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 first person that comes along (and we all have had times when we’ve done that and regretted it later), this is a perfect opportunity to clarify what you need from various service providers and make sure you’re getting it.

If you’re ready to add to your support team, start interviewing potential candidates.

° Simplify, simplify. Been meaning to clean out your closets and pass things along to a charity shop? Get your office in shipshape? These are time-consuming tasks that aren’t very glamorous, but the psychic rewards are huge.

Get out some trash bags, put on some upbeat music and have at it. Get rid of the junk in the junk drawer. Weed your library. Update your filing system. Clean out your mailbox. It’s as liberating as losing twenty pounds.

° Up your wellness. Use this extra time to walk or workout. Get a massage or facial. Read up on nutrition. Experiment with new healthier foods that take time to prepare. Start meditating again. Plan a stress reduction program.

Work these things into your schedule now and you’re more apt to keep up with them when your busier times return.

° Volunteer. Pass your gift of time along to someone else by helping out. Why not volunteer at your kids’ school or at a local food bank or shelter? You could even instigate a project of your own and get friends involved.

If you live in a major metro area in the US and are needing ideas, go to www.volunteermatch.com which lists a wide variety of projects in search of help.

° Learn something new. Build some brain cells with a class or seminar. Add to your computer skills, start learning a new language, take up salsa dancing.

Use this time to saturate yourself in a new subject that catches your fancy.

° Finish things. Okay, not everyone has unfinished projects gathering dust, but chances are there’s an article you started writing or a home improvement project that got bogged down and abandoned because it didn’t seem urgent.

Imagine if all those loose ends were tied up before you plunge back into your business. It would feel great, wouldn’t it?

° Take a mini-sabbatical. Got a stack of books you’ve been wanting to read? Been meaning to visit a historic site that involves a road trip? Need to refresh your creative spirit? Plan some purposeful time away.

Borrow a friend’s cottage. Rent a motor home. Don’t check your messages. A change of scenery may be just what you need to recharge your batteries and come up with some fresh insights.

° Invest sweat equity in a long-term project. Been putting something off because it will require lots of hours to get to completion? This could be the time to start putting in those hours to get it launched.

Since most of us flourish when working on new projects, getting started has the added bonus of re-energizing other more familiar things.

° Host an Idea Night potluck. Invite four or five other positive self-bowsers to share food and ideas with each other. Make sure that everyone gets equal time and that all ideas get a hearing.

Idea Parties are more successful if you lay down the ground rule that arguing or discounting ideas is strictly forbidden. Guests go home with an inventory of potential ideas which they can evaluate later.

° Expand your visibility. Write a press release. Have a new photo taken. Start a blog. Get yourself interviewed on a local radio show. Revamp your website. All this seed planting takes time and is easy to overlook when you’re busy.

Why not do it now and see what doors might open?


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 their Joyfully Jobless Journey who are no seeing results, not making progress, not finding the time or resources or ideas they need to create the life of their dreams.
I can’t begin to count the number of wonderful ideas I’ve heard over the years that are orphaned, abandoned by neglect.
Then there are the excuses:
When I have more time…
When I have more money…
When I know exactly what to do…
When I’m sure this is the best idea in the history of the world…
You know that none of that works. In the words of Colin Powell, “A good idea will not become a reality until it has a champion.”
Join me at Small, Sassy & Successful and become the champion of your own good ideas. In this 9-hour idea fest, you’ll gather a toolbox full of techniques for improving every corner of your enterprise.
We’ll be rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. You’ll get:
Time away from distractions
Time to focus on the things you most want to make happen
An inspirational environment
Support and expert guidance
If you’re ready to stop looking for formulas and ready to grow the ideas you have or acquire
some new approaches, make plans now to attend. Quite simply, you won’t be leaving with a plan about what you should do. You’ll be leaving with tools that make it possible (and fun) to do what you want to do.
Is Small, Sassy & Successful for you? It is if you:
See business as a creative outlet for your passions
Want to have a business that’s as unique as you are
Are feeling a little stuck
Believe that fun is fundamental
Love connecting with other small business creators

Want to come?
This is a small group, interactive experience and enrollment is limited. If this sounds like a great way to spend an evening and a day, don’t miss out. You can join me at Small, Sassy & Successful at Spectrum Center, Houston, TX, June 1 & 2  by registering at www.joyfullyjoblessweekend.com.

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 the pros and cons she said, “I have noticed that when I’m anxious about money and start skimping, I never have any money. When I’m relaxed about it, I always have enough.”

I believe that’s true for everyone, whether we know it as well as Margaret does or not. This Wealth-as-a-State-of-Mind attitude is not an easy thing to master in a world that often speaks loudly about scarcity and impoverishment. In fact, most people are unaware that their thinking influences their sense of wealth or lack — far more than their bank balance does.

Years ago when I was living in Santa Barbara, I went out one day to begin my Christmas shopping. Although I seldom carried much cash, that day I had more of it with me than usual.

From the moment I got downtown, I began to experience anxiety. Everyone looked like a potential mugger. The distress was so intense that I went home without buying anything.

Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had a deep belief about money that went, “If I have money, people will harm me.” I decided that I needed to change my belief and, also, discover what other thoughts had kept me from enjoying financial ease.

I began reading Catherine Ponder’s Dynamic Laws of Prosperity every day. I was also greatly helped by the writings of Sondra Ray. One of her suggestions was to start carrying a large bill, eventually working up to $100.

The purpose, she explained, was that every time you spent money and saw the large bill in your wallet you’d be sending a powerful message to your subconscious which was, “I have plenty. I have a surplus of money.”

Within months, I went from seeing the world as full of muggers to carrying large amounts of money with ease. It felt like a huge victory over an old adversary.

Since money is a source of so much upheaval, each of us needs to thoughtfully examine our own attitudes and beliefs and create the healthiest approach we can muster. Going along with unchallenged ideas about money, old scripts from our parents, will not do the trick.

Getting smarter about money is a starting point, but taking a creative approach can also be a big help. You might begin by creating miscellaneous income sources. Creating odd income sources can be as good for your imagination as it is for your pocketbook.

A friend of mine who lives on a busy street holds regular yard sales whenever he wants to generate additional cash flow. He stores boxes of things, all priced and ready to go, in his basement. He keeps adding to his inventory and when the weather is nice, sets up tables and spends the day selling his bargains to motorists who stop to investigate.

Look for new ways of doing things using the resources you have. The more fun you can create with what you have, the more you’ll get.

Most importantly, be willing to invest time and money in yourself. When you invest in yourself, you’re making the most valuable expenditure of your life. The ups and downs of the economy will have no effect on an investment in yourself. You’ll trust that you know how to insure that there’s always enough.

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 a lifetime.

This sad notion about work is still wildly prevalent. A new book, Dying for a Paycheck, explores the hazards caused by the peril facing job holders today.

What a contrast that is to this observation from Frances Mayes about her life after leaving her college teaching job and becoming a writer who shares her passion for living in Italy. In Every Day in Tuscany she writes, “I rifle through my four project boxes, dreaming of several books I will write…Work like this feels like play.

“From living in Italy and seeing how people live and love, I saw that play is something you don’t always know you’ve lost in daily life. So much energy poured into my job.

“Leftover time seemed full of a lesser reward: enjoyment. But not play, the exuberant rush of fun that comes naturally to Italians. At home, many of the activities I planned for fun seemed like summer reruns.

“Learning from another culture is one of those mysterious movements of the psyche. I think you learn what you need to unlearn.”

I think unlearning is a huge part of the joyfully jobless journey. We don’t even realize how much of our employee mindset we’re still carrying around. Unlearning was certainly on my agenda.

As Frances Mayes discovered, “Writing is play. You choose a subject and set out to learn and think as much s you can about it. Then you get to let your imagination loose in the arena.”

Sounds to me like the perfect way to build a business, too. That’s precisely what we’ll be doing in my upcoming Small, Sassy & Successful seminars

If you’d like to collaborate and bring this fun learning adventure to your part of the world, I still have time available later this year. Feel free to let me know you’re interested and we’ll explore the possibilities. Email me at barbara@joyfullyjobless.com.

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 keeping my business human-scaled and giving passion a higher priority than profit.

When I began some twenty years ago, I found it impossible to find any information that didn’t assume all entrepreneurs wanted to create a gigantic enterprise.

Did I really want a building with my name in six-foot high gold letters? A board of directors? Stockholders? Employees? Pension plans?

None of that appealed to me and for a brief moment, I thought I’d gotten on the wrong train.

But I had a hunch that it was possible to create a livelihood that was both satisfying and profitable. And I have. Thank you for showing your readers that small is still beautiful.


If I were writing that letter today, it would say the same thing. My passion for small scale enterprise has never waned. That’s why I’m so eager to share what I’ve learned in my upcoming event, Small, Sassy & Successful.

And if you share my passion for creating a business that uses your imagination more and your pocketbook less, please join me. I’ll be sharing my very best discoveries for building a business that fits you perfectly.




In Living Out Loud,  Keri Smith’s a fun book of creative exercises, she writes, “In recent years lifestyle stores have become the rage selling products related to all aspects of living, eating, decorating, bathing, sleeping and dressing.

“If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?”

Here’s how I answered that question.

The first thing you notice when you walk up the stone path to the sprawling English cottage that houses Cottage Industry is that the front yard is a luscious garden where flowers and vegetables grow side by side.

Pass under the rose-covered archway and you’ll enter a large room that resembles a comfy old library. You’ll be greeted by the faint smell of nag champs incense and soft music.

There are shelves of books and inviting chairs for browsing. Each corner has a different subject:
there are personal growth books in the Taking Care of the Boss corner, and eclectic mix of favorite authors in the Kindred Spirits corner.

In another are helpful books for Making a Living Without a Job and in the fourth corner  you’ll find books to Feed Your Wanderlust.

Vintage travel posters hang on the walls and favorite quotes are painted over the doorways.

Shelves in the center of the shop hold a collection of tools for creative entrepreneurs. You’ll find arty file folders, kaleidoscopes and framed quotations to add to the decor in your own World Headquarters.

But Cottage Industry isn’t just about stuff. It’s also about stuff happening. Walk toward the back and you’ll enter a glass conservatory known as The Idea Room overlooking another garden. Tea and coffee and treats are served in this room that invites gathering to brainstorm ideas.

Another large room to the left, known as the Follow Through Center, serves as a perfect setting for classes and coaching. 

I like to think of Cottage Industry as a spa for your imagination.

Do you have any idea how much fun that was for me to write? Try it for yourself. As Smith urges, “”Make a list of what it would contain. Draw pictures of what it would look like. What items best represent you? Come up with a name for your store.”

Feel free to rave about your store in the comment section below.

As I was reclining at the end of my recent blood donation, a young nurse came to tidy things up. We began chatting and she asked me a few questions about myself.

I told her that I was self-employed, did seminars and (almost as an after thought) said, “Oh, and I wrote a book called Making a Living Without a Job.”

The moment I said that, she got tears in her eyes. “You were sent to me,” she said softly. She regained her composure and told me how she dreamed of quitting her job and traveling.

I grabbed one of my cards and promptly wrote the book title on the back. “I think this will help,” I told her.

I left the blood bank marveling, once again, how often the opportunity to be of service comes in ways and places we’ve never anticipated.

A few days later, I posted this on Facebook:

As I’ve been crocheting scarves for the homeless, I keep thinking about how I’ll never know who the recipients are.

Today I realized that writing is very much the same. We send it out and have no idea who it will impact. That’s a good enough reason to keep creating and sending it out.

That elicited a reply from Dyan deNapoli, also known as The Penguin Lady. She wrote:

“It’s so true, Barbara! Just last week, I received a lovely note from a college student who had read my book about the penguin rescue when it came out 7 years ago, and was so moved by the story that she decided to become a marine biologist!

“She’ll graduate college in 2019, and wanted to thank me for inspiring her to follow this path. Did I get a little weepy when I read her letter? You bet I did!!

“It’s a big part of why I do what I do. And when someone takes the time to let you know how you’ve influenced them, it truly means so much.”

So this is just a little reminder to keep creating because you never know where you’ll be sent to solve a problem or inspire someone else’s dream.

As writer Annie Dillard points out, “The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it’s destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.”

Keep sharing and trust that someone somewhere is looking for exactly what you have to offer.

If you arrived at the end of the holidays last year saying, “Thank goodness that’s over,” you might decide to take a different approach this year. Although the holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration, many of us find it the most stressful, even depressing, time of the year.

Since the holidays will go on with or without your participation, why not make them the happiest, warmest time possible? 

Begin by giving yourself a gift or two.

Here are some ideas for extra special gift-giving that will eliminate the hassle and expand the pleasure in the busy weeks ahead.

° Give yourself the gift of plenty of time. The sooner you begin to organize your activities, the more relaxed you’ll stay. Start by spending an evening making a list of everything you’ll have to do. Make a list of ways to save time such as shopping off-hours or online.

Set deadlines for activities and put them on your calendar.

° Give yourself the gift of saying no. Part of the overwhelming feeling that comes with the holidays is thinking we have to accept every invitation, bake every cookie from scratch, and run ourselves ragged in the process.

Decide to say no to all the activities that don’t add pleasure. Keep “Less is More” as your motto. Your holidays will be more special if you go for quality, not quantity.

° Give yourself the gift of simplicity. The less complex you can make things, the more time and energy you’ll have to enjoy this season.

Pick one knockout outfit and wear it over and over again to parties. Simplify your shopping by having a theme or giving the same gift to several people.

° Give yourself the gift of extra pampering. Pay more attention to soothing activities like a long, leisurely soak in the tub. Pamper yourself, too, by watching what you eat and drink.

Your nutritional well-being may dissolve when faced with a Yuletide dessert table. Moderation is your friend.

° Give yourself the gift of a new tradition. You may carry around warm memories of holidays in the past and your current reality doesn’t match up. Your holidays will be more wonderful if you create some new traditions for yourself.

If you are far from family, plan a celebration that includes others in the same situation. Or plan a celebration unlike any you’ve ever had. Last year, my sisters, brother, brother-in-law and I spent the week of Christmas in San Miguel de Allende Mexico. It bore little resemblance to our usual holiday, but it was every bit as wonderful.

° Give yourself the gift of hired help. Many enterprising folks start service businesses to help around the holidays.

For a reasonable fee you can get assistance with party-giving, shopping, errand running. If you normally clean your own house, splurge on a cleaning service.

Don’t add to your stress by trying to do everything yourself.

° Give yourself the gift of laughter. If you want this year to be merry and bright, keep your sense of humor.

When things go wrong or not according to plan, don’t forget to keep laughing. Joy, delight and wonder show up when we make an effort to welcome them.

Determine now that you will, indeed, make this the best holiday season ever. Relax, smile and enjoy all the giving and receiving that comes with this time of year. You’ll give yourself and the people you love a holiday season that they’ll remember fondly for years.

Recently a Facebook friend inquired about self-help books and wondered if others found them helpful. There were comments on both sides of the answer.

It got me thinking about this short piece I wrote some time ago.


When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development there weren’t many titles to choose from. I read The Power of Positive Thinking, Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking over and over.

That’s all changed, of course, and today there are thousands of self-help titles. I always have a title or two in my current reading pile since there’s so much to learn.

However, the self-help movement has spawned plenty of dropouts. Why don’t all readers find this genre helpful? Here are some thoughts on that.

° Refuse to abandon skepticism. Hanging on to cherished beliefs is a guaranteed way to prevent growth. “I tried that positive thinking stuff once. Didn’t work,” is the motto of the self-help dropout.

Simply reading a single book (except, perhaps, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield) is not going to produce visible change. It’s more a process of chipping away at limiting thoughts and behaviors that have taken hold over the years.

° Exercises are too much trouble. Most of us think of reading as zooming from the beginning to the end of a book.

Self-help books invite us to slow down and take a slower journey. Exercises are like rest stops along the way, causing us to pause, reflect and apply.

° Right book at the wrong time. Personal growth is an evolutionary process and we expand our receptiveness one concept at a time.

Sometimes a book arrives ahead of our readiness. When that happens, don’t abandon self-help. Try a different book.

° Miss the point. As Henry David Thoreau said, “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

When I was growing up, my incessant questions were often dismissed with a reminder that curiosity killed the cat. The message, intended or not, was that shrinking was preferable to exploring. This repeated warning has an impact that goes far beyond the deceased cat.

The death of curiosity is the beginning of a lackluster life. Without curiosity we avoid challenges, growth and new experiences. Our world gets smaller and smaller as our fears grow bigger and bigger.

According to researchers, curiosity is more important than intelligence. In fact, there’s nothing silly about it. Here are some easy ways to keep feeding yours.

° Pick a theme and do a photo essay. With everyone running around with a digital camera in their hands these days, it’s never been easier.

Why not create a story in pictures? How about photographing the evolution of your business? Or portraits of people who have made a difference in your life? You might even end up with a new product.

° Lighten up. Curiosity doesn’t do well in a cluttered environment. Taking a load of stuff to the thrift store or donating books to the library are great stress relievers—and open up space for curiosity to come alive.

Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t express the latest version of you. As you’re sorting through the things that fill your life, keep asking questions about what fits and what has outlived its usefulness.

° Make creative cross training a regular activity. When Georgia Makitalo began doing mosaic work, she discovered that her writing output increased as well.

Anything that stimulates your creative spirit will have a multiplying effect.

Yet it’s easy to let fear and self-doubt keep us from venturing into unknown territory. Get over it.

° Go on a Curious Excursion. You don’t have to go far, but it’s useful if you go someplace new. Of course, museums are perfect for such an exploration, but so is a large hardware store.

° Earn money in a new way. It’s as good for your confidence as it is for your bank account to expand your moneymaking repertoire.

At the beginning, the amount of money isn’t nearly as important as the experience.

It’s about building an Option Bank.

° Feather your nest. Even in a place where you’ve lived for a long time, nesting can be a creative opportunity.

I love Thomas Moore’s observation: “The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

° Adopt something. Whether it’s a cause, an orphaned animal or a fledgling entrepreneur, give yourself to something or someone that needs your support and live.

You’ll both be better for it.