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  • A Few of the Books I Loved This year

    This is the time when I traditionally pick my favorite title of the year. Looking back on 2008 (and my sagging bookshelves) I see that I had many new favorites in the past months. This is just a sampling of books that stayed with me long after I finished reading them. It was only a few weeks [...]
  • Stop the Madness

      Entrepreneur is a perfectly lovely word that can be roughly translated from two French words meaning to undertake. So what’s fueling all these made-up variations? Here are some of the ones that I’ve seen: Infopreneur Mompreneur Seniorpreneur Kidpreneur Telepreneur Micropreneur [...]
  • Lessons From a Four Year Old

    In her short life, my granddaughter Zoe has played soccer, studied Spanish and taken swim and dance lessons. She's also amassed an impressive library, traveled enthusiastically, hosted parties and is a whiz at doing jigsaw puzzles. When I visit, she and I usually prepare at least one meal [...]
  • IdeaStarter #18 More Ways to Find Good Ideas

    Ever since Marcia Yudkin has been sending out her weekly Marketing Minute, I've looked forward to each one. She always comes up with suggestions that are both creative and practical. When the following article arrived in my mailbox last week, I knew I wanted to pass it along since it is a great [...]
  • A Few Thoughts on Health Insurance

    Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question I hear is, “What about health insurance?” While I understand why it comes up so often, it shouldn’t be the first concern when starting a business. We all know that the health insurance industry has gotten out of control and even large [...]
  • Planetkeeping Enterprises

    Helping others get clutter under control is, it would appear, an opportunity whose time has come. The motivations for leading a less cluttered life are varied. Some people hope that more order will lead to increased serenity and efficiency; the environmentally conscious are motivated by [...]
  • Teaching from Experience: How to Get Started

    It's been 18 years since I first began teaching adults and I still find it an invigorating and profitable experience. Teaching adults has taken me all over the country and abroad, given me visibility in my community, brought interesting new people into my life, and led to the publication of my [...]
  • Running a Tidy Ship

    Albert Einstein once pointed out that everything should be made as simple as possible — but no simpler. This certainly can be applied to any business that wants to keep its equilibrium. For most entrepreneurs, that requires constant vigilance since a business can become complicated and [...]
  • Establish Yourself as an Expert

    What is the difference between a book that becomes a bestseller and one that doesn't? Why is Julia Child a household name and your Aunt Ruth, a fabulous gourmet, known only to her household? Why is someone else becoming rich and famous doing what you can do even better? As the Information Age [...]
  • A Habitat Guide for Lifelong Learners

    Sometimes it's fun to learn something new just for the sake of learning; at other times, that learning leads to a new profit center. Wherever your learning path takes you, the important thing to remember is that learning is one of the best uses of time ever invented. Where do you begin? Here [...]
  • A Field Guide to Genus Entrepreneurus

    Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~ Jane Howard One of the major obstacles to successful self-employment is not having a circle of entrepreneurial friends. When I point that out in Making a Living [...]
  • It’s About Time

    My local tv news just featured a booming business called Vegas Errands. The owner is a young woman who responded to an ad on Craigslist, and ended up starting her own service business. As the story reported, business is booming. That didn’t surprise me. Asked whether they would rather [...]
  • Ideas from Everywhere: Roundup Week 3

    This past week, the Ideafest focused on the importance of inspiration. Not  surprisingly, all sorts of inspiring things kept popping up including this e-mail from Julie Fewster who lives in Northwich, Cheshire UK: I took a look at Inspiration Station  earlier this month, when after a joyful [...]
  • Zen and the Art of Growing a Business

    One New Year’s Day during my daughter’s college years, she called to  tell me about her celebration the night before. “The party I thought was going to be fun wasn’t,” Jennie said, “and the one I thought was  going to be boring was terrific.” “What a great metaphor,” I replied.  “Oh, Mom,” [...]
  • Consistent Effort Leads to Consistent Visibility

    How do you become a household name? The simple answer: by relentlessly getting your message out, by generating publicity for yourself, by finding new ways to package information. While this can be a time-consuming activity, having a monthly goal can keep you moving forward. Here are some [...]
  • IdeaStarter#3 Sharpen Your Focus

    To put your goalsetting and entrepreneurial efforts on—track and keep them there—begin by giving your year a theme. It could be a single word or a phrase that becomes your motto. Either way, it will help you gain clarity and focus. When planning your time or making a decision, a quick check [...]
  • IdeaStarter #13 Yes We Can

    Although I’ve lived through numerous Inauguration Days in my life, I don’t recall any previous ceremony generating the kind of excitement that today's celebration has. Even the ramp up to this day has been filled with incredible enthusiasm. Rick Steves flew from Seattle to DC yesterday and [...]
  • The Power of Practice

    My brother Jim lives in California and is an avid surfer. He’s also 62 years old. One day we were talking on the phone and he said,  “I was driving to the beach yesterday morning and it was still dark. I was thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” “You’re doing it so you can have a lively old age,” I [...]
  • IdeaStarter #6 Create a Garden for Your Mind

    Look up from the computer you’re reading this on. What do you see? Reminders of places that inspire you? Books worth rereading? Does it matter? You probably know what I think the answer is to that last question—and I'm not alone in thinking that it matters a great deal. In 1883 Claude Monet [...]
  • Two Merchants of Venice

    Even though I haven’t had much personal contact with Venetian entrepreneurs, there are two I will never forget. Claudio is the owner of a small hotel I stayed in on a visit a few years ago. One morning he and I had a long visit about his hotel (a Rick Steves recommendation) and what his life [...]
  • IdeaStarter #15 Refuse to Have Boring Problems

    During the bleakest time of my life, my neighbor John stopped by to see how I was doing. Relieved that someone cared about me (I told you this was bleak), I rattled off a lengthy list of my latest woes. When I finished, John put his arm around my shoulder, smiled at me and said, “Barbara, [...]
  • Why Self-help Books Don’t Help

    When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development, there weren't many titles to choose from. Today there are thousands. I always have a self-help book or two in my current reading pile because there's so much to learn. However, the self-help movement has spawned plenty [...]
  • Package What You Know

    In my scrapbook is a page of Making a Living Without a Job memorabilia that I’ve titled “The Class That Became a Business.” Indeed, it was only after people repeatedly said, “I’d love to be doing what you do,” that I began to realize there was an opportunity to share what I had learned. [...]
  • Cheap Tricks: Marketing On A Shoestring

    Very few people start a business because they love marketing. And yet, without marketing it's unlikely that a business will succeed. Whether you're a webmaster or window washer, an artist or an accountant, you know that success is dependent upon securing business and that attracting and [...]
  • IdeaStarter #14 Put Out the Welcome Mat

      The 16th century essayist Montaigne put it well when he advised, “If you’re going to withdraw into yourself, first prepare yourself a welcome.” While I suspect he was talking about becoming introspective, his advice stands up if you’re going run a solo business and/or live an idea-filled [...]
  • Multiple Passions, Multiple Profits

    There are so many selves in everybody and to explore and exploit just one is wrong, dead wrong, for the creative process. ~ James Dickey Steven Kalas is a family counselor with a lively practice. He also plays in a band that’s been busy promoting their new CD, but I know Kalas for a [...]
  • E-mail Worth Reading

    After we opened our gifts last Christmas, my daughter said, “I was going to give you a Blackberry, but I didn’t want to feed your e-mail addiction.” Although I protested that it wasn’t that bad, she had evidence to the contrary. What Jennie doesn’t understand is that my e-mail is usually full [...]
  • Inspiration Galore

    Inspiring people were turning up everywhere this week. The January/February issue of Ode magazine arrived with its cover story called 25 Intelligent Optimists Who Are Creating a Better Tomorrow Today. Most of the people profiled aren't famous, but they're sincerely making a difference. If you [...]
  • Why I Will Never Have a Job

    Almost everyone who chooses to become self-employed faces a barrage of questions from dreambashers and skeptics. The most popular question is, "How can you give up your security?" I am tempted to say, "You mean a puny little health insurance policy and two weeks' vacation?" There are [...]
  • Keeping it Lively in Austin

    Last Saturday I flew to Austin, TX to visit my daughter and her family in their new hometown. Before we went to their house, I got the mini-tour. When I commented on all the people we saw who were running, walking or bicycling, Jennie said, “This town isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about doing [...]