LIVE & WORK ON YOUR OWN TERMS

Have a Great Idea for a Business? Test the Waters Before Diving In



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 190 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Now and then I meet someone (usually a young person) who tells me they really like helping with people, so they’re thinking about going into Human Resources or HR as it’s commonly referred to. They imagine themselves sitting in their large private office eagerly awaiting a long line of interesting employees with interesting problems in need of interesting solutions.

Ask most people who are already in HR though and they’re likely to paint a very different picture. Instead of spending time helping people, most people in HR spend the better part of their jobs days dealing with the "administrivia" of the business
world – hiring, terminations, benefits, pensions, payroll, and all too often, petty grievances.

A lot of jobs seem different from the outside. Think about your current career or job. Now that you’re there, is it what you thought it was going to be? Probably not.

Fantasy vs. Reality

Entrepreneurs are not immune to this "leap before you look" syndrome. Take the classic bed and breakfast fantasy. Clients often tell me they love the idea of selecting the colors and the furnishings, picking fresh flowers from the garden for the breakfast table, greeting the guests, and generally making everyone feel at home. Once the guests check out, they picture themselves settling into a big comfy chair with a good book or perhaps puttering in a Zen-like perennial garden. Utter bliss.

Once the real estate is purchased, most people don’t have the capital to hire others to do the cooking, cleaning, and bookkeeping. As a consequence, once the decorating is done and the garden is planted, they realize they’ve become a combination short order cook/chamber maid/bookkeeper!

Every business has its more mundane parts – especially in the beginning when you’re bootstrapping your business or are a "solo-preneur." But still, the goal is to love more of the work than not. So, before you leap, you need to check out just how wide the expanse is between fantasy and reality.

How do you test out a business idea? Well, if you truly do want to run a bed and breakfast (and for people who are natural hosts, there are lots of wonderful aspects of running a B & B) the best way to get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking is to become a B & B sitter. Just like it sounds, sitters take over the day-to-day operations of established inns so the owners can go on vacation or otherwise get away. Companies like Deserve a Break actually match B & B owners in Australia and New Zealand with experienced relief workers. Similarly, in the UK, farmers can turn to a decades old company called Loring, King and Loring for relief and contract milking and agricultural staff.

Another option is to go to "school." Sticking with our B & B example, you don’t need to earn a four year degree in hotel and restaurant management to learn how to run an inn. Many B & B’s offer weekend workshops for aspiring inn-keepers and some owners do individual consulting. If there are no classes in your area, contact a local B & B and ask if they’d let you intern with them in exchange for some free staffing time once you’re trained.

Getting Prospective Customers to Put Their Money Where Their Intentions Are

Even large, well established companies look before they leap. Hotel giant Hyatt ran an ad in the New York Times Magazine for its new Life Care community in Briarcliff Manor, New York. What caught my eye was not the fact that a hotel chain is branching out into senior housing, but rather the clever way Hyatt went about testing the waters before making a significant financial investment. Here is the fine print:

Through this marketing material, Classic Residence by Hyatt is exploring the market demand for a Life Care community in Briarcliff Manor. By joining the Priority Reservation Program, you are expressing your interest in future residency at Classic Residence by Hyatt at Briarcliff Manor. A Priority Reservation agreement is not a Continuing Care Residency Agreement. All deposits will be held in escrow at Bank of New York. You may obtain a full refund of the reservation system deposit, with interest earned at the prevailing rates at any time for any reason. If a refund is requested, however, you forfeit your priority number and benefits. Your status in the program is subject to the terms of the Priority Reservation Program, which are explained in the Priority Reservation Agreement. Classic Residence by Hyatt is currently under development, with a proposed opening date of 2009. Hyatt is a registered trademark of Hyatt Corporation.

How smart is that? In this case, it paid off. Hyatt withdrew plans to open the community due to escalating construction costs.

Think you’d like to borrow from the Hyatt model to explore market demand for your own high priced product or service? Before you start cashing any checks, keep in mind that the people sending you money are not investors. And as such you can’t use prospective customer’s money until you actually decide to move forward with your enterprise and your customers have signed a clearly spelled out agreement on the front end. This is definitely one place where you’ll want to employ the services of an attorney. But still, if your business idea lends itself to a similar approach, it’s a fascinating example of testing the waters by getting prospective customers to put their money where their intentions are.

There are lots of ways you can look before you leap into a new business. For example, you can:

  • Talk to people who are doing the kind of work you think you’d enjoy. Find out what they love – and don’t love – about their work, what a typical day is like, and what they would have done differently if they had to do it all over again.

  • Read "how to" books. It may not give you the total picture, but at least you’ll know more than you did.

  • Search for "how to" Web sites. As with reading books, it is not the same as test driving a business idea, more like sticking a toe into the information pool.

  • Work for someone else in a similar business. Depending on the business, you may be asked to sign a non-compete clause. Then again, if your goal is to start a specialized summer camp, the smartest way to see if you’d like running a camp is to first work at one.

  • Take classes. Check with your local adult education program, do a search for schools specializing in your area of interest, or seek out online courses. You never know what’s out there until you look. For example, The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City offers courses in how to write a proposal for a cookbook, breaking into food writing, and how to be a food stylist/ photographer (ICECulinary.com).

  • Join an industry association. In addition to getting their publications, most associations offer conferences, seminars, and other opportunities to learn from and connect with people in your prospective line of work.

  • Hang out with people who are already doing what you think you’d like to do. If you’ve got an inventive mind but have never acted on it join a group like the Inventors Network in Minneapolis (InventorsNetwork.org), Washington, DC (DCInventors.org), or Springfield, MA (IRNetwork.org). You’ll find a list of networks by state at InventNet.com.

  • Find a mentor. Some people will mentor you for free. However, depending on how much time and training you need, you should expect to pay your mentor. If that person is successful in the business you’re considering, it will be well worth the investment.

  • Volunteer, intern or apprentice. I had the opportunity to chat with Steve Curwood, host of Living on Earth, an engaging environmental news and information program heard on over 300 National Public Radio stations. Naturally the first thing I did was pump him for information on how someone would go about getting their own program on public radio. Before trying to pitch an idea, Steve urged anyone interested in being on the air to first volunteer at their local station so they can learn first-hand how public radio works.

  • Take on a few clients or assignments for free. In addition to gaining experience, building confidence, and developing a portfolio or track record it’s a great way to see how you like the work before making a larger investment of time and money.

  • Start small. Everyone wants to go from nothing to having their own full blown business in a day. Not only is it not possible but you’d miss invaluable lessons. But perhaps most importantly, starting small once again allows you an opportunity to dabble in a new enterprise before deciding if it’s right for you. Small steps add up. Changing Course began when I sent away for a cassette tape on how to break into the newsletter business. That was over 10 years ago. Today I have over 22,000 subscribers. The key is to just begin.

Do you have a great idea for a business? There are lots of ways to test the waters before you dive in head first. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."


Business Success Bootcamp for Fitness Enthusiasts

Are you (or is someone you know) a personal trainer, fitness instructor, conditioning coach, or other independent fitness professional… or want to be? Are you passionate about being healthy and fit and helping other people do the same? Do you want to stop working twelve hour days and still grow your business by an extra $4000-$5000 a month?Turn Your Enthusiasm for Fitness into an Income Stream

Then I encourage you to seriously consider grabbing a seat at fitness entrepreneur Ryan Lee’s third Personal Trainer Business Success Bootcamp happening this September in Connecticut (Fair warning: his first two Bootcamps sold out fast). The theme of this year’s mega-event is Work Less Make More.

It would be impossible to share all the rave reviews from past attendees but here are a few standouts to give you a feel for what it’s all about… 

“[The workshop was] awesome, fantastic, fabulous, fun, informative, high energy, non-stop excitement. I will be back. Thanks Ryan, I am amazed and awed.”
~ Susan Ripley, Fit for Teens

“I can surely double or triple my income in the next year. I can’t wait to get back to London and start kicking a_ _!” ~ Gavin Walsh

“As a newcomer to this industry, I learned more valuable and immediately useful information in 3 days than I learned in 12 years of attending events in my previous industry!” ~ Lindee Goodall

“Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp is the single best fitness event of the year. The quality of successful independent fitness professionals is on post above all the best. If you have any aspirations of running your own successful business in fitness, you must attend this event.” ~ Jason White, Strength Radio

Ryan is bringing together a world-class group of speakers on a wide range of income-generating and time-saving topics including…

  • How to earn an extra $100.00 a day with your own fitness blog

  • How to go from being a local fitness professional to an international fitness celebrity (gotta love those big dreams!)

  • Secrets of $75,000 per year part-time trainers: How to transition away from traditional one-on-one training

  • How to put your entire fitness business on autopilot with (I happen to know this speaker and he absolutely knows his stuff)

Ryan has helped over 17,525 fitness professionals to dramatically increase their income. In addition to knowing Ryan personally (you will LOVE him), I’m also in a “mastermind” group with one of Ryan’s star students – a really great guy named Craig Ballantyne out of Canada who is rapidly closing in on a seven figure income. (And speaking of rapids, I’ll be white water rafting, rock climbing, and mountain biking with Craig and a buch of other entrepreneurs next week in Aspen – I’ll be the one returning in a cast! But I digress…)

When you read about the speakers and all of what will be covered I am confident you will be as impressed as I was. But what I KNOW will blow you away is the price. Ryan has made this event affordable and accessible to just about anyone.

To learn more about this impressive business- and income-growing training event for fitness professionals at all stages of their careers, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/fitnesstraining
 


Be a Part of Valerie’s New Book

Do you secretly worry that others will find out you’re not as intelligent and competent as they seem to think you are? Do you often dismiss your accomplishments as a “fluke” or “no big deal?” Do you sometimes shy away from or obsess about taking on greater challenges because of nagging self-doubt? Are you crushed by even constructive criticism, taking it as evidence of your ineptness? Are you waiting to be exposed as an impostor, fake, or fraud?

If so, join the club!

It’s estimated that 70 percent of people have experienced these feelings of intellectual fraudulence which are especially common among first generation professionals, creative types (Mike Myers says he’s always waiting for the “no talent police” to show up at his door), students, and others. Fearing that we have somehow managed to fool others “impostors” live in fear that sooner or later we are going to be “found out.”

In March I signed a *big* book deal with Crown Publishing Group to write a self-help book on the so-called Impostor Syndrome. And I am committed to including as many voices and experiences as I can. Simply said, I need your help.

For the next few months I’ll be posing a different question designed to help me better understand how impostor feelings manifest in the lives of my readers. I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts, stories, fears, and solutions with me so that I may in turn, help more people to feel as smart and competent as they truly are.

Question of the Week

The theme this week is “success.” What does success mean to you… or in other words, how do you define success? Do you see success as being the same or different from “achievement” or “ambition” and if so, why and how?

Please include as much information as you feel comfortable sharing – first name, current occupation, age, race, state/province/country. Share as much or as little as you like. No matter what you share, I think just reading other people’s stories will be enlightening to all.

Thank you in advance for your input and support. I couldn’t do this without you!

Valerie Young
Recovering Impostor
ImpostorSyndrome.com


Turning Problems Into Opportunities

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Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 189 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

"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. For example, like a lot of parents, Deb Cohen's problem was that after her first child was born she wanted to find a way to be a stay-at-home Mom.

Around that same time, Deb became aware of a real problem for most homeowners – namely, finding someone reputable to do home repairs or improvements. By putting these two problems together, she came up with the perfect solution for both her problem and that of her neighbors.

Since 1997 Deb has been owner of a highly successful company called Home Remedies of NY, Inc. (HRN), an organized referral company that matches homeowners with skilled, pre-screened independent home-repair workers.

HRN offers homeowners referrals to reputable home improvement contractors free of charge; the contractors represented in the network pay a commission to HRN for any work secured. If you've seen any of NBC's Dateline segments on unscrupulous home repair men (I would say home repair "people" but I've never seen a segment that featured a woman) then you can imagine what a relief it would be to homeowners to be able to easily find trustworthy and competent contractors.

In fact, a few years back I remember picking up a brochure at my local hardware store about a service that sounded a lot like this one. I only wish I'd looked into it before I hired the fly-by-night guy who replaced my roof last summer. What a NIGHTMARE!

I first learned about Deb when the Work from Home channel at iVillage.com featured her as their "Mompreneur of the Month." I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Deb's business has become so successful that she has expanded to offer others the chance to launch a Homeowner Referral Network in their community. I felt instantly reassured when I read that, to date, there are more than 400 Homeowner Referral Networks operating in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

What's nice, too, is that aspiring entrepreneurs can choose from a range of business start-up kits at different price points. The kits offer step-by-step procedures on how to start a network in your area and include contractor commission structures, liability information, a complete direct mail and advertising campaign, and how to locate, screen and represent a comprehensive network of home improvement contractors.

All kits include The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Successful Homeowner Referral Network and unlimited leads from the HRN Web site. Kits range in cost from $1,995 – $6,495 with the higher priced kits including options ranging from business forms to individual phone consultations with Deb to a turnkey website and an online marketing tool designed for HRN owners to stay in touch with their clients.

This also seems like a good opportunity for someone who wants to start their own home repair/improvement business because HRN takes care of all of the marketing and you are instantly affiliated with a company that is known for referring only quality professionals. If you've had a good experience with a home repair person, HRN is actively seeking referrals from satisfied homeowners.

Deb’s business is just one of an infinite number of ways to turn a problem, complaint or threat into a money-making business opportunity. For example, when the news was filled with horror stories of tainted pet food from China, enterprising people leapt on the opportunity to make and sell organic pet food.

The key to being a successful entrepreneur is to become adept at being what I call an “Opportunity Analyst.” The easiest place to begin is to consciously stay on the lookout for examples of problems, complaints or threats and see if you can come up with interesting income-generating ways that you – or someone – could solve them. Look around you. What kinds of things do you, your co-workers, friends or family complain about? Study news sources. Drive through your local neighborhoods or commercial areas.

If you would like to learn more about this interesting business, visit Deb online at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/hrn and you can read Deb's Top 10 Misconceptions About the HRN Business at ChangingCourse.com/hrntopten.htm

Trust me – there are plenty of problems out there for an enterprising person to turn into a great small business opportunity! If you’d like a little help developing your “opportunity muscles,” join me for my monthly Teleclass, “Turning Interests into Income Opportunity Hour.” Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/courses.htm


When it Comes to Your Dreams, Sometimes the Best Advice is to Ignore Everything Your Parents Told You



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 188 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Most of the time my parents did get it right. But everything I learned about achieving career …


Recreate Your Life: Summertime is the Perfect Time to Grow a Dream



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 187 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Has the school calendar of your youth hardwired you into seeing September as the time for new beginnings? If you yearn for a new job, a career change or maybe even a total life makeover – summertime is by far the best time to act.

Summer is synonymous with fun. It’s possible to make a change and still have time for recreation. In fact, the word recreation literally means to “re-create.” And what better way to spend your summer than recreating your life! Here are six ways you can use the rest of the summer to grow a dream:

1. Catch a falling star.

When my best friend, Elaine, and I weren’t building forts or skipping rope we could be found lying beneath a shady tree or a star-filled sky. These weren’t idle pursuits. We were flexing our imaginations. As the most carefree of the four seasons, summers are made for dreaming. It’s the perfect time to gaze upward, to look inward and to imagine what could be.

2. Grow a dream garden.

Look within and you may find the seeds of a dream planted long ago. Left untended though, dreams will fail to sprout. Summer is the ideal time to cultivate our dreams both old and new. Start with good soil. What is it you care deeply about? What makes you happy? What do you want your life to look like? Now get rid of the weeds – the lame excuses, apathy, self-doubt, and fear born from lack of information. Tend to your dreams and watch them grow.

3. Take advantage of the longer days.

Even though those so-called lazy days of summer have gotten a lot busier of late, the additional hours of daylight do seem to add a bit more time to our lives. Once you’ve engaged in some active reflection, use some of this “found time” to start working toward your goals. Even if it’s only 20 minutes a day, it’s all forward motion!

4. Read a real thriller.

As you’re packing for the beach leave the romance novel or who-done-it at home. Instead treat your life like the adventure that it is by picking up a real thriller like Paul and Sarah Edwards' The Practical Dreamers Handbook or Create a Life That Tickles Your Soul by Suzanne Willis Zoglio. Maybe you already have a new direction in mind. Then take this time to read up on that exciting new career.

5. Invest in your dream.

Save both money and time by spending your vacation at home. Make it a real vacation by doing the kinds of things a tourist on a budget might do – go on a picnic, head to a museum, take a day trip. Stash the money you would have spent on a more costly vacation into a “dream fund.” Use your savings to take career-expanding classes, buy some snappy new interview outfit or even start your own business. If your dream includes relocating, do hit the road by using your vacation as an exciting research expedition.

6. Summer is the ideal time to ease into a new job.

With all the overlapping vacation schedules, many organizations operate in a somewhat more relaxed mode in July and August. As a new hire, that means the trial by fire period is apt to be a little less trying. If you’ve been putting off a job move until the fall, keep in mind the slower pace makes summer a great time to learn the new job ropes before the workplace once again launches into fall overdrive.

Recreating your life is about making choices. What choices are you willing to make to grow your dream? Whatever you decide to do, have a safe, relaxing, and inspired rest of the summer!


One Viable Way to “Unjob,” Turn Your Interests into Income, and Still Get a Steady Flow of Income



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 186 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I'm all about finding ways to help people to "un-job." One obvious barrier to quitting the 9-to-5 grind to work on your own is the predictability that comes with a steady job.

Getting a regular paycheck is fabulous – that is if you love your job. But if your work is taking a toll on your health, your relationships, and your very soul, then that's a pretty high price to pay for predictability.

So what if there was a way to do something you really enjoy, be your own boss, and still get a predictable flow of income coming in at regular intervals?

Better yet, what if you actually were taking something you already know and care about – fly fishing or knitting or antique toys or selling on eBay - and were somehow able to create a business that brought in a relatively predictable amount of money every month. I'm not talking about a few dollars here and there. I mean anywhere from a several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars a month? Would you want to learn more?

Well, you may recall that around this same time last year I told you about membership programs – sometimes referred to as continuity or subscriber programs. Before I get into the incredible income potential that can come from running your own membership/continuity program, let's take the example of the online dating service Match.com. You may not think of this as a continuity program but I assure you their accountants do! Singles wishing to be listed or to contact singles listed on Match.com pay a monthly subscriber fee. Unless you cancel, your credit card is automatically billed every month.

Another example I've used before is Consumer Reports magazine. For $4.95 a month I get continued access to special reports and information not available on the free portion of their site. Unless I cancel, the subscription fee will automatically be billed to my credit card.

What makes a membership/subscriber/continuity program so popular comes down to this:


1)
Recurring Monthly Income: In both examples, the businesses automatically bill the consumer's credit card every month, resulting in a steady and relatively predictable stream of recurring income.

2) Access: Members or subscribers sign on because they are getting some kind of ongoing benefit dependent on accessing the content. With online dating services, it's the ability to communicate with and potentially meet the love of your life. With Consumer Reports its' access to a regular stream of desirable information.

3) Convenience: The consumer can sign up once without the hassle of check writing or otherwise having to remember to renew. As the business owner, you skip the hassle of sending out invoices because the money is automatically deposited into your bank account. (Sweet!)

4) Affordability: Far fewer people would shell out hundreds of dollars all at once. But if payments are small, then recurring billing makes what's being offered more affordable to the consumer, resulting in increased sales for the business.

Okay, now that the model is starting to make sense, you're probably thinking, "I'm not a big organization, I'm just one person – how can I possibly run my own membership site?" That's the beauty of the Internet and membership site enabling technology. Today, there are thousands of very profitable membership/continuity programs that are one-or-two person operations.

And before you start moaning about how you don't have anything to offer that anyone would want to buy – I met a guy who is making five figures a month running a member site all about crocheting – and he doesn't even crochet!

That's just the thing – whether you decide to go the membership route or just want to find a way to change course…

Turning Your Interests into Income is a Lot Easier Than You Think

The reality is, you don't even have to have personal knowledge of or experience in a particular field or subject area to start any kind of business, including a member program. I'll prove it.

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Todd Brown. Todd is the founder of MassageBusinessUniversity.com, a member site for massage therapists who want to grow their practice.

Before starting this particular member site (he runs several), Todd was in the fitness field. Here is the thing – he is not a massage therapist. Instead, Todd relies on a team of "faculty" with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members. Todd's expertise lies in knowing how to find out what members want and making sure they get it.

What Todd and other successful entrepreneurs get is that competence isn't about knowing how to do everything perfectly. Competence isn't doing everything yourself. Competence does not mean needing to know 150% before you consider yourself remotely qualified to wear the label: "expert." Competence means knowing how to identify the resources it takes to get the job done.

All It Takes is A Little Creativity

Continuity programs always revolve around the delivery of some kind information, instruction, or even entertainment. However, the type of information, and even the delivery itself, can vary widely. For example, I'm a member of master Internet marketer Yanik Silver's "Underground Secret Society." For $87.63 a month, I receive a big red envelope stuffed with marketing tips and templates and a CD with a new before-and-after Web site critique. If you want to get a better idea of how Yanik structured his member program, go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/secretsociety.

Yanik's program is unique in that he also puts on a big annual event on Internet marketing. In addition to saving on the registration fee, Secret Society members enjoy such perks as reserved seating and an upgraded break area and the chance to network with other members at exclusive cocktail and dinner functions.

At the event I attended, there were at least 200 other Secret Society members. That means from just these 200 members alone Yanik is raking in over $17,500 A MONTH! And these members represent just a small fraction of overall members.

My own member program, the Fast Track Your Dream Program, is set up a little differently. For one, the whole point is to speed up the process of going from having a boss to being your own boss. So the first thing members get is a "Fast Track Kit" full of books and CDs on a range of topics from finding your calling to how to create a step-by-step exit strategy. Members who are really in a hurry can go to a password-protected site to download much of the material immediately.

Fast Track members also get access to a live "Turning Interests into Income" Teleclass every month, three online resource guides, and daily "inspirational nudges." And, to help fight the isolation that Barbara Sher famously cites as THE dream killer, there's also a members-only discussion forum.

If you want to "see" what a member site might look, like you can take a short video "tour" of the Fast Track Community here: ChangingCourse.com/fasttracktour-20.html 

Learn From the Experts

You don't need to know how to set up and run a membership program – or any business for that matter. All you need to do is figure out who does and then learn from them.

Last summer I introduced you to Tim Kerber and Ryan Lee. Tim and Ryan have established themselves as "the" experts on how to set up and run a highly profitable membership business. Ryan's claim to fame is that he went from struggling to provide for his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx to earning over a million dollars a year running a dozen different membership sites on different aspects of fitness.

And Tim is the founder and president of a turnkey solution that handles all the technical aspects of a member program called MemberGate. Together Tim and Ryan run a very helpful program for membership site owners called MembershipSiteOwner.com, of which I am a member.

Last summer, Ryan and Tim created a Tele-training program which obviously hit a nerve because the program sold out in less than a week. Tim wrote to tell me that they're going to open the program again sometime in the next few weeks. But before they do, they've put together a short video to give people a better idea of what it's all about. You'll see in the video some actual revenue figures from folks who went through the training last summer. The numbers range from $4,500 to a month to a whopping $193,000 a month!

These numbers are impressive. But don't forget that starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But because of the recurring income that membership programs provide, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job, or at the very least go part-time.

Learn more about how easy it is to start a membership site and to make it profitable by signing up to watch the first of a series of short videos from Tim and Ryan now:

ChangingCourse.com/recommends/membershipbootcamp

There are lots of ways to turn what you know into income. If you've already been thinking about writing a how-to book, designing and leading workshops, teaching Teleclasses or otherwise profiting from what you already know, you may want to consider adding a member program to the financial mix. No matter which path you choose, it all comes down to just taking that first small step!

P.S. Oh, and one other benefit to you as an entrepreneur is if you ever decide to sell your business, having a continuity program makes your business more desirable because prospective buyers can more easily project future sales.


No Time to Go After Your Dream? How to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality in Five Minutes a Day and Other Tips for Time-Stressed Dreamers



Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 185 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve already made up your mind that there has to be more to life than careers, cubicles, and commuting. Yet, the prospect of making a major life change when you’re already feeling caught between a “clock and a hard place,” feels overwhelming.

Here are five simple steps even the busiest person seeking a major career change can take to get the process rolling:

1. Turn griping time into planning time.

How much time do you spend every week blowing off steam about your lousy job? Instead of wasting precious time complaining about what you DON’T want, use the time to create a clear mental picture of what you DO want. Then make a plan for getting from here to there. Five minutes a day spent working your plan will move you far closer to your goal than 15 minutes of griping.

2. Keep your goal front and center. 

Get out your calendar and set a target date for when you want your new life to begin. Besides being a great source of motivation, knowing how much time you have until "D-Day" lets you create a realistic plan for hitting it. Next, find creative ways to keep your dream, literally, in your face. As you come across images or quotes that reflect your dream, place them around your workspace, in your daily planner, on the refrigerator – any place you’re sure to regularly "see" your destination.

3. Buy with an eye to the future.

If your dream involves working from the comfort of home, you probably won’t need all those business suits overrunning your closet. Resolve now to make do with the work wardrobe you already have. When you do take the leap, you can donate your business attire to an organization like Dress for Success that assists men and women just entering the job market. Spend the money you’ve saved instead on things you’ll need for your new career or venture – like courses, buying or upgrading a home office computer, purchasing equipment, inventory, and so on.

4. Avoid the nay-seers. 

Erma Bombeck once said, “It takes a lot of courage to show someone else your dreams.” Erma knew that most people – especially those closest to you – tend to discourage change of any kind. Unfortunately, other people’s skepticism, like the flu, can be contagious. And, unless you’ve built up your immune system, these dream killers can knock you for a loop. Don’t look for support from pessimistic family or friends. Instead seek out people who can give your dream the support it deserves. 

5. Do what you can – but DO SOMETHING. 

As one Chinese proverb reminds us, moving a mountain begins by lifting one stone. To keep from being overwhelmed – while still making headway – break your larger goal down into more manageable steps. Then, no matter how hectic your day, pledge to take at least one small step. Before you know it you’ll have turned your dreams into your life.


Breaking Into Print: How to Get Paid to be a Freelance Writer – Fiction or Non-Fiction



Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 184 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

You’ve always been drawn to writing – and to the freedom and flexibility of a freelance writer …


Afraid to Take the Leap? Simple Ways to Face Down Your Fears

Valerie and her wonder dog,
"Cokie Roberts"

By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 183 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

The so-called safe path is always “easier.” Just ask Ursula Clay. Ursula tried to take the secure career path her immigrant parents had chosen for her. In fact, she worked incredibly hard to achieve a level of financial success and security her parents, both high school dropouts, never had. Says Ursula:

“I worked very hard to get through law school at night, all the while working full time and struggling financially. When I finally achieved what I thought was the brass ring – i.e., good salary, fancy title, etc. – it was a thoroughly disappointing revelation that this was the end result of all the hard work. It felt very empty and meaningless, further made so by the birth of my two beautiful children. I just felt as though I could not possibly have been put on this earth to toil way for 12 hour days at a job that kept me away from my family, and which I dreaded going to every day.”

“Unless you walk out into the unknown,” says Tom Peters, “the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.” After two years of executing her escape plan which included many moments of fear and uncertainty, Ursula is embracing the unknown. “It’s like getting out of college again, and having a clean slate. I do not know where I am going to end up, or what might come my way. In fact, staying home with my kids right now may be the next calling, and after that, who knows!”

Laugh in the Face of Fear 

Anyone who has ever ventured out of their safe little world will tell you they had doubts. When it comes to making a major life change, not only is a certain amount of fear perfectly normal, it’s actually helpful. For example, it’s our healthy fears that keep us from jumping off cliffs. And the great thing about fear is that there are always ways to get around 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. Let me show you what I mean. 

If I told you the U.S. Senate had just voted to relocate the capital from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, your response would probably be something like, “No way!” That’s because the mind rejects that which it considers absurd. It’s the same with fear. 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.

Change Is Easy – When You Take It One Step at a Time

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

You never know what is going to move you to action. It can be a book, something you saw on television, a chance conversation, a workshop… I was flattered to learn that for Ursula that chance encounter happened when in 2003 she “stumbled upon” the Changing Course website. That was enough to move Ursula to start “formulating an escape plan.” She writes, “My plan consisted of figuring what I wanted to do after I quit my job, and putting myself in a financial position that would allow me to walk away from a well-paying, but unsatisfying career.”

Receiving a consistent message that change was possible says Ursula, “had the effect of pulling me back to my escape plan whenever I started fearing the unknown again, or just got lazy.” For Ursula that message came in the form of this newsletter. For you it might be a support group, a coach, or even a buddy who can check in to see how your plan is progressing.

Even though Ursula has taken the leap, she’s now working on the second part of her goal – coming up with ideas for multiple income streams. The good news is that having faced down her fears once means Ursula can approach her new goal from a far more desirable vantage point. “Now,” she says, “I can read the newsletter on my home computer in my sweatpants while my daughter naps, instead of on my Blackberry while riding the 8:02 pm train back to the suburbs from work.” And to just to underscore how excited she is to be embarking on this new chapter in her life, Ursula signed off with, “Regards from the other side.”

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. That’s because, as Anais Nin once observed, “Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.” Once I found the courage to escape job jail my life expanded in ways I never imagined possible. Life really is better over here on the “other side.” I encourage you to take one small step today to join those of us are enjoying the view from the other side.


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Curvology Studio

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