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How to Start a Business in a Weekend

Is it really possible to come up with a great idea on Saturday, be in business by Monday, and hit the $1 million mark in the first year?

You can if you’re willing to ditch a lot of lame rules that hold most people back.

That’s what serial entrepreneur Maria Elena Ibanez did.

It all began at her hairdresser’s when she struck up a conversation with another woman who had a background in the Latino food business.

The chance meeting stimulated Ms. Ibanez’s hunger — not for food – but for opportunity. In that instant, she decided to become a player in the Latino food business.

That was in 2002.

By the end of year one, her business, Intermark, had $1 million in sales from four food products. Today her brand, El Latino, carries 256 products.

Ms. Ibanez did have 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 was in an entirely different industry.

In fact, she knew absolutely nothing about the food business whatsoever.

Despite a lack of knowledge, Ms. Ibanez leapt at the opportunity!

What can you learn from this “weekend business launcher” that can help you jumpstart your own entrepreneurial dreams in a matter of days? Plenty!

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, or you can pay someone to consult with you from time to time.

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. Ms. Ibanez ordered a couple 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 sports radio show.

You’d figure it out, right?

So why not do it for yourself?!

Make a list of what you need to know to move your dream forward.

Then create a plan for how you’ll find the information, skills, and/or resources you need.

Lesson 3: Trust Your Instincts

Humans tend to make things more complicated than they need to be.

For example, Ms. Ibanez built her brand by going into an under-served niche in the Latin food market — dairy foods.

How did she know to specialized there? By walking the aisles in the supermarket.

How many times have you seen a solution right under your nose only to second guess yourself because it’s too “obvious”?

That’s why you need to trust your instinct.

If your gut is telling you to DO IT you need to pay attention because, within seconds, another voice will chime in.

That other voice is the one you mistakenly think of as your more “practical” or “logical” side.

“Well, if cheese for the Latin market is such a great idea, someone else would have thought of it, right”?

The thing is, this so-called “logical” side is usually the far more emotional and fearful side.

If something looks like an opportunity and acts like an opportunity and your heart is saying, “Yes, go there!” then pay attention.

Lesson 4: See Problems as Opportunities

Opportunities often come disguised as problems.

Rather than pull back during the slow economy Ms. Ibanez 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?

If you lost your job, can you use the extra time between job hunting to read a book on marketing or create a small profit center?

If you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up, can you invite a group of friends to dinner and ask them what they think you should “be.”

[Warning: Only invite friends who are entrepreneurially minded… otherwise your brainstorming session will probably lead you back to working in a glorified cubicle.]

Lesson 5: Take Action

Notice Ms. Ibanez did not spend days, weeks, months or years locked in analysis paralysis.

She made a decision, and two days later was in full-blown action mode.

So fast in fact, that the Latino food expert she met at her hairdresser’s on Saturday reported to work in Ms. Ibanez’s home office on Monday!

She didn’t even have time to tell her husband.

Fifteen years later, Amazon announced a partnership with El Latino to offer foods from every country in South and Central America in its Miami deliveries.

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’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning anything.

Will you go from 0 to a million in a weekend?

Not unless you’re doing something illegal. What about a year?

Ms. 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 about seven years before I became an “overnight success!”

If I’d understood these five simple lessons at the outset, I could have cut that time by more than half.

There are lots of ways you can profit from your own passion.

Lots of ways to turn interests into income.

Lots of ways to make money on your own terms.

Lots of ways to go from having a boss to enjoying the freedom and satisfaction of being your OWN boss.

Use all five lessons, and there is no reason why you too can’t get your own entrepreneurial dream in motion in a weekend.

Why waste another moment when you can take the first step creating the life you really want?


Your Dream

When you think summer, you probably think picnics, swimming, outdoor games, and other forms of recreation.

The word recreation literally means to “re-create.”

So what better way to spend your summer than recreating your life!

Here’s how you can use this summer to grow your dream of changing course.

Catch a falling star

When I was a kid, my best friend Elaine and I were always busy building forts or skipping rope.

But we also did plenty of nothing… most often lying under 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.

So take time to gaze upward, look inward, and imagine what could be.

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.

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!

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 my friend Carrie Wilkerson’s The Barefoot Executive or Barbara Winter’s Making a Living Without a Job.

Already have a business idea?

Dive into a book on how to start a business.

Have an idea but don’t know where to begin? You don’t need to because someone else has already figured it out for you.

Just go to Amazon or Google and type in: How to start a [fill in the blank]. Then take this time to read up on that exciting new business.

Still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up?

Barbara Sher’s first book, Wishcraft, is still my favorite.

Know what you love to do, but no clue how to make money doing it?

Treat yourself to a Work at What You Love session with me.

I’m SO confident I can help you that I offer something unheard of in the coaching world – a money back guarantee!

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 going out of town into a “dream fund.”

Then use your savings to take a class, create your website, buy inventory, or otherwise take steps to launch your dream business.

If your dream includes relocating, hit the road by using your vacation as an exciting research expedition.

Summer is also the ideal time to ease into a new job-job

Are you operating in a toxic job environment?

Do you have a crazy long commute or a job that demands crazy long hours?

If you answered yes to either or both questions, then before you can even think about being your own boss, your first step may be to get a new job-job.

With more time and improved well-being, you’ll be better positioned to build your dream job on the side.

Summer is also the perfect time to take a new job.

The reason? With all the overlapping employee 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.

Just because you’re still in a job-job, doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of your dream of being your own boss. In fact, my friend Barbara Sher says to think of your job as your business loan!

The bottom line

Recreating your life is about making choices. And summertime is the perfect time to do it.

What choices are you willing to make to grow your dream?

Whatever you do, have a safe, relaxing, and inspired rest of the summer!


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Flexible Income, Flexible Life Now

The latest digital issue of International Living magazine’s niche publication Incomes Abroad just landed in my email and I immediately thought of you.

The publication is aimed at the growing numbers of people seeking to relocate to a country that offers a more affordable lifestyle and slower pace of living.

Other readers want to be able to work from anywhere in the world.

And still others simply want a way to fund their wanderlust.

In all three cases, the focus is 100 percent on how to make money without a job-job.

Which is why I thought of you.

After all, you don’t need to go to Bali or Barcelona to create a portable profit center.

portable

For you, “portable” might mean being able to work from your home-office or from your laptop in a coffee shop right in your own neighborhood.

In other words, this information-packed resource is for anyone who has a burning desire to create a flexible income… and needs help figuring out how to make it happen.

That’s the other reason I’m SO jazzed about the current issue.

No matter where your interests lie, you’ll find fascinating cases studies into the different ways regular people, just like you, saw a need and turned it into an opportunity.

I guarantee you’ll have at least one AHA moment!

Ideas agreement Investing in business innovation concept and financial commerce backing of creativity as an open lightbulb symbol for funding potential innovative growth prospect through venture capital.

Like I said, I just received this month’s issue and frankly I was blown away. It’s packed with inspiring and informative ways you can make money that don’t require a passport.

But I’ll let managing editor Shane Orman tell you what you can expect:

excerpt-international-living

In case I wasn’t clear, you don’t need to travel one bit in order to get a wealth of information that can help you change course.

But if you do want a flexible income so you can work from anywhere… and you want to be your own boss, then do yourself a huge favor and check out this extremely helpful and ridiculously affordable resource now.

Click here to get your free issue now. You’ll be glad you did!

 


Dilbert Creator Scott Adams Totally Blew Me Off (And I Have His Email to Prove It!)

I remember it like it was yesterday.

On July 14, 1999 I cranked up my dial-up connection to get onto the World Wide Web, excited to hear the now iconic AOL greeting, “You’ve got mail!”

To my amazement I’d received personal response from Scott Adams –creator of the enormously successful syndicated cartoon Dilbert.

In the early ‘90s, headlines were filled with stunning news that corporate giants like AT&T and IBM were laying off workers by the tens of thousands.

Perfect timing for Adams to step in and lampoon the sometimes crazy world of performance reviews, near constant re-organizations, and in his words, “evil pointy-haired” bosses.

It’s also what made 1995 the perfect time to launch the Changing Course newsletter.

I was doing what I loved and some money was following. But not enough to completely break me out of job jail.

If there were some way I could build on the Dilbert brand, I knew it would put Changing Course on the map in a BIG way.

So after reading an article about Adams in Newsweek I reached out to explore the possibilities.

To put it bluntly – he blew me off.

scott adams

I was CRUSHED!

But the line that stuck with me most was the last one…

“You don’t need me anyway.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was he out of his mind?

OF COURSE I NEEDED HIM!

It took a while (okay, years…) but I finally realized Adams was right.

I already had the drive and vision I needed to make my business work.

And so do you.

The fact is, with most ventures you really don’t “need” anyone to endorse you, sponsor you, partner with you, or even believe in you.

However, there are important exceptions.

One of these exceptions takes us right back to Adams’ and my own roots in the corporate world.

There are some things that would take you and me years – if ever – to learn.

Times where we really do need a knowledgeable mentor to show us the way.

For you, that teacher just might be my friend and former corporate executive turned self-bosser Belinda Pruyne.

Belinda

When Belinda first hung up her shingle as a business and leadership coach she tried to put as much distance between herself and the corporate world as possible.

Then one day she had her Big AHA…

There’s still plenty of money to be made in corporate – and you don’t need to be an employee to do it.

Instead, Belinda realized that for a lot of people, turning a large organization into your biggest customer or client can be the absolute best way to truly profit from your passion.

Last week I introduced you to a number of non-corporate types who landed corporate contracts.

Contracts that allow them to both serve more people and make more money doing it – without compromising their values.

Like the photographer who loves photographing babies but couldn’t get enough babies in the pipeline to make it sustainable.

Photographer at work with newborn baby boy

He never knew where his next client was going to come from.

He’s now the photographer for the maternity ward at a huge hospital in New York City. So he’s there to capture all the moments surrounding many of the births in that hospital.

Or the health coach who was tired of trying to convince individuals to sign up as clients who didn’t always understand the value she provided.

Then she noticed that one of her friends from the C-suite in a big company was stressed beyond belief, exhausted, and wasn’t eating well. It gave her an idea…Employee Benefits placard isolated on white

Today, she has contracts with big corporations where she goes in, assesses all the employees in the C-suite, and develops a meal plan for the company chef.

If the company doesn’t have a chef, she creates individual meal plans and sits down with each executive’s assistant to help them support their boss.

She’s just returned from Paris doing this for a company. Before that, she was in Singapore.

Pretty cool right?!

If these people can earn $25k… $50k… $75k… from a single corporate client – then you can find a way to turn your own gifts and interests into a compelling win-win.

Like I said, my newsletter business was pretty straightforward; so I really didn’t need Scott Adams’ – or anyone’s — help.

But when it comes to knowing what it takes to sign a corporate client, you will need someone to show you the way.

That’s why I’m so excited that Belinda has agreed to put on this free online presentation called….

BIG Corporate Connections. BIG Contracts. BIG Cash

3 keys to snag BIG corporate gigs with the matching paychecks
(Even if you don’t know the first thing about the corporate world)
Tuesday, March 22nd at 1pm EST US

If you missed my announcement last week, there’s still time to jump in.

Click here to register BigCorporateConnections.info

In this powerful 1-hour presentation, you’ll learn…

  • How to turn YOUR expertise & services into compelling offers for corporations – without having to twist yourself or conform your beliefs to “fit in.”
  • The #1 secret to “get past the gatekeeper”. (Belinda has a brilliant example of how one outside vendor got past her own secretary back when she used to be the one hiring outside vendors.)
  • How to get decision makers to pay attention and take you seriouslyeven if you have no experience working in corporate yourself!
  • The BIGGEST thing you need to know about corporate decision makers BEFORE you try to connect.

… And more!

Go It Alone or Get Help?

For many of you, getting the answers to these three key questions will be all you need to hit the ground running.

Others will need more guidance.

Looking back, I so appreciate Scott Adams taking time out of his busy schedule to so nicely blow me off.

But what I really appreciate is the reminder that I didn’t need Dilbert to make my newsletter a success.

However, when it comes to corporate contracts, you definitely do want a seasoned corporate insider to at least take you through the basics.

If you’re curious to see how partnering with a large organization might help you profit from your passion in a BIG way – you do not want to miss Belinda’s free presentation Tuesday March 22 (tomorrow) at 1PM EST.

It costs nothing to attend, but you do need to register at BigCorporateConnections.info.


Want to Really Profit from Your Passion? Try This Unconventional Path

Whether you’re in business already – or you’re still trying to figure out how to profit from your passion – the key to making it remains the same:

You have to find people willing to pay you for your product or service.

In other words – you need customers or clients. That’s the obvious part.

Precisely because it IS so obvious, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking in terms of only the most obvious customer or client.

That’s a huge mistake. Because…

If You Really Want to Profit From Your Passion, You Have To Go Beyond The Most Obvious Client or Customer

Let’s look at how taking an unconventional path enabled these three people to profit from their passions.

A photographer who loves photographing babies but couldn’t get enough babies in the pipeline to make it sustainable.

Photographer at work with newborn baby boy

He never knew where his next client was going to come from.

He’s now the photographer for the maternity ward at a huge hospital in New York City. So he’s there to capture all the moments surrounding many of the births in that hospital.

It’s a win for the hospital because it gives expecting parents yet another reason to have their babies with them as opposed to a different hospital.

And he gets more work coming in than he could possibly drum up for himself.

Another great example…

A health coach who was tired of trying to convince individuals to sign up as clients who didn’t always understand the value she provided.

Then she noticed that one of her friends from the C-suite in a big company was stressed beyond belief, exhausted, and wasn’t eating well. It gave her an idea…

Employee Benefits placard isolated on white

Today, she has contracts with big corporations where she goes in, assesses all the employees in the C-suite, and develops a meal plan for the company chef.

If the company doesn’t have a chef, she creates individual meal plans and sits down with each executive’s assistant to help them support their boss.

She’s just returned from Paris doing this for a company. Before that, she was in Singapore.

Yet another example…

A LinkedIn expert who works with people on optimizing their profiles and upping their visibility.

One day, she realized that companies are now doing LinkedIn pages.

But there was a big disconnect between what the company put out versus what their C-suite executives put on their own profiles.

Ostersund, Sweden - August 1, 2015: Linkedin website under a magnifying glass. Linkedin is a business oriented social networking website.

Now, she goes into a company and handles its page, along with all the profiles of its C-level execs. So the company representation is consistent across the board.

In other words, what if you expanded your thinking from selling strictly business to consumer, and explored ways to sell business to business – aka “B2B.”

If you have no idea how to get a corporate contract – or maybe, you see corporations the same way I once did… as big huge mysterious places totally outside of your realm of experience or comfort zone – don’t worry.

Anyone Can Land a Big Contract – IF You Know How

According to Inc. magazine, companies spent 2 trillion dollars last year on outside vendors.

All you have to do to get a piece of these contracts is to package your services and expertise (the exact services and expertise you already have) in a way that shows a corporate decision maker that YOU have their solution.

Don’t worry if you have no clue how to do that.

Because in just a few days, my friend and colleague Belinda Pruyne is going to peel back the curtains and explain all of the above during a free online presentation…Belinda

BIG Corporate Connections. BIG Contracts. BIG Cash

3 Keys to Snag BIG Corporate Gigs With The Matching Paychecks
(Even if you don’t know the first thing about the corporate world)
Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST US
Go to BigCorporateConnections.info now to save your free spot.

Before she took the leap to self-employment, Belinda spent years as a corporate executive herself.

So she knows first-hand that when you’re pursuing BIG (or any!) corporate contracts – there’s 3 things you absolutely need to know…

#1 What you can offer corporate that they’re willing to pay for

Trust me – you DO have something they want. You just have to find it + know how to package it.

#2 The RIGHT way to “get past the gatekeeper”

Doing this the wrong way can ruin your chances of ever getting through to the decision maker.

#3 How to speak with decision makers in a way that’s relevant to them

Anyone can learn how to do this, even if you’ve never worked in corporate yourself and “don’t speak the language.”

Register for this free webinar at BigCorporateConnections.info

Because in this powerful 1-hour event, Belinda is going to show you…

  • How to turn YOUR expertise & services into compelling offers for corporationswithout having to twist yourself or conform your beliefs to “fit in.”
  • The #1 secret to “get past the gatekeeper.” (Belinda has a brilliant example of how one outside vendor actually got past her own secretary back when Belinda used to hire outside vendors for her company.)
  • How to get decision makers to pay attention + take you seriouslyeven if you have no experience working in corporate yourself!
  • The BIGGEST thing you need to know about corporate decision makers BEFORE you try to connect.

… And more!

Ready to get some of Belinda’s insider secrets on landing BIG corporate contracts?

Go to BigCorporateConnections.info to reserve your seat for Belinda’s online presentation Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST.

And see for yourself how landing a single corporate contract could change everything.

P.S. Belinda used to be one of the corporate decision makers who hired outside help.

But now she’s a small business owner that lands corporate contracts of her own.

Because she’s been on both sides of the fence Belinda has a unique advantage when it comes to helping other small business owners and service providers do it too.

If you’re at all curious about the world of corporate contracts, I highly recommend you listen in to what Belinda has to say next Tuesday, March 22nd at 1 PM EST.

RSVP at BigCorporateConnections.info now.


The Shockingly Simple Thing These People Did to Made Their Wildest Dreams Come True

Each of the three people you’re about to meet used a remarkably similar technique to achieve their wildest dreams.

This technique costs nothing to use.

And it takes no more than a few minutes a day to do.

In fact, you’ll be able to use this technique for yourself immediately after finishing this article.

All you have to do is take out a piece of paper and a pen right now. Trust me –you’ll be glad you did.

The Lou Holtz Technique

Lou Holtz is one of college football’s winningest coaches of all time.

He has coached teams at the Universities of Minnesota, South Carolina and Arkansas.

But he’s most associated with a long string of victories and championships at Notre Dame.

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 24: Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the NCAA Football game against the USC Trojans on November 24, 2012 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

In his book, Winning Everyday: The Game Plan for Success, Holtz describes a turning point in his life.

In 1966 his wife was eight months pregnant with their third child, and they’d just used every cent of their savings for a down payment on a house.

Holtz was an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina when he lost his job.

After being unemployed for over a month, he described his savings account as being down to four figures: $10.95.

It was a difficult time for Lou.

His wife took a job as an X-ray technician to keep food on the table while he looked for another coaching job.

She also bought him The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.

In his chapter on goals, Schwartz says if you’re bored with your life, it’s probably because you have forgotten your dreams.

He encouraged readers to get back in touch with their dreams by making a list of everything they had ever wanted to accomplish.

Lou divided his list into five categories of things he wanted to accomplish:

  • as a husband and father
  • spiritually
  • professionally
  • financially
  • simply for excitement

It was this last category, “simply for excitement,” where he let his imagination run wild.

He wanted to do things like land a jet fighter on an aircraft carrier, jump out of an airplane and go on an African safari.

Also on his bucket list were things like…

  • attend a White House dinner with the President
  • meet the Pope
  • be a guest on the Tonight Show with then-host Johnny Carson
  • be the head coach at Notre Dame

South facade and South lawn of the White House in Washington DC in spring colors

Pretty lofty stuff when you consider Holtz was not the least bit famous at the time.

Over the years Holtz chipped away at his goals. And today he and his wife have achieved 102 of the original 107 goals – including the big ones!

The Scott Adams Approach

Former cubicle dweller Scott Adams is the creator of the enormously popular Dilbert cartoon.

The syndicated cartoon lampoons the corporate world and inept “pointy-headed” bosses.

Well before Adams made it big he’d read about a technique that also involved committing goals to writing.

But unlike Holtz’s lengthy bucket list, this one focused on one goal at a time.

First you visualize the outcome you want. Then you write it down fifteen times in a row every day until it happens.

It worked for Adams in the stock market and again when he passed his graduate school qualifying exam at the exact percentile he wrote down (94th).

Then There’s Me

I heard about Adams’ technique in 1998.

At that point I’d been publishing the Changing Course Newsletter for three years. I was making steady progress. But hardly enough to support me.

Fortunately, a couple of local newspapers profiled the newsletter as did the more far-reaching Boston Globe.

But I was shooting higher.

So I decided to give Adams’ technique a whirl.

Mimicking his exact phrasing, I wrote:

“I, Valerie Young, am going to be in The Wall Street Journal.”

Within weeks two reporters called me. Where do you think they were both from?

Yup. The Wall Street Journal!

Bangkok Thailand APRIL 20 2014: Photo of The Wall Street Journal Monitor homepage on a monitor screen through a magnifying glass.

 

I’m honored to say I did get into the WSJ. There was just one “tiny” problem…

The reporter never mentioned my newsletter!

That’s when I remembered something Lily Tomlin’s bag lady character said in Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe:

“When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.”

So the next time I got specific writing 15 times a day: “The Changing Course newsletter will be in The Wall Street Journal.”

Guess what?!

A year later Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenberger once again interviewed me for an article titled, The Tomorrow Trap: You Can’t Postpone Life. (Although Sue wrote this article 17 years ago, its message about not deferring our dreams is as apt now as it was then.)

My point is — Adam’s technique worked!

Why It Works 

There is nothing mystical or magical about writing down your goals.

The technique works, in part, because the process of committing something to writing makes it feel real – and therefore doable.

A phenomenon Adams spoke to in his best-selling book The Dilbert Future:

I used the affirmations again many times, each time with unlikely success. So much so that by 1988, when I decided I wanted to become a famous syndicated cartoonist, it actually felt like a modest goal.

The odds of becoming a successful syndicated cartoonist are about 10,000 to 1. I knew the odds, but figured they didn’t apply to me.

When I submitted my samples by mail to the major cartoon syndicates, I had a feeling of being exactly where I needed to be and doing exactly what I needed to do. I never once doubted it would work out the way it has.

Writing down his goals had a similar confidence-building effect on Lou Holtz.

Concept of woman hands with pen writing on notebook

So much so that before signing a coaching contract at the University of Minnesota, Holtz insisted on a clause that would allow him to leave at any time if offered the head coaching job at Notre Dame.

That day came two years later.

“From the moment we made that list,” says Holtz, “we became participants rather than spectators in life.”

Writing down your goals can definitely put you on the path to achieving them.

Unfortunately, you may still struggle with those inner voices that say things like…

“I don’t know enough.”

“I have no experience.”

And of course, “Who do you think you are?”

If confidence is holding you back, I’m working on a new program called 5 Weeks to Confidence for people just like you.

The program won’t be ready for a month or so… but if you want a heads up when it’s open, click below and I’ll give you a shout.

5WeeksButtonv2

We’ll talk about the action part of goal setting in another post.

For now I invite you to stop right now to think about a present goal.

Next get out your paper and pen and fill in the blanks:  “I, [name], am going to [goal]”?

Then every day, write it another 14 times until it happens.

For some instant accountability — why not post it here?

Who knows… a fellow Changing Course reader just may be able to help!

 


Super Simple Ways to Test Your Idea

You have a great idea for a small business. Or for a workshop or a book or a website.

Now what?

Contrary to what you might think, the next step isn’t to dive into the deep end of the pool.

After all, there’s a reason why I named my business ChangingCourse.com and not Jump-Off-a-Cliff.com.

Fear aside, jumping in without adequate information is just… well… dumb.

Especially when there are simple ways to test the waters. Here are four ways to do just that.

Do small product tests

Sometimes the thing you need to test is the idea itself.

Which is exactly what cycling enthusiast Robin Bylenga did – to great success.

When the single mother of three was laid off from her job at L’Oreal she took a job at a local bike shop.

It was there Robin got the idea to create a bike shopping experience aimed at the female market.

To test the concept, she bought $5oo of women’s biking apparel to sell at a local race.

When she turned that into $1,500 in sales Robin knew she was on to something.

Closeup of three bright colored city urban woman bikes tires row outdoors in the park

Today Robin is the owner of Pedal Chic with stores in Nashville, Tennessee and Greenville, South Carolina.

The same advice applies in other markets. For instance, want to go into import export?

Experienced importers will tell you not to invest in a cargo container full of inventory before you know how it will sell.

Instead return home with just enough to fill a couple of suitcases to test both products and price.

Take advantage of free market research

Even when you know a specific business is viable, you still need to test it in the marketplace.

And you can do it without spending a dime.

For example, in the late 70s I launched a line of humorous greeting cards.

In addition to selling locally, I got them into bookstores in New York City, San Francisco, Hartford, Conn., and Provincetown, Mass.

But before I invested thousands in printing, I created a feedback form and had friends rank each idea on a scale of 1-5.

Awesome added on top of a customer evaluation form with red pen ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Even if someone loved a given card, I always asked the question: How can I make it even better?

Social media didn’t exist back then. Today you can easily poll your Facebook pals.

You don’t have scores of available friends on or off-line to get free input. I do it all the time!

Say you want to run workshops or write a book…

Or you’re can’t decide on a domain name.

Just do what I do and turn to the person sitting next to you on a plane, train, bus, café – wherever – and ask them.

When I do this, it sounds like this:

Excuse me, can I get a quick opinion on something?

(Who doesn’t want to give their opinion! Especially when it’s quick!)

If you saw these three headlines/book titles/business names on a magazine cover or online – which would you pick/click on?

If a majority of people choose one over the other – go with it.

Work for someone else in a similar business

You could start a sports camp or launch a clothing line and figure it out as you go.

Or you could first get a job working at a sports camp or for a clothing designer.

Working in a similar business offers an invaluable insiders perspective.

Best of all, if you do decide to go out on your own, you just got paid to learn!

That’s what long time Changing Course reader Kristi Kelley did.

Here’s how Kristi says working for someone else rapidly accelerated her entrepreneurial journey:

In 2013 I quit my corporate job and went to work for a local, very well respected floral and events company here in Dallas.

I started as a contract employee helping on a “as needed” basis in their wedding and events department.

After about 3 months, I got accepted into their floral design apprentice program which was supposed to last 12 weeks.

Then after 7 weeks they said I was ready and sent me to their retail shop as a designer there.

I worked at the shop for about 9 months before I quit on good terms to start my own business.

Colorful flowers isolated on a white background

Kristi was not asked to sign a non-compete clause. However, depending on the business, you may be asked to do so.

Today Kristi is the proud owner of Stem and Style.

She’s working from home, already has several regular corporate clients, and Kristi says she couldn’t be happier!

Volunteer

A few years ago I had a chance encounter Steve Curwood.

Steve is the host of an engaging environmental news and information program called Living on Earth heard on over 300 Public Radio International (PRI) stations.

Lone Wolf howling in cold winter environment. ** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

(Right now they show is featuring fascinating research on when wolves howl.)

I immediately had the same question you should have when you meet someone doing something unique or interesting– namely:

What does it take to [fill in the blank]?

Obviously, in this case I wanted to know how a person goes about getting a show on PRI?

Steve’s advice was simple:

Before you try to pitch an idea, first volunteer at your local station to learn first-hand how public radio works.

This same advice holds true for many situations.

You may not be able to volunteer full time.

But you can find time to volunteer if even for a few days or weeks – enough to understand how things really work from the inside.

Testing out your idea helps you answer all sorts of burning questions – like:

  • Will it work?
  • Will people pay me for it — and if so, how much?
  • If it does work, will I like doing it?
  • If so, what will it take to get where I want to go?

So, what are you waiting for? Test!

Add Your Two Cents With the Changing Course Tribe

Your thoughts mean a lot to me.

More importantly, what you have to say can help inspire the other 27,000 change seekers who’ve received this article.

So, what did you just learn or re-learn?

What thoughts, ideas, or experiences on this topic can you share with your fellow change seekers?

What’s one way you can use what you just learned to help you change course?

We’d love to hear from you!


How to Live the B&B Life Without Owning One

When you work with as many change seekers as I do, you begin to see some common self-employment dreams.

One is the classic bed and breakfast fantasy.

When I ask these clients what they love about owning a B&B, they often say things like…

“I’d love to pick out furnishings and decorate all the rooms…”

Or, “I’d love to go out to the garden to pick fresh herbs for the cook to use in the special omelet of the day…”

Or, “I’d love to welcome and chat with all the interesting guests.”

Once the guests check out, my clients picture themselves sitting by the fireplace with a good book… or puttering in the perennial garden while the housekeepers tidy up.

Utter bliss.

There’s just one problem.

As many B&B owners have discovered, this familiar B&B fantasy turned out to be a nightmare when realized too late that they don’t have the capital to hire people to do the cooking, cleaning, and office work.

Instead they’ve become a combination cook/chamber maid/bookkeeper/front desk clerk!

To be clear: There are wonderful things about running a B & B.

If you’re a natural host who genuinely enjoys meeting new people and making them feel at home…

Or, if you love rising early to prepare a scrumptious breakfast, then go for it!

Still there are several ways you can get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking.

This first one is also perfect if you want to live the B&B owner lifestyle but have neither the funds or the desire to actually own one.

Become a B&B Sitter

Just as 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 Interiminnkeepers.net match B&B owners in the US with experienced relief workers.

Some like Jill Britt have run their own B&B in the past and are looking to channel their experience by offering sitting and other services including consulting with start-ups.

Others, like Kari and Rick Willis are retirees from other careers and up for a new adventure.

Take a Class

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.

No classes in your area? Then 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.

Or for $125-$199 (slightly more for couples) BB Team offers one-day seminars as well as more intensive (and higher-priced) weekend training programs in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Maine, and elsewhere.

If you’re ready to take the B&B plunge in a big way – or if like me, you just L-O-V-E looking at real estate – check out BB Team’s listings of fabulous B&Bs for sale. (For more affordable options, check the “lifestyle” box.)

Look, every line work, no matter how interesting it may be, will always have aspects that are less than glamorous. Mine included.

The key is to check out how wide the expanse between fantasy and reality really is, before you take the leap.

So what’s your fantasy business? Post it below.

Then keep your eyes out for the next issue when we explore other ways to test your idea before you change course!

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Elliott

Do you have a great idea but no clue how to make enough (or any) money doing it?

Or are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you “grow up”?           


Then again, do you love so many things that you never seem to act on any of them?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, I invite you to join me and a community of like-minded souls from around the world to discover how you too can…

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Click on the heart to learn how.


Did He Really Just Say That?!

Adapted from Yes You Can: The Inspirational Kick in the Pants You Need to Take Control of Your Life and Go After Your Dreams

As my nephew Jason prepared to begin his first year of college, his thoughts naturally turned to potential careers. “What would you really love to do?” I asked.

Jason thought for a moment before replying, “I’d just like to have a job I don’t hate too much.”

Did he really just say that?

After a little auntie-to-nephew pep talk about the importance of shooting higher than “one notch above misery,” we got to talking about his great love of baseball.

When I suggested he look into an internship at the minor league baseball stadium just 10 miles up the road, it was clear I’d tapped a Big Dream.

It takes not one ounce of energy more to dream big than it does to settle.

Settling is the emotional equivalent of idling at a red light.

doorfield

A Big Dream, though, is like soul fuel to your inner engine. A Big Dream jump-starts real change.

I received an email from a guy named Jerry Bennett – a 50-year-old airline employee who, in his words, “dreads” going to work.

His real life’s pleasure, is carpentry. Jerry writes…

“Whether it’s building a house, cabinets or whatever, I get lost in the project. I can sit for hours and watch [the PBS program] This Old House.”

Adding, “So many people are trapped in jobs they only tolerate. I guess the fear of failure is our biggest problem, I know it is mine.”

I could practically hear the sigh on the other end of the modem as Jerry ended with a wistful, “Wish I could get the courage to make the change.”

Something in Jerry’s message told me fear wasn’t the whole problem. Part of Jerry’s “stuckness” came from the fact that he was wishing rather than dreaming.

Wishing is passive.

We wish for things over which we are powerless.

We wish we’d win the lottery, that we were taller, that the waiter would hurry up.

Oftentimes wishes are tinged with regret as in, “I wish I’d…”

Dreaming is different.

Dreams are active. They invite possibilities. You can see a dream.

I have a dream

That’s why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t say, “I have a wish.…” Dr. King knew that dreams are visual, positive – and contagious!

Jerry is pretty lucky really.

Lots of people don’t have the foggiest idea what it is they’d love to do. Here’s a guy who’s plugged into his passion and yet is letting something as natural – and manageable – as fear stand in the way of vocational heaven on earth.

The first thing I did was to remind Jerry of what he should really be afraid of, namely, spending the next 15 years dreading his work.

Next, I suggested some steps he might take to turn his passion into his livelihood like: teaching carpentry classes, writing a how-to-build-it column for the local newspaper, creating his own television segment featuring improvements he’s made to area homes (This Old Carpenter?).

None of these ideas would require Jerry to quit his full-time job right away. Each, however, has the potential to nudge his dream to the next level.

To my surprise, the idea that most intrigued Jerry was also the one most would consider to be a Big Dream – the local television show.

When he told me about a friend with a passion for video production who he could enlist to launch a joint venture, I knew Jerry just upgraded his wish to a dream.

“I am ready to start following my dreams…” he wrote. Adding, “I sure want to go out doing something I enjoy.”

That same week I had the pleasure of talking to a man with a wonderfully Big Dream. Lynn Johnson lives in his hometown of Erie, Penn.

His old neighborhood, he said, has changed a lot. What really concerns him is how few positive outlets there are for the young people there.

Lynn’s goal is to turn a boarded-up house into a multi-faceted arts program for kids.

street” complete with murals and community gardens.

As Lynn talked, a clear picture of a young people’s arts street came into view.

Girl Painting

My mind raced ahead to corporate sponsors from Mellon Bank to Burpee Seeds.

If Lynn could make me see his vision, he could make the corporate grantors see it too.

I even pictured Lynn proudly showing off his “arts street” on Oprah!

When he said he’d traveled to the capital to look into sources of state funding and has a friend who may go in with him on buying the house, I was hooked.

“If you really want this dream badly enough,” I told Lynn, “there is no doubt in my mind it will happen.”

By the long pause on other end I think he was a little taken aback by such a strong vote of confidence from a complete stranger.

But the reason I believed in Lynn was simple. It wasn’t just his passion for his community or his clear vision of how it might be different.

I believed that Lynn’s Big Dream would succeed because by taking action he’d set his dream in motion. And once a dream gets rolling it’s hard to stop.

What about your dream? Maybe all you really know is you need to make a change. That’s ok.

The important thing is to bump “make change” up a few notches and dream BIG.

Think big concept is on blue paper with a red marker aside.

If you dream of working at home, imagine doing it on an island or on a mountain top.

If you have multiple passions, picture being able to enjoy them all.

You may not get everything you want, but one thing is certain: you’ve got a lot more to lose by shooting low than you do by shooting high.

A year has come and gone. Next year will be here before we know it.

Where in your dream-building process do you want to be this time next year?

No further along?

Laying a foundation?

Living it fully?

If you opted for either of the last two options, expand your dream and reach for the stars.

Then, one day at a time, honor your dream with action.

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Join Me This February For

A Powerful Virtual
Weekend Workshop

This is your chance to...

  • Discover your calling… so you can have the life you were meant to live

  • Learn the powerful secrets for how to get paid to do what you love – even if you’re a “scanner”

  • Step out of your routine and into your wildest dreams where you can get a new perspective on where you want to be this time next year

  • Learn from someone who built two six-figure businesses working from home what it really takes to live life on your own terms

  • Burst into Monday recharged, with the action plan you need to create the more balanced and rewarding lifestyle you’ve only dreamed of

Over the years, hundreds of freedom seekers just like you have attend the Work @ What You Love workshop. But not everyone was able to make it.

In the past, people have paid anywhere from $299 to $3,999 to attend one of my multi-day workshops – and that didn’t include the cost of travel!

That’s why one of my BIG dreams has been to offer an affordable option for anyone who didn’t have either the time or the money (or both) to attend a live event.

No Brainer

Technology to the rescue!

Now for a limited time, you can experience the contagious energy of attending a live 2-day Work @ What You Love webinar workshop – at 94% less than the cost of my high-end retreats!

In fact, the super low Early Bird price makes saying YES to your dream truly a “no brainer.”

Plus, register for Work @ What You Love in the next 72 hours – and you’ll receive a FREE gift!

Click here now to discover how easy it is to live life on purpose, work at what you love, and follow your own road.

 


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Praise

A New Direction

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

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

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