As I steady approach my 60th year, one thing I feel about where I am in life – “I’ve only just started”. I certainly have not thoughts about retiring whatsoever! (I probably couldn’t afford to live the kind of life I always thought retirement should be, anyway, truth be told!). And I am certainly not alone! (See Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire; MetLife Study: Living Longer Working Longer)
After the crash in 2007, many even high level workers over the age of 50 found themselves for the first time being laid off, and many of those only being offered jobs that were well below their skill and experience level. Others, disenchanted with, or burned out by, the corporate way of life, are looking for something that provides them with more work-life balance, and something that is more creative and purposeful.
If there is one thing that our podcast, Paycheck To Passion, taught us is that doing something you were passionate about, and making a good living doing, all on your own terms, was entirely possible, especially when you utilize the power of the internet to reach a target audience.
Here are 10 reason why starting a business might be better for you:
The problem with a lot of corporate jobs is that they don’t provide any element of creativity or sense of purpose – you often just feel like a cog in a machine, and often an undervalued and insignificant one at that. When you start your own business you have the opportunity to do something that gives you a sense of purpose, and gives you more time to give back to and be part of your community.
2) No Ageism when you run a business
Age can be a detriment in the corporate world. And there is a ceiling at 65 where you instantly become obsolete. When you are running your business, age is either not a concern, or in a lot of cases can be a positive aspect that adds to your perceived “experience”. In business, it is all about delivering on what you promise – as long as you do that no-one will care how old you are.
3) You can work from almost anywhere
The internet has empowered both businesses and workers alike to escape the bounds of their geographical location. Even corporate workers are enabled to work remotely. But for businesses, even more so. Not only can you tap into a customer base that is potentially worldwide, it also enables you to run your business from pretty well anywhere. Many of us are inspired by the increasing number of business owners who successfully combine travel with running their business. Often, you need little more than a laptop and a mobile phone, whether you are providing services or physical products – nowadays, nearly all of it can be done online.
4) Escaping the tyranny of the “job”
For those of you who have ever been through the HR recruitment process, you’ll understand what we mean! The whole corporate method of hiring is a horrible, impersonal, seemingly arbitrary, exploitative and belittling process. You are expected to work long hours, you could be “laid off” at anytime for any reason; and for what – crap pay and crap benefits. In your business, you are the boss, you decide who you work with and what the conditions are. Keep your customers happy and they will keep coming back time and time again – and you can thrive and enjoy your working experience.
5) You decide who you want to work with
In most corporate jobs you totally at the mercy of every psychopathic coworker or boss – and there seem to be a lot of them! Probably because they are equally as unhappy working there!
In your own business, not only do you get to decide who you you work with, whether it be an assistant, or your own workers etc, but also who your customers are! Have a customer that is a pain in the rear? Fire them. You get to decide who you work with.
6) The flexible work schedule
The problem with so many corporate jobs is that you are expected to work 8am to 5pm, 5 days a week, and that regime just doesn’t give you the ability to handle the vagaries of normal everyday life. By the time you get home you are drained and exhausted! If you have kids, its almost impossible! One of the beauties of running your own business is that you can set the hours you want to work. If you want to work 4 hours a day and that works for you financially, you can do it. If you want to work 8 hours a day, but want your day to be flexible if you have appointments and errands to run during the day and are happy to do a couple of hours in the evening instead – then you can make it so. As we said above, as long as you deliver on what you have promised to your customers, no-one is going to care.
7) More time
This ties into the flexible work schedule point. Unless you are fortunate to have a telecommute job, how much time is wasted everyday in getting ready and commuting to the office. I have heard stories where some people leave at 4.30am and commute 3 or 4 hours – morning and evening – for their corporate job! If you are able to run your business from a home office, you could be saving yourself hours a day. Hours that you can better spend with your friends and family, or taking that walk you never had time for!
That’s not to say a business cannot take over your life – if you let it. But, ultimately, you are in charge of your time.
8) You determine your financial goals
Corporate salaries have not increased much over the past decade. With pressure from countries like India and China where wages are much lower, neither are they likely to get any better anytime soon. However, as a business owner you have control over your own destiny.
It is all in the planning. Do you want to earn enough that affords you the time and life-balance you desire, or do you want to make as much money as possible? Your financial goal is only limited by your own determine to make it happen!
9) You can create a legacy to leave to your children
Whether you plan to sell the business after a period of time, or whether you intend to keep it going so that a child or family member can take it over at some point, or even just manage the day-to-day operations for you, with a business you have the opportunity to build a legacy that will go on, even after you have transitioned into a more traditional form of retirement.
10) Increase your retirement savings
As the owner of your own business you have the ability, under current IRS rules, to put aside a good proportion of your earnings into one or more deferred taxation retirement accounts. This can be done by setting up an IRA/SEP account and (if you are over 50), putting up to a quarter of your income from the business. Another possibility is to defer taxes on your business income by creating a profit-sharing or even setting up your own 401(k). A good financial planner could show all the different ways you can use income from your business to increase your retirement savings in a tax efficient way.
Like to discuss your business idea to understand what would be involved? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule
Recently, I asked a few of my mentors what would be their first step if their business dried up and they had to start again from scratch.
They ALL said that step one would be to start building their email list. That’s because no matter how the rules change in social media – your email list belongs to you. Even though there are many new ways to get in touch with customers including text messages, Facebook chat bots, etc. Email is still going to bring your sales over time.
It is never too soon to start building your list. Any work you put in now will be paid back many fold in the future.
That’s why I’ve developed this checklist so you can be sure you have all the right pieces in place.
Here’s what you need to get started:
An Enticing Lead Magnet
This could be an ebook, video, app, e-course or anything else that has the following characteristics:
A Compelling Opt In or Lead Page
Even though your lead magnet is free, people aren’t going to knock down your door to claim it unless you build its value. That’s why you need to create a lead page that persuades people to fill in your opt-in form.
Keep these tips in mind:
We really like Thrive Themes for lead pages.
A Reputable Autoresponder
Nowdays, it is fairly easy to find an autoresponder that will work for you without spending much money at first. Our two recommendations are Mailerlite (which is has everything you need to get started and is free up to 1,000 subscribers) and Active Campaign (which has more features than Mailerlite and is a good next step).
An Initial Autoresponder Sequence
Generally, this multipart sequence should promote your tripwire product. A tripwire is a very valuable yet inexpensive product. Keep these tips in mind:
A Commitment to Maintaining Your List
It does you no good to go through all these steps if you don’t intend to email
your list regularly. So, commit to emailing them on at least a weekly basis, and you’ll see your list profits grow!
We are the midst of a revolution.
Our society is going through a seismic shift. The shift is as big (if not bigger) that the shift that happened during the industrial revolution. Before the industrial revolution, people lived in smaller towns, they had their own tools, grew their own food, generally traded their special skills for things that they needed but couldn’t make themselves. There were two classes. The nobility and pretty much everyone else. The industrial revolution changed lives. Tools and factories allowed people to find work that paid well. There was an alternative to working on the farm. Unions and social guarantees curbed the early abuses – and the middle class was born.
People could get a job that provided for them for their entire lives. You couldn’t work from home because the assembly line wasn’t there. You needed the tools the company provided you to get your work done.
Technology has changed everything. It is now easier than ever to communicate instantly with anyone around the world. You can buy a laptop for less than $300 and have everything you need to reach potential customers everywhere. And, there are plenty of people from which to find an audience for almost anything you want to teach or sell. The opportunities have never been greater.
But the flip side is that technology and globalization have made it easier for companies to shop for labor all over the world (which drives down wages for workers from first world countries) and also to monitor and control your every movement. Companies can now extract maximum value out of each of your working hours. Pay and conditions are getting worse for people with traditional manufacturing jobs — and I think the downward trend will continue.
The economy is quickly dividing us into two camps – owners (people who can sell their specialized skills) and the taken – people who feel they have no choice but to submit to harsher work environments and lower pay – because they feel they have no choice.
My friend Jeff is an economist. He was 50 years old when he lost his job. He struggled for years before finally finding some part time work at a book store. He still looking for a full time position. He has noticed how over the course of the five years he has been at the bookstore, his work has been increasingly controlled by the computers. When I asked him why he didn’t start his own business (he is fluent in French and Arabic), he replied that he had no idea where to start.
Another friend, Annie, had almost finished her Masters degree in teaching and special education when she had her first child. She made the choice to stay at home with her kids until the first born child was well into college, and the last one was in high school. She home-schooled one of her children because of a learning disability, and through her experience with her son, learned to be a fierce advocate for smart kids who learn differently. When her last child was in high school, she wanted to go back to work to help pay for her children’s college education. The only jobs available to her were educational assistant jobs that paid just over $10 an hour. She was a signature away from teacher certification, but her supervisor refused to sign because it would it mean that he would have to raise her salary. And, although Annie got a lot of satisfaction from the work she did, she was not working in her passion of helping smart kids who learn differently succeed in college. When I talked with Annie, it became clear to me that she had a lot to offer parents and kids who needed a fierce advocate. She just needed the first steps outlined for her in order to be confident enough to turn that into a business.
Julie worked her way through college as a package delivery person for a large shipping company. When she was first hired there were vague promises of a managerial job once she had graduated. She graduated – tens of thousands of dollars in debt – but there was no job. Instead, there was an offer for her to “buy” a contract position with the company. Although her work hours, uniform, and working practices were dictated by the company she worked for, she was considered an independent contractor. She was responsible for using her own car for deliveries (paying to fix the car if anything went wrong), she had no paid sick leave or vacation time. And her pay rate was not that much more than she had made as an “intern”. Julie’s truck broke down – she didn’t have money to fix it and she had to give up the route she had “paid” for the privilege of servicing. In her spare time, Julie made amazing jewelry. She didn’t have time to work on her art because she was driving to meet delivery deadlines. Losing her route was almost a blessing to her, because now she had the time to start the business she had always wanted to start.
This book is written for people like Annie, Jeff and Julie – who are victims of the economy, or who suddenly find themselves looking for meaningful work in a landscape that has completely changed. Do their stories sound familiar? Then, this book is for you.
Jasper and I believe that there is still time to land on the right side of this divide. We started the Paycheck to Passion podcast to help tell the stories of those who have created businesses from their passions in order to inspire people who still haven’t taken that first step. We’ve interviewed nearly a hundred entrepreneurs, and although each story is unique, they all have common threads running through them. Those threads form the weave that makes passion-based businesses work. By reading this book, and applying what you learn here, you can save yourself months (or even years) of trial and error, by discovering the pitfalls in advance and implementing tried and tested strategies that work.
What to expect from this book.
The chapters in this book contain your E.S.C.A.P.E plan – escaping from work that is unfulfilling, or an economy that gives you no opportunity to be creative or to succeed on your terms – a step by step system for creating a passion-based business that works for you. Each chapter contains a story from one of our podcast guests, some practical action steps and tips from people who’ve been there, done that, and have not only got the tee-shirt, but are probably selling their own.
Like to discuss your business idea to understand what would be involved? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule
One of the questions I get asked the very most – is some version of “what is the best (fill in the blank) to use…?
What email system to use? What shopping cart are you using? What should I use to create an opt in page? What about a blogpost?
And… really… there is no right answer for everyone. I can’t tell you what is right for you right here in this blog post – what I can do is tell you what we personally use to run our business. The tools I use might be a good fit for you too.
Business & Product Names, Logos & Taglines
Need a name for a business or product – or maybe a tagline? They can even do you a logo – check out Squadhelp.com
Tools we use to run our website
This site is hosted with HostGator. HostGator has been a bit more of a bare bones experience. Something like MomWebs provides more white glove level support – but for just a little more per month. Our domains are registered with GoDaddy and HostGator.
We host our site on WordPress. Although many of our clients have had great luck with Wix or SquareSpace, I’ve just always used WordPress. It has an almost infinite functionality through plugins and integrates with everything under the sun. AND there is a giant universe of freelancers and/or virtual assistants who can help you build and manage a WordPress site.
We use ThriveThemes. Over the past year or so, ThriveThemes has seriously upped their game for ease of use and the ability to create nice landing and sales pages. The yearly membership gets you access to all of their themes plus other goodies like a countdown timer, a quiz funnel, etc.
One of my favorite part of ThriveThemes is Thrive Architect which is a drag and drop creation tool and ThriveLeads. ThriveLeads is one of the most advanced opt in systems. It does cool things like let you show different calls to action depending on whether someone is already a subscriber or not. (It is also one of the least expensive systems – you can get Thrive Leads on its own for just $67 (but buying the entire Thrive membership is a great deal since you get access to everything… including WordPress themes.
Explainer videos, normally in animated form, have become very popular over the last couple of years, especially when it comes to explaining the benefits and/or features of digital products, especially apps. If explainer videos are what you need then there is software out there that will let you create them yourself – we have used a couple of different ones in the past – but they take a fair bit of learning and a lot of work. Better to let someone do them for you – its worth the expense, honestly. We recommend Zaxaa, who have done all the explainer videos for LinkedSelling, so we know their work. Check out their website here.
We tried just about every email marketing autoresponder system out there a few years ago, and decided that Active Campaign provided the very best value for the money. In addition to simply sending emails, Active Campaign has a CRM component and allows you to create advanced sequences and funnels with great integration with payment, accounting and other systems.
We also have a video tutorial series for Active Campaign that will get you off to a flying start if you choose it for your autoresponder, for only $17.
For people who are just starting out, I’ve been recommending Mail Chimp which now includes tagging and automation in their free basic plan for up to 500 subscribers. I’ve also heard really good things about MailerLite which includes advanced automations and drag and drop landing pages – and is free up to 1000 subscribers and only $10 a month up to 2500.
Shopping Cart – How I Collect Money
At the end of the day, you need to collect money in order to have a business. And, having a way to do that virtually is going to save you a LOT of time and money. Most people start out with a simple paypal button – but once you get more than a few people paying you, you are going to want something that easily connects to your email list and referral program.
My highest recommendation for a shopping cart system goes to ThriveCart. (No relation to Thrive Themes). We’ve been using it here at Magical Marketing Machine for the past few years and no other shopping cart is as feature-filled or easy to use. It easily integrates with Active Campaign and many membership platforms, it has an affiliate program, coupons, upsells, cart abandonment tagging. Plus, the pages were designed for maximum conversion. It handles state tax and VAT really well.
Even better, while most shopping carts charge you a fee *on top* of the fee your merchant account charges – ThriveCart does not.
I have been really excited about the cart for a long time – but I had no idea how to recommend it to you because (like gmail) it has been in limited beta forever. They’ve opened the private beta back up again to friend of their customers. You can now buy a lifetime membership for a fraction of the cost of other big shopping carts ( which charge $97+ a month). Check that out here. (If you decide to buy – I’ll help you get your email autoresponder connected and first product set up.)
Finally, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had ramping up my coaching program is getting a booking system that worked well with multiple calendars. I finally found something that worked really well – Book Like A Boss.
Not only can you easily book appointments, Book LIke a Boss hooks up to Zoom and creates meetings for all of your appointments. You can also hook it up to paypal to allow people to pay for sessions when booking.
Need some help deciding what are best tools for your business? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule
If you want something quick and easy – and only costs $3 forever – try pick.co
Uh oh… it has happened AGAIN… Facebook has changed its algorithm again affecting thousands of solo businesses who have invested SERIOUS time and money into building up their pages.
A few years ago, Facebook was really pushing business pages. Now they are essentially not going to show content from those pages unless you’ve paid for that post to be shown. This is really crazy making – its a total turnaround from what they were doing. People built their business models around organic Facebook reach.
Some of the people in our community have noticed a 90% drop in the engagement rate. Posts are just not getting through… at all.
I’m getting really strange sense of deja vu here… In the 10 years I’ve been online, I’ve noticed that big changes like these are one of the two things that are certain in online marketing. You cannot depend on building an audience in Facebook (or Google or YouTube) because at the end of the day, those audiences don’t belong to you and can be taken away in an instant.
The key to success is creating a list that 100% belongs to you. The easiest way to do that is through building your email list. The people who sign up for the list belong to you. You can download them onto a spreadsheet if you want to – they don’t belong to a third party.
To build you list, you need a solid lead magnet to convince people to sign up for your list. Not sure where to get started with that?
Feeling a bit stuck with your opt-in? Talk about it in our Solo Biz Hacker Facebook group. There are lots of friendly people there to help out.
Over the past almost 9 years, I have worked with some of the top names in the coaching world. These are people with BIG lists. And, they all built these lists by creating joint venture (or promotional) partnerships.
The part that is hard for those of us who aren’t yet “rock stars” in our niche – is finding people who are open to partnering with us. You might be asking…
Where are these people who can grow my business?
Click here to discover the best places to find JV partners. (HINT: you can find them everywhere – you just need to learn how to look.)
P.S. Potential JV partners can be found everywhere, you just need to know where to look and how to tell if they are open to a joint venture with you.
I have a bit of a confession to make. I have been feeling a bit burnt out lately 🙂 Maybe it is the time of year – the luster has worn off the new year – and it seems like I’m just working hard but not really seeing spectacular results.
Did you know that when it comes to business – the one thing that really crumbles entrepreneurs – is overwhelm.
It’s a trap.
You and I are a lot alike I think. It is easy to think that working more is working better. You end up ditching the self care to meet the needs of your clients and your family. You are tired and worn out, and before you give up (like I almost did), I want to give you a message.
The key is to work smarter not harder.
Here’s a few quick tips that I am trying to boost my productivity.
Here’s what you do:
Create a routine that fits your lifestyle. Get up at the same time each morning, drink a cup of coffee, check emails when you first get to the office and then leave them. Block out specific times for phone calls – sticking to a routine is key!
Here’s what you do:
Focus on one thing at a time, so you don’t have to go back and correct your mistakes later. I discovered a new tool that helps you to schedule tasks in your calendar. It is called Plan. You can get it here – https://getplan.co
Here’s what you do:
A lot of people convince themselves that breaks are a waste of time when really, pushing yourself can be counterproductive. Give your brain relax time so it can regain fuel by taking a 10 minute break every hour and a half. I like to crank up the music and dance!
Anyway, I don’t want to eat up too much more of your time. I just wanted to share what I’ve been up to in case it helps you!
PS – In case you were wondering, I got some help with this system from a fellow Time Traders Club Elite Member, Miriam Ortiz Y Pino. She has also helped another member Dave Kinkead (you can read his story here). Do you need help in your business? Join Time Traders Club – it’s free!
Are you struggling to get your list past that first hundred or first thousand? It *is* hard to make a name for yourself when nobody knows who you are yet. Having an online business is good because you can attract clients from around the world – but it is also hard because there are so many other people out there clamboring for attention.
And, sometimes it seems like you are barging into a party where everyone already knows each other. It seems like everyone works as a group – promoting one big guru after another.
How do you get a turn?
Imagine what it would be like if the big group of gurus was promoting YOU! Your opt in numbers constantly growing. Would that be amazing?
This is one of the reasons we love marketing online – getting this type of exposure is possible. And, when you are recommended by someone else – your prospects come to you already trusting that you can provide a solution.
So… the question we get asked a lot is – how do I get people to trust me and recommend me if I’m just starting out?
It actually isn’t as hard as it seems. It is a matter of having the the right approach.
P.S. This video has really great information – and includes how NOT to approach potential partners. I wish I had seen it when I was just starting out.
We have been recently sharing an excellent video by Milana Leshinsky promoting the JV Insider Circle. (If you missed the video – check it out here). A few of you asked why I was promoting something that seemed very similar to Time Traders Club.
There are three reasons – the first is that JVIC isn’t exactly like Time Traders. Their focus is to help you create promotional partnerships. Time Traders Club gets you ready to take part in those partnerships by allowing you to swap time with other members to get all the bits and pieces done before you launch.
The second reason is that if you (eventually) join JVIC, we’ll get a referral fee – and that fee goes toward improving the Time Traders Club experience.
And finally, we really liked the videos 🙂
Here are some suggestions of ways to take part in a big affiliate (or referral) launch and stand out above the noise.
Develop a product that complements the product being sold. Create something that enhances the use or enjoyment of the launch product, which means you can basically piggyback on the buzz of a big product launch.
Let me give you an example…
We’ve been members of JV Insider Circle for 2 years now, we know that you’ll get much more out of your membership if you have something that is “ready to sell”. JVIC provides plenty of guidance on how to get there – but not a lot of hands on help. Our “bonus” for JVIC buyers from our referral link will help you get everything in place. We can’t spill the beans on the whole package yet, but you’ll love it. You’ll get our product for free for signing up for JVIC. It’s a 2 for 1. We are hoping our bonus helps us stand out.
That’s how we are doing it. Here are two other ideas:
Launch your product separately. Then you can approach all of the affiliates who are selling the other product and let them know how they can make even more money by promoting your product at the same time.
Approach the person with the big product directly with a proposal. You might work out a deal where they gives your product away as a bonus. Another idea is for the vendor to offer your product as an upsell. Still another way to work it is to have the vendor promote your product on the backend to his customer mailing list.
So as you can see, there are at least three really good ways to make money with a product that complements an upcoming product launch. The best part of this strategy is that you can literally piggyback on the buzz and promotions put out by another entrepreneur, especially if you work directly with them r to get your product into the hands of his customers.
So take a look around your niche today to see what is launching soon, and then start brainstorming ideas for complementing products you can use to piggyback on the buzz!
So, that’s a quick behind the scenes look at why you might be hearing talk about JVIC a bit in April. We’ve been happy members for two years, so feel free to hit us up if you have ANY questions.
If you would like to find out more – click here.
Here we are on April 4, 2016. We are three months into 2016. Where does time go? It seems like just yesterday it was New Year’s.
I love the energy of New Years. The massive flow of positive energy, optimism good intentions. Gyms are overflowing. People quickly recover from the holidays to focus their energy on creating the very best new year for themselves.
By March, the gyms are MUCH less crowded, and the New Year’s buzz wears off, as people begin to realize that this year will probably NOT be different than last year. They start to give up.
Is that you? I hope not! If it is, why are you stalled? Is it because you don’t have the help you need? Often, that’s exactly the problem. You work really hard – but it is hard to work all by yourself day after day. It is even harder when you are not getting results.
The good news is, we are only a quarter of the way through the year. It isn’t too late to meet or surpass your goals for 2016. You are only a few swaps away from transforming your business.
Want to learn how to find out what YOUR swaps are? What a “swap” is? Join us for a free webinar – 6 Swaps to Solopreneur Success on Wednesday, April 6 at 11am MST