There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. ~ John F. Kennedy
Opportunity Knocks: Creative Ways to Make a Living Without A Job
Follow the Trends to Find a Profitable Business Idea
Valerie and her wonder dog,
By Valerie Young
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 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. (I plan to print out info about Aqua2Go atWaterOnTheGo.com and present it to manager of my local Whole Foods store.)
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 ofStuff4Sprouts.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 calledParentingByNature.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.
Once 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."
P.S. Imagine spending two days totally focused on realizing your dream of self-bossing. Now imagine being in a room of over 100 enthusiastic dream makers who are all focusing on the exact same goal… people who don’t think you’re crazy at all.
Imagine how much faster you could turn this dream into a reality if you had a couple of experts like myself and Barbara Winter on hand to guide your way – experts who want nothing better than to see you succeed… The energy is positively electrifying!
It was not easy to coordinate our schedules but Barbara Winter and I were finally able to find a common date for the 5th Annual Work at What You Love workshop. It’s happening April 11-12 in Northampton, Massachusetts. But here’s the real news:
I am committed to making this both the best and the BIGGEST Work at What You Love seminar ever. So I decided to do something unheard of… To make sure we have as big and as diverse a group as possible I’m actually lowering the seminar price. Register before March 15th and come at the ridiculously low price of $199 (even less if you come with a friend, family member, or business partner).
Even though the Early Registration price does not end until March 15th, the room only holds so many people. And at this price I guarantee we will sell out well before that. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/careerchangeworkshop.htm
Add Your Two Cents
Want to comment on this article? Click here to hop over to the Changing Course Blog!
About the Author
"Turning Interests Into Income" 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.
To read more articles about how to work at what you love without a job go to ChangingCourse.com/articles.htm
Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~ Wayne Dyer
Work at What You Love:
The Life Changing Workshop for People Who Want to Quit Their Job and Work at What They Love
Find out how you can escape the J-O-B box… and uncover a whole new world of possibilities.
Tap your wildest dreams...and start making a plan to make them happen right now...
Discover the powerful secret to turning almost anything into an alternative to a job...
Come away with the tools you need to create work – and a life – you really love.
Highly successful entrepreneurs do it instinctively. Now you can, too. Learn powerful, proven techniques for marketing your business without the fear of rejection.
Join "Outside the Job Box" expert Valerie Young and Barbara Winter, best-selling author of Making a Living Without a Job for what promises to be an extraordinary two days – filled with energy, enthusiasm, wisdom...and practical, life-changing know-how.
April 11-12, 2008
Click Here to Learn More
Register before March 15th to save $100. The event room only holds so many people so when it’s full, that’s it. At the ridiculously low price Early Bird Registration price of only $199 (even less with the Bring a Friend and Save offer) I can practically guarantee this seminar will sell out fast.
"After the workshop I decided that life was too short not to follow my dreams...and I started planning my future. About a year later, I resigned from my "big salary" job to pursue my dreams." ~ Suzanne Willis
Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer. ~ Marcia Wieder
Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing. ~ William Feather
Beyond Guidance Counseling
By Barbara Winter
Ann Kullberg is an artist and entrepreneur who teaches art to adults. When we talked, we discovered we had something in common: we’d both been English teachers. My career had lasted two years longer than hers, but we shared a lifelong passion for teaching. "I really think I became an artist," Ann said, "so I could keep teaching." Like me, she does that through seminars and workshops around the country that have nothing to do with English literature.
I graduated from college with a double major in English and Speech and a minor in Library Science. It was assumed that the only legitimate thing to do with such a degree was to plunk down in a secondary school and teach. Like Ann, I grew restless and wanted to explore a larger territory. And, like Ann, I discovered my passport to the bigger world came via my own business.
Shortly after my conversation with Ann, I was going through some articles I had clipped. One in particular caught my eye because at first glance I wasn’t entirely sure why I’d kept it. It was an article from the Las Vegas Review Journal titled "Dreaming Big." The article was a roundup of ten people chosen by the newspaper’s editors and entertainment writers as the movers, shakers, and visionaries who are making an impact upon entertainment as we know it. The article included a photograph of each person along with a short bio. As I looked through the list, I saw exactly why I’d saved it. There’s Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, of course, whose educational credentials list "no formal education beyond high school."
Here’s what originally got my attention:
Steve Wynn, Casino Developer
Education: Bachelor of arts degree in English literature
Robert Reynolds, Band Manager of The Killers
Education: Bachelor of arts degree in English
Glenn Schaeffer, CEO of Fountainbleu Resorts
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in literature and a master of
fine arts degree in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
But there’s more about Schaeffer that is unique. According to the article, "A longtime casino executive, Schaeffer used his money and his literature background to make Las Vegas an important fixture in the literary world. In 2000, he was the force behind establishing Las Vegas as the first US "City of Asylum," a project that gives oppressed writers a place to live and work after fleeing their homelands. In 2001, Schaeffer founded and funded the International Institute of Modern Letters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting oppressed writers."
Go English majors!
I’m pretty sure that nobody at the University of Pennsylvania told Steve Wynn that his degree in English literature would be the ideal path to revolutionizing the hotel industry in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, Wynn’s fascination with art, literature and entertainment all played a role in his bringing a new aesthetic and class to his entrepreneurial activity.
That, of course, is what the creative revolutionary does: makes connections and finds inspiration in disparate things. Out of that unique experience and insight, something new is born. What these bold dreamers also show us is that our formal education doesn’t have to limit us, but can add another dimension to far flung activities.
While you may not have been an English major yourself, I urge you to do a bit of research and find some fascinating success stories of folks who shared your background or career and moved on to something quite different. It’s a potent reminder that we all have far more options than we may realize. Seeing real life examples of others who have thrown off limitations and boldly moved into uncharted territory can add a psychological and metaphysical boost to our own efforts.
Happily, I see evidence of that every day in the stories I hear from seminar participants like former technical writer Maureen Thomson who is building a sensational business as a wedding officiate. Or pharmacist Kris Rollag who has combined her passions for photography and Australia into a whole new life. Then there’s Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer, who discovered his background in sales and marketing was an asset in launching his freelance writing business.
Take an inventory of your own past training and experience and see what you’ve learned and mastered that can be put to work in new and better ways. You may surprise yourself as you discover that you’ve been gathering all kinds of tools and insights that would astonish your guidance counselors who forgot to tell you that the joyfully jobless life was the perfect option for you.
About the Author
Barbara J Winter is a Las Vegas-based writer, speaker and enthusiastic fan of Changing Course. In addition to conducting seminars for the Joyfully Jobless, she also publishes Winning Ways newsletter. Barbara is currently at work on a collection of stories from people who have made the transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny. ~ Alfred A. Montapert
Upcoming Workshops and Teleclasses
Here are a few featured workshops and Teleclasses; you'll find a complete listing atChangingCourse.com/courses.htm
Turn Your Everyday Snapshots Into Cash
This January in Austin, TX, You Can…
Learn from professional photographers the techniques they use to shoot pictures that sell for $150, $400, $600 -- and even higher…
Get hands-on practice applying your new skills -- while you explore one of the world's most enchanting cities…
Discover how travel photographers create a need for their photos -- and double or even triple your photography income…
Find out just how easy it is to turn your snapshots into cash… and enjoy the freedom, independence, and travel that freelance photography delivers…
The Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop
January 31 - February 2, 2008
Visit: ChangingCourse.com/recommends/photographyworkshop for more details or (866) 415-1425 or local at (202) 370-6459 from 8:00am -5:00pm Eastern Standard Time. Spaces are limited.
Broaden Your Horizons as You Expand Your Bank Account! Help the Poor and Gain More Fulfillment and Fun.
Ecuador Import & Export Tour
After 12 years of traveling, digging, exploring and enjoying themselves all over Ecuador, Steve and Merri Scott invite those of you who want to really get out there and experience the Export Trail. You’ll gain exciting ways to increase your security, independence, freedom, wealth and well-being while helping this very deserving country and its indigenous people.
Improve the quality of your life, expand your horizons and reduce the tax you pay as you increase asset protection by having an overseas company and overseas income!
You’ll go to the high Andes. You’ll see products from Zuleta where they create handmade "green" cotton-one-of-a-kind tableware, shirts, and specialty items. You’ll travel every day to see different markets, crafts people and masters who create special products that will make your eyes gleam with delight…both for their uniqueness and salability.
Ecuador Import & Export Tour
February 18-23, 2008
Learn More at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/ecuadortour
[Note from Valerie: I have met and worked with Gary and Merri as well as a past student of theirs who has now launched her own import business. Gary and Merri Scott and their course are the real deal. If you are serious about importing, especially from Latin or South America, this program will get you started faster than you could ever do on your own.]
Dream Maker Teleclass Series
Our 2008 Dream Maker Speaker Series starts out with a bang! Or maybe I should say, with the crack of a baseball bat.
Join me on Wednesday, January 23rd from 8:00-9:00 as I talk with John McCarthy, social entrepreneur, baseball coach, literacy educator and founder of the Home Run Baseball Camp geared for boys and girls ages
4-15 in Washington, DC.
I first learned about John back in 2001 when he was featured on a Today Show episode. I was incredibly moved by his story and have used his story as a inspiring example in my workshops ever since.
After being cut from the Baltimore Orioles minor league team John (a.k.a. Coach Mac) wanted to find a way to combine his love for baseball and his commitment to kids. Today, tens of thousands of kids have attended John’s Home Run Baseball camp.
The parents love the camp because John "sneaks in" values like the importance of being on time, reading, nutrition, and remembering to thank others. The kids love it because, in a time when many parents are obsessed with winning, John downplays competition and instead emphasizes the importance of effort over skill. The camp’s motto "Talent is what you have; effort is what you give" is an equally valuable lesson for anyone seeking to change course.
John also has a strong commitment to literacy and social entrepreneurship. In 1994 he created Elementary Baseball, an after school literacy and baseball program for boys and girls ages 6-12 in Washington DC's Shaw neighborhood. With encouragement from early supporters DC Superior Court Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton and DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Annice Wagner, more than 80 court employees--including 15 judges--volunteered as mentors to the youngsters in the program.
In 1997, the US Department of Justice funded Elementary Baseball and named it a Pathways to Success program. To date, Elementary Baseball has helped more than 600 students and recruited over 700 volunteer tutors from area high schools and colleges. It has served as a model for DC's own Field of Dreams program and the University of Notre Dame's literacy program, "Teamwork for Tomorrow."
Then in 1999, John joined forces with former Major Leaguer, Pepe Frias and educator, Sister Lenore Gibb to start Beisbol y Libros (Baseball and Books) in a small town called Consuelo in the Dominican Republic. Since that time Beisbol y Libros has helped over 400 children ages 5-16 by offering access to reading tutors and professionally trained baseball coaches five days a week.
John has written for National Catholic Reporter, was a contributing editor for the Sports Illustrated Pitching Book Series and recently contributed to the book "What Do You Stand For?" He is a frequent speaker to schools on service learning and has spoken to W.H. Council (Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron's elementary school), Greenwich Country Day and Brown University among others. In addition to speaking at schools, John has also spoken at the American Psychiatric Association annual convention, Greenpark Financial, and Fannie Mae. In 2000, he was awarded the DC Superior Court Medal of Excellence. He has been profiled in Time, Newsweek, Education Week, Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, the Today Show, CNN and ABC's Nightline. And now for the Fast Track Your Dream Community Dream Maker Teleclass!
Listen in as John shares his amazing journey and offers advice on how you can find work you love. This is one Dream Maker Teleclass you don’t want to miss!
Wednesday, January 23rd
8:00 - 9:00pm Eastern Time
Click Here to Register
This Teleclass is free to current members of the Fast Track Your Dream Community. Non-members are welcome to attend for $19 with all proceeds going to the non-profit micro-grant organization TrickleUp.org
p.s. If you could use a, "Wow, that made my day" moment, click here to watch that same Today Show feature that so moved me: http://www.homerunbaseballcamp.com/html/news.html
"How to Become Joyfully Jobless" Teleclass Series hosted by Barbara Winter
Learn what it takes to live the joyfully jobless life from the master − Barbara Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job. A vivacious and wildly popular speaker, Barbara will address such topics as the power of multiple income streams… how to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like an entrepreneur… why starting small is the smartest (and most profitable) way to launch your new enterprise… and much more.
Like mini-workshops, these monthly Joyfully Jobless Teleclasses are interactive, which means you get to ask questions and benefit from firsthand feedback from the woman I call the "Muse of Self-Bossing."
This series is free to current members of the Fast Track Your Dream Community*. Non-members are welcome to attend for $19 with all proceeds going to the non-profit micro-grant organization TrickleUp.org
*To learn more about how you can fast track your dream of working at what you love - and get a two month membership FREE - go to ChangingCourse.com/fasttrackyourdream.htm
**A portion of all revenue from this Teleclass will go to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of impoverished people in the US and internationally via the micro-grant organization TrickleUp.org
"I can't do it" never yet accomplished anything; "I will try" has performed wonders.
~ George P. Burnham
The View From theOther Side
"In sales, I made money for myself and my company. Now I do it for little kids, and the money goes back into the program."
~ Former pharmaceutical national sales manager Pam Gaber, who left to start Gabriel’s Angels Inc., a Mesa, Arizona-based group that provides pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk children.
Resources for a Change
January is the time of fresh beginnings and launching grand goals. So this week’s Resources for a Change are all about helping you jumpstart your small business marketing efforts.
Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. If you have a web site, or are getting ready to design one, you need this book. Learn how to avoid common design traps that make viewers click off of your site and how to design a site that is user-friendly and therefore, prosperity-enhancing. ChangingCourse.com/bookstore.htm
2008 Marketing Plan Grow Your Business Calendar Do you wish could spend less time marketing and more time doing the profitable work you love? Follow the weekly instructions in Ilise Benun’s new 2008 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan/Calendar and you’ll have a complete marketing system up and running in just a few months. When you know how to organize your marketing efforts to deliver maximum results quickly and efficiently you’re free to doing the work you love. To learn more about this highly affordable resources go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/marketingmentor
Work With a Marketing Coach
If you’re ready to really get serious about self-promotion, and know yourself well enough to know that you need some regular hand-holding (maybe even some healthy nagging) to keep you on task, consider working with a personal marketing mentor like master marketer Ilise Benun. Ilise is an internationally recognized expert on the art of self-promotion who will work with you to create a personalized marketing plan and then meet weekly to help you implement your plan and stay on track. I have been a fan of Ilise’s work for well over a decade and recommend her highly. Learn more at Marketing-Mentor.com
Hire a Professional Copywriter
I have seen far too many wonderful online businesses, coaching, and other practices fail because they don’t know how to describe what they’re offering in a way that really captures the customer or client’s interest. Sure, you can "save money" by writing your own copy. But will you "make money"? Probably not. Paying someone who has been trained to REALLY understand the art of persuasive sales writing is not an expense –it is an investment. If you are looking for someone who is reasonably priced (some copywriters charge up to $10,000 for single page of copy), will work with you to capture your unique voice, and is a pleasure to work with I recommend freelance copywriter Kammy Thurman in Laurel, Montana. Kammy wrote a fantastic "how to" web guide for the participants in my 2007 Outside the Job Box Career Consultant Certification program and is a graduate of Michael Masterson’s Six-Figure Copywriting program. To learn more about Kammy and what she offers go to AnchorCreative.com. To read my review of the course that launched Kammy’s freelance writing career click here ChangingCourse.com/make-money-as-a-freelance-copywriter.htm
Note: Changing Course does not accept paid advertisements from any of the resources listed here. This list is provided to expand your thinking about just how many interesting ways there are to make a living without a job!