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Having Trouble Changing Course?
The Solution May Not Be What You Think

By Valerie Young

One of the best parts of my "job" is getting to hear how someone I've somehow touched made the shift from dreaming to doing. I'm not talking about achieving their dreams, although that's always great to hear when someone has finally taken the leap. But I find it equally exciting to learn about the small successes.

Just this week I received lovely box of handmade chocolates in the mail. It was a gift from someone who attended the annual "Work at What You Love" seminar this past July. The note read, "Thanks to you, I can't look at work the same way anymore." High praise, especially when you consider it came from a college career counselor. As far as I'm concerned a shift in how we think about work itself is progress. And when it comes right down to it changing course is really just series of small steps – and as you'll soon see, the right information.

All these progress reports from others got me thinking about my own journey from corporate America to self-bosser. So I decided go back and take a look at the very first article I wrote for the inaugural online version of Changing Course back on August 8, 2000. It was a question and answer exchange between a reader named Anne and me.

In case you weren't around in 2000, I thought it might be helpful to share it again:

Dear Changing Course,

I have been reading, planning, thinking, taking notes, etc. on starting an at-home business. My love is sewing and crafting and faith in God. My idea? Creating and selling inspiration quilt blocks. The problem? It seems that almost 95% of what I have read about at-home business and finding your life purpose/path ends up being based in a service-oriented business. It seems like providing a service vs. producing a product is the truly sustaining career path. Am I wrong?

I love my husband, my family, my friends - I am blessed with a myriad of beautiful and loving people in my life. What I am missing from 7-5, Monday-Friday is my "life." Any advice?

Anne from Wisconsin

Dear Anne,

I am not sure what you are reading but as I flip through my
copies of Entrepreneur, Business Start-Ups and other small
business-oriented magazines, I see no evidence that service businesses have an edge on those that sell a product. In fact, in some instances, products
may have the edge because people can "see" what they're buying.

The issue for anyone thinking about starting a home-based business is not service vs. product. The real question is: Will people buy what I have to sell? Finding the answer means you have to do your homework. The first thing you need to do is determine who your potential customers are and where to find them.

Not sure where to begin? Here are seven ideas to get you started:

IDEA #1: Approach local specialty gift stores about selling your quilts on consignment. You'll have to sell your wares to the store at wholesale but your expenses will be next to nothing.

IDEA #2: Sell your product from your own website. This may be a little labor intensive at first but would also allow you to reach literally millions of potential customers. Contact spiritually like-minded sites to propose setting up reciprocal links.

IDEA #3: Investigate what it takes to get into specialty catalogs featuring hand-made products aimed at your target market.

IDEA #4: Place classified ads in magazines, church newsletters, ezines and other publications aimed at people who share your faith to see what kind of response you get.

IDEA #5: Craft fairs abound this time of year. Do a little "on-site" research by walking around and seeing what other vendors are doing. Compare prices, style, quality, displays and so on. If it looks like a viable way to market your craft, get a table of your own.

IDEA #6: Talk to other crafts people about their experiences. You'll find that most people -- especially entrepreneurs -- are only too happy to share what they know with kindred spirits.

IDEA #7: Experts come in book form as well. Barbara Brabec is one of the more prolific authors on succeeding in a crafts-related business. Check out:
"Creative Cash: How to Profit From Your Special Artistry, Creativity, Hand Skills, and Related Know-How," or "Handmade for Profit: Hundreds of Secrets to Success in Selling Arts and Crafts"

For your convenience, both books are now available in our bookstore at ChangingCourse.com/bookstore.htm

As for advice about what to do about your life being "missing" during
the workweek... the first step to reclaiming your life is to
believe you deserve to have one!

To learn more about the difference between making a living
and having a life, I invite you to read Step 1 of my "10 Steps to
Escaping the Job World and Creating the Life You Really Want"
ChangingCourse.com/articles

Finally, perhaps the most important thing about pursuing a dream is to just
begin. Why? Because as the great opera diva Beverly Sills once said, "You
may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."

Valerie Young

Linus Pauling once said, "The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas." Even though this particular Q&A is seven-year-old, re-reading it got me thinking about some common myths about changing course. Like, for example, the mistaken belief that the main reason people don't strike out on their own is because they're too afraid. I don't think it is fear that holds us back. What I think keeps most people stuck is a lack of information. I mean, if you were Anne can you imagine how excited you would be to receive not one, but seven solutions to your problem?

Which leads me to the other huge misconception namely, that it "takes money to make money." The truth is there are only two things you need to make money – a creative mind and the information you need to implement it. Think about it. What if someone handed you a fistful of money and said, "Here... go start a successful business doing something that would make you incredibly happy." If you didn't have a clue as to what would make you happy or you had a great idea but absolutely no idea where to begin, where would you be?

I've seen firsthand how information and a little creative thinking can literally change lives. So over the years I've tried to deliver as much information and as many ideas as possible. It was a lot easier to answer individual question in 2000 when I had around 900 readers than it is today with more than 23,000. As much as I'd like to, there's just no way that I can respond to everyone personally. That's why when I created the Fast Track Your Dream Community, I wanted to make sure there was a place where the Anne's of the world could go to get their individual questions answered – and that there would be more people than me to answer them.

So in September I started a training program to teach people how to start their own business helping people figure out how to turn their interests into income. It has been an incredibly gratifying experience to use what I've learned over the course of a decade to help others start their own businesses in about three months. I was even more excited when this new cadre of Outside-the-Box Career Consultants (AKA "The Dream Team") agreed to staff a password-protected Q&A Forum just for Fast Track Members.

One of the people who signed up for the Creative Career Consulting Certification Program is Ken Robert, the author of this week's Guest Article. Starting in couple of days, Ken and dozens of other creative minds from the U.S. and Canada will be popping in and out of the Fast Track Your Dream Q&A Forum. They'll be answering – and as importantly, posing – questions to help people like you to find the information and ideas you need to turn your passions into profits.

The great idea lover George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." Exchanging ideas is powerful stuff. The more people there are generating ideas, the more ideas there will be for everyone. And if lots of people are sharing their ideas just imagine how much fruit all of our collective ideas will bear. It's like an ongoing virtual idea fest!

As some of you already heard though, there is a flip side to all this personalized Q&A and idea sharing...

Giving Fast Track members so much individual attention also meant I had to make the tough decision to limit the number of people I can accommodate to around 200. I know this means that less than 1% of the 23,000 Changing Course subscribers will be able to get in. But I decided it was better to disappoint a few people initially than to bite off more than we could chew at the Q&A Forum – and then not be able to properly serve the people that get in the program.

Registration for Fast Track began a few hours ago. The response has been incredible. In the first hour, more than 25 percent of the seats are gone. At this rate it looks like 50 percent of the membership spots will be spoken for in the first 24 hours.

Things are really crazy here today. Right now my plan is to keep the registration process open for two weeks or until we reach 200 members, whichever comes first. Given the tremendous response I honestly don't know what's going to happen. If you aren't able to get into the program initially, once things settle down in a month or two and I get a handle on what the Q&A Forum coaches can handle, I'm hoping to open up the program to more people.

If you're ready to fast track your dream then click here to learn how you can become one of a select group of people to turn their interests into income in 2007 (ChangingCourse.com/fasttrackyourdream.htm).

 

Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at what you love on your own terms.

Did you like this article? Read more free articles about Changing Course.

About the Author

"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

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