In the past several weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time with John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books which is a terrific collection of ideas and resources. Of course, I’ve been through this before so it’s not unmarked territory for me.

 When Making a Living Without a Job came out originally, I wasn’t nearly so experienced. Much of the promotion was spearheaded the first time around by Gilly, my Bantam publicist. This time, I have a publicist, too, but I’m generating a lot of promotion myself.

 Last week I recalled a valuable lesson I learned when I was a new author. I was contacted by a public relations firm in Minneapolis that specialized in author promotions. I talked to one of their agents on the phone who then sent me their brochure and price list. Although they promised spectacular results, I was not at all convinced to use their services.

 Months later, I sat down and totaled up what Gilly and I had done and then, using the pr agent’s price list, totaled what it would have cost to have them do the same work. Any guesses? My low-end estimate was $20,000. Obviously, our sweat equity was valuable.

 Sweat equity is an old real estate term describing an investment of time. Sweat equity is the capital of the DIY movement and it’s equally popular with small business startups. In fact, when I look at the stories of some of my favorite businesses—Ben & Jerry’s comes to mind—sweat equity is a recurring theme.

Derek Sivers is a case in point. The founder of CD Baby, Sivers has gone on to other endeavors, but credits his willingness to invest time for much of his ultimate success. In fact, he blogged about it and said, “I can’t remember anything in my last 20 years of running my own business that really felt like hard work! Was it hard work finding band members, scheduling rehearsals, or trying to book gigs in the college market? Not really. It felt like an extension of the creative process of making music. Was it hard work answering thousands of CD Baby e-mails myself for the first few years? Not really. It was good to hear what people were thinking, what problems they were having, and felt great to solve them all.I could see how these things would seem like hard work, but when it’s your company or you’re so filled with love for what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work.”

 Of course, sweat equity isn’t just about saving money: it’s also a way to master every aspect of your enterprise. In order for that to happen, you must believe that investing your time and energy is worth the effort.

 If you do decide it’s worthwhile, you’ll be in good company. As Seth Godin points out, “Bootstrappers built this country, and they continue to make it great. Virtually every business—from IBM to the local dry cleaner—was bootstrapped, usually by people with far less smarts, less money, fewer connections and less  vision than you have right now.”

So get busy. The sooner you invest, the sooner you’ll be seeing a return.

 

During her freshman year in college, I got a call from my distraught daughter. She’d just heard from her bank and discovered she had an enormous overdraft fee. “Do you keep a balance in your checkbook?” I asked.

 

“What’s that?” she shot back. 

 

“Oh, dear,” I said, “something else I forgot to teach you.”

 

It’s a common mistake to assume that everyone else knows the same things we do. It’s not just our children that are missing useful information, however. Chances are you know all sorts of things that would be helpful to others, but it doesn’t occur to you to share what seems ordinary. I’ve always thought that the real genius of Martha Stewart is her assumption that everyday living things are not common knowledge. 

 

Sometimes we also need to be reminded of things we already know, but are neglecting. I thought of that recently when I was bemoaning the disappearance of independent adult ed programs around the country. For years, these folks were my favorite business partners and I held my seminars almost exclusively with them. It was a perfect match: they were small businessowners sharing ideas and information in their communities at a reasonable price. 

 

As the Internet became a convenient go-to source, enrollments in these programs began to go down. Printing costs for their catalogs continued to go up. Eventually, many owners decided the time had passed to run their operations and they closed up shop.

 

I’m not sure it had to happen, but I think we who were involved all failed to remind people of something most of them already knew. That huge advantage that adult ed had over the Internet is this: something happens in a roomful of other people exploring the same subject that goes beyond simply getting information. That’s a dynamic that can’t exist any other way. 

 

We must not assume that no matter how good our product or service is that it will market itself. We must not assume that everyone already knows how great our offerings are. And as entrepreneurs, we must not assume that what we learned about careers will translate into our joyfully jobless journey.

 

In his blog post, The Hierarchy of Success, Seth Godin points out that we almost never talk about the most essential things. He writes, “As far as I’m concerned, the most important of all, the top of the hierarchy is attitude. Why are you doing this at all? What’s your bias in dealing with people and problems?”

 

Obvious, isn’t it?

 

 

A great personal library is one of the best investments you can make—providing you read and learn from the contents of the books that line your shelves. Here are half a dozen that are loaded with advice, information and inspiration.

Good Business by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi take the principles from his bestselling book Flow and examines how creative thinking and values are being integrated into businesses large and small.

Small is the New Big by Seth Godin gathers blog posts from this prolific innovative thinker. It’s a delightful hodgepodge of good ideas plus plenty of real life examples of small business doing things in creative ways.

The Big Moo, edited by Seth Godin, is a collection of essays by thirty top creative entrepreneurial thinkers. A perfect book to carry and read in waiting rooms or airports.

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki. Loads of good ideas on a wide range of entrepreneurial subjects including innovating, communicating and doing good.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons make a convincing case for learning to communicate through story and then shows you how.

The Small Business Bible by Steven D. Strauss is the reference book to keep close at hand. It will answer questions you didn’t even know you had.

Some of the treasures I found this week will require a bit of your time, but they are all a good investment.

How could I resist sharing Chris Elliott’s Top Five Travel Fears? If you’re into metaphors, think about their equivalent in taking the Joyfully Jobless Journey. 

This  video has been making the rounds this week and it deserves to be seen. I first heard about it from Peter Shankman who said, “Imagine if HARO didn’t exist, because I wasn’t an entrepreneur, and I didn’t take risks. Because I didn’t have the idea, or the courage to start it. Imagine a world where no one did. Don’t let that happen. What’s your idea?” Watch this video, then pass it on.

Sometimes we need a reminder of things that we know, but are overlookiing. Steve Strauss’ Small Business Advice From Mom  does just that.  

Intimated by Twitter? Given up trying to figure it out or why it would be a good thing for you and your business? You’re not alone in your frustration. Those who love it (like me) have gone through the Four Stages of a Typical Twitter User. Take a look and maybe you’ll be inspired to give it another shot.  

Finally, this excursion takes a little longer (20 minutes more or less), but it’s so worth it. Hear what Seth Godin has to say about The Power of Tribes.  

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.  If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change.  Only then will you know what the sea is all about. ~ Sterling Hayden

My weekend excursion includes a return visit to Colorado Free University in Denver followed by a quick trip to Austin to visit my grandchildren. My artistic granddaughter Zoe and I are going to see if we can locate the Chihuly glass sculpture at the Austin Museum of Art.

Even though I’ve been under the weather for the past 10 days, I’ve rounded up some terrific resources to add to your Joyfully Jobless tool kit. Check these out.

If you haven’t met Chris Guillebeau yet, here’s a great way to get to know him. You can get his new manifesto called 279 Days to Overnight Success for, as Zoe says, zero dollars. Here’s what you’ll learn:

• How I Became a Full-Time Writer in 279 Days

• The Complete Revenue Estimate for my Personal Site in 2009

• The World Domination Strategy for Establishing Your Brand

• Avoiding the Vampires who Want You to Fail

• Why Adsense (and most other Web Advertising) Sucks

• How to Stay Off the Digg Home Page and Still Get All the Traffic You 

Got wanderlust? Then you’ve got to read Christopher Elliott’s Secret to an Endless Vacation. It’s full of great advice for entrepreneurial gypsies.

Has there ever been a better time to be a career coach? Whether by choice or by chance,thousands of  people are reevaluating their choices, looking for new opportunities. If you’d like to help others find their calling, I highly recommend that you learn how to do just that from Valerie Young. Her Outside the Job Box consulting program is terrific and will help you launch a new business while helping others change course.

Seth Godin shares the secret of the new marketing. Good stuff, as always, from Seth.

Do you Twitter? If not, why not? When I came across Katherine Goldstein’s article, Twitiquette:The 5 Biggest Twitter Faux Pas, I thought she really nailed it. If you’re using this fun networking site, avoid these common annoyances.

April 15th is one of those landmark dates that’s not a holiday. I was thinking about it this year and wondering how many people would find themselves in pretty much the same situation when April 15 rolls around again next year. 

There’s one group of people who I’m certain will be making visible progress long before that ominous day. The folks who are coming to Follow Through Camp on May 15 & 16 in Dodge City, KS are going to leave with a saddlebag full of tools and a new focus and plan. There’s still room for a few more folks and if you would like to be one of them, sign up now. 

Ever think about taking a sabbatical? Here are some entrepreneurs who did just that.

Another great story from someone making the transition from employee to entrepreneur:

For more years than I care to count, I’ve dreamed of owning my own business.  I suffered an injury in 2007 and was off work for an extended period of time.  I spent a lot of that time thinking and exploring the possibility of starting my own business.  I also happened upon a description of a class you were offering in Upper Arlington, Ohio.  I promptly signed my husband and myself up for that class.

I found your class so amazing and inspiring.  I immediately read your book, signed up for your newsletter, and started doing my homework.  Doubt got in the way.  My injury healed as much as it would and I ultimately returned to my regular job….but I’ve never stopped thinking, planning, dreaming, and hoping.  A few months ago, while thinking about one of my potential business ideas, I decided to take the leap and mention it to my husband.  He was 100% supportive!  That gave me the courage to “take the plunge”.

So, I am proud to share with you that I am starting a homemade dog treat business called Jade Clare’s Canine Cookies & Treats.  I will be debuting and selling my products at a local farmer’s market this summer.  I have had so much fun applying for the market, researching laws pertaining to vendors, playing with cookie recipes, designing my display, etc.  I’m working my butt off (as I’m still employed at a traditional job as well) but loving every minute of it!!!!  This is a part-time gig right now but the sky’s the limit!  The endless possibilities make me feel so liberated and hopeful about my future.

Thank you.  Thank you for teaching, inspiring, encouraging, and empowering me for the last two years!

Sincerely,

Ann Marie Wiley

New Albany, Ohio


Connecting with people who share the same passions affirms that you’re not alone; that there are others like you and that while many might not understand your passion, some do. ~ Ken Robinson

Earlier this year, the Las Vegas Sun ran a brilliant piece by Tom Breitling which began, “The economic news is relentless. Home foreclosures. Teetering mortgage companies. Tottering airlines. Brands that once rode high are going bankrupt. Job losses. Dangerous levels of public and private debt. If we’re not in a recession, there’s no denying that our economy does not feel good, which means this is not the time to be paralyzed in front of the TV. Look at the world in a new way, and build value for the future. Which, the way I see it, means it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.”

I thought of that yesterday when I was recording a podcast and was asked about self-employment in turbulent economic times. I responded to the question by saying that the people who will come through this chaotic period most gracefully are those who are creative problem-solvers, who are flexible, who are willing to be frugal when it’s called for, who are wise enough to know that every  difficult situation also contains opportunities. I went on to say—which I’m sure will come as no surprise— that the people best fitting that definition are entrepreneurial thinkers and doers. 

It also is obvious to me that those who are going to experience the least upheaval are those who run lean operations. I’m not the only one who embraces the Small is Beautiful business model, of course. One of my favorite books—with one of my favorite tities—in the past year is Seth Godin’s  Small is the New Big. Godin talks about the advantages of running a one-person operation that he’s discovered for himself. Then he shares a wild array of ideas and examples of thriving small operations. 

The articles were gathered from his blog postings so are mostly quite short. Although this isn’t a how-to book, it’s filled with examples of why-to. There are plenty of delightful stories of tiny businesses who are exceptional and all sorts of miscellany that just makes for good reading. 

I love this book because it can be read in fits and spurts—or in longer doses while waiting for a flight or when some entrepreneurial thinking is needed. I also love seeing the reminder that Small is the New Big sitting on my bookshelf.

I think you’d enjoy having it in your library, too.

How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable? ~ Seth Godin