Today, my friend Everett Bogue is re-launching Minimalist Business. Recently, I finished reading Everett’s book and was impressed with the content. It’s full of practical tips that have helped me focus on priorities and push past my fears. If you’re thinking of starting a small business to support yourself or want to take your blog to the next level, Minimalist Business is an excellent resource.
I think Everett’s book fills a huge need. People are hungry for information that can improve their professional lives and help them follow their dreams. For example, over the last few weeks I’ve received an enormous amount of email asking about my little business and why I decided to leave my day job.
It’s my hope this post will answer these questions and inspire you to follow your dreams.
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ~Seth Godin, Tribes
As we’ve learned from the economic downturn the world is always changing. At the end of January, I forced change upon myself and decided to leave my stable, “good” job. Change is scary, risky, and part of everyday life. It’s something we should embrace.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve spent 80% of my time working in non-profits either as a volunteer or staff member. I’m grateful for the time I spent at various day jobs. However, I’ve never felt “safe” in traditional jobs because nonprofits are always subject to funding cuts. So I knew I had to take a risk and try something new.
I wanted to set up a life where I had more freedom. A life that didn’t require “face time” or sitting under florescent lights. And that meant starting my own little business.
Don’t get caught sheepwalking
The author Seth Godin talks about the concept of sheepwalking in Tribes. He defines “sheepwalking as the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line.” I don’t want to be caught sheepwalking or stay at a day job just because the salary and benefits are good.
It’s so easy to get caught up in fear. I can’t say I’ve completely overcome fear. When I start freaking out, I write or go for a walk. Both activities help me figure out where my fear is coming from. Usually, fear has no basis in reality and I do my best to push past the emotion. I’m incredibly lucky because my partner is supportive of my business goals and I have amazing mentors who help keep me focused.
While I have the privilege of worrying about whether or not I’ll meet my life goals, millions of people don’t have access to clean drinking water, have never been to school, or deal with violence everyday. When I think of these things, I realize how trivial my fears are in comparison.
What I’ve learned since I left my day job.
“Professionalism — in particular the notion that experts should confine themselves to their ‘legitimate professional concerns’ and not ‘politicize’ their work — helps keep individual professionals in line by encouraging them to view their narrow technical orientation as a virtue, a sign of objectivity rather than of subordination.” ~Jeff Schmidt
2. Give more than you receive.
3. Ignore the trolls.
4. Stick to a schedule.
5. Be open to feedback.
6. Get enough sleep.
7. Network and then network more.
8. Content is king.
10. Treat your small business, like a business.
11. Politicizing your work isn’t a bad thing.
12. Find a mentor and listen to their advice.
13. Use your extra time to volunteer and give back to your community.
14. Learn to say no.
15. Focus on one task at a time.
16. Continue to expand your knowledge base.
17. You can get more from less.
Right now I don’t have an “escape plan.” But I do have a savings account. If my small business fails I can pay rent and buy food for at least one year. I’m not rolling in money, but I have a safety net.
By living a simple and minimalist lifestyle you can cut unnecessary expenses, focus on work that matters, and give back to your community.