Entrepreneur is a perfectly lovely word that can be roughly translated from two French words meaning to undertake. So what’s fueling all these made-up variations? Here are some of the ones that I’ve seen:

Infopreneur

Mompreneur

Seniorpreneur

Kidpreneur

Telepreneur

Micropreneur

Solopreneur

Mobliepreneur

Not only do these new words lack the musical sound of the original, they also lack gravitas. They’re kind of cute and sound more like hobbies than viable businesses. Can you imagine calling Michelangelo a Marblepreneur? Or John Steinbeck a Storypreneur?

I rest my case.                     

 

Like many people, I became a fan of Malcolm Gladwell after reading The Tipping Point. Not only did I find his ideas fascinating (and applicable to the Joyfully Jobless life), but his storytelling made the book fun to read. So when I saw an article in Time magazine about his new book, Outliers, I eagerly read it to learn about his latest exploration.

This new book looks at extraordinary success. Gladwell contends that talent and, even, genius aren’t enough. Instead, he cites what he calls the 10,000-Hour Rule which says that great achievement is most often the result of constant practice––about 20 hours/week for 10 years, to be exact.

Can you imagine devoting yourself to something that passionately? Would you do it for free? Many people won’t, of course, and consequently will never actualize their full potential. 

The ones who are willing to put in the practice often dazzle us once we learn about them. I was reminded of that when I read a recent edition of Valerie Young’s Changing Course e-zine. She had this little quote from Rachel Ray tucked away at the end of the mailing:  I did 30 Minute Meals for five years on local television, and I earned nothing the first two years. Then I earned $50 a segment. I spent more than that on gas and groceries, but I really enjoyed making the show and I loved going to a viewer’s house each week. I knew I enjoyed it, so I stuck with it even though it cost me.

When I first decided that I wanted public speaking to be part of my business, I made it my policy to accept every invitation that came my way–whether money was attached to it or not. I knew that the only way to polish my speaking skills was in front of other people. And if someone was giving me the opportunity to practice with a live audience, I was going to take it. I even found a volunteer gig as a backstage tour guide at the Guthrie Theater, which gave me additional speaking practice.

Eventually, I began to get calls where I was asked, “What is your speaking fee?” That’s when I turned pro. (That’s not quite accurate; in my own mind, I had turned pro right from the start. It just took a lot of free talks for it turn it into a reality.)

In Phil Laut’s nifty little book, Money is My Friend, he says, “An easy way to create an abundance of clients is to give away your service at the beginning until you have more clients than you can handle or until people force you to accept money. If you don’t like your business well enough to give away your services, this may be an indication that you are in the wrong business. When you have an abundance of clients, it is a good idea to continue to give away a portion of your services, even if you have to refuse the money.”

Think of it as an investment. Think of it as sweat equity. Think of it as the unsung road to success. By all means, think seriously about what you would do for free.

I think the best investment that you can make it to start a business that is so much fun that you don’t care if you go broke. With this approach, you can be certain of success. ~ Phil Laut

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 on Friday 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 last spring called The Art of Entrepreneurship. 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.”

Seth Godin, the most popular business blogger on Earth, recently 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 withinmonths of 9/11. Talk about uncertain times. But uncertain times, frozen liquidity, politicalchange 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

 

At the end of the late night rally in Orlando last week, Barack Obama talked about stories and told the crowd, “Everyone here has a story. I want your stories to be heard.” 

 Marketing genius Seth Godin blogged today about lessons for marketers from the campaign. I’d been noticing how effectively–and ineffectively– storytelling has been used during this campaign. So has Godin, of course. He writes, “Mainstream media isn’t powerful because we have no other choices. It’s powerful because they’re still really good at writing and spreading stories, stories we listen to and stories we believe.”

As everyone knows I’ve become wildly passionate about the power of storytelling as a marketing tool. It’s also powerful in social situations and indispensable if you’re a public speaker. 

Nicole Stone was a participant in the first Compelling Storytelling seminar last February. She’s the owner of Spirited Impact and a delightful young woman to be around. Here’s what she has to say nine months after taking the seminar.

I really feel like everyone who owns a business needs this seminar. Take a break and more than triple your productivity at the same time! It’s working on yourself and on your business all at the same time. It’s the foundation for what we are offering the world.

Take the time to work on yourself and your business. It’s a great way to get a break and be productive at the same time. Built in entertainment, dinner out and reflection, camaraderie and friendships that will last a lifetime.

And I found it was conducive to some real personal reflection and growth which is absolutely necessary for your business to work and grow. I took everything I began at the three days I spent at Compelling Storytelling with Alice and Barbara, and got everything done that I had been putting off for months. 

I also feel that I became connected to my classmates in a deep and lasting way that is coming back to me tenfold.

Compelling Storytelling is a step toward what your heart wants that your mind won’t let you spend time creating.

I found my voice at this seminar and it completely changed my  writing style. I used to feel stuck about how to talk about my business, but now I have the confidence and perspective to write everything myself quite successfully. It’s all because of this seminar.

Alice Barry and I would love to help everyone learn to tell their stories in a powerful and compelling way, but time is running out to join us at the next event which happens on December 2-4. Clear your calendar, book your flight, let us know you’re coming. This could be the most unforgettable trip to Las Vegas you’ll ever take. After all, the odds are much better that you’ll get more back than you spend. Nobody else in Vegas has those odds.

Your job is to make your audience care about your obsessions. ~ Bruce Springsteen

About six weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to the Dale Chihuly exhibit in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I was surprised to open my mailbox this morning and discover a large package from Chihuly Studios. Since I knew I hadn’t ordered anything from there, I thought it might be a belated birthday gift. I was wrong. It was a gift from Chihuly’s executive assistant and included a copy of one his books and a compilation DVD. 

What had prompted this gift? I wasn’t the random winner of a drawing, but the recipient of a thank you that came in response to something I’d sent the artist a couple of months ago. Here’s the original letter I sent:

Like many parents and grandparents, I was delighted to discover your art kit for kids and gave it to my three-year-old granddaughter last Christmas. Long before she was toilet trained, Zoe approached making art with an earnestness and concentration that seemed exceptionally mature. I had also been talking to her about Venice and about your work, which she had seen at Bellagio.

A couple of months ago, Zoe and I began exploring the kit. First we did the Marshmallow Madness exercise and then we went back to her room and talked a little bit about some other things in the book. She turned to a blank page and drew an oval and the little body underneath. I asked what she was doing and she said, “I’m drawing Chihuly as a boy.” While she was working, I said, “You know, Chihuly says he never met a color that he didn’t like.” She didn’t acknowledge that she’d heard me, but kept on working. When I saw the final picture, I knew she had taken in what I said.

So I present to you, a copy of Chihuly as a Boy by Zoe Barron.

Thank you for bringing so much beauty and joy to the world—and inspiring the next generation of artists.

Of course, I was thrilled to get the response, but that wasn’t why I wrote the letter in the first place. Showing appreciation to people who enrich my life is a longtime hobby. Sometimes I get an answer back, but even when I don’t, I know that I’m adding to the pool of kindness in this world. We simply can’t have too much of that.

Genuine giving feeds joyfulness. The more generosity, the greater joy. And we can be more generous than we ever thought possible. ~ Geri Larkin

Here in Las Vegas, we post the odds in our casinos. They are not in your favor. That does not seem to dissuade people from attempting to beat them, of course.

I learned about  more favorable odds from my sister Margaret. Years ago, I was fretting about something–earthquakes or tornadoes, perhaps–and she said, “Barbara, don’t you know the odds are in your favor?”

“What are you talking about?” I asked. She patiently pointed out that even in large disasters, most of the time more people survive than don’t. I’ve lost track of how many times that little tidbit has calmed me down in all sorts of nerve-wracking situations.

With our present economic situation, many people seem to be holding their breath. The media brings us new stories daily of lack and loss. Consequently,  I’ve had my share of e-mail from people wondering if this is a bad time to start a business. While there’s no definitive answer to that, I remind people that the current crisis seems to be most deeply impacting people who have put their trust in others for their financial serenity. At the same time, people who have not exercised their capacity for thinking creatively, may feel that their options are dreadfully limited.

On the other hand, people who have been creating small, thrifty, solid little businesses and have learned to be flexible and build an option bank, are far more relaxed. They know that the odds of surviving the current economic chaos are better for them than for their job-dependent friends. Many of those in Joyfully Jobless Land also are quietly certain that changing times bring with them fresh opportunities. Nice odds.

I’m not the only one to think so. In the past few days, I’ve been polling other self-employment experts and career coaches and there’s been a strong consensus that self-bossers are going to come through this more gracefully than those who accepted the myth of job security. Although I mentioned it earlier this week, if you haven’t seen Seth Godin’s blog piece called Too Small to Fail, I urge you to read it asap. 

Of course, if you want the odds to be in your favor, you also need to participate in stacking them. According to the National Business Incubation Association, 80-90% of businesses are still operating after five years where the founder has received entrepreneurial training and continues with a network group, as compared to a 10% success rate for those who do not receive training and support. 

Those are odds I could bet on.

We must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of our own blessings. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Entrepreneurs have a well-deserved reputation for being independent. This can be both a strength and a weakness. Psychologists tell us that the maturing process happens in three stages. We go from being dependent to being independent to being interdependent. 

Our working lives often follow the same path. Most of us start out working for someone else, go out on our own and may be quite alone at first, then mature into a business that interacts and collaborates with other businesses.

One of the wisest axioms I’ve ever heard is the one that says to support that which supports you. If you are going to be entrepreneurial, that translates into supporting entrepreneurial activities in whatever way you can. 

There are some simple things you can do to use your business as a vehicle for supporting the entrepreneurial spirit around the world. For starters, look for ways to do business with other small businesses. You might pay a little more to shop at an independent bookseller or hardware store, but do it anyway.

When author Barbara Sher learned that her neighborhood florist was in danger of going out of business, she went home and e-mailed her large database inviting them to order flowers from the shop and have them sent to her. She explained how wonderful the flower shop was and what a bright spot it was in her New York neighborhood. She assured us that even a small order would help. That’s the kind of practical support that we can offer one another.

Another way to expand the spirit of enterprise is to contribute to organizations who help others start businesses. For years I’ve been a strong supporter of Heifer who gives livestock to people around the world to get them started in business. These days, I’m especially enthusiastic about Kiva who gives us the opportunity to become micro-lenders for a mere $25. What’s especially fun about the Kiva model is that you get to select the recipient of your loan–and follow their progress repaying the loan. If you haven’t paid them a visit, I urge you to do so. 

Look what Kiva has accomplished in three short years:

 

Total value of all loans made through Kiva: $46,738,210
Number of Kiva Lenders: 348,752
Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva: 65,425
Percentage of Kiva loans which have been made to women entrepreneurs: 77.71%
Number of Kiva Field Partners (microfinance institutions Kiva partners with): 88
Number of countries Kiva Field Partners are located in: 41
Current repayment rate (all partners): 98.69%
Current default rate (all partners): 1.31%
Average size of loan for funding: $456.57
Average total amount loaned per Kiva Lender (includes reloaned funds): $134.09
Average number of loans per Kiva Lender: 3.58

By the way, did you notice the repayment rate? What does that say about the power of enterprising spirits?

Three of my four siblings are coming to visit early next week so that was the impetus for me to go through a stack of magazines and move some to the recycling bin. My decluttering project slowed down, however, when I came across some articles I hadn’t yet read. Three of them were worth passing along to you. Happily, you can find them all online.

The October 13 issue of Newsweek had a special feature on women leaders. My favorite article was movie director Kimberly Peirce’s piece To Make It Big in Hollywood, You Start With a Good Story. What caught my attention is what she says about fear being part of the creative process. Pierce says, “Fear is part of creativity, whatever your job is. It’s part of believing in something and wanting it to happen. So I let it in and I say to myself, ‘OK, you’re scared.’ And then when something works out, I say, ‘Wow! You were scared!'” I’m going to remember that.

The big article goldmine I uncovered is in the September issue of Ode magazine, which always has thought-provoking articles. This issue is especially rich. For starters, there’s retired teach John Taylor Gatto’s piece called Childhood’s End which eloquently discusses why our schools are failing us. I think it’s important for anyone who has come through the school system in the last fifty years or so to understand the philosophy that has driven education. 

Gatto ends the article by issuing a call to arms to parents. He says, “School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers…Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so they’ll never be bored.” 

I also love Gatto’s observation that “genius is as common as dirt.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the piece since I read it and am going to track down his book Weapons of Mass Instruction.

I urge you to read–immediately–Ode’s cover story, In Praise of Failure. It includes wonderful quotes from J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard. While we’ve all heard stories about people who ultimately succeeded after years of failure, this article points out, in the clearest possible way, why success is impossible if we resist failure. In fact, it reminds us that if our energy is devoted to NOT FAILING, we end up in mediocrity. 

Every entrepreneur should have this article at their fingertips to read again and again.

Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. ~ J.K. Rowling

It’s fundraising week at Nevada Public Radio and since I’m an enthusiastic supporter, listener and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me fan, I received a call asking for additional support. The charming volunteer explained all the additional treats I’d receive and I found myself happily giving her my credit card information.

When that was concluded, she said, “We have a matching employer grant. So who’s your employer?”

That’s not a question I get asked very often so I hesitated for a moment before saying, “Barbara J Winter!” I said it with such gusto that it startled her (and me). She laughed, then apologized for doing so, then recovered and said, “Would she like to make a matching donation?” Then it was my turn to laugh. 

That brief encounter also was a reminder that we who are blazing new trails through self-employment must not be intimidated by our minority status.

People who are newly self-employed often find it uncomfortable to be asked, “So what do you do?” A man I knew in Santa Barbara confessed that he’d been self-employed for more than a year before he realized that he was answering that question by sheepishly mumbling, “I own my own business.” Then he’d add, “But I USED to be the director of the YMCA.”

Anyone who has taken the step out of mainstream employment to create something wonderful on their own should be eager to share that. Alice Barry goes a step farther. She told me that if she’s setting up an appointment or meeting she always adds, “I’m self-employed so I’m flexible.” 

Here in Joyfully Jobless Land, we’re not much for titles, but we do love stories. Even an ordinary question like, “What do you do?” can be an invitation to tell a short story. Once you know how to do that, you’ll find yourself welcoming such questions–no matter who is asking.

If you’d like to master telling your story, I know exactly the place you can do just that: Compelling Storytelling, December 2-4, Las Vegas.

Your job is to make your audience care about your obsessions. ~ Bruce Springsteen