again

Video 1 comes out today (September 4th) so you’ll want to register for Darnyelle’s speaker training series now.

Sold Out to 7 Figures: The LIVE Event Formula for Cashing In

bariIf you’re already comfortable on stage and are ready to put on your own events there is simply no one out there better to learn from than Suzanne Evans of Hell Yeah Coaching and Bari Baumgardner of Sage Event Management.

You may not know Bari by name. But you may recognize some of her clients.

Bari and her team have planned and managed highly profitable events for people like Ali Brown, Lisa Sasevich, Fabienne Frederickson, Adam Urbanski, Bernadette Doyle, and many others.

Two words that describe Bari are class act.

suzanneOn the other hand there’s my friend Suzanne Evans. (One of the things I love most about Suzanne is that she’d be the first one to laugh at that transition.)

In just a few years this unapologetically big, brash, tell-it-like-it-is business coach has built a multiple 7-figure company.

But style will get you only so far.

What landed Hell Yeah on the Inc. 500 list of fasted growing companies in the US not once, but twice, are their sold-out live events.

After started out with 11 people in a crowded conference room of a dingy chain hotel quickly turned into almost a thousand enthusiastic attendees at a swank luxury hotel.

If you want to put on highly profitable live events this is your chance to learn from Suzanne, Bari and other event professionals.

Get all the details here.

More importantly I hope you realize that with the right message, the right training, and the determination to make a difference in the lives of your audience that you too can get paid to speak.


Get a C.L.U.E.

There are two types of people in the world: Chronic complainers and chronic complainers with a clue.

Both groups can always find something to gripe about.

The difference is, the clueless complainers will go to their grave railing against everyone and everything. Which, of course, only confirms their biggest complaint, namely: “life sucks and then you die.”

“In the middle of difficulty,” observed Albert Einstein, “lies opportunity.” What makes clued-in whiners different is that they have grasped the fundamental genius of success:

Complaints
Lead to rush nutrition solutions which
Ultimately, with effort,
Equal opportunity

In other words, take just about any problem or situation worthy of complaint — annoying telemarketers, bed bugs, lack of eligible dating partners.

Then add a dash of creative problem solving and you’ve got all the makings for a whole range of positive possibilities. For more info visit https://www.facebook.com/pastor.ed.young

Last time I featured great resources for earning money by:

  • Creating floral arrangements

  • Growing and selling plants from home

  • Working on the farm with a little help from farm school

In This Issue

Today we’ll look at three more cool jobs for aspiring self-bossers.

Each has the potential to solve a problem for someone else while putting money in your pocket!

  • Man Camp – teaching what dads forgot to teach

  • Breaking up is hard to do – but you can help!

  • For some breaking up is fun to do – divorce parties and other ideas

As always, some of the cool ideas you’re about to “meet” come from people in an international community of licensed Profiting From Your Passion® coaches. I hope these ideas inspire you to make your own job!

Cool “Job” #13: Man Camp – teaching what dads forgot to teach

Like many entrepreneurial ideas, this one came disguised as a problem.

My friend Beau Blackwell was lamenting the fact that his father never taught him how to replace a toilet, trouble shoot a stalled car engine, or other stereotypically “guy stuff.”

hammer“Wouldn’t it be great,” said Beau, “if young guys like him could go to “man camp”? Indeed!

If you know how to do basic home maintenance or auto repairs you could teach the classes yourself. If not, find some retired guys who can.

Building On That Idea

You could of course earn money from registration fees. But there are other ways to go.

For instance, you could round up one or more local sponsors to foot the bill. Instead of it being your event it could be billed as Man Camp sponsored by Homey Hardware Store or Best Ever Used Cars.

In addition to sponsor income, being connected with a local business has other advantages like instant credibility, sponsor help in promoting the event at their location, on social media, and on their website, as well as increased chances for local media coverage.

Another way to generate revenue is to work the food and beverage angle.

I remember my friend Barbara Winter telling about a famous herb farm that used to operate in Connecticut. They didn’t have a license to serve food. So they charged a fee to tour the gardens that included a free lunch!

beerSo what if you tap a local brewery as a sponsor? That way you can include a free sample which in turn allows you to up the registration fee. (Just don’t teach classes involving any buzz saws!)

Man Camp is a great idea. But as a home owner there are a lot of things I wish my dad had taught me too – things that neither of my two brothers learned either.

So you could always organize a similar class for women who tend to be less intimidated learning how to dry wall or change spark plugs in the company of other women.

Cool “Job” #14: Breaking up is hard to do – but you can help!

brokenheartAnyone who’s been dumped knows that breaking up really is hard to do.

You don’t feel like eating. Everything reminds you of your ex. You obsess about how incredible they were while developing amnesia about their faults.

As you’ll learn from an informative and entertaining video called The Science of Love, there’s a physiological reason why you have a hard time getting over your beloved.

brainAccording to researchers, the same regions of the brain are activated during a breakup as when an addict is going through withdrawal.

So it stands to reason that a step-based model like Alcoholics Anonymous could be used to facilitate recovery from heart-break as well.

The video features several newly single people trying out five steps like identifying three things you learned from the relationship and mediation.

Building on That Idea

The 5-step process got me thinking about things like offering Break Up Recovery Coaching, Break Up Support Groups, even Break Up Retreats to cool locations.

You don’t need to be a psychologist or other mental health provider. Rather if you have coaching experience or simply organizing skills, you can partner with someone else to do the emotional heavy-lifting.

singingThe video ends with a singer composing a customized rap song for the people featured in the video.

If you have a knack for songwriting, this could be just the cool job for you!


2014Profit-From-your-passion-600

What If You Could Get Paid to Share Cool Business Ideas?

  • Are you an idea person?

  • Do you love to brainstorm?

  • Would you like to get paid to do what comes naturally?

You’re not alone!

In less time than you think you can train to become a licensed Profiting From Your Passion® coach.

Here’s what one student had to say as she started digging into the course material…

The resources on the student site are unbelievable. I can’t even imagine the time, energy, finances and mental/physical exertion you have poured into this.

 

Most of what I have experienced appears to have lead me to this work! Thanks again for all the work you have put into this program.

 

Robbie Penney
Bakersfield, CA

An accelerated version of this online course begins September 8th. Seats are limited.

Click here to learn how you can get started for as little as $379.

Cool “Job” #15: For some, breaking up is fun to do — divorce parties and other ideas

Some newly single people moved from healing to celebrating and there are party planners who are all too eager to help them do it in style.

According to a growing number of party favor and event planning companies specializing in divorce parties, business is booming.

Today you can buy divorce party favors like “pin the tail on the ex” and divorce party coasters. Others like Kissed the Wrong Frog and fabletics sell clothing, lip gloss, and shot glasses.

The owner of Los Angeles-based The Divorce Party Planner books at least three parties a month. At $5,000 to a whopping $20,000, helping people celebrate a new beginning can also be highly profitable.

Building on that Idea

If you prefer a service-based business, a quick search of other major cities like Atlanta and Denver didn’t turn up any divorce party planners there. So, why not become the go-to planner in your area?

Don’t know where to begin? Pick up a copy of Divorce Party Handbook.

If you’re not into the angry ex going to a strip club with her gal-pals scene that means there are others who feel the same.

So why not offer an alternative for divorcees looking for more Zen-like or spiritually-based rituals. It could be as simple as a weekend at a local retreat center or spa or as high-end as a group trip to Sedona or Machu Picchu.

If you want to specialize even more, you could create events that appeal to gay divorcees, Jewish divorcees, devout Christian divorcees – add your own here.

Not a people-person?

Then set up an online store selling divorce-themed party favors and other products.

No offense to really dated looking The Divorce Shower Store (the link to Myspace nailed it) – but it wouldn’t be hard to come up with a more polished look or one aimed at an upscale market.

With enough traffic you can also attract ad revenue.

To increase your search engine optimization (SEO) and stand out from the competition at the same time,you can use one of the best seo in montreal agency or supply visitors with a steady stream of articles on topics like surviving the divorce, rocking it as a single parent, and getting back in the dating scene.

Or maybe you’re more the creative type? For a premium, you can offer divorce voodoo dolls customized to resemble a cheating ex.

Or you can design your own products like this funny “break-up prevention” T-shirt I saw in the Pittsburgh airport which would make a great coffee mug or wall plaque too.

The marriage may have ended, but the possibilities for creative self-bossers to create their own cool job are truly endless.

Add Your Voice to the Cool Job Tribe

Thousands of heads are always better than one!

How would you build on any of these cool jobs? What other options, ideas, or additional profit centers did you picture? What other cool jobs have you spotted lately? Post below!


Cool Jobs: Flowers, Farm School, and More

Like many people of northern European descent, my people “don’t do heat.”

Fortunately, the Northeast is being rewarded for enduring the relentless snow storms of last winter with truly spectacular summer weather.

The days have been largely sunny and warm. Nights have been delightfully cool and at times downright chilly.

Best of all, there have been virtually none of the 90-plus degrees and muggy stretches we usually see.

The corn fields are tall, flowers in full bloom, and the many local farmers markets in full swing.

Last time I shared 3 cool “jobs” you can create or build on:

  • Get paid to share your love of crafts
  • Invent a new toy
  • Cater to kids

In This Issue

In this issue we’ll look at three more cool jobs for people who love the bounties of summer. In one case, you don’t even need to work outdoors!

  • Design floral arrangements
  • Grow and sell plants from home
  • Get back to the organic farm

As always, some of the cool ideas you’re about to “meet” come from people in an international community of licensed Profiting From Your Passion® coaches. I hope these ideas inspire you to make your own job!

Cool “Job” #10: Design floral arrangements

You don’t have to work out doors to arrange flowers.  But you do need to know what you’re doing.

There are some great illustrated instruction books on Amazon:

Conferences are a great way to both get a feel for any field and to engage in continuing education. Consider attending the American Institute of Floral Designers national symposium, June 30 — July 4, 2015, in Denver.

Can’t afford to register? Starting later this fall the Institute’s foundation will once again take applications for scholarships.

They also offer a series of online courses for $79 or you can find a list of approved education partners in the US and internationally.
Cover-Florist-205x311If you’re serious about floral design as a business (or even a j-o-b), check out Fab Jobs Guide to Becoming a Florist.

The guide can help you decide whether to buy an existing shop or a franchise or to open your own place and includes sections on how to write a business plan, required tools, equipment and supplies, finding and working with growers and wholesalers, marketing, delivery options, and more.

If being your own boss isn’t your thing, you’ll also learn how to get hired as a floral designer working in a small flower shop, for a chain, for a wholesaler, or in a grocery store.

Cool “Job” #11: Grow and sell plants from home

mikemcgroartyMike McGroarty from Perry, Ohio has made thousands of extra dollars running a thriving home-based plant business.

According to Mike, you don’t need an entire farm to get into this fun and profitable seasonal business. In fact, he says you can do it on a mere 1/20 of an acre of land and sell your plants literally from your driveway.

People kept asking Mike how they too could make extra money growing plants from home.

Hint: When people want to know how you do something, listen to them, because it’s opportunity knocking.

Wisely, Mike did listen, and today he also sells a low-cost e-guide that that spells out how you can set up the same system where you live.

Cool “Job” #12: Time to get back to the (organic) farm

organicfarmAre you an organic food enthusiast who loves the idea of getting out from behind a computer and working the land? Then follow the trends my friend.

Between now and 2018 the organic food market in United States is forecasted to grow 14%.

If you just want to dip your toe in the water, check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. For a $40 membership you get a directory of 1,927 host farms in all 50 states, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that offer a variety of educational opportunities

You spend half a day on the farm (which includes room and board). Depending on what host farm you select, you can learn about growing vegetables, keeping bees, building straw bale houses, working with animals, making wine, and much more.

Or maybe you’re ready to dive into farming in a big way but lack the necessary knowledge and skills. If so consider applying for the year-long training offered on the 183-acre Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts.

You can choose from such wide ranging subjects as dairy farming, food preservation, forestry, green house propagation, pest and disease control, acquiring farm land, business planning, marketing and much more.

They also have an optional three-week winter trip to a farm in Tuscany. Sweet!

At $18,000, which includes housing, it’s definitely not cheap. But when you see how former students have crafted their own cool jobs or enterprises, you may decide it’s an investment worth making.

A less expensive (but also more limited) training option can be found at the Organic Farm School situated on the historic Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island in northwest Washington State. The publicly owned farm consists of 500+ acres that include fields, forest, wetlands, and a 10-acre economic development center.

Tuition for their 7.5 month program is $5,200 (payment plans are available) plus $180 a month for housing.

Both farm schools also exemplify the beauty of multiple streams of income.

In addition to selling farm fresh products, the Athol farm has a summer youth camp, runs its own accredited middle school housed in a converted chicken coop, and hosts children on field trips from other schools.

The Whidbey Island location runs a community school that offers shorter classes taught by volunteers and rents out space for wine tastings, dog shows, and other local events.

Add Your Voice to the Cool Job Tribe

Thousands of heads are always better than one!

How would you build on any of these cool jobs? What other options, ideas, or additional profit centers did you picture? What other cool jobs have you spotted lately? Post below!


3 New Cool “Jobs”

A really cool job. Everyone wants one. Right?

But what if you also want to do your own thing? To enjoy more flexibility and control over when, where, and how you work?

To put the life side of the work-life equation first?

Then my friend you need to create your own cool job.

It’s not as hard as you might think. Nor is it the fast-easy path to overnight riches that some gurus make it out to be.

Fundamentally, making the leap from having a boss to being your own boss comes down to two things:

1)      A great idea

2)     The courage to act on it

The good news is there truly is no end to the creative ways to make a livelihood without a job-job.

Creative Options For People Who Want to Do Their Own Thing

Last time I shared 3 cool “jobs” you can create or build on:

  • A cool way to share your of love of wine
  • Imitating master artists
  • Baking and delivering warm cookies and cold milk

In This Issue

In this issue you’ll discover how to:

As always, some of the cool ideas you’re about to “meet” come from people in an international community of licensed Profiting From Your Passion® coaches.

I hope these ideas inspire you to make your own job!

Cool “Job” #7 Share Your Love of Crafts

There are hundreds if not thousands of craft-related websites. What caught my eye was one that brings together two unlikely passions.

Geek Crafts combines geeky stuff (or what some might call nerdy) like Starwars, Harry Potter, and Wonderwoman and, of all things, crafting!

It’s also a great example of how you don’t actually have to “do” crafting. Instead you can dedicate yourself to scoping out cool crafting ideas like they do.

Plus, the blogger bios are a fun reminder that there’s more to life than office politics and commuter traffic.

paulyTake Pauly who tells us that he lives in the fabled lands of Canada” with his wife, son and “a small zoo.”

For his day job Pauly “travels all over the world” where he says he “sees the inside of many airports, hotels and taxi cabs.”

During his own time though, he “enjoys cross-stitch, as long as it is geeky.” Who knew?

Pauly and full-time crafter wife Redd co-run a store on Etsy called Geekopolis.

Oh yes, Pauly says he’s also “totally a Viking.”

Building on That Idea

When you calculate in materials and time, it can be tough to make any real money selling individual craft items. So a lot of people just give up.

But what if there were a way to sell just your crafting IDEAS?

Enter the craft pattern and education site You Can Make This. Once your project has been accepted, the company shares it with their eager crafters. Then when your pattern sells you get 50 percent of the revenue.

Side note: The business was founded by stay-at-home mom and avid crafter Kim Christopherson. It was so successful her husband Ryan was able to quit his technology job to join her. Sweet!

Cool “Job” #8 Invent a New Toy

As kids Mike Cheshire and Tom Aiezza they knew their parents weren’t keen on them playing Frisbee in the house. So they fashioned their own smaller disks out of jar lids, shaved bottle caps… whatever worked.

The childhood friends teamed up after college to produce the same mini-Frisbee toy.

flickerzRather than go to China, they hired a plastics company in Southern California to produce a first run of 7,500 Flickerz. Total cost from prototype to mold to finished product was only $10,000.

Stellar sales at 12 independent toy stores meant they were on the right track. Today their site features lots of video demonstrations. But back then the pair had posted a video of themselves doing trick throws that they posted on LinkedIn of all places.

A toys sales rep saw it and told them they needed to go to a toy fair happening in two weeks. Mike and Tom quickly put down $2,500 for half a booth and with that, Jungo Toys was officially born.

In 2012, they sold between 50,000 and 60,000 discs. Before long they were able to begin paying themselves.

In 2013, Jungo sold 120,000 units. This year they expect to double again breaking the half a million mark in revenue. Customized versions with an organization’s logo are especially profitable because there’s no packaging or sales commissions to pay out.

Building on That Idea

Having such a low price point has had an unexpected benefit. One non-government organization purchased a batch of Flickerz to keep kids standing in food lines amused. And for children at an orphanage in Kenya it’s the first toy they ever owned.

This could be a great opportunity to start a non-profit that matches non-government organizations serving poor children or those in refugee camps with toy manufacturers willing to donate over-stock toys.

Have an idea for a toy?

I found this article by the folks at Sesame Street.

blockbusterCheck out The Blockbuster Toy! How to Invent the Next Big Thing

Or if you’re further along in the process or don’t mind investing $1,250 for immersion education, consider learning from industry experts at either of these mega-events:

Cool “Job” #9 Cater to Kids

When you walk into the romantic, candle-lit dining room at Chandler’s Restaurant in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, the last word that would come to mind is “children.”

But when you realize they are part of Yankee Candle’s huge flagship store known for its Disney-like Bavarian Christmas village, then it all makes sense.

Every month the restaurant hosts a mother/daughter luncheon. Guests dress up in feather boas, tiaras, and fancy attire to enjoy an “award winning kids menu” while listening to a reading of one of the books in Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy series.

It must be a hit because Chandler’s recently added kid’s cooking classes for $25.00 per child. This includes instruction, recipes to take home, lunch, and complimentary lunch for one accompanying parent.

It’s a great deal for the parent and smart way for the restaurant to attract first-time diners.

Building on That Idea

That got me thinking. Someone who loves creative marketing and children could fashion themselves into an internationally recognized children’s event expert. (I like to think big!)

You could research other innovative ways normally adult-focused businesses are using kid-friendly events to bring parents and their credit cards in the door. Then sell your findings in the form of an e-book or marketing white paper.

Or simply use it to custom design children’s events for restaurants, retail stores, libraries, even car dealerships or dental practices.

Resource for a Change

Attend the SCORE Awards Gala Without Leaving Home

In celebration of their 50th anniversary, on Thursday, August 14 at 7:00pm Eastern SCORE is live streaming their Awards Gala

This is a great opportunity to get some inspiration and potential ideas without ever leaving home!

Two honorees that caught my eye are:

Garbage to Garden A Maine-based company picks up your food scraps and returns them as compost. If you love this idea as much as I do, this could also be a great opportunity to contact them to see how you might work together to launch this same business where you live.

Lulyboo The founder and inventor of this baby bed carrier worked with two Score mentors. One guided her to grow the business while another helped her script and produce a video entry for a local entrepreneur forum. The video came in 1st place netting the founder a cash prize of $10,000.

Add Your Voice to Cool Job Tribe

Thousands of heads are always better than one!

How would you build on any of these cool jobs? What other options, ideas, or additional profit centers did you picture? What other cool jobs have you spotted lately? Post below!

cclogolarge

The Big End of Summer
Income Generation Idea Sale!

You Really Can Live Life
On Your Own Terms.
All You Need is A Great Idea

Ideas are powerful. When you finally see a way you can make money doing what you love, something remarkable happens.

Suddenly the fear, procrastination, overwhelm, self-doubt and all the other dream killers suddenly take a back seat.

An idea gives you direction. Without your own idea, you’re destined to watch others pursue their passion while your own life passes you by.

Over the span of 19 years, I’ve helped thousands of aspiring self-bossers just like you to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can make money at it.

And the most important “dot” of all? Making sure that all ideas pass the all-important Life Test. That way you can put your life first – and work second.

Now for a limited time you can schedule a personalized Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session for the significantly reduced price of just $499.

That means for under five hundred bucks you can get one – or quite possibly – multiple income generating ideas.

Not sure what you love to do?

“The way to find out about your happiness,” said renowned mythology scholar Joseph Campbell, “is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.”

fytc coverThat’s why to help you re-discover your lost passions, your laser session includes a copy of It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Calling: A Handbook to Help You Find Your Passion and Get a Life.

And if you worry that the thing you most love to do won’t pay the bills, think again!

Once you discover the utterly liberating concept of multiple streams of income you’ll realize that more is possible than you ever imagined.

Normally this option-inspiring guide is $19.99.

But it’s yours free when you book your Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session.

Unfortunately, my busy travel and speaking schedule means I can only make this offer to the first 10 people.

If you really want to discover how you can get paid to do what you love click here to secure your spot at this special End of Summer Sale rate of just $499.

Next, get out your calendar and call me at 413-535-5107 eastern time during normal business hours. I’ll do a brief intake and schedule your one hour session.

I’ve taken a lot of career assessment tools and they always end up telling me I’m creative – which I already knew – but they still leave me stumped as to what to DO with my creativity to actually make a living.

Valerie gave me a lot of good ideas that really made me think. She helped me see how many different possibilities there are in the world for us creative types.

Lynette Turner
Los Angeles, CA

I am still trying to catch my breath after our call! I am very satisfied with the way things went… You were giving me ideas, tips and resources until the second our call ended.

Bob Nelson
Chicago, IL

Someone booked an  Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session just before this blog was posted.

That leaves just 9 available spots.

This End of the Summer “Idea Sale” will sell out.

To reserve your spot on my schedule or see more cool jobs go to : http://dreamjobx.com/career-advice-planning


3 More Ways to Get Paid to Do Work You Love

Some of the cool ideas you’re about to “meet” come from people in an international community of licensed Profiting From Your Passion® coaches.

I hope these ideas inspire you to find and grow your own income-generating idea!

  • Get Paid to Share Your Love of Wine
  • Get Paid to Imitate the Masters
  • Get Paid to Bake Cookies

Great Idea #4: Get Paid to Share Your Love of Wine

winebulanceLove turning people onto great wine? So did the couple who started a mobile in-home wine tasting service called Winebulance.

People looking for a fun way to learn about wine with their friends can schedule a knowledgeable Wine Consultant to show up at their home in a well-stocked van to educate the gathering on some of the company’s favorite wines.

Revenue comes from wine sales. But the main focus is on having local wine shops pay $2,500 to implement the business model in an exclusive territory. The shop owner can buy, lease, or rent the van.

Coincidentally one of the class exercises in the Profiting From Your Passion® coach training involves a Wine Educator.

The exercise asks students to come up with ways a wine educator could make money. I’m not going to give away all the answers. But here are a few examples to jog your thinking:

  • train wait staff at new or established restaurant
  • run wine tastings for vineyards
  • run tours through wine country
  • hold wine pairing events at restaurants

The exercise was inspired by a client who left her draining Silicon Valley job to pursue her love of wines. After re-locating to a less pricey part of California and taking a minimum wage job at a gourmet food and wine shop, the client earned her certificate as a wine educator.

Want to be a Wine Educator?

A quick search uncovered several Wine Educator programs in the UK and Australia.

In the US the Society of Wine Educators is one of several organizations that offer a self-study version with testing sites in various states. Other organizations, like the Culinary Institute of America offer live classes.

Great Idea #5: Get Paid to Imitate the Masters

juliaNo one actually paid high school senior Julia Reidhead to use acrylic paints to turn a second hand wedding dress into a beautiful Van Gogh inspired prom dress.

Instead the 18-year-old from Mesa, Arizona did it just for fun.

Building on That Idea

But that doesn’t mean Julia – or anyone with an artistic flair – couldn’t make money painting replicas of famous works of art!

You could paint custom lampshades, shower or window curtains, bed spreads, clothing, furniture, walls… virtually any surface.

Great Idea #6: Get Paid to Deliver Warm Cookies and Milk

cookies-1113tm-pic-1134If you love to make cookies you could of course open a bake shop. But then you’d have all that overhead.

Instead why not launch a Cookies & Milk Delivery service like this one in Davis, California started by a philosophy major at UC Davis and his recently graduated girlfriend.

The couple bakes the cookies at a downtown commercial kitchen then delivers them still warm along with ice cold milk to their addicted fans.

Building on That Idea

Maybe you don’t live near a large university or aren’t keen on being in the delivery business or have employees?

I can imagine warm cookies and milk working well out of a food truck. If you’re a night person you could park the truck near a busy bar scene.

If you’re not a night owl then find someone who is. That way your asset – the truck – is still earning money while you sleep.

Bake in the morning. Then during lunch time take your cookie truck to playgrounds frequented by preschoolers and their caretakers or large office complexes. Afterward, head to a large high school to catch hungry teens just as school is letting out.

The Bottom Line

Make Your Own %&#*#@ Job

skaterEvery summer there are millions of aimless teenagers who were unable to find a summer job. But not for lack of trying.

They filled out applications at the mall and at fast food restaurants. But no luck.

It simply never occurs to these teens – OR their parents – to MAKE A JOB.

  • Wash cars
  • Mow lawns
  • Paint fences
  • Babysit
  • Clean garages
  • Sweep the sidewalks in front of store fronts
  • Design websites
  • Teach adults how to use social media
  • Refinish furniture
  • Repair computers or lawn mowers

lawn chairFor instance, have you ever tried to find a lawn chair in August? The stores have already moved on to selling snow blowers!

Enter a local kid who used to snag discarded lawn chairs and reweave the seats. Every day he’d have 20 or more on display in front of his house selling at $7-$15 a pop.

In other words — Get Creative!

Can you blame these kids? After all, most adults are astonishingly uncreative about ways to make money that don’t involve getting a job-job.

In most industrialized countries people have lost the ability to connect the dots between a need and a solution we could provide in order to earn money.

sheepInstead we’ve become a nation of occupational sheep.

And the old way is no longer working. So get creative people!

As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

cclogolarge

The Big End of Summer
Income Generation Idea Sale!

You Really Can Live Life
On Your Own Terms.
All You Need is A Great Idea

Ideas are powerful. When you finally see a way you can make money doing what you love, something remarkable happens.

Suddenly the fear, procrastination, overwhelm, self-doubt and all the other dream killers suddenly take a back seat.

An idea gives you direction. Without your own idea, you’re destined to watch others pursue their passion while your own life passes you by.

Over the span of 19 years, I’ve helped thousands of aspiring self-bossers just like you to connect the dots between what you love to do and how you can make money at it.

And the most important “dot” of all? Making sure that all ideas pass the all-important Life Test. That way you can put your life first – and work second.

Now for a limited time you can schedule a personalized Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session for the significantly reduced price of just $499.

That means for under five hundred bucks you can get one – or quite possibly – multiple income generating ideas.

Not sure what you love to do?

“The way to find out about your happiness,” said renowned mythology scholar Joseph Campbell, “is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.”

fytc coverThat’s why to help you re-discover your lost passions, your laser session includes a copy of It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Calling: A Handbook to Help You Find Your Passion and Get a Life.

And if you worry that the thing you most love to do won’t pay the bills, think again!

Once you discover the utterly liberating concept of multiple streams of income you’ll realize that more is possible than you ever imagined.

Normally this option-inspiring guide is $19.99.

But it’s yours free when you book your Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session.

Unfortunately, my busy travel and speaking schedule means I can only make this offer to the first 10 people.

If you really want to discover how you can get paid to do what you love click here to secure your spot at this special End of Summer Sale rate of just $499.

Next, get out your calendar and call me at 413-535-5107 eastern time during normal business hours. I’ll do a brief intake and schedule your one hour session.

I’ve taken a lot of career assessment tools and they always end up telling me I’m creative – which I already knew – but they still leave me stumped as to what to DO with my creativity to actually make a living.

Valerie gave me a lot of good ideas that really made me think. She helped me see how many different possibilities there are in the world for us creative types.

Lynette Turner
Los Angeles, CA

I am still trying to catch my breath after our call! I am very satisfied with the way things went… You were giving me ideas, tips and resources until the second our call ended.

Bob Nelson
Chicago, IL

Someone booked an  Income Generation Idea and Action Planning Strategy Session just before this blog was posted.

That leaves just 9 available spots.

This End of the Summer “Idea Sale” will sell out.

To reserve your spot on my schedule, sign up now


How to Get Out of Job Jail

Winston Churchill said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Optimism is essential to success. All the more so if you want to make the leap to being your own boss.

In fact, the ability to view the world through the lens of opportunity is by far the fastest path to freedom.

That’s because, as you are about discover, difficulty that’s been keeping you locked in job jail may be the very thing that can set you free.

For starters, have you ever thought…

“I have so many interests that I can’t decide”

ezine1Kate is interested in lots of things. So many that she has a hard time picking just one. This makes Kate what my friend Barbara Winter calls a “scanner.”

She’s “addicted to scrapbooking,” spends hours happily researching information online, and before she got stuck with a stressful two-hour-a-day commute Kate was an avid golfer.

Unfortunately, none of Kate’s interests have anything to do with her j-o-b as a financial analyst.

Kate feels trapped. Which is ironic given her other passion. Writes Kate,

“I’m always looking at possibilities and trying to help my friends or co-workers or even total strangers who know they’re on the wrong path. One friend who is a cat lover calls me the answer lady because I’m constantly researching cool things she could do in the cat world”

In fact, Kate says getting paid to do what she’s done all along for free is “too good to be true.”

However, her excitement is short lived.

Her new worry? “What if I go in one direction only to discover it wasn’t my true calling after all?”

As a result Kate isn’t acting on any of her passions for fear that by saying ‘”yes” to one path, means closing the door on others.

Not so says Barbara. In Refuse to Choose she writes,

“…a scanner can’t choose one direction. It’s like telling a parent to choose one child to feed. A parent knows she has to feed all her children. And a scanner must find a way to follow every path that interests her.”

In fact, rather than a barrier to self-employment, having multiple interests means Kate has multiple ways she can earn money.

She could partner with a local travel agency to offer golf outings to exotic locations two or three times a year…

She could teach courses on scrapbooking throughout the year…

Or since people like to hunker indoors in the winter, scrapbooking could be a seasonal business.

That way Kate could still make money combining her love of online research with her knack for generating business ideas for cat lovers, travel lovers, sports lovers…

Better yet, she could specialize in helping other scanners!

Not only will life be more interesting, but in the end, having multiple profit centers means Kate will probably end up making more money as well.

Speaking of money… Do you worry that if you do what you love, the people and the money just won’t follow?

“Will enough people really pay me for this?”

Some people spend so much time fretting about whether there’s enough of a need to start their business that they wind up doing nothing.

Tim wants to quit his job in human resources to do freelance writing from home. But he knows it will take a while to match his former salary.

A self-described “dog guy,” Tim thought about also doing some dog sitting. But with so many kennels in the greater Washington DC area, he doubts he’d make much.

It’s a costly assumption to make.

Twenty five bucks a night may not sound like a lot, but when you travel as much as I do, it adds up! Last year alone, I paid my own dog sitter close to $1,200 to care for my aging dog Cokie in her home.

cokiekitty

In a span of 10 minutes Tim could sign up for Rover.com, a new service that matches dog owners with in-home pet sitters.

Most sitters in the DC area charge $25-$40 a day. But a woman who bills herself as the “dog whisperer” commands a whopping $80 – per dog.

And guess what? She’s got more reviews than most of the competition!

Determining market potential for any potential business is basically a number crunching exercise.

calculatorIf Tim found just three clients who, between them had five dogs, and they booked 70 nights a year ($80 x 5 dogs x 70 nights) he’d have a pretty sweet $28,000 income stream!

(If you want to learn more about how to calculate potential earnings check out my article on the Profiting From Your Passion® FAQ page.)

Joanne also wants to work from home. She’s intrigued by the idea of becoming an “outside the job box” career coach, but like Tim, she worries about the need.

“I work in a large dysfunctional organization. There’s a big shake up going on and lots of bad management decisions. Everyone is miserable — including me.

I’m the one everyone comes to for advice about how to get through this mess but I know they aren’t the types to quit their jobs to follow their bliss.

I desperately want out but I’m just afraid there’s not enough of a market out there for this kind of work.”

Let’s review…

She and everyone around her is “miserable,” but Joanne doesn’t think there’s a market for someone who can help burned out cubicle dwellers find relief?

Is every disgruntled employee a potential client? Of course not. But even if it were somehow possible to work with every person on the planet, Joanne only needs to reach enough people to get launched and then grow from there.

If for every 100,000 employees, 5 percent were open to the idea of making a living without a job – that’s 5,000 people.

Then there’s the finding that the most significant spike in people starting their own businesses is among people aged 55 to 64.

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every single day for the next ten years, this market alone is enormous.

Kate, Tim, and Joanne don’t have a problem. They have an opportunity. Once discovered, the ball is officially in their court.

As Wayne Dyer said, “There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”


It’s Never Too Late to Re-Learn Important Stuff

It’s been a while since I sent this newsletter.

In fact, even I was surprised to discover the last issue was last June!

Instead I’ve been sharing ideas and resources largely through short blog posts.

Today I felt tugged to return to my roots.

Roots that began when I published the first Changing Course newsletter way back in 1995.

(Okay now I feel old!)

cokievalThis is Cokie and me in the early days.

Cokie was probably three-years-old in this picture. Now he’s 15.

At least I can still see and hear. Cokie… not so much. But gratefully the old guy is hanging on.

A lot has happened since 1995. Heck, a lot’s happened since my last newsletter!

Over the last few months I’ve had opportunities to re-learn two important lessons.

Lessons that can help you realize your own dream of working at what you love, living life on purpose, and following your own road.

Know When Good Enough Is Good Enough

Is chronic perfectionism killing your dream?

Are you waiting for everything to be absolutely perfect before you launch your great idea… your small business… your new LIFE?

Maybe you want to start a blog or write a book or give motivational talks. But instead you endlessly tinker and tweak and adjust, making sure everything is just so… but never begin.

Trust me I’ve been there.

Over the years though, I’ve learned that all my high-minded notions of “quality standards” and “getting it right” really just equaled paralysis.

On the whole, the male entrepreneurs I know operate from a very different definition of quality. The mantra repeated by multi-millionaire speakers at the numerous marketing seminars I’ve attended always comes down to some variation of this:

“You don’t have to get it right you just have to get it going.”

One marketing guru went even further telling procrastinating perfectionists that, “Half ass is better than no ass.”

His wording may be crass but the fundamental truth remains:

If you wait for everything to be perfect you’ll never act.

Whether it’s a product, a service, or an idea, you have to put version one out there, get some feedback, improve on it, and then create a new and improved version from there.

You can always course correct as you go.

But at some point you must decide it really is good enough.

It’s a lesson I relearned just last week while recording a presentation.

I spent the better part of a day doing dry runs before finally hitting the dreaded “Record” button.

Everything was going great until around the 35 minute mark, and I coughed.

Could I have stopped and re-recorded the whole thing? Yup.

And if someone had hired me to create the video I would have.

But this was a free video I produced for a select group of people who want to learn more about an upcoming training program on how to get paid to brainstorm.

So instead I kept going.

Earlier in my entrepreneurial journey I would have been compelled to make it perfect.

Instead I chose to think most viewers would forgive the cough.

And to recognize instead the considerable effort I put into finding statistics about the boom in the numbers of people embracing self-employment and the examples of creative business ideas.

Plus the entire second half of the video is basically a free marketing lesson.

Lessons I knew this audience could use to launch or to grow a business regardless of whether they ultimately sign up to train with me or not.

So yes, I coughed. And guess what? Life went on.

Don’t Get Too Wedded to Your Dream

In October I realized a long-held dream of getting onto Oprah’s radar when I was interviewed for O magazine on how to feel more confidence.

omagazineWhen the issue finally came out I was so excited I babbled to the cashier, the other customers at the newsstand, truly anyone with a pulse – “I’m in this magazine!!!”

As honored as I was, in all honestly, my real dream was to be a guest on Oprah’s TV show.

But the show ended its 25 year run a mere two months after my book came out. Talk about a near miss.

What I learned from this experience is that people don’t fail to achieve a dream.

The failure is giving up when things don’t turn out the way we imagined.

I’ve had plenty of clients who fantasized about owning a bed and breakfast, but they didn’t have the money to buy their own place.

Happily, some discovered it much more satisfying (and less stressful) to have B&B owners who need a break to pay them to be bed and breakfast sitters instead.

Others realized that the part they really liked was the idea of decorating the place. Washing sheets and making breakfast at 6am… not so much. So they pursued decorating instead.

As the Rolling Stones reminded us, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might get what you need.”


5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 5

When it comes to changing course, money – or rather the lack of it – stops a lot of people in their tracks.

So to help, I’ve put together a five-part series on creative ways to fund your dream.

You may not be able to take advantage of every idea or resource.  In fact, none of the five ideas may be right for you and your personal situation. You need to read them anyway. Why?

First, the strategy that may not be a fit for you today may indeed be the one that launches your dream a few years from now.

Second, just knowing that options truly do exist will remind you that your crazy dream is not so crazy after all.

And finally, one of the ideas or resources you see here may be perfect for someone you know. Pass it on and you just might change a life!

Strategy #5: Know Your Options

3102014_1Ever wondered how most successful small business owners get the money to launch?

Entrepreneur magazine did and what they found might surprise you!

Of businesses less than five years old, with annual sales in excess of $1 million, a whopping 69 percent started out by using their own money to fund their business.

3102014_2Going it alone, pulling yourself and your business up by your bootstraps otherwise known as “bootstrapping” is all about getting things done while spending as little as possible and not raising outside financing.

That’s why the first four ideas in this series focused on small ways for you to bootstrap your dream. (If you missed these, then start here.)

But bootstrapping isn’t your only option.

You have five basic options for finding the money to fund your entrepreneurial dream:

OPTION 1: Using Your Own Money

OPTION 2: Debt Financing – Borrowing with the expectation that you will repay the loan

  • Borrowing from friends and family
  • Borrowing money from a bank
  • Borrowing from a micro-lender

OPTION 3: Equity Financing – Getting others to invest in your dream in exchange for a financial stake in your business

  • Friends and Family
  • Other “Small” Investors
  • Angel Investors/Professional Investors/Venture Capitalists

OPTION 4: Getting a grant

  • Private Grants
  • Government Grants and Other Assistance
  • Grants for Social Entrepreneurs
  • Grants and Funding for Creative Types
  • Grants for Non-profits

OPTION 5: Crowdfunding via sites like Kickstarter or Indigogo

  • Friends and family
  • Your social network
  • Total strangers who support your dream

You can stick to just one option. For instance, I bootstrapped the start-up of Changing Course and then continually re-invested earnings back into the business as needed.

Or you can put together various combinations.

Say you wanted to open an art gallery. You could kick in some of your own money, get a loan from your Aunt Gracie, and secure a grant from a local arts council.

So what option do successful small business people use? According to that same Entrepreneur survey:

  • Private investors — 21 percent
  • Friends and family — 21 percent
  • Line of credit from a bank (presumably using their home or other property as collateral) — 18 percent
  • Bank loans — 12 percent
  • Credit cards — 10 percent

Know How Much You Need

3102014_3Before you can even consider how you’ll get the funds, you need to know how much money you need.

If your goal is to start a small, one-person, home-based business as say a freelance writer, consultant/coach, or web designer then you’ll probably need relatively little start-up money. In this case Option 1 – bootstrapping is the way to go.

But what if you have what I call a “Big Dream”? In the past I’ve worked with clients who wanted to:

  • Open a dude ranch in the Canadian Rockies
  • Start a non-profit to help impoverished people in South Africa sell their crafts
  • Renovate a historic building into a multi-purpose art space

Big dreams tend to involve things like looking at things like renting or purchasing property, hiring employees, finding donors, travel expenses, and/or purchasing equipment or inventory – all of which require more start-up capital.

So here you’ll probably need to borrow money, find investors, seek corporate sponsorship, or all three.

In other words, the amount of money you need to change course depends on your business needs and your plans for growth.

Assess Your Entire Situation

3102014_4Once you know how much money you’ll need, you need to decide which funding option is right for you. Which strategy you choose depends on three things:

1) Your current financial obligations or circumstances

2) Your comfort level with risk

3) How quickly you want to change course

For example:

  • If you have a couple of kids about to enter college you’re in a very different financial situation than if you’re a 21-year-old who just graduated college and is living at home
  • If you’re the sole provider of a family, either as a single parent or part of a two-parent family, you’re in a different situation than someone who is only responsible for themselves
  • If you’re an individual that makes a lot of money but are drowning in credit card debt, you face different challenges than if you earn far less but spend within your means
  • If you find yourself faced with a “once in a lifetime” chance to purchase a special piece of property or a coveted business that’s up for sale then you may be willing to take out a loan, court investors, or otherwise assume a greater financial risk in order to seize the day

The Benefits of Bootstrapping

Even if you ultimately decide to use other options, starting out, the easiest way to fund your new business is to use your own money.

After all, you don’t have to fill out any applications or worry about your credit score. There are no investors to try to woo. And you don’t have to worry about repaying anyone.

At least that’s what Shep and Ian Murray discovered.

After graduating college the two brothers felt stifled in their respective Manhattan desk jobs. They longed for the laid back days of summer they’d spent as kids on Martha’s Vineyard.

3102014_5So inspired by the mega-success of another Massachusetts island business Nantucket Nectars, they quit their jobs in 1998, took a $7,000 cash advance from their credit cards, and launched designer neck tie business Vineyard Vines.

In true bootstrapping style, they ran the business themselves for the first two years. Today they have a whole team of employees.

Things have really accelerated in the last five years. The Murray’s went from a single Edgartown retail store to:

  • Having their ties worn by every living president as well as other high-profilers as John Kerry, New York Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and financier Warren Buffett
  • They’re on track to generate $100 million in sales thanks in large part to the decision to invest in their business by expanding to offer a complete clothing line for men, women, and children
  • Doubled the number of stores to 20, including new locations as far away as Plano, Texas, and Newport Beach, California
  • And signed licensing deals with the NFL, NHL, and MLB
  • And Vineyard Vines’ clothing is the “official style” of the Kentucky Derby

Not bad for a couple of bootstrappers!

Whether you want to build an empire as the Murray’s ultimately did, or are just looking to start a small self-sustaining business, the fundamental steps to funding a business remain the same.

Step 1:  Believe in your dream

Step 2: Find a way to fund it that best fits your situation and goals

Step 3: Take action!

Ready to start bootstrapping your own dream? Start with one of these strategies from the entire 5 Ways to Fund Your Dream series:

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 2: Get Your Priorities Straight
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash is available
Strategy 4: Barter


5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 4

You want to make the leap from having a boss to being your own boss. The only problem? M-o-n-e-y!

I wish I could tell you there was a 1-800-Free-Money hotline. Or give you the name of some government office that writes big, no-strings attached checks so people like you can just up and quit your job to start a business.

But I can’t. So that means you have to find another way.

Strategy #4: Barter

innWhen freelance photographer Roger William Theise found out I was from Massachusetts he positively gushed about a recent vacation to Cape Cod. He was especially taken with the charming seaside village of Chatham, home of the famous lighthouse.

So the Ithaca, New York-based shutterbug approached the keepers at one of the more upscale inns with a unique proposal.

Roger would take flattering pictures of the inn and once back at his studio he’d email the best shots. If the owners were unimpressed, they were free to keep the photos no questions asked.

However, if innkeeper liked what they saw, then Roger would be rewarded with a free one-week stay the following summer. It worked!

The enterprising photographer could have made the same pitch to owners of restaurants, clothing stores, fishing expedition boats, gourmet shops… The possibilities are endless!

More importantly, there’s no reason why the timeless practice of bartering couldn’t work for start-ups too.

What Do You Need?

If you have an idea you haven’t acted on – or began only to stall – ask yourself this question:

What do I need right this minute to get my business moving?

If you’re like most people, your first response is “money.”

It’s entirely possible that you’ll need a hefty business loan or an infusion of cash from angel investors later on.

But in the pre-launch phase most people tend to have more specific needs. Needs that have to do with gaining practical experience, training, knowledge or information, or all of above.

Things like…

  • training in how to use Quickbooks®, Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, or another type of software
  • someone to write a grant proposal for that non-profit you want to start
  • advice, mentoring, or coaching
  • someone to help you put together a crowd-sourcing campaign so you can raise tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) in start-up costs
  • marketing help
  • professional editing of your screenplay, book, or information product
  • the opportunity to assist or shadow someone doing the kind of work you’d like to do
  • web-design or tech support
  • A professional headshot or product shots

Some of these things you can get at no cost by reading QuickBooks for Dummie’s or tapping a grant-savvy friend or relative to walk you through the process.

Other times what you need is going to cost you. If funds are tight, then bartering might be the perfect solution. After all, everyone has something they can offer in exchange. You can:

  • run errands
  • cook or bake
  • care for kids or pets
  • proof-read
  • prepare taxes
  • organize things (files, garages, closets)
  • hem clothes
  • do research
  • clean
  • do basic home or auto repair…

In fact, if you know how to edit, take great photographs, write grant proposals or do any of the things on the list above – then you have something to barter.

5 Rules for Barters

Once you’ve determined what you have to give in return, consider these five rules of etiquette before, during, or after any barter.

1)      Make sure the other party wants what you have.

If the person lives with a professional chef, your offer to prepare and freeze a week’s worth of dinners probably won’t fly. Nor does it make sense to pitch pet-sitting to someone who doesn’t own animals.

Instead, make a list of things you can offer in exchange and let the other person choose.

2)     Make sure the exchange is relatively even.

Someone once asked me to wave their entire $3,000 seminar fee and wanted me cover their travel expenses to boot. What would I get out of the deal? A couple of hours handling the registration desk – something I could hire out for under $100.

Andy LaRoche, Pittsburgh PiratesI understand it’s not always possible to do a perfectly even exchange. After all how do you put a price on spending a weekend shadowing the director of a successful sports camp as some of my own clients have done? But common sense should lead you to propose something that’s more equitable.

3)     Get the agreement in writing.

Taking the time to summarize the agreement in writing can save a lot of headaches or even resentments later on.

You don’t need a formal document. A simple email thanking the person and asking if the terms you’ve outlined reflect their understanding will suffice.

4)     Do what you said you’d do – and then some.

Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end of less than satisfactory barter agreements. So while it should go without saying, make sure you follow through and do an outstanding job.

And if the value of what you’re getting exceeds what you’re giving then find a way to exceed the agreed upon expectations. Show up with or send some home-made treats or flowers. Offer to stay late. Or do more than agreed upon exchange. What you do is less important than that you express your appreciation.

5) Be gracious.

Note Card & CoffeeBartering with someone you don’t know is a leap of faith. If you initiated the barter, make sure you take the time to send a hand-written thank you card.



What about you?

Do you have a successful (or horror) barter story to share? What tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you!

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 2: Get Your Priorities Straight
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash is available
Strategy 5: Know Your Options


5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 3

You want to make the leap from having a boss to being your own boss. The only problem? M-o-n-e-y!

I wish I could tell you there was a 1-800-Free-Money hotline. Or give you the name of some government office that writes big, no-strings attached checks so people like you can just up and quit your job to start a business.

But I can’t. So that means you have to find another way.

This next idea (#3 in my 5 Ways to Fund Your Dream series) is so simple that you may have overlooked it.

Best of all… anyone can do it.

Strategy #3 Make and Stash Some Extra Cash

For the last nine-and-a-half years of her life, my mother worked as a custodian at a local state university. It was the only way she could see to earn a pension since my Dad didn’t have one.

One of the perks of the job is that college students consume a lot of cans of soda – and beer. And for my Mom that meant extra cash.

canThat’s because Massachusetts is one of 11 states with a bottle bill, which means consumers get 5 cents for every return. That may not sound like a lot. But my Mom made an extra $100 to $125 a month on the cans students discarded.

What would you do with an extra $1,200 to $1,500 a year?

Before you make up your mind that this kind of money isn’t nearly enough to fully achieve your dream, ask yourself instead how even small chunks of money might move you closer to your dream?

In other words:

  • How many photography, cooking, woodworking, beekeeping, or marketing classes could you take?
  • What kind of advanced training could you get in coaching, solar energy consulting, horticulture or wherever your interests lay?
  • What supplies or books could you buy?
  • What kind of equipment could you purchase or upgrade?
  • How much of someone else’s time could you buy in terms of business coaching, housecleaning, or administrative assistance?

I’m not suggesting you start collecting cans off the roadside (although plenty of people do and they aren’t all homeless). In fact, there may be ways you can make extra money that will also bring you closer to your dream.

For instance, if you love to paint and you enjoy teaching others check out a company called Paint Nites. The brainchild of co-founder Dan Hermann, Paint Nite® “is a new concept blending two timeless pastimes: painting and drinking cocktails.”

paintBars and restaurants with an extra room win because they get paying customers in the door on a slow night to enjoy a drink while taking a fun painting class.

Artists and teachers win because they earn the majority of class fees while Paint Nite® does most of the marketing.

Paint Nite® wins because they profit from a smaller share of the class fees and they get a free venue for their classes.

To learn more and to apply to either host a class or teach one, go here.

Maybe sewing, quilting, jewelry making, or other crafts or hobbies like photography or scrapbooking are more your thing. If so check out You Can Make This.

How it works is, you create the design and the how-to guide and the company features it on their site. When someone buys it, you as the content publisher earn 50 percent of the sale price.

I interviewed company founder Kim Christopherson maybe five years ago. Turns out after just one year, her website was so successful that husband Ryan was able to quit his job to work with Kim full time.

How did she start? It all began when she turned to eBay to earn extra money by selling her crafts.

So, what about you? What can you do to bring in an extra $100-$200 a month?

If you love to shop can you snag great designer clothes at Goodwill, Salvation Army or close out sales and sell them at pricier consignment shops or online?

Could you tutor kids in math or language or an instrument?

Can you make extra money teaching, consulting, or supervising others on how to write a grant, wallpaper a room, build a tree house, use Adobe Illustrator® or anything else where you have some knowledge or skills?

mugEveryone has stuff you don’t need that you can sell on eBay or Craigslist? Heck I have a dozen old Starbuck’s city series coffee mugs I bought for $10-15 each that now fetch $40-$90 just sitting in a cupboard.

There are all sorts of ways to earn extra money – money you can specifically earmark toward starting your small business.

What you’ll soon realize is that the money itself isn’t the important part. The important part is that you will have taken proactive steps to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 2: Get Your Priorities Straight
Strategy 4: Barter
Strategy 5: Know Your Options


5 Ways to Fund Your Dream Part 2

When it comes to changing course, money – or rather the lack of it – stops a lot of people in their tracks.

So to help, I’ve put together a five-part series on creative ways to fund your dream.

You may not be able to take advantage of every idea or resource. In fact, none of the five ideas may be right for you and your personal situation. You need to read them anyway. Why?

First, the strategy that may not be a fit for you today may indeed be the one that launches your dream a few years from now.

Second, just knowing that options truly do exist will remind you that your crazy dream is not so crazy after all.

And finally, one of the ideas or resources you see here may be perfect for someone you know. Pass it on and you just might change a life!

Strategy #2: Get Your Priorities Right

Comedian and actor Chris Rock remarked in an interview, “Having money doesn’t make you rich. Having options makes you rich.”

Arianne and Scott Bennett didn’t have either. The couple desperately wanted to travel. But they didn’t have any expendable income.

However they were both able to afford their $4.50 pack a day cigarette habit. Smoking had become a priority.

So in 1998 they both decided to quit and stash the money they saved into a travel fund. Ten months later the couple had enough money to fly to Amsterdam where some friends had recently moved.

falafelThey loved the canals and the old world charm. But what Arianne and Scott really fell in love with were the many falafel shops. So they returned to the states to open their first Amsterdam Falafel shop and today run a booming franchise business.

Arianne and Scott’s dream began with a simple decision to put their money into something that would bring them joy. Can you say that about where your money goes?

If not, where can you cut back? Could you cancel or downgrade a pricey cable bill. Pack your lunch. Skip the daily latte. Whatever you do be sure you redirect the money you save into a special Dream Account.

For my friends Linda and Waino saving money isn’t a strategy. It’s a lifestyle.

Throughout his life Waino had a series of low-paying jobs, including school bus driver and hired hand at a dairy farm. Linda started out as an English teacher but soon discovered a love of making pottery.

For the last 30 years she’s thrown pots in her well-lit basement studio. In the spring and fall, Linda teaches pottery classes at a local college. And for a few weeks each summer, she runs classes for kids in her studio.

Of course like everyone, there are times when, Linda feels pressured by the demands for her work. But while her employed friends get a measly 2-3 weeks of vacation, Linda takes ten.

Freshly-Harvested-VegetablesThe couple grows much of their own food. So she takes three weeks off in May to plant their massive vegetable garden. The entire month of August is spent reading books, playing cards, and swimming at a rustic cottage on a remote lake in Maine that the couple own with Linda’s sister and her husband.

After a hectic few month run up to the busy Christmas craft season Linda takes three weeks off in January to cross country ski from her front door and to catch up on things around the house.

This isn’t Linda’s only vacation time. In the last few years she and a friend cross-country skied their way across a part of Switzerland, spent a week with other long-time friends and me in Cozumel Mexico, and last year she accompanied a friend to Ecuador.

Did I mention that Linda and Waino’s combined income has never been more than $50,000? If you’re wondering how they can do all of this and still afford to take over ten weeks off a year, it has everything to do with priorities.

The couple prides themselves on living a full but frugal life. Ardent environmentalists, they repair rather than replace, buy only what they need and for everything else they go used, barter with friends, or go without. They raise chickens for the eggs and grow and preserve a fair amount of their own food.

The mortgage on their small but comfortable home has long been paid off and they have more saved for retirement than the vast majority of those earning two-to-three times more.

If you live in pricy areas like New York City, Boston, or San Francisco it’s not always easy to live on less. So if you’re ready for a change of scenery, consider relocating to a more affordable place where your dollar will go much further.

cafeIf you’re up for re-prioritizing in a big way, you could always go international. Running an existing portable business or starting a new business in another country is actually pretty doable. There are ex-pats opening cafes, using Skype to continue to work with clients back home, and importing crafts and other products back home.

Getting a job in another country can be a major challenge, but it’s not impossible. The reason Linda went to Ecuador was to accompany a friend who couldn’t afford to retire in the U.S. and wanted to check things out. On her first visit the friend got a job teaching English and has since relocated there full-time.

You don’t have to retire to benefit from this list of best places to retire from International Living magazine.

Nor do you need to move, raise your own chickens or grow your own food. But, if you’re serious about finding a way to fund your dream – and enjoy more life – then consider ways you can live on less. In a word: Prioritize.

As Margaret Young said:

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

Strategy 1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash
Strategy 4: Barter
Strategy 5: Know Your Options


5 Ways to Fund Your Dream

When it comes to changing course, money – or rather the lack of it – stops a lot of people in their tracks.

So to help, I’ve put together a five-part series on creative ways to fund your dream.

You may not be able to take advantage of every idea or resource.  In fact, none of the five ideas may be right for you and your personal situation. You need to read them anyway. Why?

First, the strategy that may not be a fit for you today may indeed be the one that launches your dream a few years from now.

Second, just knowing that options truly do exist will remind you that your crazy dream is not so crazy after all.

And finally, one of the ideas or resources you see here may be perfect for someone you know. Pass it on and you just might change a life!

Idea #1: Find a Contest Related to Your Dream and Enter It

If you’re a writer or an artist or you love to make music or fancy cakes or you have a great business idea or a host of other things, why not enter a contest?

penguinIf you think it’s a total long-shot let me tell you about my friend Dyan DiNapoli aka The Penguin Lady.

Dyan didn’t enter a contest. But she did have a dream of working with sea animals at an aquarium. Not everyone supported her decision to go back to college to pursue the required degree.

It’s not that they thought she wasn’t up to the task. Rather they worried that the odds were not good, telling Dyan, “It’s too competitive.”

I loved Dyan’s response: “I just kept reminding myself – somebody’s going to get that cool job. It might as well be me.”

The same thing applies here. Someone is going to win that contest. It might as well be you!

In fact, it was a contest that launched the writing career of a registered nurse named Elizabeth Berg. Her first attempt came at nine when she entered a poem contest in American Girl magazine. Twenty five years later Elizabeth entered and won a writing contest sponsored by another magazine.

She penned magazine articles for ten years before writing her first novel. Today Elizabeth has numerous New York Times best-selling books to her name.

To be clear, entering a contest is not the same as sitting on your hands hoping to hit the lottery. Rather in each case you actually have to take positive action in order to win.

Finally the great thing about entering a contest is that even if you don’t win the contest you’ll still have won because you’ll have improved your craft and learned a ton along the way.That’s how some of the biggest Agency SEO have made it.

To get your own creative juices flowing, I’ve pulled together three of the countless contests happening this very moment.

The Staples’s Make Your Idea Happen Contest

Can you capture your great idea in 100 words or less? Well, you’ll need to if you want to win one of 10 prizes office supply giant Staples is giving out.

winnerGrand prize is $25,000, first prize is $15,000, and second prize $10,000. All prizes are all in the form of tech and office store products of your choice.

Plus winners receive something even more valuable. Free specialized business coaching from an impressive line-up of experts including a well-known chef, jewelry designer, and author.

And a lucky seven runners-up can cash in on $5,000 in products.

But you’ll have to act FAST because entry is due February 3 at 5PM eastern. That’s TODAY!

The only catch is you have to “Like” them at Facebook to enter and give them more pay for twitter followers. (A very clever marketing tactic you may use in your own business.)

Once you hit “like” you’ll find helpful sample entries and bios of the panelists. So… what are you waiting for!

Pillsbury Bake-Off

I grew up hearing about winners of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The prize back then was $10,000. No small sum at the time.

pillsbury

Today the grand prize is a cool $1 million and a spot on Queen Latifa’s show! To learn about all of the recent winners of the 46th bake-off – and most importantly — to get on their list for news of the next one, go here.

Pillsbury isn’t the only game in town. King Arthur flour sponsors baking contests at dozens of state fairs.

And if cake decorating is your thing this Cake Decorating Classes site lists upcoming contests in the US, Canada and the UK.

Baking and cooking contests are so popular that there are entire websites dedicated to the topic – which is a cool business idea itself. Two I found are Cooking Contest Central and Contest Cook.

John Lennon Songwriting Contest

johnlennon

Since 1997 this international songwriting contest has awarded millions in prize money and products to amateur and professional songwriters who submit entries in 12 categories including rock, hip hop, Latin, gospel, country, children’s, and more.

The contest is open year-round and features two sessions — with 72 Finalists, 24 Grand Prize Winners, 12 Lennon Award Winners and 1 “Song of the Year.”

You don’t need a professional recording and instrumental compositions are encouraged. Entries will be judged on originality, melody, composition, and (when applicable) lyrics.

This year’s prize packages total over $300,000.00! Among the judges are Bob Weir, Jesse Harris, The Black Eyed Peas, The Bacon Brothers and The Veronicas!

What if you don’t win? Then enter another one and another one until you do.

Your Turn

Know of another contest? Get an aha? Or even just a boost of inspiration? Great! Scroll down to post your thoughts and ideas here!

Strategy 2: Get Your Priorities Straight
Strategy 3: Make and Stash Some Extra Cash is available
Strategy 4: Barter
Strategy 5: Know Your Options

Announcement: Registration for the Spring 2014 Profiting from Your Passions® career expert training starts soon. If you love to think outside the job box and help others, get on the Priority Notification page to learn more.


The Difference between prosperity and poverty

I saw the most incredible sunset the other day. I had to pull my car over to soak it in, this fleeting sky painting.

These small gifts don’t show up in my life more often than anyone else’s. I think I just notice them more.

I’m sharing this monument capital group holdings because few, if any, career advisors talk about gratitude as an essential element of career change.

When you think about it, career counselors and coaches are in the business of helping you move from where you are to where you want to be. In other words, changing your work and life are by definition all about the future.

Gratitude on the other hand is very much about the present.

It’s not always easy to be grateful when what you want is freedom, control over your time, and the satisfaction of knowing that the work you do matters. But what you have instead is a soul sucking job that leaves you no time to see, never mind smell, the roses.

Yet if you really want to make a positive change, it’s imperative to shift from a state of constant yearning for what you don’t have to being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you do have… right now.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin talked about this concept in their groundbreaking book Your Money or Your Life writing,

“So much dissatisfaction comes from focusing on what we don’t have that the simple exercise of acknowledging and valuing what we do have can transform our outlook.” Said another way, ungrateful people make lousy self-change agents.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are a lot of people in dire circumstances. Circumstances made all the more difficult during this holiday season.

Yet, say Dominguez and Robin, “Once we are above the survival levels, the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.”

Even during my most financially challenging and emotionally discouraging days (and trust me there have been many), I still knew that I was blessed.

After all, I can see. I can hear. I have all my limbs. I am, God-willing, free of disease.

I can walk down my street in relative safety. I have food and a home and heat.

I have clean water, access to medical care, transportation.

I have friends and family who love me. And I am blessed to have all of you.

Living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking. According to Melody Beattie there are actual tangible benefits:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

On the bulletin board at my post office hangs a quote from the Women’s Theology Center in Boston. It reads, “We must go slowly, there’s not much time.”

Achieving a dream takes hard work, perseverance, and, yes, time. Life is too short to put off happiness until we have achieved our goal. With a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination.

As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed or the company of a loved one this Thanksgiving season and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now.

Take positive action to go after that better future. But also be here now… and savor the journey.

What are YOU grateful for today? Take a moment to scroll down and share.
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(And don’t forget to take advantage of the Big 50% Off Everything You Need to Change Course! Discount will appear in cart.)


You really only need two things to become your own boss

What do you think it takes to create a successful business? Money? Time? Both?

Before I answer that question I’d like you to meet someone who came up with a great idea on a Saturday, was in business by Monday and grew sales to the $1 million mark in a single year.

Her name is Maria Elena Ibanez.

It all started at a routine appointment at her hairdresser. There she happened to strike up a conversation with another customer who had a background in the Latino food business.

This impromptu meeting stimulated Maria Elena’s hunger… for opportunity. So much so that in that instant she made up her mind to become a major player in the Latino food industry.

That was in 2002.

By the end of year one, her business, Intermark Foods had $1 million in sales from four food products. By 2009 Maria Elena had led her company into the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Company for three years running.

It’s important to note that Maria Elena already had a background in business. In fact, she’d already launched two successful international computer distribution businesses and sold one. So, starting a business was nothing new.

But this new enterprise took her into an entirely different industry. In fact she knew nothing about the food business what so ever. Zip. Nada.

What she lacked in industry knowledge, Maria Elena made up for in her confidence to act on an opportunity when she saw one.

So, what can you learn from this “weekend business launcher” that can help you jumpstart your own entrepreneurial dreams? Plenty! Here are 5 essential lessons to get you started

Lesson 1: Find People Who Know More Than You Do

Stop thinking you need to know everything before you can begin. As Woodrow Wilson once said, “I use all the brains I have and all that I can borrow.”

There are lots of ways to tap the expertise of other people. You can partner with a subject matter expert, you can apprentice with an expert, you can pay someone to consult with you from time to time, or all of the above. The key is to ask!

Lesson 2: Create Your Own Crash Course

You don’t need to get an MBA or have worked in a field for 20 years to figure out the basics. Maria Elena ordered a couple of cases of books on Amazon and spent a few weeks creating her own crash course in the food and grocery industry.

Pretend your boss told you to put together a three month self-paced training program on how to make money growing irises in your backyard or how to get a syndicated talk radio show. You’d figure it out right?

If you want to be self-employed you need to start acting like the boss of you! Get busy making a list of what you need to know to move your dream forward.

Next create a plan for how you will learn what it is you need to know. Will you do a web search? Read a book? Make a phone call?

Then take one small step, and another and another until you have completed the plan.

Lesson 3: Trust Your Instincts

How many times have you seen a great business idea only to second guess yourself because you told yourself, it’s too “obvious”? Or, “If it’s such a good idea someone would have done it by now.” Nonsense.

Maria Elena built her brand by targeting an under-served niche in the Latin food market — dairy foods. How did she know to specialize there? Simple. She walked the aisles in the supermarket and looked for what was missing.

The key is to trust your instincts. If something looks like an opportunity, acts like an opportunity, and your gut is screaming, “Yes!” then pay attention!

Lesson 4: See Problems as Opportunities

Successful business owners understand that opportunities often come disguised as problems. For instance, Maria Elena could have pulled back during the slow economy. Instead she capitalized on it.

Cheaper rent and more available brainpower looking for work are just two reasons why she says an economic downturn is the best time to start a business.

What problem can you capitalize on right now? Lost your job? Can you use the extra time between job hunting to read a book on marketing or create a small profit center?

No idea what kind of business you could start that might actually build on the things you enjoy doing? Make a list of friends who know you well enough to recognize your unique gifts or interests who may recall any long lost dreams you’ve perhaps lost sight of.

Then invite them to help you come up with business ideas that would make best use of your own unique genius. Warning: Only invite friends who support your desire to be your own boss. Otherwise your brainstorming session will probably lead you back to working in a cubicle.

If that doesn’t work, hire an entrepreneurially-minded career coach who knows how to connect the dots between what you like to do and how you can make your own job doing it.

Lesson 5: Free Yourself From Analysis Paralysis

I know people who are still working on a business plan or website they began nearly a decade ago. They constantly plan and tinker and research and think… But they never launch.

Notice Maria Elena did not spend years, months, or even weeks locked in analysis paralysis. She made a decision one day and two days later was in full blown action mode.

She acted so fast in fact that the Latino food expert Eric Lefkofsky she met at her hairdressers on Saturday reported to work in Ms. Ibanez’s home office on Monday!

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to run out and start an empire tomorrow. But imagine what you could do if you just dove in and started somewhere…. anywhere!

Will you make mistakes along the way? I certainly hope so. Because if you aren’t making mistakes, then you’re not learning anything.

Will you go from $0 to a million dollars in a year? Clearly Maria Elena Ibanez’s story proves that some people do. But this is definitely the exception.

Does that mean you shouldn’t start? Not at all.

It took me seven years before I became an “overnight success!” However, if I’d understood these simple lessons earlier, I’m certain I could have cut that time in half.

There’s one more thing I wish I’d had more of sooner. And it’s not what you think.

You see, everyone thinks it takes money to make money. Not true. I’ve had clients who had lots of money. Some had both money and plenty of time to launch a business. And in all cases, I was able to help them craft a viable idea for their first profit center.

And yet they still couldn’t get out of their own way for one reason and one reason only: Lack of confidence.

You see, it really takes just two things to change course: A good idea and the confidence to act on it.

What about you?

Do you have a great idea but lack the confidence to act? Do you have abundant confidence but are stuck on the idea part? Do you have both? Neither?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


How to Turn a Problem Into A Profitable Product

I recently had an encounter that opened my eyes – big time.

It happened when I hired a guy to perform the inspection on the new house I’m buying. I quickly learned that John has 11 children.

If that wasn’t amazing enough, he and his wife are getting set to pack the family into a huge caravan and crisscross the United State home schooling (or should I say “road schooling”) the kids as they go.

car(Okay they’ll need a bigger car than this one and you need to substitute a bunch of boxes for a whole bunch of kids… but you get the idea.)

So how can a guy who inspects houses for a living afford to take several years off from working to travel and spend time with his family?

Turns out he and his oldest son developed an app for his smart phone that makes the capture and sharing of inspection information both easier for the inspector and more user-friendly for the consumer.

They’re about to license their SaaS to a group of housing inspectors for a cool quarter of a million dollars. Cha-Ching!

That got me thinking about how a lot of people – and women especially – shy away from technology-related business ideas. That’s a real shame because we’re losing out on tremendous financial opportunities.

For example, yesterday I emailed you about a woman named Esther from the Netherlands.

Esther is a busy mom with zero entrepreneurial experience who started a successful software business in her living room.

What’s remarkable is that she didn’t have any idea what she was going to create. And she had only limited money to invest in a business.

Even more surprising, she has no experience in software. None!

So, how did she do it?

Esther’s journey began when she stopped thinking “I have to be an expert” and started thinking “find painful problems.”

If that doesn’t make sense yet, that’s ok. It will soon…

Because once you find whole a bunch of people who all share a common painful problem then you’ve got the essential foundation from which to launch a highly profitable small business.

In John’s case, it was other home inspectors. For Esther, it was photographers.

But it could also be any business owners or practitioners: Auto-mechanics, restaurant owners, personal trainers, chiropractors, or attorneys. The list is endless

Talk to people who are in the same occupation or situation and I guarantee you’ll learn about a shared problem or challenge.

John already knew the challenges he and other home inspectors faced. And his son was a self-described geek.

But Esther created a business from nothing by simply asking questions, selling her product before it existed, and using that money to hire an expert to build the product for her!

Okay so how does this process work? I’m sure you have plenty of questions…

You’re not alone!

Which is why I’m hosting an Educational No-Pitch Webinar called:

How to Find Product Ideas And Pre-sell Them Before You Build Them (And Then How to Find & Hire Experts to Build the Product for You!)

It’s going to happen live on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 1:00PM.

The Webinar is being taught by Dane Maxwell.

Dane was referred to me by a trusted mutual friend who until recently was the educational director at the mega-affiliate site Clickbank. And the referral came just a week after my house inspection.

Both of these tidbits are important because as much as I hate to admit it, I’m wary of things I don’t understand.

You see, despite running an online business since 1998, I’m not the least bit technically-savvy. (Just ask my assistant Lisa!)

I mean before I met Dane I’d never heard the term “SaaS.” Now I know it stands for “software as a service” and according to Wikipedia the SaaS market is b-o-o-m-i-n-g.

So I sat in on one of Dane’s webinars and was practically jumping out of my seat with excitement about the possibilities for those searching for a viable way to become your own boss.

If you want to learn how Esther and others have created a recurring stream of income with no idea, limited money, and no software experience for settlement and annuity – then you do not want to miss this educational, no-pitch Webinar.

How to Find Product Ideas And Pre-sell Them Before You Build Them (And Then How to Find & Hire Experts to Build the Product for You!)

Thursday November 14, 2013
1:00 PM Eastern
12:00 PM Central
11:00 AM Mountain
10:00 AM Pacific
18:00 GMT

Register here now

If John, Esther (and score of others) can do it… so can you. See you Thursday!


Losing Your Way

In a 2010 issue of More Bailey Jack recounts the years she spent in low pay, low satisfaction jobs. Her true love was art.

But everyone “knows” there’s no money in art… right?

Sadly, like so many people who fail to listen to their heart, Bailey had lost her way.

It wasn’t until her 50s that she finally found her footing and with it a new livelihood as a working artist.

Even if she’d wanted to take classes, Bailey couldn’t afford them. So she taught herself to paint. And as it turns out she was really, really good at it.

But how could painting ever pay the bills?

After all she worked from 3am to noon, including weekends and holidays. Since she could never attend weekend art shows she never bothered to apply.

And on her meager earnings she couldn’t afford to buy canvases anyway.

“A vicious cycle became my life,” writes Bailey.

Then one day while she was painting in her studio, a neighbor named Dr. Pam Barge came knocking. The certified life coach, and now friend, sat Bailey down for a long talk.

roadmapPam told her that without some sort of roadmap… a plan… Bailey would keep going in circles and getting exactly nowhere.

It was a break through moment for Bailey. “Sometimes a stranger has to open your eyes and ears to hear what your heart is speaking,” she said.

That very night, before going to her “dreaded, low pay unhappy environment job,” she wrote out a six month plan. One that would focus on the steps she needed to take and ways to overcome the obstacles holding her back.

That’s when Bailey came up with a creative way a way to afford “canvas.” After all, any surface can be a canvas. Right?

So she began to use whatever was available. She painting on bead board, vintage doors, cast away wood, even recycled cabinet doors. But she needed more. But with no money… what to do?

dogShe approached a contractor whose yard was filled with discarded kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately he wasn’t interested in giving them away or selling them.

Sadly a lot of people would have given up. Not Bailey.

Instead she painted a portrait of the contractor’s dog and offered it to him for free.

It worked!

Before long the guy was stacking old doors on her front porch by the dozens.

Bailey also squirreled away bits of money to pay the fees to get into juried art shows and began approaching galleries.

It was in one of these galleries where a buyer from HGTV saw one of her paintings and promptly bought it for one of the shows.

From there Bailey’s art career took off. Check out a small sampling of her delightful work here.

Today her creations, all in the same whimsical style as the dog and Princess Leyla paintings shown here, are featured in galleries throughout Georgia and Florida.

ladyShe gets to travel the southeast to attend juried shows. And a once far off dream is her livelihood.

Best of all say Bailey, “I love the fact that I am creating everyday some image that may make someone happy.”

Finally putting an end to what Bailey so perfectly described as her “ridiculous journey of avoidance,” came down to two simple steps:

  1. Listen to where your heart wants to go and
  2. Devise a concrete roadmap to get there.

Whether you’re 25, 55, or 75 — life is way too short to avoid your dreams. So what’s your plan?

I’d Love to Hear from YOU!

What’s YOUR take away from Bailey’s story? Scroll down to share now.

And please take a moment to like us at the Changing Course Fan Page.


Realizing a Dream in Mid-Life

Much of my own inspiration comes from you my readers. People like Mary Alice Murphy who wrote to share her story.

Mary Alice lives in Silver City, New Mexico, a place she describes as “a gorgeous little town in far southwest New Mexico tucked into mountains with desert not too many miles away.”

Mary Alice spent most of the first five decades of her life not really knowing what she wanted to be “when she grew up.” Then at 58, it happened!

That’s when Mary Alice realized she wanted to be a newspaper reporter. She worked for a small local paper for ten years before being laid off at 68.

newspaperMost people in the same predicament would have just retired. But did I mention Mary Alice loves being a reporter?

“I not only continued being a newspaper reporter, but” says Mary Alice, “four days after being laid off, I had The Grant County Beat — my own local online news source — up and running.”

Overnight she went from employee to small business owner.

That meant needing to tackle things like becoming an LLC, getting financial advice, and finding a good but affordable webmaster.

By far though, the biggest challenge is the same one that dogs all off and on-line publications – generating ad revenue to pay the bills.

There are two things that are getting Mary Alice through this inevitable lean phase typical of the first few years of any business.

cameraladiesFirst there was the support of friends, some of whom she’s enlisted as unpaid or in her words “pitifully paid” writers.

The other thing that keeps Mary Alice going, “are the wonderful testimonials I receive from friends, as well as strangers, about how my news is ‘the best in town,’” she says, adding, “I thrive on compliments.”

Who doesn’t! In fact, I find central to most of my own clients’ dreams is the desire to somehow make a difference in the lives of others.

Mary Alice found her passion at 58 and then changed course in a big way at 68. Happily for both her and her many readers, the Beat goes on.

“It’s not making me rich,” writes Mary Alice, “but it’s keeping me happy and occupied!”

Your Turn

Do you know what you want to be “when you grow up”? Who do you turn to for support? What spurs you on to push through the tough times?

Share your story now either here or at the Changing Course Fan Page.


The Great Work Debate: Money Vs. Happiness

My nephew Jason was pretty excited about starting college. “Do you have any idea what you’d like to do when you graduate?” I asked. “Something in the sciences,” he said adding, “and where I can make a lot of money.” “Is that all?” I asked. Jason paused for a moment before replying. “Well, I just hope I can find a job I don’t hate too much.”

Time for a little auntie-to-nephew pep talk, I thought. “You have your whole life before you,” I said, “don’t you think you should be shooting higher than just short of misery?” Jason looked confused. “What should I be shooting for?” It was becoming obvious I was going to have to spell it out. “Satisfaction, fulfillment, you know – HAPPINESS!”

By the look on my dear nephew’s face I knew he wasn’t buying it. This got me thinking about the great debate raging inside many working adults today: Money vs. Happiness.

Money: 10 – Happiness: 2

At 41, my friend Eva is not rich, but she does earn a very good salary as a human resources manager in a federal agency. She has a closet full of clothes, owns a great house, drives a shiny new car and can afford in-home care for her two children. Last year she and her family rented a beach house for two weeks.

By all accounts, Eva should be happy, right? Wrong.

Eva works in one of those high-stress, need-it-yesterday type jobs. (Sound familiar?) Like a lot of people, she longs for the good old days. A mere decade ago, giving your employer a highly productive eight or nine hour day meant you were a dedicated employee. Give up a lunch hour once a week, come in on a Saturday once every few months and you were on a fast track to the top. How things have changed.

For Eva, career advancement isn’t even on the agenda. Instead, she’s just trying to stay afloat in the rising workflow rapids. Employees are expected to arrive before 8 a.m., work through lunch and often through dinner. On those rare occasions when she needs to leave by 6 p.m., Eva feels compelled to apologize for having to “skip out early.”

Then there’s personal time – what’s left of it that is. Tethered to her job by technology and the new “ever available” work ethic, Eva is expected to pick up voice and email messages from home, put in time on the weekends and check into the office during vacation. To say that Eva is unhappy would be an understatement.

Oh, but did I mention she makes a great salary?

Is That All There is My Friend?

No one in his or her right mind sets out to be miserably well off. Quite to the contrary. If we are to believe the advertising industry, money, and all the goods and services it can buy, is precisely what it takes to achieve that elusive state of “happiness.”

So earn and spend we do. But are we any happier?

Not according to Your Money or Your Life authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The authors asked over 1,000 people from the United States and Canada to rate themselves on a happiness scale of 1 (miserable) to 5 (joyous), with 3 being “can’t complain.”

Even Dominguez and Robin’s were surprised to find there to be no correlation what so ever between income and happiness. In fact, people earning between $0 – 1,000 a month reported being slightly happier than those whose monthly income exceeded $4,000.

Even though we own more than our parent’s generation, the percentage of Americans describing themselves as “very happy” peaked in 1957. Since then it has remained fairly stable or declined. This, despite the fact that American’s consume twice as much as they did in the 1950s, when the average size of a house was about the same as many two-car garages today.

What about you: Does your income far exceed your level of bliss? If so, you may be suffering from a case of “Affluenza?” Producers of the PBS television program by the same name, describe the disease as:

  • the bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Jones
  • an epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream.

If you think you might be a chronic sufferer, you can learn about both the diagnosis – and cure – at the Affluenza program site PBS.org/kcts/affluenza.

Happiness: 10 – Money: 2

Ok, what if you could reverse the equation? What if you could trade money for happiness? Would you?

Doug Ellis did. While he was in the corporate world, Doug had a better than average income. The fact that he had retirement vesting and other so called “golden handcuffs” made it tough to think about leaving. In the back of his mind, though, he knew money was only part of the happiness equation.

As his fifth year rolled around, Doug began to question whether being constantly “stressed and squeezed by the pressures of middle management” was worth it. As Doug explained it: “There are a lot of pressures forcing you to conform to a Dilbertesque existence. Eventually you either leave the cube farm, or hunker down in your cube and become an occupational veal calf.”

For Doug, the choice was hard, but clear. He handed in his notice, packed up, moved to a small town in Colorado and never looked back. Surrounded by mountains, Doug now walks to his new job as a writer for a small software company. “Life is short,” he says, adding “…one of the saddest things that can happen in pursuit of making a living is enslaving yourself to your boss’s dream, or giving up your own dream out of fatigue and fear. No paycheck, no matter how steady and fat, is worth it.”

The Choice is Yours

Well, where do you come down on the great debate? Is that paycheck worth the sacrifices? If you are leaning toward the happiness camp, you’re not alone. In a survey of 1,000 workers conducted by Robert Half International, two-thirds said they would willingly trade pay for more free time. For many, making a living is starting to take a back seat to having a life.

Is the thought of earning less money scary? You bet. That’s why I stayed in my own high-stress job for as long as I did. Then, without warning, my mother died of heart attack. She was five months away from retirement.

It was only then that I understood that predictability is a double-edged sword. Financial security wasn’t the only thing I could count on. If I didn’t take control of my life, I was destined to remain miserably well off.

Walking away from a good job with good benefits was risky. To me though, the real risk is that of looking back at my life twenty years down the road and knowing, that I was miserable, but I at least I had a good dental plan. End of debate.


What Your Guidance Counselor, Career Counselor, and Own Mother Probably Never Told You… You Don’t Need A Job to Make a Living

The alarm clock jars you awake at some insanely early hour. As you hit the snooze button you think, “there’s gotta be a better way to make a living.” As someone who rolled out of bed this morning at 8:30, I’m here to deliver the good news: there is.

A lot of people dream of escaping “Dilbert’s world” and being their own boss. Perhaps the biggest reason these dreams get derailed is money. Or, more accurately, faulty thinking about what it means to “make a living.” I’m no exception. For a long time I thought before I could take the leap to self-employment, I had to first figure out a venture that would generate the same amount of income as I was then earning.

Develop Multiple Profit Centers

Not so, says Barbara Winter, self-bosser and author of Making a Living Without a Job Winter is an enthusiastic advocate of what she calls “multiple profit centers.” Instead of thinking in terms of a single income, i.e. a “job,” Winter recommends aspiring entrepreneurs develop several income sources.

Outdoor enthusiast and neighbor Bob Sadowski is living proof that you can have your cake and eat it too. Bob lives on 80 acres in rural Plainfield, MA where he’s parlayed his life passions into his livelihood. When not running New England Bob’s Snowmobile Tours of Quebec snowmobiling tours throughout Quebec (one covers nearly 1,100 miles) this vintage car enthusiast specializes in buying and selling antique car and truck parts out of his barn.

Today my income comes from seven sources:

1) I create and sell books, CDs, and other products for other people looking to take the leap from having a job to having a life. For example, a few years back I put on a big seminar in the Rocky Mountains with Barbara Sher (Wishcraft, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Refuse to Choose), and Barbara Winter (Making a Living Without a Job). I had the entire four-day event recorded and have been selling the 24-CD Making Dreams Happen audio program ever since.

2) I do telephone consultations with people from literally all over world on how to turn what you love to do into income.

3) Over time I realized I am not the only person who found their calling by helping other people find theirs. So I started an Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Program to train other people who get paid to give career advice from the comfort of their own home.

4) Drawing upon research I did in graduate school, I’ve established myself as an expert on the topic of women’s self-limiting patterns and philosophies. Now I’m asked to deliver my How to Feel As Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are for such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Intel, American Women in Radio and Television, Harvard, and MIT.

4) A few years ago, I was approached by the career development office of a federal agency to deliver my “Outside the Box Career Planning” seminar for people getting ready to retire. It was so successful that they offered me a contract to run 10 sessions a year in D.C.

5) Speaking of workshops, every year I team up with Barbara Winter to co-lead an entrepreneurial boot camp called Work at What You Love for people who want to quit their job and get a life. To date well over 600 people have attended this annual event and the success stories continue to roll in!

6) I earn a fair amount of money as an affiliate of organizations that offer products and services I believe would benefit my readers. In case you are not familiar with affiliate programs work… basically every time someone clicks on a link from my site to one of these products or services and makes a purchase, I receive a referral fee of anywhere from $20 to $500.

7) Not long ago I started a member program called the Fast Track Your Dreams Community. Since the point is to jumpstart the change process, members start with a huge bag full of life-shifting books and CDs. From there they pay a low monthly member fee to continue to enjoy password protected access to monthly Teleclasses, a private member forum, and more. Membership sites are a great way to create a steady income stream – something I know is important to anyone transitioning from a regular paycheck to self-employment. What fascinates me is how much money people are making in such unique niches as embroidery, wrestling, and guitar playing. To learn more about how you can generate a regular cash flow with membership programs read my 2-part article series A Little Knowledge Can Go a Long Way: How to Generate a Steady Cash Flow Using What You Already Know.

Keep Your Day Job

Maybe you aren’t interested in quitting your job but you like the idea of not having all your eggs in one basket. When traveling to San Francisco, I stay in an apartment in a lovely hilltop home in the Ashbury Heights section of the city. The owner is a Bay area native who, in addition to teaching reading to grade schoolers (which she absolutely loves), has set up several additional sources of income.

For one, she rents the in-law apartment to tourists through the local B&B association on per night basis earning considerably more than she would with a year-round tenant. For weekend and summer time income, she parlayed her knowledge and love of the city into a personal tour guide business with a steady stream of customers right in her own home. She even takes in a few extra bucks renting videos to her overnight guests.

Maybe you don’t really like your job but can’t afford to just up and quit. Say your long-range goal is to make $50,000. You don’t need to be a math whiz to know there are different ways you can slice and dice this. For simplicity sake, though, let’s say you decide to set up five income streams, each generating $10,000. Since you’ll be building your multiple income streams while you’re still gainfully employed, starting two side businesses simultaneously is probably about your max time-wise.

What you now have is a monthly goal for each business of just over $800. That’s $200 a week. If making $20,000 a year seemed daunting, Winter says, psychologically earning $200 is more feasible: “Knowing what your financial goal is makes it easier to determine what action you’ll need to take to accomplish it.”

So what are you waiting for? It’s your life!


In the World of Possibilities, New Members Are Always Welcome

It may surprise you to know that none of my long-time friends are what I (or they) would consider entrepreneurs. Several are solo practitioners – therapists, coaches, massage therapists and the like. But getting paid “dollars for hours” as they say is very different from turning your creativity into a steady flow of income-generating possibilities.

Last weekend I hosted a small dinner party. Over drinks I mentioned that International Living magazine asked me to speak this fall in Panama at a conference for people who want to live and work overseas. Just as we were sitting down for dinner, my dog Cokie reminded me it was time for his supper too. As I mixed up a concoction of chicken, sweet potato, and dry food I reminisced about this delightful woman I’d just met in Paris who makes her living as a professional dog chef. My guests were especially fascinated to learn that she and her husband run a dog diner in the Arizona desert and that one of her biggest income streams is from speaking engagements (you’ll be hearing more about her soon.)

After dessert I pulled out a fresh tube of Chicken Poop Lip Junk to sooth my chronically dry lips. You can’t very well pull out Chicken Poop without telling the story of how product creator Jamie Tabor Schmidt (and recent Fast Track Teleclass guest speaker) of ILoveChickenPoop.com managed to get her product into a huge national chain like Walgreen’s.

It was at that point that my friend Joanne put her fork down, pushed back her chair, and exclaimed, “Wow, you live in this total other world, don’t you?” I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well, you just got back from reviewing a photography course in Paris. You’re speaking in Panama. You meet these fascinating people that no one else ever seems to meet. It’s like you exist on a planet all your own.”

As I looked around the table at my guests – a district court judge, the training director at a university, a clinical social worker, and a college professor – I realized that I may not live on a different planet, but in a lot of ways I do inhabit a very different world. It’s a place I’ve come to think of as the World of Possibilities.

Life in the Real World

Sadly, most people operate in a world they proudly refer to as the Real World. You can always tell when you’ve met someone who has never lived in – never mind entertained – the World of Possibilities. All you have to do is start talking about your life-long love of anything lavender and how you’ve been thinking of how you would absolutely love to move to the country and start a lavender farm, or create a sense of community among the hundreds of existing lavender farm owners, or run trips to the heart of the lavender industry in Provence, France.

The first thing you’ll notice is that they look at you like, well, like you’re from another planet. Next they are quick to recite with great certainty all of the reasons why your ideas are completely unrealistic. After all, having never started a business and knowing absolutely nothing about lavender farms, being from the Real World they are, nonetheless, authorities on what is and isn’t possible. And to underscore your other world status they will flatly tell you that you just aren’t operating in the Real World, which is actually a very lucky thing. Because when you dwell in the World of Possibilities you know these things are doable for one simple reason – people are doing them!

Take Me to Your Leader… Hurry!

There is of course, no “leader” of the World of Possibilities but fortunately we have very wise friend who is all too eager to disperse accurate information whenever we ask. It’s called the Internet. It took just a few key strokes to learn, for example, that there are literally hundreds of viable farms and lavender related businesses all over the world – many in the U.S. and Canada.

I also learned that the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (NSAIS) has TONS of information in both English and Spanish including a list of government grants to help small farmers.

Want to join the American or Canadian Lavender Growers Association? I bet a lot of other people would too. The problem is that while you can join the Australian Lavender Industry Association for $125 a year ($155 international) or the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association, there is no North American counterpart. Think about it… if 200 lavender farm owners pay just $35 in monthly member fees that’s $7,000 a MONTH in revenue.

Figure It Out

But how can I start a member program for lavender business owners if I’m not in the lavender business? The answer comes down to three little words: Figure it out. How? Go to the source. Ask people in the lavender business what they need. Do they need help marketing? Making operations more efficient? Finding seasonal workers? Breaking into new markets? Understanding new and existing government regulations? Creating joint ventures like advertising campaigns or events with other growers? Learning about new state or provincial programs to support agri-tourism?

Once you understand your market’s needs, your job is to find authors, successful farmers, agricultural marketing experts, botanists, organic food store owners and others who you can interview or who you can get to write articles. Or do Teleclasses, set up regional or national conferences, and generally seek out other resources that your members want. Like I always say, you may not know everything there is to know about a subject but you’re always smart enough to figure out who does! And if you get stuck for help… do what Possibility People do and ask for help from experts and others who are living happily (and profitably) in the World of Possibilities.

And what about the dream of running lavender tours to France? Despite the fact that the NSAIS site says “successful lavender producers typically invest considerable time (at least a year) just doing research, traveling to conferences, and talking with established farmers before setting up operations” and that “(m)any travel to France to view first-hand the lavender industry in Provence,” my internet search did not yield a single person running lavender farm tours to France. If you dwell in the World of Possibilities, then that sound you’re hearing is opportunity knocking!*

Join the Club

I know a lot of you reading this article have a foot in both worlds. A big part of you knows in your heart that it really is possible to open an artist’s retreat or design your own skin care line or find some way get paid to research holistic healing techniques. But the gravitational pull to “be realistic” keeps pulling you back to the Real World.

Hip-hop artist and actor Will Smith once remarked that, “(b)eing realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” When I started this business in 1995, I could never have imagined speaking in Panama or reviewing photo courses in Paris or starting a membership site or forming work and personal relationships with people like Barbara Sher or Barbara Winter or running my own certification training program or meeting people who run the most fascinating businesses… And yet here I am doing all of that and more.

Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” The vacancy sign is always out in the World of Possibilities. Whenever you find yourself thinking that your dream is not possible, find someone who is successfully doing the thing you want to do and follow them. I guarantee that this road will lead you to a lifetime of satisfaction, well-being, and even greater possibilities than you could ever imagine.

 

* For more information on how anyone can start a member program, listen to the interview I did with two top membership program experts on “How to Generate a Steady Stream of Income With a Membership Program” now available at ChangingCourse.com/asktheexpert.htm#member


Follow the Trends to Find a Profitable Business Idea

Looking for an inspiring or innovative business idea? One surefire place to look is to trends. Depending on your interests it might be trends related to the U.S. housing market, global warning, parenting, fitness, food, pets, technology, travel, dating, sports… the options are really limitless. Today we’re going to look at three examples of how entrepreneurs benefit from the trend of safety. As you will see, each one is connected to the safety trend in a very different way.

Trend #1 Back to Basics With Wooden Toys

If a year ago I had told you wood-working types that you could run a successful business building simple wooden toys you would have said I was nuts. But with millions of recalled toys manufactured in China containing lead paint and other dangerous chemicals, the makers of domestic wooden toys were swamped with holiday orders. Ron Voake operates Vermont Wooden Toys (VermontWoodenToys.com) out of his home in Norwich, Vermont. His company makes over 135 different kinds of wooden toys from “riding size” fire trucks to doll carriages to blocks. According to an article in the New York Times, wooden toy makers like Ron 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.” Voake isn’t the only toymaker to benefit from the trend toward safe toys. Mark Rainville of Maple Landmark Woodcraft (MapleLandmark.com) in Middlebury, Vermont was also deluged with orders. With toy orders up 60 percent in the last quarter of 2007, he and his holiday staff of 45 were working 16-hour days. It’s clear from his company’s Web site that Mark is seizing on other current trends like the buy local movement and environmental responsibility. And speaking of the environment…

Trend #2: Safe Water and a Cleaner Environment

When Stacey Griffin graduated from Tulane School of Social Work in 1995 she was more interested in healing kids than the environment. Five years later she opened a psychiatric facility for low-income children and adolescents (MilestonesMHA.com) in New Orleans. Then she lost it all to hurricane Katrina. Safe, clean drinking water was just one of the many problems in flood ravaged New Orleans. During the time she was rebuilding her staff and agency, Stacey got an idea from her then 3-year-old daughter who had a strong preference for juice boxes over water bottles. Why not package drinking water in juice boxes? Initially she was discouraged to find that two other companies were doing it. When she looked closer, though, she found that one specialized in disaster relief and the other geared their product to kids. That left a huge unfilled niche – environmentally responsible people like me who hate the wastefulness of creating, shipping, and then land-filling plastic water bottles. Stacey started Aqua2Go in 2006. She got a lot of help from her husband who worked on the business in addition to his full-time job. Things really took off when Ellen DeGeneres featured Stacey’s water boxes on her show. The very next morning a big merchant who Stacey had been working hard to contact called her at her home. Today Aqua2Go is in selected Target department stores, Winn Dixie super markets, Whole Foods in Louisiana, and other major retailers. Every day 40 million plastic water bottles go into the trash or becoming litter (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5279230), putting a huge a burden on local landfills. Some communities like San Francisco have responded by banning city departments from buying bottled water for their offices. This trend toward municipal bans, the need for safe drinking water on the go, and a growing awareness about global warming all point to continued success for entrepreneurs like Stacey.

Trend #3 All Natural Products for Kids

This next example comes from Kristen Bassick of Stuff4Sprouts.com. Like Stacey, Kristen’s business idea was also inspired by her children. In Kristen’s case it was to find a natural way to treat the persistent dry skin of her own children, or little “sprouts” as she likes to call them. So at the urging of her husband who was throwing money at products that didn’t work, Kristen decided to start her own line of kids’ skin care products formulated without using nut oils, animal products, paraben-based preservatives (to which some people are allergic), soy, artificial colors, or chemical fillers. Her company’s promise also serves as her motto: To produce products with “Nothing weird. Nothing gross. Just good stuff for dry skin.” My Canadian friends who love the idea of all natural products for kids and prefer to shop local should check out an online company in the Toronto area called ParentingByNature.com. In addition to a wide range of products like an organic baby skin care line and cloth diapers they also carry wooden toys! I love Canada but I have a soft spot for Kristen’s business because she is one of the many success stories to come out of my annual Work at What You Love seminar. I’ll let Kim share her progress report in her own words:

I came to the seminar last August 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 in September 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!

I said I was going to share three business ideas but there is actually one more safety-related trend worth mentioning. This one is actually not a new trend. In fact, it’s been kicking around for quite some time. I call…

Safety Trend #4: Thinking Up New Excuses For Staying Stuck

There’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. Admit it. How many of you zeroed 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!” Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t. But 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 had a full year to find and work on a business idea but waited until they had one month of severance pay left to call in full out panic mode because they were going to have to find another 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. As Shirley Hufstedler said, “If you play it safe in life, you’ve decided that you don’t want to grow anymore.” If you are tired of contributing to the negative trend of coming up with reasons why you can’t leave your safe but ultimately soul-sucking job then do this one small thing. Get yourself a small notebook and label it Trends = Ideas. Then start actively being on the lookout for the thousands of trends that can be the catalyst to your brilliant business idea. One you have an idea, take a step. Any step. Once you get the entrepreneurial ball rolling, it’s hard to stop. Besides, as Hufstedler put it, “Security is not the meaning of my life. Great opportunities are worth the risks.”


What Does Gratitude Have To Do With Career Change?

As I drove alongside the Connecticut River today, I spotted two snow-white swans gliding elegantly atop still waters. I felt so blessed to have been in that place at that time to experience such a serenely beautiful moment. I feel lucky that way… a lot.

I don’t think I happen upon these moments any more than anyone else does. I just “see” them more than others do. I believe that’s because gratitude is so central to both my life and my work. I also happen to believe that maintaining a state of gratitude is fundamental to the process of changing course. Yet, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard another career counselor talk about gratitude as an essential element of career change. Come to think of it, I’m not aware of any career related books that talk about the importance of being thankful either.

I think perhaps the reason you don’t hear a lot of career change agents talk about gratitude is that we’re in the business of helping facilitate people moving from where they are to where they’d rather be. Changing your work and life are by definition all about the future. Gratitude on the other hand is very much about the present.

I understand that it can be pretty tough to be grateful when what you want is freedom, time, and a deep knowing that the work you do matters, but what you have instead is a soul sucking job that leaves you no time to see, never mind smell, the roses.

And yet if you really want to make a positive change, I believe it’s imperative to shift from a state of constant yearning for what you don’t have to being mindful of those blessings, however small, that you do have… right now. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin talked about this concept in their groundbreaking book Your Money or Your Life. They write, “So much dissatisfaction comes from focusing on what we don’t have that the simple exercise of acknowledging and valuing what we do have can transform our outlook.” Said another way, ungrateful people make lousy self-change agents.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there is a lot wrong in the world. Far too many good people dying in too many bad wars… far too many people losing their homes because of bad loans… far too many people with no job at all. I know, too, that during this holiday season that some of you may be faced with dire circumstances. Yet, “Once we are above the survival levels,” say Dominguez and Robin, “the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.”

Even during my most financially challenging and emotionally discouraging days of struggling to transition from my corporate job to working for myself, I still knew on any given day that I was blessed. I can see. I can hear. I have all my limbs. I am, God-willing, free of disease. I live in relative safety. I have food. I have heat. I have clean water. I have access to medical care. I have transportation. I have friends and family who love me. And I am blessed to have all of you.

At the risk of going all Oprah on you here, to me living life from a perspective of gratitude is not just an exercise in happy thinking. To me it goes much deeper than that. Melody Beattie described the benefits of gratitude well when she wrote:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

On the bulletin board at my post office hangs a quote from the Women’s Theology Center in Boston. It reads, “We must go slowly, there’s not much time.” Achieving a dream takes hard work, perseverance, and, yes, time. Yet, life is too short to put off happiness until we have achieved our goal. In other words, with a dream, as with life, the journey is just as important as the destination.

As you enjoy a drink of clean water, a warm bed or the company of a loved one today and every day, pause and be grateful for what and who is in your life right now. Go after that better future… but also be here now and savor the journey.


Teleseminars Are a Great Solution for People Who Hate to Sell

Do you have a business (or an idea for one) but hate the thought of having to “sell”? Do you love sharing information, resources, insight or knowledge with others? Do you have a message or cause you want to promote? If so, the solution may be as close as your telephone.

Teleseminars make it possible to share your knowledge and experience or otherwise and get the word out about your business to people literally all over the world. All you need is a conference or bridge line and a message, and you can reach ten to hundreds of people at a time.

Anyone Can Conduct a Teleseminar… on Just About Anything

Don’t think Teleseminars will work for you? Teleclasses are a great income stream and can be utilized with virtually any business. Check out these interesting markets that are using Teleseminars:

  • Horse Training Secrets
  • Aviation Services
  • Book Promotion
  • Real Estate Q & A
  • Global Warming

As with any business, success begins with finding a topic you feel passionate about. It could be nutrition, the challenges of single parenting, hunting safety, energy conservation, aroma therapy, surviving divorce later in life, urban gardening, traveling solo, baseball trivia – you name it. There really is no end to the topics that can be turned into a Teleseminar.

Some topics lend themselves more naturally to the Teleseminar format more than others. It would be tough, for instance, to teach a motorcycle repair or a cooking class purely by phone. But you could teach a class on how to write and self-publish your own cookbook. Not an expert? Then use your Teleseminar to interview people who are. Then, turn the recordings into a CD set and companion booklet called “Secrets of Canada’s Top Cookbook Authors: How to Write and Promote Your Own Best-Selling Cookbook.”

Or say you create a video series on basic motorcycle repair at home. You could market your product with a free Teleseminar called “The 10 Biggest Motorcycle Repair Shop Scams and How to Avoid Them.” As long as you include valuable information in the free class, your listeners won’t have a problem with you ending the Teleseminar with a special offer to purchase your entire video series.

If you’re just starting out, don’t fall into the dream-zapping trap of thinking you need to have three PhDs or 20 years experience before you consider yourself remotely qualified to be speak on a particular subject. If you have a passion for your topic, I guarantee you already know more than you think you do.

Start by thinking of the three most important things you think people need to know about “surviving divorce” or “safe hunting practices.” Then, for each of these three main points, complete the question, “The three or four most important things someone should know about this point are…” Before you know it, you’ll have a top ten list to form the basis of your seminar.

7 Reasons You Should Seriously Consider Putting On Your Own Teleseminars

Whether you have an established practice, a small business, or are just starting out…

  1. Teleseminars are a great way to get your name out to a larger marketplace and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
  2. Teleseminars are ideal for people who, like me, hate to sell but love to teach. Informing and demonstrating your commitment to helping others is a great way to build credibility. And being a credible source of information or assistance will ultimately lead people to want to do business with you.
  3. Teleseminars are a great way to build a list of prospective customers or clients. Once you have a list, you can continue to find ways to share your expertise, educate them about the work you do and what you offer, get valuable referrals, and generally connect with prospective customers and clients.
  4. Teleseminars make it amazingly easy to create your own information product for future sale. Simply by recording the call, even a free class can be transformed into an ongoing source of revenue.
  5. You don’t have to actually “teach” to run Teleseminars. If you have Larry King envy, you can host your own Internet Talk Radio Show and interview top experts and leaders in their field. (Trust me – it’s not as hard as you might think.)
  6. You can create lucrative joint venture partnerships with other enterprising entrepreneurs who offer products or services that add genuine value to your customers lives. The profit sharing potential here can be enormous.
  7. Teleseminars are not just about making money. They’re also a great way to promote a cause or otherwise share a message that’s near and dear to your heart.

Experience Not Required

Setting up a Teleseminar is a snap. There’s no need to print up flyers or pay for pricey ad space. Start by promoting your class to your own email list. You can collect payment yourself or through a shopping cart or merchant account.

Technology-wise all you’ll need is a conference or “bridge line.” Once you sign up with a bridge line service, the moderator (that would be you) and your attendees will be assigned a dedicated phone number and pass code which you can send out to your list via an autoresponder.

Then, when class time rolls around, you can hop on the couch (no need to dress up), pick up the phone, push some buttons to get into the call and another to record the class and voila, you’re delivering your message to 10 to 200 or more eager seminar attendees.

There are a lot of bridge lines out there ranging from free to hundreds of dollars per month. Obviously the more expensive bridge lines offer more features, but many of these features are unnecessary when starting out.

FreeConference.com is well known in the industry for offering a free service for up to 150 callers using their Web-Scheduled Standard. They also offer an 800# service with a recording option for a nominal fee. Two other free services I’ve used are FreeConferenceCall.com and TheBasementVentures.com. Normally they work fine but there have been a few technical glitches with each.

Another service I plan to try out is InstantTeleseminar.com by Xiosoft. There is a monthly fee but this includes recording, event templates, a simultaneous webcast for those who prefer to listen in online (this is a biggie), and a number of other bells and whistles.

If you plan to turn your Teleseminars into information products, invest the money to have the call recorded by an outside service such as AudioStrategies.com. They’re reliable, professional, and deliver the MP3 file within an hour of the Teleseminar.

I don’t want to make delivering Teleseminars sound effortless. Anything you do to advance your dream of changing course requires some kind of effort – period. But the Internet has made the whole process pretty darned easy. And, hey if an avowed technophobe like me can do it…

Imagine Turning Your Annual Income into Your Weekly Income

If you’re even considering getting into Teleseminars, the undisputed leader in the field is a guy named Alex Mandossian.

Alex has delivered Teleseminars with many of the world’s top leaders and authors, including Donald Trump, Stephen Covey, and Mark Victor Hansen and has trained over 13,000 students since 2001. Over the past 12 years, he’s helped his clients generate over $203 million in sales.

Over the past few years, Alex has transformed his annual income into his monthly income. To see his actual numbers – and why he believes his marketing strategies can help practically any entrepreneur do the same – visit ChangingCourseTeleseminar.com

Whether you have a business now or are still dreaming about quitting your job to work at what you love, you won’t want to miss this “Teleseminar Secrets Training.” Even if you have no plans to run a Teleseminar, I guarantee it will forever expand your thinking about turning your gift for teaching into a viable way to make a living.


Tools to Help You Go From Creating Debt to Creating Dreams

The traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. This year ads started popping up before Halloween. It’s been said that holiday debt is the gift that keeps on taking. According to a survey done last year by Consumer Reports, the average bill for holiday shoppers using credit cards to buy gifts will be $626. The average American household carries $9,000 in credit card debt throughout the year and then holiday debt gets piled on top of that.

A big question for anyone looking to ditch their job and join the ranks of the self-employed is, “How can I afford to change course?” And if you’re drowning in debt, the thought of being able to strike out on your own feels all the more impossible. There are all kinds of books and other programs out there to help you get out of debt and/or create prosperity. Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with a number of authorities in the field. Each offers a different take on the money theme… finding it, keeping it, and managing it.

If you need to get your financial house in order before you can change course, here are a few people and resources I believe are worth checking out.

First Things First

I first told you about Joan back in 2006. What makes Joan’s story so compelling is that she spent most of her adult life in a pattern of under earning and compulsive debting. After her two brothers tired of bailing her out, Joan discovered the 12-step program Debtors Anonymous (DebtorsAnonymous.org). It worked she says, for a while.

After building a successful business she once again ended up in serious debt forcing her to close her business and declare bankruptcy. Eight years later, at age fifty-six, Joan relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a mere $200 in her pocket. Losing her business propelled Joan to learn more about her financial dysfunction by digging deeper to untangle the deep emotions and family issues associated with money.

Today Joan uses what she’s learned to help others who are similarly stuck in unproductive money patterns. Her money self-help manual, Building Your Financial Muscles, contains exercises and resources for people who are searching for a way to relieve financial pressures and change the way they deal with money. Joan also offers a number of different audio programs with titles like, “Let Go of the Aloneness” and “Discovering Your Core Financial Issues.” More recently she’s expanded into tools specifically for entrepreneurs with a CD/workbook set called, “Marketing Your Micro-Business.”

Another new addition is a facilitator kit for people who want to run support groups for others struggling to become financially healthy. Right now the facilitator kit costs $89. If you get ten participants and each pays up to $20 per meeting then you can earn $200 per meeting. To learn about Joan and her unique approach to financial health go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/prosperityplace

Living Debt Free

Whether you are drowning in debt, or just love the idea of living debt free, you should get to know the work of a fellow named Leo Quinn. I had the pleasure of meeting Leo last June at a workshop I attended in Denver. I discovered over breakfast one day that not only was he one of the event speakers, but with 27,000 loyal subscribers, he’s also a well-respected expert in the debt-elimination field. In fact, Leo had been doing this work long before the Internet boomed.

His most popular program is called “How to Own Your Paycheck Again.” Just to be clear, if you are not able to pay your bills or are teetering on bankruptcy, this is not the program for you. Leo specializes in working with people who want to get rid of their debt so they can live on less, retire early, or just generally spend less time working and more time doing the things they want to do. Personally what I like about it is that you can take the money you would have used to pay your credit cards or mortgage and apply that to your new business.

Normally “How to Own Your Paycheck Again” costs $97. But when I called Leo for this article he offered to extend a special $50 discount for Changing Course readers when you order before November 21st. With an iron-clad money-back guarantee you have nothing to lose but your debt. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/leoquinn

Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids

“In the middle of difficulty,” observed Albert Einstein, “lies opportunity.” Some of the best opportunities often originate from problems – either yours or someone else’s. One of the all too common problems that savvy savings expert Darlene Arechederra saw was that of two-income families in which one of the parents (usually the mom) wants to stay home with the kids but can’t afford to. Knowing that nothing is impossible if you know what you’re doing, Dar developed a self-help program called Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids.

For the same reason my site is called Changing Course and not Jump off a Bridge, Dar talks about the need to create a transition strategy, or a “bridge” as she calls it, from where you are to where you want to be – which in this case is home with the kids. A few of the lessons working parents receive in this 10-minute a day course include Finding Money to Grow Your Coming Home Account, Eliminating One of the Biggest Expenses for Working Women, Strategies To Help You Come Home Sooner, and How Bosses and Co-Workers Can Speed Up Your Journey Home. Learn more at AffordtoStayHome.com.

Creating Money for Your Small Business

What if you don’t have kids or just want to escape your job-job to work at what you love? Well, in addition to helping her clients to “unearth potential home business ideas that make their heart sing,” Dar also helps future home business owners create the money they’ll need for their cottage industry or home business. (Fast Track members be sure to log into the Money Matters section of FastTrackHeadquarters.com to find Dar’s “5 Must-Know Secrets to Creating Money for Your Dream” in the current Money Matters e-Tip. It’s a must read for anyone who needs to find the money to jumpstart that great business idea.)

I came to know Dar when she enrolled in my 2006 Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Program. Initially I was fascinated by her expertise in helping women specifically and people in general become financially savvy enough to jumpstart a small business. But what really intrigued me is that Dar is an introvert training for a career in a field you would think would better suit someone who is more outgoing. But like a true entrepreneur, Dar has turned what some might consider a challenge into an asset by specializing in working with other introverts! She even has a free blog called CreativeCareersForIntroverts.com. Now how smart is that?!

Journey to Abundance

Finally there is Fast Track Your Dreams member Kamin Bell. Kamin started her professional career as the U.S. Navy’s first female African-American helicopter pilot. She then went on to become a Mary Kay Sales Director and consultant. From here Kamin transitioned to having several small business ventures, the most recent of which is to publish her first book, Journey to Abundance.

Kamin sent me a review copy in September and I was genuinely impressed. Using the true story of her own financial ruin, fear, and crisis of faith, Kamin takes you along with her as she discovers the abundance and prosperity God wants for us all. Whether you are Christian by faith, or simply feel guided by a Higher Power as I do, you can not help but feel enriched, encouraged, and informed by Kamin’s story and by the thought-provoking exercises she has designed to set you firmly on your own “journey to abundance.” As part of the book’s pre-release Kamin is giving away a free chapter KaminBell.com/abundance

There are many paths to financial well-being and prosperity. As we move into this period of holiday spending take some time to be mindful of the role that money plays in your life. If excessive giving will put you farther into debt perhaps this is the time to realistically assess your finances, your dreams, and how your relationship with money may be serving or undermining your goals of changing the course of your life.


Want to Re-Create Your Life? What Not to Do

You’ve probably read plenty of advice on what you need to do to find and follow the path to right livelihood. Well, I thought it might be time to offer a little counter-intuitive advice on what not to do. For example…

Do Not Automatically Trust the Experts

Even so-called experts sometimes get it wrong. I’m a big fan of the Public Television show Antiques Road Show. If you haven’t seen it it’s basically a roving antique appraisal fair featuring experts in anything from antique or vintage watches, furniture, pottery, paintings, books, and historical artifacts to just about anything else old. People show up hoping to get an expert opinion on the origins and value of anything from family heirlooms to an old movie poster they picked up for a few bucks at a garage sale.

In one recent segment a woman brought in a small green porcelain fish that had been in her family for many generations. According to a local antique dealer its only value was sentimental, adding that she could either keep it or put in a garage sale. Boy was he wrong. It turns out it was the earliest example of American porcelain that the Antiques Road Show appraiser – or any of his fellow experts – had ever seen. That small green fish was worth $30,000.

I once had a big time internet marketing guru tell me in no uncertain terms to change my home page. I did, and in the long run the change ended up costing me probably about $25,000 in sales. I still have the greatest respect for this individual whose results speak for themselves. But again, all experts get it wrong now and then – even me! So when in doubt, get a second and even a third opinion.

Don’t Take On Too Much

I know firsthand what it feels like to desperately want to flee a job that is sucking the life force out of you. I also know, too, that in our frantic attempt to get out of job jail we sometimes make the mistake of taking on too much all at once. “If I can read three books, attend four Teleclasses, sign up for six self-study courses, and listen to ten CDs this week,” we reason, “I’ll be able to reach my goal that much faster.”

But all too often just the opposite happens. In the process of trying to absorb too much information we become overwhelmed, with the result being the mental “memory full” message. And when that happens, just like when our computer is full, our brain actually starts to run slower. Even if you are a master at taking in massive amounts of information when you try to go in too many different directions at once you can end up going nowhere… fast.

Realizing a dream does require you to take action – lots and lots of action. Just not all at once. “For fast acting relief,” says Lily Tomlin, “try slowing down.”

Don’t Make It Harder Than It Really Is

A client named Billy wanted to start his own syndicated radio show. The problem? Like virtually everyone else on the planet (including me) he had no idea how to go about it. “Did you Google ‘how to start your own syndicated radio show’?” I asked.

This simple query led to a site called Syndication.net which offers consulting, a self-study kit, and other resources on how to launch a radio show. From here I hopped over to Amazon and found a well-rated book called The Radio Producer’s Handbook by Rick Kaempfer and John Swanson. I haven’t researched either of these resources, but still it is a great example of how something that feels so hard can be so easy.

Happily, that’s what fellow subscriber Andi Arndt just found out for herself. Andi wrote to say she’d started her own home recording studio this summer and had already found a regular client. “My realtor wants me to be the voice of all their listings, including virtual tours, HomeVoice call-in property info, their voicemail system, and narrating the weekly real estate show!”

But it gets even better. Andi says, “I also Googled ‘travel’ and ‘voiceover’ and found a great company in Brussels, Belgium that does audio city tours for iPods. I’m writing their New York City audio guide, and then narrating it when we record, and I’ll get a 50-50 split of what is sold on his impressive delivery platform. I’m pretty psyched.”

She adds, “I had such a great result from Googling the ingredients of my ideal job, now whenever I have a free moment I put my daydreams into browser language and follow my mouse through cyber-wonderland, picking up leads along the way!” Now how hard it that?

Don’t Do What You Usually Do

Sometimes the best way to jumpstart a dream is to not do the usual. If you usually listen to music while you drive or jog, next time you’re in the car or out for a run don’t turn on the radio or take along your iPod. Instead use the time to visualize your ideal life and the small steps you can take to get there.

Then, instead of rushing home to create yet another To Do list create a “NOT to do” list. Getting rid of things you feel pressured or obligated to do will free you up to spend time on the things you want to do… you know, like change the course of your life.

You’ve heard it a million times before, but small steps really do add up. The hardest part is getting started. “Whenever I get your newsletter,” says Andi, “it always makes me ask myself what I’ve done today to get one step closer to making my and my family’s dream a reality.” Now that’s a bit of advice you do NOT want to ignore!


Changing Careers? How to Get Around the Three Major Mental Roadblocks to Success

A part of you can’t wait to dive into your new career − but you’re also smart enough to know that you can expect a few bumps along the road to success. By far, the biggest roadblocks exist between your own two ears!Let’s take a look at three common mental roadblocks and learn how to overcome them.

ROADBLOCK No. 1: Wishful Thinking

How many times have you wished you’d hit the lottery? Now, how many times have you actually won the lottery? Far too many people spend far too much time wishing when they should be dreaming.

So, what’s the difference between wishing and dreaming?

Wishing is passive. We wish for things over which we have little or no control. We wish we were taller or thinner. We wish the waiter would hurry up. We wish our boss wasn’t so [you fill in the blank].

The other thing about wishes is that they are often tinged with regrets about past decisions − both big and small. We wish we’d ordered the fish instead of the chicken. We wish we’d taken the other job. We wish we hadn’t let the love of our life get away.

Dreaming is different. For one, a dream is active. Unlike wishes, we can actually do something about a dream. After all, you don’t “wish up” a plan, you dream one up!

You may not get everything you dream of getting, but two things are certain:

1. It doesn’t take a single extra ounce of energy to dream big than it does to settle.

2. You’ve got a lot more to gain by shooting high than by shooting low.

ROADBLOCK No. 2: What If Everyone Thinks You’re Crazy?

You’ve probably already thought about the people you can count on to support your plan to create a more meaningful work/life. But have you also taken stock of those you should make a point NOT to turn to?

Unless you come either from money or from a long line of pioneers, you may not get the support you want from your family. With the best of intentions, you may find your dream of quitting your job to pursue your dream career met with advice to “play it safe,” reminders that “you’re lucky to have a good job,” or a lecture on the seemingly insurmountable odds standing between you and success.

No matter how old you are, or how much you deny it, family approval does matter. This fact, of course, makes it all the more painful when the people we love fail to give us the emotional green light we so desperately seek.

Other people’s fear, skepticism, and negativity can be as contagious as the flu. And unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream stompers can knock you for a loop − especially when they are right in your own family.

You have a choice. You can either continue to turn to these naysayers in hopes that they’ll respond differently, or you can choose the saner path of acceptance.

Don’t look for support from people whose life experiences have not prepared them to know how to support your dreams. Instead, take advantage of the support that really is available.

ROADBLOCK No. 3: Fear of Change

The closer you come to leaving the security of your 9-to-5 job (no matter how much you want out) the greater your level of excitement and trepidation (see “Word to the Wise,” below).

Anyone who has ever ventured out of their safe little world will tell you they had doubts. But when it comes to making a major life change, not only is a certain amount of fear perfectly normal, it’s actually helpful. There is a reason the web site is called ChangingCourse.com and not Jump-off-a-Cliff.com. The healthy part of fear is what will keep you from quitting your in a huff before you’ve put some other things in place. And the great thing about fear is that there are ways to deal with it.

So, try laughing in the face of fear. Am I kidding? No. Ridiculing your fears is actually a very effective technique for banishing them − because the mind rejects that which it considers absurd.

The trick is to turn your fears into a ridiculous event in your mind. That way, you allow your natural human reaction to absurdity to take over and dismiss them.

Try it yourself. Take your biggest fear and take it to extremes. Really exaggerate it. Let’s say you’re paralyzed by the fear of failure. Try picturing your entire family, all of your friends, your neighbors, everyone you went to high school with, even your boss, standing outside your cardboard-box home holding up signs that read: “We Told You So!”

Pretty ridiculous, right? When you realize that your worst-case fantasy is just that − a fantasy − what felt overwhelming will now feel much more manageable.

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

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 fears, you will be rewarded many times over.


A Foolproof Strategy to Get Yourself Moving

In my last article, “In the World of Possibilities, New Members Are Always Welcome” I talked about the difference between the people who live in the so-called Real World and those of us who dwell in the far more enriching (and frankly more fun) World of Possibilities. To make my case, I borrowed a line from actor/director/ hip hop star Will Smith who said, “Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”

Okay I need to be fair here. Even though they may end up living a mediocre life, some Real World-types are actually quite creative. They are forever thinking up all kinds of ideas for inventions or articles or businesses. Some even go so far as to jot down exhaustive notes, outlines, and to-do lists. A few even go so far as to design prototypes, develop detailed marketing plans, or write entire books.

There is only one problem. Unless they make the leap to World of Possibilities, no one else ever sees their handiwork, which leads me to the story of an inspiring dream grower named Lynn Burkholder from Guelph, Canada. A few weeks ago Lynn sent out an announcement about her new newsletter, “The Inner Genius.” What’s an “inner genius”? I’ll let Lynn explain:

I believe we are all born with a set of gifts, talents and preferences that are “hard wired” into our DNA. I don’t think it’s an accident or necessarily a result of our environment that we are naturally drawn to certain tasks and areas of interest. Unfortunately, most of these gifts are never developed because we are expected to live our lives fitting into a construct that society has prescribed as the norm.

I also believe that it is never too late to excavate these gifts and incorporate them into our lives. When I was in Grade One, I used to write extra stories for my teacher. I even remember the sky blue pencil I used to write about my sister’s wedding. That love for writing has remained dormant for 30 years. Why? I could give you a long list of reasons but it all boils down to the fact that I didn’t develop the skill because I didn’t believe it was possible. In the society I was shown growing up, people didn’t make money writing. Thankfully, I don’t believe that anymore.

What seemingly small, insignificant past-time did you give up because you were told you couldn’t make a living at it? And further, who lead you to believe that you had to make a living doing just one thing? Why couldn’t there be two or three or ten?

Quite naturally then, Lynn’s new newsletter is aimed at people who want to pursue their Inner Genius. (Who wouldn’t?) But here’s where it got interesting. As I continued reading I learned that by signing up I would not only receive the first issue of Find Your Inner Genius on July 16th (remember that date) but that it would include a link to a free Special Report called “12 Ways to Find Out What You Are ‘Supposed’ To Be Doing!”

Commit, Then Do

Why am I telling you this? Well, Lynn was a member of my 2006 Outside the Job Box Career Certification program. The formal part of the training program ended in March. Lynn’s invitation arrived a few months later on July 9th to be exact (remember this date too). I couldn’t send a congratulatory email fast enough!

Apparently my words of encouragement came at the right time because as soon as she’d made this public commitment, Lynn says she was feeling, “really vulnerable.” And why wouldn’t she? After all, “Now I have to write a newsletter AND a special report by Monday,” adding, half jokingly, “Evidently, I like pressure. Ha ha.”

If I was proud of Lynn before, I was positively beaming now. She had mastered an incredibly simple but hugely important lesson about fast tracking any dream – commit, then do.

The first thing Lynn did was to put a stake in the ground by setting a deadline. Remember those two dates – announcing her new newsletter to the world on July 9th and setting a due date of July 16th? Lynn had given herself exactly seven days to write a newsletter and a special report.

Now obviously Lynn had given both the newsletter and the special report a lot of thought. And she no doubt had parts of both either written or at least sketched out in her head. Wisely though, she employed THE absolute best technique for making a more rapid leap from the mediocrity of the Real World to the world where possibilities become realities… she made herself accountable.

It’s one thing to come up with one of those made up deadlines that are between “you and you.” But to make sure she stuck to her goal Lynn announced her intention to the world. There is simply no better way to overcome procrastination than to employ the Commit, Then Do technique.

If you want to teach a seminar you haven’t 100 percent designed yet, set a date and start signing people up for your seminar. If you’ve spent the last year studying how to import olive oil from Italy, take a small deposit on a few pre-orders. If you want to write an eBook, promise a bunch of people that you’ll send them a free copy when it’s done.

Will you make yourself vulnerable this way? Absolutely! Yet “Unless you walk out into the unknown,” says Tom Peters, “the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” The person who never makes him or herself vulnerable will never fall in love, will never visit long-dreamed-of destinations, will never share their gifts with the world, and will certainly never live the life they want – and richly deserve. The way I see it, it is far better to have to reschedule the workshop or return the deposits or push off the due date to risk being vulnerable than it is to leading a life of utter mediocrity.

Speaking of mediocrity – or more precisely the all too common fear that if you do eventually write your eBook or set up your import business or deliver your seminar that it will turn out mediocre at best – there is another related concept that any dreamer needs to master.

Know When “It’s Good Enough”

In the software development world, this concept even has a buzzword. It’s called “Good Enough Quality.” In his article “Good Enough Quality, Beyond the Buzzword,” James Bach says, “Microsoft begins every project with the certain knowledge that they will choose to ship with known bugs.” No big surprise to PC owners and yet, at the same time, rather startling I’m sure to many.

The big Internet marketing gurus have another, somewhat more descriptive, name for it. The phrase they use to urge would-be entrepreneurs to just get your stuff out there is: “Half a** is better than no a**.” (Think Biblical name for donkey here.)

Before I say another word, I need to be 100 percent clear here. No one is talking about putting out sub-par products or services. Bill Gates did not build the dominant software company in the world with bad products. No one makes it long in the Internet marketing world, never mind get to be multi-millionaires like the big gurus have, by putting out schlocky stuff. As Bach is quick to add, “Good enough has nothing to do with mediocrity.”

The point is one of biggest reasons why most ideas never see the light of day is because people get so obsessed with making sure that every possible kink is worked out, every word is perfect, every conceivable base is covered, that they never just get their stuff out there.

Let’s face it. It’s always “easier” to do nothing. It’s always easier to endlessly research your big idea. Never acting on your gifts may be depressing and soul-sucking, yes, but still it really is easier. So I wish I could tell you there was such a thing as effortless success. But as Lynn and others know, once you’ve mastered the concepts of “Commit, Then Do” and the “It’s Good Enough” you still actually buckle down and DO it.

Do you know why Will Smith says he never gets tired of pushing? It’s because he says, “There is no pain worse than not achieving a dream when it is your fault. If God did not want you to have it, that is one thing. But if you do not get what you desire because you are lazy, there is no pain worse than that.” Amen.

If you’re ready to go after your dream, Lynn is holding a special “Summer Sale.” For a limited time only, Changing Course subscribers like you can receive a personal 90 -minute “Outside the Job Box” career consultation for only $50 (normally $150). To schedule a consultation or to get your free Special Report, go to FindYourInnerGeniusNow.com and sign up for Lynn’s more-than-good-enough newsletter now.


A Little Knowledge Can Go a Long Way: How to Generate a Steady Cash Flow Using What You Already Know

Back in the early nineties, The Wall Street Journal featured a story about sports-lover Don Schoenewald. After thirteen paid team mascot jobs and four mascot character creations (including ones for the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks), Don went on to start the first professional training school for mascots in the world. Since then several other schools have popped up and Schoenewald has moved on to other things. Still, it is a great example of an entrepreneur tapping into the best capital there is – his own intellectual capital!

Training others to do what you do is a great way to “monetize” your knowledge and experience. But it’s not the only way. There are lots of different ways to “package” and sell what you know teaching on- or off-line classes, getting your own syndicated radio show, writing a book and so on. But there is another lesser-known way to turn your interests into income. And, it’s the only way I know that is actually designed to generate a steady and relatively predictable flow of income on a monthly basis.

If You Want a Continuous Stream of Income, Create a “Continuity” Program

From the book of the month club of my youth to the Netflix automatic DVD rental model of today, member clubs have always been popular with consumers, often referred to as “continuity” or “subscription” programs. It’s easy to see the appeal. Members like the idea that for a flat monthly fee they’re guaranteed exclusive access to a continuous flow of information, resources, entertainment, support, or products of interest.

Continuity programs also provide two other things consumers want – convenience and affordability. Traditionally, if you wanted to join a professional association or subscribe to a magazine, you paid your annual dues or subscription upfront. However, thanks to the Internet, organizations like Consumer Reports Magazine will automatically bill your credit card in smaller monthly installments. In exchange, subscribers get exclusive online access to product reports not available to non-members.

If you’re tuned into the Internet marketing world, then it will come as no surprise that continuity programs are all the rage. It may surprise you to learn that some of the most successful member programs have nothing whatsoever to do with Internet marketing. People are running member programs in such diverse niches as embroidery, jazz guitar…even sky diving!

What about the benefits to you as an entrepreneur? By far the biggest benefit of operating a member program is money. Or, more specifically, the consistency of cash flow. As long as you make good on your promise to consistently deliver quality content, as a member program owner, you’ll receive a steady flow of revenue in the form of member fees. We’ll talk more about income potential in a minute.

Anyone Can Start a Member Program

What I want you to understand is that anyone can start a member program. Even you! Not too long ago Ryan Lee was struggling to get by as a physical education teacher in the Bronx. Today he runs 48 different membership sites all in the health, fitness, and sports training field and by all accounts Ryan is a millionaire.

I learned about Ryan through Tim Kerber, the co-creator of a membership software company called Member Gate. Over the past eight years, Tim’s company has helped over 400 clients start member sites. A little over a year ago, Tim wisely decided to build on his own expertise, and that of people like Ryan and other subject matter experts, to start (are you ready?) a membership site for membership site owners. MembershipSiteOwner.com is a great place for new member site owners like me to continue to grow and learn.

Then, last spring, Ryan and Tim pooled their knowledge at a two-day Membership Site Bootcamp in West Palm Beach, Florida. Despite the $2,500 price tag, the event sold out quickly. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the bootcamp. But I was excited to hear that they are busy packaging up all of the course content (and more) into some sort of step-by-step self-study program.

In the meantime, Ryan and Tim have produced a series of short (and free) videos based on the live workshop. The videos are a way to raise awareness about the revenue potential of member sites, to share some meaty content from their live event, and to generate excitement prior to the launch of the self-study program later this summer. Of course, when you hear some of the numbers, it’s hard not to be excited!

When you watch the first video, you’ll see some monthly revenue stats from actual member sites. Some are making $5,000 a month while others are making significantly more. Although making upwards of $208,000 a month may seem like a lot of hype, I’ve met enough people in this business to know that these kinds of numbers – while at the top of the income curve are entirely plausible.

Numbers make my head hurt (just ask Lisa). So I particularly appreciate the part in the video where Tim uses the analogy of compound interest to explain how adding just one new member a day can pretty rapidly grow a relatively small member list into a very robust program. But what really got my attention was when he points out how having a member site increases the future re-sell value of your business!

For people who enjoy feeling a part of a larger community as I do, running a member program also provides a less tangible, but nonetheless important, benefit. Depending on how you structure your member program, you will feel a certain kinship between yourself and others who share your particular interest or passion. While I certainly don’t “know” all 250+ members of the Fast Track Your Dream Community, I feel like I do!

Information Will Set You Free

If you have a tendency to stay stuck because of fear, then repeat after me: “I don’t have enough information right now to be afraid or excited.” When it comes to changing course, information will set you free. That’s because the greater your knowledge, the greater your options and the less risky change becomes.

So get informed. Sign up to watch these short videos now.

Like I said, information is what will set you free. So, as you watch the video series, I’d like you to do two things. One, jot down any questions and/or ideas you have about member programs. Two, pay attention to any inner dialogue that is self-enabling or self-defeating. Then fill in these blanks…

  • The biggest question I have about starting and running a member program is….
  • The first idea that springs to mind is….
  • I know I can do this because…
  • The reason I know I could never do this is…

In the next newsletter I’m going to talk about the “bad thinking” that may be keeping you from profiting from your experience. I’m also going to show you how a few different continuity programs work. And, I’ll tell you the one step you absolutely must take prior to launching ANY product or service – including a member program.

Whether your passion is salsa, gardening, art, or wrestling, there are a myriad of ways to turn what you already know into your livelihood. If you are drawn to the idea of a more regular, predictable income stream that has the potential to be extremely profitable, then running your own member site may be something worth exploring.


It’s Who You Know That Counts: The Importance of Learning by Example

My nephew Todd is about to wrap up his first year of college at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. On a recent trip home, I asked if he’d decided on a major yet. “Yup,” he replied confidently, “I’m gonna be a business major.” “That’s great!” I said, “You can become an entrepreneur!” “No way,” Todd said. I was stunned. “But, why not?” With great certainty Todd informed me that, “Most businesses fail.”

Now where would an eighteen-year-old kid come by such blatant misinformation about small businesses? It’s not like he grew up on reality television shows about eBay sellers trying to survive on deserted islands or videogames that pit small business owners against evil economic forces.

In the traditional job world, landing a plumb job often comes down to having “connections.” Of course “who you know” is helpful for self-employed folks too. But if you’re miserably stuck in your job-job, it’s who you DON’T know that can make the difference between a lifetime of enduring your work or relishing it. It suddenly hit me that the reason my young nephew is so down on going into business is that, like most people, he doesn’t hang out with people who have done it successfully.

Time for a little auntie-to-nephew chat… “You know, Todd, if you spent time around entrepreneurs like I do you’d see that there is an entire parallel universe out there of people who are making their living in ways that are fun, that contribute to the world, and that are far more financially rewarding than the vast majority of job-jobs.”

Todd definitely liked the idea of doing something “fun” and he was vaguely curious about how a job could help change the world. But it was that last comment – the one about making more money – that got his attention. “Like what?” Todd asked.

Understanding the value of learning by example, I rattled off a few of the folks that I “hang out” with. Each offer valuable lessons for us all.

Work Can Be Fun

Annamarie von Firley started wearing vintage clothing as a teenager and got hooked on the look. Today she spends her day in ways the average employed person only dreams about. Annamarie’s five-person company, reVamp (reVampVintage.com) designs, makes, and sells historically accurate clothing. How fun is that?

Proving once again that multiple profit centers are the way to go, reVamp runs weekly fashion shows and offers “vintage immersion classes.” Los Angeles-area vintage buffs and others can sign up to learn about such fun topics as vintage make-up and hair styles, advanced apron making, and 16th and 17th century cosmetic preparations taught by, get this, a make-up historian. Who knew?!

Making a Living by Making a Difference

Another business that’s sure to inspire my college-bound nephew is Mercado Global (MercadoGlobal.org). In 2003 while they were still students at Yale, Benita Singh and Ruth DeGolia spent nine months in the western highlands of Guatemala. They fell in love with the beautiful handicrafts made by the local women. Before returning home with a suitcase full of samples, they made a plan to sell to the U.S. market by linking up with local women’s cooperatives.

Back on campus the two students managed to sell all of the items they’d brought back at a 300 percent profit. A year later they started Mercado Global and soon thereafter launched its first catalog featuring products from 14 community cooperatives. Their first-year profit was $75,000. The second year it was $600,000.

But the real success of this business can not be measured in dollars. Ninety percent of the profits go back to the local community. In its first year, sales from Mercado Global provided fair wages to 178 cooperative members across Guatemala with enough additional revenues to send upwards of 100 of their children to primary school for one year.

Knowledge Equals Money, Selling Knowledge Equals Lots of Money

Another “under the radar screen” business that gets surprisingly little press in the mainstream media is information products. The great thing about selling information products is you keep your day job while you grow your business on the side. Last week I told Fast Track Your Dreams Community about a guy named Andrew who is doing just that.

Andrew is a veterinarian who wrote a little eBook that teaches people how to care for their ailing dogs and cats. Over time he was able to get sales up to a pretty steady $1,000 to $1,500 a month. Not bad when you consider that he was only charging somewhere around $27.

A lot of people would be happy with an extra $12,000-$15,000 a year in “passive income.” But Andrew had read all the statistics about the size of the pet market in the U.S. All he had to do was find a better way to tap it. So, he did what smart business people do. They find other business people who have “cracked the code” and they learn from them.

Andrew used a small portion of his profits to invest in a self-study program that taught him how to expand his product by simply by asking his customers what they wanted. Once he’d created a higher priced product, he also learned from this same program how to more effectively locate and sell to the people eager to buy what he has to sell. In just two weeks he made $59,400 in sales.

The great thing about entrepreneurs is that they learn from failure but positively feed off of success. Building on that momentum Andrew went on to create a membership site that is now generating approximately $10,000 a month. Right now he’s looking at earning somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 in 2007. I’ll be meeting Andrew and other successful information marketers in person at the big Product Launch Formula seminar later this month in Denver.

Not surprisingly, I’m pretty sure the seminar already sold out. But if you recognize the power of learning by example, you can still sign up to learn more about Andrew’s big success by going to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/productlaunchcase. And, if you think you’re ready to make a serious investment in your business, that’s also where you can check there to see if any new seminar slots have opened up.

I know I opened Todd’s eyes. You probably don’t need convincing as much as you do insight and information. Fortunately, each one of these entrepreneur’s stories offers lessons for the aspiring self-bosser:

From Annamarie we once again learn that there are an infinite number of fun ways to turn your interests into income. Ruth and Benita provide an inspiring reminder that you really can turn your values into your vocation. And from Andrew we see how a relatively small investment in your education can pay you back many times over.

I’ve got four years to work on my nephew before he ventures out into the wide world of work. But if you want to be a member of the joyfully jobless club sooner than that, you absolutely positively need to start paying attention to the people who have already arrived.

There are lots of ways to “hang out” with entrepreneurs. You can start subscribing to magazines like Entrepreneur or to one of the thousands of passion-specific publications like Atomic Magazine, billed as “The Essential Guide to the Retro Revival,” Toy Soldier and Model Figure and In-Fisherman magazine.

And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have your own business to join your local Chamber of Commerce or attend their various networking meetings. It costs nothing to do what Barbara Winter and I do and “grill” every interesting entrepreneur we come into contact with.

I’ve been self-employed for going on a dozen years now and I still get jazzed hearing about regular people who have found interesting ways to work for themselves. Apparently I’m not alone. Year after year, one of highest rates segments of the Work at What You Love workshop is the panel of local entrepreneurs sharing their stories.

For others the sheer energy of being in a room full of people or otherwise part of a community who are as excited about the prospect of making a living without a j-o-b as they are enough to get the entrepreneurial ball rolling. After all, when it comes to being a successful self-bosser – it’s all about who you know!

p.s. Finally a bit of good news about today’s youth. According to Junior Achievement (JA.org), in 2006 a whopping 71 percent of kids aged 13 to 18 said they would like to become entrepreneurs. And between 1995 and 2006, the number of kids in this same age-range who participated in programs offered by The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE.com) jumped from 2,600 to 15,970. I can’t wait to tell my nephew!


How One Income-Generating Idea Leads to Another

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And talk about trends! A quick hop over to the Association’s site (APPMA.org) led me to a much longer list of pet related trends and statistics. The information aspiring entrepreneurs will perhaps find most interesting is the 2007 Pet Products Trend Report. Now I already knew that Entrepreneur magazine had designated pet owners as one of the top 10 markets. But I had no idea that big name companies like Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire, and name-brand toys to gourmet treats and food.

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

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

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

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


Earn Money as a Local Tour Guide

There really are no shortages of interesting ways to turn an interest in a viable income stream. As any good “Opportunity Analyst™” knows, you never know where a great idea will come from.

For example, in advance of an upcoming speaking engagement in Lexington, Kentucky, my client sent me
a link to my hotel. In addition to the usual list of hotel amenities, the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort also featured a link to Area Attractions.

I’ve never been to Lexington. But I also only have a few hours to sight-see. Generally I prefer to explore on my own. But there are times (like when I had a mere four hours to see Frankfurt, Germany) when it’s a lot more convenient to have a local tour guide pick you up at my hotel and show you the sites. This is especially true for older people or for anyone who may have difficulty getting around on their own or who don’t like driving in unfamiliar places.

So I decided to follow a link called “Hotel Recommended Tour Services” which led me to HorseFarmTours.com. The Opportunity Analyst in me was fascinated to see how some local people managed to turn their knowledge of this world-renowned “horse country” into a viable small business.

Adults plunk down $30 to be taken “inside the plank fences and down the shady lanes of Central Kentucky” and onto working farms – something the average person could not do on their own. Tourists get a “behind the scenes look at horses after their racing careers are over, in-foal broodmares, weanlings, yearlings and, depending upon the time of year, newborn foals.”

The tours run twice a day, seven days a week. If the photos at the Website are any indication, it looks like they can handle at least a dozen people. You do the math. I’m sure, like a lot of businesses, there are slower and busier months and days. But, all and all, it’s not a bad way to make a living sharing your passion with others.

What strikes me is that a lot more people could be partnering with local hotels to run walking and other kinds of tours. For example, anyone who has attended the annual Work at What You Love workshop in Northampton, Massachusetts knows what a special area this is. And yet, I could not find a single small tour company operating in the entire Pioneer Valley. Sounds like opportunity knocking to me!

If you think you’d get bored running the same tour over and over, then think outside the box and create a series of tours. Tours could be based on themes, demographic niche (children, garden lovers, etc.), or season.

For example, a theme tour in my area could include a historical tour of Emily Dickenson’s house and grave site, a drive by former Northampton mayor and United States President Calvin Coolidge’s home, and a visit to Old Deerfield Village just to name a very few.

The next day could be the craft- or art-lovers tour. Tourists could be guided through one of many local art galleries, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the Smith College Museum of Art, or the Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in the nearby Berkshires. Certain tours could coincide with date-specific events like the upcoming Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail where ten potters in the Amherst, Northampton and Greenfield, Massachusetts areas open their homes and studios to visitors.

But that’s just the beginning. I could see tours emphasizing kid- or even teen-focused activities, guiding small groups of flora and fauna lovers on local nature trails, leading canoe trips up the Connecticut River, even taking fans of the paranormal on tours of local haunted houses or cemeteries.

Once you’ve been running your touring business for a while you can do what Crete-Walks.com did. In addition to running walking tours themselves, they also train out-of-town tour operators how to lead their own walking tours in the area. Now that’s thinking like an entrepreneur!

You don’t need to live in a well-known tourist destination to find people eager to pay a knowledgeable local to show them around. As travel writer and former contributing editor to International Living magazine Jen Stevens points out, “Where ever you live is a destination for someone else.” (Listen to my complete interview with Jen ChangingCourse.com/asktheexpert.htm)

Case in point was a full-page feature in The Boston Globe’s Sunday Travel Section about a small, used bookstore and café located a mile from my home called The Montague Book Mill (MontagueBookMill.com). Proving once again that just about any deficit can be turned into an opportunity, the owners of this off-the-beaten-path location sell T-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumpers stickers featuring the logo: “Books you don’t need at a place you can’t find.”

Don’t want to start a tour company? The fact that lots of people would love to make money running tours tells me that opportunity is still knocking… just at a different door. For example you could start the Association of Walking Tour Operators of Canada. Or you could interview small – and ideally, unique – tour operators and then produce some kind of a “how to start a tour business” handbook or audio series.

If you don’t want to start your own Website you may be able to work with an established information products distributor like Dream Jobs to Go or Fab Jobs. Both sites feature “how to” guides on a range of businesses like How to Become a Food Critic, Movie Reviewer, Jewelry Designer, Professional Golfer, Spa Owner and many, many more. If your guide is accepted, you earn a commission on all books sold. Plus you can still sell them at your own site and elsewhere as well.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Opportunity is knocking. So what are you waiting for?


Innovative Ideas May Be All “In Your Mind”

Aspiring entrepreneurs – especially those who are “creativity-impaired” – can take heart in knowing there is more than one way to generate ideas for products or services.

Capitalize on mistakes. Some of the best product ideas were unintended. Did you know, for example, that Post-It-Notes were the result of what 3M Company researchers at first thought to be a bad batch of glue?

Then there was Thomas Sullivan, a New York City tea importer who, in 1908, found that the sample tins of tea he normally sent to customers had become more expensive. His solution was to send less tea and to have the samples sewn into small silk bags. Sullivan’s customers assumed that these convenient bags were meant to steep in hot water and orders started rolling in for this new product innovation now known as the tea bag.

Sleep on it. One of the best times for idea development is in the early stages of sleep. Both Thomas Edison and artist Salvador Dali often used their nap time to stimulate creative thinking. The men would nap in a chair while holding a small metal object (Edison held a ball bearing, Dali, a key).

The object would eventually clank to the floor, awakening the nappers with a start. Edison and Dali would then quickly jot down whatever ideas or intuitive connections may have been in their mind.

Pay attention. Did you know that burrs were the inspiration for the popular clothing fastener known as Velcro? When you start looking at the familiar with fresh eyes you’ll be amazed at the creative business possibilities you might see.

Be ready. Keep a notebook and pencil or a small tape recorder handy at all times. After all, you never know when or where the inspiration for your new enterprise may strike!  

Trust your gut. Speaking of Post-It-Notes, back in the late 1980s my then employer held a course on innovation. Attendees were put into small groups to brainstorm new product ideas and then present the best idea to the entire class. As I watched the other groups writing their favorite idea on flip chart paper and hanging them on the wall with masking tape, the light bulb went on…

What if flip chart pads were manufactured to work like giant Post-It-Notes for easier hanging? Being a trainer myself, I thought it was a great idea. My group didn’t agree and picked another one instead. What was at the time a novel product improvement is today pretty much the standard for flip chart pads. I may have missed out on a fortune but I learned an invaluable lesson – trust your gut and go for it.


An Interesting Business Opportunity for People with an Eye for Home Design

When I was a child one of my favorite games was “house.” I was forever re-decorating my bedroom, turning corners of the attic or basement into imaginary abodes, and re-arranging the doll’s furniture. Given that the dolls themselves were optional suggests what I was really playing was the child’s version of interior decorator.

As an adult I still love home decorating, but when it comes to making major design decisions, I always call on my friend Gail. Gail’s house looks like something out of a magazine. Although her job-job is installing computer networks for a major airline, Gail’s passion and gift are home and garden decorating.

Here are 5 ways to tell if you have a passion for home decorating:

  1. People are forever walking into your home and complimenting you on your sense of home design.
  2. Friends frequently call on you for decorating advice.
  3. You’re hooked on the cable television channel Home and Garden (HGTV) or magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Architectural Digest, Domino, Country Homes…
  4. When, at a mall, you would rather browse Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn than Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, or other clothing stores.
  5. You could sit and admire the fruits of your own home design handiwork for hours.

If you passed the passion test then you’ve probably already thought about becoming an interior designer. The fact that you haven’t pursued this as a career path suggests there’s something about it that isn’t a fit for you. Perhaps it’s because becoming a licensed interior designer means getting into more complex areas like structural issues and electrical schematics.

Even though decorating itself is about color, shapes, texture, and design, it’s also very much a people thing. This point was driven home to me by a client named Robert. Robert’s passion was creating ambiance. One big reason being an interior decorator never spoke to him was that he didn’t want to work with people he couldn’t relate to. As Robert put it, “I don’t want to spend hours helping rich housewives decide between this crown molding or that crown molding.” What Robert really wanted was to get paid for doing what he loved to do – helping average-income people create spaces that feel good.

Getting Paid for Your Sense of Design

Self-taught designer-turned-entrepreneur Stephen Fofanoff knows exactly where Robert is coming from. I first met Stephen when he was a panelist at Changing Course’s annual Work at What You Love workshop in Ventura, California.

Stephen’s entrepreneurial aspirations began when he and partner Chris Warnock bought a house they planned to fix up and sell. Although neither of them were trained as a decorators, their renovation job was so fantastic that friends began asking for their advice. No one they knew could afford to drop $100,000 on a pricey interior designer.

What the do-it-yourself types really wanted was for someone with a “designer’s eye” to sit down with them for a few hours and tell them what they should do. Someone who could come in and offer advice on what color to paint a room or what kind of countertops they should buy or how to place furniture to make a small room appear bigger or an oversized room feel cozier.

So Stephen and Chris made it their mission to find interior design companies who were offering the kind of affordable, flexible home and garden design advice that their friends were looking for. When their search came up empty they knew they heard the unmistakable sound of opportunity knocking.

Seeking to ride the wave of the do-it-yourselfer craze and acknowledging the fiercely independent and style-savvy homeowner, they started their own company aptly named A Designer’s Eye. Initially they structured the business on a percentage basis like interior designers do. For a short time, they considered another popular commission-based model that involves pushing a specific brand of furniture or window treatment. Neither felt right. Stephen and Chris put it more bluntly. “We both tried doing it the old way, and it sucked. We felt like scam artists trying to win clients’ trust, then overcharging them.”

Instead say Stephen and Chris, “We really just wanted to swoop in, help clients come up with great ideas and cool designs, then give them a hand pulling it off, not latching on and draining them until the next juicy prey came around. Once we decided we were going to do it our way, it was easy. Clients loved it. We just built our business around the things clients needed.”

Needless to say, A Designer’s Eye was a huge success. The clients loved being able to control how much they spent by paying for expert advice on an hourly basis. But the business attracted another fan base – namely style-savvy people like Stephen and Chris who have a natural talent and passion for decorating.

So after receiving 79 unsolicited requests for franchises in a matter of months, Stephen and Chris decided to franchise their business. “We knew we were on to a winning idea,” says Stephen. “What has surprised us in the test phase of the business model is how responsive customers have been to our ‘no pressure’ philosophy. This approach has won us a trusting customer base that keeps working for us in return business and add-on services. This element is making our franchise model even more viable.” The company’s goal is to franchise 500 units in the next five years.

Stephen and I have talked on and off since meeting in June. Given the high interest in home decorating, I wanted to learn more about what’s involved in becoming A Designer’s Eye franchisee. Franchisees are no small investment. So why, I wanted to know, wouldn’t someone with a flair for design just strike out on his or her own? One of the biggest reasons says Stephen is while creative types are gifted design-wise they hate dealing with the business side of self-employment.

To help with things like planning, organizing, client and time management, each franchisee is partnered with a personal Business Development Coach. Part motivational “life coach” and part “business coach” this person has one job and one job only – to do everything they can to make his or her franchisee successful faster. Toward this same end, Stephen and Chris are already in the planning stages of additional revenue streams for franchisees.

Each week the designer and his or her coach get together for a phone meeting. During that meeting the coach helps the designer create a weekly activity plan, decide how best to prioritize and manage their time, problem solve, and more. In addition to the human support, franchisees get a state-of-the-art Web-based business management system that automates all the key design and business functions.

Having an innate talent for home decorating is just the beginning. As part of their 160 hours of training (which, according to Stephen, is considerably more than the 80 to 100 hours interior designers typically receive) franchisees receive a week of onsite training at the company headquarters in Woodland Hills, California.

In addition to learning about various aspects of design, the training includes role playing, technical training, marketing and networking, class shopping trips, and negotiating with vendors. Designers also receive ongoing training where they learn, for example, how to work with the yearly color forecasts. Even though each franchisee has a protected territory, they are encouraged to network and learn from other decorators via regional meetings and monthly phone calls with a coach.

Going the franchise route requires an initial financial investment. The advantage, though, is that what you spend in money you make up for in time. It’s kind of like taking out a loan to get an MBA or other advanced training verses trying to acquire the same level of training and experience on your own time. As a franchisee you’re also buying into a proven system, which in the end can save a considerable amount of time and money that can otherwise get eaten up through individual trial and error.

For those who are drawn to the creative side of home and garden decorating but have trouble being self-motivated, another huge advantage of becoming a franchisee is support. Between the initial training, the ongoing training, the one-on-one coaching and support, and the live customer support available to clients when you’re out of the office, you get to be in business for yourself, but not BY yourself. For people who want to focus on what they love to do without the stress of figuring out how to build and manage a business on their own, a franchise might just be the way to go.

Click here to learn more about A Designer’s Eye and this unique franchise opportunity or read a list of questions and answers by Stephen, Chris, and the Director of Franchise Operations J. Kathy Repique at ChangingCourse.com/designerseye.htm


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