One of my favorite exercises in The Popcorn Report is the Universal Screen Test. As author Faith Popcorn explains, this is a simple way of taking an idea and holding it up against the major trends.

Is the idea of making a living without a job, for instance, riding the horse in the direction the horse is going? Let’s look.

Cashing Out: Absolutely. The movement  away from working for large corporations and doing work that is satisfying—even if less lucrative—is the wave of the future.

Cocooning: Right on-trend again. Creating a homebased business gives us more time in our own cocoons.

Down-Aging: There are many aspects to this trend including a sense of playfulness. Down-agers want a sense of fun about their work and will ignore ideas about retirement age. On trend here, too.

Egonomics: What could be a more personal statement than creating work that’s an extension of who you are and what you care about? Pass again.

Fantasy Adventure: Our new desire to test the unknown in ways that are safe but exciting makes stepping out on our own a perfect way to live our dreams. We take the prompting of our imagination seriously.  On trend.

99 Lives: Regaining control of our time and lives leads us to self-bossing as a partial solution. Multiple roles might be part of self-employment, but the pace will be less frantic. A+ on this one.

S.O.S.: What better way to put your own values, passions and social concerns into action. Yes, to this trend.

Small Indulgences: Every successful entrepreneur learns the value and joy of rewarding themself in small ways. This trend could also suggest many product ideas.

Staying Alive: Knowing what we do about job-related, stress-induced illnesses, how could any health conscious person NOT work for themself? Major on-trend.

The Vigilante Consumer: Changing the way things are done sometimes involves doing it yourself. Some vigilantes will discover their most effective weapon is being an honest businessperson. This ethic will spill over into the way we all run our enterprises.

According to my calculations, self-bossing receives a perfect 10! Way to go Joyfully Jobless trendsetters.

On the back cover of Tools of Titans, there’s a list of some of the folks Tim Ferris includes. All of them seem to have qualified because of big numbers.     Reading that list brought to mind something that still puzzles me.     For some time now, I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who winces at the frequent admonition to Go Big or Go Home. That sounds more threatening than inspiring to me. Why, I muse, would folks smart enough to abandon a huge soulless working environment want to replicate that?     And why, oh […] Continue Reading…

When I drive the 40 miles or so to Ventura, much of the trip takes me through an agricultural area. There are vineyards and fields bursting with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The road is also lined with produce stands run by farm families. It’s a lovely contrast to the big city environment of Los Angels.

One October trip was especially memorable. In the springtime, this drive reminds me of Ireland because the craggy hills are so lush and green. Right now they’re festooned in shades of beige and brown, but it’s still a pleasant drive.

The road goes through an […] Continue Reading…

During the days when I taught high school English, I would never have assigned a book that I hadn’t read myself.  That carried over into my self-employment journey where I vowed to only recommend things I’d found worthwhile

That showed up in other ways as well. I decided to treat my business as a laboratory where I would experiment, test ideas, pay close attention to what worked—and what didn’t. I vowed to never teach what I hadn’t learned myself.

What I didn’t know back at the beginning was that the learning would never end. My curiosity never went on vacation.

There have […] Continue Reading…

Trendspotters agree that the market for unique and customized items is having a resurgence as more and more of us are learning to cherish the work of human hands.
Not all artisans are taking advantage of the opportunities, however.
Several years ago, I met a man who was a masterful carpenter who loved restoring old houses, flawlessly repairing woodwork and cabinetry.  At that time, he had abandoned his craft believing that no market existed for his services.
He had bought the myth of the starving artist and was living proof.
Happily, that myth is becoming outmoded as artisans are carving out […] Continue Reading…

Every business has times that are less busy than others. You can use this time to fret and worry that your entrepreneurial life has come to an end—or you can view it as a gift of time to do some of those things you’ve been telling yourself you’ll do when you have time.

It just makes sense, it seems to me, to spend this time wisely and well.

Here are a few possibilities.

° Review and revise your support system. Is it time to hire a virtual assistant? Find a new tax accountant? Get expert advice?

Unless you’re will to settle for the […] Continue Reading…

 
Blessed are the curious for they
shall have adventures.
Lovell Drachman
Small, Sassy & Successful
Time Out to Build a Better, not Just Bigger, Business
Got an idea but you don’t know where to take it?
Think your business is ready to move to the next step?
Are you sitting on the next big thing?
Have an idea that’s suffering from neglect?
If you said “yes” to any of those questions, it’s time to roundup your good idea, take them to a roomful of creative thinkers, and see where they want to go next.
Barbara Winter here. I’ve been fretting lately about a frustration I’ve seen in folks on […] Continue Reading…

Coco Chanel, who said a lot of smart things, once observed, “There are people who have money and people who are rich.” It’s not hard to figure out which is which.

The people whom I think of as rich are those who have a practical prosperity consciousness. My sister Margaret is such a person. I have long admired her ability to use whatever resources she has to the max.

When we were in a pottery shop in Sienna, Italy, Margaret was captivated by a beautiful plate. We left the shop to contemplate making such a hefty purchase and as she considered […] Continue Reading…

During my brief stint as an employment counselor, I spent all day every day talking to people about jobs. It wasn’t usually a cheerful conversation.

Not only did most of these folks arrive at the Employment Service in a state of frustration, they seldom had any idea about what kind of job they wanted. “I’ll take anything,” is the career plan of the desperate.

Like so many of us, these folks considered work a necessary evil. In this perspective, a job was the price you paid to get the money you needed to buy the stuff you wanted. And it lasted […] Continue Reading…

When I was digging around in my office this morning, I came across an old scrapbook that I hadn’t viewed in years. It was filled with memories of places I’d been and people I’d spent time with about twenty years ago.

One of my favorite discoveries was a letter I’d written to the editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine. I’ll let it speak for itself. I wrote:

As a one-person business and self-employment advocate, I was delighted to see the cover story on “Making It Small” in your July issue. Like the people spotlighted in your article, I am ferociously devoted to […] Continue Reading…