Entrepreneur is not a job title. It’s the state of mind of people who want to change the world. ~ Guy Kawasaki

My definition of job security is having a strong, healthy entrepreneurial spirit. That can only occur if you feed yours regularly with activities and thoughts that are nurturing. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that.

Give yourself a change of scenery It may be efficient for factories to standardize their production lines, but our creative selves thrive on variety. Take a different route when running errands, take a sabbatical, take a vacation, take your laptop to the park. You can be productive without being routine.

Tithe your time. Don’t just send a check to support things you care about. Find ways to share your time. Joe started his own insurance agency and decided he’d spend 10% of his time doing volunteer work. Eventually, he worked his way up to 50% volunteer time. Did his business suffer? Not at all. He made so many contacts along the way that his insurance business grew naturally. This is another way to back up your personal values with action.

Create a research project. What would you like to learn more about? Look for a way to fund your research. Start by checking the grant directories at your local library. You may have a project that someone is eager to fund. Get clear about how this will enhance you personally and entrepreneurially. You could find yourself photographing mosaics in Morocco or interviewing artisans in Ecuador. Use your imagination to come up with a fresh research project that excites you.

Share what you already know. Write a tip sheet and get it published—or publish it yourself and distribute it. Mentor a new entrepreneur or a kid. Put your experiences together and teach a seminar. There’s no better confidence builder than sharing your unique insights and experiences.

Find great entrepreneurial stories. On a recent flight, I read about a mother and her daughters who started a fascinating business called Junk Gypsies. I was so enchanted by their story that I logged onto their Web site the next day and became a customer. There are thousands of inspiring stories out there. Make it your hobby to find them. After all, it’s your tribal history.

Offer praise. Master the art of writing the exquisite fan letter. Let other people know that you noticed. After I read Monica Wood’s breathtaking novel Any Bitter Thing, I began planning a review for my local library Web site as well as Amazon. And the author deserves a letter of thanks as well, I decided, to let her know that her writing has touched her reader. Catch others doing something good and let them know you noticed. It’s good for them and good for your soul.

Learn how to synthesize ideas. We should have learned how to do this in school, but I fear many of us haven’t. For instance, I was reading Jim Miller’s Savvy Senior column in my local paper. He was asked by a reader how to find a reliable handyman. He offered dozens of suggestions. As I read what he had to say, I thought that anyone wanting to have such a business could find some great suggestions for marketing themselves using the suggestions in Miller’s article. It’s equally important to look at enterprises that are nothing like yours and figure out what you can adapt from their way of doing things or their overall philosophy.

Attend with a friend. I always like to see pairs of people showing up together in seminars. I realize that sometimes a friend comes along hoping to discourage their companion from doing anything foolish. However, sharing a learning experience with an entrepreneurial friend can be a great way to extend and deepen the lessons learned. There’s nothing like building dreams with someone who gets it.

Record your journey. Keep an illustrated journal of your entrepreneurial life. Don’t just include the big events; do a photo essay of an ordinary day in the life of your business. The sooner you begin this, the better. It might become your grandchildren’s favorite storybook. Even more importantly, when we record and acknowledge our own lives, it raises our self-worth.

It is when we all play safe that we
create a world of utmost insecurity.
~ Dag Hammerskjold

When I started my first business, I didn’t know another self-employed person. There also was no Internet and not many books that were written for someone wanting to create a one-person operation. It was all trial and error…lots of error.

Today there are abundant resources, but some of the most important things I learned still aren’t being acknowledged. Here are eight things I wish I had known sooner.

  1. The business you start out with is not the business you end up with. By it’s very nature, business is an evolutionary process. As you change and grow—and as the marketplace changes and grows—you’ll make adjustments. The good news is that you can get started wherever and whenever you want without having to know every detail. Be willing for your business to deliver pleasant surprises.
  2. Refuse to take advice from uninformed sources It’s easy when you’re filled with self-doubt to listen to dreambashers. Don’t do it. And don’t solicit advice from those who have failed. It’s amazing to me how often I talk to people who have abandoned a great idea because someone who knew nothing about their business (and probably wasn’t even an entrepreneur themselves) talked them out of it.
  3. Know the difference between an expense and an investment. Many new self-bossers see any outlay of money as an expense. While your business will have costs associated with running it, spending money now to produce a greater good in the future is an investment. Your money needs to go to both.
  4. What you don’t know can be learned. Part of building a successful business is determining which parts of it make your heart sing and which make your heart sink. Once you know that, you can farm out the parts that you’re not good at. Equally important is learning how to research your ideas and connect with informed sources. If you operate on the assumption that you can acquire the information and skills you need at every stage of development, you’ll always have the pleasure of being a voluntary student.
  5. Personal growth is a daily activity. Paul Hawken says, “Being in business is not about making money. It’s a way to become who you are.” I became an entrepreneur because I was curious about what I could become. Self-employment continues to be my best teacher. There’s a basic truth you need to keep in mind: you can’t outperform your self-image. In order for your enterprise to reach it’s fullest potential, you have to reach yours. An occasional seminar or personal growth book or CD isn’t going to have the impact that daily work on your self will. Happily, there’s an abundance of tools to help you do just that.
  6. Don’t confuse a project with a dream. Your dreams are your ultimate destination; a project is a step along the way. Too many people use a project failure as an excuse to abandon their dreams. Know the difference.
  7. Patience is your best friend. There’s a fine line between being patient and being a procrastinator. It seems to me that what many people call failure is simply running out of patience, giving up before their idea had a chance to blossom. For most entrepreneurs, patience is an on-going challenge.
  8. Know the difference between taking a risk and taking a calculated risk. Timid people who are not self-bossers think that you’re a wild person jeopardizing your family and finances. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs take risks, but they’re cautious, calculated ones based on research—and intuition. Part of the appeal and adventure of being joyfully jobless is not always knowing exactly how things will turn out.

By Bizymoms

There are many of us who have that proverbial entrepreneurial fire in the belly, but sometimes we just tend to miss the signs. If the constraints of your job are getting too much for you to handle, perhaps you ought to look for the signs whether it is your natural entrepreneurial spirit that is stifling you in a typical “9 to 5” routine that offers little excitement and a lot of bureaucracy and boredom.

Here are 10 sure fire signs that should tell you that it is time to get out of the rat race and embrace your entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. You do not get repelled at the thought of becoming a “work at home” dad or mom. You are mentally prepared to leave the frills of an office environment and ready to start small, even from your home and without any support staff or fancy overheads that you could afford at your job.
  2. You have a family history of entrepreneurship. It could be your parents or even  your grandparents who were entrepreneurs in their own right. Perhaps in your younger days there was a time when you imagined yourself becoming an entrepreneur one day just like them, and now that thought keeps revisiting you.
  3. You are not passionate in your current job, and in fact at previous places of  employment you have remained unenthusiastic. Even the frequent change of jobs has not been able to help you find the “right” job for you.
  4. You are excited, not in the office environment, but out in the marketplace where you meet customers. You like to get involved with the customers’ problems and solve them with a personal interest, quite unlike your dull behavior at the office.
  5. You dislike taking orders from your superiors and working within the prescribed set of parameters. You like to set your own pace of work and develop your own style of functioning.
  6. You get excited about new business ideas, and like to be innovative even if your employers are conservative and do not agree to your out-of-the-box proposals.
  7. You have discussed the idea of starting out on your own with your family and friends frequently. The steam of this idea has refused to fizzle out, and you are constantly thinking about it.
  8. You have saved enough money that is required to start a small business. You do not like to fritter away your savings on luxuries, and have rather kept the money in a secret hope of providing fuel to your entrepreneurial ambitions someday.
  9. You do not mind working hard and there is no laziness or lethargy in your approach towards work. However, it is the lack of independence and the politics at work that tires you down.
  10. You are a natural at creating a network of friends, acquaintances and clients. You are extrovert by nature and like to create new opportunities out of your networks.

If you find some or all of the above-mentioned signs matching with your personal profile, perhaps you ought to consider giving up your comfort zone at your current job, and take a plunge into the challenging, uncharted waters of entrepreneurship.


Bizymoms has been dedicated to helping women for over 10 years! Visit today to enjoy our interactive message boards, informative articles, help and advice from the Bizymoms’ Home Business Support Team and achieve your own work from home dreams with our home business start up kits.

We’re all pilgrims on the same journey,
but some pilgrims have better roadmaps.
~ Nelson deMille

New ideas, information and inspiration arrive in your mailbox (your real mailbox, not the one on your computer) six times a year when you subscribe to Winning Ways newsletter.

In my own journey, I’ve discovered that just wanting to grow and change isn’t enough. We need tools, ideas, reminders and role models to keep us moving ahead. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Winning Ways. That and much, much more!

This isn’t a slick and glossy publication; it’s more like a scrapbook of the good things I’ve uncovered that I now use in my own business. Each issue brings you ideas, information, inspiration and insights on the Joyfully Jobless Journey. You’ll find:

  • Creative ideas for turning passions into profits
  • Profit center ideas and success stories
  • The best books for self-bossers
  • Shoestring marketing tips
  • Resources to feed your entrepreneurial spirit
  • Fresh ideas to spark your imagination
  • Ideas for taking care of the boss
  • Tools for helping you tune into opportunity

So while you’re busy building your business, I’m busy researching books, articles, blogs and Websites looking for the very best ideas to pass along. My hours of research will save you time—and costly mistakes.

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Give Winning Ways a try and you’ll see why every day brings mail like this one from Jean in Ireland:

You have no idea what your newsletter means to me. Winning Ways has sustained me on an inspirational path all through last year when my beloved dad was diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer in February. The sight of those bright, cheery envelopes bringing each new issue kept me connected and inspired all the year through. How I love to see e-mails from your site, but nothing beats the morning sound of the postman’s flop of an envelope on my hall floor. Thank you for all your inspiration and motivation. May you be truly enriched as you have enriched me.

If you are living or you want to live the Joyfully Jobless life, if your idea of building a business is as much about having fun as it is about turning a profit, if you are part of the new breed of entrepreneurs that see self-employment as an opportunity for personal growth, Winning Ways is for you. After all, lifestyle is just as important as livelihood.

Now in its twenty-fifth year, Winning Ways continues to be a favorite of intrepid entrepreneurs around the world. In fact, many longtime subscribers tell us they keep every issue, referring back to them again and again as they’re growing their own businesses. Not only l save you time—and costly mistakes.

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Lori, California

One of the most difficult things for new entrepreneurs is the isolation that often accompanies launching a business. If you plan to work alone, you can head off the blues by incorporating these ideas into your schedule.

Know your own rhythms. Plan your working time to take advantage of your high-energy times and don’t push yourself during your low-energy periods. You’ll not only accomplish more, you’ll feel more harmonious and that, in turn, will keep you in touch emotionally as well.

Break up your day. Run errands, make phone calls, get away in the middle of your working day. Some self-bossers think running your own errands is a waste of valuable creative time. I disagree. A short change of scenery coupled with a bit of physical activity is energizing. You’ll return refreshed.

Create a Master Mind Group. This idea was first popularized by Napoleon Hill in his classic success handbook, Think and Grow Rich. Meeting regularly with a small group of enterprising people provides creative stimulation — and keeps you accountable.

Use background music. London-based needlework/knitting designer Kaffe Fassett spends long hours alone in his studio. He acknowledges the companionship of the BBC’s classical music station. I feel the same way about Minnesota Public Radio. Classical or instrumental music makes the best soundtrack for your work.

Leave some time unstructured. Being spontaneous is as important as being efficient. At least once a week, do something that’s a pure diversion. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, urges her readers to make an Artist’s Date once a week and use it to explore a place that stimulates creative thought. Daydreaming in your back yard is also wonderfully therapeutic.

Plan a collaboration. When she was in college, my daughter went to Europe by herself. She became an enthusiastic proponent of solo travel, although she frequently would spend a few days traveling with others she met on the way. When they tired of each other or had different destinations in mind, they parted ways. You can adopt this idea for your business. While you may not want a long-term partnership, you might find working on a project with another person rewarding and fun.

Attend seminars. While all self-bossers are in charge of their own growth and education, savvy ones know that there are fringe benefits in participating in programs designed for enterprising folks. You never know who you’ll meet.

Have a change of scenery. A temporary move can recharge your batteries. If you live in the city, take a walk in the country — and vice versa. Take your laptop to a coffee shop and work in a fresh place. If you feel stuck or worn out, put on your walking shoes and go to the mall. Being in the same place day in and day out can dull our creative spirit. Move it around.

Reward yourself. There’s a good reason why big companies have contests and prizes for achievement. When you’re on your own it’s equally important to plan ways to pat yourself on the back. When you’re in charge, the prize can be absolutely perfect.

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Almost everyone who chooses to become self-employed faces a barrage of questions from dreambashers and skeptics. The most popular question is, “How can you give up your security?” I am tempted to say, “You mean a puny little health insurance policy and two weeks’ vacation?”

There are tradeoffs, of course, but the skeptics have no idea what they really are. When I traded in my job, here’s what I got back.

Mobility. I can live anywhere I want or live nowhere if I want. With today’s technology, running a business is only a cell phone and laptop away.

Creativity. Never again do I have to experience the frustration of being unable to bring my ideas to life. Like most self-bossers, I have discovered that ideas beget more ideas. Now I get to try them outÑthe good ones and the bad.

A lovely working environment. No cubicle or windowless office could possibly be as welcoming as my home office. I can listen to classical music, burn incense, watch my orchids bloom. If I had pets, they’d be in here, too.

Personal growth. Running a business is the ultimate seminar in self-discovery. No year in business leaves me the same person as when the year began.

Security. When most people think of security, they think of health insurance, a regular paycheck, etc. When I think of security I think of knowing—absolutely—that I have the ability to create everything I need and want regardless of the economy or world events.

Values in action. What I am most passionate about is what I express through my business. I never have to compromise the things that matter most to me.

Variety. Doing the same thing, in the same place, with the same people day after day is death to the creative spirit. I love doing many things, but I don’t want to do any one of them every single day.

Freedom. Now more than ever our freedom is threatened. Participating in one of our greatest freedoms, the free enterprise system, is standing up for this valuable gift. People who take freedom for granted are most likely to lose it.

Health and longevity. Studies show that people who love what they do for a living are apt to live longer and age more dynamically. Without the stress that accompanies most jobs today, we are free to become as healthy as we can be.

Fascinating friends. I love being around people who are passionate about the contribution they’re making in the world, who are excited about new ideas, who are committed to their own growth. I can’t imagine spending time complaining about my supervisor, the company, or co-workers.

Mistakes. Yes, you read correctly. I have no fear about making mistakes and even failing miserably sometimes. It’s part of the learning process. It’s also really empowering to know I can make mistakes and it’s not the end of the world. Most of the time it’s a learning opportunity.

Perfect benefits. Being the boss means I get to decide what benefits I should give myself. Retirement accounts, health insurance, and time off are available to the self-employed, too. The difference is we get to decide what the package should contain. Mine once gave me an eight-month travel sabbatical.

Tax advantages. The American tax system is structured to favor the very wealthy and the self-employed. I may never love paying taxes, but I am delighted to take advantage of the breaks given to a small business.

Lifelong learning. For me, the best thing about being self-employed is that it gives me a perfect excuse to keep learning. Staying curious is also essential to longevity and personal growth.

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Finding our passion is really learning to hear the voice of our heart. This voice is never timid, lukewarm, or insipid. It doesn’t use the word “should.” When we connect with an idea, object, or person that generates passion, the voice of our heart exclaims, “That’s for me!”

Unfortunately, that voice has many enemies that try to drown it out. Our own doubts, fears, and lack of confidence can dim it—and so can the opinions of others, a busy schedule, and lack of self-awareness. Even so, no matter how deeply it gets buried, the voice of our heart keeps trying to be heard. How can we turn up the volume?

Accept responsibility for it. Finding your passion is a do-it-yourself project, one that requires constant monitoring of your feelings, imagination, and self-image.

Make self-discovery a high priority. The more you know about yourself, the easier it is to hear your heart speak. Self-discovery is not a one-time experience. It take place over a lifetime and demands that you keep asking questions, trying new things, and staying open to new possibilities.

Follow your hunches. If your intuition is urging you to learn the tango, don’t dismiss it. Remember how you felt as a child when you came running home excited about something you had done in school and nobody would pay attention? When we ignore our hunches, we impose that same damper on ourselves.

Dump your doubts. Anytime we have an unrealized dream, there’s a good chance that we also have an excuse to explain why we haven’t done what we wanted to do. Stop treating your excuses as the voice of reason, admit that they’re the story you made up, and hit “delete.” Realize, too, that it’s possible to keep your doubts and still take action.

Understand that routine can be the enemy of passion. If you do everything in the same way at the same time day after day, you may become efficient, but you won’t become passionate. Passion comes when we shake things up, allow ourselves to be surprised, explore. You can’t do that if you’re tied to a rigid schedule.

Know that you are capable of multiple passions. Studies have shown that the more sources of passion we have, the happier we are. Passions change during different stages of our lives. Many people seem to think they’re going to find One Grand Passion, but people who live passion-filled lives are usually passionate about many things.

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Albert Einstein once pointed out that everything should be made as simple as possible — but no simpler. This certainly can be applied to any business that wants to keep its equilibrium.

For most entrepreneurs, that requires constant vigilance since a business can become complicated and cumbersome in the blink of an eye. Here are some guidelines to incorporate into your business:

Make simplicity a goal. It’s not enough to say you want to simplify your business. Identify specific, measurable results that will indicate that you have made your systems, marketing, accounting, etc. as simple as possible.

Work on one profit center at a time. Give a single project your full attention by keeping papers or items related to other projects out of sight. When it’s time to move on to the next project, stash things related to the last project in a file or closet or drawer.

Avoid confusion. “Clutter and messy work areas cause confusion and irritability,” observes Alexandra Stoddard. “Give your mind a spa and take some time out to rearrange your office. Block off a few hours on your calendar and use the time to putter. Edit out the unnecessary.”

Identify spendthrift behavior and eliminate it. New gadgets and technologies can be seductive, but refuse to purchase anything for your business unless it makes a positive contribution.

Keep projects separate. If you manage several profit centers, color code the work in each of them for ease in locating and filing.

Keep a single calendar. A portable system such as Filofax is ideal. If you write appointments, deadlines, etc. in several locations, you’ll waste time transferring them from place to place.

Hire a professional organizer to help you develop the best system for you. Make certain you understand how to maintain it as easily as possible.

Clean out your computer and cabinet files at regular intervals. Make a note on your calendar every 60 or 90 days to tidy up so things don’t accumulate.

Designate space. My grandmother’s favorite saying was, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” As I’ve discovered, uncluttering is as much about creating places as it is about throwing away.

Identify your nemesis and make a special effort to deal with that. Going after the biggest problem — and solving it — often makes solving lesser problems a snap.

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As I was busily rearranging the hotel ballroom where my seminar was to be held, a man arrived, marched to the front seat, sat down, folded his arms over his chest and said in a demanding voice, “This better be good!” I was quite certain that he was about to be disappointed.

During the break, another man rushed up to me, eyes glowing, and said, “I can’t believe what’s happening. I wasn’t even supposed to be here tonight. I came to take notes for a friend who was called out of town. Already I have thought of three businesses I can start!”

Every seminar I teach has a variation of this theme. While the information is the same, some people leave with nothing and others leave with more than they expected. How can you get even more out of the classes and seminars you attend?

Having spent a lot of time on both sides of the desk, here are a few tips I’ve garnered as a participant and a teacher:

Be responsible for what happens in the classroom. Do you realize, for instance, that you can help the leader do a better job? By nodding, smiling, responding, you can encourage — or discourage — the person leading the seminar. Nonverbal communication is strong in a classroom and good teachers are paying attention to the signals their students send. If you frown or appear indifferent, you may have a negative impact on the person leading the course. By supporting the teacher, you will get a better class. No kidding.

Come ready to learn. Leave your problems and worries outside the room and let your sense of adventure take over. For a few hours, suspend your resistance and be open to the ideas and information you’re receiving. Treat your learning experiences like a mini-vacation and be willing to encounter the unexpected.

Pick the best seat in the house. Arrive a bit early and select the best vantage point you can get. Make sure you can see and hear what’s going on. The farther to the front that you place yourself, the fewer the distractions.

Take two sets of notes. Make one set factual (i.e., important points given in the lecture, etc.) and another of ideas that you get during the course of the lecture. In other words, begin applying ideas to yourself immediately.

Be a regular student. Of course, expanding your knowledge can be fun and interesting, but there are larger benefits. Seminars and classes can strengthen your self-confidence, motivate you, awaken ideas and thoughts that have been dormant. You can even transform your life. Only Cinderella changed hers with a magic wand; modern versions of the story such as My Fair Lady and Educating Rita rely on education to perform such miracles.

Take your self-education seriously. And while not all seminars will be equally powerful, you’ll still receive the benefits that come from keeping your curiosity alive.

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Here at Winning Ways, we don’t use the word “should” too often, but here are five things you really should consider giving yourself:

A massage therapist who makes house calls. Having your massage at home eliminates the stress of driving when it’s over and saves you time, too. Besides that, it’s a little bit of luxury to have your own in-home therapist. A friend of mine schedules hers late in the evening and can count on an especially good night’s sleep to follow.

A medical savings account. Although they’ve been around for a while, MSAs have not been well publicized, but if you’re self-employed you’ll want to find one for yourself (unless you live in a more civilized place where health insurance isn’t an issue). Essentially, an MSA allows you to put money into a special account to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses. This money is not taxed, however. One carrier that offers medical savings accounts is Blue Cross.

A techie friend who knows more than you do. Actually, I have two such friends. (To be honest, almost all my friends know more than I do about technology.) Blair Hornbuckle and Peter Vogt are two gentle giants who patiently coax me into learning new things. And on a recent afternoon when I thought I had erased my hard drive, Peter dropped everything and came to my 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 (although big firms aren’t as prestigious since the Enron scandal) 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. So find an accountant who works from home or from a very small office — one who is self-employed.

A diary. 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 five-year diary and write in it faithfully, you’ll have an ongoing account of your growth. As you jot down the events of your day, it’s fun to look back at the same date a year or two ago to see what you were doing.

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