After an out-of-town seminar trip, I found myself on an airport shuttle with a young man who asked me where I’d been and what I had been doing on my trip.

When I briefly explained that I taught seminars on creative self-employment, he said, “I’d like to work for myself, but my company gives me great benefits.”

Apparently  I was feeling a bit sassy  that morning. ”My company gives me great benefits, too,” I smiled. “In fact, my  business sends me to Europe whenever I want to go.”

What kind of benefits do you get from your company? My self-employed friends would list things like not having to drive in commuter traffic, being able to work in an office with a well-stocked kitchen nearby or having their cat in their lap as they work. But there’s no need to stop there.

One of the overlooked rewards of working for yourself is the opportunity to create the kinds of benefits that you truly desire. In addition to the ordinary things like health insurance and time off, here are five more perks worth considering.

 * A massage therapist who makes housecalls. Having your massage at home eliminates the stress of driving when it’s over and saves your time, too.

A friend of mine, has her massage therapist come late in the evening so she can go straight to bed for a night of extra sound sleep. Besides that, it’s a little luxury to have your own in-home therapist.

* A medical savings account. Although they’ve been around for a while, HSAs haven’t been particularly  well-publicized.

Essentially, an HSA allows you to put money into a special account to pay out of pocket medical expenses. This money is not taxed, however, and can rollover. Ask your insurance provider if they can help you establish such an account.

* A techie friend who knows more than you do. Actually, I have a team of such friends who patiently coax me into learning new things or answer my questions when I’m stumped.

On the afternoon when I thought I had erased everything in my hard drive, one of them dropped everything and came to my home office to restore order. Everyone needs such a willing friend.

* An accountant who understands small business. It might seem sexy to hire a large accounting firm, but don’t do it if you’re a one-person business.

People trained to handle corporate affairs won’t understand what you’re up to. Instead find an accountant who works from home or from a very small office—one who is self-employed.

* A diary and a photo album. Journals are great for exploring thoughts and ideas, but a diary is a factual running record of your life.

If you can find an old-fashioned 5-year diary and write in it faithfully, you’ll have an on-going account of your growth. It’s also fun to look back at the same date a year or two ago and see what you were doing.

Likewise, a photo album that chronicles your entrepreneurial life will become a treasured reminder of how far you’ve come.

You might expect a former poet laureate to specialize in melancholy—not to be as funny as a stand-up comedian, but Billy Collins is a funny man who writes poems that appeal even to those who proclaim they don’t like poetry. He may be the only poet whose appearances regularly fill auditoriums.

What Collins has done (wittingly or otherwise) is to employ a powerful marketing tool that for want of a better name I’ll call Just Show Up.

Actually, there is a little more to it than that; let’s call it  Just Show Up With Your Best Self in Tow. Letting people know the person behind your logo is the intention here.

One night when I was channel surfing and stumbled upon a program called Chihuly Over Venice. I knew nothing about Dale Chihuly and even less about how glass art is produced, but by the end of the program I was determined to see as much of his work in person as I possibly could.

Since then, I have made Chihuly pilgrimages to Tacoma, Seattle, Las Vegas, London, Madison, San Francisco and Minneapolis. He, too, makes frequent appearances on public television and at openings of showings of his art.

A born teacher, Chihuly also understands that creativity is creativity, wherever it shows up. He says, “A lot of creativity has to do with energy, confidence and focus. These are the elements for making creative things. It’s probably the same thing whether you’re making a movie, whether you’re an entrepreneur doing business, whether you’re an artist, or whether you’re a gardener or a cook. These are all the same qualities that it takes.”

Susan Harrow is a media coach and public relations specialist who tells aspiring authors, “The most important thing to a publisher is your presence. Good writing can be bought, but publishers want the truth of you connecting to people.”

I’m guessing that many are surprised to hear that an author’s presence gets such high marks, but I had two publishers make offers after attending one of my seminars in New York and determining that I was media ready.

If you understand how important this is, you’ll waste no time hiding out. In fact, you’ll look for ways to make it easy for people to find you.

“Somewhere someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer,” says Louise Hay. Our presence—showing up and being seen—is a marketing tool that should not be overlooked.

You’re a singular production and what you bring to your business will be uniquely and utterly yours alone. Knowing that will give you the added bonus of having more empathy and curiosity for other people.

Reveling in their uniqueness is how successful artists approach their art and how artistic entrepreneurs approach their business.

Or as Julia Cameron so eloquently reminds us, “ Since each of us is one-of-a-kind, the market, for all its supposed predictability, is actually vulnerable to falling in love with any of us at any time.”

But first you’ve got to show up.

This month I’m going to be a bit more erratic than usual in posting to this blog, but I do want to encourage you to liven things up in your own part of the world.

Even though I no longer live in a place with dramatic seasonal changes, I still find myself thinking of certain activities that seem to go with certain times of the year. Since spring is busting out all over, it’s a perfect time to spruce up your business as well.

Let’s start with some simple ways to spread the word by using your imagination more and your pocketbook less.

“Too much money, not too little, is a bigger problem for most small businesses,” says Paul Hawken. “In a business, money does not create anything at all, much less ideas and initiative. Money goes where those qualities already are. Money follows, it does not lead.”

Here are a few ways to pump up the initiative.

° Create attention-getting devices. Your business name, tagline, or vehicle call all get you noticed for the right reasons. If you need inspiration, study how the Geek Squad did it.

° Adopt a protégé. Since we learn best by teaching, what better way to sharpen your skills than by helping someone else? The satisfaction of encouraging and supporting someone else’s success is immeasurable.

Ask any teacher who’s had a student go on to do great things.

° Become a media darling. Radio, tv and Internet programs are always on the hunt for interesting people to interview. So are local newspapers. Be one.

Don’t just think of this as a way to promote yourself, however. Offer useful information to the audience. You never know who’s listening.

° Join forces with a bookstore. A friend and I once spent an evening at a local bookstore listening to two women who were feng shui consultants. Although they were not authors themselves, the store had publicized their talk. A nearby table display was piled with the store’s inventory of books on the subject.

Another variation of this came from a career coach who did a reading list of books for career changes printed on her letterhead. The list was placed on a display table at the bookstore along with the recommended titles.

° Add a personal touch. In this noisy, often indifferent world, looking for memorable ways to distinguish yourself can make a huge difference. Use your photo on brochures and your Website, have a trademark color, do something that nobody else is doing…like sending handwritten thank you notes.

° Show up on stage. Give talks to local groups, volunteer to be part of a panel discussion at a conference. You may not get paid for these gigs, but you’ll be creating connections.

° Participate in community events. A dogsitting business expanded their visibility and customer base by marching in a local parade wearing t-shirts emblazoned with their business name.

You might donate a prize to a local fundraiser, volunteer for a community project, talk to a local high school on career day. Opportunities exist whether you live in a small town or large urban area. Look for them.

After all the wonderful discussions at Saturday’s Un-Job Fair, I got thinking about this post from a few months back and decided it was worth another visit.

All sorts of folks are blogging about whether it’s too dangerous to start a business during our current economic challenges. Some of them have lengthy arguments against taking such a radical step.

I’m not sure where they’re getting their advice, but the Joyfully Jobless folks in my life are some of the calmest people around. After all, they’ve already demonstrated that they can bring an idea to life, understand multiple profit centers and consider themselves to be wonderfully flexible.

So what do the people who are doing it say?

A perfect example of what I’m talking about came via an e-mail message from Lisa Sellman, owner of Aloha Pet Care. She wrote:

I was just watching a little of the news about our poor economic times and how anyone could be ready for a lay off at any second. The expert in the field suggested that everyone get their contacts together because as one firm lays off another firm could be hiring. So even if your company looks good, any minute your life could change.

It was a story completely fear based. I kept waiting for the news to encourage people to start their own business and create their own destiny but not a word about that.

I am so glad that I started my own business four years ago and I am completely secure with my clients. Even in this economic times, my clients still completely need my services.

My new pet portrait business is going extremely well and I had my first art show two weeks ago and I am working on my comissions currently. Also, I have another art show on the 22nd of November as well as one in January.

It is very exciting to create my future and to feel safe and secure knowing that no one can take this away from me.

Thank you, Barbara, for encouraging entrepreneurs everywhere. Entrepreneurs Unite!

Entrepreneur Tom Breitling wrote a brilliant piece called The Art of Entrepreneurship. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever read about what it really means to ben an entrepreneur.

He says that a good idea is recession-proof. How come? “Entrepreneurial minds don’t stop thinking creatively just because the economy is hurting. This is when creative minds focus.”

(When you have a moment, do read his entire piece. You may want to print it out and save it.)

Seth Godin, the most popular business blogger on Earth, had a piece called Looking for a Reason to Hide. He ended his piece by saying, “Inc. magazine reports that a huge percentage of companies in this year’s Inc. 500 were founded within months of 9/11. Talk about uncertain times. But uncertain times, frozen liquidity, political change and poor astrological forecasts (not to mention chicken entrails) all lead to less competition, more available talent and a do-or-die attitude that causes real change to happen.

If I wasn’t already running my own business, today is the day I’d start one.”

Person who says it cannot be done must not interrupt person already doing it. ~ Chinese Proverb