I was busily working on my book revisions when a call came in on Skype from my daughter.  Jennie called to ask me to settle a mother/daughter dispute. It seems that Jennie had told 4 1/2 year old Zoe that when she was a little girl she’d made books and went door to door selling them to our neighbors. Zoe loved the idea and promptly recognized a hot business opportunity right on her street. It was also a natural for this pint-sized artist. Jennie wasn’t comfortable with the idea, being new in the neighborhood and all. 

I listened to both sides (although Zoe was more whiney than persuasive) of the story, then suggested to Zoe that she sell to people she already knew. “I’d buy one,” I said. “How much is it?”

Zoe perked right up. “Zero dollars,” she said.

I suggested she rethink her pricing. We finally decided that $3.00 would be the right price. “I bet Margaret and Jim and Becky would each buy one, too,” I said, committing my siblings who didn’t even know about this fabulous product we were envisioning. 

Then I asked Zoe if she took checks or credit cards, or if this was a cash only business. Jennie chimed in and said they weren’t set up for credit card sales. I said  that was not a problem and I’d tuck $3.00 into Zoe’s Valentine.

Then Jennie asked, “Would you like to have it mailed or would you prefer to wait and pick it up when you visit us in a couple of weeks?” I said I’d be happy to wait. “Oh, Zoe,” she said, “she’s saving you shipping and handling.” Zoe broke into a big grin as if I’d done her a huge favor. She went off to begin production.

So here’s what Zoe learned that timid people ten times her age haven’t figured out yet. In order to start a business, all you need to do is:

1) find a product/service you love

2) then find your first customer

Now you’re in business. Period. Begun. Open. Then just do it again. And again.


Zoe’s too young for teleclassses, of course, (and she gets free consulting from Grandma Vegas whenever she wants) but you’re probably just the right age.  Want to learn  how to generate a steady stream of good ideas? Join Alice Barry and me for Better Than Brainstorming on Wednesday, February 18, 8-9:30 PM Eastern. 

The following week, I’m on my own for Outsmarting Resistance (which Zoe wouldn’t need yet) on Monday,  February 23, followed by I Hate Marketing on Wednesday, February 25. Both teleclasses are at 8-9:30 PM Eastern.

No matter if you’re a newcomer or seasoned veteran of the Joyfully Jobless life, your marketing can get a big boost if you stay alert to media opportunities. One easy way to put yourself in the path of opportunity is via a free service called Help Out a Reporter. Three times a day, the energetic Peter Shankman sends a listing of a dozen or more story requests from reporters and freelancers in search of potential interviewees. It only takes a minute to scan the list (which is organized by subject area) and you never know when you might be a perfect match—and suddenly find yourself catapulted into the national spotlight. 

Here’s a recent post which could also be an opportunity for you to enter your business into StartupNation’s upcoming contest. Here’s the scoop:

 Summary: Need Innovative biz that takes place in a house

Category: Business & Finance

Name: Rich Sloan

Email: kathleen@bordersgratehouse.com

Title: Founder, Editor in Chief

Media Outlet/Publication: StartupNation

Anonymous? No

Specific Geographic Region? No


Deadline: 6:00 PM PACIFIC – September 30


“StartupNation is looking for innovative non-office businesses
across a variety of categories. If you know of an innovative
business that deserves recognition entries are being accepted until
midnight Pacific Time on September 30, 2008 at
http://www.startupnation.com/homebased100/enter. Winners will be
judged by StartupNation and a panel of judges who are each
passionate about non-office business and the Top Ten categories
highlighted in this years competition. Winners of the non-office
100 find themselves at the center of a media storm that includes
recognition on national and local TV, radio, in newspapers and
magazines, and on some of the largest, most influential websites on
the web, MSN and StartupNation among them. “

Be sure to let me know if you win!